THE HOLY ROYAL ARCH OF JERUSALEM
DORMER MASONIC STUDY CIRCLE #155
W.Bro. B. C. Pottinger, LGR, President of the Circle
THE HOLY ROYAL ARCH OF JERUSALEM
Freemasonry under the English Constitution, reaches its climax and conclusion in the Order of the Holy Royal Arch. By the Articles of Union signed at the fusion of the "Antient" and "Modern" Grand Lodges in the year 1813 it was "declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the E.A., the F.C. and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch." Within the compass of the four stages represented is outlined the entire process of human regeneration.
The Royal Arch is an explanation and the completion of the Third Degree, of which at one time it formed part but there were good reasons for its detachment from that which now forms the Degree of a Master Mason, the principal being that the two parts in combination made an inconveniently long rite.
The Ceremony of the Third Degree inculcates the necessity of the mystical death and dramatises the process of such death and the revival therefrom, into newness of life. The Royal Arch carries the process a stage further by showing its fulfilment in the "exaltation" or apotheosis of him who has undergone it. The Master Mason's Degree might be said to be represented in the term of Christian theology by the formula. "He suffered and was buried and rose again," whilst the equivalent of the Exaltation Ceremony is, "He ascended into Heaven." The Royal Arch seeks to express the new and intensified life in which the candidate can be raised and the exalted degree of consciousness that comes with it.
The purpose of all initiations is to lift human consciousness from lower to higher levels by quickening the latent spiritual potentialities in man to their full extent through appropriate discipline. No higher level of attainment is possible than that which aims at union with the Divine, for in this stage the human consciousness merges with in the Divine consciousness and knows as God knows and that, being the level of which the Order of the Royal Arch treats ceremonially, it follows that freemasonry as a sacramental system reaches its climax and conclusion in that Order.
To attain the high level aimed at, involves as an essential prerequisite the total abnegations renouncement and renovation of one's original nature, the surrender of one's natural desires, tendencies and preconceptions, by such an habitual discipline and self-denial that by vigorous opposition to the natural life it will gradually atrophy and die down. As it is pointed out in the V. of the S.L. "He that loveth life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life shall keep it unto life eternal. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." As with a seed of wheat so with us men. If we persist in clinging to the present natural life we are familiar with, if we refuse to recognise that a higher quality of life is possible here and now, or if we are unwilling to make the necessary effort to attain it, we are like the corn of wheat which "abideth alone;" in other words we only succeed in frustrating our spiritual evolution. But if we are willing to "die" in the sense indicated, and will give the vital and Immortal Principle within us the chance to assert itself, the germ of true life will spring into growth in us and bear much fruit, and by the stepping stones of initiation we will rise from our dead selves to higher things than we can otherwise experience.
The mystical death is an inescapable law and condition of the soul's progress; "Death to self is the portal to true life." and there is no other way. The real secrets of the Royal Arch Degree are veiled from all those who do not realise this necessity of self-dying, for this is the mystery of the Royal Arch. But since this is a process, as you are fully aware, involving a "most serious trial of fortitude and fidelity" and a grapple with oneself from which many shrink, the Mystery systems have always exhibited an example for the instruction, encouragement and emulation of those who are prepared to make the attempt and the necessary sacrifice. This supreme example is called the prototype and represents the person of some great soul who has already trodden the same path and emerged triumphant. It matters nothing whether the prototype be one whose historic actuality and identity can be demonstrated, or whether he can only be regarded as legendary or mythical; the point being not merely to teach a historical fact, but to enforce a spiritual principle. In order that you may be able to see clearly that this exhibiting of a prototype has been adhered to in the mystery systems of all ages and among all nations, I propose to enumerate several of the best known:-
1. In the Egyptian system the prototype was Osiris who was slain by his malignant brother Typhon, but whose mangled limbs were collected in a coffer from which he emerged re-integrated and divinised.
2. In the Grecian Mysteries the prototype was Bacchus who was torn to pieces by the Titans, and born again.
3. In Scandinavia the prototype was Balder (the Sun god of Norse mythology) who is fated to die, and dies to the grief of all the Gods in the Pantheon.
