Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Chamber of Reflection in the French Rite

The following is the first installment in a very lengthy piece posted by my friend and brother Victor Guerra on one of his many blogs, in Spanish. Since I tend to post shorter pieces on my blog, and since I have to juggle many items, including other work I am translating, I will be posting this work in a serial form. I hope you all enjoy. 

Please feel free to offer comments and feedback. As part of my long term goal is to provide access to Continental materials which have long been absent in the American literature, feedback will be very helpful.


The Chamber of Reflection and its Symbolic Artifacts
A view from the French or Modern Rite and its contrasts with other rites 
By Victor Guerra.

 Introduction. -
To start it is necessary to indicate something that seems obvious, not all Rites contain the Chamber of Reflection, or at least it is not interpreted in the same way, and that chain as Philippe Langlet explains, is  "from the dark room of the Emulation Rite, the RER preparation chamber, through the Cabinet "type" of the AASR, or the French Rite ".

Its essence is constituted, as the respected Freemason Oswald Wirth explained - and based upon two sets of symbols, "one representing death and the other life ", combined to create the old mythic image of the cave - which at the end of the day " comes to represent a simplified summary of the message that comes from the macabre dances and art from the Middle Ages and plays an important role as an initiation rite. "

Despite being one of the quintessentially Masonic elements to have penetrated the popular consciousness in so-called "Masonic Mysteries", we find that as a symbolic subject, it has not been addressed much, much less within the Modern Rite.

Primarily within the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, we find paradoxically, the chamber has been magnified and so loaded with inks and colors and schools of thought, that the result could said to have ended up defining the "standard model" or image of the Chamber of Reflection, although the inheritance comes from the "modern", the "old" ended up modifying it to tailor it to the needs of the times and fashions.

Do not forget that in the Emulation Rite there is no such Chamber of Reflection, and that the rituals of this rite should "not make the mistake of subjecting the candidate to it". The layman must be placed in a dark and secluded space free of symbols or inscriptions, on the other hand in the York Rite there is provided instructions to create a preparation room, but no further details.

Therefore we can state without fear of contradiction that the Chamber of Reflection found its way to France through the development of the first settlement of Masonry with the creation of the French rite and then underwent a fuller development within the REAA.

This does not mean we can expect to find much information on the Chamber of Reflection in  REAA literature or even of the Masonic initiation ceremony, or on the form in which it develops in much of the popular literature on Masonry. Indeed, there are many references, but they tend to be circular, each referring back to the other. A demonstration of this intellectual scarcity, is that hardly more than a single reference work of any quality exists, that being G. Persigout:  Simbolique du Gabinet Reflection. It is out of print and when it can be found in bookstores can reach as much as 300 euros, although Beresniak has also written a book about it.

What evidence exists on the subject takes the form of many and varied small pieces of work generally intended for Masons to read in Lodge. These generally relate to the symbolic elements. Why do we find a such a large gap in terms of thinking about the presence and development of as significant and unique an element in Masonic ritual as this and silence on the presence of such unique elements as those found in the Chamber of Reflection?

This explains why when scholars and authors like Frau Abrines touch on the issue of the Chamber of Reflection, they do a juggling act. and move on to other topics without giving a precise explanation of the phenomenon, which shows the difficulty that  these authors encounter looking for a logical thread explaining why something that was not present in the primordial English Freemasonry,  and which still does not have a place there, develops through a complex but apparently unobserved process leading to the current Chamber of Reflection, a feature so important in the continental Masonic world.

Moreover, this calls attention to its becoming a major element in the early Mason initiation, yet it is paid so little attention to in the same rituals, and in many cases we are hardly offered more than a slight description or sketch, even though its symbolic forcefulness not otherwise mentioned in the work within the lodge, remains the first contact that the layman has the Masonic endeavor.

This lack at least from a historical point of view does not make much sense, as   Rene Le Moal notes in his introduction to the work of  "Le Cabinet of reflection. simboles Des pour toute une vie" , which was published in the prestigious journal  La Chaine d ' Union,  No. 6 - July-2012.

It was this article which has led me to investigate The Chamber of Reflection in the French Rite, because despite the anger of certain pseudo French brothers by the publication of our work, it seems that the French Masonic world wishes to claim as its own the French or Modern Rite and its different parts, and yet offers little on a topic as innocuous yet as significant as the Chamber of Reflection.

This led me to check its impact on the REAA of the GODF apart to see what its presence in the ritual texts was, and also what might be found in the various publications associated with the GODF, such as the magazine cited above: La Chaine d'Union,  number 6, July 2012 where you can check the weight and substance of the published work, which is mostly related to Escossism.

For that reason through this modest blog, I intend to further investigate the role of the Chamber of Reflection in the Modern French Rite as the French Brothers who practice this ritual do not seem interested in extending their examination and as history suggests  La Chaine d'Union , and apart from other minor works in the lodge collection logiales Paris, collected within the GODF between 1979 and 1989, that seek to patent it, or who seem to see its significance within the corpus of reflections GODF French Masons of the time, and so it will wither, René Le Moal, need not to worry now essentially the question is moot. TO BE CONTINUED...


To see the original in its entirety, in Spanish, click here: http://www.ritofrances.net/2012_07_29_archive.html

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