Welcome to our Masonic Papers page. These publications, some of them anonymous, provide some insight into the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of Masons and non-Masons alike. They do not however speak for Freemasonry itself or attempt to provide any answers or explanations concerning the purpose and ideology of Freemasonry, or in any way attempt to express the views of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
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The Membership Problem
The Importance of Gloves
Freemasonry in Society
Praying in the Lodge
So Mote it Be!
The Meaning of Blue
The Letter G
The Cable Tow
The History and Meaning of the Apron
The Membership Problem
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Goethe was one of the myriad-minded men of our race, and a devout member of our gentle Craft. When he lay dying, as the soft shadow began to fall over his mind, he said to a friend watching over his bed : "open the window and let in more light!" The last request of a great poet-Mason is the first quest of every Mason.
If one were asked to sum up the meaning of Masonry in one word, the only word equal to the task is - light! From its first lesson to its last lecture, in every degree and every symbol, the mission of Masonry is to bring the light of God into the life of man. It has no other aim, knowing that when the light shines the truth will be revealed.
A Lodge of Masons is a House of Light. Symbolically it has no roof but the sky, open to all the light of nature and of grace. As the sun rises in the East to open and rule the day, so the Master rises in the East to open and guide the Lodge in its labour. All the work of the Lodge is done under the eye and in the name of God, obeying Him who made the great lights, whose mercy endureth forever.
At the centre of the Lodge, upon the Altar of Obligation, the Great Lights shine upon us, uniting the light of nature and the whiter light of revelation. Without them no Lodge is open in Due Form, and no business is valid. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, as the stars are seen only when the sun is hidden, so the Lesser Lights follow dimly when the Greater Lights lead.
To the door of the Lodge comes the seeker after Light, hoodwinked and groping his way - asking to be led out of shadows into realities; out of darkness into light. All initiation is "Bringing Men To Light," teaching them to see the moral order of the world in which they must learn their duty and find their true destiny. It is the most impressive drama on earth, a symbol of the Divine education of man.
So, through all its degrees, its slowly unfolding symbols, the ministry of Masonry is to make men "Sons Of Light" - men of insight and understanding who know their way and can be of help to others who stumble in the dark. Ruskin was right: "To See Clearly is Life, Art, Philosophy and Religion - All In One." When the light shines the way is plain, and the highest service to humanity is to lead men out of the confused life of the senses into the light of moral law and spiritual faith.
To that end Masonry opens upon its Altar the one great Book of Light, its pages glow with "A Light That Never Was On Sea Or Land," shining through the tragedies of man and the tumults of time, showing us a path that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. From its first page to the last , the key-word of the Bible is light; until, at the end, when the City of God is built it will have no need of the sun or the moon or the stars; for God is the Light of it.
And God Said, Let There Be Light; And there was light.
God Is Light, And In Him Is, No Darkness At All. Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet; And A Light Unto My Path. The entrance Of Thy Word, Giveth Light. The Lord Is My Light And My Salvation;
Whom I Shall Fear. There Is No Light For The Righteous, Gladness For The True. The Lord Shall Be To Thee An Everlasting Light. To Them That Sat In Darkness, Light Is Sprung Up. He Stumbleth Not, Because He Seeth The Light. I Am Come A Light Into The World, While Ye Have The Light, Believe In The Light. Let Your Light Shine Before Man.
To find the real origin of Masonry we must go far back into the past, back before history. All the world over, at a certain stage of culture, men bowed down in worship of the sun, moon and the stars. In prehistoric graves the body was always buried in a sitting position, and always facing to the East, that the sleeper might be ready to spring up early to face the new and brighter day.
Such was the wonder of light and its power over man, and it is not strange that he rejoiced in its beauty, lifting up hands of praise. The Dawn was the first Altar in the old Light Religion of the race. Sunrise was an hour of prayer, and sunset, with its soft farewell fires, was the hour of sacrifice. After all, religion is a Divine Poetry, of which creeds are prose versions. Gleams of this old Light religion shine all through Masonry, in its faith, in its symbols, and still more in its effort to organize the light of God in the Soul of Man.
Such a faith is in accord with all the poetries and pieties of the race. Light is the loveliest gift of God to man; it is the mother of beauty and the joy of the world. It tells man all that he knows, and it is no wonder that his speech about it is gladsome and grateful. Light is to the mind what food is to the body; it brings the morning, when the shadows flee away, and the loveliness of the world is
Also, there is a mystery in light. It is not matter, but a form of motion; it is not spirit, though is seems closely akin to it. Midway between the material and the spiritual, it is the gateway where matter and spirit pass and repass. Of all the glories in its gentleness, its benignity, its pity, falling with impartial benediction alike upon the just and the unjust, upon the splendour of wealth and the squalor of poverty.
Yes, God is light, and the mission of Masonry is to open the windows of the mind of man, letting the dim spark within us meet and blend with the light of God, in whom there is no darkness. There is "A Light That Lighteth Every Man That Cometh Into The World," as we learn in the Book of Holy Law; but too often it is made dim by evil, error and ignorance; until it seems well nigh to have gone out. Here now some of the most terrible words in the Bible: "Eyes they have, but they do not see." How many tragedies it explains, how many sorrows it accounts for.
Most of our bigotries and brutalities are due to blindness. Most of the cruel wrongs we inflict upon each other are the blows and blunders of the sightless. Othello was blinded by jealousy, Macbeth by ambition; as we are apt to be blinded by passion, prejudice or greed.
With merciful clarity Jesus saw that men do awful things without seeing what they do. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The pages of history are blacker than the hearts of the men that made the history. Man is not as wicked as the wrongs he has done. Unless we see this fact, much of the history of man will read like the records of hell - remembering the atrocities of the Inquisition, the terrors of the French Revolution, and the red horror of Russia. It is all a hideous nightmare - man stumbling and striking in the dark.
No, humanity is more blind than bad. In his play, "St. Joan," Shaw makes one of his characters say: "If you only saw what you think about, you would think quite differently about it. It would give you a great shock. I am not cruel by nature, but I did not know what cruelty was like. I have been a different man ever since." Alas, he did not see what he had done until the hoodwink had been taken off. More and more some of us divide men into two classes - those who see and those who do not see. The whole quality and meaning of life lies in what men see or fail to see. And what we see depends upon what we are. In the Book of the Holy Law the verb "to see" is close akin to the verb "to be," which is to teach us that character is the secret and source of insight. Virtue is vision; vice is blindness.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see god."
Thus our gentle Masonry, by seeking to "Bring Men to Light," not simply symbolically but morally and spiritually, is trying to lift the shadow of evil, ignorance and injustice off the life of man. It is a benign labor, to which we may well give the best that we are or hope to be, toiling to spread the skirts of light that we and all men may see what is true and do what is right.
What the sad world needs - what each of us needs - is more light, more love, more clarity of mind and more charity of heart; and this is what Masonry is trying to give us. Once we take it to heart, it will help us to see God in the face of our fellows, to see the power of a lie and its inherent weakness because it is false, to see the glory of truth and its final victory - to see these things is to be a Mason, to see these things is to be saved.
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The Importance of Gloves
Gloves are used and worn in many Lodges. In our own ritual, we are required to wear white gloves, something we rarely do and which I hope more of us will do. So why do we wear white gloves? We know that white, like the color of our aprons, represents purity. By using gloves, we show that every action we take should also be as pure. The Templars, for example, knew three classes: the knights, the sergeants, and the Clerics. Clerics were priests who acted as Chaplains to the order, and wore gloves at all times, to keep their hands clean for "when they touch God” in serving mass.
Gloves are also seen as a symbol of power. Its first application were probably more for military use, as the carrying of heavy weapons such as spears and axes, required a stronger grip. Hence, giving someone a pair of gloves meant giving them certain powers. Kings and Queens were given gloves as part of their coronation ceremony. As part of the ceremony making priests Bishops, a glove is bestowed on them like other high clergy, and they often have oversized rings made to wear over the glove. The right hand glove has often been given a special meaning, as it is a custom to remove the glove when approaching a person of higher rank, an Altar or the Lord - it symbolizes disarming oneself before one’s superiors, and since the right hand pertains to the voice and to the rationale side of Man, it is a custom which suggests candor and the frank disclosure of one's mind.
The Knights Hospitallers burned their gloves to prevent them from being used for profane purposes.
Gloves therefore exhibit a duality. It protects (the hands) but can also symbolize destruction (for it can better carry weapons and the like). In court etiquette, if a gentleman gave a lady perfumed gloves, and she accepted, it established a special relationship between the two. On the other hand, condemnation was signified by the throwing of one’s gloves, as medieval judges did by throwing their gloves to convicts.
Commonly in French and German Masonry, a newly made Mason is given not one, but two pairs of gloves - one for himself to "perform his work in the Lodge", but the other for his wife or women he most esteems, who shares in his understandings and labors of life.
In 1780, having been “given the light” at the Amalia with the Three Roses Lodges in Weimar, Goethe sent a pair of gloves to Madame de Stein with a letter containing the following words: “ Here is a rather modest present, but is one that a man can give only once in his life.”
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Freemasonry in society
On his initiation, the Brethren are assured that the candidate is 'living in good repute amongst his friends and neighbours.' He is therefore, or should be, a peaceable and law-abiding citizen who gets on well with others. A little later on, the candidate affirms that he comes 'with a preconceived notion of the excellence of the Order, a desire for knowledge and wishing to make himself more extensively useful amongst his fellow men.' Later again, on being charged, he is told that the foundation of Freemasonry is 'the practice of every social and moral virtue.' He is exhorted to learn how to discharge his duty to his God, his neighbour and himself, to be an exemplary citizen and that, as an individual, he should practise every domestic as well as public virtue and maintain those truly Masonic characteristics, benevolence and brotherly love.
