Lesson 1: Mackey’s Symbolism of Freemasonry – Pages 100-105

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Symbolism of Freemasonry - Pages 100-105

XIII.
THE FORM OF THE LODGE.

In the last essay, I treated of that symbolism of the masonic system which makes the temple of Jerusalem the archetype of a lodge, and in which, in consequence, all the symbols are referred to the connection of a speculative science with an operative art. I propose in the present to discourse of a higher and abstruse mode of symbolism ; and it may be  observed that, in coming to this topic, we arrive, for the first time, at that chain of resemblances which unites Freemasonry with the ancient  systems of religion, and which has given rise, among masonic writers, to the names of Pure and Spurious Freemasonry- the pure  Freemasonry being that system of philosophical religion which, coming through the line of the patriarchs, was eventually modified by influences  exerted at the building of King Solomon’s temple, and the spurious being the same system as it was altered and corrupted by the polytheism of the nations of heathendom. *

* Dr. Oliver, in the first or preliminary lecture of his ” Historical Landmarks,” very accurately describes the difference between the pure or primitive Freemasonry of the Nonchites, and the spurious Freemasonry of the  heathens.

As this abstruser mode of symbolism, if less peculiar to the masonic   system, is, however, far more interesting than the one which was treated in the previous essay, because it is more philosophical, – I propose to give an extended investigation of its character. And, in the first place, there is what may be called an elementary view of this abstruser symbolism,  which seems almost to be a corollary from what has already been  described in the preceding article.

As each individual mason has been supposed to be the symbol of a  spiritual temple,- “a temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” – the lodge or collected assemblage of these masons, is adopted as a  symbol of the world. *

* The idea of the world, as symbolically representing God’s temple, has been thus beautifully developed in a hymn by N. P. illis is, written for the dedication of a church: –

“The perfect world by Adam trod
Was the first temple built by God;
His fiat laid the corner stone,
And heaved its pillars, one by one.

“He hung its starry roof on high –
The broad, illimitable sky;
He spread its pavement, green and bright,
And curtained it with morning light.

“The mountains in their places stood,
The sea, the sky, and all was good;
And when its first pure praises rang,
The ‘morning stars together sang.’

“Lord, ’tis not ours to make the sea,
And earth, and sky, a house for thee;
But in thy sight our offering stands,
A bumbler temple, made with hands.”

It is in the first degree of Masonry, more particular that this species of symbolism is developed. In its detail it derives the characteristics of  resemblance upon which it is founded, from the form, the supports, the  ornaments, and general construction and internal organization of a lodge, in all of which the symbolic reference to the world is beautifully and consistently sustained.

The form of a masonic lodge is said to be a parallelogram, or oblong square; its greatest length being from east to west, its breadth from  north to south. A square, a circle, a triangle, or any other form but that of an oblong square, would be eminently incorrect and unmasonic, because such a figure would not be an expression of the symbolic idea which is  intended to be conveyed.

Now, as the world is a globe, or, to speak more accurately, an oblate  spheroid, the attempt to make an oblong square its symbol would seem, at first view, to present insuperable difficulties. But the system of masonic symbolism has stood the test of too long an experience to be easily found at fault; nod therefore this very symbol furnishes a striking evidence of the antiquity of the order. At the Solomonic era – the era of  the building of the temple at Jerusalem – the world, it must be  remembered, was supposed to have that very oblong form, * which has  been here symbolized. If, for instance, on a map of the world we should  inscribe an oblong figure whose boundary lines would circumscribe and  include just that portion which was known to be inhabited in the days of Solomon, these lines, running a short distance north and south of the  Mediterranean Sea, and extending from Spain in the west to Asia Minor in the cast, would form an oblong square, including the southern shore of Europe, the northern shore of Africa, and the western district of Asia, the length of the parallelogram being about sixty degrees from cast to west,  and its breadth being about twenty degrees from north to south. This oblong square, thus enclosing the whole of what was then supposed to  be the habitable globe, would precisely represent what is symbolically  said to be the form of the lodge, while the Pillars of Hercules in the west,  on each side 0f the straits of Gades or Gibraltar, might appropriately be referred to the two pillars that stood at the porch of the temple.

* “The idea,” says Dudley, “that the earth is a level surface, and of a  square form, is 60 likely to have been entertained by persons of little  experience and limited observation, that it may be justly supposed to have prevailed generally in the early ages of the world.”- Naolog, page 7

* The quadrangular form of the earth is preserved in almost all the scriptural allusions that are made to it. Thus Isaiah (xi. 12) says, “The Lord  shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the  earth;” and we find in the Apocalypse (xx. 9) the prophetic version of  “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth.”

A masonic lodge is, therefore, a symbol of the world.

This symbol is sometimes, by a very usual figure of speech, extended, in its application, and the world and the universe are made synonymous,  when the lodge becomes, of course, a symbol of the universe. But in this  case the definition of the symbol is extended, and to the ideas of length  and breadth are added those of height and depth, and the lodge is said to  assume the form of a double cube. * The solid contents of the earth below and the expanse of the heavens above will then give the outlines of the cube, and the whole created universe +  will be included within the  symbolic limits of a mason’s lodge.

* “The form of the lodge ought to be n double cube, as nn expressive emblem of the powers of darkness and light in, the creation.”- OLIVER, Landmarks , i. page. 135, note 37

+ Not that whole visible universe, in its modern signification, as including solar systems upon solar systems, rolling in illimitable space, but in the  more contracted view of the ancients, where the earth formed the floor,  and the sky the ceiling. “To the vulgar and untaught eye,” says Dudley, “the heaven or sky above the earth appears to be co-extensive with the  earth, and to take the same form, enclosing a cubical space, of which the earth was the base, the hen,·en or sky the upper surface .” – Naology, 7· – And it is to this notion of the universe that the masonic symbol of the lodge refers.

By always remembering that the lodge is the symbol, in its form and  extent, of the world, we are enabled, readily and rationally, to explain  many other symbols, attached principally to the first degree; and we are  enabled to collate and compare them with similar symbols of other  kindred institutions of antiquity, for it should be observed that this symbolism of the world, represented by a place of initiation, widely pervaded all the ancient rites and mysteries.

It will no doubt, be interesting to extend our investigations on this  subject, with a particular view to the method in which this symbolism of  the world or the universe was developed, in some of its most prominent details; and for this purpose I shall select the mystical explanation of the  officers of a lodge, its covering, and a portion of its ornaments.

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Symbolism of Freemasonry – Pages 62-65

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Symbolism of Freemasonry - Pages 62-65

VIII.
THE TRAVELING FREEMASONS OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

The first of these points to which I refer is the establishment of a body of architects, widely disseminated throughout Europe during the middle ages under the avowed name of Traveling Freemasons. This association of workmen, said to have been the descendants of the Temple Masons,  may be traced by the massive monuments of their skill at as early a period as the ninth or tenth century ; although, according to the authority of Mr. Hope, who has written elaborately on the subject, some historians  have found the evidence of their existence in the seventh century, and have traced a peculiar masonic language in the reigns of Charlemagne of France and Alfred of England.

It is to these men, to their preeminent skill in architecture, and to their  well-organized system as a class of workmen, that the world is indebted  for those magnificent edifices which sprang up in such undeviating principles of architectural form during the middle ages.

