Blaine C. Clay Lodge # 14

Making Good Men Better in Houma, Louisiana.

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Posted by Troy Welch on December 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This is something that I read that I think that our newly raised MM, all MM for that matter, should read.

Travel Light,

Troy Welch, Light Bringer / Bearer


by Albert Pike


Masonry is a succession of allegories, the mere vehicles of great lessons in morals and philosophy. You will more fully appreciate its spirit, its object, its purposes, as you advance in the different degrees, which you will find to constitute a great, complete, and harmonious system.

If you have been disappointed in the three first degrees; if it has seemed to you that the performance has not come up to the promise, and that the commonplaces which are uttered in them with such an air, the lessons in science and the arts, merely rudimentary, and known to every school-boy, the trite maxims of morality, and the trivial ceremonies are unworthy the serious attention of a grave and sensible man, occupied with the weighty cares of life, and to whom his time is valuable, remember that those ceremonies and lessons come to us from an age when the commonest learning was confined to a select few, when the most ordinary and fundamental principles of morality were new discoveries; and that the three first degrees stand in these latter days, like the columns of the old, roofless Druidic Temple, in their rude and primeval simplicity, mutilated also and corrupted by the action of time, and the additions and interpolations of illiterate ignorance. They are but the entrance to the great Masonic Temple, the mere pillars of the portico.

You have now taken the first step over its threshold, the first step towards the in most sanctuary and heart of the Temple. You are in the path that leads up the slope of the Mountain of Truth; and it depends upon your Secrecy, Obedience, and Fidelity, whether you will advance or remain stationary.

Imagine not that you will become a thorough Mason by learning what is commonly called the work, or merely by becoming familiar with our traditions. MASONRY HAS A HISTORY AND A LITERATURE. Its allegories and its traditions will teach you much; but much is to be sought elsewhere. The streams of learning that now flow broad and wide must be followed to their heads in the springs that well up in the far distant past, and there you will find the meaning and the origin of Masonry.

A few trite lessons upon the rudiments of architecture, a few ordinary maxims of morality, a few unimportant and unsubstantiated traditions will no longer satisfy the earnest inquirer after Masonic Truth. Let him who is satisfied and content with them remain where he is, and seek to ascend no higher. But let him who desires to understand the harmonious and beautiful proportions of Masonry, read, study, reflect, digest and discriminate. The true Mason is an ardent seeker after knowledge; and he knows that books are vessels which come down to useful-freighted with the intellectual, riches of the past; and that in the lading of these Argosies is much that sheds light upon the history of Masonry, and proves its claims to be regarded as the great benefactor of mankind.

House Divided?

Posted by scoby on July 24, 2011 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (1)

My mother’s home has become a place of you verses me.

I remember viewing it as a place I learned to value integrity.

I have fond memories of Psalms 133

Behold how good and pleasant it is… the tenants, canopy and checqured floor

Through the porch, up the stair case to the ark over troubled shores I’ve learned and more.

Perfecting our trowel sometimes proves to be too challenging

And the business of mom’s home can be quite demanding.

But I offer a solution to the problem of you verse me.

And it begins with us getting back to Psalms 133.

Black Ball / White Ball

Posted by Troy Welch on April 11, 2011 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The Black Cube  "A WHITE ball elects, a black cube (or ball) rejects."

This, or some similar statement, is usually made at a lodge prior

to voting on the application of one who would be an initiate of


In all Jurisdictions in the United States, the ballot on an

applicant is taken secretly--that is, with no brother knowing how

another may vote. In most Jurisdictions it is an infraction of

Masonic law--in all it is a serious infraction of Masonic

ethics--to endeavor to ascertain how another brother will vote, or

has voted on an applicant or to disclose how he voted or will vote.

The "secrecy of the ballot" and the universal (in this country)

requirements that a ballot be unanimous to elect are two of the

greatest bulwarks of the Fraternity. Occasionally both the secrecy

and the unanimity may seem to work a hardship on a man apparently

worthy of being taken by the hand as a brother; but no human

institution is perfect, and no human being acts always according to

the best that is in him. The occasional failure of the system to

work complete justice may be laid to the individuals using it and

not to the Fraternity.

"Harmony being the strength and support of all well regulated

institutions, especially this of ours." This phrase, or one

similar, is familiar to all Masons. Harmony--oneness of mind,

effort, ideas and ideals--is one of the foundations of Freemasonry.

Anything which interferes with Harmony by so much hurts the

Institution. Therefore it is essential that lodges have a

harmonious membership; that no man be admitted to the Masonic home

of any brother against his will. For this reason it is required

that the names of applicants to a lodge be set before the entire

membership, prior to a vote, that all may know that John Smith is

to be balloted upon; that any who think him unfit timber for the

lodge, or who have personal objections to entering into the sacred

relation of brotherhood with him, may have the

opportunity to say "No."

The power thus put in the hands of the individual Master Mason is

very great. No officer, not even the Grand Master, may inquire how

we vote, or why we voted as we did. No Grand Master has the power

to set aside the black cube we cast. If in the ballot box is a

black cube, the applicant is rejected. (In many Jurisdictions a

single black cube in the ballot box requires the ballot to be

taken again, immediately, to avoid the possibility of a mistake. If

the black cube reappears the second time, the applicant is


This rejection of an application does more than merely prevent the

applicant from being given the degrees. It creates over the

petitioner a lodge jurisdiction. He may not apply to another lodge

for the degrees refused him by this one, without first securing

from that lodge a waiver of jurisdiction. He may not again apply

even to the lodge which rejected him until after a certain

statutory period--usually six months. When his application is again

received and brought up for ballot, the fact that he previously

applied and was rejected is stated to the lodge.

In other words, the casting of a black cube not only rejects for

the degrees, but puts a certain disability upon the applicant which

he is powerless to remove.

The brother who casts a ballot, then, upon an applicant, wields a

tremendous power. Like most powers, it can be used well or ill. It

may work harm, or good, not only upon him upon whom it is used, but

to him who uses it. Unlike many great powers put into the hands of

men, however, this one is not subject to review or control by any

human agency. No king, prince, potentate; no law, custom or

regulation; no Masonic brother or officer, can interfere with the

individual's use of his power.

For no one knows who uses the black cube. No one knows why one is

cast. The individual brother and his God alone know. The very

absence of any responsibility to man or authority is one of the

reasons why the power should be used with intelligence, and only

when, after solemn self-inquiry, the reason behind its use is found

to be Masonic.

Any one can think of a hundred reasons why black cubes are cast.

Our neighbor applies for the degrees. Outwardly he is an honest man

of good character, bearing a good reputation. However, we have

heard him quarreling violently with his wife. We are morally sure

that he struck her. We can't prove it; the poor woman never said

anything about it; she suffered the blow in silence rather than

endure the greater agony of publicity. It is not for us to have him

arrested as a wife beater if his wife can stand him! But we don't

want a coward, a bully in our lodge! Naturally--and most brethren

will say properly--we cast the black cube.

Our office associate wants to be a Mason. He applies to our lodge.

As far as the investigating committee can ascertain he is a good

man, honest, pays his debts, is a church member, a hard worker. But

we have heard him repeat, to us and to others, matters which we

know were given to him in confidence. We have learned to distrust

his discretion. We don't believe that a promise means much to him.

It may be, of course, that a Masonic obligation would be kept. But

we are not sure. Naturally, we vote against him.

Some men otherwise "good and true" are ill-natured, violent

tempered, disagreeable. To admit them to our lodge might destroy

its harmony of spirit. Others are vain and boastful, self-seeking,

apt to bend every agency in which they come in contact to their own

ends. We do not believe such a man will be an asset to our lodge.

We keep him out.

A certain man IS our personal enemy. The quarrel between us may

have nothing to do with right and wrong; it may be the result

merely of a life time of antagonism. He applies to our lodge. Our

lodge is our Masonic home. We would not want this man in our family

home; we do not think we will be happy with him in our Masonic

home. It is our privilege to keep him out.

These, and a thousand other good reasons, are all proper ones for

the casting of a black cube. If the lodge might suffer, if we might

suffer, if we know that our absent brother would suffer from the

applicant being elected, we have the best of reasons for seeing

that he is rejected. Such use of our power is proper, Masonic,

ethical, wise, just.

But there is another side of the shield. Unfortunately, no hard and

fast rule can be laid down. There is no way to explain "this is a

good reason, but that is not a good reason" for casting a black

cube. Each of us has to judge the reason for himself. Yet some

suggestions may be given.

We know a man we dislike. He has different ideas from ours. He

belongs to a different "set." He is not the type we admire. Our

dislike does not amount to hatred, nor is it predicated upon any

evil in the man's character. He and we are antipathetic; we rub

each other the wrong way. When he applies to our lodge we must

decide this question: will the unpleasantness to us, in having him

as a member, be greater than the good to him which may come from

his reception of the Masonic teachings? Are we sure that we cannot

accept him as a brother merely because we "have never liked him?"

We all know cases like this; the president of the bank turns down

Johnson's application for a second mortgage. Johnson makes the

matter personal. He "has it in" for the president. The president

applies for the degrees. Some one casts a black cube. It may, and

may not, be Johnson. We don't know. But perhaps, later, we hear

Johnson's boast "I got even with the son-of-a-gun who turned down

my loan !" He doesn't say how he "got even," of course. But we are

pretty sure we know.

Such a use of the black cube is, of course, utterly un-masonic. It

is a misuse of a great power. As well turn down the minister of the

Baptist church because he doesn't agree with our minister, who is

a Methodist! As well turn down the automobile dealer because he

refused to give us a larger allowance on our old car! Turning the

Masonic black cube into a secret dagger for personal revenge is


Freemasonry works some curious miracles. A self-made man applied

five times for the degrees in a certain lodge. The man was rather

ignorant, yet a commercial success. He had, literally, raised

himself by his bootstraps from the poverty of the streets to a

business position of some prominence. Yet he was rather raw, rough

add ready, even uncouth. No shadow of personal unworthiness rested

upon him; he was honest, upright, a good citizen.

In this lodge a certain Past Master--as was discovered in after

years--voted four times against this applicant. The Past Master

left the city. On the fifth application the petitioner was elected.

Something in Masonry took hold of his heart; through Masonry he was

led to acquire some of the education he lacked; through Masonry he

was led into the church. In time he made such a reputation for

himself as a Mason that he was put in line, and finally achieved

the solemn distinction of being made Master of his lodge. He is

still regarded as one of the best, most constructive and ablest

Masters that lodge has ever had.

In the course of ten or twelve years the absent Past Master

returned. In the light of history, he confessed (which strictly

speaking he should not have done!) that it was he who had kept this

man out for what he really believed were good reasons; he thought

the "rough neck" would detract from the dignity and honor of the

Fraternity. Yet this same "rough neck," through Masonry, became

educated, a good churchman, a fine Mason and an excellent officer.

