An exposé, the definition of which is; a revelation of something discreditable or scandalous. As a verb; to unveil, to reveal, to divulge, and to uncover.
The point of this article is to articulate and extrapolate the meaning of the Masonic word or as we Masons call it, “The Lost Word”
I presented this paper recently to my masonic lodge. It was a masonic lesson for the edification and enlightenment of the brothers of my lodge, the brethren. I hope I have tweaked your curiosity and hope you will continue reading this post. I have had to edit this article quite severely to satisfy the needs of keeping the secrets of Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry confidential and assure the brothers reading this that I have not divulged any particulars as to our ritual nor to any of our secrets. Seriously people! The secret of Free Masonry is “we have no secrets”. Really! Honestly! Truly!
There are certain things that belong to masonry which we call our ritual or art. What it comprises are signs, words, passwords, handshakes, etc. by which we recognize each other. These things can be readily found by doing simple searches on your computer.
What I am attempting to do is convey to you a sense of what we masons call “The Lost Word.” What word am I talking about you ask? Therein lies the crucible of this exposé and it’s revealing or revelation.
When we masons are made Master Masons or as we phrase it “Raised to the Sublime Degree,” we are given the Master Mason’s word.” This word is but one of numerous words, passwords and signs masons are taught in their masonic careers. This is also the way we test and examine visiting brothers who claim to be masons, they are examined and have to be found proficient in masonic knowledge before they can sit in a masonic lodge.
To expound, I must explain that this Master Mason’s Word is but a substitute word. A substitute word until, as we masons say; “It shall serve for the government of Master Masons until future generations of masons shall find out the right” or until the correct word is found or discovered. In the Royal Arch Chapter of Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry we are supposedly given the real word but this one too is but a substitute word.
By now I know you are asking, where is the real word and what is it? What I am referring to is the “Ineffable Name of God! What is ineffable and what does it mean? The ineffable Name of God is the “Word” God used to describe himself to Moses when he spoke to Moses from within the “Burning Bush.” Ineffable means unutterable or too extreme to be expressed in words, indescribable, inexpressible. This Ineffable Word, or God’s name was only uttered by the Jewish High Priest of Israel. It was only uttered in the “Holy of Holies” in the Temple on the Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kipper by the High Priest when he asked forgiveness and atoned for the sins of Israel. There was a rope tied around his ankle in case he mispronounced the word and God struck him dead. Boy! With the Ark of the Covenant in there and a lisp you could get in serious trouble in Holy of Holies. This brings us to here and here being where the word was lost. The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and the Jewish nation was dispersed throughout the world, more so by the Muslim conquest in 600 to 800 AD.
In modern times Jews and Christians have had numerous names for God; Yahweh, Jehovah or the Jewish word “Has hem” which translates “The Word.” Typically this word is illustrated by the tetragrammaton’s, of YHVH or JHVH which are a combination of the consonants of the words Yahweh and Jehovah. Other names you will recall from singing songs from your hymnal are El Shadai, Adonai, and Elohim. If you will read James A. Michener’s novel “The Covenant” you can follow Israel from its conception and their God “El” up to the present day.
So! Here we are discussing the concept of the “Ineffable Name of God” or the real or actual name of God. Silly isn’t it? Don’t be too quick because this is important is several aspects. Growing up I can still recall my mother quoting her favorite Bible verse out loud so that her heathen sons could hear. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” John 1:1. She would immediately chase that verse with “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17
My mother was admonishing me, her son, to read scripture and my faith would surely follow. You know! She was correct! My feet rarely crossed a church threshold in my youth or teenage years. I took my first communion from a Catholic Chaplin in Vietnam. It’s strange that religious affiliation doesn’t matter much when you might die the next day. I guess my next foray into a church was when I got married.
In fact I was pretty darn illiterate in all things religious. I was once visiting a girlfriend and having dinner with her family, her father asked me to say Grace. I looked at her father and told him I didn’t know how to pray. Great beginnings Right? I imagine he talked to his daughter that night about bringing home pagans, sort of like lost puppies.
Nevertheless! Those seeds my mother sowed so very long ago eventually took root and after having children and deeming it the correct thing to do, I joined a church and introduced my children to God. That is the short of the story though, it wasn’t until later that God tore me down and showed me I couldn’t do it all by myself. That was when I turned myself over to my spirituality and laid my problems at his feet and “He Saved Me literally! Lifted me up and gave me new life, Hope. I have had many a trouble since but I have had a fortress and a refuge to seek shelter in. I know my Mama is shouting Hallelujahs in heaven right now knowing I am testifying to the strength and glory of her and my God.
