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Phoenix Chapter No. 34 my Mark Master Mason Initiation and Official Visit
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I was initiated, and advanced to the honourary Degree of a Mark Master Mason by Phoenix Chapter No. 34, Cookstown, ON.
Probably the most beautiful symbol of Freemasonry is that of the Keystone!
It does not appear in the symbolism of the Lodge, but is reserved for those degrees dealing with the Chapter and, its symbolism, where it is found in all but one of the degrees of that system. The reason for its absence in lodge symbolism is that the lodge deals with preparation for eternal life, whereas the Chapter deals with the completion. (This reminds me of the Jason Bourne movies which refer to him rebuilding his life)
Keystone Symbol – The Keystone is the symbol of completion.
For all practical purposes the Keystone is the last stone placed in the arch, and as such represents completion. The placing of the Keystone in the symbolic arch of the Chapter, represents the completion of the individual Temple which each craftsman is erecting.
True, the Temple material was destroyed, but it was only the symbol of the Spiritual Temple which can never be destroyed. Royal Arch Masonry efforts are towards building spiritual Temples and its ceremonies, its legends, and its teachings, while beautiful in themselves, are there for the sole purpose of teaching great spiritual truths.
Our spiritual Temple can be completed only by death, the great leveller, but if that Temple be built by plumb line, by level, and by square, we are taught that its foundations shall never crumble nor decay, and that when we have reached “that bourne from which no traveller returns” we may enjoy the fruits of our labours here on earth throughout the endless eons of time.
And we may add again, the Keystone, the emblem of completion, is the outstanding symbol of Masonic teaching!
Cookstown Masonic Temple.
THE WAGES OF AN ENTERED APPRENTICE – June 09, 1958
PRESENTED TO: PORT ARTHUR LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 499 BY HORNEPAYNE LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 636
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO.
THE WAGES OF AN ENTERED APPRENTICE:
The catechisms of the Craft and the conventional lecture on the Tracing Board of the Second Degree, all of which speak with that authority that belongs to age, tell us that the wages of an Entered Apprentice are Corn, Wine and Oil. Sometimes it is added that he received Corn for food, Wine for nourishment, and Oil for comfort. The broad difference that was thought to be set up between the Apprentice and the Fellowcraft apparently was that the Fellowcraft was paid in coin while the apprentice was paid in kind. I fear it would be difficult to produce any authority for this, and probably the distinction between the liaisons of the two degrees is the invention of some imaginative brother who may have got the hint from a practise that was not uncommon among early operatives. Two or three centuries ago the conditions of labour were laid down as firmly as they are today by our powerful trade unions. A master could not employ more than a certain very limited number of apprentices – often the number was restricted to one – and these apprentices were taken bound to serve their masters for a period of seven years. Not infrequently, alike in mason and other trades, the apprentice went into residence with his master and during the early years of his apprenticeship received no remuneration except board and lodging. Only when he became a journeyman, or Fellowcraft, and was free from the master who had taught him his business, was he entitled to wages in the form of cash. If, as it is possible, some elaborator of Freemasonry, got the hint here as to the remuneration of an apprentice one can easily understand that commonplace language such as “board and lodging” would not appeal to him, and that he would seek to ornament the matter with just such combination of words as “Corn, Wine and Oil.”
One of the traditions of the craft, dearly beloved by uncritical Freemasons, says that the whole number of workmen engaged on the Temple at Jerusalem amounted to 217,281 persons, and that of these 80,000 were Fellowcraft and 30,000 were Entered Apprentices – the latter of whom were arranged into one hundred lodges with three hundred members in each. This immense multitude was paid weekly on the sixth day of the week; and one tradition solemnly asserts that the 80,000 Fellowcraft toiled up the Winding Stair to the Inner Chamber to receive their wages. Mackey tells us in this “Lexicon” that the Fellowcraft “were paid in corn, wine and oil”, and the authors of “The Reflected Rays of Light upon Freemasonry” adopting the same view say “What could be more absurd than to believe that eighty thousand craftsmen had to ascend such a stair, to the narrow precincts of the Middle Chamber to receive their wages in Corn, Wine and Oil? “It is very evident that Mackey and the authors of “Reflected Rays” have misread the Lecture on the Second Tracing Board. It was the Entered Apprentice who received the corn, wine and oil and wherever he got it, he did not receive it in the Inner Chamber. To gain access to that apartment a workmen required the pass-grip and pass-word of a Fellowcraft, and it is obvious that no Entered Apprentice could have possessed these.
