Glossary

Browse the glossary by clicking on any of the letters below.

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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References

G - The Letter

This letter is one of the most sacred of the Masonic symbols.  Where it is used, however, as a symbol of Deity, it must be remembered that it is the Saxon representative of the Hebrew Yod and the Greek Tau--the initial letter of the Eternal in those languages.  This symbol proves that Freemasonry always prosecuted its labors with reference to the grand ideas of Infinity and Eternity.  By the letter "G"--which conveyed to the minds of the brethren, at the same time, the idea of God and that of Geometry--it bound heaven to earth, the divine to the human, and the infinite to the finite.  Masons are taught to regard the Universe as the grandest of all symbols.  In the Lodge room it is always visible in the East, either painted on the wall or sculptured in wood or metal, and suspended over the Master's chair. Psalms 103:11-22 - Psalms 8:3-9 -  Ex. 20:22

Gabriel - man of God

This is the name of one of the archangels of Jehovah, referred to in some of the high degrees of Masonry.  He is always represented in the Scriptures as the Messenger of Divine grace, of infinite love, and of redemption; such is his rank in the rites of Freemasonry.  Dan. 9:21,27 -  Luke 1:18,19 - Luke 1:26,27

Gad - troop; good fortune

Seventh son of Jacob, and the eighth point of the ancient English lectures, symbolizing the obligation, and alluded to the solemn vow made by Jepthah, Judge of Israel, who was of that tribe.  Gen. 49:19 - Judges 11:30-31

Gage and Gauge

See Twenty-four Inch gage.

G.A.O.T.U.

An abbreviation of Grand Architect Of The Universe.

Garden of Eden, The

There was a tradition of the Garden of Eden long before the time of Jesus, and they used to try to find an actual location that would fit the allegorical description of the one fruitful river flowing into the Garden, and four rivers flowing out.  A philosopher and scholar named Philo (the Jew), who lived in Jesus' time (20 B.C. to 40 A.D.) was perhaps the first to consider the tradition to be an allegory.  He maintained, 1700 years before the founding of the administrative structure of modern Masonry, that Eden was a soul, delighting in virtue, and the four rivers were the four specific virtues of prudence, temperance, courage and justice.  Any Mason will instantly recognize these allegorical references.  Genesis 2:15.  And the Lord God (Jehovah) took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it.  The name Eden means pleasure, delight.

Gates of the Temple

Q.  What is the symbolism of the East, South, and West Gates? 

A.  In the system of Freemasonry, the Temple of Solomon is represented as having a gate on the east, west, and south sides but none on the north.  In reference to the historical Temple of Jerusalem, such a representation is wholly incorrect.  In the walls of the building itself there were no place of entrance except the door of the porch, which gave admission to the house.  But in the surrounding courts there were gates at all of the points of the compass.  The Masonic idea of the Temple is, however, symbolic.  The Temple is to the Speculative Mason only a symbol, not an historical building, and the gates are imaginary and symbolic also.  They are, in the first place, symbols of the progress of the sun in his daily course, rising in the east, culminating to the meridian in the south, which it is the object of the third degree to illustrate, symbols of the three stages of youth, manhood, and old age, or, more properly of birth, life, and death.  St. John 2:19

Gauge

See Twenty-four Inch Gage.

Gauntlets

Gloves formerly made of steel and worn by knights as a protection to their hands in battle.  They have been adopted in the United States, as a part of the costume of a Knights Templar, under a regulation of the Grand Encampment, which directed them to be "of buff leather, the flap to extend four inches upwards from the wrist, and to have the appropriate cross embroidered in gold, on the proper colored velvet, two inches in length. 

