The Three Great Lights of Masonry: The Book of the Law, Square and Compasses

The Three Great Lights of Masonry: The Book of the Law, Square and Compasses

We are first introduced to the Three Great Lights when we are kneeling at the altar in the 1st degree. The Senior Deacon removes the hoodwink and the Worshipful Master motions to the open Bible, the Square and Compasses superimposed upon the Volume of the Sacred Law.

The Volume of the Sacred Law used in our lodges represents “Light”, but not just any light. It does not denote any specific religious sect’s “Light” or knowledge, as some would allege “Light” to be. Some have described masonic  “Light” as specifically being knowledge, but knowledge without context, experience and judicious and wise application is useless at best and dangerous at the worst.

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Touching on the Four Cardinal Virtues

Touching on the Four Cardinal Virtues


The Four Cardinal Virtues are not inherently Masonic.  Masons are introduced to the virtues in their initiation.  The lecture of the first degree attempts to link the lessons of the Cardinal Virtues to the ritual and obligation of the first degree.  In this short presentation I will touch on some aspects of the Four Cardinal Virtues in historical writing, religion, and art. This review, as in most things Masonic, is only scratching the surface regarding the topic.

What are the Four Cardinal Virtues?

    The Four Cardinal Virtues are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.  Enciphered in the first degree lecture the newly initiated candidate is referred to the virtues and their definitions.  The four cardinal virtues are given to the candidate as guidelines for his interaction within the society in general and within the lodge in particular.  

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Apron Comparisons

Apron Comparisons
Brother Joel Baker
Masonic Formation
Novus Veteris Lodge No. 864
October 21, 2017


The ritual of the First Degree specifies the Lamb-skin apron in the following manner (from 2005 publication of the California Cypher);


“It is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a mason; more ancient than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle; more honorable than the Star or Garter, or any distinction that can be conferred upon you, at this or any future period, by King, Price, Potentate, or any other person, and which it is hoped that you will wear with pleasure to yourself and honor to the Fraternity.”

Masonic ritual lists how revered the Apron should be to the first degree initiate.  The symbols of the Golden Fleece and Roman Eagle, and honorable orders of the Star and/or Garter are listed as being secondary in their value relative to the Mason’s apron.  In my review of the apron there are several discussions regarding the “true” origin of the apron, from historical, religious, to conspiratorial.  Instead of reviewing the apron and “what it really means,” I will review the four symbols and organizations to which the apron is compared in the 1st degree ritual.

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A Masonic Hierarchy

A Short Talk
“A Masonic Hierarchy”
Presented at Novus Veteris Lodge, #864
By Alan Gatlin
October 21, 2017


Worshipful Inspector Handell made a presentation to the Scottish Rite at the October 2017 Stated Meeting regarding the effect on our world with both the absence of Masonry and if the precepts of Freemasonry were Universally adopted by mankind.  The practice of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth is a powerful element of change in both an individual’s life and that of the Society he is a part of.  The absence of these virtues throws the individual, or the society, further into selfishness, greed, and lies and some would say that this represents where we find too many members of our world and its leadership at today. This delicate balance between virtue and evil has always been present but if one watches the evening newscasts, podcasts, or other media as a percentage of the time taken, the dark elements seem to have sway at this stage in this cycle of our history.  How can we then, as Masons make “good men better” and practice what we agree upon is our obligation that of planting the seeds of individual and our society’s change?

This presentation is a look at how we can both challenge and examine ourselves against a standard that is consistent with whom we say we are as Masons and provide a path for continued improvement.  Much as the butterfly effect, as we change so does the world around us change in meaningful ways! The symbol used to reflect this process  or hierarchy of change will be based on a geometric form you are all familiar with from school, an isosceles triangle which can also could be viewed as a two dimensional pyramid. It is interesting that when discussing hierarchies that this from is most often used; a triangle with 2 sides of equal length coming to a point. If we subdivide this form with parallel lines we can view the lowest level as a foundation with subsequent layers being dependent on the lower for support and strength. Let us then divide this from into three sections that represent our Masonic journey. Starting with the top layer we have our “Secrets”. The second layer our “Mysteries” and the third layer and base would be our “Life’s Journey.”

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Approaches to Knowledge and the Question of Truth

Approaches to Knowledge and the Question of Truth
Short Talk
Novus Veteris Lodge – May 13 , 2017
Alan Gatlin, Orator

We have today reached the point world-wide where man seems to know everything and understand nothing! – Stephen Arryo

Stephen Arryo is a psychotherapist in Orange County who has written several books discussing the nature of symbols and their relationship to how people and societies behave. While not reported to be a Mason, the ideal’s he purports are consistent with many of the issues and questions we face as a Masonic body in today’s world. The short talk today will briefly discuss the issues raised by the words “truth & knowledge” and how we can move beyond the narrow perspective that permeates many in their world view. We will also briefly cover the symbolism related to the astral formation of Gemini and how that relates to the Lodge and its officers.

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“Feasts and Solstices and the “Lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem”

“Feasts and Solstices and the “Lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem”

Mark Doubleday
Novus Veteris Lodge

(Slide/Ancient Jerusalem)

Whence Came You?

In masonry we have two of Christendom’s most revered and venerated saints as our patrons. They are, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and in almost every lodge in our jurisdiction of California you will see a representation of these most Holy Saints depicted standing side by side of the “Circle and the Point” with Parallel Vertical Lines placed on either side of this device, surmounted by the Holy Bible, an enigmatic and powerful symbol, upon which one may reflect for many hours, days and years.

The layers of symbolism embedded in this emblem are representative of the many layers of subtlety and wisdom that our fraternal forefathers crafted into our degrees. Fore, it is only through degrees that we begin to pull back the veils of ignorance and through diligence and perseverance the scales of darkness are lifted from our eyes as we build our own temples by practicing masonic principals and virtues in all our affairs.

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Readings on the Masonic Altar

Readings on the Masonic Altar
Joel Baker

As Master Masons, all of us have taken obligations in a tiled lodge at an altar. The three great and three lesser lights were present at the altar as our brothers listened in silence to our obligation. We repeated what the Master told us to repeat. We adjusted our arms, hands, knees, and legs according to the commands of the Sr. Warden. The Sr. Warden and Deacons attended to us, impressing the penalty physically as we repeated vocally what we heard. We were blinded during the obligation with our other senses heightened. Personally I remember the cold metal and smell of an old book (VSL) in front of me. We concentrated on the words and phrases from the WM as best we could, enunciating them and finding value in them at times. We tried (and failed) to grasp everything we were saying while we were saying it, remembering less after the event that same night. After each of us had finished our obligation, a request for illumination is met with an allegorical lesson binding us to our brothers, symbolism of the setting of the square and compass for that specific degree, and a mode of recognition of the degree.

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