Scientia Coronati Research Lodge #4 F. & a. m.
oct dec 2010 A.L. 6010
The Arizona Keystone
Volume 3, Issue 4
The Arizona Keystone
Volume 3, Number 4
Oct - Dec 2010
George Weil, Master
Keith Rosewitz, Secretary
The Arizona Keystone is an official publication of Scientia Coronati Research
Lodge #4 F. & A. M. and printed quar-
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3. MASTERS NOTES
4. PEN AND PAPER
Master s Notes
My Brothers, Spirituality and Initiation are two elements that
seem to go hand in hand when talking about ancient
The Craft is a culture housed in the Temple of the
Mysteries. The true Masonic Lodge is a Mystery School, a
place where initiates are taken out of the mundane world
and given instruction in the mysteries of life. Three steps
or degrees lead up to the temple doors, and all who wish
to enter, must climb them to reach a certain level of knowledge. Every Mason must guard
these gates from the profane and ignorant. It is our responsibility that this knowledge, this
philosophy, this culture be not given to selfish people unprepared for their responsibility. In
order to protect this ancient and honorable fraternity, obstacles have been placed in the
way of its attainment which only the sincere and honorable are strong enough to recognize
There are many grades of initiates, and no matter how far a seeker may pass on the
pathway of understanding there is always something more for him to accomplish. The mere
fact that an initiate has been accepted by our Craft does not mean that the student has be-
come all wise or a Mason. He merely sees life with slightly broadened vision, but still subject
to the laws of Nature. The initiate must understand that the rapidity of his advancement
depends wholly upon his own meritsthe sincerity, integrity, and devotion of his labors and
how completely he has mastered the temperaments and failings, which hold him back.
PEN AND PAPER Initiation
Michael Baigent Explores Its Meaning
based upon initia-
tion. Yet many of
us remain unclear
as to what exactly
this means. Is it
simply an old term
for joining some-
thing? Or are there
depths of meaning behind the word that can tell us something of our Masonic heritage?
Most ancient cultures had some tradition which sought to show men and women the world beyond the veil
of death: the Far World as the Egyptians put it. Shamans and medicine men had long understood the need to
teach of life and death and at some time in our past this was organized into distinctive cults.
In the ancient Greek and Roman world this teaching was communicated in what were called the
Mysteries the initia - such as practiced at Delphi and Eleusis. Importantly for social stability, these Mysteries
ran concurrently with the state worship of the gods and goddesses but they remained secret while the state cult was
The Mysteries existed for those who wished to be initiated into the source of the sacred; those who wished
to experience it, directly. But the rites performed were kept clandestine; those who entered were forbidden to re-
veal any details.
Yet some did, at least partially. One of the classic accounts is from the second century AD Roman writer
and lawyer, Apuleius, author of Metamorphoses also known as The Golden Ass who lived in Carthage.
Apuleius was initiated into the rites and mysteries of the goddess Isis. But his description is deliberately
His account begins with a priest warning him that the act of initiation [is] performed in the manner of vol-
untary death and salvation... Then, following ten days of preparation during which Apuleius avoided alcohol and
meat, he was taken into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple of Isis where, the same night, he had a profound sa-
cred experience. Listen and understand, he asks the reader, Believe what I am saying is truth! He then explains,
I approached the very edge of death and stood upon Proserpines doorstep... In the middle of the night I saw the
sun, a bright shining and glittering light; I entered the presence of the gods...
Then he abruptly stops and rather disconcertingly states that even though he has described what happened
to him that night it is unlikely that the reader will understand him. And he is correct. Nevertheless, in his veiling of
the events he is following the precepts of the initiatory tradition: Man, know thyself. Nothing in excess. Remem-
ber to keep silent.
All we can be sure of is that in his experience initiation is linked with death. This is proved by both his first
line and by his reference to Proserpines doorstep. Proserpine, known to the Greeks as Persephone, was the wife
of Pluto, king of the underworld. Her doorstep is the entrance to the world of the dead.
At the point of death, the writer explains, the soul has the same experience as
those who are being initiated into great mysteries. In fact, the connection between initia-
tion and death is implicit in the Greek language itself: telos means end or perfection.
Its plural, telea is the usual term for initiation. In other words, such rites involve perfec-
tion as well as termination or death.
The Greek playwright Aristophanes in The Frogs depicts Hercules describing his
visit to the Far-World and witnessing great feasts of the Blest. Hercules is asked who
these people are. He replies that the Blest are The Holy Ones who understand the myster-
ies; meaning, it is evident, those who have been initiated.
For the ancients, like the Greeks and the Egyptians as well as the influential shamanic cultures further east
and north, initiation lay at the very heart of their cultures spiritual life.
Initiation is experience, an experience which brings insight and knowledge. That it is not a purely intellectual
exercise but one which also involves the heart risks being forgotten today as we increasingly find ourselves worship-
ping the intellect.
And, I would argue, we are the poorer for it.
Freemasonry and the Mysteries We cannot point to any proof that Freemasonry has directly maintained any ancient initiatory practices but
neither is there any evidence to suggest that Freemasonrys spiritual depths were constructed along with the first
Grand Lodge in the early eighteenth century.
There are some very suggestive facts we should note: for example, the early fifteenth century Cooke manu-
script of Old Charges invokes Hermes the Philosopher. This figure, deliberately distinguished from the Greek god
Hermes or the Roman god Mercury, is clearly that mysterious figure of antiquity, Hermes Trismegistus, guide to the
world of the dead, the Far-World. He derives from the Ibis-headed Egyptian god Djeuty, known later to the Greeks
Furthermore, aspects of Masonic ritual appear to retain fragments or parallel practices to those of the an-
cients. In the Mysteries of Mithras, for example, the candidate climbs a ladder with seven rungs, a ladder not un-
known to Freemasons.
Apuleius initiation took three days as did the mystical rites of the Mysteries at Eleusis. Each of the three de-
grees of Freemasonry is a symbolic day; each is opened at sunrise in the east and closed with sunset in the west. We
see here too a mysterious parallel with the Christian days of Easter, a rite celebrating the conquest of death.
It seems to me that while much Masonic ritual was indeed constructed late in its history, a powerful inheri-
tance passed through those great medieval building masters; a heritage which, despite falling into the hands of those
who no longer fully recognized its importance, has shone through and survived - however distant its echo now may
But along the way, because of a lack of understanding, much of the power of our rituals has been lost. Ritu-
als need to be read, certainly, but primarily they need to be experienced; their words and actions are only a means to