4. In Graeco-Roman Europe the prototype was Mithra (Meaning "the friend"). The story is well known of the Roman military initiates who died at their post accepting the teaching that we know so well in the Craft - "he would rather suffer death than betray the sacred trust reposed in him."
5. In the Christian, which is the chief of all the systems, since it comprehends and re-expresses all the others, the greatest of the Exemplars or prototypes died at the hands of the mob, headed by three chief ruffians, Judas, Caiaphas, and Pilate.
6. In Freemasonry the prototype is Hiram Abiff who met his death as a result of a conspiracy among the workmen engaged in building the Temple, of whom there were also three principal ruffians. In the Ritual of Freemasonry the mystical death is dramatised more realistically than the resurrection that follows upon it, but nevertheless the resurrection is shown in the "Raising" of the Candidate to the rank of Master and his "reunion with the companions of his former toil." This "reunion" implies the reintegration of all his old faculties and powers in a sublimated state, in the same manner that the limbs of Osiris were said to reunite into a new whole and as the Christian Master withdrew his mutilated body from the tomb and re-assumed it transmuted into one of supernatural substance and splendour.
The Royal Arch is designated the Supreme Degree because it deals with a supremely high level of thought and instruction. The Ritual of this Degree was not compiled to accommodate the views of the philosophically untrained, as you will be able to find for yourselves when you apply for admission, and those properly instructed in the Craft Degrees are able to fully appreciate that they are "Veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." In this connection it must not be overlooked that the candidate for Royal Arch Masonry has technically passed already through a long period of probation in the Craft Degrees, Which include purification and mental discipline. During the process of the Craft instruction the candidate is deemed to have widened his views considerably, so that now, in all humility, he seeks the attainment of that Wisdom which is revealed to those that seek without hope of material reward, and which is withheld from the worldly wise. Therefore in this Degree we must consider the candidate as no longer a weak, sinful puppet of fate, who is ignorant of his own possiblities and blind to his place in evolution, but as a man who has taken his destiny in his own hands; has grasped the mighty scheme of the universe and understands that this earth (the planet in this instance) is an evolved theatre on whose stage he shall work out his evolution according to mathematical laws. The candidate for Royal Arch Masonry now comprehends something of the promise made to him "In the beginning:" "Ye shall be as Gods knowing good and evil" (Book of Genesis-Chapter 3, verse 5.). He now deliberately plucks the golden apples that grow high up on the Tree of Knowledge and is determined to eat them, no longer at the suggestion of the Serpent (symbol of the natural senses), for he has reaped the bitter experience of disobedience to divine guidance and can no longer be seduced by the senses, but at the direction of the Lord God who planted the tree in the midst of the garden. Thus the candidate has justified the injunction received in the First Degree "not to attempt to extort or otherwise unduly obtain the secrets of a superior degree," for he has now attained the degree when he is able to partake of the knowledge reserved for the perfected man, "patience and industry" having "entitled him to a participation" of the "secrets of his exalted degree." The candidate, we must also remember, as a Master Mason is now an Initiate, the Third Degree symbolizing the actual process of Initiation. The position of the Sq. and Comps. on the V. of the S.L., in the Third Degree testify to the fact that the inertia and negativity of his soul have become transmuted by the positive energy and activity of the Spirit. He is slow able to "work with both those points" on the "foundation" (the V. of the S.L., as divine substance) and is a vitally living and spiritually conscious being, threefold or a trinity in unity. As a Master Mason the candidate was further instructed in regard to "the position of the Sq. and Comps." that in that Degree the "whole is exhibited, implying that he is now at liberty (or liberated) to work with both those points in order to render the circle of his Masonic duties complete. " This experience has resulted in a re-arrangement in the physical organisation of the candidate, and as a result the "Light from Above" has descended into the candidate, whereas before it shone only as it were in the 'heavens," illuming the "dormer window" of his natural intelligence. Thus in the case of the candidate for the Royal Arch Degree the "Day Star from on high" is deemed to have descended into the very chequer-work material of his transient physical organisms, there to remain permanently as the fontal source of all consciousness. In