The Kabbalistic & Alchemical Symbolism of the Old French Master (3°)


3A French Rite: Catechism of the Masters (1744)

“Question. Are you a Master?
Answer. Examine me, then approve me, or disprove me, if you can.
Instead of this answer one says, if one wants, these six words. “The Acacia is known to me”.

Q. Where were you received as a Master?
A. In a Master’s Lodge just and perfect.

Q. How many should there be in order to compose such a Lodge?
A. Seven, namely, a very respectable Master, two Venerable Surveyors, two Masters, and two Apprentice-Companions.

Q. How have you passed to Mastery?
A. From the Square to the Compass.

Q. No doubt you were received Apprentice and Companion?
A. JAKIN and BOAZ are known to me.

Q. And the rule of three is also known to you?
A. I understand it, and the key of all the Lodges is at my command.

Q. What have you seen upon entering the Lodge?
A. Sorrow and light.

Q. If one of your Brothers were lost, where would you find him?
A. Between the Square and the Compass.

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

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

Q. Have you received wages?
A. Yes, most Respectable.

Q. Where did you receive them?
A. In the middle Room.

Q. Where did you achieve that?
A. A staircase made in the shape of a screw which mounts in three, five, and seven.

Q. Why?
A. Because three Masons govern a Lodge, five form it, seven make it just and perfect.

Q. Who was opposed to your entry into the middle Room?
A. A first Surveyor.

Q. What did he require of you?
A. A sign, a word, and a grip.

Q. When you were in the middle Room, what did you see?
A. A great Light in which I believed I perceived the letter G.

Q. What does the letter G signify?
A. GOT or greater than you, very respectable.

Q. Who can be greater than me, since I am a free Mason, and Master of a Lodge so well composed?
A. It signifies the name of God in Hebrew.

Q. Give me the perfect point of your entrance?
A. Give me the first, I will give you the second.

Q. I keep?
A. I hide.

Q. What are you hiding?
A. The secret of the Masons and of Masonry.

Q. Where do you keep this secret?
A. In the heart.

Q. Is there a key in order to enter it?
A. Yes, most respectable.

Q. Where do you keep this key?
A. In a Coral Box, in the form of an Ark, which only opens and only closes with other ivory keys.

Q. What Metal is that of the heart?
A. None, it is a language customary to good connections, which only knows how to say good in the absence (as well as in the presence) of those of whom it speaks.

Q. What do you come here to do?
A. To find what has been lost.

Q. What was lost?
A. The word of the Master.

Q. How was it lost?
A. By three great strikes, and by the death of Adoniram.

Q. How was our very Respectable Master Adoniram assassinated?
A. By three Companions, who plotted to tear from him the word of the Master, or his life.

Q. How does one recognize the area where these Scoundrels buried him after having murdered him?
A. By an Acacia branch, which they themselves put upon his Tomb.

Q. How was the Master’s word recovered?
A. The nine Masters employed to search for Adoniram agreed together (in fear that the Master’s word had transpired) that the first word they pronounced in exhuming him, would be the future Master’s word.

Q. Give me the sign of the Master.
One makes the sign of the Master.

Q. Give me the grip.
One gives the grip.

Q. Give me the word in the ear?
A. I will spell it with you. Tell me the first letter, I will tell you the second.
Q. M.
A. A.
Q. K.
A. B.
Q. E.
A. N.
Q. A.
A. K.

Q. What is the password of the Masters?

Q. What was done with the body of our respectable Master Adoniram?
A. Solomon had him buried in the Sanctuary of the Temple in order to reward his zeal and his talents.

Q. What did he put on his tomb?
A. A Gold Medallion, made in the shape of a triangle, where was engraved JEHOVAH, the ancient Master’s word, which is the name of God in Hebrew.

Q. Have you worked?
A. Yes, Venerable Master

Q. Where have you worked?
A. In the middle Room.

Q. What are you working with?
A. With the Chalk, Coal, and an Earthen or Clay Vessel.

Q. What does Chalk signify?
A. Zeal.

Q. What does Coal signify?
A. Fervor.

Q. What does the Earthen or Clay Vessel signify?
A. Constancy.

Q. How old are you?
A. Seven years and more.

End of the Catechism of the Masters.

