Freemasonry is a science of symbols, in which, by their proper study, a search is instituted after truth, that truth consisting in the knowledge of the divine and human nature of God and the human Soul.
Bro. A. G. MacKey
Did You Know?
From a speech given by M:.W:. Bill Jones, Grand Master, 1996
Freemasonry is a fraternal society of men that are bound together by invisible and indissoluble ties of brotherly affection, unselfish care and concern.
The Doors of Freemasonry are open to men of good character whose age is 21 or over. Freemasons are men who seek harmony with their fellow creatures, who feel the need for self-improvement, and wish to participate in the adventure of making this world a more congenial place in which to live. The conditions for membership are few. If a man wishes to become a Mason, he must make that wish known to a member of the fraternity. The member will see that he gets a petition.
Every Man Desiring to become a Mason must believe in a Supreme Being. Freemasonry is not a religion and therefore every member is free to follow the Faith or Denomination best agreeing with his personal religious conviction. The necessity to believe in one Supreme Being is an ancient requirement to insure that if an individual recognizes the Fatherhood of God, he can readily accept the concept of the Brotherhood of man.
Masons Help Others. They give almost $1.5 million a day to charity. Along with scholarships and loans to assist young people in furthering their education, masons support important research projects aimed at finding answers to many devastating diseases. One of Masonry's associated groups, the Shriners, operates institutes for the severely burned, along with the famous hospitals for children. Scottish Rite Masons sponsor extensive programs to understand and aid children suffering with language disorders.
Freemasonry Does Not Support any particular political position. It has long stood for separation of Church and State, and has been a champion of Free Public Education. Politics are never discussed in meetings.
Freemasonry is a society of builders, equating the principles required to erect the great Cathedrals and edifices which have endured the centuries, to the building of strong moral fiber, whereby each reflective member is strengthened in character, virtues, morality, and truth. The doctrines of Masonry are the most beautiful that is possible to imagine. They breath the simplicity of the earliest ages yet convey a philosophy in step with the most sophisticated and technological society.
Freemasonry encourages awareness of a man's responsibility to his Creator, his Country, his Neighbor, and his Family.
Becoming a Mason is a little different than joining most organizations. We are a fraternity—the oldest and most well known in the world and there are certain procedures and requirements in order to join.
The absolute requirements for becoming a Mason are:
You should be someone who does, or wants to learn to enjoy the company of other men from all different social classes, faiths, backgrounds, races, countries, etc. Masonry is universal in its ideals.
To join, all you have to do ask a Mason: Preferably someone you know or at least who lives or works nearby. If you are interested, our officers are listed on this website and you may feel free to contact any of them or contact the Lodge by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page and we will get back to you.
As we continue to improve ourselves in Masonry, we are indeed improving life. We know from history that without ideals to guide us, the garden of a man's life will not grow into a place of beauty.
Bro. Stanley F. Maxwell
A society without standards will be a society without stability and it will one day go down. Not only nations but whole civilizations have perished in the past for lack of righteousness. Hence the importance attached to the square of virtue and the reason why Masons call it the symbol of their Craft. It is the symbol of that moral law upon which life must be based if it is to continue.
Bro. Joseph Fort Newton
You are a stranger to Freemasonry and Freemasonry is a stranger to you. You are about to join more than just a Lodge. You are about to join a fraternity with over 20,000 members in Arkansas with over 200 Lodges. In the U. S. alone,
there are over 3,000,000 members and nearly 14,000 lodges; with thousands of Lodges and tens of thousands members in other countries throughout the world. Freemasonry has a history stretching back over many centuries, an intricate
system of laws, a large number of purposes, ideals and obligations, many rights, privileges, and duties with Ancient Landmarks to be preserved.
It is too much to expect that without guidance and education, you will be able to make yourself at home in such a society or unaided, to take your proper place in the Lodge work with credit to yourself and honor to the fraternity.
You have the right to expect that the Lodge will give you the information that you need. Without proper instruction and information, your Lodge experience will never be what it is supposed to be. This is not your typical organization! This is an organization that you can expect to be a member of until the day that you die. Most people who join civic organizations are members only for an average of 7 years. Most members of the Masonic fraternity are members
for a lifetime. Failure to receive proper instruction, to go on undirected and uninstructed, may be why some of the brethren cease to attend Lodge or drop their membership.
Again, this is not your typical organization. It is necessary that you become inspired in the true spirit of Freemasonry and learn to believe in, as well as understand, its purposes, ideals, rules and laws. As
seems to be typical in America today, you cannot just sit by as a spectator and watch as the brethren perform the various ceremonies on which you are about to enter. You must be a participant. You must read,
study, and learn about this great fraternity. If you are not willing to do this, you have perhaps made the wrong choice in your selection of an organization to join. Believe us, the effort is well worth it. Brotherhood is of
greater importance today to a man than ever before.
Before you take your first step into this great fraternity, there are certain things you must understand. There are five subjects that we wish to address in this lesson before you ever step into the Masonic Temple. They are:
To begin with, you should thoroughly understand that Freemasonry is entirely serious in character. Contrary to what you may have heard or may hear, there is no horseplay or frivolity in our Degrees. Their primary purpose is to
teach, to convey to you a knowledge of the principles of the institution with which you are about to unite. With this in mind, you should prepare yourself to approach the three Degrees with an open and relaxed mind, determined
to absorb as much as possible, without fear of ridicule or indignity.
Our ritual refers to Freemasonry as being "a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." It might be said that Freemasonry is a system of moral living, surrounded by mysticism, expressing a belief
in God and eternal life and teaching brotherly love. Another explanation which might be offered is that Freemasonry has gathered together or taken those certain principles or fundamental truths which have been proven by time
to be necessary for right thinking and moral living. Further, it presents these fundamentals to its initiates for their use in formulating their own personal code of moral living. It is recognized that all of our civilization
and life are built on a foundation of two accepted truths: the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Freemasonry encompasses both of these truths, but it places the emphasis of its teaching on the Brotherhood of Man
and all that it implies.
