SYMBOLISM OF

THE THREE DEGREES

 

OLIVER DAY STREET

 Scanned at the Phoenixmasonry Research Society by Brother Ralph Omholt - January 2007

 

 

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SYMBOLICAL MASONRY

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THE BUILDERS

by Joseph Fort Newton

 

SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

            by Oliver Day Street

 

THE GREAT TEACHINGS OF MASONRY

by H. L. Haywood

 

The MEN'S HOUSE

by Joseph Fort Newton

 

FOREIGN COUNTRIES

by Carl H. Cloudy

 

THE RELIGION OF MASONRY

by Joseph Port Newton

 

SPECULATIVE MASONRY

by A. S. McBride

 

SHORT TALKS ON MASONRY

by Joseph Fort Newton

 

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SYMBOLISM OF

THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

By OLIVER DAY STREET

 

Kingsport, Tennessee

 

SOUTHERN PUBLISHERS, Inc.

 

MASONIC PUBLICATIONS DIVISION

 

COPYRIGHT, 1922, 1924,

 

BY THE MASONIC SERVICE

ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES

 

 

 

SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

-  B -

 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

 

FOREWORD

TO THE M. S. A. EDITION

 

The new edition of this book, as it now appears, is almost a new book, in content as well as in format. Originally little more than a pamphlet, poorly printed, it now takes its place—revised and enlarged by more than one-third — in the M. S. A. National Masonic Library, as a substantial and important contribution to the, exposition of Masonic symbolism. It is not too much to say that it is the best book on the subject since Mackey wrote, and we believe it will be so recognised. The author proceeds upon the principle, ignored by so many, that Masonic symbols should have a Masonic interpretation, as determined by the history and teaching of the Craft. This saves him the trouble, and his readers the weariness, of wandering through the mazes of ancient lore in quest of imaginary meanings of symbols to which the Craft has given, tacitly or officially, its own interpretation. The comparative study of symbols, to say nothing of their varied, meanings and migrations, is another subject, and is beyond the limits and purpose of this book.

 

            The book will be welcomed by the Craft as a practical and competent elucidation of its symbolism, and it is an honor to the Service Association to give it a worthy and permanent form.

 

                                                                                                                        JOSEPH FORT NEWTON.

 


 

FOREWORD

 

TO THE FIRST EDITION

 

Some books are so much be-trumpeted before their appearance and make their advent accompanied by such a battery of acclamation that afterwards one is at a loss to know whether to attribute their success to their own merits or to the preparatory campaign of advertising. Others come "without bell," without ostentation or announcement, like the stealing of light at dawn, and make their way very slowly and by their own intrinsic worth. The present volume is an excellent example of the latter class. Brother Street first collected his materials for a series of lectures in his own state of Alabama. Later on these lectures were published serially in The Builder, the journal of the National Masonic Research Society. Beginning in August, 1918, the demand for copies of the journal containing the serial was such that the Society issued the manuscript in book form, albeit of a most modest fashion. This little book in turn has been so much read and so widely sought that not a copy remains to be sold. And now the Society, with Brother Street's consent and assistance, is republishing "Symbolism of the Three Degrees" in a volume of such dignity and permanence as the proved worth of the essay entitles it to.

 

            It chances that I myself have written a book on Symbolical Masonry, if I may be here permitted to say as much, and therefore I can speak with something of the authority of experience when I say that this work is one of the half dozen best books on the subject in our Ian-

 

vii

 


 

viii                                                                               FOREWORD

 

guage. Those who have labored in the field of Masonic symbolism know what toil is required; what mountains of books must be read; what masses of rubbish must be overhauled for an ounce of value; and how confusing is the babel of interpretation that breaks from books, Monitors, speeches, magazine articles, pamphlets and id genus omne. To find one's way, to keep one's head, to emerge at last with one's sanity intact and with something of value, is a task. To Brother Street belongs the honor of such an achievement. He has read wisely and well; thought much; and followed the lead of the official Monitors without abandoning his own rights or duties of independent judgment.

 

            The Craft needs a large literature of such books as this. Private students and members of study clubs should master it paragraph by paragraph. Masters and Wardens and all others entrusted with the exemplification of our marvellous Masonic Ritual will find in it such light on all the important symbols of the Three Degrees as will give them and their audience a new interest in the work, and a new appreciation of the inexhaustible wealth hidden away within the heart of Ancient Craft Masonry.

 

                                                                                                H. L. HAYWOOD,

Editor of The Builder.

 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Oct. 1, 1922.

 

           


 

CONTENTS

                                                                                                                                    PAGE

 

FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . v

 

FOREWORD TO FIRST EDITION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . vii

 

PART ONE:

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

 

PART TWO:

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

 

PART THREE:

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

 

APPENDIX:

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

 

INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

 


 

PART ONE: THE ENTERED

 

APPRENTICE DEGREE

 


 

SYMBOLISM OF

THE THREE DEGREES

 

PART ONE

 

THE ENTERED

APPRENTICE DEGREE

 

It is first necessary that we should understand the scope of our subject. First, be it understood, we attempt to exhaust no topic upon which we touch, but only to stimulate the interest and curiosity of the reader to pursue the subject further for himself. Under the term "symbolism," we include also the legends and allegories of Masonry, though properly speaking they are not symbols. Yet they are all so closely interwoven and so employed for the same or like purposes they can scarcely be treated separately.

 

            General Albert Pike, that great. Freemason and philosopher, says that "to translate the symbols [of Freemasonry] into the trivial and commonplace is the blundering of mediocrity." That there has been some blundering of this kind on the part of our Monitor makers must be apparent to any serious and intelligent student of Masonry.

 

            Difficult as it is to assign adequate meaning to some of our Masonic symbols, it is equally difficult, when once starts , to know where to stop. Says a distinguished British Freemason, Brother W. H. Rylands:

 

13

 

 

 14                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            "Symbolism is always a difficult affair as every one knows or at least ought to know. When once fairly launched on the subject, it often becomes an avalanche or torrent which may carry one away into the open sea or more than empty space. On few questions has more rubbish been written than that of symbols and symbolism: it is a happy hunting ground for those, who, guided by no sort of system or rule, ruled only by their own sweet will, love to allow their fancies and imaginations to run wild. Interpretations are given which have no other foundation than the disordered brain of the writer, and, when proof or anything approaching a definite statement is required, symbols are confused with metaphors and we are involved in a further maze of follies and wilder fancies."

 

Thus we are to steer our bark between the Scylla of Brother Pike and the Charybdis of Brother Rylands; without, therefore, descending to the commonplace on the one hand or soaring away from the plane of common sense on the other, we hope to be able to say something of interest concerning the symbolism of the First Degree.

 

            A symbol is a visible representation of some object or thing, real or imagined, employed to convey a certain idea. Sometimes there is an apparent connection between the symbol and the thought represented, but more often the association seems to be entirely arbitrary. The earliest forms of symbolism of which we know were the ancient hieroglyphical systems of writing. We may indeed say that symbolism is but a form of writing; in fact, the earliest and for hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of years, the only form of writing known to the human race. It prevailed among every ancient people of whom we have any definite knowledge.

 

            The learned Dr. William Stukeley, of England, the

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                15

 

author of many antiquarian works, said truly that the "wisdom of all the ancients that is come down to our hands is symbolic." 1

 

 

Few of us appreciate the importance of symbolism and the great part it plays even now in our everyday life. We have said that all symbolism is a form of writing; with equal truth, we may invert the statement and say that all writing, ancient and modern, is symbolism. It has been proved that our present methods of writing are but developments from the hieroglyphical, and are as purely symbolical as any that have preceded them. Our thoughts themselves and the forms in which we express them are all symbolic. Even spoken language is symbolical; were it not so we should not have to be taught a language in order to understand it. A certain spoken sound, or printed word is representative of a certain idea, not naturally so, but by arbitrary usage; and this is precisely what a symbol is. To the direct forms of speech we have added the so-called "figures of speech," similes, metaphors, parables and allegories, rendering language both spoken and written still more symbolic. In short, without symbols communication, except of the most restricted sort, among men would be impossible. The importance of the subject is, therefore, not easily exaggerated. Except when our attention is specifically directed to it, we are not conscious of the extent to which the symbolical enters into our daily thought and life. Symbolism, however, in that aspect in which it is commonly understood, no longer prevails, except to a very limited degree.

 

            This ancient form of writing, now generally fallen into disuse, Masonry has to some extent at least perpetuated and employs in recording her precepts and impressing them upon her votaries.

 

            1 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 73.

 

 

16                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            Another ancient and favourite method of teaching stip employed by Masons is that of the allegory. The allegory is a figure of speech, that is to say, a departure from the direct and simple mode of speaking, and the employment, for the sake of illustration or emphasis, of a fancied resemblance between one object or thing and another.

 

            If we say of a man, as we often uncharitably do, "He is an ass," this is a metaphor. If we say of him, as Carlyle did of Wordsworth, "He looks like a horse," this is a simile. An extended simile with the comparative form and words left out, in which the real subject is never directly mentioned but left to be inferred, is called an allegory. The most famous example of the allegory in literature is Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

 

            One desirous of entering into the real spirit of these ancient methods of imparting instruction should read Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients, and particularly the preface to that remarkable book. He shows that nearly all the complex and to us absurd tales of Grecian mythology were but parts of a great system for inculcating natural, moral and religious truths by means of the allegory. What more grotesque and revolting, we may ask, than the myth of Pan?

 

"He is portrayed by the ancients," to quote Bacon, "in this guise: on his head a pair of horns that reach to heaven; his body rough and hairy, his beard long and shaggy; his shape biformed, above like a man, and below like a beast; his feet like goats' hoofs; and he bore these ensigns of his jurisdiction, to wit, in his left hand a pipe of seven reeds, and in his right a sheep-hook, or a staff crooked at the upper end, and his mantle made of a leopard's skin."

 

Yet under the master touch of Lord Bacon this in-

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                            17

 

congruous creature, half Man and half goat, is shown to be a beautiful and apt symbol of all nature. Approaching that branch of symbolism which at present concerns us, Masonic Symbolism, it may be asserted in the broadest terms that the Mason who knows nothing of our symbolism knows little of Freemasonry. He may be able to repeat every line of the Ritual without an error, and yet, if he does not understand the meaning of the ceremonies, the signs, the words, the emblems and the figures, he is an ignoramus Masonically. It is distressing to witness how much time and labor is spent in memorising "the work"; and how little in ascertaining what it all means.

 

            Far be it from us to underrate the importance of letter-perfection in rendering our ritual. In no other way can the symbolism of our emblems, ceremonies, traditions, and allegories be accurately preserved, but we do maintain that, if we are never to understand their meanings, it is useless to preserve them. The two go hand in hand; without either the beauty and symmetry of the Masonic temple is destroyed.

 

            It is in its symbols and allegories that Freemasonry surpasses all other societies. If any of them now teach by these methods it is because they have slavishly imitated Freemasonry.

 

            The great Mason and scholar, Brother Albert Pike, said:

 

"The symbolism of Masonry is the soul of Masonry. Every symbol of a lodge is a religious teacher, the mute teacher also of morals and philosophy. It is in its ancient symbols and in the knowledge of their true meanings that the preeminence of Freemasonry over all other orders consists. In other respects, some of them may compete with it, rival it, perhaps even excel it; but by

 

 

18                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

its symbols it will reign without a peer when it learns again what its symbols mean, and that each is the embodiment of some great, old, rare truth."

 

In our Masonic studies the moment we forget that the whole and every part of Freemasonry is symbolic or allegoric, the same instant we begin to grope in the dark. Its ceremonies, signs, tokens, words and lectures at once become meaningless or trivial. The study of no other aspect of Freemasonry is more important, yet the study of no aspect of it has been so much neglected. Brother Robert F. Gould, of England, our foremost Masonic historian, declares it is the "one great and pressing duty of Freemasons."2  Brother Albert Pike, no doubt the greatest philosopher produced by our fraternity, declared as we have seen that symbolism is the soul of Masonry.

 

            We know that symbols are in Masonry, and we know not when or how they got there. We know not who assigned to them their meanings. We know that many of them were employed for the same purpose, the communication of ideas, before the beginning of authentic history; of some of them we know a part at least of their original meanings, but of the meaning of others we know nothing at all.

 

            In some instances it is possible to ascertain or at least to surmise the origin of the symbol and what gave rise to it. But in many of the most important this inquiry has baffled all research.

 

            If in Masonry we speak of a Temple, we do not mean one of stone and mortar; if we speak of a square, we do not mean one of steel or wood; if we speak of compasses, we do not mean one of. metal.

 

            We are told in our Monitors that "every emblem, character and figure depicted in the lodge has a moral and

 

 

 2 A. Q. C., Vol. II, p. 43.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                            19

 

useful meaning and forcibly inculcates the practice of virtue." The same may with equal truth be said of our every ceremony, sign, token, legend, and allegory. If this is true, it must follow that to be ignorant of Masonic symbolism is to be ignorant of Masonry.

 

            Even our name—Mason or Freemason—is symbolical. Literally it means "builder in stone." Of course, we are engaged in no such labours except in a symbolic sense. We liken the development of human character to the erection of a building; we liken the manly virtues which constitute a finished character to the polished stones which enter into a finished structure.

 

            The etymology of the word Mason, whether used to indicate a speculative or an operative Mason, is obscure.

 

 

NAME OF THE FRATERNITY

 

Undoubtedly the very name of Masonry is symbolic. The likening of the developing of human character to the building of a house is an old simile. It was certainly in use among the Jews as early as the time of David (2 Samuel vii, 27; Ps. cxviii, 22) and was a favourite figure of speech with Jesus. It could, therefore, cause no surprise that a society whose professed mission is character-building should bear symbolically the name of the occupation of those engaged in the building of houses. It might be asked why are we not called Freecarpenters instead of Freemasons if we get our name from house builders. The answer is that we might have been so called had our Fraternity originated in America instead of Europe. Carpenters are a much more important factor in house building here than in the Old World. There nearly everything is and has for centuries been built of stone or brick. This is still more the case in Palestine where, according to our traditions, the society of Free-

 

 

20                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

masons had its origin. There, because of the scarcity of timber, the occupation of a mason was always of much greater consequence than that of the carpenter. Besides, it will be borne in mind that the more important edifices of all countries have, since the beginning of historic times, been built of stone or marble.

 

            In the ceremonies of making a Mason we do not attempt to do more than to indicate the pathway to Masonic knowledge, to lay the foundation for the Masonic edifice; the brother must pursue the journey or complete the structure for himself by reading and reflection.

 

            Brother Pike thus expresses this idea:

 

"Science makes use of symbols; but for its transmission language is also indispensable; wherefore the Sages must sometimes speak. But when they speak they do so not to disclose or to explain but to lead others to seek for and find the truth of science and the meaning of the symbols."

 

There must be somewhere in Freemasonry a consistent plan running entirely through it by which all that is genuine in it may be rationally explained. It can not be that a miscellaneous collection of rules, customs, symbols and moral, precepts, however valuable in and of themselves, thrown together without order or design, could have attracted the attention among intelligent men that Freemasonry has done in all ages in which it is known. Surely unity must somewhere exist in the great variety which we find in the Masonic system.

 

            A little study will reveal to us that the great, vital, underlying idea, sought to be inculcated by the several degrees considered collectively and which runs entirely through the system, is to give an allegorical or symbolical representation of human existence, not only here but here-

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREES                                             21

 

after, and to point the way which leads to the greatest good both in this life and in the life to come. Our ceremonies and symbols, while beautiful and impressive in and of themselves and incidentally teaching valuable lessons of religion, morality and industry, all cluster around and contribute to this central idea. But it is only when we reflect upon them in relation to this sublime allegory of human life that we are enabled to comprehend them in the fullness of their beauty and grandeur. The Masonic student, therefore, who has never caught this conception of his subject has failed to grasp Freemasonry in its most instructive and important aspect.

 

            Endeavour, therefore, to get clearly in your minds the point we emphasise and which we shall attempt to demonstrate, namely, that every sign, every symbol and every ceremony in the First Degree, in addition to any primary signification it may have, is also designed to illustrate allegorically some moral phase of human existence.

 

            The great German poet, Goethe, says:

 

"The Mason's ways are

A type of existence,

And his persistence

Is as the days are

Of men in this world."

 

We have dwelt at length on this thought just because it is not otherwise possible adequately to explain any part of the Masonic system.

 

 

DEFINITION OF MASONRY

 

A more beautiful, a more accurate, or a more comprehensive definition of Freemasonry never has and never will be given in so few words than that it is "A system

 

 

22                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

of Morality veiled in Allegory and illustrated by Symbols." 3

 

It is truly a SYSTEM. It is not a mere hodge-podge of rules, maxims and precepts thrown together without order or design, as ignorant Masons so often suppose.

 

            It is a system of MORALITY. The word morality in its first and broadest sense, "the doctrine of the right and wrong in human conduct," (Standard Dictionary) covers the whole field.

 

            It is veiled in ALLEGORY. Rightly understood the whole system is an elaborate allegory of human life. An allegory is a departure from the direct mode of speaking in which the real subject is not mentioned by name but is more or less thinly veiled, though not hidden, beneath figures of speech.

 

            It is illustrated by SYMBOLS. What might otherwise be unintelligible in the allegory is made plain by the symbols accompanying it. The meanings of most of these symbols, though sometimes forgotten and hence not obvious, may be ascertained by study and reflection.

 

            In our view two other facts may be regarded as setting a limit in a loose sort of way to the meaning of Masonic symbols. One is that Masonry is derived from an operative society; the other that the symbols are obviously designed to teach moral and religious truths., We must conclude, therefore, that to our ancient brethren they meant and were designed to teach moral and religious truths of the need of which they were conscious. These are such only as would appeal to a man of practical common sense. It is folly to talk of these symbols meaning the same to them that they have meant at times to societies of philosophers and mystics. These additional meanings may be just as true and legitimate, but they are not Masonic meanings. The rule we have just laid down is

 

            3 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 10

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                23

 

general enough to admit of opinions different enough as to any symbol. Reliance must at last be placed largely upon a liberal measure of common sense. One fact is undoubted and that is that Speculative Freemasonry is a development from the operative Masons' guilds of former times. But when this change began or when it became complete are points of controversy. When we come to consider the time and manner, when and how the separation occurred there is very great uncertainty. Without attempting to state the evidence on which the conclusion is based, it is generally agreed that certainly as early as A.D. 1600, Speculative Masonry was in existence though still maintaining a sort of connection with the operative craft. Just what this connection then was is not precisely known. The complete divorcement of Speculative from operative Masonry, according to the most reliable authorities, seems to have taken place a few years prior to A.D. 1717. Just here a whole troup of questions begin to press for answer. Whence did the Speculative Masons derive their esoteric, symbolical and philosophical teachings, if not from the operative guilds? If from them, whence and when and how did they in their turn obtain them? And our understanding of the meanings of the Masonic symbols must in a measure wait the answering of these questions. Our present knowledge is not sufficient to enable us to answer them.

 

            Brother Gould has said that one great and pressing duty of Freemasonry was, he thought, to try and recover the lost meanings of many Masonic symbols, and to do this effectually it would be desirable to ascertain whether the symbolism they possessed became theirs by inheritance, or was the accidental product of adoption (or assimilation). If this symbolism was inherited, then the analogous customs of remote antiquity should form the subject of their study and investigation; but if on the

 

 

24                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

           

 

contrary, it was introduced at a comparatively recent date into Freemasonry, then the way it was actually understood by those who introduced it ought to have the first claim upon their attention.4

 

INITIATION

 

Initiation is now, as it has been for countless ages, employed as a symbol of the birth and endless development of the human mind and soul. The Entered Apprentice Degree represents birth and the preparatory stage of life, or in other words, youth; the Fellow Craft represents the constructive stage, or manhood; the Master Mason represents the reflective stage, or old age, death, the resurrection, and the everlasting life. This explanation of the three degrees is briefly given in our lecture on ' the Three Steps delineated on the Master's Carpet.

 

 

THE LODGE

 

Is it true that the lodge symbolically represents the world? We might say to begin with that some have thought the word "lodge" derived from the Sanskrit word "loga," meaning the world. However this may be, our Monitors tell us that the form of a lodge is an "oblong square" from East to West and between North and South, from earth to heaven and from surface to centre. This of course, if it means anything, can mean nothing less than the entire known habitable earth and Masonic scholars universally so interpret it. This meaning was more manifest at the period when Freemasonry is supposed to have had its origin, for the then known world lying around the shores of the Mediterranean sea was literally of the form of an "oblong square." One doubt-

 

4 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 43.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                25

 

ing this may consult any map of the ancient world, especially that of Comas Indicopleustes of the sixth century or that of Strabo A.D. 18.

 

            Dudley, in his Naology (p. 7), says that the idea that the earth was a level surface and of a square form may be justly supposed to have prevailed generally in the early ages of the world. It is certain that down to a comparatively recent date it was believed that beyond a certain limit northward life was impossible because of the darkness and cold, and likewise that beyond a certain limit southward it was impossible because of the blinding glare and intense heat of the sun. It was even supposed that in the farthest South the earth was yet molten. The biblical idea was that the earth was square. Isaiah (xi, 12) speaks of gathering "the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth": and in the Apocalypse (xx, 9) is the vision of "four angels standing on the four corners of the earth."

 

So thoroughly grounded were these beliefs that in ancient times the "square," now the recognised symbol of the lodge, was the recognised symbol of the earth, as the circle was of the sun. In this antiquated expression "oblong square," we therefore have not only an apt description of the ancient world and evidence that the lodge is symbolical thereof,5 but also a remarkable evidence of the great age of Freemasonry. It tends strongly to date our institution back to the time when the human mind conceived the earth to be a plane surface and was ignorant of its spherical character.

 

            Likewise the lodge, which is sometimes defined as "the place where Masons work," symbolises the world or the place where all men work.

 

            Again, its covering is said to be a clouded canopy or

 

 

 5 Universal Cyclopedia, "Rome," Vol. X; The Times Atlas, Plate II; Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, 101.

 

 

26                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

starry decked heaven, a description that could have not the slightest application to anything else but the world.

 

            If the lodge symbolises the world and the Mason symbolises man, it follows that initiation must symbolise the introduction of the individual into the world, or the birth of the child. It was so regarded in the ancient systems of initiation and is now so understood by Masonic scholars everywhere. It is the least important view to consider it merely as the method of admitting one to membership in a Society.

 

            The preparation of the candidate and the plight in which he is admitted an Entered Apprentice strikingly typifies the helpless, destitute, blind and ignorant condition of the newly born babe. But initiation means more than this; by all the authorities it is agreed to by a symbolical representation of the process by which not only the child had been brought into existence and educated into a scholarly and refined man but that by which the race has been brought out of savagery and barbarism into civilisation.

 

            The state in which a candidate enters an Entered Apprentice lodge fittingly typifies the barbaric, not to say savage, state in which man originally moved when he knew not the use of metals and out of which he has been brought to his present condition. It is precisely this that has led to the application of the term "barbarian" to the uninitiated. On this point, we quote Brother Albert Pike again; he says:

 

PREPARATION

 

"In that preparation of the candidate which symbolises the condition of the Aryan race especially in its infancy, he represents the condition of the race

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                27

 

when there were no manufacturers and the fabrics of the loom were unknown, when men dressed in the skins of animals, and, when the heat made these a burden, were hardly clothed at all. He represents their blindness of ignorance, even of the most useful arts, and altogether of divine truths; and that in which the number 3 appears, the bonds in which they were held of their sensual appetites, their passions that were their masters, anger, revenge, hatred, and all the evil kindred of these; and their superstitious fears."

 

The preparation of the candidate is symbolical of that equality of all men which is one of the fundamental doctrines of our society. He is stripped of everything that indicates any difference in fashion, station or wealth. All evidences of artificial distinctions are obliterated. The onlooker could not tell whether he is a prince or a pauper, a millionaire or a beggar. On the other hand, he is not deprived of any of those qualities of heart, mind, or character which mark the real superiority of one man over another. From the very beginning of initiation he is urged to make the utmost use of these in an effort to excel in all that is noble and worthy.

 

            A little study and reflection will show that every Masonic symbol has an apt application not only to the moral and intellectual life history of the individual but also to that of the race considered collectively. Biologists tell us that this parallel between the individual and the race holds good in the material realm and that in the physical growth and development of every child from the moment of its conception till it is a fully grown man, there is epitomised the history of the evolutionary development of the race through all the ages that have passed. However this may be, it is certain that an exact parallel does exist between the moral and intellectual growth of the

 

 

28                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

child and the process which history indicates the race as a whole has passed through.

 

 

SECRECY

 

One of the very first lessons taught the candidate and impressed upon him symbolically and in an unforgettable manner is the duty of secrecy.

 

            The secret signs, tokens, and words, which usually excite the greatest curiosity among the uninitiated, are in fact the least important parts of Freemasonry. All understand this who have ever passed through the solemn ceremony of being raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. Still they are not without their value. They are a protection against impostors; they are a passport to the attention and assistance of the initiated everywhere. They have stayed the uplifted hand of the destroyer; they have arrested the despoiler of female virtue; they have softened the asperities of the tyrant; they have subdued the rancor of the malevolent and broken down the barriers of political animosity and religious intolerance. May our secrets be forever preserved inviolate!

 

But the chief value of this lesson lies in the fact that few persons are able to keep a secret. It is a priceless but rare virtue, and yet one where little effort is made to teach or practise it. If Masonry could do no more than train its membership to preserve sacredly (except where a higher duty commands disclosure) the secrets of others confided to them, it would have done a great work and one which alone would entitle it to a continued existence. The ancients so prized this virtue that they allotted a god to it. It is said of Aristotle that, when asked what thing appeared to him most difficult of performance, he replied, "To be secret and silent." I fear we moderns would more nearly deify the gossip.

 

 

                                                            THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                29

 

The ancient symbol of secrecy is a finger laid acros the lips.

 

            The manner of the candidate's reception is symbolical of the pricks of a violated conscience for any departure from those injunctions of secrecy and virtue laid upon them in the course of initiation. Rites similar to our own at this point were in vogue among the ancients.

 

 

 

TOOL SYMBOLS

 

One of the things first noticed in the Entered Apprentice Degree and continued throughout all the degrees is the employment of the tools of the operative Mason as emblems of moral qualities. This peculiarity of Freemasonry is well known even to outsiders.      

 

Brother George Fleming Moore, former editor of "The New Age" and Past Sovereign Grand Commander, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, declares that it is clear that the ancient Chinese philosophers used our present Masonic symbols "in almost precisely the same sense in which they are used by us in modern Freemasonry." 6 The tools with which men labour are not inappropriate for use as moral symbols: they are neither humble nor trivial. They are worthy emblems of the highest and noblest virtues. Tools have performed an astonishing part in civilising and enlightening mankind. They are one of the few things that distinctly mark man as immeasurably superior to the other animals. Some scientists have even contended that it is alone man's ability to fashion and use tools that has raised him above the level of the brute creation. But radical as this view must be, it cannot be denied by any thoughtful man that the use of tools has been one of the chief instrumentalities in all

 

6 "The New Age," Vol. XVII, p. 283.

 

 

30                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

human progress, not only material but mental and spiritual. Without tools we could not till the soil, or work the mines, or reduce the metal; we could enjoy only the rudest shelters; and all the creations of art which appeal to our spiritual natures would be impossible. The very stages of human advancement are named from the char- acter of the tools that were employed during them; thus, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, etc.

 

            Some students suppose the first great achievement of man in his progress from savagery to civilisation to have been the development of articulate speech; the second, the discovery of the uses of fire; the third, they believe to have been the invention of a tool, namely, the bow and arrow. But doubtless this was preceded by the discovery of the use of the club even if the club did not precede the development of speech, as has been the case with the great anthropoid apes. Pottery, another class of utensils, they hold to have been the fourth; the domestication of animals, the fifth; and the discovery of the manufacture and use of iron, the sixth. The seventh was the art of writing which also involved the use of a tool. Thus we see that four, perhaps five, epoch-making strides of savage and barbaric man had to do with the use of tools.

 

            With civilised man, the case has been even more striking. Among his early discoveries or inventions were gunpowder, the mariner's compass, the manufacture of paper, and printing with movable type. Another was the demonstration by Copernicus (1530) that the earth revolves on an axis and that the sun does not daily make a circuit around her. The steam engine, machines for weaving and spinning, apparatus for generating and utilising the boundless possibilities of electricity, the gasoline engine and the flying machine are all achievements made possible by the invention and use of new tools. And it must be remembered that the discovery of Copernicus,

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                31

 

was rendered possible only through the use of another tool. To the Psalmist the heavens declared the glory of God's handiwork, but a thousand times more solemnly and impressively do they now disclose it through the medium of the telescope. It was nothing less than an inspiration that prompted our ancient brethren to symbolise the tools with which they produced those creations of art and architecture whose sight causes our breasts to heave with the highest emotions of which we are capable.

 

            Professor Henry Smith Williams,7 after pointing out the many material advantages involved in the use of tools, says that we must not "overlook the esthetic influence of edged implements." And then what must be said of the tools that make our music? If there is a glimpse of heaven obtainable on earth, it is in the wonderful art made possible through our marvellous musical instruments.

 

            How our various working tools acquired the particular symbolical meanings we now attach to them we do not always know. In some instances we know that they have borne them for ages.

 

            At any rate, it is with peculiar fitness that the material tools, which contribute so essentially to the building and the beautifying of the material structure, should be made to symbolise those virtues which are so essential to the building and beautifying of human character, that moral and spiritual building not reared with hands.

 

            It is by the use of tools that the architect designs, erects, and adorns the building. So also is it that by the practice of the moral, intellectual and religious virtues human character is perfected. In a system, therefore, where a perfect building is made to symbolise the perfect character, it is not surprising but is altogether appropriate that the

 

 7 Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. VI, p.404

 

 

 

32                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

tools which produce the one should symbolise the virtues which make the other.

 

 

THE TWENTY-FOUR INCH GAUGE

 

is a symbol of time but not in the sense, as we learn in the Third Degree, that the scythe symbolises time. The scythe denotes the fleetness of time and the brevity of all things human, while the Twenty-four Inch Gauge typifies time well spent. It teaches us the value of our time, that time wasted can never be regained, that it is a priceless commodity, that there is a time for all things, a time for labour, a time for rest, a time for amusement, a time for worship, and a time for the relief of distress. It is the same lesson so beautifully taught in Ecclesiastes iii, or as redacted by Jastrow in A Gentle Cynic, p. 209:

 

"Everything has its appointed time and there is a time

for every occurrence under the sun.

 

There is a time to be born,

And a time to die,

 There is a time for planting,

And a time for uprooting."

 

In other words, let everything be done in time and in order, so that none of this most valuable gift of God to man shall be wasted. How few of us place an adequate estimate upon the value of our time! Note those who sit around and whittle and chew tobacco.

