Having gone through his ordeal, the newly obl . . d Initiate finds that all of a sudden he has emerged out of a world of shadows into a bright and beautiful one in which everything is more or less symbolic and full of meaning. He is asked to assume the perfectly erect posture and to take certain steps; and although this is somewhat puzzling, he feels sure he will presently understand what it is done for.
He is only at the starting point of his career, but already he resembles the Alpine climber portrayed by Longfellow, who has set out on his toilsome up-hill journey, holding in his grasp A banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
For, like that charming character, he is pressing forward and tenaciously after his Ideal, resolved  at all costs to brave all dangers and difficulties "with a firm but humble confidence" - even unto death! And he has been told that, like the man of the poem, he must scale the very heavens; to enable him to do which he has at his disposal a certain mystic Ladder which is "composed of many staves or rounds, but three principal ones."
The figures of speech used in the Ritual are most graphic illustrations of the reality, the actual fact. Thus, for instance, the light of Reason is symbolized as dawning in man, first of all, as "a glimmering ray." But we learn to trace it from its development, stage by stage, at times somewhat laboriously, until at length, assisted by our mystic arts, we are led up to the source of all intelligence, "even to the Throne of God Himself."
These figures of speech may be quaint, but they are by no means new-fangled, for they have been handed down from very remote times. And we know how inspiring, invigorating, and uplifting they can be to us!
The new-made Brother is represented as standing on the outer edge, that is, on the circumference of the mystic circle, and therefore to him we speak of " the Border as distinct  from "the Pavement." While there, the Initiate finds himself in a sort of twilight, the dimness of which compels him at times to grope his way. For most certainly we do not show every part of the Lodge at once; but he finds them out in course of time. In Masonry, as in nature, it is impossible to absorb all knowledge by one single sudden flash of the light. We lay claim to all the stores of wisdom that our Ancient Brethren have accumulated by their labor, but in order to assimilate them, there must be much patient study and research on our part.
Some things may appear to us as out of their true perspective, out of line, and perhaps distorted. Some may seem exaggerations, others under-statements. But the Mason loses nothing by having things pointed out to him separately, in gradual order, with a strong emphasis, either to magnify or minimize; indeed, he is all the more impressed; and he realizes all the more the did active value of our way of expressing things by symbols and figures of speech. Eventually he will feel that everything we told him, though couched in strange language, was intensely real.
But what is this center, this summit, this  goal of our aspirations? Where is it that it all ends? It is referred to as "an ethereal mansion." And this seems to be identical with the "Mount Heredom" mentioned in an old Masonic legend of the Middle Ages. This Mystic name has been traced to Kilwinning, but the conception is found also in Rosicrucian documents, which speak of it as the " Mountain of Initiation," and as Mons Magorum Invisibilis, "The Invisible Mount of the Magi."
"Heredom" has been explained as a compound of the Greek Hieros and Domus, thus making it mean "Holy House," but this can only be put forth as a homonym, scarcely as a serious derivation; the Masons of former times were very much addicted to thus playing with etymology. As a matter of fact, Heredom is Hebrew, not Greek.
In the account of K.S.T. which we have in the V. of the S.L., there is a reference to "the Chief of Solomon's Officers," and while the Hebrew Chronicler (II. viii. 10) calls these Officers Menatschin, in the Book of Kings they are called Harodim (I. v. 16). In our Third Ceremony the former term is defined as meaning "prefects or overseers." But the mediaeval  Masons seem to have preferred the name Herodim, which word means simply "they that bear rule." And in consequence we may still find it used in some of the higher Degrees.
Waite makes the following cautious observation: "It is admitted that some kind of Masonic Order or Degree subsisted under the name of Harodim in the Northern part of England during the latter part of the seventeenth century, but that there is no information extant as to its nature."
But it is a fact that a Masonic Lodge was established at Winlaton in 1690 under the name of Highrodiam, which afterwards removed to Swalwell, and on 21st March 1735 it came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of London. According to Yarker, there were at that date two Master Grades, viz., that of English Master and that of "Highrodiam," the latter being conferred in a Grand Lodge.
Fragmentary as this information is, it suggests that the name was used by the Mediaeval Masons in reference to a superior order of speculative Craftsmen whose aim was to rear a spiritual rather than a material Temple, although many of them might also belong to the operative building trade. Our kinship with these men may be proved by the character of our Third Ceremony, which is unquestionably " the foundation and keystone of the whole speculative edifice." For, as Waite has put it, the M.M.'s Degree "is not only of the Hermetic Schools, but of the Schools thereunto antecedent." Indeed, it can be conclusively shown that the said Degree pre-supposes amore fully developed Kabbalism than has as yet been discovered among the adepts of the Hermetic Art in any part of Europe.
In the meantime we must not lose sight of
the fact that the Harodim were the same as the Menatschin, Craftsmen
"of that superior class appointed to preside over the rest."
They were considered eligible for the secrets of the Third Degree
after they had shown "patience and industry."
Back to The Apocalypse Of Freemasonry [ Previous ] [ Next ]