By: WB Daniel Genchi
Gila Valley Lodge 9 (F&AM) Florence, AZ
“Let none enter here who are ignorant of Geometry.” This is said to have been inscribed above the entrance of Plato’s Academy. A quote; which this author found, at the very least, to be interesting and at the very most obsessively infatuating. I must warn on the onset; before we begin on this journey down the rabbit hole, you must bear in mind that this topic is only the beginning. It is the scratch on the surface. What you are getting is a very brief glimpse into the endless possibilities which any amount of devotion into the study and understanding of Geometry can provide. The culminations of ideas which have sprouted from this obsession have [for me] been more than eye opening. It is hoped that at its end, you will be inspired to ask further questions and seek your own light. All I offer is a glimpse into the rabbit hole. How deep it goes (as is in most of Masonry) is up to you.
Before we begin this journey together, it is important we take some time to reflect. Remember back to your initiation, think back to what it was that brought you to Masonry. Bring back from the depths of your mind; when it was that you first became a Mason. For what questions did you seek answers? Were you looking for the meaning behind what is seen and experienced? When did you first contemplate the possibility that there might be some “perfect order” to the world as you perceive it? Close your eyes for an instant and think back to that moment. Hold that thought in your head, and then reflect back to that very moment in time as we present these ideas. It is important that you take what you learn and apply it in a way which fits your path.
What I am offering in this paper is not meant to be taken as law. It is not intended to impress upon you any unnatural truth or certainties. Rather, it is meant to bring to your mind those longing questions; that fruitful endeavor you embarked upon when you knocked upon the door of Freemasonry. It is an attempt to relate to you the importance of your journey founded by the Great Civilizations of Antiquity and shaped by your own thirst for knowledge.
All I ask is that you keep an open and receptive mind. Remembering that all which is presented to your view is subject to question and interpretation. The author would not have it any other way; I encourage you above all else to question everything.
Into the Rabbit Hole:
When I began researching topics for this paper, the lack of noble topics was in no short supply, neither was my abundance of questions. As many things in Masonry often do; the more I sought to answer one question, the answer I found would quickly become replaced by deeper questions. With a never ending web of questions, my mind began to travel. I began to reflect back; on the various ceremonies of my degrees. I read and recited lectures and monologues. I poured through article after article, devoured book after book. If there was an end to the World Wide Web, then it seemed as if I was determined to find it.
I found myself reading about alternative history (history outside and sometimes contrary to conventional historical accounts). I read about the various world philosophies and the civilizations of antiquity. I read about the Egyptians and their mathematical genius; who gave way to the pyramids, the obelisk, farming and irrigation. I read of the Mayans and their elaborate calendar (which remains the most accurate calendar to date), as well as their architecturally advanced Temples which considered and accounted for the alignment of the stars and planets as part of their design. The Greeks, the Romans and the Persians for their ingenuity in the Sciences and Arts as well as their Military and Humanitarian achievements. All of the cultures, which were ages ahead of their times and well deserving of in-depth discussion, for the sake of time and ink this paper makes no attempt to dive into (these topics would be better served in a separate paper of their own).
In all of this however, there seemed to be a question I could begin to wrap my brain around; What did these civilizations have in common, and how did they relate to Freemasonry and my personal quest as a Mason?
It was in my attempt to answer this question when I came across this quote: “Let none enter here who are ignorant of Geometry.” At first read, this quote seemed to be innocent enough, direct and to the point. I mean; of Course! Why would anyone ignorant of Geometry enter into Plato’s Academy anyway? What purpose would it serve to sit in a room where topics were being discussed of which you have no concept and are unable to contribute? I will admit at first glance, it seemed to be pretty cut and dry. It wasn’t until I came back to this quote that it began to look a bit peculiar.
“Let none enter here who are ignorant of Geometry.” … What was Plato really saying? There seemed to be something deeper to this than what I was initially reading. I began to ask myself; where would someone [wanting to learn about Geometry] go if he wasn’t allowed in the one place that offered the knowledge? It seemed as though there must be some significance or some deeper meaning I wasn’t seeing. How would you have knowledge of a topic as in-depth as Geometry prior to entering the place to receive that light? Oddly enough, this seemed to have struck a familiar chord with me. I began to think back to my initiation ceremony into the Craft.
I remembered the questions asked: “Where were you first prepared to be a Mason?”… “In my heart”. Not in the room adjacent to the lodge, as that was clearly the Second place I was prepared. It was first “in my heart”. Was it possible Plato was implying that you must first be a Geometrician in your Heart before passing through the portal of his Academy? If so, then it would stand to reason, Plato was implying an understanding of a philosophical (or esoteric) element of Geometry, not merely the drawing of shapes and angles. This seemed to be the most logical path and so I went with it.
Before we go any further in this paper, for the understanding of the reader, it is worth mentioning that at the very earliest appearance of human civilization we observe the presence and importance of Geometry. It is clearly evident that Geometry was comprehended and utilized by the ancient Master Builders, who gave the world such masterworks as the megalithic structures of ancient Europe and the Pyramids and temples of Egypt. It is also evident that Geometry continued to be used throughout the centuries as evident in the cultures and architecture of China, Central and South America, in pre-Columbian North America, amongst Native Americans, in Africa, SE Asia & Indonesia, Europe, Rome and of course in classical Greece. Having established the importance of Geometry throughout Civil Society, Let us define Geometry the word before we attempt to define Geometry the idea.
The earliest appearance in history of the use of the term Geometry (as we have come to know it) was by the ancient Egyptians. The word Geometry itself means “Earth measure”. This definition is generally attributed to the fact that the Egyptians would regularly use the concepts of Geometry to resurvey their farmlands, after existing boundaries were buried by the shifting dirt caused by flooding of the Nile river. I would suggest the possibility that the idea of ‘Earth measure’ applied not only to the local measure of tracts of agricultural land in Egypt, but also on a much larger scale; literally, to the measure of the Earth itself. When we consider the fact that the Egyptians had a much different understanding of the Earth in which they inhabited, this is quite a significant statement. For the sake of time, let’s propose that the Egyptians believed their Earth to have encompassed more than what can be measured by the five senses (or six senses as mystic philosophy would state). Let’s also concede that the study of Geometry in their eyes was a noble and essential aspect of ascension to God. We see this within our own Masonic Ritual through the lecture of the Fellow Craft degree.
The Fellow Craft Lecture states:
“If we consider the symmetry and order which govern all the works of creation, we must admit that geometry pervades the universe…By geometry we may curiously trace nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses; by it we discover how the planets move in their respective orbits and demonstrate their various revolutions; by it we account for the return of the seasons and the variety of the scenes which each season displays to the discerning eye……By it we discover the power, wisdom and goodness of the Grand Artificer of the Universe and view with delight the proportions which connect the vast machine…”
We have all heard this lecture; some of us have even recited it. The lecture of the Fellow craft teaches us of the origins of Architecture as well as its importance to Freemasons. It defines for us; the relevance of Geometry as a guiding force to union and understanding with the unseen Architect of the Universe. More importantly, we are taught through this (and every other Masonic Lecture) that symbols have the power to conceal as well as reveal their meaning to the individual Mason. Just as the 24 inch gauge can be used for the measuring and lying of the work, it can also be used as a symbol of dividing our time. It stands to question; If our symbols can conceal as well as reveal then what is to say that our ritual does not?
