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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References


A gem or bead cut in convex form and highly polished, but not faceted.

Cable Tow

A Cable Tow is a rope or line for drawing or leading.  Gaedicke says that, "according to the ancient laws of Freemasonry, every brother must attend his Lodge if he is within the length of his cable tow."  The old writers define the length of a cable tow, which they sometimes called, "a cable's length," to be three miles for an Entered Apprentice.  But the expression is really symbolic and, as it was defined by the Baltimore Convention in 1842, means the scope of a man's reasonable ability.  Hos. 11:4


Q.  What did Hiram King of Tyre receive for his part in the building of the Temple? 

A.  A country in Galilee given to Hiram King of Tyre, by Solomon, as a reward for his assistance in building the temple.  The history of this event is given in the degree of Intimate Secretary of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.  The reward was twenty cities, and when Hiram King of Tyre came out of Tyre to see these cities that Solomon had given him; And he said what cities (are) these which thou has given me, my brother?  And he called them the land of Cabul (meaning displeasing) even unto this day.  This legend is the subject of the degree of Intimate Secretary in the Scottish Rite.  1 Kings 9:10-13


Q.  How does the old Hebrew covenants parallel the penalties of today? 

A.  Recorded in Genesis and the book of Jeremiah is the calf used in the old Hebrew covenants, performing certain ceremonies of cutting an animal a certain way, and dividing it in the midst, and walking between the parts thereof as the covenant is formed.  This dividing an animal was not confined to the Hebrews but borrowed from them by all the heathen nations.  Gen. 15:9-11  Jere. 34:20

Call From Labor to Refreshment

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


This is the Latin name for the place where Jesus's crucifixion took place, called in the Hebrew Golgotha, meaning a "skull."  It is a small hill or eminence, situated due west from Mt. Moriah, on which the Temple of Solomon was built.  This small hill is identified with certain events referred to in the Third Degree.  The fact that Mount Calvary is situated in a westward direction from the Temple, and near Mt. Moriah; that it is on the direct road from Jerusalem to Joppa; that it is outside the gate of the Temple, lend importance to Masonic legends.  The cleft, or cave, in the rock forming this hill in which subsequently the burial of the body of Jesus was made also identifies Calvary with the spot where the weary traveler sat down to rest; and the resurrection of Jesus from this cave-sepulcher is most strikingly represented in Masonry.  Other interesting traditions relating to Mt. Calvary are preserved in Freemasonry.  One is that it was the burial place of Adam, and that the place where he who brought ruin and death upon mankind was buried afterwards became the place where the Saviour of mankind died, was buried, and rose again.  Another tradition relates the erection of a nine-arched vault by Enoch beneath the bowels of Mt. Calvary and that deposited on the foundation-stone was the Ineffable Name which is the symbol of Divine Truth in speculative Masonry.  Luke 23:33,50-53 - Matt. 27:33,57-60 - Mark 15:22,42-42 -  John 19:17,18

Cameo Effect

The effect similar to a cameo of those specially manufactured numismatic specimens, usually coinage, that have a frosted design and lettering against a brilliant, mirror-like field.  The cameo effect is characteristic of a frosted proof.

Candlestick, Golden - See article on Tabernacle and Temple.


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

Captivity - See Babylonian Captivity


The principal constituent of natural rubber. (From the French word for India rubber).

Capitular Degrees

See Symbolic Degrees

Carat (English) or Karat (American)

Standard unit of weight for gems, or a measure for gold tabled at 1/24th part of pure gold in an alloy.  The term "Carat" is a symbol for unit weight of gems and gemstones (ct.) 1 ct. diamond = 1 ct.  The symbol "K" used for gold:  24K = 18 parts gold to six parts alloy and so forth down the scale.  Carat marks began about 1890.  European carat marks were 9, 15, or 18.  American jewelry was primarily 14 karat, but American and Canadian used 12K and 18K also.  10 carat gold was used for less expensive pieces and for the earlier Victorian pieces which were made before stringent hallmarking was in effect.

Carbon Spot

A small black spot on the metallic surface of a numismatic item that has been formed by the chemical reaction of organic material, such as a skin, wood, or food particle, with the surface of the item.  Another way carbon spots are thought to occur is when organic particles settle on the metallic surface prior to "annealing", a process that softens the metal by heat.  After annealing, the particles would be reduced to a cinder.


