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This dictionary has been compiled from multiple sources to better illustrate the meaning of a word or phrase that is used in the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft or Master Mason Degrees ,also known as the Symbolic Degrees, .  Main sources for this Masonic Dictionary came from The Phoenixmasonry, The Master Mason and The Lodge Room websites among others.

If you more words that can be added to this dictionary, please be so kind to email them.

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Aaron - enlightened

He was the brother and assistant of Moses, and the first high priest under Mosaic dispensation; hence, he was the founder of the "Aaronic" priesthood.

Aaron's Rod

The staff carried by Aaron, brother of and assistant to Moses, as a token of his office which miraculously blossomed as evidence of his Divine choice as High Priest. It was afterwards preserved in the Ark of the Covenant.

Abhorrence of Evil

Required of all true Masons.

Abif - his father

An honorary title given to Hiram, the Tyrian builder. The word is used often in original Hebrew scriptures, but it does not appear in English versions.

Abraham - father of a multitude

Abraham, earlier known as Abram, the son of Terah of Ur, and whose name was changed to Abraham by God, was the founder of the Hebrew race. He was noted for his faith, for piety, and for his loyalty to God.


The timber of the Shittim tree, widely used in making the sacred furniture of the Temple. In speculative Masonry, the term is used as a symbol of the immortality of the soul.


The Latin accipere, receive, was from ad, meaning "to," and capere, meaning "take," therefore to take, to receive. The passive apprenticeship and initiation, but after the participle of this was acceptus. In Operative Masonry members were admitted through course of time, and when the Craft had begun to decay, gentlemen who had no intention of doing builders' work but were interested in the Craft for social, or perhaps for antiquarian reasons, were accepted" into membership; to distinguish these gentlemen Masons from the Operatives in the membership they were called the "Accepted." After 1717, when the whole Craft was revolutionized into a Fraternity, all members became non-Operatives, hence our use of the word in such phrases as "Free and Accepted Masons."

Accord - agreement; concurrence

To make to conform or agree; bring into harmony. Required of all Masons in order to attain true Brotherhood.

Active Member

An active member is one who maintains his membership in a Masonic Lodge by the payment of his regular dues and who takes part in the work and responsibilities of the Craft. One who fails to do these things may remain a Mason in heart, but deprives himself of the benefits of membership.

Adam - earthborn: ruddy

This is the name given to the first man in Biblical creation, and the name denotes that he was derived from the ground, are symbolized in the Entered Apprentice degree as the candidate comes into his first perception of Masonic Light.


The Worshipful Master is the sole judge with reference to the adjournment of a Lodge.

Admonish; Admonition

One of the most exacting duties in the ethics of Freemasonry is that a Mason shall not publicize the faults of a Brother Mason, but shall whisper good counsel in his ear. An admonition must be given with the language of brotherly affection, the magic tongue of love, and with the persuasive attitude of "mercy unrestrained."

Adonai - The lord

While this proper name is not found in our English Bible, it occurs in several passages of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and is the special title of the pre-incarnate Son of God. 

Adoniram - high lord

Chief receiver of tribute under David and Solomon.  He was appointed by Solomon to superintend the contribution towards building the temple, as well as the levy of 30,000 Israelites, to work by monthly courses in the forest of Lebanon.   He was designated as the one person whom the three Grand Masters had intended first to receive the communication of certain secret knowledge reserved as a fitting reward to be bestowed upon meritorious craftsmen at the completion of the Temple.  Thus he is referred to as "the first of the Fellow Crafts."

Adoration - reverent honor

A fundamental tenet of Freemasonry is that God is supreme, preeminent, and exalted above all creation, and the He alone is to be worshipped. Throughout all of the Degrees and in all of the ritual of Masonry God is worshipped in adorations which are expressed in both silent and oral prayers, and by different reverent positions of the body.


Going from one degree to the next after showing proficiency in the preceding degree.

Adversity - A State of ill-fortune or destitution

Freemasonry believes that adversity should be accepted as a test of character and met with courage and prayer. Also, a Mason should go to the aid of a Brother Mason in adversity.

Adverse Ballot

In case the ballot on a petition for the degrees or for affiliation is adverse, the Master may, if he so desires, spread the ballot again to make certain no error occurred. In so doing, he should state his reason for the second spreading. The ballot shall not be spread a third time.


Ancient Egyptian Order Nobles Mystic Shrine (Prince Hall Shrine).


Filius is Latin for son, filia for daughter; the prefix "af" is a form of the Latin ad, meaning to add to. To be affiliated means therefore to be adopted into a family as a son or daughter, a meaning that beautifully covers a Mason's relation to his Lodge once he has affiliated with it.


Affirmations instead of oaths are entirely inadmissible in Freemasonry.

Age, Lawful

This term is generally used of the age at which a young man becomes a lawful citizen.

This is the age when a man may apply to join a Masonic Lodge. In many jurisdictions, it is the age of twenty-one (21); in others, such as the Grand Lodge of Missouri, it is eighteen (18).


 In conformity with.

Aid of Deity

A fundamental principle of Freemasonry as illustrated in David's intercession for Solomon for the task of building the Temple.


The Latin for weapons, or arms, was arma. Our "art" and "article" came from the same root, art meaning something originally made by the use of the arms, hands and fingers. The English "alarm" goes back directly to the Italian alle arme, and ultimately to the Latin ad arma so that "alarm" means "to arms, signifying that something has happened of possible danger. A knock at the Lodge door is so named because it calls for alertness, lest the wrong man be permitted to enter.

An alarm in Freemasonry means "a notice of the approach of someone desiring admission," given by the Tiler by three distinct knocks on the door.  An alarm of a different character given by the tiler signifies the desire for communication with the Lodge for some other reason.


A Mason owes allegiance first to the Lodge in which membership is held; and, second, to the Grand Lodge under which the Lodge is chartered. Should there be a conflict between the regulations of the Lodge and the supreme body (Grand Lodge), then allegiance to the supreme body is mandatory.


An allegory is a story told through symbols, or an idea so expressed.


The Greeks called a place of public assembly agora; from this they built the word agoreuein, meaning speak, in the sense of addressing a public. When to this is added alias, meaning another, the compound gives us our "allegory," which is the speaking about one thing in the terms of something else. In Masonry we have the allegory of Solomon's Temple, of a journey, of the legend of a martyr builder, etc., in each case the acting and describing of one thing being intended to refer to some other thing. For example, the building of Solomon's Temple is described, not for the purpose of telling how that structure was erected, but to suggest boxy men may work together in brotherliness at a common task.

Analogy or comparison; a story told to illustrate a principle. It comes from the Greek meaning "to say something different."

All Seeing Eye

A perpetual and permanent symbol in the Lodge and work of Freemasonry, signifying the omnipresence and omniscience of God. An emblem reminding us that we are constantly in God's presence.

What is the source of this symbol and its meaning?  An important symbol borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity.  Among the Egyptians, Osiris, their chief deity was symbolized by an open eye.  "The eyes of Jehovah are in every place," beholding and watching, the evil and the good.  The "All-Seeing Eye" is a symbol of watchfulness and the eye of the Grand Architect.  It is the symbol of his Divine watchfulness and care of the Universe.  The All-Seeing Eye, whom the Sun, Moon, and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits. The "Rays" represent "Light".  Freemasons are emphatically called "The Sons of Light" because they are entitled to be in possession of the true meaning and knowledge of this symbol.  It is in fact the first of all symbols presented to the initiate, and continues to be presented to him in various forms throughout his Masonic career.  But as Light not only came from God, it also makes mans way clear before him, so it is employed to signify moral truth.


An officer elected or appointed in the continental Lodges of Europe to take charge of the contents of the alms-box, to carry into effect the charitable resolutions of the Lodge, and to visit sick and needy brethren.  In the United States this officer does not exist, his duties being performed by a committee of charity.

Almsgiving - gratuitously relieving the poor

This virtue is intimately interwoven with the whole superstructure of Freemasonry and its practice is inculcated by all the principles of the Order.  The initiate is early instructed in the beauty of charity by the most impressive ceremonies, and the same benevolent designs are repeated as he advances to higher degrees.  No true Mason can live for himself alone; he must live for others who need his assistance.  He must give, expecting nothing in return, without consideration of future advantages, and wholly free of mercenary aims. 

Solemnly charged upon all Masons on the basis of Divine Commandments.


A box which, toward the close of the Lodge, is handed around by an appropriate officer for the reception of such donations for general objects of charity as the brethren may feel disposed to bestow.


First and last Greek letters of the alphabet. The beginning and the end of all things; the first and the last, often mentioned in the Scriptures and in several of the Masonic degrees.

Altar - place of sacrifice or worship

Alt, in Latin, referred to height, preserved in our "altitude;" this root appeared in altare, literally meaning a "high place." In primitive religion it was a common practice to make sacrifices, or conduct worship, on the top of a hill, or high platform, so that "altar" came to be applied to any stone, post, platform, or other elevation used for such purposes. In. the Lodge the altar is the most holy place.

The altar holds the central place in the Lodge room of Freemasons. Lying on the altar is the Holy bible, the principal Light of Masons, which is open during the work of the Lodge. Here, Masons voluntarily kneel and assume the oaths and obligations of the several Degrees.


From the Hebrew meaning "verily, truly, certainly." One person confirms the words of another, and adds his wish for the success of another. Masonically, answered by "So mote it be."


In those Degrees of Masonry where the ceremonies and instructions relate to life and death, man's journey over the sea of life is symbolized by Noah's Ark, and the hope of immortality and a safe landing in the haven of eternal security is symbolized by the anchor.


Old, time honored.

Ancient Craft Masonry

The degrees that constitute Ancient Craft Masonry are the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason; and the Supreme Order of the Royal Arch, since this Rite is a compliment of the Third Degree of Blue Lodge Masonry.

Anger - vexation; ire; rage

The tenets of Freemasonry teach its members to avoid and to subdue every element of ire and wrath, or enraged emotions and malicious emotions and sentiments.

Anno Benefacio (A.B.) 

Latin for "In the Year of the Blessing." Used by the Order of High Priesthood for dating their documents. (1930 added to the current date.)

Anno Depositionis (A.Dep.) 

Latin for "In the Year of the Deposit. "The Cryptic Masonic date designation. (Add 1000 to the current date.)

Anno Domini (A.D.) 

Latin for "Year of our Lord."

Anno Inventionis (A.I.)

Latin meaning "In the Year of Discovery." The Royal Arch date designation. (Add 530 to the current date.)

Anno Lucis (A.L.) 

Latin mean­ing "In the Year of Light," the date used by Ancient Craft Masonry. (Add 4000 to the current date.)

Anno Mundi (A.M.)

Latin meaning "In the Year of the World." The date used by the Scottish Rite. (Add 3760 to the current year until September; if after September, add 3761.

Anno Ordinnis (A.O.)

Latin meaning "In the Year of the Order." The date used by the Knights Templar. Subtract 1118 from the current date.)

Annual Communication

Many of the Grand Lodges of the United States hold only one annual meeting; thus reviving the ancient custom of a yearly Grand Assembly.  At these annual communications it is usual for the three principal Lodge officers to receive a per diem allowance for their mileage and traveling expenses.

Annual Proceedings

Every Grand Lodge in the United States publishes a full account of its proceedings at its Annual Communication, to which is also almost always added a list of the subordinate Lodges and their numbers.  Some of these Annual Proceedings extend to a considerable size, and they are all valuable as giving an accurate and official account of the condition of Masonry in each State for the past year.  They also frequently contain valuable reports of various committees.


To apply oil to, or pour oil on, particularly holy oil as a sign of elevation to kingship or consecration to priesthood. Hence, "anointed," one accepted by the Lord, as "The Lord's anointed." . Comes from the custom of the Egyptians and Jews.

Anxiety - painful uneasiness

Freemasonry discourages every form of undue concern about material things, and stresses simple trust in God and his providences.


belonging to, or connected with, as a rightful part or attribute; relating to


In Latin apprehendre meant to lay hold of a thing in the sense of learning to understand it, the origin of our "apprehend." This became contracted into apprendre and was applied to a young man beginning to learn a trade. The latter term came into circulation among European languages and, through the Operative Masons, gave us our "apprentice," that is, one who is beginning to learn Masonry. An "Entered Apprentice" is one whose name has been entered in the books of the Lodge.

Comes from the Latin word apprehendre meaning "to grasp to master a thing" Hence the leaner


In early English, napron was used of a cloth, a tablecloth, whence our napery, napkin; it apparently was derived from the Latin map pa, the source of "map." "Apron is a misdivided form of "a napron," and meant a cloth, more particularly a cloth tied on in front to protect the clothes. The Operative Masons wore a leather apron out of necessity; when the craft became speculative this garment, so long identified with building work was retained as the badge of Masons; also as a symbol of purity, a meaning attached to it, probably, in comparatively recent times, though of this one cannot be certain.

The badge of a Mason. Originally among priesthoods as a badge of office and a means of ornamentation. The Masonic apron should be white lambskin, fourteen inches wide and twelve inches deep. From the French word napron meaning "an apron of cloth." From earliest times in Persia, Egypt, India, the Jewish Essenes, the white apron was a badge of honor and candidates were invested with it, or a sash, or a robe. Its reference is to purity of heart, to innocence of conduct.

The use of an apron or some equivalent investiture, as a mystic symbol, was common among Ancient Masons. Hence, in the First Degree of Freemasonry, the initiate, at his initiation and not at some subsequent time, is presented with the pure white lambskin apron as a reminder of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe resides forever. This apron becomes his permanent property as the "badge of a Freemason." As he advances in Masonry, he may receive other aprons of varying types, but never one that equals this first one in emblematic significance and Masonic value.

Apron, Washington's

George Washington was presented with an apron at Mount Vernon by the Marquis Lafayette. Many of the emblems of Freemasonry had been wrought in the needlework upon white satin by Madam Lafayette for the making of this apron, and it was conveyed from Paris to George Washington's home Lodge by Lafayette himself as a special honor.

Arch, Holy Royal

Job compares Heaven to an arch supported by pillars. This is, of course, allegorical, even as is the name "Holy Royal Arch" degree in Masonry. The pillars which support the arch are emblematical of Wisdom and Strength; the former denoting the wisdom of the Supreme Architect, and the latter the stability of the universe.


One who designs buildings.


The art or science of building. 

Architecture is one of the first occupations in which man employed himself.  The science commenced with miserable huts; the next step was to erect altars on which to offer sacrifices to the gods; regular dwellings followed next in rotation, after which, in rapid succession, came palaces for princes, bridges over the most rapid streams to facilitate communication; pyramids and cathedrals, proudly pointing to the heavens.  Thus we have inherited the title of Mason from one of the most ancient and most honorable occupations of mankind.  The working tools of an operative Mason have become our symbols, because we can find no better or more expressive ones.  No occupation is so widely extended; and so closely connected with others, as that of a Mason; and the various paths by which mankind strive to gain an entrance into the imperishable temple are innumerable.

The five orders of architecture recognized in Freemasonry are Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite. The Doric order represents the West; the Corinthian Column represents the South. The Gothic, or pointed style of architecture, was intimately connected with the Middle Ages, over which Freemasonry maintained exclusive control.


A place for the safe keeping of records and historical documents; the records themselves.

Our traditions state that the hollow of the cylinder of the pillars, Boaz and Jachin, was used as the archives of Masonry, and contained the sacred rolls which comprised the history of the Hebrew nation, their civil and religious life, the works of the prophetical and inspired writers, and the complete system of universal science.

Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant was a chest originally constructed according to specific instructions given to Moses by God, and was the only article placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Within the Ark were placed the two tables or tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were engraved, Aaron's baton which had budded as a token of his divine appointment to the office of High Priest, and a pot of manna.

It was at first deposited in the most sacred place in the tabernacle, and afterwards placed by Solomon in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple.  When the Temple was destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, the Ark was carried to Babylon and destroyed.

Artificers - a craftsman or skilled workmen

A skilled worker, craftsman. A person adept at designing and constructing, an inventor. Tubal-cain was the first notable artificer mentioned in history. The best available of these master craftsmen were employed in the building of the Temple.


Is the art of numbering, or that part of the mathematics which considers the properties of numbers in general.  We have but a very imperfect idea of things without quantity, and as imperfect of quantity itself, without the help of Arithmetic.  All of the works of the Almighty are made in number, weight and measure; therefore, to understand them rightly, we ought to understand arithmetical calculations; and the greater advancement we make in the mathematical sciences, the more capable we shall be of considering such things as are the ordinary objects of our conceptions, and be thereby led to a more comprehensive knowledge of our great Creator, and the works of the creation.


Branches of learning, as in the lecture of the F.C. degree. In E.A. degree: skills.

Arts, Liberal

The seven liberal arts and sciences are Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Logic, Music, Geometry, and Astronomy.  They are beautifully explained in the second, or Fellowcraft's degree

Arts, Parts and Points

These terms are used in the mysteries of Masonry. Arts represents the knowledge or things made known; Parts, the degrees into which Masonry is divided; and Points, the rules and usages of Masonry.

Arts and Sciences

Freemasonry recognizes the seven principal arts and sciences as: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.

Asher - fortunate; happy

Asher was the eighth some on Jacob and the founder of the tribe of the same name. In the tribal blessings promised to him, his tribe was to enjoy richness and royal dainties. Hence, entrusting the Masonic initiates with the mysteries of the Order is symbolized by the tribe of Asher, as it was said that he was an inheritor of richness and royal dainties.


The Latin assis was a board or plank; in the diminutive form, assula, it meant a small board, like a shingle, or a chip. In this connection it is interesting to note that our "axle" and' "axis" were derived from it. In early English this became asheler and was used to denote a stone in the rough as it came from the quarries. The Operative Masons called such a stone a "rough ashlar," and when it had been shaped and finished for its place in the wall they called it a "perfect ashlar."

In Speculative Masonry we adopt the ashlar in two different states, as symbols in the Apprentice's degree.  The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, is emblematic of man in his natural state--ignorant, uncultivated and vicious.  But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and purifying his life, he then is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skillful hands of the workmen, has been smoothed, and squared, and fitted for its place in the building.  

An Apprentice is a rough ashlar, because unfinished, whereas a Master Mason is a perfect ashlar, because he has been shaped for his place in the organization of the Craft.

A block of stone from which a column, capital, or other finished product is carved or hewn; A stone as taken from the quarry; an unpolished stone.

Ask, Seek, Knock

The applicant for membership in Freemasonry Asks for acceptance, Seeks for Light, and Knocks for initiation.


One who eagerly seeks to know or to obtain something.  It is applied to one about to be initiated into Masonry.  There seems, however, to be a shade of difference in meaning between the words candidate and aspirant.   The candidate is one who asks for admission; so called from the Lat. candidatus "clothed in white," because candidates for office at Rome wore a white dress.  The aspirant is one already elected and in the process of initiation, and coming from aspiro, to seek eagerly, refers to the earnestness with which he prosecutes his search for light and truth.


Is that sublime science which inspires the contemplative mind to soar aloft, and read the wisdom, strength, and beauty of the great Creator in the heavens.  How nobly eloquent of the Deity is the celestial hemisphere!--spangled with the most magnificent heralds of his infinite glory!  They speak to the whole universe; for there is no speech so barbarous, but their language is understood; nor nation so distant, but their voices are heard among them.  The heavens proclaim the glory of God; The firmament declareth the works of his hands.  Assisted by Astronomy, we ascertain the laws which govern the heavenly bodies, and by which their motions are directed; investigate the power by which they circulate in their orbs, discover their size, determine their distance, explain their various phenomena, and correct the fallacy of the senses by the light of truth.

Atheism - denial of the existence of a Supreme Deity

No atheist can become a Mason. Every candidate must confess faith in God before crossing the threshold of the Lodge. This confession is an essential element in all the work of a Masonic Lodge.


The Greek for God was theos; when the j prefix a was placed before it, we get the origin j of "atheism," signifying a denial of the god, or gods. The word should be distinguished from "agnosticism," which means neither to affirm nor to deny but to remain in doubt; and from "infidel," which means that one does not believe some doctrine. Christians call Mohammedans "infidels" because they do not believe the Bible; Mohammendans call Christians "infidels" because they do not believe the Koran. Inasmuch as Masonry requires of a petitioner that he believe in God the atheist is automatically excluded from the Fraternity.

One who does not believe in God, or who denies the physical, moral, and spiritual evidences of a Creator endowed with supreme power, omniscience, justice, and love which fill the universe.  A belief in a God is one of the Landmarks of the Masonic Order.

Audi, Vide, Tace

These Latin words form the motto often found on Masonic medals and documents. They mean: Hear, See, Be Silent.


 to acknowledge


The regulations by which avouchments are to be governed appear to be three:  (1)  A Mason may vouch for another, if he has sat in Lodge with him.  (2) He may vouch for him if he has subjected him to a skillful private examination.  (3)  He may also vouch for him if he has received positive information of his Masonic character from a competent and reliable Brother.  Of these three, the first is the safest, and the last the most dangerous.  It is essential that the voucher should be a skillful Mason, for it is better to subject the visitor to a formal examination, than to take the avouchment of an unknowing Brother, though he may declare that he has sat in Lodge with the person desirous of being admitted.

Award Certificate

A document that accompanies an award and certifies its issue.  Award certificates have the original or facsimile signature of the authorizing official or official and often their seal of office.  Typically, award certificates are embellished documents adorned with such elements as decorative lettering, a representation of the badge of the award, and the national or Masonic coat of arms.  Synonymous terms are award document, bestowal document, brevet, and diploma.


Reverential fear; amazement


Sky-blue.  The appropriate color of the symbolic Lodge.  A favorite color in heraldry; employed in blazonry.

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Babbler - senseless talker

Freemasonry recognizes the unprofitableness of vague and senseless talk, and forbids babbling in and out of Lodge.

Backbiting - slandering an absent party

Every form of slander, especially the speaking of evil of an absent Brother, is expressly forbidden by the principles and laws of Freemasonry.


told; ordered; requested; directed

Badge of a Mason

See Apron (above).

Ballot Box  

The box in which the ballots or little balls or cubes used in voting for a candidate are deposited.  It should be divided into two compartments, one of which is to contain both black and white balls, from which each member selects one, and the other, which is shielded by a partition provided with an aperture, to receive the ball that is to be deposited.  Various methods have been devised by which secrecy may be secured, so that a voter may select and deposit the ball he desires without the possibility of its being seen whether it is black or white. 


Balloting on the acceptance or rejection of a candidate is secret; small round white and black balls are used in voting. White balls elect; black balls reject. In casting the ballot, all members are required to base their ballot on personal knowledge, information of the committee on investigation, and reputed character of the candidate. Under no circumstances are members to allow themselves to be influenced by personal likes and dislikes of the candidate or by a spirit of prejudice or revenge.

Every member is required to vote conscientiously for the good of the Order and in Brotherly consideration of the applicant. The candidate is rejected if one or more black balls are cast against him.

Banishment - compulsory exile of one who is unworthy

The practice of Freemasonry in banishing from its membership unworthy persons is fully sustained by Biblical authority and practice.


The removal of one or both shoes has been for many hundreds of years a token of reverence and a symbol of yielding one's self to the control and sovereignty of another.


Operative Masonry has as its chief objective beauty and symmetry in architecture in building of King Solomon's Temple; speculative Masonry emphasizes the beauty of character and the virtues of true manhood.  Symbolically, Beauty is one of the three supports of the Lodge.  It is represented by the Corinthian column, the most beautiful of the ancient orders of Architecture; also by the Junior Warden, because he symbolizes the meridian sun, the most beautiful object in the heavens.  Hiram Abif is represented by the Column of Beauty, because the beauty and glory of the Temple were due to his skill.


Among the ancients, the beehive was a symbol of an obedient people and an emblem of systematized industry. Hence, Freemasonry has adopted the beehive as a symbol on industry -- a virtue stressed in ritual and by lectures. It recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile in the dust.  It teaches us that we came into the world rational and human beings, so should we ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow creatures around us are in want, if it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves.  What one may not be able to accomplish alone may be easily performed when all work together at one task.


A Lodge must never be closed without a solemn invocation of Divine Blessing.

Benevolence - disposition to do good; charitableness

Strictly speaking, Freemasonry is not to be classified as a benevolent institution; but the disposition and practice of benevolence of the widest and most generous scope are strongly stressed by the Fraternity.

Masons are taught to look upon all mankind as formed by the Grand Architect of the Universe in a spirit of sympathy and love and to discharge the duties of benevolence in the widest and most generous scope. 


Prejudice; influence or affect unduly

Bible - sacred Book of Christendom

Masons accept this Book and believe in it as the Law of God, as the Great Light of Freemasonry. It is an open Book on the altar during all work of the Lodge, and certain appropriate passages are used for the different Degrees.

Bigotry - intolerance toward those of different creeds or religious affiliations

Masonry has always been bitterly opposed to religious intolerance of every kind. As an institution, it has bee the harbinger of religious and civil freedom, liberty of conscience, and separation of church and state.

Blazing Star

The Blazing Star, which is not, however, to be confounded with the Five-Pointed Star, is one of the most important symbols of Freemasonry, and makes its appearance in several of the degrees. 

The Blazing Star is symbolic of a true Mason, who, by perfecting himself in the way of truth, that is to say, by advancing in knowledge, becomes like a blazing star, shining with brilliancy in the midst of darkness.  The star is, therefore, a symbol of truth.

In English lodges, symbolizes sun which enlightens the earth, dispensing its blessings to all mankind and giving light and life to all things.

Symbol of light; of Divine direction in the journey through life.


Blue is the color of Freemasonry. As the color of the vault of Heaven, it is to a Mason the symbol of universal friendship and benevolence, and instructs us that, in the mind of a Mason, those virtues should be as expansive as the blue arch of Heaven itself.. Expect for white, blue is the only color ever used for decoration in a Master Mason's Lodge.

Blue Lodge

The name "Blue Lodge" designates the Symbolic Lodge in which the first three degrees are conferred.

A term which has grown into use over the years meaning the three degrees of the lodge, or Symbolic Masonry. In the early years, Master Masons wore blue lined aprons. Blue is symbolic of perfection, benevolence, truth, universal friendship, fidelity.

Boaz - strength, in strength

Comes from the Hebrew meaning "in strength." The name of the left-hand pillar that stood on the porch of King Solomon's Temple, and adopted into speculative Masonry because of its symbolic meaning. Like the other of the two pillars which stood at the porch of the Temple, Jachin by name, this pillar was highly ornamented; but more important was its emblematical import.  It was broken to pieces by the Babylonians and carried to the city of Babylon.

Book of Constitutions

An emblem of law signifying that our moral and spiritual character is grounded in law and order and that no man can live a satisfying life who lives lawlessly.

Book of Constitutions Guarded by the Tyler's Sword

An admonishment to the Mason that he should be guarded in his words and actions; obedience to the law.

Book Of The Law 

The sacred book which reveals the will of God. To Christians, the Bible; to the Brahman, the Vedas, etc.

Bourn; Bourne

A boundary, as between properties; limit

Brass - hard metal formerly made primarily of copper, but later of certain alloys

This metal was used extensively in the building of the Temple.

Brazen Pillars

See Pillars of the Porch

Breast to Breast

See Points of Fellowship

Breast, The Faithful

One of the three precious jewels of a Fellowcraft.  It symbolically teaches the initiate that the lessons which he has received from the instructive tongue of the Master are not to be listened to and lost, but carefully treasured in his heart, and that the precepts of the Order constitute a covenant which he is faithfully to observe.


The term is used in speaking of Masons, and in this connection is preferable to "brothers."

Broken Column

Columns or pillars were used among the early Hebrews to signify nobles or princes, as if they were pillars of state; it is from such that we get the expression "pillar of the church." Thus, a broken column would signify a "fallen prince," the weakening of the state.

Masonically, the broken column refers to the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft; an untimely death.


This word is one of the oldest, as it is one of the most beautiful, in any language. Nobody knows where or when it originated, but it is certain that it existed in the Sanskrit, in a form strikingly similar to that used by us. In Greek it was phrater, in the Latin frater, whence our "fraternal" and "fraternalism." It has always meant men from the same parents, or men knit by very close blood ties. When associated with "initiation, which las the general meaning of "being born into," one can see how appropriate is its k use in Freemasonry. All of us have, through initiation in our "mother" Lodges, been born into a Masonry and therefore we are "brothers," and that which holds us together in one great family is the "Mystic Tie," the Masonic analogue of the blood tie among kinsmen.

Brotherly Love

Freemasonry recognizes the Divine requirement that godly men love their neighbors and that this love should be for all mankind. Emphasis is lain upon the privilege and duty of special love for members of the Fraternity. There are certain bonds and obligations in Freemasonry which are fulfilled only in the spirit of true brotherhood.

We are taught to regard the whole human species as one family--the high, the low, the rich, the poor--who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other.  On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.  In the Masonic Fraternity, the candidate for the mysteries of Freemasonry is impressed with the fact that the great principles of the Order are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth in the initiatory Rites, and throughout his advancement.  The mode and manner for the practice of these principles are detailed in words and illustrated in symbols, so there can be no cause for error in understanding or failure in practice.  Emphatic throughout the ritual of the Masonic Fraternity are the teachings of the greater Light of Masonry that Brotherly Love is to be more than an abstract principle; it is to be in deed and in truth.


The chief architect of the Temple of Solomon, "Hiram Abif," was often called "the Builder."  But the word is also applied to the Craft.  In speculative Masonry every member is as much a builder as was his operative predecessor.  Masons are moral builders.  In the ritual it is declared that they have "a more noble and glorious purpose than squaring stones and hewing timbers, which is fitting immortal nature for that spiritual building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."  "The Builder" is therefore the most noble title that can be bestowed upon a Mason

Building of the Temple

Speculative Masonry was evolved from the organization of the workmen in the construction of Solomon's Temple and the union of operative masons who labored on that notable and Holy Building. Much of the ritual is traced directly back to the building of the Temple.


From time immemorial, Freemasons have given special attention to the interment of their dead, and the proper burial of a Brother Mason is regarded as a sacred and binding duty. Solemn, beautiful and profoundly meaningful burial rites and ceremonies are provided for deceased Brothers where such are requested by the Brother himself or by members of his family.

Busybodies - meddling persons

The principles and tenets of Freemasonry forbid every form of whispering, talebearing, gossiping and slander.


Every Lodge has the power of framing by-laws for its own government, provided they are not contrary to or inconsistent with the general regulations of the Grand Lodge.  The Old Constitutions provide that the by-laws of the Lodge shall be delivered to the master on the day of his installation, when he shall solemnly pledge himself to observe and enforce them during his mastership.  Every brother shall also sign them when he becomes a member of the Lodge, as a declaration of his submission to them.

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Not regular.

Cable's Length

a maritime unit of length; about 100 fathoms or 600 feet

Cable Tow

A cable tow is a rope or line for drawing or leading. A compound word of Masonic coinage combining cable (a rope) and tow (a rope for pulling). Symbolically, it represents the covenant by which all Masons are bound; the tie by which the candidate is bound to his brethren; the length of a Mason's cable tow is the scope of his ability to go to the relief of a brother in need.

Gaedicke says that, "according to the ancient laws of Freemasonry, every brother must attend his Lodge if he is within the length of his cable tow."  The old writers define the length of a cable tow, which they sometimes called, "a cable's length," to be three miles (in present time it is usually considered about forty miles) for an Entered Apprentice.  But the expression is really symbolic and, as it was defined by the Baltimore Convention in 1842, means the scope of a man's reasonable ability.

Cabul - sterile

As an expression of appreciation for the assistance given him in the building of the Temple by Hiram, King of Tyre, Solomon presented to him a district in northern Galilee containing twenty small towns. The area was barren and quite poor. Hiram gave to the district the name "Cabal," meaning "displeasing."

Calendar, Masonic

Masons date their official documents in a manner peculiar to themselves. The various dates for the different bodies are based on important points in history.

Call From Labor to Refreshment

When expediency requires the suspension of the work of the Lodge in the Master's Degree for some special reason, the Worshipful Master may close the Lodge without the usual formal closing ceremonies, and in so doing this phrase is used.


Among Romans it was the custom for a man seeking office to wear a shining white robe. Since the name for such a color was candidus (whence our "candid"), the office seeker came to be called candidate. In our ceremonies the custom is reversed: the candidate is clothed after his election instead of before.


A tent-like covering. "Canopy of heaven", the sky.

