Masonic Light

SECRET TRADITION

By The Very Ills..... Bro... Edith Armour 33o

In Masonry, we find many references to something valuable which has been lost, and the never-ending search for that treasure. One distinguished Masonic writer has this classification. He says, "The evidence testifies to:

1.The Aeonian nature of the loss;
2. The certitude of an ultimate restoration;
3. In respect to that which was lost, the perpetuity of its existence somewhere in time and the world;
4. and, more rarely, its substantial presence under veils close to the hands of all.”

In spite of these references in all Masonic rituals, Masons for the most part regard the entire design as legendary with a merely symbolical meaning as applying to the ordinary life of man in the world and his relationship to his fellow-man. Among the thousands of Brethren under the American Grand Lodges, for example, there are very few who know about or care for any inner or spiritual significance.

Perhaps this lack of interest in hidden meanings has its source in the idea, so prevalent among orthodox Masons, that Freemasonry originated in the operative guilds. They confine their search to old Craft records which can throw no light whatever on the spiritual purpose of Freemasonry and the nature of the Masonic quest. And, so, we find a certain barren quality in the moral platitudes of the ordinary interpretations of Masonic symbolism.

The average Mason knows nothing of the living Secret Tradition which is concealed within the pattern of Freemasonry, and the path which leads to the gateway of Initiation, where shines the Star above the portal of that glorious Temple eternal in the heavens.

The few who may discover "the key to the secret vault" have been described as "brethren of the free spirit." Brethren who somehow are aware of the hidden treasure and who seek with an open mind; who understand that the mystical Mount of Heredom is not a mountain on the face of the earth but "the hill of the Lord," the secret place of the Holy Grail. That which is said to have been lost is not actually lost; it has only been forgotten. It can be found at any time, and actually is found by those who seek with vision, concealed "under veils close to the hands of all."

The Masonic ritual, as it exists today, simply states the fact, in symbolical form, that there is something of great value to be found. Even though this statement apparently has no practical application to life for the average Mason; nevertheless, for the few it shines like a great light, guiding them along that ancient path which leads to the Temple not made with hands.

To quote Bro. Waite: ”The Secret Tradition is concerned with the vision that begins in faith, and with its attainment, by the opening of that door which gives upon the Infinite." In the sacred mysteries of long ago, the existence of "that door which gives upon the Infinite" was known to all people; the divine nature of man was recognized as the "Hidden Light," as they called it. Those who so desired could undertake the task of preparing themselves to explore those deeper layers of consciousness and thus to serve in the inner sanctuary through which divine forces were distributed for the helping of the world.

In Co-Masonry, we have been given the special work of restoring the potency of those Mysteries. We find this directive in the words of the Mystic Charge of the First Degree: "to pour the water of esoteric knowledge into the Masonic vessels," and we are told also that as initiates of the Co-Masonic Order we are specially called to this work.

The Founders of the Co-Masonic Order had no idea of any spiritual background in Freemasonry. They called themselves "Free-thinkers," and their philosophy was atheistic. They did not accept the principle of a Divine Intelligence as the directing agency in the Universe; Human reason was supreme; there was nothing beyond the mind of man; and so, all their work was dedicated to the glory of Humanity.

The organization did not extend beyond the boundaries of France and such extension was not contemplated by the Founders. The desire of those French Masons was to give women political, economic, and social equality with men. The movement was definitely feminist and political - designed to provide an additional weapon against the efforts of the clerical party to gain control of the French government; "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was the slogan.

But the really important achievement of this effort was the admission of women to the privileges of ancient Freemasonry. This was accomplished and the foundation laid on which could be constructed a Temple suitable for the restoration of the Mysteries. The admission of women was the first step. Then the new impulse was given by the Head of All True Freemasons, and Bro. Besant was made the leader of the Order in the British Empire.

Immediately the inner purpose of the movement was apparent; there was the recognition of the Great Architect and His indwelling life in the Universe. There was the awareness of that line of evolution known as the Angelic Kingdom and their cooperative association with the human kingdom in Masonic ceremonies. And finally, the open door to the ancient path which has existed from time immemorial in the Mysteries but which, in modern days, had been lost sight of, buried under the debris of materialism.

