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A Masonic Description of Geometry

To the ordinary man Geometry means nothing more than the branch of mathematics associated with the problems of Euclid, a subject having no relation to Masonic ceremonial and ideals. There is however a more ancient description of the term.

Geometry was one of the ‘seven noble arts and sciences’ of ancient philosophy. It means literally the science of earth-measurement. But the ‘earth’ of the ancients did not mean, as it does to us, this physical planet.

It meant the primordial substance, or undifferentiated soul-stuff out of which we human beings have been created, the ‘mother-earth’ from which we have all sprung and to which we must all undoubtedly return.

Man was made, the Scriptures teach, out of the dust of the ground, and it is that ground, that earth or fundamental substance of his being, which requires to be ‘measured’ in the sense of investigating and understanding its nature and properties.

No competent builder erects a structure without first satisfying himself about the nature of the materials with which he proposes to build, and in the speculative or spiritual art of Masonry no Mason can properly build the temple of his own soul without first understanding the nature of the raw material he has to work upon.

Geometry, therefore, is synonymous with self-knowledge, the understanding of the basic substance of our being, its properties and potentialities.

Over the ancient temples of initiation was inscribed the sentence, ‘Know thyself and thou shalt know the universe and God’, a phrase which implies in the first place that the uninitiated man is without knowledge of himself, and in the second place that when he attains that knowledge he will realize himself to be no longer the separate distinctified individual he now supposes himself to be, but to be a microcosm or summary of all that is and to be identified with the Being of God.

Masonry is the science of the attainment of that supreme knowledge and is, therefore, rightly said to be founded on the principles of Geometry.

It is not to be supposed that the physical matter of which our mortal bodies are composed is the ‘earth’ referred to. That is but corruptible impermanent stuff which merely forms a temporary encasement of the imperishable true ‘earth’ or substance of our souls, and enables them to enter into sense-relations with the physical world.

The distinction must be clearly grasped and held in mind, for Masonry has to deal not so much with the transient outward body as with the eternal inward being of man, although the outward body is temporarily involved with the latter.

It is the immortal soul of man which is the ruined temple and needs to be rebuilt upon the principles of spiritual science. The mortal body of it, with its disorderly wills and affections, stands in the way of that achievement.

It is the rubble which needs to be cleared before the new foundations can be set and the new structure reared.

Yet even rubble can be made to serve useful purposes and be rearranged and worked into the new structure, and accordingly man’s outer temporal nature can be disciplined and utilized in the reconstruction of himself.

But in order to effect this reconstruction he must first have a full understanding of the material he has to work with and to work upon.

By Julian Websdale, | Reference: Wilmshurst, W. L. (1980). The Meaning of Masonry. New York: Gramercy Books.

About the author: Julian Websdale is an independent researcher in the fields of esoteric science and metaphysics, and a self-initiate of the Western Esoteric Tradition. His interest in these subjects began in 1988. You can visit his personal blog here.