Following his second degree, he is told that he should 'not only assent to the principles of the Craft, but steadily persevere in their practice.' Finally, following his third degree, he is told that 'his own behaviour should afford the best example for the conduct of others.'
Later still, at the peak of his Craft career, on being installed in the Chair of his Lodge, he consents to a comprehensive list of instructions as to his attitude and behaviour. All in all, the entire underlying principle is that by entering Freemasonry and by his acceptance and practice of its tenets and precepts he should become a credit to himself and an example to, and benefactor of, others.
It is expected and hoped that Freemasonry will bring about this state of affairs but that, in his daily life, a Freemason will interact with others as an individual and not in his capacity as a Freemason. Freemasonry is therefore an intellectual and philosophic exercise designed and intended to make an individual's contribution to society, and development of self, greater than they might otherwise have been had he not had the opportunity of extending his capacities and capabilities through membership of the Order.
What Does Freemasonry Provide?
Election to membership of a Lodge and initiation into that Lodge are an overt indication and confirmation of one's worth or value; and recognition of such, by the Brethren. In itself, this should increase self-esteem and hopefully generate a conscious or sub-conscious desire to prove worthy of others' confidence and trust. Subsequent promotions through the second and third degrees are symbolic of the Brethren demonstrating their satisfaction that their original choice and decision were correct and that the candidate is worthy, both innately and by virtue of his zeal, interest and proficiency in the symbolic Craft, for such promotions. These additional and consequent marks of esteem should engender in the candidate further personal satisfaction and selfconfidence.
The Lodge teaches many skills, often untaught, or not experienced, elsewhere. A Brother must speak in public, think on his feet, make decisions, vote on issues, and chair meetings. These are invaluable assets in all other aspects of his life and for many this may well be the only opportunity of learning, practising and perfecting these skills and techniques.
Is Freemasonry a Charity?
Freemasonry is not a Charity, but as in any fraternal setting, the need of a Brother or his dependents, will receive the sympathy and support of his Brethren, not always or necessarily, financial. Charity is a natural off-shoot of Brotherly Love and is promoted explicitly in the Masonic ethos, but it is not the 'raison d'etre' of the Order.
The Purpose of Freemasonry
The purpose of Masonry is 'self-improvement'-not in the material sense, but in the intellectual, moral and philosophic sense of developing the whole persona and psyche so as, in the beautiful and emotive language of the ritual, 'to fit ourselves to take our places, as living stones, in that great spiritual building, not made by hands, eternal in the Heavens.' Such a hypothetical whole, developed, complete person must, in his journey through life, and in his interaction with others, make a more extensive contribution to society in general, thus realizing and fulfilling his expressed wish on initiation, to become 'more extensively useful amongst his fellow-men.' Such are the lofty, lawful and laudable aspirations of the Order.
As world changes happen faster, and in more complex and unpredictable ways, our natural needs for security, control, certainty and predictability- are being undermined. This type of environment is a breeding ground for what is now termed the 'Achilles Syndrome' where more and more people who are, in fact, high-achievers, suffer from a serious lack of self-esteem-men apparently more so than women. This is gleaned from an article on the work of Petruska Clarkson, a consultant chartered counsellor and clinical psychologist.
Dr. Donal Murray, former Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin and now Bishop of Limerick, identifies 'a hunger which is not being satisfied. People need to feel they belong; they need to feel they can be fully committed to something. The prevailing mood, in Ireland and elsewhere, is one of disillusionment and cynicism. We have come to see ourselves as living in a world of institutions and structures-we think of ourselves as belonging not to a country but to an economy; we think of our national life and resources in terms of statistics and of the machinery of Government, rather than of people and culture.'
Dr. Murray goes on to say 'it is increasingly presumed that the ideal citizen possesses no strong religious or moral beliefs, or at least has the decency not to intrude them into the public arena. Strong moral beliefs are, we are told, divisive; religious belief is, at best, embarrassing. In other words,' he continues, 'one is not meant to participate in national life with one's whole self, with one's religious beliefs and moral convictions. These are private matters. We are in danger of trying to build a culture which regards as irrelevant the very realities which make people tick. Divisiveness results only when religion and morality are misunderstood. The individual conscience is worthy of respect because it seeks the truth, as every human being is obliged to do.'
Freemasons will hardly fail to notice these references to ethics, morality and truth the very foundation of Masonic teaching and endeavour. But these cultural jewels-without-price are coming under increasingly powerful destructive forces which are eroding the foundation and base on which they rest. Conor Cruise O'Brien-a distinguished Statesman and commentator-says that 'for as far back as we can go in history, human discourse concerning ethics has been infected, in varying degrees, with hypocrisy.' Another commentator states that the term 'business ethics' is fast becoming an oxymoron-that is a contradiction in terms; and the Bishop of Waterford felt it necessary to denounce publicly 'the Cult of Excessive Individualism.'
What is needed, in all this, is some form of mental sheet-anchor-a. sort of fixed navigational point like the pole-star which, when the clouds pass, can be seen and provides the traveller with the means to identify his exact position and thereby the knowledge to return to the true path.
Freemasonry - A Part of, or Apart from, Society
Every individual, on occasion, is forced to be a little introspective and ask himself 'who am I and where am I? Even an organization such as the Masonic Order must also occasionally ask itself 'what are we and where are we'? What we are has, to some extent already been dealt with. We are a fraternal organization, the aims of which are brotherly love, the relief of our distressed Brethren and their dependents and the search after 'Truth' which we may express as, and expand into, public and private morality, the knowledge and fear of God and, following on from that, respect for, and love of, our neighbour. This respect includes toleration of his personal viewpoint, his religious beliefs and his political opinions. If we pursue the aims of the Order, our search should widen, yet focus our vision, while ever making us more deeply aware of, and closer to, the Great Architect of the Universe, heightening our spirituality and deepening our insight into that which we may never hope fully to understand-and something like the search after the mystic Grail as sought for, and fought for, by our possible, even probable operative forebears, the Knights Templar who followed on, in their own way, from the mythical Knights of the Grail Romances and Arthurian Legend. There is so much more to Freemasonry than the shallow depth of today's assessment and its scant inspection by today's society, obsessed as society is with material success for the individual rather than his contribution to society.
Into the Next Millennium
I have endeavoured to identify who we are, what we are and where we are-now it is time to speculate on where we go from here. We are an unfashionable group whose numbers are falling-not perhaps in the developing countries, but in the developed world we are viewed as an anachronism with an ethos which may represent an embarrassment to many of today's moral lepers. 'Whence comest thou Gehazi'? You will remember Elisha's devastating question to his servant who had run after Naaman, seeking to profit from his Master's-that is, someone else's performance and use of his talents.
As those who joined Freemasonry in great numbers after the Second World War, because they found it the closest alternative or substitute for the fellowship and support they found within the Forces, now pass on to their reward, there is no surge of candidates to replace them. So recruitment becomes a necessity, though the means and emphasis must be very carefully gauged.
We must try to correct the false perception of us by, in particular, the media and the Churches for they are the agencies who can and do formulate and direct public opinion; and both are highly suspicious and/or antagonistic.
What I am trying to emphasise is that as we move into the next millennium we must be steadfast in our adherence to the Aims and Principles and not attempt to obtain public acceptance through promoting or pursuing non-Masonic activities which can only, in the long term, prove our undoing. We must be patient and bide our time for we will come again. I have heard it said that the pace of life and its stresses will get even more frenetic than at present and that while we may be able to cope with this intellectually, it is questionable if many can cope with it emotionally. In these circumstances with the Internet bombarding us with a Quatermass-like availability of ethical and unethical information in the privacy of our own homes, I believe that Brother Michael Yaxley, President of the Board of General Purposes of the Grand Lodge of Tasmania is quite correct when he writes 'Society does have a need for a body such as Freemasonry. I believe that this need will increase rather than decrease. In the next century the work place will not offer fellowship and camaraderie sufficient to satisfy the social instincts that people have. Many people will work at home, linked to the office by computer and telephone. Others will work in an office with complex but nevertheless inanimate equipment. The irony of the Age of Communication is that people spend, and will spend, more time by themselves.'
As the American writer, Henry Adams saw it, 'The Indian Summer of Life should be a little sunny and a little sad, and infinite in wealth and depth of tonejust like the season.'
I think that pretty closely describes Freemasonry today-a little sunny and infinite in wealth and depth of tone-we all can sympathise with that. A little sad too with memories of past greatness; and quieter more settled times when bogeymen were not found everywhere and Freemasonry was a recognised, accepted and fashionable part of society. Will our time come again? I think it will-not perhaps an exact replica of the past, for we cannot turn back the clock, but a slimmer, trimmer version with new vigour and enthusiasm ready to meet the new millennium.
But remember, Brethren, as we enter and endure 'the Winter of our discontent' we must maintain our standards and our dignity. There can be no compromise with quality in any facet of our Institution. One of Ireland's greatest actors and one of its best-known characters, Michael Mac Liammoir, was once accused by a critic of being ,square. ' 'Yes' said Mac Liammoir, 'perhaps you are right, but so much better to be square than shapeless.' How appropriate for Freemasonry at this time-let us hold firm to the symbolism of the square and the compasses and let them be the means of restoring Ordo ab Chao - order out of mental and moral chaos--as we strive to readjust emotionally to the crushing pressures and stress of modem life.
Now Brethren, let me close on one final exhortation taken from the beautiful language of our ritual - 'See that you conduct yourselves, out of Lodge as in Lodge, good men and Masons'; and remember those immortal words of Polonius giving advice to his son Laertes as he departs from Denmark, on his return to France, in Shakespeare's greatest play, Hamlet 'This above all, to thine own self be true; and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.'
