The Master Mason's Book

The Master Mason's Book
by J.S.M. Ward


THE third degree in Freemasonry is termed the Sublime Degree and the title is 
truly justified. Even in its exoteric aspect its simple, yet dramatic, power 
must leave a lasting impression on the mind of every Cand.. But its esoteric 
meaning contains some of the most profound spiritual instruction which it is 
possible to obain to-day.

Even the average man, who entered The Craft with little realisation of its real 
antiquity and with the solemnity of this, its greatest degree. In its directness 
and apparent simplicity rests its tremendous power. The exoteric and esoteric 
are interwoven in such a wonderful way that it is almost imopssible to separate 
the one from the other, and the longer it is studied the more we realise the 
profound and ancient wisdom concealed therein. Indeed, it is probable that we 
shall never master all that lies hidden in this degree till we in very truth 
pass through that reality of which it is a allegory.

The two degrees which have gone before, great and beautiful though they be are 
but the training and preparation for the message which the third degree holds in 
almost every line of the ritual. Here at length we learn the true purpose of 
Freemasonry. It is not merely a system of morality veiled in allegory and 
illustrated by symbols, but a great adventure, a search after that which was 
lost; in other words, the Mystic Quest, the craving of the Soul to comprehend 
the nature of God and to achieve union with Him.

Diffirent men vary greatly; to some the most profound teachings appeal, while to 
others simpler and more direct instruction is all they crave. But there is 
hardly a man who has not, at some time or other, amid the turmoil and 
distraction of this material world, felt a strange and unaccountable longing for 
knowledge as to why he was ever sent here, whence he came, and whither he is 
wending. At such times he feels Iike a wanderer in a strange land, who has 
almost forgotten his native country, because he left it so long ago, but yet 
vaguely realises that he is an exile, and dimly craves for some message from 
that home which he knew of yore.

This is the voice of the Divine Spark in man calling out for union with the 
Source of its being, and at such times the third degree carries with it a 
message which till then, perhaps, the brother had not realized. The true s...ts 
are lost, but we are told how and where we shall find them. The gateway of d. 
opens the way to the p. within the c., where the longing spirit will find peace 
in the arms of the Father of All.

Thus it will be seen that the third degree strikes a more solemn note thane even 
that of d. itself, and I have endeavoured in this little book to convey in 
outline form some part at least of this sublime message.

As in my previous books, I freely confess that I have not covered the whole 
ground. Not only would it be impossible to do so in a book of this size, but in 
so doing I should have defeated one of my principal objects in writing namely, 
to inspire others to study for themselves and endeavour to find in our 
ceremonies further and deeper meanings. 

The success of the earlier books shows clearly that my efforts have not been in 
vain, and that the brethren are more than anxious to fathom the inner meaning of 
the ceremonies we all love so well. This book completes the series dealing with 
the meaning of the three craft degrees, but their popularity has convinced me 
that the experiment of producing a small and inexpensive handbook has been 
completely justified. I have therefore been encouraged to write further volumes, 
and the next of the series will be an outline history of Freemasonry " from time 


The success of the fust edition of this book has necessitated a second wherein I 
have corrected a few printing errors and added a few points which may help my 
brother students.

From the number of letters I have received from all parts of the world, thanking 
me for the light these books throw on the meaning of our ceremonies, it is clear 
that the new members who are entering our Order are tending to take an 
increasing interest in the meaning of our Rites and are no longer content to 
regard the Ceremonies merely as a pastime for an idle hour. 



Introduction by The Hon. Sir John Cockburn, M.D., K.C.M.G., P.G.D.Eng., P.D.G.M. 

Chapter 1            Questions and P.W.
Chapter 2            The Opening 
Chapter 3            The Symbolical Journeys, etc.
Chapter 4            The Exhortation 
Chapter 5            The S..s 
Chapter 6            The Badge
Chapter 7            The Legend 
Chapter 8            The Tracing Board, etc. 
Chapter 9            Closing 
Chapter 10           Conclusion 

By Sir John A. Cockburn,

W.Bro. Ward has lost no time in supplying his large circle of readers with this 
little book on the 3 degree. With becoming reverence he touches on the last 
great lesson which Masonry presents to the mind of the Craftsman. Among the 
manifold blessings that Freemasonry has conferred on mankind none is greater 
than that of taking the sting from death and robbing the grave of victory. No 
man can be called Free who lives in dread of the only event that is certain in 
his life. Until emancipated from the fear of death, he is all his life long 
subject to bondage. Yet how miserably weak is this phantom king of Terrors who 
enslaves so many of the uninitiated. As Francis Bacon remarked, there is no 
passion in the mind of man that does not master the dread of death. Revenge 
triumphs over it; love slights it; honour aspireth to it; grief flieth to it. 
Death has always been regarded as the elucidation of the Great Mystery. It was 
only at the promise of dissolution that the seeker after the Elixir of Life 
exclaimed Eureka. Masonry regards death but as the gate of life, and the Master 
Mason learns to look forward with firm but humble confidence to the moment when 
he will receive his summons to ascend to the Grand Lodge above.

Brother Ward very properly attaches much significance to the Pass Word leading 
to the 2 degree and 3 degree. In the Eleusinian Mysteries an ear of corn was 
presented to the Epoptai. This, as an emblem of Ceres, represented by the S.W., 
is appropriate
to the F.C.'s, who are under the guidance of that officer, while the name of the 
first artificier in metals, which is reminiscent of Vulcan, the Celestial 
Blacksmith, seems specially befitting to the attributes of the J.W., as it was 
in the days before 1740. The author sees in the lozenge formed by two of the 
great lights a representation of the Vesica Piscis. This symbol, whose literal 
meaning is "the bladder of the fish,' is of deep significance. Some see in it 
the essential scheme of ecclesiastical architecture. But as the spiritually 
blind are unable to discern 
similitudes, so those who are gifted with deep insight are apt to over estimate 
analogies. The Vesica Piscis being, as Brother Ward rightly states, a feminine 
emblem, and therefore one sided, can hardly represent the equilibrium attained 
by the conjunction of the square and compasses. These respectively stand for the 
contrasted correlatives which pervade Creation, and, like the pillars, are 
typical when conjoined of new stability resulting from their due proportion in 
the various stages of Evolution. The progressive disclosures of the points of 
the compasses seems to indicate the ultimate realisation of the spirituality of 
matter; the at-one-ment and reconciliation at which Freemasonry and all true 
religions aim. Brother Ward repeatedly points out the similarity that exists 
between the lessons of Christianity and of Freemasonry. It is indeed difficult 
to distinguish between them, The Ancient Mysteries undoubtedly possessed in 
secret many of the truths proclaimed in the gospel. St. Augustine affirms that 
Christianity, although not previously known by that name, had always existed. 
But whereas the hope of immortality was formerly in the Mysteries confined to a 
favoured few, the new Convenant opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. 
Incidentally this little volume clears up many passages which are obscure in the 
Ritual. For example, there could be no object in directing that the F.C's, who, 
on account of their trust-worthiness, were selected by the King to search for 
the Master, should be clothed in white to prove their innocence. That was 
already beyond question. The order was evidently meant for the repentant twelve 
who took no actual part in the crime. This and similar inconsistencies in the 
Ritual may be accepted as evidence of its antiquity. Had it been a modern 
compilation such contradictions would have been studiously avoided.

It is probable that many earnest Masons may not agree with all Brother Ward's 
interpretations. Nor can such unanimity reasonably be expected. Freemasonry, as 
a gradual accretion of the Wisdom of Ages Immemorial, bears traces of many 
successive schools of thought. But all its messages are fraught with hope for 
the regeneration of humanity. The author intimated his desire in this series of 
handbooks to lead others to prosecute the study of Masonry for themselves; and 
indeed he has abundantly proved that in its unfathomable depths there are many 
gems of priceless ray serene which will well repay the search. Brother Ward is 
heartily to be congratulated on having attained the object he had in view.

John A. Cockburn.



Those of our Brethren who have read the previous two books of this series will 
not need much help in understanding the significance of the questions which are 
put to the Cand. before being raised. Practically every question has been dealt 
with in
detail in the previous books; the majority of them are taken from incidents in 
the Lectures and Tracing Board, and since the latter was explained at some 
length we shall not now detain  our readers long.

The manner of preparation for the second degree stressed the masculine side, 
which is characteristic of it. The admission on a S. indicated that the Cand. 
had profited by the moral training rcceived in the First degree, and that his 
conduct had always been on the S.. There is, however a deep esoteric meaning in 
the apparent platitude that it is the fourth part of a circle. Among all the 
ancient nations the circle is a symbol of God the Infinite, Whose name we 
discovered in the second degree in the M.Ch., where we leamt that it consisted 
of four letters. Thus the Cand. was admitted on one letter of the Mystic Name, 
and if the four Sq.s are united with the circle in a peculiar way they form the 
cosmic cross, emblem of matter, within the circle of the Infinite.

We have in the last book considered at such length what is implied by the words 
"Hidden mysteries of nature and science," that we need here only refer our 
readers to that section, wherein we saw that in former times these hidden 
mysteries undoubtedly referred to certain occult powers, which would be 
dangerous if acquired by a man who had not proved himself to be of the highest 
moral character.

The "wages" we receive consist of the power to comprehend the nature of God, Who 
resides in the M.Ch. of the Soul of every Mason. The F.C. receives his wages 
without scruple or diffidence because the Spiritual benefit he receives from 
Freemasonry is in exact proportion to his desire, and ability, to comprehend its 
inner meaning.

He cannot receive either more or less than he has earned, for if he has not 
understood the profound lesson of the Divinity within him, naturally he cannot 
benefit therefrom.

His employers are the Divine Trinity, of Whom Justice is one of the outstanding 
attributes. God could not be unjust and remain God. This conception is almost a 
platitude, but the average man, while realising that God will not withhold any 
reward earned, is at times apt to assume that because God is love He will reward 
us more than we deserve. This is clearly a mistake, for God could not be partial 
without ceasing to be God, therefore the F.C. receives exactly the Spiritual 
wages he has earned, and neither more nor less, but some F.C.'s will 
nevertheless obtain a greater reward than others, because spiritually they have 
earned it.

The significance of the names of the was explained in the last book, but 
in view of the nature of the third degree it seems advisable to point out once 
more that their secret Kabalistic meaning is (1) Being fortified by every moral 
virtue, (2) you are now properly prepared, (3) to undergo that last and greatest 
trial which fits you to become a M M.. Thus we see that even the w..ds of the 
preceding degrees lead up to this, the last and greatest.

