MASONIC INITIATION  by W.L. Wilmshurst
 

APOCALYPSIS

AN ALLEGORY OF INITIATION


" At the time of the end shall be vision.'. (Dan. viii, 17) .

"O truly sacred Mysteries! 0 pure Light!   I am Ied by the
light of the torch to the view of heaven and of God. I am made
whole by Initiation. The Lord Himself is the hierophant who,
Ieading the candidate for initiation to the Light, sends him and
presents him to the Father to be preserved for ever. These
are the orgies of my Mysteries. If thou wilt, come and be thou
also initiated, and thou shalt join in the dance with the angels
around the uncreated, imperishable, only true God, the Word
of God joining in the strain !"
(Clemens Alexandrinus) .

"APOCALYPSIS " is a Greek word meaning an unclothing, a tearing away of the
veils obstructing our perception of Absolute Truth. Hence our biblical word
"Revelation" or " Apocalypse." The lnitiate-Apostle Paul speaks of
attaining the lofty condition of beholding the Divine Glory with unveiled
face, reflecting it as a mirror, and becoming transformed into it in ever
increasing measure (2 Cor. iii, 18).

Whoever would thus behold and reflect naked, unveiled, living Truth, must
himself stand forth in his own naked spirit, stripped of all obscuring
veils of sense, emotion, desire, thought. He must be, as the biblical
Apocalyptist puts it, "in the spirit" in the Lord's day,"_"day" implying
consciousness in the spirit (the "lord") as "night" implies the inevitable
benightedness of any lower form of conscious faculty (the "servant").

In the Ancient Mysteries this power of spiritual perception was called
Epopteia, and the seers possessing it were termed Epopts. This fulness of
light, this direct confrontation of the naked human spirit with the
unveiled universal Holy Spirit, was attained only by high Initiates ; it
was the ultimate ripened fruit of Initiation . "If thine eye be single, thy
whole body shall be full of light ."

What now follows is a descriptive example of the path leading to that
attainment, for I desire to convey to my Brethren, however feebly, an idea
of what real, as distinct from merely ceremonial, Initiation involves and
leads to, and in no other way can I do it.

Greatly daring, therefore, I am venturing to follow-at whatever
distance-the example of the Initiate poet, Virgil, in the sixth Aeneid,
where, in veiled teiuls, is portrayed the quest of the human soul for its
"Father" or Divine Paternal Principle, as that quest is there shown pursued
from this dark earthly cave into the bright Elysian Fields of the Universal
Spirit ; and also the similar, though differently expressed, examples of
Initiation and Epopteia provided for us in the biblical book of Revelation,
and by Wolfram von Eschenbach and Richard Wagner in Parsifal.

Although written in the first person, I beg that my description will be
construed impersonally as regards the writer . But it is also hoped that
the reader will earnestly look forward to some such experience becoming one
day true of himself ; not necessarily in precisely this form, but in its
essential characteristics ; for the Spirit bloweth where and how it
listeth, and those who are taught of it may receive their lesson in
differing ways, yet with uniformity of result .

How far that which follows is allegory, how far it is the work of a
constructive imagination building upon pre-acquired knowledge, how far it
voices personal intuition and spiritual experience, need not be indicated ;
it contains elements of each . All that matters is that it should
faithfully illustrate truth ; and those who have followed me so far and
found any echoes of verity in earlier pages, will not regard me as wishing
at this final stage to speak to them otherwise than with the tongue of good
report and golden truth, and in terms and tones of uttermost sincerity.
Whether what now is written voices truth, let him that hath understanding
and inward hearing, hear and judge .

I.

Being of an inquiring disposition, hearing that in the Brotherhood called
Masonic there were to be known certain valuable arcana and secrets of life
not learnable elsewhere, and imagining it to be desirable from other
motives which, whilst not mercenary, were perhaps of little better
character, I followed a fashion of the time and the example of some
friends, and associated myself with a community from which I looked to
become possessed of some special but undefined wisdom within a brief space
of time.

Looking back now across the years, my conduct at that time strikes me as
not a little unworthy. I was looking for something for nothing . I was
expecting to acquire valuable knowledge without paying or working for it ;
to get without giving . Nor had I considered to what use I should put the
acquisition when I had secured it . But I was young, inexperienced,
unreflecting, and knew no better .

My presumption soon received its appropriate penalty, for on being formally
and with a most cordial welcome received into the community and solemnly
undertaking to conform to its regulations, I was promptly cornered and
humiliated . Instead of being given what my rashness had expected, I was
asked what I was prepared to give for the benefit of any of the brotherhood
who might need it . I felt trapped, but it would have been impolite to say
so . It was as obvious to them as it was painfully conscious to myself that
my financial and intellectual poverty was such that I had nothing whatever
to give . I was impelled, however, to mutter the perhaps scarcely sincere
reply that had I been a person of any means I would have gladly contributed
accordingly ; an answer which, to my surprise, satisfied them, and they
generously proceeded to tell me that, though I could offer them nothing,
they would proceed to give me something, but upon .the understanding that
if I ever met anyone as poor as myself I must remember the present
occasion, be as good as my word, and treat him liberally . The incident
impressed me, and is of importance in view of later developments ; for I am
now trying to fulfil that old promise.

In my novel, flurried position, I had but a hazy notion of what then
occurred or of what they gave me. I remember some talk about a stone, a
foundation- stone, and of identifying myself with that stone and putting it
to some good use or other. I did not recall any stone changing hands or
passing into my possession ; but then, if I were already identified with
it, it would not change hands ; I already possessed it and was merely made
aware of something of which I was previously unconscious.

Be that as it may, on returning home I found myself in possession of a
small stone which I valued as a memorial of the occasion and as a token
that I was now a member of the community of which I had heard so much and
had been so eager to join . My fellow-members also, I found, each possessed
a similar stone and were all very proud of it. It served as a passport or
means of introduction when they travelled for pleasure or business . Some
of them wore it openly as a pendant to their watch-chains or had it set in
a ring with a square and compasses engraved upon it, or mounted as an
ornament for their wives . Personally I preferred not to advertise the
possession of my own stone and kept it in my pocket .