An open design that resembles filigree, but not as fine and delicate.  Flat sections of very thin metal, cut out to a simple pattern such as foliage, and soldered on to the surface of the object to be decorated.

Cardinal Virtues

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


Freemasonry recognizes the fact that man has certain fleshly or carnal appetites which are natural to humanity, and encourages their satisfaction in a temperate measure and through legitimate channels.  Yet Freemasonry teaches moderation, self-control, temperateness, regularity, and lawfulness in all carnal requirements and relations.  Gen. 2:19,25 -  Gen. 3:19 -  Gen. 4:1 -  Prov. 23:1,2 - Rom. 8:5,6

Carnelian or cornelian

An agate stone, usually blood-red color, but some stones may vary from yellow to brown.  Also called Sardonyx.


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


Scrolled or ornate framing device usually encircling a coat of arms, personal initials, or one of the elements of the English hallmark system.


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


Metals, glass or plastics, formed in a mold by pouring in a molten state.

Cast Brass / Cast Iron

A hard but brittle metal, easily broken when using rivets.  Iron or brass is melted in a furnace and run off into a crucible which is transported to the mold and the molten metal poured in.  The molds are prepared in advance, with the smaller objects to be cast made by placing a wooden pattern on a board inside one half of a steel box, which is filled with sand. The steel box is inverted and another half box placed on top and more sand added.  The box halves are separated, the pattern is removed, and runners are cut out to take the molten metal.  The box halves are then rejoined and a pouring cup placed on top, ready to receive the molten metal.  Also see Lost Wax.  EXAMPLE

Cedars of Lebanon

From time immemorial the timbers of the cedar tree have been considered of unusual value because they never decay not rot.  The cedar tree was in ancient times a symbol of eternity, and the cedar wood was sacred among the Hebrews.  The Ark of the Covenant for the Tabernacle was made of cedar.  For these reasons King Solomon used exclusively cedar timbers in the building of the Temple.  Since the most excellent cedar forests of the world have always existed in Mt. Lebanon, Solomon formed an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, and secured from these forests the necessary timbers for building the Temple.   And Solomon sent to Hiram King of Tyre saying, now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of the Forest of Lebanon, so Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.  1 Kings 5:2-10 - Ps. 92:12 -  1 Kings 5:2-10 -  Ezra 3:7  Illustration of the Forest of Lebanon


Cellulose nitrate with additives to create various colors to simulate other materials such as ivory, shell and horn; French ivory (commonly used for dresser sets and similar products) was just another name for celluloid simulating ivory.  Also transparent sheets.  Early forms were highly inflammable. Known under several trade names.  The most common use of celluloid was for the covers of matchsafes.  One of the specialties of The Whitehead & Hoag Co. of Newark, New Jersey was celluloid advertising items; they held a patent for a method of printing on pyroxylin (celluloid), granted on June 6, 1905, but applied for on May 25, 1900.  EXAMPLE


What is the mystic tie of Fraternalism?  The symbolic tie that binds men together, the cement of brotherly love.  The Lodge is strongly cemented with love and friendship, and every brother is duly taught secrecy and prudence, morality and good fellowship.  1 Thes. 4:9


The art of making objects of clay and similar materials treated by firing.  All forms of pottery, glazed and unglazed.

Chain, Mystic

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


A cup used in religious rites.  It forms a part of the furniture of a Commandery of Knights Templar, and some of the higher degrees of the French and Scottish Rites.  It should be made either of silver or gilt metal.  The stem of the chalice should be about four inches high and the diameter from three to six inches.

Chalk, Charcoal, and Clay

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


Enameling by cutting troughs in the metal into which the melted enamel is poured.  After firing, the surface is ground flush and polished.


A confused and shapeless mass, such as is supposed to have existed before God reduced creation into order.  It is a Masonic symbol of the ignorance and intellectual darkness from which man is rescued by the light and truth of Masonry.  Hence, ordo ab chao, or, "order out of chaos," is one of the mottoes of the Institution.


