In the text by WB L. Edward Clark, Royal Secret, he alludes to a key about our ritual that I would like to share with you. He terms the concept the Royal Secret.
Before I delve too far down that path, it is worth noting that WB Clark builds up over 200 pages of text to derive this secret. It is also worth noting that we have a separate appendant body in Freemasonry called the Royal and Select Masters, which could be easily confused with this statement by Clark.
Often times when we look at our Masonic ritual we think the actors are really just the officers who are delivering the speaking parts, or movements about the Lodge. The WM and Senior Deacons typically have the lion’s share of the spoken parts, outside of the lectures themselves. We contemplate the words they speak and often congratulate well done ritual work. The astute Mason also looks deeper and considers the esoteric meanings and symbolism communicated in the beautiful work. There is another actor in the ritual, however, that is oft overlooked, the part played by the initiate.
I think we as Masons do a pretty poor job of making sure that we use initiation for its real purpose. Initiation isn’t just something we DO for someone or that the initiate has DONE to him; instead it is a transformation of the individual, something he DOES to himself. While we do put emphasis on the importance of the ritual and catechism for the candidate, we forget that they are the main actor in our proceedings and attend to them as such. Recognizing their important role in our work will help to elevate the initiate to the proper post and ensure that our work continues.
Our ritual purposefully forces our willing candidate to give the most important parts of the ritual during their transformation in the EA. “What?”, you might be saying. “How could we possibly have a candidate giving the most important parts of the EA? He doesn’t even know the grips and signs yet!”
In fact our ritual forces the candidate to provide these words, and if he is paying attention, he begins his transformation.
Four statements, six words, that’s all he provides in the EA; all prompted by questions.
Mr Doe…is this of your own free will and accord? His response? It is. (Sometimes, “Yes”)
So why does he need to give this response? I contend that the candidate who is paying attention realizes that HE is the one responsible for being here and making the transformation of himself.
He is then conducted to the center of the Lodge, asked to kneel, prayed over and asked in whom he puts his trust? Unprompted he gives the appropriate response. God
The candidate needs to know that unmotivated by anything else he must rely on his personal relationship with his creator. He is not here for money or fame, he can rely on his friends, but ultimately, he must trust and rely on Deity alone.
He is then obligated and parrots back his obligation, probably struggling with some new words, rarely does he remember all of the words after, but the WM and SD manage to pull one word from him before removing his blindfold. The key that we often overuse, but some do not completely understand. Light
Lastly he is confronted by the Secretary who demands an offering of sorts. This solemn ritual ends by asking the candidate if he has checked and double checked and asks if he is poor and penniless. His response? I am
So, what is the Royal Secret? It is, God, Light, I am. Take that to mean whatever it means to you, but I contend that if our ritual and our practices are what we claim they are, the meaning will be quite evident.