black and white,floor,checkers,good,evil

The Checkered Flooring

The mosaic pavement of the lodge is discussed in the lecture of the first degree.

This is commonly described as the checkered carpet which covers the floor of the lodge. The lecture says that the mosaic pavement “is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple” and is “emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil.”

mosaic pavement, black and white floor

In the account of King Solomon’s Temple in the Bible, the ground floor is said to be made of pine or fir, depending on which translation of the Bible that you read (1 Kings 6:15). It is hard to imagine that pine or fir flooring would be particularly mosaic in nature. However, it can be agreed that the mosaic pavement represents the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple in the Entered Apprentice degree because that ceremony symbolically takes place in that location

While these facts may not be particularly intriguing, the symbolism of the checkered carpeting presents some interesting concepts.

Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry discusses the symbol of the the mosaic pavement.

The mosaic pavement in an old symbol of the Order. It is met with in the earliest rituals of the last century. It is classed among the ornaments of the lodge along with the indented tessel and the blazing star. Its party-colored stones of black and white have been readily and appropriately interpreted as symbols of the evil and good of human life.

So from this information, it can be understood that the concept of duality has played a part in Masonic symbolism since the early days of the fraternity. While duality is not often discussed in the ritual of the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite mentions this concept numerous times. The Rite makes the ideas of dualism, or opposition, in the universe an important part of its theme. Indeed, the ideas of the Kabbalah and the Alchemists are used in the Scottish Rite to discuss this concept in several of the degrees.2

The lecture pertaining to the 15th Degree, Knight of the East and West, discusses the idea of duality or good and evil as a conflict. Pike writes “God is great, and good, and wise. Evil and pain and sorrow are temporary, and for wise and beneficent purposes…Ultimately, Good will prevail, and Evil be overthrown.”3

But while this idea of duality and the conflict between good and evil are cause for contemplation, it can be confusing to understand how they apply to our actions as Masons.

black and white, good and bad

When thinking about the idea of duality and the concept of good and evil, black and white, sacred and profane, an image that immediately enters my mind is that of the Yin-Yang.

While this symbol has become a sort of pop culture icon in recent times, its symbolism is deep and its meaning applicable to this subject. While it has numerous interpretations, the yin-yang demonstrates the concept of duality and balance.4

This symbolic balance is an important term because of the position of the checkered carpet: the floor, where the foundation of the erect human body may be found. The Mason is taught to avoid irregularity and intemperance and to divide his time equally by the use of the twenty-four inch gauge. These lessons refer to the importance of balance in a Mason’s life. Therefore, the symbolism of the mosaic pavement could be interpreted to mean that balance provides the foundation for our Masonic growth.

Maintaining balance allows us to adhere to many Masonic teachings. By maintaining balance, we may be able to stand upright in our several stations before God and man. The Entered Apprentice is charged to keep balance in his life so that he may ensure public and private esteem. It is also very interesting that the concept of justice is represented by a scale which is balanced and that justice is described as being the foundation of civil society in the first degree of Masonry.

There is a vast variety of symbolism presented to the new initiate in the first degree. It is very easy for the symbol of the mosaic pavement and its several meanings to be lost in the sea of information provided upon our first admission into the lodge. But a deeper look demonstrates that this symbol serves to demonstrate ideals which form the foundation of our individual Masonic growth, the Masonic fraternity, and even the entire human society. Living in balance makes us healthy, happy, and just. If our feet are well balanced, both literally and figuratively, we may be able to serve the purpose of the fraternity faithfully.

