Page 10 - Education Programs
P. 10

However, there is a limit to the amount of interpretation that should be affixed to Masonic symbols.
If a symbol is not understood to represent a common concept for all Masons, then the symbol has
lost its purpose. If not, one can begin to “find” meaning in a symbol far beyond the intent of the
symbol. This is a trap that one finds many Masonic writers have fallen into inadvertently. Those
who have explored Masonic symbols looking for hidden meanings assuming the symbols are
abstract, mysterious, uncertain, or vague have missed the point. After all, a symbol represents an
idea or a concept and is effective only if those observing the symbol understand it.

In addition, one must realize that symbolism and the teaching of symbolism is not the primary
purpose of Freemasonry. Symbols are a means to an end, signposts pointing to values, ideas, and
concepts that they, themselves, do not possess. Those who declare that Masonry delivers its lessons
solely in symbolic form are mistaken. The lessons of Freemasonry are included in the ritualistic
ceremonies of the three degrees, which are delivered, in plain language and most are also included
in the public or monitorial portions of the ceremonies. Symbolism is merely a tool of Masonic
ritualism and not an end or purpose of Masonry.

An informed Mason is a better Mason and there are numerous books and articles written that assist
the Mason in understanding the symbolism of the ritualistic ceremonies. The following is just a
sampling of references that can assist in enhancing one’s understanding of Masonic symbols.

         • Monitor of the Lodge: Monitorial Instructions in the Three Degrees of Symbolic
             Masonry, The Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.&A.M., Waco, TX (1982).

         • Roberts, Allen: The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism,
             Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., Richmond, VA (1974).

         • Coil, Henry W. revised edition by Roberts, Allen: Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia,
             Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., Richmond, VA (1996).

         • Horne, Alex: Sources of Masonic Symbolism, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply
             Company, Inc., Richmond, VA (1981).

         • Transactions of the Texas Lodge of Research, Texas Lodge of Research, The Grand of
             Texas, A.F.&A.M., Waco, TX.

         • Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, United
             Grand Lodge of England, London, England.

         • Short Talk Bulletins, Masonic Service Association of North American, Burtonsville,

No one doubts that there is symbolism in Freemasonry. It is the lifeblood of the Craft. It is what
distinguishes Freemasonry from other fraternal organizations. It is the primary vehicle by which
the ritualistic ceremonies teach Masonic philosophy and moral lessons. The ultimate end of
Freemasonry, of course, is the teaching of morality, ethics, and truth and the use of symbols helps
achieve that end. Those who study Freemasonry will have a better understanding of the ceremonies
of the Craft, of the symbolism woven into the entire fabric of Freemasonry, and develop a deeper
appreciation of the meaning of the ceremonies that led him to becoming a Master Mason.

   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15