theological language God has become Man, and Man has become Divinised in virtue of this descent and union. In Masonic language the Vital and Immortal Principle resident in the candidate has at last superseded his temporal life principle and established him upon a new centre of incorruptible life. This "sublime" or sublimated state is spoken of in esoteric terms as the "squaring of the circle," and is that problem which has baffled so many modern mathematicians, for it is not a problem in mathematics, but is an occult expression signifying that Deity, symbolised by the all-containing circle, has attained form and expression in a "square" or human soul. In the terms of the Christian theology this is the climax, the Mystery of the Incarnation accomplished within the personal soul. This work accomplished in the Third Degree is due to the action of the Geometrising Principle, and the new centre is described as the Grand Geometrician of man's personal universe, and this is what Plato referred to when he wrote "God geometrises," for the Euclidean and Pythagorean theorems, now regarded merely as mathematical demonstrations, were originally expressions, veiled in mathematical glyphs, of the esoteric science of soul-building or Free-masonry. The consequence of the integration within the candidate's organism of the "Sacred Symbol" is a redistribution of his component powers, a Reformation or re-polarisation, and the new condition is symbolised by an equilateral triangle with a point at its centre, which is worn, worked in gold, on the sash worn by the Companions of the Order. The significance of this Triangle is that the tripartite aspects of the Companion who wears it, that is the Spiritual, Psychical and Physical parts of him, now stand equalised and equilibrated around their common Life Principle. Yet each of these three divisions, spiritual psychical and physical, although in itself a unity, is philosophically a trinity in composition when subjected to intellectual analysis. Thus there are three aspects to each of the sides of the equilateral triangle, and these three aspects are ceremonially personified in the Chapter by nine officers. The disposition of the Officers in the Chapter is a symbol of the candidates perfected organism, which in accordance with the whole scheme of Craft Symbolism is polarised due East and West, the East signifying the spiritual pole and the West the Soul or psychic pole. Three are situated in the East, three in the West, and the three remaining Officers represent the subordinate links which connect the other two sides. Each of these triads is the reflex of the other, yet each is an organic unity in itself.
The Constitution of the Chapter, excluding the three Officers who are links between the East and the West, is therefore symbolised by the interlaced triangles, and this symbol forms the Jewel worn by the Companions. It is sometimes referred to as the Seal of Solomon, and exhibited on the pedestal of the Master in a Craft Lodge.
The spirit in man in its triple aspect represents the three high attributes of the Spirit, which are Holiness, Royal Supremacy, and Functional Power, and it is these three that are referred to in the Title of the Order, which is composed of three words, Holy-Royal- Arch. The psychical nature, which is known as the unitary human ego is also threefold in aspect, and these three aspects are an incarnated or physicalised reflex of the Spirit, which is unincarnated and overshadowing. For this reason the three aspects of the psychical nature are designated Sojourners, because they are but transient consociated pilgrims or wayfarers upon the plane of impermanancy, in contrast with the enduring life of the deathless Spirit, whose projection they are upon this lower world. The three aspects into which human personality is distributed are:-
1. A passive negative subconsciousness.
2. An active positive intelligence.
3. A Coordinating principle which is central and links the other two together.
These three combined constitute man's unitary individuality and may perhaps be easier explained as:-
1. Subconsciousness with its passive intuitional capacity.
2. Practical intelligence with its active and connecting powers of thought and understanding.
3. The Ego with its central and directive power of will, which is the principal of the three.
You will now be better able to appreciate how Freemasonry is illustrated by symbols, for the symbol of the interlaced triangles and their connection with a Royal Arch Chapter is a "hieroglyphical figure" which is not understood by the lay mind. Thus the system adheres to "signs and symbols," and the theoretic work is by oral transmission by means of the Ritual, combined with ceremonial not committed to writing. By this means perpetuated in modern Freemasonry the true doctrine has been preserved, and this is known as the "Secret Doctrine" or "Secret Tradition," or by the generic title "Signs and symbols of primordial man." The word primordial does not, of course, mean primitive, but means "existing from the beginning," or as we express it in Freemasonry.
