Access to Intellectual Discussions and Talks
Access to Intellectual Discussions and Talks: According to Jewish literature and traditions, great care was taken of the personal condition of every Israelite who entered the Temple for Divine worship. The Talmud dictated the following requirements: “No man shall go into the Temple with his staff or with his shoes on his feet, or with his outer garment, or with money tied up in his purse.” Masonry has adopted portions of this ancient Jewish custom regarding the preparation of the candidate for entry into a lodge.
Although not Jewish in its origin, the Chamber of Reflection, which has been incorporated into a candidate’s preparation in some American lodges, is an updated version of the ancient cave of initiation. Nevertheless, it similarly serves to prepare the candidate for entry into holy ground. Generally, the chamber is a small room lit only by a candle that casts feeble light on a number of ornaments. Including a human skull, human bones, a lump of bread, a flask of water, an hourglass, a saucer containing salt and another containing sulphur. The candidate is seated inside by himself to silently contemplate the holy significance of his intended Masonic journey.
Seated at a table, the candidate must write a philosophical will that will later be read aloud in lodge. In order to compose that will, the candidate must search his soul for his true feelings about life. Death and the transformation of the self from its material nature to its spiritual destiny. It should come as no surprise that the symbols situated within the chamber derive primarily from alchemy – the science and philosophy of metamorphosis.
Alchemists believed that salt which is extracted from sea water by the process of evaporation constitutes the element of fire delivered by water. Sulphur is to the human body what the Sun is to the earth. The coupling of salt and sulphur symbolizes life and death, or light and darkness nourishing one another. Thus, while the general candidate for Masonic degrees is not entirely knowledgeable about either alchemy. Or the symbols it employs, it is intended that he meditate upon such esoteric matters as the evolution and continuity of all life. As well as the fact that the transformation from material life to spiritual existence is a matter of personal experience. Each and every human being will live, die and live again. But nobody can fully appreciate how that will feel until it actually happens.
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