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PASSING TO THE SECOND, OR FELLOWCRAFT DEGREE
Richard h. sands
MIDWAY IN MASONRY is the Fellowcraft Degree. It is midway since it marks the coming of maturity. Following the period of youth, with its problems of setting out into the future, comes the stage of maturity, when the lessons which have been learned are put into practice. The mind ranges over widening areas to discover new knowledge. So too the moral lessons of the First Degree, which underlie a strong and satisfying life, are followed in the Second Degree by the presentation of cultural and intellectual objectives. This sense of growth gives the degree a meaning and importance which enable it to stand on its own merits with the other two. It is the logical, possibly the inevitable, expression of the process by which the well-grounded life becomes a well-rounded life.
In this degree, a Mason is encouraged to advance his efforts toward his own education, particularly in the fields of history, science and the liberal arts, to prepare him to take his highest possible place in human society.
This factor of "progression" is at the center of Masonry, and is fundamental to the Fellowcraft Degree. It is evident in the term used to describe what is taking place. The Stewards announce that the Brother "wishes to receive more light in Masonry by being passed to the degree of Fellowcraft." Again and again this term "Passed" is used, by the Worshipful Master, the Senior Deacon, and other officers. It has no reference to the candidate's success in passing his examination. Needless to say, the examination should reveal a thorough comprehension of the First Degree. No inadequate work or forgotten item is allowed in building the foundation of any structure, especially in laying the foundation of a life. "Passed" is used in the same sense as when we speak of a person passing from youth to maturity. It expresses an active progression from one stage of life into the next. It is no sudden act, like passing through a door, but a process of development, like that of the cocoon becoming a butterfly. Life is never static, at rest. There is always more to come. One stage of living gradually merges into the next. Each man will develop differently, will understand each stage differently, will go at a different rate; but yet he goes. That is life, and the Second Degree is an expression of life.
Meaning of the term “Fellowcraft”
The name of the Degree, "Fellowcraft", is used in its finer meaning, as in fellow-man and fellow-citizen; that is, one who belongs within a certain group or fellowship. We also find it used to indicate the reaching of a high level of efficiency or knowledge, as with the status of Fellow of the American Physical Society, a highly-prized achievement in the field of Physics. As used in Masonry, "Fellow" includes both meanings. It signifies one who is within the brotherhood and who has also reached a worthy place within it.
The final part of the name of the degree, "craft", is simply an abbreviation for "craftsman". It means a skilled workman, one who is beyond his apprenticeship. Having learned the early lessons well, he can now take his place with the other craftsmen and, as an equal, build with them the structure upon which they are all working. A "fellow" among "craftsmen", he is not a "loner", as we might say to‑day, not one who attempts to build by himself, but one of a group of brethren working and building together, striving to complete the temple of their own lives. He has become a "Fellowcraft".
The Allegory of the Fellowcraft Degree
The Entered Apprentice Mason represents youth in the dawning of life. The Fellowcraft Mason represents man in his adulthood, in the prime of life, experienced, resourceful, and able to bear the burdens of life. An adult carries the responsibilities of life, the support of his family, the trials of business and even the destinies of our state or nation.
In the Fellowcraft degree you represented a man approaching King Solomon’s Temple – you passed between the pillars, climbed a flight of winding stairs and entered a place representing the Middle Chamber, where you received your wages of corn, wine and oil. How do we interpret this allegory?
The staircase lecture is symbolic and represents what a man learns through seeing, touching, tasting, hearing and smelling; in summary, what he gains from his experiences during the course of time. Furthermore, one man’s experiences are necessarily limited and he needs to learn from the experiences of others through education, so the importance of education is stressed in this degree and symbolized by the study of the liberal arts and sciences. The emphasis on Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy was symbolic of all that is meant by education. Furthermore, man needs that quality of judgement that enables him to adapt the knowledge to practical solutions of the problems of life; namely, wisdom. It is this advancement to wisdom that is symbolized by the arrival at the Middle Chamber via a fight of Winding Stairs (experience and education).
Note the change from the left or weaker side in the Entered Apprentice degree to the right or stronger side in the Fellowcraft degree.
