takes pride in its world wide fraternity. The Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry'.
(Vol 2 page 778) states
That sacred and invisible bond that unites men of
the most discordant opinions into one band of brothers, which gives
one language to men of all nations and one altar to men of all
religions, is properly, from the mysterious influence it exerts,
denominated the mystic tie; and Freemasons because they alone are
under its influence, or enjoy its benefits, are called brethren of the
The Grand Lodge is the sole authority
for the recognition of other Grand Lodges in various parts of the
world, provided they can satisfy certain basic principles of English
Freemasonry which include:
Their members believe in a
The Bible be open at every
Masonic meeting. When there are non- Christian members present
the Volume of the Sacred Law of their own religion must also be
The discussion of religion and
politics be prohibited in Lodges
Membership be exclusively male
which appeared on England's
web site shows the global reach of. Masonry.
Links to Masonic Sites
In the Craft
degrees (1-3) there are only minor differences which are of little consequence. For instance in Ireland the candidate does
not kiss the 'sacred volume' as he seals the ritual, but instead raises
his hand. Also in Ireland the candidate is hoodwinked only in the first
degree. In Scotland the candidate is partially hoodwinked in the second
degree. Such variances are minor.
In English Masonry the Holy Royal Arch degree is
seen as a 'completion' of the Master Mason's degree whereas in Scotland
Ireland and the USA it is one of several higher degrees and separated
from the third by other intermediate degrees.
Again, in English Masonry, rather than each
higher degree having its own individual ritual, the 4th to the 17th Degrees are conferred
at once and in name only during initiation of the selected Freemason to
the 18th Degree and the
19th to 29th are conferred nominally during the ritual of initiation to
the 30th Degree - that of Grand Elected Knight Kadosh or Knight of the
Black and White Eagle. Only then are the Degrees above the 30th conferred
The speed with which one can ascend
the Masonic ladder vary from country to country. In the USA on can race
up to 32nd in a weekend of ritual, provided one can pay for it.
Such speed would horrify Masons in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
return to top
published (and obviously used) in Scotland retain certain quaint
archaisms not found South of the Border since the eighteenth-century
exposé, except perhaps in local unprinted Northern Provincial
workings unknown to me. On the other hand, I have seen rituals
from recognised Masonic publishers which purport to give Scottish
workings that differ very little from the English. The tentative
conclusion may be drawn, therefore, that there is considerable
diversity in non-essentials, and that there has been a certain
amount of Anglicising which has in places modified earlier usages.
Lodges are as a rule numerically larger than English ones, and it is
now permissible to initiate, pass, or raise as many as five at a
time, to keep pace with increasing numbers. In England the maximum
is two per ceremony.
ritual appearing under the name of a Past Provincial Grand Master of
Forfarshire, the twelfth edition of which was published in 1950,
contains many interesting features of undoubted antiquity not
appearing in other Scottish rituals which I have seen.
taking the First Degree Obligation, for instance, the Candidate
removes his left shoe and hands it to the Master In reference to a
Biblical custom when taking an oath. This appears to duplicate the
symbolism of the slip-shod to which a similar meaning is attached. An
old catch question of the eighteenth century is introduced into the
ritual -” What did you pay for Masonry?” “An old shoe, an old
shoe of my Mother’s.”
Due-Guard is preserved (though not under that name) as a first part of
the Entered Apprentice sign, in which the hands are held horizontally
in front of the body, palms apart and facing each other, the, right
hand above and the left beneath, representing the position of the
hands on and under the Bible when taking the oath.
Obligation itself contains certain archaic features. The one-time
almost universal dedication of the Lodge “regularly assembled,
properly constituted, and dedicated to the memory of the holy St.