For years I carried it about with me and went my usual way in the world and
attended to ordinary business . I continued to attend meetings of the
community and to enjoy the company and conviviality I there met . So
seductive were these that for long I did not realize that I was learning
nothing of any vital use, and that the wisdom I had hoped to learn never
reached me . Moreover, I did all that seemed required of me in the way of
learning the work of the Society and discharging any task that was given
me, yet in no way was I any different or better a man for belonging to it
than I might have remained had I never entered it . No knowledge of any
value, no secrets or mysteries of any moment, ever reached me, or seemed to
be possessed by my fellows . Perhaps after all there were none to impart,
or if there were, they did not matter .

The position, after reflection, began to feel a little Apocalypsis absurd.
I thought of ways of relieving myself of it, by resignation or
discontinuing my interest in the Craft, especially as no one I consulted
was able to throw me any light upon the reason of its existence . Once,
whilst so brooding, I took the little stone from my pocket and slowly
turned it over and over, my memory wandering back to the moment when I had
received it. I said to myself "I have been expecting bread, and been given
a stone-this stone ." Somehow it seemed to have increased somewhat in size,
to have become unaccountably heavier . And then, as I scrutinised it, I
detected for the first time some minute markings upon it, too small to
decipher without the aid of a magnifying glass . Applying such a glass I
found inscribed upon the stone the minute words "Free and Accepted Masonry"
; then the Latin words "Descendit e coelo,"-it comes from heaven ; and
finally, in Greek lettering, ' the words "Know thyself!" (The quoted words
are inscribed on the Foundation stone of Freemasons' Hall, -London, laid on
May-day ,1775 .)

I pondered much upon these words and tried to realize their significance,
though to little purpose . I made it in my way to see some of my Brethren
and sought permission to examine their stones . To my surprise .in each
case I found the same inscription, though they themselves had not discerned
it. It was often very faint and in some cases nearly worn away, but there
on every stone it was . I pointed it out to some of them. They were
momentarily interested, but then fell to talking of other things and
thought no more about it . One or two seniors, of high rank  and many
decorations, grew almost angry at the suggestion that their stone exhibited
anything with which they were not already fully conversant ; so with them I
did not press the matter. No one that I interrogated could give me any
helpful explanation .

I was referred to libraries and given the loan of historical and
archmological books . I visited the headquarters of the community and there
interviewed antiquaries and other learned and dignified people, but though
for some years I strove diligently to trace the meaning, nothing of real
value was forthcoming .

Meanwhile my stone grew gradually larger, heavier ; and, as it did so, its
inscription became correspondingly more visible and as if demanding more
and more insistently to be read and understood . In a twofold sense it
weighed upon me ; its physical weight was becoming a burden, its unsolved
problem an oppression to my mind. How could I get rid of it?

I happen to have a good friend or brother to whom, in emergencies, I have
learned to repair for guidance . I don't know who he is, but he is
extremely reliable, and though not very communicative and apt to be slow,
even sullen, in his replies, and then to answer me in riddles and indirect
ways, he has never once misled me. Like my puzzling stone, he too, seems
somehow to be indentified with myself . A medical man or psychologist would
say, of course, that he was my own subliminal or supraliminal
consciousness. It matters not which . I only know that he is intimately
associated with me, that he has an extraordinary intuitive knowledge of
myself and my personal problems, and can settle for me matters Apocalypsis
which my brain and reason do not and cannot. I have come to call him, as I
find Oriental psychologists do, the Teacher or Master in the heart .

To him I referred the matter and sought his guidance. For a long time there
was no answer. I tried again and again, and eventually, as my anxiety
increased, his aloofness and silence diminished somewhat. But, as usual,
his responses were disconnected and enigmatic ; mere hints rather than
explanations ; as though he wished the onus of finding what I sought to
know to remain with myself and that I must worry out my own solution with a
minimum of help . Piecing together his fragmentary replies, they may be
translated and condensed thus:

"You cannot cast away your stone . It is yourself. You cannot evade it and
its responsibilities by resigning or remaining absent from the Brotherhood
in which you first acquired the stone . Once a Mason, always a Mason : in
this world and in worlds to come. You stand solemnly and eternally
covenanted, not only to yourself and your Brotherhood, but to the Eternal
Sacred Law, to proceed with your Masonic work to the end. That Law does not
permit you . to stultify an obligation deliberately made upon It, even if
made ignorantly. Ignorantia Legis neminem excusat. There may be that in you
which was not ignorant, and that guided you to undertake that obligation.
Descendit e ccElo . Know thyself !"

Brooding upon this I realized in my conscience the force and truth of the
advice, and that the stone and myself were now more closely identified than
ever . It was the inseparable symbol of myself. It was my "stone of
destiny," like the Kaabah or -sacred Cubical Stone of the Moslems at Mecca
; like the Lia Fail in Westminster Abbey upon which Jacob is said to have
slept and kings are crowned ; both of them stones, moreover, about which
the legend runs that they "descended from heaven ." Curious that that
legend should now coincide with the inscription on my own stone ! Yet what
have Jacob and coronations to do with me, or I with them? "Know thyself!"
Yes, indeed ; for assuredly there may be unplumbed depths and unreached
heights of me that my conscious mind does not yet know. But how to reach
and investigate them? How is it possible to know more of myself than I do
already ?-that was my problem .

Thus, baffled, I put the matter by for a while, or rather tried to, but it
would not permit itself long to be ignored. The stone continued so to grow
in bulk and weight as to become well nigh as unportable as its meaning grew
increasingly intractable.

Ultimately, one day, in despair, I carried it out into a lonely moorland
wilderness with the intention of finally grappling with its mystery and
unravelling it once and for all, or of leaving it there-if I could . As I
went I remembered Bunyan's Pilgrim, carrying on his back the intolerable
pack which fell away of itself when he reached the top of a certain hill. I
half hoped similar relief might befall myself, but did not expect it. I had
again earnestly appealed to my inward monitorial friend for further succour
; but this time he had not answered at all .

