The Great Three Lights of Freemasonry

Discussion in 'Masonic Education' started by Blake Bowden, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member


    Assistant to the Grand Master, National Grand Lodge of Romania

    Within the initiation procedure, I swore an oath by the Three Great Symbolic Lights of Freemasonry. Later, I discovered that it was about the Square, the Compasses, and the Book of the Holy Law, which could just as well be the Bible, the Coran or the Talmud.

    The Bible, the Old and New Testament, which I have read in the time of my youth, represented the official Book of my religion, due to the historical aspect that marks the Christian civilization, to me; this represented also the elements of a moral law.

    The Compasses, used in the time of my studies and in my work place, therefore with a purely practical utilization, did not seem to have a symbolic significance.

    The Square, also an indispensable instrument for drawing or building, for measuring angles, is very useful for work.

    Thus did my profane eye see these utensils.

    As an entered apprentice, these two objects and The Book of the Sacred Law, which, in the beginning had no connection to the other two objects, appeared under the guise of the Three Great Lights of Freemasonry.

    Let us examine the three objects symbolically:

    THE SQUARE allows the drawing right angles. Thought takes us to the shape of the cubic stone that the mason apprentice must shape, starting from raw stone, which symbolizes his person; the raw stone which was struck by the hammer in my initiation. Each face of the cubic stone corresponds to a square whose 90 degree angles correspond to one angle of the square.

    The entered apprentice, just like the raw material, in a symbolic sense, will be able to make service of the Square to rectify and to order. The Square is thus the action of the initiation on one’s own person, in order to adopt a more rigorous shape, passing from the unstructured ensemble, subject to passion and internal disorder, to the ordered and balanced shape, which leads us to two levels of thought.

    The first refers to the proper shape of the Lodge, the geographic space. The limits of the Lodge are drawn with the help of the square and this Lodge is built symbolically on the dimensions of the universe. Let us not forget the fact that the old cosmological representations presented the Earth as a square and that in this perspective, the Square has a double significance, and the shape represents at once the symbol of the Earth and the instrument that serves the delimiting and marking of terrestrial space. We must keep in mind also the fact that these cosmological representations of the universe no longer retain a scientific value for a very long time. But they to maintain their symbolic actuality if we wish to reflect on the consequences of the analogist ratio of the dimensions of the Lodge, as a square, as well as of the Earth, as it is presented in the ancient’s geography.

    The second represents for us the matter and ordering instrument of this matter. This symbolizes the necessary unity that we all must seek, but also the multiplicity of appearances and Freemasons’ obligation to resolve tensions in order to be able to build conforming to the norms of universal order. Thus, the square is the instrument that harmonizes tensions, that unifies the passive with the active. For this reason, the square is the sign of the Master of the Lodge, because he conducts the activities of the workers, of those workers that have as unique ambition the satisfaction of the passions, to develop conforming to the norms of wisdom.

    If the square permits the discovery of the perfect angle, in its own turn, the COMPASSES permits the drawing of circles of various dimensions, as well as the measurement and reporting of the measures.

    Thus, the compasses will permit the exactness of the shape. This instrument is at the same time a simple one, and a complex one, because its use permits the utilizer to practice all the operations of the craft. This measurement and comparison instrument permits the appreciation of the starting point and the consequences of the acts, which must remain some of them brotherly to the rest of the world, but mostly between freemasons. The compass represents wisdom, for with its helps we can measure anything to its true value.

    The compasses teaches us to limit our wishes, social rank, in such a way that we can develop through our own merit an acceptable situation, to be respected in the time of our lives and regretted after death. While the square refers to matter and objects, the compasses refers to cause and spirit, to the creative dynamism of thought.

    We must not forget that there exists a relation between the square and the compasses. If we do not lose from sight the reciprocal relation of these two instruments, we observe also the limits that must not be overcome. The compasses opened farther than 90 degrees becomes an unstable and inoperative instrument. The balance between the square and the compasses exists, and this balance indicates the limits that we cannot overcome, limits beyond which we exist, the Masonic Initiation per se.

    As I have already specified, these two instruments rely on the BOOK OF THE SACRED LAW. This book does not represent an instrument and does not permit the initiation of a construction, as do the square and the compass, but it demonstrates that the mason through his work of construction situates himself within society, in the world, a place wherein he must respect some general and moral rules, that define the basis of the relations between beings within the „cityâ€. Also, it shows us that the mason must not be an atheist. The Mason must integrate in his work the principles of the moral law represented in our Lodge by the Book of the Sacred Law, opened at the Gospel of John.

