Category Archives: Masonic Ritual

“Are you a mason?” A three part article Edited and Presented by Mike Lawrence Part Three

In this concluding section of the three part series we go from the Initiation to Installation of the Worshipful Master and matters in-between.

The Initiation

1

Receiving a wash whilst receiving the attention of the goat.

The Entered Apprentice

2

The Entered Apprentice smoothing the rough ashlar with the goat quizzically looking on.

The Passing

3

Passing the wine from one Brother to another with the goat nodding in anticipation?

The Raising

4

Having ‘Passed’ the wine it is now ‘Raised’ to be consumed.

The Installation

5

 

The Worshipful Master, gavel in hand addressing the Brethren.

Remarks from the Chair

6

The Worshipful Master makes an immediate impression but perhaps not in the manner intended.

The Worshipful Master

7

Well dined – showing the effect of the Master’s circuit?

The Last Degree?

7

Caption reads; ‘The Mason went home from the Meeting at three and his wife is now working the Last Degree’

8

Perhaps these were the duties being explained by the wife?

~~~~~

And so to the Signs, Grips, Password, Workings, the Test and the Charge!

The Sign

9

 

One can but smile.

The Grip

10

Caption reads; This is a ‘Grip’ he will always mind. He’s gripped before and he’s gripped behind’.

(Another) Grip

11

Caption reads; ‘I know your face Brother but you’ve forgotten the Grip’.

Hand writing reads; ‘Will ye no come back again’? referring to a non attending / lapsed Brother? Dated 21st July 1905

Combination of Grip and Sign

12

The Sign appears to be the glass of alcohol.

The Charge

13

Literally receiving the ‘Charge’ – goat attentive (and smiling?), Judge with the emblem of power, the gavel.

(Another version of) The Charge

14

The goat in hot pursuit ‘Charging’ the Brother!

The Test

15

Who is Testing who?

The Password

16

The theme of alcohol often appears.

Workings

17

Operative or Speculative?

Harmony

17a

The Worshipful Master leading his Lodge with the Closing Ode.

…and finally, from Labour to Refreshment

Message reads; ‘How will this one please?  That an awful loss of life at sea. Hoping you are all well at Dalmally. Best regards Jim

Sent 20th April 1912 and referring to the Titanic? which was lost on 15th April 1912.

To Absent Brethren.

It appears the ‘Are You A Mason’ postcards remained in print until the 1920’s with an estimated 150 known to exist today in their different forms.

<ends>

Footnote

I am seeking the following cards if any Brother can help complete my collection.

National Series 1600

  1. 1639 – Masons at work
  2. 1640 – The awful secret
  3. 1641 – title not known
  4. 1642 – The Banquet
  5. 1643 – The Password

National Series 2446

  1. 2446A – The Charge
  2. 2446E – The Test
  3. 2446F – The Passing

National Series 2600

  1. 2646 – Listening In

With regards to the 2600 Series there appears to be gaps in the numbering so it would be helpful if anyone can provide information on the full list. The apparent gaps are 2647 to 2660 inclusive and 2662 to 2675 inclusive. The numbers are on the backs of the postcards but any collector will know this.

Thanks for your help.

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“Are you a mason?” A three part article Edited and Presented by Mike Lawrence Part Two

We left off at that part of the story ‘Are You A Mason’ by looking at some postcards and the Play of the same name. A prominent feature of both was the inclusion of the goat – but why is this?

Most of us at some time will have heard the good humoured banter with the Candidate referring to the goat in the Ceremonies but I wonder if the person making the reference knows the origin of the goat in the context to which they refer?

Since ancient times and in Greek and Roman mythology the goat has been equated with the devil.

But why was the goat referenced and printed on the ‘Are You A Mason’ postcards?

According to the Asst Librarian, Great Queen Street (2011), ‘the depiction of the goat was reference to the popular and vulgar anti Masonic misconception that an element of devil-worship took place at Masonic Initiation ceremonies’.

He also quoted the Rev. Dr George Oliver (1782 – 1867), the prolific Masonic author, in one of his papers  ‘that there was in England a common belief that Freemasons were accustomed to raise the devil in their Lodges’.

He went on to say that it is these references that led to the depiction of the goat.

And according to the Curator of the Library & Museum (2010) the goat became a standard joke because of the use of a mechanical goat in the games played with the new members outside the ritual.

I had not heard of this before, or since, but perhaps this card is a hypothetical representation of ‘Riding the goat’?

1

 

Caption reads; The poor old Mason’s goat is dead. He’s getting a ride on the kid instead’.

Let’s get away from the unfounded references to the goat and look at another humerous example of ‘Riding the goat’, of which there are a number.

2

 

Freemasonry was not the only Fraternal Order to be lampooned by the cartoonist  – the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks received similar attention.

3

 

The Board of Grand Stewards Festival held at the Savoy, London, 28th April 1999 produced a booklet entitled ‘Humour and Freemasonry’.

4

The comment in the booklet was that the ability to see the humorous side of our activities is a sign of a healthy and civilised society and because of its ‘mystery’, Freemasonry from its earliest days has attracted public curiosity which has stimulated the wit of the cartoonist. Many have shown topicality combined with a warm humour that has appealed to Freemasons themselves.

4a

The painter and Freemason William Hogarth was a Steward for the 1735 Festival and painted the picture ‘Night’ on the front cover of the booklet.

 

 

Within the booklet there is one postcard showing  the goat – and in addition the red hot poker!

Here are four cartoons from the booklet:

5

   WM – ‘Take special care Bro Salamander that you place one letter on each cheek. I trust this solemn Ceremony will make a lasting impression’.

Bro Salamander – ‘Never fear Mr Right Worshipful – practice has steadied my hand amazingly. Mr Candidate hold your rump a little higher if you please – it is just a mere flea bite’.

DC (?) – You are now one of the Elect and are to have a Seat (when your Bottom is healed) among the Disciples of St John’.

6

Caption reads;   ‘An inspiring sermon, Vicar – see you later at the Lodge’.

In line with reporting, the cartoons picked up on the signs and grips etc depicting increasingly complex and probably physically impossible ways of Brethren exchanging the grips.

7

St Jame’s Street – Mark Mason’s Hall?

     Caption reads; “Sometimes on a cold morning, I wish I’d never joined the Freemason’s,”

8

Caption reads; Couldn’t we make an exception – just this once?’

Visitors to the Library and Museum at Great Queen Street often express surprise when cartoons are displayed. As commentary in the booklet says – ‘Freemasonry should be enjoyable or there is little point to it. Part of that enjoyment is surely an appreciation of the possibility of a humorous interpretation by other of some of our practices if taken out of context’.

The Mark Degree also features in the postcards; here are some examples with different publishers presenting different artwork.

13

 

Caption reads; ‘A Candidate getting the Mark Degree. He’s marked all over as you can see’ – note the various Masonic symbols.

As well as the artwork it is also interesting to read the written message.

It reads;

Dear Brother, Just a Post Card to let you know I have not forgot you. Hope you are all about right now. I will soon be able to go to the fishing again. Most of the Peats will be home by this time I hope. This is the way to tell the Mason so if you see Andrew Smith or Bengie as we called him, coming down the Good Road with a goat in full chase you will know he’s a full Mason. Has Uncle Tom been at the small fishing this year or have you been.  How is Hunter and his gramophone getting on? I will perhaps send you some snaps of West Kilbride if I take any. With love I remain your loving brother, Jimmy.

