How familiar the phrase is. No Lodge is ever opened or closed, in due form, without using it. Yet how few know how old it is, much less what a deep meaning it has in it. Like so many old and lovely things, it is so near to us that we do not see it.
As far back as we can go in the annals of the Craft we find this old phrase. Its form betrays its age. The word MOTE is an Anglo-Saxon word, derived from an anomalous verb, MOTAN. Chaucer uses the exact phrase in the same sense in which we use it, meaning “So May It Be.” It is found in the Regius Poem, the oldest document of the Craft, just as we use it today.
As everyone knows, it is the Masonic form of the ancient AMEN which echoes through the ages, gathering meaning and music as it goes until it is one of the richest and most haunting of words. At first only a sign of assent, on the part either of an individual or of an assembly, to words of prayer or praise, it has become to stand as a sentinel at the gateway of silence.
When we have uttered all that we can utter, and our poor words seem like ripples on the bosom of the unspoken, somehow this familiar phrase gathers up all that is left – our dumb yearnings, our deepest longings – and bears them aloft to One who understands. In some strange way it seems to speak for us into the very ear of God the things for which words were never made.
So, naturally, it has a place of honor among us. At the marriage Altar it speaks its blessing as young love walks toward the bliss or sorrow of hidden years. It stands beside the cradle when we dedicate our little ones to the Holy life, mingling its benediction with our vows. At the grave side it utters its sad response to the shadowy AMEN which death pronounces over our friends.
When, in our turn, we see the end of the road, and would make a last will and testament, leaving our earnings and savings to those whom we love, the old legal phrase asks us to repeat after it: “In The Name Of God, AMEN.” And with us, as with Gerontius in his Dream, the last word we hear when the voices of earth grow faint and the silence of God covers us, is the old AMEN, So Mote It Be.
How impressively it echoes through the Book of Holy Law. We hear it in the Psalms, as chorus answers to chorus, where it is sometimes reduplicated for emphasis. In the talks of Jesus with his friends it has a striking use, hidden in the English version. The oft-repeated phrase, “Verily, Verily I Say Unto You,” if rightly translated means, AMEN, AMEN, I say unto you.” Later, in the Epistles of Paul, the word AMEN becomes the name of Christ, who is the AMEN of God to the faith of man.
So, too, in the Lodge, at opening, at closing, and in the hour of initiation. No Mason ever enters upon any great or important undertaking without invoking the aid of Deity. And he ends his prayer with the old phrase, “So Mote It Be.” Which is another way of saying: “The Will Of God Be Done.” Or, whatever be the answer of God to his prayer: “So Be It – because it is wise and right.
What, then, is the meaning of this old phrase, so interwoven with all our Masonic lore, simple, tender, haunting? It has two meanings for us everywhere, in the Church, or in the Lodge. First, it is assent of man to the way and Will Of God; assent to His Commands; assent to His Providence, even when a tender, terrible stroke of death takes from us one much loved and leaves us forlorn.
Still, somehow, we must say:” So it is; so be it. He is a wise man, a brave man; who, baffled by the woes of life, when disaster follows fast and follows faster, can nevertheless accept his lot as a part of the Will of God and say, though it may almost choke him to say it:
“So Mote It Be.” It is not blind submission, nor dumb resignation, but a wise reconciliation to the Will of the Eternal.
The other meaning of the phrase is even more wonderful; it is the assent of God to the aspiration of man. Man can bear so much – anything, perhaps – if he feels that God knows, cares and feels for him and with him. If God says Amen, so it is, to our faith and hope and love; it links our perplexed meanings, and helps us to see, however dimly, or in a glass darkly, that there is a wise and good purpose in life, despite its sorrow and suffering, and that we are not at the mercy of Fate or the whim of Chance.
Does God speak to man, confirming his faith and hope? If so, how? Indeed yes! God is not the great I Was, but the great I Am, and He is neither deaf nor dumb. In Him we live and move and have our being – He Speaks to us in nature, in the moral law, and in our own hearts, if we have ears to hear. But He speaks most clearly in the Book of Holy Law which lies open upon our Alter.
Nor is that all. Some of us hold that the Word Of God “Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us, Full Of Grace and Truth,” in a life the loveliest ever lived among men, showing us what life is, what it means, and to what fine issues it ascends when we do the Will of God on earth as it is done in Heaven. Not one of us but grows wistful when he thinks of the life of Jesus, however far we fall below it.
