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Information every mason should know


From The  Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Website


The Beginnings of Freemasonry

Freemasonry may be traced by history and tradition back through the centuries to the remotest ages of the World.  At one time or other through the years, many theories have been advanced to explain the beginning of the Craft.

The Development of Freemasonry

We have no definite knowledge as to when the custom of admitting non-operatives to membership in a lodge of Masons was started. The earliest existing record of a non-operative Member is a reference to the presence of the Laird of Auchinleck at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary's Chapel, on June 8, 1600 . . .

The Symbolism of Freemasonry

A widely quoted definition of Freemasonry states that it is a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

Freemasonry - A Way of Life

Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and, above all, reverence and love for God.


Freemasonry may be traced by history and tradition back through the centuries to the remotest ages of the World.  At one time or other through the years, many theories have been advanced to explain the beginning of the Craft. Some of the early historians of our Fraternity have cited numerous fanciful stories and weird legends in an attempt to reveal a source of Freemasonry almost as far back as the beginning of time.

Somewhat later, Masonic historians seemed to go to the other extreme and were inclined to accept nothing, which could not be undeniably proven. In more recent years, a third group of investigators is willing to suggest that some of the gaps in the irrefutable written testimony might be filled satisfactorily by the proper use of theories based on definite circumstantial evidence.

Man is by nature a social creature, and has a very definite tendency toward mysticism in his make-up. These and other traits doubtless had their influence in the formation of secret and mystical societies at a very early date. The oldest association of men of which we have any knowledge, was the so-called "Men's House" that, in one form or other, existed in practically all tribes of early civilizations. It is still present among most primitive peoples. The building used for this purpose by a tribal group was the largest in the village and was the center of activities. The leaders of the tribe met here, held court, meted out punishments, enacted laws, governed the people and made such decisions as were required for the welfare of the tribe.

Here, sooner or later, each boy became a man and a full member of the tribe by being initiated in the Men's House. Here, he was taught the secret traditions, the religion, and the legends of his people and his duties upon coming to man's estate. Some of the tests were severe and included physical torture and frightening experiences. Almost invariably, the death and subsequent resurrection of the candidate were depicted to impress upon him the necessity of forsaking a life of irresponsible living and assuming a more meaningful one.

Possibly as early as 2,000 B.C., the rites of the Men's House evolved into the Solar Mysteries of the Egyptians.  Composed of some of the finest minds of the time, the organization known as the "Greater Mysteries" in Egypt became the repository of the knowledge of the ages.

Plato wrote: "The Mysteries were established by men of great genius who, in the early days, strove to teach purity, to ameliorate the cruelty of the race, to refine its morals and manners, and to restrain society by stronger bonds than those which human laws impose. "

Joseph Fort Newton, renowned Masonic scholar, described the Mysteries as being tolerant of all faiths, forming an all-embracing moral and spiritual fellowship which rose above barriers of nation, race and creed, and satisfying the craving of men for unity, while evoking in them a sense of that eternal mysticism out of which all religions are born.

Many members of the Egyptian Mysteries were natives of other countries who took back to their homelands the knowledge that they had gained in the land of the Pharaohs. In several instances upon their return, they established similar secret societies, such as the Phythagorean Mysteries of Greece, the Mithraic of Persia, the Adoniac of Syria and the Dyonisian Artificers of Phoenicia. These organizations were similar to the Egyptian Mysteries in most respects, except that in the dramas that they portrayed, local or national characters were used instead of those of the Egyptians.

Through evolutionary processes and the passing of time, the Roman Collegia emerged. These were small local groups, not nation-wide as were the, Mysteries, composed of men engaged in a particular trade, craft, art or profession within a specific community. Plutarch mentions nine collegia, such as goldsmiths, dyers, builders, potters and others. No doubt many others were organized as the need arose. The builders, Collegium Faborum or Collegium Artificum, doubtless included members of a number of separate crafts necessary in the erection of permanent structures. The Collegia:

    (1) acted on petitions for membership;
    (2) received members through initiation;
    (3) had rooms similar to those of various present-day fraternities;
    (4) divided the membership into grades;
    (5) had a common table;
    (6) possessed a charity fund from which they assisted their poor and buried their dead;
    (7) used passwords, grips, tokens and symbols.

Some were quite religious in nature, while others were more socially inclined. Some concentrated on their business activities. Some became politically minded and this, eventually, led to the proscription of the entire collegia system by Emperor Diocletian. However, the Collegia had traveled with the Roman legions in their conquest of most of the then-known world; and in many parts of the Empire the Collegia continued to operate as theretofore.

About the third century, there began a series of incursions of warlike tribes from east of Europe, which finally overran the Roman Empire and destroyed the then-existing civilization. Schools, culture, the fine arts, religion and craftsmanship of all kinds suffered and, to a large extent, disappeared under these onslaughts.

For more than seven hundred years the Dark Ages, as this period is called, continued. Then gradually Europe began to rebuild its civilization. One of the first features of this rebuilding process was the development and training of craftsmen of all kinds. Later, in order to assist in developing the skills of various craftsmen, men in a particular locality, who performed a definite and specific type of work or service, formed organizations called guilds.

There were guilds, which consisted of merchants and tradesmen of various kinds as well as those, which were composed of various types of artisans. It is this latter sort of guild with which we are concerned. Their usual purpose was to regulate the prices and hours of labor, to govern the conduct of their members, collect funds for the relief of the unfortunates among them and especially, to improve the standard of technical skill. Most of the crafts of that period had carefully guarded trade secrets, which members were bound by oath not to reveal to those who did not belong to the guild.

The membership consisted of apprentices, fellows and masters. The apprentices were lads in their teens that were indentured to skilled workmen to be trained in the arts and secrets of the trade.

After a period of years, more commonly seven, if they showed sufficient aptitude and skill in their work and had conducted themselves properly, they were advanced to full membership in the guild and were designated as "fellows." If they later exhibited exceptional ability and skill and possessed administrative ability and qualities of leadership, they became "masters, " which qualified them to superintend the work of other members of the craft or guild.

The guilds were usually organized under the authority of the municipality and were composed of local artisans, most of whom seldom, if ever, went more than a day's journey from home. In the stone building crafts, however, a different condition prevailed. Most of their work consisted of the erection of cathedrals, castles and other more or less public buildings. These were huge structures requiring many years to complete. Local guilds were not equipped in numbers or in skill to perform this type of work. Therefore, the workers in stone, of necessity, became migratory.

The employer, usually the Church or the Crown, would select a Master of the Work who would arrange for the traveling of one or more groups of workmen from a previous job to the site of the new work. There, after making provisions for their homes or barracks, they would construct a workshop, which would be used also for rest, refreshment and relaxation. This building, often a lean-to on the side of the main structure, was called a lodge and the word "Lodge" was also used to designate the body of workmen who used this building.

During these early days, any type of builder was designated as a mason and the craft as a whole was called masonry, which included quarrymen, wallers, hewers, slaters, tilers, rough masons, cutters, plasterers and all others who contributed their share to the erection of the structure upon which they worked.

At the head of the project were those who nowadays would be called architects or engineers. They were often designated as freemasons, although frequently the terms "mason" and "freemason" were used to mean exactly the same thing. These men understood engineering and geometry as the result of long and arduous training. They were proficient in a number of the arts connected with the building trade, such as carving and sculpturing, design and construction, manufacture of stained glass windows, mosaic work and other highly specialized activities.