The cabletow is again symbolic. The length of the cable tow is symbolic of one Mason’s ties to another. In early times, a Cabletow was considered to be the distance one could travel in an hour which was assumed to be about 3 miles. Today, the tie is assumed to be as long and as strong as a Mason’s ability permits.
Admission and Reception
Admitted into open Lodge in proper form, the candidate is immediately introduced to the changed emphasis in his Masonic outlook. He is permitted to enter "in the name of the Lord" The change in the Divine title expresses the idea of law and order within the universe, which possesses a basic harmony in all its parts and relationships.
The Angle of a Square is pressed to the candidate's Naked Right Breast. In the First Degree a Sharp Instrument was pressed to his Left Breast, that being nearest the heart, the symbol of the source of life and the seat of moral insight. The Right Breast is nearest the right hand, the hand necessary to the craftsman for all his work of building. This is the area of life now to be opened before him, and the words of warning given in the former degree are now changed to words of instruction, the first lesson needed for this new area of living.
All through this degree there is repeated reference to the square. The life that is actively reaching out in the quest for new knowledge and deeper understanding of the universe is not to do so haphazardly or aimlessly. The Mason is to keep within due bounds with all mankind. He is to order all his activities and searching in accordance with a definite standard that is outside and greater than himself, so that he always acts "on the square".
The square of virtue should be the rule and guide of your conduct in all your future transactions with mankind.
At the heart of the Fellowcraft degree is an obligation to abide by “the Golden Rule” in your relationship to your fellowman and particularly another Mason. The obligation is a life-long pledge by each Mason to all others, binding them by what the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, called “the Mystic Tie.” Taken on the Volume of the Sacred Law, it develops lasting friendships which are far beyond those in ordinary life.
Emphasis on the Volume of the Sacred Law
A reference to Old Testament history is found in the story of Jeptha. In him we see a somewhat glorified picture of a man who evidently possessed qualities of leadership, for even in exile he successfully organized a band of raiders. When his father's people, the Gileadites, found themselves in danger from the Ammonites to the south, they sought his aid. Jeptha accepted the leadership and won a decisive victory over the Ammonites. The Ephraimites, disgruntled because they had not been invited to share in the campaign, and in the resulting spoils, made war against Jeptha and were defeated. A test was used to determine which men were Ephraimites. It was not a countersign or password, but simply a word containing a sound which was alien to some dialects of Hebrew. Just as Canadians cannot pronounce "ou" but say "hoose" instead of "house" (or at least so Americans allege), just as French speakers cannot pronounce "th", but will say, "I stink dat dose udder ttree are coming wit' Pierre", in the same way an Ephraimite could not frame his mouth to pronounce the sound "sh", but would say "s". Those who failed the test were immediately slain; the Ephraimite army was completely destroyed. Scripture informs us that on this day there fell "forty and two thousand" of the Ephraimites. By a normal Hebrew turn of phrase, this means forty‑two thousand (see Judges 12:1‑6 for the story). Again we find that the Masonic ritual goes beyond Scripture and makes this word into a test adopted by King Solomon to prevent any unqualified person from reaching the Middle Chamber of the Temple. The word is said to denote "plenty". Its basic meaning is "stream in flood", and where there is water in Palestine there is a plentiful harvest. Its symbolic representation as "an ear of corn (barley or other grain) near a stream of water" is by association a natural one.
Besides emphasizing the importance of the Volume of the Sacred Law, it has to do with a leader who advances the cause of God's chosen people, Israel. The leader is portrayed as a man who looks to God for aid in a task to which he has been called, and God gives them success. Even Jeptha's test-word is a recognition that all the blessings of life come from God. The Fellowcraft, through this reference and story, is given a lesson on the recognition of God and on dependence upon Him for success in all those endeavors which a Mason should properly undertake.
