Doctrine (updated)

Freemason symbols provide a visual means of attaining the beginnings of Masonic Education.

Via www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com 

These Masonic images are used to teach morals and lessons…much as we use “visuals”, like PowerPoint for presentations and YouTube for short video tutorials or an i-Pad to read a book.

Each of these import meaning to an embodiment of picture images and data within a specific school of thought.

The statement “A picture is worth a thousand words.” as the best way to learn, is just as true, today, as it was 5,000 years ago.

Masonic Lodge Symbols Education

Freemason Symbols: Masonic symbology has come down to us from the cuneiform scripts of the ancient Sumerians, circa 3000 B.C.. as well as the ancient Mesopotamians and Persians. Cuneiform writing was a series of pictographs (symbols) which were drawn on clay tablets with a blunt reed (or stylus).

Masonic scholars, today, question the origin of the Point within the Circle, whose parallel upright lines on both sides of the circle, closely resemble an Egyptian hieroglyphic (circa 1570–1342 B.C.).

Is it one of the first Freemason symbols?

It is not known; however this information creates questions in scholarly circles.

Did Freemasonry begin long before King Solomon’s temple was built (circa 953 B.C.)?

Did it begin with the operative stone mason guilds during the Middle Ages? (between 500 A.D. and 1500 A.D.) Did it begin in Scotland near the time of Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329)?

These questions are a subject of much debate within the fraternity. Thousands of research man-hours have been spent attempting to answer these questions, mostly to little avail.

Very little information has surfaced from the books and hand-written manuscripts that survived these eras in history.

Even Freemason symbols are subject to somewhat different interpretations across the many Masonic jurisdictions in the world.

Understanding Freemasonry Begins With
Learning Its Symbols

masonic symbols

Learning the Meanings of Freemason Symbols:

Masonic symbology was used in past centuries, not due as much to Masonic secrecy, (as many people believe), but due to the fact that most of the world’s population was illiterate. 

During the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and through subsequent centuries, most of the population, being working people, were illiterate or had only a rudimentary (basic) ability to sign their names, make their “mark” to signify their acceptance, or read simple words.

During the Middle Ages, many Lords (wealthy landowners) could read (and some could not), but the Serfs (working class people), almost as a whole, had never been taught to read.

During the Dark Ages and extending throughout the Middle Ages, there was a loss of classical learning due to the many wars, bloodshed and unrest in which most of the old hand-printed scrolls, papyrus paper, books and records were burned by the opposing forces…much like King Solomon’s temple was dismantled and carried off, never to return.

Illiteracy did not make these Masons stupid or lesser operative Masons in the craft.    They were simply working people, taking care of their families, who, by necessity, had to begin working at a very early age…usually from dawn until dusk, 6 days a week and did not have the time nor the teachers to avail themselves of the ability to learn to read or of any higher education.

Making Your Mark:  Some of you can, even now, remember people in your past (or present) who were illiterate and signed their name (made their mark)  with an “X”.

Schools were for the wealthy.

Thus, operative Freemason symbols were taught to these stone masons (workers in stone) as a part of their obligation for the betterment of their craft.

Actual (operative) stone masons made their “mark” by inscribing their work with their symbol (or logo), just as artists and other craftsmen have “signed” their work throughout the centuries.  This “mark” symbolizes the uniqueness of the piece as well as the intent of the Master craftsman that each person who views it, be aware of its unique and personal craftsmanship.

Today, there are mass-printed books, everywhere, and a wealth of information on the internet about Freemasonry.  But, this has not always been the case.  In the operative stonemason days, only the very few people who could read, owned books.

Books were created by scribes who painstakingly copied down the the verbal words they heard or copied, (letter by letter) the words from other hand-printed scrolls, which later became hand-bound books. Due to the immense amount of time it took to create such a book, they were very rare and very expensive.

Scribes and Scrolls

…Hence, due to the lack of books, much knowledge was passed down via the use of symbols and by word of mouth…a “monitorial” inculcation (mouth-to-ear-teaching).

Printing presses were actually invented by the Chinese circa 593 A.D. wherein each page’s text was hand-carved onto a wooden block, dipped into ink and then applied to cloth, and later, when paper became more readily available and less expensive, the ink-dipped blocks were applied to the paper, from which books could be bound.

In Germany, Johannes Gutenberg invented the use of movable type on his printing press (circa 1440 A.D.) …568 years ago, which made the creation of books much faster and much less expensive, and therefore, more easily acquired by the common man.

Hand-Written Book Inscription: Many of the aforementioned scribes only heard the spoken words (without the advantage of being able to copy any written text) and, therefore, spelled the words as best they knew how.

This fact accounts for the numerous different spellings of so many names and words in the Old Charges (Old Manuscripts) (1390 – 1714). Some of the Old Charges and old Masonic constitutions are on hand-written scrolls.

This also accounts for some of the many translation differences in the Holy Books of the major religions of the world which Freemasonry embraces…(the Bible, the Torah, the Veda, the Koran, etc.) down through history.

Masonic Scholars Study Freemason Symbols: True Masonic scholars have devoted a portion of their time to the study of the meanings of Freemason symbols.

Consequently, they have a strong foundation of knowledge which the non-scholar lacks. (The word “scholar” in this instance refers to a person who studies…and not a person who has a genius-level I.Q. mind, which others were not blessed with.)

Your Symbolic Foundation Beneath Your Middle Chamber: The perfect ashlars (stones) which made up the foundation of King Solomon’s Temple were gargantuan (huge) in size, ..some as large as 41 feet x 11.5 feet,… because in his wisdom; King Solomon understood the need to build a solid foundation for his temple…just as each of us must do.

solomons temple

Q: So, …now that nearly everyone has been taught to read …and with millions of books now available, as well as nearly 6,000,000 pages about Freemasonry on the internet and over 400 books about Freemason symbols and Masonic symbolism available on Amazon.com, why is this depth of knowledge not found in most Freemasons, today?