The origin of the word "freemason" is uncertain. There are a number of theories, such as:

    (1) They worked in free stone, which could be carved, and hence were called "freestone masons," later shortened to "freemasons".
    (2) They were free men, not serfs.
    (3) They were free to move from place to place as they might desire.
    (4) They were given the freedom of the towns or localities in which they worked.
    (5) They were free of the rules and regulations that were usually imposed upon members of guilds.

The migratory character of the masons' activities precluded, to a large extent, they're being members of local guilds. The outstanding exception was the Masons' Company of London founded in 1376 as a regular city guild. A few other cities may have had similar guilds, but presumably, for the most part, control of members of the building industry rested almost exclusively in the lodges, which were established where work was progressing. Some of these existed during the operations and were then abandoned, while other lodges continued after the actual work had ceased.

During the period immediately following the Reformation, the economic situation in England changed. Work on a large scale, such as huge cathedrals and castles, diminished while the building of less pretentious structures increased somewhat. Likewise, the use of the direct-labor system under which the great cathedrals had been reared was gradually supplanted by operations conducted under contract. These altered circumstances had the effect of reducing the membership of lodges and of increasing the number of lodges due to the scattering of masons over more territory. As the years passed many of the small lodges gradually became weaker and inactive, and, by the 1600's, the number of active, more or less permanent lodges, had been greatly reduced.

During the same period, a significant change was taking place in the type of membership in the lodges. During the cathedra I- building era, practically all lodge members were operative masons, engaged in some phase of the construction industry. Beginning about 1600, non-operatives were admitted as members of lodges previously composed entirely of working or trade masons. The earliest of these references to non-operative masons pertains to John Boswell, of the famous Boswell family of Auchinleck, who is recorded as having been present at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary's Chapel, on June 8, 1600. This marked the beginning of a trend, which eventually led to our present Lodges of "Free and Accepted Masons."

The most noteworthy and significant connecting link of a written nature between present-day Freemasonry and the Operative Masonry of some centuries ago is unquestionably what are called "The Old Charges, sometimes named "Gothic Constitutions." These are handwritten manuscripts differing in age, size, shape and material. They all follow a similar pattern in context. About one hundred of these old manuscripts have been found. No two of them are identical, but all obviously came from a common source. A few others have come to light from time to time and, after being printed or copied, were lost.

These ancient Masonic writings vary in age from an estimated 600 years to about two centuries. The oldest, the Regius Poem, dating from about 1390, is a small manuscript book about 5 inches by 4 inches written on vellum and bound in Russian leather. The next oldest, the Cooke Manuscript of the first half of the fifteenth century, is even smaller. On the other hand, the Lansdowne Manuscript, of the sixteenth century, is written on stout sheets of paper 11 inches by 15 inches in size, while the so-called Grand Lodge Manuscript, of about 1583, is a roll of parchment 9 feet long and 5 inches wide.

A number of theories have been advanced concerning the reasons for these Old Charges having been copied. In 1388 the English Parliament enacted "The Writ of Returns" which provided that every organized society, fraternity, guild or club was compelled to submit a written statement indicating its origin, purpose, rules, regulations, names of officers and other pertinent data. It is possible that The Old Charges came into existence as the result of the requirements laid down in this law. It is also quite possible that The Old Charges were the combined constitution, by-laws and ritual of the oldest Masonic operative organizations and continued to be used as such until, and even after, the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. It is known, for example, that two copies, the Alnwich of 1701 and the Thistle of 1756, are included in the minute books of their respective Lodges. Both of these copies were signed by the Lodge Members, thereby signifying their acquiescence to their contents.

The supposition is that The Old Charges were somewhat equivalent to the present-day Book of Constitutions, called the "Ahiman Rezon" in Pennsylvania.
Before the original Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England were compiled in 1723, George Payne, then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, asked that all known copies of The Old Charges be sent in to Grand Lodge. A number of these documents were turned over to Dr. James Anderson and used by him, in part at least, as a model for the Constitutions of 1723. It is assumed that each Lodge of operative Masons had a copy of The Old Charges and that it was used as a book of rules and as a ritual.

The oldest of The Old Charges, the Regius Poem mentioned above, is different from all the others in that it is written in a sort of rude verse or doggerel. It probably had a common ancestor with the other copies that are extant. It is quite possible that in making a copy five or six centuries ago, some poetically- inclined monk used his talents in transcribing the thoughts in rhyme rather than in the prose of the original. The Regius version has less of the traditional or legendary background of Masonry than the others, and refers to a somewhat greater extent to trade usages and customs. It also includes some rules of etiquette and conduct with the usual Masonic injunctions.

Except for the Regius Poem, all the Gothic Constitutions follow an almost identical pattern. The minor differences are probably the result of errors in copying or occasionally an intentional change which the copyist felt would improve the document. By means of these changes, whether due to carelessness, ignorance, whim or deliberate design, all known copies of The Old Charges, about 100 in number, have been classified to show the process by which they have reached their present form from an unknown original.

Of the approximately 100 existing copies of The Old Charges only three are located in the United States. Two are in Boston and one in Philadelphia. The latter is the so-called Carmick Manuscript of 1727 and is owned by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

Originally, this manuscript was thought to be the Constitution of St. John's Lodge of Philadelphia, the earliest known Lodge in America of which any records are extant. It was published as such, but the manuscript could have been used for any St. John's Lodge of which there were many in the early days of the Fraternity. The identity of Thomas Carmick is unknown and there is nothing to associate him with Philadelphia or Pennsylvania.

The Carmick Manuscript is typical of all of "The Old Charges, " and since it is the prized possession of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania it will be outlined to indicate the contents of all of these interesting old manuscripts.

The Carmick Manuscript, in common with the others, starts with a Trinitarian invocation as follows: "Draw near unto me, ye unlearned and dwell in the house of Learning and the Almighty God of heaven, with wisdom of his Glorious Son through The Grace and goodness of the Holly Ghost, that be Three Persons and one God, be with us at our Beginning and he Will Give us Grace here hopeing wee may Come to his Etternal Kingdom that shall never have an End: Amen."

The imaginary history begins by citing and defining the seven liberal sciences - Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy - with the statement that all are founded upon Geometry. Lamech's four children are then named Jabal, Jubal, Tubal Cain and Namah, who first developed all crafts and sciences.

It was believed that the world would be swept by fire or flood. Hence to preserve all knowledge for future generations it was written on two pillars, one which could not burn, the other which would not be damaged by water. Hermes discovered one of these pillars after the flood.

The first Craft of Masonry was founded at the building of the Tower of Babylon. Then through the teaching of Euclid, knowledge of Geometry (Masonry) came to the Egyptians and afterwards to Judea where Solomon built his Temple with aid of the Tyrians. Each of these leaders gave Masons a charge indicating that they must be loyal and faithful, loving and true.

Eventually, Masonry came to France under Charles Martel, thence to England through St. Alban. Later King Athelstan became the patron of Masonry and granted a charter to Prince Edwin with a commission to hold an assembly of Masons once a year, the first being convened at York in 926.

Prince Edwin ordered all the charges of his predecessors to be brought together and examined. Prince Edwin then confirmed the previous charges and ordered that a book be made which would tell how the sciences were found, and in which all the charges would be recorded. It was ordained that, at the making of a Mason, the book should be read to him. He would then take an oath with his hand on the book, promising to comply with the charges and never divulge any of the secrets entrusted to him.