"From time immemorial." This is the universal sign language which has "existed in all ages and among all nations," and which in Masonic language had its origin in "the East" (the Spiritual world), and "thence spread its benign influence to the West" (the material world). The method is technically named "Ideographic," which means the representation of idea by means of figures or symbols, which to the uninitiated are "veiled in allegory." In order to give you an example of the cryptic axioms used in the teachings of the Schools of Initiation, I will quote from the Pythagorean system the axiom "Every Monad is the parent of a Triad." This when used in connection with "Divine natures" or the spiritual, that is the Spirit in man, expressed the same ideas of the triple aspect as we have been discussing. This expressed the state of "being" or "to be," and in modern times this has been philosophically expressed in the famous proposition of the German philosopher Hegel who framed the metaphysical proposition that the essential ingredients of a given truth are three in number, which are first resolvable into thought and classified as:-
1. Thesis-the proposition containing the truth affirmed.
2. Antithesis-the expression of a contrast to the truth affirmed.
3. Synthesis-The operation by which the contrasts are united.
Thought is then resolved into the unity of the logical moments of:-
1. Simple apprehension.
Which are three purely spiritual acts, and this process Hegel defines as "The process of the Spirit." In simple language this is the philosophical explanation of the religious dogma of the Trinity or "three-in-one. " In ordinary language it means that "to be" is a spiritual unity which is three-fold in composition when submitted to intellectual analysis. This doctrine of the Trinity or "three-in-one" forms part of the teaching of all religions, whether taught openly or concealed, and in all cases it refers to the three aspects of Deity in manifestation and to those three aspects of Deity reflected in man. This conception brings us to the consideration of the doctrine of the Universe as the Deity in manifestation (organic) termed the Macrocosm or Great Universe, and Man as the Microcosm or the Universe in miniature. In Freemasonry the metaphysical Trinity is S.K.I., H.K.T. and H.A.B., and these Grand Masters represent both the three aspects of manifested Deity in the Greater Universe-Macrocosm-and the three reflected aspects in Man-Microcosm.
This fundamental Trinity in religious doctrine is found in both the exoteric and the esoteric teachings, and as the antiquity of the system perpetuated in modern Freemasonry is attested to by our Lectures, I wish to draw your attention to certain facts in this connection which are not to be found in the popular Masonic Manuals. As students in Masonic research we shall find that it is necessary to pay particular attention to the Lectures of the Craft, which amplify and illustrate the teachings communicated in the Ceremonies, and with regard to our claim made in the "E.A's Song"- "Antiquity's pride we have on our side" -we shall find that we are fully justified in this connection. As you should know, the Lecture of the Tracing Board which should be delivered to the Candidate after the ceremony in each Degree, purports to give him a diagram or "hieroglyph" of the work to be accomplished in the Degree, for his guidance and instruction. The Tracing Board of the First Degree is therefore important, when considered in conjunction with the Lecture delivered to the Candidate. This Lecture opens with the cryptic words "The usages and customs among Freemasons have ever borne a near affinity with those of the Ancient Egyptians," and here we have a definite clue as to where to look for further enlightenment. We must however, guard against the common error of endeavouring to interpret this statement in the light of the United Grand Lodge of England being the lineal descendant of a Grand Lodge in Ancient Egypt. It is the "usages and customs," or in modern language the philosophy and the method of its communication which are referred to, and the Lecture next proceeds to tell us of the Ancient Egyptians that "their philosophers being unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, concealed their particular tenets and principles of policy and philosophy under hieroglyphical figures and expressed their notions of government by signs and symbols." This is the important fact, and it concerns us as Masonic students to know precisely how there is a "near affinity" between the "usages and customs" of modern Freemasons and those of the Ancient Egyptians." It is first necessary to understand what constitutes a "hieroglyphical figure," and the explanation is that such a figure is a figure is a pictorial diagram or glyph, but in the particular sense of a "hieroglyph" it refers to a sacred glyph for "hieroglyphs" comprised the sacred writing of the Ancient Egyptians. The method is termed technically "ideaographic" that is the representation of ideas by figures and symbols. The key to the translation of the "hieroglyphs" of Ancient Egypt is found in the Hieratic Script, or "sacred writing" which was used by the initiates to conceal the esoteric doctrine from the uninitiated, and this is the method which is employed in the modern Masonic Ritual and Lectures. The "hieroglyphs" of modern Freemasonry, are the appointments of the Temple of Initiation, the symbolic Officers, and the Tracing Boards. The Ancient Egyptians employed two