Today men are asking the question: Does it do any good to pray? The man who actually prays does not ask such a question. As well ask if it does a bird any good to sing, or a flower to bloom? Prayer is natural and instinctive in man. We are made so. Man is made for prayer, as sparks ascending seek the sun. He would not need religious faith if the objects of it did not exist.
Are prayers ever answered? Yes, always, as Emerson taught us long ago. Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered – and that is as far as we need to go. The deepest desire, the ruling motive of a man, is his actual prayer, and it shapes his life after its form and color. In this sense all prayer is answered, and that is why we ought to be careful what we pray for – because in the end we always get it.
What, then is the good of prayer? It makes us repose on the unknown with hope; it makes us ready for life. It is a recognition of laws and the thread of our conjunction with them. It is not the purpose of prayer to beg or make God do what we want done. Its purpose is to bring us to do the Will of God, which is greater and wiser than our will. It is not to use God, but to be used by Him in the service of His plan.
Can man by prayer change the Will of God? No, and Yes. True prayer does not wish or seek to change the larger Will of God, which involves in its sweep and scope the duty and destiny of humanity. But it can and does change the Will of God concerning us, because it changes our will and attitude towards Him, which is the vital thing in prayer for us.
For example, if a man living a wicked life, we know what the Will of God will be for him. All evil ways have been often tried, and we know what the end is, just as we know the answer to a problem in geometry. But if a man who is living wickedly changes his way of living and his inner attitude, he changes the Will of God – if not His Will, at least His Intention. That is, he attains what even the Divine Will could not give him and do for him unless it had been effected by His Will and Prayer.
The place of Prayer in Masonry is not perfunctory. It is not a mere matter of form and rote. It is vital and profound. As a man enters the Lodge as an initiate, prayer is offered for him, to God, in whom he puts his trust. Later, in a crisis of his initiation, he must pray for himself, orally or mentally as his heart may elect. It is not just a ceremony; it is basic in the faith and spirit of Masonry. Still later, in a scene which no Mason ever forgets, when the shadow is darkest, and the most precious thing a Mason can desire or seek seems lost, in the perplexity and despair of the Lodge, a prayer is offered. As recorded in our Monitors, it is a mosaic of Bible words, in which the grim facts of life and death are set forth in stark reality, and appeal is made to the pity and light of God.
It is truly a great prayer, to join in which is to place ourselves in the very hands of God, as all must do in the end, trust His Will and way, following where no path is into the soft and fascinating darkness which men call death. And the response of the Lodge to that prayer, as to all others offered at its Altar, is the old, challenging phrase, “So Mote It Be!”
Brother, do not be ashamed to pray, as you are taught in the Lodge and the Church. It is a part of the sweetness and sanity of life, refreshing the soul and making clear the mind. There is more wisdom in a whispered prayer than in all the libraries of the world. It is not our business to instruct God. He knows what things we have need for before we ask him. He does not need our prayer, but we do – if only to make us acquainted with the best Friend we have.
The greatest of all teachers of the soul left us a little liturgy called the Lord’s Prayer. He told us to use it each for himself, in the closet when the door is shut and the din and hum and litter of the world is outside. Try it Brother; it will sweeten life, make its load lighter, its joy brighter, and the way of duty plainer.
Two tiny prayers have floated down to us from ages agone, which are worth remembering; one by a great Saint, the other by two brothers. “Grant Me, Lord, ardently to desire, wisely to study, rightly to understand and perfectly to fulfill that which pleaseth Thee.” And the second is after the manner: “May two brothers enjoy and serve Thee together, and so live today that we may be worthy to live tomorrow.”
“SO MOTE IT BE”
Our first great discovery is that each of us is a focalized expression of all the infinite harmonies of the Universe.
The best description of this, as a positive experience, has been written by Margaret Prescott Montague in Twenty Minutes of Reality.
I was lying on a cot on the porch of a hospital at the time, convalescing after a serious illness. It was an ordinary cloudy March day. I am glad to think that it was. I am glad to remember that there was nothing extraordinary about the weather, nor any unusualness of setting-no flush of spring or beauty of scenery-to induce what I saw. It was, on the contrary, a most dingy day.
