Masonic Ritual – Gavel Raps

Masonic Ritual – Gavel Raps

MASONIC RITUAL

The Ritual – Gavel Raps

 

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

Knocking Three Times

What is the symbolic significance of the three (or two or one) gavel raps given by the principal officers during the Rituals of Opening and Closing?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

There are many elements of our Rituals of Opening and Closing that arose during a time when the practice in New York was to open directly into whichever Degree was the most convenient for the contemplated the work of the evening. This was usually the First Degree unless the Fellowcraft or Master Mason Degrees were being conferred that evening, in which case the Lodge might open on the Second or Third Degree. The documentary record also shows that Lodges in the various Degrees worked as discrete entities with no “changeover” or other way of moving between Degrees. Thus, for example, if a Lodge wanted to examine an Entered Apprentice and then confer the Fellowcraft Degree upon him in the same evening, they would open as an Entered Apprentice Lodge, do the examination, close the Entered Apprentice Lodge, open as a Fellowcraft Lodge, confer the Degree and close the Fellowcraft Lodge. We have a similar ability today through the ceremony for Closing to a Lodge of Another Degree.

So, while it may seem to modern-day New York Masons that we have been opening on the Third Degree for centuries, nothing could be further from the truth. The system employed in the Grand Lodge of New York until 2019 that required opening and closing on the Third Degree was an innovation that arose during the 1840s. The reasons behind that change are too complex and political for this format, but Brothers who are curious to know more can invite me to give my talk on that subject in their Lodges.

So, to return to the question… The principal officers give one, two, or three knocks as part of the Ritual to Opening as part of a system designed to ensure that all those in attendance are clear as to the Degree to which the Lodge will open and work. This is also why the Tiler is informed twice and why the three principal officers each inform the Brethren, among other practices designed to make sure everyone is on the same page as to the Degree.

The answers provided here reflect GLNY customs, rules, and ritual. We welcome discussion about how these may differ in your jurisdiction.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Masonic Ritual – Knocking Three Times Symbolic Significance

Masonic Ritual – Knocking Three Times Symbolic Significance

MASONIC RITUAL

The Ritual – Symbolic Significance

 

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

Knocking Three Times

What is the symbolic significance of knocking three times?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

Other than the meanings ascribed in the Lecture of Reasons and the Fellowcraft and Master Mason Lectures of Forms and Ceremonies in the Standard Work and Lectures of the Grand Lodge of New York, there is no particular significance ascribed in our working, although other Ritual workings may impute some symbolic association. Some extended Degree systems explain a symbolism in connection with the number of knocks and/or manner of knocking, but it is always important to bear in mind that these rites expand on what is already set forth in the three Craft Degrees and, while any explanations they provide have significance within the Degree systems from which they arise, meanings ascribed in extended Degree systems have no bearing on the content and meaning of Craft Rituals and customs within the context of a Symbolic Lodge.

The answers provided here reflect GLNY customs, rules, and ritual. We welcome discussion about how these may differ in your jurisdiction.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Masonic Ritual – Seeking Admittance

Masonic Ritual – Seeking Admittance

MASONIC RITUAL

The Ritual – Seeking Admittance

 

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

Knocking Three Times

Why do we knock three times on the inner or outer door when seeking admittance?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

This is a practice that goes back to some of the earliest documentary records of Masonic Ritual and custom. The first mention that comes to mind is a 1723 exposure entitled A Mason’s Examination. More significantly, it appears in the famous 1730 exposure Masonry Dissected, which, although it was an exposure, was so popular that virtually all the practices it describes—whether accurate at the time or not—became enshrined in Masonic custom and practice. Knocking three times was further reinforced with the publication of an equally influential pair of exposures in the 1760s, one of which was entitled Three Distinct Knocks.

The number three has had significance to Masons for a long time, of course. There are three principal officers, three great and three lesser lights, three moveable and three immovable jewels, three ruffians caught by three craftsmen, three principal tenets, and so on. And, given the time period and milieu in which these customs arose, we shouldn’t discount the influence of the Holy Trinity. The early catechisms also frequently explain that various things (coughs, taps, movements, etc.) can be done in threes to covertly signal one’s membership to others in the know.

So, if we put together the Craft’s fondness for the number three with the widespread dissemination and emulation of Masonic practices set forth in influential exposures and the fact that knocking three times is common in most any circumstance, our practice is not too surprising.

The answers provided here reflect GLNY customs, rules, and ritual. We welcome discussion about how these may differ in your jurisdiction.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Masonic Ritual – When to give Sign of Fidelity

Masonic Ritual – When to give Sign of Fidelity

MASONIC RITUAL

The Ritual – Sign Of Fidelity

 

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

When should the Sign of Fidelity be given?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

The Sign of Fidelity is required to be given during Work at the Altar, during prayer, whenever directly addressed, either collectively or individually, by an officer of higher rank, and whenever addressing the same. It is only to be given by Masons who are wearing an Apron. The Sign of Fidelity is not required for general declarations, or for ordinary discourse while the Lodge is seated. Candidates do not give this sign while receiving their Degrees.

The answers provided here reflect GLNY customs, rules, and ritual. We welcome discussion about how these may differ in your jurisdiction.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Masonic Ritual – Conducting During Degrees

Masonic Ritual – Conducting During Degrees

MASONIC RITUAL

The Ritual – Conducting During Degrees

 

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

Other than conducting, why are we not allowed to touch candidates during Degrees?

In the Grand Lodge of New York,

Why would we need to touch them other than for the purpose of conducting? Don’t forget that conducting can include assisting the Candidate in kneeling and rising as well as adjusting a Candidate’s Ritual garb if he is improperly clothed. Generally speaking, we don’t touch hoodwinked Candidates during Degrees except for the purposes of conducting because… well, it’s pretty creepy to have some unknown guy pawing you when you’re blindfolded. In cases where a hoodwinked Candidate needs some sort of direction, the conductor or Senior Deacon can simply whisper in his ear. It’s also helpful when Candidates are given some “advance preparation” on a few elements of the Ritual where they often struggle, such as making sure they know the names for the three parts of his feet and have some basic idea as to what sorts of things he might be asked to do with them. This can do much to eliminate any possibility that a Brother might feel it was useful or necessary to touch a Candidate below the waist or in any way other than those embraced by the duty of conducting.

The answers provided here reflect GLNY customs, rules, and ritual. We welcome discussion about how these may differ in your jurisdiction.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey