THE CORNERSTONE SOCIETY
“THERE’S MORE TO RITUAL THAN A BOOK”
The Cornerstone Society Northern Conference, Salford Greater Manchester
10th November 2007
Martin Roche ©
‘The Beauties of true Godliness’: the word that stood out to me immediately more than any other, was ‘true’, implying that below the simple and superficial there was an inner meaning, a depth that needed to be explored in which could be found the genuine value, the real worth. Next came an examination of the word Godliness. In many references I examined, an interesting and surprising common denominator was the word ‘contentment’. ‘True contentment’ suggests to me a balance, an exploration that comes from seeking the hidden meaning and import and above all else, a satisfaction and an understanding that not only is found in the destination but also the journey.
Therefore, before finding what lies beneath, the basics have to be grasped and weighed; the analogy of learning to walk before running springs to mind.
In masonry, we introduce (in theory) the candidate to the basics of our gentle art and through a series of ceremonies and lectures, gradually move from the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex ... that’s the theory anyhow, but the practice to the Masonically uneducated, is far from that straightfor ward, that simplistic.
So, the root of true contentment has many different facets of which knowledge is a constant. But hand - in - hand with that must come understanding and the structure that the new mason builds to wards enlightenment is hewn from the quarry of ritual – ritual which must also have a foundation constructed from ‘understanding’ if those inner strengths are to be found and its resultant beauties revealed. And this is the starting point and basis of my lecture. During it I will touch on what I consider are several vital supporting issues that I feel, all add to the understanding of ritual and a masons place within it. I will explore the precursor to learning ritual, the contributory aspects, administrative practices we have developed and simple bad habits which must be addressed to ensure sustainable enjoyment, sustainable membership. Some may seem in isolation unrelated and may equally be judged in the greater picture of masonry as insignificant or obvious. However, I would contest that tackling them will contribute to that beauty masonry clearly possesses being accessible and discoverable to all; a beauty which is so often obscured from view because of a lack of understanding of our art and each other. I hope that I can demonstrate that in identifying the issues that surround, support and on occasion obscure the study and learning of ritual, I can illustrate that the issues are as many as are the solutions and that we can all contribute something towards it without having to change what we are, what we believe and most importantly, what we say in our ceremonies. The starting point is understanding that there is more to ritual than a book.
THE HIRAMIC LEGEND
Presentation to The
Lyceum Lodge of
Research June 2013
1. I have, on many occasions heard it said, and read it from as many sources, many of them senior representatives of the Craft, that the Legend of Hiram the builder is just that, a legend and allegory – nothing more, and does not relate to any person or historical event.
2. In trying to understand this viewpoint, and at the same time trying to understand the legend, I had to stop many times, and on each reflection had to scrap what I had written and restart this journey. Just as I thought on numerous occasions that I had finally come to understand the legend, I found out as many times that I had yet to begin to understand, and so had to re-write this introduction more than four times.
3. To try to make sense of all the divergent points of view, I had to crystallise what I was seeking to find, and condense it into a series of questions:
a. Was there a person such as Hiram Abiff?
b. If so, who was he?
c. Why the central Masonic theme is based on this figure, or is it at all?
d. Is the Hiramic Legend purely the figment of someone’s fertile imagination, or is there some kind of historical basis to it?
e. Was there a Temple?
f. If so, what was its nature?
g. Who built it?
h. Was there a King Solomon?
i. Was there a Hiram King of Tyre?
j. Is this legend the story of Hiram King of Tyre, Hiram Abiff, Solomon king of Israel and a Temple?
k. What is the relationship between these four elements?
l. Fact or fiction, what does it all mean?