Dated August 1920, Govanhill, Glasgow

And lastly with regards to the Mark Degree – that poker again!

16

In the concluding look at the ‘Are You A Mason’ postcards we can see how the Initiation, Passing and Raising together with Signs, Grips and Password are depicted.

 

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Holy Royal Arch…Whence Come You? A four part article By Mike Lawrence Part Three

The second Temple, known to us as the third or Grand and Royal Lodge, was reconstructed and stood between 516 BC and 70 AD. During this time, it was the centre of Jewish worship, which focused on the sacrifices known as the Korbanot. In Judaism, the Korban is any of a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Totah. King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BC when the Jews were exiled during the Babylonian captivity. Construction of a new temple was begun in 535 and completed in 516, with its dedication in 515. As described in the Book of Ezra, rebuilding of the Temple was authorised by Cyrus the Great and ratified by Darius the Great. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its second Temple on August 4th 70 AD, ending the Great Jewish revolt that began in 66 AD.

9

 

The story in our ritual which relates to the discovery of the vault, probably takes its rise from any number of contemporary books that were available at the time when the ritual was being formulated. For example, we already know that the many of the Craft ritual phrases and certain usages can be found in the works of Shakespeare, Bunyon, Milton, Bronte, and some of the comtemporary pracitices of the time, so it would figure that Royal Arch ritual would contain phrases, practices or other things that were common or available at the time.

Thus, we read of The Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius, born 364 AD, translated and published in 1669 in a book entitled, “Solomon’s Temple Spiritualised.” The book records that the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate, ordered the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, during the course of which a cave was discovered by a workman who was lowered by rope into the vault. He discovered a perfect square and, in its centre, a column upon which was found a book wrapped in fine linen cloth. The first words being “In the beginning was the word” The book was the entire Gospel of St John. This verse incidentally played a very important part in the early Holy Royal Arch ceremony but was dropped during the 1835 ritual revision.

10

 

QCCC member Harry Mendoza, also tells us that references to the discovery of a law-book during repair work that was being carried out on the Temple can be found in 2 Kings, Chapter 22 and 2 Chronicles, Chapter 34. This book mentioned, many commentators identify as Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible, and which both record Hilkiah the priest finding the book of the law that the Lord had given Moses.

Robert McCoy’s “A Dictionary of Freemasonry”, a late 19th century publication also records the early finding of a vault in the ruins at Yucatan, where the explorer recorded the following: “The only way of descending was to tie a rope around the body and be lowered by the Indians…”

Therfore, as you can see, it is not beyond the realms of anyone’s imagination to understand where the allegorical story originated.

But this idea of taking an existing story to accentuate salient points of our discipline or to highlight its meaning should in no way detract from the important message of the Holy Royal Arch. It all degrees in Freemasonry, traditional histories were written for that very purpose and have little or no historical accuracy and it still pains me to this day when exponents of our ritual sincerely and honestly believe that all Masonry is based on historical fact.

This I think is an indictment on our society and clear evidence of our failure to educate our people by allowing them to continue to serve in ignorance rather than provide proficient instructors and accurately presented resources. Strong words I know, but I stand by my view.

11

 

So, having now established some of the basic facts about the Holy Royal Arch, i.e. where we are and what we are doing, perhaps a simplified recap will put things into a better perspective. So here are ten questions:

1) Where are we?

2) Where did we come from?

3) Who allowed us to come back to Jerusalem?

4) Who are we?

5) Who sits at the head of the Sanhedrin?

6) Who are they assisted by?

7) What did Cyrus give us permission to do?

8) What did we do to help the reconstruction?

9) What did they discover?

10) What was the reward for the industry and fidelity of the workmen?

Answers:

1) In Jerusalem!

2) Babylon, the captivity now being over!

3) Cyrus, the King of Persia!

4) The Grand Sanhedrin!

5) Zerubbabel, Haggai and Joshua!

6) Ezra and Nehemiah!

7) To rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem

8) We hired three workmen to clear the ground in order to receive the foundations. They made a discovery of great importance which they immediately conveyed back to us.

9) The name of the True and Living God Most High! Which was lost through the untimely death of Hiram Abiff.

10) They were made members of the Grand Sanhedrin!

We complete the story of the Holy Royal Arch in the next and final part of the Article.

 

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I Greet You Well! By Mike LAWRENCE

Cover Pic

All profits go direct to the TLC Appeal http://tlcappeal.org/

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 This book contains twelve easy to read lectures packed with all manner of Masonic facts and information. Read at home to establish a good Masonic knowledge base or present to the Lodge on nights when you are without a candidate. Time tested and performed many times by the author, these thought provoking, fascinating talks will definitely incite discussion as they explore many of our more popular subjects by explaining the origin of some of our traditions and exploding the myths and legends of others.

With over 60 illustrations and ranging from 20 to 25 minutes in duration, the lectures were primarily designed to suit Freemasons of all levels of understanding and rank.

With titles including: Stealing History – Surviving History – Those Twenty Nine Words – English Accepted Masonry versus Scottish Non-Operative Masonry and Why the Knights Templar were not the Founders or the Custodians of the Secrets of Freemasonry; there is something for everyone.

 

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 

All profits go direct to the TLC Appeal http://tlcappeal.org/

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The Christian origin of Freemasonry By Michael Lawrence

A short paper dispelling the suggestion that our ritual is of Jewish origin.

I was very interested to read the following statement found recently on a Masonic Facebook page to which I subscribe, it was followed by the question, “What is your opinion?”

poster

 

Old Gothic Constitutions 1390 – 1690

From the earliest of recognised English Masonic documents, i.e. the Regius Poem c.1390 and the Matthew Cooke MS, c.1450, which were in fact, Trade Documents written for the control and behaviour of Operative Masons, there is a distinct Christian emphasis. This emphasis is repeated in all the later documents generically called the “Old Gothic Constitutions”, which are of a similar nature, This pre-reformation Trinitarian influence which is Catholic in its inference, is soundly and securely based on the religion of the realm at that time, which was Christian.

An example being the Invocation or Opening prayer in each document, which always runs along these lines:

