Presented November 20, 1998, at the Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research.
In mid September, when the Worshipful Master originally asked me to present a paper, I had just committed to the Chairman of the Vancouver Grand Masonic Day to deliver the talk that I had originally thought of delivering to this Lodge; that is, the talk on the history of the Address to the Brethren. I did not feel inclined to redo a talk I had done a few years ago on the history of Tracing Boards, so I told the Worshipful Master that I would give a talk which I had originally given in May, 1997 to my Lodge about globes, pillars, columns and candlesticks. I did not remember that the talk I had given was a little incomplete, at least from what I had wanted it to look like in its final version; I also had forgotten that the talk had taken me on quite a detour. The more I looked into that detour for the preparation of this paper, I realised I would be spending more time on that detour than I had a year and a half ago. I hasten to add that the original talk and this talk also are based on an article by Harry Carr entitled Pillars and Globes, Columns and Candlesticks, which appeared in Vol. 75 of the 1962 Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge on p.204.
This article was one of a number of short lectures that were designed to be read in Lodge or to study groups to provoke discussion. My original plan had been to paraphrase this article for my Lodge, because it held much interesting information and certainly is a useful survey, but I found that the references in the lecture needed so much explaining in terms of the practice carried on, as far as I understand it, in this Grand Lodge jurisdiction that my paper became then and is now somewhat more than an explanatory outline to the original Harry Carr article. I will not be duplicating much of what is in that article, and I am sure if any of you are interested you will read it on your own.
If anyone wishes to use my talk, I give them full authority to delete those parts that they feel clutter it up for their presentations. The reasons I have expounded on some of the issues I have are twofold: one is that I may never get back to these topics again, and I don’t particularly want the research to go unused in the event that someone else wanders down the same paths that I was tempted to wander down; the other reason for this expanded version is that it gives me a chance to discuss one of the subtexts of Masonic history, that is the cultural context in which it arises.
It is quite a piece of serendipity that the Lodge Night is being opened and closed by Adoniram Lodge using Emulation work. I mention that because if you read the Harry Carr article or the other articles in the Ars Quatuor Coronatorum that deal with with these issues, they describe the layout of a typical English or, more specifically, London based Lodge. Adoniram Lodge does Emulation work as if it was in England; if you ever visit their Lodge Hall, you will notice that the altar is placed directly in front of the Worshipful Master and that the three candlesticks are placed one in front of the Worshipful Master, one in front of the Senior Warden and one in front of the Junior Warden. The candlesticks, which are technically pillars, are known as the lesser lights and they are outlined initially in the Worshipful Master’s lecture to the Entered Apprentice after light has been restored. For sake of convenience and to avoid becoming too confusing, I will refer to Canadian ritual in my talk. In a typical Canadian Lodge with the altar in the centre of the Lodge Hall, these lesser lights are situated around the altar in the west, north and east and are respectively: the sun to rule the day (the Senior Warden), the moon to rule the night (the Junior Warden) and the Master of the Lodge.
Not all Canadian Lodges have the lights situated around the altar: Burnaby Lodge, for example, has the lights in front of the three officers of the Lodge. Some Lodges use electric lights and some use candles and, for those who use candles, they are lit from the Master Warden to the Senior Warden to the Junior Warden, and are extinguished, depending on the Lodge, from the Junior Warden to the Senior Warden to the Master or from the Master to the Senior Warden to the Junior Warden. If you look at pictures of English Lodges, you will find that the candles are right beside the pedestal of the three officers of the Lodge; however, there is debate whether the candles should be on the right or left hand side of the officers or whether the candlesticks should be manufactured such that one is Ionic, one is Doric and one is Corinthian. Most of these large candlesticks, that is, the lesser lights, are identical one to the other; however, Duke of Connaught Lodge has three distinct styles of lesser lights, that is Ionic, Doric and Corinthian.
This all begs the question as to why it is that in the third page of our Forms and Ceremonies the Grand Lodge is shown as having an altar in the centre of the Lodge Hall, and that the majority of Lodge Halls in this province have the altar in the centre of the Lodge Hall. This is an intriguing story, and it has consequences as to how we perform our ritual work, but I’ll leave that for someone else to deal with.
Why it is that there is some debate about the nature of the candlesticks has to do with the fact that in the Canadian First Degree lecture there is a reference to the three most celebrated noble orders of architecture being Ionic, Doric and Corinthian. These three types of architecture refer to the style of pillars that support a Masonic Lodge which we know as wisdom, strength and beauty. This reference to these three great pillars supporting the Lodge is actually repeated twice in this lecture. Yet, when you look around the Lodge, there is not one example of any pillar supporting any part of the Lodge structure. The only pillars that there are in the Lodge are the two pillars mentioned in the Second Degree, that is from Solomon’s Temple, and those clearly are not load bearing pillars, they were never designed to support anything but, rather, to be an adornment to and a notification of the sanctity of the Temple.
As for the two pillars, they show up in Masonic artifacts before the creation of the first Grand Lodge and, in fact, they are mentioned, specifically in reference to Solomon’s Temple, at the end of the seventeenth century. The Hiramic myth, which is the basis of the Third Degree, shows up for the first time in print about 1730. Therefore, by that time the notion of turning the Lodge Hall into a replica of the Temple and dealing with the secrets lost in Temple building by the death of Hiram Abif are all pretty well established.
This notion of setting up a Lodge as a Temple is important to the placement of the two pillars. When you enter most Lodges in British Columbia as a candidate, you enter through the two pillars that represent the two pillars outside the entranceway to King Solomon’s Temple. In New Westminster, when anyone enters the Lodge, including the candidate, it is done through the two pillars which are in front of the Warden’s pedestal, that is between the Warden’s pedestal and the altar. There is a disagreement as to which pillar is which and whether or not we describe the right pillar from looking into the Temple or from looking out from the Temple. This is a variation of the same problem about the winding staircase in the Second Degree Tracing Board, which is why it is the only one of the three Tracing Boards that doesn’t have the points of the compass on it. As some of you may know, the original Tracing Boards were designed to lie on the floor of the Lodge with the candidate, if not all the Lodge Brethren, standing around while the Brother giving the lecture pointed out the symbols on the Tracing Board; therefore, the Second Degree Tracing Board could be placed on the floor and turned to whichever direction the Lodge determined that the staircase went.
What we have in our Lodges now is based on a gradual evolution from the time when the Lodges basically consisted of a room with a Bible, some tables and chairs, some candlesticks and information drawn on the floor usually by way of chalk. These drawings gradually evolved into a physical manifestation such as pillars and columns and candlesticks, and also into floor cloths and tracing boards, etc. While the messages in the lectures have changed, sometimes because of the new representations of the original symbols (for example, tracing boards), the symbols have changed because they have become concrete. In other words, we no longer draw pillars on the floor, we in fact have permanent pillars in most of our Lodge Halls.
Therefore, the value or import of the symbolism has radically changed and it is easy to forget the evolution, which was, in its most profound sense innocent, because now the concrete symbolism has taken on a life of its own. The symbolism, I should tell you, is primarily purely Masonic in the sense that it does not necessarily have its antecedents in the Bible. This is dealt with a number of times, but most specifically by Harry Carr in The Freemason at Work on page 111, when he deals with the question of the network over the pillars, and he refers to the language in the Old Testament and concludes, in reference to the English Second Degree Tracing Board lecture, that:
This analysis came from a discussion over the pillars to the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple. Harry Carr’s view is that the source for the globe on top of the pillars came from a mistranslation from Hebrew into English in the Geneva Bible of 1560 and a consequent diagram indicating that the pillar at the entrance of King Solomon’s Temple was surmounted by a globe shaped item. I have enclosed the title page of a facsimile version of the Geneva Bible and a copy of that page where the mistranslation occurs, that is, page 153 being the section of I Kings where the diagram is y of yz as z the forme of the piller . I have also enclosed a blowup of that diagram. This design feature that is, this pillar with a globe on top found favour in literature and architectural drawings from the middle of the sixteenth century onward, as is outlined in some great detail in The Antediluvian Pillars in Prose and Verse,AQC Vol. 51, 1940, p.100, by W.J. Williams. There are, however, many examples of pillars without globes on them. As Harry Carr points out in his article, celestial globes and globes of the earth became part of the furniture of Lodges in the mid eighteenth century and were used for ritual lectures. The shape and design of the globes and the historical renderings made it inevitable that this symbolism would be incorporated in Masonic ritual. Clearly, globes on top of King Solomon’s pillars were an historical anachronism, but by 1802 they were specifically mentioned as surmounting Solomon’s pillars for the first time with one globe being celestial and one being terraquaeos .
