The following is the introduction to the Fellow of the Craft, a book on the second degree of Scottish Rite Masonry. Where and when the final work will see publication is still to be determined. In the mean time, I thought it would be good to share and discuss.
In totality, the Rite degree differs from the Webb-Preston ritual, as it lends itself to the 32 degrees of Scottish Rite progression. From a traditionalist point of view, these degrees may seem heretical in that they lend themselves to see the 32 degree progression, a divergence from the idea of “no degree greater than the third.”
The title of this complete work is By Wisdom a House is Built which stems from the degree prayer In strength shall this, my house, be established which in itself comes from the 24th Proverb whose 3rd and fourth verse reads:
By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
The degree of becoming a Fellow of the Craft is, in essence, the building of ones house from foundation to eaves.
Intelligence to understand, Honesty to guide intelligence, Courage to act, Prudence to guide courage, and Love to humanity composed of the four others….
…By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established…
The true alchemist will extract the lessons of wisdom from the babblings of folly…
The second degree is our enigma. Having undertaken the ritual and trials of the first degree, we now are at a crux in that we are in one aspect the coalesced form of Malkuth yet faced with our next stage of evolution, an evolution that necessitates our further need to be transformed and given shape for the tasks before us both here and beyond this degree. To do this we need to study and learn – not simply what it means to be a mason but how that practical application applies to the world around us and our interactions on the material influences that we encounter. Why we do this, you will remember, is to relate our own elemental being, as Malkuth, to the elemental world in which we have both become and inhabit. We are Malkuth, the elemental world, and need to now traverse the path of Tav upon the pillar of mercy towards our apex in the craft lode in becoming Master. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves and must first begin our lesson of the Second Degree and the implementation of our will into manifested action to act the square to all mankind. This is our summation of all things, our end which is without end. In the Christian VSL, it begins with the utterance of the Great Architect in saying “Let there be LVX“, and then there was LVX. So too, as LVX was created man become the blazing star of LVX so too uttering our creative force. To realize that vision, as a traveler, we must climb the steps and reach our gnosis which we do through our wisdom journey to surmount the three steps of our existence, the five steps out antiquity, and the seven steps of knowledge, and only there at the top can we acknowledge our being as a fellow of the craft as it is there that we find our self – the man made manifest as he knocks upon the door of greater illumination. As the warning above the temple door reads, “Know Thyself” because “as what you seek you already are.” Little in this journey will change you in a manner you may expect. Rather it is in the subtle shifting of thought that the greatest and most noble developments will occur. This is the middle chamber, the way before the Holy of Holies which is where the need to transform must take place before venturing forward. While these ideas may seem strange and foreign know that they have been a manner of practice for millennia in the houses of wisdom and schools of the sacred. We cannot say with certainty these ideas existed in their present form but in a manner of cause and effect they have been a part of this sacred practice to bring its students from the earthly state to the celestial so as to see the various heavenly apartments above us in the unfolding universe. This is the mystic tie that binds us – as a fellow of the craft, as a lodge, as a member of humankind, and as one can imagine to the Great Creator. In this chain of union, the brilliance of the sun illuminates us, and the moon and stars sing us the glories of the divine harmony of Truth. As the great author Pike says “Light! All comes from Light, and all returns to it.” Of the many great lessons of this degree to be learned this is the most important to understand.
As the great book itself says, “Let there be LVX!”
From the three steps to the five steps, we now stand at the landing of of the middle chamber. On this journey we have climbed much – traversing up Jacob’s ladder in the first degree, climbed the first series of three steps and introduced to their significance in our maturity with an introduction to the Kaballah. Then, we traversed upon the next five steps where we were illustrated the role of architecture and to our senses to take in the exoteric and esoteric undertaking of the degree. Now, before us we confront the next leg, the next seven steps that have such meaning that they can scarcely be fully understood as they are contained in their presentation.
The seven steps allude to the seven Sabbatical years, seven years of famine, seven years in building the Temple, seven golden candlesticks, Seven Wonders of the World, seven wise men of the east, seven planets; but, more especially, the seven liberal arts and sciences, which are: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy
Each of these arts, as they are defined come with a specific exoteric meaning, they are what they presume to be, and by that I mean that they are in fact what we consider comparable to be the Liberal Arts of study in university today.
