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Mysticism and Ritual


Can we reconcile these two realities? Some thoughts on Mysticism of the Royal Arch
Speech given at the Supreme Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch of Italy on November 17th, 2007 by the First Grand Principal 
Most Excellent Companion Fabio Venzi

"If the universe is not involved in a metaphysical adventure, everything is trivial"
Nicolàs Gòmez Dàvila


We have repeatedly said that in the Royal Arch ritual it is possible to detect many components that have much to do with the mystical world. The Mystical field is definitely delicate and any assessment must be made very carefully. We can begin to get closer to this reality so distant from modern humans starting with some simple observations. Thereafter we will develop our thoughts going deeper into this matter. Mystical derives from the Latin "mysticus" which comes from the greek " Mystikòs ", and refers to the ceremonies of the mystery religions in which the initiate experienced the dying and resurrection process of the god to whom the cult was referring to. It is obviously a sphere of reality different from that accessible to ordinary, measurable and scientific knowledge, and therefore considered non-existent by whom, with positivistic approach, deny everything that is not subject to pure reason. According to mysticism, faith is the possibility to approach God on the base of intuition or divine revelation, as opposed to the senses and reason, assuming that there is “another” reality behind the world of appearances, which can be understood only through an intuitive process.

Another important distinction is that one concerning the division of secular and religious mysticism, the first one leads to transcendental experience, the experience of the "mystery", outside the religious field, the other one, on the contrary, approaches to the experience through the "mystery" of the faith dictates and above all of a religious institution.

After saying that, it is immediately obvious a question: If Freemasonry is symbolic, in the etymological sense of the term, because the symbol gathers, how can you find in it a mystical component, in this case the Royal Arch, as we said Mysticism does not provide any mediation? What is the relationship between the inner path of Mysticism and the obviously exterior forms of the ritual?

Let's start first by saying that the Royal Arch Freemasonry is not a mystical experience per se, but certainly a mystical connotation is present in the path proposed through the ritual, a progression never completed, where even if the companion will get lost during his path of knowledge, it will contribute to his progress. The only necessary condition is to abandon the secular approach to the world and set off toward the pure interiority.

In the ritual of the Royal Arch in fact, it can be observed an evolution of the three-degree ritual, a transformation toward a more transcendent dimension, marked by the search for internal unity.

In addition, in a mystical path what we should develop is our openness to experience, taking consciousness of what we feel emotionally and physically when we are in the presence of external reality. It is the ability to perceive what is really happening inside us and, as we will progress along this path, our ability to open ourselves to experience will increase: a transcendent path so that if it is faced with a real understanding of its deep meaning, it can help us to know truly our soul.
On the basis of what has been said about the mystical component in the ritual of the Royal Arch, and its undeniable esoteric and Theist connotation, we reiterate if proof were needed, the obvious wickedness of all the arguments that see the Masonic thought as a child of the Enlightenment culture and philosophy. In fact it is inevitably the atheism the concluding end that the Enlightenment rationalism must reach, the sworn enemy of the esoteric approach, a kind of rationalism that ignores the limits of reason itself, and finally ends by denying the Transcendence.

When we talk about Mysticism we immediately face with a choice because there two opposing paths: a "western path" to the Mysticism and an "oriental" one. In the first one the relationship with the transcendent is obtained through the ecstasy, that is being outside of oneself. According to the oriental path, the union with the divine is through a return to oneself, the entasis: an exclusive union, in both cases, where nothing must come between us and God and where no mediation must be present.