There are two issues that I had in the original text that I expanded on in some length and determined that I ought not to present at this time. The first was a minor issue dealing with a comment that Harry Carr made about the impact of the Geneva Bible on Masonry, which I agreed with, but the references that I gave were not adequate to give a full understanding of this issue, so I determined that I would get back to it at some time in the future. The second issue dealt with the renderings of Solomon’s pillars: I had given a list of articles and references to different renderings of Solomon’s pillars, some with just a J and a B on them, some with open bowls on top, some with globes on top, but the references caused not just a wide variety of representations such as floor cloths or tracing boards, exposures, backs of pendants, wall hangings, certificates, and handpainted aprons, but also a wide variety of physical locals such as France, Ireland, England, Scotland and America, that to compile them without explaining the cultural or social differences behind the representations at the time would be ultimately quite misleading. This really is a separate topic and I did not want to venture too far into it. Having said that, I did determine to enclose with this paper a blow-up of a photograph of the Masonic Temple in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. This picture appears on page 93 of Freemasonry, A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol by W. Kirk MacNulty, published by Thames and Hudson, London, 1991.
Before I finish with globes, I might as well deal with the Wardens’ columns. These columns have come to us pretty well unchanged from the way they looked in England, that is, a pillar with a globe on top, which is the only representation you will see in many English Lodges for the pillars of King Solomon’s Temple. There is a fair amount written about the Warden’s columns; in fact, they are first mentioned in 1760 in the exposure Three Distinct Knocks, where it is clear that the Junior and Senior Wardens columns represent Boaz and Jachin. I point out that our present Installation Ceremonies are specific that the Senior Warden is given a column which is representative of Doric architecture, and the Junior Warden is given a column which is representative of Corinthian architecture.
It is also clear since 1760 that the Senior Warden’s column is in an upright position for the full time that the Lodge is at labour, and that when the Lodge is at refreshment the Senior Warden’s column is down and the Junior Warden’s column is in an upright position because he is in charge of the Lodge during refreshment. Nothing in particular has changed since then, except possibly the rational for the columns being up or down depending on who is in charge of the Lodge. The best reason I have found is on page 23 of The Freemason at Work when Harry Carr quotes Colin Dyer, dealing with the fact that a Lodge quite often met around a table and, while toasts were part of the Lodge proceedings, refreshments (that means food) were not. It was the Junior Warden’s job to make sure everyone understood that when refreshments were over his column was put down and the Senior Warden’s put up so the people knew to go back to their Lodge discussions as compared to their over the food discussions. This is reflected still in the English expressions of having a Lodge called on which means it’s at work, or having it called off which means it’s at refreshment. This is language you will find in the English rituals, and that’s where it comes from.
The Solomon’s pillars therefore have been, in many English Lodge Halls, metaphorically changed by the two pillars that are used by the Junior and Senior Warden, at least that is in terms of the design that they have, even though they are referred to as being of either Doric or Corinthian architecture. These pillars with globes on top are quite often used in the Master’s chair: for example, the Grand Master chair in the Grand Lodge of England has the rear of the chair supported by two large columns with globes on top.
When I gave my talk, I mentioned that I had only seen Warden’s pillars shaped as I described, that is, pillars surmounted by globes in one form or another. In the discussion afterwards, R.W. Bro. Ross Daniels mentioned that his old Lodge, Kilwinning, which has since consolidated, had been presented with two Warden’s pillars made of acacia from a Lodge in Portland, Oregon. These pillars had flat tops. Similarly, I was informed of two brass pillars used in a Lodge in Hamilton, Ontario, that also had flat tops on them.
Finally, and I’ve saved this to the last, we get to the detour, and that has to do with the history of the pillars. The first mention of pillars in a Masonic context is in something called The Cooke Manuscript which is generally dated 1410. It describes two antediluvian, that is, before the Flood, pillars that were built, one being of waterproof material and one of a form of brick. These substances were chosen because it was important to preserve knowledge in the event that God’s wrath would come upon mankind and this brick would not burn in fire and this type of waterproof material would not be destroyed by water. Obviously, the importance of keeping scientific knowledge that was developed before the Flood to be used after the Flood is pretty clear.