-Paraphrase from Ch. 7 of CATECHISM OF THE FREE-MASONS (1744) by Louis Travenol,
available in Ch. 14 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


3B French Rite: Catechism of the Female Master (1772)

“Q. Are you a Female Master Masonne?
A. I know how to climb the ladder.

Q. What do the five rungs represent?
A. Wisdom, prudence, candor, charity and virtue, which are the foundations of Masonry.

Q. What does this ladder signify?
A. The communication that there is from heaven to earth through the practice of the virtues.

Q. What are these virtues?
A. The three christian virtues and the four moral virtues.

Q. What are the christian virtues?
A. Hope, faith and charity.

Q. What are the moral virtues?
A. Justice towards one’s neighbor, strength or persuasion in order to support oneself against the evils which happen, prudence in order to guide our actions, and temperance in order to curb the passions that dominate us.

Q. Where is the foundation of this ladder placed?
A. Upon the earth, which is the footstool of the Creator.

Q. Upon what is this summit resting ?
A. Upon the right of the Lord, abode of bliss.

Q. When you had climbed the ladder, what did you do?
A. I renewed my engagements: after that they directed me to work.

Q. What has your work produced?
A. A pure and faithful heart, upright and wise.

Q. What reward did you receive?
A. The trowel of the Order.

Q. What is it used for?
A. To delve into the interior of our consciousness, in order to discover and expel unregulated appetites in it.

Q. How do I know that you are a Female Master?
A. By my word, sign and grip.

Q. Give me the word?
( it is given )

Q. What does it signify?
A. The bright light of the truth unseals my eyes.

Q. Give me the sign?
( it is given )

Q. What does the sign signify?
A. That everything which strikes our eyes must serve to make us know the greatness of the Supreme Being.

Q. Give me the grip?
( It is given )

Q. What is the grip used for?
A. To make us know and renew the treaty of union and of peace among us.

Q. What does the tablet or tracing board of the Lodge represent?
A. The rainbow, Noah’s ark, the sacrifice of Abraham, the tower of Babel, the burning of Sodom, the sleep of Jacob, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt, the sun, the moon, the eleven stars and the four parts of the world.

Q. What does the rainbow represent?
A. God’s covenant with Noah and his family, represented by the five primary colors of which the rainbow is composed.

Q. What does the sacrifice of Abraham represent?
A. Our obedience and resignation to the will of God.

Q. What does the tower of Babel represent?
A. The pride & the weakness of men.

Q. What do you oppose that pride with?
A. The character of a true Masonne.

Q. Who was the inventor of that tower?
A. The cruel Nimrod, who wished to be equal to God.

Q. What was the foundation of this tower?
A. Folly and pride.

Q. What were the stones used to build it?
A. The unregulated passions.

Q. What was the cement used to build it?
A. Discord.

Q. To what height did it rise?
A. It rose until God confused the language of the workers.

Q. What became of it?
A. It became the den of wild beasts and vile insects.

Q. What does this event teach us?
A. That man without Religion is only weakness and nothingness, and that without the union and intelligent understanding of souls, the harmony of society will not survive.

Q. What does the burning of Sodom represent?
A. The celestial vengeance due to crime.

Q. What does the sleep of Jacob represent?
A. The peace and tranquility that must reign in Lodges.

Q. What does Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt represent?
A. That our curiosity must never seek to penetrate the mysteries which are hidden from us.

Q. What do the sun and the moon represent?
A. The father and the mother of Joseph who rendered justice to this good Mason.

Q. What do the eleven stars represent?
A. The eleven brothers of Joseph, who threw him into a pit, and who (through his gentleness and his mercifulness towards them) taught Masons that they must return good for evil.

Q. What do the four parts of the world expressed by these four letters, E.W.N.S. represent?
A. That we must always be ready to help our Brothers and our Sisters, no matter how far they are from us.

Q. Who was the founder of the ark?
A. Noah, who constructed it by order of God, in order to preserve himself and his family from the universal flood.

