Three Pillars Of A Masonic Lodge

The Masonic Ritual’s authors chose words and ideas contained within purposefully. When the three words, Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty come together, they form a system that allows men to make the best decisions while supporting actions/ideas practically so that their efforts come to fruition.

Each of the Masonic Lodge’s three pillars represents one of the aforementioned specific albeit abstract words; however, when studied in conjunction with one another, three vital concepts emerge that allow a decision, idea, or creation to manifest in material form and/or spread in a positive manner among the masses.

First, the pillars exemplify harmony and balance in a similar manner to that of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; second, the true duties of The Lodge’s Officers become clear; and finally, the positive aspects of minimization outweigh the desire for excess. Making balanced and true to form decisions produces great things. In addition, making decisions based on only the minimal amount of necessary factors ensures that excess cannot corrupt the original thought, plan, creation, etc.

In the Entered Apprentice Degree, students begin to learn truer meanings of words commonly heard throughout their previous, profane life. For example, the word “beauty” means much more than something that pleases the eye. Beauty contains harmony and balance transmitted to our psyche; our eyes simply allow us to acquire beauty in some instances. “Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit…It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, but rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.”i

Someone whose face exemplifies symmetry gains more from their looks than someone with an asymmetrical face; however, while people subconsciously perceive the parts individually, only the whole, finished product signifies Beauty to the conscious mind. The true power of the word Beauty presents itself only when one finally realizes that it encompasses much more than the whole, finished, tangible product. It measures the harmony and balance of the whole’s factors.

Positive, Negative, Neutral. Protons, Electrons, Neutrons. Wisdom, Strength, Beauty. Each of these triumvirates, and many others not listed here, contain harmony and balance. Wisdom, which comes with age, experience, and reflection, stands somewhat opposite of Strength, which comes with youth and, at times, appears of lesser importance (think of the term “meathead”). Promoted alone, each does not garner interest, nor succeeds to the fullest effect of its capabilities. Even when paired together, not enough of each shines through to the masses.

When Beauty accompanies Wisdom, presentations and manifestations of that Wisdom become appealing; Beauty can and does attract. The same holds true when Beauty accompanies Strength. An architect that creates ugly structures does not have many clients, even if his buildings’ strength makes it everlasting. “From the equilibrium of infinite wisdom and infinite force, results perfect harmony, in physics and in the moral universe.ii Despite the individual vitality of both Wisdom and Strength, each needs Beauty in addition to the other to reach equilibrium, to garner appreciation and, in turn, effectiveness.

Before people use or even see a new structure, the structure must first exist in idea form within the “mind” of its creator. If the creator’s goals for the structure include lasting use and/or admiration by the people to change society for the better, then the structure must serve a practical purpose for many. In order to create a structure that satisfies practical purposes, the creator must harness Wisdom. When using the Lodge to represent the human being, the structure from the preceding lines becomes the decisions, ideas, and creations of humans. If a person wants their idea to reach many people and possibly change the known world, then that person’s decision, idea, or creation had best include Wisdom during the formative stage.

The Worshipful Master’s personal and Masonic experiences help form his idea of what Wisdom entails. Let any current and future Worshipful Master learn from his experiences the lessons that lead to wise choices for his Lodge in the present and future. For without Wisdom ringing down from the East, who will listen?In addition, consider the following: If a building’s foundation allows it to materially last forever, who or what occupies said building if the creator did not use Wisdom to contrive the building’s practical functions?

Once the idea for a purposeful structure exists, the actual planning and building of the structure commences. The conceptual stage gives way to the production stage and the idea or decision manifests in reality. Does evidence support the idea or decision? If not, then severe deficiencies exist in the strength of the decision, idea, or creation. The creator must take the foundation of the idea or decision into account. Any building containing a weak foundation cannot stand the test of time, the same goes for an idea or decision.