Is a cocked hat worn in the United States bodies by Knights Templar.  The regulations of the Grand Encampment of the United States, in 1862, prescribe that it shall be "the military chapeau, trimmed with black binding, one white and two black ostrich plumes, and appropriate cross on the left side."  EXAMPLE


This term refers to the uppermost part of a column, pillar, or pilaster, forming the head or crown and placed immediately over the shaft and under the entablature.  Because of the highly ornamented and peculiarly constructed chapiters of the two pillars which stood in the porch of King Solomon's Temple, they are largely referred to and explained in the Fellow-Craft's Degree.  See Pillars of the Porch  Ex. 38:17,19 -  1 Kings 7:16


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

Charity - Inward and outward acts of love

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."  1 Corth. 13:1,2.  Such was the language of an eminent apostle of the Christian church, and such is the sentiment that constitutes the cementing bond of Freemasonry.  The apostle, in comparing it with faith and hope, calls it the greatest of the three, and hence in Masonry it is made the topmost round of its mystic ladder.  We must not fall into the too common error that charity is only the sentiment of commiseration which leads us to assist the poor with pecuniary donations.  Its Masonic, as well as Christian application is more noble and more extensive.  The word used by the apostle is, in the original, love, a word denoting that kindly state of mind which renders a person full of good-will and affectionate regard toward others.  John Wesley expressed his regret that the Greek had not been correctly translated as love instead of charity, so that the apostolic triad of virtues would have been, not "faith, hope, and charity," but "faith, hope, and love."  Then would we have understood the comparison by St. Paul, when he said,, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."  Guided by this sentiment, the true Mason will "suffer long and be kind."  He will be slow to anger and easy to forgive.  He will stay his falling brother by gentle admonition, and warn him with kindness of approaching danger.  He will not open his ear to his slanderers, and will close his lips against all reproach.  His faults and his follies will be locked in his breast, and the prayer for mercy will ascend to Jehovah for his brother's sins.  Nor will these sentiments of benevolence be confined to those who are bound to him by ties of kindred or worldly friendship alone; but, extending them throughout the globe, he will love and cherish all who sit beneath the broad canopy of our universal Lodge.  For it is the boast of our Institution, that a Mason, destitute and worthy, may find in every clime a brother, and in every land a home.   EXAMPLE  1 Cor. 8:1 -  1 Cor. 13:1-13 - 2 Tim. 2:22


In Freemasonry, a document issued by a Grand Lodge, or Chapter, or other grand body, to a certain number of members, empowering them to organize a Lodge or Chapter, etc., and confer degrees.  A Lodge can never be opened for labor unless the Charter is present; and it is the right of every visiting brother to see it before he enters the Lodge.


A method of producing ornamental designs on sheet metal using steel tools or punches to raise or indent the surface; done by hand.

Chastity - purity in sex relations

From time immemorial one of the chief characteristics of Freemasonry has been its uncompromising demands for adherence to the seventh and tenth Commandments as applied to personal purity.  In a peculiar devotion Masonry stands for the protection of the chastity of womanhood, as every Mason knows from the sacred obligations he assumed in this particular issue of morals.  Gen. 39:7-20 -  Job 31:1 -  Deut. 5:18.21 -  1 Cor. 7:1-9

Cherry Picking

A slang expression for the act of acquiring only the most desirable items from a collection or dealer's stock, especially when the true value of the items is not known by the owner.


Two ornaments known as the Cherubim were made and placed on the Mercy Seat which covered the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle erected by Moses.  As to the exact form of the Cherubim we have no information, but there were two wings which extended over the Mercy Seat, quite evidently symbolic of the protecting and overshadowing power of Deity.  In this sense reference is made to the extended wings of the Cherubim in the degree of Royal Master.  EXAMPLE   Ex. 25:18,20 -  1 Kings 8:7 -  Heb. 9:5


A French term, used to describe Western decorative motifs considered, or supposed, to be typical of or related to Chinese arts.

Chi-Rho Monogram

The Greek letter X (chi) transposed over the letter P (rho).  The Chi_rho monogam was a popular emblem from early Christianity for the name of Christ and is thought to have derived from the contraction of chi and rho into Chr, the first three letters in Christ.  Also known as the Labarum (standard) of Constantine because of the prominence of the monogram on the standard.


