Masonic Topics


Ron Blue, PM
Normal Lodge, No. 673, AF & AM
Normal, Illinois
Past Master and Secretary
Illinois Lodge of Research

Edited and Indexed
George S. Robinson, Jr., PM
Mt. Pickering Lodge, No. 446, F & AM
Upper Uwchland, Pennsylvania
19 January, 1993


**************************TOPIC***************************** Page

Early History of Masonry   1
Basic Masonic Philosophy    2
The Ancient Landmarks   4
Basic Questions 5
The Operative Entered Apprentice Degree 7
The 11 Charges of an Operative Mason    8
The Operative Fellowcraft Degree    9
The Fellowcraft Degree  10
Questions for the Fellowcraft Mason 13
The Master Masonís Degree   20
Meaning of the Degrees  20
The Responsibilities of a Master Mason  22
The Practical Aspects of FreeMasonry    23
The Symbolism of the Master Masonís Degree  24
Pennsylvania ìAhiman Rezonî extracts    29

Early History of Masonry
Speculative versus Operative Masons
To understand whence we came, one set of definitions is 
necessary. We call ourselves ìspeculativeî Masons, but our 
ancient brethren were ìoperativeî masons. The speculative 
Mason refers to Masons who do not work as masons. The 
operative mason wasóand is -- one who plies the trade of 
masonry. Today, we consider operative masons to be 
stonemasons, but in the Middle Ages the term was broader, 
covering carpenters and other tradesmen as well as 
What are the Roots of Masonry?
The roots of what we know as modern Masonry are obscured. 
And the changes in the Masonic fraternity, which have occurred 
over the years make our origins even more indistinct. The root 
of Masonry can be traced back to antiquity through the histories 
of builders and their organizations. Generally speaking, there 
are five major theories suggested to answer the questions 
regarding Masonryís origins.
1.  The first theory is that the medieval building guilds were 
the descendants of the architectural brotherhood of antiquity. 
Through the centuries, the master builders used apprentices in 
the construction projects. These apprentices trained to be 
craftsmen and, ultimately, masters of their crafts. Further, it is 
suggested that the training was not  limited to the craft, but 
included instruction in ethics and morality. This, according to 
theory, should come as no surprise since the major building 
efforts were sponsored by the Church, or by princes or political 
leaders closely associated with the Church.
2.  The second theory suggests that the origin of Masonry 
begins at the times of the various crusades. The Knights 
Templar Crusaders became aware of some of the esoteric 
traditions of antiquity of the Near East, and the history and 
mythology of Jerusalemís destroyed Temple of Solomon. This 
theory further suggests that the Knights Templar developed 
and adopted those traditions into their own ceremonies and, 
even after the suppression of their order in 1307, their rites and 
ceremonies continued and formed the basis of what 
subsequently became known as Masonry.
3.  The third theory says that Masonry originated in the 
1300s by a group of philosophers and moralists, who adopted 
architectural allegoriesóincluding the tools of the building 
tradesóas a method of expressing their concepts of the values 
and ethics of life.  During this time in the development of the 
world new thought and the questioning of generally accepted 
explanations of ethicsóand even the explanations regarding 
the workings of the worldówere not viewed with universal 
enthusiasm. In 1633, the Inquisition forced Galileo to deny the 
theory that the earth moved around the sunó instead of the 
then accepted truth that the sun moved around the earth. 
Therefore, secrecy in such an organization could be explained.

Basic Masonic Philosophy
4.  The fourth theory ascribes the origin of Masonry to the 
German philosopher Rosenkruetz (which means Red Cross). 
Rosenkruetz traveled to the Holy Land in the late 1300s. He 
returned to Germany in 1401 and is believed to have died there 
in 1484. The theory says he created a secret society known as 
the Rosicrucians (Rosy Cross), whose existence was not 
suspected for 120 years. But in 1605 it began to excite 
attention in Germany and, later, in France, The theory holds 
that the beliefs and ordinances of the Rosicrucian Society 
served as the basis for todayís Masonic organizations.
5.  The theory usually accepted as the most reasonable 
suggests that modern day FreeMasonry had its roots in the 
Middle Age building guilds - with no direct extension back to 

Regardless of which theory of origin you accept, a combination 
of record and guess has to be used to show how present day 
FreeMasonry developed.
Behind the ceremonies of all Masonic degrees lies a 
fundamental conception of this world in which we live and 
manís place in it. It is based on the belief common to all 
religions and to almost all systems of philosophy that there 
exists, somewhere, a Supreme Being who created this world, 
and of whom all mankind are the instruments and servants. 
With the particular attributes of this Supreme Being, and the 
manner and form in which He should be worshiped, Masonry 
has no concern. It emphasizes three fundamental ideas:
1)  God exists (by whatever name),
2)  Men are put into this world to exercise their faculties and 
work as Godís instruments,
3)  Their work is to be performed in accordance with certain 
principles of morality and justice which are indicated by the laws 
of Nature and by revelation contained in the Sacred Writings.
FreeMasonry has no sacred book of its own. The sacred book 
most often used is the Holy Bible but will always be the Volume 
of Sacred Law attributed to the candidateís faith.
The Masonic ritual has to do with the building of a great 
Temple. In the erection of this Temple many workmen are 
engaged, divided into crafts according to their ability and skill, 
and directed by overseers who are called masters and 
The work is proceeding according to the plan of the Great 
Architect. None of the masters or workmen know why the 
Temple is being built or what use is to be made of it after it is 
built. Nor do the master or the wardens or any of the workmen 
know the whole plan.  The Architect furnishes only designs, 
drawn on a Trestle-Board, from which each craftsman is given 
the details he must know in order to carry out that part of the 
work which it is his duty to perform. The workmen merely know 
that each must work with all his heart and soul and strength and 
to the utmost of his ability and skill, because the Great Architect 
has ordered it so.
Each understands that the successful completion of the work 
depends not only on his individual effort but also on the united 
cooperation and harmony of the Craft. Each understands that 
there can be no cessation of the work until the Temple is 
completed, at which time the Great Architect has let it be known 
that the whole design will be disclosed as well as the object and 
purpose of its building.  This is no fanciful picture designed for 
an eveningís entertainment, but is intended to represent and 
does faithfully represent the life of man.
He finds that in this world he must work if he is to receive the 
wages of life, which consist not merely of a ëlivingí: food, 
clothing, and shelter; but those equally essential satisfactions: 
interest in life, happiness, and contentment. He finds that he 
cannot choose the work he would like to do, but must adapt 
himself to conditions and circumstances imposed by a power 
outside himself. He gets his direction for doing his work from 
study of forces and the laws that govern the natural world and 
from written words of wisdom embodied in what are known as 
Sacred Volumes, or Bibles. He finds that he cannot work alone, 
that his work is dependent on mankind, and they on him, 
wherefore are formed governments, societies, and other 
organizations for cooperative effort. He sees many things 
happen to himself and to others, the reason for which he 
cannot fathom. At some times the world seems good, at others 
bad. Sometimes the work he is doing appears without purpose 
and without result. He continues to put forth effort only because 
he must.
Admission to the Middle Chamber->
The passage from the outer porch to the middle chamber 
represents manís journey from ignorance to enlightenment. His 
wages as a Fellowcraft are received in the Middle Chamber. 
These wages are a symbol of knowledge that can be gained by 
a closer relationship with his Creator.
The candidate must also find the doors to knowledgeóthe 
inner and outer entrances. To enter one of these, he needs a 
pass. To go through the other, he must have a word. Help is 
given to him in each instance, but such assistance is limited. 
This signifies that man must acquire knowledge through his 
own effort, though he is often dependent upon others for some 
The ritual of Masonry harmonizes these discordant impressions.
The Temple that is being built is the Temple of character; the 
great books of nature and revelation are the Trestle-Board; the 
voice of conscience is their interpreter; man is the workman; 
and the Supreme Architect is GOD.
Parts of the preceding text comes from the Manual for Lodges 
of Instruction from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, A F & A 

