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
FULNESS OF LIGHT
1.- OBSERVATIONS AND EXAMPLES
"The light of the body is the eye. When thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light. Take heed,
therefore, that the light in thee be not darkness." (Luke xi., 34-5).
Now will I open unto thee—whose heart
Rejects not—that last lore, deepest concealed,
That farthest secret of My heavens, and earths,
Which but to know Shall get thee free from ills;
A royal lore, a kingly mystery;
Yea, for the soul such light as purgeth it
From every sin; a light of holiness
With inmost splendour shining.
(The Song Celestial, ix.).
We have shown that Initiation, in its real and not merely ceremonial sense, effects in him who undergoes it a
permanent enlargement of consciousness to a level and of a quality never previously known to him. The expansion may
be small or great; indeed, the Science contemplates successive degrees of Initiation and ever widening expansions to
which no limit can be set.
The reader will ask himself, "What are the nature and characteristics of this new order of consciousness when
attained? How will it differ from my present normal consciousness?" To answering this question the present paper is
devoted, and it shall be dealt with first in some general observations, and subsequently in a more illustrative
Even normally, and without deliberately sought Initiation, human consciousness becomes enlarged as the result merely
of progressive life-experience.
For what is life itself but a slow, gradual Initiation process, with the world as a Temple in which it is conferred?
The consciousness and resultant sagacity of experienced age exceed those of raw youth, even if the change be of an
intellectual rather than of a spiritual kind and involve merely increased savoir faire and mundane wiliness rather
than growth in unworldly wisdom. Still, enlargement has occurred, and it adumbrates what is possible with the
spiritual consciousness when it becomes awakened.
Nature, indeed, exhibits nothing but consciousness in process of expansion through her fourfold series of kingdoms
from the mineral upwards. The outward forms of life, even of the mineral, are but the objective bodies of a
subjective life-activity resident in that body. The Earth-planet itself, as also each of the stellar bodies, is, the
Ancients rightly taught, not dead matter, but a Zoon, a living Animal, conscious as a whole, conscious
differingly) in each of its parts however materialised or tenuous and girdled round with a Zodiac of other
interacting "living creatures," the separate consciousnesses of all the parts of the complex mechanism blending in
the synthetic Omniscience, God.
Life is fundamentally one, a unity, though distributed into many separated lives and divided into separate
self-contained kingdoms, as compartments of a ship are divided by decks and bulkheads. It is "an ever-rolling
stream," a stream that pours through those kingdoms in a continuous flow which is never more than momentarily
checked by the forms (or bodies) it flows through, which are as it were but little eddies and vortices in the
stream; and these forms, from the lowest to the most highly evolved, are devised and adjusted to raising
consciousness to progressively higher levels. Nature, in a word, is a system of restricted consciousness in
perishable bodies, leading up to unrestricted consciousness in an ultra-natural immortal body.
Each successive kingdom of Nature assumes into itself the sublimated characteristics of the one below it but becomes
endued with an additional principle and takes on a new and appropriate bodily form. Thus, as the scale is ascended,
the sensitive, the emotional, the intellectual, and the spiritual principles are successively added and built into
the evolving structure. When the Life-essence specialised in the mineral passes on into the vegetable kingdom, it,
as it were, takes a degree of Initiation; a fresh start is made, a new form or body is given to it as "a mark of its
progress." It takes similar and higher grades of initiation, and acquires appropriate new bodies, as it passes on to
the animal and thence to the human kingdoms. [It is not here implied that mineral forms directly evolve into
vegetable, thence to animal and so on, at some point which the biologist has sought for but failed to trace. This is
not the case. The kingdoms of Nature are closed compartments without intercommunicating doors on the phenomenal
plane, and do not there change into one another. The transition takes place on a super-physical noumenal plane,
beyond the range of now current science.] Man, as at his present evolutional stage, is, in his lower nature, but a
summary and synthesis of the three sub-human kingdoms ; his embryo recapitulates, and his physique incorporates, the
kingdoms he has traversed in the long ascent; but superimposed and dovetailed into it is now an additional, a
spiritual divine principle, distinguishing and setting him above the lower kingdoms. To them he stands as a god; a
high initiate, conscious in a way inconceivable to them. Similarly, a plant is a god, an initiate, relatively to the
soil it grows in; and an animal a god to the plant.
Yet in virtue of the new spiritual principle grafted upon his highly evolved bodily structure, man is capable of
rising to still loftier conscious levels; he awaits still further initiation. Before him lies the prospect of
outgrowing the kingdom of merely animal man and of entering the higher one of spiritual Man. Four kingdoms —
mineral, vegetable, animal human — he has known and built into his organism. He has now to rise to a fifth kingdom,
that of Spirit, of which already he is a member potentially, but without having yet developed and realised his
The secret Science therefore shows him a five-pointed Star as an emblem of himself and invests him with the
five-pointed Apron as a symbol in which he may visualise himself, read his own past, and deduce his present
The important fact must be emphasised that, on each transition from a lower to a higher kingdom, on each initiation
into a new order of life, a death to, a complete break-away from and abandonment of, the old form and method of
life, is involved. Natural man must, therefore, die to himself, must abnegate and put off his old nature, before he
can hope to pass into the fifth kingdom as spiritual Man. This death, we have shown, is signified by the Masonic
Third Degree, which ceremonially dramatizes what the individual must pass through before attaining an order of life
and consciousness he has never before experienced or been able to experience. The death in question is not a
physical death; the physical organism is still retained by its former wearer. has merely effaced and died to his old
self and its natural tendencies, and suffered them to become superseded by a new self, functioning not from his
former constricted mind, but from a new centre of illimitable conscious capacity; a capacity not displaced by the
resumed use of his physical body for the residue of its natural duration, but one that enables him thenceforward to
use that body as a much more effective instrument for furthering the cosmic purpose.
How is that newly-won consciousness to be described? It is, of course, indescribable. As sight is indescribable to
the man born blind, as consciousness in this world would be unexplainable to the unborn babe, so that of the
Initiate is incapable of description to those as yet unborn in the kingdom of Spirit. To be known it must be
experienced. It belongs to the Greater Mysteries which always remain ineffable and incommunicable, whatever
instruction may be imparted about the Lesser ones. Yet something may be said about it to help the imagination.
In my former volume it was explained that the moment of restoration to light in the Third Degree, and also the
corresponding moment in the Royal Arch Degree, are both of them attempts — the former a simple, the latter a more
elaborate one— to dramatize the enlarged conscious state into which the candidate passes in actual Initiation. A
very fine and wonderful literary description of expanded consciousness effected by Initiation is to be found in the
eleventh section of the great Indian manual of initiation-science, the Bhagavad Gita (most accessible to
readers in Sir Edwin Arnold's fine poetic translation, The Song Celestial). Dante's vision in the Paradiso is
example, as also that recorded in the biblical book of Revelation by the seer who was "in the spirit in the Lord's
day." Keats imagined it accurately when, in Hyperion, he wrote of it:—
Knowledge enormous makes a god of me.
Names, deeds, grey legends, dire events, rebellions,
Majesties, sovran voices, agonies,
Creations and destroyings, — all, at once,
Pour into the wide hollows of my brain
And deify me; as if some blithe wine,
A bright elixir peerless, I had drunk
And so become immortal.