“The might of the Father of Heaven, with the wisdom of the glorious Son, through the grace and goodness of the Holy Ghost, that be three persons in one Godhead, be with us at out beginning, and give us grace so to govern us here in our living that we may come to His Bliss that never shall have ending. Amen.”

Certainly, no Jewish influence there.

The following link may be helpful.

http://www.masoniclibrary.org.au/research/list-lectures/86-gothic-constitutions.html

Having made that statement, an important point to make relates to the Edict of Expulsion. In 1290, Edward 1, issued the edict expelling all Jews from the Kingdom of England. The edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages. The edict was not an isolated incident but the result of over 200 years of persecution of the Jews in England. It is generally accepted that the Middle Ages ran for about 1000 years, approximately from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, to the rise of the Ottoman Empire.

Therefore, initially we can dispute the original statement on two counts because:

1) The Jewish people were expelled from England at that time.

2) The Operative Masons were erecting Cathedrals to the Glory of a Christian God.

So we can say that there was no Jewish influence within these documents and as there is no suggestion or even direction by any of the writers, that the contents should remain secret. I therefore propose that there is no hidden Jewish message found in the same.

Early Masonic Exposures, 1696 – 1730

The main foundation of early ritual in England is based on a group of three Scottish documents dated between 1696 and 1714, written out laboriously by hand and possibly used as a guide or aides-memoir. They are:

 1) The Edinburgh Register House MS, 1696 – Found in 1930, in the Old Register House, Edinburgh, among a number of papers transferred there in 1808 and was in no way related to any of the papers or records which it was stored with.

2) The Chetwode Crawley MS, c.1700 – Found in a collection of volumes purchased as a lot, c.1900, from a second-hand book collector.

3) The Kevan MS, c.1714 – Found in 1954, among a collection of old legal documents belonging to a firm of Solicitors practising in Berwickshire.

The problem with these MS is that without validation, they can only be seen as interesting or curious artefacts of a bygone age. However, by a very rare stroke of luck, an interesting discovery led students to the possibility of validating the previously three mentioned documents.

Haughfoot, was a hamlet near Stow, Galashiels, in the Scottish Lowlands and at the end of the 17th century, it consisted mainly of a staging post for horses and carriages and would have been the most unlikely place for a Lodge to be established as the region consisted mainly of gentry and local land owners, not stone works or masons. But it was in fact, the place where Scotland’s first wholly non-operative Lodge was founded, on 22nd December 1702 and here’s the twist of fate, it would appear that at the commencement of that Lodge, the ceremonies were written in the first several pages of the Lodge minute book to the extent that the last twenty-nine words of the ceremony commenced at the top of a new page and at the completion of the written ritual text we find the following words:

 “The same day”

Indicating that the ritual text was written and completed before the first meeting of the Lodge which was held on the same day.

These four documents agree closely with eleven others, generically known as the “Early Masonic Exposures” and continue the exact same pre-reformation Christian influence.

Dr James Anderson

It was during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu that when “finding fault with all the copies of the old Gothic Constitutions, order’d Brother James Anderson A.M. to digest the same in a new and better method” (Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.160)

One unforeseen problem which also occurred is taken up by Wallace Mcleod in the 1986 Prestonian lecture.

“…At the Annual Festival on 24 June 1718, when the Grand Lodge was one year old, the new Grand Master, George Payne, “desired any brethren to bring to the Grand lodge any old Writings and Records concerning Masons and Masonry in other to shew the Usages of antient Times; And this Year several old copies of the Gothic Constitutions were produced and collated.”

                Even in those early days there were reticent Masons who did not choose to risk disclosure. In a narrative of the incident Anderson wrote, “This Year, at some private Lodges, several very valuable Manuscripts…concerning the Fraternity, their Lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets and Usages…were too hastily burnt by some scrupulous Brothers, that those Papers might not fall into strange hands.”

It is generally agreed however, that of the few London lodges that formed part of George Paynes Grand Lodge at that time, between them they would only have held a small amount of texts or paperwork regarding “the Fraternity, their Lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets and Usages”.

How valuable to the Craft from an historic stand point they might have been, we shall never know, but the general consensus is that they were more probably one, or possibly two copies of the Gothic Constitutions that were destroyed which in any case would have been hand written reproductions of existing copies.

The main object of Andersons role was to bring some sort of order to the current manuscripts available to him at that time and in doing so he produced the first Book of Constitution, 1723. Anderson, being a Presbyterian Minister his Constitutions were influenced in that manner.

Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures and the necessity of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Its roots lie in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

Anderson, refined the basic Christian influence of the existing documents and produced the following statement:

Concerning GOD and RELIGION.

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid ATHEIST, nor an irreligious LIBERTINE. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished ; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.

Freemasonry therefore became Deistic, that being the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe, like that of Natural Religion, which is based on reason rather than divine revelation. It is a system of advocating or emphasizing morality. Morality being one of the founding principles Freemasonry was founded upon.

This now took Freemasonry away from that pre-reformation or Catholic ethos, and all but began the process of de-Christianisation.

Conclusion

The reason why people have give traction to the opening statement,  is because in order to tell the Masonic story and illustrate the message of fidelity, the vehicle chosen was the building of King Solomon’s Temple, but that does not make the story Jewish.

Stories, passwords, quotations and various inferences, were all taken from Christian Bibles, not the Talmud, especially the message of the Third Degree, which has caused some Jewish lodges to make the following change to the ritual:

From – “…lift our eyes to that bright Star, (inferring Jesus. See Revelations 22:16) whose rising brings peace and salvation…”

To – “…and lift our eyes to Him whose divine Words brings Peace and Salvation to the faithful…”

The purpose being the Jewish creed does not recognise the Christian belief that Jesus is their Saviour,

The stories and scriptures of the Old Testament were alogorically used to illuminate salient points of our discipline and no more.

Therefore our Freemasonry is founded on the simple premise, i.e. that we have a belief in a Supreme Being, not what religion or creed we follow and that is why we must be:

“…good Men and true, Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions we may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.”

