the symbolism of freemasonry
albert gallatin mackey
AB. The Hebrew word בא, AB, signifies "father," and was among the
Hebrews a title of honor. From it, by the addition of the possessive
pronoun, is compounded the word Abif, signifying "his father," and
applied to the Temple Builder.
ABIF. See Hiram Abif.
ABNET. The band or apron, made of fine linen, variously wrought, and
worn by the Jewish priesthood. It seems to have been borrowed directly
from the Egyptians, upon the representations of all of whose gods is to be
found a similar girdle. Like the zennaar, or sacred cord of the Brahmins,
and the white shield of the Scandinavians, it is the analogue of the
ACACIA, SPRIG OF. No symbol is more interesting to the masonic student
than the sprig of acacia.
It is the mimosa nilotica of Linnæus, the shittah of the
Hebrew writers, and grows abundantly in Palestine.
It is preeminently the symbol of the immortality of the soul.
It was for this reason planted by the Jews at the head of a grave.
This symbolism is derived from its never-fading character as an
It is also a symbol of innocence, and this symbolism is derived from
the double meaning of the word αϗαϗια, which in Greek signifies the plant,
and innocence; in this point of view Hutchinson has Christianized the
It is, lastly, a symbol of initiation.
This symbolism is derived from the fact that it is the sacred plant of
Masonry; and in all the ancient rites there were sacred plants, which
became in each rite the respective symbol of initiation into its
Mysteries; hence the idea was borrowed by Freemasonry.
ADONIA. The Mysteries of Adonis, principally celebrated in Phoenicia
and Syria. They lasted for two days, and were commemorative of the death
and restoration of Adonis. The ceremonies of the first day were funereal
in their character, and consisted in the lamentations of the initiates for
the death of Adonis, whose picture or image was carried in procession. The
second day was devoted to mirth and joy for the return of Adonis to life.
In their spirit and their mystical design, these Mysteries bore a very
great resemblance to the third degree of Masonry, and they are quoted to
show the striking analogy between the ancient and the modern initiations.
ADONIS. In mythology, the son of Cinyras and Myrrha, who was greatly
beloved by Venus, or Aphrodite. He was slain by a wild boar, and having
descended into the realm of Pluto, Persephone became enamoured of him.
This led to a contest for him between Venus and Persephone, which was
finally settled by his restoration to life upon the condition that he
should spend six months upon earth, and six months in the inferior
regions. In the mythology of the philosophers, Adonis was a symbol of the
sun; but his death by violence, and his subsequent restoration to life,
make him the analogue of Hiram Abif in the masonic system, and identify
the spirit of the initiation in his Mysteries, which was to teach the
second life with that of the third degree of Freemasonry.
AHRIMAN, or ARIMANES. In the religious system of Zoroaster, the
principle of evil, or darkness, which was perpetually opposing Ormuzd, the
principle of good, or light. See Zoroaster.
ALFADER. The father of all, or the universal Father. The principal
deity of the Scandinavian mythology.
The Edda gives twelve names of God, of which Alfader is the first and
most ancient, and is the one most generally used.
ALGABIL. One of the names of the Supreme Being among the Cabalists. It
signifies "the Master Builder," and is equivalent to the masonic epithet
of "Grand Architect of the Universe."
ALLEGORY. A discourse or narrative, in which there is a literal and a
figurative sense, a patent and a concealed meaning; the literal or patent
sense being intended by analogy or comparison to indicate the figurative
or concealed one. Its derivation from the Greek ἀλλος and ἀγορειν, to
say something different, that is, to say something where the language
is one thing, and the true meaning different, exactly expresses the
character of an allegory. It has been said in the text that there is no
essential difference between an allegory and a symbol. There is not in
design, but there is this in their character: An allegory may be
interpreted without any previous conventional agreement, but a symbol
cannot. Thus the legend of the third degree is an allegory evidently to be
interpreted as teaching a restoration to life; and this we learn from the
legend itself, without any previous understanding. The sprig of acacia is
a symbol of the immortality of the soul. But this we know only because
such meaning had been conventionally determined when the symbol was first
established. It is evident, then, that an allegory which is obscure is
imperfect. The enigmatical meaning should be easy of interpretation; and
hence Lemière, a French poet, has said, "L'allégorie habite un palais
diaphane"—Allegory lives in a transparent palace. All the legends
of Freemasonry are more or less allegorical, and whatever truth there may
be in some of them in an historical point of view, it is only as
allegories, or legendary symbols, that they are important.
ALL-SEEING EYE. A symbol of the third degree, of great antiquity. See
ANCIENT CRAFT MASONRY. The first three degrees of Freemasonry; viz.,
Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. They are so called
because they alone are supposed to have been practised by the ancient
craft. In the agreement between the two grand lodges of England in 1813,
the definition was made to include the Royal Arch degree. Now if by the
"ancient craft" are meant the workmen at the first temple, the definition
will be wrong, because the Royal Arch degree could have had no existence
until the time of the building of the second temple. But if by the
"ancient craft" is meant the body of workmen who introduced the rites of
Masonry into Europe in the early ages of the history of the Order, then it
will be correct; because the Royal Arch degree always, from its origin
until the middle of the eighteenth century, formed a part of the Master's.
"Ancient Craft Masonry," however, in this country, is generally understood
to embrace only the first three degrees.
ANDERSON. James Anderson, D.D., is celebrated as the compiler and
editor of "The Constitutions of the Freemasons," published by order of the
Grand Lodge of England, in 1723. A second edition was published by him in
1738. Shortly after, Anderson died, and the subsequent editions, of which
there are several, have been edited by other persons. The edition of 1723
has become exceedingly rare, and copies of it bring fancy prices among the
collectors of old masonic books. Its intrinsic value is derived only from
the fact that it contains the first printed copy of the "Old Charges," and
also the "General Regulations." The history of Masonry which precedes
these, and constitutes the body of the work, is fanciful, unreliable, and
pretentious to a degree that often leads to absurdity. The craft are
greatly indebted to Anderson for his labors in reorganizing the
institution, but doubtless it would have been better if he had contented
himself with giving the records of the Grand Lodge from 1717 to 1738 which
are contained in his second edition, and with preserving for us the
charges and regulations, which without his industry might have been lost.
No masonic writer would now venture to quote Anderson as authority for the
history of the Order anterior to the eighteenth century. It must also be
added that in the republication of the old charges in the edition of 1738,
he made several important alterations and interpolations, which justly
gave some offence to the Grand Lodge, and which render the second edition
of no authority in this respect.
ANIMAL WORSHIP. The worship of animals is a species of idolatry that
was especially practised by the ancient Egyptians. Temples were erected by
this people in their honor, in which they were fed and cared for during
life; to kill one of them was a crime punishable with death; and after
death, they were embalmed, and interred in the catacombs. This worship was
derived first from the earlier adoration of the stars, to certain
constellations of which the names of animals had been given; next, from an
Egyptian tradition that the gods, being pursued by Typhon, had concealed
themselves under the forms of animals; and lastly, from the doctrine of
the metempsychosis, according to which there was a continual circulation
of the souls of men and animals. But behind the open and popular exercise
of this degrading worship the priests concealed a symbolism full of
philosophical conceptions. How this symbolism was corrupted and
misinterpreted by the uninitiated people, is shown by Gliddon, and quoted
in the text.
APHANISM (Greek ἀφανίζω, to conceal). In each of the initiations
of the ancient Mysteries, there was a scenic representation of the death
or disappearance of some god or hero, whose adventures constituted the
legend of the Mystery. That part of the ceremony of initiation which
related to and represented the death or disappearance was called the
Freemasonry, which has in its ceremonial form been framed after the
model of these ancient Mysteries, has also its aphanism in the third
APORRHETA (Greek αποῤῥέτα). The holy things in the ancient Mysteries
which were known only to the initiates, and were not to be disclosed to
the profane, were called the aporrheta. What are the aporrheta of
Freemasonry? what are the arcana of which there can be no disclosure? is a
question that for some years past has given rise to much discussion among
the disciples of the institution. If the sphere and number of these
aporrheta be very considerably extended, it is evident that much valuable
investigation by public discussion of the science of Masonry will be
prohibited. On the other hand, if the aporrheta are restricted to only a
few points, much of the beauty, the permanency, and the efficacy of
Freemasonry, which are dependent on its organization as a secret and
mystical association, will be lost. We move between Scylla and Charybdis,
and it is difficult for a masonic writer to know how to steer so as, in
avoiding too frank an exposition of the principles of the Order, not to
fall by too much reticence into obscurity. The European Masons are far
more liberal in their views of the obligation of secrecy than the English
or the American. There are few things, indeed, which a French or German
masonic writer will refuse to discuss with the utmost frankness. It is now
beginning to be very generally admitted, and English and American writers
are acting on the admission, that the only real aporrheta of Freemasonry
are the modes of recognition, and the peculiar and distinctive ceremonies
of the Order; and to these last it is claimed that reference may be
publicly made for the purposes of scientific investigation, provided that
the reference be so made as to be obscure to the profane, and intelligible
only to the initiated.
APRON. The lambskin, or white leather apron, is the peculiar and
distinctive badge of a mason.
Its color must be white, and its material a lambskin.
It is a symbol of purity, and it derives this symbolism from its color,
white being symbolic of purity; from its material, the lamb having the
same symbolic character; and from its use, which is to preserve the
The apron, or abnet, worn by the Egyptian and the Hebrew priests, and
which has been considered as the analogue of the masonic apron, is
supposed to have been a symbol of authority; but the use of the apron in
Freemasonry originally as an implement of labor, is an evidence of the
derivation of the speculative science from an operative art.
APULEIUS. Lucius Apuleius, a Latin writer, born at Medaura, in Africa,
flourished in the reigns of the emperors Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius.
His most celebrated book, entitled "Metamorphoses, or the Golden Ass," was
written, Bishop Warburton thinks, for the express purpose of recommending
the ancient Mysteries. He had been initiated into many of them, and his
descriptions of them, and especially of his own initiation into those of
the Egyptian Isis, are highly interesting and instructive, and should be
read by every student of the science of masonic symbolism.
ARCHETYPE. The principal type, figure, pattern, or example, whereby and
whereon a thing is formed. In the science of symbolism, the archetype is
the thing adopted as a symbol, whence the symbolic idea is derived. Thus
we say the temple is the archetype of the lodge, because the former is the
symbol whence all the temple symbolism of the latter is derived.
ARCHITECTURE. The art which teaches the proper method of constructing
public and private edifices. It is to Freemasonry the "ars artium," the
art of arts, because to it the institution is indebted for its origin in
its present organization. The architecture of Freemasonry is altogether
related to the construction of public edifices, and principally sacred or
religious ones,—such as temples, cathedrals, churches,—and of these,
masonically, the temple of Solomon is the archetype. Much of the symbolism
of Freemasonry is drawn from the art of architecture. While the
improvements of Greek and Roman architecture are recognized in
Freemasonry, the three ancient orders, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian
are alone symbolized. No symbolism attaches to the Tuscan and Composite.
ARK OF THE COVENANT. One of the most sacred objects among the
Israelites. It was a chest made of shittim wood, or acacia, richly
decorated, forty-five inches long, and eighteen inches wide, and contained
the two tables of stone on which the ten commandments were engraved, the
golden pot that held manna, and Aaron's rod. It was placed in the holy of
holies, first of the tabernacle, and then of the temple. Such is its
masonic and scriptural history. The idea of this ark was evidently
borrowed from the Egyptians, in whose religious rites a similar chest or
coffer is to be found. Herodotus mentions several instances. Speaking of
the festival of Papremis, he says (ii. 63) that the image of the god was
kept in a small wooden shrine covered with plates of gold, which shrine
was conveyed in a procession of the priests and people from the temple
into a second sacred building. Among the sculptures are to be found bass
reliefs of the ark of Isis. The greatest of the religious ceremonies of
the Egyptians was the procession of the shrines mentioned in the Rosetta
stone, and which is often found depicted on the sculptures. These shrines
were of two kinds, one a canopy, but the other, called the great shrine,
was an ark or sacred boat. It was borne on the shoulders of priests by
means of staves passing through rings in its sides, and was taken into the
temple and deposited on a stand. Some of these arks contained, says
Wilkinson (Notes to Herod. II. 58, n. 9), the elements of
life and stability, and others the sacred beetle of the sun, overshadowed
by the wings of two figures of the goddess Thmei. In all this we see the
type of the Jewish ark. The introduction of the ark into the ceremonies of
Freemasonry evidently is in reference to its loss and recovery; and hence
its symbolism is to be interpreted as connected with the masonic idea of
loss and recovery, which always alludes to a loss of life and a recovery
of immortality. In the first temple of this life the ark is lost; in the
second temple of the future life it is recovered. And thus the ark of the
covenant is one of the many masonic symbols of the resurrection.