  1. Mackey, Albert. An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences p. 494
  2. Hutchens, Rex. A Bridge to Light p. 18
  3. Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma p. 274
  4. Symbols and Their Meaning. Kjos Ministries
Three Types of Freemasons

Three Types of Masons

The best things in life come in threes, like friends, dreams, and memories.

rules of three

I’ve always believed in the concept of threes and the power of the triangle. Being a management consultant specializing in Information Technology, I’ve encountered this phenomenon too many times to consider it to be nothing but a coincidence. Consequently I tend to see things in “threes,” such as looking for three reasons for something to occur, three fundamental stages of growth (such as the three degrees), or identifying three characteristics of something, such as Masons. In my travels through the fraternity, it has been my experience that there are three distinctly different types of Master Masons in the world: Anonymous, Amateur, and Professional.


These are the Masons who loyally pay their dues but are never seen in the Craft Lodge. They are either incapable of attending (due to a short cable-tow, they live out of town, or simply don’t care), or they joined for the notoriety of being a Mason in the hopes it might help their professional career, or they joined in order to advance to another Masonic related body, such as the Shrine, and never look back. Lodge Secretaries are familiar with the Brother’s name, but cannot place a face to it. The Anonymous Mason is also commonly referred to as the “M.I.A. Mason” (Missing In Action).

Read: 11 Persona Types of Freemasonry – Part 1, New Members


Perhaps a better adjective for this type of Mason is “casual” as they tend to dabble in the fraternity. For example, they may occasionally make an appearance in the Craft Lodge, send in a donation for a worthy Masonic cause, or read a book or article pertaining to the fraternity. They truly like being a Mason but balk at making a major commitment to it, such as becoming an officer or serving on a committee. They are also the first to complain when a dues increase is proposed or if the Lodge doesn’t look quite right. Instead of becoming more active and finding out the cause of the problems in the Lodge, they find it easier to grouse from the sidelines thereby disrupting harmony.


In every Lodge there is a handful of Brothers you can count on for leadership and to lend a hand when the chips are down. They are intimate with the mechanics of the Lodge and the fraternity and do not hesitate to step forward when needed, and help mentor younger and less experienced Brothers so they may grow and take their place in the Craft Lodge hierarchy. The Professional Mason is not a zealous control freak with a huge ego, but rather is unselfish and appreciates the power of teamwork and the tenets of Freemasonry. He rightfully understands that Freemasonry is more about the overall Brotherhood as opposed to the glory of a single individual.

Some time ago I described “The 80/20 Rule” (aka “Pareto’s Principle”) which is a management concept commonly found in business, whereby 80% of the work is performed by 20% of the workers. We see this not only in business but in any nonprofit organization, including Freemasonry. Do not be alarmed, this is natural. In the Craft Lodge, 80% of the work is performed by the Professional Masons, and the remaining 20% is squeezed out of the Amateur and Anonymous Masons. If this is true, the Craft Lodge becomes in danger if Professional Masons are eliminated. Another danger is when an Amateur Mason rises and is elected to the East. This type of person is more interested in obtaining a Past Master’s apron, than doing anything of substance.

So, the question arises, “What kind of Mason are you?” I guess it ultimately comes down to why you joined the fraternity. If you are truly seeking further light, then you are on the right path. If not, you will probably be nothing more than an Amateur or Anonymous Mason, and we have too many of them already.

Keep the Faith.

Freemasonry From the Edge
Freemasonry From the Edge

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
This is a republication of the article from this site.
A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and

Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.

Also be sure to check out Tim’s “Pet Peeve of the Week” (non-Masonic related).

Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Teachings of Diogenes-Lesson 1 Emptiness


Diogenes (c. 412- c. 323 B.C ) was a very playful philosopher who liked to use great wit when challenging the values and beliefs of his fellow citizens in ancient Athens.    He lived in great poverty, probably begging and stealing his food, and steadfastly disdained all forms of luxury.   It was because of his determination to follow his own dictates and not adhere to the conventions of society that he was given the epithet “dog,” from which the name “cynic” is derived. [i]

As a lover of history I am always looking for masonic connections. Lately I have come across some writings of Diogenes and they immediately struck a cord. I am a mentor at my lodge and I always stress to every candidate that masonry isn’t a service club. It is more an individual effort rather than a group effort that makes you a mason. This doesn’t come over night; it takes some time even years to fully realize the commitment to your own personal growth. Eventually you will have an epiphany and realize that what you do in your daily life is linked directly to your masonic thinking.

Masonic growth has had its ups and downs over the centuries; the latest growth surge was just after the Second World War, however by the end of the 1960’s masonry’s growth had slowed and the next decline had started. The seventies and eighties saw several generations by passing joining the order as it appeared too old and too conformist. However with the spread of the internet and a growing middle age population who were now yearning for a purpose in a very fast paced society, people are beginning to try and make sense out of their lives. Masonry once again has become a beacon to those who wish to find themselves and a purpose in their hectic lives.

There have been many changes to freemasonry over the centuries that we all have taken for granted and all too often you hear that tired old refrain “this is how its always been done”. Well it may have in the past but now is the present and the future is waiting to greet us tomorrow. I hope by looking at the teachings of a great philosopher such as Diogenes we can learn that change rests on the individual and is timeless. So I have selected some very choice teachings of Diogenes and over the next while I shall compare them to the principles of masonry and show how we can make ourselves better masons and individuals.

Lesson No. 1

Plato was discoursing on his theory of ideas and, pointing to the cups on the table before him, said “While there are many cups in the world, there is only one ‘idea’ of a cup, and this cupness precedes the existence of all particular cups.”

“I can see the cup on the table,” interupted Diogenes, “but I can’t see the ‘cupness.'”

“That’s because you have the eyes to see the cup,” said Plato, “but”, tapping his head with his forefinger, “you don’t have the intellect with which to comprehend ‘cupness’.”

Diogenes walked up to the table, examined a cup and, looking inside, asked, “Is it empty?”

Plato nodded.

“Where is the ’emptiness’ which precedes this empty cup?” asked Diogenes.

Plato allowed himself a few moments to collect his thoughts, but Diogenes reached over and, tapping Plato’s head with his finger, said “I think you will find here is the ’emptiness’.”

I find this one of the greatest lessons a Mentor has to learn. Plato disdained Diogenes, he thought him to be uncouth and called him a “dog” or in Greek “cynic”. But the lesson taught by Diogenes is most arguments are made from false assumptions. Plato deemed that the purest form, or ideal, of the cup was in the minds eye and that the cup before them was but an imperfect copy and to further his line of logic the most imperfect was a picture of the cup drawn by an artist.

But Diogenes pointing out the empty cup found the chink in Plato’s logic and I have no doubt with great glee pointed out where to find the ideal emptiness! A few years ago I made the mistake of accepting an interesting paper “Joshua’s Missing Day” to use for lodge education with out checking its facts. I had my Plato moment when I received an email several days later that informed me that though the paper sounded good it was indeed fact less. I could have found this out had I just researched it before I used it. Strangely enough it can be found on, an urban legend website.

Many of us who joined masonry 25 or more years ago now find we are the mentors of the younger members of our lodges. Not all want this responsibility however for those who take up the challenge there is a constant need to educate ourselves so we don’t; first, fall into the trap of assuming masonry is unchanging and second, that we realize we have the power to make  change.

If the mentoring is done properly the student will suddenly get that epiphany that brings Freemasonry into sharp focus. As a Mentor of young minds, whether the candidate is 21 or 101, you must always be sure of your teachings. Everyone has their own ideas as to what Masonry is, but it is up to the mentor to make sure they have the right idea. You can’t just say the Principles are Truth, Relief and Brotherly Love; your actions have to be their shining example! That way no one can come up to you and tap you on the head and say Freemasonry is an empty cup. We must study the history of freemasonry and we must also interpret it to today’s society.

Masonry should not be a stagnant unchanging society. Its principles are universal and it in some part should change, however it does get stuck and needs a push from time to time and that’s the job of good mentors.

Lesson 2 – Honesty
Lesson 3 – Light of Teaching

[i] From the web site of David Quinn

Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald
Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald


Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald

A man is not measured by how tall he stands,

But by how often he bends to help, comfort and teach!