Weary in body, distraught in mind, I bore my burden, now grown to a weight
I could barely carry and finally pitched it down among the ling and
Apocalypsis bracken of the heath, and in the evening dusk flung myself down
to rest, and upon the stone-my stone of destiny-pillowed my head, and from
exhaustion fell asleep .


II .

I slept, but my heart waked .
Though asleep I did not wholly lose consciousness, but retained a
pleasurable feel of knowing I was asleep, that my fatigued body and brain
were at rest, and myself, my released and quickened intellect, was free to
act in independence of them. Oh, the rest and blissfulness of that
conscious sleep !-paradoxical as it may sound .

Though I knew my tired head and harried brain rested upon the hard stone,
that hardness presently seemed to be dissolving and the pillow to become
one of the softest down, swathed in fine linen, most white, most cool,
lavender-scented . Yes, and more ; it became vibrant ; intensely, healingly
vibrant . Sweet scents exhaled from it ; but also sound ;- oh !-gorgeous
strains matching the delicate fragrance, welling sweetly, softly, from afar
; the twaira perfectly concordant ; unisoned rather ; odour melodious,
incense musical !

Presently, in this intensifying joy, my eyes opened . It was no longer dusk
. Soft golden light was everywhere, through which pulsed now and again,
like summer lightning, throbs of rosy and other coloured rays of more than
rainbow purity, whilst the ground about me, upon which I lay, was no longer
the rough moorland, but fleecy down of most restful violet hue, as though
one had passed through the dark-blue vault of the night-sky and lay upon
the sunlit upper side of it .

I raised myself and looked round . Standing near me I saw one whom,
instantly and instinctively, I recognized as my hitherto unseen friend and
brother, the concealed interior monitor, to whom I had previously addressed
my appeals for counsel . What a mighty, glorious being he was as he stood
there, a dazzle of flame-like hair circling his fine head, his feet also
winged with wreathing harmless fire ; his person white-robed with a garment
that seemed, not put on, but to grow from and be an integral part of him,
and about his neck and loins the shimmering blue and gold clothing of-to my
amazement-a Grand Lodge Officer . In one hand he bore a tall crystal wand
like a deacon's, and his other arm held a golden thyrsos or caduceus .

We both smiled a recognition when our eyes met . I discerned that he was
waiting there till I was sufficiently rested.

"Where are we ?" I asked.
"In the Aula Latomorum !"
"Freemasons' Hall!"-my thought translated his words, and then as swiftly
ran on by habit ; "Great Queen Street, London,W .C.2 . But surely not
there!" And I saw that his mind read mine though I spoke not.
"No, not there. That is far below you now ; far removed, yet not so much by
distance as by difference of conscious state ."
"Then where am I?"
"In the candidate's preparing-room of the Aula Latomorum ; the Supreme
Universal Lodge of all Builders in the Spirit ; what you have heard of as
TheGrand Lodge Above."

I began to protest that I was unfitted for, and had no title to admission
to, such a pIace, but he checked me, saying :-"You have sought, asked,
knocked, though you did not know it. That forms your title to admission.
Your search for wisdom, your continued askings for Iight, did not pass
unobserved by the Eye that watches here, that never slumbers nor sIeeps.
Your bIind strivings after truth were heard as knocks upon our door, and
for you that door will now open. You are being awaited within. Come, we
will enter the Lodge !" And he placed a gentle but powerful arm around me.

I still hesitated, but the bracing vitality of his presence and touch
counteracted my weakness and gave me tenseness and courage. Nevertheless,
as we began to move away, I turned and looked back upon my sleeping body in
the gloom at my feet, with its head couched upon the rude dark stone, -the
poor, poor rags of myself. From it, linking me with it, I saw issuing a
slender silvery streak, a phosphorescent filament faintly visible against
its violet background.

"That," said my guide, "is your cable-tow, by which you shall be restored
later on to the blessing of your material comforts :-if, indeed, comforts
they be to you," he added with a laugh. "They are a blessing, nevertheless,
for without them you could never have reached or entered here. Now come !"
"What is that glorious music ?" I asked, as we passed up a great stairway,
the steps of which his fire-winged feet scarcely touched. For its tones
grew louder, richer, as we ascended, and its waves rolled out upon me like
ocean billows .

"Pending your arrival, the Grand Organist is playing selections from the
Music of the Spheres for the healing of your bruised spirit . The fragrant
music your stone pillow echoed back to you just now was its overtones .
This Lodge, the heavens, yes, and the earth beneath, are all built and held
together by that music, though few of you in the world below have ears to
hear it ."
So we passed on.


III.

We reached the first landing of the vast Hall. It was quadrangular, and
flanked at each side by a corridor by which one could perambulate the
building . My guide conducted me along the four sides .

"This," he told me, "is the floor upon which labour all Architects in the
Spirit under the guidance of the Universal Great Architect . There are two
higher floors ; one for the Geometrician who issue the designs for the
Architects to fabricate into shape ; upon the other labour those still
greater souls who are in the secret counsels of the Most High and dwell
within His shadow ."

We reached the portal of a central hall, the Lodgeroom of the great
Apprentice Architects . - Without it stood a great being bearing a sword
that flashed every way, but observing my clothing and condition, he let it
fall and asked in whose name I sought admission . And with a ringing voice,
like a silver trumpet, my guide replied for me

"In the name of the Son of the Carpenter, the Apocalypsis Grand Carpenter
of the Universe of worlds and men, by whom all things are made!"

And, as the great gates opened, from within, upon rolling waves of sound,
welled forth the antiphon "Hallowed be that name to everlasting . His
kingdom come, without as here within!"

So we entered .