Q. How much time did it take him to construct it?
A. A hundred years, which is the same time that a well composed Lodge should last.

Q. From what wood was it constructed?
A. Cedar, which through its incorruptibility teaches us to never allow ourselves to become corrupt.

Q. How many floors did it have?
A. Four. In the first were the unclean animals; this tells us that we need to trample under foot all impure actions. In the second, the domestic animals. In the third, Noah and his family; which teaches us the virtues of Masonry are like arks which save us if we practice them as he did. In the fourth, birds, which, through the melody of their song, we learn that we must elevate our thoughts towards our sovereign Master.

Q. How was it lit?
A. By a single window placed in the attic.

Q. What was its length?
A. Three hundred cubits.

Q. Its width?
A. Fifty.

Q. Its height?
A. Thirty.

Q. What form did the floor have?
A. Equal and very level, which teaches us that we must always be in the same mood.

Q. With what was it covered?
A. With tar outside, in order to withstand the fury of the waters, and with cement inside, precious sign of friendship and of union which reigns between the Brothers and Sisters.

Q. Where did the ark rest after the flood?
A. On mount Ararat.

Q. Which animal did Noah first bring out from the ark?
A. The crow, who never returned. Representing the Brothers and Sisters, who resemble this animal, when they leave the pure pleasures of Masonry in order to dive into the dirty pleasures of this century.

Q. What was the second?
A. The dove, who returned, carrying a small olive branch, in order to show that the waters had pulled back.
Which represents to us the true Masons and Masonnes who are diligent to find themselves in the Lodge, to listen to the instructions they are given there, and to benefit from them.

Q. What does the glove and the apron signify?
A. The whiteness and purity of the customs of true Masons.

Q. Sister Inspectress, did you pay the Female Apprentices, the Female Companions and the Female Masters?
A. Venerable, everyone is paid.

The Venerable: “since everything is paid, may peace, union and harmony live with us; may the truth enlighten us, may justice accompany us; may all our actions be for the great glory of the Most High; we have listened, obeyed, worked, let us be quiet.”

(1772) by Basset,
available in Ch. 14 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


3C Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Masters (1789)

“Q. My Brother, where do you come from?
A. Most Venerable, I come from the middle room.

Q. What is done in the middle room?
A. The memory of our respectable Master Adonhiram is honored.

Q. How did you reach that place?
A. By a screw-shaped stairway, which climbed by three, five and seven steps.

Q. What do these numbers mean?
A. That it takes three years in order to become an Apprentice, five for a Companion, and seven for a Master.

Q. How were you received there?
A. As all the Masters of our Order are received, by presenting me with a branch of Acacia.

Q. Where were you received as a Master?
A. In a perfect Lodge.

Q. Who are those who compose such a Lodge?
A. Nine, designated by the nine lights, who are a Respectable Master, two Venerable Surveyors and six Masters.

Q. How were you received?
A. By passing from the square to the compass at the tomb of our respectable Master Adonhiram.

Q. * What did you see when you entered into the Master’s Lodge?
A. * It was not permitted for me to look, I only heard wailing.

Q. What did you notice after having been received?
A. A great light in which I saw the letter “G”.

Q. What does this Letter signify?
A. Grandeur and glory, and that which every mortal must know, and which is above you.

Q. Who can be above me who am a free Mason, and the Master of a Lodge so well composed?
A. God, since the “G” is the initial letter of the word “God”, which, in many languages signifies the supreme Being.

Q. What was given to you while being received as a Master?
A. The secret of the Masons and of Masonry.

Q. Give me the perfect point of your entrance?
A. Give me the first, I will give you the second.

Q. I keep.
A. I hide.

Q. What are you hiding?
A. All the secrets which have been confided in me.

Q. Where do you hide them?
A. In the heart.

Q. Is there a key in order to enter therein?
A. Yes, Most Respectable.

Q. Where do you keep it?
A. In a coral box, which only opens and closes with keys of ivory.

Q. Of what metal is it made?
A. None. It is a tongue obedient to reason, which only says good in the absence (as in the presence) of those of whom it speaks.

Q. You were, no doubt, an Apprentice and a Companion before you were a Master?
A. Yes, Most Respectable, J. and B. were known to me, as well as the rule of three, which puts the key to all the Lodges at my disposal.

Q. What is this key?
A. The knowledge of the signs, words and grips of the three Degrees which were conferred upon me.

Q. Show them to me.
(The signs of the first two Degrees are done, then one places oneself at the attention of the Master, by saying:)
A. Here it is; you ought to recognize it, it is marked by that which characterizes true Masons.

Q. Yes, my Brother; where have you taken it from?
A. From my left, and I preserve it like something which is very precious to me.

Q. Why is that key so precious to you?
A. Because it has made me know the true light, and in showing it to me, I can assist in the first three works.

Q. Why do you carry it on your left?
A. I mean to say that it accompanies my heart wherein are enclosed the secrets of our Order, and that it reminds me of the attitude in which the body of Adonhiram was found, in which the left arm was extended, and the right arm formed a square, showing the pectoral sign.

Q. What did you come here to do?
A. To seek the Master’s word which was lost.

Q. How was the Master’s word lost?
A. By three great strikes.

Q. What were these three great strikes?
A. They were those which our Respectable Master received when he was assassinated at the door of the Temple, by three scoundrel Companions who wished to tear from him either the Master’s word or his life.

Q. How was it known that it was Companions who had committed this crime?
A. By the roll call which was taken by the Workmen, from which three Companions were not found.

Q. The word having been lost, how was it able to be recovered?
A. The Masters, suspecting the assassination of Adonhiram, and fearing that the strength of the torments might have taken the Master’s word from him, decided among themselves, that the first word which was uttered upon finding him would serve them in the future to recognize each other. It was the same with the sign and the grip.

Q. How many Masters were sent in search of Adonhiram?
A. Nine, designated by the nine lights.

Q. Where was the body of our respectable Master found?
A. In a heap of debris about nine cubic feet deep, upon which had been planted a branch of Acacia.

Q. What purpose did this branch serve?
A. For the traitors to recognize the place where they had hidden the body of Adonhiram, which they proposed to later transport to a place further away.

Q. What was done with the body of our respectable Master?
A. Solomon had it buried in the Sanctuary of the Temple and had placed upon his tomb a triangular gold medallion, upon which was engraved “Jehova”, the ancient word of the Master, and which signifies in Hebrew, ‘the supreme Being’.

Q. What form did this tomb have?
A. It was seven feet long, by five feet wide, by three feet deep.

Q. What then, are the distinctive marks of the Masters?
A. A sign, a grip, two words, and the five perfect points of Mastery.

Q. Give me the sign.
(For the answer it is done).

Q. What do you call it?
A. The sign of horror.

Q. Why?
A. Because it marks the horror with which the Masters were seized when they perceived the body of Adonhiram.

Q. Give the grip to the first Brother.
(One obeys.)

Q. Give him the sacred word?
(It is given as the Order requires.)

Q. What does this word signify?
A. The flesh leaves or comes away from the bones.

Q. What is the password ?
A. “Sublime”, surname given to our Respectable Master.

Q. What are the five perfect points of Mastery?
A. The pedestrian, the inflection of the knees, the clasping of the two right hands, the left arm on the shoulder, and the kiss of peace.

Q. Give me their explanation?
A. [1] The pedestrian sign signifies that we ought always to be ready to walk to the aid of our Brethren. 2. The inflection of the knees, that we should, without ceasing, humiliate ourselves before he who has given us being. 3. The clasping of the two right hands, that we ought to help our Brethren in their needs. 4. The arm which we place upon the shoulder, that we owe them our counsel, dictated by wisdom and charity. 5. Finally, the kiss of peace announces that gentleness and that inalterable union which is the foundation of our Order.

Q. Upon what is the Master’s Lodge sustained?
A. Upon three great triangular pillars, named Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.

Q. Who has named them thus?
A. Solomon, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Adonhiram, Architect of the Temple.

Q. Why is wisdom attributed to Solomon?
A. Because he received this gift from God, and because he was, in fact, the wisest king of his time.

