The Meaning of Masonry 4

Chapter IV

FREEMASONRY, under the English Constitution, reaches its climax and 
conclusion in the Order of the Holy Royal Arch. There exists a variety of other 
degrees ramifying from the main stem of the Masonic system which either 
elaborate side-points of its doctrine or re-express its teachings in alternative 
symbolism. These, while of greater or less merit and interest, are beyond our 
present consideration, and, indeed, are superfluities tending rather to diffuse 
the student's attention than to deepen his insight into the central purpose of 
the Craft. The taking of additional higher degrees may be indulged in almost 
indefinitely, but to what purpose if the initial ones, which contain all that is 
necessary for the understanding of the subject, remain imperfectly assimilated? 
It is a fallacy to suppose that the multiplying of degrees will result in the 
discovery of important arcane secrets which one has failed to find in the rites 
of the Craft and the Royal Arch. The higher degrees indeed illustrate tru ths of 
much interest and often set forth with impressive ceremonial beauty, the 
appreciation of which will be the greater after and not before the meaning of 
the preliminary ones has been thoroughly absorbed; whilst the pursuit of " 
secrets " is certain to prove illusory, for the only secrets worth the name or 
the finding are those incommunicable ones which discover themselves within the 
personal consciousness of the seeker who is in earnest to translate ceremonial 
representation into facts of spiritual experience.
It was accordingly a sound instinct that prompted those who settled the 
present constitution of the Order to exclude these supplementary refinements and 
to declare that " Masonry consists of the three Craft Degrees and the Holy Royal 
Arch and no more," for within that compass is exhibited, or at least outlined, 
the entire process of human regeneration; so that after the Royal Arch there 
really remains nothing more to be said, although what has been said is of course 
capable of elaboration.
The completeness of regeneration theoretically postulated in those four 
stages is marked, it should be observed, by the very significant expression used 
in connection with a Royal Arch Chapter, which is interpreted as meaning " My 
people having obtained mercy," which in its further analysis signifies that all 
the parts and faculties (" people ") of the candidate's organism have at last, 
and as the result of his previous discipline and ordeals, become sublimated and 
integrated in a new quality and higher order of life than that previously 
enjoyed in virtue of his merely temporal nature. In a word, he has become 
regenerated. He has achieved the miracle of " squaring the circle "--a 
metaphorical expression for regeneration, as shall be explained presently.
Although but an expansion and completion of the Third Degree, of which at one 
time it formed part, there were good reasons for detaching the Royal Arch 
portion from what now forms the Degree of Master Mason. The two parts in 
combination made an inconveniently long rite, whilst a change in the symbolic 
appointments and officers of the temple of initiation was necessary, as the 
ceremony proceeded, to give appropriate spectacular representation to the 
further points calling for expression. Despite this re-arrangement the Royal 
Arch is the natural conclusion and fulfilment of the Third Degree. The latter 
inculcates the necessity of mystical death and dramatizes the process of such 
death and revival therefrom into newness of life. The Royal Arch carries the 
process a stage farther, by showing its fulfilment in the " exaltation " or 
apotheosis of him who has undergone it. The Master Mason's Degree might be said 
to be represented in the terms of Christian theology by the formula " He 
suffered and was buried and rose again," whilst the equivalent of the exaltation 
ceremony is " He ascended into heaven."
The Royal Arch Degree seeks to express that new and intensified life to which 
the candidate can be raised and the exalted degree of consciousness that comes 
with it. From being conscious merely as a natural man and in the natural 
restricted way common to every one born into this world, he becomes exalted 
(whilst still in his natural flesh) to consciousness in a supernatural and 
illimitable way. As has been said in previous papers, the purpose of all 
initiation is to lift human consciousness from lower to higher levels by 
quickening the latent spiritual potentialities in man to their full extent 
through appropriate discipline. No higher level of attainment is possible than 
that in which the human merges in the Divine consciousness and knows as God 
knows. And that being the level of which the Order of the Royal Arch treats 
ceremonially, it follows that Masonry as a sacramental system reaches its climax 
and conclusion in that Order.
As has also been already shown, to attain that level involves as its 
essential prerequisite the total abnegation, renouncement and renovation of 
one's original nature, the surrender of one's natural desires, tendencies and 
preconceptions, and the abandonment and nullifying of one's natural self-will, 
by such a habitual discipline and self-denial and gradual but vigorous 
opposition to all these as will cause them gradually to atrophy and die down. " 
He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world 
shall keep it unto life eternal. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and 
die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." As with a 
seed of wheat, so with man. If he persists in clinging to the present natural 
life he knows, if he refuses to recognize that a higher quality of life is here 
and now possible to him, or is unwilling to make the necessary effort to attain 
it, he " abideth alone," gets nowhere, and only frustrates his own spiritual 
evolution. But if he is willing to " die " in the sense indicated, if he will so 
re-orientate his will and silence his natural energies and desires as to give 
the Vital and Immortal Principle within him the chance to assert itself and 
supersede them, then from the disintegrated material of his old nature that germ 
of true life will spring into growth in him and bear much fruit, and by the 
stepping-stones of initiation he will rise from his dead self to higher things 
than he can otherwise experience.
This necessity of self-dying--not, we repeat, the physical death of the body 
but a mystical death-in life of everything except the body--is the first and 
fundamental fact to be grasped before one may hope to realize or even to 
understand the mystery of the Royal Arch Degree. " Mors janua vitae "; death to 
self is the portal to true life. There is no other way. It is the unescapable 
law and condition of the soul's progress.
But since it is a process involving a " most serious trial of fortitude and 
fidelity " and a grapple with oneself from which the timorous and self-diffident 
may well shrink, the Mystery-systems have always exhibited an example for the 
instruction, encouragement and emulation of those prepared to make the attempt 
and the necessary sacrifice. To hearten them to the task the Initiatory Colleges 
have held up a prototype in the person of some great soul who has already 
trodden the same path and emerged triumphant therefrom. It matters nothing 
whether the prototype be one whose historic actuality and identity can be 
demonstrated, or whether he can be regarded only as legendary or mythical; the 
point being not to teach a merely historical fact, but to enforce a spiritual 
principle. In Egypt the prototype was Osiris, who was slain by his malignant 
brother Typhon, but whose mangled limbs were collected in a coffer from which he 
emerged reintegrated and divinized. In Greece the prototype was Bacchus, wh o 
was torn to pieces by the Titans. Baldur in Scandinavia and Mithra in 
Greco-Roman Europe were similar prototypes. In Masonry the prototype is Hiram 
Abiff, who met his death as the result of a conspiracy by a crowd of workmen of 
whom there were three principal ruffians. In the Christian and chief of all 
systems, since it comprehends and re-expresses all the others, the greatest of 
the Exemplars died at the hands of the mob, headed also by three chief ruffians, 
Judas, Caiaphas and Pilate. If in Masonry the mystical death is dramatized more 
realistically than the resurrection that follows upon it, that resurrection is 
nevertheless shown in the " raising " of the candidate to the rank of Master 
Mason and his " reunion with the companions of former toils," implying the 
reintegration and resumption of all his old faculties and powers in a sublimated 
state, just as the limbs of the risen Osiris were said to reunite into a new 
whole and as the Christian Master withdrew His mutilated body from the to mb' 
and reassumed it, transmuted into one of supernatural substance and 
We have, therefore, now to consider how the Royal Arch Degree exhibits the 
attainment of a new order of life. But it may be as well to say in advance that 
for those unhabituated to looking beyond surface-values and material meanings 
the exposition about to be given, dealing as it will with the profound spiritual 
truths and advanced psychological experience allegorized by the external 
ceremonial, is likely to present some difficulty of comprehension and 
acceptance. The Royal Arch, however, would not be the Supreme Degree it is did 
it not move upon a supremely high level of thought and instruction. It was not 
compiled to accommodate the elementary intelligence theoretically characterizing 
the philosophically untrained neophyte. It presupposes that its candidate has 
passed through a long, strenuous period of purification and mental discipline, 
in the course of which his understanding has become very considerably widened 
and deepened, whilst his fidelity to the high inward Light which has conducte d 
him safely so far, has induced in him a humility and docility fitting him for 
what still awaits him--the attainment of that Wisdom which is concealed from 
this world's wise and prudent, but is revealed unto babes. It is a rite of 
initiation dealing less with his gross corporeal nature and his ordinary 
temporal mentality (which have been the subject of purification in the earlier 
degrees) than with the higher reaches and possibilities of his understanding and 
consciousness. As it is, what can be said here can at best be but a partial and 
incomplete exposition of a theme calling rather for disciplined imagination and 
reverent reflection than for reasoned argument. Certain things must perforce be 
omitted from explanation entirely, whilst others are mentioned with diffidence 
and at the risk of their being misunderstood or rejected by such as do not yet 
realize that in these matters " the letter killeth, the spirit vivifieth " and 
that " spiritual truths must be spiritually discerned."
Before interpreting the Ceremony itself it is desirable first to indicate 
four noteworthy features connected with this Supreme Order and distinctifying it 
from the three grades leading to it. In speaking even of these incidentals the 
before mentioned difficulties of both exposition and apprehension will already 
make themselves felt.
First, no one can be received into a Chapter without first having attained 
Master Mason's rank.
Second, the circular symbol of the Grand Geometrician, which in the Second 
Degree shone high above in the ceiling of the Temple, and in the Third Degree 
had moved downwards and burned as a glimmering ray in the East to guide the 
candidate's feet into the way of peace, has now descended completely to the 
chequer-work floor, where it rests as the centre and cubical focus of the entire 
organism and bears the Sacred and Ineffable Name, as also those of Solomon and 
the two Hirams.
Third, the constitution of the Assembly is no longer one of seven officers, 
but of nine, who are grouped in three triads about the Central Sacred 
Fourth, the Assembly, regarded as a unity, is no longer designated a Lodge, 
but a Chapter.
The first of these points--that none but a Master Mason can enter the Royal 
Arch--has already been accounted for. It is not feasible, nor is it within the 
law governing the process of spiritual evolution, for any who has not 
experienced the stage of mystical death to have experience of that which lies 
beyond that death. As an unborn physical infant can know nothing of this world, 
in which nevertheless it exists, until actually initiated into it by birth, so 
the embryonic spiritual child cannot be born into conscious function upon the 
plane of the Spirit until it has become entirely detached from the enfolding 
carnal matrix and tendencies to which it has been habituated.
The second and third points can be considered together. The re-arrangement of 
the factors constituting the ceremonial temple are symbolic of a structural 
re-arrangement which has occurred in the candidate's own psychical organization. 
This has undergone a repolarization as the result of the descent into it of that 
high central Light which at first but shone as it were in his " heavens," afar 
off and above him, illumining the dormer-window of his natural intelligence. 
Consider deeply what this change implies. The Day-star from on high has now 
visited him; the fontal source of all consciousness has descended into the very 
chequer work material of his transient physical organism, not merely permeating 
it temporarily with light, but taking root and becoming grafted there 
substantially and permanently. In theological language, God has become man, and 
man has become divinized, in virtue of this descent and union. In Masonic terms, 
the Vital and Immortal Principle resident in the candidate has at las t 
superseded his temporal life-principle and established him upon a new centre of 
incorruptible life. Now, and perhaps only now, becomes thoroughly appreciable 
the necessity for the earlier purifications, discipline, self-crucifixion and 
death of all the lower nature. How could the purity of the Divine Essence 
tabernacle in the coarse body of the sensualist? How could the Eternal Wisdom 
unfold its treasures in a mind benighted or caring for nothing but base metals 
and material pursuits? How could the Universal Will co-operate with and function 
through the man whose petty personal will blocks its channel, antagonizing it at 
every turn with his selfish preferences and disordered desires? A Master Mason, 
then, in the full sense of the term, is no longer an ordinary man, but a 
divinized man; one in whom the Universal and the personal consciousness have 
come into union. Obviously the quality of life and consciousness of such an one 
must differ vastly from that of other men. His whole be ing is diff erently 
qualitated and geared upon another centre. That new centre is described as the 
Grand Geometrician of man's personal universe, inasmuch as its action upon the 
organism of whoever surrenders himself to its influence causes a redisposition 
of functional and conscious faculty. The knowledge of this fact was with the 
wise ancients the true and original science of Geometry (literally " earth 
measuring "; determining the occult potentialities of the human earth or 
temporal organism under spiritual stresses). " God geometrizes " wrote Plato, 
with intimate knowledge of the subject. Many of the Euclidean and Pythagorean 
theorems, now regarded merely as mathematical demonstrations, were originally 
expressions, veiled in mathematical glyphs, of the esoteric science of 
soul-building or true Masonry. The well-known 47th Proposition of the First Book 
of Euclid is an example of this and in consequence has come (though few modern 
Masons could explain why) to be inscr ibed upon the Past Master's official 
jewel. Again, the squaring of the circle that problem which has baffled so many 
modern mathematicians --is an occult expression signifying that Deity, 
symbolized by the all-containing circle, has attained form and manifestation in 
a " square " or human soul. It expresses the mystery of the Incarnation, 
accomplished within the personal soul.
Under the stress then of the Geometrizing Principle now found symbolically 
integrated within the candidate's temporal organism, a re-distribution of his 
component powers has become effected. His repolarized condition is symbolized by 
an equilateral triangle with a point at its centre, and such a triangle will be 
found, worked in gold, upon the sash worn by the Companions of the Order. The 
significance of this triangle is that the tripartite aspects of him who wears it 
(that is, the spiritual, psychical and physical parts of him) now stand 
equalized and equilibrated around their common Life-Principle at the centre, 
fitted and equipped for Its purpose. Yet each of these three divisions, though 
in itself unitary, is philosophically triadic in composition when subjected to 
intellectual analysis. " Every monad is the parent of a triad " is another maxim 
of the Ancients, who anticipated the modern Hegelian proposition of metaphysics 
that thesis, antithesis and synthesis are the essential ingredients of a given 
truth. Hence it comes about that the three aspects of each of the three sides of 
our equilateral triangle are ceremonially personified by the nine officers of 
the Chapter--three in the East representing the spiritual side, three in the 
West figuring the soul or psychical side, and three subordinate links connecting 
these other two. (These will be further and more conveniently treated of later 
when the symbolic nature of the officers is dealt with).
The fourth point to be noticed was the change of designation from "Lodge " to 
" Chapter." The word " Chapter " derives from Caput, head. The reason for the 
change of name lies, however, much deeper than in the fact that the Royal Arch 
stands at the head or summit of the Craft. It has reference in a twofold way to 
the capitular rank and consciousness of the Arch Mason himself. In virtue of his 
headship or supremacy over his material nature he has passed beyond mere 
Craftwork and governing the Lodge of his lower nature, which he has now made the 
docile instrument and servant of his spiritual self. Henceforth his energies are 
employed primarily upon the spiritual plane. The " head " of the material 
organism of man is the spirit of man, and this spirit consciously conjoined with 
the Universal Spirit is Deity's supreme instrument and vehicle in the temporal 
world. Such a man's physical organism and brain have become sublimated and keyed 
up to a condition and an efficiency immensely in advance of av erage humanity. 
Physiological processes are involved which cannot be discussed here, beyond 
saying that in such a man the entire nervous system contributes to charge 
certain ganglia and light up certain brain-centres in a way of which the 
ordinary mind knows nothing. The nervous system provides the storage-batteries 
and conductive medium of the Spirit's energies just as telegraph wires are the 
media for transmitting electrical energy. But the true Master Mason, in virtue 
of his mastership, knows how to control and apply those energies. They culminate 
and come to self-consciousness in his head, in his intelligence. And in this 
respect we may refer to a very heavily veiled Scriptural testimony, the import 
of which goes quite unperce*ed to the uninstructed reader. The Gospels record 
that the Passion of the Great Exemplar and Master concluded " at the place 
called Golgotha in the Hebrew tongue; that is, the place of a skull "; that is 
to say it terminated in the head or seat of intelligence and in a mystery of the 
spiritual consciousness. The same truth is also testified to, though again under 
veils of symbolic phrasing, in the reference to the sprig of acacia planted at 
the head of the grave of the Masonic Grand Master and prototype, Hiram Abiff. 
The grave is the candidate's soul; the sprig of acacia typifies the latent akasa 
(to use an Eastern term) or divine germ planted in that soil and waiting to 
become quickened into activity in his intelligence, the " head " of that plane. 
When that sprig of acacia blooms at the head of his soul's sepulchre, he will 
understand at one and the same moment the mystery of Golgotha, the mystery of 
the death of Hiram, and the meaning of the Royal Arch ceremony of exaltation. It 
is a mystery of spiritual consciousness, the efflorescence of the mind in God, 
the opening up of the human intelligence in conscious association with the 
Universal and Omniscient Mind. It is for this reason that the cranium or skull 
is given prominence in the Master Mason's Deg ree.
With this premised we proceed to considering the Ceremony of Exaltation.
Again the candidate is in a state of darkness. But the reason of this 
darkness differs entirely from that which existed at the Entered Apprentice 
stage. Then he was but an ignorant beginner upon the quest, making his first 
irregular benighted efforts towards the light. Now, he has long passed beyond 
that stage; he comes with all the qualifications and equipment of a Master 
Mason. Long ago he found the light he first sought, and for long he has been 
directing his steps and nourishing his growth by its rays. And more; after all 
this intimacy with it he has known it recede from him and disappear in the great 
ordeal of dereliction of the Third Degree, when, in the " dark night of the soul 
" and utter helplessness of all his powers, he learned how strength could be 
perfected out of weakness by the potent efficacy of the Vital and Immortal 
Principle within him, in whose presence the darkness and the light are both 
alike. His present initial deprivation of light is the darkness of the Third 
Degree ca rried over into this further experience. It betokens rather a 
momentary failure to adjust his perception to the new quality of life he is now 
entering upon, just as a new-born child is unable at first to coordinate its 
sight to objects before it. For a while, but only for a brief while, the 
candidate feels himself in darkness; but he is really blinded rather by excess 
of light than by lack of it.
In this condition he undertakes the opening out of a certain place which he 
proceeds to enter and explore, keeping touch meanwhile with his companions by a 
cord or life-line. The symbolism of all this is singularly rich in allusion to 
certain interior processes of introspection well defined in the experience of 
the contemplative mystics and well attested in their records. The place entered 
emblematizes once again the material and psychical organism, a dense compact of 
material particles coating the more tenuous interior spirit of man as a shell 
surrounds the contents of an egg. " Roll away the stone," it will be recalled, 
was the first injunction of the Master at the raising of Lazarus. This 
obstruction removed, the psychical organism becomes detached from the physical 
and the mind is free to become introverted and work exploratively upon its own 
ground, to search the contents of its own unplumbed depths, to probe deeper and 
deeper into itself, eradicating defects and removing rubble, pushing in and in 
by the energy of a persistent will, yet retaining contact the while with the 
outer physical nature by a subtle filament or life-line which prevents their 
entire separation. The position is the same as when the body sleeps whilst the 
mind is dreaming and vividly active, save that in dreams the will is not 
functioning as a consciously directive instrument as is hypothetically the case 
with one who, having attained Mastership, has all his faculties under volition 
and control. Yet all this interior work, so rapidly summarized and symbolically 
enacted in the Ceremony, is not the work of a day nor the casual task of a 
weakling. The ancients referred to it as the twelve labours of Hercules, whilst 
its arduousness is further graphically described by the initiate poet Virgil in 
the sixth Aneid and by more recent illuminates. Nor, even when its nature is 
fully apprehended, is it a work to be lightly undertaken. Throughout the 
Ceremony the utmost humility is enjoined upon the candidate as the e ssential 
qualification for entering upon this process of self-exploration He is bidden to 
draw nigh to the Centre, but to halt and make obeisance at three several stages, 
at each of which he is told he is approaching more nearly to that central 
Essence, that holy ground of his being upon which only the humble can walk, that 
" earth " which only the meek shall inherit.
It is in this state that the introverted mind, groping for its own foundation 
and centre, reaches at length the bedrock of its being. As the symbolic ceremony 
exhibits the grasping of an emblem embodying the Word of Life, so literally and 
in fact the questing mind, in coming upon the Vital and Immortal Principle 
animating it, " lays hold on Eternal Life." It discovers the Lost Word, the 
divine root of its being, from which it has hitherto been so long dissociated. 
It fails to realize the fact at first, for " the Light shineth in darkness and 
the darkness comprehendeth it not." Presently that darkness will disappear; when 
" the day (the new consciousness) dawns and the shadows (the old mentality) flee 
Therefore it is that this work of the introverted mind and the discovery it 
makes, are exhibited as taking place darkly and amid subterranean gloom. There 
remains, therefore, one concluding psychological process--to extrovert that 
knowledge and bring it forward into formalized brain-consciousness, so that what 
the spirit and the soul already know interiorly the outer mind may also know 
exteriorly. Subjective awareness does not become knowledge until it has been 
cerebrated and passed through the alembic of the brain and the logical 
understanding. When it has so passed through and become formalized, a reciprocal 
and reflex action between the inner and outer natures is set up resulting in the 
illumination of the whole. This extroversion of subjective perceptions is 
symbolically achieved by the return of the candidate from the subterranean 
depths to the surface and there rejoining his former companion-sojourners and 
effecting a unification of all his component parts.
It is then that the Mystery is consummated. The Great Light breaks. The Vital 
and Immortal Principle comes to self-consciousness in him. The Glory of the Lord 
is revealed to and in him, and all his flesh sees it.
So far as it is possible for symbolic ceremonial to portray it this 
consummation is represented by the restoration to light and the revelation that 
then meets the candidate's gaze. His condition differs now from any that has 
preceded it. It is not merely one of illumination by the Supernal Light. It is 
one of identification with It. He and It have become one, as a white-hot iron is 
indistinguishable from the furnace-flame engulfing it. At the outset of his 
Masonic quest the predominant wish of his heart was Light. The impulse was not 
his own; it was that of the Light Itself--the primal Light of light, the Divine 
Substantial Word--seeking self-development in him. Consciousness is that Light 
become self-perceptive by polarization within an efficient physiological 
organism. Man provides the only organism adapted to the attainment of that 
self-perception; but only when that organism is purified and prepared 
sufficiently for the achievement. In the Royal Arch that achievement is 
hypothetically effe cted.
The condition attained by the illumined candidate is the equivalent of what 
in Christian theology is known as Beatific Vision and in the East as Samadhi. It 
is also spoken of as universal or cosmic consciousness, since the percipient, 
transcending all sense of personal individualization, time and space, is 
co-conscious with all that is. He has entered the bliss and peace surpassing 
that temporal understanding which is limited to perceiving the discords, 
antinomies and contrasts characterizing finite existence; he has risen to that 
exalted state where all these find their resolution in the blissful concord of 
the Eternal. He is in conscious sympathy and identity of feeling with all that 
lives and feels, in virtue of that universal charity and limitless love which is 
the corollary of perceiving the unity of all in the Being of Deity, and which at 
the outset of his progress he was told was the summit of the Mason's profession. 
He sees too that there is a universe within as well as without him; th at he 
himself microcosmically sums up and contains all that manifested to his temporal 
intelligence as the vast spacial universe around him. He is himself conscious of 
being the measure of the universe; he realizes that the earth, the heavens, and 
all their contents, are externalizations, projected images, of corresponding 
realities present within himself. As the perfected head of creation, he beholds 
how he sums up in himself all the lower forms of life through which his organism 
has passed to attain to that perfection. The four symbolic standards exhibiting 
the lion, ox, man and eagle are a very ancient glyph, declaring among other 
things the story of the soul's evolution and its progress from the passional 
wild-beast stage to one which, while still sensuous and animal, is docile and 
disciplined for service, and thence to the stage of human rationality, which at 
length culminates in upward-soaring spirituality. Similarly the displayed 
banners of the twelve Israelitish tribes are again but fi gures of their 
prototypes, the twelve zodiacal sections of those heavens which could not exist 
or be discernible to the outward eye were they not also the phenomenalized 
aspect of a reality cognizable by the inward eye; whilst, gathered beneath these 
emblems, are those who represent the tribes of no terrestrial nation, but are 
the " tribes of God," the heavenly hierarchies that constitute an archetypal 
canopy or holy royal arch above the visible creation and that mediate to it the 
effluences of that all embracing triune Spirit of Power, Wisdom and Love in 
which the entire composite structure lives, moves and has its being.
" In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was 
without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, 
Let there be light, and there was light." With these words begins the Sacred 
Script which is the sacramental token of that Living Word by whom all things 
were made, and are still in the making, and whose life is the light of men. The 
candidate who recovers that lost Word, in the sense of regaining vital organic 
integration into it, and who, therefore, is one with its Life and its Light, is 
able to verify this old creation-story in its personal application to himself. 
He stands in the presence of his own " earth "--the stone vault or dense matrix 
out of which his finer being has emerged-and of his own " heavens " or ethereal 
body of substantialized radiance which (as the iridescent sash of the Order is 
meant to denote) now covers him with light as with a garment. He is able to 
discern that it was himself who at first was " without form and void " and who 
in virtue of that Fiat Lux ! has at last become transformed from chaos and 
unconsciousness into a form so perfect and lucid as to become a co-conscious 
vehicle of Divine Wisdom itself.
With this symbolic attainment of Beatific Vision at the restoration to light, 
the effective part of the Royal Arch Ceremony as an initiatory rite concludes. 
What follows upon it is anti-climax and allegorical exposition of a similar 
nature to the traditional history in the Master Mason's Degree. This takes the 
form of a mythos or dramatic narrative by the three sojourners, describing their 
release from captivity in Babylon, their return to Jerusalem under an impulse to 
assist in rebuilding the destroyed national temple, their work among its ruins 
and the discovery of an ancient and apparently important archive The 
perspicacious mind will not fail to perceive in this historical or 
quasi-historical narrative an allegory of the spiritual process which has been 
going on within the candidate himself. It is he, as it is every human soul, that 
has been in Babylonian bondage, in captivity to the Babel-confusion of mundane 
existence, the tyranny of material interests, and the chaos of his own disordere 
d nature. It is he who, in revolt from these, has in reflective moments " sat 
down and wept by the waters of Babylon "--the transient flux of temporal 
things-and " remembered Zion," in a yearning for inward freedom and permanent 
peace of heart. It is he who finds the temple of his old natural self worthless 
and in ruins, and realizes that upon its site he must rebuild another and 
worthier one. From within himself comes the urge of the inward Lord (Kurios) 
which (under the mask of Cyrus the king) bids him forthwith depart from his 
captivity and go up to his true native-land and re-erect the Lord's house. It is 
himself who discovers among the rubble of his old self the plans and the 
material for the new structure. And ultimately when that new structure is 
completed and, when from natural man he has become reorganized into spiritual 
man, it is he who is able to perceive the wonders of his own constitution, to 
behold his own " earth " and his own " heavens " now fused into a unity to whi 
ch both hi s material and his spiritual nature were necessary contributors.
The constitution of the Chapter as first revealed to the candidate is, 
therefore, a symbol of his perfected organism. He sees that it is polarized East 
and West; the East occupied by the three Principals, signifying his spiritual 
pole; the West, occupied by the three Sojourners, his psychic and materialized 
pole; each triad being the reflex of the other, yet each triad being an organic 
unity in itself. St. John testifies to this (and the ceremonial rite is made 
conformable to the teaching of that great Initiate) when he writes: " There are 
three that bear record in heaven, and these three are one. And there are three 
that bear witness in earth, and these three agree in one." The meaning of this 
metaphysical assertion is that, just as a ray of white light splits up (as in 
the rainbow) into three primary colours which still remain organically united, 
so both the self-knowing Spirit in man and his psychical nature, although 
monadic essentially, are prismatically dissociable into a trinity. The Sp irit 
in man in its triple aspects is, therefore, appropriately typified by the three 
Principals. They represent the three high attributes of the Spirit--Holiness, 
Royal Supremacy, Functional Power--referred to in the title of the Order; 
Holy-Royal-Arch. The middle and neutral term of these three must be considered 
as differentiating itself into a passive and an active, or a negative and a 
positive aspect; although all three act conjointly and as one (as is in fact the 
case with the three Principals of a Chapter). These three aspects of monadic 
Spirit are personified as Haggai (passive), Joshua (active), with Zerubabel as 
the middle term from which the other two issue and into which they merge. For 
the central Majesty is in one of its aspects silent and withdrawn and in the 
other functionally active and compulsive.
So too, with the triad of Sojourners at the other pole. They represent the 
unitary human Ego or personality also in its threefold aspects. They are the 
incarnated antitype or physicalized reflex of man's archetypal unincarnated and 
overshadowing Spirit. Hence they are designated Sojourners, as being but 
transient consociated pilgrims or wayfarers upon a plane of impermanence, in 
contrast with the enduring life of the deathless spirit whose projection upon 
this lower world they are. Psychologically, human personality is distributed 
into a passive negative subconsciousness and an active positive intelligence, 
linked together by a central co-ordinating principle, the combined three 
constituting man's unitary individuality. My Ego with its central and directive 
power of will is my principal sojourner; my subconsciousness with its passive 
intuitional capacity, and my practical intelligence with its active and 
connecting powers of thought and understanding, are my assistant sojourners. Let 
me see to it that, like their symbolic representatives, they are kept clothed in 
white and so able to reflect and react to their correspondences in the eastern 
or spiritual pole of my being.
The nexus or connecting medium between man's spiritual and bodily poles is 
represented by a third triad impersonated by the two Scribes and the Janitor. 
The more important of these scribes is attached to the East pole and is as it 
were its emissary towards the West; the other is associated with the Western 
pole and his activities are directed Eastwards; whilst the Door-keeper is the 
point of contact with the world without. In one of their many significances they 
typify the middle term between Spirit and Matter--the astral medium or psychic 
bridge, in virtue of which contact between them is possible.
Heavily veiled beneath the sacrementalism of a council of the Jewish 
Sanhedrim, the Royal Arch Ceremony therefore exhibits in a most graphic manner 
the psychologic rationale of the final stage of regeneration. To the literalist, 
unacquainted with the fact that, in both Sacred Writ and the teaching of the 
Mysteries, surface appearances are always intended to be transposed into 
spiritual values and that quasi-historic characters are meant to be 
impersonations of philosophic facts or principles, some difficulty may be felt 
on being asked to translate the quasi-historicity of the ceremonial text into 
the spiritualized interpretation here offered. The education and enlightenment 
of the understanding is, however, one of the deliberate intentions of Initiatory 
Rites, and until the mind is able to rise above merely material facts and 
habituate itself to functioning in the truer realm of ideas which materialize 
into facts and make facts possible, there is small chance of its profiting from 
Rites like t hose of Masonry, which are of wholly negligible value but for the 
spiritual force and vitalizing energy of their inherent ideas. It may, 
therefore, be both helpful and a corroboration of what has been said if we 
scrutinize the Hebrew names of a Chapter's officers; what they yield upon 
analysis will demonstrate that those officers impersonate ideas rather than 
represent persons.
1. " Zerubabel, prince of the people." The name literally means " a sprouting 
forth from Babel, or from among the people." " Babel " and "people " are two 
forms of expressing the same idea and the English word is almost identical with 
the Hebrew one. Society as a whole, the multitude, " the people " (" bebeloi," 
as it is in Greek), at all times of the world's history constitutes a Babel of 
confused aims and interests. But there are always individuals intellectually or 
spiritually in advance of the crowd and whose ideas, teachings or example shoot 
ahead of it, and to such leaders the name Zerubabel would apply. But this 
illustration does not express the deeper sense in which the word must be 
construed, which is one of personal application. The individual is himself a 
mob, a chaos, a multitude of confused desires, thoughts, passions, until these 
are brought into discipline. But, present even amidst these and sprouting up 
from among them, the ordinary man is conscious of a higher and spiritual el 
ement in him, which he may cultivate or disregard, but which in his best moments 
flames up above his lower disordered nature, convinces him of the errors of his 
ways, and entices him to live from that higher level. That loftier element is 
expressed by the word "Zerubabel "; it is the apex and focus point of his 
spirituality as distinguished from his ordinary carnal intelligence; the summit 
of all his faculties, the " prince " of his " people." Those same faculties or " 
people" are referred to in the word meaning " My people having obtained mercy" 
(or become regenerate), and in the text " The people that sat in darkness have 
seen a great light."
2. " Haggai the Prophet." As has been shown before, the spiritual principle 
differentiates into a passive and an active aspect. " Haggai " represents the 
passive aspect and signifies at once the blissful and self-contemplative nature 
of the spirit. It is called " the prophet" because of the power of insight and 
omniscience characterizing that which transcends the sense of time and abides 
eternally, and because it projects into the lower intelligence intuitions, fore 
glimpses and intimations of a prophetic nature. From the same word is derived 
The Greek word " hagios," holy.
3. " Joshua, the son of Josedek, the high priest," personifies the active 
executive aspect of spirit. Literally Joshua means the " divine saviour," and 
Josedek " divine righteousness," whilst the " high priest " connotes a 
mediatorial factor between man and Deity. The title in its entirety therefore 
intimates that the human spirit or divine principle in man functions 
intermediately between Deity and man's lower nature to promote the latter's 
salvation and perfection. We have previously shown how the Master Mason must be 
his own high priest and " walk upon " the chequered floor-work of his elementary 
nature by learning to trample upon it. Thus the Three Principals form a unity 
figuring man's spiritual pole in its triple aspects; they represent the summit 
of his being as it lives on the plane of the Spirit--holy, royal, supreme 
blissful because in a state of holiness or wholeness; royal because a son of the 
King of all; powerful because of its power to subdue, transmute and redeem all 
that is be low its own purity and perfection.
4 & 5. Ezra and Nehemiah. In the great Mystery system of Egypt, which 
long anteceded the Hebrew system, the regenerate candidate, who had achieved the 
highest possible measure of self-transmutation of his lower nature, was accorded 
the title of Osiris. It was the equivalent of attaining Christhood. The nature 
of the perfectioning process and the rituals in connection therewith are, thanks 
to certain modern scholars, available to us and are recommended to the student 
who desires to know how arduous and real that process was and the extremely high 
degree of regeneration aimed at. In Hebrew the title Osiris became changed into 
Azarias (and sometimes Zeruiah) and shall further corrupted into Esdras and 
Ezra, the name of the senior Scribe of the Royal Arch. To understand the 
significance of the two Scribes Ezra and Nehemiah it is necessary to recall 
that, in the Biblical account of the return from Babylonian captivity, these two 
were leading men. Transposing this historicized narrative into its spi ritual 
implication, Ezra and Nehemiah personify two distinct stages of the mystical 
progress made by the candidate who essays to renounce the Babel of his lower 
nature and, by reorganizing himself, regain his native spiritual home and 
condition. "Nehemiah " (whose place in the Chapter is in the South West) is a 
figure of a certain measure of that reorganization and return. Like his Biblical 
prototype, he symbolizes the candidate engaged in rebuilding the wall of 
Jerusalem, and occupied in the great work of self-reconstruction, from which he 
will not be beguiled into coming down by the appeals and blandishments of the 
outer world. " Ezra " (whose position is in the North East) indicates a much 
more advanced measure of progress from West to East. The discerning student who 
will peruse the Biblical books of Nehemiah and Ezra (including the Apocryphal 
books of Esdras) in this light, and with this key to their true purport, will 
not fail to profit by the instruction they will yield. Hence too they are called 
" scribes "; both of them are recorders of, and testifiers to, distinct but 
representative experiences encountered in the inner man at different stages of 
the " great work " of self-integration and journeying from a Babylon condition 
to the spiritual Jerusalem.
Here we bring to an end our examination of the true meaning and purpose of 
the Royal Arch Ceremony. Dealing as it does with a supreme human experience 
which none can fully appreciate without undergoing it, it is the greatest and 
most momentous rite in Masonry, and no one who studies it comprehendingly and in 
its sacramental significance will withhold admiration either for the profound 
knowledge and insight of the now unidentifiable mystic and initiate who 
conceived it or for the skill with which he compiled it and cast his knowledge 
into dramatic expression. The pity of it is that those who practise the rite 
make no effort to penetrate its meaning and are content with the unenlightened 
perfunctory performance of a ritual which even exoterically is singularly 
striking, beautiful and suggestive. The least reflection upon it must suggest 
that Masonry is here dealing with the building-work of no outward structure, but 
with the re-erection of the fallen, disordered temple of the human soul; and tha 
t even assuming that it but memorialized some long past historic events, those 
events can have no vital bearing upon the life, character or conduct of anyone 
to-day and would not justify the existence of an elaborate secret Order to 
perpetuate them. But if those events and this rite be symbolic of something 
deeper and something personal; if they sacramentalize truths perpetually valid 
and capable of present realization in those who ceremonially re-enact them, then 
they call for fuller and more serious attention than is usually accorded. 
Moreover, if the Royal Arch be the symbolic representation of a supreme 
experience attained and attainable only in sanctity and by the regenerate, it 
follows that the Craft Degrees leading up to and qualifying for it will take on 
a much deeper sense than they commonly receive and must be regarded as solemn 
instructions in the requisite preparation for that regenerate condition. The 
Craft wo rk is unfinished without the attainment forth shadowed in the Royal 
Arch . That attainment in turn is impossible without the discipline of the 
preliminary labours, the purification of mind and desire, and that crucifixion 
unto death of the self will which constitute the tests of merit qualifying for 
entrance to that Jerusalem which has no geographical site and which is called 
the " City of Peace " because it implies conscious rest of the soul in God. For 
many, the suggestion that the attainment of such a condition is possible or 
thinkable whilst we are still here in the flesh may be surprising or even 
incredible. But such doubt is unwarranted, and the Masonic doctrine negates it. 
As has been already shown to the contrary, that doctrine postulates not the 
absence but the possession of the material organism as a necessary factor in 
advancing the evolution of the human spirit; that organism is the vessel in 
which our base metal has to be transmuted into gold; it is the fulcrum 
furnishing the resistance requisite for the spirit's energizing into unfoldment 
a nd self-con sciousness. Physical death is therefore not an advancement of, but 
an interference with, the work of regeneration. " The night cometh when no man 
can work," and when the soul merely passes from labour to refreshment until 
recalled to labour once more at the task of self-conquest. It is but figurative 
of that necessary dying to self which implies the voluntary decreasing 
assertiveness of our temporal nature to permit of a corresponding ascendancy of 
the spiritual.
But if in the hands of its present exponents Masonry is now rather a dead 
letter than a living effectual Initiatory Rite capable of quickening the 
spirituality of its candidates, it still remains for the earnest and perspicuous 
aspirant to the deeper verities an instructive economy of the science of 
self-gnosis and regeneration. For such these papers are written, that they may 
both learn something of the original design of the Order and educate their 
imagination in the principles of that science. And to such, in conclusion, may 
be commended that Temple-hymn of the Hebrew Initiates, which of all the Psalms 
of David refers with most pointed reference to the subject-matter of the supreme 
Order of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem and the personal attainment of the 
blessed and perfected condition which that title implies:-
" I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up into the house of the Lord; 
Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a 
city that is compact together; Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the 
Lord.... For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of 
David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem ! they shall prosper that love it. Peace 
is within her wills and plenteousness within her palaces. For my brethren and 
companions' sake I will say, Peace be within thee. (Psalm CXXII.)
In those few lines is sketched all that is implied in the symbolic spectacle 
that greets the eyes of the Royal Arch Mason at the supreme moment of his 
restoration to light. Exalted into and become identified with the supreme bliss, 
peace and selfconsciousness of the All-Pervasive and Omniscient Spirit, he sees 
how he has " gone up " out of the Babylon of his old complex and disordered 
nature and upon its ruins has built for himself an ethereal body of glory, a " 
house of the Lord." He sees how this ecstatic condition and this new-made 
celestial body are the sublimated products of his former self and its temporal 
organism. He sees how each separate part and faculty of that old nature, or as 
it were each of the zodiacal divisions of his own microcosm, has contributed its 
purified essence to form a new organism, " a new heaven and a new earth "; and 
how these essences, like twelve diversified tribes, have assembled convergently 
and finally coalesced and become fused into a unity or new whole, " a city that 
is compact together." And it is this " city," this blessed condition, which 
mystically is called "Jerusalem," within whose walls is the peace which passeth 
understanding and whose palaces reveal to the enfranchised soul the unfailing 
plenteousness and fecundity of the indissoluble trinity of Wisdom and Love and 
Power from which man and the universe have issued and into which they are 
destined to return.
The antithesis of this " heavenly city " is the confused Babylon city of this 
world, of which it is written to all captives therein, " Come out of her, My 
people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her 
plagues ! " (Rev. xviii. 4). And, in a word, the Royal Arch Ceremony 
sacramentally portrays the last phase of the mystical journey of the exiled soul 
from Babylon to Jerusalem as it escapes from its captivity to this lower world 
and, " passing the veils " of matter and form, breaks through the bondage of 
corruption into the world of the formless Spirit and realizes the glonous 
liberty of the children of God.