scripts, namely the Hieratic and Demotic, and the Demotic was the popular style used for the orthodox religious instruction of the people. Similarly modern Freemasonry uses two Scripts, the Hieratic which is the interpretation of the symbols to those studying Initiation, in the same manner as we are in this Study Circle, and the Demotic which is the printed Ritual and Lectures which are published for the information of those who accept the popular orthodox interpretation, and you will not fail to note that those of our Brethren who are concerned only with the Demotic script do not observe the sacred or Hieratic interpretation. The modern world is indebted to the archaeological activities of a Frenchman -M. Boussard- for a knowledge of the Hieratic and Demotic scripts, for it was he that discovered the famous Rosetta Stone (named after the place where it was found). This stone, which was brought to light in the year 1799, was important as the inscriptions were trilingual, or written in three languages-Hieratic script, Demotic script and Greek. The relationship between these three furnished the key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and established the relationship of them all-Hieratic script, Demotic script and Hieroglyphics- to the Roman alphabet. The Hieratic script was found to form a sacred alphabet, which on further examination was discovered to be a system of numerals described as the "power and potency of numbers and figures." The importance of this discovery is that the sound value of each letter in the sacred alphabet has its equivalent in other languages in a figure or figures in the calculation table. Again we must be careful not to fall into a common error, for it is a fact that nowadays the terms "numbers" and figures are considered as synonymous, but this is not correct. A "figure" is literally something made, a shape or form, and the word is derived from the latin figura, which means "a thing made." Thus this shape or form acts, in the case of the figures 1, 2, 3 etc. as a symbol. The word symbol is from the Greek - sym (together) and ballein (to throw) and means something thrown or put together to form a sign or picture of an idea. This is important as Freemasonry is "illustrated by symbols." What then is number? Here we again return to the "usages and customs" of the Ancient Egyptians. The root of the word number in Egyptian being nem. This word nem translated means "that unification or wholeness which includes all distinguishments from itself as hl solution, and from which all spring in rhythmic progression." In Egyptian nem and num are interchangeable, nem signifying the ONE as all containing' and num "the progression," the "u" being the sound symbol of that which links and makes possible a change of condition. Num therefore represents a coming forth, that is an emanation from one state to another. In modern language the roots nem and num are translated respectively into name and number, and their meaning is to individualism to make distinct, or to measure. You will thus see that there is an intimate connection between figures, numbers and names. Figures by their shape represent the original idea, and the names given to those figures are intended by their sound to convey the same idea as does the figure by its shape. Numbers are therefore names given to figures and represent the measures, or in other words the rhythms and thus under the generic title of numbers we get the rhytnmic unfoldment of all things.
In the Egyptian system of "Sacred Law," the fundamental or "First Trinity" is Osiris-IsisHorus, and this Trinity represents Father-Mother-Son aspects of Deity as the Macrocosm and also the three aspects reflected in Man the Microcosm. This is the Trinity of which Hegel propounded as a "Being;" it is resolvable into thought, and then to "three purely spiritual acts." It is significant that in the Egyptian Hieratic script the word khemt the sound symbol for the number three, means 'to produce in the mind" or "to think out a matter," for in both the ancient and modern philosophies the proposition is metaphysical. The perpetuation of the system of "philosophizing by numbers" was by way of the Grecian Mysteries, and therefore it should not surprise us that the Lecture on the Tracing Board of the First Degree informs us that Pythagoras "founded his system on a somewhat similar plan." The line of transmission is also clearly indicated when we read that Pythagoras was Initiated in Egypt, although the name Pythagoras does not indicate the name of a Greek philosopher as the popular world so confidently state. The Pythagorean system of philosophy is described as "a kind of arithmetical mysticism, the leading thought of which is that law, order and agreement obtain in the affairs of nature, and that those relations are capable of being expressed in number and measure." This could be equally applied to modern Freemasonry. The Pythagorean system primary Trinity was called "The Triad" which was resolved from the Monad or "One which includes all," and this also is a metaphysical proposition in line with the Ancient Egyptian and modern Freemasonry. The Lecture on the Tracing Board continues with the words "and many others of a more recent date have copied his example," and in order to identify the "many others" hinted at we need only to be aware of the transmission of the "usages and customs" as our present day Warrants of Constitution testily "in all ages and among all nations of the known world." I need not again remind