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The Hehrew letter is vau. The twenty-second letter in the English alphabet,of the Hebrew,numerical value of six . Its definition, a nail, which in form it represents, and as a Divine name connected with it is Vezio, cum splendore or with brilliancy, the V and O in Hebrew being equal. As a Roman numeral its value is five
VACANCIES IN OFFICE
Every Masonic officeris elected and installed to hold his office for the time for which he has been elected, and until his successor shall be installed This is in the nature of a contract between the officer and the Lodge, Chapter, or other Body which has elected him, and to its terms he signifies his assent in the most Solemn manner at the time of his installation. It follows from this that to resign the office would be on his part to violate his contract Vacancies in office, there fore, can only occur by death . Even a removal from the Jurisdiction, with the intention of permanent absence, will not vacate a Masonic office, because the person removing might change his intention, and return For the reasons why neither resignation nor removal can vacate an office (see Succession to the Chair).
or BAGAOS. Found in the Fourth Degree of the French Rite of Adoption
or VALLEY. The vale or valle or vally was introduced at an early period into the symbolism of Freemasonry. A catechism of the beginning of the eighteenth century says that "the Lodge stands upon holy ground, or the highest hill or lowest vale, or in the vale of Jehoshaphat, or any other secret place." And Browne, who in the beginning of the nineteenth century gave a correct version of the Prestonian lectures, says that "our ancient Brethren met on the highest hills, the lowest dales, even in the valley of Jehoshaphat, or some such secret place."
Hutchinson (see Spirit of Masonry, page 94) has dilated on this Subject, but with a mistaken view of the true import of the symbol. He says: " We place the spiritual Lodge in the vale of Jehoshaphat, implying thereby that the principles of Masonry are derived from the knowledge of God, and are established in the judgment of the Lord." And he adds: "The highest hills and lowest valleys were from the earliest times esteemed sacred, and it was supposed the spirit of God was peculiarly diffusive in those places . " It is true that worship in high places was an ancient idolatrous usage.
But there is no evidence that the superstition extended to valleys. Hutchinson's subsequent reference to the Druidical and Oriental worship in groves has no bearing on the subject, for groves are not necessarily valleys. The particular reference to the valley of Jehoshaphat would seem in that case to carry an allusion to the peculiar sanctity of that, spot, as meaning, in the original, the valley of the judgment of God. But the fact is that the old Freemasons did not derive their idea that the Lodge was situated in a valley from any idolatrous practise of the ancients.
Valleys in our Freemasonry, is a symbol of secrecy. And although we are not disposed to believe that the use of the word in this sense was borrowed from any meaning which it had in Hebrew, yet it is a singular coincidence that the Hebrew word for valley, gnemeth, Signifies also deep, or, as Bate (Critica Hebraea) defines it, "whatever lies remote from sight, as counsels and designs which are deep or close." This very word is used in Job (xii, 22) where it is said that God "discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death."
The Lodge, therefore, is said to he placed in a valley because, the valley being the symbol of secrecy, it is intended to indicate the secrecy in which the acts of the Lodge should be concealed. And this interpretation agrees precisely with what is said in the passages already cited, where the Lodge is said to stand in the lowest vale "or any secret place." It is Supported also by the present instructions in the United States. the ideas of which at least Webb derived from Preston. It is there taught that our ancient brethren met on the highest hills and lowest vales, the better to observe the approach of cowans and eaysdroppers, and to guard against surprise (see Valley).
The worth German or Scandinavian hall of the gods.
In the Capitular Degrees of the French Rite, this word is used instead of Orient, to designate the seat of the Chapter. Thus on such a Body a document would be dated from the Valley of Paris, instead of the Orient of Paris. The word, says the Dictionaire Masonnique, is often incorrectly employed to designate the South and North sides or the Lodge, where the expression should be "the column of the South" and "the column of the North." Thus, a Warden will address the Brethren of his valley, instead of the Brethren of his collumn The valley includes the whole Lodge or Chapter; the columns are its divisions (see Vale ).
VAN RENSSELAER, KILLIAN HENRY.