One may pause here for a moment to remark that according to another tradition, all the workers of every degree were paid in current coin. The total wage bill is alleged to have amounted to about £140,000,000 sterling, and it was distributed among the craftsmen on a progressive scale which was quite obviously adjusted on the principle of the more honour the more pay. At the one end of the industrial line stood the humble Entered Apprentices who received one shekel, or about 2s 3d of English money (.50) per day, while at the other end, was the Super-Excellent Mason who received 81 shekels per day, equal to about £9 2s 3d sterling (One Masonic author very generously described this as “only a fanciful speculation of some of our ancient brethren, “and we may return, therefore, to our Corn, Wine and Oil.
If I am right in my theory that the wages of an Entered Apprentice in Speculative Freemasonry were suggested by the board and lodging which were the reward of the operative youth while learning t his trade, I think it is clear that the person who fixed to Wages of the Speculative A found his material in the Volume of the Sacred Law. We read in the Second Chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles that when Solomon appealed to the King of Tyre for assistance in building the Temple, he said, “Behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil.” The offer of Solomon was accepted by the King of Tyre who replied “now, therefore, the wheat, and the barley, the oil and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants; and we will cut wood out of Lebanon as much as thou shalt need.” The account preserved. In the 5th Chapter of the first book of Kings, indicates that the gifts were made annually to Hiram’s work people, but there is a discrepancy as to the amount. In 1st Kings the Wines is omitted, and the oil is set down as “twenty measures” equal to about 1340 gallons, whereas the 20,000 baths of 2nd Chronicles were more than ten times as much, being the equivalent of about 165,000 gallons.
THE WAGES OF A FELLOW CRAFT MASON:
From The Grand Lodge Of Texas
During the second section of the Fellow Craft Degree, the new initiate is presented with the wages of a Fellow Craft Mason. He is told the reward for the Freemason who has observed the moral and divine law and not wasted his time in idleness or vice is to be corn, wine and oil. Such wages were indeed true in ancient days when corn, wine and oil represented wealth and were used for money. The Fellow Craft Mason received these wages, not in a literal sense, but symbolically.
In ancient days, "corn" was not what we think of as corn today. Instead it was a grain, such as wheat or barley, which was called corn. Thus, an ear of grain (corn) represents plenty. It is also a symbol of nourishment.
Wine is mentioned in Psalms 104 as something "that gladdens the heart of man" and, as such, can symbolize health and refreshment of body and spirit. On another level, wine can represent the completed and perfected human life. Wine starts as an inferior juice when newly pressed from the grape, representing youth or immaturity. But with time and through fermentation, it can become a completed product, wine. Wine represents the maturity of mind and spirit we should strive to obtain in our relationship with God, while the fermentation process symbolizes the struggles of life we encounter in developing that relationship.
The oil is olive oil, which was a necessity in ancient times as it served multiple purposes. It was used in the preparation of food, served as a medicine both internally and externally, and provided a source of light in the ancient oil lamps. In this view, oil can represent nourishment, health, and peace. As a food item, oil symbolizes nourishment for our physical bodies but also the moral development we as Freemasons should be striving to obtain. As a medicine or remedy, it represents physical health and the spiritual health (or joy) we obtain in our relationship to God. As a source of light, oil represents the physical and spiritual peace we obtain by overcoming the vices of life.
Taken as a whole, the corn, wine and oil represent both the physical and spiritual nourishment, refreshment and joy the Freemason receives for living an industrious life devoted to the service of God and his fellowman. The faithful Fellow Craft Mason is assured that his wages, his reward, shall not be just sufficient but plentiful to supply all of his physical, moral, and spiritual needs. He will have health of body, mind, and soul. He will enjoy peace in this life, in the hour of death, and in the life to come.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland
It is rewarding to know that we as Freemasons can answer the
question as to what induced us to become Master Masons, and one answer, of course, is to receive Master’s Wages.
Our Operative Brethren received their Master’s Wages in coin of the realm. Speculatives content themselves with intangible wages, and occasionally some are hard pressed to explain to the wondering initiate just what, in this practical age, a "Master’s Wages" really are.
