Isn’t a ‘mercenary’ a warrior? Well, yes…and…

In our world that is torn by conflicts and warfare, we understand that a professional soldier who is hired to fight, without regard for what is right or which nation employs him, is a mercenary.  He may be of great skill in combat, but his reason for taking up arms is to be rewarded with money, not peace.

So it is odd to the common man who knows only this meaning that we ask every Candidate for our mysteries about mercenary motives.

The educated man understands that there are some men who are motivated purely by the desire for rank and fortune.  These are mercenary motives.  These are reasons to exclude a man from our Fraternity.  Such men will not appreciate the lessons of Freemasonry.

For this reason we guard the West Gate.

Magnanimity

The common man may equate this word with ‘magnanimous’ as a synonym for ‘generous’.

The educated man, and a Mason, learn that there is a more profound meaning.  

More than one dictionary defines ‘magnanimity’ as having a well-founded positive confidence about himself, that is demonstrated to others by a generous nature, a noble purpose in life, and great courage in the face of challenges. These are the themes of the three established degrees in Freemasonry.  These are the qualities of character that are elaborated in the lecture embracing the word ‘magnanimity’.

Thus, in one word that is well-placed in our Work, we understand the qualities of character expected of every Mason.

Indigence.

An educated man appreciates that this word is applied to the poor, the marginalized, the homeless of our country.  They experience poverty on a daily basis. 

The man becoming a Mason in our tyled Lodges is reminded that charity and benevolence are truly Masonic ornaments.  And the Mason reflecting on all the steps of his Masonic career will appreciate that he entered the Fraternity in a state of indigence when he was prepared in the anteroom. 

It is through experiencing the lessons of the three established degrees that his poverty is relieved and he is made whole – and made a Mason.

A Presentation . . .

What a delight it is to learn that someone respected my research enough to use it as the basis of a presentation of Masonic Education!

Bro. Trevor McKeown is an esteemed and well-regarded Mason, active in the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. He was present for an online meeting of a lodge in his jurisdiction when I presented my talk on ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’.

Recently he addressed an online meeting hosted by the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. Bro. McKeown shared some anecdotes and wonderful photos of the Past Master’s Jewels that are part of the archives of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Then he shared some of the research on the Master’s Emblem.

Bro. McKeown is very familiar with Masonic history and research. He has earned the respect of internationally-renowned Masonic scholars and holds membership in the premier Masonic research Lodge: Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (UGLE).

In his presentation Bro. McKeown cited my research, and added several points from his own consideration of the writings of others.

What connected the first part of his presentation on the Past Master’s Jewel, and the Master’s Emblem, is (of course) Euclidean geometry. The Past Master’s Jewel is well-known to represent the 47th Problem of the First Book of Euclid. And the Master’s Emblem can also be traced to the First Book of Euclid. I detail that connection in the book.

There are two prepared talks in the book ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’. So additional research is not needed. The talks may be delivered — as is — in a Masonic Lodge.

As the author of ‘The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons’, I am available to provide an online presentation during this time of pandemic. I have already delivered the talk to several Lodges in several jurisdictions. Please feel free to contact me at info@mastersemblem.com to discuss a presentation to you or your Lodge.

“Hoodwink” means what?

To the uninitiated man, a hoodwink is an object.  It is that cloth device used to cover the eyes.  Perhaps he recalls a scarf tied around his head for the children’s game of ‘blind man’s buff’.

 A well-read man may recall stories of a person being deceived, or hoodwinked, into believing a falsehood. 

The educated man, and an initiated Mason, will appreciate an older meaning of the word ‘hoodwink’.  In the years before speculative Freemasonry as we understand it came to be, a hoodwink was understood as the act of concealing knowledge from a man; and it was aligned with the word ‘hele’. 

In our ritual then, the hoodwink is an object applied to the Candidate to conceal from his view the knowledge that is revealed when he sees Masonic light.

Land of Saints and Scholars

Ireland is known as ‘The Land of Saints and Scholars’. What a grand opportunity it must have been for young James Agar to enter Trinity College in Dublin on this day (May 6) in 1775! Now Trinity College is home to the most popular tourist attraction in Ireland — The Long Room Library. But in 1775 the focus was on a complete education in literature, scripture, Latin, and geometry.

(This is a photo of me with a textbook from the 1790s at the Trinity College Rare Book Room)

I’ve not heard that word before…

Hele

When spoken this word sounds the same as ‘heal’ or ‘heel’.  In the ritual it rhymes with words around it such as ‘conceal’, and ‘reveal’.  Indeed, the initiate hearing the word hele for the first time will begin to understand that it probably has a meaning connected to secrecy.  The educated man has learnt that ‘hele’ is a proper word of the Scots language, and that this word means to keep a secret.

Thus the initiated Mason learns that he is being instructed three times over to respect secrecy.

And the sources of our Masonic ritual are better appreciated. 

I do note that in some places the word hele is pronounced as ‘hale’ or ‘hail’. There are explanations for this pronunciation that are — in my opinion — separated from the elegant simplicity, rhythm, rhyme, and context, of the lecture.

Go big…

The word ‘dilate’ is usually heard in a health-care setting. When you visit an optometrist you may receive some drops in your eyes to dilate the pupils. The common man understands this is a verb, an action.  It is to physically make something wider or larger. 

A Candidate receiving his first instructions within the tyled recesses of a Masonic Lodge may simply accept that there is a further meaning.  And indeed, when he explores this word with his sponsors and mentors he will learn that there is a further meaning. 

As Masonry comes to us from an earlier age, an older meaning is intended of the word ‘dilate’ in our lectures.  That meaning is to describe something, or to speak about something in detail and for a long time.  Within the context of the lecture that deals with a virtue that is close to every Mason’s heart, it is hoped that the virtue is so well understood by the Candidate that we do not have to pause and give examples.  Rather, we can immediately continue and see that virtue demonstrated by the Candidate.

“Do it with Enthusiasm” means something else to a Mason

Enthusiast.

Today we want things done with enthusiasm, and we see an enthusiast as someone who is happy to do something.  The educated man understands that this was not always the meaning, and our Ritual draws from this earlier time to offer a warning.  Early in the 1700s there was a religious movement recognized as heretical, or contrary to then-current religious dogma.  Adherents were called enthousiastes and met with opposition by ecclesial authorities.  Knowing this earlier meaning and the circumstances that gave rise to it allow the initiate and Mason to properly appreciate the full meaning of the lecture describing the plumb rule.

What is a cardinal?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Cardinal

Look!  Is it a red bird?  Is it a baseball player?  Is it a leader of the Catholic church?  No.  It has something to do with virtues.  How can that be?  An outdoorsman, or navigator, or one who has worked with a compass to determine a direction might recall the four cardinal points of the compass being north, east, south, and west.  It is the educated man who understands that a ‘cardinal rule’ is the most profound rule, and that the ‘cardinal virtues’ are those natural virtues which are so important that all other virtues derive from them.  The cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, can be traced in both religion and philosophy to earliest times.  They are so fundamental, crucial, and important, that all other virtues hinge upon them.  The newly initiated Mason learns that when the four cardinal virtues are practised together with the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), then within our fraternity may be found the three great social treasures of fraternity, liberty, and equality.  The cause of good then hinges on the cardinal virtues.

Provided for your daily advancement in Masonic knowledge from the Sarnia District Masonic Library.  Wor. Bro. Marshall Kern, Librarian & Historian.