In this episode, we discuss the 18th Degree - “Knight Rose Croix” as we continue our exploration of "Morals & Dogma: The Annotated Edition". It is highly recommended that you read the chapter in order to fully follow our discussion.
"Morals and Dogma" is available from these sites:
Gene: Hello Dave.
David: Hello Gene.
Gene: Are you ready to face the “Dark Side”?
David: Well… I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. But before we get started, as always, I want to remind everyone that Show Notes, Chapter Markers and a Transcript of this, and all episodes, are available on our website - WayOfTheHermit.com.
Ritual Setting (01:35)
David: This Degree is the capstone Degree of the “Chapter of Rose Croix” which is supposed to reveal the “Secret of the Reconciliation of Opposites”. In the “Ritual of the Degree”, the candidate is taken on a tour through three scenes, which are called “apartments”. Gene, what are these three apartments?
Gene: The first apartment is called “The Dark Chamber” and “depicts the world in chaos under the tyranny of evil. The “Sacred Word'' is again lost. On the floor are scattered broken columns and fragments of the Working Tools of Symbolic Masonry. The candidate enters this apartment lost in the midst of darkness, error and false philosophy, confused among the wrecks of (their) old system of thought.”
David: What do you think it means when it says that “The Sacred Word is again lost”? That’s happened a few times now.
Gene: Yeah. It says that the “Lost Word” “represents “the loss of reason and moral sense and the loss of a true conception of Deity….In the world represented in this apartment, man has made not only God, but the Devil, in his own image… The candidate is asked if he will join the others who have labored in vain both day and night in the search for the “Lost Word”, the Key to the terrible labyrinth.” When you agree to join the search, you’re led to the second apartment.
David: What’s in the second apartment?
Gene: The second apartment is the proverbial “Dark Side”. It’s described as looking like Dante and Milton’s depictions of hell or “the abode of the damned, so often referred to in many of the world’s religions”. And It’s compared to the Greek Hades, the Jewish Gehenna, the Roman Tartarus and the Christian Hell.
David: So what do the demons and the torments you see there mean?
Gene: It leaves that to your own interpretation. It says that “To some, they are the actual representations of the fate and punishment awaiting those who break God's laws; to others, they are just a symbol of earthly fate and punishment… To all of us, these flames symbolize the passions that infest the hearts of men… against which Masonry has always warred. It is a mighty conflict in which we must first gain mastery over ourselves.”
David: So, by the broadest definition, this chamber is the human heart with all of our doubts, and sorrows and suffering personified as demons.
David: It’s the experience of life, but we usually don’t want to acknowledge it.
Gene: I’ve scribbled in the margins on that one - “Dark night of the Soul”. As a human being, if you do not acknowledge and face the darkness and doubt that’s within you, you can’t be complete.
David: So after this “trial by fire”, we receive a new name?
Gene: We do. We’re given another name, called the “True Word”, to replace the “Lost Word”.
David: The word we lost was the one we got in the 14th Degree, which was called the “True Name”. And the word we find here is called the “True Word”?
David: So what is the “True Word” revealed here?
Gene: You’re told that it’s “INRI”. And you’re then told several possible interpretations of the letters. One of which is esoteric.
David: Then you’re led to the third apartment?
Gene: Right. The last apartment “represents the Universe, freed from the insolent dominion and tyranny of the Principle of Evil, and brilliant with the true Light that flows from the Supreme Deity.” In the East is a pentagram with a yod in the center. Beneath that is a picture of an empty tomb and on one side is a pelican and the words “Lux e Tenebris” (light in darkness) and on the other side are three crosses with the center one taller than the other two.
David: So, the third apartment is the victory of the Light over the darkness. Anything else about the Ritual of the Degree?
Gene: One more thing, It says that, “In this chamber the instruction provides various interpretations of the existence of evil which have been credited by the philosophers and theologians of the past. Whether one chooses to accept the concept of evil as the shadow of good or as the malignant influence of a personified principle of evil, such as Satan, or… as the opportunity for the practice of virtue in the face of adversity, Masonry makes no judgment.”
David: Alright. So, that’s the Ritual. What’s the purpose of the Degree?
Purpose of the Degree (06:01)
Gene: The “Ritual - Monitor & Guide” says that “This degree has long held a special place of honor. It is one of the most philosophical and practical degrees in Freemasonry, it encourages earnest thought and introspection. You will here be presented with the great enigma of the universe: the question of opposites, and reconciliation of sin and wrong, and pain and suffering, with the theory of the unbounded and unwearying beneficence of God. The degree both reveals and conceals one of the great secrets of Alchemy, and then unfolds the knowledge required preparatory to receiving the Royal Secret.”
David: So we’ve been leading up to this all through the “Chapter of Rose Croix”. How does it answer the Alchemical enigma of the “Reconciliation of Opposites”?
Gene: It declares that Nature and Reason unite in demonstrating the infinite God and the immortality of the divine essence in man” and that “an esoteric meaning will also be entrusted to you.”
David: So what’s the payoff? What’s the esoteric meaning?
Gene: It says “That Reason is a reflection of the supreme intelligence” and through it we can decipher the symbols in “the Great Book of Nature.” And it claims that once we really understand that this innate ability is actually a manifestation of Divinity, that a change takes place in our worldview.
David: What kind of change?
Gene: It’s pretty cryptically worded. It says that “when the true Word is recovered, the Cubicle Stone is changed into the Mystic Rose; the Blazing Star reappears in its entire splendor, the columns of the Temple are reestablished, and the Working Tools of Masonry are restored. The True Light will dispel the darkness, and the “New Law” will rule upon earth.”
David: That’s interesting. What is the “New Law” that it’s referring to there?
Gene: I’ll read a quote I got from “A Bridge To Light”.
Gene: It says - “this degree sets forth the coming of the “New Law, the “Law of Love”, (which was) proclaimed in unmistakable terms by Jesus of Nazareth, after centuries of spiritual and intellectual darkness in the world when the “Sacred Word” was again lost. The supreme message brought to the world at that time was the proclamation of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This proclamation, then presented by a specific historical figure, is not to be taken as an application of a particular religious belief… (We must) understand that Freemasonry may teach great truths that do not exclusively belong to any one particular religion.” And that’s all I’ve got on the Purpose of the Degree.
David: OK. Let’s start into the Degree Lecture then. What’s the first thing you have?
Morals and Dogma (08:56)
Gene: Well, as kind of a continuation of that last quote, the Lecture starts out by saying again that “Each of us makes such applications to his own faith and creed, of the symbols and ceremonies of this Degree, as seems to him proper…. Like the legend of the Master Hiram, in which some see figured the condemnation and sufferings of Christ; others those of the unfortunate Grand Master of the Templars; …and others still the annual descent of the Sun at the winter Solstice to the regions of darkness, the basis of many an ancient legend.”
David: Yeah, my first quote is a similar one. It says, “No Mason has the right to interpret the symbols of this Degree for another, or to refuse him its mysteries… Listen (then) to our explanation of the symbols of the Degree, and then give them such further interpretation as you think fit.”
Gene: We’ve talked about religious toleration in earlier degrees, but because Christian symbols are the ones most used in the Rituals, Pike keeps stressing toleration in this Degree. The quote I had about that is - "We teach a belief in no particular creed, as we teach unbelief in none. Whatever higher attributes the Founder of the Christian Faith may, in our belief, have had or not have had, none can deny that He taught and practised a pure and elevated morality, even at the risk and to the ultimate loss of His life. He was not only the benefactor of a disinherited people, but a model for mankind.”
The Enigma of Good and Evil (10:28)
David: So, with all of the precautions about how to, or not to, interpret the symbols in this Degree, let’s dig into it. The Degree promises to answer the question of “Good vs Evil”. That sounds like a tall order.
Gene: Indeed. And as a little setup, the first apartment was the “Broken World”, sort of the way things appear now. The second apartment was the “Dark Side” and the third is the “Light”. So, “there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run”... you know the rest!
David: I do. But that fits perfectly with the theme of the Degree, the choice is yours. “There’s still time to change the road you’re on”.
David: I’ve got a quote - “The primitive men met in no Temples made with human hands… (but) in the open air, under the overarching mysterious sky, in the great World-Temple, they uttered their vows and thanksgivings, and adored the God of Light; of that Light that was to them the type of Good, as darkness was the type of Evil.”
Gene: The Lecture states this as ”Light, the true knowledge of Deity, the Eternal Good, for which Masons in all ages have sought.”
David: Masons are always seeking “More Light”. Anything else here?
