The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...

The necessity of some preparatory ceremonies, of a more or less formal character, before proceeding to the despatch of the ordinarv business of any association, has always been recognized. Decorum and the dignitv of the meeting alike suggest, even in popular assemblies called only for a temporarv purpose, that a presiding officer shall, with some formality, be inducted into the chair, and he then, to use the ordinary phrase "opens" the meeting with the appointment of his necessary assistants and with the announcement, in an address to the audience, explanatory of the objects that have called them together.

If secular associations have found it expedient, by the adoption of some preparatory forms, to avoid the appearance of an unseeming abruptness in proceeding to business it may well be supposed that religious e Societies have been still more observant of the custom, and that, as their pursuits are more elevated, the ceremonies of their preparation for the object of their meeting should be still more impressive.
In the Ancient Mysteries, those sacred rites which have furnished so many models for Masonic symbolism, the opening ceremomes were of the most solemn character- The Sacred Herald commenced the ceremonies of opening the greater initiations by the solemn formula of "Depart hence, ye profane!" to which was added a proclamation which forbade the use of any language which might be deemed of un favorable augury to the approaching rites.
In like manner a Lodge of Freemasons is opened with the employment of certain ceremonies in which, that attention may be given to their symbolic as well as practical importance, every member present is expected to take a part. These ceremomes, which slightly differ in each of the Degrees but differ so slightly as not to affect their general character—may be considered, in refference to the several purposes they are to effect, to be dinded mto eight successive steps or parts.
1. The Master having signified his intention to proceed to the labors of the Lodge, every Brother is expected to assume his necessary Masonie clothing and, if an officer, the insignia of his office, and silently and de corously to repair to his appropriate station.
2. The next step in the ceremony is, with the usual precautions, to ascertain the right of each one to be present. It is scarcely necessary to say that. in the perfommance of this duty, the officers who are charged with it should allow no one to remain who is not either well known to themselves or properly vouched for by some discreet and experienced Brother.
3. Attention is next directed to the external avenues of the Lodge, and the officers within and without who are entrusted with the performance of this important duty, are expected to execute it with care and fidelity.
4. By a wise provision, it is no sooner intimated to the Master that he may safely proceed, than he directs his attention to an inquiry into the knowledge possessed by his officers of the duties that they will be respectively called upon to perform.
5. Satisfied upon this point, the Master then Announces, by formal proclamation, his intention to proceed to business; and, mindful of the peaceful character of our Institution, he strictly forbids all immoral or unmasonic conduct whereby the harmony of the Lodge may be impeded, under no less a penalty than the by-laws may impose or a majority of the Brethren present may see fit to indict. Nor, after this, is any Brother permitted to leave the Lodge during Lodge hours, that is, from the time of opening to that of closing, without having first obtained the Worshipful Master's permission.
6. Certain mystic rites, which can here be only alluded to, are then employed, by which each Brother present signifies his concurrence in the ceremonies which have been performed, and his knowledge of the Degree in which the Lodge is about to be opened.
7. It is a lesson which every Freemason is taught, as one of the earliest points of his initiation, that he should commence no important undertaking without first in voking the blessing of Deity. Hence the next step in the progress of the opening ceremonies is to address a prayer to the Supreme Architect of the Universe. This prayer. although offered by the Master, is to be participated in by every Brother, and, at its eonelusion, the audible response of "So mote it be" should be made by all present.
8. The Lodge is then declared, in the name of God and the Holy Saints John, to be opened in due form on the First, Seeond, or Third Degree of Freemasonry, so sthe case may be.

A Lodge is said to be opened in the name of God and the Holy Saints John, as a declaration of the sacred and religious purposes of the meeting, of profound reverence for that Divine Being whose name and attributes should be the constant themes of contemplation, and of respect for those ancient patrons whom the traditions of Freemasonry 80 intimately connect with the history of the Institution.
It is said to be opened in due boron, to intimate that all that is necessary, appropriate and usual in the ceremonies, all that the law requires or ancient usage renders indispensable, have been observed.
Further, it is said to be opened on, and not in, a certain Degree, which latter expression is often incorrectly used, in reference rather to the speculative than to the legal character of the meeting, to indicate, not that the members are to be circumscribed in the limits of a particular Degree, but that they are met together to unite in contemplation on the symbolic teachings and divine lessons of that Degree.