A large collection of evidence and records of personal experiences has been brought together in recent years
testifying to the fact of such conscious expansions. One such compilation is that entitled Cosmic Consciousness, by
Dr. R. M. Bucke, a member of the Craft in America and an exponent of the mystical nature of Masonry. The subject has
even been investigated experimentally by the late eminent psychologist Professor William James and others, and
although such artificially induced heightenings of consciousness are strongly to be dissuaded from as perilous to
those who undertake them—and Professor James confessed that to himself it brought with it a painful reaction and
penalty — he has left an able, vivid description of what is known as "the Anaesthetic Revelation" which may be
quoted; it could not better have expressed the truth had it been written by one who had attained Initiation
legitimately and in the natural development of the life of sanctity and contemplation, instead of by one who was
intoxicating himself with nitrous oxide gas. He writes:—
"In this intense metaphysical illumination, Truth lies open to the view in depth beneath depth of almost blinding
evidence. The mind sees all the logical relations of being with an apparent subtlety and instantaneity to which its
normal consciousness offers no parallel. The centre and periphery of things seem to come together. The Ego and its
objects, the meum and the tuum, are one. Its first result was to make peal through me with unutterable
conviction that the deepest convictions of my intellect hitherto were wrong. Whatever idea or representation
occurred to the mind was seized by the same logical forceps and served to illustrate the same truth; and that truth
was that every opposition, among whatsoever things, vanishes in a higher unity in which it is based; that all
contradictions, so called, are but differences; that all differences are of degree; that all degrees are of a
common kind; that unbroken continuity is the essence of being; and that we are literally in the midst of an
Infinite. It is impossible to convey an idea of the torrential character of the identification of opposites as it
streams through the mind in this experience." (The Will to Believe, by W. James, p. 294).
With this statement let us compare one by a real Initiate describing the opening up of the Light at his centre:—
"My whole spirit seemed to break through the gates of hell and be taken up into the arms and heart of God. I can
compare it to nothing but the resurrection at the last day. For then, with all reverence I say it, with the eyes of
my spirit I saw God. I saw both what God is, and how God is what He is. The gate of the Divine Mystery was sometimes
so opened in me that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years at a university. I
saw and knew the Being of all Beings; the Byss and the Abyss; the generation of the Son and the procession of the
Spirit. I saw the descent and original of this world also, and of all its creatures. I saw in their order and
outcome the Divine World, the Angelical World, Paradise, and then this fallen dark world of our own. I saw the
beginning of the good and of the evil, the true origin and existence of each of them. For twelve years this went on
in me. Sometimes the truth would hit me like a sudden smiting storm of rain, and then there would be the clear
sunshine after the rain."
The writer of this statement was the poor, uneducated cobbler, Jacob Boehme, who lived near Dresden, and died, aged
49, in 1624, and who has been described by a disciple and competent judge; [Louis Claude de Saint Martin ("Le
Philosophe Inconnu") himself a Freemason and advanced illuminate.] as "the greatest light that has come into
the world since Him who was Himself the Light of the world." The fuller record of his illuminations and profound
metaphysical insight can be found in his series of lengthy but difficult and obscure works, from the study of which
Sir Isaac Newton, a deep student of them, drew the information from which he became able to formulate the principles
of gravitation and planetary motion, and other laws now known to regulate physical phenomena.
Instances might be multiplied indefinitely of cases in which the inner being of persons ripening for Initiation
expands towards all sides from an infinitely deep central point in themselves, so that they acquire a totally
different outlook upon life, a larger deeper envisaging of the world, than others. Three outstanding features
characterise such cases. First, the fact that objects, whether those of nature or one's fellow beings, cease to be
seen singly, as separate objects and beings, but as partial expressions of a single, sublying, inexpressible unity.
Second, the fact that for such percipients all ordinary values become changed; what the average man supposes
important shrinks to worthlessness, and what he thinks negligible assumes prime importance. Third, the fact that the
five senses, distributed in the ordinary man as distinct, unrelated channels of perception, remain no longer
separate and diffused, but become unified and co-functional in one comprehensive faculty, so that to see is also to
hear; to touch, even with blindfold eyes, is to visualise. As a Brother in the Craft, known to me, writes of his own
experience of this enrichment of consciousness: "You know everything and understand the stars and the hills and the
old songs. They are all within you, and you are all light. But the light is music, and the music is violet wine in a
great cup of gold, and the wine in the golden cup is the scent of a June night."
The brilliant young German, Novalis, an advanced illuminate, though he died at 29 over a century ago, tells of his
Master, Werner (a professor of mineralogy at Freyburg), as one who "was aware of the inter-relation of all things,
of conjunctions, coincidences. He saw nothing singly. The perceptions of his senses thronged together; he heard,
saw, felt, simultaneously. Sometimes the stars became man to him, men as stars; stones as animals, clouds as plants.
He sported with forces and phenomena. He knew where and how to find and bring to light this or that. What came to
him more than this he does not tell us. But he tells us that we ourselves, led on by him and by our own desire, may
discover what happened to him."
"Led on by our own desire." In desire lies the secret of it all! All Initiation presupposes concentration and
intensity of desire for it, and is impossible without that indispensable prerequisite. Desire turned outward,
squandered upon exterior attractions, wastes the soul's forces, distributes its energies through the five channels
of sense. Turned inward, focussed upon interior possibilities, desire ingathers those forces, unifies those senses,
and is the heat which, gathering in intensity, finds its ultimate fruition in a burst of conscious flame. "If thine
eye be single thy whole body is full of light." Here is an example. In a small lone isle of the Hebrides lived a
young fisherman-crofter, one of the few natives of a place necessarily poor and with such scanty social and
educational advantages that a mind of any power and depth is thrown back upon itself; a place where almost the only
book is that of Nature, the only place of worship the Temple of earth and sky and sea. Such conditions, however,
uninviting to most people, are particularly favourable to self-realisation and initiation; since they ensure that
poverty, that simplicity and unsophistication of the mind which are so difficult to acquire in crowded places and
amid the tyrannies, artificialities and strife of current so-called civilisation. So they were to the man in
question. With something of the old primitive passion of Demeter-worship, he loved the island and the sea, his soul
straining continually to know directly and at first hand the Living Beauty which he knew resided beneath its
manifested veil. One golden day, in a moment of concentrated adoring contemplation, he threw himself on the ground,
kissing the hot, sweet heather, plunging his hands and arms in it, sobbing the while with a vague strange yearning,
and lying there nerveless, with closed eyes. His posture at that moment resembled, unwittingly yet surely, that of
one who with blinded eyes and with his hands upon the Sacred Law declares that the supreme Light in the paramount
desire of his heart to be accorded it. And then came the moment when his longing was satisfied, when the veil was
torn from his eyes and he received his initiation into light.
Suddenly — for, whatever its nature to the cold. blooded inquisition of the scientist, thus he translated the
psychopathic experience he then underwent — two little hands rose up through the spires of heather and anointed his
forehead and eyes with something soft and fragrant.
Thereafter he was the same, yet not the game, man; the place he lived in was the old familiar place, yet had become
new, glorified. The Eternal Beauty had entered into him, and nothing that others saw as ugly or dreary was otherwise
than perpetually invested with it. Waste, desolate spots became to him passing fair, radiant with lovely light.
When, later, he went away to great towns and passed among their squalor and sordid hideousness, amid slums, factory
smoke and grime, he saw all that others sec, yet only as vanishing shadows, beneath which everything and everyone
was lovely, beautiful with strange glory, and the faces of men and women sweet and pure, and their souls white.
Such was this man's involuntary Initiation— unsought, or rather not knowingly sought, yet bringing him the fruits of
the travail of his soul and leaving him permanently enlightened and transformed. [The incident is referred to in the
works of the late Fiona Macleod (Wm. Sharp )] He came to be known among those with whom he dwelt as "the Anointed
Man." In their Greek original the words "Christ" and "Christian " bore just that significance — an anointed,
"baptised," or initiated man.
Actual Initiation, then, regarded, as it may be, as a "baptism," is of two classes, a lesser and a greater. The
lesser (scripturally described as the "baptism of water") is one affecting the lower nature, the mind, the
intelligence, the psychic nature and sensibilities. The mentality becomes expanded and illuminated; there is a
quickening and hyperaethesia of the senses, a growth of psychic faculty and perception; for the soul (or psyche) is
now beginning to exercise its hitherto dormant atrophied powers.
