MASONRY AND ITS SYMBOLS
Harold W. Percival
The cable-tow. The Royal Arch. The candidate as the keystone. Realization of the great Masonic symbol. The fifth degree. The fourth degree. The keystone with the mark of Hiram. The sixth degree. Another aspect of the keystone symbol. The union of Boaz and Jachin. The Glory of the Lord fills the Lord’s house. The seventh degree. The Tabernacle. The Master’s jewels and the Ark of the Covenant. The Name and the Word.
The cable-tow of the four senses leads the candidate (the Doer-in-the-body) through each of the four great degrees of Masonry, until the senses cease to be ties. The Master Mason receives More Light in the Chapter or Holy Royal Arch, which is in the North. This is the Fourth Degree. The Lodge is an oblong square in the lower half of the circle; the Chapter is another oblong square, which together with the first, forms a perfect square, within the circle, and that part of the circle which is the arc above or North of this square, is the Royal Arch. Into that, when the cable-tow no longer leads him the candidate is fitted as a keystone. This Fourth Degree has, however, in the course of time been stretched out and cut into four degrees, of which the Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Degrees contain the work of the original Fourth Degree.
The Royal Arch is the culmination and consummation of the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. The great Masonic symbol of compass and square is there realized. The three points of the square are those three lower degrees, and the compass, so joined with them as to make a six-pointed star, now, in the Royal Arch Degrees, represent the Light of the Intelligence, which in the Conscious Light of the Royal Arch Mason is the threefold Light that has come into his noetic, his mental and his psychic atmospheres. This state of a Mason is the subject of which various aspects are symbolized by the work of the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Degrees, relating to the Light of the Intelligence when the Glory of the Lord fills the House, to the keystone when the arch is completed, to the Word when it is found, and to the Name when the divided Adam or Jehovah becomes one.
In the Fifth Degree, that of Past Master, the candidate takes the obligation of a Master of the Lodge, and upon being installed is made to see and feel his inability to keep the turbulent brethren sufficiently in order to conduct the work of the Lodge. This degree is a mere filler for ceremonial purposes.
The Fourth Degree or that of Mark Master is said to have been instituted by King Solomon for the purpose of detecting impostors. Each workman was required to put his distinctive mark upon the product of his labor. The Mark Master could thereby detect impostors and could notice unfinished and imperfect work. This degree is dedicated to Hiram, the builder, and its characteristic is the keystone he had fashioned and on which was his mark. This stone possessing merits unknown to the builders was rejected by them but became the “chief stone of the corner.”
In the lodge in which the Master Mason is to be advanced to the Fourth, or honorary, Degree of Mark Master, the brethren, during the opening, gather round a miniature of King Solomon’s Temple,—symbol of the temple into which they are to rebuild their bodies—which is erected on the middle of the floor. During the opening the Master says to them: “Ye also, as living stones, be ye built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God.”
The candidate being duly and truly prepared and carrying a keystone is conducted into the lodge. Two of the brethren who carry oblong stones, and the candidate with his keystone, present the stones as specimens of their work. The two stones carried by the companions are received for the temple, but the keystone, being neither oblong nor square, is rejected as of no account and is heaved over among the rubbish of the temple where Hiram was buried at one time. For want of a keystone to one of the principal arches the workmen are disturbed. The Right Worshipful Master, representing King Solomon, says that he gave Hiram Abiff, the Grand Master, orders to make that keystone, previous to his assassination, and inquires if such a stone has not been brought up for inspection. The keystone which the candidate had brought and had seen heaved over into the rubbish, is found and is now received and becomes the “head of the corner.”
The keystone has on it the mark of Hiram. The keystone is Hiram transformed into a certain lunar germ, which was preserved, died to the world, rose along the spine, and ascended into the head. Hiram’s mark is a double cross made by a stationary cross H.S.W.K. and a movable cross T.T.S.S. The import of these crosses can be known by the meaning of the Zodiacal signs which these eight points of the crosses represent on the circumference of the circle. His mark is his new name, a name of an Order of beings to which he now belongs. This new name is written on a white stone, or the purified essence, that is the vesture of Hiram. Hiram, having overcome, has eaten of the hidden manna, that is, has received the Light accumulated by successive lunar germs. The keystone that has the mark of Hiram, also stands for the candidate himself who has overcome, who has ascended into the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place.
The Sixth Degree, that of the Most Excellent Master, is the initiation of the candidate by the descent of the Light into the completed temple, or, in Masonic language, when the Glory of the Lord fills the House. In his obligation the candidate promises that he will dispense light and knowledge to all ignorant and uninformed brethren.
Another aspect of the keystone is emphasized by the ceremonies which take up again the teaching of the stone with Hiram’s mark, that is, the candidate himself. The ceremonies now represent the day for the celebration of the capstone, copestone, or keystone. The keystone is made to close an arch placed on the two columns Boaz and Jachin. This is a symbol that the physical body has been rebuilt, that an arch over Boaz and Jachin unites them above and another arch unites them below. This is done as the result of the action of the Junior Warden in the first three degrees. He harmonized the male and female forces in the West and East columns, at the South, Libra, and with these equilibrated forces built the arches, or bridges, below and above. With the arch above and the keystone inserted therein, the temple is completed.