Undoubtedly this term, whether qualified with the words "celestial" or "cloudy," refers to the expanse of the heavens.  The term symbolizes the universal sphere of Freemasonry; it has its seat in every clime under the heavens.  It also teaches how widely extensive is the sphere of usefulness for a Mason.


Of basic importance; main; primary; essential; principal

In Masonry we have "cardinal points" and "cardinal virtues." The Greeks had kradan, meaning, "swing on," and the Romans had cardo, meaning "hinge." The roots mean that on which a thing swings, or hinges, on which a thing depends or hangs, therefore anything that is of fundamental or pivotal, importance. A member of the Sacred College of the Roman Church is a Cardinal because of the importance of his office, which ranks next in dignity to that of the Pope. The cardinal points of the compass are those from which are determined all other points, north, east, south, west; the cardinal virtues are those which are fundamental to all other virtues.

Cardinal Points

East: Wisdom; West: Strength; South: Beauty; North: Darkness.

Cardinal Virtues

Cardinal comes from the Latin cardo meaning "chief or fundamental."  These are the preeminent or principal virtues of which all others hinge. As set forth in the Entered Apprentice Degree, they are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice - virtues of morality as laid down by Plato. 

Fortitude, by which we are taught to resist temptation; Prudence, by which we are instructed to regulate our conduct by the dictates of reason; Temperance, by which we learn to govern the passions; Justice, which constitutes the cement of civil society. 


Freemasonry recognizes the fact that man has certain fleshly appetites which are natural to humanity, and admits their satisfaction in a temperate measure through legitimate channels (marriage). Yet, Freemasonry teaches moderation, self-control, temperateness, regularity, and lawfulness in all carnal desires and relations.


A kind of map, on which are pictured the emblems illustrative of the several degrees of Freemasonry, and by reference to which neophytes are instructed.  They were formally traced upon the floor, hence the term carpet. 


A container provided by the issuing authority for the storage and transportation of jewels and badges.  The case is meant to compliment the jewel and accompanies it during presentation.  A typical case is attractive and well constructed and consists of a lid hinged to a bottom compartment, a button type tension catch to open and close the lid, and interior satin lining.  The exterior of the case has a covering of Leatherette or some other texture, and the top of the lid is often stamped with the name of the maufacturer.  A synonymous term is presentation case.


Instructions of Freemasonry.


Members of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, a non-Masonic organization composed of Freemasons.

Cedars of Lebanon

Among the finest and most perfect cedars ever known in history of the world were those of Lebanon. Through his alliance with Hiram, King of Tyre, Solomon secured cedars from these mountains for use in construction of the Temple.

Celestial Canopy

Symbolic covering of the lodge; heavenly.


What is the mystic tie of Fraternalism?  The symbolic tie that binds men together, the cement of brotherly love.  The Lodge is strongly cemented with love and friendship, and every brother is duly taught secrecy and prudence, morality and good fellowship.

Brotherly love binds Freemasons of all countries, races and creeds in one common brotherhood.


Condemnation or blame


The Latin caerimonia referred to a set of formal acts having a sacred, or revered, character. A ceremony differs from a merely formal act in that it has a religious significance; a formality becomes a ceremony only when it is made sacred. A "ceremony" may be individual, or may involve only two persons; a rite" (see below under "ritual") is more public, and necessarily involves many. An "observance" is public, as when the whole nation "observes" Memorial Day. A "Master of Ceremonies" is one who directs and regulates forms, rites and ceremonies.

Chain, Mystic

This is the formation of the Brethren in a circle, holding each other by the hands.  Each brother crosses his arms in front of his body, giving his right hand to his left hand neighbor and his left hand to his right hand neighbor.  It is a symbol of the close connection of all Masons in a common brotherhood, and is usually practiced around the grave in Masonic Burials.

Chalk, Charcoal and Clay

By these three substances are beautifully symbolized the three qualifications for the servitude of an Entered Apprentice--freedom, fervency, and zeal.  Chalk is the freest of all substances, because the slightest touch leaves a trace behind.  Charcoal, the most fervent, because to it, when ignited, the most obdurate metals yield; and clay, the most zealous, because it is constantly employed in man's service, and is constantly reminding us that from it we all came, and to it we must all return.  In the earlier lectures of the last century, the symbols, with the same interpretation, were given as "Chalk, Charcoal, and Earthen Pan."


In the erection of King Solomon's Temple, a series of chambers were built on three sides of the Temple (north, south and west). This building against the wall of the Temple were three stories high (30 feet). These small chambers were used for Temple offices and for storage.


The ornamental tops or capitals of pillars; the uppermost part of a column, pillar, or pilaster, forming the head or crown and placed immediately over the shaft and under the entablature.  Because of the highly ornamented and peculiarly constructed chapiters of the two pillars which stood in the porch of King Solomon's Temple, they are largely referred to and explained in the FellowCraft's Degree. 


So called from the "Old Charges," because, like them, it contains an epitome of duty.  It is the admonition which is given by the presiding officer, at the close of the ceremony of initiation, to the candidate, and which the latter receives standing, as a token of respect.  There is a charge for each degree, which is to be found in all of the monitors and manuals from Preston onwards.

Among the most beautiful and forceful features of the work of Masonry are the solemn and exacting charges given to the candidate as he advances from one Degree to another.

Charity - acts of inward love

The Greeks had a word, charisma, meaning a gift, and a number of words from the same root, variously suggesting rejoicing, gladness. The Latins had a similar word, carus, and meaning dear, possibly connected with am or, signifying love. From these roots came "grace," meaning a free, unbought gift, as in the theological phrase, "the grace of God," and "charity." Strictly speaking, charity is an act done freely, and spontaneously out of friendship, not as a civic duty and grudgingly, as is sometimes the case in public charity. The Masonic use of the word is much nearer this original sense, for a Mason extends relief to a needy brother not as a duty but out of friendship.

The three great cardinal virtues are Faith, Hope and Love. Charity as an act of genuine, heart-felt love is so closely related that it is sometimes employed in the place of Love, and is regarded as one of the three great cardinal virtues. Charity in its various implications and forms of action hold a high place in the life of every Freemason.


In Latin charta was a paper, a card, a map; in Medieval Latin this became an official paper, as in the case of "Magna Charta." Our "chart" and "card" are derived from the same root. A Masonic charter is the written paper, or instrument, empowering a group of brethren to act as a Lodge.

A document setting forth a set of granted rights and privileges given by the Grand Lodge to the constituent Lodge at the tinic of Constitution.  The Master is its custodian, and must see to its security at all times.  The charter must be in the Lodge room during all communications of the Lodge, preferably in the Master's charge, but it may be on the Secretary's desk, or in the archives of the Lodge. It should not be framed to hang on the wall.  The request of a visitor to inspect the charter in advance be granted or refused.  Should the charter be lost or destroyed, the Grand Master or Grand Secretary should be notified at once. Pending the issuing of a duplicate charter, a permission, or dispensation to continue work should be obtained from the Grand Master.

Chasity - purity in sexual relations

Freemasonry stands uncompromisingly for the purity of womanhood and for the protection of a woman's chastity. Sacred obligations with respect to certain phases of chastity have been assumed by every Mason, and he is bound in honor and under severe penalties to keep untainted these obligations.


To correct by discipline.

Checkered Floor

The Mosaic Pavement.

Christian Virtues

Faith, Hope, and Charity.


A figure which has neither beginning nor end and symbolizes eternity; the universe.


In Masonic terminology this is the technical name of that ceremony in which the candidate walks around the Lodge. The word 4 is derived from the Latin prefix cireum, meaning "around," and ainbulare, meaning "walk," whence our ambulate, ambulatory, etc.; a circumambulation is therefore a walking around. In ancient religions and mysteries the worshippers walked around an altar; imitating the movements of the sun; this became known as circumambulation, and is the origin of our own ceremony.

The movement is in imitation of the apparent course of the sun, and so is in the form of an ellipse.  After the obligation the Senior Deacon with the candidate should make all turns square.


To draw a line around; to limit in range of activity definitely and clearly.

To draw a circular line by the compasses; symbolic of the boundary line of Masonic conduct. Literally encircled hence limited.


Carefulness in considering all circumstances and possible consequences.


Perhaps no institution or organization has contributed more to good citizenship than Freemasonry. Democratic principles, good government, freedom of conscience and civic liberty have always been championed by Masons. Many of the world's great patriots and statesmen of all nations have been members of the Fraternity. Loyalty to one's government, faithfulness in all the duties of citizenship, and active support of public institutions are demanded throughout all the rituals of Freemasonry.


Covered or clothed


In Anglo Saxon "helan" meant something hidden, or secret, a meaning preserved in "conceal;" "hell," the hidden place, is from the same word. Helan descended' from the Latin celare, hide; and on this was built the Latin clandestinus, secret, hidden, furtive. In English clandestine, thus derived, came to mean a bad secret, one that must be indulged in furtively. A secret may be innocent; it is merely something done without the knowledge of others, and nothing is more common; but a clandestine act is one done in such a way as to elude observation. Clandestine Masonry is a bad kind of irregular and unlawful secret society falsely claiming to be Masonic. In the Constitutions a Clandestine Mason is defined as, "One claiming to be a Free and Accepted Mason not having received the degrees in a Lodge recognized as regular by the Grand Lodge of the State of New York."

Concealed, usually for some secret or illicit purpose. In Freemasonry, illegal, not authorized.

Clay Ground

The use of this term in Masonic work is based on the fact that a special clay found only in the Jordan Valley was used in casting the two great pillars, called Boaz and Jachin, which stood before the Great Porch of Solomon's Temple. This same clay was also used for casting ornaments and vessels used in the Temple.


Opening made by a crack or crevice; a hollow between two parts.

Clefts of the Rocks

The whole of Palestine is very mountainous, and these mountains abound in caves, caverns, and deep clefts, which were anciently used as places of refuge and as dens for robbers.  Hence the concealment of certain persons in the cleft of the rocks in the Third Degree of Masonry. 

Clods of the Valley

This term is used in Masonic ritual in its Biblical meaning and signifies the sweetness of rest for the dead of the Lord.

Closing a Lodge

Adjournment by motion is unknown in a Masonic Lodge; the ceremony for closing is solemn and imperative; it must never be omitted, performed in a hurried or careless manner, nor abbreviated.  The Worshipful Master alone can dismiss the Brethren, and only in conformity to established usage.  See Call from Labor to Refreshment.

Clothed, Properly

With white gloves and apron, and the jewel of his Masonic rank. Today the gloves are usually dispensed with.


In early English cloth was used of garment, dress, and shows up in our clad, cloth, clothe, clothing. Clothing is the set of garments, or coverings, by which the body is protected from the weather and concealed from view. In Masonic usage the meaning is much narrower and more technical; a Mason is clothed when he wears the apron, white gloves, and the emblem of his rank. The apron and gloves are also employed as symbols, though gloves have pretty much fallen into disuse in American Masonry.

It has always been the custom among all peoples for designated officers, leaders, and people of rank to wear special regalia or a particular type of clothing which indicates a person's official position. Based on this custom and upon Biblical examples, and for reasons of dignity and beauty, Masons follow this practice.


It symbolizes "death to the old life"; this death is necessary before one can take part in the mysteries of Freemasonry and enter upon its duties.  Like the "Phoenix," the resurrection to a new life is inferred.  The "Coffin" containing the remains of a deceased friend and Brother reminds Masons that we are the custodians of a great heritage passed along to us in the story of the "Hiramic Legend".


The Masonic colors, like those used in the Jewish tabernacle, are intended to represent the four elements.  The white typifies the earth, the sea is represented by the purple, the sky-blue is an emblem of the air, and the crimson of fire.


The Greeks called the top or summit of anything kolophon; in Latin culmen had a similar meaning; from these origins come our culmination ;" excelsior, colophon, colonnade, colonel, and climax appears to he closely related to it. A "column" is a cylindrical, or slightly tapering, support; a "pillar" is a rectangular support. Either may stand free or be incorporated into the building fabric. The officers of a Lodge are figured as columns because they are the supports of the official fabric of the Lodge. The Great Pillars are symbolical representations of the two pillars, which stood on the Porch of King Solomon's Temple.

From the Latin culmen meaning "a pillar to support or adorn a building." In Masonry the symbolic Significance pertains to the supports of a lodge; Three columns are employed; the columns of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.

Columns, Wardens

Represent Jachin and Boaz. While the lodge is at work the columns are erect and horizontal, respectively; while on refreshment, such positions are reversed.

Common Gavel

The "Common Gavel" is an instrument made use of by operative Masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them for the builder's use, but we as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to use it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our minds as living stones for that spiritual building - that house not made with hands - eternal in the heavens.


There is some dispute as to the origin of this word but usually it is held to have come from communis, a Latin term for general, or universal, whence our common, common wealth, communion, communism, communal and many similar words. To communicate is to share something with others so that all may partake of it; a communication is an act, transaction, or deliberation shared in by all present. From this it will be seen how appropriate is our use of the word to designate those official Lodge meetings in which all members have a part or a voice.

A Masonic Lodge meeting is called a "communication" because it dates back to the earliest meaning of the word -- the having of things in common, the fellowship of men engaged in a common purpose, governed by a common principle, and participation in common interests and activities.


A mathematical instrument for dividing and drawing circles; an instrument indicating the magnetic meridian.


This is the plural of compass, from the Latin corn, meaning "together," and passus, meaning a pass, step, way, or route. Contrivance, cunning, encompass, pass, pace derive from the same roots. A circle was once described as a compass because all the steps in making it were ''together," that is, of the same distance from the center; and the word, natural transition, became applied to the familiar two-legged' instrument for drawing a circle. Some Masons use the word in the singular, as in "square and compass," hut the plural form "square and compasses" would appear to he preferable, especially since it immediately distinguishes the working tool from the mariner's compass, with which it might be otherwise confused by the uninformed.

The compasses are emblems of virtue, the true and holy measure of a Mason's life and conduct.  One of the Working Tools. Freemasons have adopted the plural spelling to distinguish it from the magnetic compass.

As in Operative Freemasonry, the compasses are used for the admeasurements of the architect's plans, and to enable him to give those just proportions which will ensure beauty as well as stability to his work; so, in Speculative Freemasonry, is this important implement symbolic of that even tenor of deportment, that true standard of rectitude which alone can bestow happiness here and felicity hereafter.  Hence are the compasses the most prominent emblem of virtue, the true and only measure of a Freemason's life and conduct.  As the Bible gives us Light on our duties to God, and the square illustrates our duties to our neighborhood and Brother, so the compasses give that additional light which is to instruct us in the duty we owe to ourselves--the great, imperative duty of circumscribing our passions, and keeping our desires within due bounds.  "It is ordained," says the philosophic Burke, "in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate passions cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters."   Those Brethren who delight to trace our emblems to an astronomical origin, find in the compasses a symbol of the sun, the circular pivot representing the body of the luminary, and the diverging legs his rays.  In the earliest rituals of the eighteenth century, the compasses are described as a part of the furniture of the Lodge, and are said to belong to the Master.  Some change will be found in this respect in the ritual of the present day.  The word is sometimes spelled and pronounced compass, which is more usually applied to the magnetic needle and circular dial or card of the mariner from which he directs his course over the seas, or the similar guide of the airman when seeking his destination across unknown territory.


Corn, Wine and Oil are the materials used by Masons for consecrating purposes.  Corn is the symbol of nourishment; wine is the symbol of refreshment, and oil is the symbol of joy.  They are also emblematic of peace, health, and plenty.  The ceremony of consecrating religious edifices to the sacred purposes for which they are intended, by mystic rites, has been transmitted to us from the remotest antiquity.  "History," says Dudley, "both ancient and modern, tells us that extraordinary rites, called rites of consecration or dedication, have been performed by people of all ages and nations, on the occasion of the first application of altars and temples, or places, to religious uses."  Thus, Moses consecrated the tabernacle, Solomon the first Temple, and the returned exiles from Babylon the second.   Among the Pagans, ceremonies of the most magnificent nature were often used in setting apart their gorgeous temples to the purpose of worship.  A Masonic Lodge is, in imitation of these ancient examples, consecrated with mystic ceremonies to the sacred purposes for which it had been constructed."

Sacer was the Latin for something set aside as holy. By prefixing con, meaning "together," consecrare resulted, the general significance of which was that by adding to some holy object a formal ceremony the object was declared to be holy to the public, and must therefore be treated as such. The ceremony of consecrating a Lodge room is a way of giving notice to the public that it has been dedicated, or set aside, for Masonic purposes only.


Strife or struggle.

Contention Among Brethren

Whenever and wherever men are grouped together for any purpose or a brotherhood is formed, differences of opinion will arise, conflicting interests will present themselves and the spirit of true brotherhood can be threatened. Among Freemasons, every effort must be put forth to prevent such circumstances from producing contention. Masons can agree to disagree.

Masonry recognizes the right of differences of opinion and freedoms of individual thinking and action on matters where no fundamental principles of the Order are involved; but friction, partyism, schisms, and dissentions in the brotherhood are forbidden.  One of the main sources of strength in Freemasonry is unity, solidarity, and conformity in ritual and fraternalism. 


Statuere meant that a thing was set, or placed, or established; when con was added (see immediately above) constituere meant than an official ceremony had set, or fixed, or placed a thing. From the same source come statue, statute, institute, restitute, etc. A Lodge is "constituted" when it is formally and officially set up, and given its own permanent place in the Fraternity.

Corn, Vine and Oil

Three elements of consecration. In ancient times these were regarded as the basic commodities for the support of life and constituted the wealth of the people. Today in the U.S. we think of corn as maize, but the original meaning is an edible grain or cereal. The Hebrew word for corn means "to be increased or to multiply."

The corn, wine and oil in Operative Masonry were the wages a FellowCraft was paid for the performance of his duties.  In Masonic rites they are elements of consecration of the Lodge, and in other forms of consecration rites.  Corn, the emblem of food, reminds the Mason that he is to be nourished by the hidden Manna of Righteousness; wine, the emblem of refreshment, reminds him that he is to be refreshed with the word of the Lord; oil, the emblem of Divine anointing, reminds him that he is to rejoice with joy unspeakable in the riches of Divine grace.  The carrying of Corn, Wine and Oil in a procession reminds a Mason that in the pilgrimage of life he is to give bread to the hungry, cheer to the sorrowful, and consolation to the sick and afflicted. In Speculative Freemasonry, the ritual explains Corn, Wine and Oil to wit:  "It is emblematical of nourishment, refreshment, and joy and teaches Masons this important lesson... That we should be ever-ready to nourish the needy, refresh the destitute, and pour the oil of joy in the hearts of the afflicted."  


This is usually the stone that lies at the corner of two wall of building in which certain historic documents are placed and on which historic inscriptions are engraved. In Masonic buildings, it is always placed at the northeast corner, and this position is preferred in buildings for which Masons perform the cornerstone-laying ceremony. Beautiful and meaningful symbolisms are associated with the laying of cornerstones as a dedication to the one living Great Architect of the Universe.

The symbolism of the corner stone when duly laid with Masonic rites is full of significance, which refers to its form, to its situation, to its permanence, and to its consecration.  As to form, it must be perfectly square on its surfaces, and its solid contents a cube.  The square is a symbol of Morality, and the cube of Truth.  The situation at the corner of the north and east, the north representing darkness and the east representing light, presents the symbol of Masonic progress from darkness to light, and from ignorance to knowledge.  The Cornerstone is supposed to be of a more permanent and durable quality than any other part of the building, lasting beyond the decay and ruin of the building, and therefore reminding the Mason that when his earthly Tabernacle of his shall have pass away, he has within him a sure foundation of eternal life, a cornerstone of immortality emanating from the Divine Spirit, and which will survive the tomb, returning to his Creator and God, above the decaying dust of immortality and the grave.  The proper setting of the stone by the implements of Operative Masonry -- the square, the level, and the plumb -- reminds the Mason that his virtues must be tested by temptation and trial, by suffering and adversity, and he must be declared to be "well formed, true, trusty" by the Master Builder before he can become "a living stone for that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."  In Masonic symbolism, it signifies a true Mason, and therefore it is the first character which the Apprentice is made to represent after his initiation has been completed.


The ornamented slab placed above the capital of a pillar, and extending beyond it.


The horn of plenty; a symbol of abundance.

The old Pagan myth tells us that Zues was nourished during his infancy in Crete by the daughters of Melissus, with the milk of the goat Amalthea.  Zues, when he came to the empire of the world, in gratitude placed Amalthea in the Heavens as a constellation, and gave one of her horns to his nurses, with the assurance that it should furnish them with a never-failing supply of whatever they might desire.  Hence it is a symbol of abundance, and as such has been adopted as the jewel of the Stewards of the Lodge, to remind them that it is their duty to see that the tables are properly furnished at refreshment, and that every Brother is suitably served.  Among the deities whose images are to be found in the ancient Temples at Elora, in Hindustan, is the goddess Ana Purna, whose name is compounded of Ana, signifying corn, and Purna meaning plenty.  She holds a corn measure in her hand, and the whole therefore very clearly has the same allusion as the Masonic Horn of Plenty.  In the Masonic system it is the symbol of joy, peace and plenty.  It is the official jewel of the Stewards of the Lodge.


Approval; support; encourage; favor

Covenant of Masons or Masonry

A covenant or obligation is a contract or agreement between two or more parties on certain terms. In becoming a Mason, a man enters into a covenant with the Fraternity, agreeing to fulfill certain promises and perform certain duties. On the other hand, the Fraternity and its members bind themselves to certain ties of friendship, brotherliness, protection support and benefits. The breaking of a covenant is subject to stated penalties.


The origin is unknown, but it may be early Scotch. It was used of a man who practiced Masonry, usually of the roughest character as in the building of walls, who had not been regularly trained and initiated, corresponding in some sense to "scab" as used by labor unions. If a man has learned the work by some illegal method he is a cowan. An "eavesdropper" is one who spies on a Lodge, and may be such without having learned anything about it before. A "clandestine" is one who has gone through initiation ceremonies but not in a regular Lodge.

This is strictly a Masonic term; it means an intruder, profane, pretender, or one who accidentally enters where he is not wanted. This is not to be confused with the word eavesdropper or one who deliberately tries to overhear and see what is not meant for his eyes and ears. He is a person who may seek the secrets and benefits of Freemasonry unlawfully.

A person who lays brick or stone without mortar impersonating a skilled mason.


In Anglo-Saxon, craft meant cunning, skill, power, dexterity, etc. The word became applied to trades and occupations calling for trained skill on the part of those practicing it. The distinction between such trades and those not requiring trained workmen, so rigidly maintained, was one of the hallmarks of the Middle Ages. Freemasonry is called a Craft, partly for historical reasons, partly because, unlike so many fraternities, it requires a training (given in the form of initiation ceremonies) of those seeking its membership.


The term "craft" applies to persons collectively engaged in a trade or mechanical operation. It is used of operative Masons and the vast number of men employed in the building of the Temple are referred to as Craftsmen. In speculative Masonry, the entire Fraternity is spoken of as the Craft, whereas individual members are Craftsmen.


Freemasonry recognizes Jehovah as God and as the Great Architect of the Universe, the creator of all things, both material and spiritual. And it accepts the account of Creation given in the Book of Genesis and confirmed by other Scriptures. To a Mason, earth and the heavens declare the Glory of God.


In ancient times, the length equaled the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.  It was customary for the Master of the work to use the length of his own arm as a standard.  Roman cubits were about 17 2/5 inches; that of the Hebrews 22 inches, but its length is now generally stated as 18 American inches.

The sacred cubit is 36 inches; the profane cubit is 18 inches.

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The platform, or raised floor, in the East of the lodge where the Master sits. In the lodge, the steps to this should be three. The Senior Warden's place should be raised two steps and that of the junior Warden, one step.


Symbolizes that state of ignorance before light (knowledge) is received.

Darkness to Light

Physical darkness is symbolic of ignorance and of spiritual blindness. Applicants for the enlightenment of Freemasonry are, of course, in total ignorance of the rituals and symbolisms of the Order. They are, hence, required to enter the Lodge in complete darkness. They are in search of Light, and this is given to them as they advance through the several Degrees of Masonry.


David was the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem who was chosen and anointed to become the successor of Saul as King of Israel while only a lad and shepherd of his father's flocks. He served King Saul as a musician, later as a military leader of some genius, bravery, and great heroism. However, he was bitterly persecuted by the King because of his jealousies. At the age of thirty, David was anointed King at Hebron and later established his throne at Jerusalem. He reigned forty years and was permitted by God to make extensive preparations for the building of the Temple which was later erected by his son and successor, Solomon. He was forbidden by to build the Temple because he was a warrior while his son, Solomon, would be a man of peace.


From the beginning, the period of twenty-four hours embracing one season of light and one of darkness has been regarded as a day. Among the ancients, the day began at sunset and ended at sunset the next day instead of running from midnight to midnight.


District Deputy Grand Master, an assistant who acts for the Grand Master in a particular district.


Despite the fact that the bloom has been rubbed off by our slangy use of it, this is one of the most beautiful words in our language. In Greek, diakonos was a servant, a messenger, a waiting man. In the early Christian Church a deacon served at the Lord's Supper and administered alms to the poor; and the word still most frequently refers to such a church officer. It appears that the two Lodge offices of Senior and Junior Deacon were patterned on the church offices.

Comes from the Greek diakonos meaning "messenger or waiting-man."


In every Masonic Lodge there are two officers called Senior and Junior Deacons. Their duties comprehend general surveillance over the Lodge, the introduction of visitors, and to serve as proxy for the Worshipful Master in certain circumstances.


The Masonic idea of death is accompanied with no gloom, because it is represented on as physical sleep for an unknown period of time, from which there will be an awakening of the body and a resurrection of a spiritual body capable and fitted for eternal life. From beginning to end, the rituals of Freemasonry teach and symbolize the doctrine of man's immortality and repudiate every iota of the doctrine of annihilation at death. In Masonic philosophy, death is the symbol of initiation completed, in which the resurrection of the body will be its final consummation.


To lower in character, degrade.


The Ten Commandments.

Dedicated to the memory of the Holy Saints John 

Dedication is a less sacred ceremony than consecration. Hence, lodges are consecrated to God, but dedicated to patrons of the Fraternity.


The Latin dedicatus was a participial form of dedicare, the latter having the meaning of declare, devote, proclaim - the root from which "diction" comes. To dedicate a building means by public ceremony to declare it built for some certain purpose. Dedication and consecration are closely allied in meaning, but the latter is more religious in its purposes.

Definition of Masonry

Freemasonry has been well defined as, "A peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."  By the practice of Freemasonry its members may advance by their spirituality, and mount by the theological ladder from the Lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven.  Freemasonry is not, however, a system of religion; it is the handmaiden to religion, enforcing its daily practice.


The ethics of Freemasonry demand honesty and fair-dealing with all men, and similar to the Mosaic Law, rigidly forbid the defrauding of a brother Mason by another Mason.  Personal dealings between brother Masons must always be conducted on the highest levels of common honesty and brotherly consideration.


The Latin gradus from which are derived grade, gradual, graduation, etc., meant a step, or set of steps, particularly of a stair; when united with the prefix, da, meaning "down," it became degradus, and referred to steps, degrees, progress by marked stages. From this came our "degree," which is a step, or grade, in the progress of a candidate toward the consummation of his membership. Our habit of picturing the degrees as proceeding from lower to higher, like climbing a stair, is thus very close to the ancient and original meaning of the word.


Behavior, manner

Demit or Dimit

(Also spelled "dimit.") As a verb this hails from the Latin dimettere, to send away, to release, to let go; we have it in our "dismiss." To dimit from an organization is, using the official form, to resign, to relinquish one's membership. It has this meaning in Masonry.

A release; a resignation of membership; a paper certifying a withdrawal from a lodge (or Masonic body) when in good standing. Both spellings are used, although DIMIT is peculiar to Freemasonry only. In the U.S. some jurisdictions use the former spelling, but the majority use the latter, "Dimit."


Represents; signifies


Lessening in good reputation

Desires Shall Fail

This quotation is used in its figurative significance, referring to the fact that in the infirmities of old age men are no longer concerned about the carnal and secular things of the earth.


Lacking means, as without money or food.

Destruction of the Temple

The Temple built by Solomon underwent many defamations and was several times stripped of its golden adornments and treasures, sometimes by foreign attacks and sometimes by Judean kings for payments of tribute. These were judgments sent upon the nation for apostasies. The final destruction of the Temple was the burden of many prophecies and took place as predicted by God under the onslaughts of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar (586 B.C.).

Dew of Hermon

The dews of Mount Hermon, and of Palestine in general, were sources of irrigation, fertilization and refreshment for vegetation and agricultural growth. The phrase is employed as a symbolic expression of the bedewing influences of Divine Grace.




Book of laws of a Grand Lodge in the U.S.; sometimes called The Code.


'While this is not as familiar to Masons as the preceding words, it should come into more popular use because it is the technical name to describe an important element in the ceremony of initiation. Calceare was the Latin for shoe, calceatus meant shod. When united with the prefix dis, meaning apart, or asunder, our discalceate was originated, the obvious meaning of which is the removal of one's shoes, as suggested in the familiar Bible passage, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." The ceremonial removal of the shoes is properly called the "rite of discalceation."


Pendere was the Latin word for a weight, the root from which came many English words, notably pendent, expend, spend, dispense, etc. With the prefix dis, explained in the preceding paragraph, dispendere meant to weigh out, to pay off, to expend. From this came dispensatus, meaning to manage, to regulate, to distribute. In our usage a dispensation is a written instrument by which authority is made over to a group of brethren to form a Lodge.

It is an instrument which legalizes an act or ceremony, such as opening a lodge without a warrant, forming a Masonic procession, or the like, which would be illegal without it.  The power of granting dispensations is very properly vested in the Grand Master, or his deputy, who are the best judges on what occasions it ought to be exercised.

Permission to do that which would be forbidden otherwise.


Physical or mental anguish. 

Distressed Worthy Brother

To go to the aid of a distressed worthy Brother is not only the aid of every Mason, but is solemnly enjoined by Holy Writ. Masons believe and practice the Bible's edict of "we are our Brother's keeper."  A brother in distress does not necessarily mean that he is without funds.


to strip; dispossess; deprive

Divine Providence

God's Blessing

Doors of Masonic Knowledge

What is one of the lamentable weaknesses of Masonry?  That the newly initiated candidate is left to shift for himself, and not instructed that there is more to Masonry than just a few grips, signs, and passwords.  He has received the key, the degrees, and it is necessary if he desires to leave the rut of ritualistic routine and inform himself on the nature and character of the institution.  He may enter the recesses of its caverns with Masonic pick and shovel, in search of the jewels hidden there, and invest himself with the rich fruits of Masonic knowledge all the days of his life.

Doors Shall Be Shut

The expression, "The doors shall be shut in the street when the sound of the grinding is low" refers to the decrepitude of old age.


The Doric is the second of the five orders of architecture, and is that between the Tuscan and the Ionic.  It is the most natural and best proportioned of all the orders; all its parts being founded on the natural position of solid bodies.


This is not a very beautiful word but it is interesting. It first came into existence among the early English, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian peoples, generally in the form dotten, dutten, meaning to nod with drowsiness, to nap. Since it was old people who most frequently sat nodding in their chairs it became associated with old age. "An old man in his dotage" is one who nods or prattles like a sleepy child, and whose faculties have begun to decay through old age. Old age is never a bar to Masonic membership unless it has reached this stage.

An old man in his dotage is one whose fruit has ripened and rotted, who has suffered the loss of judgment and memory, and is in that state of intellectual decrepitude which makes him incapable of comprehending the lessons of Freemasonry; in other words, an advanced age when the mind is no longer able to comprehend clearly.

Double Cube

A cubical figure, whose length is equal to twice its breadth and height.  Solomon's Temple is said to have been of this figure, and hence it sometimes has been adopted as the symbol of a Masonic Lodge.


The "Dove" in early Masonry is a symbol of Noah's messenger.  In ancient symbolism, the Dove represented purity and innocence and was often seen bearing an olive branch.

Due East and West

Moses built the Tabernacle due east and west, and this practice was carried on by the church builders. The Freemason travels from the West to the East (light) in search of a Master from whom he may gain instruction, or light,

Due Form

A Masonic body is opened or closed in "due form" when performed fully according to a prescribed ritual. Distinguished from "ample form."

Due Guard

A mode of recognition .