The Ancient Landmarks
While there is considerable disagreement over the number of 
“officialí landmarks of FreeMasonry, and each Grand Lodge 
accepts a different set, there are currently 7 that are universally 
accepted.  This article will attempt to lay those seven out.
First what is a Landmark? -- Landmarks in FreeMasonry are 
certain universal, unalterable, and unrepealable fundamentals 
which have existed from time immemorial and are so thoroughly 
a part of Masonry that no Masonic authority may derogate from 
or do aught but maintain them.
Now the 7 Landmarks.
1)  Monotheism is the sole dogma of FreeMasonry. Belief in 
one God is required of every initiate, but his conception of the 
Supreme Being is left to his own interpretation. FreeMasonry is 
not concerned with theological distinctions. This is the basis of 
our universality.
2)  Belief in Immortality is the ultimate lesson of Masonic 
philosophy. ìThe soul of man is the highest product of Godís 
creative handiwork. Now, after God has spent untold time in 
creating man and endowing him with a soul, which is the 
reflection of His image, is it reasonable to suppose that man 
lives here on earth for a brief span and then is extinguished by 
death?î  (Michael Pupin)
3)  The Volume of Sacred Law is an indispensable part of 
the furniture of a Lodge. Usually in the United States this is the 
Holy Bible, but any candidate not a Christian may have 
substituted for it any other volume he considers sacred: e.g.  
the Old Testament, Koran, Vedas, or Laws of Confucius. In 
many parts of the world it is not unusual for a Lodge to have 
more than one Sacred Book on its altar. The candidate may 
then be obligated on the book of his choice.
4)  The Legend of the Third Degree. This is the most 
important and significant of the ëlegendaryí symbols of 
FreeMasonry. It has descended from age to age by oral 
tradition, and has been preserved in every Masonic rite, 
practiced in any country or language, with no essential 
5)  Masonic Secrecy includes only methods of recognition 
and of symbolic instruction. It does not extend to everything 
relating to the institution. A secret society is one whose 
members are not publicly known, and whose existence is 
concealed from the world. Masonic bodies, however, meet 
openly; there is no secrecy concerning membership or officers, 
and Masonic symbols and philosophy are discussed in 
thousands of books accessible to anyone. In fact there is much 
discussion about this on computer bulletin boards such as 
those on the Prodigy and CompuServe time-sharing networks. 
And I have posted much myself on those bulletin boards about 
this subject.
6)  Symbolism of the Operative Art means that Masonic 
Symbols are taken from architecture. Almost without exception 
they relate to the building art: Square, Level, Plumb. Ashlars, 
Pillars, Trestle-Board, etc. The grand idea of Masonry is that 
the development of character is like the Building of a Temple; 
the same rules apply to both. There must first be a plan, then a 
foundation and framework, and finally, proportion and harmony 
of line. There must be ëwisdom to contrive, strength to support, 
and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakingsî. This 
is a practical truth of the universal application to all forms of 
achievement. The symbols of FreeMasonry are drawn from the 
experience of the ages.
7)  A Mason must be a freeborn adult male primarily 
because he must be master of his time, his resources, and 
himself. In Operative Masonry women and young men could not 
work at the masonís trade; so traditionally membership in the 
Craft has been confined to male adults, and from long usage 
this practice has become imbedded in the Fraternity as a 

The seven Landmarks laid out above are the 7 universally 
accepted by all Grand Lodges. They were first expounded by 
Brother Roscoe Pound for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts 
in 1916.
Basic Questions
How Old is Masonry?
The earliest references and records of the Masonic fraternity 
are fragmentary, and we are reduced to speculation in 
interpreting them. The Regius Manuscriptóconsidered to have 
been written between 1380 and 1400, contains the elements of 
a Constitution of Masonry. This suggests that an organization 
was evolving which was more ornate than a mere grouping of 
During the Middle Ages there were persecutions and edicts 
directed against both operative and speculative Masons. Thus it 
was prudent for Masons to keep their identity and their 
business secret.  As late as 1824, a lodge of Masons was 
raided in Granada, Spain.  Seven Master Masons who were 
present were hung, and a newly initiated Entered Apprentice 
was sentenced to five years of hard labor. There was adequate 
reason to keep their organization hidden.
Who Are FreeMasons?
FreeMasons are men who have joined together in order to 
improve themselves through the principles and ceremonies of 
the fraternity.  They endeavor to extend Masonic lessons into 
their daily lives in order to become positive influences in their 
homes, communities, nation, and throughout the world. They 
base their efforts on morality, justice, charity, truth, and the laws 
of the Supreme Being.  There are over 3,000,000 Masons in 
North America, and worldwide there are over 4,000,000 men 
who believe and support the same fundamental tenets.
What is a Masonic Building?
A lodge is a meeting place for Masons. This place may be used 
by Masons for regular business meetings, degree lessons, and 
social activities. They are also used by other Masonic groups or 
even for community activities. Lodge buildings or temples are 
often prominently marked and recognized as special landmarks 
in the cities and towns of North America.
What are Degrees?
Lessons in Masonry are taught in three separate stages by our 
symbolic lodges. The degrees, in order, are Entered 
Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. Each blends 
Masonic moral philosophy in a unique lesson, which is intended 
to have serious impact and influence on the man who receives 
What are Blue Lodges?
According to the writings of Masonic authorities, blue has from 
ancient times been associated with truth, Deity, wisdom, and 
hope.  Its association is symbolic. Individual lodges are often 
called ìBlue Lodgesî.
What is a Candidateís First Step?
After receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree, there are 3 
qualities which every Entered Apprentice should possess if he 
is to attain the full benefit and enjoyment of FreeMasonry. 
These are:
The Entered Apprentice should approach the experience of 
Masonry with a sense of learning so those who are appointed 
to teach him can be assured he wants to learn what is required 
of him before progressing further. He must have a sense of 
humility so that he will not develop a belief that he knows more 
than those who are assigned to teach him. Finally, he must 
develop a spirit of industry, because FreeMasonry desires 
candidates who want to know more about and improve 
themselves in Masonry, to spend time learning by reading 
available materials.
Where must a candidate first be prepared  to be made a 
Masonry is concerned with the building of your character in your 
life. Working toward this goal must begin within your heart, for if 
your heart is not ready, we cannot expect to make an exception 
on your mind. Therefore, each candidate who comes seeking 
light must first be prepared to be made a Mason in his heart .

