A Look at Allegory and Symbols

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by jonesvilletexas, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. jonesvilletexas

    jonesvilletexas Premium Member

    As visible representatives of the Craft we interact with many people who know of our Masonic associations and their curiosity frequently leads them to ask "What is Freemasonry?" Faced with such a direct question many Brothers are challenged to reply by their memories of initiation or inability to formulate an acceptable answer. In the past "It's a secret." may have been given and ended the conversation. Others quickly and confidently responded that it is "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols", and left it at that. In any event most questioners had to be somewhat at a loss to understand and frequently dropped the matter.

    In this day and time there are many avenues to inform the non-Mason about the Craft, from handout cards to written articles to various web sites on the internet. Some are very informative and very open, while others are patently hostile. Rather than looking at these, let us examine our "system of morality ... " definition more closely.

    Firstly a "system" is a group of things interacting with one another in such a way as to form a single entity and "morality" refers to rules of conduct and upright living. Thus the objective is a unified and organized focus upon good and morale action by the members of the Craft. Virtue and the ideals of proper behavior at all times are the heart of Freemasonry and each Brother is to act accordingly, both inside and out the Lodge.

    But the system is "veiled in allegory", which means that its meaning is somewhat hidden from view and placed in a narrative, or discussion, in such a way that there are two meanings. There is the obvious meaning, which can easily be seen, while there is a "veiled" meaning that carries a concealed moral or lesson. Thus the legend of the Third Degree is an allegory, clearly discussing the life and death of a good man, and at the same time addressing restoration of life and immortality. Like parables found in the holy books, there is a story and there is a lesson, provided we are willing to look deeper.

    Finally there is the "illustrated by symbols" to which Masons readily understand, for our Craft is filled by symbols carrying keys to building our Spiritual Temples. The sprig of acacia, the square, plumb, and level are symbols pointing out the way to conduct ourselves and unify our conduct to a better life and a better world. No Brotherhood can have a more lofty, or laudable goal than that of being a good Mason.
  2. LRG

    LRG Premium Member

    Great post Bro. Jones.

    So correct, too many and too much to decide upon answering the "question".
    The craft makes good men better and provides a true brotherhood.
  3. RJS

    RJS Guest

    Great post Brother!
  4. jwardl

    jwardl Guest

    It is a difficult question to answer, trying to sum-up what masonry is in a few words when asked by an outsider. One wants to give an honest answer, but succinctly.

    How do/would you choose to answer this question for the uninitiated? What if you considered the questioner a bad candidate, and wanted to dissuade them?
  5. nick1368

    nick1368 Registered User

    Great post...thank you Brother
  6. Joey

    Joey Co-Founder Staff Member

    Thanks for the post Bro. Jerry

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