The Emblems of Freemasonry

William Harvey, J.P.

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; Author of “The Complete Manual of Freemasonry”; Provincial Grand Bard of Forfarshire; M.M. Stirling Royal Arch, No. 76; Hon. Mem. Caledonian Dundee, No. 254; R.W.M., Progress Dundee, No. 967, 1914–16; Charter Mem. Dundee St. Mary, No. 1149; Hon. Mem. No. 6, R.A,; Hon. Mem. No. 164, R.A.; P.H., No. 271 R.A.; Founder and First Principal No. 421, R.A.; Hon. Mem. No. 423 R.A.


The kindly reception which has been accorded to my little book has greatly gratified me. Many brethren have written in terms of praise of it, and I know that, not only in this country, but beyond the seas, members of our “mystic circle” have found the work one of usefulness. That it may continue to be so is my fervent wish.


4 Gowrie Street, Dundee.


Many Freemasons who have found my “Complete Manual of Freemasonry,” and my booklet on “The Third Degree: its Ornaments and Emblems” of use to them have expressed the wish that I might prepare a treatise on the Emblems generally. In deference to these wishes the following pages have been written. My endeavour has been to make the little work of such a character that it might become a constant companion to Brethren of “the mystic tie.” Nothing in the whole elaborate system of Freemasonry is pointless, and everything is worthy of serious contemplation. I have sought, also, to make the book as comprehensive as possible, and I hope that no matter of importance has been omitted. The exhaustive “Contents-Index” should enable readers at once to find any desired subject. My sincere wish is that the book may be as popular as my earlier contributions to the literature of the Craft.


4 Gowrie Street, Dundee.

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AbifF Hiram • Acacia, Sprig of • All-Seeing Eye • Altar • Anchor • Apron • Architecture, Orders of • Arithmetic • Ark • Arts and Sciences • Ashlar, Perfect • Ashlar, Rough • Astronomy • Attentive Ear

Beehive • Blazing Star • Board, Tracing • Boaz • Border, Tesselated • Brazen Pillars • Broken Column • Brotherly Love • Burns, Robert

Cable-Tow • Calendar, Masonic • Carlile, Richard • Centre • Chalk • Chamber, Middle • Characteristics of Freemasons • Charcoal • Charity • Charter • Chequered Pavement • Chisel • Church of Rome • Circle • Clothing • Coffin, Skull etc. • Column, Broken • Compasses • Composite • Constitutions • Corinthian • Corn • Course of the Sun • Covering of Lodge • Crossbones, Coffin, etc.

Degree, First • Degree, Second • Degree, Third • Doric • Dormer

Ear, Attentive • Earth • Euclid • Eye, All-Seeing

Faith • Faithful Heart • Fellowship, Points of • Festivals, Masonic • Fidelity • First Degree • Five Points of Fellowship • Five Steps • Fortitude • Foundation Stone • Four Principal Points • Freemasons' Characteristics • Free Masonry • Furniture of Lodge

Gauge • Geometry • Grammar • Grand Honours • Grand Masters • Grand Parallels • Grand Pillars • Grand Principles, Three • Guttural

Harmony • Hearing • Heart, Faithful • Hiram Abiff • Hiram, Legend of • Hiram, King of Tyre • Hoodwink • Honours, Grand • Hope • Hour-Glass

Immoveable Jewels • Incense, Pot of • Ionic

Jachin • Jewels, Immoveable • Jewels, Moveable • Jewels, Three Precious • Josephus • Justice

King Solomon • Knocks, Three

Ladder • Laws and Constitutions • Level • Lewis • Liberal Arts and Sciences • Lights, the T.G. • Lights, the T.L. • Line • Lodge • Logic • Love, Brotherly

Mallet • Masonic Calendar • Masonic Festivals • Masonic Toasts • Masonry is Free • Masonry, Sun in • Masonry, Wind of • Master Mason, Tools of • Masters, Three Grand • Mental Point • Middle Chamber • Moses • Moveable Jewels • Music

Noble Order of Architecture

Obedience • Oil • Orders of Architecture • Ornaments

Parallels, Two Grand • Pavement, Chequered • Pectoral • Pedal • Pedestal • Pencil • Perfect Ashlar • Pillars, Brazen • Pillars, Three Grand • Plumb-rule • Points, Four Principal • Points of Fellowship • Pope • Porch • Pot of Incense • Precious Jewels, Three • Principal Points, Four • Principles, Three Grand • Prudence, Emblem of • Public Grand Honours

Relief • Rhetoric • Rome, Church of • Rough Ashlar • Rule

Sacred Symbol • Sanctum Sanctorum • Scythe • Second Degree • Second Degree Tools • Secrecy • Seeing • Senses • Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences • Seven Stars • Seven Steps • Shoe • Silent Tongue • Skirret • Skull and Crossbones, Coffin • Smelling • Solomon, King • Spade • Sprig of Acacia • Square • Stair, Winding • Stars, Seven • Star, Blazing • Steps, The Five • Steps, The Seven • Steps, The Three • Stone, Foundation • Sun in Masonry • Sun, Course of the • Sword • Symbol, Sacred

Tassels • Tasting • Temperance • Temple • Tesselated Border • Third Degree • Three Grand Pillars • Three Grand Principals • Three Knocks • Three Precious Jewels • Three Steps • Three Virtues • Toasts Masonic • Tongue, Silent • Tools of E.A. • Tools of F.C. • Tools of M.M. • Touching • Tow, Cable • Tracing Board • Trowel • Truth • Tuscan • Tyre, Hiram, King of • Two Grand Parallels

Virtues, Three

Wages • Winding Stair • Wind of Masonry • Wine

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Mr Richard Carlile, who was no friend of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Brothers and Fellows of the Craft, says that “Freemasonry, rightly understood, is the science of the Spirit of the Bible.” No man — friend or foe — could give it higher praise. Freemasonry to-day is a vast and bewildering array of rites and ceremonies, the origin and meaning of many of which have been forgotten, but when it is extricated from these entanglements which, at times, hinder rather than help its progress, it stands forth in its simple essentials as a gospel of the brotherhood of man. The Church of Rome has denounced Freemasonry on different occasions, but Freemasons do not give a brass button for all the Popes that ever fulminated from the Holy See. A Romish writer against the Craft gives as one of the reasons why a Papist cannot join the fraternity, that “the name of the Divine Redeemer is forbidden in the Masonic temple.” Verily, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Why, one of the higher degrees is a defence of the Christian faith, and enthusiasts who toil upwards towards the light that crowns the hill-tops of Freemasonry do not hesitate to affirm that the Man of Galilee was a member of the Brotherhood!

The progress of a Freemason from the Degree of Entered Apprentice to that of Master is a pilgrimage towards Light — a travelling from the uncertain gloom of Time to the radiant sunshine of Eternity, Robert Burns, dropping into the familiar speech of his mother tongue; says, in one of his Letters, “a guid life maids a guid end; at least, it helps weel” and the Freemason who is true to his principles will gather strength for his daily duties from what he learns in the Lodge. At every step there is something — an emblem or an ornament, a touch of ritual or an old-world rite — to indicate the duty of man towards his God, his neighbour, and himself, or to point him to a higher life.


The leading purpose of the First Degree is to symbolise man entering into the world. It represents youth as ignorant and blind. At the door of Freemasonry the Candidate for its privileges is asked to lay aside everything that pertains to rank or riches so that he may enter the Lodge with a mind divested of all sellish and worldly considerations.

Masonry is Free

At the very outset, the candidate is informed that Masonry is free and demands a perfect freedom of inclination on the part of every suppliant. And before he can be admitted to a knowledge of the secrets and mysteries of the Fraternity he must assent to the following questions:—

  1. Do you seriously declare upon your honour that, unbiassed by the improper solicitations of friends against your own inclination, and uninfluenced by any mercenary or other unworthy motive, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself as a Candidate for the mysteries and privileges of ancient Freemasonry?

  2. Do you likewise declare that you are prompted to solicit these privileges from a favourable opinion preconceived of the institution, a general desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to render yourself more extensively serviceable to your fellowmen?

  3. Do you believe in God?

  4. Do you believe in the binding sanctity of an oath taken in that Holy Being’s name?

  5. Do you further seriously declare that, avoiding fear on the one hand, and rashness on the other, you will steadily persevere through the ceremony of initiation, and, if admitted, will ever act and abide by the ancient usages and established customs of the Order?

Any candidate who failed to give a free and ready assent to these questions would be at once removed from the Lodge.


The Hoodwink is an emblem of Darkness as opposed to Light, of Ignorance as opposed to Knowledge. Thus, the Initiate is hoodwinked to indicate that he is in mental darkness with regard to Freemasonry. When the Hoodwink is removed, the Initiate receives the blessing of Light, and is enabled to pursue his researches into the hidden mysteries of the Craft.


The Cable-tow with a running noose is emblematical of the Dangers of this life and of the need of caution in all things. It teaches the Freemason that he must proceed without fear, but, at the same time, with humble dependence on others more learned than himself, in his travels towards the Light that is revealed to those who are found worthy.

