The Masonic Initiation
W. L. Wilmshurst
INTRODUCTION - Masonry and Religion
CHAPTER I - From Darkness to Light
CHAPTER II - Light on the Way
CHAPTER III - Fullness of Light
CHAPTER IV - The Past and Future of The Masonic Order
LIGHT ON THE WAY
"They went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and out of the middle into the third." 1 Kings vi,
"Does the road wind up-hill all the way?" Yes, to the very end.
"Will the day's journey take the whole long day?" From morn to night, my friend!
"But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin?
May not the darkness hide it from my face?" You cannot miss that Inn.
In the previous paper we have spoken of the transition from darkness to light made by those who seek to effect the
reconstitution of their natural being and to develop it, by the science and methods of Initiation, to a higher and
It has been made clear that that transition must necessarily be gradual, and that, though ceremonially dramatized in
three Degrees which can be taken in successive months, to realise the implications of those Degrees in actual
life-experience may be a life-time's work; perhaps more than a life-time's. The Apprentice who has entered himself
to the business of rebuilding his own soul has much to learn and to do before he becomes even a competent Craftsman
in it ; the Craftsman, in turn, has much to do and far to journey before he can hope for complete Mastership. The
work of self-transmutation a strenuous one, not suddenly or hurriedly to be performed, and one needing hours of
refreshment and passivity as well as hours of active labour, to each of which he will find himself duly summoned at
the proper time. There is much to be learned in regard to the secrets of his own nature and the principles of
intellectual science, which only gradually, and as the result of patience and experience, can become revealed to his
view. There is a superstructure to be raised, perfect in all its parts; a work involving much more than is at first
supposed. There are tests and ordeals of a searching character to be undergone on the way.
A measure of Light, a first glimpse of the distant Promised Land, may come to the eager sight of the properly
prepared candidate from the first moment of his entrance upon the work, but he must not suppose that he has yet
fully captured it and made it permanently his own. It is something, however, to have felt that a veil has been
suddenly withdrawn from his previously darkened sight and that he has become able to distinguish between his former
benightedness and the goal lying before him.
We will entitle this present section, therefore, "Light on the Way," and make it treat of a variety of matters
calling for the aspirant's attention as he pursues the way that intervenes between his first glimpse of the Light
and its ultimate realisation ; and in a subsequent section we shall speak of Light in its fulness of attainment. We
will supplement our previous explanation of Masonic doctrine by dealing with further symbols and passages in the
rituals, with which every Mason is familiar formally and by the outward ear, but the significance of which too often
passes unexplained and unobserved.
The expositions in this Section are offered not only for the private reflection of members of the Craft, but with the
suggestion that they may serve as material for collective meditation by Brethren in open Lodge or at Lodges of
Instruction. For those upon the path to real Initiation, meditation is essential. For meditation opens a window in
the mind through which Light streams into the understanding from the higher, spiritual principle in ourselves; which
window is symbolised by the dormer-window in the emblematic Temple of Solomon, through which came light to those
ascending the stairway that wound inwardly to the middle chamber leading to the central sanctuary where alone Light
in its fulness was to be found. (In Monastic Orders the equivalent of a dormer-window is the tonsure or shaven top
of the priest’s head, through which Light from above may be thought of as descending into the mind.)
The practice of meditation, moreover, whether personal or collective, conduces to that quietness and control of the
normally restless, wandering mind which are indispensable for the apprehension of deep Truth. Ancient Lodges, we are
told, were wont to meet on the highest hills and in the lowest valleys; and in an old Instruction-lecture it is
explained that those expressions are meant to be figurative and relate less to actual places than to the spiritual
and mental condition of those assembled. To meet in the valley, implied being in a state of sheltered passiveness
and tranquillity, when the minds of the Brethren surrendered themselves to quiet collective thought on the subject
of their work; and thus, being "led beside still waters," they became, like the limpid unruffled surface of a lake,
a clear undistorting mirror for the reflection and apprehension of such rays of light and truth as might reach them
from above. To meet on the high hills, on the other hand, implied the more active work of the Lodge and the
performance of it upon the super-physical planes — the "hills" of the spirit; for the real work of Initiation is
only there accomplished, and is no longer a ceremonial formality.
There are times for work and times for repose in the Craftsman's task — times of labour and refreshment — and to
perform that task efficiently both must be utilised. Modern Lodges, in the general imperfect conception of Masonry,
follow merely the rush and hustle methods of the outside world, which, of course, inside the Lodge have no place and
ought no longer to be emulated. They are busy enough on the active side, but they provide no opportunity for
cultivating the equally necessary passive aspect of the work. It would be found eminently advantageous, therefore,
if Lodges which desire to realise true Masonry adopted the practice of collectively contemplating points of
symbolism and teaching ; devoting certain meetings to this special purpose, and then, without more discussion than
is necessary and helpful, quietly and earnestly concentrating attention upon the significance of some symbol or
point of doctrine brought before them.
For those seriously engaged in the ascent of the winding staircase, the following expositions may perhaps serve as
helpful rays of light from the dormer-window. They are necessarily brief and merely elementary introductions to
phases of the science which, as the aspirant proceeds, he will find inexhaustible and claiming not cursory notice
but his constant deep attention. May they, however, be as a lamp to his feet and a light upon the spiral path to his
own middle chamber and help to guide him to that final central sanctuary where the Light itself shines in fulness
and waits to be found.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF YOURSELF
It has already been shown that the structure and appointments of the Lodge are symbolic; that the Lodge is a
representation both of the Universe and of man himself as a Microcosm or the Universe in miniature ; that it is an
image of his own complex constitution, his heavens and his earth (his spirituality and materiality) and all that
By contemplating that image, therefore, the Mason learns to visualise himself; he is given a first lesson in that
self-knowledge in the full attainment of which is promised the understanding of all things, "Know thyself," we have
said, was written over the portals of the ancient temples of Initiation, self-knowledge being the aim of their
intention and the goal of their purpose. Masonry perpetuates this maxim by recommending self-knowledge as "the most
interesting of all human studies." It is the tersest, wisest of instructions, yet little heeded nowadays, and it is
incapable of fulfilment unless undertaken in accordance with the ancient science and with a concentration of one's
whole energies upon the task.
It involves the deepest introspection into oneself and perfect discrimination between what is real and permanent, and
what is unreal and evanescent in ourselves. As aspirants to the Mysteries could not learn the secrets of the Temple
without entering it, learning its lessons, undergoing its disciplines, and receiving its graduated initiations, so
no one can attain self-knowledge save by entering into himself, distinguishing the false from the true, the unreal
from the real, the base metal from the fine gold, sublimating the former into the latter, and ignoring what is
negligible or superfluous. The very word Initiation primarily derives from the Latin in ire, to go within; and
thence, after learning the lessons of self-analysis, to make a new beginning (initium) by reconstructing one's
knowledge of life and manner of living. The 43rd Psalm restates the same instruction: Introibo ad altare Dei,
"I will go in to the divine altar." Similarly, the Masonic Initiation contemplates a going within oneself, until one
reaches the altar or centre, the Divine Principle or ultimate hidden basis of our being.
To know the anatomy and physiology of the mortal body is not self-knowledge. The physical fabric of man is a
perishing self, mere dust and shadow, projected from vitalising forces within it, and without permanence or
To understand the nature and mechanism of the mind, emotions and desires, is useful and necessary, but is not
self-knowledge, for they, too, are transient and, therefore, unreal aspects of the deeper real self.
The personality we present to the world is not our real self. It is but a mask, a distorting veil, behind which the
true self abides hiddenly and often unknown to our unreal surface self, unless and until it be brought forward into
consciousness, displacing and overriding the notions and tendencies of the natural, but benighted, superficial self.
Until then its "light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not." To bring it forward out of its
veils of darkness, to "comprehend" and establish it permanently in our awareness is, and has ever been, the purpose
of all Initiation. But this cannot be achieved until the outer bodily and mental vestures have been purified and a
voluntary dying or effacement of everything in us alien to, or conflicting with, the real self has been suffered;
all which is implied by the teaching of our three Degrees respectively.
True self-knowledge is unobstructed conscious union of the human spirit with God and the realisation of their
identity. In that identic union the unreal, superficial selves have become obliterated, The sense of personality is
lost, merged in the Impersonal and Universal. The little Ego is assumed into the great All and knows as It knows.
Man realises his own inherent ultimate Divinity, and thenceforth lives and acts no longer as a separate individual,
with an independent will, but in integration with the Divine Life and Will, whose instrument he becomes, whose
purposes he thenceforth serves. This is "the great day of atonement," when the limited personal consciousness
becomes identified or made at one with one's own divine, omniscient, vital and immortal Principle, which each must
realise as the high priest of his personal temple and after many washings and purifyings against the contrary
tendencies of his former unregenerate nature. This was the secret supreme attainment hinted at in the cryptic maxim
'Know thyself!" Each of us may judge for himself whether he has yet reached it.
To find our own Centre, our real self, involves, therefore, a turning inwards of our previously externalised
faculties of sense and thought, and an introspective penetration of the outlying circumferential elements of our
nature until the "centre" is found. This task is figured by our ceremonial perambulations and by the path of the
winding staircase leading from the ante-rooms and forecourts of our nature to the Centre, up which the aspirant must
ascend, asking, seeking, knocking, all the way ; being subjected from time to time to tests of his progress and
receiving, without scruple or diffidence, such wages of good fortune or adversity as unseen Providences may know to
be his due.
The inmost sanctuary he will find closely guarded. Nothing unclean can enter or approach that holy place. Hence in
the biblical description of the symbolic Temple one finds that, in the forecourt, stood the great laver of water for
the cleansing of pollutions, and the altar of fire for the sacrificial burning up of one's impurities. The sword of
the I.G, directed to those unqualified to enter the Lodge, is the Masonic way of inculcating that peril exists to
those who are not properly prepared to approach the Centre or who would rush in where angels fear to tread ; it
corresponds with the sword of the Cherubim in Genesis, which turned every way to keep the way to the Tree of Life
from the approaches of the unfit.
Mental as well as physical purity is indispensable to real but is far more difficult of the two to acquire. Modern
psychology discloses not only how fractional a part of our entire mentality functions above the threshold of our
normal awareness, but also what knots and twists, what mental lumber, what latent horrors and accumulations of inner
foulness, lie stored in the sub-consciousness of even those living ordinarily clean lives. They are the deposits of
the mind's past activities; forgotten often by the conscious mind itself, yet automatically registered upon our
impalpable mind-stuff by the recording pencil (mentioned among the Third Degree working-tools) which at every moment
of our lives posts up entries of our thoughts, words, and actions. For at the centre of ourselves is the all
observant Eye; so that we ourselves our own Judgment Book, wherein each of us unwittingly inscribes his own history
and formulates his own destiny, and its pages we have each to read ourselves.
With these mental deposits and consolidations those skilled in Initiation science are well familiar. The modern
psychologist calls them "complexes." In the old treatises on the subject they are termed foul ethers, congelations
of impure mental matter. They are the "base metals" of Masonry. Each of us has been an artificer of those metals and
worked them into all manners of grotesque in his mental nature, and hence the conferment upon the candidate, at a
certain stage, of a name attributed to the first of such artificers and signifying him to be still incompletely
purged of worldly possessions of this kind. These "base metals" require to be discharged from the system by a long
process of corrective purifying thought and aspiration and to be transmuted into gold, or pure mind-stuff, before
real Initiation is possible. No inward fog must intervene between the outer and innermost organs of consciousness
when the time comes for these to be unified. The Light of Truth cannot penetrate a mind crammed with pernicious
thought and with opinions to which it clings tenaciously. It must empty itself of all pre-acquired knowledge and
prejudices, and then rise on the wings of its own genius into the realm of independent thought and there learn Truth
at first hand by directly beholding it.
The incident of attaining Light and self-knowledge is dramatically emphasised in Masonic ceremonial. It is
represented by that important moment in the ritual of the Third Degree when darkness suddenly gives way to
bewildering light, in which light the candidate gazes back for the first time upon the remains of his own past and
beholds the emblems of his own mortality. [It is again portrayed, with much more elaborate detail, in the climax of
the Royal Arch Degree ceremony, as I have described in my previous volume.] He has now (at least in ceremony)
surmounted the great transitional crisis involved in becoming raised from a natural to a higher order of humanity.
He perceives his temporal organism to have been the "tomb of transformation, in which the great change has been
wrought. He has risen from that tomb, and for him the old grave of the natural body has lost its sting, and that
spiritual unconsciousness, which is termed "death, has been swallowed up in the victory won at last by his higher
eternal principle over his lower temporal one. The mystical sprig of acacia has bloomed at the head of his grave, by
the efforescence of the Vital and Immortal Principle in his purified mind and neural system.
Thus is portrayed for us, in Masonic ceremony, the moment of attainment of knowledge of one's true self. The
incident, let it be emphasised, does not involve the physical death of the body and its faculties, for to "the
companions of his former toils" the purified mind will thereafter be reunited. But thenceforth they will be his
docile, plastic, obedient servants, and no longer his master. He will continue to live in the world for the
remainder of his appointed span, no longer for his own sake, but for the uplifting and advancement of his fellowmen
to his own high degree. His expansion of consciousness and wisdom will become part of his equipment for practical
work in the world. His own spiritual evolution is complete, so far as the educative experience of this world can
take it; he lives now to help on that of humanity.
A great and good Brother, reviewing his long connection with Masonic sanctuaries more than a century ago, wrote thus
about Initiation [Louis Claude de Saint Martin; Theosophic Correspondence, with Baron Kirchberger ; a work of great
value and disclosing the nature of Masonic work in French Lodges prior to the Revolution of 1789.]:—"The only
initiation which I preach and seek with all the ardour of my soul is that by which we may enter into the heart of
God and make God's heart enter into us, there to form an indissoluble marriage which will make us the friend,
brother and spouse of our Divine Redeemer." This attainment is the self-knowledge pointed to by the Craft teaching,
and to which that teaching seeks to guide the reflections of every Mason. Initiation has no other end than this—
conscious union between the individual soul and the Universal Divine Spirit.