A transliteration of the relevant sections of The Cooke Manuscript. was completed by G. W. Speth, Past Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and published by that Lodge along with a facsimile of the original document in Vol. 2 of the Masonic Reprints; the editorial comments are those of Speth.
Before we go into the analysis of this copy, I have to deal with some (and I hesitate to call them) facts, or agreed upon statements which would be in Chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Genesis. I chose language from the British and Foreign Bible Society Bible which had been presented to Mount Moriah Lodge in 1939, as it is the Bible which is on display in the Grand Lodge Library, rather than confuse an already confusing issue. The Noah story and, in fact, the immediately preceding story, that is, Cain and Abel, were obviously well known to anyone who had a religious or cultural background predicated on knowledge of the Old Testament, which would include pretty well anyone in the English speaking world and anyone from a culture that has the Judeo/Christian or Muslim tradition. Most people believe they know what the stories are, either from memory or from Sunday school or the equivalent, or even watching television shows on the Bible and Biblical history, etc. The language of these stories is quite stark and straightforward, and leaves lots of room for interpretation, and what we are about to deal with is a lot of interpretation or, what may have been called in the Dark Ages or Middle Ages, exegesis or gloss, and what we would now call commentary.
What this is all about is trying to make sense out of these cryptic stories, and quite often what happens in the process of making sense of these cryptic stories overwhelms the story. In other words, the story that is told to explain what is in the Bible in effect becomes the Biblical story and, to a great extent, that is what has happened here. This situation must further be thought of with a much more detached view than we are used to. We believe that our view of history that is verifiable and factual, has been the constant view of history, and that just isn’t true. Our view is quite modern, and in fact it is presently being challenged by many deconstructionist intellectuals who say that even our supposedly detached view of history really reflects a certain cultural bias. But aside from that, up until very recently, people’s views of history didn’t necessarily distinguish between a story and a purpose for the story. For a mediaeval person, a view of history only made sense if it kept within the theological view of the world that he had adopted; similarly, for the early Masons and for some Masons now, any view of history that somehow traces the antecedents of modern Masonry back to Euclid or Pythagorus or the Egyptians or any Biblical reference makes perfectly good sense.
Keep in mind that when you hear this you may not know all the details as well as you thought you did, and you are hearing it the same way that someone would have heard it in the eighth or ninth centuries, or even the fourteenth century, that is, they probably weren’t going to read it and mull it over, they simply heard the information. Also keep in mind that there are two Lamechs in this story, a good Lamech and a bad Lamech , and two Enochs. The best way to keep everyone straight is to remember that the Bible is full of stories that have a strong sense of predestined genetics, that is, if your father was a bad guy, then you seem to have a genetic predetermination that you might be a bad guy, and so might your great, great great grandchildren. So, there are two lines of genealogy here, one from Cain and one from Seth, Cain being the bad guy and Seth being the good guy.
When you get home you might want to read Chapters 4 and 5 of Genesis, which go through the mathematics of procreation after Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden. There are only three children of Adam and Eve mentioned: the three named sons being Cain, Abel and Seth. We all know that Cain killed Abel and that initially Cain was forced to wander the earth and never settle down, but he went to East of Eden to the Land of Nod where he ended up cohabiting with one of his unnamed sisters and had a son named Enoch. Cain and he built a city, naming it Enoch after his son. The family, after a variety of generations, ended up with someone called Methusael. Methusael had a son named Lamech, who had two different wives: Adah who gave him two sons, Jabal and Jubal. Jabal was the ancester of all those who live in tents and keep cattle and Jubal was the ancestor of all who play harp and organ; and Zillah who gave him a daughter, Naameh, and a son, Tubelcain, who was an instructor of every artificer of brass and iron implements. This Lamech , unfortunately, is probably the first really bad person mentioned in the Bible. He killed two people and boasted about it to his wives and was completely unrepentant.
