Halifax 81 Masonic Lodge
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Masonic Words


Fiery intensity of feeling.


To gently and constructively counsel another person.


A literary style that uses symbols, characters or events to suggestively represent an abstract idea.


A hint.  To make a somewhat disguised reference about a person, place or thing.


Out of use.  So extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period.


An unfavorable or damaging remark.


Lacking refinement or culture.  Coarse, very cruel,  savage.


A ceremonial prayer requesting divine protection


A benefit.  Doing or producing good.


To earnestly ask or request.


An archaic term for a goal or destination


Candid.  The quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech.


Relating to Heaven or the spirit.


Harsh criticism or disapproval.


To draw a line or a boundary around.


Knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress by being prudent.


Compromise.  The ability to come to terms in the interests of obtaining good will.


The ability to adapt oneself.


Solemnly dedicated to or set apart for a high purpose, usually a Holy purpose.


To come up with (an idea, plan, explanation, theory, or principle) after a mental effort.


Curving or bulging outward.


Consent to or give permission.


Profanes, pretenders, intruders, eavesdroppers.  Those seeking to obtain the Masonic words and secrets of  Masonry without having been admitted to the fraternity.


To accurately depict a shape.  To draw or trace the outline of; sketch out.


An overwhelming number or amount of an item;..as in a deluge of rain.


To reduce in worth or character.



A manner of personal conduct or behavior.


Implies contempt or disapproval, ...such as a derogatory remark.


Taking care, patience and perseverance in carrying out tasks.


Having, revealing and exercising keen insight and good judgment. 


Conflicting.  Not in agreement or harmony.


Tactful.  Good at keeping secrets, or subtle and unobtrusive.


Occurring in the daytime.  Belonging to the period of daylight.  (This is one of the Masonic words which few people understand its meaning.)


To deprive, remove or take away possessions from someone.


One who stands under the eaves, or near the window or door of a house, to listen; hence, a secret listener.


Astronomic plane containing the Earth's orbit about the Sun.  An imaginary line followed on the earth's surface by the direct ray of the Sun during the year.  Solomon's temple, located in Jerusalem, is north of this line.


A building.  Especially a large or impressive one.


Serving as a visible symbol for something abstract; e.g.:  as a crown is emblematic of royalty.


To copy.  An effort made to imitate another person's actions.


To endow.  To provide with a quality or trait.


To regard with respect and consideration.


Noble.  Elevated in rank, character, or status. 


To make an urgent appeal.


Practical.  Most appropriate to a purpose.


A false, erroneous or mistaken idea.


Feelings of great warmth and intensity.


The vault or expanse of the heavens; the sky.


To bear fruit.  To fulfill.

Grand Artificer

Deity.  Creator of the Universe.  Master Architect.  God, Allah, YHWH, etc..


Expression of high regard.  Showing respect or attesting to the worth or influence of another person.


Falsely assuming the appearance of virtue or religion.



Extending back or existing since beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition. Example:  Time immemorial.


To earnestly call or pray for.


Physical severity or harshness (commonly in respect to the elements or weather); roughness; storminess; rigor; severe cold, wind, rain, or snow. 


To be taught.  To implant by repeated statement or admonition; teach persistently and earnestly.


Obligatory.  A duty to which one is obliged to perform.


Firm.  Stable.  Incapable of being dissolved, decomposed or destroyed.


Not to be spoken because of its sacredness.  Unutterable: such as the ineffable name of the Deity.


Stealthily treacherous or deceitful.


To overwhelm.  To flood.


To call on for aid or protection; to invite earnestly or solemnly; to summon; to address in prayer; to solicit or demand by invocation; to implore; as, to invoke the Supreme Being, or to invoke (appeal for) His blessing.


Deserving commendation; praiseworthy.


Illegal or Immoral.  Disregard of rules.


A whole entity which is composed of many and diverse elements.  Ex:  Manifold destiny.


Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.


The position of the sun at noon.


Method of mutual instruction.


Detail, exactness or precision.


Hard; firm; unbending; inflexible; unyielding; stubborn.


To impose excessive burdens upon; to overload; hence, to treat with unjust rigor.


To try to mitigate, lessen, cover for or conceal the gravity of (an offense) by excuses, apologies, etc.


Regularly attend.


Permeate, diffuse.  To spread through.


An ornamental and structural column that usually projects about a third of its width from the wall to which it is attached and contains a base and a capital (ornamental piece) on top.  A pilaster is part of a wall, whereas a column is free-standing.    


Reverence.  Having or showing strong religious feelings and devotion toward the Creator.



A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.


Lying flat.  Prostrate.


  1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
  2. Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident.
  3. Careful about one's conduct; circumspect.


Wise.  Exercising good judgment and common sense.


Summary.  To repeat in a concise form.  Short form.  Recap.


Rightness.  Correctness of conduct and principle. 


Improvement.  Betterment.  Correction of an imperfect state.  Reform.


Rule.  To have control, or influence over.


Reprimand.  Disapprove.


Honor.  Esteem, Revere, Adore.  A feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe. 


Wholesome.  Promoting or conducive to some beneficial purpose.  A purpose which deserves a salute.


A pure, angelic and burning love or ardor.  A Seraphim is one of a class of celestial beings with 6 wings...some believe they are the first of the nine classes of angels. 

They are mentioned in the Old Testament in Issaiah. 6:2, 3, 6, 7.   Seraph means "fiery ones", an allusion, it is supposed, to their burning love. They are represented as "standing"..."hovering"?... above the King as he sat upon his throne, ready at once to minister unto him. Their form appears to have been human, with the addition of their 3 sets of wings. 


Showbread.  1 Sam. 21:1-6. This bread consisted of twelve loaves made of the finest flour. They were flat and thin, and were placed in two rows of six each on a table in the holy place before the Lord.

They were renewed every Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9), and those that were removed to give place to the new ones were to be eaten by the priests only in the holy place (see 1 Sam. 21:3-6; comp. Matt. 12:3, 4).

The number of the loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the entire spiritual Israel, "the true Israel;" and the placing of them on the table symbolized the entire consecration of Israel to the Lord, and their acceptance of God as their God.

The table for the bread was made of acacia wood, 3 feet long, 18 inches broad, and 2 feet 3 inches high. It was plated with pure gold. Two staves, plated with gold, passed through golden rings, were used for carrying it.


Showed.  An archaic word meaning to show, display or exhibit.   


Request.  To petition for something which is desired.


Ultimate.  The greatest or most supreme and elevated degree.  Awe-inspiring.  Exalted. 


Useful.  Serving or acting in a subordinate capacity through a sense of duty.  Compliant and obedient to authority because of a deep understanding of the whole.


To Exist.  To Be.


Various and Diverse.  Many. 


Superficial.  Outward appearance.  Shallow. Without depth. Residing on a single plane.


Excesses.  That which is not needed.


Nourishment.  That which is needed to sustain life.


Beauty as a result of balance and a harmonious arrangement.  Excellence of proportion.  Regularity of form or arrangement in terms of like, reciprocal, or corresponding parts.


Synonymous.  Same.  Like.  Expressing or implying the same idea.


A place of worship.  Shelter.  A temporary dwelling place. 



Moderate.  Not extreme in behavior.


Violent disturbance such as a storm or tornado.


Temporary.  For a limited time.




Checkered.  Pertaining to or like mosaic tiling.  The word "tessella" means small square.


Fair and impartial.  Without bias.


Real.  Sincere.  Unfaked.


Pure.  Honorable.  Clean.  Untainted. 


Extremely old.  Worthy of Respect.  Revered.


The highest point of something.  The point of intersection of lines or the point opposite the base of a figure, as the top point of a triangle or a mountain.


Changes.  Fluctuations.  Variations.


To promise or agree, condescendingly, because it is in your power; to bestow a special favor.  To vouch as safe.


Cause to move to and fro.


Created.  Made. Designed.


With passion. Fervor.  Eager and ardent interest in pursuit of something.

Acacia sprigs were planted by the Hebrew people at the head of a grave for 2 purposes:

1.  To mark the location of the grave.

2.  To show their belief in immortality.

Immortality:  Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians believed that because of its hardness, durability and evergreen nature, that this tree was a symbol of both innocence and immortality.

Shittim:  In the Bible, it is called “shittim”.  Chosen above all others, shittim was the wood which God commanded Moses to use to create the Ark of the Covenant into which Moses placed the 2 stone tablets upon which The 10 Commandments were carved.

Ark of the Covenant:  The entire chapter of Exodus 37 is devoted to the creation of the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark was first constructed of shittim wood and then overlaid with gold before being placed into the Holy of Holies (Sanctum Sanctorum) in Solomon's Temple.

Hardwood:  The wood is a beautiful hardwood with dark and light coloring.  Due to this intermingled coloring, furniture and flooring made from its wood is both very durable, as well as exceptionally beautiful. 

The tree is a thorny, and many times multi stemmed tree or bush which many would call a "scrub" tree because it never grows large and tall like an oak, walnut or many other hardwood trees.  Depending on the species, the seeds grow into either trees or shrubs, which are hardy in many climates, but they are not long-lived trees.  Their typical lifespan is between 30 to 40 years.

Deep Roots:   In order for it to survive in very dry, arid lands such as parts of Israel, Iran, Iraq, Australia, Africa, etc., it has very deep roots from which to absorb more water in arid lands.  Some species have roots which are 40-60 meters (approximately 120-180 feet deep).

Genus:  The genus Acacia belongs to the family Mimosaceae and is related to both the Locust and the Mimosa trees. There are approximately 1350 species of Acacia found throughout the world and close to 1000 of these are found in Australia. Its most common name, world-wide is known as “Wattle”. Australia's national floral emblem is Acacia pycnantha, the Golden Wattle. Australians celebrate Wattle Day on the 1st of September each year.

Varieties:  Different varieties are common in many countries such as Australia, Africa, Madagascar, throughout Asia, Israel, Iran, Iraq, South America, southern parts of the United States as well as in the Pacific. They are found in a wide range of differing habitats from coastal, wet and tropical to sub-alpine (just below treeline), but are most prevalent in the arid and semi-arid areas. Unlike most other plants, they will even grow on beaches and in rocky areas… near the ocean taking their moisture from the saltwater!

The Acacia Flower: Each year the tree flowers.  Depending on the variety, the flowers can be yellow, white, cream-colored, or a reddish-pink).  Afterward, seed pods which are about three inches long, containing from five to six brownish-black seeds, ripen and turn from green to brown. When fully ripe, the Apods split to release the Acacia seeds.

Seeds:  Interestingly, unlike most plants, its seeds have a hard coating which, in most cases, is nearly impervious to water, therefore, germination does not usually occur unless some sort of pretreatment is first carried out.  In nature, fire is the most common means of getting the seed pods to split open and reseed themselves.

