Sunday, December 28, 2008
These are in the Entered Apprentice degree of the AASR Rituals.
I know these dissertations are not given in the Preston/Webb rituals I recieved, and after reading them, I wonder how a candidate would respond to these after the Chamber of Reflection and first being brought into the Lodge.
I would love to hear from other masons on how they would react and feel if these were related to you when first embarking on the journeys involved in the EA Degree.
WM- The partial state of nakedness in which all must be introduced to our mysteries constitutes the first symbolic lesson, and personifies the primal state of man after his creation. Although surrounded with every element of comfort, he found himself with no other resource than that of his bodily strength and powers, which he knew not how to use in consequence of his primitive ignorance. This is symbolized by the darkness to which you have submitted yourself. In that helpless condition he must have been a prey to great anxiety, and his loneliness must have been oppressive. The puncture which you have felt on your left bare breast is also the symbol of those first sufferings of his mind, and of the loneliness which overshadowed his heart. The future and the object of his creation were inexplicable and a source of great uneasiness. Many an idea, no doubt, arouse in his mind suggesting what he might do to make his way through the immensity which had suddenly unrolled itself before him, in all the brilliant glory of the new creation, but want of experience led him to uncertain views, and he found himself a slave, bound down by his own perplexities in the abode of liberty, which is symbolized by the cord which appears to restrain you of the free use of your limbs, and keeps you defenseless in the hands of an unknown guide. In a word, your condition is intended to impress upon your mind the circumstances attending the introduction of man upon earth, his entrance to a new and untried existence, with a world to conquer and subdue. So with you, you enter upon this new world naked, blind and helpless, and chaos appears to reign supreme. Let your mind seek for light, truth and liberty in this new world, and they will surely come to you. Is it of your own free will and accord, unactuated by motives of curiosity or self—aggrandizement, that you have asked to be initiated into the mysteries of this Ancient Institution? (Candidates answers.) It behooves you then to give heed to the difficulties which will beset you on every side. The path of life is strewn with care and disappointment; every step in knowledge, which leads to light, calls for labor. So here, your every step will be attended with fatigue, difficulties and trials, not to say dangers, which will call for the exercise of patient endurance on your part, accompanied by a persevering effort and presence of mind. Are you ready, calmly and steadily, to encounter them? (Candidate answers.) It being so, we now leave you for a short time to commune with your own thoughts.
W.M.—Like all institutions, whether sacred or profane, Masonry has not escaped the tongue of envy, jealousy and uncharitableness. It has been said by thoughtless persons that our mysteries are but childish plays; that we meet for the purpose of passing our leisure hours in the revels of the banqueting hall; that the tendency of the Institution and the observance of its obligations and precepts is to make us forgetful and negligent of the duties and love we owe our families, and that we even propagate pernicious doctrines in matters of religion and politics. Without assuming to ourselves perfection in all things, we sincerely believe that you will soon discover that we are not amenable to these accusations; that they are unfounded and proceed from the envious and malicious. On the contrary, it is chief among our aims to attain to a true knowledge of our duties to God to our country, and to our fellow—beings. Now, if you have been prompted to approach our portals and ask for initiation to these ancient mysteries of Freemasonry with no more praiseworthy motive than the gratification of a vain and idle curiosity, regardless of the consequences of imposing on our kind indulgence we would most earnestly advise you to withdraw, reminding you that in so doing your trials will probably terminate in a manner quite different from what you have been led to expect. Can we rely upon the earnestness of your determination to become a faithful, honorable, upright Freemason, true to your fellow—men? (Candidate answers.)
W.M.—We believe that amidst the stupendous works of Nature with which man found himself surrounded at his first appearance on earth, an inspiration from above informed him of his physical and mental powers, placing him at the head of all animated creation, and that on viewing the splendors of the heavens above and the wonders of the earth beneath, he saw the handiwork of an infinite, all—wise and beneficent being, calling for unbounded adoration and praise as the Author and Creator of all things, believing himself to be the image and direct heir of his heavenly Father. In subsequent ages man's heart became subject to evil passions, and his great source of comfort and intelligence was obscured by the appalling darkness of all evil—and paganism, with all its attendant degrading slavery, succeeded to the knowledge of the true God, and man was not far removed from the beasts of the forest. In all ages we find that there were a few wise and righteous men, who strove with all their power to stem the mighty torrent of ignorance and of mental and political degradation. They had to contend against the mightiest for evil, among the religious and civil institutions of their time. We find these wise men uniting in secret societies for the acquisition of strength, for the preservation of the knowledge of the true God, and for the restoration of man to his original political and mental liberty and dignity of character. By the blessings of God they were powerfully instrumental in raising man to the high position in which we now find him. We, as direct successors of those learned and philosophical societies, have a great work to do in the careful preservation of the wisdom and virtues of those true founders of our ancient and honorable Institution.