On the other hand, Seth was born as a replacement for Abel, who had been killed by Cain. He also cohabited with one of his unnamed sisters, and had a long variety of children, the first being Enosh. This line ultimately bred Jared who had a son named Enoch (a very distant cousin of the first Enoch), and his son was Methuselah (you all know him), whose son was Lamech, whose son was Noah. The good Enoch is quite famous in Biblical terms: he didn’t die, he simply started to walk with God and he was no more because God had taken him. Quite an extraordinary description, one that stuck in the minds of many Biblical scholars; he crops up again later on in Anderson’s Constitutions.
What got me thinking about all of this and why it’s part of this article is the fact that two Masonic pillars that we now allude to, that is, from outside the entrance or porchway to King Solomon’s Temple, in fact replaced to earlier pillars known as the Antediluvian Pillars. The story behind this, briefly put, is that there were two pillars manufactured prior to the Flood, one built of material that would withstand fire and one built of material that would withstand flood, and on the outside of these pillars were written all the secrets, basically of technology, known to mankind up until that time. Reference to these pillars crops up in Masonic context first in The Cooke Manuscript dated about 1410. Harry Carr ascribes this myth properly to Josephus, a Jewish writer of the second century after Christ. This is picked up subsequently by Walter Sharman in his, otherwise very good, article “Beside the Pillar as the Manor Was,” AQC Vol. 106, 1993, p.236. Sharman ascribes this story to Josephus and puts it in the framework of Jewish legends. This is an accurate but completely misleading description of events. It is accurate because the first reference to this story comes in Josephus, but it is misleading for a number of reasons: first of all, on a fundamentally religious basis this Josephus myth is probably unknown to most Jewish scholars, mainly because it is so far outside the mainstream of Jewish commentary regarding Noah and the Flood. Secondly, because there were virtually no Jews in England from the time of the Crusades until the Protectorate, Cromwell’s Long Parliament, it is misleading to ascribe this reference solely to Josephus, especially because the reference was picked up by early Christian writers and was used by medieval theologians culminating in The Polychronicon, written by P Ranulf Higden in 1327. This book was the most important history of England until the mid sixteenth century and was well known to every literate Englishman, certainly from the end of the fourteenth century onward. There are a couple of strands to this story, and to make it more comprehensible and less complex I will deal with the story regarding the information on the pillars before I get into the other story regarding who actually made the pillars. I regret I will be jumping back and forth in chronology to do this, but if I don t do it this way the stories will, for those of you who are listening, probably become too intertwined once again.
I mentioned earlier a piece of serendipity with having Adoniram Lodge opening and closing the Lodge tonight; there is another piece of serendipity in my research, and that happens to be some information contained in a very thorough book on this topic, The Bible In Early English Literature by David Fowler, University of Washington Press, 1976. As you will see, he fills in the missing gaps to part of the story about the information on or in the pillars. In the original Josephus story, the information required by mankind, who would be surviving either a flood or a fire, was inscribed on the outside of these two impervious columns; Josephus says that one of the columns has survived and is still standing in Syria. As mentioned before, this story was picked up by a variety of writers in the Dark and Middle Ages, until it gets picked up as part of the Noah myth by Ranulf Higden in The Polychronicon.The Polychronicon was written in Latin and was translated twice into English: the first time by a famous scholar, John of Trevisa, from Oxford University, in 1387, and the second time by an anonymous scholar in the fifteenth century. In the Antediluvian Pillars article by Williams, which I’ve mentioned earlier, he gives quotes from both of these translations, and the quote from the anonymous translation relates simply to information being inscribed on the outside of these two pillars, whereas the quote from the John Trevisa translation explains that the columns were hollow and had stuck inside them books containing all these ancient secrets. Williams goes no further with that reference, and probably with good reason, because to track down which was the proper translation from mediaeval Latin to mediaeval English would have been not just a large piece of scholarship but would also have required a real knowledge of mediaeval commentary. Luckily for us, Professor Fowler provides the answer to this on page 218 of his book: while in a discussion about the translation of The Polychronicon by John Trevisa , he explains that Trevisa occasionally added his own comments and the example that he chooses to give is this example regarding the pillars. It was Trevisa who decided all by himself that the pillars were hollow and were full of books. There are occasional references to books inside pillars later on in Masonic lore, specifically in regard to the hollow columns of King Solomon’s Temple, but I think these ideas can be put to rest. This doesn’t mean that Trevisa s story disappeared: in fact, it became the basis for a fair amount of literature, as is outlined in the William’s article, including one long poem translated from French into English where there were originally two columns and one was broken so that information could be gotten out of it and the other was still remaining untouched. Professor Fowler also gives an example of a Cornish Mystery Play published in 1611, The Creation of the World, where books are enclosed in brick and marble.
