The Kabbalistic & Alchemical Symbolism of the Old French Apprentice (1°)

 

1A French Rite: Catechism of the Apprentice (1744)

“Question. Are you a Mason ?
Answer. My Brothers and Companions recognize me as such.

Q. How would I recognize that you are a Mason?
A. By my signs, my marks and my word.

Q. What are the signs of the Masons?
A. The Square, the level and the plumb line.

Q. What are the marks?
A. Certain regular grips, which are given among Brothers.

Q. Give me the sign of the Apprentice? one gives the sign of the Apprentice.

Q. Give me the grip? one gives the grip.

Q. Give me the word?
A. I will spell it with you. Give me the first letter, I will tell you the second.
Q. J.
A. A.
Q. K.
A. I.
Q. N.

Q. What does JAKIN mean?
A. My strength/force is in God and it is the name of one of the two columns of bronze, placed at the door of the Temple of Solomon, near where the Apprentices assemble in order to be at Attention.

Q. What is the password of the Apprentices?
A. TUBALCAIN.

Q. What does Tubalcain mean?
A. The name of the son of Lamech, the first person who worked Metals.

Q. What is the first duty of a Mason?
A. It is to see whether the Lodge is well covered.

Q. Where do you come from?
A. From the Lodge of Saint John.

Q. What recommendation do you bring us?
A. Good welcome to the visiting Brothers.

Q. Do you bring anything more?
A. The Venerable Master of the Lodge of Saint John salutes you three times three.

Q. What do you come here to do?
A. To vanquish my passions, to submit my will, and to make further progress in Masonry.

Q. Where were you received as a Mason?
A. In a complete and regular Lodge assembly.

Q. How many kinds of Lodges are there?
A. Three, namely, the simple, the just, and the perfect.

Q. What makes up the simple Lodge?
A. Three, a Venerable, and two Surveyors

Q. What makes up the just Lodge?
A. Five, a Venerable, two Surveyors, a Master, and an Apprentice-Companion.

Q. What makes up the perfect Lodge?
A. Seven, a Venerable, two Surveyors, two Masters, and two Apprentice-Companions.

Q. Who governs it?
A. Three, a Venerable Master, and two Surveyors.

Q. Where was the Venerable placed?
A. In the East.

Q. Why?
A. Just as the Sun rises in the East in order to open the day, so the Venerable places himself there in order to open the Lodge, illuminate it, govern it, and put Workers to work.

Q. Where were the Surveyors placed?
A. In the West.

Q. Why?
A. Just as the Sun sets in the West in order to close the day, so the Surveyors place themselves thus in order to close the Lodge, to pay the Workers, and to send them off happy.

Q. Where did the Apprentices stand?
A. In the North.

Q. Why?
A. To maintain, and reinforce the Lodge.

Q. Why did you want to be received as a Mason?
A. Because I was in darkness, and I wanted to see the light.

Q. Through whom were you introduced into the Lodge?
A. Through a friend, who gave me over to the hands of another friend, whom I recognized afterwards as the second Surveyor.

Q. Who examined you in the Lodge?
A. An Expert.

Q. In what state were you, then?
A. Neither naked, nor clothed; however, in a decent position, and devoid of all Metals.

Q. Why neither naked nor clothed?
A. Because virtue does not need ornaments in order to appear bright.

Q. Why stripped of all metals?
A. When the Temple of Solomon was built, no sound of Hammer, nor of other Tools composed of metal was heard.

Q. How was such a large & strong building able to be raised without the aid of any instrument built from Metals?
A. Hiram King of Tyre sent to Solomon Cedars of Lebanon all cut to fit and ready to be placed, and Solomon had just as many made in the Quarries, from stones which he needed for his Temple.

Q. How were you introduced into the Lodge?
A. By three great strikes.

Q. What do these three great strikes signify?
A. Three words of the Sacred Scripture. Knock, it will be opened, speak, you will be answered, ask, you shall receive.

Q. Who produced these three great strikes for you?
A. A second Surveyor.

Q. What did he do with you?
A. He made me go around the Lodge three times, by the North, and then put me back in the West into the hands of the first Surveyor.

Q. What were you looking for on this path ?
A. The Light.

Q. What did the first Surveyor make you do?
A. He put my feet in a Square, he made me journey as a Mason and presented me to the Venerable Master.

Q. How do the Apprentices journey?
A. From the West to the East.

Q. Why?
A. In order to go about seeking the Light.

Q. What did the Venerable Master do with you?
A. With a sincere desire that I had, and the consent of the Lodge, he received me as a Mason.

Q. How did he receive you as a Mason?
A. With all the required formalities. I was deprived of all Metals, I had the right knee naked upon the Square, the left shoe in a slipper, the right hand on the Gospel, and in that of the left I held a Compass half-opened upon the left breast which was naked.

Q. What did you do in this position?
A. I contracted an obligation to keep the secrets of the Masons, and of Masonry.

Q. What are these secrets?
A. Words, grips & signs without number.

Q. What did you see when you entered into the Lodge?
A. Nothing that the human mind can comprehend.

Q. What did you see when you were received as a Mason?
A. Three great Lights, placed one in the East, the other in the West, and the third in the South.