I may not tell all that I saw or that occurred in that wondrous place, that
great assembly . But this I will tell, that at one place I found myself
before two interlaced triangles of lighted candles, three of which were
lesser and three were greater lights, and at their centre, making seven,
stood still another light, the greatest of them all and of brilliance so
intolerable that I was constrained to fall upon my knees before the
candlesticks and shield my eyes from their light with both my hands. Thus
kneeling, self-blinded, words were spoken to me that can never be repeated
but that seemed to proceed from the central great candle. And presently I
was asked if, voluntarily and of my own free will, I would enter into a
great and solemn covenant with the Voice speaking from it, which covenant
would not be formulated for me but, as a test of my sincerity and desire,
must come as the spontaneous prompting of my own heart . And then, in my
ignorance, simplicity and blindness, but under my compelling joy at the
wonders that even so far I had witnessed, I behaved as a child who has been
shown some new thing that delights it and forthwith must needs run away to
tell the tidings to its friends. And I exclaimed that thenceforward never'
would I conceal from anyone in the world the

Fulness unimaginable splendours that lay so near it yet of passed
unperceived, but that on the contrary I Light would reveal them to all men
and as far as possible make everyone know about them, and that of the light
and bliss in which I stood bathed I would carry back so much into the dark
world that no one should fail to see it, and that if needs be I would be
content to be ground to dust and cast far and wide in sparklets of powdered
light, if by so doing that light might be more widely diffused .

Whilst I still spoke my hands were drawn from my eyes by another hand,
which then took one of mine, and the Voice said :-`'Rise, brother with the
child's heart ; of such is this kingdom. Be thou my candlebearer, and let
there be Light!"

I was raised from my knees, but, rising, my mind seemed to rise in
correspondence, to widen out enormously in its perceptions and conceptions
as the result of something that thrilled into me from the touch of that
hand. All I had before seen and understood seemed but as darkness to what I
now saw, and I, who in my impulsive ignorance had said I would become the
light of the world, now beheld the great central candle-light of the seven
to be no longer a candle, but to be He who Himself bears that name.

"Domine, non sum dignus !" Again I would have fallen to my knees, but the
Great Benignity, the Hierophant who walked among the candlesticks,
restrained me and, for my support, drew a garment as it were of pure white
lamb-skin from the substance of His own person, in which garment and flesh
were one, and girded it about my loins as an apron, saying:

"This is My Body, given for you, that your body Apocalypsis may be given
for Me." And again waves of coloured sound poured over me from choired
voices singing "Ecce Agnus Dei, qui tollit peccata mundi !"

And a great strength passed into me, so that all weakness fled and I stood
erect before Him, an accepted Apprentice Mason of the Grand Lodge Above.

Then gathering into His hand the three lesser lights, they blended there
into one another and became one light, one candle, which He placed in my
hand, bidding me light my way with it until such time as I came to the
measure of perfect man and the high stature of a Master Mason, and
thereafter to go forth with it to them that sit in darkness and the shadow
of death.

When, amid swelling music, my guide led me forth from that great hall, its
vast assembly rose to salute their new brother, passing before them,
bearing his lighted candle. And thereafter I was free to enter their abodes
and workshops where I was shown the work and the methods of those who are
indeed the constructive builders and carpenters of everything in the world
of manifested form, fromthe fabrication of a solar system to that of the
bodily organisms of all that inhabits it, from the building of a planet to
the manufacture of the simplest mechanism of human invention ; for what is
such an "invention" but a discovery, a finding out, and "coming upon" by
the human mind of something of which the pattern already exists upon an, at
present, concealed ultra-human level ? Here were visible and exposed the
secrets and mysteries in  regard to all created forms and physical
phenomena. Here the forces constituting natural law were controlled and
regulated ; here continents, oceans and waterways were planned .and human
racial distribution pre-arranged. In this department worked those who
devised the constitution of states, kingdoms and polities for the lower
world ; in that, those who compiled tables and codes of law for social use
and govemment, plans of ethical systems, religious, ceremonial and
sacramental forms for human use and educating human understanding in
celestial truths. And among these latter were to be seen the originals of
the great systems of ritual and symbolism devised to train the human eye
and imagination to the perception of spiritual principles to which
otherwise they would remain blind-such as those of the Hebrew and the older
Christian Churches, the ancient schooIs of the Mysteries, and also modern
Freemasonry , the source of which, so nebulous and uncertain to terrestrial
research, here becomes crystal-clear. For all such institutions exist in
the outer world, not from chance compilation or unaided human ingenuity,
but because.they are "pattems of heavenly things," physicalised reflections
of pre-exsting fabrications by Architects and Workmen  labouring Upon a
loftier and more enlightened plane of being than that of the flesh, a pIane
from which they become inspirationally transmitted to the minds of those
below or to which some such minds are able consciously to mount and receive
direct instruction ; as did the Hebrew lnitiate, Moses, when enjoined to
frame the religio-political system of his people and in doing so to "see
that he did all things in accordance with the pattern shown him in the
Apocalypsis Mount."

For in this celestial "Mount" are made all the patterns or models of
whatever is good, useful and worthy in the terrestrial "valley" below,
where nothing is really made, but merely copied and reproduced. From here
the prophet, the poet, the artist, the musical genius, the inventor,
wittingly or unwittingly draw all the conceptions that become the heritage
of man and help on his racial career, but that at the same time convey to
him an illusory sense of self-generated progress and a belief in his own
cleverness .

Thus was I made free of the great brotherhood of the Supernal Architects,
working without haste, without rest, in the world of Light. Yet
my-thoughtreverted to the builders in the dark world below, where, if they
can build nothing other than their own good or evil destiny,

All are architects of Fate
Working in the walls of Time,-
Broken stairways-where the feet
Stumble, as they seek to climb .

But my flame-shod guide beckoned me, and, remembering that before I could
carry light into that tenebrous realm I must go on to the measure of
perfect man, I followed him .


IV.

He led me forth and up a great winding stairway to the next landing of the
vast . Hall, to the Lodge of the Geometricians, and twice was I conducted
around its galleries as though the better to adjust myself to that loftier
plane of being. Presently, after due preparation and carrying my candle as
passport, I was granted admission to its central chamber . And there the .
Hierophant, whom previously I had met as ,the Great Architect, now
manifested to me in a different and higher guise, as the Grand Geometer.

