By WOR. BRO. J.S.M. WARD, M.A., F.S.S.
(Author of Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods.)
IT is with great pleasure that I have accepted Major
Sanderson's invitation to write an Introduction to his book,
for I consider it one of the most valuable contributions of
recent times from the standpoint of the Anthropological
School of Masonic Research.
Major Sanderson has for many years been a careful student
of the customs and initiatory rites of the Natives of Africa,
among whom he has lived, and his official duties as Chief
Sanitation Officer in Nyasaland has placed him in a
privileged position and enabled him to obtain the confidence
of the Native Races in a way which is almost impossible for
any casual traveller, or even for an ordinary white civilian.
How completely he has gained the confidence of the Native
Races is shown by the fact that he has been made Master of
Ceremonies in their Rites, a unique privilege never before
bestowed on any white man.
Major Sanderson likewise holds most of the important
degrees in Freemasonry, and thus it is that he was well
qualified to undertake a careful study of our rituals from the
standpoint of Anthropology. The work which follows aims at
showing whence many important parts of the ritual have
developed, and undoubtedly Major Sanderson has produced
evidence which should satisfy the most careful student as to
the source and origin of certain important incidents in the
Major Sanderson would be the last to claim that he had
been successful in discovering the origin of every point, but
he has, on the other hand, clearly indicated the line of
research which should be followed. He has helped to set up
definite canons of evidence which, unlike those of the
authentic school, remain valid even when we have got
beyond written evidence.
Until recently the average Masonic student has
concentrated his attention on 18th Century Masonic history,
because he knew of no other evidence, for the antiquity of
our Order, than Historical documents. As, however, written
documents are a clear breach of the original Ob... of the
members of the Order, it is not surprising to find that hardly
any exist previous to 1717. In fact, during the very years
when masonry must have been of the greatest practical
importance there are but few historical documents.
Furthermore, the 18th Century is a far from inspiring period
in English history, and it is natural that such material as we
have is for the most part dull and uninteresting. But modern
historical students have realized that the written history of
man represents but a tiny fraction of his real history, and
that the key to recent historical events can often only be
found in a period of time anterior to written documents. The
methods of the Anthropologist, the Student of Folk-lore and
of Comparative religions, enable us to re-discover the life
and history of our pre-historic ancestors, and the same
methods are yielding equally valuable results in Masonic
I therefore recommend to every reading Mason this little
volume, and more especially to the young Mason, who will
find therein the explanation of just those points on which he
often seeks help and enlightenment in vain.
J. S. M. WARD.
AN EXAMINATION OF THE MASONIC RITUAL
FIRST DEGREE - THE ENTERED APPRENTICE
I REMEMBER that when I had just been initiated my state of
mind could only be described as chaotic; the incidents of the
ceremony were only half remembered and not at all
understood, while I was conscious of a certain feeling of
disappointment, though I could not have said why. I could
not have put into words quite what I had expected, but I
recollect thinking that the solemnity of the obligation I had
taken was disproportionate to the secrets which had been
imparted to me. I have since met many Freemasons who
have confessed to a similar feeling, and it is with the object
of helping newly initiated brethren over this difficult period
that I have written this book.
The classical definition of Freemasonry is that it is " a
system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by
symbols." Let us first consider this. We have here three
propositions, of which the first and last are not difficult , the
initiate will remember the Charge given after his return to
the Lodge which taught him that Freemasonry is " a system
of morality." He will also recollect that certain symbolic
meanings were given to the W.T's, * - the GA as
conscience, the CA as education, and so on these are
examples of masonic symbolism others not so obvious will
be explained in the course of this book.
The point to which I want to call particular attention is the
phrase " veiled in allegory." The dictionary defines allegory
as " a figurative representation, in which something else is
intended to what is actually exhibited." This is, as a
definition, literally and absolutely true of our masonic
ceremonies; they have two distinct meanings, an exoteric or
obvious one, which is often symbolical, and an esoteric or
mystical meaning. When you ask a riddle do you give the
answer at the same time? Neither is the key to the masonic
allegory, i.e., its esoteric meaning, given to all and sundry.
The point which must be appreciated is that there is more,
much more, in the masonic ritual than appears on the
surface ; there is, therefore, no reason for any feeling of
* The newly initiated Freemason will readily understand that
it is inexpedient to write everything in full: he is advised to
ask an older Mason to decipher any abbreviations that he
cannot make out for himself.
II. - A NOTE ON MASONIC ORIGINS.
It is now generally accepted that the essentials of
Freemasonry have been handed down from time
immemorial, and it is therefore obvious that we should look
round to see if anything similar to it exists in other parts of
the world; we can then compare one with the other and learn
much as to the meaning of each. When we come to consider
the third degree we shall be better able to discuss this
subject, and for the present the reader should preserve an
He must, however, appreciate that if we find points of
similarity between Freemasonry and other systems, even
though we find identical ceremonies occurring in each, it
does not necessarily follow that the one is " descended "
from the other : such resemblances or identity are more
often due to a common origin. If, for instance, we find points
of resemblance between the Brahman ritual and
Freemasonry it does not imply that the Craft came to us from
India, but it is certainly suggestive that both were derived
from some ancient rite, possibly in Egypt, possibly in Asia.
Similarly when we find some of our s..ns or even parts of our
rites in the initiation ceremonies of primitive peoples - and I
have found such myself in the heart of Africa - it is at least
suggestive that Freemasonry had its origin in similar
primitive rites ages ago.