The greater form of Initiation, the "baptism of fire," is the awakening of the Spirit, the innermost essence, the
"Vital and Immortal Principle" centrally resident in the soul, as the soul is resident in the sense-body. Numbers of
people attain the lesser baptism in the ordinary development of life and often without awareness of the fact. The
greater baptism is of rarer occurrence, and to experience it is a crisis that cannot be mistaken or pass unnoticed
To attain either form, Initiation of a formal character is not an indispensable requirement, for the growth of the
soul, and Divine dealings with the soul, are not dependent upon human formalities. But formal Initiation has always
been, and is to-day, an opportunity and means of grace for attaining interior advancement which otherwise might not
be secured and, for this reason, the Masonic Initiation, though only a ceremonial one at present, assumes so great
an importance and is capable of being put to uses so much higher and farther-reaching than the Craft has hitherto
dreamed of. Life itself, we repeat, serves for thousands as an initiating-process, Without any supplementary
of people attain in less or greater measure the lesser baptism of water in the expanded consciousness associated
with the poetic, artistic, musical or mystical types;— our Wordsworths, Shelleys, Tennysons and the like, are
natural initiates in whose lives formal initiation has played no part, and numberless unknown people exist about us
who, in silence and obscurity, have developed their deeper nature and could assert of themselves :-
We have built a house that is not for Time's o'er-throwing,
We have gained a peace unshaken by pain for ever.
Many there are who are conscious of the "mystic tie" that binds not merely all men into brotherhood but all the
elements of the Universe into unity; who have lost the sense of separateness and divided interests that
characterises the average sensual man whose consciousness and desires extend no farther than his own carnal
affections; who, still incarcerated in the mortal body can evade its prison-walls and laugh at its iron window-bars,
escaping into the world of soul, exploring its wonders, mingling in conscious communion with other liberated souls,
Spend in pure converse their eternal day,
Think each in each, immediately wise,
Learn all they lacked before; hear, know, and say
What this tumultuous body now denies;
And feel, who have laid their groping hands away;
And see, no longer blinded by their eyes.
But those who know the "baptism of fire," the Initiation of, and into, central Spirit, are few. To help to a
conception of such cases one may refer to recorded instances where, so fully has the Blazing Star at the human
centre opened itself, so habitually has its fire been brought forward into the purified carnal body and its formal
mind, that that Light has become palpably visible, and not merely as a flesh transmuting grace, beautifying and
glorifying the personality, but as a radiant aura issuing from the face and person and throwing off actual
quasi-physical light. The traditional portrayal of saints and angels, surrounded by aureoles, haloes and garments of
flame, testifies to this advanced condition. Of such Initiates as Columba and Ruysbroeck it is credibly recorded
that their persons were seen bathed in self-radiated luminosity that lit up their chambers or the space around them
for a wide radius. If the Central Light can so be objectified, it may be left to the imagination to surmise the
intensity and range of the subjective consciousness experienced by those in whom it so burns. Such cases of "fulness
of light" exemplify what is typified by the completed Temple of Solomon, into which descended the Divine Presence,
flooding the whole house with its glory (2 Chron. vii, 1-3).
And now, leaving these general considerations, let us pass on to an imaginative illustration of the way in which
Light in its fulness may be known and — God willing and helping — induced, by methods of actual, as distinct from
AN ALLEGORY OF INITIATION
"At the time of the end shall be vision." (Dan. viii, 17).
"O truly sacred Mysteries! O pure Light! I am led by the light of the torch to the view of heaven and of God. I am
made whole by Initiation. The Lord Himself is the hierophant who, leading the candidate for initiation to the Light,
sends him and presents him to the Father to be preserved for ever. These are the orgies of my Mysteries. If thou
wilt, come and be thou also initiated, and thou shalt join in the dance with the angels around the uncreated,
imperishable, only true God, the Word of God joining in the strain!"
“Apocalypsis” is a Greek word meaning an unclothing, a tearing away of the veils obstructing our perception of
Absolute Truth. Hence our biblical word "Revelation" or "Apocalypse." The Initiate-Apostle Paul speaks of attaining
the lofty condition of beholding the Divine Glory with unveiled face, reflecting it as a mirror, and becoming
transformed into it in ever increasing measure (2 Cor. iii, 18).
Whoever would thus behold and reflect naked, unveiled, living Truth, must himself stand forth in his own naked
spirit, stripped of all obscuring veils of sense, emotion, desire, thought. He must be, as the biblical Apocalyptist
puts it, "in the spirit, in the Lord's day," — "day" implying consciousness in the spirit (the "lord") as "night"
implies the inevitable benightedness of any lower form of conscious faculty (the "servant").
In the Ancient Mysteries this power of spiritual perception was called Epopteia, and the seers possessing it
termed Epopts. This fulness of light, this direct confrontation of the naked human spirit with the unveiled
universal Holy Spirit, was attained only by high Initiates; it was the ultimate ripened fruit of Initiation. "If
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."
What now follows is a descriptive example of the path leading to that attainment, for I desire to convey to my
Brethren, however feebly, an idea of what real, as distinct from merely ceremonial, Initiation involves and leads
to, and in no other way can I do it.
Greatly daring, therefore, I am venturing to follow — at whatever distance — the example of the Initiate poet,
Virgil, in the sixth Aeneid, where, in veiled terms, is portrayed the quest of the human soul for its
Divine Paternal Principle, as that quest is there shown pursued from this dark earthly cave into the bright Elysian
Fields of the Universal Spirit ; and also the similar, though differently expressed, examples of Initiation and
Epopteia provided for us in the biblical book of Revelation, and by Wolfram von Eschenbach and Richard Wagner
Although written in the first person, I beg that my description will be construed impersonally as regards the writer.
But it is also hoped that the reader will earnestly look forward to some such experience becoming one day true of
himself ; not necessarily in precisely this form, but in its essential characteristics ; for the Spirit bloweth
where and how it listeth, and those who are taught of it may receive their lesson in differing ways, yet with
uniformity of result.
How far that which follows is allegory, how far it is the work of a constructive imagination building upon
pre-acquired knowledge, how far it voices personal intuition and spiritual experience, need not be indicated; it
contains elements of each. All that matters is that it should faithfully illustrate truth; and those who have
followed me so far and found any echoes of verity in earlier pages, will not regard me as wishing at this final
stage to speak to them otherwise than with the tongue of good report and golden truth, and in terms and tones of
uttermost sincerity. Whether what now is written voices truth let him that hath understanding and inward hearing,
hear and judge.
Being of an inquiring disposition, hearing that in the Brotherhood called Masonic there were to be known certain
valuable arcana and secrets of life not learnable elsewhere, and imagining it to be desirable from other motives
which, whilst not mercenary, were perhaps of little better character, I followed a fashion of the time and the
example of some friends, and associated myself with a community from which I looked to become possessed of some
special but undefined wisdom within a brief space of time.
Looking back now across the years, my conduct at that time strikes me as not a little unworthy. I was looking for
something for nothing. I was expecting to acquire valuable knowledge without paying or working for it; to get
without giving. Nor had I considered to what use I should put the acquisition when I had secured it. But I was
young, inexperienced, unreflecting, and knew no better.
My presumption soon received its appropriate penalty, for on being formally and with a most cordial welcome received
into the community and solemnly undertaking to conform to its regulations, I was promptly cornered and humiliated.
Instead of being given what my rashness had expected, I was asked what I was prepared to give for the benefit of any
of the brotherhood who might need it. I felt trapped, but it would have been impolite to say so. It was as obvious
to them as it was painfully conscious to myself that my financial and intellectual poverty was such that I had
nothing whatever to give. I was impelled, however, to mutter the perhaps scarcely sincere reply that had I been a
person of any means I would have gladly contributed accordingly; an answer which, to my surprise, satisfied them,
and they generously proceeded to tell me that, though I could offer them nothing, they would proceed to give me
something, but upon the understanding that if I ever met anyone as poor as myself I must remember the present
occasion, be as good as my word, and treat him liberally. The incident impressed me, and is of importance in view of
later developments; for I am now trying to fulfil that old promise.
In my novel, flurried position, I had but a hazy notion of what then occurred or of what they gave me. I remember
some talk about a stone, a foundation-stone, and of identifying myself with that stone and putting it to some good
use or other. I did not recall any stone changing hands or passing into my possession; but then, if I were already
identified with it, it would not change hands; I already possessed it and was merely made aware of something of
which I was previously unconscious.