As in the former case, the remark of the W.M. that he will put other questions 
if desired indicates the possibility of members of the Lodge asking qucstions 
based on the Lectures of the Second Degree, or even on the Tracing Board. It is, 
indeed, a pity that this right is practically never exercised. For example, a 
particularly appropriate question would be "What was the name of the man who 
cast the two great " As it is, the Cand. in a dramatic way represents 
the closing incidents in the life of this great man, whose importance till then 
he has hardly had any opportunity of realising.

Having answered these test questions, the cand. is again entrusted with a P.W., 
etc., to enable him to enter the Lodge after it has been raised to the Third 
degree during this temporary absence. We have in the previous book explained 
that the raising of a Lodge should alter the vibrations of those present by a 
process well recognised in the ceremonies of Magic, and, to enable the Cand. 
quickly to become in ttme with these higher spiritual vibrations, a word of 
"power" is given him, which in a moment places him on the same plane as the 
other members of the Lodge. This word he has to give, not only outside the 
d....r of the Lodge, but also immediately before his presentation by the S.W. as 
"Properly prepared to be raised to the Third Degree." It is only after this has 
been done that the real ceremony of the Third Degree, so far as the c. is 
concerned, begins, and therefore that the full force of the vibrations of the 
M.M.'s come into play.

The P.W. itself is of the greatest significance, more especially when combined 
with the P.W. leading from the First to the Second degree. At one time the 
P.W.'s were reversed. T.C. being the W. leading to the Second, and Sh... . the 
W. leading to the Third. This is still the case in those foreign Grand Lodges, 
such as the Dutch and the French, which derive from us before 1740, when the W.s 
were altered owing to certain un-authorised revelations. This alteration was one 
of the just grievances which brought about the secession of the so-called 
"Ancients," who charged Grand Lodge with altering the Ancient Landmarks. When 
the Irish followed our example they continued the prohibition of the 
introduction of until the Third degree, which is a logical procedure, for 
clearly you have no right to bring them into Lodge until you have been 
symbolically introduced to the first artificer in that material. As the W.s now 
stand they convey the following spiritual lesson:- the F.C. is one who finds the 
simple necessities of life, such as C. and W., sufficient for his requirements. 
They are plenty to the spiritually minded man, whose soul becomes clogged and 
hampered by the acquistion of worldly possessions and since it is hard for a 
rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, immediatdy the Cand. has symbolically 
received W.P. he is Sl....n.

T.C. conveys the lesson that W.P. in themselves bring death to the soul and 
prevent its upward progress. To-day, the river of death connected with the P.W. 
leading to the Second degree has largely lost its significance, whereas when it 
was a P.W. leading to the Third, it was in itself a fine allegory.

We must remember that Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress was well known and widely read 
at the beginning of the 18th Century, and those who were re-organising our 
rituals at that time could not have been blind to the similarity of the allegory 
hidden in the w. Sh. and the account by Bunyan of Christian's fording the river 
of death on the way to the Holy City. The change of about 1740 destroyed this 
allegory, and its survival in the Tracing Board is now merely one of those 
numerous footnotes which, to the careful student, are invaluable indications of 
the various transformations though which our ritual has passed during the course 
of years. Nevertheless, I do not regret the change, as I think the present 
spiritual lesson is even finer than the former one, but the other arrangement 
was more logical. Firstly, from the practical point of view the F.C. required 
the use of m..1 tools to perform his operative tasks, and in the process of his 
work acquired W.P., in contradiction to the E.A., who did only rough work and 
received only maintenance: i.e., corn, wine, and oil. Secondly, from the 
symbolical standpoint the sequence was also more logical, for the F.C., having 
acquired wealth by means of his skill, was brought to the river of d., and 
passed through it in the Third Degree.

According to Bro. Sanderson, in his "Examination of the Masonic Ritual," the 
actual translation of the Hebrew w. Sh. is an " e. of c., or a f. of w."- hence 
the manner in which it is depicted in a F.C.'s Lodge-while the w. T.C. in Hebrew 
means only a
blacksmith, though another w. similarly pronounced means acquisition. Hence, as 
he points out, " an allegorical title has, in translating the Old Testament, 
been mistaken for the name of an actual person, for the name itself means `A 
worker in'" Therefore the connection with H.A.B. is obvious. Bro. 
Sanderson, quoting from the "Secret Discipline," by S. L. Knapp, says, "In a 
work on ancient ecclesiastical history the following occurs, 'By a singular 
plasus linguae the moderns have substituted T.C. in the Third Degree for 
tymboxein-to be entombed.' " While I am unable to say whether Knapp is justified 
in this statement, it is quitee probable that this P.W., and indeed all the 
P.W.s are comparatively modern substitutes, taken from the Bible to replace 
ancient W.s of power whose full meaning was lost and whose form in consequence 
had become corrupt and unintelligible. The Greek word tymboxein would be 
peculiariy suitable for a P.W. leading to the Third Degree, in view of its 
meaning, and mediaeval magical ceremonies are full of corrupt Greek words 
indiscriminately mingled with equally corrupt Hebrew and Arabic. There is, 
therefore, nothing intrinsically improbable in the suggestion that this ancient 
Greek word was the original from which T.C. has been evolved. We know as a fact 
that large pieces of Biblical history were imported wholesale into our rituals 
in the 18th Century, and what is more likely than that an unintelligible work, 
already so corrupt as not even to be recognisable as Greek, should be amended 
into a well known Biblical character? However, the word as it stands, because of 
its Hebrew meaning of acquisition, can correctly be translated as W.P., while as 
meaning an artificer in M. it clearly refers to H.A.B., who made the two, and whom the Cand. is to represent. Thus, following this line of 
interpretation, we perceive that the Cand. really represents H.A.B. when he 
enters the Lodge, although under the disguised title conveyed by the P.W..

In dealing with these P.W.s I have endeavoured to show that there are meanings 
within meanings, and the same is true of practically every important incident in 
the whole ceremony. In a book of thissize it is obviously impossible to attempt 
to give all of these meanings, and even if one did the result would be to befog 
the young reader and so prevent him from getting a clear and connected 
interpretation of the ceremony. It is for this reason
that, in the main, I am concentrating on one line of interpretation, but I have 
thought it desirable in this section to give a hint to more advanced students, 
so that they can follow up similar lines of investigation for themselves.


In English and Scotch workings there is no c.t. around the Cand. in preparation 
for the Third Degree, but in the Irish working it is wound once around his n., 
in the Second degree twice, and the First three times. If we regard the c.t. as 
symbolising those things which hamper a man's spiritual progress, the gradual 
unwinding of it as used in Irish workings becomes of great significance. This 
interpretation implies that the Cand. is hampered in Body, Soul and Spirit in 
the First Degree, whereas by the time he has reached this point in the Third 
Degree the Body and Soul have triumphed over the sins which peculiarly assail 
them, and in that stage symbolised by the Degree itself the Spirit has only to 
triumph over Spiritual sins, such as Spiritual Pride. With this exception the 
manner of preparation is the same in all these British workings, and indicates 
that the Cand. is now about to consecrate both sides of his nature, active and 
passive, creative and preservative, etc., to the service of the Most High.

The explanation already given in the previous books of the various details, such 
as being s.s., holds here, and a brief glance at the other volumes will render 
it unnecessary for me to take up valuable space therewith in this third book. 
The Can. is then brought to the Lodge door and gives the Kn.s of a F.C. These 
Kn's indicate that Soul and Body are in union, but the Spirit is still out of 
contact whereas the proper Kn's of a M.M. (2/1) indicates that the Spirit 
dominates the Soul and is in union with it, the body having fallen away into 
significance. It will be remembered that in the first book of this series I 
pointed out that the three separate kn's of an E.A. symbolise that in the 
uninitiated man, Body, Soul and Spirit are all at variance. Meanwhile the Lodge 
has been raised to a Third Degree by a ceremony whose profound significance 
demands consideration in a separate chapter.



Having satisfied himself that all present are symbolically upright and moral 
men, the W.M. asks the J.W. if his spiritual nature has evolved sufficiently to 
control both soul and body. The J.W. suggests that he should be tested, not only 
by the emblem of upright conduct, but also by the Compasses. Now these combined 
with the Square form a lozenge, which is itself a symbol for the Vesica Piscis, 
emblem of the female principle. The Compasses, moreover, are the instruments 
with which geometrical figures are created, and more especially the Circle. By 
means of two circles the triangle, emblem of the triune nature of God,. is 
produced, while the Cirde itself is the emblem of Eternity and therefore of 
Spirit. A point within the cirle forms the symbol for the Hindu conception of 
the Supreme Being, Paramatma, whence we have come and whither we shall all 
ultimately return. At the centre of the circle rests all knowledge; there shall 
we find every lost secret. Now such a figure can only be drawn with the help of 
the Compasses, and in drawing it the following significant symbolical act takes 

One point of the Compass rests at the centre, and the other makes the circle of 
the Infinite. No matter how far the legs of the Compass be extended, or how 
large the Circle, the fact remains that one leg is always at the centre. Thus 
the Compasses, while they travel through infinity, are at the same time never 
separated from the centre, and from that point cannot err.

This instrument may therefore be considered as standing for the Divine Spark in 
Man, in all its manifestations. One of these is conscience; but the Divine Spark 
has many attributes and names.

So the J.W.'s reply indicates that he is prepared to be tested both by the moral 
code and by the spiritual laws of our being.

But after these preliminaries the proceedings become of an even more exalted 
nature. All that has gone before has been but preparation for the Great Quest on 
which we must now set forth. It is the quest of the Soul for realisation of God, 
and at-one-ment with Him. This is the Mystic Quest of all ages, and, true to the 
ancient symbolism, it starts from the East, the place of Light, and goes towards 
the West, the place of darkness and death.

The East represents God, Who is our home. It indicates that each soul comes out 
from the place of Light, from Light itself, that is, from the very substance of 
God, descends through the Gateway of the Dawn and becomes incarnate in Matter. 
But it brings with it a sense of loss and separation, for it has come out from 
God, and the Divine Spark within it longs return whence it came. Having lost the 
secret of its true nature and the way of return, it wanders in darkness, seeking 
and for most men the way of return is through the Western portal, the gateway of 
Death, for so long as we are finite beings we cannot hope to comprehend the 

Yet there are some few exceptions to the general rule, who, while still in the 
flesh, have a vision of the Divine splendour, are caught up in it, and became 
one with God. To such men the return to ordinary mundane existence seems unreal 
and shadowy. Where others believe in God they Know Him, but it is almost 
impossible for them to convey to others the experience through which they have 
gone. Yet that such experiences are real, as real as any other fact in life, is 
attested by a long line of witnesses right throughout the ages.