That this was actually the case is my belief, but I would warn
the reader that it is not held by all masons. He should not,
therefore, blindly accept my conclusions as orthodox, but
rather regard them as speculations made with the specific
purpose of stimulating enquiry. Let me assure him of one
thing, however, - he can trust the facts from which my
speculations have been made ; every one has been
carefully verified and he will find no difficulty in
distinguishing between fact and theory. Given the facts
everybody can make his own deductions. As the result of
several years' research I can supply parallels to most of our
customs from other parts of the world, some of them culled
from the work of other masonic students but more from that
of ethnologists and from my own experiences - but I do not
make any dogmatic statements as to the meaning of such
III. - PREPARATION.
The reader will remember that before he was admitted to the
Lodge he had to be prepared in a certain way: i.e., he was
divested of all ms., and b..df ... d (or h. . . w ... d); his r.a.,
I.b., and k. were made b., his r.h. sl.d., and a c.t. placed
about his n..
Let us take each of these points seriatim:-
(a) Divested of all ms. .
The reason given for this in the Lecture is threefold, - that
no weapons should be brought into the Lodge, that it should
remind the initiate of the virtue of charity, and lastly that no
m. s were used in building K.S.T.. We find on further
enquiry, however, that all over the world and in all ages
there has been a feeling that m. was impure and savoured
of the black art (1), and it probably dates from the close of
the stone age. It is one of those superstitions which have
persisted in so remarkable a manner (like, for instance, that
of "touching wood"), and it is invariably specified in old
wives' spells whether m. must be used or not used; it is
probably connected with the injunction to be sure and touch
m. when the new moon is first seen. In a tribe in Central
Africa among whom I have lived (the Wa Yao) no m. must
be worn during the ceremony of purification, nor on many
other similar occasions both in this tribe and others (2). The
ban said to have been put on m. s during the b ... g of K.S.T.
is, of course, the same superstition, but it is doubtful if it is
the source of the masonic custom: as we shall see, many of
our customs can be traced to Magic.
The importance attached to this point in the preparation of
the candidate is made evident by the statement of the W.M.
during the ceremony that, in case of its omission the rite of
initiation would have to be repeated, i.e., the wearing of in.
would render the cand. ceremonially unclean and his
initiation null and void.
(b) H ... d ... d.
The candidate is described as "a poor cand. in a state of d
... s," which is figurative of being in a state of darkest
ignorance, in preparation for receiving the l..t of rev ... n.
This symbolism is common to all the ancient mysteries, and
to many primitive ceremonies of initiation the world over.
The term h..d..k is correctly used in the ritual in its original
meaning, though now of course it is rarely used except in a
figurative sense, and survives only in falconry.
(c) r.a., I.b., and k. made b.
I would suggest that the ob. was formerly taken on the Cubic
Stone, or Altar, so conspicuous in some lodges and in some
higher degrees, and that the V.S.L. is comparatively
speaking an innovation. Swearing at, and on, the altar
survived as a custom to quite recent times, and the Bible,
which had a place on the altar, was, after the introduction of
printing, substituted as being more convenient for everyday
A cubic stone is found in all "heathen" temples and we have
many historical accounts of its use for taking oaths; for
instance, MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, took a solemn oath
with uplifted hands and bended knees on the Black Stone of
Iona (3); to this day the King of England is crowned on such
a stone placed under the coronation chair in Westminster
Abbey; a Brahman on initiation is made to tread on a stone
with his right foot when taking the ob., (3) and so on.
Among savages an oath taken on a rock is regarded as
inviolable, and Frazer suggests that there is an association
of ideas in the strength and stability of a stone, these
properties being communicated to the oath (3).
If my hypothesis be correct we can understand why the a.
and k. of the candidate are made b., - it was essential that
nothing be interposed between the skin and the stone, for
the same reason that one removes a glove before shaking
hands. It will be noted that the k... m. . b... is that on which
the candidate kneels when taking the ob..n.
The b. . t is, of course, b. . . d so as to enable the p ... d to
be applied thereto on admission to the Lodge, and
(nowadays) the c ... s during the ob.n, as well as for
evidence of sex. There can be little doubt that formerly if the
candidate were not entirely n ... d he was nearly so, as in
the ancient mysteries and other initiatory rites to be
described later (4). The phrase "neither n ... d nor cl ... d"
occurs in the lecture in describing the preparation of the
candidate, but it is impossible to say how old this is.
(d) r.h. sl.ps. d.
As stated in the Lecture, the shoe was in the East removed
as a pledge of fidelity, but merely at the time of sealing a
bargain, * not throughout the period of bargaining (5). So
also both shoes were removed on entering a holy place lest
it be defiled, but neither of these customs supplies a
satisfactory reason for the practise of going through the
whole ceremony with one f . . t sl. ps. . d.
Now it used to be the custom in Scotland for the bridegroom
to loosen one shoe-tie at the church door and leave it so
during the marriage ceremony (6). One writer (7) mentions
that in Skye in 1772 he observed with astonishment that at a
wedding " the bridegroom put all the powers of magic to
defiance, for he was married with both shoes tied with their
In ancient Greece and Rome also it was customary to
remove one shoe altogether when in any great danger, or
when performing certain solemn rites. Thus the Plataeans
when escaping from the Spartans went through the enemy's
lines wearing one shoe only, and other tribes of ancient
Rome observed the same custom when going into war.
Perseus in one legend is said to have worn only one shoe
when he cut off the Gorgon's head, and in a scene, taken
from the Grecian ritual of purification and painted on a vase,
the subject is represented as wearing one shoe only. Dido
when performing certain rites before the altar had one foot
bare, and so on (8).
I would suggest that the custom of having one foot sl. ps. . d
and that of having one shoe removed altogether are one
and the same, and that it is from this superstition that the
masonic custom is derived.
The custom indicates sincerity to an oath, whether the
pledge is absolute (as in Masonry or during marriage) or
whether it is conditional, as, for instance, where a vow is
taken to perform some service if preserved from some
"difficulty or danger."