A: While there are lots of books and information available; unfortunately, a clear, concise, step-by-step Masonic education
is nearly impossible to find. The foundation of Freemason ritual is built on Freemason symbols and biblical (Holy Book) references.

Therefore, it is impossible to fully understand Masonic ritual without understanding its underlying foundation…that of the biblical meanings within ritual and the rich history of these Freemason symbols …these Masonic symbols, which we have inherited.

Lodge education officers valiantly attempt to impart pieces of Masonic knowledge; …however the only true path to Masonic education is when you begin to link and understand the meaning of the words in the ritual to their biblical meaning coupled with the Freemasonry symbols which underlie it.

Memorizing the words is not enough. True light is achieved through study and understanding of that which you seek.

Only then can you “feel” the biblical power of our Creator’s words within Freemasonry’s tenets because this is where the rubber-meets-the-road.

Ritual, alone will not fulfill your quest. 50 years of perfect lodge attendance cannot create true “light”.

Degrees: Without a true understanding of the ancient and biblical tenets, Freemason symbols, Masonic history and why we circumambulate (the act of moving around a sacred object) in our ancestor’s footsteps around an altar glorified to our Creator;…the titles and degrees upon which we have been bestowed may possibly only be words which attempt to attach a scholarly credibility and experience to a man which he may not, in fact, yet possess.

Education, study and the resulting knowledge which comes from this learning process is the only method which leads to a “graduate”, once having received his “Master’s” degree, actually knowing what he studied, what he learned and why it is important in his life.

“As Hiram prayed daily for guidance from his God before drawing the designs that would set the craftsmen to work, so must we.”

God applying the compasses

Ancient of Days by William Blake, 1794

The watercolor etching, above was painted by William Blake in 1794. Its title is “Ancient of Days”. It refers to an excerpt of a passage from the book of Proverbs 8:27, (a book within both the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Bible), which says “when he set a compass upon the face of the earth.” Note: Different biblical translations may use different wording. Source: The Holy Bible; Self-Pronouncing Edition; Containing Old and New Testaments; Translated out of the Original Tongues; copyright 1903 by A.J. Holman Co., Philadelphia, PA.

…Each Master Mason becomes his own architect. Each supervises the building of that “temple not made by hands.” Each builds into his structure beauty, harmony and knowledge to the extent he is willing to work.“…The Craft and Its Symbols, p. 84, 1974, Allen E. Roberts, MaCoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co.

Freemason Symbols

Looking back through history, we find that Masonic symbols have been drawn on tracing boards, scratched into the dirt with a stick during the days when lodges met on high hills and low vales in the outdoors, chiseled into stones, not only from stonemason artisans of the past making their Master’s Mark, (their attestation of their work as a job well done) but also proudly inscribed into our more modern-day building cornerstones.

Masonic Temple

We see Masonic symbols in each Masonic temple around the world. Masonic light abounds…and Masonic charity is well known.

Masonic Jewelry

Freemason symbols are most often noticed in Masonic jewellery such as Masonic rings, Masonic lapel pins and Masonic cufflinks. Members with other Masonic degrees, such as Knights Templar, wear Masonic jewelry displaying symbols of the Knights Templar sword, cross and other ancient symbols of the fraternity.

Masonic Art

Masonic art is full of Freemason symbols…whether it be a Masonic painting or on each and every one of the Masonic aprons across the world. Like Freemasons, themselves, each unique Masonic apron is a testament to its owner’s belief in a life well lived in brotherhood with other like-minded men.

Masonic Clip Art 

Is Masonic artwork using Freemason symbols a thing of the past? No. Today, we have Masonic clip art. There is a lot of free Masonic clipart on the web. Some high resolution Masonic clipart is also available. Most is copyright free, for non-commercial use, but always check with the website’s policies before using it.

Masonic Regalia

Digital Masonic clipart is also used to embroider symbols onto Masonic regalia such as the Masonic altar cloth used in the lodge, Masonic officer aprons, Masonic funeral aprons and Masonic flags. Digitized routers are used to carve Freemason symbols into wooden Masonic regalia items such as the square and compasses symbol into the Masonic gavels and the Wardens Columns used in the lodge.

Freemason Symbols In The 21st Century

Much like the moveable-type printing presses replaced the scribes of yore, technological advances have also brought Freemasonry into the 21st century.

If you could go back in time and tell one of the scribes who hand wrote one of these entire Masonic constitutions encompassed in the Old Charges (circa 1400 A.D.) (without a single error or erasure) about a “magic box” called a computer, with a screen and a bunch of buttons on the table wherein if he pushed a few of these buttons, another “magic box” would print hundreds of pages in an hour; how could he possibly fathom such a preposterous idea?

It would be only logical for him to conclude, using only his current knowledge at the time, that witchcraft would have to be involved, or magic of some kind to be able to print pages from a “magic box”, that we now know as a printer.

Sadder still, he couldn’t even “Google” it to be able to find one! …And, even if he had a computer, we’d have to explain to him how electricity works and how to download drivers and, oh yes, teach him how to type.

We are a very fortunate generation that such a wealth of knowledge is now at our fingertips.

Deciphering The Cryptograms of Masonic Symbology

A Masonic scholar is simply one who reads for greater understanding in his “quest for more light”.

He learns the meanings of each cryptogram (a figure or representation having a secret or mysterious significance), so that he may build on it to understand the whole.

Think back a moment to your childhood…before you could read. You were riding along with your parents in the car and saw a big red, octagonal sign with black letters on it which was stuck on a post in the ground.

Until you were taught that a stop sign meant that you must (by law), stop the car, it is simply an imposing big red sign by the side of the road…and thus an enigma (a mystery) to you as to its meaning. Later, after you learned to read, you learned other road signs. You learned the meanings of “Merge”, “On Ramp”, “MPH”, etc.

