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
Beyond Ritual – Traveling with the Masters Word

Beyond Ritual – Traveling with the Masters Word

MASONIC RITUAL

Beyond Ritual

Traveling with the Masters Word

Brethren of the Craft, today we embark on a profound journey, delving into the intricate symbolism that lies at the heart of Freemasonry. As we navigate through the enigmatic depths of our cherished fraternity, we shall unveil the profound significance concealed within the question: “What induced you to become a Master Mason?” This query’s response holds layers of symbolic meaning that lead us through the sacred passages of our time-honored traditions.

In the rich tapestry of Freemasonry, we are reminded that our voyage is not limited to the  physical realm. Rather, it constitutes a symbolic odyssey, guiding us towards self-improvement, enlightenment, and dedicated service to humanity. The words, “To obtain the Master’s word, travel in foreign countries, work and receive Master’s wages…” encapsulate profound and multi-faceted truths.  

In the context of Freemasonry, the response to the question elicits several profound symbolic explanations. The aspiration of ancient Brethren to become Masters was driven by the quest for the Master’s word, which acts as a metaphorical key to unlock the ability to “travel in foreign countries.” This answer resonates on different levels. First, gaining the Master’s word signifies a pivotal achievement, akin to a passport that grants access to explore the intricate and diverse realms within Freemasonry. Just as a traveler explores foreign lands with different customs and cultures, Masons delve into the domains of philosophy, history, and symbolism within the Craft.

Importantly, at the core of this response resides the concept of “the Word.” Our Masonic  heritage regales us with tales of a Word of profound significance, known only to a select few but eventually lost to the annals of time. This Word, my brethren, is far from a mere sequence of letters; it embodies divine truth and knowledge, once imparted to the patriarchs of humanity. As Freemasons, our calling entails the pursuit of this elusive truth, to uncover the profound wisdom concealed beneath the surface.  

Symbolically, this Word stands as a beacon of Divine Truth, guiding our Masonic voyage. In  much the same way that a traveler immerses themselves in the intricacies of foreign lands, we  Masons immerse ourselves in the domains of philosophy, history and symbolism as alluded to  earlier. Our journey takes diverse forms – from the Entered Apprentice to the Fellowcraft and  culminating in the Master Mason – each degree marking a step towards enlightenment. Our  pursuit extends beyond mere knowledge acquisition, transforming into a quest for self-discovery and the embodiment of virtue. 

Symbolically “traveling in foreign countries” encapsulates a journey through distinct territories of  knowledge within Freemasonry. These realms are enriched with philosophical insights, historical perspectives, and profound symbolism – each presenting a unique facet of the Masonic experience. With the Master’s word as our guide, we gain entry into these symbolic lands of enlightenment. 

Within this journey, we encounter challenges akin to those encountered by travelers in foreign  lands. Just as a sojourner faces hurdles, we, too, encounter trials. The portrayal of old age and death in the Master Mason degree serves as a reminder that our earthly existence is  ephemeral, and the pursuit of absolute truth may elude us. However, solace can be found in the substitute for the lost Word, a guiding light to wisdom, urging us to await the time when perfect understanding shall be attained.  
Our Masonic voyage, however, extends beyond the confines of our earthly journey. The symbolism alludes to a life beyond the grave, where the recovery of the Word symbolizes a  state post-mortality. This suggests that true enlightenment finds its ultimate fulfillment beyond  the limitations of our earthly existence. Our labor, our unwavering search for the Word,  transforms into a form of worship, a dedication to the pursuit of divine truth. The concept of “to work and receive Master’s wages” transcends mere monetary exchanges; it embodies the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom within the context of Freemasonry. 

These teachings empower us not only for personal betterment but also to excel as husbands,  fathers, sons, brothers and active community members. Armed with the wisdom of our Craft, we become agents of upliftment for ourselves and those around us. While the latter part of the Masonic ritual underscores the importance of supporting ourselves, our families and the Masonic community more broadly – particularly those in need – this assistance encompasses more than mere financial aid. It underscores our duty to apply Masonic teachings, becoming steadfast pillars in our communities, extending compassion and care to fellow Masons, their widows, orphans, and those facing adversity. 

In essence, the Masonic journey mirrors the symbolic framework we’ve explored. The  acquisition of the Master’s Word empowers us to “travel in foreign countries,” embarking on  meaningful explorations into diverse domains of knowledge, achieving enlightenment and  strengthening ourselves and our communities. As Master Masons, we heed this symbolic call –  to enrich ourselves with the Master’s Word and to embark on these profound transformative journeys.  

It is worth noting that our ancient operative Brethren aspired to become Masters to practice their craft while traveling in literal “foreign countries.” In a speculative sense, Freemasons desire to “travel in foreign countries” to study and explore their craft. However, these “foreign countries”  hold a distinct meaning for us – they symbolize the various aspects of Masonic knowledge, philosophy, history, and symbolism awaiting discovery within the fraternity. 

In conclusion, Brethren, our journey within Freemasonry is a profound and intricate one. The  symbolism inherent in the Word instructs us to seek divine truth, to traverse the uncharted  realms of knowledge, and to labor diligently for personal enlightenment and the upliftment of our  families and communities. The pursuit of light becomes our mission, and through the pursuit of  knowledge, we unearth the profound depths of Freemasonry’s allegorical nature.

Let this wisdom serve as a guiding Light on your Masonic voyage. Let us remember that our true reward is not solely found in words or rituals, but rather in our personal growth,  enlightenment, the impactful contributions we make as Freemasons, and the indissoluble bonds of Brotherhood that are formed as a derivation of our travels. In our unwavering quest for divine truth, let us continue to plumb the limitless depths of our Craft, tirelessly striving to enhance ourselves and our world.

Written by:

John Pasqualicchio, Master Adonai Lodge #718, Highland, New York

Jason Short

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