The Duality of Geometry:
I am sure that most of us tend to think of geometry as a relatively dry, [if not altogether] boring subject. Remembered from our Middle school years. Full of axioms, definitions, postulates and proofs dating back to the methodology of Euclid’s Elements. Which, in and of itself, is a brilliant exposition of logical thinking and mental training, but not the most thrilling read you might take up on your Friday night. And while modern academics takes the approach to the study of geometry as the very embodiment of rationalism and left brain intellectual processes (which indeed it is), it has neglected the right brain; the intuitive, artistic dimension of the subject. In other words: Geometry, as we have come to know it, has neglected the esoteric aspect it was intended to include at its inception. This esoteric aspect of geometry is what is often referred to as Sacred Geometry.
“Let none enter here who are ignorant of Geometry.” Could Sacred Geometry have been what Plato was talking about? If so, then why haven’t I heard of it? Is this the aspect of Masonic Ritual which was concealed; always intending for the initiate to dive into the deeper meaning of the lecture? Is this what the proficiency is really meant to engage? So many more questions! To answer some of these, it is important to first have a very brief understanding of the cultures which have given way to the ritual of Freemasons. There are many works written by scholars on this topic. I will give you but a brief history.
The Belief that God created the universe according to geometric plans has ancient origins. Historians have shown, dating back to the Egyptians, Man’s acute awareness of God’s hand in the world he encounters. The Egyptians were well versed in mathematics and used that knowledge to “decode” what they were able to experience. They believed that there was a power (or more accurately: a vibration) associated with numbers, shapes and colors. They observed their five senses and believed they could achieve additional senses, at least one more (the sixth sense), through meditation and prayer. They studied the symmetry in nature and attempted to replicate it in their architecture. This information was considered to be very valuable and as such was privy only to the Pharaoh and his highest priests. The Egyptians considered this “Sacred Knowledge” so holy that it was punishable by death to divulge these secrets outside of their temples [reminiscent of our obligation penalties].
We see that this same idea (that of sacred knowledge taught in small guilds) flourishes within Ancient Greece. The understanding of Sacred Geometry is more than evident with the teachings of Pythagoras, Plato and Euclid. Pythagoras described geometry as visual music. Music is created by applying laws of frequency and sound in certain ways. States of harmonic resonance are produced when frequencies are combined in ways that are in unison with universal law. These same laws can be applied to produce visual harmony (Color and shape). Instead of frequency and sound it is angle and shape that are combined to produce visual symphonies that show the harmonic unification of diversity. Sacred geometric ratios applied to music give it healing powers to harmonize a body that is out of balance. This was believed by the Pythagoreans and now modern science is finding this to have elements of truth.
Masons are perhaps more than familiar with the Pythagorean theorem (), or the 47th Problem of Euclid but they rarely understand the significance it plays in what the Greeks referred to as the fifth element or Ether (a concept which quantum physics has come to define as the unified field). The Greeks also laid the groundwork for the concept of the Atom, the four phases of matter, the properties of water, and alchemy which has given the basis for the Scientific Method (still in use today). This information was taught to initiates admitted into Universities, who were progressed through 3 degrees of learning (again another correlation to our modern Masonry). The most important element taught to initiates was that certain ratios and shapes find themselves repeating throughout the universe, these geometric shapes and figures seem to radiate positivity. An Example of this is the number PHI (or the Golden Ratio)
What is the Golden Ratio? In short, the Golden Ratio is 1.61803399. It is no coincidence this numerical value finds itself in many places in nature and the universe. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man is the dissection of the human body using the Golden Ratio. By studying Nature we see that there is so much Sacred Geometry to observe; from the center of a Sunflower
The same spiral is found across the universe, with spiraling galaxies using the same ratios.
We also see Sacred Geometry in the Tibetan Buddhist Mandalas, an art that has been carried on for centuries, symbolizing the universe and believed to create a positive environment. We see Sacred Geometry in religious structures in the planning and construction of churches, temples, mosques. We even see it in the Labyrinth which adorns the floor in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
It is all around us, and it must be understood to be part of who we are and bringing to life an extreme truth to the lecture of the Fellow Craft:
…By geometry we may curiously trace nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses; by it we discover how the planets move in their respective orbits and demonstrate their various revolutions; by it we account for the return of the seasons and the variety of the scenes which each season displays to the discerning eye…
It doesn’t take long to see that there may be more to our ritual than what is merely there. Through the study of Geometry we are able to understand visible light; we are able to understand the mathematical properties of sound, and smell & touch; each of these understandings expanding upon the last. We experience the concept of 3-5-7. The concept of 3; yields the Triangle (or platonic solid tetrahedron) we get the family trinity (father, mother, baby) we also see our 3 degrees of Masonry, the 3 pillar officers and the 3 tenants of Freemasonry. Sacred Geometry finds its way into Alchemy as well. Through the concept of 5; we receive the pentagon (or platonic Solid dodecahedron), the 5 elements (Air, Fire, Earth, Water, Ether) which we relate to our 5 senses (Touch, Taste, Sound, Sight, Smell). The concept of 7 gives us the 7 Chakras, the 7 liberal arts and Sciences, the 7 notes in a musical Major scale, the seven colours of the visible spectrum (a rainbow) and the 7 days of the week. We see symmetry in so many aspects of our daily lives and never really give a thought to the role which Geometry may have played.
How does this impact Freemasonry? What does this mean to me and my quest?
Man has since the dawn of civilization attempted to find his purpose. Freemasonry is a modern amalgamation of these ancient truths; secret knowledge and Sacred teachings. In the lodges of old, as in Plato’s Academy, the tools of Geometry were simply an unmarked strait edge and a pair of compasses (more recently the Square and Compasses). With those two tools it was possible to draw straight lines and circles, or arcs of circles. Out of the combination of straight lines and arcs we are able to design or replicate the divine creation we are caused to admire. Freemasons have for centuries held the conception of the Universe as the material expression of a hidden reality, an invisible blueprint, set down by the hand of the Grand Architect of the Universe [in his Spiritual, Moral and Masonic Trestle Board].
We have learned that the Study of Geometry in past civilizations and founding cultures provided the key and the means to render visible that which is concealed from the undiscerning and untrained eye. We can see these elements infiltrating our daily lives and lending way to newer and better understandings of ourselves and the world we inhabit. In Freemasonry we give these teachings under the guise of lectures and symbols but as Masons we are obliged to seek further light. We enter into the lodge with a basic understanding of Geometry, as it is part of who we are at our core. It is where we are initially prepared to be made a Mason.