John” is preserved, which appears to have almost vanished in England
when the Craft was de-Christianised. Another early survival is the
clause “I will not be at the making of the following persons as
Freemasons a young man of non-age, an old man of dotage, a madman, a
fool, an atheist, a person under the influence of liquor, and a woman
under no pretence whatever.”
the preparation for the Second Degree the Candidate is ‘partially
hoodwinked,’ and the right breast is bared - not the left as in most
of the ‘proper steps’ to the East in approaching the Pedestal,
one, two, and three single steps are taken, bringing the heels
together in a square, in the three degrees respectively. In the Second
Degree, however, steps are taken ‘as if ascending a winding
staircase’ consisting of three, five, and seven steps, but this is
after the conferment of the secrets, to bring the Candidate into the
South-East corner where the Charge is given him.
is some diversity in the Fellow-Craft signs. In the Hailing sign, for
instance, the right fist may support the left elbow, and in the Penal
sign, instead of drawing the right hand across the breast and dropping
it to the side, a gesture is sometimes made as if tearing out the
heart and casting it over the shoulder.
chief characteristic of most Scottish workings, however, is the more
dramatic ceremony of raising to the Third Degree.
Although this extended
working may be abbreviated or omitted, it appears to be of some
antiquity, and must surely make a more vivid impression on the
Candidate’s mind. The ceremony proceeds as in other workings as far
as the symbolical slaying by the Right Worshipful Master, only the
lights are not dimmed, and the candidate is not at this point
The grouping and jurisdiction of be various Masonic
degrees differs considerably in Scotland, the most striking deviation lies in the position
of the Royal Arch which is entirely separate from and independent of the Craft
degrees controlled by Scottish Grand Lodge. To take it one must first be advanced as a
Mark Master (which is done either in a Craft Lodge or in a Royal Arch Chapter) and also
take the degree, unknown in England, of Excellent Master*
[* This degree is not to be confused with
the first degree in the Cryptic series in England. It includes a version of the
"Passing of the Veils" ceremony which used to be part of the Royal Arch working
in England, and is still so in Ireland and America ]
The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Freemasons of Scotland,
then, controls the following degrees:-
|| Chair Degrees of the Royal Arch
Right Worshipful Mark Master.
These degrees are progressive and must be taken in this
order. One practical result of this difference in grouping is that an English Royal Arch
Companion (even if he happens to have the Mark degree) cannot visit a Scottish Royal Arch
Chapter because he had not taken the Excellent Masters degree.
Also under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Chapter
of Scotland are the following degrees, known as the Lodge and Council genes
Royal Ark Manner,
Commander Noah (its Chair degree).
Babylonian Pass or Red Cross,
Knight of the Sword,
Knight of the East,
Knight of be East and West,
Chief and President (a Chair degree).
And again under the same jurisdiction is the Cryptic
Rite series will the following Royal and Select degrees
Super Excellent Master.
Thrice Illustrious Master.
Thus it will be seen that the Scottish Grand Chapter
controls altogether eighteen degrees. There
is a Scottish Supreme Council for the Ancient and Accepted Rite, whose
thirty-three degrees are (with slight verbal variations in title)
similar to the English series, and worked in similar groupings.
also has its independent Great Priory for the Religious and Military
Orders of Knights Templar and Knights of Malta.
to this country, however, is the Royal Order of Scotland. This
may be of some antiquity. Its ritual is unique among Masonic workings
in that it is written in a rhyming doggerel which suggests an
eighteenth-century origin ; its legend contains many features found in
other degrees such as the Royal Arch, the Rose Croix de Heredom, the
Knights Kadosh, and the Allied Degree of the Red Cross of Babylon.
There are two degrees in this Order, the Harodim and the Rosy Cross.
It is open only to Christians.
general, Freemasonry in Scotland is more popular and relatively far
more numerous than in England, partly because it tends to be cheaper,
and because austere Presbyterianism has eliminated most of the colour,
glamour, and ceremonial from Christian worship. When the soul is
starved of these elements in religion, it will naturally tend to
compensate itself in less desirable ways. It is not only the hostility
of Rome that has left Masonry weak in Catholic countries.
Pages 187 - 188 & 210 & 211 Darkness Visible, Walton Hanna
Grand Lodge of Ireland is unusual in that, unlike those of England and
Scotland, it has an authorized ritual and
a Grand Lodge Chapter of Improvement to promulgate it. A greater
measure of uniformity prevails, though this is far from complete.