Two publications Every Mason should pick up!


Two publications that I happened upon today (one that landed in my mailbox and the other that landed in my cart).

The first happens to be a Masonic publication from The Masonic Society, aptly called The Journal of the Masonic Society, issue No. 2.

You may recognize the cover, I know it’s familiar to me. This second issue is late in coming for the Autumn edition, but worth the wait. It contains some very key contributions from across North America on topics including membership, esoterica, and a lil something in there from me. Its not often that an artist gets to write his own introduction to his work. This publication is living up to its early press and delivering a quality piece of work with a wide array of content and insight. And the artwork and layout is just stunning.

Secret Societies

The other publication has been out for a while, but after seeing a copy in a lodge brothers hand, I knew I had to pick myself up one.

This one comes from the US News and World Report and is a compendium of their series on Secret Societies aptly called Mysteries of History – Secret Societies. Its a pretty dense issue pushing almost 90 pages and no ads. I found my copy on the newsstand, but it was the last copy on the shelf. It goes into some detail (from the cover) on the Masons, Religious Cults, Scientology, Opus Dei, the Mafia, Skull and Bones, and more! Not exactly the cast of characters that Freemasonry likes to be associated with, but certainly a conspiracy theorists dream journal.

I’m looking forward to the chance to dig into them, but have to admit I’ve read through the Journal most of the way through today. Both will be good reads for anyone looking for a news or book lite experience. And, they look pretty spiffy too.

You can get The Journal of the Masonic Society Here
and You can pick up the Mysteries of History – Secret Societies Here.

Masonic Central Podcast

Chris Hodapp on Masonic Central

Masonic Central podcast

In this episode, originally recorded on November 23, 2008, Greg and Dean are joined by the esteemed Masonic author, Chris Hodapp.

The author of many books on Freemasonry, most notably  Freemasons For Dummies and Solomon’s Builders, Chris Hodapp is one the strongest voices for American Freemasonry today.

Chris joined us on Masonic Central to talk about Freemasonry, his work as an author. In the episode, Chris noted that he didn’t come from a long line of masons, instead coming to the fraternity after attending a masonic funeral. Initiated through a one-day class, Chris swiftly joined the ranks of the fraternity climbing out of necessity into lodge leadership and into a stratospheric career in the craft.

In our conversation we dig into the success (and failures) of one-day classes and what they meant to the fraternity at the time. His story, much like the man himself, is a dynamic one.

Chris Hodapp has been a tireless soldier for the fraternity in print, as well as in his blog Freemasons for Dummies, and in lodge as one of the founders of the one of the early Traditional Observance Lodges, Lodge Vitruvian. Back then, Chris also took up the mantle of the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Masonic Society the flagship publication of the, then new, Masonic Society. Chris has made great strides in making Freemasonry accessible to an increasingly curious public.

Masonic author Chris Hodapp.
Chris Hodapp

One area we dig into is his work with the Knights of the North and their answers to Dwight Smith’s questions on the future of the fraternity: Laudable Pursuit: A 21st Century Response to Dwight Smith. That work sought to provide answers to many of the challenges facing Freemasonry in 2008 the effects of which we see in the fraternity today.

Some of the points we hit in this conversation include:

  • Advertising Freemasonry
  • Which members are being lost (hint, hint, it’s demits and NPDs)
  • Origin of the Freemasons for Dummies book
  • The Dan Brown conspiracy craze (before Q-Anon, of course)
  • and, the founding of the Masonic Society

Chris was a great guest and this was a fun show to host and go back and listen to. You can find more from Chris on his website: Freemasons for Dummies blog.