The following is a summary of The Old Charges with the wording and spelling changed to comply with modern practice:

  1. You shall be true to man, to God and to Holy Church, and to countenance no heresy in the Church.

  2. You shall be true to the King.

  3. You shall be true to every Mason and you shall do unto them as you would they should do unto you.

  4. You shall call Masons brothers.

  5. You shall not take your brother's wife in villainy.

  6. You shall not take in hand anything to do your fellow harm.

  7. You shall not for any allowance, reward or other consideration of yourself, or any fewer number than seven (which number is termed a lodge) admit any person to be made Freemason; he must be free born, of good kindred, no bondman, "and his limbs as a man ought to have. "

  8. Strange Freemasons are to be received, cherished and relieved and set to work.

  9. You shall not make a mould or square for one who hath not served his apprenticeship.

  10. Quarrels are to be referred to the judgment and directions of the assembly and if they cannot decide, then you are to obtain leave from the assembly that the law may decide "and not put the brotherhood between them."

  11. You are not to absent yourself from the assembly if it be within fifty miles, excepting sickness or disability of body.

  12. You shall at all times disburse charity to the relief of the sick, if you are able.

  13. You shall not profane the holy name of God.

  14. You shall not give evil counsel to another.

  15. You shall not abuse another.

  16. You shall not be a whoremonger.

  17. You shall not be a common player at cards, or dice, or any unlawful game.

  18. No Mason shall go into any town where there is a lodge of Masons unless there be a fellow with him.

  19. Every member shall reverence his elder and tutor. He shall not take a Lord's work unless he knows himself to be of sufficient skill to perform it.

  20. He shall not take any work in hand but at a rate that he may afford to do justice to the person he works for and to pay his fellows their wages as the manner and custom is.

  21. No Master or Fellow shall supplant another in his work.

  22. He that is Master of the work shall be called Master.

  23. No Mason shall take an apprentice unless he has sufficient work to employ him.

  24. Every Mason shall be ready to give pay to his fellows as he or they shall deserve.

  25. No Mason shall take an apprentice to serve any less than seven years.

  26. Every man shall be true to the Lord they serve to his best profit and advantage.

  27. No Mason shall be a thief.

  28. No Mason shall do any villainy in the place where he lodgeth, but he shall pay for his meat, drink and all his charges.

  29. Every Mason shall truly make and mend his work, be it task work or journey work, if he hath what he covenants for.

Then follows the "Apprentice's Charge" which is quite similar in its obligations to the terms of indenture used in the early days, whereby persons were bound to learn -any trade or occupation. The Apprentice's Charge does not appear in the majority of The Old Charges.

As in all the other manuscripts, the Carmick Manuscript closes with an admonition to keep the charges prescribed by Prince Edwin, ending with a quotation from Corinthians 1:10. To this Thomas Carmick added: "Whatsomever Meason or fellow Craft that shall meet with this books I Charge him upon the tenor of his Oath to take great Care of it and Retturn it to me."

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We have no definite knowledge as to when the custom of admitting non-operatives to membership in a lodge of Masons was started. The earliest existing record of a non-operative Member is a reference to the presence of the Laird of Auchinleck at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary's Chapel, on June 8, 1600. Others were to follow with the passage of years. Most of these apparently occurred in Scotland. However, this theory may have come about because more records of Scottish Lodges existed than of those in England during the seventeenth century. In the minutes of at least five lodges in Scotland during the period 1650 to 1675, there are references to non-operative membership.

The first actual record in England of an Accepted or Speculative Mason, as non-operatives are usually called. is found in the diary of Elias Ashmole, under date of October 16, 1646, when he and Colonel Mainwaring became members of an operative Lodge held at Warrington in Lancashire. Some years later, on March 11, 1682, he attended a Lodge in Freemasons' Hall in London and witnessed the initiation of a very warm friend and five other gentlemen. In addition, there were present the Master of the Masons' Company of London and a number of those who were currently active and prominent in that organization. This fact lends credence to the supposition that in the Masons' Company was an inner circle who comprised what was probably a Speculative Lodge.

It is likely that by the beginning of the eighteenth century, just prior to the rise of Speculative Freemasonry, there were only about a score or two of active Lodges in England and probably no more than double that number in Scotland. It seems obvious that most of those Lodges, of which reliable records are available, had been admitting non-operatives to membership for quite a number of years. For example, the bylaws of the Lodge of Aberdeen  (Scotland) in 1670 were signed by 49 members, citing the occupation and rank of each. Of these, just 12 were trade(operative) masons. The others were: noblemen or gentlemen - 5, merchants - 9, wrights - 4, ministers - 3, slaters - 3, wig-makers - 2, surgeons - 2, glaziers - 2, together with a smith, an armorer, a book-maker, an attorney, a tutor, a professor and a collector of customs.

The transition from operative to non-operative was irregular in its pattern. Some Lodges changed rapidly, others slowly if at all. The principal and most important event in this transition period was the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England on St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1717.

At that time there were at least four Lodges located in or near London designated by their places of meeting as follows:

    1. the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St. Paul's Church-yard;
    2. the Crown Ale House in Parker's Lane near Drury Lane;
    3. the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden;
    4. the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.

Three of them are still in existence:

    1. Became Antiquity Lodge No. 2;
    2. Became Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No. 12 (its number being higher because of a reorganization);
    3. Not in existence.
    4. Became Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No. 4.

There is no contemporary record of the founding of this premier Grand Lodge in the world. Dr. James Anderson gives the principal account in the second edition of his "Constitutions" published in 1738. According to this account, representatives of the four Lodges previously enumerated, with some "Old Brothers, " presumably former members of Lodges no longer active, met at the Apple-Tree Tavern early in 1717. There, they decided to form a Grand Lodge and "revive" the Quarterly Communication and the Annual Assembly and Feast.

On June 24 of that year they met again, this time at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House. At that time, they established the Grand Lodge of England and elected Anthony Sayer, Gentleman, as Grand Master, with Captain Joseph Elliot and Jacob Lamball, Carpenter, as Grand Wardens. Anthony Sayer was followed as Grand Master by George Payne (1718), Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers (1719) and George Payne again in 1720. Then in 1721 the first of the succession of noblemen, the Duke of Montagu, assumed that office.

The original intention was to restrict the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge to London and Westminster, then an area of not more than three square miles. Of the four Lodges, apparently the one meeting at the Rummer and Grapes in Westminster had the most influential membership, being composed principally of Accepted and Speculative Masons.

There is no known record indicating when the Grand Lodge began to add new Lodges. The consensus seems to be that there was a lull for several years immediately after the formation. Likewise, it is uncertain whether the Lodges which joined the Grand Lodge in the first ten years were Lodges which were already in existence and active, or were those that had been dormant and were revitalized, or were established with the purpose of joining in the movement. Probably all three sources were involved. In any event it is interesting and significant to note that 12 Lodges were represented in 1721, with 25 on the list two years later when Dr. Anderson's first "Book of Constitutions" was approved for printing. In 1725 the records show a total of 64 Lodges, of which 50 were in London and five or six others adjacent thereto, with only four at a distance of more than 100 miles.