(e) A c.t. placed about his n..
The c. t. appears in the most ancient pictures in the temples
and tombs of Egypt and South America, the persons
wearing it (and others) being in attitudes identical with some
of our masonic signs. It is the equivalent of the African
"slave-stick" and indicates that the candidate enters the
Lodge in a humble spirit, being the slave to false doctrines
which will be cured by the knowledge bestowed by the
mysteries. It will be remembered that on an historic occasion
the burghers of Calais observed this custom.
The reason for its use given by the W.M. after the ob. is
purely secondary and incidental; in some other degrees the
c.t. is applied to parts of the body other than the n. .
* Apparently among the Hebrews this custom had special
reference to the custom of marrying the wife of a deceased
brother, cf. Dent. XXV. 7-10.
IV. - ADMISSION OF THE CANDIDATE.
The critical student of the ritual cannot fail to be struck with
the parade made of applying the p. to the b. of the
candidate. The reason given for this custom in the Lecture is
that it is intended "to intimate" to the candidate that he is
"about to engage in something serious and solemn, likewise
to distinguish the sex." The first is a very lame explanation,
and the second can obviously refer only to the b. of the b. .
In the Scotch ritual, where more stress is laid on this part of
the ceremony than in the English, the reason given for the
practice is that it is of the nature of a warning against the
betrayal of masonic secrets.
In the ancient mysteries the candidate was put through the
most searching tests of his courage and self-control;
Pythagoras, it is said, nearly lost his life while being
initiated, so severe was the treatment to which he was
subjected (9). Similar ordeals have to be undergone by
initiates in the pseudo-masonic ceremonies of savages, and
there can, I think, be little doubt that this custom of p ... g the
candidate with the p. is a relic of this ancient practice.
Many of these ordeals are still practised in the ceremonies
of the Netherlands Constitution.
Immediately after his admission the candidate kneels during
prayer and as he does so the deacons cross their wands
above him, forming an inverted V. This custom may not be
without significance, as a similar usage, that of requiring the
candidate to stoop, appears in a higher degree. Now the
door of the Lodge in ancient Egypt was triangular (10),
which is at least suggestive, and I think the reason for this
may be found in some of the initiatory rites of primitive
peoples. The triangle, though later the symbol of the Trinity,
was originally that of the maternal Productive element in
Nature, and in many of these rites the candidate has to go
through the pantomime of a new birth", sometimes actually
creeping through such a triangle. * Similarly an African tribe
among whom I have lived have a rite of purification during
which they have to pass under a low arch, made of two
crossed poles tied together at their intersection. The
intention is undoubtedly to rid the devotee of clinging evil
and an identical ceremony is performed in Armenia, British
Columbia, Borneo, the South Sea Islands, and elsewhere
(12). It is possible that in this widespread custom we may
find the parallel, if not the origin, of the apparently
unimportant act of crossing the deacons' wands over the
* Note that the Masonic Ritual itself describes the ceremony
of initiation as "an emblematical representation of the entry
of all men on this their mortal existence.
V. - THE CEREMONY OF INITIATION.
Perambulation : Steps : Lights.
(1) Perambulation of the Candidate.
In lodges under the English, Constitution it is customary for
the candidate to be taken round the Lodge only once and to
go through the form of passing only two doorways (at the
pedestals of the two wardens). In the old Scotch ritual three
perambulations are made and the candidate passes three
doorways, tyled by the wardens and the W.M. respectively,
and this is correct according to ancient precedent.
Formerly the Lodge was divided into three, or, more
correctly, there were three Lodges, - the E.A's, the F.C's,
and the M.M's, presided over by the J.W., S.W., and W.M.
respectively, This was also the case in the ancient
mysteries, a plan which still survives in the 18d and to a
certain extent in the R.A.. We shall have occasion to refer to
this point again.
It may be said that the candidate should not be required to
pass three doorways within the Lodge seeing that he has
already passed one on admittance to the Lodge. To make
this view tenable he should be received at the door by the
J.W, and during or rather after the perambulation he should
be passed by the S.W. and W.M. Strictly speaking,
however, at initiation the candidate should pass only the
JW., in the 2nd degree both wardens, and on being r ... d he
should pass all three principal officers.
(2) The Steps.
The Lecture states that the form of these steps is meant to
inculcate "upright lives and well-squared actions," but this
can obviously refer only to the position of the f.. No reason
is given in any ritual that I know of, for the form of the steps.
Possibly they are intended to be symbolical of the erratic
progress of those still in the darkness of ignorance. Their
number is, of course, attributable to the masonic
progression of 3, 5 and 7, though it would more correctly be
associated with the third degree.
Churchward states (13) that this custom was designed to
perpetuate the mythical fight between the Egyptian god
Horus and the serpent Apep, - an allegory of the dawn
defeating the night (or according to some authorities, the
mists of the morning), of the triumph of Good over Evil,
Knowledge over Ignorance: the myth is, of course, the same
as that of St. George and the Dragon. Wherever depicted,
whether on the monuments or in the vignettes to the Book of
the Dead, the god has his l.f. advanced, sometimes planted
on the serpent, as Bro. Churchward points out.
The custom is, however, much more widespread than this.
In the first place this attitude is not confined to Horus in
ancient Egypt but in ah the vignettes in the Book of the
Dead in which the deceased is represented as attacking any
of the beasts which sought to bar his progress, he invariably
has his l.f. advanced. The importance of this lies in the fact
that the candidate in the Egyptian mysteries enacted the
vicissitudes of the soul after death, and as it is now very
generally admitted that Freemasonry owes a great deal to
these mysteries we have here an excellent explanation of
Now it is significant that all over the world the left is
regarded as offensive in a double sense, that is, its use is
harmful to others. In many countries under native law
damages can be claimed from a man who has given
anything to another with the left hand; witness also the word
sinister. Here we have the reason that the l.f. is put forward
in attacking evil powers.
