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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References

I Am That I Am

This is the English rendering of the name which the Great Architect, Jehovah God, directed Moses to use when making known his commission to Israel to lead them out of Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land.  It signifies I am the Eternal who passes not away.  It is a special title of God which indicates that he is the self-existent, independent, unsearchable One.  It is a significant word in the high degrees of the York, American, and several other Rites.  Origin of the title... Ex. 3:14


The science which teaches the doctrine of images and symbolic representations.  It is a science collateral with Freemasonry, and is of great importance to the Masonic student, because it is engaged in the consideration of the meaning and history of the symbols which constitute so material a part of the Masonic system.  Iconography is culture-specific, hence such expressions as "Egyptian iconography" and "the iconography of Christian art."


Idolatry is the worship paid to any created object; throughout history some form of idolatry has constituted much of the religious mankind.  The forms of idolatry are generally reckoned as four in number:  Fetishism, consisting in the worship of animals, trees, rivers, mountains, and stones; Sabaism, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars; Shintoism, the worship of deceased ancestors or national leaders; Idealism, the worship of abstractions or Mental qualities.  In all of these forms of idolatry there may be elements of religious truths, or an intermixture of truth with error.  Whenever any of the of Freemasonry have been practiced in a distorted and perverted system of idolatry, they are known as "Spurious Freemasonry."  True Freemasonry rejects all form of idolatry and teaches the worship of the one and only true living Deity.  Psalms 106:28 -  Isa. 44:17 -  Ex. 20:2,3 -  Col. 2:18


Freemasonry, without personal faith in the immortality of the soul, would be like "an arch resting on one pillar, like a bridge ending in an abyss."  Not only does the ritual of Freemasonry teach the doctrine of man's immortality; but in symbolic action this tenet of Masonry is illustrated in a most profound manner.  No man who has been "raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason" can ever forget the inculcation of the truth of man's immortality.  In Speculative Science the symbol of Immortality is the Acacia or Evergreen.  St. John 19:5 -  Job 14:13-15 -  Job 19:23-27 -  Luke 20:27-38

Imperial Eagle

A double-headed eagle.  The prominent symbol of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.


The "burning of incense" was a part of worship common to all nations of antiquity, including the Hebrews, the Egyptians, and the Hindus.  Among the Hebrews this was a symbol of prayer, of holy devotions, of purity of affections in divine worship.  It has in Masonry similar significations; hence the pot of incense has been adopted as a symbol in the Third Degree, and the "burning of incense" is practiced in some of the high degrees.  Ex. 30:1,7 -  Psalms 141:2


The opposite of raised; the design, lettering, or numbers are recessed rather than projecting above the field on a medal, coin or medallion.  A synonymous term is intaglio.

Indented Tessel

The ornamented border which surrounds the Mosaic pavement (See Tessellated Border).


A virtue inculcated amongst Freemasons, because by it they are enabled not only to support themselves and families, but to contribute to the relief of worthy distressed Brethren.  "All Masons," say the Charges of 1722, "shall work honestly on working days that they may live creditably on holy days" (Constitutions, 1723, page 52.)  The Masonic symbol of industry is the beehive, which is used in the Third Degree.  Prov. 10:5 -  Prov. 12:11 -  Eph. 4:28

Indwelling of God

That God deigns to dwell among his people and within the hearts of the pure and good is a fundamental truth dear to Masons.  1 Cor. 3:16,17

Ineffable Name

The Jews are quite aware that the true pronunciation of the word is lost, and regarded it as one of the mysteries to be revealed in the days of the Messiah.  They hold, however, that the knowledge of the Name of God does exist on earth, and that he by whom the secret is acquired, has, by virtue of it, the powers of the world at his command.  Hence they account for the miracles of Jesus by telling us that he had gotten possession of the Ineffable name.  Rightly understood, they seem to mean that he who calls upon God rightly, by this his true name, cannot fail to be heard by him.  St. John 1:1 -  John 14:14


A method of providing decoration, by setting thin strips of wood, stone, or other materials into a panel flush with the surface.  EXAMPLE

Inner Door

Just as the mysteries of God's truth are available to those who earnestly "knock," so admittance to the mysteries of Freemasonry are open to those who make the proper "knock" at the Inner Door... Jer. 29:10-14 -  Matt. 7:7,8


What is the symbol of Innocence?  In all ages the lamb has been deemed an emblem of innocence.  Hence it is required that a Mason's apron should be made of lambskin.  1 Peter 1:19


No innovations in the Rites and Ceremonies of Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry are permissible.