Therefore the suggestion that our ritual was influenced by Judaism is incorrect, as is the general belief that Freemasonry in general, is Christian. Our society in multi-denominational, and long so may it remain so.

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Bad Craftsmen always blame their tools! By Mike Lawrence

A defence against those brethren that consider our ritual cumbersome and archaic.

Masonic_books

I don’t know how many times I have heard brethren absolve themselves from poor ritual delivery by claiming that it is archaic, repetitive and boring.  Then come the other excuses that those claimants make which suggest that our new initiates leave because of it.  This is closely followed by the debate that it causes the meetings to go on to long.

Well my friends, I must vehemently contest such complaints with the riposte that so many of our problems lie in the disorganisation of our DC’s, the unnecessary matters emanating from the Secretaries table and the monotone verbiage of some of our W.M.’s.

If you then couple this with the difficulty that many brethren face when trying to repeat verbatim, each ceremonial part and the subsequent poor presentation we have to suffer, it all goes to set us up for immediate failure.

Like so many, I am not adverse to the review or reform of any of our practices, but the claims by some about our ritual are by no means unusual, but neither are they insurmountable.  It fact, if we all took Freemasonry a little more serious, we would solve so many of the problems highlighted.

For example, it is neither rare nor uncommon for mature brethren to nod off during any proceedings, but this is not due to the ritual.  I have witnessed this during church services, theatres, cinemas, seminars, etc.

It is not through boredom, lack of attention, nor medical condition, just that which dictates that elderly people rest more frequent than their younger counterparts.  However, when younger brethren sleep during the ceremony it is generally through inebriation, total lack of interest and little or no understanding of what is going on.

Shutting one’s eyes during a ceremony to concentrate does not constitute sleeping and I know several brethren who, as they progress through the offices of the lodge, use this method to learn the ritual by repeating it in their heads the words along with whatever officer is speaking.

The problem is that very few brethren choose to learn no more about this noble science than that which is contained in their little ritual book.  This means that many brethren hear and repeat words and phrases, and carry out actions that they have no idea where they originated.

Yes! It may be said that much of the ritual which we practice today may be two hundred years old, but ask yourself this – Where did it originate?  What you will find is that so much of it predates not only the 1813 Union, but  also the 1717 formation of Grand Lodge.  In fact, much of it originates from the Old MS Charges of which some dated from c.1390.

If only lodges would use the Lodge of Instruction to do exactly that. Instruct!  Each lodge should be able to provide their candidate with a comprehensive reading list and study programme of instruction and training of which the net result would enliven all that we do.

That is where we let the new initiates down, we send them home that evening with no more than a Book of Constitutions, a copy of the lodge bye-laws and a list of second degree questions of which they have little or no knowledge about.

With regard to the lengthy Installation ceremony, all proceedings can be modified slightly without detracting from the ethos of the event.  All good DC’s with the co-operation of Lodge officers and Past Masters should be able perform a crisp ceremony with good continuity and succinct presentation.  The key lies in the Lodge of Rehearsal.  Such a ceremony warrants several rehearsals to ensure perfection.  Unfortunately, many Past Masters asked to perform certain parts of the ceremony, consider that attendance at rehearsals are beneath them.

While on the subject of ritual delivery, it is facetious to suggest, as many do, that it is no more than an admirable piece of theatre.  If that is the belief, then surely most of us should perhaps conduct ourselves like actors and put more effort into leaning our lines.  It’s a churlish suggestion, although I would propose that a dialogue coach would not go amiss.

When a brother stumbles mid-sentence, we are never short of rude brethren who try to correct him, often times so loud that it causes embarrassment to all. That behaviour also undermines that appointed officer who normally carries out that particular role as discreet as possible and generally by previous arrangement or signal.

As so many brethren are intimidated by the activities of learning and delivering the ritual, we obviously let our brethren down by not providing good teaching, training and learning methods, and this I consider should be another priority.

Minutes of the previous meeting, along with a brief report from the Almoner and Charity Steward could be sent prior to the meeting along with the summons.  This would reduce the business from the secretaries table and other officers who often believe that after two hours of Masonic ceremony, brethren cannot wait to hear from them.  I always get the impression that so many brethren need their ‘five-minutes’ of fame.

It is the inverted snobbery and pomposity of senior brethren, and all lodges have them, that is slowly affecting the membership of the Craft.  Having said that, we must also acknowledge that all age-old institutions are currently being affected by numbers joining, Freemasonry being no exception to this.

The improvement of our ceremonies lies in the hands of our past-Masters, to coach, encourage and train officers and members.  It also rests upon us all to maintain standards of decorum and dignity and to conduct ourselves with solemnity while in open lodge.  Also that we ‘put-in’ 110% in learning any assignment we may be asked to carry out and to earnestly seek help if needs be, otherwise we should gracefully decline.  There is nothing more embarrassing to a candidate than to see a brother struggling to deliver a piece of ill-learnt ritual.  How selfish we can be sometimes.

Having said that, we have all heard well rehearsed ritual. I recall the time when one brother was so enthusiastic with his delivery of the second degree tracing board lecture that those present felt sure he was about to let the Ephramites win!

Joking aside, if ritual needs be read for clearer understanding and accuracy then so be it, but please lets not blame it, alter it or modernise it just because we ourselves cannot deliver it with the respect, the learning and the understanding it demands.

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The Temple and the Masonic Tradition By Mike Lawrence

Freemasons’ meeting places have traditionally been known as Temples, and although this is rather an archaic word, many still argue that its retention in our vocabulary is justified for three reasons. The first being that it is a reasonable name to apply to an institution and a place where the Great Architect of the Universe, is venerated. Secondly, as a continuing reference to King Solomon’ s Temple, the story of which has exercised such a considerable influence on Masonic ritual, symbolism and teaching. Thirdly, the Lodge room itself, is representative, during the ceremonies, of King Solomon’s Temple. The Worshipful Masters Chair affectionately known as the Chair of King Solomon.

However, there are those that consider the very term ‘Temple’, evokes thoughts of Freemasons making daily propitiations to an unseen Deity by way of worship, offerings and sacrifices. Therefore, one can find as many brethren in favour of the term, as against it. But that is a matter for personal choice and not the subject of this paper.