Masonic works by Chris Hodapp:

  • Solomon’s Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C.
  • Heritage Endures: Perspectives on 200 Years Of Indiana Freemasonry
  • Deciphering the Lost Symbol: Freemasons, Myths and the Mysteries of Washington, D.C.
  • The Templar Code For Dummies
  • Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies

W.Bro. S. Brent Morris – on Masonic Central

Brent Morris

W. Br. S. Brent Morris – Sunday, November 9, 2008

Editor of “The Scottish Rite Journal” and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry.

S. Brent Morris, joined the Masonic Central podcast where he discussed the importance of the Scottish Rite in the 21st Century, the differences/similarities between the Scottish Rite and the York Rite, American Masonry today and shared his thoughts on how to proceed into 21st century Masonry.

In this podcast Morris discusses his personal Masonic journey including his time as the first (and only) American to head the Quatuor Coronati lodge of research and delve into the nuanced history of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in America.

We also talk about the development of the Scottish Rite Journal (the largest Masonic publication in the world with more than 250,000 circulation) from its former incarnation as the the New Age Magazine.

In this episode we dig deep into the issues facing Freemasonry (member retention), masonic literacy and the future of the gentle craft. This was a fascinating conversation to get to know Brent and his amazing work in furthering the fraternity.

This podcast was originally recorded on Sunday, November 9, 2008.

More from W. Br. S. Brent Morris: Landmarks And Liabilities.

More on S. Brent Morris.

Masonic Central Podcast

Stephen Dafoe

Stephen Dafoe

In this episode of Masonic Central, originally recorded on October 12, 2008, Greg and Dean are joined by the esteemed author and historian Stephen Dafoe. We dig into all things Templar delving into their historic past and their meaningful significance to Freemasonry today.

It was a great discussion and one sure to illuminate the wide topic of the Knights Templar and Freemasonry.

Some of the topics we dig into include:

The road from batman to Freemasonry

  • Why he joined the fraternity
  • His Templar comic Outremer
  • Why Friday the 13th is so memorable
  • Knights Templar vs. Knight Hospitallers
  • The Mystery of Oak Island

Stephen brings the Templars down to earth and helps shake the illusion of bigger than life personalities that pervade current portrayals of the mythic knighthood. As a bonus, this was a fun episode to record and listen to and it comes out in the conversation. Stephen is a great voice to listen to and Dean and Greg cut it up like they always do. Plus, a few guests pop in with questions and we get down to the real meaning history and secrets of Baphomet!

More from Stephen Dafoe:

More on the web about Stephen Dafoe.

Masonic Central Podcast

Table Talk: All Things Freemasonry

Masonic Central podcast

This episode was recorded on August 10th, 2008. In it, Greg and Dean host an open forum for a round table discussion on all things Freemasonry. Our usual cadre of hosts will be on as well as our special callers but in this episode, we invite the Masonic community to participate by calling in and asking the hosts of the show questions about the fraternity and letting us know what they think about Freemasonry. Tim Bryce joins us on the show to talk about summer lodge closing, degrees from around the world, lodges doing specialized labors and the “hidden nooks in lodges” where the relics of the temple are stored.

We have a special appearance by the Millennial Freemason.

This was a really fun episode to listen back to relieve the comrade of the conversation. I think you’ll enjoy listening to it again, too.

Masonic Central Podcast

Masonic Central: John Ratcliff

Masonic Central podcast

In this episode, Dean and Greg spent some time with John Ratcliff, a Freemason under the Grand Lodge of Missouri. Recorded June 22, 2008, this episode covered several topics relevant to Freemasons including his own personal story into Freemasonry, blogging, books on Freemasonry, esoteric Freemasonry vs. ritual magic, symbolism, the Boy Scouts, and traveling to visit other lodges.

This episode is unique as it features an impromptu candid conversation with a brother about regular life—something lost in the social landscape today.

It was a pretty dense conversation.

Some notable points in the show touched on:

  • Esotericism vs. non-esotericism
  • Why people believe in the “fantastic”
  • John’s philosophy behind the fraternity
  • And what it means for a man to be a “Good Mason.”

John even challenged Greg to define his ideas of the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry.