Northern Division
This is the Craft Masonry Education Website for all Freemasons in New Zealand. Welcome.
Dr George Allan
Education Pillar Head
This website is maintained by VW Bro. George Allan who firmly believes that Freemasonry is Universal, so, you can share anything good on this website with any other Mason in the world.

I realise that "education" is not every Mason's cup-of-tea but there is a ground-swell that indicates that many Masons join with a thirst for knowledge and then walk away when they can't find that knowledge. So, this website aims to fill that gap on a regular basis with articles to inform you of masonic learning, masonic educational events that are happening or going to happen in all three Divisions and ideas to try for yourself and your Lodge.

You are encouraged to use the information you find here as discussion points with other Masons in your Lodge, other Lodges in your Division and other Masons throughout the world. Your feedback is especially welcome - e-mail me by clicking here and tell we what you and your Masonic friends are doing.

Click the dropdown above to visit the collection of Masonic Education Pages we have put together for you.

New monthly quiz - different as always

Click the drop-down-box at the top of any page and on the Archive Page there are dozens of quizzes and other stuff you can use in your Lodge or just have fun with fellow masons and still make a daily advancement in masonic knowledge. These include a Summary of the Ancient Charges - see how many you can identify with. By the way there have been several articles about tips and techniques when learning Charges - these are now on the Education Archive Page - look in the drop-down-box above.

Here is a really good link to  short video clips of interest - each is 60 seconds on an topic of masonic knowledge. 

Here is another one that will lead you to lots of masonic knowledge in other parts of the world.  

Here is a link to The Philalethes Society

and here is a link to the Historical foundations of Freemasonry

A new article from our Brethren in The South Island about being an Entred Apprentice

George Allan

February 2019

About this Website

This is the "Main Page" on which new articles appear each month along with a new QUIZ each month. After a month these pages are moved to the "Archive Page" so this Main Page doesn't get clogged up. To see all the pages available click in the drop-down box in the grey rectangle called " a page to view " just above this message and to the right of my photo above.

To see the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree web-pages click on the appropriate degree shown in the drop-down box. Read the I.T. password instructions carefully to get in.

We now have a Masonic Knowledge Course on this website: the "Introduction" is now on the Archive Page, the 1st degree material is under the 1st degree page, the 2nd and 3rd degree materials are under their relevant pages. Have a look and make your daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.

We need your questions about Freemasonry, any points you want clarified, any issues you want discussed - send them to me at and through this webpage we will find answers for you.

useful link for masonic knowledge  the Reserach site containing information about Freemasonry - interesting stuff for Master Masons the UK Masonic Magazine

Philalethes Society

Masonic Knowledge Quiz for February 2019

1.  What is the minimum number of masons to open a lodge meeting?

2.  What combination of grades (i.e. EA, FC, MM, PM) can these be?

3.  Name the seven liberal Arts and Sciences.

4.  Which of these are Arts and which are Sciences?

5.  When giving the sign in the first degree how many ’squares’ are formed (remember you have to take a step to start this sign)?

6. Ditto the 2nd degree for those of you who have taken this degree?

7.  Ditto the 3rd degree  for those of you who have taken this degree?

8. At the closing of the Lodge in the first degree the Chaplain suplicates TGAOTU to continue to preserve our Order - how?

9.  How is a Candidate for initiation "properly prepared" in his dress outside the Lodge room?

10. What three special reasons are given for making a claim on a Candidate’s charity in the NE corner?

The Entered Apprentice Mason - some guidelines

This Study Guide comes from VW Bro McGregor PG Lec in The South Island

It provides an easy, step-by-step learning tool to help you understand Freemasonry's biblical, historical and symbolic meanings and tenets.

Memorization of words is simply not enough.  Memorization coupled with a true understanding of that which is memorized, becomes Masonic wisdom and will provide an infinite benefit to you throughout your Masonic life.

The Working Tools of an Entered Apprentice Mason

The Entered Apprentice should always be ready to use his (symbolic) tools.  Freemasonry is not only for the lodge room but as a primer (a book of basic rules) as to how best to live your life.

