Category Archives: Education

August 2017 Stated Communication

It was with heavy heart that the Brothers of Elvin E. Helms Lodge No. 926 assembled for our Lodge’s first stated meeting following the death of our Master, Buddy Wallace.  Our Senior Warden, Worshipful Bro. Jason Wallace, presided as Acting Master.  Our charter was draped in Bro. Buddy’s memory.

Worshipful Bro. Dave Regan of Latonia Lodge No. 746 presented Worshipful Bro. Ed Tanner with a plaque honoring his years of service to the Covington Scottish Rite 31st Degree Team.  Bro. Ed is a 50 year Scottish Rite Mason.

We had a nice turnout of visitors from other Lodges.  We always appreciate our Brothers who make the trip to Petersburg and we try to be sure that our guests feel welcome and at home!

Pictured above are Bro. Ernie Stratton (304, 926), Dave Regan (746), Larry York (220, 362), Robby Ratliff (362, 694), Jason Wallace (926, 264), Ed Tanner (304, 926), Chuck Yocom (746), Brian Carroll (95), Gary Caldwell (362), Cliff McKinley (362) and Ira Brockman (746).

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2017 Masonic Society Conference 1/2

The Masonic Society Conference
Lexington, Kentucky – Embassy Suites – September 7-10, 2017
PROGRAM
Thursday, September 7
* Noon – 5 p.m. Early Check-In and Registration
* 7:00 p.m. Welcome Reception (Room TBA at check in)
(Sponsored by The Masonic Society, Lexington Lodge No. 1, The Rubicon Masonic Society, The Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite Orient of Kentucky, Paintsville Lodge N0. 381, Ted Adams and William O. Ware Lodges
of Research)
Friday, September 8 Session
* 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Registration
Late reservations for Festive Board for Friday evening
Drawing Tickets for antique Kentucky long rifle (to be drawn at Festive Board)
Sign up for Kentucky Horse Park Tour (time TBA)
Sign up for Tour of the Ashland Estate – Home of Henry Clay (time TBA)
MORNING SESSION
* 9:00 a.m. Opening Session (Room TBA)
* Welcome and Introductions – The Masonic Society & Co-Sponsors
Opening Presentation: Thomas W. Jackson – The History of the Future of Freemasonry
* 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 Presentation (Room TBA) Mark Allen Tabbert – American
Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities
* Lunch 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
AFTERNOON SESSION
1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Room TBA) Jordan Yelinek – Developing Lodges in the 21st
Century
* 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 pm. (Room TBA) Facilitated Panel Discussion: Christopher Hodapp,
Richard A. Graeter, Cameron Poe, John Bizzack
– The Next 100 Hundred Years of Freemasonry
EVENING EVENT – Festive Board
Formal Festive Board sponsored by Lexington Lodge No. 1 and The Rubicon Masonic
Society at Spindletop Hall. Reservations must be made in advance – seating is limited.
Transportation provided if needed.
NOTE: Festive Board is not Tyled. Required Dress: black tie or business attire.
Evening Itinerary
* Reception 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. (cash bar)
* Call to Dining 7:30 p.m.
* Introductions, Orientation – Director of Ceremonies
* Dinner, Toasts, Songs
* Keynote Speaker: Andrew Hammer – The Heart, Mind, and Soul of Freemasonry
* Closing Toasts, Drawing for Kentucky Long Rifle, Remarks
* Retire to Veranda. Open cash bar till 11:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 9 Session
MORNING SESSION
* 9:00 am -10:15: Presentation (Room TBA) Allan Casalou – A Tender Branch: The
Masonic Lodge in 21st Century America
* 10:30 – 11:50 Presentation (Room TBA) Oscar Alleyne – The Prevalence of Clandestine
Freemasonry in the United States
* LUNCH 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
* 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (Room TBA) Jon Ruark – The Revelation: A Critical Analysis of
Masonic Demographics
* 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. (Room TBA) Patrick Craddock – Admit Him if Properly Clothed:
Three Centuries of American Masonic Regalia
The evening of September 9th is free
Sunday, September 10 Session
* 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Room TBA) Panel Discussion
Conference Ends

2017 Masonic Society Conference 2/2

The Masonic Society Conference
Lexington, Kentucky – Embassy Suites – September 7-10, 2017
PROGRAM
Thursday, September 7
* Noon – 5 p.m. Early Check-In and Registration
* 7:00 p.m. Welcome Reception (Room TBA at check in)
(Sponsored by The Masonic Society, Lexington Lodge No. 1, The Rubicon Masonic Society, The Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite Orient of Kentucky, Paintsville Lodge N0. 381, Ted Adams and William O. Ware Lodges
of Research)
Friday, September 8 Session
* 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Registration
Late reservations for Festive Board for Friday evening
Drawing Tickets for antique Kentucky long rifle (to be drawn at Festive Board)
Sign up for Kentucky Horse Park Tour (time TBA)
Sign up for Tour of the Ashland Estate – Home of Henry Clay (time TBA)
MORNING SESSION
* 9:00 a.m. Opening Session (Room TBA)
* Welcome and Introductions – The Masonic Society & Co-Sponsors
Opening Presentation: Thomas W. Jackson – The History of the Future of Freemasonry
* 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 Presentation (Room TBA) Mark Allen Tabbert – American
Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities
* Lunch 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
AFTERNOON SESSION
1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Room TBA) Jordan Yelinek – Developing Lodges in the 21st
Century
* 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 pm. (Room TBA) Facilitated Panel Discussion: Christopher Hodapp,
Richard A. Graeter, Cameron Poe, John Bizzack
– The Next 100 Hundred Years of Freemasonry
EVENING EVENT – Festive Board
Formal Festive Board sponsored by Lexington Lodge No. 1 and The Rubicon Masonic
Society at Spindletop Hall. Reservations must be made in advance – seating is limited.
Transportation provided if needed.
NOTE: Festive Board is not Tyled. Required Dress: black tie or business attire.
Evening Itinerary
* Reception 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. (cash bar)
* Call to Dining 7:30 p.m.
* Introductions, Orientation – Director of Ceremonies
* Dinner, Toasts, Songs
* Keynote Speaker: Andrew Hammer – The Heart, Mind, and Soul of Freemasonry
* Closing Toasts, Drawing for Kentucky Long Rifle, Remarks
* Retire to Veranda. Open cash bar till 11:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 9 Session
MORNING SESSION
* 9:00 am -10:15: Presentation (Room TBA) Allan Casalou – A Tender Branch: The
Masonic Lodge in 21st Century America
* 10:30 – 11:50 Presentation (Room TBA) Oscar Alleyne – The Prevalence of Clandestine
Freemasonry in the United States
* LUNCH 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
* 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (Room TBA) Jon Ruark – The Revelation: A Critical Analysis of
Masonic Demographics
* 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. (Room TBA) Patrick Craddock – Admit Him if Properly Clothed:
Three Centuries of American Masonic Regalia
The evening of September 9th is free
Sunday, September 10 Session
* 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Room TBA) Panel Discussion
Conference Ends

July 2017 Stated Communication

The July stated meeting of Elvin E. Helms Lodge saw a full house present to remember two of our departed Brothers and to enjoy some of the finest Masonic Education available anywhere in the world.

Our Lodge’s charter was draped in memory of Bro. Al McWethy, a 67-year member of our Lodge who died on June 28, and Bro. Garry Kelly, a 52-year member of our fraternity who died on July 5.  Well done, good and faithful servants!

After a fine meal of beef stew prepared by Bro. Ed Tanner, the Lodge enjoyed an excellent presentation by Bro. John Bizzack, Senior Warden of Lexington Lodge No. 1.  We were honored to have eight Brothers from Lexington No. 1 at our meeting!  Bro. Bizzack, one of the premier voices in Masonic Education worldwide, gave a presentation was titled “Why We Do What We Do and Why We Don’t Do What We Did.”  Bro. John spoke about how periods of rapid expansion in American Freemasonry resulted in diluted versions of ritual and practices.  Subsequent cultural changes have further caused the Craft to lose many of its traditions and practices.  Bro. Bizzack reminded the Craft that as Masons, we are part of an institution of higher learning and he called for the Fraternity to seek and restore its lost traditions.

Bro. Bizzack has just released his most recent book, Island Freemasonry, which is available through all major booksellers.

Our District Deputy Grand Master, Worshipful Bro. Kevin Schneider, was in attendance and announced plans for the District 18 Picnic.  The Picnic will be at Richardson Road Park, 3415 Richardson Road, Independence, Kentucky, on Saturday, July 29 starting at 12:00 P. M.  This is an event for families and friends, as well as Masons.  The park is “kid friendly,” so it is a good venue for families.

Our Lodge’s next meeting is on August 8.  Worshipful Bro. Rodney Epperson of N. C. Harmony Lodge No. 2 is Miamitown, Ohio, will be our featured speaker for the evening.  See you at Lodge!

June 2017 Stated Communication

Among other activities, our June Stated Communication is when our Bernard Hogan Essay Contest winners present their essays. This year’s winner, Brevin Martin, was in attendance with his family to present his essay to the Lodge.


Freemasonry in the American Revolution
by Brevin Martin

Freemasons have been in the United States since its inception; some even say that Freemasons helped bring about the founding of the United States through the American Revolution. Masonic Temples were used for meetings. Members from both sides of the Revolution were welcome and actively participated in Masonic meetings without politics being involved. Others are convinced that the American Revolution itself started in Masonic meetings with discussion of unfair British policies and how to combat them. Not all of the major “players” in the Revolution were Freemasons, but many of them were. Ten signers of the Articles of Confederation, nine signers of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen signers of the Constitution, and four Presidents of the Continental Congress were — or later became — Freemasons. The brotherhood of the Masons and the trust established be being a Freemason helped people who didn’t otherwise know each other to become loyal confidants. Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are well-known names from the American Revolution…they were also Freemasons!

