Masonic View of Time

Masonic View of Time – Stated Meeting Short Talk

Alan Gatlin, Orator

Novus Veteris Lodge, #864

June 9, 2018

The concept of how man views the passage of time has changed through the millennia. Over the course of history we have seen the evolution of the concept of time and its relationship to history from chaotic where history has no path and both time & history are disconnected, to cyclical time where the ancients linked natural cycles of planetary events and history related to cycles of human activity, to linear where time and history have a unique and usually progressive story with an absolute beginning and an absolute end. Today we will review these conflicting viewpoints and how we might understand Masonry from a perspective that we can use today to square our actions in the days, weeks, months and years that lie ahead of us. At the end of this presentation, you will have an opportunity to discuss this view and how it may impact your worldview and personal actions.

As a reminder, the study of esoteric perspectives is not covered in our Masonic code and tonight’s lecture does not represent any “official” viewpoint only that of the speaker. Esoteric studies deal with such topics that many call mysteries and how one understands the time and personal actions represent one of the foundations of that work. Remember that your opinion is as valid and worthwhile as mine and you are encouraged to examine tonight’s content and measure any “truth” that may be applicable for you using the working tools of your Degree.

So let’s begin. Does history repeat itself or are time and events separate paths that we walk throughout our lives? Let’s consider the California drought. We are in the 1st year of marginal rain, after 1 good year and 8 previous “poor” rain years. and snow but in the 9th Century, tree ring evidence shows a dry period lasting 183 years and then 10 years later another 200 years! Right now, we may be on track to see the longest drought since 1583 if this lack of rain lasts another 4 years but is our current weather we are experiencing a repeat of the past or totally unrelated to previous historical events and is drought predictable? Another case; Arizona real estate values have been on a 7 to 10-year economic cycle of “boom and bust” since before World War 2. Is this real estate “swing” a series of disconnected events or part of a “historic” trend that is “predictable”? How you answer these questions can determine your view of time and how time is or is not connected to history and if you can act on events that have not yet occurred but have happened in the past. Also, remember that none of these viewpoints of time we will cover are “pure” and each has elements of the others that bled and weave together like a wave in the sea.

We tend to view the relationship between time and history in one of three ways:

Chaotic Time – This would be classified as the perspective of primitive man that lived a life filled with threats and terrors we can scarcely imagine today. Wild animals, disease, the environment, and other human forms competed for existence and often restricted natural resources. Each individual acted for themselves and, at times, for their immediate family unit. Life was short & hard from an outside perspective and while we cannot know their thoughts and have no narratives as to the life these people experienced, the records show that life was short and death often met from a violent end. The practical shortcoming of chaotic time is that there are no societal bounds, no connection to the past and little hope for the future. Life and events were “random” reflecting nothing more than how interactions unfolded. This triad of lacking social bonds, connection to previous generations/experience, and little hope are the reasons that no society has given more than a limited endorsement to this concept.

Cyclical Time – When man made a link between natural cycles of the planetary system (diurnal rotations, lunar months, solar years and zodiacal precessions (hence the designation of astrology as one of the classical disciplines rather than astronomy) with the related cycles of human activity (sleeping, waking, gestating, birthing, planting, harvesting, hunting, and feasting). Unlike chaotic time, cyclical time endowed classical societies with a prescribed moral dimension, a measure by which each generation could compare its behavior with its ancestors.  Rights and rituals were given “by the gods” and man was reenacting these “morality plays” tied to the passage of various cycles, to exemplify behavior of the society and the place of the individual in that plan. One person “knew” what their responsibilities were and how they “fit” into the bigger plan. The monuments of the Pyramids, Stone Circles, and other edifices were erected to alien with solar, lunar, and other celestial events. Life revolved around these times to plant, harvest, procreate and die with a “time and place under heaven”

Linear Time – is the third option, a story with an absolute beginning, middle, and end. The monotheism of the Persian, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic cosmologies all embraced the radically new concept of personal and historic time as a unidirectional model independent from the world lived in. The establishment of European settlements in the Americas reflects the extreme expression of progressive linearism. The European explorers saw the Americas as the New Atlantis, El Dorado, or Utopia with the focus to “start again fresh” and remake society to the “end of history”. The end result of this progression of a linear view of time has been a reshaping of Western and especially American civilization.  Before, at the height of cyclical time, people valued patience, ritual, the relationship of part to the whole, and the healing power of time within nature. Passages and ceremonies existed to reflect change and recognition of the individual from birth to death. Today what do we value? Haste, iconoclasm, the disintegration of the whole into parts, and the power of time outside of nature. Young people express, as do many adults, a sense of “lose of place and value” The disconnection from place can also have an expectation that things are only getting better or conversely worse on a trend with the only end being the end of this earth. Not a very optimistic setting. The repression of nonlinear studies has also occurred. These represent issues of alchemy, astrology, and other “sciences” that are probably not what you think or have been told in the past.