Born 1799, died Jamlary 28, 1881. A native of Albany, New York State, and descendant of the well-known old Knickerbocker family, whose name he bore. He had held various positions ire Craft Massonry, but in 1824 he became prominent in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, to which he devoted himself for the remainder of his life, becoming an Inspector General on June 17, 1845. Brother Van Rensselaer commanded the Supreme Council that rebelled against the ruling of Edward A. Raymond, and thus was formed another Supreme Body in the Northern States, whose difficulties were finally overcome as were all schisms of every nature of the Ancient and Accepted ,Scottish Rite, on May 17, 1867. Brother Van, as he was familiarly termed, resided during the last thirty y ears of his life in the West, and died in Califorrlia, an outlying suburb of Cinciniati, Ohio. One more Sincerely devoted to the cause of Freemasons, and without a day of relenting earnestness, will not in time be found (see Red Cross of Rome and Constantline)
VASSAL, PIERRE GERARD.
A French physician and Masonic writer, who was born at Manosques, in France, October 24, 1769. He was intended by his parents for the Church, and entered the Seminary of Marseilles for the purpose of pursuing his ecclesiastical studies. At the commencement of the revolution he left the School and joined the army, where, however, he remained only eighteen months.
He then applied himself to the study of medicine, and pursued the practise of the profession during the rest of his life, acquiring an extensive reputation as a physician.
He was elected a member of several medical societies, to whose transactions he contributed several valuable essays. He is said to have introduced to the profession the use of the Digitalis purpurea (dried leaves of the foxglove plant) as à remedial agent, especially in diseases of the heart.
He was initiated into Freemasonry about the year 1811, and thenceforth took an active part in the Institution.
He presided in the Lodge, Chapter, and Areopagus of the Sept Ecossais Réunis, meaning in French the Seven Reunited Scottish, with great zeal and devotion; was in 1819 elected ,Secretary-General of the Grand Orient, and in 1827 President of the College of Rites He attained the Thirty-third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and was a warm advocate of Scottish Freemasonry. But his zeal was tempered by his judgment, and he did not hesitate to denounce the errors that had crept into the system, an impartiality of criticism which greatly surprised Ragon.
His principal Masonic worlds are Essai historique sur l'institution du RitEcossais, or HistoricalEssay on the Institution of the Scottish Rite, Paris, 1827, and a valuable historical contribution to Freemasonry entitled Cours complet de la Maçonnerie, ou Histoire générale de Initiation depuis son Origine jusque'à son institution en France, or Complete Course of Masonry, or General History of Initiation since its Origin up to its Institution in France, Paris, 1832. In private life, Vassal was distinguished for his kind heart and benevolent disposition. The Lodge of Sept Ecossais Reunis presented him a medal in 1830 as a recognition of his active labors in Freemasonry. He died May 4, 1840, at Paris.
Wrote Famine and Confession of the Fraternity of R. C., and other similar books. Pen name was Eugenius Philalethes.
VAULT OF STEEL.
The French title is Voute d'ancier. The French Freemasons so call the Arch of Steel, which see.
As a syrnbol, the Secret Vault does not present itself in the first Degrees of Freemasonry. It is found only in the advanced Degrees, Such as the Royal Arch of all the Rites, where it plays an important part. Doctor Oliver, in his Historical Landmarks (volume ii, page 434), gives, while referring to the building of the second Temple, the following general detail of the Masonic legend of this vault:
The foundations of the Temple were opened, and cleared from the accumulation of rubbish, that a level might be procured for the commencement of the building. While engaged in excavations for this purpose, three fortunate Sojourners are said to have discovered our ancient Stone of Foundation, which had been deposited in the secret crypt by Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, to prevent the communication of ineffable secrets to profane or unworthy persons
The discovery having been communicated to the Prince, Prophet, and Priest of the Jews, the stone was adopted as the chief corner-stone of the re-edified building, and thus became in a new and more expressive sense, the type of a more excellent Dispensation. An avenue was also accidentally discovered, supported by seven pairs of pillars, perfect and entire, which, from their situation, had escaped the fury of the flames that had consumed the Temple, and the desolation of war that had destroyed the city.