The "Book of Constitutions" printed in 1723 with a second edition in 1738, both compiled by Dr. Anderson, contained a very fanciful history, if it can be called that, together with the Charges and General Regulations. The history purported to trace Masonry from Adam through Noah, Moses, Solomon, Roman and early English sources to more recent kings of England and Scotland. Much of this is borrowed from The Old Charges. For many years historians accepted this account at face value and Masons generally believed it to be true.

The Charges were prefaced by the injunction that they be read at the admission of a new Brother, although it required several hours to do so. They contain rules of conduct and are divided as follows:

"I. Of God and Religion;

II. Of the Civil Magistrate Supreme and Subordinate;

III. Of Lodges;

IV. Of Masters, Wardens, Fellows and Apprentices;

V. Of the Management of the Craft in Working;

VI. Of Behavior

      1. in the Lodge while constituted;
      2. after the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone;
      3. when the Brethren meet without Strangers; but not in a Lodge formed;
      4. in the presence of Strangers not Masons;
      5. at Home and in your Neighborhood;
      6. towards a strange Brother."

The General Regulations cite the organization of Freemasonry in its various component parts, name the officers, indicate their duties, prescribe the method of operation and designate rules for the conduct of meetings. The manner of constituting a new Lodge is also included, together with a number of Masonic songs.

Although the original concept of the Grand Lodge was a limited geographical jurisdiction, its authority quickly became generally recognized throughout all England. This resulted in a number of noteworthy changes in the structure, philosophy and character, of Freemasonry.

The major alterations were:

    1. The Old Charges were revised to provide for the transition from operative to speculative Masonry.
    2. The Craft was systematized into a more or less unified body with regular meetings and definite rules under which to operate.
    3. Membership was opened to men of all trades, professions and callings, with no preference or precedence to those associated with the building industry.
    4. The "time immemorial" method of creating new Lodges was abandoned and Grand Lodge through its Grand Master retained authority in this.
    5. Agreement was reached that the Grand Master should be a member of the nobility.
    6. The Christian character of the fraternity was eliminated, and monotheism was adopted as the dominating fundamental in religious matters.
    7. The ritual was improved and expanded.

Much uncertainty exists concerning the ritual. In operative Masonry, it probably consisted of an obligation, the reading of the charges, and the explanation of certain grips and passwords.

At first, the terms Apprentice, Fellow and Master represented gradations or rank, rather than separate degrees. Later, it appears that different ceremonies were used for the Apprentices and the Fellows, and that this system was in vogue when the Grand Lodge of England was formed.

Within the next few years, the third degree was added to the ritualistic work. Its substance probably had been known previously to the fraternity as one of its subsidiary legends and then was included as an additional degree.

The establishment of the Grand Lodge of England was followed in due time by a Grand Lodge in the Province of Munster in Ireland in 1725, the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1730, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1731 and the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736.

In 1751 a new Grand Lodge was formed in England under the name of Grand Lodge of England "according to the Old Institutions." This new Grand Lodge was established by six Lodges composed of Irish Masons, less than one hundred in number, who had not affiliated with the original Grand Lodge of England. The members of the 1751 organization called themselves Antient York Masons. The name, "York Masons, " referred to the tradition relating to the supposed Grand Assembly of Masons at York in the year 926. The word "Antient" was intended to substantiate the claim that their ritual alone preserved the ancient customs and usages of the Craft. The members of the, Priginal Grand Lodge of England, constituted in 1717, were termed "Modern 'Masons" by these self-styled Antients. These terms "Moderns" and "Antients" persisted and came into common use.

The Antients were better propagandists and were more interested in promotional activities, having as their Grand Secretary, Lawrence Dermott, to whose zeal, resourcefulness and brilliance much of the success of the Antients was due. He was the author of the Book of Constitutions for his Grand Lodge modeled somewhat after that of the Moderns, which he called "Ahiman Rezon", the ancestor of the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Under his active leadership, the Antient Grand Lodge grew in strength and importance, was recognized by, and established relationship with, the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, started Lodges in many countries and military organizations, and in some places eclipsed the premier (Moderns) Grand Lodge.

For a number of years following formation of the Antient Grand Lodge, considerable bitterness and animosity were exhibited on both sides as the two Grand Lodges moved forward in parallel but by no means harmonious pathways. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, most Members of both organizations deplored the disunity of English Masonry, saw the desirability of harmony in the order, and began to work toward that end.

In 1809 the Grand Lodge of the Moderns rescinded its rule forbidding the admission of Antient Masons in Modem Lodges. In the following year the Antients made similar concessions and committees were appointed to devise ways and means of effecting a complete reconciliation. Shortly afterwards, the Duke of Atholl resigned as Grand Master of the Antients and was succeeded by the Duke of Kent, whose brother, the Duke of Sussex, was then Grand Master of the Moderns; both of these men were sons of King George the Third.

The final ratification of the union of the two bodies took place on December 27, 1813 at Freemasons' Hall in London. The two Grand Lodges met in adjoining rooms and, after having opened in accordance with their own rites and ceremonies, marched into the main hall, headed by their respective Grand Masters. The procession composed of the two Grand Lodges marching side by side moved toward the East where the Grand Masters took seats on each side of the Throne. After prayer the Act of Union was read, proclaiming the establishment of "The United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England. " A so-called Lodge of Reconciliation had devised a system of forms, rites and ceremonies. These were adopted as the universal system for the United Grand Lodge and were pronounced true and correct. The Duke of Kent then placed his brother in nomination for Grand Master of the newly formed United Grand Lodge. The Duke of Sussex was unanimously elected.

In the Articles of Union, both sides made concessions, involving the sacrifice of some of the various points of ritualism and procedure, which for more than three-quarters of a century they had so strenuously upheld. Thus it was that peace and harmony once more prevailed in English Masonry.

One of the provisions of the Articles of Union stated that the first Lodges under each Grand Lodge would draw lots for priority of numbers, the loser to become No. 2, and all other Lodges to be numbered alternately. Luck was with the Antients and their Grand Master's Lodge took precedence. The Lodge of Antiquity of the Moderns, founded prior to the so-called "Rivival" of 1717, was assigned No. 2 in spite of its much greater age. The second Lodge of the Antients, Fidelity, became No. 3, and the next Modern Lodge, now called Royal Somerset House and Inverness, originally meeting at the Rummer and Grapes Tavern when the premier Grand Lodge was formed, was designated No. 4.

The Lodge of Reconciliation was organized to consummate the Union of the two Grand Lodges. It continued its work until 1816, revising the rituals and supervising the instruction of those who would take the prescribed work to the individual Lodges. It is generally supposed that the final ritual favored the system of the Antients to a considerable extent. This is uncertain, however, because no notes were taken. There was also some difference of opinion among the participants as to exactly what decisions were reached upon certain points of disagreement.

As a result there are, in the Grand Lodge of England, a number of workings, all of which are considered as acceptable and correct, two in particular receiving wide-spread approval:

    1. That of the Stability Lodge of Instruction founded in 1817.
    2. That of Emulation Lodge of Improvement established in 1823 .

Other popular rituals bear such names as West End, Oxford, Logic. The Grand Lodge of England insists on strict adherence to certain essentials and fundamentals, but it permits minor variations with respect to details.

The conflict between the Moderns and Antients in England had its counterpart in America. Likewise the Union of 1813 affected materially the Grand Lodges of the United States. In Pennsylvania, however, the conflict was almost non-existent after the Revolution, as here Modern Lodges had practically ceased to exist and the Antients were in complete control.

