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Three occult sides of the Temple
by Athos A. Altomonte
The person who has developed the sense of measure , known to Greeks as the ‘right measure', has a clear image of Rituality and Initiation and distinguishes their virtual representation from their real meaning; the principle of initiatory hierarchy is less known.
Before we start talking about Initiation, we need to answer a question: what does the idea of esotericism correspond to?
I have been educated to the esoteric research that starts from identifying key words (like those in bold) which, like with a door, can open the word or the idea, so that the external cover can be penetrated and the inner ( occult ) meaning can be reached.
My idea of ‘esotericism' is a method that deals with the semantic appearance of the word (the literal form, see surface esotericism ) to penetrate and uncover the concept inside it (see depth esotericism ), conscious that the container (exoteric and literal form) will never be more important than the meaning it carries.
Once this point is clear, we can deal with the subject, although for obvious reasons many details will be hidden among the lines.
If the adept is not looking for vain appearance but for initiatory coherence, he will have to learn to act unusually and the key word is transcending.
In order to achieve a considerable initiatory ability, he must be able to transcend the symbolic shadow and go from the exterior Temple , which is the fulcrum of symbolic Freemasonry, to the inner Temple , which is the basis of White Freemasonry. He must learn the Art of transmuting himself (see metallic transmutation), his leaden self and learn to transcend the limits of physical sensitivity (physical conscience) and other substances (psychic aspects) symbolized by iron and copper. He will then reach a refined conscience that allows the mind to shine with intellectual ( silver ) and even spiritual ( gold ) brightness.
In the 30 th degree of the Scottish Rite, the Knight Kadosch with his sword (the Will) knocks down the four infamous Pillars of falsehood and illusion. Destroying falsehood means also to transcend the mirage of a metaphoric, symbolic and virtual form of initiation, where the greater Initiation has been reduced to a poor political-institutional icon of high administrative bureaucracy.
This is the center of the great Masonic illusion.
I have often compared ‘modern' Freemasonry to the Christmas crib, where no person with some common sense could see the mystery of nativity . Yet, in a symbolic representation similar to a Christmas crib, the ordinary Mason really believes he is initiated. Is it the power of suggestion or something else…?
He doesn't see another big paradox. Out of the 33 steps (degrees) of the (virtual) Pyramid, he only walks (for seniority) ten, ignoring the remaining ones, perhaps considering them superfluous. The chain of virtual knowledge is therefore broken and its whole meaning is lost. Even though the loss of the virtual chain is due to the single Mason, the sum of all losses makes the great number of non-knowledge , which, irremediably, ends up by marking the distances with an initiatory tradition that has never been virtual.
Perhaps the transformation of the Mysteriosophic System (doctrine of universality) in Christmas crib is due to the overlapping of two different initiatory worlds. One is the metaphysical and scientific thought deriving from the ancient middle-eastern tradition; the other is represented by the political clique of craftsman and tradesmen of the low Middle Ages.
The people who accepted the tradition of old Illuminates (not to be confused with the vulgar masks of lobbies of power that speculate on this word) was keen on searching both exterior (science and metaphysics) and interior (conscience and spirituality) knowledge.
This structure was very complex and made of initiates and researchers of various intellectual and scientific extractions. In order to escape the destruction caused by obscurantist powers in the Vulgar Era (church and monarchy) they looked for shelter among the Guilds of Freemasons. Here they were accepted and were given some symbols of the ‘mysteries'.
This is the origin of speculative Freemasonry ; it created a strange mixture where two worlds cohabited without ever amalgamating.
Only a few Masons of the ‘Masonic tradition' have transcended the symbolic representation of themselves to realize a proper initiatory status. Except for a few cases, the people belonging to the Ars Muratoria remain the exoteric part of Freemasonry. The others have achieved the requirements of the Ars Regia , becoming its esoteric part. Finally, the most resolute units perceived the Ars Pontificia and became the initiatory component of White Freemasonry. These aspects are known to every Mason, although not many practice them.
A clear testimony between exoteric and initiatory part of Freemasonry is the ritual form of the Temple practiced by the adepts. This distinguishes the adepts of the lesser Mysteries from the Adepts of the greater Mysteries.
Freemasons haven't transcended the rectangular shaped temple , neither have they passed the level of its visible meanings. This doesn't mean that the Rectangle doesn't have important meanings for the apprentice, the fellow craft and the symbolic master. Nevertheless, the visible meanings of the rectangular plane (plane of material conscience) don't reach the subtle ritual potentialities of the square shaped Temple , or the high cosmic meaning of the circular shaped Temple , ritual seat of the greater mysteries.
I will try and summarize the planes of ritual Work, remembering that each plane or level represents a particular ability of the conscience, viz. each level or plane expresses a crescent initiatory value.
The ritual conduction on the Rectangular plane is the non-perception of a cycle that doesn't belong to the profane being with his codes and morale.
The ritual conduction on the Square plane is the perception, at least intellectual, of the individual cycles in assonance with the planetary ones (universality and cycles of the microcosm, see article the Great Book of Nature).
The ritual conduction on the Circular plane is the perception, at least intellectual, of the cycles of the Humankind in assonance with the cosmic ones (cycles of the macrocosm).
The highest cyclic rituality (times, cadences and rhythms determining the life of every living structure) is not only represented in the circumference of the Temple, but in the union between the circular shape of the Floor (see) and the circularity of the Starry Vault at the zenith of the Temple.
The ‘three ritual planes' express ‘three hierarchies of values' that concretize as many Pyramids. The speculative Pyramid belongs to the people who discuss the initiatory Model but can't understand it yet; they talk about ‘mysteries' that are in actual fact the metaphor of an inner state. The intellectual Pyramid belongs to the people who have been able to recognize the initiatory Model but they are not able to realize it yet. The initiatory Pyramid belongs to the people who live the self-realization by reflecting the initiatory Model.
It looks obvious to me that, on the contrary of the current opinion, it is not the hierarchic Pyramid that gives value to its followers , but those who give shape to the Pyramid give value to the hierarchy. If the adept is of average quality, the quality of the hierarchy he expresses will be the same.
This explains why, despite a great number of splendid flags and pompous titles, the Pyramid of symbolic Freemasonry doesn't reflect the initiatory Principles that embellish it.
I am sure that there is no point in going any further. We don't have the elements to study the sense of the subject in more depth. Likewise we don't have the clues to deal with the diversity of the three planes of ritual Work. They don't depend on rituality itself, but on the mental ability and expansion of conscience of the Initiate, ritualist or officiant. If he is not able to ‘conceive' certain energies, he won't be able to make ‘good ritual use' of them either (see constitution of a ritual Eggregore).
It is therefore a ‘free choice' of the adept either to stay where he is, inside the rules of an obviously exoteric hierarchy or to free himself from the first transfer of the mason and try to progress freely towards wider horizons. He must keep in mind that if he rises higher he will leave old certainties to face new uncertainties. We must add, though, that uncertainties are not only a result of fear; they will become inconsistent if the right direction is given, especially if there is an expert guide. Furthermore, new things never come to us, we must go to them. There isn't nothing ‘new coming' if we stay still, perhaps waiting because of laziness or conformism (which is certainly not an initiatory quality) or for lack of courage.