you of the G.G.O.T.U., of the Second D. or of the fact that the philosophy attributed to Plato is summed up in the axiom "God Geometrises," but the full significance of this cannot be realised until one studies the Royal Arch Degree, for in this Degree a Jewel is worn by the Companions of the Order, which forms by its intersections a given number of angles which when reduced to their amount in right angles is equal to the five regular Platonic bodies. The value of the esoteric teaching of the doctrine lies in the fact that the basis of the Platonic bodies is the equilateral triangle, which is the symbol of the Trinity. In the historical era the metaphysical treatises written by the early Christian Fathers perpetuate the true doctrine, and in modern literature we are indebted to the Initiate Cornelius Agrippa for a record of these, for in his book-"De Occulta Philosophia" published in 1533, he mention among others, Saints Jerome, Origen, Gregory, Rabanus and Bede. Finally, the Hebrew Philosophers of the Middle Ages possessed the true doctrine in the Kabalah. The Hebrew word Kabalah means "that which is received," and the doctrine is known as " She Secret tradition in Israel." It claims to have been transmitted orally from the time that Moses received the "True wisdom" by its being divinely imparted to him. In connection with Modern Freemasonry it is significant that both Royal Arch Freemasonry and the Kabalah date the "true wisdom" from Moses, who in the Royal Arch Degree is referred to as our Grand Master, Moses. The doctrine of the Kabalah teaches that there exists an exact proportion between ideas and words, and that words are the first forms and articulate realisations of ideas.
Furthermore the Kabalah accepts the affinity between "being" or the state "to be" and numbers. It recognises a primary Trinity, and teaches that THREE is the root of all things, because form represents Unity, matter the Duad, and these together with the will (the bond between them) result in a Triad. It regards all things in manifestation or existence as constituted after the nature of numbers, and postulates the highest Abstract God as the indivisible. I trust that I have made it quite clear that there is a "near affinity" between the different branches of the "Ancient Wisdom" which our Lecture describes as "Ancient Egyptians," Pythagorean, "and many other of a more recent date." Also that the doctrine of the Trinity is a metaphysical concept.
The designation of the assembly in the Royal Arch Degree is no longer styled a "Lodge," but is termed a "Chapter. " The word "Chapter" is derived from the Latin word caput which means head, and this has reference to the capitular rank of the Royal Arch Mason, who by virtue of his headship or supremacy over his material nature has passed beyond mere Craftwork and governing the Lodge of his lower nature, which he has now made the docile instrument and servant of his spiritual nature. Henceforth the energies of such a man are employed primarily upon the spiritual plane. The "head" of the sevenfold material organism of man is the Spirit of man, and this Spirit consciously conjoined with the Universal Spirit is deity 's supreme instrument and vehicle in the temporal world. The physical organism and brain of a man who has attained the rank of a consciousness denoted by the Royal Arch Degree will have become sublimated and keyed up to a condition and an efficiency immensely in advance of average humanity. Physiological processes are involved in this sublimation which cannot be discussed at length in this paper, but I will observe that in such a man the entire nervous system contributes to charge certain ganglia and light up certain brain centres in such a way of which the ordinary man knows nothing. The nervous system provides the storage-batteries and conductive medium of the Spirit's energies in the same manner that telegraph wires are the media for transmitting electrical energies. It must not be overlooked that the Royal Arch Degree is the completion of the Master Mason Degree, for it is by reason of his Mastership that the true Master Mason knows how to control and apply those energies which culminate and come to self-consciousness in his head, in his intelligence. In this respect we may refer to the heavily veiled testimony in the V. of the S.L., the import of which is concealed effectively from the uninstructed reader. I he Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 27, verse 33 records that the Passion of the Great Exemplar and Master concluded "when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say a place of a skull;" this means that it terminated in the head or seat of intelligence and in d mystery of spiritual consciousness. The same truth is also testified to in the Craft Third Degree, when in the Lecture on the third Degree Tracing Board, it is stated that "The sprig of Acacia was placed at the head of the grave" of the Masonic Grand Master and prototype Hiram Abiff. The "Grave" is the soul of the Candidate, and the Sprig of Acacia typifies the latent Akasa (Sanscrit - Divine Germ) planted in that "Earth" (see Ceremony of Raising -- earth recently disturbed) and waiting to become quickened into activity in his intelligence, the "head" of that plane. As the Royal Arch Degree is a mystery of Spiritual consciousness and deals with the opening up of the Universal and Omniscient Mind, the cranium or skull is given prominence in the Master Mason's Degree, which is intended to point the way to "Golgotha."
