THE SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION OF THE OFFICES IN THE LODGE
The following is an abbreviated record of the interpretation of the several offices given some years ago by the late W.Bro. W. L. Wilmshurst under the title,
”The Book of the Perfect Lodge. ”
It is hoped that these notes will give the reader a clear understanding and appreciation of the responsibilities of these offices, the holders of which are really vehicles of ritual transference to and sharing with the candidate. A Masonic Lodge is not merely an assembly of persons; when duly opened it is a figure of each individual Mason, designed to be an object lesson in that most interesting of human studies: “the knowledge of oneself”.
Man is a threefold being:
First, he has an outside personality or body which confronts the outside world, a temporal (Earthly) one falling far short of his real nature. In the Craft this personality is personified by the Tyler, as the visible personality is outside the larger man within it. The Tyler, in the scheme of officers, has important duties to perform, so too has the body of personality of each of us in relation to the larger self within.
Second. Man has also an inside personality, a large psychological field called the Soul animating and actuating the outside self as the interior of the Lodge does the exterior and it is to the mysteries of the human soul that the science of the Craft is directed. Beyond these two abides a third which is the supreme factor.
This is the Divine Immortal Spirit within him, His true ‘‘Center.”
The Spirit exists within the Soul just as the Soul pours breath to the body, but only in the Soul, polished, rectified and worked from the Rough Ashlar to the Perfect Cube condition, and its achievement, means mastership: The apex of all within
The Lodge has seven primary Officers, personifying broadly the sevenfold structure of the Soul following the septenary principle in nature. It also has seven secondary Officers, these, together with the Immediate Past Master a total of fifteen, (15) a number often recurring in our teachings.
You should observe how each office is duplicated: Two Wardens, Two Deacons, Two Doorkeepers, while the other officers form pairs, or counterparts, symbolizing the spiritual and material, acting upwards or downwards, actively or passively, as the will directs them.
The Tyler armed with a sword, emblematic of the power of the Spirit to defend and control the lower nature of man while labouring at the task of self perfecting. He stands in the outer court while the mysteries of Light are being performed in the Sanctuary. The teaching of this symbolic office being to set a watch on our lips and keep (guard) the door of our hearts, even as in silence and loyalty he guards the door of our Lodge.
The Inner Guard, like his Brother Outer Guard, is armed with a sword, for the door of the Temple of the Human Soul must be watched on both sides. He is the least of the Officers within the Lodge, but is it not written in the Volume of the Sacred Law.,
”It is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness”?
The teaching of this symbolic office being to ever stand on guard challenging all intruding impulses from our outer nature lest unworthy ones break into the sanctuary of our Souls.
The Junior Deacon, to the Senior Deacon in his Eastern Sunlight, he is the younger Brother serving to carry the work of his elder Brother forward from West to South so that the Wisdom and Love of the Master may be transmitted throughout the Temple. The Rod he carries is an emblem of peace and he goes forth from the Temple as the messenger of peace to those who seek to turn from darkness to light and to help each Candidate in finding that which his heart seeketh. The teaching of this symbolic office being to support and encourage a Candidate on his path to the East teaching him his first steps toward the Master, and not to leave him until he has received his sight.
The Senior Deacon transmits the Light of the East to the Darkness of the West which his Junior Brother Deacon then communicates to the South and so illuminates the Temple in all its parts.
He escorts, protects and instructs the Brethren in the difficult steps of the winding stairs, finally to be with them when they enter darkness and to teach them how to plant their feet in safety till the day dawns and shadows flee away.
The teaching of this symbolic office is to minister to and guide those who have already entered upon the lesser mysteries of their being and now seek advancement to greater ones.
The Junior Warden is stationed in the South, midway between the regions of Dawn and the Setting Sun, and represents the mind or intelligence of the Soul, and therefore is, as a Warden of the Soul, appointed to prove his Brethren ·Masons and to test all strangers claiming to be such and seeking entrance. His Badge, the Plumb Rule, is the emblem of the upright Soul. His Column has ascending sides of fluted beauty breaking into leafage and tendrils of Wisdom.
The teaching of this symbolic office being- When the Sun disappears, and the Lodge is closed, he raises his column as a sign that, during the hours of darkness, Rectitude and Wisdom shall prevail in all outwards ways.