“Wherever they came,” says Mr. Hope, “in the suite of missionaries, or  were called by the natives, or arrived of their own accord, to seek  employment, they appeared headed by a chief surveyor, who governed  the whole troop, and named one man out of every ten, under the name of  warden, to overlook the nine others, set themselves to building  temporary huts 1 for their habitation around the spot where the work was to be carried on, regularly organized their different departments, fell to work, sent for fresh supplies of their brethren as the object demanded,  and, when all was finished, again raised their encampment, and went  elsewhere to undertake other jobs.” 2

This society continued to preserve the commingled features of operative  and speculative masonry, as they had been practiced at the temple of Solomon. Admission to the community was not restricted to  professional artisans, but men of eminence, and particularly ecclesiastics, were numbered among its members. “These latter,” says Mr. Hope, “were especially anxious, themselves, to direct the  improvement and erection of their churches and monasteries, and to  manage the expenses of their buildings, and became members of an  establishment which had so high and sacred a destination, was so entirely exempt from all local, civil jurisdiction, acknowledged the pope  alone as its direct chief, and only worked under his immediate authority;  and thence we read of so many ecclesiastics of the highest rank – abbots, prelates, bishops – conferring additional weight and respectability on the  order of Freemasonry by becoming its members – themselves giving the  designs and superintending the construction of their churches, and employing the manual labor of their own monks in the edification of them.”

Thus in England, in the tenth century, the Masons are said to have  received the special protection of King Athelstan ; in the eleventh  century, Edward the Confessor declared himself their patron; and in the twelfth, Henry I. gave them his protection.

Into Scotland the Freemasons penetrated as early as the beginning of  the twelfth century, and erected the Abbey of Kilwinning, which  afterwards became the cradle of Scottish Masonry under the  government of King Robert Bruce.

Of the magnificent edifices which they erected, and of their exalted  condition under both ecclesiastical and lay patronage in other countries,  it is not necessary to give a minute detail. It is sufficient to say that in every part of Europe evidences are to be found of the existence of Freemasonry, practiced by an organized body of workmen, and with whom men of learning were united; or, in other words, of a combined operative and speculative institution.

What the nature of this speculative science continued to be, we may   learn from that very curious, if authentic, document, dated at Cologne, in  the year 1 535  and hence designated as the “Charter of Cologne.” In that instrument, which purports to have been issued by the heads of the order in nineteen different and important cities of Europe, and is  addressed to their brethren as a defense against the calumnies of their  enemies, it is announced that the order took its origin at a time “when a few adepts, distinguished by their life, their moral doctrine, and their  sacred interpretation of the arcanic truths, withdrew themselves from  the multitude in order more effectually to preserve uncontaminated the  moral precepts of that religion which is implanted in the mind of man.”

We thus, then, have before us an aspect of Freemasonry as it existed in  the middle ages, when it presents itself to our view as both operative and  speculative in its character. The operative element that had been  infused into it by the Dionysiac artificers of Tyre, at the building of the  Solomonic temple, was not yet dissevered from the pure speculative  element which had prevailed in it anterior to that period.

1 In German hutteu, in English lodges, whence the masonic term.
2 Historical Essay on Architecture, ch. xxi.

Lesson 1: Street – Symbolism of the Three Degrees – Pages 59-61

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Street - Symbolism of the Three Degrees - Pages 59-61

NATURE

Allusions to the sun, the moon, the stars, the firmament, the horizon, the earth, the seas, the rivers, the mountains, the valleys, so frequent in our Ritual, are designed to tempt us to a study of Nature. We hardly yet  realise its possibilities as sources of elevating and useful knowledge. Only ignorance would decry a study of Nature as a bountiful manifestation of God’s revelation of himself. The theologian who would deny his followers the right to draw from the great Book of Nature  conclusions as to the attributes and characteristics of Deity, is narrow and ignorant in the extreme.

In one of the higher degrees of Masonry we are told:

"Nature is the primary, consistent, and certain revelation of God. It is His utterance, word and speech. Whether He speaks to us through a man, must depend even at first upon human testimony and afterward on hearsay and tradition. But in and by His work, we know the Deity. The visible is the manifestation of the invisible.

"The man who denies God is as fanatical as he who defines Him with pretended infallibility. God is ordinarily defined by expressing every thing that He is not."

"Man makes God by an analogy from the less to the greater; the result is that his conception of God is always that of an infinite man, who makes of man a finite God."

"The work of God is the Book of God and in what He writes we ought to see the expression of His thought, and consequently of His Being; since we conceive of Him as the Supreme Thought.”

These quotations from the Scottish Rite Degrees are not taken because Scottish Rite Masonry teaches anything different from Blue Masonry, but only as powerful and beautiful delineations by that great Mason, Albert Pike, of what is taught in the three Symbolic Degrees. Masonry does not profess to be able to explain what Nature teaches. It recognizes that Nature does not speak the same language to all men. It simply invites, urges, yea, challenges every intelligent human being to a study of Nature. It recognizes that no rational, sincere man can make an earnest study of Nature in any of her varied aspects without having his own mind and soul elevated. From a contemplation of the immensities of the Universe as  revealed by the telescope and mathematics, one man will imbibe a lesson of modesty and humility; another may be inspired with an ennobling  sense of the limitless possibilities of the-human mind that it should be able to project itself and solve the problems of billions of miles away.

Science estimates the extent of the known universe in quadrillions of  miles, a space so vast the mind can form no conception of it whatever. A ray of light travelling at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, starting  hundreds of years before Christ lived at one side of the universe and  travelling continuously until this moment would still lack billions of miles  of completing the journey from one extremity to the other. Throughout  this vast immensity at inconceivable distances from each other are  millions of heavenly bodies of all sizes from that of a grain of sand to a  sphere so large that if its center were placed at the center of the earth its radius would extend far beyond the sun, all flying through space at  enormous velocities and yet all held by invisible hands in fixed orbits. Can any Book of Revelation more unmistakably reveal God?

Truly did the Psalmist sing:

“The heavens declare the glory of God:
And the firmament showeth his handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night showeth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language;
Their voice is not heard.
[But] their line is gone out through all the earth
And their words to the end of the world.”
Psalms xix, 14.

And again when he says:

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained,
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
And the son of man that thou visitest him?”
Psalms viii: 3, 4.

Lesson 1: Street – Symbolism of the Three Degrees – Page 83

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Street - Symbolism of the Three Degrees - Page 83

THE PARALLEL LINES

have been given several explanations not mentioned in our Monitors  which the curious Mason will have to read for himself. They are said to  have an astronomical or solar allusion.

There is, however, a very practical symbolism assigned to them in our Monitors. They are said to represent St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and it is on this I desire to enlarge a little beyond what our Monitors say.

Saints John’s Days (June 24 and December 27), are among American Masons the only festivals in the Masonic calendar. It matters little  whether it be true that these men were members of our Fraternity. They have been adopted by it as symbols. Although Masonry has existed from time immemorial and can boast of the great and good of every age and  clime, although philosophers and poets, patriots and heroes, statesmen and philanthropists have crowded its ranks, the high honor of annual commemoration has been conferred upon only two of its members. All  the great kings and emperors, all the great soldiers and conquerors, all the great statesmen and patriots, who in ages past have belonged to our beloved Order, and of whom the order is justly proud have been assigned to a position subordinate to these two modest patrons of the Craft.