So you see “The Word” is special. I will tell you a short narrative about a young man in the ancient orient. Think of Ali Abba and the forty thieves, Sinbad or Aladdin. He was a bright and ambitious young man with swarthy skin, dark hair and almond eyes, dressed in flowing tunics with a turban on his head. He was ambitious and had saved his money and invested it wisely. He had built up an inventory of merchandise and finally purchased fare with a caravan going west on the Silk Road to Samarkand. His dreams of success were wrapped up in the adventure of it all. He was about to embark on this new and exciting expedition, new lands and new peoples, the smell of it intoxicated him. He was rushing around the city tying up loose ends and making his farewells as the caravan was gathering at the city gates preparing to depart. He was saying his goodbyes to all he had known and was striking out like all young men do with the overwhelming thrill and excitement of new things tantalizing his imagination.
All of the sudden, things went from idyllic to chaos. Tragedy struck! There was a cataclysmic event, an immense earthquake. People were screaming, stumbling about, falling, buildings began to crumble, and roof tiles began falling. Hearths spilling and setting ablaze buildings and people’s houses. People being crushed by falling timbers and falling debris. Anguish and misery assailed all the people, leaving none untouched. The young man was running headlong thru the streets trying to reach the city gates and safety, to join his caravan, which had escaped the turmoil. As he ran he heard the wails of the injured and the cries of children, shrieks from those dying, parents desperately looking for their children. He dodged and swerved and managed to almost reach the gates. He could see his caravan, the camels and merchants taking their leave of the city. He was there, he could reach them and begin that new life he had dreamed of. He didn’t realize he had stopped, somewhere in the din he heard the cries of those in need. He paused and stared at the caravan departing into the desert. There was a moment of clarity and a purity of purpose, a serenity calmed his agitated state and he turned and surveyed the city in turmoil and those in need. He slowly walked forward, into the chaos, stooping down and bending low to minister to and help those he could with nothing but the word that was within him. He had found his word! Sentimental Huh?
Are you getting the idea of what I am trying to convey? Is there a substance in the word “Word”? I am often asked” What is a Mason and what do ya’ll do?” My go to answer is” You recall those three wise men that followed the star to Bethlehem?” I say “Well we are sort of like them” Here is where I get the blank stare and huff of disconcertment. Now, now! I will remind you they were wise men, probably astronomers, and most certainly intelligent men following a celestial portent. I will remind you that their faiths were not mentioned. They were wise men compelled by their own intellect and curiosity to search for the reason of this phenomena. In their search they found a priceless treasure beyond all else lying in manger in a lowly stable.
In my youth our universe was comprised of about 200 million stars in what we called our Milky Way and we were supposedly the only planet that had life.
Wow! Look at us now! We think there are 200 billion stars and literally thousands upon thousands of planets that can sustain life as we know it. In high school an atom was a simple proton and neutron and there were electrons orbiting it in valences. Now with these atomic particle colliders, we are discovering all types of atomic particles, neutrinos, quarks, anti-matter, dark matter, and just endless amounts of knowledge. Just imagine when astronomers first figured out that those fuzzy stars or what they thought were nebulae were actually other galaxies. After they put the Hubble telescope into orbit we could see literally millions of other galaxies and one has to but to realize our universe is full of life. So? Who would be their God? That’s if and when we meet a non-terrestrial alien? Would you ask them? I figure they are already here or have been, we humans haven’t been around very long in comparison to the age of our galaxy. Don’t be too naive!
Knowledge! The absence of ignorance! Light! The absence of darkness! My mother once asked me. “Son, what happens when you put a lit candle in a dark room?” She answered for me. “Son! It pushes back the darkness!” I would ask all of you to read, learn, and pay attention. Become knowledgeable in all things so as not to be duped. My favorite cliché” You need to stand for something or you will fall for anything” Be your own man or woman. America is fast losing its belief in God, its patriotism, and its traditional family values. These principals and tenets are the roots and foundation of our American democracy. Remember socialism and communism have never worked anywhere or any time in history. We masons have a saying. Listen, be wise and “know the right of things!” There is but one God out there, The Maker, The Creator and he/she gave us a blueprint or plan and its call Mother Nature.
Oh the poet in me is screaming. You see, I have this little sprite or imp that resides in my subconscious and it insists on being heard. I will share a fragment from a famous Arabic poem, Shikwah. Translated into English by Khalid Mattawa.