The Chamber of Reflection and Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Dan Gentry



In our craft, we have a very esoteric feature that is no longer widely used, which would cause one to have deep reflections before and after the degrees. It is under utilized and mostly non-existent in Blue Lodges, and this is of course, the Chamber of Reflection. It is an esoteric symbol that had been a requirement to move forward in the degrees before many states and jurisdictions decided to have it moved to an appendant body of Freemasonry, and away from the Blue Lodge. You see, in our beginnings we would require a candidate to meditate in the Chamber of Reflection before entering into the First Degree. "..who has long been in darkness...", does that ring a bell? My Brothers, just think how this would impact any candidate in the degrees today. I understand this is not a popular notion in this day and age, when we are trying to streamline the process and putting on one day classes, but hear me out. 
 
It is my belief that in Freemasonry, it is not what we perceive to be the end of the journey that matters, but it is the journey itself. Yes, the impact of the journey is the most important part of any Masonic endeavor. So lets take a journey, let's look at the Chamber of Reflection, from an Esoteric point of view.

It is no secret that a Chamber of Reflection has certain items within, and though they may vary, there are some things that, for the most part, stay the same. Either an image of a skull, sometimes with crossbones, or a physical representation of such. Those seeing this symbol would usually relate it to death, or mortality and this is not incorrect. It does though, have a deeper meaning to one who can study it along with the other items. There is an hourglass, which again on the surface represents time itself and the lack of abundance. There is either actual bread and water or a representation of such, and at a glance, this could represent nourishment or the need for such things. 

There is a representation of a rooster (hopefully not a real one running around, but hey, to each their own). Again, at a glance this would represent the beginning of things, as the rooster brings in the day. Also a lantern or candle representing the small amount of light that is shown into the world. A sickle or scythe which at first look would represent the reaping of the harvest or the things that will benefit us yet to come. There are usually the letters V.I.T.R.I.O.L or Visita Interiora Terrae, Rectifcandoque, Invenies Occultum Lapidem. Which means (or is sometimes written) "Visit the interior of the earth, and purifying it, you will find the hidden stone", which most of us would relate to the changes and acceptance of the changes that are to come. The final common item is either the room itself which is a representation of a cave, or in some cases, there is a physical piece of Earth, which at first look, may represent the very place in which we exist. 

Now what if we dive into esoterics here? To help you along, I will help by simply assigning alchemical symbols and esoteric values at their simpliest form to show you what may really be involved. First off, an esoteric mind will take the skull and crossbones, the dirt or the cave representation, and the hourglass together. In doing so, we see not only brevity, but the old saying Carpe Diam, or seize the day. Learn to live the life of a Mason and apply it to every second in every day, in every facet of our being, to gain the most experience. Now, top that with the sickle, and we learn to reap quickly what we harvest, or be good intenders or mentors to those that we are given into our care. We look at the cave and realize it can be assigned the Alchemical symbol of Earth, and we add that with the rooster or cockerel, which represents sulfur, and then VITRIOL comes in with a common meaning of learning to purify the earth, or in this case ourselves, so that the best possible harvest may come to bloom and we need to do this through hope and charity (Agape).

The main event in all this, is that once you study the Temple of King Solomon in what I believe to be it’s proper assignment in being built, and that is that of a representation of the human body as it is shown as the temple, or more specifically ourselves or the individual Mason. After you take your third degree, research this, and once you grasp the idea, even at it’s most basic level, take it into the Chamber of Reflection and meditate upon it, then the whole idea of Freemasonry, at least for me it did, will come to light.

~Doc

Brother Daniel "Doc" Gentry is a Brother Master Mason under the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Mason's of the State of Illinois, in the 1st Northeast district. His sign is Leo, and has been known to enjoy long walks in blizzards. He is stubborn and has no plans of joining the York or Scottish Rite anytime soon. Also in his spare time, he is a great DM for D&D games. Sacred Geometery! You can reach him by email at doc@midnightfreemasons.org

4 comments:

  1. I can not begin to understand why we do not do this very thing. I think it is VERY important. But then coming from my spiritual background the Heros Journey (and that is what the degrees are (Read Joseph Campbells works). In the old Mystery Schools and above the oracle of Delphi was Know Thyself. How are we ever going to know ourselfs unless we are put on the proper track. I think this would be a very valuable tool

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  2. We still have a chamber underneath our stage. It's not utilized, though.

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  3. Brother Gentry, excellent article pertaining to the Chamber of Reflection. You provide a lot to think about. Here in Asheville, N.C. there is a relatively new lodge, i.e. Veritas 769, which utilizes the Chamber of Reflection. This is a lodge fashioned after what has come to be known as the Traditional Observant style that WB Andrew Hammer talks about.
    At Veritas we offer our members, guests and candidates the opportunity to utilize the Chamber of Reflection at every meeting if they so choose. So far the C.O.R. and our new style lodge has been well received and is 100% supported by our Grand Lodge line. We try to keep our chamber very simple. Inside we have a single lite candle on a small table, an hour glass and a facsimile of a human skull. This, according to what we have researched, is the basics for what we hope the members, guests and candidate reflect on. Their life, time and their own mortality.
    We realize that this type of lodge and the utilization of the Chamber of Reflection is not for everyone and we are not promoting lodges to change how they operate. We are just offering this type of lodge setting for those individuals who wish to experience the traditional observant style and hope that we can continue to provide additional light to those who seek it.
    Veritas #769 meets every other odd month on the forth Wednesday, and the forth Monday in November due to the holidays. We are located at 80 Broadway (Asheville Masonic Temple) in Asheville, N.C.
    Our lodge website is : http://769-nc.ourlodgepage.com/
    Our Facebook site is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/816051465080884/

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  4. Greetings from Resp.·. Log.·. Esperanza 7 del Este N 233, Great Lodge of the Republic of Venezuela. Here, I had the honour of passing through an initiation ceremony that included a lot of esoteric components, being one of them the Chamber of Reflection. In my Lodge it is always used, and I feel very confused by reading this article, because I cannot understand how can a Mason be initiated without passing through this part of the ritual.

    S.·.F.·.U.·.

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