Had the Past Master whose black cube were cast with honest

intention to benefit the Fraternity not left town, the blessings of

Masonry might forever have been denied a heart ready to receive

them, and society, lodge and church been prevented from having the

services of a man who gave largely of himself to all three.

The black cube is the great protection of the Fraternity; it

permits the brother who does not desire to make public his secret

knowledge to use that knowledge for the benefit of the Craft. It

gives to all members the right to say who shall not become members

of their lodge family. But at the same time it puts to the test the

Masonic heart, and the personal honesty of every brother who

deliberates on its use. The black cube is a thorough test of our

understanding of the Masonic teaching of the cardinal virtue

Justice, which "enables us to render to every man his just due

without distinction." We are taught of justice that "it should be

the invariable practice of every Mason, never to deviate from the

minutest principles thereof."

Justice to the lodge requires us to cast the black cube on an

applicant we believe to be unfit.

Justice to ourselves requires that we cast the black cube on the

application of the man we believe would destroy the harmony of our


Justice to the applicant--we are taught to render justice to every

man, not merely to Masons--requires that no black cube be cast for

little reasons, small reasons, mean reasons.

And justice to justice requires that we think carefully, deliberate

slowly, and act cautiously. No man will know what we do; no eye

will see, save that All Seeing Eye which pervades the innermost

recesses of our hearts, and will, so we are taught, reward us

according to our merits.

Shakespeare said, "O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength,

but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant!"

The black cube is a giant's strength to protect Freemasonry. Used

thoughtlessly, carelessly, without Masonic reason, it crushes not

only him at whom it is aimed but him who casts it.

A well used black cube goes into the ballot.

Ill used, it drops into the heart and blackens it.





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Mainstream vs. PHA

Posted by Troy Welch on November 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM Comments comments (2)


This was pulled from I don't know why I am still amazed that the Confederate States of America is hanging on to the 1800s Deep South mentality. Masonry explicitly states the equality of men, regardless of race, creed, or color. Why don't some of these "Masons" understand that their stance is absolutely opposite of this basic teaching? Is it easier to do the right thing than to oppose something that is morally right?

It is definitely getting harder and harder to sympathize with these brothers for the sake of the fraternity when it is becoming more and more obvious that they want nothing to do with me.


Travel Light,

Troy Welch


"I took my obligations from white men, not from negroes.

When I have to accept negroes as brothers or leave Masonry, I shall leave it."

Albert Pike - 1875


Sunday, February 07, 2010


Grand Lodge of Louisiana Fails to Consider Prince Hall Recognition

     Yesterday, the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F&AM determined that "technicalities" in the filing of the Prince Hall (PHA) recognition resolution prevented it from being accepted for debate and a proper vote. Some have expressed the opinion that it might have passed with a majority vote by the delegates present.

     It was resubmitted simply as a request for the appropriate Grand Lodge Committee to investigate the issue to determine the regularity of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM for the State of Louisiana. However, Louisiana Grand Lodge rules are such that a resubmitted resolution on the day of the grand lodge session requires a 2/3 majority vote before it can be considered for discussion on the floor, and presented for an actual vote on its merits. The vote for accepting the resubmitted resolution failed, preventing the PHA resolution from coming to the floor for debate or discussion.

Currently, in the U.S. and Canada, ten mainstream grand lodges have not recognized their predominantly black Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) grand lodge counterpart: Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

     However, last November, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky received a delegation from the MWPHGLofK, which presented a resolution formally recognizing the GLofKY and asked for recognition from them in return.

Labels: grand lodge of kentucky, grand lodge of Louisiana, Prince Hall

posted by Chris Hodapp at Sunday, February 07, 2010



Gingerman said...

Well, bless they little legalistic hearts.

February 07, 2010 9:23 PM


Bobby said...

The action by the GL of LA was the correct one. Our constitution provides that there can be only one legitimate GL in the State.

Prince Hall masonry can only be recognized as regular by an amendment to the Constitution of the GL of LA.

I do not understand why people in other states are interested in the actions that we take in LA concerning PH. Despite all of the effort made to revise history they are now and alway have been clandestine regardless of the actions that other states may take.


February 08, 2010 11:24 AM


THE LOW LIFE said...

With all due respect to Brother Bobby I must disagree. Always clandestine? So I suppose that the charter that African Lodge No.459 received from the United Grand Lodge of England in 1784 doesn't count. Nor does the acknowledgement of the U.G.L.E. today or the

recognition of 40 some odd states. Heck, how many "regular" Lodges in the United States are that old?

I am a Freemason from a state that does recognize Prince Hall, so I can not dictate as to what goes on in LA. Personally I have had many interactions with our Prince Hall Brothers. We attend their communications and they attend ours. So far, the world has not come crashing down around us. If anything, they have been a well spring of information! Their work, in my state at least, is spotless and old timey (and I mean that in the very best of ways).

Of course the GL and all the Brothers there are free to do, think and act as they please. That being said, the rest of the world is moving on. And I hope that my Brothers in LA can come along with us on our journey and quest for light.


Bro. Isaac Ambrose Moore

Mariners No.67

F. & A.M.

New York City

February 08, 2010 1:40 PM


Antoine said...

Bro. Moore-

Thank you for pointing out the obvious to Bobby in regards to the charter from the UGLE in 1784. It always amazes me how people are quick to claim that PHA Masonry is clandestine without having a true knowledge of its rich history. I was raised under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of NC, but currently reside in the state of KS.

Bro. Antoine Lilly

A.S. Hunter Lodge #825

February 09, 2010 4:28 PM


LaValle said...

Bro. Bobby,

From where did the original lodges in Louisiana receive their charters in order to create a Grand Lodge in 1812? I know African Lodge #459 received theirs from the UGLE in 1784 according to the informaton from the UGLE. I also know that similarly to other mainstream Grand Lodges, African Lodge declared their indenpendence from the UGLE in 1808, question are these mainstream grand lodges clandestine and if so why do the GL of LA recognize them?

How was the formation of the MWPHGL of LA in 1842 different than the GL of LA and other mainstream Grand Lodges that LA recognizes?

All PHA Grand Lodges can legitimately trace their lineage back to 1784 and the UGLE can you honestly say the same for some of the Grand Lodges that the GL of LA recognize?

The chater for African Lodge #459 still exist and has been verfied as the real deal by the issuing grand lodge the UGLE.

Brother Bobby what make the MWPHGL of LA clandestine?

Brother LaValle Muhammad

Silver Moon #105 F&AM (PHA)


February 09, 2010 6:22 PM


Worthy Brother said...

This is a matter of Freemasonry and not a State, IMO. Freemasonry is a VERB so, let's move and get these brothers regular and communicate on the level asap!

Much respect to the GLoLA and all brothers personally dealing with this issue.

See you on the level, brothers!

February 09, 2010 7:33 PM


Bobby said...

The misguided attempts to rewrite history and impose political correctness on the Grand Lodge of Louisiana will fail.

It will require an amendment to our constitution for PH Lodges to be recognized as regular in our State, which requires a 2/3 vote of Constituent Lodges. This will never happen.

LAFREEMASON and proud of it.

February 10, 2010 11:21 AM


Chris Hodapp said...

If that is so, then why the fear of even allowing the issue to be discussed on the floor of Grand Lodge?

February 10, 2010 12:13 PM


Bobby said...

Now to address the issue of Recognition of PH by UGLE:

1. I will quote various portions of the “Report From The United Grand Lodge of England Prince Hall Masonry and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts” and acknowlege that the UGLE did grant recognition. My arguments and excerpts from the report are to show that in doing so they departed from historical precedents and application of their own guidelines.

I also wish to point out that the only reason they did so was out of a desire to be politically correct and fear of being called racist. I hold no ill will to PH Masons, but do not believe that long held principles should be thrown aside just to conform to contemorary standards of right and wrong, to do so imperils our existence.

2. That being said I will now present my argument:

a. The report states :

i. “By the standards of today, the formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was irregular.”

ii. “All Prince Hall Grand Lodges are descended from what is now the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts”

iii. “To be eligible for recognition, a Grand Lodge must” “be regular in its origin”

b. Therefore by the UGLE’s own definition, PH Masonry is irregular, however they chose to ignore their own definition and chose to grant recognition.

3. They did however acknowledge that their action could not require other Grand Lodges to afford them recognition and stated “Recognition is a series of bi-lateral relationships between Grand Lodges. If a Grand Lodge seeks recognition from England, and in due course is recognised, the mutual recognition between it and England cannot bind a third Grand Lodge.”

I love masonry and have been a member of the Fraternity since 1973. I served as WM of my Lodge in 1976, and have served a Secretary for many years. My home Lodge was chartered in 1893, my Grandfather was a member of this Lodge in 1893 and most of the males including my Father, and all of his brothers, my brother, and many cousins have been members of this Lodge. I can trace my family’s membership in masorny back to 1870. I have been DDGM, have served as HP in the Chapter and IM in the Council as well as DDGHP. I say all of this to let you know that I take my Masonry seriously, and am deeply offended when Masons from other states call the good and honorable masons in my state racist and attemp to interject themselves into the affairs of our Grand Lodge.

Do what you wish in your own Grand Lodges and stay out of the affairs of our Grand Lodge.

February 10, 2010 4:19 PM


Chris Hodapp said...

Masons from outside of Louisiana did not introduce the resolution to recognize PHA in your state. And Louisiana Masons with bona fides as impressive as your own make the accusation of racism within your grand lodge.

The formation of grand lodges in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and others after the American revolution were just as irregular as the declaration of African Lodge as a grand lodge after its documented correspondence with the Grand Lodge of England went unanswered. And history has shown the so-called doctrine of territorial exclusivity has been absolutely adhered to, except when it hasn't—meaning it has been amended and circumvented by treaty all over the Masonic world.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, and without any hint of sarcasm whatsoever, I honestly ask the question: are black men welcome to join mainstream lodges in Louisiana (and the other nine states that currently do not recognize PHA counterparts)? Leaving aside personal prejudices of individuals who might blackball candidates within their lodges, what are the chances that a worthy, well-qualified black candidate would be voted in to the average Louisiana lodge? The common excuse for not recognizing PHA GLs in those ten states is territorial exclusivity, or claimed irregularity of origin. I realize Louisiana is not Georgia, but in Atlanta last year, the election of an African-American candidate caused mainstream Masons in that state to bring charges against the Master and the lodge. You know your state and your brethren better than outsiders do, so be honest. Would the same thing happen in Louisiana, or are the objections only about Prince Hall Affiliated grand lodges, and have nothing to do with race?

February 10, 2010 5:11 PM


Bobby said...


Your agrugment concerning who may or may not be accepted in one of our Lodges is spurious, I can not and will not express an opinion on a hypothetical.

You obviously strongly advocate recognition of PH, and think that your wishes should be imposed on all Grand Lodges.

