Learning Masonry

Young men facing death every day naturally were prone to take a more serious interest in life than would have been the case had they been merely following their ordinary business avocations, and it is well known that there was an enormous influx of men into Freemasonry during, and immediately after, the War. These new recruits, who are now beginning Masonically to feel their feet, take their Masonry seriously, and want to know what it is all about. Thus those who will take the trouble to prepare a paper or speech dealing with the things which really matter in Masonry are assured of an intelligent and interested audience.

Labour and Refreshment, Ed. J. S. M. Ward, p.2


Bright and green, and there is no more brilliant green than that of the acacia, according to the legend its roots were planted in corruption, and to us it thus symbolises the resurrection of the soul from the mortal husk which once contained the man. Therefore it is to us a symbol of the Resurrection, and for this reason is thrown into the grave of a departed brother when he is buried with Masonic ceremonies.

Labour and Refreshment, Ed. J. S. M. Ward, p.13


Now, how comes it that symbols and tokens from mysteries that were old when Babylon was young, play a part in the ceremonies of an Order that comes to us as the survival of a Mediaeval Craft Guild, and were kept in it by those who reformed that Order, that no man then knew whence they came? May we suggest a possible reply. We have seen that much of the old Mysteries still survives in the hearts of peasant folk, even in this twentieth century,in the land that was one of their classic homes, though not their only home. It is impossible that this survival was a good deal stronger in the year 640 A.D., at which date we know that the great building guild from which Mediaeval building guilds originate, was already an organized and recognized society? If so, may not this "honourable mystery of the Craft of Builders" have taken up and used, for its purposes, the signs and tokens of the older Mysteries that were still a living power in the world of their day?

The Ancient Mysteries in Modern Greece, Rev. W. A. Wigram, p. 28


I am about to compare the root idea of Freemasonry with that of Democracy, for I presume we all adhere to the belief that the foundation of Freemasonry is Brotherhood. Theoretically, that is the basic idea in Democracy. But both Masonry and Democracy show extremes in their interpretation of that term "Brotherhood." One party reluctantly admits that since all men were born in the image of God, we are therefore brothers. The opposite extremists declare that all men are born "free and equal," or if not, so it should be. These latter lean towards the socialistic view.

What is "Brotherhood" in Freemasonry?, Bro. V. S. Stevens, Toronto Society of Masonic Research, p. 34

Inequality of Intellectual Grasp

Taking a leap through space and time, let us consider Europe of the Middle Ages......Through a peculiar combination of the secrets of the Crusading Knights with their own technical secrets, the Builders' Guild achieved a certain preeminence. Envies on the part of other Guilds were soon manifested, but these were very minor in comparison with the jealousies of the greater competing monopolists, church and state. Some led to bitter persecutions, but in other cases, even monarchs themselves became promoters of the art and have not thought it derogatory from their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the gavel. Thus we see Freemasonry again aligning itself with institutions whose very existence depend upon an inequality of intellectual grasp.

What is "Brotherhood" in Freemasonry?, Bro. V. S. Stevens, Toronto Society of Masonic Research, p. 38


One readily admits, as Mackay says, that "it is one of the most beautiful features of the Masonic institution that it teaches not only the necessity but the nobility of labour. We learn to apportion the hours of our day to their proper objects, we learn that skill without exertion is of little avail, we learn that perseverance is necessary to establish perfection." But we also know that such philosophy is often abused by suave employers who have the reins in their hands, who drive to sweating and apply such a salve. But Mackay goes on to say that Masonry does\Inot\iteach the equality of usefulness of different forms of labour, but merely the inherent value of useful activity. The individual places himself or is placed by circumstances on his economic, intellectual or spiritual level, but, on any level, he can learn the lesson of the trestle board, "the acknowledged symbol of divine law, in accordance with whose decree labour was originally instituted as the common lot of all; and therefore the important lesson....is that to labour well and truly, to labour honestly and persistently, is the object and chief end of all humanity....."

What is "Brotherhood" in Freemasonry?, Bro. V. S. Stevens, Toronto Society of Masonic Research, p. 40.