To the average man, however, the first real step towards the realisation of what 
constitutes God is through the portal of physical death; - but even then the end 
is still far off.

Hence the answer explaining how the true secrets came to be lost indicates, not 
the cause of the loss, but the first step towards the recovery, and this fact is 
borne out by the subsequent events in the ceremony itself.

Note, it is the body only that dies, and by its death enables the Soul and 
Spirit to re-discover in part the secrets which were last. Yet this death of the 
Body effectually debars the communication of these secrets to the sorrowing 
F.C.'s left behind. It is the passing through that veil which separates life and 
death which stars us on the road which ends with God.

It must never be forgotten, however, that the genuine secrets are never 
recovered in the Craft, although symbolically we rise from the grave, for that 
secret can only be discovered at or with the C.-i.e., with God. To that exalted 
position we can only attain after long journeys through the planes of existence 
beyond the grave. In our symbolism there is nothing which indicates that 
immediately after death man is fit to pass into the presence of the King of 

But the Divine Spark within us is never really separated from the Great and All-
Pervading Spirit. It is still part of it, though its glory is dimmed by the veil 
of flesh. Therefore, just as one arm of the compasses ever rests on the centre, 
no matter how far the other leg travels; so however far we may travel from God, 
and however long and hard may be the journey, the Divine Spark within us can 
never be truly separated from Him, or err from that Centre. Thus the point of 
the Compasses at the centre of the circle may be considered to be the Spirit, 
the head of the Compasses the Soul, and the point on the circumference the body.

So the task is set and the brethren go forth on the quest, that quest which must 
lead through the darkness of death, as the ceremony that follows tells in 
allegory. It is not correct to say that the search hinted at in the Opening 
ceremony is suddenly abandoned, and those who think this misinterpret the whole 
meaning of the legend. Never in earthly life shall we find the answer we seek, 
nay, even death itself will not give it; but, having passed beyond the grave, 
through the four veils of the Scottish rite, and so into the H.R.A., we find an 
excellent answer in allegorical and symbolical language, whilst the jewel of the 
degree emphasises what the end of the quest is.

Nor must it be forgotten that the body alone cannot realise the nature of God, 
and that is why without the help of the other two, H.A.B. neither could, nor 
would, disclose the S........t.

The W.M.'s promise to help indicates that the Spirit will render assistance, but 
though the Spirit subsequently raises man from the grave it is not sufficiently 
evolved to give him the true secret. This can only come about when the Spirit 
has raised the Soul to a far higher stage of spirituality.

Though this is the degree of Destruction, that form of the Trinity is not 
invoked, and the title used corresponds more closely to the Hindu name for the 
All-Embracing than to their form of the Destroyer. This no doubt is deliberate, 
for the symbol of this degree is the same emblem which among the Hindus denotes 
the Most High, namely the Circle with a Point within it.

In some Scotch rituals, after the Lodge has been opened in the first degree the 
I.P.M., or the D.C., opens the V.S.L., and, strange to say, does so with the 
words, "In the beginning was the Word." Similarly, when the Lodge is closed in 
the first degree the book is closed with the words, "And the word was with God." 
Here then we get two striking features: 1) the use of words from the first 
chapter of the Gospel according to St. John, and 2) their correlation with the 
phrase in the Third Degree, "At, or with the C." This procedure suggests that 
the lost W. is the Logos, or Christ, and remembering what we have previously 
pointed out in the earlier books, i.e., that there is a perfectly logical 
Christian interpretation of the whole of the Craft ceremonies, this fact becomes 
of increasing significance.

Before closing this chapter, I would like to add that the Third Degree lends 
itself to a Christian interpretation even more markedly than the former ones, 
and several of the higher degrees in Freemasonry adopt and expand this line of 

In view of the fact that in the Middle Ages Freemasonry was undoubtedly 
Christian, we cannot lightly reject this view of the inner meaning of the 
ceremonies, but as the frame work of our ceremonies apparently goes back before 
Christian times, a non-Christian interpretation is equally permissible.


The Can. is admitted on he C....... s, and this fact is of far greater 
significance than most brethren probably realise. Firstly, as has been noted, 
one arm of the C.s is always at the C., no matter how far the other may travel, 
and from the point of view of the Can., though he knows it not, this act in a 
sense indicates that his heart, and therefore he himself, is at or on the 
C........e. Secondly, the C....s in this degree link up with the Sq. used in the 
former degree on a similar occasion. We have seen in the previous books that the 
Sq. and C........s are united on the Ped. in such a way as to form the vesica 
piscis, the emblem of the female principle, and the symbol of birth and rebirth. 
Hence symbolically thc Can. passes through the vesica piscis. Also after 
entering the Lodge in this, as in the previous degrees, he kn....s while the 
blessing of Heaven is invoked, and as he does so the wands of the deacons are 
crossed above his head. He thus kn........s in a triangle, the emblem of Spirit, 
and itself connected with the lozenge. Two equilateral triangles make a lozenge, 
which is produced from the vesica piscis-formed by two circles, as shown by the 
first proposition in Euclid. In view of the great stress laid upon Geometry 
throughout the whole of our rituals these facts cannot be ignored. Our Operative 
Brn. must have realised that the whole science of Geometry arises out of this 
first proposition, which shows how to make a triangle (the emblem of the Trinity 
and the Spirit) by means of two circles whose circumferences pass through the 
centre of each other. In doing so they form the vesica piscis, which gives birth 
first of all to the triangle, and secondly, to the double triangle, in the form 
of a lozenge. This last emblem is symbolised by the sq., denoting matter, and 
the c...s, denoting spirit. The above facts throw a flood of light upon the 
interplay between these Masonic emblems.

Before leaving this subject it is worth while pointing out that the Can. 
likewise takes every Ob. in Craft masonry within this triangle, and that the 
same method is employed in other ancient rites, including those of the Society 
of Heaven and Earth in China, where the Can. kn...s on one sword, while two 
others are held over his head so as to form a triangle of steel.

The Can. now starts on his three symbolical journeys. He first satisfies the 
J.W., representing the Body, that he is an E.A., i.e., a man of good moral 
character. He next satisfies the S.W., representing the Soul, that he has 
benefited by the lessons of life and acquired intellectual knowledge. Then comes 
the third journey, when he is once more challenged by the Soul, who demands the 
P.W., the full significance of which has already been explained. Let us combine 
these meanings! He comes laden with worldly possessions, which in themselves 
carry the seeds of death, unconsciously representing in his person the worker in 
metals who made the twin colunms, and is about to be entombed. (tymboxein).

Therefore the Soul presents him to the Spirit as one properly prepared to carry 
out the part of his great predecessor. There is a point here which we need to 
realise, for it is one which is often overlooked. In the previous degrees only 
one Deacon was instructed to lead the Can. by the proper to the E., but 
here both are needed. From the practical point of view there is no obvious 
reason why the help of the J.D. should be invoked at all, and as the ceremony is 
usually carried out he does nothing but look on. I believe, however, the S.D. 
should first go through the and the J.D., should assist the Can. to copy 
his example. If thus were so we should get an almost exact repetition of the 
analogous ceremony in the R.A. where the p.s., corresponding to the S.D., is 
helped by an assistant. Thus, with the Can., in both cases we get a Trinity, 
only one of whom actually descends into the g., or, in the other case, into the 
As Major Sanderson has pointed out in An Examination of the Masonic Ritual, 
among the primitive, races usually, a man who stepped over an o.g. would be 
considered to have committed sacrilege, and almost certainly would be slain, 
but, on the other hand, we do know that in many Initiatory Rites either the 
Can., or someone else for him, steps down into a gr., and is subsequently 
symbolically sl...n therein. If this be the true interpretation of this part of 
the ceremony, the reason for the presence of the two deacons in addition to the 
Can. becomes clear. It is only the Body that descends into the clear the Soul 
and the Spirit have no part therein. Thus, for the moment, though only 
temporarily, these three represene the triune nature of man, while the three 
principal officers represent the triune nature of God. The fact that this is 
undoubtedly true in the case of the R.A., makes it almost certain that the same 
idea underlies this apparently unimportant diffirence between the arrangements 
in the third degree, and those followed in the first and second.

Again and again when one comes to study carefully the details of our ritual, one 
finds little points, such as these, which would certainly not have survived the 
drastic revision of 1816 if there had not been present some men who really did 
understand the inner meaning of our ceremonies, and refused to allow important 
lessons to be lost by the removal of what, at first sight, appear to be 
unnecessary details. 

Therefore, those of us who value the inner meaning of our ceremonies owe a deep 
debt of gratitude to these men, even though their actual names be unknown to us, 
and on our part a duty is imposed on us that we shall not hastily tamper with 
the rituals, merely because we do not ourselves see the full significance of a 
phrase or think that by revising it we can make the wording run more smoothly.

The next factor we must consider most carefuUy is the actual sp...s themselves. 
These make the Latin cross of suffuring and sacrifice.

Sometimes the sp..s are not done quite correctly, for the Can. should be careful 
to face due North, due South, and due East respectively. This procedure 
undoubtedly refers to the three entrances of the Temple through which H.A.B. 
endeavoured to escape. Hence it is we see that the Master himself trod out the 
cross of Calvary during the tragedy, and in a sense made the Consecration Cross 
of the Temple.

In a mediaeval church, and even to-day at the consecration of a church according 
to the Anglican ordinance, there should be a dedication cross marked on the 
building. In the Middle Ages these were usually marked on the pillars, and 
apparently corresponded to the mark made by an illiterate person when witnessing 
a deed. The Consecrating Bishop sometimes drew this cross on the pillar or wall, 
or sometimes merely traced over a cross already painted there for the purpose. 
Any new piece of work in a church, even if only a new fresco, had its dedication 
cross. For example :-At Chaldon Church, Surrey, the dedication cross is marked 
on the margin of a fresco depicting The Brig of Dread, described at length in 
Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods.

Bearing these facts in mind, we shall perceive that, even from the Operative 
point of view, the manner of advancing in this degree, and the manner in which 
H.A.B. met his end, had a peculiar significance. The Great Architect of the 
Temple must have traced the dedication cross the whole length and breadth of the 
Temple in his own blood. Moreover, such dedication crosses as have actually 
survived are nearly always found to be painted in red. Thus, H.A.B.'s last work 
was, as it were, to commence the consecration of the Temple which was completed 
by K.S., for until that cross had been marked either on the wail or pavement, 
according to mediaeval Operative ideas the building could not be consecrated. 
Therefore, the Can., who is reenacting the same drama, must obviously do 
likewise, and in so doing dedicates the Temple of his body.