Q. Why is strength attributed to the King of Tyre?
A. Because he furnished Solomon with the wood and materials in order to construct the Temple.

Q. Why is beauty attributed to Adonhiram?
A. Because, as great Architect of the Temple, he designed all the ornaments which must embellish this magnificent monument.

Q. Do the names of these three columns not have any other significance?
A. Yes, Most Venerable. The form of these columns signifies the Divinity in all its expanse; Wisdom symbol of his essence, Strength, his infinite power, and Beauty expresses how the Works of God are perfect and sublime.

Q. What should the qualities of a Mason be?
A. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.

Q. How can these very rare qualities be reunited?
A. Wisdom in his customs, strength in the union with his Brethren, and beauty in his character.

Q. Are there any necessary pieces of furniture in the Master’s Lodge?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, in the number of three, which are, the Gospel, the Compass, and the Mallet.

Q. What is their signification?
A. The Gospel demonstrates the truth; the Compass, justice; and the Mallet (which serves to maintain order) makes us remember that we should be docile to the lessons of wisdom.

Q. Why do the first three Officers make use of the mallet?
A. To let us know, without ceasing, that since matter makes sound when it is struck, and therefore by greater reason man who is made of matter, to whom God has given a heart and the faculty of knowing and judging, he ought to be sensible to the cry of virtue, and render homage to his Creator.

Q. What is the Master called?
A. Gabaoc, which is the name of the place where the Israelites deposited the Ark of the Covenant, in times of trouble.

Q. What does this signify?
A. That the heart of a Mason must be pure enough in order to be a Temple which is acceptable to God.

Q. How does one designate the son of a Mason?
A. Luwton, an English word, which signifies Student of (or Raised in) Architecture.

Q. What is the privilege of a Luwton?
A. It is to be received as a Mason before all others.

Q. Upon what do the Masters work?
A. Upon the Tracing board.

Q. Where do they receive their wages?
A. In the middle Room.

Q. How do the Masters journey?
A. Over the entire surface of the Earth.

Q. Why?
A. To spread the light thereon.

Q. If you lost one of your Brethren, where would you find him?
A. Between the Square and the Compass.

Q. Explain this reply to me?
A. It is because the Square and the Compass are the symbols of Wisdom and of Justice; a good Mason must never stray from them.

Q. What would you do if you were in any danger?
A. I would give the sign of distress, in saying: Unto me, Children of the Widow.

Q. Why do you say “Children of the Widow”?
A. This is because after the death of our respectable Master, the Masons took care of his mother, who was a widow, and so they called themselves the children, Adonhiram having always regarded them as his Brethren.

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

Q. What does this age signify?
A. The time that Solomon took to construct the Temple.

Q. What time is it?
A. High noon.

This Lodge is closed like that of the Companions, only the name and the acclamations are changed.

End of the third Degree.

-Paraphrase from PRECIOUS COLLECT OF ADONHIRAMITE MASONRY (1789) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 15 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


3D Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Female Master (1787)

“Q. Are you a female apprentice?
A. I believe it.

Q. Are you a female companion?
A. I know the forbidden fruit.

Q. If it is true that you are a female companion, then you must also know the ark?
A. Yes, most venerable, I am a female masonne, I have worked in the ark, I know its properties, and I come to the lodge in order to correct myself of the faults of humanity.

Q. Are you a mistress [or female master] ?
A. I know how to climb the ladder.

Q. Who has made you a mistress [or female master] ?
A. Humility, work, zeal and discretion.

Q. Through what test have you passed?
A. Through the test of confusion, by throwing myself to the bottom of the tower of Babel, where blindness had led me.

Q. What does the tower of Babel signify?
A. The pride of the children of the earth, which one can only guarantee oneself by opposing it with the humble and sincere heart of a true mason.

Q. Who forms this presumptuous project?
A. The descendants of Noah, who (being suspicious of Providence which had spared them) imagined making a tower high enough to save themselves from a second flood, believing thereby that they could limit the divine power.

Q. From what material was this tower built?
A. From large bricks cemented with bitumen, a thick and glutinous liquor, which binds more strongly than any other mortar.