There is also another way of framing these three views of time.  It is to look at the position of the individual in the world. In chaotic time man is below nature, in cyclical time man is an equal partner with nature, and in linear time man places himself above nature. The consequences of each can also be compared to the ideals of survival, symbiosis, and domination. Compare this with how we as Mason’s perceive and act on the position of the individual in respect to nature, each other, and ourselves (Obligation & Lecture of the 1st Degree).

Here are a few questions to consider: Are we beneath, a part, or above the natural cycle and history of the past and how we relate to each other?  At the close of a Lodge, how are we instructed to meet, act, and part? How could you apply the concepts represented by the Square and Compass to the view of time and our position under the “whole canopy of heaven”? Symbolism is the basis of the “mysteries” of Free Masonry. The personal exploration of these aspects and using the Book of Sacred Law as a guide can take us on a journey that we can use to understand ourselves and how we relate to others and our worlds we are a part of.


Part 2 – The Symbology of the First Degree

Part 2 – The Symbology of the 1st Degree
Novus Veteris Lodge #864
Alan Gatlin, Orator

Familiarity is not always our friend when it comes to “seeing” (SLIDE 2) the deeper meanings in the world around us or even with ourselves. While we are appropriately encouraged to experience the Degree work in the Lodge, how often do we enter into our Lodge room unencumbered from the distraction of the part we are playing or from the general disturbances of life? Other lectures have discussed how the opening of a Lodge (SLIDE 3) creates a sacred space where we are invited to escape those outside intrusions that would take us away from experiencing the moment at hand. We can overcome these distractions and encumbrances by reminding ourselves that for these few minutes that the Lodge is open we are given a respite from the cares of the world and invited to dwell in the Light that Masonry offers (SLIDE 4).

One of the themes of the 1st Degree is the introduction to the candidate and invitation to dwell in Masonic Light. He is prepared to receive, for the first time Light, not just from the opening of his eyes, but also from the opening of his mind to all that is around him. It has been mentioned before, this is again, our invitation to renew our commitment to also receive the Light offered by Masonry along with the candidate.

The explanation of the working tools of this degree is one of the initial steps in this formative process. What our ancient brethren understood and that we have only again re-discovered is that Light has mass and the ability to alter and change matter that is exposed to it as exemplified by a laser (SLIDE 5). A laser is a light of one color focused and amplified to produce a beam that is both intense and powerful, able to cut, weld, and even vaporize that which it meets, even stone. It may even be said that this level of intensity also has the ability to purify as well as destroy. Light has a dual existence of both a wave and particle, often at the same time making it a versatile and complex form and a tool in itself. Exposing ourselves to the Light of Masonry CAN change us, purifying and/or destroying those parts of our being that are not conducive or are counterproductive to our being a better man. This Light is presented symbolically and is connected to the first working tool presented to the candidate, the common gavel (SLIDE 6). Per our instruction, the gavel (Light) chips away the rough and superfluous parts of the stone of our heart and mind much as the gavel does the same to the mason’s stone (SLIDE 7). While this association between the effects of the application of Light and the use of the gavel is not directly made, the implication is one of the first for the new Mason to consider and meditate upon. As each tool is added, the complexity of and application using the tools becomes more layered with subtle tenders and meaning that will take more than this lifetime to explore.

The next working tool is an example of this multilayered approach, the 24-inch gage (SLIDE 8). While our direct teaching is that this is an instrument used by operative masons to measure and lay out their work, while we as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to make use of it for a more noble and glorious purpose of dividing our time. We are further instructed to make use of our time in 3 divisions. One for our service to Deity and a distressed worthy brother, a part for our usual vocations, and the last for refreshment and repose. My brothers, I hope you have had better success with this division of time than I have! The term “Life Balance” (SLIDE 9) has been one of the keynotes of modern management and psychology yet it something Ithat is seemingly possible for the majority of men during their working lives to find. Even when we were more an agrarian based society, the farmer worked until the tasks were completed, especially during times of planting and harvest. We then are faced with the remake of this aspired goal of Life Balance into a Life Compromise. When we cannot consciously obtain balance, then we can choose to allocate our time in accordance with a plan that has intentional periods of focus on one of these three areas with a corresponding fall back to restore that balance. If work “demands” more than the allocated period to the loss of family time, then a refocus on family must occur at some point to bring back balance and harmony. The failure in balances comes when we react, unaware of the consequences of seeking the overall balance, and fall into sickness from exhaustion, poor performance at work from lack of dedicated time, or personal failure to perform our service to Deity or our Brothers. When taken as a whole, be it a day or week, month, year, or lifetime; how have we or will we “balance out” and reconcile one of the only shared currency we all have, our time? The gage reminds us and provides the measure to act in a way different than the world around us. While modern psychology has “rediscovered” the need for balance in life, ancient masons understood this need and were called to practice these areas into a balanced, productive and satisfying life.

