MASONRY AND ITS SYMBOLS
Harold W. Percival
The degree of Fellow Craft. How the candidate is received and the meaning of it. Being brought to light. What he receives. The tools of a Fellow Craft. Their meaning. The two Columns. Building the bridge from Boaz to Jachin. The three, five and seven steps. The Middle Chamber. Meaning of the steps. The wages and the jewels. Meaning of the letter G. The point and the circle. The four and the three degrees. The twelve points on the circle. The Zodiacal signs. Expression of universal truths. Geometry. The achievements of the Fellow Craft. The Thinker. The Master Mason. Preparation. Reception. Being brought to light. The pass, the grip, the apron and the tools of a Master Mason.
The second degree, that of Fellow Craft, is not an initiation of the Thinker, but is the passing of the conscious Doer from the darkness and ignorance of feeling-and-desire to the light of Rightness-and-Reason. He is received into this degree on the angle of the square, symbolic of the fact that he has made his feeling-and-desire right and square, at right angles with each other, that he has united them, and that they will be used so in all his actions. He asks for more light and is shown how to step towards that Light. He receives more Light. In being brought to Light in this degree, he perceives one point of the compass above the square, symbolic of the fact that he receives Light through the Rightness of his Thinker and that he will be guided in his actions from that point, that Light. He receives the pass, the grip and the word of a Fellow Craft. The pass is symbolical of the transfer or passage from the first to the second degree. The grip stands for the power of Rightness over feeling-and-desire. The word is still not the Word, but is only two letters, namely the A with a U or an O.
He is given the working tools of a Fellow Craft which are the plumb, the square and the level. The plumb stands for uprightness in thinking, the level for equality in thinking, and the square for the union of the plumb and the level. This means that the signs which were only lines in the Apprentice degree have now in the Fellow Craft degree become tools; the perpendiculars and horizontals, which were lines, have become the plumb and the level, and the right angles have become the square. Desire and feeling are now upright and level, united, that is, in agreement with and in right relation to each other, and act from the point of their union which is at Rightness. The angle of the square stands for the point of union. The square is used in thinking, whether by the plumb or on the level, in all that concerns the earth, that is, the physical body of oneself or of another.
He is shown two brazen columns, said to have been at the entrance of Solomon’s Temple. Boaz, the left column, symbolizes the sympathetic or nature column, which will be in front of the body, and Jachin, the right one, is the spinal column, the column of the Triune Self. When the Doer part of the Triune Self first came into its body, that is, its temple, the body was neither male nor female, and the two columns existed and functioned having the united power. After its temple was destroyed, the Doer functioned in a body which was either male or female and had only Jachin, the male column, and had only the power of the male or of the female. Boaz does not exist, except potentially. The Fellow Craft is reminded by seeing the two columns that he has to rebuild Boaz. The stones which the Apprentice has prepared with his rule and gavel are to be further prepared by the Fellow Craft for the Master Mason before Boaz will be re-established. It is significant that the chapiters of both columns show network, lily-work and pomegranates full of seeds. The network is that of interlaced nerves which is built up by purity which preserves the seeds, and which builds the bridge from Boaz to Jachin.
The Fellow Craft sees the three, five and seven steps or stairs as the winding stairs leading to the Middle Chamber of Solomon’s Temple. The five steps are symbolic of work in the Fellow Craft degree, while the three steps relate to the Apprentice degree through which he has passed and the work of which he continues.
The three, five and seven steps or stairs are certain centers or organs in the body. The body as a whole is King Solomon’s Temple (or the ruins of it from which the temple is to be rebuilt). The entrance or first step is the prostate, the second step symbolizes the kidneys, the third the adrenals, the fourth the heart, the fifth the lungs, the sixth the pituitary body and the seventh the pineal body. These steps are taken by the use of the minds of Rightness and of Reason. The body-mind is used by the Apprentice to control the body, the feeling-mind to control feeling and the desire-mind to control desire. By controlling feeling he controls feelings, and by controlling desire, he controls desires. The candidate is always the Doer part of the Triune Self, throughout the work of the three degrees. His taking the five steps of the Fellow Craft means the ability to reach the minds used by and for Rightness and Reason of the Thinker of his Triune Self. His taking the seven steps symbolizes his reaching to the minds which are used by and for I-ness and selfness.
The white apron or clean body, which is the badge of a Mason, the rule of right and the gavel of desire are the three steps; by them the Apprentice prepares stones for building. The five are the same three together with the two, the plumb and the level, added. When uprightness in thinking is united with equality in thinking, the plumb and the level form the square, the point of union being at Rightness. With these five the Fellow Craft prepares and fits the building stones. The building stones are the units of nature. The seven are a symbol for the seven minds and seven powers of the minds to develop which the Fellow Craft is called. Speculative Masonry designates these seven aspects by the names of the liberal arts and sciences, which are given as grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. The great Three, Five and Seven, though here mentioned, are not brought into the ritual, except that the three, five and seven are brought into relation with the development of the Doer of feeling-and-desire to use its minds.
The ascent through a porch, by a flight of winding stairs, consisting of three, five and seven steps, to a place representing the Middle Chamber of King Solomon’s Temple, that is, the lodge working in the Fellow Craft degree, is also symbolical of various windings of nature to her concealed recesses, that is, certain physiological developments, due to the development of one’s minds, by thinking, before he is received and recorded as a Fellow Craft.