A mode of recognition, peculiar to Freemasons, which derives its name from its object, which is to duly guard the person using it as regards his obligations, and the penalty for their violation.  It is derived from an ancient, and still current expression used in Scottish Masonry, when the Worshipful Master, on opening the Lodge, says "and this shall be your Dieu Guarde and sign", the former being the first part of the sign, with the two hands held horizontally, the left palm up and the right, above, palm down; the latter part is the penal sign.  In some of the old rituals of the date of 1757, the expression is used, but only as referring to what is now called the sign.


In Latin debere meant to owe something; it is preserved in our familiar, too familiar, "debt," in debit, indebted, debenture, duty, dues, etc. Related is the French devoir, often employed in English, meaning a piece of work one is under obligation to do. The same idea appears in "duty," which means that which is due, or that which is owed, in the moral sense. Dues represent one's fixed and regular indebtedness to his Lodge which he placed himself under obligation to pay when he signed the by-laws.

Duly and Truly Prepared

That the candidate is truly prepared in his heart and mind to receive further enlightenment; also, properly clothed, Masonically.

Dust to Dust (or Dust To Earth)

Man's body was made from the earth and must return to dust in one form or another. The use of this phrase points to the mortality and frailty of the physical being and to the need of recognizing the immortality of the spirit of man.


The duty of a Mason as an honest man is plain and easy.  It requires of him honesty in contracts, sincerity in affirming, simplicity in bargaining and faithfulness in performing.  To sleep little, and to study much; to say little and to think and hear much; to learn, that he may be able to do; and then to do earnestly and vigorously whatever the good of his fellows, his country and mankind requires, are the duties of every Mason.

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Ear, The Attentive or Listening

The Hebrew word means not only to hear, but to understand and to obey.

Such is the meaning of the phrase, "Let him that hath ears to hear, hear."  One of the three precious jewels of a Fellow Craft Mason is the "Listening Ear."  Thus he is admonished not only to receive lessons of instructions from his teacher, but that he should treasure them in his breast, so as to ponder over their meaning and carry out their design. 


From the Sun worshipers down through the ages, the East has always been considered the most honored place because the sun rises in the East and is the region from which light rises.

Lodge halls or rooms are oblong from East to West; candidates travel from the West to the East in search of Light.


Early European peoples used a word in various forms - evese, obasa, opa, etc., -which meant the rim, or edge, of something, like the edge of a field; it came in time to be applied wholly to the gutter which runs along the edge of a roof. (Our "over" comes from this root.) "Dropper" had an origin among the same languages, and meant that which drips, or dribbles, like water dropping from a thawing icicle. Eavesdrop, therefore, was the water which dripped from the eaves. If a man set himself to listen through a window or keyhole to what was going on in a house he had to stand so close that the eavesdropping would fall upon him, for which reason all prying persons, seeking by secret means what they have no business to know, came to be called eavesdroppers.

One who attempts to listen surreptitiously; literally, one standing under the eaves and thus gets only the "droppings."

This name was given to a cowan, or a person who sought to listen in on secrets to which he was not entitled, because of an early form of punishment.  A detected cowan was forced to stand beneath the eaves of a house during a downpour of rain until he was soaked almost to the drowning point.


The imaginary line followed on the earth's surface by the direct ray of the sun during the year. It niakes an angle of 23' 27' with the equator. Jerusalem is located in approximately 31' 30' north attitude, that is, approximately 7' 3' north of the ecliptic.

Apparent path of the sun


The root of this word is the Latin dicere, speak; united with the prefix e, meaning out, to come forth, it produced edicere, meaniiig to proclaim, to speak out with authority. It came in time to be applied to the legal pronouncements of a sovereign or ruler speaking in his own name and out of his own authority. When a Grand Master issues a certain official proclamation in his own name and out of the authority vested in his office it is an edict.


This beautiful and significant word, so familiar to Masons, has historical affiliations with the original idea embodied in "mosaic work," on whch something is said below. Emblem is derived from the Greek prefix en, meaning in, united with ballein, meaning cast, put. The word became applied to raised decorations on pottery, to inlay work, tessellated and mosaic work; and since such designs were nearly always formal and symbolical in character, emblem came to mean an idea expressed by a picture or design. As Bacon put it, an emblem represents an intellectual conception in a sensible image. It belongs to that family of words of which type, symbol, figure, allegory, and metaphor are familiar members.

A representation of an idea by a visible object; a symbolical figure or design.

Emblem of Innocence

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, the lamb is used as an emblem of innocence, and the white leather lambskin apron is regarded as an emblem of purity after which Masons ever strive for in life.


Symbolical, representing; serving as an emblem.


Having a border.


The desire to equal or surpass; ambitious rivalry.


Standing above others; distinguished

Entered Apprentice 

In Operative Masonry the apprenticeship lasted seven years; if then found acceptable, the apprentice’s name was entered on the books of the lodge and he was given a recognized place in the craft organization.


Equality is the very essence of Freemasonry; no matter what their rank in life may be, when in the Lodge all are brothers, sons in common of a Heavenly Father.  The level is the symbol of equality among Masons; "we meet on the level."


The use of equivocal language, e.g., words capable of two interpretations, cryptic, evasive, ambiguous; a deception arising from the use of a word


This is the opposite of exoteric. The root of it is the Greek eso, within. It means that which is secret, in the inner circle. Exoteric is that which is outside. In Masonry the "esoteric work" is that part of the Ritual which it is illegal to publish, while the exoteric is that part which is published in the Monitor.

The secret portion of Masonry which is hidden in emblems, symbols, allegories, legends, and other forms of mystery, and are wholly apart from monitoral teachings.

Eternal Life

The immortality of the soul is a fundamental dogma of Freemasonry. Hence, the faith and belief in eternal life beyond the grave. The doctrine of a future resurrection of the body is also a tenet of Freemasonry.


The first mathematician to Systematize the science of geometry.


In Masonry, the evergreen is used as a symbol of the immortality of the soul.

The ancients, therefore, as well as the moderns, planted evergreens at the heads of graves.  Freemasons wear evergreens at the funerals of their brethren, and cast them into the grave.  The acacia is the plant which should be used on these occasions, but where it cannot be obtained, some other evergreen plant, especially the cedar, is used, as a substitute.


The examination of a brother to determine his geniuses should not aim at displaying the committee's knowledge. It is a test of the visitor. He need not be able to answer questions from the Posting Lecture. He should know the signs, grips, and words.

Examination of Candidates

In Esoteric Freemasonry, the rituals and ceremonies of the different degrees of Symbolic Masonry, are conferred in emblems, symbols, allegories, legends, and must be committed to memory by the candidate following each degree and before advancing to the succeeding degree.  Instructions are given the candidate in private by some brother.  From time immemorial it has been required that before accepting a candidate for the advancing degrees he must pass a credible examination on the work of the previous degree in open Lodge.  The necessity for an adequate comprehension of the mysteries of each degree before passing to the succeeding degree, of proficiency in the work through which the candidate has already passed, is absolutely essential.


Forcible ejection from membership for such reasons as un-Masonic conduct, crimes, etc. It is the most severe of Masonic penalties and deprives the person of all rights and privileges formerly enjoyed from his lodge and the Fraternity as a whole.

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Faith - trust, reliance

The evidence of things not seen; confidence; trust.

In the theological ladder, the explanation of which forms a part of the ritual of the First Degree in Masonry, faith, is said to typify the lowest round.  Faith, here, is synonymous with confidence or trust, and hence we find merely a repetition of the lesson which had been previously taught that the first, the essential qualification of a candidate for initiation, is that he should trust in God.  In the lecture of the same degree, it is said that "Faith may be lost in sight; Hope ends in fruition; but Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity."  And this is said, because as faith is "the evidence of things not seen," when we see we no longer believe by faith but through demonstration; and as hope lives only in the expectation of possession, it ceases to exist when the object once hoped for is at length enjoyed, but charity, exercised on earth in acts of mutual kindness and forbearance, is still found in the world to come. 

Faithfulness - steadfast; sincere

It is required of all Masons that they be steadfast in keeping the vows of the Order, that they be sincere in the practice of all the virtues taught by the ritual, symbols, and lectures of the various Degrees, and that they maintain unflinching loyalty to the Fraternity. 

Faithful Servant

The faithful servant is one who is diligent in his stewardship, dutiful to his master and loyal in the face of temptation and trial.

Fatherhood of Good

Masonry believes that man is the offspring of God by creation, that God made mankind all of one blood and that God is, by virtue of His creation of man and of His goodness to man, man's Father.

Faithful Breast

Symbolically, the initiate is instructed that the lessons he has received are to be treasured in his heart and remembered, and not to be forgotten; that which is told in confidence will be so held.



Fears Shall Be In The Way

This phrase describes the failing of courage of old age, the nervous and excited state of mind natural to declining man.


The convocation of the Craft together at an annual feast, for the laudable purpose of promoting social feelings, and cementing the bonds of brotherly love by the interchange of courtesies, is a time-honored custom, which is unfortunately growing into disuse.  The Assembly and Feast are words constantly co-joined in the Book of Constitutions.  At this meeting, no business of any kind, except the installation of officers, was transacted, and the day was passed in innocent festivity.  The election of officers always took place at a previous meeting, in obedience to a regulation adopted by the Grand Lodge of England, in 1720, as follows: "It was agreed, in order to avoid disputes on the annual feast-day, that the new Grand Master for the future shall be named and proposed to the Grand Lodge some time before the feast" 


Feeling is that sense by which we are enabled to distinguish the different qualities of bodies, such as hardness and softness, heat and cold, roughness and smoothness, figure, solidity, motion, and extension, all of which, by means of corresponding sensations of touch, are presented to the mind as real external qualities, and the conception or belief of them invariably connected with these corresponding sensations by an original principle of nature, which far transcends our inquiry.


In Anglo Saxon lagu (from which we have "law") meant that which was permanently ordered, fixed, set; fe meant property; fela suggested properties set together, in other words, a partnership. From this we have "fellow," a companion, mate, partner, an equal, a peer. A man became a "fellow" in a Medieval guild or corporation when admitted a member on the same terms as all others, sharing equally in the duties, rights, and privileges. In Operative Masonry, in order to be a fellow a man had to be a Master Mason, in the sense of having passed through his apprenticeship, so that Masters were fellows and fellows were Masters. Prior to about 1740 "Fellow of the Craft" and "Master Mason" referred to the same grade or degree, but at about that year a new division in ranking was made, and "Fellow Craft" was the name given to the Second Degree in the new system, Master Mason to the Third.


A craftsman no longer an apprentice who has been admitted as full member, but who has not yet reached the status of a master. The fellowcraft age represents the stage of manhood.

The Second Degree of Freemasonry in all the Rites is that of the Fellow Craft.  In the French it is called Compagno; in Spanish, Compañero; in Italian, Compagno; and in German, Gesell; in all of which the radical meaning of the word is a fellow workman, thus showing the origin of the title from an operative institution.  Like the Degree of Apprentice, it is only preparatory in the higher initiation of the Master; and yet it differs essentially from it in its symbolism.  For, as the First Degree was typical of youth, the Second is supposed to represent the stage of manhood, and hence the acquisition of science is made its prominent characteristic.  While the former is directed in all its symbols and allegorical ceremonies to the purification of the heart, the latter is intended by its lessons to train the reasoning faculties and improve the intellectual powers.  Before the eighteenth century, the great Body of the Fraternity consisted of Fellow Crafts, who are designated in all the old manuscripts as Fellows


Fervency as a Masonic virtue is emphasized in the lecture of the First Degree; it is symbolized by charcoal because all metals may be dissolved by the ignited charcoal.  Subsequently fervor and zeal are symbolized by the color scarlet,

Festivals of St. John

The 24th of June is consecrated to St. John the Baptist, and the 27th of December to St. John the Evangelist.  It is the duty of Masons to assemble on these days, and by solemn invocation of the past, renew the ties and strengthen the fraternal bonds that bind the present to the brotherhood of the olden time. 

Fiat Lux Et Lux Fit

Latin motto meaning "Let there be light, and there was light."




In the instruction of the First Degree, it is said that "our ancient Brethren worshipped deity under the name of Fides or Fidelity, which was sometimes represented by two right hands joined, and sometimes by two human figures holding each other by the right hands."   The deity here referred to was the goddess Fides, to whom Numa first erected temples, and whose priests were covered by a white veil as a symbol of purity which should characterize Fidelity.  No victims were slain on her altars, and no offerings made to her except flowers, wine, and incense.  Her statues were represented clothed in white mantles, with a key in her hand and a dog at her feet.  The virtue of Fidelity is, frequently symbolized by two right hands clasped. 

First Landmarks of Freemasonry

Modes of recognition with no variation.

First Master Craftsman

It is recorded in Genesis that Tubalcain was the first Master Craftsman. 


Among the Pythagoreans five was a mystical number, because it was formed by the union of the first even number and the first odd, rejecting unity; hence it symbolized the mixed conditions of order and disorder, happiness and misfortune, life and death.  The same union of the odd and even or male and female, numbers made it the symbol of marriage.  Among the Greeks it was a symbol of the world, because says Diodorus, it represents ether and the four elements.  It was a sacred and round number among the Hebrews.  In Egypt, India, and other oriental nations says Gesenius, the five minor planets and the five elementary powers were accounted sacred.  It was the pentas of the Gnostics and the Hermetic Philosophers; it was a symbol of their quintessence, the fifth or highest essence of power in a natural body.  In Freemasonry, five is a sacred number, inferior only in importance to three and seven.  It is especially significant in the Fellowcraft Degree, where five are required to hold a Lodge, and where, in the winding stairs, the five steps are referred to the orders of architecture and the human senses.  In the Third Degree we find the reference to the five points of fellowship and their symbol, the five-pointed star.  Geometry, too, which is deemed synonymous with Freemasonry, is called the fifth science; and, in fact, throughout nearly all the Degrees of Freemasonry, we find abundant allusions to five as a sacred and mystical number.

Five-Pointed Star

The five-pointed star, which is not to be confounded with the blazing star, is not found among the old symbols of Masonry; indeed, some writers have denied that it is a Masonic emblem at all.  It is undoubtedly of recent origin, and was probably introduced by Jeremy Cross, who placed it among the plates in the emblems of the Third Degree prefixed to his Hieroglyphic Chart.  It is not mentioned in the ritual or the lecture of the Third Degree, but the Masons of this country have, by tacit consent, referred to it as a symbol of the Five Points of Fellowship.  The outlines of the five-pointed star are the same as those of the pentalpha of Pythagoras, which was the symbol of health.  M. Jormard, in his Description de l'Egypte (tom. viii., p. 423), says that the star engraved on Eqyptian monuments, where it is a very common hieroglyphic, has constantly five points, never more or less.

Five Senses

The five senses of Hearing, Seeing, Feeling, Tasting, and Smelling, are introduced into the lecture of the Fellowcraft as a part of the instructions of that Degree.  As these senses are the avenues by which the mind receives its perceptions of things exterior to it, and thus becomes the storehouse of ideas, they are most appropriately referred to that Degree of Freemasonry whose professed object is the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge.

Flaming Sword

A sword whose blade is of a spiral or twisted form is called by the heralds a flaming sword, from its resemblance to the ascending curvature of a flame of fire.  Until very recently, this was the form of the Tiler's sword.  Carelessness or ignorance has now in many Lodges substituted for it a common sword of any form.  The flaming sword of the Tiler refers to the flaming sword which guarded the entrance to Paradise, as described in Genesis 3:24:  "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."  It is more commonly seen now as a symbol in the emblem of the Scottish Rite where the flaming sword is held in the talons of the double-headed eagle.

Flight to Joppa

The story of Jonah's flight to Joppa in his effort to escape a Divinely-entrusted responsibility and service for God is strikingly used in Masonic ritual.


The floor of a properly constructed Lodge-room should be covered with alternate squares of black and white, to represent the Mosaic pavement which was the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple.


A framework of board or canvas, on which the emblems of any particular Degree are inscribed, for the assistance of the Master in giving a lecture.  It is so called because formerly it was the custom to inscribe these designs on the floor of the Lodge-room in chalk, which were wiped out when the Lodge was clothed.  It is the same as the Carpet, or Tracing-Board


The CornerstoneTo level the Footstone means to lay the Cornerstone.  Thus, Dr. George Oliver says "Solomon was enabled to level the footstone of the Temple in the fourth year of his reign."

Fords of the Jordan

At one of the fords of the Jordan at a point where the river is about 80 feet wide and where approaches to the water's edge are hedged in with almost impassable dense growths on the banks there was a great slaughter of Ephraimites who sought to flee just apprehension for their revolt against the national hero Gideon.  They were detected by their inability to pronounce the word Shibboleth.  This incident is significantly referred to in the FellowCraft Degree.  For a Biblical record of the incident see... 

Foreign Country

This expression, which is employed of the travels of Master Masons of the operative class following the completion of the Temple in search of labor and for wages, is correctly understood by few who hear it. In its symbolic meaning, it does not refer to the activities of those who have completed the Master Degree. Hence, Heaven is the "foreign country" into which Master Masons travel, where the True Word, not given in this life, is to be received, and where the Master Mason is to receive his wages.


We speak of the "form of the Lodge," "due form," etc. The word is derived from the Latin forma, which meant the shape, or figure, or frame of anything; also it was used of a bench, or seat, whence the old custom of calling school benches "forms." It is the root of formal, formation, informal, and scores of other English words equally familiar. The "form of the Lodge" is its symbolical shape; a ceremony is in "due form" if it have the officially required character or framework of words and actions.

Form of a Lodge

An oblong square or parallelogram, twice as long as wide. At the time of the Temple, the only known world was the Mediterranean Sea and the countries to the north, south and east, forming an oblong. Thus, the Freemason's lodge was the world itself.


The key to the meaning of this magnificent word lies in its derivation from the Latin fords, meaning strong, powerful, used in the Middle Ages of a stronghold, or fort. Force, enforce, fortify, fortification, forceful, are from the same root. A man of fortitude has a character built strong like a fort, which can be neither taken by bribe nor overthrown by assault, however strong may be the enemy, or however great may be the suffering or deprivation within. One is reminded of Luther's great hymn, "A mighty fortress is our God."

The importance and essential value of this virtue of true manhood for Masons is enforced by the use of the story of unfaltering courage and faith of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace and by Daniel's bravery in the lion's den.


The deeply laid and solid foundation of the Temple strikingly symbolizes the necessity for a good foundation in the building of character and in life's vocations.

47th Proposition of Euclid

Derived its name from the fact that it was the 47th problem in Euclid's geometry. Sometimes called problem or theorem, which are also correct. The 47th Proposition, or problem, is to prove that in a right angled triangle, the sum of the squares of the two sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. Masonically, it is an emblem of the arts and sciences and reminds us that next to sinfulness, the most dangerous enemy of life is ignorance.


The operative masons engaged in the building of King Solomon's Temple laid deep and solid the foundations of that notable structure; so strong were these foundations that in utter destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the foundation stones remained intact.  Hence, Speculative Masonry stresses the necessity for a firm and solid foundation in the building of character. 


Doctor Mackey records the usual mode of subscription to letters in his day written by one Freemason to another as, "I remain, fraternally, yours," custom and preference that continues to be frequently adopted.


This the most prized, perhaps, of all words in Masonry, harks back to the Latin frater, which is so closely allied to "brother," as already noted in the paragraph on that word. It gives us fra, frater, fraternize, and many other terms of the same import. A fraternity is a society in which the members strive to live in a brotherly concord patterned on the family relations of blood brothers, where they are worthy of the tie. To be fraternal means to treat another man as if he were a brother in the most literal sense.

A brotherhood, in which blood-bonds are replaced by a common devotion to a principle, code, or creed.


The origin of the use of the term "free" in speculative Masonry is in the fact that the operative Masons who worked on King Solomon's Temple were exempted from imposts, duties and taxes as were their descendants. They were, therefore, declared to be "free."

Free Born 

A free soul; one having attained mastery of himself by self discipline. It is a misconception that this refers to one not born into slavery.

Freedom, Fervency, and Zeal

The earliest lectures in the eighteenth century designated freedom, fervency, and zeal as the qualities which should distinguish the servitude of Apprentices, and the same symbolism is found in the ritual of the present day.  The word freedom is not here to be taken in the modern sense of liberty, but rather in its primitive Anglo-Saxon meaning of frankness, generosity, a generous willingness to work or perform one's duty.


The early builders in Operative Masonry times were free men, not serfs or bondsmen and were free to move from one place to another as their work demanded. Thus, they came to be called "Freemasons."

One who has been initiated into the mysteries of the Fraternity of Freemasonry.


Masonry, according to the general acceptation of the term, is an art founded on the principles of geometry, and directed to the service and convenience of mankind.  But Freemasonry, embracing a wider range and having a nobler object in view, namely, the cultivation and improvement of the human mind, may with propriety be called a science, inasmuch as availing itself of the terms of the former, it inculcates the principles of the purest morality, though its lessons are for the most part veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.  The definitions of Freemasonry have been numerous, and they all unite in declaring it to be a system of morality, by the practice of which its members may advance their spiritual interest, and mount by the theological ladder, from the lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven.  Subjoined are a few of the most important definitions:

"Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." -- Hemming

"The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race."  -- George Washington

"Masonry is an art, useful and extensive, which comprehends within its circle every branch of useful knowledge and learning, and stamps an indelible mark of preeminence on its genuine professors, which neither chance, power, nor fortune can bestow." -- Preston

"There are Great Truths at the foundation of Freemasonry -- truths which it is its mission to teach, and which constitute the very essence of that sublime system which gives to the venerable institution its peculiar identity as a science of morality, and it behooves every disciple diligently to ponder and inwardly digest." -- Albert Pike

Free-Will and Accord

There is one peculiar feature in the Masonic Institution that must command it to the respect of every generous mind.  In other associations it is considered meritorious in a member to exert his influence in obtaining applications for admission; but it is wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our Order to persuade any one to become a Mason.  Whosoever seeks a knowledge of our mystic rites must first be prepared for the ordeal in his heart; he must not only be endowed with the necessary moral qualifications which would fit him for admission into out ranks, but he must come, too, uninfluenced by friends and unbiased by unworthy motives.  This is a settled landmark of the Order; and, therefore, nothing can be more painful to a true Mason than to see this landmark violated by young and heedless brethren.

Furnishings of a Lodge

Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, Charter or Dispensation.

Furniture of the Lodge

Every well-regulated Lodge is furnished with the Holy Bible, the Square, and the Compasses.  These constitute the furniture of the Lodge, being the three Great Lights of Masonry.  The first is designed to be the guide of our faith; the second to regulate our actions; and the third to keep us within proper bounds with all mankind.

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G, Letter

"G": The letter -G- is the Saxon representative of the Hebrew Yod and the Greek Tau; The initial letter of the name of the Eternal in those languages. It has a double meaning, representing, first, the Supreme Deity as the Great Architect of the Universe and the one true and living God of all Masons; and, secondly, the preeminence of the science of geometry in the rituals of Freemasonry. In this twofold symbolism, the letter "G" represents to the Mason unity of Heaven with the earth, of the Divine Being with the human, of the temporal with the eternal, and of the finite with the infinite.  The letter "G" is one of the most sacred symbols in Freemasonry. The Lodge cannot open, and no work can be performed unless this sacred letter is conspicuously seen in its regularly assigned place of honor in the Lodge hall.


Grand Architect of the Universe.


Gage (also spelled “gauge”) has an uncertain ancestry. Early French and English peoples had gauger, gagen, etc., which referred to the measuring of wine casks; some believe our “gallon” and “gill” to have been thus derived. Its meaning became enlarged to include any kind of measuring, literally or figuratively. The instrument used to do the measuring came to be called “the gage.” Among Operative Masons it was used to measure a stone for cutting to the required “twenty-four-inch gage” is such a measuring rod or stick marked off into twenty-four inches.

Gates of the Temple

The Temple of Solomon had only one entrance or portal, but the walls of the enclosure had a gate at each points of the compass. Freemasonry makes special symbolic use of three of these gates, the one on the east, the one on the west, and the one on the south. These gates are symbols of the progress of the sum, rising in the east, reaching its zenith in the south, and setting in the west. They also symbolize birth, life, and death as well as youth, manhood and old age.


Derives its name from its shape-that of the gable or gavel end of a house. It is a tool used by a stonemason and resembles a hammer having a pointed end for cutting. The Working Tool gavel differs from the upright gavel, or "Hiram." (See Hiram.)

The Common Gavel is one of the working tools of the Entered Apprentice Mason.  It is made use of by the Operative Mason to break off the corners of the rough ashlar, and thus fit it the better for the builder's use, and is therefore adopted as a symbol in Speculative Masonry, to admonish us of the duty of divesting our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our minds as living stones for that spiritual building, that house made not with hands, eternal in the heavens.  It borrows its name from its shape, being that of the gable or gavel end of a house; and this word again comes from the German gipfel, a summit, top, or peak -- the idea of a pointed extremity being common to all...   The true form of the gavel is that of the stonemason's hammer.   It is to be made with a cutting edge, that it may be used to break off the corners of rough stones, an operation which could never be effected by the common hammer or mallet.  The gavel thus shaped will give, when looked at in front, the exact representation of the gavel or gable end of a house, whence, as has been already said, the name is derived.   The gavel of the Master is also called a Hiram, because, like the architect, it governs the Craft and keeps order in the Lodge, as he did in the Temple.


Among mathematical sciences, Geometry is the one which has the most especial reference to architecture, and we can, therefore, under the name of Geometry, understand the whole art of Freemasonry.  In Anderson's book of constitutions, Freemasonry is frequently called Geometry, and of the latter he said of the whole being of the Order is comprehended in it.  Freemasons therefore ought to make themselves intimately acquainted with Geometry.  It is not absolutely necessary to be able to deduce all our actions, works, or resolutions from Geometrical principals. 

It is unfortunate that for most men schoolroom drudgery has robbed this beautiful word of its poetry. The Greek geo (in compounds) was earth, land; metron was measure. The original geometer was a landmeasurer, a surveyor, but his methods became broadened and applied to many other kinds of problems, so that at last his craft became a portion of the art of mathematics. Geometry, that branch of mathematics which deals with figures in space, is associated in every Mason’s mind with the immortal Euclid, who figures 50 prominently in all the ancient Masonic manuscripts. It achieved its great place in Freemasonry because of its constant and prime importance in the builders’ art. Symbolically speaking geometry (to it the Letter G originally referred), consists of all those fixed principles and laws of morality and of thought to which a right character and a true mind adjust themselves.

Geometry, Advantages of

By this science the architect is enabled to construct his plans, and execute his designs; the general, to arrange his soldiers; the engineer, to mark out grounds for encampments; the geographer, to give us the dimensions of the world, and all things therein contained; to delineate the extent of seas, and specify the divisions of empires, kingdoms and provinces.  By it, also, the astronomer is enabled to make his observations, and to fix the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles.  In fine, Geometry is the foundation of architecture, and the root of the mathematics.


The globes atop the Pillars of the Porch are symbols of Unity, Peace and Plenty.  The globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surface of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other important particulars.  Their principal use, besides serving as maps to distinguish the outward parts of the earth, and the situation of the fixed stars, is to illustrate and explain the phenomena arising from the annual revolution, and the diurnal rotation of the earth round its own axis.  They are invaluable instruments for improving the mind, and giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it to solve the same.  Contemplating these bodies, we are inspired with a due reverence for the Deity and his works, and are induced to encourage the studies of astronomy, geography, navigation, and the arts dependant on them, by which society has so much benefited.

Goat Riding

The humorous idea that riding the goat constitutes a part of the ceremonies of initiation in a Masonic Lodge is just a Joke and has its real origin in the superstition of antiquity.  The old Greeks and Romans portrayed their mystical god Pan in horns and hoof and shaggy hide and called him goat-footed.   When the demonology of the classics was adopted and modified by the early Christians, Pan gave way to Satan, who naturally inherited his attributes; so that to the common mind the Devil was represented by a he-goat, and his best known marks were the horns, the beard, and the cloven hoofs.  Then came the witch stories of the Middle Ages, and the belief in the witch orgies, where, it was said, the Devil appeared riding on a goat.  These orgies of the witches, where, amid fearfully blasphemous ceremonies, they practiced initiation into their Satanic Rites, became, to the vulgar and illiterate, the type of the Masonic Mysteries; for, as Doctor Oliver says, it was in England a common belief that the Freemasons were accustomed in their Lodges "to raise the Devil."  So the riding of the goat, which was believed to be practiced by the witches, was transferred to the Freemasons; and the sayings, artifacts, and jokes about it remain to this day, although the use of them has long since died out. 

Glory and Beauty of the Day

Daylight has many beauties, many advantages, and many blessings; but its supreme glory is in marvelous utterances of the goodness and glory of God.


A belief in the existence of God is an essential point of Speculative Freemasonry--so essential, indeed, that it is a landmark of the Order that no atheist can be made a Freemason.  Nor is this left to an inference; for a specific declaration to that effect is demanded as an indispensable preparation for initiation.  Hence Hutchinson says that the worship of God "was the first and cornerstone on which our originals thought it expedient to place the foundation of Masonry."  


The initials of Gomer, Oz, Dabar.  It is a singular coincidence, and worthy of thought, that the letters composing the English name of Deity should be the initials of the Hebrew words wisdom, strength, and beauty; the three great pillars, or metaphorical supports, of Masonry.  They seem to present almost the only reason that can reconcile a Mason to the use of the initial "G" in its conspicuous suspension in the East of the Lodge in place of the Delta.  The incident seems to be more than an accident.  Thus the initials conceal the true meaning.

Golden Bowl Be Broken

This sublime and unique rule of conduct in man's relation to and treatment of his fellow man spoken by the Saviour has been adopted by Freemasons, and it is used with its full significance in all the ramifications of human actions.

Refers to old age, and the brain, which is rendered unfit to perform its functions by the approach of death. 

Golden Rule

This sublime and unique rule of conduct in man's relation to and treatment of his fellowmen, spoken by the Savior, holds a high place in Masonic teachings.


The Greeks had graphein, to write, or draw (from this we have graphic, engrave, etc.) ; gramma was that which was written or drawn. Grammar now refers only to the skeletonal framework of language, its parts of speech and their combinations, hut formerly it included all forms of learning based’ on language, such as rhetoric and what is now taught in the schools as English; by the time our Monitor was written, however, grammar and rhetoric had become differentiated, nevertheless the Monitorial portion of the Second Degree makes it plain that a Fellow Craftis expected to be a literate man, knowing something of the arts of language in both speaking and writing. In interpreting the Second Degree this wide meaning of “grammar must be kept in mind.

One of the seven liberal arts and sciences, which forms, with Logic and Rhetoric, a triad dedicated to the cultivation of language.  "God," says Sanctius, "created man the participant of reason; and as he willed him to be a social being, he bestowed upon him the gift of language, in the perfecting of which there are three aids.  The first is Grammar, which rejects from language all solecisms and barbarous expressions; the second is Logic, which is occupied with the truthfulness of language; and the third is Rhetoric, which seeks only the adornment of language."  In the Fellow Craft lecture Grammar is explained as the key by which alone the door can be opened to the understanding of speech.  It is Grammar which reveals the admirable art of language, and unfold it various constituent parts, its names, definitions and respective offices; it unravels, as it were, the thread of which the web of speech is composed.  These reflections seldom occur to any one before their acquaintance with the art; yet it is most certain, that, without a knowledge of Grammar, it is very difficult to speak with propriety, precision and purity.


Grandis in the Latin meant great, large, awesome, especially in the sense of imposing; it was afterwards applied to the aged, the ripe in experience, an application easy enough to understand when one recalls the reverence paid by the Romans to seniority, long experience, etc. this latter meaning appears in our grandfather, grandmother, grandsire, etc. In English the word developed in two directions, one toward that which is great, large, awein-spiring, as in “grandeur,” the other toward dignity, exalted power. Our own use of the term in “Grand” Lodge, “Grand” East, “Grand” Master, harks back to the latter of the two usages. The head of the Craft is called “Grand”’ Master because he is its most exalted official.

Grand East

The place where the Grand Lodge holds its communications and from which place the edicts are issued.

Grand Master

The head of a non-royal order, usually the Head of State of the order's country of origin  The head of a royal order is normally called the Sovereign of the Order or the Master of the Order.  The office of Grand Master was an invention of the Order of Knights Templar, founded in 1118.