It is not material we repeat to our present purpose whether it be an  historical fact that they were actually members of our Fraternity; its  principles shone conspicuously in their lives and characters. It suffices here to say, in the language of a distinguished Irish Freemason, that “there seems to be no doubt that the medieval Fraternity acknowledged their patronage.” 25

Why is it that this man who wore a raiment of camel’s hair and whose food was locusts and wild honey, and this man who was noted for his  excessive modesty and avoidance of all display, these men who never engaged in any of the pomp and glory of the world, have been honored by Masons above all others?

It is because Masonry regards not the exterior of a man but only his  internal qualifications. She bends not the suppliant knee at the shrine of  wealth, its glittering splendors are no passport of her altars and temples, and never has it been said of her that she turns her face away from him  who is clothed in poverty’s rags or veiled in poverty’s tears.

No worldly honors are there recognized. The King of England, the  President of the United States, when he enters a lodge is simply  “Brother.”  He is there accorded no mark of distinction to which every  other Master Mason is not entitled. Who enters a Masonic lodge leaves  his titles, his wealth, his worldly honors, at the door.

“Yes, we meet upon the level
Though from every station come,
The rich man from his mansion,
The poor man from his home;
For the rich must leave his hoarded gold
Outside our temple door,
And the servant *feels himself a man
Upon the Mason’s floor.”

He who wears the humble garb of domestic industry prepared by the hand of a devoted wife is as sure to gain admission and find as hearty welcome and rank as high as he whose raiment is purple and fine linen and who fares sumptuously every day.

The Saints Johns possessed few of the external qualifications which attract the thoughtless crowd. They. possessed all those internal elements that make the true man. Beyond all others the principles of our Fraternity shone forth in their characters and daily lives and for it  Masonry has honored them above all others.

We may and do have unworthy members, those who forget and violate  their Masonic obligations. None of us indeed observe them as we should,  but could stronger proof than the honor shown these two men be   desired that Masonry as a whole regards excellence of character, the  practice of virtue, the adoration of Deity, and the love or our fellowmen, the doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, above any  wealth or worldly honors?

If any still doubt let them remember that the first three Grand Masters of Freemasonry were, according to tradition, Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram,
King of Tyre, and Hiram Abif; that the memory of the last Hiram Abif, a  poor widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and only a worker in brass and  stone, is venerated among Masons far beyond his two royal associates.  He lived a life of such purity and excellence that when the appointed time  arrived he weIcomed the grim tyrant death. These are the lessons taught by this symbolism, these are the men whose example we should as Masons strive to emulate, These are the characters that we as  Masons, imperfect as we are, love and venerate.

25 A. Q. C. , Vol VIII, page 158.

Lesson 1: Street – Symbolism of the Three Degrees – Pages 54-56

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Street - Symbolism of the Three Degrees - Pages 54-56

THE COVERING OF THE LODGE

The covering of the lodge is said to be a clouded canopy or starry decked heaven. The appropriateness of this symbol is striking when we regard the lodge as emblematic of the world, for such is literally at. all times the covering of the earth. Equally true, in the literal sense, was this description when lodges were held in the open air, as we are assured and as seems probable they were. In the earliest temples erected by man for the worship of God there was no roof, the only covering being the sky. To them also this description holds good. This fact may give additional point and meaning to the statement that our lodges extend from earth to heaven. Later, when temples were covered and our lodges began to be held in closed rooms, it was customary to decorate the ceiling with a blue canopy spangled with stars. This starry decked heaven, when now exhibited in our lodge rooms, either on the ceiling or on our charts, or master’s carpets, is obviously reminiscent of the real canopy of heaven with which anciently our lodges were in fact covered, and is symbolical of that abode of the blessed which is universally regarded as located in the sky?’ 20

THE ORNAMENTS OF THE LODGE

The ornaments of the lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel and the Blazing Star; that  is to say its floor, the margin thereof,  and the stars with which its ceiling are or should be decorated. Does this symbolism hold good when applied to the earth? It does most perfectly. To the beholder the visible part of the earth appears as surface, horizon and sky. The surface of the earth, if viewed from above checkered with fields and forests, mountains and plains, hills and valleys, land and  waters, would be found to look very much like a pavement of Mosaic work. A few miles up it would seem almost as delicate. The horizon, that mysterious region that separates land and sky, earth and heaven, where the heavenly bodies appear and disappear, with its inexpressible charms and numberless beauties, has in all ages been a source of mystery and inspiration to the poets. It is fitly typified by the splendid borders which surround the floors of some of our most magnificent buildings and which is fabled to have surrounded the floor of Solomon’s Temple, while the firmament above, studded with stars by night and the blazing sun by day,  completes the ornamental scheme of the earth. The surface, the horizon, the firmament embrace all of visible beauty of Nature there is, and they have never yet been exhausted by poet, painter of singer.

Opinions have differed much whether the Blazing Star, classed as one of the ornaments of the lodge, alludes to the sun, or some particular star, or to the heavenly bodies in general. It has an ancient and interesting symbolism with which the statement of our Monitors, that it  hieroglyphically represents Divine Providence, is in substantial accord.

THE THREE GREAT LIGHTS

If we read discerningly the explanation given of these in our lectures and ceremonies we must perceive that they symbolize, respectively: (1) The Bible symbolizes the word of God, not merely that disclosed in His revealed word, but including also the knowledge which we acquire from the great book of Nature; (2) the Square typifies the rule of right conduct,  and (3) the Compasses is an emblem of that serf-restraint which enables us on all occasions to act according to this rule of right.  Beyond a perfect knowledge of God’s word and therefore of the rule of right living nothing is needed to make the perfect man except a perfect self-restraint. The value and importance of self-restraint is thus portrayed by Brother Albert Pike :

‘The hermetic masters said, ‘Make gold potable and you will have the universal medicine.’ By this they meant to say, ‘Appropriate Truth to your use, let it be the spring from which you shall drink all your days and you will have in yourself the immortality of the Sages.’ Temperance, tranquillity of the soul, simplicity of the character, the calmness and reason of the will, make man not only happy but well and strong. It is by making himself rational and good that man makes himself immortal. We are authors of our own destinies, and God does not save us without our co-operation.’

‘The hermetic masters said, ‘Make gold potable and you will have the universal medicine.’ By this they meant to say, ‘Appropriate Truth to your use, let it be the spring from which you shall drink all your days and you will have in yourself the immortality of the Sages.’ Temperance, tranquillity of the soul, simplicity of the character, the calmness and reason of the will, make man not only happy but well and strong. It is by making himself rational and good that man makes himself immortal. We are authors of our own destinies, and God does not save us without our co-operation.’

Albert Pike

20 Pike, Morals and Dogma,, page 235; Mackey, Symbolism of Freemasonry, page 117; Hamlin, History of Architecture, page 26; Steinbrenner, History of Masonry, page 150.

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – Corner-Stone

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - Corner-Stone, Symbolism of the

The corner-stone is the stone which lies at the corner of two walls and forms the corner of the foundation of an edifice.