This union is symbolised by the familiar conjunction of the square and the compasses. The square is the emblem of the
soul; the compasses of the Spirit which indwells in that soul. At first the Mason sees the points of the compasses
concealed behind the square, and, as he progresses, their points emerge from that concealment until both become
superimposed upon the square. Thus is indicated the progressive subordination of the soul and the corresponding
coming forward of the ultimate Spirit into personal consciousness, so that the Mason can "work with both those
points," thus becoming an efficient builder in the spirit and rendering the circle of his own being complete by
attaining conscious alliance with his ultimate and only true self.
Centrally, in the ceiling of each Lodge, is exhibited this striking symbol. It is the emblem of the Divine Presence
in the Lodge; it is also the emblem of that Presence at the spiritual centre of the individual Mason. Its
correspondence in the Christian Church is the perpetual light burning before the high altar.
In the First and Second Craft Degrees the symbol is visible in the heavens of Lodge. In the Third Degree it has
become invisible, but its presence is still manifested, being reflected in the small light in the East which, in
correspondence with the Divine Presence is – as every Mason knows – inextinguishable even in one's darkest moments.
In the Royal Arch Degree, it again becomes visible, but in another form and in another position—on the floor of the
Temple and at its centre, and in the form of a cubical altar, a white stone, bearing the Sacred Name. In the course
of the Degrees, therefore, it has come down from heaven to earth; Spirit has descended to the plane of purified
Matter; the Divine and the human have been brought together and made one. God has become Man; Man has been unified
with God and has found the Divine Name written upon the altar of his own heart.
In the significance of this symbol and its transpositions during the four Degrees may, therefore, be discerned the
whole purpose and end of Initiation — the union of the personal soul with its Divine Principle. Masonry has no other
objective than this; all other matters of interest connected with it are but details subsidiary to this supreme
When the Lodge is opened, the mind and heart of every Brother composing it should be deemed as also being opened to
the "G" and all that it implies, to the intent that those implications may eventually become realised facts of
experience. When the Lodge is closed, the memory of the "G" symbol and its implications should be the chief one to
be retained and pondered over in the repository of the heart.
Further, great significance lies in the centrality of the "G." The Lodge is grouped around it, not assembled
immediately below it. It is as though this Blazing Star or Glory in the centre burned with too fierce a light for
anything less pure and bright than itself to withstand the descent of its direct rays; and, accordingly, the floor
of the Lodge is left open and unoccupied; and only at its extremities do the assembled Brethren sit, removed from
its direct rays. Directly beneath it lies the chequer-work floor; the symbol of the manifested creation, where the
one White Light from above becomes differentiated into perpetual duality and opposites of light and darkness, good
and evil, positive and negative, male and female, as evidenced by the black and white squares, yet the whole held
together in a unity as is denoted by the symbolic skirt-work around the same.
The "G" therefore denotes the Universal Spirit of God, permeating and unifying all things. It is a substitute for the
Hebrew letter Yod, the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and out of which all the other letters of that alphabet
are constructed in correspondence with the truth that all created things are modifications of the one primal Spirit.
In the Instruction-lecture of a Degree outside our present constitutions, the "G" is explained as having a
three-fold reference; (1) the Glory of God, or glory in the centre; (2) Grandeur, or the greatness of perfection to
which man may become raised by initiation into union with God at his centre; (3) Gom-El, a Hebrew word of
praise for the Divine power and goodness in designing that perfection and that union between the Creator and the
creature, There is also a Hebrew tradition that Gom-El was the word uttered by Adam on first beholding the
beauty of Eve and perceiving the ultimate destiny of humanity.
The "G" had its equivalent in the Egyptian Mysteries in the solar symbol of Ra, the spiritual Sun. In the great
temple of the Greek Mysteries at Delphi, where the Eleusinian initiations took place for seventeen centuries, it was
represented by the fifth letters of the Greek alphabet, the E (or Eta); five being a numerical symbol of man in the
Pythagorean system, as evidenced by his five senses, the five-fold extension of his hands and feet, and in
accordance with considerations of a more abstruse nature. Hence the five-pointed star (or pentagram) is also a
symbol of man and expresses a variety of truths concerning him. In the rituals in the Book of the Dead the candidate
is described as a "keeper of five"; Operative fellow-craft Masons worked in batches of five, and a Speculative
fellow-craft Lodge to-day consists of five brethren ; all these allusions having a deeper significance than can be
explained here, but bearing upon the present state of human evolutional development.
Plutarch records that the "E" was regarded as a symbol of the greatest importance and instructiveness and was
exhibited in three forms (corresponding with our three Degrees), first in wood, afterwards in bronze, and finally in
gold. The progression signified a corresponding advance of the candidate's moral and spiritual nature under the
discipline of Initiation. He is likened at first to soft perishable wood; hardening into the durability of bronze;
which impure, alloyed metal finally becomes sublimated into gold — the symbol of the attainment of purity, wisdom
and perfection to which Initiation leads.
Beyond this, however, the central symbol has another deep meaning. The great Initiation-temple of antiquity, as also
certain Christian Churches of historic interest (such as those of Iona and Glastonbury, from which Britain became
Christianised), were erected at certain focal points of the earth's surface known to the Initiates of the time as
being magnetic centres or nodal points of spiritual force peculiarly favourable for the influx into this world of
currents of Divine Power and for their irradiation thence to surrounding regions. Each such place was called an
Omphalos, a navel, or mystical centre; and the Temple at Delphi is related to have been built where it was under
divine guidance and for that purpose; and we know that it became the centre of light and religion to the then
civilised Western world for seventeen centuries.
This historical fact and this occult principle are now reproduced in Masonry. Every Lodge, every place of Initiation,
is in theory—though not nowadays in practice—held at a centre or physical focus point selected as being favourable
both to the initiation of those who enter it and to the spiritual advancement of the uninitiated popular world
resident in its vicinity. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid." A Temple or Lodge of Brethren intelligently
performing its work is not only engaged in a work of spiritual building as regards its own members; it is, though
perhaps unconsciously, at the same time generating and throwing off vibrations of spiritual energy to all around it;
its occult influence extends, and its radiations are of efficacy, to a greater range than one dreams of.
If, then, the Lodge be a spiritual focus-point, the centre of the Lodge, where the "G" is exhibited, is its most
vital and sacred point; the point at which Divine Energy may be thought of as concentrated and especially powerful.
And the reason will become clear for placing the candidate at that point at a certain moment in the Ceremony.
Why is he then placed in the centre? Previously he has been placed, not there, but in certain more removed places in
the Lodge; in the N.E. or the S.E. corners where the intensity of the central Light is theoretically less powerful,
where it is tempered and adjusted to his as yet unperfected organism, and where charges and instruction appropriate
to his then state of advancement are imparted to him. But when directed to be placed in the Lodge-centre, he is
called upon to stand, as it were, in direct alignment with the descending ray of the Supernal Light and to bear the
stress of its full current. The intensity of that current can only be borne and withstood by one who is perfect in
all his parts and in whom the sensual, emotional, and mental natures have been purified, rectified and brought into
harmony and to an alignment corresponding with the physical and moral erectness of a just and upright man; an
un-purified man would run the peril of having his organism injured or shattered by a current of that fiery Power, by
which every soul must sooner or later be tested, but which consumes everything not assimilable with itself. The
three Hebrew "children" (i.e., initiates) who withstood unscathed the fiery furnace into which they were plunged,
typify the truth here testified to.
When, therefore, a candidate is placed in the centre of the Lodge, beneath the "G" symbol, let those assembled around
him try to realise the intention of what is thereby implied. Let them reflect that at that important moment, more
perhaps than at any other in the ceremonies, it is possible for the celestial Light to descend upon the duly
prepared candidate, to flood his heart and expand his mind, and so to open his understanding to the instruction then
communicated to him that he may realise the spirit as well as hear the letter of it, whilst standing in that sacred
position. And let them at that moment silently and earnestly invoke the Light of the centre, that it may then
consciously arise in both him and them, so that what is done ceremonially may become for them both, a great fact of
The point is emphasised here with earnestness, because the Masonic procedure of placing the candidate in the centre
of the Lodge at an important stage of his progress not only perpetuates a traditional and purposeful ancient
practice, but also accords with what occurs in Initiations of a much more advanced and real character than it is
possible to speak of here, as those who become duly qualified will one day come to find. By understanding and being
faithful in the small things of even an elementary and ceremonial system, one becomes educated for and prepared to
be entrusted with greater ones when the time for acquiring them arrives.
3. -The Ladder
A most important part of the curriculum of the Ancient Mysteries was instruction in Cosmology, the science of the
Universe. The intention of that instruction was to disclose to candidates the physical and meta-physical
constitution of the world and the place and destiny of man in it. They were shown how the complex human organism
reproduces the great World and summarises it in small, so that man may see himself to be a microcosm or miniature
copy of it. They were enlightened not only upon the external visible aspect, but also upon the physically unseen and
impalpable aspect, both of the Universe and themselves. They learned truths concerning the material and the
ultramaterial sides of the world and were taught that corresponding features were present in themselves. They
learned of the continual flux of matter, of the transiency of bodily forms, and of the abiding permanence of the one
Life or Spirit which has descended and embodied itself in matter, and has there distributed and clothed itself in an
endless but progressive variety of forms from the mineral up to the human, with the purpose of generating eventually
a finished perfected product as the result of the mighty process. There was demonstrated to them the dual cosmic
method of Involution and Evolution, by which the universally diffused Life-force involves and circumscribes itself
within material limitations and physical conditions, and thence evolves and arises out of them, enriched by the
experience. They were taught of the different levels and graduations of the Universe — some of them material and
some ethereal, — the planes and sub-planes of it, upon which the great scheme is being carried out; which levels and
planes, all progressively linked together, constitute as it were one vast ladder of many rounds, staves, or rungs; a
ladder which Tennyson once well described as
The world's great altar-stairs
Which slope through darkness up to God.
Candidates in the old systems were instructed in these matters before being admitted to Initiation. The knowledge
served to explain to them their own nature and constitution and their place in the World system. It demonstrated to
them their own evolutionary possibilities and made clear to them why Initiation-science had been instituted, and how
Initiation itself was an intensive means of accelerating the spiritual evolution of individuals who were ripe for
it, and capable of intelligently co-operating with and expediting the cosmic process. With this knowledge they were
then free either to proceed to actual initiation and undertake its obligations, sacrifices and discipline, or to
stand down and go no farther if they found themselves unwilling, or without the courage, to undertake the arduous
task involved. Freedom of the personal will in this momentous choice was always essential to admission to
Initiation, and the same absence of constraint still attaches to admission to modern Masonry.
The modern Mason, however, is left entirely without any cosmologic instruction and to such hazy notions on the
subject as he may happen to hold. It becomes difficult, therefore, in regard to this and many other matters of
Masonic moment, to speak of the disciplina arcani to those who may be either not interested in it or who
would treat the information with incredulity as something about which nothing certain is known or perhaps knowable.
Scepticism, freedom and independence of thought about matters of a more or less occult nature have their undoubted
place and value in the outer ways of the world. But they are foreign to and inconsistent with the mental attitude
appropriate to those who, on entering a hall of Initiation, are supposed to tyle the door to the outside world and
its conceptions, and, divesting themselves of all ideas there pre-acquired, to offer themselves as humble teachable
pupils of a new and authoritative order of knowledge. Where everyone claims to be already possessed of a
sufficiently satisfactory explanation of the Universe and his place in it, or is content to get along without one,
and in either case prefers his private judgment to any other that may be offered him, the soil for making Initiates
in any real sense is distinctly unfavourable. For such, however, these pages are not written. They are offered only
to the minority of Brethren eager to learn what Masonry has to teach them upon matters in which they earnestly seek
knowledge and guidance.
Masonry, then, in exhibiting to them a simple ladder offers them a symbol the significance of which is calculated to
open widely the eyes of their imagination. It is true that in the Instruction-lecture the ladder is expressly
referred to that of Jacob in the familiar biblical episode, and that that ladder is then given a moral significance
and made to suggest the way by which man may ascend from earth to heaven by climbing its symbolic rungs, and
especially by utilising its three chief ones representing the virtues Faith, Hope and Charity. This moral
interpretation is warranted and salutary. But it is far from exhaustive and conceals rather than reveals what
"Jacob's ladder" was really intended to convey to the perspicuous when the compilers of our system gave it the
prominence they did. We may be assured they had a much deeper purpose than merely reminding us of the Pauline triad
of theological virtues.
The ladder, then, covertly emphasises the old cosmological teaching before referred to. It is a symbol of the
Universe and of its succession of step-like planes reaching from the heights to the depths. It is written elsewhere
that the Father's House has many mansions; many levels and resting places for His creatures in their different
conditions and degrees of progress. It is these levels, these planes and sub-planes, that are denoted by the rungs
and staves of the ladder. And of these there are, for us in our present state of evolutionary unfoldment, three
principal ones; the physical plane, the plane of desire and emotion, and the mental plane or that of the abstract
intelligence which links up to the still higher plane of the spirit. These three levels of the world are reproduced
in man. The first corresponds with his material physique, his sense-body; the second with his desire and emotional
nature, which is a mixed element resulting from the interaction of his physical senses and his ultra-physical mind;
the third with his mentality, which is still farther removed from his physical nature and forms the link between the
latter and his spiritual being.
