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THE CRAFT AND ITS SYMBOLS
Michael H. Koplitz, PM
The Fellow Craft Mason's degree is enriched with the antiquity of Freemasonry. In the early development of Freemasonry it was the Fellow Craft Mason's degree that a candidate needed to attend a Lodge meeting. The "highest" degree was considered the Fellow of the Craft degree. When a man strived to become the Worshipful Master of his Lodge, we underwent the extra degrees of Master and Mark Masons.
During the development of the degrees the Master Mason's degree was added and the Mark Mason became part of the Royal Arch Chapter. The Fellow Craft degree in other jurisdictions is performed differently. After the candidates takes his obligation he is taken on a "trip" up the winding stairs of the temple. Solomon's temple had three sections. The Entered Apprentices were not permitted to have access to the second and third floors and the Fellow Crafts could not access the third floor.
The Fellow Crafts would meet at the end of the week before the Sabbath in the middle chamber of the temple on the second floor. At that time they would be paid for their labors in grains, wines and oils. There would be plenty of time for them to return home before the beginning of the Sabbath (the day of rest). The Fellow Crafts would go up to the top of the winding stairs and be greeted by our equivalent, the Junior Warden. He would ask for the grip and password to gain access to the middle chamber. The Fellow Craft, after giving the proper response, would move down a short corridor to the next door. The Senior Warden would ask him for the grip and password that would give him admittance to the middle chamber. The Fellow Craft would give the proper grip and password and would be admitted into the middle chamber. Each Fellow Crafts' work was tallied and each was paid accordingly.
The Fellowcraft goes on a journey up the winding stairs to the middle chamber of King Solomon's temple. The first three stairs are the working tools of a Fellow Craft Mason; the plumb, level and square. These working tools deal with how we should treat ourselves and our fellow man. The next five stairs remind us of the five orders of architecture and the five senses. Both important elements of our lives. The last seven stairs deal with the seven liberal arts. The seven liberal arts are the foundation of the sciences and humanities. These areas of learning is what gives a Mason and Freemasonry its strength. It is through these disciplines that we grow toward that divine wisdom.
The five principle orders of architecture are important to recognize for its beauty and geometric style; the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Composite, and Corinthian. The columns around the stations of the Master and Wardens are in there different styles of architecture. The Wardens columns are two different styles of architecture. The Greeks invented the Tuscan, Doric and Ionic style while the Romans added the Corinthian and the Composite.
The battle that is described in the degree can be found in the Holy Bible. Masonic tradition informs us that this word and the true password were used at the temple for the Fellow Crafts to gain passage into the middle chamber. In other states before a lodge of Fellowcraft Masons is opened the Junior and Senior Deacons will go around the Lodge getting the word from the Brethren. The passgrip password is the word they are expecting.
The working tools of a Fellowcraft Mason, the plumb, level and square, deal with human behavior. The plumb reminds us to be proud of who and what we are before God and our fellow man. The level teaches that all men are created equal in God's eye. We are all equal in the Masonic Lodge no matter what our social standing. The square tells us to treat our neighbors as well as we would treat ourselves.
It is a coincidence that Geometry and God both begin with the letter "G". The letter "G" is an addon to the square and compasses that was done within the past 100 years. Geometry can be used to understand Gods universe.
The columns from the front of King Solomon's Temple are Boaz and Jachin. Boaz is the left column and Jachin is the right. Boaz and Jachin were great-grandfathers of Solomon. Each is referenced in Holy Scripture. The splendor and beauty of these columns and the completed temple was rivaled by the ancients as the 8th wonder of the world.
There are many other examples of symbolism and meaning to the Fellow Craft Mason's degree. There is much material in print that relates to the degree. This paper should be considered the beginning of your examination of the Fellow Craft Mason's degree.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014