 

            The gauge being divided into twenty-four inches it naturally, in a system like ours, became the symbol of the twenty-four hours of the day.

 

 

THE COMMON GAVEL,

 

or stonemason's hammer, was the tool with which the apprentice performed those first operations involved in

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                33

 

fitting a stone for its proper place in the building, such as "breaking off the corners of rough stones"; or, as expressed in England (Emulation Working), "to knock off all superfluous knobs and excrescences." It was not adapted to giving polish or ornamentation to the stone and hence it should symbolise only that training of the youth which is designed to give mechanical skill and to divest him of those social habits which characterise man in a state of nature. In Canada, it is said to teach that "labour is the lot of man" and that qualities of heart and head are of limited value "if the hand be not prompt to execute the design" of the master. However, since the chisel has fallen into disuse in the United States and many other countries as a Blue lodge symbol, the symbolism of the Common Gavel has been extended so that it now typifies the enlightening and ennobling effects of training and education in all its various branches.

 

 

THE CHISEL

 

has a symbolism somewhat akin to that of the Common Gavel, or stonemason's hammer.8 The Gavel was used only in the earlier processes of dressing the stone and is not adapted as we have just said to giving it a high polish or ornamentation. It, therefore, symbolises the earlier steps in the education and moral training of the youth. When it is desired to give a higher finish to the stone or to give it an ornamental shape or to engrave designs upon it, the Chisel was and still is brought into play. The Chisel, therefore, symbolises those advanced studies and trainings which give a man polish and refinement and fit him for the highest stations in life. In the United States, the Chisel is practically obsolete in Blue Masonry but it reappears in the beautiful Mark Master's Degree where it

 

8 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 30.

 

 

34                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

           

 

is said to "demonstrate the advantages of discipline and education." In England (Emulation Working), it is said to "point out to us the advantages of education by which means alone we are rendered fit members of regularly organised society." In Canada, it is said to teach that "nothing short of indefatigable exertion can induce the habit of virtue, enlighten the mind, and render the soul pure." We regard it as a distinct loss to Blue lodge symbolism in the United States that the Chisel has been surrendered to Capitular Masonry. Its proper place is in the Fellow Craft Degree, from which many believe the Mark Master Degree to have been originally taken.

 

           

THE KEY

 

has a beautiful symbolism familiar to English Masons but unknown to us. It symbolises the tongue and teaches us that it should always be ready to speak in a brother's defence and "never lie to his prejudice." Emulation Working (English) gives this charge: "That excellent key, a Freemason's tongue, which should speak well of a brother absent or present,—and when unfortunately that can not be done with honour and propriety, should adopt that excellent virtue of the Craft which is Silence."  

 

 

SOLOMON'S TEMPLE

 

A symbol which appears early in this Degree and recurs in many subsequent degrees and rites is that of Solomon's Temple. If building symbolises the developing of the human mind and character, nothing is more logical than

 

 9 Emulation Working, Lectures of the Three Degrees, etc. (Lewis, 1896), pp. 8, 9.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                35

 

that the most perfect building known should be chosen as the symbol of a perfect character. But in this connection it is often asked why was not the Parthenon, or the Pantheon, or the temple of Zeus at Athens chosen for this symbol. Two answers are possible:

 

First; a tradition has prevailed since long before the birth of Christ that the Temple of Solomon was the most artistic and the most highly wrought structure ever erected by man.

 

            Second; if Masonry had its origin at the time and under the circumstances claimed by our traditions, namely, at the building of the Temple, it would be inevitable that Solomon's Temple should be chosen as this symbol.

 

            Of course historians laugh at this claim, but historians have laughed at many things which have turned out to be true. Without assuming to assert that it is true, we desire to point out what is at least a plausible hypothesis underlying this tradition. Many Masonic writers have maintained apparently with reason that earlier than a thousand years before Christ, the priests of Dionysus, or Bacchus, devoting themselves to architecture in the erection of their temples, had founded the "Fraternity of Dionyian Architects"; that these in course of time spread throughout Asia Minor and Phoenicia and gradually acquired the exclusive privilege of erecting the temples and the public buildings. It is supposed by them that Hiram, King of Tyre, whom we know to have been the erector of great buildings, Hiram Abif and the Tyrians, who were sent to assist King Solomon in the building of his Temple, were members of this fraternity. Granted the existence of such buildings as King Hiram erected, they can scarcely be accounted for except by supposing the existence of a society of builders who erected them. If such a society existed in Phcenicia at that date it would be remarkable if Hiram Abif and the other Tyrian artificers were not members of it, and

 

 

36                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

it would naturally follow that at least the skilled workmen on Solomon's Temple would be similarly organised.

 

            A corroborating circumstance of our Temple tradition is that precisely at the time of Solomon, Judah was the most powerful and Phoenicia the most enlightened artistically and commercially of all the nations of the world, This was many centuries before the ascendancy of Greece and a thousand years before Rome extended her possessions beyond Italy. Solomon's Temple antedates the earliest known remains of historic Greek architecture by nearly 300 years. Archaeology thus corroborates the claim of both Biblical and Masonic tradition that down to its time no building had been erected equal to it in splendour and beautiful finish." Its construction naturally called in requisition the Tyrians, they being neighbours and the most finished artisans of the time. The secret society "habit" was quite as common among men then as it is now. Their long association together and their pride in such a great work would just as naturally lead them to form themselves into a society, as like motives led the soldiers of our Revolutionary and Civil Wars to form patriotic societies. We have seen that there were already in existence and at hand secret societies which needed only a slight modification to make them much like what our traditions say Masonry then was.

 

            The probabilities all favour the conclusion that the Temple was built by a society of masons. Nor is there anything incredible in the theory that Solomon who was prosecuting this work, and Hiram, King of Tyre, whose subjects many of the builders were, condescended to honour the society with their patronage and favour, thus linking their names with the tradition.

 

            In seven years, this bond would become quite strong;

 

10 Universal Cyclopedia, p. 428; I Ibid., p. 290; 9 Ibid., p. 8; Tramslatiotss, Lodge of Research, No. 2429, Leicester, 1907-o8, p. 139.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                37

 

upon their dispersion every little group would continue to feel this tie of sympathy and to take pride in their great achievement, with the result that organisations having the same or similar traditions would spring up in various parts. The idea would soon become prevalent among all bodies of masons that their ancient brethren erected the Temple.

 

            At any rate, it is clear that in the ancient Mysteries, Solomon found ready-formed institutions which with slight changes were admirably adapted to the creation and cultivation of a bond of union and sympathy among the workmen on the Temple, which would tend to make them more efficient, skilful and zealous and which would greatly expedite the work. There is nothing, therefore, inherently improbable in the assumption that Solomon with his wisdom and knowledge of human nature would turn the existing religious associations of his time to his use in accomplishing his great and holy undertaking.

 

            This assumption does not imply that all the skilled artisans then in the world were employed in the building of the Temple or that Freemasonry descended from those alone who were thus employed. The number, however, must have been sufficiently great that the tradition soon gained currency among all the building classes throughout the then-known world that the erection of the Temple was due to their predecessors in the craft. Thus may we rationally account for this tradition among us without insisting upon its historical accuracy.

 

 

MODESTY OF TRUE CHARACTER

 

We are told that in the building of Solomon's Temple there was not heard the sound of any tool of iron. It is a well authenticated historical fact that the Jews, not to mention other ancient peoples, believed that an iron tool

 

 

38                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

was polluting to an altar to Deity. Hence, in the days of Moses, the laws prescribed that in erecting an altar of stone to Jehovah no iron tool should be employed upon it. The work of erecting the Temple, therefore, went on noiselessly but with speed and perfection.       - This tradition, besides being borne out by the known facts of Hebrew history, has a beautiful symbolism. It is this: the erection and adornment of the moral and spiritual temple in which we are engaged, that of human character, and of which Solomon's was typical, is not characterised by the clang of noisy tools. About true character building there is nothing of bluster and show; it is a silent, noiseless process. It is the empty vessel that makes the greatest sound.

 

 

HALE

 

A certain sign is called the hale or hele frequently misspelled hail. The term is commonly understood even by Masons to mean accost or salute, but such is not its mean ing at all. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon helots and means to cover or conceal." The English word heal, for example the healing of a wound or the healing of a Mason, is derived from the same word and primarily signifies to cover. The hale, therefore, has the same Masonic signification as due guard and is intended to impress upon us the value of caution, a virtue so few men possess.

 

 

TILE, TILER, TYLER

 

These words so common in and so peculiar to Freemasonry have a use and meaning similar to hale. They derive from the word tile, used in covering houses. To tile a house is to cover it; one who puts the tiles on a

 

11 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 63.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                39

 

house, who tiles it, is called a tiler. Therefore, to cover a lodge, to protect it against intrusion, is to tile it; the officer who does this is called the tiler. The correct spelling is undoubtedly tiler and not tyler. In a symbolical system like ours the tiler (coverer) of a building would naturally become symbolically the tiler (coverer, protector) of the lodge.

 

 

DUE GUARD

 

is another etymological puzzle. From what it is derived or its literal signification no one knows. It is of exclusively Masonic use. The statement is often met with that it is an Americanism and that it is unknown in England. But Brother W. J. Songhurst, the capable Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, takes issue with this statement and says the expression is known in the British Isles and that it is a corruption of the French Dieu me garde (God protect me). With us it is intended to teach care, caution and circumspection, and especially a careful regard for the injunctions of secrecy contained in the several obligations.

 

 

CABLE TOW

 

The candidate is early introduced to the cable tow. We have seen that his introduction into the Entered Apprentice lodge is symbolical of birth. Among the Hindus, the Brahmans wear a sacred cord symbolising the second birth which they profess. The cable tow thus has in Masonry what we might term its primary allusion. It has, however, a deeper symbolism. The word is not found in most of our dictionaries; it is characteristically Masonic. Its obvious literal meaning is the cable or cord by which something is towed or drawn. Hence with the

 

 

40                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

greatest aptness it represents those forces and influences which have conducted not only the individual, but the human race out of a condition of ignorance and darkness into one of light and knowledge. With symbolical meanings of this kind the cord seems to have been employed in many, if not all, of the ancient systems of initiation. The explanation of the cable tow given in our lecture is its least important meaning.

 

            About this term and the connection in which it is used     in our ritual there is a flavour of the sea. Whence could we have inherited it? Probably not from the Jews, who were not a seafaring people. Tradition, however, connects with our Fraternity the Phoenicians who were the greatest sailors of the ancient world. May it not be that in this term we have preserved another evidence that our traditions are not altogether unfounded? Dr. George Oliver in his Theocratic Philosophy of Masonry tells us that in the ancient mysteries the neophyte was bound with a chain and that the chain was symbolical of the penance imposed on every candidate for initiation by his confinement in the pastos. He says that the phrase, "he submitted to the chain," implied that "he had endured the rigours of preparation and initiation with patience and fortitude." 12

 

 

DISCALCEATION

 

It is very true that the plucking off of one's shoes is an ancient Israelitish custom adopted among Masons. It was employed among the Jews as a pledge of fidelity of one man to another. Such is the symbolism of it in the Entered Apprentice Degree. It has another meaning with which we are not concerned here, but which is brought out in the Master Mason Degree.

 

            12 Oliver, Theocratic Philosophy of Masonry, Lecture VI.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                41

 

CIRCUMAMBULATION

 

A certain ceremony, the candidate is told, was intended to signify to him that "at a time when he could neither foresee nor prevent danger he was in the hands of a true, and trusty friend in whose fidelity he could with safety confide." This has a literal meaning very applicable to the candidate's then condition, but if we regard the candidate as we should, as man pursuing the journey of life, the symbolical signification of this ceremony becomes truly profound. We all grope in the dark from the moment we are born till we are laid upon the bier. In our moments of apparently greatest security we often to our astonishment afterwards find that we were in the very presence of death. The sinking of the Titanic or the Lusitania was but one of thousands of proofs of this truth. The winds, the lightnings, the floods and the fires destroy us without warning. With all our boasted wisdom and foresight we can not see an inch into the future. But every man is in the hands of a true and trusty friend in whose fidelity he can with safety confide. He needs but do his part to the best he knows and may then rest confident that our All-Father will take care of the results in a manner befitting an all-wise and all-loving Creator. This is what the Mason means by Faith.

 

 

UPRIGHT

 

In Eastern countries (and formerly in Western countries) the inferior approaches the superior, the servant the master, the subject the sovereign, in an abased or grovelling manner, oftentimes with the face averted as though it were insolence to look directly upon the august presence. Not so in Masonry; the candidate is taught to approach the East, with his face to the front, walking

 

 

42                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

erect as a man should walk. This attitude is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the other animals. A few animals can feebly imitate it, but only on occasion and then haltingly. Nothing adds more to a man's self-respect and strength of character than to walk erect, holding the head well up and looking the world and every man squarely in the face. You may experience a feeling of sorrow or sympathy for the man who appears before you with a cringing or abject bearing, but with this feeling there is mingled contempt. This idea we have turned into a terse though vulgar apothegm, "Hold your head up if you die hard." We promptly suspect the integrity of the man who can not look us squarely in the eye.

 

            Freemasonry teaches that all men are and of right ought to be free; that, therefore, no man should abase or humiliate himself before another. But this manly, erect attitude which the candidate is taught to assume has the same symbolism as the plumb. It teaches that we should always walk upright in our several stations before God and man.

 

 

APPROACHING THE EAST

 

The East has long been deemed the region of knowledge and enlightenment. Undoubtedly this idea sprang from the fact that it is in the East that the orb of light makes his appearance after the darkness of the night. In the East darkness, therefore, appears to take flight before the presence of light. Hence to "approach the East" in our symbolic language means to seek enlightenment and knowledge. Masons are said to travel from West to East and in Preston's lectures and other more recent Monitors the question is asked, "What induced you to leave the

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                43

 

West and travel to the East?" The answer is "In search of a master and from him to gain instruction." The West is the region where light at the close of the day seems to be engulfed in darkness. Hence, symbolically it was regarded as a region of ignorance. In the Egyptian religions, it was deemed the region of the dead, so that one who had died was said to have "gone West." This same expression became common among the soldiers during the World War.

 

            This idea that the East is the region of knowledge and the West that of ignorance finds historical basis in the indisputable fact that civilisation first arose in the East and for many ages all seekers after knowledge were actually compelled to travel toward the East.

 

 

 

THE DIGNITY OF MAN

 

"What Is Man, That Thou Art Mindful of Him?"

Psalms viii, 4

 

What does Freemasonry teach on this subject? What does it not teach? It does not teach, in the canting phrase of some religionists, that man is a worm. It does not teach that he is nothing or insignificant.

 

            It is by being a Man (not a mere male of the genus homo), that the candidate makes his request for initiation.

 

There is a school of philosophy which teaches that man is a small, insignificant factor in nature, and that human life is mean and contemptible. In our view it is not so. If we omit consideration of his anatomy and physiology as no more wonderful than the anatomy and physiology of the other animals, what shall we say of his mind? What shall we say of that other man, the so-called subconscious self, with which the latest and leading psychol-

 

 

44                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

ogists now invest him? And lastly, what shall we say of the soul which we so fondly believe he possesses? No one has yet fathomed the depths of these or any other one of the attributes of man. Away with the philosophy which teaches that man is of little moment in the universe; notwithstanding his diminutive size he is the biggest thing in the world. There is nothing ludicrous or incongruous that a spark of Deity himself should come to dwell for a season in this wonderful creature. The more careful should we be that we do not dishonour it.

 

 

THE BIBLE

 

The Bible is one of the Great Lights, is one of the items of Furniture, and rests upon the top of the Two Parallel Lines. No lodge with us should be opened without its presence. Still it is but a symbol; it represents divine truth in every form, whether in the form of the written word, or in that referred to by the Psalmist when he sings:

 

"The Heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Day unto day uttereth speech,

And night unto night showeth knowledge."

Psalms xix, I.

 

            But the shadow must not be mistaken for the substance. There is nothing sacred or holy in the mere book. It is only ordinary paper, leather, and ink. Its workmanship may be much inferior to that of other books. It is what it typifies that renders it sacred to us. Any other book having the same signification would do just as well. For this reason the Hebrew Mason may with perfect propriety use the Old Testament alone, or the Mohammedan

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                45

 

may, as has been done, employ the Koran in his lodge. In fact that book should be used which to the individual in question most fully represents divine truth." We are quite well aware that many Masons and a few Grand Lodges maintain that Masonry requires of its initiates a belief in the teachings of the Bible. If these brethren are correct, then a belief in some part only is not exacted but a belief in every part, both of history and doctrine. Once concede that any exception can be made and their whole contention falls to the ground because it then becomes the right and duty of every Mason to decide for himself what is required and what is not. So let us assume that belief in every part is required. It is necessary, therefore, in any case only to ascertain what the Bible teaches to know what Masonry requires.

 

            We quickly find that, in the opinion of some, the Bible teaches that Man fell from a state of perfection in which he was originally created into one of corruption for physically eating a forbidden fruit, but at the same time we find that others equally honest believe that this story is an allegory and each side supports its contention with eloquence, learning and zeal, not to say warmth. Which view does Masonry demand that we believe that the Bible teaches? Some believe the Bible teaches that because of Man's sinfulness the whole world was covered by a flood; others again believe that this too is an allegory. Which does Masonry require us to believe? Is one who is sceptical as to the reality of such a flood ineligible to Masonry? The Bible teaches most explicitly (as at least many think) that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God, that His conception was immaculate, that He was born of a virgin, that He was crucified, was dead and buried, that He lay in the tomb three days, that He descended into hell,

 

            13 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p.11

 

 

46                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

that He arose from the dead, that He ascended into heaven, that He now sits at the right hand of God, that at the last day He will come to judge the quick and the dead, that through Him and Him only can Man be saved to a future life of happiness. The Jew, the Hindu, the Parsee, the Mohammedan, the Chinaman, the Japanese do not believe any part of this. Are each and all of these barred from Masonry?

 

The Primitive Baptist believes that the Bible teaches "foot-washing" is a duty; other churches think not. What does Masonry say? The Baptist and others believe that the Bible teaches a single mode of baptism, immersion; others think it teaches not only this but sprinkling and pouring. With which does Masonry agree or rather require its members to agree?

 

Some believe that the Bible teaches that the resurrection is a resurrection of the flesh; others that it teaches that the resurrection body is a spiritual body. Which does Masonry think it teaches? Or rather which does it require its devotees to believe that it teaches? Roman Catholics believe that the Bible teaches that the Pope of Rome is the vicegerent of Christ upon earth, that he can grant indulgences and forgive sins; others ridicule these ideas. What says Masonry?

 

Maybe the brethren and Grand Lodges to whom we refer will counter by saying Masonry does not descend to particulars but only requires its initiates to believe those fundamental teachings of the Bible concerning which all good men agree. Some have actually tried to dodge in this way. When they do they abandon their original position which was that a belief in all the teachings of the Book is required. We dare assert that neither the Constitution, Regulations, nor Ritual of any Grand Lodge in the world requires a belief in the teachings of the Bible unless it be the Masonry of Scandinavian Europe. When

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                47

 

we say that the Bible is "the rule and guide to our faith" we mean that what it typifies, Truth, should be the rule and guide to all our beliefs, thoughts, words and actions.

 

            Some Masons and Grand Lodges (notably Tennessee) insist that one to be entitled to recognition as a Mason must specifically acknowledge God's "inspired word," or, as one distinguished Mason expresses it, a Mason may "believe as he pleases so long as he believes in one true and living God and accepts the Holy Bible as His divine teachings and His revealed will." These brethren thus broadly commit themselves to the Christian doctrine of inspiration of the Bible. Would they compel Jewish Masons to believe this of the New Testament? Jews do not even believe that all of the Old Testament is inspired. But a further question is, What theory of inspiration would they compel belief in, (1) that of mechanical dictation or verbal inspiration, or (2) that of dynamic influence or degrees of inspiration, or (3) that of essential inspiration, or (4) that of vital inspiration? For theologians have contended for each of these. Do these zealous brethren recognise Thomas Aquinas' distinction between direct and indirect inspiration? Are the Hebrew Masons to be allowed to accept the "descending scale of inspiration" taught by the Jewish rabbis, namely, superintendence, elevation, direction, suggestion? Any one who will make a little study of this doctrine of inspiration will soon realise on what treacherous sands of theological dogma Masonry will find itself should it ever attempt to enforce belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

 

            There is but one escape from this jungle of dogmatism and that is frankly to acknowledge the Bible to be a symbol only. Those Christian Masons who would enforce belief in the teachings of the Bible have simply mistaken the symbol for the thing itself. The Bible is Masonry's

 

 

 48                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

adopted symbol of Divine Truth in every form, just as the Compasses are its adopted symbol of self-restraint; the Square, of morality; and the Scythe, of time. The Bible symbolises that divine truth or knowledge from whatever source derived, which should always be the rule and guide both to our faith and conduct. Thus viewed there is no reason why any man, whatever be his faith, should object to the Bible on the altar or to being obligated on the Bible. On the other hand, there is no reason why a candidate may not be obligated on that book which is to him the most sacred, the Bible being displayed the while precisely as are the Square and Compasses.

 

APRON

 

We are told that the lambskin or white leather apron, the badge of a Mason, is "more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honourable than the Star and Garter." This sounds a little bombastic, we must admit, yet it is literally true. The Order of the Golden Fleece, which is here referred to, had its origin in A.D. 1429; the Roman Eagle, which was Rome's ensign of imperial power, became distinctively such, according to Pliny, no earlier than the second consulship of Gaius Marius or about 105 years B.C. On the other hand, it is certain that the apron was worn as a badge of honour or sanctity more than a thousand years before Christ. The Garter is confessedly the most illustrious order of knighthood in England, and is historically identified with the chivalry of the Middle Ages. But for this very reason, it, like all the other orders of chivalric knighthood, was, as has been said by high authority, George Gordon Coulton," "hampered by the limitations of mediaeval society." Edward A. Freeman, the great English historian, who

 

14 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. XV, p. 858.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                49

 

has perhaps most nearly defined the spirit and influence of knighthood, says: "The chivalrous spirit is above all things a class spirit. The good knight is bound to endless fantastic courtesies towards men and still more towards women of a certain rank; he may treat all below that rank with any degree of scorn and cruelty. The spirit of chivalry implies the arbitrary choice of one or two virtues to be practised in such an exaggerated degree as to become vices, while the ordinary laws of right and wrong are forgotten. The false code of honour supplants the laws of the commonwealth, the law of God and the eternal principles. Chivalry again in its military aspect not only encourages the love of war for its own sake without regard to the cause for which war is waged, it encourages also an extravagant regard for a fantistic show of personal daring which can not in any way advance the siege or campaign which is going on. Chivalry in short is in morals very much what feudalism is in law. Each substitutes purely personal obligations devised in the interest of an exclusive class, for the more homely duties of an honest man and a good citizen." 15

 

This view presents knighthood as the very antithesis of Freemasonry.

 

            F. W. Cornish presents a somewhat brighter picture of knighthood but says, "Against these (virtues) may be set the vices of pride, ostentation, love of bloodshed, contempt of inferiors; and loose manners.” 16

 

But whether we take the one or the other view, Freeman's or Cornish's, chivalry will not bear comparison with Freemasonry in the nobility of its principles. Let us set against the pictures of Freeman and Cornish the

 

15 Norman Conquest, Vol V, P. 482.

16 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. XV, p. 859.

 

 

50                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

things which Freemasonry stands for. It is in theory at least a vast school urging the study of the liberal arts and sciences which tend to broaden, strengthen and enlighten the mind. But it is much more than this; it is a great society of friends and brothers teaching by precept, and let us hope by example, all those mental and moral virtues which make and adorn character and prepare us to enjoy the blessings not only of this life but of that which is to come. Let us enumerate some of the things that are taught and, by ceremonies peculiar to Freemasonry, are impressed upon the minds and hearts of its initiates. A belief in Deity; the service of God; gratitude for His blessings; reverence and adoration for His holy name; veneration for His word; the duty and efficacy of prayer; the invocation of His aid in every laudable undertaking; faith in Him, hope in immortality; charity to all mankind; the relief of the distressed, particularly the brethren and their families; the cultivation of brotherly love and the protection of the good name of a brother and that of his family and the sanctity of his female relatives; the adornment of the mind and heart; purity of life and rectitude of conduct; the curbing of our desires and passions; living in conformity to the "Great Books" of Nature and Revelation; the practice of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice; the cultivation of habits of patience and perseverance; the eschewing of profanity; love for and loyalty to country; love of truth; devotion and fidelity to trust; the beauty of holiness; the maintenance of secrecy; the observance of caution; the recognition of real merit; the contemplation of wisdom; admiration for strength of body and character; the love of the beautiful in nature and art; the observance of the Sabbath; the promotion of the peace and unity of the brethren; the preservation of liberty of thought, conscience, speech and action; equality before God and the law; the cultivation of   

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                51

 

habits of industry; the certainty of retributive justice; the brevity and uncertainty of this life; the contemplation of death; and the life everlasting after death to those who love God and His creatures and observe His laws. All of these and others we are not privileged to mention here are taught every candidate and are impressed upon his mind by peculiar ceremonies which constitute a part of the arcana of the lodge.

 

            Do you say that all these things may be learned elsewhere with equal thoroughness and equal ease, and that Masonry is therefore a useless institution? We maintain not. The fact that the institution has lived and flourished for so long a period and that it is to-day more powerful in its influence and more general in its dissemination than ever before proves not. It approaches the mind and heart from a direction that enables it to reach and grapple many men whom no other influence can reach, while at the same time it doubles and multiplies many times the power for good of those whom other influences do reach.

 

            Is it, therefore, any exaggeration to say that Freemasonry is more ancient than the Golden Fleece and more honourable than the Star and Garter, or any other order that can be conferred upon its initiate by king, prince, or potentate?

 

The lamb, as stated in our Monitors, has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence. This symbolism is probably traceable not only to the whiteness of its wool but also to its meek and innocent appearance. The Bible, as well as other ancient literature, is full of this symbolism. It was required that the sacrificial lamb should be without spot or blemish, that is, pure white. It is a familiar saying and has been for ages that the lambs shall be separated from the goats. The evil symbolism of the goat is as old as the benignant symbolism of the lamb.

 

 

52                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            In ancient symbolism, the accursed goat of Mendes typified all that was evil. Among the old Greeks and Romans, the god Pan was depicted as half goat, signifying that nature was half evil. Among the early Christians the goat became the prototype of the devil or Satan. It is not surprising, therefore, in a system like ours, employing the lamb as a symbol, that we should also find a debased trace of the goat symbolism, and that we do in the vulgar saying that "riding the goat" accompanies our ceremonies. Of course, this is no longer believed by any one but is probably a transference to Masonry by its enemies of the old belief that the witches employed the goat in their ceremonies.

 

 

WHITE

 

The colours which figure in the symbolism of the first three degrees are white, black and blue. The symbolism of white is obvious, purity or innocence, and it bears this signification in all the degrees and has borne it at all times and among all peoples of which we have any knowledge. To the Jew, the Egyptian, the Greek and the Roman, to the savage, the barbarian and the civilised man it has borne this same meaning. All literature, ancient, mediaeval and modern, is rich with this symbolism. The Bible is full of it. As emblems of this purity and innocence we employ white gloves, white sashes, white rods and white aprons.

 

 

BLACK

 

with us, is a symbol of death and an emblem of mourning. Its symbolism is as obvious and as universal as is that of white. At the funeral of a brother the Deacons carry black rods; and the white rods of the Stewards, all the

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                53

 

furniture carried in the procession, the musical instruments and the Bible are all draped with black. In token of our sorrow we wear a small black ribbon on the coat lapel and drape the lodge in black.

 

 

BLUE

 

symbolises universal friendship and benevolence, but its symbolism is not as obvious and uniform as is that of black and white. To different peoples and at different times and in the different degrees of Masonry it has different meanings. It is, however, distinctly the colour of the first three degrees and they are in consequence known as Blue Masonry. Its symbolism of universal friendship and benevolence it is supposed to derive from the all-embracing nature of the blue vault of heaven which seems to comprehend within its sweep all the visible universe. Blue has a warmth about it which makes it a peculiarly appropriate emblem of that warmth of feeling that goes with friendship and benevolence.

 

 

GLOVES

 

The apprentices to operative Masons have always worn gloves to protect their hands in the handling of the undressed stone. Two hundred years ago, and possibly even later, it was the custom of the Freemasons in England to present the Entered Apprentice candidate with white gloves in much the same manner and with like symbolism as they then and as we now present him with a white apron. This ceremony is still preserved on the continent of Europe and, though the ceremony is abandoned in both England and America, it is still common in England for Masons in all degrees to wear white gloves. They symbolise the same purity of life and recti-

 

 

 54                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

tude of conduct as does the Apron. Yet on the mistaken assumption that Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts did not wear gloves in the time of King Solomon, the Grand Lodge of Alabama recently made an important change in the Master's Degree. Let us hope that this mistake will be speedily corrected.

 

 

DEFINITION OF A LODGE

 

We are told that a lodge is a certain number of Masons duly assembled with the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses. These three properties should indeed always be present, but to the existence of a lodge in its highest sense it is more necessary that there should be present what they symbolise, namely: Truth, Virtue and Self-restraint. Without these there may be the semblance of but no real lodge. Bible, Square and Compasses should be displayed in every opened lodge, not chiefly for their own sake but for what they represent.

 

 

HIGH HILLS AND LOW VALES

 

We are told that our ancient brethren usually held their lodges on high hills or in low vales. This allusion to this custom of antiquity is another hoary lock upon the brow of our symbolism. The explanation given is a very simple and practical one, namely: because they better lent themselves to purposes of secrecy. But there is another and deeper reason. Whatever may be the explanation, it is clear that from the remotest times hills and valleys have been peculiarly venerated by mankind. On the "High Places" the Jews and their neighbours worshipped God; the glens and dales our imagination has populated with the charming "Little People," the sprites, the nymphs, and the fairies of mythology and our nursery

 

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                55

 

tales. The beauty spots of earth are where mountains and valleys succeed each other in greatest profusion. These are they that in all ages have testified to the majesty and glory of God and have stirred our imaginations and inspired our poets. 17

 

 

THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT

 

figured prominently in the early Masonic rituals but in the recent ones it has almost wholly disappeared. Still, among a few old Masons, the expression lingers. In the old rituals, it was mentioned, in conjunction with "high hill" and "low vales," as a place where Masons held their lodges. 18

 

The only mention of this valley in the Bible is in the prophet Joel, (iii, 2, 12,) and is commonly supposed to refer to the deep valley lying between the city of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, through which flows the brook Kidron. Joel records Jehovah as declaring, "I will also gather all nations and will bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage of Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and parted my land," and "Let the heathen be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." The meaning of Jehoshaphat in the Hebrew is "valley of the judgment of God" or, as expressed by Joel (iii, 14), "the valley of decision." The foregoing passages gave rise to the belief, among both Jews and Mohammedans that the valley of Jehoshaphat would be the seat of the last judgment Peculiar sanctity was, therefore, held to attach to it and

 

17 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 2I; Speth, Orientation of Temples, p. 6; U. M. L., Vol. VI, Part II, p. 66.

