Entrance to the Mystic Circle
Wouldst thou read riddles and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat?
Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Wouldst thou see a truth within a fable?
Truth, although in swaddling clothes,
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind,
Pleases the understanding, makes the will submit
The memory, too, it doth fill with what our imagination please
Likewise it tends our trouble to appease
The leaflet, known familtarly among us as “Aims and Objects”, which every applicant for membership of the “Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia” should have received before he fills up his application form, will have given the Aspirant some idea of the nature and characteristics of the Society and what may be expected of him. The “Societas Rosicruciana” does not constitute merely another interesting degree in Freemasonry, to be acquired in the course of ordinary Masonic progress, but somethtng beyond and outside Freemasonry. Its members should be prepared, not only to attend meetings and take part in its ceremonies, but to listen and learn and, by study and giving to others the results of that study, to take an active part in “working out the great problems of life” and understanding “the wisdom, art and literature of the Ancient World”. Every time the College meets we are reminded in the opening ceremony of out objects, of the way to achieve them and of our bond of fellowship in the pursuit of learning.
Two essential qualifications have been laid down in the leaflet; and the Aspirant must make a declaration in his Application Form that he is in possession of them. These are that he must be a Master Mason and must adhere to the fundamental principles of the Christian Doctrine. The first qualification will assure the members of the Society that he has given proof of that fidelity and secrecy which should always characterize Freemasons. As regards the second qualification, in the course of his studies the Frater may be led to pursue certain branches of knowledge which are not for everyone, and his declaration gives prima facie evidence that he possesses the Faith, the understanding and the strength of character which will guide him aright through such difficulties as he may encounter in his pursuit of knowledge. It also ensures a certain community of outlook and understanding among the members of the Society.
The Christian character of the Society is also emphasized in the ceremony of Admission. This is not merely a formal introduction to the Society, but also an important indication of a line of conduct. The Aspirant is frequently reminded of his obligation as a Christian every Celebrant, before installation, has openly to promise that he will maintain the truly Christian character of our Society Thus are placed continually before us the spiritual aspects inculcated in our aims.
Much of the symbolism of the Zelator Grade is explained in the course of the ceremony, as, for instance, that contained in the jewel of the Fraternity. But there are other points which remain obscure. After replying to the Celebrant’s questions, the Aspirant undergoes the four symbolic elemental tests. Over these tests the four Ancients preside. Further, the first and fourth Ancients, those of Earth and Fire, assist the Celebrant in receiving the Aspirant into the Society. The symbolism of the four Ancients is explained further in two papers by Frater G. C. Parkhurst Baxter,” The Zelator Ritual” and “The Symbolism of the Zelator Ritual”, published in Met. College Transactions for 1933. In addition there are six pamphlets wntten under the direction of the High Council, which are known as the Claviculae. The second and fifth Claviculae will give further guidance on the points discussed hitherto.
In the explanation of the various objects on the Altar, the Celebrant lays special emphasis on the Mystic Letters I.H.V.H. This Sacred Symbol reappears constantly in our ceremonies; and for further knowledge the Zelator must look to the Claviculae already mentioned and the Sixth Clavicula as well.
During the second part of the ceremony of Admission the Aspirant is placed on the symbolic centre of the universe to receive the secrets of his Grade. The centre of the universe is depicted on a floor cloth and is surrounded by a number of symbols. These are fully explained in the Sixth Clavicula.
The brief explanation of the first twelve numbers may be regarded as the fist step on the road to knowledge and the Zelator, a word which may be taken to mean “Eager Seeker “, will find that each successive Grade has a special subject of study ascribed to it.
The Torchbearer’s reminder of the fate of him who fails is no mere empty symbolism. Progress in the Rosiciucian Society is not automatic. Unless a Frater is ready to serve the Society he cannot expect advancement beyond the first Order of Grades, enter Adeptship, which qualifies him for Membership of the London College of Adepis. the daughter College of the Metropolitan College, or attain Office Some Zelatores either through diffidence or excess of humility, may come to the conclusion that they are unable to take an active part in our proceedings, but they need not give up hope, theie are several ways in which they can work Though at first they may “falter because the ways seems long and the soul is weary they can begin by listening and learning Attached to the Metropolitan College there is, in addition to the London College of Adepts, the Metropolitan Study Group.
