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Alphabetically Arranged with
Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References
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
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.
A finish that
has a coat of lacquer applied to the surfaces of a phaleristic item as the
last step in the finishing process.
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
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."
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.
It is a symbol of innocence, and the badge
of a Mason. 1 Peter 1:19
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
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.
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.
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
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
leather, made of woven cotton dyed to the color of the applied coating of
cellulose nitrate, with simulated leather graining. Easily confused with real
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.
times the left hand was considered to be a symbol of equity and justice,
because of its natural inertness, incapable of craft and subtlety.
of the Third Degree
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.
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
Thomas Brown was the first Whig Governor of Florida and is buried in Old City Cemetery
in Tallahassee, Florida.
In the lecture
of the First Degree we are told that a Lodge has three symbolic
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.
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.
5:16 - also 1 Peter 2:17 EXAMPLE
- 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.
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.
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
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
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 -
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
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 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
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.
To Bring To
expression in Freemasonry meaning to initiate; as, "He was brought to
light in such a Lodge," that is, he was initiated in it.
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
French art for
painting enamel on metal and porcelain, covering the surface. EXAMPLE
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
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.
- On Paper
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
- On Tin-plate
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
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.
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.
of Saint John
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.
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.
abbreviated form of logogram, meaning a sign or character representing a word.
Similar to a trademark.
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.
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
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
in Masonic symbolism an unpropitious hour.
Loyalty to Government
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
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 -
Fiat Et Lux Fit
meaning Let there be light, and there was light. A motto sometimes
prefixed to Masonic documents and artifacts.
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