Chamber of Reflection, Alchemy and Christianity

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Frater Cliff Porter, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    I have posted this elsewhere, but think it work discussing and each forum I belong to seems to have its own set of regulars...so thought I would, likewise post it here.

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    Image is from:

    "The Secret Room of Alchemy and Magic" from _Reflections on the Ancient Myths with Consideration to Masonry_ (unpublished manuscript in German, dated 1831)

    It’s a remarkable 80-page manuscript that's sort of an early version of David Allen Hulse's _Key of it All: an Encyclopedic Guide to the Sacred Languages & Magickal Systems of the World_.

    It compares the mysteries of Religion (Hebrew, Christian, Greek, Roman, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Gnostic, Mithraic, etc.) with alchemy and Freemasonry. It synthesizes these teachings with symbolism (Illustrated throughout), and anticipates many of the same things later discussed by Pike (the Trimurti, Lingam-Yoni, etc.).

    Employing numerology, sacred geometry, planetary & zodiacal symbolism, it compares alchemy and esoteric Masonry. The author was a member of the Grand Lodge of Three World Globes, and employs the Masonic symbols of this Rite. He discusses its unique tracing boards, and analyzes the signs, grips, and words (after the Craft Degrees, they germanare different from ours).
     
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  2. scialytic

    scialytic Premium Member

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    How could the Chamber of Reflection be worked in US Lodges? Would it be worked in an appendant body? or could it legally be worked in the Craft Lodge?
     
  3. Michael Hatley

    Michael Hatley Premium Member

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    The lodge I was raised utilizes a room of reflection on some occasions - Brother Porter has been there if I'm not mistaken (Gray Lodge).

    I think it and the rest of esoteric stuff is interesting and adds to vibe. I do think it should be reinforced by at least some of the brethren to the candidate the idea that it is symbolic and allegorical. The direct truth is that many men have never heard of Gnosticism, the Gitas, medeival spiritulism etc, much less studied it. So you take texts a hundred years old put together by people who took a little bit from here, a little bit from there, wrapped a ceremony around it, codfied it, turned down the lights and used it for initiations - then we come along and recreate it, and modern day folks don't get much benefit besides an overall impression of weird.

    If it both lends gravitas to the intiation and sparks genuine scholarly research, that is good, and why I'm tryin to keep an open mind about it.

    Done poorly I think it could do the exact opposite of that though - give the ceremony a hokey vibe and have people mark up some of the lesser known religions as woowoo.
     
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  4. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    I've not read much on the Chamber of Reflections, but as far as I understand it is not really a degree, more of a place for the mason to go find solitude and ponder whatever may be on his mind. The setup of the chamber and some of the things it contain acting as symbols, should help the reflection. I've been told that it is very common to have in European lodge, but have not verified the statement.

    Personally I think it is an interesting aspect that could be a positive addition to a lodge if done and used correctly. Not sure however if there is any GLoTX restrictions on it?
     
  5. Michael Hatley

    Michael Hatley Premium Member

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    I've asked that from folks pushing the chamber of reflections here in Texas and gotten evasive answers. There are a couple of things that I have gathered on the edges.

    First, the council of work mandates certain things in the ritual. What they don't are the grey areas, and that in reality is somewhat elastic.

    Second, the TO lodges operating in Texas, while not strictly invite only, are, shall we say - a bit more exclusive than lodges due to various forces of gravity. Lots of previous Grand Masters, travelling lecturer circuit types, past masters of some distinction, academics, etc in their ranks. And those TO lodges (the two I know of) are big on the chamber of reflection, candles, tuxedos, festive boards and that sort of thing.

    I didn't really push the issue much on the legalities, but I gathered that adding those two things together put the chambers of reflection in the "wink nod" category. As in, if implemented by someone(s) with connections, in a lodge where noone is likely to make a stink about it, then it flies under the radar and all is good. Since I don't have the time to fool with my local TO lodge yet with all that is on my plate, and my contact knows that at my lodge the best space we'd have would basically ammount to a "broom closet of reflection" - adding on that we have enough rabblerousers that someone would likely make a hell of a stink just to fnord the place I haven't done much to follow up on it.

    From the little experience I have seen though I think chambers of reflection likely suit a TO lodge better overall anyway. I'm just skeptical that you can bolt on that sort of thing to a traditional, mainstream modern day Texas blue lodge. Folks who petition a TO lodge are more likely to have brushed up against some primary sources and get more out of the allusions than the folks I see knocking on the door to blue lodges. But I agree with the goal and the gist.

    For me I think it comes down to that I think emulating the Europeans isn't likely to work as well as doubling down on what makes us American. So I like ideas that get us out in public, outside of the lodge building, more than ones than focus on quasi-theology/occult.

    But as usual, I'm ramblin....:52:
     
  6. scialytic

    scialytic Premium Member

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    I've read of some that aren't just a room, but rooms without windows or doors and you are dropped down through the floor (talk about dramatics!). So when would it be used? before all Degrees? or just for MM?

    I want to say I read about it being used in York Rite. Brother Hatley, you have a really good point about it not being adopted for general Texas Lodges. Most people probably see it as a good idea, but that is probably where it stops. The reality is that we all have experienced an internal Chamber of Reflection...but the outward would also be pretty powerful, I'd imagine.

    Does anybody know of any Lodges (aside from TO or EC Lodges) or appendant bodies that employ the Chamber of Reflection?
     
  7. SeeKer.mm

    SeeKer.mm Premium Member

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    Quite honestly, the only thing I have read about chamber of reflection is in the 33rd degree (invite only) of the Scottish Rite. Not sure how true or false it is, but that's what I read, and I don't even remember where. I wouldn't mind a spot to reflect and meditate though..I look forward to seeing more posts about it.
     
  8. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    16 lodges in Colorado use the Chamber of Reflection that I am aware of. It is always before the EA degree. You are welcome to our lodge anytime we have an EA if you would like to experience its use.
     
  9. Bob Reed

    Bob Reed Registered User

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    I got to experience the CoR in my EA degree. It was a small room, black walls with various Hermetic and Alchemical symbols throughout. With one chair, desk ,a single candle and a few pages of questions to answer in an hours time. Talk about intense! I spent the first few minutes just looking around the room at the various symbols. Later I would write my EA paper on the CoR, it's symbols, intended usage and my experience therein. It wasn't scary, nor intended to be so. It was serious and solemn. Taking it in along with the rest of the degree proved to be a truly moving and life changing event. However, it was only after the fact that I studied the history, usage and symbolism of the CoR that I realized what it was conveying, but that is true with almost everything in Freemasonry.
     
  10. Browncoat

    Browncoat Registered User

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    I read about the Chamber of Reflection in the book: A Traditional Observance Lodge. It sounds like it would only enhance the EA degree experience, and coupled with everything else outlined in the book, is the proverbial icing on the cake. Due to its limited use and unique...decor...I'm not sure many lodges would realistically have the space for one, though.
     
  11. Bob Reed

    Bob Reed Registered User

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    Yeah, I can see how that would be a problem. I thing ours is just a converted broom closet...
     
  12. Roy_

    Roy_ Registered User

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    In the Netherlands the CoR is quite common, in my (irregular) order, but also in the Grand Orient. It is sometimes located in a cellar and (indeed) does not need to be very big. I sat in one for quite a while before my initiation and recently also before I was made FC. The symbols displayed differ per grade, but they are fairly common symbols to contemplate on while upstairs the lodge is opened; a skull, an hourglass, "know theyself", a peacock, of course a Bible and indeed some 'light alchemical' symbology. I know lodges where the CoR is situated right next to the lodge room and forms a second entrance to the temple, but in the building where we gather, it is situated in the basement. I do see the function of it. The candidate mentally prepares for what is to come while waiting for the part that he may not yet experience takes place.
     
  13. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    This is the way that I understand it.
     
  14. Bob Reed

    Bob Reed Registered User

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    We use it before the EA degree. It sets the tone for the work in my humble opinion. I also understand that it is/can be used in the York Rite although I'm not totally sure.
     
  15. Canadian Paul

    Canadian Paul Registered User

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    In Canada the Scottish Rite has a 'Chamber of Reflection' for the candidates for the 4th degree (the first in the Scottish Rite system) and one or two other degrees as well. The Valley I belong to meets in a Craft Lodge building and we have to improvise the chamber. At the simplest it is dark, lit only by a candle, and displays the Emblems of Mortality.
     
  16. Erickson Ybarra

    Erickson Ybarra Registered User

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    I am a member of Gray Lodge currently awaiting the 3rd degree. I was told Gray used to have a chamber of reflection with everything that came with it, but no longer does due to an edict. The room is still utilized before every degree and a little differently before an EA degree.
     
  17. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    My 18th chapter uses a chamber of reflection, but I am not sure it is very effective.
     
  18. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    This is how I have heard they are pretty much furnished.
     
  19. hanzosbm

    hanzosbm Premium Member

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    I did a great deal of study on the CoR awhile back to really get down to the meanings of the symbols, how and why they relate to each other, and the story it was trying to tell. On the one hand, if one is willing to put in the effort to really dig into it, it's quite beautiful and enlightening. The lessons it teaches are quite deep, arguably cutting to the core of the rest of the degrees. But it occurs to me that the candidate will have absolutely no understanding of these things so it just comes across as weird esoteric stuff.
    In generations past, if a candidate had already had a very in depth study of alchemy, Kabbalah, astrology, and possible a few other esoteric disciplines, he MIGHT be able to put it all together in the limited time he had in the CoR, but even then, it seems rather unnecessary at such an early stage in the game.

    If it were up to me, I would reinstate a CoR, but make it MUCH more simple. Dark room, table, chair, skull, hourglass, pen and paper, mirror, and some of the cautionary messages on the walls. That's it. Those are the only parts that are truly reflectionary. The rest just serves to give a feeling of occult for the drama and in my mind, it's dramatic enough on its own.
     
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  20. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    That describes the only CofR I have ever seen.
     

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