Now He stood in the midst of a triangle of three great lights, and
presently these, too, He gathered into His hand where they blended into one
which He placed in my other hand, so that now I stood bearing a pair of
candles, one a lesser light that shone but as the moon, and one a greater
that blazed as the sun shining in his strength . And I was made to know
that I should need both these lights upon the path that still lay before me .

And when the greater light was placed in my hand my previous illumination
seemed but as moonlight in comparison with that which now came to me, and
what had up to that moment seemed to me vacuous space I now perceived to be
thronged with an innumerable concourse of great beings greeting me into
their company, each holding a hand high aloft and chanting over me in
chorus :-" Sun, stand thou still in his heights ; and moon, stand thou
still in his valleys, until all his enemies be overcome in the great day of
his perfecting !"

And the Great Initiator placed his hand within his own bosom and drew forth
a chalice of red wine and, holding it forth to me, said .- -"This is My
life-blood, given for you that yours may be made Mine . Take, drink !"

And I drank, and gave thanks, and was dismissed to pursue my way .

Hitherto I had perceived as it were with but outward sensible eyes, and had
gazed upon but the outward forms and surfaces of what I saw. Now , at  this
draught of new wine, my inward intellectual eyes became opened too,
penetrating beyond all forms, beholding their animating essence; seeing not
separate existences and objects, but all life, all objects, in inseparable
unity .Here was what Socrates so rapturously tells of in Plato's
Phoedrus-and I knew that, to tell it, he too must have been called to this
same place and been granted this same measure of initiation-that it is a
region of which no earthly bard has ever yet sung or ever will sing in
worthy strains, one where for the :first time one comes to know real
existence, colourless, formless, intangible, visible only by the topmost
crest of the human mind, the noetic intelligence that sits at the helm of
the soul and that alone can share communion with Divine Mind; that cognises
the essential sub-stantiality , as distinct from the accidental properties
and attributes of things; no longer thinking of what is just, strong,
beautiful, righteous, and so on, or of any contrasted relationships, but
directly beholding Wisdom, Strength, Beauty, Goodness, in their
absoluteness and in their real essential being.


Here, too, I saw the prototypal "ideas" lying behind the patterns and
models shown to me in the workshops of the Architects below, and realised
the geometrical and mathematical principles upon which those fabrications
were based, and how that every created thing is made by measure, number,
and weight, as the Initiates of the Pythagorean School made known to men in
the outer world, so that of a verity I saw that even the hairs of our head
are numbered-not in the sense of being counted, but of existing conformably
with mathematical necessity, -and that not a sparrow falls to the ground
apart from that necessity or without recording a fact of, and a change in,
the Universal Consciousness . For on this plane where, as Plato declared,
"God geometrises," the Divine Ideas are assi milated by the Geometricians
who there labour continually, and thence are transmitted to the Lodge of
the Architects below for expression in concrete form . And long would I
have lingered here absorbing these inexhaustible wonders, but again I
remembered my pledge and my directions, and besought my guide to lead me
onwards.


V.

But how shall I relate what next befel me ? How voice that which is of the
Silence ? I had been already led through two new supernal planes of being,
one devoted to the building of form, the other to formless self-subsisting
principles and abstractions-the ethereal embryos conceived by the
Geometers, to which it was the function of the Architects to provide
objective embodiment. Now I was to pass to a height surpassing,
transcending, both these ; one where there existed neither the formal nor
the formless, but as it were a primal Chaos from which both had issued and
into which both were resolvable ; a Matrix beyond thought, beyond
imagination, beyond description ; and whilst within me was a great urge of
my spirit to go further forward and enter it, there yet fell upon me for
the first time in that realm of bliss and peace, of colour and sound, of
bodily Strength and mental clarity , an apprehension that the limits both
of my endurance and conscious possibility had been reached, that I could
neither know nor bear more than I already knew and bore, and that to
attempt to advance farther was presumption and foolishness destined to end
in failure and disaster .

"Let strength be perfected out of weakness!" said my guide, reading my
thought; "Come, let us go up the Hill of the Lord !" Once more his strong
arn was around me, and holding my lesser and greater candles, my moon-light
and my sun-light, in either hand, I ascended with him towards the third and
topmost storey.of the great Aula.

As we mounted, the path became less and less clear ; as a highway, leading
into open country, terminates in a mere track which finally disappears
entirely. And despite the brilliance of the two lights I carried, a
twilight seemed to be descending upon us that deepened more and more around
us as we rose, until, on reaching a level landing, nothing about me
remained visible, or only the most shadowy outlines of what was immediately
adjacent.

Although within a building, the building itself no longer appeared as such,
but to have become dissolved into something different, indefinable,
indescribable-mere "place," to which no epithet or attribute can be
attached; no corridors, no departmental chambers, such as I had found on
the foors below; no sign of life or activity , but utter desertedness and
dereliction, and yet, ijthal, a sense that life abounded there upon all
sides . Yet thrice was I escorted around what, had it been a visible
quadrangle, would have been its four sides, as though to habituate myself
to these new conditions .

Deep silence and solitude ruled up here in this dark polar region of the
human mind, and here the great music that flooded the lower altitudes
failed, it seemed, to reach, as though the air was too rarefied for it
longer to be audible or my hearing too gross to respond to it . At times we
seemed to be in a dense forest, to be passing beneath the dusky boughs of
giant cedars of Lebanon and other mighty growths . At length I enquired of
my guide what this place was.

"This," he answered, "is the House of the Sons of the Widow" ; and then for
the first time a mighty emotion swept through and shook even his strong
frame, as he murmured, rather to himself than for my hearing, the words,
"Sub umbra alarum Tuarum, Jeheschuah !", as though he too longed to dwell
for ever in that place of deep shadow.