Our subject is the Temple of King Solomon and the Masonic tradition.

king-solomon-temple

It was during the nomadic period of the Israelites, that the focus of their devotions was centered on the tabernacle, a portable tent which was erected and dismantled during their wanderings. When erected, it housed among other things, the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of God.

When David finally settled in Jerusalem, he wanted it to become the center of the people’s religious life, so he ordered the Ark to be brought into the city to be given a permanent home in a building, i.e. a temple or house of God.

David’s plans met with opposition from the prophet Nathan who announced that God never needed a temple when the tribes were wandering in the desert and he did not need one now and with regard to the building of a house to God, God in fact would establish a house of David, a dynasty from which the Messiah would come. But Gods refusal was only temporary; it was because David was not a suitable person to build a temple because he was a warrior king with blood on his hands, he was only allowed to choose the site for the building, the honour of building the temple would belong to his son, Solomon.

Just north of Jerusalem, was a higher and taller summit known as Zion which belonged to a Jebusite named Araunah. During a plague which killed seventy thousand people in three days, an angel appeared to David and stood on the threshing floor of Araunah, which was at the summit of the mount. David quickly recognised the fact that as well as using the threshing floors to separate the chaff from the wheat, the Jebusites used their threshing floors for prophetic divination, worship and appeasement of their storm god Baal. David therefore decided he must build an altar there and by paying for the land, the altar, and the oxen to be sacrificed, he would in fact ensure that the sacrifice would be without obligation to anyone but “Yahweh”, his God. From that point on, the site of the Temple was clearly marked out.

This piece of land where the Jebusites made sacrifices to the God Baal, now became the place where the Holy of Holies would be built, that innermost sanctum of the Temple on that great rock, which can still be seen today in the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.

Dome on the Rock

Muslims say it was this same spot where Mohammed ascended on his Night Journey to Paradise. Orthodox Jews claim it was where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was also the place also where David ultimately brought the Ark of the Covenant.

Over the next few years, David consolidated his position. Having already combined the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, roughly where Israel stands today, he also subdued the kingdoms of Edom and Moab in the east and Damascus in the north.  Today the areas of western Jordan, southern Lebanon, and central Syria were all once part of David’s empire but are now, countries in their own right.

King Solomon also extended the city of Jerusalem to include the holy mount and began a large and ambitious building program which included a palace complex, for his huge harem of 700 princesses, the 300 concubines, who were gifts from foreign rulers and a grand palace for his Egyptian wife. He built a large armory, a judgement hall and on the ancient threshing floor which once belonged to the old Jebusite, Araunah, he built the Temple.

Building the temple was no mean feat and the Bible tells us that Solomon ordered 30,000 Israelites to be divided into three groups of 10,000 and working in shifts they cut timber in Lebanon for a month, and then worked for two months in Jerusalem, while another 80,000 were sent into the mountains to quarry stone for the foundations as a further 70,000 porters carried the stone to the site.

Building

There were 3,300 supervisors overseeing the building work. The construction which began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, took seven years and five months to complete which would have been from about the spring of 958 BC to the autumn of 951 BC. The internal dimensions have been estimated to be no more than, 120ft by 30ft, and possibly having an Oriental appearance, shewing Phoenician or Egyptian influences.

It was constructed on lines which we would find very strange today, as it was not a building where priests and laity met together for worship. On the contrary, the Temple courts were all that the laity would ever see, not even the King himself could advance further than the porch or vestibule.

The Middle Chamber, (or shall we say the nave) contained the Altar of Incense, and was reserved for the offices of the priests, whilst the windowless Sanctum Sanctorum was a place which even the High Priest himself could enter but once a year.

Of all the work carried out in the Temple, nothing was more remarkable than the enormous basin known as the Sea of Bronze and the two huge bronze pillars named Jachin and Boaz. In those days, casting on such a large scale was both difficult and technically advanced and the man sent by King Hiram to carry out the work was described as being “filled with wisdom and understanding” and “a widow’s son”, better known to us in the Masonic setting as Hiram Abiff.

Although we never pretend that our traditional history of the fate of Hiram is anything but allegorical, it is good to be reassured that our story is built around a historical character, and one who furnished an essential link between the Scriptures and the Masonic craft, and was capable of being regarded as the central focus around whom our ceremony of Raising could be constructed.

Ultimately, some 400 years later this wonderful building laid waste and looted by Nebuchadnezzar who made the people captive. It was eventually restored by Zerubbabel but by this time the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared.

After many vicissitudes, this Temple in its turn was finally demolished by Herod who was hated by Jews for his pro-Roman attitude, he sought to regain their favour by rearing an even mightier edifice in Graeco-Roman style. This last Temple had but a short span of existence and in the great Jewish insurrection of AD 70, it was completely destroyed by the Roman armies.

Thus, the only remaining fragment now known to man of these successive buildings is part of the huge stone retaining wall which formerly banked up the Temple platform from the valley on the West, known as the ‘Wailing Wall’.

Wailing Wall

We can speculate as to the origins of that other part of our ceremonial based on the Temple structure, that of the Middle Chamber. It would have been quite reasonable during the period before dedication whilst building operations proceeded, for part of the structure to have been temporarily used as a wages office and this might well have been that portion of the main building just inside the porchway later to be reserved for the offices of the priests. However, this seems doubtful when considering the sheer volume of the workforce, the size of that vestibule, the winding staircase and the Middle Chamber itself.

But regardless of this, it adds to the colorful story of our ritual.

On the matter of the two Great Pillars, archeological research lends itself firmly in support of the view that there were two great free-standing columns, and moreover that our Masonic names are not only correct historically, but more or less correct in their interpretation, for though the writings on the one began with something like ‘God will establish thy throne for ever’, whilst those on the other begun with ‘ In the strength of God shall the King rejoice’.

I think we understand that whilst some of our mental and visionary conceptions of the Temple now appears to be misconceived and based on misunderstandings, at the same time many of our earlier doubts about the validity of Old Testament references have in great measure been resolved, and it is on these evidences that the main substance of our masonic tradition was founded.