The working tools of an Entered Apprentice are the Twenty-Four Inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel.

24 Inch Gauge:  The Entered Apprentice Mason is taught that by the Twenty-four Inch Gauge he should divide his time:  Eight hours for the service of God and a distressed worthy brother;  Eight for your vocation (work), and Eight for refreshment and sleep.

The Common Gavel:    An "Ashlar" is a stone.  The Common Gavel was used by Entered Apprentice operative (real) stonemasons to break the corners off of a rough stone (rough ashlar) to better craft them to the builder's lay a true and correct foundation of a building.

Without "perfect ashlars with which to lay your personal foundation, your building cannot be laid out on the square (horizontally), nor be perfectly plumbed, upright (vertically).

Each and every foundation (whether it be an actual building, or that building not made with hands...which is You), must use both the square and the plumb (in perfect alignment with each other) or it will be viewed as shoddy work and subject to falling back down into a pile of rubble.

As an Entered Apprentice Mason, you will begin to remove these rough edges and shape your character so as to "divest your heart and conscience of all the vices and superfluities (excesses) of life".



Summary of the Antient Charges and Regulations
  1. You agree to be a good Man and true, and strictly to obey the Moral Law.

  2. You are to be a peaceable subject, and cheerfully to conform to the Laws of the Country in which you reside.

  3. You promise not to be concerned in Plots or Conspiracies against Government, but patiently to submit to the decisions of the Supreme Legislature.

  4. You agree to pay a proper respect to the Civil Magistrate, to work diligently, live creditably, and act honourably by all men.

  5. You agree to hold in veneration the original Rulers and Patrons of the Order of Freemasonry, and their regular Successors, supreme and subordinate, according to their Stations; and to submit to the Awards and Resolutions of your brethren in general Lodge convened, in every case consistent with the Constitution of the Order.

  6. You agree to avoid private piques and quarrels, and to guard against intemperance and excess.

  7. You agree to be cautious in your carriage and behaviour, courteous to your brethren, and faithful to your Lodge.

  8. You promise to respect genuine and true brethren, and to discountenance imposters and all dissenters from the original plan of Freemasonry.

  9. You agree to promote the general good of society, to cultivate the Social Virtues, and to propagate the knowledge of the Mystic Art as far as your influence and ability can extend.

  10. You promise to pay homage to the Grand Master for the time being, and to his Officers when duly installed, and strictly to conform to every Regulation of the Grand Lodge.

  11. You admit that it is not in the power of any person, or body of men to make alteration, or innovation in the Body of Masonry without the consent first obtained of the Grand Lodge.

  12. You promise a regular attendance on the Communications and Committees of the Grand Lodge, upon receiving proper notice thereof; and to pay attention to all the duties of Freemasonry upon proper and convenient occasions.

  13. You admit that no new Lodge can be formed without permission of the Grand Master or his Deputy, and that no countenance ought to be given to any irregular Lodge, or to any person initiated therein; and that no public procession or ceremonial of Freemasons clothed with the badges of the Order can take place without the Special License of the Grand Master or his Deputy.

  14. You admit that no person can regularly be made a Freemason, or admitted a member of any Lodge without previous notice and due enquiry into his character; and that noBrother can be advanced to a higher degree except in strict conformity with the Laws of the Grand Lodge.

  15. You promise that no visitor shall be received into your Lodge without due examination, and producing proper vouchers of his having been initiated in a regular Lodge.

  16. From the Book of Constitution Section VI

The Symbolism of the White Gloves and Apron

by Bro Jim Logan, DepM, to the Hawke’s Bay Research Lodge No 305

An Address given on Monday, 5th November 2018

There is in the wearing of Craft clothing, as in everything else pertaining to Freemasonry, a symbolism. Briefly, white gloves are symbolic of clean hands, and are complimentary to the lambskin apron, the symbol of a pure heart. These two are of equal importance and are really inseparable.