The Three Knocks

The three Knocks allude to that passage in Scripture — “Ask and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” They also denote three of the Masonic virtues — Peace, Harmony and Brotherly Love.

The Sword

The Sword reminds the Freemason that, though his thoughts, words and actions may be hid from the eyes of mortal man, nothing is hidden from God, and that justice will sooner or later overtake him. He should be constant, therefore, to his trust, ready at any moment, without fear, to pass the grim Tyler of Eternity and enter the Grand Lodge above.


The s… of the shoe alludes to an ancient custom in Israel. The shoe played a part in symbolical actions in Hebrew law. We read in Ruth iv., 7, that it was an ancient custom in Israel, on completing a purchase, for the seller to draw off his shoe and hand it to the buyer, as a symbol of the transference of the property sold. The rite is incorporated into the symbolism of Freemasonry, and the initiate is invited to s… the shoe in token of his fidelity with regard to things Masonic.

The Altar

Every Lodge is provided with an Altar. Altars differ in size and design. The usual form is that of a cube about three feet in height. On it are placed the three great lights of Freemasonry, which are the V… of the S… L…, the Square and the Compasses. Around it, in the form of a triangle, are the three lesser lights. The Altar should ever hold a sacred place in the affections of Freemasons. Kneeling there in awful solemnity he passes some of the most precious moments of his life, from which he should draw inspiration during all his later days.

The T… G… Lights

The t… g… l…s of Freemasonry are the V… of the S… L… the S… and the C…s. The sacred volume is a gift from God to man to rule and govern his faith, the S… is to regulate his actions, and the C…s to keep him in due bounds with all mankind, more particularly Brother Masons.

The T… L… Lights

The t… l… l…s in Freemasonry are situated in the E… S…, and W… respectively, and are depicted by t… b… c…s or t…s. They represent the Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge — the Sun to rule the day, the Moon to govern the night, and the Right Worshipful Master to rule and govern his Lodge in all things that pertain to Freemasonry.

The Course of the Sun

The Sun in its daily course is traced from the R.W.M. to the W.J.W. and thence to the W.S.W. As the Sun rises in the E… to open and enliven the glorious day, so the R.W.M. is placed in the E… that he may open his Lodge and instruct the Brethren in the Principles of the Craft. The W.J.W. in the S… represents the Sun at its meridian, and it is his duty at that hour to call the Brethren from labour to refreshment, so that pleasure and profit may result. The W.S.W. in the W. represents the Sun at the close of day, and at sunset it is his duty to satisfy the Brethren as to wages, discharge them for the day, and then close the Lodge when commanded to do so by the R.W.M.


The Apron is the badge of Innocence, and the bond of Friendship. It is made of lamb-skin, and, as in all ages the Lamb has been acknowledged as the emblem of Innocence and Purity, it is intended to remind the Freemason of that purity of life which should at all times characterise members of the Brotherhood. It is worn by the operative mason to preserve his garments from spot or stain, and by the Speculative Freemason as a symbol that his aim thoughout life should be so to conduct himself as to be able to appear before the Great Architect of the Universe, unstained by sin and unsullied by vice.

Foundation Stone

As it is customary at the erection of all stately and superb edifices to lay the foundation stone at the north-east corner of the building, the newly initiated Brother is placed in that position figuratively to represent that stone, so that he may receive an exhortation on the chief virtue of Freemasonry, and the real foundation on which the Order rests. And the Member of the Fraternity who is true to his faith will never forget his first lecture on Moral Architecture. Charity, we must ever remember, is the principal of all social virtues, and the distinguishing characteristic of Freemasons.

The Working Tools

The Working Tools of an Entered Apprentice are three in number — the twentyfour-inch Gauge, the Mallet, and the Chisel, and each is rich in symbolism for the thoughtful Mason. They are the first tools presented to him in the Lodge, and it is by making diligent and careful use of them that he will best justify his admission and prepare himself for advancement in the Craft.

The Gauge

The 24-inch gauge is used by the Operative Mason to measure and lay out his work so as to compute the time and labour it will cost. Applied in a moral sense, it teaches the Speculative Mason a daily lesson of admonition and instruction for, as it is divided into 24 equal parts, it reminds him of the 24 hours of the day, and directs him to apply them in a fair division to their proper objects, which are prayer, labour, refreshment and sleep.

The Mallet

In the hand of the Operative Mason, the Mallet is an important instrument of labour, and highly esteemed as an implement of art. Though recognised by various artists under different appelations, it is admitted by them all that no work of manual skill can be completed without it. From it the Freemason learns that labour is the lot of man, and that skill without exertion is of little avail, for the heart may conceive, and the head devise in vain, if the hand be not prompt to execute the design. What the Mallet is to the workman, enlightened reason is to the passions; it curbs ambition, represses envy, moderates anger, and encourages good dispositions. Thus it represents the force of Conscience which should keep down all vain and unbecoming thoughts that may arise in our daily lives, so that our words and actions may ascend pure and unpolluted to the Throne of Grace.

The Chisel

The Chisel is a small instrument, but solid in its form and of such exquisite sharpness as fully to compensate for the diminutiveness of its size. It is calculated to make impression on the hardest substance, and the mightiest structures have been indebted to its aid. From it, the Freemason learns that perseverance is necessary to establish perfection, that the rude material can receive its fine polish but from repeated efforts alone, and that nothing short of indefatigable exertion can induce the habit of virtue, enlighten the mind, and purify the soul.

The Lodge

Having been admitted into the Order and taken his first steps towards the Light of Masonry, the Initiate may now be permitted to observe the Lodge, note its dimensions, have regard to its furniture, and make enquiry as to its emblems and ornaments.

A Freemason’s Lodge is in form a double cube and, some authorities say, rather cryptically, “is emblematical of the united powers of Darkness and Light.” It is in length from E… to W…, in breadth from N… to S…, in depth from the surface of the earth to the centre, and as high as the heavens. It is represented as of this vast extent to show the universality of the science, that it embraces men of every creed and clime, and that a Freemason’s charity should know no bounds save those of prudence. Lodges are situated due east and west for three special reasons, first, because the Sun, the Glory of the Lord, rises in the East and sets in the West; secondly, because Learning originated in the East and spread its benign influence to the West; and thirdly, because the Tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness was situated due East and West by the special command of God, and that in consequence all places of worship are, or should be, so situated.

The Three Grand Pillars

The three grand pillars which support the Lodge are Wisdom, Strength and Beauty — wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn. The R.W.M. in the E.. represents Wisdom; the W.S.W. in the W… represents Strength, and the W.J.W. in the S… represents Beauty. The Pillars further represent Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff — Solomon, King of Israel, for his wisdom in building, completing and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service; Hiram, King of Tyre for his strength in supporting him with men and materials; and Hiram Abiff for his curious and masterly workmanship, as seen in the incomparable beauty of the same. As there are no noble orders in Architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, the Freemason refers them to the three most celebrated — Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian. The Ionic column represents Wisdom, because it wisely combines strength with grace; the Doric column represents Strength, as it is the strongest and most massive of the orders; and the Corinthian represents Beauty because it is the most beautiful and ornamental. The Universe is the Temple of the living God whom Masons serve. Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are about His Throne as Pillars of His Works. His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and His Beauty shines through the whole of creation. The Heavens He has stretched forth as a canopy, He has planted the Earth as His footstool, He has crowned His Temple with stars as with a diadem. The Sun and Moon are messengers of His divine will, and all His laws are concord.

The Covering

The Covering of a Freemason’s Lodge is a celestial canopy of divers colours, even the heavens. The sun, moon, and stars which adorn it are emblems of the power, goodness, omnipresence and eternity of God. The way by which Freemasons hope to arrive at it is by climbing the ladder which in Scripture is called Jacob’s Ladder.

The Ladder

The Ladder is composed of many staves or rounds which point out as many moral virtues. The three principal ones are Faith, Hope, and Charity — Faith in God, Hope in immortality, and Charity towards all men. The Ladder, which reaches to the Heavens, rests on the V… of the S… L…, because in that work the Great Architect of the Universe has set out those holy truths by the patient study of which we are enabled to ascend step by step towards the immortal mansions where the Grand Master rules and reigns for ever.

The Three Precious Jewels

The three principle staves or rounds of the Ladder — Faith, Hope, and Charity — comprise the Three Precious Jewels of a Fellowcraft, and as such should be held in high esteem by Brethren of every degree.


Faith is the foundation of justice, the bond of goodwill between men, and the main support of society. A wise and sincere Faith is the evidence of things not seen: the substance of those for which men hope. The Freemason walks by Faith, by Faith he believes in the existence of a Supreme Being Whom he hopes one day to join in the realms of bliss.


Hope is the Anchor of the Soul. The emblems of Freemasonry teach the Craftsman to have a lively hope in immortality. If a firm reliance on the faithfulness of the Great Architect of all things animates his endeavours success shall attend him.


