“And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, …”

Deut. 27: 5

Candidates for degrees in Freemasonry must enter a Masonic Lodge without metallic substances on their person. They are also instructed that King Solomon’s Temple was erected without the aid of metal or iron tools.

Over time, they learn about the Masonic importance of the biblical character Tubal-cain, who is described in the book of Genesis as the first craftsman of metals. Explanations on each of these topics are provided during the ceremonies, but those explanations are merely preliminary to the deeper meanings, which are veiled in the mysteries of the Art that each candidate must explore for himself.

If it can be said that the science of alchemy refers to the transformation of substances and elements (i.e. lead into Masonic gold), then it can be said that the philosophy of alchemy belongs similarly to the transformation of men of non-spiritual beings to spiritual beings.

As such, the importance of alchemy to Freemasons is not so much the substantive alchemical philosophy as what that substantive philosophy actually symbolizes. It is not enough simply to understand what change symbolizes. It is much more important to understand that it symbolizes the need to learn how to change and how to make the necessary changes.

Freemasonry selects architectural tools or iron tools to teach serious and wise truths. The plumb line, level and square are implements used for construction and, together with the various other iron tools selected by the Craft, teach the candidate what and how to transform from a non-spiritual being to a spiritual one.

For example, the plumb line admonishes us to walk righteously before God, which means that we must learn and follow His laws, which include the laws of Nature. The level teaches us that we are traveling a path that will eventually lead us to a world beyond this material existence, a place from which no traveler ever returns. In this way we are taught that something is expected of us; something more than living a life full of luxury and indolence. The square symbolizes justice, equality and truth and therefore teaches the importance of acting fairly with all men at all times.

Divestment further recognizes the need to get rid of the resulting impurities that adherence to the material side of life inflicts on the soul of man. Freemasonry seeks to provide the candidate with the necessary tools so that his material life is consistent with his spiritual life. God never intended for man to select one over the other, to choose to live in the world or in the spirit. Rather, the Great Architect intended that all men live a spiritual life in the body and environment in which Nature placed it.

Your universe is created by the thoughts and feelings that you experience in your daily life. This is the great lesson of alchemy and one of the centerpieces of the ancient mysteries that Masonry embraces. If you think and feel virtuously, you attract virtuous things into your life. If you allow negative thoughts and feelings to enter your being, you will attract negative things. Freemasonry teaches us to contemplate the plumb line, the level and the square, as well as the other tools of architecture, which we use to construct good thoughts and to construct excellent feelings. When those lessons are learned, the Mason becomes everything he wishes to be, and even more.

This and other Masonic authors have written extensively on the relationship of Freemasonry to the science and philosophy of alchemy. In fact, if one lifts the veil of Masonic mysteries high enough, one will see below it an alchemical formula that is essential to allegories of the Third Degree. The alchemical meaning of stripping a person of all metallic substances, as symbolized in Freemasonry, is that it prepares the candidate to transform into a new man. Just as cleansing or baptism symbolizes the completion of man’s commitment to spiritual renewal, so the stripping of metallic substances symbolizes man’s willingness to learn and be reborn.

The lodge room is the laboratory of Freemasonry, the place where brotherhood experiments are finally transformed into creations of social love. In the shelter room, a Mason brother listens to the concerns and concerns of another Mason brother and then works to help alleviate those conditions. The thoughts and feelings generated by that encounter are transferred to matters outside the shelter. Homes for the elderly are springing up, foundations for the eyes are emerging, clinics are springing up around the world to help 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 of all, a Mason must learn patience, nothing happens overnight. Second, a Mason must employ perseverance on a daily basis. It is of little use to think and behave virtuously for one day and then misbehave for the next few days. The commitment to excellence of thought and emotion is a lifelong commitment. Third, a Freemason must put his brother ahead of himself, because selfish thinking and feeling will result in attracting only those people who think and feel similarly. If you want to attract abundance, you must give of yourself in abundance. Finally, a Freemason needs to familiarize himself with the true meaning of the word love. It begins with a love for God, being thankful for Him, His creations and His gift of life. It yields to self-love and then culminates in love of other human beings as deeply as one loves oneself.

Therefore, transforming our material lives into equally spiritual lives is the great work of Freemasonry. It begins with the divestment 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 said, “Think well, act well, and live well.” If you do, you will have discovered the true essence of Freemasonry.

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