And my thought turned to the remembrance of a teaching concerning the
bereft Divine Wisdom, the Sophia, the Bride widowed through the ages of Her
errant sons until, reverting from the ways of foolishness, they voluntarily
return to sonship and She becomes justified of Her children .

We halted, at length, at a place at which, in the gloom, showed the outline
of two pillars standing side by side, separated only widely enough for one
man to pass between. From here, my guide told me, I must proceed alone,
since he could accompany me no farther ; but he would prepare me for my
entry into that final sanctuary and would wait without Apocalypsis until I
rejoined him.

Then he began upon me a great and solemn ritual of preparation .

He took from my one. hand the great solar light it carried, and placed the
candle in a sconce at the head of one of the pillars in front of me ; and
then took from my other hand the lesser lunar light and set its candle in a
similar sconce at the head of the other pillar ; repeating, the while, with
intense earnestness the words : "Thou, sun, stand still in his heights ;
and thou, moon, stand still in his valleys, till his enemies be overcome in
the great day of his perfecting !"

He divested me of all my garments, save one only the Apron with which the
Great Hierophant had invested me in t}- .e Lodge below. For my other
garments, ethereal though they were, were as the outgrowth of my own
nature, the condensed exhalations of my own thought and desire, now become
objective and clinging to me as raiment ; and of these I must needs stand
denuded if spirit is to meet Spirit and, out of my flesh, I am to see God .
But my Apron no other hand could take from me than that which gave it, and
it remained around my loins to be my strength and support in that day of my
perfecting .

Then, from an overhanging tree, he plucked a feathery spray of acacia-leaf
and, after weaving it into a fillet, placed it around my head, saying as he
did so :_c Thou art crowned in the halls of death that hereafter thou
may'st wear a Crown of Life that fadeth not away ."

Further, he took the golden caduceus or thyrsos he had always carried, and,
standing before me, raised it aloft, as a crucifix is held before the eyes
of the dying, and exclaimed :

"Receive this Golden Bough, thou branchlet of the eternal Life-Tree, and
think upon it when thou hangest upon that Tree, that thou may'st become for
ever grafted thereinto, and thy leaves and fruit thenceforth be for the
healing of the nations!"

And by a gold cord he placed it upon me, so that it hung suspended against
my flesh as a pectoral cross .

Then, with his forefinger, he sealed me at five points with the sign of the
cross ; upon my brow, upon my throat, upon my heart, upon the palms of both
my hands, and upon both feet. And after each sealing with the cross-sign,
he sealed me again at the same points with a peace-kiss, as though with his
lips to heal wounds which his finger had made ; and he said :"Thou art
wounded in love in the house of thy friends that by love thou may'st be
made whole . These be thy five points of perpetual fellowshipwith Love
Immortal ; that in love thou may'st think, may'st speak, may'st feel,
may'st act, may'st walk, when thou goest forth among the sons of men ."

And having thus done, he turned from me and passed to the twin pillars
standing in front of me . There, kneeling between them and with a hand laid
upon each, as though to unite them in himself, his voice pealed forth into
the distance beyond :-"In strength have I striven to establish this son of
Thy House, that he may stand firm and steadfast in the great day of his
at-one-ment with Thee, Most High!"

Finally, he rose, and taking his rod or wand, passed behind me, so that I
saw him no more. But I felt his presence, and that from it was now issuing
an energy that was directing, compelling-even propelling me forward ; an
energy at once of will and of prayer, -of will that absorbed and gave
direction and intensity to my own will, of prayer that shielded me from all
evil as that will urged me on into the valley of the shadow of death ; an
energy, silent, yet of such gathering intensity that, like a great sea-wave
rising to the breaking-point, I knew it must at last break  into sound, and
that that sound would carry me forward with it.

Presently it broke . It broke upon my hearing, upon my whole being, as one
great clear word of power, the vibrancy of which swept me onward . What
that word was cannot be related, nor did I then understand it. But as it
translated itself at that moment to my understanding, it was the
heartspeech of my directing guide saying :

"Father, into Thy hands I commend his spirit, which is also my spirit!"

And, impelled by that word of power, I passed forward along the straight
and narrow way between the lighted pillars, into the gloom beyond .


VI.

The ground beneath my feet rose steeply . I felt myself to be ascending a
hill in that dusk and stillness, though for some distance a state of
twilight remained to me ; for memories and remnants of the light that had
previously suffused me lingered, and the great twin candles I had borne to
this point still cast helpful beams of from the pillar-tops for a little
way . But the farther Light I traversed, the higher I mounted, their
illumination diminished, until at length twilight melted into utter dark. I
remembered and comforted myself with, a great word : "The sun shall no more
be thy light by day, neither the moon by night ; but the Spirit shall be to
thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory ; and the days of thy
travail shall be ended ." I knew what others have recorded of passing into
the Divine Gloom, the agnosia of the human spirit, where vision fails and
thought is paralysed, and where that zero-point of consciousness must be
touched where nothing is known to be, neither one's self, nor even God ;
and I knew, and again tried to comfort myself with the reflection, that
even this appalling darkness was in fact light, albeit light of intensity
so unthinkable as, to eyes not yet opened and inured to it, to appear as
darkness . But I had yet to learn that even such comforts as thought and
memory provided were staffs that must fail me of support .

In that darkness I now was . -In the rarefied atmosphere of the mount I was
ascending my being took on an ever-increasing hyper-sensitiveness, until I
felt my flesh, even the tenuous ethereal flesh of my present body,
dissolving away, leaving me as but a quivering structure of exposed,
unprotected nerves . The feathery fillet of acacia-leaf upon my forehead
felt now as a heavy crown of coarse thorns clamped upon my brow, into which
the tender, delicate frond-points pressed like steel spikes . The light
gold thyrsos suspended from my neck became as an heavy cross, beneath the
intolerable weight of which, with bleeding feet and hands, I toiled and
staggered upwardly . I paused awhile to rest and with my forefinger swept,
from time to time, the increasing blood and sweat from my brow and in my
agony cried aloud :

"Come to my help, ye Sons of the Widow ! for I, too, am the Widow's son ."