There seems to be no good reason to believe that there were Masons among the first Quakers who settled in what is now the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, nor among the pioneers who preceded them. However, it was likely that not long thereafter, English, Irish and Scottish Masons began to arrive. Doubtless they made themselves known to each other and set up Lodges under what was termed the "time immemorial usage."

In those early days of the Fraternity, there were no lawfully warranted and duly constituted Lodges established in the American colonies under the authority of a Grand Lodge. The old customs and regulations of operative Masonry prevailed. They provided that a given number of Masons might assemble, open a Lodge, and practice the rites of Freemasonry. The required number is somewhat uncertain. Some of the old manuscripts specify five, others six, while at least one says seven or six with the knowledge and consent of a seventh. In any event, it is safe to say that Masonic meetings of this type were held in Philadelphia during the early part of the eighteenth century, just about the time the so-called "Revival" in England in 1717 led to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England. In fact, in 1715, John Moore, Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, wrote that he had "spent a few evenings of Masonic festivity with my Masonic brethren."

For some years, the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England had little effect upon the craftsmen residing in the Western Hemisphere. On June 5, 1730, however, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, the Duke of Norfolk, deputized Colonel Daniel Coxe of New Jersey as Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the two-year period beginning on June 24, 1730. Colonel Coxe was living at his home in Trenton during much of this period.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania Masons had not been inactive. In the issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette dated December 8, 1730, its editor, Ben jamin Franklin, not then a Mason, refers to "several Lodges of Free-Masons" having been "Erected in this Province. " The only record we now have of a Lodge in Philadelphia at that time is the account book of St. John's Lodge for the period 1731 to 1738.  This record is known as "Liber B" and is in the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

This record indicates that, as of June 24, 1731, there was a Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania with William Allen as Grand Master and William Pringle as Deputy. Since no other member-Lodge is mentioned, it seems likely that St. John's Lodge may have merely superimposed a Grand Lodge upon its own organizational structure and that the same officers served both bodies. This is very similar to the process by which the Grand Lodge of Munster, later called the Grand Lodge of Ireland, came into being in 1725.

On June 24, 1734, Benjamin Franklin became Grand Master of Penn sylvania. Prior to that time, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England had, under date of April 30, 1733, appointed Henry Price of Boston as Provincial Grand Master of New England "and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging. " Then in August of the following year, his deputation and powers were extended over all America.

The amendment of the original deputation evidently caused the Pennsylvania Brethren to feel that possibly their Grand Lodge lacked the authority which it formerly possessed, and that they should have a charter granted by Brother Price by virtue of his commission from Britain. A suggestion to that effect was made by Brother Franklin to Provincial Grand Master Price. Apparently, no action resulted from this letter and the Grand Master of Pennsylvania continued to operate as theretofore.

In 1742, Thomas Oxnard of Massachusetts was appointed as Grand Master for North America by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. From him, Franklin secured an appointment dated July 10, 1749 as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania, in spite of the fact that his former benefactor and sponsor, William Allen, had again been acting as the head of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for several years.

Many of the members assumed that Franklin's appointment superseded the old self-constituted Grand Lodge. However, when an appeal was made directly to the Grand Master of London, William Allen was appointed Provincial Grand Master and assumed that office at a meeting of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on March 13, 1750. This marked the end of the independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and its inception as a Provincial Grand Lodge affiliated with and deriving its authority from the Grand Lodge of England. At that time Benjamin Franklin resumed his former position as Deputy Grand Master.

Shortly afterwards the project of building a Lodge Hall in Philadelphia was undertaken. In 1755 Freemasons' Hall was erected on the south side of Norris (or Lodge) Alley, which extends west from Second Street and is parallel to and north of Walnut Street. This was the first Masonic Hall on the Western Continent. In the meantime two other Lodges had been established in Philadelphia (Nos. 2 and 3), both having begun their labors prior to 1759, although the exact dates are unknown.

The three Lodges in Philadelphia, St. John's, No. 2 and No. 3, were, of course, affiliated with the premier or original Grand Lodge of England, commonly called the Moderns. A fourth Lodge, the last we know to be established by the Moderns, was warranted by Grand Master Allen in June 1757, meeting in the tavern of Jeremiah Smith instead of assembling in Freemasons' Hall as did the other three Lodges. Soon afterwards the rumor spread in Masonic circles that this newly formed Lodge was working in the Antient way rather than the Modern. On September 13, 1757, members from the older Lodges attended a meeting of Lodge No. 4 and ascertained that the ritualistic work was indeed that of the Antients. The matter was reported to Grand Lodge and the officers of Lodge No. 4 were summoned to appear before representatives of that body. At that meeting, they freely admitted that they were Antient Masons and refused to consider a change in their manner of working. Their Warrant was immediately withdrawn, but the Lodge continued in operation even though it was without a Warrant.

To remedy the absence of a Warrant, Lodge No. 4 petitioned the Grand Lodge of the Antients in London and, under date of June 7, 1758, was warranted as Lodge No. 1 of Pennsylvania and No. 69 of England. A short time later, however, the Lodge assumed the number "2" leaving No. 1 for the Grand Lodge which was soon to be established. This formed the nucleus from which our present organization has directly evolved. Lodge No. 2 is still in existence.

Whereas the original Grand Lodge of Moderns in Pennsylvania had been ultra- conservative and relatively inactive, the new Grand Lodge of the Antients, under William Ball as Grand Master, was progressive and quite alert to its opportunities of disseminating Masonic light and knowledge. During its entire career, the Modern Grand Lodge never had more than four constituent Lodges at any one time. On the other hand, from the date of its establishment up to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Antients granted Warrants to sixteen Lodges. Three were in Philadelphia, four elsewhere in Pennsylvania, five in Maryland, one in New Jersey, two in Delaware and one in Virginia.

During the Revolution, twenty-seven other Lodges were warranted. Of these, nine were in Pennsylvania (one of them in Philadelphia), two in New Jersey, three in Maryland, two in South Carolina, one in Virginia, two in Delaware, one English Army Lodge and seven American Army Lodges.

Throughout its early history the Grand Lodge (Antients) granted Warrants for Lodges in other states and countries in which no Grand Lodges had been formed. For this reason we find in the name of our Grand Lodge not only the word "Pennsylvania" but also the additional expression, "and Masonic jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging. " The last Warrant for a Lodge outside the boundaries of the Commonwealth was granted on February 6, 1832 to a Lodge located at Montevideo, Uruguay. Prior to that date, of the 224 Warrants issued, 68 were for Lodges outside of Pennsylvania, including nine in a Provincial Grand Lodge of San Domingo.

As, previously noted, there was great rivalry and considerable friction between Antients and Moderns in Pennsylvania, as was the case nearly everywhere else. This was intensified by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. In this State, the Modern Lodges, to a considerable degree, were composed of ultra- conservatives who were inclined to be Loyalists. A large majority of the Members of the Antients, however, espoused the cause of Independence.

By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Modern Lodges had practically disintegrated with the result that in 1813 and thereafter when, in jurisdictions throughout the world, Moderns and Antients were being reconciled and united, that was unnecessary here in Pennsylvania where the Antients reigned supreme. Hence, the ritualistic changes and compromises resulting from the Reconciliation of 1813 did not affect the work in this State, and Pennsylvania Masons continued to work in the pure Antient way.

