Ritual acts and initiatory reality
by Adriano Nardi
© copyright 2007 by Esonet.it – Esonet.com
Order and ceremonial order
Freemasonry is a Ceremonial Order that pursues the initiation of its adepts through Instruction and Ritual. The word ‘Order' has both the meanings of ‘ group of people that for condition or particular characteristics make a category in itself' , and ‘ harmonious correspondence among the parts that make an organized whole' . Therefore the Order is both the hierarchic pyramid of its adepts and the hierarchy of principles, standards and rules to be recognized and revived; this involves every Lodge in order to ennoble the initiatory Institution called Commu nion.
More than ever ‘Order' is a synonym of harmonization of the individuals with the general sense pursued through the ceremonial Order. The ritual is the ceremonial activity that in the symbolic meanings represents the initiatory process in its levels of ability and virtue.
The consequence is that every initiate that ‘works' to abandon the chaotic condition of profanity, marked by the motto Ordo ab Chao , must be instructed on the Laws that rule both the microcosmic nature, the Man dimension represented in the geometries of the Temple, and the macrocosmic nature represented by the Starry Vault. He works to revive the ‘unitary destiny of the Humankind', represented by Three pomegranates , broken by the ‘waves of disorder'.
The inner Order which the Mason-initiate works for is the only ‘instrument' able to generate a superior and common Order called ‘Universal Freemasonry'. It is a ‘brotherly chorda ' made of links pulsating with hearts and minds. This introduction gives us the sense of proportion between two visions that can't be separated: the symbolic representation and the idea behind it.
To live the representations without living their meanings means to leave representation and symbol inert, viz. without any practical effect.
We read in a catechism of Hermeticism: ‘Don't fool yourselves that with superficial methods you can obtain deep results. What counts is in the depth of conscience. A treacherous servant is not capable of a good deed and the most rigorous ritual won't clean his attitude […] the decline of the mysteries started when rites became complicated and lifeless'.
The restoration of the ritual meaning is at the basis of the functionality of the system; for this to happen it is necessary to reinstate the order based on the inner priority of principles and standards that rule the life of conscience, from the material dimension to the subtle one associated to Light .
The initiatory Path followed by the Mason develops through a progress of stages that symbolically represent the process of transmutation that leads the physical (lunar) condition to the reintegration with the subtle principle represented by the solar and active Fire Element.
A fundamental aspect of the process of transmutation is that it concerns both male and female physical exteriorities, since they are both ‘lunar'. Nothing on the physical-animal-personal-material-passive-feminine plane and its attributes can be considered solar-dry-active-masculine. All that concerns the World of Forms (sephiroth Malkut) must be considered humid-lunar and most of all illusory.
This explains the definition of ‘widow' given to the Mother Matter of which we are children for our ephemeral-passive body ; likewise we are children of the Light (solar principle) in the dimension of the spiritual conscience. The latter is the solar-dry-active part of human nature. This is the meaning of the Alchemic Nuptials, the conjunction of the solar aspect overlooking the physical form with the lunar aspect of ‘its' lower physical attribute.
The unification of top with bottom is followed by illumination , which Freemasonry expresses in the re-birth of Master Hiram in the conscience of the Master Mason.
The ritual as an instrument of operative uniformity
Instruction is fundamental to recognize the hidden sense of symbolic representations. This means to educate oneself to languages different from the forms used in the profane world. The ceremonial Order has given the Three Lights and the Expert Master the task to open the path of teaching. The worshipful Master's task is to instruct the Lodge ‘with the light of his Masonic science'; the Senior Warden's task is to instruct masters and fellowcrafts; the Junior Warden's task is to instruct the apprentices outside the Temple ; the Expert Master assists and instructs the neophyte during his initiation.