The primary doctrine of Freemasonry is Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Its principal virtues are Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice. These principles or beliefs cover a broad and comprehensive field,
actually supplying the pattern to meet every experience in human life.
These principles or truths of Freemasonry will be presented to you in the upcoming three degrees of Masonry. The presentation will be made symbolically by a system that is unique and peculiarly our own. Its origins can be traced
back to the medieval guilds of operative masons who built the great cathedrals of Europe. The nature of this presentation is such that the benefit you derive from the Degrees will depend entirely upon you. The good you get
out of Masonry may be much, or it may be little, depending upon your willingness to study, digest and put into practice the thoughts and doctrines that will be presented.
Each Lodge is composed of a group of men desirous of learning about and practicing Freemasonry, bound together by their Masonic obligations and working under or controlled by Masonic law. Each Lodge, after meeting certain requirements,
is granted a Charter by the Grand Lodge of its particular jurisdiction, by which it is authorized to meet, act and work as a Masonic body. It is governed by a set of officers elected or appointed annually. The principal officer
of a Lodge is the Worshipful Master, who rules and governs under Masonic law without question, answerable only to the Grand Lodge and to the Grand Master. He is assisted by a Senior Warden and a Junior Warden,
who together with the Treasurer and the Secretary, comprise the five officers elected annually by the membership. In addition, there are other necessary officers either elected or appointed by the Worshipful Master.
Each individual Lodge, or constituent Lodge as we call it, is ordinarily limited to a definite area of community. There are some 14,000 Lodges in the country and each is governed by a Grand Lodge. In the U.S., we have a Grand Lodge
in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each Grand Lodge is supreme unto itself and owes no allegiance to any higher authority other than to certain fixed Masonic usages, or "Landmarks" brought to us from past
ages. Each Grand Lodge passes it own laws, adopts it own ritual, sets its own standards and governs all Lodges and individual Freemasons within its own jurisdiction. However, you should understand that our principles are fixed
and that Freemasonry is basically the same from one Grand Jurisdiction to the next. Though the rituals and regulations might be slightly different in each jurisdiction, every member believes in and practices the fundamental
principles and doctrines of our Order.
On the next page, we will discuss where Masonry came from. This will give you an idea of our rich and proud heritage and should make you even more proud of the decision that you have made in seeking Masonic membership.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and romantic parts of Freemasonry is its history. You may have heard or read that Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest organizations. In general, its history may be divided into two distinct
eras or parts.
The first refers to the era which came before recorded or written history. The second refers to the era which runs back from the present day, approximately 800 years and covers the medieval period of which there is a definite record.
There are those who believe that Freemasonry originated with the very beginning of civilization, indeed with the start of intelligent thinking in man.
However, there is no absolute basis for such a belief. We do know that as time and experience proved certain truths, these truths were taken and carried to the thinking people of the various tribes. We know, also that in several
of the ancient civilizations there existed certain mystic societies; that these mystic societies had a lodge form, with lodge officers, all similar in character and all teaching moral living. While we refer to ourselves as
"Freemasons", the accepted term for hundreds of years was simply "Masons". Defined, Mason is derived from the Greek maconetus, meaning builders.
Starting some 800 years ago and lasting nearly 400 years, was the era during which was built, in western Europe, the hundreds of great Gothic Cathedrals. Many of these immense structures still stand today as a memorial to the past.
To accomplish what they did, the Masons of that era banded themselves together in workmen's Guilds. Each of the Guilds formed a lodge, with regular lodge officers and with degrees of membership. (you may read more about these
later by visiting the Misc. Masonic Education web pages)
The first or lowest form of members were apprentices or bearers of burdens. The second form were craftsmen or fellows of the craft, the skilled workmen on the Temples and Cathedrals. The third and highest form were the masters,
constituting those who were the overseers and superintendents on the building. Also, certain states of proficiency were required before a man could pass from one degree to the next. Furthermore, they all taught and required
of their membership certain attributes of moral conduct. It was these Guild Lodges that actually gave birth to modern Masonic Lodges and to present day Freemasonry.
Why are we called Freemasons? There are many theories: a man was a Freemason because his ancestors were not slaves nor was he a slave; he was so called because he was free within his Guild, or free of the Guild's
laws and could thus "travel into foreign countries" and work where he would; he was a Freemason because he worked in freestone, which is any stone which can be cut, smoothed, carved in any direction; he was free when he had
passed his apprenticeship and became a Fellow of the Craft; he was free when he had left the status of serf and legally became free. Probably at one time or another, masons were called Freemasons for any of these reasons or
for all of them.
The consensus leans to the theory that the Freemason was such because of his skill, knowledge and abilities which set him free of those conditions, laws, rules, and customs which circumscribed Masons of lesser abilities in the
Cathedral building age. We refer to these Guild masons as "Operative Masons", because they actually operated as and performed as working Masons in the building of the Gothic Cathedrals. However, during the
16th century, there began a decline in the Gothic building and with it a decline in the strength of the Guild Lodges. For 200 years these Lodges struggled and fought for their very existence. During this struggle, some of the
Lodges, to preserve themselves, began taking in other members. That is, the took in men of high moral character but not necessarily followers or skilled in the builder's trades. Then non-operative member were referred to as
"Accepted Masons" or later on as "Speculative Masons". This was particularly true in the British Isles, where a considerable number of men from all walks of life were admitted to membership
in the Lodges of Freemasons.