Q. What made up the foundation of the tower?
A. Folly.

Q. What do the stones signify?
A. The passions of men.

Q. What does the cement signify?
A. The poison of discord.

Q. What was the form of this tower?
A. A climbing spiral, which symbolizes the publicity and the detours of false hearts and of vain men.

Q. To what point did this monument reach?
A. Until the point at which God sent the confusion of languages to those who were working on it, who then divided themselves into the four parts of the world.

Q. What became of this ridiculous building?
A. It became the lair and the habitation of insects.

Q. What application must masons extract from this event?
A. They learn to respect the promises of the supreme being, to hope in him alone, to never form vain projects of glory and fortune, and to only base their actions upon wisdom and virtue.

Q. What other reflections may be drawn from this event?
A. That the tower of Babel is an example of a badly ordered lodge, where (without the obedience and harmony that must prevail) one falls into disorder and confusion.

Q. What is the symbol of mastery?
A. The trowel.

Q. What do you use it for?
A. For stirring and expressing in my soul the sentiments of honor and of wisdom, as it is the emblem of virtue.

Q. What does a female master masonne carry in front of herself?
A. The representation of Jacob’s ladder.

Q. What does this ladder signify?
A. The different virtues that all good female masonnes must possess.

Q. Give me the explanation of the two hills ?
A. Humility and charity, which must be the foundation of all our actions.

Q. What is the first rung ?
A. Candor, the special virtue of a beautiful soul capable of receiving the beautiful impressions of masonry.

Q. What is the second?
A. The gentleness and clemency which we must exercise towards our fellow men.

Q. What is the third?
A. Truth, which must be sacred among us, as it is one of the rays of the great sun of the universe, who is God.

Q. What is the fourth?
A. Temperance, which teaches us to curb our passions, by fleeing all unregulated excess.

Q. What is the fifth?
A. Silence, which we must observe in all the mysteries of masonry.

Q. Are there anymore?
A. Yes, most venerable.

Q. How many?
A. As many as there are of different virtues.

Q. To whom is it reserved to know them?
A. To all good masons and masonnes, who, desiring to attain human perfection, put them into practice.

Q. Who is the first one to have earned the knowledge of this ladder?
A. The patriarch Jacob, in a mysterious dream.

Q. Did he not see only the symbol?
A. He actually saw a ladder, upon which were angels whom climbed to heaven.

Q. Where was the bottom of the ladder?
A. Upon the earth, the footstool of the Lord.

Q. Where was its summit?
A. To the right of the Creator, abode of the blessed.

Q. How is this reached?
A. Through the union of the virtues.

Q. Could you explain to me what the tablet or tracing board of the female master represents?
A. Yes, most venerable.

Q. What does the sacrifice of Noah signify?
A. The sacrifice is a mark of recognition and gratitude, we learn that a true mason must turn the dangers which he encounters to his advantage, and thank the author of his days for having preserved him.

Q. What does the rainbow mean?
A. The harmony of all the sentiments that reign among the masons, symbolized by the bright mix of colors which form the rainbow.

Q. What does Jacob being asleep represent?
A. The peace and tranquility that a virtuous soul is able to taste.

Q. What does Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son teach us?
A. That a good mason must sacrifice what he holds most dear, when wisdom demands it.

Q. What can we learn from the punishment of Sodom?
A. That masons must abhor the abominable crime which drew the fire from heaven onto this city; it is for us to remember the idea that we can serve as inflamed earthen or clay vessels.

Q. What can we learn from Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt?
A. That we must obey reason, and above all that we must never penetrate into the secrets of the supreme Being.

Q. Why, in the tablet or tracing board, is Joseph represented for us in a cistern, and above him the sun, the moon and the eleven stars?

A. Joseph in the cistern, makes us see that if virtue is sometimes ignored, it is in order to reappear more brightly; and the sun, the moon and the stars announce to us the glory of this holy man, through which God rewards his virtues.

Q. What is the word of the female master masonne?
A. ‘Avoth-Jair’, which means: “the Bright light of the truth has unsealed my eyes”.

