Alchemy, Transformation and the Masonic Temple in the Sustainability Age. Interview with Greg Stewart aka Masonic Traveler by Willi Paul, PlanetShifter.com Magazine and planetshifter.com
Introduction by Greg Stewart
When we are raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason we are admonished to seek “further light.” This means to ponder, to question, to seek answers and to grow and evolve as a species. Undoubtedly, this expression originated from the “Age of Enlightenment” in the 18th century which was fueled by Masonic thought and resulted in dramatic advancements in government, education, the arts and sciences, and basic God-given unalienable rights, such as freedom. This cultural period did not discourage creative thought, but rather unleashed it in the form of a proliferation of authors, artists, explorers, inventors, scientists, pioneers, and leaders. All of this because man’s ability to reason was placed on a pedestal and cherished. Basically, it encouraged people to lead a meaningful life, not slave-like. It is no small wonder Freemasonry flourished during this period and spread around the world like the locust…
…Renaissance Masons are also cognizant of the legacy they will leave behind as a result of their stewardship. They are keenly aware their successors will be judging them as either the generation who dropped the ball, or picked it up and ran with it for a touchdown.
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What are your symbols, stories, songs and myths that resonate in the Masons?
Freemasonry is dominated by its unmistakable pairing of symbols of the square and compass. The two symbols have a variety of meanings but are most often referred to as the builder’s tools, the implements of the master architect as he constructs his works. Another look at these two symbols take on a more esoteric or spiritual bend in that they represent the pairing of the celestial (compass) and the terrestrial (square) and in the space between their intersection, where typically the letter G is displayed, the interaction of the divine space is shared in the physical one. It is really a very beautiful image as it conjures up the endowment of the Divine to the mundane.
Story wise, the books of the Old Testament about wise King Solomon are the back drop to most of the Masonic allegorical mystery plays. It’s in this setting that their information is transferred.
Isn’t alchemy deeply rooted in the Masonic Order, the famous men who created it and its rituals? Please develop this for transformational process.
Alchemy, esoteric Masonry suggests, is at the heart of Freemasonry. One of the most notable Alchemists (and Magicians) Isaac Newton is rumored to of been a mason, but sadly that is as far as the records can be traced accurately.
To find the connections between Masonry and Alchemy, one must delve into works of similar nature to Masonry, and to those who have contributed to its mysteries. It is in those sources that we do find greater connections. Some examples are in the works of Paracelsus and Agrippa, and even further back to Raymond Lully as well as many others who practiced the art of transformation. In the work Ordinal of Alchemy, there are some distinct passages that can be loosely associated to the fraternity that gives us some hints of some possible connections in the similar language used.
Where Freemasonry holds much similarity to alchemy in the practice of alchemy, in the quest for the philosophers stone. It’s in this process of transformation that the ritual of masonry most closely find association. The process of changing the lead into gold becomes a metaphor for the inner transformation of the self, from the base to the higher being. It is perhaps in this process that we can find the most resonance.
What are the top three experiences that you “got” by joining the Masonic Temple?
Top three are hard to narrow down. I would say that the association and fraternity amongst like minded brothers. Like minded in that they all strive in their own way for their own personal perfection through the degrees and onward. Also, it’s given me a conduit to tap into this system of thought, which is essentially a spiritual awakening, a baptism if you will, that awakens the mind to this way of thinking, so see not in absolutes of black and white, but to appreciate the hue's and variance of the spectrum which the process of Freemasonry implies in its rituals.
The third is the expression of the ritual itself. Like a Catholic liturgy practiced over and over, just the process of doing it over and over gives it a vibratory power. It really is an eye opening experience that 'should' open one’s eyes to the higher power that surrounds us.
“When mentoring our candidates, we turn our degrees from deep, philosophical allegories into shallow fables.” (http://www.freemasoninformation.com) Please explain.
This comes from a piece written about the denigration of the fraternity and the watering down of what was at one time a very rich and robust social contributor. Masonry was at one time a very revered organization that today is little know except for some of its pendant charity, and even then it is disassociated from the main of Freemasonry itself. So, with that in mind, what has consequently happened is that the fraternity has started to dumb down the broader implications of what it means to become and BE a Freemason, the allegories of the rituals are reduced to fables and consequently neutered of their deeper meaning.
What does “new enlightenment” or the “new enlightenment” mean?