18 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 21; The Masonic Manual, Jonathan Ashe, Argument X; (U. M. L., Vol. VI, Part II, p. 66).

 

 

56                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

to say that a lodge was held in the valley of Jehoshaphe was to say that it was held on holy ground.

 

            To speak of a lodge "in the valley of Jehoshaphat' had much the same import as when we speak of "a lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem." Jerusalem is a holy city and hence to hold a lodge there is to hold it on holy ground.

 

 

UNTEMPERED MORTAR

 

We are taught never to daub with untempered mortar, a thing indeed which the operative mason should never do, but this saying is meaningless to us unless we understand its symbolical signification. For the operative mason to use untempered mortar is for him to begin his work without proper preparation. The admonition, therefore, never to daub with untempered mortar is to teach us that we should never undertake any task without due preparation whether that task be mechanical or mental. More poor jobs and more failures in life result from insufficient preparation than from any other one cause, if not from all other causes combined.

 

            Time spent in preparation for a given task or for one's life work in general is not lost; it could not be more profitably employed; it will in the years to come be found to be "bread cast upon the waters."

 

 

WISDOM, STRENGTH AND BEAUTY

 

We are told in our Monitors that our institution is supported by three great pillars, Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, because there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings. The lodge whose members are characterised by wisdom to plan with judgment, strength to resist evil tendencies and influences, and by the beauty

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                57

 

of brotherly love and charity is sure to prosper. Nothing more is needed to give it success. Truly may. it be said that these three attributes support our institution and with equal truth may it be said that they support all other institutions and creations.

 

            Infinite wisdom planned and formed this universe, omnipotent strength hurls the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars, through space at speeds we cannot conceive, and yet holds each in its accustomed orbit with such inerrancy that astronomers can now calculate the position of each thousand of years hence, while a beauty which poets have for ages in vain attempted to express completes the work. In short, wisdom, strength and beauty sum up the universe in three words.

 

            Wisdom, strength and beauty make a perfect building. There must be wisdom to plan and execute; this gives to the structure convenience and utility. There must be strength to support; this gives to the building firmness and durability. There must be beauty to adorn; this gives that which pleases and appeals to man's moral and esthetic taste. There may be wisdom and strength but without beauty the result is, as has been truly observed, mere construction or at most a piece of engineering. It may be admirable, even wonderful, but without beauty it is not architecture. There may be beauty, but if there is not wisdom of plan and execution or if there be not strength to resist the processes of decay the result is a disappointment. Who, that visited the Chicago Exposition in 1893 and viewed that dream of beauty, was not saddened by the thought that there was no strength there? These three essentials of architecture, Vitruvius, the noted architect who flourished shortly before Christ, enumerates as Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas, which is to say stability, utility and beauty. 19

 

19 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. II, p. 370.

 

 

58                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            So of man. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty make a perfect man. How often have we said with a sigh "that is a beautiful woman," or "that man is a beautiful character, but there is neither wisdom nor strength." This beauty may be so great as to be lovely or be even admirable but there is no perfection.

 

            On the other hand, how sad, how inexpressibly sad, when we behold a man with a great mind and a great body and yet no beauty of character; a soul in which there is selfishness instead of sympathy, cruelty instead of kindness, hate and bitterness instead of love and charity! When to beauty of heart and person and character you add wisdom to plan and strength to execute, weighing down all evil opposition, we have what may truly be called "the noblest work of God." Nothing can be added to wisdom, strength and beauty in either a building or in a man, unless it be more wisdom, more strength and greater beauty.

 

            Wisdom and Beauty early became subjects of philosophical study and disquisition. Among the Greeks "Wisdom" was regarded as 'the knowledge of the cause and origin of things; among the Jews, it was regarded as knowing how to live in order to get the greatest possible good out of this life. Neither Greek nor Hebrew philosophy seems to have concerned itself greatly about a future life. This subject was productive among the Jews of the Book of Wisdom, which has been pronounced by Dr. Crawford H. Toy, as "the most brilliant production of pre-Christian Hebrew philosophical thought." The Greeks boasted a vast body of "Wisdom literature," as it is called. So, Beauty gave rise to a body of philosophical thought called Esthetics. The earliest writers on this subject, as on so many others, were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates thought it resolvable into the useful and as not existing independently of a percipient

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                59

 

mind. Plato took the contrary view on each point. Aristotle made great advance on both and defined certain essential elements of beauty which have since been generally accepted. All agree that the purest of our pleasures arise from the contemplation of the beautiful and that the effect is chastening and elevating. Freemasonry combines this philosophy with both the Greek and the Hebrew ideas of Wisdom, as a topic worthy of philosophical study. With us, as we shall see in the Third Degree, the conception of Wisdom is extended beyond what either the Greek or Hebrews understood by it and embraces the search for knowledge of the future.

 

            Strength was greatly prized by the Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, and among them was regarded as one of the attributes of Deity. Both Samuel and Joel acclaim Jehovah as the Strength of Israel. Job (xii, 13) declares "With him is wisdom and strength"; while David (Psalms cvi, 6) sings, "Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." But the Preacher (Ecclesiastes ix, 16) with a truer appreciation declares that "wisdom is better than strength." Examples could be multiplied indefinitely from the old Bible of the high esteem in which the Jews held these three Masonic qualities.

 

 

THE COVERING OF THE LODGE

 

The covering of the lodge is said to be a clouded canopy or starry decked heaven. The appropriateness of this symbol is striking when we regard the lodge as emblematic of the world, for such is literally at all times the covering of the earth. Equally true, in the literal sense, was this description when lodges were held in the open air, as we are assured and as seems probable they were. In the earliest temples erected by man for the worship of God there was no roof, the only covering being the sky. To

 

 

 60                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

them also this description holds good. This fact may give additional point and meaning to the statement that our lodges extend from earth to heaven. Later, when temples were covered and our lodges began to be held in closed rooms, it was customary to decorate the ceiling with a blue canopy spangled with stars. This starry decked heaven, when now exhibited in our lodge rooms, either on the ceiling or on our charts, or master's carpets, is obviously reminiscent of the real canopy of heaven with which anciently our lodges were in fact covered, and is symbolical of that abode of the blessed which is universally regarded as located in the sky."

 

 

THE ORNAMENTS OF THE LODGE

 

The ornaments of the lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel and the Blazing Star; that is to say its floor, the margin thereof, and the stars with which its ceiling are or should be decorated. Does this symbolism hold good when applied to the earth? It does most perfectly. To the beholder the visible part of the earth appears as surface, horizon and sky. The surface of the earth, if viewed from above checkered with fields and forests, mountains and plains, hills and valleys, land and- waters, would be found to look very much like a pavement of Mosaic work. A few miles up it would seem almost as delicate. The horizon, that mysterious region that separates land and sky, earth and heaven, where the heavenly bodies appear and disappear, with its inexpressible charms and numberless beauties, has in all ages been a source of mystery and inspiration to the poets. It is fitly typified by the splendid borders which surround

 

20 pike , Morals and Dogma, p. 235; Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 117; Hamlin, History of Architecture, p. 26; Steinbrenner, History of Masonry, p. 150.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                61

 

the floors of some of our most magnificent buildings and which is fabled to have surrounded the floor of Solomon's Temple, while the firmament above, studded with stars by night and the blazing sun by day, completes the ornamental scheme of the earth. The surface, the horizon, the firmament embrace all of visible beauty of Nature there is, and they have never yet been exhausted by poet, painter or singer.

 

            Opinions have differed much whether the Blazing Star, classed as one of the ornaments of the lodge, alludes to the sun, or some particular star, or to the heavenly bodies in general. It has an ancient and interesting symbolism with which the statement of our Monitors, that it hieroglyphically represents Divine Providence, is in substantial accord.

 

 

THE THREE GREAT LIGHTS

 

If we read discerningly the explanation given of these in our lectures and ceremonies we must perceive that they symbolise, respectively: (1) The Bible symbolises the word of God, not merely that disclosed in His revealed word, but induding also the knowledge which we acquire from the great book of Nature; (2) the Square typifies the rule of right conduct, and (3) the Compasses is an emblem of that self-restraint which enables us on all occasions to act according to this rule of right. Beyond a perfect knowledge of God's word and therefore of the rule of right living nothing is needed to make the perfect man except a perfect self-restraint.

 

            The value and importance of self-restraint is thus portrayed by Brother Albert Pike:

 

"The hermetic masters said, 'Make gold potable and you will have the universal medicine.' By this

 

 

 62                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

they meant to say, 'Appropriate Truth to your use, let it be the spring from which you shall drink all your days and you will have in yourself the immortality of the Sages.' Temperance, tranquillity of the soul, simplicity of the character, the calmness and reason of the will, make man not only happy but well and strong. It is by making himself rational and good that man makes himself immortal. We are authors of our own destinies, and God does not save us without our co-operation."

 

 

THE THREE LESSER LIGHTS

 

Equally appropriate is the symbolism of the Three Lesser Lights. It was literally true of our ancient operative brethren that from the Sun and Moon they obtained all that natural light which rendered possible those great architectural creations, some of which still remain as perpetual sources of wonder and delight. But all this skill must have quickly perished from the earth had not the Master communicated to the Apprentice from generation to generation the mental illumination which kept alive the knowledge of architecture. Thus literally were the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master lights to our ancient operative brethren. But as a knowledge of architecture is less than knowledge of God; as the correct rule of building is less than the correct rule of living; as the restraints imposed upon the structure is less important than the restraint imposed upon one's self, so are the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master less important lights than are the Bible, Square and Compasses, when rightly understood.

 

            To the untutored mind the sun was the most striking object in nature. His daily march across the heavens must to those, who did not know that his motion was only apparent, have been far more impressive than to us.

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                63

 

 

Add to these his enlightening and fructifying influences, which must have been apparent to man even in his rudest stages of development, and we are not surprised that the orb of day became in all countries an object of worship. The point of his daily appearance, the East; his station at the midday hour, the South; the quarter of his disappearance at night, the West, could not fail to become objects of special significances. He seemed to shun the North, whence it became in popular opinion a place of darkness. It is obvious that conceptions like these belong to a past age and yet they contribute to the completion of that allegory of the world and human life which we know as Freemasonry.

 

            Of scarcely less interest to man in all ages have been the Moon and the Stars; little less striking and even more beautiful are they. The glorious orbs of day and night have not yet lost their power to stir thoughts of divinity in the human mind, as witness Joseph Addison's beautiful words:

 

"The spacious firmament on high,

With all the blue ethereal sky,

And spangled heavens, a shining frame,

Their Great Original proclaim.

 

The unwearied sun from day to day,

Does his Creator's power display,

And publishes to every land,

The work of an almighty hand.

 

Soon as the evening shades prevail,

The moon takes up the wondrous tale,

And nightly, to the listening earth,

Repeats the story of her birth;

While all the stars that round her burn,

And all the planets in their turn,

 

 

 

64                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

Confirm the tidings as they roll,

And spread the truth from pole to pole.

 

What though in solemn silence all

Move round the dark terrestrial ball?

What though no real voice nor sound

Amid the radiant orbs be found?

 

In reason's ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice;

For ever singing as they shine,

The hand that made us is divine."

 

 

NATURE

 

Allusions to the sun, the moon, the stars, the firmament, the horizon, the earth, the seas, the rivers, the mountains, the valleys, so frequent in our Ritual, are designed to tempt us to a study of Nature. We hardly yet realise its possibilities as sources of elevating and useful knowledge. Only ignorance would decry a study of Nature as a bountiful manifestation of God's revelation of himself. The theologian who would deny his followers the right to draw from the great Book of Nature conclusions as to the attributes and characteristics of Deity, is narrow and ignorant in the extreme.

 

            In one of the higher degrees of Masonry we are told: -

 

"Nature is the primary, consistent, and certain revelation of God. It is His utterance, word and speech. Whether He speaks to us through a man, must depend even at first upon human testimony and afterward on hearsay and tradition. But in and by His work, we know the Deity. The visible is the manifestation of the invisible.

 

            "The man who denies God is as fanatical as he who defines Him with pretended infallibility. God is

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                65

 

ordinarily defined by expressing every thing that He is not.

 

            "Man makes God by an analogy from the less to the greater; the result is that his conception of God is always that of an infinite man, who makes of man a finite God.

 

            "The work of God is the Book of God and in what He writes we ought to see the expression of His thought, and consequently of His Being; since we conceive of Him as the Supreme Thought."

 

These quotations from the Scottish Rite Degrees are not taken because Scottish Rite Masonry teaches anything different from Blue Masonry, but only as powerful and beautiful delineations by that great Mason, Albert Pike, of what is taught in the three Symbolic Degrees. Masonry does not profess to be able to explain what Nature teaches. It recognises that Nature does not speak the same language to all men. It simply invites, urges, yea, challenges every intelligent human being to a study of Nature. It recognises that no rational, sincere man can make an earnest study of Nature in any of her varied aspects without having his own mind and soul elevated. From a contemplation of the immensities of the Universe as revealed by the telescope and mathematics, one man will imbibe a lesson of modesty and humility; another may be inspired with an ennobling sense of the limitless possibilities of the human mind that it should be able to project itself and solve the problems of billions of miles away.

 

            Science estimates the extent of the known universe in quadrillions of miles, a space so vast the mind can form no conception of it whatever. A ray of light travelling at the rate of 036,000 miles per second, starting hundreds of years before Christ lived at one side of the universe and travelling continuously until this moment would still

 

 

 66                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

lack billions of miles of completing the journey from one extremity to the other. Throughout this vast immensity at inconceivable distances from each other are millions of heavenly bodies of all sizes from that of a grain of sand to a sphere so large that if its centre were placed at the centre of the earth its radius would extend far beyond the sun, all flying through space at enormous velocities and yet all held by invisible hands in fixed orbits. Can any Book of Revelation more unmistakably reveal God?

 

Truly did the Psalmist sing:

 

"The heavens declare the glory of God:

And the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Day unto day uttereth speech,

And night unto night showeth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language;

Their voice is not heard.

 

[But] their line is gone out through all the earth

And their words to the end of the world."

Psalms xix,

 

And again when he says:

 

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,

The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained,

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

And the son of man that thou visitest him?"

Psalms viii: 3, 4.

 

            Every student of astronomy, if he has not asked this question, has felt it.

 

            Again, the Psalmist exclaims that Jehovah has "set his glory upon the heavens" (Psalms, viii, i ), and the singer promises "I will show forth all thy marvellous works"

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                67

 

(Psalms ix, I), and declares that "the earth is full of the loving-kindness of Jehovah." (Psalms xxxiii, 5.)

 

Let the Mason read Brother Sidney T. Klein's address before Quatuor Coronati Lodge of London, entitled "The Great Symbol," and let him behold the astonishing revelations disclosed by the telescope and the science of astronomy? 21

 

If by the telescope he reads the wonders of the immense, let him turn to the microscope and study the infinitely small. If the discoveries of the skies are astounding, those of the microscope are no less so and no less valuable.

 

            Among the latest discoveries of science is that the atom, once so familiar to the school boy, is not the ultimate in littleness, as it was once supposed to be. The electrons which are now held to make up atoms have diameters estimated at the inconceivable minuteness of sixteen one-hundred trillionths of an inch. Varying numbers of these electrons, not touching another but relatively as far from one another as the heavenly bodies are from one another, form atoms. In other words, each atom is an infinitesimal universe in itself. The microscope also shows a drop of water, or a grain of earth, to be a living universe.

 

            Then study the ant; the germs of disease; the varied manifestations of force; the phenomena of music, heat, light, electricity, and the perfect laws by which these are all governed.

 

            Then behold man; the marvellous mechanism of his body; the senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting; the perfect action through a long life of the hundreds of his bodily functions the stoppage of any one of which is certain death; then consider his mind, his feelings, his affections, his passions, his appetites, his reason,

 

21A. Q. C., Vol. X, pp. 82, 203.

 

 

68                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

and finally his spiritual nature. Cease taking the things around you for granted as does the ox. Having eyes, see the beauties, the grandeurs, the wealth, of Nature.

 

            Brother Albert Pike devotes more. than one-fourth of his great work, Morals and Dogma, to this subject. But he does not undertake to tell us what Nature teaches, he does not even essay to tell us what he has learned from her. He only rehearses for us what men in all ages and all countries have thought that they learned from her. Modern science has rendered most of this learning obsolete, but it affords a striking story of the efforts of the wisest and best of mankind to catch the message which Nature has to convey. If the earnest seeker catches it only imperfectly or even loses it altogether, the high resolve, the noble purpose, is not lost. No one can commune with Nature without becoming a better man and it is absurd for a man to talk of knowing God who knows nothing of his work.

 

            It is to a study of subjects like these that Masonry challenges us.

 

 

BROTHERLY LOVE

 

is symbolised among us by two right hands joined or by two human figures holding or supporting each other by the right hand. This is a very old symbol and represented the goddess Fides who anciently was supposed to preside over the virtue of "fidelity." This virtue of keeping faith with or performing a duty towards even an enemy was greatly esteemed among the ancients, but a reading of their literature will prove that the idea of love for one's fellowman in the abstract scarcely found a lodgment in their conceptions. It is obvious that the virtue of Brotherly Love is of a far higher type than that of fidelity. It constrains us to keep faith and perform a

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                69

 

duty just as strongly as does the latter but it furnishes a nobler motive and impels us to do more when occasion arises than to perform the mere requirements of good faith and duty. It well illustrates the development, under modern sociological and religious teachings, of the element of love or charity in all the relations of men. It can scarcely be denied that chief among these influences have been the lofty and unselfish teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Any one desiring confirmation of this need only read C. L. Brace's Gesta Christi. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" was a strange doctrine to most of the people of His day, but now it is thoroughly familiar to us, however imperfectly we practise it.

 

            David (Psalm 133) sang the virtues of brethren dwelling together in unity and likened it to the precious ointment upon the head and beard of Aaron and to the dews which fell upon Mount Hermon. The beauties of these similes are so charmingly set forth in an address before the Grand Lodge of Alabama in 1843, by Brother Eugene V. Levert, that I take the following excerpt from it:

 

"Because this unity is good and pleasant, David compares it to the sacred oil, or precious ointment with which Aaron, the High Priest, was consecrated to office. This ointment was composed of olive oil, with several aromatic substances, which made it -a most fragrant and delightful perfume. The Israelites were positively forbidden to make any like it, or to have, or use it for common purposes. This ointment of consecration was emblematical of the Holy Spirit's influences, which alone can enlighten and purify the heart of man. And by this comparison we are taught that God alone can afford that grace by which the corrupt heart of man may be disposed to peace and unity with his brethren. He compares it to this ointment also, because of the pleasure which such a state of

 

 

 70                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

unity amongst brethren affords to society. That as the fragrant smell of this ointment which was poured upon the head of Aaron extended to and delighted with its fragrance all around him, so unity of brethren is a source of pleasure as well as advantage to every member of the community. He compares it also to the dew which fell on Mount Hermon. Hermon is a range of mountains on the north border of the land of Canaan, or of the Israelites, on the east side of Jordan, including within its range several eminences, one of which is called Zion. This is not the same as Zion the Holy City, but is one of the eminences of Hermon. It is said that the dew which forms upon this mountain is so abundant, that a person exposed to it in the night would be as thoroughly wet as though he had been drenched with water; and yet it is so salubrious, that a man might sleep in the open air all night and be without feeling the least inconvenience, or suffering any injury from the dews of Hermon. To this abundant and healthful dew, David compares unity amongst brethren, to teach us that it is fruitful in its benefits and pleasures, shedding an abundance of good upon all who come within its influence, communicating the most solid pleasures and advantages, without injury to any one. Unity among brethren is wealth to the indigent, instruction to the ignorant, a friend to the friendless, and a father to the orphan. For there the Lord commanded the blessing. There, not on Hermon, but on a society of united brethren. For where such union exists it is the product of the Spirit of Holiness; which causes the purified heart to send forth the tribute of praise, ardent and savoury, 'as the pot of burning incense.' "

 

 

RELIEF OF THE DISTRESSED

 

is but a manifestation, a putting into practice in one of its most important aspects of the tenet of Brotherly Love.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                71

 

One who loves his fellowman will hasten to his relief when in distress. The picture of the Good Samaritan, however, so often seen in our Monitors, can hardly be said to rise to the dignity of a true symbol. It is only an illustration.

 

 

TRUTH

 

is said to be the third tenet of Freemasonry. It is symbolised by the Bible. Freemasonry seeks not only to render us unafraid of Truth but to impress upon us the beauties and sublimities of Truth in all its manifold manifestations. There are millions of people (indeed the great bulk of mankind), who are afraid of the Truth; they fear their preconceived notions and beliefs cannot withstand the light of Truth. They forget that a knowledge of the Truth can not possibly injure any person or any just cause. In no fields are people more afraid of the Truth than in those of religion and politics, and, while Masonry dabbles with neither, it does urge the individual Mason to be at all times ready and willing to receive, accept and act upon the Truth in matters religious and political, as indeed in all other matters. One need not be afraid of serious religious or political error among a people where all are earnestly seeking the Truth and all are willing to be guided by it when found. There is no lesson more important and none, we believe, more commonly forgotten among men, than that an earnest, burning desire for Truth is the sine qua non, without which the highest development of the human race is impossible. Nothing has retarded human progress more than a cowardly or ignorant unwillingness to know the Truth and to have it known.

 

            We can understand why the selfish man often does not want the Truth known, but the pathetic thing is that

 

 

 72                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

most often it is his victim, who struggles most frantically to assist in staying the stream of Truth, which, if allowed to flow, would soon cover the quagmires of ignorance, superstition and error with shining seas of knowledge.

 

            Masonry also admonishes us to consider the earth, the firmament, the universe, all Nature, as a vast scroll unrolled before us whereon we may behold and in some measure at least read and understand God's revelation of his Truth to man. It seeks to direct our attention to the miracles by which we are surrounded every moment of our lives, such as light, air, earth and water and to the various manifestations of force, such as adhesion, cohesion, friction, heat, electricity, attraction, repulsion and gravitation, to enlist our interest in them, and to stimulate in us an effort in a measure at least to understand them. It assures us that like love, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. From a baffled study of any one of the phenomena of Truth we return stronger and wiser and better men.

 

            Moreover, Masonry suggests to us that the unsuccessful effort to learn the truths of nature are not only not lost in this life but will bear fruit in the life to come, just as the pupil who studies hard but fails is better prepared for the next lesson than if he had not studied at all.

 

            In one of the Scottish Rite Degrees the candidate is told:

 

"Nature is a revelation and the light of Truth shines everywhere in the world. The want of Faith and the refusal of men to reason make the shadows. Man is blindfolded by himself. All men might be free but ignorance and superstition forge the fetters and men enchain themselves and create their own bondage.

 

            If you prefer anything in the world to Reason, Truth and Justice; if logic alarms you and the naked

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                71

 

Truth makes you blush; if to assail received errors is to wound you, seek not to become an Adept. You will not comprehend the secrets. To show the light to nocturnal birds is to conceal it from them, since it blinds them and is darker to them than the darkness."

 

Truth is one of the most comprehensive words in any language. If we be true, we can not be false to any duty; hence, the entire moral and religious codes are embraced in this tenet of our order. Are we not told in the Sacred Writings that God himself is Truth?

 

 

 

LIGHT

 

is a familiar and most appropriate symbol of knowledge, both mental and spiritual, as Darkness is of ignorance. These are among our commonest figures of speech and we employ them almost unconsciously, so much so that our appreciation of their beauty is greatly dulled.

 

            In our own peculiar way, this transition from darkness to light is symbolically represented in our ceremonies.

 

            The "Shock of Enlightenment" or "Battery of Acclamation," says Brother W. Wynn Wescott, "when the candidate is restored to light is a direct imitation of the sudden crash of feigned thunder and lightning by which the neophyte of the Elusinian Mysteries was greeted." Light being perhaps the greatest natural phenomenon in the universe, it is appropriate that it should be made to symbolise the most important thing in the development of human character, namely, knowledge, education, cultivation, enlightenment.

 

            There are said to be three lights in the lodge, one in the South, one in the West, and one in the East. There is said to be none in the North and that hence it is called

 

 

 74                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

a place of darkness. Applied to our ordinary lodge rooms this is meaningless, but applied to the world, as the ancients knew it, and of which, as we have seen, the lodge is emblematic, it has a charming symbolism. It alludes to the fact that to persons living in the northern hemisphere (where all the civilised people of antiquity dwelt), the sun each day appears in the East, ascends to the zenith in the South where he seems to become stationary for a short space, and thence descends and disappears in the West. The East,. South and West seem, therefore, to be his stations; in the northern hemisphere he never attains the North. The ancients supposed the South to be a region of intense heat and blinding light and the extreme North to be a region of perpetual darkness. We have in this symbol, therefore, a reflection of these primeval conceptions of mankind concerning the world.

 

 

THE JEWELS OF THE LODGE,

 

Six in number, are said to be the Square, the Level, the Plumb, the Rough Ashlar, the Perfect Ashlar, and the Trestleboard. In America, the first three are called the "immovable jewels" and the latter three the "movable jewels." In England, this is precisely reversed, the first three being the movable and the latter the immovable. No one has yet been able to give any satisfying reason for calling either the one set or the other movable or immovable. So we shall not attempt an explanation here of what has never been explained.

 

            The real jewels of the lodge, however, are what the Square, the Level, the Plumb, the Rough Ashlar, the Perfect Ashlar and the Trestleboard typify, that is to say (I) morality symbolised by the Square; (2) equality symbolised by the Level; (3) uprightness symbolised by the Plumb; (4) a man of untrained, uneducated mind but of

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                75

 

sterling character as typified by the stone rough and uneven in outline but of fine and approved texture, a stone capable of being fitted for the finest building; (5) the trained and educated man, who by cultivation and development of his natural qualities has become both an ornament and a blessing to society, as typified by the stone of perfect shape and design chiselled out of the rough stone as taken from the quarry; (6) every source from which the truth may be learned which Deity has laid down in the "great books of nature and revelation" for the guidance of the workman engaged in the erection of that Temple not made with hands, all of which is typified by the trestleboard on which the operative master lays down the designs for the erection of the material building.

 

            Bearing in mind that the lodge typifies human society organised into government, it follows that the jewels of any state or nation are, ( ) a sturdy, honest, sterling people, which, though uneducated to begin with, is capable by education and training and by a due use of and attention to the great truths to be learned from (2) nature and revelation, of being developed into (3) a cultivated and refined citizenship characterised by (4) morality of conduct, (5) equality before the law, and (6) uprightness of character.

 

 

PERFECT YOUTH

 

In our symbolism, the human body is a prototype of the temple of the Deity. This speaking of the body as an abiding place of Deity is a very ancient metaphor. Therefore, we require as fitting that the body of a man about to be admitted to the craft shall be whole and without deformity. Undoubtedly this requirement began as a very practical and serviceable rule when our craft was operative and the apprentice was at once put to heavy physical la-

 

 

 76                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

bour. A man of maimed or defective body could notesdure the arduous labours involved in building with stone.

 

            The antiquity of this requirement is undenied and undeniable. Our oldest Code of Masonic Law (the Regius MS., dr. A.D. 1390), in its quaint language declares:

 

The mayster shal not, for no vantage,

Make no prentes that ys outrage;

Hyt ys to mene, as ye mowe here,

That he have hys lymes hole alle y-fere;

To the craft hyt were gret schame,

To make an halt mon and a lame,

For an unperfyct mon of such blod

Schulde do the craft but lytul good.

Thus ye mowe knowe everychen,

The craft wolde have a myghty mon;

A maymed mon he hath no myght,

Ye mowe hyt knowe long yer nyght.

 

                                    —II. 149-16o.

 

            Anderson's Book of Constitutions (1723), the first book of the kind ever published and still regarded the world over as a standard authority, thus states the law:

 

No Master should take an Apprentice, unless he has sufficient Imployment for him, and unless he be a perfect Youth, having no Maim or Defect in his Body that may render him uncapable of learning the Art, of serving his Master's Lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow-Craft in due time.

 

            But, as the society became gradually speculative, this very practical requirement was brought over along with much other similar impedimenta and as the "perfect youth" rule gradually lost its practical value, it took on a symbolic meaning.

 

            The task of the Fraternity was no longer that of erecting temples of stone but that of erecting temples to Deity

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                77

 

 

by developing the individual man into a more or less perfect character. By an easy step the human body thus became the symbol of a temple of Deity. Indeed, we know that even in the days of Jesus of Nazareth the human body was symbolically spoken of as such. Speaking of His own body, He said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." When the human body became symbolical of the temple, it was felt that only a body without blemish, a body whole of its limbs as a man ought to be, a perfect youth was a fit symbol of the temple of God, just as a lamb with spot or blemish was regarded as an unworthy sacrificial offering.

 

            It is argued now in this utilitarian age that this requirement arose out of the necessities of a society of operative workmen, and is unsuited to our present Speculative Masonry. The contention is that the utilitarian purpose of the regulation having ceased, the regulation itself is no longer binding. They forget that many things, once serving purely practical purposes in our Fraternity, but now entirely useless from that viewpoint, were for symbolic reasons brought over from operative into Speculative Masonry. Of what utility in the lodge, we may ask, are now the Square, the Level, the Plumb, the Compasses, the Twenty-four-inch Gauge, the Chisel, the Trowel, the Spade? None whatever. This line of reasoning would, therefore, dispense with them also. They are retained and cherished solely because they symbolise certain virtues or truths. So it is with man. The most fundamental symbolism in Masonry is as we have just seen that man is a piece of flawless material to be chiselled and polished into a perfect stone to be used in the erection of a moral and spiritual temple. It is an ancient metaphor, older than the Christian era that man symbolises the temple or abiding place of Deity himself. A perfect specimen of physical manhood is an admirable and a

 

 

 78                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

marvellous piece of work regardless of the mind or the character housed in it. According to our conceit, it is made in the very image of God.—(Genesis i, 26.) In other words, the human body typifies Deity. Carlyle in Sartor Resartus exclaims, "What is man himself but a symbol of God I" An imperfect, a crippled, a maimed body is an unworthy type in such a sublime symbolism. Surely nothing less than a "perfect youth having no maim or defect in his body that may render him incapable of learning the art, of serving his Master's Lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow-Craft in due time" is a fit symbol of Deity, or of his perfect abiding place, or of a perfect stone in a perfect temple. However pure the material, who would think of putting a broken stone in a fine edifice? And what would one think of a temple splendidly furnished inside, built of the finest marble, but with a broken column, a cracked frieze or a shattered dome?