The start of the 18th century saw the birth of modern architecture and with it the complete fade out of Gothic building. It appeared that Freemasonry was doomed, when on June 24, 1717, four Lodges in London met together at the
Goose and Gridiron Ale house and decided to form a Grand Lodge, probably for no other reason than to strengthen and preserve themselves. In 1723, they adopted a Constitution. Their success lead to the establishment of still
other Grand Lodges. In 1725, some of the Lodges in Ireland formed a Grand Lodge, and a similar body was instituted in Scotland in 1736. Moreover, the original Grand Lodge of England did not remain without rivals and at one
time in the 18th century, there existed in England three Grand Lodges in addition to the one organized in 1717.
Two of these died out without influencing the history of Masonry in general, but the third had a great part in the spread and popularizing of Masonry throughout the world. It style itself the "Ancient" Grand Lodge, while the original body was known as the "Modern" Grand Lodge. The two were long and vigorous rivals, but they finally united in 1813 into the present United Grand Lodge of England. From one of these two Grand
bodies in England, or from that of Ireland or Scotland, are descended directly or otherwise, all other Grand Lodges in the world today.
It was inevitable that Freemasonry should follow the colonists to America, where it played a most important part in the establishment of the 13 colonies. Freemasonry was formally recognized for the first time in American with the
appointment by the Grand Lodge of England of a Provincial Grand Master in Massachusetts in 1733, Brother Henry Price. American Masons worked under foreign jurisdiction until 1781 when the first Grand Lodge was established in
One of the most romantic portions of all Masonic history lies in the story of the part played by Freemasons in the formation of our country. We will never know just how great a part Freemasonry actually did play, but without exaggeration,
we can say that it contributed significantly to the founding of this great democracy. George Washington was a staunch Mason and it is said that before the close of the American Revolution, he placed no one but Freemasons in
posts of importance. He was the first of 14 Masonic presidents and the only one to serve as Worshipful Master of a Lodge and President at the same time. The others after Washington were Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson,
Garfield, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Truman, and Ford. Of these, Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman also served as Grand Masters of Tennessee and Missouri respectively.
In the struggle for Independence, such well known patriots as Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Hancock, as well as Lafayette, von Steuben, and many others, were members of the Craft. No
doubt Freemasonry was responsible for and shaped much of their thinking and opinions.
Many men whose names have been instrumental to the history and development of our civilization have been Freemasons. For your specific information, the following are but a few of the many famous historical figures that have engaged
in our ceremonies.
EXPLORERS: Hiram Bingham (Discoverer of Machu Picchu), James Bruce (Discoverer of the source of the Blue Nile), Adm. Richard E. Byrd, Christopher "Kit" Carson, William Clark; Merriwether Lewis, and Robert E. Peary.
WORLD LEADERS: Emilio Aguinaldo (Philippine Patriot and General), Miguel Aleman (Mexican President 1947-52), Edward Benes (President of Czechoslovakia 1939-48), Sveinn Bjornsson (1st President of Iceland), Simon
Bolivar ("The George Washington of South America") Napoleon Bonaparte (and his four brothers), King Charles XIII (King of Sweden 1748-1818), King Edward VII and King Edward VIII (Kings of England, 1901-10 & 36, respectively),
Francis I and Francis II (Holy Roman Emperors, 1745-65 & 1768-1806), Frederick the Great (King of Prussia 1740-86), George I & George II (Kings of Greece, 1845-1913 & 1922-47), George IV & George VI (Kings of England 1760-1820
& 1820-30), Gustavus VI Adolphus (King of Sweden 1792-1809), Kamehemeha IV and Kemehemeha V (Kings of Hawaii (1854-63 & 1863-72) Leopold I (King of Belgium (1831-65), Peter the Great (Emperor of Russia 1689-1725), William I
(King of Prussia 186188), William II (King of the Netherlands (1792-1849), William IV (King of England (1830-37) and many others.
UNITED STATES PRESIDENTS: George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin
D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Gerald Ford.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: James C. Baker (Bishop, Methodist Church, organized first Wesley Foundation in U.S.), Hosea Ballou (Founder, Universalist Church), Robert E. B. Baylor (Baptist clergyman, founder of Baylor University),
Preston Bradley (founder of the Peoples Church), Father Francisco Calvo (Catholic Priest who started Freemasonry in Costa Rica in 1865), Hugh I. Evans (National head of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.), Most Reverend Geoffrey
F. Fisher (former Archbishop of Canterbury), Eugene M. Frank (Methodist Bishop), Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (Methodist Episcopal minister and author) Titus Low (President of Methodist Council of Bishops) and many others.
ENTERTAINMENT: John Wayne, Gene Autry, Ernest Borgnine, Joe E. Brown, Bob Burns, Eddie Cantor, Charles D. Coburn, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Donald Crisp, Cecil B. DeMille, Richard Dix, Douglas Fairbanks Sr.,
W.C. Fields, Clark Gable, Arthur Godfrey, David W. Griffith, Oliver Hardy, Jean Hersholt, Harry Houdini, Berl Ives, Al Jolson, Charles "Buck" Jones, Harry Kellar, Harold C. Lloyd, Tom Mix, Dick Powell, Michael Richards, Will
Rogers, Charles S. "Tom Thumb" Stratton, Richard B. "Red" Skelton, Paul Whiteman, Ed Wynn, Darryl Zanuck and many others.
UNITED STATES PATRIOTS: Francis Scott Key (wrote our National Anthem), Ralph Bellamy (wrote our Pledge of Allegiance), Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Patrick Henry and many others.
MILITARY LEADERS: Generals John J. Pershing, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Joseph Stillwell, Johnathon Wainwright, Curtis E. LaMay, Omar N. Bradley, Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, Claire L. Chenault, Mark Clark,
James Doolittle, Admirals David G. Farragut (First Admiral of the U.S. Navy), Ernest J. King, Richard Byrd and many others.