New enlightenment means just what it suggests, an awakening of understanding, an enlightenment that was not previously experienced altering the way in which one sees their surroundings. It’s something I recommend for all people to take in and see things in a new way and in a new perspective.
Is sustainability like a new religion?
Not sure what this question is asking. Sustainability is something more in a producing community that consumes resources (manufacturing, etc) and not something that could be easily equated to Masonry.
Does the Masonic Temple still actively connect and support the Boy Scouts of America? What are the pros and cons?
I'm not sure if Masonic Lodges have ever really worked with closely with the Boy Scouts. Masonry has its own youth organization, Demolay, which has been the youth organization of preference since its creation in 1919. I do think that Masonry should work more closely with the scouts given their similar points of view and outlooks, but so long as Demolay is a member of the Masonic family it will likely be the more closely favored youth group.
Please dig deep and explain the relationship between brotherhood and your rituals?
This is an interesting question. I have to say that I do not think that the two are mutually exclusive. The aspect of brotherhood does not come before the ritual, but rather once the ritual trials have been undertaken. So, essentially, that one cannot become a brother (member) until they have undertaken the degree rituals which then disconnects them. Essentially, the degrees function to link the neophyte candidate to the organization and envelop him into the brotherhood adding him to its structure. Think of a building metaphor and each new member becomes a building block for the temple of Freemasonry.
What does “aligned in truth” mean? Whose truth, Greg?
Truth is a challenging subject, and I'll admit a subjective one. As no man can speak for Masonry, you can collect some of its threads and formalize an image of what it represents. Masonry could best be said to represent a strain of humanism that takes to breast the philosophical (or religious) idea of the Golden Rule which is to essentially do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. What that means is essentially, it accepts and embraces all, so long as those parts embrace the all also. It is in this very small aspect that we can find the glow of truth, in that one man's truth is no greater (or less) than others. That we each see it in our own particular way (for better or worse) and in that composition we find resonance.
Albert Pike, the author of Morals and Dogma, the great Scottish Rite philosopher, wrote about truth: The universal medicine for the Soul is the Supreme Reason and Absolute Justice; for the mind, mathematical and practical Truth; for the body, the Quintessence, a combination of light and gold.
Perhaps more to the point, Pike says:
Toleration, holding that every other man has the same right to his opinion and faith that we have to ours; and liberality, holding that as no human being can with certainty say, in the clash and conflict of hostile faiths and creeds, what is truth, or that he is surely in possession of it, so everyone should feel that it is quite possible that another equally honest and sincere with himself, and yet holding the contrary opinion, may himself be in possession of the truth, and that whatever one firmly and conscientiously believes, is truth, to him–these are the mortal enemies of that fanaticism which persecutes for opinion’s sake, and initiates crusades against whatever it, in its imaginary holiness, deems to be contrary to the law of God or verity of dogma. And education, instruction, and enlightenment are the most certain means by which fanaticism and intolerance can be rendered powerless.
No true Mason scoffs at honest convictions and an ardent zeal in the cause of what one believes to be truth and justice. But he does absolutely deny the right of any man to assume the prerogative of Deity, and condemn another faith and opinions as deserving to be punished because heretical. Nor does he approve the course of those who endanger the peace and quiet of great nations, and the best interest of their own race by indulging in a chimerical and visionary philanthropy–a luxury which chiefly consists in drawing their robes around them to avoid contact with their fellows, and proclaiming themselves holier than they.
So the idea of truth is a universal one, the what is truth that we each see. It’s hard to quantify, and ever harder to put into practice, to see and say that each is right in his own eyes, when in he end it becomes about how that truth relates to you.
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Bio - Br. Greg Stewart aka -Masonic Traveler
An artist by nature and vocation, Greg pursued the sublime degrees of Freemasonry in 1994, seeking to learn its knowledge and allegory. The sole purpose in creating this site is to organize and share this information to as wide an audience as possible, presenting it in as instructive and concise a format as possible. Specifically, it is intended for the interested onlooker and the newly raised entered apprentice mason, but it also presents insight to the seasoned master as well. Greg’s own interests in Freemasonry range from its present role in society, its history, and in particular to its esoteric recesses.
Greg is a 3rd degree Master Mason in the Craft Lodge at Hollywood No. 355, under the Grand Lodge of California, also he is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, under the AASR of the Orient of California, and a York Rite R.:A.:M.: of Signent Chapter #57 in Van Nuys.
Greg Stewart aka -Masonic Traveler
Masonictraveler at gmail.com