Further we have the negative evidence that on certain
specified occasions the r.f. must be first put forward. A
Muslim, for instance, enters both house and mosque r.f. first
to show that he comes in peace. In the island of Lombok
(near Java) a woman on going to the barn to get rice for
household use must enter with the r.f. first (14); neglect of
this would so offend (or injure) the spirit of the rice that the
next year's crop would inevitably be a failure. In British
Columbia the Indians during a period of tabu prescribed
after the ceremonial eating of human flesh, must enter the
house with the r.f. first to avoid further outrage on the spirit
of the victim, - a delicate attention which we will hope is
(3) ". . . your l. will be employed in supporting a P. of c . . .
This custom is not observed in some lodges. In the Scotch
ritual the I.h. is placed under the V.S.L., the r. being on it as
in the English, and this position of the h. is used as a s..
That the English Constitution has lost a landmark in omitting
this s. is evident from one of the illustrations in Bro. Ward's
scholarly work "Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods", (16)
where the Buddha is shown giving this s.. In Scotland it is
known as the "due guard or (better) Dieu garde.
The Lecture states that the c. . s are applied to the b. as "an
emblem of torture" to the body and a warning against the
betrayal of masonic secrets, - the same reason be it noted
that the Scotch ritual gives for the similar application of the
p. on entrance. I think it probable that this use of the c.s is of
modem interpolation, and that the b. was applied to the
Cubic Stone when taking the ob..
(4) "What . . . is the predominant wish of your heart ? " "L . .
This point in the cermony formed one of the most dramatic
incidents in the mysteries of Eleusis (17). That in
Freemasonry it was also considered important is evident
from the custom observed when l. is restored, especially in
some Lodges, but more might be made of it. Besides the
symbolic passing from the D. of Ignorance to the L. of
Knowledge this part of the ceremony probably formerly had
reference to the beneficent power of the sun.
(5) The sun, moon, and Master of the Lodge.
This identification of the three lesser lights forms a sad
mixture of metaphor and the third point is pure bathos. The
compilers of the Lecture evidently realized this and did their
best to make it appear plausible, though without much
I think it probable that formerly the names of three deities
were mentioned as ruling over the three seasons (see Note
on the Three Principal Officers, Part 1. X. (5), and that in
course of time their names became so corrupted as to make
the whole simile unintelligible.
VI. - THE CEREMONY OF INITIATION (continued):
Sms., GP., and Wd..
(1) The s..n.
That this s. has come down to us from very remote antiquity
is evident from the fact that it is at the present day used as a
pledge of sincerity not only by European street urchins, but
by natives in Central Africa. Among the latter it is usually, in
some tribes always, accompanied by a peculiar flick of the
fingers extraordinarily like a s. of a higher degree, and in my
opinion identical therewith.
As mentioned above (18), in the Scotch ritual the position of
the h. in taking the ob. is used as a s. in this degree ; it is
immediately followed by that taught in the English lodges, of
which it thus forms part.
(2) The g.p.
This was formerly described as a penal s. on the grounds
that amputation of the f ... r was practised as a punishment
for certain crimes of the middle ages. That this was not the
origin of the g. but that it once had a religious significance is
evident from an ancient custom of sacrificing this member to
the gods. We find a similar custom among some tribes of
North American Indians among whom it was not uncommon
for a man to cut off the H. as a sacrifice to the Great Spirit
(19). Moreover it is said (20) that the matricide Orestes
succeeded in appeasing the Furies by biting off one of his f .
In the Scotch ritual this g. is distinguished as the G.G.
because there are three others leading up to it. The first of
these is called the S.p or C.n, and is given by s.d..g the
thumb and f. down the i.f. of the b.'s r.h. from the k. to the
tip; g..p.g the last mentioned between f. and t. is called the
J.t of F..b.n. The middle j.t is now g..p.d in a similar manner,
this being the J.t of Enq. ; finally the f. and t. are slipped up
to the position of the G.G., which movement is called the P.
from D. to L.. Evidently because this procedure is too
elaborate not to be evident to onlookers, the l.h. is used to
conceal it, which action is called c..g the m.'s w. . k.
I consider that b. of the English Constitution ought to be
informed of this procedure in order to enable them to give
proof in a Scotch Lodge when called upon. I am informed
that it is also observed in Irish Lodges.
(3) The w. d.
In the first place I would call attention to the reiteration of the
word S. in the ritual, in the w. of the 1d, in the name of one
of the p..rs (W., S. and B.y), and in the word L.. s. It is
evident that a word having this meaning was formerly of no
little importance in Freemasonry and that we may expect to
find it associated with a p.r.
The explanation can be found in ancient Egypt and in Syria.
Pre-eminent in Egyptian religion was the tat (or ded) pillar,
the annual erection of which formed one of the most
important festivals of the year. It was regarded as a most
powerful talisman and miniatures of it were almost
universally worn during life, and were carved on the coffin or
placed on the breast of the dead.
