Dormer Index

Symposium of Papers Contributed by Members of the Circle

(Part Five)


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

It is my privilege as President of the Circle to introduce to members the fifth part of the excellent symposium of Papers contributed in response to the invitation issued by the Governing Council, as follows:-

"THE OPENING OF THE LODGE" by W. Bro. C. M. de Beer, Travellers Lodge, No. 5820, E.C., Johannesburg, South Africa.

"THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF A MASON'S WORKING TOOLS" by Bro. B. C. Portsmouth & W. Bro. W.C. Ginbey, Lodge of Research No. 277 Western Australia

I would again take the opportunity of expressing thanks to those Overseas members who are regularly submitting Papers to be included in the Transactions of the Circle, and look forward to receiving contributions from an increasing number of Brethren resident both at Home and Overseas. This year (1959) we are celebrating the twenty-first Anniversary of the foundation of the Circle, and I would therefore especially welcome Papers in order to mark this occasion. Manuscripts should be addressed to the Secretary direct and will be given careful consideration.

"THE OPENING OF THE LODGE" by W.Bro. C. M. de BEER, Travellers Lodge, No. 5820, E.C., Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Ye shall seek the truth and the truth shall make you free"

"Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding."

To start on the mystical quest, "to enter the Lodge", presupposes perfect equilibrium and harmonious balance of all faculties, as well as attunement to the higher principles.

This it is that is taken stock of at the opening of the Lodge in the First Degree. It is also an occasion, as are the ceremonies of opening for passing and raising, to attune to higher vibrations by prayers, knocks and appropriate symbols.

"When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

The tyling of the Lodge "to ensure that none but Masons are present "is emblematic of the entering into the closet and of the shutting of the door thereof, shutting out all worldly (non-spiritual) influences.

"Knock and it shall be opened unto you."

The knocks of the degrees ensure or are emblematic of the correct level of vibration according to the state of communion that is sought. They might be interpreted as follows :

First Degree - Work is in progress on all three planes of manifestation on which man's evolution is being carried forward at present

Second Degree - The physical plane has been conquered. Working from the physical plane upwards, man proceeds to weld an equilibrated being on the emotional and mental levels. He pierces through ignorance, makes the personality: "per sono" = through sound, sound through.

Third Degree - Work has now advanced to the extent that the net-work can be thrown over the columns. Unity has been achieved. Work on the physical level is now conducted from the higher plane of emotional/mental balance.

Thus do the knocks of the Second and Third Degrees when interwoven, illustrate the "Star of David".

The Masonic ceremony is a religious service of the highest order - hence the whole being of the candidate must be attuned to the service; therefore, the first care of tyling having been performed (to see that none but Masons are present), the next care is to see that Brethren do appear to order as Masons.

The physical body (tyler), aware that the door to the closet is shut, will ward off all intruders, helped therein by the brain (Inner Guard), who will reject all irrelevant forms of thought and only allow constructive images, whilst the emotive self (Junior Deacon), at the right of (under control of) the spiritual self (Soul) - (Senior Warden), will await the mental impulses (Senior Deacon) to filter through from the fount of Wisdom, (W.M.) and then transmit these to the Intellectual Faculty (Junior Warden) which, in turn and where required, will transmit the now consciously perceived rays of truth to the Brain (inner Guard).

All this takes place inside the Lodge which the Tyler is guarding, in other words, on the higher and invisible planes of the candidate's physical body. Hence the Tyler himself is the convenient room adjoining the Lodge. where the first preparation to the quest takes place.

Thus, once entered on the quest, the candidate, guided by Wisdom as yet unmanifest, but intuitively perceived (W.M.) attuning his Soul (Spiritual Self-Senior Warden) and seeking Light with all the might of his Intellectual Faculty (J.W.), first curbs his emotive life (goes round with the J.D.), then applies himself to discipline his mind (goes round with S.D.), and finally, trampling his physical/emotional/mental lower self underfoot, dies to all things earthly and rises, transmuted, to a higher plane of consciousness "in the centre" between the spiritual and the intellectual, and embracing Wisdom in direct Union.

Wisdom, however, cannot affirm itself. King Solomon (W.M.) could not become active instead of latent without the combination of Spiritual Love (Hiram, King of Tyre - S.W.) and Intellectual Power (Hiram Abiff - J.W.). Hence those three form the Lodge, and "bore sway at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem" (the divine city).