The wages of a Master may be classified under two heads: first,
those inalienable rights which every Freemason enjoys as a result of payment of fees, initiation and the payment of annual dues to his Lodge; second, those more precious privileges which are his if he will but stretch out his hand to take.
The first right of which any initiate is conscious is that of
passing the Tyler and attending his Lodge, instead of being
conducted through the West Gate as a preliminary step to initiation. For a time this right of mingling with his new brethren is so engrossing that he looks no further for his Master’s Wages.
Later he learns that he has also the right of visitation in other
Lodges, even though it is a "right" hedged about with restrictions. He must be in good standing to exercise it.
Generally this right of visiting other Lodges is a very real part of
what may be termed his concrete Master’s Wages, and many are the Freemasons who find in it a cure for loneliness in strange places; who think of the opportunity to find a welcome and friends, where otherwise they would be alone, as wages of substantial character.
The opportunities to see and hear the beautiful ceremonies of
Freemasonry, to take from them again and again a new thought, are wages not to be lightly received. For him with the open ears and the inquiring mind, the degrees lead to a new world, since familiarity with ritual provides the key by which he may read an endless stream of books about Freemasonry.
"Master’s Wages" are paid in acquaintance. Unless a newly made Master Mason is so shy and retiring that he seeks the farthest corner of his Lodge-room, there to sit shrinking into himself, inevitably he will become acquainted with many men of many minds, always an interesting addition to the joy of life. What he does with his acquaintances is another story, but at least wages are there, waiting for him. No honest man becomes a Freemason thinking to ask the Craft for relief. Yet the consciousness that poor is the Lodge and sodden the hearts of the brethren thereof from which relief will not be forthcoming if the need is bitter, is wages from which much comfort may be taken.
Freemasonry is not, per se, a relief organisation It does not exist merely for the purpose of dispensing charity. Nor has it great funds with which to work its gentle ministrations to the poor.
Fees are modest; dues often are too small, rather than too large. Yet, for the Brother down and out, who has no fuel for the fire, no food for his hungry children, whom sudden disaster threatens, the strong arm of the fraternity stretches forth to push back the danger. The cold are warmed, the hungry fed, the naked clothed, the jobless given work, the discouraged heartened. "Master’s Wages" surely far greater than the effort put forth to earn them.
Freemasonry is strong in defence of the helpless. The widow and the orphan need ask but once to receive her bounty. All Brethren hope to support their own, provide for their loved ones, but misfortune comes to the just and the unjust alike. To be one of a world-wide Brotherhood on which widow and child may call is of untold comfort, "Master’s Wages" more precious than coin of gold.
Finally, it is the right of Mason’s burial. At home or abroad a
Freemason, known to desire it, is followed to his last home by
sorrowing Brethren who lay him away under the apron of the Craft and the sprig of Acacia of immortal hope. This, too, is "Wages of a Master".
"Pay the Craft their Wages, if any be due."
To some the practical wages mentioned are the important payments for a Freemason’s work. To others, the more tangible but none the less beloved opportunities to give, rather than to get, are the "Master’s Wages" which count the most.
Great among these is the Craft’s opportunity for service. The world is full of chances to do for others, and no man need apply to a Masonic Lodge only because he wants a chance to "do unto others as he would that others do unto him". But Freemasonry offers peculiar opportunities to unusual talents which are not always found in the profane world.
There is always something to do in a Lodge. There are always
committees to be served and committee work is usually thankless work. He who cannot find his payment in his satisfaction of a task well done will receive no "Master’s Wages" for his labours on Lodge committees.
There are Brethren to be taught. Learning all the "work" is a man’s task, not to be accomplished in a hurry. Yet it is worth the doing, and in instructing officers and candidates many a Mason has found a quiet joy which is "Master’s Wages" pressed down and running over.
Service leads to the possibility of appointment or election to the
line of officers. There is little use to speak of the "Master’s
Wages" this opportunity pays, because only those who have occupied the Oriental Chair know what they are. The outer evidence of the experience may be told, but the inner spiritual experience is untellable because the words have not been invented. But Past
Masters know! To them is issued a special coinage of "Master’s
Wages" which only a Worshipful Master may earn. Ask any of them if they were not well paid for the labour.