Yet here, in this everyday setting, and entirely unexpectedly (for I have never dreamed such a thing), my eyes were opened, and for the first time in all my life I caught a glimpse of the ecstatic beauty of reality. I cannot now recall whether the revelation came suddenly or gradually; I only remember finding myself in the very midst of of these wonderful moments, beholding life for the first time in all its young intoxication of loveliness, in its unspeakable joy, beauty, and importance. I cannot say exactly what the mysterious change was. I saw no new thing, but I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light-in what I believe is their true light. I saw for the first time how wildly beautiful and joyous, beyond any words of mine to describe, is the whole of life. Every human being moving across that porch, every sparrow that flew, every branch tossing in the wind, was caught in and was a part of the whole mad ecstasy of loveliness, of joy, of importance, of intoxication of life.
It was not that for a few keyed-up moments I IMAGINED all existence so beautiful, but for my inner vision to the truth so that I saw the actual loveliness which is always there, but which we so rarely perceive; and I knew every man, woman, bird, and tree, every living thing before me, was extravagantly beautiful and extravagantly important. And as I behold, my heart melted out of me in a rapture of love and delight.
For these glorified moments I was in love with every living thing before me-the tress in the wind, the little birds flying, the nurses, the internes, the people who came and went. There was nothing that was alive that was not a miracle. Just to be alive was a miracle in itself. My very soul flowed out of me in a great joy.
For those fleeting lovely moments I did in deed and in truth, love my neighbor as myself. Nay more: of myself I was hardly conscious, while with my neighbor in every form, from wind-tossed branches and little sparrows flying, up to human beings, I was madly in love.
This is how for me, all fear of eternity has been wiped away. I have found a little taste of bliss, and if Heaven can offer this, no eternity will be too long to enjoy the miracle of existence. But that was not the greatest thing that those twenty minutes revealed, and that did most to end all fear of life everlasting. The great thing was the realization that weariness, and boredom, and questions as to the use of it all, belong entirely to unreality. When once we wake to Reality-whether we do so here or have to wait for the next life for it-we shall never be bored, for in Reality there is no such thing.
The preceding appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1916.
What if here we are only symbols of ourselves, and our real being is somewhere else-perhaps in the heart of God? If so, then are we really and truly becoming?
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci
I started out in the early morn of a long past day,
And I’ve enjoyed every moment of that long weary way.
But how much longer will I be permitted to stay?
So I guess I’ll sit, for a little while,
To rest a bit, in this last long mile,
And to deck my face with a big bright smile.
For how many folks are blessed as me?
All the wonderful things I’ve been permitted to see,
And to know that a kindly voice is calling to me.
Time keeps me in tune, with an ache or a pain,
But I get along nicely, with the aid of a cane.
And I’d do all the same things, could I do them again.
I’ve tried keeping my home as a haven of love,
My prayers have been answered through my God above,
They’re as swift and as sure, as the wings of a dove.
I wish I were home, at that place of mine,
For in the yard stands a beautiful trumpet vine.
Then like a silent word, a whisper, or a breath of air,
The hummingbirds are collecting and scattering nectar there.
Nature’s way, directed by the great God above,
To propagate, species by species, through perfect Love.
What beautiful lessons God has given to man,
With, “Thou shalt have dominion over all, in this land.”
I’m here in a flower bed, but yet far away,
On the blooms of the vines, the hummingbirds play.
Their trim little bodies, their tireless wings,
Their willing devotions, these cute little things.
So much like the Earth, now holding my hand.
If I’d call her hummingbird, she’d not understand.
So I’ll thank my God, for the blessings they give,
In a tireless way, that help me to live.
One cold February day a small snail started climbing an apple tree. As he inched slowly upward, a worm stuck his head out of the crevice in the bark to offer some advice. “You know, you’re wasting your time. There isn’t a single apple up their at this time of year.”
The snail kept his steady pace and said, “There will be by the time I get there.”
The snail anticipated. Anticipation is certainly expectation of a future event. When expectations are coming perhaps it is best to move at a snail’s pace.
What we are expecting will be there for us when we get there.
In taking a moment to just acknowledge a certain thought, there’s a space between awareness and the thought itself. This space has now become a “choice point.”
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., says that the biological time-span of an emotion is 90 seconds. But do your emotions last only 90 seconds? No. Our brains continue to kick up negative thoughts fueling the emotional response. We need to investigate our thought. That’s right… investigate our thought.
“Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Victor Frankl
In this “choice space” we get more perspective from four great questions:
- Is it true?
- Is it absolutely true?
- How does this thought make me feel?
- What would be different without this thought?
The great question to help see the light and the potential within is: “Who would I be without this thought?”
As we continue to get space from our thoughts, entertain them, but become more skillful about which wants we accept and which we don’t, we begin to train a more flexible and wiser mind.
