Uniformity as an initiatory instrument
Man's behaviour is the exterior expression of his inner status. In the initiate, this status is the antithesis of the conformism lacking in critical sense, which is typical of the profane culture.
Through the search for truth the mason starts working on himself and he learns the use of his own tools with the help of expert masters, up to the point where he can use them «professionally».
Through the «Straight edge» of reason, the «Mallet» of will and the «Chisel» of incisiveness, the mason “learns” to hew the thoughts of the vulgar world, rectifying those meant only for the satisfaction of ephemeral and vain needs.
The result is a balance which stops emotional swinging. Because of the silence of the inferior impulses, the initiate can be in line with his noblest part, as it is represented by the Plumb Line.
Therefore the exterior behaviour is uniformed through the evolution process symbolized by the “smoothing of the stone” which wears out the oscillations of passions and cancels them.
Once he's educated the unreasonable impulses, the mason's attitude is uniformed to the harmony of the initiate; he is beyond any ideological part or faction because he is loyal to the universal principles he's acknowledged in himself.
After having “travelled” in the maze of the vulgar world, the master mason re-lives the initiatory resurrection of Master Hiram. That is the last «representation» offered to him in order to uniform himself with the highest principles of the Three Blue degrees: the spirituality of his initiatory masterhood.
Free from ideological strings and emancipated from the impulses of egocentrism and egoism, the master mason is not only a free man, but also a man capable of benevolent consideration. Therefore the master mason is the Free and Moral Man; not only for the tolerance he's able to express but also for the loving understanding that pushes him in help of those who “travel” with their eyes blinded by the veil of ignorance. It is an obstacle in their conscience which doesn't let them see the light of intelligence, which is not given by culture but by a superior sensitivity. In fact, only thanks to the light of intelligence (intelligere, to see inside) one can penetrate the exterior forms of ritual representations and reach their inner tuning.
Since he is a member of an initiatory Communion, the mason must also observe exterior rules. Examples of these rules are those regulating the “ritual clothing”; it is used to express the initiatory uniformity and to allow to recognize and to be recognized during the activities in the Temple. Furthermore, it becomes the mark of belonging to a Lodge or a Chamber of perfection, or an element of qualification to a degree or a hierarchic level, specifying particular functions and Masonic dignities.
Among the main ritual clothing we find the ‘Clamide' (*) , the Masonic Apron and the Gloves. Together with the jewels and the decorations of Sashes and Collars with the degrees' badges, they are the esoterical elements which are connected the most to the Masonic heraldry.
(*) Clamide is a short men's mantle held by a buckle on the shoulder or the chest.
The ‘Clamide' is not often used nowadays and it's no longer considered as an essential part of the Masonic uniformity. Those who still wear it know that it symbolizes the separation from the profane world; it highlights the annulment of the value of profane clothing which, incidentally, represents an element of obvious inequality.
And again: the colour of the fabric of the clamide is black; its shape is similar to the TAU (T).
In the profane world the colour black reminds of dark, lack of physical light, fear of the unknown and of the death.
Whereas for the initiate, the colour black represents the detachment from the illusory world and the annulment of the diversity which will be completed in the Light of illumination and gnosis.
Furthermore, the colour black is not a colour but the result of the absorption of all the visible lights. For this reason the colour black is used not only for the Clamide, but also for the inside of Aprons and Sashes as a catalyser of the impure energies irradiated by the inferior Centres.
This leads us straight to the consideration of the alchemy in the personal work of the mason: it is a work of transformation of man, which corresponds to the Work in Black and the Alchemic Putrefaction (see the black degrees of the Scottish Rite), whose Sublimation ends in the Work in White (see the white degrees of the Scottish Rite).
Athos A. Altomonte