Glossary

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

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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References

Labor

It is one of the most beautiful features of the Masonic Institution, that it teaches not only the necessity, but the nobility of labor.  From the time of opening to that of closing, a Lodge is said to be at labor.  This is but one of the numerous instances in which the terms of Operative Masonry are symbolically applied to Speculative; for, as the Operative Masons were engaged in the building of material edifices, so Free and Accepted Masons are supposed to be employed in the erection of a superstructure of virtue and morality upon the foundation of the Masonic principles which they were taught at their admission into the Order.  When the Lodge is engaged in reading petitions, hearing reports, debating financial matters, etc., it is said to be occupied in business; but when it is engaged in the form and ceremony of initiation into any of the Degrees, it is said to be at work.  Initiation is Masonic labor.  As Freemasons, we labor in our Lodge to make ourselves a perfect building, without blemish, working hopefully for the consummation, when the house of our earthly tabernacle shall be finished, when the Lost Word of Divine Truth shall at last be discovered, and when we shall be found by our own efforts at perfection to have done Gods' service.  Prov. 10:16 -  2 Chr. 5:9

Labyrinth

A place full of puzzling intricacies, with winding passages, as the Egyptian, Samian, and Cretan Labyrinths.  That of the Egyptians was near Lake Moeris, which contained twelve palaces under one roof, and was of polished stone, with many vaulted passages, and a court of 3,000 chambers, half under the earth and half above them.  Pliny states that it was 3,600 years old in his day.  The labyrinth is symbolical of the vicissitudes and anxieties of life, and is thus metaphorically used in a number of the Degrees of various Rites.

Lacquered Finish

A finish that has a coat of lacquer applied to the surfaces of a phaleristic item as the last step in the finishing process.

Ladder

A symbol of progressive advancement from a lower to a higher sphere, which is common to Freemasonry and to many, if not all Ancient Mysteries.  In each, generally, as in Freemasonry, the number of steps was seven.  See Jacob's Ladder

Lamb

In Ancient Craft Masonry the Lamb is the symbol of innocence; thus in the instructions of the First Degree:  "In all ages the Lamb has been deemed an emblem of innocence."  Hence it is required that a Freemason's Apron should be made of lambskin.  In the advanced Degrees, and in the Degrees of chivalry, as in Christian iconography, or illustration, the lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  The introduction of this Christian symbolism of the lamb comes from the expression of St. John the Baptist, who exclaimed, upon seeing Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God."

Lamb, Paschal

The Paschal Lamb, sometimes called the Holy Lamb, was the lamb offered up by the Jews at the paschal feast, the Passover.  This has been transferred to Christian symbolism, to Easter, and naturally to Chivalric Freemasonry; and hence we find it among the symbols of modern Templarism.  The paschal lamb, as a Christian and Masonic symbol, called also the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, first appeared in Christian art after the sixth century.  This is depicted as a lamb standing on the ground, holding by the left forefoot a banner, on which a cross is inscribed.  This paschal lamb, or Lamb of God, has been adopted as a symbol by the Knights Templar, being borne in one of the banners of the Order, and constituting, with the square which it surmounts, the jewel of the Generalissimo of a Commandery.  The lamb is a symbol of Christ; the cross, of His passion; and the banner, of His victory over death and hell.

Lambskin

It is a symbol of innocence, and the badge of a Mason.  1 Peter 1:19

Landmark

In ancient times it was a custom to mark the boundaries of lands by means of stone pillars, the removal of which, would be the occasion of much confusion, men having no other guide than these pillars by which to distinguish the limits of their property.  To remove them, therefore, was considered a heinous crime.  And according to Jewish Law, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbors landmark."  There are twenty-five landmarks in the system of Speculative Masonry.  The first is the modes of recognition, and the last is the fact that they can never be changed.  Duet. 19:14  -  also verse 27:17

Language, Universal

There are certain signs by which, for all practical purposes, Masons of various tongues may make themselves known to one another.  The system of Masonic signs and symbols has been so perfected that in every language they convey the same meaning and make the same impression.

Lapel Pin

An insigne, such as the Masonic Square and Compasses, that is attached to the lapel of civilian clothing by either a fixed or rotating pin.  The purpose of the lapel pin is to distinguish the bearer as a recipient of the order, decoration, or medal represented by the pin.  A related term is stickpin.

