posted on Jan, 24 2013 @ 07:31 AM
OK, for what it's worth, this is my take on the effect on the rituals. ..
Firstly, I think that the role of the Egyptian mystery schools in Freemasonry is very understated. Even the very first line of the Entered Apprentice
lecture starts with: " The usages and customs among Freemasons have ever borne a near affinity to those of the ancient Egyptians." For some reasons,
most Masons I know take this line with a pinch of salt and never really delve into the reason for this statement. I will start with a very brief
History of Egyptian ritual, firstly, because it is an important key to understanding Masonic ritual, but also because it will then be easier to
unravel the veiled symbolism contained within Freemasonry.
In the Egyptian Mystery schools, teaching was split into two components. The first component was called the Lesser Mysteries, which were lessons in
moral and social virtues taught though trials, ceremonies and rituals. The ancient Egyptians understood very well that there was a limit to what
someone could be taught by other people. The Lesser mysteries comprised largely of things that a person had to do in order to become a
'better' person. The Greater Mysteries had to be learned for oneself - through experience, study and thought. The process involved a transformation
in which the candidate would ultimately be an embodiment of those Lesser Mysteries which taught you to do.
Perhaps I should digress a little here to explain how their (and our) ritual leads to actual spiritual transformation, and for that, we need to look
at the work of C.G. Jung. Jung pointed out that a large part of a child's moral development was through stories. All great stories have basic themes
and characters (heroes), and children hear the stories and identify with the heroes. After repeated hearings of the stories (often over many years),
the child starts to take on some of the characteristics of the heroes, but more importantly, their self-identification is tinted with the moral
values of that hero.
So, back to Freemasonry. Although it is more subtle and better disguised, Freemasonry also has Lesser and Greater Mysteries.The Lesser mysteries are
found largely in the First and Second Degrees, where firstly, basic precepts are taught, and then you are expected to grow spiritually in the practice
of these precepts - "to study more especially the hidden mysteries of nature and science." In a way, the Third degree has tons of references to
"Greater Mysteries", although they are hidden within the ritual. When the Warden is asked: "Whence come you?", the answer he gives is "The West,
whither (i.e. to which place) we have been in search of the genuine secrets. The West! In every other context, we are told to look to the East for
enlightenment, but now, we find the Wardens searching in the West for the genuine secrets. Why?
When we enter Freemasonry, we are in a state of darkness, symbolically to emphasize the darkness or emptiness within our heart or soul. We seek
enlightenment and first look for it in the East - where we find those virtues that are plain for everyone to see - that makes us a better person to
the outside world. At this stage, we are learning the Lesser mysteries. Then, in the third degree, the ritual alludes to the transformation which must
take place - the West - the place that light goes towards (not there place where light is) - in other words, we must look towards that dark
place within our hearts. Indeed, that is what is meant when the ritual states that "The light of a Mason is Darkness Visible." It is alluding to the
fact that the Greater Mysteries - the true secrets of a Master Mason - must ultimately be found withing that place which has been for a considerable
time in a state of darkness - his own heart.
So what physical and spiritual effects does the ritual have on a Mason - the Lesser Mysteries contained within the ritual cause behavioral changes
which are visible to the outside world - those moral and social virtues respected by society. As the ritual says - "You now stand, to all external
appearances, a just and upright mason." These visible changes are those virtues by which we are seen to be a better person.
But then, as we learn the genuine secrets of a Master Mason - the Greater mysteries which are contained within our hearts, we undergo a transformation
- a rough ashlar becoming perfect. We no longer need to try to do those virtues - we become the very embodiment of the teachings.
As the self-identification of a child ultimately becomes tinted with the values of their hero, so our own self-identification becomes more and more
tinted with the values contained within our own rituals, so that ultimately, we no longer just do what Freemasons do – rather, we learn the true
secrets – the greater Mysteries, and we actually undergo a real transformation and become a Freemason.