The Situation of King Solomon’s Temple
The many references in this degree to the Temple of Solomon underline its central importance. It was built on holy ground, on a place already dedicated to God, just as a Mason begins the building of his Masonic life on the basis of a personal commitment to God that has already been made. The temple site was the summit of Mount Moriah, an outcropping of colorful rock that reaches far back in tradition and history. Here, it is said, Melchizedek, the priest‑king of Salem (later Jerusalem) gave ceremonial bread and wine to Abram (Genesis 14: 18‑20). Here Abraham, directed by God "to go to the land of Moriah" (Genesis 22:2), prepared to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice; but God, who does not desire human sacrifice, intervened and provided an animal as a substitute. Years later, Kind David purchased this spot from Araunah (2 Samuel 24:18) or Ornan the Jebusite (2 Chronicles 3:1), and built an altar to mark the end of the plague that came as a result of his taking a census of Israel. King Solomon’s Temple was built here, as were the later temples in Jerusalem. Today the spot is covered by the beautiful Mohammedan mosque, "The Dome of the Rock", 150 feet in diameter, built in three concentric circles surmounted by a great gold-covered dome.
The work began with the Temple placed to face the east, toward the rising sun (Ezekiel 8:16). The foundation stone was laid at the northeast angle, with the whole structure to be erected in relation to this beginning. The foundation stone of Masonry is of course Charity. On it the Mason builds the whole structure of his Masonic life.
Workmen and Wages
King Solomon employed some 153,600 workmen for the task of building. They were divided into groups: 70,000 burden bearers, 80,000 hewers of stone, and 3,600 overseeing the work of others (2 Chronicles 2:17‑18; cf. I Kings 5:15‑16, which gives 300 fewer overseers). They were apparently classified according to their abilities in craftsmanship: those who were beginning, those who had progressed to larger opportunity and achievement, and those who had become master craftsmen.
The remuneration was fittingly of a different nature for each group.
Those setting out on self-development received their wages in corn, wine, and oil. Corn, that is, any kind of grain which is commonly produced and used, is the basic food and the sustainer of life. Wine is to refresh and uplift the spirit. Oil occupied a special place in Israelite living. It was used with food, for lamps to give light, as a cosmetic, as an early medium of exchange, to consecrate the king, and in the sanctuary to consecrate all the utensils and the priests (Exodus 30:22‑33). This extensive use gave oil an almost sacramental meaning. Corn, wine, and oil thus covered the whole range of man's needs (see Psalm 104:15), as the man who enters the Masonic life brings all phases of his activity into the task of building and is rewarded in all aspects of his being.
In ancient craft Masonry the Fellowcrafts were paid in kind but in later years in the more substantial material of coin. Having advanced in wisdom and learning, the Mason's reward is in a more valuable form, one which may be used in a wider range of interests. Inasmuch as he has made such progress in the art of building, any return he now receives in the form of further knowledge and self-development is of increasing value, adding as it does to all that he has so far achieved.
The Working Tools
The tools with which the Fellowcraft works are the Square, the Level, and the Plumb. These are the "immovable jewels" worn by the Master and his Wardens and transferable to their successors. Even in the Entered Apprentice Degree they form an essential part of Masonry, though not yet tools for the beginner to use. He is provided with those implements which are useful for the rougher work of beginning any building, even as they are the basic requirements in the building of a life. The Working Tools of the Fellowcraft are for the more advanced work of inspection and testing. The Square is to test the work that has been finished, the Level is to make sure that every stone is laid correctly in line and that the wall is perfectly horizontal, while the Plumb is to enable the wall to be erected vertically true. So the Fellowcraft regulates all his actions by the Square, harmonizing his conduct with the principles of morality and virtue which he has accepted in his obligations. The Level reminds the Mason that all men are essentially equal and therefore to be dealt with as brethren and equals. In spite of necessary divisions and levels of responsibility which are essential if the work of the world is to be efficiently performed, there are times when the basic unity of life is very evident. This the Mason is to remember, and remain humble. The Plumb requires that every Mason walk uprightly among his fellows, that he is not to be swayed too greatly in any direction, but that he is to be temperate, dependable, considerate of others, and just. Thus the tools of the operative mason become symbols of proper conduct for the speculative Mason.
At the porch-way or entrance to the Temple were placed twin pillars. An entire book could be written about them. They were hollow and were cast in copper (not brass) in one piece in the clay of the Jordan Valley between Succoth, an ancient city near the River Jabbok, and Zeredatha, or more correctly Zarthan, a place associated with the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River by the Israelites on their first entering the land of Canaan (Joshua 3:16). The craftsman was Hiram Abiff, of Tyre.