Almost the entire Masonic ethos can be found in those few words-so easy to remember, so difficult to put into practice.
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Praying in Lodge
Critics of Freemasonry often ask, "Do Masons worship Yahweh, the God of the Bible, when they join in Masonic worship with Hindus, Moslems, and members of other faiths?" Let me begin by pointing out that this question suggests "worship" occurs in Lodge meetings. This question is intended to set a certain bias against Masonry before the question is seriously considered. Worship does not take place in Masonic Lodge meetings. Worship is the function of a religion. Thomas E. Hager, Past Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee, said in an April 22, 1994, letter to Baptist Press , the official press service for the Southern Baptist Convention, "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for a religion." Earl D. Harris, Past Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, has clearly said, "We do not go to Lodge buildings to worship" (Masonic Messenger, July 1995, p. 34). Lodge meetings might be compared to business meetings held in some churches where minutes of the last meeting are read, bills are paid, and old and new business are addressed.
The question is a great example of a "circular argument." This logical fallacy begins with the conclusion: that Masonic meetings are worship services where men professing various faiths join together to worship a God other than "Yahweh, the God of the Bible." The argument simply travels around in circles until it comes back to its original statement, concluding that Masons worship a God other than Yahweh (or Jehovah).
Praying in Lodge Meetings
Prayers voiced in Lodge meetings do not make the meeting a worship service. If so, then sessions of the U.S. Congress would be "worship services" as a chaplain or invited clergy leads in prayer to open the session. Congress has been accused of many things, but never of holding worship services. If prayers make a meeting a worship service, the same criticism could be levelled against organizations such as the Lions Club, the Boy Scouts, and the VFW.
Until recent years, prayers were offered at high school ball games by clergy in the community. Courts have repeatedly ruled that prayers may not be offered before such events. Critics complain that "God has been taken out of public school" because prayers may not be given by administrators or visiting clergy at the beginning of a school day. Students, however, are allowed to pray on their own initiative, either alone or with other students who wish to join them in prayer. Masons alone have been singled out by critics for praying in meetings while these same critics complain that the official prayers are not allowed in public schools.
Praying in Jesus' Name
Some Masonic critics are not opposed to prayer in Lodge or other meetings, even when non-Christians are present, but are opposed to the prayer when it does not conclude with the specific words, "in the name of Christ." They cite John 14:13-14, where Jesus said to his disciples, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask for anything, I will do it" (NRSV).
Bailey Smith, a recent president of the Southern Baptist Convention, made headlines in 1980 when he said God does not hear the prayers of a Jew. Smith's position and that of Masonic critics is that God only hears prayers ending with "in Jesus' name" or prayers of repentance.
Preschool-age children are taught to pray simple prayers. They seldom end it with the phrase "in Jesus' name" and most have not made what evangelical Christians call a profession of repentance and faith in Christ. Do Masonic critics believe God hears the prayers of these children? Are we misleading children when we tell them God hears their prayers? I believe God hears the prayers of every sincere person, and I do not think we are misleading children when we tell them God hears and answers their prayers.
It was drilled into my head by my professors during seven years of theological education that a correct interpretation of a biblical text requires examination of the surrounding text, which often helps an individual understand the text in question.
John 14:13-14 can be better understood if we examine the setting for Jesus' statements. Although his disciples had been with him for nearly three years, they still had doubts about him. Philip asked him in John 14:8, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." That is the key verse to understand Jesus' teaching in John 14:13-14.
Jesus responded to Philip's question, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say 'Show us the Father'?'
When Jesus said in verses 13-14, "1 will do whatever you ask in my name," he was claiming deity. He was saying, "God will hear your prayers if you pray in my name because "I am in the Father and the Father is in me."
Jesus did not mean that unless a person concludes his prayers with the words, "in the name of Jesus," God would not hear nor answer prayers.
William W. Stevens, my theology professor at Mississippi College, wrote in his Doctrines of the Christian Religion (1976), "'In my name' means according to his will and purpose, in direct union with him. It implies unity of thought and interest. One cannot pray in the name of Jesus and pray selfishly" (p. 269).
The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Vol. 9, p. 146) says, "Me phrase 'in my name,' however, is not a talisman [magic object] for the command of supernatural energy. He did not wish it to be used as a magical charm like an Aladdin's lamp."
Men look on the outward appearance and judge others by the words used in a prayer (Matthew 6:5-8). God looks at the heart. He knows what we need before we ask. If the prayer is a genuine desire to talk to the Father of all creation, He will hear and answer the prayer, whatever words are or are not used. That is the kind of God I know from my reading of the Bible and from hours spent on my knees talking to Him.
During my ministry as a chaplain supervisor in the Olympic Village during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, chaplain volunteers from six major world faiths joined together in prayer every day. Chaplains rotated leading the group in prayer. Out of respect for chaplains who did not share our faith, we did not always verbally close our prayers "in Jesus' name."
Rev. James Draper, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's LifeWay Christian Resources (formerly the Sunday School Board), resigned from Estelle Lodge No. 582 in Euless, Texas, in 1984 after election for his second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and as the Masonic controversy was heating up in the SBC. He had transferred his membership from Dell City Lodge No. 536 in Oklahoma when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Euless. In his letter of resignation, Draper, who served one year as chaplain of his Lodge, said he always concluded his prayers "in Jesus' name."
Praying to The Great Architect of the Universe
Masonic critics have long and loudly argued that Masons do not pray to Yahweh when they pray in Masonic Lodges. Masonic critic William Schnoebelen refers to the "generic" god of Masonry, "God-to-the-lowest-denominator" and "Mr. Potato-Head God" when speaking of the Great Architect of the Universe (Masonry: Beyond the Light, pp. 44-46).
Another critic, John Ankerberg, quotes from Coil's Masonic Encyclopaedia to argue that Masons believe Yahweh (or Jehovah) is inferior to "the universal god of Masonry" (The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, pp. 113-14). Ankerberg's quote is not in the 1995 edition of Coil's Masonic Encyclopaedia, the most recent edition, except for a single sentence, "The Masonic test is [belief in] a Supreme Being, and any qualification added is an innovation and distortion." This sentence is simply a requirement that men who desire to become Masons must believe in one God (monotheism). Monotheism is affirmed in biblical statements such as Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, 0 Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" No statement in Coil's Masonic Encyclopaedia suggests that Masons believe Yahweh is an inferior God.
The phrase Great Architect of the Universe came into Freemasonry as early as 1723, according to Coil's Masonic Encyclopaedia, when it appeared in James Anderson's Book of Constitutions. Anderson, a Scottish Presbyterian minister in London, did not invent the phrase. It was repeatedly used by Reformed theologian John Calvin (1509-1564). "In his Commentary on Psalm 19, Calvin states the heavens 'were wonderfully founded by the Great Architect.' Again, according to the same paragraph, Calvin writes 'when once we recognize God as the Architect of the Universe, we are bound to marvel at his Wisdom, Strength, and Goodness.' In fact, Calvin repeatedly calls God 'the Architect of the Universe' and refers to his works in nature as 'Architecture of the Universe' 10 times in the Institutes of the Christian Religion alone" (Coil's Masonic Encyclopaedia, p. 516). If we accept the logic of Masonic critics, then Calvin must have believed the God revealed in the Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible is a false god. This, of course, is absurd, as are all of the Masonic critics' arguments.
Federal Reserve Notes ($1 bills) proclaim "In God We Trust." The U.S. Mint has not defined "God." It is used as a generic name for the Supreme Being. Individuals may define God as they wish. In our religiously diverse nation, individuals of different faiths will define who they believe God is. I do not hear people calling for the removal of "In God We Trust" from Federal Reserve Notes because not everyone defines God as they do.
Praying with Persons of Other Faiths
On February 9, 1999, Baptist Press posted a story about several Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary administrators and faculty members visiting mosques while on a trip to North Africa and the Middle East. Baptist Press states the administrators and faculty "were awed by the mosques which provided an atmosphere for prayer. Though the local worshipers gathered to pray to Allah [the Arabic word for God], Midwestern groups removed their shoes [as is the custom in mosques] and spent time praying to the God of their Christian faith."
Mark Coppenger, president of Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, was one of the Baptist visitors to the mosques. Coppenger said, "As we sat, and knelt, and stood [Muslims perform specific rituals which includes standing, kneeling and bowing while praying to Allah] in these moments of praise, confession, petition and intercession, it occurred to us that Christians would do well to have a similar location, atmosphere and posture for prayer." "It is a pity that non-Christians and sacra mentalists [Roman Catholics] have appropriated the notion of houses of prayer, when ours is the heritage of orthodox prayer," Coppenger continued, referring to mosques and Roman Catholic cathedrals and retreat centres. "We have let them lead in an emphasis on prayer by default."
When the group returned to Kansas City, Coppenger decided to provide a place for prayer similar to that in mosques for seminary students. He removed hundreds of portable chairs from the chapel and laid down rolls of carpet. Students were asked to remove their shoes when they entered the "house of prayer," and a kneeling position was recommended.
Coppenger, his administrators, and faculty joined Muslims at prayer in a mosque. They reported they were able to pray to Yahweh even while Muslims were praying to God whom they call Allah. Coppenger and his team even followed the Muslim practice of bowing, kneeling, and prostrating themselves during the prayer ritual and still found they could pray to Yahweh. I have never felt I could not pray as my chosen faith leads me while standing next to someone in a Lodge meeting who does not share my faith.
