St. John the Evangelist and Involution

St. John the Evangelist and Involution

There’s been much written about the patron saint of Freemasonry, Saint John the Baptist. His feast day, celebrated by Freemasons over the world, is in June – the time of greatest light in the northern hemisphere. This feast day, June 24, is typically the time of Summer Solstice celebrations. There is another patron saint of Freemasonry, Saint John the Evangelist, of which less is spoken or discussed. St. John the Evangelist has as his feast day December 27, roughly the time of Winter Solstice. There is an excellent paper on the Saints John in a popular Masonic site called Pietre-Stones. In it, the author discusses the possibilities of how the Saints John became the patrons of Freemasonry. In the end, he concludes that we really don’t know the actual reason that they are Freemason’s patrons.

One thing, though, that Freemasons are wonderful with is speculation. After all, it’s what we are – speculative Masons. So, let us speculate.

Freemasonry itself has a lot of analogies related to light and with Light. There’s an archetypal idea, mostly associated with Plato and the allegory of the cave and the analogy of the sun, which associate Light (in the form of the Sun) with Truth. These archetypical forms are what Plato (via Socrates) considers to be that for which the philosopher-king is ever searching. These ideas have been incorporated into Freemasonry in myriad passages and ritual elements. Many Freemasons consider Freemasonry to be a “solar” ritual, as opposed to a lunar ritual. In this aspect, they see “solar” as an active, outgoing, and Western in nature, whereas a “lunar” type of ritual is receptive, inward, and Eastern. Where some initiatory schools are inward looking, solstice1Freemasonry is outward viewing. Like the symbol of Yin and Yang, this does not mean it is devoid of lunar aspects; however, the primary focus of Freemasonry is the improvement of mankind.

It makes sense, then, that Freemasonry would concern itself with solstices. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction. These are trajectories of the sun’s path and in understanding these movements, we understand more about how our world, how nature, works. In understanding nature, we are able to move through it with easy and achieve greater good. However, Freemasonry goes far deeper than the simple knowledge of nature. These movements become metaphors and analogies for the “a-ha” moments which make up a Freemasonic life.

For thousands of years, mystery schools and myths taught humanity about the cycle of life. When we moved away from superstition into speculation, we realized that special gods did not bring back the sun to continue life – it was simply the way that Nature worked. Humanity learned that while there might or might not be a Divine hand behind the creation of the world and the Nature it housed, we could learn to understand how it worked to our advantage. We learned to move away from fear and into exploration. The myths and mystery schools became a way to explore not only what happened in this world but perhaps what happened after we die, and help us contemplate the reasons for our existence, humanity’s existence. The greatest time of philosophical and physical exploration within these schools of thought came during the Age of Aries. The Age of Aries was a time of identifying humanity into civilizations, when there was the fire of invention, innovation, and inspiration.

With the onset of our current Piscine-age, mystery schools and myths faded in the bright light of more dogmatic and directive religions. With the rise of Abrahamic religions, our concepts of Light have morphed. In the Western Hemisphere, we began to associate people which archetypes. Jesus, the “Light of the World.” Muhammad, who said “I am the light of Allaah and everything is from my light.” Gods of all locales had and have been associated with the Sun or Light, but this Piscine age was the beginning of a time when living human beings began to be associated with light, and Light from divine sources. As Christianity spread, it sought to incorporate many cultures into its fold, thus continuing the influences of the Roman Empire – conquering with assimilation rather than johns5domination. In this assimilation, many “feast days” and “saint’s days” were integrated with, and overtook, colloquial celebrations. It is not a coincidence that the Feast day of Christ (the Light of the World) is also the celebrated feast day of Mithras, a Sun God worshiped in Ancient Rome.

Two of the most important figures of the Christian Bible, and specifically the Christian religion, are Saint John the Evangelist (John of the gospels) and Saint John the Baptist. An extremely good overview of St. John the Evangelist is located at this link. According to this, since the fifth century, December 27 has been the acknowledged feast or celebratory day of St. John the Evangelist.