But there is still more hidden within this ceremonial act. The ancient Knights 
Templar were accused of trampling on the cr., and a careful examination of the 
evidence taken at the trial shows that in reality they took a ritual sp., 
somewhat similar to those taken by the Can. in this degree.

One of the esoteric meanings indicated is the Way of the Cross which leads to 
Calvary. Furhermore, having thus traced out a cr. he is subsequendy laid on it, 
and this fact is emphasised by the position in which his legs or feet are 
placed. The foot of this cr. reaches to the Ped., on which rests the O.T. If, 
therefore, this symbolical cr. were raised as it was on Calvary it would rest on 
the O.T., and the Can. would face the E., and would be, as it were, on a 
mountain. This fact should be borne in mind by those who seek a Christian 
interpretation of our Craft ceremonies. Mystically interpreted, it indicates 
that every aspirant for union with the Divine must tread the Way of the Cross, 
and suffer and die thereon, in order that he may rise to a new life, a 
realisation of his union with the Infinite.

Even those who are disinclined to admit the possibility of a Christian 
interpretatior, of the Craft degrees, must recognise the fact that this cr. is 
the cr. of sacrifice and means that the true aspirant must be prepared to 
sacrifice everything in his search after Truth.

The number of the sp...s is the combination of the Trinity and of the four 
elements, representing matter. It is the same number as forms the perfect lodge, 
and also the seven elements which form man, whether we interpret it according to 
the ancient Egyptian system, or in the more modern form of the five physical 
senses, the Soul and the Spirit. In the latter case it indicates that the man 
must be prepared to sacrifice, or shall we say dedicate to God, Body, Soul and 

There are yet other profound meanings in this one ritual act, but enough has 
been written to set my readers pondering for themselves, and we will therefore 
proceed to consider the next point in the ceremony.

The Ob. itself contains one or two interesting points. Thus it indicates that a 
M.M.'s Lodge must always be open on the C.. This shows us at once that we are 
dealing with a ceremony with a mystical meaning, for the C. means the same as 
the middle ch. in the second degree-the secret chamber of the heart, where 
dwells the Divine Spark-and so tells us in veiled language that all that happens 
thereafter is a spiritual experience, which sooner or later comes to every 
mystic. The special moral obligations which the Can. undertakes should be noted, 
but require no explanation. It is, however, difficult to understand why they 
should be deferred until this stage. In the ancient charges similar obligations 
are imposed apparently on the E.A., and this seems more logical.

The Py. varies even in different parts of England, but in essentials is always 
the same. You are s. at the c., and the manner of disposal is very reminiscent 
of the way in which the dead are cremated in India in honour of Shiva. There the 
corpse is burnt near running water, preferably near the Ganges, and the ashes 
are thrown into the air over the river to the four cardinal points, that the 
winds may scatter them. It must be remembered that Shiva represents the 
destructive attribute of the Diety and he makes the P.S. of a M.M. on his 
statues. His is the element of fire, and all these facts must be born in mind 
when considering our own Py.

The position of the Sq. and Cs., in addition to the explanation given, indicates 
that the spirit, represented by the Cs., now dominates the body, typified by the 



The opening part of the exhortation gives a convenient summary of the previous 
degress and quite clearly indicates that the first  inner meaning of the series 
is Birth, Life which is of course educational and preparatory for its sequel, 
and Death. The phrase relating to the second degree "And to trace it, from its 
devlopment through the paths of Heavenly Science even to the throne of God 
Himself," shows plainly its real significance. As pointed out in the F.C. 
Handbook, in the Mid. Ch. the F.C. discovers not only the name of God, but that 
he himself is the fifth letter Shin which transforms the name Jehovah into the 
name Jeheshue, or Messias, the King.

But according to the old Kabala Jeheshue must be raised on the cross of 
Tipareth, and the significance of this fact is impressed on our Can. by the 
incidents now to take place. The average Christian need not trouble about the 
subtleties of the Kabala, for the story in the New Testament supplies him with a 
very similar interpretation.

The W.M. having, almost casually, given him this key to the inner meaning of 
what is about to follow, proceeds at once to the most dramatic part of the 
ceremony. Up to this point almost all forms of our ritual are practically the 
same, but henceforward there are many marked differences. "Emulation" ritual may 
be regarded as containing the bare minimum, but the additional details found in 
many Provincial workings in England, and in Scotland, Ireland, America, and many 
of the Continental Lodges, are too important to be ignored. There is no reason 
to assume that they are innovations; on the contrary all the evidence points to 
the fact that they are integral parts of the ceremony which, for various 
reasons, were omitted by the revisers of our ritual who met in the Lodge of 
Reconciliation. I shall therefore proceed to note and explain them where 

Whereas in Emulation working as soon as the Ws. are called on the deacons 
retire, in most others, in the Provinces, etc., they fall back to the head of 
the g.. Thus with the W.M. the W.s form the triangle of Spirit, and with the D.s 
the Sq. of matter, on which the triangle rests, for the M. descends from his 
chair and stands in front of the Ped.. As a practical piece of advice I would 
recommend that the J.W. should not direct the Can. to c. his f. until after the 
S.W. has dealt with him, for it is impossible for him to drop on his respective 
k...s if his f. are c., whereas by carrying out these instructions before the 
last attack he will fall the more readily.

In most of the old Scotch rituals the Can. journeys round the Lodge, is attacked 
by the J.W. in the S., by the S.W. in the W. (note that), and returns to the M. 
in the E., where the final incident takes place. I think, however, our English 
system of having the attack in the N. instead of in the W. is preferable, and is 
probably the correct form. In the Scotch ritual the three villains have names, 
and the same is the case in America. They are Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. The 
word itself clearly comes from the Latin word meaning "To command," and refers 
to the fact that they commanded him to give up the S....s. But the terminations 
of the three names appear to have a curious esoteric reference to India. It can 
hardly be by accident that these three names form the mystic word AUM. The U in 
India in this case is pronounced almost like O, and when this word is disguised, 
as it usually is, it is written OMN. If this be so we have the Creative 
Preservative, and Annihilative aspects of the Deity emphasised in the Third 
Degree, and it is the Destructive aspect, symbolised by the letter M, which 
deals the final stroke.

This variation is therefore of importance, but I must warn my readers that not 
all Scotch workings have it, some of them being much more akin to our own, even 
having the attack in the N.. Practically all of them, however, have the 
perambulations, during which solemn music is played. The usual procedure is for 
the brethren to pass round the gr. once making the P. S. of an E.A.. When this 
is done the J.W. makes his abortive attempt. The second round is made with the 
H. S. of an F.C., after which the S.W. tries and fails. The third round is made 
with the S. of G. and D. of a M.M., on the conclusion of which the Can. is r...  
by the lion's g....  It is a great pity that the use of this name for the M. 
M.'s g. is falling into disuse in London, for it has in itself important 
symbolical references, to which we shall refer later in the chapter.

In many parts of England it is still customary to place the Can., either in a c-
---n or in a g. made in the floor, and the same method is found in most other 
parts of tke world. Indeed, in the Dutch ritual the Can. is first of all shown a 
c..n in which is a human skeleton. This is subsequently removed, though he does 
not know it and he thinks when he is laid therein he will find himself in its 
bony clutches. Even as near London as Windsor there is a Masonic Temple which 
has a special chamber of d. with a g. actually in the floor and until recently 
it was still used although whether it is to-day I cannot say.

Let us now turn to consider the meanings of the main incidents. The first 
meaning of the degree is obvious; it prepares a man for his final end and hints 
of a possibility of life beyond the grave but it must be admitted that the 
lesson is not driven home with the same force as it is in most of the ancient 
mysteries. Osiris Himself rose from the dead and became the Judge of all who 
followed after Him, and because of this fact His worshippers believed that they 
too would rise. In our legend, however, it is only the dead body of H.A.B. which 
is lifted out ofthe g. in a peculiar manner, and in the legend there is not even 
a hint as to what befell his Soul. The question is often asked why they should 
have raised a c..s and placed it on its feet. (1)

(1) See Ward, Who Was Hiram Abiff?

One explanation probably is, by analogy with the Greek story of the manner in 
which Hercules recovered Alcestis and ransomed her from the bondage of Thanatos-
Death himself. We are told that Hercules wrestled with Thanatos and would nor 
let him go until he had agreed to allow Hercules to bring her back from the 
realm of the Shades to the land of living men. It may be that the corpse here 
represents Death. It is also worth noting that Isis joined together the 
fragments of the body of Osiris, and the "Setting up" of the backbone of the God 
was a ceremony carried out every year by the ancient Egyptian Priests. The body 
of Osiris apparently was raised from the bier by Anubis in precisely the same 
way as the M.M. is r.. When it was set on its feet life returned to it. One fact 
is certain, that in every Rite which has as its central theme symbolic d. the 
Can. is r. by the same g., and in precisely the same manner, and this manner 
becomes a method of greeting and of recognition among all who have passed 
through this type of ceremony. For example :-it is known and used in the Dervish 
Rite, among West African Negroes, among the Red Indians of Central America, and 
was apparently known to the ancient Druids, for it is carved on a stone found at 
Iona. In the ancient rites of Mithra it also appears to have been the method 
used upon a similar occasion. These facts show that it is an ancient landmark 
and one to be most carefully guarded.

The use of the phrase The Lion Grip is peculiarly significant, as Major 
Sanderson shows in his work, An Examination of the Masonic Ritual. Therein he 
points out that in the Book of the Dead the Supreme God, whether Ra or Osiris, 
is appealed to as the " God in the Lion form," and in all such cases the prayer 
of the Soul is that he may be permitted to " Come forth " in the East, rising 
with the sun from the d..s of the g.. In Egypt the lion was the `personification 
of strength and power, but it is usually associated with the idea of the 
regeneration of the Sun, and therefore with the resurrection. Major Anderson 
goes on to point out as follows. "Shu (Anheru, `the Lifter') who as the light of 
the Dawn was said to lift up the sky-goddess from the arms of the sleeping 
Earth, is often represented as a lion, for only through him was the rebirth of 
the Sun made possible. Osiris is called the lion of yesterday, and Ra the Lion 
of tomorrow : the bier of Osiris is always represented as having the head and 
legs of a lion." Thus as Major Sanderson indicates, the expression "the lion 
grip" is a survival from, the Solar cult, and therefore a landmark which should 
be carefully preserved.