If practical "Master’s Wages" are acquaintance in Lodge, the
enjoyment of fellowship, merged into friendship, is the same payment in a larger form, Difficult to describe, the sense of being one of a group, the solidarity of the circle which is the Lodge, provides a satisfaction and pleasure impossible to describe as it is clearly to be felt. It is interesting to meet many men of many walks of life;
it is heart-warming continually to meet the same group, always with the same feeling of equality. High and low, rich and poor, merchant and farmer, banker and fisherman, doctor and ditch-digger, meet on the level, and find it happy – "Master’s Wages", value untranslatable into money.
Finally – and best – is the making of many friends. Thousands of
Brethren count their nearest and dearest friends on the rolls of the Lodge they love and serve. The Mystic Tie makes for friendship. It attracts man to man and often draws together "those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance". The teachings of brotherly love, relief and truth; of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice; the inculcation of patriotism and love of country, we everyday experience in a Masonic Lodge. When men speak freely those thoughts which, in the world without, they keep silent, friendships are formed. Count gain for work well done in what coin seems most valuable; the dearest of the intangibles which come to any Master Mason are those Masonic friendships of which there are no greater "Master’s Wages".
Portable Masonic Wages: From Phoenix Masonry
A portable leather case of corn, wine and oil is symbolic of the wages paid to a Fellow Craft Mason as he makes his way or "passes" through the middle chamber. The "corn, wine, and oil are emblematical of nourishment, refreshment and joy and teach us this important lesson… that we should be ever-ready to nourish the needy, refresh the destitute, and pour the oil of joy in the hearts of the afflicted."
The corn in the Masonic rituals is a synonym of grain or wheat. In ancient rituals was used as an emblem of the Greek goddess
Demeter, or of the Roman Cybelis. Both female figures were conceived as appearances of the Mother Earth. In Greek pottery someone can see that in festivities in honour of Demeter the priests and the faithful were crowned with ears of wheat. This symbolized the fertility of the earth, which with the grain gives the bread to the mankind. Thus was corn or grain according to this symbolism the personification of the idea of plenty, abundance, and due to the divine intervention promised fertility.
Following the same religious beliefs was wine the symbol of Greek God Dionysos. By drinking the wine the Dionysiac priests and initiated participants to the Bacchical mysteries were able to come to the psychic condition of "methexis" – a condition of holy madness -, so they could play the drama of ritual death and rebirth of Dionysos. The wine helped them to loose their identity and come as divine actors to a psychological situation, under which they understood hidden truths and the divine allegory by using their feelings and insights rather than their intellect. The wine was seen
as a symbol of joy, exaltation ,and as a mean towards the initiation through the emotion and the instinct, by acting in Bacchical rituals, after having eliminated the logic.
The oil was, as an extract of the olive fruit, a reward of the
Greek goddess of knowledge Athena – Pallas, who had as emblem, among others, the olive-tree. One of the principal uses of oil was to bring the light in homes, so it was seen in its more esoterical significance as a symbol of spiritual Enlightenment, in other words as a symbol of the eternal lantern of divine knowledge. In the same meaning was the oil a symbol of peace through Enlightenment. Plants of the olive tree were given as a reward to the winners of the Olympic games, during which every war must be breached. Thus Athena brought to
the faithful with the present of oil the reward of hidden knowledge, enlightenment and peace.
In the Biblical symbolism the three products possessed a similar meaning and significance to this of the Greco-roman world. King Solomon gave corn, wine and oil to the builders of the Temple as a reward for their labors. The ear of corn together with the flood of water personifies in the Hebrew word Shibboleth the abundance and wealth. The wine was seen as an element of consecration and a divine refreshment. The Hebrews anointed their Kings, Prophets and High Priests with oil mixed with other spices, because the oil was the major element of the ceremony, which was leading towards the path of the divine initiation.
In the Christian symbolism the corn refers to the bread and this
last one makes someone remember of the body of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, as well as the wine refers to the blood of him. The oil symbolizes the Baptism. The three substances are the most significant of the Christian initiation. In Christian Masonic
degrees these three rewards of the Mason bring with them the
remembrance of the Holy Passion and the promise of the Resurrection.
According to all above mentioned symbolical languages the Mason receives as a reward for his labors in the Lodge the present of grain, because he fertilized himself and all other Masons by working in the building of himself and the building of the Temple. He receives the wine to remember that through his emotion and instinct conquered the hidden knowledge by playing in the rituals the passions of God his symbolical murder and his eternal rebirth. Thirdly, he receives the oil to remember that he achieved at the end of the road the spiritual enlightenment, the baptism, and his inner peace as a reflection of the eternal peace of God.