Be that as it may, on returning home I found myself in possession of a small stone which I valued as a memorial of
the occasion and as a token that I was now a member of the community of which I had heard so much and had been so
eager to join. My fellow-members also, I found, each possessed a similar stone and were all very proud of it. It
served as a passport or means of introduction when they travelled for pleasure or business. Some of them wore it
openly as a pendant to their watch-chains or had it set in a ring with a square and compasses engraved upon it, or
mounted as an ornament for their wives. Personally, I preferred not to advertise the possession of my own stone and
kept it in my pocket.
For years I carried it about with me and went my usual way in the world and attended to ordinary business. I
continued to attend meetings of the community and to enjoy the company and conviviality I there met. So seductive
were these that for long I did not realise that I was learning nothing of any vital use, and that the wisdom I had
hoped to learn never reached me. Moreover, I did all that seemed required of me in the way of learning the work of
the Society and discharging any task that was given me, yet in no way was I any different or better a man for
belonging to it than I might have remained had I never entered it. No knowledge of any value, no secrets or
mysteries of any moment, ever reached me, or seemed to be possessed by my fellows. Perhaps after all there were none
to impart, or if there were, they did not matter.
The position, after reflection, began to feel a little absurd. I thought of ways of relieving myself of it, by
resignation or discontinuing my interest in the Craft, especially as no one I consulted was able to throw me any
light upon the reason of its existence. Once, whilst so brooding, I took the little stone from my pocket and slowly
turned it over and over, my memory wandering back to the moment when I had received it. I said to myself "I have
been expecting bread and been given a stone — this stone." Somehow it seemed to have increased somewhat in size, to
have become unaccountably heavier. And then, as I scrutinised it, I detected for the first time some minute markings
upon it, too small to decipher without the aid of a magnifying glass. Applying such a glass I found inscribed upon
the stone the minute words "Free and Accepted Masonry”; then the Latin words "Descendit e cælo,"—it comes
heaven; and finally, in Greek lettering, the words "Know thyself !" [The quoted words are inscribed on the
Foundation stone of Freemasons' Hall, London, laid on May-day, 1775]
I pondered much upon these words and tried to realise their significance, though to little purpose. I made it in my
way to see some of my Brethren and sought permission to examine their stones. To my surprise in each case I found
the same inscription, though they themselves had not discerned it. It was often very faint and, in some cases,
nearly worn away, but there on every stone it was. I pointed it out to some of them. They were momentarily
interested, but then fell to talking of other things and thought no more about it. One or two seniors, of high rank
and many decorations, grew almost angry at the suggestion that their stone exhibited anything with which they were
not already fully conversant; so with them I did not press the matter. No one that I interrogated could give me any
helpful explanation. I was referred to libraries and given the loan of historical and archaeological books. I
visited the headquarters of the community and there interviewed antiquaries and other learned and dignified people,
but though for some years I strove diligently to trace the meaning, nothing of real value was forthcoming.
Meanwhile my stone grew gradually larger, heavier; and, as it did so, its inscription became correspondingly more
visible and as if demanding more and more insistently to be read and understood. In a twofold sense it weighed upon
me; its physical weight was becoming a burden, its unsolved problem an oppression to my mind. How could I get rid of
I happen to have a good friend or brother to whom, in emergencies, I have learned to repair for guidance. I don't
know who he is, but he is extremely reliable, and though not very communicative and apt to be slow, even sullen, in
his replies, and then to answer me in riddles and indirect ways, he has never once misled me. Like my puzzling
stone, he too, seems somehow to be identified with myself. A medical man or psychologist would say, of course, that
he was my own subliminal or supraliminal consciousness. It matters not which. I only know that he is intimately
associated with me, that he has an extraordinary intuitive knowledge of myself and my personal problems, and can
settle for me matters which my brain and reason do not and cannot. I have come to call him, as I find Oriental
psychologists do, the Teacher or Master in the heart.
To him I referred the matter and sought his guidance. For a long time there was no answer. I tried again and again,
and eventually, as my anxiety increased, his aloofness and silence diminished somewhat. But, as usual, his responses
were disconnected and enigmatic; mere hints rather than explanations; as though he wished the onus of finding what I
sought to know to remain with myself and that I must worry out my own solution with a minimum of help. Piecing
together his fragmentary replies, they may be translated and condensed thus:
"You cannot cast away your stone. It is yourself. You cannot evade it and its responsibilities by resigning or
remaining absent from the Brotherhood in which you first acquired the stone. Once a Mason, always a Mason: in this
world and in worlds to come. You stand solemnly and eternally covenanted, not only to yourself and your Brotherhood,
but to the Eternal Sacred Law, to proceed with your Masonic work to the end. That Law does not permit you to
stultify an obligation deliberately made upon It, even if made ignorantly. Ignorantia Legis neminem excusat.
There may be that in you which was not ignorant, and that guided you to undertake that obligation. Descendit e
calo. Know thyself!"
Brooding upon this I realised in my conscience the force and truth of the advice, and that the stone and myself were
now more closely identified than ever.
It was the inseparable symbol of myself. It was my "stone of destiny," like the Kaabah or sacred Cubical Stone of the
Moslems at Mecca; like the Lia Fail in Westminster Abbey upon which Jacob is said to have slept and kings are
crowned; both of them stones moreover, about which the legend runs that they "descended from heaven." Curious that
that legend should now coincide with the inscription on my own stone! Yet what have Jacob and coronations to do with
me, or I with them? "Know thyself!" Yes, indeed; for assuredly there may be unplumbed depths and unreached heights
of me that my conscious mind does not yet know. But how to reach and investigate them? How is it possible to know
more of myself than I do already? — that was my problem.
Thus, baffled, I put the matter by for a while, or rather tried to, but it would not permit itself long to be
ignored. The stone continued so to grow in bulk and weight as to become well-nigh as unportable as its meaning grew
Ultimately, one day, in despair, I carried it out into a lonely moorland wilderness with the intention of finally
grappling with its mystery and unravelling it once and for all, or of leaving it there — if I could. As I went, I
remembered Bunyan's Pilgrim, carrying on his back the intolerable pack which fell away of itself when he reached the
top of a certain hill. I half hoped similar relief might befall myself but did not expect it. I had again earnestly
appealed to my inward monitorial friend for further succour; but this time he had not answered at all.
Weary in body, distraught in mind, I bore my burden, now grown to a weight I could barely carry, and finally pitched
it down among the ling and bracken of the heath, and in the evening dusk flung myself down to rest, and upon the
stone — my stone of destiny — pillowed my head, and from exhaustion fell asleep.
I slept, but my heart waked.
Though asleep I did not wholly lose consciousness but retained a pleasurable feel of knowing I was asleep, that my
fatigued body and brain were at rest, and myself, my released and quickened intellect, was free to act in
independence of them. Oh, the rest and blissfulness of that conscious sleep! — paradoxical as it may sound.
Though I knew my tired head and harried brain rested upon the hard stone, that hardness presently seemed to be
dissolving and the pillow to become one of the softest down, swathed in fine linen, most white, most cool,
lavender-scented. Yes, and more; it became vibrant; intensely, healingly vibrant. Sweet scents exhaled from it; but
also sound; — oh! — gorgeous strains matching the delicate fragrance, welling sweetly, softly, from afar; the twain
perfectly concordant; unisoned rather; odour melodious, incense musical!
Presently, in this intensifying joy, my eyes opened. It was no longer dusk. Soft golden light was everywhere, through
which pulsed now and again, like summer lightning, throbs of rosy and other coloured rays of more than rainbow
purity, whilst the ground about me, upon which I lay, was no longer the rough moorland, but fleecy down of most
restful violet hue, as though one had passed through the dark-blue vault of the night-sky and lay upon the sunlit
upper side of it.
I raised myself and looked round. Standing neat me I saw one whom, instantly and instinctively, I recognised as my
hitherto unseen friend and brother the concealed interior monitor, to whom I had previously addressed my appeals for
counsel. What a mighty, glorious being he was as he stood there, a dazzle of flame-like hair circling his fine head,
his feet also winged with wreathing harmless fire; his person white-robed with a garment that seemed, not put on,
but to grow from and be an integral part of him, and about his neck and loins the shimmering blue and gold clothing
of—to my amazement — a Grand Lodge Officer. In one hand he bore a tall crystal wand like a deacon's, and his other
arm held a golden thyrsos or caduceus.