The Secret Vault, which had been built by Solomon as a secure depository for certain secrets that would inevitably have been lost without some such expedient for their preservation, communicated by a subterranean avenue with the king's palace; but at the destruction of Jerusalem the entrance having been closed by the rubbish of falling buildings, it had been discovered by the appearance of a keystone amongst the foundations of the Sanctum Sanctorum. A careful inspection was then made, and the invaluable secrets were placed in safe custody.
To support this legend, there is no historical evidence and no authority except that of the Talmudic writers. It is clearly a mythical symbol, and as such we must accept it.
We cannot altogether reject it, because it is so untimately and so extensively connected with the symbolism of the Lost and the Recovered Word, that if we reject the theory of the Secret Vault, we must abandon all of that Symbolism and with it the whole of the science of Masonic symbolism. Fortunately, there is ample evidence in the present appearance of Jerusalem and its subterranean topography, to remove from any tacit and, as it were, conventional assent to the theory, features of absurdity or impossibility.
Considered simply an historical question, there can be no doubt of the excistence of immense vaults beneath the superstructure of the original Temple of Solomon. Prime, Robison, and other writers who in recent times have described the topography of Jerusalem, speak of the existence of these structures, which they visited and, in some instances, carefully examined. After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Roman Emperor Hadrian erected on the site of the House of the Lord a Temple of Venus, which in its turn was destroved, and the place subsequently became a depository of all manner of filth. But the Calif Omar, after his conquest of Jerusalem, sought out the ancient site, and, having caused it to be cleansed of its impurities, he directed a Mosque to be erected on the rock which rises in the center of the mountain.
Fifty years afterward the Sultan Abd-el-Meluk displaced the edifice of Omar, and erected that splendid building which remains to this day, and is still incorrectly called by Christians the Mosque of Omar, but known to Mussulmans as Elkubbet-es-Sukrah, or the Dome of the Rock. This is supposed to occupy the exact site of the original Solomonic Temple, and is viewed with equal reverence by Jews and Mohammedans, the former of whom, says Prime, (Tent Life in the holy Land, page 183), "have a faith that the ark is within its bosom now."
Bartlett (Walks about Jerusalem, page 170), in describing a vault beneath this Mosque of Omar, says: "Beneath the dome, at the southeast angle of the Temple wall, conspicuous from all points a small subterraneous place of prayer, forming the entrance to the extensive vaults which support the level platform of the mosque above."
Doctor Barclay (City of the Great Ring) describes in many places of his interesting topography of Jerusalem, the vaults and subterranean chambers which are to be found beneath the site of the old Temple.
Conformable with this historical amount is the Talmudical legend, in which the Jewish Rabbis state that, in preparing the foundations of the Temple, the workmen discovered a subterranean vault sustained by seven arches, rising from as many pairs of pillars. This vault escaped notice at the destruction of Jerusalem, in consequence of its being filled with rubbish. The legend adds that Josiah, foreseeing the destruetion of the Temple, commanded the Levites to deposit the Ark of the Covenant in this vault, where it was found by some of the workmen of Zerubbabel at the building of the second Temple. In the earliest ages, the cave or vault was deemed saered. The first worship was in cave temples, which were either natural or formed by art to resemble the excavations of nature.
Of such great extent was this practise of subterranean worship by the nations of antiquity, that many of the forms of heathen temples, as well as the naves, aisles, and chancels of churches subsequently built for Christian worship, are said to owe their origin to the religious use of caves.
From this, too, arose the fact, that the initiation into the ancient mysteries was almost always performed in subterranean edifices; and when the place of initiation, as in some of the Egyptian temples, was really above ground, it was so constructed as to give to the neophyte the appearance, in its approaches and its internal structure, of a vault. As the great doctrine taught in the mysteries was the resurection from the dead—as to die and to be initiated were synonymous terms—it was deemed proper that there should be some formal resemblance between a descent into the grave and a descent into the place of initiation.
Happy is the man," says the Greek poet Pindar, "who descends beneath the hollow earth having beheld these Mysteries for he knows the end as well as the divine origin of life"; and in a like spirit Sophocles exclaims, "Thrice happy are they who descend to the shades below after having beheld the sacred Rites for they alone have life in Hades, while all others suffer there every kind of evil."
The vault was, therefore, in the ancient Mysteries, symbolic of the grave; for initiation was Symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found. The Freemasons have adopted the same idea. They teach that death is but the beginning of life; that if the first or evanescent Temple of our transitory life be on the surface, we must descend into the secret vault of death before we can find that sacred deposit of truth which is to adorn our Second Temple of eternal life. It is in this sense of an entrance through the grave into eternal life that we are to view the symbolism of the secret vault. Like every other myth and allegory of Freemasonry, the historical relation may be true or it may be false; it may be founded on fact or be the invention of imagination; the lesson is still there, and the symbolism teaches it exclusive of the history.
V. D. S. A.
Initials of a phrase in French, Zeus Dieu Saint Amour, Which may be understood as God wills holy love. Four words supposed to be repeated by the Fratres of the Temple during certain pauses in the ceremonies. P. D. E. P. refers to the Latin motto Pro Deo et Patria, meaning For God and Country
The Hebrew word. That is, the second Adar. A month intercalated by the Jews every few years between Adar and Nisan, so as to reconcile the computation by solar and lunar time. It commences sometimes in February and sometimes in March.
A Sanskrit word meaning Limb of the Veda. A collection of Sanskrit works on the grammar, lexicography, chronology, and ritual of the Vedic text. They are older than the Upanishads, and are placed among the Great Shasters, though not among the Sruti.
The most ancient of the religious writings of the Indian Aryans, and now constituting the sacred canon of the Hindus, being to them what the Bible is to the Christians, or the Koran to the Mohammedans. The word Veda denotes in Sanskrit, the language in which these books are written, wisdom or knowledge and comes from the verb Veda, which, like the Greek signifies "I know". The German Weiss and the English wit came from the same root. There are four collections of these writings, each of which is called a Veda, namely, the Rig-Veda, the Yazur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda; but the first only is the real Veda, the others being but commentaries on it, as the Talmud is upon the Old Testament.
The Rig-Veda is divided into two parts: the Mantras or hymns, which are all matrical, and the Brahmanes. which are in prose, and consist of ritualistic directions concerning the employment of the hymns, find the method of sacrifice. The other Vedas consist also of hymns and prayers; but they are borrowed, for the most part, from the Rig-Veda. The Vedas, then, are the Hindu canon of Scripture—his Book of the Law; and to the Hindu Freemason they are his Trestle-Board, just as the Bible is to the Christian Freemason.
The religion of the Vedas is apparently an adoration of the visible powers of nature, such as the sun, the sky, the dawn, and the fire, and, in general, the eternal powers of light. The supreme divinity was the sky, called Varuna, whence the Greeks got their Ouranas; and next was the sun, Called sometimes Savitar, the progenitor, and sometimes Mitra, the loving one, Whence the Persian Mithras. Side by side with these was Agni, meaning fire, whence the Latin ignis, who was the divinity coming most directly in approximation with man on earth, and soaring upward as the flame to the heavenly goals.
But in this nature-worship the Vedas frequently betray an inward spirit groping after the infinite and the eternal, and an anxious search for the Divine Name, which was to be reverenced just as the Hebrew aspired after the unutterable Tetragrammaton. Bunsen (God in History, book iii, chapter 7) calls this "the desire—the yearning after the nameless Deity, who nowhere manifests himself in the Indian pantheon of the Vedas—the voice of humanity groping after God." One of the most sublime of the Veda hymns (Rig-Veda, book x, hymn 121) ends each strophe with the solemn question: "Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?" This is the question which every religion asks; the Search after the All-Father is the labor of all men who are seeking Divine Truth and Light.
The Semitic, like the Aryan poet in the same longing spirit for the knowledge of God, exclaims, "Oh that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to His seat." It is the great object of all Masonic labor, which thus shows its true religious character and design.
The Vedas have not exercised any direct influence on the Symbolism of Freemasonry. But, as the oldest Aryan faith, they became infused into the subsequent religious systems of the race, and through the Zend Avesta of the Zoroastrians, the Mysteries of Mithras, the doctrines of the Neo-platonists, and the school of Pythagoras, mixed with the Semitic doctrines of the Bible and the Talmud, they have cropped out in the mysticisrn of the Gnostics and the Secret Societies of the Middle Ages, and have shown some of their spirit in the religious philosophy and the symbolism of Speculative Freemasonry. To the Masonic scholar, the study of the Vedic hymns is therefore interesting, and not altogether fruitless in its results. The writings of Bunsen, of Muir, of Cox, and especially of Max Müller, will furnish ample materials for the study.
See Westphalia, Secret 'I'ribunals of.
VEILED PROPHETS OF THE ENCHANTED REALM, MYSTIC ORDER.
VEILS, GRAND MASTERS OF THE.
Three officers in a Royal Arch Chapter of the American Rite, Whose duty it is to protect and defend the Veils off the Tabernacle, for which purpose they are presented with a sword. The jewel of their office is a sword within a triangle, and they bear each a banner, which is respectively blue, purple, and scarlet. The title of Grand Master appears to be a misnomer. It would have been better to have styled them Masters or (guardians. In the English system, the three Sojourners act in this capacity, which is a violation of all the facts of history, and completely changes the symbolism.
VEILS, PASSING THE.
A rite performed as part of the Ritual of the Royal Arch Degree. In England this particular portion of the ceremony has generally been discontinued although it is still used in other countries.
VEILS, SYMBOLISM OF THE.
Neither the construction nor the symbolism of the veils in the Royal Arch Tabernacle is derived from that of the Sinaitic. In the Sinaitic Tabernacle there were no veils of separation between the different parts, except the one white one that hung before the most holy place. The decorations of the Tabernacle were curtains, like modern tapestry, interwoven with many colors; no curtain being wholly of one color, and not running across the apartment, but covering its sides and roof. The exterior form of the Royal Areh Tabernacle was taken from that of Moses, but the interior decoration from a passage of Josephus not properly understood.
Josephus has been greatly used by the fabricators of advanced Degrees of Freemasonry not only for their ideas of symbolism, but for the suggestion of their legends. In the Second Book of Chronicles (in, 14) it is said that Solomon "made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubim thereon." This description evidently alludes to the single veil, which, like that of the Sinaitic Tabernacle, was placed before the entrance of the Holy of Holies. It by no means resembles the four separate and equidistant veils of the Masonic Tabernacle.
But Josephus had said (Antiquities, book viii chapter iii, 3) that the King "also had veils of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and the brightest and softest linen, with the most curious flowers svrougllt upon them, which were to be drawn before these doors." To this description—which is a very inaccurate Qne, which refers, too, to the interior of the first Temple, and not to the supposed Tabernacle subsequently erected near its ruins, and which, besides, has no Biblical authority for its support—we must trace the ideas, even as to the order of the veils, which the inventors of the Masonic Tabernacle adopted in their construction of it. That Tabernacle cannot be recognized as historically correct, but must be considered, like the three doors of the Temple in the Symbolic Degrees, simply as a symbol. But this does not at all diminish its value.
The symbolism of the veils must be considered in two aspects: first, in reference to the symbolism of the veils as a whole, and next, as to the symbolism of each veil separately.
As a whole, the four veils, constituting four divisions of the Tabernacle, present obstacles to the neophyte in his advance to the most holy place where the Grand Council sits. Now he is seeking to advance to that sacred spot that he may there receive his spiritual illumination, and be invested with a knowledge of the true Divine Name. But Masonically, this Divine Name is itself but a symbol of Truth, iche object, as has been often said, of all a Freemason's search and labor. The passage through the veils is, therefore, a symbo],of the trials and difficulties that are eneountered and must be overcome in the search for and the acquisition of Truth.
This is the general symbolism; but we lose sight of it, in a great degree, when we come to the interpretation of the symbolism of each veil independently of the others, for this principally symbolizes the various virtues and affections that should characterize the Freemason. Yet the two symbolisms are really eonnected, for the virtues symbolized are those which should distinguish everyone engaged in the Divine Search.
The symbolism, according to the system adopted in the American Rite, refers to the colors of the veils and to the miraculous signs of Moses, which are described in Exodus as having been shown by him to prove his mission as the messenger of Jehovah.