SPORTS: Grover C. Alexander, Cy Young, Jack Dempsey, Arnold Palmer, Tyrus R. "Ty" Cobb, Carl O. Hubbell, Christopher "Christy" Mathewson, Mordecai P.C. Brown, Gordon "Mickey" Corchran, Avery Brundage, Albert "Happy"
Chandler, Branch Rickey, Knute Rockne and many others.
POLITICAL: Sir Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, Thomas Dewey, Everett Dirksen, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, John Marshall, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey and others.
COMPOSERS: Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, John Phillip Souza, Richard Wagner, Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Listz, and many others.
INVENTORS AND SCIENTISTS: Samuel Colt (firearms), Sir Alexander Fleming (penicillin), Edward Jenner (vaccination) Simon Lake (first practical submarine), John L. McAdam (Macadamized roads) and many others.
YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOUNDERS: Daniel Carter Beard (Boy Scouts), Frank S. Land (International Order of DeMolay), William Mark Sexton (International Order of Rainbow for Girls)
WRITERS: Robert Burns, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), Edgar A. Guest, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Pope, Sir Walter
Scott, Johathan Swift, Lowell Thomas, Voltair and many others.
SCULPTORS: Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum (together carved Mt. Rushmore National Memorial), Johann G. Schadow (Prussian Court Sculptor) J. Otto Schweizer and many others.
BUSINESS: John Jacob Astor (financier), Lloyd Balfour (Jewelry), Lawrence Bell (Bell Aircraft Corp.), William H. Dow (Dow ChemicalCo.), Henry Ford, Alfred Fuller (Fuller Brush), King C. Gillett (Gillett Razor Co.),
Sir Thomas Lipton (tea), Fredrick Maytag, Andrew W. Mellon (banker), James C. Penny, George Pullman, David Sarnoff (father of T.V.), Leland Stanford (railroads - Stanford Univ.) and many others.
ASTRONAUTS: Ed Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Gordon Cooper, Don Eisle, Virgil Grissom, Ed Michell, Tom Stafford, Fred Haise, and Wally Shirr.
Entered Apprentice (EA) Education
Toleration, holding that every other man has the same right to his opinion and faith that we have to ours; and liberality, holding that as no human being can with certainty say, in the clash and conflict of hostile faiths and creeds, what is truth, or that he is surely in possession of it, so every one should feel that it is quite possible that another equally honest and sincere with himself, and yet holding the contrary opinion, may himself be in possession of the truth.
Bro. Albert Pike
Let us begin by defining the term "Entered Apprentice." As an Entered Apprentice Mason, the first step in your journey to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason has been taken. We are sure that you found your initiation
an experience you will never forget. A degree in masonry is not an isolated experience once had and then done with, but is an everenduring privilege.
You can sit in an Entered Apprentice Lodge to observe, to participate in, and to study its ceremonies. Your possession of the degree is a life-long possession which you can continue to enjoy and to enter into as long as you live.
As an Entered Apprentice Mason you therefore are a learner, or beginner, in Speculative Masonry. You have taken the first step in the mastery of our art. Certain things are expected of you.
First, you are expected to show a certain humility. As a learner, you must have guides and teachers, and you must be willing to have them lead you.
Second, you must learn the Lecture of the Degree, so as to prove your proficiency in open Lodge. The purpose of learning the lecture is for you to master it so thoroughly that its lesson will remain with you for life.
Third, you must study and improve yourself in Masonry in all other possible ways. Your Lodge will not be content merely to receive your dues; it requires that you become a real and active member.
Fourth, you will learn the rules and regulations that govern an Entered Apprentice Mason.
As you stood in the northeast corner of the Lodge, you were taught a certain lesson concerning a cornerstone. From that lesson, you should know that you are a cornerstone of the Craft. It is our hope and prayer that you will prove
to be a solid foundation as you proceed to the Fellow Craft Degree and then to the Master Mason Degree. Our great Fraternity depends on new members like you to conduct its work in the years to come.
The symbols, emblems and allegorical ceremonies of the First Degree each have a meaning; taken together, these meanings comprise the teaching of the Degree. Our purpose here is to give you some of the information which will show that
every detail of the ritual is filled with a definite significance which each Mason can learn if he applies himself.
The Hoodwink represents the darkness in which an uninitiated man stands as regards his Masonic life; for this reason it is removed at the moment of enlightenment. Its removal makes us aware of goodness, truth, and
The Cable Tow is a symbol of all those external restraints by which a man is controlled by others, or by forces outside himself. If a man does not keep the law of his own free will, he must be compelled to keep it
by compulsion. The removal of the Cable Tow means that when a man becomes the master of himself, he will keep the law as a matter of moral right.
The Lodge is a symbol of the world, initiation means birth, and the Great Pillars signify entrance into a new kind of life. The Sharp Instrument means, among other things, that which is the only real penalty for violating
The Rite of Circumambulation means that the Masonic life is a progressive journey, from station to station of attainment, and that a Mason will always be in search of more light. Approaching the East is significant,
because the East is the source of light.
The Altar is the most important article of furniture in a Lodge room and a symbol of that place which the worship of God holds in Masonry - a place at the center, around which all else revolves. The Obligations have
in them many literal meanings and as such are the foundations of our disciplinary law. But over and above this, they signify the nature and place of obligation in human life.
The Great Lights are the Holy Bible, the Square, and the Compasses. As a Great Light, the Holy Bible represents the will of God as man understands it; the Square is the physical life of man under his human conditions;
the Compasses signify the moral and spiritual life. If a man acts in obedience to the will of God, according to the dictates of his conscience, he will be living in the illumination of the Great Lights and cannot go astray.