As I informed you at the beginning of this paper, this is not meant to instill any truths upon you but rather to grant you a glimpse into the esoteric aspects of our ritual. Sacred Geometry is an immeasurable aspect of who we are as Masons. Its origins and implications have ties into many facets of our civilization. Many of which I propose to delve into in separate papers. It’s fascinating to see that there’s so much to learn about Sacred Geometry. I hope this paper sheds some light on the topic and that it invokes within you that same desire which brought you to Masonry’s door to start. I will leave you with this:
From a small handbook frequently given to newly initiated Freemasons we find a valuable elucidation on the meaning of Geometry:
“Geometry is an ‘exact’ science. It leaves nothing to chance. Except for its axioms, it can prove everything it teaches. It is precise. It is definite. By it we buy and sell our land, navigate our ships upon the pathless ocean, foretell eclipses, and measure time. All science rests upon mathematics, and mathematics is first and last, geometry, whether we call its extension ‘trigonometry’ or ‘differential calculus’ or any other name. Geometry is the ultimate fact we have won out of a puzzling universe….There are no ultimate facts of which the human mind can take cognizance which are more certain, more fundamental, than the facts of geometry.”
Foreign Countries (1925) Carl H. Claudy
SHORT TALK BULLETIN – Vol.XIII March, 1935 No.3
What one symbol is most typical of Freemasonry as a whole? Mason and non-Mason alike, nine times out of ten, will answer, “The Square!” Many learned writers on Freemasonry have denominated the square as the most important and vital, most typical and common symbol of the ancient Craft. Mackey terms it “one of the most important and significant symbols.” McBride said:
“-In Masonry or building, the great dominant law is the law of the square.” Newton’s words glow: “Very early the square became an emblem of truth, justice and righteousness, and so it remains to this day, though uncountable ages have passed. Simple, familiar, eloquent; it brings from afar a sense of wonder of the dawn, and it still teaches a lesson we find it hard to learn.” Haywood speaks of:
“—Its history, so varied and so ancient, its use, so universal.”
“An important emblem – passed into universal acceptance.” In his encyclopedia, Kenning copied Mackey’s phrase. Klein reverently denominates it “The Great Symbol.” I Kings, describing the Temple, states that “all the doors and the posts were square.” It is impossible definitely to say that the square is the oldest symbol in Freemasonry; who may determine when the circle, triangle or square first impressed men’s minds? But the square is older than history. Newton speaks of the oldest building known to man: “- A prehistoric tomb found in the sands at Hieraconpolis, is already right angled.”
Masonically the word “square” has the same three meanings given the syllable by the world: (1) The conception of right angleness – our ritual tells us that the square is an angle of ninety degrees, or the fourth of a circle; (2) The builder’s tool, one of our working tools, the Master’s own immovable jewel; (3) That quality of character which has made “a square man” synonymous not only with a member of our Fraternity, but with uprightness, honesty and dependability.
The earliest of the three meanings must have been the mathematical conception. As the French say, “it makes us furiously to think” to reflect upon the wisdom and reasoning powers of men who lived five thousand years ago, that they knew the principles of geometry by which a square can be constructed.
Plato, greatest of the Greek philosophers, wrote over the porch of the house in which he taught: “Let no one who is ignorant of geometry entry my doors.” Zenocrates , a follower of Plato, turned away an applicant for the teaching of the Academy, who was ignorant of geometry, with the words: “Depart, for thou has not the grip of philosophy.” Geometry is so intimately interwoven with architecture and building that “geometry, or Masonry, originally synonymous terms” is a part of most rituals. The science of measurements is concerned with angles, the construction of figures, the solution of problems concerning both, and all the rest upon the construction of a right angle, the solutions which sprang from the Pythagorean Problem, our “Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid,” so prominent in the Master’s Degree.
The ancient Greek name of the square was “gnomon,” from whence comes our word “knowledge.” The Greek letter “gamma” formed like a square standing on one leg, the other pointing to the right – in all probability derived from the square, and “gnomon,” in turn, derived from the square which the philosophers knew was at the root of their mathematics.
Democritus, old philosopher, according to Clement of Alexandria, once exulted: “In the construction of plane figures with proof, no one has yet surpassed me, not even the Harpedonaptae of Egypt.” In the truth of his boast we have no interest, but much in the Harpedonaptae of Egypt. The names means, literally, “rope stretchers” or “Rope fasteners.” In the Berlin museum is a deed, written on leather, dating back to 2,000 B.C. which speaks of the work of rope stretchers; how much older rope stretching may be, as a means of constructing a square, is unknown, although the earliest known mathematical hand-book (that of Ahmes, who lived in the sixteenth or seventeenth Hyskos dynasty in Egypt, and is apparently a copy of a much older work which scholars trace back to 3400 B.C.), does not mention rope stretching as a means of square construction. Most students in school days learned a dozen ways of erecting one line perpendicular to another. It seems strange that any other people were ever ignorant of such simple mathematics. Yet all knowledge had a beginning. Masons learn of Pythagorean’s astonishment and delight at his discovery of the principle of the Forty-seventh Problem. Doubtless the first man who erected a square by stretching a rope was equally happy over his discovery. Researchers into the manner of construction of pyramids, temples and monuments in Egypt reveal a very strong feeling on the part of the builders for the proper orientation of their structures. Successfully to place the building so that certain points, corners or openings might face the sun or a star at a particular time, required very exact measurements. Among these, the laying down of the cross axis at a right angle to the main axis of the structure was highly important.
It was this which the Harpedonaptae accomplished with a long rope. The cord was first marked off in twelve equal portions, possible by knots, more probably, by markers thrust into the body of the rope. The marked rope was then laid upon the line on which a perpendicular (right angle) was to be erected. The rope was pegged down at the third marker from the from one end, and another, four markers further on. This left two free ends, one three total parts long, one five total parts long. With these ends the Harpedonatae scribed two semi-circles. When the point where these two met, was connected to the first peg (three parts from the end of the rope, a perfect right angle, or square, resulted.
Authorities have differed and much discussion has been had, on the “true form” of the Masonic square; whether a simple square should be made with legs of equal length, and marked with divisions into feet and inches, or with one keg longer than the other and marked as are carpenter’s squares today. Mackey says:
“It is proper that its true form should be preserved. The French Masons have almost universally given it with one leg longer than the other, thus making it a carpenter’s square. The American Masons, following the delineations of Jeremy L. Cross, have, while generally preserving the equality of length in the legs, unnecessarily marked its surface with inches, thus making it an instrument for measuring length and breadth, which it is not. It is simply the “trying square” of a stonemason, and has a plain surface, the sides embracing an angle of ninety degrees, and it is intended only to test the accuracy of the sides of a stone, and to see that its edges subtend the same angle.”
Commenting on this, the Editor of “the Builder” wrote (May, 1928):
“This is one of the occasions when this eminent student ventured into a field beyond his own knowledge, and attempted to decide a matter of fact from insufficient data. For actually, there is not, and never has been, any essential difference between the squares used by carpenters and stone workers. At least not such difference as Mackey assumes. He seems to imply that French Masons were guilty of an innovation in making the square with unequal limbs. This is rather funny, because the French (and the Masons of Europe generally) have merely maintained the original form, while English speaking Masonry, or rather the designers of Masonic jewels and furnishings in English speaking countries, have introduced a new form for the sake, apparently, of its greater symmetry. From medieval times up till the end of the eighteenth century, all representations of Mason’s squares show one limb longer than the other. In looking over the series of Masonic designs of different dates it is possible to observe the gradual lengthening of the shorter limb and the shortening of the longer one, till it is sometimes difficult to be certain at first glance if there is any difference between them. “There is absolute no difference in the use of the square in different crafts. In all the square is used to test work, but also to set it out. And a square with a graduated scale on it is at times just as great a convenience for the stonemason as for the carpenter. When workmen made their own squares there would be no uniformity in size or proportions, and very few would be graduated, though apparently this was sometimes done. It is rather curious that the cut which illustrates this article in Mackey’s Encyclopedia actually show a square with one limb longer than the other.” It is to be noted that old operative squares were either made wholly of wood, or of wood and metal, as indeed, small try squares are made today. Having one leg shorter than the other would materially reduce the chance of accident destroying the right angle which was the tools essential quality . . So that authorities who believe our equal legged squares not necessarily “true Masonic squares” have some practical reasons for their convictions.
It is of interest to recall McBride’s explanation of the “center” as used in English Lodges, and the “point within a circle,” familiar to us. He traces the medieval “secret of the square” to the use of the compasses to make the circle from which the square is laid out.
Lines connecting a point, placed anywhere on the circumference of a
circle, to the intersection with the circumference cut by a straight
line passing through the center of the circle, forms a perfect
square. McBride believed that our “point within a circle” was direct
reference to this early operative method of correcting the angles in
the wooden squares of operative cathedral builders, and that our present “two perpendicular lines” are a corruption of the two lines which connect points on the circle.
The symbolism of the square, as we know it, is also very old; just how ancient, as impossible to say as the age of the tool or the first conception of mathematical “square-ness.” In 1880 the Master of Ionic Lodge No. 1781, at Amot, China, speaking on Freemasonry in China said:
“From time immemorial we find the square and compasses used by Chinese writers to symbolize precisely the same phrases of moral conduct as in our system of Freemasonry. The earliest passage known to me which bears upon the subject is to be found in the Book of History embracing the period reaching from the twenty-fourth to the seventh century before Christ. There is an account of a military expedition where we read:
“Ye Officers of government, apply the Compasses!” “In another part of the same venerable record a Magistrate is spoken of as: ‘A man of the level, or the level man.’ “The public discourses of Confucius provide us with several Masonic allusions of a more or less definite character. For instance, when recounting his own degrees of moral progress in life, the Master tells us that only at seventy-five years of age could he venture to follow the inclinations of his heart without fear of ‘transgressing the limits of the square.’ This would be 481 B.C., but it is in the words of the great follower, Mencius, who flourished nearly two hundred years later, that we meet with a fuller and more impressive Masonic phraseology. In one chapter we are taught that just as the most skilled articifers are unable, without the aid of the square and compasses, to produce perfect rectangles or perfect circles, so must all men apply these tools figuratively to their lives, and the level and the markingline besides, if they would walk in the straight and even paths of wisdom, and keep themselves within the bounds of honor and virtue. In Book IV we read:
“The compasses and Square are the embodiment of the rectangular and the round, just as the prophets of old were the embodiment of the due relationship between man and man.”
In Book IV we find these words:
“The Master Mason, in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and the square. Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the compasses and the square.” In the “Great Learning,” admitted on all sides to date from between 300 to 400 years before Christ, in Chapter 10, 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.”
Independently of the Chinese, all peoples in all ages have thought of this fundamental angle, on which depends the solidity and lasting quality of buildings, as expressive of the virtues of honesty, uprightness and morality. Confucius, Plato, the Man of Galilee, stating the Golden Rule in positive form, all make the square an emblem of virtue.
In this very antiquity of the Craft’s greatest symbol is a deep lesson; the nature of a square is as unchanging as truth itself. It was always so, it will always be so. So, also, are those principles of mind and character symbolized by the square; the tenets of the builder’s guild expressed by a square. They have always been so, they will always be so. From their very nature they must ring as true on the farthest star as here.
So will Freemasonry always read it, that its gentle message perish not from the earth!
Public fascination about the Society of Freemasons has increased since the organization became the subject of several recently published novels. A sense of the mysterious surrounds the fraternity. However, many myths about Masonic activities and rituals are founded on rumor and suspicion alone. Influential Freemasons helped to further the 18th century intellectual movement known as The Enlightenment that promoted ideas such as equality, freedom and tolerance.
The month of July is especially significant to all Americans because we celebrate the birth of our nation on the fourth of July. On that date in the year 1776, representatives of the thirteen American colonies, assembled at what is now known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia, adopted a manifesto asserting their political independence from the British crown. We know that document as the American Declaration of Independence.
Over the last two centuries various Masonic writers have often attempted to inflate the involvement of members of the Masonic fraternity in the events leading up to and resulting from this important historic event. It has often been claimed that all or most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons; or that all or most of the general officers serving under Washington were Freemasons. These claims have been made to bolster the theory that the events of the American Revolution and the formation of the American colonies into an independent republic were carried out according to some Masonic plan, and in accordance with universal Masonic principles.
It is always best that such claims be tempered by the light of responsible and accurate historic research, not for the purpose of discounting the patriotic nature of our early American Masonic forbearers, but rather to understand the role that Freemasons did play in the formation of this great nation. Probably the best accounting of Masonic membership among the signers of the Declaration of Independence is provided in the book Masonic Membership of the Founding Fathers, by Ronald E. Heaton, published by the Masonic Service Association at Silver Spring, Maryland. According to this well researched and documented work, proof of Masonic membership can be found for only eight of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. They are:
- Benjamin Franklin, of the Tun Tavern Lodge at Philadelphia;
- John Hancock, of St. Andrew’s Lodge in Boston;
- Joseph Hewes, who was recorded as a Masonic visitor to Unanimity Lodge No. 7, Edenton, North Carolina, in December 1776;
- William Hooper, of Hanover Lodge, Masonborough, North Carolina;
- Robert Treat Payne, present at Grand Lodge at Roxbury, Massachusetts, in June 1759;
- Richard Stockton, charter Master of St. John’s Lodge, Princeton, Massachusetts in 1765;
- George Walton, of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, Savannah, Georgia; and
- William Whipple, of St. John’s Lodge, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Additionally, another five or six signers have from time to time been identified as members of the fraternity based on inconclusive or unsubstantiated evidence.
When examining the participation of Freemasons in the War of the American Revolution we should first remember the Ancient Charges of a Freemason, and especially that charge concerning “the Civil Magistrates, Supreme and Subordinate,” which enjoins the Mason to be “a peaceable subject to the Civil Powers” and “never to be concern’d in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation.” This charge was listed as the second of those contained in the Constitutions adopted by the Premier Grand Lodge at London in 1723, long before the American Revolution. How then does this fit into what has been considered over time as the single greatest act of Treason?