The ladder, and its three principal staves, may be seen everywhere in Nature. It appears in the septenary scale of
musical sound with its three dominants; in the prismatic scale of light with its three primary colours; in our
seven-day scale of weekly time, in the septenary physiological changes of our bodily organism, and the similar
periodicities known to physics and indeed to every branch of science. The perfect Lodge has seven members, including
three principal Officers. The advancement of the Third Degree candidate to the East is by seven steps, the first
three of which, it will be remembered, are given special significance.
Thus the Universe and man himself are constructed ladder-wise, in an orderly organised sequence of steps. The one
universal substance composing the differentiated parts of the Universe "descends" from a state of the utmost
ethereality by successive steps of increasing densification until gross materialisation is reached; and thence
"ascends" through a similarly ordered gradation of planes to its original place but enriched by the experience
gained by its activities during the process.
It was this cosmic process which was the subject of the dream or vision of Jacob and which accounts for "Jacob's
ladder" being given prominence in our symbolism. What was "dreamed" or beheld by him with super sensual vision, is
equally perceptible to-day by anyone whose inner eyes have been opened. Every real Initiate is one who has attained
an expansion of consciousness and faculty enabling him to behold the ethereal worlds revealed to the Hebrew
patriarch, as easily as the uninitiated man beholds the phenomenal world with his outer eyes. The Initiate is able
to "see the angels of God ascending and descending"; that is, he can directly behold the great stairway of the
Universe and watch the intricate but orderly mechanism of involution, differentiation, evolution, and re-synthesis,
constituting the Life-process. He can witness the descent of human essences or souls through planes of increasing
density and decreasing vibratory rate, gathering around them as they come veils of matter from each, until finally
this lowest level of complete materialisation is reached, where the great struggle for supremacy between the inner
and the outer man, between the spirit and the flesh, between the real self and the unreal selves and veils built
round it, has to be fought out on the chequer-work floor of our present existence, among the black and white
opposites of good and evil, light and darkness, prosperity and adversity, And he can watch the upward return of
those who conquer in the strife and, attaining their regeneration and casting off or transmuting the "worldly
possessions" acquired during their descent, ascend to their Source, pure and unpolluted from the stains of this
imperfect world. But to no man comes such vision as this unless he too be a Jacob who flees from the clash and hurly
of secular activities into the solitude of his own soul, and in that barren wilderness interrogates himself and
struggles agonisingly to penetrate the mystery of his existence, to read its purpose, and tear out the last secret
of his own being. perchance, he may fall asleep, his head at last quietly pillowed upon that hard stone, against
which hitherto he has been blindly dashing it. And then by the surrender of his own will and mental activities, and
in the silence and quietude of the senses, his own inmost great Light may break, and from that new-found centre he
will see and know and find the answer to all his needs. For, in the words of an ancient record of Initiation, "the
sleep of the body becomes the awaking of the soul, and the closing of the eyes true vision, and silence becomes
impregnated with God. This happened to me when I received the supreme authentic Word. I became God-inspired. I
arrived at Truth. Wherefore I give from my soul and whole strength, blessing to the Father." (Hermes,
Poemandres, I. 30).
Jacob's vision and ladder, therefore, exemplify the attainment of Initiation, the expansion of consciousness that
comes when the Light of the centre is found, and the cosmic vision that then becomes possible. The same truth is
taught in a little treatise, of great instructiveness to every Mason, written by the initiate philosopher Porphyry
in the third century and entitled On the Cave of the Nymphs. It is an exposition of a passage in Homer's Odyssey,
which he shows likewise to be a veiled story of the soul's wanderings, of its crossing the rough seas of life and
enduring the tempests and trials of this world, and finally perfecting itself and escaping into the haven of peace.
The passage describes a certain dark cave, above which grew an olive-tree, and into which certain nymphs entered at
one end and became busy in weaving purple garments for themselves; and it was not possible to leave the cave save by
a gate at the other end and after having ceased to be satisfied with the pleasure of inhabiting that agreeable but
benighted place and sought a way of escape. Porphyry thus explains the allegory:
The dark cave is that of the body into which the soul (a "nymph" or spiritual being) enters and weaves around itself
a garment of flesh and blood, and indulges in sense-gratifications alien to its real nature. The nymph-soul has
descended through the planes of the Cosmos until it has entered this cave by the "gate of man" (i.e., by evolving to
human status), and it can only leave it by passing out through the opposite gate, the "gate of the gods" (i.e., by
becoming perfected and divinised). This it cannot do save with the help of oil from the olive planted at the top of
the cavern; the oil of Wisdom which shall initiate the soul and guide it to the way out to the higher worlds and the
regions of the blessed.
Porphyry's - exposition continues thus: "In this cave, therefore, says Homer, all external worldly possessions must
be deposited. Here, naked and as a suppliant, afflicted in body, casting aside everything superfluous, and
renouncing all sensual energies, one must sit at the foot of the olive and consult with Minerva (Wisdom) by what
means we may effectually destroy that hostile rout of passions which lurk insidiously in the secret recesses of the
soul. . . It will not be a simple task to become liberated from this sensible life; but he who dares to do this must
transmute himself, so that being at length divested of the torn garments, by which his true self is concealed, he
may recover the ruined empire of his soul."
The Mason who reads this parable will not fail to see in it the allusion to the preparation of candidates for
initiation, or to recognise that the cave and the olive-tree growing above it correspond precisely with the grave of
Hiram Abiff and the sprig of acacia planted at its head. Both of these allude, of course, to the human body in which
the true spiritual self of man lies buried and imprisoned, and from the bondage of which it can only be freed by
cultivating and lighting the oil of wisdom (or, alternatively, of causing the sprig of acacia to blossom) which will
enlarge his consciousness and reveal to him his path through the Universe.
We have each descended into this world by the steps of Jacob's ladder; we have each to ascend from it by the same
steps. In some Masonic diagrams and tracing boards, upon the ladder is exhibited a small cross in a tilted, unstable
position as if ascending it. That cross represents all who are engaged in mounting the ladder to the heights, and
Rise by stepping-stones
From their dead selves to higher things.
Each carries his cross, his own cruciform body, as he ascends; the material vesture whose tendencies are ever at
cross-purposes with the desire of his spirit and militate against the ascent. Thus weighted, each must climb, and
climb alone; yet reaching out—as the secret tradition teaches and the arms of the tilted cross signify—one hand to
invisible helpers above, and the other to assist the ascent of feebler brethren below. For as the sides and separate
rungs of the ladder constitute a unity, so all life and all lives are fundamentally one, and none lives to himself
Indeed Life, and the ladder it climbs, are one and indissociable. The summit of both reaches to and disappears out of
ken into the heavens ; the base of both rests upon the earth ; but these two terminals — that of spirit and that of
matter — are but opposite poles of a single reality which cannot be known as a unity or otherwise than in its
differentiated aspects of many planes, many mansions, many rounds or staves, except by him who has unified them in
himself and become able to ascend and descend upon the ladder at will. But this is the privilege only of the
Initiate skilled in that science of life which teaches how to mount the Scala Perfectionis, as a famous
classical work of the 15th century terms the ladder of initiation, known to Masons under the glyph of "Jacob's
The novitiate Mason is taught to regard his normal, natural personality as but a foundation-stone upon which he is
recommended to erect a superstructure, perfect in all its parts and honourable to the builder.
To how many does this instruction mean anything more than a general pious counsel to become merely a man of strong
moral character and virtue? It is something, of course, to fulfil that elementary standard, which needs, however, no
membership of a Secret Order for its accomplishment; but the recommendation implies a very different meaning from
that, as a little reflection will show. It is not a recommendation merely to improve the condition of the already
existing foundation-stone (the personality), but to erect upon that foundation something which previously did not
exist, something which will transcend and outrange it, although built upon it.
For the reader who is unversed in the deeper side of Masonic significance and is unaware of the hidden nature of it
as thoroughly known to the original exponents of the science, the subject may prove difficult. It must therefore be
explained at the outset that the superstructure to be erected is the organisation of an ethereal or spiritual body
in which the skilled Mason can function in independence of his physical body and natural personality.
The theory of Masonry presupposes that man is a fallen creature; that his natural personality is a transient and
unreal expression of his true self as conceived in the Divine Mind; and that, under appropriate tuition and
self-discipline, he may become rebuilt and reorganised into the original condition from which he has fallen. The
present natural personality, however, is the basis or foundation stone out of which that reorganisation can proceed,
and within it already exists, though in a condition of chaos and disorder, all the material requisite to the
Building a superstructure upon one's present self involves much more than merely improving one's moral character. It
is not a novice's task, although the advice to perform it is rightly given in the Apprentice-stage. It is a work of
occult science, only to be undertaken by those educated and skilled in that science. It is the science to which the
Christian Master referred in the words: "Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and
counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest, after he hath laid the foundation and is not able
to finish it, all that behold begin to mock, saying, 'This man began to build but was not able to finish!' “
Accordingly the Mason desirous of building a tower or superstructure should ''sit down first and count the cost" by
acquiring a thorough understanding of what is involved ; and before he is able even to begin the erection of such a
building he will find a good deal of rough labourer's work has first to be done upon himself in clearing the ground
for the intended structure.
There is an old Masonic Degree, not comprised in our present Constitutions, devoted specially to this subject. It is
called the Degree of Grand Architect and throws great light on the intention of those who, well understanding the
secret science, made reference in our Ritual to the building of a superstructure.
"Structures in the air!" All structures, save subterranean ones, rise into the air, — the average reader will say;
yet not buildings of brick or stone are here meant. Again, building castles in the air is a familiar term for
indulgence in day-dreaming and fanciful speculation; but, whilst all thought energy is constructive and creates
objective form upon the plane of mind, we may be assured that the sages who perpetuated Masonic science were
innocent of recommending the practice of anything so futile and unpractical. The airy structure to which they allude
is the formation of a super-physical ethereal body, a "body of mist" as Hesiod and other Greek classics describe it,
in which the adept Mason may consciously function in the finer planes of life and apart from his gross physical
organism, and in which he will continue to live when the latter has become permanently discarded. It is spoken of by
Origen, the Christian Father of the second century, as follows : "Another body, a spiritual and ethereal one, is
promised us ; a body not subject to physical touch, nor seen by physical eyes, nor burdened with weight, and which
shall be metamorphosed according to the different regions in which it shall be. In that spiritual body the whole of
it will be an eye, the whole of it an ear, the whole serve as hands, the whole as feet" ; implying that all the now
distributed faculties will be unified in that body into one, as was the case with man before the fall and descent
into matter and multiplicity.[ For a fuller study of this subject reference should be made to a recent work upon it,
The Subtle Body, by G. R. S. Mead, 1919 (Watkins).]
Let us justify these observations by some pertinent references to the subject in the great text-book of
Initiation-Science, the Volume of the Sacred Law; though they might be abundantly supplemented from other
Like the famous Orphic Hymns of the Pythagorean and Eleusinian Schools of the Mysteries, the Psalms of our Bible are
an anthology of hymns of the Hebrew Initiates and are full of Masonic allusion and instructiveness. In the 48th
Psalm, the disciple of spiritual science is directed to take a walk round the symbolic City of Jerusalem; he was
told to mark well its bulwarks, to observe its palaces, and particularly to pay attention to the great tower of the
Temple, which, like a modern cathedral spire, rose into the air above all other buildings, so that he might not only
himself appreciate the symbolism of what he saw, but might be in a position to interpret its significance to "them
that come after" ; that is to junior students of the science.
He thus received a striking object-lesson in the analogy of material buildings to spiritual ones. In the massive
defensive walls of the city he was to recognise the strength, permanence and resisting power of the spiritual
organism or "holy city" which he must build for himself in exchange for, but upon the foundation of, the frail
perishable temporal body. In the palaces of the mighty, with their gorgeous interiors and stores of costly
furnishings and precious objects of art, he was to perceive that his own interior must become correspondingly
beautified and enriched with spiritual treasures. But in the great heaven-pointing tower, to which his attention was
specially directed, he was to see the symbol of a structure as far transcending his present temporal organism as the
Temple-spire outranged the adjacent buildings at its feet. From this he was to deduce the necessity of building and
projecting upwards from his lower organisation, a "tower," a superior spiritual body, rising into and capable of
functioning in the "air" or more tenuous and ethereal worlds than this physical one. This is the "structure in the
air" which only Grand Architects" are competent to raise; this is the "superstructure" which our Entered Apprentices
are enjoined to aspire to building.
Let us turn next to the further pertinent information on the subject given by the Apostle-Initiate to his Corinthian
pupils. He instructs them on this subject of superstructures. How is it possible to rear them? "How are the dead
raised up, and with what body do they come?" (He is not speaking of the physically defunct, but of that condition of
atrophied spiritual consciousness characterising the normal animal man, which is always described as a state of
"death" in the biblical and other writings on the subject). He proceeds to explain that the physical body itself
cannot be raised, since corruption cannot inherit in-corruption, but that nevertheless there can be a "resurrection
from the dead" through a sublimation of its vital essences, which can be reorganised and reconstituted into a new
body of subtle matter on a supra-physical level. First comes the natural body we all wear to begin with; but out of
it can be evolved a psychical body. The former is an entirely earthy vesture exhibiting an illusory unreal self to
the world ; the latter is the body of our true spiritual self (or "lord from heaven") which hitherto has remained
masked and buried within that temporal vesture ; "sown" in it as a seed, but capable of bursting its sheath and
being raised from its former impotence to "power" (activity and conscious function). He properly speaks of it as one
of the secrets and mysteries of Initiation, and his familiar words may thus be paraphrased: "I am expounding to you
a mystery, one of the arcana of Initiation. We are not designed to remain always asleep in this drugged, deadened
state of consciousness in which we are plunged, where we suffer the illusion that we are really alive but are not.