The Bright Morning Star whose rising brings peace and Salvation, almost 
certainly was originally Sirius, but to Englishmen it must seem strange that 
Sirius should be said to bring peace and Salvation. The association of these 
ideas with the Dog Star is undoubtedly a fragment which has come down from 
Ancient Egypt, for the rising of Sirius marked the beginning of the inundation 
of the Nite, which literally brought salvation to the people of Egypt by 
irrigating the land and enabling it to produce food. That Sirius was an object 
of veneration to the philosophers of the ancient world is well known to all 
archaeologists, and many of the Temples in Egypt have been proved to have been 
oriented on Sirius. There is also a good deal of evidence showing that some of 
the stone circles in Great Britain were similarly oriented on Sirius by the 
Druids. It is therefore not surprising that this star is still remembered in our 
rituals. Naturally it has acquired a deeper spiritual meaning in the course of 
years, and may be regarded as representing the First Fruits of the Resurrection, 
the sure hope of our Redemption. This aspect is set forth in the lectures drawn 
up by Dunckerley, who regarded it as the star of Bethlehem, and as typifying 
Christ. See Rev. xxii, 16.

At this point the Can.. who has been carefully put in the N., the place of 
darkness, is moved round by the right to the South. From the practical point of 
view this is to enable the M. to re-enter his chair from the proper side, but 
there is also an inner meaning. Immediately after death the Soul is said to find 
itself on the earth plane amid murk and darkness. Lacking mortal eyes, it cannot 
perceive the sun, and, on the other hand, is still so immersed in matter that it 
cannot yet see clearly with its spirit eyes; but this stage rapidly passes away, 
and the Soul is received into a higher plane of existence, being brought thither 
by messengers of Light. The position in the North represents this period of 
darkness on the earth plane, and that this is not accidental is shown by the 
fact that in most rituals the lights are not turned up until the phrase "That 
bright morning star, etc." has been uttered. Then the M., representing one of 
these spirit messengers, leads the Can. gently round to the South, thereby 
symboling his entry into the place of light. And who is this messenger? Every 
installed master who has received the P.W. leading to the Chair should realise 
that, no matter how unworthy, he represents the risen Christ. Thus we see the 
peculiarly appropriate nature of the act coming after the reference to the 
bright morning star, which also in another sense represents the risen Christ.



Having thus been brought into the place of light the Can. is given not the Gen. 
Ss, but only substitued ones. This fact must often have puzzled the Can.. The 
pratical reason given in the ritual, though perfecdy inteligible to a R.A. 
mason, cannot be the real one. In view of the unexpected calamity no-one could 
have thought K.S. was breaking his ob. by nominating a successor to H.A.B. and 
giving him the full ss..ts. Actually according to the R.A. story he did 
something much worse, for he wrote them down and placed them somewhere, in the 
hopes that they would be subsequently rediscovered, and he had no assurance that 
their discoverers would even be masons, much less that they would keep their 
discovery secret. Of course this is also an allegory, and from this stand-point 
perfectly correct. The lost s...ts are the nature and attributes of God, which 
must be realised by each man for himself, and no other man can really 
communicate them. Moreover, this complete realisation of the nature of God, and 
the union of the Divine Spark within us with the Source of All, can never be 
achieved during mortal life. Even after death we shall need to leave the world 
long behind and travel far, before we can hope to attain that state of spiritual 
evolution which will enable us to approach the Holy of Holies, and gaze with 
unveiled eyes upon Him, Who is the beginning and the end of all.

With regard to these substituted s..ts. let us note that they grow out of those 
used by the F.C.. Having already shown in the last book that the sn.s of the 
F.C., and in fact the real s..t of that degree, is the transformation of Jehovah 
into Jeheshue,

we see that this is most appropriate. To use modern language, the second degree 
teaches of the birth of the Christ Spirit within us, while the third indicates 
that mystically we, like the great Master, must die and rise again. As St. Paul 
says, " Die daily in Christ."

The sn.s given are probably all of great antiquity. Of some we have evidence 
which shows that they were venerated in ancient Egypt and Mexico, are still 
employed in the primitive Initiatory Rites of the savages, and are associated 
with the Gods in India. For example, the P.S. is used by Shiva, the Great 
Destroyer, Who when He makes it, holds in His hand the lariet of death. The sn. 
of G. and D. is found all round the world, as I have shown in full detail in 
Sign Language of the Ancient Mysteries. Ancient Mexico, where Quetzacoatl makes 
it, can be matched with Easter Island in the far Pacific, Peru, West Africa, 
East Africa, New Guinea, Malaya and many other places.

Major Sanderson points out that the second Cas. Sn. is depicted in Egyptian 
pictures as being used by those who are saluting Osiris in his coffin. Those who 
desire will find it in Papyrus 9,908 in the British Museum.

The English sn. of g. and d. (for up till now we have been speaking of the 
Scotch form) is almost certainly not the correct one. Its general appearance 
would incline one to believe that it is a penal sn., though whence derived it is 
difficult to say. A little thought will indicate the nature of the penalty as 
being somewhat similar to that of one of the higher degrees. So far as I can 
find it is not recognised as a sn. of g. and d. to-day, except among masons who 
are descended masonically from the Grand Lodge of England, but in a picture by 
Guercino of Christ cleansing the Temple, in the Palazzo Rosso, Crenoa, both this 
and the Scotch form are shown, while the G. of H. constantly appears in 
mediaeval paintings, e.g., in the Raising of Lazarus. (1)

The so-called Continental form undoubtedly comes from a well known high degree, 
where it is much more appropriate: it is apparently restricted to the Latin 
countries, whereas even in Germany it is the Scotch form that is employed.

The sn. of Exul. is a form used to this day in of Asia to indicate worship, and 
was similarly employed in Ancient Egypt. Major Sanderson suggests that it was 
copied from the position in which Shu upheld the sky.

Thus we see that six out of the so-called seven sn.s can be shown to be of 
ancient origin, and it is quite probable that further research will enable us to 
prove that the other one is equally old. Such sn.s as these originally had a 
magical significance, and the explanation given in the ritual as to their

(1) see The Sign Language of the Mysteries by Ward.

origin is no doubt of a much later date than the sn.s themselves. Indeed, a 
careful study of certain of the sn.s will show that they are not the natural 
sn.s which would have been used to indicate the feeling they are said to 
express. For example, in the sn. of h...r the left hand would not naturally be 
placed in the position in which we are taught to put it, if this sn. had 
originated as related in. the story. So obvious is this that some modern 
preceptors of Lodges of Instruction have to my knowledge altered the position of 
the left hand in order to make it conform to the story, but I venture to think 
that in so doing they are committing a very serious mistake, nothing less than 
the removal of an ancient landnrark.

Some day we shall probably discover the real origin of this sn., but if it is 
altered that will of course become impossible. 

The lion's grip and the actual position of r..s...g are equally old, and, so far 
as we can find, this manner of r..s...g is employed in every rite, whether 
ancient or primitive, which deals with the dramatic representation of d.. As a 
manner of greeting it is employed by the initiated men in many Red Indian 
Trihes, in West Africa, among the Senussi in North Africa, and in the Dervish 
Rites. (1)

The parts of the b. brought in contact with each other are all parts presided 
over by some sign of the Zodiac, and there would appear to be some old 
astrological meaning which has now become lost. It may possibly have been 
connected with Gemini, the Twins, and this fact is made the more probable by the 
survival of the name "The Ln's Gr." The explanation given, although possibly of 
a fairly recent origin, nevertheless contains a valuable inner meaning, for it 
shows that we cannot hope to advance towards God unless we do our duty to our 
fellow men. Thus in dramatic form is shown that the brotherhood of man 
necessitates the Fatherhood of God.

It hardly seems necessary in this book to point out again that the regular st. 
forms a tau cross and teaches us that we must trample under foot our animal 
passions, if we desire to approach near to God. We note, however, that the Can., 
in advancing to obtain the s..ts, has perforce to make three tau crosses, and 
the Christian Mystic will

(1) For further explanation see Ward, Who Was Hiram Abiff?

doubtless perceive in this a hidden reference to the three crosses on Calvary.

Finally, as has already been pointed out, the penalties of the first and second 
degrees draw attention to two important occult centres, and so also in this 
degree the Solar Plexus, the most important occult centre of all, is indicated, 
and since the object of every Mystic is to achieve the Beatific vision, the fact 
that the monks of Mt. Athos, near Salonica, do so by fixing their eye on this 
part, shows that there is a very special reason for the special form of the p.s 
of the third degree.



On his re-entering the Lodge the Can. is presented, and in due course invested 
by the S.W., as in the previous degrees, thereby indicating that even after 
death man's spiritual advancement is registered by the Soul. The Badge itself, 
however, is full of symbolic meaning, and though in its present form it is of 
comparatively recent date, it is evident that those who designed it had a much 
deeper knowledge of symbolism than some modern critits are apt to believe.

Firstly, the colour, which is that of Cambridge University, and likewise that 
used by Parliament when fighting King Charles, has a much deeper significance 
than is generally known. It is closely related to the colour of the Virgin Mary, 
which itself had been brought forward from Isis and the other Mother Goddesses 
of the ancient world. It is possible that the designers were also influenced by 
the existence of certain Orders of Knighthood which had their appropriate 
colours, for the aprons of Grand Lodge Officers have Garter blue, but this blue 
is also the colour of Oxford, and the colour associated with the Royalist cause 
at the time of the Civil War. At any rate, it is appropriate that our aprons 
should thus employ the colours of the two great Universities of England. There 
is, of course, an exception in the case of the red aprons allocated to Grand 
Stewarts, for which there are historical reasons into which we need not now 
enter. We may, however point out that the dark blue aprons of Grand Lodge are 
often, though erroneously, spoken of as the Purple, indicating a Royal colour, 
and thereby implying no doubt that Brn. entitled to wear this colour are rulers 
in the Craft, and represent the masculine element. Light blue, on the other 
hand, represents the feminine or passive aspect, and is most appropriate for the 
ordinary M.M., whose duty it is to obey, and not to command. Indeed, the M.M.'s 
apron contain: other emblems which indicate this feminine aspect. These are the 
three rosettes, which symbolise the rose, itself a substitute for the Vesica 
Piscis, and they are arranged so as to form a triangle with the point upwards, 
interpenetrating the triangle formed by the flap of the apron. The two triangles 
only interpenetrate half way, therein differing from the double triangles seen 
on the jewels worn by R. A. Masons, which completely overlap. These two 
triangles deserve a little careful study. The lower triangle with its point 
upwards is the triangle of fire, the emblem of Shiva, and the symbol of the 
Divine Spark. The triangle made by the flap of the apron, which has its point 
directed downwards, is the triangle of water, and is thus to some extent 
representative of the Soul. These two triangles are within a sq., the emblem of 
matter, and therefore of the body, and so we see that the M.M.'s apron 
symbolically represents the triune nature of man, whereas the R.A. jewel, (the 
only high degree jewel which may be worn in a Craft Lodge) has these two 
triangles within a circle, which is the emblem of the Infinite. In this case the 
triangle of water presents the preservative aspect, the triangle of fire, the 
destructive aspect, the point or eye at the centre, the creative aspect, and the 
circle, the everlasting nature of the Supreme Being. There is therefore a 
curious correspondence, and also a marked difference, between the jewel of the 
R.A. Mason, and the apron of the M.M..