Through the recognition of a visible ritual the mason is educated to reproduce inside himself the conditions represented by ceremonials, until the re-awakening of the conscience occurs, which produces the illumination of the concrete mind. The illumination on shared aspects and principles makes a Lodge uniform, not only under the formal aspect but also from the point of view of conscience, making it possible to revive an eggregore in a harmonious and non dissonant form.
The ritual entrance
Not working to ‘smooth oneself' in order to reach the subtleness that produces the re-awakening of the lower aspect means to remain an unproductive observer of suggestive but misunderstood representations. The inviolability of the ceremonial secret is based on this ‘misunderstanding'.
The ritual activity has the effect of catalyzing the attention of the participants in the rhythmic motion of its ceremonial, neutralizing the chaotic emotiveness and thought that have not been abandoned in the Room of the Lost Steps . The result is a kind of ‘higher attention' that makes the mind of the initiate able to generate more and more subtly organized forms of thought.
The passage in the Room of the Lost Steps marks the beginning of the ceremonial and the moment when all the participants enter the Temple. The participants walk in respecting the hierarchic order and start the squaring of the floor. By moving clockwise they create the second border* of the Temple, they define a consecrated space.
*the three perimeters of the Masonic Temple are:
a) The esoteric one represented in the Lodge Picture;
b) The energetic one given by the ritual opening and closing with the squaring of the Temple;
c) The physical one marked by the walls.
This clockwise movement represents the motion of the energy in the matter (see igneous energy) that characterizes the activity of every living physical form (the nephesch of the Genesis).
The widening of the rotating motion represents in the conscience of the initiate a spiral-shaped growth that stretches towards the highest planes closer to the spiritual light, which is the highest condition of a Lodge eggregore. In ancient times this was symbolized by the solar motion represented by a levorotatory cross.
The cosmogony represents the passage from the horizontal to the vertical plane with the ideogram of a cross inscribed in a circle, symbol of matter, which, going from inertia to motion becomes the mobile cross that rotates following the motion produced by the ritual squaring of the temple.
The ritual entrance symbolizes the fundamental aspects of the energetic motion of the macrocosm which is reflected in the man-microcosm (up as is down). The universal rhythm is given by times, cycles, cadences and rhythms are the rails where appearances, growths, disappearances and regenerations of the matter aspect run.
The cyclicity of the Temple is expressed by the twelve pillars and the twelve sign of the Zodiac.
The cadence generates the rhythm that makes any form of motion harmonious. In this case, heartbeat and respiration are the occult rhythms that harmonize the ritual entrance in the Temple.
To understand the correspondence of the spiral-shaped motion in other dimensions, think of the motion of galaxies, of the solar system, of the rotation and revolution of planets, how energy rotates in every center in the body of man, the motion of the spirilla in an atom. The same law is valid for everything.
Harmony is followed by the inner alignment that generates the true uniformity which a Lodge can aspire to. Although it can be helped by external factors such as music, perfumes, batteries and mallet strokes, the uniformity of intentions is the main aspect that creates harmony in a Lodge; let's remember that harmony, or its contrary, is the aspect on which the constitution of an eggregore is based , which takes shape from the non-expressed thoughts of the participants . That is from what they really feel and silently express around themselves.
The Chain of Un ion, constitution of an eggregore
The Chain of Un ion is the apex of the ceremonial activity.
The words evoked in this occasion help strengthening the will of the group and the cohesion to the Idea around which it was created. Basically it should renew the intention that consolidates the group spirit, renewing the energy of the participants.
The Initiatory Chain is an energetic circumference (see ‘ The Lost Sacralization '), which bases its realization on the process that amalgamates the will and the ideal of all the Brothers (represented by the use of the trowel) that participate to the building of an eggregore to make a Lodge ‘fair and perfect'.
This is the sense of true comm-un ion.
On the energetic form that has been built depends the force that the initiates will be able to irradiate in their individual exterior and personal realities; as Masonic catechisms say, it is the work ‘for the benefit of the humankind, digging dark and deep prisons for vice' .