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AN EXAMINATION OF THE MASONIC RITUAL
SECOND DEGREE - THE FELLOW CRAFTSMAN
by Meredith Sanderson, M.R.C.S., F.R.G.S., F.R.A.I., P.M., P.Z., P.M.M.
1. - THE QUESTIONS.
(1) (Made a Mason) "When the sun was at its meridian."
As already mentioned, (1) the J.W. formerly presided over the E.A. Lodge and as this officer represents the meridian sun it is fitting that the ceremony of initiation be said, figuratively, to take place at midday. (2) When this is appreciated the subsequent question and answer are seen to be an interpolation. The word anachronism might with advantage be substituted for paradox, but if the latter is retained the word appears is redundant.
(2) " Veiled in Allegory and illustrated by symbols. "
See "Foreword," Part 1.
(3) The Three Grand Principles.
Exception has been taken by some commentators to the use of the word "relief " as a "principle," and one at least has suggested that "Fidelity" should be substituted. The original intention was undoubtedly to indicate that readiness to assist others is a principle of the Craft, and it would be difficult to find another word conveying this so briefly as "relief." Entirely to change the meaning by substituting " Fidelity " is indefensible.
(4) "Points of Entrance."
For the explanation of these "points" the reader is referred to the first lecture, section 1. They evidently constituted a P.W. to the E.A. Lodge.
In the Irish ritual the words f. and of g.r., taken from the Tyler's introduction of a candidate for initiation, are used as a P.W. to an E.A. Lodge. This P.W. is required of everyone in the Lodge before it is opened in the First Degree.
(5) The P . . W . .
This word is said in the ritual to "denote" p..y, which, in a sense, it does as its meaning in Hebrew is "an e. of c." or "a f. of w." - an excellent reason for its being so "depicted in a Fellow-Craft's Lodge." It is possible that at one time in the evolution of Freemasonry the S.W. presiding over the F.C. Lodge represented the Harvest season, a subject which will be more fully discussed later. (3) It may be mentioned here, however, that a sheaf of c. as the emblem of the S.W. is often carved on his chair, and that an e. of c. was shown to the aspirant as the supreme mystery at Eleusis.
The use of this word as a P.W. in the Hebrew Testament may be regarded as an excellent example of a myth originating out of a custom, a process quite familiar to anthropologists, and, with the names of the p. . rs of K.S.T., is evidence of the existence in Syria of mysteries having a common origin with Freemasonry.
In the Scotch ritual no p.w. is made known to the candidate until he has taken the ob., - a practice that has much to recommend it; when demanded during the first part of the ceremony it is given by the "conductor" on his behalf.
II. - THE CEREMONY OF PASSING.
As in the first degree, the k. made b. is that on which the candidate k.s when taking the ob. (4) I think it probable that the substitution of r. for l. and vice versa is merely the outcome of a desire to diversify the methods of preparation.
(2) Examination by the J.W. : perambulation.
The candidate has now entered the E.A. Lodge through which he has to pass before he can reach the F. Crafts'; he must, therefore, give proof as an E.A. to the J.W. presiding over that Lodge. After perambulation past the W.M. and J.W. he is conducted to the S.W. as though he had now reached the door of the F.C. Lodge, where he is of course required to give the p.w.; passing to the north side of the S.W.'s chair he figuratively enters the Lodge and is duly presented to the W.M. for passing to the 2nd degree.
(3) The s.. ps.
Note that whereas in the first degree the candidate is instructed in the s..ps by the J.D., here this duty devolves on the S.D., presumably because the J.D. was formerly occupied in guarding the door of the F.C. Lodge. (5) The form of the s. ps will be discussed later; (6) it is not unlikely that they were formerly performed round the angle of a square. Their number is the second of the Masonic progression of 3, 5 and 7.
(4) The Ob.
In order to exculpate a W.M. a small addition might with advantage be made to the ob. by inserting "except in the performance of my duty as the Master of a Lodge," after the words "to him who is only an E.A." Other commentators have pointed out also that the reference by the W.M. to the ob. as a "solemn promise" is quite incongruous, and remodeling of the whole speech is needed; this could be done without detriment to any " landmark."
(5) The S..n
We find this sn, complete with the s.n of f.y, being used by three figures in a vignette to the Book of the Dead (7); this is reproduced in Bro. Churchward's work, "The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man." (8) These three figures are represented as saluting the setting sun and it is therefore the appropriate s.n for the F.C., over whose lodge the S.W., representing the setting sun, presides. Accompanying them are three other figures making the same s.n, but substituting r. for I..
The tradition that this s.n was made by Moses is not supported by the biblical account, (9) which suggests that he made use of another s.n altogether on the occasion of the battle in the valley of Rephidim. The reference to Joshua, however, is interesting, as it brings to mind the occasion on which he is said to have influenced the sun by causing it to stand still during another battle. (10) Biblical tradition does not state by what means he did this miracle, but it was apparently in the evening as the sun was "upon Gibeon," which suggests analogy to the use of this s.n by the Egyptians as mentioned above.