Viewed from another standpoint the apron has another set of meanings. The 
triangle represents Spirit, and the Sq., matter. The flap forms a triangle 
entering into the sq., and so depicts the entry of Spirit into matter, and 
therefore, man. The E.A.'s apron should have the flap pointing upward, 
indicating that the Divine Wisdom has not yet truly penetrated the gross matter 
of our bodies. This custom is unfortunately going out of use in modern Masonry, 
which is a great pity, as undoubtedly a valuable lesson is thus lost. The F.C. 
has the flap pointing downward for several reasons. Firstly, to indicate that 
wisdom has begun to enter and therefore to control matter; secondly, to 
represent the triangle of water and thus indicate that Soul and Body are acting 
in unison; thirdly, because this triangle is the emblem of Vishnu the Preserver, 
and so emphasises - the fact that the aspect of God taught in this degree is the 
preservative aspect, whereas the addition of the three rosettes in the third 
degree shows, not only the union of Body, Soul and Spirit, but also that the 
great lesson of this degree is the importance of the Destructive side of the 
Diety, or as we may prefer to tall it, the Transformative side.

What, however, of the two rosettes worn by the F.C.? Firstly, they stress the 
dual nature of man, and have a very clear reference to the two 
Similarly, no doubt, they indicate that the F.C. is not yet a complete and 
united being ; Body and Soul are in union, but unlike the M.M., these two are 
not in complete accord with the Spirit. Thus we obtain a correspondence between 
the knocks of the F.C. and the two rosettes. Furthermore, the triangle is 
incomplete, showring that the F.C. is not yet a complete F.M., and this 
correlates with the position of the C.s when taking the ob. in the F. C. degree.

Two other features of the apron must also be considered. Firstly, the tassels, 
which appear originally to have been the ends of the string with which the apron 
was bound round the waist. There is little doubt that in the 18th century the 
aprons had not the present symbolic tassels, but were fastened round the body in 
a very similar way to that in which the E.A. and F.C. aprons are to this day. It 
is interesting to note in this connection that the actual aprons worn by the 
officers of Grand Lodge for the year, as distinct from the Past Grand Officers' 
aprons, have no tassels at all.

In the course of years, no doubt, the ends of the strings were ornamented by 
tassels, and to this day the aprons of the Royal Order of Scotland are bounmd 
round the body by an ornamental cord with tassels, which are tied in front in 
such a way that the two tassels stick out from underneath the flap. These 
tassels, when the final form of our aprons was fixed, were separated from the 
bands which fasten the apron, and attached to the apron itself, becoming as we 
now see simply strips of ribbon on which are fastened seven chains. When this 
change took place it is clear that those who made the alteration deliberately 
chose the number 7, and intended thereby to convey a symbolic meaning. We have 
already explained the numerous symbolic meanings of the number 7; for example, 
it represents God and Man, Spirit and Matter, etc.

Naturally they had to have two tassels to balance, and it would have been very 
inartistic to have had four chains on one tassel and three on the other, and so 
it would be unwise to lay too much stress on the number 14, which is the sum 
total. We may regard it merely as a curious and interesting coincidence that the 
body of Osiris was stated to have been divided by Set into 14 pieces. But in 
addition to these details as to the historical development of the tassels, we 
must not forget that in many of the 18th century aprons the two are 
depicted. These aprons were usually decorated by paintings on the leather, and 
varied considerably from Lodge to Lodge, but one of the most usual kinds of 
decoration included the two, and the remembrance of these may very 
probably have influenced those who designed our present apron.

The modern arrangement by which the apron is fastened, namely, a piece of 
webbing with a hook and eye attachment, gave a fine opportunity for some really 
profound symbolism, and I feel certain that it was not an accident which led to 
the universal adoption of the snake to serve this purpose.

There are two kinds of symbolism attached to the snake in all ancient religions. 
Firstly, the snake as the enemy of man, and therefore as the representative of 
the powers of evil; and secondly the snake as emblem of the Divine Wisdom. " Be 
ye wise as serpents" does not refer to the craftiness of the Devil, but to the 
Divine Wisdom itself.

In Ancient Egypt the Soul as he passed through the Underworld met with serpents 
of evil, and also with serpents of good. In India, legend tells us of a whole 
order of beings, the Serpent Folk, who are of a Spiritual nature different from 
man, possessed their own rulers, and were endowed with superhuman wisdom. Some 
of these are considered to be friendly to man, while others are hostile. The 
Sacred Cobra is well known to every student of Hindu religions, and is 
essentially good. Actual worship is paid to the Serpent throughout the whole of 
India, and in many other parts of the world, and in the Kapala we get clear 
traces of the fact that under certain circumstances the serpent is regarded as 
"The Shining One" -the Holy Wisdom Itself. Thus we see that the serpent on our 
apron denotes that we are encircled by the Holy Wisdom.

Finally, the serpent biting its tail, and thus forming a circle, has always been 
regarded as the emblem of eternity, and more especially of the Eternal Wisdom of 
God. Nor must we forget that the snake is peculiarly associated with Shiva, 
whose close symbolic association with the third degree has already been clearly 

Much more might be written on the meaning of the apron, but we cannot devote any 
more space to this subject, interesting though it may be, although before 
considering our next point it will perhaps be well to recall what has already 
been mentioned in the E.A. handbook, viz., that aprons, in addition to their 
Operative significance, have right through the ages been employed in connection 
with religious ceremonial. On the monuments of Egypt a garment, which can best 
be described as a triangular apron with the point upward, is depicted in 
circumstances indicating that the wearer is taking part in some kind of ceremony 
of initiation. In ancient Mexico the Gods are depicted wearing aprons, and it is 
not without interest to note that the modern Anglican bishop wears an apron, 
although it appears to have developed from a long flowing robe somewhat the 
shape of a cassock.



After the ceremonial investiture of the Cand. the W.M. continues the narrative 
of the traditional history. At least this is the case in most English workings, 
but in some Scotch workings the whole story is told first, and subsequently the 
Cand. and the other Brn. act the chief parts. Perhaps one of the most important 
points to realise is the correct meaning of the name H.A.B. . Major Sanderson in 
An Examination of the Masonic Ritual gives the following interesting 
interpretations, which we will proceed to expand further.-" The title H.A.B. is 
taken direct from the Hebrew of 2 Chron., Chapter 4, verse 16., and means, ` H. 
His father.' H. means 'Exaltation of light, their liberty or whiteness, he that 
destroys'; It is of interest to note that abib in Hebrew means `Ears of corn,' 
or `Green fruits,' and there is just a possibility that this is the correct 
title of H."

Bearing these translations in mind we at once perceive a whole series of inner 
meanings hidden in the name of the principal Architect. Taking the Christian 
interpretation of our rituals :-firstly, we shall remember that Christ said " If 
I am raised up (or exalted) I shall draw all men unto me." Secondly, Christ died 
to make us free, that is, to give us liberty from the bonds of death and hell. 
Thirdly, mediaeval divines were never tired of referring to Christ's whiteness 
and purity, and relate many beautiful legends and allegories to drive home this 
lesson. One phrase alone will suffice to bring this aspect of the Christ to our 
minds, i.e., that He is constantly spoken of as " the lily of the valley." 
Fourthly, He came to destroy the bonds of death and hell, nor must we forget the 
old prophecy spoken concerning the coming Christ and the serpent, representing 
Satan, " It (Christ) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel," 
Gen. 3. v. 15. It is of interest to note that Quetzacoatl, the Mexican 
Preserver, who fought and overthrew the great giant of evil, was himself smitten 
in the foot, near to a fall of water, subsequently died from the wound, and 
ultimately rose again from the grave. In India Krishna similarly died from an 
arrow wound in the heel. Moreover, in mediaeval frescoes Christ is constantly 
represented as crushing the head of the great dragon under His left foot, while 
in His right hand He upraises a staff on which is a cross. Such scenes are 
usually described as " The Harrowing of Hell."

Fifthly, if the word abib is the correct rendering for the second half of the 
name in question, we get a clear reference to the Sacramental bread. The ears of 
corn are obviously synonymous with the wafer or consecrated bread, which in 
mediaeval days alone was given to the laity: while the alternative translation, 
"Green Fruits," brings to our mind the Biblical saying that Christ is "the first 
fruits of them that slept" (1 Corin, 15. 20). Bearing this possible Christian 
interpretation in mind, installed masters will perceive the deep significance of 
the P.W. which leads from the degree of M.M. to that of I.M.

But in addition to these Christian interpretations of H.A.B. there was yet 
another, which in some senses may be regarded as older, and the key to which is 
supplied by India. In this sense H.A.B. takes on the characteristics of Shiva, 
the Destroyer.

Firstly, "Exaltation of life" reminds us of the legend that Shiva on a certain 
day increased in stature until He overtopped the universe, and, as a result, 
overthrew Brahma, the Creator, and was ackowledged by Vishnu as His superior. On 
that great day He gathered unto Himself the beginning and the end of all things, 
Alpha and Omega, and henceforth birth and death alike were in His hands.

Secondly, "Their liberty" refers to the fact that, to the pious Hindu, Shiva by 
death grants liberty from the toil and anguish of this world, and sets the soul 
free to mount to greater heights of spiriruality.

Thirdly, Shiva is always spoken of as the "Great White God, white with the ashes 
of the dead who are ever burned in His honour." Nor must we forget that these 
ashes are always scattered to the four cardinal points of Heaven.

Fourthly, He is in His very essence " The Great Destroyer."