Gene: I have one more quote from this section.
Gene: “All antiquity solved the enigma of the existence of Evil, by supposing the existence of a Principle of Evil, of Demons, fallen Angels, an Ahriman, a Typhon, a Shiva, a Loki, or a Satan, that, first falling themselves, and plunged into misery and darkness, tempted man to his fall, and brought sin into the world. All believed in a future life, to be attained by purification and trials; in a state or successive states of reward and punishment; and in a Mediator or Redeemer, by whom the Evil Principle was to be overcome, and the Supreme Deity reconciled to His creatures. The belief was general, that He was to be born of a Virgin, and suffer a painful death.”
David: Yeah. Pike is painting with a very broad brush there when he compares other religions on a point-by-point basis with Christianity. He has quotes from Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism and other systems, but those don’t always add up to them actually being equivalent.
Gene: He’s guilty of that in a lot of places. De Hoyos says in the footnote that “Exaggerated similarities between Jesus and other gods or holy men were common in Pike’s time. Modern scholarship corrects many of these mistaken notions.”
David: And that goes for his comparative religion information in general. This degree also repeats quite a bit of information from the last degree.
Gene: It does. It talks about Philo’s Gnosticism and Kabbalah again. But this is capstone Degree of the “Chapter Rose Croix”. You’d expect it to be like in the 14th Degree, which was the capstone of the “Lodge of Perfection”.
David: True. So, we’ll not repeat the discussion of Gnosticism or Kabbalah. Let’s just hit the high points of how they relate to this Degree.
The Supreme Being (13:26)
Gene: OK. I’ve got a quote to start that off - “To Philo the Jew, as to the Gnostics, the Supreme Being was the Primitive Light, or Archetype of Light, the Source whence the rays emanate that illuminate Souls. He is the Soul of the World, and as such, acts everywhere. He himself fills and bounds his whole existence, and his forces fill and penetrate everything.”
The Word or Logos (13:51)
David: I think the “True Name of God” revealed in the 14th Degree refers to that source of Light, but we’ve been told repeatedly that it was lost somehow. But we get another name, the “True Word” in this Degree. What do you think it refers to?
Gene: It refers to the Logos. I mean, it’s the letters over Jesus on the cross. He is the Logos of Christianity.
David: And the Logos is the fundamental organizing principle. So what is it?
Gene: It’s a slippery concept. Pike quotes the Greek priest Arius who says that “When God resolved to create the human race, He made a Being that He called The Word… to the end that this Being might give existence to men."
David: So it somehow creates humanity?
Gene: Maybe another way to say it is, that it’s the difference between human beings and the animals.
David: The Lecture says that “The True Word, (is) the knowledge… which our ancient brethren sought as the priceless reward of their labors on the Holy Temple: the Word of Life, the Divine Reason, "in whom was Life, and that Life was the Light of men"; "which shone in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not;" the Infinite Reason that is the Soul of Nature, immortal, of which the Word of this Degree reminds us; and to believe wherein and revere it, is the peculiar duty of every Mason.”
Gene: That’s interesting. It says that “Infinite Reason” is the “Soul of Nature”.
David: Yeah. And that it’s immortal and we’re supposed to “revere” it.
Gene: And it says that those that revere the Logos, or the Son, are called “Sons of the Logos” and those who have more reverence for the Source, or the Father, are called the “Sons of God”. What is the difference?
David: The way I think of it, the Logos is our own rationality, which we can learn to actually witness, as opposed to pure consciousness, which is behind everything, but which we can’t approach as easily. The Logos you can think of rising and setting with each individual birth and death, but it’s immortal because it's the archetype of rationality. So long as humans exist, it will.
Gene: That’s a nice reading of that. To me, one is “The Source” and the other is the “Spoken Word”. Like how God speaks reality into existence. The quote I had for that was - "His Image is the Word (or Logos), a form more brilliant than fire, (but) which is not pure Light… The Word is the Vehicle by which God acts on the Universe; the World of Ideas by means whereof God has created visible things.”
A Religion of Light (16:30)
David: So, it’s the patterns or formulas behind forms, or what David Bohm called “implicate order”... and it’s all framed in terms of Light and Darkness.
Gene: It’s weird because there are so many references to Light and Darkness in Masonry and in the Bible.
David: Yeah. It’s everywhere. Sort of hiding in plain sight.