Therefore, if you can read, (and apply yourself) you, too, can become a Masonic scholar…but more important than becoming a scholar, is feeling the purity of Freemasonry’s (and our Creator’s) goals for each of us.

The real goal of understanding, …the Masonic “light” which each of us seeks, is not how many books you’ve read, but whether you “get” their message in your heart.

So, as you can see, the history of Freemasonry is best represented by its Freemason symbols, which have come down to us through the ages.

The Freemason symbols that you see on this page, ..from which our ancient brethren were taught, … are the same Masonic symbols and meanings that have come down through the centuries…and the very same ones that you, too, will study in your quest for more light.

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Freemasonry
What is it, what is its purpose, and how does it differ from other organizations?
Freemasonry is a traditional initiatic order. It is not a secret society, but rather, a society with secrets. While it took its modern form during the Enlightenment, its traditions, symbols, and lessons reach back to pre-modern times.
The general work associated with the initiatic tradition and the purpose of Freemasonry, put simply, is to provide an environment where good men can come together to pursue meaningful intellectual and spiritual growth. It is often said that Freemasonry “makes good men better.” One of the underlying tenets of the initiatic tradition is the belief that with each individual that becomes a better person, the entire world profits.
Being part of the initiatic tradition is what distinguishes Freemasonry from purely social or philanthropic organizations. While there are many different organizations that contribute large sums of money to charity, offer fellowship with like-minded men, or provide education, Freemasonry is unique in that it embodies all these things, but is actually focused on offering
men a traditional initiation into the mysteries of life and death. The initiatic tradition is the core, defining characteristic of Freemasonry, without which there would be nothing to differentiate Masonry from other social or philanthropic organizations.

Initiation is a slow and sensitive process and requires great effort on behalf of both the candidate and the existing members of the lodge. For the initiatic experience to be meaningful and enriching, great care and attention must be afforded to each individual candidate. If the new Freemason is to become worthy of the title, he must spend time and energy learning about the
history, symbolism, and philosophy of the Craft. There is no way around it. The process of experiencing the initiatic tradition, becoming a part of it, and improving oneself through its lessons is known as Masonic Formation. This is an ever-continuing process of spiritual and intellectual formation that all Freemasons must continuously undergo. Masonic
Formation is the process of fitting the Rough Ashlar of our imperfect being into the Perfect Ashlar fit for the Divine temple. It is a constant transformation through the use of Masonic symbols, rituals, and teachings on a journey of return to the center of our being. W. L. Wilmshurst, in his book Meaning of Masonry, writes, “the very essence of the Masonic doctrine
is that all men in this world are in search of something in their own nature which they have lost, but that with proper instruction and by their own patience and industry they may hope to find.”

Excerpt from ‘Entered Apprentice Handbook’,

Initiation, Rite, and Tradition
Freemasonry: a traditional institution that practices rites as a means of preserving and perpetuating the initiatic tradition.
Inherent in the traditional character of Freemasonry is that initiatic rites are viewed as a necessary and perpetual aspect of a Divinely maintained natural order. In this sense, Freemasonry is one of the last remaining institutions of the Western world to preserve and practice traditional forms. Understanding the terms initiation, rite, and tradition is essential to
every Mason’s development

Free Will and The Mind of God
David Cooper | Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:30AM

The essential issue upon which all is balanced for creation to be creation-ing is that of free will. Throughout the ages, theologians have debated whether or not human beings have the ability to choose freely. It has been a key issue because free will imputes that God does not control the universe. If God is in control then we are not really free to choose; God always “knows” what we are going to do. If we really have choice and God does not “know,” then God is missing essential information.
The Torah is built upon the foundation of free choice for humankind. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a description of free choice. From that point forward every biblical story involves free choice.
We have human consciousness. We are informed that acts of loving kindness over the long run will bring a higher level of consciousness to everyone in the world. We have the choice to do them or not. We are informed that an unkind word can set things in motion that may cause great harm and pain in the world. We have the choice of how we will speak. Even more, when the mystic suggests that our prayers can sway the outcome of events, our behavior can influence the degree to which there is peace in the world, or that our observance of ancient ritual can bring a healing to souls in other worlds, imagine how this weighs on us as responsible, conscious beings.
Nothing is inconsequential. Each grain of sand holds amazing secrets. Each event contains mysterious messages. Every encounter with another being is a point of contact upon which the universe pivots. When we enter into this frame of mind, reality as we see it becomes a vast opportunity to experience the interconnectedness of all creation. From this perspective, we come to the realization that every piece is integral in the unfolding of creation, including us.
Free will and process go hand in hand. If we are caught in the illusion of separation, trapped in the sense of our “selves,” we do not experience the interactive process. We cannot realize this because “self” and “other” are distinctly different. If, however, we are able to mediate this “self-consciousness,” we can enter the realm of Now in which everything is connected and in process with everything else.
When we pull all of these ideas together, the paradigm of relationship between creator and creation dramatically shifts. God is God-ing, creation is creation-ing, every aspect of creation is in process and continuously unfolding like an infinite flower opening its petals. In this reality, “knowing” is a moment-to-moment phenomenon, past and future are only in our minds, we are co-partners with God-ing in the cosmic process and each person has the full freedom of choice to change the universe. Nothing we do, say, or think is inconsequential; every action affects not only this reality but other realities, and all of creation is interconnected. We should never assign attributes to our partner in process (God-ing), but we can “know” this partner through the direct experience of all that we encounter and every thought that arises in our minds.
The intrinsic definition of Limitlessness is that It lacks nothing and can receive nothing, for It is everything. As It is everything, theoretically It is the potential to be an infinite source of giving.
The question arises, however, that there is nothing for It to give to because It is everything. It would have to give to itself. This has been a major conundrum in philosophy and theology for thousands of years. Kabbalah suggests one way of dealing with this. It says that as long as the infinite source of giving has no “will” to give, nothing happens. However, the instant it has the will to give, this will initiates a “thought.” Kabbalah says, “Will, which is [primordial] thought, is the beginning
of all things and the expression [of this thought] is the completion.” One way to say this would be that the entire creation is nothing more than a thought in the
“mind” of Ein Sof, so to speak. Another way to express it is that the will to give instantly creates a will to receive. The idea that an infinite giver can create receptivity in itself is what Kabbalists call tzimtzum (contraction). It has to make a opening within Itself for receiving.
That which is given is called: light. That which receives is called: vessel. Light and vessel are always in balance. This is because light comes from an infinite source and thus will fill a vessel to its capacity. If we put a bucket under Niagara Falls, it instantly fills. If we put a freight train there, it also instantly fills. Imagine the entire universe rests under a Niagara Falls of light, continuously being filled.
According to Kabbalah, the interaction between vessel and light is what makes the world go around. Everything in the universe is a vessel that “wills” to receive the light of the Infinite Bestower. Each molecule, plant, animal, rock, and human are vessels; each has the “will” to be exactly what it is.
Human consciousness is unique in that it has the quality of being “in the image of God.” This quality is expressed by what we call free will, and free will at its core is nothing more than the ability to bestow light. That is to say, human consciousness has an inherent will to give. This human capability of acting like God in being a bestower is the fulcrum upon which the entire universe is balanced.
The reason that this is so important is that if there were only a will to receive, as described above, the universe would be completely predictable. Everything would be predetermined, all receptivity would find shape in its implicit design, and every aspect of the unfolding of creation could be anticipated. The wild card introduced here is the premise that human consciousness is informed by a soul-force that gives it the capacity to emulate the infinite Bestower.
Thus human beings have extraordinary capacity to influence the direction of creation. Each time we make use of our free will by giving, we are in co-partnership with the infinite Bestower. When this is accomplished, with clear awareness of what we are doing, we raise the consciousness of creation.
The essential issue upon which all is balanced for creation to be creation-ing is that of free will. Throughout the ages, theologians have debated whether or not human beings have the ability to choose freely. It has been a key issue because free will imputes that God does not control the universe. If God is in control then we are not really free to choose; God always “knows” what we are going to do. If we really have choice and God does not “know,” then God is missing essential information. The Torah is built upon the foundation of free choice for humankind. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a description of free choice. From that point forward every biblical story involves free choice.
We have human consciousness. We are informed that acts of loving kindness over the long run will bring a higher level of consciousness to everyone in the world. We have the choice to do them or not. We are informed that an unkind word can set things in motion that may cause great harm and pain in the world. We have the choice of how we will speak. Even more, when the mystic suggests that our prayers can sway the outcome of events, our behavior can influence the degree to which there is peace in the world, or that our observance of ancient ritual can bring a healing to souls in other worlds, imagine how this weighs on us as responsible, conscious beings.
Nothing is inconsequential. Each grain of sand holds amazing secrets. Each event contains mysterious messages. Every encounter with another being is a point of contact upon which the universe pivots. When we enter into this frame of mind, reality as we see it becomes a vast opportunity to experience the interconnectedness of all creation. From this perspective, we come to the realization that every piece is integral in the unfolding of creation, including us.
Free will and process go hand in hand. If we are caught in the illusion of separation, trapped in the sense of our “selves,” we do not experience the interactive process. We cannot realize this because “self” and “other” are distinctly different. If, however, we are able to mediate this “self-consciousness,” we can enter the realm of Now in which everything is connected and in process with everything else. When we pull all of these ideas together, the paradigm of relationship between creator and
creation dramatically shifts. God is God-ing, creation is creation-ing, every aspect of creation is in process and continuously unfolding like an infinite flower opening its petals. In this reality, “knowing” is a moment-to-moment phenomenon, past and future are only in our minds, we are co-partners with God-ing in the cosmic process and each person has the full freedom of choice to change the universe. Nothing we do, say, or think is inconsequential; every action affects not only this reality but other realities, and all of creation is interconnected. We should never assign attributes to our partner in process (God-ing), but we can “know” this partner through the direct experience of all that we encounter and every thought that arises in our minds.
The intrinsic definition of Limitlessness is that It lacks nothing and can receive nothing, for It is everything. As It is everything, theoretically It is the potential to be an infinite source of giving. The question arises, however, that there is nothing for It to give to because It is everything. It would have to give to itself. This has been a major conundrum in philosophy and theology for thousands of years.
Kabbalah suggests one way of dealing with this. It says that as long as the infinite source of giving has no “will” to give, nothing happens. However, the instant it has the will to give, this will initiates a “thought.” Kabbalah says, “Will, which is [primordial] thought, is the beginning of all things and the expression [of this thought] is the completion.” One way to say this would be that the entire creation is nothing more than a thought in the “mind” of Ein Sof, so to speak. Another way to express it is that the will to give instantly creates a will to receive. The idea that an infinite giver can create receptivity in itself is what Kabbalists call tzimtzum (contraction). It has to make a opening within Itself for receiving. That which is given is called: light. That which receives is called: vessel. Light and vessel are always in balance. This is because light comes from an infinite source and thus will fill a vessel to its capacity. If we put a bucket under Niagara Falls, it instantly fills. If we put a freight train there, it also instantly fills. Imagine the entire universe rests under a Niagara Falls of light, continuously being filled.
According to Kabbalah, the interaction between vessel and light is what makes the world go around. Everything in the universe is a vessel that “wills” to receive the light of the Infinite Bestower. Each molecule, plant, animal, rock, and human are vessels; each has the “will” to be exactly what it is.
Human consciousness is unique in that it has the quality of being “in the image of God.” This quality is expressed by what we call free will, and free will at its core is nothing more than the ability to bestow light. That is to say, human consciousness has an inherent will to give. This human capability of acting like God in being a bestower is the fulcrum upon which the entire universe is balanced. The reason that this is so important is that if there were only a will to receive, as described
above, the universe would be completely predictable. Everything would be predetermined, all receptivity would find shape in its implicit design, and every aspect of the unfolding of creation could be anticipated. The wild card introduced here is the premise that human consciousness is informed by a soul-force that gives it the capacity to emulate the infinite Bestower.
Thus human beings have extraordinary capacity to influence the direction of creation. Each time we make use of our free will by giving, we are in co-partnership with the infinite Bestower. When this is accomplished, with clear awareness of what we are doing, we raise the consciousness of creation.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