After the termination of the Revolution and the advent of peace, the spirit of independence was in the air. Not only, political and economic independence, but fraternal as well. At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, held on September 25, 1786, a resolution was unanimously adopted to the effect that the. Grand Lodge ought to be independent of the Grand Lodge of England. The minutes end with the notation: "This Lodge acting by virtue of a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England was closed forever."

On the following day, the representatives of the various Lodges reconvened and established the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on an entirely independent basis with the election, as Grand Master, of William Adcock who had been Provincial Grand Master. Of the Lodges affiliated with the Grand Lodge on that momentous occasion, nine (Nos. 2, 3, 9, 19, 21, 22, 25, 43 and 45) are still in existence within the jurisdiction. The declaration of Pennsylvania's independence was accepted in a very gracious and fraternal manner by the Antient Grand Lodge of England, and the subsequent relationship between the two coordinate Grand Lodges has always been most friendly and cordial.

Here is a recapitulation of the history of Grand Lodges having jurisdiction over Pennsylvania:

    1. the independent Grand Lodge of 1731 with William Allen as Grand Master.
    2. The Grand Lodge headed by Benjamin Franklin, established by authority of Provincial Grand Master Oxnard in 1749.
    3. The Provincial Grand Lodge of 1750 with William Allen again as Grand Master, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge (Modern) of England.
    4. The Provincial Grand Lodge warranted in 1761 by the Antient Grand Lodge of England with William Ball as Grand Master.
    5. The independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, our present Grand Lodge, established on September 26, 1786.

For forty years Freemasonry in Pennsylvania made steady progress in numbers, in influence for good, in benevolence and in the esteem of its contemporaries. This advance came to a sudden end in the so-called "Morgan Incident, " that led to the Anti-Masonic agitation during which the opponents of Freemasonry used every means available in their attempt to wreck the Fraternity. This antagonism toward the Fraternity was particularly vicious in the northeastern states, and its detrimental effects were not completely overcome in some localities for a period of fifteen to twenty years.

The principal personage in this tragedy was William Morgan. The scene was Batavia in western New York; the year 1825. Morgan claimed to be a Mason, having either joined a Lodge or otherwise obtained considerable Masonic information while employed in Canada. He was a worthless sort of fellow and reputed to have been drunk much of the time. He became highly incensed when he was not permitted to become a charter member of a new Royal Arch Chapter being formed at Batavia in 1826. Because of his anger and his need of money, he agreed to furnish a local printer all the information necessary for the publication of an expose of Freemasonry.

When news of this enterprise became known, the Masons of the community were greatly excited and much perturbed. Morgan became concerned by the threats made against him, and finally agreed to accept a farm in Canada and never return to the United States. After accepting money in lieu of a farm, Morgan disappeared. The printer, Miller, and his friends claimed that Morgan had been kidnapped and murdered by the Masons in order to prevent the betrayal of their secrets. Many fantastic stories gained circulation and a storm of protest arose. When at length the Masons wanted to produce Morgan in order to calm the uproar he was nowhere to be found. The incident was propagandized far and wide and became commonly known as "The Morgan Affair." The outcry against Freemasonry became nationwide and was brought into politics, the churches and practically all kinds of businesses, until Masons were being harassed in every way possible.

In Pennsylvania, the crest of the storm came in 1835 when Joseph Ritner, a prominent Cumberland County Anti-Mason, was elected as, Governor of the Commonwealth on an Anti-Masonic ticket. Under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, an investigation into Freemasonry and other so-called secret societies was started. Members such as George M. Dallas, afterwards Vice-President, former Governor George Wolf, Francis R. Shunk, later Governor, and numerous other men of unquestioned character and patriotism defended the Fraternity vigorously and energetically. After a time the excitement and passions subsided and then disappeared.

This sad affair took a heavy toll and by 1845, when the storm was practically over the number of Lodges in Pennsylvania had been reduced to 45, with less than 2, 000 Members in good standing. Those who were left were tried and true, and had proven their loyalty and their zeal. With such Brothers as a nucleus, the Fraternity has progressed to the present day.

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A widely quoted definition of Freemasonry states that it is a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

The dictionary defines "system" as an assembly of objects united by regular interaction or interdependence, in accordance with some definite method or plan. This conforms to the scheme of Freemasonry for it certainly partakes of the nature of the definition, being orderly in its composition and not merely a heterogeneous collection of maxims, tenets and commandments. One of the foremost characteristics of our Fraternity is that it has a constant and consistent theme running through it from beginning to end, by means of which it can be logically and reasonably explained.

Freemasonry is a system of morality ---- morality used in its broadest sense to portray right and proper conduct in the relationship of man to God and of man to man.

Freemasonry is veiled in allegory. It is the representation of a figurative story of something suggested, but not expressly stated. And Freemasonry is illustrated by symbols. It uses emblems and signs denoting an idea, quality or object with an underlying meaning relating to, but different from, the symbol itself.

We know that there are many symbols in Freemasonry as practiced today, but, for the most part, we are not sure how or when they were placed there. Many of them were employed for the communication of ideas since the dawn of authentic history. A close study of the secret societies of the past, especially the so-called Ancient Mysteries, reveals the use of numerous symbols, which today form a part of the ritualistic work of Freemasonry. The doctrines of these Mysteries, whether they dealt with resurrection, eternal truths or speculative surmises and ideas, were impressed upon their initiates by sign s, numerals and figures of speech. Today in  Freemasonry a comparable procedure exists.

The symbolism of this great Order is of two kinds, the apparent and the hidden. The former comprises the use of the tools and terms of the Operative Mason for speculative purposes. This is most beautifully and impressively described in our ritualistic work. However, it is in the hidden or esoteric symbolism that the real underlying purpose of the Craft is so wonderfully revealed.

The one fundamental idea sought to be inculcated by the several "Blue Lodge Degrees" considered collectively as a system, is to give a representation of human existence and to portray the beginning, the struggles, the progress of humanity, individually and as a race.

The Lodge Room itself is symbolical of the world in which we live. Its shape is one of those things, which have come down to us from the past. In the days of the Ancient Mysteries, the entire known world was the land adjacent to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This was roughly in the shape of a rectangle or, as it is sometimes called, an "oblong square, with its greatest dimension extending east and west.

In a symbolic sense, the initiate in Freemasonry may be likened to a human embryo about to be born into a new world. The preparation of the candidate and the circumstances in connection with his admittance into the Lodge Room, that is, the world, may well be compared with the condition of a newly-born babe, who has little or no power over his actions, knows nothing of the new life he is entering, and who therefore must necessarily depend upon others for guidance and direction. Likewise, a candidate for Freemasonry must rely upon others with implicit and unquestioning obedience, for without that guidance he cannot advance in those ritualistic ceremonies, which depict the journey of life.

Almost at the beginning of this Masonic journey, the candidate is impressed with the fact that he must have a faith in a Supreme Being, the Great Architect of the Universe, without whose protection man must inevitably fail in the quest for Divine Truth. This symbolically represents the religious training to which every child is entitled.

Then the candidate traverses that road over which all Freemasons have passed, meeting with obstacles here and there. He is symbolizing the journey of each of us through the early stages of childhood, encountering difficulties that can be surmounted only through the aid of a friend. This is symbolic not only of parents, teachers and elders who lend their assistance at such times, but, in a large sense, of an all-wise and all-loving Creator with power to help us in all the troubles that beset us.