You say that non recognition of PH is due to racism, but I presented a clear, well reasoned argument as to why I believe PH is irregular.

I do not question or impune your motive for promoting PH, and you should afford me and others who share my opinion the same courtesy.

February 10, 2010 5:57 PM


Chris Hodapp said...

Brother Bobby,

Is there a written rule, unwritten custom, or otherwise implied prohibition that you are aware of against black men joining mainstream Masonry in Louisiana?

February 10, 2010 6:10 PM


Bobby said...

I know that one of the Scottish Rite Lodges in New Orleans has a black member.

February 10, 2010 6:31 PM

ticking said...

Division is not a Masonic Virtue

Any Freemason who act upon the square, who is honorable in their endeavors, and who's character is an example to all regardless of what GL he is a member of is a true Mason. All the divisions we can think of do nothing but pull down the Temple.

End of story, the arguing does nothing.

February 11, 2010 11:47 AM


Cell said...

This is a very interesting thread. My question for the LA members, and the members of the other nine (9) GLs that do not recognize/accept their Prince Hall counterparts, is whether the rituals in those states contain the statement of purpose for Masonry to "bring together those men who would have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance?"

This is a very important purpose for Masonry, as any “serious” attempt to practice its lofty principles would naturally lead to that end. It is strange to my mind that a Craft which articulates such a purpose has allowed itself to fall prey to so many innovations that derogate its purpose. Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction is one of these not so worthy innovations.

The reason why so many Masons and others from outside of LA are expressing concerns regarding the internal affairs of LA, is because the GL of LA appears to be usurping the good name of Masonry under the guise of perpetuating racism. If you do not want to accept all varieties of humanity, as would be apropos in a “Masonic regime,” then don’t call your Craft “Masonry.” Call it something that Blacks will know to avoid, instead of calling it by the name of the most intrinsically inclusive organization that the world shall ever know.

The number of titles that a Mason acquires does not speak as convincingly regarding his level of seriousness regarding the Craft as does his actual practice … even if he should become the “Grand Master,” if he cannot countenance “brotherhood” for all mankind, then he is not so serious a “Mason,” in my humble opinion. God bless the good state of LA.

February 11, 2010 2:25 PM


l said...


I find it interesting that you selectively chose to quote only a section of the UGLE's resolution that recognized PHA..

The resolution reads this way:

By the standards of today, the formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was irregular. In the 18th Century, however, three Grand Lodges in North America were formed by not three but two Lodges, and the Grand Lodge of New Jersey was formed simply by a Grand Convention of Masons. By standards then prevailing, the formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts could have been seen as merely eccentric, and of acceptable regularity.

Notwithstanding the unusual transformation of its original Lodge into a Grand Lodge, the philosophy and practice of Prince Hall Masonry today are of exemplary regularity.

So while you are free to create your own interpretation of the resolution, please do not mislead by selectivity of what was said because of your misperceptions of political correctness. The UGLE did not ignore nor set aside their own definition.

Does the GL of LA also not recognize those other mainstream GL who were formed irregularly?

February 12, 2010 12:23 AM


Bobby said...

The following was also in the report.

"In 1988 the Board was unable to support an application from the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, seeking recognition for his Grand Lodge (and in ultimate effect on behalf of some 300,000 Prince Hall Masons in jurisdictions descended from his)."

So what transpired in the period from 1988 to 1994 that would have transformed PH Masonry from irregular to regular?

February 12, 2010 10:56 AM


drapetomaniac said...

"I also wish to point out that the only reason they did so was out of a desire to be politically correct and fear of being called racist."

Was this recorded in their proceedings?

This seems to be cited almost verbatim on a regular basis on a wide variety of issues. Like it's used as punctuation.

February 12, 2010 11:27 AM


Gingerman said...

In fairness, none of us was too eager to accept Prince Hall until very recently. Also, we don't know what the likelihood of an African American being accepted into a blue lodge in the Grand Lodge of LA. In otherwords, name calling ain't appropriate perhaps.

But. Most of the Grand Lodges in the United States have dealt with the issue of more than one Grand Lodge in one jurisdiction. In my state, which is really a southern state, when it came to a final vote about free intervisitation, voted yes with only four nays. Even some of the people who weren't entirelly comfortable with the change voted yes, because they knew it was right, and to preserve harmony.

February 12, 2010 2:52 PM


The Palmetto Bug said...

Cell said: "It is strange to my mind that a Craft which articulates such a purpose has allowed itself to fall prey to so many innovations that derogate its purpose. Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction is one of these not so worthy innovations."

The last sentence above is historically inaccurate. A practice of exclusive territorial governance of the Craft pre-dates even the formation of the 1717 Grand Lodge in London and can be traced back at least as far as 1598, as evidenced by the First Schaw Statutes.

February 13, 2010 9:23 AM


Tom Accuosti said...

A practice of exclusive territorial governance of the Craft pre-dates even the formation of the 1717 Grand Lodge in London and can be traced back at least as far as 1598, as evidenced by the First Schaw Statutes.


Has anyone ever heard the parable of the two traveling monks? On encountering a woman near a river, one picks her up to help her across. Later, the second monk chides him for doing so, reminding the first that he was in violation of his obligation... er, I mean his vows. The first monk says "I put her down when we crossed the river; are you still carrying her?"

Point being that sometimes we encounter situations in which the spirit of the law seems to run counter to the definition of the law.

Territorial Jurisdiction was probably a great idea to keep spurious lodges from springing up on every block and poaching members (or potential members) from the more recognized orders.

But this is not the 1600s. Hell, it's not even the 1900s anymore, although you'd be hard pressed to tell that from some of our brothers. While a number of offshoot GLs have splintered off from PH, the fact is that the vast majority of PHA lodges all recognize each other and know which ones are which. For any US GL to fail to acknowledge the PHA GLs seems to run against the spirit of universal brotherhood that we so often espouse, especially when 3/4 of the US has already worked through their legal/ethical issues.

February 14, 2010 11:28 AM


Chris Hodapp said...

Beautifully put, Tom.

February 14, 2010 12:51 PM


J.Luis Castañeda said...

In response to Drapetomaniac: I am no fan of political correctness but in some circles the term "political correctness" can be used interchangeably with the term "civil rights".

If I were to set aside political correctness in regards to myself and state my real concerns here I would have to ask: Is it truly an unjust stereotype that a large percentage of racists in this country are concentrated in states that were once part of the Confederacy?

I don't think that the brothers outside of LA who are in favor of recognizing PH are trying to "force" that GL to do anything. We are merely stating our opinions. An opinion that, and I will only speak for myself here, is not driven by any desire to "appear" politically correct or any such nonsense. I hold a genuine belief that turning my back on a worthy brother because of his skin color flies in the face of the most basic tenets of our order. It is very telling when people assume the otherwise.

As most brothers the world over agree recognizing PH is just the right thing to do. When I see brothers jumping through so many jurisprudence hoops to avoid extending the hand of friendship and brotherly love to those that deserve it I wonder if they themselves are just cloaking their true feelings behind more politically correct language.

February 14, 2010 6:27 PM


Cell said...

Palmetto Bug

What relevance are the "First Shaw Statutes," to any Mason outside of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and here in 2010? Even as a sovereign, William Schaw would not have been competent to make any law which was binding on any Mason who did not willfully subject himself to such rules. Is it your position that these “Statutes” are binding on the world of Masonry?

I am as interested in the history of jurisprudence in other places as the next man, but unless my GL has adopted one of these documents (Shaw's statues, the Regius Manuscript, Andersons Constitutions, Mackey's jurisprudence, etc.) they are only useful as a historical backdrop.

Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction plainly flies in the face of Universality, which is undoubtedly a “Landmark.” Also, if one does accept that such a principle as ETJ had any validity as early as the 1500s, then how can the existence of the Antient and Modern GLs of England be explained two hundred years later? The fact is that Masonry "is what it is." We can always come up with some rule or law to justify what we do ... but at the end of the day, we make the rules the way we want them.

Thus, LA and a lot of other jurisdictions may continue to get away with practicing racism under the guise of Masonry, simply by falling on the false doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction, or the antiquated “free born” “qualification.” The rest of the Masonic world can objectively consider such bodies racist, for they have no rational reason for denying recognition to PH. Most of these bodies don’t accept Blacks into their Lodges at all … which is more telling than their failure to extend recognition. At the end of the day, when Masonry states its purpose as "bringing those together who would have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance," we will all have to answer whether or not our GLs are practicing "Masonry" or something else. If when you look around your Lodge all you see is white men, or black men, or Christians, or Muslims … that is not Masonry regardless of how many squares and compasses you adorn it with.

Masonry brings together men would have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance … who has your GL brought together heretofore?

February 17, 2010 1:33 PM


2 BOWL CAIN said...

501c10's do need to follow the Spirit of Freemasonry.

February 18, 2010 7:18 AM


The Palmetto Bug said...


I was just pointing out the error of your claim that said ETJ was an innovation. I see you are still not convinced since you call it a "false doctrine." That "false" doctrine is used by the UGLE and other regular/recognized Grand Lodges until this very day. It is my undersatnding that PHA bodies also use it.

February 18, 2010 6:27 PM


Darrell said...

Quote "So what transpired in the period from 1988 to 1994 that would have transformed PH Masonry from irregular to regular?"

Uhmm, perhaps more racists from a horrible period in American History died?

Bro. Bobby, with all due respect, Louisiana has nothing to fear in recognizing PHA Masons as legitimate Brethren of the Craft.

By most Prince Hall standards, chances are both you and I would have a hard time meeting their requirements for entrance into Freemasonry. They're Prince Hall Masons, not the Black Panthers.

If a man of color petitions a mainstream Lodge for membership, exactly what shade of color does a man no longer cease to be acceptable for membership?

It's time to stop worrying about the man of color who lives down the street who tries to live a decent life, worry more about the nut on the other side of the planet who is trying to make a bomb to kill those he hates, and he's an equal opportunity killer, color is a non-issue with him.

If there was ever a time for men of good will to stand side-by-side and stand opposed of the evil on this earth, it's the times we now live in. When those flag draped caskets come back from the fields of battle, I've never heard anyone ask what is the color of the valiant one who gave up their life, so that we can remain free. Free and Free-Masons.

February 18, 2010 8:38 PM


Cell said...

Palmetto Bug Said: "That "false" doctrine is used by the UGLE and other regular/recognized Grand Lodges until this very day. It is my undersatnding that PHA bodies also use it"

Just becaue we "use" something doesn't make it valid. We cannot change the nature of Masonry by the way we practice it ... we just have an erred practice. For example, you cannot say that "Masonry does not accpet Blacks just because the LA GL does not accpet them." You can only say that the LA GL has that particular flaw in their Masonry. Claiming ETJ is not the only error within PH and other "brands" of Masonry.

February 24, 2010 12:33 PM


The Palmetto Bug said...