Charity is the brightest gem in the Masonic crown, and the Mason who is possessed of that virtue in the most ample sense, may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession. But even in the practice of charity, it is necessary to be cautious, for it is an error to dispense alms to all applicants without discrimination. By such a course the hypocrite and knave may well eat the bread by which virtue in distress ought to be relieved. Charity is often abused for there are many miscreants who infest our streets and doors with their importunities, many even showing their sores and distorted bodies to prompt a false compassion, with which ill-gotten gains they revel away the hours of night in debauchery. Charity, when misapplied, loses the dress of virtue and assumes the garb of folly. Benevolence attended by Heaven-born Charity is an honour to a nation whence it springs, is nourished and cherished. Happy is he who has sown the seeds of Benevolence in his breast: he envieth not his neighbour, he believes not a tale when told by a slanderer. Malice and revenge having no place in his breast, he forgives the injuries of men.

The All-Seeing Eye

The All-Seeing Eye is to remind the Freemason of the Omniscience of God under whose watchful Providence even comets perform their stupendous revolutions. Nothing is hid from God who knows our every thought and action and who will reward or punish according as we obey or disregard His divine commands.

The Blazing Star

The Blazing Star in the Centre refers us to that grand luminary the sun which enlightens the whole world, and by its benign influence, dispenses its blessings on all mankind. It is an emblem of Prudence which should be the guiding star of life. It is placed in the centre to be ever present to the eye, that the heart may be attentive to its dictates. It commemorates the Star which appeared in the East to guide the wise men to Bethlehem to proclaim the birth and the presence of the Son of God.

The Seven Stars

The Seven Stars which form so prominent a figure in a Masonic Lodge allude to as many regularly made Masons, without which number no Lodge is perfect, nor can any candidate be legally initiated into the Fraternity. By representing the perfect Lodge they are emblematical of that ethereal mansion above which is veiled from mortal eye by the starry firmament.


The mosaic pavement is the beautiful flooring of a Freemason’s Lodge. By reason of its being chequered and variegated it points out the diversity of objects which decorate and adorn creation, alike in its animate and inanimate parts. The Great Architect of the Universe out of his bounteous Liberality has spread the earth with a beauteous carpet. The mosaic work is an emblem of the world chequered with good and evil, pain and pleasure, grief and joy. Mosaic work was introduced into Freemasonry to remind the brethren of the uncertainty of all earthly things. To-day man may tread in the flowery meads of prosperity; tomorrow he may totter along the uneven paths of weakness, temptation and adversity. By such an emblem the Freemason is taught not to boast of anything, but to give heed to his ways, and walk with humility before God.

The Tesselated Border

The Tesselated Border, which is one of the Ornaments of the Lodge, refers us to the planets which, in their various revolutions, form a beautiful border or skirt work round the grand luminary, the Sun. It may be likened also to the Ocean which skirts the Land, and, by indenting it, adds to the beauty of the earth. And as the Sun and the Ocean are both great agencies for good in the economy of the world, the Tesselated Border emblematically represents the many blessings and comforts with which this life is endowed, and which are earnests of those which Freemasons hope to enjoy hereafter.


The Tassels pendant to the four corners of the Tesselated Border remind the Freemason of the four cardinal virtues which are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, all of which, according to Masonic tradition, were constantly practised by a vast majority of the ancient members of the Craft.

The Four Principal Points

The four principal points in Freemasonry refer to the ceremony of initiation, and are denominated from so many parts of the human body, and are called Guttural, Pectoral, Mental, and Pedal. Like the Tassels they allude to the four cardinal virtues


Temperance is more peculiarly the virtue of prosperity, as she guards the soul against those insidious allurements by which its nobler feelings are too often corrupted. But her influence is not confined to the hour of prosperity alone: she forms the mind to a general habit of restraint over its appetites, its passions, and even its virtues; any of which, if allowed to acquire exclusive influence over the soul, would concentrate the faculties in a single point, absorb its feelings, and confine its energies, insensibly producing intolerance of sentiment, and degenerating into an excess scarcely less pernicious than vice itself. Temperance may, therefore, be styled the crown of all the virtues. Her influence, like the masters of the ancient lyre, can modulate the varied chords of lively sympathy, or generous feeling, till each acquires its due tone and vibration, and the whole becomes blended in one sweet accordant harmony.


Fortitude is that virtue which arms the soul against the storms of adversity, enables it to rise superior to distress and danger, and gives it strength to resist the temptations and allurements of vice. But this virtue is equally distant from impetuous rashness on the one hand, and from dishonest cowardice on the other. The truly brave neither shrink from the evils which they are constrained to encounter, nor rush on danger without feeling and estimating its full extent. Fortitude, therefore, differs from constitutional hardiness, as real benevolence is distinguished from weakness, being actuated not by a principle of blind instinctive daring, but by the nobler motives of virtuous energy. He who with steady aim pursues the course which wisdom recommends, and justice consecrates, can cheerfully meet the hour of trial, smile at impending danger, and contemn every sordid and unworthy motive which would deter or seduce him from the path of duty; whilst fearing God alone he knows no other fear, and dares to do all that doth become a man,


Prudence may justly be defined as the clear and distinct perception of the several relations between our actions and the purposes to which they are directed. In this view it deserves to be considered as the first great principle of human wisdom, and justly has the great Roman moralist declared that where prudence rules the mind fortune has no influence. The prudent man, before he engages in any enterprise, maturely reflects on the consequences which may probably result from it, balancing with steady deliberation, the several probabilities of good and evil, extending his views into futurity, and revolving in his mind every circumstance of doubtful event affecting the end which he has in view, or the means which he purposes to use. He decides not hastily, and when he has decided, commits nothing to chance; but, comparing the three great periods of time with each other, from the reflection of the past regulates the present, and provides for the future, by which means he neither wastes his energies improvidently, nor meets the occurrences of life incautiously.


Justice teaches us to propose to ourselves such ends only as are consistent with our several relations to society. Without the exercise of this virtue universal confusion would ensue. Freemasons are taught to render to all, without distinction, those dues which they are respectively entitled to claim, and to bend with implicit obedience to the will of their Creator. They are to be scrupulously attentive to the sacred duties of life, zealous in their attachment to their native country, and exemplary in their allegiance to the government under which they reside. They are enjoined to treat superiors with reverence, equals with kindness, and to extend to inferiors the benefits of admonition, instruction and protection.

Three Characteristics of Freemasons

Three outstanding characteristics of every Freemason — necessary if he would be true to the high ideals of the Fraternity — are Secrecy, Fidelity, and Obedience. The Charge delivered to the Entered Apprentice in the course of the First Degree emphasises the special qualities of each.


Secrecy may be said to consist in a Freemason’s inviolable adherence to his obligations. The traditions of the Craft, coming down from a very remote age, are too sacred and too valuable to become the topic of every vain babbler. They have been preserved as relics from the past, and should be entrusted to the worthy and to the worthy alone. The faithful Brother must never, therefore, reveal the secrets of the art improperly, and must cautiously shun all occasions which might inadvertently lead him so to do.


The Fidelity of the Freemason must be exemplified by a strict observance of the Constitutions of the Fraternity; by adherence to the ancient landmarks of the Order; by never attempting to extort, or otherwise unduly obtain the secrets of a superior degree; and by refraining from recommending any one to a participation in the secrets of Freemasonry, unless there is strong grounds to believe that, by a similar fidelity, the person recommended will ultimately prove himself worthy of a Mason’s confidence.


Obedience demands close conformity to laws and regulations, prompt attention to all signs and summonses, modest and correct demeanour in the Lodge, abstinence from every topic of religious or political discussion calculated to cause discord, ready acquiescence in all votes and resolutions duly passed by the Brethren, and perfect submission to the R.W.M. and his Wardens while they are discharging the duties of their respective offices.

The Furniture

The Furniture of the Lodge consists of the V… S… L…, the Compasses and the Square. The Sacred Writings are a gift from God to man to rule and govern his faith, and on them all Freemasons are obligated. The Compasses and Square when united are to regulate our lives and actions. The Compasses belong to the R.W.M. in particular, and the Square to the Craft in general.


Every properly constituted Lodge holds a Charter from Grand Lodge, empowering it to enter, pass, and raise Masons, and to collect the necessary fees. This Charter is produced to every candidate as an authority, and must at all times be open in the Lodge for the inspection of the Brethren.

Laws and Constitutions

A copy of the latest edition of “The Laws and Constitutions of the Grand Lodge” must be in the possession of every daughter Lodge, and must be accessible to the brethren.

The Moveable Jewels

The Moveable Jewels are the Square, Level and Plumb-rule. They are called moveable jewels because they are worn by the R,W.M. and his Wardens, and are transferable from them to their successors on nights of installation. The R.W.M. is distinguished by the Square, the W.S.W. by the Level, and the W.J.W. by the Plumb rule.

The Immoveable Jewels

The Immoveable Jewels are the Tracing Board, the Rough Ashlar, and the Perfect Ashlar. They are called immoveable because they lie open for the brethren to moralise upon at all times, and are thus regarded as permanent and enduring.