Q. Why not in the North?
A. This is because the Sun’s rays penetrate weakly into this part.

Q. What were the Lights for?
A. To illuminate those who came to the Lodge, those who work there, and those who were returning to it.

Q. What do these three lights signify?
A. The Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge.

Q. Where was your Lodge situated?
A. In the valley of Jehosaphat, at the foot of the highest Mountain.

Q. What form did it have?
A. A long square.

Q. How long was it?
A. From the East to the West.

Q. How deep was it?
A. From the surface of the Earth to the center.

Q. How wide was it?
A. From the South to the North.

Q. How high was it?
A. Feet, yards, and cubits without number.

Q. What covered it?
A. A celestial Canopy decorated with stars.

Q. What supported it?
A. Three great Pillars.

Q. How do you name them?
A. Wisdom, strength/force, and beauty.

Q. Why are they called thus?
A. Wisdom in order to invent, strength/force in order to support, and beauty in order to adorn.

Q. How many windows were there?
A. Three.

Q. Where were they situated?
A. One in the East, the other in the South, and the third in the West.

Q. How many Jewels were there in your Lodge?
A. Six, namely, three mobile and three immobile.

Q. What are the mobile Jewels?
A. The Square, the Level, and the plumb line.

Q. What are the immobile ones?
A. The tracing board, the brute stone, and the pointed cubic stone.

Q. What is the use of the mobile jewels?
A. The Square is used to give form, the Level is used to make even, and the Plumb line is used to raise Perpendicular surfaces upon their foundations.

Q. What is the use of the immobile jewels?
A. The tracing Board serves the Masters in order to make their Plans, the brute Stone serves the Companions in order to work, the pointed cubic Stone serves the Apprentices in order to sharpen their Tools.

Q. To whom was your Lodge dedicated?
A. To Saint John.

Q. Why?
A. This is because since the time of the holy wars in Palestine, the Knight Masons reunited as the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Q. Why is the sword put in one’s hand when a Brother is received?
A. This is to discard the Profane.

Q. How many kinds of Masons are there?
A. Two kinds, namely the Masons of theory and the Masons of practice.

Q. What do you learn being a Mason of Theory?
A. A good morality, to purify our customs, and to make ourselves pleasing to the whole world.

Q. What is a Mason of practice ?
A. He is the Worker who Cuts Stones, and who raises Perpendiculars upon their foundations.

Q. What are the duties of a Mason?
A. To flee vice and to practice virtue.

Q. What are their qualities?
A. Strength/Force, Wisdom, and Beauty.

Q. How does he reunite these three qualities in himself?
A. His strength/force is in his union with his Brothers, his Wisdom is in his customs, and his beauty is in his character.

Q. What time is it?
A. Twelve hours formed.

Q. What is your age?
A. Under seven years old.

 
End of the Catechism of the Apprentices.

-Paraphrase from Ch. 3 of CATECHISM OF THE FREE-MASONS (1744) by Louis Travenol,
available in Ch. 8 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

1B French Rite: Catechism of the Female Apprentice (1772)

“Q. Are you a Masonne?
A. Yes, I believe so.

Q. Why do you not say that you are sure?
A. This is because an Apprentice is sure of nothing.

Q. Where were you received as an Apprentice?
A. In a place where the terrestrial Paradise was represented.

Q. How were you introduced into the Lodge?
A. Deprived of the light.

Q. Why?
A. To teach me to overcome every curiosity in order to attain our mysteries.

Q. Before entering into the Lodge, what was required of you?
A. Three tokens, an earring, a cuff and a garter.

Q. Why?
A. In order to teach me to have confidence in Masons and Masonnes.

Q. How did you attain the mysteries of Masonry?
A. Through an arch of iron and of steel.

Q. What does it represent?
A. Strength/Force and stability of the Order.

Q. How do I know you are an Apprentice?
A. Through my signs and my words.

Q. Give me the sign? (She gives it).

Q. Give me the word?
A. Fein-Feax.

Q. What does this word signify?
A. School or academy of virtues.

Q. What is that school?
A. Masonry.

Q. Where were you received?
A. In the garden of Eden, which God gave to Adam and Eve.

Q. Did you have trouble entering into this garden?
A. Yes, I had to pass several difficult tests.

Q. What did you see in this garden?
A. The tree of seduction and a river that irrigated it.

Q. What does this tree signify?
A. It is the tree of science, of good and of evil. It also signifies the loss of our first innocence.

Q. What does this river represent?
A. The speed of the passions that inundate the human race, one can only guarantee ourselves from these passions by opposing them with the virtues of the Freemasons.

Q. What does the terrible Brother represent?
A. The exterminating Angel who chased our first fathers from the terrestrial Paradise.

Q. What do death, and the words Adam and Eve signify?
A. This reminds us of our origin, which is, what we have been, what we are and what we will become.