The Operative Entered Apprentice Degree
As this is a Research Lodge, I thought I would give a little 
information about the ceremonies of conferring the degrees in 
an operative lodge. These ceremonies date back to before 926 
A.D. and are for entered apprentices only.
The candidate was proposed by one Mason, seconded by 
another, and supported by 5 more. The application was posted 
at the entrance of the quarry for 14 days. On 3 occasions the 
applicant must stand by the posting so that all might see him. 
When accepted, he had to appear on the appointed dayóthe 
6th day of the weekóat high 12.  He applies at the door and is 
admitted after giving the proper password, which was given to 
him. He is admitted onto a porch with double doors and takes 
an oath not to reveal any part of the proceedings. He kisses the 
book and puts his fee on the lower ledge of the foot stone.
The Lodge room of the Operatives was different than what we 
know today. It consisted of 3 Masters who sit in the West so 
they face east and can see the rising sun. The Senior Warden 
sits in the East so he can see the setting sun, and the Junior 
Warden sits in the North so that he can see the sun at meridian 
height. The altar is in the center of the lodge with the letter G 
suspended over it, and the Rough Ashlar at the east side. 
There are three Deacons present, one for the Masters and one 
for each Warden.
Inside the porch the candidate is divested of all money and is 
hoodwinked. Three men come out of the lodge, divest him of 
his clothes, and dirty him with mud. The doctor arrives and 
removes him of his hoodwink. He is told to ìWash and be 
cleanî. The bath is ready and the candidate bathes. 7 times 
does he dip. The doctor then examines him to see that he is 
sound in mind and limb and reports him ìperfect in all his partsî. 
He is then elected by the ìclean-handî sign. He is clothed in a 
white cloak (the origin of our symbolism of white), which 
signifies that the candidate is ìpureî. The candidate is again 
hoodwinked and has a blue cord looped around his neck, held 
by a man on either side. The neck cord being longer than the 
center cord, the four men make a diamond, with the candidate 
in the center.  This diamond had a reference to Operative 
Masonry, and the candidate and his four attendants make ì5 
pointsî, which has another reference to Operative methods.
The candidate now makes application at the inner door where 
he is met by a man with a sword held to him. He is then 
admitted and led to the North East corner, where he is 
questioned. (I will leave out the questions but they have to do 
with the ancient craft guilds). He must also profess a belief in 
God. He is then asked if he sees anything. He replies no and 
the hoodwink is slightly adjusted so that he can see his feet and 
the feet of the men around him so that he can see the track (or 
tessellated border). He walks around it by putting 1 foot in front 
of the other, toe to heel, and so on. This is called ìend on 
workî, or work in line. He must make a perambulation once 
without failing. He meets with some obstructions until he is 
finally at the rough ashlar where he kneels and takes his oath.
His obligation is somewhat similar to those taken in lodges 
today. After taking the obligation the candidate is requested to 
seal it with his lips. As his lips are brought to the book, a large 
seal of soft wax is placed underneath them, his head is forcibly 
pushed downward so that an actual impression of his lips is 
taken by the wax, and his obligation is ìsealed with his lipsî 
both actually and literally. When the obligation is finished one 
Master says to the Deacons, ìGive light that he may place his 
hand to the bondî. A pen is put in his hand, and he signs the 
bond, ìGiven under my hand and sealed with my lipsî.     He is 
then assisted to rise and is then an apprentice to the Craft of 
FreeMasons. He is given a charge which consists of 11 points. 
He is then actually presented with his working tools which are 
his to work with. These tools are the chisel, the small maul, and 
the straight edge and he is then given the apprenticeís apron. 
He is then taken to the northeast corner stone and asked how 
he is going to live until he draws his first weeks pay.  If he says 
poor, then he is taken before the Masters in the West and 
reports that he has no means of living. The Masters carve 
charity for him and a collection is taken. (Might this be the origin 
of a certain part of our ritualóthe deposit)? If he says he has 
money then no collection is made. For 7 years he remains an 
apprentice, being taught a trade. During this time he wears his 
blue neck cord as a sign that he is still bound as an apprentice. 
(In many jurisdictions we still wear a blue collar or neck cord 
from which we hang our jewels).
At the end of 7 years the apprentice applies to be made free of 
his bond and become a Fellow Craft.
The 11 Charges of an Operative Mason
1). You shall truly honor El Shaddai, and his holy church, the 
your Master, and Wardens; you shall not absent yourself, but 
with license of one or both of them from their service, by day or 
by night.
2). You shall not purloin or steal, or be privy or accessory to the
purloining or stealing of the value of six pence from them or 
either of them.
3). You shall not commit adultery or fornication in the house of
your Master, with his wife, daughter, or maid.
4). You shall not disclose your Masterís or Wardenís secrets or
councils, which they have reported unto you, or what is to be 
concealed, spoken, or done within the privities of their own 
house, by them or either of them, or by any FreeMason.
5). You shall not maintain any disobedient argument with your
Master, Warden, or any FreeMason.
6). You shall reverently behave yourself toward all FreeMasons,
using neither cards, dice, or any other unlawful games, 
Christmas time excepted.
7). You shall not haunt or frequent any taverns or alehouses, or 
much as go inside any of them, except it be your Masterís or 
your Wardenís, with their or one of their consents.
8). You shall not commit adultery or fornication in any manís 
where you shall be at table or work.
9). You shall not marry, or contract yourself to any woman 
your apprenticeship.
10). You shall not steal any manís goods, but especially your
Masterís or any of his fellow-Masons, nor suffer any to steal 
their goods, but shall hinder the felon if you can, and if you 
cannot, then you will acquaint the Master and his fellows 
11). All these articles and charges, which I have now recited 
you, you shall well and truly observe, perform, and keep to the 
best of your power and knowledge.
So help you El Shaddai and the true and holy contents of this 
The above held the Operative Apprentice Mason to a very strict 
life, but one that we can see would make a better man of him.
I believe the Operative stonemason had a very harsh life and 
these kind of charges were necessary to keep order and hold 
strife to a minimum.
The Operative Fellowcraft Degree
At the end of 7 years the entered apprentice applies to be 
made free of his bond. He makes an application which is placed 
at the entrance of the stoneyard quarry. Once accepted he is 
made to go and kneel on the same Ashlar where he was bound 
7 years previous. The bond is torn up, the blue cord is removed 
from his neck.
The Master then says ìRise, free brother; you are now superior 
to an apprentice, but inferior to a Fellow of the Craft of 
He is then given the pass grip and pass word leading from the 
first to the second degree. Before the candidate is accepted as 
suitable to be passed to the 2nd degree he must prepare a 
rough dressed Ashlar as an example of his work. A rough 
dressed Ashlar is the Ashlar as it is prepared in the first degree 
or apprentice yard for the more expert workman. It is dressed 
1/16th of an inch too large all over; this stone has to be 
prepared by the candidate and passed by the Inspector of 
Material before the free brother can be passed as a Fellow of 
the Craft.
When the candidate goes into the 2nd degree Lodge to be 
made a Fellow, he must have this specimen with him. He must 
swear it is his own work.
At the appointed time, 12 noon on a Friday, he goes to the door 
of the second degree yard and knocks. On giving the pass 
word and pass grip he is admitted. The Master gives notice, 
“The Fellows in the East, South, West, and North will take 
notice that BR. ____ is about to pass in view before them to 
show that he is a candidate properly prepared to be made a 
fellow of the Craftî. He is then led around the candidateís track 
twice. This time his right foot is put transversely across the axis 
of the Lodge. This is ìheader and stretcherî work, or ìone on 
oneî. He is then led to the altar, where, kneeling on a rough-
dressed Ashlar stone, on both bare knees, he takes the 
obligation of that degree.
After the obligation is given and the Bible sealed as explained 
in the Entered Apprentice degree, it is said to him, ìRise, 
Accepted Fellow of the Craft of FreeMasonsî. Then the signs of 
a Fellow are given. He is given a word which proves him to be a 
Fellow of the Craft, and means builder. A traditional history of 
Masonry is then recited to him by the first or lead Master. (see a 
later note) After the history then a charge called ìCharges of 
Nimrodî is recited to him by the second Master. Then a charge 
similar to the one given in the Apprentice degree is recited by 
the third Master. This charge consists of 26 points and really 
puts the fellowcraft under certain obligations to perform well.
He is then given a Fellowís apron and is given his working tools 
which are the plumb, level, and the square, another straight 
edge, and the perfect Ashlar square, which is a wooden frame 
being the exact size of a royal cubit, or 21 7/8 inches inside. He 
is now a free man and a FreeMason of the city or town in which 
he had been apprenticed, He begins his work in the Northeast 
corner with the other new Fellows where he is taught to make 
the stone true and polished.
The Fellowcraft Degree
Masonic Symbolism
The following are parts taken from several Masonic scholars 
and are intended to give an introduction to Masonic symbolism. 
While no person can claim to be a true spokesperson for 
FreeMasonry, some of these will give at least a beginning of an 
understanding of the craft. I will give credit to those authors I 
am quoting.
One of our Masonic scholars once said, ìThe symbolism of 
Masonry is the soul of Masonry. Every symbol of a lodge is a 
religious teacher, the mute teacher also of morals and 
philosophy. It is in its ancient symbol and in the knowledge of 
their true meanings that the preeminence of FreeMasonry over 
all other orders consists. In other respects, some of them may 
compete with it, rival it, perhaps even excel it; but by its 
symbols it will reign without a peer when it learns again what its 
symbols mean, and that each is the embodiment of some great, 
old, rare truth.î  (A. Pike)
“In our Masonic studies, the moment we forget that the whole 
and every part of FreeMasonry is symbolic or allegoric, the 
same instant we begin to grope in the dark. Its ceremonies, 
signs, tokens, words, and lectures at once become 
meaningless or trivial. The study of no other aspect of 
FreeMasonry is more important, yet the study of no aspect of it 
has been so much neglected.î  (Oliver Day Street)
“Take from FreeMasonry its symbols and but the husk remains, 
the kernel is gone. One who hears but the words of 
FreeMasonry misses their meaning entirelyî.  (Carl Claudy)
These quotations firmly establish the vital role of symbolism in 
the Masonic system. It seems fitting, therefore, that every 
craftsman have a clear conception of what a symbol really is 
and why the study of Masonic symbolism is so essential to a 
comprehensive knowledge of our art.
Literally, a symbol is a comparison. The word symbol is derived 
from two Greek words meaning to throw together, to place side 
by side. Thus, a symbol is a visible representation of some 
object or thing, real or imagined, employed to convey a certain 
We have no other way to express ideas than by the use of 
symbols. When we say a man is ìlion-heartedî we use 
symbolism. In ordinary usage, however, by symbol we mean an 
object which stands for an idea. The Flag is a symbol of our 
country; the Cross is a symbol of Christianity; the Square is a 
Masonic symbol of virtue.
Extending this conception further, ceremonies and actions may 
also be symbolic. The military salute is a symbol of obedience 
and discipline. A hearty handclasp may symbolize several 
ideas, friendship, faith, sympathy. Kneeling for prayer is a 
symbol of humility, submission, obeisance, reverence.
It may be fairly asked why Masonic ritual should be so largely of 
objective and ceremonial symbols; why it would not be simpler 
to give a series of lectures. The answer, of course, lies in the 
well-established fact that it is not enough to merely state ideas; 
they must be driven home with emphasis which will not only 
impress but will also be retained by the recipientís mind.
“FreeMasonry is rehearsed to the candidate by the rendition of 
ritual, imparted to his mind by story, and impressed upon the 
memory by symbols. By drama, story, and symbol, the eye, the 
ear, and the recollection continually enrich the mind and 
quicken the conscience of the thinking members of the Craftî. 
(Albert Mackey)
“Symbols are more vivid than words. They can express more 
than words can say. Who can explain a flower, or say what a 
melody means ìIf in Masonry, we speak of a Temple, we do not 
mean one of stone and mortar. If we speak of a square, we do 
not mean one of steel or wood.  If we speak of the Compass, 
we do not mean one of metalî. (Oliver Day Street)
Symbols are more impressive than words. The person who 
sees the symbol makes his own interpretation. The thought, 
then, is his own.  He has done more than see the symbol; he 
has created an idea. For a man holds to his own ideas, and 
remembers them; and a symbol can express in an instant a 
whole series of ideas; thus it does the work of many speeches.
“The story of FreeMasonry, like other records told by the 
tongue, would become stale by repetition and fall upon the ear 
less vigorously each succeeding time we heard it, were it not 
that the facts historical and the philosophies social and 
individual are linked to words by pictures, an orderly system of 
spoken sounds and symbols illustrating and impressing the eye 
and ear simultaneously...For this reason FreeMasonry uses the 
simplest of symbols; the tools and materials of the 
Stonemasonís trade are sufficient for this purpose and they are 
found everywhere...
Our symbols are truly the quarried treasures of the Fraternity, 
set forth to be applied by each of us in the building up of his 
character...And, after all, that is FreeMasonry. To morally 
square perfectly every contributing element that makes us what 
we are; to take each of these and apply them one to another 
uprightly to the formation of a praiseworthy life, and to build our 
personal structure so that we may stand upon our record 
securely before men with an integrity perpendicularly like unto 
the plumb, with a purpose absolutely level, as is the implement 
of that name, and, withal, as positively square as ever the most 
accurate of such tools would verify. That is the purpose of our 
Craft.  (Albert Mackey)
“In the ceremonies of making a Mason, we do not attempt to do 
more than to indicate the pathway to Masonic knowledge, to lay 
the foundation for the Masonic edifice. The Brother must 
pursue the journey or complete the structure for himself by 
reading and reflection.î  (Oliver Day Street)
When our ritual ends, we have but given him a pattern, a blue-
print, for the erection of his own, personal Temple.
“.... the symbolism of Masonry, like Masonry itself, is multi-
sided... Each view is of value and it is well that the subject 
should be approached from every direction, but as no man can 
comprehend it all, it is fitting and right that each student should 
concentrate his attention on that division of the subject in which 
he is most interested.î  (Charles Hunt)
True, the ritual does assign a definite meaning to a certain few 
of our emblems and symbols; and these interpretations must be 
considered as basic and official; and, in the main, universal. But 
this does not signify that the meanings thus assigned are 
restricted and cannot be expanded if their value to the 
individual is enhanced.
“He whose soul is not stirred to the very depths by the 
knowledge that the principles of his beloved Order have 
inspired men in every age and clime, as well as he to whom the 
beautiful teachings of our progressive science are but moral 
platitudes, is an individualist interested only in his own narrow 
self, indifferent to the practical application of the useful rules of 
architecture whence his spiritual structure shall derive figure, 
strength, and beauty.  The science is of no avail unless it leads 
to the practice of the art, and though we should possess all 
knowledge and be able in beautiful and sublime language to 
utter the thoughts that arise in us as we contemplate the 
glorious Order, it profiteth us nothing. It is not by intellectual 
attainment or oral expression that we become Masons, but by 
the way in which we acquire the science and couple it with the 
art of Temple building, and practice it in our everyday 
association with out fellow men. ëNo degree of Masonry is of 
any avail, unless it bears fruit in actioníî. (Charles Hunt)
Literally, every word, every act, every forward step in our ritual 
has a definite purpose and can be properly interpreted as being 
applicable to some phase of human existence.
Hopefully this article will explain some of the symbolism of our 
Craft and will show, by using the quotes of some Masonic 
scholars, that we are an order that wants to make the entire 
world a better place to live. We have no other mission than that 
which has been clearly articulated by Masons from time 

Questions for the Fellowcraft Mason
1.  What are we trying to emphasize in the Fellowcraft 
2.  The Fellowcraft Degree symbolizes man in what period 
of his life?
3.  Approximately when did we start to become speculative 
rather than operative Masons?
4.  When and where was the first Grand Lodge formed?
5.  What does the level symbolize?
6.  What does the plumb symbolize?
7.  What are the jewels of the Fellowcraft and what do they 
8.  What do corn, wine, and oil represent?
9.  What are the names of the two pillars at the beginning 
of the flight of winding stairs and what do they represent?
10. What do the winding stairs as a whole represent?
11. What do the first three steps represent?
12. What do the next five steps represent?
13. What do the final seven steps represent?
14. Why is there an odd number of steps?
15. What are we trying to teach on the journey to the Middle 
16. What is the Middle Chamber?
17. Why do we use the letter ìGî?
18. Why is the cable-tow placed on the right side? 

What was the first Lodge in America?
While it is reasonable to assume Masonry was formally 
established in America prior to 1730, records are fragmentary at 
best. In 1776, the records of the Grand Lodge of England show 
that it had authorized the formation of 36 local lodges in 
However, the first written records of a Masonic lodge in America 
are those of St. Johnís Lodge in Philadelphia and date back to 
1731.  Benjamin Franklin was made a Mason in 1734. It is 
certainly clear that Masonry and Masonic lodges were well 
established prior to that date, but written evidence is 
What was the first truly American Lodge?
In 1733, a ceremony took place in the Bunch of Grapes Tavern 
in Boston. Acting under written authority from the Grand Lodge 
of England, the first American Masonic Lodge was founded by 
Henry Price, who was described as Provincial Grand Master of 
New England.
What was the most help in causing the expansion of Masonry 
in America during the early years?
During that early period, other European Masonsówithout 
dispensation from European Grand Lodgesómet in the 
Americas, formed Lodges, and initiated candidates. Military 
lodges, formed by Masons who were members of a nationís 
armed forces, account for important expansions in the 
dissemination and growth of the Fraternity.
Who published the first Book of Constitutions in America?
Ben Franklin was a Master Mason in Philadelphia when he 
published the first Masonic publication in the New World, The 
Book of Constitutions, in 1734.
Did Masons participate in the Revolutionary War?
Masons played an important part in the formation of the United 
States and especially in the Revolutionary War and the events 
that led up to this war. It is commonly believed that the lodge 
rooms of a Boston Masonic Lodge served as the dressing room 
for the so-called Indians who threw the Boston Tea Party. Paul 
Revere, who later went on to be Grand Master of 
Massachusetts, was thought to be one of those Indians.
What part did Masons play in the formation of the new 
Because of incomplete records, authorities differ on such 
matters as:
How many Masons signed the Declaration of Independence? 
The Constitution? How many Presidents of the United States 
were Masons? Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of 
Independence, the number eight is usually accepted as the 
absolute minimum of Masons who signed the document. 
Though some evidence exists to show another 24 were 
Masons, It is not regularly accepted that they were Masons. 
Clearly, 13 of the 39 who signed the Constitution were 
members of Masonic lodges. Of the others, absolute proof has 
not been found.
How much influence did the Masonic fraternity have on the 
creation of our system of government?
In 1717, in England, local Masonic lodges created a system 
whereby they sent representatives to a body called the Grand 
Lodge, which governed them all. The Grand Lodge then 
elected its own Grand Master. The experiment, which began in 
this country in 1788, is one in which states send their 
representatives to a Congress. And if Brother Alexander 
Hamilton had prevailed, the Congress would be electing the 
President of the United States.  Sound familiar?
A number of authorities report that General George 
Washingtonís staff looked like a Masonic convention. The list of 
American Masons in Washingtonís service included many of his 
Generals.  Other revolutionary heroes included Patrick Henry, 
Nathan Hale, and John Paul Jones, just to name a few. The 
record shows that by 1800 there were 347 lodges in the United 
What was the Morgan Affair?
During the first half of the 19th century, there was a strong 
religious revival in the United States and Masonry became a 
convenient target for some (sound familiar?). In those days it 
was common to hear tales of Masonic occult orgies, plots to 
take over the government, and of our strange and terrible 
oaths. Although they are still strange and terrible, everyone 
knows they are entirely symbolic, historic, and ritualistic. 
Nevertheless, in those days some considered Masonry to be a 
rival of the church. Others considered it to be a separate church 
and still others thought it to be an atheistic society.
In 1830 conditions looked grim for the Masonic fraternity. There 
was much anti-Masonic talk by politicians and in the 
newspapers. This may have been partially caused by the fact 
that Masons held key positions in the state and Federal 
At this time, a Mason by the name of William Morgan was a 
member of a lodge in Batavia, New York. He was a printer, a 
drinker, a quarreler, and he didnít like to pay his debts. He 
wasnít too popular among his Masonic brethren. When that 
Batavia lodge petitioned to form a Royal Arch Society (an 
appendant body of Masonry) -- the members of the lodge 
omitted Morganís name from the roster. He became upset and 
threatened to publish the so-called Masonic secrets.  Although 
there is no proof of who actually did it, his printing plant was 
destroyed by fire. He was arrested for debt and jailed. One 
evening a few men called on him and took him away. Morgan 
was never heard of again. The anti-Masons used this incident, 
blaming Masons and publishing the details far and wide. This 
“Morgan Affairî was probably one of the reasons for the growth 
of the political party known as the ìAnti-Masonic Partyî.
What was the ìAnti-Masonic Partyî?
The feelings against Masonry in the early 1830s were so strong 
that a political party was formed. This political party was called 
the Anti-Masonic Party. In 1832, Brother Andrew Jackson (who 
also served as Grand Master of Tennessee) ran for a second 
term as president against Henry Clay (also a Mason). Also in 
the race was William Wirt, the only man ever to run for 
President on the Anti-Masonic ticket. Wirt had been Attorney 
General under John Quincy Adams and, among other things, 
was a biographer. One of his most famous biographies was that 
of Patrick Henry, a Mason. Wirtís running mate was a Mason. 
Wirt got only seven electoral votes, winning the state of 
Vermont. Brother Jackson won the election.
What happened at Nauvoo, Illinois with the Mormons?
There was considerable social ferment in the nation prior to the 
Civil War. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith, was a 
Mason as was Brigham Young. In 1884, after Smith was found 
murdered in Illinois and because of the Mormon practice of 
polygamy (a practice since officially abandoned), among other 
things, Brigham Young and 1,500 Mormon Masons were 
expelled from the Craft. Since that time, some Mormons have 
not looked too kindly on FreeMasonry. But it is of interest to 
compare the symbols of the Mormon Church with those of the 
Masonic Order. The bee hive immediately comes to mind.
Who were/are some famous American Masons?
The history of Masonry and the history of this country are very 
clearly interwoven although there is no way in this short space 
to go into any great detail. The following is a short list of some 
well known Masons.
Masonic Presidents include George Washington, James 
Munroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, 
Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, 
Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Gerald Ford. 
Evidence exists to suggest that James Madison and Thomas 
Jefferson were also Masons.
It wasnít only the successful presidential candidates who were 
Masons, but some of those who lost as well. Men like Thomas 
E. Dewey, Alf Landon, Hubert H. Humphrey, Robert Dole, 
George McGovern, Barry Goldwater, Estes Kefauver, George 
Wallace, Earl Warren, and John Sparkman as well as Wendell 
Willkie and Adlai Stevenson (not the governor of Illinois, but his 
father, the Vice President in 1892 -- and a native son from 
Bloomington, Illinois).
The themes of the Fellowcraft Degree are education and 
achievement, emphasizing the dignity and worth of the 
individual. The more a man learns through the pursuit of 
knowledge, the more he achieves.
This degree symbolizes man in his prime, ready to accept the 
responsibility of life, not only for himself, but for his family, and 
all of society. When a Mason assumes the duties and privileges 
of a Fellowcraft, he is taught that he is responsible for his own 
What does the term ìFellowcraftî mean?
In operative Masonry, those just beginning to learn the craft 
were apprenticed to a master stonemason. They received no 
wages except for their food, clothing, and sleeping quarters. If 
they showed some skill, they were entered, usually after about 
three years. After seven more years they were made fellows of 
the craft, which meant they could do work on their own. In 
speculative Masonry, after the Entered Apprentice has shown 
proficiency (as exemplified by the Catechism), he will be 
passed to the Fellowcraft Degree.
What are the basic teachings of the Second Degree?
The Fellowcraft Degree symbolizes the years of manhood and 
his attendant responsibility during his life on earth. During these 
years, he obtains knowledge and applies this knowledge to the 
building of his character and improving the society in which he 
lives. In the ritual of the degree, a Fellowcraft is urged to 
advance his education in the liberal arts and sciences.
The Preparation->
The changes in dress from an Entered Apprentice Mason to a 
Fellowcraft Mason are slight. Gaining admission is similar to the 
first degree, with the addition of a pass, which is given for him 
by his conductor. We are trying to teach that knowledge is 
freely given toward gaining the privileges of FreeMasonry, and 
that, with the aid of others, we are able to advance.
The Reception->
The square is used in the reception. The Square is used to 
teach us that it should be a rule and guide in all our future 
transactions with all mankind.
The Cable-Tow->
