A NOTE ON "THE CLOUD UPON THE SANCTUARY

"

The prints of the above have been kindly provided for the members of The Lodge of Living Stones by one of their number, who has asked me to write a word of introduction about their authorship, their history and their importance. The series of letters collected under the title "The Cloud upon the Sanctuary" was written in about 1800 by a German nobleman and statesman, Karl von Eckartshausen, for the benefit of his Masonic pupils. As the Letters reveal, their author was an advanced Christian mystic who wove his religious and masonic ideas together for the private instruction of his less advanced brethren. He wrote other small treatises of a similar character, the present letters being the most important, and died in 1813, aged 61 years. Save to a few students his writings have remained unknown in England, though his influence was widespread in Germany, Russia and France. Tolstoy in his great novel "War and Peace", describing the social conditions in Moscow at the time of the Napoleonic invasion in 1815 and recording a Masonic initiation in that city, says that "everyone here is reading Eckartshausen." But English Masons, little addicted to philosophical study of their Science, have remained ignorant of this most valuable work. In 1896 a friend of mine first translated the Letters into English and published them, but they have long been out of print and unprocurable. It is very gratifying that this reprint of them is now available to members of The Lodge o f Living Stones. After the inception of the modern Masonic system in 1717 Freemasonry quickly acquired a hold on the Continent and in America, charters or licences to practice it being granted by the English Mother Grand Lodge. This explains the great influence Masonry exercised in Germany during the second half of the 18th century and the number of outstanding works of literature, drama and music produced by eminent German. Masons round about that period. Goethe wrote his great Masonic novel Wilhelm Meister and a host of Masonic poems. Novalis produced his exquisite mystical treatise The Disciples o f Sais. Werner brought out his plays The Brethren of the Cross and The Templars in Cyprus, whilst Mozart composed one of his chief works The Magic Flute under Masonic inspiration and Eckartshausen issued The Cloud upon the Sanctuary and other similar brochures. It is a little humiliating to reflect that here in England, the mother-land of the Craft, no literary or artistic responsiveness to the teachings of Masonry comparable to that which manifested among leading intellectual minds on the Continent has ever occurred. The English Mason has been content with formal ceremonial and charitable and social aspects of the Craft and has neglected its deeper philosophical implications. In these deeply instructive Letters of Eckartshausen we are brought up against those implications abruptly. They go to the roots of what Masonic teaching is; they deal with matters which none but a real initiate can teach and none but an ardent seeker of Light can learn; they enable us to judge for ourselves how far or how little each of us is a real initiate himself. Though written guardedly and with every, regard for Masonic secrecy, they constitute perhaps the most outspoken piece of Masonic instruction that exists. They were compiled only for earnest students who are bent on living out in thought and conduct what is adumbrated to them in symbol and ceremonial in the Lodge; and even today it. will be only to such Brethren that they will have any worth or meaning. For no preceptor can be more definite than Eckartshausen in emphasizing that theory must pass into personal effort and practice before that "cloud" which hangs over and darkens the sanctuary of every uniniated human soul can be lifted. That "cloud" is the symbolic darkness of the' Third Degree, which is not dispelled even ceremonially until the duly prepared soul becomes regenerated and raised into light surpassing natural light and the natural mind. the English Mother Grand Lodge. This explains the great influence Masonry exercised in Germany during the second half of the 18th century and the number of outstanding works of literature, drama and music produced by eminent German. Masons round about that period. Goethe wrote his great Masonic novel Wilhelm Meister and a host of Masonic poems. Novalis produced his exquisite mystical treatise The Disciples of Sais. Werner brought out his plays The Brethren of the Crass and

Third Degree. They are advised to accept such statements provisionally in the first instance and let the mind brood upon them continually. it must well up into consciousness from within one's own soul where all truth abides in fullness and only needs properly prepared ground for its liberation. the mother-land of the Craft. We find what we seek because it is already present in us but await the lifting of the cloud upon our personal sanctuary. A marked feature of these Letters is their lucidity and extreme simplicity of statement. so easily read. He simply asserts what he knows to be true and leaves his testimony to ferment in the minds of those qualified to receive it until they in turn come to share his knowledge. They may then come to find that what they began by doubting becomes (as it has done with many previous truth-seekers) a realised fact of personal experience. All new truth is startling at first. If they convey little or nothing to him. but beyond these. WILMSHURST. which is not dispelled even ceremonially until the duly prepared soul becomes regenerated and raised into light surpassing natural light and the natural mind. fail to find references to the Three Degrees and. it will be a sign that his inner deeper self is responding to the voice of the spiritual Master who is speaking through these letters and trying to instruct his junior brethren in the Masonic truths he has learned for himself. hence it can only be disclosed gradually and as the recipient is fitted to bear it. W. Like every Master and true teacher. Though written guardedly and with every regard for Masonic secrecy.The Tern plays in Cyprus.-the Heavenly Hierarchy which we call "The Grand Lodge Above". and the terms upon which one may become consciously received and incoporated into it whilst we are still here and in the flesh. For knowledge of this kind can never be imposed on anyone from without._ to the "mystical science" of Light to the "royal art" of rebuilding the fallen temple of one's own soul.Readers of these Letters will not. L. They go to the roots of what Masonic teaching is. . . they constitute perhaps the most outspoken piece of Masonic instruction that exists. and even today it will be only to such Brethren that they will have any worth or meaning. Upon this subject readers may find assertions and instruction that will surprise them and raise their doubt. May this reprint of them help lift it for still others ! W. of which the Masonic Order on earth is the manifested reflection. In these deeply instructive Letters of Eckartshausen we are brought up against those implications abruptly. They are so simple. Indeed one's reaction to them will be a sure test of a reader's measure of spiritual backwardness or advancement. their_ ulterior significance.M. They were compiled only for earnest students who are bent on living out in thought and conduct what is adumbrated to them in symbol and ceremonial in the Lodge. If they grip his attention and compel their reading and re-reading till he almost knows them by heart. These Letters have been of priceless value to many helping to lift that cloud. Eckartshausen does not argue or speculate or offer proofs and authorities for what he says. information of the highest value is given about the Concealed Powers that exist behind the visible Craft. they enable us to judge for ourselves how far or how little each of us is a real initiate himself. no literary or artistic responsiveness to the teachings of Masonry comparable to that which manifested among leading intellectual minds on the Continent has ever occurred. The English Mason has been content with formal ceremonial and charitable and social aspects of the Craft and has neglected its deeper philosophical implications. they deal with matters which none but a real initiate can teach and none but an ardent seeker of Light can learn. + For no preceptor can be more definite than Eckartshausen in emphasising that theory must pass into personal effort and practice before that "cloud" which hangs over and darkens the sanctuary of every uniniated human soul can be lifted. whilst Mozart composed one of his chief works The Magic Flute under Masonic inspiration and Eckartshausen issued The Cloud upon the Sanctuary and other similar brochures. that a superficial reader may miss their profundity. It is a little humiliating to reflect that here in England. he is not yet ripe for learning the truths they impart. That "cloud" is the symbolic darkness of the`.