My Brothers and Sisters, help me to close the Lodge of the Apprentice, let us remember what we have promised, working constantly to advance in virtue, let us listen to every good opinion that we are given, and especially, let us know how to keep quiet about the benefits which we enjoy.

The Venerable says, “is there something to be proposed for the good of the Lodge?” After the response, the Venerable says, “what time does the Lodge of the Apprentice close?”
The Inspectress says, “at seven o’clock”.

The Venerable says, “what time is it?”
The Inspectress says, “seven o’clock precisely “.

Venerable says, “since it is seven o’clock precisely, announce to the Brothers and Sisters that the Lodge of the Apprentice will close”.
The Inspectress announces it.

The Venerable knocks five strikes of his mallet in the ordinary manner.
The Inspectress responds; all Brothers and Sisters make the sign and bow in the Lodge … and applaud with exclamations and crying five times “long live. . . . .”

 
End of the Lodge of the Female Apprentice.

-Paraphrase from THE COMPLETE FOUR DEGREES OF THE ORDER OF ADOPTION,
OR WOMEN’S MASONRY
(1772) by Basset,
available in Ch. 8 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

2A Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Apprentice (1789)

…Remember that among true Masons
Riches and pride, are only illusions.
Children of the same God, all mortals are Brothers.
Vice alone is low, virtue gives rank,
And the most just man is also the greatest.

Q. My Brother, where do you come from?
A. Most Venerable, I come from the Lodge of St. John.

Q. What is done at the Lodge of St. John?
A. Temples are raised to virtue, and vaults are dug for vices.

Q. What do you bring?
A. Greetings, prosperity, and a warm welcome to all the Brothers.

Q. What do you come here to do?
A. To Vanquish my passions, submit my willpower, and to make new progress in Masonry.

Q. What do you understand Masonry to be?
A. I understand it to be the study of the sciences and the practice of the virtues.

Q. Tell me what a Mason is?
A. He is a free man, faithful to the law, the brother and friend of Kings and Shepherds alike, as long as they are virtuous.

Q. How would I recognize that you are Mason?
A. By my signs, my marks and the circumstances of my faithfully given reception.

Q. What are the signs of Masons?
A. The square, level and the perpendicular.

Q. What are the marks?
A. Certain regular grips that are given between Brothers.

Q. Who gave you the advantage of being a Mason?
A. A wise friend that I was able to recognize as my Brother.

Q. Why did you want to be received as a Mason?
A. Because I was in darkness and I desired to know the light.

Q. What does this light signify?
A. The knowledge and the assembly of all the virtues, the symbol of the great Architect of the Universe.

Q. Where were you received as a Mason?
A. In a perfect lodge.

Q. What do you understand a perfect Lodge to be?
A. I understand that three Masons assembled form a simple Lodge, that five render it just, and that seven the render it perfect.

Q. Who are the three Masons of the simple lodge?
A. A Venerable and two Surveyors.

Q. Who are the five of the just lodge?
A. These are the three first and two Masters.

Q. Finally, who are the seven which make a perfect Lodge?
A. A Venerable, two Surveyors, two Masters, a Companion, and an Apprentice.

Q. Who has prepared you to be received as a Mason?
A. An Expert Brother, Most Venerable.

Q. What did he require from you?
A. That I teach him of my age, of my civil qualities, of my Religion and of my zeal to be received; after which he put me neither naked nor clothed, but however in a decent manner; and devoid me of all metals, he directed me to the door of the Lodge, upon which he loudly struck three knocks.

Q. Why did the Expert put you neither naked nor clothed?
A. In order to prove to me that luxury is a vice which is only imposed on the vulgar; and that the man who wants to be virtuous must put himself above prejudices.

Q. Why did he devoid you of all metals?
A. Because they are the symbol of vices, and because a good Mason should hold nothing of his own.

Q. What do the three knocks of the Expert mean?
A. Three words of the Holy Scripture: Knock, it will open unto you: seek, you will find: ask, you will receive.

Q. What did it produce for you?
A. The opening of the Lodge.

Q. When it was opened, what did the Expert do to you?
A. He put me in the hands of the second Surveyor.

Q. What did you perceive while entering into the Lodge?
A. Nothing that the human mind can comprehend, a thick veil covered my eyes.

Q. Why did you have a blind-fold over the eyes?
A. For me to understand how ignorance is detrimental to the happiness of men.

Q. What did the second Surveyor do to you?
A. He made me journey three times from the West to the East by the road of the North; and from the East to the West, by the road of the South; then he put me back in the position of the first Surveyor.

Q. Why were you made to journey?
A. In order to make me know that it is never on the first step that one attains virtue.

Q. What were you looking for on your route ?
A. I sought the light, of which I have already given you the explanation.

Q. What did the first Surveyor make you do?
A. After having removed my blindfold, by the order that he received, he made me put my feet into a square, and he made me reach the Venerable with three large steps.

Q. What did you see, when your eyes were uncovered?
A. All the brothers armed with swords pointed at me.

Q. Why?
A. To show me that they will always be ready to pour their blood for me, if I am loyal to the obligation that I have contracted, also to punish me if I am despicable enough to fail in it.