In Masonic buildings it is now always placed in the Northeast; but this rule was not always formerly observed . As the foundation on which the entire structure is supposed to rest it is considered by Operative Masons as the most important tone in the edifice . It is laid with impressive ceremonies ; the assistance of
Speculative Masons is often, and ought always to be, invited to give dignity to the occasion; and for this purpose Freemasonry has provided an especial ritual which is to govern the proper performance of that duty.

Among the ancients the corner-stone of important edifices was laid with impressive ceremonies. These are well described by Tacitus in the history of the rebuilding of the Capitol. After detailing the preliminary ceremonies, which consisted of a procession of vestals, who with chaplets of flowers encompassed
the ground and consecrated it by libations of living water, he adds that, after solemn prayer, Helvidius Priscus, to whom the care of rebuilding the Capitol had been committed, “laid his hand upon the fillets that adorned the foundation stone, and also the cords by which it was to be drawn to its place . In that instant the magistrates, the priests, the senators, the Roman knights, and a number of citizens, all acting with one effort and general demonstrations of joy, laid hold of the ropes and dragged the ponderous load to its destined spot . They then threw in ingots of gold and silver, and other metals which had never been melted in the furnace, but still retained, untouched by human art, their first formation in the bowels of the earth .” (Histories, iv., 53 .)

The symbolism of the corner-stone when duly laid with Masonicerites is full of significance, which refers to its form, to its situation, to its permanence, and to its consecration. As to its form, it must be perfectly square on its surfaces, and in its solid contents a cube . Now the square is a symbol of morality, and the cube, of truth . In its situation it lies between the north, the place of darkness, and the east, the place of light ; and hence this position symbolizes the Masonic progress from darkness to light, and from ignorance to knowledge. The permanence and durability of the corner-stone, which lasts long after the building in whose foundation it was placed has fallen into decay, is intended to remind the Mason that, when this earthly house of his tabernacle shall have passed away, he has within him a sure foundation of eternal life – a corner-stone of immortality-an emanation from that Divine Spirit which pervades all nature, and which, therefore, must survive the tomb, and rise, triumphant and eternal, above the decaying dust of death and the grave.

The stone, when deposited in its appropriate place, is carefully examined with the necessary implements of Operative Masonry-the square, the level, and the plumb, themselves all symbolic in meaning-and is then declared to be “well formed, true, and trusty.” Thus the Mason is taught that his virtues are to be tested by temptation and trial, by suffering and adversity, before they can be pronounced by the Master Builder of souls to be materials worthy of the spiritual building of eternal life, fitted, “as living stones, for that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens .”

And lastly, in the ceremony of depositing the corner-stone, the elements of Masonic consecration are produced, and the stone is solemnly set apart by pouring corn, wine, and oil upon its surface, emblematic of the Nourishment, Refreshment, and Joy which are to be the rewards of a faithful performance of duty.
The corner-stone does not appear to have been adopted by any of the heathen nations, but to have been as the eben pinah, peculiar to the Jews, from whom it descended to the Christians . In the Old Testament, it seems always to have denoted a prince or high personage, and hence the Evangelists constantly use it in reference to Christ, who is called the “chief corner-stone .” In Masonic symbolism, it signifies a true Mason, and therefore it is the first character which the Apprentice is made to represent after his initiation has been completed .

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – Corn Wine Oil

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - CORN, WINE, AND OIL

CORN, WINE, AND OIL

Corn, wine, and oil are the Masonic elements of consecration. The adoption of these symbols is supported by the highest antiquity. Corn, wine, and oil were the most important productions of Eastern countries; they constituted the wealth of the people, and were esteemed as the supports of life and the means of refreshment David enumerates them among the greatest blessings that we enjoy, and speaks of them as “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart” (Psalm civ., 15). In devoting anything to religious purposes, the anointing with oil was considered as a necessary part of the ceremony, a rite which has descended to Christian nations. The tabernacle in the wilderness, and all its holy vessels, were, by God’s express command, anointed with oil; Aaron and his two sons were set apart for the priesthood with the same ceremony ; and the prophets and kings of Israel were consecrated to their offices by the same rite.

Hence, Freemasons’ Lodges, which are but temples to the Most High, are consecrated to the sacred purposes for which they were built by strewing corn , wine, and oil upon the Lodge, the emblem of the Holy Ark. Thus does this mystic ceremony instruct us to be nourished with the hidden manna of righteousness, to be refreshed with the Word of the Lord, and to rejoice with joy unspeakable in the riches of divine grace. “Wherefore, my brethren,” says the venerable Harris (Discourse iv, 81), “wherefore do you carry corn, wine, and oil in your processions, but to remind you that in the pilgrimage of human life you are to impart a portion of your bread to feed the hungry, to send a cup of your wine to cheer the sorrowful, and to pour the healing oil of your consolation into the wounds which sickness hath made in the bodies, or afflictions rent in the heart, of your fellow-travelers?”

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

WINE

One of the elements of Masonic consecration, and, as a symbol of the inward refreshment of a good conscience is intended, under the name of the Wine of Refreshment, to remind us of the eternal refreshments which the good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of duty in the present.

OIL

The Hebrews anointed their Kings, Prophets, and High Priests with oil mingled with the richest spices. They also anointed themselves with oil on all festive occasions, whence the expression in Psalm xlv, 7, “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness (see Corn, ravine and Oil).

CORN OF NOURISHMENT

One of the three elements of Masonic consecration (see Corn, Wine, and Oil).

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – Dedication

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - Dedication

DEDICATION OF A LODGE

Among the ancients every temple, altar, statue, or sacred place was dedicated to some divinity. The Romans, during the Republic, confided this duty to their consuls, pretors, censors, or other chief magistrates, and afterward to the emperors. According to the Papirian law, the regulations of a clan or group of Roman families, the dedication must have been authorized by a decree of the senate and the people, and the consent of the college of augurs. The ceremony consisted in surrounding the temple or object of dedication with garlands of flowers, whilst the vestal virgins poured on the exterior of the temple the lustral water. The dedication was completed by a formula of words uttered by the Pontiff, and the immolation of a victim, whose entrails were placed upon an altar of turf. The dedication of a temple was always a festival for the people, and was annually commemorated.

While the Pagans dedicated their temples to different deities—sometimes to the joint worship of several —the monotheistic Jews dedicated their religious edifices to the one supreme Jehovah. Thus, David dedicated with solemn ceremonies the altar which he erected on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, after the cessation of the plague which had afflicted his people; and Calmet conjectures that he composed the thirtieth Psalm on this occasion. The Jews extended this ceremony of dedication even to their private houses, and Clarke tells us, in reference to a passage on this subject in be Book of Deuteronomy, house to God with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving; and this was done in order to secure the divine presence and blessing, for no pious or sensible man could imagine he could dwell safely in a house that was not under the immediate protection of God.”