Mark Master Degree – Its Ritual and Antiquity
R. E. Trebilcock
RITUAL OF THE MARK MASTER DEGREE:
The degree of Mark Master has continued with as few changes as any Masonic degree of which we have knowledge. It is impossible for anyone to specify accurately what the ritual consisted of previous to 1797, but in that year, Thomas Smith Webb issued the first complete Masonic Monitor which included the Capitular degrees.
We have before us, as we write, this first edition of Webb; in it he says of the degree:
The first section explains the manner of convocating and opening a Master Mark Lodge. It teaches the duties of the respective officers, and recapitulates the mystic ceremony of introducing a candidate. In this section is exemplified the regularity and good order that was observed by the craftsmen on Mount Libanus, and in the plains and quarries of Zeredathah, and ends with a beautiful display of the manner by which one of the principal events took place.
In the second section, the Master Mark Mason is particularly instructed in the history of this degree, and the increased obligation he is under to stretch forth his assisting hand to the relief of an indigent and worthy brother.
The distinguishing marks and characteristics are also explained and illustrated in this section. In the course of the lecture the following texts of Scripture are recited, viz.:
Then follow five quotations taken from Psalms, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts all having to do with the "stone which the builders rejected." In many jurisdictions this has been changed by using quotations which are not so monotonous, since references are made throughout the degree to the same passages.
The Charge which follows is identical with that in use to this day; the Parable of the Vineyard occupied an important place; and the Mark Master Song, as now used, was printed in full.
The degree of Mark Master in 1797 is that of 1964!
THE SCRIPTURE USED IN MARK DEGREE:
Quotations from the Scriptures appear very prominently throughout the ritual of the Mark Master degree, beginning with the opening and appearing also in the closing ceremonies.
These include extracts from I Peter, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Revelations, Matthew and Proverbs. In a few instances not all of the verse has been used, to enable it to fit into the ritual ceremony. A few changes are necessary so as to be inoffensive to any religious belief.
An instance of this appears in the opening ceremonies as taken from I Peter:
Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings; if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious; to whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious; ye also as lively (changed to "living") stones, be ye built up a spiritual house (change to "are built up, etc.), an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ("by Jesus Christ" stricken out to make acceptable to Hebrew and Moslem.)
Verse 3 is omitted entirely, having no connection with the ritual. Instead of continuing to quote from Peter, the next section jumps over to Isaiah 28:16:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God (changed to "Wherefore, also it is contained in the Scripture")
Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste to pass it over. ("to pass it over" is stricken out in the ritual.)
And there are changes made in verse 7 of I Peter, 2:
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious (ritual reads "it is an honor") but unto them which be disobedient (ritual says "and even to them which be disobedient,"), the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the comer.
And jumping to verses 15-17 of the same chapter, we read:
For so is the will of God (the ritual says "Brethren, this is the will of God"), that with well doing, ye may put to silence ("may" is left out of the ritual), the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke (spelled cloak in ritual), of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King. (The ritual says: "Honor all men; love the brotherhood; fear God.")
The Scripture of the perambulations is taken from Ezekiel 44, verses 1, 2, 3, and 5, and there is no change in the ritual from that of the Scripture. These passages refer to the vision of Ezekiel, to understand which we must refer to Ezekiel 40 v. 2-3:
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain … and he brought me thither, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass … and he stood in the gate (of the City of Jerusalem).
The "man" thereupon conducted him about the Temple giving information and instruction to Ezekiel, when, finally,
He brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.
Then follows verses 2, 3, and 5, omitting 4, which has no connection.
We encounter in the ritual, the following:
what you give, give freely, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.
The passage is taken from II Corinthians 9:7:
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
A passage from Ezekiel is twice used in the ritual (Ezekiel 44:5), where Ezekiel is told to listen carefully to all that has been said; this applies equally to the instruction being given the candidate:
Mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord, and all the laws thereof, and mark well the entering in of the house with every going forth of the sanctuary.
In the Revelation of St. John the Divine appears a passage of importance to the Mark Master. It is in Revelation 2:17, and refers to the message to the churches:
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he hath received it.
