The Meaning Of Masonry     

  by W.L. Wilmshurst  


The seven Officers- three principal and three subordinate ones, with an additional minor one serving as a connecting link with the ourside world -represent seven aspects or faculties of consciousness psychologically interactive and co-ordinated into a unity so as to constitute a "just and perfect Lodge." As a man, any one of whose faculties is disordered or uncoordinated, is accounted insane, so a Lodge would be imperfect and incapacitated for effective work if tis functional mechanism were incomplete.

Seven is universally the number of completeness. The time-periods of creation were seven. The spectrum of light consists of seven colours; the musical scale of seven days; our physiological changes run in cycles of seven years. Man himself is a seven-fold organism in correspondence with all these and the normal years of his life are seven multiplied by ten.

The "Master," or Chief Officer, in man is the spiritual principle in him, which is the apex and the root of his being and to which all his subsidiary faculties should be subordinate and responsive. when the Master's gavel knocks, those of the Wardens at once repeat the knocks. When the Divine Principle in man speaks in the depth of his being, the remaining portions of his nature should reverberate in sympathy. Without the presence of this Divine Principle in him man would be less than human. Because of its presence in him he can become more than human. By cultivating his consciousness of it he may become unified with it in proportion as he denies and renounces everything in himself that is less than divine. It is the inextinguishable light of a Master Mason which, being immortal and eternal, continues to shine when everything temporal and mortal has disappeared.

The Senior Warden, whilst the Master's chief executive officer, is his anthesis and opposite pole. He personifies the soul, the psychic or animistic principle in man, which, if unassociated with and unillumined by the greater light of the Spirit or Master-principle, has no inherent light of its own at all. At best he in the West can but reflect and transmit that greater light from the East, as the moon receives and reflects sunlight. Wherefore in Masonry his light is spoken of as the moon. In Nature when the moon is not shone upon by the sun it is invisible and virtually non-existent for us; when it is, it is one of the most resplendent of phenomena. Similarly human intelligence is valuable or negligible according as it is enlightened by the Master-light of the Divine Principle, or merely darkly functioning from its own unillumined energies. In the former case it is the chief executive faculty or transmitting medium of the Supreme Wisdom; in the latter it can display nothing better than brute- reason.

Midway between the Master-light from the East and the " Moon " in the West is placed the Junior Warden in the South, symbolizing the third greater light, the " Sun." And, masonically, the " sun " stands for the illuminated human intelligence and Craft understanding, which results from the material brain-mind being thoroughly permeated and enlightened by the Spiritual Principle; it denotes these two in a state of balance and harmonious interaction, the Junior Warden personifying the balance-point or meeting-place of man's natural reason and his spiritual intuition. Accordingly it is he who, as representing this enlightened mental condition, asserts in the Second Degree (which is the degree of personal development where that condition is theoretically achieved) that he has been enabled in that degree to discover a sacred symbol placed in the centre of the building and alluding to the G.G.O.T.U. What is meant is, of course, that the man who has in reality (and not merely ceremonially) advanced to the second degree of self development has now discerned that God is not outside him, but within him and overshadowing his own " building " or organism; a discovery which he is thereupon urged to follow up with fervency and zeal so that he may more and more closely unify himself with this Divine Principle. This, however, is a process requiring time, effort and self-struggle. The unification is not achieved suddenly. There are found to be obstacles, " enemies " in the way, obstructing it, due to the aspirant's own imperfections and limitations. These must first be gradually overcome, and it is the eradication of these which is alluded to in the sign of the degree, indicating that he desires to cleanse his heart and cast away all evil from it, to purify Meaning himself for closer alliance with that pure Light. It is only by this " sun-light," this newly found illumination, that he has become able to see into the depths of his own nature; and this is the " Sun " which, like Joshua, he prays may " stand still " and its light be retained by him until he has achieved the conquest of all these enemies. The problem of the much discredited biblical miracle of the sun standing still in the heavens disappears when its true meaning is perceived in the light of the interpretation given by the compilers of the Masonic ritual, who well knew that it was not the solar orb that was miraculously stayed in its course in violation of natural law, but that the "sun " in question denotes an enlightened perceptive state experienced by every one who in this " valley of Ajalon " undertakes the task of self-conquest and " fighting the battles of the Lord " against his own lower propensities.

We have now spoken of the Senior and Junior Wardens in their respective psychological significances and as being described as the " Moon " and " Sun." In this connection it is well to point out here that the lights of both Moon and Sun become extinguished in the darkness of the Third Degree. In the great work of self-transformation they are lights and helps up to a point. When that point is reached they are of no further avail; the grip of each of them proves a slip and the Master-Light, or Divine Principle, alone takes up and completes the regenerative change: " The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light and thy God thy glory; and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." (Is. lx. 19-20).

The three lesser Officers and Tyler, who, with the three principal ones, complete the executive septenary, represent the three greater Officers' energies transmitted into the lower faculties of man's organism. The Senior Deacon, as the Master's adjutant and emissary, forms the link between East and West. The Junior Deacon, as the Senior Warden's adjutant and emissary, forms the link between West and South; whilst the Inner Guard acts under the immediate control of the Junior Warden and in mutually reflex action with the Outer Guard or contact-point with the outer world of sense-impressions.

The whole seven thus typify the mechanism of human consciousness; they represent a series of discrete but co-ordinated parts connecting man's outer nature with his inmost Divine Principle and providing the necessary channels for reciprocal action between the spiritual and material poles of his organism.

In other words, and to use an alternative symbol of the same fact, man is potentially a seven- branched golden candlestick. Potentially so, because as yet he has not transmuted the base metals of his nature into gold, or lit up the seven candles or parts of his organism with the Promethean fire of the Divine Principle. Meanwhile that symbol of what is possible to him is offered for his reflection and contemplation, and he may profitably study the description of regenerated, perfected man given in Meaning Revelation 1, 12-20.

To summarize, the seven Officers typify the Masonry following sevenfold parts of the human mechanism:

W.M. Spirit (Pneuma). S.W. Soul (Psyche). J.W. Mind (Nous, Intellect). S.D. The link between Spirit and Soul. J.D. The link between Soul and Mind. I.G. The inner sense-nature (astral). O.G. The outer sense-nature (physical).






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