We both smiled a recognition when our eyes met. I discerned that he was waiting there till I was sufficiently
"Where are we?" I asked.
"In the Aula Latomorum!"
"Freemasons' Hall!" — my thought translated his words, and then as swiftly ran on by habit; ''Great Queen Street,
London, W.C.2. But surely not there?' And I saw that his mind read mine though I spoke not.
"No, not there. That is far below you now; far removed, yet not so much by distance as by difference of conscious
"Then, where am I?"
"In the candidate's preparing-room of the Aula Latomorum; the Supreme Universal Lodge of all Builders in the
what you have heard of as The Grand Lodge Above."
I began to protest that I was unfitted for, and had no title to admission to, such a place, but he checked me,
saying: — "You have sought, asked, knocked, though you did not know it. That forms your title to admission. Your
search for wisdom, your continued askings for light, did not pass unobserved by the Eye that watches here, that
never slumbers nor sleeps. Your blind strivings after truth were heard as knocks upon our door, and for you that
door will now open. You are being awaited within. Come; we will enter the Lodge!" And he placed a gentle but
powerful arm around me.
I still hesitated, but the bracing vitality of his presence and touch counteracted my weakness and gave me tenseness
and courage. Nevertheless, as we began to move away, I turned and looked back upon my sleeping body in the gloom at
my feet, with its head couched upon the rude dark stone, — the poor, poor rags of myself. From it, linking me with
it, I saw issuing a slender silvery streak, a phosphorescent filament faintly visible against its violet
"That," said my guide, "is your cable-tow, by which you shall be restored later on to the blessing of your material
comforts: — if, indeed, comforts they be to you," he added with a laugh. "They are a blessing, nevertheless, for
without them you could never have reached or entered here. Now come!"
"What is that glorious music?" I asked, as we passed up a great stairway, the steps of which his fire-winged feet
scarcely touched. For its tones grew louder, richer, as we ascended, and its waves rolled out upon me like ocean
"Pending your arrival, the Grand Organist is playing selections from the Music of the Spheres for the healing of your
bruised spirit. The fragrant music your stone pillow echoed back to you just now was its overtones. This Lodge, the
heavens, yes, and the earth beneath, are all built and held together by that music, though few of you in the world
below have ears to hear it."
So we passed on.
We reached the first landing of the vast Hall. It was quadrangular, and flanked at each side by a corridor by which
one could perambulate the building. My guide conducted me along the four sides.
"This," he told me, "is the floor upon which labour all Architects in the Spirit under the guidance of the Universal
Great Architect. There are two higher floors; one for the Geometricians who issue the designs for the Architects to
fabricate into shape; upon the other labour those still greater souls who are in the secret counsels of the Most
High and dwell within His shadow."
We reached the portal of a central hall, the Lodge room of the great Apprentice Architects. Without it stood a great
being bearing a sword that flashed every way, but observing my clothing and condition, he let it fall and asked in
whose name I sought admission. And with a ringing voice, like a silver trumpet, my guide replied for me: —
"In the name of the Son of the Carpenter, the Grand Carpenter of the Universe of worlds and men, by whom all things
And, as the great gates opened, from within, upon rolling waves of sound, welled forth the antiphon: "Hallowed be
that name to everlasting. His kingdom come, without as here within!"
So we entered.
I may not tell all that I saw or that occurred in that wondrous place, that great assembly. But this I will tell,
that at one place I found myself before two interlaced triangles of lighted candles, three of which were lesser and
three were greater lights, and at their centre, making seven, stood still another light, the greatest of them all
and of brilliance so intolerable that I was constrained to fall upon my knees before the candlesticks and shield my
eyes from their light with both my hands. Thus kneeling, self-blinded, words were spoken to me that can never be
repeated but that seemed to proceed from the central great candle. And presently I was asked if, voluntarily and of
my own free will, I would enter into a great and solemn covenant with the Voice speaking from it, which covenant
would not be formulated for me but, as a test of my sincerity and desire, must come as the spontaneous prompting of
my own heart. And then, in my ignorance, simplicity and blindness, but under my compelling joy at the wonders that
even so far I had witnessed, I behaved as a child who has been shown some new thing that delights it and forthwith
must needs run away to tell the tidings to its friends. And I exclaimed that thenceforward never would I conceal
from anyone in the world the unimaginable splendours that lay so near it yet passed unperceived, but that on the
contrary I would reveal them to all men and as far as possible make everyone know about them, and that of the light
and bliss in which I stood bathed I would carry back so much into the dark world that no one should fail to see it,
and that if needs be I would be content to be ground to dust and cast far and wide in sparklets of powdered light,
if by so doing that light might be more widely diffused.
Whilst I still spoke my hands were drawn from my eyes by another hand, which then took one of mine, and the Voice
said: —"Rise, brother with the child's heart; of such is this kingdom. Be thou my candle-bearer and let there be
I was raised from my knees, but, rising, my mind seemed to rise in correspondence, to widen out enormously in its
perceptions and conceptions as the result of something that thrilled into me from the touch of that hand. All I had
before seen and understood seemed but as darkness to what I now saw, and I, who in my impulsive ignorance had said I
would become the light of the world, now beheld the great central candle-light of the seven to be no longer a
candle, but to be He who Himself bears that name.
"Domine, non sum dignus!" Again I would have fallen to my knees, but the Great Benignity, the Hierophant who
walked among the candlesticks, restrained me and, for my support, drew a garment as it were of pure white lamb-skin
from the substance of His own person, in which garment and flesh were one, and girded it about my loins as an apron,
"This is My Body, given for you, that your body may be given for Me." And again, waves of coloured sound poured over
me from choired voices singing "Ecce Agnus Dei, qui tollit peccata mundi!"
And a great strength passed into me, so that all weakness fled, and I stood erect before Him, an accepted Apprentice
Mason of the Grand Lodge Above.
Then gathering into His hand the three lesser lights, they blended there into one another and became one light, one
candle, which He placed in my hand, bidding me light my way with it until such time as I came to the measure of
perfect man and the high stature of a Master Mason, and thereafter to go forth with it to them that sit in darkness
and the shadow of death.
When, amid swelling music, my guide led me forth from that great hall, its vast assembly rose to salute their new
brother, passing before them, bearing his lighted candle. And thereafter I was free to enter their abodes and
workshops where I was shown the work and the methods of those who are indeed the constructive builders and
carpenters of everything in the world of manifested form, from the fabrication of a solar system to that of the
bodily organisms of all that inhabits it, from the building of a planet to the manufacture of the simplest mechanism
of human invention; for what is such an "invention" but a discovery, a finding out, and "coming upon" by the human
mind of something of which the pattern already exists upon an, at present, concealed ultra-human level? Here were
visible and exposed the secrets and mysteries in regard to all created forms and physical phenomena. Here the forces
constituting natural law were controlled and regulated; here continents, oceans and waterways were planned and human
racial distribution pre-arranged. In this department worked those who devised the constitution of states, kingdoms
and polities for the lower world; in that, those who compiled tables and codes of law for social use and government,
plans of ethical systems, religious, ceremonial and sacramental forms for human use and educating human
understanding in celestial truths. And among these latter were to be seen the originals of the great systems of
ritual and symbolism devised to train the human eye and imagination to the perception of spiritual principles to
which otherwise they would remain blind — such as those of the Hebrew and the older Christian Churches, the ancient
schools of the Mysteries, and also modern Freemasonry, the source of which, so nebulous and uncertain to terrestrial
research, here becomes crystal-clear. For all such institutions exist in the outer world, not from chance
compilation or unaided human ingenuity, but because they are "patterns of heavenly things," physicalised reflections
of pre-existing fabrications by Architects and Workmen labouring upon a loftier and more enlightened plane of being
than that of the flesh, a plane from which they become inspirationally transmitted to the minds of those below or to
which some such minds are able consciously to mount and receive direct instruction ; as did the Hebrew Initiate,
Moses, when enjoined to frame the religio-political system of his people and in doing so to "see that he did all
things in accordance with the pattern shown him in the Mount."