The Lodge thus formed by three can be "held" only by five, as it can operate only in and through the lower strata of the human mind and emotive life. These in turn need the Physical Body and the Brain which controls the body (seven) to manifest, thus making the whole a "perfect" lodge or vehicle for the manifestation of the Most High. As Dante says: -

"The proper operation (working or function) is not in existence for the sake of the being, but the being for the sake of the operation."

(De Monarchia a (3)).

The interdependence of the S.W. (Spiritual Love Light Eyes) and the J.W. (Will - Word - Mouth) is admirably set out by Wordsworth in his "Prelude."

"This Spiritual Love acts not nor can exist Without Imagination, which in truth, Is but another name for absolute power, And keenest insight, amplitude of mind, And Reason in her most exalted mood."

And again:

"Imagination having been our theme, So also has this spiritual love For they are each in each, and cannot stand Dividually. Here must thou be, O man Power to thyself; no helper hast thou here! Here keepest thou in singleness thy state. No other can divide with thee this work. No secondary hand can intervene To fashion this ability: 'tis thine, The prime and vital principle is thine, In the recesses of thy nature, far From any reach of outward fellowship, Else is not thine at all. But joy to him, Oh, joy to him who here has sown, hath laid Here, the foundation of his future years. For all that friendship, all that love can do, All that a darling countenance can look, Or dear voice utter, to complete the man, Perfect him, made imperfect in himself, All shall be his; and he whose soul hath risen Up to the height of feeling intellect, Shall want no humbler tenderness."

In similar vein, Dante, in speaking of Soul and Intellect, follows a like trend of thought, as quoted by C. Williams in "The Figure of Beatrice":

"The two points to which Dante chooses to direct attention are the eyes and the mouth. These the soul mostly adorns; there she bestows most of her subtlety, there she shows herself 'as on a balcony'. From the first balcony, that of the eyes, her passions show goodwill, jealousy, compassion, envy, love and shame. She can, it is true, keep them from showing, but only by the exertion of great power. We may conclude that some part of that 'becoming other' which is a duty for Dante and for all is precisely th e exercise of that power when it is desirable; and this adds another relevance to the sewing up of the eyes of the envious spirits in the Purgatorio; until they can control the appearances in those balconies, the balconies themselves are not to be opened. On the mouth Dante himself had better be quoted. 'The soul demonstrates herself in the mouth, as colour does under glass. And what is laughter but a corruscatioii of that delight of the soul, as a light appearing without according as it exists within). And therefore it becomes a man to let his soul show in a tempered joy, laughing in moderation, and with frank restraint and only with slight movement of the face; so that the lady (soul) who there shows herself should seem modest and not uncontrolled ... O marvellous smile of my lady, of whom I speak, which is only communicated through the eyes.' "

And C. Williams then comments:

"It is a description of that kind of joy which accompanies the intellectual formulation of philosophy: 'dimostrare' - almost 'demonstrates herself' in figures of geometry. This demonstration is the half concealed smile of the divine science, Theology, which like the empyrean holds all peace of knowledge, and only shows herself to us in such satisfying scintillations of mouth and eyes as gleam in the syllogisms of the great Scholastics, or what other method other philosophers use."

The same scheme, again is expressed in a most interesting way in the "Tarot of the Bohemians", subtitled "Absolute Key to the Occult Science," by Papus, in which the 17th Chapter is an extract from the work of F.-Ch. Barlet. The Chapter is entitled: "Le Tarot Initiatique", and in quoting parts thereof, I shall be translating from French.

The chapter starts by comparing the Ancient Positivist Scientists who were also Sages, and whose fundamental aphorism was that nothing was accessible to man beyond the world of phenomena (though they were always tempted to try and cross those limits), with the spiritualists of the present day, who live in a world beyond those limits, but who have no know-how, no guide and no compass to direct their flight.

It then says that the ancient school of Theosophy could guide the latter and deliver the former and bring them both to Truth. Theosophy - or Positive Spiritualism - transmitted by the Cabbalists, the Mystics, the Templars, the Rosecrucians and the Freemasons, often degenerated, yet always tended and preserved by some hidden few in closed sanctuaries.

"The secret of Theosophy lies in a certain practical development of the human faculties so as to extend the limits of certainty (la certitude)."

It thus taught man to train himself in order to work and develop in the regions of extra-sensory perception. This teaching constitutes the Initiation, which consists of two distinct but complementary parts: Theory and Practice.

The Theory man can study, accept or reject, but the Practice will eventually lead him to become an Initiate. (Compare our word "entered apprentice".)