Freemasons Do Not Worship in Lodge Meetings
In conclusion, Masons do not worship in Lodge meetings. Each Mason freely prays as his faith dictates, regardless of who is leading the group prayer, because prayer is ultimately a personal encounter and conversation between a man and his Creator.
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An old Greek philosopher, when asked what he regarded as the most valuable quality to win and the most difficult to keep, he replied: "To be Secret and Silent." If secrecy was difficult in the olden times, it is doubly difficult today, in the loud and noisy world in which we live, where privacy is almost unknown.
Secrecy is, indeed, a priceless but rare virtue, so little effort is made to teach and practice it. The world of today is a whispering gallery where everything is heard, a hall of mirrors where nothing is hid. If the ancient worshipped a God of silence, we seem about to set up an Altar to the God of Gossip.
Some one has said that if Masonry did no more than train its men to preserve sacredly the secrets of others confided to them as such - except where a higher duty demands disclosure - it would be doing a great work, and one which not only justifies its existence, but entitles it to the respect of mankind.
Anyway, no Mason needs to be told the value of secrecy.
Without it, Masonry would cease to exist, or else become something so different from what it is as to be unrecognizable. For that reason, if no other, the very first lesson taught a candidate, and impressed upon him at every turn in unforgettable ways, is the duty of secrecy. Yet, strictly speaking, Masonry is not a secret society, if by that we mean a society whose very existence is hidden.
Everybody knows that the Masonic Fraternity exists, and no effort is made to hide that fact. Its organization is known; its Temples stand in our cities; its members are proud to be know as Masons. Anyone may obtain from the records of a Grand Lodge, if not from the printed reports of Lodges, the names of the members of the Craft. Nor can it be said that Masonry has any secret truth to teach, unknown to the best wisdom of the race.
Most of the talk about esoteric Masonry misses the mark. When the story is told the only secret turns out to be some odd theory, some fanciful philosophy, of no real importance. The wisdom of Masonry is hidden, not because it is subtle, but because it is simple. Its secret is profound, not obscure.
As in mathematics, there are primary figures, and in music fundamental notes, upon which everything rests, so Masonry is built upon the broad, deep, lofty truths upon which life itself stands. It lives, moves, and has its being in those truths. They are mysteries, indeed, as life and duty and death are mysteries; to know them is to be truly wise; and to teach them in their full import is the ideal at which Masonry aims.
Masonry, then, is not a secret society; it is a private order. In the quiet of the tiled lodge, shut away from the noise and clatter of the world, in an air of reverence and friendship, it teaches us the truths that make us men, upon which faith and character must rest if they are to endure the wind and weather of life. So rare is its utter simplicity that to many it is as much a secret as though it were hid behind a seven-fold veil, or buried in the depths of the earth.
What is the secret in Masonry? The "Method" of its teaching, the atmosphere it creates, the spirit it breaths into our hearts, and the tie it spins and weaves between men; in other words, the lodge and its ceremonies and obligations, its signs. tokens and words - its power to evoke what is most secret and hidden in the hearts of men. No one can explain how this is done.
We only know that it is done, and guard as a priceless treasure the method by which it is wrought. It is the fashion of some to say that our ceremonies, signs and tokens are of little value; but it is not true. They are of profound importance, and we cannot be too careful in protecting them from profanation and abuse. The famous eulogy of the signs and tokens of Masonry by Benjamin Franklin was not idle eloquence. It is justified by the facts, and ought to be known and remembered:
"These signs and tokens are of no small value; they speak a universal language, and act as a password to the attention and support of the initiated in all parts of the world. They cannot be lost so long as memory retains its power. Let the possessor of them be expatriated, ship-wrecked or imprisoned; let him be stripped of everything he has in the world; still these credentials remain and are available for use as circumstances require.
"The great effects which they have produced are established by the most incontestable facts of history. They have stayed the uplifted hand of the Destroyer; they have softened the aspirates of the tyrant; they have mitigated the horrors of captivity; they have subdued the rancor of malevolence; and broken down the barriers of political animosity and sectarian alienation.
"On the field of battle, in the solitude of the uncultivated forests, or in the busy haunts of the crowded city, they have made men of the most hostile feelings, and most distant religions, and the most diversified conditions, rush to the aid of each other, and feel a social joy and satisfaction that they have been able to afford relief to a brother Mason."
What is equally true, and no less valuable, is that in the ordinary walks of everyday life they unite men and hold them together in a manner unique and holy. They open a door out of the loneliness in which every man lives. They form a tie uniting us to help one another, and others, in ways too many to name or count. They form a net-work of fellowship, friendship, and fraternity around the world. They add something lovely and fine to the life of each of us, without which we should be poorer indeed.
Still let us never forget that it is the spirit that gives life; the letter alone is empty. An old home means a thousand beautiful things to those who were brought up in it. Its very scenery and setting are sacred. The ground on which it stands is holy. But if a stranger buys it, these sacred things mean nothing to him. The spirit is gone, the glory has faded. Just so with the lodge. If it were opened to the curious gaze of the world, its beauty would be blighted, its power gone.
The secret of Masonry, like the secret of life, can be known only by those who seek it, serve it and live it. It cannot be uttered; it can only be felt and acted. It is, in fact, an open secret, and each man knows it according to his quest and capacity. Like all the things most worth knowing, no one can know it for another and no one can know it alone. It is known only in fellowship, by the touch of life upon life, spirit upon spirit, knee to knee, breast to breast and hand to hand.
For that reason, no one need be alarmed about any book written to expose Masonry. It is utterly harmless. The real secret of Masonry cannot be learned by prying eyes or curious inquiry. We do well to protect the privacy of the lodge; but the secret of Masonry can be known only by those who are ready and worthy to receive it. Only a pure heart and an honest mind can know it, though they be adepts in all signs and tokens of every rite of the Craft.
Indeed, so far from trying to hide its secret, Masonry is all the time trying to give it to the world, in the only way in which it can be given, through a certain quality of soul and character which it labours to create and build up. To the making of men, helping self-discovery and self development, all the offices of Masonry are dedicated. It is a quarry in which the rough stones of manhood are polished for use and beauty.
If Masonry uses the illusion of secrecy, it is because it knows that it is the nature of man to seek what is hidden and to desire what is forbidden. Even God hides from us, that in seeking Him amid the shadows of life we may find both Him and ourselves. The man who does not care enough for God to seek Him will never find Him, though He is not far away from any one of us.
One who looks at Masonry in this way will find that his Masonic life is a great adventure. It is a perpetual discovery. There is something new at every turn, something new in himself as life deepens with the years; something new in Masonry as its meaning unfolds. The man who finds its degrees tedious and its Ritual a rigmarole only betrays the measure of his own mind.
If a man knows God and man to the uttermost, even Masonry has nothing to teach him. As a fact the wisest man knows very little. The way is dim and no one can see very far. We are seekers after truth, and God has so made us that we cannot find the truths alone, but only in the love and service of our fellow men. Here is the real secret, and to learn it is to have the key to the meaning and joy of life.
Truth is not a gift; it is a trophy. To know it we must be true, to find it we must seek, to learn it we must be humble; and to keep it we must have a clear mind, a courageous heart, and the brotherly love to use it in the service of man.
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The call has gone out, near and far, that the kingdom is in trouble. You would think the Saracens were at the threshold ready to beat down the door. The Generals are all in a tither, the engineers are labouring over their plans, the Bishops are whipping the people up into a frenzy. "More members, More members!!!"; the chant has begun. And if all goes well, we will soon have an army of strapping young men ready to go...to where?...for what?
If we are bringing in new members to "save Masonry" or to keep our lodges from "going under" then we are not only doing a disservice to the new members, but in the long-run we are hurting ourselves by diverting our resources to the wrong front.
It takes time and energy to give degrees to these new members. And most of the time, it's the same brethren who show up to give the degrees as showed up in the 1940's & '50's. Where are the others? Home asleep? Yes, and why shouldn't they, they might as well sleep in their own bed rather than on a hard lodge pew.
From the '40's to the mid '50's Masonry just about tripled in membership in many states; now its about where it was back in the '40's again. Have any of our Masonic teachings changed during this rise and fall? Has the need for our teachings changed? Have all those men who became Masons died? Where are they?
If every Mason moved out of his mother state, then other Masons would be moving in...then gain and loss should be about equal...unless they are simply not coming back to lodge at all. Thus, a successful Masonic membership revival may give us another 20 year surge, but unless we fortify our real substance, the Saracens will defeat us by the thousands, rather than by the hundreds.
What is our substance? It is our teaching and philosophy. Our Ritual. We have depth. We have myth. We are unique from every other fraternity. We are the oldest and we have carried with us the best from the past and we preserve it for the future. And it doesn't take thousands to do this; only a few of the best.
Allow me to recant a myth from the Crusades, known to our Masonic Knights Templar affiliates. In 1118 an order was created by Hugh de Payens known as 'The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon'. This order took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; devoting themselves to the military protection of Christian pilgrims from bandits and of course the dreaded Saracens.
They vowed never to retreat from battle lest they were out-numbered three to one. For nine years their heroic fame and adventures grew to mythical proportions inspiring all of Europe. There were only eight of them.
In my home state of Illinois there are over 115,000 Masons. That's 15,000 more members than the original army amassed for the First Crusade. I don't think the issue and concern should be over more members, but better membership by those already within. Maybe the value of a vow has changed since 1118.
Those original eight Templars had depth, they had an internal heroic myth that gave them strength and immortality. Maybe it's because there is no threat of a 'Mad Caliph' riding horse-back through our backyards that we aren't motivated to 'amass' into our lodge temples. It's easier to sleep and watch television. Talking about the 'old days' while complaining about the new.