There are differences to be noted between the Dublin Lodges and those,
say of Cork. Although an alleged ‘Irish Working’ is printed by a
Masonic publisher in London, it is not verbally accurate. It appears
to follow a hybrid Northern Ireland form of working. But for the most
part Ireland continues to eschew the use of a printed ritual
are not found in Irish Lodges, nor (at least in the Temples of
Freemasons Hall in Dublin) is the emblem with the letter G displayed.
more significant differences between the Irish and English workings
may be tabulated as follows:
of Preparation. For the First Degree
these are the same as in England, except that the cable-tow is wound
three times round the neck. For the Second Degree he is again deprived
of money and metals, for it is in this degree, not the first, that the
‘charity test’ takes place.’ The cable-tow is wound twice around
his neck. For the Third Degree he is again deprived of metals, and the
cable-tow is wound once round his neck. A lecture on the symbolical
reasons for the preparation is provided, but not always given.
Pass Words. Ireland has not only
the usual pass words between the Degrees but has pass words to the
First Degree as well, which all Brethren may be required to give in
proving themselves. They are given on behalf of the Initiate by his
Conductor (a Brother who in Ireland accompanies the Candidate, and
plays the part in making the responses which the Deacons perform in
England). These pass words are “By the help of God, and the Tongue
of Good Report.” There are reasons to suppose that this is an
ancient usage formerly prevailing but now extinct in England. It may
still be found in a few Lodges in Scotland.
The Solemn Obligations. In
all three Degrees the Candidate pledges himself “bearing in mind the
Ancient Penalty of... etc. and binding myself under the real penalty
of being branded deservedly as a wretch, base, faithless and
unworthy.. . “which is far less objectionable.
The Ceremony of Raising. There
are significant differences in the Hiramic. legend. In the usual form
the Three Grand Masters alone were in possession of the genuine
secrets of the Master Mason; in Irish workings, however, there was
already, before the completion of the Temple, a class of Master Masons
in possession of them, even though they could be conferred only by the
Grand Masters. This weakens the drama. It makes the murder less
plausible, for the three assassins could have assaulted any Master
Mason for the betrayal of the secrets with less danger to themselves.
It also makes the loss of those secrets far less dramatically
catastrophic and significant. Thousands still knew them, and the loss,
due to the death of one of the three officers necessary to confer them
on others, seems a technicality rather than a tragedy. This, however,
may have been the legend of the “Ancients,” often similar to Irish
workings. The words “it is thus that all Master Masons are raised
from a dead level to a living upright” (which seem to give a quasi-
sacramental significance to the rite) appear actually in the Ritual,
and not merely in the Lectures.
are other trifling variants. The apocryphal text “In
strength will I establish this Mine house, to stand firm for ever,”
is dropped entirely. An extra question and answer are inserted when
the Candidate is being tested by the Officers referring to the Irish
custom of placing the left hand over the ‘grip’ to conceal its
nature :—“ What is the use of a Freemason’s left hand ?“
“To hele the grip,”
or, “To cover the work.”
Royal Arch workings in Ireland are quite independent of the Craft, and
totally different from English Chapter workings in legend, yet similar
in meaning and symbolism. They are based, not on the re-building of
the Temple by Zerubbabel after the Edict of Cyrus, but on the repair
of the Temple under King Josiah, and the discovery of the Book of the
Law (II Kings XXII, 3-13, and 11 Chronicles XXXIV, 8-21). The
Principals of this Degree in Ireland, therefore, are not Zerubbabel,
Haggai, and Joshua, but Josiah, Shaphan, and Hilkiah. In spite of the
fact that Holy Writ expressly informs us that the historical Josiah
spent no little time and energy in breaking down the altars of Baalim
and burning the bones of idolatrous priests, the Word of this degree
with all its Baal
associations is retained.
the Masonic point of view Ireland remains a single jurisdiction.
Although its strength is mainly from Ulster, the headquarters are in
Dublin. As might be expected, it is
more firmly Protestant in membership than in England, and enjoys even
greater support from the non-Roman Churches.
in Ireland may be grouped into six grades, as follows :—
The Craft degrees, controlled by the Grand Lodge of Free
and Accepted Masons of Ireland
Master (the Chair degree).
The Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland, which, as
in Scotland, is distinct from and independent of the Craft, and which
also controls the Mark degree, an essential preliminary to the Royal Arch.