Gene: You see it in other religions, too. It’s all about Light. I mean, Light is the main metaphor.
David: The first thing God says in the Bible is “Let there be Light”. Light was the first created thing.
Gene: And then there’s the Rainbow that God put in the sky after the Flood. That’s the seven colors of white light reflected through a prism. Which, as we said in the last Degree, relates to the seven lower Sephirah on the “Tree of Life” in the Kabbalah.
Light and Shadow (17:15)
David: Right. We talked about the Kabbalah and the “Tree of Life” in the 17th Degree. Good and evil or light and darkness relates to the “Tree of Life” through the two pillars of Mercy and Severity.
Gene: As we said last time, unbalanced severity is cruelty and unbalanced mercy is weakness that allows cruelty to go unpunished.
David: And that principle of having to find a balance or an equilibrium that is in line with the way things really are applies to all the opposites of life, including Good and Evil.
Gene: Right. Complete Good would mean that you always “have to do what they tell ya”. In other words, no “Free Will”. And on the other side of the coin, complete Evil would just be chaos. Basically the second apartment in the Ritual. Both the good and bad are living in your head side-by-side and you’ve got to find the reconciliation of the two in yourself.
David: Where do you start?
Gene: Once again… whose voice are you listening to? Who’s the captain? You’ve got to be able to see the good and evil in yourself and take charge.
David: Yeah. You first have to see that Light and Darkness are part of your makeup. You can’t have one without the other. My favorite quote in this Chapter says “God lays a man's life in the loom of time to a pattern we cannot see. Your heart is the shuttle. On one side of the loom is sorrow and on the other joy… white or black, as the pattern needs. When the garment of your life is finished and God lifts it up, all it's changing hues will glance out; it will then be known that the dark colors were as needful to beauty as the bright.”
The Glory of the Heavens (18:55)
Gene: That’s a cool one. The one I really liked was - “Nature is at once allegorical and factual, figurative and literal, symbolic and actual . It is a holy scripture of the Mason and upon it God has written his teachings for man to learn. Science is no enemy of religion but is rather the highest expression of religion…The hope of immortality is the beginning of religion… We teach that immortality is a natural consequence of the character of the soul itself.”
David: What did that make you think about?
Gene: I kept thinking of the slogan on Crowley’s “Equinox” - “The methods of science, the aim of religion.” That Science and Religion can’t be in opposition, because that would be silly. How are you supposed to have faith in something that you can prove is false? You’ve got to use all of your “God-given” tools… your senses, your memory, your logic… but also understand the limitations of those tools. “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”
David: Yeah, and that’s not hard when you really look at our place in the cosmos. There’s a quote that says, “When we gaze, of a moonless clear night, on the Heavens glittering with stars, and know that each fixed star of all the myriads is a Sun, and each probably possessing its retinue of worlds, all peopled with living beings, we sensibly feel our own unimportance in the scale of Creation.”
Gene: Exactly. I’ve got one more quote that I liked and wanted to include. It says, “The Universe… is the uttered Word of God… The forms of creation change, the suns and the worlds live and die like the leaves and the insects, but the Universe itself is infinite and eternal, because God Is, Was, and Will forever Be, and never did not think and create.”
The Dark Side of Doubt (20:48)
David: But just knowing how vast the universe is… that in a way leads to questions about where we fit in and how important we really are. There was a large section in the Chapter about all kinds of doubts that are bound to come up if you’re thinking seriously.
Gene: I’ve already talked about the “Dark Night of the Soul”. If you read your Bible, you realize that Christ himself had the moment of doubt to show that he was truly human.
David: Like “Does God really exist or are we just fantasizing to make ourselves feel better?”
Gene: And “Do we really have Free Will?” “Does a part of us live on after we die?”
David: And also even if there is an afterlife, what about us and what we are makes us believe that we’re even worthy of it?
Gene: Yeah. This is where I scribbled in the margins of my book - “Everybody hurts.” It was really dark and kind of depressing. But I thought it was honest and tried to face those things head-on, because all kinds of doubts come up. My quote to summarize all that says - “There is no human soul that is not sad at times. There is no thoughtful soul that does not at times despair. There is perhaps none… that is not at times startled and terrified by the awful questions it whispers to itself in its inmost depths. Some Demon seems to torture it with doubts, and to crush it with despair, asking whether, after all, is it certain that its convictions are true and its faith well founded: whether it is indeed sure that a God of Infinite Love and Beneficence rules the Universe, or only some great remorseless Fate and iron Necessity, hid in impenetrable gloom, and to which men and their sufferings and sorrows, (and) their hopes and joys, their ambitions and deeds, are of no more interest or importance than the motes that dance in the sunshine.”