 

The argument, sometimes made, that Freemasonry should not be so exacting as to physical perfection while we admit those possessed of less than moral perfection proceeds on a false assumption. Freemasonry has never declared any lower standard of moral qualification for its initiates than that they shall be "good men and true, or men of honour and honesty." If less than these find their way into our lodges, the fault is not with Freemasonry or its laws, but with us whose duty it is to guard our portals against the unworthy. Because we are careless or sometimes deceived at one point is no reason why we should obliterate a "landmark" elsewhere.

 

            This utilitarian spirit which would knock off a mark of antiquity here and another yonder, because they are no longer serviceable, would soon strip our Fraternity completely of that delightful flavour of age which is one of its chief charms.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                79

 

Our operative brethren required of their initiates just such degree of "physical perfection" as enabled them to perform the work of the operative lodge. We should likewise require just such degree of "physical perfection" as will enable our initiates to perform the "work" of the Speculative lodge.

 

            At the same time we do not think it necessary to the preservation of this symbolism that an Entered Apprentice should be denied advancement because of a maim suffered after initiation. The idea of man as a symbol of a perfect stone in a temple is taught chiefly in the First Degree, "living stones for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." So it is of the symbolism of the Rough Ashlar and the Perfect Ashlar. Many considerations operate in favour of the advancement of the Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft, notwithstanding a maim after initiation which do not apply to the profane.

 

            We have gotten along very well with this restriction of "physical perfection." Many think the increase in membership has been too rapid. There is at least no necessity to open the door any wider to the profane. When we open it to the worthy maimed, we also open it to the unworthy maimed.

 

 

THE SQUARE

 

The Entered Apprentice is taught that the Square symbolises morality. Acting "upon the square" is a familiar metaphor for fair and honest dealings. A like symbolic meaning attaching to this tool has been traced in China back five hundred years before Christ. In the Great Learning it is stated that abstaining from doing unto others what one would not they should do unto him "is called the principle of acting on the square." 22

 

22 A. Q. C.,    p. Tao; Ibid., III, p. 14.

 

 

80                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            In 1830, workmen engaged in rebuilding Baal bridge near Limerick, Ireland, found beneath the foundation stone a metallic square bearing the date 1517 and also the following inscription:

 

"I will strive to live with love & care,

Upon the level, by the square." 23

 

This indicates strongly that mediaeval operative Masons attached to the Square the same symbolic meaning we do to-day.

 

 

THE LEVEL

 

The Level is said to teach equality among us; not equality in mind or character or wealth or learning; not the equality of the communist or the anarchist; not even that all men and women are socially equal, for none of these things are true. Masonry does not profess the impossible of making the weakest the equal in strength of the strong, est, or the simpleton the intellectual equal of the genius, or the pervert the moral equal of upright man, or the outcast the social equal of respectable people. It does not attempt to equalise wealth by taking from him who bath and giving to him who bath not. This word "equality" has been greatly misunderstood, if not deliberately abused, in the fields of politics, business, industry, economics and society. False and dangerous doctrines, policies and systems have been founded upon it. The world is now witnessing the disastrous consequences of one of these false systems applied to Russia.

 

            To understand the meaning of this term "equality," as used by us, we must go back to the days when society was divided into castes or classes, for example, the no-

 

 

23 Kerning's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry (1878), p. 603.

 

 

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bility, the clergy, the yeomen, the serfs, the slaves, in which each class enjoyed legal rights not given to a lower class; in which certain higher classes had the power of life or death over those of lower classes; in which social intercourse by an individual, however honourable, of a lower class with those of a higher class was forbidden. It is artificial distinctions like these which we repudiate. But differences, created by God or resulting from the conduct or efforts of the individuals themselves, Masonry does not profess to abrogate or obliterate. It could not if it would; it would not if it could. Masonry believes in every man having the just reward of his industry or his genius. It does not believe in arbitrarily raising the sluggard to the level of prosperity and material comfort enjoyed by the industrious. It does not thus set a premium on indolence. It does not believe in arbitrarily placing the man of no intellect or one who has neglected or refused to use his intellect on the same level with the man who by cultivation of his talents has greatly multiplied his powers of production. Masonry would not thus discourage the development of natural ability.

 

            On the contrary, Masonry by its systems of degrees, from one of which the candidate can not, at least theoretically, be advanced to a higher degree until by his own efforts he has mentally and morally fitted himself for the next degree, teaches a lesson that only by proficiency and efficiency does any man become entitled to advancement among his fellowmen. How much of baseless and bitter discontent would disappear from among men and what an impetus to labour and effort would be given if we could all be made thoroughly to understand this lesson!

 

We are entitled to nothing that we do not earn. There is no excellence without great labour. God wisely made it so and it is useless for us to kick against the pricks.

 

 

82                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

THE PLUMB

 

It is perfectly natural in a system where the tools of the operative builder are made to symbolise aspects of human conduct or character that the Plumb should symbolise uprightness of life. This symbolism is very old, going at least back to the days of Manasseh, king of Judah, that is to say more than seven hundred years before Christ. Because of the sins of Manasseh, the Lord said "I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab." (2 Kings xxi, 13.) In the days of Isaiah, the Lord declared, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet." (Isaiah xxviii, 17.) And in Zechariah iv, 10, the word of the Lord is quoted as saying, "They shall rejoice and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel." We t introduce in our ceremonies a beautiful passage from Amos, with which we are all familiar, and which being interpreted means that the Lord had been lenient with his people in the past but without avail; he now proposed to set up in their midst a test of uprightness—a plumbline—and if his people failed to measure up to it he would no more ignore their shortcomings but would punish them rigorously. (Amos, vii, 7, 8.)

 

 

JACOB'S LADDER

 

The Ladder is, of course, an implement familiar to the builder. It was in constant use by our ancient operative brethren. In a system where working tools are made to symbolise moral properties, it could scarcely happen otherwise than that the ladder would be made to typify the power or means by which man is lifted or attains to a higher state of existence. It was employed always with the same meaning in the Ancient Mysteries and was a

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                83

 

familiar symbol of salvation long before Jacob in his vision saw it extending from earth to heaven. We, as did the ancients, ascribe to it seven rungs, symbolical with us of the four cardinal and the three theological virtues by which it was supposed a man was prepared for and elevated to the higher state.

 

 

SITUATION OF THE LODGE

 

The situation of lodges due East and West is not at all peculiar to Freemasonry. In ancient times the custom was well-nigh universal to locate sacred edifices East and West. This is why the Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple were so situated. This old idea of orientation, as it is called, is practically lost except among Masons. We preserve it in theory even though necessity often compels us to depart from it in practice. The parallel between the lodge and the world holds good here as elsewhere. As the lodge is or should be situated East and West, so in ancient times was the world. The "oblong square" which made up the ancient world had its greatest length East and West.

 

 

THE POINT WITHIN THE CIRCLE

 

There is but scanty and unsatisfactory explanation of this symbol given in our Monitors, yet its deeper meanings are too vast and intricate to admit of discussion in a treatise like this. To it has been ascribed a phallic origin; it has been said to symbolise the universe, Deity, fecundity and the sun, the lodge, the Master and the Wardens, not to mention other significances. We can only urge the Mason desiring knowledge on the subject to make research for himself. 24

 

 

24 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 111.

 

 

84                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

THE PARALLEL LINES

 

have been given several explanations not mentioned in our Monitors which the curious Mason will have to read for himself. They are said to have an astronomical or solar allusion.

 

            There is, however, a very practical symbolism assigned to them in our Monitors. They are said to represent St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and it is on this I desire to enlarge a little beyond what our Monitors say.

 

            Saints John's Days (June 24 and December 27), are among American Masons the only festivals in the Masonic calendar. It matters little whether it be true that these men were members of our Fraternity. They have been adopted by it as symbols. Although Masonry has existed from time immemorial and can boast of the great and good of every age and dime, although philosophers and poets, patriots and heroes, statesmen and philanthropists have crowded its ranks, the high honour of annual commemoration has been conferred upon only two of its members. All the great kings and emperors, all the great soldiers and conquerors, all the great statesmen and patriots, who in ages past have belonged to our beloved Order, and of whom the order is justly proud have been assigned to a position subordinate to these two modest patrons of the Craft.

 

            It is not material to our present purpose whether it be an historical fact that they were actually members of our Fraternity; its principles shone conspicuously in their lives and characters. It suffices here to say, in the language of a distinguished Irish Freemason, that "there seems to be no doubt that the mediaeval Fraternity acknowledged their patronage." 25

 

25 A. Q. C., Vol. VIII, p. 158.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                85

 

Why is it that this man who wore a raiment of camel's hair and whose food was locusts and wild honey, and this man who was noted for his excessive modesty and avoidance of all display, these men who never engaged in any of the pomp and glory of the world, have been honoured by Masons above all others? It is because Masonry regards not the exterior of a man but only his internal qualifications. She bends not the suppliant knee at the shrine of wealth, its glittering splendours are no passport to her altars and temples, and never has it been said of her that she turns her face away from him who is clothed in poverty's rags or veiled in poverty's tears.

 

            No worldly honours are there recognised. The king of England, the President of the United States, when he enters a lodge is simply "Brother." He is there accorded no mark of distinction to which every other Master Mason is not entitled. Who enters a Masonic lodge leaves his titles, his wealth, his worldly honours, at the door.

 

"Yes, we meet upon the level

Though from every station come,

The rich man from his mansion,

The poor man from his home;

For the rich must leave his hoarded gold

Outside our temple door,

And the servant feels himself a man

Upon the Mason's floor."

 

He who wears the humble garb of domestic industry prepared by the hand of a devoted wife is as sure to gain admission and find as hearty welcome and rank as high as he whose raiment is purple and fine linen and who fares sumptuously every day.

 

            The Saints John possessed few of the external qualifications which attract the thoughtless crowd. They possessed

 

 

 86                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

all those internal elements that make the true man. Beyond all others the principles of our Fraternity shone forth in their characters and daily lives and for it Masonry has honoured them above all others.

 

            We may and do have unworthy members, those who forget and violate their Masonic obligations. None of us indeed observe them as we should, but could stronger proof than the honour shown these two men be desired that Masonry as a whole regards excellence of character, the practice of virtue, the adoration of Deity, and the love of our fellow men, the doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, above any wealth or worldly honours?

 

If any still doubt let them remember that the first three Grand Masters of Freemasonry were, according to tradition, Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abif; that the memory of the last Hiram Abif, a poor widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and only a worker in brass and stone, is venerated among Masons far beyond his two royal associates. He lived a life of such purity and excellence that when the appointed time arrived he welcomed the grim tyrant death. These are the lessons taught by this symbolism, these are the men whose example we should as Masons strive to emulate. These are the characters that we as Masons, imperfect as we are, love and venerate.

 

 

CARDINAL VIRTUES

 

The cardinal virtues mean simply the pre-eminent or principal virtues. They were declared by Socrates and Plato four hundred years before Christ, as they are by us to-day, to be Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. This list has been criticised as being arbitrary,

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                87

 

as not covering the entire field, and as overlapping each other. In the light of the broadening influence of modern ethical and religious ideas the justice of these criticisms must be conceded. But reflection will disclose to us that these four virtues cover a surprisingly large part of the moral realm of human life.

 

            Temperance means moderation not only in drink but in diet, not only in diet but in action, not only in action but in speech, not only in speech but in thought, not only in thought but in feeling. It condemns excess of every kind; of our affections as well as our passions; of our feelings as well as our appetites. The libertine, the glutton, the gambler, the miser and the profane swearer are all equal to the drunkard guilty of intemperance.

 

            Fortitude implies, it is true, a physical bravery that leads one to resist insult or attack with force, but more especially that moral courage that enables one at the risk of incurring the sneers of others, to refrain from a resort to violence except where the necessity is imperative. When, however, this necessity arises it is not deterred by pain or circumstance, be it ever so appalling or threatening.

 

            Prudence, as the critics have pointed out, enters to some extent into the last named virtue. It signifies also to meet every situation, however dangerous or difficult, with common sense and reason. It is a virtue which is lacking in a surprisingly large proportion of the human race.

 

            Little need be added to what is said of the virtue of Justice in our Monitors. It is truly the "very cement and support of civil society." This conception of justice evidences a distinct advance by mankind. To be able and willing to mete out exact justice to every one, even one's self, in every relation of life, in thought, word and action, very nearly sums up the total of all possible human virtue. In a system of moral philosophy, such as Plato's (as dis-

 

 

 88                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

tinguished from a religious philosophy such as we now have), justice very nearly covers the whole field. 23

 

What a multitude of evils and mistakes the full possession and practice of these virtues would enable us to avoid!

 

But with the birth and development of theology the Platonic scheme seemed, and doubtless was, incomplete. It took little or no account of those higher speculative virtues which we class as religious. There was absent from it the conception of that charity or love which has entered so largely into modern sociological thoughts and movements. The later philosophical and religious teachers, therefore, added to the cardinal virtues what they termed the theological virtues, namely, Faith, Hope and Charity. These three were believed to include anything omitted from the other four, and together were supposed to cover the entire field of the moral thought and conduct of man.

 

            Masonic Faith, it seems to me, is a very simple thing. We do not need to trouble with the refinements of the theologians, such as those of Avicenna, Maimonides, Ghazali, Jehuda Halevi, Averroes, Anse1m, Abelard, Calvin, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, William of Occam, etc. We are not concerned with the Christian doctrine of justification by faith. Whether reason and the theologian's faith are in accord or at war with each other does not concern us. We attempt no decision between the Nominalists and the Thomists. We do not have to reconcile or explain the rival theories of "Ontologism" and "Psychologism," and many other mystifying "isms." We are dealing with something so simple it can not be in conflict with anything that is true. Masonic Faith means no more than confidence or trust in an all-wise, all-provident and all-loving Creator. The Mason believes that

 

23 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. V, p. 324; Ibid., Vol. IX, p. 813.

 

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                89

 

with such a Father no man who does his best has anything to fear either here or hereafter. It may be summed up in ten words, "If I but do my part, all will be well." But a faith like this might alone lead to a dark and cheerless fatalism. Hence, Masonry summons Hope to lend her brightness and optimism to the prospect, while Charity mellows, and sweetens and softens all with love; love of Nature, love of the beautiful, love of the good, love of our fellowmen and love to God.

 

 

CHALK, CHARCOAL AND CLAY

 

We are told that Entered Apprentices should serve their Masters with Freedom, Fervency and Zeal; with freedom, in that it should be done freely and without constraint as becomes a free man, not grudgingly and hesitatingly as characterises the slave; and with fervency and zeal. These terms are synonymous; one is from the Latin ferveo, to boil, while the other is from the Greek zeo, having the same meaning. We have been unable to find that chalk, charcoal or clay anciently bore any symbolic significations. It must, however, be admitted that chalk is a fitting symbol of freedom, charcoal of fervency, and earth of zeal.

 

 

NORTHEAST CORNER

 

From the most ancient times it has been the custom of builders to lay with ceremonies the corner stone of important edifices. As it was a custom of the ancients to orient their temples, that is, to make them face the East, so for some similar reason it was their custom to lay the corner stone in the northeast corner. Why this particular part of the structure was chosen has been the subject of much speculation. Some have attributed it to the fact

 

 

 90                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

that the rising sun sheds its beams more directly upon this corner of a building situated due east and west than upon either of the other corners. But many have supposed (and no doubt truly) that a symbolical reason existed for this custom. This also has given rise to further speculation and as a specimen we introduce this interesting conjecture by General Albert Pike: "The apprentice represents the Aryan race in its original home on the highlands of Pamir, in the north of that Asia termed Orient, at the angle whence, upon two great lines of emigration South and West, they flowed forth in successive waves to conquer and colonise the world." 27

 

As Speculative Masonry gradually developed from operative Masonry, it preserved this ceremony of laying the corner stone, because of the moral and religious symbolism which seems always to have pertained to it. With the operative it was a serious part of the actual process of building; with us its chief value lies in its symbolical significations.

 

            As placing the newly made Entered Apprentice in the northeast corner of the lodge marks the completion of his initiation, so it symbolises the completion of the preparatory period of life and his readiness to enter upon its serious labours and business. The admonition there given him is, that having made proper moral preparation for life, his future activities should be kept in accord with the teaching and training he had received in his youth.

 

            This, brethren, briefly reviews the symbolical teachings of the ceremonies of initiation. As said at the outset we have barely touched upon them. Any one of them would be sufficient of itself to occupy a whole evening.

 

            27 Miscellanea Latonsorum (N. S.), Vol. I, p. 122.

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                91

 

We could easily consume another hour talking to you about the symbolical teachings of the Entered Apprentice lesson without exhausting it. Let us illustrate with two questions and their answers.

 

 

"WHENCE CAME YOU?"

 

Daily this question is asked by Masons without the slightest thought as to its real meaning. The answer we make to it in the lodge is well-nigh unintelligible, yet about as reasonable as any ever given it or which ever will be given it. Who can answer the question, "Whence came you?" Who has ever answered it? Who will ever answer it? Equally baffling and profound is that companion question, familiar in some jurisdictions, "Whither are you bound?" Equally an enigma is the answer we give it. Simple as these questions appear, they search every nook and cranny and sound every depth of every philosophy, every mythology, every theology, and every religion that has ever been propounded anywhere by anybody at any time to explain human life. They allude to the problems of the origin and destiny of mankind; they lie at the foundation of all the thinking and of all the activities of man except such as are concerned with the purely utilitarian question, "What shall we eat and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" All our better impulses, all our loftier aspirations, all our faiths, all our longing for and striving after a nobler state of existence, either in this or a future life, are but attempts to answer these two questions. They are the supreme questions which men have been asking themselves and each other ever since men were able to think and to talk, and they are the questions which men will continue to ask oftenest and most anxiously until the time when we are promised that we shall know even as we are known.

 

 

92                                                        SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

"WHAT CAME WE HERE TO DO?"

 

If we came we know not whence and are bound we know not whither, then naturally the next questions tare, "Why came we here? What came we here to do? What is man's mission in this life?" If we can not fathom the past nor descry the future, maybe we can solve the present. The second question however is no less baffling and profound than the other two. If they have reference to the origin and destiny of man, this one has to do with the riddle of his present existence. Again, we are met with the same inscrutable mystery; the three age-long questions, whence? why? whither? press again for answer.

 

            And what a simple and significant answer do we give this question! Does the Mason proudly answer, like the Pharisee, "I am here to teach and instruct others." "I am here to lead and reform others." "I am here to relieve and assist others." Not at all. With equal nobility and humility he answers, in substance, that, conscious of his own weakness, feeling the need of help from others rather than an ability to give help, his first duty is to improve himself and to subdue his own passions, to cast the beam out of his own eye before undertaking to remove the mote from his brother's eye. To an intelligent creature, ignorant of both his origin and his destiny, what more obvious duty could there be than the cultivation and development of his own mental, moral, and physical faculties? Self-subjugation and self-improvement: here alone lies before him a sure path. If he sets himself earnestly to the task of ridding himself of his own evil passions and of improving himself by adding the desirable virtues, error in the larger sense is impossible.

 

            Nor is this a narrow or selfish task he sets himself, that of chastening and of improving himself. For lo! before he has proceeded far with this task of self-improvement,

 

 

THE ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE                                                93

 

 

the divesting himself of all that is low or evil or base and the setting of himself to the cultivation of those virtues that truly lend to his own improvement, he finds that they also involve the doing of good to others.

 

            We commend this question and answer to those well-meaning brethren who are all the time bemoaning that Freemasonry does not become the champion of all the "up-lift" and "reform" movements of the day. It will be noted that in this question and answer not a word is said about "uplifting" or reforming or improving others. It is always "myself." This is an implied admission that I need improvement quite as much as others, that it is presumptuous to pretend to lead and teach others until I myself am thoroughly prepared.

 

            It should never be forgotten that Masonry is not a reform society, it is not a relief society. Its original and primary purpose was and still is to take men who are already "good and true" and, building on that foundation, to make of them men of such perfect minds and characters as will encourage others to follow in their footsteps. The influences it has thus silently wielded upon the political, religious, mental and moral development of mankind can never be known. Such things do not find record upon the pages of history. We can only surmise by looking back and observing how many of those, who have shaped the religious, political, and social progress of the world in the last two hundred years, have been members of the craft.

 

            Many centuries ago Omar Khayyam struggled with these three questions thus:

 

"With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,

And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow:

And this was all the Harvest that I reaped—

`I came like water and like wind I go.'

 

 

 94                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            "Into this Universe, and Why not knowing, Nor Whence, like water willy-nilly flowing: And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing."


 

PART TWO:

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE


 

 

 

Part Two

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE

 

The ceremonies of initiation, passing, and raising, as well as the lectures explanatory of them, are necessarily brief; want of time and the danger of over-burdening the candidate require that they should be so. The Mason, therefore, who relies solely upon what he sees and hears in the lodge will obtain a very inadequate conception of Freemasonry. He may and doubtless will be more or less affected by our ceremonies; it could scarcely be otherwise, so Solemn and impressive are they, but he will fail to discover and understand some of the greater truths which fie hidden beneath the surface, and can never become truly speaking a "bright Mason." Nearly every Masonic symbol or ceremony (like all true allegories) has two (sometimes more) signification, one literal, the other symbolical. The literal meaning, usually the more apparent, is often of great interest, frequently affording striking evidences as to the origin and antiquity of Freemasonry. But it is the symbolical or allegorical meaning, usually the more recondite, which appeals most to the thoughtful mind.

 

            Nor is it unfortunate that the more important lessons are somewhat veiled from observation. We do not prize what we obtain easily; it is that for which we have striven or paid a big price which we value. If, therefore, from beneath the surface of these familiar ceremonies any of us by our own studies and reflections are enabled to discover and bring to light truths which have lain somewhat hidden, the appreciation of them is keener and the impression produced deeper and more lasting than if they

 

97

 

 

 98                                                       SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

had been open to superficial observation. For this ream many of the greatest lessons of Freemasonry are wisely hidden away as prizes for the studious and the diligent only. The "mysteries" and the "secrets" of Freemasonry are not synonymous terms; the mysteries continue such forever even to the Mason who will not study and read. Do you feel that Masonry is an idle and frivolous thing, unworthy of the attention of serious men? If so, did you ever reflect whether the fault was yours or that of the institution? Unless you are sure that you know what Freemasonry is and what it teaches and what are its designs and that you thoroughly understand its methods of teaching, withhold your condemnation till you have made it the subject of a little serious study, because, as observed by an eminent authority, the character of the institution is "elevated in every one's opinion just in proportion to the amount of knowledge that he has acquired of its symbolism, philosophy and history."

 

Freemasonry is a many-sided subject. There is something in it which arrests and appeals to the shallowest mind or the most frivolous moral character. At the same time, there is much in it which has chained the thought and attention of the world's greatest intellects and wisest philosophers. It presents many aspects for study and investigation, either of which will amply repay the efforts of the intelligent mind and will lead to knowledge not merely curious, as some suppose, but of the utmost practical value.

 

            We are forced to refer again to one line of thought touched on in the preceding chapter because we regard it as fundamental to the study and understanding of any part of Freemasonry. This idea is that Freemasonry is an elaborate allegory of human life, both individually and collectively, in all its varied aspects, past, present, and future; that the lodge represents the world into which

 

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE                                                   99

 

mortal man is introduced, lives, moves, has his being and eventually dies; that it also represents the place or state of the redeemed in the life which we believe follows this; that the lodge-member typifies the individual man; that its organised membership represents mankind united into human society; that the ideal lodge-member, ruled by love, wisdom, strength and beauty, typifies man raised from a state of imperfection to one of perfection.

 

            Of all the ceremonies of the lodge, the Fellow Craft Degree, when viewed by itself is the most difficult and the least generally understood. Preston, who wrote the first Monitor, tells us that "such is the latitude of this degree that the most judicious may fail in an attempt to explain it." In Akin's Georgia Manual we read that the "splendid beauty of the Fellow Craft Degree can be seen only by the studious eye and that the Master who would impress it upon the candidate must store his mind with the history, traditions and ritualism of this Degree." A flood of light, however, is at once shed upon the subject when we consider it a part of a human allegory, of which the Entered Apprentice and Master's Degrees are respectively the beginning and the completion.

 

            Let us then briefly consider it in this manner and endeavour to reach a clearer understanding of its meaning. That we may the better perceive just where it falls into the complete scheme, it will be necessary first to consider for a moment the Entered Apprentice and Master's Degrees.

 

            We are told in the Master's lecture that the Entered Apprentice represents youth; the Fellow Craft, manhood; and the Master Mason, old age. A little study will serve to show us how completely this simile is justified.

 

            The introduction of first admission of the Entered Apprentice candidate into the lodge, therefore, typifies the entrance of man upon the world's stage of action or in

 

 

 100                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

 

other words, the birth of the child into this life. The distinguished Masonic scholar, Dr. Mackey, says that the Entered Apprentice is a "child in Masonry" and we read in many Monitors that "the first or Entered Apprentice Degree is intended symbolically to represent the entrance of man into the world in which he is afterwards to become a living and thinking actor." In English working the candidate is reminded that his admission into the Entered Apprentice lodge "in a state of helpless ignorance was an emblematical representation of the entrance of all men on this their mortal existence.1

 

The preparation of the candidate and the plight in which he is admitted an Entered Apprentice strikingly symbolises the helpless, destitute, blind and ignorant condition of the newly born babe. Yes, it is even certain that there are features preserved in Masonic symbolism which allude to that part of life preceding even birth and which hint at the phenomena of coition, generation, conception and gestation of the child in its mother's womb. These things rightly considered are as much a part and as pure and holy a part of a human life as birth or death, and could no more be omitted from any complete representation of it. Let no one, therefore, imagine that he has found anything impure in Freemasonry because he has discovered in it symbols and ceremonies which once undoubtedly bore phallic significations.

 

            We may, therefore, say that the Masonic system epitomizes allegorically the life of man from the moment he is begotten through every stage of existence, conception, gestation, birth, infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, old age, death, the resurrection and everlasting life. Did any greater theme ever engage the attention of any society? Anything that pertains to any of these great subjects and which tends to strengthen, to elevate or to ennoble the

 

1 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 307.

 

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE                                                               101

 

human being and his character is properly a part of Freemasonry.

 

            The first important lesson impressed upon the candidate after his entrance into the lodge is intended to signify to us that the very first idea that ought to be instilled into the mind of the child is a reverence and adoration for the Deity, the great and incomprehensible author of its existence. From beginning to the end, the Entered Apprentice Degree is a series of moral lessons. This is a hint so broad that one need not be wise in order to understand that the moral training and education of the child should precede even the development and cultivation of its intellect. How many parents and teachers fail just at this point! They polish and adorn the minds of their children and pupils with great diligence, at the same time neglect their moral training, and when too late find that often they have made of them smart criminals.

 

            The placing of the young Entered Apprentice in the northeast corner of the lodge in imitation of the ancient custom of laying the corner stone of a building in the northeast corner, signifies that as an Entered Apprentice he has but laid the foundation whereon to build his future moral edifice, that of life and character. It aptly and fully symbolises the end of the preparatory period and the beginning of the constructive period of human life.

 

            The admonition there given him is to the effect that, having laid the foundation true, he should take care that the superstructure is reared in like manner; in other words, that his life, his moral temple, be kept in harmony with the moral precepts which have been given him in the Entered Apprentice Degree.

 

            This likening of the human body to a temple of God is an ancient metaphor. Jesus' employment of it in speaking of his own body was but in keeping with a common practice among Jewish writers and teachers of his time.

 

 

102                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            It immensely dignifies the physical body of man and teaches that, when kept clean both in the literal and the moral sense, it is a fit place for even Deity himself to dwell.

 

            This body, so powerfully and yet so delicately contrived that often apparently slight causes produce death, we have no right to defile or abuse with any kind of excess. No mechanism was ever so delicately adjusted and no careful engineer would ever think of putting even too much oil upon a fine piece of machinery. Yet excessive indulgence in food, drink, or other appetites works far greater injury to our bodies.

 

            The lesson is that we have no more right to defile or abuse our bodies than had the Jew to defile the Temple of God upon Mount Moriah.

 

            In the Third Degree the matters pressed upon our attention are the closing years of life, death and the vast hereafter. The twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, the most beautiful and affecting description of old age in all literature is introduced. We are also told that the events it celebrates occurred just before the completion of the Temple, which is but a figurative way of saying that the period of life symbolised by the Master's Degree is that just preceding its close, just before the completion of the moral and spiritual temple.2

It is, therefore, with the greatest propriety that the Master's Degree is said to represent old age.

 

            If then the Entered Apprentice represents childhood and youth, and the Master Mason old age, the Fellow Craft Degree should, in order to complete the allegory, represent middle life and its labours, and this is precisely what it does with the greatest beauty and consistency.

 

            Although the candidate for the Fellow Craft Degree is to be regarded as a seeker after knowledge, yet the first

 

 

 2 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p.  307.

 

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE                                                               103

 

 

section of this degree consists chiefly of a reiteration of the moral teachings of the First Degree. This is to remind the young man as he is about to enter upon the serious labours and struggles of life that virtue is to be always the first consideration, that no knowledge, no success which is purchased at the sacrifice of morals, honour or integrity is to be prized. This lesson is repeated more than once in the course of this degree, admonishing us that, no matter how engrossed in the affairs of life we may become, we should never suffer the allurements of coveted gains to seduce us from the pathway of strict rectitude and justice.

 

            Although thus reiterating and emphasising the moral precepts of the First Degree, the Fellow Craft Degree is as distinctly intellectual in its purpose and spirit as the Entered Apprentice is moral. The great theme of the Second Degree is the attainment of knowledge, the cultivation of the mind and the acquisition of habits of industry. 3 This feature becomes prominent in the second section of this degree. Preston, who, as already observed, wrote what might be termed the first Monitor, says that while the First Degree is intended "to enforce the duties of morality," the Second "comprehends a more diffusive system of knowledge." We read in Simon's Monitor that "the Entered Apprentice is to emerge from the darkness to light; the Fellow Craft is to come out of ignorance into knowledge." Dr. Mackey expresses it thus: "The lessons the Entered Apprentice receives are simply intended to cleanse the heart and prepare the recipient for that mental illumination which is to be given in the succeeding degree": and further he says, "The candidate in the Second Degree represents a man starting forth on the journey of life with the great task before him of self-improvement," and that the result is to be the de-

 

 3 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 307.