The Senior Warden must ensure the bidding of The Worshipful Master occurs. If this Warden’s constitution is weak, the Worshipful Master’s ideas or decisions may seem confusing if not foolish. The Senior Warden’s Strength enables the ideas and decisions to become a reality. This officer, then, represents the thoughts and care that go into turning an idea into something real, tangible, and lasting. Without the ability to produce what Wisdom perceives necessary, what good does Wisdom serve? In addition, consider the following: What good does Wisdom or Strength serve if nothing or no one takes an interest?

The Junior Warden’s responsibilities include repeating to the Brethren that which the Senior Warden and/or Worshipful Master see fit for the Junior Warden to repeat. It is “the duty of the Master to dispense light to Brethren, by himself, and through the Wardens, who are his ministers.”iii In other words, prior to some messages and light reaching the Brethren within Lodge, the message passes through the Junior Warden. This Warden plays an important role in the way the Brethren interpret the message. If the Junior Warden if fumbling, important bits of information may become lost in the transfer; the same may occur if the Warden speaks too quickly.

When again looking at The Lodge and its contents as a representation of a human, Beauty represents how to address the world outside oneself. Beauty teaches how to communicate important, well founded ideas to the masses.

Often, three legs/pillars form the minimal amount of support that something needs in order to stand on its own; humans and other animals not included (human mobility allows and requires members of the species to constantly balance in numerous positions). To steady a camera, a tripod makes for the lightest and most convenient form of support. Before a child learns to ride a bicycle, a tricycle helps the child move around until they no longer need the extra support. Riding the tricycle gives the child a nearer experience to that of a bicycle then a four-wheel trainer could.

Three supports help balance, without corrupting the ease or fluidity of movements and motions. The supports of a Lodge contain no more and no less than three pillars for the same reason. While having only two pillars supporting a Masonic Lodge would fail to accomplish one of the following vis-à-vis The Lodge: serve a practical purpose (lack of Wisdom), not hold up under strain (lack of Strength), or not appeal to the masses (lack of Beauty); having more than three pillars supporting the Lodge could have detrimental effects. “The east symbolizes wisdom; the west, strength; north, darkness; and south, beauty.”iv

On ancient maps, the east took top position while the north rested on the left side. Taken in the context of the north representing darkness and, traditionally throughout time the left representing the weaker side of man, a fourth pillar only lessens the integrity of the structure. Excess tends to fail societies and the supports of a Masonic Lodge do not constitute an exception to the rule. Unnecessary and misguided communique among numerous Brothers (Officers) may take vital time and concentration away from Brethren. The passing of messages by the Officers must run a regulated course much like the particular paths outlined in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; when a message travels the Lodge via proper transmission, the Brethren may work to serve a splendid purpose.

Whether a decision, idea, or creation, the thought must include a well contemplated, practical purpose, able to withstand scrutiny and time, and must fulfill the requirements for acceptance set forth by the aggregate unconscious within the public at large. The human specie’s consciousness of thought separates us from the rest of what resides on Earth. Humans must use this rare ability to dissect and examine on the most microscopic level, what makes things beautiful to the unconscious and how the species or individual can harness Beauty in the same fashion laid forth by The Creator. “Beauty, which, manifested in God’s creation of the world, adorns the work and makes it perfect.”v When people, individually or in aggregate, reach this goal the most utilitarian creations on Earth manifest themselves for the betterment of humanity and life/light in general. “For as every building…is made symmetrical and harmoniousby Beauty, so ought our spiritual building to be designed by Wisdom,…Strength…,and Beauty.”vi When the specie’s “spiritual building” conforms to harmonic principles, humankind finds itself on the path to Enlightenment. Without harmony among the working parts of this existence, nothing escapes the dark.

i Gibran, Khalil. The Prophet, “Beauty XXV

ii Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma. Page 8.

iii Ibid. Page 13

iv Jones, Bernard E. Freemason’s Guide and Compendium. Page 290.

v Mackey, Albert G. Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences Volume 1. Page 769

vi Schroeder via Mackey, Albert G. Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences Volume 1. Page 768

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One Response to “Three Pillars Of A Masonic Lodge”

  1. W. Bro. John Housden Reply July 15, 2014 at 2:03 am

    The most complete, interesting and thought provoking explanation of the Three Pillars that I have every read; thank you for the explanation!