Evidence that the s.ns used in Freemasonry are known to, and employed by, peoples all over the world, is gradually accumulating. Thus Bro. Ward states that he saw all the craft s.ns being used by two Pathans in Colombo, including the h..g s.n (11), and he adduces proof that some if not all are used by the Brahmins, - that of the F.C. among them. Bro. Leon has also found this, and other s.ns among certain Dervish sects, (12) and so on, - the evidence is incontrovertible.
The writer has found the h.s. used during a solemn rite in the initiation ceremonies of the WaYao, a Bantu tribe in Central Africa, but here the r.a. was used; he is able to guarantee that the s.n was used deliberately and invariably, but itsmeaning has been lost.
It should be mentioned also that Amsu the ithyphallic form of the risen Horus in ancient Egypt, is always represented as having his I.a. in the position of the h.s.; he is known by the title of "He Who lifteth up His arm." (13) The risen spirit was originally the sprouting corn and it is possible that we have here an indication of a very early origin. It is noteworthy that the Yao ceremonies referred to above are phallic.
The s.n of f.y, so called, occurs in a higher degree in another form, such as to suggest a former relation between the h.s. and a similar s.n to be alluded to later. (14) This s.n of f.y is also found used by the initiate into the tribal rites of the Nandi, in Kenya Colony, but the l.a. is used (15); it was given with the r.h. in Egypt.
The interest of these facts is not merely that they are evidence of the antiquity of our s.ns, but that they have an esoteric meaning; they are not merely means of "giving proof." They are (or one should perhaps say, were), therefore, in reality "secrets."
(6) The w. . d.
As already mentioned, (16) two tat pillars stood at the entrance to Amenta, in Egyptian mythology, and the word tat, in ancient Egyptian means "s ... h." We can now go a step further. The plural of tat is tattu, and two tat pillars when used hieroglyphically meant firm, stable, unalterable, abiding, eternal (Renouf). (17) Here is the explanation of the statement in the ritual, " . . . when conjoined with the one in the former Degree they denote s ... y." But this is not all. The word tattu used as a verb means "to e ... h" (Budge). (18) I have given references to these two authorities so that any Freemason may verify these statements for himself, but I should mention that I owe the facts in the first instance to the late Bro. Churchward. (19)
In Hebrew the w. J. has several meanings; they are, "founding" and so "es .... bing"; also "he who strengthens, "and it is the plural of jarac, "the moon" or "a month." All of these are of interest; - the first from its identity with the Egyptian tattu, the second from its analogy to the other p.r. maintaining the phallic significance, and the last because it suggests the influence of the Egyptian lunar cult. (20)
With regard to the phallic meaning of the two p.rs it may be mentioned that the word B. is a compound of the preposition "in" and a noun, the latter being a Hebrew word meaning either "s..h" or another derived from the same root meaning a "goat." This is very significant as the goat in all ages has been symbolical of sexual power.
There can, I think, therefore be no doubt that the close analogy between the Masonic p.rs, those of K.S.T., and the tat p.rs of ancient Egypt, proves a common origin for all; whether any one is derived from the other is, of course, an open question, but the Masonic significance attached to both p.rs together at least cannot have been taken from the Bible, in which it does not occur, whereas, as we have seen, it has an exact parallel in ancient Egypt.
It should be noted that the w.s of the first two degrees were transposed by G. Lodge in the middle of the 18th Century, owing to the publication of various exposes of the Crafts Degrees. In some Constitutions, e.g., that of the Netherlands, this change was not made. (21)
III. - THE SECOND TRACING BOARD.
Nearly the whole of this "explanation" is undoubtedly modern, having been taken almost verbatim from the biblical account of the b.g of K.S.T.; the "authorized version" having been used throughout, however, a few points call for comment in addition to those assignable to Masonic tradition.
(1) "Corn, wine and oil."
The biblical account mentions these as the rations allowed to the wood-cutters supplied by the King of Tyre (22) and their inclusion in the Masonic account is probably due to this. In view of the hypothesis is that at one stage of its development Masonry had reference to the agricultural year, (23)however, this allusion to the fruits of the earth being the Freemason's reward should be noted, as well as the original meaning of the expression in specie ("in kind").
(2) "Thirty-five cubits."
This height of the p.rs is taken from II. Chron. III, 15, and the circumference from I. Kings, VII, 15; in the latter account the height is given as eighteen cubits. The compilers of this part of the ritual have borrowed so freely from the biblical account that tradition is buried beyond recovery. Some commentators take exception to the "spherical balls," chiefly because they have not biblical authority; it is therefore of interest to note that some authorities (e.g., Gesenius) translate the word "bowls". (I. Kings, VII., 41) as "globes."
Churchward states (24) that the four lines on the tat pillars represent squares, and says, "The Egyptians always drew on the flat as they did not understand perspective," and adds, "The squares here represent the Terrestrial and Celestial Globes." It is true that they drew on the flat, but not on the edge, as this would imply; witness the vignette to Chapter 151 of the Book of the Dead. (25) I think there can be no doubt that these lines reproduce the anatomical characters of the vertebrae of Osiris, whose backbone they came to represent. (26)
The statement that on the globes "were delineated maps" is of course pure embroidery, as is also the allusion to the p. .rs of fire and cloud.