Well in the 'old days' one would have their head struck off by now. While we talk about using new media to 'reach' new members, we forget our old substance, our identity. How can so many be so involved in bringing in new members into a system they hardly adhere to?
What do you think would have happened in the days of Hugh de Payens, the first Grand Master, if more than two thirds of the army refused to report? And this is what happened here in Illinois in 1992. Only 200 of 676 lodges bothered to send in their trestle board as directed by the Grand Master, most in open rebellion.
There are many opinions about the state of Masonry and which remedy would do best. But making a mockery of the lessons of the third degree isn't what's called for. One might as well throw a brick at our Grand Masters' head for all the respect our state has given him. We must remember that this office exists because ultimately we want someone to lead. But if we disagree with him, it is dishonourable to walk off the battle-field.
As 'Master' Masons, we are leaders. We have been given the tools to lead and are taught valuable lessons about leadership. Many of us have become Masters of our lodge, an opportunity to achieve experiences in leadership. But do we lead? If so, to where?
The vary nature of our order has its roots in the heart. The journey begins in the heart and ends in the heart. By this is meant the internal. The Knights of old stood above the common soldier because their inner myth, their belief. We must stand erect in our many stations, and this is no easy thing. For some, it may even be heroic. How can one lead in an internal journey...? By example.
We must discover the myth within Masonry, learn from it, and live by it. We must believe in it, and pass it on, as our flame and light. This process excludes the measure of numbers and media events, for the inner myth is very different from the outer draping put on by those who sell the craft. Masonry is not a commodity to be sold by advertising/media and public relations specialists. For which aspect will they use for a gimmick?
Would they promote that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons? Not true, only a few were. That x number of presidents have been Masons; partially true, most were only honorary not having taken a single degree.
That the fellows from the Boston Tea Party were Masons and that Masonry has played a large part in the formation of this country; not so, for Masonry has never recommended any particular political activity and the Tea Party enthusiasts acted as individuals, not as a lodge (they knew better). The only truth in these things is that Masonry promotes leadership.
Lets not even bring up the hundred different external myths about the beginnings of Masonry which have been used to sell Masonry to the masses in the past, each story gets better per telling. I have even heard that Masons have been hoarding and disseminating the vast wealth of the Templars for centuries and that's why so many are so rich.
How about the one that says that Masons give a million and a half dollars a day to charity!? When was this, in 1955? I think that's when they started saying that. Once the ball starts rolling, its hard to stop.
Lets return to the heart of the matter, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth; and to the Virtues. These things are found within and are shared within. How many Master Masons can even remember the Brothers that were there the night they were raised, do you know where they are now? When you lost contact, did it concern you? Have you tried to look them up? Did they pass on, did you even know?
They were the men that for a time took you in as one of their own. Accepted you as a brother and shared their table with you. This is a matter of the heart, it was never meant to be a social event. Sociability and charity should be fruits of good Masonry, not the ends. If you never knew this experience, then you never found nor lived the great Masonic myth and you will not receive your wages.
I am not against there being more Masons, but the health of Masonry should not be measured by its numbers. For while less Masons do not imply a higher quality, likewise, neither do more Masons imply well-being. Measure not by number, but by 'understanding'. Do we as Masons comprehend what has been given to us from the past? There are quite a few symbols and allegories that have been handed down to us from antiquity.
Have we made them a part of our lives? Enough to go out and teach others? Are we prepared to change the paths of other men in the world into our craft? Who and why? Where will they be led? Just some and not others? Which ones? Who will we reject or can just about anyone enter anymore? Who shall we deprive of what we have or is the value of what we have not that important? Wouldn't the Moose or Elks serve a better vehicle for simple association? Are the tenets of Masonry really the first thing on our minds? It must also be realized that not everyone agrees with what is in the depths of our teachings.
All rhetoric aside, I think that public relations methods as proposed by so many these days are good. Radio interviews, video tapes, books, pamphlets for wives, in fact, all forms of communications are good for Masons to reaffirm and deepen Masonic self-discovery, and are good for the non-Masonic general public. But it is so easy to get lost in this external panorama of activities; caught between the depth of self-discovery and the song and dance of self-explanation to others.
We must constantly ask why we are bringing in a new member into our lodges. While our teachings are ethical and moral, they are not evangelical. For generations we have resisted hook and crook techniques of bringing in new Brethren. "They must first ask...of their own freewill and accord" has always been the hallmark of Masons. A matter of pride. While we revere the bible, we are not 'bible-thumpers' standing on street corners. And the more we stand in the public eye, be aware that the anti-Masonic attacks will also increase.
Well I think I hear the hoof-beats of the Saracens coming over the hill, I had better Fortify with great Prudence. We have quite a few of those new 'strapping youths' to train before they arrive. I hope I have enough time to get to know them before the "demise of Masonry". Perhaps one day there will only be one lodge left in all the world, and if they have truly assimilated all the teachings of Masonry, I'll bet they will never go out of existence - let alone be intimidated by a few hundred thousand Saracens.
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So Mote it be!
How familiar the phrase is. No Lodge is ever opened or closed, in due form, without using it. Yet how few know how old it is, much less what a deep meaning it has in it. Like so many old and lovely things, it is so near to us that we do not see it.
As far back as we can go in the annals of the Craft we find this old phrase. Its form betrays its age. The word MOTE is an Anglo-Saxon word, derived from an anomalous verb, MOTAN. Chaucer uses the exact phrase in the same sense in which we use it, meaning "So May It Be." It is found in the Regius Poem, the oldest document of the Craft, just as we use it today.
As everyone knows, it is the Masonic form of the ancient AMEN which echoes through the ages, gathering meaning and music as it goes until it is one of the richest and most haunting of words. At first only a sign of assent, on the part either of an individual or of an assembly, to words of prayer or praise, it has become to stand as a sentinel at the gateway of silence.
When we have uttered all that we can utter, and our poor words seem like ripples on the bosom of the unspoken, somehow this familiar phrase gathers up all that is left - our dumb yearnings, our deepest longings - and bears them aloft to One who understands. In some strange way it seems to speak for us into the very ear of God the things for which words were never made.
So, naturally, it has a place of honour among us. At the marriage Altar it speaks its blessing as young love walks toward the bliss or sorrow of hidden years. It stands beside the cradle when we dedicate our little ones to the Holy life, mingling its benediction with our vows. At the grave side it utters its sad response to the shadowy AMEN which death pronounces over our friends.
When, in our turn, we see the end of the road, and would make a last will and testament, leaving our earnings and savings to those whom we love, the old legal phrase asks us to repeat after it: "In The Name Of God, AMEN." And with us, as with Gerontius in his Dream, the last word we hear when the voices of earth grow faint and the silence of God covers us, is the old AMEN, So Mote It Be.
How impressively it echoes through the Book of Holy Law. We hear it in the Psalms, as chorus answers to chorus, where it is sometimes reduplicated for emphasis. In the talks of Jesus with his friends it has a striking use, hidden in the English version. The oft-repeated phrase, "Verily, Verily I Say Unto You," if rightly translated means, AMEN, AMEN, I say unto you." Later, in the Epistles of Paul, the word AMEN becomes the name of Christ, who is the AMEN of God to the
faith of man.
So, too, in the Lodge, at opening, at closing, and in the hour of initiation. No Mason ever enters upon any great or important undertaking without invoking the aid of Deity. And he ends his prayer with the old phrase, "So Mote It Be." Which is another way of saying: "The Will Of God Be Done." Or, whatever be the answer of God to his prayer: "So Be It - because it is wise and right.
What, then, is the meaning of this old phrase, so interwoven with all our Masonic lore, simple, tender, haunting? It has two meanings for us everywhere, in the Church, or in the Lodge. First, it is assent of man to the way and Will Of God; assent to His Commands; assent to His Providence, even when a tender, terrible stroke of death takes from us one much loved and leaves us forlorn.
Still, somehow, we must say:" So it is; so be it. He is a wise man, a brave man; who, baffled by the woes of life, when disaster follows fast and follows faster, can nevertheless accept his lot as a part of the Will of God and say, though it may almost choke him to say it: "So Mote It Be." It is not blind submission, nor dumb resignation, but a wise reconciliation to the Will of the Eternal.
The other meaning of the phrase is even more wonderful; it is the assent of God to the aspiration of man. Man can bear so much - anything, perhaps - if he feels that God knows, cares and feels for him and with him. If God says Amen, So it is, to our faith and hope and love; it links our perplexed meanings, and helps us to see, however dimly, or in a glass darkly, that there is a wise and good purpose in life, despite its sorrow and suffering, and that we are not at the mercy of Fate or the whim of Chance.
Does God speak to man, confirming his faith and hope? If so, how? Indeed yes! God is not the great I Was, but the great I Am, and He is neither deaf nor dumb. In Him we live and move and have our being - He Speaks to us in nature, in the moral law, and in our own hearts, if we have ears to hear. But He speaks most clearly in the Book of Holy Law which lies open upon our Alter.
Nor is that all. Some of us hold that the Word Of God "Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us, Full Of Grace and Truth," in a life the loveliest ever lived among men, showing us what life is, what it means, and to what fine issues it ascends when we do the Will of God on earth as it is done in Heaven, No one of us but grows wistful when he thinks of the life of Jesus, however far we fall below it.
Today men are asking the question: Does it do any good to pray? The man who actually prays does not ask such a question. As well ask if it does a bird any good to sing, or a flower to bloom? Prayer is natural and instinctive in man. We are made so. Man is made for prayer, as sparks ascending seek the sun. He would not need religious faith if the objects of it did not exist.
Are prayers ever answered? Yes, always, as Emerson taught us long ago. Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered - and that is as far as we need to go. The deepest desire, the ruling motive of a man, is his actual prayer, and it shapes his life after its form and colour. In this sense all prayer is answered, and that is why we ought to be careful what we pray for - because in the end we always get it.