At least we are making progress. You are no longer calling ETJ an innovation after I proved otherwise. You are no longer calling it a false practice after I proved that it does exist. Now we are down to the root of the matter, which is that you just do not like the practice of ETJ. I can live with that since that is an opinion and all have the right to such.

I would be interested to learn why you think that the GL of LA does not allow black men to be members - assuming that is what you are alleging. I happen to know that there is at least one black member in a lodge subordinate to the GL of LA.

February 24, 2010 4:57 PM


J.Luis Castañeda said...


You'd think that with LA. having the second highest percentage of black citizens in the U.S. there would more than one.

I live in Oregon which in 2005 had a population that was 93% white and I know I have seen black, Asian and Hispanic brothers participating as officers in our lodges.

I am sure that the State's segregationist past has a lot to do with this. Over generations black men, not being welcomed in mainstream lodges, have naturally gravitated towards PH and their descendants have followed after them thus furthering the divide. On the other hand, if anyone is making the argument that racism is not more prevalent and institutionalized in the South or that racial prejudice isn't a driving factor behind why so many Southern GLs still refuse to recognize PH while the rest of the civilized world has labored to remove these barriers, well, I don't think that anyone is that naive.

Regardless of the reason it is sad, that these attitudes continue to exist in the 21st century.



February 24, 2010 6:05 PM


Dave said...

Interesting dialogue but can we just cut to the chase? Why does any Lodge care about race? Today, why would any "regular" Lodge care about race as they consider a new candidate? Have you noticed the United Grand Lodge of England's paper on how to become a member? Notice who is front and center on that document - an African (American). I thought I knew what a Lodge was until I attended a Lodge meeting in London. Clearly, all men, regardless of race can be a Mason.

February 26, 2010 5:49 AM

gaturner said...


Brother Hodapp,

I am the filer of the aforementioned resolution to the LA Grand Lodge. I only recently became aware of your blog or I would have commented sooner. You have an interesting thread of comments here, but I would like to just clarify a few things about your original post.

First, I did make an error in the filing of the resolution. To its credit, our Law and Jurisprudence Committee requires resolutions to be submitted properly. They did allow me to correct the error, but it was beyond the deadline for "timely" filings and required the 2/3 vote for reception. A copy of the resolution was provided in the advance proceedings and it was the original text that was submitted.

The requirement for the 2/3 vote was probably a good thing because it forced the resolution to be considered separately, rather than bog down the reception of the other resolutions.

Honestly, the resolution would not have been accepted for debate even with a simple majority. A voice vote was taken and as best as I could tell, only about 25% of the vote was in favor of reception. It is not uncommon in LA Grand Lodge sessions for the delegates to vote to simply not receive controversial or unpopular resolutions. The delegates to LA Grand Lodge do not take changes lightly and I've seen several items be resubmitted for two, three, or more years in a row before they are finally accepted and passed.

Even though the resolution did not pass this time, I was pleased by the number of brothers that did vote for it and by some of the positive and encouraging comments that were made in the Grand Lodge session and that were made to me privately.

I do plan to resubmit the resolution next year. By then, the delegates will have had time to think about it and discuss it some more and it may fare better. If it doesn't pass then, there's always the following year. Like all true N.O. Saints fans, I know that sometimes you have to wait years for good things to happen.

Glenn Turner, PM

Yellow Pine Lodge No. 282 F&AM

March 02, 2010 12:18 AM


Chris Hodapp said...

Brother Glenn,

Thanks for the clarification.

March 02, 2010 12:20 AM


LaValle said...

Bro. Bobby,

You never answered the question: Does the GL of LA also not recognize those other mainstream GL who were formed irregularly?

March 07, 2010 7:43 PM

acooley1906 said...

Just FYI, Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction can be waived by the first recognized Grand Lodge in the territory and happens frequently across the world. ETJ can't be used as the sole reason to deny recognition of another regular Grand Lodge

UGLE Pro Grandmasters speech in 2007

"...I understand that at the Forum in Prague at the end of April there was a suggestion that there should be an addition to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition – that of territorial exclusivity, in other words that there should only be one Grand Lodge per territory or country. That suggestion carried the implication that a Grand Lodge was not sovereign unless it had sole control of the Craft in its territory or country. We do not see sovereignty in terms of territory; to us sovereignty is a Grand Lodge having sole authority over its constituent Lodges and members, wherever they might be situated, and not sharing that authority with any other power such as a Supreme Council.

For historical and practical reasons, the Home Grand Lodges and others could not regard exclusive territorial jurisdiction as a basic principle for recognition. For more than 250 years the Home Grand Lodges have shared territory all round the world and continue to do so today. Indeed, in some areas we share territory with a local Grand Lodge formed since the Home Grand Lodges introduced Freemasonry into their territory. In the United States – where exclusive territorial jurisdiction was a principle for regularity – they have had to vary their views, as in many States the State Grand Lodge now shares its territory with a Prince Hall Grand Lodge, as the Home Grand Lodges do in the Bahamas, Caribbean and West Indies.

The common factor in all these examples of shared territory is that the sharing is by mutual consent, and that is surely the key. If two or more Grand Lodges wish to share territory, why should we impose an arbitrary impediment on them doing so?

A Grand Lodge invading the territory of another Grand Lodge is a completely different matter. Such an action would be intolerable, contrary to all the principles of international Masonic relations, and lay the invading Grand Lodge open to charges of irregularity and the inevitability of having its recognition withdrawn. "

March 09, 2010 10:22 AM


djhodge05 said...

The hypocrisy amonsgt Masons with regards to the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is amazing to me. I find it funny how in one breath some support the concept of ETJ, however at the same time claim allegiance to a Grand Lodge that recognizes the GL of Alaska, and not the MWPHGL of Alaska which was established in that state over 10+ years BEFORE their MS counterpart. May brotherly love prevail.


March 20, 2010 10:59 PM


The Palmetto Bug said...


I have heard this line of reasoning many times. The missing factor, however, is that Alaska was Masonically occupied long before the existence of the GL of Alaska or PHA of Alaska. The GL of Washington occupied Alaska at least as early as 18 September 1869. There were some lapses in occupation after that, but by 1900 the GL of Washington had solidified its jurisdiction over the “District of Alaska.” The territorial jurisdiction of Alaska by Washington was obviously recognized by the other GLs as no other GL chartered lodges there.

One also has to remember that – for right or wrong – PHA was not recognized by anyone when it showed up in Alaska. Therefore, a PHA GL in Alaska “did not exist” as far as the various GLs were concerned.

There is no hypocrisy involved – only facts.

Reference: Mackey’s History of Freemasonry by Robert I. Clegg, 1921, p. 1522

March 21, 2010 12:32 PM


comblago said...

This is an interesting thread. i am a Prince Hall Mason Past Master from Pennsylvania. I am interested in recognition efforts taking place. it is hard to let go of the past.Keep going, keep trying.

October 02, 2010 6:30 AM

Suitable Proficiency

Posted by Bro. Trahan on September 24, 2010 at 11:24 AM Comments comments (0)

The subject of "what is suitable proficiency" when it comes to new candidates obtaining the 3 degrees of Masonry was brought up in our Sept. 18th meeting.  P.M. Pledger stated his opinion of what he thought suitable proficiency should mean.  I can't remember specifically what was told but I wasn't satisfied with his answer so I decided to do my own personal investigation of what suitable proficiency is in Masonry.  Here's my take on it:  Webster defines proficiency as " well-advanced or competent in any art, science, or subject; skilled."  Suitable is defined as "appropriate."  To me, this phrase, relating to Masonry, means that if a Master Mason does not know you are a EA, FC, or MM, you must be able to prove that you are.  To prove that you are, you must be able to prove you are competent.  The problems tend to come in because what is competent to one Brother might not be competent to another Brother.  I'm open for everyone's opinions on this subject..... 

By - Laws Guidelines

Posted by Troy Welch on September 17, 2010 at 11:46 AM Comments comments (0)

Masonic ByLaws Committee

Lodge By-Laws



The Masonic ByLaws Committee is typically comprised of 3 men designated by the Worshipful Master. There is a Chairman of the Committee and 2 members.

Prior to beginning work to amend your current ByLaws, the committee needs to be very familiar with their Grand Lodge ByLaws.

While the Worshipful Master may designate any 3 members that he wishes, it is very important that at least one of these members have a complete working knowledge (not a rudimentary knowledge), but a hands-on understanding of their Grand Lodge ByLaws.

This is why this committee is chosen very carefully by the Worshipful Master. Typically, the Secretary of the Lodge is the most knowledgeable and has read the volume books relating to your jurisdiction's specific Grand Lodge bylaws and should, therefore, be included as the 3rd or 4th member of this committee.


If he is not, the Worshipful Master would be best served to inquire as to who among the members is familiar with the Grand Lodge By-Laws before designating these committee members.

If your lodge library does not contain a current and up-to-date copy of your Grand Lodge ByLaws, (and it should), then, contact your Grand Lodge Secretary to request a copy, as all subordinate lodge By-Laws must be in accordance with your state’s Grand Lodge Bylaws.


Once subordinate Lodge By-laws are changed, they must be sent to the Grand Lodge for approval or disapproval.

If they are disapproved, the most common reason is failure of the lodge to be abreast of Grand Lodge By-Laws. If they are disapproved, then the process must be begun all over again.

This can become a very time-intensive process if not performed correctly the first time.

Masonic ByLaws committee members are responsible for:

• Reviewing current lodge level By-Laws and creating proposed amendments.

• Reading of any proposed amendments deemed necessary during a stated meeting.

• Providing the amendments to the Secretary in writing


The Secretary will read the proposed amendments to the lodge on the 2nd and 3rd stated closed communications. (See your lodge’s ByLaws, as they may differ, somewhat.)

Lodge Ballot: After the 3rd communication, the proposed amendments are voted upon by the members. If approved, they must be retyped, dated, printed and the updated By-Laws made available to each of the brethren.

Annual Review: Typically, the ByLaws update is reviewed once a year. The most opportune time for many lodges to review their By-Laws is at the first annual meeting after the installation of officers and previous to their Grand Lodge Annual Communication.

Mail Proposed Amendments: The reason the review should be performed at this time is so that any proposed amendments can be mailed with the dues notices to each of the members and not have to create the expense of mailing the Masonic By-Laws Committee proposed changes, separately.

Feel free to print this Masonic Lodge By-Laws Committee page for your notebook, bookmark this page or e-mail its URL to send to other brethren who may have recently been requested to act on this committee and be in need of its information.

Each lodge member’s notebook should include a copy of :

• Lodge Member Name and Address Directory – up-to-date

• ByLaws – latest copy

• Budget – for this elected year

• List of all Lodge Committees with committee member names and phone numbers.