 

 

104                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

velopment of all his intellectual faculties and the acquisition of truth and knowledge. In England (Emulation Working) the candidate is informed that while in the Entered Apprentice Degree "he made himself acquainted with the principles of moral truth and virtue, he is in the Fellow Craft Degree permitted to extend his researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science," 4 and that he is "led in the Second Degree to contemplate the intellectual faculty and to trace it from its development, through the paths of heavenly science, even to the throne of God himself." Brother J. W. Horsley, Rector of St. Peter's Cathedral, London, thus expresses the idea: "Generally, therefore, we may say that the Third Degree represents and enforces the blessedness of spiritual life and the duty of progress therein, as the Second Degree performs the same office for the intellectual life, and the first for the moral life." 5

 

 

THE JEWELS OF A FELLOW CRAFT

 

The very means of gaining admission into a Fellow Craft lodge * * *, alluding to the three jewels of a Fellow Craft, are made to typify the processes of communicating, acquiring and preserving knowledge. "The attentive ear receives the sound from the instructive tongue and the mysteries of Freemasonry (as indeed all other knowledge) are safely lodged in the repository of faithful breasts."

 

 

 

THE WORKING TOOLS

 

The plumb, square, and level were the appropriate tools of the operative Fellow Craft Mason. To the Master or

 

4 Perfect Ceremonies of Craft Masonry (Lewis, 1896), p. 83.

5 A. Q. C., Vol. XII, p. 52.

 

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE                                                               105

 

Overseer fell the duty of superintendence, to the Entered Apprentice that of gathering and rough hewing the materials, but to the Fellow Craft fell the labour of actual construction. This involved the laying of level foundations and courses, the erection of perpendicular walls and the bringing of the stones to perfectly rectangular shape. These labours necessitated the constant use by the operative Fellow Craft Mason of the plumb, square and level. Their operative uses very appropriately symbolise the analogous processes in the building of human character. This symbolical application of these implements of the builder is by no means recent; it dates back even among the Chinese more than seven hundred years before Christ. Five hundred years before Christ what we call the Golden Rule was by the Chinese called "the principle of acting on the square." Mencius, the great Chinese philosopher, who lived in the third century before Christ, teaches that men should apply the square and level to their lives, and speaking figuratively says that he who would acquire wisdom must make use of the square and compasses.

 

 

BOAZ AND JACHIN

 

Solomon, in accordance with the common practice of his day, placed two immense and highly ornate pillars, or columns, at the entrance of his temple. It is well known that King Hiram did the like for the great temple to Melkarth erected by him at Tyre. Many other instances might be cited. Whence originated this custom has been a matter for much speculation. We have seen what was the ancient conception of the form of the earth. To their world the Strait of Gibraltar appeared to be a veritable door of entry. On either side of this entrance rose two enormous rock promontories, Abyla and Calpe, (now called Gibraltar and Ceuta) which completely commanded

 

 

 106                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

egress and ingress and are familiarly known as the Pillars of Hercules. They were believed by the ancients to mark the western boundary of the world. Many have seen in these two vast columns of stone, set by nature to the entrance of the then known world, the counterparts of the pillars so often set by the ancients at the entrance to their temples, which were to them, as the lodge is to us, symbols of the world.

 

            The first objects that engage the attention of the Fellow Craft on his way to the Middle Chamber are the representatives of those pillars at the entrance to Solomon's Temple. In addition to the explanation given in the lodge, they undoubtedly have also an allusion to the two legendary pillars of Enoch upon which tradition tells us all the wisdom of the ancient world was inscribed in order to preserve it "against inundation and conflagrations." Standing at the very threshold of Solomon's Temple, as well as of the Fellow Craft lodge, they admonish us that after a proper moral training the acquisition of wisdom is the next necessary preparation for a useful and successful life.6 Their names, Boaz and Jachin, possess also a moral signification, meaning together that "in strength God will establish His house." Symbolically applied to the candidate, they mean that God will firmly establish the moral and spiritual edifice of the just and upright man.

 

 

THE GLOBES

 

The idea that the globes upon the two brazen pillars represent the globes celestial and terrestrial is certainly modern. The globular form of the earth was unknown to the ancients. Except to a few profound thinkers like Plato, the conception of the earth as a sphere was ut-

 

6 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 219.

 

 

THE FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE                                                               107

 

terly foreign. Not until about the time of the discovery of America did this fact become generally understood.

 

            Moreover, the Bible, at least in English translations, says nothing of any globes upon the pillars, but distinctly states that there were "made two chapiters of molten brass to set upon the tops of the pillars," and that "upon the tops of the pillars was lily-work." (i Kings vii, i6, 22.) The more recent revisions of the Bible call the "chapiters" by their more familiar name of "capitals." The learned Jewish Rabbi, Solomon Jehudi, speaks of them as "pommels," a word signifying a globular ornament. It is well known that many of the architectural features and ornamental designs of Solomon's Temple were borrowed from the Egyptians. The so-called "lily-work" was unquestionably some form of water-lily or lotus pattern of ornamentation so common in ancient architecture and which even now is employed in conventionalised forms nearly everywhere. It sometimes assumes the form of the lotus leaf, at others of the full blown blossom, and at others still of the bud. Our common "egg and dart" pattern is a development therefrom.

 

            At the time of Solomon, one of the most frequent and at the same time one of the most beautiful of the lotus or water-lily designs was the lotus-bud capital, which often assumed an egglike or oval shape. It is accurately indicated by the word "pommel," and indeed this term is employed in some of our Masonic Monitors in lieu of the term "globes." There seems little reason to doubt that the two Brazen Pillars were columns of the Egyptian style with the lotus-bud capitals. Their great diameter as compared to their height (about six diameters) is another strong evidence of their Egyptian derivation. Furthermore, we know that winged globular ornaments, sometimes of immense size, were extensively employed by the

 

 

 

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Egyptians in adorning the entrances to their temples.

 

            The lotus or water-lily was the sacred plant of the Egyptians and among other things signified "Universality." The conclusion, therefore, seems reasonable that, if there was anything like globes on the two Brazen Pillars, they were not true globes of the earth and of the heavens, but representations of the lotus-bud. If so, though the symbol has not been accurately perpetuated, the symbolism has.

 

            There is another ancient conception to which the idea of globes upon the pillars may be related. From remotest times men must have observed that numerous forms of life proceeded from an egg. This observation gave rise to the belief which we know to have been widely disseminated in ancient times, and which modern science has almost completely confirmed, that life in every form proceeds from an egg. This supposed universal source of life became to the ancients the symbol of the source of things universal. In other words, the egg was the symbol of the Universal Mother. It is easily perceivable that to a people entertaining these ideas, globes or eggs mounted upon columns would convey the idea of universality.

 

 

LILY-WORK

 

In addition to the lotus capitals, no doubt the two pillars were, in keeping with the universal custom of the time, further ornamented with various forms of the lotus or water-lily design. The familiar token of peace with us is the palm branch, but to the Egyptian and the Jew this office was fulfilled by the lotus or water-lily. It is, therefore, with precise accuracy that we say that the lotus, or Egyptian water-lily (an entirely different plant from our lily), denotes peace.

 

 

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THE NETWORK

 

The network which adorned the capitals or chapiters of the pillars might be more familiarly described as "lattice-work." Curious specimens of this ornamentation are found in ancient and mediaeval architecture, particularly in that of the Magistri Comacini, or Comacine Masters of Northern Italy. Many of these are of the most beautiful and intricate designs and without either beginning or end. A more appropriate emblem of unity than these could not be conceived.

 

            It is interesting to note in this connection, that recently a very gifted woman, Mrs. Lucy Baxter, writing under the nom de plume of Leader Scott, has in her splendid book, The Cathedral Builders, adduced much evidence to prove that our modern Freemasonry is derived from these same Magistri Comacini, and through them from the Collegia Fabrorum, or Colleges of Builders, of the pre-Christian Roman era. To my mind, one of the strongest of these evidences is the common possession and employment of this network ornamentation. See The Comaeines, by W. Ravenscroft.

 

            This tracing of our society back to the Roman Building Societies of the eighth century before Christ (if it can be sustained) carries us back to the time when we know that building societies were common not only in Rome, but in Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Palestine. Indeed, it is impossible to explain the erection of such architectural wonders as the great pyramids and temples of Egypt, Asia, Greece and Rome, without supposing the existence at that time of building societies, or associations of architects, embracing within themselves the most brilliant intellects and skilful workmen, not only then living, but whose superior the world has never since seen; in other words, precisely such a society as our traditions teach

 

 

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built King Solomon's Temple. Evidences of ancient history point to the existence of such a brotherhood, known as the Dionysian Architects, at Tyre, the home of the two Hirams at the time of the building of the Temple and it was to this place, according to Scripture, that Solomon sent when he wanted artisans competent to carry out his great design.

 

 

THE POMEGRANATE

 

The pomegranate, which also adorned the capitals of the pillars, is a symbol of great antiquity, but its meaning seems to have been sacredly guarded. Pausanias, who wrote about 150 A.D., calls it aporreto teros logos,—i.e., a forbidden mystery. Ancient deities were often depicted holding this fruit in their hands and this, Achilles Statius, Bishop of Alexandria, says "had a mystical meaning." The Syrians at Damascus anciently worshipped a god whom they called "Rimmon," and this we know to be the Hebrew word for pomegranate.

 

            Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough, a most learned antiquarian, guessed that on account of the great number of its seeds a pomegranate in the hand of a god denoted fruitfulness or fecundity. This corresponds closely. enough with the meaning that we, as Masons, attach to it—that of plenty.

 

 

OPERATIVE AND SPECULATIVE MASONRY

 

The candidate is informed that there are two kinds of Masonry, operative and speculative; the one, the erection of material edifices to shelter us from the inclemencies of the seasons; the other, the building of that moral, religious and spiritual edifice, human life and character, that, house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. He

 

 

 

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is reminded of the historical fact that our ancient brethren wrought in both kinds of Masonry, which we work in speculative only. With this distinction in mind, the candidate is expected to be able to grasp the allegorical meanings of the succeeding ceremonies.

 

            We do not regard Speculative Masonry and non-operative Masonry as necessarily synonymous terms. It seems clear that from the remotest times the operative builders were organised into societies or guilds. Though exclusively composed of operative builders, it is quite likely that they possessed speculative doctrines. We know they adorned their edifices with symbols of many kinds and that this continued for ages. It is scarcely conceivable that the operative builders could have thus dealt with symbols for so long a time without eventually having come to regard them as their own, and without attaching to them moral and religious meanings.

 

            If we suppose that in the beginning the workman was employed by the owner and that he built only as he was directed and added only such adornment and symbolism as he was specifically instructed and that this continued to be the case for a long time, it is inevitable that the workman would after a while commence to add symbols of his own accord and that in course of time this would become a common feature of all buildings, particularly those of a sacred character.

 

            Undoubtedly one of the original objects of the secrecy observed by Freemasons was to promote knowledge and skill in architecture and to preserve the trade secrets of the Craft among its members. At that period it was composed almost exclusively of operative masons and so continued for many centuries. But gradually the outside world became cognisant that within the tiled recesses of its lodges were taught, by means of most impressive ceremonies, many of the greatest truths of morals and

 

 

 112                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

religion. Non-masons, therefore, began to seek admission to its mysteries, and the most distinguished for knowledge and virtue were received into its ranks. We may well believe that at this stage the test of worthiness applied to the non-operative seeking admission was rigorous in the extreme. Gradually the non-operatives or, as we would say, the speculative members, began to outweigh in numbers and influence the operative members and eventually the Society became purely speculative. It was, however, a long time before the transformation was complete, beginning probably about A.D. 1450 and extending down to 1717. Scarce two hundred years ago lodges existed whose membership was exclusively operative; others exclusively speculative; and others whose membership was mixed.

 

            As the membership of the Fraternity thus changed, its mission also became altered.

 

            It, therefore, admits of little doubt that our Fraternity is derived from an ancient society of operative builders. Both the external and the internal evidences are so numerous that this fact may be regarded as unquestioned. A question then arises and one which in a large measure affects the meanings of our symbols in every degree, How can it be explained that this Society came to be called the Royal Craft?

 

 

ROYAL TRADITION

 

The claim that our society has from the most ancient times enjoyed the favour, the patronage, the association and in some instances the membership of many of the greatest monarchs of the past has subjected us to much ridicule. It is declared that royalty would scorn to associate with a society of mere operative builders, and that such traditions among us must be set down to mere pride

 

 

 

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and boasting. Another that has created quite as much laughter at our expense is the claim that our society dates back to the beginning of architecture. Understand that we do not insist that we have historical warrant for these claims. We merely insist that they have been neither dis proved nor shown to be unreasonable or unlikely. We have scanty enough references to school, colleges, or societies of builders existing in ancient times, but their existence is proved by the buildings themselves. It is unbelievable that such structures as adorned Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and Palestine, to say nothing of Greece and Rome, could have resulted from the disorganised efforts of individual masons and architects, however skilful they may have been. Such knowledge is not and presumably never was inherited or intuitive. It can now and presumably always could be acquired only by years of hard study from some source where the accumulated learning of all the past was preserved. There must have been some organised institution in which the necessary learning could not only be preserved from generation to generation but where it could be acquired. It was a time when, printing being unknown and writing slow and difficult, books were few and costly. Hence knowledge of the art of building, like all other knowledge, was transmitted by oral communication from father to son, from teacher to pupil, from master to apprentice. It would naturally result that knowledge so rare and so difficult to obtain and of such personal advantage to the possessor should be guarded with great care. A society possessing it must inevitably have become a secret one to the extent at least of withholding its trade secrets from the public at large. It is a safe conclusion that wherever we find in ancient times great architectural works there existed alongside them a society of architects of a more or less secret nature, who designed and built them. Thus we rationally account

 

 

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for the existence in most ancient times of buildings societies making secrets of their trade knowledge. The little evidence of a direct character which we possess is, therefore, sufficient to prove their existence. Our traditions along these lines are, therefore, in accord with what might be reasonably expected.

 

            But how are we to account for or rather to prove the possession of these ancient operative societies of philosophical, moral, and religious tenets and secrets? In other words, while an operative society of builders appears necessary to account for the buildings themselves, what causes could give rise, within it or alongside of it, to a Speculative Masonry? Our traditions claim for our Society cordial, if not intimate, relations in the early times not only with the heads of the church but with the heads of the State; not only with the priesthood but with the royalty. Are these claims likely or unlikely, reasonable or unreasonable, or are they mere presumptuous boasts that ever a society of builders enjoyed the patronage, not to say the association, of kings and priests? The buildings themselves prove another thing, that the men who could design and construct the greatest of them were the equals intellectually of any king or priest who ever lived. There was nothing in association with such men derogatory to the dignity of monarch or high priest. The buildings themselves establish another fact, that in the earliest times the operative builders were employed in the service of (which is but another way of saying enjoyed the patronage of) kings and priests. They prove this because with few exceptions they are temples of religion erected under the immediate direction of the monarch. We credit these priests and monarchs with little intelligence to suppose that their curiosity and desire to learn would not be aroused by witnessing the rise of such stupendous and magnificent structures. On the other hand.

 

 

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however willing the builders might be to impart knowledge of this art to them, they could not learn without coming into intimate association with the builders. We can not conceive how intelligent monarchs and priests could fail to enter into cordial relations of some sort with such master artists whose services they were constantly requiring. The more enlightened a monarch or priest the closer and warmer would be their relation. To this very natural result and not to mere vainglory may be attributed the fact that it is the greatest monarchs and priests of the past with whom our society claims association.

 

 

THE WINDING STAIRS

 

In the Winding Stairs an architectural feature of Solomon's Temple is seized upon to symbolise the journey of life. It is not a placid stream down which one may lazily float, it is not even a straight or level pathway along which one may travel with a minimum of exertion; it is a devious and tortuous way, requiring labour and effort for its accomplishment. This is appropriately symbolised by a winding stairway. It teaches us that our lives should be neither downward nor on a dead level, but, although difficult, progressive and upward.

 

 

SCIENCE OF NUMBERS

 

The Winding Stairs consist of 3, 5 and 7 steps, numbers  which among the ancients were deemed of a mysterious nature. This introduces us to what is one of the most curious bodies of learning of the ancient world, what is known as their science of numbers, many fragments of which are scattered throughout Masonry. It is exceedingly difficult for the modern mind to get any grasp whatever upon what is meant by this so-called

 

 

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science, so highly speculative was it. It does not allude as its name might seem to indicate to any of the mathematical sciences, or anything akin to them. It was a system or moral science or philosophy, wherein numbers were given symbolical meaning and the letters of the alphabet were given numerical values; whence words were supposed to have certain occult significations according to the sums or multiples of the numerical equivalents of its letters. The elaboration of this idea was productive of what is known as the Hebrew Kabala. Pythagoras is reputed to have introduced this school among the Greeks and according to Aristotle he taught that "Number is the principle of all things and that the organisation of the Universe is an harmonic system of numerical ratios." 7 To illustrate:—the soul was made to correspond to the number 6, and 7 was the counterpart of reason and health.

 

            The numbers 3, 5 and 7 had many meanings among the Jews which are not elucidated in the lodge. The preservation in our ritual of hints of this learning of a past age is now chiefly valuable to us as a proof of the antiquity of Masonic symbolism.8 There is another interesting feature of the total number of steps of the Winding Stairs, fifteen in all. This was an important symbol among the Jews, because it was the sum of the numerical equivalents of the Hebrew letters composing the word J A H—one of the names of Deity.

 

            It will also be noted that the number of each series of steps, three, five and seven, as well as the total number of steps, fifteen, is odd. As we have seen, odd numbers were by the ancients regarded with greater veneration than were even numbers. Vitruvius, the great Roman

 

 

7 Universal Cyclopedia, Vol. IX, p. 560.

8 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, pp. 219, 225.

 

 

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architect, who flourished just before Christ, states that the ancient temples were always approached by an odd number of steps. The reason, he says, was that commencing with the right foot.at the bottom, the worshipper would find the same foot in advance when he entered the temple, and that this was considered a favourable omen. The thoughtful Mason cannot fail to be struck with the coincidence here indicated.

 

 

THE THREE STEPS

 

Adopting the method of these ancient men but varying the meaning, we make the number 3 allude to the organisation of our Society with its three degrees and its three principal officers. Among the earliest realisations of every man is that no man lives to himself alone; that he is dependent upon his fellow-creatures and they upon him; that he owes them and they owe him mutual aid, support and protection; that to secure these advantages some must rule and some must at least temporarily obey; that there must be classes and that progress from one class to another must depend upon proficiency in the former. This state of mutual obligation and mutual dependence of men upon one another we call Society. The Three Steps, alluding to the three degrees and the division of our society into those who govern and those who obey, leads to the ideas of organisation and subordination in the lodge. We have seen that the lodge symbolises the world; so its organisation symbolises that of the world into society and governments. Dr. Mackey says "that the reference to the organisation of the Masonic institution is intended to remind the aspirant of the union of men into society and the development of the social state out of the state of nature. He is thus reminded in the

 

 

 118                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

very outset of his journey of the blessings which arise from civilisation and of the fruits of virtue and the knowledge which are derived from that condition." In the allusion to the affairs of the lodge and the degrees of Masonry as explanatory of the organisation of our own society, "we clothe in symbolic language," says Dr. Mackey, "the history of the organisation of society" in general .9 This feature is brought out prominently in many Monitors.

 

 

THE OFFICERS OF THE LODGE

 

It is said that the Master and Wardens bear a solar symbolism but this is too abstruse and too lengthy for us to enter upon here.10 We are more interested in a very practical symbolism borne by them. If we remember that the lodge typifies human society organised into government, then it becomes at once apparent that the officers of the lodge chosen for fixed periods symbolise the officers chosen for the time being to administer the affairs of the state. The lessons and admonitions of obedience to the officers of the lodge given to its members and the injunctions of moderation, fairness, and justice towards the members of the lodge, laid upon the officers at their installation, typify most strikingly the relative duties which the citizens and the officers of the state owe to each other. With this symbolism in mind make a new study of those portions of our ritual dealing with and defining the mutual attitudes of the officers and members of the lodge toward each other and these parts of our ritual will take On new meanings. This feature is brought out strongly in the Past Master's Degree as given in the Chapter.

 

            9 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p.

            10 ibid., p. 106.

 

 

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THE FIVE SENSES

 

No representation of the pathway to knowledge would of course be complete without some allusion to the means by which it is to be acquired. Thus are the allusions to the five senses to be understood. A moment's reflection will prove to us that through them we gain all our knowledge and that without them we could learn nothing. What wonderful and noble faculties and yet how seldom even thought of by us and how little appreciated and understood! What a truly marvellous organ is the eye, which can without contact make us sensible of the presence, the form and the colour, of objects at a distance and through which we obtain our knowledge and appreciation of all that is beautiful in nature. The senses of hearing and feeling are scarcely less wonderful and are equally important. A little reflection will also furnish us with additional reasons to those given in the lodge why hearing, seeing and feeling are most revered by Masons. These are in every way the most important. Consider for a moment the relatively small part of our knowledge that comes through tasting and smelling, and how utterly useless these two senses were to our ancient brethren in their operative labours. Then consider again how helpless a human creature would be who possessed neither hearing, seeing nor feeling. Helen Keller is rightly considered a marvel, yet she is bereft of only two of these, hearing and seeing. Deprive her of her finely attenuated sense of feeling and it would have been impossible for her to have made any progress whatever in knowledge. Commenting on this part of the ritual, Thomas Smith Webb says, "To sum up the whole of this transcendent measure of God's bounty to man, we shall add that memory, imagination, taste, reasoning, moral perception and all

 

 

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the active powers of the soul present a vast and boundless field for philosophical disquisition which far exceeds human inquiry." We could have none of these without the five senses, and they are, therefore, introduced as symbols of intellectual cultivation.11

 

But the five senses are only ministers or servants to still more important and more mysterious attributes or powers of the human mind, such as consciousness and subconsciousness, reason, memory, expectation, experience, imagination, taste, psychic feelings, emotions, attention, cognition, conation, desire, perception, judgment, ideation, understanding, belief, etc. To get any adequate conception of the vast field covered by the characteristics and attributes of the human mind turn to some standard treatise on psychology. Consider imagination: without it we could not have looked into the future and seen anything which we had not already experienced. Improvement along any line could have been nothing but fortunate blundering; we could not have consciously gone to work to test the truthfulness of reality of a hypothesis, something we had only imagined or seen in our mind's eye. A wild or uncontrolled imagination we call insanity, but a sane imagination has been the mother of all conscious human progress. Consider the power of reasoning: a disordered reason is insanity, but without reason we could from facts experienced draw no conclusion as to facts not already known. The man who allows his imagination and reasoning processes to run away with his judgment is no less an object of either condemnation or pity than. is the man who allows his appetite and passions to overcome him.

 

            Yet, who would, if he could, chain the human imagination? Who would, if he could, strip us of our natural impulse to draw deductions and conclusions? Misleading

 

11 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 222.

 

 

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as these two attributes of the human mind are when not kept in restraint, they lie at the fountain head of nearly all our knowledge and of our achievements.

 

            The disquisition upon the five senses of human nature which appears in our American Monitors may be found in the English Monitors also which preceded the revision of Dr. Hemming in 1813. He eliminated all reference to them and they are still missing from English "work." We feel that in some way Dr. Hemming must surely have failed to catch the meaning of this part of our symbolism. Dr. George Oliver, an eminent and learned English Mason, deplores the omission and says that it ought by all means to be restored.

 

            Having thus indicated to the candidate something of the importance and the means of acquiring knowledge, the proper fields of study and investigation are next pointed out.

 

 

THE FIVE ORDERS IN ARCHITECTURE

 

The five steps are said to allude further to the five orders in architecture, the Tuscan, the Doric, the Ionic, the Corinthian and the Composite. Their origins and their relative merits are pointed out, and we are told something of architecture in general. We would naturally expect something on this subject in a society derived from one of actual builders and architects, and here we have an internal evidence of the great age of Freemasonry. This is a flotsam which has been wafted to us down the stream of time from that remote period when Freemasonry was an organisation of operative Masons. To our speculative society it typifies all the other useful arts and serves to convey to the intelligent mind the truth that architecture considered as one of the fine arts is a subject well worthy of our study. It is through architecture

 

 

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that every great people have left the enduring records of their fame. Books perish and decay, but from their buildings, which still remain, we know for a certainty of the great nations of antiquity. George Moller, in his charming essay on Gothic Architecture, speaks of these architectural remains as "documents of stone" and declares that they "afford to those who can read them the most lively picture of centuries that have lapsed." 12

 

 

THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES

 

Other fields of study are said to consist of the seven liberal arts and sciences and are enumerated as grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. In our Fellow Craft's charge we are recommended to study "the liberal arts and sciences which tend so effectually to polish and adorn the mind." In England (Emulation Working) the candidate is informed that he "is expected to make the liberal arts and sciences his future study, that he may the better be enabled to discharge his duties as a Mason, and estimate the wonderful works of the Almighty." 13 It is, of course, obvious at a glance that these seven subjects enumerated above by no means exhaust the fields of knowledge now open to man, but the time once was when they did. And herein is another incontestible evidence of the great age of Freemasonry and its ceremonies. We cannot do better than quote Enfield. He says that in the seventh century, that is to say 1300 years ago, "these seven heads were supposed to include universal knowledge. He who was master of these was thought to

 

12 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, pp. 222, 223; Masonic Magazine, Vol. VI, p. 427.

13 Yarker, Arcane Schools, p. 118

 

 

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have no need of a preceptor to explain any books or to solve any questions which lay within the compass of human reason; knowledge of the trivium (as grammar, rhetoric and logic were then denominated) having furnished him with the key to all language, and that of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy) having opened to him the secret laws of nature." At a period, says Dr. Mackey, "when few were instructed in the trivium and very few studied the quadrivium, to be master of both was sufficient to complete the character of a philosopher."  14

 

The term trivium means the three ways, or paths, and quadrivium the four ways, or paths, of knowledge. Hence it is with the greatest propriety that it is said that we are taught in the Fellow Craft Degree to explore the paths of heavenly science." 15

 

 

THE LETTER   G

 

This is the initial of our name for Deity and is appropriate enough in lodges employing the English language, but our greatest scholars maintain that the proper and original letter is the letter Yod, which is the initial of the name of Deity in the Hebrew language. A volume of abstruse symbolism revolves around this letter which it is impossible even to enter upon here. 16 The serious Masonic student must read and study it for himself.

 

            However, whatever other meanings it may bear, it serves again to remind us of the existence and beneficence of Deity and of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence.

 

            14 Enfield, History of Philosophy, Vol. II, p. 337; Mackey, Sym- bolism of Freemasonry, p. 224.

            15 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, pp. 223, 224.

            16 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 15.

 

 

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GEOMETRY

 

Another numerous class of Masonic symbols are geometrical figures, the square, the triangle, the pentalpha, the hexalpa, the circle, etc. We know that some of them have been employed for ages as symbols of moral qualities.

 

            Geometry is defined as that "branch of pure mathematics that treats of space and its relations; the science of the mutual relations of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids, considered as having no properties but those arising from extension and differences of situation." (Standard Dictionary). Or, as defined in our Masonic Monitors, it is "that science which treats of the power and properties of magnitude in general, where length, breadth, and thickness are considered, from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, and from a superficies to a solid." It is by this science that we lay off angles, triangles, circles, squares, etc., etc., and are enabled to calculate their dimensions and areas. By it the surveyor measures land, locates rivers and seas, delineates the boundaries of oceans, and fixes the limits of nations. By it all architectural plans are devised and the movements of the heavenly bodies are calculated. It is highly probable that at an early period every Masonic lodge was a school of architecture and that the mastery of this subject led to the study of the other liberal arts and sciences, particularly Geometry. This accounts for many features of our ritual that are otherwise inexplicable.

 

            Pre-eminence is given by our ritual to the science of Geometry. It and its allied branches (trigonometry, architecture and astronomy) were the only exact sciences known to the ancients, and the perfection to which they

 

 

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had reduced them is even now constantly surprising us. By them all mathematical calculations were made. Arithmetic and algebra in the modern sense were then unknown. The astonishing results obtained by them from an application of geometrical processes were well calculated to impress the mind. As the only exact science known to them, Geometry was the most appropriate emblem of moral perfection, in an age when everything had its symbol. We accordingly read in our Masonic Monitors that of the seven liberal arts and sciences, "Geometry is the most revered by Masons"; that "it is the foundation of architecture and the root of mathematics"; that it is "the first and noblest of sciences"; that it is "the basis on which the superstructure of Masonry is erected"; that by it "we may curiously trace nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses"; and "discover the power, the wisdom and the goodness of the Grand Artificer of the Universe"; that "Geometry, or Masonry, originally synonymous terms, being of a divine and moral nature, is enriched with the most useful knowledge"; that "while it proves the wonderful properties of nature, it demonstrates the more important truths of morality."

 

It cannot be denied that to the present generation and in our present state of learning, Geometry is nothing of the kind. To any one except a Freemason, and to the great majority of them, the idea that Geometry incalculates moral truth is utterly foreign and incomprehensible. Those members of the Craft who have ever thought of the matter at all as a rule look upon these expressions as crude extravagances, as distorted attempts to attach a speculative meaning to a science or an art which had never properly borne any other than a practical signification. We are not surprised, it is true, to find still incorporated in our system these inheritances

 

 

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of a past age and simply tolerate them as such without any serious attempt to ascertain their meaning or to measure their significance.

 

            While, as stated, Geometry does not at present enjoy any such an enviable distinction among the sciences as that claimed for it in our Masonic ritual, yet the time once was when it was precisely so regarded by the wisest of men on earth. 17

 

What then is the significance of these ideas of a past age in our Masonic system? It seems to me to afford the strongest internal evidence of the great age of our Masonic ritual and symbolism.

 

            The seven liberal arts and sciences, as enumerated in the lodge, are not now to be understood literally, but rather as a symbol of what they once were in fact, namely, the entire domain of human knowledge and research. No one man is, of course, expected to cultivate the whole of this vast field, but this part of the ceremony of passing urges upon us the importance and the duty of constantly applying our minds to the attainment of wisdom in some of its forms. We have no right to be idle. It is a sin against God, ourselves and society. Whatever others may be, Masons have no right to be idlers and loafers. It is our God-given privilege and our solemn duty to work, work, work, not because a night is coming when man's work is done, but that we may be able to do better work and more work in that brighter day that all good Masons expect to see when this life has passed away.

 

 

THE WAGES OF A FELLOW CRAFT

 

In the Middle Chamber we are informed what the wages shall be to the faithful Craftsman who has ob-

 

17 A. Q. C., Vol. X, p. 82; "Freemason" (London), Vol. XLVIII, P. 417.

 

 

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served the moral and the divine law and wasted not his time in idleness or vice. We are told that. they shall be corn, wine and oil. Such was literally true to our ancient operative brethren, as our old documents abundantly prove. With us, of course, they are not received in the realistic sense, but emblematically. From a remoteness of time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, the spica, or ear of corn, has symbolised plenty; wine has symbolised health; and oil has symbolised peace.

 

The faithful Fellow Craft is, therefore, assured that his wages, his reward, shall be plenty, not mere sufficiency but plenitude to supply all his physical, moral and spiritual wants; health of body, mind and soul; peace in this life, in the hour of death, and in the life to come.