BOOK REVIEW of THE HIRAM KEY
Presented by R.W. Bro. F. Packford, Golcistream Lodge No.161, B.C.R.
HIRAM KEY is a well documented work presented to us by Christopher Knight and Dr. Robert Lomas, English researchers and Freemasons.
Their journey through the three degrees of Freemasonry started a research project into the roots of the Craft and a multi- year search of the chain of events leading to our modern rituals.
Much knowledge as we know it today is a combination of fact and conjecture – educated guesses -based on our experiences, biases, and religious beliefs. As the vast base of human knowledge is exploding because of modern technological methods traditional ideas are increasingly under attack. The authors ask us to review ideas backed by their research which will cause many readers to want to cast the book aside as blasphemous or so much fantasy. However, persevere!
The book starts with the authors’ search to overcome the sheer pointlessness of Freemasonry and to find what binds the world’s almost five million Freemasons together. Their research quickly led them into a fascinating trip through ancient civilizations and eventually to a path through history to the development of modern Freemasonry and its impact on the world.
The authors in their attempts to show the path of masonic development through history take – in my opinion -some quantum leaps of faith. But really their research is just as valid as that of other historical scholars and it should he read with an open mind.
Whether you treat “The Hiram Key” and the sequel “The Second Messiah” as worthwhile read of well-documented and researched historical works or as entertaining novels based on facts and myths, I strongly recommend you take the time to read and digest these two books. There is a wealth of information concerning our Masonic roots contained in each.
THE SECOND MESSIAH by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas.
The sequel to The Hiram Key – modem scientific techniques applied to events of ancient history and the continuing story of the Jewish nation and the Knights Templar.
FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS by Graham Hancock
“A worldwide quest to put together the vast and fascinating jigsaw puzzle of mankind’s hidden past.”
THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS by Thomas Cahill
“How did a tribe of desert nomads forever alter the way we experience our world.”
HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION by Thomas Cahill
St. Patrick and the isolation of Ireland in the dark ages save ancient manuscripts.
WHO WROTE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS by Norman Golb
THE MESSAGE OF THE SCROLLS by Yigael Yadin
The authors deal with the revelations and the contributions since the 1947 discovery of the Scrolls.
(The following “Short Talk Bulletin”(VOL.72, No.1 1.) prepared by The Masonic Information Centre for The Masonic Service Association of the United States is acknowledged with thanks and we trust will be an appropriate prelude to the address by Bro. the Rev Dr. Gary Leazer at Britannia Lodge, 14/10/99]
A RESPONSE TO CRITICS OF FREEMASONRY.
1999 – 4B
From Northern Ireland to Iran, from the Middle East to the United States, religious extremism is a growing force throughout the world. Jarred by the rapid pace of social and cultural change, especially the apparent disintegration of moral values and the break-up of the family, some people within this movement have sought refuge from the complexity of modem life by embracing absolute views and rejecting tolerance of other beliefs.
Simple, easy, seemingly stable answers bring comfort in a rapidly changing world. For example, some churches have responded to the personal anguish of their members by circling the wagons, that is, by strictly defining theological concepts and insisting their members “purify” their fellowship by renouncing any other beliefs. The next step already taken by various churches, is to yield degrees of control within their ranks to vocal factions espousing extremist views. These splinter groups focus the congregation’s generalized anxieties on specific targets. The proffered cure-all is to destroy the supposed enemy.
Freemasonry has become one of these targets precisely because it encourages members to form their own opinion on many important topics, including religion. Thus some churches have expressed concerns, even condemnations of Freemasonry.
Generally, these actions are based on misunderstandings. A case in point is the June 1993 report to the Southern Baptist Convention by the Convention’s Home Mission Board. This report defined eight alleged conflicts between the tenets and teachings of the Masonic Fraternity and Southern Baptist theology.
Let’s briefly look at those areas, as representative of the thinking of some well-meaning but misinformed church members today, and see if the concerns are real or simply a matter of misinformation or misunderstanding.
Most of the issues really deal with language in one way or another. Almost every organization has a special vocabulary of words, which are understood by the group. It’s hardly appropriate for someone outside a group, and without the special knowledge of the group, to object to the terms unless he or she fully understands them and why they are used.
If someone wants to read the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, that is his right-but he doesn’t have a right to complain the articles use medical terms. A person reading a cookbook had better know terms like fold, cream the butter, or soft ball have special meanings – or he’ll make a mess instead of a cake. The same is true of a non-Mason reading Masonic materials. As to the critique of Freemasonry by the Southern Baptist Convention (which, incidentally, had several positive things to say about Freemasonry), here is a brief explanatory discussion of each point.
1. Because they do not see specific words in their historic context some critics complain of the prevalent use in Masonry of offensive titles and terms such as Worshipful Master for the leader of a Lodge. The leader of a Masonic Lodge is called the Master of the Lodge for the same reason the head of a Boy Scout troop is called a Scoutmaster, an orchestra’s leader is termed the Concert Master, or a highly skilled electrician is called a Master Electrician. The term arose in the guilds of the Middle Ages when the most skillful workman was called the Master. Much Masonic vocabulary dates from that period. Worshipful in Worshipful Master has nothing to do with worship in any religious sense.
Masonically, Worshipful is a term of honor and, in this sense, it is a term still used in England and Canada today to refer to such officials as mayors of cities. Worshipful John Doe means exactly the same thing as the Honorable John Doe. In the same vein, the Mayor of London is addressed as the Worshipful Lord Mayor. Certainly there is nothing irreligious here in the use of Worshipful or Lord. Such terms are a matter of history and tradition, not religion
2. Some critics of Freemasonry object to what they term archaic and offensive rituals or so-called bloody oaths in Masonry. There is nothing offensive in the rituals to anyone who understands them. They are ancient, not archaic, since many of them are so old their origins are lost in history. But there is nothing bad in that. The Declaration of Independence is about the same age as the Master Mason Degree, but few complain it is “archaic.”
The alleged bloody oaths refer to the penalties associated with the Masonic obligations. They originated in the medieval legal system of England and were actual punishments inflicted by the state on persons convicted of opposing political or religious tyranny. Masonry’s obligations do not contain any promise ever to inflict any of the penalties or to participate in the execution of them.