The Meaning of Blue

Posted by Troy Welch on September 17, 2010 at 11:32 AM Comments comments (0)

The Meaning of Blue


Symbolism and meaning of color is a very wide category of which numerous interpretations exist. However, throughout my research, the most relevant comments in my opinion are that blue stands for the vertical and the spatial, in other words height and depth, or the blue sky above, the blue sea below. It symbolizes that Masonry is as wide as these dimensions. It is also interesting to note that blue is considered to be "between black and white", also commonly identified with two opposing forces, good and evil. Thus blue is considered the most neutral of all the colors. As Masons we are equal in our position with other members, regardless of color, rank, title or any other status, and it is very appropriate that blue would represent this equality. We can also say that this world is the neutral area, and we seek a deeper world, for the higher you go to heaven, the darker the blue sky becomes. In the same way, the deeper you go in the blue ocean, the darker it becomes.



It is also commonly used to represent religious feeling, devotion and innocence. Blue was one of the primary colors used to adorn the Tabernacle (see Exodus 26:1). To the Egyptians, blue was used to represent truth. The Egyptians had two theories about the creation of the world; one, that is was created by Thaut, who when he uttered any word caused the object to exist, and two, that it was the work of Ptah, The Great Artificer. Path’s father was called Kneph, (also Cneph or Nef), and while many of the Egyptian Gods were adorned with different colors, Kneph is always depicted in blue. Kneph journeyed to the lower hemisphere, which appears to symbolize the evolutions of substances which are born to die and to be reborn. Isn't this similar to our belief in the immortality of the soul?


Blue is also considered the color for the spirit and the intellect. Jesus teaches in a blue garment, and the Virgin Mary is usually depicted in a blue mantle, as is the Norse god Odin. Vishnu of ancient Indian mythology is blue, and one of his incarnations, Rama, is blue-skinned, symbolizing his vastness as deep as the heavens. In Europe, the Blue Flower was the symbol of the greatest aspiration of the spirit.


In French, the word "bleu" is used as a substitute for the word "Dieu", which means God, as swearing was punishable in the Middle Ages by death. As such swear words such as "morbleu", "sacrebleu" and "parbleu" became popular substitutes in those times. The French royal family was associated with the color blue, because blue was associated with a celestial origin, and the royal family, like many royal families, also claimed to stem from this origin. As such the royal family was referred to as "de sang bleu" or godly blood. Even today, a substitute expression for aristocracy is "blue blood".



Blue is the overwhelming "favorite color." Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed.

The color of ocean and sky, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives. As the collective color of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming. However, not all blues are serene and sedate.


Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic -- an engaging color that expresses exhilaration. Some shades or the overuse of blue may come across as cold or uncaring.


Indigo, a deeper blue, symbolizes a mystical borderland of wisdom, self-mastery, and spiritual realization. While blue is the color of communication with others, indigo turns the blue inward to increase personal thought, profound insights, and instant understandings.


Blue is the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women.


How the color blue effects us physically

• Calms and sedates

• Cools

• Aids intuition



Blue is the color of the Throat Chakra, also known as Visuddha.

This chakra is located in the throat. It is linked to the throat, neck, hands, and arms.

The Throat Chakra is connected with speech and hearing, and encourages spiritual communication. Opening the Throat Chakra is said to improve clairaudience.

Gemstones that will aid the Throat Chakra include turquoise and aquamarine.


Blue around the globe

• In Chinese culture, colors corresponded with the five primary elements, the directions, and the four seasons. Blue was associated with wood, east, and spring.

• Blue, blue-green, and green are sacred colors in Iran, where they symbolize paradise.

• In India, paintings of the god Krishna often depict him as having blue skin.

• In the United States, post office mailboxes are typically blue.

• In Mexico, blue is the color of mourning.

• In Aztec culture, blue symbolized sacrifice.

• In Greece, the color blue is believed to ward off "the evil eye." Those who believe in this Greek superstition often wear a blue charm necklace or blue bracelet for protection.

Religious & mythological associations with blue

• Several mosques are referred to as the Blue Mosque:

o The Blue Mosque of Tabriz in Tabriz, Iran

o The Blue Mosque of Cairo in Cairo, Egypt

o The Blue Mosque of Yerevan in Yerevan, Armeni

o Rawze-e-Sharif in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan

o Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

o Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

• The Catholic religion associates blue with the Virgin Mary.

The Legend of Hiram Abiff

Posted by Troy Welch on September 17, 2010 at 11:26 AM Comments comments (1)

The Legend of Hiram Abif


Fifteen Fellow Crafts, of that superior class appointed to preside over the rest, finding that the work was nearly completed and that they were not in possession of the secrets of the Third Degree, conspired to obtain them by any means, even to have recourse to violence. At the moment, however, of carrying their conspiracy into execution, twelve of the fifteen recanted; but three, of a more determined and atrocious character than the rest, persisted in their impious design, in the prosecution of which they planted themselves respectively at the East, North, and South entrances of the Temple, whither our Master had retired to pay his admiration to the Most High, as was his wonted custom at the hour of high twelve.


Having finished his devotions, he attempted to return by the South entrance, where he was opposed by the first of those ruffians, who, for want of other weapon, had armed himself with a heavy Plumb Rule, and in a threatening manner demanded the secrets of a Master Mason, warning him that death would be the consequence of a refusal. Our Master, true to his Obligation, answered that those secrets were known to but three in the world and that without the consent and co-operation of the other two he neither could nor would divulge them, but intimated that he had no doubt patience and industry would, in due time, entitle the worthy Mason to a participation of them, but that, for his own part, he would rather suffer death than betray the sacred trust reposed in him. This answer not proving satisfactory, the ruffian aimed a violent blow at the head of our Master; but being startled at the firmness of his demeanor, it missed his forehead and only glanced on his right temple but with such force as to cause him to reel and sink on his left knee.


Recovering from the shock he made for the North entrance where he was accosted by the second of those ruffians, to whom he gave a similar answer with undiminished firmness, when the ruffian, who was armed with a Level struck him a violent blow on the left temple which brought him to the ground on his right knee.

Finding his retreat cut off at both those points, he staggered, faint and bleeding, to the East entrance where the third ruffian was posted, who received a similar answer to his insolent demand, for even at this trying moment our Master remained firm and unshaken, when the villain, who was armed with a heavy Maul, struck him a violent blow on the forehead which laid him lifeless at his feet.


A Comment


As a degree the Third is not much older than 250 years - the first recorded mention is in the year 1723 - but the Hiramic Legend, it seems, is much older than we realize. The Graham Manuscript, discovered as recently as 1936, records events of the thirteenth century, and mentions similar legends connected with Noah and Bezalel.



There are those that believe that the Hiramic Legend is derived from a Phoenician interpretation of the Egyptian legend of Isis and Osiris, and brought to England many centuries later by the Crusaders. There it remained suppressed, because of the domination of Masonry by the Church of Rome, which could not be expected to accept anything emanating from the Jews, whom they intensely hated for their crucifixion of Christ. According to this line of argument, the legend saw the daylight only as the domination of the Church waned; but there is, of course, no proof of this, even if it does sound feasible. Nevertheless, the Hiramic Legend is an indispensible part of Freemasonry, and the following Prestonian Lecture plants a beautiful thought in the mind of each of us, for we have all passed through the great Masonic ordeal. Here is the lecture, "Making of a Nation", by George Draffen (1966):


"During the ceremony of the Third Degree, which is so well named the Sublime Degree, you can hardly fail to have been impressed by the tragedy of Hiram Abif. To understand it, and to appreciate to the full its profound richness of meaning, is something that will remain with you as long as you live.



"Since the drama of Hiram Abif is ritualistic, it is a mistake to accept it as history. A ritualistic drama does not pay heed to historical individuals, times or places. It moves wholly in the realm of the spirit. The clash of forces, the crises and fates of the human spirit alone enter into it, and they hold true of all men everywhere, regardless of who they are or when or where. There was a Hiram Abif in history, but our Third Degree is not interested in him. Its sole concern is with a Hiram who is a symbol of the human soul, that is, its own Hiram Abif. If, therefore, you have been troubled with the thought that some of the events of the drama could not possibly have happened, you can cease to be troubled. It is not meant that they ever happened in ancient history, but that they are symbols of what is happening in the life of every man.



"For the same reason it is an inexcusable blunder to treat it as a mere mock tragedy. Savage peoples employ initiation ceremonies as an ordeal to test the nerve and courage of their young men, but Freemasonry is not savage. Boys at school often employ ragging, which is horseplay caricature of the savage ceremonial ordeals, but Freemasonry is not juvenile. The exemplification of our ritualistic drama is sincere, solemn and earnest. He who takes it trivially betrays a shallowness of soul, which makes him unfit ever to become a Mason.



"Hiram Abif is the actual symbol of the human soul, yours, mine, any man's. The work he was engaged to supervise is the symbol of the work you and I have in the supervision, organization and direction of our lives from birth to death. The enemies he met are none other than the symbols of those lusts and passions, which are in our own breasts, or in the breasts of others, and make war on our character and our life. His fate is the same fate that befalls every man who becomes a victim to those enemies: to be interrupted in one's work, to be made outcast from the lordship (or master ship) over one's own self and, at the end, to become buried under all manner of rubbish -- which means defeat, disgrace, misery and scorn. The manner in which he was raised from that dead level to that living perpendicular again is the same manner by which any man, if it happens to all, rises from self-defeat to self-mastery. And the Sovereign Great Architect, by the power of whose word Hiram Abif was raised, is that same God in whose arms we ourselves forever lie, and whose mighty help we also need to raise us out of the graves of defeat, or evil, and death itself.


"Did you ever wonder, while taking part in that drama, why you were personally made to participate in it? Why you were not permitted to sit as a spectator?



"You were made to participate in order to impress upon you that it was your drama, not another's there being exemplified. No man can be a mere spectator of that drama, because it takes place in his own soul. Likewise it was intended that your participation should itself be an experience to prepare you for becoming a Master Mason, by teaching you the secret of a Master Mason - which is that the soul must rise above its own internal enemies if ever a man is to be a Master Mason in reality as well as in name. The reality of being a Master Mason is nothing other than to be a master of one's own self.



"Did you wonder why it was that the three enemies of Hiram Abif came from his own circle, and not from outside? It is because the enemies to be most feared are always from within, and are ignorance and sins. As the Sacred Volume reminds us, it is not that which has power to kill the body that we need to shun, but that which has power to destroy the spirit.


"Did you wonder why it was that after Hiram Abif was slain there was so much confusion in the Temple? It was because the Temple is the symbol of a man's character, and therefore breaks and falls when the soul, its architect, is rendered helpless, because the craftsmen are symbols of our powers, and they fall in anarchy when not directed and commanded by the will at the centre of our being.