Gavel

The Common Gavel is one of the working tools of the Entered Apprentice Mason.  It is made use of by the Operative Mason to break off the corners of the rough ashlar, and thus fit it the better for the builder's use, and is therefore adopted as a symbol in Speculative Masonry, to admonish us of the duty 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 made not with hands, eternal in the heavens.  It borrows its name from its shape, being that of the gable or gavel end of a house; and this word again comes from the German gipfel, a summit, top, or peak -- the idea of a pointed extremity being common to all...   The true form of the gavel is that of the stonemason's hammer.   It is to be made with a cutting edge, that it may be used to break off the corners of rough stones, an operation which could never be effected by the common hammer or mallet.  The gavel thus shaped will give, when looked at in front, the exact representation of the gavel or gable end of a house, whence, as has been already said, the name is derived.   The gavel of the Master is also called a Hiram, because, like the architect, it governs the Craft and keeps order in the Lodge, as he did in the Temple.

Gedaliah - Jehovah has become great

Five persons by this name are mentioned in the Scriptures, but only one is definitely known to have been contemporary with the destruction of the Temple.  That was Gedaliah, a son of Pashur, and a prince at the court of Zedekiah.  It is this Gedaliah, and not the one who was afterwards made governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, who is represted by the second officer in a Council of Superexcellent Masters.  Jer. 38:1

Gems or Gemstones  (Birthstones and Their Significance)

January - Garnet:  Insures constancy, true friendship and fidelity.

February - Amethyst or Pearl:  Freedom from passion and from care.

March - Bloodstone or Hyacinth:  Courage, wisdom, and firmness in affection.

April - Diamond:  Emblem of innocence and purity.

May - Emerald:  Discovers false friends and insures true love.

June - Agate or Cat's Eye:  Insures long life, health and prosperity.

July - Coral or Ruby:  Discovers poison, corrects evil from mistaken friendship.

August - Sardonyx or Moonstone:  Without it no conjugal felicity, so must live       unloved and alone.

September - Chrysolite or Sapphire:  Frees from evil passions and sadness of the mind.

October - Opal:  Denotes hope and sharpens the sight and faith of the possessor.

November - Topaz:  Fidelity and friendship.  Prevents bad dreams.

December - Turquoise or Lapis Lazuli:  Success and prosperity in love.

Geometry

Among mathematical sciences, Geometry is the one which has the most especial reference to architecture, and we can, therefore, under the name of Geometry, understand the whole art of Freemasonry.  In Anderson's book of constitutions, Freemasonry is frequently called Geometry, and of the latter he said of the whole being of the Order is comprehended in it.  Freemasons therefore ought to make themselves intimately acquainted with Geometry.  It is not absolutely necessary to be able to deduce all our actions, works, or resolutions from Geometrical principals.  1 Cor. 3:9-17 

Geometry, Advantages of

By this science the architect is enabled to construct his plans, and execute his designs; the general, to arrange his soldiers; the engineer, to mark out grounds for encampments; the geographer, to give us the dimensions of the world, and all things therein contained; to delineate the extent of seas, and specify the divisions of empires, kingdoms and provinces.  By it, also, the astronomer is enabled to make his observations, and to fix the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles.  In fine, Geometry is the foundation of architecture, and the root of the mathematics.

German silver

A silver-white alloy consisting principally of sixty percent copper, twenty percent  nickel and twenty percent tin.  Since circa. 1914 known as nickel silver.

Geschutz

German and Austrian mark meaning registered.

Ghiblim or Giblim - stonesquarers

At the building of King Solomon's Temple these were expert operative Masons, the name meaning stone squarers, who understood the science of geometrical proportion in its practical applications and were cemented in their lodge by the morality of its detached and component parts. 1 Kings 5:18  And in our common version, is as follows: "And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone-squarers; so they prepared timber and stones to build the house," where the word translated in the authorized version by stone-squarers is, in the original, Giblim.

Gilded

A gold-plated or gold trimmed object.

Gilt

Gold in color but not solid gold.

Gilt Finish

A finish that produces a smooth texture and a bright (shiny) gold color to the metallic surfaces of a phaleristic item.  A gilt finish is achieved by either electroplating an artificial gold to a base metal or by gold plating a less precious metal, usually silver.  Opposite of a matte finish.