White Gloves:

The custom of wearing white gloves is of great antiquity. In the Christian Churches from the earliest times, white linen gloves were always worn by the Bishops and Priests when in performance of their ecclesiastical functions. The Bishops always wore a thin plate of gold called "a tassel" on the back of their gloves to denote their high rank. The gloves worn by the clergy indicted that their hands were clean and not open to bribery.

In the indenture of covenants, made in the reign of Henry IV, between the church wardens of a parish in Suffolk and a compa- ny of Freemasons, the latter stipulate that each man should be pro- vided with a pair of white gloves and a white apron.

While we have no written proof, as far as I know, that our ancient operative brethren did moralise on the white gloves and apron after the manner of the working tools, there is nothing to show they did not. Dr Robert Plot, a non-mason, states in his Natu- ral History of Staffordshire, dated 1686, that the "Society of Free- masons presented their candidates with white gloves for them- selves and their wives".

In the general regulations of George Payne, GM, approved by the Grand Lodge in London in 1721, Article 7 reads: Every new brother at his making is decently to cloath the Lodge, that is, all brethren present. By “cloath” (clothing) it means that the Lodge is furnishing all the brethren present with white gloves and aprons.

In Count Tolstoy's well-known novel War and Peace it states that “the newly obligated brother was then invested with a white apron and received a trowel and three pairs of white gloves, two pair for him-self and one pair for the lady he most esteemed, after which the Master explained their symbolic meaning to him”.

In the Netherlands ritual the presentation of white gloves is still retained. The candidate for initiation is taken on three jour- neys; after the second journey his hands are dipped in a basin of water, and a reference is made of the necessity of "clean hands" and the purity of heart and life as a pre-requisite to initiation. On the completion of the third journey he takes his obligation after which he is led to the West, where he is invested with the white apron and is given a pair of white gloves to wear. He is presented with a pair of lady's gloves which he is directed to hand to her whom he considers most worthy to receive them from the hands of a Freemason.

I do not know when the presentation of white gloves ceased to be the general custom but the wearing of them as part of the proper clothing of a brother is still retained in New Zealand by rul- ing of the Board of General Purposes (Collected Rulings clause 37 - Aprons and Gloves).

Undoubtedly the use of white gloves in Freemasonry is a symbolic idea handed down to us through the ancient and universal language of symbolism and like the apron is intended to denote pu- rity of life and actions.

The White Lambskin Apron:

In the Masonic apron two things are essential for the preservation of its symbolic character - its colour and the material. Its colour must be white, because that denotes purity, simplicity, candour, innocence, truth and hope. The ancient Druids and the Priests, generally of antiquity, used to wear white investments when they officiated in any sacred service.

The white lambskin apron is to us a constant remind- er of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct, of higher thoughts and nobler deeds which are the distinguishing characteris- tics of a Free and Accepted Mason. The material must be lamb- skin as our ritual informs us the lamb has been from time im- memorial an emblem of purity and innocence, but its purity was physical, ours must be spiritual. At investiture the brother is in- formed that the badge is older than the Golden Fleece, etc. These words are used simply to impress upon a newly made brother the value and importance of the lambskin as a universal and old age symbol. It does not claim that that the masonic apron is more an- cient than the other orders but that the symbolic apron is.

On The Level

 A  bit of knowledge from The South Island


In the English and French Tracing Boards of the First Degree, there are four tassels, one at each angle, which are attached to a cord that surrounds a tracing-board, and which constitutes the true tessellated border. These four cords are described as referring to the four principal points, the Guttural, Pectoral, Manual, and Pedal, and through them to the four cardinal virtues, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. These tassels are often found appended to the corners of the ceiling of the ceremonial Lodge Room and at the corners of the Tessellated Pavement. 

Note Deuteronomy (20;12),where the older translation has fringes and the Revised Version gives borders, the latter agreeing with border of Mark (6: 56) and Luke (8: 44). Where the Revised Version has border throughout, the Authorized Version has hem in Matthew (9, and 14: 36). As symbols of great importance their use was ordered in Numbers (15: 35, 40), "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments, throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." 