At first blush, seven dissonant elements are mentioned first, but our concentration must first come to focus on the latter 7, the seven liberal arts and sciences. But why study a liberal arts course of study? Harvard, a school of some esteem and founded well before Masonry organized under its present day Grand Lodge system, says of a present day liberal arts education that “A liberal education is…a preparation for the rest of life.”
It goes on to say a liberal education…
“…is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry undertaken without concern for topical relevance or vocational utility. This kind of learning is not only one of the enrichments of existence; it is one of the achievements of civilization. It heightens students’ awareness of the human and natural worlds they inhabit. It makes them more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more self-conscious and critical of their presuppositions and motivations, more creative in their problem-solving, more perceptive of the world around them, and more able to inform themselves about the issues that arise in their lives, personally, professionally, and socially. College is an opportunity to learn and reflect in an environment free from most of the constraints on time and energy that operate in the rest of life.”
Though the idea of what a liberal study was at the time of their inclusion in Masonry, the principal of that study was the same. This is no subtle assertion; the creators of the Masonic degrees agreed and included in them the instruction to pursue the study of this program to better make the Mason. In short, to make the man a better man with a firm understanding of the Liberal Arts is a necessary foundation for his being.
But what exactly does that mean? To see that answer, we must look at what resides within the study of the liberal arts as instructed by Duncan’s Monitor. To do that, we need to break down what the study of the Liberal Arts would entail in its age of inclusion.
The body of rules describing the properties of the English language. A language is such that its elements must be combined according to certain patterns, its morphology, the building blocks of language; and syntax, the construction of meaningful phrases, clauses and sentences with the use of morphemes and words.
The first codex for English grammar, concisely called Pamphlet for Grammar was compiled/written by William Bullokar, and was written with the ostensible goal of demonstrating that English was just as worthy and rule-bound as was Latin, and was published in 1586. Bullokar’s grammar was faithfully modeled on William Lily’s Latin grammar, Rudimenta Grammatices (1534), which was a Latin text and was used in schools in England at that time, as it was “prescribed” for them in 1542 by Henry VIII.
From early on we can see that the use of language was seen as an important necessity and that the study of Grammar and the use of language in communication of ideas to others as an important aspect of transferring knowledge.
Like grammar, is the art of using language to communicate effectively and persuasively involving three audience appeals: logos which is the “reason or the rational principle expressed in words and things”, pathos which is the ” the quality or power, esp in literature or speech, of arousing feelings of pity, sorrow”, and ethos which is the ” the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era,”, as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Along with grammar and logic or dialectic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse dating back to antiquity and the great works of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle of whose surviving texts we can read today. From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, rhetoric was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments rather than coercion of force.
It is the use of language in persuasion of others, an interesting Masonic application, indeed.
With its origins from the Greek λογική logikē, is the study of arguments – Grammar and Rhetoric together. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. Logic examines general forms which arguments may take comparing which forms are valid, and which are fallacies. It is a form of critical thinking. In philosophy, the study of logic figures into most major areas of focus: epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics. In mathematics, it takes place in the study of valid inferences within some formal language.
Clearly, we can see that Logis is the application of Grammar and Rhetoric together.
These three areas of study composed what the medieval universities called the tritium, meaning the “three roads” or “three ways” which was necessary in preparation for the quadrivium which are the next four liberal arts of ancient study. The use and preparation of this work was principally for the deeper study of philosophy and theology both noble arts in this period of the middle ages and Renaissance. The four studies came from the curriculum as outlined by Plato in the Republic, as written in the seventh book. The same quadrivium was suggested to of come from the Pythagoreans, as Proclus wrote in A commentary on the first book of Euclid’s Elements:
The Pythagoreans considered all mathematical science to be divided into four parts: one half they marked off as concerned with quantity, the other half with magnitude; and each of these they posited as twofold. A quantity can be considered in regard to its character by itself or in its relation to another quantity, magnitudes as either stationary or in motion. Arithmetic, then, studies quantities as such, music the relations between quantities, geometry magnitude at rest, spherics [astronomy] magnitude inherently moving”
Arithmetic,then, is the simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations involving the study of quantity, especially as the result of combining numbers. In day to day usage it refers to the simple properties of traditional operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with small number values.
The origins of Arithmetic are thought to date back to as early as 20,000 B.C.E. from ancient tally marks on bone, however earliest records date back to the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians of 2000 B.C.E. with numeral systems and counting marks. Continuous historical development of modern Arithmetic begins in the Hellenistic period of Greece with a close relationship to philosophical and mystical beliefs such as in the works of Euclid and Pythagoras, both Masonic patriarchs.
From the Greek as earth-measurement, geometry is concerned with the determination of shape, size, relative position of figures, and the properties of space. Euclid, Archimedes, Descartes, Kepler, and Pythagoras are but a few who are a part of this 5000 year old art of lengths, angles, area, and volume, of which works can be found in ancient Egypt and Babylon too. A fantastic example of their prowess we look to still today in the Great Pyramids of Giza.
The advanced study of Geometry today looks not just into the dimension and space of number, but into its correlation to physics, algebra, and string theory just to name a few as it puts to measure both the physical and invisible universe.
The art of the muses, is an art form whose medium is found in the creation of sound. Common elements of music are to be found in pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts of tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture.
More than the study of melody and song, the Pythagoreans of ancient Greece were the first researchers believed to have investigated the expression of music in scale in terms of numerical ratios, particularly the ratios of small integers. Their central doctrine was that “all nature consists of harmony arising out of number”
On Pythagoreans scale, the Greek Pythagorean and Presocratic philosopher
Philolaus says in Carl Huffman’s “Philolaus,”
A musical scale presupposes an unlimited continuum of pitches, which must be limited in some way in order for a scale to arise. The crucial point is that not just any set of limiters will do. We cannot just pick pitches at random along the continuum and produce a scale that will be musically pleasing. The scale that Philolaus adopts is such that the ratio of the highest to the lowest pitch is 2 : 1, which produces the interval of an octave. That octave is in turn divided into a fifth and a fourth, which have the ratios of 3 : 2 and 4 : 3 respectively and which, when added, make an octave. If we go up a fifth from the lowest note in the octave and then up a fourth from there, we will reach the upper note of the octave. Finally the fifth can be divided into three whole tones, each corresponding to the ratio of 9 : 8 and a remainder with a ratio of 256 : 243 and the fourth into two whole tones with the same remainder. Thus, in Philolaus’ system the fitting together of limiters and unlimiteds involves their combination in accordance with ratios of numbers. Similarly the cosmos and the individual things in the cosmos do not arise by a chance combination of limiters and unlimiteds; the limiters and unlimiteds must be fitted together in a pleasing way in accordance with number for an order to arise. Fragment 6a suggests that Philolaus saw the cosmos as put together according to the diatonic scale. This would be very much in accord with the famous conception of the harmony of the spheres according to which the heavenly bodies make harmonious music as they move, but neither in Philolaus nor any other early source do we get an explicit account of how the musical scale corresponds to the astronomical system.
As you can see, the study of music, in its basic form of composition and in its deeper esoteric study, lends itself to the exploration of mathematics, logic, and geometry, which can lead to a better understanding of the universe itself, which brings us to the last element in this progression.
More precisely called astrology in its earliest Western study.
Astrology and astronomy were archaically one and the same discipline (Latin: astrologia), and were only gradually recognized as separate in Western 17th century philosophy during the “Age of Reason”. Since that time the two have come to be regarded as completely separate disciplines.
Astronomy, then, is the study of objects and phenomena from beyond the Earth’s atmosphere which is a science and widely studied in academic discipline discovering the expanse of the heavens in planets, stars, and other stellar phenomena. Astrology, which uses the positions of celestial objects as the foundation for predictions of future events, and other esoteric knowledge, which is not considered a science and is often seen as a form of divination.
The early astronomer/astrologer, despite its predictive application, would use the study of celestial bodies and chart the astrological movements in space which in turn were applied to correspondences in day to day life of those who he charted them for. Many renaissance scientists were astronomer/astrologers including Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler. The infamous John Dee, astrologer and Magus for the court of Elizabeth I in 1558. Its suggested that by his charts he selected Elizabeth’s coronation date. The practice was in keeping with their earlier study pattern of the liberal arts and not seen as abhorrent to their conclusions in their time.
Scoffed at in academic circles today, the realm of astrology is often the fodder for cheap periodicals and psychic infomercials. In its deeper recesses we can link it to the study of the Kabbalah and the Western mystery traditions and find parallels to our perceptions and ideas even in our Masonic symbolism. Just a quick look at the Holy Saints John again will remind us of our own pairing of earth bound ideas to the equatorial poles of our sun’s annual transition from summer to winter and back again. Perhaps this is coincidence, or by design, in either case it gives us a link to our past in the Liberal studies. This is, in some aspect of antiquity, the role of astrology and the cycle of mankind and our understanding of it.