Q. Why did he put your feet into a square, and make you take three large steps?
A. In order for me to know the way that I must follow and how the Apprentices of our Order must walk.

Q. What do these steps mean?
A. The zeal that we must show in walking towards the one who illuminates us.

Q. What did the Venerable do with you?
A. As he was certain of my feelings, after having obtained the consent of the Lodge, he received me as an Apprentice Mason with all the formalities required.

Q. What were these formalities?
A. I had the left shoe in a slipper, the right knee bare on the square, the right hand on the Gospel, and in the left hand I held a half-opened compass upon the left breast which was bare.

Q. What were you doing in this position?
A. I contracted the obligation to forever keep the secrets of the Masons and of Masonry.

Q. Do you remember this obligation well?
A. Yes, most Venerable.

Q. Why did you have the knee bare and a slipper on?
A. To teach me that a Mason must be humble.

Q. Why was a compass put on the bare left breast?
A. To show me that the heart of a Mason must be just and always open.

Q. What were you given when you were received as a Mason?
A. A sign, a grip and two words.

Q. Give me the sign?
(For the Answer, it is done.)

Q. What do you call it?
A. Guttural.

Q. What does it signify?
A. A part of my obligation, that I should prefer to have the throat cut, rather than reveal the secrets of the Masons to the profane.

Q. Give the grip to the second Brother?
(It is given, and when he finds it correct, the Surveyor says:)
A. It is just, most Venerable.

Q. Tell me the sacred word of the Apprentices?
A. Most Venerable, I am only allowed to spell out it, tell me the first letter, I will say the second.
(It is spelled alternately.)

Q. What does this word signify?
A. That wisdom is in God. It is the name of the column that was to the North, next to the door of the Temple where the Apprentices assemble themselves.

Q. What is your password?
A. Tubalcain, which means mundane possession. This is the name of the son of Lamech, the first to possess the art of working metals.

Q. Was Nothing more given to you when receiving you as a Mason?
A. They gave me a white apron and the gloves of a man and of a woman of the same color.

Q. What does the apron mean?
A. It is the symbol of the work; its whiteness shows us the candor of our customs, and the equality which must prevail between us.

Q. Why have you been given white gloves?
A. To teach me that a Mason must never dip his hands in iniquity.

Q. “Why have you been given women’s gloves?”
A. “To show the Recipient that he must esteem and cherish his wife and that he cannot forget her for even a moment without being unjust.”

Q. What did you see when you were received as a Mason?
A. Three great lights placed in the form of a square, one to the East, the other to the West, and the third to the South.

Q. Why were there none in the North?
A. This is because the Sun faintly illuminates this part.

Q. What do these three lights signify?
A. The Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge.

Q. Why are they indicated?
A. Because the Sun illuminates the Workers during the day, the Moon illuminates them at night, and the Venerable illuminates them at any time in his Lodge.

Q. Where is the Venerable in the Lodge?
A. In the East.

Q. Why?
A. Due to the example of the Sun, which appears in the East to begin the day, the Venerable takes this position to open the Lodge, helping Workers with his advice and illuminating them with his lights.

Q. And where were the Surveyors placed?
A. In the West.

Q. Why?
A. Since the Sun ends the day in the West, the Surveyors take this position in order to close the Lodge, to send the workers off happy, and to warmly greet the Visiting Brothers.

Q. Where were you placed after your reception?
A. In the North.

Q. Why?
A. Because it is the least illuminated part, and because an Apprentice, who has received only a small light, is not in a condition to withstand a greater day.

Q. What is the Apprentices’ work?
A. To polish and smooth the brute stone.

Q. Where are they paid?
A. At the J column.

Q. What are the greatest duties of a Mason?
A. They are to fulfill those duties of the state where Providence has placed them, to flee vice and to practice virtue.

HERE are absolutely all the questions for the Catechism of the Apprentices: and when they were made for a Brother who arrives after the opening of the lodge, the venerable says to him:

Q. My brother, what do you ask?
A. Most Venerable, I ask to be admitted into your august works.

The Venerable: “Take your place, my dear Brother, your lights and your virtues give you the right.”

But when these same questions have been made after the Receptions in order to instruct the new Initiates, and it is time to close the Lodge, the Venerable then asks the following two questions, instead of the two which were just read.

Q. What time is it?
A. Midnight.

Q. How old are you?
A. Three years old.

The Venerable: In virtue of the time and the age, notify all our dear Brothers, in the South side, as well as the North side, that we will close this Lodge, by concluding our work in the customary manner.

The two Surveyors obey, each at their column; then all the assembly, imitating the Venerable, make the sign of the Apprentice and the cheer ; after which the Venerable says: “My brothers, the lodge is closed.”

The two Surveyors repeat his final words.

 
End of the first Degree.

-Paraphrase from PRECIOUS COLLECT OF ADONHIRAMITE MASONRY (1789) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 9 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

2B Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Female Apprentice (1787)

“It is the Venerable Master who questions; he only needs to address the two Inspectress and Depositary Sisters, but regardless, because both of them must be equally instructed in these matters.