In the course of our evolution the due comes for each of us to awake out of that sleep, and to become changed,
transmuted; for our consciousness to be transposed to a higher level. We have borne the earthly human image; we have
now to exchange it for an ethereal one of finer texture and purer quality. The change, the transposition of
consciousness from the old to the new centre, comes suddenly (though it may take long to prepare and purify
ourselves for its coming). When it occurs, it comes with an inwardly heard crash, like a trumpet-blast, as the
nervous system and brain-structures react to the stress upon them involved in the transition."[ It must be explained
that the "trumpet" and "last trumpet" are technical terms among Initiates for the spiral, trumpet-shaped, whorls or
vortices occurring in subtle matter under stresses, audible to those in whom the change occurs. The reference to the
"sound of the last trumpet" stands for a physiological experience as the last fine physical strands of the old
nature are, as it were, snapped and the nervous system re-electrified. In the East this experience is called “the
end of the world," since for the Initiate it means the termination of his old worldly consciousness and its
replacement by one of a much vivid and intense quality.]
The Apostle further explains that for this newly evolved Ego or conscious centre there is an appropriate body, for
there are celestial as well as terrestrial bodies. There cannot be consciousness apart from a formal vehicle for it,
and as the old earthy body has served (and will so continue to serve) for ordinary mundane purposes, so will the
newly evolved consciousness possess its own separate appropriate psychic or spiritual body for function upon
supraphysical levels. The Initiate of this high degree, therefore, will possess a twofold organisation; his ordinary
physical one (the "companion of his former toils") and his supra-physical one, and will be able to utilise and
function in each. He will have built his "tower”; his "superstructure in the air."
The superstructure must be perfect in all its parts and so be honourable to the builder. What are its parts?
Man, even in his natural, unregenerate, imperfectly evolved state, is a highly composite creature. Blended with his
purely physical frame are three other supra-physical, but quasi-physical, bodies; his etheric body (the "double" or
wraith), his emotional or desire body, and his mental organisation or body; whilst over and beyond these, and not
necessarily in functional alignment with them, exists his ultimate spiritual self which distinguishes him from the
sub-human creatures. These are his "parts," and they are but too often extremely ill-organised, uncoordinated and
unbalanced. If they be imperfectly organised in the lower natural man, how can they be expected to be able to
contribute requisite sublimations of themselves for the up-building of a body upon a higher level? All bodily and
mental disease and infirmity originates in disorder in these inner bodies, which disorder thereupon becomes
reflected forwards and manifested in the physical husk. Unless the inner natures be disciplined and organised before
the gross mortal vesture is shed at physical death, how can one enter the ethereal kingdoms otherwise than "maimed,"
without a "wedding-garment," and in a distorted shape, not perfect in all its parts, and anything but honourable to
But, as we have long since seen, the first duty of every spiritual Craftsman is the purification and discipline of
these bodies, and the elimination from himself of all base metals therein of which he has himself been an artificer.
Only in proportion to the achievement of this arduous task can he hope to bring these "parts" into order, into
subjection to his and into co-ordinated function and alignment, and so in the fullest sense stand erect, a just and
upright man and Mason. He need not trouble to know how his superstructure will develop or to what extent or measure
of perfection he may have built it. For it will become automatically built in his heights proportionately as he
schools himself in his depths and tests his work by the continual application to it of the cross (which is the
square, level and plumb-rule in combination). When the time comes for his consciousness to be raised to that
superior level and he hears the call "Friend, come up higher l" he will find the superstructure he has been building
in the darkness below, perfect in all its parts and honourable to himself. He will have climbed a section of the
life-ladder; he will himself have built, dedicated and consecrated King Solomon's Temple; and, through the result of
his own labour upon himself, that resplendent body will appear to him more like the work of the Great Architect of
the Universe than that of human hands.
There are, however, farther sections of the infinite ladder to be climbed, even when this high level has been won.
From thence there remains still further building to be done, a body to be fabricated manifesting still loftier
wisdom, strength and beauty. For was not the first symbolic Temple to be destroyed and become replaced by a second,
of which it is written that ' 'the glory of the former house is not to be compared with that of the latter?"
But this still loftier work need not now be treated of. Let it suffice if what has already been said assists any
reader to the building of his first superstructural Temple.
5. — The Cable-Tow
These expositions are being offered in their present order with a purpose. That purpose is to outline, as nearly and
systematically as may be, the due sequence and progressive stages of the work of spiritual Craftsmanship or
self-building. We have traced that work from its inception in the heart's desire to pass from darkness to light and
attain a higher order of life and mode of being, through its stages of the outer and inward purification essential
to that attainment, and through the crisis of a deeper gloom, a voluntary abnegation of and dying to all the
attributes that go to constitute the natural personality, until the aspirant who endures all these to the end is
finally rewarded by receiving his "crown of life," as the biblical metaphor very fittingly terms that exalted order
of conscious being which marks the fulfilment of human spiritual evolution. And we have shown how, in winning that
high degree of consciousness, he has simultaneously built for himself out of the sublimations of his original nature
a new superstructural body appropriate to it and in which it can function.
In the abounding wealth of the symbols and veiled verbal references in our rituals and instruction lectures to the
details of this truly scientific work, there remain, however, many others needing explanation, some of which can now
be considered more advantageously than at our earlier stage and with better chance of being understood.
One of these is the cable-tow. In my previous book it was explained that its use in the E.A. Degree taught the
beginner the useful lesson that he who has once felt within him the impulses of the central Light and been moved to
seek it should never recede from his quest and, indeed, cannot do so without doing violence to the highest within
him, a violence equivalent to moral suicide. At the same time, he is also enjoined not to be unduly precipitate, not
ignorantly and rashly to rush forward in an unprepared inward state to grasp the secrets of his own being, in which
case peril of another kind threatens him; but to proceed humbly, meekly, cautiously and under instructed guidance.
The ancient maxim "Know thyself," was coupled with another, Ne quid nimis, "Nothing in excess"; for the
science can only be learned and applied gradually. It will unfold itself more and more as it is diligently studied
The foregoing explanation of the cable-tow is but a very partial one, and inculcates a salutary, but purely moral,
piece of advice. The deeper significance is a psycho-physiological one and has to do with the mysteries of the human
organism. It should not be overlooked that the cable-tow is given prominence not only in the First Degree. It is
again mentioned in the obligation in the Third Degree, whilst it appears under another guise in that working-tool of
the Master-Mason which acts upon a centre-pin. And finally, it reappears in the Royal Arch Degree as a cord or
life-line. It is requisite to understand what is involved in something to which such recurring prominence is
Let us first recall what has been already stated about the human organism being a composite structure of several
natures or bodies (physical, etheric, emotional, and mental), fixated in a unity or synthesis; each of such bodies
being constituted of gross or subtle matter, of differing density and vibratory rate, and the whole co-ordinated by
the central divine Principle (which may or may not yet have come forward into the formal conscious mind, although
there are few in whose awareness it is not lurkingly present and more or less active as "conscience.")
Thus, the human constitution may be likened to a number of glass tumblers placed one within the other and with, say,
a night-light (representing the central Principle) inserted in the inmost one. The glass of the tumblers may be
imagined as of progressive thickness and coarseness, from within outwards, and some of them as coloured, dirty, or
not closely fitting in with the others. The coarser, dirtier, and more opaque the glasses, the less able will be the
central light to shine through them; a single glass may be so opaque as to prevent the passage of the light through
all the rest. Here, then, is an object lesson in the need for the inward purification of our various constituent
sheaths, and for becoming "perfect in all our parts." As William Blake said very truly: "If the gates of human
perception were thoroughly cleansed, we should perceive everything as it is — infinite; but man has closed himself
up till he sees all things only through the narrow chinks of his own cavern."
Another illustration. Human compositeness may be compared with the concentric skins or sheaths of a vegetable bulb
(an onion, or hyacinth). Here the sheaths are all equally pure and co-ordinated; and because the bulb is perfect in
all its parts or sheaths, and, when planted, fulfils the whole law of its nature, its life-force bursts its natural
bonds, throws up a self-built superstructure into the air, and there effloresces into the bloom which is its "crown
of life" or fulness of development. Man should do this, and, as we have shown, this is what the Mason is taught to
do. But man having (what the bulb has not), freedom of will to fulfil or to violate the law of his nature, has
chosen the latter course, and consequently by indulgence in perverse desire and wrongly directed thought, has fouled
and disorganised his sheaths. Hence his spiritual darkness and his liability to all forms of disease. The central
Principle cannot shine through his opacity, lighting up his mind and governing his desires and actions. It remains
imprisoned within him. He sees, thinks and knows only from his self-darkened outer sheaths, and is misguided and
For a final example, let us turn to the instructive familiar episode in the Gospels of the storm overtaking a boat
containing a number of men, of whom the Chief was "asleep in the hinder part of the boat." The boat typifies the
human organism; its occupants, its various parts and faculties, including the as yet un-awakened Master-Principle
resident in its depths or "hinder part." An emotional upheaval occurs; the rough waves of passion threaten to wreck
the whole party. A brain-storm arises; intemperate gusts of fright, wrong headedness, and mental un-control, make
the position still worse. The extremity is sufficiently acute to awaken the Master-Principle into activity whose
beneficent power is able instantly to still those unruly winds, and waves, which suddenly are reduced to a great
Every Master-Mason, who is a real and not merely a titular one, is able to perform this "miracle" in himself; perhaps
in others also. There is nothing super-natural about it to him. It is possible to him because he "has the Mason Word
and second sight"; he both understands the composite structure of the human organism, can visually discern the
disordered part or parts, and can apply healing, harmonising, vibratory power. from his own corresponding part to
the seat of mischief, saying to this disordered mental part or that unruly emotional sheath, "Peace, be still!"
Every Master-Mason is therefore also a Master-Physician, able to benefit patients in a medical sense, and also to
visualise the inner condition of those who look to him for instruction and initiation in a Masonic sense, to advise
upon their interior needs and moral ailments, and help them to purify and align their disordered natures. But this
is not possible save to one who himself has become pure and rectified in all his parts; the physician must first
heal himself before he can communicate either physical or moral health to others.
This promise about the compositeness of the human structure and the existence in us of a series of independent, yet
co-ordinated "parts" or sheaths, has been necessary before we can speak directly of the cable-tow. What is it that
connects these parts? And are these parts dissociable from one another?
We know that they are normally in close association and to this association applies the enjoinder that what God hath
joined, man shall not put asunder. What the age-long process of evolution has built up with infinite patience and
care is not to be tampered with for improper purposes, or even by well-meaning but, as yet, unenlightened experiment
in the supposed interests of science; a point upon which the old Masters and teachers of our science are specially
insistent, for reasons which now need not be entered upon.
Nevertheless, a measure of dissociation does occur naturally in even the most healthy and well organised people (and
of cases of abnormal psychic looseness of constitution we need not speak). It occurs in sleep, when the
consciousness may be vividly active, whether in an orderly or disorderly manner; people "travel" in their sleep. It
occurs at times of illness or violent shock. It may be induced by alcohol or drugs; the "anaesthetic revelation" is
a well-recognised phenomenon. Under any of these conditions there may be a complete ec-stasis, or conscious
standing out or away of the Ego from the physical body. Apparitions and even action at a distance are well
accredited facts. Such phenomena are explicable only upon the suppositions of the existence of a subtler vehicle
than the gross body, of the fact that consciousness becomes temporarily transferred from the latter to the former,
and that the two are capable of conjoint function in complete independence of the physical brain and body.
What preserves the connection between the two "parts" thus disjoined, and makes possible their subsequent
re-coalescence, is the "cable-tow." It is a connective thread of matter of extreme tenuousness and elasticity
issuing from the physical abdominal region and maintaining the same kind of connection with the extended subtle body
as the string with which a boy flies a kite. As the boy can pull in the kite by the string, so does the extruded
subtle body become drawn back to its physical base. Were the kite-string severed during the kite's flight, the kite
would collapse or be blown away. Similarly, were the human "cable-tow" permanently severed, death would ensue and
each of the severed parts go to its own place.
Biblically this human "cable-tow" is called the "silver cord" in the well-known passage, "or ever the silver cord is
loosed and the golden bowl is broken; then shall the body return to the earth and the spirit to God who gave it."
"Silver" is the technical esoteric term for psychical substance, as gold is for spiritual, and iron or brass for
physical. Its physiological correspondence is the umbilical cord connecting the child with its mother. Its analogue
in ecclesiastical vestments is the girdle worn by the high-priests of the Hebrew and by the priests and monastics of
the Christian Church.
Everyone unconsciously possesses the cable-tow, and it comes into use during sleep, when a less or
greater measure of involuntary dissociation of our parts occurs. A Master, however, is one who has outgrown the
incapacities to which the undeveloped average man is subject. Unlike the latter, he is in full knowledge and control
of all his parts; whether his physical body be awake or wrapped in sleep, he maintains unbroken consciousness. He is
able at will to shut off consciousness of temporal affairs and apply it to supra-physical ones. He can thus function
at a distance from his physical body, whether upon the mundane or upon higher planes of the cosmic ladder. His
cable-tow, of infinite expansiveness, unwinds from his centre-pin and, stretching like the kite-string, enables him
to travel where he will in his subtle body and to re-join and reanimate his physical one at will. Hence it is that
the Master Mason is pledged to answer and obey all signs and summonses from any Master-Mason's lodge if within the
reach of his cable-tow; and such assemblies, it should be remembered, are contemplated therefore as taking place not
at any physical location, but upon an ethereal plane. For corroboration of what is possible in this respect to a
Master, one should reflect upon the instances of bi-location, passing through closed walls, and manifesting at a
distance, recorded of the Great Exemplar in the Gospels. These are representative of what is feasible to anyone
The cable-tow, therefore, is given prominence to the reflective Craftsman as a help towards understanding his own
constitution, and to foreshadow t0 him work that lies before him when is he fitted to undertake it; — work which now
may seem to him impossible and incredible. For as the skirret (which is the cable-tow in another form) is intended
for the skilful architect to draw forth a line to mark out the ground for the intended structure, so the competent
builder of the spiritual body will unwind his own "silver cord" he learns how to function consciously on the
ascending ladder of supraphysical planes, and to perceive the nature of the superstructure he himself is intended to
Further importance attaches to the significance of the cable-tow from the fact testified to at the admission to our
Order of every new candidate for ceremonial initiation. For all real Initiation involves the use of the actual
"silver cord" or life-line; since such Initiation always occurs when the physical body is in a state of trance or
sleep, and when the temporarily liberated consciousness has been transferred to a higher level. Thence it
subsequently is brought back to the physical organism, the cerebral and nerve centres of which become illumined,
revitalised and raised to a higher pitch of faculty than was previously possible. The perspicacious Royal Arch Mason
will not fail to perceive how this truth is dramatically exemplified in that Degree.