The Tracing Board

The Tracing-Board is for the R.W.M. to lay lines and to draw designs on, by all of which he may teach the brethren to pursue the path of virtue. It is an emblem of the Book of Life in which the Grand Architect of the Universe has laid down the lines which guide us in the work of erecting a spiritual temple. By following the Divine Laws and Moral Plans therein laid down the Mason will at last succeed to a mansion not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

The Rough Ashlar

The Rough Ashlar is a stone, rough and unhewn, as taken from the quarry. By the industry and ingenuity of the workman it is modelled, wrought into due form, and rendered fit for the intended building. In its rough state it represents the mind of man in its infant or primitive condition — rough and unpolished as that stone — until by the care and instruction of parents and guardians in giving him a liberal education he is made a fit member of civilised society.

The Perfect Ashlar

The Perfect Ashlar is a stone of a true die, and fit only to be tried by the Square and Compasses. As a finely finished stone ready for its place in the building, it represents Man, educated and refined, who passes his days in acts of piety and virtue, living always by the Square of God’s Word, and the Compasses of a good conscience.


A Centre is a point within a circle from which all parts of the circumference are equidistant. As the Circle of Masonic Duty is contained in the V… of the S… L…, then the Centre is a point from which no Master Mason can err. It represents the Throne of God, the Great Architect and Creator of the Universe, who radiates light through boundless space. A Lodge working in the third degree is always declared as opened on the Centre. The reason for this is that all present are of equal rank, no one is nearer to or further from the Centre than any of his brethren, whereas in the inferior degrees of F.C. and E.A. this, necessarily, is not the case.


The Circle, which plays so prominent a part in Freemasonry, is doubtless derived from the circuit of the Sun in the Heavens. It represents the Boundary Line of a Freemason’s conduct, and the Circle of his duty is that laid down in the V… of the S… L…, which teaches him the important duty he owes to God, to his neighbour and to himself. The Circle is bounded between North and South by two grand parallel lines, one of which in ancient days represented Moses, and the other King Solomon, but in Christian times these represent the Holy Saints, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. On the upper part of the Circle rests the V… of the S… L…, which contains the Laws and the Prophets, and which supports Jacob’s ladder, the top of which reaches to Heaven. If the Freemason were as conversant with the Holy Book and as true to the doctrines contained therein, as these early and later parallels were, he would be led to Him who will not deceive neither will He suffer deception. In traversing the Circle, the Freemason must of necessity touch both of those parallel lines as well as the V… of the S… L…, and while he keeps himself thus circumscribed it is not possible for him to err.

The Three Virtues

The Three Virtues of an Entered Apprentice Freemason are an Attentive Ear, a Silent Tongue, and a Faithful Heart. These are symbolically described as the Precious Jewels of the First Degree.

An Attentive Ear

The Freemason should ever lend an attentive ear to his superiors, whose duty it is to instruct him in the paths of virtue and science; but more especially should he be ready to listen to the calls and cries of a worthy brother in distress. Day by day the attentive ear may hear lessons of wisdom from the mouth of Mother Nature, and the Freemason who devotes himself to a patient study of the science will find that the Craft is eloquent for those who have ears to hear.

A Silent Tongue

The silent tongue should be a prominent characteristic in every Freemason. It is an essential virtue, as by its means the valuable secrets of the Fraternity may be hidden from the curious world. The emblem of a Silent Tongue is a Bell reclining on its side.

A Faithful Heart

A Heart faithful to the best interests of the brotherhood is a safe repository in which the Freemason may lock up his secrets, and also those of a Brother when intrusted to his charge. It is one of the Five Points of Fellowship which bind the members of the Fraternity in a sincere and true communion of brotherly affection.


Chalk is an emblem of Freedom, one of the three qualifications necessary to promote independence, devotion, and love in the heart of every faithful servant. There is nothing freer than Chalk, the slightest touch of which leaves a trace behind.


Charcoal is emblematical of Fervency, another of the qualifications which are necessary to the promotion of independence, devotion and love in the heart of every faithful servant. It is adopted as this emblem because no heat is more fervent than that emitted by burning charcoal, for, when properly lighted, metals cannot resist its force.


Earth is an emblem of zeal, since there is nothing more zealous than earth to bring forth. The Freemason should ever be zealous in the pursuit of knowledge, in the practice of charity, and in the cause of truth and righteousness, ever remembering that Mother Earth is daily labouring for our support, and will receive us all into her ample bosom at last.

Two Grand Parallels

The two Grand Parallels in Ancient Masonry were Moses and King Solomon, to whom, according to tradition, Lodges were dedicated. In Christian times these Parallels were replaced by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, who were perfect parallels in Christianity. These Parallels are represented by the two straight lines which border the circle that symbolises the whole duty of a Freemason, and are emblematical of the Virtues which brethren are taught to reverence and practice. The legend which accounts for the adoption of the two Saints John as the Grand Parallels is as follows:— From the building of the First Temple at Jerusalem to the Babylonish Captivity Lodges of Freemasons were regularly dedicated to King Solomon. From the era of the Captivity to the birth of the Messiah they were dedicated to Zerubbabel, and from that time to the reign of the Emperor Vespasian they were dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Owing, however, to the many massacres that then took place, Freemasonry fell into great decay. Many Lodges were dissolved, and it was frequently difficult to get sufficient brethren to meet to constitute a legal Lodge. At a Meeting held in Jerusalem it was stated that the chief reason for Freemasonry having declined was the want of the patronage of a Grand Master, Accordingly some of the more eminent of the brethren were deputed to wait on St. John the Evangelist, who was at that time in Ephesus, and request him to assume the high honour, St. John, however, answered that as he was very old he feared his abilities were unequal to the task, but recalling that he had been initiated into the Craft in early life, and being a lover of the Fraternity, he consented to take office. While he presided over the Brotherhood he finished by his learning what the other St. John had begun by his zeal, and thus drew what Freemasonry terms a line parallel,


The Lewis is depicted by certain pieces of metal dovetailed into a stone and forming a cramp, which when used in combination with some of the mechanical powers, such as a system of pulleys, enables the operative mason to raise great weights to certain heights. The word denotes strength. It also denotes the Son of a Mason whose duty it is to assist his parents in their time of need, and, by bearing the burden and heat of the day, make their closing years happy and comfortable.


The Rule directs that we should punctually observe our duty, press forward in the path of virtue and, neither inclining to the right nor to the left, in all our actions have Eternity in view.


The Line teaches the criterion of moral rectitude, to avoid dissimulation in action and conversation, and to direct our steps in the paths which lead to immortality,

The Pedestal

The Pedestal is the base of a column on which the shaft is placed. Every Lodge is understood to have three — that of Wisdom in the E…, Strength in the W…, and Beauty in the S…. It is from this that we have the expression “to advance to the Pedestal” in allusion to the call of the R.W.M., which brings a member up to that part of the Lodge when so desired by the presiding officer.

The Three Grand Principles

The Three Grand Principles on which Freemasonry is founded are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. They are the Symbolic Jewels of a Master Mason and are treasured very highly by him.

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love has been described as the purest emanation of earthly friendship, and to extend and inspire it throughout the Universe is one of the grand purposes of Freemasonry. It is the strongest cement of the Order and without it the Fraternity would cease to exist. By it the Freemason is taught to believe that God made of one blood all nations of men, and to regard the whole human species as one family whose aim should be to aid, support and protect each other,


Relief is a duty which every man owes to his fellows in consideration of the common infirmities of human nature, but especially is it a duty imposed upon a Freemason towards his brethren who are in need of sympathy and succour. It should be his aim ever to be ready to soothe the unhappy, relieve the distressed, and restore peace to minds that are troubled.


Truth is a divine principle derived from the Great Father of Light. It is the duty of every brother to make truth the object of his search and to be fervent and zealous in its pursuit. It is the foundation of every Masonic virtue, and the subject of one of the earliest lessons which the Freemason receives.


As one of the purposes of Freemasonry is to cultivate the social virtues, the brethren may adjourn at all reasonable times from labour to refreshment. One of the Ancient Charges set out that after the Lodge was over, and the brethren not gone, they might enjoy themselves with innocent mirth, treating one another according to ability, but avoiding all excess, or forcing any brother to eat or drink beyond his inclination, or hindering him from going when his occasions call him, or doing or saying anything offensive, or that may forbid an easy and free conversation; for that would blast the harmony, and defeat the laudable purposes of Freemasonry. Private quarrels must not, therefore, be brought within the door of the Lodge, nor must there be any disputes about religion or politics.

The following very estimable Sentiments are culled from a List of Toasts that found favour with the Fraternity in the merry days of old —

May every Brother have a heart to feel and a hand to give.

May no Freemason desire plenty but with the benevolent view to relieve the indigent.

May we be more ready to correct our own faults than to publish the errors of the Brethren.

May all Freemasons go hand-in-hand on the road of virtue.

May honour and honesty distinguish the Brethren,

May all Freemasons live in love and die in peace.

May every Freemason be distinguished by the internal ornament of the upright heart.

May Freemasons ever taste and relish the sweets of domestic affection.

May every Freemason find constancy in love, and sincerity in friendship.

May temptation never conquer a Freemason’s virtue.

May our conversation be such as that youth may therein find instruction, women modesty, the aged respect, and all men civility.