John Hancock was a wealthy businessman who decided to get involved with politics by securing political office in Boston and then the colonial legislature in Massachusetts. Paul Revere — a silversmith and not of the elite social class of John Hancock — was a Senior Grand Deacon in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and was a good friend of Joseph Warren, Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. They became friends due, in large part, to their membership in the St. Andrews Lodge (Boston, Massachusetts). Samuel Adams was a graduate of Harvard and came from a very politically-active family in Boston. A lead of the Sons of Liberty — and kind of a troublemaker — Adams frequently challenged British policies. All four of these men were Freemasons and belonged to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. At the time Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere to warn John Hancock and Sam Adams that the British regulars were marching to Concord, Hancock and Adams had warrants issued for their arrest. Without being in the brotherhood of Freemasons, the American Revolution may have had a completely different outcome. All of these men were active members of the Freemasons until their deaths.

There were many notable Freemasons involved with the American Revolution, but George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are among the most well-known. George Washington would be the “celebrity” by today’s standard, but Benjamin Franklin did more for the Masonic organization.

George Washington’s influence on American history is inestimable. He was the Commander of the Continental Army, served as President of the Constitutional Convention, and later became the first President of the United States. He was a devout mason; he was first initiated in 1752 in the lodge of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He remained an active member until his death in 1799. He rose to the level of Master of the Alexandria Lodge No. 22 (which was subsequently renamed the “Alexandria-Washington” Lodge No. 22). Washington surrounded himself with Freemasons; he used a Masonic Bible from the St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1 (New York City), and his oath was given by Robert Livingston, a prominent Mason and the Chancellor of New York. Livingston later served as one of five members of the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. George Washington even incorporated Masonic practices as he and other members of the Maryland and Virginia Masonic Lodges laid the cornerstone of the US Capitol building.

Benjamin Franklin joined the Masonic Lodge of St. John in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1732 and remained an active member until his death. He eventually became Grand Master of his lodge as well as Grand Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris, France. He joined the Parisian lodge while serving as a diplomat in France. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin traveled to other European countries to attend different Masonic Lodges and meetings. He was well-known for serving on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and his work in the Continental Congress, but he was just as dedicated to his Masonic Lodge. He created its bylaws and he also published the Constitution of the Free-Masons.

In conclusion, Freemasons helped create the United States of America, helped form the foundation of our laws and beliefs, and much of the Founders’ creative thinking can be traced to the fundamentals of Freemasonry. The fact that these men belonged to the same fraternal organization gave them the opportunity to interact with other Masons and crate and important connection, vital to the formation of our nation. Found fathers and historical figures, Freemasons truly shaped the very concept of the United States of America.


Worshipful Brother Kemble presents Chase Martin with his first place prize and plaque. Pictured above, left to right: Dan Kemble, P.M., Secretary; Brevin “Chase” Martin; Buddy Wallace, Master.
Pictured above, left to right: Doug Logan, History teacher at Cooper High School; Don Martin; Brandon Martin; Rose Martin; Buddy Wallace, Master; Right Worshipful Brother Gary Rose, Grand Senior Warden, Grand Lodge of Kentucky.

Right Worshipful Brother Gary Rose, Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky was our guest speaker for the evening. He spoke briefly on a series of interesting topics to get everyone thinking then opened the floor for questions and discussion.

May 2017 Stated Communication

The Brothers of Elvin E. Helms No. 926 met in Stated Communication on May 9, 2017. Our Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master Kevin Schneider of Bradford No. 123 was our guest speaker for the evening.

Pictured above, left to right: Kevin Schneider, District Deputy Grand Master, District 18, Grand Lodge of Kentucky; Worshipful Master Buddy Wallace.

Seven Kinds of Ashlars

Tonight Brothers, I want to discuss “The Seven types of Ashlars used in Masonry”

• Bastard
• Rough
• Common
• Perfect
• Raised
• Positioned
• Cemented

Bastard Ashlar (0)
An Operative mason’s term for a stone that has been freed from the rubble that surrounds it, so that it can be taken to the building site -and- if selected be worked on.

Rough Ashlar (0/S)
A stone that is free of enough major imperfections that it can be worked by the builder to become suitable for use in the building. In speculative masonry the rough ashlar is a man who has been examined, he has been found free of major flaws. He is “accepted” to become a stone for our building.

Common Ashlar (0)
Once the rough ashlar is being worked on, it is referred to as the common ashlar. Any man who has undergone out initiation is a common ashlar.

Common – from Latin communis ” shared by all or many; general, not specific; familiar, not pretentious”

In our degree progression, this is a Brother who has been initiated. He should be acceptable to us all even if he did nothing to change himself.  However, our ritual directs him (us) to actually undergoing the transformation that occurs from using the working tools of an EA.

Positioned Ashlar (0)
An ashlar that has been raised to the proper height and has been set into its final place within a structure.

Perfect Ashlar (O/S)
An ashlar that is completely suitable for the builder’s use. It is ready in its own right to be a part of the build. This is a Brother who has completed the EA work and is an upright man and Mason when viewed externally and internally.

This is a Brother who is considered a proficient EA.

Raised Ashlar (0/S)
An ashlar which has been further adjusted by the Working Tools of the fellow.

Cemented Ashlar (0/S)
Stones that bound together to complete the building. Only perfected, true, and properly positioned stones are use because they can be most easily and permanently cemented together.

Tonight I want to focus on the Perfect Ashlar. The question is: Do we ever become a perfect ashlar? If so, when? Your thoughts?

To explore this a bit, let’s consider the term “perfect”. Think about the following phrases:

• Perfectly fine (it will do)
• Perfect Game (no hits or runs)
• Perfect Gentleman

Part of the problem is that words today are used differently that they were in the past (queer> odd, gay> happy). So, let’s take a look at the etymology of the word perfect:

perfect (v.)

“to bring to full development,” late 14c., parfiten, from perfect (adj.).

perfect (adj.)

early 15c. alteration of Middle English parfit (c. 1300), from Old French parfit “finished, completed, ready” (11c.), from Latin per “completely” (see per) + combining form of facere “to make, to do”

We even run into this term in religious writings:

The English Term Perfect:

Biblical and Philosophical Tensions– Dennis Bratcher (Christian Resource Institute)

 

The word “perfect” that we knock around so much in theological and biblical discussions is often misunderstood. We tend to apply an unqualified philosophical meaning to it and have it mean “without flaw” or “without error” or put it into other absolute categories. It then becomes easy to say that Jesus’ command in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:48), “Be therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect,” is a laudable goal, but one that is impossible for human beings to achieve. That is even easier to do from certain doctrinal or theological positions that assume human beings cannot ever respond to God beyond their contaminated sinful nature (see Body and Soul).

The problem in this thinking is that the Hebrew word (tam or tamim) does not carry the same meaning of “without flaw” in an absolute sense as does the term “perfect” in English. Tamim basically means complete or mature or healthy (for example, Lev 22:21). There are some sacrificial passages in the Priestly codes that describe animals acceptable for sacrifice as tamim. Some might take this in an absolute sense as “without flaw.” However, the sense is really
“healthy” in the sense of “free from any mark or damage” (BBE) or with “no blemish” (NRSV, KJV). In other words, it must be a healthy animal and not be lame or sick or one that has obvious deformities

That meaning of healthy, whole, or mature dominates most use of the equivalent Greek term in the New Testament (telos or tefeios). Something, or someone, can be complete, healthy, or mature yet not be “without flaw.” So, while there are places In the New Testament that translate the word telos as perfect, other places reveal that it carries the meaning of healthy or mature. For example, in Ephesians 4:13

4:13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Here the word translated “maturity” is the word teleios, which is the same word translated “perfect” in Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So part of the problem is this: we confuse “perfect” to mean flawless, instead of mature or healthy. So at what point in our masonic lifetime are we considered mature?

I point you to the three ages of man as pointed out by our ritual. We are considered “adults” as Fellowcraft.

What point are we considered suitable so that we can be adjusted to fit in with our Brethren? At the end of the EA. We are adjusted, as it references in the degrees, by the Plumb, the Square and the Level. The EA degree is about “perfecting ourselves”. The Fe degree is about adjusting ourselves to fit others, so that we can be raised. And only after we are “tried” and found “true” with others can we be cemented together.

Final Thoughts

Our process of improving a man requires us to only admit the best men to our lodges. Why?

Think about the nature of the EA working tools, the 24″ gauge and the gavel. And if we add in the “missing tool” from our continental brethren, the difference becomes more obvious. That being the chisel? In operative masonry, what are these tools used for? In speculative, how are they used?

The working tools of the EA teach us to remove excess stuff. The compasses in the EA teach us to limit ourselves. Even the four cardinal virtues when fully analyzed teach us limiting behaviors.

So I ask you one final question tonight Brothers. Is there any part of our lodge’s maturing and improvement process that adds to the man??

If our tools only remove the bad stuff, then perhaps that explains why the “common ashlars” that we select for our lodges must be high quality men who are truly prepared when they come to our worksite.

I want to thank Dr John Nagy, the author of the BBB series, for allowing me to use the reference about the 7 Kinds of Ashlars. I want to thank WB Kemble for inviting me tonight. Thank you to the WM for allowing me to have this time. And finally thanks to all of you here tonight for your attention and participation. I hope you found this useful.

