The Cornerstone and The Keystone

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Since modern Freemasonry has evolved from the Operative Stonemasons, it is important that we understand the importance of the symbolism of the Cornerstone and the Keystone. For centuries, the Cornerstone has been lain by Masons in public ceremonies. The Cornerstone is the first stone laid in the building of an edifice. It is placed in the northwest corner of what will be the future structure. There is a symbolic significance for this. As a Freemason, we learn to “build our Spiritual Edifice”, which is a metaphor for our quest for knowledge and for the betterment of self. Knowledge of the nature of our minds, spirits, and of the universe. In Freemasonry, the term “Light” is used for knowledge of these things. As the Northwest is the opposite area of where the Sun rises and shines throughout it’s traversal of the sky, it is obvious why it would be chosen as the beginning point or point of the least amount of light. Ancient stonemasons looked at a structure as a smaller representation of the universe or the microcosm of the macrocosm. The structure began as a single stone (or in ignorance and imperfection if you look at it esoterically). It will inevitably end in balance and completion of the whole (or enlightened and learned esoterically). This is what the Speculative (or philosophical) Mason is taught to do with their pursuit of Masonic knowledge. It’s not to say that since the Cornerstone is in darkness that it is unimportant. Quite the contrary. The Cornerstone is a beginning and we all have to have a beginning to also have an end. This is why Masons consider the Cornerstone to be so important. It is the departure point. The Cornerstone is imbued with information about the structure and it’s builders. Esoterically, we can look at this as information about our self in our rudimentary state. As we build our Spiritual Edifice (our Spiritual Being and Virtuous Life), we add knowledge and understanding (or perfected stones) until we reach the point of having a beautiful, balanced and completed structure.

This completion (or enlightenment) is where the Keystone comes in. The Keystone is the stone placed at the top of an archway which give the arch it’s stability. It completes the structure. Masonic legend harkens back to the time of King Solomon and the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was long before the arch existed in architecture. Despite this, it is for certain that there was a completion stone (called a capstone or copestone) that would have been placed when completing the Temple (the arch and Keystone symbolism was obviously added to Masonic ritual after it’s addition to architecture.) Regardless, the symbolism of the Keystone is highly important. As the Keystone completes the arch and gives it it’s strength and stability, so does the diligent pursuit of knowledge and living a morally upright lifestyle. As you can see, this concept of balance and structure is as important in Masonic symbolism as it is in the actual art of building a physical structure. It has a beginning and an end. An Alpha and an Omega. Both are equally important because you can’t have one without the other.

This concept permeates not only Freemasonry, but other mystical traditions as well. To close this article, we will visit one more concept that uses this same analogy. The Chakra system is prevalent in many Eastern religions. It also has found it’s way into Western thought through various means. The body has multiple energy centers within it. Starting at the base of the spine, or in the reproductive organs and going up, sequentially to the top of the head. These Chakras can be “opened up” or activated through meditation and yoga. The Root Chakra (or Muladhara) is located in the reproductive organs of the body. This is symbolic of the lower self or base-emotions. In other words, one who only has an active Muladhara Chakra is living in and acting in a low vibration of consciousness. Not capable of enlightenment. This can be likened to the Cornerstone. If the Cornerstone were the starting and ending point of a structure, there would be no structure. Just a cold stone sitting in the darkness of the Northwest. As an individual learns to activate each Chakra up the body, they gain more spiritual and life knowledge (this is likened to the building process of building our Spiritual Edifice.) The activation of the Chakras is capped off with the activation of the Crown Chakra (or Sahasrara). Activation of this Chakra is said to create a moment of enlightenment and understanding. This can be likened to the placement of the Keystone. This is the completion of the journey. As a building must start with the Cornerstone and end with the Keystone, the activation of the Chakras must start in the dark northwest corner so-to-speak of our lower emotions of the Root Chakra and end in the Crown. This is not to say that the Root Chakra is unimportant. Again, as in Masonic allegory, you cannot have one without the other. You must have the progression from lowest to highest. This creates balance with the Chakras which is necessary for mastery.

As a student of the Mysteries of Life, we must all apply these concepts to our lives and remember that we are all progressing through life toward the unknown realm of beyond. What we do in the present is as important as what we do in the future. We must spread love, beauty, balance, and light to the world!

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The Truth about Masonic Light

ancientWe have all heard the term Light used in reference to the Masonic teachings, but seldom is a reason given. This word is taken by the conspiracy theorists and misconstrued to mean all sorts of outlandish things. They like to point out that Masonry is some sort of Sun-cult, or that Lucifer is somehow involved. They couldn’t be more wrong. I will admit, that Masonry has lost touch with it’s roots in many regards. In fact, many modern Masons have tried to distance the fraternity from these roots. This is yet another attempt to conceal the true teachings of the Craft and to keep people back from finding the truth. The most common description of speculative (philosophic) Freemasonry is “A peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory, and illustrated with symbols.” However, this description is about as vague as what most peoples understanding of the Craft is, even it’s members!

Freemasonry has been revered and hated since it’s inception. It truly is a paradox. It’s rituals have become watered-down and convoluted. It’s membership has gone from primarily intellectuals to extreme-conservatism. It’s focus has changed from a society of learning and self-exploration, to a dinner club. Despite all of this, there are still many well-meaning Masons out there who understand the importance of what the Craft has to teach us.

When we hear the term Light, many things come to mind, in particular “enlightenment”. The Age of Enlightenment took Europe by storm in the 1700’s and shook the foundation of the ruling class of the time. Illuminates such as Voltaire, John Locke, and Sir Isaac Newton were at the forefront of this movement. They were seeking more equality for the people, the opportunity for scientific work and exploration, and freedom of thought and religion. To the advances that they made, we all owe a debt of gratitude. What they were seeking was Light.

This Light emanates within everyone of us. With a renewed spirit of freedom, the individual has the opportunity to seek Light. This light is Truth. You have heard the term “inner-light”. This is the answer. The Light that we all seek is within. It just has to be activated, or turned on. This light is self-knowledge, and as we know, the path to all true wisdom begins within us. As an individual becomes more aware of their consciousness and place in the universe, a great change occurs. No longer is the individual trapped in their worldliness. They are free to seek and they have begun a spiritual quest. They are now headed up that spiral staircase to the Heavens of their own wisdom. This is the Masonic journey to Light. With this light comes true love, for when an individual understands their own psyche, they realize their connection to everyone and everything around them. They know that Love is the answer. Showing love to others, will ease the burden of all suffering. This encapsulates “Christ Consciousness”.

This is the true reason that Freemasonry was hated. It was hated because it gives the individual empowerment. It promotes equality between different social classes and freedom of religious belief and nothing could have been more dangerous to the ruling classes at the time. America was formed on these principles and was led by brave intellectuals, many of whom were members of the Masonic Fraternity. They were seeking a new opportunity for all of us to find our own Light.

America and Freemasonry have lost their way and are now embracing darkness. The darkness of dogma, corruption, and greed. We have given up our quest to find balance and inner-light and given into the pursuit of creature comforts. We are about as far away from the light as is possible. We live in pure darkness in these times, but not all hope is lost. Just as Freemasonry has survived the ages, so has the Light. It will never go out because it is part of the human soul. We must go within and re-light this Light. Let it guide us and help us find our way. Our way true care, love, and balance. This Light is still held in the Masonic ritual and is inherent to all Creation. We must bring forth this Light to the world!