The chisel in the American Rite is one of the working tools of a Mark Master, and symbolizes the effects of education on the human mind.   For as the artist, by the aid of his instrument, gives form and regularity to the shapeless mass of stone, so education, by cultivating the ideas and by polishing the rude thoughts, transforms the ignorant savage into the civilized being.  In the English ceremonies, the chisel is one of the working tools of the Entered Apprentice and has the same reference to the advantages of education.  Preston (Illustrations of Masonry, 1812, page 86) thus elaborates its symbolism as one of the implements of Freemasonry:  "The chisel demonstrates the advantages of discipline and education.  The mind, like the diamond in its original state, is unpolished; but as the effects of the chisel on the external coat soon present to view the latent beauties of the diamond, so education discovers the latent virtues of the mind and draws them forth to range the large field of matter and space,  in order to display the summit of human knowledge, our duty to God and man."  EXAMPLE

Chromium Plate

A steel-gray metal plating that takes a high polish.  It is brittle and hard, resisting oxidation.

Cigar cutters

The earliest recorded cigar cutter was probably made in Britain, but in the United States there were dozens of patents for such devices in a wide range of styles.  EXAMPLE


A monogram of letters intertwined.  EXAMPLE


Every ethical and religious cult requires the spirit and practice of watchfulness, but with a Mason it becomes a positive duty, and the neglect of it becomes a heinous crime.  With reference to the mysteries of Masonry the instructions are:  "You shall be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger shall not be able to discover or find out what is not proper to be imitated ; and sometimes you shall divert a discourse and manage it prudently for the honor of the Worshipful Fraternity."  No man who has passed through the Entered Apprentice Degree can ever forget the experience in which this warning was illustrated.  Ex. 23:13 -  Eph. 5:15

Cire perdue

See Lost Wax.


Perhaps no institution, except the church, has contributed more to good citizenship than Freemasonry.  The Ritual of all the degrees, the ethical instructions given, and all the fundamental principles of the Order are inducive to the highest ideals of civilization.  Democratic principles, good government, civic liberty, freedom of conscience, individual rights and responsibilities in civic affairs are championed by Masons.  Loyalty to one's government, faithfulness in all the duties of citizenship, and active support of public institutions are required of all Masons.  Neh. 2:3 -  Prov. 14:34 -  Prov. 29:4,14 -  Rom. 13:1,6 - 1 Pet. 2:13


A medallion or badge consisting of a core, usually a base metal such as copper, and a surface layer of a more valuable metal such as silver.  Cladding is used to achieve a desired appearance at less cost.

Clay Ground

The clay used in casting the pillars of Boaz and Jachin had a peculiar characteristic, and is only found in the plains of Jordan between Succoth and Zeredatha, about 35 miles from Jerusalem.  The pillars and sacred vessels of the Temple were cast there by Hiram Abif.  The clay in this area is of unusual tenacity and is peculiarly fitted for making molds; it is used to this day by the jewelers of Jerusalem in making moulds for casting small articles of brass and other similar purposes.  It is said to be the best matrix-clay in Palestine.  1 Kings 7:46 -  2 Chr. 4:17

Clean Hands

In the religion of the Hebrews, even as in the religion of all the ancients, "clean hands" are a symbol of purity.  Washing of the hands was a requirement before entering into any form of religious service, and was sometimes done as a symbol of innocence.  Such is the symbolic significance of the injunction in ancient Masonry:  "Cleanse your feet, wash your hand, and then enter."  The white gloves worn by Masons as a part of their clothing alludes to this symbolizing of clean hands.  Job 17:9 -  Ps. 24:3-6 -  1 Tim. 2:8


The word is twice used in Masonry, and in each time in an opposite sense.  In the Ritual of Masonry it means to separate, a meaning now obsolete, and used technically.  As used in the Past Master's Degrees, the meaning is adhere.  With the meaning of cleft asunder... Num. 16:31  With the meaning of to adhere... Ps. 137:6

Clefts of the Rocks

The whole of Palestine is very mountainous, and these mountains abound in caves, caverns, and deep clefts, which were anciently used as places of refuge and as dens for robbers.  Hence the concealment of certain persons in the cleft of the rocks in the Third Degree of Masonry.  Isa. 2:19,21 -  Jer. 49:16  An Illustration

Clods of the Valley

In Masonry these words are to signify the sweetness of rest for the dead in the Lord.  Rev. 14:13 -  Job 21:33


Enameling by melting the enamel into areas defined by wire soldered to the surface to be decorated.  