The white stone with the name written thereon is one of the principal pieces of furniture of a Mark Master lodge and its traditions and symbolism are carefully explained to each candidate. Not only did the "white stone" convey the name, but it was also the stone found necessary in completing the temple. Just so is the name essential for completing the spiritual temple.
And finally, we come to the beautiful parable of the vineyard, quoted exactly from Matthew 20:1-16. The quotation follows a conversation between Jesus and Peter, his disciple. The discussion is on the matter of everlasting life and the parable is used to impress upon Peter that whosoever seeks eternal life shall find it whether that search begins in youth, in manhood, or in age when one comes in "at the eleventh hour," "receiving as much as they who have borne the burden of the day."
How appropriately it is introduced into the Mark Master degree, only those who receive it, and study it, may know.
The closing passage of scripture is taken from Proverbs 3:1, and carries on the story of eternal life by calling attention to those things necessary to attain it.
Forget not God’s law; but let thine heart keep his commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
And what a fine theme on which to close a Masonic degree!
A MARK MASTER’S WORKING TOOLS:
Why were the chisel and mallet chosen as the working tools of a Mark Master? What particular relationship do these tools have with the degree of Mark Master?
First, let us see what we are told about these implements:
The Mallet morally teaches us to correct irregularities, and to reduce man to a proper level; so that, by quiet deportment, he may, in the school of discipline, learn to be content.
What the Mallet is to the workmen, enlightened reason is to the passions; it curbs ambition, depresses envy, moderates anger, and encourages good dispositions; whence arises among good Freemasons, that comely order, Which nothing earthly gives, or can destroy; The soul’s calm sunshine, and the heartfelt joy.
The Chisel morally demonstrates the advantages of discipline and education. The mind, like the diamond in its original state, is rude and unpolished; but as the effect of the Chisel on the external coat soon presents to view the latent beauties of the diamond, so education discovers the latent virtues of the mind, and draws them forth to range the large field of matter and space, to display the summit of human knowledge, our duty to God and to man.
A progressive study of Masonic working tools will show both a practical and a symbolic use of these instruments; this is the teaching of Freemasonry, and how well we absorb this teaching will decide how good a Freemason we are.
In the first place, their practical purpose is explained in the Mark Master lecture; but the candidate is not told that with these tools he can communicate with another brother, for it is with these instruments that he makes the Masonic cipher alphabet. It is with these instruments that he can place his individual mark upon each piece of work which he may complete for the building of the temple. And here for the first time he is taught individual responsibility. Heretofore he has been working for the combined interest of the human family; now he is taught that he has an individual responsibility, and that each piece of work which he presents has a distinct personal value; that his work must be square and true and that those who inspect will: through his mark, be able to detect imperfect work, or work presented by imposters.
But most important is the thought that each of us must perfect our own lives; that it is in our power to build a substantial structure or an imperfect one. Our lives are like blocks of stone which the sculptor, by striking off bits here and there, may form into a beautiful work of art, the value of which depends solely on the vision of the artist himself. The Chisel and Mallet are his instruments for producing his masterpiece. So, does the Mark Master, using his Chisel and Mallet as spiritual instruments, perfect his character by striking off all those vices and irregularities which mar a life, and reveal a perfect character, the finest gift one can offer to the Great Overseer.
In the lodge we are taught the value of each stone that goes into the temple, materially and spiritually. In the chapter we are taught that we are the architects of our own lives and that it is within our power to say whether that life be good or bad.
How important to us, as Freemasons, are the teachings of the Chisel and the Mallet which give us an insight into our duties and our possibilities!
THE ANTIQUITY OF THE MARK:
William J. Hughan, the most famous of the English Masonic historians says of the Mark degree:
The antiquity of Mark Masonry cannot be doubted. Operatively considered and even speculatively, it has enjoyed special prominence for centuries; records of the custom being followed by speculative brethren, according to existing records, dating back to 1600, in which year, on the 8th day of June, "Ye principal warden and chief master of maisons, Wm. Schaw, master of work to ye Kingis Maistie", met members of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Now No. 1) at Holyrood House, at which meeting the Laird of Auchinleck was present, and attested the minutes of the assembly by his Mark, as did the operatives, in accordance with the Schaw Statutes of December 28, 1598, which provided "That the day of reassauying (receiving) of said fellow of craft or master be ord’lie buikit and his name and Mark insert in the said buik."