The "Ears of corn" are symbols of Vishnu the Preserver, Who Himself, according 
to numerous Hindu legends, was slain and rose from the dead, thereby paying 
allegiance to the Lord of Death ; and so:

Fifthly, we obtain the idea of the Resurrection as symbolised by the ears of 
corn, which are planted in the earth and bring forth an abundant harvest, the 
"Green fruits" of the fields. In this connection it is as well to remember that 
the central theme of the Eleusinian Mysteries was the ear of corn which was 
shown to the Cand. at the most solemn point of the whole ceremony, and similarly 
taught the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead.

The next point that strikes us in the legend is the number of craftsmen who 
"went in search." The Irish version is of peculiar interest, for it relates that 
it was the twelve who relented who
afterwards "went in search," and not a new company of ffiteen. In many ways this 
is more logical, and certainly has a deep symbolic meaning. It is logical in 
that it shows that the penitent twelve
did their best to make amends for ever having allowed themselves to listen to 
the wicked schemes of the other three, and the subsequent decree of K.S., 
ordering them to wear white gloves and white aprons as a mark of their 
innocence, is most appropriate. It was a public announcement that K.S. forgave 
them their indiscretion and acquitted them of responsibility for the crime.

On the other hand, in our version there seems no logical reason why K.S. should 
order an entirely new batch of F.C.'s to wear these emblems of their innocence, 
since they clearly had nothing to do with the crime, and moreover, all the 
others, except the penitent twelve, were equally innocent, and should therefore 
likewise have been instructed to wear white gloves and aprons. It must be 
remembered that these white gloves, etc., were not bestowed as a reward for 
having taken part in the search, but are specifically stated to have been 
ordered to be worn to denote innocence.

The Irish account goes on to state that the twelve set out from the Temple and 
went together in one company until they came to a place where four roads met, 
and formed a cross; then they divided into four companies, and three went North, 
three East, three South, and three West. Thus they trod the Way of the Cross. In 
some old Irish workings we are told that the three who went North never 
returned. This symbolically implies that they went into the Place of Darkness. 
As the tendency in modern Irish masonry appears to be to adjust its ritual in 
main essentials to our English workings, it is but fair that I should say that I 
have a tangible proof of this form of legend, in the shape of an old Irish apron 
dated 1790, which, unlike modern Irish aprons, has a number of paintings on it 
depicting incidents in the ritual. One of the paintings shows the twelve F.C.'s 
separating at the four cross roads. (See frontispiece).

It is clear from all accounts, whether English, Irish, Scotch or American, that 
the scoundrels, the agents of death, were found by those who went in the 
direction of Joppa, that is in the W., but we
are left in considerable doubt as to whether the b. was found in the E. or in 
the S.. Symbolically, however, it would clearly be in the S., for H.A.B., like 
the Christ, was struck down at High Twelve, when the sun is in the S.. From a 
practical point of view it is fairly obvious that the scoundrels who were 
carrying away the b. could never have reached Joppa if they had once gone E., 
for they would have had to fetch half a circle round Jerusalem, a procedure 
which would have rendered their chance of escape almost hopeless. By going S. 
they might hope to throw their pursuers off the track, and then turn back at an 
angle, reach Joppa, and escape by boat. That this was their intention is clear 
from many old forms of the legend, and especially in those worked in America. 
King S., however, foresaw this possibility and prevented their escape by 
forbidding any ships to sail. In the American working one of the officers of the 
Lodge enacts the part of a sea captain, and even wears a yachtman's cap. The 
villains come to him and beg him to take them aboard, but he refused because of 
the embargo ordered by K.S.. That the same incident was known in the old Irish 
working is shown by the little picture on the same Irish apron depicting the 
arrest of the villains on the sea shore, for in the back ground there is a ship.

Let us interpret the meaning of the Irish working first. From the Christian 
standpoint the twelve F.C's represent the twelve apostles, Mathias replacing the 
traitor Judas. But in the non-Christian, and possibly earlier interpretation, 
these twelve would of course be the twelve signs of the Zodiac, searching for 
the sun which had been eclipsed. We must never forget that in addition to the 
deep spiritual meaning hidden in our ritual there is also a Solar Myth embedded, 
which has in the course of years become allegorized and filled with deeper 
spiritual truths.

But being English masons we must be prepared to find an explanation of the 
fifteen. In ancient Egyptian times the month consisted of 30 days, and the year 
of twelve such months, plus five extra days. Now the first fifteen, of whom 
twelve recanted, presumably represent the first half of that month, while the 
second half of the month is represented by the fifteen who went in search. But 
spiritually the meaning of the fifteen is fairly clear. Man has five senses and 
is triune in nature, and thus implies that Body, Soul and Spirit must cooperate 
in trying to find God, and employ on that quest their five senses.

Lest there be any misapprehension here I would explain that man is considered to 
have not only the five physical senses, but also corresponding senses of Soul 
and Spirit. The phrase "To see with the eyes of the Spirit" is perfectly well 
known, and similarly we can speak of the eyes of the Soul. To give concrete 
examples :-Students of psychic science constantly speak of clairaudience and 
clairvoyance. While it is not necessary to accept this type of phenomena, it is 
clearly obvious that if man survives death at all his Soul must have a means of 
communicating with other Souls and that these correspond in some way to our 
physical senses. In like manner how are we to describe the visions of the great 
seers and prophets, related in the Bible, except by the possession of spiritual 

Bearing this in mind, we obtain the following interpretation of the fate which 
befell the three F.C. Lodges into which the fifteen formed themselves. Those who 
found nothing represent the physical senses of man, which are useless beyond the 
grave : the next company must therefore represent the Soul, for despite the 
logic of the physical world, it is the Soul which realises that death does not 
end all, and so it was one of these who r...d the M But the power which tells us 
what is right and wrong, and which ultimately punishes us for our offences, is 
what we call conscience, and thus assuredly is the Divine Spark within us-the 

Let us now turn to consider the details connected with the dlscovery of the 
body. The incident of the shrub is such a striking analogy with a similar one 
found in AEneid, wherein AEneas finds the body of the murdered Polydorus by 
plucking up a shrub which is near him on the side of a hill, that some students 
suggest that in the revision of our ritual this incident was copied from Virgil. 
But, in Who was Hiram Abiff, I show that both refer back to an ancient source 
and have an allegorical meaning. One proof supporting this view; is that this 
particular tree, the Acacia, has from time immemorial been more or less sacred 
in the near East. In ancient Egypt the earliest forms of the legend of Osiris 
relate that it was an acacia which grew up round the coffin of Osiris, and not a 
tamarisk as in the later versions. (See An Examination of the Masonic Ritual, by 
Major Sanderson). In like manner this tree is sacred in Arabia, India, and many 
parts of Africa, while it is the Shittim wood of the Old Testament, from which 
the ark was made. No doubt in this reverence for the acacia we have a survival 
of the primitive veneration for trees, usually spoken of as "tree and serpent 
worship." In India the assouata tree is stated to be a symbol of Trimurti, The 
Three in One. Its roots represent Brahma, its trunk Vishnu, and its branches 
Shiva, the Destroyer.

At any rate we can regard the acacia tree as in itself an emblem of the 
resurrection, for the tiny seed which is buried brings forth a mighty tree, 
covered with fragrant blossoms.

The account of the manner in which the Cas. S...s came into existence, though 
ingenious, can hardly be taken as historic. As we have already dealt with this 
point previously, we shall only say that every folk-lore student is well aware 
that, in the vast majority of cases, legends purporting to explain the origin of 
a certain custom do not give the real origin at all, but merely indicate that 
the origin of the custom has been lost, owing to its great antiquity. The very 
manner in which some of the S..s are given is sufficient to indicate that they 
did not originate in the way suggested, while, on the other hand, we find these 
same S...s all round the world, with entirely different explanations as to their 
origin. They are indeed ancient landmarks, and the utmost care should be taken 
not to alter them in any way.

The next incident in the legend is the capture of the scoundrels. In some 
rituals it is given with much interesting detail of a picturesque nature. All 
agree that they were apprehended in a tavern, and many say explicidy that it was 
near the sea shore. Some of the rituals state that the fugitives were overheard 
lamenting as follows:- "One said, 'Oh, that my t. had been c.a. rather than I 
should have done it;' while another more sorrowfully exclaimed, `Oh, that my 
h...t had been t.o. rather than that I should have struck him;' and a third 
voice brokenly said, `Oh, that my b. had been s. in t. rather than that I should 
have smitten him,' " This last version is of interest as explaining the 
legendary origin of the py. of the three degrees, and incidentally it shows how 
legend incorporates facts into a story, in order to explain something whose 
original meaning is lost. It would also appear from this version as if the 
scoundrels had not intended to actually kill their victim but merely to 
terrorise him, and in the excitement of the moment lost their heads. 
Symbolically this contains a valuable piece of teaching. According to one 
interpretation the three scoundrels represent "The lust of the flesh, and the 
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John, 2. 16). In other words, the 
sins of the flesh, the sins of the Soul, such as covetousness, and spiritual 
pride, the most deadly of all.

These sins assuredly destroy man both physically and spiritually, yet it can 
truly be said that in giving way to them no man intends to destroy himself. From 
the more strictly Christian standpoint the three scoundrels are Herod, Caiaphas, 
and Pontius Pilate, and it is perfectly clear that Pilate and Herod, at any 
rate, did not wish to kill our Lord; but were caught in a position from which 
they found it impossible to escape.

Returning to the deeper mystical interpretation we notice that the scoundrels 
were found in the West, the region of Death, which teaches us that the just 
retribution for all our sins, whether of body, soul, or spirit, will overtake us 
after death, and that though in one sense it is God, here shadowed forth by 
K.S., who punishes, yet in another sense it is our five spiritual faculties 
which themselves rise up in judgment against us. We ourselves, doom ourselves, 
and therefore we can obtain nothing but strict justice.

Without pretending that we have exhausted this subject, this brief explanation 
of the true character of the scoundrels and their captors must suffice, and we 
will only mention in passing that here also there appears to be a half forgotten 
astrological reference to the three winter months which oppress the sun.