Closing a Lodge

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


A Mason is said to be properly clothed when he wears white leather gloves, a white apron, and the jewel of his Masonic rank.  The gloves are now often, but improperly, dispensed with, except on public occasions.  "No mason is permitted to enter a Lodge or join in its labors unless he is properly clothed."


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

Coin Silver

By 1830, Coin, Pure Coin, Dollar, Standard, Premium or C or D were used to indicate 900/1000 fine silver, with 100/1000 of copper.


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


Three columns are employed to signify the supports of a Lodge; the columns of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

Commemorative Metal or Piece

An item issued to observe or honor an event, place, or person or to preserve its memory.  Commemorative pieces include medallions, glassware and any other item to celebrate a cornerstone laying, anniversary, conclave or an historically important visit.

Commercial Silver

999/1000 fine or higher.

Common Gavel

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


The meeting of a Lodge is so called.  There is a peculiar significance in this term.  "To communicate," which, in the Old English form, was "to common," originally meant to share in common with others.  The great sacrament of the Christian church, which denotes a participation in the mysteries of the religion and a fellowship in the church, is called a "communion," which is fundamentally the same as a "communication," for he who partakes of the communion is said "to communicate."  Hence, the meetings of Masonic Lodges are called communications, to signify that it is not simply the ordinary meeting of a society for the transaction of business, but that such meeting is the fellowship of men engaged in a common pursuit, and governed by a common principle, and that there is therein a communication or participation of those feelings and elements that constitute a true brotherhood.  The communications of Lodges are regular or stated and special or emergent.  Regular communications are held under the provision of the by-laws, but special communications are called by order of the Master.  It is a regulation that no special communication can alter, amend, or rescind the proceedings of a regular communication.


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


The state of preservation of an item.  The condition of a particular item is usually indicated following one of several grading scales, such as Mint, Extremely Fine, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor, that were originally established to provide standards for various states of preservation.  To overcome the various difficulties in grading an item, the designated grade is frequently qualified by a short statement summarizing the item's defects or favorable aspects.  When the item includes enamels or gemstones, the grade should be qualified if there is any damage to the enamels or any missing gemstones.  If there are no major defects, a single word is often used to qualify the overall grade, such as "about" as in "about extra fine".  Other qualifying terms include "almost", "brilliant", "choice", and "near".  Condition assumes more importance when the item is readily available in the collector's market, but condition is of less importance when the item is rare or of historical interest. 


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

Contention Among Brethren

Masonry recognizes the right of differences of opinion and freedoms of individual thinking and action on matters where no fundamental principles of the Order are involved; but friction, partyism, schisms, and dissentions in the brotherhood are forbidden.  One of the main sources of strength in Freemasonry is unity, solidarity, and conformity in ritual and fraternalism.  Here are the Biblical warnings against friction and contention in fraternal relations, and directions for preventing and correcting these evils.  Matt. 5:23,24 -  Mark 3:24,25 -  1 Cor. 3:3,4 - 1 Cor. 12:14-26 - Jas. 4:11

Convention hallmarks

On June 27, 1975 a new international agreement, the Convention and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals came into force.  The signatories to date are Austria, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. There are four marks, as follows:

  • a common control mark,

  • a standard of fineness mark,

  • an assay office mark, and

  • the sponsor (or maker's) mark.