Masonic Festivals

The two Red Letter Days in the Masonic Calendar are Midsummer Day and 27th December. The former is dedicated to the memory of St. John the Baptist, and the latter to St. John the Evangelist, both of whom were Patrons of Freemasonry and constitute the two Grand Parallels. These days are generally regarded as fit seasons for “Harmony,” and afford opportunities to Brethren to cultivate the social virtues.

The Wind of Masonry

The wind is said to blow favourably in Masonry when it is due East or West, The purpose is to cool and refresh men at labour, and it alludes to the miraculous wind which proved so essential in working the happy deliverance of the Children of Israel from the bondage of the Pharaohs. In commemoration of their safe passage across the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites went several days’ journey into the wilderness, singing hymns, praises and thanksgivings to the Almighty, since which time the wind when blowing East or West has been deemed favourable to Freemasonry.

The Sun in Masonry

The Sun is said always to be at its meridian in Freemasonry, and when a Brother is asked to explain such a statement he replies that, as the Sun is the centre of our solar system, with the Earth constantly revolving on its axis around it, and Freemasonry is universally spread over the surface of the globe, the Sun is always at its meridian at some point as regards the operations of Freemasonry. The Sun never sets on the ancient Craft.


The Freemason is regarded as “clothed” when he assumes the Apron. Grand Lodge recognises as full Masonic costume, black clothing, with white tie and gloves, but at Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge, at Meetings of Provincial and District Grand Lodges and daughter Lodges, brethren may wear dark clothes and black ties. No clothing nor insignia purporting to be Masonic may be worn in Grand Lodge or in any subordinate Lodge, except that appertaining to Craft Masonry, which alone is recognised and acknowledged,


Guiding his steps by the principles of moral truth which have been inculcated in the First Degree, the E… A… is led into the Second Degree there to contemplate the intellectual faculties and to trace them from their development through the paths of heavenly science, even to the throne of God. As an E… A… he learns something of many of the Masonic Emblems, but explanations of others are only gained as he makes further advance in the Craft. Each of the later Degrees has its own distinctive characteristics, all of which amplify and elaborate what has gone before.

The Brazen Pillars

In all ages and by all nations Pillars have been erected, and many references to them are to be found both in sacred and profane writings. Two of the most notable of these works of art, and two in which Freemasons are specially interested, are those which were erected by Solomon at the entrance of the Porch of the Temple. Josephus thus describes them: “Hiram made two hollow pillars, whose outsides were of brass, and the thickness of the brass was four fingers’ breadth, and the height of the pillars was eighteen cubits, and the circumference twelve cubits, but there was cast with each of their chapiters, lily work, that stood upon the pillars, and it was elevated five cubits; round about which there was net interwoven with small palms made of brass, and covered with lily work. To this also were hung two hundred pomegranates in two rows. The one of these pillars he set at the entrance of the Porch on the right hand, and called it Jachin, and the other on the left hand, and called it Boaz.” Biblical scholars regard the description of these Pillars as contained in 1 Kings vii. chapter, verses 15–22, as exceedingly confused, and are in much doubt with regard to the whole subject. It is generally accepted that, structurally, they were independent of the Temple Porch, and stood free in front of it — probably on plinths — Jachin on the south and Boaz on the north. Pillars so situated were a feature of Phoenician and other temples of Western Asia. The names “Jachin” and “Boaz” present an enigma that still awaits solution. The meanings suggested in the margins of the English Version of the Bible — Jachin, “he shall establish,” Boaz, “in it is strength” — do not give any help, and besides are very problematical. The original significance and purpose of the pillars are almost as obscure as their names. Probably they are best explained as conventional symbols of the God for whose worship the Temple of Solomon was designed. Adopting the suggestion contained in 1 Kings vii. 41, to the effect that the capitals were globular or spheroidal in form, many Masonic artists have represented them as globes of the celestial and terrestrial bodies — a very obvious anachronism. But whatever perplexities there may be concerning the design and purpose of Jachin and Boaz, the meditative Mason will not err in regarding them as emblems of that strength of mind and stability of character which ought to distinguish members of the ancient Fraternity.

The Second Degree Tools

The Tools in the use and meaning of which the Fellow-craft is instructed by those who are skilled in the science are the Square, Level and Plumb.

The Square

The Square is used by the operative mason to try and adjust all irregular corners of buildings, and to assist in bringing rude matter into due form. In the Fellow-craft degree the Freemason is admitted upon the Square in order that he may make further progress in the Art, and no longer be received as a stranger in a hostile manner, but as one entitled to the privileges of a true and lawful brother. In a moral sense the Square teaches the Freemason to regulate bis actions by the Masonic rule and line, otherwise the principles of conduct to be found in Holy Scriptures. He is abjured to act upon the square with all mankind.

The Level

The use of the Level in the hands of the operative mason is to lay levels and prove horizontals. As an emblem of Speculative Freemasonry it demonstrates that we are descended from the same stock, partakers of the same nature and sharers of the same hope. Although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, and to reward merit and ability, no eminence of station should make us forget that we are all brethren, for the time will come when all distinctions, save those of goodness and virtue, shall cease, and Death, the grand leveller of all human greatness, will reduce us to the same state.

The Plumb-rule

The Plumb-rule, which is used by the operative mason to try and adjust all uprights while fixing them on their proper bases, is to the Speculative Mason an emblem of justness and uprightness of life and actions. It admonishes him to walk uprightly in whatever station he may be placed, to hold the scales of justice with an equal poise, and to observe the just medium between avarice and profusion, and to make his passions and prejudices coincide with the exact line of duty. To steer the barque of this life over the rough seas of passion without quitting the helm of rectitude is one of the highest degrees of perfection to which human nature may attain.

The Middle Chamber

The conventional lecture on the Tracing Board of the Second Degree deals in great fulness with the Middle Chamber of King Solomon’s Temple whence the ancient Craftsman had to retire at stated intervals to receive his wages. It pictures him as passing the pillars Jachin and Boaz, only to find his further progress barred by the J.W., who demanded the password and passgrip. Having satisfied this brother on these points the Craftsman passed up a winding stair consisting of three, five, and seven steps. Arrived at the top he found himself at the door of the Middle Chamber which was open, but properly tyled by the S.W. against all under the degree of F.C. After the Craftsman was able to prove his position to the S.W. he was permitted to enter the chamber where he received his wages, which he took without scruple or diffidence — without scruple, knowing he had justly earned it, and without diffidence, from the unbounded confidence he placed in the integrity of his employers. Our English Version of the Bible finds winding stairs in the Temple, but there cannot be any doubt that, with regard to Freemasonry, the whole story of the Middle Chamber and the Winding Stair is simply an allegory — the Winding Stair a symbol of the toilsome ascent after Knowledge, and the wages received in the Middle Chamber a symbol of the reward which awaits all who steadily pursue their aim.

The Winding Stair

In his search for further light the F.C. approaches the E… by symbolically ascending the Winding Stair which consisted of three short flights of three, five, and seven steps respectively. The total number of steps, in all, Fifteen, is a symbol of much significance, for this was a sacred number in the East for the reason that the letters of the Holy Name “JAH” were in their numerical value equal to fifteen. The thoughtful Freemason, therefore, may well regard the Fifteen Steps of the Winding Stair as, to some extent, a symbol of the name of the Great Architect of the Universe.

The Three Steps

The Three Steps allude to the three Masons who rule a Lodge: these are the R.W.M., the W.S.W., and the W.J.W. These three rule the Lodge because there were but three Grand Masters who bore sway at the building of the first Temple at Jerusalem, namely, Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre; and Hiram Abiff. They also represent the three stages in life — youth, manhood, and old age. Also, they refer to the three principal supports in Freemasonry which are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. When more particularly applied to the case of the E.A. they represent the three stages of his early career as a Craftsman, first, his being born into the Masonic life; secondly, his ignorance of the teachings of the grand system of the Fraternity; and thirdly, the lessons which he receives in his early days as a necessary preparation for the later degrees.

The Five Steps

The Five Steps allude to the five Masons who hold a Lodge — namely, the R.W.M., the two Wardens and two Fellow-crafts. Five hold a Lodge in allusion to the five noble orders of architecture which are Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. They also allude to the five human senses. Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Tasting, and Smelling. As each of these orders of architecture and human senses will be briefly dealt with later, further reference is unnecessary here.

The Seven Steps

The Seven Steps allude to the seven, or more, Masons who make a Lodge perfect, because Solomon was seven years in building, completing, and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to the service of God. They also allude to the Seven Sabbatical Years, the Seven Years of Famine, the Seven Golden Candlesticks, the Seven Days of the Week, the Seven Wonders of the World, and lastly, and more particularly, to the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences — Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy.


The Wages of an E.A. and F.C. are Corn, Wine, and Oil. The King of Tyre furnished timber for the Temple in exchange for stipulated proportions of corn, wine, and oil; and at the building of the Temple a certain allowance of corn, wine, and oil was made to each lodge. To the Speculative Freemason Corn is an emblem of Plenty, Wine is a symbol of Cheerfulness, and Oil is indicative of Peace. The student of the Tracing Board will discover an Ear of Corn growing near a running stream. This, as he learns in the course of the Second Degree, represents Plenty.

