“Masonry is a progressive moral system, veiled in allegories and illustrated in symbols."---Albert Pike response to Mackey's Ancient Landmarks.
The Lessons of Freemasonry are often presented through the use of representation of something close to the subjects. What the students see or hear are not to be taken literally. The system is designed to challenge our "corporeal and mental faculties to their fullest energy." And just like a good teacher, the Order will make the serious student to ---Think. Often times, we hear voices of concern regarding this method of instruction and that the Craft as a whole needs to change and adapt to the present time. In my own myopic view, we should return to the basic or more traditional way in place of the contemporary system. Quality rather than quantity. A simple question of the reasons behind the indirect way of conveying the message through the use of symbols or allegories sounds a reasonable. However, the other or direct way might take away the one feature which makes the study of Freemasonry unique. Resembling an attempt to define beauty, the meaning of symbols and allegories will depend in the eye of the beholder.
Almost everybody recognizes the Square and Compass as the popular symbol of the Fraternity. Along with All-Seeing Eye, beehive and other emblems mentioned in our lectures, the hourglass is also a symbol of the Order. To non members, the hourglass is always a primitive watch use to approximate time. And as the modern era advances from mechanical to digital age, the hourglass is relegated as a museum artifact. For Masons, the hourglass does not represent time rather; it is a symbol of life. It reminds us that we, as mortals have only limited amount of sand within the glass. As each particle passed through the portal that determines the speed of passage, one had to reflect that in spite of the accomplishments, accolades and future hopes, those sands will continue to pour regardless. And when the last grain falls out, then life as we know it in this world will be over. The hourglass represents man's limitations of his mortal existence. It is an emblem of Life not of Time since the former is finite while the latter will always outlive and consistently beyond the reach of our mortal life.
In this short Lesson of Freemasonry I hope to convey that in the study of our Craft which you are so interested, one should be really careful on what you read or see for they could mean something else. Veiled in allegories and illustrated in symbols. Not because we don’t understand things meant it is wrong or in need of change. If I am be allowed to whisper a soft counsel to brother ears---don’t be frustrated since a number of our own brethren who joined the Craft for their own personal ambitions do not even ask half of your own questions. For further reading: Masonic Symbols.
*** *** *** HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL *** *** ***
Printed in The California Encompasser (The official publication of Grand York Rite Bodies of California) March 2006.