Q. Are you an Apprentice?
A. I believe I am.

Q. If you believe it, why do you not say yes?
A. This is because Masonry is an assembly of all the virtues, there is no good Mason nor Masonne who claims that they are perfect, and especially an Apprentice of whom the feelings are not yet certain.

Q. How were you received?
A. By five knocks.

Q. Where were you received?
A. In a place inaccessible to the profane.

Q. What did you see?
A. Nothing that I was able to comprehend.

Q. Are you content with your lot?
A. All my Brothers and Sisters can judge that.

Q. How so?
A. By my willingness to be received, given by their votes.

Q. Do you Promise to keep a profound silence upon all the secrets of Masonry?
A. That which I keep is a sure guarantee.

Q. Give me the sign of the Apprentice?
A. I obey, you comprehend me.

Q. What is the word?
A. Feix-Feax.

Q. What do these two words mean?
A. Academy or School of virtue.

Q. What is this School?
A. Masonry.

Q. How have you reached it?
A. Through a helpful Brother, who became my guide, who has delivered me to the door of the Temple of virtues, from which the brightness has dispelled the darkness which had enveloped me, as a profane person.

Q. Did you enter into the Temple?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, through an arch of iron and steel.

Q. What does this arch signify?
A. It signifies something like the sturdiness of an arch depends on the junction and connection of the stones, which all lead to a central point, in the same way each Member of our Order must aspire to honor, the essential point which is our strength/force, and we should join in this righteous and sincere friendship which characterizes real Masons.

Q. Why is this arch made of iron and steel?
A. In order to warn us that we must flee the criminal pleasures of the iron age, if we want to enjoy the innocent delights of the golden age.

Q. Why is a Profane person deprived from light at their reception?
A. In order to make them comprehend how similar their blind reasoning is regarding Masonry.

Q. What are the duties of a Female Apprentice?
A. To obey, to work and to keep quiet.

 
The Venerable adds: “We have obeyed, worked, and we keep quiet; this is why we will close this Lodge, in doing our office by five.”

 
All the Brothers and Sisters applaud; then the Venerable says:

“The Lodge is closed, my Brothers”.

The two Officers repeat his final words.

 
End of the first Degree.

-Paraphrase from MANUAL OF FRENCH MASONNES OR THE TRUE MASONRY OF ADOPTION (1787) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 9 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

 

3A Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Apprentice (1854)

“INSTRUCTION OF THE FIRST MASONIC DEGREE.

The Venerable says: “My Brethren. Masonry is a science in a mysterious language, the sanctuary of which is difficult to open. It has placed its Temple in the middle of the desert, so that no profane person is able to reach it without having been prepared by long journeys. One must have more than just zeal in order to penetrate into it, one must first of all have a firm will in order to find the path and a sustaining courage in order to follow it until its end . . . . . ”

Q. What is Masonry?
A. It is a cult [or system of worship] which taught the first men to render homage to Divinity.

[NOTE: The French term culte does not translate exactly into English as ‘cult’, but means also “a system of religious rituals; worship, religion, collection of beliefs concerning the origin of man and the universe”. So this phrase is not exactly saying “Masonry is a cult”, but rather “Masonry is a system of worship” or “Masonry is a system of religious rituals”, etc.]

 
Q. What is the first principle of Free-Masons?
A. It is to believe in God and to adore him.

Q. What is its first study ?
A. That one must attach oneself to distinguishing the sacred from the profane, and to distinguishing the light from the darkness.

Q. Does God exist?
A. Yes, and his existence does not have any time period ; he is unique, his unity is an infinite mystery; none other can be compared to him; he has no corporeal form, and nothing equals his holiness; he has preceded creation; he is the first of the beings, and his origin has no beginning; master of the universe, he shows to each creature his grandeur and his reign; he has spread his glory and his law among men.

Q. Is the existence of evil a real fact?
A. Yes; by denying its existence, one closes the eyes to the light, it is to elevate the false and the lie upon the ruins of the truth; to attribute it to the consequences of sin is to know the wisdom and the mercy of the supreme Arbitrator. Evil, like good, enters into universal harmony; it is equally, to the same degree, indispensable to the development of the faculties of creation.

Q. Are you a Mason?
A. All the Brethren recognize me as such.

Q. What is a Mason?
A. A man who is free and of good customs, equally a friend of the poor and of the rich if they are virtuous.

Q. What are the dispositions necessary in order to become a Mason?
A. First, it is the purity of the heart; second, the absolute submission to the formalities prescribed for reception.

Q. What do you understand by the word “Mason”?
A. When the ancient poets spoke about the foundation of a city, they understood it as the establishment of a doctrine. Thus, a Mason is he who completes (through his intelligent understanding ) the formation of a doctrine which has material power as its foundation; it is thus that Neptune (god of reasoning) and Apollo (god of hidden things) presented themselves to Laomedon as Masons, in order to help construct the city of Troy, that is to say that this refers to forming the great religion of troy.

