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Alphabetically Arranged with Cyclopedic Meanings and Bible References

Vale, or Valley

Among the ancients the term "valley" was a symbol of deep things, of secrets; in Hebrew the word is derived from a term which signifies "deep."  Hidden within the etymological meaning of the word is "that which lies remote from sight, such as counsels and designs which are deep or close."  When the Lodge is said to stand in the "lowest vale," the symbolism is that of secrecy, and indicates the secrecy with which the acts of the Lodge should be concealed.  Dan. 2:22 -  Job 12:22

Vault, Secret

The vault was, in the ancient mysteries, symbolic of the grave; for initiation was symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found.  The Masons have adopted the same idea.  They teach that death is but the beginning of life; that if the first or evanescent temple of our transitory life be on the surface, we must descend into the secret vault of death before we can find that sacred deposit of truth which is to adorn our second temple of eternal life.  It is in this sense of an entrance through the grave into eternal life that we are to view the symbolism of the secret vault.  Like every other myth and allegory of Masonry, the historical relation may be true or it may be false; it may be founded on fact or be the invention of imagination; the lesson is still there, and the symbolism teaches it exclusive of the history.  EXAMPLE


The most ancient of the religious writings of the Indian Aryans, and now constituting the sacred canon of the Hindus, being to them what the Bible is to the Christians, or the Koran to the Mohammedans. The word Veda denotes in Sanskrit, the language in which these books are written, wisdom or knowledge and comes from the verb Veda, which, like the Greek signifies "I know". The German Weiss and the English wit came from the same root. There are four collections of these writings, each of which is called a Veda, namely, the Rig-Veda, the Yazur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda; but the first only is the real Veda, the others being but commentaries on it, as the Talmud is upon the Old Testament.

The Rig-Veda is divided into two parts: the Mantras or hymns, which are all matrical, and the Brahmanes. which are in prose, and consist of ritualistic directions concerning the employment of the hymns, find the method of sacrifice. The other Vedas consist also of hymns and prayers; but they are borrowed, for the most part, from the Rig-Veda. The Vedas, then, are the Hindu canon of Scripture-his Book of the Law; and to the Hindu Freemason they are his Trestle-Board, just as the Bible is to the Christian Freemason.

The religion of the Vedas is apparently an adoration of the visible powers of nature, such as the sun, the sky, the dawn, and the fire, and, in general, the eternal powers of light. The supreme divinity was the sky, called Varuna, whence the Greeks got their Ouranas; and next was the sun, Called sometimes Savitar, the progenitor, and sometimes Mitra, the loving one, Whence the Persian Mithras. Side by side with these was Agni, meaning fire, whence the Latin ignis, who was the divinity coming most directly in approximation with man on earth, and soaring upward as the flame to the heavenly goals.

But in this nature-worship the Vedas frequently betray an inward spirit groping after the infinite and the eternal, and an anxious search for the Divine Name, which was to be reverenced just as the Hebrew aspired after the unutterable Tetragrammaton. Bunsen (God in History, book iii, chapter 7) calls this "the desire-the yearning after the nameless Deity, who nowhere manifests himself in the Indian pantheon of the Vedas-the voice of humanity groping after God." One of the most sublime of the Veda hymns (Rig-Veda, book x, hymn 121) ends each strophe with the solemn question: "Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?" This is the question which every religion asks; the Search after the All-Father is the labor of all men who are seeking Divine Truth and Light.

The Semitic, like the Aryan poet in the same longing spirit for the knowledge of God, exclaims, "Oh that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to His seat." It is the great object of all Masonic labor, which thus shows its true religious character and design.

The Vedas have not exercised any direct influence on the Symbolism of Freemasonry. But, as the oldest Aryan faith, they became infused into the subsequent religious systems of the race, and through the Zend Avesta of the Zoroastrians, the Mysteries of Mithras, the doctrines of the Neo-platonists, and the school of Pythagoras, mixed with the Semitic doctrines of the Bible and the Talmud, they have cropped out in the mysticisrn of the Gnostics and the Secret Societies of the Middle Ages, and have shown some of their spirit in the religious philosophy and the symbolism of Speculative Freemasonry. To the Masonic scholar, the study of the Vedic hymns is therefore interesting, and not altogether fruitless in its results. The writings of Bunsen, of Muir, of Cox, and especially of Max Müller, will furnish ample materials for the study.