ARTS AND SCIENCES, LIBERAL. In the seventh century, and for many
centuries afterwards, all learning was limited to and comprised in what
were called the seven liberal arts and sciences; namely, grammar,
rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. The epithet
"liberal" is a fair translation of the Latin "ingenuus," which means
"free-born;" thus Cicero speaks of the "artes ingenuæ," or the arts
befitting a free-born man; and Ovid says in the well-known lines,—
"Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores nec sinit esse
To have studied carefully the liberal arts refines the manners, and
prevents us from being brutish. And Phillips, in his "New World of
Words" (1706), defines the liberal arts and sciences to be "such as are
fit for gentlemen and scholars, as mechanic trades and handicrafts for
meaner people." As Freemasons are required by their landmarks to be
free-born, we see the propriety of incorporating the arts of
free-born men among their symbols. As the system of Masonry derived its
present form and organization from the times when the study of these arts
and sciences constituted the labors of the wisest men, they have very
appropriately been adopted as the symbol of the completion of human
ASHLAR. In builders' language, a stone taken from the quarries.
ASHLAR, PERFECT. A stone that has been hewed, squared, and polished, so
as to be fit for use in the building. Masonically, it is a symbol of the
state of perfection attained by means of education. And as it is the
object of Speculative Masonry to produce this state of perfection, it may
in that point of view be also considered as a symbol of the social
character of the institution of Freemasonry.
ASHLAR, ROUGH. A stone in its rude and natural state. Masonically, it
is a symbol of men's natural state of ignorance. But if the perfect ashlar
be, in reference to its mode of preparation, considered as a symbol of the
social character of Freemasonry, then the rough ashlar must be considered
as a symbol of the profane world. In this species of symbolism, the rough
and perfect ashlars bear the same relation to each other as ignorance does
to knowledge, death to life, and light to darkness. The rough ashlar is
the profane, the perfect ashlar is the initiate.
ASHMOLE, ELIAS. A celebrated antiquary of England, who was born in
1617. He has written an autobiography, or rather diary of his life, which
extends to within eight years of his death. Under the date of October 16,
1646, he has made the following entry: "I was made a Free-Mason at
Warrington, in Lancashire, with Col. Henry Mainwaring, of Carticham, in
Cheshire; the names of those that were then at the lodge: Mr. Richard
Penket, warden; Mr. James Collier, Mr. Richard Sankey, Henry Littler, John
Ellam and Hugh Brewer." Thirty-six years afterwards, under date of March
10, 1682, he makes the following entry: "I received a summons to appear at
a lodge to be held the next day at Masons' Hall, in London. 11.
Accordingly I went, and about noon was admitted into the fellowship of
Freemasons by Sir William Wilson, Knight, Captain Richard Borthwick, Mr.
William Woodman, Mr. William Grey, Mr. Samuel Taylour, and Mr. William
Wise. I was the senior fellow among them (it being thirty-five years since
I was admitted); there was present beside myself the fellows after named:
Mr. Thomas Wise, master of the Masons' Company this year; Mr. Thomas
Shorthose, Mr. Thomas Shadbolt, ---- Waidsfford, Esq., Mr. Nicholas Young,
Mr. John Shorthose, Mr. William Hamon, Mr. John Thompson, and Mr. William
Stanton. We all dined at the Half-Moon Tavern, in Cheapside, at a noble
dinner prepared at the charge of the new-accepted Masons." The titles of
some of the persons named in these two receptions confirm what is said in
the text, that the operative was at that time being superseded by the
speculative element. It is deeply to be regretted that Ashmole did not
carry out his projected design of writing a history of Freemasonry, for
which it is said that he had collected abundant materials. His History of
the Order of the Garter shows what we might have expected from his
treatment of the masonic institution.
ASPIRANT. One who aspires to or seeks after the truth. The title given
to the candidate in the ancient Mysteries.
ATHELSTAN. King of England, who ascended the throne in 924. Anderson
cites the old constitutions as saying that he encouraged the Masons, and
brought many over from France and elsewhere. In his reign, and in the year
926, the celebrated General Assembly of the Craft was held in the city of
York, with prince Edward, the king's brother, for Grand Master, when new
constitutions were framed. From this assembly the York Rite dates its
AUTOPSY (Greek αὐτοψία, a seeing with one's own eyes). The
complete communication of the secrets in the ancient Mysteries, when the
aspirant was admitted into the sacellum, or most sacred place, and was
invested by the Hierophant with all the aporrheta, or sacred things, which
constituted the perfect knowledge of the initiate. A similar ceremony in
Freemasonry is called the Rite of Intrusting.
AUM. The triliteral name of God in the Brahminical mysteries, and
equivalent among the Hindoos to the tetragrammaton of the Jews. In one of
the Puranas, or sacred books of the Hindoos, it is said, "All the rites
ordained in the Vedas, the sacrifices to fire, and all other solemn
purifications, shall pass away; but that which shall never pass away is
the word AUM, for it is the symbol of the Lord of all things."
BABEL. The biblical account of the dispersion of mankind in consequence
of the confusion of tongues at Babel, has been incorporated into the
history of Masonry. The text has shown the probability that the pure and
abstract principles of the Primitive Freemasonry had been preserved by
Noah and his immediate descendants; and also that, as a consequence of the
dispersion, these principles had been lost or greatly corrupted by the
Gentiles, who were removed from the influence and teachings of the great
Now there was in the old rituals a formula in the third degree,
preserved in some places to the present day, which teaches that the
candidate has come from the tower of Babel, where language was
confounded and Masonry lost, and that he is travelling to the
threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where language was restored and
Masonry found. An attentive perusal of the nineteen propositions set
forth in the preliminary chapter of this work will furnish the reader with
a key for the interpretation of this formula. The principles of the
Primitive Freemasonry of the early priesthood were corrupted or lost at
Babel by the defection of a portion of mankind from Noah, the conservator
of those principles. Long after, the descendants of this people united
with those of Noah at the temple of Solomon, whose site was the
threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, from whom it had been bought by
David; and here the lost principles were restored by this union of the
Spurious Freemasons of Tyre with the Primitive Freemasons of Jerusalem.
And this explains the latter clause of the formula.
BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY. When the city and temple of Jerusalem were
destroyed by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, and the inhabitants conveyed as
captives to Babylon, we have a right to suppose,—that is to say, if there
be any truth in masonic history, the deduction is legitimate,—that among
these captives were many of the descendants of the workmen at the temple.
If so, then they carried with them into captivity the principles of
Masonry which they had acquired at home, and the city of Babylon became
the great seat of Speculative Masonry for many years. It was during the
captivity that the philosopher Pythagoras, who was travelling as a seeker
after knowledge, visited Babylon. With his ardent thirst for wisdom, he
would naturally hold frequent interviews with the leading Masons among the
Jewish captives. As he suffered himself to be initiated into the Mysteries
of Egypt during his visit to that country, it is not unlikely that he may
have sought a similar initiation into the masonic Mysteries. This would
account for the many analogies and resemblances to Masonry that we find in
the moral teachings, the symbols, and the peculiar organization of the
school of Pythagoras—resemblances so extraordinary as to have justified,
or at least excused, the rituals for calling the sage of Samos "our
BACCHUS. One of the appellations of the "many-named" god Dionysus. The
son of Jupiter and Semele was to the Greeks Dionysus, to the Romans
BARE FEET. A symbol of reverence when both feet are uncovered.
Otherwise the symbolism is modern; and from the ritualistic explanation
which is given in the first degree, it would seem to require that the
single bare foot should be interpreted as the symbol of a covenant.
BLACK. Pythagoras called this color the symbol of the evil principle in
nature. It was equivalent to darkness, which is the antagonist of light.
But in masonic symbolism the interpretation is different. There, black is
a symbol of grief, and always refers to the fate of the temple-builder.
BRAHMA. In the mythology of the Hindoos there is a trimurti, or
trinity, the Supreme Being exhibiting himself in three manifestations; as,
Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer,—the
united godhead being a symbol of the sun.
Brahma was a symbol of the rising sun, Siva of the sun at meridian, and
Vishnu of the setting sun.
BRUCE. The introduction of Freemasonry into Scotland has been
attributed by some writers to King Robert Bruce, who is said to have
established in 1314 the Order of Herodom, for the reception of those
Knights Templars who had taken refuge in his dominions from the
persecutions of the Pope and the King of France. Lawrie, who is excellent
authority for Scottish Masonry, does not appear, however, to give any
credit to the narrative. Whatever Bruce may have done for the higher
degrees, there is no doubt that Ancient Craft Masonry was introduced into
Scotland at an earlier period. See Kilwinning. Yet the text is
right in making Bruce one of the patrons and encouragers of Scottish
BRYANT. Jacob Bryant, frequently quoted in this work, was a
distinguished English antiquary, born in the year 1715, and deceased in
1804. His most celebrated work is "A New System of Ancient Mythology,"
which appeared in 1773-76. Although objectionable on account of its too
conjectural character, it contains a fund of details on the subject of
symbolism, and may be consulted with advantage by the masonic student.
BUILDER. The chief architect of the temple of Solomon is often called
"the Builder." But the word is also applied generally to the craft; for
every Speculative Mason is as much a builder as was his operative
predecessor. An American writer (F.S. Wood, of Arkansas) thus alludes to
this symbolic idea. "Masons are called moral builders. In their rituals,
they declare that a more noble and glorious purpose than squaring stones
and hewing timbers is theirs, fitting immortal nature for that spiritual
building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." And he adds, "The
builder builds for a century; masons for eternity." In this sense, "the
builder" is the noblest title that can be bestowed upon a mason.
BUNYAN, JOHN. Familiar to every one as the author of the "Pilgrim's
Progress." He lived in the seventeenth century, and was the most
celebrated allegorical writer of England. His work entitled "Solomon's
Temple Spiritualized" will supply the student of masonic symbolism with
many valuable suggestions.
CABALA. The mystical philosophy of the Jews. The word which is derived
from a Hebrew root, signifying to receive, has sometimes been used
in an enlarged sense, as comprehending all the explanations, maxims, and
ceremonies which have been traditionally handed down to the Jews; but in
that more limited acceptation, in which it is intimately connected with
the symbolic science of Freemasonry, the cabala may be defined to be a
system of philosophy which embraces certain mystical interpretations of
Scripture, and metaphysical speculations concerning the Deity, man, and
spiritual beings. In these interpretations and speculations, according to
the Jewish doctors, were enveloped the most profound truths of religion,
which, to be comprehended by finite beings, are obliged to be revealed
through the medium of symbols and allegories. Buxtorf (Lex. Talm.) defines
the Cabala to be a secret science, which treats in a mystical and
enigmatical manner of things divine, angelical, theological, celestial,
and metaphysical, the subjects being enveloped in striking symbols and
secret modes of teaching.
CABALIST. A Jewish philosopher. One who understands and teaches the
doctrines of the Cabala, or the Jewish philosophy.
CABIRI. Certain gods, whose worship was first established in the Island
of Samothrace, where the Cabiric Mysteries were practised until the
beginning of the Christian era. They were four in number, and by some are
supposed to have referred to Noah and his three sons. In the Mysteries
there was a legend of the death and restoration to life of Atys, the son
of Cybele. The candidate represented Cadmillus, the youngest of the Cabiri,
who was slain by his three brethren. The legend of the Cabiric Mysteries,
as far as it can be understood from the faint allusions of ancient
authors, was in spirit and design very analogous to that of the third
degree of Masonry.