This conclusion can be reached simply by reviewing the actions of our forefathers, and their desire for the implementation of the basic tenets which have given the basis for the founding of our nation. We must necessarily review that document which began it all, The Declaration of Independence. While this document, written by Thomas Jefferson who was himself not a Freemason, it is undeniable that within this document lies some inalienable similarities which unites Freemasons and that which unites our nations under one flag. While the principles indoctrinated in the core or mission statement of our early nation are not unique to the Freemasons, in fact hey have been the basis of many books and philosophies throughout the ages, of which it is well know Thomas Jefferson to be an apt student it is undeniably true that Freemasons among all others hold these ideals to be essentially necessary to have been brought from the darkness of ignorance and self absorbent thinking into the light of truth and brotherly affection. Among these principles which have given the Declaration of Independence shape are Honor & Truth, Humanitarianism, Brotherly Love and Equality, and Duty to Men and God.
Honor and Truth
- The public is sometimes mystified by the ambiguous symbolism used by the Freemasons including nine-point stars, the Egyptian all-seeing eye and two-headed eagles, but Masons are generally open about the principles that guide their organization. These values include honor and truth which are referenced in the Declaration of Independence through the condemnation of certain acts committed by the British including “mock trials,” the creation of false legislation, and injustice. Authors of the Declaration found fault with the practice of tenure and salary increase for judges with the king’s permission alone.
- After Congress debated and revised the Declaration of Independence, the final document contained a list of grievances for acts contrary to the principles held sacred by Masons as well as all other men who signed the document. These grievances included the suffering of American citizens at the hands of British soldiers who “harassed the people and ate out their substance.” The authors of the Declaration also protested against the British choice of gathering places for legislative meetings which were difficult for colonial representatives to attend, denying their involvement and forcing them into compliance.
- Brotherhood is a primary value held by the Freemasons. Although African-American men developed a separate Lodge in the 18th century, petition for membership is not based on wealth or ethnicity. Mason’s hold that each man should be judged on personal character. The authors of the Declaration pledged their lives and their fortunes to each other to accomplish their goal. Representatives who signed the Declaration claimed the crown denied the brotherhood of American citizens with the capture of American seamen who were captured and forced to serve as British soldiers.
- The members of the the Freemasons must conduct themselves with duty and honor. The Declaration described the English king as a tyrant because he persecuted the States who petitioned for redress. As representatives of the States of America, they claimed it was their duty to separate from a tyrannical government that persecuted its subjects and denied them their freedom. Freemasons must follow their own faith and place duty to God before all other responsibilities. The Declaration of Independence closes with the statement that the authors relied on divine protection.
Brotherly Love and Equality
Duty to Men and to God
This gives way to a new question; How then can we justify the participation of American Freemasons in their rebellion against the King?
The answer can be given in two parts. First, the Masonic fraternity in the American colonies took no part in the Revolution, following Masonic tradition by taking no official stance. However, the fraternity’s official neutrality may have owed as much to the divided loyalties of its leadership as it did to Masonic tradition. Many Masons were Loyalists. And second, rebellion against the state, whether justified or unjustified, is not a Masonic offense. The Old Charges state clearly “if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State, … if convicted of no other Crime, … they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.” This simply means that, in the case of the American Revolution, many brethren, feeling that the actions of the crown warranted revolution and independence, were justified in following their consciences without fear of violating their Masonic obligations or any Masonic law.
As the charge concerning the Civil Magistrates reminds us, “Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion,” the fraternity was indeed injured by the war. General Joseph Warren, Grand Master of the Ancient’s Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, lost his life at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 and his body was thrown into an unmarked grave. While he had led the American troops during that battle, his lodge brother, Dr. John Jeffries assisted the British troops. Nearly a year later, his body was exhumed and identified by another Lodge brother, Paul Revere.
Even before the Declaration of Independence, colonial Masonry suffered from the disruptions of the war, and the division of loyalties among its members. Many lodges found it difficult to meet regularly, and others ceased to meet at all. Many lodges were disbanded as occupying British forces prohibited private assemblies, and loyalist Masons fled the country or joined the British forces.
Although the Masonic fraternity played no part in the Revolutionary War, it can easily be shown that in many ways the revolutionary ideals of equality, freedom, and democracy were espoused by the Masonic fraternity long before the American colonies began to complain about the injustices of British taxation. The revolutionary ideals expressed in the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the writings of Thomas Paine, were ideals that had come to fruition over a century before in the early speculative lodges of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, where men sat as equals, governed themselves by a Constitution, and elected their own leaders from their midst. In many ways, the self-governing Masonic lodges of the previous centuries had been learning laboratories for the concept of self-government.
On September 18, 1793, President George Washington, dressed in his Masonic apron, leveled the cornerstone of the United States Capitol with the traditional Masonic ceremony. Historian Stephen Bullock in his book Revolutionary Brotherhood carefully notes the historic and symbolic significance of that ceremony. The Masonic brethren, dressed in their fraternal regalia, had assembled in grand procession, and were formed for that occasion as representative of Freemasonry’s new found place of honor in an independent American society. At that moment, the occasion of the laying of the new Republic’s foundations, Freemasons assumed the mantles “high priests” of that “first temple dedicated to the sovereignty of the people,” and they “helped form the symbolic foundations of what the Great Seal called ‘the new order for the ages’.”
Excerpt from: WWW.MASONICWORLD.COM Published By: Daniel Genchi STONEHENGE! An ancient structure filled with mystery; the subject of speculation and rumor studied and analyzed by generations of men. Scientists and producers of fanciful mystique alike have found it a challenge which thwarts the analytical minds and the discerning eyes of man! What is this strange and little known edifice which stands alone and aloof on the Plains of Salisbury? To quote a statement by Russell A. Herner, author of "Stonehenge: An Ancient Masonic Temple." :I contend that this majestic structure is, in fact, an Ancient Masonic Temple. This structure, or Temple as I will call it, has survived the lapse of time, the ruthless hands of ignorance, and the devastations of war for many centuries." The author does not equivocate; he does not apologize; he does, however, theorize very convincingly. Let's look at this phenomenon on the open plains of Southwest England. Salisbury Plain is in Wiltshire, England, about seven miles from the town of Salisbury. On the flat plain surrounding Stonehenge, one can see large burial mounds similar to those found in the United States (Moundsville, West Virginia, for example). Unanswered questions come flooding into one's mind as the mystery of Stonehenge is viewed as it spreads over the plain. How was it built? - What genius supplied the scientific knowledge which made it possible? - When was it built - and by whom? Questions unanswered now, and possibly for all time. This was no small undertaking which our ancient craftsman took upon themselves. IT WAS MONUMENTAL!! Imagine what they faced! No high-tech equipment which today's builders use so routinely! No colleges