While archeological research has improved our historical and theological knowledge and thrown more light on the Jerusalem Temple, nothing has transpired in the least to threaten our confidence in the allegorical and symbolical uses we make of it for our mutual moral benefit, or to make us think of abandoning any element of the progressive science of Freemasonry, to which we as brethren owe so much.

Based on an article by W. Bro.  The   Reverend Canon J. R. Prophet P.D.G.Chap.

 

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part Two of Two. By Mike Lawrence

Section six – Architectural Styles of the Pillars

The five orders of Architecture were identified as early as 1562, in a book by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, who wrote about classical architecture. The book identifies the five orders as Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite with each part subdivided into other parts, all illustrating the styles of the colonnade arcade, arcade with pedestal, individual pedestal, entablatures and capitals.

Joseph Gwilt in The Encyclopaedia of Architecture explains the term ‘order’, thus:

“An Order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform”

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The origin of the five Orders are thus.

  • The Doric order originated on the mainland and western Greece and is the simplest of the orders.
  • The Ionic order came from eastern Greece and its origins are entwined with the little known, Aeolic order.
  • The Corinthian order is the most ornate of the Greek orders and is characterized by the slender fluted column with ornate capitals decorated with two rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls.

It was the Romans that adapted all the Greek orders and  developed two other orders which were modifications of the Greek orders, but they were not named or formalised as  Tuscan and Composite,  until the Renaissance period. Therefore, the Tuscan order was a very plain design, with a plain shaft, and a simple capital, base, and frieze and the Composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic with the leaves of the Corinthian order.

Section Seven – The Origins of Pillars

Prior to the discovery of the Arch, it was primitive man that discovered the fundamental building principle of the upright and lintel, that is, the use of two upright posts supporting a beam or lintel. This made it possible to add doorways and windows and is found in early buildings all over the world.

The Egyptians, seeing the principal of the post and lintel, translated it into great columns supporting entablatures. The Greeks following suit used the same to form for their classical colonnades in such buildings like the Parthenon. The Chinese adapted a roof structure of decreasing posts and lintels piled on top of each other to support wide eaves of their roofs The Japanese used post and lintels to form the gateways to their temples.

temple-of-karnak

The Temple at Karnak

Section eight – Ritual Anomalies

a) In the explanation of the Second-Degree Tracing Board we are told the following:

“Those Pillars were further adorned with two spherical balls on which were delineated maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes, pointing out Masonry Universal.”

I have three problems with this statement:

1)  In 1 Kings 7:41 we read that: “The two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;”. The Volume of Sacred Law explains that the “spherical balls” were in fact “bowls”.

2) The second issue is that there were maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes delineated on those balls. Of course, there were no known such maps when King Solomon’s Temple was build.

3) The third point is that Masonry at that time was not universal and did not exist.

b) When we speak of King Solomon’s Temple in the Second Degree, we refer to a Pillar that is situated on the right. This takes its rise from:

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

Both verses are taken from the King James Version.

The ritual goes on explain that the right-hand Pillar “…was so named after Jachin the Assistant High Priest who officiated at its dedication.” However, the fact remains that it was not named after him and he did not officiate at the dedication of the Temple.

c) From the Explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board, we are told in relation to those two great pillars that, “They were formed hollow, the better to serve as archives to Masonry, for therein were deposited the constitutional rolls.”

As you know there was no Freemasonry (as the Lecture implies) in those days and certainly no Constitutional Rolls.

Which all goes to show, our Traditional History is not historically accurate, but written to highlight salient points of our discipline.

Section nine – Humour

I recall one evening when a well-established Past Master, was called upon to present a recently Raised Master Mason with his Grand Lodge Certificate.  As you are aware, there is a no formal ceremony for the presentation, however there are guidelines on specific details to be included.

The brother was received enthusiastically and proceeded to display his remarkable knowledge of the origin and design of the certificate. As usual he had us all spellbound and he proceeded to the section that explains the three pillars, he went on: “…the outstanding feature of the design is, as you will notice, three pillars, each with its corresponding base. The one in the centre, like the Worshipful Master’s pillar in the Lodge, is of the Ionic Order adopted by Masons as an emblem of Wisdom and has reference to Solomon, King of Israel, and his wisdom in building, completing and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service.

The pillar on the left, like that of the Senior Warden’s, is of the Doric Order, emblematical of strength, such as the strength of Hiram, King of Tyre in supporting King Solomon with men and material.

The right-hand pillar, like the pillar of the Junior Warden, is of the Corinthian Order, the emblem of beauty…” at that point the brother halted, looked to the South, directed his comments to the Junior Warden and remarked, “…although I don’t know what happened in Brother Jones case” and calmly continued the presentation.

Needless to say, a loud ripple of laughter when thriugh the Lodge.

Section ten – Conclusion

I do not pretend that these two articles are exhaustive, and I have no doubt that with further research one could find lots more information. I also cannot confirm whether there is an inference to the Kabbalah.

The usages, traditions and practices Freemasonry are taken from many cultures, however, from that point on they are referred to in the Masonic sense only, and not used to symbolise the same as their earlier use may have implied. They are employed to accentuate salient points of our discipline and do not refer, imply, or associate themselves with past cultures of civilizations.

This is why many have confused Freemasonry with earlier cultures and  practices, which has tended to give Freemasonry a much earlier origin, that it actually has.

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part one of a two part article. By Bro. Michael Lawrence

I found a question on a Masonic site recently in relation to the three pillars that support the Lodge. This was the question:

“Is it true that the three pillars of Freemasonry and the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah are related?”

Followed by this illustration:

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There are several types of columns and pillars, referred to in Masonic teaching, here are some of the findings of my research.

Section One – The Pillars of Enoch