In Masonry, they are entirely symbolic and refer exclusively to the shame a good man should feel at the thought he had broken a promise.
3. Certain critics claim the recommended readings for the Degrees of Masonry are “pagan” in origin. “Pagan”, as they are using the term, simply means “pre- Christian.” The major purpose of Masonry is the study of man’s intellectual and moral history for the purpose of developing ourselves morally and intellectually. Such a study has to start with the concepts of man and God as held by early
cultures and evidenced in their mythologies. The Greeks and Romans, as well as earlier peoples, had much of importance to say on many topics, including religion. The idea that a physician must act in the best interests of his patient comes from the pagan Hippocrates, and the concept that the government cannot break into your house and take what it wants on a whim comes from the pagan Aristotle. None of us would want to live in a world without these ideas.
In almost every field – law, government, music, philosophy mathematics, etc. – it is necessary to review the work of early writers and thinkers. Masonry is no exception. But to study the work of ancient cultures is not the same thing as to do what they did or believe what they believed. And no Mason is ever told what he should believe in mailers of faith. That is not the task of a fraternity, or a public library, or the government. That is the duty of a person’s revealed religion and is appropriately expressed through his or her church.
4. Ironically, some people complain about the Bible used in Lodge being referred to as the “furniture” of the Lodge. No disrespect is intended. Indeed, just the opposite is true. Masons use the word “furniture” in its original meaning of essential equipment. Since no Lodge can meet without an open Volume of the Sacred Law, (which in North America is almost always the Bible) the Bible is essential and given a special place of honor as the “furniture” for every regular Lodge.
5. The Masonic use of the term “light” is often misunderstood by non-Masons. This confusion may lead some to think Masons are speaking of salvation rather than knowledge or truth. Nowhere in Masonic ritual is “light” implied to mean anything other than knowledge. Light was a symbol of knowledge long before it was a symbol of salvation. The lamp of learning appears on almost every graduation card and college diploma. Masonry uses Light as a symbol of the search for truth and knowledge. It’s very unlikely that any Mason would think that Light represents salvation.
6. Masonry does not imply one’s good works may attain salvation. Masonry does not teach any path to salvation. That is the duty of a Church, not a Fraternity. The closest Masonry comes to this issue is to point to the open Bible, and tell the Mason to search there for the path to eternal life. Masonry does believe in the importance of good works, but as a mailer of gratitude to God for His many great gifts and as a matter of individual moral and social responsibility. The path to salvation is found in each Mason’s house of worship, not in his Lodge.
7. Various critics accuse Masonic writers of teaching the “heresy of universalism.” Universalism is the doctrine that all men and women are ultimately saved. Masonry does not teach universalism or any other doctrine of salvation. Again, that’s the province of the church, not a fraternity. You have to look rather hard to find Masonic writers who “teach universalism.” Even if you could find one, it’s important to remember that any Masonic author writes for himself alone, not as an official of the Fraternity. Masonry simply does not have a position official or otherwise on salvation Since men of all faiths are welcome in the Fraternity, Masons are careful not to offend the faith of any.
Possibly this in itself may seem to be universalism to some critics. Masons call it common courtesy.
8. Some critics, less eager to put their own houses in order than to find fault with others contend most Lodges refuse to admit African Americans as members. Masonry today is not a whites only organization as the hundreds of thousands of Black, Native American, Hispanic and oriental Masons can testify. Petitions for membership do not ask the race of the petitioner, and it would be considered completely wrong to do so. At the same time it must be said that Freemasonry, like American society and churches in general, has not lived up entirely to its high ideal of brotherhood in dealing with African-Americans and other minorities. This is a situation, which most Freemasons, like most Americans, are trying to overcome.
There is a schism in Freemasonry dating back over 200 years to when “Prince Hall” Masons, who are African-Americans, declared themselves independent. This schism is similar to the division of the United Methodist Church from the A.M.E.. C.M.E.. and United Methodist Church from the A.M.E.. S.M.E., and A.M.E. Zion churches or the National Baptists from the American and Southern Baptists. In each of these three examples, the organizations are working to repair the damages of centuries of segregation. For each, complete reunification remains an elusive goal hindered by social resistance on both sides, but not by organizational ideals. In the case of Freemasonry, mutual recognition between “black” and “white” Grand Lodges has proceeded at a steady pace for nearly ten years, while African-American members are increasingly common in formerly “white” Lodges.
For instance. at the international celebration of the 275th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of England in 1992 (the most recent Masonic gathering of about the same size as the Southern Baptist Convention), there were far more Blacks present than there were at the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston in 1993. Freemasonry’s movement regarding racial mailers affirms Masonry’s genuine evolution with the rest of American society and churches toward genuine brotherhood among all races.
In summary, looking over the concerns raised in the report, none are tenets and teachings as the report claims. Four of the concerns are merely misunderstandings of Masonic vocabulary by non-Masons. The complaint that some of the writers whose work Masonry studies are pre-Christian could be raised against any study of man, government, or philosophy. Almost all areas of study start with the ancient (pagan) Greeks. All members of the Fraternity know that Masonry does not invade the area of the Church to teach any doctrine of salvation, neither universalism, salvation by works, nor any other. And the objection that Masonry is some sort of whites only club is refuted by the myriad of non-whites wearing the Square and Compasses. Freemasonry is simply a Fraternity, – an organization of men, banded together to further develop themselves ethically and morally, and to benefit the community at large.
The Queen’s English
We will begin with box the plural is boxes. And if I give you a boot would a pair be called beet? But the plural of ox is oxen, not oxes. If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth, The fowl is of goose, but two are called geese. Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Yet the plural of mouse is never meese. If the singular’s this and the plural these, you may find a lone mouse, or a whole nest of mice, Should the plural of kiss ever be kees. But the plural is houses, not hice. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, If the plural of man is always men. But though we say mother, we never say methren. Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen? Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
If I speak of a foot and you show me two feet. But imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.
Anon.