There is a noteworthy reproduction in the Symbolism of the Churches and Church Ornaments, a translation of the first book of the Rationale Divinorum Officorum written by William Durandus in the thirteenth century. Here we have the ritual of an ancient form of dedication. There is also quoted a brief but suggestive passage from Sugerius book on the dedication of the Church of St. Denis:

Right early in the morning, archbishops and bishops archdeacons and abbots, and other venerable persons who had lived of their proper expense, bore themselves right bishop fully and took their places on the platform raised for the consecration of the water, and placed between the sepulchers of the holy martyrs and S (the holy) Saviour’s altar. Then might ye have seen and they who stood by saw, and that with great devotion, such a band of so venerable bishops, arrayed in their white robes, sparkling in their pontifical robes and precious orfreys, grasp their pastoral staves, call on God in holy exorcism pace around the consecrated enclosure, and perform the nuptials of the Great King with such care that it seemed as though the ceremony were performed by a chorus of angels not a band of men. The crowd, in overwhelming magnitude, rolled around to the door, and while the aforesaid Episcopal band were sprinkling the walls with hyssop, the king and his nobles drive them back, repress them, guard the portals.

Suger, or Sugerius, as the name is often Latinized, was born about 1081 A.D. and died on January 31, 1151. A Frenchman who has been deemed the foremost historian of his time, he was in his tenth year at school in the Priory of St. Denis near Paris. Later he became secretary to the Abbot of St. Denis, and after a sojourn at Rome succeeded to this office. At his death the Abbey possessed considerable property, including a new church of which he had written much, including the above item of interest in regard to the old ceremony of dedication.

According to the learned Selden, there was a distinction among the Jews between consecration and dedication, for sacred things were both consecrated and dedicated, while profane things, such as private dwelling-houses, were only dedicated. Dedication was, therefore, a less sacred ceremony than consecration. This distinction has also been preserved among Christians, many of whom, and, in the early ages, all, consecrated their churches to the worship of God, but dedicated them to, or placed them under, the especial patronage of some particular saint. A similar practice prevails in the Masonic Institution; and therefore, while we consecrate our Lodges “to the honor of God’s glory,” we dedicate them to the patrons of our Order.

Tradition informs us that Masonic Lodges were originally dedicated to King Solomon, because he was our first Most Excellent Grand Master. In the sixteenth century Saint John the Baptist seems to have been considered as the peculiar patron of Freemasonry; but subsequently this honor was divided between the two Saints John, the Baptist and the Evangelist; and modern Lodges, in the United States at least, are universally erected or consecrated to God, and dedicated to the Holy Saints John. In the Hemming lectures, adopted in 1813, at the time of the union of the two Grand Lodges of England, the dedication was changed from the Saints John to King Solomon, and this usage now prevails very generally in England where Lodges are dedicated to “God and His Service, also to the memory of the Royal Solomon, under chose auspices many of our Masonic mysteries had weir origin”; but the ancient dedication to the Saints John was never abandoned by American Lodges.

The formula in Webb which dedicates the Lodge to the memory of the Holy Saint John,” was, undoubtedly, an inadvertence on the part of that lecturer, since in all his oral teachings Brother Mackey asserts he adhered to the more general system, and described a Lodge in his esoteric work as being “dedicated to the Holy Saints John.” This is now the universal practice, and the language used by Webb becomes contradictory and absurd when compared with the fact that the festivals of both saints are equally celebrated by the Order, and that the 27th of December is not less a day of observance in the Order than the 24th of June.

In one old lecture of the eighteenth century, this dedication to the two Saints John is thus explained:

Q. Our Lodges being finished, furnished, and decorated with ornaments, furniture, and jewels, to whom were they consecrated?
A. To God.
Q. Thank you, Brother; and can you tell me to whom they were first dedicated?
A. To Noah, who was saved in the Ark.
Q. And by what name were the Masons then known?
A. They were called Noachidæ, Sasses, or Wise Men.
Q. To whom were the Lodges dedicated during the Mosaic Dispensation?
A. To Moses! the chosen of God, and Solomon, the an of David, king of Israel, who was an eminent patron of the Craft.
Q. And under what name were the Masons known during that period?
A. Under the name of Dionysias, Geometricians, or Masters in Israel.
Q. But as Solomon was a Jest, and died long before the promulgation of Christianity. to whom were they dedicated under the Christian Dispensation?
A. From Solomon the patronage of Masonry passed to Saint John the Baptist.
Q. And under what name were they known after the promulgation of Christianity?
A. Under the name of Essenes, Archaics, or Freeze masons.
Q. Why were the Lodges dedicated to Saint John the Baptists
A. Because he was the forerunner of our Savior, and, by preaching repentance and humiliation, drew the first parallel of the Gospel.
Q. Had Saint John the Baptist any equal?
A. He had; Saint John the Evangelist.
Q. Why is he said to be equal to the Baptist?
A. Because he finished by his learning what the other began by his zeal, and thus drew a second line parallel to the former- ever since which time Freemasons’ Lodges in all Christian countries, have been dedicated to the one or the other, or both, of these worthy and worshipful men.
here is another old lecture, adopted into the Prestonian system, which still further developed
these reasons for the Johannite dedication, but with bight variations in some of the details. Brother

Mackey quotes it thus:
From the building of the first Temple at Jerusalem to the Babylonish captivity, Freemasons’ Lodges were dedicated to King Solomon; from thence to the coming of the Messiah, they were dedicated to Zerubbabel, the builder of the second Temple, and from that time to the final destruction of the Temple by Titus, in the reign of Vespasian, they were dedicated to Saint John the Baptist; but owing to the many massacres and disorders which attended that memorable event, Freemasonry sunk very much into decay; many Lodges were entirely broken up, and but few could meet in sufficient numbers to constitute their legality; and at a general meeting of the Craft, held in the city of Benjamin, it was observed that the principal reason for the decline of Masonry was the want of a Grand Master to patronize it. They therefore deputed seven of their most eminent members to wait upon St. John the Evangelist, who was at that time Bishop of Ephesus, requesting him to take the office of Grand Master. He returned for answer, that though well stricken in years, being upwards of ninety, yet having been initiated into Masonry in the early part of his life, he would take upon himself the office. He thereby completed by his learning what the other Saint John effected by his zeal, and thus drew what Freemasons term a sine parallels ever since which time Freemasons Lodges in all Christian countries have been dedicated both to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist.

So runs the tradition, but, as it lacks every claim to authenticity, a more philosophical reason may be assigned for this dedication to the two Saints John.

One of the earliest deviations from the pure religion of the Noachidae was distinguished by the introduction of sun worship. The sun, in the Egyptian mysteries, was symbolized by Osiris, the principal object of their rites, whose name, according to Plutarch and Macrobius, signified the prince and leader, the soul of the universe and the governor of the stars. Macrobius (Saturnalia, Book 1, chapter 18) says that the Egyptians worshiped the sun as the only divinity; and they represented him under various forms, according to the several phases, of his infancy at the winter solstice in December, his adolescence at the vernal equinox in March, his manhood at the summer solstice in June, and his old age at the autumnal equinox in September.

Among the Phoenicians, the sun was adored under the name of Adonis, and in Persia, under that of Mithras. In the Grecian mysteries, the orb of day was represented by one of the officers who superintended the ceremony of initiation; and in the Druidical rites his worship was introduced as the visible representative of the invisible, creative, and preservative principle of nature. In short, wherever the spurious Freemasonry existed, the adoration of, or, at least, a high respect for, the solar orb constituted a part of its system.

