Over this past summer, our Lodge held a discussion group on the Kirk MacNulty title A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol, published in 1991. I noted that there was a lack of questions geared toward this kind of discussion, so I did a little googling and looked for some questions to be prepared for the discussion. To be fair, I did a pretty poor job of collecting the source of some questions in the General Section. For that I apologize and will happily give credit where it is due. Please feel free to let me know and I will add sources in footnotes if you desire specific credit. Some questions
The discussion was broken into two parts, one on the text, the other on the art. Unfortunately the art discussion was poorly attended and didn’t add much value. The discussion on the text was lively and fairly well attended. I am not including the second session art portion as there was a bit of art work that I am uncertain of its copyright status.
- Not everyone took time to read the material. This led to quite a bit of discussion management. Opinions, while interesting, really don’t add to the discussion without context.
- It seems that even casual students of Masonry really don’t have a good lexicon of symbolism to draw from. Honing that skill in open Lodge has value.
- Widen the net. Masons from other Lodges may not have this kind of discussion in their home Lodge. Look for those people to extend the conversation.
This won’t be the last time we do this kind of study, but we will look for more opportunity to narrow the focus and look for members who will truly participate in the discussion in a meaningful way.
Feel free to use these questions in your discussion. Let me know if you do so and keep me informed of anything interesting that arises.
Session 1 – Text
- Was the title of the book appropriate for the content?
- Do you feel that the theme of the book was adequately explored? Are there more areas to consider?
- Did anything in the writing surprise you? What was the most pivotal revelation from the text?
- What has resonated the most with you personally, either negatively or positively?
- Is there anything in the text that you disagree with?
- How would this text help others?
Pursuit of Knowledge
- How do you feel about the the mission of “know thyself”?
- How do you feel about the transmission of “mysteries” from one generation, society or culture, to another? How do we do this today?
- How do the degrees represent mystery? Are they effective at communicating? Are the effective as bonds?
Thread of Mysteries
- Is it appropriate to use Greek polytheism to interpret the our own psyche? Gods relating to individual emotions or psychological phenomena.
- How do you feel about the assertion that Vitruvius translated those parts into architecture?
- Do we effectively teach our lessons through the mysteries? Are there better ways to communicate or make light available?
- Has the “illiterate” population lost the ability to understand symbols?
- How do “illiterate” people use symbolism today?
- How do you think the Reformation or Anti-reformation reshaped Freemasonry?
A New Look at the Renaissance
- Was it appropriate for the early Christian church to nurture intellectual growth?
- How did Humanism impact or change the church’s role in spreading knowledge?
- How did the Medici really influence the growth or spread of reformation?
- What was the result of misunderstanding where the Hermetica came from? How does that impact us today?
- Why did the Muslims allow large exchanges of knowledge during their rule in the late 1400’s.
- Why did the Roman church adopt the Kabbalistic/Hermetic texts?
- Is it appropriate to treat the Physical, Psyche, Spirit and Divinity as separate entities?
- Why did the Church reverse its decisions in the 17th century? Did that cause or help influence the creation of Lodges?
- How do you feel about the assertion of influential and intellectual men infiltrating a declining group like the operative Builders Guild?
Freemasonry as a Psychology
- What is our Masonic Psychology?
- How would you define Masonic Metaphysics to a new member? (being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, space)
- Why is the superficies associated with the psyche?
- Is it appropriate to associate the three levels of the Temple of Solomon to the three Degrees and also the Jungian psychology of personal consciousness, personal unconsciousness and collective consciousness?
- What is the collective consciousness of Masonry?
- What is the Masonic Model of the psyche? (19)
- Are we responsible for leading a man to “know thyself”, or are we to just give him the tools?
- How are we best disposed to help train the EA, FC or new MM?
- How can we help new Masons understand the secrets of Masonry without unlawfully revealing them?
- Is it unlawful to “connect the dots” for a Brother?
- What did you find the most enlightening about the tracing boards?
The First Degree – EA
- What is implied in the difference between “humanity” being the Temple of God vs. “man” being a temple?
- Ego vs. Self – How does a man best accomplish this task?
- How can we best use the “self” exposed through the Path of Honesty? (21)
- How does the phrase “To Lean, subdue my passions and improve myself in Freemasonry.” relate to the external world?
- What are the capacities of the working tools (24 inch gauge, gavel and chisel [european])?
- What is the view of the tracing board of this degree? (external, looking up)
The Second Degree – FC
- How can we be sure that a FC candidate has made sufficient proficiency in the proceeding degree? What is “sufficient” in this context?
- Why do we use a ladder in the first and stairway in the second?
- What is the view of the tracing board of this degree? (internal, looking up)
- Why can’t consciousness be described?
- Can we store unconscious lessons of the craft? How do we retrieve them?
- How can the fraternities circumscription of our behavior become harmful? (25)
- Can we evaluate or use the unconsciousness of others to extend our lessons?
- Who determines morality? Is there a norm that society can agree upon?
- How does morality balance with free will?
- To pay the craft their wages, if any be there due. How does this phrase mesh with the concept of the middle chamber being the place of receiving wages? (JW/Self/experience)
The Third Degree – MM
- How does death convert to life in the context of the legend?
- Why are the three principle officers, in balance, said to lose the secrets of a Master Mason? (29)
- What is the distinction between recognize and believe?
- Why do we fear death? Why do we fear death of self?
- Why does the author make distinctions between active and passive tools?
- Is the MM degree really the culmination of learning?
- In what other ways does the Master facing West show charity and compassion?