 

While we have by no means exhausted the subject this, my brethren, is briefly the meaning and purpose of the Fellow Craft Degree, and, if you do not already, we are sure that a little study and reflection will lead you to agree that in beauty and purity and loftiness of conception this Degree is worthy to keep company with those splendid degrees of Entered Apprentice and Master Mason.

 

           


 

PART THREE: THE MASTER MASON

DEGREE


 

PART THREE

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE

 

Many of the lessons of the Third Degree are obvious to the most superficial mind, but others (and these the most important) are grasped only after long and patient study. We shall not attempt anything original, but only lay before you in an imperfect way a few of the reflections and conclusions of some of our most trustworthy Masonic scholars.

 

            We believe, as we have several times observed, that it is susceptible of the clearest proof that Freemasonry, viewed in the aggregate, is an elaborate allegory of human life, that the Three Degrees considered collectively, symbolically epitomise man's existence both here and in the hereafter. Our excuse for recurring to this idea is that Speculative Masonry can not otherwise adequately be explained. The lodge is emblematical of the world; initiation, of birth; the Entered Apprentice, of the preparatory stage of life, or youth; the Fellow Craft, of the constructive stage, or manhood; the Master Mason, of the reflective stage, or old age, death, the resurrection, and the everlasting life. This explanation of the Three Degrees is briefly given in our lecture on the "Three Steps" delineated on the Master's Carpet. Any symbol or any meaning attributed to a symbol which does not legitimately contribute to this allegory may be discarded as non-Masonic.

 

 

THE ANTIQUITY OF MASONIC SYMBOLISM

 

The age of our symbolism is an important question in this connection, because upon it to a great extent depend

 

131

 

 

 132                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

the meanings that must be assigned to our symbols. While some of them may be of comparatively modern origin, many of them are older than the oldest written language.

 

            Says Brother Robert Freke Gould, one of the most cautious of our historians:

 

"The symbolism of Masonry, or at all events a material part of it, is of very great antiquity, and in substance the system of Masonry we now possess, including the Three Degrees of the Craft, has come down to us in all its essentials from times remote to our own." 1

 

Another of our historians of the most exacting school, Brother William James Hughan, declares that "symbolism in connection with Freemasonry antedates our oldest records."

 

Even this cautious statement would date our symbolism back more than five hundred years, and Brother Gould is on record as declaring that, if it can be put back that far, there is practically no limit backward to which its beginning must be assigned.2  Another distinguished Masonic scholar, Brother George William Speth, records his belief that "the greater part of our symbolism (including all essentials) is undoubtedly mediaeval at least, and probably centuries older than that." 3

 

Still another, Brother William Simpson, distinguished as an orientalist, says:

 

"The more important Masonic symbols are ancient and their true meanings can only be found by tracing them back into the past. This will be found to be

 

 

 1 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 10      

2 Ibid., p. 24.

3 Ibid., P. 27.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             133

 

particularly the case with the Third Degree; its true meaning can only be realised by the study of similar rites which appear to go far back into the history of our race." 4

 

These are the opinions of men who, noted for their scholarship, have disregarded our Masonic traditions and studied the question from the purely historical viewpoint.

 

            Following them (and if they cannot be followed there are none who can be), our symbolism has come down to us from ancient times.

 

            Of some of these symbols we know a part at least of their meanings, but of some we know nothing at all. We get a hint from Brother Pike that much of our symbolism has been forgotten, and Brother Gould asserts the same and declares that "to a considerable portion of the symbolism of Freemasonry, even at this day, no meaning can be assigned which is entirely satisfactory to the intelligent mind." 5

 

Heckethorn, a non-Mason, says that many of the mystical figures and schemes of very ancient times are preserved in Masonry though their meaning is no longer understood by the Fraternity.6 It should therefore be obvious that if we are ever to re-acquire this lost knowledge, we must have recourse to the records and institutions of ancient times.

 

 

THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES

 

Do we find any institutions in ancient times similar to our own and employing our symbols for like purposes? We answer at once that we do.

 

            In all periods from the dawn of history till about the fifth century, A.D., there is recorded the existence in

 

4 A. Q. C., Vol. III p. 26.

5 Ibid., p. 23.

6 Ibid., p. 24.

 

 

134                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

nearly every known country of secret societies which, so far as our knowledge of them enables us to judge, were strikingly like Freemasonry in all except name. Our foremost Masonic historian, Brother Gould, says that they taught precisely the same doctrines in precisely the same way. These ancient societies bearing different names in different countries, yet appearing everywhere to have been the same thing, are generically termed "The Ancient Mysteries."

 

In Egypt they were known as the Mysteries of Osiris and Isis, and these appear to have been the model for all others. They prevailed in Egypt, India, Persia, Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, and many other countries. The most ancient of these were certainly in existence as early as 3000 B.C., and some of them were still flourishing in Western Europe, in a corrupted state, it is true, as gate as the fourth century of the Christian era.

 

            Notwithstanding their differences in name, it does not admit of a doubt that they were all substantially the same; "so much so," it has been said by high Masonic authority, "that we may conclude either that they were all independent copies from a great original or that they were propagated one from another." Brother Gould, than whom no more judicious historian has ever written on any subject, thinks they were only differentiated types of one original form of worship, the object of which was in every instance the God of Light and of Truth and of Beneficence. The Osiris of Egypt, the Brahma of India, the Mithras of Persia, the Bacchus (or Dionysius) of Greece, the Bel (or Baal) of the Chaldeans, the Belenus of Gaul, the Baldur of Scandinavia, the Adonis of Phoenicia, and the Adonai of the Jews were all the same god; each to his own people, was the Supreme One, the Creator, the Enlightener, Lord and Master. All the mysteries taught a more or less pure system of monotheism, though

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             135

 

coupled with the idea of a Trinity, or one God in three persons. Their Trinity differed from ours, however, in that they conceived it to be a male, female and offspring, or Father, Mother and Son. They taught also the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul.7

 

Cicero tells us that in the Eleusinian Mysteries they were taught to live virtuously and happily and to die in the hope of a blessed futurity.8

 

The great. doctrine of immortality of the soul," says Brother Gould, "and the teachings of the two lives, the present and the future, are to be found in the Ancient Mysteries, where precisely the same doctrines were taught in precisely the same way" that they are now taught by the Freemasons.

 

            It seems that among pagan people of ancient times a few superior minds and spirits were found who did not accept the idolatrous notions of the populace as an adequate conception of the Deity and who searched constantly in the great book of nature in the effort to find out and understand Him aright. To have openly proclaimed their beliefs and their rejection of the popular gods and popular religion would have but called down upon themselves contempt and ridicule and doubtless persecutions. They, therefore, chose to drift along with the common herd to all outward appearances, reserving the contemplation and discussion of their cherished beliefs for secret communication with those of kindred mind in societies where they were secure from observation and the interference of the outside world. Such seems to have been the occasion of the origin of these ancient fraternities.

 

7 Gould, Concise History of Freemasonry, pp. 24, 25.

8 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 36; Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 515.

 

 

136                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            These societies were characterised by fixed forms of initiation, successive steps, or degrees, oaths of secrecy, a symbolical system of teaching, and the possession of emblems and perhaps of grips, signs and words of recognition.9 Their rites were usually celebrated at night in chambers securely guarded against intrusion and arranged similarly to our lodges, often with the three chief officers seated in the South, West and East. With all of them the East was an object of peculiar veneration as the source of light and knowledge.

 

            Initiation was an allegorical search for light and knowledge and consisted of prescribed physical and moral preparations of the candidate, lustrations, purifications and the administrations of oaths of secrecy; the ushering from darkness to light symbolising a transformation from ignorance to knowledge, from corruption to moral and spiritual purity; the investiture with an emblem of this purity consisting sometimes of a white apron, sometimes of a white sash or robe; the encountering of trials and dangers sometimes mock and sometimes real. In the Mithraic Mysteries the candidate was received into the place of initiation upon the point of a sword piercing his naked left breast. Many of their symbols were identical with those that can now be seen in any Masonic lodge.

 

            To each of the Ancient Mysteries pertained a characteristic legend, which was made the instrumentality of teaching with great impressiveness the doctrines of the resurrection and immortality.

 

            The legend of Osiris, probably the oldest and the model for all the others, was as follows; Osiris, meaning the soul of the Universe, the Governor of nature, was at once king and god of the Egyptians. The name appears as far back as 3000

 

9 Yarker, Arcane Schools, p. 113.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             137

 

B.C. Having taught civilisation, the arts and agriculture to his own people, he magnanimously resolved to spread in person their benign influence throughout the world. Leaving his kingdom in charge of his wife, Isis, he departed upon his beneficent mission. After an absence of three years he returned, but meanwhile his brother Typhon had organised a conspiracy to murder him and seize the throne. At a grand banquet given in honour of his return, Typhon provided a magnificent chest which exactly fitted the body of Osiris. All the other guests being in the conspiracy, they feigned great admiration of the chest and finally Typhon announced that he would give it to the one whose body it would most neatly contain. Osiris, trying the box, was no sooner in it than the lid was clapped down and securely fastened and the whole thrown into the river Nile. It was borne out to sea by the current and in course of time was cast ashore at Byblos, in Phoenicia, at the foot of an acacia tree. The tree grew up rapidly and completely encased the chest containing the body of Osiris.

 

            No sooner had Isis learned of the fate of her husband than, weeping, she set out in search of his body and on her way interrogated every one she met for information concerning its whereabouts. Virgins accompanied her who dressed and combed her hair.

 

            She finally discovered the body in the acacia tree, but the king of that country, struck with the tree's beauty caused it to be cut down and a column made of it for his palace. Isis thereupon engaged herself to the king as a nurse for his children and asked and received for her pay this column. The column was broken and the body released and at once borne back to Egypt, but before it could be properly interred it was again seized by Typhon and cut into fourteen pieces and these hidden in as many places. After long search Isis succeeded in finding and bringing together all the parts except the phallus, and the

 

 

 138                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

body was embalmed and buried in due form. It will be borne in mind that according to ancient Egyptian ideas there could be no resurrection in the absence of the body; hence, the great care with which they embalmed their dead. As soon as the body of Osiris had been recovered and buried, it was announced that he had risen from the dead and had resumed his place among the gods.

 

            The ceremonies of initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries dramatically represented the death of Osiris, the search for his body, its discovery in the acacia tree, and its burial and resurrection, the murdered god being personated by the candidate.

 

            Pertaining to each of the mysteries was a counterpart of this legend. In Greece, Osiris became Bacchus (not the drunken Bacchus of later ages), who is slain by the Titans and his limbs torn asunder. Isis becomes Rhea, who after long and bitter search finds and inters his body, and in due course he takes his place among the gods. In the Dionysian Mysteries celebrated in his honour an effigy was stretched upon a couch, as if dead, while his votaries bitterly bewailed his decease. After a proper time the figure was quickly removed and the announcement made that the god had risen from the dead. Likewise in some of the Mysteries of India the candidate underwent an allegorical death, burial and resurrection. Those celebrated in Phcenicia during the time of Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre and Hiram Abif were obvious copies of those of Egypt. Adonis and Venus became substitutes in the legend for Osiris and Isis. During the course of these Mysteries, with which our three ancient Grand Masters must have been familiar, an image was laid upon a bier as if it were a dead body. During a momentary darkness the figure was invisibly removed, after which it was announced that the god had

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             139

 

risen from the dead. The substantial identity with each other of all these Mysteries and doctrines they were intended to inculcate is obvious.

 

            It is claimed by students of ancient mythology, that this legend of the Mysteries and the ceremonies based on it were all prophetic of the coming of a Messiah, who should triumph over death and the grave, and thereby demonstrate to mankind for a certainty that there is a life after death. That this was common belief, not merely among the Jews, but the Egyptians, Phcenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Chaldeans, Hindus, Greeks and Romans is now generally conceded.

 

            The teachings of the Mysteries have been thus summarised:

 

"They diffused a spirit of unity and humanity; purified the soul from ignorance and pollution; secured the peculiar aid of the gods; the means of arriving at the perfection of virtue; the serene happiness of a holy life; the hope of a peaceful death and endless felicity in the Elysian fields; whilst those not initiated therein should dwell after death in places of darkness and horror."

 

Thus did these ancient societies seek by means of the dramatic presentation of a legend to teach the great Masonic doctrines of the resurrection and the life after death.

 

            There were lectures explanatory of the Mysteries, but the crowning ceremony of initiation was the communication to the candidate of an ineffable name which it was lawful to speak only on certain occasions and in a certain manner. Among the Egyptians, Persians and Hindus, notwithstanding their wide separation, this was the mysterious AUM, pronounced OM. We have purposely mingled things dissimilar with things similar to Free-

 

 

 140                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

masonry, but the intelligent Master Mason will be able to detect the points of resemblance.

 

            Brother Robert Freke Gould, whom we have already several times quoted, without venturing to pronounce Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries identical, says:

 

"It is a well known fact that these Mysteries offer striking analogies with much that is found in Freemasonry; their celebration in grottoes or covered halls, which symbolised the Universe, and which in disposition and decoration presented a distinct counterpart to our lodge; their division into degrees conferred by the initiatory rites wonderfully like our own; their method of teaching through the same astronomic symbolism the highest truths then known in' Philosophy and Morals; their mystic bond of secrecy, toleration, equality and brotherly love."

 

He intimates strongly his belief that Freemasonry is a development out of the Mysteries of Mithras, which, originating in Persia, spread to Greece, Rome and Western Europe and lingered there until the fourth or fifth century, A.D., and for a long time was a formidable rival of Christianity.

 

            Enough has been said on this point to make it plain that any one who would understand our Masonic symbolism must at least make a study of what these same symbols meant to these ancient societies.

 

 

THIRD DEGREE SYMBOLS

 

We shall not lengthen this chapter and tax your patience by repeating explanations laid down in our Monitors and lectures. We shall for the most part confine ourselves to things that are not explained at all, or that are explained inadequately.

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             141

 

Many of the symbols of the Master Mason Degree are common to the preceding degrees and these we shall touch upon very briefly. There is, however, discoverable in their use, as the degrees progress, an increasing seriousness and depth of meaning.

 

            For instance, in the first two degrees, the lodge symbolises the world, the place where all workmen labour at useful avocations and in the acquisition of human knowledge and virtue. But in the Master's Degree it represents the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies of King Solomon's Temple, which was itself a symbol of Heaven, or the abode of Deity. It was there that nothing earthly or unclean was allowed to enter; it was there that the visible presence of the Deity was said to dwell between the Cherubim. In the Master's lodge, therefore, we are symbolically brought into the awful presence of the Deity. The reference here to death and the future life is obvious and is a further evidence that this degree typifies old age and death.

 

            But there is even a deeper symbolism in the Master's lodge. The allusion is not only to the sacred chamber of Solomon's physical temple, it alludes also to the sacred chamber of that spiritual temple we all are, or should be, namely, a pure heart, and admonishes us to make of it a place fit for Deity himself to dwell.

 

            The likening of the human body to a temple of the Deity is an ancient metaphor. Jesus said, in speaking of the temple of his body, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Again, Paul says, "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye." We quote these passages not as a Christian doctrine, but as a beautiful expression of Jewish thought far older than Christianity. We can with diffi-

 

 

 142                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

culty conceive the extreme sacredness of the Temple in the eyes of the Jew. It far exceeded the veneration with which we now regard our churches and synagogues. This idea once comprehended shows how greatly this figure of speech ennobles the human body. It declares it a fit dwelling place for Deity himself.

 

            In the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Degrees, Light typifies the acquisition of human knowledge and virtue; in the Master Mason Degree it typifies the revelation of divine truth in the life that is to come.

 

            In the first two degrees the Square and Compasses denote the earth and inculcate and impress upon us the desirability of curbing our passion; in the Third Degree the Compasses symbolise what is heavenly, because to our ancient brethren the visible heavens bore the aspect of circles and arches, geometrical figures produced with the Compasses.

 

            In some of the Monitors we are told that "the Compasses are peculiarly consecrated to this degree," but the reasons there given are not satisfying. In ancient symbolism the square signified the earth, while the circle, a figure produced with the Compasses, signified the sun or the heavens. The Square therefore symbolised what is earthly and material while the Compasses signified the . heavenly and the spiritual. It is not without significance, therefore, that in the Entered Apprentice Degree, both points of the Compasses are beneath the Square, that in the Fellow Craft Degree one point is above the Square, while in the Master Mason Degree both points are above, signifying that in the true Master, the spiritual has obtained full mastery and control over the earthly and the material.10

 

 

10 Pike, Morals and Dogma, pp. 850, 854.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             143

 

DISCALCEATION

 

Discalceation, or the plucking off of one's shoes, was in the Entered Apprentice Degree, as we there learned, a symbol of fidelity to our fellow ,man. In this degree, however, it alludes to an ancient act of homage paid by man to Deity, namely, the Eastern custom that prevailed among both Jews and Gentiles of entering only barefooted into any sacred place or upon any holy ground. In the one case, this practice was a testimony of man to man; in the other, it is a testimony of man to his Creator.

 

            Pythagoras taught his disciples in these words, "Offer sacrifice and worship with thy shoes off." Adam Clarke includes the universality of this custom among his thirteen proofs that all mankind has descended from common ancestors. A Master Mason's lodge represents, as we have seen, the Holy of Holies of Solomon's Temple into which the High Priest alone entered only once yearly, and then with bare feet. The lodge in some of the old rituals is said to stand on holy ground. God said to Moses at the burning bush: "Put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." 11

 

Note also the deeper significance of the shock of reception as the degrees progress. In the first, the appeal is to the sense of fear, in other words, purely physical. In the second, appeal is made to the moral sense and inculcates fair dealing with men, but in the third it is not merely to our sense of justice towards our fellow man, but to our brotherly love for him and to those higher reflective elements of our nature whose proverbial seat is the breast.

 

            It is a mistake to limit the "Brotherly Love" of this degree to members of the Masonic Fraternity. If the lodge symbolises the world, as it undoubtedly does, so should its members symbolise all the inhabitants thereof.

 

            11 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 125.

 

 

144                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            The love that should prevail among the members of the lodge, therefore typifies the love that should prevail among all mankind. In the highest sense all men are our brothers precisely as we are so strikingly taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan that all men are our neighbours.

 

 

CIRCUMAMBULATION

 

Circumambulation, from the Latin word circumambudare, to walk around, is a very ancient rite, one common to all the Ancient Mysteries. The sun, the fructifier and giver of life, in his daily course across the heavens, appears to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, where the ancient world dwelt, to proceed from the East by the way of the South to the West, and thence through the darkness of the night via the North back to the East again. Vegetation was seen to spring up, animal life to be aroused from slumber and take on increased energy, as the King of Day moved with dignity across the heavens. To the untutored mind of primeval man it is not strange that the sun should appear to be the giver of life, the very Creator himself. His apparent course, therefore, from East through the South to the West and back to the East by way of the North became the "course of life," as the ancients expressed it.

 

            The ancients in their ceremonies when representing life pursued this course, and we Masons follow their example. To proceed in the reverse direction typified death, and as every Master Mason knows at one important point in our ceremonies we take this reverse course. At the grave of a deceased brother, however, contrary to what might be expected, we still follow the course of life as a token of our belief in the life that follows death.12

 

 

            12 Oliver, Signs and Symbols, p. to; Transactions, Lodge of Research, Leicester, t000-to, p. 42.

 

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             145

 

 

THE WORKING TOOLS

 

With us in America the especial working tool of a Master Mason is said to be the Trowel. In England, this symbol is almost obsolete, and there the Skirret, Pencil and Compasses are employed.

 

            Of the Trowel, Dr. George Oliver, a noted but somewhat discredited Masonic authority, says:

 

"The triangle, now called the Trowel, was an emblem of very extensive application and was much revered by ancient nations as containing the greatest and most abstruse mysteries; that it signified equally Deity, Creation and Fire."

 

We will learn directly something more of the symbolical signification of the triangle.

 

            The Skirret, the Pencil and the Compasses are not enumerated in America among the working tools of a Master Mason. The Skirret is an instrument working on a centre pin and used by the operative Mason to mark out on the ground the foundation of the intended structure. The Pencil is employed in drafting the plans and the Compasses in determining the limit and proportions of its several parts. Symbolically they are explained in English (Emulation Working) in the following words:

 

"The Skirret points out to us that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our guidance in the volume of the sacred law. The Pencil teaches us that all our words and actions are not only observed, but are recorded by the Most High, to whom we must render an account of our conduct through life. The Compasses remind us of his unerring and impartial justice, which, having defined for our instruction the limits of good and evil, will

 

 

 146                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

either reward or punish us, as we have obeyed or disregarded His divine commands." 13

 

We must admit that the Trowel would seem properly to belong to the Fellow Craft, who in operative Masonry puts the stones in place, rather than to the designer and overseer who corresponds to our Master Mason.

 

            Brother John Yarker in his Arcane Schools says that the Skirret as a hieroglyphic signifies the origin of things (Pp. 33, 220).

 

 

BROACHED THURNEL

 

In English working, we hear of another working-tool, but the strange part of it is that neither our English brethren nor we know what it is or rather was. We refer to the so-called "Broached Thurnel." Of it Brother George William Speth, a most learned Mason, says: "It was never understood by Grand Lodge Masons; the various and contradictory uses ascribed to it at one and the same time prove this. It was dropped in 1814 because probably utterly meaningless to the Masons of those days; they dared not even attempt to explain it, however lamely. Nay, more. There are architects here present. Can any one even describe what it was? It was an appliance evidently of use in a Mason's stone yard or lodge; but what was it?" When an authority like Speth can not even hazard a guess, it is useless for us to speculate. Maybe the secret will some day be rediscovered.

 

            13 Akin's Manual (1908), p. 80.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             147

 

 

DEITY AND IMMORTALITY

 

There are a few who feign that they believe nothing that cannot be experienced through the five senses of the body. Wonderful as are these faculties, we are persuaded that we are possessed of a sixth sense which is higher and finer even than those of the body. By this sense we perceive though we see not; we feel though we touch not; we understand though we hear not; we know though we neither taste nor smell. By it, also, we are aware of all the higher aspirations of the mind and soul; by it alone are we conscious of our own existence. Seeing is not thinking. Nor is hearing, or feeling, or tasting, or smelling. These five senses are but ministers to this sixth sense. The five senses of human nature we were concerned with in a former degree, but we are here concerned with something far superior to them, whatever we call it, whether consciousness, faith, mind, soul or spirit. Are the testimonies of this sixth sense any less real or any less reliable than those of the five senses of the body? By it mankind has always, in every age and in every condition, felt intuitively that there was a God and that we shall live again. These beliefs are so strong and so ever present with us that we never doubt them until we begin to argue about them.

 

            There is nothing in Masonry so constantly pressed upon our thoughts as these two great doctrines. Signs, symbols, and legends are all repeatedly employed to emphasise them.

 

            In the Master Mason's Degree, the Pot of Incense, the All-Seeing Eye, the Three Grand Masters, the Triangle, and the legends of the Temple and of Hiram Abif are all employed for this purpose, as we shall attempt to show.

 

            A reading of history shows that men in different ages

 

 

 148                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

and in different countries have conceived God in different likenesses and with differing attributes, ranging from the most repulsive brute forms and impulses to the highest conceptions of form and attributes of which the human mind has ever been capable. It is, of course, not supposable that they all knew God and that he has thus changed according to time and country. God is necessarily the same to-day that he was, always has been and always will be, eternal and unchanging. Otherwise God is a myth. If man's conceptions of him change, it is because we for the time being know less or more of him.

 

            We read with incredulity that men could ever bow down to and worship idols. Doubtless the thoughtful and intelligent ones have never done so even in pagan countries. They looked beyond and viewed the idol as merely a symbol.

 

            This thought is thus finely expressed by Albert Pike in one of the Scottish Rite Degrees:

 

"The Divine light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world has not been altogether wanting to the devout of any creed. The permanent revelation, one and universal, is written in visible nature, is explained by Reason, and completed by the wise analogies of Faith. And there is but one True Religion, but one legitimate doctrine and creed, as there is but one God, one Reason, one Universe. That revelation is obscure for no one, since every person in the world more or less comprehends Truth and Justice. Especially recollect that the Myth of Genesis is an eternal truth; and that God allows none to approach the Tree of Knowledge, except those who are abstinent enough and strong enough not to lust after its fruits. Faith has in all ages been the lever whereby to move the world. Yet faith is but superstition and folly if it has not Reason for its

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             149

 

basis; and we can suppose that which we do not know only by analogy with the known. To define what we know not is presumptuous ignorance; to affirm positively what we know not is to lie."

 

As the idol among pagan people usually assumed a human form, the Jews, as well as other believers in monotheism of ancient times, forbade the employment of the human effigy as a symbol of Deity. To supply the need so keenly felt by the ancients of a symbol to represent every idea, conventional figures such as squares, circles, triangles, etc., were adopted by the ancient monotheists to symbolise the Deity. Thus perhaps it is that the being which alone is said to have been made in the image of his Creator is nowhere employed in our symbolism to represent the G. A. 0. T. U.

 

 

THE HIRAMIC LEGEND

 

The most important series of symbols in Freemasonry is the legend concerning Hiram Abif and the other symbolic allusions connected therewith. For obvious reasons, we do not attempt to narrate the story of this legend. Nor shall we undertake to make any systematic or exhaustive study of it, but only to discuss in a disconnected way those symbols associated with it that are most important or whose meaning is least obvious.

 

            As we have already seen, the Ancient Mysteries employed a legend dramatically presented to teach the great doctrines of the existence of Deity, the resurrection of the body, and the immortality of the soul. Among Freemasons, the legend of Hiram, the builder, is employed in a strikingly similar way to teach the same truths. It is not permissible, even if it were necessary, to enter further into details in order to demonstrate this parallel, but the

 

 

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points of resemblance will be sufficiently obvious to the intelligent Mason.

 

            A few observations upon the name Hiram Abif will not be out of place. Abif is certainly not a surname as our use of it would seem to indicate. It is translated in the English Bibles "Hiram, my father's" and "Hiram, his father." This scarcely makes sense; and hence the general consensus of opinion among Masonic scholars is that "Abif" is a Hebrew idiom indicating superiority in his Craft and may therefore, in a general sense, be said to be synonymous with "Master." 14

 

The name "Hiram" itself has been supposed by many to bear a symbolic meaning. In Kings it is written "Hiram" but in Chronicles it is written "Huram." Brother Albert Pike contends that the proper form is "Khirum" or "Khurum." The former Khirum is from the Hebrew word "Khi" meaning "living," and "ram" meaning "was or shall be raised or lifted up." Hence Khirum means "was raised or lifted up to life." The other form, Khurum, means nearly the same, "raised up noble or free." Brother Pike shows this name to be synonymous with the Egyptian Her-ra, and the Phoenician Heracles, the personification of Light and the sun, the Mediator, the Redeemer and the Saviour.15

 

But do not be misled into supposing that the reference is here Christian. The idea of a Mediator, Redeemer or Saviour is far older than Christianity and by no means confined to the Jews. It is a concept that seems to have been almost universal in the ancient world.

 

            Again, it is said that Hiram, in its pure and original form, literally meant light or the sun. His murder by the three ruffians is by many scholars believed to have

 

14 Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 3; Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 81.

15 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 78.

 

 

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symbolic reference to the declension of the sun towards the South during the three winter months with its accompanying temporary death of many forms of vegetable and animal life; the discovery and raising of his body, to the return of spring with its manifestations of newness of life in its thousands of forms. There is no doubt that this astronomical phenomenon, so typical of both death and a new life, was extensively employed by the ancients to teach the doctrines of resurrection and immortality.

 

            Those who attach an astronomical signification. to this legend of Hiram Abif believe the fifteen Fellow Craft to be a faulty symbol; that the true number is twelve, corresponding to the twelve signs of the Zodiac through which the sun apparently passes every year; that the number of those who conspired and the number who recanted have been confused; that nine, typifying those who recanted, fill the spring, summer and autumn with their seasons of planting, growth and harvest, while the three who persisted typify winter, when all nature, if not dead, appears to be dormant. It has been pointed out as corroborating this interpretation of this legend that our two festival seasons, June 24th and December 27th, the birthdays respectively of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, very nearly coincide respectively with the summer and winter solstices; that is to say, when the sun is at its greatest intensity, and, when in the dead of winter, having reached his furthermost limit to the South, he begins his fructifying and vivifying journey towards the North again.

 

            We can but touch upon this abstruse symbolism, and invite the serious student of Freemasonry to its study. It can not be covered in an evening; volumes have been and may still be written upon the subject without exhausting it.16

 

            16 Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 78.

 

 

 

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            In nearly all the ancient systems of religion, Deity was regarded as a triad, or trinity, by whom, acting conjointly only, could anything be done that was done. Our own doctrine of the Trinity is but a mere spiritualised modification of this ancient trinitarian conception. The secrets known only to our Three Grand Masters typify divine truth known only to this trinitarian Deity, and which is not to be communicated and made known to man, the Fellow Craft, the workman, until he has completed his spiritual temple. Then, according to divine promise, if found worthy, if this temple be nobly and worthily built and made a fit dwelling place for divine truth, these secrets will be communicated to him. He can then travel into that foreign country whither we all are bound and there obtain the wages of the master, that is to say, the reward of a righteous and well spent life. But he who would force or steal this knowledge or obtain it other than by faithful labour and effort to prepare himself for its understanding and enjoyment is no better than a murderer and robber. It is the same allegory as that of Adam eating of the tree of knowledge. For a like offence, stealing the sacred fire of the gods and bestowing it upon man, was Prometheus bound to the rock, his body torn open and his liver fed upon by the vultures of the air.

 

            The age of the Hiramic legend in our symbolism is an interesting and important question, but we have not space to deal with it here. Brother Gould says "that we may safely conclude that the distinctive legend of the Campagnonnage concerning Hiram the Builder is of prior date to the introduction of modern Freemasonry in France, that is prior to A.D. 1726 (Gould II, p. 243). If this be true then this legend did not originate in England as some have contended. And this historical question affects vitally its allegorical signification.

 

 

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THE THREE RUFFIANS

 

One having the least familiarity with the religions of the East cannot fail to recognise in the names of the three ruffians the names of the gods of Palestine, Phoenicia and Egypt, Jah, Bel and Om, spelled AUM. This will be even more striking to the Royal Arch and the Scottish Rite Mason.17

 

The symbolism of the "three ruffians" has been variously explained. They have been declared to represent the three greatest enemies of individual and political liberty, viz., kingcraft, priestcraft and ignorance. The three conspired to destroy liberty; one attempted this by a blow at the throat, the seat of free speech; the second attempted it by a stab at the heart, the seat of freedom of conscience; the third accomplished the foul conspiracy by felling his victim dead with a blow upon the brain, the seat of freedom of thought. The lesson is, suffer freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech to be destroyed by kingcraft, priestcraft or ignorance, or by all combined (for they usually work hand in hand), and individual and political liberty is lost.