Compassion flows from the Masonic commitment to Relief. “To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view.” And a noble aim it is. Where joy is to be found, sorrow is often close at hand. We learn in Masonry that the symbolic ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple was a pavement of alternating squares of black and white, symbolizing that human life itself is “checkered with good and evil.” We can expect “rough patches” in life, and as Masons we watch for ways to help others over the setbacks that come our way. That is what compassion is all about. It is a watchful caring for others, an entering into their misfortunes in a way that lets them know that we share their pain as well as their joy.

R. Stephen Doan, FPS

President of the Philalethes Society

Click Here to see what this is

“Some Masonic Anecdotes from the Past”

Paper presented by VW.Bro S.D.Barrett

1 October 2018

In researching this paper, I asked myself what is history, without going to Google my thoughts were that there is both ancient and modern history. History however is something that we can never change, we can have our ideas and interpret it as we please, but the fact remains we can never change it.  There have been literally hundreds of Lectures written about The Temple different interpretations but the facts will always remain the same. The opening of the lodge tonight is now history and cannot be changed in any way

When we look at the hardships our predecessors encountered 100 years ago when visiting other lodges or even getting to their own lodge, I wonder whether or not they considered it a hardship, it is very obvious that ships, trains and horses played a great part in their travels, with many references being made to the supply of a Salon car by the Railways and travel by ship to ports and up rivers that provided access to established lodges. Those days the Wright Bros had yet to make their first flight so air travel would not have even entered their minds. Today if we could not drive to visit a lodge outside our boundaries we would stay at home. 

My first example is from 1905 only 113 years ago when the GM at the time visited Central Otago, visiting Cromwell Kilwinning No98, Dunstan 108, Manukerikia Kilwinning109, St Bathans 126, and Mt Ida 97. To achieve this, it necessitated travel by train, coach and buggy for 5 days out of the 6. In 1905 the rail head had only reached Omakau so a journey of 108 Km by horse drawn transport was necessary to reach Cromwell.  A ceremony of installation was held at 4 lodges followed by the usual dance or ball. The railways provided a long saloon car for the party. An interesting comparison was made by the GM in regard to Naseby and I quote. When I made my first acquaintance with Naseby, 35 years ago it was then, arid, treeless, desolate and a collection of shanties. Now bright with trees with pretty houses in the midst of gardens and public buildings substantial and handsome. 35 years previous would have been 1870, no mention was made of the mode of travel used. When I first visited Naseby in the late 60s I could relate to the description of 1870.  

Still in 1905 on the 11th of January the Grand Master accompanied by the G. Sec, G, Super, the past Grand Super, the G, Chaplin Archdeacon Stocker and accompanied by members of all the other lodges in Southland, travelled by special train to Orepuki the furthest west township in the colony to constitute and dedicate this new lodge, Lodge Orepuki 131. As I assume that even in 1905 the travel would be from Wellington another mammoth task. As appears to be normal in those days the dedication ceremony was conducted in the afternoon with a break from 6.0pm to 7.30pm when the ceremony of installation took place ending at 10.00pm when the brethren adjourned to the hall of refreshment and the most pleasant evening of song, recitation and the appropriate toast and speeches claiming attention until 12.30am.

We will now go back in time to 1877 with Lodge Palmerston No 26

When it was agreed to consecrate the lodge on August 23rd and then to meet monthly on the Thursday on or before full moon. For some unrecorded reason the lodge met on Friday august 24th when 16 candidates were proposed, balloted for and initiated that night, the fee for initiation having been fixed at 6pounds and 6 shillings, the yearly sub at 2 pounds2 shillings. There is no mention as to how long or how the ceremonies we conducted, however 1 year later the lodge was in financial trouble, having in 1877 purchased a building site for 50 pounds and accepted a contract for a building for 423 pounds and 13 shillings. In spite of efforts by the brethren to loan funds it was necessary to raise a mortgage of 400 pounds at 8.5% surely a high rate in those days. This became to much of a burden for the members, so 3 options were put to the members either increase the annual membership fee by 1 pound [rejected], issue 5 pound debentures no seconder, hand in the charter [rejected]or that the building be vacated and meetings held elsewhere [passed]. The next meeting was held in the secretary’s office, the April meeting lapsed for lack of a venue, the May and subsequent meetings were held rent free in the Government survey offices, by permission of the surveyor general for an indefinite period. The upside is that the lodge building was purchased by members from the mortgagor for 100 pounds and the lodge has met in it ever since.