David: Yeah. That’s pretty bleak. How are we supposed to start addressing those doubts?
Gene: All of the doubts really just boil down to Reason versus Faith. What do you do about things that, by definition, can’t be reasoned out? Here’s one more quote - “Must we always remain in this darkness of uncertainty, of doubt? Is there no mode of escaping from the labyrinth except by means of a blind faith, which explains nothing… and leads to the belief either in a God without a Universe, a Universe without a God, or a Universe which is itself a God?”
The Human Instinct (23:09)
David: The doubts that are inevitable and the state of confusion that results from it are symbolized in the broken world in the first apartment of the Degree Ritual. In that apartment it said there was a key to escaping this “terrible labyrinth”.
Gene: So, what’s the key?
David: We’re told it’s the Logos, which we’re told repeatedly is our rational capacity. That seems weird at first until you think about it. It’s the thing that makes us human. It’s the organizing principle of your mind.
Gene: Yeah well, the way I understand it, it’s what allows you to distinguish anything, not just “Good and Evil”, per se. It’s to compare anything. Some animals appear to be able to do that to a limited extent, but we mostly think of that as a “human-only” capability.
David: The Lecture treats it as a “human instinct”. Something that’s just there and so you take it for granted. Here’s a quote from the Lecture - “That organized matter can think or even feel at all, is the great insoluble mystery. "Instinct" is but a word without a meaning, or else it means inspiration. It is either the animal itself, or God in the animal, that thinks, remembers, and reasons; and instinct, according to the common acceptation of the term, would be the greatest and most wonderful of mysteries,--no less a thing than the direct, immediate, and continual promptings of the Deity.”
Gene: Yeah. Animals “just know” things that way. Like birds know when and which direction to fly for winter.
David: Right. But it’s saying we have instincts, too. Maybe some we’re not aware of, but this one is one that we can become aware of. It’s like a Light, or better symbolized in this degree as a “voice”, that tells you yes/no, good/bad, depending on what you’re considering.
Gene: How does this relate to the “still small voice” of the conscience from the 14th Degree?
David: I think it’s a deeper understanding of that. I think it’s saying that it’s not just about moral decisions, it’s about everything. There’s something in you that can see the whole picture and can give you accurate answers based on your knowledge, if you want to hear it.
Gene: So is that saying that you should just do the first thing that comes into your mind. Trust in yourself and all that?
David: That’s not what I think it’s saying. The instruction in this Degree presumes that you’ve done the work of all the previous degrees, so you’ve in a sense, “made contact” or whatever with the voice we called in the 14th Degree our “conscience”.
Gene: That’s some deep waters. But there’s a level of Faith involved there. Because you can’t ever prove beyond a doubt that the voice you’re hearing isn’t just saying what you wanted to hear. There was a quote in the Lecture, I think it’s from Søren Kierkegaard, “Faith begins where Reason ends."
David: And that’s a key of the Degree - what we think of as Reason is actually based on Faith.
Gene: Faith in what?
David: The “Human Instinct”, that little voice that says that the equation adds up, or that you understand something. It’s the part of your mind that makes judgments. When you really think about how you quote-unquote “know something”, it is like an instinct. You just “know it”. Like we know that 2 + 2 = 4.
Gene: Or that I like “peanut butter and naner samiches… uh huh”.
David: Yeah… that, too. But anyway, there’s a footnote from De Hoyos that quotes from the Degree Ritual that says,“Man’s intellectual convictions are revelations, And he needs no other evidence that there is a God, and that he himself is lighted by a ray of the Divine Light, and is a soul in its nature immortal.”
Gene: Wow. Yeah. That instinct, or whatever you want to call it… that’s what makes us Human. It’s our capability to reason… our ability to judge one thing against another.
David: And that innate voice or “Word” is the Logos, which I think is the “esoteric truth” of this Degree - That you can experience that “organizing principle” directly… and the “True Word” revealed in this Degree symbolizes how to do that.