Laver, Brazen

A large brazen vessel for washing placed in the court of the Jewish tabernacle, where the officiating priest cleansed his hands and feet, and as well the entrails of victims.  Constructed by command of Moses (Exodus 38:8).  EXAMPLE

Leather

Made from the skins of various animals, birds, and reptiles. The skin must be cured in salt to prevent putrefaction, then washed and soaked to remove the salt, followed by liming (in part to loosen the hair layer), fleshing to remove the fleshy matter from the underside, washing and deliming, and finally tanning. The processes vary from animal to animal and according to the purpose for which the skin is to be used.  The most common use of leather in Masonic collectibles is the lambskin or white leather aprons.  EXAMPLE

Leatherette

Artificial leather, made of woven cotton dyed to the color of the applied coating of cellulose nitrate, with simulated leather graining.  Easily confused with real leather.

Lecture

Each Degree of Freemasonry contains a course of instruction, in which the ceremonies, traditions, and moral instruction appertaining to the Degree are set forth.  According to the arrangement adopted in this country, commonly known as the Webb Lectures, there are three sections in the first Degree, two in the second, and three in the third.

Left Hand

In ancient times the left hand was considered to be a symbol of equity and justice, because of its natural inertness, incapable of craft and subtlety.

Legend of the Third Degree

The most important and significant of the legendary symbols of Freemasonry is, undoubtedly, that which relates to the fate of Hiram Abif, commonly called, "by way of excellence," the Legend of the Third Degree.  The first written record that Doctor Mackey had been able to find of this legend is contained in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, published in 1738 (page 14), and is in these words:  It (the Temple) was finished in the short space of seven years and six months, to the amazement of all the world; when the capstone was celebrated by the Fraternity with great joy.  But their joy was soon interrupted by the sudden death of their dear master Hiram Abif, whom they decently interred in the Lodge near the Temple, according to ancient usage.

Legislation

On the subject of that crying sin of the Order--over-legislation by Grand Lodges--Governor Thomas Brown, formerly Grand Master of Florida, has wisely said:  Too much legislation is the vice of the present day, as well in Masonic as in civil government.  The same thirst for change and innovation which has prompted tyros and demagogues to legislate upon constitutional law, and write expositions of the common law, has prompted uninformed and unscrupulous Masons to legislate upon the Landmarks of Masonry.   Note:  Most Worshipful Thomas Brown was the first Whig Governor of Florida and is buried in Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida.

Lesser Lights

In the lecture of the First Degree we are told that a Lodge has three symbolic Lesser Lights; one of these is in the East, one in the West, and one in the South.  There is no light in the North, because King Solomon's Temple, of which every Lodge is a representation, was placed so far north of the ecliptic that the sun and moon, at their meridian height, could dart no rays into the northern parts thereof.  The North we therefore Masonically call a place of darkness.  This symbolic use of the Lesser Lights is very old, being found in the earliest lectures of the eighteenth century.  The three lights, like the three principal officers and the three principal supports, refer, undoubtedly, to the three stations of the sun--its Rising in the East, its Meridian in the South, and its setting in the West; and thus the symbolism of the Lodge, as typical of the world, continues to be preserved.

Level  

It is a symbol of that fraternal equality which, recognizing the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.  In Freemasonry, the Level is a symbol of equality; not of that social equality which would destroy all distinctions of rank and position, and beget confusion, insubordination, and anarchy; but of that fraternal equality which, recognizing the Fatherhood of God, admits as a necessary corollary the Brotherhood of Man.  It, therefore, teaches us that, in the sight of the Grand Architect of the Universe, his creatures, who are at an immeasurable distance from him, move upon the same plane; as the far-moving stars, which though millions of miles apart, yet seem to shine upon the same canopy of the sky.  In this view, the Level teaches us that all men are equal, subject to the same infirmities, hastening to the same goal, redeemed by the same Savior, subject to the same death and judgment.  The Level is deemed, like the Square and the Plumb, of so much importance as a symbol, that it is repeated in many different relations.  First, it is one of the jewels of the Lodge; in the English system a moveable, in the American an immoveable, one.  This leads to its being adopted as the proper official ensign of the Senior Warden, because the Craft when at labor, at which time he presides over them, are on a common level of subordination.  And then it is one of the working tools of a Fellow Craft, still retaining its symbolism of equality.  Matt. 5:16  -  also 1 Peter 2:17  EXAMPLE

Levi - associate; joined

Third son of Jacob, and the third point of the ancient English lectures.  The report of the Senior deacon was symbolized by the tribe of Levi, because Levi, it was said, made a report or signal, to his brother Simeon, with whom they were both engaged in attacking the unhappy Shechemites, while they were unprepared for defense.  Gen. 49:5-7

Levites

They were descendants of Levi, and were employed in certain ministerial duties of the Temple subordinate to the priests who were descendants of Aaron.  They are represented in some of the high degrees of Masonry.