teaching today's technology and sciences! Quarries for the special stones located from 20 to 240 miles away! No beasts of burden - only man's backs and strong limbs. A river between the quarries and the building site! A project of a magnitude exceeding the Sears Tower in Chicago or the Bay Bridge in California. For building such modern projects involved many tasks which individually were not difficult. - Building Stonehenge involved many tasks which individually seemed insurmountable! To the average mind today it was the impossible dream! But there it stands for all to see: the improbable, impossible, inconceivable project. Completed by a culture which we consider to be uneducated and without artistic temperament. At a point directly Northeast of the center of the Altar Stone, there is a break in the circular embankments for an avenue, nearly 40 feet wide which leads to the only element of Stonehenge which is outside this circle. The "Heelstone" is a massive stone 20 feet high with 4 feet buried in the plain. It is planted at an incline of 27 degrees toward the center of the structure. It is estimated to weigh over 35 tons and is 256 feet from the center of the Altar Stone. Just within the embankments ia a stone 3 feet thick, 7 feet wide, and nearly 22 feet long. This is thought to be the spot where animals were slaughtered as offerings to Deity. More is involved in the construction of Stonehenge than meets the casual view. It is located and constructed by an exact scientific formula from which can be derived much scientific data and many astrological readings. Just inside the Aubrey Holes there are four Station Stones forming a rectangle 108 feet 8 inches wide and 262 feet 3 inches long with its long dimension perpendicular to the Northeast axis. At this latitude of 51 degrees 17 minutes North Latitude, lines drawn through these four stones plot the rising and setting positions of the sun and moon at midsummer and midwinter. If Stonehenge were moved as little as 30 miles, this rectangle would have to be laid out as a parallelogram without right angled corners. At the summer solstice (about June 21) the sun rises directly over the tip of the Heelstone; its rays passing through the Sarsen Arch and striking the center of the Altar Stone. (That one archway is 6 inches wider than all the rest.) With this in mind, picture, if you will, this scene which may - or may not - be purely imaginative. It is night. The darkness is broken only by a candle or two -or perhaps by the dim light of a setting moon. A group of men, marching in double file, enter the Sarsen Circle. They are dressed in ancient costumes of leather and rough, homespun cloth. They carry implements of the builders trades. In the center of the group, walking between the columns and guided by two of the ancients, is a young man - an initiate. They circumambulate the Sarsen Circle, stopping at strategic points while voices from the darkness instruct and admonish the initiate in their midst. As dawn approaches they pass through the open end of the Trilithons, into the Bluestone Horseshoe, and wend their way Southeastward until the initiate and the guides stand behind the Altar Stone, at its center, facing Northeast. The rest of the group file slowly back until they form a double line from the Altar Stone to the Sarsen Arch at the Extreme Northeast limit of the Circle. All is quiet. The darkness dims. The initiate has time to think on what he has been told and the things he has seen. The circles of stone about the group shut out nearly all the light as dawn grows near. Suddenly a glow appears and a guide turns the initiate's head with the command: "Look to the East!" The entire area is encompassed by two earthen embankments separated by a ditch 17 feet wide. The inner embankment rises 7 feet above the plain to reduce the possibility of cowans and eavesdroppers. The outer mound is approximately 400 feet in diameter. Within this circle, at a diameter of 286 feet, are 56 pits (called "Aubrey Holes") filled with solid chalk. Several of these have been excavated and found to contain human bones, spawning the assumption that they are burial spots for the leaders or officers of those who used the site. Further toward the center, with an inside diameter of 97 feet 4 inches, is the main part of the structure: a circle of 30 stones nearly 4 feet thick, 7 feet wide, and standing 13 feet 6 inches above ground. At a diameter of 77 feet is a circle of Bluestones, 6 feet 7 inches high in the Southwest, tapering to 2 feet 4 inches in the Northeast. We now approach the "Inner Sanctum" of Stonehenge. A horseshoe formation of 5 huge stone groups called "Trilithons" with the open end to the Northeast. These mammoth units consist of 3 stones each. Two upright members varying in height from 25 feet 6 inches in the center of the closed end of the horseshoe to 20 feet above ground at the open end. The third stone forms a lintel across the top and is 15 feet 5 inches long (the width of two uprights). These stones are about 3 feet thick and 7 feet wide and, at the top, are carved in the form of a mortise and tenon joint to hold the lintel in place. Within this impressive group is a second horseshoe of round Bluestones 2 feet in diameter varying in height from 9 feet 3 inches at the closed end to 6 feet 6 inches at the end open to the Northeast. These are set at a diameter of 39 feet. Central to all the other parts of the structure is one of the two most important elements. It lies flat on the ground and is a green stone with flecks of mica throughout. It measures nearly 2 feet thick, 3 feet 3 inches wide and 15 feet 9 inches long. This is the "Altar Stone." Some mention should be made of the two color elements used in Stonehenge's construction: the green Altar and the two Bluestone units. Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry has this statement: "In all the Ancient Mysteries, this idea was carried out with Green symbolizing the birth of the world, of the moral creation or resurrection of the initiate." Thus we have the theory that the initiate took his obligation on the Green Altar Stone at Stonehenge: "the creation or resurrection of a new life." The Bluestones are thought to be indicative of the blue which is indelibly attached to Masonry. From all ages blue has symbolized truth, sincerity, and fidelity. Further, Masons met in outdoor Lodges under the blue canopy of Heaven - thus, today, we meet in "Blue Lodges." A sudden shaft of light bursts through the Sarsen Arch as the sun rises directly over the tip of the Heelstone. It crosses the space within the Circle - strikes the Altar Stone - and shines directly on the face of the Initiate! LIGHT!!! The Initiate has received the LIGHT. After further instruction he is admitted to the inner circle of these rough men who, somehow, know many things of science and nature. A FINAL THOUGHT Imagery??? Perhaps. - Perhaps not! We may never know; but this is an indisputable fact: the construction of Stonehenge, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, was done with knowledge that would be difficult to find, even today. It is done with scientific skill which was thought to be developed many centuries after these men lived and died. The "How" and "Why" we may never understand, but the facts remain. An Ancient Masonic Lodge??? Who knows? And, one may ask: "Does it really matter?" For whatever we choose to believe about Stonehenge, it offers material for intriguing hypothesizing and endless interesting conversations. My Brothers - I give you the Mystery that is Stonehenge!"
Author: Nate Braunhut, Gila Valley Lodge #9 (F&AM) Florence, AZ
Posted by: Daniel Genchi
This article was prepared to examine some of the possible impacts on Freemasonry in ancient/mystic civilizations. All research was gathered through secondary resources by Nate Braunhut and presented in this form to Gila Valley Lodge #9 of Arizona.
Israeli influence on Freemasonry is known to all Masons with the story of Hiram Abiff constructing King Solomon’s temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. As the story goes, in a significantly paraphrased form, Kind Solomon sought a builder from the King of Tyre to help him construct his temple. Hiram Abiff is selected to represent his country and is sent to Jerusalem, where he is made chief architect of Solomon’s temple. It is believed that King Hiram of Tyre, King Solomon of Israel, and Hiram Abiff were the founding members of Masonry and viewed themselves in Masonic equality. It appears, although there were many Master Masons involved in the building of King Solomon’s temple, only King Solomon, King Hiram, and Hiram Abiff were privy to the information contained in the High and Sublime degree, although it is unclear if they learned the mysteries or invented them, and required the approval of all three to share its secrets. When three Fellow Craft Masons approached only Hiram Abiff and demanded to know the secrets, he refused and was murdered. His death is depicted in Masonic ritual.