Acacia Seed as a Human Food Source

As a human food source, it has been a subject of increasing interest and research in recent years. Much of this work is based on understanding the traditional Aboriginal use of many of these species.

Wattle: While the seed from most of the wattle varieties are generally thought of as being poisonous or generally inedible, there are a few exceptions. Forty-seven species of wattle trees growing in southern Australia produce seeds which are suitable for human food. Some species of it are also used as stock food, for example, the pods of A. farnesiana (prickly Moses) and A. cambagei (gidyea) are eaten by sheep.

In both Australia and Africa, there are several species of the seed which are edible. Seed is eaten and prepared in different ways by indigenous (originating and living naturally, usually off the land) Aboriginal Australians and is beginning to be marketed to other countries.



The lambskin Master Mason apron derives from the working apron of the ancient stone masons.
  It is an Emblem of Innocence and the badge of a Freemason.


Thus, the apron is proudly compared with the noblest decorations of ancient Rome and of both ancient and modern Europe. 

The Order of the Golden Fleece was of high repute as an Order of Knighthood.  It was established in Flanders, France in 1429 by the Duke of Burgundy, a member of the then royal family, who selected the fleece for its badge because wool was the staple production of the country.  Since that time, it has been considered as one of the most illustrious Orders of Europe.

The Roman Eagle was to Romans the ensign of imperial power.  Made of silver or bronze, the Roman Eagle was placed atop the pole of the military standards (flags).  (circa 104 B.C.) 

The Order of the Garter, was and is, still considered the highest decoration that can be bestowed upon a subject by a sovereign of Great Britain.  It is an order of chivalry or knighthood originating in medieval England.  It is the pinnacle of honor in the United Kingdom to have the Order of the Garter bestowed upon you. 


(From Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929, Volume I, The New Kentucky Monitor, arranged by Brother Henry Pirtle, 1918, for the Grand Lodge of that State)

The Master Mason Apron

"....Lambskin or white leathern apron.  It is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason: more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, and when worthily worn, more honorable than the Star and Garter, or any other Order that can be conferred upon you at this or any future period by king, prince, potentate, or any other person, except he be a Mason and within the Body of a just and legally constituted Lodge of such."

"It may be that, in the years to come, upon your head shall rest the laurel wreaths of victory; pendant from your breast may hang jewels fit to grace the diadem of an eastern potentate; yea, more than these: 

...for with the coming light your ambitious feet may tread round after round the ladder that leads to fame in our mystic circle, and even the purple of our Fraternity may rest upon your honored shoulders;

...but never again by mortal hands, never again until your enfranchised spirit shall have passed upward and inward through the gates of pearl, shall any honor so distinguished, so emblematic of purity and all perfection, be bestowed upon you as this, which I now confer. 

It is yours; yours to wear through an honorable life, and at your death to be placed upon the coffin which contains your earthly remains, and with them laid beneath the silent clods of the valley."

"Let its pure and spotless surface be to you an ever-present reminder of purity of life, of rectitude of conduct, a never-ending argument for higher thoughts, for nobler deeds, for greater achievements; and when at last your weary fee shall have reached the end of their toilsome journey,

...and from your nerveless grasp forever drop the working tools of a busy life, may the record of your life and conduct be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem which I place within your hands tonight;

...and when your trembling soul shall stand naked and alone before the great white throne, there to receive judgment for the deeds done while here in the body, may it be your portion to hear from Him who sitteth as Judge Supreme these welcome words:

 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'"

"I charge you-take it, wear it with pleasure to yourself and honor to the Fraternity."


(From Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929, Volume I)

Innocence of Conduct and Purity of Heart 

The Master Mason apron teaches the aspiring Mason that none are admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed of all impurities of both body and mind. 

Purity of life and rectitude of conduct is essential and necessary to gain admittance into that Celestial Lodge on High where the Supreme Architect of the Universe forever presides.

In primitive times, it was an ecclesiastical (religious) decoration more than a civil decoration.


The earliest mention of the apron was when Melchizedek, with Abraham, started the priesthood. (circa 2100 B.C.)   Melchizedek was the Most High Priest and the first to wear the apron as the badge of religious authority.  The apron is a high honor and is the symbol of a holy man.


(From Signs and Symbols of Freemasonry, Dr. Oliver, Lexture X, Page 196)

Ancient Badge of Distinction

The apron appears to have been, in ancient times, an honorary badge of distinction.  None but the superior orders of the priesthood were permitted to adorn themselves with ornamented girdles made of blue, purple and crimson, decorated with gold upon a background of fine white linen. 

Historic Ceremonies of Investiture have been common to all nations of the Earth from the earliest periods.

The Indian, the Persian, the Jewish, the Ethiopian and the Egyptian aprons, though equally superb, all bore a character distinct from each other.  Some were plain white. 

Others were striped with blue, purple and crimson.  Some were of wrought gold...others were adorned and decorated with superb tassels and fringes. 


Israelites:  Historically, among the Israelites, the girdle formed a part of the investiture of the priesthood.

Persia:  The candidate was invested with a white apron.

Hindostan: A sash was used called the sacred zennar, which was substituted for the apron. 

Essenes:  The Jewish sect of the Essenes clothed their novices with a white robe.

Japanese:  The Japanese practice certain rites of initiation, invest their candidates with a white apron, bound round the loins with a zone or girdle.

Scandanavia:  The military genius of the people caused them to substitute a white shield, but its presentation was accompanied by an emblematic instruction not unlike that which is connected with the Freemason's apron.

Roman Priests:  Roman priests wore white garments when they sacrificed. 

Druids:  The Druids changed the color of the garment presented to their initiates with each degree; white, however was the color appropriated to the last, or degree of perfection.  It was, according to their ritual, intended to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed from all impurities both of body and mind.


Formation of the Grand Lodge of England

At the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the Master Mason apron was white - no ornaments at first, and full size, similar in every respect to that of the Operative Mason's apron. 

Color of a Master Mason Apron:

Due to the preservation of its symbolic character - its color and its material: 

The color of a Master Mason apron should be pure unspotted white, which is esteemed as an emblem of innocence and purity.

Material of a Master Mason Apron: 

A Master Mason apron must be made of lambskin.  No other substance, such as linen, silk or satin, could be substituted without entirely destroying the emblematic character of the apron, for the material of the Master Mason's apron constitutes one of the most important symbols of his profession

....The lamb having always been considered as an appropriate emblem of innocence.

Drill Apron:
  Your drill apron is symbolic of your lambskin Master Mason apron.

Why, then, do Freemasons wear their lambskin Master Mason apron with such pride?

Honor:  The reason the Master Mason apron is more honorable than the Star and Garter is that all it teaches is exemplified by its wearer. 

Spiritual Knighthood:  The Master Mason apron is a reminder to the Master Mason to do no moral evil to any person.  It speaks to the charitable forgiveness of his brethren when they purposely or non-purposely do him evil. 

It is the emblem of his dedication to a spiritual knighthood with which man virtuously rises above the crudeness and the ignorance of men.

Dignity and Virtue:  The Master Mason apron should be worn with dignity and honor as it exemplifies man's virtues upon which during his manhood, he may wear it both with pleasure to himself while honoring the fraternity.


The Ark of the Covenant... or of the Testimony, was a sacred chest, constructed by Moses at God’s Command. (see Exodus 25:10)  Onto its lid were placed 2 cherubim (angels) representing God's glory.

The Ark contained:

1. A Golden Pot filled with Manna. The Lord commanded Moses to fill
    a gold vessel (pot) with Manna and keep it as a memorial to future
    generations of how God fed them in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32-33).
    The Golden Pot of Manna signifies eternal life.

2. Aaron’s Rod that had budded as a sign of God’s continued choice of
    Aaron as priest. (Numbers 17:5)

3. The Ten Commandments…the 2 stone tablets onto which Moses
    engraved the Ten Commandments that God spoke to him.
    (Exodus 20:1-17)

It was at first deposited in the most sacred place of the tabernacle and afterward placed by Solomon in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple.

The Ark of the Covenant was lost upon the destruction of the first Temple by the Chaldeans. It was carried to Babylon among the other sacred utensils which became the spoil of the conquerors. Its subsequent fate is unknown, as all traces have been lost.

From the writings of the Talmudists, it is believed certain that it was not brought back to Jerusalem by King Zerubbabel.

The Talmudists say that there were 5 things which were the glory of the first Temple that were wanting in the second:

1. The Ark of the Covenant
2. The Shikinah (or Divine Presence)
3. The Urim and Thummim (the holy fire upon the altar)
4. The Spirit of Prophecy.
5. Unknown

Josephus and the Rabbis, as well as Hebrew scholars allege that in the second Temple, the Holy of Holies was empty,...or contained only the Stone of Foundation, which marked the place which the Ark of the Covenant should have occupied.

Material of Construction:  The Ark of the Covenant was made of shittim wood, which is a species of
 acacia, overlaid, within and without, with pure gold, and was about 3 feet, 9 inches long, 2 feet, 3 inches wide, and of the same extent in depth.

It had on each side, 2 rings of gold, through which were placed staves of shittim wood, by which, when necessary, the Ark of the Covenant was borne (moved) by the Levites.

Its covering was of pure gold, over which was placed 2 figures called cherubim, an order of exalted angelic beings, with expanded wings.

In Hebrew, the covering of the Ark of the Covenant was called kaw-far, meaning to blot out or pardon, and hence, its English name of Mercy Seat, as being the place where the intercession for sin was made.

An Ark Before THE Ark?  Archaeologists’ research have thrown much light on the Egyptian mysteries. Among the ceremonies of that ancient people was one called the Procession of Shrines, which is mentioned in the Rosetta stone, and depicted on the Temple walls. One of these shrines was an ark, which was carried in procession by the priests, who supported it on their shoulders by staves passing through metal rings.

This ark was brought into the Temple and deposited on a stand or altar, that the ceremonies prescribed in the ritual might be performed before it.

The contents of these arks were varied, but always of a mystical character.

Sometimes the ark would contain symbols of Life and Stability; sometimes the sacred beetle, the symbol of the Sun; and there was always a representation of 2 figures of the goddess Theme or Truth and Justice, which overshadowed the ark with their wings.

It is believed that these coincidences of the Egyptian and Hebrew arks are more than accidental.

Credit for the above information is given to Albert Mackey, Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1, Page 103, 1929.

 The Ark of the Covenant is said to be God’s Footstool, whereupon he symbolically rested his feet when he was in attendance within the Holy of Holies.