The Chamber of Reflection: A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice

The Chamber of Reflection:

A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice

Roberto M. Sanchez
Full Member, Junior Warden, Texas Lodge of Research
District Deputy Grand Master 2013
Past Master, Gray Lodge No. 329 Houston, Texas
Past Master, St. Alban’s Lodge No. 1455 College Station, Texas
1678 Beaconshire Rd.
Houston, TX 77077
281-536-3231
rmsh13@yahoo.com

Though the initiation rituals of Freemasonry are universal with slight variation according to various Grand Lodge jurisdiction, most American lodges fail to incorporate one of the oldest traditions utilized to prepare candidates through the use of the chamber of reflection. Prior to 2009, the majority of Masons in the United States were unaware of the use of the chamber of reflection as an accepted preparation practice for the degrees. The chamber of reflection was not a phrase common to pop culture, or even a part of American Freemasonry. However, thanks to author Dan Brown and his best-selling thriller The Lost Symbol, it has become a growing trend in many American Masonic lodges. Those Freemasons who are members of the York Rite, more especially the Commandery, are tacitly familiar with the chamber of reflection. Yet, even these degrees provide scant explanation in any of the rituals. Somewhere in the transition towards a modern American society, the true intent of the chamber of reflection vanished into the mist of antiquity. It is the purpose of this author to explore the history, protocol, and traditions of the chamber of reflection. While traveling to several Grand jurisdictions in several different countries, I discovered that the chamber of reflection is very much alive where it has been continually practiced for years. Most of the brethren who received their initiations in Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, Middle East and Africa will be acquainted with the chamber of reflection. Lastly, the practice may be found in the degrees in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the French Rite, the Brazilian Rite and other rites derived from those listed.

In The Lost Symbol, a fictional thriller involving the Freemasons, Dan Brown introduces to the reader one of Freemasonry’s greatest initiatory tools – the chamber of reflection.

“The skull sat atop a rickety wooden desk positioned against the rear wall of the chamber. Two human leg bones sat beside the skull, along with a collection of other items that were meticulously arranged on the desk in shrine like fashion – an antique hourglass, a crystal flask, a candle, two saucers of pale powder, and a sheet of paper. Propped against the wall beside the desk stood the fearsome shape of a long scythe, its curved blade as familiar as that of the grim reaper… ‘This room is Masonic?’ Sato demanded, turning from the skull and staring at Langdon in the darkness. Langdon nodded calmly, ‘it’s called a Chamber of Reflection. These rooms are designed as cold, austere places in which a Mason can reflect on his own mortality. By meditating on the inevitability of death, a Mason gains valuable perspective on the fleeting nature of life.’ ”
Dan Brown goes on to paint a vivid picture of the meaning of the chamber of reflection and lists items found in such a place. But what did all of this mean to the Freemasons? How many American Freemason could actually identify the meaning of the items in this “secret room”?1

The chamber of reflection is not a new innovation but an ancient tradition older than the Craft itself. In Freemasonry, the chamber of reflection was originally found in the French and Scottish Rites. This small room, usually adjacent to the lodge, is the predecessor of what Freemasons, commonly call the “anteroom.” The purpose of the chamber of reflection is to give the candidate a chance to prepare himself for his initiation into the Fraternity. It is not just for the external preparation of the candidate, to put on the required garments, but for the internal mental preparation of the candidate. The candidate is encouraged through self reflection to contemplate what his motives are for joining the lodge. The chamber of reflection is exactly what it implies, a quiet room where the candidate is to meditate before his initiation. Isolation in this cavern-like room is where a symbolic metamorphosis is experienced, the neophyte emerges from this chamber symbolically transformed into a new person. It serves to separate the candidate of all earthly things, his family, his job, the superfluities of daily life, and makes him consider the notions of his own mortality. The chamber of reflection was intended to be the candidate’s very first experience in Masonry. However, it is important to note that the chamber of reflection is a preparation tool, and not part of the degree itself. 2

There are slight variations to the contents located within a chamber of reflection. For the context of this paper, the most common items as listed in the rituals of the French and Scottish Rite will be referenced. According to Albert Pike, the chamber of reflection “should be one story below the lodge room; and if possible, underground, with no window. The floor must, in any case, be of earth. On the walls should be brief sentences of morality, and maxims austere philosophy, written as if with charcoal.” The room should be completely dark, and the walls painted black or made to look like the interior of a cave. In the center of the room is placed a small wooden table, accompanied by a stool or uncomfortable wooden chair for the candidate to sit on. On the table the following items should be somberly placed: a single lit candle, a human skull and crossed tibia (leg bones), an hour glass, a small bell, a small loaf of bread, a basin of water, containers of salt, sulphur, and mercury, a mirror, papers, a quill pen and ink. In some chambers of reflection, there may be a picture or representation of a rooster instead of the mercury. Lastly the alchemical cipher V∴I∴T∴R∴ I∴O∴L∴, and the words “Know Thyself” should be written somewhere on the wall.3

The emblems and relics found in a chamber of reflection all have a very specific significance. Before expanding on these symbols, let us follow a candidate’s journey into the chamber of reflection on the day of his initiation into this tradition. First the candidate, dressed in suitable lodge attire (dark suit and tie) is brought to the lodge building by his sponsor. He must not meet any of the other Mason except the ones necessary. The Secretary and the Master of Ceremonies, (an officer who in some jurisdictions would be equivalent to the First Expert,) both dressed without any Masonic insignia, meet the candidate. The Secretary collects the necessary fees and returns to the lodgeroom. The Master of Ceremonies stays with the candidate, while the sponsor also goes into the lodgeroom. The Master of Ceremonies then blindfolds the candidate and introduces him into the chamber of reflection. He presents the candidate with a piece of paper with questions that the candidate must answer. The Master of Ceremonies indicates to the candidate that he must write on the paper his moral and philosophical testament. He then instructs the candidate that when he has finished this task, he should ring the bell, or give three knocks to acknowledge that he is ready to proceed with the rest of the initiation. He is also told that, once the door is closed, he should remove the hoodwink. At that time, the candidate sees the chamber and the objects described earlier.4

The chamber of reflection is an important symbol. It represents a womblike state, where the aspirant is to participate in his rebirth as an initiate, to indicate when the candidate emerges from the chamber, in the same manner as being born a new man. Thus, the chamber indicates at the same time, a beginning and an end. The end of the candidate’s life as a profane, and the beginning of a new life as an initiate in search of more light. According to Andrew Hammer, in his book Observing the Craft,

“Before ever knocking at the door of the Craft, the initiate was confronted with the gravity of his choice to join, so that any doubts he might have entertained could be acted upon. In this way he might be spared a commitment he has not truly resolved to make, and the Lodge spared a man who would not endure even the test of confronting himself, much less having the resolve to better that which he had confronted. He is put in darkness and isolation because both of these things together decrease the perception of time, and make a relatively short period of time seem much longer. Thus, when the initiate arrives at the door of a Lodge, he has, to mind, long been in darkness.”

This is the beginning of the journey for each candidate as they embark into the mystical and dramatic realm of Freemasonry. It is at this point the candidate stands at the threshold of initiation where he may turn back. Yet, if he chooses to proceed his life will be forever transformed. If the candidate fails to progress through the work of the remaining degrees, by their experiences in the outer chamber will force them to reflect upon their reason for wishing to become a Mason, and as such, for all their actions in life.5

The most misunderstood emblem is the skull. For centuries many non-masons and some persons within the Fraternity believed the skull to be an immoral and malicious symbol. It represented a malevolent and evil nature, such as poison or danger. But in the chamber of reflection, as in the rest of Masonry, that is not the case. The skull has appeared for centuries in various Masonic degrees, tracing boards, and aprons, such as the nineteenth century Knight Templar apron. The skull, together with the crossbones, is a symbol of mortality, and is used to elaborate on the other symbols present in the chamber. Its’ purpose is to serve as a reminder of the Latin phrase memento mori, “remember, you will die.” It serves as a reminder that our earthly life is not eternal and your time spent on this earth is limited and should be spent to improve society, yourself, and your spiritual service. Death is eminent, and each of us at one point or another must face this ultimate ending.6

The hourglass is an emblem of human life and represents the passing or marking of time. It symbolizes the futility of attempting to stop or to slow down time. As the candidate watches the slowly falling sands running through the hourglass so too does his time slowly runs out to death. The hourglass elaborates on the solemn thought of death, and reminds the candidate of the fleeting nature of his mortality. Together the skull, the hourglass alludes to mortality and reminds the future Mason to make good use of his short time on Earth.7

The bread and water represent the bare necessities of life and are humble emblems of sustenance and simplicity. Bread, considered one of the most meager forms of nourishment, reminds the candidate to live his life plainly, simply and humbly. Water is one of the four elements essential to the ancient mysteries, and is also an emblem of purity, or cleansing. In some variations of the chamber of reflection, the candidate is required to wash his hands as a symbol of the purity of his intentions.8

The burning candle and bell lack some of the esoteric significance attached to the other emblems but are also important. The bell is rarely used since it takes up space on the small table used in the chamber of reflection. It’s sole purpose is to inform the Master of Ceremonies, or the Mason in charge of the candidate while he is in the chamber, that the candidate is ready for the degree. Most common the candidate knocking three times on the door, has replaced the bell at the completion of his mental preparation. The single burning candle primarily serves to provide the candidate with suitable lighting so he may perform the assigned task, whether it be writing his philosophical last will and testament, required questions or thoughts, all depending on the Masonic jurisdiction, or practiced Masonic rite. 9

There are several items associated with alchemy in the chamber of reflection. To begin the ultimate goal of an alchemist was to turn a crude and superfluous metal into aprosperous and valuable metal such as transforming lead into gold. In the chamber of reflection, the alchemical elements are there to represent a different transformation, that of transforming the petitioner into a candidate. These alchemical elements are salt, sulfur and mercury. Salt alludes to several uses, but in the alchemical sense it alludes to the human soul. Salt is a preservative, and reminds the candidate that his activities while on earth should be remembered in a positive manner even after death. Salt, in excess may also spoil the food it was intended to preserve and admonishes the candidate to moderate his desires and passions. 10

Sulfur refers to the human body since some forms of sulfur are found in hair and skin. It is also a mindful reminder that all trials come to pass. Just as the foul odor of the sulfur will dissipate over time, so shall any trials and tribulations the candidate may encounter. It serves as a lesson, and reminds the candidate to make all things a learning experience. The coupling of salt and sulphur are the equivalent of the checkered pavement. It represents that of ambivalence and balance of light and darkness, truth and error, life and death, soul and body. 11

