OUR DAILY BREAD – a blog for esoteric living

For those who see life as a Mystical Adventure

Archive for Freemasonry

Book Review – The Meaning of Masonry

The Meaning of Masonry – W.L. Wilmshurst momwilmhurst

My father gave me this book as a gift right before I got my First Degree in the Blue Lodge. The author does a very good job of covering some of the deeper aspects of the Craft within Freemasonry as well as very good commentary on some of the historical background of the degrees and Rites.

The real value in this piece, is the abstraction of the Degree initiations and their respective symbolism and philosophy. While there are many, many books on masonic symbolism (see series on Symbol), this book does a very good job of tying the core Blue Lodge journey together with the articles and symbols (example: a very good section on the Apron) associated with each degree through the Royal Arch. The author’s writing style is very natural and flowing and a sense of quiet reverence and respect is felt when reading it. There is mention and commentary on the further degrees and Rites as well as a refreshing dive into the mystical heritage (Mystery Schools) and alchemical tenets of the Order.

While the original publishing is relatively dated ( 1927; my copy is a 1980 revised edition), the content is no less applicable today as it was then. In many cases, the tempo and subject matter are better suited than most of the more recent published works, for the newest generation of Brethren joining for esoteric reasons, rather than purely fraternal or political ones. As I mentioned earlier, this book does have sentimental value to me ( my father and many family members are active in Freemasonry, Eastern Star etc ), but I genuinely see this work as a solid addition to any personal Masonic library… Knife and Fork Masons included 😉

51wvBqldjgL._SL160_
Amazon

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part III

In Parts I & II of this series we discussed how symbol is experienced in different ways by people at different points of advancement on the path and the nature and methods of how symbol is interpreted in my mind. We touched upon the role of symbol in Pharaonic Egypt and the unfolding of consciousness as one begins to see symbol at work in the world around them. Today we’ll see some examples of how the use and application of symbolist teachings can contribute to a richer life and give insight into sacred and esoteric texts.

Once one has a grasp of symbol and the symbolist teachings that are imparted, it becomes easier to comprehend the messages and teaching contained in symbol and over time, allows for the initiate or student to move much faster. As a simple, somewhat recreational example, a trip to Washington D.C. by any Freemason with knowledge of Masonic and esoteric symbol becomes a truly amazing and eye-opening experience. Which, I can say is not only great fun, but in some ways quite moving. A completely new world is unveiled and it is quite an amazing experience that I do not have words to properly express.

As symbolist teachings become engrained and are active in the mind, one will begin to see the fundamental relationships between not only esoteric texts, but the traditional religious texts and articles of faith left to us by pervious generations as well as previous epochs. In regards to Egypt, a trip to the standing Egyptian Temples becomes a mind-blowing experience. In this case, we find not only a massive archive of hieroglyphic  knowledge condensed in the symbols that adorn the walls and pillars or the structures left from that ancient time but also that the temples are themselves the teachings to be understood by current initiates. The harmonic proportions, sacred geometries and number theory contained in the actual structures begin to speak and impart knowledge to the prepared mind. Even one temporally removed by 4,000 years can still reap the benefits of the esoteric tradition today (see intro video on Magical egypt). In the case of the Temple at Luxor, the teachings reveal the nature of the human body expressed in the temple itself. In oldest part of the structure, the Holy of Holies, we find the center of the brain and the pineal gland (third eye). As you move from the top to the bottom of the temple, you are guided through the entire human physiology ending at the bottom, or feet of a human structure. From the esoteric lunar influence of tides in relationship to respiration to the semi-incomplete interconnected carvings on the opposing faces of a granite wall representing thought traversing the mind as they create a complete picture when superimposed. The experience is unlike any other.

As we look at disparate cultures and how symbol can still be relevant, I am reminded of a story of Alexander the Great. Alexander of Macedon conquered most of the known world during his lifetime and was himself an initiate of the Egyptian Mystery Schools. As he ventured across the eastern continents, we was known to take part in the religious worship of the peoples he conquered. He saw the fundamental truths and symbolic equalities in the religious allegory and rituals and could interpret those teachings within a common framework that transcended difference and religious fervor.

A serious student of symbolist teaching will eventually be confronted with the religious texts of the modern world. At this point, the texts loose all semblance of historical and chronological validity and the initiate sees and begins to understand the greater truths exposed to them. The expression of principles and laws, universal truths and allegorical interpretation lay in full view of the initiate and a completely new text appears. As these texts are experienced in a symbolic way, a deeper respect is often found and in many ways, an entirely new history is experienced.

This concludes our brief introduction to symbol and symbolic language. If there is continued interest by the readers of this blog, I will go into further detail on this subject. I hope you enjoyed this piece and I wish you well on your adventure ahead.

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part I

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part II

Movie Review – Magical Egypt

I own the complete 8 DVD set of this series, and honestly can’t say enough about the information contained within. Some of the content was edited prior to the new DVD releases, due to consideration for public broadcast, which originally gave me pause as to a review, but this series continues to have an incredible wealth of knowledge to dispense to anyone active in an initatic order or for seekers on the path. From the original construction dates of the Osirion and the Sphinx and the extended Pharaonic lineage back to the Shemsu Hor to the realities of Transition and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. While there is some subject matter discussed “out of school”, it is of a more subtle nature and difficult to discern. I always pick up on new bits of info every time I watch an episode. Unique and invaluable. As a Rosicrucian and Freemason, I find this body of work indispensable and genuinely quite inspirational.

51eAytqyHrL._SL160_
Starring: John Anthony WestLon Milo DuQuette Director: Chance Gardner 2005, 60 minutes
more about “Movie Review – Magical Egypt“, posted with vodpod

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part II

In Part I of this series, we talked briefly about the role of symbol in regards to the initiate’s development and how symbol can be understood on multiple levels by people of different backgrounds and training. Today we’ll revisit symbol and its use in Pharaonic Egypt and see how symbol manifests in the mind to various degrees.

As one begins to study and understand hieroglyphics in Temple context, it becomes clear that hieroglyphics do not have a single or linear (one to one relationship) meaning attached to them. In some cases, hieroglyphics can be entire schools of thought collapsed into a single image or logos; for example, a bull cow. The hieroglyphic of a bull doesn’t simply represent the animal. It can represent many concepts and principles such as strength, virility, force, the Age of Taurus etc. It is in the deeper meanings and principles that initiation and symbol concerns itself.

Typically, there are three levels, or expressions of symbol at work, depending on the person perceiving them. At the first level is the common, or profane meaning, which is the standard expression of a symbol for the masses. Secondly emerges the esoteric expression which can be specific to a group or time or may be guarded information. Lastly is the sacred; the ineffable, which is dynamic and rarified in nature. Sacred symbolism exists in the mind of the initiate or student who has done their work and is ready to receive the gifts of knowledge to be imparted to them. Sacred symbolism can not be taught or explained. It must be experienced or “seen”. This leads us to the nature of understanding and comprehension of symbol.

The keys to understanding and experiencing symbol, lie within the mind. While it is possible to interpret and understand symbol using just linear (rational though) or intuitive  (creative thought) methods, the resulting knowledge will be truncated, static, one dimensional and passive in nature and will not serve to impart new knowledge. It is the union of the disparate paths of thought that unite and shine light on symbol. By utilizing both hemispheres of thought, the rational and intuitive, it allows for free thought and higher consciousness to occur. This holistic or “holy” state allows for “seeing” within the mind’s eye or third eye to facilitate dynamic thought and allows for the comprehension of great knowledge. The opening of the third eye enables those on the path to integrate seemingly disparate and unrelated concepts, to understand abstract thought processes and see natural cycles, laws and dynamic principles at work. This new way of thinking and the knowledge garnered therein, creates a foundation for future work within a given Order or Path.

Once these laws and principles are seen, that is, once they are experienced in the mind actively, it is possible to apply the teachings of these laws and cycles to ones life. They are used as measuring devices or tenets of universal principles that help to guide the initiate or student to make their own decisions, choices and original thoughts based on ageless lessons. For example, in Freemasonry, the “Working Tools” of the Craft are used within “Free” thought to permit the more advanced initiate to reconcile difficult concepts and provides for a mechanism for freeing their own minds from constraints.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at how understanding symbol relates to the interpretation of texts and how this mode of thought differentiates from modern, western culture and thought. For some, this text may have raised some questions in your mind. It’s ok, that it is totally natural.

If you wish to obtain further perspective on this piece, please see the Daily Meditation Focus from yesterday.

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part I

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part III

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part I

The use of symbols and the symbolic transmission of knowledge is an incredibly important tool and essential aspect of initiatic, esoteric and Inner traditions. Symbols have been used extensively and with great effectiveness since long before our current, accepted, world history record. I’d like to examine symbols, their role and relationship to mind, human mental development and the nature of consciousness in a small, three part series. Let’s get started. So, what is symbol? The word symbol is defined as a thing that represents something else by association. It can be seen as a type of universal language as it does not require specific words to be understood. In the context of initiatic and esoteric orders and teachings, symbol may take on the light of a basic moral truth, principle or lesson. Symbols exist naturally in nature and esoterically within the mind of mankind.

It is in the comprehension and understanding of symbol, that new ideas are brought forth. As we explore the workings of symbol, we will begin to piece together a holistic picture; an understanding that draws from sources ancient and revered, as well as examine key principles of initiation and consciousness itself.

Symbols are often understood at disparate depths of thought between individuals, which is an interesting point in itself and worth noting. The initiatic traditions foster evolving change and growth, through successive initiations and through the private works of the intiates themselves. It is also important to note that all initiations are ultimately personal and private. Symbols take on new meaning and combine to form complex understanding and knowledge within the minds of prepared students and initiates on the path, as they progress. Deeper or advanced meaning to symbolism has existed since the dawning of the initiatic tradition and it is in these deeper meanings that the nature of spirit and mind unfolds.

As I began to think about this series and the role of symbol, especially in regards to initiatic orders and students of philosophy and esoteric teachings, it made sense for me to draw from my background in Egyptian esoteric studies and hieroglyphics. We will pick up tomorrow with the symbolic message of the Egyptian temples and the many interpretive levels of symbols in that context. If you choose to, reflect on the symbolic nature of hieroglyphics and why an advanced culture would elect to pass their knowledge on, for future cultures, using this method of information delivery and why these symbols (hieroglyphics) can represent many things to many people.

To Be Continued.

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part II

Symbol – The Universal Language – Part III

Daily Meditation Focus 6SEP2009

Severity and Mercy

tower3Moving forward, I’ll be posting daily articles on topics and concepts that may be used as “food for thought” for your own meditation practices. The act and discipline of mediation is the foundation of the Inner Tradition.

qabbalah-tree-of-life

Today’s topic concerns the two pillars of the alchemical Great Work.. Severity and Mercy. Also seen as the two symbolic outer Sephirothic columns in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Masonic Jachin and Boaz. These are opposing principles and are expressed as the terrestrial and celestial, masculine and feminine, dark and light, Yin and Yang. The are paradoxical polarities to be ‘reconciled’ and unified in order to expand consciousness and initiate awareness. Today I’d like to focus conceptually on Severity and Mercy; the expression of our inner posture in regards to our relationship to others and situations in our lives.

The Master teacher Jesus often referred to Mercy, that expression of compassion and our innate relationship spiritually, to others. In today’s western culture, the trend is toward that of Severity. The themes of retribution, exacting revenge or doling out “righteous justice” are often portrayed in the media, discussed socially or even condoned in religious context. In regards to our journey on the path and seeing the physical experience as a mystical adventure, what roles do Severity and Mercy play in our personal advancement and how do our choices in regards to each, assist us or deter our advances on the Path?

Please feel free to post any comments or feedback regarding this topic or share your meditation experience with our community in the Comments section below.