Grasshopper Shall Be A Burden

This expression is a figure of the weakness accompanying old age.


In the Master's Degree it is the analogue of the couch or coffin in the Ancient Mysteries, and is intended scenically to serve the same purpose.  Of greatest importance is the Sprig of Acacia, to teach symbolically the great Masonic doctrine of a resurrection and future life.

Great Lights

The Holy Bible, Square and Compasses. The Bible represents the will of God, the Square is the physical life of man and the Compasses represents the moral and spiritual life.

Great Porch

This was the name give to the vestibule at the entrance into the Temple of Solomon.

Great and Sacred Name

Any name that is used as a title of Deity is held sacred by Freemasons, and all names of our God are to be uttered with profound reverence and never thoughtlessly or blasphemously.

Great White Throne

This term refers to the pure and glorious throne of God. Before it, every knee must bow and every tongue confess that Christ is God to the Glory of the Father.


Grip, grope, grab, grasp, gripe came the same roots. The Anglo Saxon gripe meant to clutch, to lay hold of, to seize, to grasp strongly. A grip means to clasp another’s hand firmly; it differs from a mere hand. clasp, which may be a meaningless formality. in that it is done earnestly, and for a purpose—for what purpose in our fraternal system every Mason knows. A grip should be giver. as if one meant it; half of its meaning lies in the way it is done.


Every brother following his raising should be taught to start with the grip of an Entered Apprentice Mason and go through the grips, passes, and words to the Grand Masonic Word.

Ground Floor of the Lodge

Mount Moriah, the site on which Solomon's Temple was erected, is symbolically referred to as the "ground floor of the Lodge."

This sacred spot was once the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite and from him David purchased the site for six hundred shekels of gold.  A tradition of Masonry is that Entered Apprentice's Lodges were held on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple, and that symbolically this is true today.

Guild (Gild) Masons - Guttural

From the Latin guttur meaning "the throat."


From the Latin "guttur", the throat.

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Hail or Hale

This word is used among Freemasons with two very different significations.  (1) When addressed as an inquiry to a visiting Brother it has the same import as that in which it is used under like circumstances by mariners.  Thus: "Whence do you hail?" that is, "Of what Lodge are you a member?"  Used in this sense, it comes from the Saxon term of salutation hael, and should be spelled hail.  (2)  Its second use is confined to what Freemasons understand by the tie, and in this sense it signifies to conceal, being derived from the Saxon word helan, to hide, the e being pronounced in Anglo-Saxon as a in the word fate.  By the rules of etymology, it should be written hale, but is usually spelled hele.


In Freemasonry, the hand holds an important place in its symbolisms because it is the principal seat of the sense of feeling, which is so necessary in many of the symbols of the Order.  Any Mason who has experienced the necessity of recognizing a brother under unusual conditions recognizes the value of the hand in Masonic communications.


This was the title given to the overseers and princes appointed by Solomon to supervise the workmen in the preparation of the material and in the building of the Temple.


In the western world the nations uncover their head as a sign of respect when they enter a place of worship; the eastern uncover their feet.  To keep the head covered while all around stands uncovered is a token of superiority and rank of office, the badge of his authority. To uncover the head in the presence of superiors is a mark of respect and reverence; it is equally a mark of superior rank in office not to uncover the head.  For this reason the Worshipful Master removes his hat during prayer in the lodge room. 


What is one of the prerogative rights of a Grand Master?  Any person made a Mason irregular and desiring to correct the mistake will have to be "Healed" by the Grand Master of that jurisdiction before he will be permitted to petition a regular Lodge for reinitiation.


One of the five senses, and an important symbol in Freemasonry, because it is through it we receive instruction when ignorant, admonition when in danger, reproof when in error, and the claim of a Brother who is in distress.  Without this sense, the Freemason would be crippled in the performance of all his duties; and hence deafness is deemed a disqualification for initiation.   It should noted that in recent years, Grand Masters have granted dispensations in many jurisdictions to those hearing impaired candidates who have shown the ability to communicate by lip-reading and hand-signing.  Modifications in the ritual are made so the hearing impaired candidate is not blindfolded at the several stations and at the altar.  This is another example proving that Freemasonry can change to meet the needs of a changing world.


A distinctive tenet of Freemasonry is that there is a Heaven of bliss beyond the grave. The symbolic meaning of the "foreign country" in which the Master Mason seeks wages is Heaven, the higher state of man's existence after death and following the Resurrection.


Obligated in a degree which the Mason has not had conferred on him. To "heal" is to "make valid."

Height of the Lodge

"The height of the Lodge is from the earth to the highest heaven" and is a symbolic expression indicating the unlimited the unlimited expanse of a Mason's privileges and obligations.


Pronounced "hail" and means to keep guarded, or secret. Sometimes spelled "hale."


Half of the earth's surface, as the western hemisphere, the northern hemisphere.


Literally the symbols in the priestly writings of the Egyptians. Generally, a symbol or sign the meaning of which is known only to the initiated.

High Twelve

The Latin nonus referred to the ninth hour of the day, that is, nine hours after sunrise. In the Medieval church it referred to the middle hour between midday and sunset, that is, about three o’clock P.M. In the course ot time it came to refer to any part of the middle of the day, and finally to twelve o’clock. The origin of our “High Twelve” is uncertain, but it is probable that it goes back to a time before “noon" was generally used for twelve o’clock; the “high” doubtless refers to the sun, which at that time was at its highest point in the sky.

Hills and Valleys

In ancient Israel, and even among many people today, places of worship were placed on high elevations, or on tops of hills.  The "hill-top" or "mountain-top" symbolizes holiness unto the Lord.


An upright gavel made in the form of a maul and used by a presiding officer.

Hiram Abif

When King Solomon was about to build a temple to Jehovah, the difficulty of obtaining skillful workmen to superintend and to execute the architectural part of the undertaking was such, that he found it necessary to request of his friend and ally, Hiram, King of Tyre, the use of some of his most able builders; for the Tyrians and Sidonians were celebrated artists, and at that time were admitted to be the best mechanics in the world.  Hiram willing complied with his request, and dispatched to his assistance an abundance of men and materials, to be employed in the construction of the Temple, and among the former, a distinguished artist, to whom was given the superintendence of all the workmen, both Jews and Tyrians, and who was in possession of all the skill and learning that were required to carry out, in the most efficient manner, all the plans and designs of the King of Israel.  Of this artist, whom Freemasons recognize sometimes as Hiram the Builder, sometimes as the Widow's Son, but more commonly as Hiram Abif, the earliest account is found in the First Book of Kings 7:13-14, where the passage reads as follow:  "And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.  He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass, and he was filled with wisdom and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass.  And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work."  Most or all of the legend of Hiram Abif is made up.  He is supposed to have died seven years after starting work on the Temple.  The legend is one of the "secrets" of Freemasonry, which most Masons will do their best to avoid recounting.  It is, however, well documented, as follows: 

Every noon - High Twelve, in Masonic parlance - Hiram Abif went into the temple to pray.  Three Fellow-Craftsmen, not yet Master Masons, determined to wait for him as he came out and to force him to give them the secret word of recognition of the Master Mason.  Their names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum.  These are the Ruffians of Masonic tradition.  Jubela was waiting at the south gate, where the Master went first.  When Abif refused to divulge the word, Jubela struck him in the throat with a 24-inch rule.  The Master hastened for the west gate, where Jubelo demanded the word; when it was refused, Abif was struck on the chest with Jubelo's square.  Finally, at the east gate, a blow between the eyes from Jubelum's setting maul completed the job.  Abif fell dead, still having refused to disclose the word - or, as Freemasons have it, the Word or the Word.  The murderers buried their victim over the brow of Mount Moriah and placed a sprig of acacia on the grave.  The murderers were rapidly discovered (before the body was found!) as they tried to escape to Ethiopia.  A search party went out by no less a person than King Solomon (in Masonic tradition, a chum of the builder) soon found the grave, marked by the evergreen sprig.  Then, after the Entered Apprentices and the Fellow-Craftsmen had fail to resurrect their Master, he was raised by the Master Mason with the "strong grip of a lion's paw."

Hiram, King of Tyre

Hiram was one of the most noted of all the Kings of Tyre; he was contemporaneous with both David and Solomon, and on intimate terms with both.  Like Solomon, he was much disposed to mysticism; tradition has it that the two kings often exchanged enigmas for solution.  In legendary Masonry, Hiram, King of Tyre, was Grand Master of all Masons, and Hiram Abif was Master of the Order in Jerusalem.  Viewing the Temple after its completion he recognized the preeminence of the Great Architect of the universe in its perfections, and yielded the supremacy in Masonry to Solomon Jedediah as the representative of Jehovah.  In the symbolic supports of Masonry he represented the pillar of strength, because, "by his power and wealth he assisted the great undertaking."  Legendary Masonry represents him as frequently visiting Jerusalem for consultations with Solomon and the chief architect Hiram Abif during the construction of the Temple. 


Hiram, King of Tyre.


According to history, verifiable, capable of documentary proof.  We also speak of traditional and legendary history, meaning popular belief, not upheld by fact.


Throughout Masonic ritual, the absolute and superlative Holiness of God is recognized, and every representation of the Deity in symbols, attitudes and words must be in the most reverent manner.

Holy of Holies

The ancient Tabernacle erected by Moses at Mount Sinai was divided into two compartments or rooms. At the west end was the Most Holy Place constructed of a perfect cube fifteen feet in all dimensions. It was separated from the other room, the Holy Place, by curtains. The only article of furniture in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Book of Law, the stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments, a pot of manna and Aaron's rod that budded. The Most Holy Place was entered only by a high priest once each year on the Great Day of Atonement. Like the Tabernacle, King Solomon's Temple was divided into two compartments. The Most Holy Place was a perfect cube forty feet in all its dimensions. All the walls were overlaid with fine gold as was the floor. Again, the only article of furniture was the Ark of the Covenant.

Holy Place

One of the two compartments of the Tabernacle of Moses was the Holy Place or Sanctuary at the east end of the Tabernacle. The furniture of the Holy Place consisted of the great Candlestick, the table for shewbread and the altar of incense with its censer and snuffers. In King Solomon's Temple, the Holy Place, sometimes referred to as the Greater House, followed the pattern of the Tabernacle, but was much larger. Instead of one candlestick, there were ten: five on the right side and five on the left, all made of pure gold. The Altar of Incense occupied the west end of the Sanctuary and was also made of pure gold, as was it censer.


Respect, as applied to men; worship, as applied to deity.


“Hood” goes back to old German and Anglo Saxon, in which it referred to head covering, as in hat, hood, helmet, etc.; “wink,” in the same languages, meant to close the eyes, “wench,” “wince,” etc., being similarly derived. A hoodwink was therefore a headdress designed to cover the eyes. The popular use of the word is believed to go back to the old sport of falconry, once so popular, in which the falcon had a hood over its eyes until ready to strike at its prey.

A blindfold which is a symbol of secrecy; mystical darkness and silence. It is a mystical darkness in which the mysteries of our art should be preserved from the unhallowed gaze of the profane. 


The second round in the theological and Masonic ladder, and symbolic of a hope in immortality.  It is appropriately placed there, for, having attained the first, or faith in God,  we are led by a belief in His wisdom and goodness to the hope of immortality.  This is but a reasonable expectation; without it, virtue would lose its necessary stimulus and vice its salutary fear; life would be devoid of joy, and the grave but a scene of desolation.  The ancients represented Hope by a nymph or maiden holding in her hand a bouquet of opening flowers, indicative of the coming fruit; but in modern and Masonic iconology, the science of Craft illustrations and likenesses, it is represented by a virgin leaning on an anchor, the anchor itself being a symbol of hope.


This virtue has always been highly esteemed among Freemasons.  Nothing is more usual in diplomas or certificates than to recommend the bearer "to the hospitality of all the Brethren where-so-ever dispersed over the globe"; a recommendation that is seldom disregarded.  All of the old Constitutions detail the practice of hospitality, as one of the duties of the Craft, in language like this: "Every Mason shall receive and cherish strange fellowes when they come over the countreye."


The hourglass is an emblem of the passage of time, an emblem of human life.  Behold! how swiftly the sands run, and how rapidly our lives are drawing to a close!  We cannot without astonishment behold the little particles which are contained in this machine; -- how they pass away almost imperceptibly! and yet, to our surprise, in a short space of an hour they are all exhausted.  Thus wastes man!   Today, he puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow, blossoms, and bears his blushing honors thick upon him; the next day comes a frost which nips the shoot; and when he thinks his greatness is still aspiring, he falls, like autumn leaves, to enrich our mother earth.   As a Masonic symbol it is of comparatively modern date, but the use of the hour-glass as an emblem of the passage of time is older than our oldest rituals.  Thus, in a speech before Parliament, in 1627, it is said:  "We may handle and play with the hour-glass: that is in our power, but the hour will not stay for us; and an opportunity once lost cannot be regained."  We are told that in the early part of the last century it was a custom to inter an hour-glass with the dead, as an emblem of the sands of life being run out.

House Not Made With Hands

This expression comprehends the eternal dwelling place of God and the resurrected and glorified body of the redeemed in the life beyond the grave.

Human Senses

There is here the recognition of the truth that all the natural faculties and endowments of man are the products of the creative energy of God and are loving gifts from Him.


The ritual of Freemasonry teaches that all members should maintain freedom from pride and arrogance.  The first step toward acquisition of truth is humility of mind, a sense of personal ignorance, and a desire for knowledge.

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I Am That I Am

This is the English translation of the most distinctive and significant title of Jehovah God given to Moses at the burning bush. In its original Hebrew form, it was regarded with such sacredness by the Israelites that it was never spoken above a whisper. It signifies the "self-existent, independent, unsearchable One."


The science which teaches the doctrine of images and symbolic representations.  It is a science collateral with Freemasonry, and is of great importance to the Masonic student, because it is engaged in the consideration of the meaning and history of the symbols which constitute so material a part of the Masonic system.  Iconography is culture-specific, hence such expressions as "Egyptian iconography" and "the iconography of Christian art."

ILL. or Illustrious

A title used in addressing members of the 33rd.


Giving or showing an example.


A drawing, picture, or example.


Showing by example or picture.


Much of the ritual in Freemasonry assumes the doctrine of man's immortality, and in many specific instances, professions of this fundamental tenet are uttered.

Freemasonry, without personal faith in the immortality of the soul, would be like "an arch resting on one pillar, like a bridge ending in an abyss."  Not only does the ritual of Freemasonry teach the doctrine of man's immortality; but in symbolic action this tenet of Masonry is illustrated in a most profound manner.  No man who has been "raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason" can ever forget the inculcation of the truth of man's immortality.  In Speculative Science the symbol of Immortality is the Acacia or Evergreen.


The "burning of incense" was a part of worship common to all nations of antiquity, including the Hebrews, the Egyptians, and the Hindus.  Among the Hebrews this was a symbol of prayer, of holy devotions, of purity of affections in divine worship.  It has in Masonry similar significations; hence the pot of incense has been adopted as a symbol in the Third Degree, and the "burning of incense" is practiced in some of the high degrees.

Indented Tessel

The ornamented border which surrounds the Mosaic pavement


Without distinction between.


A virtue inculcated amongst Freemasons, because by it they are enabled not only to support themselves and families, but to contribute to the relief of worthy distressed Brethren.  "All Masons," say the Charges of 1722, "shall work honestly on working days that they may live creditably on holy days" (Constitutions, 1723, page 52.)  The Masonic symbol of industry is the beehive, which is used in the Third Degree.

Indwelling of God

That God deigns to dwell among his people and with the hearts of the pure and the good is a fundamental truth to Masons.

Ineffable Name

It is generally agreed among the Believers that the correct pronunciation of the most sacred name of God has been lost, and to this traditional fact Masons assent. In it believed, however, that the mysteries of this Ineffable Name is held by the Messiah until the Day of Resurrection.

Inner Door

Just as the mysteries of God's truth are available to those who earnestly knock, so admittance to the lessons of Freemasonry are opened by the proper knock at the Inner Door of the Lodge.


From time immemorial, the lamb has been regarded as an emblem of innocence. Since Masons are required to strive after perfect innocence, especially in the Masonic conduct, the apron worn by them must be made of pure white lambskin.


Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudworum, meaning "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."


A plural term for all types of portable (worn) awards or distinctions.  Insignia is the broadest category of phaleristic items and includes badges, collars, habits, medals, sashes, ribbons, fourragères, Ärmelbands, and Armschilds.  The singular term is insigne.


Stallum was the Late Latin for place, or seat, or proper position, which meaning is preserved in our English “stall.” To “install” therefore means that one has been placed in his seat or station—the "in" meaning here the same as in English. A Masonic installation is a ceremony by which an elected officer is officially placed in the seat to which his brethren have elected him.

The act by which an officer is put in possession of the place he is to fill.  In Freemasonry it is, therefore, applied to the induction of one who has been elected into his office.  The officers of a Lodge, before they can proceed to discharge their functions, must be installed.  The officers of a new Lodge are installed by the Grand Master, or by some Past Master deputed by him to perform the ceremony.  The ceremony is an old one, and does not pertain exclusively to Freemasonry.  The ancient Romans installed their priests, their kings, and their magistrates; but the ceremony was called inauguration, because performed generally by the augers.


Integrity of purpose and in conduct is symbolized by the plumb.


Capable of being read or understood


Intemperance is regarded by the Masonic Fraternity as a vice wholly incompatible with a true Masonic character, and habitual indulgence in strong drink subjects the offender to the penalty of expulsion.


The obligations of Freemasonry are required to be taken with an honest determination to observe them; and hence the Freemason solemnly affirms that in assuming those responsibilities he does so without equivocation, secret evasion, or mental reservation.


The grave is the natural resting place for the bodies of the dead, but it is not the final abode of these bodies. We honor our dead in interment, but we await their Resurrection.

Internal Qualifications

Those qualifications of a candidate which refer to a condition known only to himself, and which are not patent to the world, are called internal qualifications.  They are: 1st. That he comes forward of his own free-will and accord, and unbiased by the solicitations of others.  2nd. That he is not influenced by mercenary motives; and, 3rd, That he has a disposition to conform to the usages of the Order.  The knowledge of these can only be obtained from his own statements, and hence they are included in the preliminary questions which are proposed before initiation.


Toleration is one of the chief foundation-stones of Freemasonry; Universality and Brotherly Love are fundamental principles of the Fraternity.  Indeed, the archenemy of Freemasonry is intolerance.  There may be individuals who natural powers are limited and circumscribed and whose prejudices may lead them into a spirit of intolerance; but the Fraternity frowns upon such, and there is no institution that has greater resistive powers against this great enemy of man than Freemasonry.  The Third and Tenth Degrees, A. A. Scottish Rite, strongly emphasize the doctrine of tolerance. 


The presentation of an apron to a candidate in the ceremony of initiation.


Kept sacred or unbroken.

Iron Tools

In order that perfect quiet and reverence might prevail in the building of the Temple, no iron tool of any kind was employed.

We are told that in the building of King Solomon's Temple there was not heard the sound of any metallic tool.  All stones were fitted, and numbered in the quarries; the timbers were prepared in the forest forest of Lebanon, whence they were brought by floats to Joppa, and thence carried over land to Jerusalem.  Stones and wood-work thus prepared fitted into the architectural plans of the building with such perfection that the whole, when completed, seemed rather the work of the Grand Architect of the Universe than that of mere humans.  Among Masons these remarkable facts symbolize the entire peace and harmony which should prevail among Masons when laboring on that spiritual temple of which the Solomonic Temple was the archetype.

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Jachin - He (Jehovah) doth establish

Comes from two Hebrew words meaning "God will establish." Jachin is a combination of two words, Jah, the poetical name of Jehovah, and iachin, meaning establishment. The full significance of the name is, therefore, "With God's help to establish," the symbolical meaning given to in the work of Freemasonry.  The two great pillars of Solomon's Temple supporting the Great Porch, known as Solomon's Porch, were called Boaz and Jachin, Jachin being the right hand pillar facing eastward, that is, on the south.. 

Jacob's Ladder

The story of Jacob's dream or vision is which he saw a stairway leading from earth to Heaven and angels descending and ascending on it holds an important place in Masonic ritual. It is employed as a symbol of progress; its three principal rounds representing Faith, Hope and Charity, present us with the means of advancing from earth to heaven, from death to life--from mortal to immortality, or the transition from death to life..  Hence its foot is placed on the ground-floor of the Lodge, which is typical of the world, and its top rests on the covering of the Lodge, which is symbolic of heaven. 


The poetical name of Jehovah.

Jedadiah - beloved of God

This was a special name given to Solomon at his birth by Nathan, the prophet and tutor of the young son of David.


Jehovah is, of all the significant words of Freemasonry, by far the most important.  Reghellini very properly calls it "the basis of our dogma and of our mysteries."  In Hebrew it consists of four letters, and hence is called the tetragrammaton, or Four-lettered Name; and because it was forbidden to a Jew, as well as a Freemason, to pronounce it, it is also called the Ineffable or Unpronounceable Name. 


The capitol of Judea, and memorable in Masonic history as the place where was erected the Temple of Solomon.  It is early mentioned in Scripture, and is supposed to be the Salem of which Melchizedek was king.  At the time that the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the city was in possession of the Jebusites, from whom, after the death of Joshua, it was conquered, and afterward inhabited by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.  The Jebusites were not, however, driven out; and we learn that David purchased Mount Moriah from Ornan or Araunah the Jebusite as a site for the Temple.  It is only in reference to this Temple that Jerusalem is connected with the legends of Ancient Craft Masonry.  In the degrees of chivalry it is also important, because it was the city where the holy places were situated, and for the possession of which the Crusaders so long and so bravely contested.  It was there, too, that the Templars and the Hospitalers were established as Orders of religious and military knighthood.

Jesus and the Temple

The parents of Jesus carried him to the Temple when he was only forty days old for purification ceremonies. At the age of twelve, he attended the Passover in Jerusalem and visited the Temple. After beginning his public ministry, he honored the Temple on a number of occasions, cleansed it twice, taught the people, performed miracles within its sacred precincts, and otherwise recognized it as the House of God, even though it was being greatly profaned


The Freemason's ornaments are three jewels, the square to the Worshipful Master, the level to the Senior Warden, and the plumb-rule to the Junior Warden.  Those who are entrusted with them must possess great talents.  When the Lodge is at labor, the jewels of their office are worn on a collar about the neck.  A Past Master of a Lodge is entitled to wear a pocket jewel denoting his former station and rank.

Jewels, Movable and Immovable

Every Lodge is furnished with six jewels, three of which are moveable and three immovable.

The Movable jewels are the Rough and Perfect Ashlars and the Trestle Board and are so called because they are not confined to any particular part of the lodge whereas the Immovable jewels: the Square, Level, and Plumb, have definite locations. They are called "jewels" not because of their materials, but because of their meaning. The word "jewel" comes from the Greek meaning "bright or shining."


Every Freemason, when he is initiated into the Craft, is taught to consider human life as a journey.  He would faint with fatigue, lose himself in unknown roads, or fall over high precipices if he was not supported, faithfully conducted, and fraternally warned.  By these means he arrives in safety at the end of his journey, and is permitted to receive light himself, that he may be able to support, lead, and warn others when traveling the same road.

Judah - praised

Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and the founder of the tribe bearing his name, is also the representative of a key point in ancient Masonry. Judah distinguished himself on a number of occasions and was given Messianic distinction in the tribal blessings of his father and by Moses. The royal house of Israel was of the tribe of Judah, even as was Jesus the Messiah. The tribe of Judah was the first to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. For this reason, and because of its distinction as the tribe of David, Solomon and the Messiah, Judah represents or symbolizes the entrance of the candidate into the Light and liberty of Freemasonry.

Junior Deacon

This officer is the especial attendant of the Senior Warden; and being seated at his right hand, is prepared to carry messages from him to the Junior Warden, and elsewhere about the Lodge as he may direct.  He takes very little part in the ceremonies of conferring the degrees, but as he is placed near the outer door, he attends to all alarms of the Tiler, reports them to the Master, and at his command, inquires into the cause.  The outer door being thus under his charge, he should never permit it to be opened by the Tiler, except in the usual form, and when preceded by the usual notice.  He should allow no one to enter or depart without having first obtained the consent of the presiding officer.  An important duty of the Junior Deacon is to see that the Lodge is duly tiled.  Upon his security and secrecy of the institution depends; and therefore the Junior Deacon has been delegated as an especial officer to place the Tiler at his post, and to give him the necessary instructions.  In the inspection of the brethren, which takes place at the opening of the Lodge, the south side of the room is entrusted to the Junior Deacon.  In absence of the Senior Deacon, the Junior Deacon does not succeed to his place; but a temporary appointment of a Senior Deacon is made by the Master.  If the Junior Deacon is absent, it is the usage for the Master, and not the Senior Warden, to make a temporary appointment.  The right of nominating the Junior Deacon is vested in the Senior Warden only on the night of his installation.  After that, on the occurrence of a temporary vacancy, his right is lost, and the Master makes the appointment by the constitutional right of appointment which vests in him.

Junior Warden

As the sun in the south is the beauty and glory of the day, so is the Junior Warden in the south, the better to observe the time; to call the Craft from labor to refreshment, and from  refreshment to labor again by order of the Worshipful Master.  All the duties that devolve upon the Senior Warden, in the absence of the Master, devolve in like manner, and precisely to the same extent, upon the Junior Warden, in the absence of both the Master and the Senior.  But if the Master be present, and the Senior Warden absent, the Junior Warden does not assume the functions of the latter officer, but retains his own station, and a Senior Warden pro tempore must be appointed by the Master.  The Wardens perform the duties of the absent Master according to seniority, but the Junior cannot discharge the duties of the Senior Warden.  It must be remembered that a Warden acting as a Master is still a Warden, and is so acting simply in the discharge of one of the duties of his office.  The Senior Warden is bound to the performance of his duties, which are, in the presence of the Master, to superintend the west, and in his absence to preside.  The Junior Warden in like manner, is bound to the performance of his duties, which are, in the presence of the Master, to superintend the south, and in the absence of both the Master and Senior Warden, to preside.  The absence of the Senior Warden has, therefore, no effect upon the duties of the Junior Warden, unless the Master is also absent, when he takes the east.  He is to supply the place, not of the absent Senior Warden, but of the absent Master.  The Junior Warden is further shouldered with the responsibility for the refreshments at the Lodge and directs the assistance of the Senior and Junior Stewards.


One of the four cardinal virtues, the practice of which is inculcated in the First Degree.  The Freemason who remembers how emphatically he has been charged to preserve an upright position in all his dealings with mankind, should never fail to act justly to himself, to his Brethren, and to the world.  This is the corner-stone on which alone he can expect "to erect a superstructure alike honorable to himself and to the Fraternity."  In iconology, the general science pertaining to images, Justice is usually represented as a matron, her eyes bandaged, holding in one hand a sword and in the other a pair of scales at equipoise.  But in Freemasonry the true symbol of Justice, as illustrated in the First Degree, is the feet firmly planted on the ground, and the body upright.

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Keepers of the House Shall Tremble

This expression is a figure of the failings of the body in old age or as weakened by the approach of death. The usual interpretation is that the arms and legs are the keepers.


Among the ancients the key was a symbol of authority and power; this was true among the Hebrews.  Following this ancient symbolism the crossed keys are the Jewel of the Treasurer of a Lodge, because he is responsible for the purse and for receiving and paying out the funds for the Fraternity.  In the Royal Arch Degree and in the Secret Master, or Fourth Degree of the Scottish Rite, the key is the symbol of secrecy.  It is a reminder that the secrets of Freemasonry are to be locked up or concealed in the heart. 


The stone placed in the center of an arch which preserves the others in their places, and secures the firmness and stability to the arch.  As it was formerly the custom of Operative Masons to place a peculiar mark on each stone of the building to designate the workman by whom it had been adjusted, so the Keystone was most likely to receive the most prominent mark, that of the superintendent of the structure.  Such is related to have occurred to that Keystone which plays so important a part in the legend of the Royal Arch Degree.  The objection has sometimes been made, that the arch was unknown in the time of Solomon.  But this objection has been completely laid to rest by the researches of antiquaries and travelers within a few years past.  Wilkinson discovered arches with regular keystones in the doorways of the tombs of Thebes, the construction of which he traced to the year 15540 B.C., or 460 years before the building of the Temple of Solomon.  And Dr. Clark asserts that the Cyclopean gallery of Tiryns exhibits lancet-shaped arches almost as old as the time of Abraham.  In fact, in the Solomonic era, the construction of the arch must have been known to the Dionysian Artificers, of whom, it is a freely received theory, many were present at the building of the Temple


Bending the knees has, in all ages of the world, been considered as an act of reverence and humility, and hence Pliny, the Roman naturalist, observes, that "a certain degree of religious reverence is attributed to the knees of man."  Solomon placed himself in this position when he prayed at the consecration of the Temple; and Freemasons use the same posture in some portions of their ceremonies, as a token of solemn reverence. 

Knee to Knee

When, in his devotions to the Grand Architect of the Universe, he seeks forgiveness for the past and strength for the future, the Freemason is taught that he should, in all these offices of prayer, join his brother's name with his own.  The prerogative that Job, in his blindness, thought was denied to him, when he exclaimed, "Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!" is here not only taught as a right, but inculcated as a duty; and the knee is directed to be bent in intercession, not for ourselves alone, but for the whole household of our Brethren.

Knife and Fork Degree

This is a sarcastic term used of those Masons who take more delight in the banquet and other festivities of the Lodge than they do in its more serious labors.


In the dualism of Freemasonry, knowledge is symbolized by light, as ignorance is by darkness.  To be initiated, to receive light is to acquire knowledge; and the cry of the neophyte for light is the natural aspiration of the soul for knowledge.

Koran, The

The sacred book of the Mohammedans, and believed by them to contain a record of the revelations made by God to Mohammed, and afterward dictated by him to an amanuensis, since the prophet could neither read or write.  In a Lodge consisting wholly of Mohammedans, the Koran would be esteemed as the Book of Law, and take the place on the altar which is occupied in Christian Lodges by the Bible.

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The Latin labor meant toil, work, the putting forth of effort; it appears to be akin to robur, or strength, preserved in our “robust.” While labor and work are used interchangeably, the latter is a more generic word, and admits of a much wider range of uses. Work may be either hard or easy but labor is always hard; work is used of all sorts of effort; labor refers generally to muscular effort, followed by fatigue. When labor is kept up unremittingly it is toil; and when toil is uninteresting, uninspiring, and poorly paid it is drudgery. When working, one’s ambition is to succeed with it; when laboring, one looks forward to resting from it; hence, it is from labor that we seek refreshment, not from work.

It is one of the most beautiful features of the Masonic Institution, that it teaches not only the necessity, but the nobility of labor.  From the time of opening to that of closing, a Lodge is said to be at labor.  This is but one of the numerous instances in which the terms of Operative Masonry are symbolically applied to Speculative; for, as the Operative Masons were engaged in the building of material edifices, so Free and Accepted Masons are supposed to be employed in the erection of a superstructure of virtue and morality upon the foundation of the Masonic principles which they were taught at their admission into the Order.  When the Lodge is engaged in reading petitions, hearing reports, debating financial matters, etc., it is said to be occupied in business; but when it is engaged in the form and ceremony of initiation into any of the Degrees, it is said to be at work.  Initiation is Masonic labor.  As Freemasons, we labor in our Lodge to make ourselves a perfect building, without blemish, working hopefully for the consummation, when the house of our earthly tabernacle shall be finished, when the Lost Word of Divine Truth shall at last be discovered, and when we shall be found by our own efforts at perfection to have done Gods' service. 


A symbol of progressive advancement from a lower to a higher sphere, which is common to Freemasonry and to many, if not all Ancient Mysteries.  In each, generally, as in Freemasonry, the number of steps was seven. 


"In all ages the Lamb has been deemed an emblem of innocence." The candidate is therefore given a white lambskin apron.


It is a symbol of innocence, and the badge of a Mason. 


In the early Anglo Saxon, German, or Scandinavian languages the noun “land” meant the same as in modern English, although as a verb it meant “come to land,” a meaning reflected in our custom of saying a man lands from a ship, etc. “Mark” is found in almost all European languages, and derives from the Latin margo, edge, boundary, whence our margin, mark, and cognate terms. A “landmark” is some mark, line or object to indicate a boundary. The landmarks of Masonry are those principles by which the Craft is bounded, that is, marked off from all other societies and associations and without which it would lose its identity.