Mercury may appear in the chamber of reflection as the element itself, or it may be symbolically represented as a rooster or cockerel, either painted or as a ceramic figurine. The rooster is a symbol for the Greek god Hermes, or the Roman god Mercury, who crows at the dawn of day announcing the coming of light. This alludes to vigilance and also corresponds with faith. Mercury is a symbol of the emergence of the darkness of ignorance and fear. It is also the omen foretelling spiritual trial and testing. Just as we need vigilance and perseverance to seek truth and the light, we must also have the courage to acknowledge it when our social standing, ego, and perception from others challenge it. Mercury, salt, and sulfur, together, allude to the makeup of man and all substances. These three symbolic elements derive from alchemy, a tradition which has provided us with all of the symbols we use today to describe a metamorphosis, thereby alluding to a lesson the candidate will learn in the first degree—to circumscribe his desires and keep his passions in due bounds. 12

The quill pen and paper are placed in the chamber of reflection for the candidate to perform his appointed task of writing as he is instructed. Depending upon the particular Rite or degree, the candidate is asked to compose a short piece of writing. Most common, however, the candidate is encouraged to write reasons for petitioning for the degrees, or, in some lodges, his moral and philosophical last will and testament. Since the candidate is confronted with the thoughts of his own mortality, he is asked to put into writing where all of his worldly belongings and legacy would go in case of his ultimate demise. In some variations, specifically in the advanced degrees of the York Rite, there is a Bible on the table, and the candidate is asked to read the verse or verses associated with the degree. In the Brazilian Rite, the candidate receives yet another task in addition to the ones already mentioned. He is presented with Articles I and II of the Constitution of the respective Jurisdiction. The candidate must then sign and declare to affirm solidarity and act accordingly to the principles of Freemasonry. In some of the lodges around the world, where the chamber of reflection is used, it is customary to invite the initiate back into the chamber of reflection on his fifth year anniversary of his initiation. He then is presented with the same emblems he saw before his initiation, but now he is also presented with his philosophical and moral last will and testament. The purpose of this exercise is for the initiate to reflect on his initiation, and see how far he has come and transformed over the years. This practice may be repeated on different Masonic anniversaries. In all, this portion of the chamber of reflection allows the candidate a chance to reconsider his request for membership. If his motives are not pure, if he is fearful and does not have the courage to proceed, then he may not be able to inviolate the secrets of Freemasonry. 13

The alchemical cipher V∴I∴T∴R∴ I∴O∴L∴ is an important element in some versions of the chamber of reflection. It is an acronym for the Latin phrase Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem, which means, “Visit the interior of the Earth, and by rectifying, you shall find the hidden stone.” Sometimes this acronym appears with the addition of U∴M∴ at the end, signifying, Veram Medicinam, which means the “true medicine”. As previously mentioned, the alchemist’s goal was to change base metals into gold, and the acronym vitriol was the recipe that would ultimately produce such a transformation. However, in Masonry, the term vitriol is used as a tool to remind the candidate to look within himself. Thus, using his time in this solemn chamber to reflect and examine his own life, and therefore search for ways in which he could improve himself internally. Its ultimate goal is to have the candidate reach a sense of self attainment thereby understanding the other saying that should be written in the chamber — Know Thyself. The candidate is to take this advice metaphorically. The meaning conveyed is that one must search within oneself, as the truth is hidden there, and this truth is the real solution to life’s problems.14

The mirror is essential to the Chamber of Reflection, because the purpose of this portion of the initiation process is to allow the candidate to reflect. He is also to reflect on his own mortality, the reasons he has chosen to join the Craft, and to contemplate his own understanding of himself. According to the lecture in the Third Degree, we are taught that Hiram Abiff repaired to the Holy of Holies to reflect upon the work he had accomplished, to meditate and pray. It is in the chamber of reflection where the candidate gets a chance to practice the teachings of the Craft as they are intended, and emulate our ancient patron. Another example of reflection and looking within oneself is portrayed in the Rectified Scottish Rite. When the candidate is brought to light in the first degree, and the hoodwink is removed, the first thing he sees are the brethren looking back at him. It is at this point the Worshipful Master informs him that “It is not always before oneself, that one finds his enemies. That which is to be feared the most is many times behind himself. Turn around!” It is at this time that the candidate is once again presented with the mirror and sees his own reflection. It is a lesson by which the candidate is taught that the enemy is usually within oneself. Therefore, each member of the Craft should know and scrutinize himself in order to break off the rough and superfluous parts of his life in order to live the life of a true follower of the Craft. Thus, the chamber of reflection allows the candidate the chance to truly analyze and examine himself and the symbols in the room around him.15

The symbols, elements, and lessons within the chamber of reflection are provided for the specific purpose of allowing the candidate to meditate, reflect and contemplate. None of the emblems should ever be used to frighten, haze, tease, or humiliate the candidate in any way. The purpose of the chamber of reflection and its symbolic elements are meant to illustrate to the initiate that the ceremony of initiation is not to be taken lightly.16

But what does all of this mean to the American Mason? Where did the Chamber of Reflection go and why is it experiencing a revival in American Freemasonry? The earliest English reference to a Chamber of Reflection seems to be in Jachin and Boaz, the English exposure of the ritual of the Ancient’s Grand Lodge, published in 1762. Its description strongly resembles that of the one in the French exposure, Les Secrets de Francs-
Maçons, published in 1742. In Jachin and Boaz the chamber of reflection process is explained as follows:

“Soon after, the Master asks if the Gentleman proposed last Lodge-Night is ready to be made; and on being answered in the Affirmative, he orders the Wardens to go out and prepare the Person, who is generally waiting in a Room at some Distance from the Lodge-Room, by himself, being left there by his Friend who proposed him. He is conducted into another Room, which is totally dark; and then asked, whether he is conscious of having the Vocation necessary to be received? On answering, Yes, he is asked his Name, Surname, and Profession. When he has answered these Questions, whatever he has about him made of Metal is taken off, as Buckles, Buttons, Rings, Boxes, and even the Money in his pocket taken away. Then they make him uncover his Right Knee, and put his Left Foot with his Shoe on, into a Slipper; hoodwink him with a Handkerchief, and leave him to his Reflection for about half an Hour. The Chamber is also guarded within and without, by some of the Brethren, who have drawn Swords in their Hands, to keep off all Strangers, in case any should dare approach. The Person who proposed the Candidate stays in the Room with him; but they are not permitted to ask any Questions, or converse together.”

The idea of the chamber of reflection, as part of Masonic practice, also spread to Germany, Belgium, Holland, and other European countries. Between 1787 and 1801, Friedrich Ludwig Schroeder worked on a revision of the German ritual based on Jachin and Boaz entitled Schroedersches Lehrlingritual. It was accepted and worked in a number of German lodges, although other versions of the ritual continued to be practiced. 17

In the early 1800’s, the chamber of reflection was being used and practiced in several craft lodges in the United States. By 1814, the chamber of reflection had made its way into the rituals of the Grand Encampment of New York, and by 1816, to General Grand Encampment at its formation. The chamber of reflection was a well understood and a well-practiced Masonic custom in the United States at this epoch of its history. Some Freemasons even had small chambers of reflections in their homes, while others would make it a habit to revisit the one they used during their initiation into the Craft. All of this began to change by 1826, the year that America’s most notorious incident involving the Freemasons took place — the Morgan Affair.18

Captain William Morgan, a disgruntled Mason, announced plans to publish the rituals of Freemasonry. Although a number of other ritual exposures had been published in the United States during the previous century, Masons were outraged that their secrets would be divulged to the community. On 11 September 1826, William Morgan was arrested and jailed for an outstanding debt. The next day four Masons paid the debt, bailed Morgan out of jail and escorted him to a waiting carriage. He was driven away and was never seen again. This event fuelled outrage among anti-Masons in the United States and gave birth to the Anti-Masonic political movement. Because of the Anti-Masonic movement, Freemasonry was forced to adapt and change. The laws of several grand jurisdictions were changed, and the old custom of having to be invited or “tapped” to join Masonry were forever changed. Several hundred lodges in the United States closed its doors. New York went from 480 lodges in 1826 to 75 in 1835; Massachusetts dropped from 180 Lodges to 56, and the Grand Lodge of Vermont completely went out of existence. Masonry experienced a transformation of a very exclusive and esoteric fraternity, to that of an open revolving door and transparent fraternity. The more esoteric traditions retreated from the craft lodge into the higher invitational bodies, while the rites and traditions of the craft lodge rituals were diluted or completely abandoned, like that of the chamber of reflection.19

According to Masonic researchers and authors S. Brent Morris and Arturo de Hoyos in their book Committed to the Flames, in 1826, after the Morgan Affair, Robert Benjamin Folger filled a book with the enciphered craft rituals of a secret Masonic Rite. These rituals were that of the Rectified Scottish Rite, also known as the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City or CBCS. This order was well known throughout Europe but completely unknown in the United States at the time. The chamber of reflection resurrected itself in the United States in rituals such as the Rectified Scottish Rite, but never really returned into mainstream craft lodges until the end of the twentieth century.20

Masonry has been forced to adapt and change in order to survive, such as the creation of Masonic fraternal organizations like the Shrine and Grotto, to family oriented ones such as the Order of DeMolay, and Rainbow Girls. Based on the information presented in this paper, chambers of reflection are gaining in popularity again because the younger Masons who are joining lodges today are very interested in the ancient mysteries of the Masonic Orders, and its old traditions. Organizations like the Masonic Restoration Foundation have been created for the purpose of restoring some of these once forgotten Masonic traditions, while at the same time regulating the customs so they will not be done incorrectly. Several grand lodges have adopted a number these customs and traditions in order to regulate them. In a grand masters decision issued 23 January 2013, the Grand Master of Colorado approved the Masonic practices and observances of chambers of reflection, officers processions, and chains of union.21