The next part of the narrative is incorporated in most English workings with the 
Tracing Board. The most interesting feature is the description of the g.. It is 
obvious that peculiar stress is laid on the centre, even in the present form of 
our ritual, because of the way in which the measurements are given. Why should 
it not have been said that it was six feet long? In some old rituals the g.. or 
rather the monument, is described as a dome, which made a complete circle at its 
base, and was three feet from the centre every way. If so it must have been like 
a small replica of the earliest form of the Buddhist Pagoda, and the Master was 
thus buried at the centre. In that case the top of the dome would have been five 
feet from the surface of the ground, and we should thus get the correct symbolic 
use of 5 as representing the body, and 3 as representing the spirit, while 
enabling the human body to be decorously interred. It seems probably that when 
the g.. was made to conform to the type familiar in England, a desperate effort 
was made to retain the 3 and 5. It is worth noting that there is no mention of 
the use of any c...f...n, despite the picture on the tracing board, and if a 
c...f....n had been used at the supposed date of the incident it certainly would 
not have been of the European shape depicted, but much more like an Egyptian 
Sarcophagus. Nevertheless, though the ritual does not justify the existence of 
any c..f....n on the tracing board, it was an integral part of the ancient 
mysteries of Osiris, and its retention in other ritual is almost certainly an 
ancient landmark. On the same tracing board may be seen certain letters in the 
Masonic cypher, which are practically never explained. Very often when 
transliterated, among other things, they will be found to give the P.W. leading 
to the three degree. This fact is of interest, for the true meaning of that W., 
as already explained, is a w...k...r in, the correct description of 
H.A.B. The fact that he was buried as near the Sanctum Sanctortum as possible, 
symbolically denotes that he had reached the centre, and was in union with the 
Source of All.

The Dormer window historically is the hypostyle, the method by which Egyptian 
and classical temples obtained light. The pillars of the central nave of such 
temples rose considerably higher than the roofs of the aisles, thus leaving 
openings through which the light could enter the building. These, however, were 
many in number, and it is difficult to justify the apparent statement that there 
was only one such opening. Symbolically it is intended to represent the means by 
which the Divine Light penetrates into the deepest recesses of every man's 

The squared pavement has already been explained under the section dealing with 
the mosaic pavement, in the first degree, and our readers are therefore referred 
to it. Briefly, it indicates that man's progress towards the centre is through 
alternate experiences of good and evil, darkness and light, mercy and severity, 
life and death.

The Porch which is the entrance to the Sanctum Sanctorum is the gateway of 

The working tools, "as in other cases, contain much sound moral teaching of 
typical 18th Century work, but there is one implement which deserves rather more 
than passing attention. For what follows I must express my indedtedness to W. 
Bro. Sir John Cockburn, P.G.D. The s..k...t does not appear to be much in use 
among Operative masons. It is used by gardeners, but the Operative mason has 
other means for marking out the ground for the foundations. This implement has 
more than a superficial resemblance to the Caduceus of Mercury, and Sir John 
Cockburn suggests that it has been employed to replace this "Heathen" emblem. 
For my part, I think this is most probable, for it is clear that at the 
beginning of the 19th century a deliberate attempt was made to eliminate this 
emblem from our ceremonies. The jewel of the Deacons in the 18th century was not 
a dove, but a figure of Mercury, bearing the Caduceus. A number of these old 
jewels can be seen in the library of Grand Lodge, and there are still a few old 
Lodges which continue to use them, instead of the modern jewel. Now this jewel 
is far more appropriate to the Deacons than is a dove. A dove is the emblem of 
peace and a carrier pigeon bears messages, but neither of these birds do all the 
work of the Deacons. Mercury, however, was the Messenger of the Gods, and 
carried the instructions of Jupiter, thus fulfilling one set of the duties of a 
deacon. He was also the conductor of souls through the underworld; taking the 
dead by one hand, and uplifting the Caduceus in the other, he led the Shade from 
the grave, through the perils of the underworld, to the Elysian Fields; before 
his Caduceus the powers of evil fled. In mediaeval escatology it is Christ who 
leads the Souls on a similar journey, uplifting in His Hand the Cross of 
Salvation. Even to-day the jewels of the Deacons in a Mark Lodge bear the 
Caduceus, a mute but convincing witness to the use of this emblem in 

We can thus see that on the one hand a deliberate effort was made to delete from 
our ceremonies the Caduceus, probably because it was considered to be Pagan, 
while on the other hand it was clearly quite easy for ignorant masonic 
furnishers, in the course of years, to make the Caduceus approximate more and 
more to a masonic tool, so as to fit it in with other avowedly masonic 
implemens. As a masonic tool it has very little significance, even to a 
Speculative, and is of no practical value to an Operative, but the Caduceus 
would be peculiarly appropriate to the third degree. In short, it is an ancient 
landmark, an emblem of the dead and forgotten Mysteries, and symbolical of Him 
who leads the soul from the darkness of the grave to the light of the 

Before leaving the M.M. degree let me say to all installed masters that if they 
have received the P.W., not the W. of an Installed master, but the P.W. leading 
from the M.M. to that further degree, they will find in it evidence not of a 
mere hint of the resurrection, but of the Resurrection itself, and a close 
association with the version of that doctrine set forth in the life of the 
Perfect Master.



Here we are reminded that we are working in symbolism, for we come back from the 
West, i.e., the grave, to this material world. But we have only obtained 
substitutes, and we offer them as some consolation to the spirit, i.e., the W.M. 
The advance to the centre of the room is an obvious reference to the other 
centre. The s...s are communicated by the body to the soul, which passes them on 
to the spirit. The meaning of these s....s is dealt with in the ceremony, but it 
is worth noting that the word shows clearly that the s....t is to be found only 
through the death of the body. The actual Hebrew word whose corrupt form we use 
really means " My son is slain." It is also well to remember that the p.s. and 
the s. of G.& D. (Scottish form) are, old signs which come down from the ancient 
mysteries, and are still found throughout the world. A brief summary of that has 
already been said may be helpful. The p.s. is often associated with Shiva, the 
Destroyer, and is also found appropriately used at Burobudor in Java; it refers 
to that occult centre, the solar plexus. In view of what the lost s...t is, this 
sign is therefore most significant. In other words, it is a hint to those who 
deserve to know while it conceals from those who do not.

The Scottish sign of G. & D. is found all round the world, and always has the 
same meaning of an appeal for heIp. It is used in the most primitive initiatory 
rites of a boy into manhood, and in Kenya the boy takes it to indicate that he 
is ready for the operation of circumcision to begin. In Nyasaland, among the 
Yaos, it is associated with a grave, and in Mexico the Preserver is shown making 
it. He was slain and rose from the dead, and it is constantly found in Mexico in 
the form of a carving, consisting of a skeleton cut in half at the centre and 
making this sign, as, for example, at the Temple of Uxmal.

The manner of communicating the s..s and the gr. are equally old. Indeed, the 
lion's grip appears to be the grip of all the Mysteries. It was the Grip of 
Mithra, and by this grip Osiris was raised. Among the Druids it was also known, 
as is shown by a carving at Iona. I have, however, gone into the evidence for 
the antiquity of our signs so fully that I will not take up further space here.

We may as well add, however, that the number "5" no doubt refers to the five 
senses of man, just as the seven steps remind us of the Egyptian sub-division of 
every mortal.

Having received the sub. s...s the W.M., or Spirit, confirms their use till the 
true ones are discovered. This last remark indicates that the quest is not ended 
or abandoned, in reality it has just begun; the first stage only has been 
passed, which stage is death. It also tells every Craft Mason that he a good 
craftsman till he has at least taken the Royal Arch.

Thus the spirit acknowledges that death is a step forward. It has freed the soul 
of the trammels imposed on it by the body, and so our life's work on earth, as 
symbolised in the Lodge, is closed. The knocks indicate that the spirit now 
dominates the soul and body and before we leave these heights it is well to 
point out that almost all the great religious teachers have taught that in some 
mysterious way this physical body will be transformed, and still be used after 
death. In short, that matter, as well as spirit, is part of God. Science has 
shown that matter is indestructable, though its form may be changed completely, 
and so even after the symbolical death and resurrection, three knocks are still 



This then concludes the third degree. More than any other degree in Craft 
Masonry it has embedded in it ancient landmarks, brought down from a long 
distant past. Under the surface lie hidden, meanings within meanings, which I 
make no pretence to have exhausted. Already this book has exceeded in length 
either of the two previous ones, but to do full justice to the sublime degree 
one would require a volume four times as large as this. I trust, however, that I 
have given some help, more especially to younger brethren, which will aid them 
to glimpse the deeper side of Freemasonry. If they too will strive to discover 
further alternative meanings, I shall feel this labour of mine has been well 

Let me again warn them that just because Masonry is so old, its rituals, in the 
course of years, have been again and again revised, and newer meanings have 
continually been grafted on to the old stock. We are not entitled to say one 
meaning is right and another wrong. Both may be right. Christianity itself has 
taken over a vast mass of pre-Christian ceremonies and symbols, and the student 
is perfectly entitled to consider that both the Christian and the pre-Christian 
interpretations of these symbols are equally deserving of respect.

There is also another point which should be borne in mind. Again and again we 
find that incidents and phrases which appear to have come from the Bible, on 
closer investigation are found not to correspond exactly with the Biblical 
narrative. At one time there was a tendency to say that in these cases it was 
our duty to substitute the Biblical version for the "Inaccurate" traditional 
form. With all due respect I venture to say that such action is totally 
unjustifiable. Masonry is not the Bible. It is a traditional ritual into which 
18th century revisers inserted fragments from the Bible, because that was the 
only book dealing with the period of the masonic incidents which was then 
available to them. To-day, we know a great deal more about this period than did 
our 18th century predecessors, and the modern investigator has just cause to 
lament the well meaning, but misdirected, zeal of these worthy masons, who 
thereby have probably destroyed for ever valuable landmarks, which would have 
helped us to discover the historical growth and the symbolic meaning of many 
parts of our ceremonies.

Such apparent contraditions, and even mistakes, as appear to exist, should be 
carefully retained, for they are sure indications to the conscientous student of 
a connection with a long distant past, which modern methods of research may 
enable us finally to trace to its origin. If, however, they are revised out of 
existence, future generations will have nothing to help them in the task of 
unravelling the true history and meaning of Freemasonry.

If a Sn. does not correspond with the explanation of the manner in which it is 
said to have originated, don't alter the way of giving the Sn., for it is an 
ancient landmark. Rather try to discover if anywhere in the world that Sn. is 
still used in some old ceremony which may throw light on its true origin. If 
H.A.B. was not buried in a c...f...n, don't eliminate the c...f...n from the 
tracing board, but rather bear in mind that his great prototype, Osiris, was so 
buried and that the c...f...n played a peculiarly important part in the legend 
which recounts his death : which legend was hoary with antiquity before K.S. was 

Finally, let me say that even if a man can never fathom the full meaning of the 
third degree, yet there is no man worthy of the name who has passed through that 
third degree but will certainly have learnt one important lesson, namely, how to 
d., and thereby will be the better man.