DIVESTED OF ALL MINERALS AND METALS
“And there thou shalt build an altar unto the Lord thy God,…”
Candidates for degrees in Freemasonry are required to enter a Masonic lodge without any metallic substances on their person. They are also instructed that King Solomon’s Temple was erected without the aid of any iron or metallic tools.
Eventually they learn about the Masonic importance of the biblical character Tubal-cain, who is described in the book of Genesis as the first artificer in metals. Explanations about each of these subjects are provided during the ceremonies, but those explanations are merely preliminary to the deeper meanings, which are veiled in the mysteries of the Craft that each candidate must explore for himself.
If the science of alchemy may be said to refer to the transformation of substances and elements (ie lead into masonic gold), then the philosophy of alchemy may be said to similarly pertain to the transformation of men from non-spiritual to spiritual beings.
As such, the importance of alchemy to Freemasons is not so much the substantive alchemical philosophy as it is what that substantive philosophy actually symbolizes. It is not enough to merely understand that it symbolizes change. It is far more important to understand that it symbolizes the need to learn how to change and how to make the necessary changes.
Freemasonry selects tools of architecture, or tools of iron from which to teach wise and serious truths. The plumb, level and square are implements used for construction and together with the other several tools of iron selected by the Craft teach a candidate the what and how of transforming himself from a non-spiritual to a spiritual being.
For example the plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly before God, which means that we must learn and follow His laws, which laws include the laws of Nature. The level teaches us that we are traveling a path that eventually will lead us to a world beyond this material existence – a place from whose bourne no traveler returns. We are thereby taught that something is expected of us; something other than living a life filled with luxury and indolence. The square symbolizes justice, equality and truth and thereby teaches the importance of acting fairly toward all men at all times.
Divestiture further acknowledges the need to rid oneself of the resulting impurities that an adherence to the material side of life inflicts upon man’s soul. Freemasonry seeks to provide a candidate the tools necessary to make his material life consistent with his spiritual life. God never intended for man to select one as opposed to the other – to choose either to live in the world or in the spirit. Rather, the Great Architect intended that all men would live a spiritual life in the body and environment in which he was placed by Nature.
Your universe is created by the thoughts and feelings you experience in your daily life. This is the great lesson of alchemy and one of the centerpieces of the ancient mysteries that Freemasonry embraces. If you think and feel virtuously, you attract virtuous things into your life. If you permit negative thoughts and feelings to permeate your being, you will attract negative things. Freemasonry teaches us to contemplate the plumb, level and square, as well as the other tools of architecture, which we use to build good thoughts and to construct excellent feelings. When those lessons are learned, the Mason becomes all that he wishes to become – and even more.
Freemasonry’s relationship to the science and philosophy of alchemy has been written about extensively by this and other Masonic authors. Indeed, if one lifts the veil of Masonic mysteries high enough, he will see beneath it an alchemical formula that is essential to the Third Degree allegories. The alchemical significance of divesting a person of all metallic substances, as symbolized in Masonry, is that it prepares the candidate to be transformed into a new man. As lustration, or baptism symbolizes the completion of man’s commitment to spiritual renewal, so too does the divesting of metallic substances symbolize man’s readiness to learn and become reborn.
The lodge room is Freemasonry’s laboratory – the place where experiments in brotherhood ultimately become transformed into creations of social love. In the lodge room, one brother Mason listens to the cares and concerns of another brother Mason and then works to help relieve those conditions. The thoughts and feelings generated by that one encounter carry over into matters outside of the lodge. Homes for the aged appear, eye foundations emerge, clinics pop up around the globe to aid the speechless and hospitals abound everywhere to care for injured children.
But, there is a personal responsibility associated with becoming all that you want to become. First and foremost, a Mason must learn patience – nothing happens over night. Second, a Mason must employ perseverance on a daily basis. It does little good to think and behave virtuously for a day and then to behave badly for days thereafter. Commitment to excellence of thought and emotion is a lifetime commitment. Third, a Mason must place his brother ahead of himself, for to think and feel selfishly will result in attracting only those people who think and feel similarly. If you wish to attract abundance, you must give of yourself abundantly. Finally, a Mason needs to be acquainted with the true meaning of the word love. It begins with a love of God, being thankful for Him, His creations and His gift of life. It yields to a love of self and then culminates in the love of other human beings as deeply as one loves himself.
Thus, transforming our material lives into equally spiritual lives is the great work of Freemasonry. It begins with the divesting of all minerals and metals – that baggage in our lives that we accumulated before we were introduced to Masonic thought and Masonic emotion. As Shakespeare has stated, “Think well, act well, and live well.” If you do, you will have discovered the true essence of Freemasonry.