The manner of opening in each Degree slightly varies. In the English system, the Lodge is opened in the First Degree "in the name of T. G. A. O. T. U."; in the Second, "on the square, in the name of the Grand Geometrician of the Universe"; and in the Third, "on the center, in the name of the Most High." It is prescribed as a ritualistic regulation that the Master shall never open or close his Lodge without a lecture or part of a lecture. Hence, in each of the Degrees a portion of the lecture of that Degree is incorporated into the opening and closing ceremonies.
There is in every Degree of Freemasonry, from the lowest to the highest, an opening ceremony peculiar to the Degree. This ceremony has always more or less reference to the symbolic lesson which it is the design of the Degree to teach, and hence the varieties of openings are as many as the Degrees themselves.
Freemasonry is divided by Masonic writers into two branches, an Operative Art and a Speculative Seience. The Operative Art is that which was practised by the Stone-Masons of the Middle Ages. The Speculative Science is that which is practised by the Freemasons of the present day. The technicalities and usages of the former have been incorporated into and modified by the latter. Hence, Freemasonry is sometimes defined as a Speculative Science founded on an Operative Art.
Freemasonry, in its character as an Operative Art, is familiar to everyone. As such, it is engaged in the application of the rules and principles of architecture to the construction of edifices for private and public use, houses for the dwelling-place of man, and temples for the worship of the Deity. It abounds, like every other art, in the use of technical terms, and employs, in practice, an abundance of implements and materials which are peculiar to itself. This Operative Art has been the foundation on which has been built the Speculative Science of Freemasonry (see Speculative Masonry).
Workers in stone, who construct material edifices, in contradistinction to Speculative Masons, who build spiritual edifices.
Name applied to those, as Dr. Thomas Carr, Dr. C. M. Merz, Sir John A. Cochburn, Sir Frederick Pollock, Clement E. Stretton, active in the modern study and practise of old gild customs.
The Brotherhood of the Serpent, which flourished in the second century, and held that there were two principles of eons and the accompanying theogony. This Egvptian fraternity displayed a living serpent in their ceremonies, which was reverenced as a symbol of wisdom and a type of good.
When a Masonic obligation leaves to the person who assumes it the option to perform or omit any part of it, it is not to be supposed that such option is to be only his arbitrary will or unreasonable choice. On the contrary, in exercising it, he must lee governed and restrained by the principles of right and duty, and be controlled by the eireumstanees which surround the case, so that this option, which at first would seem to be a favor, really involves a great and responsible duty, that of exercising a just judgment in the premises. That. which at one time would be proper to perform, at another time and in different circumstances it would be equally proper to omit.
Much of the instmetion which is communicated in Freemasonry, and, indeed, all that is eksoterie, is given orally; and there is a law of the Institution that forbids such instruction to be written. There is in this usage and regulation a striking analogy to what prevailed on the same subject in all the secret institutions of antiquity. In all the Ancient Mysteries, the same reluctance to commit the esoteric instructions of the hierophants to writing is apparent; and hence the secret knowledge taught in their initiations was preserved in symbols, the true meaning of which was closely concealed from the profane. The Druids had a similar regulation; and Caesar informs us that, although they made use of the letters of the Greek alphabet to record their ordinary or public transactions, yet it was not considered lawful to entrust their sacred verses to writing, but these were always committed to memory by their disciples.

The secret doctrine of the Cabala, or the mystical philosophy of the Hebrews, was also communicated in an oral form, and could be revealed only through the medium of allegory and similitude. The Cabalistic knowledge, traditionally received, was, says Maurice (Indian Antiquities, volume iv, page 548), "transmitted verbally down to all the great characters celebrated in Jewish antiquity, among whom both David and Solomon were deeply conversant in its most hidden mysteries. Nobody, however, had ventured to commit anything of this kind to paper."
The Christian Church also, in the age immediately succeeding the apostolie period, observed the same custom of oral instruction. The early Fathers were eminently cautious not to commit certain of the mysterious dogmas of their religion to writing, lest the surrounding Pagans should be made acquainted with what they could neither understand nol appreciate. Saint Basil (De Spiritu Sancto), treating of this subject in the fourth century, says: "We receive the dogmas transmitted to us by writing, and those which have descended to us from the apostles, beneath the mystery of oral tradition; for several things have been handed down to us without writings lest the vulgar, too familiar with our dogmas, should lose a due respect for them." And 'he further asks, "Hom should it ever be becoming to write and circulate among the people an account of those things which the uninitiated are not permitted to contemplated

A custom, so ancient as this, of keeping the landmarks unwritten, and one so invariably observed by the Masonic Fraternity, it may very naturally be presumed, must have been originally established with the wisest intentions; and, as the usage was adopted by many other institutions whose organization was similar to that of Freemasonry, it may also be supposed that it was connected, in some way, with the character of an esoteric instruction. Two reasons it seems to Doctor Mackey, may be assigned for the adoption of the usage among Freemasons.