[VICTORIA LODGE OF EDUCATION AND RESEARCH; 650 Fisgard Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 1R6; 1999 -4A]

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Masonic Lodge Symbols Education

Freemason Symbols: Masonic symbology has come down to us from the cuneiform scripts of the ancient Sumerians, circa 3000 B.C.. as well as the ancient Mesopotamians and Persians. Cuneiform writing was a series of pictographs (symbols) which were drawn on clay tablets with a blunt reed (or stylus).
Masonic scholars, today, question the origin of the Point within the Circle, whose parallel upright lines on both sides of the circle, closely resemble an Egyptian hieroglyphic (circa 1570–1342 B.C.).
Is it one of the first Freemason symbols?
It is not known; however this information creates questions in scholarly circles.
Did Freemasonry begin long before King Solomon’s temple was built (circa 953 B.C.)?
Did it begin with the operative stone mason guilds during the Middle Ages? (between 500 A.D. and 1500 A.D.) Did it begin in Scotland near the time of Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329)?
These questions are a subject of much debate within the fraternity. Thousands of research man-hours have been spent attempting to answer these questions, mostly to little avail.
Very little information has surfaced from the books and hand-written manuscripts that survived these eras in history.
Even Freemason symbols are subject to somewhat different interpretations across the many Masonic jurisdictions in the world.  Understanding Freemasonry Begins With Learning Its Symbols
Learning the Meanings of Freemason Symbols:
Masonic symbology was used in past centuries, not due as much to Masonic secrecy, (as many people believe), but due to the fact that most of the world’s population was illiterate.
During the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and through subsequent centuries, most of the population, being working people, were illiterate or had only a rudimentary (basic) ability to sign their names, make their “mark” to signify their acceptance, or read simple words.
During the Middle Ages, many Lords (wealthy landowners) could read (and some could not), but the Serfs (working class people), almost as a whole, had never been taught to read.
During the Dark Ages and extending throughout the Middle Ages, there was a loss of classical learning due to the many wars, bloodshed and unrest in which most of the old hand-printed scrolls, papyrus paper, books and records were burned by the opposing forces…much like King Solomon’s temple was dismantled and carried off, never to return.
Illiteracy did not make these Masons stupid or lesser operative Masons in the craft. They were simply working people, taking care of their families, who, by necessity, had to begin working at a very early age…usually from dawn until dusk, 6 days a week and did not have the time nor the teachers to avail themselves of the ability to learn to read or of any higher education.
Schools were for the wealthy
Thus, operative Freemason symbols were taught to these stone masons (workers in stone) as a part of their obligation for the betterment of their craft.
Actual (operative) stone masons made their “mark” by inscribing their work with their symbol (or logo), just as artists and other craftsmen have “signed” their work throughout the centuries. This “mark” symbolizes the uniqueness of the piece as well as the intent of the Master craftsman that each person who views it, be aware of its unique and personal craftsmanship.
Today, there are mass-printed books, everywhere, and a wealth of information on the internet about Freemasonry. But, this has not always been the case. In the operative stonemason days, only the very few people who could read, owned books.
Books were created by scribes who painstakingly copied down the the verbal words they heard or copied, (letter by letter) the words from other hand-printed scrolls, which later became hand-bound books. Due to the immense amount of time it took to create such a book, they were very rare and very expensive.
…Hence, due to the lack of books, much knowledge was passed down via the use of symbols and by word of mouth…a “monitorial” inculcation (mouth-to-ear-teaching).
Printing presses were actually invented by the Chinese circa 593 A.D. wherein each page’s text was hand-carved onto a wooden block, dipped into ink and then applied to cloth, and later, when paper became more readily available and less expensive, the ink-dipped blocks were applied to the paper, from which books could be bound.
In Germany, Johannes Gutenberg invented the use of movable type on his printing press (circa 1440 A.D.) …568 years ago, which made the creation of books much faster and much less expensive, and therefore, more easily acquired by the common man.
This fact accounts for the numerous different spellings of so many names and words in the Old Charges (Old Manuscripts) (1390 – 1714). Some of the Old Charges and old Masonic constitutions are on hand-written scrolls.
This also accounts for some of the many translation differences in the Holy Books of the major religions of the world which Freemasonry embraces…(the Bible, the Torah, the Veda, the Koran, etc.) down through history.
Masonic Scholars Study Freemason Symbols: True Masonic scholars have devoted a portion of their time to the study of the meanings of Freemason symbols.
Consequently, they have a strong foundation of knowledge which the non-scholar lacks. (The word “scholar” in this instance refers to a person who studies…and not a person who has a genius-level I.Q. mind, which others were not blessed with.)
Your Symbolic Foundation Beneath Your Middle Chamber: The perfect ashlars (stones) which made up the foundation of King Solomon’s Temple were gargantuan (huge) in size, ..some as large as 41 feet x 11.5 feet,… because in his wisdom; King Solomon understood the need to build a solid foundation for his temple…just as each of us must do.
Q: So, …now that nearly everyone has been taught to read …and with millions of books now available, as well as nearly 6,000,000 pages about Freemasonry on the internet and over 400 books about Freemason symbols and Masonic symbolism available on Amazon.com, why is this depth of knowledge not found in most Freemasons, today?
A: While there are lots of books and information available; unfortunately, a clear, concise, step-by-step Masonic education is nearly impossible to find. The foundation of Freemason ritual is built on Freemason symbols and biblical (Holy Book) references.
