THE THIRD DEGREE
W. Bro. Ernest H. Shackleton
Templars Lodge No. 4302
THE RAISING OF OSIRIS
Truth is within ourselves. It takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe,
There is an inmost centre in ourselves
Where Truth abides in fullness; and to know
Rather consists in finding out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape
Than by effecting entrance for a light
Supposed to be without.
ROBERT BROWNING, "Paracelsus"
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.
And are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.
In whom all the buildings fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.
In whom we also are building together an habitation of God through the Spirit.
(EPHESIANS 11, 19-22)
We are surrounded by great mysteries, of which the wisest amongst us knows no more than the simplest, and by great facts which are entirely unaffected by the babble of men.
The G.A. has set up the Throne upon which the lapse of ages has no power to impair, and has indelibly inscribed in its secret places the immune path of the just in character of light, embodied in the varying motions of the heavenly orbs.
(W. MARSHAM ADAMS)
The past which is no longer in existence, the future which is not yet is contained as a germ in the present.
He who contemplates nature must live in those ages as yet uncreated as well as in those which have passed away. The future as well as the past are even more real than the present, which does not exist, since from one second to another time climbs up into the future only to fall back into the pit of the past. Eternity is the only reality.
The future is as real as the past. The world to come is in the mind's eye as substantial as the world of long ago. The world to come is there, in the future eternity, just as the world of long ago is there, in the eternity of the past, and all is present in the Absolute.
To Him who did the Temple rear,
Who lived and died within the Square
And now lies buried none knows where
Save we who Master Masons are.
(FIRST SECTION, THIRD LECTURE)
To Him who most things understood,
To Him who found the stones and wood,
To Him who nobly shed his blood
In doing well his duty,
Blest be that age, and blest each morn,
On which these three great men were born,
Who Israel's Temple did adorn,
With Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
(THIRD SECTION, THIRD LECTURE)
There is no death unto Thy servant but a passage.
(BOOK OF THE DEAD: RITUAL OF THE TOMB)
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
(DANIEL 12, 3)
The House I build is great, for great is our God above all gods.
The thought processes which accompanied the Ritual of the Mysteries were greatly more important than the Ritual itself. Truth is the ground of Science, the centre wherein all things repose, and is the type of Eternity.
(SIR PHILIP SIDNEY)
There are some who claim an origin based on the deeper mysticism of the Craft and who trace its descent from the remotest sources of Ancient Wisdom. There are others who are concrete in their views and see on the material things, and there is a third who bridge the gap between these two and see that in our Rituals there lies embodied in the symbolism philosophic ideas. The mystic teaching undoubtedly stretches far back and true symbols are earthly representations of spiritual truths — a making visible of an idea.
Freemasonry has so much in common with all the ancient religions and mysteries, the age-old teaching is so perpetually true that nothing can alter it in all time, either in its exoteric form or on it esoteric side which is the inner and spiritual. It is by way of these old symbols that we leave this material world and gain truth absolute. Seeking to build the bridge between the world and the unseen, to unravel the great mystery of the purpose of life, whence we have come, whither we are going and why.
For many thousands of years there have existed these old Mystery Religions which seem to have come from the far-off, remote places of the East and permeated through the Ancient Races and peoples of the world, spreading westward to the great centres of the old civilisations of the Mediterranean world, which very gradually, almost imperceptibly raised the conception of man to a very high level of spirituality. They covered a very great range of ideas, a varied assortment of characters and outlooks, suited to all stations of life, to all grades of intelligence, culminating in the Eleusinian and the Samathracian, the Mysteries of Mithra, and perhaps the greatest of them all the Egyptian Mysteries of the Dead, with their complicated rites and ceremonies, and their wonderful rituals.
They supported the hope of man through many centuries, possessed many great moral and spiritual values, and so powerful a hold did these mysteries obtain on the imagination of the people and so deeply did they become engrained on their lives and actions that much from them still persists in this modern age in various phrases of thought and practice in everyday life.
As we endeavour to recapture the past and pierce the inexorable silences of perished centuries and to understand the everlasting problem which confronts man now, just as it did then, as we glimpse their struggles to bring man into touch with the Eternal, we trace their notions of secrecy, of symbolism, of mystical brotherhood, of sacramental grace, of the three phases of purification, illumination and resurrection to perfection.
The great River of Truth, into which all these tributaries flow, is still running in full flood, with our Brethren of the Craft absorbing its tenets and increasing its force more and more, as the years fly past, striving at a perfect humanity, and passion of the Deity, a Fellowship of suffering as the precondition to participation in the Divine.
In the Ancient days by the appreciation of the unity of all Life, the mysterious Harmony of the least and nearest with the greatest and most remote, the conviction that the life of the Universe pulsated in all its parts, by their cosmic consciousness they inculcated the great lessons of humbleness and adoration due from the Creature to his Creator. How much of this Cosmic aspect have we retained in our Lodge to-day? So much that our every movement serves but to emphasise those unalterable truths.
They pictured a great quest for a vision of the Divine, of efforts to solve the greatest mystery of all, the mystery of the G…, as Cicero has put it "so that men might live with joy and die with better hope." The problem of the nature of the soul, of immortality and the way of purification and the preparation in life for the Life Everlasting.