Another minute book of the same lodge contains a list of members in 1767, setting out after each name the date on which the member received the degree of R.A. The earliest date given is 1745.
Turning to America, we find a reference in a minute book of a lodge in Virginia of the degree being conferred in 1753.
Castells in his book "Organization of the Royal Arch Chapter Two Centuries Ago" says, in his opening chapter, that
"The question of the fons et origo of our Supreme Degree is a problem; but we claim that we have solved it, for we have shown in previous works that the Royal Arch is only a dilution of Kabbalism."
Let us see on what this claim is founded. He admits in his preface that he had only at his disposal "a few scraps of information, which are like the tiny bits of a jigsaw puzzle, most difficult to combine into a pictorial design," but he believes he has put them together in the right order. But do the scraps of information justify the conclusion at which he has arrived?
The Kabbala was a secret science of the Jewish Rabbis for the interpretation of the hidden meaning of the scriptures, claimed to be handed down by oral tradition.
In his chapter on the Kabbalistic Degrees, the author refers to an ancient work known as the Sepher-ha-Zohar, a book that appeared in Spain in the thirteenth century. The copies of this book (there are two or three still in existence) were in the manuscript of a professional copyist, who apparently had an earlier copy in his possession.
The subject matter is undoubtedly considerably older than the 13th century, but probably had been handed down by tradition and reduced to writing only in then comparatively recent times. It professes to be the work of one Simeon bin Jochai who lived in the first century A.D.
Speaking of the first word with which we of the R.A. are familiar, Simeon says,
"Now come and see the mystery of the Word. There are Three Degrees (in the word) and each Degree, exists by itself, and although the Three constitute One, they are closely united into One, and are inseparable from each other."
Simeon was discussing the word, and had explained that there were three ways of writing it:
The simple four-lettered word, without points;
The same four letters with certain vowels, taken from another sacred word;
The same with the vowel points of still another sacred word.
From this Castells infers "that the unwritten word of Kabbalism. consisted of three particles, or syllables, each one being capable of standing by itself; and as it had a meaning of its own, it could be considered either singly or separately. The three syllables, however, formed one word, and were actually united and inseparable. This answers exactly to the Word which the R.A. Companions know of."
So far we may, perhaps, agree with Castells, but he goes further, and claims that "The statement of the Zohar implies that each part of the Sacred Word was communicated and shared piecemeal by the three who bore sway among the old time companions, and this was done by them as they passed successively from chair to chair, until the climax was reached when the whole Word became known."
He submits, therefore, that the passage refers to the Second Word with which we are familiar "which was the Masonic Word" of the seventeenth century.
I would like to be able to agree with Castells in this last deduction, but I am afraid he has built too much on very slender premises.
Be that as it may, he proves nothing. The first Word (except as to its correct pronunciation) is known to all the world, and has so been known for many centuries, so the possession of it by the R.A. does not indicate that it came from the Kabbalists. As to the second word, Castells’ claim that it was possessed by the Kabbalists is entirely without foundation.
Further, there is more in our traditions than the knowledge of a word — the tradition as to the finding of what was lost. Even Castells does not suggest that the Kabbalists had a tradition of a loss of something important and its subsequent discovery. If it could be shown that they had, then the conclusion that our Order was a descendant of Kabbalism would be almost irrefutable.
"the analysis of Kabbalism … leaves no room for doubt … Kabbalism in this country (England) degenerated and gave rise to Freemasonry…. Our views have now been before Masonic students for some years, and if there be any fallacy in them, let those who can disprove them."
The fallacy is obvious. He has based his views on insufficient data; the "tiny bits" of his "jigsaw puzzle" are too few and too small to warrant the picture he has built out of them.
No, we can trace the Royal Arch back with certainty to a few years before 1744 (say 1740), and the place, England. It is probably very much older, but there we must leave it. Some day, perhaps, some old manuscript may turn up which will give it still greater antiquity, but it is not likely.
Kenzo’s Birthday gift in honor of 9/9/99
Image by Neeta Lind
I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of this but I’m pretty proud that I thought of a great ribbon idea that won’t arrived smashed in the mail.
Hidden Nature S2
Image by Alkhymeia
I love how nature explodes in my imaginary world 😀
A polymer clay creation 100% handmade.
Find me no facebook 🙂