Notwithstanding the work in Duncan’s or in more localized versions of the Work, the number seven has a deep and rich symbolic significance within many circles. Cirlot, in his A Dictionary of Symbols says of the number seven that it is “Symbolic of perfect order, a complete period or cycle…composed of the ternary and quaternary and … endowed with exceptional value.” He goes on to suggest that it corresponds to the seven directions of space and to the reconciliation of the square with the triangle – the sky over the earth. Seven is the number expressing the sum of heaven and earth.
Now, as we have looked at the seven liberal arts it is necessary to turn back to the dissonant collection at the beginning of this section of steps to look at some of the other connections mentioned in Duncan’s Ritual Monitor to bring them into resonance. In this degree, Duncan mentions the seven Sabbatical years, seven years of famine, seven years in building the Temple, seven golden candlesticks, Seven Wonders of the World, seven wise men of the east, and seven planets. Briefly we must touch on what each of those things mentioned in the 7’s allude to and see if we can find any deeper esoteric meaning behind them to get a glimpse of their significance or meaning to Masonry.
The Number Seven
The Seven Sabbatical years, known also as Shmita, is the seventh year of a seven-year agricultural cycle as mandated by the Torah for the use of the Land of Israel. During that 7th year the land is to lay fallow and all agricultural activity on it stops (excluding some maintenance) and comes from the Book of Leviticus which makes promise of bountiful harvests to those who are observant:
Leviticus 25:20-22 N.I.V. 20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” 21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. 22 While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
The seven years of famine stems literally from Genesis 41:30 which reads “And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land” which follows a 7 year period of great abundance. Interestingly, there are other activities in the period of the Sabbatical year, in which debts are to be forgiven as it is considered a Godly act, which becomes a component of the focus in that seventh year.
The seven years in building the Temple is clearly the story of Solomon building the temple in which…King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel – and the labor force was thirty thousand men . . . Solomon selected seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. (1 Kings 5:13; 2 Chronicles 2:2). According to 1 Kings 6:38 The work of the temple took seven years saying:
“And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.”
The seven golden candlesticks, literally from Revelations 1:20 (NIV) which reads
“The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lamp stands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches.”
This could, interpretively, be seen as the Menorah which is a seven branched candelabrum used in the ancient Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness (not to be confused with the nine branched Menorah used at Hanukkah. The Great architect himself instructing Moses on the construction of the lamp in Exodus 25:31-40 a depiction of which can be found on the Arch of Titus, which is a first century Roman honorific on the Via Sacra in Rome which shows the spoils from the sack of Jerusalem.
The Menorah, when lit, was said to represent the Shekhinah, which refers to a dwelling or settling in a special sense as that of divine presence, to the effect that, while in proximity to the Shekhinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable. Its lighting, or continual ignition, is variously representative of universal enlightenment and/or the burning bush as seen by Moses.
The temple menorah is a more likely source of Masonic inspiration as it fits with the appointments of King Solomon’s Temple, to whom Masonry holds its affinity and who’s role fits more in resonance with the purpose of the degrees.
The seven wonders of the world are very straight forward and are reflections on the impressive work of the Masons (literally stone cutters) who came before the present day lodge.
The Ancient Wonders were:
The Great Pyramid of Giza from 2584-2561 BC in Egypt.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon from around 600 BC in Iraq.
The statue of Zeus at Olympia from 466-456 BC (Temple) 435 BC (Statue) in Greece.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus circa 550 BC in Turkey.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 351 BC (to which the modern AASR SJ HQ is modeled after) in Carians, Persians, Greeks
The Colossus of Rhodes from 292-280 BC in Greece.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria circa 280 BC in Hellenistic Egypt, Greece.
The seven wise men of the east were early 6th century BCE philosophers, statesmen and law-givers that were renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom. The title of Seven Wise Men (or Seven Sages) was the title given by ancient Greek tradition.
Each of these Sages represents a worldly aspect of wisdom, though each has varied over time, these are the most common:
Cleobulus of Lindos: he would say that “Moderation is the best thing.” He governed as tyranos of Lindos, in the Greek island of Rhodes, circa 600 BC.
Solon of Athens: he said that “Keep everything with moderation”. Solon (640-559 BC) was a famous legislator and social reformer from Athens, enforcing the laws that shaped the Athenian democracy.