The chapter then proclaims the ultimate formula which positive science gives of the manifest world:


But the combination of those two is extremely fluid, as power draws matter along according to its (power's) own infinite variety of mobility. Power thus draws matter as if by a current from one pole to the other, and matter manifests therein by a return countercurrent, due to its (matter's) own essential inertia.

As an example (still quoting this chapter):

"An atom of phosphorus drawn by the vegetal from mineral phosphates will become the element of a cell of the human brain, but will eventually again disintegrate into the realm of mineral inertia."

But the movement of this fluid or unstable state of equilibrium is not uncoordinated. It forms a series of harmonious links which we call laws and the synthesis of which we formulate as Evolution.

Hence one reaches the conclusion that there is a WILL guiding this evolution. Thus it is the WILL which manifests in the unstable but progressive equilibrium of Power and Matter ....

This, therefore, brings me back to the main theme of this piece of architecture.

The chapter then proceeds to subdivide the Universe, in the following FOUR sub-divisions:

1) The supreme incomprehensible ABSOLUTE (transcendental or divine) 2) The Idea (intelligible or logic) 3) The Will (manifest) 4) The Cosmos

It then divides the first three in opposite poles:

Positive Negative 1) Conscious Unconscious 2) Affirmation Negation 3) Power Matter

Here ends my quotations from the Chapter by Barlet.

I have tried to apply his division and sub-divisions to the Officers in the Lodge, and the rest of this piece of architecture is thus based on my own deductions which flow therefrom:

Positive Negative (RIGHT) (LEFT)

THE ABSOLUTE conscious unconscious W.M. I.P.M.

THE IDEA affirmation negation J.W. S.W.

THE WILL power matter S.D. J.D.

THE COSMOS brain physical body I.G. TYLER

In humbly submitting this arrangement of the Officers, I would state that it would appear to explain quite a lot in the ritual in a most satisfactory way.

If we examine the position of the Officers, we find that those on the right hand side (positive) of the Chart are all at the Right of those officers quoted in the left hand side (negative).

The W.M. at the right of the I.P.M. The J.W. towards the right of the S.W. The I.G. at the right of the Tyler. and the S.D. again at the right of the W.M.

The S.D. at the extreme right side of his pole, acts as the enisowered ambassador in the Manifest of the Logic flowing from the Absolute.

The reverse proves true as well, of course:

The I.P.M. at the left of the W.M. The S.W. towards the left of the J.W. The Tyler at the left of the I.G.

But the J.D. is found at the right of the S.W. whereas we might have expected him at the S.W.'s left hand side. One could conclude therefrom that on balance the odds are loaded in favour of composite man and that, in reality, he has no excuse to let his emotive self run riot to wallow in earthly mud. I confess, however, that in this exposition the position of the J.D. is not yet quite clear to me.

Much else, however, both inside and outside of the Lodge, now stands in a new light, as far as I am concerned.

Eve (Matter) was created from Adam (Power) and this fact illustrates that the story of the Old Testament is a graphic depiction of the involution of Spirit into Matter. The New Testament teaches the way by which the redemption can be achieved, and this evolution (by initiation) is the subject matter of the Freemason's ritual.

Our life on earth is (or should be) in the first place a preparation for initiation, and Lord Baden Powell, in founding the Scout Movement, must have known of this goal. It is highly significant that the Scout greetings are given with the LEFT hand, the hand of Matter. Only when we have achieved a pure heart and an attitude of devotion and service, can we proceed to become an apprentice for initiation, and learn signs with the RIGHT hand.

This thought also throws new light on the one and only sign in Freemasonry which is given with the left hand (in one of the higher degrees).

The oaths in the three degrees are given with the RIGHT hand on the V. of the S.L. (the WAY). But the left hand must first subdue and discipline Matter and Passionate Nature, - then having ascended the winding staircase - offer up this Passionate Nature and all matters earthly, to God, and finally, only after having trampled this lower nature underfoot, can the left hand join the right hand on the Way to Redemption, thus achieving Unity.

But to achieve this it is the RIGHT hand of the Candidate which sets the necessary vibrations in motion, first by the knocks on the door (which he is supposed to give), then by knocking on the right shoulder of the J.W. and S.W. Hence three times three knocks reverberate through the threefold nature of the MAN, and the echo thereof trembles in the great Absolute. Woe to him who, having set off these vibrations, lets them die or tries to use them to wrong purpose!

The first step taken, the candidate is restored to light, in that he now has an inkling of the Path, but Wisdom is still far from his sight and therefore the new initiate is at that stage only meant to see the V. of the S.L. (the Way) and NOT the W.M. (the Fount).