Their size remains a question. The record in the Second Book of Chronicles, 3:15, states that they were 35 cubits high, in addition to the capital at the top, which was 5 cubits high. This gives a total height of approximately 68 feet: high, but not unreasonably so if we consider for instance the 60-foot columns of the Temple of Zeus still standing in Athens. The record in the First Book of Kings, 7:15, states however that the pillars were 18 cubits in height. This seems more likely, since the book was written at least 200 years earlier than Chronicles (cf. Jeremiah 52:21). We should also remember that the length of the cubit varied considerably at different periods of time depending on the standards of the particular nation that happened to be influencing or controlling Israel. The circumference of the pillars was 12 cubits; if we follow the interesting formula given in I Kings 7:23, where a diameter is stated to be one‑third of the circumference, this implies a diameter of four cubits. The copper cylinder forming these pillars was "four fingers", or a "hand's breadth", in thickness.
The reason for their presence before the temple entrance goes back to ancient religious practices. They were not attached to the temple, nor did they support anything. They served as lofty cressets or incense burners, and represented a god or a spirit attending a god. They recall the pillars or sacred poles dedicated to Astarte and Baal (female and male gods) which stood on the "high places" in Canaan. For centuries such a sacred pillar was part of the audience chamber of a King. He stood by it, "as the manner was", on any important occasion such as a coronation or at the making of a treaty (see 2 Kings 11:14; 23:3). We know that twin pillars stood before the temple of Melkarth in Tyre, dedicated to the winds and fire. With these Hiram Abif would be familiar; and the Israelite workmen would be familiar with the pillars of Astarte and of Baal, the recognition of which was almost a part of everyday living in the Israel of King Solomon's time (cf. I Kings 3:2).To the Israelite worshipper these pillars could suggest the ancient popular gods, but also much more. By a recurrent feature of Israelite thinking their God often appeared in a cloud of smoke and fire. God, making his covenant with Abram, indicated his presence by "a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch" (Genesis 15:17). The Divine protection and guidance were shown to the journeying Israelites in the wilderness through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21), while over the Wilderness Tabernacle was this same indication of the Divine presence (Exodus 40:38; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14; I Kings 8:10, 11). The prophet Isaiah saw God in the smoke from the altar that filled the temple, and at the close of the New Testament the Book of Revelation speaks of "the temple being filled with smoke from the glory of God" (15:8). When the brilliance of the rising sun was reflected from the lofty pillars before the temple, and the smoke from their incense formed an ascending cloud, it must have made an inspiring sight to the Israelite looking up toward his House of God. It could not help but remind him of the God of his fathers who had led his people through the wilderness to a Promised Land. This is the meaning given to the pillars by the Fellowcraft Lecture, a reminder that the God of the past is still a guiding presence today.
These pillars were given names. That on the left was called Boaz, meaning "in him is strength", that is, "in God is strength", the source of might and power. On the right was the pillar Jachin, meaning "firmness", or "he (God) will establish". The two names together denote "stability". Here the Ritual gives added meaning by saying that the two words together allude to the promise of God to David that he would establish his kingdom in strength. Such a conviction makes a true beginning for the Mason: through faith in God he shall be strong to build his life.
That one pillar, Jachin, should be named after an "assistant" to the High Priest is scarcely credible. Why would not the High Priest himself be honored, if anyone was to be so chosen? Why was only one pillar given a name in this way? Would not some other notable person, or King Solomon himself, give his name to the other pillar? We know that there were priests who bore this name (I Chronicles 9:10; 24:17; Nehemiah 11:10). It would appear that the Masonic Ritual has simply brought one of them into connection with the pillar of the same name.
It was a usual Hebrew convention to take the cardinal orientation from the rising sun. Thus the east was called the "front", the west the "rear", the north the "left", and the south the "right" (so, for example, Ezekiel 16:46). If this convention is followed, the pillar Boaz was to the north of the porch, that is, to the left as one looked out from the Temple. This answers many questions from Masons because the locations are not clearly delineated in the Ritual.