For in this celestial "Mount" are made all the patterns or models of whatever is good, useful and worthy in the
terrestrial "valley" below, where nothing is really made, but merely copied and reproduced. From here the prophet,
the poet, the artist, the musical genius, the inventor, wittingly or unwittingly draw all the conceptions that
become the heritage of man and help on his racial career, but that at the same time convey to him an illusory sense
of self-generated progress and a belief in his own cleverness.
Thus, was I made free of the great brotherhood of the Supernal Architects, working without haste, without rest, in
the world of Light. Yet my thought reverted to the builders in the dark world below, where, if they can build
nothing other than their own good or evil destiny, —
All are architects of Fate
Working in the walls of Time, —
Broken stairways—where the feet
Stumble, as they seek to climb.
But my flame-shod guide beckoned me, and, remembering that before I could carry light into that tenebrous realm I
must go on to the measure of perfect man, I followed him.
He led me forth and up a great winding stairway to the next landing of the vast Hall, to the Lodge of the
Geometricians, and twice was I conducted around its galleries as though the better to adjust myself to that loftier
plane of being.
Presently, after due preparation and carrying my candle as passport, I was granted admission to its central chamber.
And there the Hierophant, whom previously I had met as the Great Architect, now manifested to me in a different and
higher guise, as the Grand Geometer.
Now He stood in the midst of a triangle of three great lights, and presently these, too, He gathered into His hand
where they blended into one which He placed in my other hand, so that now I stood bearing a pair of candles, one a
lesser light that shone but as the moon, and one a greater that blazed as the sun shining in his strength. And I was
made to know that I should need both these lights upon the path that still lay before me.
And when the greater light was placed in my hand my previous illumination seemed but as moonlight in comparison with
that which now came to me, and what had up to that moment seemed to me vacuous space I now perceived to be thronged
with an innumerable concourse of great beings greeting me into their company, each holding a hand high aloft and
chanting over me in chorus :— "Sun, stand thou still in his heights ; and moon, stand thou still in his valleys,
until all his enemies be overcome in the great day of his perfecting!"
And the Great Initiator placed his hand within his own bosom and drew forth a chalice of red wine and, holding it
forth to me, said: — "This is My life-blood, given for you that yours may be made Mine. Take, drink!”
And I drank, and gave thanks, and was dismissed to pursue my way.
Hitherto I had perceived as it were with but outward sensible eyes and had gazed upon but the outward forms and
surfaces of what I saw. Now, at this draught of new wine, my inward intellectual eyes became opened too, penetrating
beyond all forms, beholding their animating essence; seeing not separate existences and objects, but all life, all
objects, in inseparable unity. Here was what Socrates so rapturously tells of in Plato's Phaedrus—and I knew that,
to tell it, he too must have been called to this same place and been granted this same measure of initiation — that
it is a region of which no earthly bard has ever yet sung or ever will sing in worthy strains, one where for the
first time one comes to know real existence, colourless, formless, intangible, visible only by the topmost crest of
the human mind, the noetic intelligence that sits at the helm of the soul and that alone can share communion with
Divine Mind; that cognises the essential substantiality, as distinct from the accidental properties and attributes
of things ; no longer thinking of what is just, strong, beautiful, righteous, and so on, or of any contrasted
relationships, but directly beholding Wisdom, Strength, Beauty, Goodness, in their absoluteness and in their real
Here, too, I saw the prototypal "ideas" lying behind the patterns and models shown to me in the workshops of the
Architects below, and realised the geometrical and mathematical principles upon which those fabrications were based,
and how that every created thing is made by measure, number, and weight, as the Initiates of the Pythagorean School
made known to men in the outer world, so that of a verity I saw that even the hairs of our head are numbered — not
in the sense of being counted, but of existing conformably with mathematical necessity — and that not a sparrow
falls to the ground apart from that necessity or without recording a fact of, and a change in, the Universal
Consciousness. For on this plane where, as Plato declared, "God geometrises," the Divine Ideas are assimilated by
the Geometricians who there labour continually, and thence are transmitted to the Lodge of the Architects below for
expression in concrete form. And long would I have lingered here absorbing these in. exhaustible wonders, but again
I remembered my pledge and my directions and besought my guide to lead me onwards.
But how shall I relate what next befell me? How voice that which is of the Silence? I had been already led through
two new supernal planes of being, one devoted to the building of form, the other to formless self-subsisting
principles and abstractions — the ethereal embryos conceived by the Geometers, to which it was the function of the
Architects to provide objective embodiment. Now I was to pass to a height surpassing, transcending, both these ; one
where there existed neither the formal nor the formless, but as it were a primal Chaos from which both had issued
and into which both were resolvable; a Matrix beyond thought, beyond imagination, beyond description; and whilst
within me was a great urge of my spirit to go further forward and enter it, there yet fell upon me for the first
time in that realm of bliss and peace, of colour and sound, of bodily strength and mental clarity, an apprehension
that the limits both of my endurance and conscious possibility had been reached, that I could neither know nor bear
more than I already knew and bore, and that to attempt to advance farther was presumption and foolishness destined
to end in failure and disaster.
"Let strength be perfected out of weakness!" said my guide, reading my thought; "Come, let us go up the Hill of the
Lord!" Once more his strong arm was around me, and holding my lesser and greater candles, my moon-light and my
sun-light, in either hand, I ascended with him towards the third and topmost storey of the great Aula.
As we mounted, the path became less and less clear; as a highway, leading into open country, terminates in a mere
track which finally disappears entirely. And despite the brilliance of the two lights I carried, a twilight seemed
to be descending upon us that deepened more and more around us as we rose, until, on reaching a level landing,
nothing about me remained visible, or only the most shadowy outlines of what was immediately adjacent.
Although within a building, the building itself no longer appeared as such, but to have become dissolved into
something different, indefinable, indescribable — mere "place," to which no epithet or attribute can be attached ;
no corridors, no departmental chambers, such as I had found on the floors below; no sign of life or activity, but
utter desertedness and dereliction, and yet, withal, a sense that life abounded there upon all sides. Yet thrice was
I escorted around what, had it been a visible quadrangle, would have been its four sides, as though to habituate
myself to these new conditions.
Deep silence and solitude ruled up here in this dark polar region of the human mind, and here the great music that
flooded the lower altitudes failed, it seemed, to reach, as though the air was too rarefied for it longer to be
audible or my hearing too gross to respond to it. At times we seemed to be in a dense forest, to be passing beneath
the dusky boughs of giant cedars of Lebanon and other mighty growths. At length I enquired of my guide what this
"This," he answered, "is the House of the Sons of the Widow"; and then for the first time a mighty emotion swept
through and shook even his strong frame, as he murmured, rather to himself than for my hearing, the words, "Sub
umbra alarum Tuarum, Jeheschuah!" as though he too longed to dwell for ever in that place of deep shadow.
And my thought turned to the remembrance of a teaching concerning the bereft Divine Wisdom, the Sophia, the Bride
widowed through the ages of Her errant sons until, reverting from the ways of foolishness, they voluntarily return
to sonship and She becomes justified of Her children.
We halted, at length, at a place at which, in the gloom, showed the outline of two pillars standing side by side,
separated only widely enough for one man to pass between. From here, my guide told me, I must proceed alone, since
he could accompany me no farther; but he would prepare me for my entry into that final sanctuary and would wait
without until I rejoined him.
Then he began upon me a great and solemn ritual of preparation.
He took from my one hand the great solar light it carried, and placed the candle in a sconce at the head of one of
the pillars in front of me; and then took from my other hand the lesser lunar light and set its candle in a similar
sconce at the head of the other pillar; repeating, the while, with intense earnestness the words: "Thou, sun, stand
still in his heights; and thou, moon, stand still in his valleys, till his enemies be overcome in the great day of
He divested me of all my garments, save one only — the Apron with which the Great Hierophant had invested me in the
Lodge below. For my other garments, ethereal though they were, were as the outgrowth of my own nature, the condensed
exhalations of my own thought and desire, now become objective and clinging to me as raiment; and of these I must
needs stand denuded if spirit is to meet Spirit and, out of my flesh, I am to see God. But my Apron no other hand
could take from me than that which gave it, and it remained around my loins to be my strength and support in that
day of my perfecting.