The Chapter degrees are :—
Worshipful Mark Master,
Scribe, High Priest, and Excellent King are
Chair degrees of the Royal Arch (which, as noted in Appendix A has a
rather different legend from the English Royal Arch). The Very
Worshipful Mark Master degree is only conferred prior to an installation
as Excellent King.
The Grand Council of the Degrees of Knight of the Sword, Knight
of the East, and Knight of the East and West, controlling the
chivalric degrees of
of the Sword,
of the East,
of the East and West,
Chief (a Chair degree).
The Order of the Temple and Great Priory of Ireland,
controlling the chivalric degrees
Preceptor (a Chair degree).
The Grand Chapter of Prince Masons of Ireland, which controls :—
Knight of the Eagle
Pelican and Prince Grand Rose
Wise Sovereign (its Chair
is the same as the Eighteenth
Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, and is indeed acknowledged as
such, but in Ireland it is worked as a separate degree under a separate
jurisdiction. It is significant and indeed paradoxical that the good
Irish Protestant is not after all invariably averse to an elaborate
‘Christian’ ritual with plenty of candles on the Altar as long as
such things are rigidly kept out of Church. He will reverence an altar
cross provided it is adorned with a rose and not with the figure of
The Supreme Council for the 33rd Degree, Ancient and Accepted
Rite for Ireland, controls only the following degrees out of the
Chevalier du Soleil, or Knight of the Sun,
Philosophical Mason Knight Kadosh,
Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander,
Prince of the Royal Secret,
Grand Inspector General.
Lodge and Council series of Scotland, the Cryptic Degrees, and the
Secret Monitor are apparently unknown in Ireland.
The so-called Orange
Lodges are quasi-Masonic only, and although there is a considerable
overlap they have no official connection with regular Irish Masonry
Pages 191 - 193 & 211 & 212 Darkness Visible, Walton Hanna
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The U S A
the general structure and legend of the three Craft Degrees is
retained, the wording in America is very different and on the whole
more colloquial and garrulous. The impression is left that American
workings in general have rather less dignity than their British
counterparts. In many respects it appears as if Scottish and Irish
rather than English traditions are followed ; this is probably because
these workings retain certain features which were also in the English
workings when Masonry was first established in the New World, but
which have since been revised in England after the Union. For
instance, a pass word is sometimes required for the First Degree, as
in Ireland, and the Master wears a hat in the Lodge when it is open,
removing it for the prayers ; this was certainly the earlier practice
in Great Britain.
full American ritual, however, especially in the Third Degree, appears
to be so lengthy that it is difficult to believe that it is not, in
practice, abbreviated.’ And there is no
between State and State. In these circumstances only the more
important differences can be noted here.
usual methods of preparation appear to be as follows. In the First
the Candidate is divested of metals, blindfolded, and a cable-tow is
placed once around his neck. The left arm, left breast, and left knee
and left foot are bare, and the right foot slippered. In the Second
Degree he is again blindfolded, and the cable-tow is apparently
not always) wound twice around his right arm above the elbow, which is
bare. The right knee and foot and the right breast are also bared, and
the left foot slippered. In the Third Degree he is again blindfolded
and the cable-tow is wound three times around his body. Both breasts,
both arms, both knees and feet are bare—there is therefore no
‘slipshod’ or slipper.
somewhat different system prevails in America, each degree having its
due-guard and its sign. The due-guard is a sort of preliminary or
precautionary sign which is given before the sign, and relates to the
position of the hands when taking the Obligation. In the First Degree
this is taken with the right hand on and the left hand under the
Bible; the due-guard is therefore given by holding out the hands
horizontally in front of the body on a line approximately with the
stomach with the palms facing each other, about three inches apart,
left below, right above. The sign is the usual Penal sign of the
the Second Degree Obligation the right hand rests on the Bible, and
the left (as in England) is supported in the angle of the square. The
due-guard therefore is given with the left hand similar to the Hailing
sign of the Fellow-Craft, with the right hand held horizontally in
front of the body with the palm facing downwards, on a level with the
bottom waistcoat button. The sign is the same as the Fellow-Craft
Third Degree Obligation is taken with both hands on the Bible, and the
due-guard represents this position, both hands held out horizontally
at waist level with the palm downwards. Some workings direct that
the right hand should be parallel with the body, and left at right
angles to it. The left hand is then dropped, and the Penal sign is
given in the same way as in Great Britain. The two Casual signs of
horror and of sympathy seem unknown in America, and the only other
sign given is the Grand Hailing sign of Distress, with its
grips and pass-grips are identical with our own.
words are the same, except that only one word (Mahabone, variously
pronounced) is given in the
Third Degree on the Five Points of Fellowship, but the context and the
meaning of the word do not seem to be very clearly explained.