In operative freemasonry, the east-west orientation of the tabernacle and the temple, with the only entrance in the east, reflects the fact that from time immemorial human beings have associated the east with the source of life and the light of knowledge. This veneration of the east originated in primitive society, probably because of the mystery then associated with the daily rising of the sun after the darkness of the night. Even in ancient times the sun was known to germinate plant life and to ripen the seed and fruits of nature. Hence the sun came to be regarded as a symbol of the commencement of a new cycle of life. This is reflected in the reverence held for the east in the Egyptian rites and other Ancient Mysteries, in which the sun was regarded as a manifestation of God. In those Mysteries the place where the sun rose was esteemed as the birthplace of God. Many of the earliest Christian churches, especially those in the eastern countries, were oriented east west and had the entrance in the east like King Solomon’s temple.
In operative freemasonry the symbolic lodge was oriented on an east west axis. The entrance to the lodge was at the eastern end and the master was seated in the west. This arrangement was in allusion to King Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem, which had a single entrance in the east, flanked by two columns. In his lectures on Signs and Symbols, the Rev Dr George Oliver supported the customs adopted in operative lodges when he said: “The principal entrance to the lodge room ought to face the east, because the east is a place of light both physical and moral; and therefore the Brethren have access to the lodge by that entrance, as a symbol of mental illumination.”
Although speculative craft freemasonry closely follows most of the symbolic precedents established by the ancient Israelites and adopted in lodges of operative freemasons, the orientation of speculative lodges is the reverse of their operative counterparts, so that the entrance is in the west and the master is seated in the east. It is not known when this reversal took place, but it probably was in deference to established religious practices in Europe and Britain during the formative days of modern speculative craft freemasonry.
While modern Freemasonry didn’t appear in the country of Egypt until the 1790s, there are several symbols which date back to ancient Egypt which are used by Masons today. Examples include the pyramid, the all-seeing eye, the six pointed star, the lotus, and the use of two columns.
Pyramid – This symbol is often seen in Masonic building and publications. It represents the great pyramid of the cheops. This symbol was highly revered by the ancient Egyptians and stood for the beginning of life from the sea of Chaos. It also speaks of the Masonic espousal of the philosophy of the search of light of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.
All Seeing Eye – Is the Masonic Rendition of the eye of Horus or the Eye of Ra. The Egyptians believed that the symbol had protective powers while the masons believe that the symbol is representative of a masons deeds and thoughts always being watched by the Supreme Being.
Six Pointed Star – In ancient Egypt this symbol stood for the confluence of two great powers. Masons also believe that two powers come together in the symbol, many have interpreted the symbol as the coming together of the male and female forms with one triangle representing the phallus while the lower triangle represents the triangular female mound. If one were to erase the upper and lower bases of the triangle you would come upon the most popular symbol of the Masonic tradition that of a compass and a square.
The Lotus – In Masonic tradition this symbol stands for spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Egyptians believed that the lotus represented life and resurrection.
Two Columns – Most Masonic temples and structures have two symbolic columns; the origins of these structures can again be traced back to ancient Egypt. The first connotation is related to King Solomon and stands as a symbol against the corrupt insinuations against him. They also are symbolic of the twin architects Set and Horus from the ancient Egyptian pagan religion. They stand for the pillars of intelligence and power beyond which lies the gate to eternity.
Kabbalah originated in ancient India and is teaches the connection between the eternal and the moral. There is no solid evidence that the practice of Kabbalah is related to the origins of Freemasonry. The best argument that can be made draws parallels between Kabbalah and Freemasonry. For example, both can be argued as enhancing a man’s relationship with their spirituality. Both are taught in three stages, or degrees. The degrees of Freemasonry enlighten the man to ancient teachings of morals and symbolism. The degrees of Yogi (or yoga as it is more commonly called) stress the advancing ability of a person to synchronize their mind and body through a spiritual action with the body. While interesting similarities exist, most discussion of a concrete connection between Kabbalah and ancient India with Freemasonry are unfounded and unsupported by historians or available evidence.
Modern freemasonry arrived in Calcutta, India in 1730 by way of officers in the East Indian Company, a trade company chartered by the British in 1599 to facilitate trade between Britain, India, and China.
There are several examples of ancient China influencing Masonry. For example, in a book called “The Great Learning”, written in 500 BC, it is stated “A man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him, and this is called the principle of acting on the Square”.
Confucius, the great Chinese moral teacher, born about 550 BC and Mencius, his pupil, arranged an orderly system of moral teaching. From the sixth volume of the work on philosophy, I quote; “A Master Mason in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and the square. We who are engaged in the pursuit of Wisdom, must also make use of the compasses and the square”.
Mencius also wrote; “Men should apply the compass morally to their lives, and the level and marking-line besides, if they would walk in the straight and even path of Wisdom, and keep themselves within the bonds on honor and virtue”.
In Peking, in China, there is a place called the temple of Heaven, one of the few ancient relics of the Chinese monotheistic faith. It is constructed in the form of a square, with special seats in the east, the west and the south. There is an altar in the very center. There are three circular platforms of diameters of 90 feet, 150 feet, and 210 feet. Note that these are in the ratio of 3, 5 and 7. The temple was built in 1420, but the altar is considered to be 4000 years old.
There was a society called HUNG, or “The Brotherhood of Heaven and earth”. This can be traced back to 386 AD. It had a supreme Grand Master, a Senior and Junior Warden, and many subordinate lodges. In the lodge ceremonies, the initiate knelt at the altar, with the Senior and Junior Wardens kneeling at his right and left, each holding a sword overhead to form a right angle over the candidate. The lecture given by the Worshipful Master taught that all are equal, that they must live uprightly and justly, that they must help a brother in distress, preserve his secrets, respect the chastity of his wife, and that they must obey the Worshipful Master. The three great principles of the Hung lodge were Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
It is interesting to note that Masonry was absent on mainland China for centuries. In 1949 the Grand Lodge of China was established and still exists today.
There are a few symbols date back to ancient Greece, one of them being the Greek sphinx. It was said that the Greek sphinx would devour travelers who failed to answer her riddle. According to A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Arthur Waite the masonic sphinx “is the guardian of the Mysteries and is the Mysteries summarized in a symbol. Their secret is the answer to her question. The initiate must know it or lose the life of the Mysteries. If he can and does answer, the Sphinx dies for him, because in his respect the Mysteries have given up their meaning.”
A double headed eagle is a Masonic seal and initiation symbol. The number inside the pyramid over the eagle’s head is 33. The eagle is a universal symbol representing the sun, power, authority, victory, the sky gods and the royal head of a nation
The symbol IHS in the original Greek, ‘IHC’ was derived from the Greek spelling of Jesus ‘IHCOYC’. The letters were later translated into the Latin form ‘IHS’. From the fourteenth century the letters have been mistranslated as the first letters of various three letter acronyms: Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, saviour of mankind), Iesus Habemus Socium (we have Jesus as our companion – motto of the Society of Jesus) and In Hoc Signo (by this sign you shall conquer – motto of the modern Knights Templar). IHS and IHC are properly termed the Chrismon, or Christus monogramma.
As discussed in the staircase lecture on the 2nd degree of Masonry, the terms ‘doric’, ‘ionic’, and corinthian’ are all classes of architecture of Greek origin.
The oldest, simplest, and most massive of the three Greek orders is the Doric, which was applied to temples beginning in the 7th century B.C. The Doric order reached its pinnacle of perfection in the Parthenon.