Let us now take a leap forward in time to June 21st 1945 at Lodge Papatoetoe No 227 when at the regular meeting 100 visitors were welcomed by the WM WBro. WA Cairns. While the number of visitors was impressive, what was more impressive was those who were welcomed. Firstly, there was the Mayor of Wellington Bro Will Appleton, the Mayor of Auckland, Bro JAC Allum, the Mayor of Northcote Bro. M Pearn, the Mayor of Ellerslie W. Bro H White. The Mayor of Otahuhu, WBro J Murdoch, The Mayor of Manurewa, W. Bro. W Barnard. The Mayor of Wellington being a close personal friend of the Master and promised to visit during his term as Master. 6 Mayors at one meeting, wouldn’t it be great to recreate that in 2018.

An interesting note in the Ohura lodge minutes of February12th 1931. Quote- thanks are due to the local Masons wives for their share in preparing the good fare. Ohura Lodge has decided to go dry for a period of 3 months, the money saved in this way to be devoted to the Earthquake Relief Fund. End Quote.

Lodge Nicholson Lodge No 326 dedicated on 3rd May 1947 has the distinction of having the largest role of any new lodge dedicated in NZ the total membership being 132 including 67 past and present Grand Lodge Officers. Also unusual about this lodge that it was named after the MWPGM Oliver Nicholson who delivered the address to the Brethren-

An interesting article appears in the minutes for Lodge Otaki No92 for January 1904, and June and July 1905.and relates to a presentation by Bro. Brown of Dawson City.

Bro. Fred Brown the well-known Trail Gulch miner of Klondike had the idea of preparing a set of gavels carved from the tusks of a mastodon for presentation to the GL of NZ. After a great deal of effort and through the kindness of a Mr Fawcett sufficient ivory well preserved was obtained and enlisting the assistance of Dawson carver the gavels were made. On the official visit of the D.D.G.M. of Manitoba the request was made to first use the gavels at the session at which he presided in the most northerly Lodge of Masonry in the world before they were sent to the most southerly jurisdiction that being NZ. Accompanying the gavels are three stands upon which they will be used. These stands are sections of the mastodon tusk being in full circumference. Before sending them out to NZ Bro. Brown will have them mounted in Klondyke gold from his own claim Trail Gulch Klondyke. They will be sent to MW. Bro Herbert J Williams GM of NZ who will ask Bro. the Rt. Hon. R.J. Seddon to present them the proposed present is unique and the motive in remembering his Mother Lodge when so far from home will be duly a letter dated 17th March 1904 states that the work was in abeyance as he had not at that time been able to get sufficient numbers of gold nuggets of the right size. It was the end of the year before they were completed and sent to NZ. How to safely get them to NZ, was the next question, and he thanks P.M. Bro Hartman of Dawson and also the Postmaster General of Canada for granting a special permission for the tools to be sent through the mails in the safest possible manner.   The finishing and ornamenting the ivory with the gold was entrusted to Messrs Frank and Vesco Jewellers, Dawson. Bro. Anderson of Yukon Lodge decorated the case which held the tools. The GM, Gavel and striker plate are mounted with round bands of gold and have two rows of nuggets round each. the presentation of the beautiful and costly gift was made was made in May 1905 to the IP GM in the last minute of absence of 0.0. Richard Seddon. 

One can only imagine the value of these tools in 2018.

NB. In 1913, it was reported that Bro FJ Brown a member of Lodge Otaki but resident in Dawson City who made that very handsome presentation to Grand Lodge has been admitted to the mental hospital in New Westminster, British Colombia, his hard life and disappointment having affected his mind. The Grand Secretary has been in contact with lodges in Dawson City and New Westminster enlisting their assistance

To finish I have come across a short poem which I shall read and comes from the Oration at the opening of the HAUTONGA MASONIC HALL August 23rd 1966 delivered by V.W. Bro.Allan T Hunter G.L.

