Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blue Lodge Symbols for Masonic Education

I have made the case in an earlier post that the most important topic to address in Masonic education in the Blue Lodge is the symbolism of the three initiatory degrees of Freemasonry. I present a list of the major elements of this symbolism below. The reader should note that some of the items below are groups of symbols; thus, the symbols within each such group may require more than one session of Masonic education to consider. Here is the list:
  • The Lodge Room itself
  • The journey of the candidate: Circumambulation
  • The clothing of the candidate in each degree
  • The biblical scriptures recited during each degree
  • Light, and the search for it
  • The Two Pillars
  • The Three Pillars
  • The Five Pillars
  • The Mosaic Pavement
  • The East
  • The Temple
  • The Great Lights, individually and collectively
  • The Lesser Lights
  • The Representations of the Lesser Lights (including their arrangement)
  • The Working Tools of each degree
  • The symbols mentioned only in the lecture of each degree (that is, the so-called ‘monitorial symbols’)
  • The signs of recognition in each degree
  • Solomon, Hiram of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff as symbols
  • The symbolic meanings of the attacks of the ruffians
  • The Lost and Substitute Words

In addition, there are a few items that, although not strictly symbolic, are worth considering during Masonic education. These include the following:

  • The relationship of ancient esoteric knowledge to modern Freemasonry
  • The trial of the ballot, and the qualifications of a Mason
  • The various clauses of the obligations in each degree
  • The Charges given in each degree

The typical lodge meets for two Stated Communications monthly, less two periods where the lodge ‘goes dark,’ during a portion of the summer and in late December, thus yielding between 18 and 22 Stated Communications annually. The list of topics mentioned above would require over a year to address at the rate of one topic per Stated Communication. (Again, some of these topics are groups of symbols—the working tools, the monitorial symbols, and so forth—and thus will probably require more than one session per topic.)

Thus, we are not in danger of running out of material any time soon. Frankly, if a lodge wound up recycling lessons every couple of years, that would still be a great improvement over the current situation, where Masonic Education Version 2.0 is often neglected. Anyway, it is often an advantage to consider the same material, separated by a period of time; we come to the material having matured somewhat during the intervening period. In addition, many lodges are growing, and over the course of a year or two, a substantial number of new brethren will enter the lodge who will not have heard a given lesson.

We have a treasury of symbolic material to consider in Masonic Education V.2.0. Let us help our brethren and ourselves to explore and apply this symbolism in our lives as Masons and as men in today’s society.

[Commercial announcement: My own lessons on Masonic education on some of these topics are available through the website of LVX Publishing Company (; one lesson is available for immediate sale, two others will be available within a matter of days, and I expect to release two new lessons monthly for the forseeable future.]

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