Presented by V.W. Bro. Norman McEvoy
Victoria Columbia No1 Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon (Canada)
Adapted from Chapters 2&3 of “The Meaning of Masonry” by W.L.Wilmshurst
To begin, I will firstly deal with two definitions, being that of “Esoteric” and “Temple” hopefully thus eliminating any possible confusion in the interpretation of this paper.
My source is Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and the definitions are as follows:-
2. Designed for or understood by the specifically initiated only:
3. Of or relating to knowledge that is restricted to a small group.
1. A building devoted to a particular purpose, or focusing on activity of a special kind.
2. The structure of thought, value or belief that enshrines the spirit or essence of something.
3. The center or focus of something prized or valued.
It is with these definitions in mind that I approach this paper and attempt to share with the reader my understanding of the structural facets of a Masonic Temple and their “esoteric” significance to us as Masons.
In this paper I will deal with the Design &/or Layout of the Temple itself.
Recognizing that this is a huge subject and interpretation can be extremely personal, I wish to again state that the opinions given are mine alone and based on my Masonic Education at its present development.
It is my intention to spark interest, create discussion and hopefully generate enthusiasm for the subject.
Above all to encourage us all to ask WHY, as in Masonry and in life itself, it is only by asking WHY that we will ever be able to understand HOW.
The DESIGN OF A LODGE
It is generally agreed that the Design of a Masonic Temple is based on the revolving of the Earth around the Sun, thus one circuit of the Temple Floor represents one full revolution (i.e. 24 hours).
This then places Sunrise &/or Dawn in the EAST; Mid-Day &/or Noon in the SOUTH; and Evening &/or Close of Day in the WEST.
This leaves the NORTH to represent Night and Darkness.
Having accepted this as being correct, it is therefore quite reasonable to determine that all candidates to Freemasonry should enter from the NORTH WEST corner, that being the very darkest corner of the Temple.
Having thus entered the candidate is guided around the Temple always in a clockwise direction.
I readily agree that the Design of the Temple can reflect the stages of life itself, however, for my immediate purpose I wish to use my first analogy (i.e. 24 hours).
I also concede, that due to structural restrictions, the location preparation rooms may not be in the North West corner, however, I do believe that that is the most appropriate and desirable location.
WHY ; ESOTERICALLY
As with life itself, we come into Masonry in a total state of ignorance and dependence and after having made that very personal decision to seek membership, we knock to gain admittance.
This I believe is the beginning of a Masons search for knowledge, or as the ancient Greeks called it “Gnosis”, and by placing him in the North West corner, he is esoterically at the point of total ignorance, ready to advance through the darkness.
He proceeds up the North Side of the Temple (darkness) toward the East (light) from which all truth and wisdom emanates.
In making this request (the knock), and taking the step forward toward the light, the candidate is embarking on a journey through life both physical and spiritual and as the scriptures inform us the path is
The many perambulations encountered in the process of becoming a Master Mason clearly demonstrate that Education/Truth does not come to us all at once but is gathered by study and experience through our various stages in life.
We also come to recognize that the assistance of others is very welcome and indeed mandatory if we are to reach our maximum potential. With these thoughts in mind, and recognizing that Masonry is a progressive science, we now understand why all movement is in a clockwise direction (forward) and never backward.