With that story out of the way, then we can get to the second story, and probably the most important issue: who was involved in the pillar story? The basis of the pillar story was that information would be lost in the event of a huge conflagration by way of fire or a huge flood, and therefore information had to be stored for mankind. In the original Josephus story, Adam predicted that the world would be destroyed by fire or by flood, and he therefore required through Seth that Seth’s offsprings build these two columns, which they did. In The Polychronicon, we still have Adam being the predictor of these awful events, but there is no specific reference as to who built the columns. However, when we look at The Cooke Manuscript, the story has radically changed: the people who determined that the earth would be destroyed are the four children of Lamech (mistakenly called the four brethren, that is, Jabal, Jubal, Tubelcain and Naameh; and they were the individuals who built and inscribed these two pillars. When you read this part of The Cooke Manuscript, you will also see certain identities of Masonic import allocated to Jabal, Jubal and Tubelcain that certainly are not Biblical in context.
I have also enclosed a copy of the Lansdowne Manuscript of about 1600, which tells the same story but the language now refers to the children of Lamech, not the brethren. The only reason that I chose the Lansdowne Manuscript was because it was published in the same volume of reprints as the Cooke Manuscript. I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve done an exhaustive study of all the manuscripts on this issue, because I haven’t.
This Masonic view of who built the pillars was quite singular: for example, in the Cornish Mystery Play that Professor Fowler mentions, it was Seth who foresaw the destruction of the world and the pillars were prepared by Jared, who was the father of Enoch (that is, the one who walked with God), and Seth placed the books in Jared’s pillars.
When Anderson published the first Book of Constitutions in 1723, there were two references to these pillars. The first is a footnote on page 3, which I quote as follows:
and the second, on page 75 of the Constitutions, is the following chorus of the Master’s Song:
I have enclosed a photocopy of the Masonic reprint of the second Book of Constitutions of 1738, specifically pages 3 and 4, dealing with much of the same history; you will find an indented footnote on page 3 referring to Josephus but still referencing Enoch as the erector of the two large pillars; and on page 4 there is a confirmation that Noah was the father of all of mankind after the Flood and that we should all be good sons of Noah, or, as Anderson ascribes the Latin name, Noachidae which he then by way of a footnote says that Noachidae is the first name of Masons according to some old traditions. This reference to Noachidae was deleted from all future editions. Where these traditions came from is obscure, but it does reflect a certain tension regarding the Noah myth, and that comes up in the Graham Manuscript which was written, it is agreed, in 1726, but is copied from an earlier document. This Manuscript is outlined in great detail in a very thorough article in AQC Vol. 50, 1940, on p.5 by the
Reverend H. Poole.
I trust I haven’t taxed your patience by taking this detour, but I thought it was important that Brethren about this Lodge be reaquainted with some of these stories, and that those who never run into them, know of them for the first time.
A few days ago, I spoke with a Past Master of a Lodge who explained to me that he knew which of the two columns had the celestial globe on it and which of the two columns had the earthly globe on it. Without going into any detail, this of course required an agreement as to which of the two columns was Boaz and which was Jochin. Once you determined that, then you had to put the right globe on the top of the correct column. It took me a while to realise that I really did not understand the full nature of what it was he was explaining to me, probably because the references he was using to explain this related to the Royal Arch and some other topics which I thought were somewhat extraneous to the work that goes on inside a Craft Lodge. I mention this because Masonic symbolism is constantly evolving, and part of the cement of Masonry is that none of us are right or wrong, we’re simply Brothers and we have to learn to accept each other’s different points of view. I need say no more of this, except to quote from the final paragraph of a book review written by the great Masonic writer, John Heron Lepper ; this review appeared on page 128 of AQC Vol. 50, 1940, regarding a book called Masonic Symbolism.