The Light of the Intelligence descends into the candidate and fills his body. The Glory of the Lord fills the Lord’s House. The mortal body has been transformed into an immortal body. This culmination of the Masonic purpose is sometimes represented by the fire coming down from heaven and by a temple in the lodge being filled with effulgent light. Sometimes a passage from the Bible is read and an illumination made to show to the candidate the lodge filled with the glory that floods the temple.
In the Seventh Degree or Royal Arch are symbolized events which preceded the completion of the temple, and some information is given about the Word.
The candidate is made to represent one of three Masons who after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar were captives in Babylon till Cyrus of Persia liberated them. They returned to Jerusalem to assist in building the temple. On arrival they found the Tabernacle, a temporary structure. This is the temporary physical body, which serves until the temple is rebuilt. The three were given tools and directed to begin their labors at the North East corner of the ruined temple. There they discovered a secret vault under a trap which was the keystone of an arch. The keystone taken before the Grand Council was there discovered to be the keystone of the principal arch in Solomon’s Temple. Lowered by cable-tow into the vault the candidate finds three small trying-squares which are by the Grand Council recognized as the Master’s Jewels of King Solomon, of King Hiram of Tyre and of Hiram Abiff. On another descent a small box is found which is recognized by the Grand Council as the Ark of the Covenant. Out of this chest are taken a pot of manna and four pieces of paper containing in right angles and dots the key to a mystery language. With this key three mysterious words written in triangular form upon the Ark, become readable as the name of God in the Chaldaic, Hebrew and Syriac languages; and this Name of the Deity is in the ritual said to be the long lost Master Mason’s Word or Logos. This identification among modern Masons of the Name and the Word is a blind, or is due to a mistake.
The Name and the Word are distinct and not the same. The Name is a name, one of the names, of the God of the physical world, the Earth Spirit. This God belongs to the nature-side. It is known by different names in different ages among different peoples. Brahma is one of the names; originally it was Brahm and after it divided it became Brahma, and then the Trimurti Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. This is the Name of the God of the physical world, with the Hindus. The name of the Triune Self, however, is BrahmA, VishnU, BrahM, the last letters of which are the Word.
The Hebrew Name is Jehovah, and modern Masons have adopted this. It is a name of the ruler of the physical world and its four planes. This God has no physical body except the formless four elements in the physical world and the human bodies of those who are born in his Name and who obey his laws. At one time this God acted through human physical bodies which were sexless, then he acted through human bodies which were bisexual, and now he acts through human bodies that are male human bodies and that are female human bodies. The Name can be pronounced only when a human body has in it active masculine and passive feminine powers. A man can only give half of the Name, because his body is only half the Name. To this fact refers the Masonic practice of saying: “I will letter it or halve it.” The Name is the name of the body and the body must be rebuilt into a balanced male-female body before it is the Name and the dweller in the body can breathe the Name. The Name belongs to the body, is of the four elements and hence has four letters, Jod, He, Vav, He. The Name is ineffable until such time as it can be breathed by the dweller in a normal balanced or sexless physical body.
The Word, an English translation of the Logos, as used by St. John, is not the Name. It is an expression of the full Triune Self powers, each of the three parts being represented in it by a sound, and the perfect body in which the Triune Self dwells being also represented by a sound. The Doer part is expressed as A, the Thinker part as U or O, the Knower part as M, and the perfect body as I. The Word is I-A-O-M, in four syllables or letters. The expression of the perfect body and the Triune Self as these sounds is an expression of the Conscious Light of the Intelligence through that Self and body. When a part in its physical body sounds as IAOM each of the parts sounds AOM, and each represents a Logos. The Knower is then the First Logos, the Thinker the Second Logos and the Doer the Third Logos.
The Word is symbolized by a circle in which are a hexad of two interlaced triangles, and the point in the center. The point is the M, the triangle Aries, Leo, Sagittary is the A, the triangle Gemini, Libra, Aquarius is the U or the O, and the circle is the fully expressed point M as well as the line of the body I. The hexad is made up of the macrocosmic signs standing for the sexless triad and the androgynous triad, the triangle of God as Intelligence and the triangle of God as nature. These letters in which the perfect Self sounds, are symbolized in Masonry by the square and compass or the emblem of the interlaced triangles.
There is a succinct relationship of the Word with the Ineffable Name. The Word is feeling-and-desire, the Doer. The Doer is lost in the body of flesh and blood in the world of life and death. Thus the Doer is the lost Word. The body, when perfected, serves as the instrument through which the Doer pronounces the Ineffable Name. The Ineffable Name and the embodied Word, when one is fitted to speak it, is IAOM. By so doing the body is raised from a horizontal to an upright position.
The Name is pronounced as follows: It is started by opening the lips with an “ee” sound graduating into a broad “a” as the mouth opens wider with the lips forming an oval shape and then graduating the sound to “o” as the lips form a circle, and again modulating to an “m” sound as the lips close to a point. This point resolves itself to a point within the head.
Expressed phonetically the Name is “EE-Ah-Oh-Mmm” and is pronounced with one continuous outbreathing with a slight nasal tone in the manner described above. It can be correctly and properly expressed with its full power only by one who has brought his physical body to a state of perfection, that is, balanced and sexless.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.