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Darkness

Darkness has, in all the systems of initiation, been deemed a symbol of ignorance, and so opposed to light, which is the symbol of knowledge. Hence the rule, that the eye should not see until the heart has conceived the true nature of those beauties which constitute the mysteries of the Order. In the Ancient Mysteries, the aspirant was always shrouded in darkness as a preparatory step to the reception of the full light of knowledge. The time of this confinement in darkness and solitude varied in the different mysteries. Among the Druids of Britain the period was nine days and nights; in the Grecian Mysteries it was three times nine days, while among the Persians, according to Porphyry, it was extended to the almost incredible period of fifth, days of darkness, solitude, and fasting. Because, according to all the cosmogonies, accounts of the universe, darkness existed before light was created, darkness was originally worshiped as the firstborn, as the progenitor of day and the state of existence before creation. The apostrophe of Young to Night embodies the feelings which gave origin to this debasing worship of darkness:

O majestic night! Nature's great ancestor! Day's elder born! And fated to survive the transient sun! By morals and immortals seen with awe!

Freemasonry has restored darkness to its proper place as a state of preparation; the symbol of that antemundane chaos from whence light issued at the Divine command; of the state of nonentity before birth, and of ignorance before the reception of knowledge. Hence, in the Ancient Mysteries, the release of the aspirant from solitude and darkness was called the act of regeneration, and he was said to be born again, or to be raised from the dead. And in Freemasonry, the darkness which envelops the mind of the uninitiated being removed by the bright effulgence of Masonic light, Freemasons are appropriately called the sons of light. In Doctor Oliver's Signs and Symbols there is a lecture "On the Mysterious Darkness of the Third Degree.'' This refers to the ceremony of enveloping the room in darkness when that Degree is conferred-a ceremony once always observed, but now, in this country at least, frequently but improperly omitted. The darkness here is a symbol of death, the lesson taught in the Degree, while the subsequent renewal of light refers to that other and subsequent lesson of eternal life.

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