One of the greatest enigmas of contemporary Freemasonry, the Chamber of Reflection is a little-used aspect in the rituals of a newly made Mason. Yet, the symbolism of the Chamber has roots in Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and other occult traditions.
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In the French and Scottish Rites, a small room adjoining the Lodge, in which, preparatory to initiation, the candidate is enclosed for the purpose of indulging in those serious meditations which its somber appearance and the gloomy emblems with which it is furnished are calculated to produce. It is also used in some of the advanced degrees for a similar purpose. Its employment is very appropriate, for, as Gädicke well observes,
It is only in solitude that we can deeply reflect upon our present or future undertakings, and blackness, darkness, or solitariness, is ever a symbol of death. A man who has undertaken a thing after mature reflection seldom turns back.
Manly P Hall, in his Secret Teachings of All Ages, writes of the use of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – beginning with the word VISITA and reading clockwise, the seven initial letters of the seven words inscribed in the outer circle read: VITRIOL. This is a very simple alchemical enigma but is a reminder that those studying works on Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, and Freemasonry should always be on the lookout for concealed meanings hidden either in Parables and allegories or in cryptic arrangements of numbers, letters, and words.
Brother Stewart: You refer to the Chamber of Reflection as “one of the greatest enigmas of contemporary Freemasonry.” But, how so? What makes it enigmatic? You also wrote that the Chamber of Reflection is a “little-used aspect in the rituals of a newly made Mason.” But that is not true. It is used all the time. Perhaps you meant to say that it is not used in most English-language rituals like the American Rite. Then, you added, “Yet, the symbolism of the Chamber has roots in Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and other occult traditions,” as if those “occult traditions” would cause us to expect it to appear in American Rite rituals. I believe that the Hermetic, Rosicrucian and occult roots of the Chamber of Reflection are precisely the reason the Chamber of Reflection is not included in American Rite Freemasonry – right or wrong. Don’t you agree?
My question is, is the CofR different for each BL degree or should we leave it the same always.