Freemasonry has always found great purpose in fostering human evolution. Throughout history, when darkness prevailed, Masonry has carried injected a glimmering light to counter the dark and has continued to do so for generations. It is never a simple or an easy endeavor, masonic teaching form a slow process of awakening, of building a higher version of ourselves, and to do that, we need to be ’inspired’ and by being so inspired, it is hoped, we can then ‘inspire’ others. The Order was founded to manifest this vision into a reality for the benefit of all. While discarding our ego, we embrace the notion that reinforces self-esteem for ourselves, for our brethren, for all of mankind.
Though we are not certain of much of our own history, one thing is certain however, Freemasonry uses symbolism and allegory that has transcended from Ancient Greek theology and used events and places from an area we know today as the Middle East; Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine. Scottish Antient & Accepted Freemasonry started in Lebanon by the formation of the Palestine Lodge No.415 in 1861.
We are taught that the order originated with Ancient Wisdom, the true Light of Freemasonry. Scripture informs us that when the entire ‘human family’ is united again, then shall this Ancient Wisdom benefit the whole of Humanity; then shall this light shine once more through the Beauty of harmonious life in one Brotherhood.
A few months ago, Pope Francis said in his 2018 Christmas address “May all of us receive peace and consolation from the birth of the Savior and, in the knowledge that we are loved by the one heavenly Father, realize anew that we are brothers and sisters and come to live as such.” A brotherhood that cuts across all religions was previously an unacceptable idea outside the Masonic Fraternity but today we see a transcendence of a humanity that is progressing towards a higher ‘social evolution.’
The ancient sciences that are repeated in much of our ritual may hold the key to our evolution and our transformation. For us to understand our masonic heritage better, we need to look at the ideas that helped shape the way we practice Freemasonry today which makes use of these ancient sciences that have been re-introduced during the Enlightenment era.
The Age of Enlightenment (enlightenment era) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century and marked the end of the ‘Dark Ages.’ This Enlightenment period became known as the “Century of Philosophy” in Europe and brought forth the development of modern day Freemasonry as we know it today. Its impact was wide spread throughout the world, and went well beyond the confines of religious exclusion which had been the prevalent practice for centuries before then; the inquisition started in the 13th century and was actively enforced till around the start of the Age of Enlightenment.
The famous fresco “The School of Athens” of the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael brought together thinkers and scientists, from all religions, that influenced the West. A simple look at the figures included in the painting reflects Plato and Aristotle in the centre, as well as eastern philosophers Zoroaster and Averroes (Ibn Rushd).