Veil of the Temple

This was a single veil, which, like that of the Sinaitic Tabernacle, was placed before the entrance of the Holy of Holies.  Its colors were symbolic, and these are explained under each color represented.  Its chief purpose was to remind the Israelites that only the High Priest, and he only once each year and after having made atonement for his own sins and those of the nation, could enter the Holy of Holies.  In the atonement made in Christ's death, the veil of the Temple was removed, and access for all believers to God is provided.

Veils, Four in the Royal Arch Tabernacle

The Royal Arch Tabernacle, in its exterior, is similar to the Sinaitic Tabernacle, but in its interior it is different.  Within this Royal Arch Tabernacle are four veils, somewhat patterned after the decorations of Solomon's Temple, but following more closely the legendary tabernacle of Zerubbabel.  As a whole, these four veils, constituting four divisions of the tabernacle, are symbolic of the obstacles in the way of advancement for the candidate in his search for the "lost word," symbolic of Truth.  Passage through these veils represent triumph over these obstacles.  Each of these veils is also symbolic, these symbolisms being indicated by the distinct color of each one.  The Blue Veil is symbolic of universal friendship and benevolence, represented in the Symbolic Degrees through which the candidate has already passed.  The Purple Veil is symbolic of union, and represents the intimate connection between the Ancient Craft and Royal Arch Masonry.  The Scarlet Veil is a symbol of fervency and zeal, and is the distinct color of Royal Arch Masonry, indicating that only these qualities can the candidate be successful in his search for Truth.  The White Veil is a symbol of purity, and is a reminder to the candidate, who is now almost at the close of his search in Royal Arch Masonry, that it is only by purity of heart and life that he can hope to be successful in, or found worthy of the reception of Divine Truth.  Passage through each of these veils is also represented by significant Mosaic Signs, each of them deeply important in its symbolism.

Veiled Allegory

Synonymous with parable.  Saying one thing and meaning another, is veiled allegory.  In the New Testament we find the sayings of Jesus in veiled allegory.  The same is used in Freemasonry, to conceal from those, except to whom the teachings rightly belong, the mysteries of Speculative Science; and then only to them that has the desire to enter its cavern in search of the jewels hidden there.  St. Matt. 13:10-17

Verdigris -  See patina.


Gold plating process developed in France in the mid-1700's.  France banned production of vermeil early in the 19th century because the process involved the use of mercury.  A safe electrolytic process produces present-day vermeil.

Vesica Piscis

The fish was among primitive Christians a symbol of Jesus. The Vesica Piscis, signifying literally the airbladder of a fish, but, as some suppose being the rough outline of a fish, was adopted as an abbreviated form of that symbol. In some old manuscripts it is used as a representation of the lateral wound of our Lord. As a symbol, it was frequently employed as a church decoration by the Freemasons of the Middle Ages. The seals of all colleges, abbeys, and other religious communities, as well as of ecclesiastical persons, were invariably made of this shape. Hence, in reference to the religious character of the Institution, it has been suggested that the seals of Masonic Lodges should also have that form, instead of the circular one now used.

Vessels of Gold and Silver

According to Josephus, the total number of gold and silver vessels for the Temple services was 552,000; listed as follows:

Vessels in General     Gold - 20,000     Silver - 40,000

Candlesticks               Gold -  4,000      Silver -  8,000

Wine Cups                  Gold - 80,000    

Goblets                       Gold - 10,000     Silver - 20,000

Measures                    Gold - 20,000     Silver - 40,000

Dishes                         Gold - 80,000     Silver - 160,000

Censers                      Gold - 20,000     Silver - 50,000

To these should be added the following:

Vestments for the priests    Silver -  21,000

Musical Instruments            Silver - 600,000

Stoles for the Levites          Silver - 200,000


The Roman goddess of the hearth.  A term applied ca.1832 to matches with wax stems.

Vesta boxes (or cases)

A term used in Britain for small pocket match holders intended to hold wax matches.  Often incorrectly applied to all pocket match holders in Britain including those boxes intended for the longer wooden stemmed matches.  EXAMPLES

Victorian Era (1837-1901)

The 64-year reign of Queen Victoria, during which there were vast political and social changes, a rapid growth of industrialization, but a retention of strict moral rules and decorum which were challenged during the last half of her reign.  "Victorian" now implies a "straight-laced, old fashioned" approach to both morals and standards.  The Victorian Era was, in fact, a time of great change from the Dark Ages to an Age of Enlightenment.