This is a symbol of control for the individual. To many, the 
cable-tow is symbolic of the umbilical cord, which is necessary 
to begin life, but is severed when love and care replace it and 
the individual grows on his own. Thus, in our ceremonies, the 
cable-tow is removed when the need for physical control no 
longer exists.
The length of the cable-tow is frequently referred to in the 
language of FreeMasonry, but many brethren do not 
understand its meaning. Formerly, a cable-tow was deemed to 
be the distance one could travel in an hourówhich was 
assumed to be about three miles.  Today this is any distance 
from which a summons may be answered, health and business 
permitting. Each Mason is bound to all other Masons by a tie as 
long and as strong as he himself determines his ability will 
The Obligation->
The obligation is the heart of every degree and its solemnity 
must be impressed upon every candidate. In addition to the 
vow of secrecy in the First Degree, the obligation has other 
important points which bind each Brother.
Obedience, assistance, and the protection of one another are 
pledged by each Mason to all others, binding them by a tie 
which should last their Masonic lifetime. The penalties have the 
same significance as those invoked in the first degree, and are 
symbolic rather than physical.
The Emblems of a Fellowcraft->
These include the plumb, square and level, corn, wine and oil, 
the pillars, the winding stairs, the liberal arts and sciences, and 
the letter ìGî. The Fellowcraft should become very familiar with 
them, for they epitomize the lessons of this degree.
The Working Tools->
The Square is the symbol of morality, truthfulness, and honesty.
The direction of the two sides of the square form an angle of 90 
degrees or a right angle, so-called because this is the angle 
which stones must have if they are to be used to build a stable 
and upright wall.
When we part on the square, we go in different directions, but 
in full knowledge that our courses in life will be going according 
to the angle of the square (which means in the right direction) 
until we meet again.
The Level is a symbol of equality. We do not mean equality in 
wealth, social distinction, civic office, or service to mankind, but 
rather we refer to the internal and not the external 
qualifications.  Each person is endowed with a worth and 
dignity which is spiritual, and should not be subject to man-
made distinctions.
The quality practiced in Masonry recognizes that one man may 
have greater potential in life, service, or reward than another, 
but we also recognize that any man can aspire to any height, 
no matter how great. Thus, the Level dignifies labor and the 
man who performs it. It also acknowledges that all men are 
equal without regard to station.
The Plumb is a symbol of our uprightness of conduct. In 
FreeMasonry it is associated with the plumb line which the Lord 
promised Amos He would set in the midst of his people Israel, 
symbolizing the Supreme Beingís standard of divine 
The plumb line in the midst of a people should mean that they 
will be judged by their own sense of right and wrong and not by 
the standards of others. By understanding the plumb, a Mason 
is to judge his Brothers by his own standards and not those of 
someone else. When the plumb line is thought of in this way, it 
becomes a symbol of an upright life and of the conscience by 
which each person must live.
The Jewels->
The jewels of a Fellowcraft are not made of precious stones 
and metals. Rather they are attributes of character that all 
Masons hopefully have. The attentive ear, the instructive 
tongue, and the faithful breast remind the Craftsman that the 
time-honored method of instruction is by word-of-mouth. The 
secrets of FreeMasonry are always deposited in the hearts of 
faithful Brethren. These jewels should signify the necessity to 
learn to utilize good Masonic instruction and to develop a 
devotion to the teachings of our Craft.
The Wages->
Corn, Wine, and Oil are symbolic wages which are earned by 
the Fellowcraft who completes his task and comes to the Middle 
Chamber.  These symbolize wealth in mental and spiritual 
Corn represents nourishment and the sustenance of life. It is 
also a symbol of plenty, and refers to the opportunity for doing 
good, to work for the community, and to perform service to 
mankind.  Wine is symbolic of refreshment, health, spirituality, 
and peace. Oil represents joy, gladness, and happiness. Taken 
together, corn, wine, and oil represent the reward of living a 
good life.
The Pillars->
There are two pillars placed before the entrance to King 
Solomonís Temple which are symbolically represented within 
every lodge of Fellowcrafts. These pillars bear names familiar to 
every Mason and symbolize strength and establishment.
The Globes of the Columns->
These are the celestial and terrestrial globes and are symbols 
of universality. The shape of the globes lets us know that this is 
a modern addition to Masonic ritual since our forbears thought 
the earth was flat and the heavens were a sphere revolving 
around it.
The Winding Staircase->
This represents the process of an inquiring mind toiling and 
labouring toward intellectual cultivation and study, This is the 
road to knowledge. The winding stairs, by their very design, are 
also symbols of courage and faith.
The Symbolism of Numbers->
The symbolism of numbers is first presented to the new Mason 
in the Winding Stairs lecture. The total number of steps is 
fifteen which is symbolic because ancient builders would often 
build temples with an odd number of steps. If a worshipper 
began his ascent with his right foot, he found the same foot 
forward when entering the Temple. Entering on the right foot 
was thought to be a good omen.
The numbers mean:
The first three steps allude to the three degrees which every 
Master Masonís Lodge confers and to the three principal 
officers of the lodge.
The second group, five steps, teaches the use of the Order in 
architecture and that this order must be applied to our own 
spiritual temple.
The final seven steps symbolize the liberal arts and sciences, 
the crowning glory of man -the development of both mind and 
spirit, and the acquisition of courage and faith. These are the 
wages of a worthy Fellowcraft.
Admission to the Middle Chamber->
The passage from the outer porch to the middle chamber 
represents manís journey from ignorance to enlightenment. His 
wages as a Fellowcraft are received in the Middle Chamber. 
These wages are a symbol of knowledge that can be gained by 
a closer relationship with his Creator.
The candidate must also find the doors to knowledgeóthe 
inner and outer entrances. To enter one of these, he needs a 
pass. To go through the other, he must have a word. Help is 
given to him in each instance, but such assistance is limited. 
This signifies that man must acquire knowledge through his 
own effort, though he is often dependent upon others for some 
The Middle Chamber->
In modern FreeMasonry, the Middle Chamber is the symbolic 
place of reward. Historically, this is thought of as the place 
where the Fellowcraft met to receive wages for their labours on 
the Temple of Solomon.
They assembled on the evening of the sixth day of the week 
and those who were entitled to the wages of a Fellowcraft were 
invested with certain mysterious signs, tokens, and a word 
which enabled them to pass the inner and outer guards and to 
enter the Middle Chamber.  If they did not have the proper 
identification, they did not get into the Middle Chamber or 
receive wages.
King Solomonís Temple->
FreeMasonry did not originate in the Temple of Jerusalem, but 
our rituals are enriched by reference to this magnificent 
structure.  For a full description of the Temple, one should read 
the accounts found in the First Book of Kings, chapters 5 
through 8, and the record of another writer found in the First 
Book of Kings, beginning in the 2nd chapter.
The Letter G->
The letter G is a symbol of geometry and also of Deity. By the 
letter G, we are reminded that our every act is done in the sight 
of the Supreme Being and that Divine Providence is over all of 
our lives. To the operative craftsman, geometry portrayed the 
order and harmony of parts found in the universe. It also 
provided the principles of design and construction whereby he 
The Responsibilities of a Fellowcraft->
The Fellowcraft is reminded that he is to acquire knowledge 
and apply that knowledge to his duties in life so that he can fill 
his place in society with satisfaction and honour.
The Master Masonís Degree
Masonic Visitation->
Visitation at other Lodges is a right acquired when the visitor 
proves himself to be a Mason in good standing and if no 
member of the Lodge being visited objects. In order to gain 
admission to another Lodge one should carry documentary 
evidence (something with a Lodge seal on it) with one at all 
Visitation rights to another Lodge can be gained in two ways.
First, by undergoing ìstrict trial and due examinationî, or 
second, by being vouched for by a Brother of the Lodge being 
Undergoing examination usually consists of the visitor showing 
his dues card and being examined by a committee appointed 
by the Worshipful Master. The examination is made to satisfy 
the committee that the visitor is a Master Mason and able to 
partake in the meeting without embarrassment to himself. After 
the examination, the committee will vouch for the visitor in an 
open Lodge.
Masonic Burial->
Masonic funeral rites are conducted only at the request of some 
member of a Masonís immediate family or the member. The 
choice belongs to the family and not to the Lodge. These rites 
can be held in the church, the funeral home, or at graveside.
Meaning of the Degrees
Why do Candidates wear special garments?
The wearing of special garments during each of the degrees in 
Masonry is part of being ìduly and truly prepared. These 
garments are furnished by the Lodge in order to emphasize our 
concern  with a manís internal qualities rather than his worldly 
wealth and honors.  By wearing the garments of humility the 
candidate signifies the sincerity of his intentions.
What are the Symbols of Masonry?
Most of the great lessons of FreeMasonry are imparted by 
symbols which were carefully selected by our Masonic 
forefathers. In this degree the candidate is introduced to the 
following symbols:
          the hoodwink             the rite of Perambulation
          the Cable-tow            the Altar
          the Entrance             the Worshipful Master
          the reception            the Great Light of FreeMasonry
          the Holy Saints-John     the Obligation
          Form of a Lodge          the Apron
the rite of Destitution  the Charge
          the Working Tools        the Lectures
          the Northeast Corner     King Solomonís Temple