Q. Give me the sign of response for this degree?
A. Here it is. ( It is done. )

Q. What does it signify?
A. It expresses the signs of the other degrees, and designates the five senses.

Q. Why do masons apply their signs upon the five senses?
A. To teach us to only make a good use of them. [1] The first, upon the mouth, makes known to us that sensuality is a vice, and that the mason’s banquets are only for the enjoyment amongst themselves of a peaceful society, the pleasures of which are always esteemed, as they were based upon temperance; [2] the second, upon the ear, teaching us that a mason must close the ear to slander, and to never utter a single word that could offend the modesty and chastity of the sisters; [3] the third, upon the eye, warning a mason that he should only look at his sisters with the eyes of the soul; that is to say, that he must respect their wisdom and their virtue, and that the beauty and the grace that they possess are never for inspiring criminal desires, but to beautify the society and to render it more lively and more dear; [4] the fourth, under the nose, makes us know that all good masons and masonnes must be above all that can gratify the senses, so as to never sacrifice the good of the society for one’s particular pleasure; [5] the fifth (which is the grip that is given to us in the first degree) instructs us that we should renew each time our peace treaty, and that we are always ready to lend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in their dangers and their needs.

Q. What is the grip of a female master?
A. It is done by mutually presenting the index and another finger of the right hand, which we place one upon the other; then alternatively the right thumb is pressed upon the joints near the nail.

Q. What are the duties of a female master masonne?
A. To love, to protect and to assist one’s brothers and sisters.

The venerable master says: “Let us love each other, protect each other, and mutually help each other, according to our promises.”

This lodge is closed like the preceding one.

End of the third Degree.

-Paraphrase from MANUAL OF FRENCH MASONNES OR THE TRUE MASONRY OF ADOPTION (1787) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 15 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



3E Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Master (1849)


Q. Venerable 1st Surveyor, are you a master of the 3rd degree?
A. The golden branch is known to me.

Q. What is your mystical name?
A. ‘Epopte’; this name signifies perfect seer.

Q. Why is the name ‘Epopte’ given to the master?
A. Because the master (after having passed through the first two degrees of initiation, after having been submitted to all the physical and moral tests, and having worked to purify his soul, illuminates his spirit and perfects his whole being) is admitted to penetrate into the higher mysteries of the Order.

Q. What do you understand by these words: the golden branch is known to me?
A. The golden branch is the symbol of initiation: all ancient traditions and the ingenious allegories of poetry attest to this fact. This phrase signifies that I have arrived at the degree which marks the completion of initiation.

Q. How was your reception?
A. I was first directed to an immense room which was only illuminated by a faint glow; all my senses were terrified. Dismal cries, wailing voices, and long groans arrived at my ears; then solemn and dismal music, and from time to time, some wailing sounds arrived at my ear. When my eyes had grown more accustomed to the darkness, I perceived three judges clothed in long black tunics on a raised platform; one of them spoke, saying to me:

“Who are you? and what do you want?”
I replied, “a feeble and ignorant Mysthe, who asks to complete his initiation.”

He then said to me: “Do you realize what you are asking, and at what price you can obtain it?”
I replied: “No sacrifice is too great for it.”

He added: “Three great secrets will be revealed to you.”
The 1st is the art of prolonging your life.
The 2nd is the secret of making gold.
The 3rd is the creative genius which excites men’s admiration.

“The art of prolonging life,” I replied, “is to wisely use every instant of which it is composed.
The secret of making gold is to live without need, and above the creative genius which excites men’s admiration, where the wise place virtue, which encourages them to practice what is good.”

I then heard a voice say to me: “Young student of wisdom, your soul is above vulgar desires; have courage! continue your path, and the entry into the sanctuary of truth will not be denied to you.”

Q. Where were you then directed?
A. To the porch of the temple, where I found three impassable ministers, armed with swords, who asked me what I wanted.
I replied: “perfect light”.