A metallic element having a reddish brown color, used as an electrical conductor and in the manufacture of alloys.  Its element symbol: Cu


What coed was used by the Masons during the middle ages?  The threefold cord was very much cherished by the Comocine Masters during the middle ages, as well as the Companions of the Royal Arch of today.  Eccles.  4:12

Corner Stone

The corner stone is the stone that 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 formally observed.  The symbolism of the corner stone when duly laid with Masonic rites is full of significance, which refers to its form, to its situation, to its permanence, and to its consecration.  As to form, it must be perfectly square on its surfaces, and its solid contents a cube.  The square is a symbol of Morality, and the cube of Truth.  The situation at the corner of the north and east, the north representing darkness and the east representing light, presents the symbol of Masonic progress from darkness to light, and from ignorance to knowledge.  The Corner-stone is supposed to be of a more permanent and durable quality than any other part of the building, lasting beyond the decay and ruin of the building, and therefore reminding the Mason that when his earthly Tabernacle of his shall have pass away, he has within him a sure foundation of eternal life, a corner-stone of immortality emanating from the Divine Spirit, and which will survive the tomb, returning to his Creator and God, above the decaying dust of immortality and the grave.  The proper setting of the stone by the implements of Operative Masonry -- the square, the level, and the plumb -- reminds the Mason that his virtues must be tested by temptation and trial, by suffering and adversity, and he must be declared to be "well formed, true, trusty" by the Master Builder before he can become "a living stone for that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."  In Masonic symbolism, it signifies a true Mason, and therefore it is the first character which the Apprentice is made to represent after his initiation has been completed.   Job 38:6

Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty   

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

Corn, Wine & Oil

The corn, wine and oil in Operative Masonry were the wages a Fellow-Craft was paid for the performance of his duties.  In Masonic rites they are elements of consecration of the Lodge, and in other forms of consecration rites.  Corn, the emblem of food, reminds the Mason that he is to be nourished by the hidden Manna of Righteousness; wine, the emblem of refreshment, reminds him that he is to be refreshed with the word of the Lord; oil, the emblem of Divine anointing, reminds him that he is to rejoice with joy unspeakable in the riches of Divine grace.  The carrying of Corn, Wine and Oil in a procession reminds a Mason that in the pilgrimage of life he is to give bread to the hungry, cheer to the sorrowful, and consolation to the sick and afflicted. In Speculative Freemasonry, the ritual explains Corn, Wine and Oil to wit:  "It is emblematical of nourishment, refreshment, and joy and teaches Masons this important lesson... That we should be ever-ready to nourish the needy, refresh the destitute, and pour the oil of joy in the hearts of the afflicted."   EXAMPLE  Psalms 104:15


A disease of metals, usually caused by exposure to air heavily laden with water, or to high relative humidity.  Different metals have distinctive appearances when corroded.  Rust in iron, steel or tin plate is usually a reddish color.  Brass and bronze will darken and ultimately turn green, at which point it becomes known as verdigris.  Aluminum will develop white crystals on the surface.  Silver turns black, to become tarnished, usually the result of sulphur-containing compounds in the air.  If allowed to flourish, these forms of corrosion may destroy the surface finish of an object.  For remedial action, a professional conservator should be consulted.


In several of the high degrees of Masonry the meetings are styled Councils; as, a Council of Royal and Select Masters, or Princes of Jerusalem, or Companions of the Red Cross. 

Council Chamber

A part of the room in which the ceremonies of the Companions of the Red Cross are performed.

Council of Companions of the Red Cross

A body in which the First Degree of the Templar system in this country is conferred.  It is held under the Charter of a Commandery of Knights Templar, which, when meeting as a council, is composed of the following Officers:  A Sovereign Master, Chancellor, Master of the Palace, Prelate, Master of Dispatches, Master of Calvary, Master of Infantry, Standard-Bearer, Sword-Bearer, Warder, and Sentinel.

Council of Royal and Select Masters

The united body in which the Royal and Select degrees are conferred.  In some jurisdictions this Council confers also the degree of Super-Excellent Master.

Council of Royal Masters

The body in which the degree of Royal Master, the eighth in the American Rite, is conferred.  It receives its Charter from a Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, and has the following officers:  Thrice Illustrious Grand Master, Illustrious Hiram of Tyre, Principal Conductor of the Works, Master of the Exchequer, Master of Finances, Captain of the Guards, Conductor of the Council, and Steward.

Council of Select Masters

The body in which the degree of Select Masters, the ninth in the American Rite, is conferred.  It receives its Charter from a Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters.  Its officers are:  Thrice Illustrious Grand Master, Illustrious Hiram of Tyre, Principal Conductor of the Works, Treasurer, Recorder, Captain of the Guards, Conductor of the Council, and Steward.