In Freemasonry, the sun is still retained as an important symbol. This fact must be familiar to every Freemason of any intelligence. It occupies, indeed, its appropriate position, simply as a symbol, but, nevertheless, it constitutes an essential part of the system. “As an emblem of God’s power,” says Hutchinson (Spirit of Masonry, Lecture IV, page 86), “His goodness, omnipresence, and eternity, the Lodge is adorned with the image of the sun, which he ordained to arise from the east and open the day; thereby calling forth the people of the earth to their worship and exercise in the walks of virtue.”

“The government of a Mason’s Lodge,” says Oliver (Signs and Symbols of Freemasonry, pages 204), “is vested in three superior officers, who are seated in the East, West, and South, to represent the rising, setting, and meridian sun.”

The sun, obedient to the all-seeing eye, is an emblem in the ritual of the Third Degree, and the sun displayed within an extended compass constitutes the jewel of the Past Master in the American system, and that of the Grand Master in the English.

But it is a needless task to cite authorities or multiply instances to prove how intimately the sun, as a symbol, is connected with the whole system of freemasonry.

It is then evident that the sun, either as an object of worship, or of symbolization, has always formed an important part of what has been called the two systems of Freemasonry, the Spurious and the Pure.

To the ancient sun worshipers, the movements of the heavenly bodies must have been something more than mere astronomical phenomena; they were the actions of the deities whom they adored, and hence were invested with the solemnity of a religious character. But, above allay the particular periods when the sun reached his greatest northern and southern declination, at the winter and summer solstices, by entering the zodiacal signs of Cancer and Capricorn, marked as they would be by the most evident effects on the seasons, and on the length of the days and nights, could not have passed unobserved. hut, on the contrary, must have occupied an important place in their ritual Now these important days fall respectively on the 21st of June and the 21st of December.

Hence, these solstitial periods were among the principal festivals observed by the Pagan nations. Du Pauw (Dissertations on Egyptians and Chinese in, page 159) remarks of the Egyptians, that “they had a fixed festival at each new moon; one at the summer, and one at the winter solstice, as well as the vernal and autumnal equinoxes “

The Druids always observed the festivals of midsummer and midwinter in June and December The former for a long time was celebrated by the Christian descendants of the Druids “The eve of Saint John the Baptist,” says Chambers (information for the recopies Nose 89), “variously called Midsummer Eve, was formerly a time of high observance amongst the English, as it still is in Catholic countries. Bonfires were everywhere lighted, round which the people danced with joyful demonstrations, occasionally leaping through the flame.”

Godfrey Higgins (Celtic Druids, page 165) thus alludes to the celebration of the festival of midwinter he the ancient world:

The festival of the 25th of December was celebrated, by the Druids in Britain and Ireland, with great fires lighted on the tops of the hills. On the 25th of December, at the first moment of the day, throughout all the ancient world, the birthday of the god Sol was celebrated. This was the moment when, after the supposed winter solstice and the lowest point of his degradation below our hemisphere he began to increase and gradually to ascend. At this moment. in all the ancient religions, his birthday was kept; from India to the Ultima Thule. these ceremonies partook of the same character: everywhere the god was feigned to he born, and his festival was celebrated with great rejoicings.

See, also, Dudley Writrht’s Druidism, the Ancient Faith of Britain (page 24).
Our ancestors finding that the Church, according to its usage of purifying Pagan festivals by Christian application, had appropriated two days near those solstitial periods to the memory of two eminent saints, incorporated these festivals by the lapse of a few days into the Masonic calendar, and adopted these worthies as patrons of our Order. To this change, the earlier Christian Freemasons were the more persuaded by the peculiar character of these saints. Saint John the Baptist, by announcing the approach of Christ, and by the mystic ablution to which he subjected his proselytes, and which was afterward adopted in the ceremony of initiation into Christianity, might well be considered as the Grand Hierophant of the Church; while the mysterious and emblematic nature of the Apocalypse assimilated the mode of instruction adopted by Saint John the Evangelist to that practiced by the Fraternity.

We are thus led to the conclusion that the connection of the Saints John with the Masonic Institution is rather of a symbolic than of a historical character In dedicating our Lodges to them, we do not so much declare our belief that they were eminent members of the Order, as demonstrate our reverence for the great Architect of the Universe in the symbol of His most splendid creation, the great light of day.

In conclusion it may be observed that the ceremony of dedication is merely the enunciation of a form of words, and this having been done, the Lodge is thus, by the consecration and dedication, set apart as something sacred to the cultivation of the principles of Freemasonry, under that peculiar system which acknowledges the two Saints John as its patrons. Royal Arch Chapters are dedicated to Zerubbabel, Prince or Governor of Judah, and Commanderies of Knights Templar to Saint John the Almoner. Mark Lodges should be dedicated to Hiram the Builder; Past Masters to the Saints John, and Most Excellent Masters to King Solomon.

*

DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE

There are five dedications of the Temple of Jerusalem which are recorded in Jewish history:
1. The dedication of the Solomonic Temple, 1004 B.C.
2. The dedication in the time of Hezekiah, when it was purified from the abominations of Ahaz, 726 B.C.
3. The dedication of Zerubbabel’s Temple, 513 B.C.
4. The dedication of the Temple when it was purified after Judas Maccabaeus had driven out the Syrians, 161 B.C.
5. The dedication of Herod’s Temple. 22 B.C.

The fourth of these is still celebrated by the Jews in their Feast of the Dedication. The first only is connected with the Masonic ritual, and is commemorated in the Most Excellent Master’s Degree of the American Rite as the Celebration of the Capstone. This dedication was made by King Solomon in the blear of the World 3000, and lasted eight days, commencing in the month of Tisri, 15th day, during the Feast of Tabernacles. The dedication of the Temple is called. in the English system of Lectures, the third grand offering which consecrates the floor of a Mason s Lodge. The same Lectures contain a tradition that on that occasion King Solomon assembled the nine Deputy Gland Masters in the holy place, from which all natural light had been carefully excluded, and which only received the artificial light which emanated from the east, west, and south, and there made the necessary arrangements. The legend must be considered as a myth; but the inimitable prayer and in vocation which were offered up by King Solomon on e occasion are recorded in the eighth chapter of the first Book of Kings, which contains the Scriptural fount of the dedication.

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – Lodge

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - LODGE, THE

LODGE, THE

The discussion of the “Lodge” as part of the furniture of a Lodge on page 599 states a puzzle insoluble in Mackey’s time, and one which is not yet wholly solved, though it has been the object of much research. What, exactly, was the “Lodge”? Why was it included in the “furniture?” If the puzzle cannot be cleared up now it should be at a not too distant date because a large number of small facts have been accumulating, slowly but nevertheless steadily, with most of them found in Minutes of old Lodges. There are too many of these latter to name under the present limitations of space, but a general ization based on them can be accepted as a generalization of records, not of theories:

The various City Companies, the Masons Company among them, kept their charter and other important documents in a “casket.” Lodge Aberdeen had in 1670 (and has still) an “old wooden charter box, known in the Lodge as the ‘Lockit Kist,’ [locked chest] with three locks so that it could only be opened when the three Keymasters were present at the same time.” A large number of Eighteenth Century Lodges had a box (or casket, or ark) in which were kept the Old Charges or the Book of Constitutions (or both), the charter, and members’ cards—a few Minutes speak of a member putting his card in or taking it out of the Lodge; there was a double meaning here, it will be noted and the word Lodge as denoting its members could easily transfer its meaning to the box in which membership cards were kept.