In almost all the old Mysteries there was a great multiplicity of Gods, of aspects of the manifold forces of the Universe and of the trials and struggles of nature but gradually there came the perception that all these mysteries led to the realisation that there was only "ONE," that all is but a manifestation of that "ONE" and there developed an "intuitional faith." The Ritual of the Brotherhoods promoting the equality of mankind.
Educated men like Plutarch, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Julian and Proclus, who were members of the Mysteries expressed something of the ideas of those mysteries in their writings and teachings without disclosing any of the details of the Ceremonies.
It is a fact that there was a strong bond of fellowship among the members which made the burden of life more tolerable.
Through the ages one increasing purpose runs, the march of mankind being towards God. That there is in man a religious instinct the satisfaction of which but quickens that instinct and lays bare the greater need, but there is a native idealism and spirituality in our being which transmutes the acts of worship into uplifting sacraments.
In their beginnings they were simple enough, they arose from the observation of the patent facts of recurring death and resurrection in nature.
The sun being of supreme importance to man and from the beginning of Time has been a Centre of Ritual Ceremonies which primitive man in his will to live, being the source from which all his sustenance emanates. He formed a sympathetic Magical Ritual wherein having asked for what he desires he performs a play to illustrate what it is he wants done. These pantomimic ceremonies are probably the first form of dramatic art and may be said to have begun in this way. Leading from all this there sprang up propitiation rites, of sacrifices to please a supposedly angry Deity.
Numbers, letters and grammatical shapes, colours and even sounds came to be used as symbols of secrets and to possess magical properties, which could be invoked to aid in forming spiritual images in the minds of the ritualists piercing the darkness of a natural H… w… penetrating the earth illusion to probe for that which is lost.
It is not, I believe, that our present-day ritual is a direct derivation from the exact forms used in the remotest antiquity, but beyond doubt, in my mind, I feel that the connection remains unbroken in that the high doctrines and mystical knowledge implicit in our Ritual were used by the great Masters and that our Craft is carrying on in its truest form the essentials of a great inherent faith and purpose, to arouse and develop that vital and immortal principle on the growth of which the true Raising of any and every Candidate depends. An endeavour to awaken the mentality of the soul consciousness into an awareness of the Divine.
A wonderful Mystery Teaching has evolved from these first plays forming the basis of all philosophies and true sciences, a teaching of the evolution of the Soul and of its journeys, the history of the one is the history of us all, and within the life of an individual Brother is transacted the whole of that great drama which portrays the Birth and destiny of himself, destined to fill a part in the building erected by the G.A.O.T.U.
Primitive man has had, from the very beginning, a distinct natural conception of a Great Creator, a God behind the gods.
That God is man, just as man partakes of the nature of God, the twain are one and indivisible in essence, major and minor, condensed and dissipated instances and emanations of that great all-pervading Spirit which interpenetrates all matter, of which, indeed, matter itself is merely the palpable and visible type.
These simple truths were well understood by the truly learned priesthood of Egypt, and to-day it is our constant endeavour to restore the esoteric processes by which man communicated spiritually and personally with his Creator, and to centre within himself the power to enable him to hope that at last he would dwell with Him after the separation caused by the material barrier which would be broken down after death. The descent into Hell and the resurrection and divine rebirth of the Soul are the most powerful restatements and corroborations of the Mysteries which the mind can conceive. As they have put it "Life is desirable, yet, in the confines of this perishable body, it is only a preparation, a stage upon the road to death, man having vanquished for ever his terror of the unknown, there remains but one step further and ge will despise all earthly joys, his eyes being fixed upon the vision of eternal bliss."
To-day, perhaps, we enjoy more elevated conceptions of God, and a purer and clearer intuition, but the old symbolism must still express their vision, there can be no others.
Perhaps it is by these simple, true, and more direct methods of divine communications, of which we glean such lovely lights from our Sacred Scriptures, to early man God was much more real than to his successors, they were in touch with the simplicities of an earlier form of religion or divine knowledge, they were better able to discern the direct and unpolluted principles of communication between mankind and the Deity. One is impressed with the fact that early man not only valued personal communication with his Creator, but made use of it in his daily life. It governed all his actions and considerations, conscious and sub-conscious.
In the enacted passion drama of the resurrection of Osiris the Initiate read the promise of his own triumph over death when the soul would ascend through all the spheres to the highest Heaven. He believed that in some way he would be brought into companionship with his Brothers in the Eternal Hereafter, he saw in the figurative death and resurrection a symbol of his own deathlessness, and brought about a real hope of a unity with the M.H. "who wishes to be known and is known to his own."
There was something, whether doctrine, symbol or divine drama, which could not be imparted except by initiation to those duly qualified to receive, a supernatural revelation which gave the recipient a new outlook upon life, the world and the Deity.
It was a profound intuition of the Spirit in Love or foretaste of that mystic experience in which we know as we are known in the progressive satisfaction of the two eternal passions of selfhood, the desire for love and also for knowledge.
There was a sacred tradition of ritual and cult usages expounded by the great teachers and handed down by a succession of Masters.
Plato informs us that the Orphic mysteries promised escape from ills beyond death.
There is a Syrian Stone of Witness, a valuable historical monument set up at Cho-Ang to commemorate the coming of the Luminous Religion, to the Eternal memory of the Law of Light and Truth, from it we learn that the teachings about the Invisible World of the Dead sprang from a Common Root far back in world history, even from the Creation and Deluge Brick Tablets of Ancient Sumer.