A plural term for all types of portable (worn) awards or distinctions.  Insignia is the broadest category of phaleristic items and includes badges, collars, habits, medals, sashes, ribbons, fourragères, Ärmelbands, and Armschilds.  The singular term is insigne.


The act by which an officer is put in possession of the place he is to fill.  In Freemasonry it is, therefore, applied to the induction of one who has been elected into his office.  The officers of a Lodge, before they can proceed to discharge their functions, must be installed.  The officers of a new Lodge are installed by the Grand Master, or by some Past Master deputed by him to perform the ceremony.  The ceremony is an old one, and does not pertain exclusively to Freemasonry.  The ancient Romans installed their priests, their kings, and their magistrates; but the ceremony was called inauguration, because performed generally by the augers.  The word installation is of comparatively modern origin, being medieval Latin, and is compounded of in and stallum, meaning a seat.  


On glass, incised relief decoration done with abrasive wheels. On jewelry, carved design hollowed out of the surface.  A form of engraving creating a sunken design.  Often seen as the stones in Masonic rings.  A synonymous term is incuse.


Integrity of purpose and in conduct is symbolized by the plumb.


Intemperance is regarded by the Masonic Fraternity as a vice wholly incompatible with a true Masonic character, and habitual indulgence in strong drink subjects the offender to the penalty of expulsion.  Prov. 23:19-35 -  Rom. 13:13 -  Eph. 5:18


The obligations of Freemasonry are required to be taken with an honest determination to observe them; and hence the Freemason solemnly affirms that in assuming those responsibilities he does so without equivocation, secret evasion, or mental reservation.

Internal Qualifications

Those qualifications of a candidate which refer to a condition known only to himself, and which are not patent to the world, are called internal qualifications.  They are: 1st. That he comes forward of his own free-will and accord, and unbiased by the solicitations of others.  2nd. That he is not influenced by mercenary motives; and, 3rd, That he has a disposition to conform to the usages of the Order.  The knowledge of these can only be obtained from his own statements, and hence they are included in the preliminary questions which are proposed before initiation.


Toleration is one of the chief foundation-stones of Freemasonry; Universality and Brotherly Love are fundamental principles of the Fraternity.  Indeed, the arch-enemy of Freemasonry is intolerance.  There may be individuals who natural powers are limited and circumscribed and whose prejudices may lead them into a spirit of intolerance; but the Fraternity frowns upon such, and there is no institution that has greater resistive powers against this great enemy of man than Freemasonry.  The Third and Tenth Degrees, A. A. Scottish Rite, strongly emphasize the doctrine of tolerance.  Matt. 9:38-40 - Luke 9:49,50

Intrinsic Value

The value of a phaleristic item based solely on its metallic and gem content.  As distinct from numismatic value and market value.


The presentation of an apron to a candidate in the ceremony of initiation.

Iron Tools

We are told that in the building of King Solomon's Temple there was not heard the sound of any metallic tool.  All stones were fitted, and numbered in the quarries; the timbers were prepared in the forest of Lebanon, whence they were brought by floats to Joppa, and thence carried over land to Jerusalem.  Stones and wood-work thus prepared fitted into the architectural plans of the building with such perfection that the whole, when completed, seemed rather the work of the Grand Architect of the Universe than that of mere humans.  Among Masons these remarkable facts symbolize the entire peace and harmony which should prevail among Masons when laboring on that spiritual temple of which the Solomonic Temple was the archetype. 1 Kings 5:18 - 1 Kings 6:7 -  Deut. 27:5,6


The twelve original points, that formed a part of the basis of the system of Speculative Masonry, was a lecture, used in the early English lodges from 1738 to 1813 when they were taken out and the four points, substituted.  Each move the candidate made while going through the ceremony was symbolized by one of the twelve tribes, the sons of Jacob.  Gen. 49:1-33


The ninth son of Jacob, and the sixth point of the ancient English lectures, which alluded to the circumambulation about the altar, because, as the tribe of Issachar was a thriftless and indolent tribe, they required a leader to advance them to equal elevation of the other tribes.  Gen. 49:14


Elephant ivory was used to make miniature Masonic working tools, and probably as decorative elements.  Walrus ivory was also used in Masonic Maritime artifacts.  It is difficult to positively identify the difference.  Many reproductions look like ivory or Walrus tusk, the hot pin test will surely tell.  Heat the tip of a sewing needle with a lighted match and while it is still hot push the pin into the item... if it smells like burning plastic... its plastic!  The hot needle will not penetrate real ivory.  It may also be confused with bone.  As ivory ages it naturally turns yellow and develops black cracks.


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