Gilt-lined

Acid washing the interior/exterior of an item enables a very thin coating of gold to adhere.  The process prevented the chemical components from interacting adversely with silver.

Globes

The globes atop the Pillars of the Porch are symbols of Unity, Peace and Plenty.  The globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surface of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other important particulars.  Their principal use, besides serving as maps to distinguish the outward parts of the earth, and the situation of the fixed stars, is to illustrate and explain the phenomena arising from the annual revolution, and the diurnal rotation of the earth round its own axis.  They are invaluable instruments for improving the mind, and giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it to solve the same.  Contemplating these bodies, we are inspired with a due reverence for the Deity and his works, and are induced to encourage the studies of astronomy, geography, navigation, and the arts dependant on them, by which society has so much benefited.

Goat Riding

The humorous idea that riding the goat constitutes a part of the ceremonies of initiation in a Masonic Lodge is just a Joke and has its real origin in the superstition of antiquity.  The old Greeks and Romans portrayed their mystical god Pan in horns and hoof and shaggy hide and called him goat-footed.   When the demonology of the classics was adopted and modified by the early Christians, Pan gave way to Satan, who naturally inherited his attributes; so that to the common mind the Devil was represented by a he-goat, and his best known marks were the horns, the beard, and the cloven hoofs.  Then came the witch stories of the Middle Ages, and the belief in the witch orgies, where, it was said, the Devil appeared riding on a goat.  These orgies of the witches, where, amid fearfully blasphemous ceremonies, they practiced initiation into their Satanic Rites, became, to the vulgar and illiterate, the type of the Masonic Mysteries; for, as Doctor Oliver says, it was in England a common belief that the Freemasons were accustomed in their Lodges "to raise the Devil."  So the riding of the goat, which was believed to be practiced by the witches, was transferred to the Freemasons; and the sayings, artifacts, and jokes about it remain to this day, although the use of them has long since died out.  The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides book (here) plays on the joke of riding the goat and plays on the humorous side of Lodge life.  To see an actual Goat Riding Tricycle (click here).

God

A belief in the existence of God is an essential point of Speculative Freemasonry--so essential, indeed, that it is a landmark of the Order that no atheist can be made a Freemason.  Nor is this left to an inference; for a specific declaration to that effect is demanded as an indispensable preparation for initiation.  Hence Hutchinson says that the worship of God "was the first and corner-stone on which our originals thought it expedient to place the foundation of Masonry."  

G.O.D.

The initials of Gomer, Oz, Dabar.  It is a singular coincidence, and worthy of thought, that the letters composing the English name of Deity should be the initials of the Hebrew words wisdom, strength, and beauty; the three great pillars, or metaphorical supports, of Masonry.  They seem to present almost the only reason that can reconcile a Mason to the use of the initial "G" in its conspicuous suspension in the East of the Lodge in place of the Delta.  The incident seems to be more than an accident.  Thus the initials conceal the true meaning.

Godfather

In French Lodges the member who introduces a candidate for initiation is called his parrain, or godfather.

Gold

Pure gold is said to be 24 carat, but is too soft for articles intended for use.  It is therefore alloyed with other metals, usually silver or copper.  It is highly malleable and not subject to oxidation.   22, 18, 15, 14 and 9 carat gold indicates the number of parts of pure gold to the other metals.  Gold may have slightly different colors, white gold often alloyed with platinum or palladium, red with copper, yellow and green with silver.  In the United States the term "carat" is spelled "karat".  Its element symbol is Au.

Golden Bowl Be Broken

Refers to old age, and the brain, which is rendered unfit to perform its functions by the approach of death.  Eccles. 12:6

Golden Candlestick

The golden candlestick which was made by Moses for the service of the tabernacle, and was afterward deposited in the holy place of the temple to throw light upon the altar of incense, and the table of shewbread, was made wholly of pure gold, and had seven branches; that is three on each side, and one in the center.  These branches were at equal distances, and each one was adorned with flowers like lilies, gold knobs after the form of an apple and similar ones resembling an almond.  Upon the extremities of the branches were seven golden lamps, which were fed with pure olive-oil, and lighted every evening by the priests on duty.  Its seven branches are explained in the Ineffable degrees as symbolizing the seven planets.  It is also used as a decoration in Chapters of the Royal Arch, but apparently without any positive symbolic signification.  See a photograph of the Golden Candlestick here.

