NOTE: The basic and judgmental principles of masonry are found in what is ordinarily known as “Blue Lodge Masonry”. Blue Lodge Masonry consists of three Degrees: the apprentice; the Fellowcraft; The Master.
The following quotations are from Albert Pike’s book On “Morals and Dogma.”
“Force, unregulated or ill regulated, is not only wasted in the void, like that of gunpowder burned in open air, and steam unconfined by science; but, striking in the dark, and its blows meeting only the air, they recoil and bruise itself. It is destruction and ruin, it is the volcano, the earthquake, the cyclone; – not growth and progress. It is Polyphemus blinded, striking at random, and falling headlong among the sharp rocks by the impetus of his own blows.
“The blind Force of the people is a force that must be economized, and also managed, as the blind Force of steam, lifting the ponderous iron arms in turning the large wheels, is made to bore and rifle the cannon interweave the most delicate lace. It must be regulated by Intellect. Intellect is to the people and the people’s Force, what the slender needle of the compass is to the ship – it’s soul, always counseling the huge mass of wood and iron, and always pointing to the North. To attack the citadels built up on all sides against the human race by superstitions, despotisms, and prejudices, the Force must have a brain and a law. Then its deeds of daring produced permanent results, and there is real progress. Then there are sublime conquests. Thought is a force, and philosophy should be an energy, finding its aim and its effects in the amelioration of mankind. The two great motors are Truth and Love. When all these Forces are combined, and guided by the Intellect, and regulated by the Rule of Right, and Justice, and of combined and systematic movement in effort, the great revolution prepared for by the ages will begin to march. The Power of the Deity Himself is in equilibrium with His Wisdom. Hence the only results are Harmony.”
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“Though Masonry neither usurps the place of, nor apes religion, prayer is an essential part of our ceremonies. It is the aspiration of the soul toward the Absolute and Infinite Intelligence, which is the One Supreme Deity, most feebly and misunderstandingly characterized as an “ARCHITECT.” Certain faculties of many are directed toward the Unknown– thought, meditation, prayer. The unknown is an ocean, of which conscience is the compass. Thought, meditation, prayer, are the great mysterious pointings of the needle. It is a spiritual magnetism that thus connects the human soul with the Deity. These majestic irradiations of the soul pierced through the shadow toward the light.”
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“A Lodge is defined to be an assemblage of Freemasons, duly congregated, having the sacred writings, square, and compass, and the charter, or warrant of constitution, authorizing them to work. The room or place in which they meet, representing some part of King Solomon’s Temple, is also called the Lodge; and it is that we are now considering. It is supported by Three great columns, Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty represented by the Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden, the columns that support the Lodge.”
“In the Ancient Orient, all religion was more or less a mystery and there was no divorce from it of philosophy. The popular theology, taking the multitude of allegories and symbols for realities, degenerated into a worship of the celestial luminaries, of imaginary Deities with human feelings, passions, appetites, and lusts, of idols, stones, animals, reptiles. The Onion was sacred to the Egyptians, because it’s different layers were a symbol of the concentric heavenly spheres. Of course the popular religion could not satisfy the deeper longings and thoughts, the loftier aspirations of the Spirit, or the logic of reason. The first, therefore, was taught to the initiated in the Mysteries. There, also it was taught by symbols. The vagueness of symbolism, capable of many interpretations, reached what the palpable and conventional creed could not. It’s indefiniteness acknowledged the abstruseness of the subject; it treated that mysterious subject mystically; it endeavored to illustrate what it could not explain; to excite an appropriate feeling, if it could not develop an adequate idea; and to make the image a mere subordinate conveyance for the conception, which itself never became obvious or familiar.
“Thus the knowledge now imparted by books and letters, was of old conveyed by symbols; and the priests invented or perpetuated a display of rites and exhibitions, which were not only more attractive to the eye than words, but often more suggestive and more pregnant with meaning to the mind.
“Masonry, successor of the Mysteries, still follows the ancient manner of teaching. Her ceremonies are like the ancient mystic shows, – not the reading of an essay, but the opening of a problem, requiring research, and constituting philosophy, the arch-expounder. Her symbols are the instruction she gives. The lectures are endeavors, often partial and one-sided, to interpret the symbols. He who would become an accomplished Mason must not be content merely to hear, or even to understand, the lectures; he must, aided by them, and they having, as it were, marked out the way for him, study, interpret, and develop the symbols for himself.”
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“Christianity taught the doctrine of FRATERNITY; but repudiated that of political EQUALITY, by continually inculcating obedience to Caesar, into those lawfully in authority, masonry was the first apostle of EQUALITY. In the Monastery there is a fraternity and equality, but no liberty. Masonry added that also, and claimed for man the three-fold heritage, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, and FRATERNITY.”
“To understand literally the symbols and allegories of Oriental books as to ante-historical matters is willfully to close our eyes against the Light. To translate the symbols into the trivial and commonplace, is the blundering of mediocrity.
“All religious expression is symbolism; since we can describe only what we see, and the true objects of religion are THE SEEN. The earliest instruments of education were symbols; and they and all other religious forms differed and still differ according to external circumstances and imagery, and according to differences of knowledge and a mental cultivation. All language is symbolic, so far as it applied to mental and spiritual phenomena and action. All words have, primarily, a material sense, however they may afterward get, for the ignorant, a spiritual non-sense. ‘To retract,’ for example, is to draw back, and when applied to a statement, is symbolic, as much so as a picture of an arm drawn back, to express the same thing, would be. The very word ‘spirit‘ means ‘breath’, from the Latin verb, spiro, breathe.
“To present a visible symbol to the eye of another is not necessarily to inform him of the meaning which that symbol has to you. Hence the philosopher soon superadded to the symbols explanations addressed to the ear, susceptible of more precision, but less effective and impressive than the painted or sculptured forms which he endeavored to explain. Out of these explanations grew by degrees a variety of narrations, whose true object in meaning were gradually forgotten, or lost in contradictions and incongruities. And when these were abandoned, and Philosophy resorted to definitions and formulas, its language was but a more complicated symbolism. Attempting in the dark to grapple with and picture ideas impossible to be expressed. For as with the visible symbol, so with the word: to utter it to you does not inform you of the exact meaning which it has to me; and thus religion and philosophy became to a great extent disputes as to the meaning of the words. The most abstract expression for DEITY, which link which can supply, is but a sign or symbol for an object beyond our comprehension, and not more truthful and adequate then the images of OSIRIS and VISHNU, or their names, except as being less sensuous and explicit. We avoid sensuousness only by resorting to simple negation. We come at last to divine spirit by saying that it is not matter. Spirit is – spirit.”