The Royal Arch

In the Royal Arch ceremony, the sojourners are buried with their tools in a vault.

The sun, at its highest, provides enlightenment and the principal sojourner is returned to the former companions of his toil to continue producing, distributing and consuming, food, clothing and shelter.

If this is informed by natural equality and mutual dependence, as among Masons it ought, the Master Mason is truly Exalted as hero.

Mostly, the reality of human existence is ordered around the production, distribution and consumption of food, clothing and shelter; although perhaps, ‘the mind’ can be understood as a chemistry set which imagines reality among other things.

However, human existence is time limited and there arose the process of burying the deceased, accompanied with artefacts including tools.

From this, it can be taken that there were views on death; which if correct, entails views on life. It is possible that these could be understood as being other than material – spiritual even – but such does not entail supernatural entities or categories.

Everlasting does not mean eternal; the pharaonic burial practises did not, necessarily, include concepts of existing before and after time.

As contained in annals and ritual, it is the contemplation of life and death which sets humans apart.

Osiris was slain and reincarnated. Dionysus was torn asunder by Titans and restored to newness of life. Architect Hiram, the murdered hero, was figuratively quickened and is ‘represented’ in the making of master masons.

 

Osiris ca. 1070–664 B.C. Third Intermediate Period.
IMAGE LINKED:  Metropolitan Museum of Art Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The production of food, clothing and shelter was, and is, in much connection with the sun; this led to sun-worship, an antecedent of Freemasonry.

The terms ‘highest’ and ‘most high’ are allusions to the sun at its meridian. The EmperorConstantine worshiped Sol Invictus, the ‘invincible sun’ and ordered that Christian worship should be on Sundays; previously it had been on the Sabbath between Friday and Saturday.

Since Babel, if not before, edifices, temples and pyramids were constructed in stone to reach higher – nearer to the sun.

These were statements about life and death written in stone creating a place for a vital and quickening evocation of communication with ancestry.

Similarly, but in less constructed form, were the stones around Avebury, England.

In Masonic symbolism the building, in stone, of King Solomon’s Temple is typologically celebrated as building a new world order. Comprising its ninety-two elements, stone is a serious symbol of the universe.

The highest stone on the planet is at the summit of the Himalayas, it being formed by the enduring collision of tectonic plates.

Some of this material is limestone, formed of the petrified skeletal remains of life on the ancient seabed: the summit of the Himalayas was once alive!

Its surface material, as dissolved by rain is returned to rivers and oceans to be absorbed by organisms: it lives again.

 

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

In similar manner, the heroism of architect Hiram lives on in the potential of each master mason. The destruction of Herod’s Temple was forecast in the synoptic gospels: perhaps the gnostic Apocalypse is an eye-witness account thereof.

Christian tradition linked the return of its founder to the rebuilding of the Temple.

 

Ideal Reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple
IMAGE LINKED:  Nordisk familjebok, c.1899 Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus – Julian the Apostate
IMAGE LINKED:  Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com, wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

In C.E. 363, the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate, decided on its rebuilding. Arian church historian, Philostorgius 368 – c. 439 wrote: [Winkelmann ed., 1981, trans. Philip R. Amidon, 2007]

Julian bade Jerusalem to be rebuilt in order to refute openly the predictions of our Lord.

But his work was checked by many other prodigies from heaven especially during the preparation of the foundations.

One of the stones, placed at the lowest part of the base, suddenly started from its place and opened the door of a certain cave hollowed out in the rock.

It was difficult to see what was in this cave so persons were appointed to investigate letting down one of their workmen by means of a rope.

On being lowered down, he found the cave to be a perfect square.

Touching his foot against a column rising slightly above water, found lying on it a book wrapped in fine linen.

He signalled to his companions to draw him up again, the book was opened…

In the Royal Arch ceremony, the sojourners are buried with their tools in a vault.

The sun, at its highest, provides enlightenment and the principal sojourner is returned to the former companions of his toil to continue producing, distributing and consuming, food, clothing and shelter.

If this is informed by natural equality and mutual dependence, as among Masons it ought, the Master Mason is truly Exalted as hero.

Article by: Gerald Reilly

Gerald Reilly was initiated in 1995 into St Osyth's Priory Lodge 2063. Essex. England (UGLE). 

He was a founder member of Josh Heller's Allthingsmasonic, and with Josh co-wrote 'The Temple that Never Sleeps' (Cornerstone Books, 2006) he is committed to the development of e-Freemasonry.

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