The Rite of Salutation in which the candidate salutes each station in turn is, in addition to its function as a portion of the ceremonies, also a symbol of a Mason's respect for and obedience to all duly constituted
authorities. The Old Charges state this is a single sentence: "A Mason is a peaceable subject to the Civil Powers wherever he resides or works." The same significance is had by the office of Worshipful Master, who is a symbol as
well as the executive officers of the Lodge. As the sun rules the day, he rules and governs his Lodge. His title, "Worshipful", means that he is worthy of reverence, respect, and obedience.
The Apron is at once the emblem of purity and the badge of a Mason.
The Lesson of Charity is to impress upon the candidate the importance of showing compassion toward his fellow man.
The Working Tools represent those moral and spiritual virtues which should govern our conduct.
The Northeast Corner is traditionally the place where the cornerstone of a building is laid. When the Apprentice is made to stand there, it is because he is the cornerstone of the future Craft.
The Entered Apprentice is himself a symbol, one of the noblest in the whole emblematic system of the Craft. He represents youth, typified by the rising sun; but beyond that, he represents educated youth, youth willing
to submit itself to discipline and to seek knowledge in order to learn the great Art of Life.
Psalm 133, quoted in its entirety, is the opening scripture for Freemasonry. The Psalm is taken from the "Wisdom Psalms" and was one of the Psalms, or songs, that the worshippers sang as they walked up the mountain to Jerusalem and
the Temple. It was engraved upon the memory of every loyal Jew, for its meaning was to bind all the people tightly in the bonds of love and loyalty.
This Psalm begins with the characteristic word of introduction, "Behold!" In other words, "Listen, take heed, this is greatly important." The word "Behold!" had the same power as that other very familiar phrase, "Thus saith the Lord!".
Behold! How good and pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity.
This Psalm was written after the Jews had returned from their Babylonian captivity and they had returned with foreign wives, foreign ideas, and a very loose hold upon God. They all needed to draw close together for national strength,
for closer religious ties, for strict observance of the laws of God. Family life had deteriorated under their captivity and many of the Jews who returned to Palestine had been born in Babylon and had no familiar ties to their real
In the olden days brethren dwelt in close proximity; they lived as close to their birthplace as possible; they lived under the influence of the larger family, or clan, or tribe. They had a closeness; they felt a closeness; they had
a very high and very deep sense of loyalty to all the brethren. These attributes had been broken down in captivity, and the call was to remember "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Therefore,
it was necessary to bring a reminder of the glory of the past and the advantage of the future if men would live and act as brothers.
The writer of this Psalm then brought up a reminder of a past custom. A host would anoint his guest with the perfumed oil of anointing that would fill the house with its scent. Turning to the historical Aaron, the writer reminds his
readers of the beard of Aaron and his beautiful priestly robes. Aaron typified the "Called of God man," .."The man separated of God" for a special task. Aaron was anointed for his priestly office in a beautiful ceremony before
the massed people. If brothers will dwell together in unity it is like this:
It is like the precious ointment upon the head,
That ran down upon the beard,
Even Aaron's beard,
That went down to the skirts of his garments.
This oil of perfume, this oil of anointing, gave forth a scent that all could be conscious of and all would be impressed. "Brethren in unity" brings a consciousness of the perfume of peace and strength. But there was something more.
Palestine was a harsh land of little rainfall, many rocks, hot sun, little fertile soil, and many droughts. The mountains were upon every hand, dry, barren, and all but hospitable. But there was something about the mountains that appealed.
When brothers dwell in unity, it is as the freshness of the dew upon those mountains:
As the dew of Hermon.
And as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even
Brothers in unity refresh each other for there is strength in unity and the brotherly spirit is beautiful, refreshing, and restoring. And when unity is established then there is the blessing of the Lord God. Only in unity, implies the writer of the Psalm, where the spirit of brotherhood prevails, may the Lord give His blessing forevermore.
Fellow Craft (FC) Education
Freemasonry is 'veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols' because these are the surest way by which moral and ethical truths may be taught. It is not only with the brain and with the mind that the initiate must take Freemasonry but also with the heart.
Bro. C. H. Claudy
This means that you passed through its ceremonies, assumed its obligations, are registered as such in the books of the Lodge, and can sit in either a Lodge of Entered Apprentices or of Fellowcraft, but not in a Lodge of Master Masons.
Doubtless you recognized in the Fellowcraft Degree a call for learning, an urge to study. Truly, here is a great Degree -- one to muse upon and to study; one to see many, many times and still not come to the end of its stirring teachings.
There are two great ideas embodied in the Fellowcraft Degree. They are not the only two ideas in it, to be sure; but if you understand these, they will lead you into an understanding of the others. But before we turn to these two main ideas, exactly what is a Fellowcraft?
Fellowcraft is one of a large number of terms which have a technical meaning peculiar to Freemasonry and is seldom or never found elsewhere. In the dictionary sense it is not difficult to define. A "craft" was an organization of the skilled workmen in some trade or calling, for example, masons, carpenters, painters, sculptors, barbers, etc. A "fellow" meant one who held full membership in such a craft, was obligated to the same duties, and allowed the same privileges.
Since the skilled crafts are no longer organized as they once were, the term is no longer in use with its original sense. It is more difficult to give it the larger meaning as it is found in Freemasonry, but we may be assisted to that end by noting that with us it possesses two quite separate and distinct meanings, on of which we may call the Operative meaning, the other the Speculative. We can first consider the OPERATIVE meaning.
In its operative period, Freemasons were skilled workmen engaged in some branch of the building trade, or art of architecture; as such, like all other skilled workmen, they had an organized craft of their own. The general form in which this craft was organized was called a "guild." A Lodge was a local, and usually temporary organization within the guild. This guild had officers, laws, rules, regulations, and customs of its own, rigorously binding on all members equally.