Yet, from that Fount knowledge now flows to the faithful candidate (communicated to him at the left side of the altar and from the Right side of the W.M.) and in the ensuing perambulations the teachings are impressed more forcibly on his mind at the S.W.'s chair, where a longer time is spent in communicating them. Is it not matter that must be overcome?

And it is to the J.D. (his lower passionate self) that the candidate declares himself devoid of any metallic substances, and states that had he still such substances on him (in him) he would give (relinquish) them gladly for the sake of the quest. Thus the J.D. is permitted to make obeisance to the W.M. and Lower Self submits to God.

Thus submitting and purifying himself, the candidate is rewarded by raiment of increasing splendour at the S.W.'s chair, for is it not his earthly vesture that becomes increasingly purer, holier and full of spiritual light?

His advancement to the various places in the Lodge, however, is again conferred to him from the left of the altar and from the right hand of the W.M. as, by performing his allotted task, he opens up new channels for the reception of further teachings, and it is his earthly self that so advances.

Yet, once admitted to full initiation and accepted as a W.M., he obtains his further investitures at the right of the altar and from the Left of the Chair of King Solomon. It is now his spiritual attire that achieves great and yet greater splendour and from colours of blue he is promoted to colours of purple.

Before he gets thus far, however, his advancement in matter is achieved by the correct application of symbols, which his spiritual self discovers at the Right of the Altar: the tools. The Universal symbolism of the tools is thus drawn from the unconscious or unmanifest Absolute.

It is from the J.W.'s chair, the ostensible steward of the Lodge, that flows the affirmation of the Idea stemming from and finding its roots in the Absolute.

The square is indeed the fourth part of a circle, but it is a circle in depth, a spiral, a winding staircase.

Hence, the spiral staircase is a two-way route, for involution of spirit into matter, and for evolution from spiritualised matter towards its Fount.

Thus the candidate finally achieves complete resurrection from the grave of matter, and the raising then naturally takes place by the concerted and completely unified action of the J. and S.W.'s. who by now are in full command of the J. and S. Deacons, who they now replace at the side of the candidate and the latter now reaches the ultimate consummation of being received into the bosom of Wisdom, of the Sophia.


As an added note I would like to disclaim all merit for this paper and for any truth it may have brought to light for our little group (as it certainly did for me). I drew heavily from the Dormer transactions, then from my own studies in Dante, but was actually "led" to the chapter in Papus' book and merely had to put the shine into position in the arch I had been building from material from the quarries. The completed arch provided a sort of illumination in my mind the following night, which was the nigh t after Ascension Day. I submit the paper came into being from the positive current built up by our little group in our earnest groping towards LIGHT.

"THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF A MASON'S WORKING TOOLS" by Bro. B. C. Portsmouth and W. Bro. W. C. Ginbey, Lodge of Research, No. 277, Western Australia.

The thinking man could compare the development and the advancement of a Mason, with its ordered progress, and its opportunities for mental awakening, to the literary progress of the average human in this world of today.

The child of kindergarten age could do nothing with a pile of precious literary volumes . . . except to build a "castle", climb the steps, and sit on the topmost book of the pile.

The beauty and the splendour of the world of ideas contained within those covers, would mean to him absolutely nothing.

The kindergarten child must first learn his letters, by sight and by sound, and after a few months he is taught to begin to combine those familiar symbols into words . . . that is, names for familiar things, and for known actions. Later, these word-combinations are linked with others into "sentences" . . . and the pupil thus becomes able to give individual expression to thoughts and ideas.

He still could not make much sense out of those calf-bound volumes, but he would know it was "reading". Here and there he would be able to pick out familiar symbols and groups of words. . . but most of the "reading" would be little more to him than black lines on a white background, with here and there a familiar outline.

The tiniest child finds familiarity in nothing but a book of pictures ... people, animals, household objects, fruit, etc.

Once the child can read short sentences, you can introduce him to a whole new world of make-believe and fantasy, by giving him a book of fairy-tales. When you find his mind reaching out, as his vocabulary increases, you can change that make-believe world all-most overnight, by giving him an adventure-story, a tale of discovery, of historical or fictional action. That fantasy-world will from henceforth have characters like the story-book heroes, and he will tend to model his own actions on their supposed doings.

While this reaching-out process is developing the boy's vocabulary, his discovery and understanding of words is constantly growing . . . and you are able to explain the simple rules (and later, the more complicated rules) of Grammar ... the SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE. His daily living adds daily to his experience, and the child adds this experience to his literary knowledge, until, eventually, he reaches the parting of the ways.