But no answer, no help came ; yet the oftener I lingered, the more I
faltered, the more conscious became I of the propelling urge of that mighty
word of power by which my guide had sped, and still was speeding, me upon
my willing quest ; and I knew that from a distance-how far, how short,
mattered nothe still was watching, directing me ; that his rod and staff
controlled and safeguarded me .

In the ocean-depths there is a point at which a sinking ship can sink no
farther, the pressure upon it from above and the resistance from below so
counteracting each other that it remains suspended and undergoes
disintegration by the dual forces grinding upon it. In the ocean-depths of
Universal Spirit there is a corresponding point of equilibrium, where the
human soul, seeking to pass from terrestrial attraction to spiritual
freedom, becomes caught and ground between similar upper and nether
millstones . That point is the mystical Gethsemane, literally "the place of
the wine and oil press," for there the soul reaches the equator-line where
the opposing attractive forces of soul and spirit meet, and where the
former experiences to its joints and marrow a sundering of its parts .
There-as wheat is winnowed from corn-stalk and chaff, as wine and oil are
distilled from crushed fruit the soul's spirit, its sublimated, refined,
immortal essence, is dissected from the sheath in which it has matured, is
separated and rendered free to commence a new independent life of its own,
whilst that sheath itself is left to perish.

That Gethsemane I had now reached . My soul consciously knew the growing
division of its kingdoms, "one dead ; one powerless to be born ;" and again
and again cried in its anguish for help from the Widow's Sons, yet without
avail ; and at last resigned itself to the compelling word and will that it
felt still to urge it forward, higher .

Beyond Gethsemane rises the Hill Calvary-Kranion or Calvaria, the bald
headland, the rocky summit, of no earthly situation, and known to none save
the naked human spirit which ascends to it, there to be lifted up high
above all terrene ground and magnetic attraction, and pass to birth and
apotheosis in the free uncontaminated air of Spirit Absolute.

Reaching that summit, my limbs failing under me, one thing alone saved me
from complete collapse, the strength and support that came, that seemed
newly and increasingly generated, from the Apron girt about my loins . And
then, from that central peak, my feet involuntarily losing touch with the
supporting ground beneath, I felt myself lifted up above the earth .

No hand there was that touched or raised me . As one whose limbs become
distended, rigid, under the infusion of a strong electric current, so now
the charge of the Creator Spiritus passed into me, forcing my frame into
vertical erectness and rigidity, extending my arms horizontally, making
taut and tense under its strain every fibre of my being . In mid-air, my
head held toward heights I could not reach, my feet down-pointing to the
earth they no longer touched, my arms wide-flung transversely into void
space, I hung suspended upon that invisible impalpable Life-Tree ; myself a
cross ; myself the crucified upon that cross.

For three hours of darkness-hours not of human time, but of that Spirit to
which a day is as a thousand years-I hung upon that cross, that Stauros
upon which from the foundation of the world Life Creative hangs
self-immolated, that worlds may be built upon its pattern and Life Created
be fashioned at last into its image.

As there I hung, my thorny crown stabbed its spikes more deeply, more
insistently, into my brow, my hands unable longer to move and wipe away the
blood and sweat. Yet a joy began subtly to tincture and relieve that pain,
as I realised that, under the same strain that my own being knew, the
life-sap of the fragile acacia-sprig was also being quickened, was pulsing
fast, striving to break to golden bloom ; and that, when that bloom broke,
light would break for me also and my crown of thorns become a crown of life.

The gold thyrsos upon my breast burned itself into me, until its vertical
shaft felt one with my own spinal column, from the base of which the
uprising intertwined serpents were as dual streams of a new, larger, richer
vitality surging upward through my nerves towards my head, where I knew
that like the dual parts of an electric current that, meeting, flash into
light-they would eventually combine and flame to conscious wings,
wide-spreading as those of its symbol, far-reaching as my own wide-flung arms .

And my Craftsman's Apron, at once a weight and a support to my straining
loins, felt growing into me, to be becoming of my very flesh and substance.
I knew now why, traditionally depicted as a loin-cloth, this garment alone
was worn upon the Cross by the "King of the Jews," the Supreme Chief of all
Initiates, and why all the great painters of the Crucifixion-scene had been
moved, intentionally or inspirationally, so to depict it and not otherwise,
not from any paltry motive of delicacy or prudery, but to point, for those
who can understand, the truth that the secret, basic, generative energies
procreating the Universe and regenerating human souls must ever remain
beyond the ken of all but the Divine Eye .

As with the dying, my consciousness fluctuated from a negative to a
preternaturally acute and vivid stage, ranging at times to a wild yet
orderly delirium ; yet from both these extremes I knew the necessity of
holding my will oriented and fixed upon its desired goal. At times it
became cosmically comprehensive ; at times it would focus upon trivialities
and irrelevances. At one moment it would enlarge till, for the little
leaf-crown on my head, I wore vast star-belts as a diadem ; great
constellations filled no more space than the palms of my hands and swam
around my person as but dancing fire-flies ; my trunk and legs reached down
through abysmal leagues of space to the dust-speck of earth below my feet .
At another the heavens would open and expose their joyous contents-a lure
and temptation promptly to be rejected as often as it recurred ; for,
though I thirsted, it was for richer wine than they could give to drink.
Now each hair of my head seemed a filament and conduit linking me with
angel-hosts and reservoirs of supernatural intellectuality, and now the
nerves of my feet ramified into the finest rootlets and tentacles through
which I became aware of the activities of nature and of life in the earth
below and the minutest details of personal human interest . I heard the
crackle of growing grass, the twitter of birds, the cries and laughter of
children, equally clearly with the throb of engines, the activities of
industry, the clash of armies . No grain of sand, or speck of dust, or cell
of tissue, but disclosed its constitution, its potencies, its purpose, its
destiny ; all straining, striving, building, unbuilding, rebuilding ; each
sealed with and bearing, wittingly or not, its little cross in one
universal effort to become raised to that final cross of transformation
upon which I now hung, and thence to pass on to unimagined heights and
destinies beyond . Even my Brother builders in the symbolic Craftfor of
them too I became vividly aware in their little dark circumscribedworld
below,-there theywere in their Lodges, reeling off memorised rituals,
correcting one another at a wrong or misplaced word supposed to affect the
efficacy of their work ; and some were in banquet halls, and, amid the pop
of champagne corks, I heard them toasting one another, extolling the
virtues of Masonry, shouting, "Prosper the Art!" and singing of the "mystic
tie" thatmore truly than they know binds all together and advances the
building of a Temple conceived of as yet by but few of them .