Q. What is the goal of our works?
A. The Masonic works are completely consecrated to the greatest glory of the Sublime Architect of the worlds.
All the human virtues are agreeable to God; it is thus to serve him, to glorify him as well as to teach, develop and practice those virtues which he has put in us. The constant goal of our efforts must be the well-being of humanity, since the benefits of our morality must belong not just to all us Masons; but also to all the sons of God, to all the men who are our Brethren, it is up to us to call them, to invite them to do good through our words and our examples.

Q. What is our principle duty?
A. It is to attack and to destroy (through all the power which is given to us) the ignorance, misery, and depravity among men, and to thereby bring the reign of God to the earth.

Q. What are the means that we should employ?
A. Our means of realization are in the research of the great principles which direct man upon this vast ladder where the Most High has placed him.
The Free-Masons take the commitment to vow a great part of their existence and of their activity to the study of man and the things which surround him; this study must be carried out with zeal by every Brother who comprehends his mission.

Q. What idea do you have of Masonry?
A. We believe that the deposit of all the truths useful for men was found in the ancient and holy Masonry.

Q. Masons are then destined to perfect the method of teaching the Masonic doctrine by putting it in harmony with the progress of the science and the needs of humanity?
A. Yes, most Venerable.

Q. What were the formalities used in your reception?
A. I was first presented by a virtuous friend whom I have since recognized as a Brother; then I was conducted by some unknown persons into a room adjacent to the Lodge, where, after having demanded if my intentions were actually to be received as a Mason, I was enclosed in a secret place.

Q. What did this place represent?
A. The center of the earth and the residence of death, so as to teach me that everything comes from the earth and must return to it; that man must constantly be ready to appear before the supreme Being; that the profane person who wants to be received as a Mason must, before everything else, die to vice, so as to no longer live except for virtue.

Q. What did you do in this place?
A. My profession of faith.

Q. In what state were you put?
A. A blindfold covered my eyes, and I was deprived of all metal, except for a heavy chain that overwhelmed me.

Q. Why were your eyes covered?
A. In order to indicate the darkness of ignorance.

Q. Why were you deprived of all metals and why were you given a heavy chain?
A. The metals are the emblem of vices, I was taught thereby that one should renounce them in order to become a Mason. (In order to sacrifice to the Sun, the egyptian Priests deposited their rings and their gold and silver ornaments.) The chain was the symbol of the prejudices which I should strip myself of, like I did with my chain at the first point of my purification.

Q. What was done to you in this state?
A. I was made to undertake a long and painful journey.

Q. What did this journey signify?
A. In addition to its actual meaning (namely: my purification and my preparation to receive the important secrets which were to be confided in me), it also offered a moral significance, and represented all the vicissitudes of human life, from birth until death; it had, in addition, a mysterious meaning: it represented the image of nature, and gave the key of all the secrets of the high sciences to the sages.

Q. Where did this first journey lead you?
A. To a healthy pool, from which I emerged free from the restraints which oppressed me.
Then a friend explained to me a part of the truths which are hidden in the emblems of this first journey.

Q. What happened to you then?
A. After being assured that I was going to persist in my resolution to become a mason, this Brother led me further on my route.

Q. What obstacles did you encounter?
A. A burning brazier was found before me: and I was obliged to cross it.

Q. What does this fire signify?
A. The violence of the passions, and the rashness of youth, which are great obstacles to the moral perfection of man.

Q. What happened to you after you had passed this third element?
A. A Brother offered me a bitter drink, emblem of the sorrows and of the revulsions that man experiences in this life, and that the sage endures without complaining; then he invited me to continue on my route.

Q. What did you experience in this third journey?
A. I was placed in the region of air; thunder, hail and all sorts of meteors were unleashed around me, and at the end of this frightful tempest followed the greatest calm.

Q. What does this tempest signify?
A. It depicts the confusion that man experiences in mature age, and which lasts until the end of his career.

Q. What did you do then?
A. My guide let me continue on my path, and I found myself at the door of the temple.

Q. What did you find there?
A. Two Brothers who stopped me, and who, after having been assured that I had passed through the elements, explained to me the obligations that I should contract; after which, they made me strike 3 knocks.

Q. What do the 3 knocks signify?
A. Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Q. What happened to you afterwards?
A. The Venerable addressed me asking diverse question to which I responded; after that, at the counsel of all the Brethren, he conducted me to the altar, so that I could take my oath.

Q. How were you while taking that oath?
A. Standing up, upon the third step of the altar, with the right hand on the book of the law and on the sword, the symbol of honor, and the left hand holding the point of a compass upon the heart.

Q. What did the Venerable do then?
A. He granted me the light.

Q. What did you see at that moment?
A. The three sublime lights of Masonry: the Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge.

Q. What relation is there between these two stars and the Master of the Lodge?
A. Just as the Sun presides over the day and the Moon over the night, the Master presides over the Lodge in order to illuminate it. The Sun illumines the universe, we should imitate this beneficent star! The Moon softens the darkness that the veils of the night cast upon the earth; it announces that there is no shadow dense enough to hide a crime from the eye of the Sublime Architect of the worlds.