The Ark of the Covenant was carried through the desert by the Israelites during their many years of wandering after their exodus from Egypt, as well as through battles. When transported, it was enveloped in a
blue cloth veil. (See Exodus 25:21)

After Solomon's Temple was built, the original Tabernacle (tent and its furnishings) was dismantled.  Many rabbis and authorities in Jerusalem believe that it may have been stored in a room under the Temple Mount, where it is possible that it is still there to this day.

Up through King David (Solomon’s father’s) time, the tabernacle traveled with the Israelites and was housed in a tent, due to the fact that after leaving Egypt, the Israelites were a nomadic tribe of people without a real place to call home.

Solomon built a holy inner sanctum within the temple and the Holy of Holies (Sanctum Sanctorum) was housed within this Tabernacle until King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies removed it and carried it away to Babylon, where some believe it to have been destroyed. (See 2Kings 25:13-16).

Q:  Why is the Ark of the Covenant so important to both Mankind
      and Freemasonry?

A:  It reveals God's Promise to David...and it is through this promise
      that we receive God's continued mercy for our transgressions,

Q:  Isn't it just another of Freemasonry's many symbols?

A:   No.  It is the reason that King Solomon's Temple was built.

We spend an enormous amount of time, ritualistically, physically and symbolically learning about King Solomon's Temple...and have grown to symbolically treat the symbol of the Ark of the Covenant as equally as we treat the Mosaic Pavement, denoting good and evil, on the floor of the Temple! 


The Lodge Room emulates King Solomon's Temple. 

We bow to King Solomon's wisdom.

But, we circumambulate around God's word.


So, to fully feel and absorb the "light" we must not forget WHY Solomon's Temple was built.  King David had a perfectly good home.  Why?  He was a good and strong man, but it was God who had stood with him throughout each of his battles and made him victorious over his enemies, just as it is God who walks with each of us, today. 

Within the craft of Freemasonry, we must not forget that while Freemasonry makes good men, better, ...this comes from learning and living God's commandments which are contained within the Ark of the Covenant.

It is vital to understand that the light which emanates from the Ark of the Covenant WITHIN Solomon's Temple is central to Freemasonry's foundations...not the Temple, itself.  Just as man's spirit is the light housed within his body, so is the Ark of the Covenant the "light" within Solomon's Temple.

The following comes from 2Samuel 7:1-29:

God's Testimony (Promise) to David

1 After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him,

2 he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent."

3 Nathan replied to the king, "Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you."

4 That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying:

5 "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?

6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.

7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?" '

8 "Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel.

9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.

10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning

11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

" 'The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:

12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.

15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.

16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' "

17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

King David's Prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:

"Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD ?

20 "What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD.

21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 "How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?

24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God.

25 "And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised,

26 so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, 'The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!' And the house of your servant David will be established before you.

27 "O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, 'I will build a house for you.' So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer.

28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever."


The above information came from the New International Version of the Bible, copyright 1984.  I used this newer version because its wording is not as archaic as my Master Mason edition Bible from Heirloom Bible Publishers, copyright 1991. 


Therefore, the reason Solomon's Temple was built was to house the Ark of the Covenant...the symbol of our Creator's everlasting promise of mercy for our transgressions.


 One last thing.  The image of the Ark of the Covenant at the top of this page doesn't even begin to fully do justice to what the Ark of the Covenant actually looked like.

To truly "feel" its glory, to understand its sacred importance and its devastatingly monumental loss to many nations and many religions throughout the world over the centuries since the loss of King Solomon's temple, here are a few pictures of recreation of the Ark of the Covenant from the exact specifications given by God to Moses within the Holy Books.

Please note that some of the size details set forth in the Holy Books, are still questioned by scholars, today, such as the true length of the biblical "cubit" and, therefore, there are slightly different artistic renderings, however this is the closest that artists, goldsmiths and other craftsmen of today, could best represent what it actually looked like. 

Of especial note...please take an extra moment to look inside the Ark of the Covenant, where you will find the detailed representations of the 10 Commandments on the 2 stone tablets, the Golden Pot of Manna and Aaron's rod.

Within Freemasonry, it is sometimes easy to get so caught up in memorizing our many symbols, that we actually forget what they symbolize.  We learn that the 3 columns represent Wisdom, Strength and Beauty...and believe that once we have learned it as such, it ends there. 

Does it?


It is my hope that you will now be able to see with the "light" of true understanding,... the Wisdom, the Strength and the Beauty of God's "Footstool".

...  Brought to you by the best modern-day operative artisans of their crafts, spanning both the Science of Geometry and the Arts


Speaking of Bibles, why is it that Freemasonry embraces (read as:  purchases) such archaically-worded Bibles? 

Perhaps it is an oversight, or perhaps Grand Lodges believe that they more closely resemble the original Hebrew texts.  But, in the interests of Masonic education and Masonic retention, I call upon Grand Lodges to help me in respect to this issue. 

My Torah is written in both Hebrew and English.  The English version is in easy-to-read, non-archaic English...much like the New International Version of the Bible. 

The Bible and other Holy Books are meant to be read, not to be placed into a drawer with the Master Mason apron. 

OK, I'm finished "ranting", here, but, I do think this issue needs to be addressed.  In the meantime, I will be switching to my copy of the New International version of the Bible.



Today, the Masonic altar, within the Masonic Lodge, upon which resides the Holy Book(s), is a symbol of our place of communion with the Supreme Architect of the Universe.  However, in ancient times, they were a place of sacrifice,...atonement,...and communion with the Supreme Architect.  Today, as then, ...each of us must sacrifice ourselves up to the Great Architect, atone for our sins and only then, may we commune with Him.

Altars are usually found in sacred places such as shrines, temples and churches.  All major religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, etc. have altars.  Even the pagans built altars to their gods.

Historically, an altar is an elevated place, pedestal or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted or upon which sacrifices may be offered.  Both the Altar and its utensils were considered to be sacred, and the priests had to vest and wash their hands before touching them...even when removing the ashes from it.

The Masonic altar within the Masonic Lodge represents the sanctity of the Altar of Incense within the Holy of Holies (Sanctum Sanctorum) in King Solomon's temple. 

The scriptures in the Holy books tell us that each of the men, below, erected an altar to God.  God commanded that each of them build an altar unto Him and in many places in the scripture, He specified the exact material, size and even the material which the tools were made of that they should or should not use in its creation. 

Their quest to commune with our Creator, even though they did not possess a Masonic altar, is the same quest which Freemasons are in search of...that of being pleasing in our Creator's eye and therefore, to receive His blessings. 

While Masonic ritual is different from Church dogmas, (just as each Church/Temple's dogmas are different from one another), the desire to "reap the plenty" of God's blessings is universal.  Like each of our ancient forefathers before us, our Masonic altar is symbolic of our quest to commune with our Creator.


In the scriptures, an altar was erected by each of these men: 

Noah  (Genesis 8:20) (Unknown construction)

Abraham  (Genesis 12:7, 13:4, 22:9)  (Unknown construction, but most
                probably of stone)

Isaac  (Genesis 26:25) (Unknown construction, but most probably of

Jacob  (Genesis 33:20; 35:1-3)  (Made of stone)

Moses  (Exodus 17:15)  Made of brass.

Moses (Exodus 20:24)  Made of earth

Moses (Exodus 20:25)  Made of unhewn stone.

Moses  (Exodus 27:1-8)  Made of shittim (acacia) wood.

King Solomon  (2Chronicles 4)  Made of brass.

(Pre-Solomon's Temple)

The altar which Moses and the Children of Israel moved with them as they wandered through the wilderness after leaving Egypt was made of shittim (acacia) wood, overlaid with brass.  Except for a mesh grate which was placed inside half way down, on which the wood sat for the burning of the sacrifices, it was hollow.

The area under the grate was filled with earth. There were rings set on the two opposite sides of it, through which poles could be placed for carrying it. These poles were also made of shittim wood, covered with brass.  Its construction is described in (Exodus 27:1-8).


Later, after Solomon's Temple was built, there were actually two altars...They were the Altar of Burnt Offering, (outdoors) and the Altar of Incense, (indoors).

Altar of Burnt Offering:

The Altar of Burnt Offering, was used outdoors.  As its name implies, it was where the children of Israel offered animal and bird sacrifices to God.

"And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out:  and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn, thereon the fat of the peace offerings."...(Leviticus 6:12).

"The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."...(Leviticus 6:13)

Three Fires:  Three separate piles of wood burned upon the Altar of Burnt

1.  The first and largest of these was the Altar of Burnt Offerings, where
     all the portions of the sacrifices were burned.

2.  The second fire provided the coals for the Altar of Incense within the

3.  The third fire was the Perpetual Fire, which constantly burned on the
     altar.  Nothing was ever placed on it, and no coals were taken from it.
     Its sole purpose was to fulfill the commandment that there be a
     perpetual fire.

Altar of Incense:

The second altar was the Altar of Incense, which was used indoors, upon which the priests offered prayers. 

The choicest branches of fig were used for the second fire, ...the coals from which were taken for the Altar of Incense which stood within the Holy Place, before the Veil,  by the Ark of the Covenant. 

The burning of the incense symbolized the prayers of the people rising up to God ...(Psalm 141:2); (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4).

The offering of incense had to take place after the sacrifice, because only after their atonement could communion with God take place.  After the offering of incense, the priests pronounced the Priestly Blessing upon the people.


Masonic Altar

All altars including the Masonic Altar are  "Tables of the Lord".

Today, religious altars are a place whereupon we offer our sacrifice, atonement and our reverent communion before the Supreme Architect of the Universe.

The Masonic Altar is a symbol of our reverent communion before the Supreme Architect of the Universe's All Seeing Eye.

The Pot of Incense is a symbol of our prayers of communion which are lifted up to the Supreme Architect. 

(Leviticus 16:13):  "And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:"



Our Masonic Blazing Star, not to be confused with the 5-Pointed Star, is one of the most important symbols of Freemasonry and makes its appearance in several of the Degrees.

The information, below is attributed to Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929 in which Masonic scholars define the Masonic Star of Freemasonry.

Hutchinson said: “It is the first and most exalted object that demands our attention in the Lodge.”

Like many other Freemason symbols, it undoubtedly derives this importance, first, from the repeated use that is made of it as a Masonic emblem; and second, from its great antiquity, as a symbol derived from older systems.

Part of the Furniture of the Lodge:  In the earliest monitors, immediately after the revival of 1717, the Masonic Blazing Star is not mentioned, but it was not long before it was introduced. In the instructions of 1735, it is detailed as a part of the furniture of a Lodge, with the explanation that the “Mosaic Pavement is the Ground Floor of the Lodge, the Blazing Star, the Centre, and the Indented Tarsel, the Border round about it!”

