The darkness in the north

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by iainmason, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. iainmason

    iainmason Registered User


    DUX EDUCATIONIS; by Sean O'Neil;
    Rec;d from Kevan Van Herd;
    St. George's Lodge No. 41; GRBC&Y.

    Although a Masonic Lodge is surely a house of the unusual, as we look about the inside we may be struck by a peculiar fact; there are lights everywhere except somewhere in particular: in the North.

    Why is this so? The famed Masonic writer Albert Mackey notes that, in harmony with a Scandinavian superstition, no Lodge of Masons lights the North, as "no light could relieve the gloom of that cardinal point." Albert Pike, prolific Masonic authority, wrote that "the northern region of gloom was called 'the place of death and revival of Adonis' .... because Greek imaginations, it was the final bourne of all things, the abode of winter."It is of interest that Pike cites a mythical rebirth, which he parallels to the seasonal shift from winter to spring. Could it be the darkness before dawn, the death that presages birth? We observe in the Master Mason Degree that the unfortunate Grand Master, portrayed by a soon-to-be-
    enlightened individual, is disposed of in the Northeast corner, and then conveyed West for the ensuing drama, which takes place in the vicinity of the North.

    The Northeast, the birthplace of all Masons, is the creative area between the North and East; thence to the East for the full birth of light, and to the mid-day sun in the South at meridian or middle-age. In the West is the growing dimness of old age. The North, a place of darkness, may be the death before the rebirth of the sun and the resurrection of man in the Northeast corner. But what in the North could bring about this miracle? Cold and darkness do not create life.

    Perhaps the North is dark because, as one Mentor's Manual says " symbolizes ignorance of things Masonic," but since our rituals and symbols portray our understanding of life and immortality, perhaps the darkness in the North symbolizes the presence of a Force beyond our comprehension; the Force of creation and destruction. In the Hindu religion, this cycle of death and rebirth is explained by way of three different aspects of God, somewhat akin to the Christian concept of the Trinity. For Hindus, the birth of the universe is the work of Brahma, the creator; all things are maintained by Vishnu, the sustainer, and the end of time occurs by the fiery dance of Siva, the destroyer. At that point everything is recreated by Brahma and the repeating pattern continues. It is a lovely and elegant belief that explains the mystery of millions of people. But where is our Masonic symbol for the Creator/Destroyer? The Masonic "G," wherever displayed? But if He ends the weary life of day and man in the West and ignites new life in the Northeast corner, then the transforming power of the Architect must reside in the North. But truly, there is no symbol in the North - or is there?

    During the Jewish Passover Seder, or dinner, a cup of wine is filled expressly for the prophet Elijah, who is believed to visit every Jewish home on that occasion. The Jewish writer Trachtenburg notes that in most households "the front door is left ajar for him to enter." The idea of an unseen presence among us, and some physical representation of it to excite our reverence, is thus not a new one. Instead of a tangible cup of wine, a pillar of fire, or a statue of a Hindu god made manifest, perhaps our Great Architect is conceived in more subtle and abstract format: darkness, mystery and the admission that our deepest reflections on His nature fall far short in understanding.

    We learn from our ritual that "the sun in its progress through the ecliptic never reaches farther than 23 degrees at that point; the sun at meridian would only illuminate the south wall, of the Temple of Solomon. Curiously, though, this cannot be construed as proving that the Temple had no light or ventilation which illuminate the north. Both the Hebrew and the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, speak of the "Golden Window," an opening" framed with costly magnificence" and facing the north wall.

    Masonic scholar William Adrian Brown has pointed out that the all-seeing eye "at one time hung in the North in Masonic Lodges," and further observes that every religion and sect of ancient times believed that God resided in the North, and by the light of the sun rising on His left and setting on His right, observed beginnings and endings on the earth. He concludes that" from the earliest known structures built by man, we find cornerstones in the Northeast corner; this was done as an acknowledgement that the building might be used by men, but belonged to God."

    Thus it may be that the North, far from being an unimportant place, might, by its emptiness, portray the deepest mystery of all: the nature of the Great Architect. If so, it provides the fourth side of the physical square of the Lodge, and by its abstract nature, excites our most serious consideration of the spiritual dimension of our lives.
  2. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    Great stuff!
  3. RJS

    RJS Guest

    This was awesome! I enjoyed very much, Thank You for sharing it!

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