CADMILLUS. One of the gods of the Cabiri, who was slain by his
brothers, on which circumstance the legend of the Cabiric or Samothracian
Mysteries is founded. He is the analogue of the Builder in the Hiramic
legend of Freemasonry. 256
CAIRNS. Heaps of stones of a conical form, erected by the Druids. Some
suppose them to have been sepulchral monuments, others altars. They were
undoubtedly of a religious character, since sacrificial fires were lighted
upon them, and processions were made around them. These processions were
analogous to the circumambulations in Masonry, and were conducted like
them with reference to the apparent course of the sun.
CASSIA. A gross corruption of Acacia. The cassia is an aromatic
plant, but it has no mystical or symbolic character.
CELTIC MYSTERIES. The religious rites of ancient Gaul and Britain, more
familiarly known as Druidism, which see.. 109
CEREMONIES. The outer garments which cover and adorn Freemasonry as
clothing does the human body.
Although ceremonies give neither life nor truth to doctrines or
principles, yet they have an admirable influence, since by their use
certain things are made to acquire a sacred character which they would not
otherwise have had; and hence Lord Coke has most wisely said that "prudent
antiquity did, for more solemnity and better memory and observation of
that which is to be done, express substances under ceremonies.".
CERES. Among the Romans the goddess of agriculture; but among the more
poetic Greeks she became, as Demeter, the symbol of the prolific earth.
CHARTER OF COLOGNE. A masonic document of great celebrity, but not of
unquestioned authenticity. It is a declaration or affirmation of the
design and principles of Freemasonry, issued in the year 1535, by a
convention of masons who had assembled in the city of Cologne. The
original is in the Latin language. The assertors of the authenticity of
the document claim that it was found in the chest of a lodge at Amsterdam
in 1637, and afterwards regularly transmitted from hand to hand until the
year 1816, when it was presented to Prince Frederick of Nassau, through
whom it was at that time made known to the masonic world. Others assert
that it is a forgery, which was perpetrated about the year 1816. Like the
Leland manuscript, it is one of those vexed questions of masonic literary
history over which so much doubt has been thrown, that it will probably
never be satisfactorily solved. For a translation of the charter, and
copious explanatory notes, by the author of this work, the reader is
referred to the "American Quarterly Review of Freemasonry," vol. ii. p.
CHRISTIANIZATION OF FREEMASONRY. The interpretation of its symbols from
a Christian point of view. This is an error into which Hutchinson and
Oliver in England, and Scott and one or two others of less celebrity in
this country, have fallen. It is impossible to derive Freemasonry from
Christianity, because the former, in point of time, preceded the latter.
In fact, the symbols of Freemasonry are Solomonic, and its religion was
derived from the ancient priesthood.
The infusion of the Christian element was, however, a natural result of
surrounding circumstances; yet to sustain it would be fatal to the
cosmopolitan character of the institution.
Such interpretation is therefore modern, and does not belong to the
CIRCULAR TEMPLES. These were used in the initiations of the religion of
Zoroaster. Like the square temples of Masonry, and the other Mysteries,
they were symbolic of the world, and the symbol was completed by making
the circumference of the circle a representation of the zodiac.
CIRCUMAMBULATION. The ceremony of perambulating the lodge, or going in
procession around the altar, which was universally practised in the
ancient initiations and other religious ceremonies, and was always
performed so that the persons moving should have the altar on their right
hand. The rite was symbolic of the apparent daily course of the sun from
the east to the west by the way of the south, and was undoubtedly derived
from the ancient sun-worship.
CIVILIZATION. Freemasonry is a result of civilization, for it exists in
no savage or barbarous state of society; and in return it has proved, by
its social and moral principles, a means of extending and elevating the
civilization which gave it birth.
Freemasonry is therefore a type of civilization, bearing the same
relation to the profane world that civilization does to the savage state.
COLLEGES OF ARTIFICERS. The Collegia Fabrorum, or Workmen's
Colleges, were established in Rome by Numa, who for this purpose
distributed all the artisans of the city into companies, or colleges,
according to their arts and trades. They resembled the modern
corporations, or guilds, which sprang up in the middle ages. The
rule established by their founder, that not less than three could
constitute a college,—"tres faciunt collegium,"—has been retained
in the regulations of the third degree of masonry, to a lodge of which
these colleges bore other analogies.
COLOGNE, CHARTER OF. See Charter of Cologne.
COMMON GAVEL. See Gavel.
CONSECRATION. The appropriating or dedicating, with certain ceremonies,
anything to sacred purposes or offices, by separating it from common use.
Masonic lodges, like ancient temples and modern churches, have always been
consecrated. Hobbes, in his Leviathan (p. iv. c. 44), gives the
best definition of this ceremony. "To consecrate is in Scripture to offer,
give, or dedicate, in pious and decent language and gesture, a man, or any
other thing, to God, by separating it from common use.".
CONSECRATION, ELEMENTS OF. Those things, the use of which in the
ceremony as constituent and elementary parts of it, are necessary to the
perfecting and legalizing of the act of consecration. In Freemasonry,
these elements of consecration are corn, wine, and
CORN. One of the three elements of masonic consecration, and as a
symbol of plenty it is intended, under the name of the "corn of
nourishment," to remind us of those temporal blessings of life, support,
and nourishment which we receive from the Giver of all good.
CORNER STONE. The most important stone in the edifice, and in its
symbolism referring to an impressive ceremony in the first degree of
The ancients laid it with peculiar ceremonies, and among the Oriental
nations it was the symbol of a prince, or chief.
It is one of the most impressive symbols of Masonry.
It is a symbol of the candidate on his initiation.
As a symbol it is exclusively masonic, and confined to a temple origin.
COVERING OF THE LODGE. Under the technical name of the "clouded canopy
or starry-decked heavens," it is a symbol of the future world,—of the
celestial lodge above, where the G.A.O.T.U. forever presides, and which
constitutes the "foreign country" which every mason hopes to reach.
CREUZER. George Frederick Creuzer, who was born in Germany in 1771, and
was a professor at the University of Heidelberg, devoted himself to the
study of the ancient religions, and with profound learning, established a
peculiar system on the subject. Many of his views have been adopted in the
text of the present work. His theory was, that the religion and mythology
of the ancient Greeks were borrowed from a far more ancient people,—a body
of priests coming from the East,—who received them as a revelation. The
myths and traditions of this ancient people were adopted by Hesiod, Homer,
and the later poets, although not without some misunderstanding of them,
and they were finally preserved in the Mysteries, and became subjects of
investigation for the philosophers. This theory Creuzer has developed in
his most important work, entitled "Symbolik und Mythologie der alten
Völker, besonders der Greichen," which was published at Leipsic in 1819.
There is no translation of this work into English, but Guigniaut published
at Paris, in 1824, a paraphrastic translation of it, under the title of
"Religions de l'Antiquité considérées principalement dans leur Formes
Symboliques et Mythologiques." Creuzer's views throw much light on the
symbolic history of Freemasonry.
CROSS. No symbol was so universally diffused at an early period as the
cross. It was, says Faber (Cabir. ii. 390), a symbol throughout the pagan
world long previous to its becoming an object of veneration to Christians.
In ancient symbology it was a symbol of eternal life. M. de Mortillet, who
in 1866 published a work entitled "Le Signe de la Croix avant le
Christianisme," found in the very earliest epochs three principal symbols
of universal occurrences; viz., the circle, the pyramid, and
the cross. Leslie (Man's Origin and Destiny, p. 312), quoting from
him in reference to the ancient worship of the cross, says "It seems to
have been a worship of such a peculiar nature as to exclude the worship of
idols." This sacredness of the crucial symbol may be one reason why its
form was often adopted, especially by the Celts in the construction of
their temples, though I have admitted in the text the commonly received
opinion that in cross-shaped temples the four limbs of the cross referred
to the four elements. But in a very interesting work lately published—"The
Myths of the New World" (N.Y., 1863)—Mr. Brinton assigns another
symbolism. "The symbol," says this writer, "that beyond all others has
fascinated the human mind, THE CROSS, finds here its source and meaning.
Scholars have pointed out its sacredness in many natural religions, and
have reverently accepted it as a mystery, or offered scores of
conflicting, and often debasing, interpretations. It is but another
symbol of the four cardinal points, the four winds of heaven. This
will luminously appear by a study of its use and meaning in America." (p.
95.) And Mr. Brinton gives many instances of the religious use of the
cross by several of the aboriginal tribes of this continent, where the
allusion, it must be confessed, seems evidently to be to the four cardinal
points, or the four winds, or four spirits, of the earth. If this be so,
and if it is probable that a similar reference was adopted by the Celtic
and other ancient peoples, then we would have in the cruciform temple as
much a symbolism of the world, of which the four cardinal points
constitute the boundaries, as we have in the square, the cubical, and the
CTEIS. A representation of the female generative organ. It was, as a
symbol, always accompanied by the phallus, and, like that symbol, was
extensively venerated by the nations of antiquity. It was a symbol of the
prolific powers of nature. See Phallus.
CUBE. A geometrical figure, consisting of six equal sides and six equal
angles. It is the square solidified, and was among the ancients a symbol
of truth. The same symbolism is recognized in Freemasonry.
DARKNESS. It denotes falsehood and ignorance, and was a very universal
symbol among the nations of antiquity.
In all the ancient initiations, the aspirant was placed in darkness for
a period differing in each,—among the Druids for three days, among the
Greeks for twenty-seven, and in the Mysteries of Mithras for fifty.
In all of these, as well as in Freemasonry, darkness is the symbol of
initiation not complete.
DEATH. Because it was believed to be the entrance to a better and
eternal life, which was the dogma of the Mysteries, death became the
symbol of initiation; and hence among the Greeks the same word signified
to die, and to be initiated. In the British Mysteries, says
Davies (Mythol. of the British Druids), the novitiate passed the river of
death in the boat of Garanhir, the Charon of the Greeks; and before he
could be admitted to this privilege, it was requisite that he should have
been mystically buried, as well as mystically dead.
DEFINITION OF FREEMASONRY. The definition quoted in the text, that it
is a science of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols,
is the one which is given in the English lectures.
But a more comprehensive and exact definition is, that it is a science
which is engaged in the search after divine truth.
DELTA. In the higher degrees of Masonry, the triangle is so called
because the Greek letter of that name is of a triangular form.
It is a symbol of Deity, because it is the first perfect figure in
geometry; it is the first figure in which space is enclosed by lines.
DEMETER. Worshipped by the Greeks as the symbol of the prolific earth.
She was the Ceres of the Romans. To her is attributed the institution of
the Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece, the most popular of all the ancient
DESIGN OF FREEMASONRY. It is not charity or alms-giving.
Nor the cultivation of the social sentiment; for both of these are
merely incidental to its organization.
But it is the search after truth, and that truth is the unity of God,
and the immortality of the soul.
DIESEAL. A term used by the Druids to designate the circumambulation
around the sacred cairns, and is derived from two words signifying "on the
right of the sun," because the circumambulation was always in imitation of
the course of the sun, with the right hand next to the cairn or altar.
DIONYSIAC ARTIFICERS. An association of architects who possessed the
exclusive privilege of erecting temples and other public buildings in Asia
Minor. The members were distinguished from the uninitiated inhabitants by
the possession of peculiar marks of recognition, and by the secret
character of their association. They were intimately connected with the
Dionysiac Mysteries, and are supposed to have furnished the builders for
the construction of the temple of Solomon.
DIONYSIAC MYSTERIES. In addition to what is said in the text, I add the
following, slightly condensed, from the pen of that accomplished writer,
Albert Pike: "The initiates in these Mysteries had preserved the ritual
and ceremonies that accorded with the simplicity of the earliest ages, and
the manners of the first men. The rules of Pythagoras were followed there.
Like the Egyptians, who held wool unclean, they buried no initiate in
woollen garments. They abstained from bloody sacrifices, and lived on
fruits or vegetables. They imitated the life of the contemplative sects of
the Orient. One of the most precious advantages promised by their
initiation was to put man in communion with the gods by purifying his soul
of all the passions that interfere with that enjoyment, and dim the rays
of divine light that are communicated to every soul capable of receiving
them. The sacred gates of the temple, where the ceremonies of initiation
were performed, were opened but once in each year, and no stranger was
allowed to enter. Night threw her veil over these august Mysteries. There
the sufferings of Dionysus were represented, who, like Osiris, died,
descended to hell, and rose to life again; and raw flesh was distributed
to the initiates, which each ate in memory of the death of the deity torn
in pieces by the Titans."