In Masonic lore, the outer Pillars of the Temple are often referred to as the “Pillars of Enoch”. Enoch, being aware that Adam predicted “that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water.” (Flavius Josephus Antiquities, 1.2:3) Therefore fearing the principles of the Liberal Arts and Sciences might be lost, his son Seth caused two pillars to be made, the one of brick, the other of stone, (various other documents refer to other materials being used) they inscribed their discoveries on them both, this was in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind. The story of the Pillars became enshrined in Masonic teachings through the second earliest Masonic MS.

“…knowing of that vengeance, that God would send, whether it should be by fire, or by water, the brethren had it not by a manner of a prophecy that God would send there, therefore they wrote their sciences on the two pillars of stone, and some men say that they wrote in the stones all the seven sciences, but as they had in their minds that a vengeance should come. And so it was that God sent vengeance so that there came such a flood that all the world was drowned, and all men were dead therein, save eight persons…and many years after this flood, as the chronicle telleth, these two pillars were found…” The Matthew Cooke Manuscript c.1450 (Modern Translation)

Section Two – The Pillars at the porch way or entrance to the Temple of King Solomon

In an article entitled, The History of the Two Pillars, W. L. Fawcette says:

“The tradition of the Freemasons in regard to the two pillars, which are a prominent emblem of their Craft, is, that they represent the pillars Jachin and Boaz, which Hiram of Tyre made for Solomon, and set one on either side of the entrance to the Temple, to commemorate the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night which guided the Israelite’s in their forty years wanderings in the wilderness.”

Our ritual explains in respect of the two Pillars:

“They were set up as a memorial to the children of Israel of that miraculous pillar of fire and cloud which had two wonderful effects. The fire gave light to the Israelite’s during their escape from their Egyptian bondage, and the cloud proved darkness to Pharaoh and his followers when they attempted to overtake them. King Solomon ordered them to be placed at the entrance of the Temple, as the most proper and conspicuous situation for the children of Israel to have the happy deliverance of their forefathers continually before their eyes in going to and returning from Divine worship”.

Whatever significance the Hebrews may have attached to these pillars, there is good reason for believing that they received the material emblem from the Tyrians at the time of the building of the Temple. The Scriptures give a detailed account of the dimensions and designs of the pillars, (2 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 3) but are silent as to their significance; and there is nothing in the whole Scriptural account of them to forbid the conclusion that the ideas symbolised by them were as much Tyrian as Jewish.

Tyre had been a rich and prosperous city for over two hundred years, when Solomon undertook the building of the Temple. The Tyrians had been skilled in architecture and other arts to a degree that implied a high state of mental culture, while the Hebrews were yet nomadic tribes living in tents. The tabernacle was only a tent, and in this first Hebrew endeavour to give it a more enduring structure of wood and stone, Solomon naturally appealed to the greater skill of the subjects of the friendly Hiram, King of Tyre.

When the Hebrews began to build the Temple, they ceased their wanderings, they became permanently established, and, as a memorial of this fact, they embodied in the architectural design of the Temple, a symbol which, by the Tyrians and many other nations descended from the ancient Aryan stock, was considered emblematic of a divine leadership that had conducted them to a new and permanent home; this was the true significance of the two pillars.

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Section Three – The symbol of the “broken column”

We learn that under the Hebrews, columns or pillars were used metaphorically to signify Princes or Nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state. In Psalm 6:3 we read, “If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?” meaning in the original, “when the columns are overthrown, that is, when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.”

Isaiah 14:10 reads “…her (Egypt’s) columns are broken down, that is, the nobles of her state.”

Thus, in Freemasonry, the broken column, which is not that common in the English Masonic system, is the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillars as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred.

Section Four – The Pillars that support the Lodge

The Lodge is supported by three great pillars, which are called Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

Wisdom, illustrated by the Ionic column and found at the Worship Masters station in the East, helps contrive and conduct us in all our undertakings.

Strength, illustrated by the Doric column and found at the Senior Wardens station in the West, helps support us in all our difficulties.

Beauty, illustrated by the Corinthian column and found at the Junior Wardens station in the South, helps adorn the inward man.

Therefore, the Universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are about His throne as pillars of His works, for His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and Beauty shines through the whole of the creation in symmetry and order.

The Pillars of the Porch in a Masonic temple

Section Five – The Names of the two great Pillars

You have heard the names of the two great Pillars that stood at the porch way or entrance of King Solomon’s Temple.

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

In Masonic teaching, we learn we learn that the import of both names being “In Strength” and “To Establish” respectively. This conforms to the writings of Flavius Josephus who wrote in the 1st Century A.D. that Boaz means “In Him Strength or In It Strength” and Jachin means “He Will establish or It will establish” (Antiquities of the Jews). Masonic teaching also advises us that when conjoined, the words mean “Stability”, for God said, “In strength I will establish this mine house to stand firm for ever”. However, nowhere in any version of the bible do we read God using these words. The nearest we can get to the phrase is found in 1 Chronicles, 17:12 which says:

“He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.”

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PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS – Part 4 of 4

PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS Part 4 of 4

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By

Harry Carr

 THREE PILLARS

Extracts from the modern Lecture on the First Tracing Board: Our Lodges are supported by three great pillars. They are called Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, but as we have no noble orders in architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, we refer them to the three most celebrated, which are, the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian.

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The problems relating to the furnishings of the lodge do not end with Solomon’s two pillars. As early as 1710 an entirely different set of three pillars makes its appearance in the catechisms and exposures. They appear for the first time in the Dumfries No 4 MS, which is dated about 1710:

  1. How many pillars is in your lodge?
  2. Three.
  3. What are these?
  4. Ye square the compass & ye Bible.

The three pillars do not appear again in the eleven versions of the catechisms between 1710 and 1730, but the question arises, with a new answer, in Prichard’s Masonry Dissected:

  1. What supports a Lodge?
  2. Three great Pillars.
  3. What are they called?
  4. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
  5. Why so?
  6. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn.

Almost identical questions appeared in the Wilkinson MS c1727, and in a whole series of English and European exposures throughout the eighteenth century, invariably with the same answer, “Three. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn”. But the descriptions of actual lodge furnishings in the early 1700s do not mention any sets of three, and it seems evident that these questions belong to a period long before there was any idea of turning them into actual pieces of furniture in the lodge room.

Early lodge inventories are too scarce to enable us to draw definite conclusions from the absence of references to any particular items of lodge furnishings or equipment. While it is fairly certain, therefore, that the early operative lodges were only sparsely furnished, it is evident, from surviving eighteenth‑century records that in the 1750s there were already a number of lodges reasonably well equipped.

A set of three pillars was mentioned in the records of the Nelson Lodge in 1757, and the Lodge of Relief, Bury, purchased a set of three pillars, for WM, SW and JW, in 1761. To this day, the ancient Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No l, now nearly 400 years old, uses a set of three pillars, each about three feet tall. The Master’s pillar stands on the Altar, almost in the centre of the Lodge; the other two stand on the floor at the right of the SW and JW respectively. (The three principal officers, there, do not have pedestals.)

Masonry Dissected remained the principal stabilising influence on English ritual until 1760, when a whole new series of English exposures began to appear, all displaying substantial expansion in the floor‑work of the ceremonies, and in their speculative interpretation. Three Distinct Knocks appeared in 1760, and J. & B. in 1762, claiming to expose respectively the rituals of the rival Grand Lodges, “Antients” and “Moderns”. Both of them now included several new questions and answers on the “Three great Pillars” agreeing that “they represent…The Master in the East…The Senior Warden in the West…[and] The Junior Warden in the South”, with identical full explanations of their individual duties in those positions.

It seems likely that these questions were originally intended only to mark the geographical positions of the pillars, but in that period of speculative development the explanations were almost inevitable.

THREE CANDLESTICKS

Apart from Prichard’s note in the 1730s on “large Candles placed on high Candlesticks”, the first evidence of a combination of these two sets of equipment (that I have been able to trace) is in the records of the Lodge of Felicity, No 58, founded in 1737, when the Lodge ordered “Three Candlesticks to be made according to the following orders Viz. 1 Dorrick, 1 Ionick, 1 Corrinthian and of Mahogany…”. In the Lodge inventory for Insurance in 1812 they had multiplied and were listed as “Six Large Candlesticks. Mahogany with brass mountings and nossils, carv’d of the three orders”. In 1739, the Old Dundee Lodge ordered a similar set, still in use today.

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The connection is perhaps not immediately obvious, but these were the architectural styles associated with the attributes of the three pillars belonging to the Master and Wardens, “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty”. The Masonic symbolism of the three pillars had been explained by Prichard in 1730, and it is almost certain that these two Lodges were putting his words into practical shape when they had their candlesticks made up in those three styles.

These two early examples may serve as a pointer to what was happening, but it was not yet general practice, and early evidence of their combined use is scarce. But we can trace the sets of three pillars from their first appearance in the ritual as a purely symbolical question, in which they support the Lodge, and are called “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty”. Later, they represent the three principal Officers, in the East, South, and West. From the time when they were being explained in this fashion, c1730 to 1760, it is fairly safe to assume that they were beginning to appear in the Drawings, Floor‑Cloths or Tracing Boards. We know, of course, that they appeared regularly in the later versions, but the general pattern of their evolution seems to indicate that they were almost certainly included in many of the early designs that have not survived.

In the 1750s, and the 1760s, we have definite evidence (meagre indeed), that sets of three pillars were already in use as furniture in several lodges, and this adds strong support to the view that they had formerly appeared in the Tracing Boards. When, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the lodge rooms and Masonic Halls were being furnished for frequent or continuous use, the three pillars became a regular part of the furnishings, occasionally in their own right, but more often as the ornamental bases for the three “lesser lights”, thus combining the two separate features into the one so frequently seen today.

THE GROWTH OF MASONIC SYMBOLISM

The growth in the number of symbols, as illustrated in the French exposures of the 1740s, and in the English versions of the 1760s, deserves some comment. In the Grand Lodge Museum there is a collection of painted metal templates, belonging apparently to several different sets. There are pillars with globes, a set of two small pillars without globes, and a separate set of three pillars. There is also a set of templates of “Chapiters and Globes”, i.e., headpieces only, clearly designed for adding the globes on to normal flat‑topped pillars.

All these, with many other symbols, were used in drawing the “designs” on the floor of the lodge. As early as 1737, when the “floor‑drawing” showed only “steps” and two pillars, it was a part of the Master’s duty to explain the “designs” to the candidate, immediately after he had taken the obligation. There appears to have been no set ritual for this purpose, and the explanations were doubtless given impromptu.

From 1742 onwards there is substantial evidence that the number of symbols had vastly increased, and this would seem to indicate a real expansion in the “explanations”, The Hernult Letter, 1737. See translation in Leics. L. of Research Reprints. No xiv.  Le Carechisme des Francs‑rnatons, 1742. and L’Ordre des Francs‑masons Trahi, 1745, and in the Frontispiece of a whole stream of English exposures that began to make their appearance from 1762 onwards. All three texts are reproduced in English translation in The Early French Exposures, Published by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge. No 2076. implying some sort of dissertation akin to the later “Lectures on the Tracing Boards”.

Many of these old symbols, which appear frequently on the later eighteenth‑century Tracing Boards and in contemporary engravings, etc, have now disappeared from our modern workings, among them the Trowel, Beehive, the Hour‑glass, etc, and it is interesting to notice that in the USA, where much of our late eighteenth‑century ritual has been preserved, these symbols, with many others, appear regularly on the Tracing Boards.

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In this brief essay, I have confined myself only to a few symbolised items’ of our present‑day furnishings whose origins are liable to be clouded because of standardisation, but there is a whole world of interest to be found in the remaining symbology of the Craft.

Extracts from the modern Lecture on the First Tracing Board: Our Lodges are supported by three great pillars. They are called Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, but as we have no noble orders in architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, we refer them to the three most celebrated, which are, the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian.

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