Star of Bethlehem:  In the lectures credited to Dunckerley and adopted by the Grand Lodge, the Blazing Star was said to represent “the star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, proclaiming to mankind the nativity of the Son of God, and here conducting our spiritual progress to the Author of our redemption.”

3 Ornaments of the Lodge:  In the Prestonian lecture, the Masonic Blazing Star, with the Mosaic Pavement and the Tesselated Border, are called the Ornaments of the Lodge.

The Prestonian lecture goes on to explain:

Moses on the Mount:  “The Masonic Blazing Star, or glory in the center, reminds us of that awful period when the Almighty delivered the two tables of stone, containing the 10 commandments to His faithful servant, Moses on Mount Sinai, when the rays of His divine glory shone so bright that none could behold it without fear and trembling. It also reminds us of the omnipresence of the Almighty, overshadowing us with His divine love, and dispensing His blessings amongst us; and by its being placed in the center, it further reminds us, that wherever we may be assembled together, God is in the midst of us, seeing our actions, and observing the secret intents and movements of our hearts.”

Divine Providence

Star of Bethlehem:
 In the lectures taught by Webb, and very generally adopted in the United States, the Masonic Blazing Star is said to be “commemorative of the star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our Saviour’s nativity,” and it is subsequently explained as hieroglyphically representing Divine Providence.

Prudence:  In Hutchinson’s system, the Masonic Blazing Star is considered a symbol of Prudence…for Prudence is the rule of all Virtues; Prudence is the path which leads to every degree of propriety; Prudence is the channel where self-approbation flows for ever; she leads us forth to worthy actions, and as a Blazing Star, enlighteneth us through the dreary and darksome paths of this life”…(Spirit of Masonry, edition of 1775, Lecture 5, Page 111).

Back to Divine Providence:  But the commemorative allusion to the Star of Bethlehem seeming to some to be objectionable, from its peculiar application to the Christian religion, at the revision of the lectures made in 1843 by the Baltimore Convention, this explanation was omitted and the allusion to Divine Providence, alone, was retained.

The Creator:  The Freemasons on the Continent of Europe, speaking of the symbol, say: “It is no matter whether the figure of which the Masonic Blazing Star forms the center be a square, triangle, or circle, it still represents the sacred name of God, as an universal spirit who enlivens our hearts, who purifies our reason, who increases our knowledge, and who makes us wiser and better men.”

In the lectures revised by Doctor Hemming and adopted by the Grand Lodge of England at the Union in 1813, and now constituting the approved lectures of that jurisdiction, we find the following definition:

The Sun:  “The Blazing Star, or glory in the center, refers us to the sun, which enlightens the earth with its refulgent rays, dispensing its blessings to mankind at large and giving light and life to all things here below.”

Hence, we find that at various times the Masonic Blazing Star has been declared to be a symbol of

1. Divine Providence
2. The Star of Bethlehem
3. Prudence
4. Beauty
5. The Sun

Before we can attempt to decide upon these various opinion, and adopt the true signification, it is necessary to extend our investigations into the antiquity of the emblem, and inquire what was the meaning given to it by the nations who first made it a symbol.

Sabaism, or worship of the stars, was one of the earliest deviations from the true system of religion. One of its causes was the universally established doctrine among the idolatrous nations of antiquity, that each star was animated by the soul of a hero god, who had once dwelt incarnate upon earth. Hence, in the hieroglyphical system, the star denoted a god.

The Prophet Amos:  To this signification, allusion is made by the prophet Amos (Amos 5:26), when he says to the Israelites, while reproaching them for their idolatrous habits: “But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chium, your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.”

Egyptian Idolatry:  This idolatry was early learned by the Israelites from their Egyptian taskmasters; and so unwilling were they to abandon it, that Moses found it necessary strictly to forbid the worship of anything “that is in heaven above”; notwithstanding which we find the Jews repeatedly committing the sin which had been so expressly forbidden.

Saturn was the star to whose worship they were more particularly addicted under the names of Moloch and Chium, (already mentioned in the passage quoted from Amos). The planet Saturn was worshipped under the names of Moloch, Malcolm or Milcom by the Ammonites, the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians, and under that of Chium by the Israelites in the desert. Saturn was worshiped among the Egyptians under the name of Raiphan, or as it is called in the Septuagint, Remphan. (For more about the Septuagint.

(Acts 7:43): St. Stephen, quoting the passage of Amos, says: “ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of your god, Remphan”. (also see Acts 7:43).

Hale, in his Analysis of Chronology, says in alluding to the above passage:

“There is no direct evidence that the Israelites worshiped the Dog-Star in the wilderness, except this passage; but the indirect is very strong, drawn from the general prohibition of the worship of the sun, moon and stars, to which they must have been prone.

This was peculiarly an Egyptian idolatry, where the Dog-Star was worshipped, as notifying by his heliacal rising, or emersion from the sun’s rays, the regular commencement of the periodical inundation of the Nile.

The Israelite sculptures at the cemetery of Kibroth-Hattaavah, or graves of lust, in the neighborhood of Sinai, remarkably abound in hieroglyphics of the Dog-Star, represented as a human figure with a dog’s head.

There is express evidence that they sacrificed to the Dog-Star. In Josiah’s description of idolatry, where the Syriac Mazaloth (improperly termed planets) denotes the Dog-Star; in Arabic, Mazaroth.”

Notwithstanding a few discrepancies that may have occurred in the Masonic lectures, as arranged at various periods and by different authorities, the concurrent testimony of the ancient religions, and the hieroglyphic language, prove that the star was a symbol of God.

It was so used by the prophets of old in their metaphorical style, and it has so been generally adopted by Masonic instructors.

Masonic Blazing Star...As A Christian Emblem

The application of the Masonic Blazing Star as an emblem of the Savior has been made by those writers who give a Christian explanation of our emblems, and to the Christian Freemason, such an application will not be objectionable.

But those who desire to refrain from anything that may tend to impair the tolerance of our system, will be disposed to embrace a more universal explanation, which may be received alike by all the disciples of the Order, whatever may be their peculiar religious views.


Such persons will rather accept the expression of Doctor Oliver, who, though much disposed to give a Christian character to our Institution, says in his Symbol of Glory, page 292, “The Great Architect of the Universe is therefore symbolized in Freemasonry by the Blazing Star, as the Herald of our salvation.”

Waved Pointed Star:  John Guillim, the editor in 1610 of the book A Display of Heraldrie, says: “All stars should be made with waved points, because our eyes tremble at beholding them.”

In the early Tracing Board, the star with five straight points is superimposed upon another of five waving points.

But the latter (five waving–points) star has now been abandoned and we have in the representations of the present day, the incongruous (to Mackey) symbol of a Masonic blazing star with five straight points.

Letter G:  In the center of the star, there was always placed the letter “G”, which like the Hebrew word, “Yod”, was a recognized symbol of God, and thus the symbolic reference of the Blazing Star to Divine Providence is greatly strengthened.

Credit and full acknowledgement is given to Albert Mackey, Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1, Page 138 and 139, 1929, for the above information.

The Masonic Blazing star is not only a Masonic symbol, but an ancient and historic one. 

From early days, Man has always looked to the heavens for guidance.  

The Sun God:  The sun is also a star.  We find that early man worshipped the Sun as a god.  In Egypt, we find that stars were also chosen as symbols of earthly heroes who once lived on earth and whose spirits were immortalized in the form of a tangible (something you can see, feel or touch) object. 

The Dog Star:  Egyptian idols and gravestone contain representations of Sirius, the Dog Star.  The Dog Star is actually 2 stars called Sirius A and Sirius B.  Due to the fact that the Dog Star is 8.6 light years away, without a telescope of the magnitudinal category of the Hubble Telescope, using the naked eye, we see it as one star.  Sirius is the brightest star in the sky because it is approximately twice the size of our sun. 

Heliacal Rising:  The Dog Star has a heliacal rising.  When the Dog Star would first become visible on the Eastern horizon approximately once a year, ancient peoples made note of it.  A heliacal rising is when the star becomes visible upon the Eastern horizon at dawn, travels through the sky and "sets" in the West, much like our sun.  Our sun and moon are visible for approximately 12 hours each day.  However, depending upon a star's placement in the sky, a star with a heliacal rising may appear on the Eastern horizon and slowly "rise"  higher in the sky each day, until it "sets" in the West several months later.

Egyptian Calendar:  The ancient Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius and devised a method of telling the time at night based on the heliacal risings of 36 stars called decan stars (one for each 10° segment of the 360° circle of the zodiac/calendar).

Agricultural Calendar:  The Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the ancient Greeks also used the heliacal risings of various stars for the timing of agricultural activities.

Seafaring Travelers used the stars as a guide, much as we use a map, today. 

Star of Bethlehem:  For Christians, it represents God's light, ...the star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to the manger whereupon they found the Son of God.  It is for that reason that the star resides at the pinnacle (the very top) of every Christmas tree, as a symbol of God's guidance.

Astronomy and Astrology:  The ancients believed that the stars in the sky were connected to earthly events. Miracles were routinely associated with the birth of important people.  Hence, the study of astronomy and astrology were conceived.  While many people scoff at these beliefs, today; we must also be cognizant of the deeply held belief in this system. 

Halley's Comet:  For those people who reject this theory completely, we must not forget that famous Freemason, Mark Twain, American author and humorist, who was born in 1835, two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley's Comet.  In 1909, he is quoted as having said: 

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835.  It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it."  His comment was prophetic.  He died in April of 1910, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

From ancient civilizations to modern man,...our Masonic Blazing Star is a symbol of Divine Providence...the symbol of Deity which represents:

Omnipresence (the fact that the Creator is always present in our lives)

Omniscience (the fact that the Creator bothsees and knows everything about us, including our thoughts and the secrets of our hearts)

...And throughout history, the Masonic Blazing Star is an ancient emblem of faith which shines for each of us, no matter which specific religion we embrace



The Cable Tow is part of the dress of a candidate in which he agrees to go to the aid of a Brother with all his power..."if it be within the length of his tow rope.

The length of rope is symbolic of the first brother's abilities.


It is defined also as a cable's length, which is symbolically measured as 3 miles for an Entered Apprentice.

With its 2 ends, it binds a Mason to the Fraternity as well as bonds the Fraternity to the Mason.



Corn, wine and oil were the Masonic wages of our ancient brethren. 

How do you earn Masonic wages? 

Operative Freemasonry Wages:

Master of the Work:  In ancient operative times, the Master of the Work received the highest wages.  His wages were corn, wine, oil and sometimes the coin of the realm.

Fellowcraft and Entered Apprentice wages were less than the Master, but they were kept in "mete and drynk" (meat and drink).

Speculative Freemasonry Wages:  In Speculative Freemasonry, Masonic wages are not earned in coin.  They are the rewards earned through acts of kindness, good deeds of service, and the gift of your time to others. 