W.M.—Mr. __________, will you please tell us what you understand by the term virtue?
W.M.—In the same manner as there is in the universe a physical light which spreads its rays over the wonders of the earth in order that man may see, admire and avail himself of them, so is there in every man an inward and intellectual light which diffuses itself in his mind, which shows what he owes to himself, and to his fellow—beings. A continued and sincere obedience to that inward light or inspiration is what we call virtue, because it depends upon us either to exercise or refuse that obedience, and we cannot lay claim to those divine qualities which distinguish man from all created beings, without a judicious and active exercise of reason in guiding us in our selection of good from evil. Virtue is, therefore, that energy and tendency of the mind and feelings which determines us in doing that which is good, beautiful and true.
W.M.—Mr. __________, will you please tell us what you understand by the word vice? (Candidate answers.)
W.M.—Vice in our estimation is the reverse of virtue and results from a perverted judgement in the exercise of our powers of selection, and leads us to adopt the evil rather than the good. We consider a man to be vicious who, instead of obeying the inward light or inspiration which prompts to all that is good, beautiful and true, gradually falls into an inclination to abuse his sensual powers and suppress his morality without consideration of the duties that he owes to himself and to humanity. These three subjects, the ideas concerning Deity or universal being, virtue and vice are at the foundation of the purest philosophy, comprise the whole of its moral teachings, and are susceptible to infinite development. We had briefly to examine them with you preparatory to your initiation, for we can receive no one without being well satisfied that the mind and heart are in a proper state gradually to attain to a participation of our mysteries and purposes.
You now have several voyages to undergo. Are you prepared?
Not until after this Light is garnered can the candidate proceed through the journeys/trials that await the candidate.
This seems to be more enlightening compared to the Preston/Webb rituals and does seem to be more in line with the 18th century movement of Freemasonry.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
BIND YOURSELF WITH THE ILLUSION OF THE GRAND LODGE's INFALLIBILITY AND YOU SHALL NEVER CROSS THE PATH OF LIGHT!
BELIEVE THE HEART, MORE THAN THE EYES, FOR THE EYES, THEY FOLLOW REASON AND REASON IS BASED UPON WHAT ORDINARY MEN SEE; THEY DO NOT SEE ALL THAT IS THERE, SO REASON IS IN PART A LIE!
IF YOU FOLLOW A LIE YOU WILL NEVER GET TO A TRUE PLACE.
MARK MY WORDS APPRENTICES, I HAVE BEEN THERE. IN THE DWELLING-PLACE OF THE MASTERS, WERE THE DOORS ARE OPENED TO THE STARS, WHEN THEY CHOSE TO OPEN THEM, FOR THEY HAVE TRANSCENDED DEATH, THOUGH ARE WAITING STILL TO BE EVERYTHING FOLLOWING THE TRACE OF THE GREAT AMON.
RED SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE HEART, AND YOU SHALL KNOW WHAT LAYS IN THERE, FOLLOW IT AND THIS MAP USUALLY NEVER FAILS.
IF YOU STEP INSIDE THE CAVE, THE TEMPLE, THE ANSWER TO YOUR SEARCH, KNOW THAT YOU ARE FAR FROM THE END, BUT THE TIME YOU TAKE TO REACH IT, IS PART OF YOU.
BE THE MASTER OF THE CHANGE, TIME IS A SERVANT!
Monday, December 15, 2008
"Every man who is prepared to die rather than renounce TRUTH and JUSTICE is "MOST TRULY LIVING", for Immortality 'ABIDES IN THAT MAN'S SOUL', and to him there can be no DEATH.
To develop such men was the Aim and End of all Ancient Initiation.
It is the Aim and End of PHILOSOPHIC INITIATION and the becoming of one of the BROTHERS OF FREEMASONRY.
Measure all things by REASON and prove them by APPLICATION."
"Dost thou think I would give to the mere pupil, whose qualities are not yet fully TRIED, powers that might change the face of the social world?
The last secrets are instructed "only to him of whose virtue[moral strength and personal responsibility] the Master is convinced."
"It is Labor[personal effort] itself that is the greater purifier of the mind; and by DEGREES the secret will grow upon[will be revealled by the Inner Light] thyself as the mind becomes riper[prepared] to receive them."