    This Book of the Sacred Law does not represent merely the authentic or more legendary history of the Jewish people, but not the recitation of the passions of Christ; it is not just the dialogue of the human with his creator, but, at the same time, it represents a miraculous writing and discourse, tradition and evolution. This book installs the eternal dialogue of the past with the future. It is the representation of the memories and the prophecies. And it has value, because it „describes†and „suggestsâ€. It must be read with the eyes of the soul, not with the physical eyes. Blocking the spirit by dissecting the epistles represents a crime to this Book. It is sufficient to accept and see once again, in a global way, the lyric impulse, for this Book is a song of love and such a song is not analyzed. From the harmony of the notes is music born; the arranging of the words give birth to the phrase. The isolation of the notes and phrases would mean forming of sounds without meanings, without echo, without power, without virtue… without hope.

    The wonderful sound awakens the soul, the common memory of space disappears, relaxed by the depths of the collective unconscious. This Book represents for all men the foundation and connection, the pact of alliance, it is open to the world, it represents a communion with the world, and it is breath and heartbeat. Who knows how to listen to it definitively broken away from solitude, because only liberated from space and time can we participate to the universal life and the path to the light.

    To conclude, the expression of three great lights represents the association and presence on the altar of the oath of THE BOOK OF THE SACED LAW, of THE SQUARE and of THE COMPASSES. This sends us thinking of a ternary symbolic model that does not represent anything from a symbolic point of view, in fact it is a binary model, formed by Square and Compass, placed on a Book that does not represent a symbol.

    The square is therefore a solid instrument that forms right angles, but through which the raw stone becomes cubic stone, which becomes apt to be assembled in the frame of a harmonious edifice. The square permits the passing from disorder to order, from the person conceived as a disordered structure and caught by passions to the person that has acquired reason and will. Thus, the person is a symbol of rigor, of correctness, vis-à-vis oneself and the others.

    The compasses is the mobile instrument and serves drawing circles, without starting and without finalizing the process. Also, it is used to measure. And, symbolically, it represents measure in all things; it represents the movement that opposes inertia. It is the symbol of the spirit through constructive dynamism.

    The Square and the Compasses are always associated and unified in a complementary, even dialectical, reliance. The Three Great Lights cannot be dissociated. They symbolize the Masonic activity. The oath of the initiate is realized only on the three lights. It is them as well that connect in a universal way the activity of freemasons. The opening of activities is realized through the installing of the Three Great Lights.

    All freemasons must research the rigor and correctness of their reasoning, and action symbolized by the Square that permits drawing the correct angle, as the form of the stone must be correct in order to be used in the construction of the Temple. For this reason, he must, starting from a center, which constitutes his identity, the balance of behavior, and place on this center one arm of the Compass and relate it to the other to discover the correct measures. Finally, this living stone must be integrated in the Masonic edifice after it was finished with the help of the used instruments, to respect the other forms.

    The Freemason must thus respect the rules of architecture, for the harmony, beauty of the edifice is integrated in the principles of the moral law that is in the universal and historical principles of the Book of the Sacred Law. The entered apprentice that has received the light is placed on the path that can lead him to this harmony, to this beauty and to the knowledge and research of the truth. To start the search, he does not receive the dogma, nor the revealed truth, but only the symbolic instruments and the help of his Brothers. The Three Great Lights, present at his initiation must remain in his mind as active and moral principles of reference in his activity as a builder. This activity needs on his part efforts and will, for he is forced to a restatement of his own person and its acquisitions. The presence of the Three Great Lights offers him thus the force and desire to succeed in what he proposes when, as a profane, he passes the threshold of the Temple toward Masonic initiation, which, inevitably, will mark him definitively, of course, in a good way. This good will reflect in time over him, over the brethren, but also over the profane around him.
  2. PETRE

    PETRE Registered User

    Good evening.How can i get in touch with assistant MLNR ROMANIA:MARIAN MIHAILĂ?I want to talk more personal in private with him.
    With respect PETRE.
  3. hfmm97

    hfmm97 Premium Member

    Try doing an internet search for the Grand Lodge of Romania. This forum is based in the USA and is only about providing general information about Freemasonry (Texas and USA focus). Good luck.

    Sent from my iPhone using My Freemasonry mobile app
  4. PETRE

    PETRE Registered User

    Hello.Thank you for answer.MARIAN MIHĂILĂ you do not have in MLNR ROMANIA.
    How did this article post on your forum?
    You know?
    You do not have any phone number or email address yo him MARIAN MIHĂILĂ?
    A nice day to you.
    Your sincerely PETRE.
  5. hfmm97

    hfmm97 Premium Member

  6. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

    Great and moving article!
  7. PETRE

    PETRE Registered User

    Thanks for the reply.

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