Because of its evident relationship to Christianity, special attention needs to be paid to the Persian/Roman religion of Mithraism. The worship of the Indo-Persian god Mithra dates back centuries to millennia preceding the common era. The Christian litany to Jesus could easily be an allegorical litany to the sun-god. Mithras is often represented as carrying a lamb on his shoulders, just as Jesus is. Midnight services were found in both religions. The virgin mother…was easily merged with the virgin mother Mary. Petra, the sacred rock of Mithraism, became Peter, the foundation of the Christian Church.
Both Mithras and Christ were described variously as ‘the Way,’ ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ ‘the Life,’ ‘the Word,’ ‘the Son of God,’ ‘the Good Shepherd.’
Mithra was the light and power behind the sun. In Rome there was dedicated an altar to “Sol Invictus Mithras”—”The Unconquered Sun Mithra”. In an early image, Mithra is depicted as a sun disc in a chariot drawn by white horses. Subsequent to the military campaign of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE, Mithra became the “favorite deity” of Asia Minor. The theory of “continuity” from the Iranian to Roman Mithraism developed famously by scholar Dr. Franz Cumont in the 20th century has been largely rejected by many scholars.
In the fifth century, the emperor Julian, rejected his birth-religion of Christianity, and adopted Mithraism. It seems that the ancients themselves did not divorce the eastern roots of Mithraism, as exemplified also by the remarks of Dio Cassius, who related that in 66 AD/CE the king of Armenia, Tiridates, visited Rome. Cassius states that the dignitary worshipped Mithra; yet, he does not indicate any distinction between the Armenian’s religion and Roman Mithraism.
Mithraism has been compared to Christianity, revealing numerous similarities between the two faiths’ doctrines and traditions, including as concerns stories of their respective godmen. In developing this analysis, it should be kept in mind that elements from Roman, Armenian and Persian Mithraism are utilized, not as a whole ideology but as separate items that may have affected the creation of Christianity, whether directly through the mechanism of Mithraism or through another Pagan source within the Roman Empire and beyond. The evidence points to these motifs and elements being adopted into Christianity not as a whole from one source but singularly from many sources, including Mithraism.
Mithra has the following in common with the Jesus character:
- Born on December 25th
- The babe was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger
- Attended to by shepherds
- Later in life had 12 associates
- Identified with both the Lion and the Lamb
- The sacred day is Sunday
There are a few others too.
Mithras’s birth on “Christmas” is evidently based on the Calendar of Filocalus or Philocalian Calendar (c. 354 AD/CE), which mentions that December 25th represents the “Birthday of the Unconquered,” understood to refer to the sun and taken to indicate Mithras as Sol Invictus.
Did Christianity take the December 25th birthday for Jesus from Mithras?
Mithra was the light and power behind the sun.
By the time the Christian hierarchy prevailed in Rome, Mithra had already been a popular cult, with pope, bishops, etc., and its doctrines were well established and widespread, reflecting a certain antiquity.
Mithraism was there first. The initiates of Mithraism, even in the highest ranks, were not professional priests. Their monuments attest that they remained active members of the secular world. There is virtually no evidence for the continuance of the cult of Mithras into the 5th century.
A short film from guilherme.tv
Follow the Light. Always. Never stopping. Life doesn’t get stale. Because we are always moving, following the Light, staying true to the path the student must tread in order to join those who are really the living powers behind the thrones of modern national and international affairs.
In Freemasonry is concealed the mystery of becoming, the answer to the problem of existence, and the path he follows gives him the duty to build and evolve the sacred teachings in his own being. The product of the evolution is the Masonic becoming. Becoming a purified being to unlock the door to the human libraries of consciousness, allowing responsibilities to increase with his opportunities.
The noblest tool of the Mason is his mind, but its value is measured by the use made of it. Thoughtful in all things, the aspiring candidate to divine wisdom attains reality in sincere desire, in meditation, and in silence. Where is the plan behind it all, and who is the planner? The Great Architect. The Great Architect who dwells in the human soul and designs upon the tracing board. His designs yearn to end the unknown. If we wander the pathways of life unaccompanied we might ask for the answer. Where will the truth be found? Why mind, why soul, why spirit, and in truth, why anything? Is there an answer? If truth exists, we have it. If truth is within our reach, what other goal is worth the journey?
Always traveling, to transform the speculative Mason of today into the operative Mason of tomorrow. To blaze forth from the altar of the living flame with the power that makes all things new.