 

            No tyrant or priest can reduce this nation of ours to subjection until our people have been drowned in ignorance. That tyrants and priests have by this method sought to maintain themselves in all ages can not be denietk The few brilliant exceptions afforded by history do not disprove the rule. It is just as certain that this same effort is going on to-day as that it was ever made. Churches (and you will note we use the plural) and tyrannical kings and so-called emperors would to-day deliberattly put bonds of ignorance on their people in order that they might more easily control them.

 

            When we speak of ignorance we do not mean mere

 

17 Pike, Morals and Dogma, pp. 8o, 82, 448, 488.

 

 

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want of knowledge; we refer also to that mental state in which men refuse to reason, in which they refuse to recognise their own power, in which from laziness or from fear they refuse to do what they know they can and should do. It is this enlightened knowledge and the God-given power which goes with it that will alone enable liberty-loving men successfully to combat tyrants whether they come in the guise of kings, priests or Bolshevists.

 

 

LOW TWELVE

 

In ancient symbolism, the number twelve denoted completion. Whether this meaning arose from the fact that twelve months completed the year, or twelve signs the Zodiac, or whether from the fact that what was regarded as the most stable geometrical figure known, the cube, -is marked by twelve edges, opinions differ. At any rate, it denoted a thing fulfilled. It was therefore an emblem of human life. Death followed immediately after life; the number thirteen immediately after twelve; it is for this reason that thirteen has long been regarded as an unlucky number. With us the solemn stroke of twelve marks the completion of human existence in this life.

 

 

THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH

 

The lion from most ancient times has been a symbol of might or royalty. It was blazoned upon the standard of the tribe of Judah, because it was the royal tribe. The kings of Judah were, therefore, each called Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and such was one of the titles of Solomon. Remembrance of this fact gives appropriateness to an expression employed at one point in our ceremonies which is otherwise obscure, not to say absurd. Such is the literal meaning of this phrase, but it also has a symbolical one.

 

 

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The Jewish idea of a Messiah was of a mighty temporal king. He was also designated as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; in fact this title was regarded as peculiarly belonging to him. The expression does not, as many Masons suppose, necessarily have reference to Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian Mason is privileged so to interpret it, if he likes, but the Jew has equal right to understand it as meaning his Messiah. Indeed, every great religion of the world has contained the conception in some form of a Mediator between God and man, a Redeemer who would raise mankind from the death of this life and the grave to an everlasting existence with God hereafter. The Mason who is a devotee of one of these religions, say, Buddhism, Brahmanism or Mohammedanism, is likewise entitled to construe this expression as referring to his own Mediator.

 

            In an ancient Egyptian picture is depicted a lion seizing by the wrist a man lying in front of an altar, prostrate upon his back as if dead. The lion seems to be raising the man up and to symbolise that power by which the dead are brought to newness of life. Near the altar stands a man with his left arm elevated in the form of a square.18

 

 

FIVE POINTS OF FELLOWSHIP

 

Ancient builders were accustomed to lay out their buildings from the centre. That is to say, the first located the centre, then by use of the 3, 4, triangle, which was well understood, the four corners of the intended structure were located by measurements from the centre. This gave them five points upon which and with regard to which

 

 

 18 Pike, Morals and Dogma, pp. 79, 254, 461; Portal, Comparison of Egyptian Symbols with Those of the Hebrews (Vol. XXX, "Universal Masonic Library"), p. 40.

 

 

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the building was raised. Symbolising this, as we have. so many other of the customs and tools of operative Masons, we speculative Masons say that a Mason is raised on the Five Points of Fellowship.

 

            The Five Points of Fellowship are symbolised by the Pentalpha, or five-pointed star. The connection of this geometrical figure with the art of building is not at once apparent, but recent researches show that it entered extensively into determining the plans of many of the splendid castles and cathedrals of mediaeval times. To this fact is probably due its introduction or retention among the symbols of our Speculative Craft.19

 

This figure has, however, from very ancient times borne a moral signification also. Says a recent writer:

 

"In the more esoteric philosophy, the symbol is used to designate man, and an examination of the shape of the figure will show that by a stretch of imagination it may be construed into a crude representation of a human figure." 20

 

In this connection it is interesting to note that there exists in England a secret gild of operative Masons who have a ceremony wherein is represented the mock assassination of one of its three Grand Masters. His body is said to be raised and borne out of the hall on the five points of fellowship in this wise—each of four seizing an arm or foot and a fifth under the middle of the body.

 

            The Pentalpha with one of its points elevated, was a symbol of the pure and the virtuous and a harbinger of good, but with two of its points elevated it became the accursed Goat of Mendes, which typified Satan and foreboded evil and misfortune.22

 

19 Yarker, Arcane Schools, pp. t18, 119.

20 "Tyler Keystone," Oct. 5, 1909, p. 151.

21 A.Q. C., Vol. PP. 31, 57; Ibid., Vol. VIII, pp. so, 105; Ashe, Masonic Manual, Argument IX.

 

 

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In England, the Five Points of Fellowship are h. to h., f. to f., k. to k., b. to b. and h. over b.22 It is well known that in the United States we substituted m. to e. for h. to h. Mackey thinks this change was made at the Baltimore Conference of Grand Lecturers in 1843, and we are persuaded that the English working is the ancient and correct one.

 

            The winged foot has for ages been the symbol of swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity. In the centre of the Pentalpha as employed by us is usually seen two hands clasped. This as we learned in the Entered Apprentice Degree is the ancient symbol of the god Fides.23 It is an appropriate emblem of the fidelity and readiness to aid each other, which should characterise members of the Masonic Fraternity. Let it not be supposed that by assigning symbolical meanings to the persons and incidents of the legend of Hiram Abif, we thereby mean to deny its reality. We see no reason (and such seems to be the opinion of most students of Freemasonry) why this legend may not be based upon a substratum of fact, as probably were those similar legends which characterised the Ancient Mysteries and those which are associated with the erection of other famous buildings. That it has undergone many alterations and been greatly overlaid with fiction is certain, but that it is founded wholly upon fable is not at all probable.

 

            THE LOST WORD We next come to consider one of the most abstruse conceptions in Freemasonry. The allegory of a search for a Lost Word is not a search for any particular word; in

 

 

22 "Lectures of the Three Degrees," etc. (Lewis, 1896), pp. iii, 112.

23 Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, p. 19o; Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 88.

 

 

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fact it is not even a search for a word at all. The expression "The Word" had significance to the Jews and other ancient races which is hard for us to comprehend. While not strictly accurate we shall not be far wrong in saying that to the ancient mind "The Word" signified all truth, particularly divine truth. To us the most striking and familiar passage in literature containing this expression is that in St. John, as follows:

 

"In the beginning was the Word,

And the Word was with God,

And the Word was God."

 

John does not here announce any new doctrine, but one that was perfectly familiar to the Jewish thought of his day; only his identification of Jesus of Nazareth with the Word was new. Nor was this expression or this idea by any means confined to the Jews; it belonged to nearly all ancient philosophy. Among the Greeks it was the Logos, a term derived from the Greek verb lego, to speak; the same root from which comes our word logic, the name of that science by which we determine moral truth.

 

            That noble attribute of man, the power of articulate speech, whereby his wisdom and his most abstract thoughts are made known to his fellows, a power so far as we can see possessed by no other animal, must have in all ages greatly impressed the thoughtful mind. The spoken word seemed an instrument worthy to be employed by Deity himself, not only in promulgating divine truth but even in creating all things that were created. According to the ancient idea, Deity was so omnipotent that he had but to speak and the thing was done; he said "Let there be light" and there was light; and that without "The Word" was not anything made that was made.

 

 

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Hence "The Word" under the development of philosophy, particularly that of Philo Judæus, a contemporary of Jesus, became synonymous with every manifestation of divine power and truth, so that finally it was regarded as not only co-existent with but metaphorically as identical with Deity himself. This is clearly the meaning of St. John.

 

            The Masonic search for "The Word," therefore, symbolises the search for truth, particularly divine truth. The lesson here to us is to search diligently for the truth, never to permit prejudice, passion or interest to blind us, but to keep our minds always open to the reception of truth from whatever source, or however opposed to our preconceived notions it may be; and having seen it and received it, always to act agreeably to its dictates. Hence Masons everywhere are devoted to the doctrines of freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action.

 

            But we are also cautioned not vaingloriously to imagine that we ever here achieve all truth. The Master Mason is invested not with the True Word, but with a Substitute Word, implying that in this life we may know only in part, that we may approach, we may approximate truth, but that we never attain it in its perfection. This search will continue as long as this life lasts, but not until we shall have passed on to a higher state of existence will divine truth be disclosed to us in all its fulness and beauty. We may say here that this final disclosure is symbolised in the Royal Arch Degree.

 

            The preservation of this extremely ancient conception of "The Word" is not without historic value also as indicating the great antiquity of Masonic Symbolism.24

 

 

 24 Pike, Morals and Dogma, pp. 204, 251, 254, 256, 259, 268, 269, 270, 279, 281; Edersheim, Life of Jesus, pp. 46, 56; Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, pp. 176, 216, 224, 226, 232,280, 298, 300.

 

 

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THE MARBLE MONUMENT

 

Incidental to this legend of Hiram Abif are introduced certain other symbols. For example, the virgin weeping over the broken column, an urn in her left hand and a sprig of evergreen in her right, and an old man behind her dressing her hair. Masons are familiar with the explanation of this group given in our ritual, but we are persuaded that it is very superficial to say the least.

 

            In the Egyptian Mysteries, as we have seen, Isis finds her husband's body encased in a tamarisk or acacia tree, which the King of Byblos converts into a column. This column, still containing the body, is finally carried away and broken by Isis and the body released. We can readily imagine her weeping over this broken column. Apuleius (second century, A.D.) describes her as a "beautiful female, over whose divine neck her long thick hair hung in graceful ringlets," and in a procession depicting her are shown female attendants following who are combing and dressing her hair.

 

            The urn is an ancient sign of mourning. A small urn in which figuratively to catch the tears was worn by the mourners, especially widows. This explanation of the presence of the urn in this emblem, as a symbol of grief, better accords with our tradition as to the disposal of our Grand Master, as well as with history, than does that given in our Master's lecture. We know that it was a well-nigh universal custom of the Jews as well as the Egyptians to bury and not to cremate their dead. Likewise from ancient times it was common for the mourner to bear in the hand to the place of interment an. evergreen sprig and there to deposit it in the grave as an avowal of belief in a life to come. It seems to me that in these ancient traditions and customs is to be found the

 

 

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true origin of our Marble Monument 25 that this emblem signifies that, while we mourn for and cherish the memory of our dead, yet we believe that they shall live and that we shall see them again.

 

 

THE SETTING MAUL

 

The Setting Maul is a wooden instrument used in setting firmly into the wall the polished stone, and is one of those traditionally said to have been used at the building of Solomon's Temple. It would very properly be in the hands of the three Fellow Crafts, who are in the Third Degree reputed to have made a notable use of it just before the completion of the Temple. From that incident it is employed among us as an emblem the meaning of which is known to every Master Mason.

 

            It has, however, in different forms been employed as a symbol of destruction from prehistoric times. In Norse mythology, Thor, the god of Thunder, was represented as a powerful man armed with a mighty hammer, Miolnir (the smasher). Counterparts of this god and his formidable weapon are found in many of the ancient religions and mythologies.

 

            In the Cabiric Mysteries the seven gods who slew the eight were called "Paticii," or wielders of the hammer.

 

 

THE ACACIA

 

It was a custom of the Jews to plant at the head of the grave an acacia sprig for the double purpose of intimating their belief in immortality and of marking its location, as to tread on a grave was by them regarded as extremely unlucky. To them, therefore, the acacia was, as it is to us, an emblem of immortality and of innocence.

 

            25 Pike, Morals and Dogma, pp. 17, 80, 378, 387.

 

 

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            The true acacia is the thorny tamarisk which abounds in Palestine, and we have seen that strangely enough in the legend of Osiris his dead body was said to have been cast ashore at the foot of a tamarisk or acacia tree, and that this circumstance led to its discovery. This tree, owing to its hard-wood quality, its evergreen nature and its exceeding tenacity of life bore to the Egyptian and Jew the same symbolical significance it does to us. Of its wood was constructed the tabernacle, the table for the shew-bread, the ark of the covenant and the rest of the sacred furniture of the Temple, and of its boughs was woven the crown of thorns that was placed upon the head of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

            Each of the Ancient Mysteries possessed a sacred plant which was employed in their initiations and ceremonies for the same purpose and with the same symbolical significance as the acacia is by us. Among the Egyptians it was the Lotus. and the Erica, among the Greeks the Myrtle, and among the Scandinavians the Mistletoe. That a tree or plant had life-giving properties was an idea familiar to the Jews in the earliest times, as witness the Tree of Life mentioned in Genesis, and by New Testament writers the immortality of man is likened to the recurrence of plant life. (I Cor. Is; John 12, 24.) 26

 

 

DEATH

 

Masonry, especially in the Third Degree, teaches us not to fear Death; in the fulness of time when his approach is due, to welcome the grim tyrant as a kind messenger, or, as that great philosopher and Mason, Albert Pike, expresses it:

 

 26 A. Q. C., Vol. I, P. 57; Ibid., Vol. VI, pp. 9, 14; Mackey, Ex- ryclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 7; Mackey, Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. s6; "Masonic Magazine," Vol. I, p. 126; Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 82; Kenning, Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 4.

 

 

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"The body is the gross representation, and as it were the temporary envelope of the Soul. The Soul can perceive by itself, and without the intervention of the bodily organs by means of its sensibility and lucidity, the things whether spiritual or corporeal, that exist in the Universe. There is no void in Nature; all is peopled. There is no real death in nature; all is living." "What we call death is change. The Supreme Reason being unchangeable is therefore imperishable. Thoughts once uttered are eternal. Is the source or spring from which they flow less immortal than they? Could the Universe, the uttered thought of God, continue still to exist if he no longer were? "The last victory any man can gain over death is to overcome the love of life, not through despair but through a loftier hope contained in Faith. To learn to overcome one's self is to learn to live, and the austerities of Stoicism were not a vain ostentation of liberty. Every man who is prepared to die rather than abjure Truth and Justice truly lives for he is immortal in his soul. The object of all the ancient initiations was to find or form such men; and such is the object of Freemasonry. If thou art or canst become such an one thou wilt be worthy to be called Adept, and Knight of the Sun.

 

            "Death is not for the Sage. It is a phantom which ignorance and weakness of the multitude make horrible. The spirit is not disengaged that it may live no longer. Can thought and love die when the basest matter does not? If change should be called death, we die and are born again every day; for every day our forms change. Let us fear then to go out from and rend our garments but let us not dread to lay them aside when the hour for rest comes." Nearly a thousand years ago, Omar Khayyam sang:

 

 

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"Death's terrors spring from baseless fantasy,

Death yields the tree of immortality."

 

William Cullen Bryant voices the usual Masonic view of Death in Thanatopsis:

 

"So live, that when thy summons comes to join

The innumerable caravan which moves

To that mysterious realm where each shall take

His chamber in the silent halls of death,

Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

 

 

THE RESURRECTION

 

This is a cherished belief among Masons at least in the great majority of countries. Men are still asking, as in the days of Paul, "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" And men have been attempting an answer ever since, yea, for centuries before the days of Paul. These attempted answers have resulted in the following theories:

 

1. That all the particles of matter that have ever been in the body are brought together again;

 

 2. Only the particles present at death constitute the resurrection body;

 

 3. That certain more enduring parts are preserved, as an indestructible corporeal germ from which is made by divine power an organ of the soul adapted to its higher condition;

 

 4. That some of the particles of matter once constituting remain and persist in the resurrection body, however few;

 

 

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5. That there is a "vital germ" which preserves in a way not explained the identity of the two bodies;

 

6. That a spiritual, ethereal, luminous body is evolved at the moment of death;

 

7. That the plastic, formative principle of life (anima, che) is continually gathering and casting off the matter it needs for a body wherever it may be; the continuance of the vital principle constitutes identity; however, the 'particles of matter may change, as in a flowing stream; that in the case of Christ and those living at his second coming, the body then present supplies the material; that in the case of the dead, the anima or psyche gathers in matter as it needs and makes the psychical body; that the fundamental "form" or principle of bodily organism, which here appropriates earthly materials, shall in the resurrection appropriate higher materials;

 

 

 8. That identity is in the spirit (nous), the rational, immortal principle which shows itself in the body which it occupies and stamps with its own personality; that identity in an inorganic body, as for example a stone, is in its substance and form, while in a person it rests in the consciousness; that the resurrection body is spiritual soma pneumatikon) as opposed to the natural (soma psychikon) and that it is glorious, powerful, incorruptible and immortal.

 

            Long before Christ, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were warring over this question. The greatest theologians have differed upon it. Such fathers of Christianity as Origen and Augustine changed their views upon it. Western Christians have tended toward belief in a resurrection of the fleshly body; Eastern Christians towards spiritual resurrection.27  Masonry requires each individual Mason to form his own opinion on these matters. We catalogue them here

 

27 Universal Encyclopedia, "Resurrection."

 

 

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merely as a caution against the treacherous ground encroach upon when we try to define the views of Freemasonry on this subject.

 

 

IMMORTALITY

 

While Masonry does not exact a declaration of a be in immortality as a prerequisite to admission into Fraternity, yet undoubtedly it does teach this doctrine b most impressive means. We shall not attempt ourselv to state the bases for this belief but there has recently fallen into our hands such a beautiful and powerful state. ment of the argument we are constrained to quote following passage. It is from the pen of Charles All Dinsmore, professor of Scriptural Interpretation of Literature in the Yale Divinity School. He says:

 

"Science can neither affirm nor deny immortality, but she has opened great spaces for this faith to live in. A man trained to our modern world-vision, gazing back over the long, toilsome, costly process from the fire mist up to man, and from primitive man to our present highly organised society, can not readily believe that he is contemplating the haphazard whirl of unintelligent forces, a riot of chance I Rather he detects an increasing purpose running through the ages, working toward man and the development of the race. Surely the unfolding purpose is prophetic of an outcome worthy of the process. If materialism is right, and humanity returns to the dust from whence it came, and the earth is at last only a burnt-out cinder; if the struggle of the ages, the prayers of the holy, the sacrifices of martyrs, the devotion of the brave, ultimate in dust and ashes, then we are put to 'permanent intellectual confusion.' The ages have toiled and brought forth nothing. The Eternal has blown a soap-bubble, and painted it with

 

 

 

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wondrous colours at awful cost of agony to the iridescent figures, and then allowed it to burst! The wisdom, the power, the sacrificial love, revealed in the long and orderly upward movement create the expectation that the culmination will be worthy of the cost.

 

            "The contrast between science and religion is not a contrast between knowledge and belief, but between two different kinds of knowledge. Religion can use the word 'know' as legitimately as science. When we become aware of ourselves we are aware of a Power not ourselves. By co-operating with this Power we can develop characters of moral strength and spiritual beauty. Virtue and its transforming energies we know as well as we know any scientific fact, even better, for we have the sure test of daily experience. Experience warrants us in affirming that God is the Power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness. We take a step further. Power is an anthropomorphic term, and so is personal spirit, but the latter is more significant; it represents higher worth. God can not be inferior to the highest symbol we use in interpreting Him. God can not be less than personal; He may be infinitely more. By faith, therefore, we think of Him as a living Spirit operating through the electric framework of the world. When we seek Him as the Father of our spirit in whom dwells all that we desire, we put this belief to the searching test of life. Thus, trusting and obeying, we meet with those responses which change faith into an assurance which often finds even the word 'know' too feeble to express the experience." 28

 

 

THE POT OF BURNING INCENSE

 

The Pot of Burning Incense was employed in Solomon's Temple to produce a sweet savour in the Holy of Holies,

 

 

            28 Religious Certitude in an Age of Science.

 

 

168                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

that is to say, according to the Jewish conceptions, in the actual presence of JHVH. It is not supposable that the intelligent Jew regarded this as other than symbolical of the offer of a pure heart as a sacrifice to the Deity. The bloody sacrifices of bullocks, lambs and goats, as well as the peace and sin offerings, were offered in less sacred precincts of the Temple and probably meant no more than to impress the people that they should be ever generous in dedicating their earthly wealth to the service of God and the hastening of His Kingdom, but the pure, immaterial offering of a delightful incense was to remind them that after all the only sacrifice worthy of Deity himself was the spiritual and immaterial offering of a pure heart.

 

 

THE BEEHIVE

 

To the operative Mason could anything be more important than industry? By it he lives, and by it were reared those dreams of architectural beauty which excite our wonder and please our fancy.

 

            Is it any less necessary to the Speculative Mason in his work of building human character?

 

Is it not far more so? The temple of human life is incomplete unless every talent and every virtue is brought to the highest possible state. A few years at most suffice to complete and adorn our greatest structures. If the builder die before it is finished, others can carry it on to completion after him. But the time allotted to no man was ever sufficient for the complete development of all the possibilities of his mind and character. If he die before the work is finished, none can take it up and finish it for him. How important, therefore, is it that not a moment of our time, that most precious gift, should be wasted!

 

In all nature nothing is more constantly busy than the

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             169

 

bee, and from ancient times it has been an emblem of industry. "Busy as a bee" has become an aphorism. A place of great industry we call a hive, and while I do not find it to have been employed in ancient symbolism, no symbol of labour could be more appropriate than a beehive. Strange to say, this symbol is now obsolete in England.

 

            Masonry in every degree, and in none more than the Master Mason Degree, signifies labour. Its very name is synonymous with labour and its every implement reminiscent of labour. Toil is noble, idleness dishonour. Deity himself is recorded as having worked and we see on every hand the Titanic results of his labour. He reared the mountains, he laid down the plains, he made the rivers and the seas; the very smallest of these beyond the capabilities of millions of men. He deposited the rich ore in the bosom of the earth. He stocked the waters with fish and the land with an infinite variety of vegetation and living animals both great and small. Finally he made man.

 

            It is by a steadfast adherence to the homely virtues, industry, economy, honesty, morality, religion, love of liberty, friends and country, those sheet-anchors of any true civilisation, and its refusal to take up with every wind of doctrine that blows, that has enabled Freemasonry to maintain itself so firmly in the estimation of mankind. Its membership is larger and its influence greater than ever before.

 

 

SILENCE

 

The Book of Constitutions guarded by the Tyler's sword may be as is claimed, a new emblem among us, but the virtue it commemorates, silence, is an old and excellent one. The disciples of many of the ancient philoso-

 

 

 170                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

phers were required to practise absolute silence for long periods of probation, and so important was it deemed in their religious and philosophical systems that to it was allotted a special deity, Harpocrates, who was represented as full of eyes and ears, signifying that many things are to be seen and heard but little to be spoken.29

 

 

THE ALL-SEEING EYE

 

The All-Seeing Eye is a very old symbol of Deity. The Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief god, by an open eye, which they placed in all his temples. The idea was also familiar to the Jews, for we read in Psalms (xxxiv, 15) that "The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous," and (cxxi, 4) that "he that keepeth Israel shall neither sleep nor slumber." In Proverbs (xv, 3) Solomon says "the eyes of Jehovah are in every place watching the evil and the good." This symbol was to the Egyptians and the Jews the same that it is to us, the symbol of Deity manifested in his omnipresence. To us it is a warning that things we would not do before the eyes of men, yet do in secret, are nevertheless beheld by an eye that can explore our innermost thoughts and will witness against us before a tribunal where there are no perjured witnesses nor miscarriages of justice.30

 

 

THE ANCHOR AND THE ARK

 

The Ark as a symbol in the Third Degree has been supposed by some to refer to the Jewish Ark of the Covenant, but others with more reason think it refers to the Ark of Noah. All the Ancient Mysteries seem to have contained  

 

29 Lodge of Research "Masonic Reprints," No.   p. 42; Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. io6; U. M. L., Vol. X, Part I, p. 54.

30 A. Q. C., Vol. IV, p. 43; Kenning, Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. i8; Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 57.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             171

 

allusions more or less clear to the Deluge and Noah's Ark. There being so many other symbols common to Masonry and the Mysteries, it is not surprising to find the Ark also employed as a Masonic symbol. To the pre-Christian ages, the idea of a regeneration, or a new birth, was as familiar as it is to us. In the Ancient Mysteries, as we are best able to judge, the tradition of the Deluge and the Ark, by which the human race was reputed to have been both purified and perpetuated, was in a variety of forms employed to teach this doctrine of regeneration.

 

            In the Funeral Ritual of the Egyptians, it is by means of the Ark, or boat, that the deceased passed to Aahlu or the place of the blessed in Amenti.31 We are all familiar with the Grecian myth which represents Charon as ferrying the shades of the departed over the river Styx. Thus it is seen that the Ark has for ages been the symbol of the passage from this world to the next. We attach to it a very similar meaning; it symbolises to us that power or influence by which we are fitted for and raised to a higher state of existence in the life that is to come.32

 

The Anchor does not seem to have belonged to ancient symbolism. Paul appears first to have employed it as an emblem of hope of immortality and bliss after this life (Heb. 1, 19). Kip, in his Catacombs of Rome, says that the primitive Christians looked upon life as a stormy voyage and that of their safe arrival in port the anchor was a symbol. Mrs. Jameson says that the anchor is the Christian symbol of immovable firmness, hope and patience. Though apparently of Christian origin as a symbol, there is nothing narrow or sectarian in its significance, and it may with equal propriety be employed

 

31 A. Q. C., Vol. II, p. 24.

32 A. Q. C., Vol. I, p. 31; Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. P. 64.

 

 

 

172                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

by Jew and Gentile, as well as by all others who share the belief of a peaceful place of abode hereafter for those who have made a proper use of this life.33

 

In the symbol of the Anchor and Ark we, therefore, see again pressed upon our attention the doctrines of Deity, the Mediator, regeneration, resurrection and ins. mortality.

 

 

THE FORTY-SEVENTH PROBLEM OF EUCLID

 

The Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid is the earliest Masonic symbol we have on record; it appears as the frontispiece to Anderson's Book of Constitutions, published at London in 1723, accompanied by the word Eureka in Greek characters. It will be understood that prior to this date only one book on Freemasonry had been printed, and not till three-quarters of a century later did our Monitors contain illustrations of the emblems and symbols. So it happens that the Forty-Seventh Problem is absolutely, so far as is known, the earliest illustration of a Masonic symbol on record.

 

            In the text of the same book it is declared to be "if duly observed, the foundation of all Masonry, sacred, civil and military," (p. 23) and in the second edition of this work (1738), he speaks of it as that "amazing proposition which is the foundation of all Masonry, of whatever materials or dimensions" (p. 26). This figure is known by a variety of names. The Theorem of Pythagoras, the Theorem of the Bride, and the Theorem of the Three Squares. It was also known as the Gnomon, the Greek word for knowledge, and Plato in his Commonwealth, denominates it the "Nuptial Figure." To our fathers in their school days, it was an object of dread, as the "Pons Assinorum," or the Bridge of Asses.

 

            33 Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. 64.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             173

 

The remarkable properties of the right-angled triangle are well known to those who have studied geometry. Astronomers also are acquainted with its value; with it they measure the universe. Its usefulness is understood by architects and builders. Even those mechanics who are so ignorant that they do not know that a figure whose three sides are to each other as 3, 4 and 5 is a right-angled triangle, yet are aware of its convenience in making corners of a building perfectly square. When they measure three feet along one wall and four feet along the other, if five feet will exactly reach across, they know that the corner is square. These things were well understood by ancient and mediaeval operative Masons, and they constituted a part of their trade secrets.

 

            But it is equally certain that to this beautiful triangle they ascribed moral and philosophical (not to say religious) meanings which are now little understood by us.

 

            Of this figure Brother George William Speth says "it is certain that, while our mediaeval brethren may have been familiar with its symbolic meaning, we are not." 34  We are now merely told in our Monitors that "it teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences." Perhaps this is true, but we are given no hint as to why or how it does so. The deeper meanings of this symbol are wholly lost except to those who have made it a special study. Much of it we fear is lost beyond the hope of recovery.

 

 

GEOMETRICAL FIGURES

 

It is a curious fact, the psychological reason for which is not known, that dimensions increasing by half (e.g., a rectangle 20 x 3o, a solid 20 X 3o x 45), and the ratios of the base, perpendicular and hypotenuse of a right –

 

34 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 27.

 

 

174                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

angled triangle whose sides are as 3, 4, 5, are very pleasing to the eye. The equilateral triangle in ways not now fully understood seems also to enter into the element of proportion in successful architecture.

 

            Odd as it may appear that geometrical figures such as points, lines, superficies and solids, angles, triangles, squares and circles should be invested with such meaning, yet the fact is undoubted. The ancient moral philosophers attached what appears to us an inordinate importance to geometry and geometrical figures.

 

            Plato, the greatest of philosophers, wrote four hundred years before Christ on the porch of his academy, "Let no one who is ignorant of geometry enter my doors." He taught that God was "always geometrising," and that "geometry rightly treated is the knowledge of the Eternal." 35  At his time, geometry was the only exact science; hence quite naturally a knowledge of it was deemed indispensable to one in search of philosophical truth. To Pythagoras, all the ancient writers give credit for first having raised geometry to the rank of a science, and Proclus tells us that he "regarded its principles in a purely abstract manner and investigated his theorems from the immaterial and intellectual point of view." 36

 

In short, "from the earliest times, the knowledge of geometry was looked upon not only as the foundation of all knowledge but even by the Greek philosophers as the very essence of their religion, the knowledge of God."37

 

Numerous echoes of this ancient veneration for geometry are preserved in Freemasonry, thus affording further evidence of its great age. But of all geometrical figures the right-angled triangle, or set-square, was most revered by the ancients. It has from extremely remote

 

35 A. Q. C., Vol. X, p. 83.

36 Ibid., p. 83.

37 Ibid. p. 91.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             175

 

ages and among extremely remote peoples borne profound moral significations.