Levy

The term signifies a collection of men raised for a particular purpose.  We are told that the timbers for building the Temple at Jerusalem were felled and prepared in the forest of Lebanon, where a levy of thirty thousand men sent by Solomon were employed by monthly courses of ten thousand.  Adoniram was placed over this levy.  These woodmen were not Tyrians; they were all Israelites... 1 Kings 5:13,14

Libation

Among the Greeks and Romans the libation was a religious ceremony, consisting of the pouring of wine or other liquid upon the ground, or, in a sacrifice, upon the head of the victim after it had first been tasted by the priest and by those who stood next to him.  The libations were usually of unmixed wine, but were sometimes of mingled wine and water.  Libations are used in some of the chivalric and the high degrees of Masonry.

Liber, or Liberty

A fundamental of Freemasonry is liberty of thought, speech, and action, within the bounds of civil, political, and conscientious law, without license.  The Eagle, in the Rose Croix Degree, symbolizes this tenet.  The word Liber is also the name of the inner rind of the bark of a tree formally used as material for writing; hence it signifies "book," and for the "tree of knowledge" we have the "book of wisdom," and for the "tree of " we have the "book of life."  Lev. 25:10 -  Luke 4:18 -  John 8:32,36 -  Rom. 8:21

Liberal Arts and Sciences

We are chiefly indebted to the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages for the nomenclature by which they distinguished the seven sciences then best known to them.  With the metaphorical spirit of the age in which they lived, they called the two class into which they divided them the trivium, or meeting of three roads, and the quadrivium, or meeting of four roads; calling grammar, logic, and rhetoric the trivium, and arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy the quadrivium.  These they styled The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, to separate them from the mechanical arts which were practiced by the handicraftsmen.  The Liberal Man, Liberalis Homo, meant, in the Middle Ages, the man who was his own master--free, independent, and often a nobleman.

Light

Light is a symbol of knowledge.  It is in fact the first of all the symbols presented to the initiate, and continues to be presented to him in various forms throughout his Masonic career.  It is the ultimate desire of every Mason to be well informed on Masonry, and may every Mason strive constantly for light, and especially for light eternal!  He who introduces light into the lodge, must be a worthy man, and experienced in the Craft.  Freemasons are emphatically called the "sons of light" because they are, or should be, in possession of the true meaning of the symbol. In all ancient systems of religion and in all ancient mysteries, the reverence for Light, as an emblematic representation of the Eternal Principle of Good, is predominant.  This was true in Hebraism and Judaism, and is true in Christianity; it is true throughout the the ritual of Freemasonry in a most predominant sense.  The greater Light of Freemasonry is the Word of God; Masons are pledged to seek from this source of true light and from the tenets of the Order an ever increasing advancement in Light.   Gen.  1:3-4  - also Matt. 13:16-17

Lights, Greater

The Bible, and the Square and Compasses.  In the Persian initiations, the Archimagus informed the candidate, at the moment of illumination, that the Divine Lights were displayed before him.

Light, To Bring To

A technical expression in Freemasonry meaning to initiate; as, "He was brought to light in such a Lodge," that is, he was initiated in it.

Lily Work

The Lily is an emblem of peace and purity.  It occupied a conspicuous place among the ornaments of the temple furniture. "And on top of the pillars was lily work" and so was the work of the pillars finished.  The plant so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as "lily," was the lotus lily of Egypt and India.  The lily mentioned by our Savior as an example of peculiar beauty and glory was a different flower, evidently a species of the lilium.  This latter flower appears in the higher degrees of Masonry as an emblem of divinity, of purity, of charity, and of abundance.  The lily work of the Temple... 1 Kings 7:22  The lily of beauty and glory... Matt. 6:29

Limoges

French art for painting enamel on metal and porcelain, covering the surface.  EXAMPLE

Lion Of The Tribe of Judah

The devise on the banner of the tribe of Judah was a Lion.  The expression borrowed from the Apocalypse, "Behold, the Lion which is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."  The phrase, "Lion of the tribe of Judah," therefore when used in the Masonic ritual, referred in its original interpretation to Christ, him who "brought light and immortality to light."  Rev. 5:5  -  Gen. 49:9

Lion's Paw

A mode of recognition so called because of the rude resemblance made by the hand and fingers to a lion's paw.  It refers to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  This expression is found in Revelations 5:5. 