Darkness, over-intensified, at last of itself becomes as it were a
pleasurable light ; pain, when ability to feel it is exhausted, a measure
of joy ; for these opposites are but relative, the poles of a single fact ;
differing reactions to enforced environment . But neither such light nor
such joy was that I longed for . They belonged to feeling, to desire, to
thought ; not to that deeper factor, the Spirit, which transcends them all,
and to which I strove to keep my will one-pointed . But at length feeling
died in me ; I knew neither pain nor joy . Then desire died ; what happened
further to me, good or ill, I cared not. Lastly, thought died also ; its
flickerings and veil-wisps gradually falling away, till stark blankness
only remained . Nothing of me still was, save the labouring spirit that
strove to be born but could not. It was the zero-point of negative
consciousness, the moment of the apparently everlasting NO ; where nothing
is, and God is not.
Eloi, Eloi ! Lama Sabachthani !


VII.

I revived, yet not I, at length, in Light ; a new indescribable light, so
much more than light because it is also life ; life beyond the category of
personality ; life in the Universal Spirit of light ;

Light rare, untellable, lighting the very light ;
Beyond all words, descriptions, languages !

The sprig of acacia had at last burst to golden flower upon my head.

No tongue may or can speak, nor pen write, of that "sleep in Light" as the
Egyptian records call it, that conscious rest of the soul in God, that
identic union between finite object and infinite Subject, that nirvanic
absorption of the spirit's still flame within the Fire of Divine Mind, of
the human water-drop in the ocean of that Immaculate Illimitable which is
Nothing, but without which nothing is-that impersonal yet
self-consciousness which becomes possible only when every activity of sense
and emotion has been quelled, every energy of the restless mind stilled,
all thought obliterated ; and the babe-soul rests upon the naked bosom of
that Spirit of which it has been well written :

I am the Silence which is more than Sound .
If therewithin thou lose thee, thou art found !
The Nameless, Shoreless Ocean, which is I,
Thou canst not breathe, but in its bosom drowned !

What previously had seemed utter darkness was now a sea of softest light
thronged with life ; living light, lighted life. About me thronged the
uncountable Sons of the Widow, God's Master Masons, the Lords of Wisdom and
sharers of the secret counsels of the Most High, whose inspirations,
transmitted to the Geometers and Architects upon the planes below, dictated
the plans upon which worlds are built, maintained, dissolved, and yet are
but as foam upon the rising and falling waves on the surface of the
Universal Life-stream.

And these great Sons, close present to me through my long agony, but
invisible till a deeper sight was born in me that could share their
intenser light, took me down from my cross ;-but of the secrets and
mysteries that thereupon became known to me I do not here speak, nor of the
still higher grades of Initiation that lie beyond that I now testify to .
When eventually I left them, I passed through their ranks, as I had passed
through them upon my arrival when to my unperfected eyes they had appeared
as a vast forest of Libanus cedars under whose swarth boughs I had walked ;
for were they not as great trees crowning the mountain-top of the world,
diffusing over it from their spread branches the dark actinic rays of a
Wisdom not yet recognised by men's imperfect vision as Light ? I rejoined
my former brother and guide at the point where I had left him, between the
pillars . Upon seeing me he at once greeted me with a familiar sign in
sympathy with my now vanished sufferings, and, kneeling, at the next moment
shielded his eyes with his hand as my presence dazzled him with the light
it now radiated. Then he rose, and bowing, drew near me and offered me his
hand as a Brother of the Third Degree in that Grand Lodge, and as we
embraced he exclaimed :

"The Master is risen !"

And I to him responded : "He is risen indeed!"

And we passed back down the grand stairway, up which he had previously
brought me, now no longer deserted, but thronged with Geometricians and
Architects come forth to hail their new Brother, now journeying back as a
light-bearer into outer dark world . And, upon rolling organ-music once
more, came the chanted words "To him that hath overcome is given a crown of
life!" and again, "To him that hath endured to the end is given a white
stone !"

At length we reached the place where,in the gloom, still lay my sleeping
body, couched upon a stone . But peering down upon them the stone was no
longer a dark crude mass. It was a crystal cubical stone, upon the top of
which rested three cornucopias, bearing corn, and wine, and oil ; and
against this, my stone of destiny, reposed my head, already faintly
aureoled with light . My coronation was complete.

I knew that henceforth both my guide and my stone would be perfectly
identified with me and that the contents of the cornucopias were the.
emblems of my perpetual future nourishment and represented the harvest I
had garnered in each of the Three Degrees I had just taken ; Bread of 'Life
from the first, Wine of Bliss and Illumination from the second, Oil of
Wisdom from the third. Here was the realisation of the familiar words,
hitherto but fanciful poetic imagery :"Thou preparest a table before me in
the presence of mine enemies ; Thou anointest my head with oil ; my cup
runneth over!" Again my good Brother gripped me as a Master Mason. We drew
together in an embrace of fellowship so fervent that we seemed to coalesce
beyond the possibility of further separateness. "A measure of corn for a
penny," he said to me, "and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine ." And I
understood his hint to be prudent in my use of them .

"Ave, Frater, atque Vale!" were his last spoken of words to me.

And mine to him were "Vale, Frater, atque Ave!"

When I looked about me with the eyes of my flesh I was alone. Sunrise was
breaking over the barren heath.

 

 

         

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