On the floor of the Lodge near the center stands the Altar as it did in most ancient temples. In many Lodge Rooms, in other Jurisdictions, the floor about the Altar and to the East is made of tiling to distinguish it from the rest of the flooring. In King Solomon's Temple the space between the Altar and the Holy of Holies was forbidden to all except the High Priest. As the Altar stands in the center of the Masonic Lodge, so does it symbolize that intangible but potent force, that spark of Divinity, which must operate at the center of Masonic life--and of all life, if it is to be worthwhile.

As in most organizations and at the beginning of many enterprises and undertakings, there is an obligation--literally a "binding to." Here in Masonry, it is symbolic of those many and manifold ties and obligations which everywhere and always bind men together, but particularly those which bind men to their Creator.

Soon there comes to the candidate an awareness of his real objective, accompanied by the so-called "shock of enlightenment" or "battery of acclamation," purported to be an imitation of feigned thunder in one of the Ancient Mysteries. As from time immemorial, light has signified knowledge, so in this journey of life as represented by the candidate's Masonic progress, light becomes symbolic of the mental and spiritual enlightenment which comes to the child as his mind, conscience and power of understanding are developed and quickened.

The symbolic significance of the Holy Bible, the square and the compasses is to remind us of man's duty to himself, his neighbor and his God. The Holy Bible is one of the great lights in Freemasonry. In our ritualistic work it is a symbol representing the Divine Will in all its forms. Its purpose is to emphasize the important place and the ever-present effect and influence which the Word of God has in the life of humans and the dependence of all mankind upon the will of the Supreme Architect of the Universe.

Inasmuch as Freemasonry is basically monotheistic it should be noted that, whereas we normally use the Bible as our Volume of the Sacred Law, in certain countries the Talmud of the Hebrew, the Koran of the Mohammedan or the Veda of the Hindu could, with equal propriety, be placed upon the Altar.

Consideration is given to symbols representing the sun, the moon and the Worshipful Master. From the first two of these, operative Masons of old obtained all of the natural light by which they fashioned those great cathedrals whose beauty and symmetry excite our sense of wonder and delight. But all the skill of those operative Masons would speedily have vanished, had not the Masters of the Work communicated to apprentices, from generation to generation, that mental illumination which kept alive the knowledge of architectural technique through the centuries. For the true significance of these symbols, we need only substitute in this analogy the idea of the creation of a house not made by hands, instead of the wondrous cathedrals of timber and stone, and an illumination that is spiritual in place of that which is merely physical or mental.

The symbol of restraint, that typified those various external checks and prohibitions to which the child must submit, is laid aside. This means that, with the attainment of light, which represents the accumulation of knowledge and the development of intelligence, certain restraints are no longer necessary. Hence the youth is now given more liberty and a fuller measure of self-control and responsibility.

In most ancient temples, special significance was attached to the East, that mystical realm of the Orient, which has long been deemed the region of knowledge and enlightenment. This belief presumably resulted from the fact that it is in the East that the great orb of light and life first makes its appearance after the darkness of night. All Masons, representing mankind in the pathway of life, approach the East, source of spiritual light, to gain further knowledge that may be of value and aid in the search for Divine Truth, the real objective of human existence.

With advancement to the point of being entitled to wear the Masonic Apron, should come a realization of its true meaning. It is a symbol of honorable able and conscientious labor devoted to creating and constructing the work of the hand and the brain. But, of greater import, it is symbolic of the labor of the soul; arduous, ceaseless, resistless as mankind struggles forward and upward in its quest for the highest and best in life.

The twenty-four inch gauge was an important tool for ancient builders to divide their work into proper sizes so that each section would properly fit into the whole structure. Likewise we must measure the time of our lives so that the necessary things will properly fill their respective places in order to obtain the highest- objectives.

The common gavel is an appropriate tool for the Entered Apprentice, since it was used only in the preliminary shaping of stones and was not adapted to giving finish or polish. It represents that initial or preliminary training, mental and moral, by means of which the character of the child is properly shaped and developed in its course toward man's estate--that progress of which the First Degree in Freemasonry is truly symbolic.

From ancient times it has been customary to lay, with appropriate ceremony, the cornerstones of many important edifices. Always in the days of old, and now, wherever practicable, this stone is found at the northeast corner of the building. The seating of the candidate in the Northeast, at the termination of the Degree, symbolically marks the completion of the foundation upon which the remainder of the building will be placed. It is the end of childhood and youth upon which will be erected a life of usefulness and beauty.

This then is the underlying idea or plan by which the so-called hidden symbolism of Freemasonry may be partially explained. It attempts to portray the various steps by which each and every member of the human race journeys along the pathway of life.

The symbolism of our Fraternity may be considered as somewhat dual, or two-fold, in nature. It not only represents the course of the individual life, but in a larger sense, the progress of humanity itself. If instead of considering the candidate as an individual, we think of him as symbolic of mankind as a whole, we can readily follow the various steps or stages:

(1) the birth of the human race;
(2) its struggles in the darkness of ignorance;
(3) the recognition of the existence of a Supreme Power;
(4) the painful efforts to emerge from barbarism;
(5) the dawn of light;
(6) the beginning of civilization; and
(7) the slow accumulation of culture and knowledge.

While our symbolism is of two kinds, the apparent and the hidden, it is in the hidden or esoteric symbolism that the primary purpose of the ceremonies of the Craft is revealed. The great, vital, underlying idea inculcated collectively by the several symbolic degrees is to give a representation of human existence, to portray the beginning, the struggles, and the progress of humanity individually and as a race.

As has been explained, initiation is employed as a symbol of birth, and the Entered Apprentice Mason's Degree represents not only birth but also youth and the preparatory or formative stage of life. Following this preparation, the Fellowcraft Mason's Degree is the constructive period of manhood and the prime of life. The reflective phase, including old age, death, resurrection and life eternal, is symbolized by the Third Degree.

The Second Degree is intended to portray the advance from youth to man's estate and the assumption of the duties and responsibilities of maturity.

The square and compasses are important symbols to which we are introduced. From time immemorial, the square has been a symbol of the earth and hence of earthly things, while the compasses, used in describing arcs, has been suggestive of the sky of heaven and of things divine. Therefore, the relative position of these Great Lights in Freemasonry portrays an advance in man, an attainment of knowledge and the cultivation of the mind. The plumb, the level and the square are working tools of an operative Mason and important symbols in Speculative Masonry. They have a deep meaning when considered in connection with our hidden symbolism representing the improvement of. Man as he journeys through life.

The plumb symbolizes the ideal, which suggests that we should strive to excel in all worthwhile efforts in connection with the development of our minds, our souls and our consciences.

The level represents the democratic idealism, which urges I us to join with others in enjoying the precious privilege of assisting and associating with our fellows.

When a perpendicular, such as the plumb, is joined with a horizontal, such as the level, a right angle is formed as represented by the' try square of the operative Masons. The square then, being a combination of the two, stresses the need for a proper adjustment of valuable qualities which otherwise might oppose each other. Just as the plumb and level join to form the square, so should man join the opposites in his nature and adjust their influences in such a manner as to counter-balance each other in the development of a purposeful and productive life.