The Senses

The Senses which are alluded to in the flight of Five Steps that forms part of the Winding Stair, are too well known to call for more than passing notice. The first three — those of Seeing, Hearing, and Touching — by which respectively we distinguish objects, forms and colours, appreciate sounds, and acquire ideas of hardness, softness, smoothness, and roughness, heat and cold are peculiarly essential to Freemasons in respect of the fact that by their means the brethren perceive Signs, recognise Words, and distinguish Grips. The others — Tasting and Smelling — demonstrate along with those already mentioned the amazing wisdom of the Great Architect of the Universe. The whole subject is well calculated to give food for thought to the contemplative brother and, as he exercises the varied senses day by day and hour by hour, to lead him to look with adoration from Nature up to Nature’s God.

Five Noble Orders of Architecture

By Order, in architecture, is meant a system of the members, proportions, and ornaments of columns and pilasters, or a regular arrangement of the projecting parts of a building which, united with those of a column, form a beautiful, perfect, and complete whole. Order in architecture may be traced from the earliest formation of society. When the rigour of the winter compelled men to contrive some sort of shelter from the elements, it is stated that they set trees on end and laid others across to support a covering. The bands which connected these trees are said to have suggested the idea of bases and capitals; and that from this simple hint proceeded the more improved art of architecture. The five orders are named Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. One authority expresses their character in these significant terms: he describes the Tuscan as the Gigantic; the Doric as the Herculean; the Ionic as the Matronal; the Corinthian as the Virginal; and the Composite as the Heroic.


The Tuscan is the most simple and solid of the five orders. It admits of no ornaments and the columns are never fluted. The simplicity of the column — which is seven diameters high — renders it suitable where solidity is the chief object. It differs so little from the Doric that it is generally regarded as being only a variety of the latter.


The Doric is the oldest, strongest and simplest of the three Grecian orders. Its column is distinguished by the want of a base (in the more ancient examples at least), by the small number of its flutings and by its massive proportions, the true Grecian Doric having the height of its pillars six times that of the diameter. The capital was small and simple, and the architrave, frieze and cornice plain and massive. The Freemason looks upon it as the Column of Strength, and its symbolic position is in the W…


The Ionic bears a kind of mean proportion between the more solid and delicate orders. Its column is nine diameters high; its capital is adorned with volutes, and its cornice has denticles. There is both delicacy and ingenuity displayed in this pillar, the invention of which is attributed to the Ionians, as the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus was of this order. It is said to have been formed after the model of an agreeable young woman, of an elegant shape, dressed in her hair, in contrast to the Doric order which was formed after that of a strong robust man. The Freemason regards it as typical of the Column of Wisdom, and it is therefore understood as being situated in the E….


The Corinthian is the richest of the five orders and is deemed a masterpiece of art. Its most characteristic feature is the capital which is adorned with beautifully carved acanthus leaves. The column, which is ten diameters high, is generally fluted, with a fillet between the flutings, and stands upon a base. The entablature is variously decorated, especially the cornice; the frieze may be quite plain or sculptured with foliage and animals. It is regarded by the Freemason as the Column of Beauty, and he assigns it a position in the S….


The Composite is the last of the five orders, and is so called because the capital belonging to it is composed out of those of the other orders. It borrows a quarter-round from the Tuscan and Doric, a row of leaves from the Corinthian, and volutes from the Ionic. Its cornice has simple modillions or dentils. It is generally found in buildings in which strength, elegance and beauty are united.

Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences

The application of the seven liberal arts and sciences by the Freemason who would emerge from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge enables him to consider the celestial and terrestrial bodies with accuracy. The study tends to polish and adorn his mind, and affords him an opportunity to display his talents to advantage and advance the destiny of the race.


Grammar teaches the proper arrangement of words, according to the idiom or dialect of any particular country or people, as well as that excellence of pronunciation which enables one to express himself with accuracy either in speech or writing, and agreeably to reason, authority, and the rules of good literature.


Rhetoric teaches us to speak fluently on any subject, not merely with propriety, but with the advantages of force and elegance, wisely contriving to captivate the hearer by strength of argument and beauty of expression whether the purpose be to instruct, exhort, admonish, or command.


Logic teaches us to guide our reason with discretion in the general knowledge of things, and direct our enquiries after truth. It consists of a regular train of argument whence we infer, deduce and conclude according to certain premises laid down, admitted or granted. In it are employed the faculties of conceiving, judging, reasoning, and disposing, all of which naturally progress from one gradation to another until the point in question is finally determined.


Arithmetic is the science of numbers variously effected by letters, tables, figures, and instruments. By its means reasons and demonstrations are given for finding out any certain number, whose relation or affinity to any other number is already known.


Geometry deals with the powers and properties of magnitudes in general when length, breadth and thickness are considered. By this science the architect is enabled to prepare his plans, the general to arrange his soldiers, the engineer to mark out ground for encampments, the geographer to give us the dimensions of the world, to delineate the extent of seas, and to specify the limits of empires, kingdoms and provinces, and the astronomer to make his observations, and fix the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles. In short, Geometry is the foundation of architecture, and the root of mathematics.


Music teaches the art of forming concords so as to produce a delightful harmony of acute, grave and mixed sounds which is never employed to greater purpose than when ringing the praises of the G.G.O.T.U. This art, by a series of experiments, is reduced to a demonstrative science with respect to tones and the intervals of sounds. It enquires into the nature of concords and discords, and by numbers ascertains the proportion between them.


Astronomy is that art by which man is taught to read the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator in those sacred pages — the celestial hemisphere. Assisted by it man observes the motions, measures the distances, comprehends the magnitudes, and calculates the periods and eclipses of the heavenly bodies. By it also he learns the use of the globes, the system of the world and the primary law of nature, and while employed in the study he perceives unparalleled instances of wisdom and goodness, and on every hand traces the G.G.O.T.U. in his works.

The Sacred Symbol

The Sacred Symbol which is found in the centre of the Lodge alludes to G. the G.G.O.T.U., whose All-Seeing Eye is upon man wherever he is or whatever he does. The F… C… while continuing to act with faithfulness to the Craft should never fail to discharge his duties to God with fervency and zeal. It is sometimes enclosed in an equilateral triangle which is a symbol of the triune essence of the Deity.


Having as an E… A… been instructed in the path of moral rectitude and the active principles of universal beneficence and charity, and as a F… C… been exhorted to study God in nature and to observe Wisdom, Strength and Beauty as the three main supports of the Spiritual Universe, the Freemason is led to the high and sublime Degree of a Master Mason, the main purpose of which is to teach him to look beyond the narrow limits of this world, and to see man raised from the grave to everlasting Life and blessedness.

The Three Precious Jewels

The three Precious Jewels of a Master Mason are Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love. It should be his aim ever to keep them untarnished so that they may become the pride of himself and the envy of others. Morality is practical virtue and the duty of life as defined by the Great Architect on high; Friendship is personal kindness which should radiate beyond the circle of private connections to universal philanthropy: Brotherly Love is best described as the purest emanation of earthly friendship.

The Tools of a M.M

On reaching the high and sublime degree of Master Mason, the student of the Mysteries is presented with further tools, which are used by the operative brother and which in the sphere of Speculative Freemasonry are employed further to illustrate points in moral conduct.

The Skirret

The Skirret is an instrument which acts on a centre pin whence a line is drawn, chalked, and struck, to mark out the ground for the foundation of the intended structure. Applied in a moral sense it points out to the Freemason that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for his pursuit in the V… of the S… L….

The Pencil

With the Pencil the skilful artist delineates the building on a draft or plan for the instruction and guidance of the workman. As an emblem it indicates to the Freemason that our words and actions are observed and recorded by the Almighty Architect to Whom we must give an account of our conduct through life.

The Compasses

The Compasses in a special sense belong to the Third Degree. When properly extended they embrace all the tenets of the Fraternity. In the hands of the Master Mason the Compasses may be used to trace the Circle of his conduct, and the moral lesson they teach is that the Freemason should limit his desires and keep his passions within due bounds so that he may enjoy at once a life of physical strength and moral and intellectual integrity. They remind him, too, of God’s unerring and impartial justice which, having defined the limits of good and evil will reward or punish according as man obeys or disregards the Divine commands.

The Three Grand Masters

The three Grand Masters of Freemasonry are Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre; and Hiram Abiff, the marvellous artificer. All these were intimately associated with the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, and they form a glorious Trinity in Masonry.