"And did you wonder why the Lodge appeared to neglect to explain this ritualistic drama to you at the end of the Degree? It was because it is impossible for one man to explain the tragedy of Hiram Abif to another. Each must learn for himself, and the most we can obtain from others is just such hints and scattered suggestions as these now given to you. Print the story of Hiram Abif upon your mind, ponder upon it; when you yourself are at grips with your enemies recall it and act according to the light you find in it. By doing so you will find that your inner self will give in the form of firsthand experience that which the drama gave you in the form of ritual. You will be wiser and stronger for having the guidance and the light the drama can give to you."




Fellowcraft Study Guide

Posted by Troy Welch on September 17, 2010 at 2:24 AM Comments comments (0)

Instructor's Manual - Fellowcraft

Overview for Instructors

Part One Review Session

Handout Materials



In the era of the operative builder, the Fellows of the Craft represented the professional Masons. They were mature men who had passed their years of apprenticeship and were skilled in the arts and the sciences of their calling. It was these men who would erect the houses of faith and temporal power which characterized their day. The Fellow Craft represented the craftsmen dedicated to learning, in both its moral and intellectual aspects. These men are filled with the mission of speculative Masonry today.


The instructor who has pondered the Fellow Craft Degree in an honest search for what it has to say to him during his years of manhood is bound to be of great help to the new Fellow Craft. Such an instructor will find a natural bond between himself and the man he wishes to assist, this bond has its substance in the community of human experience.


Because it is necessary for the instructor and the new Fellow Craft to consider the full implication of the degree and not just its parts, an interpretation of the ritual has been included in the handout materials. In addition, this overview ends with a discussion of the degree and the role of the instructor, which may serve to highlight the many facts of this degree. The review session follows the format used in the orientation session for the Entered Apprentice.


The second section provides an opportunity to review the historical development of the Fraternity as summarized in the accompanying Pollard Plan Booklet. Finally, the handout materials provide extended and alternative means of review and instruction. It is hoped that this material will stimulate the new Mason to contemplate the meaning of the Fellow Craft degree in his own life.


The Degree in the Middle

Although the Fellow Craft degree does not receive the attention it deserves, as the middle degree of Freemasonry and is often criticized by scholars of ritual, a careful scrutiny of our second degree leads the Masonic educator to a very different conclusion. A study of the degree leaves him wondering just how any program of Masonic education can do justice to this middle experience of Freemasonry which is as rich in color and design as a Persian rug and which has such a vital place in the three steps of the Master’s Carpet.


To begin with, the degree samples the experience of the builder: his awe, his inherent capabilities, his undaunted lust to imitate the divine plan from the rude beginnings of civilization to the present and from the present forward to that time when the intellect of man joined with compassion and virtue shall erect the high spires of wisdom beneath which man shall dwell with the blessings of peace and plenty.


Man’s quest for knowledge and wisdom is a goal of the Fellow Craft Degree and it is demonstrated by the sanctuary of the Middle Chamber, reached by means of a Flight of Winding Stairs which represent nothing less than a liberal and a moral education. The ritual presents only the briefest view of the development of the arts and the sciences and of their place in the story of the builder. With a few suggestive brush strokes, the ritual sets the stage for further inquiry. We would neither expect nor desire the ritual to be set aside while a course in analytic geometry is conducted in order to convince the candidate that truly geometry "is the root of the mathematics," or a survey of modern atomic physics is presented to illustrate how form and structure permeate the world of nature.


For the Masonic educator, discerning what has been left out is as important as comprehending what has been included. It is as difficult for the instructor to develop, in educational sessions, the considerations implied by the ritual, as it was for the Masons who first formulated the present degree. The instructor, however, can open doors, as it were, which will allow the new Fellow Craft to glimpse the wide vistas which spread out on every side from this "middle degree."


Despite its emphasis upon the academic, the Fellow Craft Degree is an essentially human and personal experience. It is far from being cold and austere. As Masonic writers have often pointed out and as the lecture of the third degree makes manifest, our "middle degree" is concerned with our "middle years" of manhood. The Middle Chamber as a goal, the flight of winding stairs as a way, and our manhood as the stakes, are united in a presentation which has to do with the maturing human being as seen through the history of civilized society in general. It is obvious that we are not dealing with any particular chronological age when we consider Masonic manhood, but rather the period in life when a man must come to grips with human existence its joys, wonders and agonies.


We need go no further to underscore the importance of the quest for Masonic manhood, be it for the individual or for the well being of the Craft. It is equally obvious that the "middle degree" makes meaningful the God centered, moral lessons of the Entered Apprentice Degree while preparing the way to the significance of the Master Mason Degree. Any educational assistance which renders these points clearer to the new Mason is worth our effort and our careful planning.


The Masonic instructor can best accomplish his objective of assisting the new Mason by taking advantage of every opportunity to focus attention upon the fundamental lessons of the Fellow Craft Degree and by leading the way toward a contemplation of the degree's message to the individual.

As an example of such an opportunity, let us take one aspect of the ritual which might well bring a question from any new Mason who is thinking critically about his Masonic experience. It is a point which has certainly been brought up by other students of Freemasonry. This point of question has to do with the Orders of Architecture.


During the 17th and 18th centuries, the older discovery of an all embracing faith was mingled with the upwelling of the enlightenment which found in the classical world, as well as the emerging of science, an inspiration for a new hope in man's ability "to imitate the Divine Plan" and to use the laws of nature for the purpose of bettering society and man's life here upon earth. Freemasonry, developed its philosophy and ritual as a synthesis between the established age of faith and the emerging age of reason. The general want of this very synthesis in our present society has given rise to many of our current social ills and individual anxieties. What an opportunity for bringing light in the new Mason's understanding of the importance of Freemasonry is supported atop the Orders of Architecture!


One of the principal activities of the Masonic instructor lies in making more significant the past experiences of the new Mason while preparing the way for the next step in his Masonic journey. In the Fellow Craft Degree, the new Mason is introduced to the Temple of King Solomon. How better can the new Fellow Craft be led to contemplate the moral significance of the Entered Apprentice Degree or be prepared for the coming experience of the Master Mason Degree?


The Middle Chamber lies within Solomon's Temple. The new Mason may well wonder why. He may also reasonably question why the Temple has so fascinated men through the centuries. Unless he can find an answer to these questions, an important teaching of the Fellow Craft may be missed. The Temple was not, after all, more magnificent in earthy trappings, nor built on a grander scale than many a temple along the Nile and the Euphrates. What is it about the Temple which has so stirred man's mind? Is it because God's very presence dwelt in that sanctuary and among the people? If this is so, then we have found a special significance for the Temple motif in Freemasonry.


Without the presence of' the Supreme Intellect, ordering the universe, our aspirations and our hopes are but ripples in the void of blind chance soon to disappear in the meaninglessness of chaos. Without God's presence in the Middle Chamber as a symbol of wisdom the darkness will follow our climb up the Winding Stairs and at the turning we shall meet only despair.

Finally, the Masonic educator should not lose sight of the meaning within the very name of this degree, which is so much in the middle and in the midst of our Masonic lives. In you the new Mason should find a living example of this fellowship dwelling within the lodge of the builders.





Objective: To provide the new Fellow of the Craft the opportunity to review the major experiences of the Fellow Craft Degree within the physical setting in which that experience took place.


Setting and Preparation: The first section of the review session shall take place in the preparation room and in the lodge room. Both rooms should be checked to see that they are clean and neat. The following items should be laid out:


 Items in the preparation room

a. Cable tow

b. Candidate’s clothing

 Items in the lodge room

a. Bible, square, and compasses laid on altar.

b. The working tools of the Fellow Craft in the east.

c. Handout sheets

d. Optional representations:

Two brazen pillars

Flight of winding stairs

Sheaf of wheat suspended


Climate: The Instructor or Educational Coordinator should endeavor to create an atmosphere, which is both inspirational and informal. This section is intended to be a structured review, but the new Fellow Craft(s) should feel free to ask questions and take an active part in the review.


Educational Process:

Outline of Review Session

(In the Preparation Room)

 The Three Jewels of the Fellow Craft

 The Fellow Craft Degree a quest for wisdom

 The Cable Tow

a. The physical cable tow

b. The cable tow of personal conscience

 Reception into the Fellow Craft Lodge

 The Obligation

• Duty to Craft

• Duty to others

 The Working Tools

 The Wages of a Fellow Craft

• The Square

• The Level

• The Plumb

 The Fellow Craft Degree as a Rite of Passage

 The Pillars

 King Solomon's Temple: a Holy House

 The Globes

 The Winding Stairs

• Quest for knowledge

• The need for faith

• Three steps

• Five steps

• Seven steps

 The Sheaf of Wheat and the Water Ford

 The Middle Chamber

• Geometry

• Letter "G" lecture

• Wisdom and the Supreme Intellect

 The next step, the Sublime Degree


Note: The text below is not intended for memorization. It is intended as a guide for the instructor. Set in brackets are references to various Masonic sources. These references are included to assist the instructor who wishes to enlarge his own background and understanding.



New Fellow Craft(s) in the preparation room.

The preparation room is an appropriate place for us to begin a review of the Fellow Craft Degree, for how well we are prepared for any new undertaking determines how much we will profit from the experience.


In the preparation for this review, I would like you to recall the Three Jewels of the Fellow Craft. If necessary, remind the new Fellow Craft(s) of the explanation of the three jewels and their explanation as given in the Fellow Craft's lesson.


Knowledge and its proper use in the quest for manhood is a major theme of the Fellow Craft Degree, but as we pass through the experience of this degree, we are impressed with the fact that, as important as instruction and study are, something more than a liberal education is needed. We must find wisdom, and wisdom involves a personal commitment, as well as an understanding of facts. Wisdom is a matter of the heart, as well as the mind and of morality, as well as knowledge. It demands an understanding of ourselves and of others which passes beyond mere attainment of information.


As you stood awaiting admission into the lodge, you wore the cable tow for the second time. Review with the new Fellow Craft(s) the way in which the cable tow was worn and the explanation as given in the candidate(s) lesson. The cable tow which you wore has many meanings. Among these meanings are imposed control, dependence, and even subjugation. During the course of the Fellow Craft Degree, this physical cable tow was removed, and through your free and willing resolve, you assumed quite another cable tow, which involved not outside control, but your own inner dedication to a way of life and to the mutual obligations of a Mason to the Fraternity. By this cable tow of your conscience you became a Fellow of the Craft. The length of this cable tow is determined by the extent of your own abilities and your own resources.


Note: The length of the cable tow has been the topic of much discussion. Interestingly, the physical length by which a Mason's obligation required his answer to a summons by his lodge was determined among the first speculative lodges of London as being three miles, the distance a man might walk in one hour. The Baltimore Convention of 1843 defined the length of the cable tow to be that extent of commitment, which represents what might be reasonably expected of the individual brother.


