The article of the month: Masonry and symbols ... April 2015

Dear Brothers, dear Sisters, dear Friends, dear Internet users,

"Gather together what is scattered" is one of the ideals of Freemasonry. However, the divisions are so numerous that it is impossible to make a complete list.

During its official origin in the eighteenth century, the dissensions within the speculative Masonry have continued to multiply and now it would be more correct to speak about numerous Masonry’s groups. The great Architect of the Universe, relations with the society and politics, relations with the religions, all of these subjects present many lines of fracture. It is impossible to keep silence and not to discuss this, it will be a subject of our next articles. Would Freemasonry be summarized to these questions?

Isn't it fundamentally anything else that could be progressively forgotten and that it is necessary for us to find it? In what do we differ from a religion club, a "club of thought" or even from a political one?

The specificity of the masonic approach can be found in our symbolic universe containing all these influences.

In the masonic tradition the Judaeo-Christian’s symbols are significant. However, it would be wrong to limit it by these two sources. Mysteries of the Greeks, Neo-Platonism, alchemy, kabbalah and many others influenced on the masonic representations. This wide variety form a singular harmony. It is not a syncretism, but a "multi-approach". It allows each Mason to reach the symbols. It is in the multiplicity of images and their personal reception that each Brother and Sister will find a way of self-realization beyond the ideological, religious or political dogmas.

What is the role of symbols in the Lodge during the work? To create a particular space through a direct meeting between the Masons and the symbols. To establish a dialogue involving the whole being: body, soul and spirit.

There are many myths concerning the Masonic "secrets". Rituals have been known outside the Lodge, but their real meaning is accessible only through the knowledge obtained in the Lodge. The real secret of the Order is not contained in the texts or formula, it manifests itself in the moments of inward awakening and allow you to start a dialogue with what is often called "consciousness". Is it related to the personal consciousness, or universal consciousness, or with both at the same time?

Are there sufficient moments to reach the spiritual way? Is it enough to meet certain people, in certain places in order to achieve a high level of "higher" consciousness? Received initiation and training are necessary, but they are not sufficient. Nobody from outside can give us what we don't already have inside. The term "initiation" should be understood in a double sense: to start a way and get all the required elements to perform it. By analogy with the road the Order provides us a map, the guides and our fellow travelers. Without these components and the exchange of experience, the spiritual way can become a set of personal mirages and it’s dangerous for a spiritual balance.

Freemasonry uses its characters on several levels: ethical, philosophical and esoteric. Ethic because it has for ambition to make a bridge between the spiritual and the material. Philosophic so that the reason is always present and warns against the ramblings and the excesses always threatening when it comes to spirituality. Esoteric because the truth is not reduced to the reality and the truths are hidden inside and remain to discover.

In a harmony of these various plans the Freemasonry finds its original identity. When it loses this balance, it risks to fall into the occult hypocrisy and become a simple “group of thought”, to merge with an era and even to disappear with it.

François Stifani