The work of the Royal Arch Degree is in the same manner as that of the former Degrees, to be carried out by the candidate himself, and this work to be performed is that which is referred to in the Ancient Greek Apotheosis as the "Twelve Labours of Hercules." Hercules is the typical Hero of the Greek Mysteries (the word "Hero" was used in the Greek system in the same manner that Master is used in the Craft System to denote spiritual rank) and the work to be accomplished in the Supreme Degree for the fulfilment is represented as the Labours which he must undergo before he can claim the right to be "A son of his father." The Twelve Labours are too long to be included in this paper, but they are an essential part of our Masonic Instruction. The arduousness of these Labours is also graphically described in the great work of the Latin poet Virgil entitled Aeneid, or the story of Aeneas of Troy. The work is in twelve parts, corresponding with the 12 labours. Even when we are in the position to apprehend what is required of us, it is not work to be lightly undertaken, for we are approaching the "centre," that Holy ground of our being upon which only the humble can walk, that "earth" which only the meek can inherit. It is in this Ceremony that the "'Lost Word" is discovered, and the divine root of our being is again united with the questing mind. At first we fail to recognise and realise the fact, as we are in that state when 'the Light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not." Presently that darkness disappears, when "the day (the new consciousness) dawns and the shadows (the old mentality) fade away." After this discovery has been made in the introverted mind, there remains the concluding psychological process, which is to extrovert the knowledge and bring it forward into formalised brain consciousness, so that what the Spirit and the soul already know interiorly, the outer mind may also know exteriorly. Subjective awareness does not become knowledge until it has been cerebrated and passed through the process of distilisation in the brain and logical understanding. When this is accomplished there is a reciprocal and reflex action between the inner and the outer natures, which results in the illumination of the whole. This is described as the consummation of the mystery. The Great Light breaks and the vital and Immortal Principle comes to self consciousness in the candidate; the "Glory of the Lord" is revealed in him, and all his flesh sees it. This condition is not merely one of illumination by the Supreme Light; it is one of identification with it. At the outset of the Masonic Quest the Candidate affirmed that the predominant wish of his heart is "Light," but the impulse is not the candidate's own; it is that of the Light itself - the primal Light of light, the Divine Substantial Word-seeking self development in the candidate. Consciousness is that Light which has become self-perceptive by polarisation within an efficient physiological organism, and Man provides the only organism adapted to the attainment of that self-perception; but only when that organism is purified and prepared for the achievement. The preliminary Degrees in the Craft system outline the disciplines and purifications necessary, and it is left to the individual Brother to put the work into execution, having been provided with "guidance and instruction" and the encouragement and example of others who are also engaged in the same work of self "building." In each Degree the condition to be attained is set before the Craftsman in "draft" a "plan" and he is charged to be faithful in the execution of his labours. In the Royal Arch Degree that achievement is hypothetically effected. The condition attained by the illumined candidate in this Degree is the equivalent of what in Christian theology is known as Beatific Vision and in the East as Samadhi. It is also spoken of and written about as universal or cosmic consciousness, since the candidate is deemed to have transcended all sense of personal individualisation, time and space, and is co-conscious with all that is. With this symbolic attainment of the Beatific Vision the effective part of the Royal Arch Ceremony as an initiatory rite concludes and the candidate is presumed to have been exalted to that state when he is in conscious sympathy and identity of feeling with all that lives and feels, in virtue of that universal charity and limitless love which is the outcome of perceiving the unity of all in the Being of Deity. This is the Charity which the candidate at the commencement of his progress was told was the summit of the Freemason's profession. The Candidate sees too that there is a universe within as well as without him; he realises that the earth, the heavens, and all their contents, are externalisations, projected images, of corresponding realities present within himself. He understands that he himself is the measure of the Universe; he as the microcosm sums up and contains all that is manifested to his temporal intelligence as the vast special universe around him. Thus he realises that man as the perfected head of creation sums up in himself all the lower forms of life through which his organism has passed to attain that perfection.