They are earned by Mentoring other brethren, helping others, remembering the widow and the orphan and visiting the sick.  In short, wages are earned much as the biblical verse says:

"Do unto others as you would HAVE them do unto you."

From the Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey, Vol. 1, page 244, 1929

Corn, Wine and Oil

Corn, wine and oil are the Masonic elements of consecration.  The adoption of these symbols is supported by the highest antiquity.  Corn, wine and oil were the most important productions of Eastern countries; they constituted the wealth of the people, and were esteemed as the supports of life and the means of refreshment.

David enumerates them among the greatest blessings that we enjoy, and speaks of them as:

Psalm 104: 15:   "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart".

Anointed With Oil:

In devoting anything to religious purposes, the anointing with oil was considered as a necessary part of the ceremony, a rite which has descended to Christian nations.

  • The tabernacle in the wilderness, and all its holy vessels, were, by God's express command, anointed with oil;
  • Aaron and his two sons were set apart for the priesthood with the same ceremony;
  • ...and the prophets and kings of Israel were consecrated to their offices by the same rite.

Hence, Freemasons' Lodges, which are but temples to the Most High, are consecrated to the sacred purposes for which they were built by strewing corn, wine and oil upon the Lodge, the emblem of the Holy Ark.

Thus does this mystic ceremony instruct us to be nourished with the hidden manna of righteousness, to be refreshed with the Word of the Lord, and to rejoice with joy unspeakable in the riches of divine grace.

Discourse iv, 81:  "wherefore do you carry you that in the pilgrimage of human life you are to impart:

  • a portion of your bread to feed the hungry,
  • to send a cup of your wine to cheer the sorrowful,
  • and to pour the healing oil of your consolation into the wounds which sickness hath made in the bodies, or affliction rent in the heart, of your fellow-travellers?"

Corn...The Staff of Life:  In processions, the corn alone is carried in a golden pitcher, the wine and oil are placed in silver vessels, and this is to remind us that the first, as a necessity and the "staff of life" is of more importance and more worthy of honor than the others, which are but comforts.

End of Albert Mackey dissertation on Corn, Wine and Oil, our Masonic Wages. 

Vol. 2 page 1110, 1929

Wine:  ...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.

End of Albert Mackey dissertation on Wine, our Masonic Wages.

Vol. 2 page 731, 1929

Oil:  The Hebrews anointed their Kings, Prophets and High Priests with oil mingled with the richest spices.  They also anointed themselves with oil on all festive occasions, whence the expression in

Psalm xlv, 7:  "God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness."

End of Albert Mackey dissertation on Oil, as part of our Masonic Wages.

...And, thus, your unspotted white lambskin Masonic apron is a symbol reminding you of the necessity of the purity of heart, and uprightness of conduct in order to earn the Masonic wages which are due you.

Your final wages will be earned when you leave this world and travel to "that House not made with hands", where you will receive your Masonic wages for a life well spent in the "coin" of that realm.


The 47th Problem of Euclid, also called the 47th Proposition of Euclid as well as the Pythagorean Theorem is represented by 3 squares. 

To the speculative Mason, the 47th Problem of Euclid may be somewhat mysterious.  Many Masonic books simply describe it as "A general love of the Arts and Sciences".  However, to leave its explanation at that would be to omit a subject which is very important... not only of Pythagoras's Theory, but of the Masonic Square.

We are told that Euclid, (the Father of Geometry), who lived several hundred years after Pythagoras, worked long and hard to solve the 3:4:5: equation...and upon solving it, cried "Eureka!"...which means "I have found it".  He then sacrificed a hecatomb (a sacrificial offering to God of up to 100 oxen or cattle).

Ahhh...but, it is so much more than just the 3:4:5: equation.  The math is the key to understanding its broader and universal meaning.

The Pythagorean Theorem, also known as the
47th Problem of Euclid or  3:4:5:

"In any right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse."  (the hypotenuse of a right triangle...which is the longest "leg"...or the 5 side of the 3:4:5:).

The Right Triangle, below, shows the sides of 3, 4 and 5.  The angle created between the 3 (side) and the 4 (side) is the Right angle of the square.

A little later, when we begin to build it, (with sticks and string), you will place your sticks at the 3 corners of this Right triangle.

The square of 3 is 9. 

The square of 4 is 16.  The sum of 9 and 16 is 25.  (25 represents the hypotenuse). 

The square root of 25 is 5

Therefore, the equation is written:  3:4:5:

When we write down the square of the 1st four numbers (1, 4, 9 and 16), we see that by subtracting each square from the next one, we get 3, 5 and 7. 

Ok, let's try it.

1, 4, 9, 16

4-1 =3

9-4 = 5

16-9 = 7


3:5:7:  These are the steps in Masonry.  They are the steps in the Winding Stair which leads to the Middle Chamber and they are the number of brethren which form the number of Master Masons necessary to open a lodge of:

Master Mason:  3

Fellow Craft:  5

Entered Apprentice:  7

These are the sacred numbers.

OK, stay with me now...the major math is over.

The essence of the Pythagorean Theorem (also called the 47th Problem of Euclid) is about the importance of establishing an architecturally true (correct) foundation based on use of the square.

Why is this so important to speculative Masons who only have a symbolic square and not the actual square (the tool) of an operative Mason?

The 47th Problem of Euclid is the mathematical equation (the knowledge) that allows a Master Mason to:

"Square his square when it gets out of square." 

...I heard that!  You're saying to yourself:  "Why is that so important to ME in today's world...unless I'm a carpenter? Home Depot is only a few miles away."

How to Create a Perfect Square using the 47th Problem of Euclid

The knowledge of how to form a perfect square without the slightest possibility of error has been accounted of the highest importance in the art of building from the time of the Harpedonaptae, (and before).  Harpedonaptae, literally translated, means "rope stretchers" or "rope fasteners" of ancient Egypt (long before Solomon's Temple was built). 

The Harpedonaptae were architectural specialists who were called in to lay out the foundation lines of buildings.  They were highly skilled and relied on astronomy (the stars) as well as mathematical calculations in order to form perfect square angles for each building.

In the Berlin museum is a deed, written on leather, dating back to 2000 B.C. (long before Solomon's time), which tells of the work of these rope stretchers.

Historically, a building's cornerstone was laid at the northeast corner of the building.  Why in the northeast?

The ancient builders first laid out the north and south lines by observation of the stars and the sun...especially the North Star, (Polaris), which they believed at that time to be fixed in the sky.

Only after laying out a perfect North and South line could they use the square to establish perfect East and West lines for their foundations.

The 47th Problem of Euclid established those true East and West lines, so the rope stretchers could ascertain a perfect 90 degree angle to the North/South line which they had established using the stars. 

If you'd like to perform this yourself, it is actually quite easy...and once you get the necessary pieces together, would be a great "Show-and-Tell" educational instruction piece within your lodge.

The instructions are below, but it is easier to follow the instructions in a step-by-step manner (with string and sticks in hand) than it is to only read them for a complete understanding. 

Better still, print numbers 1 through 4, below and then get your sticks and your string ready.

When you finish, like Euclid, (believed to be a Master Mason), you, too, will probably cry "Eureka!", ...just as I did. 

The 47th Problem of Euclid

Unlike the Harpedonaptae, you have no way to establish true North and South...unless you use a compass. But a compass isn't necessary for this demonstration.

However, you WILL be able to create a perfect square...with only sticks and string, just as our ancestors did.

You will need 4 thin sticks which are strong enough to stick them into soft soil, 40 inches of string and a black magic marker.  Actually, any length will work, but this size is very manageable. 

The larger the foundation which the Mason wished to build, naturally, the longer his rope (string) would have to be.


1.  Place your 1st stick flat on the ground so that its ends point north
    and south.

2.  Next, take a string (it's much more unwieldy if you use rope) and tie
     knots in it 3 inches apart.  This will divide the string into 12 equal

    Tie the 2 ends of the string together (this is your 12th knot) ...again
    ...remember that from knot-to-knot must be 3 inches apart.  The
    divisions between knots must be correct and equal or it will not work.

    Your string's total length is 36".  After you've tied the end-to-end knot,
    you may cut off the excess 4" of string. 

    If you have more than 4" of string left or less than 4" of string left,
    you need to re-measure the lengths between your knots.

    Your string is now circular in shape and has 12 knots and 12 divisions       between the knots. (see the Right Triangle, again, below)


    Note:  The Operative Masons of old, used rope, however, because
    much of the length of the rope is within the knot, if you use rope,
    you must use a longer piece, measure each division, tie your knot,   
    and then measure your next 3 inch  division before you cut the length
    of rope, instead of marking the entire rope while it is lying flat and
    then tying your knots.

3.  Stab your 2nd stick in the ground near either end of your North/South
     stick and arrange a knot at the stick.  Stretch 3 divisions away from it
     in any direction (9 inches) and insert the
3rd stick in the ground, then
     place the
4th stick so that it falls on the knot between the 4-part and
     the 5-part division (12 inches). 

    This forces the creation of a 3:4:5: right triangle.  The angle between
    the 3 units and the 4 units is, of necessity, a square or right angle.

4.  Now, move your 3rd and 4th sticks until they become a right angle
    (90 degrees) to your North/South stick.

Congratulations!  You now have not only the ability to square your square, but to lay a geometrically correct cornerstone for your new foundation!

However, usage of the 47th Problem of Euclid doesn't end here...

Here is the rest of the story...

The Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid in Today's World

With this simple geometric 3:4:5 equation of how to create a 90 degree, Right Angle:

1.  Man can reach out into space and measure the distance of the stars
     ...in light years!

2.  He can survey land, mark off boundaries and construct every single
    thing on Earth.

3.  He can build homes, churches and buildings, and with the knowledge
     of this simple equation...he can begin digging on opposite sides of a
     mountain and dig a straight tunnel through the center of it...that
     meets exactly at the center!

4.  He can navigate the oceans and be able to locate himself in the
     middle of the water (with no land in sight)...AND is also able to
     calculate how far he has come and how much farther he must go!

The 47th Problem of Euclid, also known as the 47th Proposition of Euclid...or the Pythagorean Theorem teaches each of us to not only be general lovers of the arts and sciences, but to stand in awe of the God-given knowledge with which you can take a piece of string and 4 sticks...and be able to find your way home!...from anywhere on Earth, on the Sea or in the Heavens.

The 47th Problem of Euclid represents such a perfect symbol of Freemasonry...encompassing both art and science, that the simple knowledge of it demands a breathtaking awe to which we may only bow our heads in reverence at the perfection, the universality and the infinite wisdom of that which has been given to us by God.

With the knowledge of this simple geometric equation, (provided by the 47th Problem of Euclid), the word "Eureka!" almost palls in expressing the fundamental powers which our Creator has bestowed upon us!