In the ritual it is also stated that "they" (the p.rs) "were considered finished when the network or canopy was thrown over them." This would appear to be the result of a confusion of ideas between the "networks" of the biblical account and the "canopy" of Heaven which in Egyptian mythology the p.rs of the god Shu supported, and which might therefore be said to be "thrown over them." The correct translation of the word" network" is now known to be "lattice."
The whole account of the b.d.g of K.S.T. in the Old Testament is very corrupt and no two MSS. agree, which supports the view that it was originally allegorical.
(3) The Middle Chamber.
This term is a misreading of the original Hebrew, and is admitted as such by all authorities. The correct reading of I. Kings, VI., 8, is as follows:- "The door for the lowest row of chambers" (not for the middle chamber) "was in the right side of the house, and they went up with winding stairs into the middle row, and out of the middle into the third." That into say there was a row of chambers on each story and the winding stairs reached from the ground floor to the top story- cf. v. 6, where the word chamber should read story, and Ezek. XLI., 7. The winding staircase or slope common to all Babylonian Temples should be borne in mind in this connection.
(4) The Winding Stairs.
Whatever the allegorical meaning of these stairs in the Temple, I am of opinion that they are of modern introduction into Freemasonry; they are said by some authorities to refer to the sinuous course described by the sun through the signs of the Zodiac.
Their division into three flights is, I believe, due to a misreading of the ritual since their introduction. The wording is, "They" (i.e., our ancient brethren) "then passed up the winding staircase, consisting of three, five, seven or more steps"; the ritual then goes straight on, "three to rule a Lodge, etc." I believe that the word steps has recently been introduced, and that the original statement was that "our ancient brethren" went up the stairs in groups of three (Masters), five (F.C's.), and seven or more (E.A's.).Otherwise the steps being 3, 5, 7 or more, must be regarded as having varied in number from day to day, and as ruling a Lodge, etc..
The ritual is inconsistent when it states that two E.A.'s are necessary to make a Lodge perfect seeing that they would not have been allowed up the stairs by the J.W. according to the present account.
(5) Three, five, and seven.
According to tradition an E.A.'s Lodge consists of seven, a F.C.'s of five, and the M.M.'s of three. These numbers form the Masonic progression of 3, 5, and 7; the 3 representing the Trinity, the 5 being the 5 elements (earth, water, air, fire and spirit), and the 7, the sum of 4 and 3 (earth and Heaven), square and triangle, the Seven Spirits, etc..
The number 7, beside being sacred, has also magical powers and is used accordingly in spells in every country throughout the world. 3 occurs almost as frequently in Magic, often as 3 groups of 3, and 5 is not uncommon also. The compilers of the ritual as it now stands have done their best to find some reason for these numbers, but the less said about it the better. Of these comparisons only the third has the slightest claim to notice, - it would appear probable that the ancient ritual contained some reference to the arts and sciences as it can hardly be merely coincidence that the Seven Masters of Egyptian mythology were patrons of the same. (27)
IV. - THE SECOND LECTURE.
There are only one or two points peculiar to the Lecture which call for comment.
(1) A regular progression. (Second Section).
As already mentioned (28) this progression is to be found in the philosophy of Pythagoras, who probably learned it by his initiation into the mysteries of Egypt. That it was known to the Egyptians thousands of years before his time is proved by the pyramids.
The reference to Euclid in relation to Freemasonry is, of course, pure invention.
(2) Three classes of Artificers. (Fifth Section).
The account given here as to the workers at K.S.T. represents a vain attempt to bring Masonic tradition into line with the biblical account. The numbers are a compromise between those given in the two versions which do not agree. Note that 80,000 "craftsmen" cannot be "arranged into companies or Lodges consisting of seven E.A.'s and five F.C.'s" seeing that this number is not divisible by 12; nor is either 83,300 (80,000 + 3,300 "Overseers") or 83,600(80,000 + 3,300 + 300 "Rulers") divisible by 13 (12 + "as killed Craftsman.")
The only way it will work out is to divide the total number of "craftsmen" and "over-seers" (83,000) into 5,950 Lodges consisting of 7 E.A.'s and an overseer in each, and the same number of Lodges each containing 5 F.C.'s and an overseer. Charters would then be required for 11,900 Lodges for which only 3,300 overseers are available, so that it involves the promotion of 8,600 "craftsmen" to the rank of overseer, - a proceeding which might not meet with the approval of the "Three Grand Masters." It is merely another instance of the absurdity of trying to make the Masonic tradition fit into the account of the building of K.S.T..
(3) The Letter G.
This, in the ceremony of closing the Lodge in the 2ndDegree, is alluded to as the "Sacred Symbol," and the W.M. exhorts the brethren to remember that "wherever we are, or whatever we do, . . . . His all-seeing eye beholds us." There can be little doubt that the letter G. is a modern substitution for " The Eye," prominent in other (higher) degrees, and the symbol of Osiris.
1. Part I, V, (1).
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