Blue is a symbol of universal friendship and benevolence. It is the appropriate color of the Symbolic Degrees, the possession of which is the first step in the progress of the search for truth to be now instituted. The Mosaic sign of the serpent was the symbol among the ancients of resurrection to life, because the serpent by casting his skin, is supposed continually to renew his youth. It is the symbol here of the loss and the recovery of the Word.
Purple is a symbol here of union, and refers to the intimate connection of Ancient Craft and Royal Arch Masonry. Hence it is the appropriate color of the intermediate Degrees, which must be passed through in the prosecution of the search. The Mosaic sign refers to the restoration of the leprous hand to health. Here again, in this representation of a diseased limb restored to health, we have a repetition of the allusion to the loos and the recovery of the Word; the Word itself being but a symbol of Divine Truth, the search for which constitutes the whole Science of Freemasonry, and the symbolism of which pervades the whole system of initiation from the first to the last Degree.
Scarlet is a symbol of fervency and zeal, and is appropriated to the Royal Arch Degree because it is by these qualities that the neophyte, now so far advanced in his progress, must expect to be successful in his search. The Mosaic sign of changing water into blood bears the same symbolic reference to a change for the better—from a lower to a higher state—from the elemental water in which there is no life to the blood which is the life itself—from darkness to light. The progress is still onward to the recovery of that which had been lost, but which is yet to be found.
White is a symbol of purity, and is peculiarly appropriate to remind the neophyte, who is now almost at the close of his search, that it is only by purity of life that he can expect to be found worthy of the reception of Divine Truth. "Blessed," says the Great Teacher, "are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The Mosaic signs now cease, for they have taught their lesson; and the aspirant is invested with the Signet of Truth, to assure him that, having endured all trials and overcome all obstacles, he is at length entitled to receive the reward for which he has been seeking; for the Signet of Zerubbabel is a royal signet, which confers power and authority on him who possesses it.
And so we now see that the Symbolism of the Veils however viewed, whether collectively or separately represents the laborious, but at last successful, search for Divine Truth.
The title of the Worshipful Master in a French Lodge.
VENERABLE GRAND MASTER OF ALL SYMBOLIC LODGES.
The Twentieth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (see Graced Master of all Symbolic Lodges). The Dictionnaire Masonnique says that this Degree was formerly conferred on those Brethren in France who, in receiving it, obtained the right to organize Lodges, and to act as Masters or Venerables for life, an abuse that was subsequently abolished by the Grand Orient. Ragon and Vassal both make the same statement. It may be true, but they furnish no documentary evidence of the fact.
The French title is Venerable Parfait. A Degree in the collection of Viany.
A republic of South America. Lodges are reported to have been instituted in Venezuela by the Grand Orient of Spain during the years prior to 1824. At that time, however, a Lodge, Logia de la Concordia Venezolana, No. 792, was opened at Angostura but was taken off the register on June 4, 1862. In 1824 also the formation of a Provincial Grand Lodge was authorized by Scotland. At Caracas Joseph Cerneau opened a Grand Lodge and a Supreme Council. In 1827 an edict against secret societies caused all the Lodges, save one, to stop work.
In 1838 the Craft revived. The National Grand Lodge of Venezuela and a Grand Orient were organized. They joined forces on January 12, 1865, as the National Grand Orient of Venezuela comprising four Bodies, Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, Grand Consistory and Supreme Council. This Grand Orient continued work until August 18, 1916, when it dissolved voluntarily. A Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite was then formed and a Grand Lodge of the United States of Venezuela founded at Caracas. Each stated that it was entirely separate from the other, but by many this was not altogether credited and the doubt was the cause of the formation of several other Grand Bodies.
According to Brother Oliver Day Street, in 1918 seven Lodges seceded and formed the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Craft working north of the Orinoco.
In November, 1919, three Lodges, namely, Asila de la Paz, Home of Peace, No. 13; Virtud y Order, No. 22, and Union No. 49, established the Grand Lodge of the East. This was installed February 9, 1920, and reorganized m January 9, 1921, and controls the Lodges south of the Orinoco and the Federal States east of the Republic.
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