Proper Steps to the East are simpler than in England. There is no
winding staircase to ascend nor open grave to step over. In the First
Degree one step only is taken, with left foot, bringing up the right
heel to its hollow, forming the tau-cross. In the Second Degree a
second step is added to this, leading off with the right foot, and
bringing up the left into its hollow. In the Third Degree a third step
is added to these two, stepping off with the left foot and bringing
up the right heel to heel in the form of a square.
Ceremony of Raising. This,
if worked in full, is extremely lengthy and dramatic. It appears to be
based on the extended Scottish workings, but with a great deal more
structure of the rite, however, is slightly different in that
the Candidate is first entrusted with the due-guard and sign and
invested with the apron, restores himself to his proper clothing, and
only then (when he may ‘well think that the ceremony is over) is
there any hint of the death-and-raising rite.
is again blindfolded (which must make the actual ‘slaying’ all the
more terrifying) and is conducted through his part of the drama by the
Senior Deacon, who makes his responses for him. Three of the Brethren
represent the ruffians (Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum), who with much
loquacious dialogue set about the Candidate in turn, demanding the
secrets from him, and eventually slay him by knocking him backwards by
a blow with a rubber mallet on to a canvas sheet held securely (one
hopes !) by certain other brethren. He is laid on the floor and
covered up with the canvas, then the three ruffians ‘bury’ him by
piling a few chairs and so on over the body. At this point the Lodge
is darkened and a gong sounds with twelve strokes. In the full
workings, the ruffians then attempt to escape by sea from Joppa, but
are turned back for not having a pass. They flee into some corner (or
into the ante-room) to hide. In the meantime the absence of Hiram
Abiff has been noticed, and the Worshipful Master (as King Solomon)
orders a roll-call, in which the names of Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum
are not answered to. The twelve Fellow-Crafts who withdrew from the conspiracy
then confess what they know, and a search is made for the
body and for the ruffians. Both are found according to the usual
Masonic tradition ; the latter (as in the extended Scottish workings)
by their cries of remorse being heard issuing from a cave. They are
taken back to King Solomon and executed with the Masonic penalties to
which their cries gave origin.
the Officers and some of the Brethren proceed to the grave and march
three times round it, singing a funeral hymn. The body is uncovered,
and after the traditional attempts with the First and Second Degree
grips the Candidate is raised on the Five Points of Fellowship. A
charge or lecture follows.
entire ceremony is given in dialogue.
in Scotland and Ireland, the Holy Royal Arch is merely one of many
higher degrees, and is not regarded as the completion or fulfilment of
the Craft. There is accordingly less emphasis on the secrets of the
Royal Arch being the ‘genuine secrets of a Master Mason’ lost to
the Craft at the untimely death. There are, however, several
interesting variants between English and American Chapter workings ;
in the latter the First Principal is not Zerubbabel the King, but the
Excellent High Priest who represents Joshua. The ceremony of passing
the veils, practically extinct in England, is retained. The symbols
and words of the degree are inscribed on the Ark of the Covenant which
the Candidate discovers in the Vault. Upon three sides of it are the
initials of the Three Grand Masters Solomon King of Israel, Hiram King
of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, and on top of the Ark is the equilateral
triangle (not in a circle) on the three sides of which are the
syllables of the word, Jah-Bel-On, or Jah-Buh-Lun. These initials and
syllables are usually written, not in English or Hebrew letters, but
in the Masonic cypher (extremely simple) made up on the noughts and
crosses formula supplemented by the St. Andrew’s cross. Within the
triangle are the Hebrew characters representing Jahweh. There is no
Aleph, Beth, or Lamed at the triangle’s extremities.