Another point of note is that the 24-hour day was divided into three segments. Again per Mackey, the number three (SLIDE 10) was significant in most societies of the ancient world. The Chinese said that the numbers begin at 1 and are made perfect at 3, and hence denote the multiplicity of any object by repeating the character which stands for it three times (a reference to our 3×3 clap?) Pythagoreans called it the perfect harmony. In Plato it represented the image of the Supreme Being. Within Masonry how many “3” do we find? It ranges from the Greater and Lesser Lights, The Steps, The Pillars and many more. A division of three is deeply embedded into our Masonic belief systems and when taken together denotes a call to balance.

Delving deeper into these divisions of the gage, Mackey reminds us that the number 8, the division of each of the three sections, was esteemed as the first cube (SIDE 11). Being formed by 2x2x2 and was held sacred by the Pythagoreans and signified friendship, prudence, counsel, and justice. Are these attributes also not one of the basic themes of a balanced life? It also was made to represent the primitive law of nature which supposes the equality of all men, another tenant of Masonry.

There is another consideration that we should examine. While the gage represents a linear perspective, we also practice Masonry in a circular perspective. The Rite of Circumambulation (SLIDE 12) is in itself an area of study and deeper meaning. One aspect of this is the position of the Three Pillars forming an equilateral triangle, each with an angle of 60 degrees or what is known as a sextile (SLIDE 13) when taken in aspect. The candidate then rotates through each of these stations much as the planets rotate around the sun forming additional angles and aspects along the way. But there is one general division I wish to focus; that of a trine. When we view the 360 degrees of a circle as a whole and divide it into 3 segments we are presented with 3 equal divisions of 120 degrees each which in aspect is known as a trine. The Sextile and Trine are both considered positive and benevolent with the Trine one of the most powerful.

The classical astrological meaning of a trine (SLIDE 14) is that where the powers involved are in harmony, such that they stimulate one another to increased activity and mutual success. Hence, both sides of the trine are enriched by the aspect(s) between them. The closer the trine is to 120°, the stronger the aspect is, and the more it enhances the planets involved for the positive. The Master representing the Sun (SLIDE 15) is our basic drive and strength, our masculine nature. The Senior Warden represents the Moon (SLIDE 16) and our longing and feminine nature, While the (SLIDE 17) Junior Warden is our curiosity and messaging. Consider those role using these attributes. The agreement to who can best serve and best agree between the Pillars is a key component of a successful and meaningful Lodge. As well, this application is really no different when we examine the 3 aspects or divisions of our own lives and how we spend the currency of our time. Overall harmony is not achieved when our three segments are out of this 120-degree overall alignment. How we act, counterbalance, and position our existence determines the direction of this universal alignment and our road to a happier and more productive life.

On each visit to the Lodge, I urge you to accept the challenge to make these minutes together a sacred time and place. Open your eyes and heart to the symbolic representations that make up our Masonic Work (SLIDE 18). And finally, renew those sacred obligations we each made at the altar to become that Man and Mason we desire.

Freemasonry As a Life’s Journey – Part 1

Freemasonry As a Life’s Journey – Part 1 The EA Candidate Enters the Lodge Room
Presentation to Novus Veretis Lodge, #864 January 20, 2018
Alan Gatlin