In the words of Dr. Carl Jung: "We moderns are faced with the necessity of rediscovering the life of the Spirit; we must experience it anew for ourselves. It is the only way in which we can break the spell that binds us to the cycle of biological events. In my picture of the world," he says, "there is a vast outer realm and an equally vast inner realm. Between these two stands Man, facing now one way and now the other, according to his mood or disposition, taking the one for the absolute truth by denying or sacrificing the other."

Brethren, I am talking about this subject today because, as time goes by and those who were given direct knowledge of the goal to be achieved in Co-Masonry, one by one, depart to the Eternal Grand Lodge, the living quality of the great spiritual truths gradually lessens in brilliance, and the outer form could become, "a massive doorway leading nowhither." And, so, it is important and necessary to restate those eternal values and to remind ourselves that we are the custodians of a precious heritage which must be cherished and passed on to those who come after us "pure and unsullied" as we received it.

The vast outer realm of the world, as Dr. Jung calls it, is very insistent, and the pressure is strong. Man has acquired "delusions of grandeur" regarding his mind and has become arrogant in his new sense of power over the forces of Nature. This could lead to complete destruction were it not for the few, comparatively, who know that man is a divine being and that his destiny is to cause that divine spark to grow into a mighty flame of spiritual illumination.

lamblichus, the Alexandrian philosopher, in writing of the Mysteries, says: "Using the reason alone Man can never come to any true realization of what he is in himself; that is, he can never understand by the mind alone that he is an eternal spiritual entity - a brilliant star shining by the light of its own essence." lamblichus makes it quite clear that "not by discursive reasoning or through philosophical thinking alone does one come into fellowship with the gods. It is through the awakening of the higher spiritual powers by means of the rites of theurgy that the consummation of the long ages is affected."

Now "theurgy" is simply another name for magic. The magic of the Masonic ritual, let us say, is the modern vehicle of the Ancient Mysteries through which the Seeker for the Light may find reality. This great purpose is beautifully stated by Bro. Wilmshurst: "The union of the personal Soul with its Divine principle. Masonry has no other objective than this," says Bro. Wilmshurst. "All other matters of interest connected with it are but details subsidiary to this supreme achievement."

Freemasonry is ceremonial magic. It is a mystical system established in the dim ages of the past by those spiritual teachers who were the guides of our infant humanity, and which remains today, the chalice of the wisdom. It is unchanged in its inner potency= and ever available to all who seek. The Neophyte entering a Masonic Lodge has this wonderful opportunity to find the Ancient Path, but that "door which gives upon the Infinite" will open only for the candidate whose deepest longing is for spiritual understanding.

In thinking of this aspiration in the heart of every true seeker, one remembers the well-known Eastern prayer:

"From the unreal lead me to the Real,
From darkness lead me to Light,
From death lead me to Immortality."

In this way, the quest begins when the earnest candidate crosses the threshold of the Lodge and steps into another world. As of old in the mysteries of Egypt and Greece, so today in the mysteries of ancient Freemasonry the "way to the heavenly city" is charted, even though it is said to be "veiled and hard to find."

In the words of Regardie in his book, The Tree of Life:

The supreme object of all magical ritual is the building of the pyramidal apex and the installation of the battlements on the intellectual tower; in other words, the communion with the Higher Self. For every man that is the most important step and no other compares with it in importance and validity until this one union has been accomplished.

It brings with it new powers, new extensions of consciousness, and a new vision of life. It throws a brilliant ray of illumination on the hitherto dark phases of life, removing from the mind the clouds which inhibit the glory of the spiritual light.

With the attainment of the Vision and the Perfume, one sees the entire field of natural existence literally ablaze with a divine incomparable splendor, so that even the trees lift up their heads to the skies, and the grasses in the green meadows chant gently in praise and thanksgiving, offering hymns of glory to the Supernal Light.