This subject might be considerably extended, for whilst in a ceremonial system like the Masonic, only one initiation
is portrayed (or, rather where initiation only occurs once), yet in the actual experience of soul-architecture
Initiation succeeds Initiation upon increasingly higher levels of the ladder as the individual becomes
correspondingly ripe for them, able to bear their strain and to assimilate their revelations. What the Craft
teaching and symbols inculcate is a principle common to every degree of real Initiation that one may prove worthy to
attains. For each upward step the candidate for the heights must be prepared as he is in the E.A. Degree; at each
there will be the same peril in turning back, and at each the same menace directed against rashly rushing
6. — THE APRON
So much was said in my former volume, The Meaning of Masonry, in explanation of the Masonic Apron, that it
needless to speak at length of it again. Yet, to maintain continuity of thought, it seems desirable once more to
refer to its symbolism at this point, since we have been closely considering the manner in which consciousness
becomes expanded and enveloped in bodies or vehicles appropriate to that expansion; and we have been dealing with
the arcanum or "mystery" propounded by St. Paul as to how the "dead" (the as yet uninitiated and spiritually
un-quickened), are raised up to a new order of life and the new kind of embodiment they take on, or automatically
fabricate, in the process.
Consciousness cannot exist without body. "To every seed (or conscious unit) its own body," says the Apostle-Initiate;
or, as we Masons may paraphrase it, to every Degree of life is allotted the appropriate Apron, proclaiming the
wearer's spiritual rank. As no one can enter the Lodge unclothed with the Apron, so no one can enter any of the
unseen worlds without wearing a body appropriate. There are bodies terrestrial, adapted to use on the lower planes
of life; and bodies celestial or ethereal, adapted to functioning on higher ones. Man is a composite of many bodies,
one within the other; though ordinarily he is unaware of it and has not yet organised them and come to know them
separately, as the Initiate is expected to do.
The physical body is but one, and the grossest, of the terrestrial bodies; it is but a plaster of organised chemical
particles, within and around which his subtler bodies exists and for which it forms a nexus or fixation-point. When
totally discarded at death it disintegrates; when partially abandoned in sleep or anaesthesia its energies persist
passively, and connection with it is kept by the cabletow or "silver cord." In each case the Ego, whether aware of
it or not, stands minus its physical sheath and enclosed in its remaining ones. And a similar divesting of each
successive body may take place until only the ultimate Ego remains.
That Ego, the ultimate Divine Principle in man, is represented by the triangular flap of the Masonic Apron. The
triangle (or pyramid form) is the geometrical symbol for Spirit or Fire, and the ultimate Spirit of man may be
likened to a pointed flame or tongue of fire. (The word "pyramid" derives from the Greek word pur, fire).
The body or form (or rather the succession of bodies or forms), which that Ego assumes on descending into
manifestation through the ladderlike planes of the Universe, aggregating to itself an organising around itself
material from each, is represented by the lower quadrangular part of the Apron. "The quadrangle, square, or
superfice, is the geometrical symbol for Body, Form, Physicalisation. The quadrangle is further appropriate because
(1) all Body is constituted of four elements, earth, water, air, fire; (2) because the human organism is fourfold, a
complex of four distinct departments, physical, etheric, emotional and mental, and (3) because in man the three
sub-human kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal), are unified into the human synthesis.
In the First Degree, the triangular flap of the Apron is kept erect. In the Second it is lowered. Thereby is denoted
the physiological truth that the Ego or human Spirit on entering this world at birth does not immediately attain
full embodiment, but at first is, as it were, an over-hovering presence, organically connected with the body, but
only gradually taking possession of it. We recognise this truth in practical life. Moral and legal responsibility is
never attributed to a child under seven years of age, for the moral sense has not yet developed. Important
physiological changes connected with puberty occur at the age of fourteen. Civic responsibility is denied until
twenty-one is reached. The basic reason for all this is the occult truth that the Ego does not attain its maximum of
incarnation until twenty-one. Accordingly, it is not until this age is reached that a man is presumed competent to
the Craft and undertake the science of himself.
As the Ego immerses itself in its body and works upon it, it creates changes in it, whether for good or evil. It
either organises or disorganises its vehicles according to its will and desires. It becomes an artificer in metals,
whether base or precious; it either stores itself with ornaments and jewels and the invaluable furniture of
self-knowledge, or with useless trumperies and grotesque contrivances of which sooner or later it must get rid.
Assuming its activities to have been wisely directed, they are evidenced in the Apron by the blue rosettes imposed
upon it in the Second Degree; if they are persisted in and the Spirit more and more subjugates and controls the
Form, that increasing domination and the further progress made in the science are testified to by the additional
elaborations found in the Apron in the Third Degree. Still more advanced progress is evidenced by further changes
and beautification of the Apron in the Royal Arch Degrees, and in the Grand Lodges of provinces, and of the
The Tau displayed upon the Apron worn by those of Master rank is a form of the Cross, and also of the Hammer
of Scandinavian religion. It is displayed triply, 'to signify that the wearer has brought his three lower natures
(physical, emotional, and mental) under complete control; that he has crucified them and keeps them repressed by the
hammer of strong will'.
The further important point should be noticed that the Apron covers the creative, generative organs of the body; and
it is especially to these that the significance of the Tau attaches. Spiritual self-building and the erection
"superstructure" are dependent upon the supply of creative energy available from the generative nervous centre, the
"power-house" of the human organism. Thence that energy passes upwards through other ganglionic "transformers" and,
reaching the brain, becomes finally sublimated and transformed to consciousness. Conservation of that energy is
therefore indispensable both for generating consciousness and providing the material for the finer vehicle or
"superstructure" in which that consciousness may function; the life-energy is always creative, either in the
direction of physical propagation or in that of super-physical up-building; hence the importance attached in
religious spheres to celibacy.
It should also be noted that in the three Craft Degrees, the investiture with the Apron is made in the West; and not
by the Master, but by his principal officer who is deputed to bestow it. The meaning behind this important detail is
that while the human Ego is resident in this temporal world ("the West"), Nature, as the chief officer and deputy of
Providence, supplies it with bodies of her own material and temporal substance. But in all cases beyond those three,
the investiture takes place in the "East" — the realm of spirit, and from the hands of the Master himself. For the
progressed soul receives a clothing beyond Nature's power to supply; and, without intermediate hands, "God giveth it
a body as it pleaseth Him," and to every such soul its own body, according to its measure of progress and
7. — The Wind.
The Instruction Lectures of the First Degree (unfortunately not used in some Lodges), contain a curious reference to
the blowing of the wind, which must puzzle a good many minds. What has the wind to do with Masonic work, and why
should it be particularly favourable to that work when blowing from East to West or vice versa?
Again, we must look below the letter of the reference. The subject has not been introduced without purpose and
instructiveness, to discern which will once more reveal the wisdom of the compilers and the crypticism with which
they purposely shielded it when preparing our system for more or less promiscuous use.
The wind referred to is not the atmospheric breeze. It is that Wind (Pneuma) which "bloweth where it listeth";
Wind of the Spirit; the currents of Divine Energy.
The "East" and the "West" are not our ordinary geographical directions of space. In Initiate and Biblical language,
as in the quarters of the Lodge, the East is the realm of Spirit and Light; the West that of Matter and Darkness,
the place of the disappearing sun. Man partakes of both; he is polarised east-west, as Spirit-Matter in one.
When, mystically, the wind blows east-west, a current of Divine Energy has set in towards the west, stimulating,
vitalising and enlightening it. When it blows west-east, man has himself directed a current of aspiration from his
own spirit eastwards to God.
The wind is therefore said to be especially favourable to Masonic work when blowing from either of those points of
mystical compass. When the Mason sends up his aspirations to the heights, as he should perpetually be doing, he is
as a dynamo generating and transmitting an electric current upwards; that is, eastwards. When the Divine Fire
descends upon himself, a similar current has set in westwards. It is written elsewhere and in the same sense, "As
the lightning shineth from the east unto the west, so is the coming of the Son of Man" into the personal
Prayer, upward aspiration in the above sense, is a practical scientific necessity for the work of the spiritual
Craftsman. He himself is but as the leaden weight swinging at the lower end of the string of the plumb-rule. The
string itself is as the connecting wire between that weight and the top of the plumb-rule, a wire through which a
current may pass up or down. Until that instrument is held erect, and the leaden weight brought to stillness and
steadiness, it is ineffective for any form of work. So long as man is spiritually unaligned and out of plumb with
his spiritual pole, directness of current between them is impossible. When that current is established the lead of
darkness and ignorance may become transmuted into the gold of conscious light and wisdom by the alchemy of the
Real Initiates have always known there to be both special times and seasons, and special localities favourable to
inducing the flow of currents of Divine Energy; but of these the modern Mason has not yet come to learn, though
there are references to them in his system. The two solstices and equinoxes are such and others are known in the
greater Churches whose calendar of feasts and fasts have been based upon this principle. The Festivals of the two
Masonic patron-saints, St. John Baptist at midsummer, and St. John the Divine at mid-winter, have special bearing
upon favourable times for spiritual Craftsmanship, but the former is now ignored, and the latter profaned. The
matter may be left to the reflection of Brethren. When the Craft comes better to realise its purpose and science,
these times and seasons will be taken advantage of for the furtherance of both individual and collective Masonic
work. The teaching in the Instruction Lecture upon the wind is supplemented by a reference to the escape of the
Israelites from Egyptian bondage under their Master Moses, who caused a mighty east wind to blow, dividing the
waters of the Red Sea to permit of their safe passage, which waters then rolled back and overwhelmed Pharaoh and his
Again, the bearing of this episode is lost upon the average Brother, who for want of a key fails to see its relevance
to any form of Masonry. And, indeed, it carries us into much deeper water than the average mind bathes in, although
to those versed in Initiation science, the striking biblical incident masks and prefigures an equally momentous one
in the individual life of everyone who seeks to fulfil his own spiritual evolution.
The allusion is to the important crisis which occurs when the personal soul of the aspirant ardently aspires for
complete liberation from the tyranny of the flesh. It is then possible, in proper cases, — and this was part of the
office of the old Mysteries — for one who is a real Master so to act upon and separate his disciple's interior
organic structures as to affect a permanent liberation of the latter's consciousness from sensual bondage. The
"waters" that are then "divided" are what have previously been explained as those of the fluidic subtle body of
desire and emotion, which normally constitute an untraversable barrier between the highest and the lowest elements
in our nature. "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" exclaimed one who afterwards
attained delivery. For the "body of death" is made up of all those lower natures in us which inhibit consciousness
in the spirit; and, as we have elsewhere stated, it is dissociable by a competent adept Master, who holds the keys
of life and death (i.e., consciousness and unconsciousness in the spirit). The higher nature of the disciple is then
liberated from the bondage of the lower; his waters are divided; he passes through them into permanent safety from
the Pharaoh-like tyranny of his material vesture; the still pursuing tendencies of which are checked, overwhelmed
and shut off when the temporarily held up waters are permitted to roll back to their former channel, to the extreme
joy of the now liberated disciple.
This is an incident of real Initiation, and it is achievable only under the guidance of the equivalent of a Moses, a
real Master. To those unversed in the deeper aspects of Initiation science, what cannot here be more than briefly
explained may appear incredible, as would much more that lies concealed beneath the symbols and the text of the
Masonic system. But those responsible for compiling or inspiring that system were clearly deeply versed in much that
they permitted themselves to do no more than hint at, and it remains for reflective Masons to penetrate their
disguises by their own research, intuition and perspicacity.
8. - Seeking a Master
The junior Brother learns that, as a Mason, his duty is to seek a Master and from him gain instruction, and usually
supposes that by making acquaintance with the W.M. of his Lodge, and learning by rote the rituals and lectures, he
is fulfilling that duty. If he desires nothing more than ceremonial Masonry, he is doubtless doing all that need be
expected of him. But if he be in earnest quest of that to which ceremonial Masonry is but an entrance-portal, he may
be interested in the following considerations.
It is axiomatic in the traditional secret wisdom that real Initiation is not to be looked for save at the hands of
one who has himself experienced it. And it is equally axiomatic that "when the disciple is ready, the Master will be
found waiting." The modern Masonic student will be well advised to accept both these axioms as being as valid to-day
as they have ever been in the past.
A Master is not easily found. But neither is he often properly sought. "Ask, seek, knock," are simple words to say
with the tongue. Their putting into effective operation is a task involving persistent and concentrated will. Under
no circumstances does a Master ever proclaim himself as such; he must be sought, must be clearly recognised and
wholeheartedly accepted as one; and you may have grave doubts of his status and your own judgment about him before
according him that confidence. You might live in close contact with a Master for years without suspecting the fact.