Why should Masons study the Emblems of Masonry?
The emblems express Masonic truths in ways that words alone 
cannot. By reflecting on the symbolic meaning it is hoped that 
the Entered Apprentice will apply their teachings to his daily life. 
The Entered Apprentice should study all of the emblems of the 
degree, for each is important and should be thoroughly 
understood by him. For example, the lambskin or white apron is 
often a symbol of innocence.  The twenty-four inch gauge is a 
symbol for the twenty-four hours of the day. A wise use of time 
is suggested by this emblem.
What is the Tyler and why is he outside the Lodge room?
The Tyler guards the avenues approaching the lodge. A lodge 
is said to be duly tyled when the necessary precautions have 
been taken to guard against intrusion by cowans, 
eavesdroppers, or other unauthorized persons. (A cowan is one 
who tries to masquerade as a Mason; not having learned the 
work, but stating that he has in order to gain admittance. An 
eavesdropper is one who tries to steal the secrets of our Craft.)
Why is a lodge always opened with a prayer?
No lodge can be opened or closed without a prayer which is 
offered by the Chaplain. The wording of these prayers attempt 
to avoid sectarianism in the lodge. Following Amen, each 
member responds with the words ìSo Mote It Beî, meaning ìSo 
May It Ever Beî.
What are the Rights of a Master Mason->
These consist of Masonic Relief, Masonic Visitation, and 
Masonic Burial.
Masonic Relief->
Masonic Relief may be applied for by any Brotheróeither to his 
own Lodge or to an individual Master Mason. In every case, the 
individual has the right to determine the worthiness of the 
request and whether such aid can be granted without material 
injury to his own family.
Relief is a voluntary function of both the Lodge and the 
individual. The Brother requesting relief has no vested interest 
in the Lodge or claim upon any individual Master Mason.
If a Brother happens to become destitute while in a strange city, 
he can apply for assistance to a local Board of Relief or through 
the Masonic Relief Association of the United States or Canada. 
They will contact a local Lodge and explain the situation to one 
of the officers.