In the first place, by confining our secret doctrines and landmarks to the care of traditions all danger of controversies and schisms among Freemasons and in Lodges is effectually avoided. Of these traditions, the Grand Lodge in each Jurisdiction is the interpreter and to its authoritative interpretation every Freemason and every Lodge in the Jurisdiction is bound to submit. There is no book, to which every Brother may refer, whose language each one may interpret according to his own views, and whose expressions— sometimes, perhaps, equivocal and sometimes obscure —might afford ample sources of wordy contest and verbal criticism
The doctrines themselves, as well as their interpretation, are contained in the memories of the Craft; and the Grancl Lodges, as the lawful representatives of the Fraternity, are alone competent to decide whether the tradition has been correctly preserved, and what is its true interpretation. Hence it is that there is no institution in which there have been so few and such unimportant controversies with respect to essential and fundamental doctrines.

In illustration of this argument, Doctor Oliver, while speaking of what he calls the Antediluvian System of Freemasonry—a part of which must necessarily have been traditional, and transmitted from father to son, and a part entrusted to symbols—mal;es the following observations:
Such of the legends as were communicated orally would be entitled to the greatest degree of credence while those that were committed to the custody of symbols, which, it is probable, many of the collateral legends would be, were in great danger of perversion because the truth could only be ascertained by those persons who were incrusted with the secret of their interpretation.
And if the symbols were of doubtful character and carried a double meaning, as many of the Egyptian Hieroglyphies of a Subsequent age actually did, the legends which then embodied might sustain very considerable alteration in sixteen or seventeen hundred years, althoug passing through very few hands. Maimonides (More Nevochim, chapter lXXi assigns a similar reason for the ulnas ritten preservation of the Oral Law. He says:
This vvas the perfection of wisdom in our land and by this means those evils were avoided into which it fell in succeeding times, namely the variety and perplexity of sentiments and opinions and the doubts which so commonly arise from written doctrines contained in books, besides the errors shield are easily committed by writers and copyists whence, afterwards, spring up controversies, schisms, and confusion of parties.

A second reason that may be assigned for the unritten ritual of Freemasonry is, that by compelling the Craftsman who desires to make any progress in his profession, to commit its doctrines to memory there is a greater probability of their being thoroughly studied and understood In confirmation of this Opinion. it will, Doctor Mackey believed, be readily acknowledged by anyone whose experience is at all extensive that, as a general rule, those skilful Brethren who are technically called Bright Masons, are better acquainted with the esoteric and unwritten portion of the lectures, which they were compelled to acquire under a competent instructor, and by oral informations than with that which is published in the Monitors. and, therefore, always at hand to be read.
Caesar (Belli Gallae vi, 14) thought that this was the cause of the custom among the Druids, for, after mentioning that they did not suffer their doctrines to he committed to writing, he adds: "They seem to me to have adopted this method for two reasons: that their mysteries might be hidden from the common people, and to exercise the memory of their disciples, which would be neglected if they had books on which they might rely, as, we find, is often the case."

A third reason for this unwritten doctrine of Freemasonry, and one, perhaps, most familiar to the Craft, is also alluded to by Caesar in the case of the Druids, "because they did not wish their doctrines to be divulged to the common people." Maimonides, in the conclusion of the passage which we have already quoted, makes a similar remark with respect to the oral law of the Jews. "But if," says he, "so much care was exercised that the oral law should not he written in a book and laid open to all persons, lest, peradventure, it should become corrupted and depraved, how much more caution was required that the secret interpretations of that law should not be divulged to every person, and pearls be thus thrown to swine." "Wherefore," he adds, "they wereentrusted to certain private persons, and by them were transmitted to other educated men of excellent and extraordinary gifts." For this regulation he quotes the Rabbis, who say that the secrets of the law are not delivered to any person except a man of prudence and wisdom.

It is, then, for these excellent reasons—to avoid idle controversies and endless disputes; to preserve the secrets of our Order from decay; and, by increasing the difficulties by which they are to be obtained, to diminish the probability of their being forgotten; and finally, to secure them from the unhallowed gaze of the profane—that the oral instruction of Freemasonry was first instituted, and still continues to be religiously observed. Its secret doctrines are the precious jewels of the Order, and the memories of Freemasons are the well-guarded caskets in which those jewels are to be preserved with unsullied purity. Henee it is appropriately said in our instructions that "the attentive ear receives the sound from the instructive tongue, and the secrets of Freemasonry are safely lodged in the Depository of faithful breasts."
The Oral Law is the name given by the Jews to the interpretation of the written code, which is said to have been delivered to Moses at the same time, accompanied by the Divine command: "Thou shalt not divulge the words which I have said to thee out of my mouth." The Oral Law was, therefore never entrusted to books; but, being preserved in the memories of the judges, prophets, priests, and other wise men, was handed down, from one to the other, through a long succession of ages. Maimonides has described, according to the Rabbinical traditions, the mode adopted by Moses to impress the principles of this Oral Lsw upon the people. As an example of perseverance in the acquirement of information by oral instruction, it may be worthy of the consideration and imitation of all those Freemasons who wish to perfect themselves in the esoteric lessons of their Institution.

When Moses had descended from Mount Sinai, and had spoken to the people, he retired to his tent. Here he was visited by Aaron. to whom, sitting at his feet, he recited the law and its explanation, as he had received it from God. Aaron then rose and seated himself on the right hand of Moses. Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of barons now entered the tent, and Moses repeated to them all that he had communieated to their father; after which, they seated themselves, one on the left hand of Moses and the other on the right hand of Aaron. Then went in the seventy elders, and Moses taught them, in the same manner as he had taught Aaron and his sons. Afterward, all of the congregation who desired to know the Divine Will came in; and to them, also, Moses recited the law and its interpretation, in the same manner as before.
The law, thus orally delivered by Moses, had now been heard four times by Aaron, three times by his sons, twice by the seventy elders, and once by the rest of the people. After this, Moses withdrawing, Aaron repeated all that he had heard from Moses, and retired; then Eleazar and Ithamar repeated it, and also withdrew; and, finally, the same thing was done by the seventy elders; so that each of them having heard the law repeated four times, it was thus, finally, fixed in their memories.

The written law, divided by the Jewish lawgivers into 613 precepts, is contained in the Pentateuch. But the oral law, transmitted by Moses to Joshua, by him to the elders, and from them conveyed by traditionary relation to the time of Judah the Holy, was by him, to preserve it from being forgotten and lost, committed to writing in the work known as the Mishna. And now, no longer an Oral Law, its preeepts are to be found in that book, with the subsidiary aid of the Constitutions of the Prophets and Wise Alen, the Decrees of the Sanhedrim, the Decisions of the Judges, and the Expositions of the Doctors.
The stated object of this organization was to preserve the supremacy of the Crown and Protestantism. Founded in 1795 by Thomas Wilson, a Freemason; composed of one grade. John Templeton, in 1796, introduced the Purple Degree and later the Markman's Grade and the Heroine of Jericho were added. Not a Masonic Body though somewhat connected, evidently, with Freemasonry during that earlyperiod (see Orangeism in Ireland and Throughout the Empire, R. M. Sibbett, Belfast).
An officer in a Lodge whose duty it is to explain to a candidate after his initiation the mysteries of the Degree into which he has just been admitted. The office is therefore, in many respects, similar to that of a Lecturer. The office was created in the French Lodges early in the eighteenth century, soon after the introduction of Freemasonry into France. A writer in the London Freemasons Magazine for 1859 attributes its origin to the constitutional deficiency of the French in readiness of public speaking. From the French it pulsed to the other Continental Lodges, and was adopted by the Scottish Rite. The office ss not generally recognized in the English and American system, where its duties are performed by the Worshipful Master. Though a few Lodges under the English Constitution do appoint an Orator, namely, the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2, the Pilgrim Lodge, No. 238, the Constitutional Lodge, No. 294, and the La Cesaree Lodge, No. 590.

