When I first entered the Masonic Lodge as an initiate, I did so with a curiosity of the meaning behind it all. I had been fascinated with The Craft since high school, but had no real idea what it was all about. Now in my 4th year as a member of both the Blue Lodge and York Rite I feel I have a slight, but significant grasp on the teachings. However, I still have a long way to go in learning the true secrets that The Craft has to teach me.
One of the first things that struck me about Masonry, was the orderliness of everything. All of the proceedings of the Lodge including the actual degree workings are ordered in a certain way and doing them differently is not only frowned upon, but actually violates the laws of Masonry! Being of a naturally rebellious mindset, this was at first foreign to me. Never before had I felt my actions were scrutinized and I had always felt that laws were meant to be broken. There were times during ritual or Lodge proceedings that I would do or say something incorrect and would quickly be corrected by an experienced Brother. At first, I didn’t know what to think of this and found myself offended. Why would these men, whom I barely knew, judge my actions so quickly and harshly? I was put off by this at first, but decided that there must be a reason, so I decided that I should stick with it.
One important thing to learn when going through a progressive science, like Freemasonry, is to admit right off the bat that you know nothing. This is something that I struggled with at first. It’s not that I feel I know a lot; quite the contrary, but I felt that judging someone’s actions, especially someone that you hardly know was rude and unnecessary. I just didn’t understand it. The main issue for me was that I was not used to ritual. I had never been an avid church goer or involved in many group activities. I just never had felt a need for those types of activities. This taking part in a group activity was really foreign to me. The thing that I really didn’t get was why things had to be done in a precise way with no deviations.
As my knowledge has grown, so has my understanding of ritual. Many Brothers within the Lodge system never think twice about why we are told to do things in a certain way. Many of them are older and simply grew up with military backgrounds, or with much more structured lives than I had. Many of them do these rituals without ever questioning the reasons behind them. The fact of the matter is, they are perpetuating these systems without question. That is totally fine and understandable. Masonry appeals to many different people for many different reasons, and should remain that way.
The truth of the matter is, much like Ceremonial Magic rituals, Free-masonic ritual is structured in a certain way to empower it. The physical set up of the Lodge room, the movement of the individuals during ritual work and proceedings, and the order of hierarchy is all intentional and empowers the work. The real goal of Masonic work is to help the individual improve themselves through a process. The mind must be open to transformative change. It dawned on me one day, that the repetitiveness of the ritual must have some psychological impression on the mind. This is in fact, exactly what it does. I just knew that there was something to the work that felt transformative.
As we learn in the Craft, each revealing exposes a new veil. It is a never ending process, but a powerful one indeed. This can be transformative to your entire life. Sometimes, you must give way to the natural order of things and not try to fight it. This is one of mankind’s biggest mistakes; trying to control nature, rather than coexisting with it. Some rules are meant to be broken; rules that limit our rights and our potential, but rules that help liberate should be understood and followed. Sometimes giving and and going with the flow is the best way to go. Despite the seemingly paradoxical concept, sometimes tying yourself to a limited system opens unlimited doors to freedom!