The next order to be developed by the Greeks was the Ionic. It is called Ionic because it developed in the Ionian islands in the 6th century B.C. Roman historian Vitruvius compared this delicate order to a female form, in contrast to the stockier “male” Doric order.
The Ionic was used for smaller buildings and interiors. It’s easy to recognize because of the two scrolls, called volutes, on its capital. The volutes may have been based on nautilus shells or animal horns.
The third order is the Corinthian, which wasn’t used much by the Greeks. It is named after the city of Corinth, where sculptor Callimachus supposedly invented it by at the end of the 5th century B.C. after he spotted a goblet surrounded by leaves. The oldest known Corinthian column stands inside the 5th-century temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae.
Roman collegia, or groups of people united by a purpose, may have formed into the earliest Masonic lodges. While there is no direct evidence of this, it is thought that Roman collegia may have been the first evolutionary step in development of Masonry.
Each collegium aspired to control or own a hall or meeting place, which it called schola. For officials it had a kind of president called a magistri. Decuriones were a kind of warden, and there were factors to manage the business affairs. Fees and dues went into a common chest, called the arca. It has been alleged by some writers that the funds thus accumulated were used for charitable purposes but the best informed archaeologists dissent from this opinion, and say that the income was employed to defray necessary expenses for the upkeep of headquarters, and for memorial banquets. Oftentimes some well-to-do member or friend left behind a legacy, usually with the direction that it be used for memorial banquets, but sometimes for the benefits of the membership as a whole. Most collegia besought the graces of a patron, often a woman, who, in return for signal honors, helped pay the expenses of the little group. It is supposed by a few chroniclers that these patrons, who often belonged to the upper classes, were more or less useful in controlling the activities of the collegia in the interests of the established order.
Collegia entered Britain with the Roman army of conquest and were responsible for the cities, highways, dikes and churches, some remains of which are still in existence. When the Angles, Saxons and Danes made an end of the Roman civilization in the islands, the collegia continued to exist among them in a somewhat changed form, known as guilds. Among these guilds were those devoted to building and its allied arts, and out of these guilds there emerged in time those organizations of Masons who gave us Freemasonry.
Like the Greeks, two classes of architecture, being Tuscan and Composite. The Composite order is a combination of Ionic and Corinthian orders. The Tuscan order was developed in Rome and does not appear in ancient Greece. It was added to the classical orders by Renaissance architectural scholars who felt that the Tuscan order predates the Greek Doric and Ionic. Tuscan columns are unfluted with a simple base and unadorned capital and entablature.
Two striking similarities exist between the Druids and Freemasonry, including the lay-out of the Masonic lodge or Druidic temple and the origins of how Masonry and Druidism came to England.
The Masonic Lodge, like all Druid temples, is built due east and west. Its form is an oblong square which the ancients believed to be the shape of the world. In the west are two pillars surmounted by globes. The one on the left is supposed to represent the sun, the other the moon. The floor is mosaic, and the walls are adorned with the various symbols of the craft. From a structure and design standpoint, there is not difference between a Masonic lodge and Druidic temple.
As Masons learn, the Craft came to England by Pythagoras who traveled to acquire knowledge in Egypt and in Syria, and in every other land where the Phoenicians had planted masonry. He formed a great lodge at Crotona, and made many masons, some of whom traveled into France, and there made many more and in time, the art passed into England. History teaches us that this is the same story and path which Druids took in coming to England.
Published By: Daniel Genchi
|By history, custom, tradition and ritualistic requirements, the Craft holds dear the days of St. John the Baptist on June 24, and St. John the Evangelist on December 27. A lodge which forgets either forfeits a precious link with the past and loses an opportunity for the renewal of allegiance to everything in Freemasonry symbolized by these Patron Saints. No satisfactory explanation has as yet been advanced to explain why operative Masons adopted two Christian saints, when St. Thomas, the patron of architecture and building, was available.Most Freemasons are agreed that the choice of our ancient brethren was wise. No two great teachers, preachers, wise men, saints, could have been found who better showed in their lives and works the doctrine and teachings of Freemasonry. St. John the Evangelist apparently came into our fraternal system somewhere towards the close of the sixteenth century; at least, we find the earliest authentic lodge minute reference to St. John the evangelist in Edinborough in 1599, although earlier mentions are made in connection with that may be called relatives, if not ancestors, of our Craft. For instance “The Fraternity of St. John” existed in Cologne in 1430. “St. John’s Masonry” is a distinctive term for Scotch Lodges, many of the older of which took the name of the saint. Thus, in its early records, the Lodge of Scoon and Perth is often called the Lodge of St. John, and the Lodge possesses a beautiful mural painting of the-saint, on the east wall of the lodge room.Other Lodges denominated “St. John’s Lodges” were some of those unaffiliated with either the “Moderns” or the “Ancients” in the period between establishment of the Ancients (1751) and the Reconciliation (1813).In many old histories of the Craft is a quaint legend that St. John the Evangelist became a “Grand Master” at the age of ninety. Read More…|
Submitted by: Richard D. Marcus George Washington 1776 Lodge, F&AM #337 Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Published By: Daniel Genchi
|Triads are groups of three ideas or objects. Triads appear in nature, politics, and religion. To early man, the cosmos consisted of the sun, the moon, and the stars. He called the natural elements earth, wind, and fire. He could see triads in the three-leaf clover. He knew he lived in a three-dimensional world. In politics, the US Constitution established three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. And in religion, most faiths teach fealty to God, your neighbor, and yourself. All are arranged in intriguing triads of ideas. Let us endeavor to understand some of the power in triads both historically and for us as Masons.Before we become aware of triads, we think in opposites or dual concepts. Developmental learning theorists easily prove that infants learn through simple stimulus and response events. Touch a newborn baby’s cheek; her instinctive reflex will be to turn her head in that direction. She quickly learns to identify her Mother’s voice from all others. As language is acquired, knowledge can be gathered by asking, “why?” After a child asks a question she is rewarded with an answer. The pattern engages a pair of concepts or dyads. Even as we advance in learning, we make decisions using dyads by giving reasons for and against an action. A straightforward method for determining a course of action involves drawing a vertical line on paper and arranging the pro and con arguments on either side.Furthermore, Socratic teaching methods train students by asking questions. The students must provide the answer or else the teacher must supply it. Catechisms are similarly simple teaching devices for youth. The first question in the Westminster Confession asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The student replies, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The question is neat; the answer is clean. This is an uncomplicated style of learning for the young.But as men, we become more complex. Answers tend to include modifiers such as on the one hand this, but on the other hand that. Dualistic thinking is insufficient for more advanced analysis. Socratic methods tend to give way to Hegelian philosophy that was based on threes: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Inspired by Christian insights and grounded in his mastery of a fund of knowledge, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel attempted to answer all questions–natural, human, and divine–using dialectical reasoning that swung from thesis to antithesis and back again to a richer synthesis. Two opposing forces resolve into a creature wholly different, like the cross-fertilization of two different rose bushes producing a more perfect hybrid.Higher learning tended to use triads. Among the seven liberal arts and sciences are grammar and rhetoric. Grammar uses subject, verb, and object − three things. Adjectives are inflected into good, better, and best − also triads. Read More…|