We find there Asari-Marduk, the appointed Avenger and Triumphant Redeemer of Mankind, who "raises the dead to life, who commands that a great ship be built to cross the great Waters of Death to attain Life and Immortality." Then at a later age the Egyptian God of the Ferry Boat which the Pyramid Texts describe as the "Boat of the Sun," opening the Gate of the "Three Constant Principles" to introduce Life and destroying Death. Also in the School of the Great Boat was taught the Law of the True God and the "Three One" teaching. That for which you look, and which you see not, is called I; that towards which you listen, yet hear not, is called Hi; what your hand seeks and yet feels not, is called Wei. These Three are inscrutable and being united form only ONE. Form without Form, Image without Image, an indefinable Being. "Precede It, and ye find not Its beginning, follow It and ye discover not Its end." "Remember that a journey of a thousand Li commences with a single step — and that the country to which we wend our way is Spiritual and is accessible only to those who are spiritual, the Realm of Boundless Light and Inexhaustible Life."
The Cosmos was an image of God as also was man. God is in all and through all, and by a knowledge of the ALL one attains a knowledge of God, whose nature is revealed in the mysteries of creation, generation, decay, rebirth and universal law.
Marcus Aurelius says "All things are intertwined, the one with the other, and sacred is the bond; there is practically nothing alien to one to the other, for all things have been marshalled in order and constitute one Cosmos. For there is both one Cosmos of all things, and One God through all and one Substance, and one Law, and one Common Reason of Intelligent Beings and one Truth." God was conceived as the World or again as the Spiritual element or vital Force of the World.
Such was a fixed article of faith in the Mysteries, they professed to bring the initiated into union with the God of all, and to impart to him a knowledge of the Secrets of Nature in all its phases.
Anrich speaks of the Mysteries, "even in those far-off days, that they possessed the authority of a venerable and immemorial antiquity." They gave greater satisfaction first of all to the senses and emotions, in the second place to the intelligence and finally and chiefly to the conscience. There was beauty in their ritual, truth in their doctrines, and a superior good in their morality. Illustrating the purification of the soul in its ascent from the world of Sense to the world of the Spirit.
The doctrine of man as a microcosm of the macrocosm, is one to which frequent expression is given in the mystic-astrological-theology. Plotinus argues that the reverent contemplation of the world brings the soul into contact with God.
The Rites were portrayals of the Mystery of Redemption, wherein every Candidate as he progressed in the Ceremonies believed that he became "twice-born," a new man and passed in a real sense from death unto life. In the Hermetic revelation it was asserted "There can be no salvation without regeneration."
Apuleius speaks of "a voluntary death" of "approaching the realm of death" in order thereby to attain his Spiritual birthday, whose followers were "as it were, Reborn."
Proclus in a description of the rites of Dionysos says "The Priests commanded that the Candidate should be buried except for the head in the most secret of all initiations, for to such a figurative death a new life succeeded by a spiritual resurrection."
In the Mithraic, after washings, branding on the forehead and a sacred meal the Ceremony of R… followed, and the Candidate was re-united with the former Companions.
After the R… of a Candidate Hermes closes the Dialogue with the significant words which contain the gist of the whole experience: "Thou hast come to a spiritual knowledge of Thyself and our Father," and the Candidate hears the Prayer of Praise for Regeneration — which ends, "I have become inspired of God and arrived at the Circle of Truth."
In the Temple of the Third Degree of the Egyptian Mysteries, the Great Pyramid, known as the "Light" the Papyrus of Sinahit calls the Brethren the "Princes of the Circle."
The Ritual of Ancient Egypt, the Secret Doctrine of the Light was a majestic conception of time and space, of life and eternity, of the earliest Wisdom, and of sublime thoughts on the departure of mortals to everlasting life.
Masham Adams has traced for us in the Great Building the Chamber of Initiation, the Chamber of Darkness of Second Birth, the Middle Chamber of Justice, the Chamber of the Moon and the Great Temple of Resurrection, the Hall of Truth and the Double Hall of Truth within, which is the Chamber of the Open Tomb, the Sacred Place of Heaven.
The Creed of Egypt is one of Resurrection and Judgement.
The whole progress is full of references to "Going in" "Coming out" of "Going in after coming out" passing Gates, Gateways, Doors and Stairs. All stages of Spiritual growth. How a Candidate on his Entrance into Light is instructed in Wisdom, to be justified in the Tribunal of Truth, and rewarded with the Jewels of Immortality, after having passed in Judgement before the 42 Judges of the Dead, known as the Gods of the Horizon, each Judge supreme in his particular province.
From the dimmest ages, from these old tombs, from the Temples, now even crumbling away, comes the evidence with clearness that there is a judgement beyond the grave, and the Fatherhood of the Unseen God who is the Morning, the Sun at Noon, the Moon in the evening. Dawn, Noon and Sunset are the three distinct forms co-existing perpetually, co-equally, so also did the three divine persons co-exist perpetually and co-equally in the substance of the Uncreated Light.
The springs of our entire existence are hidden, mystery is the beginning, mystery is the ending, mystery is the whole body of our life. We cannot breathe nor sleep, nor eat, nor move, far less think or speak, without exercising powers which are to us inconceivable, by means of processes which to us are inscrutable. Who is so ignorant as not to know these things; who so learned as to make them clear?