Solomon, King of Israel

Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. The name means “peaceful,” and although we have no account of his training, the phrase “The Lord loved him” implies great gifts. When Solomon succeeded to the crown, he sought to develop the ideas of his father. He consolidated the kingdom, welding its disorganised tribal divisions into a short-lived Unity, by the power of an Oriental despotism. More than any other Jewish king he realised the importance of foreign alliances which were closely connected with his commercial policy. Early in his life he married Pharaoh’s daughter, and, according to one authority, at a later date he entered into wedlock with a daughter of Hiram, King of Tyre, The impression one receives of the internal condition of the Kingdom is one of great wealth, but the gold was used chiefly in unproductive forms of display. His passion for buildings was extravagant. The Temple was seven years in building, and his own house thirteen. From the religious point of view the outstanding feature of his reign is the building of the Temple. Its elaborate magnificence was a visible proof of the triumph of Jehovah over the Baal worship of Canaan, and of His exaltation as supreme God of the nation. Solomon evidently began his reign with high ideals, of which his dream was a natural expression, but his religion was associated with external display. The magnificence of the Temple, and the pageantry and holocausts of its dedication ministered to his own glory, no less than to God’s. His fall is connected with his polygamy and foreign wives. He not only allowed them their own worship but shared in it; the memory of his “high places” within sight of his own Temple, was preserved in the name “Mount of Offence.” Of his actual end nothing is known. He was an “old man” at sixty years.

Hiram, King of Tyre

Hiram, King of Tyre, was the son of Abibaal and succeeded his father in the monarchy. A real friendship existed between him and King David, and this was deepened in the case of Solomon. When the Wise King of Israel came to the throne he entered into a regular alliance with his fellow-sovereign, the result of which was that Hiram supplied men and materials for the building of the Temple, receiving corn and oil in return. Another evidence of the friendly relations that existed between the monarchs is seen in their joint enterprise of sending ships to Ophir to procure gold. Masonic tradition asserts that Hiram was one of the three Grand Masters who superintended the building of the Temple, that he furnished the timbers from the forest of Lebanon, and that, at the request of King Solomon, he sent a man, Hiram Abiff, who thoroughly understood the principles of every art and science, to preside over the workmen and direct their labours. A curious episode in the relations between the Kings of Israel and Tyre is recounted in 1 Kings ix. 10–14, according to which Solomon gave Hiram “twenty cities in the land of Galilee.” Hiram was not satisfied with the gift though he gave Solomon “sixscore talents of gold.” In the parallel account in 2 Chronicles viii. 1–2, Hiram is represented as giving cities (the number is not stated) to Solomon. Both in Holy Writ and in profane authors there are many discrepancies as to details in the relations between Solomon and Hiram, but the one fact stands out with singular clearness that the monarchs were on terms of warm friendship.

The Legend of Hiram

The life of Hiram of Tyre, the widow’s son of Masonic lore, is largely conjectural. The references to him in Holy Writ are few and not always free from confusion. We read of him in 1 Kings vii., as “filled with wisdom and understanding and cunning to work all works in brass.” Again, in 2 Chronicles ii. he is described as “skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson.” As to his parentage there is some doubt. In 1 Kings vii. 14 he is said to have been the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father a man of Tyre; according to 2 Chronicles ii. 14, his mother belonged to the tribe of Dan, though here, too, his father is said to have been a Tyrian. Little is known of his life; and the manner of his death is merely a legend of Freemasonry intended to symbolise our faith in the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. According to Masonic tradition the manner of his death was as follows: Fifteen Fellow-crafts of that superior class of workmen who were appointed to preside over the others, finding that the work was nearly completed, and that they were not in possession of the secrets of the Master’s degree which were known only to Solomon, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, conspired together to obtain them by any means, and even to have recourse to violence. At the moment of carrying their conspiracy into execution, twelve of the fifteen recanted; but three, of a more determined and atrocious character than the rest, persisted m their impious design, in prosecution of which they stationed themselves respectively at the east, north, and south entrances of the Temple whither Hiram had retired to pay his adorations to the Most High, as was his wonted custom at the hour of high twelve.

His devotions being ended, Hiram sought to return by the north door, but found himself opposed by the first of the three ruffians who, in a very threatening manner demanded the secrets of a Master Mason, declaring to Hiram that his death would be the consequence of a refusal. Hiram, however, true to an obligation he had taken, replied that those secrets were known only to three, and could only be revealed by consent of them all; that diligence and patience could not fail to entitle the worthy mason to participate in these mysteries, but that he would sooner suffer death than betray his sacred trust. On receiving this answer the ruffian aimed a blow at Hiram’s head, but, startled by the firmness of his demeanour, it missed the forehead and only glanced upon his right temple, yet with such violence as to cause Hiram to reel and sink on his left knee. Recovering from this situation, he ran to the south door, where he was accosted by the second ruffian in a similar manner, and answered as before with undiminished firmness, when the assassin struck him a blow on the left temple, which brought him to the ground upon his right knee. Finding escape thus cut off in both these quarters, he staggered, faint and bleeding, to the east door, where the third ruffian was posted, who, on receiving a similar reply to his insolent demand (for Hiram still remained unshaken even in this trying moment), struck him a violent blow full in the middle of the forehead under which this excellent man sank lifeless at the feet of the murderer. Such was the manner of his death, and such, in like circumstances, will be the magnanimity of every man whose mind is well constituted, who has squared his life upon the principles of moral truth and justice, and who, by improving his faculties in the glory of God and good of mankind, has answered the great end of his creation, and has learned to contemplate death as the end of afflictions and the entrance to a better life.

A loss so important as that of the principal Architect could not fail of being generally and severely felt. The want of those plans and designs, which had hitherto been regularly supplied to the different classes of workmen, was the first indication that some heavy calamity had befallen the Master. The Masters, or Presidents, or familiarly speaking, the Overseers, deputed some of the most eminent of their number to acquaint King Solomon of the utter confusion into which the absence of Hiram had plunged them, and to express their apprehension that to some fatal catastrophe must be attributed his sudden and mysterious disappearance. Solomon immediately ordered a general muster of the workmen throughout the different departments, when three of the same class of Overseers were not to be found. On the same day the twelve Craftsmen who had originally joined in the conspiracy went before the King and made a voluntary confession of all they knew down to the time of withdrawing themselves from the enterprise. This naturally increased the fears of King Solomon for the safety of the chief artist. He therefore selected fifteen trusty Fellow-crafts and ordered them to make diligent search after the person of Hiram, to see if he were yet alive, or if he had suffered death in the attempt to extort from him the secrets of his exalted degree.

They formed themselves into three Fellow-craft Lodges, and a stated day having been appointed for their return to Jerusalem, they departed from the three entrances to the Temple. Many days were spent in fruitless search. Indeed, one class returned without having made any discovery of importance. A second class was more fortunate for, on the evening of a certain day, after they had suffered the greatest privations and personal fatigues, one of the brethren rested himself in a reclining posture, and in order to assist his rising, caught hold of a shrub that grew near, which to his surprise came easily out of the ground. On a closer examination he perceived that the earth had been recently disturbed. He therefore hailed his companions and, with their united endeavours, re-opened the ground, and found the body of Hiram very indecently interred. They covered it again with all respect and reverence and, to distinguish, the spot, planted a sprig of acacia at the head of the grave. They then hastened to Jerusalem to impart the afflicting intelligence to King Solomon who, when the first emotion of his grief had subsided, ordered them to return and raise the Master to a sepulchre that became his rank and exalted talent.

Hiram was re-interred as near the Sanctum Sanctorum as the Israelitish law would permit, and there in a grave, from the centre three feet east, three feet west, three feet between north and south, and five feet or more perpendicular. He was not buried in the Sanctum Sanctorum, because nothing common or unclean was suffered to enter there. The same fifteen Fellow-crafts were ordered to attend the funeral, clothed in white aprons and gloves as emblems of innocence.

It only remains to add that the third class pursued their researches in the direction of Joppa, and were meditating their return to Jerusalem when, accidentally passing the mouth of a cavern, they heard sounds of deep lamentation and regret. On entering the cavern to ascertain the cause, they found three men answering the description of those missing, who, on being charged with the murder, and finding all chance of escape cut off, made a full confession of their guilt. They were bound and led to Jerusalem, where King Solomon sentenced them to that death which their heinous crime so amply merited.

The Five Points of Fellowship

The Five Points of Fellowship are these:—

First — I greet you as a brother; and when the necessities of a brother call for my aid and support, I will be ever ready to lend him such assistance as will save him from sinking, if I find him worthy.

Second — I will support you in all your just and lawful undertakings. Indolence shall not cause my footsteps to halt, nor wrath to turn them aside. But forgetting every selfish consideration, I will ever be swift of foot to save, help, and to execute benevolence to a fellow-creature in distress, but more particularly to a Brother Mason, if worthy.

Third — That the posture of my daily supplications shall remind me of a brother’s wants. When I offer up my ejaculations to Almighty God, a brother’s welfare I will remember as my own; for as the voices of babes and sucklings ascend to the throne of grace, so most assuredly will the breathings of a fervent heart ascend to the mansions of bliss, as our prayers are certainly received for each other.

Fourth — That my breast shall be a sacred repository for all just and lawful secrets. A brother’s secrets delivered to me as such, I would keep as my own, as to betray that trust might be to do him the greatest injury he could sustain in this mortal life: nay, it would be like the villainy of an assassin who lurks in darkness to stab his adversary when unarmed and least prepared to meet an enemy.

Fifth — That I will support a Master Mason’s honour in his absence equally as though he were present; that I will not revile him myself nor cause or suffer that to be done by others if in my power to prevent it, but on the contrary will boldly repel the slanderer of his good name.

