There is no evading the process of ceremonial living. It is unconsciously recognised, blindly followed, and constitutes the great discipline of the rhythmic breathing of life itself. No one on this earth can evade ritual or ceremonial, for the rising and the setting of the sun imposes a ritual, the cyclic passing of the years, the movements and regular coming and going of the daily transactions of living all impose a rhythm upon humanity, whether this is recognised or not. Deity Itself works with ritual and is subjected to the ceremonials of the universe. The seven rays come into activity and pass out again under the rhythmic and ritualistic impulse of the divine Life. Thus is the Temple of the Lord built by the ceremonial of the Builders.
It is interesting to note the responses of certain sensitive persons to the incoming energies of that which the stars decree, for on the one hand there is a growing interest in ceremonial ritual from those who perhaps respond to the energies of the inflowing rays of the coming New Era, and on the other hand, much revolt against ceremonial from many good and well-meaning people, including even some of those upon the Path, who regard themselves as having outgrown and transcended ritual. They pride themselves on having attained a so-called ‘liberation,’ forgetting that it is only the sense of individuality that permits this attitude, and that no group work is ever possible without some form of ritual. The refusal therefore to participate in uniformity of action is no sign of a liberated soul.
Where rituals exist, but where the meaning inherently present remains hidden and unrealised, there must as a consequence be demonstrated a spirit of deadness, of uselessness, and of weariness of interest over forms and ceremonies. But where it is demonstrated that ritual and organised ceremonies are the evidence of the custodian of forces and energies, then the idea is constructive in its working out, cooperation with the Plan becomes possible, and the aim of all the divine service begins to demonstrate. All true service is governed by ritual, because it is essentially motivated by a group consciousness.
Rhythm is what really designates a ritual. Ritual is the ancient codified means whereby the attractive and expressive nature of the energies to be employed for service are organised and related.
Of course, the seventh ray energy that manifests itself in ritual must not be narrowed down to its present use in connection with Masonic or religious ritual. Its application is much wider than this, and includes all methods of organisation which are demonstrated in all civilised communities, such as in the world of commerce, of finance, business organisations everywhere to be seen, executive organisation and of government by rule and order. But our discussion here is ceremonial ritual as an intrinsic aspect of Masonry.
Masonic Ceremonial Ritual
It has been stated that as far as ceremonial rituals with spiritual purposes go, the only ritual which is still regarded as of value to the human family as whole—particularly the advanced person—is the Masonic Ritual. The reason for this is that it is a pictorial representation of the process of Creation, of the relation between Deity and man, of the Path of Return and also of those great Initiations through the means of which the liberated initiate passes into the Council Chamber of the Most High. The work of the Craft is symbolic of the ritualistic organisation of the universe. Nevertheless, the truer esoteric Masonry will develop but slowly, but under the magnetic force of this seventh Ray, the growth of the magical and spiritual work of Masonry is inevitably sure.
The Law of Rhythm is the influence that should pervade all the work performed by the Craft upon the Temple floor. It should be the motivating factor when conducting and performing all ceremonial ritual. The reason for this is that this influence governs the creative nature of the Masonic work.
Through their rituals and ceremonies the Lodges are training schools for creative work in group form. Visualisation is a powerful agent in the evocation of the creative imagination. Ritual and Masonry, being also on the first and fourth rays, aid the process of visualisation and give colour and performance of a tangible kind to inner, subjective activity. Thus it is that Masonry, in its true and highest sense, is magical work, but that must be understood to be the work of the creative power of the soul working in light substance. Behind this magical work of the rituals lies the influence of an established rhythm, the law and energy that governs all uniformity in creative work, dispels disorder, and produces the greatest spiritual and material efficiency. It establishes a uniformity of vibration in the group form of the builders gathered together for work, and a uniform vibratory receptivity between the groups of builders on the outer planes through which energy can flow from the inner groups of builders.
But the creative aspect of the Masonic work through ritual can only emerge when the conjoined members of the Lodge achieve, establish and maintain a unified mental attitude, held at a meditative point of spiritual tension, in its labours.
As the nature of rhythmic ritual is established, and as the members of a Lodge train together to produce unity of thought, action, ideals and objectives, then the Lodge can begin to work, as a group, for humanity as a whole. The Lodge then becomes a focal point for spiritual light and its members become a body of conscious practitioners of the Mysteries, acting as distributing agents for knowledge and for the awakening active power of the immortal spirit.
The Masonic rituals also serve a dual purpose:
- They are the unifying factor for the activities and thoughts of the Lodge members participating in them. They blend the minds of the many into one directed purpose and orientation, and for specific group goals and objectives pertaining to the service to be rendered.
- They also serve as the great agent or formula through which the inner and spiritual nature of candidates can be aroused and stimulated to such a degree that they can be aided to make their next grade and gain the added impulse and impetus that will carry them through their tests, pass from point to point, place to place, and pedestal to pedestal, and so enter more deeply within the Temple of Light in a definite and ordered progress.
But behind all efforts to cooperate with this law of rhythm through rhythmic ritual—and governing it in all of its aspects—must be found the law, the influence, and the motivating purpose of love.
Rhythmic activity based on love; creative work founded on loving purpose; the stimulating of our brothers everywhere to “seek the place where light dwelleth”; and perfect realisation of that life eternal, which will always be disclosed to the true seeker, because such is the loving intention of T.M.H.—these are the motivating powers to which we aspire in our ritual work in Masonry.
By this creative blending and raising, the Lodges on earth can be raised up into Heaven and the Lodge on High become manifest upon the earth.
Let that which is below be as that which is above!