Either, he will decide that he has read enough, learned enough of this Science of Language ... or, he will continue to study.

If he ceases to study ... that pile of calf-bound books will represent to him, in all probability, "highbrow stuff " . . . pages and pages of literature which he can certainly read, but which leaves him cold because he cannot understand it!

If he continues his studies, his delving into the works and writings of the great men of literature, perchance he may eventually feel within himself, the vital, creative spark which every true artist feels, whatever his medium of expression.

And exactly is it so with a Mason!

The Ritual is the letter, the elementary part of Masonic learning! The Cermony is the word . . . and anyone with a good memory can soon become word-perfect. He can use his Ritual to enable him to play his part in the Ceremony, in any of the Ceremonies contained within the Ritual.

Lectures constitute the Grammar of Masonry, wherein a Mason is taught the meanings of Words, and how Words are used . . . and no Mason can be considered completely educated, whose instruction has not included the Grammar of his Craft.

And there, right there, so very many Masons reach the parting of the ways. They decline to go on to the higher degrees . . . they have no inclination to read Masonic teachings or history . . . the deeper searching into Freemasonry's esoteric significance (which should constitute a Mason's full development), is entirely neglected.

Rudyard Kipling once said:

"To know the ritual is not to know all. It is the inside meaning, not the words, that counts. Learn the words, but get the ritual into your spirit!"

In other words . . . we should become word-perfect in the beautiful, symbolical wording of our Ritual . . . but, we should not stop there! We should seek the inner meanings of those words we learn . . . and, having learned the meanings, we should enshrine them in our innermost beings, not lock them away in a little-used cupboard!

J. Morgan Pryse says that "The craving for knowledge may cause one to lose sight of the fact that Wisdom comes, not from listening to the words of others, but from the gradual unfolding of the inner faculties."

And so, as we consider the Mason's Working Tools I shall endeavour to suggest ideas to you . . . ideas which may help to guide your thinking on these matters ... ideas which may assist you, not to amass knowledge for its own sake, but to begin the process of KNOWING ONESELF!

One of the world's modern thinkers, Gandhi of India, said not long before he died:

"I am striving to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, which is called 'liberation of the soul'. In order to reach this, I need not seek refuge in a cave ... I carry my cave with me."

Every man, as he seeks for Truth ... every Mason, as he seeks the Light ... can retire into that inner fastness, his own "cave", where none other can be. He can, if he wishes, delve beneath the surface, where Truth lies hidden.

Masonic symbols are meant to be pointers in that search for Light and Truth, and the Mason who seeks the meaning behind the symbols, will find revealed a whole new world of understanding.

Let us first discuss the Working Tools of the 1st Degree, and their spiritual aspect.

The E.A. when he is presented with the Working Tools of this Degree, has already been duly initiated, and accepted as a Mason. Before his name was accepted as a Candidate for Initiation, his character was carefully scrutinised . . . and his moral soundness was certified.

So, therefore, he is regarded as rough stone, rough but sound building-material, worthy of being shaped and tooled.

We should all take note of this condition, and apply it personally to our spiritual understanding.

Before any one of us can hope to travel far along the mental path, we must cleanse our minds, and certify ourselves as spiritually sound . . . else will our search for Light be in vain.

The Working Tools of the 1st Degree are essentially Tools of Action!

The 24 in. G ..., the symbol to measure our work in the world, represents the 24 hours of the day, and how they should be spent.

From our own personal experience, we each of us know that Time (represented by these 24 hours of each day) is squandered more wastefully than any other existing commodity!

So many men, in the world of today, are governed by a "clock-in" mechanism ... a bell or a hooter or a siren . . . and when, for any reason these mechanical aids to discipline are withdrawn, the average man, left to his own resources, has no idea how he can spend Time!

The G.A. has assigned hours for labour, and hours for refreshment, beyond the possibility of mistake . . . and this is the ETERNAL RULE . . . that to make progress upon this Road of Earthly Experience, we must fill every hour of every day, with honest physical labour, with honest, genuine thinking, with clean, health-promoting sport or recreation, with well-earned rest, with simple, honest prayer!

The 24 in. G ... is the symbol of a measure, by which to gauge our efforts. We all have, within us, that spiritual measure ... and this outer symbol of Masonry gives us a hint to look inwards for the hidden Plan, and to shape our stone to its specifications.

