Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Great White Lodge

By Frater L. de Armand
[From The Rosicrucian Digest February 1930]
SEEKERS for illumination and for new Light on the Path constantly find reference to the Great White Lodge and the Great White Brotherhood. The difficulty in learning more about this Holy Assembly of advanced mystics that really constitute the Great White Lodge often leaves the seeker in doubt as to what the lodge really is and who compose the Brotherhood that seems to have earned the universal approbation intimated by the words "great" and "white."
In the earliest mystical literature still available, we find references to the Holy Assembly and the Cosmic Hosts dwelling in some part of the invisible world and directing the spiritual thoughts of men who have been illumined and prepared for such contact. Gradually, we find in the old writings that these terms were abandoned in favor of the newer terms The Great White Lodge and The Great White Brotherhood.
The word "white" in this term is highly significant. Among the earliest mystics in Egypt and India, white was considered the emblem of purity, and significant of spiritual attainment. Today, we realize this more scientifically inasmuch as we now know that the purest of white lights, the sunlight contains all known colors and is a combination of their harmonic blending, and, therefore, white contains all of the spiritual Cosmic forces and vibrations that permeate the universe. We know also that unless there is a perfect harmonic blending of these vibrations and the vibratory colors, there will be no pure white light. The ancients did not know this but they did know that white was the most difficult of all colors to obtain in any form or in any material. We are so accustomed today to white linens, white paper, and white things of many forms and natures that it seems a little difficult to realize that there was a time when perhaps the lily was the only white object, and, of course, we now realize that even the lily is not as pure in its whiteness as some other products of nature. Bear in mind that the early mystics lived in countries and climates where snow was unknown and where all the coloring materials used in painting or dyeing were extracts of clays and the minerals of earth, and where white in its purest form was practically unknown. A piece of linen or any other object that through bleaching and purging of its foreign elements could be made perfectly white represented the acme of cleanliness and purity. It was for this reason that a few costly and rare pieces of material could be made white and were used almost exclusively by the high priests or masters in the mystery temples when officiating at their altars. Hence the wearing of white became symbolical of purity not only in thought and spiritual nature in man but in everything else. When it became possible to obtain more clothing material in white, we find that the early mystical schools adopted it as the color for their initiated brethren and so distinct became this mark of mystical initiation that the members of the various secret schools like the Essene and therapeuti were known commonly among the populace as the Brethren in White or the White Brethren.
In many mystical writings of the period just preceding the life of Jesus, we find references to the Brethren in White and some references to the men of white clothing. Jesus always wore white, as did His followers, although the poorest of them often could afford only a small white mantle over their other multicolored costumes.
It is easy to understand then how the more secret brotherhood that was held to be an invisible one or one never to be known in public was believed to be a brotherhood in white, and hence the term White Brotherhood.
The word "great" on the other hand did not have any significance implying grandeur, superiority, or personal aggrandizement, but rather formidable in its influence and Cosmic power. Therefore, we see that the term "Great White Brotherhood" was not a term of popular adoration but really a term of symbolic distinction.
Only those who had attained the highest degrees of self-mastership and spiritual illumination were admitted into that section of the mystical brotherhoods of the orient, the members of which wore the white robe. These members did not wear these white garments or mantles or the complete robe in public during the first centuries of the use of this distinguishing costume, but wore the white only within the temple or when performing sacred or mystic duties. When mingling among the populace or the everyday labors, the members of the White Brotherhood wore nothing that would distinguish them from other men. There were two reasons for this that are quite logical. First, the costliness of the white material and need for taking good care of whatever mantle or robe each one possessed and preserving it against unnecessary soiling; and second, the ancient injunction that the mystics should not wear anything or do anything that would make them appear to be elevating themselves above the human touch. Therefore, the White Brotherhood became a really secret organization and for many centuries it was difficult indeed for one who was not a member of the outer circle or an initiate to tell which of his neighbors, if any, were members of the White Brotherhood or which were not. It was only through the life that these highly evolved and progressive thinkers lived that gradually was revealed their association and it was in this wise that many of them became known and eventually when the wearing of white robes did not constitute a very great cost, that we find them wearing them in public and in their journeys. They continued, however, to refrain from wearing their white robes at any form of labor that would unnecessarily soil the robes, for it was considered unethical to permit anything to blemish the robe when it might be avoided, and no robe could be worn with indifference that contained a blemish. We may say in passing that it was at this time that one or two colors of a distinct nature were adopted as marks of degeneracy or evil practice as a sort of antithesis to the white robe. Purple became the color of immorality and, of course, we find many references to the wearing of purple and its significance in many sacred writings. Today, purple and the ultra-violet have become significant of high spiritual qualities instead of lower moral and spiritual vibrations.
