A Brother writes:
As a new member I am rather curious to know the significance attached to the rods or wands that are carried by the Deacons. They seem to be so much in the way at times that unless there is some deeper meaning to their origin and use than is apparent the Officers would be less hampered without them.”
A great many of our Masonic ceremonies, and the paraphernalia associated with them, have their origins in the distant past, in ancient mystery rites of thousands of years ago, as well as in the customs and practices of the operative building masons of the middle ages.
In the ancient mythologies of Greece and Rome, Mercury (in the Greek, Hermes) was “the winged messenger of Jove” who carried the messages and commands of the chief Deity to the four corners of the heavens.
As an emblem of his office and an indication of the purpose of his travel he carried a short rod or wand surmounted by a figure known as a caduceus.
It was something like a combination of the serpent and rod or dollar sign and an airman’s badge. This rod or wand also acted as a talisman having power to ward off all evil spirits from the pathway, so that nothing might impede Jove’s messenger on his heavenly journeys.
In the Ancient Mysteries, the Herald, who conducted the candidates through the ceremonies of Initiation, always carried a wand surmounted by the figure of the caduceus of Mercury, and to it was attributed the power to ward off the spirits of evil which might impede the progress of those in search of the spirit of light and good.
Even in the present day some religious denominations carry a wand in processions which is presumed to have the same effect.
It was the custom in the mediaeval building age for a selected Craftsman to be entrusted with the task of carrying the messages and instructions of the Master Mason, or Architect of the building, to the various departments of the work and to see that they were correctly and punctually executed.
In the ceremonies within the Lodge he carried out similar duties as assigned to him by the Master Mason, and in the period of Transition from Operative to Speculative Freemasonry his duties included the introduction and conducting of candidates who were being “made Masons,” and the performance of various acts similar to the work of Deacons today.
In the early Speculative period the Deacon’s wand was surmounted by the caduceus, and in some foreign Grand Lodges it is still used as the insignia of the Deacons and the emblem on their wands.
Towards the latter part of the eighteenth century Christian influences were instrumental in substituting the dove (which is the present emblem), as more appropriate to Biblical concepts of the messenger than the pagan symbol of Mercury.
Even outside the Craft wands are not unusual as British marks of office.
Church wardens and sheriffs carry them, as do certain officials in the houses of parliament. They add to the dignity of our ceremonies in the Lodge and have their use in forming the square within which candidates are obligated, and Grand Lodge officers are received and honoured.
Our new Brother will note, therefore, that like many other usages and customs associated with the Craft, there is a wealth of ancient symbolism even in such a simple thing as the Deacon’s wand.
The deeper significance becomes more apparent, too, when we realize that a symbolic sense the Worshipful Master in the Lodge represents the G.A.O.T.U. the Light of the East.
So two deacons with wands are the equivalent of two attendants with asherahs.
In the J.W. lecture it states that a Masonic lodge is situated due east and west for three reasons.
1st – The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Remember Shachar and Shalem, the Gods of dawn and dusk, sunrise/sunset, there is a connection there.
2nd – We’ll put that one aside as it has no significance here.
3rd – The tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon were so situated.
We’ll take the tabernacle of Moses because he and his followers were always on the move, and it provides a great example of the use of the Asherah.
All holy or sacred buildings at that time were situated due east and west and the tabernacle of Moses was no different except that Moses and his followers were on the move for 40 years. So the tabernacle, which was of course a tent, had to be dismantled and re-erected every time they moved, and at the rebuilding it had to be situated due east and west.
So Moses and his two attendants, complete with asherahs, would go to the chosen site where the tabernacle was to be erected just before dawn, accompanied by the heavy gang who were going to do the erecting.
Moses would then choose the spot where the altar was to be and instruct one of the attendants to place his asherah on that spot.
When the sun rose above the horizon, the rays from the sun would strike the asherah and send a long thin shadow towards the west. The other attendant would then place his asherah on the other end of the shadow and that would designate the centre line of the proposed tabernacle.
The heavy gang would then move in and erect the tabernacle with the altar at the east end and the entrance at the west end.
Just as an aside, that is the way that all lodges were set out, with the altar in the east directly in front of the W.M.
The idea of having the altar in the centre of the lodge is a fairly recent one and I think is peculiar to North America. However, that’s of no importance here.
Obviously, the magnetic compass had not been invented at that time so all holy and sacred buildings had to be set out with the aid of two asherahs and K.S. temple was no different.
And so, the asherah, being the very first tool or implement to be made use of at the building of the temple makes them of extreme importance from a Masonic historical point of view, and as such should be carried at all times as the insignia of the office of the deacons and in particular when conducting a candidate.
And that brethren is why the deacons carry wands.
Very recently, I have found myself promoting Masonic Education and the importance that all Brethren, witnessing degree workings, understand the WHY’s of the ceremony.
It is my hope that all brethren, having read this paper, will now know for certain WHY
the deacons carry wands and what they represent.
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless