Dormer Index

Symposium of Papers Contributed by Members of the Circle

(Part Two)


Wor. Bro. R. A. L. Harland, P.M., Lodge No. 1679

One of the most important problems confronting Freemasonry today is the necessity to provide adequate Masonic education to meet the possible difficulties in the highly critical and changing era which lies before us. It is my humble opinion that only by means of a concerted drive in teaching both our old and new members the genuine tenets and principles of the Craft can we maintain and uphold the dignity and high importance of Freemasonry in the rapidly changing world. I therefore congratulate Wor. Bro. C.H. Blake upon his timely Paper on this vital subject, and would commend what he has written for our guidance to all those who are anxious to make their contribution towards the advancement of Masonic knowledge.

It is unfortunately true that in recent years the Craft has admitted too many members too quickly and lost the interest of many of them by the failure to teach after initiation the full meaning of the several degrees. In order to meet the demands of the future and thereby ensure that brethren generally have a better understanding of our Masonic system, we must use every means at our disposal to encourage study and discussion on all proper and convenient occasions. It is in this field of endeavour that the appeal made by Wor. Bro. Blake may bear fruit and students of this Circle can render great assistance by bringing his excellent Paper to the notice of all concerned.

"MASONIC LIGHT" The responsibility of a Master to his Lodge

by Wor. Bro. C.H. Blake, Temple Lodge No. 5279

Brethren of the Circle.

I address you in that way because most of the time I shall be speaking to an imaginary Lodge. When on occasions I speak to you personally, I shall address you as "Brethren of the Circle."

To write anything new for The Dormer Masonic Study Circle is an extremely difficult task. Considering the profundity and range of the lectures already given, many of which have been published as Transactions; considering the size and scope of the Circle Library, there can be few, if any, topics left to be dealt with. Moreover, the Progressive Reflections by W. Bro. Topley were written mainly to point out to a Master his responsibility to a candidate concerning the question of Masonic Light.

In spite of what I have just said and of my own limitations, I feel there must be members of the Circle who would welcome further guidance in the difficult but essential problem of putting over to their Lodge some ideas on the real and deep meaning of Masonry.

W.Bro. Bentley has said that the Circle represents the University aspect of Masonry. What must be recognised once and for all is that what has to be put over to the Lodge is the primary school aspect. It is worse than useless to expect the ordinary hard-headed man of the world to be interested in things mystical unless they are put in a most elementary way. It might be very dangerous to stress the Spiritual at the expense of the Physical side of man. In this life at least, man must live physically; mention need be made only of marriage, procreation, a house to live in, money, food, rates and taxes. Yet the spiritual meaning has to be given and there is no doubt from the several references in the Installation ceremony, that it is Spiritual Light that the Master is required to impart.

The ideas I am going to mention are not limited to a Master of a Lodge. Probably at any given moment there are not many Masters in the Circle, but there are plenty of potential Masters and plenty of Past Masters. The time has come when the first rush of entrants to Masonry after the Second World War has ceased; many Lodges are finding that they cannot work two degrees at every meeting and there is thus an increasing opportunity for Masters and Past Masters to give short talks on the many aspects of Masonic meaning. I gave four such talks during my Mastership. It is those talks (with a few developments), that I want to give to you. I can assure you that I was very frightened; frightened that what I had to say would not be accepted; frightened that I might be too elementary or too profound; frightened I might be accused of acting as a schoolmaster. I can, however, assure you that my fears were groundless and that there was a demand that the talks should be printed. The talks themselves are not of the type suitable for this Circle. I am not here in order to help you to learn more about Freemasonry: I am here to encourage you, perhaps to inspire you to help others to learn more about Freemasonry. As you must know, there are some Freemasons - I hope a very small minority - to whom the ritual is so much mumbo-jumbo, which they have to sit through in order to have a smoke, a drink and a meal in what to them is a private club devoted to social and benevolent purposes. There are others - generally masons of some years experience - for whom the ritual as it stands is sufficient: it means something to them and they are satisfied. But there are hosts of younger masons, who have never heard any explanation, who have discovered that Lodges of Instruction are merely Lodges of Rehearsal and who will drift aimlessly along unless something is done for them. You, Brethren, surely are some of those who should do it.

I am here then because I have done what I am asking you to do, with sufficient success for my Lodge to print 500 copies of my talks. What I feel I must stress again and again is that it is very difficult for people of University standard to get down to the Elementary School level and it is somewhat difficult so to arrange the talks that they can be given in open Lodge. Therefore during this reading, I want you to concentrate not so much on whether you agree with my ideas - those you will change to suit yourself - but on whether what I say is really helping an uninformed brother to appreciate the real meaning of masonry.

Brethren of the Lodge.

Let me say, here and now, and most emphatically, that under no circumstances am I laying down the law. I doubt whether anyone is in a position to say: "This is what Freemasonry means." I certainly am not. Anything therefore that I say, you may reject, or preferably think of a better meaning. Moreover if inadvertently I offend your susceptibilities or prejudices, whether they be religious, philosophic, or masonic, will you please accept my humble apologies.

I start with a question - "Why is Freemasonry secret?" With all respect to those who would say, and to some extent rightly say, that it is secret because of the things we must not write down or communicate to the outside world, I would suggest the reason goes much deeper I believe that Freemasonry is secret because it is an off-shoot or a vestige of the Ancient Mysteries of the primitive civilisations. I am not suggesting that any direct line has been or ever will be traced, but the similarities are so marked that I cannot avoid the conclusion that there must be some connection.

Why then were the Ancient Mysteries secret? There are many reasons; may I give you one? They were secret because they taught and practised things that cannot be taught to, nor practised by, uninitiated or unprepared men. As doubtless you know, the usual period of initiation is generally supposed to have been seven years; seven years of profound study, followed for those who were thought worthy of going on - and they could not have been a large majority - by five years of equally profound study and contemplation. Those who successfully passed that stage - and they must have been a small majority - could rightly claim that they were on the steps to Mastership.

Will you notice in passing that 7+5=12. Some of you might like to think of that as a possible meaning of the "hour of High Twelve"; others might like to think of it in connection with a well-known story in the V. of the S.L., where a child was found discoursing learnedly with the doctors in the Temple - and that child was aged twelve.

Now may I take one of the secrets of Freemasonry? All of us here know that in the first degree we raise a L.H. Pillar at the entrance of K.S.'s T. Most of us know that later we raise a R.H. Pillar. We then pass between the pillars and enter the Temple, when we find that the Masonic Temple is different from K.S.'s T., for whereas the latter was finished, used, destroyed and rebuilt on more than one occasion, the Masonic Temple is unfinished.

What does that mean? I suggest that the two pillars represent two universal principles and when you have found out what they are and that they work together - which is symbolically implied by passing between them - you realise that your life work is the completing of an unfinished temple. I admit that is none too clear, but I submit that is so of all profound truths and of all profound literature which enshrines those truths, of which the V. of the S.L. is the outstanding example.

May I now ask you to consider for one moment that wonderful period of architecture of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries that we call Gothic, when operative masonry was at its height? Consider for example our own Westminster Abbey or Notre Dame in Paris or thousands of examples in Western Europe. What do we find? Two towers, two pillars at the West entrance; you proceed between them, enter the Temple and advance towards the East. Brethren - all progress in Freemasonry is made by advancing from West to East.

Brethren of the Circle.

In my opinion such an Introduction hints at the profundity of the subject, touches on the question of numbers, emphasises the importance of the V. of the S.L. and leaves certain things such as the explanation of the pillars to be dealt with later. In other words, intelligent brethren will have their interest aroused, while others will not be unduly bored as the whole talk, including any preface, will not exceed ten minutes.

Brethren of the Lodge,

There is one thing that no F.M. can get away from and that is a belief in God. It is the first question that a candidate should be asked; it is almost the first question that an initiate is asked; it occurs in such a variety of forms throughout the ritual that there must be a deep meaning involved.

I suggest to you that Freemasonry is an approach to God in three phases, which I am going to call Physical, Psychical and Spiritual. As I want you to understand those terms in precisely the way in which I am going to use them, I will give you an example. Everybody here agrees that he has a physical mind: that - I am going to call a manifestation of God as physical, emphasising the fact that by physical, I do not mean flesh or blood, but the mental attributes of the physical mind. But you all know that you have something more than that: you have a mind that never sleeps, that works 24 hours a day on your behalf, a mind that can well be called the supporter of the body but which possesses far greater powers than those, of which our knowledge is in its infancy. The inner mind, the subconscious mind, I am going to call a manifestation of God as "psychical." Most of us believe that over and above that and permeating it through and through, there is a spiritual essence, which I am going to call a manifestation of God as "spiritual." My theme is that Freemasonry is an approach to God in the three mental phases of physical mind, psychical mind and spiritual mind. Before, however, I apply that to Freemasonry, let us have a look at the Lodge.

Two questions have been asked from time immemorial: where have we come from? where are we going to? - the problem of the "whence" and the "whither." Freemasonry gives its answer: it says we have come from the East, we are in the West, we are going back to the East. The East is the source of spiritual light, which is why the W.M. and P.M.s sit in the East, because they, symbolically, have attained that perfection. The West, where we are in this life, has no spiritual light of its own; the spiritual light it possesses is reflected from the East, hence it is represented by the Moon. The North is the cold, dark, material side of life and if it were possible to light our lodges properly, it would be in constant darkness, except for the artificial light supplied to the Treasurer and Secretary, who play no part whatever in the symbolical side of Freemasonry. By contrast, the South is teeming with light and is represented by the Sun at the meridian.

You now realise why the candidate comes in at the N.W. door. He comes in at the West, because that is where we all are in this life; he comes in at the North, because the candidate, symbolically at least, represents a man who has lived a material life, but who has felt an urge for something higher - "where were you first prepared to be made a F.M.?" "In my h-t." But he knows nothing of that spiritual light he is seeking and therefore comes in h-w-. The urge however is sufficiently strong for him to leave behind mo- and m- s- which represent the material side of life. After certain ceremonies and an obligation, that h.w. falls from his eyes and he perceives the three G. Lts. I suggest to you that the three G.L's represent a realisation by the candidate of the existence of God, in a universal sense, as Spiritual, Psychical and Physical. I cannot now tell you why the V. of the S.L., the S. and the C. represent respectively those three stages, nor of course am I suggesting that is their only meaning. I do however put it to you most emphatically, that if a candidate is a man who has led a material life, who is seeking spiritual light, who is willing to study and contemplate for years, that a time will come, perhaps suddenly, perhaps gradually, when he will realise, first, that God exists and second, that God exists as Spiritual, Psychical and Physical.

Almost immediately, symbolically; after more years of study in fact; the candidate realises precisely the same thing in himself - in other words, he perceives the three Lesser Lights-lesser, because the realisation is now on the plane of the individual. Your ritual calls the three L.Ls. the Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the lodge, terms which must at times have mystified you. May I give you a clue? Whenever you can apply the term " lodge," as used in the ritual, to yourself as an individual, you are the track of a deeper meaning. You as an individual, are the lodge, then the Sun, the Moon and the M. of the L. are three mental faculties in you - the Spiritual, the Psychical and the Physical - of which the Physical, in this life is the Master. That is why the purpose of the first degree is the purification of the Physical mind. Your ritual speaks of it in one place as "moral truth and virtue." What is that but the purification of the Physical mind? In another place it speaks of dedicating your heart, thus purified from every baneful and malignant passion, fitted only for the reception of truth and wisdom. What is that but the purification of the Physical mind?

In the very next second, the W.M. begins a discourse by addressing the candidate as "brother" and your ritual emphasizes the fact that this is the first time the candidate has been so addressed. I suggest to you that when a man has discovered the existence of God in the universe and has also discovered the existence of God in himself, he has placed himself in a peculiar relationship with God, that can best be expressed as Father and Son. In one sense we may all be sons of God, but surely those who have realised their relationship with the Father are in a very special sense - "sons" and therefore "brothers." Whether that is the origin of the " Brotherhood of Freemasonry " is not for me to say.

In that same discourse, the W.M. goes on to tell the candidate that when he came into the lodge, something was presented to his l--b. In other words, he was running into danger. There is a very real danger in probing the spiritual and psychical mind. There is also a very real danger in a materially minded man seeking spiritual light, because it demands a rebirth. Birth in lower nature is disruptive; in higher nature is painful and can be dangerous. The same is true of the birth of an idea. But a mason is safe because he believes in God; which is why at the beginning of the ceremony a candidate is asked:- "In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?" A belief in God is, as it were, a sheet anchor that keeps your mind pointed in the right direction.

The W.M. goes on to tell the candidate that he had a c-t- with a r-n- around his neck which would have rendered any attempt at retreat equally fatal. In other words, despite the danger, once you have seen the light you must go forward, unless you want to commit moral suicide.

After being presented with his apron, the story of which I will leave for a moment, the candidate is placed in the N.E. part of the lodge and your ritual tells you why. May I put it another way? He is placed in the N. because the candidate has, symbolically, led a material life and he may still have that material urge; he is placed in the E. because he has been through a spiritual development, he has perceived the G. and L. lights, he has seen the E. He is now placed midway between the two, in order that he can choose; that choice is represented in the ritual by a trial. Three reasons are given for that trial, of which the second is to evince to the brethren that the candidate has neither m. nor m.s. about him, for if he has, the ceremony of his initiation must be repeated. In other words, will the candidate stop in the N. or will he go forward to the E.? The fact that in modern symbolic Freemasonry almost every candidate, who wishes, goes forward, does not alter the real meaning of the ritual, nor the fact that in the Ancient Mysteries, only those who were worthy to do so went forward, so that to be a Master of the Mysteries was a unique achievement.

Brethren of the Circle.

It will be noticed that my explanation of the symbolic meaning of the three principal officers is different from that generally put forward. If you do not agree, you will of course make such changes as fit your particular views. To me the essential Key is that the W.M. represents a physical man, who has attained spiritual perfection as far as is possible in the Lodge. Just as the W.M. represents the utmost spiritual advance that can be made by physical man in the Lodge, so the G.M. represents the utmost spiritual advance that can be made by physical man in this life.

Brethren of the Lodge.

I will now apply my theme to the Apron and in so doing I must speak about numbers. You cannot get away from the fact that numbers exist in Freemasonry; the question is "Do they mean anything?" I hope to show you in a few minutes that they mean quite a lot, but I must first say that in my opinion what has happened is something like this. The great thinkers of the earlier civilisations contemplated at length the eternal problems of the "whence" and the "whither"; where have we come from, what are we doing here, where are we going to, and, within reason, came more or less to the same conclusions. Those conclusions however were far too profound to put before the uneducated masses: they therefore had to be hidden. Of the many ways in which they were hidden, may I suggest three:- in names, in numbers and in parables. Let us then probe a hide into the mysteries of numbers, certain of which have from time immemorial been taken to represent certain things.

The Apron as presented to an E.A. is a plain unadorned rectangle, a four-sided figure, and "four" is the number usually associated with the "physical." It generally applies to the physical body, but as the body without the mind is inanimate clay, we can surely apply it to the physical mind. I suggest that when the S.W. tells the candidate that the Apron is more ancient than the Golden Fleece, more honourable than the Star, Garter, etc., and that if he does not disgrace it, it will never disgrace him, he is referring to the original perfection of the physical body and the physical mind. That is why the purpose of the 1st degree is the purification of the physical mind.

The E.A.'s apron however should have the flap turned up. This is an extremely interesting example of the varied way in which symbolic Freemasonry can be regarded. I have heard it said that the flap is turned up because in operative masonry, the E.A.s did the dirty work, part of which was the carrying of heavy stones. In the absence of mechanical help, the obvious way to do that is to grasp the stone to one's middle and without a flap, the workmen would have got their clothes unnecessarily dirty. Interesting but not very profound: let's go deeper.

With the flap up, our rectangle has been turned in a five-sided figure and five is the psychical number. Need I remind you when you take five steps; need I remind you which class of masons is so frequently referred to in fives or groups of five, of which 15 is the commonest? Five then is the psychical number and your ritual tells you to contemplate the intellectual faculties - which I suggest are the infinite potentialities of the psychical mind - and to trace them in their development, through the paths of heavenly science, even to the throne of God himself.

But we can go deeper still, because the flap is itself a triangle, a three-sided figure and "three" is the spiritual number. It is just amazing the number of things in Freemasonry that go in threes. I will not bore you with a list of them, but should like to mention two - there are three degrees, including the Royal Arch - not four but three. You take three steps in the 1st degree because you are starting a course of spiritual development; the steps get longer because the degrees get more spiritual each succeeding degree takes you one step nearer the East than the preceding one. The flap then represents the spiritual, but the E.A., who, symbolically, has led a material life, has but the dimmest conception of the spiritual and for him the spiritual flap is hovering above the physical. The F.C. however has made some spiritual program; in his apron the spiritual flap is folded into the physical rectangle; he realises that the physical contains the spiritual and to emphasize that, two blue rosettes appear on his apron and "blue" is the spiritual colour.

We can however go deeper still, because the spiritual "three" and the physical "four" together make the perfect "seven." Seven is the perfect number. Outside Freemasonry we find the world was made in seven days - actually or symbolically is not for me to say - we find there are seven colours in the spectrum, seven notes in music, the eighth being the octave and starting the whole series over again at a higher or lower level. Inside Freemasonry we find there are seven officers in a lodge, that seven form a perfect lodge; you know when you take seven steps you realise that those steps are divided into three and four; that the "four" are bold or marching steps, as if you were deliberately treading the physical beneath your feet - a most necessary mental state at that advanced spiritual phase. Seven then is the perfect number and in a M.M.'s apron, not only is there a third rosette to form a spiritual triangle with the other two, but two groups of silver tassels appear and each group consists of seven.

The apron then is a pictorial representation of the triple spiritual development in Freemasonry, from the physical "four" through the psychical "five" to the perfect "seven," which, in this life at least, consists of the spiritual "three" plus the physical "four."

Brethren of the Lodge,

I said in my introduction that having raised two pillars at the entrance of our "Temple," we entered and found it incomplete. We also realised that our life work was the completing of this unfinished temple. The question is:- "How is this completion to be accomplished?" The answer is:- "By means of the Spiritual degrees." You will not expect me in open lodge to take you through that degree, but there are two points which I feel I may be allowed to mention.

The first is that the method is the method of sacrifice. You cannot get away from the fact that sacrifice of some sort or another plays a large part in that degree. It is interesting to note in passing that there is hardly a religion worthy of the name or that has survived the test of time, that has not a sacrifice as its central theme. What that sacrifice means to you is not for me to say, but I think I may suggest that from the point of view of masonic ritual, the most suitable meaning is the sacrifice of your lower to your higher self. This you will remember is the constant theme of the epistles of St. Paul, who, in his own words, was a steward of the mysteries of God."

The second point can be approached from one or two parts of the ritual. You will remember a very interesting little ceremony, in which the two Wardens tell the Master that they have discovered the "S.S." situated in the centre of the building. Remembering that the building is the lodge, that you as individuals are the lodge, that the Wardens represent two of your mental functions and that the "S.S." is "G," it is obvious that the symbolic meaning of that ceremony is, that at a certain stage of your masonic development, you realise that "G" is situated in the centre of your being. Notice when that occurs: it occurs after you have been through the symbolic seven years of initiation and five years of a F.C.; in other words it occurs at the hour of High Twelve. It is possible that in operative masonry, the hour of High Twelve was an hour of the clock, but surely in symbolic masonry it represents a mental condition. It is that mental condition which enables you to realise the central truth of masonry.

In another part of our ritual, the Wardens tell the Master that they have lost something, which they hope to recover by means of a "C." This question of a "C" is a most interesting one. If you will think for a moment, you will realise that right through embryology and right through biology, we have growth from a "C"; in other words, almost the whole of physical life as we know it, has developed from a "C." Why not apply the same principle to spiritual development? Does that not bring us very near the meaning of the Great Master's statement that "the kingdom of Heaven is within you "?

There is a certain discourse that I would urge you to re-read in connection with what I have just said; a discourse commencing:-" The light of a M.M. is but darkness visible." In it the W.M. tells the candidate that as a result of what he has been through, his refections will be guided to that most interesting of all human studies, the knowledge of himself. I have tried to show you that the knowledge of yourself is a knowledge of a triple mental approach to God - a knowledge of a physical mind that you have got to purify, a knowledge of a psychical mind that you have got to explore, a knowledge of a spiritual mind that you have got to develop. The W.M. goes on to tell the candidate that if he continues to listen to the voice of nature, he will realise that even in this perishable frame resides a vital and immortal principle. That is the "S.S." that is the "C," that is the basic secret of Freemasonry.

I feel that I cannot conclude in a better way than by relating a story well known to most of you, but worth repeating if only one of you has not heard it before. When the gods stole from man his divinity, they met in solemn conclave to decide what to do with it. After some deliberation one god said:- " Let us bury it in the farthest corner of the world." "No," said the others, " for man is a great voyager and one day he will discover it." After further deliberation another god said:- " Let us sink it in the deepest ocean." "No," said the others, "for man is an avid discoverer and one day he will find it." Finally after much deliberation, a wise old god said:- "Let us bury it in man himself; that's the last place where he would ever think of finding it"

Brethren of the Lodge.

As a preface to every talk, I have always said that I am not laying down the law. As my explanation of the 2nd degree deals to some extent with matters that may be controversial and to some brethren even distasteful, it is more than ever necessary that I should say that you may reject anything I am going to say if it is not in accord with your personal views.

My theme is that Masonry is Spiritual Science and brings us back to the East in three steps - the purification of the Physical Mind - the opening up of the Psychical or Inner Mind - the development of the Spiritual Mind. My summary of the Inner Mind in my previous talks was that it is the builder of the body, the mind that works twenty-four hours a day on our behalf and that it contains infinite potentialities of which our knowledge is in its infancy.

The 2nd degree deals with the intellectual faculties with special reference to "the hidden mysteries of nature and science." The Inner Mind is the seat of all inspiration, of all intuition: it is the principle underlying Christian Science and faith healing: it is the essence of scientific Hypnotism and of the more modern Psycho-Analysis: it is the basis of all Psychic phenomena. It is not my intention to talk about Psychic phenomena, but may I in passing mention just this; there is a society of psychical research which prides itself on a scientific investigation of all worth-while cases and publishes its results: in recent years the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London have granted doctorates for theses written specifically on psychical research. That surely indicates that in their opinion there are good grounds for scholarly approach to such a subject.

If you say that you are not interested in such subjects, may I answer that if Freemasonry is true, it will be as true in 2,000 years time as the Ancient Mysteries were true 2,000 years ago. I venture to suggest that we have not got to wait 2,000 years, but that in 100 years time this world will be as different from now in our knowledge of the Inner Mind as it is now from 100 yens ago in our knowledge of more material things. It is possible that the troubles we have been through in the last forty years and the apparent chaos that the world is now in, are labour pains preceding the birth of new ideas and that we are on the threshold of amazing developments in spiritual science.

After this somewhat lengthy introduction to give you some idea of my subject, I now turn to the 2nd degree and commence with a few remarks about the pass-word. The meaning given in the ritual is "plenty," but I understand that a better translation of the Hebrew would be "sprouting forth," an exact definition of a candidate who, having put his physical mind into moral order, now starts on his quest for spiritual development. Corn being our staple diet could very well be used as the symbol of physical life, but Masonry seems to use it as a symbol of spiritual life. When the consecrating officer scatters seeds of corn, he is sowing the spiritual seed which is developed by the brethren during their progress in Freemasonry and reaches its fruition in Grand Lodge; for on the full-dress collar of every Grand Lodge Officer is the full ear of corn. The sprouting ear therefore represents the first signs of real spiritual development and requires spiritual water to assist in that development. To show you that the fall of water, both in the ritual and in the V. of the S.L. has spiritual values, would be too involved at this stage. I therefore throw out the hint to those who are interested and pass on to the candidate's progress to the East.

If it were architecturally possible, the 2nd degree would take place in an upper room and the candidate would literally mount a winding staircase. We preserve the idea by opening "up" the lodge. The idea of "height" is always connected with spiritual things. "Heaven" has always been traditionally "up" and "hell" down: the idea runs through the V. of the S.L. - Mount Sinai - the holy hill of Zion - I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help - the sermon on the Mount. It is preserved in the grips: the word of the degree is given on the knuckle joint; the password is given in the valley to enable you to ascend for the next degree. It is preserved in Christian churches where you go up from the nave to the chancel and up from the chancel to the altar.

The first sign indicates that we are to shield our secrets from the attacks of the insidious: the third warns us that our heart will be given to the r-b of the a-. Who or what are these enemies against whom Joshua is fighting? The r-b-a-, like most allusions in Freemasonry are scriptural and I suggest that when the context in the V. of the S.L. indicates something harmful or evil, they refer to malicious influences in the psychic realm. They may be disembodied personalities: they may be the devils and demons we hear so much about in the gospels: they may be something we do not yet understand. Whatever they are, make no mistake, brethren, there are dangers and difficulties in the psychic world: the powers of darkness are a very real thing. You have heard of spiritual wickedness in high places; you may know something of sorcery, black magic and inversion. There can be only one way to fight the powers of darkness and that is with light and so we find Joshua, using the characteristic sign of a F.C. praying for light, more light and still more light.

May I once more remind you of that most pregnant discourse commencing - "the light of a M.M. is but darkness visible" - in which you are told to be careful to perform your allotted task while it is yet day. May I compare that with the scriptural - "the night cometh when no man can work." Consider that in the next phase of masonic development a time is coming when you will have no light except a glimmering ray. Remember that the lives of saints and mystics show us that at an advanced stage of spiritual progress, terrible darkness is encountered, reminding us that the night is darkest just before the dawn and reminding us also of one possible explanation of that terrible cry - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Such considerations show why it is supremely important in the 2nd degree to get all the light that can be obtained.

The ritual consistently points out the dangers of the spiritual ascent and consistently gives the remedies. An initiate's first experience is that of coming against a sharp point, which he eventually discovers is a poignard, which would have killed him had he rushed forward. Almost immediately afterwards, however, he is asked if he believes in God and hears the comforting words - "Right glad am I to find your faith so well founded: relying on such sure support you may safely rise and follow your leader, for where the name of God is involved, no danger can ensue." Shortly afterwards he is shown the masonic great light - the V. of the S.L. and with that and a belief in God, he is on the right way.

Similarly, in spite of all the dangers I have outlined, the 2nd degree is thus summarised: " Proceeding onwards, still guided in your progress by the principles of moral truth, you were led in the 2nd degree to contemplate the intellectual faculties - the hidden mysteries of nature and science - and to trace them in their development, through the paths of heavenly science, even to the throne of God himself." In other words, whatever the danger, you must go forward, but if all that you discover in the Inner Mind is recognised as emanating from God and is used for God-like purposes, you need have nothing to fear.

With all the knowledge, power and light that such a study provides, you will find yourself on the threshold of more advanced spiritual progress and that, Brethren, takes us to the 3rd degree.

Brethren of the Lodge.


I have suggested that the two pillars represent two universal principles and that when you know what they are and that they work together, you enter the Temple. I have also suggested that great truths are hidden in names.

In the V. of the S.L. the marginal reference to B- is "in strength," but the root meaning is connected with "breathing out," hence with the " voice." You will remember how often creative acts of God are preceded by "And God said." Follow the idea through the V. of the S.L. and you get to the "Word," culminating in the 1st verse of St. John's gospel - "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The same idea occurs in Greek philosophy where it is called the "Logos" and in eastern philosophies where the Sanskrit term is the origin of the Latin-Vox-vocis.

I suggest then that the 1st pillar is a veiled reference to the Creative power of God in the universal sense.

The name of the 2nd pillar I must not mention in the presence of "Apprentices," surely a proof - if such is required - that the secrets of Freemasonry are hidden.

Anyone can read about the pillars in the V. of the S.L.: there is no secrecy there and yet we are told that we must not mention the names, but only letter or halve them. Either the whole thing is absurd or there is a deeper meaning. As a famous writer on things masonic has said - "The secrets of Freemasonry could be broadcast at an agreed hour and it would make no difference to the real secrecy." So much for a recent book and a newspaper article reproducing some of its essential revelations.

However no harm is done in obeying the letter of the law provided the spirit of the law is not forgotten. The name of the 2nd pillar comes from the same root as Jacob and refers to the "ONE." That can be taken in many ways, but I am going to confine myself to the individual meaning. In that sense the "one" is a complete entity separate from any similar entity. Apply that meaning to the life of Jacob. He was a liar; he was unscrupulous; he got the better of his associates by any possible means. Is not that an exact definition of every worldly individual who feels that he can get on only at the expense of others? But Jacob wrestled with an angel: he wrestled all night and did not let go until the dawn broke. From that time he was a changed man and his new name "Israel" is a hidden reference to that change. I suggest that the meaning of this story - and it is the meaning of the 2nd pillar - is the realisation by the individual of the creative power of God in the individual. When that is recognised there is no need to better yourself at the expense of others, because from an infinite source there must always be enough for all.

Thus the two pillars represent two principles - God in the universe and God in the individual. Those are two opposites until the realisation dawns that they are the same thing. Then with the pillars in harmony, the creative work continues and the completion of the Temple can be proceeded with.

These two opposing pillars date from time immemorial. The opening verse of the V. of the S.L. is: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth" and very soon we get "male and female," "good and evil," and so on through all existence. It may even be correct to say that we could not realise anything unless we were able to realise its opposite; light means nothing to those who have never experienced darkness; immortality may be a meaningless term until you have knowledge of death.

The problem of evil is far too complex for me to pretend to deal with here, but I believe that masonry suggests the solution. The floor of the lodge consists of black and white squares and the floor is for the High Priest to walk on. But you as an individual are the lodge and therefore you are the H.P. walking over the black and white squares, experiencing the good and evil of this life. But in whatever direction you go - unless you go round in circles - you come to the edge and meet the spiritual life line connecting the four virtues situated at the four corners. Then you find the squares dissolving, as it were, into much smaller triangles and ending in a frieze where the black and white are hardly discernible.

Just as there can be no reproduction without the contact of male and female, no electricity without the joining of positive and negative, so perhaps there can be no worthwhile living without the opposition of good and evil, of the black and white squares. So the two pillars represent two universal principles, which are in opposition until the individual perceives that they should work together. Then strengthened with the stability that has been established, he proceeds to complete his unfinished temple. Then in the strength of this realisation, he can proceed to establish a house that will stand firm for ever.