DIONYSUS. Or Bacchus; mythologically said to be the son of Zeus and
Semele. In his Mysteries he was identified with Osiris, and regarded as
the sun. His Mysteries prevailed in Greece, Rome, and Asia, and were
celebrated by the Dionysiac artificers—those builders who united with the
Jews in the construction of King Solomon's temple. Hence, of all the
ancient Mysteries, they are the most interesting to the masonic student.
DISSEVERANCE. The disseverance of the operative from the speculative
element of Freemasonry occurred at the beginning of the eighteenth
DISCALCEATION, RITE OF. The ceremony of uncovering the feet, or taking
off the shoes; from the Latin discalceare. It is a symbol of
reverence. See Bare Feet.
DRUIDICAL MYSTERIES. The Celtic Mysteries celebrated in Britain and
Gaul. They resembled, in all material points, the other mysteries of
antiquity, and had the same design. The aspirant was subjected to severe
trials, underwent a mystical death and burial in imitation of the death of
the god Hu, and was eventually enlightened by the communication to him of
the great truths of God and immortality, which it was the object of all
the Mysteries to teach.
DUALISM. A mythological and philosophical doctrine, which supposes the
world to have been always governed by two antagonistic principles,
distinguished as the good and the evil principle. This doctrine pervaded
all the Oriental religions, and its influences are to be seen in the
system of Speculative Masonry, where it is developed in the symbolism of
Light and Darkness.
EAST. That part of the heavens where the sun rises; and as the source
of material light to which we figuratively apply the idea of intellectual
light, it has been adopted as a symbol of the Order of Freemasonry. And
this symbolism is strengthened by the fact that the earliest learning and
the earliest religion came from the east, and have ever been travelling to
In Freemasonry, the east has always been considered the most sacred of
the cardinal points, because it is the place where light issues; and it
was originally referred to the primitive religion, or sun-worship. But in
Freemasonry it refers especially to that east whence an ancient priesthood
first disseminated truth to enlighten the world; wherefore the east is
masonically called "the place of light."
EGG. The mundane egg is a well-recognized symbol of the world. "The
ancient pagans," says Faber, "in almost every part of the globe, were wont
to symbolize the world by an egg. Hence this symbol is introduced into the
cosmogony of nearly all nations; and there are few persons, even among
those who have not made mythology their study, to whom the Mundane Egg
is not perfectly familiar. It was employed not only to represent the
earth, but also the universe in its largest extent." Origin of Pag.
Idolatry, i. 175.
EGG AND LUNETTE. The egg, being a symbol not only of the resurrection,
but also of the world rescued from destruction by the Noachic ark, and the
lunette, or horizontal crescent, being a symbol of the Great Father,
represented by Noah, the egg and lunette combined, which was the
hieroglyphic of the god Lunus, at Heliopolis, was a symbol of the world
proceeding from the Great Father.
EGYPT. Egypt has been considered as the cradle not only of the
sciences, but of the religions of the ancient world. Although a monarchy,
with a king nominally at the head of the state, the government really was
in the hands of the priests, who were the sole depositaries of learning,
and were alone acquainted with the religious formularies that in Egypt
controlled all the public and private actions of the life of every
ELEPHANTA. An island in the Bay of Bombay, celebrated for the
stupendous caverns artificially excavated out of the solid rock, which
were appropriated to the initiations in the ancient Indian Mysteries.
ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES. Of all the Mysteries of the ancients these were
the most popular. They were celebrated at the village of Eleusis, near
Athens, and were dedicated to Demeter. In them the loss and the
restoration of Persephone were scenically represented, and the doctrines
of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul were taught. See
ENTERED APPRENTICE. The first degree of Ancient Craft Masonry,
analogous to the aspirant in the Lesser Mysteries.
It is viewed as a symbol of childhood, and is considered as a
preparation and purification for something higher.
EPOPT. (From the Greek ἐπόπτης, an eye witness.) One who, having
been initiated in the Greater Mysteries of paganism, has seen the
ERA OF MASONRY. The legendary statement that the origin of Masonry is
coeval with the beginning of the world, is only a philosophical myth to
indicate the eternal nature of its principles.
ERICA. The tree heath; a sacred plant among the Egyptians, and used in
the Osirian Mysteries as the symbol of immortality, and the analogue of
the masonic acacia.
ESSENES. A society or sect of the Jews, who combined labor with
religious exercises, whose organization partook of a secret character, and
who have been claimed to be the descendants of the builders of the temple
EUCLID. The masonic legend which refers to Euclid is altogether
historically untrue. It is really a philosophical myth intended to convey
a masonic truth.
EURESIS. (From the Greek εὔρεσις, a discovery.) That part of the
initiation in the ancient Mysteries which represented the finding of the
body of the god or hero whose death was the subject of the initiation.
The euresis has been adopted in Freemasonry, and forms an essential
part of the ritual of the third degree.
EVERGREEN. A symbol of the immortality of the soul.
Planted by the Hebrews and other ancient peoples at the heads of
For this purpose the Hebrews preferred the acacia, because its wood was
incorruptible, and because, as the material of the ark, it was already
considered as a sacred plant.
EYE, ALL-SEEING. A symbol of the omniscient and watchful providence of
God. It is a very ancient symbol, and is supposed by some to be a relic of
the primitive sun-worship. Volney says (Les Ruines, p. 186) that in
most of the ancient languages of Asia, the eye and the sun
are expressed by the same word. Among the Egyptians the eye was the symbol
of their supreme god, Osiris, or the sun.
FABER. The works of the Rev. G.S. Faber, on the Origin of Pagan
Idolatry, and on the Cabiri, are valuable contributions to the science of
mythology. They abound in matters of interest to the investigator of
masonic symbolism and philosophy, but should be read with a careful view
of the preconceived theory of the learned author, who refers everything in
the ancient religions to the influences of the Noachic cataclysm, and the
arkite worship which he supposes to have resulted from it.
FELLOW CRAFT. The second degree of Ancient Craft Masonry, analogous to
the mystes in the ancient Mysteries.
The symbol of a youth setting forth on the journey of life.
FETICHISM. The worship of uncouth and misshapen idols, practised only
by the most ignorant and debased peoples, and to be found at this day
among some of the least civilized of the negro tribes of Africa. "Their
fetiches," says Du Chaillu, speaking of some of the African races,
"consisted of fingers and tails of monkeys; of human hair, skin, teeth,
bones; of clay, old nails, copper chains; shells, feathers, claws, and
skulls of birds; pieces of iron, copper, or wood; seeds of plants, ashes
of various substances, and I cannot tell what more." Equatorial Africa,
FIFTEEN. A sacred number, symbolic of the name of God, because the
letters of the holy name יה, JAH, are equal, in the Hebrew mode of
numeration by the letters of the alphabet, to fifteen; for י is equal to
ten, and ה is equal to five. Hence, from veneration for this sacred name,
the Hebrews do not, in ordinary computations, when they wish to express
the number 15, make use of these two letters, but of two others, which are
equivalent to 9 and 6.
FORTY-SEVENTH PROBLEM. The forty-seventh problem of the first book of
Euclid is, that in any right-angled triangle the square which is described
upon the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares described
upon the sides which contain the right angle. It is said to have been
discovered by Pythagoras while in Egypt, but was most probably taught to
him by the priests of that country, in whose rites he had been initiated;
it is a symbol of the production of the world by the generative and
prolific powers of the Creator; hence the Egyptians made the perpendicular
and base the representatives of Osiris and Isis, while the hypothenuse
represented their child Horus. Dr. Lardner says (Com. on Euclid, p.
60) of this problem, "Whether we consider the forty-seventh proposition
with reference to the peculiar and beautiful relation established by it,
or to its innumerable uses in every department of mathematical science, or
to its fertility in the consequences derivable from it, it must certainly
be esteemed the most celebrated and important in the whole of the
elements, if not in the whole range of mathematical science."
FOURTEEN. Some symbologists have referred the fourteen pieces into
which the mutilated body of Osiris was divided, and the fourteen days
during which the body of the builder was buried, to the fourteen days of
the disappearance of the moon. The Sabian worshippers of "the hosts of
heaven" were impressed with the alternate appearance and disappearance of
the moon, which at length became a symbol of death and resurrection. Hence
fourteen was a sacred number. As such it was viewed in the Osirian
Mysteries, and may have been introduced into Freemasonry with other relics
of the old worship of the sun and planets.
FREEMASONRY, DEFINITION OF. See Definition.
FREEMASONS, TRAVELLING. The travelling Freemasons were a society
existing in the middle ages, and consisting of learned men and prelates,
under whom were operative masons. The operative masons performed the
labors of the craft, and travelling from country to country, were engaged
in the construction of cathedrals, monasteries, and castles. "There are
few points in the history of the middle ages," says Godwin, "more pleasing
to look back upon than the existence of the associated masons; they are
the bright spot in the general darkness of that period; the patch of
verdure when all around is barren." The Builder, ix. 463
G. The use of the letter G in the Fellow Craft's degree is an
anachronism. It is really a corruption of, or perhaps rather a
substitution for, the Hebrew letter י (yod), which is the initial of the
ineffable name. As such, it is a symbol of the life-giving and
life-sustaining power of God.
G.A.O.T.U. A masonic abbreviation used as a symbol of the name of God,
and signifying the Grand Architect of the Universe. It was adopted
by the Freemasons in accordance with a similar practice among all the
nations of antiquity of noting the Divine Name by a symbol.
GAVEL. What is called in Masonry a common gavel is a stone-cutter's
hammer; it is one of the working tools of an Entered Apprentice, and is a
symbol of the purification of the heart.
GLOVES. On the continent of Europe they are given to candidates at the
same time that they are invested with the apron; the same custom formerly
prevailed in England; but although the investiture of the gloves is
abandoned as a ceremony both there and in America, they are worn as a part
of masonic clothing.
They are a symbol of purification of life.
In the middle ages gloves were worn by operative masons.
GOD, UNITY OF. See Unity of God.
GOD, NAME OF. See Name.
GOLGOTHA. In Hebrew and Syriac it means a skull; a name of Mount
Calvary, and so called, probably, because it was the place of public
execution. The Latin Calvaria, whence Mount Calvary, means also a
GRAVE. In the Master's degree, a symbol which is the analogue of the
pastos, or couch, in the ancient Mysteries.
The symbolism has been Christianized by some masonic writers, and the
grave has thus been referred to the sepulchre of Christ.
GRIPS AND SIGNS. They are valuable only for social purposes as modes of
HAND. The hand is a symbol of human actions; pure hands symbolize pure
actions, and impure or unclean hands symbolize impure actions.
HARE. Among the Egyptians the hare was a hieroglyphic of eyes that
are open, and was the symbol of initiation into the Mysteries of
Osiris. The Hebrew word for hare is arnabet, and this is
compounded of two words that signify to behold the light. The
connection of ideas is apparent.
HELLENISM. The religion of the Helles, or ancient Greeks who
immediately succeeded the Pelasgians in the settlement of that country. It
was, in consequence of the introduction of the poetic element, more
refined than the old Pelasgic worship for which it was substituted. Its
myths were more philosophical and less gross than those of the religion to
which it succeeded.
HERMAE. Stones of a cubical form, which were originally unhewn, by
which the Greeks at first represented all their deities. They came in the
progress of time to be especially dedicated by the Greeks to the god
Hermes, whence the name, and by the Romans to the god Terminus, who
presided over landmarks.
HERO WORSHIP. The worship of men deified after death. It is a theory of
some, both ancient and modern writers, that all the pagan gods were once
human beings, and that the legends and traditions of mythology are mere
embellishments of the acts of these personages when alive. It was the
doctrine taught by Euhemerus among the ancients, and has been maintained
among the moderns by such distinguished authorities as Bochart, Bryant,
Voss, and Banier.
HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY. The system of the Alchemists, the Adepts, or
seekers of the philosopher's stone. No system has been more misunderstood
than this. It was secret, esoteric, and highly symbolical. No one has so
well revealed its true design as E.A. Hitchcock, who, in his delightful
work entitled "Remarks upon Alchemy and the Alchemists," says, "The
genuine Alchemists were religious men, who passed their time in legitimate
pursuits, earning an honest subsistence, and in religious contemplation,
studying how to realize in themselves the union of the divine and human
nature, expressed in man by an enlightened submission to God's will; and
they thought out and published, after a manner of their own, a method of
attaining or entering upon this state, as the only rest of the soul."
There is a very great similarity between their doctrines and those of the
Freemasons; so much so that the two associations have sometimes been
HIEROPHANT. (From the Greek ἱερὸς, holy, sacred, and φαίνω to
show.) One who instructs in sacred things; the explainer of the
aporrheta, or secret doctrines, to the initiates in the ancient Mysteries.
He was the presiding officer, and his rank and duties were analogous to
those of the master of a masonic lodge.
HIRAM ABIF. The architect of Solomon's temple. The word "Abif"
signifies in Hebrew "his father," and is used by the writer of Second
Chronicles (iv. 16) when he says, "These things did Hiram his father
[in the original Hiram Abif ] do for King Solomon.".
The legend relating to him is of no value as a mere narrative, but of
vast importance in a symbolical point of view, as illustrating a great
philosophical and religious truth; namely, the dogma of the immortality of
Hence, Hiram Abif is the symbol of man in the abstract sense, or human
nature, as developed in the life here and in the life to come.
HIRAM OF TYRE. The king of Tyre, the friend and ally of King Solomon,
whom he supplied with men and materials for building the temple. In the
recent, or what I am inclined to call the grand lecturer's symbolism of
Masonry (a sort of symbolism for which I have very little veneration),
Hiram of Tyre is styled the symbol of strength, as Hiram Abif is of
beauty. But I doubt the antiquity or authenticity of any such symbolism.
Hiram of Tyre can only be considered, historically, as being necessary to
complete the myth and symbolism of Hiram Abif. The king of Tyre is an
historical personage, and there is no necessity for transforming him into
a symbol, while his historical character lends credit and validity to the
philosophical myth of the third degree of Masonry.
HIRAM THE BUILDER. An epithet of Hiram Abif. For the full significance
of the term, see the word Builder.
HO-HI. A cabalistic pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, or ineffable
name of God; it is most probably the true one; and as it literally means
HE-SHE, it is supposed to denote the hermaphroditic essence of Jehovah, as
containing within himself the male and the female principle,—the
generative and the prolific energy of creation.
HO The sacred name of God among the Druids. Bryant supposes that by it
they intended the Great Father Noah; but it is very possible that it was a
modification of the Hebrew tetragrammaton, being the last syllable read
cabalistically (see ho-hi); if so, it signified the great male
principle of nature. But HU, in Hebrew הוא, is claimed by Talmudic writers
to be one of the names of God; and the passage in Isaiah xlii. 8, in the
original ani Jehovah, Hu shemi, which is in the common version "I
am the LORD; that is my name," they interpret, "I am Jehovah; my name is
HUTCHINSON, WILLIAM. A distinguished masonic writer of England, who
lived in the eighteenth century. He is the author of "The Spirit of
Masonry," published in 1775. This was the first English work of any
importance that sought to give a scientific interpretation of the symbols
of Freemasonry; it is, in fact, the earliest attempt of any kind to treat
Freemasonry as a science of symbolism. Hutchinson, however, has to some
extent impaired the value of his labors by contending that the institution
is exclusively Christian in its character and design.
IH-HO. See Ho-hi.
IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL. This is one of the two religious dogmas which
have always been taught in Speculative Masonry.
It was also taught in all the Rites and Mysteries of antiquity.
The doctrine was taught as an abstract proposition by the ancient
priesthood of the Pure or Primitive Freemasonry of antiquity, but was
conveyed to the mind of the initiate, and impressed upon him by a scenic
representation in the ancient Mysteries, or the Spurious Freemasonry of
INCOMMUNICABLE NAME. The tetragrammaton, so called because it was not
common to, and could not be bestowed upon, nor shared by, any other being.
It was proper to the true God alone. Thus Drusius (Tetragrammaton, sive de
Nomine Dei proprio, p. 108) says, "Nomen quatuor literarum proprie et
absolute non tribui nisi Deo vero. Unde doctores catholici dicunt
incommunicabile [not common] esse creaturae."
INEFFABLE NAME. The tetragrammaton. So called because it is
ineffabile, or unpronounceable. See Tetragrammaton.
INTRUSTING, RITE OF. That part of the ceremony of initiation which
consists in communicating to the aspirant or candidate the aporrheta, or
secrets of the mystery.
INUNCTION. The act of anointing. This was a religious ceremony
practised from the earliest times. By the pouring on of oil, persons and
things were consecrated to sacred purposes.
INVESTITURE, RITE OF. That part of the ceremony of initiation which
consists of clothing the candidate masonically. It is a symbol of purity.
ISH CHOTZEB. Hebrew איש הצב, hewers of stones. The Fellow Crafts
at the temple of Solomon. (2 Chron. ii. 2.).
ISH SABAL. Hebrew איש סבל, bearers of burdens. The Apprentices
at the temple of Solomon. (2 Chron. ii. 2.).
JAH. It is in Hebrew יה whence Maimonides calls it "the two-lettered
name," and derives it from the tetragrammaton, of which it is an
abbreviation. Others have denied this, and assert that Jah is a
name independent of Jehovah, but expressing the same idea of the divine
essenee. See Gataker, De Nom. Tetrag..
JEHOVAH. The incommunicable, ineffable name of God, in Hebrew יהוה, and
called, from the four letters of which it consists, the tetragrammaton, or
LABOR. Since the article on the Symbolism of Labor was written, I have
met with an address delivered in 1868 by brother Troué, before St. Peter's
Lodge in Martinico, which contains sentiments on the relation of Masonry
to labor which are well worth a translation from the original French. See
Bulletin du Grand Orient de France, December, 1868.
"Our name of Mason, and our emblems, distinctly announce that our
object is the elevation of labor.
"We do not, as masons, consider labor as a punishment inflicted on man;
but on the contrary, we elevate it in our thought to the height of a
religious act, which is the most acceptable to God because it is the most
useful to man and to society.
"We decorate ourselves with the emblems of labor to affirm that our
doctrine is an incessant protest against the stigma branded on the law of
labor, and which an error of apprehension, proceeding from the ignorance
of men in primitive times has erected into a dogma; an error that has
resulted in the production of this anti-social phenomenon which we meet
with every day; namely, that the degradation of the workman is the greater
as his labor is more severe, and the elevation of the idler is higher as
his idleness is more complete. But the study of the laws which maintain
order in nature, released from the fetters of preconceived ideas, has led
the Freemasons to that doctrine, far more moral than the contrary belief,
that labor is not an expiation, but a law of harmony, from the subjection
to which man cannot be released without impairing his own happiness, and
deranging the order of creation. The design of Freemasons is, then, the
rehabilitation of labor, which is indicated by the apron which we wear,
and the gavel, the trowel, and the level, which are found among our
Hence the doctrine of this work is, that Freemasonry teaches not only
the necessity, but the nobility, of labor.
And that labor is the proper worship due by man to God.
LADDER. A symbol of progressive advancement from a lower to a higher
sphere, which is common to Masonry, and to many, if not all, of the
LADDER, BRAHMINICAL. The symbolic ladder used in the Mysteries of
Brahma. It had seven steps, symbolic of the seven worlds of the Indian
LADDER, MITHRAITIC. The symbolic ladder used in the Persian Mysteries
of Mithras. It had seven steps, symbolic of the seven planets and the
LADDER, SCANDINAVIAN. The symbolic ladder used in the Gothic Mysteries.
Dr. Oliver refers it to the Yggrasil, or sacred ash tree. But the
symbolism is either very abstruse or very doubtful.
LADDER, THEOLOGICAL. The symbolic ladder of the masonic Mysteries. It
refers to the ladder seen by Jacob in his vision, and consists, like all
symbolical ladders, of seven rounds, alluding to the four cardinal and the
three theological virtues.
LAMB. A symbol of innocence. A very ancient symbol.
LAMB, PASCHAL. See Paschal Lamb.
LAMBSKIN APRON. See Apron.
LAW, ORAL. See Oral Law.
LEGEND. A narrative, whether true or false, that has been traditionally
preserved from the time of its first oral communication. Such is the
definition of a masonic legend. The authors of the Conversations-Lexicon,
referring to the monkish Lives of the Saints which originated in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, say that the title legend was
given to all fictions which make pretensions to truth. Such a remark,
however correct it may be in reference to these monkish narratives, which
were often invented as ecclesiastical exercises, is by no means applicable
to the legends of Freemasonry. These are not necessarily fictitious, but
are either based on actual and historical facts which have been but
slightly modificd, or they are the offspring and expansion of some
symbolic idea in which latter respect they differ entirely from the
monastic legends, which often have only the fertile imagination of some
studious monk for the basis of their construction.
LEGEND OF THE ROYAL ARCH DEGREE. Much of this legend is a mythical
history; but some portion of it is undoubtedly a philosophical myth. The
destruction and the reëdification of the temple, the captivity and the
return of the captives, are matters of history; but many of the details
have been invented and introduced for the purpose of giving form to a
LEGEND OF THE THIRD DEGREE. In all probability this legend is a
mythical history, in which truth is very largely and preponderatingly
mixed with fiction.
It is the most important and significant of the legendary symbols of
Has descended from age to age by oral tradition, and has been preserved
in every masonic rite.
No essential alteration of it has ever been made in any masonic system,
but the interpretations of it have been various; the most general one is,
that it is a symbol of the resurrection and the immortality of the soul.
Some continental writers have supposed that it was a symbol of the
downfall of the Order of Templars, and its hoped-for restoration. In some
of the high philosophical degrees it is supposed to be a symbol of the
sufferings, death, and resurrection Christ. Hutchinson thought it a symbol
of the decadence of the Jewish religion, and the rise of the Christian on
its ruins. Oliver says that it symbolically refers to the murder of Abel,
the death of our race through Adam, and its restoration through Christ.
Ragon thinks that it is a symbol of the sun shorn of its vigor by the
three winter months, and restored to generative power by the spring. And
lastly, Des Etangs says that it is a symbol of eternal reason, whose
enemies are the vices that deprave and finally destroy humanity.
But none of these interpretations, except the first, can be sustained.
LETTUCE. The sacred plant of the Mysteries of Adonis; a symbol of
immortality, and the analogue of the acacia.
LEVEL. One of the working tools of a Fellow Craft. It is a symbol of
the equality of station of all men before God.
LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES. In the seventh century, all learning was
limited to the seven liberal arts and sciences; their introduction into
Freemasonry, referring to this theory, is a symbol of the completion of
LIGHT. It denotes truth and knowledge, and is so explained in all the
ancient systems; in initiation, it is not material but intellectual light
that is sought.
It is predominant as a symbol in all the ancient initiations.
There it was revered because it was an emanation trom the sun, the
common object of worship; but the theory advanced by some writers, that
the veneration of light originally proceeded from its physical qualities,
is not correct.
Pythagoras called it the good principle in nature; and the Cabalists
taught that eternal light filled all space before the creation, and that
after creation it retired to a central spot, and became the instrument of
the Divine Mind in creating matter.
It is the symbol of the autopsy, or the full perfection and fruition of
It is therefore a fundamental symbol in Freemasonry, and contains
within itself the very essence of the speculative science.
LINGAM. The phallus was so called by the Indian nations of the East.
LODGE. The place where Freemasons meet, and also the congregation of
masons so met. The word is derived from the lodges occupied by the
travelling Freemasons of the middle ages.
It is a symbol of the world, or universe.
Its form, an oblong square, is symbolic of the supposed oblong form of
the world as known to the ancients.
LOST WORD. There is a masonic myth that there was a certain word which
was lost and afterwards recovered.
It is not material what the word was, nor how lost, nor when recovered:
the symbolism refers only to the abstract idea of a loss and a recovery.
It is a symbol of divine truth.
The search for it was also made by the philosophers and priests in the
Mysteries of the Spurious Freemasonry.