The Responsibilities of a Master Mason
The constant responsibility of a Master Mason is to preserve 
the reputation of the fraternity unsullied. Leading a good life is 
the best means of carrying through our individual responsibility 
to our Lodge and our Craft. The conduct of each Master Mason 
is strictly his own responsibilityóhe should choose the course 
which will bring credit to himself and honour to the fraternity.
Lodge Attendance->
Every Master Mason has a moral obligation to be loyal to the 
Lodge which gave him Masonic light and all the benefits which 
came with it. This should be your inducement to attend Lodge 
as often as possible and to join in the fellowship which makes 
up FreeMasonry.
The Responsibility of Balloting->
Only  Master Masons who are members of the Lodge 
conducting the vote have a right to ballot. (In a lodge under the 
jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Texas, any Grand Lodge of 
Texas Master Mason is permitted to vote.) No member present 
can be excused from balloting on any question before the 
Lodge, except by a vote of the Lodge, and only when good 
cause is shown. No member is permitted to retire from the 
Lodge to avoid casting his ballot.
The right to secrecy of the ballot is guaranteed by Masonic law, 
and custom allows each member to have perfect freedom in 
balloting on petitioners. No Brother has to disclose how he 
voted, and no Brother should inquire into how another Brother 
voted on a particular candidate. Remember the charge from the 
Worshipful Master ìLook well to your ballot and vote for the 
good of Masonryî.
The Responsibility to Examine Visitors->
This responsibility belongs to the Lodge itself and is delegated 
by the Worshipful Master to a committee of Brethren who are to 
satisfy themselves that the visitor is a Master Mason in good 
standing and a member of a regular (recognized) lodge. The 
Worshipful Master may call upon any member of the Lodge to 
serve on this committee.
The Responsibility of Vouchers on Petitioners->
Before endorsing the petition of anyone for initiation, you 
should take the time to discuss Masonry with the applicant. You 
should determine why he wishes to become a Mason and what 
he expects and explain to him what Masonry may expect of 
The Investigating Committee should explain much of the latter 
to him, but you yourself should be satisfied with his 
understanding and know that he is of good moral character and 
the signing of the petition should be a source of great pleasure 
for you.
The Financial Responsibilities of a Mason->
These are twofold. First, a member is expected to pay his 
Lodge dues. Second, it is hoped that a Mason will voluntary 
support both Masonic and non-Masonic charities as well as 
distressed worthy brethren.
By paying dues, the Brother carries his share of the expense 
incurred by the Lodge. In voluntary support, he must determine 
the extent of his participation, measuring the need against his 
The Practical Aspects of FreeMasonry
When Does a Candidate become a member of the Lodge?
A candidate becomes a member of the fraternity after being
raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. He becomes a 
of the Lodge after he has signed the Constitution and By-laws 
of the
Lodge. Termination of membership occurs in one of four 
suspension, expulsion, or death. {In Pennsylvania a candidate 
considered to have become a member of the Lodge when he is 
made a
Mason or initiated.}
A demit can be applied for if one is currently a paid-up member 
and in good standing. One can transfer to another Lodge if he 
has a demit from his current Lodge. One can also hold 
membership in more than one Lodge (once again, Illinois rules).
A member can be suspended for Non-Payment of Dues (NPD) 
or for unmasonic conduct. If suspended NPD, he may apply for 
reinstatement at any time by paying the dues for the year of 
non-payment plus the current year (he must get a demit for any 
intervening years). {Again PA differs. If suspended for NPD, a 
member may, within one year of his suspension, be restored to 
membership after payment of the yearís dues by a vote of two-
thirds of the members present at a stated meeting of the Lodge 
on a resolution for restoration which was offered at a previous 
stated meeting and held over a Masonic month.  After this 
period has elapsed, all action must be through the Grand 
Masterís office}. If suspended for unmasonic conduct, a petition 
must be made through the proper Masonic channels.
How does a Member Enter or Retire from a Lodge->
First of all, a Brother should be present before Lodge opens to 
join in the fellowship. If circumstances prevent this, notify the 
Tyler upon arrival and he will take care of the proper 
procedures for entry. When the Master gives permission to 
enter, approach the altar, give the due-guard and signs for the 
degree in which the Lodge is open, and then be seated.
Deportment while in Lodge->
A Brotherís deportment while the Lodge is open is governed by 
good taste. Any action which disrupts the business of the 
Lodge, such as engaging in private discussions, should be 
Discussions in the Lodge are always a healthy sign and 
promote the interests of the Lodgeóif properly conducted. If 
one wishes to speak, he should rise, give the due-guard and 
signs for the degree in which the Lodge is open, and, after 
being recognized, make his remarks, then sit. The rules of 
propriety should require refraining from mentioning personalities 
or disturbing the peace, harmony, and good order of the Lodge. 
Religion, partisan politics, and any other subject which might 
disrupt the peace and harmony of the Lodge should not be 
discussed in the open Lodge.
Masonic Law->
Every Lodge is governed by the Grand Lodge in itís Masonic 
jurisdiction and must adhere to the regulations of that Grand 
Lodge.  These regulations are discussed at the Annual (and in 
some jurisdictions, Pennsylvania included, Quarterly) Grand 
Lodge communication(s), and amendments or alterations are 
made if passed by the required vote. Questions involving 
Masonic Law should be resolved by the Worshipful Master. 
Interpretations in Masonic Law are issued by the Grand Master, 
often using Area and District Deputy Grand Masters here in 
Illinois. (In PA Grand Mastersí decisions as issued are added to 
the Digest of Decisions, a copy of which is in every Subordinate 
Lodge, via printed amendments.)
The Symbolism of the Master Masonís Degree
Why is it called ìThe Sublime Degreeî?->
It is called this not only for the solemnity of the ceremony, but 
also for the profound lesson of wisdom it teaches. This degree 
symbolizes the great lessons of the resurrection of the body 
and the immortality of the soul.
The Master Mason Degree differs in many ways from the 
previous two degrees. Many of the symbols are the same, but 
they are interpreted differently. In other degrees, the Lodge is a 
symbol of the world in which we liveótrying to sustain life, 
striving to obtain knowledge, and, through wisdom, to become 
In this degree, the Lodge becomes a representation of the 
Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies of Solomonís great 
Temple at Jerusalem. This magnificent structure was a symbol 
of Heaven to the Hebrew people. Supposedly, Solomon built it 
as the dwelling place of Jehovah that he might be in the midst 
of his people Israel. The Hebrew law of cleanliness was strictly 
enforced and nothing earthy or unclean was permitted to enter 
the Temple. When one attains the Sublime Degree of a Master 
Mason, you receive this most valuable lesson and truthóthat 
having been faithful to your trust, you must at last die in order to 
attain the ultimate reward of your fidelity.  This teaches 
immortality of the soul.
In this state of life, man is represented to have died and then is 
raised from the grave to another and better place. Thus, the 
ceremonies of the degree lead to the inevitable conclusion that 
youth, properly directed, leads to an honourable and virtuous 
maturity and that, regulated by morality, faith, and Justice, life 
will be rewarded in its closing hours by the prospect of eternal 
bliss and immortality.
We hope that these lessons and meanings will lead to new and 
undiscovered inspirations each time they are studied.
What is the Significance of the Third Degree?->
The significance can best be understood when we compare it to 
the EA and FC degrees. In the first two degrees, architecture 
was the theme of the symbols. The symbols in the Master 
Mason Degree refer to life, its tragedy, and its ultimate triumph 
if we lead virtuous lives. In other words, the symbols of this 
degree deal with the spiritual part of manís life. Resurrection 
and immortality are both significant lessons in this degree.
What are the Symbols of the Master Mason Degree?->
They include:
     Preparation   --         Reception      --        Obligation
          Signs, Tokens, & Words        The Five Points of 
          The Working Tools             The Lion of the Tribe of
          The Legend of Hiram      The Lost Word
          The Three Grand Masters       The Setting Maul
          The Temple of Solomon         The Sprig of Acacia
          The Symbolism of the Temple   The All-Seeing Eye
The Three Ruffians
The Symbolism of the Master Masonís Degree (cont.)
The preparation of the candidate reminds him of several things.
First, through special clothing, he is reminded that he is to be 
humble. He is also taught that his obligations become more 
extensive and binding each time he advances. Finally, he is 
reminded that he is able to attain many of his desires only with 
the assistance given him by a friend or brother.
In the reception at the door, the candidate is reminded that all 
of the lessons of FreeMasonry must be implanted in the heart if 
they are to serve a useful purpose and become a part of his 
way of life, and that he should practice them daily.
The obligation is the heart of the degree. By taking the 
obligation, the candidate obtains the privileges, the rights, and 
the benefits of the Masonic institution. He must know and 
understand the significance of the obligation if he is to abide by 
Signs, Tokens, and Words->
These are very important because they provide modes of 
recognition. Also, each sign, token, and word has a symbolic 
meaning which serves to enrich the mind and improve our lives 
as Masons.
The Working Tools->
The Working Tools of a Master Mason are all of the instruments 
of masonry. The trowel is especially assigned to this degree 
whereby the Master Mason is taught to use the Trowel to 
cement ties between Masons and to spread brotherly love.
The Legend of Hiram->
Hiram Abif, the skilled artificer, was the son of a widow of the 
tribe of Naphtali. The earlier accounts of Hiram are recorded on 
the First Book of Kings, chapter 7, verses 13 and 14. His 
coming to work on the great Temple at Jerusalem, is mentioned 
in a letter written to King Solomon by Hiram, the King of Tyre, 
and recorded in II Chronicles, chapter 2, verses 13 and 14.
The word Abif means ìhis fatherî or ìmy fatherí. He was 
regarded as the father of all the workmen on the Temple. By 
portraying Hiram Abif, the magnificent lessons of fidelity are 
The Three Grand Masters->
Three names mentioned often in our ritual are: Solomon, King 
of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre; and Hiram Abif, the Widowís son.
The Temple of Solomon->
This magnificent structure was located on Mount Moriah, at 
Jerusalem. It was near the place where Abraham was about to 
offer up his son Isaac. The site was purchased by David, King 
of Israel, for it was here that the hand of the Destroying Angel 
was stayed after David had repented.
The Temple was begun around 1012 B.C. and finished eight 
years later, around 1004 B.C. It was about 400 years after the 
people of Israel came out of Egypt as a band of refugees. The 
people lost their sense of spiritual direction and destiny, so their 
Temple was destroyed in the year 586 B.C. by 
The Symbolism of the Temple->
The symbol of the temple for each of us is founded upon the 
idea that man himself is a living temple where the Supreme 
Being resides.  FreeMasonry tries to undertake the task of 
helping each of its members to build a more stately mansion 
within them selves where the Supreme Being can reside.
We should remember that we are a symbolic temple and that 
we should work toward the same type of perfection in our own 
temple as that sought for in the Temple at Jerusalem. Our 
individual temples are mental, physical, and spiritual, and our 
work on these temples should not be inferior.
The Three Ruffians->
There are many symbolic explanations for the appearance of 
these three in our ritualistic work. Their attempt to obtain the 
secrets not rightfully theirs and the dire circumstances of their 
acts are symbolic of many life circumstances.
The Ruffians are also symbols of the passions of the candidate 
which he has come here to subdue.
The Five Points of Fellowship->
These five points are symbolized by the Pentalpha or five-
pointed star. In the center of the five-pointed star, two clasped 
hands are usually displayed.
The five points of fellowship symbolize to Masons that both 
fidelity and readiness to aid each other are to be found in the 
Craft as well as in our everyday lives.
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah->
The lion has always been the symbol of might and royalty. It 
was the sign of the tribe of Judah, because this was the royal 
tribe of the Hebrew Nation. All Kings of Judah were, therefore, 
called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This was also one of the 
titles of King Solomon.
The Lost Word->
The Masonic search for the Word symbolizes the search for 
knowledge. We must always search diligently for knowledge 
and never permit prejudice, passions, or conflicts of interest to 
hinder us in our search. We must keep our minds open to 
receiving knowledge from any source. Thus Masons are 
devoted to freedom of thought, of speech, and of action.
The Setting Maul->
This was a wooden instrument used by operative masons to set 
polished stone firmly into the wall. The maul has been shown to 
be a symbol of destruction from prehistoric times and is shown 
many times in mythology.
The Sprig of Acacia->
Hebrew people used to plant a sprig of acacia at the head of a 
grave for two purposesóto mark the location of the grave and 
to show their belief in immortality. Because of its evergreen 
nature, they believed it to be an emblem of both immortality and 
The All-Seeing Eye->
This is a very old symbol of Deity. In Psalm 121 it says ìHe that 
keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleepî. Thus the idea 
that God watches over men is symbolized by the All-Seeing 
Eye to demonstrate that God is ever-present and ever-watchful.
Every FreeMason should keep in mind that the things we do 
before man and the things we do in secret will be recorded by 
the All-Seeing Eye and will bear witness for or against us at 
Judgement time.
What does ìTo Travel in Foreign Countriesî mean to 
The ultimate goal of our ancient Operative Brethren was to 
become masters so they might possess secrets and knowledge 
which would enable them to practice the art of the builder no 
matter where they traveled, even in foreign countries.
Foreign countries. as used in FreeMasonry, is a symbolic place 
and is not meant to refer to specific geographical location.  
FreeMasonry itself is a foreign country to every new member. If 
he is to travel in it, if he is to earn a Masterís wages, he must 
learn its language, understand its customs, and study its 
history. He must become a part of it to fully appreciate and 
enjoy its privileges and pleasures.
Being a Master Mason gives him the right to travel in foreign 
countries in FreeMasonry.
What are the Wages of a Master Mason->
The wages of a speculative Mason come from within, as he is 
concerned with the moral rather than the physical labour. The 
intangibles of love, friendship, respect, opportunity, happy 
labour, and association are the wages of a Master Mason who 
earns them. Not all do earn their wages which is why the Senior 
Warden, in the opening of the Lodge declares ìto pay the Craft 
their wages, if any be dueî.
What is meant by the term ìThe Raising of a Candidateî?->
The Third Degree, or Master Mason Degree, is the climax of 
Symbolic FreeMasonry, yet being ìraised to the Sublime 
Degree of a Master Masonî is often misunderstood. 
Symbolically it represents resurrection after death, and our 
Masonic faith in the immortality of the soul. If a man sees the 
action in the degree as simply that of a drama, then he has 
failed to grasp the fundamental meaning and purpose of 
Following are some of the lessons taught by this degree:
The degree delves into the deepest recesses of manís nature.
While it leads the initiate into the Sanctum Sanctorum of the 
Temple, it also probes into the Holy of Holies of his heart.
As a whole, the degree is symbolic of that old age by Wisdom 
during which we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent 
on a well spent life, and die in the hope of immortality. It 
teaches no creed, no dogma, no religion; only that there is a 
hope of immortality.
“History of Masonryî, by George Thornburgh
based upon ìThe Ritual of Operative FreeMasonsî,
by Thomas Carr

Extracts from the Pennsylvania ìAHIMAN REZONî
The Ahiman Rezon was first printed in Philadelphia in 1783. It is 
one of the earliest constitutions for Masons in the United 
States.  It was voted on and approved at the communication of 
the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on Nov. 22, 1781. I believe 
this document defines much of what Masonry stands for today 
and would like to begin discussions on it.
Section I.  Concerning GOD and RELIGION
Whoever, from love of knowledge, interest, or curiosity, desires 
to be a Mason, is to know that, as his foundation and great 
cornerstone, he is to believe firmly in the ETERNAL GOD, and 
to pay that worship which is due to him, as the great Architect 
and Governor of the universe. A Mason is also obliged, by his 
tenure, to observe the moral law, as a true Noachida (Sons of 
Noah; the first name for FreeMasons.); and if he rightly 
understands the royal art, he cannot tread in the irreligious 
paths of the unhappy libertine, the deist, or stupid atheist; nor, 
in any case, act against the great inward light of his own 
He will likewise shun the gross errors of bigotry and 
superstition, making a due use of his own reason, according to 
that liberty wherewith a Mason is made free. For although, in 
ancient times, the Christian Mason were CHARGED to comply 
with the Christian usages of the countries where they sojourned 
or worked (being found in all nations, and of diverse religions 
and persuasions) yet it is now thought most expedient that the 
brethren in general should only be CHARGED to adhere to the 
essentials of religion in which all men agree; leaving each 
brother to his own private judgment, as to particular modes and 
forms. Whence it follows, that all Masons are to be good men 
and trueómen of honour and honesty, by whatever religious 
names or persuasions distinguished; always following that 
golden precept of ìdoing unto all men as (upon a change of 
conditions) they would that all men should do unto them.î
Thus, since Masons, by their tenure, must agree in the three 
great articles of NOAH, Masonry becomes the center of union 
among the brethren, and the happy means of conciliating, and 
cementing into one body, those who might otherwise have 
remained at a perpetual distance, thereby strengthening and 
not weakening the divine obligations of RELIGION and LOVE!
Section II. Concerning Government and the Civil Magistrate. 
Whoever would be a true Mason is further to know that, by the 
rules of his art, his obligations as a subject and citizen will not 
be relaxed but enforced. He is to be a lover of quiet, peaceable 
and obedient to the civil powers, which yield him protection, and 
are set over him where he resides or works; so far as they 
infringe not the limited bounds of reason and religion. Nor can a 
real craftsman ever be concerned in plots against the state, or 
be disrespectful to the magistracy; because the welfare of his 
country is his peculiar care.
But if any brother, by forgetting for a time the rules of his craft, 
and listening to evil councils, should unhappily fall into a 
contrary conduct, he is not to be countenanced in his crimes or 
rebellion against the state; but he forfeits all benefits of the 
Lodge, and his fellows would  refuse to associate or converse 
with him in private, while he continues in his crimes; that neither 
offence nor umbrage may be given to lawful government. But 
such a person is still considered as a Mason, his character as 
such being indefeasible; and hopes are to be entertained, that 
the rules of the craft may again prevail with him over every evil 
council and device that may have led him astray. From this 
quiet and meek temper of true Masons, and their constant 
desire to adorn the countries where they reside with all useful 
arts, crafts and improvements, they have been, from the 
earliest ages, encouraged and protected by the wisest rulers of 
states and commonwealths, who have likewise thought it an 
honor to have their names enrolled among the fraternity. And 
thus Masonry having always flourished most in the most 
flourishing and peaceable times of every country, and having 
often suffered in a particular manner through the calamitous 
effects of war, bloodshed and devastation, the craftsmen are 
therefore the more strongly engaged to act agreeable to the 
rules of their art, in following peace and love, as far as possible, 
with all men.
Section III. Concerning private Qualities and Duties.
In regard to HIMSELF, whoever would be a Mason should know 
how to practice all the private virtues. He should avoid all 
manner of intemperance or excess, which might obstruct his 
performance of the laudable duties of his craft, or lead him into 
crimes which would reflect dishonor upon the ancient fraternity. 
He is to be industrious in his profession, and true to the Lord 
and Master he serves. He is to labor justly, and not to eat any 
manís bread for nought; but to pay truly for his meat and drink. 
What leisure his labor allows, he is to employ in studying the 
arts and sciences with a diligent mind, that he may the better 
perform all his duties (as aforesaid) to his Creator, his country, 
his neighbor and himself. For in a few words, -- ìto walk humbly 
in the sight of God, to do justice and love mercy,î are the true 
indispensable characteristics of a real free and accepted 
For the better attainment of these shining qualities, he is to 
seek and acquire, as far as possible, the virtues of patience, 
meekness, self-denial, forbearance and the like, which give him 
the command over himself, and enable him to govern his own 
family with affection, dignity and prudence; at the same time 
checking every disposition injurious to the world, and promoting 
that love and service, which brethren, of the same Lodge or 
household, owe to each other. Therefore, to afford succor to 
the distressed, to divide our bread with the industrious poor, 
and to put the misguided traveller into the way, are qualities 
inherent in the craft, and suitable to its dignity. But though a 
Mason is never to shut his ear unkindly to the complaints of any 
of the human species; yet when a brother is oppressed or 
suffers, he is in a more peculiar manner called to open his 
whole soul in love and compassion to him, and to relieve 
without prejudice, according to his capacity.
It is further necessary that all who would be true Masons should 
learn to abstain from all malice and slander, evil speaking, 
backbiting, unmannerly, scornful, provoking, reproachful and 
ungodly language; and that he should know how to obey those 
who are set over him on account of their superior qualifications 
as Masons, however inferior they may be in worldly rank or 
station. For although Masonry divests no man of his temporal 
honors, or titles, but on the contrary highly respects them, yet, 
in the Lodge, preeminence of virtue and knowledge in the royal 
art is considered as the true fountain of all nobility, rule and 
The last quality and virtue which I shall mention, as absolutely 
requisite in those who would be Masons, is that of SECRECY; 
which indeed, from its importance, ought to have held the first 
place in this chapter, if it had not been intended to treat of it 
more fully, as a conclusion of the whole.
So GREAT stress is laid upon this particular quality or virtue, 
that it is enforced among Masons under the strongest penalties 
and obligations; nor, in their esteem, is any man to be counted 
wise, who is void of intellectual strength and ability sufficient to 
cover and conceal such HONEST SECRETS as are committed 
to him, as well as his own more serious affairs. Both sacred and 
profane history teacheth us that numerous virtuous attempts 
have failed of their intended scope and end, through defect of 
secret concealment.
The ancient philosophers and wise men (the Princes of whom 
were Masons) were so fully persuaded of the great virtue of 
SECRECY, that it was the first lesson which they taught their 
pupils and followers.  Thus, in the school of Pythagoras, we find 
it was a rule that every novitiate was to be silent for a time, and 
refrain from speaking, unless when a question was asked; to 
the end that the valuable secrets which he had to communicate 
might be the better preserved and valued. Lycurgus made a 
perpetual law, obliging every man to keep secret whatever was 
committed to him, unless it were to injury of the state. And 
Cato, the Roman Censor, told his friend, that of three things (if 
ever he happened to be guilty) he always repented, viz.ó 1st. If 
he divulged a secret; 2nd. If he went on water, when he might 
stay on dry land; and 3rd. If he suffered a day to pass without 
doing (or endeavouring to do) some GOOD. We also read that 
the Persian law punished the betraying of a secret more 
grievously than any other common crime.
Nor is the virtue of SECRECY recommended only by the wisest 
heathen philosophers and lawgivers; but likewise by the fathers 
of the church, and by inspired writers and lawgivers.
St. Ambrose places the patient gift of Silence among the
principal foundations of virtue; and the wise King SOLOMON 
deems the
man unworthy to reign or have any rule over others, who 
command himself, and keep his own secrets. A discoverer of 
secrets he
deems infamous and a traitor; but him that conceals them he 
a faithful brother. ìA talebearer, says he, revealeth secrets; but 
that is of a faithful spirit concealeth them, Discover not a secret
to another, lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine
infamy turn not awayóHe that keepeth his tongue, keepeth his 
soul.îóTo the same purpose, in the book of Ecclesiasticus 
xxvii we meet with the following beautiful passages, worthy to 
be for
ever recorded in the hearts of all Masons.ó
“Whosoever discovereth secrets, loseth his credit, and shall 
never find a friend to his mind. Love thy friend, and be faithful 
unto him; but if thou betwrayest his secrets, follow no more 
after him: For as a man hath destroyed his enemy, so hast thou 
lost the love of thy neighbour: As one that letteth a bird go out 
of his hand, so hast thou let thy neighbour go, and shall not get 
him again.  Follow after him no more, for he is too far off; he is 
as a roe escaped out of the snare. As for a wound, it may be 
bound up; and after reviling there may be reconcilement: but he 
that betwrayeth secrets is without hope.î


Fraternally and Cordially,

George S. Robinson, Jr., PM
Mt. Pickering Lodge, No. 446
Upper Uwchland, Pennsylvania
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
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