In mythology two tat pillars stood at the entrance to Ament
(21) (the abode of the dead), and formed the gateway
through which the sun and moon passed at setting, as well
as the spirits of the dead. Hence, the Mysteries being a
representation of the passage of the soul through Amenta,
they stood at the door of the Egyptian Lodge. The tat pillar
was the symbol of Osiris and its peculiar shape is due to a
conception of it in later Egypt as his backbone. This is
proved by a passage in the Book of the Dead (22) which
consists of a spell to be said on a tat inlaid on the coffin,
"Here is thy back-bone, thou still-heart (i.e., the dead
identified with the dead Osiris), "here is thy spine." In the
myth of Osiris' death, also, a pillar was made of the acacia
which grew around his coffin; the idea that the tat was
originally a "nilometer" is now quite discredited. There is
very little doubt that the pillar was a symbol of the phallus of
the god which was lost after his dismemberment, and the
annual ceremony of "setting up the tat" was originally phallic
Now the word tat in ancient Egyptian means St ... h, and
there is no doubt that there is the very closest connection
between the symbology of Egypt and Syria; that is how it
comes about that the same pillars, having the same
significance, are found in the biblical account of the b ... g of
K.S.T.. Additional proof that the masonic pillars are identical
with the tat pillars of Egypt will be given later (23). Meantime
we can consider how a pillar came to be associated with the
The frequency with which a pillar is found as a religious
emblem all over the world proves that its origin lies very far
back in the history of man's development. The massebah
pillar of the old Canaanitish sanctuaries was undoubtedly
phallic in meaning; compare Jeremiah 11, 27, "Saying to a
stock, thou art my father, and to a stone, thou hast brought
me forth" (or "begotten me," - marginal note). The stock, or
asherah, was the wooden counterpart of the stone
massebah pillar. The hold their worship had on the people is
evident from the frequency of the denunciations against it in
the Old Testament (24). A pole or pillar, sometimes
duplicated, plays a more or less prominent part in nearly all
the initiation ceremonies of savages, where it also has a
We can now trace the origin of this symbol as part of the
Egyptian religion. The God of Vegetation is supposed to
lose his strength in the autumn when the first signs of death
in his realm appear, and as strength is always intimately
associated with procreative power in the minds of all
primitive peoples, a myth arises to the effect that at this
season the god has lost the phallus. From this idea arose
the custom of the devotees of the god mutilating themselves
(25), partly no doubt from a desire to resemble him, but
mostly with the object of assisting his rejuvenation (i.e., the
return of spring) (26). This was a common practice in
ancient times throughout Greece and the great Empires of
the East, (27) and is considered by some to be the origin of
the rite of circumcision. We can now understand the
development of the myth already alluded to, that Osiris lost
his phallus, and why the setting up of the tat pillar was so
important a ceremony, - the lost member must be replaced
before the fields could become fertile. The licence which
prevailed at this festival among the people had originally a
similar object, - by the rules of Imitative Magic the crops
would thereby be rendered more reproductive. It may be
mentioned in passing that this was the origin of the Carnival
still celebrated annually no the Continent, (28) and of the
May-day festival in England; the May-pole is identical with
the masonic pillar.
VII. - THE CEREMONY OF INITIATION (continued)
The Badge : Foundation Stone : Gauge.
(1) The Badge of an E. A. F..
From statues and paintings in the Egyptian Temples we find
that the apron was then triangular in shape, being worn with
the ape upwards. (29) The triangle was originally, as
mentioned already, the symbol of the productive spirit in
Nature, but later it became identified with the Trinity.
(2) The North-East Corner.
The great Masonic festival is held on Midsummer Day when
the sun, at the northern solstice, reaches the zenith of its
prolific power and is at its greatest altitude. In all ages this
day has for this reason been a festival, and the reason that
masonic lodges were formerly dedicated to St. John is that
since Christian times Midsummer day has been observed as
the feast of this saint.
In all northern latitudes the sun at this period rises in the
North-East, and it was in this quarter that, in Egyptian
mythology, the sun first rose on the day it was created. (30)
These are all reasons for laying a foundation stone in the
North-East and for placing the newly-initiated Freemason
Though not strictly speaking germane to our subject, it may
be of interest to mention here that the act of laying a
particular stone at the foundation of a building is derived
from a custom of remote antiquity. It is directly connected
with the ancient practice of killing one or more men when
commencing a building of any importance; these were either
crushed to death or were built into the wall while yet alive,
the idea being that their spirits should add to the strength
and stability of the structure.
This custom was observed until quite recently in Burmah
and Siam (31), but nearer Europe magic has now been
called in to supply the necessary spirit. Thus in Bulgaria all
that is necessary is to take the measure of a man's shadow
with a piece of string and place it, the string, and therefore
with it the shadow, under a heavy stone built into the wall;
within forty days the former owner of the shadow will be
dead and his spirit under the stone. Another way is to entice
the victim to the building and there manoeuvre him into such
a position that a large stone can be laid upon his shadow;
the result is the same. (32) It is stated on unimpeachable
authority (33) that until quite recently there were in
Roumania specialists whose business it was to supply
architects with the necessary shadows.
The custom of placing wine, oil and money under the
foundation stone, together with a ration of corn, no doubt
arose from the laudable desire to make the abode of the
unfortunate ghost as comfortable as possible.
(3) The 24-inch Gauge.
As Bro. Churchward has pointed out (34) the 24-inch gauge
is the representative of the Egyptian cubit, which when used
as a hieroglyph has the phonetic value of Maat meaning
primarily "that which is straight," and hence "justice,"
"straight dealing." This ancient symbolic meaning of the
gauge might well be restored to the craft.
VIII. - THE FIRST TRACING BOARD.
(1) The form of the Lodge.
The old masonic term describing the form of the Lodge is
"an oblong square," - a quaint conception having no
geometrical sanction. It is, however, preferable to that
substituted in some rituals, - a "parallelopiped," even though
the latter be more correct.
Churchward states (35) that the Egyptian Lodge was built in
the form of a double square, end to end, because it
represented Heaven and Earth, each being a square; but
that the primary formation was a circle.
(2) Three Great Pillars.