LOTUS. The sacred plant of the Brahminical Mysteries, and the analogue
of the acacia.
It was also a sacred plant among the Egyptians.
LUSTRATION. A purification by washing the hands or body in consecrated
water, practised in the ancient Mysteries. See Purification.
LUX (light). One of the appellations bestowed upon Freemasonry,
to indicate that it is that sublime doctrine of truth by which the pathway
of him who has attained it is to be illumined in the pilgrimage of life.
Among the Rosicrucians, light was the knowledge of the philosopher's
stone; and Mosheim says that in chemical language the cross was an emblem
of light, because it contains within its figure the forms of the three
figures of which LVX, or light, is composed.
LUX E TENEBRIS (light out of darkness). A motto of the Masonic
Order, which is equivalent to "truth out of initiation;" light being the
symbol of truth, and darkness the symbol of initiation commenced.
MAN. Repeatedly referred to by Christ and the apostles as the symbol of
MASTER MASON. The third degree of Ancient Craft Masonry, analogous to
the epopt of the ancient Mysteries.
MENATZCHIM. Hebrew מנצהים superintendents, or overseers.
The Master Masons at the temple of Solomon. (2 Chron. ii. 2.)
MENU. In the Indian mythology, Menu is the son of Brahma, and the
founder of the Hindoo religion. Thirteen other Menus are said to exist,
seven of whom have already reigned on earth. But it is the first one whose
instructions constitute the whole civil and religious polity of the
Hindoos. The code attributed to him by the Brahmins has been translated by
Sir William Jones, with the title of "The Institutes of Menu."
MIDDLE CHAMBER. A part of the Solomonic temple, which was approached by
winding stairs, but which was certainly not appropriated to the purpose
indicated in the Fellow Craft's degree.
The legend of the Winding Stairs is therefore only a philosophical
It is a symbol of this life and its labors.
MISTLETOE. The sacred plant of Druidism; commemorated also in the
Scandinavian rites. It is the analogue of the acacia, and like all the
other sacred plants of antiquity, is a symbol of the immortality of the
soul. Lest the language of the text should be misunderstood, it may be
remarked here that the Druidical and the Scandinavian rites are not
identical. The former are Celtic, the latter Gothic. But the fact that in
both the mistletoe was a sacred plant affords a violent presumption that
there must have been a common point from which both religions started.
There was, as I have said, an identity of origin for the same ancient and
general symbolic idea.
MITHRAS. He was the god worshipped by the ancient Persians, and
celebrated in their Mysteries as the symbol of the sun. In the initiation
in these Mysteries, the candidate passed through many terrible trials, and
his courage and fortitude were exposed to the most rigorous tests. Among
others, after ascending the mystical ladder of seven steps, he passed
through a scenic representation of Hades, or the infernal regions; out of
this and the surrounding darkness he was admitted into the full light of
Elysium, where he was obligated by an oath of secrecy, and invested by the
Archimagus, or High Priest, with the secret instructions of the rite,
among which was a knowledge of the Ineffable Name.
MOUNT CALVARY. A small hill of Jerusalem, in a westerly direction, and
not far from Mount Moriah. In the legends of Freemasonry it is known as "a
small hill near Mount Moriah," and is referred to in the third degree.
This "small hill" having been determined as the burial-place of Jesus, the
symbol has been Christianized by many modern masons.
There are many masonic traditions, principally borrowed from the
Talmud, connected with Mount Calvary; such as, that it was the place where
Adam was buried, &c.
MOUNT MORIAH. The hill in Jerusalem on which the temple of Solomon was
MYRTLE. The sacred plant in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and, as symbolic
of a resurrection and immortality, the analogue of the acacia.
MYSTERIES. A secret worship paid by the ancients to several of the
pagan gods, to which none were admitted but those who had been solemnly
initiated. The object of instruction in these Mysteries was, to teach the
unity of God and the immortality of the soul. They were divided into
Lesser and Greater Mysteries. The former were merely preparatory. In the
latter the whole knowledge was communicated. Speaking of the doctrine that
was communicated to the initiates, Philo Judaeus says that "it is an
incorruptible treasure, not like gold or silver, but more precious than
everything beside; for it is the knowledge of the Great Cause, and of
nature, and of that which is born of both." And his subsequent language
shows that there was a confraternity existing among the initiates like
that of the masonic institution; for he says, with his peculiar mysticism,
"If you meet an initiate, besiege him with your prayers that he conceal
from you no new mysteries that he may know; and rest not until you have
obtained them. For me, although I was initiated into the Great Mysteries
by Moses, the friend of God, yet, having seen Jeremiah, I recognized him
not only as an Initiate, but as a Hierophant; and I followed his school."
So, too, the mason acknowledges every initiate as his brother, and is ever
ready and anxious to receive all the light that can be bestowed on the
Mysteries in which he has been indoctrinated.
MYSTES. (From the Greek μύω, to shut the eyes.) One who had been
initiated into the Lesser Mysteries of paganism. He was now blind, but
when he was initiated into the Greater Mysteries he was called an Epopt,
or one who saw.
MYTH. Grote's definition of the myth, which is cited in the text, may
be applied without modification to the myths of Freemasonry, although
intended by the author only for the myths of the ancient Greek religion.
The myth, then, is a narrative of remote date, not necessarily true or
false, but whose truth can only be certified by internal evidence. The
word was first applied to those fables of the pagan gods which have
descended from the remotest antiquity, and in all of which there prevails
a symbolic idea, not always, however, capable of a positive
interpretation. As applied to Freemasonry, the words myth and
legend are synonymous.
From this definition it will appear that the myth is really only the
interpretation of an idea. But how we are to read these myths will best
appear from these noble words of Max Müller: "Everything is true, natural,
significant, if we enter with a reverent spirit into the meaning of
ancient art and ancient language. Everything becomes false, miraculous,
and unmeaning, if we interpret the deep and mighty words of the seers of
old in the shallow and feeble sense of modern chroniclers." (Science of
Language, 2d Ser. p. 578.).
MYTH, HISTORICAL. An historical myth is a myth that has a known and
recognized foundation in historical truth, but with the admixture of a
preponderating amount of fiction in the introduction of personages and
circumstances. Between the historical myth and the mythical history, the
distinction as laid down in the text cannot always be preserved, because
we are not always able to determine whether there is a preponderance of
truth or of fiction in the legend or narrative under examination.
MYTHICAL HISTORY. A myth or legend in which the historical and truthful
greatly preponderate over the inventions of fiction.
MYTHOLOGY. Literally, the science of myths; and this is a very
appropriate definition, for mythology is the science which treats of the
religion of the ancient pagans, which was almost altogether founded on
myths, or popular traditions and legendary tales; and hence Keightly (Mythol.
of Ancient Greece and Italy, p. 2) says that "mythology may be regarded as
the repository of the early religion of the people." Its interest to a
masonic student arises from the constant antagonism that existed between
its doctrines and those of the Primitive Freemasonry of antiquity and the
light that the mythological Mysteries throw upon the ancient organization
of Speculative Masonry.
MYTH, PHILOSOPHICAL. This is a myth or legend that is almost wholly
unhistorical, and which has been invented only for the purpose of
enunciating and illustrating a particular thought or dogma.
NAME. All Hebrew names are significant, and were originally imposed
with reference to some fact or feature in the history or character of the
persons receiving them. Camden says that the same custom prevailed among
all the nations of antiquity. So important has this subject been
considered, that "Onomastica," or treatises on the signification of names
have been written by Eusebius and St. Jerome, by Simonis and Hillerus, and
by several other scholars, of whom Eusebe Salverte is the most recent and
the most satisfactory. Shuckford (Connect. ii. 377) says that the Jewish
Rabbins thought that the true knowledge of names was a science preferable
to the study of the written law.
NAME OF GOD. The true pronunciation, and consequently the
signification, of the name of God can only be obtained through a
It is a symbol of divine truth. None but those who are familiar with
the subject can have any notion of the importance bestowed on this symbol
by the Orientalists. The Arabians have a science called Ism Allah,
or the science of the name of God; and the Talmudists and Rabbins
have written copiously on the same subject. The Mussulmans, says Salverte
(Essai sur les Noms, ii. 7), have one hundred names of God, which they
repeat while counting the beads of a rosary.
NEOPHYTE. (From the Greek νέον and φυιὸν, a new plant.) One who
has been recently initiated in the Mysteries. St. Paul uses the same word
(I Tim. iii. 6) to denote one who had been recently converted to the
NOACHIDAE. The descendants of Noah, and the transmitters of his
religious dogmas, which were the unity of God and the immortality of the
soul. The name has from the earliest times been bestowed upon the
Freemasons, who teach the same doctrines. Thus in the "old charges," as
quoted by Anderson (Const. edit. 1738, p. 143), it is said, "A mason is
obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachidae."
NOACHITES. The same as Noachidae, which see.
NORTH. That part of the earth which, being most removed from the
influence of the sun at his meridian height, is in Freemasonry called "a
place of darkness." Hence it is a symbol of the profane world.
NORTH-EAST CORNER. An important ceremony of the first degree, which
refers to the north-east corner of the lodge, is explained by the
symbolism of the corner-stone.
The corner-stone of a building is always laid in the north-east corner,
for symbolic reasons.
The north-east point of the heavens was especially sacred among the
In the symbolism of Freemasonry, the north refers to the outer or
profane world, and the east to the inner world of Masonry; and hence the
north-east is symbolic of the double position of the neophyte, partly in
the darkness of the former, partly in the light of the latter.
NUMBERS. The symbolism of sacred numbers, which prevails very
extensively in Freemasonry, was undoubtedly borrowed from the school of
Pythagoras; but it is just as likely that he got it from Egypt or Babylon,
or from both. The Pythagorean doctrine was, according to Aristotle (Met.
xii. 8), that all things proceed from numbers. M. Dacier, however, in his
life of the philosopher, denies that the doctrine of numbers was taught by
Pythagoras himself, but attributes it to his later disciples. But his
arguments are not conclusive or satisfactory.
OATH OF SECRECY. It was always administered to the candidate in the
ODD NUMBERS. In the system of Pythagoras, odd numbers were symbols of
perfection. Hence the sacred numbers of Freemasonry are all odd. They are
3, 5, 7, 9, 15, 27, 33, and 81.
OIL. An element of masonic consecration, and, as a symbol of prosperity
and happiness, is intended, under the name of the "oil of joy," to
indicate the expected propitious results of the consecration of any thing
or person to a sacred purpose.
OLIVE. In a secondary sense, the symbol of peace and of victory; but in
its primary meaning, like all the other Sacred plants of antiquity, a
symbol of immortality; and thus in the Mysteries it was the analogue of
the acacia of the Freemasons.
OLIVER. The Rev. George Oliver, D.D., of Lincolnshire, England, who
died in 1868, is by far the most distinguished and the most voluminous of
the English writers on Freemasonry. Looking to his vast labors and
researches in the arcana of the science, no student of masonry can speak
of his name or his memory without profound reverence for his learning, and
deep gratitude for the services that he has accomplished. To the author of
this work the recollection will ever be most grateful that he enjoyed the
friendship of so good and so great a man; one of whom we may testify, as
Johnson said of Goldsmith, that "nihil quod tetigit non ornavit." In his
writings he has traversed the whole field of masonic literature and
science, and has treated, always with great ability and wonderful
research, of its history, its antiquities, its rites and ceremonies, its
ethics, and its symbols. Of all his works, his "Historical Landmarks," in
two volumes, is the most important, the most useful, and the one which
will perhaps the longest perpetuate his memory. In the study of his works,
the student must be careful not to follow too implicitly all his
conclusions. These were in his own mind controlled by the theory which he
had adopted, and which he continuously maintained, that Freemasonry was a
Christian institution, and that the connection between it and the
Christian religion was absolute and incontrovertible. He followed in the
footsteps of Hutchinson, but with a far more expanded view of the masonic
OPERATIVE MASONRY. Masonry considered merely as a useful art, intended
for the protection and the convenience of man by the erection of edifices
which may supply his intellectual, religious, and physical wants.
In contradistinction to Speculative Masonry, therefore, it is said to
be engaged in the construction of a material temple.
ORAL LAW. The oral law among the Jews was the commentary on and the
interpretation of the written contained in the Pentateuch; and the
tradition is, that it was 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 intrusted to
books; but being preserved in the memories of the judges, prophets,
priests, and wise men, was handed down from one to the other through a
long succession of ages. But after the destruction of Jerusalem by the
Romans under Adrian, A.D. 135, and the final dispersion of the Jews, fears
being entertained that the oral law would be lost, it was then committed
to writing, and now constitutes the text of the Talmud.
ORMUZD. Worshipped by the disciples of Zoroaster as the principle of
good, and symbolized by light. See Ahriman.
OSIRIS. The chief god of the ancient Egyptians, and worshipped as a
symbol of the sun, and more philosophically as the male or generative
principle. Isis, his wife, was the female or prolific principle; and Horus,
their child, was matter, or the world—the product of the two principles.
OSIRIS, MYSTERIES OF. The Osirian Mysteries consisted in a scenic
representation of the murder of Osiris by Typhon, the subsequent recovery
of his mutilated body by Isis, and his deification, or restoration to
OVAL TEMPLES. Temples of an oval form were representations of the
mundane egg, a symbol of the world.
PALM TREE. In its secondary sense the palm tree is a symbol of victory;
but in its primary signification it is a symbol of the victory over death,
that is, immortality.
PARABLE. A narrative in which one thing is compared with another. It is
in principle the same as a symbol or an allegory.
PARALLEL LINES. The lines touching the circle in the symbol of the
point within a circle. They are said to represent St. John the Baptist and
St. John the Evangelist; but they really refer to the solstitial points
Cancer and Capricorn, in the zodiac.
PASTOS. (From the Greek παστὸς, a nuptial couch.) The coffin or
grave which contained the body of the god or hero whose death was
scenically represented in the ancient Mysteries.
It is the analogue of the grave in the third degree of Masonry.
PELASGIAN RELIGION. The Pelasgians were the oldest if not the
aboriginal inhabitants of Greece. Their religion differed from that of the
Hellenes who succeeded them in being less poetical, less mythical, and
more abstract. We know little of their religious worship, except by
conjecture; but we may suppose it resembled in some respects the doctrines
of the Primitive Freemasonry. Creuzer thinks that the Pelasgians were
either a nation of priests or a nation ruled by priests.
PHALLUS. A representation of the virile member, which was venerated as
a religious symbol very universally, and without the slightest
lasciviousness, by the ancients. It was one of the modifications of sun
worship, and was a symbol of the fecundating power of that luminary. The
masonic point within a circle is undoubtedly of phallic origin.
PHILOSOPHY OF FREEMASONRY. The dogmas taught in the masonic system
constitute its philosophy. These consist in the contemplation of God as
one and eternal, and of man as immortal. In other words, the philosophy of
Freemasonry inculcates the unity of God and the immortality of the soul.
PLUMB. One of the working tools of a Fellow Craft, and a symbol of
rectitude of conduct.
POINT WITHIN A CIRCLE. It is derived from the ancient sun worship, and
is in reality of phallic origin. It is a symbol of the universe, the sun
being represented by the point, while the circumference is the universe.
PORCH OF THE TEMPLE. A symbol of the entrance into life.
PRIMITIVE FREEMASONRY. The Primitive Freemasonry of the antediluvians
is a term for which we are indebted to Oliver, although the theory was
broached by earlier writers, and among them by the Chevalier Ramsay. The
theory is, that the principles and doctrines of Freemasonry existed in the
earliest ages of the world, and were believed and practised by a primitive
people, or priesthood, under the name of Pure or Primitive Freemasonry.
That this Freemasonry, that is to say, the religious doctrine inculcated
by it, was, after the flood, corrupted by the pagan philosophers and
priests, and, receiving the title of Spurious Freemasory, was
exhibited in the ancient Mysteries. The Noachidae, however, preserved the
principles of the Primitive Freemasonry, and transmitted them to
succeeding ages, when at length they assumed the name of Speculative
Masonry. The Primitive Freemasonry was probably without ritual or
symbolism, and consisted only of a series of abstract propositions derived
from antediluvian traditions. Its dogmas were the unity of God and the
immortality of the soul.
PROFANE. One who has not been initiated as a Freemason. In the
technical language of the Order, all who are not Freemasons are profanes.
The term is derived from the Latin words pro fano, which literally
signify "in front of the temple," because those in the ancient religions
who were not initiated in the sacred rites or Mysteries of any deity were
not permitted to enter the temple, but were compelled to remain outside,
or in front of it. They were kept on the outside. The expression a
profane is not recognized as a noun substantive in the general
usage of the language; but it has been adopted as a technical term in the
dialect of Freemasonry, in the same relative sense in which the word
layman is used in the professions of law and divinity.
PURE FREEMASONRY OF ANTIQUITY. The same as Primitive Freemasonry,—which
PURIFICATION. A religious rite practised by the ancients, and which was
performed before any act of devotion. It consisted in washing the hands,
and sometimes the whole body, in lustral or consecrated water. It was
intended as a symbol of the internal purification of the heart. It was a
ceremony preparatory to initiation in all the ancient Mysteries.
PYTHAGORAS. A Grecian philosopher, supposed to have been born in the
island of Samos, about 584 B.C. He travelled extensively for the purpose
of acquiring knowledge. In Egypt he was initiated in the Mysteries of that
country by the priests. He also repaired to Babylon, where he became
acquainted with the mystical learning of the Chaldeans, and had, no doubt,
much communication with the Israelitish captives who had been exiled from
Jerusalem, and were then dwelling in Babylon. On his return to Europe he
established a school, which in its organization, as well as its doctrines,
bore considerable resemblance to Speculative Masonry; for which reason he
has been claimed as "an ancient friend and brother" by the modern
RESURRECTION. This doctrine was taught in the ancient Mysteries, as it
is in Freemasonry, by a scenic representation. The initiation was death,
the autopsy was resurrection. Freemasonry does not interest itself with
the precise mode of the resurrection, or whether the body buried and the
body raised are in all their parts identical. Satisfied with the general
teaching of St. Paul, concerning the resurrection that "it is sown a
natural body, it is raised a spiritual body," Freemasonry inculcates by
its doctrine of the resurrection the simple fact of a progressive
advancement from a lower to a higher sphere, and the raising of the soul
from the bondage of death to its inheritance of eternal life.
RITUAL. The forms and ceremonies used in conferring the degrees, or in
conducting the labors, of a lodge are called the ritual. There are many
rites of Freemasonry, which differ from each other in the number and
division of the degrees, and in their rituals, or forms and ceremonies.
But the great principles of Freemasonry, its philosophy and its symbolism,
are alike in all. It is evident, then, that in an investigation of the
symbolism of Freemasonry, we have no concern with its ritual, which is but
an outer covering that is intended to conceal the treasure that is within.
ROSICRUCIANS. A sect of hermetical philosophers, founded in the
fifteenth century, who were engaged in the study of abstruse sciences. It
was a secret society much resembling the masonic in its organization, and
in some of the subjects of its investigation; but it was in no other way
connected with Freemasonry. It is, however, well worth the study of the
masonic student on account of the light that it throws upon many of the
ROYAL ART. Freemasonry is so called because it is supposed to have been
founded by two kings,—the kings of Israel and Tyre,—and because it has
been subsequently encouraged and patronized by monarchs in all countries.
SABIANISM, or SABAISM. The worship of the sun, moon, and stars, the צבא
השמים TSABA Hashmaim, "the host of heaven." It was practised in
Persia, Chaldea, India, and other Oriental countries, at an early period
of the world's history. Sun-worship has had a powerful influence on
subsequent and more rational religions, and relics of it are to be found
even in the symbolism of Freemasonry.
SACELLUM. A sacred place consecrated to a god, and containing an altar.
SAINTE CROIX. The work of the Baron de Sainte Croix, in two volumes,
entitled, "Recherches Historiques et Critiques sur les Mystères du
Paganisme," is one of the most valuable and instructive works that we have
in any language on the ancient Mysteries,—those religious associations
whose history and design so closely connect them with Freemasonry. To the
student of masonic philosophy and symbolism this work of Sainte Croix is
SALSETTE. An island in the Bay of Bombay, celebrated for stupendous
caverns excavated artificially out of the solid rock, and which were
appropriated to the initiations in the ancient Mysteries of India.
SENSES, FIVE HUMAN. A symbol of intellectual cultivation.
SETH. It is the masonic theory that the principles of the Pure or
Primitive Freemasonry were preserved in the race of Seth, which had always
kept separate from that of Cain, but that after the flood they became
corrupted, by a secession of a portion of the Sethites, who established
the Spurious Freemasonry of the Gentiles.
SEVEN. A sacred number among the Jews and the Gentiles, and called by
Pythagoras a "venerable number."
SHEM HAMPHORASH. (שם המפירש the declaratory name.) The
tetragrammaton is so called, because, of all the names of God, it alone
distinctly declares his nature and essence as self-existent and eternal.
SHOE. See Investiture, Rite of.
SIGNS. There is abundant evidence that they were used in the ancient
Mysteries. They are valuable only as modes of recognition. But while they
are absolutely conventional, they have, undoubtedly, in Freemasonry, a
SIVA. One of the manifestations of the supreme deity of the Hindoos,
and a symbol of the sun in its meridian.
SONS OF LIGHT. Freemasons are so called because Lux, or
Light, is one of the names of Speculative Masonry.
SOLOMON. The king of Israel, and the founder of the temple of Jerusalem
and of the temple organization of Freemasonry.
That his mind was eminently symbolic in its propensities, is evident
from all the writings that are attributed to him.
SPECULATIVE MASONRY. Freemasonry considered as a science which
speculates on the character of God and man, and is engaged in
philosophical investigations of the soul and a future existence, for which
purpose it uses the terms of an operative art.
It is engaged symbolically in the construction of a spiritual temple.
There is in it always a progress—an advancement from a lower to a
SPIRITUAL TEMPLE. The body of man; that temple alluded to by Christ and
St. Paul; the temple, in the construction of which the Speculative Mason
is engaged, in contradistinction to that material temple which occupies
the labors of the Operative Mason.
SPURIOUS FREEMASONRY OF ANTIQUITY. A term applied to the initiations in
the Mysteries of the ancient pagan world, and to the doctrines taught in
those Mysteries. See Mysteries.
SQUARE. A geometric figure consisting of four equal sides and equal
angles. In Freemasonry it is a symbol of morality, or the strict
performance of every duty. The Greeks deemed it a figure of perfection,
and the "square man" was a man of unsullied integrity.
SQUARE, TRYING. One of the working-tools of a Fellow Craft, and a
symbol of morality.
STONE OF FOUNDATION. A very important symbol in the masonic system. It
is like the word, the symbol of divine truth.
STONE WORSHIP. A very early form of fetichism. The Pelasgians are
supposed to have given to their statues of the gods the general form of
cubical stones, whence in Hellenic times came the Hermae, or images of
SUBSTITUTE WORD. A symbol of the unsuccessful search after divine
truth, and the discovery in this life of only an approximation to it.
SUN, RISING. In the Sabian worship the rising sun was adored on its
resurrection from the apparent death of its evening setting. Hence, in the
ancient Mysteries, the rising sun was a symbol of the regeneration of the
SUN-WORSHIP. The most ancient of all superstitions. It prevailed
especially in Phoenicia, Chaldea. and Egypt, and traces of it have been
discovered in Peru and Mexico. Its influence was felt in the ancient
Mysteries, and abundant allusions to it are to be found in the symbolism
SWEDENBORG. A Swedish philosopher, and the founder of a religious sect.
Clavel, Ragon, and some other writers have sought to make him the founder
of a masonic rite also, but without authority. In 1767 Chastanier
established the rite of Illuminated Theosophists, whose instructions are
derived from the writings of Swedenborg, but the sage himself had nothing
to do with it. Yet it cannot be denied that the mind of Swedenborg was
eminently symbolic in character, and that the masonic student may derive
many valuable ideas from portions of his numerous works, especially from
his "Celestial Arcana" and his "Apocalypse Revealed."