Golden Rule

This sublime and unique rule of conduct in man's relation to and treatment of his fellowmen, spoken by the Savior, holds a high place in Masonic teachings.  Matt. 7:9-12 -  Luke 6:27,28

Gold(en) Spur(s)

A symbol of medieval knighthood and a theme of the Vatiican and Austrian-Hungarian Orders of the Golden Spur (1539 and 1918).  To signify that a knight must be as swift to follow God's commandments as the pricked charger, gold spurs were placed over the heels of the initiate during the ceremony or dubbing into knighthood.

Gold filled

A sheet of composition metal sandwiched between two sheets of gold.  Gold filled sheets are made by taking one piece of gold about 4" by 2", another of the same size but thinner (for the inside of the object), and placing in between a same size sheet of hard composition metal.  Tiny pieces of hard gold solder are placed between the sheets, and they are put into a furnace at a high temperature.

Gold plating

The covering of an article with gold by means of electrolysis.

Goldstone

Adventurine gemstone sparkling with particles of gold-colored minerals; or, man-made brown glass with specks of copper infused within.

Gold wash

Acid washing the interior/exterior of an item enables a very thin coating of gold to adhere.  The process prevented the chemical components from interacting adversely with silver.  EXAMPLE

Good Samaritan

There is an honorary or side Degree by this title, conferred only on Royal Arch Masons and their wives.  Two Samaritans must be present, one of whom must be a Royal Arch Mason.  It is a degree of great dignity and enforces the lessons of aid for the unfortunate.  The fate of Lot's wife also has a place in the ritual of this degree.  The parable of the Good Samaritan can be found here... Luke 10:30-38

Good Sheperd

In the Christian Degree of Rose Croix the "sign of the Good Sheperd" is a representation of the Christ bearing his once lost but now recovered sheep upon his shoulders.  It is a most impressive symbol, and is employed most effectively.  Luke 15:3-7 -  John 10:11-18

Gnostics

The general name of Gnostics has been employed to designate several sects that sprang up in the eastern parts of the Roman Empire about the time of the advent of Christianity; although it is supposed that their principle doctrines had been taught centuries before in many of the cities of Asia Minor.  The word Gnosticism is derived from the Greek Gnosis or knowledge, and was a term used in the earliest days of philosophy to signify the science of Divine things, or as Matter says, "superior or celestial knowledge."  He thinks the word was first used by the Jewish philosophers of the famous school of Alexandria.  The favorite opinion of the scholars is that the sect of Gnostics arose among the philosophers who were the converts of Paul and the other Apostles and who sought to mingle the notions of the Jewish Egyptian school, the speculations of the Cabalists and the Grecian and Asiatic doctrines with the simpler teachings of the new religion which they had embraced.  They believed that the writings of the Apostles enunciated only the articles of the vulgar faith; but that there were esoteric traditions which had been transmitted from generation to generation in mysteries, to which they gave the name of Gnosticism or Gnosis.  King says (Gnostics page 7) that they drew the materials out of which they constructed their system from two religions, namely, the Zend-Avesta and its modifications in the Cabala, and the reformed Brahmanical religion, as taught by the Buddhist missionaries.  The architects and stone-masons of the Middle Ages borrowed many of the principles of ornamentation, by which they decorated the ecclesiastical edifices which they constructed, from the abstruse symbols of the Gnostics.  So too, we find Gnostic symbols in the Hermetic Philosophy and in the systems of Rosicrucianism; and lastly, many of the symbols still used by Freemasonry--such, for instance, as the triangle within a circle, the letter G and the pentacle of Solomon--have been traced to a Gnostic source.