It divided its membership into two grades, the lower of which was composed of apprentices. The Operative Freemasons recruited their membership from qualified lads of twelve to fifteen years of age. When such a boy proved acceptable to the members, he was required to swear to be obedient, upon which he was bound over to some Master Mason; after a time, if he proved worthy, his name was formally entered in the books of the Lodge, thereby giving him his title of Entered Apprentice. For about seven years this boy lived with his master, gave his master implicit obedience in all things, and toiled much but received no pay except his board, lodging, and clothing.
In the Lodge life, he held a place equally subordinate because he could not attend a Lodge of Master Masons, had no voice or vote, and could not hold office. All this means that during his long apprenticeship, he was really a bond servant with many duties, few rights, and very little freedom. At the end of his apprenticeship, he was once more examined in Lodge. If his record was good, if he could prove his proficiency under test and the members voted in his favor, he was released from his bonds and made a full member of the Craft, with the same duties, rights, and privileges as all others.
In the sense that he had thus become a full member, he was called a "Fellow of the Craft." In the sense that he had mastered the art and no longer needed a teacher, he was called a "Master Mason." So far as his grade was concerned, these two terms meant the same thing. Such was the Operative meaning of the Fellowcraft.
We come next to the meaning of the term Speculative Masonry. Operative Freemasonry began to decline about the time of the Reformation when Lodges became few in number and small in membership. After a time, a few of the Lodges in England began to admit into membership men with no intention of practicing the trade of Operative Masonry, but were attracted by the Craft's antiquity and for social reasons. These were called SPECULATIVE Masons.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Speculatives had so increased their numbers that at last they gained control, and during the 1st quarter of that century, they completely transformed the Craft into the SPECULATIVE Fraternity as we know it today. Although they adhered as closely as possible to the old customs, they were compelled to make some radical changes in order to fit the Society for its new purposes.
One of the most important of these changes was to abandon the old rule of dividing the members into two grades or degrees, and to adopt the new rule of dividing it into three grades or degrees. It was necessary to find a name for the new degree. Therefore, the degrees of symbolic Masonry became known as the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
Symbols, Ideas, and Allegories of the Fellowcraft Degree
On the previous page, we asserted that there were two great ideas embodied in the Fellowcraft degree. We now turn our attention to these ideas. One of these is the idea of adulthood. Whereas the Entered Apprentice represents youth standing at the portals of life, his eyes on the rising sun, the Fellowcraft is a man in the prime of life -- experienced, strong, resourceful, able to bear the heat and burden of the day. When he comes to experience adulthood, a man discovers that the mere fact that he is forty or fifty year of age has little to do with it. Adulthood is a condition, a state of life, a situation charged with a set of duties.
What does the Second degree have to say to the Fellowcraft, whether in Masonry or in the world at large? The answer to that brings us to our second idea: that the Fellowcraft may so equip himself that he will prove adequate to the tasks which will be laid upon him. What is that equipment ?
The degree gives us at least three answers. The first is that the Fellowcraft must gain experience from contact with the realities of existence. You will recall what was said about the five senses. Needless to say, that portion of the Winding Stair or Staircase Lecture was not intended to be a disquisition on either physiology or psychology. It is symbolism, and it represents what a man learns through seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, and smelling. In short, experience from year to year until at last through the very contacts of his senses with objects which make up the world he has come to understand that world, how to deal with it, how to master it at that point where he stands.
The second answer is education. After all, an individual's possible experience is extremely limited, circumscribed by the length of his Cable Tow. To our own store of hard-won experience we must add the experience of others, supplementing our experience by the information of countless men brought to us by the knowledge taught us by our teachers.
Consider the Apprentice in the days when Masons were builders of great and costly structures. He was a mere boy, entirely ignorant of the secrets and arts of the builders; and yet, after seven years or so, he was able to produce his master's piece and to take his rightful place at any task to which the Worshipful Master might appoint him. All this was accomplished by teaching -- by the Master Masons about him guiding his clumsy hands and passing on to him in many, many lessons what they had been years in acquiring.
Such is education. It is symbolized in the Second Degree by the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Perhaps you were somewhat nonplussed to hear what was said about Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. Perhaps you wondered what such schoolroom topics had to do with Masonry. Now you should understand. The explanations of these subjects were not meant to be academic lectures out of a college course at all. Like so much also in the Degree it was symbolism, and symbolism signifies all that is meant by education.
A Fellowcraft of life, then must be equipped with experiences and knowledge. Is there anything more? Yes there is -- our third answer is wisdom. A man may see, hear, touch and handle things so often and so much that he has a rich experience, yet not have knowledge; and a man may have such knowledge, may have mastered some task or job or trade.
Yet he may be unhappy and a failure as a human being because he cannot adjust himself to the complex system of realities, experience and facts which make up life as a whole. He may lack wisdom -- competency to deal with each situation that arises -- it matters not what it might be.
The Middle Chamber, which is so conspicuous an element in the Second Degree, doubtless has many meanings. But it certainly has this: that it is a symbol of the wisdom of which we have just been speaking. Through the experiences of the Five senses, up through the knowledge gained of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, the candidate is called to advance, as on a winding staircase. That balanced wisdom of life in which the senses, emotion, intellect, character, work, deeds, habits, and soul of a man are knit together in unity, until at least he sees that "hieroglyphic light which none that craftsmen ever saw."
In the Fellowcraft Degree, you also discovered that a number of emblems and symbols of the First Degree reappeared. Among the allegories peculiar to the Fellowcraft Degree, the most striking and important one is the rite in which you, as a candidate, acted the part of a man approaching King Solomon's Temple. You came into its outer precincts, climbed a winding staircase, passed between the Two Pillars, and at last entered its Middle Chamber. Standing in it, you acted the part of a Fellowcraft workman who received his wages of corn, wine, and oil; and during certain stages of this allegorical journey, you listened to various parts of a discourse which Masonry calls the Middle Chamber lecture. This entire allegory is a symbolic picture of the true and inner meaning of initiation.