The True Word (27:24)
Gene: The “Ritual - Monitor & Guide” says that “The “True Word” is an abbreviation of the inscription said by John in his gospels to have been placed above Jesus when he was crucified (INRI) meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. Others interpret these initials by the phrase, “Igne Natura Renovatur Integra”, meaning all nature is “all nature is renovated by fire” by which the sages of antiquity connected it with the greatest secret of nature - that of universal regeneration."
David: Universal regeneration was a theme of the Egyptian “Books of the Dead”, too where the deceased (or the candidate) traversed a lake of fire, like in the second apartment of the Degree Ritual, and then ultimately unites with the sun and is reborn.
Gene: Which ties into the symbolism in the third apartment of the crosses of the crucifixion and the empty tomb. Suffering, rebirth and immortality.
David: And also a direct correlation in nature. The way all of nature is rejuvenated in the Spring. But before that, at the Winter Solstice, when the Sun appears to rise at its Southernmost position on the horizon, it makes its lowest arc in the sky.
Gene: The shortest day.
David: Right. And the Sun appears to hang there at that Southernmost point for about three days.
Gene: One might even say that the Sun is crucified there between Heaven and Earth.
David: That’s a good analogy because following that crucifixion, there is an ascension. The Sun starts its ascent again. It makes longer arcs in the sky and the days get longer.
Gene: And all of nature is reborn along with it. That makes me think of the movie “Excalibur”. The “Secret of the Grail” is that “the land and the King are one”.
David: And then Percival tells Arthur, “Drink from the Chalice and you will be reborn and the land along with you.”
Gene: What does that mean to you?
David: That we are part of Nature, but we don’t realize it. We have some instincts like animals, but we have our own, too.
Gene: There is no separation. It’s really just one thing… and we just don’t see it.
Double-Sided Regalia (29:35)
David: Yeah. And that concept is reflected in all of the Regalia of the Degree. They’re all double-sided. The Cordon is red on one side and white on the other. The Apron is black and white. And the Jewel is silver on one side and gold on the reverse.
Gene: The “Ritual - Monitor & Guide” says the double-sided Regalia - “is symbolic of the mingling of good and evil in the world and in human nature. The white reminds us that good largely predominates in the world. The black is symbolic of that darkness which represents evil.”
The Rosy Cross (30:06)
David: So now that we’re talking about the Degree Regalia, let’s talk about the symbols that are on them. Let’s start with the Cross.
Gene: The vertical beam could be the Spiritual and the horizontal the Material, so it’s the crossroads, if you will, of the two worlds.
David: Or of human life, part Spiritual and part Physical… and the suffering that results from that amalgamation.
David: “A Bridge To Light” says “… neither the cross is a symbol nor the notion of a Messiah or uniquely Christian. They are manifestations of religious truths appropriate to the people who perceive them.” So what about the Rose and Cross?
Gene: Here’s a quote from the Ritual - “The rose which was anciently sacred to Aurora, goddess of the dawn, who represented the resurrection of the light and the renewal of life and therefore of immortality. The cross was also a symbol of life, and together the two symbols mean immortality won by suffering and sorrow.”
David: I’m thinking again of the “Broken World” of the first apartment, the suffering in the second and the resurrection of the Light in the third apartment.
Gene: Well… that's a good take on the Degree Ritual.
The Eagle and The Pelican (31:13)
David: What about the Eagle and the Pelican? They appear on opposite sides of all the regalia.
Gene: It says that the Eagle was sacred to Amun Ra in Egypt, Zeus in Greece and Jupiter in Rome and is supposed to symbolize liberty, freedom of thought and reason.
David: And the Pelican was a symbol of devotedness or beneficence since it’s shown feeding its young from its own flesh.
Gene: “Take, eat… this is my body.”
David: That’s a good catch. Yeah. That’s why it’s supposed to represent… all the “redeemers” who give of themselves, or even sacrifice themselves, for the common good.
Gene: I saw the Eagle and Pelican again like the two pillars of the Temple. The Eagle as Freedom and the Pelican as Devotion. Or like Self-interest on one hand and the desire for the common good on the other. You have to find a balance… an equilibrium. Because you’re fused together, like the Regalia… you’ve got two sides or two parts. It’s part of your fabric… your makeup.
David: And the Lecture relates it to the foundation of our system of goverment, centralized federal power has to coexist with states rights.
