Here we intend to give a consistent scheme of interpretation that will enable us to trace our connection with the past and vindicate the claim to antiquity which the Fraternity makes, and has always made for itself. Our aim is constructive, not destructive; to build up, not to pull down; to explain and harmonies, not to find fault and discredit.
The Masonic Ritual calls for most careful treatment. There is need of discrimination, because words are often used in different senses. We may note, too, that things are presented in different aspects, and therefore there is great danger of misapprehending what is said about them, thereby falling into confusion. For instance, we may distinguish at least seven different aspects of the Freemason's Lodge; we shall enumerate these as briefly as we can:
(1) There is, first of all, the actual, material, tangible but symbolic edifice where we meet  for the purposes of Freemasonry, as when we speak of " modest and correct demeanor in the Lodge," or when we say, " Should you, about to visit a Lodge, etc."
(2) Then there is the mystic Lodge which we imagine as the counterpart of K.S.T., the conception which makes the W.M. say: " I as M. of this Lodge, and thereby the representative of K.S." At his Installation he is made to occupy the chair of K.S. Among the students of the occult during the Middle Ages this conception was much in vogue. And it is also worth noting that all the Ancient Mysteries were associated with some Temple, the distinctive cult of which they promoted in a general sort of way, as syncretists that they were.
(3) Occasionally "the Lodge" becomes but another name for the Fraternity itself, which is compared to a Building. Thus when a man is newly admitted he is said to " figuratively represent " a stone in that Building. We all have been built into that same Building as so many stones. In the Ceremony of Installation the idea occurs again when we speak of " Consecrating this our mansion," which means, of course, the Fraternity.
 (4) There is also the wider thought of a universal mystic Temple which has been in process of construction from the beginning of the world. The Knight Templars were credited with the design of re-building Zion, but the Mystics of all ages have aimed at something better than stone and mortar; and it is this which we conceive as being erected on " holy ground." The dimensions which the Ritual gives to "the Lodge" pre-suppose some such conception.
(5) Then, the Lodge is also a counterpart of the material Universe, God Himself being its Architect and Ruler. Our Ancient Brethren had this idea suggested to them by the number of planets, which was seven, the number of a perfect Lodge. Note that the real "Master" of his Lodge is Master of both Sun and Moon, for we tell the Initiate that " The Master is to rule and direct this Lodge," i.e. the Universe. In that particular instance " the Sun " is the Setting Sun, the S.W. at the W.; the Master, however, is always at the E.
(6) Again, we find an astral or astronomical Lodge "emblematically depicted " on the First T.B., which we refer to a group of Seven Stars in the Midnight Sky well known to our  Ancient Brethren. This has not to be confused with the preceding; we shall have occasion to refer to this symbol in extenso in another place.
(7) In at least one passage there is the mention of the " G.L. above " to which we shall all be summoned some day. This is something altogether divine, for it is described as, "figuratively speaking, an ethereal mansion veiled from mortal eyes by the starry firmament," and as " a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
But, generally speaking, our Lodge, like the Temple itself, is a type of manifestation. It is in this way that the V. of the S.L. is stated to be "the spiritual T.B. of the G.A.O.T.U." The Most High Himself is the Lodge, that is, the Home of the Soul, and all the various conceptions of which we have taken note are but so many adumbrations of this one central fact.
In that great store-house of Jewish mysticism, the Sepher ha Zohar, or " Book of Splendor," K.S.T. is spiritualized and treated as " a House of Doctrine " rather than as material fabric. It is said to have been erected by the Regent of the Secret Tradition in Israel; it is conceived as standing in the world's center and as  having a Sanctuary - the Sanctum Sanctorum - which is mystically speaking the Heart of the World.
All this corresponds exactly with the Masonic conception, for K.S.T. is actually declared to have been "the First Lodge," and in thus describing it we mean that the Temple was the embodiment of our mystic philosophy, everything in it being symbolic of our ideas, and reflecting our light. It is on this account that the Freemason's Lodge is said to stand on holy ground.
The way the Degrees dovetail into each other is truly admirable. At each successive stage the Candidate seems to be well satisfied with what he sees and hears, and if we did not warn him that there are other Degrees in Freemasonry he probably would not expect anything more. This is because at each Degree he receives what the Craft has to give him; the "allowance" of necessaries of life made to the E.A.; the "wages in specie" paid to the F.C., which he will have to administer; or the share due to the M.M. and Companion, as the case may be.
But we may note that the Candidate is also
granted anticipations of better things bringing  him into
touch with later stages. For the moment he may be pleased with
the dim outline and the half-truths by which his mind is being
prepared, but eventually he discovers the true nature of those
foreshadowings, and his horizon is enlarged. The important thing
is that our attention should be fixed on the essentials of the
Ritual, that is, on what is known as "the ancient landmarks
of the Order"; they guide him in his progress.
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