The Twelve Labours of Hercules have a correspondence with the Twelve Tribes of Israel which are figures of their prototypes the Twelve Zodiacal sections of the heavens which could not exist or be discernable to the outward eye were they not also the phenomenalised aspect of a reality cognisable by the inward eye. The meaning of the word Israel is "ruling with God" and those who are gathered beneath these emblems are not intended to represent the tribes of a terrestrial nation, but they are the "Tribes of God," the heavenly hierarchies that constitute an archetypal canopy or holy royal arch above the visible creation, and that mediate to the visible creation the effluences of that all-embracing triune Spirit of Power, Wisdom and Love in which the entire composite structure lives, moves and has its being.
The V. of the S.L. is the sacramental token of that Living Word by whom all things were made, are still being made, and whose life is the light of men. The candidate who has recovered that lost word in the sense of regaining vital organic integration into it, and who, therefore is one with Life and Light, is thus able to verify this old creation story in its personal application to himself. He stands in the presence of his own "earth," the dense matrix out of which his finer being has emerged and of his "heavens" or ethereal body of substantialised radiance which now covers him with Light as with a garment. He is now able to discern that it was himself who at first was "without form and void," and in virtue of that "Fiat Lux " has at last become transformed from chaos into a form now perfect and lucid as to become a co-conscious vehicle of Divine Wisdom itself.
The Royal Arch ceremony is an allegorical exposition of the spiritual process regenerating within the Candidate himself under the urge of the inward Lord (Kurios- Egyptian) explained in our ritual under the allegory of Cyrus the king, and bids him depart from his captivity and go up and re-erect the Lord's house in his native land. It is the candidate himself who discovers amongst the rubble of his old self the plans and materials for the new structure.
As you have seen the Degree deals with a supreme human experience which none can fully appreciate without undergoing it. It is the greatest and momentous rite in Masonry, and no Brother who studies it comprehendingly and in its sacramental significance can withhold admiration either for the profound knowledge and insight of the Initiate who conceived it, or for the skill with which he compiled it and cast his knowledge into dramatic expression. The Craft work is unfinished without the attainment foreshadowed in the Royal Arch, but that in turn is impossible without the discipline of the preliminary labours. Many Brethren are hindered in their appreciation of the high degree aimed at in this climax of our work, and they accept the suggestion that such an attainment is not possible while we are here in the flesh, but 1 would remind you that such doubt is not warranted and the whole of our Masonic doctrine testifies to the truth of the fact that it is possible. Contrary to the orthodox religious doctrines which teach that advancement is the purpose of the life hereafter, Freemasonry teaches that the possession of a material organism is a necessary factor in advancing the evolution of the human spirit. Freemasonry teaches that the human organism is the vessel, the "crucible" in which our base metal has to be transmuted into gold. The human organism is the fulcrum furnishing the resistance requisite for the spirit's energising into unfoldment and selfconsciousness. Physical death is therefore not an advancement, but an interference with the work of regeneration. This truth is pointed out to us in the V. of the S.L., in the words "the night cometh when no man can work," and in the Master Mason's Degree we are therefore urged to "perform our allotted task while it is yet day" for physical death is the period when the soul passes from "labour to refreshment" until recalled to Labour once more to carry on with the task of self-conquest. Thus in the Royal Arch the Candidate is symbolically taught how each separate part and faculty of his nature, or as it were the zodiacal divisions of his own microcosm, contributes its purified essence to form a new organism "a new heaven and a new earth;" and how these essences like twelve diversified tribes assemble and coalesce and become fused into a unity or new whole forming "a city that is compact together." It is this "city," this blessed condition, which is mystically called "Jerusalem." The antithesis of this "heavenly city" is the confused Babylon city of this world, of which is written in the V. of the S.L., concerning all who are captive in her, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Book of Revelations, Chapter 18, verse 4). In brief the Royal Arch Ceremony sacramentally portrays the last phase of the mystical journey of the exiled soul from Babylon to Jerusalem the "passing of the veils" of matter and form, into the glorious liberty of T.T.A.T.G.M.H.