Monday, December 01, 2008
“The Other Masonic Rites”
-New currents in American Freemasonry
By our Investigating Reporter From the Freemasons Press
In the two hundred and seventy years of American Craft Freemasonry, the dominant ritual in use by most of the Jurisdictions was the ritual of the York Rite Craft Degrees. Some European scholars call it “American Rite”-(Preston-Webb) in order to emphasize differences between the American and English versions of the York Rite degrees. Most of the Jurisdictions came up with their “standard” versions of the York Rite ritual prescribing it as the only allowed work for use in the Lodges under their protection. Of course, there were few exemptions. Several Lodges (no more than two dozen in the whole of the USA) in some of the Jurisdictions, generally ones that predated the formation of the particular Grand Lodge, were granted dispensation to use their original ritual works, as a part of the Lodge “landmarks”. This way, some of the American Freemasons were able to experience Scottish Rite Craft degree work or some of the older forms of the English workings; but that was as far as the variations in the Craft ritual experience in the US would go.
At the same time in the continental Europe were developed numerous craft workings within a various Rites, and unlike in the United States, in many Jurisdictions Craft Lodges were allowed to choose the Rite they would practice. This was particularly case in the France and Belgium. This way, over a period of time, numerous Craft workings were developed. Today, the following Rites are practiced in Craft Lodges of the continental Europe: Craft degrees of the Ancient accepted Scottish Rite, Traditional French Rite, Modern French Rite, Rectified Scottish Rite, Swedish Rite, Schroeder Rite, Emulation Rite, Domatic workings, York Rite, as well as variations of the Rites already mentioned.
Recent appearance of the new Masonic Jurisdiction in the US, the Grand Orient of the USA, brought new opportunities for the ritualistic experience. Constitutionally, being a confederation of the private Lodges, Grand Orient allows individual Lodges under their protection to pick the Rite of their choice for the use in the particular Lodge. So far, there are six Rites available for the use in GOUSA Lodges: Modern Restored (French) Rite, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Rectified Scottish Rite, Cosmopolitan Rite, Emulation Rite, and American (Preston-Webb) standard Rite. The introduction of the Modern French Rite was followed by the formation of the first Chapter for the practice of the four higher degrees (or Orders) of the Modern French Rite. So far, there are three Lodges of the Grand Orient of the USA practicing Modern Rite: The Intrepid Lodge (Los Angeles, CA), Cosmopolitan Lodge (New York, NY), and Thomas Paine Lodge (Paris, France).
In many ways, ritualistic activities of the members of the Grand Orient of USA are pioneering. Modern (French) Rite has never been translated before in English. Set of Officers of the Lodge is different than in the American York Rite. Same is true in the case of the Rectified Scottish Rite chosen to be practiced by the newly established Lodge from Grand Rapids (MI), where at the same time Lodge Euclid practice Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. Cosmopolitan Rite is the result of the efforts within the GOUSA to restore some of the original workings of the 18th century Craft Rituals and to use them in its unsoiled form, free from all changes and additions that occurred over the period of time. Cosmopolitan Rite is practiced by the Sirius Lodge from Atlanta (GA).
These developments in the American Free Masonry are certainly great refreshment in the bloodline of all those Freemasons who like to do and to study various ritual works. Lodges of the Grand Orient of USA, cosmopolitan in their nature, allow visitations and affiliations of the Freemasons members of the “regular” Jurisdictions. The requirements for membership in any of the Lodges of the Grand Orient of USA are similar to those of the regular Jurisdictions with several differences: The potential candidate is neither asked of his religious beliefs nor to confirm his belief in God. Members of the GOUSA believe in the freedom of conscience, mutual tolerance, respect of oneself and another, as well as in the separation of the church and state. Usually it takes two to three years to go through the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry, during which time, Apprentices and Fellowcrafts are asked to write papers on the symbolical and philosophical subject and present them in the Lodge, in order to prove their progress in the Free Masonry. It is general understanding that Freemason is not working only on his own ethical improvement, but also on the improvement of the society in which he lives. Many members of the GOUSA are active participant in the public discussions on the important social issues in our society.
It is important to mention that members of the Grand Orient of the USA understand that big number of the mainstream Freemasons don’t share their approach to Free Masonry. Nevertheless, they don’t want to enter into quarrels with those who oppose their right to exist and work, but they wish to practice their Royal Art in peace and harmony, with gentle and welcoming words and fraternal greetings to the Universal Brotherhood of Freemasons, regardless of their understanding of Freemasonry, race, or gender. So, we may be pro or contra their understanding of Freemasonry, but it seems that they are working hard in the quarries of Freemasonry.
It remains to be seen what future will bring to the American Freemasonry, and particularly to the Grand Orient of the USA. Practice of the many different Rites certainly looks very attractive to those willing to learn more about Freemasonry.