These pillars are of course analogous to the three principal
officers, and, like them, are placed in the East, West and
South - a fact to which attention should be drawn in the
The names given to them (W., S. and B.y) are of course
attributes of the G.A.O.T.U., and are identical in many
different religions. Thus Plato speaks of the Trinity as
consisting of Agathos, the Intelligence that drew the plan of
the World, Logos, or the Word, the Energy which executed
it, and Psyche, the productive Spirit which gives a finish and
Beauty to the whole creation (36). So the Oracle of Serapis
spoke, "First God, then the Word, and Spirit all united in
The three pillars also occur in Hindu mythology and have
the same names of W., S. and B.y, representing the Triad,
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. (38) In Egypt the attributes of
the Trinity were the same.
(3) The Ladder.
The masonic Ladder is represented as having many staves
or rounds; on the T.B. 20 are shown, two being marked with
the conventional (modern) symbols of Faith and Hope, the
wine-glass at the top presumably symbolizing Charity. All
this is quite wrong. The ladder should have seven rounds as
in the old ritual, and in the higher degrees of Freemasonry,
as well as in the ancient Mysteries and in every great
Religion throughout the world. It is expressly stated in the
ritual that the ladder is the means by which good
Freemasons reach Heaven, but this is no reason for calling
it " Jacob's ladder," which is obviously a modern
interpolation, resulting from the 18th century desire to find
biblical precedent for every masonic landmark.
"In the cave of Mithra (India) there was a ladder of seven
steps by means of which souls ascended and descended;"
(39) in Indian theology there are seven gates on the way to
Heaven (cf. Jacob's remark, "This is the gate of Heaven"
(40)); in Egypt and ancient Mexico there were seven steps
to the Mount of Heaven; in the 153rd Chapter of the Book of
the Dead we read, "N." (i.e., the soul of the dead man)
"appears on the ladder which was made for him by his father
Ra." In the South Sea Islands at the beginning of the rainy
season a ladder of seven rungs is put up to enable the sun
to come and fertilize the earth. (41) The same thing is found
It should be noted that the V.S.L. is represented as resting
on a pedestal marked with the circle and the parallel lines :
this is the altar of the Scotch and Irish Constitutions, the
prototype of which was the Cubic Stone.
(4) Seven Stars.
These are the Seven Glorious Ones of Egyptian mythology,
identified by different authorities as either the Great or the
Lesser Bear. They are identical with the Seven Stars of the
Bible (42) and are common to all religions. Renouf, referring
to these Seven Glorious Ones, or Divine Masters as they
were sometimes called, says, (43) that they " were the
inventors and patrons of all Arts and Sciences and they
assisted Thoth in composition and in the measurement of
the earth . . . " He compares them with the Seven Rishis of
later Sanscrit literature and identifies them with the Great
Bear. The parallel to the " seven Liberal Arts and Sciences "
of the masonic ritual (Second Lecture) is very striking. With
reference to what follows (Part III.) it should be noted that
the stars of the Pleiades visible to the naked eye are seven
(5) The Mosaic Pavement.
The philosophical meaning given to the pavement is fully
expounded in the Lecture and nothing need be added.
Fellows in his "Mysteries of Freemasonry" (44) gives an
ingenious derivation of the word "mosaic" which may be of
interest in this connection. He derives the word from Moses
(Mose, Musa or Museus) an Egyptian word meaning "saved,
or disengaged from the waters," which word was used to
designate the nine months of the year during which Egypt
was freed from the inundation. The variegated appearance
of the land at the early part of this season, caused by the
fields of grain regularly intersected by the irrigation canals,
was reproduced in the temples by the tessellated pavement
and the same word was naturally used to describe it. The
author also shows that the nine Muses of Grecian mythology
were originally the public signs put up (in Egypt) on the first
day of each of these months as a kind of public calendar,
whence they derived their collective name.
(6) The Blazing Star.
A glance at the T.B. at once shows that the statement
regarding the Blazing Star in the Lecture, - that it typifies the
sun, is incorrect, for both Sun and Star are there depicted.
The star is, of course, Sothis or Sirius, the Dog-star. This
brilliant star appeared at dawn in the East at the summer
solstice in ancient Egypt, and from it the sacred year was
dated. In the Book of the Dead, Chapter 174, it is referred to
as "Sothis, the first one, the great Walker who brings Ra
through the sky"; it is variously alluded to as the abode of
Horus and of Isis, but is also personified as Thaaut or Anpu,
"The Barker," because its rising at dawn gave warning of the
imminent approach of the inundation. Hence the term "Dog-
Star" which has persisted to the present day the
anthropomorphic representation of Anpu was given the head
of a jackal, In Amenta Anpu was the guide of the souls of the
dead and presided over the weighing of the heart.
In Babylon the goddess Ishtar (the Esther of the Old
Testament) was associated with this star (45) and it was
also worshipped at its rising throughout the Aegean. (46)
The South African bushman associates the cold months of
June and July with Sirius and tries to warm it up a little by
pointing burning brands at it. (47)
We see that the deification of Sirius is not by any means
confined to Egypt, but the association of the terms "Peace"
and "Salvation" in all rituals, and "Prudence" in some, with
the masonic Star proves unmistakably that it is to Egypt that
we owe this symbol; these words could relate only to the
benefits conferred by the inundation, and to the necessity of
moving to the higher ground until it had subsided.
(7) The Point within a circle.
This as a religious symbol is found all over the world and
everywhere has the same significance, - the Creator. In
Egypt it was the heiroglyphic of Ra, - God as manifested in
the Sun, - while the circle with a single tangent means
In China this emblem has with it two snakes, one on the
North and the other on the South, corresponding to our
lines. They explain these as symbolic of the Wisdom and
Strength of the Creator, and the circle, of Eternity. The
Syrians said that the jod within a circle symbolises "the
Creator surrounded by Eternity, of which He is the Author,
the Support and the Ornament," (48) a strikingly exact
analogy to the W., S. and B.y of the Masonic P ... rs.