In ancient times, it was customary to mark the boundaries of lands by the means of stone pillars or heaps of stones. The removal of such landmarks was a grievous crime and an evidence of fraudulent intent by the offender. In speculative Masonry there are also ancient and universal customs of the Order which gradually grew into operation as rules of action, and the same rigid rule with reference to ancient landmarks applies to these.

Language, Universal

There are certain signs by which, for all practical purposes, Masons of various tongues may make themselves known to one another.  The system of Masonic signs and symbols has been sp perfected that in every language they convey the same meaning and make the same impression.

Lapel Pin

An insigne, such as the Masonic Square and Compasses, that is attached to the lapel of civilian clothing by either a fixed or rotating pin.  The purpose of the lapel pin is to distinguish the bearer as a recipient of the order, decoration, or medal represented by the pin.  A related term is stickpin.

Lawful Age

A man of discretion.

Lawful Information

hat one has tested by trial and examination, or knows that such has been done by another.

Lay or Inlay

The manner or position in which something is situated (lay). To set (a piece of wood, metal, etc.) into a surface to form a design that is usually level with the surface (inlay).


Each Degree of Freemasonry contains a course of instruction, in which the ceremonies, traditions, and moral instruction appertaining to the Degree are set forth.  According to the arrangement adopted in this country, commonly known as the Webb Lectures, there are three sections in the first Degree, two in the second, and three in the third.

Left Hand

In ancient times the left hand was considered to be a symbol of equity and justice, because of its natural inertness, incapable of craft and subtlety.

Legally Constituted

A Lodge working under proper authority and Charter from a Grand Lodge.


The Greeks had legein, speak; the Latins legere, read; from these we have legend, lecture, etc. In the early Christian church the legend was the Scripture selection read in a church service; later the term became applied to stories about the lives of the saints, especially to their wonders and miracles. The famous “Golden Legend,” a collection of such stories, was one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages. Legend’, as now used, is a story without historical foundations but told in the form of history, hence our “Legend of the Third Degree,” a narrative in dramatic form that Masons have long understood to be non-historical.

Legend of the Third Degree

The most important and significant of the legendary symbols of Freemasonry is, undoubtedly, that which relates to the fate of Hiram Abif, commonly called, "by way of excellence," the Legend of the Third Degree.  The first written record that Doctor Mackey had been able to find of this legend is contained in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, published in 1738 (page 14), and is in these words:  It (the Temple) was finished in the short space of seven years and six months, to the amazement of all the world; when the capstone was celebrated by the Fraternity with great joy.  But their joy was soon interrupted by the sudden death of their dear master Hiram Abif, whom they decently interred in the Lodge near the Temple, according to ancient usage.


According to popular belief or report, but without proof. A legend usually carries with it the idea of the miraculous.


Capable of being read.


On the subject of that crying sin of the Order--over-legislation by Grand Lodges--Governor Thomas Brown, formerly Grand Master of Florida, has wisely said:  Too much legislation is the vice of the present day, as well in Masonic as in civil government.  The same thirst for change and innovation which has prompted tyros and demagogues to legislate upon constitutional law, and write expositions of the common law, has prompted uninformed and unscrupulous Masons to legislate upon the Landmarks of Masonry.   Note:  M.W. Thomas Brown was the first Whig Governor of Florida and is buried in Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida.

Lesser Lights

In the lecture of the First Degree we are told that a Lodge has three symbolic Lesser Lights; one of these is in the East, one in the West, and one in the South.  There is no light in the North, because King Solomon's Temple, of which every Lodge is a representation, was placed so far north of the ecliptic that the sun and moon, at their meridian height, could dart no rays into the northern parts thereof.  The North we therefore Masonically call a place of darkness.  This symbolic use of the Lesser Lights is very old, being found in the earliest lectures of the eighteenth century.  The three lights, like the three principal officers and the three principal supports, refer, undoubtedly, to the three stations of the sun--its Rising in the East, its Meridian in the South, and its setting in the West; and thus the symbolism of the Lodge, as typical of the world, continues to be preserved.


In Latin libra was a balance, the root of our libration, equilibrium; libella was the diminutive form of the same word, and from it has come our level, an instrument by which a balance is proved, or by which may be detected the horizontal plane. It is closely associated in use with the plumb, by which a line perpendicular to the horizontal is proved. The level is that on which there are no inequalities, hence in Masonry it is correctly used’ as a symbol of equality. “We meet upon the level” because Masonic rights, duties, and privileges are the same for all members without distinction.

Level of Equality

The level in Masonry is a symbol of the fraternal equality of mankind as the offspring of God, all races and nations having been made of one blood. The fundamental principle that all men are created equal, with certain inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is basic in Freemasonry.

Liber, or Liberty

A fundamental of Freemasonry is liberty of thought, speech, and action, within the bounds of civil, political, and conscientious law, without license.  The Eagle, in the Rose Croix Degree, symbolizes this tenet.  The word Liber is also the name of the inner rind of the bark of a tree formally used as material for writing; hence it signifies "book," and for the "tree of knowledge" we have the "book of wisdom," and for the "tree of " we have the "book of life." 

Liberal Arts and Sciences

They are Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy.

We are chiefly indebted to the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages for the nomenclature by which they distinguished the seven sciences then best known to them.  With the metaphorical spirit of the age in which they lived, they called the two class into which they divided them the trivium, or meeting of three roads, and the quadrivium, or meeting of four roads; calling grammar, logic, and rhetoric the trivium, and arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy the quadrivium.  These they styled The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, to separate them from the mechanical arts which were practiced by the handicraftsmen.  The Liberal Man, Liberalis Homo, meant, in the Middle Ages, the man who was his own master--free, independent, and often a nobleman.


Liber was the Latin for “free,” as in our liberty, liberal, etc. When the Romans gave a slave his freedom he was called libertus, so that in Roman history a libertine was a freed-man. In theology a libertine came to mean one who holds loose views, a freethinker; in morality, a licenticus person, one who flouts moral laws. Whether the early Masons used “libertine” to mean a “freethinker” or a licentious man, is a point that has never been decided’; in practice, they probably used it in both senses.


A candidate is “brought to light.” “Let there be light” is the motto of the Craft. It is one of the key words of Masonry. It is very ancient, harking back to the Sanskrit ruc, meaning shine. The Greeks had luk, preserved in many English words, especially such as have leuco in their make-up, as in “leucocyte,” a white blood corpuscle. The Latins had luc or lux in various forms, whence our light, lucid, luminous, illumine, lunar, lightning, etc. The word means bright, clear, shining, and is associated in its use with the sun, moon, fire, etc. By an inevitable association the word came into metaphorical use to mean the coming of truth and knowledge into the mind. ‘When a candidate ceases to be ignorant of Masonry, when through initiation the truths of Masonry have found entrance into his mind, he is said to be “enlightened” in the Masonic sense.

Light is a symbol of knowledge.  It is in fact the first of all the symbols presented to the initiate, and continues to be presented to him in various forms throughout his Masonic career.  It is the ultimate desire of every Mason to be well informed on Masonry, and may every Mason strive constantly for light, and especially for light eternal!  He who introduces light into the lodge, must be a worthy man, and experienced in the Craft.  Freemasons are emphatically called the "sons of light" because they are, or should be, in possession of the true meaning of the symbol.

Throughout the ritual and work of Freemasonry, Light is the symbol of knowledge, and just as God spoke into existence physical light, so He is the original source of all true knowledge. The Great Light of Masonry is His inspired work. Masons are pledged to strive after more and more Light as life goes on and should seek above all things Light Eternal.

Light, To Bring To

A technical expression in Freemasonry meaning to initiate; as, "He was brought to light in such a Lodge," that is, he was initiated in it.

Light of Life

The source of enlightenment and knowledge for life's darkness, perplexities and doubts, as well as for life's responsibilities and duties, is the Holy Bible -- the Great Light of Masonry.

Lights, Greater

The Bible, and the Square and Compasses.  In the Persian initiations, the Archimagus informed the candidate, at the moment of illumination, that the Divine Lights were displayed before him.

Lily Work

The lily has always been an emblem of peace. For this reason, lily work occupied a place of conspicuousness and distinction in the ornamentations of the Temple and its furniture.

Lion of the Tribe of Judah

In the tribal benediction pronounced upon Judah, the "lion's whelp" is used emblematically of strength. Hence, the ensign on the banner of Judah was a lion. The phrase in the Masonic ritual, "The lion of the tribe of Judah," is Messianic and refers to Christ, the anointed of God and royal head of God's Kingdom.

Lion's Paw

A mode of recognition so called because of the rude resemblance made by the hand and fingers to a lion's paw.  It refers to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Lithography - On Paper

Is an art form of printing on paper, invented by Alois Senefelder, an actor and dramatist of Bavaria, in the early 1800s.  Masonic certificates and posters were produced using the lithographic process. 


This word comes from the Old French, English and Medieval Latin, and meant generally a hut, a cottage, a gallery, a covered way, etc.; our “lobby” had the same beginning. How the Operative Masons came to employ the term, and just what they meant by it, has never been determined; they had a symbolic Lodge, their building was a Lodge, the group of members was a Lodge, an assembly of Masons was a Lodge, and often times the whole body of Masons was called a Lodge. In our own usage the word has three technical meanings; the place where Masons meet, the assembly of the brethren duly congregated for labor, and a piece of furniture.

Two or more Freemasons, "in regular assembly and properly opened and prepared for work or business," constitutes the Lodge.

Lodge of Instruction

These are assemblies of Brethren congregated without a Warrant of Constitution, under the direction of a lecturer or skillful Brother, for the purpose of improvement in Freemasonry, which is accomplished by the frequent rehearsal of the work and lectures of each Degree.  

Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem and Lodge of St. John

Masonic tradition has it that the primitive, or mother, Lodge was held at Jerusalem and dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and then to St. John the Evangelist, and finally to both. This Lodge was therefore called "The Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem." From this Lodge all other Lodges are supposed, figuratively, to descend.


Is that science which directs us how to form clear and distinct ideas of things, and thereby prevents us from being misled by their similitude or resemblance.  Of all the human sciences, that concerning man is certainly most worthy of the human mind, and the proper manner of conducting its several powers in the attainment of truth and knowledge.  This science ought to be cultivated as the foundation or ground-work of our inquires; particularly, in the pursuit of those sublime principles which claim our attention as Masons.


Commonly abbreviated form of logogram, meaning a sign or character representing a word.  Similar to a trademark.

Lost Word

The lost word was the ineffable name of God, but the term is used symbolically of Divine Truth.  That for which the Mason search is to discover the divine in himself and in the world that he might achieve mental satisfaction and ultimate happiness.

Low Twelve

The hour of midnight; darkness is a symbol of death as well as of ignorance.

Loyalty to Government

Foremost in the first charge given to an Apprenticed Mason is the solemn requirement:  "In the State, you are to be a quiet and peaceful subject, true to your government, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live."  In all the progressive degrees of Freemasonry, this charge is reinforced and strengthened. 

Lux E Tenebris

Latin meaning "Light out of darkness."

Lux Fiat Et Lux Fit

Latin, meaning Let there be light, and there was light.  A motto sometimes prefixed to Masonic documents and artifacts.

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Mallet or Setting Maul

This was an instrument in setting up the stone in the building of King Solomon's Temple;  it is an emblem in the Third Degree.  In the Mark Master Degree, it is one of the working tools, having the same emblematic meaning as the common gavel in the Entered Apprentice Degree.  The correction of the irregularities of temper, the curbing of the aspirations of unbridled ambition, the suppression of the malignity of envy, and the moderation of the ebullition of anger are exacted in this degree.

Making A Mason "At Sight"

By a Grand Master's prerogative, some constitutional requirement is set aside-usually the ballot, and a man is made a Master Mason without waiting or instruction between degrees.


Relating to the hand, from the Latin "manus", a hand.


This is a word from the Middle Ages, with an uncertain origin. The old Gothic maitan meant to hew, or cut, and it is supposed the word carried that general meaning through Medieval Latin, English, German, and in the Scandinavian languages. If at first it was used only of a stone-cutter, it came later to mean a builder. Why the Operatives were called “Freemasons” is still an unsolved puzzle; the most likely view is that they were a society of builders free to move from one place to another in contrast to the gild Masons who were confined in their labors to one community. In our Fraternity a Mason is a builder of manhood and brotherhood.

Mason's Wife and Daughter

There is a degree conferred upon the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of Master Masons, to secure to them, by investing them with a peculiar mode of recognition, the aid and assistance of the Fraternity, or of individual Masons in a time of distress. 

Masonic Ages

The age of an Entered Apprentice is said to be three years (the symbol of peace or perfect harmony); that of a Fellowcraft, five years (the symbol of active life); and that of a Master Mason, seven years (the symbol of perfection).


What is Masonry?  The erection of buildings and consecrating them to the veneration of God, we will admit was the purpose of the builders, of the ancient operative art.  While the Masons of the Speculative Sciences operate in a spiritual sense, employing the tools of the Operative Mason as symbols, and using veiled allegories, from the Bible to convey to their initiates a lesson and belief, that there is life beyond the grave. 


The Latin root mag had the general meaning of great—as in “magnitude”; it was the source of the Latin magister, head, chief, principal, the word of which “magistrate” was made. During the Middle Ages it fell into use as a conventional title applied to persons in superior rank, preserved in our own familiar “mister,” always written “Mr”, a colloquial form of “master.” Also it came to be used’ of a man who had overcome the difficulties in learning an art, thereby proving himself to be greater than his task, as when it is said of an artist who has overcome all the obstacles and difficulties of painting, “He is a master.” A Master Mason is so called because be has proved himself capable of mastering the work; also because he belongs to a Degree so named.

Master of the Lodge

This title signifies "teacher," not Lord. The Master of the Lodge should be well informed in the mysteries, symbols, allegories and principles of Freemasonry. Masonry is a science of morals, clothed in symbols and any Brother who becomes a teacher of this science must fully understand the allegories in which it is enveloped, the symbolisms with which it is illustrated, the myths and legends of Masonry, and their mystical applications to everyday life. What the sun is by day to the world, the Master is to the Lodge.

Master Builder

In the material realm, a master builder is one who is qualified in intellect and training to do constructive building of symmetrical and perfect order -- an architect, skilled worker and capable artisan. Hiram Abif (Abith), the widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, was such a master builder. With the very best materials furnished him by King Solomon, he carried to completion an edifice of magnificence and superlative beauty and glory. In speculative Masonry, a master builder is one who is qualified in heart and mind, by skill in moral and spiritual science, and by Holy consecration to erect temples of immortal characters.

Master Mason

What is the symbolism of a Master Mason, and how represented?  The Master Mason represents man, when youth, manhood, old age, and life itself, have passed away as fleeting shadows, yet raised from the grave of iniquity, and quickened into another and better existence.  By its legend and all its ritual, it is implied that we have been redeemed from the death of sin and the sepulcher of pollution; and the conclusion we arrive at is, that youth, properly directed, leads us to honorable and virtuous maturity, and that the life of man, regulated by morality, faith, and justice, will be rewarded at its closing hour, by the prospect of eternal bliss.

Membership, Right of

The first right which a Freemason acquires, after the reception of the Third Degree, is that of claiming membership in the Lodge in which he has been initiated.  The very fact of his having received that Degree make him at once an inchoate member of the Lodge--that is to say, no further application is necessary, and no new ballot is required; but the candidate, having now become a Master Mason, upon signifying his submission to the Regulations of the Society by affixing his signature to the book of by-laws, is constituted, by virtue of that act, a full member of the Lodge, and entitled to all the rights and prerogatives accruing to that position.


Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain; greedy, venal.


The position of the sun at noon.


In the divesture of metals as a preliminary to initiation, we are symbolically taught that Freemasonry regards no man on account of his wealth.  The Talmudical treatise Beracoth, with a like spirit of symbolism, directs in the Temple service that no man shall go into the Mountain of the House, that is, into the Holy Temple, "with money tied up in his purse."

Metal Tools

In ancient Israel, the use of metal tools in the actual construction of sacred altars and edifices was forbidden; hence, the preparation of all materials for the building of Solomon's Temple was done in the forests and quarries.

Freemasonry has adopted this as a symbol of the peace and harmony which should reign in a Lodge, itself a type of the world.  But Clarke, in his commentary on the place, suggests that it was intended to teach us that the Temple was a type of the kingdom of God, and that the souls of men are to be prepared here for that place of blessedness.  There is no repentance, tears, nor prayers: the stones must all be squared, and fitted here for their place in the New Jerusalem; and, being living stones, must be built up a holy temple for the habitation of God. 

Metaphorical Supports of Masonry

What are the metaphorical supports of Masonry?  Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; the three great pillars, or metaphorical supports, and it is a singular coincidence, and worthy of thought, that the letters composing the English name of Deity should be the initials of the Hebrew words wisdom, strength, and beauty; G.O.D.  Gomer, Oz, and Dabar.

Middle Chamber

Abiding place of truth, reached by ascending that symbolic winding stairway of life, where the symbol only of the Word can be given, where the truth is to be reached by approximation only, and yet where we are to learn that, that truth will consist of a perfect knowledge of the G.A.O.T.U. 

Minute Book

Every Lodge shall have its by-laws fairly written, and shall also keep a book or books in which the Master, or some brother appointed by him as Secretary, shall enter the names of its members, and all persons initiated or admitted therein, with the dates of their proposal, admission, or initiation, passing, and raising; and also their ages, as nearly as possible, at that time, and their titles, professions or trades, together with such transactions of the lodge as are proper to be written.


The records of a Lodge are called its Minutes.  The Minutes of the proceedings of the Lodge should always be read just before closing, that any alterations or amendments may be proposed by the Brethren; and again immediately after opening at the next Communication, that they may be confirmed.  But the Minutes of a Regular Communication are not to be read at a succeeding extra one, because, as the proceedings of a Regular Communication cannot be discussed at at an extra, it would be unnecessary to read them, for, if incorrect they could not be amended until the next Regular Communication.

Money Changers

These were exchange bankers who set up tables in the precincts of the Temple where they provided Jewish coins for Temple offerings in exchange for foreign moneys, charging fees for their services. Jesus drove them from the Temple, declaring that they had made the "House of Prayer a den of thieves."


The Latin monere meant to warn; it was the root of our admonish, admonition, etc.; a monitor was the man who did the warning. The term became widely used in early school systems of the senior pupils in a class whose duty it was to instruct his juniors; from this it passed to include the book, the blackboard and other instruments used by him in his teachings. Our use of it carries this last meaning; the Masonic Monitor is a book for teaching a candidate the exoteric work.


The adoption of the moon in the Masonic system as a symbol is analogous to, but could hardly be derived from, the employment of the same symbol in the Ancient religions.  In Egypt, Osiris was the sun, and Isis the moon; in Syria, Adonis was the sun, and Ashtoroth the moon; the Greeks adored her as Diana, and Hecate; in the mysteries of Ceres, while the hierophant or the chief priest represented the Creator, and the torch-bearer the sun, the officer nearest the altar, represented the moon.  In short, moon-worship was as widely disseminated as sun-worship.  Freemasons retain her image in their Rites, because the Lodge is a representation of the universe, where, as the sun rules over the day, the moon presides over the night; as the one regulates the year, so does the other the months, and as the former is the king of the starry hosts of heaven, so is the latter their queen; but both deriving their heat, and light, and power from Him, who, as the Greatest Light, the Master of heaven and earth, controls them both.

Morality of Freemasonry

No one who reads our ancient Charges can fail to see that Freemasonry is a strictly moral institution, and that the principles which it inculcates inevitably tend to make the Brother who obeys their dictates a more virtuous man.  Hence the English Lectures very properly define Freemasonry to be "a system of morality."  In the American system, morality is one of the three precious jewels of a Master Mason.  Morality an indispensable requirement.

Moral Law

"A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law."  For Masons enjoying the benefits of the Jewish religion or of Christianity this requirement comprehends also the law of nature, which is "the will of God, relating to human actions, grounded on the moral differences of things; and discoverable by natural light, obligatory upon all mankind," and written on the human conscience.


A hill in Jerusalem on which the Temple of Solomon was built.


This word has nothing to do with Moses. Its root was the Greek mousa, a muse, suggesting something artistic. The same root appears in our “museum,” literally a place where artistic work is exhibited. Through the Latin it came into modern languages and during the Middle Ages became narrowed down to mean a pattern formed by small pieces of inlay, a form of decorative work much in vogue during the time of the Operative Masons. Our “mosaic pavement is so called because it consists of an inlay pattern, small black and white squares alternating to suggest day and night.

Mosaic Pavement

Tessellated pavement or checkered floor. An inlay floor composed of black and white squares.

Mouth to Ear

The method whereby the esoteric work of Freemasonry is passed on from one Mason to another, or from one Mason to the candidate who is qualified to receive such information.

The Freemason is taught by an expressive symbol, to whisper good counsel in his Brother's ear, and to warn him of approaching danger.  "It is a rare thing," says Bacon, "except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given that is not bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it."  And hence it is an admirable lesson, which Freemasonry here teaches us, to use the lips and the tongue only in the service of a Brother.


One of the seven liberal arts and sciences, whose beauties are inculcated in the Fellow Craft's Degree.  Music is recommended to the attention of Freemasons, because as the "concord of sweet sounds" elevates the generous sentiments of the soul, so should the concord of good feeling reign among the Brethren, that by the union of friendship and brotherly love the boisterous passions may be lulled and harmony exist throughout the Craft.  The Fellow Craft lecture explains Music as that elevated science which affects the passions by sound.  There are few who have not felt its charms, and acknowledged its expressions to be intelligible to the heart.  It is a language of delightful sensations, far more eloquent than words; it breathes to the ear the clearest intimations; it touches and gently agitates the agreeable and sublime passions; it wraps us in melancholy, and elevates us in joy; it dissolves and inflames; it melts us in tenderness, and excites us to war.  This science is truly congenial to the nature of man; for by its powerful charms the most discordant passions may be harmonized and brought into perfect unison; but it never sounds with such seraphic harmony as when employed in singing hymns of gratitude to the Creator of the universe.


This word is used in Masonry in two senses entirely different; indeed, though spelled and pronounced the same, they are really two words. “Mystery” in the sense of strange, unknown, weird, secret, hails from the Greek, .in which muein meant to close the eyes, lips and ears; from this came musterion, a secret ceremony or doctrine, appearing in Latin as mysterium. The word mystery, thus derived, means secrecy, hiddenness, and is properly used of the esoteric elements in Ma­sonry. But in the phrase “arts, parts and mysteries” the word is from the Latin minister­ium, having the meaning of trade, art, craft, occupation, etc., preserved in the familiar metier from the French, often used as an English word, and the much more familiar “minister,” “ministry,” etc.; in this sense -- the sense most often used in our Craft the “mysteries of Masonry” are its workings, just as the mysteries of Operative Masonry were its trade secrets known only to those trained and skilled in the building arts. In the latter of the two senses “mystery” and “master” (see above) are closely affiliated in origin, a master being one who has become completely skilled in mysteries.


In the Greek, muster was one who had been initiated. Originally, so Jane Harrison be­lieves, the root word referred to pollution; but inasmuch as the Greek mysteries had for their aim the removal of moral pollution, the word became generally associated with the mysteries themselves, and at last was used to signify a man who had gone through them. Mystic in our own use of it, as in “Mystic Tie,” refers not to the mysterious in Freemasonry, or to any mysticism in it, but to the fact of our being a secret society, practicing initiation.

Mystic Tie

This phrase refers to the bond of fraternal love, to the solemn vows of eternal Masonry, irrespective of differences in race, nationality and conflicting interests. By this mystic tie, men of the most discordant opinions are united in one band, meet at one altar, even when fighting in opposing armies or affiliated with different religions. It is, indeed, an indefinable spiritual tie, spiritual tie not easily broken; fellowship among Masons and those under its influence are rightly spoken of as "Brethren of the Mystic Tie."

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Naked - unclothed

In Scriptural symbology, nakedness denoted sin, and clothing, protection.  But the symbolism of Freemasonry on this subject is different.  There, to be "neither naked or clothed" is to make no claim through worldly wealth or honors to preferment in Freemasonry, where nothing but internal merit, which is unaffected by the outward appearance of the body, is a recommendation for admission.  Nakedness a symbol of poverty and of lack in claims for preferment.

Names of the Temple

The Temple built by Solomon, which occupies such importance throughout the symbolisms and legends of Freemasonry, is given a number of names in the Bible: The Palace of Jehovah, The House of Sanctuary, and The House of Ages.

Naphtali - my wrestling

Naphtali was the fifth son of Jacob and the founder of the tribe bearing his name. In the tribal blessing given him by his father, and confirmed by Moses, wise counsel and prosperity were to be the chief characteristics of the tribe. Naphtali represents the investiture of the lambskin apron bestowed in the West and South.

Neither Naked Nor Clothed

Neither unclothed, or defenseless, nor clothed and self-sufficient.

New Name

With the change in character and fortune, it is often appropriate that one be given a new name.


Members of the Mystic Shrine.


The north is Masonically called a place of darkness.  The sun in his progress through the ecliptic never reaches farther than 23°28' north of the equator.  A wall being erected on any part of the earth farther north than that, will therefore, at meridian, receive the rays of the sun only on its south side, while the north as a symbol of darkness will be entirely in shadow at the hour of meridian.

North Side

In Masonic symbolism the North Side of the Lodge represents God's exalted throne.

Northeast Corner

As one progresses through the rites and symbolisms of Freemasonry, receiving more and more Light, he reaches the Northeast Corner with all the outward appearances of a perfect and upright Mason, a true and tried representative of the cornerstone of a great moral and spiritual edifice.

Masonic legend and ritual recognize the northeast corner as the proper place for laying the corner-stone in an edifice; symbolically this corner represents the beginning of the laying of the corner-stone of the spiritual superstructure which every true Mason must build.  Here, in the Northeast Corner, ceremonies and instructions, the initiate commences the moral and intellectual task of erecting a spiritual temple in his heart.  The corner-stone is emblematic of a "well-tried, true, and trusty" Masonic character which he begins now to build -- the squareness of its surface, emblematic of morality; its cubical form, emblematic of firmness and stability of character; the peculiar finish and fineness of the material, emblematic of virtue and holiness.  In consecrated language of symbolism the newly admitted Apprentice is instructed in a life of integrity and stability of conduct, of truthfulness and uprightness of character, and of purity and holiness in all human relations. 

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A solemn affirmation, in the name of God, that what one testifies is true.

Before any candidate for the mysteries, symbols, tenets, and secrets of Freemasonry can be admitted to a Lodge he is required to make a solemn oath by which he pledges secrecy secrecy and assumes the obligation of faithfully conforming his life to the teachings of the Order.  There is nothing profane or immoral in the obligations assumed, nor is there the slightest elements of levity in the procedure.  Hence this oath can not be regarded as the slightest perversion of Holy Scripture or in any sense objectional or sinful.  Neither is the objection sometimes given that the oath is administered before the secrets are made known reasonable or just.  Certainly an obligation, covenant, and promise, exacted previous to the divulging of the specialties of an Order wholly characterized by benevolent intent is not only free of reasonable objection, but fair and honorable.. The oath of a Mason is administered with solemn rites symbolizing and emphasizing the profound and meaningful character of the obligations being assumed.  While these rites are peculiar to Masonry, they are no different in their import and meaning from ceremonies and rites common in administering oaths in other spheres of human relations.  The Masonic oath is attended with the imprecation of certain penalties in the event of violation.  There can be no oath without the elements of both attestation and execration.  All these explanations apply to the oaths required of Masons in each succeeding step of advancement in the Masonic Order. 

Oath, Tiler's

Before any strange and unknown visitor can gain admission into a Masonic Lodge, he is required in the United States of America to take the following oath:  "I, A.B., do hereby and hereon solemnly and sincerely swear that I have been regularly initiated, passed, and raised to the sublime Degree of a Master Mason in a just and legally constituted Lodge of such; that I do not now stand suspended or expelled; and know of no reason why I should not hold Masonic communication with my Brethren."  It is called the Tiler's Oath, because it is usually taken in the Tiler's room, and was formerly administered by that officer, whose duty it is to protect the Lodge from the approach of unauthorized visitors.  It is now administered by the Committee of Examination, and not only he to whom it is administered, but he who administers it, and all who are present, must take it at the same time.  It is a process of purgation, and each one present, the visitor as well as the members of the Lodge, is entitled to know that all the others are legally qualified to be present at the esoteric examination which is about to take place.


Obligate and oblige are sister words, deriving from the same Latin root, ob, a prefix meaning before, or about; and ligare, meaning bind, as in our ligament. An obligation is a tie, or pledge, or bond’ by which a man is tied to his fellows, or gives his word to perform certain duties. Accordingly we have obliging, referring to one who is willing to bind himself to do something for you, obligatory, etc. The obligation is the tie, or bond, itself; in Masonry a formal and voluntary pledge on the candidate’s part by virtue of which he is accepted as a responsible member of the family of Masons.

A promise or pledge of obedience. From time immemorial, men have entered into covenants of brotherhood and friendship under solemn oaths of fidelity and loyalty, and whenever the circumstances and purposes warranted it, secrecy has been pledged. This practice among Masons has man precedents and is based on the truths and principles set forth of the Great Light of Masonry. The Mason takes an obligation, not an oath, that he will not depart from the promises he makes. The obligation in such covenants is given in the name of God, and perjury in such obligations is subject to severe penalties. All vows voluntarily taken in Masonry must be faithfully performed and are never subject to revocation.


This has long been a puzzle word in Masonic nomenclature. How, it is asked, can a square be oblong, when a square is equal on all its sides? The answer is that in this connection “square” is used in the sense of rectangle; the angles are squared, not the sides. Oblong is derived from ob, near, or before, and longus, long; that is, it means something approximately long, so that the main axis is much longer than the others, as a slender leaf, a shaft, etc. An “oblong square is a rectangle of which two opposite sides are much longer than the other two. The Lodge symbolically is an oblong square in this sense.

Oblong Square

A right angle with one side longer than the other.

Opening of the Lodge

It is absolutely necessary that the Lodge be opened in due and ancient form. Without these ceremonies, the assembly is not a Masonic Lodge. This is true because the Master must be reminded of the dignity and character of himself and of his position. And the other officers must be impressed with the respect and veneration due from their sundry stations. But more important, the Fraternity in Lodge assembly and in work must maintain a reverential awe for Deity, and must look to the Great Light of Freemasonry, the Holy Bible, for guidance and instruction. Thus, in the opening of the Lodge, the Great Architect of the Universe must be worshipped, and His blessings upon the work about to be performed must be supplicated. At the same time, prayer is offered for peace and harmony in the closing of the Lodge.


We distinguish Operative Masons, builders of the Middle Ages, founders of Masonry, from Speculative Masons, present members of the Fraternity, using the builders’ tools as emblems and symbols. The Latin for toil, or work, was opus, still used’ in that form in English to signify a musical or literary achievement. Opus was the root of operari, to work, whence we have our operate, operative, operation, opera, operator, and many others. The Operative Mason was one who toiled at building in the plain, literal sense of the word. “Speculative” will be explained farther down.


Aloud, spoken.


An Order may be defined to be a brotherhood, fellowship, or association of certain persons, united by laws and statutes peculiar to the society, engaged in a common object or design, and distinguished by particular habits, ensigns, badges or symbols.

Order, Rules of

In every Masonic Lodge there is a code of rules and order, well adapted to the work of the Lodge from long usage and universal adoption; they conform to the laws of parliamentary order and should be rigidly followed.

Oriental Chair

He seat of the Master in the East; the Oriental Chair of King Solomon.


Ornare was the Latin verb meaning to adorn, to equip, of which the noun was amamen turn, trappings, embellishment, furniture, etc., from which was derived our “adornment” and “ornament.” In church usage “ornaments” was the name given to all the equipment used in the services of divine worship. We speak of the mosaic pavement, the indented tessel, and blazing star as “ornaments of the Lodge;” whether the term was used by Lodges originally because they were considered to be adornments, or because they were part of the Lodge equipment it is impossible to say, though the latter alternative appears to be the more likely.

Ornaments of a Lodge

The lectures describe the ornaments of a Lodge as consisting of the Mosiac Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star.  They are called ornaments because they are really the decorations with which a properly furnished Lodge is adorned.


Name of Jebusite from whom David purchased a threshing floor in Jerusalem in which King Solomon’s temple was built.  This was previously the site of the alter.