Grammar

One of the seven liberal arts and sciences, which forms, with Logic and Rhetoric, a triad dedicated to the cultivation of language.  "God," says Sanctius, "created man the participant of reason; and as he willed him to be a social being, he bestowed upon him the gift of language, in the perfecting of which there are three aids.  The first is Grammar, which rejects from language all solecisms and barbarous expressions; the second is Logic, which is occupied with the truthfulness of language; and the third is Rhetoric, which seeks only the adornment of language."  In the Fellow Craft lecture Grammar is explained as the key by which alone the door can be opened to the understanding of speech.  It is Grammar which reveals the admirable art of language, and unfold it various constituent parts, its names, definitions and respective offices; it unravels, as it were, the thread of which the web of speech is composed.  These reflections seldom occur to any one before their acquaintance with the art; yet it is most certain, that, without a knowledge of Grammar, it is very difficult to speak with propriety, precision and purity.

Grand Architect of the Universe

The Grand Architect of the Universe (also Great Architect of the Universe or Supreme Architect of the Universe) is a conception of God discussed by many Christian theologians and apologists.  As a designation it is used within Freemasonry to neutrally represent whatever Supreme Being to which each member individually holds in adherence. It is also a Rosicrucian conception of God, as expressed by Max Heindel. The concept of the Demiurge as a grand architect or a great architect also occurs in gnosticism and other religious and philosophical systems.  Two pictorial illustrations:  GAOTU (1)    GAOTU (2)

Grand Master

The head of a non-royal order, usually the Head of State of the order's country of origin  The head of a royal order is normally called the Sovereign of the Order or the Master of the Order.  The office of Grand Master was an invention of the Order of Knights Templar, founded in 1118.

Grasshopper Shall Be A Burden

Refers to the infirmities of old age when the body ceases to function.  Eccles. 12:5

Grave

In the Master's Degree it is the analogue of the couch or coffin in the Ancient Mysteries, and is intended scenically to serve the same purpose.  Of greatest importance is the Sprig of Acacia, to teach symbolically the great Masonic doctrine of a resurrection and future life.  John 5:28,29 -  1 Cor. 15:55-57

Graver

Tool used to engrave sheet metals.  ILLUSTRATION

Griffin

A fabulous animal with the body, tail, and hind legs of a lion and the head, wings, and forelegs of an eagle.  A female griffin has wings while a male has spikes along his back.  When standing on one hind leg, the heraldic term for the position of a griffin is "segreant" instead of the usual rampant.  Probably originating in Syria during the second millennium B.C. and known in Greece by the 14th century B.C., the griffin is a pagan solar symbol and a Christian symbol for duality, such as the divine-human nature of Christ, because of the combination of a land animal and a bird.

Grinders Cease Because They Are Few

Refers to the infirmities of old age and the loss of teeth.  Eccles. 12:3

Ground Floor of The Lodge

Mt. Moriah, where the temple was built is symbolically called the ground floor of the Lodge.  This sacred spot was once the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite and from him David purchased the site for six hundred shekels of gold.  A tradition of Masonry is that Entered Apprentice's Lodges were held on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple, and that symbolically this is true today.  1 Chron. 21:18-25

Guilloché
 
Another name for engine turned designs.  Often enameled over in single translucent colors so that the engine turned design remains visible as gradations of color.  Also used as a term for a form of decoration used in architecture.
 
Gun metal
 
A kind of bronze; an alloy of 16 parts of copper and 2 parts of tin.  Metal items said to be gun metal are in fact blued steel.  Many items offered for sale use the descriptor "Gunmetal".
 
Gutta percha

A hard substance extracted from Palaquium trees in Malaya, Borneo and Sumatra.  Discovered in the 1840's, it was used for making jewelry, statuary and even furniture.  Popular from 1845 until the 1930s.  Many examples of gutta percha items were made, but the material was subject to rapid deterioration when exposed to air and light; many items that are claimed to be gutta percha are more likely to be vulcanite.  EXAMPLE

 

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