About the Author:
Duncan Moore grew up in Lancashire and was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby. He was bitten by the history bug at an early age and has been a lifelong student of that subject. Initiated into Freemasonry in Cheshire in 1971, he now holds Grand Rank or equivalent in most Masonic Orders. He has been active in various degrees in several English Provinces. He is also a member of the Knight Masons of Ireland and active in Scotland and Belgium. His particular delight has been to witness the expansion of Masonry in the English District of Cyprus, where he was a founder of Mark and RAM lodges and two Rose Croix Chapters. Duncan Moore has been a member of the Merseyside and Manchester Associations for Masonic Research and has given many papers to lodges and associations in the north of England. Having written many histories of Craft Lodges and other Orders, he is firmly of the opinion that it is vital to look behind the minutes, to the events on the local and world stage that will have affected the members and conditioned their Masonic membership. Currently he lives in Cyprus with his wife.
The object of this book is to provide a simple guide to elementary Masonic symbolism, concentrating entirely on the Craft.
The Author starts with a chapter on the Origins and History of Symbolism and then go on to examine the Symbolism of the Lodge room or temple. Then there is a chapter on each of the three Degrees in which Moore looks at the symbolism within each in terms of the Preparation for taking the Degree, the symbolism inherent within the Degree, the Working Tools explained and the Tracing Board used. Next the Author looks at the symbolism used within the Ceremony of Installation. The concluding chapter covers some of the symbols which may no longer be seen in current use, or are not used as they once were, but are still found on some of the older illustrations and artefacts thankfully preserved.
An understanding of the symbols we use is an essential part of the education of every Freemason. Without symbolism and allegory Masonry would merely be a series of sermons exhorting its members to love God and their neighbours, live a good life, educate themselves and know themselves. Whether the Craft in that form would have survived for nearly 300 years and spread allover the free world is questionable. For the Freemason, everything covered in this book is 'symbolical of sundry moral truths inculcated by Freemasonry'.
In Masonic symbolism it has to be admitted that there is some degree of overlap. The Volume of the Sacred Law, for example, is one of the Three Great Lights, but it is also itself symbolised by the Tracing Board, one of the immoveable jewels of the Lodge. The square is a moveable jewel, but it too is one of the Three Great Lights. W.Bro. Moore has dealt with each symbol within each heading under which it occurs.
Several times the Author quotes from the ritual the phrase 'veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols'. To illustrate means to throw light on, and so what Masonry is really about is the meanings behind those symbols. That is what this book worthily covers.
This book sets out a clear and easy to understand explanation of Masonic symbols primarily for the new Mason and interested general readers, although long-serving Masons will find much of interest in this new look at symbols and what they signify. For those who have practised Freemasonry, served the offices and learned the ritual but have neglected the history of the symbols used, then 'A Guide to Masonic Symbolism' will be invaluable.
While concentrating on Craft symbols Duncan Moore describes the origins and derivations of the symbols used and how they became a paramount part of operative and speculative Masonry, and also looks in detail at the colours, numbers and extraneous influences like the Signs of the Zodiac. Moore also studies symbolism in the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry and gives reference to the symbols in the Lodge, on the Tracing Board and the officers' collar jewels.
In tackling this subject of symbolism, Moore has been careful to avoid the fantastic and to stick to interpretations of Masonic symbols that are generally acceptable and historically valid.
Bringing the existence of symbols used in Masonry to the deeper attention of new and practising Freemasons, this book will provoke greater thought about what lies behind the symbols in terms of the philosophy of Masonry and will stimulate further research for the practising Freemason and interested student alike.
Editor, PS Review of Freemasonry