All members of the Metropolitan College are automatically members of the Study Group and may attend its meetings, of which they receive due notice The Group meets in the High Council Library at Stanfield Hall, 88 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1RE October, November, and every month from January to July. Usually a paper is read and, as no ceremony takes place, there is ample time for discussion, raising questions, and seeking instruction The Study Group offers a good opportunity to an inexperienced Frater to submit the first results of his studies, and he will ieceive advice, criticism, and help Many of the papers read in the Study Group have been deemed worthy to be read in the College and printed in the Transactions Attendance at the Study Group Meetings is taken into account when the question of promoting a Frater is considered.
After his admission the Frater will receive a certificate, the evidence that his name and his Latin motto have been entered in the Golden Book of membership The design of this certificate is full of symbolism, mostly derived from the Kabbalab, and is explained in the first Clavicula. Although given some prominence admission, the Kabbalah is only one of the subjects in the “Aims and Objects” and in the ceremony of of study of the Society ; and the new Frater is sure to find in the wide range open to our members sonic line of pursuit which will be congenial The Kabbalistic system is briefly explained in the third and fourth Claviculae and the late M.W. Frater J. Mason Allan, Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia, our Sister Society in Scotland, has written an introduction to this abstruse subject which will be of great value to the student.
As regards the origins of the Rosicrucians, first in importance is the manifesto issued in 1611, known as the “Fama”. The High Council has published a reproduction of this most important document, as well as of the “Confessio” and other papers of our remote predecessors.
Some of these works can be obtained from the High Council Library, which is at Stanfield Hall, 88 Hampstead High Street, London. NW3 1RE. The library is open to all Fratres dnd books can be borrowed for private study from the Librarian-General.
The Zelator will have realized that knowledge is not static, new facts are discovered daily, and from this progress the subjects which form the study of our Society are not exempt. Opinions are bound to vary and often it is difficult to decide which is correct. Different minds gain different impressions and draw different lessons from the same facts. The Zelator, therefore, in reading the books and pamphlets recommended here, and indeed all others which he will peruse in his quest for knowledge, must keep his mind open, use his discrimination, and be ready to form his own opinion in preference to accepting the written word without examination or question.
In conclusion the Zelator will do well to read in full the paper on “Objects and Aims of the Society”, and not once only. Here it will suffice to give the following extracts —“The inquirer after truth will find that his first footsteps tread on the confines of the impenetrable that he is constantly finding himself out of his depth that all his knowledge, no matter from what source it may proceed, tends to become transcendental , that his natural science tends to become lost in supeinaturalism. Nevertheless, as all Zelatores have been told, we should ‘not falter because the way seems long and the soul is weary, but toil on towards the utmost pinnacles of wisdom. Let us remember that knowledge is power and that the source of all wisdom will sustain our feeble steps on the journey that leads to eternal life’. For the achievement of our objects, our equipment needs to be comprehensive, and necessarily also peculiar and special. It is of importance to survey the main parts of this equipment.
“All that the Aspirant is told should not be looked upon offhand as unintelligible Jargon, but should be carefully studied and examined. There is an Eastern saying ‘He who looks for a negation, beholds it he who looks for Truth, beholds negation also, but perceives the Truth beyond.’
“There is no end to the search for knowledge; and, weary of the never ending, man is forced to turn inwards and look at the centre, not at the circuniference of the circle. We frequently meet the injunction γνώθι σεαΰτον—and, to ‘know yourself’ means not only ‘think about or study yourself’, but also ‘to realize the limitation of your powers’. Thus true introspection can begin to help to carry thought beyond the narrow horizon circumscribed by intellection and thus, in the words of the Fama, ‘Finally man might understand his own nobleness and worth and why he is called the microcosmos, and how far his knowledge extendeth in nature.’
“Fratres, it is the bounden duty of each member of our Society to do his best to advance the science, and to try to carry out our objects.
“With a well balanced equipment and a properly adjusted aim, the object of affording mutual aid and encouragement should be within easy range; and there can be no better example to follow than that given in the Fama, in which is set forth the duty and beauty of service and the meeting together for the purpose of recording discoveries and helping one another.
He who would make use of understanding must descend to the plains where past and future meet, and men have need of him.’ ‘Alteri vivere oportet, si vis tibi vivere.’ (Thou must live for others if thou wouldst live for thyself.)”