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Parallel Lines

In every well-regulated Lodge there is found a point within a circle, which circle is imbordered by two perpendicular parallel lines.  These lines are representative of St. John the Baptist and St, John the Evangelist, the two great patrons of Freemasonry to whom our Lodges are dedicated, and who are said to have been "perfect parallels in Christianity as well as Freemasonry."  

Parrot Mason

This is a facetious name sometimes given to a Mason who commits to memory and repeats in perfect rote the catechetical questions and answers on the Degree work of the Lodge, but neither seeks nor learns anything of the real meaning and teachings of Freemasonry.  In reality, he is a poor specimen of a real Mason.


A candidate, on receiving the Second Degree, is said to be "passed as a Fellow Craft."  It alludes to his having passed through the porch to the Middle Chamber of the Temple, the place in which Fellow-Crafts received their wages.

Passing the Chair

The ceremony of installation of the presiding officer.


The Latin passus meant pace, step, track, passage; it contains the picture of a path, road, aisle, or door through which one can make his way, hence our “pass,” derived from it. From it also we have our word “pace.” A password is any agreed word or counter-sign that permits one to pass through an entrance or passage otherwise closed.


A term applied in Masonry to an officer who has held an office for the term for which he was elected, and has then retired, as Past Master, Past Senior Grand Warden.


In the phrase "time, patience, and perseverance will enable us to accomplish all things, and perhaps at last to find the true Master's Word," Masons are certainly encouraged to the practice of this noble virtue, with the assurance of reward. 


The spirit of Freemasonry is antagonistic to war.  Its tendency is to unite all men in one brotherhood, whose ties must necessarily be weakened by all dissension.  Hence, as Brother Albert Pike says, "Freemasonry is the great Peace Society of the world.  Wherever it exists, it struggles to prevent international difficulties and disputes, and to bind republics, kingdoms, and empires together in one great band of peace and amity." 

Peace on Earth

The principles and tenets of Freemasonry and the teachings of the symbols and legends of the Fraternity are conducive to "peace on earth and good will to men." Due recognition is given to the Truth that only as the Prince of Peace reigns in the hearts and lives of men can the world ever have real peace.

Pearly Gates

The splendor and beauty and glory of Solomon's Temple and of its appointments were but symbols and prophecies of the superior Temple, that house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens, with its gates of pearl.


Belonging to the breast; from the Latin pectus, meaning the breast.  The heart has always been considered the seat of fortitude and courage, and hence by this word is suggested to the Freemason certain symbolic instructions in relation to the virtue of fortitude.  In Freemasonry, the word is appropriated to one of the Perfect Points of Entrance.


Belonging to the feet, from the Latin word pedes, meaning the feet.  The just man is he who, firmly planting his feet on the principles of right, is as immoveable as a rock, and can be thrust from his upright position neither by the allurements of flattery, nor the frowns of arbitrary power.  Hence by this word is suggested to the Freemason certain symbolic instructions in relation to the virtue of justice.  


The columns before the Master and Wardens of a lodge.


It is significant that our “penal” derives from the Latin for pain, paena, the root of our penance, penalty, penitence, penitentiary. punish, primitive, pine, and a circle of similar English words. It has the meaning of pain inflicted for the purpose of correction, discipline, or protecting society, never the infliction of pain for its own sake. Our own penalties are symbolical in form, their language being derived from early English forms of punishment for heresy and treason.

Perfect Ashlar

A stone of a true square, which can only be tried by the square and compasses.  This represents the mind of a man at the close of life, after a well-regulated career of piety and virtue, which can only be tried by the square of God's Word, and the compasses of an approving conscience. 

Every Mason is expected to perfect or "polish" himself in building his character in order that he may become acceptable in the sight of God and be fit to take his rightful place in the finished work of Masonry.

Perfect Lodge

One which contains the constitutional number of members.

Perfect Points of Entrance

Symbolic action called for on entrance into a lodge.

Perfect Square

A right angle with the sides equal.


Having willfully told a lie while under lawful oath or affirmation; having broken an oath.


In a geometrical sense, that which is upright or erect, leaning neither one way or another.  In a figurative and symbolic sense, it conveys the signification of Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance.  Justice, that leans to no side but that of Truth; Fortitude, that yields to no adverse attack; Prudence that ever pursues the straight path of integrity; and Temperance that swerves not for appetite nor passion.

Personal Merit

All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, that so the Lord may be well served, the Brethren not put to shame, nor the Royal Craft despised.  Therefore no Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but for his merit.

Petition for Initiation

According to American usage any person who is desirous of initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry must apply to the Lodge nearest to his place of residence, by means of a petition signed by himself, and recommended by at least two members of the Lodge to which he applies.  A petition, when read, becomes the property of the Lodge and cannot be withdrawn. 


The title of the ruler of ancient Egypt.


Friends of truth.

Philosophy of Masonry

What is the philosophical basis of Masonry?  Involves the history of its origin, an inquiry into the ideas that lie at its base, an investigation of its peculiar form, an analytical study of its several degrees, and a development of the ideas which are illustrated by its ritualistic emblems, myths and veiled allegories and which speak through its sublime system of symbols.


The Latin pila was a pile,—such as a pile under a house—a pier, a pillar, or a mole,— the last named a massive stonework enclosing a harbor. In ancient times pillars were used for all manner of religious and symbolical purposes, as when Jacob erected a pillar at a grave, or Solomon set up two great pillars— the prototype of ours—on the Porch before his Temple. (See in connection with this the notes on “column” given above.)

Pillars of Brass

Important and significant features of the architecture of King Solomon's Temple were two giant bronze shafts which stood in striking relief in front of the entrance to the Great Porch at the east entrance of the Temple, one on the left and one on the right. Each was seventy feet high and twenty-four feet in circumference. They were highly ornamented by a network of brass overhung with wreaths of bronze pomegranates, each row containing one hundred. Each of these giant pillars had a chapiter at the top, ten feet in length, making the total height of each pillar eighty feet. On the top of these chapiters were great bowls for oil, called pommels, over which were hung festoon-like wreaths of pomegranates, interspersed at various points with lily work. These two great shafts were given the names Boaz and Jachin.

Pillars of Enoch

The outer pillars of the temple are called the "Pillars of Enoch".  Enoch, fearing that the principles of the Arts and Sciences might be lost, erected two pillars, the one of marble to withstand fire, the other of brass to resist water.  On each he engraved all the knowledge which he feared would be lost.  The globes are symbols of unity, peace and plenty.  These pillars also support the "Rainbow" which is sometimes associated with the Holy Royal Arch.  It is also called the "Arch of Heaven", symbolic of the architectural arch.

Pillars of the Porch

The "Pillars of the Porch" of King Solomon's Temple. King Solomon did not simply erect them as ornaments to the temple, but memorials of God's repeated promises of support to His people of Israel.  Boaz, the name of the left pillar means "in strength", the right pillar Jachin means "God will establish", which signifies when combined, the message "In strength, God will establish His house in Israel".  And thus were the Jews, in passing through the porch to the temple, daily reminded of the abundant promises of God, and inspired with confidence in His protection and gratitude for His many acts of kindness to His chosen people.  The globe on the left pillar represents "Earth", that on the right, "Heaven".  As supports for the porch these pillars were exceedingly strong, circular in form. made of bronze, the thickness of the walls of these shafts being three inches, 18 feet in circumference and 6 feet in diameter.  Each of these pillars was 27 1/2 feet in height and their chapiters of lily work extended the elevation 7 1/2 feet, making a total height of 35 Feet.  The chapiter were highly decorated with various ornamentations.

Pillars of Wisdom

The seven great pillars of wisdom are regarded by Masons to be of superlative worth in the building of a moral and spiritual edifice.

Pitcher Be Broken at the Fountain

The heart is the fountain of human life, and the great vein which carries the blood to the right ventricle is symbolically called the pitcher. When this is broken as a result of the decrepitude of old age or by human disease, death soon follows.


Pertaining to the planets.

Plans and Designs

The plans and designs on the Tressel-Board of the Master, by which the building is erected, are, in Speculative Freemasonry, symbolically referred to the moral plans and designs of life by which we are to construct our spiritual temple, and in the direction of which we are to be instructed by some recognized Divine authority.


Plumbum was the Latin for lead, and was used also of a scourge with a blob of lead tied to it, of a line with a lead ball at its end for testing perpendicularity, etc., the source of our plumb, plumber, plunge, plump, plumbago, plummet, etc. A plumb-line is accordingly a line, or cord, with a piece of lead at the bottom to pull it taut, used to test vertical walls with the line of gravity, hence, by a simple expansion of reference, an emblem of uprightness.

Up means up, right means straight; an upright man is one who stands straight up and down, doesn’t bend or wabble, has no crooks in him, like a good solid wall that won’t cave in under pressure. The divine requirement for uprightness and rectitude in all walks of life

An instrument for erecting perpendiculars.


This tool of operative Masonry used to form and regulate a perfect perpendicular in erecting walls is employed in speculative Masonry as a symbol of justice and uprightness in our deals with our fellowmen. Divine truth is the plumbline in the erection of a moral and spiritual edifice. The Working Tool of a Past Master; the perfect emblem of uprightness.

Points of Entrance, Perfect

In the earliest lectures these were called "Principal Points."  The designation of them a "Perfect Points of Entrance" was of a later date.  They are described in both the English and American systems.  Their specific names, and their allusion to the four cardinal virtues, are the same in both; but the verbal explanations differ, although not substantially.  They are so called because they refer to four important points of initiation.  The Guttural refers to the entrance upon the penal responsibilities; the Pectoral, to the entrance into the Lodge; the Manual, to the entrance on the covenant; and the Pedal, to the entrance on the instruction in the northeast.

Points of Fellowship, Five

There are duties owing by every Freemason to his Brethren, which, form their symbolic allusion to certain points of the body, and from the lesson of brotherly love which they teach, are called the Five Points of Fellowship.  They are symbolically illustrated in the Third Degree, and have been summed up by Dr. Oliver as "assisting a Brother in distress, supporting him in his virtuous undertakings, praying for his welfare, keeping inviolate his secrets, and vindicating his reputation as well in his absence as in his presence."

Point within a Circle

This is a symbol of great interest and importance, and brings us into close connection with the early symbolism of the solar orb and the universe, which was predominant in the ancient sun-worship.  The lectures of Freemasonry give what modern Monitors have made an exoteric explanation of the symbol, in telling us that the point represents an individual brother, the circle the boundary line of his duty to God and man, and the two perpendicular parallel lines the patron saint of the Order--St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.  But that was not always its symbolic signification, we may collect from the true history of its connection with the phallus of the Ancient Mysteries.  The phallus was among the Egyptians the symbol of fecundity, expressed by the male generative principle.  It was communicated from the rites of Osiris to the religious festivals of Greece.  Among the Asiatics the same emblem, under the name of lingam, was, in connection with the female principle, worshiped as the symbols of the Great Father and Mother, or producing causes of the human race, after their destruction by the deluge.  Here, then, was the first outline of the point within a circle, representing the principle of fecundity, and doubtless the symbol, connected with a different history, that, namely, of Osiris, was transmitted by the Indian philosophers to Egypt, and to the other nations, who derived, as is elsewhere shown, all their rites from the East.


Almost from the moment that a candidate for Freemasonry crosses the threshold of the Lodge, the duty of rendering aid and sustenance to those who lack in this world's necessities is urged upon him.


The Great Porch of the Temple of Solomon was magnificent and expansive, and its value to the appointments and uses of the Temple was invaluable. Hence, this porch is given a distinctive recognition in the ritual and teachings of Masonry.


A ruler, sovereign, or monarch.

Pot of Incense

Signifies that, of all forms of worship, it is more acceptable to God to be pure and blameless in our inner lives than anything else.

Is an emblem of a pure heart, which is always an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity; and, as this glows with fervent heat, so should our hearts continually glow with gratitude to the great and beneficent Author of our existence, for the manifold blessings and comforts we enjoy.  


Petitions to Deity in behalf on one's own needs, intercessions for others, communion with God, and prayer in all its elements of praise and worship are fundamentals in the tenets of Freemasonry. From the time a candidate crosses the threshold of the Lodge to the topmost Degree in Masonry, the privilege and duty of prayer are urged upon him, and every step is taken in a Holy atmosphere of Divine worship.

Prayer at Closing

Supreme Architect of the Universe, accept our humble thanks for the many mercies and blessings which they bounty has conferred on us, and especially for this friendly and social intercourse.  Pardon, we beseech thee, whatever thou has seen amiss in us since we have been together; and continue to us thy presence, protection and blessing.  Make us sensible of the renewed obligations we are under to love thee, and as we are about to separate, and return to our respected places of abode, wilt thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds, that we may each one of us practice, out of the Lodge, those great moral duties which are inculcated in it, and with reverence study and obey the laws which thou hast given us in thy Holy Word.--Amen.  Response by the brethren.--So mote it be.

Prayer at Opening

Most holy and glorious Lord God, the Great Architect of the Universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces.  Thou hast promised that, "where two or three are gathered together in thy name, thou wilt be in their midst and bless them."  In they name we have assembled, and in thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings.  Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us--so harmonize and enrich our hearts with thine own Love and goodness--that the Lodge at this time may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before thy throne.  Amen   Response by the brethren.--So mote it be.

Prayer Used at Initiation

Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty Father of the Universe, to this our present convention; and grant that this candidate for Masonry may dedicate and devote his life to thy service, and become a true and faithful brother among us.  Endue him with a competency of thy divine Wisdom, that by the influence of the pure principles of our art he may be better enabled to display the beauties of holiness, to the honor of thy holy name.  Amen  Response by the brethren.--So mote it be.


In all the work of Freemasonry, emphasis is placed upon the importance of adequate preparation of moral, ethical and spiritual vocations. Preparation of the heart is the first essential in Masonry, and certain outward preparations symbolic of, and manifesting, inward preparedness are required.

Preparation of the Candidate

According to Jewish literature and traditions, great care was taken of the personal condition of every Israelite who entered the Temple for Divine Worship.  The Talmud lays down the following requirements:  "No man shall go into the Temple with his staff, nor with shoes on his feet, nor with his outer garment, nor with money tied up in his purse."  The ceremonial usages in Freemasonry have remarkable coincidences with this old Jewish custom.  But it must be remembered that the preparation of the candidate for his entrance into Masonry is entirely symbolic, and full of signification.  This preparation can not be altered, abridged, or added to in any of its details, because of its esoteric design.  Preparation for the different degrees vary, and the symbolisms are, of course, different.

Presentation Piece

An item presented to recipients by a superior ranking official.  In Freemasonry, many presentations are made west of the Altar in the Lodge room by the Worshipful Master, and in some cases, the Grand Master.


At the installation of the officers of a Lodge, or any other Masonic body, and especially a Grand Lodge or Grand Chapter, proclamation is made in a Lodge or Chapter by the installing officer, and in a Grand Lodge or Grand Chapter by the Grand Marshall.  Proclamation is also made on some other occasions, and on such occasions the Grand Marshall performs the duty.


This has a technical meaning in Masonry, nevertheless it adheres closely to the original significance of the word. Fanum was the Latin for temple; pro meant “before,” in the sense of “outside of.” It is the picture of man standing on the outside, not permitted to enter. It has tlfis same sense in Masonry; the “profane” are those men and women who stand outside of Masonry. The word here, of course, has nothing to do with profanity in the sense of sacrilegious language.

The word comes from the Latin pro meaning "before" and Janum meaning "a temple."  Hence, in Masonry it means those who have not been in the Temple, that is, not initiated into the Fraternity of Craft , a non Mason.


The necessity that anyone who devotes himself to the acquisition of a science should become proficient in its elementary instructions before he can expect to grasp and comprehend its higher branches, is so almost self-evident as to need no argument.  The ritual of all the Symbolic degrees, and, indeed, of the higher degrees, and that too in all rites, makes the imperative demand of every candidate whether he has made suitable proficiency in the preceding degree, an affirmative answer to which is required before the rites of initiation can be proceeded with.  This answer is, according to the ritual, that "he has."


Means not only proficient in the ritualistic work, but before the world in daily living.


Growing out of the cardinal virtues which are emphasized throughout the Degrees of Masonry is the practice of prudence by which we are instructed to regulate our conduct by the dictates of reason and in obedience to the cardinal virtues of faith, hope and love.

Prudence is the true guide to human understanding, and consists in judging and determining with propriety what is to be said or done upon all our occasions, what dangers we should endeavor to avoid, and how to act in all our difficulties.

Pseudo hallmarks

Devices used to suggest English hallmarks.

Public Ceremonies

A few Masonic Ceremonies may be conducted in public; they include, the burial of a deceased brother, the laying of cornerstones of public buildings or of Masonic halls, the dedications of Masonic halls, and the installation of officers.

Purging the Lodge

An old expression or the ceremony of ascertaining the Masonic right to be present when a Lodge is opened.


In the Ancient Mysteries purity of heart and life was an essential prerequisite to initiation, because by initiation the aspirant was brought to a knowledge of God, to know whom was not permitted to the impure.  For, says Origen (Cont. Cel., vi.), "a defiled heart cannot see God, but he must be pure who desires to obtain a proper view of a pure Being."  And in the same spirit the Divine Master says:  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  But "to see God" is a Hebraism, signifying to possess him, to be spiritually in communion with him, to know his true character.  Now to acquire this knowledge of God, symbolized by the knowledge of his Name, is the great object of Masonic, as it was of all ancient initiation; and hence the candidate in Masonry is required to be pure, for "he only can stand in the holy place who hath clean hands and a pure heart."

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Qualify comes from the same word as quality. The root of it is the Latin qua, preserved in our “what.” The quality of a thing was its whatness, the stuff of which it was made, its nature. The fy in “qualify” is from facere, to make, so that “qualify” means that a thing is made of the required stuff; and qualification means the act by which a thing is made of the required nature, or is declared to have it. The candidate for the Degrees of Masonry must possess certain characteristics in his nature; must be a man of lawful age, etc., and these are his qualifications.

Qualifications of Candidates

Every candidate for initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry must be qualified by certain essential conditions.  These qualifications are of two kinds, Internal and External.  The internal qualifications which are those that lie within his own bosom, the external are those which refer to his outward and apparent fitness.  The external qualifications are again divided into Moral, Religious, Physical, Mental, and Political.  Morally, the candidate must faithfully observe the Moral Law, and lead a virtuous life, Religiously, he must believe in the existence of one supreme Deity, and must be yielded to His superintending power and divine providences, and he must believe in the immortality of the soul and a future resurrection into eternal life; Physically he must be a man, free born, of lawful age, sound in body and limb, and not in his dotage; Mentally, he must be intelligent, capable of comprehending the profound truths and tenets of the Order; Politically, he must adhere to the principles of freedom and individual liberty of conscience, and be faithful in all civic duties.

First, the Internal Qualifications are:    

1.  The applicant must come of his own free will and accord.  His application must be purely voluntary, to which he has not been induced by persuasion of friends.  

2. He must not be influenced by mercenary motives.  

3.  He must be prompted to make the application in consequence of a favorable opinion that he entertains of the Institution.  

4.  He must be resolved to conform with cheerfulness to the established usages and customs of the Fraternity.  

Second.  The External Qualifications are, as has already been said, divided into five kinds:  

1. Moral.  That candidate only is qualified for initiation who faithfully observes the precepts of the moral law, and leads a virtuous life, so conducting himself as to receive the award of his own conscience as well as the respect and approbation of the world.  

2. Religious.  Freemasonry is exceedingly tolerant in respect to creeds, but it does require that every candidate for initiation believe in the existence of God as a superintending and protecting power, and in a future life.  No inquiry will be made into modifications of religious belief, provided it includes these two tenets.  

3.  Physical.  These refer to sex, age, and bodily conformation.  The candidate must be a man, not a woman; of mature age, that is, having arrived at his majority, and not so old as to have sunk into dotage; and he must be in possession of all his limbs, not maimed or dismembered, but, to use the language of one of the Old Charges, "have his right limbs as a man ought to have.   (This qualification has been amended by Grand Masters using their powers of granting dispensations to allow candidates with missing limbs and those that are hearing impaired admission into Freemasonry.)

4.  Mental.  This division excludes all men who are not intellectually qualified to comprehend the character of the Institution, and to partake of its responsibilities.  Hence fools, or idiots and madmen are excluded.  Although the Landmarks do not make illiteracy a disqualification, and although it is undeniable that a large portion of the Craft in olden times was uneducated, yet there seems to be a general opinion that an incapacity to read and write will, in this day, disqualify a candidate.  

5.  Political.  These relate to the condition of the candidate in society.  The old rule required that none but those who were free born could be initiated, which, of course, excluded slaves and those born in servitude; and although the Grand Lodge of England substituted free man for free born, it is undeniable that that action was the change of a landmark; and the old rule still exists at least in the United States.

Quarrels - violent disputes

It is definitely charged that "No private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the Lodge, far less any quarrels about religion, or nations, or State policy."  The entire scheme of Freemasonry forbids contentions and strifes. 


The Latin quadratum was a square; originally, quadrate and quarry meant the same. The word became applied’ to the pit from which rock is hewn because the principal task of workmen therein was to cut, or square, the stones; hence, literally a quarry is a place where stone-squaring is done. In Masonry “quarry” sometimes refers to the rock pits from which Solomon’s workmen hewed out the stones for his Temple; at other times it refers to the various arenas of Masonic activities, as when it is said of an active Lodge member that “he is a faithful laborer in the quarry.”


This question is answered in the question, "How many compose a Lodge?" in the formal opening of each Degree; the number composing a Lodge is a quorum for any Degree work, or for the transaction of any business.  In opening a Lodge, five is the minimum; for the work of the Entered Apprentice Degree, seven, although the ritual places the number for opening a Lodge of Master Masons at three.

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In the Anglo Saxon arisan was used of any motion up or down, but in English it became used only of an upward motion, as in arise, rising, raise, rear, etc. Raise means to hoist, or carry, or lift, a body upward in space. There is no need to explain to a Mason why it is said of a candidate who has completed the Third Degree that he has been “raised,” or why the climactic ceremony in that Degree is described as “raising.” One is “initiated” an Entered Apprentice, “passed” a Fellowcraft, “raised” a Master Mason.


"Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason" refers to the final symbolic ritual of the Third Degree celebrating our faith in the Final Resurrection of our bodies, to the Divinely Revealed Truth that these vile bodies shall be fashioned into the likeness of the risen and perfected and glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reconsideration of the Ballot

When a candidate has been rejected by one or more secret votes, only the Worshipful Master alone, can, for reasons satisfactory to himself, order a reconsideration, and he can do this only on the night of the ballot, and only if no member present and voting has departed.


Friscus, or frescus, in the Latin had the meaning of new, fresh, recent; the re meant again; so that refresh means to renew, to make over, to undo the ravages of use and time, in Shakespeare’s phrase, “to knit up the raveled sleeve of care.” To “pass from labor to refreshment” is to find rest and recreation so as to undo the wearing effects of toil, as when a laborer knocks off at noon to eat his lunch and have a rest.

Rest period symbolized by noon.

In Masonic language, refreshment is opposed in a peculiar sense to labor.  While a Lodge is in activity it must be either at labor or refreshment.  If a Lodge is permanently closed until its next communication, the intervening period is one of abeyance, it activity for Masonic duty having for the time been suspended; although its powers and privileges as a Lodge still exist, and may be at any time resumed.  But where it is only temporarily closed, with the intention of soon again resuming labor, the intermediate period is called a time of refreshment.


Strictly speaking, the word regalia, from the Latin, regalia, royal things, signifies the ornaments of a king or queen, and is applied to the apparatus used at a coronation, such as the crown, scepter, cross, mound, etc.  But is has in modern times been loosely employed to signify almost any kind of ornaments.  Hence the collar and jewel, and sometimes even the apron, are called by many Masons the regalia.


The Latin rex, king, sovereign, ruler, was a root from which many words have sprung, regal, royal, etc.; the Latins themselves had regula, or rule, and regere, to rule or govern. From this source has come our “regular.” It means a rule established on legitimate authority. In Masonry “regular” is applied to those rules which have been established by Grand Lodges and Grand Masters. A “regular Lodge” is one that conforms to Grand Lodge requirements; a “regular Mason” is the member of such a Lodge who conforms to its laws and by-laws.

Regular Lodge

One working under a charter or warrant from a legal authority.


One of the three principal tenets of a Freemason's profession, and thus defined in the lecture of the First Degree:  To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men, but particularly on Freemasons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection.  To sooth the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view.  On this basis we form our friendships and establish our connections. 

Renunciation of Masonry

For reasons which may or may not be justifiable a man may sever his connection with a Masonic Lodge; but it is utterly impossible for any Mason who has been honest and understanding in accepting the Rites of Freemasonry to repudiate his Masonic Obligations.  Nor can any man, in all good conscience with himself, toward man, and toward God, denounce his principles, tenets, symbolic instructions, inner workings, and uplifting benedictions of Freemasonry, once he has fully understood Freemasonry and fully assimilated its teachings.


This is the lowest type of punishment for an offender in a Masonic Lodge; it is a reproof, given privately or before the Lodge, for a breach of Masonic rules and regulations.  A private reprimand is usually given by letter from the Master.  This punishment can be inflicted only when charges have been made, and by a majority vote of the Lodge.  It does not affect the Masonic standing of the person reprimanded.  This form of punishment recommended; of great benefit when rightly administered and accepted

Resignation of Membership

The spirit of the Law of Freemasonry does not recognize the right of any member of a Lodge to resign his membership, unless it be for the purpose of uniting with another Lodge.  This mode of resignation is called a dimission.  (See Dimit)


In the liturgical services of the church an answer made by the people speaking alternately with the clergyman.  In the ceremonial observances of Freemasonry there are many responses, the Master and the Brethren taking alternate parts, especially in the funeral service as laid down first by Preston, and now very generally adopted.  In all Masonic prayers the proper response, never to be omitted, is, "So mote it be."


From the beginning, Freemasonry has been built on two cardinal beliefs: A belief in God, and a belief in a Resurrection to a future life. This later belief assumes faith in the immortality of man in his soul or spirit life, and recognizes the need of Redemption or Salvation from sin through Divine Grace. Throughout the rituals and symbolisms of Freemasonry, and in all of its mythical teachings and legends, belief in these truths is exemplified and demanded.


The art of embellishing language with the ornaments of construction, so as to enable the speaker to persuade or affect his hearers.  It supposes and requires a proper acquaintance with the rest of the liberal arts; for the first step toward adorning a discourse is for the speaker to become thoroughly acquainted with its subject, and hence the ancient rule that that the orator should be acquainted with all the arts and sciences.  Its importance as a branch of liberal education is recommended to  the Freemason in the Fellow Craft's Degree.  It is one of the seven liberal arts and sciences, the second in order, and is described in the ancient Constitutions as "retoricke that teacheth a man to speake faire and in subtill terms."

Reverence for God

The very nature of God, His attributes and qualities, His creation, preservation and sovereignty over man, His redemptive grace and love, even His name, demands of man a reverent attitude at all times. God, Himself, and His name which stands for his personality, supremacy, majesty and glory are always revered in the Lodge of Masons, and the same attitude toward God should characterize the personal life of every true Mason. Anything and everything that represents God to the mind of man should be held sacred.


This, one of the noblest words in the English language, is also one of the oldest, being found in the very ancient Sanskrit in the form raj meaning rule. It appeared in Latin as rectus, meaning direct, straight, a rule,— rule being used in the sense of our ruler, a device for drawing a line which is the shortest distance between two points. Such words as regent, rail, direct, rector, rectify, rule, came from this Latin term. Right means “straight,” as in a “right line,” a “right angle,” etc.; through a familiar metaphorical application it has come to stand for conduct in conformity with moral law. Our “rights” are those privileges which strict law allows to us. A “horizontal” is a right line on the level; a perpendicular” is a right line up and down, or at right angles to the horizontal. “Right” and “regular,” discussed just above, originally were close together in meaning.

Right Angle

A right angle is the meeting of two lines in an angle of ninety degrees, or the fourth part of a circle.  Each of its lines is perpendicular to the other; and as the perpendicular line is a symbol of uprightness of conduct, the right angle has been adopted by Freemasons as an emblem of virtue.  Such was its signification among the Pythagoreans.  The right angle is represented in the Lodges by the square, as the horizontal is by the level, and the perpendicular by the plumb.

Right Hand

The right hand has in all ages been deemed an important symbol to represent the virtue of fidelity.  Among the ancients, the right hand and fidelity to an obligation were almost deemed synonymous terms.  Thus, among the Romans, the expression fallere dextram, that is to betray the right hand, also signified to violate faith; and jungere dextras, meaning to join right hands, and thereby to give a mutual pledge.  Among the Hebrews, iamin, the right hand, was derived from aman, to be faithful.

Rising Sun

The rising sun is represented by the Worshipful Master, because as the sun by his rising opens and governs the day, so the Master is taught to open and govern his Lodge with equal regularity and precision.


The Latin word ritus, whence we get the English rite, signifies an approved usage or custom, or an external observance.  Vossius derives it by metathesis from the Greek, whence literally it signifies a trodden path, and, metaphorically, a long-followed custom.  As a Masonic term its application is therefore apparent.  It signifies a method of conferring Masonic light by a collection and distribution of degrees.  It is, in other words, the method and order observed in the government of a Masonic system.


A ritual is a system of rites. “Rite,” like “right,” is very old; it has been traced to the if Sanskrit riti, meaning usage, which in turn was derived from ri, meaning flow, suggesting the regular current of river. In Latin this became ritus meaning in general a custom, more particularly a religious custom, or usage. In taking over this word the church applied it to the acts in solemn religious services which had to be performed according to strict rules. In Masonry the ritual is the prescribed set of ceremonies used for the purpose of initiation. It should be noted that a set of ceremonies does not become a ritual until it has been prescribed by some official authority.

The mode of opening and closing a Lodge, of conferring the Degrees, of installation, and other duties, constitute a system of ceremonies which are called the Ritual.  Much of the Ritual is esoteric, and, not being permitted to be committed to writing, is communicated only by oral instruction.  In each Masonic Jurisdiction it is required, by the superintending authority, that the Ritual shall be the same; but it more or less differs in the different Rites and Jurisdictions.

Rough Ashlar

The unenlightened member; man in his natural state before being educated.

The entered apprentice has not perfected himself in Masonry is symbolized by the freestone in the quarries, that has not been smoothed by the Master Builder. 

Rubbish of the Temple

Hindrances in the erection of the Temple of Solomon caused by the scattered rubbish is a figure of worldly and material things of life which prevent proper moral, ethical and spiritual growth or the building of that spiritual structure of character and usefulness which is the supreme end of Freemasonry. These are to be removed with diligence and faithfulness.

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Sabbath Day

Freemasonry recognizes man's constitutional requirement for one day's rest from the ordinary secular toils of life, and accepts as part of its fundamental teachings of the Divine establishment of the Sabbath Day. By legendary instructions, through symbolisms, and by precept, the privilege and duty of Sabbath observations are inculcated. The Sabbath Day is honored as an allotted period for rest and Divine Worship.

In the lecture of the Second or Fellow Craft's Degree, it is said, In six days God created the heavens and the earth, and rested upon the seventh day; the seventh, therefore, our ancient Brethren consecrated as a day of rest from their labors, thereby enjoying frequent opportunities to contemplate the glorious works of creation, and to adore their great Creator. 

Sacred Law

The Sacred Law is a term applied to the Ten Commandments given by God to Israel and later written on two Tables of Stone for Moses.  According to a tradition of the Jewish Mishna, these commandments were explained to Aaron, then to Aaron and his two sons, then to Aaron, his sons, and the seventy elders, and then to all these and to the people.  Later Moses incorporated these Commandments in the sacred writings which he left as a permanent heritage to Israel and to the world.  The Sacred Law as given by God and as explained and handed down to Israel is accepted as binding upon all Freemasons.  It is repeated in the Fourteenth Degree A.A., Scottish Rite. 

Saint John the Baptist

One of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, and at one time, indeed, the only one, the name of Saint John the Evangelist having been introduced subsequent to the sixteenth century.  His festival occurs on the 24th of June, and is very generally celebrated by the Masonic Fraternity.  Dalcho (Ahiman Rezon, page 150) says that "the stern integrity of Saint John the Baptist, which induced him to to forego every minor consideration in discharging the obligations he owed to God; the unshaken firmness with which he met martyrdom rather than betray his duty to his Master; his steady reproval of vice, and continued preaching of repentance and virtue, make him a fit patron of the Masonic Institution."