Perhaps, we can understand now why the meeting place or the assembly of these Brethren in White came to be known among them or especially among the Neophyte in waiting as the Great White Lodge. Many persons today do not realize the distinction between the terms Great White Lodge and Great White Brotherhood. Many make the mistake of thinking that a lodge is a group of persons united for some purpose in more or less of a secret manner and holding private sessions or convocations. In this sense, the only difference between the Great White Lodge and the Great White Brotherhood might be in the number of persons included in the body. The truth of the matter is that the word "lodge" does not mean a group of persons but a closed private protected meeting place. Contrary to what is often argued now on this point, especially, by some secret sessions, there may be a lodge without any person being present to constitute the lodge. In other words, the meeting place may be in every sense a lodge without the presence of any human being. Some argue that a lodge is composed only of a definite and secret place containing properly accredited persons so arranged as to constitute those conditions of time, place, and persons warranting the appellation of lodge. In the ancient sense, this was not true, and in the Rosicrucian understanding, a lodge or a temple is a lodge or temple so long as it continues to be the appointed sacred place for convocations whether persons are present in the place or not.
As the Great White Brotherhood increased in number and spread to many lands and no longer held its convocations in one place where it originally started, there ceased to be a physical place on earth known as the Great White Lodge, or in other words, the ancient lodge room or temple of the Great White Brotherhood. The members of the Brotherhood had their robes or meeting places eventually in many lands and these lodges and temples had convocations for the White brethren alone, and at other times for the Neophytes in waiting or the Postulants waiting for advancement to higher grades. Therefore, these temples or meeting places could not be rightly called White Lodges since they were used as often and as actively by those who were not yet given the white robes as by the White Brethren themselves.
As time passed on and the members of the higher circle who wore the white robes met in various localities or often on mountain tops, or in the silence of their homes or grottoes for periodical meditation, contemplation, and projection of thought to the Cosmic the idea was evolved that the place where their thoughts and projected consciousness met in attunement with one another became their lodge or the temple, and this invisible, immaterial, and wholly unlocalized assembly place was then given the name of the Great White Lodge. And thus it remains today. From this, we will see that while the Great White Brotherhood is composed of several hundred men and women, who have attained high development and high initiation, and are permitted to wear a white mantle or white stole in their official capacity here on earth as well as those who have passed on and have attained the white pureness of spiritual existence, the Great White Lodge on the other hand, has no existence in a material form on the earth plane but [is] a holy, a spiritual, or Cosmic meeting place [f]or just those few who are qualified to reach it in their thoughts and there in psychic communion and spiritual correspondence, discuss and meditate upon the problems of mankind and the direction of the earthly activities of the Great White Brotherhood.
Therefore, we see that any references by modern metaphysical movements to the existence of the Great White Lodge as though it were an assembly of persons meeting in some temple on this earth plane is entirely erroneous and must be misleading in a willful sense, for such persons should know better and the facts of the case are easily obtainable if desired.
On the other hand, there is that other spiritual place where all of our members may meet with their thoughts and receive spiritual illumination, consolation, encouragement, peace, and divine happiness. This place is the Cathedral of the Soul, and although it has been known to a few for a long time, we have not been permitted to reveal all that we would like to tell about it until the present time, and during the year 1930 those who are worthy and sincere in their desires to know how to contact this great Cathedral of the Soul will learn from articles in this magazine and in other matter that may reach them in various ways from time to time.

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