It has been suggested, and I think very credibly, that the
point symbolizes the Polestar, and the Circle, the stars
which revolve round it, never setting, and Renouf identifies
the Pole-star with the coffin of Osiris. If this is correct it
would support Bro. Churchward's contention that the
worship of the Pole-stars preceded that of the Sun. (49)
The reference of the parallel lines to Moses and Solomon is
obviously a modern interpolation.
IX. - THE LECTURE.
The greater part of the Lecture is merely a recapitulation of
the Ritual and most of the points requiring explanation have,
therefore, already been dealt with. There are two, however,
which occur only in the Lecture and on which a few words
(1) Q. "Whence come you?" A. "The West . . . to the East . .
. to seek a Master."
The key to this is to be found in the Egyptian Mysteries. As
already mentioned, (50) these were a dramatic
representation of the passage of the soul through Amenta.
The soul on its release passed between the pillars in the
West and entered Amenta in search of Osiris, the judge of
the Dead, who was to be found in the East; Amenta being
pictured as a sort of tunnel under the earth through which
the Sun passed during the night to reappear in the East. just
so the candidate enters the Lodge (=Amenta) by the door in
the West and proceeds to the East to be instructed by the
(2) Q. "How blows the wind in Masonry?" A. "Favourably,
due East or West."
This is explained in the Lecture as having reference to the
wind which enabled the Israelites to escape from the
Egyptians at the crossing of the Red Sea, and some Masons
have taken exception to the words "or West" on the grounds
that there is no mention of a West wind in the biblical
account of Exodus. The West wind is, however, mentioned
in this connection is Psalm LXXVII, 16, and in Josephus,
Antiquities, XVI, 3.
As usual, however, we find the true origin of this expression
in the Egyptian Mysteries. A phrase occurring in the 15th
Chapter of the Book of the Dead supplies the clue," Ra
springs forth with a fair wind." The Sun was pictured in a
boat wafted across the sky by Easterly breezes; he returned
through Amenta, moving along a river from West to East
during the night. Elaborate details were imagined regarding
this boat as it also conveyed the souls of the dead, and the
initiate in the mysteries having to enact the adventures of
such a soul, the reference to the wind in Freemasonry at
once becomes intelligible.
X. - THE OPENING OF THE LODGE. FIRST DEGREE.
(1) The Tyler.
This officer owes his title to his duty of protecting the Lodge
from intrusion. The word tyle, like tile, is derived from the
Old English word tigel, or tygel, meaning "cover," and hence
The duty of the Tyler is " to keep off all cowans and
intruders." The word cowan is cognate with the legal word
covin, "a deceitful agreement," and with the slang cove. Its
proper meaning is "imposter."
A word concerning the proper pronunciation of which there
has been a good deal of speculation, peculiar to Masonry,
may conveniently be mentioned here. It is hele. This is
derived from the Old English word helan, "to conceal" or
"cover," and preserves its original meaning. It should be
(2) The Gavel.
just as in modern times the chairman of a meeting, like the
auctioneer, is armed with a gavel as the symbol of his
authority, so in ancient times, as Bro. Churchward points
out, (51) this emblem signified power and is identical with
the stone axe of prehistoric days. As a double axe it is
world-wide as the emblem of might, and in Egyptian
hieroglyphics the single axe means "overpowering," "having
the mastery," (52) phonetically neter. As the double axe it is
found inscribed on the Cubic Stone of the Grecian temples,
and as the single instrument, on the same stones in
Druidical (? pre-Druidical) remains, as, for example, in
Devonshire, where in at least one instance it is
accompanied by pure Egyptian hieroglyphics. (63)
The gavel may similarly be double or single, and in some
lodges the single form is used by the Wardens, the double
being reserved for the W.M. as the supreme authority. The
analogy to the " hammer " of Thor, the Scandinavian deity,
should be noted.
(3) "What is the first care of every Mason?" J. W. "To see
the Lodge proberly tyled." W.M. " Direct that duty to be
Note that the W.M. does not address his order directly to the
I.G., but through the JW.. As already mentioned, (54) in the
Ancient Mysteries the Lodge was divided into three separate
rooms, as in the 18d. Each was allotted to one of the Three
Principal Officers, the prototype of the JW. being in charge
of the first, or E.A. Lodge. It is, therefore, his duty
particularly to see that the door of the lodge for which he is
responsible is "properly tyled."
(4) "Are you confident that none but Freemasons are
This question occurs in some rituals and should, of course,
be addressed to the J.W., who is responsible that none but
"genuine and true Freemasons" obtain admittance.
(5) The Three Principal Officers.
In the Hindu mysteries there are three presiding Brahmans,
the Chief Brahman stationed in the East representing
Brahma, the Creator, typified by the Rising Sun; the second
in the South as Vishnu the Preserver, typified by the
Meridian Sun, and the third in the West as Shiva, the judge
or Destroyer, the Setting Sun. . . . These are the Gods of the
Hindu Trinity, which is undoubtedly identical with that of
Ancient Egypt. The original Egyptian Trinity was Horus, Shu
and Set, but later these were replaced by Osiris, Isis and
Horus (the Younger), - Man, Woman, and Child.
Every great religion had its Trinity with one exception, Islam
being unique in being truly monotheistic, though even there
the frequent references in the Quran to the "Spirit of God"
and "The Holy Spirit" might be claimed by over-literal
theologians as evidence to the contrary.
Thus we find a Trinity in the religious cults of the following
peoples: - The Zoroastrians the ancient Arabs, the Greeks
and Latins, the Syrians, Chaldeans, Chinese, Peruvians,
Scandinavians, Phoenicians, Kalmuks, and South American
Indians. The primitive conception seems to have been the
Spirit of Life, the Maternal Productive or Preservative
Element, and the Male, Destructive or Fiery Element.
