Page 4 - MFMJan 2016
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Greetings from the Grand East

     Brian J. Murphy, Grand Master

  During these dark hours of                                        ride, flying mightily across the sky
Solstice’s extended nights and short                                on his eight-legged steed, Sleipnir,
days, I dig through the files of my                                 to vanquish the weak.
mind in search of a particular,
consciously-taken, mental snapshot                                    Life is permeated with fear.
of the longest day of the year, back                                Contrastingly, when confronted
in June; when the temperatures were                                 with uncertainty and the tangibility
in the mid 90s; when I donned shorts                                of death, humankind celebrates life
and flipflops; sweat-soaked after                                   by partying like there is literally
having just mowed the yard for the                                  no tomorrow. Eat, drink and be
fourth time; days when the whole spectrum of          merry, for tomorrow we may die. Festivals of
Nature was in full glory and the very air ripe and    Light, as old as culture, evolved into traditions
blooming with its fragrances. If I concentrate, I     worldwide: Santa Lucia in Sweden, the Lighting
can almost smell freshly mown grass and hear          of Advent Candles in France, St. Martin’s in
bees.                                                 Holland, Thailand has Loi Krathong, Chinese
                                                      New Year in January, Hanukkah, Diwali in India,
  Now, as I stand bone-tired and aching with          to name but a few. Back as far as 217 BC, the
frosted breath amidst waist-deep piles of newly       Romans celebrated around the Winter Solstice
shoveled show, I pause with purpose and intent        with a festival they called Saturnalia in honor of
to gaze and reflect upon the perfect wonder           the God Saturn. This migrated North where the
of Winter deep. In my mind, I take another            Nordics shaped Yuletide.
snapshot to capture the muffled, pristinely
billowed landscape, with its heavily blanketed          Light can not be taken lightly. For primitive
pines; soft pillowed shrubbery festooned with         man, the absence of light, by impairing his
muted Holiday lights; and the protruding, frozen      ability to see, seemed to plunge the world
skeletons of barren perennial stems. In turn,         into nothingness. Thus, even from the earliest
retrieved from the memory vault, I will recollect     times, we find darkness, as the negation of light,
this Winter portrait next Summer, on Solstice, in     regarded as a cause of fear and, therefore, of
June, and gleam in the course of doing so.            evil. The Ancient Mysteries, which coexisted
                                                      with and underlay the conventional religions
  Abandoned by our sun, we hibernate and appeal       of those far-off times, developed the idea of
for its return. For millennia, this time of year      Light as a symbol of Knowledge and Truth.
has been primarily associated with one thing…         Thus we find that they all regarded its opposite
fear. Picture yourself thousands of years ago in      as representative of Ignorance and Error. It is in
Northern Europe. There are four seasons. And          this form that Freemasonry, the heiress of all the
of those, you are afraid of only one… Winter.         Systems of Initiation, has received the concept.
Spring provides opportunities to plant and grow;      The Light of a Master Mason is Darkness
Summer is abundant; a bountiful harvest occurs        Visible. If he can see the effects of malice,
in Fall, wherein you are able to hunt, gather and     envy and self-seeking, the corroding influence
store. But Winter is focused on one thing only…       of prejudice and intolerance, if his search for
survival. The triggering event is Solstice. The       the Lost word serves increasingly to show how
low sun hugs the horizon, providing little light.     much he, himself, still has to learn, he will retain
There is real fear that it may not return. Will your  his enlightenment. He will also augment it and
food cache last? The screaming wind causes you        regenerate himself anew.
to tremble with the thought that your god, Odin,
accompanied by his wolves, is on his annual

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