Every Master Mason has witnessed and played an important role in a drama which has been described as being one of the most thrilling and impressive known to man. It is as old as the world, yet ever new. In one of various forms this same legend, in its essentials, has existed as the most important feature in practically all of the primitive fraternal secret societies of mankind.

The Hiramic Legend took its place in our Masonic ceremonies about 1725. It is quite probable that for many years prior to that date it had been known as one of the cherished traditions of the Craft.

This legend is part of that system of Masonic symbolism, which in its entirety represents the life of man and the progress of mankind. Although we recognize the fate which each one of us must eventually face, it is comforting to realize that the culmination of the drama can have no other logical purpose than the symbolic portrayal of a resurrection and an entrance into that life for which we hope and pray.

There are numerous interesting and illuminating elements of symbolism in the Master Mason's Degree, which the student of Freemasonry should observe and endeavor to interpret. Probably the most difficult part to understand is the "Word." This has been called the master symbol by means from which all other symbols take their meaning. It is derived from the so-called "Mason Word" which was supposed to have been the principal secret of operative masonry. Symbolically, the "Word" signifies truth, particularly Divine Truth.

Hence the search for the "Word" is the symbolic effort to find abstract truth, the divinity in ourselves and in others. This is a search in which we may come close to truth; we may approach near to it; we may secure part of it, but that Divine Truth is boundless in its scope and limitless in its influence. We should be satisfied to partake of it gradually as it is disclosed to us from time to time.

Finally comes the crowning glory of the Master Mason's Degree. Death comes to every man, as it must. Marking the grave of the Freemason is a sprig of acacia, or evergreen, symbolically representing immortality. The doctrine of Freemasonry is firmly founded on a belief in a Supreme Being and faith in a future life. To the universal and yearning cry of all mankind throughout all ages Freemasonry answers in its sublime symbolism. There is life eternal. There is a Great Architect by whose mercy we live again.

It is through symbolism that the drama and teachings of Freemasonry unfold. Its hidden, or esoteric, symbolism portrays the journey of man along the pathway of life into the darkness of death and thence to the brightness and bliss of eternal dawn. From beginning to end, the Symbolism of our Fraternity exemplifies the fundamental doctrines of Freemasonry: The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Immortality of the Soul.

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The making of a Freemason consists in a continued course of education, training and character forming. While it may be accepted that it is an innermost desire, followed by obligations, that makes one a member of the Craft, yet in a truer sense, a man is not a Freemason unless he lives up to his obligations.

The deeper the research about Freemasonry and the more extensive the knowledge of its hidden art and mysteries, the more highly it is appreciated. The philosophy of Freemasonry, when discovered and then accepted and practiced, provides simple but profound solutions to the problems of human relationships. Freemasonry is a way of living to the Master Mason who is interested enough to appraise and value the wealth that is his by virtue of his Masonic Membership.

The best informed Master Mason is the Master Mason who reads and studies about the Craft. To assist in this regard, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has one of the finest Masonic Libraries in the world, located at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. The Library consists of approximately 70,000 volumes. Many of its books are rare and very valuable.

In the early part of 1951, the Librarian was instructed to prepare a plan for conducting a Circulating Library. This was submitted to the Committee on Library and Museum, and in September 195 1, the Grand Lodge adopted a resolution authorizing and directing the Committee to create a Circulating Library, and to loan books to the Members of the Masonic Fraternity in Pennsylvania, under such conditions as the Committee might determine.

Members, who wish to secure books from this source, may write to the Librarian and Curator, Masonic Temple, One North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. A copy of the rules and regulations will be sent immediately, together with a list of the books available. No fee is charged. The primary obligation is to return books thus borrowed in good condition within the specified time limit.

For anyone who might want more detailed and specific information on Freemasonry, a small personal library consisting of the following is suggested:

Holy Bible (Masonic Edition) - This Great Light in Freemasonry is recommended for all Freemasons to read and study.

The Builders, by Joseph Fort Newton - A story and study of Freemasonry.

Sword and Trowel, by John Black Vrooman and Allen E. Roberts The story of Traveling and Military Lodges.

Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia - An excellent reference book devoted to new and comprehensive Masonic data.

Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia (3 Vols.) - One of the most widely used Masonic reference works in the world.

Freemasons' Guide and Compendium, by Bernard E. Jones A presentation of Freemasonry in general.

The Great Teachings of Masonry, by H.L. Haywood - A clear and concise statement of the general beliefs and purposes of Freemasonry.

Foreign Countries, by Carl H. Claudy - An interesting excursion into the "foreign lands" of being Entered, Passed and Raised.

Freemasonry Through Six Centuries (2 Vols.), by Henry Wilson Legend and tradition presented in an analytical yet interesting manner.

These books, and many others, may be purchased at special prices through your Grand Lodge Library.


The man who has been raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason must understand that there is nothing higher and nothing superior to him in Masonry. When he has become a Master Mason, he has become as much a Mason as he will ever be.

From the Symbolic Lodge, one may join other Masonic groups such as the York Rite and the Scottish Rite. The former is composed of Chapters of Royal Arch Masons, Councils of Royal and Select Masters and Commanderies of Knights Templar. The latter is composed of Lodges of Perfection, Councils of Princes of Jerusalem, Chapters of Rose Croix and Consistories. These are sometimes called "higher degrees." They are higher only in the sense that they have higher numbers and that some of them are prerequisite for others. However, there is nothing higher and nothing superior to the degree of Master Mason.

There are certain other organizations, the best known of which are perhaps the Shrine and the Grotto, which are not Masonic bodies, but organizations which require Masonic membership as a prerequisite for joining them. These organizations, in other words, draw their membership exclusively from the Masonic Fraternity, but they are not a part of it.

Thus, the man who has received the three degrees in the Symbolic Lodge is a Master Mason. The Master Mason Degree is the climax of Freemasonry, the mountaintop, like the summit of Mt. Moriah. Thus, it is the sublime degree, and is supreme and unexcelled.


Freemasonry is not a religion even though it is religious in character. It does not pretend to take the place of religion nor serve as a substitute for the religious beliefs of its Members. Freemasonry accepts men, found to be worthy, regardless of religious convictions. An essential requirement is a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being.

Freemasonry is not an insurance or beneficial society. It is not organized for profit. However, the charity and services rendered are beyond measure. It teaches the Golden Rule. It seeks to make good men better through its firm belief in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Immortality of the Soul.

The tenets of Freemasonry are ethical principles that are acceptable to all good men. It teaches tolerance toward all mankind. It is known throughout the world, even behind the Iron Curtain where Masonry does not exist. Freemasonry proudly proclaims that it consists of men bound together by bonds of Brotherly Love and Affection. It dictates to no man as to his beliefs, either religious or secular. It seeks no advantage for its Members through business or politics. Freemasonry is not a forum for discussions on partisan affairs.

At our Altars, without any vanity or pretense, we assemble for work and fellowship and to learn to love and cherish one another. By so doing, we bring light out of darkness, beauty out of drabness, exaltation out of despair--to the end that every Brother's life may become more radiant and meaningful.


No man can live according to the principles and teachings of Ancient Craft Masonry and do anything, knowingly and willingly, that is contrary to moral and upright principles. Freemasonry frowns on every wrongful act and admonishes the right actions between each of us and the world at large. Freemasonry is and should always be a guide to our actions.

Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and, above all, reverence and love for God. Freemasonry is many things but, most of all:


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