Brother Oswald Wirth of Paris, in conversation with Brother Clegg, expressed a neat distinction from a French point of view between the Orator and the Secretary, the latter guarding the memory of the Lodge, the former voicing its conscience.
An Order may be defined to be a brotherhood, fellowship, or association of certain persons, united by laws and statutes peculiar to the society, engaged in a common object or design, and distinguished by particular habits, ensigns, badges or symbols.
Johnson's definition is that an Order is "a regular government,a societyof dignified persons distinguished by marks of honor, and a religious fraternity." In all of these senses Freemasonry may be styled an Order. Its government is of the most regular and systematic character; men the most eminent for dignity and reputation have been its members; and if it does not constitute a religion in itself, it is at least religion's handmaid.
The ecclesiastical writers define an Order to be a congregation or society or religious persons, governed bv particular rules, living under the same superior, in the same manner, and wearing the same habit; a definition equally applicable to the society of Freemasons. These ecclesiastical Orders are divided into three classes:

l. Monastic, such as the Benedictines and the Augustinians.
2. The Mendicant, as the Dominicans and the Franciscans.
3. The Military, as the Hospitalers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights.

Only the first and the third have any connection with Freemasonry; the first because it was by them that architecture was fostered, and the Masonic Gilds patronized in the Middle Ages; and the third because it was in the bosom of Freemasonry that the Templars found a refuge after the dissolution of their Order.
The book to which all appeals were made, in the Order of Strict Observance, as to matters of history , usage, or ritual. It was invariably bound in red.
The name or designation assumed by initiates of the Illuminati, the members of the Rite of Strict Observance, and of the Royal Order of Scotland, was called the Order Name, or the Characteristic Name (see Eques). The Illuminati selected classical names, of which the following are specimens: the real surnames at the left, the assumed ones at the right: Saladin
Weishaupt Knigge Bode
Nicolai Westenreider Constanza
Zwack Count Savioli Busche
Ecker Spartacus Philo
Amelius Lucian Pythagoras
Diomedes Cato Brutus
The members of the Strict Observance formed their Order Names in a different way. Following the custom of the combatants in the old tournaments each called himself an Eques, or Knight of some particular object; as, Knight of the Sword, Knight of the Star, etc. Where one belonged both to this Rite and to that of Illuminism, his Order Name in each was different. Thus Bode, as an Illuminatus, was, we have seen, called Amelius, but as a Strict Observant', he was known as Eques a lilio convallium, or Knight of the Lily-of-the-Valleys. The following examples may suffice. A full list in Thory's Acta Latomorum.

Hund, Eques ab ense=Knight of the Sword.
Jacobi, Eques ŕ stellâ=Knight of the Star.
Count Bruhl, Eques ä gladio ancipiti=Knight of the Double-edged Sword.
Bode, Eques ŕ lilio convallium=Enight of the Lily-of-the Valleys.
Beyerle, Edges a fasciâ=Knight of the Girdle.
Berend, Eques â septem stellis=Knight of the Seven Stars
Decker, Eques â plasula=Knight of the Curtain.
Lavater, Eques ab Ćculapio=Knight of Esculapius.
Seckendorf, Eques a capricorno = Knight of Capricorn
Prince Charles Edward, Eques d sole aureo=Knight of the Golden Sun.
Zinnendorf, Eques a lapide nigro=Knight of the Black Stone.
In every Masonic Body, the By-laws should prescribe an Order of Business, and in proportion as that order is rigorously observed will be the harmony and celerity with which the business of the Lodge will be despatched. In Lodges whose By-laws have prescribed no settled order, the arrangement of business is left to the discretion of the presiding officer, who, however, must be governed, to some extent, by certain general rules founded on the principles of parliamentary law, or on the suggestions of common sense. The order of business may, for convenience of reference, be placed in the following tabular form:
1. Opening of the Lodge.
2. Reading and cenfirmation of the Minutes.
3. Reports on Petitions.
4. Balloting for Candidates.
6. Reports of Special Committees.
6. Reports of Standing Committees.
7. Consideration of Motions made at a former meeting if called up by a member.
8. New business.
9. Initiations.
10. Reading of the Minutes for information and correction.
11. Closing of the Lodge.
See Christ, Order of.
Organized at Berkeley, California, by Brother Henry Byron Phillips, who wrote the ritual, and after whom the first Assembly was named. Membership limited to girls between the ages of 14 and 21, sisters or daughters of Master Masons or companions of these girls Ritual has four Degrees, Myriam, Deborah, Maria, and Jeanne d'Arc, and the motto is Magni Dominic Umbra, Under the Shadow of a Great Name.
In l90l this body of students in occult philosophy was revived at Bradford, England, by the Rosicrucian Adepts,Dr. J. B. Edwards and T. H. Pattinson.
See Stukely, Doctor.
See Temple, Order of the.

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014