Q. What did you see next?
A. Three precious objects, emblem of our duties.

Q. What are these objects?
A. The book of the law, which contains our works towards God; a trunk destined to receive the gifts which we owe to our Brothers, and a sword, symbol of honor.

Q. What did the Master of the Lodge do next?
A. He had me advance towards the East and had me reiterate my obligation, after which he gave me the sign, the word and the grip of an Apprentice Mason.

Q. Give me the sign.
A. (It is given.)

Q. What does this sign signify?
A. That I prefer to have my throat cut rather than reveal the secrets of Masonry; it also reminds me that I have promised to love my brethren, to assist them, to help them, to give the example of obedience to the laws of my country and to practice the virtues, and of constantly working to perfect my being and to conquer my passions; it is called guttural.

Q. Give the grip to the Expert Brother.
The Expert Brother receives it, and says: “It is just, most Venerable.”

Q. What does this grip signify?
A. It signifies the three words of the Gospel: “Seek and you shall find; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you; Ask, and you shall receive.”

Q. What does the compass signify?
A. The exactitude and uprightness of our customs.

Q. What does the square signify?
A. It serves to measure the justness of our actions.

Q. What does the level signify?
A. It indicates that all men are equal.

Q. What does the perpendicular or plumb-rule signify?
A. That the stability of the Order is elevated through all the virtues.

Q. What does the trowel signify?
A. That we should hide the faults of our Brethren.

Q. What does the brute stone signify?
A. It is the emblem of the soul, susceptible to good or bad impressions.

Q. What does the apron signify?
A. It is the symbol of the work: it indicates to us that we must constantly work in order to conquer our passions and contribute to the general good of humanity.

Q. What does the jagged interwoven tassel signify?
A. It designates the union which should exist among the Brethren.

Q. Give me the word.
A. I did not learn it thus; Venerable, give me the first letter, and I will give you the second. (It is given.)

Q. What does this word signify?
A. Strength/Force.

Q. What did the Venerable do next?
A. He clothed me in a white tunic, emblem of purity and of the duties of my new life; he gave me some white gloves, symbol of candor, while recommending to me that I never soil their purity; finally, he gave me an apron, symbol of the work, and made me known to the Expert Brother; after which he proclaimed me as an Apprentice Mason of the masonic Order of Memphis, Oriental rite.

Q. What was this Memphis?
A. A city in Egypt.

Q. What relation is there between Masonry and Egypt?
A. Masonry (that is to say the knowledge of the truths of nature and of its laws) was preserved in Egypt by sages who hid this knowledge from the vulgar by enveloping it in ingenious emblems; it was thus that it was perpetuated, and was taken from the banks of the Nile to every country in the world, where it has more or less lost its original character and its primitive goal which was transmitted to us by the first masons under the name of mysteries or initiation.

Q. Which is the most ancient masonic rite?
A. The rite of Memphis, since it is the only trustee of high grade Masonry, the true primitive rite, the rite par excellence, the one which has come down to us without any alteration and consequently the only one which can justify its origin, and in exercising itself, constant in its rights, through the constitutions of which it is impossible to doubt the authenticity: the rite of Memphis or oriental rite is the true masonic tree, and all other systems, whatever they may be, are only the detached branches of this ancient institution so highly respected, which had its birth in Egypt.

Q. What composes a Lodge?
A. Three govern it, five compose it, and seven render it just and perfect.

Q. What are these three?
A. The Venerable and the Surveyors.

Q. Why do you say that three govern it?
A. Because man is composed of body, spirit, and soul, which is the intermediary or the link that unites the other two.

Q. Why do five compose it?
A. Because man is given five senses of which three are necessarily essential to Masons, being: sight, to see the sign; hearing, to hear the word; and touch, to appreciate the grip; otherwise, they represent the five lights of the Lodge.

Q. Finally, why do seven make it just and perfect?
A. Because there are seven principal officers in a Lodge and because this number contains in itself great and sublime mysteries. It reminds one of the 7 days that the Sublime Architect employed in creating the universe, {represented figuratively by the 7 years it took for the construction of the temple. It indicates} the 7 celestial spheres which correspond to the 7 days of the week, the 7 primitive colors and the 7 harmonic tones.
The number 7, in fact, seems to reconnect to all the systems and belongs to all the sects. . . . . Every body that acts is composed of three measures: length, width, and height, and of four extremities, which are the point, the line, the plane and the solid: here are the seven qualities which are the perfection of all bodies, and this perfection is well justified by the virtues; finally, the properties of the number are such that the ancients claimed that it ruled the universe.

Q. What form does your Lodge have?
A. A long square.

Q. In what sense is its length?
A. From the rising to the setting.

Q. Its width?
A. From south to the north

Q. Its height?
A. From the earth to the two.

Q. Its depth?
A. From the surface of the earth to the center.

Q. Why these dimensions?
A. Because Masonry is universal.

Q. Why is it situated from the rising to the setting?
A. Because Masonry has come to us from the East.

Q. What do you understand, then, as the Lodge?
A. The world: the universe only forms but a single Lodge, and the Masons who reunite in the Lodge are only portions of the universal Lodge: thus every Mason (in whatever Lodge he attends) is always present at his Lodge, since Masonry is one (despite its different rites), just as the human race is one (despite its diversity of tongues).
The altar of tolerance should be erected in the Temple of Wisdom; we are united by the same thought; we march towards the same goal; all Masons must give and receive the kiss of peace and form the indissoluble bond which philosophy has woven.