Over the past several years, there have been several articles written about the chamber of reflection with no real research behind them. There are several lodges using chambers of reflection with the goal of scaring the candidate, or doing it because it is a “cool thing to do.” If a lodge’s members do not know what V∴I∴T∴R∴ I∴O∴L∴means or represents, and they do not know how to explain it to the new initiate, then that lodge should not be using a chamber of reflection. This important preparatory tool shouldn’t be used because it is cool. Rather, it should be used because it helps the candidate prepare himself mentally for the degree, it is an old tradition of the Craft, and it is the correct thing to do. Most importantly, each lodge should practice and follow the constitutions, resolutions, and edicts of the grand lodge under whose jurisdiction it is chartered. In The Laws of The Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M., it states that only the ritual approved by the Grand Lodge of Texas may be used in its lodge rooms and ante rooms opening directly into the lodge rooms. However, I find no mention in our grand lodge law regarding or restricting chambers of reflection, or items that may decorate, be stored in, or be present in the preparation room. Furthermore, there are no guidelines as to how the candidate is to be prepared prior to the beginning of the degree.22

There is great meaning in the chamber of reflection. A Mason can quietly meditate upon the individual meanings of the contents in the chamber, while reflecting on his purpose for joining, and becoming a better man. More importantly, it removes the candidate from the rest of the membership, who might tease the candidate and advise him to beware of the goat. Throughout my travels in a number of Masonic jurisdictions around the world, I recognized the great importance of this tradition, which has been used for centuries in worldwide Freemasonry. The chamber of reflection should be used prior to each of the three degrees. Every practicing Mason should propose to his respective grand lodge the restoration of the traditional chamber of reflection. This is an important custom that should be restored to every lodge thus allowing the candidate to participate in a True Masonic Experience.


Appendix A

The following is a translated Entered Apprentice Chamber of Reflection Ritual in its entirety:

Mr. _____________________
YOU ARE NOW SEATED IN THE CHAMBER OF REFLECTION, WHERE, IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE, YOU WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITY FOR MEDITATION.

YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU DESIRE TO ENTER THE REALM OF FREEMASONRY. THESE DEGREES WILL INCULCATE THE CARDNAL VIRTUES, AS WELL AS THE PRINCIPLE TENETS OF OUR ORDER. YOU ARE IN THIS CHAMBER TO GIVE YOU A FEW MINUTES TO REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE HERE FROM YOUR OWN PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE. REFLECT ON THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE, THE BENEFITS YOU HAVE TO GAIN AND CONTRIBUTIONS YOU CAN OFFER THE LODGE IN RETURN.

WHILE THE WORLD IS SHUT OUT, MEDITATE UPON THESE THINGS, AND PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR THE SOLEMN CEREMONIES THROUGH WHICH YOU WILL BE CALLED TO PASS. THERE LIES ON THE TABLE BEFORE YOU A MELANCHOLY MEMENTO OF MORTALITY. BESIDE IT IS AN HOUR GLASS, WHICH I NOW REVERSE. (Done.) AS YOU BEHOLD ITS SLOWLY-FALLING SANDS, LEARN THAT SO SURELY ARE THE WASTING SANDS OF YOUR MORTAL LIFE RUNNING OUT TO DEATH.

THERE IS ALSO ON THIS TABLE THE HOLY BIBLE, WHICH IS OPENED TO PSALM 133. I ENJOIN UPON YOU AT THIS TIME THE READING OF THE VERSES INCLUSIVE OF THAT CHAPTER. WHEN YOU SHALL HAVE CONCLUDED THE READING YOU WILL DISCOVER SOME QUESTIONS, TO WHICH YOUR EXPLICIT ANSWERS ARE REQUIRED IN WRITING. REFLECT ON THEM, AND THEN ANSWER EACH WITH A SIMPLE “YES” OR “NO,” ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF YOUR CONSCIENCE. THEN SIGN YOUR NAME, IN FULL, TO EACH OF THEM.

YOU ALSO FIND THAT THERE ARE SOME ARTICLES OF CLOTHING , YOU WILL REMOVE ALL METALLIC SUBSTANCES ABOUT YOUR PERSON, REMOVE YOUR CLOTHING AND PUT ON WHAT IS PROVIDED FOR YOU.

I AM NOW ABOUT TO LEAVE YOU ALONE, AND WILL SIGNAL MY DEPARTURE BY THREE KNOCKS UPON THE DOOR, HEARING THEM, YOU WILL REMOVE THE HOODWINK AND PROCEED AS I HAVE DIRECTED. WHEN YOU SHALL HAVE CONCLUDED, GIVE THREE KNOCKS AND I WILL ATTEND YOU.


Appendix B

The following is a translated Fellowcraft Chamber of Reflection Ritual in its entirety:
Mr. _____________________
YOU ARE NOW SEATED IN THE CHAMBER OF REFLECTION, WHERE, IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE, YOU WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITY FOR MEDITATION.

YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU DESIRE TO ENTER THE REALM OF FREEMASONRY. THESE DEGREES WILL INCULCATE THE CARDNAL VIRTUES, AS WELL AS THE PRINCIPLE TENETS OF OUR ORDER. YOU ARE IN THIS CHAMBER TO GIVE YOU A FEW MINUTES TO REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE HERE FROM YOUR OWN PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE. REFLECT ON THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE, THE BENEFITS YOU HAVE TO GAIN AND CONTRIBUTIONS YOU CAN OFFER THE LODGE IN RETURN.

WHILE THE WORLD IS SHUT OUT, MEDITATE UPON THESE THINGS, AND PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR THE SOLEMN CEREMONIES THROUGH WHICH YOU WILL BE CALLED TO PASS. THERE LIES ON THE TABLE BEFORE YOU A MELANCHOLY MEMENTO OF MORTALITY. BESIDE IT IS AN HOUR GLASS, WHICH I NOW REVERSE. (Done.) AS YOU BEHOLD ITS SLOWLY-FALLING SANDS, LEARN THAT SO SURELY ARE THE WASTING SANDS OF YOUR MORTAL LIFE RUNNING OUT TO DEATH.

THERE IS ALSO ON THIS TABLE THE HOLY BIBLE, WHICH IS OPENED TO AMOS 7. I ENJOIN UPON YOU AT THIS TIME THE READING OF THE VERSES INCLUSIVE OF THAT CHAPTER.

YOU ALSO FIND THAT THERE ARE SOME ARTICLES OF CLOTHING , YOU WILL REMOVE ALL METALLIC SUBSTANCES ABOUT YOUR PERSON, REMOVE YOUR CLOTHING AND PUT ON WHAT IS PROVIDED FOR YOU.

I AM NOW ABOUT TO LEAVE YOU ALONE, AND WILL SIGNAL MY DEPARTURE BY THREE KNOCKS UPON THE DOOR, HEARING THEM, YOU WILL REMOVE THE HOODWINK AND PROCEED AS I HAVE DIRECTED. WHEN YOU SHALL HAVE CONCLUDED, GIVE THREE KNOCKS AND I WILL ATTEND YOU.


Appendix C

The following is a translated Master Mason’s Chamber of Reflection Ritual in its entirety:
BROTHER. _____________________
YOU ARE NOW SEATED IN THE CHAMBER OF REFLECTION, WHERE, IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE, YOU WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITY FOR MEDITATION.

YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU DESIRE TO ENTER THE REALM OF FREEMASONRY. THIS DEGREES WILL INCULCATE ALL VIRTUES OF THIS ORGANIZATION, AS WELL AS THE PRINCIPLE TENETS OF OUR ORDER. YOU ARE IN THIS CHAMBER TO GIVE YOU A FEW MINUTES TO REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE HERE FROM YOUR OWN PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE. REFLECT ON THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE, THE BENEFITS YOU HAVE TO GAIN AND CONTRIBUTIONS YOU CAN OFFER THE LODGE IN RETURN. THIS DEGREE REMINDS THAT WE ARE IMORTAL AND THAT ONE DAY , WE WILL CESE TO EXIST.

WHILE THE WORLD IS SHUT OUT, MEDITATE UPON THESE THINGS, AND PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR THE SOLEMN CEREMONIES THROUGH WHICH YOU WILL BE CALLED TO PASS. THERE LIES ON THE TABLE BEFORE YOU A MELANCHOLY MEMENTO OF MORTALITY. BESIDE IT IS AN HOUR GLASS, WHICH I NOW REVERSE. (Done.) AS YOU BEHOLD ITS SLOWLY-FALLING SANDS, LEARN THAT SO SURELY ARE THE WASTING SANDS OF YOUR MORTAL LIFE RUNNING OUT TO DEATH.

THERE IS ALSO ON THIS TABLE THE HOLY BIBLE, WHICH IS OPENED TO ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 12. I ENJOIN UPON YOU AT THIS TIME THE READING OF THE VERSES INCLUSIVE OF THAT CHAPTER. WHEN YOU SHALL HAVE CONCLUDED THE READING YOU WILL DISCOVER YOUR LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT. REFLECT ON THIS, AND THEN COMPLETE IT ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF YOUR CONSCIENCE. THEN SIGN YOUR NAME, IN FULL.

YOU ALSO FIND THAT THERE ARE SOME ARTICLES OF CLOTHING , YOU WILL REMOVE ALL METALLIC SUBSTANCES ABOUT YOUR PERSON, REMOVE YOUR CLOTHING AND PUT ON WHAT IS PROVIDED FOR YOU.

I AM NOW ABOUT TO LEAVE YOU ALONE, AND WILL SIGNAL MY DEPARTURE BY THREE KNOCKS UPON THE DOOR, HEARING THEM, YOU WILL REMOVE THE HOODWINK AND PROCEED AS I HAVE DIRECTED. WHEN YOU SHALL HAVE CONCLUDED, GIVE THREE KNOCKS AND I WILL ATTEND YOU.


Appendix D

A Chamber of Reflection in Mexico


Appendix E

A Chamber of Reflection in the USA


Appendix F

A diagram of a Chamber of Reflection


Appendix G

Chamber of Reflection Courtesy of Edolon House / The Joe and Jill Chronicles


Appendix H

Grand Masters of Colorado Decision on Chambers of Reflection


NOTES

1 Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol (New York: Doubleday, 2009), 149-160.