Knowledge, understanding, responsibility, and achievement are principal themes of the Fellow Craft Degree. In order for there to be wisdom, these elements of character must be united with that inner morality and just purpose which characterize the individual who is in tune with his Divine Creator. This union of knowledge and virtue, which is the mark of wisdom, was symbolically represented by the manner in which you were received into the Lodge of Fellow Crafts. Review the manner of reception using the Senior Deacon's Tool, if necessary, to focus attention on the personal implications of the reception ceremony.


Note: As there are two choices of scripture to be given during the Rite of Circumambulation, the instructor will have to adapt the following consideration to the practice of his own lodge.

The scripture, 1st Corinthians 13:3, repeated as you circled the lodge room was an important part of your Masonic instruction. Only with the support of faith can man face the challenges and the tribulations of life with a lasting hope, and only through a growing appreciation of the full meaning of love (charity) does faith enfold us in a sense of belonging to that which is universal and divine. You will remember the final words of the scriptural passage, ”And now abideth faith, hope, and love (charity). These three; but the greatest of these is love (charity)."

In some lodges, the scripture presentation is taken from the seventh chapter of the Book of Amos. This scripture can also be found in the Maine Masonic Textbook. In this text, Amos envisions God standing upon a wall with a plumbline in his hand. The plumbline is a symbol of moral uprightness set as a standard conduct, as God intended, among the lives of men.

Standing behind the altar:


Your obligation as a Fellow Craft was more specific than that of the Entered Apprentice. In particular, emphasis was placed upon your duty to the Craft as a whole and your responsibility to involve yourself in establishing the wellbeing of each individual member. In a larger sense, the duties of a Fellow Craft are emblematic of his responsibility toward his fellow human beings both from a standpoint of the maintenance of civil society and private charity.

Standing in the east:


The importance of the Fellow Craft is demonstrated by the selection of working tools, which are his particular implements of labor. These tools were and still are essential instruments in the hands of the operative workman. As symbols, they become the jewels of office worn by the three principal officers of the lodge: the square worn by the Master, the level by the Senior Warden, and the plumb worn by the Junior Warden.


Note: The new Fellow Crafts should be allowed to handle the working tools as they are discussed. The tools should be such that they could be used in operative practice, and sufficient care should be taken to assure that the new Fellow Craft(s) understand how they operate.


As you have been taught, the square is a symbol of morality and of virtue. It has been considered a symbol of these principles from the earliest records of civilized society. The square is used in many common expressions in our everyday conversations, including “are we square,” “square up” and “fair and square”. Perhaps these expressions have tended to dull a general appreciation of the wisdom symbolized by this instrument. The square remains one of the most important guiding symbols for Freemasons. For us the meaning of the square reaches beyond our daily lives with our fellow men to the very foundation of the universal order itself. It symbolizes the combined actions of a brotherhood of man seeking to understand the meaning of life and moving toward that perfection of character, which reflects the splendor of our Divine Creator.


The key feature of the square is its angle of ninety degrees formed between the horizontal and the perpendicular. The square is closely related, therefore, with both the plumb and the level.

Note: The relationship of the square to the horizontal and the perpendicular can be illustrated by use of Fellow Craft Sheet, Number One, but this sheet should not be handed to the new Fellow Craft(s) until after all the tools have been examined and discussed.


The plumb, though a simple instrument in construction, responds to that vast and unseen gravitational field which surrounds us here upon the earth. Directed by this natural force, the plumb points to the center of the earth thus allowing us to establish a perpendicular and to judge the "uprightness" of verticals. Note: The instructor should use both hand motions and the plumb, itself, to make clear this portion of the discussion.


The plumb derives from its operative usage to symbolize uprightness of conduct. It directs our response to both the moral sense within and that code of virtuous conduct which man has discovered to be fundamental in his proper and constructive dealings with his fellow men. These two emblems are made to work in concert, since he who lives his life in plumb is better enabled to act upon the square with his fellow men.


By uniting the square with the plumb, the level allows the operative workman to lay horizontals. Symbolically the level teaches equality that standard of human dignity and individual worth which so characterizes the spirit of Freemasonry. Each of us has been created to achieve, to establish, to express our own individuality, to face life, and to live with compassion, in short to be a man. It is upon these God given elements of our human nature that true worth of the individual rests and not upon race, lineage, creed, or manifestation of special achievement or renown.

Each Mason comes to fully appreciate that statement so beloved among the Craft that proclaims:


"We meet upon the level and we part upon the square."


At the close of the first section of the Fellow Craft Degree, you were told that operative Masons received certain wages in payment for their labors. Can you recall the nature of these wages? The rewards of our labors within speculative Masonry cannot be valued in terms of material wealth. They represent the nourishment of our spiritual lives and the opportunity to truly serve our fellow men thus obtaining that health of spirit and that joy of soul, which is beyond price.

Standing before the two pillars:

The second section of the Fellow Craft Degree is a symbolic passage representing both the growth of civilization from its primitive beginnings and the individual Mason's quest of manhood and the attainment of wisdom. At the beginning of his symbolic journey stand these two pillars.


You will find the discussion of pillars a most fascinating subject. Sufficient for our present purposes, is the fact that Masonic passage as Fellows of the Craft begins with those symbolic representations of strength and establishment. The pillars also stand as a testimony of a promise on the part of our Creator and an obligation on the part of men.


We are told that these two pillars represent the brazen, or brass covered, columns that stood at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple. It is important to remember that the splendor of Solomon's Temple and the grip that this structure has had upon the minds of men emanates from the presence of God, active and moving in the hearts of his people, was felt to emanate from this holy house. The globes which represent the earth and the heavens give a further symbol of God's creation and the universal nature of the application of the principals of Freemasonry.


Note: The instructor should be aware that the globes represent a relatively recent addition to the symbolic pillars. See Roberts, p. SI. The reference in the ritual to storage of records alludes to another Masonic tradition often referred to by the term antediluvian Masonry. See Mackey’s Revised History of Freemasonry (Clegg), Vol. 1, Chapter Seven "The Legend of Lamech's Sons and the Pillars"; Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols; Maryland; Short Talk Bulletin, "Columns and Pillars," November 1949; Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. On Solomon's Temple First Kings,67 and Second Chronicles, 24; MacBride's Speculative Masonry; 1st Kings, Chapter 7. Note: The following section can be illustrated with handout sheet Fellow Craft Sheet, Number Two.


The goal of the symbolic quest for manhood and for wisdom, as portrayed in the Fellow Craft Degree, is the Middle Chamber of King Solomon's Temple. In First Kings, Chapter 6, Verse 8, we are told: "and they went up with a flight of winding stairs into the middle chamber . . ." The flight of winding stairs represents the attainment of knowledge and the quest for achievement.

Note: The role which numbers play in the symbolism of the winding stairs and the part which a mystical interpretation of numbers have figured in man's groping for an understanding of the universe is indicated on handout sheet number two. The instructor may wish to call the new Fellow Craft(s) attention to this side issue.. See Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia.


The winding stairs, like all true symbolic presentations, provides us with a host of implications and insights upon which we may expand our appreciation of life and its meaning. Step by step the stairs represent the upward climb of men's understanding and his quest to "imitate the Divine plan." The view becomes more extensive the higher we ascend up the staircase; yet this view with its widening horizon can only be obtained by the toil of climbing. It has been suggested that the winding stairs has a further illusion. Because of the turning, what awaits us as we progress is hidden, and we must progress with courage and with faith that the stairs will carry us upwards to that destiny which the Divine Artificer, in His wisdom, has ordained.


Our Masonic experience is represented in the first three steps of the winding stairs along with the support of the three principal officers of the lodge and the assistance of the craft as a whole. The next five steps represent man's attempt to build with harmony, strength and beauty through the proper use of form and proportion. The lessons from the orders of architecture reach beyond their applications in stone to the building of the temple within the individual. They symbolize a proper development of our mental capacities and our five senses.


There is a hidden message in the first eight steps of the Fellow Craft Degree. Reflecting life around us, our knowledge of the Craft builds upon itself. The first three steps remind us of the three principle officers, which we were taught in the Entered Apprentice Degree represent wisdom, strength, and beauty. The “ancient original orders in architecture” also represent these same three principles. The Ionic column depicts an opened scroll, the very source of learning for the ancients, and represents wisdom. The Doric column is simple and sturdy and thereby demonstrates the essentials of strength. Finally, the Corinthian column is enriched with intricate floral designs on its capital, showing to the entire world its great craftsmanship and beauty. The principle officers, and King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abif, whom they represent, are always depicted with these columns to cement our understanding of these ideas and encourage their application to our lives.

The potential of our intellects and our rational ability to comprehend are symbolized in the next seven steps, which depict the seven arts and sciences that once made up the curriculum of a classical education. Here we have outlined the essentials of the communication, computation, logical analysis, and awe inspired by the universal order. Though phrased in a language of the past, the scope of these arts and sciences contains the basis for man's present and future attainments of the mind and the inventions of his creative nature.


We now come to an interesting part of the Fellow Craft ritual. In many ways it represents a curious portion of the instruction, but at least one interpretation brings us a realization of the seriousness of human quest. The sheaf of wheat is a symbol of plenty, the results of a well-earned harvest, but this sheaf is suspended at a river crossing, symbolizing a place of transformation and of danger. In symbolic language, we have arrived at a point where it is of greatest importance for us to be able to frame correctly what we have experienced. Knowledge without understanding, power without compassion, strength without control, ingenuity without moral responsibility, and even understanding without inner conviction and faith are all in vain and will not suffice to complete your passage to the Middle Chamber and wisdom.


New Fellow Craft(s) standing in the east:


Euclid once noted "there is no royal road to geometry." There is no easy path to understanding the full import and meaning of the Masonic symbolism represented by the science of geometry. Once, this science was the foundation of the ancient, operative craft and the source of their secrets. In modern times, geometry represents the united wisdom of Freemasonry unifying the meaning of its symbols, displaying the wonders of structure and form in nature, underscoring the necessity of social and civil order, and giving evidence of the Supreme Intelligence which created both the universe and with it the mind of man.


On arriving in the East, representing the Middle Chamber, you were given one of the most splendid of Masonic utterances: the "Letter G Lecture." We have included a copy for the candidate, and we urge them to read it with care. Here in symbolic representation you arrived at a place where, in reality, only your continued dedication, perseverance, labor, and study can bring you to the true Middle Chamber of wisdom where the imperfect understanding of man touches the perfect understanding and the will of the Supreme Architect. Here within the Middle Chamber of our second degree you stand as a Fellow of the Craft supplied with the skills and the tools of a workman. Before you lies the degree of a Master Mason with its sublime teachings of man's final destiny.

Note. Handout Sheet, Fellow Craft Sheet Number Three, provides a condensation of the excellent material on the meaning of the Fellow Craft experience as taken from the Tried and Proven. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols; Short Talk Bulletin, "The Letter G," June 1933.









The Plumb, the Level, and the Square


Pictorial Representation of the Flight of Winding Stairs, Orders of Architecture, the Five Senses, and the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences


Explanatory Text (from Tried and Proven)


Outline of Fellow Craft Charge


Vocabulary List for Fellow Craft Degree






There is a close relationship between these three tools. Both the tools themselves and this interrelationship provide an endless source of symbolic application.

It should be noted that both the operative plumb and level, as depicted in the Masonic representations, depend upon the force of gravity for their operation. (If this is not clear, ask your instructor to explain.) The symbolic level and plumb are also dependent upon a universal principle, in this case, that Divine and moral purpose which Freemasons believe pervades the whole universe. The square is closely associated with both the level and the plumb. Its significance lies in providing the builder a means of testing that perfect relationship which exists between the horizontal and the perpendicular.


The Plumb The plumb as a symbol appears in the Old Testament (see Amos 7: 78). The symbolic meaning of the plumb in the Book of Amos is one of judgment: a judgment of uprightness. Such a judgment may appear straightforward, but, as in all such situations which involve the complexities of life. The judging of uprightness in both ourselves and in others is never a simple operation. A man must judge himself and, in turn, be judged by others according to the most upright principles that he knows. Freemasonry teaches that while an uprightness of character is a deeply personal matter, there are outward standards of conduct which involve the tenets of our profession as masons and the cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. It is to these standards of rectitude that each mason must compare his conduct when applying the plumb to test the course of his actions and the value of his opinions.


The Level The level is a symbol of equality. Again the mason must consider what is implied when we speak of equality and employ the symbol of the level. What is the basis for the concept of human equality of which Freemasons speak and upon which they endeavor to base their dealing with other human beings? Certainly it is not a naive assumption that all humans are born with equal potentials for that equality can be assured by taking the, awards from those who achieve giving them to non-achievers. The Masonic concept of equality is based upon recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings as individuals and as members of the human family as created by God. Equality thus involves not only the right to equal opportunity but the right to genuine respect for all based upon "the internal and not the external qualifications."


The equality of the level transcends any supposed differences of race, gender, ability, honors, or material acquisitions.


The Square Of all the symbols prominent in the teachings of Freemasonry, none is more ancient or widespread in its common use than the square. Yet for all its use, what is the meaning of the symbolic square? To say that the square symbolizes honesty in thought and conduct is only to introduce the meaning of the square. To reiterate that, the 'symbolic square is linked closely to the level and the plumb is only to suggest its implications. "To act upon the square" is a phrase which involves the whole meaning of being a Freemason. To constantly be aware that each act, each thought, and each impulse should be tested for its true relationship to our purpose as masons is the proper application of the moral and symbolic square,. To "try" with a square is a fine old word meaning a repeated application of that instrument to see if one is achieving the "right angle" relationships intended. To "try" our lives, thoughts and actions by the symbolic square is to test how closely we are living to the principles symbolized by the plumb and the level and which are given voice in the moral teachings of Freemasonry.


There is a very old saying among masons that in parting each others company, they do so "on the square." Though they depart in many directions, they take with them that symbolic instrument which will assure that their actions will be a continuation of a common purpose as builders of well-being and that they shall return in proper relationship to the intentions of the Grand Architect.

Note: For further consideration of the plumb, level and square ask your instructor for references to the many sources on this subject.
















Masonic thinkers often point out that the three degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry, the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason Degrees, can be associated with man's passage through life: youth, manhood, and age. In such a view, the Fellow Craft represents adulthood.


1. Does adulthood mean having lived through a certain number of years or does it represent a condition in which a man has become acquainted with the realities, the responsibilities, the disillusionments, and the rewarding challenges of life? A Fellow Craft, as our ritual describes him, is a hewer in the mountains, a man laboring in the midst of life and being put to the test of whether he shall be proven adequate. As an adult his life is in the balance. Will he find in life's experience a joy and reward or defeat and drudgery?


2. Experience and education are two important contributors to the state of adulthood. Through his senses and contact with life around him, man learns the lessons of experience. Through education, a man's awareness and understanding are greatly extended by means of the experience of others. A Fellow Craft will recall that both experience and education are principal concerns in this Degree, and that there is a third concern toward which the progress of that degree continually travels that concern is the quest for wisdom.


3. Experience brings us into direct contact with life; education expands our knowledge and competencies, but there is a greater and essential element. To make meaningful the varied experiences which come our way, to see ourselves and others in a fair perspective, to feel that our lives have a meaning associated with that which is far greater than ourselves, involves wisdom.


4. If a man is to acquire wisdom, it is by a winding and upward climb and arduous progress involving caring and sacrifices, knowledge and understanding, faith and communion.


5. In adulthood it will be made evident whether a man has discovered for himself that "pass" which will admit him into the Middle Chamber where dwells the source of wisdom and universal meaning and there he will receive the wages of joy and fulfillment.

For further discussion see the Masonic Service Association's Tried and Proven.






 The internal not the external qualifications.

 Adherence to duties and the value of these duties.

 Laws and Regulations to be strenuously supported.

 You are to judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice.

 The great value of the liberal arts.

 Geometry and the demonstration of the properties of nature and the truths of morality.

 VI Expectations placed upon the new Fellow Craft.











Abide (v) - be faithful to

Adherence (n) - the act of sticking together; devoted

Admonish (v) - to remind as of duty or obligation

Adorn (v) - to furnish with ornaments; to increase the beauty of

Affirm (v) - to make a statement and maintain it to be true

Allude (v) - to refer; imply; to make indirect reference

Candor (n) - freedom from prejudice; fairness

Chapter (n) - the upper member of a column or pillar

Conflagration (n) - destruction by burning; a great or extensive fire

Contrive (v) - to plan ingeniously; devise; invent

Contemplative (adj.) - to look at attentively; to consider thoughtfully

Consecrate (v) - to set apart as sacred; to make reverent or hallow

Cubit (n) - an ancient measure of length, represented by the length of the forearm, about 18 to 20 inches.

Delineate (v) - to draw an outline; trace out; to portray; depict

Denomination (n) - a class designation; name

Deportment (n) - conduct or behavior; demeanor

Derive (v) - to draw or receive from a source

Discern (adj.) - quick to see a distinction or difference; recognize

Edifice (n) - a large structure of impressive architecture; a building

Evasion (n) - the result of evading; equivocation

Fraught (adj.) - full; laden

Inclemency (n) - harsh, severe weather; also rigor

Inundation (n) - a flood; submerged in water

Logic (n) - the science of valid and accurate thinking

Magnitude (n) - great size or extent; importance

Palliate (v) - to lessen the importance of; conceal

Pilaster (n) - a rectangular column, with base and capital, engaged in a wall

Pommel (n) - a knob or ball at the end of an object

Preferment (n) - the act of promoting to higher office

Proficiency (n) - the state of having thorough knowledge of some art or skill

Resolution (v) - courage; determination; purpose

Repositories (n) - a place in which secrets or valuables are or may be stored

Reprehend (v) - to find fault with; blame

Revere (v) - to regard with reverence; admire

Rhetoric (n) - to speak wisely and fluently with force and eloquence

Salutary (adj.) - wholesome; healthful; useful

Summons (n) - a notice to a person requiring him to act or appear

Sundry (adj.) - miscellaneous; various; several

Symmetry (n) - the element of beauty in nature or art that results from such arrangements and balancing

Unerring (adj.) - making no mistakes; sure; accurate

Vicissitude (n) - a complete change; alternating change or succession, as of the seasons



Fellow Craft Quiz - 20 Questions

Test Your Knowledge of the Fellow Craft Degree!



1. The Fellow Craft Degree symbolizes what period of man's life?

a. Youth

b. Manhood

c. Age

d. Transitional



2. What does the Level symbolize?

a. Honesty

b. Morality

c. Equality

d. Solemnity



3. What does the Plumb symbolize?

a. Uprightness of conduct

b. Uprightness of admission

c. Uprightness of character

d. Uprightness of truthfulness



4. What are the names of the two pillars at the entrance of King Solomon’s Temple?

a. Daniel and Elijah

b. Aaron and Moses

c. Abraham and Joseph

d. Boaz and Jachin



5. What do the “Winding Stairs” represent as a whole?

a. Unity, Faithfulness and Elation

b. Inquiring mind, Toiling and Laboring

c. Journey of Life

d. Uprightness of conducting one’s actions



6. What do the first three steps represent?

a. Entrance to King Solomon’s Temple

b. The three great lights

c. Master’s station in the east

d. The three principal officers of the Lodge



7. What do the next five steps represent?

a. The five orders of architecture

b. The five principal officers of the Lodge

c. The five lesser lights

. The five working tools of a Fellow Craft



8. What do the final seven steps represent?

a. The seven liberal arts and sciences

b. The seven degrees in Freemasonry

c. The seven years in Masonic development

d. The seven penalties of the obligation



9. What is taught on the journey to the Middle Chamber?

a. Ignorance to enlightenment

b. Passage of time

c. Manhood to Age

d. Journey to King Solomon’s Temple



10. What is meant by the term "Middle Chamber"?

a. Symbolic second floor of King Solomon’s Temple

b. Symbolic next step to the Fellow Craft Degree

c. Symbolic place of reward

d. The Symbolic rooms found in the First Book of Kings



11. What is the significance of the letter “G”?

a. A symbol of geometry and a Holier Significance

b. That man is reminded that God is in all nature but not in every man

c. Goodness is always present

d. Because it is an emblem worn by Masons in England



12. What are the responsibilities of a Fellow Craft?

a. To acquire the symbolic uses of corn, wine and oil

b. To acquire man’s understanding from ignorance to enlightenment

c. To acquire the symbolic meaning of the letter “G”

d. To acquire knowledge and apply that knowledge to your duties in life



13. What is emphasized in the Fellow Craft Degree?

a. Symbolically entering another world

b. Symbolically teaching Charity

c. Symbolically passing from youth to age

d. Symbolically passing from youth to manhood



14. When did we start to transform from Operative to Speculative Masons?

a. 1400’s

b. 1500’s

c. 1600’s

d. 1700’s



15. Where was the first Grand Lodge formed?

a. Dublin, Ireland

b. Glasgow, Scotland

c. Manchester, England

d. London, England



16. How does a Fellow Craft wear the Apron?

a. With the flap turned down

b. With the flap turned up

c. With one corner of the flap turned up

d. It does not matter



17. What are the principle working tools of a Fellow Craft?

a. The Plumb, the Square and the Level

b. The Level and the Plumb

c. The Gavel and the Square

d. The Gavel and the Twenty-Four Inch Gauge



18. The “Square” is an instrument of what?

a. Virtue

b. Harmony

c. Honesty

d. Charity



19. How many Orders of Architecture are there?

a. 3

b. 5

c. 7

d. 9



20. How many Liberal Arts are there in Freemasonry?

a. 3

b. 5

c. 7

d. 9




Fellow Craft Quiz Answers