Chilon of Sparta: authored the aphorism “You should never desire the impossible”. Chilon was a Spartan politician from the 6th century BC, to whom the militarization of the Spartan society is attributed.
Bias of Priene: “Most men are simply bad.” Bias was a politician who became a famous legislator from the 6th century BC.
Thales of Miletus: Thales is the first known philosopher and mathematician. He famously said “Know thyself”, a sentence so famous it was engraved on the front façade of the Oracle of Apollo in Delphos.
Pittacus of Mytilene (c. 650 BC), governed Mytilene (Lesbos) along with Myrsilus. He tried to reduce the power of nobility and was able to govern Mytilene with the support of popular classes, to whom he favored. He famously said “You should know which opportunities to choose”.
Periander of Corinth: he was the tyranos of Corinth circa 7th and 6th centuries BC. Under his rule, Corinth knew a golden age of unprecedented prosperity and stability. He was known for “Be farsighted with everything”.
Collectively, these wise men have been quoted and mentioned throughout antiquity and have been looked to as great men worthy of emulation if in their least for their thoughts.
Plato’s Protagoras is the oldest and most explicit mention of the 7 sages in which he says:
“…There are some, both at present and of old, who recognized that Spartanizing is much more a love of wisdom than a love of physical exercise, knowing that the ability to utter such [brief and terse] remarks belongs to a perfectly educated man. Among these were Thales of Miletus, and Pittacus of Mytilene, and Bias of Priene, and our own Solon, and Cleobulus of Lindus, and Myson of Chen, and the seventh of them was said to be Chilon of Sparta. They all emulated and admired and were students of Spartan education, and one could tell their wisdom was of this sort by the brief but memorable remarks they each uttered when they met and jointly dedicated the first fruits of their wisdom to Apollo in his shrine at Delphi, writing what is on every man’s lips: Know thyself, and Nothing too much. Why do I say this? Because this was the manner of philosophy among the ancients, a kind of laconic brevity.”
The seven planets from classical astronomy included the Sun and Moon and the five non-earth planets of our solar system closest to the sun each visible without a telescope including Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. At an early point they were considered asteres planetai or wandering stars, as they were seen as non fixed objects in the night sky.
The astute observer may notice the inclusion of the Sun and the Moon as these two objects relate to the leadership of the lodge, the pillars of wisdom, strength, and beauty, and the art of Kabbalah.
As a side note, the early seven planets were the derivatives of the names of the week; in alchemy the seven metals of the classical world: gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin, and lead which corresponded to the known planets.
How do we relate these 7’s to the degree is complex. Perhaps how Cirlot stated, each of these 7’s are elements of perfection: how to achieve perfection, how to live it, how to incorporate it, etc., giving us the map by which to seek it out.
With this, we have reached the top of the stair, and in having taken the journey we have learned what we can about the being of a Fellow of the Craft. As said earlier, this is a complex lot of knowledge and information to digest through the smallest of apertures as presented on a rolled out carpet as given in the degree lesson. It is assumed that the candidate would have knowledge of these esoteric things; in the sense that few would have studied them and even fewer committed them to memory, or that the candidate would seek out this information beyond their degree explanation to educate and enlighten himself as to what these various elements mean. This lesson in three parts is an offering of the latter in assumption that you, like the author, are in deficit of the former and not enlightened in the ways, means, and ideas of the deep and often obtuse ancient world that is so little a part of our modern one. Clearly, the second degree is a wealth of information, from the suggestion of the pillars of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty as a conduit to the study of the Kabbalah, to the understanding of our senses and their physical and spiritual meaning and to the study of alchemy in its assertion of the significance of the seven planets and what we can infer from them physically as their position in the heavens affects our life. Perhaps Thales of Miletus said it best saying “Know Thyself“ as this change is the fuel to discovering the universe, both within and without. There is much more to this statement than what rests at its surface, of both the degree and of our being and, it is with some hope that this has served to educate you to that end.
 logos. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved January 03, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/logos pathos. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 03 Jan. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pathos>. ethos. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved January 03, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ethos Jean, James, Science and Music, p154 retrieved 1/03/2011 Huffman, Carl, “Philolaus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/philolaus/>. Cirlot, J.E., A Dictionary of Symbols, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD 1962 page 283 : As the cross in three dimensions, 7 is a “Septenary number, composed of seven elements. “Ultimately, it is founded upon the seven directions of Space: two opposite directions for each dimension, plus the center. This spatial order of six dynamic elements, plus one which is static is projected into the week as a model of the septenary in the passage of time.” “Three is, in many cultures, the number pertaining to heaven (since it constitutes the vertical order of the three dimensional spatial cross) and four is associated with the earth (because of the four directions – comparable with the cardinal points of the two horizontal dimensions).” Protagoras 342e-343b, trans. R.E. Allen
The second degree lecture holds a wealth of esoteric study and contemplation. In the preceding examination we looked at the depth and meaning of the first three steps as the conductor in Duncan’s Ritual and Monitor ushers the candidate into the allegorical chamber of King Solomon’s temple. Now, the candidate is faced with a further rise of steps, Five to be exact, which is described in this text taken directly from Duncan’s Ritual and Monitor of Freemasonry:
Stepping forward to the five steps, he continues:
The five steps allude to the five orders of architecture and the five human senses.
The five orders of architecture are Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite.
For any brother reading, it’s important to take a moment to look anew at your monitor, if supplied with one, to reacquaint the reference as it relates specifically to Masonry. From an exoteric point of view, we must look to the point of origin to the Orders of Architecture, which turns our attention to the grand father of modern architecture – Vitruvius.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio
Vitruvius(born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) is described on Wikipedia as having been a Roman writer, architect and engineer (possibly praefectus fabrum , the man in charge, during military service or praefect architectus armamentarius, the man in charge of architecture, of the apparitor status group), active in the 1st century BC. By his own description Vitruvius served as a Ballista (artilleryman), the third class of arms in the military offices. He likely served as chief of the ballista (senior officer of artillery) in charge of doctor’s ballistarum (artillery experts) and libratores who actually operated the machines.
The Vitruvian Man, as illustrated by Da Vinci, was based on Vitrivius’ proportions from his writings. Those writings can be found in his collected works, commonly called De Architectura Libri Decem or Vitruvius, the ten books on architecture. In the work, Vitruvius describes an assortment of things from town planning to aqueducts.
The rediscovery of his work in the Renaissance had a profound influence on architects of the age which started the rise of the Neo-Classical style. Period architects, such as Niccoli, Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti, found in “De Architectura” reason for raising their branch of knowledge to a scientific discipline as well as emphasizing the skills of the artisan.
Further the English architect Inigo Jones, who crafted the Queens House at Greenwich in
1616 and the Banqueting house at Whitehall in 1619, and the French hydraulic engineer Salomon de Caus who designed the gardens at Somerset House and the Hortus Palatinus in Heidelberg Germany (known for its then wonders of “a statue that resounded when struck by the rays of the sun, a water-organ, and singing fountains”), and were among the first to rethink and implement the disciplines of Vitruvius which were considered a necessary element of architecture, essentially art and science based upon number and proportion, which was reinvigorating to architecture of the period. The 16th century architect Andrea Palladio who designed a number of villas, palaces, and churches in and around Venice, considered Vitrivius his master and guide, and made drawings based on Vitruvius’ work before evolving his own architectural precepts.
The idea of divine architecture came directly from Vitruvius’s work as divine proportions were very much a consideration in every design. In his book of Architecture, in Book IV the middle three pillars, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, are described in by their physical traits for use in the temples of their celestial counterparts:
“On finding that, in a man, the foot was one sixth of the height, they applied the same principle to the column, and reared the shaft, including the capital, to a height six times its thickness at the base. Thus the Doric column, as used in buildings, began to exhibit the proportion, strength, and beauty of a man.”
“Just so afterwards, when they desired to construct a temple to Diana in a new style of beauty [Ionic], they translated these footprints into terms characteristic of the slenderness of women, and thus first made a column the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height, so that it might have a taller look. At the foot, they substituted the base in place of a shoe; in the capital they placed the volutes, hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets, and ornamented its front with cymatia and wide festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons. Thus in the invention of the two different kinds of columns, they borrowed manly beauty, naked and unadorned, for the one, and for the other the delicacy, adornment, and proportions characteristic of women….”
“The third order, called Corinthian, is an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden; for the outlines and limbs of maidens, being more slender on account of their tender years, admit of prettier effects in the way of adornment.”
The story of the Corinthian column goes on to tell of its inspiration which was from the growth of an Acanthus through the basket of a young Corinth maiden’s possessions atop her tomb. The Athenian artist Callimachus passed it and took delight at its “novel style” and built columns after its form. Once he determined the dimensions and proportions it was established to the rule for the Corinthian order, thus setting, literally, into stone the symmetry of beauty.