Saint John the Evangelist

One of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, whose Festival is celebrated on the 27th of December.  His constant admonition, in his Epistles, to the cultivation of brotherly love, and the mystical nature of his Apocalyptic visions, have been, perhaps, the principal reasons for the veneration paid to him by the Craft.  


In the Helvetian or Swiss instructions, salt is added to corn, wine, and oil as one of the elements of consecration, because it is a symbol of the wisdom and learning which should characterize a Freemason's Lodge.  When the foundation-stone of a Lodge is laid, the Helvetian ceremonial directs that it shall be sprinkled with salt, and this formula be used:  "May this undertaking, contrived by wisdom, be executed in strength and adorned with beauty, so that it may be a house where peace, harmony, and brotherly love shall perpetually reign."  This is but carrying out the ancient instructions of Leviticus (ii, 13), "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt."  Significant as are the references in the Bible to salt, as the rubbing of salt on the new-born child (Ezekiel xvi, 4); the allusions in Mark (ix,49,50), "For every one shall be salted with fire and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.  Salt is good: but if salt has lost its saltness, wherewith will ye season it?  Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."  Jesus in Matthew (v,13) "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."  Salt to the ancient world was pronounced a substance dear to the gods (Plato, Timaeus) and to break bread and eat salt at a meal with others were symbols of plighted faith and loyalty.


Holy places dedicated to the services and worship of God are a necessity for man. They are to be revered even as the name of God and utilized by man for his spiritual culture and for communion with the Most High. Moses erected a Sanctuary under the directions of God, and Holy places for worship have been perpetuated ever since. In the Bible, this name is ascribed to the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.

Sanctum Sanctorum

The Latin phrase referring to the Holy of Holies or innermost chamber of King Solomon's Temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.

Latin for Holy of Holies.  Every student of Jewish antiquities knows, and every Freemason who has taken the Third Degree ought to know, what was the peculiar construction, character, and use of the Sanctum Santorum of Holy of Holies in King Solomon's Temple.  Situated in the western end of the Temple, separated from the rest of the building by a heavy curtain, and enclosed on three sides by dead walls without any aperture or window, it contained the Sacred Ark of the Covenant, and was secluded and set apart from all intrusion save of the High Priest, who only entered it on on certain solemn occasions.  As it was the most sacred of the three parts of the Temple, so has it been made symbolic of a Master's Lodge, in which are performed the most sacred rites of initiation in Ancient Craft Freemasonry.

Scripture Readings

It is not only required that the Bible on the altar in the Lodge be spread open as a necessary preparation for opening the Lodge and during its work, but that it be opened at certain passages during the several Degrees. For the First Degree, the assigned passage is Psalms 133; for the Second, Amos, chapter 7; in some jurisdictions, 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, and for the Third, Ecclesiastes, chapter 12.


Is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life, and launches us into eternity.  Behold! what havoc the scythe of time makes among the human race!  If by chance we should escape the numerous evils incident to childhood and youth, and with health and vigor arrive to the years of manhood; yet, withal, we must soon be cut down by the all-devouring scythe of time, and be gathered into the land where our fathers have gone before us.  In modern iconography Time is allegorized under the figure of an old man, with white hair and beard, two large wings on his back, an hourglass in one hand and a scythe in the other.  It is in this emblematic significance that the scythe appears in the Third Degree of Masonry.  Life is transitory and is certain to be cut down under divine decree


This, like our words “sign” and “insignia,” is derived from the Latin sigillum, diminutive of signum, meaning a mark, or sign. It is some kind of device affixed to a document in place of a signature or in close connection with a signature for the purpose of showing that the document is regular or official. A document bearing the seal of a Lodge shows that it is officially issued by the Lodge, and not by some irresponsible person or persons. The word is also used of the tool by means of which the device is stamped into wax, or whatever similar material may be used for the purpose.


From Se, apart, and cernere, separate, the Latins had secretum, suggesting something separated from other things, apart from common knowledge, hidden, covered, isolated, hence “secrecy.” There is a fundamental difference between “secret” and “hidden,” far whereas the latter may mean that nobody knows where a thing is, nothing can be secret e without at least one person knowing it. The secrets of Freemasonry are known to all Masons, therefore are not hidden; they are secrets only in the sense that they are not known to profanes. A similar word is “occult,” which means a thing naturally secret, one, as it were, that secretes itself, so that few can know about it. See also the paragraphs on “clandestine” and “mystery” in the preceding pages. There is also another less familiar word in Masonry meaning hidden, covered up, concealed, secret; it is pronounced “hail” but is spelled “hele.”


The present use of this word has departed widely from its original meaning. The Latin secretus meant secret, private; secretarium was a conclave, a caucus, a council behind closed doors, consequently a secretarius was some very confidential officer, and was used of a secretary in our sense, of a notary, a scribe, etc. Since the handling of correspondence and the keeping of records is usually a confidential service the man who does it has come to be called a secretary. The secretary of a Lodge cares for all its correspondence and its records.


Masonry's only secrets are in its methods of recognition and of symbolic instructions. Its principles and aims have never been secret.

Secret Societies

In its correct sense, a secret society is an association of men, or both men and women, in which certain methods of initiation, ideologies, doctrines, practices, means of recognition for one another, and purposes are made available only to those who pass through certain forms of initiation and make solemn pledges not to reveal anything whatever of the society to outsiders.  In a society of this kind complete secrecy of the object of the association, of the names of its membership, of the places and times of its meetings is maintained.  Such societies are usually treasonable, felonious, and criminal in character and objectives.  Freemasonry is not a secret society in this sense; it does not seek to conceal its existence and its objects.  The names of its members may be known to all who are interested; in fact, most Masons wear jewels of identification and are proud to be known as Masons.  Freemasonry may be regarded as a secret society only in respect to its ritual, some of its legends and symbols, its methods of inculcating its mythical philosophy and high moral, ethical, religious and spiritual truths, and certain signs of recognition.  Its design, its object, its tenets and the great truths which it teaches are as open as if its meetings were held on the highways instead of within the well-guarded portals of a Lodge.


One of the five human senses, whose importance is treated of in the Fellow Craft's Degree.  By sight, things at a distance are, as it were, brought near, and obstacles of faith overcome.  So in Freemasonry, by a judicious use of this sense, in modes which none but Freemasons comprehend, men distant from each other in language, in religion, and in politics, are brought near, and the impediments of birth and prejudice are overthrown.  But, in the natural world, sight cannot be exercised without the necessary assistance of light, for in darkness we are unable to see.  So in Freemasonry, the peculiar advantages of Masonic sight require, for their enjoyment, the blessings of Masonic light.  Illuminated by its divine rays, the Freemason sees where others are blind; and that which to the profane is but the darkness of ignorance, is to the initiated filled with the light of knowledge and understanding.


He who is desirous of finding wisdom, must diligently seek for it; and if he would know the real design of Masonry, he must study, and observe, and meditate, on what he hears in the Lodge, otherwise the bondage of ignorance will never be removed.

Self Support

The duty of supporting one's self and his family by individual initiative and personal labor is a universal tenet of Freemasonry.

Senior Deacon

The Senior Deacon is the especial attendant of the Worshipful Master.  Seated at his right hand, he is ready at all times to carry messages and to convey orders from him to the Senior Warden, and elsewhere about the Lodge as he may direct.  He conducts candidates during the degrees and brethren west of the altar under the direction of the Worshipful Master.

Senior Warden

As the sun is in the west at the close of day, so is the Senior Warden in the west, to assist the Worshipful Master in opening and governing the Lodge, to pay the Craft their wages, if any be due, letting none go away dissatisfied.   The duties of the Senior Warden are, in the absence of the Master, to preside, and govern the Lodge; in his presence, to assist him in the government of it.  In assisting the Master in the government of the Lodge; it is the duty of both officers to see that due silence is observed around their respective stations, and that the orders issued from the east are strictly obeyed.  But most of their duties in their peculiar positions are of a ritualistic nature, and are unnecessarily or improper to be discussed in this glossary.  In the absence of the Master, the Senior Warden governs the Lodge.  This is his inherent right.  He may, and often does, as a matter of courtesy, resign the chair to some Past Master present, but such Past Master always acts under the authority of the Warden, who has first to congregate the Lodge, that is, to call the brethren to labor, before he resigns the gavel of his authority into the hands of the Past Master.


Man is brought into communication with the external world by means of five senses, or organs of perception.  Seeing, hearing, and feeling are often referred to in Masonic instruction.  They are explained in the degree of Fellow Craft.

Setting Maul

The "Setting Maul", in operative Masonry is used for setting stones, that is, tapping them to a firm seat in the mortar by urging them sideways into place.  It is in Speculative Freemasonry a symbol, in the Third Degree, reminding us of the death of the builder of the Temple, which is said to be effected by this instrument.  It is considered by some to be a symbol of untimely death.  In some Lodges it is improperly used by the Master as his gavel, from which it totally differs in form and symbolic signification.  The gavel is a symbol of order and decorum; the setting maul, of death by violence.

Setting Sun

It is the duty of the Senior Warden to pay and dismiss the Craft at the close of day, when the sun sinks in the west; so now the Senior Warden is said in the Lodge to represent the setting sun.


In every religious system of antiquity, particularly in the mysteries of the ancients, the number seven holds a place of veneration.  This was true in a special way in the Jewish ritual, and held true in a large measure in Christianity.  In its etymological derivation the Hebrew term for "seven" presents the idea of sufficiency or fullness; the word therefore signifies perfection.  Seven is also a sacred number in Masonic symbolism, and occurs frequently in ritual and in other phases throughout all the degrees.

Seven Six-Pointed Stars

The constellation of "Seven Six-pointed Stars" in Masonry represents the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences:  They are Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.  The Six-pointed Star symbolizes Divine Providence and is the Star of David or Shield of David.  This starry-decked heaven is where all good Masons hope at last to arrive by aid of that "Theological Ladder" which Jacob in his vision saw extending from Earth to Heaven, the principal rounds of which are denominated Faith, Hope and Charity, which admonish us to have Faith in God, Hope in Immortality, and Charity toward all Mankind. 

Seven Stars

In the Tracing-Board of the Seventeenth Degree, or Knight of the East and West, there is the representation of a man clothed in a white robe, with a golden girdle about his waist, and around his extended right hand are seven stars.  This is an apocalyptic degree, and seven stars representing the perfect number symbolize the true messengers of the Christ.  "And he had in his right hand seven stars".


An ear of corn; a test word; a watchword; slogan. 

This word signifies a stream of water, or a full ear of corn, based on the idea of plenty in harvest because of abundance of water. 

The Gileadites under Jepthah, who had just won a great victory over revolutionary Ephraimites, adopted this word as a test of soldiers fleeing across the Jordan because of the inability of the Ephraimites to pronounce the word.  In their native voice they were incapable of the aspiration sh, and so it is said they "could not frame to pronounce it right."  Because of their Ephraimite dialect, they pronounced it Sibboleth.


Among the ancient Israelites, the shoe was made use of in several significant ways. To put off the shoes, imported reverence, and was done in the presence of God, or on entering the dwelling of a superior.   To unloose one's shoe and give it to another was a way of confirming a contract.  Thus we read in the book of Ruth, that Boaz having proposed to the nearest kinsman of Ruth to exercise his legal right by redeeming the land of Naomi, which was offered for sale, and marrying her daughter-in-law, the kinsman, being able to do so, resigned his right of purchase to Boaz; and the narrative goes on to say (Ruth iv, 7 and 8), "Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor; and this was a testimony in Israel.  Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee.  So he drew off his shoe."  The reference to the shoe in the First Degree is therefore really as a symbol of a Covenant to be entered into.   In the Third Degree the symbolism is altogether different.  This this degree the ceremony of taking off the shoes, as a token of respect, whenever we are on or about to approach holy ground.  It is referred to in Exodus (iii, 5), where the angel of the Lord, at the burning bush, exclaims to Moses:  "Draw not nigh hither; put off they shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."  The Rite, in fact, always was, and still is, used among the Jews and other Islamic and Oriental nations when entering their Temples, Mosques and other sacred edifices.  It does not seem to have been derived from the command given to Moses; but rather to have existed as a religious custom from time immemorial, and to have been borrowed by the Gentiles, through tradition, from the patriarchs.  The direction of Pythagoras to his disciples was, "Offer sacrifice and worship with thy shoes off." 


This comes from the Latin signum, a word which appears in a dozen or more English words, as signature, signet, signify, consign, countersign, resign, etc. Where a seal is used principally on documents and for the purpose of showing them to be official, sign is used much more variously and widely; it is some kind of gesture, device, mark, or design which indicates something, or points to something, and which often has a meaning known only to the initiated. Masonic signs are gestures that convey a meaning which only Masons understand, and which most frequently are used for purposes of recognition.

Sign of Distress

This is probably one of the original modes of recognition adopted at the revival period, if not before.  It is to be found in the earliest ceremonies extant of the eighteenth century, and its connection with the Third Degree makes it evident that it probably belongs to that Degree.  To Freemasons of the Nineteenth Century, it is called the Grand Hailing Sign, to indicate its use in hailing or calling a Brother whose assistance may be needed.  

Signs, Masonic

Modes of recognition often serving as a reminder of some event or pledge.

Silver Cord

"Or ever the silver cord be loosed" is a figurative expression in the beautiful passage descriptive of the debilitations of old age or approaching death. It is thought to refer to the weakening of the spinal cord which results in the loosening of the nervous system.

In the beautiful and effecting description of the body of man suffering under the infirmities of old age we find this expression, and it is defined as the spinal marrow, its loosening causes a stopping of all the nervous system and brings on the approach of old age and death.  This is a part of the Scripture reading of the third degree and forms an appropriate introduction to those sublime ceremonies, whose object is to teach symbolically the resurrection and life eternal.

Skull and Cross-Bones

They are a symbol of mortality and death, and are so used by heralds in funeral achievements.  As the means of inciting the mind to the contemplation of the most solemn subjects, the Skull and Cross-Bones are used in the Chamber of Reflection in the French and Scottish Rites, and in all those Degrees where the Chamber constitutes a part of the preliminary ceremonies of initiation. 

Slander - malicious talk

It is declared by the tenets of Freemasonry that "To defame our brother, or suffer him to be defamed without interesting ourselves for the preservation of his name and character, there is not the shadow of excuse to be formed.  Defamation is always wicked.  Slander and evil speaking are the pests of civil society, are a disgrace of every degree of religious profession, and are the poisonous bane of all brotherly love."


Is that sense by which we distinguish odors, the various kinds of which convey different impressions to the mind.  Animal and vegetable bodies, and indeed most other bodies, while exposed to the air, continually send forth effluvia of vast subtility, as well in a state of life and growth, as in the state of fermentation and putrefaction.  These effluvia, being drawn into the nostrils along with the air, are the means by which all bodies are distinguished.  Hence it is evident, that there is a manifest appearance of design in the great Creator's having planted the organ of smell in the inside of that canal, through which the air continually passes in respiration.

Social Character of Freemasonry

Freemasonry attracts our attention as a great social institution.  Laying aside for the time those artificial distinctions of rank and wealth, which, however, are necessary in the world to the regular progression of society, its members meet in their Lodges on one common level of brotherhood and equality.  There virtue and talent alone claim and receive pre-eminence, and the great object of all is to see who can best work and best agree.  There friendship and fraternal affection are strenuously inculcated and assiduously cultivated, and that great mystic tie is established which peculiarly distinguishes the society.  Hence is it that Washington has declared that the benevolent purpose of the Masonic Institution is to enlarge the sphere of social happiness, and its grand object to promote the happiness of the human race.

Solomon - peaceable

Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba, and David's successor on the throne of Israel. Though not the oldest of David's sons, he was chosen by his father to be his successor and was crowned king prior to David's death, when only about twenty-one years of age. He was solemnly charged by his father to build the Temple for which large funds had already been gathered. Solomon prayed especially for wisdom which was given to him by God above the measure of any other man in history. The league made with Hiram, King of Tyre, by his father was perpetuated, and by his assistance the Temple was carried to completion within seven and one-half years, beginning the fourth year of his reign.

Freemasonry recognizes the high position held by Solomon in authentic history, and in tradition has preserved many significant Solomonic traditions and legends, often mythical, but always highly valuable in Masonic symbolism.  It is upon the well-known historical data concerning the notable career and superlative wisdom of Solomon, and particularly upon his outstanding work in the construction of the Temple, that Masonry recognizes him as a master-mind and a hero worthy of the highest commemorations.  Many of the well-known deeds of Solomon are celebrated in the most beautiful and significant rituals and ceremonies; but even more meaningful are ritualistic and symbolic rites founded upon Masonic traditions and legends known only to those who enjoy the privileges of membership in the Order.  Particular recognition of his decline in morals and spirituality, of his apostasy into idolatry, and of his grievous errors is given in some of the degrees, but not without full recognition of his repentance and restoration to the favor of God as set forth in the Book of Ecclesiastes.


The point in the ecliptic at which the sun is farthest from the equator (north in summer, south in winter).

Sons of Light

During the building of King Solomon's Temple the Masons were so called.

The science of Freemasonry often has received the title of Lux, or Light, to indicate that mental and moral illumination is the object of the Institution.  Hence Freemasons are often called Sons of Light.


When the sun is at its meridian height, his invigorating rays are darted from the south.  When the sun rises in the East, we are called to Labor; when he sets in the West, our daily toil is over; but when he reaches the South, the hour is high twelve, and we are summoned to refreshment.  In Freemasonry, the South is represented by the Junior Warden and by the Corinthian column, because it is said to be the place of beauty.


The Latin specere meant to see, to look about; specula was a watchtower, so called because from it one could look about over a wide territory. It came to be used metaphorically of the mental habit of noting all the aspects of a subject; also, as applied to theoretical knowledge as opposed to practical skill. “Speculative Masonry” was knowledge of the science, or theory, of building; “Operative Masonry,” trained skill in putting that knowledge into practice. ‘When Operative Masonry was dropped out of the Craft in the eighteenth century, only the speculative elements remained and these became the basis of our present Fraternity. It is for this reason that we continue to describe it as Speculative Masonry. The word has nothing to do with philosophical speculation, or with theorizing merely for its own sake.

Speculative Masonry

Freemasonry in its modern acceptance; the application of the implements of Operative masonry to a system of ethics.

Spiritual Temple

Freemasonry draws many sublime lessons and deduces many worth truths from the symbolisms of the building of King Solomon's Temple, as well as from operative Masonry and architecture respecting the more important superstructure of moral, ethical and spiritual components knows as the Spiritual Temple. The building of this Temple is in vain without Divine aid. It fact, it must be build of God as the Chief Architect, and all the material that goes into it must pass His inspection and approval.

Sprig of Acacia

Symbolizes the immortality of the soul.


As noted in the paragraph on “quarry” the Latin quad ratum was a square. Quatuor meant “four;” from it we have square, four, quad, quadrangle, squadron, etc. In geometry I a square is a four-sided straight-lined figure having all its sides equal and all its angles right angles; and since early carpenters and Masons had to use an instrument for proving the angles to be right, they fell into the habit of calling that instrument a square.

In Masonry the square is used in at least three distinct senses; as a sharp instrument, as a working tool, and as a symbol, the last named when used with the compasses on the Holy Bible. As a symbol it refers to the earth, for so long a time supposed to be square in shape; as a working tool, it refers to all those forces by means of which one prepares himself to fit into his own proper place in the Brotherhood, like a Perfect Ashlar in a wall.

St. John the Baptist

Masons honor St. John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah and Saviour. The names of the Holy St. John the Baptist and the Holy St. John the Evangelist are reverently associate in significant rituals of the Masonic Fraternity.

St. John the Evangelist

As a disciple of St. John the Baptist, John, a son of Zebedee and brother of James, was among the earliest to follow Jesus and to enter into full Christian discipleship. He was numbered among the Apostles and was designated as the "disciple whom Jesus loved." He was author of five of our New Testament books: the Gospel bearing his name; three Epistles; and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In Masonic history and in rituals, St. John the Evangelist is highly honored and his memory beautifully commemorated.

Stand To and Abide By

This is a unique pledge of every mason and means that he convenants himself to stand by and obey every regulation of the Order, that he will be governed at all times by its laws and rules, and that the landmarks of the Fraternity will be followed faithfully in every detail.

Stations and Places

Officers are elected to stations and appointed to places.

The positions occupied by the subordinate officers of a Lodge are called Places, as "the Junior Deacon's place in the Lodge."  But the positions occupied by the Master and Wardens are called Stations, as "the Senior Warden's station in the Lodge."  This is because these three officers, representing the sun in his three prominent points of rising, culminating, and setting, are supposed to be stationary, and therefore remain in the spot appropriated to them by the instructions, while the Deacons and other officers are required to move about from place to place in the Lodge.


This came into general use through the church, in which it was adopted as the name for an important official and also for an important theological doctrine; the doctrine of stewardship. The word itself had a peculiar origin. In Anglo Saxon stigo was a sty or place in which domestic animals were kept; I weard (see “warden” on following page) was a guard, or keeper; therefore the steward was the keeper of the cattle pens. Its meaning became enlarged to include the duties of general overseer, one who is in charge of a household or estate for another; and still more generally, one who provides for the needs for food, money, and supplies. In the history of Masonry the office of steward has performed a variety of functions; the caring of funds, distribution of charity, preparing for banquets and similar services.

The Stewards are two in number, and are appointed by the Junior Warden.  They sit on the right and left of that officer, each one having a rod, as the insignia of his office, and wearing the cornucopia as a jewel.  Preston says that their duties are "to introduce visitors, and see that they are properly accommodated; to collect subscriptions and other fees, and to keep an exact account of the Lodge expenses."  Webb adds to these the further duties of seeing "that the tables are properly furnished at refreshment, and that every brother is suitably provided for," and he makes them the assistants generally of the Deacons and other officers in performing their respective duties.  There can be no doubt, from the nature of the office in other institutions, that the duty of the Stewards was originally to arrange and direct the refreshments of the Lodge, and to provide accommodations for the brethren on such occasions.  When the office was first established, refreshments constituted an important and necessary part of the proceedings of the Lodge.  Although not yet abolished, the Lodge banquets are now fewer, and occur at greater intervals, and the services of the Stewards are therefore now less necessary, so far as respects their original duties as servitors at the table.  Hence new duties are beginning to be imposed upon them, and they are, in many jurisdictions, considered as the proper officers to examine visitors and to prepare candidates for reception into the various degrees. 


The Masonic symbolism of the stone is very much the same as it was in Hebrew literature and mysteries -- the symbolism of faith and truth.  More broadly, the rough or unhewn stone is emblematic of man's evil and corrupt nature, while the hewn stone, or perfect stone, is emblematic of man in his improved and perfected nature.  "A rock" figurative of basic truth.

Stone of Foundation

The Stone of Foundation constitutes one of the most important and abstruse of all the symbols of Freemasonry.  It is referred to in numerous legends and traditions of Freemasonry; also it holds an important place in Jewish Talmudic writings.  In Masonry it is a symbol of the higher degrees, making its first appearance in Royal Arch Masonry.  It is, however, intimately connected with the construction of the Solomonic Temple, in its legendry history, and hence of importance in the first three Degrees.  Care must be taken to distinguish the Stone of Foundation from other stones which play important parts in the Masonic Ritual, such as the Corner-stone, the keystone, and the cape-stone.  These are treated under their proper headings.  It must be kept in mind also that this Stone of Foundation in Masonry is to be taken strictly in a mythical and allegorical sense, and not as historical record.  According to Masonic legend, the Stone of Foundation was placed at one time within the foundation of the Temple of Solomon, and afterward, during the building of the Second Temple, transported to the Holy of Holies.  It was in form a perfect cube, and had inscribed upon its upper face, within a triangle, the Ineffable Name of God.  Masonic tradition further has it that this "Stone of Foundation," on which the sacred name was mystically engraved, was placed by Solomon, with solemn rites, in the sacred depository of Dan and Asher on Mt. Moriah, at the center of the Most Holy Place, where the Ark was overshadowed by the shekinah of God.  Talmudic writers say that this stone was called the Stone of Foundation because it had been laid by Jehovah as the foundation of the world.  It is upon the allegorical sentiments and symbolic meanings of these legends that Masonry uses the Stone of Foundation.  There are various legends as to the origin of the Stone of Foundation, one claiming that it was possessed by Adam, handed down to Seth, and on through the Sethite line to Noah, and that Noah left it on Mt. Ararat where it was later discovered by Abraham.  After Abraham, it was in possession of Jacob and with a break, it is next in the hands of Moses when he led Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, and ultimately in the possession of Solomon.  It was used by Adam as an altar; formed a pillar upon which Jacob rested at Bethel; and held sacred by all others through whose hands it passed.  The legend which claims that Enoch made a triangular plate of gold, triangular in form and with the Ineffable Name engraved, which was placed upon a stone in cubic form and placed in an underground temple on Mt. Moriah is popular.  According to this legend, this Stone of Foundation was discovered by Solomon in the excavations on Mt. Moriah for the building of the Temple.  This Stone of Foundation, after having been placed in the Temple, as already explained, was later removed by Solomon and placed in a secret and safer place, from which it was recovered and placed in the Second Temple.  For the Mason who has advanced through the Royal Arch Degree, and on into higher degrees, these legends and the symbolic deductions are of great moment.  The Foundation Stone of the earth, called "corner-stone," laid by God.

Stone That The Builder Rejected

It was neither oblong or square, and has reference to the "keystone" or copestone.  According to Masonic legends, the builders of the Temple of Solomon became bewildered when they received this particular stone, and as it was neither oblong or square as they were used to receiving subsequently threw it aside.  They later found that this stone was very necessary and important, and that it was to become the head of the corner.  The Bible make this "rejected stone" a type of the Christ, who is indeed the "chief stone" in the building of Christian character and of the Kingdom of God.


This is said to be one of the three principal supports of a Lodge, as a representative of the whole Institution, because it is necessary that there should be Strength to support and maintain every great and important undertaking, not less than there should be Wisdom to contrive it, and Beauty to adorn it.  Hence, strength is symbolized in Masonry by the Doric column, because, of all the orders of architecture, it is the most massive, by the Senior Warden, because it is his duty to strengthen and support the authority of the Master; and by Hiram of Tyre, because of the material assistance that he gave in men and materials for the construction of the Temple.


Sublimis, in Latin, referred to something high, lofty, exalted, like a city set on top of a hill, or an eagle’s nest atop some lonely crag. It refers to that which is eminent, of superlative degree, moral grandeur, spiritual exaltation. Inasmuch as the Third Degree is at the top of the system of Ancient Craft Masonry, it is known as “The Sublime Degree.


Like the word monitor, explained some pages back, summons is derived from the Latin term of which the verb was monere, meaning to warn, or to remind, as in “admonish ;“ the “sum” is the combining form of sub, under, or privy to, in the secret of, as in the old phrase “sub rosa.” A summons is an official call sent out by persons in authority to some person acknowledging that authority to appear at some place, or to perform some duty; in other words a person who is “on the inside,” who is a member, is admonished by his superiors, and must obey under penalty. The duty involved and the penalty attached distinguishes a summons from a mere invitation. A Lodge, Grand Lodge, or some official issues a summons; a fellow Mason not in official position makes a sign; a Mason is under obligation to respond to either, if it be due, official, or regular.

A notification from the Master to appear. For its neglect, because it comes directly under the province of his obligation, a member may be disciplined and/or punished.


Temporary privation of power or rights, such as suspension for nonpayment of dues. One of the Masonic penalties.


The "Sun" as the source of material light reminds the Mason of that intellectual light of which he is in constant search.  The Worshipful Master who rules and governs his Lodge is said to be the symbol of the rising sun in the east.  The sun, therefore is the symbol of sovereignty, the hieroglyphic of royalty; and signifies absolute authority.  As the sun rules the day, so does the moon govern the night; as the sun regulates our years, so does the moon mark the passing months.  These symbols in Masonry are known as the "Lesser Lights".


The sword is in chivalry the ensign or symbol of knighthood, especially in defense of the cause of the Christ. The sword is said to be endowed with the qualities of justice, fortitude, and mercy.  Hence the Knight is charged that he should never draw his sword unless convinced of the justice of the cause in which he is engaged, not to sheathe it until his enemies are subdued.  In Freemasonry, the use of the sword as a part of the Masonic clothing is confined to the advanced degrees and the Degrees of Chivalry, when, of course it is worn as a part of the insignia of knighthood.  In the Symbolic Degrees its appearance in the Lodge, except as a symbol is strictly prohibited.  The Masonic prints engraved in the eighteenth century, when the sword, at least as late as 1780, constituted a part of the dress of every gentleman, show that it was discarded by the members when they entered the Lodge.   The official swords of the Tiler and the Pursuivant or Sword-Bearer are the only exceptions. 

Sword pointing to the Naked Heart

Signifies that justice is one of the most rigorous laws and if we are unjust in our hearts, the center of our being, the inevitable result of injustice will find us out.


It is interesting to compare this word with “emblem” with which it is so often confused. The Greek symbolon was a mark, or sign, or token, or tally; it is derived from sun, together, and ballein, put, or throw, from which we have ball, ballistics, etc. Symbolon indicated two things put together, thrown together, or matched together. If, for example, the numeral 9 is matched to a pile of marbles, one to one, the 9 is a symbol of the number of marbles. From this came the custom of calling a symbol some object, device, design, picture, etc., used not for its own sake, but for the purpose of referring to some other, and perhaps very different, thing with which it has been associated. It is any visible, audible, or tangible object used to typify some idea, or truth, or quality, as when a wedding ring is made the symbol of marriage, the square is made the symbol of the earth, or the cross is made the symbol of Christianity, the crescent of Mohammedanism, etc.

Signifies or represents some truth, idea or fact, but is not itself the thing it represents.

Symbol of Glory

The Blazing Star in the old lectures. The star in the center represented Deity, hence, the "Symbol of Glory."

Symbolic Degrees

The first three degrees of Freemasonry, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow-Craft, and Master Mason, are known, by way of distinction, as the "symbolic degrees."  This term is never applied to the degrees of Mark, Past, and Most Excellent Master, and the Royal Arch, which, as being conferred in a body called a Chapter, are generally designated as "capitular degrees"; nor to those of Royal and Select Master, which conferred in a Council, are, by an excellent modern usage, styled, "cryptic degrees," from the crypt or vault which plays so important a part in their ritual.

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This was a moveable structure build under the directions of Moses at Mount Sinai according to the pattern given to him by God in a special revelation. In its truest sense, the Tabernacle was a representation of the presence of God in the midst of Israel, and the central place for worship. This is the model Solomon used to build his Temple.

Table of Shewbread

This article of furniture in the Tabernacle was a table made of acacia wood and of the ordinary make-up with legs. It was furnished with dishes, bowls, spoons and covers, all made of pure gold. Upon this table was placed twelve cakes of bread made of fine flour, in two rows of six cakes, called shewbread (also referred to shewbread). These cakes or loaves were removed every Sabbath and fresh bread supplied in their place. Only the priests were allowed to eat this removed bread. In King Solomon's Temple, instead of just one table, ten were used. They were patterned after the table of the Tabernacle, except they were made of pure gold and were much larger.


The "Tassel" consists of a cord with tassels on the end.  It represents the "Mystic Tie"; that bond which unites men of diverse opinions into one sacred band of Friends and Brothers. 

Tasting and Smelling

Of the five senses, hearing, seeing and feeling are only deemed essential to Freemasons.  Tasting and Smelling are therefore not referred to in the instructions, except as making up the sacred number five.  Preston says:  "Smelling and Tasting are inseparably connected; and it is by the unnatural kind of life which men commonly lead in society that these senses are less fit to perform their natural duties."


One of the four cardinal virtues, the practice of which is inculcated in the First Degree.  The Mason who properly appreciates the secrets which he has solemnly promised never to reveal, will not, by yielding to the unrestrained call of appetite, permit reason and judgment to lose their seats, and subject himself, by the indulgence in habits of excess, to discover that which should be concealed, and thus merit and receive the scorn and detestation of his brethren.  And lest any brother should forget the danger to which he is exposed in the unguarded hours of dissipation, the virtue of temperance is wisely impressed upon his memory, by its reference to one of the most solemn portions of the ceremony of initiation.


