Freemasonry like many other mystery traditions is a journey down the pathway of self-discovery and self-betterment. The ceremonies and ritual are designed to enlighten and teach the initiate moral lessons, which if delivered correctly, evoke an awakening inside the candidate. Today the chamber of reflection is not used in regular craft lodges in England, being seen as a dark and morbid practice banished to the other degrees.
A chamber of reflection is self explanatory, a small-darkened room used to reflect on the journey ahead. The format and furnishings of the room can vary, but it should adjoin the lodge meeting room. The candidate is led into the room and left alone for a period of time to contemplate their surroundings. The room is bare except for a small table containing some items and lit by a single candle. The items on the table include; a human skull, crossed thigh bones, a sickle, bread, water, sulfur, salt, mercury and an hourglass. The skull, bones and sickle offer the opportunity to reflect on mortality; coupled with the hourglass it represents our short time on earth. Bread and Water represent the simple but essential elements needed to survive, and are a lesson in leading an uncomplicated life. Sulfur, Salt and Mercury are alchemical elements attributed to the great work and combined convey a message of faith, hope & charity. Written on the wall in front of the candidate are the initials V.I.T.R.I.O.L which is a Latin alchemical acronym meaning “Visit the interior of the earth; by rectification you shall find the hidden stone” This phrase teaches the candidate to look inside himself. A piece of paper and pen are often left on the table for the candidate. The reasons can vary but in many instances the candidate is asked to answer some questions and write a moral and philosophical testament. Once the initiate has finished this task he is told to ring a bell to indicate he has finished reflecting and is ready to embark on his masonic journey.
It is unlikely that the candidate will understand all of the symbols, but a man destine for change and enlightenment will find it a valuable lesson. There are many other deep and meaningful allergy’s attributed to the chamber of reflection leaving each initiate to make his own conclusions.
The chamber of reflection is a beautiful and profound symbolic experience vital in the process of initiating a new member into the secrets and mystery’s of Freemasonry. True initiation is an internal process taken on by the individual and triggered by the surrounding help and guidance of others. I believe that modern candidates will benefit from a moment to relax and reflect on their up coming induction, having been striped of all other distractions. I personally believe that we should bring back the chamber of reflection and set a better spiritual and symbolic path for our new initiates.
Written By: 5 of Clubs / Joker