What, then is the good of prayer? It makes us repose on the unknown with hope; it makes us ready for life. It is a recognition of laws and the thread of our conjunction with them. It is not the purpose of prayer to beg or make God do what we want done. Its purpose is to bring us to do the Will of God, which is greater and wiser than our will. It is not to use God, but to be used by Him in the service of His plan.
Can man by prayer change the Will of God? No, and Yes. True prayer does not wish or seek to change the larger Will of God, which involves in its sweep and scope the duty and destiny of humanity. But it can and does change the Will of God concerning us, because it changes our will and attitude towards Him, which is the vital thing in prayer for us.
For example, if a man living a wicked life, we know what the Will of God will be for him. All evil ways have been often tried, and we know what the end is, just as we know the answer to a problem in geometry. But if a man who is living wickedly changes his way of living and his inner attitude, he changes the Will of God - if not His Will, at least His Intention. That is, he attains what even the Divine Will could not give him and do for him unless it had been effected by His Will and Prayer.
The place of Prayer in Masonry is not perfunctory. It is not a mere matter of form and rote. It is vital and profound. As a man enters the Lodge as an initiate, prayer is offered for him, to God, in whom he puts his trust. Later, in a crisis of his initiation, he must pray for himself, orally or mentally as his heart may elect. It is not just a ceremony; it is basic in the faith and spirit of Masonry.
Still later, in a scene which no Mason ever forgets, when the shadow is darkest, and the most precious thing a Mason can desire or seek seems lost, in the perplexity and despair of the Lodge, a prayer is offered. As recorded in our Monitors, it is a mosaic of Bible words, in which the grim facts of life and death are set forth in stark reality, and appeal is made to the pity and light of God.
It is truly a great prayer, to join in which is to place ourselves in the very hands of God, as all must do in the end, trust His Will and way, following where no path is into the soft and fascinating darkness which men call death. And the response of the Lodge to that prayer, as to all others offered at its Altar, is the old, challenging phrase, "So Mote It Be!"
Brother, do not be ashamed to pray, as you are taught in the Lodge and the Church. It is a part of the sweetness and sanity of life, refreshing the soul and making clear the mind. There is more wisdom in a whispered prayer than in all the libraries of the world. It is not our business to instruct God. He knows what things we have need for before we ask him. He does not need our prayer, but we do - if only to make us acquainted with the best Friend we have.
The greatest of all teachers of the soul left us a little liturgy called the Lord's Prayer. He told us to use it each for himself, in the closet when the door is shut and the din and hum and litter of the world is outside. Try it Brother; it will sweeten life, make its load lighter, its joy brighter, and the way of duty plainer.
Two tiny prayers have floated down to us from ages agone, which are worth remembering; one by a great Saint, the other by two brothers. "Grant Me, Lord, ardently to desire, wisely to study, rightly to understand and perfectly to fulfill that which pleaseth Thee." And the second is after the manner: "May two brothers enjoy and serve Thee together, and so live today that we may be worthy to live tomorrow."
"SO MOTE IT BE"
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The Meaning of Blue
Symbolism and meaning of color is a very wide category of which numerous interpretations exist. However, throughout my research, the most relevant comments in my opinion are that blue stands for the vertical and the spatial, in other words height and depth, or the blue sky above, the blue sea below. It symbolizes that Masonry is as wide as these dimensions. It is also interesting to note that blue is considered to be "between black and white", also commonly identified with two opposing forces, good (white) and evil (black). Thus blue is considered the most neutral of all the colours. As Masons we are equal in our position with other members, regardless of colour, rank, title or any other status, and it is very appropriate that blue would represent this equality. We can also say that this world is the neutral area, and we seek a deeper world, for the higher you go to heaven, the darker the blue sky becomes. In the same way, the deeper you go in the blue ocean, the darker it becomes.
It is also commonly used to represent religious feeling, devotion and innocence. Blue was one of the primary colours used to adorn the Tabernacle (see Exodus 26:1). To the Egyptians, blue was used to represent truth. The Egyptians had two theories about the creation of the world; one, that was created by Thaut, who when he uttered any word caused the object to exist, and two, that it was the work of Ptah, The Great Artificer. Ptah's father was called Kneph, (also Cneph or Nef), and while many of the Egyptian Gods were adorned with different colors, Kneph is always depicted in blue. Kneph journeyed to the lower hemisphere, which appears to symbolize the evolutions of substances which are born to die and to be reborn. Isn't this similar to our belief in the immortality of the soul?
Blue is also considered the colour for the spirit and the intellect. Jesus teaches in a blue garment, and the Virgin Mary is usually depicted in a blue mantle, as is the Norse god Odin. Vishnu of ancient Indian mythology is blue, and one of his incarnations, Rama, is blue-skinned, symbolizing his vastness as deep as the heavens. In Europe, the Blue Flower was the symbol of the greatest aspiration of the spirit.
In French, the word "bleu" is used as a substitute for the word "Dieu", which means God, as swearing, was punishable in the Middle Ages by death. As such swear words such as "morbleu", "sacrebleu" and "parbleu" became popular substitutes in those times. The French royal family was associated with the colour blue, because blue was associated with a celestial origin, and the royal family, like many royal families, also claimed to stem from this origin. As such the royal family was referred to as "de sang bleu" or godly blood. Even today, a substitute expression for aristocracy is "blue blood".
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The letter G
Even a stranger, entering a Masonic Lodge Room, as he may do on a public occasion, must be struck by a mysterious Letter which hangs over the chair of the Master in the East. No one need tell him of its meaning; it is a letter of light and tells its own story.
Yet, no stranger can know its full meaning, much less how old it is. Indeed, few Masons are aware of all that it implies, either as a symbol or history. There it shines, a focus of faith and fellowship, the emblem of the Divine Presence in the Lodge, and in the heart of each Brother composing it.
When the Lodge is opened, the mind and heart of each member should also be opened to the meaning of the Great Symbol, to the intent that its light and truth may become the supreme reality in our lives. When the Lodge is closed, the memory of that Divine initial and its august suggestions ought to be the last thought retained in the mind , to be pondered over.
In English Lodges its meaning and use are made clearer than among us. There it shines in the center of the ceiling of the room, and the Lodge is grouped around it, rather than assembled beneath it. Below it is the checkerboard floor, symbol of the vicissitudes of life, over which hangs the whiter light of the divine guidance and blessing, so much needed in our mortal journey.
Also, in the Degrees its use is more impressive. In the First and Second degrees the symbol is visible in the roof, or sky, of the Lodge Room, like a benediction. In the Third Degree it is hidden, but its presence is still manifest - as every Masons knows - since the light of God is nextinguishable even in the darkest hours. In the Royal Arch it becomes visible again, but in another form, and in another position, not to be named here.
Thus, in the course of the degrees, the Great Letter has descended from heaven to earth, as if to show us the deep meaning of Masonry. In other words, the purpose of initiation is to bring God and Man together, and make them one. God becomes man that man may become God - a truth which lies at the heart of all religion, and most clearly revealed in our own. At the bottom, every form of faith is trying to lay hold of this truth, for which words were never made.
In all the old houses of initiation, as far back as we can go, some one letter of the alphabet stands out as a kind of Divine initial. In the Egyptian Mysteries it was the "Solar Ra," a symbol of the Spiritual Sun shining upon the mortal path. In the Greek Mysteries at Delphi it was the letter "E" - Eta - the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet; five being the symbol of man, as evidenced by the five senses.
Hence also the pentagram, or five-pointed star. In olden times Fellowcraft Masons worked in groups of five, and five Brethren now compose one of their Lodges. Plutarch tells us in the Greek Mysteries. the Letter Eta was made of wood in the First Degree, of bronze in the Second Degree, and of Gold in the Third - showing the advance and refinement of the moral and spiritual nature, as well as the higher value to the truth that was unfolded.
Many meanings and much history are thus gathered into the Great Letter, some of it dim and lost to us now. In our Lodges, and in the thought of the craft today, the Letter "G" stands for Geometry, and also as the initial for our word for God. Now for one, now for the other, but nearly always for both, since all Masonry rests upon Geometry, and in all its lore Geometry is the way of God.
Of the first of these meanings not much needs to be said. In the oldest Charges of the Craft, as in its latest interpretations, it is agreed that Masonry is moral geometry. What was forfelt by philosophers and mystics in ancient times is now revealed to us by the microscope. It is an actual fact that Geometry is the thought-form of God in nature, in the snowflake and in the orbits of the
Since this ancient insight is confirmed by the vision of science, in the most impressive manner the great Letter may stand as the initial of God, not alone by the accident of our language, but also and much more by a faith founded in fact. There is no longer any secret; it cannot be hid, because it is written in the structure of things, in all forms which truth and beauty take.
Nor does Masonry seek to hide the fact that it rests in God, lives in God, and seeks to lead men to God. Everything Masonry has reference to God, every lesson. every lecture; from the first step to the last Degree. Without God it has no meaning, and no mission among men. It would be like the house in the parable, built on the sand which the floor swept away. For Masonry, God is the first truth and the final reality.
Yet, as a fact, Masonry rarely uses the name of God.
It uses, instead, the phrase; "The Great Architect Of The Universe." Of course such a phrase fits into the symbolism of the Craft, but that is not the only - nor, perhaps the chief - reason why it is used. A deep, fine feeling keeps us from using the name of Deity too often, lest it lose some of its awe in our minds.