Q. What was said to you after that?
A. “You can only obtain that through death.”

Q. What did you reply?
A. “I do not refuse any kind of trial.” Then the two doors of the temple opened before me.

Q. How did you enter into the temple?
A. By climbing three allegorical steps: the 1st signifying Justice, the 2nd Meditation, and, the 3rd Intelligence or Intelligent Understanding.

Q. What did you notice in the precinct of the temple?
A. Dismal curtains and all the appearance of mourning and of desolation.

Q. Why this style ?
A. The masters celebrated the commemoration of a tragic emblematic death.

Q. What was this death?
A. Masonic legends say that this death is that of Hiram, architect of the temple of Solomon.

Q. Tell us this legend.
A. Hiram is described in modern Masonry as the architect who presided over the construction of the temple of Solomon. The work of this great and magnificent building had necessitated the employment of a great number of workmen (199,600), the order required for the payment of this considerable number of personnel necessitated the classification of these workers into apprentices, companions and masters; to each of these classes were assigned a location in the temple in order to receive their salary. To each class of workers was given a word according to their class.
Three companions, impatient to become masters, and wanting nonetheless to receive the master’s salary, resolved to force Hiram to reveal to them the master’s word, and, upon his refusal, put him to death and buried his body in the earth. Solomon sent 7 masters to find him who found the corpse in the earth by means of a branch of acacia which had been placed in the newly disturbed earth.

Q. What is the opinion of illuminated Masons regarding this legend?
A. That the history of the death of Hiram is invented, although such a person really existed. The first Masons attributed to him the history of the sun, taking the example of the Ancients, which was attributed to Hercules, to Apollo, etc., the adventures which had as their objective to paint a picture of the solar revolutions. Regarding those who pretend that Masonry is completely modern, they say that Hiram is none other than the Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay.

Q. What should one think of this legend?
A. That it is purely allegorical, and that beneath this allegory is found hidden the expression of the great and profound palyngenesic law which insists on the violent death of the initiator as the necessary complement of every initiation. This law has its realization in the ancient Mysthe of Prometheus, who (having revealed the sacred fire to men) is chained to the summit of mount Caucasus, and fulminated with a thunderbolt by Jupiter.

Q. What does the word ‘Adonhiram’ signify?
A. This name is composed of two hebrew words, ‘adon’ which signifies master and ‘Hiram’ which signifies lively life, or elevation.

Q. What was done to you in the temple?
A. I was placed in a coffin, in order to teach me that I must die to vice in order to receive the perfect light.

Q. What happened to you next?
A. The Venerable Master after having given to me the explanation of this symbolic burial, asked me three questions on the nature of man, his origin and his destiny. My answers satisfied the assembly, and I was conducted to the foot of the altar where I took my oath of the 3rd degree; the Venerable Master after having proclaimed me a master mason, gave me the fraternal kiss or kiss of peace, the sign, the word and the grip.

Q. Venerable 1st Surveyor, stand at attention.
He does so.

Q. What does this charge signify?
A. It reminds me of my oath.

Q. Make the sign.
He does it.

Q. What does this sign signify?
A. That I prefer to have my stomach cut open rather than to reveal the secret of the masters.

Q. Make the sign of horror.
He does it.

Q. What does this sign signify?
A. It marks the horror that every mason must have for vice.

Q. Make the sign of help.
He does it.

Q. What is the virtue of this sign?
A. It obliges every Brother who sees it to fly to the help of whosoever makes it.

Q. Give the grip to the Venerable Brother Master of Ceremonies.

He gives it. The Brother Master of Ceremonies says:
It is just and perfect, Venerable Master

Q. Give me the password.
He gives it (see general instructions) [‘Ghiblim’]

Q. Give me the sacred word.
He gives it [‘Mak-Benah’].

Q. Make the applause.
He does it.

Q. Make the sign of acclamation.
He does it.

Q. What age do you have as a master?
A. 7 years old.

Q. Why 7 years old?
A. Because this was the duration of the tests undergone by the candidates before they arrived at ‘epoptism’.”

-Paraphrase from THE SANCTUARY OF MEMPHIS, OR HERMES (1849) by Marconis de Nègre,
available in Ch. 16 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



3F Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Female Master (1854)

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

-From Ch. 16 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



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