A definition of Freemasonry –
If you ask 100 Freemasons what Freemasonry is, you’d probably get 100 different answers !
That is part of the wonder of it – it’s incredibly personal.
It’s also one of the reasons why it proves so difficult to explain it to an outsider.
But one constant would run through all the different answers.
That, in some strange way, is rewarding and satisfying.
The trouble is, it’s very difficult to pin down exactly WHY it is so rewarding and fulfilling.
The standard definition of Freemasonry in our writings is that it is, “A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”.
If you Google the word peculiar, you’ll get two valid, but very different, definitions.
One states things like “strange, bizarre, weird, unexpected, different”.
The other states things like “distinctive, individual, personal, private”.
So, as we can see, the word peculiar itself was very well chosen by our ancient brethren when defining the Craft – it fits both definitions.
It IS peculiar in a strange way, in that “It conduces to make those so, who are obedient to its precepts”. (Do you remember those words from the Charge given to you at your Initiation ?)
If you truly believe in what Freemasonry represents – the opportunity to make a small, but meaningful, contribution for good – then slowly but surely your own behaviour and attitudes will change.
And the end result of that change will be peculiar to you, depending on your individual circumstances – family, work, friends, hobbies, interests, opinions, experiences, etc.
Each of us individual and different, yet each of us bound together in exactly the same, peculiar, way.
Veiled In Allegory –
So, let’s have a look at the “veiled in allegory bit”.
No split definition here.
Another Google search (where would we be today without this fount of knowledge !) reveals that Allegory is singularly defined as:
“A story in which characters or events represent ideas that relate to morals, politics or religion”.
Well – we can certainly scotch the politics or religion bit, both of which are specifically excluded from Freemasonry.
So that leaves us with masonic allegory, which relates to “our morals”.
No matter at what level of Craft masonry you currently languish, you will have heard those words on probably dozens to hundreds of occasions. (possibly even thousands for older members !)
“But as we are not all operative Masons, but rather free and accepted, or speculative, we apply these tools to our morals”.
The Working Tools –
The presentation of the Working Tools, dusted off and taken out of their box for every degree ceremony, is usually the first bit of ritual you will have presented in open lodge.
Perhaps the very first time you had to stand up and speak in front of a gathering of your peers which is both terrifying and exhilarating.
It’s likely no coincidence that the tools in the first degree, rather than in the later degrees, relate so specifically to the change we can expect in ourselves, as we progress in Freemasonry, growing more in confidence and moral stature;
The 24-inch gauge – defining our aspirations.
The common gavel – defining our thoughts and behaviour.
The chisel – defining the process of continuous improvement as we progress through our lives.
Our peculiar system of morality -peculiar in both senses of the word.
Veiled in Allegory – the stories in our Ritual, and especially the Working Tools of each degree.
Come back to them from time to time.
Each time you hear, read or recite them, they will lodge in your subconscious, changing you unavoidably for the better.
Illustrated by symbols – The Square, the Compasses, the Volume of the Sacred Law.
These are the three greater lights.
And all the other masonic symbols have a deeper meaning too.
Enjoy discovering those deeper meanings.
Enjoy ultimately understanding them.
And finally – enjoy and be proud of being peculiar!
Share this Post