It is because Masons believe in God so deeply that they do not repeat His Name frequently, and some of us prefer the Masonic way in the matter. Also, we love the Masonic way of teaching by indirection, so to speak; by influence and atmosphere. Masonry, in its symbols and in its spirit, seeks to bring us into the presence of God and detains us there, and that is the wisest way.
In nothing is Masonry more deep-seeing than in the way in which it deals with our attitude toward God, who is both the meaning and the mystery of life. It does not intrude, much less drive, in the intimate and delicate things of the inner life - like a bungler thrusting his hand into our heart-strings.
No, all that Masonry asks is that we confess our faith in a Supreme Being. It does not require that we analyze or define in detail our thought of God. Few men have formulated their profound faith; perhaps no man can do it, satisfactorily. It goes deeper than the intellect, down into the instincts and feelings, and eludes all attempts to put it into words.
Life and love, joy and sorrow, pity and pain and death; the blood in the veins of man, the milk in the breast of woman, the laughter of little children, the coming and goings of days, all the old, sweet, sad human things that make up our mortal life - these are the bases of our faith in God. Older than argument, it is deeper than debate; as old as the home, as tender as infancy and old age, as deep as love and death.
Men lived and died by faith in God long before philosophy was born, ages before theology had learned its letters. Vedic poets and penitential Psalmists were praising God on yonder side of the Pyramids. In Egypt, five thousand years ago, a poet King sang of the unity, purity and beauty of God, celebrating His Presence revealed, yet also concealed, in the order of life.
No man can put such things into words, much less into a hard and fast dogma. Masonry does not ask him to do so. All that it asks is that he tell, simply and humbly, in Whom he puts his trust in life and death, as the source, security and sanction of moral life and spiritual faith; and that is as far as it seeks to go.
One thinks of the talk of the old Mason with the young nobleman who was an atheist, in the Tolstoi story, "War and Peace." When the young count said with a sneer that he did not believe in God, the old Mason smiled, as a mother might smile at the silly saying of a child. Then, in a gentle voice, the old man said:
"Yes, you do not know Him, sir. You do not know Him and that is why you are unhappy. But he is here, He is within me, He is within you, even in these scoffing words you have just uttered. If He is not, we should not be speaking of Him, sir. Whom dost thou deny?" They were silent for a spell, as the train moved on.
Something in the old man touched the count deeply, and stirred in him a longing to see what the old man saw, and to know what he knew. His eyes betrayed his longing to know God, and the old man read his face, and answered his unasked question:
"Yes, he exists, but to know him is hard. It is not attained by reason, but by life. The highest truth is like the purest dew. Could I hold in an impure vessel that pure dew, and judge of its purity? Only by inner purification can we know God."
All these things - all this history and hope and yearning which defies analysis - Masonry tells us in a shining Letter which hangs, up in the Lodge. It is the wisest way; its presence is a prophecy, and its influence extends beyond our knowing, evoking one knows not what memories and meditations. Never do we see that Great Letter, and think of what it implies, that we do not feel what Watts felt:
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope in times to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
"SO MOTE IT BE"
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The Cable Tow
The first thing most of us do when encountering a new word, is reach for the nearest dictionary. Although other variations, such as Cable-length and Cable-laid were found, the word Cabletow, could not been found outside of Masonic publications, despite trying different spellings and different (older) dictionaries.
Breaking cabletow down, we find the word cable and tow. Webster's lists three words in this context, namely tow-line, hawser, and cable. It defines a tow-line as 'A small hawser, used to tow a ship', a hawser as 'A small cable; or a large rope, in size between a cable and a tow-line', and a cable as ''A large strong rope or chain, used to retain a vessel at anchor; composed of three strands; each strand of three ropes; and each rope of three twists. A ships cable is usually 120 fathom, or 720 feet, in length.' Furthermore, the encyclopaedia of knots describes a cable as three hawsers, twisted so that they spiral to the left.
In any case, it is clear that the one of the main purposes of a tow-line, hawser and cable is to pull and secure heavy objects, and is an essential piece in construction. Ancient builders used cables extensively, and although it is unclear exactly when the term cabletow came to be used in Masonry, it is no stretch of the imagination to suggest it came from terms and equipment operative masons were using which speculative masons then adopted.
Symbolism of ropes around a neck:
Other religions and societies have used a device similar to a cabletow in their religious ceremonies, commonly referred to as a halter, or a rope put around a candidate during religious ceremonies, presumably as a symbol to indicate the mercy of the candidate to whatever was awaiting him after an initiation.
However, the main symbolism of having a rope around one's neck, is submission. Many cultures put halters, or collars, around prisoners and slaves, an example of which can be seen in the illustration below.
Usages in Masonry:
It seems that the first time the word Cabletow came in use was 1730, when it was described as a cable rope, and also as a tow-line. Part of the FC obligation is that 'wi an al du si an re su se me fr a Lo of Fe Crs or gi me by a Br of ths de, if wi the le on my ca-tow'. This usage probably stemmed from the fact that Medieval Masons were required to attend their annual or triennial assemblies except in case of sickness or in peril of death. Others have said that certain assemblies specified what that distance was, ranging from 3 to 50 miles.
What is interesting is the term is used as 'my cabletow', implying that it is an individual thing, and hence unique. If so, many have said that the length of ones cabletow, and hence the ability to attend Lodge, depends on the individuals circumstances, like work obligations, family, distance and the like.
It is also interesting to note that in some Masonic ceremonies, the number of times the cabletow is bound around a candidate increases as the candidate progresses higher in the degrees, symbolizing the increasing importance of the lessons therein taught. The opposite also exists, where the number of times a candidate is bound decreases, signifying the increased "trust" the candidate receives as he progresses.
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We know that the ashlar is important in Freemasonry because we know it to be one of the moveable objects referred to in the 1st degree lecture, but what significance does it have? What does the ashlar symbolize? The rough and perfect ashlar, are two of the most significant symbols in Freemasonry, yet is only barely mentioned in the rituals. What does the ashlar signify, and why is it so key to Masonry?
The dictionary defines an ashlar as nothing more than "hewn or squared stone." At first this seems to show the historical connection between Freemasonry and operative Masons, however, in our EA ritual we are taught that "the rough ashlar we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by nature, by the perfect ashlar, of that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive......."
However, we cannot say that the rough ashlar (both literally as a stone, or symbolically as man) is imperfect, for both were created by the Grand Artificer of the Universe, that created nothing imperfect. The ashlar, therefore, can be seen as symbolizing our mind, which becomes more "perfect" the more effort we exert individually. The chisel and other tools therefore can be seen as representing education, past experiences of others, lessons learned and the like.
An EA is said to represent the rough ashlar, who, by expanding his mind (remember the symbolism of the compass) becomes a perfect ashlar, or a MM, ready take his place "in the house of God." In some Lodges, a newly initiated EA is asked to symbolically chip away a piece of the rough ashlar, to signify that his learning, and expansion of the mind, has begun.
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The History and Meaning of the Apron
The Ancient Aprons
The Apron is not a modern invention; in fact it is the most ancient of all garments. In the 3rd Chapter of Genesis these words are written: "and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Aprons have been used in religious rites since time immemorial especially when delivering burnt offerings and blood sacrifices of various animals to the altars of ancient gods. On monuments and wall paintings in Ancient Egypt a garment, which can best be described as a triangular apron with the point upward, is depicted, in circumstances indicating that the wearer is taking part in some kind of ceremony of initiation. In connection with this fact, it is interesting to note that in Egypt it was customary to bestow a ‘collar of office’ on those whom the Pharaoh wished to honour. Such collars were circular in shape and on many occasions the Pharaoh himself is depicted wearing one in addition to his crook and flail as a symbol of his high office.
In China, some of the ancient figures of the gods wear semi-circular aprons, very similar to some of Scottish aprons, and some of these gods are often depicted making the sign of a well known ‘High Degree’.
In Central America the ancient gods are constantly sculpted wearing aprons. Tepoxtecatl, the preserver, for example, is depicted wearing an apron with a triangular flap, and on his head he is wearing a conical cap on which can clearly be seen an embroidered skull and crossbones, finally he holds in his right hand a hammer or gavel.
Examples of ancient gods wearing aprons can be found spread over the four quarters of the globe. It will be no surprise therefore that priests wore similar aprons as a sign of their allegiance to the 'gods' and as a badge of their authority. The earliest ceremonial apron known to have been used in Palestine was introduced by the Canaan Priest-King Melchizedek. Dated to around 2200 BC, the Melchizedek Priesthood began to make its ceremonial aprons out of white lambskin. White lambskin was eventually adopted by the Freemasons who have used it for their aprons ever since. Therefore when the Senior Warden exhorts the candidate that the apron that has been invested with is ‘more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honourable than the Star or Garter, or any other Order in existence’ he is not simply exaggerating to make a point, he may actually be stating an actual truth.
In any case, there is a legend describing why Freemasons use lambskin aprons and not that of any other animal and this legend can be traced back to the building of King Solomon’s temple:
"When the construction of King Solomon's Temple was commenced, workmen were selected to carry out the different trades. Hiram, the widow's son, proclaimed that before entering upon the undertaking the aid of God should first be invoked, and as the Temple was to be God's Holy House and erected to Him, each workman having a part in its construction should offer a sacrifice to God on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The Lamb had in all ages been deemed an Emblem of Innocence and was offered as a sacrifice. With the exception of the skin, the whole of the lamb was consumed. The skins were properly prepared and Hiram caused aprons to be made of them. One apron from the skin of each lamb sacrificed, one apron for each mason under him."
Finally the Templar Rule forbade any personal decoration except sheepskin, and further required that the Templar wear a sheepskin girdle about his waist at all times as a reminder of his vow of chastity, a context within which purity and innocence are vital.