In another instance in Vitruvius’s work he details the facing of temples so as they can be experienced in a manner in line with many of the great esoteric and religious traditions. He oriented them to be entered from the West to…
“…enable those who approach the altar with offerings or sacrifices to face the direction of the sunrise in facing the statue in the temple, and thus those who are undertaking vows look toward the quarter from which the sun comes forth, and likewise the statues themselves appear to be coming forth out of the east to look upon them as they pray and sacrifice.” – Book IV, Ch. 5
This certainly does not predate the idea of Solomon’s temple orientation, but its questionable if perhaps Vitrivius was influenced in any way by this Judaic Old Testament writing, or operating on an older principal of Temple building. In its simplest of thought, the older idea of knowledge, better thought of as wisdom, came from the East in the rising sun as it has symbolically represented the idea of a daily new beginning. The word used for one who undertakes the degrees in Masonry, an initiate, comes from the Latin initiare which means “to begin anew”. It would, no doubt, mesh with Renaissance architects as designers would see the parallels between the Old Testament Temple and the Classical temple styling to follow that same pattern.
From an esoteric stand point, we can start to infer much of how this translates to our work as a Freemason, building that unseen house . . . but this also has a practical application that would of been at the very forefront of our early forbearers thought, as with Inigo Jones, as they planned and built the neoclassical temples of the late Renaissance. Perhaps in some ways this is a vestige to our very being a Freemason, homage to the ancient practicing of our brothers in antiquity and a means to making being a Mason relevant to the teachings.
But as the degree then turns from the idea of architecture so must we to the aspect of our human senses, five in total, and their specific link to our ability to hear, see, and feel.
The degree says:
The five human senses are hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting, the first three of which have ever been highly esteemed among Masons: hearing, to hear the word; seeing, to see the sign; feeling, to feel the grip, whereby one Mason may know another in the dark as well as in the light.
Again, as the orders of architecture are of a specific physicality, so too is this treatise on the five senses of the physicality of man. It speaks much to our physically interpreting the activity around us. In many ways it is reminiscent of the motto “Aude, Vide, Tace” which from the Latin translates to say “Know, Dare, Be Silent” which goes further to suggest of the same three tactile senses said to be of greatest importance that they have a parallel union:
Hearing – knowing = to learn and understand what is being taught
Seeing – daring = to think on and consider its purpose and meaning
Feeling – touching = to be silent rather than attempting to stumble until fuller knowledge is attained
The longer Roman proverb reads – “Audi, vide, tace, si tu vis vivere” which means to “Hear, see, be silent, if you wish to live (in peace)” which can give us a cryptic undertone or a view to see the disharmony of not being silent.
This middle chamber, middle position, examination gives us much to reflect on especially as it relates to our physicality in the role of a Fellow of the Craft, but to get a broader feel we need to look more widely at the implications of the period understanding to what these five senses represented.
There be five senses in man, sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching: five powers in the soul…, five fingers of the hand, five wandering planets in the heavens…. It is also called the number of the cross, yea eminent with the principal wounds of Christ, whereof he vouchsafed to keep the scars in his glorified body. The heathen philosophers did dedicate it as sacred to Mercury, esteeming the virtue of it to be so much more excellent than the number four, by how much a living thing is more excellent than a thing without life…. Hence in time of grace the name of divine omnipotence is called upon with five letters…the ineffable name of God was [expressed] with five letters Ihesu…
Ihesu is the middle ages usage of the name of Jesus, often written in Catholicism as simply IHS which has run through both Greek and Latin translations. In Greek, it looks like Iota-eta-sigma-omicron-upsilon-sigma which becomes IESOUS in English. The H comes from the variance of eta which is epsilon, and rendered as H giving us Agrippa’s meaning.
Further in the work of Agrippa, he attributes the number Five beyond the senses touching on the planets, the animal kingdom, and five things as made by God: essence, the same (similarity), another (difference), sense, and motion. He called the number five the Pythagorean number of wedlock and justice (such we could interpret as Solomonic justice) because the number divides 10 in an even scale – Five represents the point of balance.