An object made to imitate a genuine item with the intent to deceive or defraud.  Synonymous terms are forgery and fake.

Covenant of Masonry

What is a covenant or obligation?  A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties on certain terms, and there can be no doubt that when a man is made a Mason he enters into a covenant with the Institution.  On his part he promises to fulfill certain promises and to discharge certain duties, for which, on the other part, the Fraternity bind themselves by an equivalent covenant of friendship, protection and support.  Jere. 34:18-20

Covenant (Jewish)

How were the old Jewish Covenants performed?  The first mention of a covenant in form that is met with in the Scriptures is that recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, where to confirm it, Abraham in obedience to divine command took a heifer, a she-goat, and a ram, "and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against the other."  In the book of Jeremiah it is again alluded to and the violation of the covenant is also expressed.  These ceremonies briefly alluded to in the passages which have been quoted were performed in full as follows:  The parties entering into a covenant first selected a proper animal, such as a calf or kid among the Jews, a sheep among the Greeks, or a pig among the Romans.  The throat was then cut across with a single blow, so as to completely divide the windpipe and arteries without touching the bone.  This was the first ceremony of the covenant.  The second was to tear open the breast, to take from thence the heart and vitals, and if upon inspection the least imperfection was discovered, the body was considered unclean and thrown aside for another.  The third ceremony was to divide the body in twain, and to place the two parts to the north and south, so that the parties to the covenant might pass between them coming from the east and going to the west.  The carcass was then left as a prey to the wild beasts of the field and the vultures of the air, and thus the covenant was ratified.  And the Masonic student can readily understand how these old Hebrew covenants parallel Speculative Science as a part of the basis of the system  Jere. 34:18-20


What is the difference between a Cowan and an eavesdropper?  An eavesdropper is an intentional listener.  A Cowan may therefore be classed as an unintentional listener in Speculative Masonry.  It is a Scotch term of contempt.  A drydyker.  One who builds dykes or walls without mortar.  So therefore according to Speculative Science, Masonry has no place for anyone that builds their symbolic walls without the cement of brotherly love.  Ezek.  13:10-15


What does the word Craft signify?  The term applied to persons collectively in a trade, or mechanical occupation.  In free or Speculative Masonry it signifies the whole Masonic Fraternity wherever dispersed.  Dan. 8:25

Crazed or Crazing

Enamel or porcelain with minute cracks usually a sign of aging.  EXAMPLE


From the Greek, to hide.  A concealed place, or subterranean vault.  The caves, or cells underground, in which the primitive Christians celebrated their secret worship, were called cryptae; and the vaults underneath our modern churches receive the name of crypts.  The existence of crypts or vaults under the Temple of Solomon is testified to by the earliest as well as by the most recent topographers of Jerusalem.  Their connection with the legendary history of Masonry is more fully noticed under the head of Vault Secret.

Cryptic Degrees

The degrees of Royal and Select Masters.  Some modern ritualists have added to the list the degree of Super-excellent Master; but this, although now often conferred in a Cryptic Council, is not really a Cryptic degree, since its legend has no connection with the crypt or secret vault.

Cryptic Masonry

The division of the Masonic system which is directed to the investigation and cultivation of the Cryptic degrees,  It is, literally, the Masonry of the secret vault.

Cubical Stone

This symbol is called by the French Masons, pierre cubique, and by the German, cubik stein.  It is the Perfect Ashlar of the English and American systems.


What is a cubit measure?  In ancient times, the length equaled the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.  It was customary for the Master of the work to use the length of his own arm as a standard.  Roman cubits were about 17 2/5 inches; that of the Hebrews 22 inches, but its length is now generally stated as 18 American inches.  1 Kings 7:15


A monogram of letters intertwined.  EXAMPLE


An alloy of seventy-five percent copper and twenty-five percent nickel.


Q.  What was the decree of Cyrus? 

A.  Ordered the release of the Jews from captivity, and furthermore ordered the rebuilding of the temple.  This order and command applied to the Jews only, to erect this building.  At the head of these people was Zerubabbel, known as, Sheshbazzar, at the Persian court.  Ezra. 1:1-11


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