SYMBOL. A visible sign with which a spiritual feeling, emotion, or idea
is connected.—Müller. Every natural thing which is made the sign or
representation of a moral idea is a symbol.
SYMBOL, COMPOUND. A species of symbol not unusual in Freemasonry, where
the symbol is to be taken in a double sense, meaning in its general
application one thing, and then in a special application another.
SYMBOLISM, SCIENCE OF. To what has been said in the text, may be added
the following apposite remarks of Squier: "In the absence of a written
language or forms of expression capable of conveying abstract ideas, we
can readily comprehend the necessity, among a primitive people, of a
symbolic system. That symbolism in a great degree resulted from this
necessity, is very obvious; and that, associated with man's primitive
religious systems, it was afterwards continued, when in the advanced stage
of the human mind, the previous necessity no longer existed, is equally
undoubted. It thus came to constitute a kind of sacred language, and
became invested with an esoteric significance understood only by the
few."—The Serpent Symbol in America, p. 19.
TABERNACLE. Erected by Moses in the wilderness as a temporary place for
divine worship. It was the antitype of the temple of Jerusalem, and, like
it, was a symbol of the universe.
TALISMAN. A figure either carved in metal or stone, or delineated on
parchment or paper, made with superstitious ceremonies under what was
supposed to be the special influence of the planetary bodies, and believed
to possess occult powers of protecting the maker or possessor from danger.
The figure in the text is a talisman, and among the Orientals no talisman
was more sacred than this one where the nine digits are so disposed as to
make 15 each way. The Arabians called it zahal, which was the name
of the planet Saturn, because the nine digits added together make 45, and
the letters of the word zahal are, according to the numerical
powers of the Arabic alphabet, equivalent to 45. The cabalists esteem it
because 15 was the numerical power of the letters composing the word JAH,
which is one of the names of God.
TALMUD. The mystical philosophy of the Jewish Rabbins is contained in
the Talmud, which is a collection of books divided into two parts, the
Mishna, which contains the record of the oral law, first committed
to writing in the second or third century, and the Gemara, or
commentaries on it. In the Talmud much will be found of great interest to
the masonic student.
TEMPLE. The importance of the temple in the symbolism of Freemasonry
will authorize the following citation from the learned Montfaucon (Ant.
ii. 1. ii. ch. ii.): "Concerning the origin of
temples, there is a variety of opinions. According to Herodotus,
the Egyptians were the first that made altars, statues, and temples. It
does not, however, appear that there were any in Egypt in the time of
Moses, for he never mentions them, although he had many opportunities for
doing so. Lucian says that the Egyptians were the first people who built
temples, and that the Assyrians derived the custom from them, all of which
is, however, very uncertain. The first allusion to the subject in
Scripture is the Tabernacle, which was, in fact, a portable temple, and
contained one place within it more holy and secret than the others, called
the Holy of Holies, and to which the adytum in the pagan
temples corresponded. The first heathen temple mentioned in Scripture is
that of Dagon, the god of the Philistines. The Greeks, who were indebted
to the Phoenicians for many things, may be supposed to have learned from
them the art of building temples; and it is certain that the Romans
borrowed from the Greeks both the worship of the gods and the construction
TEMPLE BUILDER. The title by which Hiram Abif is sometimes designated.
TEMPLE OF SOLOMON. The building erected by King Solomon on Mount Moriah,
in Jerusalem, has been often called "the cradle of Freemasonry," because
it was there that that union took place between the operative and
speculative masons, which continued for centuries afterwards to present
the true organization of the masonic system.
As to the size of the temple, the dimensions given in the text may be
considered as accurate so far as they agree with the description given in
the First Book of Kings. Josephus gives a larger measure, and makes the
length 105 feet, the breadth 35 feet, and the height 210 feet; but even
these will not invalidate the statement in the text, that in size it was
surpassed by many a parish church.
TEMPLE SYMBOLISM. That symbolism which is derived from the temple of
Solomon. It is the most fertile of all kinds of symbolism in the
production of materials for the masonic science.
TERMINUS. One of the most ancient of the Roman deities. He was the god
of boundaries and landmarks, and his statue consisted only of a cubical
stone, without arms or legs, to show that he was immovable.
TETRACTYS. A figure used by Pythagoras, consisting of ten points,
arranged in a triangular form so as to represent the monad, duad, triad,
and quarterniad. It was considered as very sacred by the Pythagoreans, and
was to them what the tetragrammaton was to the Jews.
TETRAGRAMMATON. (From the Greek τετρὰς, four, and γρὰμμα, a
letter). The four-lettered name of God in the Hebrew language, which
consisted of four letters, viz. יהוה commonly, but incorrectly, pronounced
Jehovah. As a symbol it greatly pervaded the rites of antiquity,
and was perhaps the earliest symbol corrupted by the Spurious Freemasonry
of the pagan Mysteries.
It was held by the Jews in profound veneration, and its origin supposed
to have been by divine revelation at the burning bush.
The word was never pronounced, but wherever met with Adonai was
substituted for it, which custom was derived from the perverted reading of
a, passage in the Pentateuch. The true pronunciation consequently was
utterly lost; this is explained by the want of vowels in the Hebrew
alphabet, so that the true vocalization of a word cannot be learned from
the letters of which it is composed.
The true pronunciation was intrusted to the high priest; but lest the
knowledge of it should be lost by his sudden death, it was also
communicated to his assistant; it was known also, probably, to the kings
The Cabalists and Talmudists enveloped it in a host of superstitions.
It was also used by the Essenes in their sacred rites, and by the
Egyptians as a pass-word.
Cabalistically read and pronounced, it means the male and female
principle of nature, the generative and prolific energy of creation.
THAMMUZ. A Syrian god, who was worshipped by those women of the Hebrews
who had fallen into idolatry. The idol was the same as the Phoenician
Adonis, and the Mysteries of the two were identical.
TRAVELLING FREEMASONS. See Freemasons, Travelling.
TRESTLE BOARD. The board or tablet on which the designs of the
architect are inscribed. It is a symbol of the moral law as set forth in
the revealed will of God.
Every man must have his trestle board, because it is the duty of every
man to work out the task which God, the chief Architect, has assigned to
TRIANGLE. A symbol of Deity.
This symbolism is found in many of the ancient religions.
Among the Egyptians it was a symbol of universal nature, or of the
protection of the world by the male and female energies of creation.
TRIANGLE, RADIATED. A triangle placed within a circle of rays. In
Christian art it is a symbol of God; then the rays are called a
glory. When they surround the triangle in the form of a circle, the
triangle is a symbol of the glory of God. When the rays emanate from the
centre of the triangle, it is a symbol of divine light. This is the true
form of the masonic radiated triangle.
TRILITERAL NAME. This is the word AUM, which is the ineffable name of
God among the Hindoos, and symbolizes the three manifestations of the
Brahminical supreme god, Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu. It was never to be
pronounced aloud, and was analogous to the sacred tetragrammaton of the
TROWEL. One of the working tools of a Master Mason. It is a symbol of
TRUTH. It was not always taught publicly by the ancient philosophers to
The search for it is the object of Freemasonry. It is never found on
earth, but a substitute for it is provided.
TUAPHOLL. A term used by the Druids to designate an unhallowed
circumambulation around the sacred cairn, or altar, the movement being
against the sun, that is, from west to east by the north, the cairn being
on the left hand of the circumambulator.
TUBAL CAIN. Of the various etymologies of this name, only one is given
in the text; but most of the others in some way identify him with Vulcan.
Wellsford (Mithridates Minor p. 4) gives a singular etymology,
deriving the name of the Hebrew patriarch from the definite article ה
converted into ת, or T and Baal, "Lord," with the Arabic
kayn, "a blacksmith," so that the word would then signify "the lord
of the blacksmiths." Masonic writers have, however, generally adopted the
more usual derivation of Cain, from a word signifying
possession; and Oliver descants on Tubal Cain as a symbol of
worldly possessions. As to the identity of Vulcan with Tubal Cain, we may
learn something from the definition of the offices of the former, as given
by Diodorus Siculus: "Vulcan was the first founder of works in iron,
brass, gold, silver, and all fusible metals; and he taught the uses to
which fire can be applied in the arts." See Genesis: "Tubal Cain, an
instructor of every artificer in brass and iron."
TWENTY-FOUR INCH GAUGE. A two-foot rule. One of the working-tools of an
Entered Apprentice, and a symbol of time well employed.
TYPHON. The brother and slayer of Osiris in the Egyptian mythology. As
Osiris was a type or symbol of the sun, Typhon was the symbol of winter,
when the vigor, heat, and, as it were, life of the sun are destroyed, and
of darkness as opposed to light.
TYRE. A city of Phoenicia, the residence of King Hiram, the friend and
ally of Solomon, whom he supplied with men and materials for the
construction of the temple.
TYRIAN FREEMASONS. These were the members of the Society of Dionysiac
Artificers, who at the time of the building of Solomon's temple flourished
at Tyre. Many of them were sent to Jerusalem by Hiram, King of Tyre, to
assist King Solomon in the construction of his temple. There, uniting with
the Jews, who had only a knowledge of the speculative principles of
Freemasonry, which had been transmitted to them from Noah, through the
patriarchs, the Tyrian Freemasons organized that combined system of
Operative and Speculative Masonry which continued for many centuries,
until the beginning of the eighteenth, to characterize the institution.
See Dionysiac Artificers.
UNION. The union of the operative with the speculative element of
Freemasonry took place at the building of King Solomon's temple.
UNITY OF GOD. This, as distinguished from the pagan doctrine of
polytheism, or a multitude of gods, is one of the two religious truths
taught in Speculative Masonry, the other being the immortality of the
WEARY SOJOURNERS. The legend of the "three weary sojourners" in the
Royal Arch degree is undoubtedly a philosophical myth, symbolizing the
search after truth.
WHITE. A symbol of innocence and purity.
Among the Pythagoreans it was a symbol of the good principle in nature,
equivalent to light.
WIDOW'S SON. An epithet bestowed upon the chief architect of the
temple, because he was "a widow's son of the tribe of Naphthali." 1 Kings
WINDING STAIRS, LEGEND OF. A legend in the Fellow Craft's degree having
no historical truth, but being simply a philosophical myth or legendary
symbol intended to communicate a masonic dogma.
It is the symbol of an ascent from a lower to a higher sphere.
It commences at the porch of the temple, which is a symbol of the
entrance into life.
The number of steps are always odd, because odd numbers are a symbol of
But the fifteen steps in the American system are a symbol of the name
of God, Jah.
WINE. An element of masonic consecration, and, as a symbol of the
inward refreshment of a good conscience, is intended under the name of the
"wine of refreshment," to remind us of the eternal refreshments which the
good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of
duty in the present.
WORD. In Freemasonry this is a technical and symbolic term, and
signifies divine truth. The search after this word constitutes the whole
system of speculative masonry.
WORD, LOST. See Lost Word.
WORD, SUBSTITUTE. See Substitute Word.
WORK. In Freemasonry the initiation of a candidate is called
work. It is suggestive of the doctrine that labor is a masonic
YGGDRASIL. The sacred ash tree in the Scandinavian Mysteries. Dr.
Oliver propounds the theory that it is the analogue of the theological
ladder in the Masonic Mysteries. But it is doubtful whether this theory is
YOD. A Hebrew letter, in form thus י, and about equivalent to the
English I or Y. It is the initial letter of the tetragrammaton, and is
often used, especially enclosed within a triangle, as a substitute for, or
an abridgement of, that sacred word.
It is a symbol of the life-giving and sustaining power of God.
YONI. Among the nations and religions of India the yoni was the
representation of the female organ of generation, and was the symbol of
the prolific power of nature. It is the same as the cteis among the
ZENNAAR. The sacred girdle of the Hindoos. It is supposed to be the
analogue of the masonic apron.
ZOROASTER. A distinguished philosopher and reformer, whose doctrines
were professed by the ancient Persians. The religion of Zoroaster was a
dualism, in which the two antagonizing principles were Ormuzd and Abriman,
symbols of Light and Darkness. It was a modification and purification of
the old fire-worship, in which the fire became a symbol of the sun, so
that it was really a species of sun-worship. Mithras, representing the
sun, becomes the mediator between Ormuzd, or the principle of Darkness,
and the world.
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