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THE MEANING OF MASONRY
THE POSITION AND POSSIBILITIES OF THE MASONIC ORDER
Walter Leslie WILMSHURST
FREEMASONRY has had many great scholars who devoted their time and talents to the philosophical exposition of the character of the Craft, the meaning of Craft symbols, and the religious aspects of the Fraternity: Albert Pike, Robert Freke Gould, Fort Newton, Albert Gallatin Mackey, and W. L. Wilmshurst.
Walter Leslie Wilmshurst (1867-1939) was a mystic with a practical knowledge and profound understanding of the religions of the world. The Meaning of Masonry discloses the real purpose of modern Freemasonry and clearly states the true body of teaching and practice concerning the esoteric meanings of Masonic ritual.
Freemasonry is based on the three great principles: brotherly love, relief, and truth. Over the years, brotherly love and relief have been so stressed that the Craft is in serious danger of becoming primarily a social and charitable organization. Truth, the most difficult principle to recognize and thus the most difficult to achieve, has long been neglected. Wilmshurst carefully places his designs upon the trestle board to build his thesis that the alpha and omega of Freemasonry is not the repetition of the ritual nor the safeguarding of secrets, but the regeneration of the Brethren.
This book implores the reader to learn to see in Freemasonry something more than a parochial system enjoining elementary morality, performing perfunctory and insignificant rites, and serving as an agreeable accessory to social life. The greater system of spiritual doctrine contained in the rituals is strongly emphasized.
The Meaning of Masonry was written with a view toward promoting a deeper understanding of the Fraternity, and this goal has been achieved. The ideals of the Masonic Fraternity have a wide appeal to the best instincts of men, and the Craft has become one of the greatest social institutions in the world. In this new Aquarian age, when many individuals and groups are working in various ways for the eventual restoration of the mysteries, an increasing number of aspirants are beginning to recognize that Freemasonry may well be the vehicle for this achievement.
We have here a sincere effort by a learned and earnest Brother to point to the source of Masonic Light in elegant, and at times profound, language. They who look with him may enjoy the same felicity.
The great value of this book is that it was written by one who sets an example for all Masters of Lodges. His was a soul filled with the wonder of wisdom, strength, and beauty. In these pages, he whispers the password to those of us who still clamour at the gate, enabling us to enter that inner chamber where we can join the true initiates and share experiences now veiled from all but a handful of Brethren.
ALLAN BOUDREAU, PH.D. Curator and Librarian Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted July, 1980 Masons of the State of New York
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Last modified: March 22, 2014