Clearly, we can see that Agrippa found some greater importance in the 5 senses, broadening their occult interpretations. What we can take from this is that the 5 senses can be as limited as we choose to see them or as broad as we can start to interpret them to be as most interpretations of the number 5 have similar or like meaning. In either case, they have a wide variance by which to perceive them than simply in the five points of perfection.
In these two discussions of physicality, Architecture and sense, we find two seemingly unrelated elements that in the second degree are intricately interwoven and presented by instruction as integral to the metaphorical building of Solomon’s temple, or more specifically, our own temple of inner Being. Like the great Greek and Roman pillars our senses are ever increasing importance giving our physicality a dimension to the degree. Yet, by digging deeper, through some of the more esoteric connections, we can get a sense of the power of this simple number that divides 10, a Solominc number, the number of perfection. So here, we have reached our second landing upon the staircase. We have surmounted our second series of steps in the middle chamber and come to a point of rest. Before us is the next ascent which will take us up a dizzying flight of seven steps. Though the number may seem small, its connections are many and varied and further round out the active role of our manhood which is our place of being as a Fellow of the Craft. Behind us rests the previous three and five steps – a monumental feat of climbing indeed, but before we can claim a victory over them, we must surmount the next seven and explore their potentiality in meaning.
 Vitrivius does give further instruction on temples when not able to orient them in an eastward facing saying “…if the nature of the site is such as to forbid this, then the principle of determining the quarter should be changed, so that the widest possible view of the city may be had from the sanctuaries of the gods. Furthermore, temples that are to be built beside rivers, as in Egypt on both sides of the Nile, ought, as it seems, to face the river banks. Similarly, houses of the gods on the sides of public roads should be arranged so that the passers-by can have a view of them and pay their devotions face to face.” So, what is the guide is not fixed in necessity.  What then are the five wounds of Original Sin? First, death to the soul through the loss of sanctifying grace, and consequently in due time to the body. Second, darkness in the intellect. Third, malice — an inclination to evil — in the will. Fourth, sensuality (disordered desires) in the concupiscible appetite. And fifth, irritability and aggression in the irascible appetite. their correlation follows: Death to the soul – Death of the body (heart) – Death occurs when the soul, the life principle of the body, is separated from the body, as the heart is the seat of the soul. Darkness in the intellect (and will) – the right hand, the hand of spirit – spiritual darkness, The will grasps at things by reaching out for them in desire. Malice and evil – the left hand, the sinister hand where our will is malice, a proclivity to real evil, to rebellion Sensuality of desire – the left foot, earth bound, it is the foot that sets off down the wrong path of pleasure and sin. Irritability and aggression – the right foot of strength where man’s irascible appetite is our aggressiveness and proclivity to anger.
Building Hiram and Building Boaz now have a new sibling, Building Athens.
Our good friend and Brother John Nagy has been diligently at the trestleboard and is ready to unveil is third installment in the Building Hiram series with his new book Building Athens.
The book, Building Athens, focuses on Wisdom, Insight and the Work of the Second Degree, specifically:
The Ancient Source of the Masonic EA and FC training
The Significance of “The Pass” in all Masonic Work
The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences and how they relate to “The Pass”
What Raises a Mason’s Abilities to do further Work.
In the new book he explores why the study of the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences are so critical for Masons to study.
From the books website:
In “Building Athens,” volume three of the “Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education” series, Dr. Nagy shares 12 intriguing and enlightening Masonic Catechisms that outline in depth the very purpose of the Fellow Craft education. Well established nearly 2500 years ago, the training serving this purpose Raises Masons with a specific end in mind.
Building Athens reveals:
The author of and inspiration for Fellow Craft Training.
The purpose Fellow Craft training was intended to accomplish.
The single most important word that denotes the difference between Fellow Crafts and Master Masons.
A widow’s son whose life and death redefined what it means to be heroic.
What should be known about the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences by every Mason.
What truly Raises a Fellow Craft toward Mastery.
Dr. Nagy provides you with yet one more interesting and thought-provoking guide to improve and strengthen your Masonic awareness and clarity. He shares key information and insights that will help you better understand how facets of the second Degree fit together to help you in your Building efforts.
Something that immediately caught my eye was the title and how it correlates to the work. Building Athens shares 12 intriguing and enlightening Masonic Catechisms which seems to coincide with the founding of the city of Athens and the uniting of the 12 cities under the name Athenae (Athens), where the rich, the farmer, and the artisan all shared equal rights.
You can pre-order the book now, or pick it up when it hits June 1st from the Building Athens site!