The whole of the Ritual deals with the Entrance into Light and of living after Death, of a Passing over the Celestial Road after having made the Passage through the Tomb across the Fields of Aahlu — the Territory of Initiation — to meet the Timeless One — to become Yesterday-To-day-and-To-morrow, a Dweller in Eternity.
It was found that the Indian Tribes of America have a somewhat similar Ceremony, the opening words to the Candidate run:-
Now listen to me, what I am about to say to you.
If you take heed of what I say to you, so shall you continue always your life.
Now to-day I make known to you the Great Spirit That which he says, the Great Spirit, now this I impart to you -
Even if they say that they saw me dead, in this he shall be placed,
Raised again, in this place, he puts his trust.
It shall never fail
My child this shall give you life.
After a perambulation of the L. four times, the Candidate is rendered unconscious, and during the time of his trance, his spirit is said to have left his bodily frame and to have been upon a journey to the "Spirit Land."
On the return of the Spirit the Candidate revives and he is then taught to do what is right.
So, Brethren, we have come to a consideration of the loveliest of our Craft Rituals, the Passion Play of the Craft, the Degree of Liberation, to that which leads us to the hope of a life to be lived in that Higher Lodge of the Almighty Architect, where He rules, the Supreme Master of All.
Masonry is in its essence a ceremonial method of approach to Truth. The Ceremonies of Freemasonry are, as it were, shadows of mighty Realities, Realities which belong to the Worlds Invisible.
The Initiate is taught first in glyph and symbols the main outlines of the task that lies before him, after the ascension of the Winding Stairs of evolution, his knowledge widens out into a knowledge of the mysteries of the Universe itself. In the old Three-fold interpretation the nature of man is Body, Soul and Spirit — the Three Grades — Literal, Allegorical, Mystical. So we have the first teaching — the Body or Corporeal teaching. Then, secondly, the Brightening of the Intellect, which if pursued with keenness and zeal develops the Strength and the Courage to mount that perilous ladder that reaches up from the Altar of every Masonic Lodge throughout the world to that seven-pointed Blazing Star of Union with the True and Living God.
The Philosophic Masonry as taught in the Holy Place of the Temple of Wisdom. Turning to Art, Philosophy and Science, learning that the Lodge is built to the Plan of the Great Universe itself. Learning that the G.G. is One in Essence, yet Three in Function. That he descends into the Sq. of Matter until it is aglow with His hidden life, where is that Middle Chamber into which all must pass to receive, without scruple and without diffidence, their wages for the good deeds accomplished on earth.
We left our Brother, on the Path leading to this final Degree, a Dweller on the Threshold, of that which will bring him to the "Great Light" and into the "Hall of Wisdom," when he is about to approach the Chamber of the King, the Chamber of the Open Tomb, "When he entereth through the Pylons, when he shall walk up the Great Staircase into the House of the Hidden Place." The Gateway of Tat and Tattu of the Egyptians leading to the Higher World of Amenti, the world where the Soul was blended with Immortal Spirit and thereafter Established for Ever. From the "Seen" to the "Unseen."
The Lodge has been opened in the 1st Degree and ascended to the 2nd Degree and he has answered the questions, the proofs of his knowledge so far obtained, and he has been entrusted with the P… G… and P…. W…
Having climbed the mount of Initiation, passed across the Valley of the Sprouting Corn and learnt to live with knowledge, he reached the Mount of the Fellowcraft and has now crossed the second Valley of Purification and preparation for the Third Great Mount — and in crossing this plane he meets a new Force, a consuming agent, which at this stage is necessary for all the aspects of our mortal life must be entirely purified and there must be absolute annihilation of any remaining attraction for "Worldly Possessions" so that a Candidate stands forth as a subject "transmuted" cleared of all those veils, or obstructions which might shadow the kingdom within.
Having in mind that as progression in the Degrees takes place it is by these P. W.s — renunciation — of all possessions, of freedom itself, replacing them by a complete trust in God. Then a giving up of all time to a study of the deeply Hidden Mysteries of Nature and Science, and entering into a fullness of that plenitude, a fullness of vitality emphasised by an E. of C. near a F. of W…, and then onwards to the final releasing of all possessions to pass through the fire of transmutation so that the Fire of the Spirit may inhabit every corner of our being uncontaminated by any possible contact with any worldly force. So that he can enter that Sublime Experience and we must realise that the very word Sublime means that we can ascend to the top, to the very lintel of the porch, a process which arouses sentiments of awe and reverence and a sense of vastness and power outreaching human comprehension.
Just as Supreme means a passing beyond this state into that which is over the lintel and above all.
In the ordinary parlance to "sublime" anything means to pass it from the solid state, into a gaseous state, and again condense it to solid form, purifying it in the process.
Our Candidate passes out to be prepared and the W.M. proceeds to call the Lodge into life on the Higher Plane.
The I.G. working with his Brother Tyler being responsible for keeping the Lodge closed yet open to those worthy of admittance, exercises that Fortitude, which he needs to carry out his task.
The Sword of the T. in this Degree should be as of old, The Flaming Sword, Guarding the entrance to the Heavenly Mansion.
The S.D., the reasoning element in Man, is the Officer who has to act with a measure of Infinite Wisdom, yet with a degree of restraint, foresight and care necessary to wise action, must possess the virtue of Prudence, is the Conductor, a Messenger of the Gods, whose duty it is to conduct the Souls of the departed to the Nether-world. Hermes in olden times was a conductor of souls and was known as the Good Shepherd. In the minds of the Ancients the idea of death was inseparable from the thought of the Shepherd of Souls.
The J.D. midway in these forces, possessing a large degree of understanding, who commences the flow of the forces in the Lodge needs that virtue of Temperance. In the Hebrew Mythology the bearers of the sign of the Dove were the revealers of the Will or the voice of the M.H.
The D. of C. the Officer of Law and Order in the Lodge, the Quality of justice.
The E. symbolising the place of the Supreme Being of Divine Life, the W.M. as an earthly Deputy to the M.H. just as in the old days Osiris represented His Father at the East Gate, a Son of the Divine.
The S.W. has charge of the F.C. and he it was who instructed the Candidate in the Hidden Mysteries of Nature and Science, in the Egyptian allegory it is he who enters the underworld to watch the Judgement Scene, to witness the weighing of the Heart on those Great Scales, and at the conclusion of the trial to reward those found perfect by Osiris and to open to them the Gates of Life. He still marks the Setting Sun, he rules the end of any process, to judge the end, he sits in the place of beginnings, since the end is only the unwinding of the beginning.
Three steps of the Sun, morning noon and night from the East to open and give life to the day; at meridian, in the South to give continuance of life to all created things; then in the West to close the day, never really to set but to pass through that Western Gateway which is but the Gateway of Dawn. A symbol, might it not be Brethren, of everlasting Eternity.
The J.W.'s function is still to mark and know the Sun at the point of its highest Light and Exaltation. He calls the Brethren to rest and refreshment and to the Labours of the Day. He is the first Tester and passes those who are fit on the material plane. He himself is proved by the Square and Compasses.
The Temple in this Degree is considered in some of the Mysteries to be a type of the Kingdom of God, and that the Souls of Men are to be prepared here for that place of Blessedness. There is no repentance, no tears nor prayers, the Stones must now be all Square fitted here for their place in the Temple, being Living Stones, proved and tried.
There is an additional Tool displayed in the E. in the old days — it symbolised "Death by violence."
Having created the atmosphere, the W.M. asks the J.W., as the Bodily aspect of the Lodge, as a Master whence he comes, and he learns that he proceeds from the E. and S.W., the Soul, is proceeding towards the W. and they have been induced to leave their points to commence and carry on a search, and in the pursuit of which they need instruction and assistance so that they can find that which is lost. The genuine secrets of a M.M. which have been lost as a result of a tragedy.
They all unite in hoping to find that which they seek with the C. to start on the true Quest to recover the lost Word which implies the total refashioning of our human nature, it is the whole sum of our endeavours as Masons.
To seek with all our might and intelligence for that which is lost and we leave the E. and journey to the W., that is to say we leave the abode of Light and go forth on the Mystic Quest, passing out into the limitations of an exterior existence for purposes of experience.
We learn that we may only hope to find the Word on the C., the Seat of the Indwelling Divinity, that One Point round which a M.M. cannot err. This P. within the C. and its use there are hidden mysteries upon mysteries.
When the C. has been found then has the heart of all things been attained to, and this mortality has put on immortality.
These words serve only to convey the meaning of things seen but they must be understood imaginatively and not literally. All our emotions and thoughts engendered by our Ritual bring us into contact with Him, the Point of Infinity, which can be approached from many directions, yet there can be no difference in effect between entering an absolute point from one direction than from another for an absolute Point has no dimension. Is it not the position in which adjustment and equilibrium are attuned? Always swayed by opposites, there is no rest for man until he reaches the Point in the C., knows that he is that very P. immutable, unmanifest, a free man, finding his C., bounded by a Circumference in which all its limits are boundless and are his Masters', in and around him, the Measureless Circle of Infinity.
The W.M. will assist in the Search but he prays for aid from the M.H. and the L. is opened on the C., the Great Lights are set, the Symbol of the C. coming into full play.
The Lodge then experiences a change and there appears a new aspect in the midst of them. The E. still keeps its steady Light to mark the way to the great undimmed world of the Spirit.
Our Candidate is prepared — both sides now, for each has become perfected in its separate sphere and with the combination of both he is enabled to face the coming events with the confidence he could not possess were they not in perfect balance.
The alarm is sounded and our Candidate comes seeking admission with a new force added to the Help of the Almighty and the Square, he has the united aid of the Square and the Comps., one of the great Lights which he has absorbed into his being during his time as a F.C. He utters the "Words of Power," Mantras, as they are called in the East, Living Forces in the Invisible Worlds. These powerful aids are acknowledged and he enters led by his Conductors. He stands in the Double Hall of Truth —Truth in Death, Truth in Life, Truth in Justice, Truth in Mercy, Truth in Splendour.
In the olden Egyptian Mysteries it was the desire of all Initiates to reach the Elysian Fields, or Fields of Reeds, wherein there were 7 Halls which he had to pass. Three Gods guarded the door of each Hall, a Doorkeeper, a Watchman and a Questioner, perhaps our Tyler, I.G. and Deacon of to-day, and each door required a word (a spell) to enable the Candidate to enter.
As in the 1st he had entered the Divine World in the Darkness of Ignorance as a Rough Ashlar, and then into the Geometrical Temple of the World of Divine Thought and Illumination, he is now in the Temple of the Divine Spirit which is there around him though he perceives it not. Three modes in which such knowledge may be communicated to those prepared to receive it, by simple instruction, by distant vision and by personal participation, each an advance upon that which precedes.
The lovely prayer is sent forth by the Brethren to the Almighty and Eternal God, the Great Ruler of the Universe and humbly we ask that our Candidate may be given the necessary Strength so that he may abide under His protection on the great trial he is about to face.
The prayers of the First and the Last.
Again Brethren we have the elevation of ideas and of Strength, for in the 1st Degree we prayed to the Almighty Father, Supreme Governor of the Universe, our Helper in Danger or Difficulty, Almighty God, our Great Creator, demanding awe and reverence, our needed Helper in executing all our lawful undertakings, our Comforter and Supporter in emergencies and Beneficent and Intelligent Creator of the Material Universe. The Infinite in terms of Creative Power. The Immutable Good.
In the 2nd the G.G. of the Universe, Merciful Lord, the Almighty as executing wonderful works, God to Whom we must all Submit and Whom we ought humbly to adore.
Sacred Majesty of Truth.
Now in this world of the Spirit we worship the M.H. Almighty and Eternal God, Architect and Ruler of the Universe, Lord of Life and Divine Creator.
It is perhaps now, there is instilled in the mind of our Candidate an understanding that the Lodge portrays the workings of Divine Life, a deeply living thing and an indication of the purpose of the Cosmos. The Four Quarters, the Cycle of the Sun, the 7, one at each point, guardians of the work, enabling by their efforts our Candidate to reach a High conception of his Creator, forming a bridge to the Eternal, reaching downwards to lift to the Highest, the columns, the power of the Universe, and he commences his journey through the under-world, vividly portrayed here in the circumambulations passing towards the S. via the N. with his right hand to the centre, again in the course of the Sun, the first with the proof to the Three, and the Test by the J., the second with the proof on the higher plane, and the Test by the S.W., and of this particular test, we may recall from the distant past of Egypt that the "Luminous Sun was suspended so that Light might invade the Hidden Place or Place of Darkness, casting out the delusions of the Devil and destroying Death, leading on to the Everlasting, that both the Living and the Dead might ascend to the Bright Palace of Light, of Heaven."
Then again, with those convincing proofs and the additional ones he has just obtained, showing that he has passed the trial of fire.
In the olden times an Initiate underwent a trial by Water, which terminated in a form of Baptism, of washings and purifications, and this was followed by a trial by air, that being symbolised by temptations, often very real, which reach the intellect from without such as ambition, pride, avarice, and these call forth the warning given in the presentation of our 2nd D. W… T…Is and finally he had to come through an actual trial of fire, terrifying and vividly presented.
The S.W. again presents him as a properly prepared Candidate for the Ceremony and sets him on the course to the E.
Man in this state can only progress through the medium of the Soul and it is fitting that the S.W. should be the medium through which the instruction from the far-off E. are transmitted.
The S.D., his conductor, now takes him from the West and with that W. far behind him he stands Square and crosses over and faces N., the place of eternal darkness, crosses again and faces the place of the Sun and yet again he crosses and faces the E. the place of Eternal Wisdom and Understanding and he strides towards the Light of that great E., having gathered in him the Strength to Establish and by that Stability he is enabled to pass on to that last and greatest trial which now awaits him.
The seven S… to immortality.
To his dismay perhaps he finds that although he has stepped over he is not yet in that presence he so desires but ought to gather still more strength for the vows which are demanded of him. This crossing symbolises man becoming by true knowledge, a Master of his fate. He stands near a "Light" which is the "Shadow of God."
In the Presence of the M.H. in the full conviction within himself he says he will obey all S…s and will maintain and uphold the Pts. of F. which he is just becoming aware of for the first time.
You remember, Brethren, so fearful were the ancient races of the East that any part of the body might become parted from the whole, that these age-old penalties which threatened this dire happening were of enormous strength and none would run the slightest risk of violating them, to some extent these very threats gave rise to the very elaborate ritual which grew up in the old Egyptian practice of embalming and carefully preserving the body for its great trials of the journey to the new life. The few of mutilation is much emphasised in the Book of the Dead, their Ritual used on these occasions. We find that after taking out certain parts of the body they were mummified and put into Canopic jars with lids shaped as emblems of the Four Sons of Horus, the head of an Ape, a Man, a Jackal and a Hawk. These represented the Four Cardinal Points N., S., E. and W. Rather significant when we remember the Four Cardinal Winds and the threat of scattering, and to some of you these emblems speak even more deeply.
In this Book we find the words "Let not my heart be torn away from me." "Let not my head be taken off or my tongue torn out." "Let me not be severed."
It is interesting to note, Brethren, the Ceremony that was observed among the Ancient Hebrews when making a covenant. The allusions are indeed remarkable. After an animal had been selected, his throat was cut across with a single blow. The next ceremony was to tear the breast open and pluck out the heart, and if there was the least imperfection the body would be considered unclean. The animal was then divided into two parts and placed N. and S., that the parties to the covenant might pass between them from E. to W. and the carcase was then left as a prey to the fowls of the heaven and to the beasts of the earth.
The movement of the Emblematical Lights are now brought to their final position, the spiritual strength surmounting the two aspects of the former positions. The first the Square of Matter above the other two, just as the K.s are all on the one level and show but one plane of emotion.
Then the Point of the Soul comes into evidence and the K.s change to emphasise that a variation of the order has taken place and now the Square of Matter is below the last two, the Soul and the Spirit working above that Matter and are now in full force and so again the K.s follow the same change. With this combination our Candidate is at Liberty to work with their united force, from the Centre to the uttermost limit, from the dawn of reverence in the human heart down to the most perfect ritual of the latest race, this rite has existed for the single purpose of bringing the Soul's knowledge into the brain consciousness. This physical consciousness does not know the Soul's life, but the steps and symbols and words of the ritual show it the way, the participant lives it, and its real meaning dawns on the brain. By its insistence and continuity it awakens the light in the mind. Thus it bridges the gap, and re-establishes in the mortal mind the memory of his real and divine source.
So we come to, perhaps, the loveliest part of this Degree, the retrospect, having become entitled by virtue of what has gone before to demand that last trial.
In the light of understanding the root-matter of the Craft Grades is root of a truly figurative mystery, which is that of the NEW MAN, and Solomon's Temple built of old in Israel is its symbol. Between J. and B. the E.A. is brought through a Gate of Birth into new life of the mysteries, being the life of self-realisation in the Divine Order of Being, and his Task thereafter is to learn by the Faith of inward experience that the Order is God realising Himself to that which can receive revelation. Here is the 1st Degree in which our Candidate passes from the Court of the Temple and stands on the farther side, contemplating that which is before him.
As a F.C. he is called to the leading of such a life as will give the knowledge of Doctrine, otherwise the Science of the Holy Place, or alternatively the New Life which is growth in the knowledge of God, learning that God rewards those who seek Him out.
A M.M. begins on the hither side of the Veil of Palms and Pomegranates and ends in the holy of Holies, when in a state of "D," figuratively and mystically, the Candidate, abstracted from the world without, in suspension of physical senses, and removed from the self-centre, beholds in an inmost Sanctuary the Abiding Divine Presence, the Glory of God. He knows then another Centre and this is God within him, and in this State of Mystical D. he will learn the legend of the Master Builder.
In the Eleusinian Mysteries the Pomegranate was considered the food of the Dead and figured prominently in their ceremonies.
In the Great Allegory of Masonry, the Master is a type of Martyr, the dying God, whose mystery is, and has, from time immemorial, been celebrated all over the world. The legend itself goes back to remote antiquity and is full of significant meaning, as if to tell us that no man can tell another of the secret, for each in his turn must discover it for himself. "One" to the many — to the "ONE."
H. himself could not give it although he knew it. The very simplicity of this great legend has entered so deeply into the hearts of its initiates that it has become one of the greatest legends in existence.
Attacked by Ignorance on one side, by Superstition on the other and finally by Fear was he overcome, and the three ruffians gained nothing by their acts.
These opposites, these direct enemies of all mankind, these forces against which all the teaching of our Craft is concentrated, these tenets which are the glory of our Ancient Institution for the moment obscured in the hearts of these three who had not recanted, who had forsaken the wisdom they had been shown, and had allowed Ignorance to gain its old mastery over them, had let their Faith be shaken and Superstition reign in its place and lost the love which had been alight within them to an arrant Fear, their hold loosened, the forces of evil astride in their minds, enticing them with the temptation that by an easy method they could gain the last great step without the labour, which they felt incapable of exerting and had not the depth of character to perform, falling into the abyss of the illusion of attaining a crown without the merit to command it, and attaining "nothingness," while the Master gains "all."
Is not the lesson so clearly defined, if Wisdom is lost, if Faith is absent, and Love is dead can there be any hope for us? Can there be a re-union with the former companions of our toils? Are we fit to be weighed in the great scale, cannot anyone speak for us on the great Day? Can we take the Square on our breast and the Plummet as well, placed there by those who send us on our journey, can they say "it is well done"?
In the Rites of the Druid an Initiate had to wait 20 years for completion of the Rite when he was placed in a coffin, in which he remained enclosed, apertures being made for the circulation of air, for three days to represent death. From this he was liberated on the third day to symbolise his restoration to life. After the Mystical Death he was pronounced regenerated or born again. Then followed nine circumambulations in the course of the sun.
In the West Country working the Brethren form up in single file and walk in a circle round the G…, three times three chanting as they walk. Then these words are spoken:-
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shaft say, I have no pleasure in them.
While the Sun, or the Light, or the Moon, or the Stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain.
In the day when the keepers of the House shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows shall be darkened.
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low.
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his home, and the mourners go about the streets.
So ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain or the wheel be broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Man is Body plus Soul, by this circumstance he is elevated above the level of mere earthly existence. Part being heavenly, and part earthly, he now occupies the borderland between two different realms, with citizenship in both, the soul as the vital energy, the principle of Life in matter, linking the human with the Divine.
Life must be lost before it can be found again and the ordeal of the darkness which he now undergoes is saddened when he learns to his dismay that with all the perseverance, all the strength he has acquired with so much labour as an E.A. fail him, for it proves a slip.
The knowledge, the wisdom on which he has founded a good life, fails, for it too proves a slip.
But on the charity, love and fellowship, he can and is R… on the 5 Pts. of F.
By passing through that valley of isolation, of loneliness and despair, by the Death of that individual bodily self, by the slaying of that mental structure, and by a realisation that it is by help from above, outside himself it is possible.
On the restoration to the Comps. of his former toils he learns the Word revealing to his returning consciousness. The Master Builder is at work on the Temple of God and Man, a Holy House based on experience and the Building of a Sanctuary within.
The secret hereof is the Immanent Presence of God and the realisation of that Presence.
Thus is Craft Masonry understood at the highest, this is the state in which man sees his soul uplifted by Eternal Spirit, and a mastery of Spiritual building for those who know the Builder, and He is G. within them.
This regeneration, the new life thereafter, the leading of that life, to an experience which is called Death and then a R…. in G. These are the three stages of intuitive experience presented in Ritual Form, not a mere spectacle but ceremonial activities in which the Candidate takes such a part that it is impossible for them to be performed without him, after this manner is their purport brought home personally in the most living and actual manner, the whole message is of necessity within measures of symbolism, and can only pass "like sparks from Heaven."
The old, old lesson that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, is thus presented to us in Freemasonry in its own peculiar dramatic, symbolic manner, on the Centre in the silence is peace attained.
Every M.M. must descend into the silence of the G… and pass through a figurative Death to a higher life, before he can be given the Ss. which, properly understood, take him into a new world, the world of the mystic and the seer, where the bond of fellowship binds all together, where differences vanish and where the pairs of opposites, symbolized by the two hands join together united in a world which transcends the earthly knowledge. Though he travel ever so far westwards he will not find the Genuine Ss. of a M.M. save in the Centre of his own heart.
It is in the 5 Pts. of F. that he hears, and only in a whisper of the Death of the Builder, of the Mind, of the Creator of beautiful Form, this is all he is told, the Genuine Ss. cannot even be whispered. They are in the silence and only he himself can find them, on his C., which is the C., for there is only one C. for all men, equally distant from all and equally near to each.
The gloom which rests on the prospect of futurity cannot be pierced but with strong eternal Faith founded in Truth having performed tasks and enlisting that vital and immortal principle which is divine, within us we can lift our eyes to that Great Star. The Star was given to the followers of Horus after he had been led by it into Paradise. The Book of the Dead gives the deceased knowledge of the Powers of the East, of whom the Morning Star is one, and this Star became his guide through the Elysian Fields.
In the papyrus copied from a sarcophagus of a King, an illustration of which is found at the beginning of this paper, we see Anubis ministering to Osiris on his bier. At the head stands Isis in an attitude of supplication. Her prayers are answered, for Anubis is Raising him by the Grip of the Lion from his figurative tomb, to everlasting life — symbolised by the Crux Ansata. His Star is established, "Unto him that overcometh will I give the Morning Star." He has attained it in the East, and he there breaks the darkness for ever, he becomes a Conqueror of that D…, and has fought and won. To a thinking Brother, who has realised that in this lovely ritual, in the spiritual thought processes it invokes, there is embodied the one great aim of all the work which is the attainment of an awareness of "AT-ONE-MENT" so that deep within him he may experience a glow of spiritual happiness which may abide with him for all time, and expand to that feeling of Brotherliness to all within its Circle.
Does not H.A. stand for something greater, vaster, nobler, and more terrible than a mere man of honour, who rather than betray his sacred trust, laid down his Life?
The L… of a M.M. is but D… visible is an eloquent hint of the withdrawal of that guiding light, reduced to a glimmering ray in the E. which has led him so far, but now he learns he must lose his very life to save it — the third and final renunciation — but deep within the heart of every being is the Light "the Light that Lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
It is not a symbol but rather a reality, the key note of which has to be power, power to enter into and express this reality, the "Light" he is. From the Darkness of the Tomb come the symbols of frail Mortality, which in their solemn silence speak to the human heart with a power no eloquence can equal. They awaken feelings too deep for mortal voice. They raise thoughts too high for human speech. They propound a problem no science can solve. They conceal a secret which all will know yet none reveal. In their dread presence the human soul hangs o'er the infinite abyss and gazes into the misty realms of Eternity. So the way lies before us, we are all embarked upon this long pilgrimage going forward towards the one goal. As we realise the immensity of this work we begin to understand the tremendous significance and value of our earthly life.
by FAITH by the KNOWLEDGE vouchsafed us in the V.S.L. by continuing to do our duty and by a realisation that "the vital and immortal principle" will give us an invincible confidence that we can defeat all evil influences and attain the greater glory in the hereafter.
We lift our eyes and see that Bright Morning Star of Peace to us all. The God of Wisdom and of Speech in the Ancient Times was the Bright Morning Star, a Star which shines over a Federation of Faiths. The Morning Star in the Egyptian Mysteries represented Horus of the Resurrection rites.
In the Light of this allegory the Masonic Ear of Corn which has borne so important a part previously, takes on a new meaning. A symbol above all symbols — representing the mystery of death and resurrection, to an ear of corn we owe the early development of this great doctrine, the hope which has sustained millions in the hour of grief and anguish. In the Tibetian Mysteries, at this stage of the Ceremony, the Candidate is shown a figure of a Deity holding in his hand two beautiful ears of corn. He is told they are the Seed and the Grain, allegorical of Life and Death.
To it we owe the sublime and exalted teachings of the earliest of the mysteries by which the mystic learns the secret of going back to God; which secret is enshrined in the Ceremony. "The dead die not, for as the corn dies to rise transformed and beautiful, so shall mortal man shed the husk he calls his body; and, soaring upwards, shine with the stars for ever and ever. A Festival of Renewal." In the words of a poet:-
"So shalt thou conquer space, and lastly climb The walls of Time; "And by the golden path the great have trod Reach up to God."