2 Daniel Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry (London: Assouline, 2000), 22-25; Allen Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols (Richmond: Macoy), 13; “Initiation,” Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (Richmond: Macoy, 1995)327.

3 Albert Pike, The Porch and the Middle Chamber (Kessinger Publishing), 5-13; Christopher Hodapp, Deciphering the Lost Symbol (Berkley: Ulysses press, 2010), 72-73.

4 Giordano Gamberini, Codice Massonico Delle Logge Riunite E Rettificate Di Francia (Foggia: Bastogi, 1778), 16-51; Daniel Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons (Paris: Assouline, 1997), 24-30.

5 Cliff Porter, The Secret Psychology of Freemasonry (Colorado Springs: Starr Publishing, 2011), 128-170; Andrew Hammer, Observing the Craft ( Mindhive Books, 2010), 101-102.

6 “Skull and Crossbones,” Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (Richmond: Macoy, 1995),623; Hodapp, Deciphering,, 52-53,72-73; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Mark O’Connell, and Raje Airey, The Complete Encyclopedia of Signs & Symbols (Hermes House), 159; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110.

7 “Hourglass,” Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (Richmond: Macoy, 1995), 623; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Monitor of the Lodge, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M. (Waco, TX: Waco Printing Co., 2010), 85; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; O’Connell and Airey, Signs & Symbols,159, 229 .

8 “Communion,” Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (Richmond: Macoy, 1995), 143; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110.

9 Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25.

10 Lewis Spence, The Encyclopedia of the Occult (London: Bracken Books, 1988), 9-13; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30; O’Connell and Airey, Signs & Symbols,146-147, 206 .

11 Lewis Spence, The Encyclopedia of the Occult (London: Bracken Books, 1988), 9-13; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30; O’Connell and Airey, Signs & Symbols,146-147, 206

12 Lewis Spence, The Encyclopedia of the Occult (London: Bracken Books, 1988), 9-13; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30; O’Connell and Airey, Signs & Symbols,146-147, 206

13 Manual de Aaprendiz Macom Segundo o Ssistema do Rito Brasilero. (Brasilia: Grande Oriente do Brasil, 1986) ; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30.

14 M. O’Connell and R. Airey, Signs & Symbols,144-147, 206 ,227-233, 240-244; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30 .

15 Gamberini, Codice Massonico,16-65; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30; O’Connell and Airey, Signs & Symbols, 92-95, 234 .

16 Gamberini, Codice Massonico,16-65; Hodapp, Deciphering,,72-73; Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, 22-25; Porter, Secret Psychology, 128-170; Hammer, Observing the Craft, 100-110; Beresniak, Les Symboles de Francs-Macons, 24-30; “Chamber of Reflection,” Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (Richmond: Macoy, 1995),127; “Chamber of Reflection,” Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, ed., rev. and enl. By Robert L. Clegg, 2 vols ( Chicago: Masonic History, 1929), 1 190; “Chamber of Reflection,” Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry(New York: Gramercy Books, 1989), 106 .

17 Jachin and Boaz (London: W. N. Coll, 1762); Perau, M. L’abbei, L’Ordre des Francs-Macons Trahi, et Le Secret des Mopses Revele'(AAnsterdam, 1745).

18 S. Brent Morris, The Folgers Manuscript, ( Illinois: The Masonic Book Club, 1992) 179-200, xv-xxviii; Stephen Dafoe, Morgan (New Orleans: A Cornerstone Book, 2009)45-124.

19 Dafoe, Morgan, 45-124; Morris, Folgers Manuscript, 1992.

20 Arturo De Hoyos & Brent Morris, Committed to the Flames (London: Lewis Masonic, 2008), 181-186, 193-195.

21 Grand Masters Decision, Grand Lodge of Colorado (Appendix H).

22 The Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M. (Waco, TX: Waco Printing Co., 2011).

Published by permission of the author and the Texas Lodge of Research.

April 2017 Stated Communication

The Brothers of Elvin E. Helms No. 926 met in Stated Communication on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Worshipful Brother John Cissell of Buechel No. 896 traveled to Petersburg to be our guest speaker for the evening. The topic was Circumambulation.

Pictured above, left to right: Worshipful Master Buddy Wallace, Worshipful Brother John Cissell.

Circumambulation

Good evening Brothers.  It is a personal pleasure to be invited to speak to you this evening and I will be addressing a subject that I hold in high regard.  Before we get started, I’d like you to consider the central question of the evening.  Why do we perform ritual and do we understand the symbolism of the ritual we perform?

When asked, almost all Brothers can tell you that the badge of a Mason is his apron.  Many will tell you that which makes him a Mason is his obligation, and most can tell you the purpose of the working tools of each degree.  Some can recite for you the uses of Chalk, Charcoal and Clay, or the symbolism of the beehive or pot of incense.  A gifted few can deliver the mountainous Stair Lecture in its eloquent explanations of the various forms of architecture and the liberal Arts & Sciences.  I am not going to spend our time here this evening pealing apart one of those worthy subjects however.  This evening I am going to ask you to consider one of the most often overlooked components of our ritual.  And while this small piece of ritual may seem trivial as we take the first step in considering it, I ask that you keep an open mind to the very nature of esoteric initiation, which is what our ritual truly is.  This evening we are going to consider the very steps taken about the altar during the conduct of all ritual, and what those steps represent.

What is Circumambulation?

Circumambulation – the noun, or Circumambulate – the verb, from the Latin Circum (around) and Ambulare (to walk) Merriam-Webster defines as to circle on foot, especially ritualistically.  Oxford defines it as the act of moving around a sacred object or idol.  Though the Etymology of the word dates to ancient times, its first known usage occurred in 1606.  It is believed that the circumambulation dates to ancient times, prior to all, or at least most of the current concepts of religion going back to the time when humankind worshipped the sun and other forces of nature.  Both the Greeks and Romans are known to have circumambulated their sacred objects.  Ritualized circumambulation occurs today in many of the world’s religions and is an integral part of Hinduism and Buddhism in Eastern religions as well as Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  Circumambulation occurs in both Sunwise (clockwise) and Widdershins (counter-clockwise) motions.  Masonic Circumambulation occurs Sunwise, with the Altar always to the Right.

While we do not know with certainty how the act of circling the Altar first became part of the rituals of Masonry, many speculate that the practice began during the Operative roots of the Craft and was intended to allow for a proper inspection of new candidates for physical deficiency or inadequacy. While we cannot know with certainty the when or why, we can explore the meaning and the symbolism associated with the Rite of Circumambulation in Freemasonry.

Masonic Scholar Carl Claudy, in his book Introduction to Freemasonry states “Among the first religions were sun and fire worship.  Prehistoric man found God in nature…Worship of the sun in the sky was done symbolically by worship of fire upon piles of stones which were the first altars….Early man imitated the God he worshiped.   Heat and light he could give by fire, so lighting the fire on the altar became an important religious ceremony.  And early man could imitate the movements of his God.”  Most ritualistic circumambulation occurs in a clockwise motion, from East to West through the South following the movement of the sun across the sky as observed in the Northern hemisphere.  As early man worshipped the sun, the procession was not just a physical act, but a mystical one as well.  Brother Mackey wrote that circumambulation “had a reference to the motion of the heavenly bodies, which according to the ancient poets and philosophers produced a harmonious sound, inaudible to mortal ears, which was called ‘the music of the spheres.’”  As humankind evolved from worshiping nature to polytheism, henotheism (the worship of a single god while not denying the existence or possible existence of other deities) and monotheism the rite of circumambulation necessarily took on new meaning.  No longer simply an act of imitation, circumambulation became an act of purification made possible through the structured proximity to the holy.

Many Observant lodges in America, and most European lodges execute the Officer’s Procession, whereby the officer’s enter the lodge in a solemn line and proceed about the Altar before assuming their appropriate stations.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, The Senior Deacon would frequently travel from his station to the Secretary’s desk to retrieve the Volume of Sacred Law, and then proceed to the Altar to display the Great Lights appropriate to the degree being worked.  The entire time, the Senior Deacon would keep the Altar on his right side.  At the end of the meeting, he would follow the same path, East through the South, approaching the Altar from the West always keeping the Altar to his right.  Within the lodge room, this procession purified the profane and transformed it into the sacred space necessary to perform our initiation rites.

In the stereopticon lecture (the third section) of the Entered Apprentice, we are taught that among the several decorations found within every regular and well-governed lodge of Entered Apprentices you will find a point within a circle, touching upon two parallel lines.  We are taught that the point represents the individual Brother, the circle is the boundary line of duty, beyond which we are never to suffer our prejudices or passions to betray us, and that while traversing this boundary line, we necessarily touch upon the two lines and our volume of sacred law.  We are also taught that for those Masons who keep themselves thus circumscribed within those due bounds, it is impossible to materially err.  Like most of you, I have heard those words many times within the walls of a lodge of Entered Apprentices.  In my travels, I have looked for the literal symbol just described without fail in every lodge I’ve entered, and seldom find it displayed as such.  After beginning my study of the Rite of Circumambulation though, I found this symbol…..at least its esoteric representation…..in every lodge I’ve entered, be that a lodge of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft or Master Mason.

Symbolically, the point is the Volume of Sacred Law, the parallel lines are the Master in the East and the Senior Warden in the West and finally, the circle is made by the candidate led by the Senior Deacon in procession about the Altar.  By proper attention to the act of circumambulating the Altar, in reverent procession, we not only symbolically sanctify the lodge room and purify the candidate for the initiation, but we also should be reminded of our own obligation to keep our own actions and passions within due bounds.

