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SOME DEEPER ASPECTS OF MASONIC SYMBOLISM

SOME DEEPER ASPECTS OF MASONIC SYMBOLISM

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Scanned from the periodical "The Builder", Vol. II, 1916, in three
parts, from the issues of April, May and June and made into a PDF for Scribd.com.

Authored by BY BRO. AURTHUR EDWARD WAITE, apparently this work is in public domain, so if there is anything found indicating the contrary, this will be taken down at that point.

This work reads well in conjunction with Manly P. Hall's "Lost Keys of Freemasonry."
Scanned from the periodical "The Builder", Vol. II, 1916, in three
parts, from the issues of April, May and June and made into a PDF for Scribd.com.

Authored by BY BRO. AURTHUR EDWARD WAITE, apparently this work is in public domain, so if there is anything found indicating the contrary, this will be taken down at that point.

This work reads well in conjunction with Manly P. Hall's "Lost Keys of Freemasonry."

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Published by: (Administrator) on Dec 30, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/12/2013

 
SOME DEEPER ASPECTS OF MASONIC SYMBOLISMBY BRO. AURTHUR EDWARD WAITEPART ITHE subject which I am about to approach is one having certainobvious difficulties, because it is outside the usual horizon ofMasonic literature, and requires, therefore, to be put withconsiderable care, as well as with reasonable prudence. Moreover,it is not easy to do it full justice within the limits of a singlelecture. I must ask my Brethren to make allowance beforehand forthe fact that I am speaking in good faith, and where the evidencefor what I shall affirm does not appear in its fullness, andsometimes scarcely at all, they must believe that I can produce itat need, should the opportunity occur. As a matter of fact, somepart of it has appeared in my published writings.I will introduce the question in hand by a citation which isfamiliar to us all, as it so happens that it forms a good point ofdeparture:- "But as we are not all operative Masons, but ratherFree and Accepted or speculative, we apply these tools to ourmorals." With certain variations, these words occur in each of theCraft Degrees, and their analogies are to be found in a fewsubsidiary Degrees which may be said to arise out of the Craft-as, for example, the Honorable Degree of Mark Master Mason. Thatwhich is applied more specially to the working implements ofMasonry belongs to our entire building symbolism, whether it isconcerned with the erection by the Candidate in his ownpersonality of an edifice or "superstructure perfect in its partsand honorable to the builder," or, in the Mark Degree, with ahouse not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, or again withSolomon's Temple spiritualized in the Legend of the Master Degree.A SYSTEM OF MORALITYIt comes about in this manner that Masonry is describedelsewhere as "a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegoryand illustrated by symbols." I want to tell you, among otherthings which call for consideration, something about the nature ofthe building, as this is presented to my mind, and about the wayin which allegory, symbols and drama all hang together and makefor one meaning. It is my design also to show that Craft Masonryincorporates three less or more distinct elements which have beencuriously interlinked under the device of symbolical architecture.That interlinking is to some extent artificial, and yet it ariseslogically, so far as the relation of ideas is concerned.There is, firstly, the Candidate's own work, wherein he istaught how he should build himself. The method of instruction ispractical within its own measures, but as it is so familiar andopen, it is not, properly speaking, the subject-matter of a Secret
 
Order. There is, secondly, a building myth, and the manner inwhich it is put forward involves the Candidate taking part in adramatic scene, wherein he represents the master-builder ofMasonry. There is, thirdly, a Masonic quest, connected with thenotion of a Secret Word communicated as an essential part of theMaster-Degree in building. This is perhaps the most important andstrangest of the three elements; but the quest after the Word isnot finished in the Third Degree.THE FIRST DEGREELet us look for a moment at the Degree of Entered Apprentice,and how things stand with the Candidate when he first comes withinthe precincts of the Lodge. He comes as one who is "worthy andwell recommended," as if he contained within himself certainelements or materials which are adaptable to a specific purpose.He is described by his conductor as a person who is "properlyprepared." The fitness implied by the recommendation has referenceto something which is within him, but not of necessity obvious orvisible on his surface personality. It is not that he is merely adeserving member of society at large. He is this, of course, bythe fact that he is admitted; but he is very much more, becauseMasonry has an object in view respecting his personality-something that can be accomplished in him as a result of hisfellowship in the Brotherhood, and by himself. As a matter oftruth, it is by both. The "prepared" state is, however, onlyexternal, and all of us know in what precisely it consists.Now the manner of his preparation for entrance into the Lodgetypifies a state which is peculiar to his inward position as aperson who has not been initiated. There are other particularsinto which I need not enter, but it should be remarked that inrespect of his preparation he learns only the meaning of the stateof darkness, namely, that he has not yet received the lightcommunicated in Masonry. The significance of those hindranceswhich place him at a disadvantage, impede his movements, andrender him in fact helpless, is much deeper than this. Theyconstitute together an image of coming out from some old conditionby being unclothed therefrom- partially at least- and thereafterof entering into a condition that is new and different, in whichanother kind of light is communicated, and another vesture is tobe assumed, and, ultimately, another life entered.THE MEANING OF INITIATIONIn the first Degree the Candidate's eyes are opened into therepresentation of a new world, for you must know, of course, thatthe Lodge itself is a symbol of the world, extending to the fourcorners, having the height of heaven above and the great depthbeneath. The Candidate may think naturally that light has been
 
taken away from him for the purpose of his initiation, has beenthereafter restored automatically, when he has gone through a partof the ceremony, and that hence he is only returned to hisprevious position. Not so. In reality, the light is restored tohim in another place; he has put aside old things, has come intothings that are new; and he will never pass out of the Lodge asquite the same man that he entered. There is a very true sense inwhich the particulars of his initiation are in analogy with theprocess of birth into the physical world. The imputed darkness ofhis previous existence, amidst the life of the uninitiated world,and the yoke which is placed about him is unquestionably incorrespondence with the umbilical cord. You will remember thepoint at which he is released therefrom- in our English ritual, Imean. I do not wish to press this view, because it belongs ofright, in the main, to another region of symbolism, and theprocedure in the later Degrees confuses an issue which might becalled clear otherwise in the Degree of Entered Apprentice. It ispreferable to say that a new light- being that of Masonry-illuminates the world of the Lodge in the midst of which theCandidate is placed; he is penetrated by a fresh experience; andhe sees things as they have never been presented to him before.When he retires subsequently for a period, this is like hisrestoration to light; in the literal sense he resumes that whichhe set aside, as he is restored to the old light; but in thesymbolism it is another environment, a new body of motive,experience, and sphere of duty attached thereto. He assumes a newvocation in the world.The question of certain things of a metallic kind, the absenceof which plays an important part, is a little difficult from anypoint of view, though several, explanations have been given. Thebetter way toward their understanding is to put aside what isconventional and arbitrary- as, for example, the poverty of spiritand, the denuded state of those who have not yet been enriched bythe secret knowledge of the Royal and Holy Art. It goes deeperthan this and represents the ordinary status of the world, whenseparated from any higher motive- the world-spirit, the extrinsictitles of recognition, the material standards. The Candidate isnow to learn that there is another standard of values, and when hecomes again into possession of the old tokens, he is to realizethat their most important use is in the cause of others. You knowunder what striking circumstances this point is brought home tohim.ENTERED, PASSED, RAISEDThe Candidate is, however, subjected to like personalexperience in each of the Craft Degrees, and it calls to beunderstood thus. In the Entered Apprentice Degree it is because of

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