description below is reprinted with the permission of the
Scottish Rite Journal.
Of The Symbolic Lodge
Jim Tresner, 33°, Grand
Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044–0070
Oil painting by Bro. Robert H. White, 32°
Blue and yellow (gold) are the colors of the
regalia of the Twentieth Degree. They refer us back to the Blue or
Symbolic Lodge. The apron (see inside front cover) is yellow, bordered
and lined with sky blue. In the center of the apron is a drawing of the
jewel. The jewel is composed of three concentric triangles. In the nine
angles thus formed are the initials of the nine Great Lights or Great
Virtues taught in the Degree—Charity, Generosity, Veneration,
Heroism, Patriotism, Honor, Toleration, Truth, and Justice.
In the center, reading from right to left, is
the Tetragrammaton (the Holy Name in four letters), this time in
Phoenician characters rather than Hebrew (remember that Hiram was from
Phoenicia). Beneath it, reading from the bottom upwards is yehi aur,
"Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3). The cordon is of blue and yellow,
reinforcing the Blue Lodge symbolism of the Degree.
The Twentieth Degree derives considerable
power from its essential simplicity. Pike is making the point that
there are important virtues to be practiced by a man when he is called
upon to preside over a Symbolic or Blue Lodge. But remember that, among
other things, the Lodge room symbolizes the life of the individual
Mason, as the Master of the Lodge symbolizes the Mason himself taking
control of his own life. That's probably the major symbolism involved
The symbolism of the Lodge and the Worshipful
Master are so well known that we do not always give them the thought
they deserve. Each can function both as a personal and universal
symbol. Thus, the Lodge room represents the world and, on a larger
scale, the "cosmic all," however many universes that may be. But it
also symbolizes the life of the individual Mason. The Worshipful Master
can symbolize mankind in the ideal, but he also symbolizes the
individual Mason, whether or not he ever assumes the gavel. Since that
symbolism holds true even in the Entered Apprentice Degree, these
symbols may be the first instance in the Masonic journey of the
macrocosm=microcosm concept—the idea that the universe is
reflected in each person, or that each person is a "model" of the
universe. The symbolism also reinforces Pike's insistence that man is
not a bubble adrift on the seas of fate. A major purpose of Masonry is
to teach the individual that he can control his destiny. In fact, he
must control it if he is to be truly human. We are not pawns in the
game of life; we are the chess player. We are not intended to be
victims but rather Masters over ourselves (albeit never over others).
The virtues which help to give us that
mastery are represented by the angles of five squares and three
triangles on the tracing board.
The first square represents Prudence, Temperance, Chastity, and
The second square represents Heroism, Firmness, Equanimity, and
The third square represents Purity, Honor, Fidelity, and Punctuality.
The fourth square represents Charity, Kindness, Generosity, and
The fifth square represents Disinterestedness, Mercy, Forgiveness, and
The first triangle represents Veneration, Devotedness, and Patriotism.
The second triangle represents Gratitude to God, Love of Mankind, and
Confidence in human nature.
The third triangle represents Truth, Justice, and Toleration.
The careful practice of these virtues, represented here by squares and
triangles, helps to assure a positive and productive life. It isn't
always easy, but these virtues are the best tools to use in governing
the symbolic Lodge, which is your own life.
Scottish Rite Journal
- October 2000
is Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute and Editor of The
Oklahoma Mason. A frequent contributor to the Scottish Rite Journal and
its book review editor, Illustrious Brother Tresner is also a volunteer
writer for The Oklahoma Scottish Rite Mason and a video script
consultant for the National Masonic Renewal Committee. He is the
Director of the Thirty-third Degree Conferral Team and Director of Work
at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma, as well as a
life member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, author of the
popular anecdotal biography Albert Pike, The Man Beyond the Monument,
and a member of the steering committee of the Masonic Information
Center. Ill. Tresner was awarded the Grand Cross, the Scottish Rite's
highest honor, during the Supreme Council's October 1997 Biennial