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Death

The Scandinavians, in their Edda, describing the residence of Death in Hell, where she was east by her father, Loke, say that she there possesses large apartments, strongly built, and fenced with gates of iron. Her hall is Grief; her table, Famine Hunger, her knife; Delay, her servant; Faintness, her porch; Sickness and Pain, her bed ; and her tent, Cursing and Howling. But. the Masonic idea of death, like the Christian's, is accompanied with no gloom, because it is represented only as a sleep, from whence we awaken into another life. Among the ancients, sleep and death were fabled as twins. Old Gorgias, when dying, said, "Sleep is about to deliver me up to his brother''; but the death sleep of the heathen was a sleep from which there was no awaking. The popular belief was annihilation, and the poets and philosophers fostered the people's ignorance, by describing death as the total and irremediable extinction of live. Thus Seneca says-and he was too philosophic not to have known better-''that after death there comes nothing,'' while Vergil, who doubtless had been initiated into the Mysteries of Eleusis, nevertheless calls death "an iron sleep, an eternal night," yet the Ancient Mysteries were based upon the dogma of eternal live, and their initiations were intended to represent a resurrection. Freemasonry, deriving its system of symbolic teachings from these ancient religious associations, presents death to its neophytes as the gate or entrance to eternal existence. To teach the doctrine of immortality is the great object of the Third Degree. In its ceremonies we learn that live here is the time of labor, and that, working at the construction of a spiritual temple, we are worshiping the Grand Architect for whom we build that temple. 'But we learn also that, when that live is ended, it closes only to open upon a newer and higher one, where in a second temple and a purer Lodge, the Freemason will find eternal truth. Death, therefore, in Masonic philosophy, is the symbol of initiation completed, perfected, and consummated.

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