And one was an humble person, A man of the everyday,

Whom often I’d passed by proudly, On meeting him on my way,

He spoke! And my bigness dwindled, And out of the circling sky

There seemed to be a message, That I would be measured by.

I can to a newer learning,  An inkling of some great plan,

As they made me an Entered Apprentice,  IN THE BUILDING OF A MAN.


Reproduced from The Research Lodge of Otago Transactions Nov 2018

Do you know that an English Freemason, Thomas Cromwell, began the agitation which resulted in the migration of the Pilgrim Fathers, and that in all the stirring scenes connected with the establishment and growth of the United States, Masons have been the chief actors; that Masons were largely instrumental in the first permanent settlement made in Virginia; that the man who moved in the Continental Congress in June, 1776, the appointment of a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence, Richard H. Lee, was a Mason; that two of the committee, Livingstone and Jefferson, appointed to draft that document, were Masons, and that the very words of the Declaration of Independence are Masonic and that none other than a Mason could have dictated them; that another Mason, John Hancock, at the peril of his life, led the way to the desk and affixed his signature first to that immortal Declaration, and that all but four of the signers thereof were members of the Craft; that on the memorable night before the battle of Lexington, a Mason, Robert Morris, held a lantern in the Old South Church and gave the signal to another Mason, Paul Revere, whose “midnight ride” has been immortalised in verse; that the Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts was the engineer who laid out the breast works of Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill; and that General Joseph Warren, the Grand Master of Masons of Massachusetts, poured out his life blood upon the slopes of Bunker Hill; that Putnam, Lee, Wayne, Marion, Greene, Washington, LaFayette, and indeed nearly all of the military leaders of the Revolution were Masons, while another Mason, Benjamin Franklin, negotiated the treaty with France which enabled the American people to achieve independence. In the long roll of honourable statesmen who have knelt at Masonic altars are mentioned Patrick Henry, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and to these might be added Garfield, Roosevelt and McKinley, and even the very coins of the realm bear stamped upon their faces the inscription, significant to every Mason, “In God We Trust”. This is indeed a record of which Masonry can well boast.

- Jewels of Masonic Eloquence and Stories, Masonic Research Society, Enid, Oklahoma, U.S.A. 1915


Reproduced from the Research Lodge of Otago Transactions Nov 2018

Readers of Transactions would be familiar with the English magazine, Freemasonry Today. One of their regular contributors was Canon Richard Tydeman, Past Grand Warden, who died in 2011 at the age of 94. He wrote many very worthwhile articles, one of which he entitled “Misunderstandings”, in which he pondered the effects of change.

The trouble about getting old, he wrote, is that one can easily lose touch with the young; we don’t always seem to be speaking the same language! For instance, I will freely admit that I have never listened to Radio One in my life and consequently had never even heard of a disc jockey called John Peel. So, when a young lady told me, in a sorrowful voice, that “John Peel has died”, I wrongly imagined that this was some sort of catch or a juvenile joke, so I replied, “Well, he had probably just heard that the government propose to abolish hunting.” The young lady looked at me in bewilderment. “What’s that got to do with it?” she asked. “Oh,” said I, “D’ye ken John Peel – with his hounds and his horn in the morning, and all that.” The lady was even more bewildered. I had never heard of the disc jockey; she had never heard of the legendary huntsman.

I know there is quite a time-gap between the two John Peels, but gaps can be found even within a lifetime. A schoolmaster friend told me that he was reading to his class a story set in the eighteenth century. I quote his own words:

“At one point in the story a man wrote a letter with a quill pen and sprinkled the letter with sand. I broke off at this point to explain to the class that this sanding was a primitive form of blotting paper. At the end of the story I invited questions, and one hand went up. ‘Please sir, what’s blotting paper?’”

Modern children with ballpoint pens have no use for such a thing.

On another occasion a child asked me, “What programmes did you most enjoy on television when you were young?” I found it difficult to explain that television had not been invented then, and even my radio consisted only of a crystal set with headphones.

Now, what I am leading up to is the undoubted fact that certain things in our Masonic Ritual will not be as clear to younger brethren as they are to us pensioners. And it is likely to get worse. For instance, metric units have replaced our old familiar measurements – in fact, I believe it is now actually illegal to sell things in pounds and ounces, pints or yards.

So, how long will it still be to produce a twenty-four-inch gauge? Nobody has yet suggested any alteration to the twenty-four hours in a day – but it is just possible to imagine some idiotic government decreeing that every day must have ten hours with a hundred minutes in each hour and a hundred seconds in each minute. I am sure that such idiots would dearly love to decree that every year should have a hundred days, but fortunately that is one of the things that no human being is capable of altering!

However, feet and inches have already been outlawed in many places. Should we therefore alter our Rituals accordingly? Thus, “three feet between north and south and five feet or more perpendicular” would become “.9144m and 1.5240m respectively; “four inches or a hands breadth” becomes “10.16cm” and so on – to say nothing of “the length of my cable tow.”

No, our Ritual should not be changed to accommodate these metric variations, but we really ought to spend a bit more time in educating our candidates to understand the significance of the language in which it is written. That was the original purpose of a Lodge of Instruction, but in many cases, this has become little more than a Lodge of Rehearsal, just ploughing through the Ritual without attempting any explanation. There is so much that we take for granted without realising that our candidates might misunderstand. I was once asked by a young Mason why we talked about “the principles and tenets of our profession.”

“You can’t call Masonry a profession,” he argued, “we don’t do it for money.” When I explained to him that the phrase merely means, “the principles and tenets that we profess”, his reaction was, “Oh, I wish they had taught me that at the Lodge of Instruction.”

Other examples of change can be found in our Working Tools. Someone once asked, “Why does the Junior Warden have a greenhouse thermometer hanging from his collar?” Well, a plumb-rule does look rather like that at first glance; and the shape of the Senior Warden’s Jewel is even more puzzling because modern levels consist of a single horizontal bar and a glass cylinder of liquid with a bubble in it; very different from the old weight hanging on a string. Like so much of Masonry, our Working Tools date from the eighteenth century, which is why our Secretary’s Jewel is still crossed quills and not ballpoints.

Please, therefore, instruct your brethren and encourage them to ask questions. Some of the questions you may not even be able to answer yourself, for we all need instruction, and the wisest of us does not know everything. Don’t alter the Ritual or the established customs just because fashions and meanings change.

I have heard the Tyler’s Toast altered from “over the face of the earth and water” to “and in the air” – quite unnecessary because everyone who is over the face of earth or water must also be in the air to be able to breathe.

Let us keep original words and explain their meaning in the Lodge of Instruction. It is never too late to learn. I, personally, have now learnt to distinguish between a recently deceased disc jockey and a huntsman of two hundred years ago, “with his coat so gay.”

And that last phrase includes a word that has completely changed its meaning within the last twenty years!
- With acknowledgment to Freemasonry Today. Rev. Canon Richard Tydeman, MA OSM PSGW, a Priest for 70 years and a Freemason for 74 years, was an author, a highly-regarded preacher, compiler of crosswords, verse, and plays. A long-time columnist for Freemasonry Today, Canon Tydeman’s contribution to Masonic thought was acknowledged in 1971 when he was appointed Prestonian Lecturer.

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Keeping this website lively needs new questions to be asked by masons like you. Questions that need someone to research and answer in a short article.  

We also need questions for our quizzes.

So, please let me know of interesting questions we can use in our monthly quizzes and as a basis for research.

Send them to me at

If you want to write and submit an article, or you know of a good one written by someone else please contact me at the same e-mail address, and let me know about it. Then we could get it published on this site for everyone to see and share in the knowledge. 

Fraternally Yours,

VW Bro George Allan

Chair of National Education Committee

posted - time immemorial