...AND it all begins by simply learning how to Square your Square.


Oh!..., and one last thing you have also learned (but may not have realized it)...

This is why the old antique, wooden carpenter squares which you have seen or have heard about have one longer leg. Their "legs" were created using the "3" and "4" part of the 3:4:5 equation (the 5 is the hypotenuse) using the 47th Problem of Euclid.  Equal length "legs" on modern day (carpenter) squares are relatively "new" technology..

Now, take another look at the Masonic symbol for the 47th Problem of Euclid, above. You will see that the square on the top-left measures 3 units on each of its sides; the square on the top-right measures 4 units on each of its sides and the bottom square measures 5 units on each of its sides.

You can now see the right triangle (white space in the middle) which is surrounded by the 3 "boxes".

From this day forward, when you see this graphic image denoting the 47th Problem of Euclid,...this Masonic symbol, it will not just look like 3 odd-shaped black boxes to you. You will see the 3:4:5 equation and the square (right angle) within them and know that you have the power to square your square within your own Middle Chamber.

...And THAT is the Rest of the Story!



White Masonic Lambskin Apron

Operative Freemasonry:  In operative Freemasonry, an apron was worn by operative masons to preserve their garments from stain.

Speculative Freemasonry: In speculative Freemasonry, the apron reminds us that we must keep ourselves away from moral defilement; or in the more figurative language as read in the Holy Scripture; we must keep our garments white and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

From the New Testament:  "Unspotted From the World" 

James 1:21 - "Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness."

James 1:26-27:  "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

Gallatians 5:19-21:  "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

The Masonic Lamb:  

Masonic Lamb:  From Albert Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 1, page 558 and 559, 1929

First Degree:  In Ancient Craft Masonry, the Lamb is the symbol of innocence; thus in the instructions of the First Degree:  "In all ages the Lamb has been deemed an emblem of innocence." 

Hence it is required that a Freemason's Apron should be made of lambskin.  In the advanced Degrees, and in the Degrees of chivalry, as in Christian iconography, or illustration, the lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ. 

The introduction of this Christian symbolism of the lamb comes from the expression of Saint John the Baptist, who exclaimed, on seeing Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God"; which was undoubtedly derived from the prophetic writers, who compare the Messiah suffering on the cross to a lamb under the knife of a butcher. 

Paschal Lamb...also called the Holy Lamb:  This was the lamb offered up by the Jews at the paschal feast, (the Passover).  This has been transferred to Christian symbolism, to Easter, and naturally to Chivalric Freemasonry; and hence we find it among the symbols of modern Templarism.

Lamb of God in Christian Art:  The paschal lamb, as a Christian and Masonic symbol, also called the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, first appeared in Christian art after the sixth century.  This is depicted as a lamb standing on the ground, holding by the left forefoot a banner, on which a cross is inscribed.

This paschal lamb, or Lamb of God, has been adopted as a symbol by the Knights Templar, being borne in one of the banners of the Order, and constituting, with the square which it surmounts, the jewel of the Generalissimo of a Commandery.

The lamb is a symbol of Christ; the cross, of His passion; and the banner of His victory over death and hell.

Knights Templar Deed:  Barrington states (Archaelogia ix, page 134) that in a Deed of the English Knights Templar, granting lands in Cambridgeshire, the seal is a Holy Land, and the arms of the master of the Temple at London were argent, a cross gules, and on the nombril point thereof a Holy Lamb, that is, a Paschal or Holy Lamb on the center of a red cross in a white field.

End of Albert Mackey's dissertation on the Masonic Lamb

Sacrificial Lamb and the Passover

Long before the Knights Templar, Freemasonry, and even Christianity, itself, existed, we repeatedly read of the sacrificial lamb throughout the Holy Scriptures, beginning in Exodus.  Exodus is the second book as found in first the Torah, and later, in the Old Testament.  The Book of Exodus was written by Moses who lived approximately 1500 years before Christ.

Exodus 12:21:  (from the Torah)

Then, Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them:  "Draw out and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover lamb.

Exodus 12:21:  (from the King James Bible)

"Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover."

The name “Passover” refers to the fact that G_d “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.

Christian Lamb:  For those of the Christian faith, the lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ and is celebrated at Easter.   

Jewish Lamb of the Passover:  For those of the Jewish faith, the lamb is a symbol of God's mercy and is celebrated each Spring of the year with a special seder (a dinner or feast).

Masonic Lamb:  Like many other Masonic symbols, the Masonic lamb is a symbol which has been brought down to us from the Holy Scriptures.

It represents purity in all forms...physically, mentally and spiritually



The Masonic Eye is symbolic of the Eye of God.  It is the symbol of His Divine watchfulness and His ever present care of the universe.

The All Seeing Eye, like many other Masonic symbols, has been borrowed from the past from the nations of antiquity.


Hebrews and Egyptians:  Both the Hebrews and Egyptians appear to have derived the use of the Masonic Eye from the natural inclination of figurative minds to select a human organ as the symbol of its closest matching function...much as the foot denotes swiftness, the arm, strength and the hand, fidelity.

Psalm 34:15:  "The eyes of the Lord are upon the
                     righteous, and his ears are open unto
                     their cry."

Psalm 121:4:  "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall
                     neither slumber nor sleep."

From the Book of Conversation of God with Moses on Mount Sinai, translated by the Reverend W. Cureton, taken from an Arabic manuscript of the 15th century and published by the Philobiblon Society of London:

"Then Moses said to the Lord, O' Lord, dost thou sleep or not?

The Lord said unto Moses:

"I never sleep:  but take a cup and fill it with water."

Then, Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him.

Then, the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he slept, and the cup fell from his hand and the water which was therein was spilled.

Then Moses awoke from his sleep.

Then God said to Moses:

"I declare by my power, and by my glory, that if I were to withdraw my providence from the heavens and the earth, for no longer a space of time that thou hast slept, they would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like as the cup fell from thy hand.""

The Egyptian God, Osiris:  The Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open eye and placed this hieroglyphic of him in all their temples.

His symbolic name, on the monuments was represented by the eye accompanying a throne to which was sometimes added an abbreviated figure of the god and sometimes what has been called a hatchet, but which may as correctly be supposed to be a representation of a square.

Solomon in Proverbs 15:13

Solomon alludes to this when he says:  "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding (keeping watch upon) the evil and the good."

The Creator is without beginning and without end because He always is and has always been.  He is both Omnipotent (having unlimited universal power) and Omnipresent (the quality of being everywhere at the same time).

The Masonic Eye of God watches over each of us. 



The Masonic gavel is an emblem of authority used by the Master of the lodge to show his executive power over the assemblage by punctuating its actions.

In this capacity, order is maintained and a structured outcome to the proceedings is achieved. 

The common gavel is also one of the working tools of the Entered Apprentice.

Operative Gavel

In the operative stonemason era, the common gavel was a tool used to hew (break) the rough edges from the stones (ashlars) in order to perfectly fit them into place.

Speculative Gavel

In speculative Freemasonry, the Masonic Gavel is used to symbolically divest the heart and consciousness of all the vices and superfluities (excesses) of life in order to ready ourselves as if we were living stones, open to be shaped into a spiritual being that is pleasing to our Creator.

A True Masonic Gavel

What does a true Masonic gavel look like?  The head of the gavel is rectangular, flat on one end and can be slightly pinched (as you see, below) or come to a point on the other end.

Photo Courtesy of MasonicGavels.com
All Rights Reserved


Not An Auctioneer's or Judge's Gavel

The lightweight, rounded-end gavels such as the one, below, commonly used by auctioneers and presiding judges are inappropriate for use in a Masonic lodge.


If your lodge is currently using a gavel which looks like the one, above, please give thoughtful consideration to replacing it with its correct and historic Masonic counterpart. 

Not a Setting Maul

A Masonic gavel should not be confused with the Setting Maul, which is one of the working tools of the Fellowcraft.  The setting maul is a heavy wooden hammer with which the operative mason set (knocked) the polished stones into proper alignment.  In the third degree, it is also the final weapon with which the Master was said to have been slain, and, therefore, it is a symbol of violent death.


Traveling Gavel Program

In the United States, some districts or groups of lodges which are geographically close to one another have what is called a "traveling" gavel. 

Note:  This gavel is not the Master's gavel.  This traveling gavel is usually engraved with the district or area's name on it. 

The traveling gavel program is designed to promote visitation of other lodges, as a group.  Different districts and areas have varying rules on how to obtain the gavel.

Traveling Gavel Program Basic Rules:

·         As a courtesy to the Master, he must be informed of the intention of the visiting lodge members to attempt to obtain the gavel, previous to the visit.

·         Each visiting member must be able to show his dues card to the Master.

·         A minimum of 4 visiting members from the visiting lodge must be present in order to obtain the gavel.

·         Should 4 or more members from 2 different visiting lodges attend another lodge's meeting, (and be in possession of their dues cards), the lodge with the highest number of visiting members "wins" the gavel.

If these requirements are met, the lodge in possession of the traveling gavel "loses" it to the visiting lodge members, who take it back to their lodge...fully expecting a visit by another lodge, who, again, if they meet the requirements, will then take the traveling gavel back with them to their own lodge.

The traveling gavel program promotes fellowship and social interaction between lodges, each of whom compete to see how long their lodge can be in possession of the traveling gavel. 


Here is what Albert Mackey, noted American Masonic historian and scholar had to say about the tesselation of the Mosaic Pavement or Mosaic flooring, in which he defines the difference between "tarsel", "tessel" and "tassel".

...from Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929:

Mosaic work consists properly of many little stones of different colors united together in patterns to imitate a painting. It was much practiced among the Romans, who called it museum, whence the Italians get their musaico, the French their mosaique, and we our mosaics.  The idea that the work is derived from the fact that Moses used a pavement of colored stones in the tabernacle has been long since exploded by etymologists.

The Masonic tradition is that the floor of the Temple of Solomon was decorated with a mosaic pavement of black and white stones. There is no historical evidence to substantiate this statement. Samuel Lee, however, in his diagram of the Temple, represents not only the floors of the building, but of all the outer courts, as covered with such a pavement.

The Masonic idea was perhaps first suggested by this passage in the Gospel of Saint John xix, 13, "When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha." The word here translated Pavement is in the original Lithostroton, the very word used by Pliny to denote a mosaic pavement.

The Greek word, as well as its Latin equivalent is used to denote a pavement formed of ornamental stones of various colors, precisely what is meant by a Mosaic Pavement. There was, therefore, a part of the Temple which was decorated with a mosaic pavement. The Talmud informs us that there was such a pavement in the Conclave where the Grand Sanhedrin held its sessions.

