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The “secrets” (or arcane truths) imparted in this Degree are explained as consisting of certain peculiar marks or signs, intended to distinguish all Brethren of the elementary grade of Apprentice. Outwardly, in this and in subsequent Degrees also, they are expressed by step, sign, and word. These, of course, are not the full or real secrets, but only figurative emblems of them. It is what they signify that constitutes the secrets, and that significance is left for the Candidate to meditate upon and reduce into daily personal practice. Only so will he really learn them and come to understand why they are called “secrets” and why we insist upon their use. They can never be orally communicated, except in symbolic form, but must be learned by experimental practice.

W L Wilmshurst, The Ceremony of Initiation, Part II

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Ceremony of Initiation secrets imparted marks signs outwardly step sign word not full real secrets figurative emblems daily personal practice learn understand experimental

The secrets of his mental nature and the principles of intellectual life became at this stage gradually unfolded to his view. You will thus perceive, Brethren, that the F.C. degree, sometimes regarded by us as a somewhat uninteresting one, typifies in reality a long course of personal development requiring the most profound knowledge of the mental and psychical side of our nature. It involves not merely the cleansing and control of the mind, but a full comprehension of our inner constitution, of the more hidden mysteries of our nature and of spiritual psychology.

W L Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, Chapter I The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Meaning of Masonry Deeper Symbolism secrets mental nature principles gradually unfolded long course personal development profound knowledge hidden mysteries

Brethren, may we all come to the knowledge how to “open the Lodge upon the centre” of ourselves and so realize in our own conscious experience the finding of the “imprisoned splendour” hidden in the depths of our being, whose rising within ourselves will bring us peace and salvation.

W L Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, Chapter II Masonry as a Philosophy

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Meaning of Masonry as Philosophy brethren knowledge open lodge centre ourselves realize conscious experience finding imprisoned splendour hidden within peace salvation

We know that on some summit, far away

We know that on some summit, far away

Within the Soul, a beacon-light uplifted

Makes on the mountains round eternal day;

By its bright beams the clouds beneath are rifted,

And for awhile is glorified the grey

Life-sea, whereon so long mankind hath drifted;

That single will oft new strength create,

And then the Spirit conquers time and fate.

 

To all at times these golden glimpses come;

The clouds roll back; the deep, supernal blue

Is arch’d above those mountains like a dome;

The revelation of the great and true

Comes with those glimpses from the Soul’s far home,

And the Soul knows her lineage and her due;

But most have striven to reach the source in vain

Whence come those beams, or bid their flash remain.

 

Yet for life’s fever and the mind’s disease

The only refuge for the world is there;

Before they reach it none can taste of ease,

There all are sphered beyond the range of care;

Wrecks toss’d in scorn upon the scourging seas,

Our sails are set to find a haven fair,

But, from those mountains shrinking, still we strive,

And drift for ever where the winds my drive.

 

We dream of islands lapp’d in amber light,

Of pleasant groves and wilding woodland bowers,

Where morn unclouded follows starry night,

And starry night on evening’s pensive hours;

We see no beauty in the frowning height—

That awful altitude the mind o’erpowers;

Yet the Soul’s home is in its purer air;

Soul-glory, majesty, and might are there.

 

But there are many, could they see their way,

Who would the summit by their toil attain,

Who not in vain would pour their lives away,

Achieving conquests for their brethren’s gain;

But whom doubt weakens, who in tears delay,

And contemplate life’s spectacle of pain;

Who to do something yearn, yet pause and ask

Some high encitement to so hard a task.

 

And therefore have we written, O man, for thee

The book that follows, here its plan proclaim—

Help for thy Soul—help that the soul may see

In evil days her best, her noblest aim,

And ever faithful to that end may be,

Though faith should fail, though truth her hope disclaim.

And, ‘mid the general lapse from light, may find

No impulse left for the exalted mind!

 

What inspiration from the heaven came down

To fill the brain? What angel bade us write?

Oh, in the green fields, in the crowded town,

And in the sunshine or the starry night,

Those thoughts descended which in Soul are sown,

And ripen’d in us, as the flowers in light—

Their strength supports us, from the ample store

We scatter; may they number more and more!

 

Oh, may this book, by our own heart created,

Be life in all to whom its dream is told—

To draw the world up God’s steep path be fated,

Till all the splendid prospect shall behold,

And on those heights all Souls be reinstated,

From which perchance they lapsed in days of old;

Or those attain whose altitude till then,

Though dimly dream’d, was never known by men!

— A E Waite, “Proem” from Azoth, or the Star in the East

 

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The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry from The Meaning of Masonry by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst.

“In some Masonic Lodges the candidate makes his first entrance to the Lodge room amid the clash of swords and the sounds of strife, to intimate to him that he is leaving the confusion and jarring of the religious sects of the exterior world, and is passing into a Temple wherein the Brethren dwell together in unity of thought in regard to the basal truths of life, truths which can permit of no difference or schism.” [via]

The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry from The Meaning of Masonry by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst.

“Yet, there exists a large number of brethren who would willingly repair this obvious deficiency, brethren to whose natures Masonry, even in the more limited aspect of it, makes a profound appeal and who feel their membership of the Craft to be privilege which has brought them into the presence of something greater than they know, and that enshrines a purpose and that could unfold a message deeper than they at present realize.” [via]