The Senior Warden is stationed in the West without light save by reflection from the Worshipful Master in the East, representing the Soul of Man, which, until the light shines upon and quickens it, is a thing of darkness, therefore it is likened unto the moon which governs the night. His Badge is the level of equality, symbolically showing that all Souls stand upon an equality before the Great Architect, and must be adjusted and tested by the level of Divine perfection. The teaching of this symbolic office being to present Candidates out of Darkness into Light, invest them with symbolic clothing, marking their progress thereto and indicating in emulation of the Great Architect of the Universe that it is appointed to every Soul to build a body for itself by its own energies and labour so when the Temple of its Mortality is dissolved, it may wear a body of immortality, clothed with Light as a garment.
The Worshipful Master is placed in the East that through him the Eternal Spirit of Wisdom may flow into every part of the Lodge, in the V.O.S.L. it is written:
”Wisdom hath built her house and hath hewn out her seven pillars.” (The stated offices, as remarked upon, being seven in number.)
And this temporal house of Mysteries is built after the design of Wisdom. The Worshipful Master being distinguished by the square, turned downwards, signifying that being the representative of the Great Architect, the Master may shape all those below him entrusted to his care, to suffer no conflict or animosity to arise, and to assist in making perfect in all parts of the Body, Soul and Spirit.
The Master’s Gavel, by which he rules the Lodge, indicates that he governs his own person under the will of the Master Architect,
“for he that ruleth over himself is greater than he who conquers a City.”
He appoints the Officers of the Lodge and sets each living stone in its true place. He imparts the emblematic secrets and Mysteries of our Order to Initiates that they may truly receive their sight, be established in strength, and raised from death to life. The teaching of this symbolic office being . The Master of the Lodge is the servant of the Great Master Architect raising his Brethren towards the Throne of Wisdom to which they have chosen him and so carrying out the law, order and wisdom of the Master of Men’s Souls that in company with the Craft throughout the World, and in Worlds beyond, our Building may be fitly framed together, and grow in beauty and strength into one universal Temple of Perfect humanity.
The Immediate Past Master is at the heart-side of the Worshipful Master in order that his knowledge, (gained by experience), may be available to the Worshipful Master when required. While the office generally is one of almost silence, it serves to express that in the Immediate Past Master the work of the Craft is completed.
Yet did he but speak he would say his heart had found that which he set out to seek, in that all veils had been removed in his journeyings from the West towards the East and that he is now within the assembly of just men made perfect having passed on the sceptre to his successor. The teaching of this symbolic office being that the function of the Immediate Past Master is to assist in the work of the Hierarchy he has now joined in the East and to serve as a link in that endless life chain which unites the Craft on Earth with the Hierarchies of the Grand Lodge above.
The Completed Lodge The meaning of the whole can be expressed in simple terms, thus the Lodge becomes the Temple wherein we meet, first tyling the door to shut out that which might interrupt our thoughts, we walk on the mosaic pavement figuratively crushing out the world and its diversities from our minds, and we stand with our backs to the outer-world all facing towards the centre.
The Master in the East, after finding all in order, enlightens the Lodge by making it a sanctuary in the name of The Great Architect of the Universe . It is then open to every Brother seeking to enter in peace and harmony and in the Spirit contained in the teachings of our Science.
With this Spirit within, then can a man be truly initiated and shown the path to Light.
The Lodge being Holy Ground, and the Temple consecrated to Masonic Work, symbolizes the Temple of the Human Being .
I n such a Temple, wherein detachment from the physical exists, emanates a Spirit which cannot fail to impress a Candidate that beyond the Ceremonial Veil there is to be found a revelation of the scheme for humanity designed by t h e Great Architect of the Universe which may be discovered by perseverance. This revelation comes only by gradual progress through each of the seven offices when, ultimately, he finds himself at ”Oneness,” with the Great Master, whose representative he then is, as Worshipful Master of the Lodge, and thereby enabled to shed the rays of Spiritual Truth upon his Brethren.
Comment This sharing has been taken from the Manual “A Journey to the Spirit” recently completed & made available to all Brethren who may be interested in the WHY we, as Freemasons, do as we do.
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless == Norm