Then, from an overhanging tree, he plucked a feathery spray of acacia-leaf and, after weaving it into a fillet,
placed it around my head, saying as he did so art crowned in the halls of death that hereafter thou may'st wear a
Crown of Life that fadeth not away."
Further, he took the golden caduceus or thyrsos he had always carried, and, standing before me, raised it aloft, as a
crucifix is held before the eyes of the dying, and exclaimed: —
"Receive this Golden Bough, thou branchlet of the eternal Life-Tree, and think upon it when thou hangest upon that
Tree, that thou may'st become for ever grafted thereinto, and thy leaves and fruit thenceforth be for the healing of
And by a gold cord he placed it upon me, so that it hung suspended against my flesh as a pectoral cross.
Then, with his forefinger, he sealed me at five points with the sign of the cross; upon my brow, upon my throat, upon
my heart, upon the palms of both my hands, and upon both feet. And after each sealing with the cross-sign, he sealed
me again at the same points with a peace-kiss, as though with his lips to heal wounds which his finger had made; and
he said :— "Thou art wounded in love in the house of thy friends that by love thou may'st be made whole. These be
thy five points of perpetual fellowship with Love Immortal; that in love thou may'st think, may'st speak, may'st
feel, may'st act, may'st walk, when thou goest forth among the sons of men."
And having thus done, he turned from me and passed to the twin pillars standing in front of me. There, kneeling
between them and with a hand laid upon each, as though to unite them in himself, his voice pealed forth into the
distance beyond: —"ln strength have I striven to establish this son of Thy House, that he may stand firm and
steadfast in the great day of his at-one-ment with Thee, Most High!"
Finally, he rose, and taking his rod or wand, passed behind me, so that I saw him no more. But I felt his presence,
and that from it was now issuing an energy that was directing, compelling — even propelling — me forward; an energy
at once of will and of prayer, — of will that absorbed and gave direction and intensity to my own will, of prayer
that shielded me from all evil as that will urged me on into the valley of the shadow of death; an energy, silent,
yet of such gathering intensity that; like a great sea-wave rising to the breaking-point, I knew it must at last
break into sound, and that that sound would carry me forward with it.
Presently it broke. It broke upon my hearing, upon my whole being, as one great clear word of power, the vibrancy of
which swept me onward. What that word was cannot be related, nor did I then understand it. But as it translated
itself at that moment to my understanding, it was the heart speech of my directing guide saying: -
"Father, into Thy hands I commend his spirit, which is also my spirit!"
And, impelled by that word of power, I passed forward along the straight and narrow way between the lighted pillars,
into the gloom beyond.
The ground beneath my feet rose steeply. I felt myself to be ascending a hill in that dusk and stillness, though for
some distance a state of twilight remained to me; for memories and remnants of the light that had previously
suffused me lingered, and the great twin candles I had borne to this point still cast helpful beams from the
pillar-tops for a little way. But the farther I traversed, the higher I mounted, their illumination diminished,
until at length twilight melted into utter dark. I remembered and comforted myself with, a great word: "The sun
shall no more be thy light by day, neither the moon by night; but the Spirit shall be to thee an everlasting light,
and thy God thy glory ; and the days of thy travail shall be ended." I knew what others have recorded of passing
into the Divine Gloom, the agnosia of the human spirit, where vision fails and thought is paralysed, and where that
zero-point of consciousness must be touched where nothing is known to be, neither one's self, nor even God; and I
knew, and again tried to comfort myself with the reflection that even this appalling darkness was in fact light,
albeit light of intensity so unthinkable as, to eyes not yet opened and inured to it, to appear as darkness.
But I had yet to learn that even such comforts as thought and memory provided were staffs that must fail me of
In that darkness I now was. In the rarefied atmosphere of the mount I was ascending my being took on an ever-
increasing hyper- sensitiveness, until I felt my flesh, even the tenuous ethereal flesh of my present body,
dissolving away, leaving me as but a quivering structure of exposed, unprotected nerves. The feathery fillet of
acacia-leaf upon my forehead felt now as a heavy crown of coarse thorns clamped upon my brow, into which the tender,
delicate frond-points pressed like steel spikes. The light gold thyrsos suspended from my neck became as a cross,
beneath the intolerable weight of which, with bleeding feet and hands, I toiled and staggered upwardly. I paused
awhile to rest and with my forefinger swept, from time to time, the increasing blood and sweat from my brow and in
my agony cried aloud: -
"Come to my help, ye Sons of the Widow! for I, too, am the Widow's son."
But no answer, no help came; yet the oftener I lingered, the more I faltered, the more conscious became I of the
propelling urge of that mighty word of power by which my guide had sped, and still was speeding, me upon my willing
quest ; and I knew that from a distance — how far, how short, mattered not — he still was watching, directing me;
that his rod and staff controlled and safeguarded me.
In the ocean-depths there is a point at which a sinking ship can sink no farther, the pressure upon it from above and
the resistance from below so counteracting each other that it remains suspended and undergoes disintegration by the
dual forces grinding upon it. In the ocean-depths of Universal Spirit there is a corresponding point of equilibrium,
where the human soul, seeking to pass from terrestrial attraction to spiritual freedom, becomes caught and ground
between similar upper and nether millstones. That point is the mystical Gethsemane, literally "the place of the wine
and oil press," for there the soul reaches the equator-line where the opposing attractive forces of soul and spirit
meet, and where the former experiences to its joints and marrow a sundering of its parts. There — as wheat is
winnowed from corn-stalk and chaff, as wine and oil are distilled from crushed fruit — the soul's spirit, its
sublimated, refined, immortal essence, is dissected from the sheath in which it has matured, is separated and
rendered free to commence a new independent life of its own, whilst that sheath itself is left to perish.
That Gethsemane I had now reached. My soul consciously knew the growing division of its kingdoms, "one dead; one
powerless to be born;" and again and again cried in its anguish for help from the Widow's Sons, yet without avail;
and at last resigned itself to the compelling word and will that it felt still to urge it forward, higher.
Beyond Gethsemane rises the Hill Calvary — Kranion or Calvaria, the bald headland, the rocky summit, of no earthly
situation, and known to none save the naked human spirit which ascends to it, there to be lifted up high above all
terrene ground and magnetic attraction, and pass to birth and apotheosis in the free uncontaminated air of Spirit
Reaching that summit, my limbs failing under me, one thing alone saved me from complete collapse — the strength and
support that came, that seemed newly and increasingly generated, from the Apron girt about my loins. And then, from
that central peak, my feet involuntarily losing touch with the supporting ground beneath, I felt myself lifted up
above the earth.
No hand there was that touched or raised me. As one whose limbs become distended, rigid, under the infusion of a
strong electric current, so now the charge of the Creator Spiritus passed into me, forcing my frame into vertical
erectness and rigidity, extending my arms horizontally, making taut and tense under its strain every fibre of my
being. In mid-air, my head held toward heights I could not reach, my feet down-pointing to the earth they no longer
touched, my arms wide-flung transversely into void space, I hung suspended upon that invisible impalpable Life-Tree;
myself a cross; myself the crucified upon that cross.
For three hours of darkness — hours not of human time, but of that Spirit to which a day is as a thousand years—I
hung upon that cross, that Stauros upon which from the foundation of the world Life Creative hangs self-immolated,
that worlds may be built upon its pattern and Life Created be fashioned at last into its image.
As there I hung, my thorny crown stabbed its spikes more deeply, more insistently, into my brow, my hands unable
longer to move and wipe away the blood and sweat. Yet a joy began subtly to tincture and relieve that pain, as I
realised that, under the same strain that my own being knew, the life-sap of the fragile acacia-sprig was also being
quickened, was pulsing fast, striving to break to golden bloom; and that, when that bloom broke, light would break
for me also and my crown of thorns become a crown of life.
The gold thyrsos upon my breast burned itself into me, until its vertical shaft felt one with my own spinal column,
from the base of which the uprising intertwined serpents were as dual streams of a new, larger, richer vitality
surging upward through my nerves towards my head, where I knew that — like the dual parts of an electric current
that, meeting, flash into light — they would eventually combine and flame to conscious wings, wide-spreading as
those of its symbol, far-reaching as my own wide-flung arms.
