The Freemason is fortunate to always have, within his reach…the consolation of Philosophy. Our degrees enter deeply into philosophical ideologies and religious conception from all over the globe. All is seen, studied and filtered through our own particular genius and in light of our Initiation.
This Sunday morning, with the stratus clouds gathering above and the crows calling out to each other along the Ridge…I enjoyed a bit of Marcus Aurelius to the sound of my children running through the fallen leaves. “Universal Nature loves nothing so much as to change what is and to create new things in their likeness” (p. 23, Meditations). That is precisely the story of these leaves and this sky and even my own thoughts. This law of change is such a Mystery…and Philosophy eases the fear that might befall the man who doesn’t plunge into the Mystery…but instead flees from it in terror that his own form will endure the same change.
The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that matter is neither created nor destroyed. The same is said of energy. If we view our 3rd Degree by this Light, it is clear that the strong grip of the Lion’s paw is the agent of change that raises man from a dead level to a living perpendicular. Seasonally, this is the warming of the Sun and the triumph of the same over the darkness of Winter, as Leo takes precedence in his role as Kerubic sign of Summer.
In the very first degree of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical Fraternity founded by Freemasons in the 19th Century, the words, “remember that Fear is failure and the forerunner of Failure” are stated by the Hierus after he threatens the candidate with a sword as the hoodwink is raised. The Western Esoteric Tradition as whole seeks to raise Candidates and Aspirants to a level of courage and audacity that will not shirk the idea of death and change, through manifold trials and ordeals that test our manliness and fortitude.
This morning, in all of its beauty…tells the tale of change and the darkness and death of Winter loom upon the horizon. The frost that collected upon the kudzu has left it with a patina of black and light green as the chlorophyll’s flow was haulted by the crystalline death. Yet, this is still a form of beauty as Universal Nature constantly reveals the beauty of alteration and ceaseless creativity.
Aurelius continues as he surmises what occurs to the soul after death, “as on earth change and dissolution after a continuance for so long make room for other dead bodies, so in the atmosphere souls pass on and continue for so long, and then change and are poured out and are kindled being assumed into the generative principle of Universal Nature, and so provide room for those which succeed to their place” (p.21, Ibid). All holds within it a latent caloric as Pike calls it, and all transforms into heat and energy. What is there to fear here? Philosophy, alongside Religion, leads us into the dark corridors of the Great Questions of life and consoles the mind with conceptions of Deity that are worthy of a Universe full of balance and also full of Mystery.