The positions of the three Principals in the East, West and
South correspond in the Solar Cult to the Sun at dawn,
sunset and the meridian respectively, i.e., a daily cycle. In
the earlier Nature cult, however, the cycle was an annual
one, and in this, I would suggest, the prototypes of the W.M.
and Wardens represented the Seasons, of which the
Egyptians, like the modern savage, recognized only three,
each corresponding to a phase of agriculture. This
hypothesis and a suggested identification of these Officers
with certain Stars will be more fully discussed later, (56) but
for the present enough has been said to show that the Three
Principal Officers represent the Trinity.
(6) Seven Officers in all.
The number seven has been peculiarly sacred from time
immemorial and all over the world peculiar virtues are
attributed to it; it was called by the Ancient Egyptians the
"Perfect or Sacred number" (cf. the T.B. ". . . seven . . .
Masons, without which number no Lodge is perfect.")
Whatever the origin of the peculiar sanctity attached to the
number seven, (57) it was later attributed to its being the
sum of 3 and 4, - three, or a triangle denoting the Trinity, or
Heaven, and four, or a square, representing the Earth. The
combination of the square and the triangle is the pyramid,
the geometrical expression of the sum of 3 and 4, heaven
and earth, and hence the Universe. The pyramid combines
in one figure the four principles of Geometry in the
philosophy of Pythagoras, - Point = 1 (i.e., the apex), Line =
2 Points (edge), Superficies = 3 Points (surface), and Solid
= 4 Points.
(7) The Duties of the Deacons.
The going to and fro implied in the words "carry all
messages . . etc." is a relic of the former division of the
Lodge into three to which reference has already been made.
(58) I think it probable that the J.D. acted as I.G. to the F.C.
Lodge presided over by the S.W., and the S.D. in a similar
capacity to the M.M.'s Lodge in charge of the W.M.. Thus
the S.D. had "to bear all messages and commands from the
W.M. to the S.W." in the chair of the F.C. Lodge, and if the
message had to be transmitted to the J.W. in the E.A.
Lodge, it was the duty of the J.D. to take it on " from the
S.W. to the J.W., and to see the same punctually obeyed."
The J.D. then returns to the F.C. Lodge with his report that
the W.M.'s orders have been carried out, and the S.D.
having had "to await the return of the J.D.," takes the
message back to the W.M..
The true meaning of the word deacon is, of course, "a
servant," and among the Greeks the term was applied to
those who served the tables, - i.e., to those whom we now
1. Frazer, Sir J. A., "Taboo, and the Perils of the Soul," pp.
167, 205sq., 225sqq.; "Balder the Beautiful," 11., 78, 81.
2. Sanderson, Meredith, "Ceremonial Purification," Man.
3. Frazer, "The Magic Art," I., 160 sq..
4. Part III., Foreword.
5. Ruth, IV., 1-17.
6. Rogers, "Social Life in Scotland," III., 232.
7. Pennant, Thos., "A Tour in Scotland," 1769, in John
Pinkerton's " Voyages and Travels," III., 325
8. "Taboo," 311 sqq..
9. Fellows, J., "Mysteries of Freemasonry," p. 147.
10. Churchward, A., "Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man,"
11. "The Magic Art," 1., 76.
12. "Balder the Beautiful," 11., 172 sqq..
13. "Signs and Symbols," p. 244.
14. Frazer, "Spirits of the Corn and the Wild," I., 203.
15. "Taboo," p. 189.
16. Op. cit., p. 142.
17. "Mysteries of Freemasonry," p. 160.
18. Supra, V., 3.
19. "Taboo," p. 161; "The Dying God," p. 219.
20. Pausanias, VIII., 34, 3.
21. Vignette to Papyrus of Ani, Brit. Mus..
22. Op. cit., Chap. 156.
23. Part II., 11., 6.
24. Deut. XVI., 22; 1 Kings, XIV., 23; 2 Kings, XVIII., 4 and
XXIII., 14; Micah, V., 13 sq..
25. Frazer, "Adonis, Attis, and Osiris," I., 264 sq,; "The
Magic Art," II., 145.
26. "Adonis, Attis, and Osiris," I., 283.
27. Ibid., I., 269.
28. "The. Dying God," p. 253.
29. Churchward, "Arcana," p. 51.
30. Bryant, "Plagues of Egypt," p. 86.
31. "Taboo," p. 90.
32. Ibid., p. 89.
33. Gerard, "The Land Beyond the Forest," 17 sq..
34. "Signs and Symbols," p. 305.
35. "Arcana," p. 43.
36. Plato, "In Timaeo,"
37. Fontenelle, "History Oracles," p. 9.
38. "Mysteries of Freemasonry," p. 237.
39. Bailey, "Ancient Astronomy."
40. Gen., XXVIII., 17.
41. "The Magic Art," II., 99.
42. Amos, V., 8 ; Rev., 16, 20.
43. Renouf, "Life Work," IV., 141.
44. Op. cit., pp. 60, 269.
45. Zimmern, Prof. H., quoted by Frazer, "The Scapegoat,"
46. "Adonis Attis and Osiris," II., 35 sqq.;
47. Bleek, "Specimens of Bushman Folklore," X 104, p. 339
48. "Mysteries of Freemasonry," p. 237.
49. "Signs and Symbols," p. 3, etc;.
50. Supra, VI, 3.
51. "Arcana," 136 sqq.
52. Renouf, "Life Work," II, 285.
53. Churchward, "Signs and Symbols," p. 30.
54. Supra, V, 1.
55. Ward, "Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods."
56. Part III, I.
57. See VIII, 4, supra.
58. Supra, V. 1 ; X, 3.