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
And now let me close this book, as every Lodge is closed, in peace and concord with all my Brethren, and with the
ancient prayer that the Order may be preserved of God, and its members be cemented with every virtue.
If, in what has here been written, Masonry has been given a conception spiritualised beyond the measure of its common
understanding, I have but followed the example of our Ancient Brethren, who, lifting up their eyes to hills whence
cometh strength, wrought their Masonic work upon the highest eminences of the mind and discerned the Mysteries of
the Craft, not with eyes of the flesh, but with the vision and understanding of the spirit. And they it was who
perpetuated for us of later an Order and a Doctrine by the right interpretation and use of which we, too, might
ascend where they had risen, and from the same Mount of Vision behold the same things that they had seen.
Few, perhaps, ascend to those high hills to-day, in this more than usually troubled and dark age. But some are ready
and eager to do so, and for them especially it is that this book is written. All must ascend thither at last. But,
at the moment, the World-spirit is dominant in all our institutions. Wisdom is little apparent; for want of vision
the people perish; and the quest of Light has to be pursued under conditions of peculiar adversity. But there is a
mystery of Darkness no less than one of Light, and, in the moulding hands of the Great Architect of the House of
Life, the darkness and the light are both alike and serve as twin pillars that, finally, will establish that House
Those, then, who cannot, or are not yet prepared to, mount the higher path of understanding the things of the Craft,
must nevertheless be thought of in charity, and spoken of in faith and in hope. For, placed as we all are in
different and unequal degrees of perception upon the chequer-work floor of Life, around all alike—black and white,
wise and foolish, learned and uninformed — runs the unifying, surrounding skirtwork and border of a common
Providence; about us all are flung the Everlasting Arms; whilst, from the mutual interplay of the light and darkness
in us all, becomes gradually generated the realisation of that Wisdom in which, even now, we are all one, though of
that unity few as yet are conscious. And since Wisdom will at last be justified of all her children, we need not
complain of her processes, which, as they work out through the ages to a beneficent conclusion, temporarily involve
the sharp and painful contrasts that we find.
Twenty-four centuries ago, at a time of similar darkness and degeneracy to the present, an aged seer and
golden-tongued poet, who through a long life had contemplated the Ancient Mysteries of Light and Wisdom, spoke of
the difficulty of conveying them to a world not yet able to appreciate them; and yet recognised the truth that, in
the opposition of the World-spirit to them, the Divine purpose was nevertheless being effected. In sending forth
this book, then, and exhibiting the Mysteries of Masonry in a light towards which, doubtless, some who read it will
not at once be responsive, let me appropriate that poet's words, and welcome any inappreciation of what I have
written with the same serenity as his ; the same confidence of forward-looking faith in its ultimate acceptance:
Knowledge, we are not foes!
I seek thee diligently;
But the World with a great wind blows,
Shining — but not from thee!
Yet blowing to beautiful things,
On, amid dark and light;
Till Life, through the trammellings
Of laws that are not the Right,
Breaks, clean and pure, and sings
Glorying to God in the height.
[Euripides, Baccha; Trans. Murray]