By a little torsion of historical accuracy, the Freemasons have asserted that the ground floor of the Temple was a mosaic pavement, and hence as the Lodge is a representation of the Temple, that the floor of the Lodge should also be of the same pattern. The mosaic pavement is an old symbol of the Order.

It is met with in the earliest Rituals of the eighteenth century. It is classed among the ornaments of the Lodge in combination with the indented tassel and the blazing star. Its parti-colored stones of black and white have been readily and appropriately interpreted as symbols of the evil and good of human life.


In the earliest Catechisms of the eighteenth century, it is said that the furniture of a Lodge consists of a "Mosaic Pavement, Blazing Star, and Indented Tarsel." In more modern catechisms, the expression is "indented tassel," which is incorrectly defined to mean a tessellated border. Indented Tarsel is evidently a corruption of indented tassel, for a definition of which see Tessellated Border.

Mosaic Pavement, Blazing Star In the Lodge


We meet with this expression in some of the old Catechisms as a corruption of Trestle-Board.


In the English and French Tracing Boards of the First Degree, there are four tassels, one at each angle, which are attached to a cord that surrounds a tracing-board, and which constitutes the true tessellated border.

These four cords are described as referring to the four principal points, the Guttural, Pectoral, Manual, and Pedal, and through them to the four cardinal virtues, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice (see Tessellated Border, also Tulith).

The Hebrew word tsitsith means both fringes and tassels in the Old Testament.

Note Deuteronomy (xx, 12), where the older translation has fringes and the Revised Version gives borders, the latter agreeing with border of Mark (vi, 56) and Luke (viii, 44). Where the Revised Version has "border" throughout, the Authorized Version has "hem" in Matthew (ix, and xiv 36).

As symbols of great importance, their use was ordered in Numbers (xv, 3S, 40), "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments, throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God."

Tassels (Fringes) Worn Upon Jewish Garments, Today

Simon-Sez:  For more information about the fringes and tassels (tsitsith), mentioned in first the Jewish Torah and later in the Christian Old Testament, which are still worn by the Jews, today, see my page,Masonic Blue.  Now, back, to Dr. Mackey's dissertation about the Masonic Mosaic Pavement.


From the Latin "tessela", a little square stone.  Checkered, formed in little squares of Mosaic work.  Applied in Masonry to the Mosaic pavement of the Temple and to the border which surrounds the tracing board, probably incorrectly, in the latter instance.


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 Tesselated Border; and he defines the Tessellated Border to be "the skirt-work round the Lodge". 

Webb, in his lectures, teaches that the ornaments of a Lodge are the Mosaic pavement, the indented tessel, and the blazing star; and he defines the indented tessel to be that "beautifully tessellated border or skirting which surrounded the ground-floor of King Solomon's Temple.

The French call it "la houpe dentelee," which is literally the "indented tessel"; and they describe it as "a cord forming true-lovers' knots, which surrounds the tracing-board." 

The Germans call it "die Schnur von starken Faden," or the "cord of strong threads", and define it as a border surrounding the tracing-board of an Entered Apprentice, consisting of a cord tied in lovers' knots, with two tassels attached to the ends.

The idea prevalent in America, and derived from a misapprehension of the plate in the Monitor of Cross, that the tessellated border was a decorated part of the Mosaic pavement, and made like it of little square stones, does not seem to be supported by these definitions.  They all indicate that the "tessellated border" was a cord.

Mosaic Pavement Symbolism:  The interpretation of its symbolic meaning still further sustains this idea. 

Browne says "it alludes to that kind care of Providence which so cheerfully surrounds and keeps us within its protection whilst we justly and uprightly govern our lives and actions by the four cardinal virtues in divinity, namely temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice."  This last allusion is to the four tassels attached to the cord.

Webb says that it is "emblematic of those blessings and comforts which surround us, and which we hope to obtain by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence."

The French ritual says that it is intended "to teach the Mason that the society of which he constitutes a part surrounds the earth, and that distance, so far from relaxing the bonds which unite the members to each other, ought to draw them closer."

Lenning says that it symbolizes the fraternal bond by which all Masons are united.

But Gadicke is more precise.  He defines it as "the universal bond by which every Mason ought to be united to his brethren," and he says that "it should consist of sixty threads or yarns, because, according to the ancient statutes, no Lodge was allowed to have above sixty members."

Oliver (Landm., i., 174) says "the Tracing-Board is surrounded by an indented or tesselated border...at the four angles appear as many tassels."  But in the old English tracing-boards, the two lower tassels are often omitted.  They are, however, generally found in the French.

Lenning, speaking, I suppose, for the German, assigns to them but two.  Four tassels, are, however, necessary to complete the symbolism, which is said to be that of the four cardinal virtues.

The tessellated, more properly, therefore, the tasellated border consists of a cord intertwined with knots, to each end of which is appended a tassel.  It surrounds the border of the tracing-board, and appears at the top in the following form:


This indented border, which was made to represent a cord of black and white threads, was, I think, in time mistaken for tessellae, or little stones; an error probably originating in confounding it with the tesselated pavement, which was another one of the ornaments of the Lodge.

We  have for this symbol five different names: 

...in English, the indented tarsel, the indented tassel, the indented tessel, the tassellated border, and the tessellated border;

...in French, the houpe dentelee, or indented tessel; and,

...in German, the Schnur von starken Faden, or the cord of strong threads.

The question what is the true tessellated border would not be a difficult one to answer, if it were not for the variety of names given to it in the English rituals.  We know by tradition, and by engravings that have been preserved, that during the ceremonies of initiation in the early part of the last century, the symbols of the Order were marked out in chalk on the floor, and that this picture was encircled by a waving cord. 

This cord was ornamented with tassels, and formerly a border to the tracing on the floor was called the indented tassel, the cord and the tufts attached to it being the tassel, which, being by its wavy direction partly in and partly outside of the picture, was said to be indented.  This indented tassel was subsequently corrupted by illiterate Masons into indented tarsel, the appellation met with in some of the early catechisms.

Afterward, looking to its decoration with tassels and to its position as a border to the tracing-board, it was called thetassellated border.

In time, the picture on the floor was transferred to a permanent tracing-board, and then the tassels were preserved at the top, and the rest of the cord was represented around the board in the form of white and black angular spaces.  These were mistaken for little stones, and the tassellated border was called, by a natural corruption, the tessellated border.

Many years ago, when I first met with the idea of this corruption from tassellated to tessellated, which was suggested to Dr. Oliver by "a learned Scottish Mason," whose name he does not give, I was inclined to doubt its correctness.

Subsequent investigations have led me to change that opinion.  I think that I can readily trace the gradual steps of corruption, and change from the original name indented tassel, which the early French Masons had literally translated by houpe dentelee, to indented tarsel, and sometimes, according to Oliver, to indented trasel; then to tassellated border, and finally to tessellated border, the name which it now bears.

The form and the meaning of the symbol are now apparent.  The tessellated border, as it is called, is a cord, decorated with tassels, which surrounds the tracing-board of an Entered Apprentice, the said tracing-board being a representation of the Lodge, and it symbolizes the bond of love---the mystic tie---which binds the Craft wheresoever dispersed into one band of brotherhood.

(End of Dr. Mackey's dissertation about the Mosaic Pavement.)



The Masonic Sheaf of Corn, in King Solomon's day, represented part of the wages reaped from the Master Masons' labors. 

Today, it is used as a symbol of that time, long ago, mostly during the dedication, constitution and consecration of a new lodge and in the laying of cornerstones.  At those times, the Masonic Sheaf of Corn represents the fruit of our labors, our sacrifices and all we have done to deserve them.

The "Plenty" of the Harvest:

Corn, wine and oil have been associated with "the Harvest" and "the Plenty" since King Solomon's time...and before.

Masonic Wages:  When King Solomon requested of King Tyre the wood (cedar, fir and algum) which came from Lebanon, for which to build the Temple (Chronicles 2: 8), he promised payment of wheat, barley, wine and oil (Chronicles 2:10).

Masonic Charity:  The Masonic Sheaf of Corn represents charity to the less fortunate, as in these excerpts from the Bible. 

"When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it:  it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow:  that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands."
(Deuteronomy 24: 19)

"When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow."  (Deuteronomy 24: 20)

"When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward:  it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow."  (Deuteronomy 24:21)

Sheaf of Corn:

The Sheaf of Corn represented the "coin of the realm" to our ancient brethren, the people of Israel.  While we are paid in dollars and cents, today,... corn, wine and oil were the wages of the fruits of their labors.

Most Masonic scholars believe that the Masonic Sheaf of Corn in our Masonic ritual actually represents the more generic term, meaning "grain", in general.  This is why you sometimes hear mention of the Masonic Sheaf of Wheat, the Masonic Sheaf of Barley or the Masonic Sheaf of Grain used somewhat interchangeably. 

Here in the United States, we usually think of corn as large hybridized cobs which are some shade of yellow, white or variegated yellow / white.  At Halloween, we see Indian maize used in decorative Fall harvest displays, but not usually in the grocery store for human consumption.  Indian maize can be a solid color, but much of it is variegated colors of red, deep purple, dark yellow, light yellow, orange and almost white. 

No one knows for sure whether  "corn", as we know it in the United States, is the exact grain that the Hebrews in Israel during King Solomon's day grew for food, however Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor, written by Malcolm C. Duncan in 1866, uses the word "corn".  The King James version of the Bible mentions the word "corn over 100 times.  Whether this was a generic term to represent any grain used in breadstuffs or whether the name of the exact type of the grain was lost in one of the many translations of the Bible, is unknown.

Shibboleth:   The word "Shibboleth", (in Hebrew:  Sihlet-Shabioth) was used to distinguish friend from foe.  It is the interpretation of the test word used by the troops of Jephthah to distinguish the Ephraimites after the battle on the banks of the Jordan.  The reason it was used as the test word is because the Ephraimites' dialect was somewhat different than the troops of Jephthah and if they pronounced the word incorrectly, they failed the test.

"Shibboleth" has two meanings:

  • A place to cross the water (a waterford)
  • Corn (or, generically, grain), which is an emblem of the germination force of the seed.

Note:  There are also two jurisdictional interpretations of the word, Shibboleth: Some Grand Lodges use the word "waterfall" in lieu of the word "waterford".  

Fruits of the Earth:  However, in general it is believed that the Sheaf of Corn symbolizes the plentiful fruits of the Earth and those who are allowed to partake of them through hard work and knowledge.

As you leave the Fellow Craft to become a Master Mason, you receive the "plenty" when you:

  • Cross the passages of the Jordan
  • Learn the correct pronunciation of Shibboleth, and
  • Pause within your own Middle Chamber.