Visit, Right of

Every affiliated Freemason in good standing has a right to visit any other Lodge, wherever it may be, as often as it may suit his pleasure or convenience; and this is called, in Masonic Law, the Right of Visit.  It is one of the most important of all Masonic privileges, because it is based on the principle of the identity of the Masonic Institution as one universal family, and is the exponent of that well-known maxim that "in every clime a Freemason may find a home, and in every land a Brother."


The word VITRIOL is displayed in the Chamber of Reflection, used in some Masonic rituals as the first contact of the candidate with the Lodge.  Its meaning is not always apparent, although its alchemical origin is well known. The word is actually composed of the initials of a Latin sentence:


Visit the interior of the earth and rectifying (i.e. purifying), you will find the hidden stone. This has been interpreted as a message inciting the initiate to delve into his own soul in order to find wisdom.


"Vivat! vivat! vivat!" is the acclamation which accompanies the honors in the French Rite. Bazot (Manuel, page 165) says it is "the Cry of joy of Freemasons of the French Rite." Vivat" is a Latin word, and signifies, literally, "May he live"; but it has been domiciliated in French, and Boiste (Dictionnaire Universel) defines it as "a Cry of applause which expresses the wish for the preservation of anyone " The French Freemasons say, "he was received with the triple vivat," to denote that "He was received with the highest honors of the lodge."

Voting, Right of

Formerly, all members of the Craft, even Entered Apprentices, were permitted to vote.  This was distinctly prescribed in the last of the Thirty-nine General Regulations adopted in 1721 (Constitutions, 1723, page 70).  But the numerical strength of the Order, which was then in the First Degree, having now passed over to the Third, the modern rule in the United States, but not in England, is that the right of voting shall be restricted to Master Masons.  A Master Mason may, therefore, speak and vote on all questions, except in trials where he himself concerned as accuser or defendant.  Yet by special regulation of his Lodge he may be prevented from voting on ordinary questions where his dues for a certain period--generally twelve months--have not been paid; and such a regulation exists in almost every Lodge.  But no local by-law can deprive a member, who has not been suspended, from voting on the ballot for the admission of candidate, because the sixth regulation of 1721 distinctly requires that each member present on such occasion shall give his consent before the candidate can be admitted (See the above edition of Constitutions, page 59).  And if a member were deprived by any by-law of the Lodge in consequence of non-payment of his dues, of the right of expressing his consent or dissent, the ancient regulations would be violated, and a candidate might be admitted without the unanimous consent of all members present.  And this rule is so rigidly enforced, that on a ballot for initiation no member can be excused from voting.  He must assume the responsibility of casting his vote, lest it should afterward be said that the candidate was not admitted by unanimous consent. 


It is a rule in Freemasonry, that a Lodge may dispense with the examination of a visitor, if any Brother present will vouch that he possesses the necessary qualifications.  This is an important prerogative that every Freemason is entitled to exercise; and yet it is one which may so materially affect the well-being of the whole Fraternity, since, by its injudicious use, imposters might be introduced among the faithful, that it should be controlled by the most stringent regulations.  To vouch for one is to bear witness for him, and in witnessing to truth, every caution should be observed, lest falsehood may cunningly assume its garb.  The Brother who vouches should know to a certainty that the one for whom he vouches is really what he claims to be.  He should know this, not from a casual conversation, nor a loose and careless inquiry, but from Strict Trial, due examination, or lawful information.  These are the three requisites which the instructions have laid down as essentially necessary to authorize the act of vouching.


Synonymous with duty, obligation, and covenant.  The solemn promise made by a Mason of his admission into any degree is technically called a vow, obligation, or covenant.  The Latin word means (Tying) (Obligato) binding.  The vow, obligation or covenant is that which binds a man to do some act, the doing of which thus becomes his duty.  By his obligation or covenant a Mason is bound or tied to his Order.  The Masonic obligation is that moral one which, although it cannot be enforced by courts of law, is binding on the party who makes it, in conscience and according to moral justice.  Eccles.  5:4-5


Rubber with 25 to 50 per cent sulphur added and heated by steam (vulcanized).  Invented by Charles Goodyear in the United States in 1839. Also known under other names, such as hard rubber and ebonite. Popular for pocket match holders. May be erroneously confused with gutta percha.


A chemical reaction in which sulphur is used with steam to cause cross-linking in rubber, making molded shapes possible.

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