Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
FIRST DEGREE CERTIFICATE REFERENCES
PROSPER THE ART
By J. G Sullivan

Chapter 2.     BASIC DEFINITIONS

 

It seems desirable at the outset to present several basic definitions, especially one relating to Freemasonry itself.

Many brethren have indicated to me over the years that, when confronted with the question from non-Freemasons as to what our order represents, they have difficulty in providing a concise yet meaningful answer. And yet there is an eminently suitable and also quite short answer that can be given - one with which all Freemasons are familiar. This definition was first applied to Freemasonry many years ago and is quite appropriate today, namely, that our organisation is a “peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”.

The three elements of this definition can be explained further simply by saying that:

  1. Freemasonry provides a special (the sense in which the word “peculiar” is intended) code of general morality based on and derived from the lives of operative stonemasons of ancient times to guide us in our daily living;

 

  1. the moral system is provided by the Masonic ritual in an allegorical format and is part fact, part legend, made necessary because of a lack of precise knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the erection of the great Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem some 3000 years ago. This edifice was selected as the historical “point of commencement” or datum point in connection with the development and presentation of the Masonic message, having particular regard for the fact that a large  number of stonemasons were employed in the construction of the Temple; and

 

iii. the guiding principles of life set out in the Masonic code are explained and exemplified by the use in a symbolic manner of the tools of the stonemason’s craft, the square, plumb rule, compasses, chisel, gavel, pencil, etc. This is further related to the fact that education and learning in the ancient world was undertaken principally by the use of symbols.

 

In addition to the foregoing, there are other short definitions which can be used singly or in combination to explain Freemasonry’s aims and aspirations in a non-verbose manner. For example, we can say:

 

  • Freemasonry’s main principles are related to a love of mankind, a preparedness to assist others when relief is required and a truthful and thoroughly moral approach to life.

 

  • Freemasonry teaches its members to recognise that they have at all times a three-fold duty - to the Supreme Being, to other members of the human race, and to themselves.

 

  • The foundation on which Freemasonry rests is the practice of every moral and social virtue.

 

  • In relation to its members, Freemasonry aims to build character, to develop personality, to provide a stimulus for brethren to wish to attain the highest standards of good citizenship, indeed to promote a certain nobility of mind and thought.

 

  • Freemasonry encourages all that is good and kind and charitable, and opposes all that is sinful, cruel and oppressive.

 

  • The fundamental requirement of members of the Masonic order is that they aim to adhere absolutely to all virtuous principles, including benevolence, charity, prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, mercy, honour, obedience and fidelity.

 

Why are we called Freemasons? What is the origin of the word? Should it be written as one word, or as a hyphenated word, or as two separate words?

 

Here, as happens so often in considering Masonic origins and the like, one  cannot be sure or dogmatic.

 

Many attempts have been made over the years to suggest derivations of the word “mason”, and a number of meanings have been put forward. To me, however, the most likely and satisfying meaning is the one presented by a noted philologist W W Skeat, who considers that the original mason was a hewer and cutter of stone. He establishes a connection in this context with a Norman French word “mason” coming from a Low Latin word which, itself, was derived from the German language; there is, so he tells us, a German word “mezzo” which means “to hew” and is associated with an older word meaning “chisel”.

 

The speculative Craft uses “Freemason” as one word. How “free” became attached to “mason” is not clear.

 

There are numerous recorded instances going back to the 14th century showing the use of the word “freemason” to denote operative masons, some rather skilled operatives being called “freemasons”, and others who apparently performed less responsible work being called simply “masons” or “rough masons”. It should be noted, however, that the term was not always written as one word.

 

Why then did the more expert operatives have the syllable “free” placed before the basic title describing their employment? Why was “free” the particular word to be used?

 

A number of reasons for the introduction of the word “free” have been propounded by Masonic historians and scholars. The most popular and credible are:

 

  1. Masons may have been “free” because membership of a mason’s association (especially as an apprentice) could be given only to men who were free born, that is, not under bondage to a lord or other noble. Even though they may have become free from serfdom by escaping from their bondage, such action did not make them acceptable.

 

  1. Because of their particular abilities and the resulting demand on their services, skilled masons may have been termed “free” in the sense that, unlike most in the community, they were exempted from restrictions on travel as they moved to and from building sites.

 

iii. Masons moving from town to town in their work may have been given freedom form the control of local trade organisations, or freed from the payment of tolls or taxes, particularly if they were men working under ecclesiastical control. In the latter regard, some masons under the protective authority of Papal Bulls.

 

iv.  The word “free” may have been assigned to skilled masons because much of their work was carried out in freestone - a soft-cutting stone most suitable for use in special shaping processes.

 

  1. Masons may have been regarded as “free” by the achievement of freedom, in other words, membership, of a masons’ company or guild.

 

The position is confusing from this distance and the real basis for the addition of “free” may have been a combination of several of the possibilities referred to above.

 

There is further complication in that, over a long period, “Freemason” appears to have several different meanings. Also, some associations of operative stonemasons functioning in different parts of England, were known as “Companies of Masons” and others as “Companies of Freemasons”.

 

As for our early speculative brethren describing themselves as “Freemasons”, there is nothing we can point to as evidencing exactly how or why this happened. All we can imagine is that our pioneers must have considered the question and decided that “Freemason” was the proper word to employ, having regard for the meaning of the word in those times vis-a-vis the aspirations of the Masonic fraternity.

 

One further basic definition seems necessary and that concerns the word “speculative” as applied to our order. The word “speculative” means “reflective”, “meditative”, or, more simply, “thinking” and is used to distinguish our philosophical body from the craft of operative stonemasonry.

 

Perhaps it can be said that the operative stonemason is a man who constructs edifices of material substances, whereas the speculative Freemason is involved in philosophical considerations associated with the building of a spiritual building - a temple within himself which will provide the necessary guidance in every action of his life.

 

 

THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF FREEMASONRY

 

by MWBro L. G. Catt PGM

From Masonic Grand Masters of Australia, by K. W. Henderson.

 

Surely, in a world torn by strife and divided by so many feuds of race, religion and nationality, we have a right to rejoice in a fellowship, at once free, gentle and refining, which spans all distances of space and all differences of speech, and brings men together by a common impulse and inspiration in mutual respect and brotherly regard. Truly it needs no philosopher to discern that such a fraternity, the very existence of which is a fact eloquent beyond words, is an influence for good no one can measure in the present, and a prophecy for the future the meaning of which no one can reckon; and doubly so because by its very genius Freemasonry is international, and therefore ought to be responsive to the ideal world of fellowship.

 

These words, written in the early part of this century by the late Brother John Fort Newton of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, are as true today as they were then. Rising from the mists of antiquity to the present day, many myths, legends and facts have relating to the purpose, aims, objectives and validity of Freemasonry. It is useful to look broadly at them and place them in a proper perspective.

Freemasons who desire to develop a greater understanding of Masonic history and teachings are aware of, and well served by, Lodges of Research all over the world. The oldest and most eminent is the Quator Coronati Lodge No. 2076 EC, London, the Premier Lodge of Research. Its transactions, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (AQC), have been published annually since 1886.

 

Non-Freemasons who genuinely seek knowledge concerning the Order can readily obtain it from talking to a Freemason, or find almost unlimited material in any good public library.

 

As a commencement point in this discussion, let the myth that Freemasonry is a secret society be exploded - it is not. Freemasons proudly acknowledge their membership of the Masonic Order, its Constitutions and Rules are freely available, their transactions regularly cover the globe, and there is no secrecy about any of the aims and principles of Freemasonry. Like many societies, Freemasonry regards its internal affairs as a private matter for its members. Even so, the only matters that are really intended to be ‘secret’ are its traditional modes of recognition. It has been said that the only real ‘secret’ about Freemasonry is that it is no secret at all.

 

Many Freemasons have a vague idea that Freemasonry, as we know it, can be traced back to King Solomon, the ancient pyramids of Egypt, or some ancient mystery or rite. The late Brother Harry Carr, PJGD, EC, an eminent English Masonic authority, states emphatically that the first Masonic trade organisation of ‘operative’ Masons (when Masons earned their living with hammer and chisel) was in 1356, and this organisation started as a result of what we would now call a demarcation dispute, between mason hewers who cut the stone, and the mason layers and setters who actually built the walls. A simple code of regulations was drawn up in a document which still survives. Within twenty years the organisation became the London Masons Company, the first trade guild of Masons and one of the direct ancestors of Freemasonry today. Other guilds became established. These guilds were not lodges, but the Masons who were engaged on really big projects (such as castles, abbeys, churches( formed themselves into Lodges so that they had some form of self-government.

 

Information concerning the earliest lodges comes to us from a collection of documents known as ‘The Old Charges’ - the Regius MS. C. 1390, the Cooke MS c. 1410, and some 130 versions of these running through to the eighteenth century, including the important Sloane MS c. 1700 and the Graham MS 1726. From these early beginnings we come to 1717 when the first Grand Lodge was founded, in England. As Freemasons are aware, from 1751 until 1813 there were two rival Grand Lodges in England - the original (‘The Moderns’), and the rival (‘The Antients’). In 1813 these two Grand Lodges merged to become  the United Grand Lodge of England, and it is fair to say that the basic pattern of Australian Masonry today follows the ritual and procedures that were approved upon that union.

 

We can accept the foregoing as fact by virtue of documented evidence. We may now turn briefly to the myth and legend which have affected the rituals and beliefs inherent in Freemasonry.

 

Masonry, the art of building, began many thousands of years ago, from the dawn of civilisation. Man has always been a builder, and wherever a civilisation has existed we find the remains and crumbling ruins of towers, temples, tombs and monuments, originally erected by the industry of human beings; and these invariably have some mark or monument bespeaking a vivid sense of the Unseen, and the builder’s awareness of his relation to it.

 

The Masonic art of building probably reached its greatest peak in the erection of temples and cathedrals. Ruskin, in his Seven Lamps of Architecture, argues that the laws of architecture are moral laws, that there are two sets of realities - the material and the spiritual - so interwoven that the practical laws are exponents of moral laws.

 

The discovery of the square was a great event to the primitive mystics of the Nile and very early it became an emblem of truth, justness and righteousness, which it remains to this day. So too, the cube, compasses, triangle and keystone, while the tools which fashioned these, the level, plumbrule, pencil, skirret, chisel, mallet, gavel and 24-inch gauge, have attracted to themselves symbolisms of the laws of the Eternal.

 

Socrates made probably the greatest discovery ever made - that human nature is universal. It has been found that races far removed from each other by space, distance and time, but at roughly the same stage of culture, have used the same or similar symbols to express their thoughts, hopes and aspirations. The outstanding example, as ancient as it is eloquent, is the idea of the trinity and its emblem, the triangle. When the social life of man becomes the prism of faith, God is a trinity of Father, Mother, Child.  Almost as old as human thought, we find the idea of trinity, and its triangle emblem everywhere - the two best known examples being Siva, Vishnu and Brahma in India corresponding to Osiris, Isis and Horus in Egypt.

 

Square, triangle, cross and circle are the oldest symbols of humanity and, as symbols do, point beyond themselves to an invisible truth which they seek to embody. Sometimes we find them united, the square within the circle, and within that the triangle, and at the centre the cross. These earliest of emblems indicate the highest faith and philosophy, betraying not only the unity of the human mind but its kinship with the Eternal - the fact that lies at the root of every religion.

 

The virtues of faith, hope and charity, embodying love in its broadest sense, and  the four cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, are enshrined in Masonic lore. The various symbols which have become associated with  Freemasonry through the centuries all fortify in one way or another these desirable virtues.

 

At this point, let it be acknowledged that Freemasonry is not a religion - neither is it a creed or sect, nor a substitute for religion.

 

In this regard it is again pertinent to quote from the late Brother John Fort Newton:

 

All this confusion (about Freemasonry being a religion) results from a misunderstanding of what religion is. Religions are many; religion is one - perhaps we may say one thing, but that one thing includes everything - the life of God in the soul of man, which finds expression in all the forms which life and love and duty take. The church has no monopoly on religion. The soul of man is greater than all dogmas and more enduring than all institutions. Masonry seeks to free men from a limiting conception of religion, and thus remove one of the chief causes of sectarianism. It is itself one of the forms of beauty wrought by the human soul under the inspiration of the Eternal Beauty, and as such is religious. Many fine minds have been estranged from the Church, not because they were irreligious, but because they were required to believe what it was impossible for them to believe; and, rather than sacrifice their integrity of soul, they have turned away from the last place from which a man should ever turn away. No part of the ministry of Masonry is more beautiful and wise in its appeal, not for tolerance, but for fraternity; mot for uniformity, but for unity of spirit amidst variety of outlook and opinion. Instead of criticising Masonry, let us thank God for one altar where no man is asked to surrender his liberty of thought and become an indistinguishable atom in the mass of sectarian agglomeration. What a witness to the worth of the Order that it brings together men of all creeds on behalf of those truths which are greater than all sects, deeper than all doctrines - the glory and the hope of man!

 

The lessons of Freemasonry are based upon the Volume of the Sacred Law, whilst it is founded on the principles of the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God, and the acknowledgment of a Supreme Being. It has preserved the right of each individual soul to its own religious faith; it does not compete with any religion and holds itself aloof from all sects and creeds whilst it requires its members to tolerate, revere and respect, or at least regard with clarity, that which its fellows hold sacred.

 

Masonry does not divide men, it unites them, leaving every man free to think his own thought and fashion his own system of ultimate truth. All its emphasis rests upon two extremely simple and profound principles - love of God and love of man. Therefor all through the ages it has been, and is today, a meeting place of differing minds, and a prophecy of the final union of all reverent and devout souls.

 

Brother Reverend Neville Barker Cryer, in his outstanding paper, ‘The Churches Concern with Freemasonry’ came to ‘conclusions’ which are eminently sound, but two in particular are of note -

 

1…one of the essential landmarks of the Craft should constantly be the assertion that Freemasonry is not a religion;

2…one of the major difficulties would be overcome if it were constantly realised by non-Masons that not every Mason who issues in print is speaking with authority for the whole Craft, and is not quotable to that end.

 

VWBro Rev Cryer has been Director General of the British and Foreign Bible Society since 1970. His service to the Anglican Church has taken him all over the world. He is a Past Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Surrey, EC and in 1986 he was appointed as Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of England. He was Prestonian Lecturer in 1984.

 

While the individual Freemason has the right to hold his own opinion with regard to public affairs, neither in any lodge nor in his capacity as a Freemason may he advance his views on theological or political questions. Freemasonry does not express any opinion on the questions of foreign or domestic policies either at national or international levels.

 

There have been many definitions attempted or offered as to what Freemasonry is; but one which would meet with universal acceptance is to be found in the German Handbuch of 1900:

 

Masonry is the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the mason’s trade and from architecture, work for the welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others, and thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind, which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale.

 

Fundamentally, Freemasonry is a code of living based on the highest ethical and moral standards. Among its principle aims are:

 

  1. to promote the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God;
  2. to render practical aid to the less fortunate members of the community;

iii. to develop such behaviour in daily life as will demonstrate that the teachings of the Order have a profound and beneficial affect on all who sincerely embrace its concepts;

iv.  to encourage the practice of every moral and social virtue.

 

Membership is open to all men of good reputation and integrity, of any race or religion, who can fill the one essential qualification that the applicant believes in a Supreme Being. He is also required to acknowledge obedience to lawful authority and the laws of the land in which he resides. A most serious responsibility rests on his sponsors that he is well fitted to become a members of the lodge he seeks to join. One of the outstanding appeals of Freemasonry lies in its exhortation that honesty, decency, integrity and virtue are the hallmarks of a dedicated Freemason.

 

During his period as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, then Governor of Queensland, often commented that Freemasonry might not be able to make a bad man good, but that it could make a good man better

 

The future of Freemasonry is very bright indeed. Since its ancestral beginnings Freemasonry, at various periods, has survived international wars, political and religious suppressions, and the victimisation of its members. While the principles and the objects of the Order have been so firmly established over the centuries, it is sensible to conclude that its future appeal will be as a beacon light drawing men of integrity, strength and goodwill within its lustrous ambit.

 

Freemasonry is a vast, worldwide fraternity based on spiritual faith and moral idealism. It helps a man to think through to a more satisfactory meaning of life. It is a way of life, a code of conduct, a pattern of behaviour, philosophically subscribing to the Golden Rule, in a world society which today is fractured by deceits, duplicities, tensions, torn by violence and acts of terrorism, wars of acquisition and wars based on religion in the name of God, for purposes all of which are abhorrent and repugnant to the teachings of Freemasonry.

Brother John Fort Newton might possibly had some of these thoughts in mind when he asked the question ‘When is a man a Mason?’ He answered his own question at length in beautiful and noble phrases:

 

When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope and courage - which is the root of every virtue. When he knows how to sympathise with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins - knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun and feel the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he the laugh of a little child. When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid  without a response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song - glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.

 

 


 

SONS OF LIGHT

By K. Linton

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE FIRST DEGREE

(Pages 5-15)

 

I call this chapter “ A Journey through the First Degree” because I intend to conduct the reader through the First Degree in the order of the ceremony, touching on its highlights and adding interpretations  and explanation where necessary.

 

In our Journey through the First Degree we meet a series of challenges. No doubt we all remember that first challenge: “Do you feel anything?” That first incident was designed to intimate to us that we were about to engage in something serious and solemn. We were no sooner inside the Lodge than we were faced with the second challenge: “Are you free?” Then, when we vowed that we were unfettered, body, mind and soul, the blessings of the Almighty was invoked on the proceedings. Then, without a pause, came the third and most important challenge of all: “In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?” There is, of course, only one answer, but that answer is the confession of a simple faith - the simple faith of Masonry. We do not enquire a candidate’s religion, but we do insist on a belief in a Supreme Being - faith in the Great Architect of the Universe is the rock foundation on which the whole Masonic edifice is built.

 

Of the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, the last is, of course, the greatest -  “chief among the blessed three”, as we sing in our ode - but Faith is necessarily the first, the starting point in any approach to God. And so we find right at the beginning of our Masonic career a profound emphasis on a simple faith. But let us continue our journey.

 

We enter the Lodge room from the West, symbolizing the gateway of life, not birth, but the beginning of life.  Being the gateway to life, it will also eventually be the gateway from life, but that comes much later in our story. We travel down the North side, the place of darkness, symbolizing the development of life - the time spent by the embryo in the mother’s womb, or the seed in the darkness of the earth. Then we arrive in the East, where we receive the light, symbolizing birth.