The Temple is the life into which a man is initiated. That which lay outside the walls of the Temple, from which you as a candidate were supposed to come, represents what in Masonry is called the profane world - not profane in the usual sense of the word as being blasphemous, but profane in the technical sense; the word means "shut away from the altar,' and it thereby signifies all who are not initiated.
When you are instructed not to reveal the secrets to a profane, it means not to reveal them to one who is not a Mason. The stairs you climbed represented the steps by which the life of initiation is approached --- qualification, petition, election, and the Three Degrees. The Pillars represent birth; when you passed between them it signified that you were no longer a profane but had now entered the circle of initiates. The Middle Chamber also represents initiation completed; once arrived there, the candidate received the rewards for the ordeals and arduous labors he has endured on the way; he has arrived at his goal. Such is the meaning of your allegorical entrance into Solomon's Temple as a candidate in the Fellowcraft Degree.
You can see at once that all the other symbols and allegories in the Degree are to be interpreted in the light of that meaning; you can also see that in the light of that meaning, the Degree itself and as a whole becomes a living power by which to shape and build our lives. The above is one interpretation of the symbols and allegories of this degree. As you progress and continue to study Masonry, you may find other interpretations equally as meaningful as these advanced here.
You will recall that during the conferral of the Fellowcraft Degree, a portion of the Holy Scriptures was read to you. The reading was either from the Book of Amos, Chapter 7, verses 7 and 8 or may have been from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20, verses 2 -7.
The Fellowcraft Degree is one in which a great moral lesson is taught by the Plumb Line. In all languages and in the experience of all builders, the use of the plumb line in fundamental. Builders depend upon the plumb line to erect perpendiculars; buildings straight and true and upright. From the use of the plumb line, we get such words as rectitude, just, true, rightness, straightness, integrity, honesty, and many others.
Thus he shewed me;
And Behold the Lord stood
Upon a wall made by a plumb-line
With a plumb-line in His hand.
And the Lord said unto me:
'Amos, what seest thou?
And I said, 'A plumb-line.'
Then said the Lord,
'Behold, I will set a plumb-line
In the midst of my people Israel,
I will not again pass by them any more.
Book of Amos, Chapter 7, verses 7 and 8.
The background of this Scripture from Amos is interesting. Amos was an ordinary citizen of Judea who was moved of God to go to the Northern Kingdom and point out the sins that were bringing that nation to ruin.
He prophesied sometime between 783 and 745 B.C. Israel was prosperous, too prosperous, for most of the people had forgotten God and were living in a time when honor and justice were forgotten virtues. There were the very rich and the very poor and a condition wherein judges could be bought as bread or oil.
The nation was crooked inside and out. God was disgusted with their evils and sins. Amos could see no hope for Israel and felt that the only remedy God had was to destroy them utterly. So this message was one of gloom and ruin.
If you read further, you will find what God meant when He said that He would not "pass by them any more." He meant that He would not visit them, He would ignore them, they would be destroyed. "And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
The plumb-line is an instrument of testing. God had tested the morals of Israel and found them crooked. God had tested the loyalty of Israel and found it covered with avarice, greed, and sin. This is a lesson of judgment. We are continually being judged by God's plumb-line...... we as individuals, as a ...... nation, as a world, even as Masons.
Master Mason (MM) Education
Man's action are the picture book of his creeds.
Bro. Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is indeed a "sublime" degree, which a man may study for years without exhausting. In the First and Second Degrees you were surrounded by the symbols and emblems of architecture. In the Third Degree you found a different order of symbolism, cast in the language of the soul --- its life, its tragedy, and its triumph.
To recognize this is the first step in interpretation of this sublime and historic step in so-called "Blue Lodge" Masonry. The second point is to recognize that the Third Degree has many meanings. It is not intended to be a lesson complete, finished, or closed.
There are many interpretations of the Degrees. But most essentially, it is a drama of the immortality of the soul, setting forth the truth that, while a man withers away and perishes, there is that in him which perishes not.
That this is the meaning most generally accepted by the Craft is shown by our habits of language. We say that a man is initiated an Entered Apprentice, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft, and raised to the sublime degree ofMaster Mason. By this it appears that it is the raising that most Masons have found to be the center of the Master Mason Degree.
By this it appears that it is the raising that most Masons have found to be the center of the Master Mason Degree. Evil in the form of tragedy is set forth in the drama of the Third Degree. Here is a good and wise man, a builder, working for others and giving others work, the highest we know, as it is dedicated wholly to God.
Through no fault of his own, he experiences tragedy from friends and fellow Masons. Here is evil pure and simple, a complete picture of human tragedy. How did the Craft meet this tragedy?
The first step was to impose the supreme penalty on those who had possessed the will of destruction and therefore had to be destroyed lest another tragedy follow. The greatest enemy man has makes war upon the good; to it no quarter can be given.
The next step was to discipline and to pardon those who acted not out of an evil will, but one of weakness. Forgiveness is possible if a man himself condemns the evil he had done, since in spite of his weakness he retains his faith in the good.
The next step was to recover from the wreckage caused by the tragedy whatever value it had left undestroyed. Confusion had come upon the Craft; order was restored. Loyal Craftsmen took up the burdens left by traitors. It is in the nature of such tragedy that the good suffer for evil and it is one of the prime duties of life that a man shall toil to undo the harm wrought by sin and crime, else in time the world would be destroyed by the evils that are done in it.
But what of the victim of the tragedy? Here is the most profound and difficult lesson of the drama. It is difficult to understand, difficult to believe if one has not been truly initiated into the realities of the spiritual life.