Q. What is it that supports your Lodge?
A. Three great pillars, which are called Wisdom, Strength/Force and Beauty.

Q. Who represents Wisdom?
A. The Master of the Lodge, who occupies the east because from there he directs the workmen and maintains harmony in the Lodge.

Q. Who represents Strength/Force?
A. The 1st Surveyor, in the west.

Q. Who represents Beauty?
A. The 2nd Surveyor, in the north.

Q. Why do you call them Strength/Force and Beauty?
A. Because Strength/Force and Beauty are the perfection of everything. Wisdom invents, while Strength/Force and Beauty sustain.

Q. How is your Lodge covered?
A. By a celestial vault, decorated with stars, and where two great lights shine which dissipate the clouds from afar.

Q. Does there exist in Free-Masonry a secret, independent from its formulas and signs?
A. The ancient mysteries were not only a theoretical and practical course of moral and religious philosophy, but also an institution designated to perpetuate the first traditions of the human race. Every initiate, upon the completion of his initiation, will know the high Wisdom that I will call virtue. He will enjoy supreme happiness, since the knowledge of the great work of nature inspires in man a sentiment of reason which raises him above his fellow beings. . . . Here is what the goal of the great mysteries was among the ancients; and such is still the goal of Free-Masonry in our times.
The real goal of the principles of Masonry, written in Chaldean, are preserved in the sacred ark of the rite of Memphis, or Oriental rite, and in part in the Grand Lodge of Scotland, in Edinburgh, and in the caves of the convent of the Maronites, on mount Lebanon.
The moral goal is not the direct goal of Masonry; the Scottish order of Saint-Andrew, and the knights of Palestine alone knew the secret, but the secret of Masonry is by its nature incorruptible, since the Mason who knows it will certainly guard it for himself, and will not communicate it even to those of his brethren in whom he has complete confidence; since as soon as such brethren have not been able to obtain this knowledge for themselves, they would be incapable of appreciating it, even if it were given orally: our goal has never been to deliver the secret of the sacred doctrine to the public; we know it, and it has traversed the ages without having to submit itself to the slightest alteration; it exists today just as it was, when (enclosed in the mysterious temples of Thebes and Eleusis) it excited the veneration of the whole world.
While the vulgar Mason, satisfied with a mysterious appearance, is content to know how to pronounce words of which he ignores the meaning, and to repeat some signs which are inexact, the philosophical observer searches in the past centuries, returning to the first causes, for the real goal of our institutions; if some success has crowned his arduous efforts, if the lamp of study has been able to guide his steps in the obscure labyrinth of the ancient mysteries, and eager for instruction, he comes knocking at the doors of our temples, then it is among the successors of the sages of Memphis that he will come to seek new knowledge.

Q. How is it that Masonry (which in primitive times only included 3 symbolic degrees) nowadays counts 90 degrees of science in certain rites?
A. It is true that Masonry was understood in the 3 symbolic degrees; but, in the actual state of our customs, it is impossible for the Lodges to be constituted in such a way that all its members, without exception, should have the complete knowledge of masonic secrets, but rather they should be revealed in the degree of Master. For this it would be necessary to re-establish the novitiate; putting (for the passage from one degree and another) the same delay and the same precautions as in the ancient mysteries.
The present social conditions are opposed to this regular progress and unique rational: Masonry has therefore had to find refuge in the higher degrees.

Q. How is it that the majority of Masons regard saint John as the patron saint of the Order and celebrate his feast?
A. This is an error. “John” and “Lamb” both equally signify gentle, and are a symbol of the sun entering the sign of Aries, and of the gentle warmth which emerges in the air. John, accompanied by a lamb, announces the resurrection of nature, and of the sun.

Q. What is your age as an Apprentice Mason?
A. Three years old.

Q. Why three years old?
A. This is the time that the initiates of Egypt spent in their novitiate, at the expiration of which they were initiated into the 1st degree.

After the instruction, the Venerable strikes one knock and says:
“Brothers 1st and 2nd Surveyors, announce to your respective columns that if any Brethren have any propositions to make for the good of the Order in general, or this Lodge in particular, then they have my permission to speak.”

The Surveyors repeat the announcement.

Then, the Brother Secretary reads an outline of the work of the day.

The Venerable has such work applauded, and then proceeds to suspend the work.

-Paraphrase from THE MYSTIC TEMPLE MAGAZINE OF FREE-MASONRY (1854) by Marconis de Nègre,
available in Ch. 10 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

 

3B Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Female Apprentice (1854)

“The Female Apprentice Catechism for the Memphis Rite has been omitted since it is virtually identical to the Adonhiramite version.”

-From Ch. 10 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism

 

 

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