 

            Confucius, the great Chinese teacher, tells us (481 B.C.) that not till he was seventy-five years old "could he venture to follow the inclination of his heart without fear of transgressing the limits of the square." 38

 

In a Chinese book written between 500 B.C. and 300 B.C., called The Great Learning we are told that a man should not do unto another what he would not should be done to himself; "and this," it is there said, "is called the principle of acting upon the square." 39

 

It is, to say the least, a strange coincidence that the Greek word for square, "gnomon," also means knowledge and that the initial of this word, the Greek letter gamma is a perfect set-square. As said by Brother Sidney T. Klein, a distinguished Mason and architect of England, to the ancients "geometry was the foundation of knowledge and gnomon was the knowledge of the square." 40

 

In the symbolical writings of the Egyptians thousands of years ago, the square or right-angled triangle was the standard and symbol of perfection; it was also the symbol of life. 41

 

The ancients taught a very peculiar philosophy. According to their ideas, Nature was tripartite, masculine, feminine, and offspring. This conception was applied in an endless variety of ways. The sun was regarded as masculine or active; the moon as feminine or passive; and Mercury as the offspring. So the ancient Egyptian Trinity consisted of Osiris the father, Isis the mother, and Her-ra, or Horus, the son. To represent this conception of Deity they employed a right-angled triangle whose sides were in the proportion of 3, 4 and 5, wherein the shortest side, 3, represented Osiris, 4 represented Isis,

 

38 A.Q.C., Vol. XIV, p. 30.                           40 A. Q. C., Vol. X, pp. 84, 92.

39 Ibid. P31.                                                  41 Ibid., P. 93.

 

 

176                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

and 5, the resulting hypotenuse, represented Her-Ra, the son, or the result of the union of the male and the female. This figure, therefore, became an emblem of life.

 

            But as it also represented Nature, and as they were wise enough to see that Nature uninterfered with was perfect, this figure became the recognised symbol of perfection.

 

            This implement so useful among operative Masons testing the perfection of the work was, therefore, appropriately adopted by them as symbolical of that perfection which should mark the temple of human character. This symbolical square is the instrument by which all mental, moral and religious conduct is tested.

 

 

THE HOUR GLASS

 

Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, a distinguished Masonic. scholar of England, expressed the opinion that the Hour Glass is not, strictly speaking, a Masonic symbol. This is probably based upon the fact that evidence is wanting of its ancient employment as a symbol. The antiquity of its use as a measure of time is, however, undoubted, and it is a most fit emblem of the flight of time and of waging away of our lives. If it is a recent acquisition to OW ritual, we shall not quarrel with the Monitor maker who introduced it. 42

 

 

 

THE SCYTHE

 

In ancient symbolism, the scythe was one of the attributes of Saturn because he was reputed to have tau men agriculture. But Saturn was also the god of Time,. and, as by another ancient myth human life was said to be a brittle thread spun by the three Fates, it is natural. that this peaceful implement of agriculture should be-

 

 

            42 Kenning, Cyclopedia of Freemasonry p. 318.

 

 

THE MASTER MASON DEGREE                                                             177

 

come the symbol of the power that severs the slender thread and puts an end to our existence. 43

 

 

THE COFFIN

 

To us the coffin is an obvious emblem of death, but it has sometimes been claimed that it would not be so to the Jews, who anciently buried their dead in shrouds and winding sheets only. But in the Ancient Mysteries of those peoples surrounding the Jews the candidate was placed in a coffin or chest as a symbolical representation of death. This custom, as well as the use by Egyptians of the coffin for burial, was undoubtedly well known to the Jews whether they practised it or not.

 

            The ancient symbolism of the coffin seems to have been intimately connected with that of the Ark. In fact in Hebrew the word anon denoted both. But the subject is too recondite to be entered upon further at this time. 44

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Some have questioned whether those engaged in the operative art of building could comprehend such abstruse symbolism as that we have herein attempted to outline. Whether they understood it or not, it is certain that they, at least those of them engaged in temple and church build- . ing, employed it. The important structures devoted to purposes of worship, from the most ancient period through mediaeval to modern times, abound in symbolism. It is doubtless true that many of these operative workmen did not know the meaning of their own symbols, just as many Speculative Masons do not now know them. But we must bear in mind that operative Masonry in

 

 

43 Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. p. 700.

44 A. A. Q. C., Vol. I, p. 31; Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, pp. 64, 171.

 

 

 

178                                                     SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

ancient and mediaeval times did embrace classes that wet; may be supposed to have understood them. They were in the closest association with the priestly and monastic orders to whom we are indebted for most of the learning-of the ancients which has come down to us. Architecture and its kindred sciences were until comparatively recent times the most honourable of all callings.

 

            Brother Albert Pike claims that "during the splendour of mediaeval operative Masonry the art of building stood above all other arts, and made all others subservient to it; that it commanded the services of the most brilliant intellects and of the greatest artists." 45

 

It must be admitted that men like these were capable of appreciating and preserving the most refined symbolism. Brother Pike further declares that they "revelled in symbolism of the most recondite kind; that geometry was the handmaid of symbolism; that it may be said that symbolism is speculative geometry." 46

 

Brother Gould has admitted his belief that the Masons of the fourteenth century, or earlier, were capable of understanding and did understand to a greater extent than ourselves the meaning of a great part of the symbolism which has descended from ancient to Modern Masonry.

 

            In conclusion, permit us to say, that for every statement herein contained there is respectable Masonic authority. It is not claimed, however, that on none of these questions is there difference of opinion. Where this is the case, we have been compelled simply to adopt that , view which appeared most reasonable, and did not have time always to state the different views and the reasons for each. This each student must do for himself. Our expectation has not been to accomplish more than to arouse in some, if not all, of you, a curiosity to learn more of our beautiful and instructive symbolism.

 

45 A. Q. C., Vol. III, p. 15.

46 Ibid., p.16.

 

           


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Appendix

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

 

Part 1: E. A. DEGREE

 

What is the relationship of symbols to written language? To thoughts? What is the difference between symbols and figures of speech? What part does symbolism play in Masonry? Why must Masons study symbolism?

Name of the Fraternity.—Why are we "Freemasons"? What is the unit plan of the organisation?

Definition of Masonry.—What is Mackey's? Explain "system," "morality," "allegory," "symbols," as used in this definition. Do symbols vary in meaning from age to age? With different people? Do we know all the Masonic meanings of our symbols? Shall we ever know them all?

Initiation.—What, in brief, is the symbolism of the entire Entered Apprentice Degree? The Fellow Craft Degree? The Master Mason Degree? Of all three together?

The Lodge.—Of what is the "oblong square" a symbol? How did it become such? Does it throw any light on the age of Masonry? Why is initiation a symbol of birth?

Preparation.—Explain the relation of a candidate's preparation to the Aryan race. To other races. Explain the symbolism of preparation in terms of equality. What is the relation between child and man, man and the race? Between individual moral progress and racial social progress?

Secrecy.—What is its value to the profane? To the Master Mason? What is the primary value of secrecy? What is its chief value? What is the symbol of secrecy and why?

Tool Symbols.—Why is the tool important to man? Why is the tool symbol of especial importance to Masons? Twenty-four-inch Gauge.—Of what a symbol? How different from the Scythe? What does it teach? Common Gavel.—Of what a symbol? Why? Its lesson?

 

181

 

 

 182                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            Chisel.—Of what a symbol? Why? In what degree used In what country used in Blue Lodge work?

Key.—Of what a symbol? When?

Solomon's Temple.—Why chosen as a symbol? Is Temple legend true? Is it fiction? What plausible basis exists for it?

Modesty of True Character.—Why no tool of iron in the building of the Temple? Of what is it a symbol with us?

Hale.—Explain the several forms and real meaning of the word. How is it often misunderstood?

Tile, Tiler, Tyler.—Which is the correct spelling? Why? Whence came the symbol?

Due Guard.—What is the probable origin of the words?

Cable Tow.—How do the Brahman's use a binding cord? What did a candidate in the ancient mysteries mean when he agreed to "submit to the chain"? From what and to what does the Cable Tow lead a Mason?

Circumambulation.—What great truth is taught by it in the lodge? Explain "faith" as used in the Entered Apprentice Degree.

            Upright.—How do people of the Orient approach authority? How a Mason? How, therefore, does a Mason approach the East? Explain the symbolism of the plumb.

            Approaching the East.—Why do we consider the East as the source of knowledge? What did the Egyptians signify by "West"? When did modern people take up the same significance?

Dignity of Man.—How does the Masonic teaching differ from that of certain creeds as to the worth of man?

Bible.—Is it a Masonic symbol? Of what? What other books are similar symbols? When is it proper to use them instead of the Bible? Are Masons required to believe the. Bible? What is the Masonic interpretation of Biblical stories?`, Do any Grand Lodges insist on a literal belief in the inspiration of the Bible? Does the Bible as a symbol increase or decrease differences between men of differing faiths? How?

Apron.—What are "Golden Fleece"? "Roman Eagle?" "Star and Garter?" Explain the good and bad points of knighthood and chivalry in the chivalric ages. Contrast with Masonic ideals. What does Masonry teach? Why is the lamb a symbol? Whence came the symbol of the goat? Of what is it a symbol? Is there a Masonic goat? If so, where did we get it?

 

 

 

APPENDIX                                                                                        183

 

White.—What three colours are symbolic in the Three Degrees? Is white as a symbol universal? Of what is it a symbol? Why?

Black.—Of what a symbol? Why?

Blue.—What is the origin of "Blue Lodge"? What is the meaning of blue as a Masonic symbol?

Gloves.—Were gloves always symbols? Are they used as a similar symbol to the apron? Where? Do all Grand Lodges sanction the use of gloves by Fellow Crafts?

Definition of a Lodge.—Why symbols are required in a lodge? Can a lodge exist without these symbols? Without what they stand for? Could a lodge be held without some symbols?

High Hills and Low Vales.—What was the origin of such meeting places? What is the symbolic significance?

Valley of Jehoshaphat.—Whence does the expression come? Has it now a Masonic significance? What was its ancient meaning?

Untempered Mortar.—How used in Operative Masonry? What is its speculative meaning?

Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.—What great meaning have these three, together? How does perfection in a building depend on them? Of a universe? Of a character? What did the Greeks think of these three? The Hebrews? Socrates? Aristotle? What does the Bible say of them? What officers do they represent in a lodge? Why?

Covering of a Lodge.—What does "cover" mean? What is its Masonic meaning? Of what is our covering a symbol? Is the symbolic covering always shown on the actual ceiling?

Ornaments of the Lodge.—How do they connect a lodge with the whole earth? What does indented tessel mean? What does it symbolise? To what does the Blazing Star allude? What does it represent to Masons? Has it more than one meaning?

Three Great Lights.—What are they? What do they represent to Masons? Are they interdependent? Have they but one, or several symbolisms, each?

Three Lesser Lights.—Name them. Is the Worshipful Master a symbol? Of what? How came the Lesser Lights to be symbols? Why are these lesser lights? Has one of them reference to Masonic points of the compass?

Nature.—Why has Masonry so many symbols taken from nature? Is nature study important to Masons? Why? How big is the universe?

 

 

 184                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            Brotherly Love.—What is its symbol? From whence came the symbol? How is brotherly love different from fidelity? Is it superior? What was the sacred oil? Who could use it? Of what is it symbolic? What was the dew on Mount Hermon? Why is brotherly love compared to it?

Relief of the Distressed.—Of what is the good Samaritan a symbol?

Truth.—What is its symbol? Why do men fear truth? Who are most afraid of it? Do Masons fear truth? Has God written truth elsewhere than in sacred books? Is an unsuccessful effort to learn truth without reward?

Square.—Symbolised what? How old is this symbol? H old is it known to be in Masonry?

Level.—What does it teach? What sort of equality does it.` not teach? What is Masonic equality? What was equality in feudal days?

Plumb.—Is it a natural or a forced symbol? Of what? H old is it?

Jacob's Ladder.—How did the ladder become a symbol? OK or young? How old? How many rungs has our representation of Jacob's ladder? What do they represent?

Situation of a Lodge.—Why East and West? Are all lodges so situated? If not, why not?

Point in a Circle. Parallel Lines.—Were the Saints John Masons? Are they symbols? Of what? Why do we honour them? Give another instance of Masonic honour to the poor and lowly. What qualities of a man does Masonry recognise?

Cardinal Virtues.—Who named them long ago? When? It the list open to criticism? What criticism? Name them. Give their Masonic meaning. How does Masonic faith differ from-theological faith? With what does Masonry support and sweeten faith?

Chalk, Charcoal and Clay.—Ancient symbols or modern? Of, what? From what do the words "fervency" and "zeal" cone?

Northeast Corner.—Why are corner stones laid there? What is Pike's explanation? Has the practice of standing the Entered Apprentice there a symbolic meaning? What is it?

Whence Came You?—Is it a symbol? Is the answer symbolic? Explain both symbolisms.

            What Came We Here to Do?—What difference is there between the Masonic answer and that of the Pharisee? Did we

 

APPENDIX                                                                            183

 

come to do an unselfish task? What does Masonry reform? Should it join reform movements? Why not?

 

PART II: FELLOW CRAFT DEGREE

 

Why is it desirable that ceremonies be brief? Can we learn all of a degree while experiencing it? Have all Masonic symbols just one meaning? Is this an advantage, and why? How do the "mysteries" differ from the "secrets" of Freemasonry? Explain the method of teaching in Masonry. Does it appeal to all minds? Why? What does the lodge represent in Masonic symbolism? Why is the Fellow Craft Degree so little understood? Why misunderstood? What part of life does the degree illuminate? What relation does it bear to Entered Apprentice Degree and Master Mason Degree? Compare preparations for the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft Degrees. What symbolism refers to prenatal conditions? Is there any part of life from conception to resurrection not represented in Masonic symbolism? What is the first important lesson given the candidate? Why are moral teachings essential? Why especially essential to Masonic training? Explain the symbolism of the human body as a Temple of God. What lesson is taught when the candidate is placed in the N. E. Corner? How is a candidate for the Fellow Craft Degree to be regarded? Why are the moral lessons of the Entered Apprentice Degree repeated? In what way does the general purpose of the Fellow Craft Degree differ from the Entered Apprentice? What is the great theme of the Fellow Craft Degree?

Jewels of a Fellow Craft.—Name them. What do they typify?

Working Tools of a Fellow Craft.—What are they? How applied by operative Masons? How by Freemasons? Why appropriate to a Fellow Craft? Has the Masonical application of the square an ancient counterpart?

Boaz and Jachin.—Why were the pillars placed? Where? Have they another than the ritual meaning? Explain the moral significance of the names. What is the symbolical significance?

Globes.—How do we know the idea of globes is modern? What does the Bible say? Are the Brazen Pillars Egyptian?

 

 

 186                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            Why do we think so? What is the relation between lily-work Egyptian lotus buds and our globes? Give another possible: explanation of the globes.

 

            Lily-work.—What was the Egyptian symbol of peace?

Net Work.—Symbol of what? Why? Does it bear on the antiquity of Masonry? What do you know of the Dionysian Architects?

Potnegranate.—Is it an odd symbol? Is it well understood? Why is it a symbol of plenty? What did ancient writers say of it?

Operative and Speculative Masonry.—Discuss non-operative Masonry and Speculative Masonry. Were operative Masons originally Speculative? How did they become so? What may have been the original object of secrecy? How did non-Masons get into ancient lodges? What several kinds of lodges resulted? How recently?

Royal Tradition.—Is this serious or humorous? Is it laughed at? Why? What other tradition is ridiculed? What reasons have you for thinking Masonic antiquity is not a myth? How could operative builders become philosophers? Why would great temple builders be friendly to kings? Why would rulers consider them as equals?

Winding Stairs.—Of what symbol? Why a good symbol? How many steps? What was JAH to the Hebrews? What was its numerical equivalent? Why were ancient temples approached by an odd number of steps. What in the Fellow Craft Degree does this remind you of?

Science of Numbers.—What was this anciently? What great Hebrew book developed from it? How do our 3, 5 and 7 steps confirm the antiquity of Masonry?

Three Steps.—What do they signify? How does our society correspond with society in general?

Officers of the Lodge.—What practical symbolism do they bear? Do their obligations teach civic duty? What duty?

Five Senses.—Why used as symbols on the stairs? Which are most important to Masons? What mental powers do the senses serve? What is the importance of imagination? Reason? Are these symbols in English work? Why not?

Five Orders in Architecture.—Does this reference instruct in the antiquity of Masonry? Do students of ancient peoples find architecture important? How?

Seven Liberal Arts.—Do they include all knowledge? Did

 

 

 

APPENDIX    187

 

they ever? What do you read from this of the antiquity of Masonry? What were the trivium and quadrivium? What do they mean?

Letter G.—In what lodges should it not be used? What other symbols could be universally used in place of it?

Geometry.—What is the common definition? Masonic definition? Was it important to operative Masons? Why? Why important to us? Why did it become anciently a symbol of moral perfection? Is that its meaning to-day? How does the ancient symbolism bear on the age of Masonry?

Wages of a Fellow Craft.—What were they? Of what are they the symbols? Can you explain how such symbols might have come to be used?

 

 

 

PART III: THE MASTER MASON DEGREE

 

Review the symbolism of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason Degrees as a whole. What is the test of worth of a Masonic symbol? What is the test of worth of meaning given a Masonic symbol?

Antiquity of Masonic Symbolism.—Why is the age of Masonic symbols important? Quote several Masonic authorities. Do we know all the meanings of all Masonic symbols? Why do we study ancient records? What were the "ancient mysteries"? How old is the oldest known? Were they all essentially the same? Name some ancient gods. How did the ancient trinity differ from ours? How may secret worship have begun? Were they similar to Masonry? What, anciently, was initiation? What Masonic similarity is there to the Mithraic Mystery? Did they use legends? What was the legend of Osiris? Has it Masonic similarities? Has it Christian similarities? Tell some similar legends to other lands. Summarise the learning of the ancient mysteries. What is Gould's conclusion?

Third Degree Symbols.—What does the lodge symbolise in the first two degrees? In theThird Degree? Why is the Master Mason's Degree especially solemn? Why does it call for especial reverence? What Temple do we all build? What is the foundation for the idea that the body is a Temple? What is light in the Entered Apprentice Degree? Fellow Craft Degree? Master Mason Degree? How does the symbolism of the square and compasses differ in each of the three degrees?

 

 

 188                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

            Give another explanation from that of the ritual for their positions in the three degrees.

            Discalceation.—How does it differ in the Entered Apprentice and Master Mason Degrees? Give instances of the antiquity of the custom. What is it that we appeal to in each of the three degrees?

Circumambutation.—Is it an ancient symbol? Explain some possible origins. What is the symbolism of its direction? What is the symbolism of its reversal in the Master Mason Degree?

Working Tools.—What are they? In America? In Eng. land? From what is the trowel derived?

Broached Thurnal.--Where was it once used? When discarded? Why?

Deity and Immortality.—What is the sixth sense? What does it reveal to us? Do men's ideas of God change from age to age? Why? Is it God or man which changes? Was an idol a god or a symbol? Who feared the use of human effigy for God? Why? What symbols does Masonry use for God?

Hiramic Legend.—Is it similar to ancient mystery legends? Is Abif a surname? How does the Bible translate it? How do we translate it? What does Hiram mean? What is Pikes idea of it? Is it Christian? Has the legend an astronomical significance? What has this to do with the number of the Fellow Craft team? What was the ancient idea of the trinity? The modern idea? How does Masonry use them? Is there a Biblical story similar to the Hiramic legend? What myth is similar? How old is the legend? How do we know?

Three Ruffians.—Have any ancient gods similar names? Of what nation? Give one explanation of the symbolism of the three ruffians.

            Low Twelve.—Had the number 12 an ancient meaning? What? What other meaning attaches to twelve? What is thirteen? Why is it "unlucky"?

Lion of the Tribe of Judah.—What is the literal meaning of the words? What is the symbolic meaning? Is it Christian or Jewish or both? What curious Egyptian picture shows a lion symbol? Of what?

Five Points of Fellowship.—Are they connected with ancie architecture? What is a Pentalpha? Was it a humane as well as a builder's significance? What change is made in the symbol by elevating one point? Two points? What are the

 

 

APPENDIX                                                                            180

 

English five points? When did our change in them take place? Which do you consider correct? What is the ancient meaning of the winged foot? What is the ancient meaning of two clasped hands? Does a symbolic interpretation of the Hiramic legend deny its actual truth?

Lost Word.—Is the "lost word" an actual lost syllable, or is it a symbol? What did "the Word" mean to the Jews? How does St. John use this meaning? Was this idea only a Jewish one? Define the Greek word "Logos." What modern word do we get from it? Is the power of speech a wonder? Why is it? Explain the Masonic Symbolism of the search for "the word." Why do we receive only the substitute word? Will we ever receive the true word? Has this symbolism any bearing on the age of Masonry?

Marble Monument.—Is the monitorial explanation satisfactory? What Egyptian legend may have given rise to our use of this symbol? What did Apuleius say? When? What is the symbolism of the urn? Is there a better explanation than that given in the Monitor?

Setting Maul.—Of what a symbol? Is it ancient? Give several illustrations.

            Acacia.—How did the ancient Jews use it? What is the real acacia? In what Egyptian legend is it used? What famous objects were made of its wood? Do any Mysteries use plants as symbols of immortality? What mysteries? What plants?

Death.—What does Masonry teach of it? What does Pike say of it? Omar? Bryant? Resurrection.—Give some theories as to the resurrection? Does Masonry teach of them? All of them? What does Masonry teach of a future life?

Immortality.—How does Masonry teach it? Do we exact a belief in it? Why do you believe in it?

Pot of Incense.—How used in Solomon's Temple? What did the Jews mean by it? Why is it a symbol of the best offering to God?

Beehive.—Is hurry important in operative Masonry? Why? In Speculative Masonry? Why is labour held to be honourable? What is the symbolism of the bee? The hive? What makes Masonry live?

Silence.—Is the Book of Constitutions and the Tiler's Sword a new or old symbol? What was the ancient philosophic teach-

 

 

 190                                                    SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE DEGREES

 

ing about silence? Who was Harpocrates? What did he teach?

All-Seeing Eye.—Whence came this symbol? Has it a warning? How do we use it?

Anchor and Ark.—Which ark is meant? Was there a deluge legend before that of the Old Testament? What did it teach? How was the ark used in Egyptian funerals? In the Greek mythology? What do we read in it? Who first used the anchor as a symbol of hope?

Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid.—Who was Euclid? When was the symbol first used Masonically? What other names have we for it? What is it? Do we know all its symbolism? Will we ever fully understand it?

Geometrical Figures.—Which ones especially please us? What did Plato teach of geometry? Why was it more important in ancient times than now? Was the square especially significant? To the Chinese? The Greeks? The Egyptians? Explain the relation of the right square to the Egyptian trinity. How did it come to be a symbol of perfection.

            Hour Glass.—Is this a real Masonic symbol?

Scythe.—Had it anciently a symbolism? How did it come to its present significance?

Coffin.—Was the chest used in the ancient mysteries? How?

Conclusion.—Did the operative Masons understand these symbols? Did they understand them as we do? Do all Speculative Masons understand them? Do you understand them?

 


 

INDEX

 

 

Acacia, the, 161.

 

Akin's Georgia Manual, 99.

All-seeing eye, 147, 170.

Allegory, 15, 22.

Anchor, the, 170.

Ancient mysteries, the, 133.

Anderson's Book of Constitutions, 172.

Antiquity of Masonic symbolism, 132.

Apron, the, 48.

Architecture, the five orders in, 121.

Ark, the, 170.

Aum, 139.

 

 

Bacchus, 138.

Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients, 16.

Baxter, Mrs. Lucy, 109.

Beauty, 56.

Beehive, the, 168.

Bel, 153.

Bible, the, 44.

Black, 52.

Blue, 53

Blue Masonry, the chisel absent in, 33.

Boaz and jachin, 105.

Book of Wisdom, 58.

Brace, C. L., 69.

Brace's Gesta Christi, 69.

"Bright Mason," a, 97.

Broached thurnel, the, 146.

"Brotherly love," 68, 143.

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, 16.

Bryant, William Cullen, 164.

 

 

Cabiric Mysteries, 161.

Cable tow, 39.

Cardinal virtues, 86.

Chalk, 89.

Character, modesty of true, 37.

Charcoal, 89.

Chisel, the, 33.

Cicero, 135.

Clay, 89.

Circumambulation, 41, 144.

Clarke, Adam, 143.

Code of the Masonic Law, 76.

Coffin, the, 177.

Colours, 52-53.

Compasses, the, 48, 142, 145.

Confucius, 175.

Cornish, F. W., 49.

Coulton, George Gordon, 48.

Covering of the Lodge, 59.

Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough, 110.

 

 

Death, 162.

Deity, 147.

Dignity of Man, 43.

Dinsmore, Charles Allen, 166.

Discalceation, 40, 143.

Distressed, relief of, 70.

Dudley's Naology, 25.

Due guard, 39.

 

 

East, the, 42.

Egypt, mysteries of, 136.

Emulation working, 33.

Enfield, 122.

English Monitors, 121.

Entered Apprentice Degree, 13, 26; represents youth, 99.

Erica, the, 162.

Euclid, forty-seventh problem of, 172.

Eureka, the word, 172.

 

Fellow Craft Degree, 97; candidate regarded as a seeker after knowledge, 102; jewels of, 104 ; represents manhood, 99; wages of, 127.

Fellowship, five points of, 155. Five Senses, the, 119.

Freeman, Edward A., 48.

Freemasonry, more ancient than Golden Fleece, 51; more honourable than the Star and Garter, 51.

 

G, the letter, 122.

G. A. 0. T. U., 149.

Gauge, the twenty-four inch, 32.

Gavel, the common, 32.

Geometrical figures, 173.

Geometry, 124.

Globes, the, 106.

Gloves, 53.

Gothe, 21.

Gould, Robert Freke, 18, 132, 140, 178.

Great Lights, the Three, 6,.

Greece, mysteries of, 138.

Guard, due, 39.

 

 

Hemming, Dr., 121.

High hills, 54.

Hiramic Legend, 147, 149. Horsley, J. W., 104.

Hour glass, the, 176.

Hughan, William James, 132.

 

 

Immortality, 147, 166.

Incense, pot of burning, 167.

India, mysteries of, 138.

Initiation, 24.

Isis, 137.

 

 

Jachin and Boaz, 105.

Jacob's Ladder, 82.

Jail, 153.

Jameson, Mrs., 171.

Jehoshaphat, valley of, 55.

Jehudi, Solomon, 107.

Jewels, of a Fellow Craft, 104; of a Lodge, 74.

Judah, lion of the tribe of, 134.

 

 

Keller, Helen, 119.

Key, the, 34.

Kip's Catacombs of Rome, 171.

Klein, Sidney T., 67, 175.

 

 

Legends of the Temple, 147.

Lesser Lights, the Three, 62.

Letter G, the, 123.

Level, the, 80.

Liberal arts and sciences, the seven, 122.

Light, 73.

Lights, the Three Great Lights, 61; the Three Lesser Lights, 62.

Lily-work, 108.

Lines, parallel lines, 84.

Lion of the tribe of Judah, 154.

Lodge, covering of the,' 59;definition of a, 54; jewels of the, 74; meaning of, 24; officers of, 118; ornaments of the, 60; situation of, 83.

LoTus, the, 162.

Lost word, the, 157.

Love, Brotherly, 68.

Low twelve, 154.

Low vales, 54.

 

 

Mackey, Dr., 100, 117, 123. Man, dignity of, 43.

Marble monument, 160.

Mason, etymology of the word, 19.

Masonry, definition of, 21; etymology of the word, 19; operative and speculative,

Master Mason Degree, 131.

Master Mason, represents old age, 99.

Maul, the setting, 161.

Metaphors, 15.

Mistletoe, the, 162.

Mithras, mysteries of, 140.

Modesty of true character, 37.

Moller, George, 122.

Monument, the marble, 160.

Moon, the, 62.

Moore, George Fleming, 29.

Morality, 22.

Morals and Dogma, 68.

Mortar, untempered, 56.

Myrtle, the, 162.

Mysteries, of Egypt, 136; of Greece, 138; of India, 138; of Mithras, 140; teachings of the, summarised, 139; the ancient, 133; the Cabiric, 161.

 

 

Nature, 64.

Network, the, 109.

Northeast corner, 89. Numbers, science of, 115.

 

 

Officers of the Lodge, 118.

Oliver, Dr. George, 40, 121, 145.

Om, 139, 153.

Omar Khayyam, 163.

Order of the Garter, 48.

Order of the Golden Fleece, 48

Operative and speculative masonry, 110.

Ornaments of the Lodge, 60. Osiris, 136.

 

 

Parallel lines, 84

Pausanias, 110.

Pencil, the, 145.

Pentalpha, the, 156.

Perfect youth, 75.

Pike, General Albert, 13, 26, 148, 178

Plato, 174.

Plumb, the, 82.

Pomegranate, the, 110.

Pot of Incense, 147, 167

Preparation of the candidate, 26.

Proclus, 174.

Pythagoras, 116, 143, 174.

 

 

Questions for discussion, 181.

 

 

Ravenscroft, W., 109.

Relief of distressed, 70.

Resurrection, the, 164.

Rhea, 138.

Right-angled triangle, the, 173, 174.

Ritual, memorising the, 17.

Roman Eagle, the, 48.

Royal Arch degree, 159.

Royal Tradition, 112.

Ruffians, the Three, 153.

Rylands, W. H., 13.

 

 

Saints John's Days, 84.

Secrecy, 28.

Senses, the five, 119.

Setting maul, the, 161.

Seven liberal arts and sciences, 122.

Silence, 169.

Simpson, William, 132.

Skirret, the, 145.

Solomon, io5.

Solomon's Temple, 34.

Songhurst, W. J., 39.

Speculative and operative masonry, 110.

Speculative freemasonry, development of, 23.

Speth, George William, 132, 146, 173.

Science of numbers, 115.

Scott, Leader, 109.

Scottish Rite Degrees, 65.

Scythe, the, 48, 176.

Square, the, 48, 79, 142.

Stairs, the winding, 115.

Statius, Achilles, 110.

Strength, 56, 59.

Steps, the Three, 117.

Stukeley, Dr. William, 14.

Sun, the, 62.

Symbolism, 14; antiquity of masonic, 132.

Symbols, 22; third degree, 140;tool, 29.

System, 22.

 

 

Temple, a, 18.

Temple, legends of the, 147.

Third degree symbols, 140.

Three Grand Masters, 147.

Three Ruffians, the, 153.

Three steps, the, 157.

Thurnel, the broached, 146.

Tile, 38.

Tiler, 38.

Tool symbols, 29.

Tools, working, 504, 545.

Tow, cable, the, 39.

Toy, Dr. Crawford H., 58.

Tradition, royal, 112.

Triangle, the, 147.

Trinity, the, 135.

Trowel, the, 145.

Truth, 71.

Twelve, low, 154.

Twenty-four inch gauge, the, 32.

Tyler, 38.

 

 

"Universality," 108.

Untempered mortar, 56.

Upright, 41.

 

 

Valley of Jehoshaphat, 55.

Virtues, cardinal, 86.

Vitruvius, 116

 

 

Wages of a Fellow Craft, 127.

West, the, 43.

"What came we here to do," 92.

"Whence came you," 95.

White, 52

Williams, Henry Smith, 31.

Winding Stairs, the, 115.

Winged foot, the, 157.

Wisdom, 56.

Woodford, Rev. A. F. A., 176.

Word, the lost, 157.

Working tools, see “Tools.”

 

Yarker, John, 146.

Youth, perfect, 75.

 

 

         

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