And my Craftsman's Apron, at once a weight and a support to my straining loins, felt growing into me, to be becoming
of my very flesh and substance. I knew now why, traditionally depicted as a loin-cloth, this garment alone was worn
upon the Cross by the "King of the Jews,"[ "Jew" is the term for an Initiate in the Hebrew and Gnostic Mysteries.
The superscription upon the Cross in the then three chief languages of civilisation, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, was
meant to proclaim to understanding minds that this was the culmination point of all the world's Mystery systems, and
that the Christian Master was the supreme of all previous Initiates, the “King" of all mystical "Jews," in either
the East or West.] the Supreme Chief of all Initiates, and why all the great painters of the Crucifixion-scene had
been moved, intentionally or inspirationally, so to depict it and not otherwise, not from any paltry motive of
delicacy or prudery, but to point, for those who can understand, the truth that the secret, basic, generative
energies procreating the Universe and regenerating human souls must ever remain beyond the ken of all but the Divine
As with the dying, my consciousness fluctuated from a negative to a preternaturally acute and vivid stage, ranging at
times to a wild yet orderly delirium; yet from both these extremes I knew the necessity of holding my will oriented
and fixed upon its desired goal. At times it became cosmically comprehensive; at times it would focus upon
trivialities and irrelevances. At one moment it would enlarge till, for the little leaf-crown on my head, I wore
vast star-belts as a diadem; great constellations filled no more space than the palms of my hands and swam around my
person as but dancing fire-flies; my trunk and legs reached down through abysmal leagues of space to the dust-speck
of earth below my feet. At another the heavens would open and expose their joyous contents — a lure and temptation
promptly to be rejected as often as it recurred; for, though I thirsted, it was for richer wine than they could give
to drink. Now each hair of my head seemed a filament and conduit linking me with angel-hosts and reservoirs of
supernatural intellectuality, and now the nerves of my feet ramified into the finest rootlets and tentacles through
which I became aware of the activities of nature and of life in the earth below and the minutest details of personal
human interest. I heard the crackle of growing grass, the twitter of birds, the cries and laughter of children,
equally clearly with the throb of engines, the activities of industry, the clash of armies. No grain of sand, or
speck of dust, or cell of tissue, but disclosed its constitution, its potencies, its purpose, its destiny; all
straining, striving, building, unbuilding, rebuilding; each sealed with and bearing, wittingly or not, its little
cross in one universal effort to become raised to that final cross of transformation upon which I now hung, and
thence to pass on to unimagined heights and destinies beyond. Even my Brother-builders in the symbolic Craft — for
of them too I became vividly aware in their little dark circumscribed world below, — there they were in their
Lodges; reeling off memorised rituals, correcting one another at a wrong or misplaced word supposed to affect the
efficacy of their work; and some were in banquet halls, and, amid the pop of champagne corks, I heard them toasting
one another, extolling the virtues of Masonry, shouting, "Prosper the Art l" and singing of the "mystic tie"
that—more truly than they know —binds all together and advances the building of a Temple conceived of as yet by but
few of them.
Darkness, over-intensified, at last of itself becomes as it were a pleasurable light; pain, when ability to feel it
is exhausted, a measure of joy; for these opposites are but relative, the poles of a single fact; differing
reactions to enforced environment. But neither such light nor such joy was that I longed for. They belonged to
feeling, to desire, to thought; not to that deeper factor, the Spirit, which transcends them all, and to which I
strove to keep my will one-pointed.
But at length feeling died in me; I knew neither pain nor joy. Then desire died; what happened further to me, good or
ill, I cared not. Lastly, thought died also; its flickerings and veil-wisps gradually falling away, till stark
blankness only remained. Nothing of me still was, save the labouring spirit that strove to be born but could not. It
was the zero-point of negative consciousness, the moment of the apparently everlasting NO; where nothing is, and God
Eloi, Eloi ! Lama Sabachthani!
I revived — yet not I — at length, in Light; a new indescribable light, so much more than light because it is also
life; life beyond the category of personality; life in the Universal Spirit of light;
Light rare, untellable, lighting the very light;
Beyond all words, descriptions, languages!
The sprig of acacia had at last burst to golden flower upon my head.
No tongue may or can speak, nor pen write, of that "sleep in Light" as the Egyptian records call it, that conscious
rest of the soul in God, that identic union between finite object and infinite Subject, that nirvanic absorption of
the spirit's still flame within the Fire of Divine Mind, of the human water-drop in the ocean of that Immaculate
Illimitable which is Nothing, but without which nothing is—that impersonal yet self-consciousness which becomes
possible only when every activity of sense and emotion has been quelled, every energy of the restless mind stilled,
all thought obliterated ; and the babe-soul rests upon the naked bosom of that Spirit of which it has been well
I am the Silence which is more than Sound.
If there within thou lose thee, thou art found!
The Nameless, Shoreless Ocean, which is I,
Thou canst not breathe, but in its bosom drowned!
What previously had seemed utter darkness was now a sea of softest light thronged with life; living light, lighted
life. About me thronged the uncountable Sons of the Widow, God's Master Masons, the Lords of Wisdom and sharers of
the secret counsels of the Most High, whose inspirations, transmitted to the Geometers and Architects upon the
planes below, dictated the plans upon which worlds are built, maintained, dissolved, and yet are but as foam upon
the rising and falling waves on the surface of the Universal Life-stream.
And these great Sons, close present to me through my long agony, but invisible till a deeper sight was born in me
that could share their intenser light, took me down from my cross ; — but of the secrets and mysteries that
thereupon became known to me I do not here speak, nor of the still higher grades of Initiation that lie beyond that
I now testify to.
When eventually I left them, I passed through their ranks, as I had passed through them upon my arrival when to my
unperfected eyes they had appeared as a vast forest of Libanus cedars under whose swarth boughs I had walked; for
were they not as great trees crowning the mountain-top of the world, diffusing over it from their spread branches
the dark actinic rays of a Wisdom not yet recognised by men's imperfect vision as Light?
I re-joined my former brother and guide at the point where I had left him, between the pillars. Upon seeing me he at
once greeted me with a familiar sign in sympathy with my now vanished sufferings, and, kneeling, at the next moment
shielded his eyes with his hand as my presence dazzled him with the light it now radiated. Then he rose, and bowing,
drew near me and offered me his hand as a Brother of the Third Degree in that Grand Lodge, and as we embraced, he
exclaimed: — "The Master is risen!"
And I to him responded: —"He is risen indeed!" And we passed back down the grand stairway, up which he had previously
brought me, now no longer deserted, but thronged with Geometricians and Architects come forth to hail their new
Brother, now journeying back as a light-bearer into the outer dark world. And, upon rolling organ-music once more,
came the chanted words "To him that hath overcome is given a crown of life I" and again, "To him that hath endured
to the end is given a white stone!"
At length we reached the place where, in the gloom, still lay my sleeping body, couched upon a stone. But peering
down upon them the stone was no longer a dark crude mass. It was a crystal cubical stone, upon the top of which
rested three cornucopias, bearing corn, and wine, and oil; and against this, my stone of destiny, reposed my head,
already faintly aureoled with light. My coronation was complete.
I knew that henceforth both my guide and my stone would be perfectly identified with me and that the contents of the
cornucopias were the emblems of my perpetual future nourishment and represented the harvest I had garnered in each
of the Three Degrees I had just taken; Bread of Life from the first, Wine of Bliss and Illumination from the second,
Oil of Wisdom from the third. Here was the realisation of the familiar words, hitherto but fanciful poetic imagery
preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over!"
Again my good Brother gripped me as a Master Mason. We drew together in an embrace of fellowship so fervent that we
seemed to coalesce beyond the possibility of further separateness. "A measure of corn for a penny," he said to me,
"and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." And I understood his hint to prudent in my use of them.
"Ave, Frater, atque Vale!" were his last spoken words to me.
And mine to him were "Vale, Frater, atque Ave!" When I looked about me with the eyes of my flesh, I was alone.
Sunrise was breaking over the barren heath.