Lithography - On Paper

Is an art form of printing on paper, invented by Alois Senefelder, an actor and dramatist of Bavaria, in the early 1800s.  Masonic certificates and posters were produced using the lithographic process.  EXAMPLE

Lithography - On Tin-plate

The first successful lithographic printing on tin-plate was achieved by Barclay and Fry of London with the invention of the offset printing press.  Bryant & May of London purchased and installed the machinery at Huntley, Bourne & Stevens of Reading, and in 1878 they began to produce tins with lithographic printing.  EXAMPLE

Lithophanes

A technique in ceramics for creating designs by molding the clay in varying thickness so that when light was passed through the fired clay a picture could be seen.

Lodge of Instruction

These are assemblies of Brethren congregated without a Warrant of Constitution, under the direction of a lecturer or skillful Brother, for the purpose of improvement in Freemasonry, which is accomplished by the frequent rehearsal of the work and lectures of each Degree.  

Lodge of Saint John

The Masonic tradition is that the primitive or Mother Lodge was held at Jerusalem, and dedicated to Saint John, first the Baptist, then the Evangelist, and finally to both.  Hence the Lodge was called "The Lodge of the Holy Saint John of Jerusalem."  From this Lodge all other Lodges are supposed figuratively to descend, and they therefore receive the same general name, accompanied by another local and distinctive one.

Logic

Is that science which directs us how to form clear and distinct ideas of things, and thereby prevents us from being misled by their similitude or resemblance.  Of all the human sciences, that concerning man is certainly most worthy of the human mind, and the proper manner of conducting its several powers in the attainment of truth and knowledge.  This science ought to be cultivated as the foundation or ground-work of our inquires; particularly, in the pursuit of those sublime principles which claim our attention as Masons.

Logo

Commonly abbreviated form of logogram, meaning a sign or character representing a word.  Similar to a trademark.

Long Home

In that beautiful and effecting description of man suffering under the infirmities of old age we find this expression, "Man goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets."  We find that this expression refers to the grave.  Eccles. 12:5

Lost Wax

A process of casting in bronze or brass, in which the model is made in wax, encased in clay or plaster, then the wax melted out and replaced by the molten metal.  ILLUSTRATION

Lost Word

The true meaning of the Lost Word is Divine Truth, symbolically speaking.  The mythical history of Freemasonry informs us that there once existed a Word of surpassing value, and proclaiming a profound veneration; that this Word was known to but few; that it was at length lost; and that a temporary substitute for it was adopted.  But as the very philosophy of Freemasonry teaches us that there can be no death without a resurrection--no decay without a subsequent restoration--on the same principle it follows that the loss of the Word must suppose its eventual recovery.  This is what the old writers claim and has reference to the Ineffable name.  St. John 1:1-5,14,18

Low Twelve

At midnight, in Masonic symbolism an unpropitious hour.

Loyalty to Government

Foremost in the first charge given to an Apprenticed Mason is the solemn requirement:  "In the State, you are to be a quiet and peaceful subject, true to your government, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live."  In all the progressive degrees of Freemasonry, this charge is reinforced and strengthened.  Ezra 7:26 -  Titus 3:1

Lustration

A religious rite practiced by the ancients, and performed before any act of devotion.  It consisted in washing the hands, and sometimes the whole body, in lustral or consecrated water.  It was intended as a symbol of the internal purification of the heart.  It was a ceremony preparatory to initiation in all the Ancient Mysteries.  The ceremony is practiced with the same symbolic import in some of the high degrees of Masonry.  So strong was the idea of connection between lustration and initiation, that in the low Latin of the Middle Ages lustrare meant to initiate.  Thus Du Cange (Glosarium) cites the expression "lustrare religione Christianorum" as signifying "to initiate into the Christian religion."  Ex. 29:4 -  Lev. 14:8 -  Deut. 21:6

Lux Fiat Et Lux Fit

Latin, meaning Let there be light, and there was light.  A motto sometimes prefixed to Masonic documents and artifacts.

 

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