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[ In this article R.W.Bro.Jacques Huyghebaert shares with
us his reflections on the number five, peculiar to the degree of Fellowcraft,
which is midway in Freemasonry. He has culled information from various sources
and has presented a very informative and instructive article. Please read on...]
on the Number Five
second degree ceremony the candidate is informed that Freemasonry is a
progressive moral science divided into different degrees and as its mystic
ceremonies are regularly developed and illustrated, it is intended and hoped
that they will make a deep and lasting impression upon his mind.
has been required that the Brethren endeavour to commit to memory the working
and various ceremonies of the Craft. This demand has never been intended to
trifle with anybody, but to teach us an important lesson, namely. that all our
efforts to acquire knowledge will remain useless, if we are to forget all we
No one has,
however, wished any Brother ever to become a "Parrot-Mason".
In order to
understand that which, through the succession of ages, has been transmitted
unimpaired, and which we regard as the "Most Excellent tenets" of our ancient
and honourable Fraternity, we need to take a closer look at the Lodge work, the
precise wording of the questions and answers, the true content of the lectures,
and the deep sense of the various symbols made use of during our ceremonies.
Albert Pike, who
was the Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite from 1859 to
1891, has written the following about the essence of Masonry :
of symbolism, capable of many interpretations, reaches what the palpable and
conventional cannot. Its indefiniteness acknowledges the abstruseness of the
subject; it treats it mystically, it endeavours to illustrate what it cannot
explain, to excite an appropriate feeling, or to develop an adequate idea, and
to make the image a mere subordinate conveyance for the conception"
successor of the Egyptian Mysteries, still follows the ancient manner of
teaching. Her ceremonies are like the ancient mystic shows, not the reading of
an essay, but the opening of a problem, requiring research. Her symbols are the
instruction she gives. The lectures are endeavours to interpret these symbols.
He who would become an accomplished Mason must not be content merely to hear, or
even to understand the lectures; he must, aided by them and they having, as it
were, marked out the way for him, study, interpret, and develop these symbols
tradition informs us that at the building of King Solomon's Temple, the Craft
were arranged in three classes. Entered Apprentices or bearers of burdens,
Fellowcrafts or hewers on the mountains and in the quarries, and Masters or
Overseers of the Work.
Apprentice Mason works with the gavel and the chisel to break off the
superfluous parts of the rough ashlar.
has different working tools, namely the level and the square. These instruments
are not made to cut the stone, but to verify and position the building stones
according to the plan.
The compass is
for the Master Mason, neither to cut the stone, nor to build the edifice, but to
draw designs upon the trestle board.
clear, even in operative Masonry, that improvement of craftsmanship, necessarily
leads to a gradual development of the mental faculties of the Artist and
In the first
degree, the square is placed upon the extended points of the compass, in the
second degree, one point of the compass is elevated above the square, and in the
third degree the square is completely covered by the compass.
indicates to Freemasons, that the way leading to Perfection, both operative and
speculative, requires a slow but constant shift from the square to the compass,
or, in other words, from matter towards spirit.
This is why, in
the second degree, the symbols stress the importance of numbers.
catechisms referred to the number required to make "a full and perfect lodge" or
a "true and perfect lodge", or some such similar expression.
varied, but the use of three, five and seven was fairly constant.
makes a true and perfect Lodge?
Masters, five entered apprentices.
Q. Does no less make a true and perfect Lodge?
A. Yes, five Masons and three entered apprentices.
Q. Does no less?
A. The more the merrier, the fewer the better cheer."
When after the
Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813 the Emulation ritual appeared, the lectures of
the three degrees had seven, five and three sections respectively, the minimum
numbers which the lectures claimed were required to form a Lodge in each of
section of the California third degree lecture states that :
Apprentice Masons assembled on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple, and
their lodges consisted of no less than seven; one Master, the other Entered
Apprentice Masons. Fellowcrafts held their meetings in the Middle Chamber of
King Solomon's Temple, and their lodges consisted of no less than five; two
Masters, the other Fellowcrafts; Master Masons met in the Sanctum Sanctorum, or
Holy of Holies, and their lodge consisted of three"
second section of the Fellow Craft degree ceremony, the attention of the
candidate is directed to a representation of a flight of winding stairs
consisting of three, five and seven steps.
Here is an
extract from "Leaves from Georgia Masonry", on the number five in relation to
up the first three steps, and laid the foundation of your Masonic building, you
see now a flight of five steps, replete with profound meaning. For five is a
sacred number ever found in connection with two, and with seven, Jesus is said
to have fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, and of the fragments
there remained twelve baskets, that is five and seven. The five steps show on
one side the five orders of architecture, and on the other the five human
senses. Now when you hear of a 'sacred' number, you think probably that means
nothing to you personally, but stop and consider a moment. This number five is
engraved in your being more than once. Examine yourself, and you find five
fingers, five toes, and five avenues through which the outside world can
communicate with that mysterious being who sits in the centre of your
consciousness and receives and translates - no man knows how - the various
messages carried to the brain by the nerves from the outside world."