 

In his circumambulation of the Lodge our candidate follows the path of the sun, which, of course, rises in the East, reaches its zenith in the South - at least it does in the Northern Hemisphere, where our ceremonies originate - then sets in the West, and returns to the East through the hours of darkness.

 

Our candidate knocks, three times at the Junior Wardens pedestal and three times at that of the Senior warden. These three knocks have a profound significance; they betoken the three degrees, which in turn represent man’s approach to God in each of the three phases of nature: a physical approach, a mental or intellectual approach, and a spiritual approach. The candidate, of course, knows nothing of this  at this stage, but the pattern of our three degrees is based on this fundamental principle.

 

We advance to the East by three irregular steps, symbolizing stepping into the unknown. The first is a timid step, full of caution; the second a little bolder, indicating rising confidence, and the third quite bold, because fear has now been dispelled. The first part of the sign of an Entered Apprentice has the same significance - reaching into the unknown.

 

The predominating number of this degree is three, just as five and seven are the numbers of the other two degrees, and so, as the candidate kneels he forms three squares: the first with his leg, the second with his foot, and the third with his arm. His hand in this position is an emblem of concealment - he takes a vow of  concealment - and it is worthy to notice that the words used, “hele and conceal”, have the same meaning: “hele: being derived from the Anglo-Saxon, the language in use before William the Conquerer arrived from Normandy, and “conceal” being derived from the Norman French that he brought with him, thus establishing  a second language in England. Freemasonry here used a word fro each language to make sure that it was not misunderstood. This might throw a little light on the age of our ritual.

 

Both these words mean to “cover up”, just as does our other word “heal”, which was derived from the same Anglo-Saxon word “helan”. The thatchers of roofs, particularly in Cornwall and Devon, are called “heelers” to this day, and our nurseryman use that word when they cover the roots of a plant with earth, till they are ready to place it in the ground.

 

The obligation is obviously twofold,  in as much as we may neither do certain things ourselves, nor permit them to be done by others; but the word “indite”, which is not properly understood, makes the obligation threefold. Its meaning is “to direct or dictate what is to be uttered or written”. If we may not permit a second person to direct or dictate what is to be uttered or written to a third person, the word has a profound significance on our obligation.

 

When God accused Cain of Abel’s murder, he answered: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The word “indite” in our obligation shows that we are our brother’s keeper. The mere passive witnessing a brother thus violating his obligation implies the violation  of our own.

 

We are made a Mason in the body of  a Lodge “just, perfect and regular”. The word “just” in this instance has the archaic meaning of “correct”. As it does in the investiture of the Treasurer when we use the words “just and regular accounts”. What makes the Lodge “just”, what makes it “perfect”, and what makes it “regular”? The Sacred Volume open on the Master’s pedestal makes it just, and complete. The number seven makes it perfect, as we learn in the words of the First Tracing Board, with a confirmation of that in the Second Tracing Board, as you, no doubt, remember. The warrant or charter of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria makes it regular. Without the Sacred Volume to make the Lodge just and complete, the presence of “seven regularly made Masons” to make it perfect, and the warrant or charter to make it regular, no Lodge can conduct the ceremony of initiation.

 

After the candidate has received the light, he takes his first regular step in Freemasonry, which he does in the for of a tau cross. When I was in India several years ago, I noticed that they used the same words as we do regarding the placing of the candidate’s feet, but they added the words: “so as to form the letter T”. This is quite right, as the English letter T is the equivalent of the Greek letter tau, and the three emblems in the form of an inverted letter T on the apron of an Installed Master are tau crosses. The letter tau is the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.

 

In its original form of a cross, it is probably the most ancient of all sacred signs. It is depicted on the oldest monuments in Egypt, Assyria, Persia and Hindustan. According to Mackey, Moses marked this sign on the fore head of his brother, Aaron, when he anointed him as the first High Priest of Israel. It was this sign that Ezekiel caused to be marked on the foreheads of the righteous, who were thereby saved from death. In India it is the sign of the Brahma, the creator, the first of the Hindu Trinity, and used by Brahmins, the highest caste in that religion. It was highly revered by the ancient Druids, and is, of course, the most sacred sign of Christianity.

 

We form a tau cross in each of the three degrees, and when we are exalted in the Royal Arch - which it is claimed, is not another degree, but the completion of the third - we find the three crosses united in the “triple tau”.

 

As the left-hand side symbolizes evil, we always take a step with the left foot, as symbolical of putting down evil, before we make this sign. The Latin word for “left” is sinister, which accounts for the ominous significance attributed to this English word.

 

The word of the degree is a Hebrew word, whose meaning gives us the key to God’s covenant with Israel, of which to name of the pillar was intended to be a constant reminder, as we see form this paraphrasing of the covenant: “In the strength of Jehovah shall the king rejoice, for He will establish the throne of David and his kingdom to his seed forever”. The pillar has nothing really to do with the great grandfather of David, only inasmuch as they both bore the same name, thus the name of one serves as a reminder of the other.

 

“Have you anything to give?” Here Brethren, is our fourth challenge, and, although at the time we were prevented from accepting that challenge, now that we are Freemasons, we are bound to accept, for we have so much to give - our time, our energy, our devotion. To disregard this challenge is to condemn ourselves to lack of interest, which so often becomes that fatal attitude of apathy.

 

The ancient Greeks had three words - eros, philia, and agape which are translated to the same English word “love”, but to the Greeks they had three distinct meanings. Eros was the love between the sexes; philia the love of man for man - brotherly love; and the third, agape, something far greater - the love of God for man, which, of course, knows no bounds. The equivalent of agape in the Latin language was caritas, and it is from this word that our word “charity” is derived, and it has the same meaning. It seems to have been somewhat degraded in the outside world, but in Freemasonry it still has that deeper meaning. We cannot hope to attain to such a love, but we can strive to emulate it to the best of our ability.

 

Faith, as I have already mentioned, is necessarily the first step in any approach to God, and the three degrees in Freemasonry represent our approach to God in the three phases of our nature. We belong to God, body, mind and soul. It is Hope that enables us to take the next step, but Charity, that sublime virtue derived from an emulation of God’s love for man, must be the greatest, and so we depict it on our Tracing Board as the top rung of the ladder.

 

The North-east charge is a dramatization of this great virtue; it reminds us of our obligation to relieve the distress of our indigent brother, and this reminder is constantly repeated at the conclusion of every meeting in the Tyler’s Toast. During my Masonic career I have heard several interpretations of the Tyler’s Toast, but the following has so appealed to me that I have forgotten the others.

 

According to this interpretation the Tyler’s Toast is meant to remind us of the time, when we stood on the North-east corner of the Lodge, and listened for the first time to these words “… it cannot be denied that we have many members of rank and opulence amongst us; neither can it be concealed that among the thousands who range under its banner, there are some who, perhaps from circumstances of unavoidable calamity and misfortune, are reduced to the lowest ebb of poverty and distress. On their behalf it is our usual custom to awaken the sympathy of every newly initiated Brother, by making such a claim, etc.” The charge concludes with the words: “…should you, at any future time, meet a Brother in distress who might solicit your assistance, you will remember those peculiar moments when you were admitted into Freemasonry … and cheerfully embrace to opportunity of practicing towards him that virtue that you now profess to admire.”

 

When we honour this toast to our distressed Brethren we think of them as being dispersed to the four points of the compass over the surface of land and water, and so we point, but not to the South, for, symbolically speaking, we are standing in the South, but we point to the other three - straight ahead to the North, left to the West, and right to the East. We do this three times in allusion to the three degrees, which in turn allude to the triple nature of man - body, mind, and soul - for man must dedicate himself to God in each of the three phases of his nature, and in each of the three degrees to represent our approach to God in that particular phase of our being.

 

When we find ourselves face to face with the distressed Brother, what might we be called upon to do in order to carry out this obligation?

 

Well first of all, we may have to thrust our hands into our pockets where we keep our money. However, financial aid may not be his greatest need; perhaps he is depressed, downcast, discouraged, and our sympathy, counsel, or encouragement could give him renewed strength to fight life’s battle. He may have all the money he needs, and yet be destitute of faith, of hope, and of course, it is our duty to share our faith, our hope, and our courage with him. Our aid to this distressed Brother could take yet a third form; perhaps he is aged, invalid, blind, or otherwise handicapped, and so unable to something that we could do for him - some physical task that we could do for him with these hands.

 

Yes, our aid will come from our pockets, from our hearts, or from our hands, and so we indicate each in turn. And we do it three times for the same reason that we pointed three times: body, mind and soul; hand, head and heart; north, west and east. And in silence, because whatever aid we render to our distressed Brother will forever remain a secret between the giver and the receiver.

 

“To our next merry meeting” we say with the hands in this position. The hand in this position always symbolizes concealment, as it was thus that we took our obligation. This time it is a double concealment, representing concealment in two places. It is not only what occurred in the Lodge Room, but also what occurred here at the festive board, where we honour this toast, that is not to be divulged to the outside world.

 

We call our place of refreshment “the South”, because the cathedral builders always erected their lodge on the sunny side of the construction, which in the Northern Hemisphere is the south. It was here that our ancient Brethren took their refreshment, and so the place of refreshment came to be called the “South”.

 

It has been well said:

“Faith is lost in sight, Hope ends in fruition, but Charity extends beyond the grave through the boundless realms of eternity”.

 

This sounds like a riddle, but it is profound truth, because faith is the assurance of things not seen, and when we finally see, then we believe through sight, and no longer through faith - “Faith is lost in sight”. As hope exists only in the expectation of possession it must necessarily cease, when the thing desired is at last enjoyed:

 

“Hope ends in fruition; but Charity, exercised here on earth in acts of mutual kindness and forbearance, is still to be found in the world to come in its most sublime form as God’s mercy to His erring creatures”.

 

In the Reasons for Preparation we are told that our right arm was made bare in token of our sincerity, and to show that we are able and willing to work. This, Brethren, is yet another challenge, similar to “give”, because unless we are prepared to work diligently in gaining knowledge and carrying out the teachings of the Craft, we are sentencing ourselves to the same fate as those who do not give. The important point is that both “give” and “work” imply involvement.

 

Again in the Reasons we are told: “There was not heard the sound of a hammer or any other implement of iron”. To my knowledge there are four references to this in the Sacred Volume. The first is a warning, which is given in Exodus 20:25, where we read:

 

“And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt build it of hewn stone, for if thou lift up thine tool upon it, thou hast polluted it”.

 

The second is an instruction, which is given in Deuteronomy 27:5, where we read:

 

“And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them”.

 

We know that the command was carried out, because it is recorded in Joshua 8:30-31:

 

“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man  hath lift up any iron”.

 

The fourth reference shows us that this law was observed in the erection of King Solomon’s Temple, for in the First Book of Kings 6:7, we read:

 

“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stones made ready, before they were brought hither; so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any  tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building”.

 

I will mention but two things in the Tracing Board, and the first of these is a pair of things, the Rough and Perfect Ashlars. Both of these ashlars are reminders of the necessity for moral behaviour and the importance of developing the intellectual faculty. In the ritual we are told: “The Rough Ashlar is a stone, rough and unhewn as taken from the quarry until, by the industry and ingenuity of the workmen, it is modelled, wrought into due form, and rendered fit for the hands of the more expert craftsman; this represents man in his infant or primitive stage, rough and unpolished as that stone, until by the kind care and attention of his parents or guardians by giving a liberal and virtuous education, his mind becomes cultivated, and he is thereby rendered a fit member of civilized society. The Perfect Ashlar is a stone of true die or square, fit to be tried by the S. and C.s; this represents man in the decline of years, after a regular well-spent life in acts of piety and virtue, which cannot otherwise be tried and approved than by the S. of God’s word, and the C.s of his own self-convincing conscience.

 

Dr Mackey (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its kindred Sciences) presents the same idea in these words:

“The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished conditions, is emblematical of man in his natural state - ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious. But when education has exercised its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and activating his mind, he is then represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skilful hand of the expert Craftsman, has been smoothed and squared and fitted for its place in the building”.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Joseph Fort Newton (The Builders) clothes the idea in these beautiful words:

 

“Freemasonry insists that its members shall be men, free men of adult age and of good report; as the stones of King Solomon’s Temple were hewn and chiselled and shaped and polished, far away, so that without the sound of axe or hammer, they might be softly, silently set in the place that awaited them; so in the Lodges of freemasonry the characters of its members are silently, secretly smoothed and shaped, until the rough stone becomes the Perfect Ashlar, the long pilgrimage is over, the working tools are laid down, and the finished stone finds its last resting place in the great temple of humanity, which the Great Architect has been building since the world began:.

 

Now let me add the thought contained in the last verse of that poem by Lawrence Greenleaf, entitled “Temple of Living Stones”:

 

“Although our past achievements we with honest pride review,

As long as there’s Rough Ashlars there is work for us to do;

We still must shape the living stones with instruments of love,

For that eternal mansion in the paradise above;

Toil as we’ve toiled in ages past to carry out the plan;

‘Tis this: the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man”.

 

In ordinary everyday life, when we speak of a “rude or “Polished” mind, of an “upright” man, who is a “pillar” of society, of meeting on the “level”, and acting on the “square”, we are using words that found their origin in our Masonic Craft; and when we speak of putting someone through the Third Degree, we are thinking of an ordeal, and our Masonic ordeal teaches us that we cannot rely on our own worth, no matter how virtuous, nor yet on all the science and accumulated knowledge of mankind, but only on the sure grip of faith; all else will prove a slip and fail us in the hour of trial.

 

Which brings us back to the point where we stared our journey, and where we answered that most important challenge: “In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?” Our answer, “In God”, is a confession of faith, the simple faith of Masonry is its very cornerstone, its first and greatest landmark, the basis of its plan, its purpose, its promise. There is no other foundation - upon faith in God, Freemasonry builds its temple of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.

 

As he has for most things, Dr. Newton (The Builders) has something apt to say about the simple faith; and so I will conclude this chapter with his words:

 

‘Out of this simple faith grows by inevitable logic the philosophy which Freemasonry teaches in signs and symbols, in pictures and parables. Stated briefly, stated vividly, it is that behind the pageant of nature, in it and over it, there is a Supreme Being, who initiates, impels and controls all; that behind the life of man and his pathetic story in history, there is a righteous will, the intelligent conscience of the Most High. In short, that the last thing in the universe is mind, that the highest and deepest thing is conscience, and that the final reality is the absoluteness of love; higher than his faith cannot fly, and deeper than his thought cannot dig”.

 

The other reference I wish to make to the Tracing Board is not to two things like the Ashlars, but to three things, the pillars. They warrant a chapter on their own.

 


 

THE THREE GREAT PILLARS

 

The column of office of the Junior Warden is the pillar of the Corinthian Order. It is an emblem of beauty, and points out that he is to adorn the work with all his powers of genius and active industry, to promote regularity among the Brethren by his precept and example, and the discriminating encouragement of merit.

 

The outstanding feature of the Corinthian Order is the acanthus leaf, the introduction of which is attributed to Callimachus, the celebrated architect of ancient Greece. Long before the Christian era a Corinthian maiden, who was betrothed, took ill and died before the time for the appointed marriage. Her faithful and grieving nurse placed on her tomb a basket containing many of her toys and covered it with a flat tile. It so happened that the basket was placed immediately on top of an acanthus root, which then grew up and around the basket, and curled around the weighty resistance of the tile, exhibiting a form of foliage, which was, on being seen by the architect, perceived as a potential form of architecture. He adopted it as a model for the capital of a new order of architecture, perpetuating in marble this story of affection.

 

It is the most elaborate of the three Greek orders, the other two of which are the Ionic and the Doric. It gained great favour with the Romans, who tried to improve on it with the Composite, but the Corinthian has steadily maintained its popularity. The finest Greek example is the choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens. The Roman examples include the Temple of mars at Ultor, The temple of Vespasian, the third range of the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.

 

Emblematically, this column is female, and its distinguishing characteristics are lightness and beauty. In proportion its length is nine to eleven times its diameter, and in Freemasonry it represents Hiram Abif.

 

When Hiram, King of Tyre, which was the chief city of Phoenicia, accepted King Solomon’s invitation to support him with men and materials for the building of the Temple, he sent his outstanding man to take charge of the construction. This is recorded in the First Book of Kings 7:13, where we read:

 

“And Solomon sent and brought Hiram out of Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe Napthali, and his father was a man of Tyre.”

 

His father , therefore, was a Phoenician, but his mother was an Israelite. Some Masonic scholars contend that this  man of tyre was his step-father, and that his real father, his mother’s first husband was a man of the tribe of Dan, making him fully an Israelite by birth. The history of Tyre goes back to the fifteenth century B.C. (The City of Tyre was about one hundred and sixty kilometres from Jerusalem.)

 

Hiram Abif, or being translated, Father Hiram, was a very talented man, as we can see from the passages of scripture. The first records:

 

“Hiram was a worker in bronze, and he was full of wisdom, understanding and skill for making any manner of work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work.”

 

And the other passage (The Second Book of Chronicles 2:14) records the words of Hiram, King of Tyre, in describing the man he was sending:

 

“He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood; and in purple, blue and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all, sorts of engraving, and to execute any design that may be assigned to him with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my Lord David, your Father.”

 

His skill as a Mason is certified by the famous archaeologist, Professor Smythe, who tells us that there were stones as large as 11.81 metres long, 2.13 metres high, and 2.44 metres wide, and that these were formed so as to fit and rest on the natural rock foundation, and that the joints between these stones were so perfect that the blade of a knife could not be inserted between them.

 

A stone of these dimensions would weigh about 140 tonne, and had to be moved into position without the aid of any kind of machinery, for this was before the invention of even the system of pulleys mentioned in the first Tracing Board. This enormous mass had to be dragged along an embankment of earth, which grew with the height of the building, and was not removed until after the temple was completed.

 

We are told that there was nothing more remarkable than the two great pillars, which were placed at the porchway or entrance, but these were actually surpassed by the great laver, which stood in the open space in front of the Temple. The pillars were each composed of three distinct castings, but this huge bowl, 4.57 metres in diameter, was one solid casting. It rested on the backs of twelve bronze oxen in groups of three, one group facing each of the four cardinal points of the compass. Its capacity was two thousand baths, which would be equal to 77,231 litres.

 

This genius of a man was also an expert in the art of blending dyes. The veil of the Temple, a drop of over nine metres, which separated the Holy Place from the Sanctum Sanctorum was dyed purple, a colour which the ordinary man was forbidden to wear under pain of death, and the dye for which was decocted from extracts from whelks and a certain seaweed.

 

He died just before the completion of his masterpiece, and such is the number of Masonic Lodges throughout the world, that his obituary is performed every hour of every day. Could any man have a more permanent memorial? It is the honour and privilege of the Junior Warden to represent this man.

