Some of you might recognize Worshipful Merrick Hammer from his appearance and narration from the video “From Darkness to Light” shown above as the 2011 Masons of California video contest grand prize winner. On Tuesday, July 30th, 2019, Worshipful Merrick Hammer from Culver City Foshay Lodge #467 came to Conejo Valley Lodge to share a special Masonic education presentation on the Chamber of Reflection & Chequered Pavement. The following is a brief summary of his presentation.
Many Freemasons are aware of the ceremonies referred to as the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and the Master. Masons also refer to each of these degrees as an initiation in reference to each degree being a rite of passage for each Mason that has the privilege to experience each respective degree. Worshipful Hammer described “the whole journey is by contradistinction an ‘initiatic quest,’ a life-long peregrination that includes not only the aforementioned ceremonies, but the whole psychic process from the very moment a postulant determines in his heart that he will set his feet upon such a path.”
In Modern day Freemasonry, Chambers of Reflection are up to the discretion of each Lodge to recommend each candidate for Freemasonry participate in before they begin their Masonic journey. Various items will appear before a candidate in a Chamber of Reflection, so of which may include: a small table or scriptorium, parchment and a writing tool, as well as a stool on which to sit; a skull and crossed-bones next to an hourglass; bread and water for consumption; the elements of salt, mercury and sulfur; and a candle. Furthermore, there may be represented on the wall or a nearby chart the following illustrations: a rooster and sickle; and the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L. Worshipful Hammer said. Throughout the presentation, each of these items in the Chamber of Reflection were described in great detail, as well as, the meaning of each of these symbols.
The Chequred Pavement in Freemasonry as a part of the ornaments of the Lodge, others of which include a tessellated border surrounding it, and a blazing star placed at the center of the chequered pavement. Hammer said that each of these Masonic ornaments represent human life, chequered with good and evil, the manifold blessings and comforts which surround the progeny of creation and the blazing star as a sign of truth and divine providence.
Worshipful Merrick shared his insights from multiple perspectives on the meaning of the chequered pavement, from it’s design, color, placement, and purpose within a Lodge room. Interestingly, the lessons taught by the chequred pavement go well beyond the obvious connection to life be chequered with good and evil. In fact, there are several other associations that can be made to unnamed and named crowned pillars, light shown in darkness, intermittent zones between no light and nothing but light, dialectical thinking, solar systems and fixed stars, and the Four Cardinal Virtues in Freemasonry.
Both the Chamber of Reflection & Chequered Pavement in Freemasonry have much significance to Masons and candidates for Freemasonry. Of course, some of the meanings of these symbols can only be fully realized through the study of the Craft. As Worshipful Merrick Hammer eloquently put “to wit, as the scriptures have stated: ‘The Light shown in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not.'” Thus, through actively seeking Light, or knowledge, in Freemasonry it is possible to understand the greater associations and meanings of these symbols as it relates to Freemasonry and life in general.
Conejo Valley Lodge is sincerely appreciative of Worshipful Merrick Hammer coming to the Lodge to share this presentation with the Brothers, family, and friends of our Fraternity.