The Web of Hiram

University of Bradford
Home Lectures of the Craft Lectures of the Holy Royal Arch Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite The Royal Order of Scotland York Rite Side Degrees English Knights Templar Order of Women Freemasons Walter Leslie Wilmshurst

The Works of Walter Leslie Wilmshurst

Brief Masonic Biography

The Meaning of Masonry

The Ceremony of Initiation

The Ceremony of Passing

Notes on Cosmic Consciousness

The Fundamental Philosophic Secrets Within Masonry

The Hidden Church of the Holy Graal

The Mystical Basis of Freemasonry

Reason and Vision

The Working Tools of an Old York Master

Spurious Ecstasy and Ceremonial Magic

Wilmshurst's Tracing Board of the Centre

Wilmshurst's Tracing Board of the Centre

Whilst cataloging and transcribing the note-books of W. L. Wilmshurst the following drawing of a tracing board was discovered. It was signed by Wilmshurst and is a symbolical summary of his thoughts on the significance of the Masonic symbol of the Centre.

Writing in his book The Meaning of Masonry, Wilmshurst described the centre in the following terms.

“What then is this " Centre", by reviving and using which we may hope to regain the secrets of our lost nature? We may reason from analogies. As the Divine Life and Will is the centre of the whole universe and controls it; as the sun is the centre and life-giver of our solar system and controls and feeds with life the planets circling round it, so at the secret centre of individual human life exists a vital, immortal principle, the spirit and the spiritual will of man. This is the faculty, by using which (when we have found it) we can never err. It is a point within the circle of our own nature and, living as we do in this physical world, the circle of our existence is bounded by two grand parallel lines; "one representing Moses; the other King Solomon", that is to say, law and wisdom; the divine ordinances regulating the universe on the one hand; the divine "wisdom and mercy that follow us all the days of our life" on the other. Very truly then the Mason who keeps himself thus circumscribed cannot err.

Masonry, then, is a system of religious philosophy in that it provides us with a doctrine of the universe and of our place in it. It indicates whence we are come and whither we may return. It has two purposes. Its first purpose is to show that man has fallen away from a high and holy centre to the circumference or externalized condition in which we now live; to indicate that those who so desire may regain that centre by finding the centre in ourselves, for, since Deity is as a circle whose centre is everywhere, it follows that a divine centre, a "vital and  immortal principle", exists within ourselves by developing which we may hope to regain our lost  and primal stature. The second purpose of the Craft doctrine is to declare the way by which that centre may be found within ourselves, and this teaching is embodied in the discipline and ordeals delineated in the three degrees. The Masonic doctrine of the Centre - or, in other words, the Christian axiom that "the Kingdom of Heaven is within you" - is nowhere better stated than by the poet Browning”

" Truth is within ourselves. It takes no rise

From outward things, whate'er you may believe. There is an inmost centre in ourselves Where truth abides in fullness; and to know

Rather consists in finding out a way

Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape Than by effecting entrance for a light Supposed to be without."


This how Wilmshurst pictured the Centre.




No present member of the lodge WLW founded was aware of the existence of his Tracing Board of the Centre and its re-discovery has generated much interest. It seems to have been forgotten after his death, but fortunately was preserved with his notebooks.



Home Lectures of the Craft Lectures of the Holy Royal Arch Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite The Royal Order of Scotland York Rite Side Degrees English Knights Templar Order of Women Freemasons Walter Leslie Wilmshurst

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