 

The column of office of the Senior Warden is the pillar of the Doric order. It is an emblem of strength and directs him to use all his strength of mind and power of intellect to preserve the peace, order and harmony among the Brethren of his Lodge, to facilitate the designs of the Worshipful Master, and to see that his commands are carried into full and permanent effect.

 

The Doric is the oldest of the classic orders, dating back some 4,500 years. In proportion its height is from five to seven times its diameter. It was, no doubt, because of its Phoenician origin that it was chosen to represent Hiram, King of Tyre. It is male in its proportions.

 

The idea of the Temple was first conceived by King David, but for several reasons this mighty warlike King could not commence the work, although he did discuss the matter with Hiram, King of Tyre. It was left to his son, Solomon, upon his ascent to the throne to make a treaty with that monarch, who was to support him so ably with men and materials.

 

Phoenicia was a buffer state between Egypt, Assyria and Babylon, and, except for brief periods of independence, was politically overlorded in turn by these three great powers, but as a trading, seafaring nation, the Phoenicians never completely lost their independence. They were the outstanding financiers and money-lenders of their day, and had extensive overseas resources - Carthage, the great rival of Rome, was started as a colony of Phoenicia. Tyrian ships visited what is now known as the British Isles, and it has been established that their country actually operated the tin mines in Cornwall, which are still yielding tin today. It was this tin that was mixed with copper to make the bronze pillars, the great laver, and the many ornaments of the Temple.

 

Not only did Hiram, King of Tyre, supply Solomon with the architect himself, Hiram Abif, but with many thousands of menatzchin, or prefects, or more familiarly speaking overseers, who were the artificers or skilled tradesmen. They were to oversee the vast number of unskilled labourers, who were drawn mainly from the satellite peoples of Israel, such as the Moabites, and other indigenous tribes. These unskilled labourers loaded timber from the forests of Lebanon onto the ships that were to transport it to Joppa, from where it was transported to Jerusalem. The Phoenicians supervised the preparation of the stones in the quarries, and their placement in the building, after the unskilled labourers had transported them there, again under the skilled workers of Tyre.

 

The metal work was cast in the Plain of Jordan, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredatha under the supervision of Hiram Abif and his skilled artificers.

 

It took seven and a half years to complete the Temple, and then only by working the unskilled labour at ten thousand a shift, thanks to the wonderful support of Hiram, King of Tyre, whose honesty and integrity were bywords in his day. Of course, he was not doing this for nothing. His was a trading nation, and he wanted his caravan routes kept open, and in this way Solomon was able to repay him, besides supplying him with goods that Tyre itself could not produce.

 

Hiram came to the throne at the early age of nineteen years, and he reigned for thirty-four years, dying at the age of fifty-three. He is mentioned only twice in our ritual. The first time is in the First Tracing Board in that part which is repeated in our installation ceremony as the Address to the Pillars, where we are told that he is represented by the Doric column of the Senior Warden. The second reference is even less specific: in the rather negative statement, that he was one of the three Grand masters who bore sway at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. His importance would seem to warrant a more passing reference.

 

He was the king of a country which, although it has left us no record of its achievements, is credited with doing much towards the improvement of the art of writing  and, by some, even with the invention of the alphabet and the system of ciphers that we use today. Thanks to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, and to Herodotus, the Greek historian, we are enabled to know as much as we do.

 

The original inhabitants of Phoenicia were the Canaanites with an admixture of Amorite and Hittite, and unlike the ancient peoples were not primarily farmers but a nation of artificers, sailors and merchants. They are credited with the discovery of Polaris, the Pole Star, and are recognised as the first to chart their course by the stars. They are also credited with the invention of glass. The country was for many years under the domination of Egypt.

 

We were told in a lecture (“Hiram and His Kingdom of Tyre”) given in the Lodge of Research by Wor. Bro. McConnell, that alone of all the Tyrian Kings the name of Hiram is attached by popular tradition to a still existing monument - a great weather-beaten sarcophagus of unknown antiquity, raised aloft on three huge rocky pillars of stone, and looking down from the hills above Tyre, over the ruins of the city and harbour, and still called the “Tomb of Hiram”. Bro. Senior warden has the honour  and privilege of representing Hiram, King of Tyre.

 

The column of the Worshipful Master is the pillar of the Ionic order, a style of architecture that is 3,200 years old. It is part Egyptian and part Assyrian, and combines the strength of the Doric with the beauty of the Corinthian order. It is an emblem of wisdom and points out that the Master is to combine wisdom with strength and firmness of mind and beauty of persuasive eloquence in the government of the Lodge. This pillar represents Solomon, King of Israel, who was renowned for his wisdom.

 

The story of King Solomon begins with the story of Ruth, one of the many beautiful stories in the Sacred Volume. Because of famine in the land of Palestine, a certain man of Bethlehem, Elimelech by name, went with his wife Naomi, and their two sons to live in the land of Moab. There the two sons grew to manhood, and took  to themselves wives from among the daughters of the people of Moab. When Elimelech died, Naomi was left in the care of the two sons; but when the two sons died, Naomi decided to return to her own country. Both the daughters-in-law would have returned with her to Bethlehem, had not Naomi succeeded in persuading one of them to remain with her own Moabitish people, but the other who was called Ruth, insisted on returning with her, saying: “Your people shall be my people, and whithersoever thou goest, there I go also.” And so Ruth travelled with Naomi to Palestine.

 

Back in Bethlehem, Naomi sent Ruth to glean corn in the field of her kinsman, Boaz, as was the custom in those days. When Boaz saw Ruth gleaning in his field, he asked his men who the woman was and when told that she was the daughter-in-law of his kinswoman, Naomi, he went forth and spoke with Ruth, inviting her to glean in all his fields. He then instructed his men not to disturb Ruth, but to let fall full ears of corn, that she might go away well laden.

 

This story fills the four chapters of the Book of Ruth, but suffice it to say that Boaz fell in love with Ruth and married her. Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, and therefore the grandfather of David, making Boaz the great grandfather of David, who was, of course, a prince and ruler in Israel.

 

Although a man of war, David led a singularly blameless life till he fell in love with Bathsheba, the wive of Uriah, the Hittite, a captain in David’s army. David seduced Bathsheba, and when he found her with child he called Uriah  before him, made a full confession of his guilt, offering to marry her; but Uriah refused to divorce her. Shortly afterwards Uriah was killed in battle. David was accused by Nathan the prophet of being implicated in the death of Uriah by assigning him to a mission of danger and it is recorded that David made no attempt to deny it.

 

This and the numbering of people were David’s two sins, but they were fully atoned, for the Almighty thought fit to punish David in the same manner as was punished that other great servant of the Almighty, Moses, for his sin, by the denying of the realization of his life’s ambition. Moses, who led the Israelites out of their Egyptian bondage, and through the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, dreamed of the day when he would lead them into the promised land. Moses died knowing that the following day they would cross the border under the leadership of his successor, Joshua. David, who had devoted his whole life to the service of God, dreamed and planned of building a magnificent temple to the glory of the Lord God of Israel, but died when those plans were almost ready and arrangements completed, leaving the execution of the beloved task to his son, Solomon, who followed him into the throne of Israel.

 

Bathsheba, whom David later married, bore him that son who became the most famous and illustrious of all Kings of Israel, and who gained such fame for his wisdom that his name has been a byword for at least three thousand years.

 

As an illustration of the wisdom of Solomon, a story is told of two women, who came before him, both claiming to be the mother of the same child. After listening to their story, Solomon ordered that that the baby be cut in half with a sword, and half of the body be given to each claimant. One of the women was quite willing for this to be done, but the other became violently agitated, and falling to her knees before the King, begged and pleaded for the life of the baby, renouncing all claim to be its mother. The King smiled kindly on the wretched women, and said: “Arise, woman and take the living child and depart in peace, for you who would not have it slain, are obviously the mother.”

 

To Solomon’s lot fell the great honour of fulfilling his father’s cherished ambition, and it is upon the circumstances surrounding the erection of that magnificent temple, that our Masonic art is founded. Claims that its regal splendour and unparalleled lustre far transcend our ideas are not exaggerated, for the gold and silver alone on present day values would be worth thousands of millions of dollars.

 

Solomon wrote many of the wise sayings in the Book of Proverbs, he wrote the Song of Solomon, and the Book of Ecclesiastes, the last chapter of which is one of the gems of literature, and had he written nothing else, the philosophy of life contained in that chapter would have been enough to immortalize the name of Solomon.

 

Solomon was a wise and capable ruler, a mighty prince, whose reign was filled with prosperity and peace. The First temple at Jerusalem will always be known as King Solomon’s Temple, and the Master’s seat in the Freemasons’ Lodge will always be known as King Solomon’s Chair. May the story of King Solomon never end.

 

The master of the Freemasons’ Lodge is thereby the worthy representative of King Solomon, and as such we salute him.

 


UNDERSTANDING FREEMASONRY

BY

R. A. WELLS

 

Chapter 2.

FREEMASONRY IN PERSPECTIVE

A peculiar System of Morality

Freemasonry is so frequently quoted as ‘a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols’ but, let us now examine that statement with a view to finding out just what is meant by the phrase and how it arose.

 

‘A peculiar system of morality’ - well - word values tend to change over the years and the word ‘peculiar’ in this sense means particular or special; the morality in question has its roots in a philosophy and a code inspired by the bible as a whole.

 

In mediaeval times skilled craftsmen in various trades banded together  to protect their crafts and permitted only those who had  been trained, taught, proved, and trusted to pursue their skills. It was a means to outlaw pirates from producing inferior work and thus betray the trust of the architect, the master, or the commissioner of the work. From such early control development escalated in the 14th to the 17th centuries and there is ample evidence in both England and Scotland that such a trade control included instruction in matters beyond their crafts and skills; traces of that form of instruction can be found in modern times. As an illustration let us take the little booklet supplied on admission to the Freedom of the City of London which is entitled Good Advice to Apprentices; or The Covenants of the City Indenture (familiarly Explained and Enforced By Scripture.) from a copy dated 1863 the first two items, from eleven are ‘familiarly Explained’, are here quoted:

 

‘During which term the said Apprentice his Master faithfully shall serve’ - that is he shall be true and just to his Master in all his dealings, both in word and deed; he must not only keep his hands from picking and stealing, and his tongue from lying and slandering; he must also abstain from doing him any manner of injury, by idleness, negligence, or carelessness; by deceiving, or defaming, or any kind of evil speaking; but he must learn and labour to do him a true and real service.

 

Several biblical quotations are listed in support of those injunctions including:

Ye must be faithful in all things. (Timothy iii, 11)

In all your labours let no iniquity be found. (Hosea xii, 8)

 

and in addition to those there are quotations from Leviticus xix,11; Ephesians iv,25; Deuteronomy xxv,16; and Proverbs xii,19.

The next example is:

 

‘His secrets keep’ - that is he shall conceal the particular secrets of his art, trade, or science, without divulging or making any one privy to them to the detriment of his Master, whose interest may very much depend on a peculiar management and knowledge of his business. To behave thus is to serve faithfully; and fidelity is the glory and perfection of a servant, as his want of it is his greatest discredit and reproach.

 

Only one biblical extract is given in support of that:

 

Discover not a secret to another, lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away. (Proverbs xxv, 9, 10 )

 

That booklet perpetuates injunctions similar to those written into the Old Charges dating from the 14th century. It was from those manuscripts the Revd. James Anderson compiled the first book of  Constitutions of the Freemasons in 1723. It was officially sanctioned by the premier Grand Lodge founded in London in 1717, and became the means by which Speculative Freemasonry was to be governed.

 

Under the sub-heading ‘City Freedom’ in the Good Advice booklet the following appears:

 

Apprentices who have faithfully served their Masters can obtain the Freedom of the City, which confers many advantages, for the sum of 5s only.

 

And that is followed by a Note which states:

 

Masters should enrol their apprentices at the Chamberlain’s Office within twelve months from the date of their Indentures, it being for their mutual advantage. … Persons who give false testimony, forfeit their freedom. All who come to the Chamberlain’s Office to enrol, turn over, or make free their Apprentices, must bring the copies of their own freedom with them.

 

The Entered Apprentice was thus guided, encouraged, taught the skills of the craft, and if he faithfully served his Master for the  period of indenture, at least seven busy years, he obtained the Freedom of the City of London and by becoming a Fellow of his craft was then on his way to becoming a Master if that was his ambition. But, according to a reference quoted by Douglas Knoop in The Mason Word, his Prestonian Lecture for 1938: ‘Actually fewer than 50 per cent of the apprentices bound in London took up  their freedom.’

 

 

The earliest record among the surviving Old Charges is the oft-quoted Regius Poem, or Halliwell MS dated c. 1396. It is headed in Latin - ‘Here begin the constitutions of the art of Geometry according to Euclid’, and among the fifteen Points and the fifteen Articles, is the following, but quoted in modern English:

 

The third Point must be severely

with the ‘prentice know it well,

His master’s counsel he keep and close,

and his fellows by his good purpose;

The privities of the chamber tell he to no man,

nor in the lodge whatsoever they do;

Whatsoever thou hearest or seest them do,

tell it to no man wheresoever you go;

The counsel of the hall, and even of the bower,

keep it well to thy great honour,

Lest it would turn thyself to blame,

and bring the craft into great shame.

(From a modern transcript by Roderick H Baxter, Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1922.

British Masonic Miscellany Vol 1)

 

It is worthy of notice here that the Regius Poem ends with the expression ‘So mote it be’ and that archaic expression is still used in Freemasonry. There is no question that Freemasonry was and still is ‘ a peculiar system of morality’ that has stood the test of time. The essence of the principles then taught are still to be found in the modern Charge after Initiation, the first printing of which was by W. Smith in The Pocket Companion published in 1735 and has remained unchanged in the basic wording.

 

Veiled in Allegory

Let us turn to the expression ‘veiled in allegory’, and in that connection, note that the bible is full of accounts of incidents and stories that cannot possibly stand up to modern analysis and in consequence has provided much that has to be taken as allegory. Indeed the most effective teaching designed to capture full interest was given in parable form using an example that was common knowledge. Perhaps the clearest illustration of this is given in the Gospel According to St. Mark (chap. iv, 2-9) in the story of the sower who went forth to sow.

 

…and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth: and immediately it sprang up, because it had not depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. (but) others fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some hundred(fold).

 

 

Communicating in that manner, in whatever subject but based upon elements already known and understood by an audience, has its greatest value in that it can be esoteric and therefore selective, separating those who are ‘properly prepared’ to appreciate an inner meaning of an otherwise plebian story, but of interest to everyone. The story just quoted ends with the comment:

 

‘And he said unto them, He that hath no ears to hear, let him hear’, or in other words - he    who understands, will understand!

 

Stories from the bible have long been the subject of Mummers Plays, Miracle Plays, Morality and Passion Plays. They portrayed incidents that people learned as children and that stayed with them all their lives which were, in those days, centred almost entirely upon church or cathedral. Dressing up and acting in a fantasy world was not only an escape from reality but was also a means of demonstrating a simple faith among illiterate majority. In organised groups the craftsmen of the many trades, some of them formed into companies and Gilds, undertook the productions and the stories were shared or allocated between them. Open-air performances and processions were eagerly awaited and extremely popular with the people in general. The stories and themes ranged fro Adam and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark and the Flood, Joseph sold by his brothers into Egypt, and so on ad infinitum. The majority were hinged to the triumph of Good over Evil, and an everlasting reward in Heaven for a diligent life on earth. In an otherwise dull life of work from dawn to dusk for all people in those days, the processions on Holy Days and the performances by the Players became a bonus for the illiterate and the village green or the town square the centre of attraction. The high spirits of youth and the apprentices in particular found its common outlet, and rivalry among them was not confined to the gentle arts but often led them to indulge in another popular pastime, the inevitable ‘punch-up’ - a matter strongly discouraged for the bound apprentice!

 

In a well researched and authoritative Paper on this subject, given in his Inaugural Address as Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge (AQC. Vol. xiv, pp. 60-82) in 1900/01, Edward Conder stated:

 

We find representations of sacred drama over the whole of England, from Newcastle to Penairth in Cornwall, wherever the Craft Gilds had their centres.

 

 

 

 

He quoted from references as early as 1268 A.D. and said:

 

… according to the returns made tot he Parliament of Richard 11 in 1385 there was hardly a town in the country without one or more of the religious or secular associations, and we may accept it as certain that before the Reformation there was no Gild without its Patron Saint. By handing over to them, what was practically a monopoly the church was relieved of the expense of mounting the play yet it retained some control over the text which paraphrased the sacred writings.

 

Conder also gave lists of various towns and cities to shew the proliferation and here is a random choice as an example of that:

 

48 plays listed at York in the year 1430

25 at Chester from 1268 to 1577

42 at Coventry in 1468

30 at Wakefield in 1425

27 at Newcastle from 1285 to 1675.

 

The period that he took ranged from the 12th to the 17th centuries and in that time similar evidence was forthcoming from other places in England, from north to the south and from east to west. Various parts of London where plays are known to have been presented are also mentioned but, regretfully, no texts have survived in that connection.

 

The only subject related to building is the one entitled ‘Building of the Ark and the Flood’ at Wakefield but no entry as to who performed it; at Newcastle it was appropriated by the Shipwrights under the title ‘Noah’s Flood’; in that city it is even possible that the Master Mariners may have had something on that theme. The carpenters had the ‘Burial of Christ’ and the Masons had ‘The Corpus Christi’ Plays; but nowhere did the masons have a play linked with their craft and quite often they joined with another craft for their project. Nowhere is the building of Solomon’s Temple shewn to have been a subject among the extensive list so one might search in vain for traces of the Hiramic Legend; the Morality Plays may well have provided a pattern or a form for it when it did arise for adoption. The earliest record of it is given in the masonic exposure, Masonry Dissected, written and published by Samuel Prichard in 1730.

 

There is no mention of the building of King Solomon’s temple in the earliest manuscript, the Regius Poem of c. 1396 and it received only scant mention in the Cooke MS of c. 1410. Whilst in that one the central character is not named he is identified there as’… the kings son, of Tyre, as his (Solomon’s) master mason’.  Into the next century, the Downland MS c. 1550, the reference is :

 

The king that men called Iram . . . had a son (named) Aynon, and he was Master of Geometrie, and was chief Master of all his Masons and was Master of all his gravings and carvings, and all manner of Masonrye that belonged to the Temple.

 

In that case not only is Hiram Abif deemed to be the son of the King of Tyre, a commonly held interpretation of the name, but we find one of a large variety of spellings invented or copied phonetically for the master craftsman. But there is absolutely nothing about the Hiramic legend which surely must be treated as the most prominent allegory that was still to come into Freemasonry.

 

In 1723 the Revd. James Anderson compiled and published the first book of  Constitutions of the Freemasons in which he included a so-called history of the mason craft both operative and speculative which he gathered from the manuscript of Old Charges where legend, myth, and fairy tale often became confused with history. Whilst he gave much attention to the biblical account of the master craftsman being sent by Hiram King of Tyre to Solomon King of Israel, and to interpretation of the Hebrew construction of the words ‘Hiram’ and ‘Abif’ there was no mention of any drama involving his death which is, of course, legendary having absolutely no foundation in fact nor biblical history because it is pure fiction.

 

In Anderson’s 2nd edition, published in 1738 eight years after Prichard’s exposure, Masonry Dissected, the examination of the Hebrew construction is repeated but the subject taken a step further by the following footnote:

 

But tho’ Hiram Abif  had been a Tyrian by Blood, that derogates not from his vast capacity; for Tyrians now were the best artificers, by the encouragement of King Hiram: and those Texts testify that God had endued this Hiram Abif with Wisdom, Understanding, and mechanical Cunning to perform every Thing that Solomon required, not only in building the Temple with all its costly Magnificence, but also in founding, fashioning and framing all the holy Utensils thereof, according to Geometry, and to find out every Device that shall be put to him! And the Scripture assures us that He fully maintain’d his Character in far larger Works than those of Aholiab and Bezalleel, for which he will be honoured in the Lodges til the End of Time.

 

Anderson’s last remark there - ‘for which he will be honoured in the Lodges till the End of time’ - is probably an indication of the use of the drama, after a style of the Miracle Plays, but in this case performed under tyled conditions as they are still performed in some Jurisdictions. Regarding the completion of the Temple, Anderson wrote:

 

It was finish’d in the short space of 7 Years and 6 Months, to the Amazement of the World when the Cape-stone was celebrated by the Fraternity with great Joy. But their Joy was soon interrupted by the Sudden Death of their dear Master Hiram Abbif, whom they decently interred in the Lodge near the Temple, according to ancient Usage. After Hiram Abbif was being mourn’d for, the Tabernacle of Moses and its Holy Reliques being lodged in the Temple, Solomon in a General Assembly dedicated or consecrated it.

 

In that account the ‘sudden death’ happened after the completion of the Temple and not during its construction. In accordance with the edict - ‘. . . . he shall build an house unto my name ‘King Solomon dedicated the temple to the Holy Name, or in Hebrew terms Ha Shem. The Holy Name is allusive in that whilst both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Gen v, 22: vi, 9) there is no mention in the bible of them being given the Name. Biblical records state that the Patriarch Abraham, Hagar the mother of Ishmael, and the Patriarch Isaac ‘called upon the name of the LORD’ which tends to credit them with knowing it (Gen. Xii, 8: xii, 4: xvi, 13: xxvi, 15) but it would appear that the name granted to them was of descriptive character only and that is borne out by the statemente of Moses - ‘ I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (in Hebrew - El Shaddai), but my name JEHOVAH (in Hebrew-Jod He Vav He) was I not known to them’ (Exod. Vi, 3). The name JEHOVAH is an Anglicized manufactured word to accommodate the Hebrew characters - the Tetragrammaton - Ha Shem - and as they are consonants, the vowels known only to the priesthood and with such limited use by them, the original pronunciation has been lost.

 

The possession of the name of a person meant a close affinity or relationship with that person, but possession of the Holy Name was the highest privilege and, by masonic fable, was known by the three Grand masters. In order to avoid its full pronunciation the word was shared between them by syllables and the ‘sudden death’ of one of them brought an end to that practice; there was no question of the appointment of another to replace him and that gave rise to a substitute - or ‘the Masonic Word’. The attempt to revive or ‘raise’ Hiram Abbif in order to recover from the dead, as it were, the secret that he had in life has been submerged in a welter of interpretations that include the fable of the Noah incident mentioned in some of the Old Charges, a subject not from biblical history, the raising of the widow’s son by the action of Elijah (1 Kings xvii, 17-23) a similar raising of the son of the Shunammite woman by Elisha (2 Kings iv, 34-35) and the young man by St. Paul (Acts xx, 9-12). They are resurrection allegories, effected through divine influence, but nowadays compared with the ‘kiss of life’ action.

 

In a symbolical interpretation ‘The Name’ of ‘the Mason Word’ is ever lost whenever mankind turns away from his faith in the Almighty, in whatever form, or by whatever Name he is known. Biblical history records the conquering of Jerusalem, the destruction of Solomon’s temple, the Exile of the Jews to Babylon, and the subsequent return to Jerusalem to re-build the City and a Second Temple. That sequence provided the ‘Recovery’ theme - the completion of the Master Mason’s degree, and is a subject dealt with in the Royal Arch.

 

Illustrated by Symbols

‘Illustrated by symbols’ is the final item for this examination and here we have to distinguish between a tangible object, or symbol, upon which has been bestowed a meaning or representation completely different from its form, eg, an anchor is just an anchor  to the seafarer but symbolically it is widely taken to represent Hope; the other distinction from the tangible is the intangible and what better example of that is a handshake to represent friendship in greeting; the whole world seems to know that it is a symbolic means of recognition among Freemasons!

 

Symbols may be universal and can transcend all language, classic examples of which are road and traffic signs, but even such common signs or symbols may still be endowed by some organised groups of societies where meanings are given to such mundane objects but known only to themselves. Freemasonry abounds with such symbols through which abstract ideas may be presented; they provide the visual aid.

 

Not all that Albert G. Mackey wrote on Freemasonry is acceptable to modern masonic students, but that does not mean that all his work is dismissed. Here is what he had to say on Symbolism in his Encyclopedia, first published in 1873.

 

In Freemasonry, all the instruction in its mysteries are communicated in the form of symbols. Founded as a speculative science, on an operative art, it has taken the working-tools of the profession which it spiritulizes, the terms of architecture, the Temple of Solomon, and everything that is connected with its traditional history, and adopting them as symbols, it teaches its great moral philosophical lessons by this system of symbolism.

 

Mackey also wrote:

 

The older the religion, the more the symbolism abounds. Modern religions may display their dogmas in abstract propositions; ancient religions always conveyed them in symbols. Thus there is more symbolism in the Egyptian religion than the Jewish, more in the Jewish than the Christian, more in the Christian than the Mohammedan, and lastly more in the Roman (Catholic) than the Protestant . . . Any inquiry  into the symbolic character of Freemasonry, must be preceded by an investigation of the nature of symbolism in general, if we would properly appreciate its particular use in the organisation of the Masonic Institution.

 

It is possible that some people might argue with that, but it does provide food for thought!

 

In reply to comments on their Paper - ‘Masonic History Old and New’ given to Quatuor Coronati Lodge on 2 October 1942, (AQC Vol. 55, pp.285-323). Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones stated:

 

There is no evidence to suggest that masons themselves (i.e., operative stonemasons) moralized upon their tools. Though the Regius Poem is full of moral precepts, and the Cooke MS rather less so, in neither of these early manuscripts, nor in later versions of the MS Constitutions, those peculiarly masonic documents written about Masons for masons, is there any sort of symbolism based upon masons’ tools. Had the masons made use of such symbolism in their teachings, one would have expected some reference to it in surviving documents.

 

Another useful statement of theirs was ‘The Philosophy and symbolism of masonry are quite distinct from the history of masonry’ and that is a point of differentiation that is constantly overlooked by some freemasons and masonic writers.

 

During the long period of transition from operative to speculative masonry in the 17th and 18th centuries the scientific, Philosophical, the studious, those who made up the intelligentsia many of whom indulged in studies of alchemy, mysticism, and Kabbalistic pursuits , providing what has been termed a fringe of the craft undoubtedly left their marks in its construction. The mystical writings of such people had a strong influence and would account for the adoption of certain symbolism, traces of which, however slim are there to be found.

 

Symbols can be classified as a form of pictorial shorthand, examples of which are to be seen in stained glass windows in churches, some of which are indeed visual sermons in themselves. Emblazonment in heraldry also provide examples where a symbol in that context can mean so much in regard to family name, a line of succession, marriage, property, county, and countless other meanings so cryptically displayed. Symbols therefore can mean all things to all men but an inner meaning can be made to apply in the context in which persons have been so informed.

 

Tangible forms of freemasonry are usually explained to the membership in ceremonial or lectures, and in the case of  the Lectures which can be so informative insufficient use is made of them; there is a lack of stress placed on that area of explanation for much that is contained in the book of Working according to that used in a member’s lodge.

 

The intangible symbols are much more difficult for brethren to appreciate for they can often be bent to suit whatever interpretation that may be preferred, and an inner meaning only applies in circumstances in which one has been so informed. It may be truly said that we are given all the ingredients but the mixing is left to ourselves. Let us take the expression ‘The Mason Word’ appropriately used by Douglas Knoop as the title for his Prestonian Lecture in 1938, he commented as follows:

 

The justification for stressing the importance of the Mason Word as a factor in the development of masonic ceremonies lies in the fact that it consisted of something substantially more than a mere Word. Thus, the Rev. Robert Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, writing in 1961, says the Mason Word ‘is like Rabbinical Tradition, in a way of comment of Jachin and Boaz, the two Pillars erected at Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings, 21) with an Addition of some secret Signe delyvered from Hand to Hand, by which they know and become familiar one with the other.’

 

The preamble to The Abstract of Laws for the Society of Royal Arch Masons (as it was called when issued in 1778) was more clear in the point as it included the following:

 

. . . We also use certain signs, tokens and words; but it must be observed, that when we use that expression and say THE WORD. It is not to be understood as a watch-word only, after the manner of those annexed to the several degrees of the Craft, but also theologically, as a term, thereby to convey to the mind some idea of that great BEING who is the sole author of our existence, and to carry along with the most solemn veneration for his sacred Name and Word, as well as the most clear and perfect elucidation of his power and attributes that the human mind is capable of receiving; . . .

 

The ‘Mason Word’ is the most intangible symbol of all intangible symbols used in Freemasonry. Without some acquaintance with the Law of Moses, otherwise called the Torah, or the Pentateuch, where we became acquainted with the gradual revelation of His holy will and Word and the development which ensued from that biblical period, one cannot begin to understand what has now become so obscured.

 

It was not the intention in this short review to take individual symbols as a study, nor to develop a treatise based solely upon symbolism, such an exercise would take several volumes and would raise a proliferation of discussion or argument, sound or otherwise; each would have an interpretation of a sort, some that are held to the exclusion of all else. However, it must be stressed that the bible, the Patron Saints of the Christian church, the observances of Holy Days, all provided the very foundation for this ‘peculiar system of morality’. The system has gathered accretions from other religions, and various mystics from different backgrounds to the extent that its simple form has been swamped; it really has become ‘veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols’, some of which have failed to stay the course but nevertheless did leave a mark or trace e here and there to be re-discovered and perhaps enjoyed by the industrious student of Free and Accepted masonry in the future.

 

The state of contention between brethren regarding some matters that are dealt with in lectures or ceremonial was the subject of an appropriate comment by the author of Three Distinct Knocks, a masonic ritual exposure published in 1760. Here is what he inserted at the end of the part of the Fellow-Craft (p.45):

 

Some Masters of Lodges will argue upon the Reasons about the holy Vessels in the Temple and the Windows and Doors, the Length, Breadth and height of every Thing in the Temple, Saying, why was it so and so? One will give one Reason; and another will give another Reason, and thus they will continue for Two or Three Hours in this Part and the Master-Part; but this happens but very seldom, except an Irishman should come, who likes to here himself talk, asking, why were they round? Why were they square? Why were they hollow? Why were the Stones costly? Why were they hewn Stones and Sawn Stones, &c. some give one reason and some another; thus you see that every Man’s Reason is not alike. Therefore, if I give you my Reason, it may not be like another; but any Man that reads the foregoing and following Work, and consults the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Chapters of the first Book of Kings, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the second Book of Chronicles may reason as well as the best of them; . . .

 

If ever there was a common-sense summing up of the situation that surely must be it; getting back to basics and building from there, staying within the proper context and treating interpretation for what it is, nevertheless searching among the symbols and allegories to find the intention of the compilers, will help anyone to get Freemasonry into perspective.

 

 


UNDERSTANDING FREEMASONRY

BY

R. A. WELLS

 

Chapter 4.

UNDERSTANDING FREEMASONRY - Part 2.

 

In Part 1 of this subject it was stated that speculative freemasonry emerged as a biblical exercise and when, at the turn of the 18th century re-arrangement of ritual and procedure was undertaken, obvious Christian references were either deleted or conveniently screened.  The objective was to create a uniformity that would be acceptable to brethren of other faiths. The first step was for the “Moderns” to make such changes in their practice that were at variance with the “Antients” and that was done through the Lodge of Promulgation from 1809 to 1811. Those efforts were crowned with success when the union (of the two rival Grand Lodges) was effected in December 1813. Then followed the Lodge of Reconciliation which officially lasted from 1813 to 1816 but in 1827 a similar body was revived to deal with the Ceremonial for the Installation of Master in private lodges.

 

If is not uncommon for some brethren to think and speak of freemasonry as if it were a specific unified entity, but that was not the case then and is not so now, other than in the highest principles that are encouraged by its practice. It is a development from numerous forms, and variations continue in many jurisdictions. From the varieties of ritual and procedures that were in existence, the eventual agreed form adopted in England was still beset with quirks and idiosyncrasies that local custom had no intention of releasing; but even those practices at times suffered from the hands of “improvers” which sometimes resulted in items becoming isolated from the original context creating illogical problems for brethren who were to follow. In order to analyse modern items and to find basic reasons for their adoption it is necessary to look into the background, to return to whatever evidence may be found in manuscript material or the later published masonic exposures.

 

Just, Perfect and Regular

 

As an illustration of how easily something may change and its importance lost through carelessness, let us take the reply that is no uncommon when a Candidate is being questioned prior to being Passed to the Fellowcraft Degree:

 

Q.   Where were you made a Mason?

A.   In the body of a Lodge, just perfect and regular.

 

In that answer the essential comma between “just” and “perfect” is omitted and the masonic sense of the reply completely lost, not only for the Candidate but seemingly for his sponsors.

 

In the majority of early Catechisms, dating from the Edinburgh Register House MS in 1696, to the published ritual exposure Masonry Dissected in 1730, there is only slight variation in the description; it is either “a true and perfect lodge” or a “just and perfect lodge”; there is no mention of “regular”. But by the time we get to William Preston’s First lecture of Freemasonry published in 1775, but probably compiled earlier and rehearsed in his Grand Chapter of Harodim from 1772 onwards, we find those adjectives described in Section 1, Clause iii:

 

Where were you made a Mason?

In the body of a lodge, just, perfect, and regular.

What is a lodge of Masons?

Any number of Masons assembled for the purpose of explaining Masonry.

What makes a lodge just?

The Sacred Law unfolded. Because it is understood to contain the dictates of an unerring Being; it must therefore be considered the standard of truth and justice.

What makes it perfect?

The number seven (it then goes on to explain the liberal arts and sciences)….“three form a lodge, five hold a lodge, and seven of more make it perfect”.

What makes a lodge regular?

The Charter, Warrant and Constitution.

It is worthy of mention here that Lodge Nos 2, 4, and 12 in the English Constitution do not have warrants, all being recorded as “Time Immemorial”.

 

Irregular Steps.

 

With regard to the word “regular” - but this time applied to steps, the question is sometimes raised “Why does the Candidate have to take three awkward steps of different lengths when being guided from West to East on his first advance? But that was not always so. The earliest real evidence in that respect is to be found in an anonymous catechism published in A Mason’s Confession, that has an attributed date of 1727, and states:

 

…..three chalk-lines being drawn on the floor, about an equal distance, as at A, B, C,….says the Master, “Come forward”…so coming over the first line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at A;…Coming over the second line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at B;….Coming over the third line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at C; …so he comes over the three lines setting his feet thrice in the form of a square.

 

The diagram in that book shows the steps were equal in length.

 

In later publications floor-drawings had much more detail and showed that the first step was designed for the Entered Apprentice Candidate where he knelt on the appropriate knee and took his Obligation. The second was for the Fellowcraft ceremony and the third step for the Master Mason, with instructions regarding kneeling and Obligations.

 

Three District Knocks, published in 1760 describes what is understood to have been Antients ceremonial. After having been presented to the Junior and Senior Wardens and the Master, the Candidate is sent back to the West “to receive instructions” which are described as follows:

 

Q.  What were the instructions that were given?

A.  The Senior Warden taught me to take one Step upon the first Step of a right Angle oblong Square, with my left knee bare bent, my Body upright, my right Foot forming a Square, my naked Right hand upon the Holy Bible, with the Square and Compasses thereon, my Left hand supporting  the same; where I took that solemn Obligation or Oath of a Mason.

 

In Pritchard’s Masonry Dissected, published in 1730, we have:

 

Q.  What did the Senior Warden do with you?

A.  He presented me, and shew’d me how to walk (by three steps) to the Master.

 

That appeared before the Antients Grand Lodge was formed. We have no evidence that the three steps were irregular of different length, but the whole subject rests upon the word “regular” which is highlighted when the Candidate is conducted to the right of the Master after taking his Obligation. It is there he is shown how to take his “first regular step in freemasonry”. Under close supervision from the Junior Deacon on his approach from the West to East he was prevented from inadvertently taking the regular step which is the one he will use for the rest of his masonic career.

 

The Three Great Lights.

 

When the three great though emblematical lights if freemasonry, have been explained to the Candidate his attention is then drawn to the three lesser lights situated in the East, South and West. That distinction in lights was no always so and it is of interest to read what was published in the Dialogue between Simon, a Town Mason, & Philip, a Travelling Mason; although having an attributed date of c. 1740 it may well have been derived from an earlier source. At that juncture it has this catechism:

 

Q.  What did you see before you were made a Mason?

A.  Nothing I understood.

Q.  What did you see afterwards?

A.  Three grand Lights.

Q.  What do you call them?

A.  The Sun, the Moon, and the Master.

Q.  How do they Rule and Govern?

A.  The Sun the Day, the Moon the Night, the Master the Lodge.

Q.  Where stood the Master?

A.  In the East.

Q.  Why in the East?

A.  To await the rising of the Sun to set the Men to their Work.

Q.  Where stood the Wardens?

A.  In the West?

Q.  Why in the West?

A.  To wait the Setting of the Sun, and to discharge the Men from their Labour.

 

In that snippet there is quite an element of the operative stonemason builder’s dawn to dusk working day. The reference to the Sun and Moon may well have been inspired by the description in the Book of Genesis (chap. i, 16):

 

And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made stars also.

 

Later in that catechism in the Dialogue there is a return to the subject:

 

Q.  You said you see three great Lights, did you see no other light?

A.  Yes, one far surpassing Sun or Moon.

Q.  What was that?

A.  The Light of the Gospel.

 

In a period when Christian influence was abundant, that reference may well have meant The Gospel According to St. John. Many early manuscripts and publications have the following, or similar:

 

Q.  From whence come you?

A.  From the Holy Lodge of St. John.

 

As the Patronal Festivals of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist were strictly observed in freemasonry.

 

Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels

 

It is quite a common custom for a brother, on completing the ceremony of the Third Degree, to receive a copy of the Working that is used in his lodge, but far too few have their attention drawn to the existence of the Lectures of the Three Degrees; it is a publication that would lead to a better understanding of what is contained in the Craft ritual. The Fifth Section of the First Lecture in that book has:

 

Q.  Of what is the interior of a Freemason’s Lodge composed?

A.  Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

Q.  Name the ornaments.

A.  The Mosaic Pavement, the Blazing Star, and the Indented or Tessellated Border.

Q.  Their situation?

A.  The Mosaic Pavement is the beautiful flooring of the Lodge, the Blazing Star the glory       in the centre; and the Indented or Tessellated Border the skirtwork around the same.

 

This is what Samuel Pritchard published:

 

Q.  Have you any furniture in your Lodge?

A.  Yes.

Q.  What is it?

A.  Mosaic Pavement, Blazing Star, and Indented Tarsel.

Q.  What are they?

A.  Mosaic Pavement, the Ground Floor of the Lodge, Blazing Star the Centre, and Indented Tarsel the Border around it.

 

In a Paper given to Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1916 (AQC Vol 29, p307) on Tracing Boards, Bro. Dring wrote to Professor W. A. Craigie, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and published his reply which confirmed that the word Tarsel was actually a 15-16th century variant of Tassel.

 

Owing to the licence in spelling in the early masonic period, and the careless misuse of wording it is not difficult to see how “tessellated” became “tassellated”; yet the two are far apart, with the former, composed of tesserae “or regularly chequered” and the latter “adorned with tassels”.

 

Masonry Dissected was the basis from which translations into French were mounted, and bearing in mind the natural aptitude those brethren have for embellishment, masonic ritual exposures which were published in France, or influenced by them from the mid-18th century onwards, carried descriptions or illustrations of floor-drawing which were the result of faulty interpretations.

 

Classic examples come from La Reception Mysterieuse 1738, in which the relative portion has:

 

The pavement of the Room is decorated with Mosaic work, the comet is in the centre, & the Room is carpeted all round with a brocade of gold.

 

Pritchard’s “Blazing Star” became “the comet” and his “Border round about it” became a “brocade of gold”. In the masonic ritual exposure Le Secret des Franc Macons, 1742, all three items were changed. Pritchard’s “Mosaic Pavement” became “Mosaic Palace”. “Blazing Star” became “Star-spangled canopy”. “Indented Tarsel” became “Houpe dentellee”.

 

The late Bro. Harry Carr, in Early French Exposures (p73) interprets “Houpe” as “tuft or Tassel” and “dentellee” as “toothed or indented”. It is entirely due to faulty translations from English to French, and later from the reverse process that we see tassels on the four corners of some checkered carpets. The English ritual exposure Jachin and Boaz published in 1762 was a re-translation from French to English. In the portion after the Candidate has sealed his Obligation and been entrusted it has:

 

He is also learnt the Step, or how to advance to the Master upon the Drawing on the Floor, which in some lodges resembles the grand Building, termed a Mosaic Palace, and is described with the utmost exactness. They also draw other figures, one of which is called the Laced Tuft, and the Throne beset with stars…

 

Later in that catechism is the following:

 

Q.  Had you any covering to your Lodge?

A.  Yes, a cloudy canopy, or divers Colours, or the Clouds.

 

That item gave full influence for those brethren who decided to have ceilings of lodge rooms decorated with sky, clouds, stars and the sun and moon, to which the signs of the Zodiac were sometimes added as a border. Some attractive examples of that artistry are still seen in various Masonic Halls.

 

In an inventory, taken in 1771 by members of the Lodge of Refief (No. 42) which meets at Bury, Lancashsire, we find:

 

1 Carpet. 4 Brass letter, E. W. N. S.  A Brass Sun, Moon and a letter G, etc.  A Painted Square Pavement, and indented Tarsel.

 

There is an example of the importance given to the indented border in the Minutes of Royal Sussex Lodge which met at Worthing in February 1823:

 

Order’d that Bro. Palmer be desired to add to the form of the Lodge an Indented Border forthwith.

 

In that sense, “the Lodge” meant the floor-drawing which in that period was either painted on oilcloth, or an early Tracing Board. But, probably it was an oilcloth because two years later in the records of the same lodge is “the present of a Tracing Board” which was obtainable from masonic equipment suppliers and was then becoming a standard feature.

In two manuals, published in the U. S. A., The True Masonic Chart by Jeremy Cross (1824) and Illustrations of Masonry by Capt. William Morgan (1827), there are specific connecting of the Blazing Star with Christianity:

 

The ornaments of a Lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the indented Tessel and the Blazing Star. The Mosaic Pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon’s temple; the indented tessel that beautiful tesselated border, or skirting, which surrounds it; and the blazing star in the centre is commemorative of the Star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our savior’s nativity. The Mosaic pavement is emblematical of human life, chequered with good and evil; the beautiful border which surrounds it, those manifold blessings and comforts which surround us, and which we hope to enjoy by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence which is hieroglyphically represented by the Blazing Star in the centre.

 

Later in that section there is an explanation of the four Cardinal Virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice, but no connection made between those and the tassels at the four corners of the indented border which is so often seen.

 

The earliest evidence available that shows the Houpe Dentellee or Tasselled Cord, but not as a border, is to be found in Catechisme des Franc-Macons published in 1744. It is depicted as an ornament at the head of the “Plan of the Apprentice Fellow’s Lodge” as that illustration is called. Again we are indebted to Harry Carr who ably researched these masonic exposures and published a collection of them, translated into English with a commentary on each, under the title Early French Exposures 1737-1751 (Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1971). He drew attention (pp. 320-1) to this item which was described as the “Cordon de Veuve” or the “Widow’s Cord” explaining that it was an addition to the coat of arms on the occasion of the death of an armigerous husband and in heraldry was known by that expression. Ingenuity played its part in bringing that item to a lodge floor- drawing, or Tracing Board, presumably on the grounds that all brethren in freemasonry are brothers of Hiram Abif who was a widow’s son. Examples are still to be seen where crudely drawn tasselled cords surround drawings on lodge boards, and even on some Royal Arch banners.

 

Various designers in the late 1790’s and early 1800’s included tassels at the corners of a patterned border which surrounded the chequered pavement or carpet, as well as on Tracing Boards of that period. An early example is to be seen in John Cole’s Illustrations of Masonry published in 1801. An interesting Tracing Board was lodged in the Provincial Grand Mater’s room at Barnstaple, Devon. It has initial letters at the four corners, not tassels, P for Prudence, T for Temperance, F for Fortitude, but unfortunately the J for Juctice has hardly survived the test of time. That Tracing Board was originally with other lodge furniture in the Royal Cumberland Lodge at Bath, in Somerset,, and dates back to the late 18th century. It was sold in 1843 and how it came to Barnstaple was the subject of a Paper by Bro. Bruce Oliver printed in the Transactions of Quatuor  Coronati Lodge (AQC Vol 55, pp. 109-133).

 

At the end of the Sixth Section of the Craft Lectures there is a Charge which includes the Cardinal Virtues:

 

May Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, in conjunction with Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, distinguish Free and Accepted Masons till time shall be no more.

 

Furniture of the Lodge.

 

The Craft Lectures assert that the furniture of the lodge consists of “the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Compasses and the Square” as describes them as:

 

….the Scared Writings are to rule and govern our faith, on them we Obligate our Candidates for Freemasonry. So are the Compasses and Square, when united, to regulate our lives and actions…. The Sacred Volume is derived from God to main in general; the Compasses belong to the Grand Master in particular; and the Square to the whole Craft.

 

Q.  Why the Sacred Volume from God to man in general?

A.  Because the Almighty has been pleased to reveal more of his Divine Will in that Holy

Book than he has by any other means.

 

Whilst “the Volume of the Sacred Law” now officially describes whatever is binding on the conscience of the Candidate, according to his faith, in the early period of organised Freemasonry it was unquestionably the Bible. Evidence is to hand that from 1396 onwards it was markedly Trinitarian as will be seen from the following examples, the first from Grand Lodge MS No 1 dated 1583, (phrased in modern language):

 

The might of the father in Heaven and the wisdom of the glorious Son through the grace and goodness of the Holy Ghost, that being three persons and one God, be with us at our beginning, and give us grace so as to govern us here in living that we may come to his bliss that never shall have ending. AMEN.

 

The conclusion to that Roll has:

 

These Charges that we have now rehearsed unto you and all others that belong to Masons ye shall keep, so help you God and your hallydome, and by this book in your hands unto your power. Amen so mote it be.

 

The second example is from the William Watson MS and is dated 1687 one hundred years later. Experts have classified this as “being at least second only in importance to the celebrated Cooke MS of early fifteenth century (Old Charges of British Freemasons W. J. Hughan, London 1895) it ends with:

 

These charges that we declared and recorded unto you ye shall well and truly keep to your power, so help you God and Holidome and by ye contents of this book.

 

Those examples place beyond doubt that “this book” implied the Bible; the use of the archaic word “halidom”, however spelt, intended the obligation to be deemed a holy undertaking. But, yet another manuscript is worth quoting in this context as it supplies further detail and, as it is dated c1700, brings us near to the Premier Grand Lodge of 1717:

 

First you are to put the person who is to get the word, upon his knees; and after a great many ceremonies, to frighten him, you make him take up the Bible; and, laying his right hand upon it, you are to conjure him to Secrecy, by threatening, that, if he shall break his Oath; the Sun in the firmanent & all the Company there present, will be witness against him, which will be the occasion of his damnation.   (Chetwode Crawley MS)

 

By the time we reach the Revd James Anderson’s Constitutions of the Freemasons, published and officially adopted in 1723, when Freemasonry had opened its doors to men of other religions providing that such faith acknowledged a Supreme Being, we find under the section relating to Behaviour, sub-section 2:

 

….Therefore no private pique or quarrels must be brought within the Door or the Lodge, far less any quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Catholic Religion above mention’d; we being also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolved against all Politics, as what never yet conduc’d to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will. This charge has always been strictly enjoin’d and observ’d; but especially since the Reformation in Britain, or the Dissent Secession of these Nations from the Communion of Rome.  (1st Edn. 1723, p54).

 

But in the 2nd Edition, published in 1738 (p144), under the sub-title “Concerning God and Religion” we read:

 

…In Antient Times the Christian Masons were charged to comply with Christian Usages of each Country where they travell’d or work’d; But Masonry being found in all Nations even of divers Religions, they are now only charged to adhere to that Religion in which all men agree (leaving each Brother to his own particular Opinions) that is, to be Good Men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Names, Religions or Persuasions they may be distinguished;… thus Masonry is the Center of Union and the happy means of conciliating Persons that otherwise must have remain’d at a perpetual distance.

 

The position today is made abundantly clear and guidance is contained in the published Basic Principles of Grand Lodge Recognition in 1929:

 

That all initiates shall take their obligation on or in full view of the open Volume of the Sacred Law, by which is meant the revelation from above which is binding on the conscience of the particular individual who is being initiated.

 

Further clarification to that was agreed between the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland, and Scotland, in August 1938. It was subsequently published by each Grand Lodge as Aims and Relationships of the Craft and contained the following:

 

  1. 3.     The first condition of admission into, and membership of, the Order is a belief in the Supreme Being. This is essential and admits of no compromise.

 

  1. 4.     The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open in the Lodges. Every Candidate is required to take his Obligation on that book or on the Volume  which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it.

 

From the established practice in the English Constitution the Square and Compasses rest upon the Bible at every meeeting, but in a multi-faith membership relative Holy Writings will rest alongside each other, eg, the Bible as whole for Christians, The Torah, or Old Testament for Jews, Koran for Muslims, Bhagvada Gita for Hindus, Zend Avesta for Parsees, and so on. Under the Grand Lodge of Israel three volumes are laid alongside each other on the Pedestal thus catering for the three religions prominent in that country. The Square and Compasses are placed upon that which is to be used for an Obligation. The Grand Master is from each religion in rotation.

 

It is the custom in many lodges for the Bible to be open at a particular section, according to the ceremony to be performed, and a relative extract read out to enlighten the brethren. Such a commendable practice can only add to the solemnity of the occasion.


The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia

 

By Kent Henderson. Chapter 3.

 

3. MASONIC GOVERNMENT - LODGE AND GRAND LODGE

The Masonic Lodge and its functions.

 

The basic unit of Freemasonry is a Masonic Lodge. There were, of course, lodges before Grand Lodges, the latter being a relatively modern invention. Most Grand Lodges consist of a large number of constituent lodges. At the most recent count, the United Grand Lodge of England had more than 8,200 lodges under charter. Conversely, the smallest is the Grand Lodge of Luxembourg with just four lodges ranging under its banner. In 1986 lodges in Victoria numbered 738, New South Wales 688, Queensland 459, Western Australia 274, South Australia 197 and Tasmania 78.

 

Put in elemental terms, a lodge is the primary means for Freemasons to congregate, to make new Masons and to assimilate the teachings and principles of the Order. A lodge is presided over by a Master who is elected annually, and his two Wardens, who in most states are appointed by him. Any member, usually on progression through the junior offices of the lodge, can aspire to the Master’s chair. Generally, this progression takes seven years. On completion of his year in office, a Master simply becomes a Past Master. Lodge meetings include ritualised ceremonies known as Degrees, which are conferred on candidates at intervals. The first degree is that of Entered Apprentice, and the ceremony is known as Initiation. The second is the Fellow Craft Degree, known as Passing, while the third is called the ‘Sublime Degree’ of a Master Mason, and is known as Raising. Thus, a Mason who has experienced all three ceremonies is said to have been Initiated, Passed and Raised. It is only when he becomes a Master Mason that he is enabled, if he wishes, to take office in his lodge. When these ceremonies are not being worked, the monthly lodge meeting is likely to be given over to lectures or discussions on Masonic subjects.

 

The Grand Lodge and Its Officers

 

According to the first clause of the Victorian Grand Lodge Constitutions,

 

the Government of the Fraternity of Freemasons of Victoria is placed in the hands of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria (hereafter referred to as ‘the Grand Lodge’), which is a body composed of the Grand Master, the Grand Officers for the time being, the Past Grand Officers, the Master and Wardens of each Lodge on the register of  the Grand Lodge, and all Past Masters. All such Past Grand Officers and Past Masters must be subscribing members of a lodge on the register of the Grand Lodge.

 

The other Australian Grand Lodges are identically composed. With few exceptions, Grand Lodge Officers are chosen from amongst Masters and Past Masters although, in practice, it is unusual for a sitting Master to be appointed to an active Grand Lodge office.

 

There are two kinds of Grand Officers, active and past, although the ranks are equivalent. Most Past Masters appointed (or elected) to an active Grand Lodge Office serve only one year, although this varies from state to state and office to office - often depending on the nature of the office held and the responsibilities attached to it. No Grand Office is a sinecure. Generally, those holding more senior offices tend to serve more than one year.

 

It must be noted that the word ‘past’ in a Masonic sense does not refer to members who have deceased, but simply to those who are Past Masters or who hold Past Grand Rank. Past Grand Officers fall into two distinct groups:

  1. a.     Masons who served in active Office in the Grand Lodge, and who have completed their terms, now retain their title with the additional word ‘Past’ attached to it. For example, a Grand Standard Bearer becomes a Past Grand Standard Bearer, and a Junior Grand Warden becomes a Past Junior Grand Warden.

 

  1. b.     As it is impossible to provide active Grand Lodge appointment to all Masons who might qualify for it, it has long been the custom for the Grand Master to confer Past Grand Rank on the vast majority of Grand Officers that have received preferment. They hold Grand Rank in recognition of their general services to Freemasonry, but they have not actually served in any office within Grand Lodge .

 

Nonetheless under most Australian Grand Lodges an active Grand Officer, on completion of his term is often promoted to a higher Past Grand rank. For example, a Grand Sword Bearer, on completion of his term (and if not promoted to a higher active office) will either become a Past Grand Sword Bearer, or more likely be promoted to a higher rank, such as Past Junior Grand Deacon. It must also be noted that the holder of any Grand Rank, whether active or conferred, will outrank and take precedence over any lower rank, in all circumstances. For example, a Past Senior Grand Deacon takes higher precedence than a Grand Sword Bearer, even though the holder of the former office may never have served actively as a Grand Officer.

 

The awarding of Past Grand Rank varies between Grand Lodges. In Victoria, for example, each metropolitan Melbourne lodge can nominate one of its Past Masters for conferred Grand Rank every five years, while a country lodge enjoys the same privilege every four years.

 

Masonic Promotion

 

In each Grand Lodge there is also a system of promotion, but again methods vary widely and can be mildly complicated. Some lean towards a system based on merit, while others are based more on the effluxion of time. Overall, it can be said that the higher the Grand Rank, the fewer holders there are to it. In most Australian Grand Lodges, the rank of Past Deputy Grand Master is the highest to which one can eventually be promoted, although few reach it. Generally, those who have served actively as a Grand Officer tend to receive faster and, in the long term, higher promotion than conferred Grand Officers. It is most unusual for the rank of Past Grand Master to be conferred; this rank is almost invariably restricted to those who have actually served as Grand Master.

 

In some Grand Lodges, such as Victoria, most active Grand Offices are appointive, with the only exceptions being the Grand Treasurer and, of course, the Grand Master himself. In others, such as New South Wales and Queensland, most Grand Offices are elective - although in most states it is uncommon for there to be more than one nomination for each position. In any Grand Lodge, however, where there is to be an appointment made, it is the prerogative of the Grand Master, and this also applies to conferred Grand Rank. In practice, a Grand Master will usually rely on the advice of various committees and recommendations.

 

Masonic Precedence

 

In order to set out Grand Lodge Officers and their precedence those of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria are set out below. Their abbreviations follow in brackets.

 

  1. The Grand Master (GM)
  2. The Pro Grand Master (ProGM)
  3. Past Grand Master (PGM)
  4. Past Pro Grand Master (PProGM)
  5. Deputy Grand Master (DGM)
  6. Past Deputy Grand Master (PDGM)
  7. Senior Grand Warden (SGW)
  8. Past Senior Grand Warden (PSGW)
  9. Junior Grand Warden (JGM)

10. Past Junior Grand Warden (PJG

11. President of the Board of General Purposes (PBGP)

12. Past President of the Board of General Purposes (PPBGP)

13. President of the Board of Benevolence (PBB)

14. Past President of the Board of Benevolence (PPBB)

15. Grand Superintendent of Works (GSWks)

16. Past Grand Superintendent of Works (PGSWks)

17. Grand Secretary (GSec)W)

18. Grand Chaplain (GChap)

19. Past Grand Chaplain (PGChap)

20. Grand Treasurer (GTreas)

21. Past Grand Treasurer )PGTreas)

22. Grand Registrar (GReg)

23. Past Grand Registrar (PGReg)

24. Past Grand Secretary (PGSec)

25. Grand Inspector of Workings (GIWkgs)

26. Past Grand Inspector of Workings (PGIWkgs)

27. Grand Lecturer (GLec)

28. Past Grand Lecturer (PGLec)

29. Grand Superintendent of Liaison (GSL)

30. Past Grand Superintendent of Liaison (PGSL)

31. Grand Director of Ceremonies (GDC)

32. Past Grand Director of Ceremonies (PGDC)

33. Grand Director of Music (GDMus)

34. Past Grand Director of Music (PGDMus)

35. Assistant Grand Secretary (AGSec)

36. Past Assistant Grand Secretary (PAGSec)

37. Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works (DGSWks)

38. Past Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works (PDGSWks)

39. Deputy Grand Superintendent of Liaison (DGSL)

40. Past Deputy Grand Superintendent of Liaison (PDGSL)

41. Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies (DGDC)

42. Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies (PDGDC)

43. Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (AGDC)

44. Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC)

45. Senior Grand Deacon (SGD)

46.  Past Senior Grand Deacon (PSGD)

47. Junior Grand Deacon (JGD)

48. Past Junior Grand Deacon (PJGD)

49. Grand Sword Bearer (GSwdB)

50. Past Grand Sword Bearer (PGSwdB)

51. Grand Standard Bearer (GStdB)

52. Past Grand Standard Bearer (PGStdB)

53. Grand Organist  (GOrg)

54. Past Grand Organist (PGOrg)

55. Grand Pursuivant (GPurs)

56. Past Grand Pursuivant (PGPurs)

57. Assistant Grand Pursuivant (AGPurs)

58. Past Assistant Grand Pursuivant (PAGPurs)

59. Grand Herald (GHer)

60. Past Grand Herald (PGHer)

61. Grand Steward (GStwd)

62. Past Grand Steward (PGStwd)

63. Grand Tyler (GTyr)

64. Past Grand Tyler (PGTyr)

 

This list is the full range of Grand Lodge officers in Victoria. Each will be filled every year by an active participant. However, as a general rule, many of these offices will never be conferred or held as a Past Grand Rank. For example, the ranks of Past Grand Secretary and Past Grand Steward are never awarded. Alternatively, others are commonly conferred.

 

Interstate Variations

 

The titles of Grand Officers can vary between the Australian states, albeit only marginally. In Tasmania and South Australia, for example, the Grand Inspector of Workings is known as the Grand Inspector of Lodges (GIL). In New South Wales, the Grand Superintendent of Works is known as the Grand Architect (GArch). In some states the title of Grand Trumpeter (GTrump) is substituted for Grand Herald.

 

Similarly, for some offices there are not equivalents in every state. Not every Grand Lodge appoints a Grand lecturer (GLec), and in some the Grand Librarian is an official office. Victoria is the only state with a Grand Superintendent of Liaison, while in New South Wales and Western Australia District Grand Inspectors of Workings (DGIW) are appointed. In some Grand Lodges, an Assistant Grand Master is Appointed. This office ranks after the Deputy Grand Master and before the Senior Grand Warden.

 

 

 

The rank of Pro Grand Master requires explanation. In modern times, an appointment is made to this position only if a State Governor, or the Governor General,  is elected as Grand Master. In this event, the Pro Grand Master effectively runs the Grand Lodge, with the Governor acting more in a figurehead or ceremonial capacity. This is simply because the Governor’s vice-regal duties preclude him from organising and overseeing the day-to-day running of a Grand Lodge - which is one of the main tasks of Grand Master. Thus a Pro Grand Master is appointed to assume these responsibilities in this instance.

 

In the post-war era, it has been usual to confer the rank of Past Grand Master on those Masons who have served actively as Pro Grand Master to a Governor as, in effect, they have virtually acted as Grand Master in all but name. Historically, most Pro Grand Masters have served as Grand Master in their own right either before or after their term as a Pro Grand Master to a Governor. These are naturally included in this book.

 

Indeed, only five Pro Grand Masters to a Governor, since World War 11, have not served as Grand Master in their own right. They all held appointment during the long Grand Mastership of Governor Sir Dallas Brooks in Victoria. As is usual in Victoria following their term as Pro Grand Master each was elevated to the rank of Past Grand Master. Each, therefore is included in this book.

 

The only historical variation to the usage of Pro Grand Master Rank has been in Tasmania, where a Pro Grand Master was always appointed and, almost without exception, was subsequently elected Grand Master in his own right. This practice was discontinued in 1967 when Tasmania fell into line with the other states to appoint a Pro Grand Master when a Governor was Grand Master.

 

The conferral of the rank of Past Grand Master is very rare, and in some states it is constitutionally impossible, except to promote a serving Pro Grand Master at the end of his term. In 1987 only two Australian Masons held the rank of Past Grand Master without having served in the office of Grand Master. These are MWBro  L.G. Catt of Queensland and MWBro F.L. Hodgson of New South Wales. Biographical details of both are appropriately recorded in this book.

 

Masonic Appellations

 

The appellations used in Freemasonry require explanations. They are consistently used and applied throughout all Australian Grand Lodges.

 

Most Worshipful Brother (MWBro)

This title is borne by Grand Masters, Past Grand Masters, Pro Grand Masters, and Past Pro Grand Masters only.

 

Right Worshipful Brother (RWBro)

This title is held by Deputy Grand Masters, Past Deputy Grand Masters, Assistant Grand Masters,, Past Assistant Grand Masters, Senior Grand Wardens, Junior Grand Wardens and Past Grand Wardens only.

 

Very Worshipful Brother (VWBro)

This rank is held by every Grand Lodge Officer present or past, between the Grand Chaplain and Grand Director of Ceremonies, inclusive.

 

Worshipful Brother (WBro)

All Grand Lodge Officers (if they are Past Masters, as most are) present and past, ranking below Grand Director of Ceremonies, are simply known as Worshipful Brother, as are Masters and Past Masters of any Masonic Lodge.

 

Brother (Bro)

This title attaches to the surnames of all Freemasons who have not served in the position of Master of a lodge.


Introducing Freemasonry - M. de Pace.

 

Pages 14-19.

 

PROGRESSION

INTRODUCTION

 

The regular Officers of the Lodge are the Master, his two Wardens, a Treasurer, a Secretary, two Deacons, an Inner Guard, and a Tyler. All other Officers are additional, and Lodges may employ all or some of these according to their individual traditions.

 

For present purposes a full complement of additional Officers is assumed, and the offices of a Lodge are divided into two groups: those leading to the chair of Worshipful Master, and those usually (though not always) held by Past Masters.

 

TO THE CHAIR

The sequence of offices leading to that of Worshipful Master is usually as follows:

 

Steward

Inner Guard

Junior Deacon

Senior Deacon

Junior warden

Senior Warden

Worshipful Master

 

The Worshipful Master is elected at the Lodge meeting preceding that of Installation. The qualification for the office of Worshipful Master is one year’s service as Senior or Junior Warden. While it is customary for the Senior Warden to be elected to the chair of Master, the procedure of election ensures that it is not automatic but at the discretion of the members of the Lodge.

 

Progression is usually bases upon seniority but ultimately it rests with the Master to appoint his Officers, which he does at the Installation meeting having previously received their agreement. In Practice, commitments at work or other reasons may prevent someone from finding time to prepare for the next office. In such cases the gap may be filled by a Past Master, by moving the entire line up an extra position, or by inviting a capable brother from a lower office to jump a few offices.

 

Lodges may vary in the expectation they place upon the Master as regards the work he has to perform  at meetings, but each prospective Master needs to determine at an early date a schedule of the work to be learnt. The following gives an indication of the work a Master might be expected to perform during his year in office:

 

Appointing and Investing his Officers

Closing the Lodge

Chairing the Dinner (Festive Board)

Opening the Lodge

Initiation Ceremony

Charge to the Initiate

Passing Ceremony

Explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board

Raising Ceremony

Tradition History, Third Degree Tracing Board and Working Tools

Installing his successor

 

This list represents Emulation work. Other workings or individual Lodge traditions may dictate a different content. For example, the Explanation of the Second Degree tracing Board will rarely be found in Stability working. It is also worth bearing in mind that the sequence of work, other than that of the three degrees, will be laid out as above.

 

In the year following, as Immediate Past Master and seated to the immediate left of his successor, he will be responsible for supporting the Worshipful Master during the meeting and, if so dictated by Lodge tradition, at the dinner. Should the Master be unable to attend a meeting, the Immediate past master will take his chair at the meeting and dinner.

 

While the amount of work seems daunting, in practice it is not, for it has been masters by hundreds of thousands, each of whom began with no prior experience of committing large sections of text to memory, and most with no more than average abilities. Consider that in 1950 the number 7,000 was reached on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England and Wales, giving approximately 6,000 active Lodges. If these 6,000 Lodges were active during the thirty years up to 1980, they would have installed 180,000 Masters during that short period alone.

 

OFFICERS

 

The Officers of a Lodge, other than those leading to the Chair, and ranked in order of seniority, are:

 

Chaplain

Treasurer

Secretary

Director of Ceremonies

Charity Steward

Almoner

Assistant Director of Ceremonies

Organist

Assistant Secretary

Tyler

 

These offices are usually filled by Past Masters. The office of Organist, since it requires a special skill which may not be present among the Lodge membership, may remain vacant with its duties being carried out by a member of another Lodge. The Tyler often performs his office for a number of Lodges. In such cases, a small fee (which could include free entry to the dinner) will usually be paid for their services. Alternatively, either or both could be subscribing members of the Lodge, appointed by the Master.

 

Of the above, only the Treasurer and Tyler (the latter if not appointed) are elected by the members of the Lodge; the remainder are appointed by the Master for the year. During his brief spell as Master Elect, he will have approached his intended Officers and obtained their agreement to take or continue in office. While the appointment of these Officers is at the sole discretion of the Master, in practice he often makes no changes at all, allowing the incumbents to remain in their offices should they so desire. An incumbent may remain in office for many years because of his particular suitability to the job, or simply because no one is inclined to ask him to stand down. Most changes occur through the incumbents themselves offering to stand down in favour of those who have not held office. Consideration may, for example, be given to the prospect of Provincial honours for a younger member of the Lodge. A majority consensus of opinion may, at times, persuade Officers to ‘retire’ but there are many instances where sensitivity to the feelings of the person in question ensures that he never becomes aware of such an opinion. There are, too, occasions where a determined Master will ring in changes without waiting for volunteers. However, unless he is supported by a substantial body of opinion, and even then, it is a risky undertaking which could divide a Lodge, or worse, have as a consequence a member who feels rejected by and alienated from his Lodge.

 

The Offices

The office of Chaplain is, not surprisingly, a devotional one. He offers prayers of the Lodge but need not be a man of the cloth.

 

The Treasurer is responsible for the receipt and banking of funds, making payments, and the maintenance of a set o accounts. He also prepares an annual statement of account for auditing and circulation to the members of the Lodge, and provides the financial control over the Lodge income and expenditure.

 

The Secretary keeps the Lodge minutes and is responsible for the general paperwork including the issue of summonses, the annual returns to Grand Lodge, Liaison with Provincial Grand Lodge, dealings with other Lodges, and communications from and to members. He is expected to have a sound knowledge of the regulations of the Craft, and may well be consulted by the Master on points of procedure.

The Director of Ceremonies is responsible for the smooth running of the meeting. He should ensure that all articles necessary for the meeting are laid out correctly, arrange processions into and from the Lodge, receive important visitors and attend to matters of protocol such as salutes to Grand Officers.

 

The Charity Steward is basically a fund-raiser. He collects donations, explains the advantages of covenants, and disseminates information about the various Charities and their work to ensure that all members appreciate the use to which their donations are put, and to encourage them to be as generous as their personal circumstances permit.

 

The Almoner keeps in touch with members and their families at times of illness or in old age. Lodge funds may be allocated for use by the Almoner for specific purposes such as the distribution of Christmas cards and gifts to widows. Each Almoner has his own methods, but typically an Almoner would arrange visits to those in hospital, organise practical help for members when they or their families are in difficulties, or simply visit members who find themselves unable to attend meetings.

 

The other offices, except for that of Tyler which is discussed elsewhere, need no further elaboration.

 


Prosper The Art, by John Sullivan. Chapter 22.

 

THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF VICTORIA

ORGANISATION AND ADMINISTRATION

 


The government of the masonic fraternity in Victoria resides in the hands of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria, or, as it is generally called, “The United Grand Lodge of Victoria”. The Grand Lodge is the supreme superintending authority and alone has the inherent power of enacting laws, rules and regulations for the government of the Victorian Craft. The laws of the Craft are as contained in the Book of Constitutions as amended from time to time.

 

Grand Lodge consists of the Grand Master, currently appointed Grand Officers, Past Grand Officers, the Masters and Wardens of each registered lodge and all past masters. The Grand Master is elected annually. Four meetings of Grand Lodge are held each year at quarterly intervals. The annual Grand Installation takes place in March.

 

In relation to the currently-appointed Grand Officers, these comprise the following -

Deputy Grand master

Grand Wardens (2)

Grand Chaplains (2)

Grand Treasurer (elected)

Grand Registrar

President of the Board of General Purposes

President of the Board of Benevolence

Grand Superintendent of Works

Grand Inspector of Works

Grand Lecturer

Grand Superintendent of Liaison

Grand Director of Ceremonies ( together with an Assistant and a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies)

Grand Deacons (6 or more)

Grand Sword Bearers (2 or more)

Grand Standard Bearers (2 or more)

Grand Director of Music

Grand Organist

Grand Pursuivant (together with one or more Assistant Grand Pursuivants)

Grand Heralds

Grand Stewards (12) (Eight of the appointments come from metropolitan lodges and the remaining four from country lodges)

 

Every Grand Officer with the exception  of the Grand Director of Music, the Grand Organist and Grand Heralds, must be a Master or a past master of a lodge.

 

There is a Grand Lodge secretariat located at the Masonic Centre, headed by a Grand Secretary who is responsible for the day to day administration of the Craft. Both the Grand Secretary and an appointed Assistant Grand Secretary have continuing functions. The secretariat presently comprises a total of 19 full-time, permanent staff. Some assistance in the clerical area is provided from time to time by a number of brethren of the Craft on a voluntary basis. In addition to secretarial staff, there are four maintenance personnel employed at the Masonic Centre with a further 12 staff engaged full-time in the catering function. Also, there is a casual staff of up to 60, comprising waitresses and stewards employed to assist with the servicing of a wide variety of functions in the Dallas Brooks Hall and adjoining rooms.

 

Grand Lodge operates through a network of voluntary boards and committees. The Board of General Purposes is the top administrative body within the order and consists of the following officers and brethren -

 

Grand Master

Deputy Grand Master

Grand Wardens (2)

Grand Treasurer

Grand Registrar

President of the Board of Benevolence

Grand Secretary

President of the Board of General Purposes

Immediate Past President of the Board of General Purposes

Elected and appointed Members (20)

 

Of the 20 members, 12 (six representing metropolitan lodges and six representing country lodges) are elected by ballot by members of Grand Lodge for a period of four years.  The remaining  eight (four metropolitan  and four country) are appointed annually by the Grand Master. Membership of the Board is on a staggered basis so that half the number of elected members, ie., three metropolitan and three country members, retire every two years.

 

The Board of General Purposes has the authority to appoint committees to assist it in its work. At present, the following committees function:


 

Amalgamations

Development

Editorial

Electronic Data Processing

Finance

General

Insurance

Judicial

Library

Lodge

Masonic Buildings

Masonic Centre Management

New Projects

Open Nights

Organists’

Regalia

Freemasons’ Scholarships

Special

Staff Provident Fund

Staff Salaries

Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, Property Development


 

There are three other committees which are appointed by the Grand Master, as follows:

 

Concert

Grand Committee of Enquiry

Ritual and Ceremonial

 

Grand Lodge has, for many years, had a benevolent fund which is administered and distributed by the Board of Benevolence, This Board  comprises:

 

President

One member appoint by Grand Master

Grand Treasurer

Grand Secretary

Assistant Grand Secretary

Elected Members (12)

Masters of all constituent lodges (ex officio)

 

Of the 12 elected members, all of whom must be past masters, eight represent metropolitan lodges and the remaining four represent country lodges. All 12 are elected for four years with half the number (four metropolitan and two country) retiring every two years in a staggered manner as obtains for the Board of General Purposes.

 

Brethren will be interested to know that during the two-year period from March 1982 to March 1984, the Board approved loans to the value of $234,890 and grants for $122,284.

 


THE MASTER OF THE LODGE.

From: Freemasons Guide and Compendium. Bernard E. Jones. Pages 361 - 364.

 

(NOTE: The facts noted below apply to English lodges, and a not all are applicable to masonic practice in Victoria).

 

The early speculative lodges enjoyed great independence, much of which they have bequeathed to the lodges of today. In addition to electing its own Master, each lodge regulates its own proceedings, and has an undoubted right to do so providing it acts consistently with the general laws and regulations of the Craft. It frames its own bylaws (they need the approval of the Grand Master), appoints standing committees and audit committees to assist the Master in ordering the business of the lodge, but in a number of matters - all making for uniformity and for the prevention of irregularities - observes certain regulations of Grand Lodge. Such regulations include the limitation of the number of candidates on any one occasion, except by dispensation; the holding of only one meeting of the lodge on any one day; the holding of an emergency meeting only when a dispensation has been granted; the necessity of each lodge keeping a minute book; etc.