By these Five Points of Fellowship are Freemasons linked together in one invisible chain of sincere Affection, Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.

Grand Honours

Honours are peculiar acts and gestures employed by Freemasons to express homage, and differ according to the rank of the person honoured. In addition to these there are the Public Grand Honours which are given on public occasions as, for example, at the funeral of a departed brother, or as part of the ceremonial of laying foundation stones. The manner of the Public Grand Honours is as follows:— Both arms are crossed on the breast, the left uppermost, with the open palms of the hands striking the shoulders sharply. The hands are then raised above the head, the palms striking each other, and then made smartly to fall upon the thighs. The series of motions makes nine concussions in all, which are popularly referred to by brethren as “the three times three.”

The Pot of incense

The Pot of Incense is the emblem of a Pure Heart without which no Freemason may hope to reach the glory that lies beyond the grave and meet the Grand Architect of the Universe amid the splendours of the Lodge that is immortal. As the Pot of Incense glows with fervent heat, so should the Freemason’s heart continually glow with gratitude to the great and beneficent Author of his existence for the manifold blessings and combats he enjoys.

The Beehive

The Beehive is an emblem of Industry, and, as such, severely reproves idleness, which is the parent of immorality and ruin. As a result of industry the Freemason enjoys the necessities and even the luxuries of life, and by diligence in labour of whatever honest kind merits the respect and esteem of men, and proves to all the world that he is not a useless drone in the busy hive of nature, but rather is constant in his high endeavours to live up to the purpose for which he was created by an All-wise and All-powerful God.

Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid

This was an invention of our ancient Brother Pythagoras who, in his travels through Asia, Africa and Europe, was initiated into several orders of priesthood, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in geometry or masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems. Among the most distinguished was this that, in any right-angled triangle, the square described upon the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares described upon the sides which contain the right angle. In the joy of his heart at his discovery he cried Eureka! which signifies I have found it! and upon the discovery of which tradition maintains that he sacrificed a hecatomb. The problem, which is of great use in geometry, is emblematical of the symmetry and beauty of Creation and the unalterable laws of Divine wisdom.

The Trowel

The Trowel teaches that nothing can be united without proper cement, and that the perfection of the building depends on the suitable disposition of the cement. So Charity, the bond of perfection and social union, must unite separate minds and interests that, like the radii of a circle which extend from the centre to every part of the circumference, the principle of universal benevolence may be diffused to every member of the community. As it is used by the operative brother to spread the cement which unites a building into one common mass, so the Freemason uses it emblematically for the noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection; that cement which unites the members of the Fraternity into one sacred band or society of Brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist.

The Ark

The Ark is an emblem of safety and of the trust of Freemasons in the Great Architect of the Universe — that God who guided the Ark to safety and saved the human race from utter destruction. As he did not forsake Noah in the days of the world’s darkness, neither will he desert those who put their trust in him.

The Anchor

The Anchor is the emblem of a well-grounded hope in immortality, when the frail barque of man, having safely steered through the troubled waters of this life, will be moored at last to that shore where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.

The Hour-Glass

As an emblem the Hour-Glass warns us of the rapidity of Time, that each moment is bearing us towards Eternity, and that it is our duty so to employ our days that we may receive the Master’s “Well done” when our earthly course is finished. Moreover we may leave a pleasant memory among the brethren.

Lives of good men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime.
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Down through the centuries the Hour-Glass has been used as a means of measuring Time, and in the age-long process has come to be regarded as a fitting symbol of human life.

Redeem the hours while in thy Glass
 The Sands in silence run;
Too soon the day of life will pass,
 Too soon the sunset gun
Will sound, and summon thee to rest.
 And all thy work be done.

We cannot without astonishment behold the little particles which are contained in this machine, how they pass — almost imperceptibly — and yet, to our surprise, in the short space of an hour they are all exhausted, Thus wastes man! To-day he puts forth the tender leaves of hope; to-morrow he blossoms and bears his honours thick upon him; the next day comes a frost which nips the shoot, and when he thinks his greatness is still ripening he falls, like autumn leaves, to enrich our mother earth.

The Scythe

The Scythe is an emblem of Time and is intended to remind us of the uncertainty of human life. Artists seeking to give form and feature to the advancing years of the world have pictured Time as a man grey in service, and wise with ripe experience who, in calm serenity of mind and purpose, is for ever employed in gathering the harvest of this mortal life into the vast storehouse of Eternity. Behold what havoc the scythe of time makes among the human race! If by chance we should escape the numerous evils incident to childhood and youth, and with health and vigour arrive at the years of manhood, yet we must soon be cut down by the all-devouring scythe of time, and be gathered into the land where our fathers have gone before us.

The Spade

The Spade as an emblem reminds us that all nature dies and lives again. As an implement it at once suggests the grave into which the frail and mortal part of man is laid away from sight. But it as surely suggests to us that this world is the tilling ground of heaven, and admonishes us to cultivate our morals and improve our knowledge, the better to equip us for the life that is beyond the grave.

Coffin, Skull, and Crossbones

The Coffin, Skull, and Crossbones are emblems of the inevitable destiny of our mortal bodies. These grim reminders of decay and dissolution should lead us to meditate on Death and all it portends:

Behold this ruin! ’Tis a skull
Once of ethereal spirit full;
This narrow cell was Life’s retreat,
This space was Thought’s mysterious seat;
What beauteous visions filled this spot,
What dreams of pleasure long forgot,
Nor hope, nor joy, nor love, nor fear.
Hath left one trace of record here.

Beneath this mould’ring canopy
Once shone a bright and busy eye.
But start not at the dismal void —
If social love that eye employed,
If with no lawless fires it gleamed,
But through the dews of kindness beamed,
That eye shall be for ever bright
When sun and stars are sunk in night.

Within this hollow cavern, hung
The ready, swift and tuneful tongue;
If falsehood’s honey it disdained,
And, where it could not praise, was chained;
If bold in virtue’s cause it spoke
Yet gentle concord never broke,
That silent tongue will plead for thee
When Time unveils Eternity.

The Broken Column

The Broken Column is emblematical of the chief supporter of the Craft who was slain before his work was finished. Tradition records that this was the design of the monument erected to the memory of Hiram Abiff. It is symbolical of the frailty of man and all things human. A virgin wept over the broken column, with a book open before her. In her right hand there was a sprig of acacia, and in her left an urn. Time stood behind her with his hands folded in the ringlets of her hair. The weeping virgin denotes the unfinished state of the Temple; the open book indicates that Hiram’s memory is in imperishable record; the urn refers to the fact that his ashes are safely deposited; and Time standing with his hands in her hair suggests that time, patience, and perseverance will accomplish all things.

The Sprig of Acacia

The Acacia is an evergreen plant or shrub which grows in abundance in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Masonic tradition informs us that it was used as a means of marking the temporary grave of Hiram Abiff. It is represented by the little sprig of evergreen, which every brother deposits in the grave of a member who is buried with Masonic honours. Freemasons esteem it as an emblem of tender Sympathy and undying Affection, and, as it is an evergreen, regard it as emblematical of the soul that never dies, and that when the cold winter of death shall have passed, and the bright summer morning of the resurrection appears the Sun of Righteousness shall descend, and send forth his angels to collect our ransomed dust. Then if we are found worthy we shall enter into the celestial Lodge above.

The Ornaments

As an E… A… and F… C… the Freemason has been made familiar with much that belongs to the Temple, but one or two of the ornaments relate in a special manner to the Third Degree. These are the Porch, the Dormer, and the Chequered Pavement.

The Porch

The Porch was the entrance to the Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies. In the Third Degree it is aptly chosen as something to remind the Master Mason that the grave is the portal through which all men must pass to the Spirit world. He must never regard it as the entrance to a land of gloom but rather as the avenue that leads to greater possibilities and ampler opportunities than are offered to mortals in this vale of tears.

The Dormer

The Dormer represents the Window which gave light to the Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies, and as such is to the Freemason an emblem of that Fountain of Wisdom which enlightens the mind and dispels the gloom of ignorance. By drinking of such a fountain the Brother will not only advance his own mental welfare but will radiate the sunshine of knowledge on all around.

The Chequered Pavement

The Chequered Pavement was for the High Priest to walk upon. Part of his office was to burn incense to the Most High and to pray for peace and tranquillity. By purity of heart the Freemason may perpetuate the priestly office and his life should be devoted towards spreading the glories of peace throughout the world.


No more fitting conclusion to a study of the Ornaments and Emblems of the various degrees could be found than the suggestive admonition which it is customary in some Lodges for the Master to give to the brethren ere the labours of the day are brought to a close. “Brethren, we are now about to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, to mix again with the world. Amidst its concerns and employments forget not the duties which you have heard so frequently inculcated, and so forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Remember that around this altar you have promised to befriend and relieve every Brother who shall need your assistance. You have promised in the most friendly manner to remind him of his errors, and aid in reformation. These generous principles are to extend further: every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Finally, Brethren, be ye all of one mind, live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.”

Dundee: T. M. Sparks, Crosswell Printing Works, 1921