The Greeks had temenos, a sacred enclosure, a plot of ground marked off to be a holy place; the Latins had templum, a consecreated place. A temple is a building set apart because it is holy, dedicated to religious uses. It has its place in Masonry largely because of the prominence of Solomon’s Temple in the Ritual. It is interesting to note that in Masonic nomenclature the ideal life, here and hereafter, is described metaphorically as a temple, one of a thousand examples of the extent to which Freemasonry is saturated with religious language and emotions.

King Solomon's Temple holds a place of universal and pre-eminent interest due, in great measure, to Freemasonry which has kept alive through the centuries many fascinating legends and romances, innumerable symbols and rituals, a goodly number of rites and ceremonies associated with the building of the Temple and with its history. Refer to the section in this web site entitled, King Solomon's Temple for additional information concerning the Temple.

Temple Builder

The legend of the Temple builder which forms a significant feature of the Third Degree in Freemasonry and the basis of profound lectures has been an essential part of Masonic ritual and Degree work throughout the history of the Order. Its authenticity cannot be questioned nor can its importance in the rites of Freemasonry be overestimated.

Temple of Solomon

The first Temple of the Jews was called hecal Jehovah or beth Jehovah, the palace or house of Jehovah, to indicate is splendor and magnificence, and that it was intended to be the perpetual dwelling place of the Lord.  It was King David who first proposed to substitute for the nomadic tabernacle a permanent place of worship for his people; but although he had made the necessary arrangements, and even collected many of the materials, he was not permitted to commence the undertaking, and the execution of the task was left to his son and successor, Solomon. 

Temple of the Body

The symbolism of Solomon's Temple in the science of speculative Masonry, and the several rites of the Order based upon operative Masonry in the construction of the Temple, are intended to convey and inculcate great moral, ethical and spiritual truths. Among these truths is the teaching that man's body is to be made a fit Temple for the indwelling of God, and than many of the symbolisms in the building of King Solomon's Temple find their realities in human life and experience.

Ten Commandments

Masons recognize and honor the Decalogue incorporated in the laws of Moses as being of Divine origin and accept them as the moral code by which all human relations with God and with mankind should be regulated.

Tenets of Freemasonry

Dogmas; principles, beliefs, doctrines; teachings of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. A Tenet is something obviously true; that which is universally accepted without question.


Belonging to the earth.

Tessellated Border

From the Latin word tessella, a little squared stone.  Applied in Freemasonry to the Mosaic pavement of the Temple, and to the border surrounding the Tracing-Board, probably incorrectly in the latter case.  Browne says in his Master Key, which is supposed to present the general form of the Prestonian lectures, that the ornaments of a Lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the Blazing Star, and the Tessellated Border; and he has defined the Tessellated Border to be "the skirt-work round the Lodge."  

Tessellated Pavement

Checkered floor of black and white, symbolic of the triumphs and the despairs throughout life.


In ancient Israel and other societies, the putting off of the shoes was a testimony of reverence for God or for an earthly superior, and as a token of confirmation in making contracts with fellowmen. The practice in certain rituals of Masonry may be traced back to this ancient custom.


A Greek word signifying "four letters.' It is a name given by the Talmudists when referring to God or Jehovah.


A sacred number in Freemasonry, with which all labor is commenced and finished.  This number reminds us of the three great lights, the three kingdoms of nature, the Holy Trinity, or the words of Christ:  "Where two or three are assembled in my name, there will I be in the midst of you."  The Christian can also take the number three as the grand distinguishing doctrine of his faith.  There are three principal parts in a man: body, soul, and spirit.  Faith, love, and hope support and adorn life.

Three Burning Tapers

The "Three Burning Tapers" symbolically represent the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master and are placed in a triangular position about the Altar and are thus explained:  As the Sun rules the day, so does the Moon govern the night, and so should the Worshipful Master, with equal regularity, endeavor to rule and govern the Lodge.

Three Great Lights

The "Three Great Lights" in Masonry are the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses.  The Holy Bible is dedicated to the service of God because it is the inestimable gift of God to man, and on it we obligate our Brethren.  The "Square" to the Worshipful Master because it is the proper Masonic emblem of his office, and the "Compasses" to the Craft because by a due attention to their use we are taught to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind, especially a Brother Mason.

Three Tenet of Freemasonry

Of the three tenets of a Freemason's profession, which are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, it may be said that Truth is the Column of Wisdom, whose rays penetrate and enlighten the inmost recesses of our Lodge; Brotherly Love, the Column of Strength, which binds us as one family in the indissoluble bond of fraternal affection; and Relief, the Column of Beauty, whose ornaments, more precious than the lilies and pomegranates that adorned the pillars of the porch, are the widow's tear of joy and the orphan's prayer of gratitude.


Also spelled “tyler.” In the Latin tegere (from which came “thatch”) meant cover, roof; tegulae were the tiles, pieces, slabs, used for roof-coverings. A tiler, therefore, is one who makes, or fastens on, tiles. Since in Operative Masonry the tiler was the workman who closed the building in, and hid its interior from outside view, the guardian of the entrance to the Lodge was figuratively called by this name. It was once supposed that “tiler” came from the French tailleur, a cutter, a hewer (from whence we have “tailor”), and it was accordingly spelled “tyler;” that, however, is incorrect, “tiler” being the correct spelling.

In operative Masonry, the workman known as the Tiler placed over the finished edifice a roof of tiles, and thus provided protection for the building. The symbolism of his work is invested in the office of Tiler (spelled Tyler in some jurisdictions) in speculative Masonry. His duty is to provide protection for the Lodge when it is organized and ready for business, closing the doors, keeping away eavesdroppers and intruders, and guarding the sacred precincts from intrusions of any kind.

"To that undiscovered country from whose bourne no travelers returns"

Comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet (Act III, Scene 1).


This is from the Greek deigma.. meaning example, or proof—the origin of the word “teach,” and in its orginal sense had much the same meaning as sign and symbol, for it was an object used as the sign of something else. It is generally used, however, in the sense of a pledge or of an object that proves something. In our usage a token is something that exhibits, or shows, or proves that we are Masons—the grip of recognition, for example.

Token, Masonic

A sign used for recognition to prove that a man is a Mason.


The grand characteristic of Masonry is its toleration in religion and politics.  In respect to the latter, its toleration has no limit.  The question of a man's political opinions is not permitted to be broached in the Lodge; in reference to the former, it requires only that, to use the language of the Old Charge, Masons shall be of "that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves." (Constitutions, 1723, p. 50)  The same Old Charges say, "No private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the Lodge, far less any quarrels about religion, or nations, or state policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Universal religion above-mentioned; we are also of all nations, tongues, kindreds, and languages, and are resolved against all politics, as what never yet conducted to the welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will."

Tongue of Good Report

Being "under the tongue of good report" is equivalent, in Masonic technical language, to being of good character or reputation.  It is required that the candidate for initiation should be one of whom no tongue speaks evil.  The phrase is an old one, and is found in the earliest rituals of the eighteenth century.

Tracing Board

Or emblematic chart. Emblems used to illustrate the lectures.


In Masonry, there are two kinds of tradition; First, those which relate to events, either historical and authenticated, or legendary; both of which are employed almost entirely for allegorical or symbolical teachings.  Second, those which refer to customs and usages of the Fraternity, especially in matters of ritual observances.  These traditions constitute the unwritten law of Masonry; they have been handed down by oral preservation; they are confined almost entirely to the Ritual of the Institution, although they are sometimes of value in interpreting doubtful points in written laws and regulations.  They must be preserved and passed on in Ancient and Accepted form; they are not to be altered or modified.  Emblematically and symbolically, they represent much that is most basic and vital in Masonry.


According to a belief handed down from generation to generation, but not supported by any sure or exact evidence. A tradition need have nothing of the miraculous in it.

Tramping Masons

This is an opprobrious title given to men using their Masonic membership for mercenary purposes, traveling from city to city and from Lodge to Lodge seeking aid by tales of fictitious misfortune or distress.  Such unworthy men should be turned away from every Lodge, and denied by every Mason.  Transient Masons whose vocations force them from place to place and who are worthy, tested, tried and true should be given the fellowship and companionship of Lodges wherever they may be.


The passing over from one stage to another.


In the symbolic language of Freemasonry, a Freemason always travels from West to East in search of light--he travels from the lofty tower of Babel, where language was confounded and Freemasonry lost, to the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where language was restored and Freemasonry found.  The Master Mason also travels into foreign countries in search of wages.  All this is pure symbolism, unintelligible, in any other sense.

Traveling from West to East

In Operative Masonry workmen traveled from one job to another and the word "traveling" came to signify a form of work. Hence, a Mason works his way toward the East (place of light) by improving himself as he progresses through life.


Although this officer takes no part in the ritual or ceremonial labors of the Lodge, yet the due administration of his duties is closely connected with its welfare.  He is the financial officer or banker of the Lodge; and to prevent the possibility of any collusion between himself and the presiding officer, while they give the appointment of all other officers to the Master, have prudently provided that the Treasurer shall be elected by the Lodge.  His duties are threefold:  He is to receive all moneys due the Lodge from the Secretary.  He is to make due entries of the same and he is to pay them out at the order of the Master, and with the consent of the Lodge.  As the banker simply of the Lodge, he has nothing to do with the collections which should be made to the Secretary, and handed over to him.  These funds he retains in his hands, and disburses them by the order of the Lodge, which must be certified to him by the Master.  His accounts, so far as the receipts of the money are concerned, are only with the Secretary.  Of his disbursements, of course, he keeps a special account.  His accounts should be neatly and accurately kept, and be always ready for the inspection of the Lodge or of the Master.  For all the funds he receives from the Secretary he should give a receipt to that officer, and should take receipts from all persons to whom he pays money.  The emblem of his office are crossed keys.

Three Chambers

The upper, middle and lower chambers of King Solomon's Temple were rooms adjoining the main building fitted for quiet communication with God, as places for the preparation of priests and for storage of Temple vessels and instruments.   Emblematical of youth, manhood, and age.

Trestle Board / Tracing Board

The Trestle-Board is defined to be the board upon which the Master inscribes the designs by which the Craft are to be directed in their labors.  The French and German Freemasons have confounded the Trestle-Board with the Tracing Board.  The two things are entirely different.  The trestle is a framework for a table--in Scotch, trest; the Trestle-Board is the board placed for the convenience of drawing on that frame.  It contains nothing but a few diagrams, usually geometrical figures.  The Tracing-Board is a picture formerly drawn on the floor of the Lodge, whence it was called a Floor-Cloth or Carpet.  It contains a delineation of the symbols of the Degree to which it belongs.  The Trestle-Board is to be found only in the Entered Apprentice's Degree.  There is a Tracing-Board in every Degree, from the first to the highest.  And, lastly, the Trestle-Board is a symbol. the Tracing-Board is a piece of furniture or picture containing the representation of many symbols.

In the present day it refers to the meeting notice sent to the membership.

Trials, Masonic

Are held in Masonic courts of law in which testimony is heard and the accused either found innocent or guilty.

Troubles of Life

Freemasonry recognizes the fact that man in his sin-fallen state is the natural heir to sufferings, frailties, weaknesses, trial and troubles; and that release and renewal of strength may be found only in God and the use of the means of Divine Grace and Providence.


The Working Tool of the Master Mason. Symbolically, to spread the cement of Brotherly Love to fit the capstone to complete the building.

Trust in God

In this life, mans knows not what an hour or a day may bring forth. Paths upon which he must travel are unknown, and many unseen and unexpected dangers await him. Even when among friends, there is a constant need for Divine wisdom, sustenance, strength, aid and guidance. Hence, as the candidate crosses the threshold of the Lodge, and throughout all the ceremonies and rites of Freemasonry, he is required to "put his trust in God."


The real object of Freemasonry, in a philosophical and religious sense, is the search for truth.  This truth is, therefore, symbolized by the Word.  From the first entrance of the Apprentice into the Lodge, until his reception of the highest degree, this search is continued.  It is not always found and a substitute must sometimes be provided.  Yet whatever be the labors he performs, whatever the ceremonies through which he passes, whatever the symbols in which he may be instructed, whatever the final reward he may obtain, the true end of all is the attainment of Truth.  This idea of truth is not the same as that expressed in the lecture of the First Degree, where Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth are there said to be the "three great tenets of a Mason's profession."  In that connection, Truth, which is called a "Divine Attribute, the foundation of every virtue," is synonymous with sincerity, honesty of expression, and plain dealing.  The higher idea of truth which is symbolized by the Word, is that which is properly expressed to a knowledge of God.  Jesus Christ is the Truth; to know the Truth, which means to know him, makes men free; his is manifest in the written word


Artificer in brass and iron.  The first Master Craftsman, son of Lamech and Zillah. (See Genesis IV:22) a descendant of Adam through the Cainite line.  Tubal-cain is regarded in Masonry as the father of skilled workmanship in artistic productions for building purposes.

Twelve Original Points

They were in the ancient English lectures, used in the ritual from 1738 till 1813, when they were taken out, and the four perfect point, substituted.  They constituted the basis of the system, and without which no man ever was or can be legally and essentially received into the Order.  Every candidate must pass through these forms and ceremonies.  The are--opening, preparation, report, entrance, prayer, circumambulation, advancing, obligation, entrusting, investiture, placing in the northeast corner and closing.  These points were symbolized by each one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob.

Twenty-four Inch Gauge

The twenty-four inch gage is a rule two feet long, which is divided by marks into twenty-four parts each one inch in length.  The Operative Mason uses it to take the necessary dimensions of the stone that he is about to prepare.  It has been adopted as one of the working-tools of the Entered Apprentice in Speculative Freemasonry, where it divisions are supposed to represent hours.   Hence its symbolic use is to teach him to measure his time so that, of the twenty-four hours of the day, he may devote eight hours to the service of God and a worthy distressed Brother, eight hours to his usual vocation, and eight hours to refreshment and sleep.  In the twenty-four inch gage is a symbol of time well employed, following as best we can the example of the lines told to us by Longfellow in the Psalm of Life:   Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And departing leave behind us, Footprints on the sands of time.  The Masonic essence of the lesson is ability, preparedness and readiness, recalling the suggestion of William Shakespeare to the workmen in Julius Ceasar (act 1, scene i, line 5), "Where is thy leather apron and thy rule?  What dost thou with thy best apparel on?" 


An ancient city of Phenicia, which in the time of King Solomon was celebrated as the residence of King Hiram, to whom that monarch and his father David were indebted for great assistance in the construction of the Temple at Jerusalem.  Tyre was distant from Jerusalem about one hundred and twenty miles by sea, and was thirty miles nearer by land.  An intercourse between the two cities and their respective monarchs was, therefore, easily cultivated.  The inhabitants of Tyre were distinguished for their skill as artificers, especially as workers in brass and other metals; and it is said to have been a principal seat of that skillful body of architects known as the Dionysiac Fraternity.

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U. D. 

Letters placed after the names of Lodges or Chapters which have not yet received a Warrant or of Constitution.  They signify Under Dispensation.  In the United States when a Lodge is started it is known as being Under Dispensation and after a certain time has elapsed and the members are found worthy they receive a regular Charter.  

Unfavorable Report

When the committee on the investigation of a candidate makes an unfavorable report.

In some Lodges a vote is taken anyway; but the more sensible course and that which is followed in many jurisdictions is to consider the candidate rejected.

Uniformity of Work

It is claimed by Freemasonry that from time immemorial the forms for opening and closing the Lodge, and the Rites and Ceremonies of the degrees have been unaltered, that they are uniformly identical today throughout Masonry, and any alterations or changes would be a violation of the solemn oaths of the Order.  The Entered Apprentice is solemnly charged that he is never to "suffer an infringement of our Rites, or a deviation from established usages and customs."  The requirement for committing to memory, and the oral tests for advancement, of all the fundamentals of Freemasonry, particularly of the distinctive Rites, Ceremonies, and symbols, reasonably guarantees this uniformity and its perpetuation from one generation to another.  This distinctive element of Freemasonry appears to have many advantages over the usual monitorial system commonly practiced in Fraternal institutions.


The mystic tie of true fraternalism is love. But, even where brotherly love prevails, differences of opinion, conflicting ideas, unenlightenment on the part of some, prejudices and varied interests in life endanger the spirit of genuine fellowship and unity. Hence, Masons are constantly taught to avoid "confusion among the workmen," discord, strife, jealousies and vain discussions on non-essentials; and to cultivate zealously and fervently the spirit of true unity in the Lodge and in the Fraternity.

Universality of Masonry

The boast of the Emperor Charles V., that the sun never set on his vast empire, may be applied with equal truth to the Order of Freemasonry.  From east to west, and from north to south, over the whole habitable globe, are our Lodges disseminated.  Wherever the wandering steps of civilized man have left their footprints, there have our temples been established.  

Unmasonic Conduct

Conduct of a Mason which violates the laws of the Craft and his obligation thereto.

Untempered Mortar

The use of mortar not composed of the correct ingredients or in which these ingredients are improperly mixed in operative Masonry is certain to result in a weak and defective building, in a building that will soon disintegrate and tumble down. In speculative Masonry, such untempered mortar is symbolic of dishonest and fraudulent mistures in the building of character or in the construction of the institution of Freemasonry. It represents hypocrisy, the representation of evil as good, the employment of bad materials in moral, ethical and spiritual architecture.

Unworthy Members

We are forced to admit that there are men in the Masonic Order whose characters and lives reflect no credit upon the Institution, whose hearts are untouched by its sublime moral and religious teachings, and to whom Masonry means nothing in its higher and nobler aims and purposes.  They are in the Temple, but not of the Temple; members of our household, but not of us; they are of Israel, but have not the faith of Israel.  Some Lodges may have been remiss in conferring on them the Degrees.  Masons persist in the hope of making them better.  But the Institution is not responsible for what they are, and should not be unduly criticized.  The merciful thing is to bear with them and hope and pray for the regeneration of their heart by God, who alone can perform such miracles.

Upright Posture

The upright posture of the Apprentice in the Northeast Corner, as a symbol of upright conduct, was emphasized in the ritual by Preston, who taught in his lectures that the candidate then represented "a just and upright man and Mason."  The same symbolism is referred to by Hutchinson, who says that "as the builder who raises his column by the plane and perpendicular, so should the Mason carry himself toward the world."  Indeed, the application of the Corner-stone, or the Square Stone, as a symbol of uprightness of conduct, which is precisely the Masonic symbolism of the candidate in the Northeast, was familiar to the ancients; for Plato says that he who valiantly sustains the shocks of adverse fortune, demeaning himself uprightly, is truly good and of a square posture.

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Vault, Secret

The vault was, in the ancient mysteries, symbolic of the grave; for initiation was symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found.  The Masons have adopted the same idea.  They teach that death is but the beginning of life; that if the first or evanescent temple of our transitory life be on the surface, we must descend into the secret vault of death before we can find that sacred deposit of truth which is to adorn our second temple of eternal life.  It is in this sense of an entrance through the grave into eternal life that we are to view the symbolism of the secret vault.  Like every other myth and allegory of Masonry, the historical relation may be true or it may be false; it may be founded on fact or be the invention of imagination; the lesson is still there, and the symbolism teaches it exclusive of the history. 

Veiled Allegory

Uttering a thing in parabolic form (i.e., parable) with its meaning hidden. Many of the sublimest truths of Freemasonry are thus spoken, and even those who have been given the mysteries of speculative science must delve into the caverns of Masonic mystery to gather these hidden gems of truth.

Veil of the Temple

This was the curtain or partition which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. It served as a constant reminder to worshippers than only the High Priest, and he only once a year after having made proper atonement for his own sins and for the sins of the people, was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. As a result of the atonement of Christ in his death on the cross, this veil was rent and destroyed, and through Him as High Priest an open door into the Heavenly Sanctuary has been prepared for all true worshippers.

Visit, Right of

Every affiliated Freemason in good standing has a right to visit any other Lodge, wherever it may be, as often as it may suit his pleasure or convenience; and this is called, in Masonic Law, the Right of Visit.  It is one of the most important of all Masonic privileges, because it is based on the principle of the identity of the Masonic Institution as one universal family, and is the exponent of that well-known maxim that "in every clime a Freemason may find a home, and in every land a Brother."


To visit a lodge outside of your "regular" lodge.  Visitation is a privilege and not a right.


The laws of ancient Israel with respect to the treatment of strangers or visitors have full recognition and force among Freemasons. In fact, no Mason is allowed to regard as a stranger or visitor any Brother Mason, even though he has no acquaintance with him, and even if he may be of some other religion, country or nationality.


Volume of the Sacred Law.

Voting, Right of

Formerly, all members of the Craft, even Entered Apprentices, were permitted to vote.  This was distinctly prescribed in the last of the Thirty-nine General Regulations adopted in 1721 (Constitutions, 1723, page 70).  But the numerical strength of the Order, which was then in the First Degree, having now passed over to the Third, the modern rule in the United States, but not in England, is that the right of voting shall be restricted to Master Masons.  A Master Mason may, therefore, speak and vote on all questions, except in trials where he himself concerned as accuser or defendant.  Yet by special regulation of his Lodge he may be prevented from voting on ordinary questions where his dues for a certain period--generally twelve months--have not been paid; and such a regulation exists in almost every Lodge.  But no local by-law can deprive a member, who has not been suspended, from voting on the ballot for the admission of candidate, because the sixth regulation of 1721 distinctly requires that each member present on such occasion shall give his consent before the candidate can be admitted (See the above edition of Constitutions, page 59).  And if a member were deprived by any by-law of the Lodge in consequence of non-payment of his dues, of the right of expressing his consent or dissent, the ancient regulations would be violated, and a candidate might be admitted without the unanimous consent of all members present.  And this rule is so rigidly enforced, that on a ballot for initiation no member can be excused from voting.  He must assume the responsibility of casting his vote, lest it should afterward be said that the candidate was not admitted by unanimous consent. 


This harks back to the Latin vocare, to call, to summon, and is the origin of voice, vouchsafe, vocation (in the sense of a “calling”), vocal, etc. To vouch is to raise one s voice in testimony, to bear witness, to affirm, to call to witness. If we vouch for a brother we raise the voice to testify that we know him to be a regular Mason.


It is a rule in Freemasonry, that a Lodge may dispense with the examination of a visitor, if any Brother present will vouch that he possesses the necessary qualifications.  This is an important prerogative that every Freemason is entitled to exercise; and yet it is one which may so materially affect the well-being of the whole Fraternity, since, by its injudicious use, imposters might be introduced among the faithful, that it should be controlled by the most stringent regulations.  To vouch for one is to bear witness for him, and in witnessing to truth, every caution should be observed, lest falsehood may cunningly assume its gard.  The Brother who vouches should know to a certainty that the one for whom he vouches is really what he claims to be.  He should know this, not from a casual conversation, nor a loose and careless inquiry, but from Strict Trial, due examination, or lawful information.  These are the three requisites which the instructions have laid down as essentially necessary to authorize the act of vouching.

A brother cannot vouch for the Masonic standing of a brother unless he has sat with him in a Masonic Lodge. Knowledge of his standing or membership in a body requiring Masonic membership as a prerequisite is not grounds for avouchment.




The "vows of a Mason" are the inward and spiritual covenants of the mystic ties of the Fraternity which have their outward expression in the formal obligations assumed in the several Degrees of the Order. The vows are the covenants of heart and conscience which serve as the main force of heart and character in faithfully observing the obligations verbally expressed before the altar.

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Wage, of which wages is the collective plural, remotely descended from the Latin vas, having the meaning of pledge, security, pawn, or a promise to pay backed up by security. After it entered into modem languages it had a peculiar history; it became “gage,” a pledge or pawn, appearing in our engage, disengage, etc., but having no relation with gage, one of our Working Tools; “wager" in the sense of a bet; in another context it became “wed,” the act of marrying, so called because of the pledges given; and “wage” in the sense of compensation for service given. An “allowance” is a one-sided form of payment, depending on the will of the giver; a “stipend” is a fixed sum, usually nominal, and is supposed to be paid as per a permanent arrangement; a “salary” (from sal, or salt, the old pay given soldiers) is an amount fixed by contract, and estimated over a relatively long period of time, year or month; “wages” are paid to laborers over short periods of time, or at the completion of the required task. In Speculative Masonry the Master Mason symbolically receives “wages,” rather than salary, because they represent the rewards that come to him as rapidly as he does his work; and, as the etymology of the word suggests, they are certain, something one may bank on.

Wages, A Master's

Symbolizing the fruits of a man's labors in Masonic work.  It is certain that the operative Masons who labored in the construction of King Solomon's Temple were paid wages, but there is no Biblical reference as to the daily wage paid. Speculative Masons perform certain labors which are moral and spiritual, and their wages or rewards are spiritual. The true and enlightened Mason finds his rewards in the gratifying and beneficial results of his studies, and in the fruitful products of his Masonic deeds.


“Ward” is of Medieval origin, having been used in early English, French, German, etc., always in the sense of to guard something, a meaning preserved in warden, guard, guardian, wary, ware, ward, etc. A warden is guardian of the west gate of the Temple, the Junior Warden of the south gate.

Wardens Columns

At the beginning of the opening ceremonies both columns are down, The Senior Warden's column is elevated down when the WM declares the Lodge open. It is lowered when the Master declares the Lodge called from labor to refreshment, or when, ill the closing ceremonies.  The Junior Warden's column is elevated up, when the Lodge is at refreshment. It raised at the moment when the Master declares the Lodge at refreshment, and is lowered when he calls the Lodge to labor. The Senior Warden's column is lowered and raised at the same times.


This also derives from the same source, and carries the general meaning of “to defend,” “to guard.” Warrant is sometimes used as a pledge of security; in Masonry it is a document officially issued to authorize the formation of a Lodge, and consequently acts as the pledge, or security, for the future activity of it.

Wayfaring Man

A "wayfaring man" is one who is accustomed to travel on a road.  The term is obsolete today, but appears in the Third Degree of Masonry to denote a person met near the port of Joppa by certain men sent out on a search by king Solomon. 


White is symbolic of purity in its various uses in Masonry.

White Stone

The white stone is a token of fraternal friendship and helpfulness as well as enduring alliance.

Widow's Son

Masons are sometimes referred to as "sons of the widow" as this was the title applied to Hiram, chief architect of Solomon's Temple.

Widows and Orphans

Masons are solemnly pledged to make special provision for widows and orphans in need, especially among families of the Fraternity.

Winding Stairs

The Temple of Solomon was equipped with an impressive winding stairway consisting of fifteen steps leading from the porch to the second floor. Elaborate and extensive symbolisms are attached to these winding stairs in the work of Freemasonry.  Is one which tries a man's soul. He must approach it with faith believing that there is a top, that by a long and arduous climb he will reach a Middle Chamber.  A place of light.


One of the elements 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.


In Ancient Craft Masonry, Wisdom is symbolized by the East, the place of light, being represented by the pillar that there supports the Lodge and by the Worshipful Master.  It is also referring to King Solomon, the symbolical founder of the Order.  In Masonic architecture the Ionic column, distinguished for the skill in its construction, as it combines the beauty of the Corinthian and the strength of Doric, is adopted as the representative of wisdom.  King Solomon has been adopted in Speculative Freemasonry as the type or representative of Wisdom.


In its chief use and most profound meaning the WORD is synonymous with Truth.  The search for the WORD is in reality the search for Divine Truth.  In the mysteries of Freemasonry, as anciently pursued, there was most probably a hidden, probably not conceived, sense in which the WORD really represented the preincarnate Christ, declared after his incarnation to be the WORD by divine inspiration.  Divine Truth, the WORD or the preincarnate Christ, and the Christ in his redemptive office, the source of light and life.

Word, Sacred

A term applied to the chief or most prominent word of a Degree, to indicate its peculiarly sacred character, in contradistinction to a password, which is simply intended as a mode of recognition.  It is sometimes ignorantly corrupted into "secret word."  All significant words in Freemasonry are secret.  Only certain word are sacred.


The idea behind this noble old word is one that has powerfully appealed to all European peoples and is found in nearly every European language. The Greek ergon meant work, organ on. was the instrument by which work was done; from this source we have energy, organ, erg, and it appears in combination in such words as metallurgy. To work means to put forth effort in order to accomplish something; play is also a putting forth of effort, but in that case the effort is its own end, and is done for its own sake. Work has an end beyond itself. The official ritual of the Lodge is called the Standard Work; it came to be so called by analogy, the ritual of Speculative Masonry corresponding to the daily labor of the Operative Masons.

Working Tools

The seven most familiar working tools of a Freemason are the twenty-four inch gage, common gavel, square, compasses, plumb, level and trowel.  In Operative Freemasonry they were the tools of the stonemason's trade.  In Speculative Freemasonry these tools have taken on a symbolic meaning teaching specific virtues and principles that are attached to each.

Working Tool of a Past Master

The plumb line.


The Lodge is said to be a symbol of the world.  Its form--an oblong square, whose greatest length is from east to west--represents the shape of the inhabited world according to the theory of the ancients.  The "clouded canopy," or the "starry-decked covering" of the Lodge, is referred to the sky.  The sun, which enlightens and and governs the world at morning, noon, and evening, is represented by the three superior officers.  And, lastly, the Craft, laboring in the work of the Lodge, present a similitude to the inhabitants of the world engaged in the toils of life.  While the Lodge is adopted as a copy of the Temple, not less universal is that doctrine which makes it a symbol of the world.


The Anglo Saxon weorth was something honorable, deserving of respect, a meaning that shows up in worth, the value of anything, also in worship, which is deference paid to some object or person of great importance. Worshipful describes something full of the qualities calling for such deference. It was used in Medieval times of one’s parents, officers of the state, prelates, etc., signifying that such persons were of high station or entitled to deferential respect. It is so used in our term, “Worshipful Master.”

Title of honor and respect as used in Worshipful Master, From the Anglo-Saxon, worthship (worthy); honorable or respectable. The term has no religious or sacred implication. 

Worthy and Well Qualified

That by his character and moral living, the candidate is worthy to be a member.

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No Words at this time

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Year, Masonic

The Masonic calendar dates from the year when God said, "Let there be Light," and is designated A. L.

Year of Light (A. L.)

Anno Lucis, in the Year of Light, is the epoch used in Masonic documents of the Symbolic Degrees.  Between the creation of the world, according to sacred chronology, and the advent of Christ, 4000 years intervene; thus A. L. 2001 added to 4000 gives the Masonic year, 6001.  The Masonic era commences with the creation of the world (Anno Mundi), or Masonically expressed, (Anno Lucis), year of light or year of the Lodge. 


The tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Hebrew letter equivalent in sound to I or Y.  It is the initial letter of the word Jehovah, the tetragrammaton, and hence was peculiarly sacred among the Talmudists.  Basnage (lib. iii., c.13), while treating of the mysteries of the name Jehovah among the Jews, says of this letter:  "The yod in Jehovah is one of those things which eye hath not seen, but which has been concealed from all mankind.  Its essence and matter are incomprehensible; it is not lawful so much as to mediate upon it.  Man may lawfully revolve his thoughts from one end of the heavens to the other, but he cannot approach that inaccessible light, that primitive existence, contained in the letter yod; and indeed the masters call the letter thought or idea, and prescribe no bounds to its efficacy.  It was this letter which, flowing from the primitive light, gave being to emanations.  In Symbolic Masonry, the yod has been replaced by the Letter "G".  But in the high degrees it is retained, and within a triangle, thus constituting the symbol of Deity. 

York Rites

The degrees of the lodge, Chapter, Council, and Commandery.

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Intensity of purpose and of earnestness.

Ever since the Revival in 1717, for it is found in the earliest lectures, it was taught that Apprentices served their Masters with "Freedom, Fervency, and Zeal"; and the symbols of the first two of these virtues were Chalk and Charcoal.  In the oldest instructions, earthen pan, was designated as the symbol of Zeal; but this was changed to Clay probably by Preston, and so it still remains.  The instruction of the Operative Mason to serve his Master with freedom, fervency, and zeal--to work for his interests willingly, ardently, and zealously--is easily understood.  Its application to Speculative Freemasonry, for the Masters of the Work we substitute the Grand Architect of the Universe, and then our zeal, like our freedom and our fervency, is directed to a higher end.  The zeal of a Speculative Freemason is shown by advancing the morality, and by promoting the happiness of his fellow-creatures. 


The Persian Volume of the Sacred Law.


The point in heavens directly over head of the spectator; great height.


The mountain or hill in Palestine on which Jerusalem was built.

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