The stone we are to shape, must be in harmony with the Architect's design ... so we must cultivate precision and accuracy, and measure our work as we proceed.

In the spiritual understanding, the 24 in. G . . . reminds us that we must cultivate a definiteness, in our aims and actions. We must aim to occupy all our time fully and usefully, so that we will derive from it every smallest particle of benefit and happiness.

Next, the C.G.

This is known as the symbol of order. It is said that in the hands of the W.M. in the old days, the Common Gavel was called "Hiram", and (in the words of an old Ritual), "As K.S. controlled the workmen by the assistance of H ... the Builder, so to an E.A. it symbolises obedience." The modern teaching is that the C.G. represents the force of Conscience. Many regard this unseen "Conscience " as a frail plant which might wither and die if neglected ... but it should be regarded rather as a positive, driving Force in life and action, keeping in subjection vain, unbecoming, and evil thoughts.

As the Rough A . . . is cumbersome and unwieldy . . . so is the untried seeker-after-Truth.

The knobs and excrescences of pride, self-esteem, and self-seeking, must be knocked away, before we can even begin to find the real material within. We are taught that "A blunt heavy tool is used for crude and unshapely stone, as a firm, strong hand removes the roughness of the exterior."

In the spiritual understanding, we can be quite ruthless with our crudities and imperfections, and firmly refuse to allow them any further place in our lives. As a determined and oft-repeated effort removes the outer crust of selfishness, we are able gradually to transmute our feelings and actions, until they become pure and unpolluted. The outer forms and habits once had their use, as a protection for the growing shape within . . . but when that inner structure becomes strong enough, the temporary scaffolding must be removed.

One Masonic writer says that "the C.G. is an important implement of labour, and highly esteemed as an instrument of art. Though known to workmen under different appellations, it is recognised by all that no work of manual skill can be completed without it!"

In spiritual understanding, this simply means that skill without exertion is of little avail. "Knowing what to do, and how to do it" is not sufficient! The Mason must be positive!

He must use his abilities and his knowledge in a practical way! No man can think for another! No man can act for another!

And the Path to the East is a road which every man must travel alone! Life itself is to each man a solo . . . for no matter how many share the outer seeming, each man is ALONE in his own mind!

When we begin to find the stones of our Selves taking some definite shape, we are able to work more carefully, and the Ch. . . . comes into use to chip off what remains of the old habits and customs.

The modern teaching is that the Ch ... is the symbol of Education, "by which means we are rendered fit members of regularly organised Society". One writer points out that as Education is a continuing process, entailing application and perseverance for good results ... so must the rude material receive its fine polish but from repeated efforts alone.

In the spiritual understanding, we realise that this character-improvement must also be a continuing process . . . bad habits cannot be discarded and forgotten once and for all! Rather does it need constant, unflagging effort, and unabated enthusiasm for the task ahead.

Summing up the lessons to be learned by understanding the symbolism of the 1st Degree Working Tools . . . we can say that Knowledge, to be effective in aiding our progress towards the Light, must grounded on accuracy. aided by labour & supplemented by perseverance.

These requirements are spiritual, as well as material ... for while accuracy, diligence, and perseverance are certainly required in the erection of a building, such virtues are doubly necessary if a Mason is seeking the deeper Truth of his Craft ... and even though by accuracy and diligence, he has qualified himself to be raised to the 2nd Degree ... still is perseverance a vital necessity, for he is only at the beginning of learning!

The Working Tools of the 2nd Degree have a different theme to those of the 1st Degree. The latter, the Tools of Action, are now to be replaced by the Tools of Testing and Proving! First, the Sq . . . .

More, I think, than any other of the Mason's Working Tools, is this one essentially a true symbol.

Just as a building must have true corners, strong and tested, if it is to endure . . . even so must the spiritual structure a Mason builds be tried and tested, and stand the test of strain.

Long centuies ago the Sq . . . was adopted as a symbol of Truth and right-dealing ... so many centuries ago that those seeking to delve into Masonry's historical beginnings will always have to include the Sq . . . as a "sign". Always has the Sq . . . been a sign of justice and morality . . . of a member's own individuality balanced with that of fellow-members . . . cogs, yon could say, in the social wheel, for the common good.

The Ritual bids the F.C. to strive to "regulate his actions according to Masonic line and rule" . . . and every F.C. should realise that this injunction is one of the most important ever given him . . . for by his actions, will other men judge him (and, oft-times, will, by his actions, judge Masonry!)

A Man, or a Mason, who thinks squarely, can do no mean action!