 

The custom in every lodge of electing by ballot a new Master each year is of time-immemorial, although there is evidence to show that in many eighteenth-century lodges Masters were elected to serve for six instead of twelve months. The Master is elected from those members of the lodge who have served the office of Master or Warden, or who, in very exceptional cases, have been rendered eligible by dispensation. The Old MS. Charges appear to indicate that the Master, many centuries ago, was simply an experienced craftsman presiding over the lodge, and, so far as we can see, the idea of his ruling his lodge by virtue of his possession of peculiar secrets was not within the comprehension of our ancient brethren; but in this matter there is room for many different opinions. The same appears to apply to the old Scottish lodges. Today, in the speculative lodges throughout the world, the Master is one who has been elected to the office by his brethren, and who has passed through a special ceremony of Installation, in the course of which secrets peculiar to the Master’s chair have been communicated to him; but essentially the Master must always be a Brother who is well qualified by years of service as a member and officer of the lodge to govern his Brethren with wise understanding.

 

The rule that the Master should first have served as a Warden is also an old one. It was not always observed in the early speculative lodges, but it goes right back into the history of the craft guilds from which masonry draws its system of government by Masters and Wardens. Every Master in the old days, as in the new, solemnly pledged himself to observe the ancient usages and established customs, and strictly to enforce them within his lodge. It is he who is responsible for the due observance of the masonic laws by the lodge over which he presides.

 

We pay respect to the ruler of the lodge by addressing him as “Worshipful Master”. On an earlier page it was pointed out that to be “worshipful” is to be “honoured”. Thus the “Worshipful” Master is the “Honoured” Master, even as the magistrate is “Your Worship”, or, in other words, “Your Honour”. In a great many lodges in the eighteenth-century the Master was “Right Worshipful”, a form of address now the exclusive privilege of certain Grand Officers. The custom of calling the Master “Right Worshipful Master” ceased about the time of the union is 1813, although we find it used in a Kendal Lodge up to 1819. Outside freemasonry the use of the term “Right Worshipful” must be of ancient standing, for in Pepy’s Diary for August 4, 1661, a clergyman addresses his congregation as “Right Worshipful and Dearly Beloved.” The celebrated Paul Revere, presiding as Grand Master at a Washington lodge, Massachusetts, at the end of the eighteenth century, addressed himself to the “Right Worshipful Master, Worshipful Wardens and Respected Brethren.” In La Cesaree Lodge, New Jersey, the Master was at one time addressed as “Venerable Master”, following an old French custom, which is still observed.

 

Grand Masters have always had the right of visiting a lodge within their jurisdiction, and, if they so wished, of presiding on the occasion of their visit. This right is enjoyed by the Pro Grand Master as well as the Deputy and Assistant Grand Master and by the Provincial and District Grand Master. With a brother of such exalted rank in the chair, the Master of the lodge sits to his immediate left, whereas when, as is sometimes the case, the Master of the lodge gives up his chair to a Past Master to work a ceremony, he sits on that Past Master’s immediate right, or, it may be, to the right of any Grand Officer having a prior right to preside.

 

 

Scots lodges have a Depute Master, but the English Master nowadays has no deputy known by that name, although some of the eighteenth-century lodges had regular Deputy Masters, the first mention of the office being thought to occur in the minutes of the Druidical Lodge of Rotherham, Yorkshire, in the year 1779, a lodge under the York Grand Lodge. Of course, in a sense, the Senior Warden, and failing him, the Junior Warden is the Deputy Master, but neither of these brethren, if not an Installed Master, can confer a degree in an English lodge, although (remaining in his own chair) he may preside over the lodge should the need arise. In the Master’s absence a degree can be conferred on a Candidate only by an Installed Master, whether a member of the lodge or not.

 

The Master is assisted in carrying on the work of the lodge by his officers, two of whom - the Treasurer and the Tyler - are elected, the former by ballot; all other officers being appointed by the Master. In an English lodge his regular officers are two Wardens, a Treasurer, a Secretary, two Deacons, an Inner Guard and a Tyler; additional officers are a Chaplain, a Director of Ceremonies and his assistant, an Almoner, an Organist, and Assistant Secretary and Stewards, but no others. A Brother can hold only one regular office at one and the same time, but may in addition be appointed by the Master to one “additional” office. On members declining office - including Masters-elect - many old lodges imposed fines graduated in amount to the importance of the office.

 

The precise position of the Immediate Past Master, who is not an “officer of the lodge”, is often a matter for debate. Grand Lodge prescribes that, as regards precedence, the Immediate Past Master comes immediately in front of the Chaplain, or, if there be no Chaplain, then immediately in front of the Treasurer; whereas, by decision of the Board of General Purposes, the name of the Immediate Past Master in a printed list comes immediately after that of the Master and before his officers. The appointment of a lodge Chaplain in 1769 is known, but it could hardly have been the first of its kind.

 

With regard to the Almoner, the alms-crest was a box provided in church to receive contributions; in a masonic lodge it is the charity box which provides the funds with which the lodge Almoner relieves any Brother, sometimes members of a Brother’s family, who need help. Originally the Almoner was an officer in a monastery.  At St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London, he distributed the alms, had the care of the burial of the poor, and educated boys in music and literature for the service of the Church. The Almonries in the principal monasteries were often great establishments, with accommodation for the poor and infirm.

 

Many old guilds regularly relieved distressed Brethren and their families, and there are records in the fourteenth century of an amount of sevenpence per week (say, two or three days wages) being allowed a member of the Lincoln Guild of Tailors. In the same century a London trade, the Skinners, also paid that sum from their alms-box to any member who should fall into poverty though old age or ill health. There is no doubt that the lodge charity box, probably suggested by the alms-box of the guilds, was known far back in the eighteenth century. In a Sheffield lodge much earlier, there was a rule that:

 

on each Stated Lodge meeting every Memr shall spend and put sixpence into the Chest for the relief if distressed Freemasons, That the Junior Warden shall keep an exact acct of the reckoning…upon his negligence or omission he shall be accountable for the deficiency.

 

The early lodges of the eighteenth century had there own methods of raining charity funds, for we find the Old King’s Alms Lodge, No.28, ordering in October 1733, a ticket to be bought in “the present lottery in hopes of success as heretofore for the sake of charity.” In the following July the ticket “was reported to have come up a blank”.

 

Lodge Minutes.

 

The minutes of the lodge are the responsibility of the Worshipful Master and his Secretary, but it is the latter’s duty to write them. They need to be submitted for confirmation at the next regular meeting, and it is now fully understood that minutes can be refused confirmation only on the ground that they are incorrect, in which case they should be amended and afterwards confirmed. It is not now possible for something decided at one meeting to be cancelled at the next merely by refused to confirm the minute. There are other ways of overcoming any difficulty that may sometimes unfortunately arise.

 

There was a custom once upon a time, particularly in the Irish military lodges, of smoke-sealing instead of signing minutes on confirmation, the seal being made by coating a space with soot in a candle flame and then forcibly applying an engraved seal. The Irish Grand Lodge has from ancient days insisted that every lodge should have a seal, with which to verify lodge minutes and authenticate lodge communications to Grand Lodge. The actual device of the seal is a “hand and trowel”, together with the number, name, and town of the lodge. The United Grand Lodge of England decided in 1819 that every lodge should have its own seal “to be affixed to all documents proper to be issued,” but the rule has long been obsolete.

 

That old lodge minutes are frequently brimming over with unconscious humour is well exemplified by many quotations made in these pages. Secretaries in concluding their minutes are fond of the phrase, “the lodge was closed in perfect harmony” - just a formula, but expressing the literal truth in all but one case in a thousand. But what is to be made of the minutes of a meeting of the lodge belonging to a certain regiment of Light Dragoons? It was soon after the 1800. The meeting expelled a member for making an obnoxious threat, decided that another Brother was an improper person for admittance, erased the name of another Brother for using an unmasonic expression, and the Secretary still found it possible to bring his minutes to an end with “this night concluded with great harmony.” One old London lodge in 1787 “was not open’d  upon the occasion of the Landlady being sick”, while another, in 1794, gave a Brother his certificate but did not transact any other business “by reason of the Landlady being in child-bed”.

 

Behaviour in and after Lodge.

 

The Ancient Charges which preface the General Laws and Regulations of Grand Lodge enjoin a code of behaviour upon lodges and Brethren. These charges are founded upon ancient models, and have remained much the same since Anderson took them from the old manuscripts and printed them in his Constitutions of 1723. Some of the injunctions hardly now apply. These are polite days, but as much can hardly be said for the eighteenth century, when it was entirely necessary to remind both lodges and Brethren of the limits to which good behaviour could go. Thus, in an old Sheffield lodge of the 1760’s there was the following rule:

 

If any Bror in this Lodge Curse, Swear, lay or offer to lay any wagers or use any reproachful Language in Derogation of God’s Name or Corruption of good manners or interrupt and officer while speaking, he shall be fined at the discretion of the Lodge.

 

Such rules were common in lodge bylaws of that day. We find a perfect phrase in another bylaw of about the same time:

 

If any member of the lodge come disguis’d in liquor he shall be admonish’d (by the presiding officer) for the first offense. For the second he shall forfeit One Shilling and for the third )or refusing to pay the fine) He shall be Excluded without any benefit from the Lodge; and reported to the Grand.

 

Of earlier date, about 1746, is a bylaw of the well-known Lodge No. 41, of Bath, in which an ugly word instead of “disguised” is used:

 

If a Brother be found Distemper’d with Drink, He shall be Admonish’d to go peacefully Home; which, if he refuses, he shall be turn’d out and taken Care of with as little Disturbance as possible, and fined Two Shillings, except the Lodge vote him excus’d from his ffine.

 

 

Erasure of a Lodge.

 

A lodge under the English jurisdiction ceases to meet should its membership drop to less than five, and the rule to this effect is more than two centuries old. A lodge failing to meet for one year is liable to be erased. Its warrant cannot be transferred.

 

Lodges of Instruction and Improvement.

 

What are known as “lodges of instruction” are held under the sanction of regular warranted lodges, or by the licence of the Grand Master. The lodge that gives its sanction, or the Brother to whom the licence is granted, is responsible for seeing that the proceedings are in accordance with the Ancient Charges, Landmarks, and Regulations of the Order. Each lodge of instruction makes an annual return to the Grand Secretary. Very frequently such lodges are nothing more than rehearsal lodges, serving an excellent and, indeed, useful purpose, but missing the opportunity of providing instruction for their members in such matters as those set forth in the pages of this book. Indeed, it is hoped that lodges of instruction will find this book of help to them in assisting their members to make that daily advancement in masonic knowledge so seriously enjoined by the Master on every initiate.

 

 

WARDENS

From: Freemasons Guide and Compendium. Bernard E. Jones. Pages 375 - 378.

 

We learn much of the purpose and duty of the Warden when we go back to the curious history of his designation. Some hundreds of years ago, as Canon J. W. Horsley reminds us, R. Verstegan noted in a work on history and antiquities two words which looked so different and yet actually were one and the same - “warden” and “guardian”. Writing in 1605, he speaks of the French, Italians, and others whose language had come from the Latin, turning the “w” of such words as “warden” into a single “u,”  because their alphabet hath no acquaintance with the w at all, but then t mend the matter….they use before the u to put a g, and so of warden or wardian doe make guardian, and of ward, guard….. Hence it ariseth that we call him that waiteth at the Towre, “one of the ward”, or a “warder”, and he that in like livery wayteth at the Court, “one of the Guard” or “Gard”.

 

Thus the old writer explains that Wardian, Warden, and Guardian are all one, “a keeper or attender to the safety or conservation of that which he hath charge.”

 

Thus, in the Fabric Rolls of York Cathedral in 1422, John Lang is named as the Master Mason, and William Waddeswyk as the Gruardian or second Master Mason. In the building of the Great Hall of Hampton Court in 1531 John Molton the Master Mason was paid a shilling a day, William Reynolds the warden five shillings a week. The employment of a Warden under the Master or Master Mason was thus a common practice in the English medieval building trade, but the Warden has not always been second-in-charge. In some lodges and associations the Warden was the principal officer.

 

The old guilds had and have their wardens, and it is from the guild custom that English freemasonry probably derived the office and the word. The old English guilds had their wardens of the craft and their wardens of the mystery, and it is likely that the Scots borrowed the word hundreds of years ago to apply to the chief officer of an operative lodge. The Schaw Statutes of 1599 direct that a Warden should be chosen annually to have charge over the lodge. But this, apparently, was in some slight conflict with the custom of certain of the lodges, in which the chief officer was the Deacon (a word spelt in a variety of ways). The Deacon was the actual president, and might have with him a Warden who would be more a Treasurer, or Box-master, than a ruler.

 

In some Scots lodges we must assume that the two offices merged into one. The operative lodge of Mary’s Chapel, Edinburgh, was under the presidency at one time of a Deacon of the Masons and a Warden of the Lodge, and in other Scots lodges the Deacon was often senior to the Warden; in some, there was a Deacon but no Warden, and occasionally a Warden but no Deacon.  This would relate to a period roughly the second half of the seventeenth century, in which their were other Scots lodges ruled by “the Master Mason” whose deputy was the Warden. Scots operative lodges had but one Warden, and he was either head of the lodge or the second officer. But the English guilds had Senior and Junior Wardens, or Upper and Lower Wardens, and it is from them directly, and not from Scots practice, that freemasonry appears to have derived its two Wardens.

 

It will be noted that one fact comes out very prominently - the close relation, and at times almost an identity between Warden and Deacon in Scots operative lodges. In English speculative masonry, the Warden came from the English guilds, as already pointed out, but the Deacon came into the English Craft from Scots practice, and he came as a close colleague of and assistant to the Warden.

 

There were Wardens in English speculative masonry in the seventeenth century, or so the evidence points. In the speculative lodges early in the following century each of the two Wardens had a tall, distinctive pillar standing on the lodge floor, and great was the argument throughout the century as to the position of the Wardens and their respective pillars. We hear nothing of this argument today, because the pillar has long ceased to be an obvious pillar as already explained.

 

The Warden’s pedestal was not an essential part of lodge furniture in the days when the tall pillars stood on the floor, there being much diversity in the arrangements observed by various lodges, and no general agreement as to the use of pedestals, until the coming of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. Neither the Master nor Wardens had a pedestal in the very early lodges, but their was a central altar, as there still is in the systems that learned their freemasonry from the English Craft early in the eighteenth century. The matter is dealt with at greater length in the chapter relating to the form of the lodge, of which again there must have been great diversity of practice right throughout the eighteenth century, and with it, quite unavoidably, some diversity in the positions of Wardens and their pillars. (In lodges in Denmark we find in the north-east and in the south-west a tall pillar, behind which sits the Warden almost out of sight of the Master.)

 

In the rectangular lodges the arrangement with which we are now familiar gradually became general - that is, with a Senior Warden in the west and a Junior Warden in the south, the pillars being replaced by the small columns on the Warden’s pedestals, although some old lodges continued and still continue to have tall pillars on the floor, in some cases one near the Master and one near each Warden.

 

Although the old pillars have been spoken of as having been replaced by the miniature columns, we must not overlook the fact that floor pillars remain in a great many lodges in which their presence is not even noticed or suspected. They are the floor candlesticks (one to the right of each of the three pedestals), which will often be found to be carved in representation of the three classic orders of architecture, and may be assumed to be a modification of the older and larger pillars which frequently carried candles.

 

The Master’s gavel, or maul, and the Warden’s gavels are as traditional as the pillars. In some of the Irish lodges had their hammers and the Wardens had truncheons, for a bylaw of a lodge at Tanderagee (1759 - 1813) declares “that there is to be silence at the first clap (blow) of the Master’s hammer, and Likeways at the first stroke of each Trenchen struck by the Senr and Junr Wardens.”

 

The custom now followed in most English lodges of the Master when opening  and closing a lodge addressing all his questions to the two Wardens is an incomplete survival from the early days, when the Master put a question personally to each officer, and obtained from each of them an acknowledgement of his place and duties. A few lodges nowadays maintain or have returned to the old custom.

 

There was a time in the eighteenth century when the Junior Warden himself proved the tyling of the lodge and admitted the Candidate, but only in lodges - those of the “Moderns” - in which the office of Deacon was not yet known.

 

The custom by which each Warden serves a full year before he is qualified for the chair of the lodge is of old standing, although officially it may not go back earlier than 1811.

 

As late as 1862 it was possible in many lodges for a Warden to work the ceremonies in the absence of the Master, and we imagine in a few lodges even later. A case is on the record in which a Brother was passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft by the Master Elect, who stood on the left of the Master’s chair, and was not himself admitted an Installed Master until the following day. Today, that would be impossible. In English lodges, should the Master be absent, a Past Master may go into the chair and work the ceremonies; failing which, a Senior Warden, in his absence, the Junior Warden, shall rule the lodge, but shall not occupy the Master’s chair and shall not confer degrees. There is nothing, however, to prevent a visiting Installed Master being invited to occupy the Master’s chair and work any ceremony.

 

The Junior Warden, on being invested, is informed in some workings that he is “the ostensible steward of the lodge” - that is, he is the officer who is the apparent, but not necessarily the real, steward of the lodge. The words quoted are now more or less an anachronism, inasmuch as in most lodges the stewards in the old sense, both real and ostensible, are the Treasurer and the Secretary, and on occasion, perhaps, some other especially qualified, but the Warden was the actual steward of the lodge at one time. In 1807, for example, one lodge in arranging to dine on St. John’s Day says “that the Wardens shall be appointed Stewards to transact all matters relating to the Feast”.

 


MASONIC WORLD GUIDE

(Lewis Masonic, London. 1984) - Kent Henderson. Pages 6-14

 

The History and Limitations of Masonic Travel

 

The habit of freemasons to travel and to visit other lodges, or even affiliate with them, is one of the oldest and most widely practiced customs of the Craft. In operative times, well before the emergence of the Speculative Craft as we now know it, masons were itinerant workers who were forced to travel to renew their employment as each building project was completed. This fluid nature of the Operative Craft led to the formation of trade societies, known as lodges, to protect the professional integrity of their occupation, and to enhance the moral and social practices of their members. It is surmised, not without some evidence, that the modes of recognition were originated in the operative period as a means of identifying the genuinely skilled mason who came to visit a lodge in search of work.

 

It is therefore reasonable to deduce that the tendency of masons to visit other lodges is very old custom indeed. Many of the oldest extant masonic manuscripts contain charges associated with visiting, and the reception of visitors.

 

Visiting as a Right

 

As has just been outlined, the right to visit and sit in every regular lodge is one of the oldest masonic customs. This custom hinged on the theory that all lodges are only divisions of the 'Universal Brotherhood'. Indeed, in some areas of old, visitors could even vote at lodge meetings.

 

However, the growth and spread of the Craft saw many variations in forms and procedures develop, and the evolution of the Grand Lodge system as we know it today. In turn, this necessitated that the concept of visiting as a right undergo changes. The movement towards qualification of the right to visit appears to have begun in the early eighteenth century. There are records of lodges in this period setting out limitations to visiting, in terms of the number of visits a non-member mason could make to a lodge in a twelve month period; and limiting the types of meeting a visitor could attend. Certainly, by the end of the eighteenth century, visiting had ceased to be a right, but rather a privilege.

 

Visiting as a Privilege

 

The situation today is that visiting is a privilege-indeed, it is one of the greatest privileges of masonic membership. It must be immediately stated that a mason has no absolute, prescriptive right to visit a lodge wherein he is not a member. However, with that fact clearly stated, it must be observed that visiting as a privilege is most definitely encouraged and welcomed in every regular jurisdiction. A regular freemason in good standing will always encounter masonic hospitality and brotherhood in his travels.

 

The Limitations on Visiting Today

 

There are four basic limitations on visiting in the masonic world today. The first two, as listed below with explanations, are common to every regular jurisdiction; while the last two are less prevalent.

 

They are:

 

1. The Recognition of' Regularity. This is a limitation on visiting whereby the only people a lodge may receive are those who are members of another lodge whose Grand Lodge is recognised by its own. This whole question is detailed at length in a later chapter.

 

2. The Master's Prerogative. It is, by custom and often by Grand Lodge statute, the prerogative of the Master of a lodge to refuse to admit any visitor if he is not satisfied that he is a regular mason of good standing; or he feels that such a proposed visitor will disturb the harmony of his lodge. The former power is only occasionally used as a matter of necessity; the latter very rarely. Nevertheless, the prerogative power of the Master of a lodge is wide.

 

3. Business Meetings. Under some forms of masonic practice, business meetings are held separately to meetings held for degree conferment, and where this is the case, visitors are often excluded from the former, but never the latter. Similarly, in some jurisdictions where ordinary lodge business and degree conferment are held in the space of a since meeting, visitors are sometimes not admitted until after the lodge has completed the business part of its activities.

 

4.  Visiting by Invitation. In some jurisdictions, notably England, it is largely usual for visitors to receive an invitation from a lodge member. In other areas, while such a restriction does not exist with respect to ordinary meetings, it does apply to Installation Meetings. These practices are not adhered to without reasons, and they will be examined when we come to discuss those jurisdictions concerned later in this guide.

 

The Procedures of Visiting

 

There are ten steps, or procedures, involved in successful masonic visiting-most of which are sequential. They move from obtaining the appropriate documentation, to the actual sitting of a visitor in a strange lodge. These steps must be followed before a visitor can be admitted into a lodge wherein he is not known, and their whole purpose is to establish the bone fides of a true and lawful brother.

 

Step One: Advise your own Lodge Secretary

 

The first step is to inform your own lodge secretary of your desire to visit outside your own jurisdiction, and to provide him with details of your travels. He will liaise with your Grand Lodge office to procure all the necessary documents, and obtain advice.

 

Step Two: The Procuration of Masonic Documentation

 

To establish himself as a true and lawful brother to the satisfaction of his hosts, the visiting mason must first produce the appropriate documents which will attest to his regularity as a freemason. The following documents should be carried by a mason seeking admittance into any regular lodge wherein he is not personally known:

 

A Grand Lodge Certificate, or Diploma: Every Grand Lodge issues this, or similarly named, documentation. It is a credential provided to the Master Mason to prove in writing that he is a regular mason. It invariably contains the dates appropriate to his admission into the Craft, the signature of his Grand Secretary, the Grand Lodge Seal, and his signature.

 

A Receipt of Dues: It is not enough for a visiting mason to produce his Grand Lodge Certificate when seeking admission to a strange lodge. While his Certificate provides proof that the person named on it is a freemason, it does not prove that he is a current financial member of a regular lodge. To be a mason in good standing is the usual masonic terminology describing a financial member. Some jurisdictions provide their financial members with a receipt of dues as a right, while others provide it only on request.

 

The Dues Card: The Dues Card is a form of receipt of dues provided by lodges under a number of jurisdictions, notably in North America. This is considered in these jurisdictions as the most important masonic 'Passport'. Indeed, in the United States, lodges have little interest in sighting a Grand Lodge Certificate, but no visitor will enter their Temples without first producing a Dues Card or satisfactory equivalent. In lieu of a Dues Card or other direct form of receipt of dues, a recent lodge summons (notice of meeting), or letter of introduction may suffice.

 

In addition to the largely compulsory documents just detailed, it is recommended that a visitor also carry, and if necessary present, the following additional documents:

 

A Letter of Introduction: Many Grand Lodges provide a letter of introduction to intending visitors through their Grand Lodge office. Such letters carry the Grand Secretary's recommendation, and all the masonic details of its bearer. It can usually be used as a substitute for a 'receipt of dues' if personally carried. Some Grand Secretaries will forward a visitor's 'letter of introduction direct to Grand Lodge under which he proposes to visit, thus giving its Grand Secretary pre-warning of the visitor's imminent presence.

 

A Passport: All foreign travellers carry a passport, and while it is rarely called upon for masonic purposes, it has the effect of attesting to its bearer's actual identity.

 

There are other masonic documents issued by some Grand Lodges. Many provide a Past Master's Certificate to appropriately qualified masons. Past Masters are advised to carry this document, or similar documentation, especially if they wish to witness an Installation Ceremony in full, in those jurisdictions wherein only Installed Masters may witness certain parts of it.

 

Visitors who are not yet Master Masons (ie: they are Entered Apprentices, or Fellow Crafts) will not yet have received, nor be entitled to receive, their Grand Lodge Certificate. However, they can usually obtain appropriate documentation from their Grand Secretary's office prior to departure from their own jurisdiction.

 

It is as well to mention that masons in this category may not be able to visit in some jurisdictions. English-speaking and Continental freemasonry, in particular, usually restrict visiting between themselves to holders of the Master Mason Degree. Jurisdictions working a Webb-form ritual have a similar restriction. Even in those jurisdictions where such a mason may be permitted to visit, limitations often apply. Such a mason is strongly advised to consult with his own Grand Lodge office prior to departure. It may even be possible for him to receive the degrees that he is yet to obtain by courtesy in another jurisdiction. The matter of courtesy degrees is dealt with later in this section.

 

Step Three: Check for Regularity

 

It is essential that each mason check that regular freemasonry exists in the area he proposes to visit. A chapter explaining regularity and its importance follows shortly. At the rear of this guide is to be found a list of Grand Lodge recognition. Given the parameters explained at that point, these lists may be used to determine whether or not the jurisdiction that is proposed to be visited is recognised by your own Grand Lodge. A mason's own Grand Lodge office will assist further in this regard.

 

Step Four: Visit its Grand Lodge Office First

 

The recommended form of making contact, and of advising a particular Grand Lodge of your presence in its jurisdiction, is in person. Most Grand Lodges are based in the capital city, or principal city, of a country or area. As such a city usually doubles as the main point of entry into the area, a visit to the local Grand Lodge office is generally quite practicable. On visiting a Grand Lodge office a visiting mason can always be assured of full assistance. Indeed, should a visiting mason be in need of advice or assistance of any nature, not necessarily masonic, he can always find it amongst his brethren in the Craft, no matter in which country he may find himself.

 

Step Five: Direct Lodge Visiting

 

As a second preference, to be used if for some reason a visit to the appropriate Grand Lodge office proves impossible, a visitor can use the information contained in this guide to directly attend a lodge meeting. However, due to the restrictions of space it has not been possible to list the details of lodges in every jurisdiction. In addition, it is appreciated that several Grand Lodges have warranted lodges without their geographical jurisdiction, so that a visit to the appropriate Grand Lodge office is not possible. This particularly applies to lodges in Africa and Asia under the British Grand Lodges. Meeting details for most of the lodges in these areas are included in this Guide, as a consequence.

 

 

Step Six: A Letter to a Grand Lodge

 

As a last alternative to make contact, a mason proposing to travel masonically can write a letter to the Grand Jurisdiction he is to visit, seeking advice. However, this method should only be used as a last resort if the appropriate Grand Lodge office cannot be personally visited, or if no details concerning constituent lodges are available. If this approach is to be undertaken, such a letter Must be sent via your own Grand Lodge office. Such a letter should be addressed to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge concerned; and should contain your name and address and full masonic details, together with your places of residence in its jurisdiction and the dates applicable to your itinerary.

 

Any such letter must be directed via your own Grand Lodge office for several reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, correspondence directed through a mason's own Grand Lodge office assures the Grand Lodge being asked for advice that the enquiring brother is indeed a regular mason deserving of receiving the desired assistance. Secondly, by directing a letter through your own Grand Lodge office, your Grand Secretary can enclose an accompanying letter of support, which in turn will ensure a useful and speedy reply. It needs to be added that if a mason sends a letter direct to any foreign jurisdiction, he is unlikely to receive a response. Thirdly, it must be appreciated that Grand Lodges get enough mail as it is, and letters from hundreds of inquiring visitors will not alleviate this situation. Clearly then, this whole matter is one of masonic protocol, and protocol must be followed. Any letter that is to be sent must be arranged well before your planned departure, to ensure a reply is received in time for your visit.

 

Step Seven. Know your own Ritual.

 

As will soon be appreciated, it is necessary for visitors to undergo a masonic examination prior to entering a strange lodge. It is, therefore most desirable for masonic travellers to be full conversant with their home ritual, and in particular, with the examination procedures used by lodges under their home Grand Lodge.

 

This knowledge will be of great assistance to the visitor. While rituals and examination procedures do vary around the world, the modes of recognition and basic ritual content are not dissimilar. Therefore, a mason with adequate knowledge of the practices in his own jurisdiction will experience no trouble elsewhere.

 

Step Eight: Arrive Early

 

Having completed all the above procedures as appropriate, you are now in a position to visit. It is essential that you arrive at your chosen lodge meeting at least half an hour prior to its commencement. This will enable you to complete the remaining procedures as detailed below. A tardy, or late, arrival might well prevent you from visiting.

 

Step Nine: "Strict Trial and Due Examination".

 

Having arrived at the lodge you wish to visit, your first task is to advise its Tyler of your presence- and present to him your masonic credentials as already detailed However, in all regular masanic jurisdictions, it is necessary that in addition to presenting these documents, an unknown mason seeking to visit a lodge undergo a personal examination. A travelling mason must be prepared for this eventuality.

 

In masonic terminology, this process is called "Strict Trial and Due Examination". Both amount to the same thing. Either means the ascertainment that a stranger is freemason, or he is not. The nature of freemasonry does not allow documentary evidence alone to be the final testament as to whether a man is a freemason. It is possible, although unlikely, that a person seeking admission may be carrying false, or stolen documents. There have been occurrences in the past of unqualified persons, or impostors, seeking admission to lodge meetings.

 

An imposter may be a person who has never been a mason, one who is under suspension or expulsion from a lodge or one whose Grand Lodge is not recognised as regular. A mason who cannot prove that he is in good standing may also be prevented from visiting.

 

The procedures of masonic examination and recognition vary throughout the world, and these differences are based on ritual divergence. However, these procedures are all designed to achieve the same ends, and provided a mason is well acquainted with the practice of the Craft in his own jurisdiction, he will experience little difficulty elsewhere. As we shall discover in a later chapter; while the forms of masonic rituals around the world vary somewhat, the content is reasonably similar.

 

In most jurisdictions, masonic examination is carried out by an examining committee; appointed by the Master of the lodge either formally or on an ad hoc basis as the need arises. This committee can consist of the Master himself and his two Wardens, two or three Past Masters, or a small number of senior lodge members. In some areas, the examination is carried out by the lodge Tyler.

 

In most jurisdictions the examination, while thorough, is informally presented. It is usual for the examiners to select features of masonic knowledge at random, even to the point of requiring information out of sequence from each of the three degrees. This practice tends to uncover the 'Parrot Mason', or fraud with a good memory. Some committees even ask quite broad questions such as; 'tell us all you know about how you were raised to the degree of a Master Mason', although this is rare. In some jurisdictions, notably Ireland and those of the United States, visitors are required to repeat the Tyler’s Oath. The wording of this Oath is contained under the heading of the United States. As a final comment, it can be readily said that provided the man under examination is indeed a true and lawful brother, he will be discovered and acknowledged as such. The reverse, of course, is also true.

 

Step Ten. Avouchment and Vouching

 

In masonic terminology, 'Avouchment' is the lawful information which a mason provides to the lodge he seeks to visit, and the actual procedures which allow him to sit therein. Vouching technica1ly means a mason being able to state that he has 'sat in open Lodge' with another. Therefore, if a mason visits a lodge wherein he knows one or more of its members and has sat in open lodge with them, they will vouch for him, and he will not need to pass Strict Trial and Due Examination. Whereupon he is unknown, after he has presented his credentials and has been examined the Examining Committee or one of its members will vouch for him.

 

The avouchment procedures inside lodges vary widely between jurisdictions, but are all designed to evince to the lodge membership that the visitor is masonically entitled to be present. In some jurisdictions, the visitor will enter after the lodge is opened. In others, he will be present from the beginning, and all visitors will be asked to rise to be vouched for by a member present prior to the lodge opening. Unknown masons will have already passed an examination. In Ireland and the United States jurisdictions, this is accompanied by what is known as 'purging the lodge'. This practice will be detailed in its proper place later in this book. All these procedures pose no problems for the true and lawful brother, and they will certainly be of interest to the mason who has not experienced them before.

 

In other jurisdictions, notably of direct English descent, visitors will be vouched for inside the lodge while the visitor himself remains outside, to be admitted after he has been cleared. Many lodges using this form of vouching often accompany it with a card system, whereupon the visitor (having been properly examined) records his name, lodge and masonic rank on a card, which is then passed inside the lodge and read out. Upon the name of each visitor being read, the member vouching for the named visitor will stand and signify his assent to the Master.

 

All these forms of avouchment will be more fully explained later in this guide, as they apply to the jurisdictions wherein they are used.

 

Courtesy Degrees

 

Most regular Grand Lodges of the world, upon a written request from a recognised sister Grand Lodge, will confer 'courtesy degrees' upon a mason from that sister jurisdiction. Courtesy degrees is the term used to describe the conferment of degrees upon a mason from another Jurisdiction in a lodge under a host jurisdiction. In many cases, only the second and third degrees can be conferred, but some jurisdictions, notably in the United States, will confer any or all of the three Craft degrees by courtesy.

 

A mason travelling to another country or area, and who has not taken all the three Craft degrees, may wish to have a degree, or degrees, conferred upon him in another jurisdiction, This course of action may well suit a mason who has been transferred to another locality in the course of his employment. For courtesy work to be carried out, a mason will need to be in the host jurisdiction for at least several months. A quick tourist visit  rarely affords enough time for courtesy work to be effected.

 

A mason wishing to receive a degree by courtesy must follow a standard procedure. The steps to be undertaken are as follows:

 

1.    On a brother's behalf, his lodge secretary will write to his Grand Lodge office informing his Grand Secretary of the brother's desire in the matter. The letter will set out all the relevant details including the country to be visited by the brother, his residence therein, his current masonic rank, and the dates of his residency.

 

2.   Assuming that:

 

(i)    a regular Grand Lodge exists in the country to be visited by the brother, and

(ii)   this jurisdiction will normally conduct courtesy work, and

(iii) his Grand Secretary is satisfied that the brother's circumstances and reasons warrant the conferment of a courtesy degree, and

(iv) the ritual forms used by the proposed host jurisdiction are somewhat comparable with local practice:  then the brother's Grand Secretary will communicate with the Grand Secretary in the jurisdiction concerned, requesting that he act on behalf of the brother.

 

3.   Invariably, such a request will be met, and the host jurisdiction will prevail upon one of its constituent lodges close to the place of temporary residence of the brother, to confer upon him the appropriate degree, or degrees.

 

4   The brother's Grand Secretary will then be informed of the arrangements made by the hosting jurisdiction, and he will see that this information is passed back to the brother. Generally, the brother will be contacted by the hosting jurisdiction, or hosting lodge, and informed of the final arrangements. This will occur after he has taken up residency within its area.

 

Courtesy degrees, when conferred, have the full force of the conferment of degrees in the normal way. Upon receiving the Master Mason degree, a brother's home Grand Lodge will issue him his Master Mason's Certificate.

 

The Limitations of Courtesy Conferment

 

Several limitations apply to the conferment of courtesy degrees. Firstly, Grand Lodges require that a brother receive degrees in his own language. Therefore, unless a particular mason is suitably bilingual, it is most unlikely that an English-speaking jurisdiction would permit one of its members to receive a courtesy degree in a non-English-speaking Lodge. For example, the United Grand Lodge of England is unlikely to permit one of its members to receive a degree, by courtesy, in say, Sweden.

 

Secondly, as we have already mentioned, the type of ritual used by the proposed host jurisdiction is taken into account. Should the ritual concerned be somewhat removed from the brother's home ritual, then courtesy work may not be permitted. However, as a general rule, it can be stated that English-speaking jurisdictions will permit courtesy conferment between themselves.

 

The fees for the conferment of courtesy degrees, where they occur, are usually collected from the mason concerned by his home Grand Lodge, but in a minority of cases the candidate will be called upon to pay a fee to the lodge doing the work. If this matter arises, the brother concerned will be informed accordingly by his home Grand Lodge. A brother visiting a lodge for the purposes of receiving a courtesy degree will not, of course, have yet received his Grand Lodge Certificate. His own Grand Lodge will provide him with other appropriate travel documents, and he will be alerted to any masonic examination procedures that he may encounter.

 

Useful Masonic Literature

 

There is a range of masonic literature available that will be of use to the travelling freemason Most Grand Lodges publish a list of lodges in some form. The English, Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges annually produce a Year Book containing, amongst other information, the meeting details of all their constituent lodges, including all those located in foreign countries. The Jahrbuch (yearbook), published every year by the United Grand Lodges of Germany and the Annuaire of the French National Grand Lodge (GLNF) perform similar functions.

 

Many of the American Grand Lodges also publish a list of lodges, variously called a Roster, Directory, and a variety of other names. However, some of the smaller US Grand Bodies simply produce their lodge meeting details towards the rear of their annual Grand Lodge Proceedings.

 

A number of jurisdictions regularly publish a magazine/periodical for general distribution to their memberships. Most are produced bi-monthly or quarterly. They contain a wealth of information concerning the jurisdictions that publish them, and they will be of interest to the travelling mason. Most are available on twelve month subscriptions. Travellers desiring to purchase such a subscription can make inquiries at their own Grand Lodge office, and arrangements will be made with the jurisdiction concerned on the brother's behalf. In addition, most Grand Lodge libraries around the world subscribe to a range of foreign masonic periodicals, and these are readily available for consultation by the intending visitor.