In the oldest Lodges the principal symbols were drawn on the floor in chalk (usually the Tiler did it) for an initiation, then mopped off; later, these drawings were painted on oil cloth to be hung up, or on a foorcloth to lie on the floor; also, they came to be painted (or set in mosaic) on boards; yet again, objects corresponding to the symbols might be placed on a trestle-table (hence, trestle-board) or laid on a floor-cloth. This ensemble of drawings was called “the Ludge,” and such a board or cloth might have been carried in procession at the time of consecration of a new Lodge.

The Minutes of Lodge Amity, No. 137, for May 28, 1819, give in the Inventory, “Box to Carry the Lodge in.” In a footnote the author of the History of Amity quotes Bro. E. H. Dring (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Yol. XXIX, pp 243-264) as saying, “I have always Understood this to refer to an Altar’ in Craft ceremonial (or to the Ark, in Royal Arch ceremonial), or to a portable imitation thereof ….” He also quotes Bro. Wynn Westcott as having said in A. Q. C., “A further feature which some Masonic Lodges have borrowed from the symbolism of the Tabernacle, is the possession of a cista mystica, a secret coffer, representing the sacred Ark within the Tabernacle of Moses.” (This is a dubious theory because the “Lodge” would appear to have pre-dated the Royal Arch cista.)

In his Manual of the Lodge (1868), Albert G. Mackey gives on page 127 the procession at the Consecration of a Lodge, and under the rubric of “The New Lodge” has “Two brethren carrying the Lodge.” In the Maine Masonic Tent Book (1877) Bro. Josiah H. Drummond has a variant where on page 137 he writes: “The procession passes once around the Lodge (or Carpet), and the Deputy Grand Master places the golden vessel of Corn and the burning taper of white wax at the East of the Lodge (or Carpet).” In the former instance the “Lodge” would appear to be a piece of furniture, in the latter, it is the tracing-cloth, or board, or carpet. The idea of the former would be that the “Lodge” is its Charter and members, of the latter that it is the Lodge as a box, or casket.

Meanwhile a third idea had long been combined with those two. In the first half of the Old Charges it is related that before the Deluge the “secrets” of the Liberal Arts and Sciences had been carved on two pillars, and that after the Deluge they were recovered. Since the earliest constellation of Speculative Masonic symbols appear to have referred back to the Old Charges, Noah and the Ark were drawn into symbolism, and it is in many Minute Books evident that there was a coalescence of the idea of Noah’s Ark, of the charter box, of the box on the pedestal before the Master with the Old Charges and member list in it, and of the “drawing of the Lodge on the Tracing Board.” Sphere the Royal Arch Degree was still a part of the Third Degree the idea of the Ark of the Covenant may, as Bro. Westcott suggested, have been added to the previous ideas. In his Concise Cyclopaedia of Freemasonry the unusually cautious Bro. E. L. Hawkins editor, on page 143 expresses himself in agreement with the theory that by “the Lodge” was meant a tracing-board.

During this entire time, and even from before its beginning, there was in every Mason’s mind the fact that a Lodge was the building in which Masons met, and that Masonry once had been the art of architecture. The “Lodge” as now used, an ark-like piece of furniture, is thus the convergence of a number of lines of tradition, ideas, and uses; it may be that the fact of a Lodge having so often been used of, or associated with, a building, was the determining factor.

Why is the Holy Bible described as a part of the “furniture” of a Lodge? A reasonable theory is suggested by the data as indicated in the paragraphs above. To begin with, the Old Charges were kept in a box; later the Book of Constitutions and the Charter were kept in a box; if when the Holy Bible came into use (roughly in the period 1725-1750) it may also have been kept in the same box; if the box or “Lodge” was a piece of furniture it was easy for the idea of the box to be transferred to the contents of it; it may be that this never exactly occurred but it is reasonable to believe that we have the Bible described as “furniture” because of some such association of uses or ideas.

Lesson 1: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – Processions

LESSON 1: THE WORK OF A LODGE

SUBJECT:             The Lodge – Foundations and Fundamentals;
                                Masonic Halls and Temples, Lodge Rooms and Orientation

Lesson 1: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry - PROCESSIONS

PROCESSIONS

Public processions of the Order, although not as popular as they were some years ago, still have the warrant of early and long usage. The first procession, after the revival, of which we have a record, took place June 24, 1721, when, as Anderson tells us (Constitutions, 1738, page 112), “Payne, Grand Master, with his Wardens, the former Grand officers, and the Masters and Wardens of twelve Lodges, met the Grand Master elect in a Grand Lodge at the King’s Arms Tavern, Saint Paul’s Churchyard, in the morning, . . . and from thence they marched on foot to the Hall in proper clothing and due form” (see Clothing and Regalia). Anderson and Entick continue to record the annual processions of the Grand Lodge and the Craft on the Feast Day, with a few exceptions, for the next twenty five years; but after this first pedestrian procession all the subsequent ones were made in carriages, the record being, “the procession of March was made in coaches and chariots” (Constitutions, 1756, page 227).

But ridicule being thrown by the enemies of the Order upon these processions, by a mock one in 1741 (see Scald Miserables), and in subsequent years, in 1747 the Grand Lodge unanimously resolved to discontinue them, nor have they since been renewed (Constitutions, 1756, page 248). on the subject of these mock processions, see an article by Dr. W. J. Chetwode Crawley (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xviu).

Public processions of the Craft were some years ago very common in America, nor have they vet been altogether abandoned; although now practiced with greater discretion and less frequently, being in general restricted to special occasions of importance, such as funerals, the laying of corner-stones, etc.

The question has been often mooted, whether public processions, with the open exhibition of its regalia and furniture, are or are not of advantage to the Order. In 1747 it was thought not to be so, at least in London, but the custom was continued, to a great extent, in the provinces. Doctor Oliver (Symbol of Glory) was in favor of what he calls “the good old custom, so strongly recommended and assiduously practiced by the Masonic worthies of the eighteenth century, and imitated by many other public bodies of men, of assembling the Brethren of a Provence annually under their own banner, and marching in solemn procession to the house of God, to offer up their thanksgiving in the public congregation for the blessings of the preceding year; to pray for mercies in prospect, and to hear from the pulpit a disquisition on the moral and religious purposes of the Order.”

Processions are not peculiar to the Masonic Fraternity. The custom comes to us from remote antiquity. In the initiations at Eleusis, the celebration of the Mysteries was accompanied each day by a solemn procession of the initiates from Athens to the temple of initiation. Apuleius describes the same custom as prevailing in the celebration of the Mysteries of Isis.
Among the early Romans, it was the custom, in times of public triumph or distress, to have solemn processions to the temples, either to thank the gods for their favor or to invoke their protection. The Jews also went in procession to the Temple to offer up their prayers. So, too, the primitive Christians walked in procession to the tombs of the martyrs Ecclesiastical processions were first introduced in the fourth century.