Gene: Centripetal and Centrifugal force. Pulling toward the center or away from it. Unity with the One or “Free Will”.
Crowned Compasses (32:30)
David: Right. What about the Crowned Compasses?
Gene: Well, they’re set at sixty degrees which is the angle of an equilateral triangle, but the thing that caught my eye was that on the regalia, they lay on top on the side of the Pelican, but under on the side of the Eagle.
David: What did you make out of that?
Gene: It just reinforced the idea of the spiritual being at the forefront with the Pelican, but in the background with the Eagle. Again, it’s the idea of self-interest versus… or really along with, the common good. It’s hardly ever one or the other.
The Tetractys (33:01)
David: Right. One more symbol discussed in detail in “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” was the Tetractys. In the last Degree we talked about it as an alternative to the “Tree of Life” for showing emanations from Unity.
Gene: Yes. The ten dots in the Tetractys are the ten Sephirah in the “Tree of Life”. It’s just a different reality map. That figure brings out other aspects that aren’t as apparent in the “Tree of Life” diagram.
David: And not to muddy the waters, but there are different versions of “The Tree of Life” diagram. But for both the “Tree of Life” and the Tetractys, it’s a good idea to research those a bit yourself, because the concepts they represent take study to really understand.
Gene: As always, Google is your friend.
David: Indeed it is. And I’ll link some resources in the “Show Notes” as well. Any other symbols you want to discuss before we wrap things up?
Gene: Nope. That’s all I had.
David: So, what’s your summary of this Degree?
Gene: I have a quote from “A Bridge To Light” that I thought would make a nice summary.
David: Go for it.
Gene: “Reason separates mankind from other forms of life; it is a gift. The spider may make a beautiful web but it is not an artist; the bee may dance its messages but that is not a ballet; termites construct large dwellings but they are not engineers. Man alone possesses the divine spark of intellect and therefore, reason… The great majority of mankind makes little or no use of this divine gift, choosing rather the simple life of physical labor, occasionally punctuated by periods of time devoted to hobbies or passive recreation.”
David: Very true. Reason is something we mostly take for granted. As humans, it’s just what we do.
Gene: It’s just instinctive.
David: It is. But this Degree calls on us to examine it more closely. Gene, what do you think this “knowledge and conversation” is supposed to do for us?
Gene: It's the next step in your movement to a higher spiritual place. It starts with what happened to you in the 14th, which was your foundational ideal of God. That's what you build on. Coming from that foundation to this point where that foundation changes because the embodiment of the suffering of Christ… that is not just an event that happened way back in history that is something that you embody yourself. To live is to suffer. I mean nobody gets a free ticket.
David: Right. So then the cross and crucifixion symbolize our shared suffering… which is actually the result of embodied reason.
Gene: But the rose can grow on the cross.
David: What does that mean in this context?
Gene: It’s the stone changing into the rose. This is where the Word comes into you. It really reminded me of what some would call your “higher self” or your “Holy Guardian Angel. This is the point of that connection. This is the contact. That's the point where the “Spirit of God” comes in to you, if you're willing to listen. And this one shows you that there is a voice that you can listen to and trust. So in whom do you put your trust?
David: Wow. That’s a great take on the teachings of the Degree.
Gene: What’s about you? What was your big takeaway from this Degree?
David: That the Logos is the archetype or pattern of rationality. And because it’s a “Natural Law”, it’s, in a sense immortal, because it rises and sets with each individual human life. But it’s also the cause of our suffering because it what we use to judge Good and Evil, and everything else. It creates the world of opposites that we live in. And that’s the enigma of the opposites. They’re wired into us.
Gene: It’s tricky.
David: It is. I think we’ve all had the experience of doing something that we knew beforehand was not going to turn out well. So there was a part of you that knew, but you chose to not listen. What we’re talking about here is starting to listen more to that part of yourself that sees a bigger picture. It’s been called the “Prophetic Voice” because it seems to be able to see the future. The task laid before us in this Degree is to let that Word live through us.
Gene: “The Word Made Flesh”.
David: Exactly. So, what are we doing next time?
Gene: In the next episode we discuss the 19th Degree - Grand Pontiff.
David: So… I’m David.
Gene: And I’m Gene.
David: Join us next time as we continue our exploration of “Morals and Dogma - The Annotated Edition”.
Gene: As we walk… the Way of The Hermit.