Therefore, it is impossible to fully understand Masonic ritual without understanding its underlying foundation…that of the biblical meanings within ritual and the rich history of these Freemason symbols …these Masonic symbols, which we have inherited.
Lodge education officers valiantly attempt to impart pieces of Masonic knowledge; …however the only true path to Masonic education is when you begin to link and understand the meaning of the words in the ritual to their biblical meaning coupled with the Freemasonry symbols which underlie it.
Memorizing the words is not enough. True light is achieved through study and understanding of that which you seek.
Only then can you “feel” the biblical power of our Creator’s words within Freemasonry’s tenets because this is where the rubber-meets-the-road.
Ritual, alone will not fulfill your quest. 50 years of perfect lodge attendance cannot create true “light”.
Degrees: Without a true understanding of the ancient and biblical tenets, Freemason symbols, Masonic history and why we circumambulate (the act of moving around a sacred object) in our ancestor’s footsteps around an altar glorified to our Creator;…the titles and degrees upon which we have been bestowed may possibly only be words which attempt to attach a scholarly credibility and experience to a man which he may not, in fact, yet possess.
Education, study and the resulting knowledge which comes from this learning process is the only method which leads to a “graduate”, once having received his “Master’s” degree, actually knowing what he studied, what he learned and why it is important in his life.
“As Hiram prayed daily for guidance from his God before drawing the designs that would set the craftsmen to work, so must we.”  Ancient of Days by William Blake, 1794
The watercolor etching, above was painted by William Blake in 1794. Its title is “Ancient of Days”. It refers to an excerpt of a passage from the book of Proverbs 8:27, (a book within both the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Bible), which says “when he set a compass upon the face of the earth.” Note: Different biblical translations may use different wording. Source: The Holy Bible; Self-Pronouncing Edition; Containing Old and New Testaments; Translated out of the Original Tongues; copyright 1903 by A.J. Holman Co., Philadelphia, PA.
“…Each Master Mason becomes his own architect. Each supervises the building of that “temple not made by hands.” Each builds into his structure beauty, harmony and knowledge to the extent he is willing to work.”…The Craft and Its Symbols, p. 84, 1974, Allen E. Roberts, MaCoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co.
Freemason Symbols
Looking back through history, we find that Masonic symbols have been drawn on tracing boards, scratched into the dirt with a stick during the days when lodges met on high hills and low vales in the outdoors, chiseled into stones, not only from stonemason artisans of the past making their Master’s Mark, (their attestation of their work as a job well done) but also proudly inscribed into our more modern-day building cornerstones.
Masonic Temple
We see Masonic symbols in each Masonic temple around the world. Masonic light abounds…and Masonic charity is well known.
Masonic Jewelry
Freemason symbols are most often noticed in Masonic jewellery such as Masonic rings, Masonic lapel pins and Masonic cufflinks. Members with other Masonic degrees, such as Knights Templar, wear Masonic jewelry displaying symbols of the Knights Templar sword, cross and other ancient symbols of the fraternity.
Masonic Art
Masonic art is full of Freemason symbols…whether it be a Masonic painting or on each and every one of the Masonic aprons across the world. Like Freemasons, themselves, each unique Masonic apron is a testament to its owner’s belief in a life well lived in brotherhood with other like-minded men.
Masonic Clip Art
Is Masonic artwork using Freemason symbols a thing of the past? No. Today, we have Masonic clip art. There is a lot of free Masonic clipart on the web. Some high resolution Masonic clipart is also available. Most is copyright free, for non-commercial use, but always check with the website’s policies before using it.
Masonic Regalia
Digital Masonic clipart is also used to embroider symbols onto Masonic regalia such as the Masonic altar cloth used in the lodge, Masonic officer aprons, Masonic funeral aprons and Masonic flags. Digitized routers are used to carve Freemason symbols into wooden Masonic regalia items such as the square and compasses symbol into the Masonic gavels and the Wardens Columns used in the lodge.
Freemason Symbols In The 21st Century
Much like the moveable-type printing presses replaced the scribes of yore, technological advances have also brought Freemasonry into the 21st century.
If you could go back in time and tell one of the scribes who hand wrote one of these entire Masonic constitutions encompassed in the Old Charges (circa 1400 A.D.) (without a single error or erasure) about a “magic box” called a computer, with a screen and a bunch of buttons on the table wherein if he pushed a few of these buttons, another “magic box” would print hundreds of pages in an hour; how could he possibly fathom such a preposterous idea?
It would be only logical for him to conclude, using only his current knowledge at the time, that witchcraft would have to be involved, or magic of some kind to be able to print pages from a “magic box”, that we now know as a printer.
Sadder still, he couldn’t even “Google” it to be able to find one! …And, even if he had a computer, we’d have to explain to him how electricity works and how to download drivers and, oh yes, teach him how to type.
We are a very fortunate generation that such a wealth of knowledge is now at our fingertips.
Deciphering The Cryptograms of Masonic Symbology
A Masonic scholar is simply one who reads for greater understanding in his “quest for more light”.
He learns the meanings of each cryptogram (a figure or representation having a secret or mysterious significance), so that he may build on it to understand the whole.
Think back a moment to your childhood…before you could read. You were riding along with your parents in the car and saw a big red, octagonal sign with black letters on it which was stuck on a post in the ground.
Until you were taught that a stop sign meant that you must (by law), stop the car, it is simply an imposing big red sign by the side of the road…and thus an enigma (a mystery) to you as to its meaning. Later, after you learned to read, you learned other road signs. You learned the meanings of “Merge”, “On Ramp”, “MPH”, etc.

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