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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

In being given the formal symbolic secrets the Candidate should reflect that he is receiving a first lesson in a long course of instruction of a private and occult nature; i.e., one not taught outside the Lodge, but hidden from public knowledge and intended to help him upon the path of his personal inner life. For having but just entered upon that path, it is proper that he should now be instructed how to tread it.

W L Wilmshurst, The Ceremony of Initiation, Part II

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Ceremony of Initiation formal symbolic secrets first lesson long course instruction private occult hidden public knowledge path personal inner life proper instructed

The depths of human nature and self knowledge, the hidden mysteries of the soul of man are not, as real initiates well know, probed into with impunity except by the “properly prepared”. The man who does so has, as it were, a cable-tow around his neck; because when once stirred by a genuine desire for the higher knowledge that real initiation is intended to confer, he can never turn back on what he learns thereof without committing moral suicide; he can never be again the same man he was before he gained a glimpse of the hidden mysteries of life. And as the Angel stood with a flaming sword at the entrance of Eden to guard the way to the Tree of Life, so will the man whose initiation is not a conventional one find himself threatened at the door of the higher knowledge by opposing invisible forces if he rashly rushes forward in a state of moral unfitness into the deep secrets of the Centre. Better remain ignorant than embark upon this unknown sea unwisely and without being properly prepared and in possession of the proper passports.

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

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Meaning of Masonry as Philosophy depths human nature self knowledge hidden mysteries soul man real initiates properly prepared