While I do not dare tell you that the Rite of Circumambulation is the most important step taken within the lodge room, nor that it is the most meaningful component to our ritual, I do want to impress upon you the weight of the procession about the Altar and draw your attention to its proper care.  I am of the firm belief that through knowledge…..that knowledge of what those steps represent, we are better enabled to perform our ritual with the sincerity and gravity that it deserves.  If we pay greater attention to the smallest detail……literally the meaning of the steps we take around the Altar then we almost certainly will be compelled to give greater attention to the more obvious components of our ritual.  And I believe that is a path to a more enriching Masonic experience, for it is our single claim, when we answer the Masters challenge in each degree, while standing in the East for the first time, to be a traveler in search of Light.  Let us shine the light of knowledge upon our ritual, and thereby elevate our appreciation for it and those who have come this way before us.  I leave you this evening my Brothers with a hearty thanks for the opportunity to fellowship with and address you.  I also ask you to reflect upon that central question that I opened with… Why do we perform ritual and do we understand the symbolism of the ritual we perform?

March 2017 Stated Communication

The stated meeting of Elvin E. Helms Lodge No. 926 on March 14, 2017 saw a full house at Lodge despite Winter’s last blast of cold weather and snow.  We were honored to have representatives from five other District 18 Lodges in attendance at our meeting, including four current Masters – Worshipful Bro. David Bird from Good Faith Lodge No. 95, Worshipful Bro. Joe Deck from Bradford Lodge No. 123, Worshipful Bro. Sean Weaver from Phoenix Lodge No. 719 and Worshipful Bro. Tom Cooper from Hebron Lodge No. 757.

Bradford Lodge No. 123, with six in attendance, claimed the District 18 Traveling Gavel.

Worshipful Bro. Eddie Hazelett, Past Master of Paintsville Lodge No. 381 and current member of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky’s Committee on Education, presented our Masonic Education for the evening.  Worshipful Bro. Hazelett told the story of how Scots Masons were involved in the construction of the White House in Washington, D. C.  Bro. Hazelett’s presentation was excellent and the Lodge presented him with an honorary membership in Elvin E. Helms Lodge no. 926.

Click here to view Worshipful Bro. Eddie Hazelett’s presentation.

We were delighted to have Worshipful Bro. Al Collier in Lodge with us again.  Bro. Al has been caring for his wife, Jenny, who has been ill.  Being a full-time caregiver, Bro. Al has been unable to attend Lodge.  He and Jenny recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to Bro. Al and Jenny and may they enjoy many more anniversaries.

We received good news regarding Bro. Garry Kelly’s recovery.  Bro. Garry has been responding to treatment and will continue to receive therapy in Florida.  His address is:

Bro. Garry C. Kelly
Room 1414
Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute
52 Underwood Street
Orlando, Florida  32806

Please feel free to drop Bro. Garry a line or a card to cheer him.

Our Lodge is draped in mourning to observe the death of Bro. Emmett Ralph Elliott, a 52-year member of our Lodge.  Bro. Elliott died on March 3, 2017.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, April 11.  Please join us for a good time of food, fellowship and Masonic Education.

February 2017 Stated Communication

Our speaker for our February educational program was Worshipful Brother Dan Kemble and spoke of the Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry.

The Ancient Landmarks: An Introduction

Early in one’s Masonic journey, the new Mason is confronted with the concept of the “Ancient Landmarks.” Perhaps no other topic in Freemasonry has generated so much study, so much debate and so little agreement.

Landmarks are defined as objects or features of a landscape that are easily seen and recognized from a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location.

Albert G. Mackey, the noted and prolific Masonic writer, wrote that Landmarks mark boundaries and, more in the Masonic sense, mark the boundaries between the profane world and the Masonic world.

As Masons, we generally encounter the term “landmarks” twice – once when receiving the charge as a newly raised Master Mason, and again during a Lodge’s annual installation of officers.

The Master Mason Degree Charge states:

Universal benevolence you are always to inculcate, and by the regularity of your own behavior afford the best example for the conduct of the less informed. The ancient Landmarks of the Order, intrusted to your care, you are carefully to observe, and never suffer them to be infringed, or countenance a deviation from the established usages and customs of the Fraternity.

In the Installation ceremony, the Master Elect is asked:

Do you promise to respect genuine and true Brethren, and to discountenance imposters and all dissenters from the Ancient Landmarks and Constitutions of Masonry?

But beyond these two instances, how much are we taught, and how much do we really know about the Ancient Landmarks?

For the first 100 years or so following the creation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, little was written about the Landmarks.

Anderson’s The Constitutions of the Free-Masons of 1723 says, “Every annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new regulations, or to alter these, for the real benefit of this ancient Fraternity; provided always that the old Landmarks are carefully preserved.” While we accept Anderson’s Constitutions as an integral part of the foundation of Freemasonry as we know it, it sheds little light on what, exactly, the ancient Landmarks are.

In the 1820s, Masonic scholar, George Oliver made oblique references to the Landmarks in several of his writings, but did not specifically identify them.

In 1856, M. W. Bro. Rob Morris, who would serve as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky in 1858-1859, published a list of 17 Ancient Landmarks in his Code of Masonic Law. Morris’s list of Landmarks is noteworthy in that it differs so greatly from the other lists that followed, and seemed to have but little effect on the general direction of the debate about the Landmarks. The Ancient Landmarks, as enumerated by M. W. Bro. Morris is provided on a
separate sheet.

W. Bro. J. W. S. Mitchell, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, rejected Morris’s list of Landmarks, saying that “all, or nearly all” of the Landmarks were included in Andersons Constitutions of 1723. M. W. Bro. Mitchell’s reading of Anderson’s Constitutions is puzzling, given its silence on specifics of the Landmarks.

Morris’s list, and Mitchell’s subsequent rejection, touched off a lasting debate about the identity and nature of the Landmarks. The next Masonic scholar to weigh in on the subject was the renowned Dr. A. G. Mackey.

Albert Gallatin Mackey (1807-1881) was a South Carolina physician and one of the greatest Masonic thinkers and writers of the 19th century. In 1859 Dr. Mackey published A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence which discusses, in great depth, Mackey’s understanding of the Landmarks.

In his Textbook, Mackey established four tests which must be met in order for a custom to be considered a Landmark. The four tests are:

  1. It must be an unwritten law or custom;
  2. It must has existed “from a time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary;”
  3. It must be universal; and
  4. It cannot be changed.

All four tests must be met for a practice or custom to be considered a Landmark.

Mackey then went on to list 25 Ancient Landmarks which, in his opinion, met the four tests. Those 25 Landmarks are provided on an attached sheet.

The study of the Landmarks caught the interest of Henry Bannister Grant, known to most of us as H. B. Grant. Bro. Grant was a native New Yorker who moved to Kentucky as an adult. He joined Hiram Lodge No.4, in Frankfort, then, upon moving to Louisville, became
instrumental in the founding of Louisville Lodge No. 400.

Bro. H. B. Grant served as Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky from 1887-1912. In 1889, R. W. Bro. Grant published his list of Ancient Landmarks in the “Masonic Home Journal,” beginning in February of 1889. R. W. Bro. Grant said, “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry are the immemorial usages and fundamental principles of the Craft and are unchangeable.” Note the similarity to Mackey in the use of the terms immemorial (existing since antiquity) and unchangeable.

Right Worshipful Bro. Grant then proceeded to list 54 Ancient Landmarks of the Craft.

These Landmarks can be found in Bro. Grant’s Vest Pocket Trestle-Board and Working-Tools. A list of Landmarks as identified by R. W. Bro. Grant is provided on an attached sheet.

In 1889, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky adopted the 4th Edition of its Constitution, which incorporated Grant’s List of Ancient Landmarks. R. W. Bro. Grant died (in office) in 1912. Several years after the death of Bro. Grant, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky directed W. Bro.
Henry Pirtle, author of the Kentucky Monitor, to revise our Constitution. In 1919, Bro. Pirtle completed his task and the Grand Lodge of Kentucky approved the 5th Edition of its Constitution. Missing from the Constitution were R. W. Bro. Grant’s list of Landmarks. Pirtle explained as follows, “The so-called ‘Ancient Landmarks’ which were included in the Fourth Edition have never received the endorsement of the Grand Lodge and have proved misleading to Brethren in this and other states for this reason. No one knows what the’ Ancient Landmarks,’ so often referred to, really are. And it seemed better to the compiler of this edition [Pirtle] to
avoid entering upon the wide field of controversy over this subject.”

In 1918, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts formally entered the debate on the Landmarks, by announcing that it recognized six Ancient Landmarks:

  1. Membership is limited to free born adult males;
  2. The practice of monotheism;
  3. A belief in the immortality of the soul;
  4. A Volume of Sacred Law;
  5. The Legend of the Third Degree; and
  6. The symbolism of the operative art of Masonry.

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, in publishing this list, went on to declare that the list was not “exclusive.”

In 1920, Massachusetts Freemason and noted American legal scholar Roscoe Pound published Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. In Lectures, Dean Pound identified seven
Ancient Landmarks, as follows:

  1. Belief in God.
  2. Belief in the persistence of personality.
  3. A “book of law” is an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge.
  4. The legend of the third degree.
  5. Secrecy.
  6. The symbolism of an operative art.
  7. That a Mason must be a man, freeborn, and of age.

Pound wrote that there were “certain universal, unalterable and unrepealable Fundamentals which have existed from time immemorial and are so thoroughly a part of Masonry that no Masonic authority may derogate from them or do aught but maintain them.”

A study of the Landmarks does not reach a definitive conclusion as to how many exist and what their specific nature is. In reflecting upon the debate about the Landmarks, and with reference to Mackey’s four-fold test, Melvin M. Johnson, who served as Grand Master of Massachusetts from 1914-1916, commented as follows, “Probably all Masonic students will agree to this definition and then proceed immediately to disagree upon the list of those fundamentals which are to be classified as universal, unalterable and unrepealable.” M. W. Bro. Johnson’s analysis is probably the most correct statement that can be made about the Landmarks. Yet their study is of infinite interest to Masons and the source of unending, and hopefully, productive, hours of discussion.