They are now used in the Roman Church on various occasions, and the Pontificate Romanum supplies the necessary ritual for their observance. In the Middle Ages these processions were often carried to an absurd extent Polydore describes them as consisting of ”ridiculous contrivances, of a figure with a great gaping mouth, and other pieces of merriment.” But these displays were abandoned with the increasing refinement of the age. At this day, processions are common in all countries, not only of religious confraternities, but of political and social societies. There are processions also in Freemasonry which are confined to the internal concerns of the Order, and are not therefore of a public nature. The procession “around the Hall,” at the installation of the Grand Masters is first mentioned in 1791. Previous to that year there is no allusion to any such ceremony. From 1W17-20 we are simply told that the new Grand Master “was saluted,” and that he was “homaged” or that “his health was drunk in due form.” But in 1721 a processional ceremony seems to have been composed, for in that year we are informed (Constitutions, 1735, page 113), that “Brother Payne. the old Grand Master, made the first procession round the Hall, and when returned, he proclaimed aloud the most noble Prince and our Brother.” This procession was not abolished with the public processions in 1747, but continued for many years afterward.

In the United States it gave rise to the procession at the installation of Masters, which, although pronded for by the ritual, and practiced by Lodges, has been too often neglected by many. The form of the I procession, as adopted in 1724, is given by Anderson (Constitutions, 1738, page 117), and is almost precisely the same as that used in all Masonic processions at the present day, except funeral ones. The rule was then adopted, which has ever since prevailed, that in all processions the juniors in Degree and in office shall go first, so that the place of honor shall be the rear.

An early Masonic procession is reported in Read’s Weekly Journal or British Gazeteer, No. 606, April 13, 1736, as quoted in the Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror, September 19, 1863 (page 223) as follows:

Friday, about 2 o’clock, the Grand Cavalcade of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, set forward from the Earl of London’s house in Privy-garden to Fishmonger’s hall in Thames street.

The procession was as follows: A pair of kettledrums, 2 trumpets, 2 French horns, 4 haut-boys, 2 bassoons, the 12 present stewards in 12 chariots, the Master and warden of the Stewards Lodge in one coach, the Brethren in their respective coaches, the noblemen and gentlemen who have served in the Grand Offices. the two Grand Wardens in one coach the Deputy Grand Master alone the Secretary and Sword Bearer in one coach, the Rt. Hon., the Lord Viscount Weymouth, the present Grand Master. and the Rt. Hon. Earl of London, the Grand Master elect, together in the Lord Weymouth’s coach, the Earl of London’s coach and six horses, empty, closed the procession. The cavalcade proceeded through the Strand Fleet street, Cheapside, Cornhill and Gracechurch-street to Fishmonger s Hall, where a very elegant entertainment was provided by the Stewards. In the evening there was a grand ball for the ladies, and the whole was concluded with the usual magnificence and grandeur

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PROCESSIONS, PAGEANTS, ASSEMBLIES

With the subject of processions, discussed on page 808, may be connected pageants and assemblies, because at some three or four periods in the history of Freemasonry the three had the same importance for both the public and Craftsmen. In the earliest period of the Operative Craft assemblies were in general forbidden by the King, whether public or private—if public they were generally called assemblies or congregations, if private they were often called covines; it was feared lest large numbers of peoples met together might plan united action against their temporal or their religious rulers.

An assembly could, however, be held on written permission, or patent, from some lord, prince, or king; and the author of the original version of the Old Charges made much of the fact that when it had held its General Assembly in York to receive a charter, the Fraternity held it by royal permission, which proved that it had not been an unlawful congregation or covine. Even after they had formed a new and permanent General Assembly, or Grand Lodge, in 1717, the Lodges did not feel easy in their minds until they had secured patronage from a member of the nobility, the Duke of Montague, and, as the events proved, they were wise, because when in 1799 the Parliament forbade secret societies (“covines”) the Noble Patrons of the two Grand Lodges went in person and obtained exemption for the Fraternity by name.

In the heyday of the gild system pageants were a prominent, established, constituted municipal event, provided for in the law, supervised by the Mayor and Aldermen, and belonging to the customs or rules of the gilds themselves.

These pageants consisted of floats, each mounted on a wagon, each boat having some general significance, or else was one act in a connected series of acts. They were so elaborately and richly costumed, the “machinery” used was so ingenious, and the arrangements to be made were so extensive, that a pageant like the famous Corpus Christi at Chester might cost many thousands of dollars; and records of the gild and City Companies, each of which participated, show that there was often much complaint about costs. The custom was for each gild to contribute one float, or “waggon.” It does not appear that Freemasons were very often in these pageants; where they had local gilds or companies they usually were small; where many Masons worked on a cathedral they had not a gild but a Lodge.

The Church and the State between them exercised a rigid control of these pageants, censored the words spoken, and the actions, costumes, and machinery.

This fact explains the early fear Masons had of Masonic pageants; it explains also why Freemasons enacted their own ceremonies in secret; they knew, oftentimes, that the Church would condemn them for heresy, or at least would frown upon them as novelties or innovations; in a time when the people had no books, and priests preached few sermons, pageants became a book, and the Church made sure to see that it was an orthodox book.

The ceremonies used by the Freemasons then would, if we could now see them, be innocuous and innocent in our eyes, and with no theological significance; but our own familiar and innocuous ceremonies, were we by miracle to enact them in the year 1200 A.D., would condemn us to burning at the stake; the Tiler at the door of the Medieval Lodge and the guard against eavesdroppers were of more than ceremonial importance; certainly no Freemason would wish to see his own emblems and ceremonies exhibited in a pageant.

By the Eighteenth Century the pageant had become a procession, but even as processions they had their dangers, as Dr. Desaguliers and his Brethren discovered in the early years of Grand Lodge. Streets were narrow; a procession stopped traffic and interfered with stores and shops (the typical Medieval village or town had no stores); street arabs were inspired to rowdyism; the more solemn the procession the more likely it was to be parodied by a mock procession—an acted-out cartoon. Moreover, processions often were used for political propaganda, or as public protests, or as threats to gentlemen in power, or as invitations to popular revolt, or as a challenge to some rival party, etc. The Grand Lodge forbade Masonic processions, even the old custom of the ceremonial conducting of a new Grand Master from his home to be installed in the Grand Lodge room. When Preston and his fellow officers from the Lodge of Antiquity met at church, they walked together only a few feet, and wore no regalia except white gloves, yet they were expelled by the Grand Lodge.

What a procession might mean in the terms of pubs lie order, and at times of political crisis, is best seen in the history of the troubles in Ireland which led to the foundation or the Orange Society; and in the history of Cambridge and of Oxford Universities when in the battles between Town and Gown what began as a procession would up as a riot. At the present time what we Americans call “Masonic processions” are not processions as Eighteenth Century Masons would have understood the word because they do not enact anything or signify anything; they are nothing but a walking together,” not for the purpose of putting Masonic emblems or regalia on public view but in order that when the members of a Lodge attend a church or a funeral or go to lay a corner-stone they go together.

The difficulties Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have of deciding whether to permit them or not may be owing to their confusing a present day “marching together” with the very different processions of the days when the first rules were made.

(See Historical Reminiscence of the City of London and its Livery Companies, by Thomas Arundell; Bentley; London; 1869; it is very rich in materials OF gild processions, pageants, etc.; see Chapters XXIV and XX~Y, and consult Index.)