Recognition being due to spiritual rapport, to vibratory harmony and to intuitional certainty; until you possess
these a Master's physical personality will convey no more to you than any other man's. But of one thing be assured;
the Master will know you through and through long before you recognise him, or perhaps even realise that you are
Exoterically, in the Operative Mason's trade, the youth proposing to enter a Building Guild had first to find a
Master Mason who would accept him as his apprentice and to whom he became bound for seven years, the Master making
himself responsible for his maintenance and training. In spiritual Craftsmanship precisely the same method applies.
The Master has first to be sought and found, and, if the disciple be accepted, he must be served and implicitly
obeyed for a similar probationary period, the Master assuming a real (not a nominal) spiritual sponsorship for the
pupil. The association not being for any temporal advantage but for purely self-less spiritual advancement, the
intimacy is of the closest, as the responsibility is of the gravest, character. For the apprentice is to become
spiritually integrated with the Master. To use the beautiful touching simile of the greatest of Masters, as a hen
gathers her chickens under her wing, so is the pupil to become gathered and built into the very being of his
teacher. The real Initiation (or rather sequence of Initiations) the pupil hopes in due course to attain cannot be
achieved this intimate relationship exists.
In the days of the Ancient Mysteries, Masters were to be found resident in the seclusion of the Temples, for
Initiation science was then an organised instituion publicly recognised. In the Orient, no such formal organisation
has obtained, but the practice, both in the past and to-day, is for the aspirant to seek and find his appropriate
Master, the onus of searching being upon the former, and serving as a test of his earnestness and perspicuity. The
Master is there termed a Guru (defined as "one who removes the veil of darkness from the spiritual eyes of
the pupil"), and the accepted pupil a Chela or spiritual child, in the same sense that St. John addresses his
pupils as "little children." The ancient Sanskrit word Guru passed from India to Asia Minor and Greece and
the latter part of the name of such ancient Initiates as Protagoras, Anaxagoras, Pythagoras. The last-mentioned of
literally means the Pitta (or Pater) Guru, the Master or Father-Teacher, as in fact he was in
his day ; and the continuity of both the science and of the title Guru is further evidenced by the fact that that
title is preserved
both in Hebrew and in Masonry in the name of Hiram Abiff (spelt also in the Scriptures as Huram and Churam
Abiff). Hiram Abiff has precisely the same meaning as Pythagoras, the Father-Teacher, or alternatively the
Teacher from the
Father. The Egyptian form of the name Hiram is Hermes, the teacher of the secret or "hermetic" science and wisdom,
and the student is strongly urged to study those two important ancient treatises of Initiation-science, the Divine
Pynander of Hermes and The Shepherd of Hermes." [ Shepherd is the ancient and biblical word
or “Hierophant” Hence “The Good Shepherd”, “The Great Shepherd of the sheep.” “The Lord is my Shepherd.” The
“Shepherds watching their flocks” at the time of the Nativity were not rustics or farmers by spiritual adepts in
charge of initiate pupils.] A Master, while rejoiced to find a suitable pupil, does not accept him without
subjecting him to severe preliminary tests. He "knows what is in man." No hypocrisy deceives him. He discerns the
thoughts and desires of the heart of the intending candidate, and sees whether the latter is properly prepared
there, and really anxious and ready for the work involved. Of this, an example came to my knowledge, which it may be
useful to record, and to remember in connection with the acceptance of Masonic candidates. It was as follows:-
A young man in India sought out a venerable Master there and asked to be accepted as a pupil and trained for
initiation; he professed to want to find the Light, to know God at first hand. The old sage, after a searching
glance into the aspirant's inward condition, discerned that the latter, while not insincere, was still a long way
from readiness, and far from being sufficiently detached in desire for worldly possessions and sensual enjoyments;
and, explaining this, he firmly but kindly sent him away to exhaust or purge himself of these attractions, but with
the suggestion that he might present himself again in two years' time. After two years, the young man returned,
found the old Master bathing in the river at the foot of his garden, and from the river-bank renewed his
application. Again the old man read his visitor's heart to its depths and perceived how divided it still was between
the claims of the outer and the inner life; but, calling him down into the river, he laid his hand upon the young
one's head and gently pressed and held it below the surface of the water. Presently the young man forced it above
the surface. "Why did you do that?" he was asked. "I was obliged to do so to find breath." Then came the Master's
answer: "When you want God and the inward light as badly as you just now wanted breath, you may come back to me and
you shall have your desire. But for the present you want other things as much, and you can't have both." Like the
other young man in the Gospels, the applicant went away sorrowful; but he had found his eventual Master and gained
from him the instruction suitable to him at the moment.
How, where, is one to seek one's Master, if he be so secluded, so hard to find? He may be sought both without and
within oneself. He should first be sought in every event of the daily life, in the person of everyone you meet.
Finding him depends on the intensity of your search. "Seek and ye shall find” is not a vain promise. Look not to
meet immediately with some learned or impressive personality capable of giving you all truth in tabloid form in a
few hours. Final truth cannot be communicated at all from one person to another orally; it exists already within
yourself and needs only to be dug out and liberated. Socrates — himself a Master, though the son of a poor midwife —
used to joke that he had inherited something of his mother's profession in that his task was to help others to bring
truth to birth out of themselves; and in the same sense the medieval teachers speak of using "the obstetric hand"
in eliciting truth from their pupils rather than of instilling it into them. For the pupil has first to learn to
clear away his own falsities and unrealities, so that what is already central in himself may no longer be obscured
but shine out in its own self-conscious Light.
When the time is ripe and the pupil in a deep sense ready, he may come to meet a Master literally and in personal
wise. But a Master, being one who has evolved in his spirit, is no longer to be thought of as a separate independent
person, although displaying a separate personality and presence to the world. He is integrated with others of the
same rank; he is part of a group, all the members of which are conscious on the plane of Spirit. And Spirit is
universal, not fettered by place, time, or space. What the group perceives, each of its parts sees, and vice versa.
Remember the All-seeing Eye, the universal Watchman, that perceives you and knows the quality of your spirit, though
you yourself know nothing of it.
Until, then, a Master is met with personally, the search should persist in confidence that he will be found.
Responses, justifying your confidence and demonstrating that the Eye is watching you, will come in unsuspected ways
to the earnest seeker; perhaps from a chance passage in an apparently quite irrelevant book you may be led to pick
up; perhaps from a casual meeting with a stranger, an off-hand remark, the conversation of a friend who speaks more
wisely and pointedly to you than he himself realises. Through such and other ways may the veiled Master look or
speak to you, and proportionately to the ardour of your search will you find evidences of his presence and
watchfulness. A saintly woman, a great British poetess, so keenly sought a Master in the details of daily life that
she would pick up torn scraps of paper in the street on the chance that they might reveal his name or yield some
evidence of him. Another seeker travelled across the world in blind faith that somewhere the unknown Master would be
found. One day in the street of a foreign city the recognition came suddenly; before a stranger in the crowd the
seeker stopped, saying "Master, teach me!" — and the search was ended.
"The Master" to be sought, then, is a comprehensive term — abstract and mystical if you will, but standing for a
reality embracing many personal Masters integrated in it. In seeking a personal Master, one seeks also the group of
which he is member; in seeking the impersonal Master one may be brought into personal contact with one of that
group. Life in the realm of Spirit is a unity, not a diversity, and for Masonic seekers the wide world over, of
whatever nation or creed, there is but one Grand Master and Hierophant, but He can manifest and deputise through
divers channels. As in the Craft Lodge there is but one Master, yet many of equal rank capable of representing him
and doing his work, so has the world's Grand Master in the heights His associates and deputies here in its dark
So far, we have spoken only of seeking exteriorly, for an outward personal Master. But the search can and should also
be made interiorly, within oneself; for what is sought subjectively and spiritually can then more readily come to be
realised and found objectively. The great Indian manual of Initiation (the Bhagavad-Gita) therefore teaches
There lives a Master in the hearts of men
Who makes their deeds, by subtle-pulling strings,
Dance to what time He will. With all thy soul
Trust Him, and take Him for thy succour,
So shalt thou gain,
By grace of Him, the uttermost repose,
The Eternal Peace.
Seek therefore to realise the Master in the heart. Conceive him imaginatively. Build up in your constant thought a
mental image of him, invested with the nature and qualities of that master-soul to whom you look to raise you from
your present deadness, to remove the stone from your sepulchre, and to utter to your inmost self that vibrant word
of liberating power, "Lazarus, come forth !" For until you have in yourself something in common a with him, points
of fellowship with him — be it but a bare desire for resemblance — how shall you expect to be raised into fulness of
identic relationship with him, to be "gathered as a chicken under his wing?" Our Science in its universality limits
our conception of the Master to no one exemplar. Take, it says, the nearest and most familiar to you, the one under
whose aegis you were racially born and who therefore may serve you best; for each is able to bring you to the
centre, though each may have his separate method. To the Jewish Brother it says, take the Father of the faithful,
and realise what being gathered to his bosom means. To the Christian Brother, it points to Him upon whose breast lay
the beloved disciple and urges him to reflect upon what that implies. To the Hindu Brother it points to Krishna, who
came and rode in the same chariot with Arjuna, and bids him look to a similar intimate union. To the Buddhist it
points to the Maitreya of universal compassion, and bids him reflect upon him till he become drawn beneath his
bo-tree; and to the Moslem it points to his Prophet, and the significance of being clothed with the latter's
Let the earnest Craftsman, then, seek a Master where and how he will. He cannot — experto crede — fail to
find. Failure to find will be due to his having failed, rightly, and from his heart, to seek.
9. — WAGES
Initiates of the secret science in the past ("our ancient Brethren") are said to have been paid wages. The wages, we
are told, were paid in the porchway of the Temple; and, much or little, they were accepted without demur, because of
the recipients' complete confidence in their employers and the recognition that only so much would be received as
their work was actually worth. The Masonic tradition asserts that the wages were not paid in cash — cash was of no
use to those who had already learned to do without money and metals — but in corn, wine, and oil. (Note the
three-fold form of the wages).
Wages of the same kind are still paid to real Craftsmen in the same place, and in the same mode.
The porchway of the Temple figures the outer natural life which forms a portal to an inner supernatural life at the
central sanctuary which we have not yet consciously reached, but to which we labour to ascend by an in-winding
stairway, gradually rebuilding body and mind on the way with a view to acquiring a new reconstituted organism
appropriate and adapted to that sublime degree of life.
Such a new body and mind require sustenance to build them, and the food we consume becomes built into our organism.
What we eat, we become. Corn goes to body-building, the fashioning of substantiality and structural form. Wine goes
to the vitalising and stimulating of the mind, strengthening the intellect, deepening the inner vision. Oil is a
lubricant for the system, enabling its parts to run smoothly and without friction.
In their higher symbolism Corn (or Bread) and Wine relate to those of the Altar, and were Eucharistic elements in the
Mysteries long before the Christian Master in a certain "upper room" (or higher level of application) took over and
gave a new application to the wheat of Ceres and the wine of Bacchus-Dionysos; while Oil, the crushed out and
refined product of the olive, refers to that Wisdom which is the ultimate essence of experience and knowledge, and
which has been associated, in the different Mystery teachings, with Minerva, with Solomon, and with the Mount of
The spiritual Craftsman not only earns his own wages proportionately to his work; his own labours automatically
supply them. God, as his employer, has already lodged them within him in advance; he has only to appropriate them as
he becomes justly entitled to them by his own labours, as the sons of Jacob found their money restored to them in
The Mason is himself likened to an ear of corn, nourished by a fall of the Water of Life. In virtue of the animal
element in his nature he is himself "the ox that treadeth out the corn," separating his own golden grain from the
stalk that bore it. He is himself the "threshing floor of Araunah," winnowing his own chaff from his own wheat. He
treads his own wine-press alone; in singleness of effort and in the solitude of his own thought distilling his own
vintage, until the cup of his mind runs over with the wine of a new order of intelligence. He is his own oil-press,
and out of his own experience and self-realisation extracts wisdom — that oil which anoints him with a joy and an
ability above his fellows, and that runs down to the "skirts of his clothing," manifesting itself in his personality
and in all his activities.
Corn, wine, and oil, are therefore laid upon the altar at the consecration of every Masonic Lodge; they are the
emblems of a Craftsman's wages. Upon the collar of Grand Lodge Officers are displayed ears of wheat and sprays of
olive, the symbolic indication that those who arrive at the summit of their profession possess that which they
exhibit, and are able to minister bread and wine and oil to those below them in the Order.
There are less agreeable forms of wages, however, but such as also are to be received without scruple or mistrust,
for they are both disciplinary and signs of progress. A man cannot set up to re-form his old nature and readjust his
interior constitution without feeling it, or without unsettling the fabric of his emotional and mental sheaths.
Accordingly, it is a common experience with those who take themselves seriously in hand in the task of
self-rebuilding that unexpected obstacles suddenly arise; the wages that come to them are those of adversity in
temporal affairs, sickness, the turning away of former friends, and the like. There is good reason for this. Within
ourselves are sown the seeds of all our past activities and emotional tendencies, good or evil. Within ourselves are
stored all our old mind-forms and fabrications of base metal. To try to disturb the former or to divest ourselves of
the latter, promotes immediate reaction from them.
He who deliberately invokes the Light upon himself, as the earnest Masonic aspirant does, ipso facto utters,
corresponding intensity, a challenge to his own bad past, his own unreal self. And if his invocation be effective,
the Light streaming into him from his own dormer-window, whilst giving him illumination, will also play upon and
stimulate in him all that is undesirable, as sunlight stirs to activity the unpleasant insects dwelling in darkness
beneath a stone that is suddenly removed from an old position. Light impartially affects both the good and evil in
oneself, as the sunshine causes a rose to bloom, and a lump of carrion by its side to putrefy. It induces new growth
in a spiritual sense, but it also, and at the same time, accelerates the germination of seeds implanted in us,
which, but for it, would continue to lie dormant and unmatured until a more favourable time. Under the discipline of
Initiation the seeds or compressed results of one's own past, the potential reactions from one's own former actions
and inaction, all that goes to make up a man's fate and that, if unchecked, will shape his future destiny, are
brought to a sudden head and crisis; the normal slower development they would have undergone, if not so interfered
with, becomes interrupted, expedited. It is often as though vials of undeserved wrath break upon the devoted head of
him who at last has struck the road to salvation, and is resolved at all costs to follow it. And yet these are the
wages he receives for his laudable enterprise! Lacking self-knowledge as yet, ignorant of what is latent in him,
not realising that the path of Initiation is one of intensive culture and accelerated evolution, he may become
dismayed from further pursuing his quest, unless he be made aware that these wages are actually due to him, that
they represent his past earnings, that he is justly entitled to them, and that the sooner the debit and credit sides
of his own self-written judgment-ledger are balanced, the freer will he be to proceed with his newly undertaken
"The wages of sin are death" — death in the sense of being spiritually unconscious, however vigorously alive in other
ways. "Sin" in all or any of its forms is, in its final analysis, disharmony induced by the assertion of the unreal
personal self in unalignment with the impersonal Universal Self the Holy Spirit. But the Path of Initiation involves
the obliteration of all sense of the personal self. The just and perfect man and Mason is therefore one who is
utterly selfless; being selfless he is sinless; and being sinless he stands in, consciously shares, and becomes the
instrument of, the divine Kingdom, Power and Glory.
1O. — THE LAW OF THE MOUNT
In Masonry, as in the Scriptures and every other ancient expression of mystical teaching, there is frequent allusion
to mountains and hills, and to the work of Lodges and Chapters being conducted upon them.
Let it be understood at once that in no case is the allusion to any physical mountain or geographical position, but
to the spiritual elevation of the work undertaken by some particular group or school of Initiates. Spiritual science
has nothing to do with material things or places, save in so far as the latter serve as a foundation-stone or point
of departure for achieving spiritual results.
From immemorial time the Vedists of India have spoken of their sacred Mount Meru, which, later in history, becomes
reproduced among the Hebrews as Mount Moriah. The Greeks had their Mounts Olympus and Parnassus, on the summits of
which dwelt the Gods. The Israelites obtained their law from Divine hands on Mount Sinai; the Christians theirs from
the Mount of Olives. The woodwork for Solomon's Temple came from the Mountains of Lebanon. The Gospels tell of the
"exceeding high mountain" of Temptation and of the Mount of Transfiguration. Prometheus was immolated upon a
mountain of the Caucasus (or Ko-Kajon, i.e., "ethereal space"), and Christ upon the Hill Calvary. Mediaeval
Christian mystical tradition tells of the hidden sanctuary of the mysteries and the holy Grail built upon Mont
Salvatch (the mount of safety or salvation) in the Pyrenees (which is another form of “Parnassus.”)
None of these mountains are situate in this world, in time or place. The names are mystical names associated with
super-physical heights to which man in his spiritual consciousness may ascend. Mountains bearing those names, or
some of them, do exist on the map, but their names and the ideas they connote existed long before they were given a
local association for symbolic purposes. There is scarcely a country without its sacred mountain that reminds its
inhabitants of the heavenly heights and to which sacred traditions are not attached. The snow-clad Himalayas have
always typified the eternal heavens to the East; Fujiyama is the sacred mountain of Japan, as Snowdon is of Britain;
and if such places have been, as indeed they have, the scenes of religious practices, their sanctity derives less
from what has occurred there than from the ideas that resulted in those practices. The names of these sacred
mountains are drawn almost always from ideas representative of the religion of the district and constitute a sort of
spiritual geography which nations of great spiritual genius, such as the Indians, the Greeks, and the Hebrews, have
been faithful in preserving. Subsequently the materialising tendencies of the human mind literalise and localise
what originally existed as a purely spiritual idea.
When Initiates of the past are said to have held Lodges and performed their work upon this or that hill or mountain,
the meaning is that they were engaged in work of a high spiritual order and efficacy — work entirely beyond the
conception of the average modern and merely ceremonial Mason. The actual place at which they met for such work may
or may not have been upon a physical eminence. Often it was not, as abundant evidence might be brought to show. The
entirely super-physical nature of their work may be deduced from an old Scottish Degree of advanced Masonry, which
speaks, with a dry humour that to the inexpert eye will seem grotesque and irreverent, of their Lodge having
originally been held upon a hill in the North of Scotland, a place "where a cock never crowed, a lion never roared,
and a woman never tattled."
Now in traditional esoteric terminology, as also in the Bible, the "North" signifies that which is spiritual and ever
unmanifested, as the other three cardinal points of space indicate varying degrees of spiritual manifestation. The
allusion to cock-crow is to the guilty conscience of Peter, which could only exist in the world of time and in one
who is spiritually imperfect. The allusion to the lion is to the Evil One "going about as a roaring lion" in the
lower world, but unable to enter the Paradisal world; whilst the third reference is to the contemplative silence of
the soul (the "woman") upon that high plane of life of which the Psalmist says that "there is neither speech nor
language but their voices are heard among them." In the Odyssey, Homer testifies to the same truth when Ulysses is
told in regard to certain mysteries, "Be silent; repress your intellect, and do not speak; such is the method of the
Gods upon Olympus."
It must be left to the reader's own research and reflection to deduce the nature of the spiritual work undertaken by
real Initiates; he will discover that it is work that is not performed in the physical body or with that body's
faculties, but upon the ethereal planes and with a higher order of faculty than the average man of to-day has
learned to cultivate. For a striking instance of the kind of work implied, reference can be made to the narrative
contained in the 19th and 24th chapters of Exodus, describing a Lodge of the elders or Adept-initiates of Israel
upon "Mount Sinai"; though for the instructed reader many other passages of like information are to be found in both
sections of the Sacred Law, as also elsewhere.
To pass to a less abstruse and more elementary point, those who seek to become real Initiates and aspire to the work
upon the mountain-tops that is feasible only to such, must first conform themselves to the Law of the Mount. That
law may be so called because it involves a loftier teaching and a totally different order of conduct from those to
which the uninitiated popular world conforms. We have a reference to this in the direction that a Mason's conduct
ought to be such as will "distinguish and set him above the ranks of other men," and not merely leave him at their
level. Hence the instruction given by the Great Master to his initiate. disciples, which is called the "Sermon on
the Mount," and is popularly supposed to have been delivered upon a hill-side. There exist, however, many great
pieces of Initiation-teaching going by that name, notably the great and eloquent discourses known as The Divine
Poemander of Hermes; and all of them are called "sermons on the mount," not because of having necessarily
delivered upon any actual mountain, but because they relate to spiritualities and to the loftier plane of thought
and action upon which every Initiate must live. The "Mount" is that of Initiation, where alone, in the silence of
the senses, the spirit of man can learn the things of the spirit.
That the standard of thought and conduct for Initiates is always beyond the capacity of the popular world is
evidenced by the fact that society, however advanced in civilisation, find itself quite unable to act up to it. Even
the Churches find the Sermon on the Mount impracticable doctrine for general social observance. It is regarded as a
counsel of perfection, and eminent clerics are found declaring that it was never meant to apply to the unforeseen,
complex social conditions of to-day, and declare that, whilst sound as a theoretic ideal, it must be compromised
with in practice. From their low level of outlook they are right. The popular world is truly quite unable to act up
to the terms of the Law of the Mount.
But it is overlooked that that high doctrine was not meant for the popular world nor addressed to it. It was
delivered to, and intended for, those few who have outgrown and renounced the ideals of the outer world and who seek
initiation into a new and higher order of life which contradicts the wisdom of that world at every point.
But the real Initiate must observe it at all cost and conflict to himself and is told that unless his righteousness
exceeds that of popular orthodoxy and convention, he cannot hope to realise the goal at which he aims. The whole
life of the real Initiate, and of those aiming to become such, will be at cross purposes with the standards and
methods of the rest of the world, which will be as it were in conspiracy against him for not conforming to its ways
; and, as with Hiram Abiff, at every attempt to leave the gates of his temple and come into contact with the outer
world, he will find himself opposed by persecuting "ruffians," by objections to his refusal to fall in with popular
conventions, and by demands to know the secrets of his superiority to them. Hence one of the reasons for the silence
and obscurity of real Initiates, as also for Masonic secrecy, is self-protection, which the Christian Master gave as
a justification for not casting pearls before those incapable of appreciating them — "lest they turn and rend
The way of the natural uninitiated man is that of self-assertion and material acquisitiveness; he is bent upon
securing all he can get from this world; and wisdom, knowledge, and power, are what seem to be such in his own eyes.
He is not wrong or blameworthy; he is simply fulfilling the law of his present nature, which is the only law he as
yet knows; he is merely ignorant and self-blinded to any higher nature and law. The initiated man is one to whom a
higher nature and law have become revealed, and who, conscious of their compulsion upon himself, has abjured all the
ideals of his less advanced fellows. He lives upon the Mount and fulfils the law of the Mount; and therefore, to him
come wisdom, grace and power transcending anything his uninitiated fellowmen can as yet conceive. Initiates were
termed by the Great Master the "salt of the earth," for, without their leavening presence in it, the world would
descend to greater corruption than it at present suffers. "Ten just men (i.e., Initiates) shall save the city," as
was said of those "cities of the plain" which are a figure of civilisation at large.
It is not, however, for his personal aggrandisement or salvation that a man seeks, or should seek, Initiation into
the higher order of life, or should aspire for the wisdom and power that therewith come. To do so from this motive
would be merely to imitate the ways of the outer world, apart from the fact that it would neutralise the whole
purpose of Initiation. His real purpose is to help on the world's advancement, to become one of its saviours, at the
sacrifice of himself. For the real Initiate is self-less; he has abandoned all personal claims and the "rights" to
which lesser men claim to be entitled; and, having crucified his own personality, is able to look upon human life
impersonally and to offer himself as an instrument for its redemption. When wisdom and power come to him, they are
not for his own use but the help of the whole race; he is a Master among men, because he is a universal servant; he
is the most effective spokesman in the world, because of his utter silence.
Masonic secrecy and silence are inculcated for this very reason; for all spiritual power is generated in silence. in
silence the aspirant must concentrate his own energies and climb from his own earth into his own heavens, rendering
to the Caesar of the outer world the things that are his, but in other respects fulfilling the law of the Mount in a
way that will "distinguish and set him above the ranks of other men" who are not yet ready or prepared to follow
him. If the Masonic Brotherhood has not yet risen to full appreciation of the meaning of its own system, it
nevertheless stands provided with all the information needful to lead it to Initiation in the high sense indicated
throughout these pages, to which each of its members may aspire if he follow the Ancient Sage in Tennyson's poem
Leave the hot swamp of voluptuousness,
A cloud between the Nameless and thyself;
And lay thine uphill shoulder to the wheel
And climb the Mount of Blessing; whence, if thou
Look higher, then perchance thou mays't—beyond
A hundred ever-rising mountain-lines,
And past the range of Night and Shadow—see
The high-heaven dawn of more than mortal day
Strike on the Mount of Vision!
11 – FROM LABOUR TO REFRESHMENT.
The Masonic reader who recognises that every reference in Speculative Masonry is figurative and carries a symbolic
significance behind the literal sense of the words, will at once dismiss from his mind any suggestion that the
formula of adjourning the Lodge from labour to refreshment, and of recalling it from refreshment to labour, relates
to the customary practice of passing from the formal work of the Lodge to the informalities of the dining-table.
The familiar formula of dismissing the Lodge after seeing that every Brother has received his due, no doubt came over
into the present system from Operative usage when Guild-masons periodically received their material wages. But it
has now become the Ite, Missa est! of spiritual Masonry, and carries a sacramental meaning. We have to consider what
labour, refreshment, and dues, are in their higher and concealed sense.
First as to Labour. The allusion is less to the temporary ceremonial work of the Lodge than to the work the earnest
Light-seeker is continually to be engaged upon in his task of self-perfecting. Let it be realised that this is
labour indeed, to be undertaken with earnestness and vigour, "Hic labor; hoc opus est," wrote Virgil of it.
Gods sell their arts only to those who sweat for them" runs another ancient adage of the science. Purification of
the bodily senses and reformation of personal defects are but part, the simpler and grosser part, of the work; the
redirection of one's mind and will to the ideal involved, the requisite research and study conducing to that end,
and the necessary control and concentration of thought and desire upon the end in view, are not child's-play nor
matters of casual, superficial interest.
Intellectual and spiritual labour necessitate rest and refreshment, equally with physical, that the harvest that
labour may be assimilated. Wise activity (Boaz) must be balanced with an equally wise passivity (Jachin) if one is
to become established in immortal strength and to stand firm, spiritually consolidated and perfect in all one's
parts. Nor is it a work to be hurried; those build most surely who build slowly. Festina lente!— hasten
an old maxim of the work addressed to those who would "lay great bases for eternity." "Ne quid nimis!" is
"let nothing be done in excess."
Now it is not easy to combine work of this nature with that which the exigencies of one's normal duties and
responsibilities entail. But to those who are in earnest, the co-adaptation and harmonising of all one's duties will
form part of the work itself; one's present position and avocation will be discerned to be precisely those suited to
making advancement, and to provide opportunities for doing so. Doubtless difficulty and opposition will be
encountered in abundance; but these again are parts of the process and tests of fidelity. No growth is possible
without resistance to draw out latent power. The aspirant must steadily and conscientiously persevere along the path
to what he seeks, just as each candidate engages himself to do so in respect of its ceremonial portrayal; and every
Brother may be assured of receiving his exact dues for the labour he expends.