The elaborate decoration of the capitals which crowned the pillars is interesting for its symbolism. The ornamentation was also in metal work, in which Hiram Abif excelled. It included lilies (the widely used lotus lily of Egypt), with finely wrought network and chains of copper over which hung two rows of pomegranates, 100 to a row. The network, we are told, stands for unity, the lily for purity, and the pomegranate for plenty. This is acceptable, so long as we remember that there was no "whiteness" on the lily of the capitals, since they were of burnished copper. The lily is now a symbol of purity, but in ancient religions it was a symbol of life, especially of immortality.
The Porch and the Winding Stairs
After one passed the twin pillars he entered the Temple proper by way of a porch or vestibule. This represents the entranceway leading toward the center of reality and truth. King Solomon’s Temple was a long, narrow building, approached by ten broad steps. They led through a tall doorway into a small porch-way, with the main sanctuary, or nave, beyond it. Back of this was the smaller "inner sanctuary", or Holy of Holies, containing the Ten Commandments engraved on two stone tablets within the Ark of the Covenant, to symbolize the Law and the presence of God (I Kings 8:6‑9; 2 Chronicles 5:2‑7; Deuteronomy 10:5; for a variant tradition, see also Hebrews 9:4).
It is at the porch-way of the Temple that the Fellowcraft lecture departs from the Biblical account. In I Kings 6:8 it is stated that the entrance to the chambers was on the right, or south, side of the temple and that a Winding Stairs led up to the Middle Chamber. These chambers, on both sides and the rear of the Temple, would be for storage of vestments for priests and choirs, musical instruments, money received as gifts, oil, wine, bread, and other items used in the Temple ceremonies (see 2 Kings 10:22). They were not part of the Temple proper, and possibly the function of the Winding Stairs was to give access to them without going through the main part of the Temple. In any event, the entrance was evidently not by way of the porch.
In the Fellowcraft Lecture however the Winding Stairs lead from the porch up to the Middle Chamber, which is of special importance since here is to be found the symbol of the presence of the Supreme Being, the Grand Architect of the Universe Because of the sanctity of this chamber, no ordinary workman or apprentice was allowed to enter. Only those craftsmen able to give the Pass Word of a Fellowcraft were admitted. Evidently a purely symbolic use is being made of the Temple structure, and reference is made only to those portions of the Temple which are in keeping with the symbolism. Here the ritual declares that the man who desires to increase in knowledge and understanding, in favor with men and with God, must first be initiated into the way that leads to these virtues. Having accepted the implications of passing between the twin pillars, that is, recognizing God as the source and inspirer of strength for future endeavors and therefore being given the right to proceed, the candidate enters the porchway of the Temple. Here he is faced with the responsibility of seeking that which is higher. He must climb the Winding Stairs step by step until the summit is reached and the knowledge of ultimate Truth is found in the Middle Chamber.
The Symbolism of Numbers
The Winding Stairs consist of three, five, and seven or more steps. Certainly here Masonry is inventing details, for no mention is made in the Volume of the Sacred Law of any number or divisions of steps in the Winding Stairs. The numbers are deeply symbolic. Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher who lived about 530 B.C. at Croton in Italy, set forth the theory that numbers were at the basis of all human activity and possessed magical powers, something like those with which many people today invest the number 13. Masonry does not recognize that any power resides in numbers, but it does make an extensive use of them as symbols.
Most common is the number three. As a symbol of deity in Babylonian religion it represented the triad Anu, Enlil, and Ea, who comprised the three parts of the universe: the heaven, the earth, the abyss. In Egypt the honored triad was Isis, a goddess, Osiris, her husband, and Horus, their son. Familiar to every Christian is the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and the New Testament speaks of "three" again and again, from the three disciples of Jesus' inner circle and the three crosses on Calvary to the three gates on each side of the four‑square New Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation (21:12, 13). The equilateral triangle containing in its centre a Yodh, the first letter of the Hebrew word for God, is a symbol of Deity to all Jewish people and is familiar also within Masonry. So too is the triangle containing an eye: the all-seeing God who is always aware of us and of our needs. The three steps of the Winding Stairs further remind the Mason that every properly constituted lodge is ruled by three officers, the Worshipful Master and his two Wardens, who are representative of those Grand Masters. who directed the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, namely Solomon King of Israel, Hiram King of Tyre, and Hiram Abif. (see further above, pages X-23-25).