I appreciate the opportunity to again share with you some ideas about our Fraternity and its application to our daily life. In an earlier presentation we discussed the possibility of how our lives and the external world are interrelated. I understand that some may be skeptical of these associations and rightfully so. Each man here has a responsibility to weigh the information and evaluate for themselves the truth that is or is not present based on their life’s experiences. The “life” of our group is this process of determination of how we will or will not apply what we hear into our personal practice. A quote from Stephen Hoeller in the “The Gnostic Jung”  frames this well when he says “The danger of all systems is that they tend to mistake the words which serve as pointers for the realities at which they point!”  I view Masonry as a system to which guides the practice of my life and hold myself accountable to each day. Some days I meet the mark and others I do not. The Volume of the Sacred Law says it best” Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I would like us to consider the 3 Degrees of Masonry as a life path that takes us from birth in this plane of existence to our passage into the next. A further theme is that we do not “avoid” life but pass through and persevere with greater strength and triumph in this process. Again, from the Volume of the Sacred Law, “…even though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil” This does NOT say we will or can avoid hardship or life in general, but that that we walk into & through our life, with all of its positive and negative aspects. The precepts of Masonry are for me, the roadmap to life.  In this process we can find happiness and contentment knowing that we are on a sacred journey that is ours to live, move, and have our being.

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Convergence of Forces

Convergence of Forces
Novis Veteris Lodge, #864
Alan Gatlin, Orator
November 18, 2017
Short-Short Talk


We have had a periodic association of gravitational and electromagnetic energy focus this week with the Moon entering Sagittarius this morning at 3:42 am and the Sun entering that same sign at 7:05 pm on Tuesday November 21. While the Moon has a rotational cycle of less than a month, we see this convergence of gravitational, Moon, and electromagnetic forces, the Sun occurring on a somewhat irregular basis. Earlier talks have discussed the potential influences these external forces have on both individuals and groups, but other factors have been developing adding to the significance of these times.  The Sun Spot Cycle of minimum and maximum number of Sun Spots has historically run an 11.8-year Cycle since tracking began in 1755. We are now heading to the low of Cycle 24 which is currently predicted to extend into 2019. During these period of low Sun Spots, energy emissions from the Sun are reduced and reflect a number of associated weather, radio transmission, and other affects. A later talk will delve more into how Sun Spots have impacted our World at large, but something additional is occurring with the Sun. In the past 6 months a large number of very intense Solar Flares have erupted toward the Earth unevenly charging our upper atmosphere leading to disruptions of communication and electrical systems. Extremes in weather conditions also have occurred during these high intensity events that coincide with periods of low Sun Spot activity. Social unrest and acts of violence also have occurred during these times which is well evidenced in the number of mass shootings in the recent past. General irritability is another common sign seen when these events occur. Now more than ever is the time for Men and Masons to be aware and in control of our own actions and activities if we are to rise above the external influences around us. One way of taking control is using the period of the New Moon to again, look forward, plan and be aware of the month ahead. The symbolism associated with the Moon entering Sagittarius represents idealistic thoughts, feelings, and tendencies for adventure. This is an excellent time for self-renewal efforts, learning and promotion of new ideas. Examination of those forces and situations that have held you back to see what change is right for your life. The influence of the Sun entering this same sign symbolically represents the achievement, truth, practicality, and self-assurance. Taking time today to reflect and journal on these thoughts can have a significant impact on minimizing the external influence and moving in the direction you want rather than being pulled by the tides and waves of other influences.  The Volume of the Sacred Law tells us that darkness is cast out in the presence of Light. Be that Light to impact the world around you and govern your own actions.

A Masonic Hierarchy

A Short Talk
“A Masonic Hierarchy”
Presented at Novus Veteris Lodge, #864
By Alan Gatlin
October 21, 2017


Worshipful Inspector Handell made a presentation to the Scottish Rite at the October 2017 Stated Meeting regarding the effect on our world with both the absence of Masonry and if the precepts of Freemasonry were Universally adopted by mankind.  The practice of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth is a powerful element of change in both an individual’s life and that of the Society he is a part of.  The absence of these virtues throws the individual, or the society, further into selfishness, greed, and lies and some would say that this represents where we find too many members of our world and its leadership at today. This delicate balance between virtue and evil has always been present but if one watches the evening newscasts, podcasts, or other media as a percentage of the time taken, the dark elements seem to have sway at this stage in this cycle of our history.  How can we then, as Masons make “good men better” and practice what we agree upon is our obligation that of planting the seeds of individual and our society’s change?

This presentation is a look at how we can both challenge and examine ourselves against a standard that is consistent with whom we say we are as Masons and provide a path for continued improvement.  Much as the butterfly effect, as we change so does the world around us change in meaningful ways! The symbol used to reflect this process  or hierarchy of change will be based on a geometric form you are all familiar with from school, an isosceles triangle which can also could be viewed as a two dimensional pyramid. It is interesting that when discussing hierarchies that this from is most often used; a triangle with 2 sides of equal length coming to a point. If we subdivide this form with parallel lines we can view the lowest level as a foundation with subsequent layers being dependent on the lower for support and strength. Let us then divide this from into three sections that represent our Masonic journey. Starting with the top layer we have our “Secrets”. The second layer our “Mysteries” and the third layer and base would be our “Life’s Journey.”