Because the victim was a good man, his goodness rooted in an unvarying faith in God, that which destroyed him in one sense could not destroy him in another. The spirit in him rose above the evil; by virtue of it he was raised from a dead level to a living perpendicular.
In your experience with the ritual you have learned that every detail in the ceremonies of initiation is full of meaning. In the Third Degree are the deepest secrets and the most profound teachings of our Fraternity.
You passed through the degree in one night. To understand it will require many nights. In the paragraphs that follow we can give you but a few hints, in the hope that they may inspire you to study the Degree for yourself.
The symbolism of the First and Second degrees centers around the art of architecture. Its purpose is to teach you, in the First, to be a builder of yourself; in the Second, a builder of society. In the Third Degree, this symbolism takes another form. Although its background continues to be architecture and its action takes place in and about the Temple, it is a spiritual symbolism of life and death. Principally, it teaches Immortality.
If a man permits himself to be buried under the rubbish of sins and passions, it is possible, if he has learned the secret of the spiritual life and with the help of his God, to rise again into a new life. This note is struck in the Scripture reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, which pictures a man, once flushed with the health and strength, brought tottering by old age to the brink of the grave. This, the Chapter tells us, will become a light burden to him who has learned to trust God.
The working tools of the degrees are all the implements of Masonry, but more especially the trowel by which we spread the cement of brotherly love. But brotherly love itself has its source and seat in the soul. To love a man above his sins, to cherish him in spite of his faults, to forgive him in all sincerity is possible only as we live in the spiritual life, our souls purged of selfishness.
The tragedy of Hiram Abif is the climax of the degree. It is indeed the climax of all the ceremonies of Freemasonry. Next in importance is the allegorical search for That Which was Lost.
This has an historical background. To the early Jewish people, the name of God was held in extreme reverence. This holy name was never pronounced above a whisper. After a while, only the Priests were permitted to use it. Finally, only the High Priest and then only when alone in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.
During some national calamity, perhaps at the time of the Babylonian captivity, the High Priest perished before he had opportunity to pass it on to his successor. In this way was the name lost. All this appears in our ritual in the form of an allegory. A word was possessed; the Word was lost
Of the emblems of the Third Degree, one after another is set before us, apparently in no given order, and each with only a hint of what it signifies. Yet each stands for some great idea or ideal, necessary throughout our lives.
Each of them is a master of truth. In the Three Pillars we have the three great ideas of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. The Three Steps remind us that youth, manhood, and age is each a unity in itself, each possessing its own duties and responsibilities with each calling for its own philosophy.
The Pot of Incense teaches that to be pure and blameless in our inner lives is more acceptable to God than anything else.
The Book of Constitutions is the emblem of law and reminds us that our moral and spiritual character is grounded in law and order as much as in government or nature. It teaches that no man can live a satisfactory life who lives lawlessly.
The Sword pointed to the naked heart discovers that one of the most rigorous of these laws is justice, and that if a man be unjust in his heart, the inevitable results of injustice will find him out.
The All-Seeing Eye shows that we live and move and have our being in God. That we are constantly in His Presence, wherever or whatever we are doing.
The Anchor and Ark stand for that sense of security and stability of life grounded in Truth and Faith.
The 47th Problem of Euclid is an emblem of the arts and sciences. By them we are reminded that next to sinfulness the most dangerous enemy of life is ignorance.
In the Hour Glass we have the emblem of the transitoriness of life; no man lives forever in this world.
The Scythe reminds us that passing time will bring an end to our lives as well as our work and if we are to become what we ought to be, we must not delay.
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
while the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh,
when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them.
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12: 1-7
The lesson here conveyed: Think who made you and for what purpose you were made. Reflect, that a sentient being, you were molded by the hand of God and to him made responsible for the proper use of the faculties with which you have been endowed, for the proper employment of the years, and the acceptance of the opportunities offered during the period of active, vigorous manhood.
While the evil day come not, nor the years draw nigh,
when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them.
The grievance of old age, the days of sorrow, the years of pain, when the natural decay of the faculties brings the "ills that flesh is heir to" and ushers in the years of mental and physical decrepitude, when there is no longer any pleasure in life.
While the Sun, or the light, or the Moon,
or the Stars be not darkened,
nor the clouds return after the rain.
And as the Ecclesiastic continues the imagery, picturing the abiding and increasing infirmities of age, defer not the duties of life to intend accomplishment.
In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble,
And the strong men shall bow themselves.
When the hands and arms that guard and protect this tenement of clay are palsied with old age and we are no longer firm and erect.
And the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look out of the windows be darkened.
And the doors shall be shut in the streets.
The teeth now few in number and the eyes which are the windows through which the soul of man looks out are now curtained by the shadow of declining years. The ears lose their activities in old age.
When the sound of the grinders is low,
And he shall rise up at the voice of the birds,
And all the daughters of music shall be bought low.
The pressing of food upon the toothless gums; The soundness of slumber no longer his, the old man sleeps lightly and rises from restless couch at the crowing of the cock at dawn; The daughters of music are the organs of speech.
Also, when they shall be afraid of that which is high,
and fear shall be in the way.
And the almond tree shall flourish,
And the grasshopper shall be a burden,
and desire shall fail.
When the dizziness of old age prevents the mounting to high places; The silver hair of old age; no longer able to sustain the lightest weight and sensual desire no longer occurs.
Because man goeth to his long home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
That undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns; Those who sorrow at his death.
Or even the silver chord be loosed,
or the golden bow be broken.
Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain,
or the wheel broken at the cistern.
The golden bowl, the head, the silver chord, the spinal column which supports it. Golden and Silver denote the preciousness of man's life and nature. The wheel the heart, the pitcher the great vessels which pour blood into the arterial system.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was,
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.