The next section of the Winding Stairs comprises five steps. This, also an odd number, was an ancient symbol of life. It is found elsewhere in King Solomon’s Temple. Among its furnishings were ten candlesticks and ten tables made of gold, five on the south side and five on the north (I Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:7, 8). Appropriately, it was a Five-pointed star which guided the Wise Men from the East to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Possibly the importance of "five" may be derived from the five fingers of the hand, expressing activity and creativity. Knowledge of the universe comes through the five senses—although the awareness of the five senses as such may not go back very far into antiquity. Nevertheless some modern Masonic rituals make the association of these with the five steps. To the Fellowcraft, five is the number who "hold" a Lodge: the Worshipful Master, his two Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary. It alludes to the five orders of architecture, the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. In the Entered Apprentice Degree the ionic, Doric, and Corinthian refer to Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. In the F.C. Degree no special significance is mentioned for the additional orders. They are simply two more, just as two Fellowcrafts are added to those who rule a Lodge. Yet much could be made of them. The Tuscan order is simplest of all resembling the Roman Doric, but without any decorative details. The Composite Order was the last to be developed and is the most complex of the classical orders, combining features of the Ionic and the Corinthian, as on the Arch of Titus in Rome. To the Mason, these orders suggest that progress in the building of a life will bring new forms, new experiences, with all events and all virtues, from the simplest to the most complicated, having their place and contributing their part.
The final flight of the Winding Stairs contains seven or more steps. Seven is the symbol of perfection and completion. Its sacredness quite possibly originated from the seven planets of ancient astronomy (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) and the seven stars of the Pleiades. To the Israelite this was the one sacred number above all others. The seventh day completed Creation, becoming the Sabbath. From this came the Sabbatical year (every seventh year) when lands were left fallow, Hebrew slaves were freed, and debts were cancelled (Exodus 21:2‑6; 23:10‑11; Deuteronomy 15:1‑6). The candlesticks in the nave of the Temple were seven‑branched, and today a large seven‑branched candlestick stands in a park of Jerusalem as a symbol of the new nation. Seven is applied to many items in the furnishing of the Temple, in the number of oxen and rams used for sacrifices, and in the number of priests to act for particular occasions, while seven ewe lambs were an important part of the covenant made by Abraham with Abimelech, the Philistine king (Leviticus 4:6; 14:16; Numbers 23:1, 29; Joshua 6:4; Genesis 21:28‑32). In the Book of Revelation it is again found as a prominent and symbolic number, in the seven churches, seven stars, seven spirits of God, seven golden lamp stands, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven plagues. To the Mason, a Lodge is made perfect or complete by the presence of seven members, the Senior and Junior Deacons being added to the above-mentioned five. It also parallels the seven or more years required by King Solomon to complete the Temple. The number likewise underlines the importance of the seven liberal arts and sciences.
The Liberal Arts and Sciences
These seven arts and sciences were originally called "liberal" because they were the studies deemed appropriate for a free man who had some pretensions to culture (Latin fiber, meaning "free"). They were contrasted with the narrowly practical techniques and manual dexterity which were more suitable to a skilled slave. The seven liberal arts were first defined by the ancient Romans, and they served as the basis of education throughout the Middle Ages. They too were arranged in such a way as to show a progression. The first of them is grammar, the science of expressing ideas in clear and easily understood language. It is much more than a rigid set of rules; it is a science, and also an art of giving and receiving facts and ideas in a way that is meaningful. Rhetoric is the presentation of a body of truth. Modern usage has tended to depreciate the value of the word, making it mean "talking for the sake of talking, speaking but saying little". Actually however rhetoric is putting expression into what is said and giving fresh meaning to it in the way it is said. Logic refers to the form of reasoning in which knowledge is communicated. If it is to be a "logical" presentation, it will follow well‑defined steps in its argument. The first three, then, all have to do with communication. Much has been said about the problems within modern society arising largely through the breakdown of communication between groups: youth and adult, children and parent, labor and management, people and government. If the arts and sciences of grammar, rhetoric, and logic were applied more consistently, communication would be more effective.