Sources:

Albert G. Mackey, M. D., A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence, Macoy & Sickels, Publishers, New York, New York, 1859.

B. Grant, Vest Pocket Trestle-Board and Working Tools, Masonic Home Print, Masonic Home, Kentucky, 1914.

Book of Constitutions of The Grand Lodge of Kentucky,4th Edition, Press ofthe Masonic Home Journal, Masonic Home, Kentucky, 1893.

Rob Morris, A Code of Masonic Law; Being a Practical Exhibit of the Landmarks and Usages of Ancient Craft Masonry, J. F. Brennan, Louisville, Kentucky, 1856.

Coils Masonic Encyclopedia, Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Richmond, Virginia, 1961.

Roscoe Pound, Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence, National Masonic Research Society, Anamosa, Iowa, 1920.

Delivered by Dan M. Kemble
Elvin E. Helms Lodge No. 926
Petersburg, Kentucky
February 14,2017

W. Bro. Rob Morris’s List of Landmarks (1856)

  1. The Masonic Landmarks are unchangeable and imperative.
  2. Masonry is a system, teaching symbolically; piety, morality, charity and self-discipline.
  3. The law of God is the rule and limit of Masonry.
  4. The Civil Law, so far as it accords with the divine, is obligatory on Masons.
  5. The Masonic Lodge and the Masonic Institutions are one and indivisible.
  6. Masonic qualification regards the mental, moral and physical nature of
  7. Personal worth and merit are the basis of official worth and merit.
  8. The official duties of Masonry are esoteric.
  9. The selection of Masonic material and the general labors of the Masonic Craft are
  10. The honors of Masonry are the gratitude of the Craft and the approval of God.
  11. Masonic promotion, both private and official, is by grades.
  12. The Grand Master may have a deputy.
  13. The head of the Lodge is the Master, duly elected by the Craft.
  14. The medium of communication between the head and the body of the Lodge is the Warden, duly elected by the Craft.
  15. Obedience to the Master and Wardens is obligatory upon the members.
  16. Secrecy is an indispensable element of Masonry.
  17. The Grand Lodge is supreme in its sphere of jurisdiction, and controls both the Subordinate Lodges and individual Masons, but is always subject to the Ancient Landmarks.

Ancient Landmarks from Mackey’s A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence (1859)

  1. The modes of recognition.
  2. The division of Masonry into three degrees.
  3. The legend of the third degree.
  4. The government of the fraternity, by a presiding officer called the Grand Master, who is elected from the body of the Craft.
  5. The prerogative of the Grand Master to preside over every assembly of the Craft.
  6. The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant dispensations for the conferring of the degrees at irregular times.
  7. The prerogative of the Grand Master to give dispensations for opening and holding Lodges.
  8. The prerogative of the Grand Master to make Masons at sight.
  9. The necessity of Masons to congregate in Lodges.
  10. The government of the Craft, when congregated in Lodges, by a Master and two Wardens.
  11. The necessity that every Lodge, when congregated, should be duly tiled.
  12. The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the Craft, and to instruct his representatives.
  13. The right of every Mason to appeal from the decision of his Brethren in Lodge convened, to the Grand Lodge or General Assembly of Masons.
  14. The right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular Lodge.
  15. No visitor unknown to the Brethren present, or to some one of them as a Mason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an examination according to ancient usage.
  16. No Lodge can interfere in the business of another Lodge, nor give degrees to Brethren who are members of other Lodges.
  17. Every Freemason is amenable to the laws and regulations of the Masonic jurisdiction in which he resides, and this although he may not be a member of any Lodge.
  18. Certain qualifications for candidates are derived from a Landmark of the Order.
  19. A belief in the existence of God as the Grand Architect of the Universe.
  20. A belief in the resurrection to a future life.
  21. The book of law shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge.
  22. The equality of all Masons.
  23. The secrecy of the institution.
  24. The foundation of a speculative science upon an operative art, and the symbolic use and explanation of the terms of that art, for the purposes of religious or moral teaching.
  25. That these Landmarks can never be changed.

Some of the

ANCIENT LANDMARKS

See Proofs (prepared by H. B. Grant) in Ky. Book of Constitutions, 4th. Ed. (1889)

  1. The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry are the immemorial usages and fundamental principles of the Craft and, are unchangeable.
  2. Freemasonry (existing “from a time whereofthe memory of man runneth not to the contrary”), was anciently operative and speculative; it is now speculative, embracing a system of ethics – moral, religious and philosophical – and relates to the social, ethical and intellectual progress of man.
  3. Freemasonry embraces the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, which are conferred in regular Lodges whose rites and ceremonies are private.
  4. The legend of the third degree.
  5. Secrecy is an essential element of Masonry, and every Mason is bound by irrevocable ties to keep inviolate the private ceremonies, signs and words of Masonry, and the business of the Lodge, including the ballot, and (excepting treason and murder) never to divulge any accepted secret confided to him.
  6. Writing or printing the esoteric part of Masonry plainly or by sign or otherwise, is contrary to the covenants of the Fraternity.
  7. The Covenants of a Mason do not conflict with his duty to God, his country, his family, his neighbor, or himself, but are binding upon his conscience and actions.
  8. Belief in the existence and reverencing the name of the Supreme Being, whom men call God, and whom Masons refer to as “The Grand Architect of the Universe,” is unqualifiedly demanded.
  9. Belief in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection to a future life.
  10. “The Book of Law,” Square and Compasses, are the Great Lights in Masonry, and their presence in an open Lodge is indispensable.
  11. The Principal Tenets of Masonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
  12. The Cardinal Virtues of Masonry are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.
  13. The white lambskin apron is the badge of a Mason.
  14. The Square and Compasses are Masonic symbols of morality.
  15. The Saints Johns’ Days (June 24 and December 27) are Masonic Festivals.
  16. The “General Assembly,” or Grand Lodge, is the supreme legislative, judicial and executive body of the Craft in all matters Masonic within its territorial jurisdiction, and is composed of representatives from Lodges therein.
  17. A Lodge is an organized body of Freemasons, having a Warrant of Constitution authorizing it to work.
  18. Every Lodge, Grand and Subordinate, when lawfully congregated, must be clothed, tyled and opened before it can proceed to work.
  19. Masons meet in the Lodge upon the level of equality, and address each other as Brother.
  20. A Lodge, duly opened, has the right to instruct its representatives to Grand Lodge.
  21. Questions of politics, or sectarian religious beliefs, cannot be brought into a Lodge.
  22. A Mason in good fellowship with some regular Lodge may visit any Lodge not his own when it will not disturb the harmony of the Lodge visited.
  23. A Mason cannot sit in a clandestine Lodge, nor converse on the secrets of Masonry with a clandestine made Mason, nor with one who is under suspension or expulsion.
  24. The Grand Master is the executive head of the Craft, and presiding officer of the Grand Lodge, by which he is elected and whose laws he must obey.
  25. The Grand Master may preside in any Lodge in his jurisdiction.
  26. The Grand Master may suspend the Master of a Lodge or arrest a Lodge charter for cause.
  27. The officers of a Lodge are the Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Secretary, Treasurer, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon Steward and Tyler.
  28. The Master is the head of the Lodge, and, as a presiding officer, governs it according to the laws usages of the Fraternity, and may convene it at pleasure.
  29. The Master must have been a Warden [except in the formation of a new Lodge, or when no Past Master or Past Warden who is competent and willing to serve is a member of the Lodge].
  30. The Master, by virtue of his office, represents his Lodge in Grand Lodge.
  31. The Master becomes a “Past Master” at the close of his official term.
  32. The Wardens of a Lodge must be Master Masons.
  33. In the absence of the Master, the Senior Warden performs his duties. In the absence of both, the Junior Warden acts.
  34. Officers of a Lodge, Grand or Subordinate, hold their offices until their successors are lawfully chosen and inducted into office, or become lawfully disqualified.
  35. A Mason is not to urge any person to become a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry, for every candidate must offer himself voluntarily and unsolicited.
  36. Every candidate must be a man, free born, of mature and discreet age, of good morals and report, possessed of intelligence and having the natural use of his limbs that will enable him to receive and impart Craft mysteries.
  37. It is the internal qualifications of a man that recommend him to become a Mason.
  38. Careful inquiry into the physical, intellectual and moral fitness of every candidate for the mysteries of Masonry is indispensable.
  39. Advancement to the degrees of Fellow Craft or Master Mason is not to be made without examination as to the qualifications of the candidate, and by unanimous consent.
  40. Unanimous consent of the Lodge, expressed by ballot, is essential before initiation or admission to affiliation.
  41. A Mason must be a good man and true, conforming to the laws of justice and virtue, called “the moral law. “
  42. Every Mason must be obedient to the laws of the country in which he lives or sojourns.
  43. No Brother can recognize anyone as a Mason until after strict trial or lawful information.
  44. A Mason is bound to use the utmost caution when in the presence of strangers or profanes, that no sign, token or word to which they may not be entitled shall be discovered by them.
  45. Every Mason out to belong to some Lodge, attend its meetings and share its burdens.
  46. A Brother is not to be admitted to Lodge membership without certificate [or demit], due notice and inquiry.
  47. Every Mason must patiently submit to the award of his Brethren in Lodge assembled [subject to appeal to Grand Lodge].
  48. A Mason must be true to his fellow; instruct, admonish, defend and assist; but never traduce or supplant him.
  49. A Mason shall not have unlawful knowledge ofthe wife, daughter, sister, mother or servant of his fellow.
  50. A Mason should be diligent in business and pay his just debts.
  51. Every Mason must obey Lodge summons.
  52. The only penalties known to Masonry are fines, reprimand, suspension for a definite period, and expulsion.
  53. A Mason cannot be disciplined without having an opportunity to be heard in his own defense [unless he absconds or cannot be reached by notice].
  54. Every [affiliated] Mason is entitled to burial with Masonic [ceremonies and] honors.