It is well known that, in Ancient Egypt, amulets were placed with the body of the deceased person, as protection on the journey into the unknown, and as proof of the fact that he or she had been possessed of virtues in life.

Of these, the most often used, was an amulet in the form of a square (as symbol of piety and moral virtue), and a plummet (to secure justice and moderation for the soul of the deceased, in his coming trials of the After life.)

Building Tool our Sq . . . may be . . . but in its spiritual significance, its value is untold . . . and the need for its use ever-present, in whatever walk of life a Mason may be. Judge of the High Court ... Surgical Specialist... Doctor of Divinity or "doctor" of motorcars . . . Traffic-policeman or salesman in a shop . . . each and every one needs the Sq . . . to regulate his thinking, and his action.

The second of the 2nd Degree Tools is the L ..., used, the builders say, to lay levels and to prove horizontals.

Symbolically, the L . . . is used to remind us that although in the outer world riches and rank are counted as desirable, in the Lodge we all are Brethren, and equal in the sight of our Master.

Spiritually, of course, the meaning goes deeper . . . for every human being is a child of the G.G., irrespective of colour, creed, or rank . . . and we all are equal. We shall realise that fact as we face Death, even if we do not allow ourselves to face it before.

We brought nothing into the world, and we shall find that we can take nothing out, except the vibrational record of our earthly doings. Men call this record "Memory" . . . we weave it as we go along . . . and every single man and woman, equal children of the G.G., takes with them this single possession, when Death, the "Great Leveller", claims his own!

The 3rd Working Tool of the 2nd Degree is the P ... R . . . . used, the builders say, to try and adjust all uprights, while fixing them on their proper bases.

The symbolic meaning of this Tool is not far to seek . . . the Ritual likens it to "Jacob's Ladder", which forms a line of union between Heaven and Earth, and hence calls it "the criterion of moral rectitude and truth."

The mind of Man, in all truth, should be able to ascend that symbolic ladder, to the spiritual heights . . . for all men are born equal sons of the G.G., but there are so many things which prove hindrances (revenge, avarice, malice) ... (the sins of passion and persecution, the sins of omission as well as the sins of commission). The "line of union" which each man should be able to find with his Maker, becomes, in most of us, sadly fogged and clouded.

Every F.C. should be taught to realise that this "line of union", to which our Ritual Book so specifically refers, does indeed exist . . . and only by the use of the P . . . R . . . can he keep that "line" open . . . only by ruthlessly clearing away from his life the "doubtful" thoughts and actions, can he enable his mind to become a clear channel to the Great Planner.

Summing up the lessons to be learned by understanding the symbolism of the 2nd Degree Working Tools, we can say that in attempting to construct our Spiritual Temple, we strive for

1 ... individual integrity, as we square our personal conduct. 2 ... humility, as we realise that we all stand level, in the sight of the G.G., and 3 ... uprightness, and knowledge of that wondrous birthright, the Ritual's "line of union".

The Working Tools of the 3rd Degree give rise to a new idea, the keynote of which is PLAN.

For any building, large or small, to be a success, there must originally have been a Plan.

These Working Tools, officially the tools of a builder, are the S ... t the P . . ., and the C ....

The first of these, the S . . . t, is described as an instrument which acts on a centre-pin, whence a line is drawn to mark out the ground plan of the intended structure.

As speculative Masons, we understand that our conduct should conform to a straight and undeviating line of righteousness . . . but in the deeper, spiritual understanding, this Tool means even more.

Every human being is a son of the M... H.... and every human being has a mind! Thus, your mind is one of millions, and at the same time an infinitesimal part of the Great Mind, whom, in this Degree, we know as the M . . . H . . .

That "Jacob's Ladder", which the Ritual Book calls the "line of union between Earth and Heaven", is, in reality, the mind-link between you and the Great Mind. So, when we are told that the S . . . t represents a straight and undeviating line of righteousness, that simply means that our "mind-line" to the M ... H ... must be kept clean and clear, unaffected by the movement of the many forces that would pull many ways. Actually, the symbol implies "restraint", not the destruction of the forces that impinge, but the using of them, to further our own aims.

The 2nd Working Tool, the P . . allows the Architect's Plan to become visible to the builder. Before, the edifice has been merely a vision in the mind of the planner. Now ... the architect's vision can be shared by others.

The Speculative Mason is taught that the P . . . is, in fact a symbol of Past, Present and Future . . . for in due time there will be a detailed check on all our doings, for, and against, the Plan.