The wages and jewels he receives for his work as a Fellow Craft are certain psychic and mental powers, symbolized by corn, wine and oil, and by the attentive ear, instructive tongue and faithful breast.
The attention of the Fellow Craft is directed to a great symbol placed above the head of the Master, the letter G. It is said to stand for God, for Gnosis and for Geometry. But it has not been at all times a Roman G. The G stands in place of that which is universally symbolized by the point in the center of a circle.
The point and the circle are the same, the point is the infinitesimally small circle and the circle is the point fully expressed. The expression is divided into the manifested and the unmanifested. The expression proceeds by points and lines. The unmanifested is present in the manifested and the manifested is in the unmanifested. The purpose of the expression is to make that which becomes manifested, conscious of and to identify itself with the unmanifested which is within it; then the circle is fully expressed and the expression, by degrees, re-becomes the point. The expression is divided into the unmanifested or Substance and the manifested or matter. Matter is again divided into nature-matter and intelligent-matter, according to degrees in which the matter is conscious. These degrees are proved by the square and described by the compass, according to angles, horizontals and perpendiculars. Nature-matter is divided infinitely according to the subdegrees of the four elements, and their combinations and subdivisions, and their hierarchies of beings in the four manifested worlds. Intelligent-matter, that is, the Triune Self, is divided into three degrees, those of Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master. These are exalted in the Royal Arch, which is in Substance, beyond matter. The unmanifested is always in the manifested on the nature-side as well as on the intelligent-side, but it can be approached and found in the intelligent-side only. It is found by being conscious, which in Masonry is called getting more Light.
The point and the circle stand for all this and for more. The meaning of the fully expressed circle can be rendered by symbols, twelve in number, which stand for twelve points on the circle. Every being and thing in the manifested worlds and the unmanifested universe has a sharply marked value, nature and place, according to some of these points.
The best symbols to indicate the twelve points of the circle are the Zodiacal signs. Universal truths can be expressed through the Zodiac in a way which ordinary language does not permit and so can be understood, after a fashion, by men. To illustrate, the Universe, as well as a cell, is divided by a line from Cancer to Capricorn into the unmanifested above and the manifested below. Matter is separated by a line from Aries to Libra into nature-matter and intelligent-matter. “Souls” enter by conception at the gate of Cancer of the physical world, and are born at the gate of Libra and pass on at the gate of Capricorn. The square is made by the line from Cancer to Libra and by the line from Libra to Capricorn, and the Master sits in the East, at Capricorn, and rules his lodge on this square, the angle of which is at Libra. The square of the Great Architect is the square from Cancer to Libra to Capricorn of the Universe, over and above the four worlds of Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and Libra. So the signs of the Zodiac, as symbols of the twelve points of the fully expressed circle, speak an accurate language that reaches everything in the Universe. This language is that for which the word Geometry stands. The Fellow Craft is told that this is also symbolized by the letter G.
Geometry is half of the science, the other half is the geometer. Geometry deals with only one of the tools, namely the square, which is used to draw straight lines, horizontals and perpendiculars, and to prove corners. The other tool, the compass, stands for the other half, the Geometer, or the Intelligence, without which there could be no Geometry. The compass draws curved lines between two points and describes a circle which is one continuous line without end, each part of which is equally distant from the center. Within the bounds of the circle, all true building must be erected on the square.
The Apprentice has passed into the Fellow Craft. The Fellow Craft has received more Light and has learned the use of his tools; he understands how to rebuild the two columns and how to ascend the winding stairs by the three, five and seven steps. The symbols and the work in this degree relate to the minds of feeling-and-desire coming under the guidance of the minds of Rightness and Reason of the Thinker of the Triune Self. By the plumb and the level of his thinking the Fellow Craft adjusts feeling-and-desire. He causes all the feelings and desires to be squared on the inner as well as on the outer expressions. He does all this by his thinking.
The degree of Master Mason represents the Apprentice and Fellow Craft raised to the degree of Master. As the Apprentice is the Doer and the Fellow Craft the Thinker, so the Master Mason is the Knower. Going through each degree as an individual symbolizes the development of the Apprentice or Doer passing to the Fellow Craft or relation to the Thinker and being raised to the degree of Master Mason or attaining to relation to the Knower.
The candidate after he is prepared, blindfolded and tied with cable-tow around his waist, enters the lodge. He is received on both points of the compass, pressed against his breast. He takes the three steps to the altar where he kneels for the third time, rests his hands on the Bible, square and compass, and takes the obligation of a Master Mason. He asks for further light in Masonry. He is brought to light by the Master of the lodge, and hoodwink and cable-tow removed. Thus he sees that both points of the compass are above the square. This is a symbol that with one who has reached this degree both aspects of the Thinker are operative above feeling-and-desire because feeling-and-desire have put themselves under the guidance of the Thinker. He receives the pass and grip of a Master Mason and wears his apron as a Master Mason, that is, with the flap and all corners down.
The working tools of a Master are all the implements of Masonry of the three degrees, more especially the trowel. As the gauge and mallet prepared the rough stones, as the plumb, level and square fitted them into position, so the trowel spreads the cement and completes the work of the Apprentice and Fellow Craft.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.