Every Christian knows, at the very least in passing, about John the Baptist. They might say different things, but the core of the story is essentially that John the Baptist was born to a woman named Elizabeth, six months earlier than Jesus’ birth. There is some speculation that Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother Mary were related in some way. John was a bit of a wild man, calling on the nation of Israel to repent because “their savior was nearly upon them.” John began baptizing people by way of water, to “wash away their sins” and be ready for the Christ. Thus, John the Baptist was the herald of the coming of the Christian savior, even before knowing who he was. John the Baptist is known as the one who recognized the “son of God” and identified him to the world. (John 1:31-34)

John the Evangelist was a different story. John The Evangelist, brother of St. James, was one of the first disciples of Jesus and was the only disciple not to be martyred for his faith. This John wrote his gospel, letters to leaders of the early church and later, in Patmos, his Revelation. He apparently died in Ephesus, a priest and scholar. He was known in the Byzantine Church as “John the Theologian.” What we know of this John is only what he himself has, ostensibly, written.

This does little to explain why these two disparate personalities are linked to Freemasonry. My speculation goes on here. I believe these two Johns are archetypes in which Freemasonry has housed certain ideals and, perhaps, more esoteric teachings. John the Baptist is a fiery personality, who used water to cleanse the people for the coming of “the True Light.” He was vocal, verbal, an expression of the element of air and yet, he was a man of the wilderness, whose earthiness lead people to belief and faith. In other words, he was an elemental man, full of life of this material world. He shone during the highest point of the year, the time of most Light in the material world. He isjohns2 the archetype of material expression in its highest form. It could not be clearer why he is the Patron Saint of Freemasonry at the brightest time of the year.

John the Evangelist, however, was none of these things. He is a reflection of the teaching of the Christ, someone who took the Light and transmuted it into thought. He was a scholar, someone for whom thought created life. He represents the mental aspects of humanity, the time when contemplation and reflection are necessary to achieve progress. He was the energy of the Light transferred to thought and in its purest form, the Mind. Where John the Baptist represents Evolution, John the Evangelist represents Involution. These two Johns are the boundaries of the circle of human attainment – maximum involution and maximum evolution – the spirit turned to word and the word turned to spirit again. We see this as a icon of Freemasonry when we see the two Johns displayed beside a circle with a point in the exact center. This center is the point of pure Light within the human form, from which perfect balance of humanity is attained. These two Johns are the archetypes of the best of two facets of mankind, icons of the Piscean age.

This current age, in the procession of the equinoxes, is coming to a close and we find ourselves beginning a new age – an Aquarian age. While there is a technological overtone to the age, this is also the age of consciousness. The influences of nature continues to push us toward new ways of thinking, new influences. They push us away, perhaps, from the avatars and archetypes of an earlier age. The pictures that humans need vary and perhaps these two will become even further abstract in their meaning as we progress. Humans will continue to look to nature, and need to look to nature, to understand their own progress. Perhaps these archetypes of Involution and Evolution will change in the new age, and Freemasonry’s symbols will change with it. For now, these two Saints’ John stand guard and the highest and lowest moments of Light, reminding us that both edges of the spectrum are necessary for progress to be achieved and nature to be understood.

One response

  1. I enjoyed the article very much, thank you, and I would like to say that with evolution most certainly comes the strain and identifiable processes of involution. As so represented in nature by examples such as niche, specie trait; scaled to predation, environ, etcetera; and in turn by this involution, we are presented the evidence of evolution, both in terms of physical and psychological determinants, by which the psychological involutionary factors are then reflected along evolutionary terms of both the psyche and physical makeup of any living thing.

    Now to say something has evolved to any point requires an almost predisposed, quite certain understanding of Earths entire biome in relation to itself and the structure in which it has represented its diversity via evolutionary trait at any given time throughout history. Having a copy of Darwin’s work could help one base theory on fact as well, helping identify the driving force of such evolution.

    Through ways of delicate, biologic interpretation, lets consider the order, family, and genus differentiations of the avian classes eagle. We can note that as for the period in which we now exist, we can identify biologic traits as being physical;(ex. Size); and psychological; (ex. predatory) developmentally evolved in the representation of the eagle as we know it today. Questioning if these given characteristics and traits were brought on by means of necessity, structured via means of competition, competency, (or any other plausible environmental variable we could prose), we can imply that this family of bird and the species therein have evolved, and quite possibly may still be evolving at a rate unnoticeable or at least not accelerated by current environmental factors. What we can also determine by ways of categorization down to the species, is that the biologic structure of the varying types of specie diversity represented on this planet signifies that evolution has been a constant in natures equation.

    Nature has such a fine way of making things add up so to say. I believe involution, in natures minds eye, draws out the expression before the equation balances itself in some way by forms of evolution, with nature itself, in almost all ways imaginable, being the catalyst driving the involution to evolution cycle.

    Were the simplest of being to “evolve”, would it ask itself after the fact why it chose to, was it a choice, and of what natural forces brought about such life altering monumental change, as to amend, reprogram, force upon or give choice, in respect to natures equatable understanding of its own accepted, predetermined, seemingly necessary constants in use to provide explanation where it may not currently exist? Perhaps 😉

    Constants in place to support fact, as well as test the seemingly immovable perception and understanding of scientific law in regards to grand concepts like genetic assembly, and other universally definitive, mind bending, seemingly cyclical, hierarchically altering, matter equivalent to anti matter, type of suggestive notions, that in relativity to time are, epic and ever changing, to say the very least.

    I would venture the guess to be no. As the chameleon, while predating doesn’t wonder why it changes color to avoid predation while simultaneously aiding in its hunt; or the flying fish pause to wonder about the use of evolutionarily developed gills processing oxygen in molecules of air rather than water, while it tries not to become lunch; or a lonely polar bears camouflaging, white fur working in conjunction with dermal and fatty layers to survive elemental extremes, while a black bear facing drastically different involutionary factors in the jungle would have a tough go under similar metabolic processes; or its distant cold weather friend, the flightless penguin, with wings evolved to flippers. (Now I have to make some time for humor, but if the fellow wants to fly, then a change of diet perhaps?? ;p

    In all cases we find that they simply do, and live, and through this, all life shows signs of embracing, adjusting to, or just simply coping with environmental factors. Through which involution, driven by current and ongoing environmental factors, strains and stresses, bounty and barren, leads to evolutionary niche trait development, that in the moment they are most certainly unaware of relying upon, and very well may still be evolving towards as to meet the always changing possibilities of a demanding natural environment.

    A natural environment outside their control, that can drive change by external factors like climate and environment, as well as internal factors, though most seemingly to relate directly to predation. To those that can observe, measure, rationalize, or speculate based upon this data, we find physical determinants resulting in physical evolutionary traits. What can be gained by the interpretation of its psychological affects, ex. what the bear thinks of himself… or metabolic structures of differing species based on any given environmental factors. In turn leading to behavioral expressions gained via an evolution based on preset environmental factors outside the control of the life form being interpreted.

    As part of this equation, and a major factor in it, is it time itself, in these instances, that affords nature the capacity and ability to evolve, both physically and psychologically? What can be gained from interpreting times relation to these factors and their effect, especially in relation to psychological evolutionary traits. How much time×?
    How strong the impetus to begin affecting the psychological, both pre and post involution, and does this always lead to physical evolutionary development?

    Evolution is a massive reality, by which the most minute concept deliberated by means of involution can express change that nature is still in the process of equating today. The examples seem endless, with all of it pointing at or leading itself to the light and life it sustains. The byproduct of condensing gasses on a planet near a sun propelling those gasses through what seems a void, structured by charge, proportion and distance of those gasses in relation to each other, would indicate to a creature entirely devoid of the light itself, but swimming in its optimal watery wake, that life somehow finds a way to put on its show, no matter the circumstance or drastic change upon its situation or environment.

    Identifying these forces, understanding their origin, and equating for nature as represented in the physical and metaphysical, is all part of an ongoing scientific evolution inspired and brought about by the need for perhaps a psychological and even spiritual involution, one might say to zero.

    As evolved beings ourselves, capable of asking(involution) and answering (evolution) almost all of our own questions; whether representative of our own true jurisprudential apothesis and presumable nature, or not; we must at some points stand in question of even natures own understanding of itself and remind it yet again that existence and its proliferous tendencies will make sense of even the most perilous, precarious, unimaginably inequitable situations if only to attain a righteous sense of equilibrium and homeostasis, if even for a brief, fleeting moment in time. Perhaps that moment lasts just long enough, and in that moment we can realize the answers to our own questions and enjoy the lesson that nature is teaching us.

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