I recall my very first visit to the lodge room of Naval Lodge, No. 4. I, like most, was astonished by the art I was surrounded with; the ancient Kemetic art, Coptic symbols, and hieroglyphics (the language of the Metu Neter) embroiled on the wall left me (and still leaves me) contemplating questions about the nature and the origin of Deity. It also inspired me to ponder the central importance that Deity plays in our fraternity and in the lives of its members.
There is but one key universal prerequisite in order to be initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry in the world – belief in a Supreme Being. This is as old and as ancient as the ages; and as all such ancient traditions should, they invite us to consider deep fundamental questions: What is the origin of this prerequisite? If the prerequisite is a Supreme Being, then why the letter “G” in the East?
Let’s begin in Cush (Abyssinia or present-day Ethiopia), where civilization (and arguably Freemasonry) originated and where perhaps some of the wisest Nubians labored. They conducted their enlightenment in compliment with how the Nile River flows from south to north through, which birthed ancient Kemet (Egypt). There are no better architects and engineers than those ancient African Nubians who constructed and built the huge pyramids, mysterious monuments that sit on 13 acres of land and in the center of the earth.
Knowledge represents an acquired amount of learning, both formally and informally, which unlike the ancient Kemites and Nubians had the profound ability to fully exercise their supreme, creative power that exist in the pineal gland, further evidence of our own great mystery relative to human physiology. However the use of their pineal gland, located in the brain gave these ancient Africans the ability to activate and use 100% of their mental capacity, to which the brain still remains a mystery to western thought.
How these Kemites possessed the human mental capacity to construct the architectural phenomenon of the pyramids and other wonders of ancient civilization still remains unprecedented and hasn't been duplicated since - this alone transitioned the ancient Kemites into being Supreme Deities on earth. Their imaginative power and dexterity to transcend western-world thought and evolve into complete harmony with the terrain and Cosmos (which we may view as Operative Masonry and Speculative Masonry), is a mastery of the above and below paradigm and can never be ignored.
Can we modern mortals achieve the same or similar status in our ontology?
Recently, I re-watched a CBS News clip of myself and brothers from The Colonial Lodge No. 1821 entitled, Inside the Secret World of Freemasons where we were interviewed by Mo Rocca. He mentioned how National Treasure, a film that introduces Freemasonry to a younger generation, inspired many younger masons to join our ancient order. However, Freemasonry in National Treasure is presented as exciting but innocuous, with the "secret knowledge" dealing with various clues that would lead to a hoary and immense treasure. That could not be further from the truth.
The G present in the American Masonic symbol of the square and compasses can not only be interpreted as a general term for “God” or “geometry,” but I would contend for “gnosis” —that is, knowledge, or more specifically, a secret knowledge towards a mystical enlightenment. In fact, Freemasons are initiated into this secret knowledge that could lead to the answers of the mystery of existence. And believing in Deity, independent of her name, means that you believe in the need for metaphysics, or something beyond the material world in order to begin the process of unpacking and “knowing” these mysteries. Its symbolism and esoteric knowledge draws us in, transforming our worldview in the hope of becoming - the thing itself.
Freemasonry has always had the ability to impact individuals and society thusly, but it also has the power to transform society into its own image and likeness; our own country is such an example. However, Freemasonry isn’t a religion (this we obviously know), but it is a builder of faith, because at the very least, like the ancient Africans, it embodies a willing and conscious desire to embrace the mysteries of our own divine existence to which we hopefully discover our true self and the glorious power within.
Additionally, Freemasonry is a journey of self-discovery – though it is only one path designed to point us to universal truths. And the universality of such truths ensures us that the light, the gnosis, is the same, regardless of our socially constructed differences.
On this path, another prominent symbol is vital – the compass. The compass is a mathematical tool that guides and gives direction, and parenthetically, let me state that as an evangelical, born-again, theologically and religiously universally ecumenical liberal progressive humanist Christian minister, I would argue that humanity has lost its way and is in dire need of a moral compass; thus, a Freemason, or colloquially put, “a traveling man” cannot, and should not go too far without this particular working tool. As they are designed to move us from the North East corner, a place symbolizing physical and spiritual death, to the East where life and enlightenment originates.
Let us aspire to that place in our enlightenment journey where we can discover that secret treasure within, in hopes of acknowledging we are indeed the Supreme Being we’ve been praying too.