This mystical system, Brethren, actually has two great purposes which are closely related and which move along simultaneously. One we have described. It has to do with the individual and his search for reality.

Bro. Wilmshurst has this final warning to the candidate:

It is never to measure what he finds within the Lodge by his own opinions or by the same standard of judgment which he applies to things without it. Many Brethren go wrong here by lacking humility and teachableness. They try to look at matters of the Inner life with the same eyes as those of the Outer life. They reserve their ideas of Masonry till they see how far they can square it with the other views and beliefs which they hold, and they seek to apply their worldly wisdom to a Wisdom which is hidden and not of this world.

Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned and not from the standpoint of unenlightened opinion and unspiritual perception. He who enters the Lodge in search of Light should leave all his previous learning behind him with his garments and loose the shoes of personal opinion from off his feet.

The second great purpose of Freemasonry is to construct channels through which spiritual forces evoked in the ceremonies may flow out to the world for the helping of all men. This is accomplished by the cooperation of the angels who have been assigned to this work.

In Co-Masonry, these Angelic Brethren are recognized - thus enhancing the effectiveness of the channels created. In other Masonic systems, the channels are less effective because of the ignorance of the members even though the unseen Brethren of the Angelic world strive to carry out the work to which they are called in the opening ceremony of every Masonic lodge. Wherever a Co-Masonic Lodge is working, this important service to the world is performed. Through the Heavenly Man which is the Lodge, the forces evoked by the magic of the ritual are sent out into the atmosphere of the world.

Now the world "atmosphere" is a rather vague term, but in this connotation it has a very definite meaning. It is the layer of subtler matter, in varying degrees of density, which extends from the surface of the earth. It has been called a "dynamic magnetic" area and has the quality of transmitting impulses of various kinds.

We are well acquainted with the interest of science in the fields of electronics and radiesthesia, and in the more recent research in the field of thought as a force, all operating through this invisible medium of the atmosphere. It is in this world of subtler matter that the work of a Masonic lodge is carried on. It is a definite scientific activity, accomplished today through the mechanism of the Masonic ritual as it was long ago through the ritual of the Mysteries.

It is said that evil is the absence of good, but it is well to remember that force of any kind is neutral in itself but can be used for constructive purposes. Man, possessing the powers of the Creative Logos, can make use of force for good or evil. But though man inherently has the power to misuse force and create evil, his efforts in this direction are limited in the long run. There is the overall plan of the Great Architect which will prevail in the end. Through the process which is evolution, individuals unfold their potential divine nature, called in Masonry the "perfecting of humanity" and eventually attain the stature of the perfect man.

The content of the "dynamic magnetic" area enveloping the earth determines the condition of life on the planet. It is the great storehouse of good and evil forces generated by man. When the malefic force becomes excessive it is precipitated and the world is upset. We have wars and disasters of various kinds. We are appalled by the horrors committed by human beings and the depth of misery on every side. But all of this is in accordance with natural and cyclic laws. It is a cleaning-up process when conditions have become too bad. Progress is temporarily retarded, and the balance must be restored before a new era can begin.

Freemasonry is one of the great agencies which works for good and which prevent the complete overwhelming of the world by the powers of darkness. This, Brethren, is the reason for our coming together as Masons and performing the age-old magic of the ritual.

When this Great Work is understood, there will never be the idea, which some Brethren have, that because the membership is small and there are no candidates to be initiated, the Lodge is not doing anything and might as well not hold meetings or, at least, not very often. The admission of candidates is incidental.

The true work of the Lodge is the meeting; the gathering of the Brethren is the channel. The dynamic reality of that channel has been experienced by countless Brethren who have found that participating in the creative work of the Lodge vitalizes the very atoms of their bodies. At the close of the meeting, they feel refreshed and renewed.

And so, Brethren, we have not only the great privilege of sharing in the building of this channel, which Bro. Leadbeater has called "one of the mightiest" tools in the hands of the Spiritual King of the world, but also the enhanced effectiveness of ourselves as individuals.

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