"As Hiram prayed daily for guidance from his God before drawing the designs that would set the craftsmen to work, so must we. ...Each Master Mason becomes his own architect.  Each supervises the building of that "temple not made by hands."  Each builds into his structure beauty, harmony and knowledge to the extent he is willing to work."...The Craft and its Symbols, page 84, 1974, Allen E. Roberts, MaCoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company.

Masonic Wages and Masonic Charity:  The next time you pass under the Masonic Sheaf of Corn, remember your ancient brethren, their hard work to receive the "plenty" as their wages and then,... as now, because of that hard work, the Masonic charity your brethren is able to provide to the stranger, the fatherless, the widow and those who are less fortunate.



The Square and Compasses (or, more definitively,...a Square and a set of Compasses which are joined together...each leg of the compass pointing in opposite directions) is the single most universally identifiable symbol of Freemasonry.

Due to slight Masonic jurisdictional differences around the world, this symbol does not always look exactly the same to all Freemasons.  Some jurisdictions call this symbol the Square and Compass, (non-plural) and a few jurisdictions omit the "G" at its center.

But, no matter its slightly different look, all Freemasons are in unison as to what this symbol means to them within the fraternity.    


Speculative Masonic Symbolism of the Square and Compasses

In speculative Freemasonry, this emblematic symbol is used in Masonic ritual.  

The Square is an emblem of virtue in which we must "square our actions by the square of virtue with all mankind".

The Compasses exemplify our wisdom of conduct,... the strength to "circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds".

When these 2 Masonic tools are placed together with God (the Creator) as our central focal point... (just as King Solomon built God's Temple, first... and then built his house around it), peace and harmony is the result. 


The Information below may be found in Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 2, Page 963, 1929.

A Short History About the Square and Compasses

THE SQUARE...Morality

THE COMPASS...Boundaries

Trying Square:  In the operative stone mason era, the 90 degree angle of the square was a necessary tool used to test the accuracy of the sides of a stone to ascertain that the stone's angles matched the square's "true" right angle.

Morality:  In speculative Freemasonry, the square is a symbol of morality.

Official Masonic Usage: 

1.  It is one of the 3 Great Lights (the Square, the Compass and the      Holy Book).

2.  It is the working tool of a Fellowcraft.

3.  It is the official emblem of the Master of the lodge.

In each of its above roles, it inculcates (teaches) the repeated lesson of morality, truthfulness and honesty.

Common Usage:  The square is so universally accepted that it has found its way into colloquial language with which we communicate on a daily basis.  We have all heard the sayings:  "Getting a square deal; Are you on the square? and Squaring off".

While the specific date with which the Masonic square became an official Masonic symbol is not known, it was one of the primary tools which an operative mason used in his craft.

In France, one leg is longer than the other due to the nature of its original construction.   The American Freemason square has equal length "legs", however it has been unnecessarily marked off in increments of inches, as if to measure length and breadth, which is not its true purpose.


An Antique Square:  In 1830, an architect who was rebuilding an ancient bridge called Baal Bridge near Limerick, Ireland removed the foundation stone of the bridge and found a much eaten away old brass square.  On the surfaces of its 2 legs, was the following inscription:

"I will strive to live - with love and care - upon the level - by the square."  It was dated 1517.

  In one of the very earliest catechisms (rituals) we find these words:

Q:  "How many make a lodge?

A:   God and the Squares, with 5 or 7 right or perfect Masons."

1880:  Excerpt from a speech delivered by Brother Herbert A. Geles, Worshipful Master of Ionic Lodge No. 1781, at Amoy, entitled "Freemasonry in China"

"From time immemorial, we find the Square and Compasses used by Chinese writers to symbolize precisely the same phases of moral conduct as in our system of Freemasonry.  The earliest passage known to me (Albert Mackey) which bears upon the subject is to be found in the Book of History, embracing the period reaching from the 24th to the 7th century before Christ.  It is there, in an account of a military expedition, that we read:

"Ye officers of government, apply the Compasses!"

In another part of the same records, a Magistrate (judge) is spoken of as:

"A man of the level, or the level man."


481 B.C.:  The public discourses of Confucius provide us with several Masonic allusions of a more or less definite character.  When recounting his own degrees of moral progress in life, the Master tells us that only at 75 years of age could he venture to follow the inclinations of his heart, without fear of transgressing the limits of the Square."

Circa 281 B.C.:  In the works of Mencius, a follower of Confucius, is a fuller and more impressive Masonic phraseology:

Book vi:  "The Master mason in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the Square and the Compasses.  Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the Square and the Compasses."

300-400 Years Before Christ:  In the Great Learning, Chapter 10, believed to have been written circa 300-400 B.C., we read that a man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him; "this," adds the writer, "is called the principle of acting on the Square."

Of course, we are familiar with this statement today, as the Golden Rule, as also found in the Bible.

Possibly most interesting of all is the fact that the symbolism recorded of the Square permeates equally so many languages across the world, (sic: over nearly 2400 years) and, in each of them, the Square has preserved it original symbolism...as the symbol of morality."

End of Albert Mackey's dissertation on the Square and Compasses.


Tools of the Craft:  

Historically, both the square and compasses are architect's tools to create true and perfect lines and angles.  Operative stone masons used them as the tools of their trade.  Like most tradesmen throughout history, operative stone masons began their career as an entered apprentice under the supervision of a Master mason. 

From Entered Apprentice to Master Mason:  After several years, if their work was pleasing to the Master stone mason, the entered apprentice was elevated to the title of a Fellowcraft.  More years passed and if the Fellowcraft's work was deemed acceptable to the Master, he was allowed to begin work upon his Master's piece (the word "Masterpiece" is another colloquialism we now commonly use in our everyday speech).  Upon the Fellowcraft's passing this final test, he was raised to the degree of Master mason of the craft. 

Wisdom:  Like men, buildings are not erected overnight and the knowledge of any craft takes time to hone.  Each building must have a sturdy foundation with which to build upon. 

Wisdom is the learned ability to utilize the accumulated knowledge of enlightenment, experience and intuitive understanding coupled with the capacity to apply them with good judgment toward achieving a prudent course of action. 

Strength and Beauty:  Operatively, the Square and Compasses were tools used to build strong foundations and to craft geometrically and precision cut stones, one atop another in symmetrical form to create a useful edifice (large and imposing building) which was both sturdy, durable and rock-solid against the elements (strength) as well as visually pleasing (beauty) to those who beheld it.

Square and Compasses...Masonic Symbols

Not only is the symbol of the Square and Compasses seen on Masonic Regalia in the lodge, but Master Masons proudly wear it on Masonic clothing such as Masonic shirts and Masonic Jackets. 

Among pieces of Masonic Jewelry at the lodge level like Masonic Rings and Masonic Lapel pins the Square and Compasses is the most often seen Masonic symbol. 

Masonic rings display the Square and Compasses in a vast array of metals and jewels...with both Gold Masonic rings and Silver Masonic rings being equally popular.

You will also find the Square and Compasses on such items as Masonic Money Clips, Masonic Hats, cool Masonic ball caps, Masonic ties, Masonic pins and even a Masonic Door Knocker....

If you have ever walked through the parking lot at Grand Lodge, as members of the brotherhood attend their Grand Lodge's Annual Communication each year; you will also see the depth of loyalty that Freemasons so willingly accord their fraternity.  There are more vehicles with Masonic auto emblems...comprised mostly of this Masonic logo than those without them.  You will see Masonic tail light emblems and Masonic Stickers on a large number of their vehicles.


Square and Compasses Copyright

The Square and Compasses image is copyrighted. Brethren are free to use the square and compasses for the promotion of Freemasonry, however, commercial or business usage is prohibited. Commercial or business use means that you may not start a company and use the Square and Compasses image as your logo.


his plans and designs upon to give the workmen an outline of the work to be performed.  In today's terms, we might call it a blueprint.

It is one of the 3 Movable jewels. 

A trestle board is a framework consisting of (usually 3) vertical, slanted supports (or legs) with one or more horizontal crosspieces on which to hang or display an item.  Today, it is better known as an "easel". 

Some jurisdictions around the world call it a tracing board.  It would be somewhat of a "circular logic" task to argue the difference, as, while neither can be fully proven (in historical writings), the "Tracing board" may very well have predeceded (come before) the use of the word "Trestleboard"  because lodges in Europe (which pre-date American lodges), use the word "Tracing Board".

Hiram's Tracing Board:Hiram Abif's tracing board is believed to have been made of wood, covered with a coating of wax.  Each day he would draw his Master architect's measurements and symbols into the wax in order to instruct his Master Masons of the work that was to be accomplished. 

At the end of the day, he would simply scrape off the wax and pour a new layer of hot wax onto the board to ready it for the next day's work. 

Masonic Tracing Board:   Much later, in the days where lodge was held in secret areas and on hills and vales, (valleys) once lodge was in session, the Tiler (or Tyler) would draw an oblong (rectangular) or oblong square depiction (image) into the dirt that represented the form of the lodge. 

Again, onto that tracing board was drawn the architect's plan...the working tools in the degree that was to be worked.

Masonic Trestle Board:Through the years, the Masonic Tracing Board progressed to charcoal or chalk on the floor of taverns where lodges were held back in the 1700s.  After the lecture, the Stewards or the Entered Apprentice, as a lesson in secrecy, would get a mop and bucket and remove all trace of these drawings. 

This, obviously, was a somewhat tedious and messy procedure, so cloths or rugs were created which could be laid onto the floor and simply folded up when the lecture was complete. 

Later, these cloths (or rugs) were placed onto a table.  As time passed, they were finally hung onto an easel...(a trestle board) much like a drawing board at a construction site where each workman could receive clear instruction as to what his specific participation entailed.

When the team's work was completed, it was obvious that each Master Mason not only understood their specific part in the undertaking, but how their part (no matter how small), contributed to the construction of the entire edifice (building). 

The meaning of the words "Nothing further remains to be done, according to ancient custom, except to disarrange our emblems" is a reference to the now antiquated use of these trestleboards (or tracing boards) during which the dirt on the ground was erased or the chalk marks on the floor of these lodges was mopped or scrubbed, to leave no trace of the form of the Lodge or the contents drawn thereon.

The reason why our lines of travel are at right angles within the lodge and thus the reason that we "square" the lodge is a "throwback" to the antiquity of the ritual. 

If the brethren were to walk atop the markings made in the dirt on hill and vale; atop the chalk on the floor of the taverns; or tread upon and thus soil the cloths or rugs used to provide the workings of that degree, the message of that lecture which was being worked could be partially or fully destroyed.

Therefore, "Squaring the Lodge" in a semi-military-like precision, goes back many centuries as the means of preserving the ritual and the degrees being worked so as not to destroy the symbolism of their markings before their usefulness on that day has been completed. 

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