The remaining four of the liberal arts and sciences are all within the area of the exact sciences. Arithmetic is the science of numbers, measurement, and the relationships of these to one another and to all the physical elements of our world. Because of it, the amazing development of the computer has been possible. Calculations that would have taken hours or weeks of work for one man to complete are now handled with unerring accuracy in a few seconds. The computer however can deal only with those items that are fed into it and only in the way that they are fed into it. Man is still the master of the machine—and the Mason will remain the master of all the varied knowledge he acquires.
Geometry is the science of form, the form which things have and through which they can be recognized and understood. With its aid man can construct houses to live in, machines to do his work, temples and cathedrals to enrich and uplift his spirit. In these achievements the Mason is called to apply the square and compass and all the working tools available to him. Whether they be applied to the edifice of stone and timber or to the erection of his own spiritual temple, the same effort is required. The same God, the Grand Architect of the Universe, is present to guide and assist him.
Music is the science of sound, with its own laws of arrangement, form, contrast, balance, and counter‑balance. Through it the basic harmony of the universe and of all life is expressed. It provides one of the most uplifting, most enduring and satisfying interests open to people, whatever their station or fortune in life. Music often expresses what words cannot say. In the search for a broader and fuller life it is an inexhaustible field for exploration.
Astronomy is the science of arithmetic and geometry applied to the universe. The heavenly bodies, their movements and interrelationships, have been the concern of man ever since his mind first awakened and he could reason. Although they were viewed in the beginning with fear and awe which called forth a primitive worship, man has gone on to feel the impress of the beauty of the heavens and the earth, and to read in them deeper and richer truths than his early ancestors could discover. He has also felt the challenge to know more and more about this infinite universe. Answering that challenge, man has at last leaped from his native earth, going out to discover the secrets of space and of the composition of the planets. He is doing so through the aid of astronomy, perhaps the most ancient of all human studies. Masonry is a part of this absorbing task of understanding and using the universe which is all around us, for the lodge room is the world, resting under the canopy of heaven and at the center of the four cardinal points of the compass.
The seven liberal arts and sciences, any one of which can be a lifelong study for any man, are an integral part of the Winding Stairs leading toward a knowledge of that order and harmony which belong to the entire universe. These two, order and harmony, are the twin pillars which form the basis of all reality, of the universe, of man, of God himself—even as Jachin and Boaz stood at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple.
The Charge to the Newly Passed Candidate
Finally the Worshipful Master, in a "Charge to the Newly Passed Candidate", restates concisely the lessons expressed throughout the degree. Because of the supreme importance of what a man is within, rather than what he seems to be to the outside view, the Mason has a special obligation to increase in knowledge and virtue. Geometry is like Masonry in that it is an art as well as a science. It expresses the spirit of a man as well as measuring his virtues, binding all his life with its several parts into one consistent whole, even as the universe itself is one. The importance of this truth for the Fellowcraft is clearly marked by the title used for the Deity: the Lord.
Every Fellowcraft is to take his Masonic activities and efforts seriously. He is to attend the meetings of his lodge, to share in the business and discussions there, and always to conform to the ancient customs of the Craft, thereby helping to preserve them. Through this active and sympathetic participation in the life and work of his lodge, the Mason will be giving himself to the support of that which is good, not only for his Masonic brethren but for all people. He will to the fullest extent of his capabilities demonstrate the Golden Rule, of doing to others only what is desired for himself in the way of brotherhood and good will.
The candidate is now ready to search for the mysteries of nature and science and truth still unknown to him. The element of challenge in this degree is more marked than in the others. This accords well with the demands that come with maturity. Life has really begun; awareness of morality and virtue as principles by which to live has awakened. Now the discovery and interpretation of these in the universe, in man, and in God, call to the newly awakened mind to search and interpret for itself. It is not the youth of eighteen who discovers great truths. It is the man of mature years who reaches out, searching for new worlds to conquer within the world of nature and within the world of the mind and spirit, who discovers these great Truths!
In this degree King Solomon’s Temple is evidently the central symbol and agent for instruction. Just as the Temple was planned in its form and site and placing, just as workmen with their various amounts of skill brought the structure to a successful completion, so God has endowed every man with life and opportunity. Each man must build his own life, even though he builds with other workmen. The overall plan has been laid down in the virtues and the basic principles for worthwhile living, as well as in the Volume of the Sacred Law. Using these he can build with confidence. "An honest man's the noblest work of God", as the poet said, but to obtain a true and complete manhood he must still be forever reaching after the higher and the best, until he finds it. That highest and ultimate reality is God. Whoever attains this truth, and consciously lives as a workman of God, achieves a new kind of life—which is another whole chapter in the Masonic story.
A third point emphasized in the Fellowcraft Degree is the statement of the unity and harmony of all things. Man's researches into the mysteries of nature and his efforts to increase in the knowledge of truth and morality are one and the same endeavour. In other words the arbitrary division of life into sacred and secular is not a valid one. All is sacred, for God is the origin of all, the giver of all, an ever present guide through all the years, and the rewarder of them that seek him. Whether that knowledge is gained through mental searching and scientific effort or through Divine revelation, it is all part of the one great body of knowledge. This being so, each will act as a balance and corrective to the other. The knowledge and craftsmanship required to build the Temple at Jerusalem were God‑given fully as much as King Solomon's faith which inspired him to build and which guided him throughout the project. All this, perhaps, could be said more simply by stating that a man cannot keep his faith in one pocket and his daily life in another so that the two never meet, and still be an adequate or honest workman. Certainly a true Mason could not do so.
Keeping in mind the lessons he has learned and the basic unity and harmony of all the universe, the searcher need never fear the future. It may lead him at times into unfamiliar paths, yet he can go forward with confidence, pursuing his way up the Winding Stairs of knowledge. Eventually he will reach the Middle Chamber of the Temple and there come face to face with the source of all Truth, even the Grand Architect of the Universe. Thus begins a new chapter of knowledge, of experience and of finer living.
In the second Degree the candidate, still guided in his progress by the principles of moral truth, is led to contemplate the intellectual faculties, and to trace them from their development, through the paths of heavenly science, even unto the throne of God Himself. The secrets of nature and the principles of intellectual truth are then unveiled to his view; he learns to form a just estimate of those wondrous faculties with which God has endowed the being created after His own image, and to feel the duty which He has thereby imposed upon us, of cultivating those Divine attributes with the most diligent care and attention, that we may be enabled to show forth His glory and contribute to the happiness of mankind.
(Some Possible Answers can be found in Appendix C)
1. What stage of life is represented by a Fellowcraft Mason?
2. What is the fundamental theme of the Fellowcraft Degree?
3. In ancient operative Masonry, what was a Fellowcraft?
4. In modern speculative Freemasonry, what is a Fellowcraft?
5. In the preparation room and upon your reception, what changes did you observe from how you were prepared for the Entered Apprentice Degree?
6. How were you received into the Lodge room, and of what should this remind you?
7. What is the nature of your vows taken in the Fellowcraft obligation?
8. What is the nature of the symbolic penalty of the Fellowcraft degree and to what does this allude?
9. What are the Working Tools of a Fellowcraft?
10. What does each one test or try?
11. What are their symbolic meanings?
12. What are the names of the two pillars and what do they represent?
13. What do the Winding Stairs represent?
14. Does it have an additional symbolism?
15. What is the significance of the three steps on the Winding Stairs?
16. What do the five steps represent?
17. What do the seven steps represent?
18. What science is the most important to Masons?
19. How did you gain admission to the Middle Chamber?
20. What is symbolized by the Middle Chamber?
21. What is represented by the letter “G”?
22. What are the rights of a Fellowcraft Mason?
23. What responsibilities does a Fellowcraft Mason have?
24. What are the wages of a Fellowcraft and what do they represent?
25. What are the jewels of a Fellowcraft?
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Last modified: March 22, 2014