Twentieth Degree, Master Of The Symbolic Lodge
Jim Tresner, 33°, Grand
PO Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044–0070
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 here.
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 Sobriety.
The second square represents Heroism, Firmness, Equanimity, and Patience.
The third square represents Purity, Honor, Fidelity, and Punctuality.
The fourth square represents Charity, Kindness, Generosity, and Liberality.
The fifth square represents Disinterestedness, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Forbearance.
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.
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 Albert Pike, The Man Beyond the Monument, and a member of the steering committee of the Masonic Information Center. In 1997, Ill. Tresner was awarded the Grand Cross, the Scottish Rite's highest honor. His latest book is Vested in Glory, The Regalia of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
Illustrations of the Scottish Rite regalia paintings by Brother Robert H. White, 32°, (Nineteenth Degree, Grand Pontiff, painting pictured above) are available in two formats:
(1) individual 8" x 12" or 11" x 14" color photographs and
(2) grouped photos in a color 22" x 33" poster.
To order individual photographs, please contact Brother Bruce A. Dehlin, K.D. Enterprises, 10114 Farmington Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030–2049. Credit cards accepted. Tel. (703) 591–5318; Fax: (703) 591–6026; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To order color posters picturing all the regalia paintings, Fourth through Thirty-third Degrees, including the K.C.C.H. and Grand Cross, use VISA or MasterCard or send a check (domestic only) for $20.00 payable to The Supreme Council, 33°, S.J., USA to: Grand Executive Director's Office, 1733 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009–3103