So the P . . . reminds us to be true, in the light of our understanding. Spiritually, the P . . . teaches us to form in advance, clear plans of what we intend to do, so that our spiritual seeking may be intelligent and well-proportioned, in whatsoever branch of learning we aim to excel.

Finally, the last of the Working Tools, we have the C ... The builders say the tool is intended to determine. With accuracy and precision, the building's several parts.

The Speculative Mason learns that the C . . . remind us of the limits of good and evil, "which we must studiously discover, and heedfully observe".

The spiritual meaning of this Tool is that the C . . . keep us within bounds. Thomas a Kempis once said, " He who has not been tested, knows nothing," . . . and until a man, a Mason in particular, comes up against those unknown forces, in his quest for mind-mightiness, he does not know for certain what his reactions will be.

If this "line of union" is clean and clear (the S ... t that teaches restraint) . . . and if his plan of action is sure and determined on the path of right (the P . . . which delineates that Plan), then will the C ... act truly, and our actions will be those of a good Mason, however sorely we nmy be tried.

The still, small voice of Conscience is with us all the time, and it is not only when we are finally, summoned "from this sublunary abode" that we feel the need of assessing our character-status!

A famous Sculptor was oncc asked how he carved rough masses of stone into lovely statues. His reply was . . . " I merely knock away with gavel and chisel the stone I do not need . . . and the statue is there . . . it was there all the time, I only FOUND it!"

This idea may help us to understand that old teaching that "The Kingdom of Heaven is within You."

Just as the perfect Ashlar is within the Rough Ashlar, so is Virtue and Perfection within Man, if he but strives to find it!

These implements and Tools which are assigned to the Mason as he progresses, are given to him that he may judge himself, fearlessly, honestly and truthfully.

And the more we listen to that "still small voice," the clearer will become that "line of union" spoken of in our Ritual Book.

Every Force, every Emotion, every Power, can be used for good or for evil. Electricity, as everyone knows, is a good servant but a bad Master. If you think about the matter, you will soon realise that the power of Electricity is entirely neutral, and entirely unconscious . . . so therefore, it is Man, the conscious being, who must learn to use that unconscious power!

The power of the Universe is likewise entirely neutral, and entirely unconscious.

A man can think malicious, envious, murderous thoughts . . . and from out of the immense mind-field of the M.H., power will aid the man's evil-planning, for his "line of union" will be with minds like his own! A man can think with truth and faithfulness, and can place the ideal of duty and honour in the forefront of his mind . . . and from out of the immense mind-field of the M.H., power will aid his good designs!

Freemasonry represents, in itself, a wondrous journey of exploration. When we become Masons, we become, in effect, spiritual explorers!

Before our minds can be made fit to engage in this exploration, we must submit to certain tests and trials.

If our minds are shallow, and filled with worldly things . . . the Working Tools with which the Mason is progressively presented, are to us little more than building-tools! . . . Sq . . .'s and L . . .'s and C . . .'s. If our minds are seeking Aids to Living, under the guise of Tools, then the Ritual shows us these meanings, pointers on the Mason's Roadway of Living!

But if our minds have already realised that each man, with his own individual mind, is an integral part of the Great Mind, then, in modern spiritual understanding, our Working Tools can in truth guide our deeper discernment.

The poet who wrote these words must have known of these things when he said:

So shalt thou conquer Space and lastly climb The walls of Time, And by the golden Path the great have trod Reach up to God!"

He was not speaking of the clever politician, the financial wizard, the great in rank or riches ... he meant the mind-great sons of God . . . those who rose above the sordid and ordinary, by knowing themselves.

The path of the Mason is full of symbols . . . signs, tokens, words, gestures, knocks, tools, the furniture and accoutrements of a Lodge, the clothing and adomments of a Mason . . . and every symbol has a meaning!

As with the things of Matter, so with the things of Mind, and so also with the things of our beloved Craft . . . most things have a deeper, spiritual meaning but unless you search for it, you will never find it.

May I leave with you this thought . . . DO NOT BE CONTENT WITH LIFE'S SYMBOLS! Strive to get behind the allegory and the parable and the emblem . . . delve into the deeper meanings . . . for he who is content to take things at their face-value, he who is content with the symbol, can never rise above it, and misses all the real Beauty and Glory of Life.

"We learn of Path we seek to tread, Of Compass point, and Plumb and Line. With halting steps, and blind, we're lead ... To Thee, oh Architect Divine."

This file courtesy of:

George Helmer Norwood #90 Grand Lodge of Alberta SYSOP - Magna Borealis Lux (403) 475-6061