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What Size is Your Compass and is your Square Keeping Up

What Size is Your Compass and is your Square Keeping Up?
Short Talk July 8, 2017
Novus Veteris Lodge, UD

Today we will briefly examine two components of the Greater Lights, the Square and the Compass and how these can play an important part of our lives as Masons from a different perspective. We will also review the next sign of the Zodiac, Leo and how this formation relates to the symbolism of the Lodge and our life’s struggle with balance.

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Short Talk – 17 June

Short Talk – June 17, 2017
Novus Veteris Lodge U.˙. D.˙.
Alan Gatlin, Orator

Today’s short talk will cover the two sources of energy that commonly affect the Earth. Asking the question of whether these “events” also affect individuals and groups of people. We also will address how these energies relate to our Masonic symbology and the process of becoming better men and Masons. Lastly, we will also briefly review the new month sign of Cancer and its association with the Moon. Let us then begin the exploration

Our ancient brethren were aware of many astrological and physical “truths” that are now only coming to light again in our modern age. One of these areas relates to the place and effects of our world at large and the universe we inhabit! The prime example of this comes from the effect and impact from the two “types” of energy we experience on a daily basis; electromagnetic and gravitational. It has only been in the last few years that gravitational waves have been confirmed though theorized within the realm of quantum physics. We are only now beginning to understand how these “wave/particles” have their impact. We see the effects of these gradational events with the movement of the tides, creation of solar flares and sun spots with more being discovered.

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Approaches to Knowledge and the Question of Truth

Approaches to Knowledge and the Question of Truth
Short Talk
Novus Veteris Lodge – May 13 , 2017
Alan Gatlin, Orator

We have today reached the point world-wide where man seems to know everything and understand nothing! – Stephen Arryo

Stephen Arryo is a psychotherapist in Orange County who has written several books discussing the nature of symbols and their relationship to how people and societies behave. While not reported to be a Mason, the ideal’s he purports are consistent with many of the issues and questions we face as a Masonic body in today’s world. The short talk today will briefly discuss the issues raised by the words “truth & knowledge” and how we can move beyond the narrow perspective that permeates many in their world view. We will also briefly cover the symbolism related to the astral formation of Gemini and how that relates to the Lodge and its officers.

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The Recurring Cycles of Life

The Recurring Cycles of Life & Brief Overview of Symbolic Taurus
Short Talk 15 April 2017
Novus Veteris Lodge U.˙. D.˙.

The concept of life being a series of cycles is something that appears throughout nature. A question that is often raised is does what we see around us in nature, also apply in our personal and corporate lives? This short talk will review some of these questions and interesting correlations for the individual Mason to consider. Add to this will be a brief overview of the symbolic nature represented by the celestial formation known as Taurus As always these are points of consideration and discussion for each Mason to assist in improving themselves and evaluating the future.

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Back to Our Basic Symbols

By: J. Alan Gatlin
Delivered: 3/27/2017 – 381 & Novus Veteris Joint Education Night

It has been said in some Masonic circles that symbolism can be carried too far and can be divisive among the Brethren. This may be a valid point when taken outside of historic contexts and the universe around us. We are fortunate in Freemasonry as we possess a body of ritualistic work which defines many of our symbols in at least one way. This allows us to look at our symbols in two distinct perspectives, the first being in the way our teachings say and secondly using the historic perspective of past societies and ancient groups who used the same symbol in a more universal context, universal symbolism. The similarity between these perspectives is often very close but the range of meanings in the outside world is frequently much broader and can add to the depth of our Masonic experience.

When a new Mason asks the question about our symbols, “what is that?” or “what does that mean?” how can we answer clearly? Are these ‘old’ symbols that really have no meaning in our modern world? If this is the case, then I believe we are in very serious trouble within our Lodges. A review of the Charge in our installations very clearly states that “…it inculcates principles of the purest morality, though veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” We are also told in the same Charge that to penetrate through the veil of the allegories and symbols is to understand the mysteries. While there is a far deeper meaning in the overall pattern of the Craft, it is of great value to find deeper meanings of the individual symbols and to attempt to recall that understanding on each occasion that we see them. This reinforces the ‘repetition’ form of learning that begins to modify our life experience to become that “better man” we all strive for.

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