The use of
numbers has always had a special significance to Freemasons.
"All things are
in numbers ", said our ancient friend and brother, the Great Pythagoras; " the
world is a living arithmetic in its development, and a realized geometry in its
Nature is a
realm of numbers; crystals are solid geometry. Music moves with measured step,
using geometrical figures, and cannot free itself from numbers without dying
away into discord.
Equally so it is
with the art of building - a living allegory in which man imitates in miniature
the world-temple, and seeks by every device to discover the secret of its
This is why our
ritual states :
"A survey of
nature and the observation of her beautiful proportions, first determined man to
imitate the Divine plan, and to study symmetry and order”.
The number FIVE
is traditionally expressed by the five-pointed or blazing star, the mysterious
pentalpha of Pythagoras.
has been found on sarcophagi and ancient carvings, and has a long association
with the religions and mysteries of Antiquity. It is a magic sign in astrology,
alchemy, and cabbalistic law.
it represented Sirius or the Dog Star. On wall paintings of Egyptian tombs, we
can still see Isis, surmounted by the five pointed star.
years before Christ astronomers had observed that Sirius was an important star,
not only for the forecast of the return of seasons, but also for the
determination of the heavenly cycles.
That is why the
star Sirius was chosen by the Egyptians to mark the "sacred year", corresponding
to the precessional cycle of the equinoxes, the duration of which is known to
encompass more than 25 millenniums.
They also had
noticed that the star Sirius, the star Spica and the terrestrial globe, display
a right-angled triangle upon the skies.
Spica is the
main star of the constellation Virgo. That may seem irrelevant to the second
degree - it is not - for Spica means "ear of corn" in Latin which translated
into Hebrew gives "Shibboleth". The star Spica is located on the milky way,
which the Egyptians called the celestial Nile. And that perhaps can provide us
with another hint to the signification of the "ear of corn suspended near a
Diodorus, a Greek historian who lived in the 1st century B.C., the Ancients
represented the universe by the NUMBER FIVE.
Alchemists it was the sign of the Quintessence. To the Magi, the Grand
Arcanum. To the Cabbalists, the sacred Pentagram.
studying numbers, we may say that five is four plus one, 5 = 4 + 1.
We already know
that the number four alludes to the four elements of Nature namely earth,
water, air and fire.
We also know
that the number one signifies the beginning, the source, the principle, the
essence of all things.
We therefore are
entitled to deduce that FIVE, being an association of ONE and FOUR, alludes to
nothing else than the mystery of LIFE.
states that "by Geometry we may curiously trace Nature through her various
windings to her most concealed recesses."
" A survey of
Nature teaches us indeed that, five and its geometrical equivalent, the five
pointed star, is a very frequent pattern, to be observed in all forms of life.”
"We can discover
it in the arrangements of the pits in an apple, we can discover it in the design
of orchids, we can discover it in the arms of the starfish."
"It leads the
artist to the golden section and the number, which by many has been considered
as the mathematical expression of life."
"In imitation of
nature, architects, painters, sculptors and musicians of all ages have made use
of the golden proportion to reach harmony and beauty."
The jewel of
Past-Masters, in the English and Continental European Lodges, inherited from the
Grand Lodge of the Moderns, representing the 47th problem of Euclid, figures a
measured by the NUMBER THREE, refers to the DEITY, the perpendicular, measured
by the NUMBER FOUR, symbolizes MATTER, and the hypotenuse, measured by the
NUMBER FIVE, alludes to that nature which is produced by the union of the Divine
and the Material, MAN with his soul and body.
The squares, 9
and 16, of the base and perpendicular, added together, produce 25, the square
root whereof is 5, the measure of the hypotenuse.
Finally, may I
direct your attention again to the flight of winding stairs, consisting of
three, five and seven steps, making in all 15 steps.
is also three times five, is, according to Cabbala, the number of YAH, or, as we
would say as Freemasons, the number of the " Great Architect of the Universe"
and which we represent by the letter G in the centre of the five-pointed blazing
King Solomon and his Followers, no 38, CAL, Allen Publishing Company,
Virginia, 1910, 1972
Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,
prepared by Albert Pike for
the Supreme Council of the
Thirty-Third degree (Mother Council of the World) for the Southern
the United States and published by its authority, House of the Temple,
Washington, D.C., 1966.
Symbolism in Craft Masonry, Colin Dyer, PAGDC, Master of Quatuor Coronati
Lewis Masonic, London, 1976,
Joseph Fort Newton, The Builders, a story and study of Freemasonry, Macoy
Publishing and Masonic
Supply Company Inc., Richmond,
Virginia, 1914, 1951 reprint.
L'étoile flamboyante, Jacques Trescases, Editions Henri Veyrier, 1979.