The old Masonic Apron
As we have seen aprons have throughout the ages possessed a religious and symbolic meaning, a fact that is well applied to our own present apron as I will shortly demonstrate. However, there is little doubt that the Masonic apron evolved from those worn by operative masons to protect their clothes from becoming soiled. In medieval times all masons, whether Freemasons or Guild Masons, used aprons when at work, and the former also wore white leather gloves to protect their hands from the lime.
This type of apron used by the speculatives had changed very little in the middle of the 18th century from those used by the operative counterparts. These aprons were long, coming down to below the knees, with a flap or bib to protect the chest.
It was the speculative masons who at some point in the 1750’s began to decorate their aprons with designs, usually painted by the owner’s own hand. A number of these examples can still be seen in the Museum and Library of Grand Lodge, but we must remember that at this time no definite scheme existed and each brother was free to adorn his own apron as he saw fit, usually including all the symbols of all the various degrees he had attained. Therefore, many of these designs included symbolism of such degrees such as the Mark, Chapter and Ark Mariner in addition to those of the Craft. In due course however, certain designs became more popular and more standardised. The two pillars with the letters that represented them, and often the names were even given in full became an accepted model for most aprons. To this central motif were added various other emblems such as squares, ladders and so forth which can be found in the 1st degree Tracing Board and Masonic Certificates issued to all Master Masons advanced to the 3rd degree.
The Modern Masonic Apron
The Union of the Grand Lodge of England between the Ancient and Modern branches of English Freemasonry in 1813 brought into many effect many changes in dress and ritual which still prevail to this day. The deviation from certain aspects of the ritual is in my opinion regrettable but outside the boundary of this lecture. However, in respect to the Masonic apron it was felt necessary to have these standardised and the resulting effort are the aprons we have in use today. Nevertheless, even though we may assume that today’s aprons are but a shadow in respect to the decorative beauty of 18th century aprons they still contain much Masonic symbolism and inner meaning which I will now proceed to explain. However, before I do so, I must point out that the Masonic apron I am going to refer to is strictly that as worn by Masons of the English Constitution and not to those of the other constitutions. For example the Dutch wear an apron bordered with black and with a skull and crossbones on the flap. Scottish lodges each have their individual right to choose the design, colour and shape of their aprons; some employ a tartan, while many others have a circular rather than a triangular flap. This is the reason why all four Scottish lodges dress in different regalia whilst all English lodges have adopted the same model. Irish aprons appear to be a bizarre attempt at standardization with tinges of individualisation in the apron borders and embroidery. To the eye Irish aprons may well appear the same, but I have yet to see two which are exactly the same.
Returning to the English apron, many Brethren still believe that the present apron was the result of an accident and that no deliberate attempt at symbolism was envisaged. However, by the end of this explanation of the hidden meanings and symbolism of our present apron you too will I am sure come to the conclusion that those who designed it had a much deeper knowledge of symbolism than the apparently ‘simple’ Master Mason apron leads us to believe.
Firstly, let us consider the colour of the Master Mason’s apron, which is that of Cambridge University, and likewise that used by Parliament when fighting King Charles, has a much deeper significance than is generally known. It is closely related to the colour of the Virgin Mary, which in itself has been brought forward from Isis, Astarte and other Mother Goddesses of the ancient world, whose symbol was always the moon and seven stars. You may have noticed that many statues of the Virgin Mary show her wearing a diadem or crown of seven stars on her head and her cloak is light blue, the colour of our Masonic apron. In contrast, the aprons of District and Grand Lodge Officers have Garter Blue, often connected with certain Orders of Knighthood, but also this blue is the colour of Oxford University, and the colour associated with the Royalist cause during the Civil War. Thus the two aprons in use amongst Brethren of the English craft employ the colours of the two great Universities of England. The dark blue colour therefore can be said to represent the rulers in the Craft, and represent the masculine element. Light blue, on the other hand, represents the feminine or passive aspect, and is most appropriate for the ordinary Master Mason, whose duty it is to obey and not to command. The other significant emblems representative of the female aspect are the three rosettes, symbol of the rose itself, itself a well known substitute for the Virgin Mary herself as the Mystic Rose. The three rosettes on a Master Mason’s apron are arranged so as to form a triangle with the point upwards, interpenetrating the triangle formed by the flap on the apron, alluding to the square and compass. The two rosettes on a Fellow Crafts apron stress the dual nature of man and have a clear reference to the two Pillars. The two rosettes also point out that the Fellow Craft has not yet a complete Freemason as it requires a third rosette to form a triangle. The Fellow Craft’s apron thus represents the wearer’s status as being superior to an Entered Apprentice but inferior to that which in due time he will attain and which the third rosette will invariably complete in the form of the interlaced square and compass. As the Master Mason advances and becomes Master of his Lodge, the rosettes of his apron give way to three Tau or levels as they are generally called. The Tau is the symbol of the Creator and also the symbol of the Royal Arch to which all Masters had to be exalted to that supreme degree before he could accept the Chair in a Craft lodge.
Another important feature of the apron was the tassels which originally represented the ends of the string used to tie the apron round the waist. It was only a matter of time before these strings were decorated with tassels and even today certain aprons, such as those worn by members of the Royal Order of Scotland use this type of string with ornamental tassels which when properly tied together at the front cause the two tassels to stick out from under the flap. Craft aprons have now replaced the string or cord with a band attached to a hook and eye and so tassels have been replaced by two strips of ribbon on which are attached seven chains. The seven chains themselves are full of symbolic meaning and represent various Masonic allegories such as the 7 liberal Arts and Sciences, the number of Masons required to make a perfect lodge, the number of years it took king Solomon to build the temple, etc. The two ribbons and chains are also representative of the old pillars that used to adorn the apron before these were replaced with the existing form.
Finally we arrive at the band with the hook and eye attachment that perhaps nobody may be aware is also full of symbolic significance. It is no accident that the snake was selected for this purpose. The snake is the traditional symbol of evil, but it is also associated with wisdom. Thus the serpent in our apron denotes that we are encircled by Holy wisdom. You will also notice that the serpent is biting its own tail, thus forming a circle which has always been regarded as the emblem of eternity, and more especially the Eternal Wisdom of God.
As you can see Brethren the apron is not just a piece of regalia we wear simply to distinguish the different grades of Freemasons or even for cosmetic effect and pomp. It is a vital part of our ritual and why any Mason in a lodge who is not wearing his Masonic apron is considered quite rightly to be improperly dressed. Thus it will be seen that our apron is a very honourable garment, one that we should treasure. It is an apron made of lambskin, pure white, without fault or stain - the colour of the Soul as mortal man sees it. It is ours and it now depends upon each of us to keep it without blemish - to keep it as a mirror of our soul that we may stand the final test when we reach into Life Eternal - which is just beyond.
WBro. Keith Sheriff
Belgium. - The Grand Lodge Aprons are of light blue silk, embroidered with gold fringe, without tassels. The collars are embroidered with gold with the jewels of office, and with acacia and other emblems.
Egypt. - The Grand Orient uses the same clothing as the Grand Lodge of England, but the colours are thistle and sea green. The rank of wearer is denoted by the number of stars on his collar.
France. - The Grand Orient has aprons very elaborately embroidered or painted and edged with crimson or blue. In the third degree, blue embroidered sashes are used lined with black.
Greece. - In recent years the clothing has become exactly identical with that worn in England, although formerly silk and satin aprons painted and embroidered with crimson were worn.
Germany. - Aprons varied greatly in size and shape, from square to the shape of a shield. Some bear rosettes and others the level. There is no uniformity and German Lodges had jewels apparently according to the taste of each.
Holland. - Each Lodge selects its own colours for aprons and the ribbons to which the jewels are attached. Individuals may use embroidery, fringes, etc., according to their own fancy.
Hungary. - The members of Grand Lodge wear collars of light blue silk with a narrow edging of red, white and green-their national colours-from which are suspended five pointed stars. The Grand Lodge Officers wear collars of orange colour edged with green and lines with white silk. They are embroidered with the acacia and the emblems of office. The aprons have a blue edging with three rosettes for a Master Mason.
Italy. - The Entered Apprentice apron is plain white silk. The Fellow craft is edged and lined with a square printed in the centre. The Master Mason wears an apron lined and edged with crimson, bearing the square and compasses. He also wears a sash of green silk, edged with red, embroidered with gold and lined with black on which are embroidered the emblems of mortality in silver. It must be remembered, however, that Freemasonry for some time past has been suppressed in Italy, the reason being that it intermeddled in national politics.
Iceland. - Plain white aprons, edged with blue, bearing the number of the lodge. At the Annual Communication lambskins are worn with a narrow silver braid in the centre of the ribbon. In former days, the Worshipful Master always wore a red cloak and silk hat.
Portugal. - The apron of the Grand Lodge Officers are of white satin, edged with blue and gold and with three rosettes. The collar is made of blue silk with the acacia embroidered in gold.
Spain. - The apron of the Entered Apprentice is of white leather, rounded at the bottom, with a pointed flap, worn raised. The Fellowcraft wears the same with the flap turned down, and the Mason (Master) wears a white satin apron with a curved flap, edged with crimson, and embroidered with a square and compass, enclosing the letter G. The letters M and B, and three stars also appear. It is lined with black silk and embroidered with the skull and crossbones and three stars.
Switzerland. - The clothing is simple. The Entered Apprentice apron is white with the lower corners rounded. The Fellowcraft has blue edging and strings, and the Master Mason has a wider border and three rosettes in the body of the apron, while the flap is covered with blue silk. The apron of the Grand Officers is edged with crimson, without tassels or rosettes, except in the case of the Grand Master, which has three crimson rosettes.
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