"There is a time to work and a time to sleep." Respite from labour is as contributive an element to progress as
labour itself, for the mind must digest, and the whole nature assimilate, what it absorbs. More may be learned from
the Teacher in the heart than from what is gathered by the head, when that Teacher — the principle at the Centre —
is once awakened. Meditation and reflection are of greater instructiveness than book-reading and information
acquired from without oneself.
Thinks't thou among the mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
That we must still be seeking?
For the care and nourishment of the outer body, Nature provides a passive, sympathetic system, which arranges
digestion, distributes energy, builds up the body, and discharges its functions for us without interference with our
formal consciousness. In like manner, in our higher being resides a corresponding principle which winnows out
thought, clarifies and arranges ideas, and settles problems and difficulties for us, in entire independence of our
formal awareness. It is this higher principle that must be found, trusted and relied upon to participate in the work
of interior up-building. The old writers call it the Archaeus, or the hidden Mercury, which ingarners and utilises
the fruit of our conscious efforts, building them up into a "super-structure" or subtle-body. As ages have gone to
the organisation of the physical body, so also long periods are requisite for that of the super-physical structure,
the building of which is true Masonry; but the process can be expedited by those who possess the science of it, as
Masons are presumed to do. The process itself is the real Masonic "labour”; and, as we have shown, it has its active
and its passive aspects.
This is a difficult subject to treat of briefly. Its nature is merely indicated here, and its fuller study must be
left to individual research and, where possible, to personal intuition; for this work is precisely that about which
a Master-Mason is presumed to be able to give private instruction to Brethren in the inferior degrees.
Let the reader reflect that Masonic "labour" involves the making of his being whole and perfect; that it is intended
to "render the circle of it complete." His complete being is likened, in geometrical terms, to a circle — the symbol
of wholeness, entirety, self-containedness. But let him remember that as he knows himself at present, he is not a
circle, but a square, which is but the fourth part of a circle. Where are the other three-fourths of himself? - for
until he knows these as well as the fourth part which he does know, he can never make the circle of his being
complete, nor truly know himself.
This is the point at which Masonry becomes mystical Geometry — the important science of which Plato affirmed that no
one should enter the Academy where true philosophy and ontology were to be learned, until he already was well versed
in that science. For in former times these deeper problems of being were the subject of geometrical expression, and
echoes of the science remain to us in our references to squares, triangles and circles, and particularly in the 47th
problem of the first book of Euclid, which is now the distinctive emblem of those who have won to Mastership. How
many of those who now wear that emblem, one wonders, have any conception of its significance? It is a mathematical
symbol representing, for those who can read it, the highest measure of human attainment in the science of
reconstructing the human soul into the Divine image from which it has fallen away. No wonder the great Initiate who
composed this symbol was raised to an ecstasy of joy on realising in his own being all that it implies, depicts, and
demonstrates, and that upon that fortunate occasion he "sacrificed a hecatomb of oxen" — an expression the meaning
of which, like the symbol itself, must be left to the reader's reflection, for these matters cannot be summarily or
superficially explained. Pythagoras himself is said to have refused to explain them to his own pupils until they had
undergone five years' silence and meditation upon them. Those five years represent the period that is still
theoretically allotted to the work of the Fellow-Craft Degree, in regard to which the modern Mason is instructed to
devote himself to reflecting upon the secrets of nature (i.e. his own nature) and the principles of intellectual
truth, until they gradually disclose themselves to his view and reveal his own affiliation to the Deity. In
declining to explain these geometrical truths to students until they had familiarised themselves with them for five
years, the meaning of the great teacher of Crotona was that, by that time, the earnest disciple would have discerned
their import, and gone far to realise it, for himself.
Labour, understood in the sense here defined, and Refreshment after it, constitute a rhythm of activity and
passivity; a rhythm similar to that which we daily experience in respect of waking and sleeping, working and
resting. To speak of Refreshment, however, in the deeper sense implied in Masonry is even more difficult than to
speak of the philosophic Labour; for it involves a subject to which few devote deep thought — the subjective side of
the soul's life as distinct from the objective side which, for most men, is the only one at present known to them.
In that deeper sense, Refreshment implies what Spenser speaks of in the lines:
Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas,
Ease after war, death after life, doth greatly please.
To the wise, the study of the subjective half of life is as important as that of the objective half, and without it
he cannot make the circle of his self-knowledge complete. Even the observant Masonic student is made aware by the
formula used at Lodge closing, that by some great Warden of life and death each soul is called into this objective
world to labour upon itself, and is in due course summoned from it to rest from its labours and enter into
subjective celestial refreshment, until once again it is recalled to labour. For each the "day," the opportunity for
work at self-perfecting, is duly given; for each the "night" cometh when no man can work at that task; which morning
and evening constitute but one creative day of the soul's life, each portion of that day being a necessary
complement to the other. Perfect man has to unify these opposites in himself; so that for him, as for his Maker, the
darkness and the light become both alike.
The world-old secret teaching upon this subject, common to the whole of the East, to Egypt, the Pythagoreans and
Platonists, and every College of the Mysteries, is to be found summed up as clearly and tersely as one could wish in
the Phaedo of Plato, to which the Masonic seeker is referred as one of the most instructive of treatises upon
deeper side of the science. It testifies to the great rhythm of life and death above spoken of and demonstrates how
that the soul in the course of its career weaves and wears out many bodies and is continually migrating between
objective and subjective conditions, passing from labour to refreshment and back again many times in its great task
of self-fulfilment. And if Plato was, as was once truly said of him, but Moses speaking Attic Greek, we shall not be
surprised at finding the same initiate-teaching disclosed in the words of Moses himself. Does not the familiar Psalm
of Moses declare that man is continually "brought to destruction," that subsequently a voice goes forth saying "Come
again, ye children of men!" and that the subjective spiritual world is his refuge from one objective manifestation
to another? What else than a paraphrase of this great word of comfort is the Masonic pronouncement that, in the
course of its task of self-perfecting, the soul is periodically summoned to alternating periods of labour and
refreshment? It must labour, and it must rest from its labours; its works will follow it, and in the subjective
world every Brother's soul will receive its due for its work in the objective one, until such time as its work is
completed and it is "made a pillar in the House of God and no more goes out" as a journeyman-builder into this
"Did I not agree with thee for a penny” said the Great Master parabolically. Now the round disc of the coin was meant
to be an emblem of that completeness, wholeness, and self-containedness which is denoted by the Circle, and which
every Mason is enjoined to effect in himself. When the Mason has made the circle of his own being complete, he will
not only have earned his penny and received his dues; the circle of his then glorious being will be as the sun
shining in his strength, and he will be able to say with the Initiates of Egypt, as they contemplated the sun
ascending from the desert into the heavens: "I am Ra in his rising!"
12 — THE GRAND LODGE ABOVE
Express reference is made in the Order rituals to the existence of a Grand Lodge Above, having its Grand Master and
Officers. Doubtless the allusion is often regarded as but a pious sentiment expressing the belief that, after their
death, worthy Masons combine to constitute such a Lodge or assembly in the heavens.
With such a belief no one would wish to interfere, but there are good grounds for suggesting that the reference was
intended to carry a quite different meaning. It is meant to testify to the fact, which forms part of the long stream
of esoteric tradition throughout the ages, that a supernal Masonic Assembly not only exists, but that it preceded,
in point of time and constitution, the Masonic Order on earth. Had it not so existed and preceded the terrestrial
Order, that Order itself would not have existed; for the hypothesis is that the latter is the shadow and projection
upon the physical world of a corresponding hierarchical Order in the super-physical. In other words, the Masonic
Order on earth is the reflex and effect, not the generating cause, of the Grand Lodge Above. The latter is not
necessarily recruited from the former, since death of the body does not constitute per se a title to admission to
the Grand Lodge Above, which, according to the tradition, possesses its own qualifications and passports for
admission; but neither, according to the same tradition, does life in the earthly body preclude the duly qualified
Mason from reception into, and conscious co-operation with, the Supernal Lodge, while he is still in the flesh
A certain resemblance will be noticed between this doctrine and the corresponding theological one of the
complementary relations between the Church Militant on earth and the Church Triumphant in the heavens, the doctrine
of the Communion possible between all Saints upon whichever side of the veil. Neither in the case of the Church nor
of Masonry does the claim imply, what is obviously not the fact, that every member of either community has actual
knowledge or first-hand experience of the truth of this doctrine. But it does imply that there have been, and still
are, members possessing it.
Farther on in these pages more will be said of the Grand Lodge Above, and in a way, which perhaps will suggest to the
reflective reader a fuller idea than one can convey upon such a subject than by expository methods. It is a theme
deserving of larger consideration than the Craft accords it, and one about which no little literary evidence is
available for those with sufficient interest to look for it. One such important piece of evidence shall be mentioned
It consists of a remarkable series of communications of the highest spiritual value and instructiveness to every
Brother seeking to realise the spiritual essence of the Masonic system, issued by a saintly man and advanced
initiate, Karl von Eckartshausen, to a group of pupils in the secret science in Germany, at roughly about the same
period as that in which the English Masonic Order was becoming established. [Eckartshausen's letters, with a
valuable introductory essay by Bro. A. E. Waite, are contained in "The Cloud upon the Sanctuary" (W. Rider & Sons
Ltd.), a work of the greatest value to Masonic students.] The synchronism is not without significance and, in
conjunction with other evidences (which exigencies of space prevent being now adduced) of spiritual activity at work
at that time behind the events of public history, points to efforts to put forward a great movement for human
enlightenment; a movement conceived from behind the veil by the Grand Lodge Above, and projected into the world
through some of its members in the flesh.
The communications or letters deal with the subject of the need for human regeneration and the rationale of
Initiation. In the first of them, the author asserts that "the great and true work of building the Temple consists
solely in destroying this miserable Adamic hut and in erecting in its place a divine temple; this means, in other
words, to develop in us the interior sensorium or the organ to receive God. After this process, the metaphysical and
incorruptible principle rules over the terrestrial, and man begins to live, not any longer in the principle of
self-love, but in the spirit and in the truth, of which he is the Temple. The most exalted aim of religion is the
intimate union of man with God; this union is possible here below, but it can only take place by the opening of our
inner sensorium, state that "a more advanced school has always existed to which the deposition of all spiritual
science has been confided, which has continued from the first day of creation to the present time. Its members are
scattered all over the world, but they have always been united by one spirit and one truth. They have had but one
science, a single source of truth, one Lord, one Doctor, one Master, in whom resides substantially the whole Divine
plentitude, who also alone initiates them into the high mysteries of Nature and the Spiritual World."
In the second letter it is explained (I compress the substance) that: "This community possesses a school in which all
who thirst for knowledge are instructed by the Spirit of Wisdom itself, and all the mysteries of God and of Nature
are preserved therein for the children of light. It is thence that all truths penetrate into the world. It is the
most hidden of communities; it possesses members gathered from many Orders. From all time there has been an exterior
school based on this interior one, of which it is but the outer expression. The community has been engaged from the
earliest ages in building the grand Temple for the regeneration of humanity, by which the kingdom of God will become
manifest. It consists in the communion of those who have most capacity for light. It has three Degrees, and these
are conferred on suitable candidates still in the flesh. The first is inspirationally imparted. The second opens up
the human rational intellectuality and understanding, and ensures interior illumination. The third and highest is
the entire opening of the inner sensorium, by which the inner man attains objective vision of real and metaphysical
The instruction goes on to explain that this Society does not resemble temporal organisations that meet at certain
times and elect their own officers. It knows none of these formalities but proceeds in other ways. The Divine Power
is always present. The Master of it himself docs not invariably know all the members, but the moment a member's
presence or services are needed he can be found. If a member is called to office, he presents himself among the
others without presumption, and is received by them without jealousy. If it be necessary that members should meet,
they find and recognise each other with perfect certainty. No disguise, hypocrisy, or dissimulation can hide their
true characteristics. No one member can choose another; unanimous choice is required. All men are called to join
this hidden community; the called may be chosen, if they become ripe for entrance. Anyone can look for entrance; any
man who is within can teach another to seek it, but only he who is ripe can arrive inside. Worldly intelligence
seeks this Sanctuary in vain; all is undecipherable to the unprepared; he can see nothing, read nothing, in its
interior. He who is ripe is joined to the chain, perhaps often where he thought least likely, and at a point of
which he knew nothing himself. Seeking to become ripe should be the effort of him who wisdom. But there are methods
by which ripeness, is attained, for in this holy communion is the primitive storehouse of the most ancient and
original science of the human race, with the primitive mysteries also of all science. It is the unique and
illuminated Community which possesses the key to all mystery, which knows the centre and source of nature and
creation. It unites superior power to its own and includes members from more than one world. It is the Society whose
members form a theocratic republic, which one day will be the Regent Mother of the whole world.
But with an earnest counsel to accept its accuracy and to seek confirmation of it in the only way in which such
confirmation is possible, it must be left to the deep and protracted reflection of those to whom the idea of the
existence of a Grand Lodge in the heavens, watching over the Masonic Israel on earth and superintending its
development, is at least a matter of probability and a subject for faith. They will at least perceive in the
description of it given above, that the Masonic Order faithfully reproduces, in point of form and hierarchical
progression, its alleged supernal prototype; and if they recognise that invisible things are in some measure
knowable by perceiving things that are made, the contemplation of their own three-graded Order, with its ascending
sequence of Grand Lodges of districts, provinces, and finally of the nation, will perhaps help them on to the
conception of an unseen Grander Lodge beyond all these, — one to membership of which any duly qualified Brother may
hope to be called to take progressive Initiations—no longer ceremonial and symbolic, but as facts of spiritual
experience — at the hands of the Universal Master and Initiator, whose officers are still Brethren of our own,
though risen to the stature of holy angels.