Taken from Chapters 2&3 of “The Meaning of Masonry” by W.L.Wilmshurst
In his book Wilmshurst makes the comment that one could devote many papers to a study of the Pillars, however, I found great value in the explanation he did provide and I will attempt to share my understanding with you.
As our Lectures state there are Three Great Pillars, i.e. Ionic (Wisdom); Doric (Strength) and Corinthian (Beauty).
Of these the Ionic is located in the East and is represented by The Master of the Lodge with the other two to be located immediately within the entrance to the Temple at the North West corner.
It is recognized again that, for structural reasons this is not possible in some cases, this is, nonetheless, the appropriate location.
It is also worth noting that at York Minster, Westminster Abbey and other great Christian edifices, the main doors are located in the West with the Altar in the East.
This again points out that the quest for education and light is perceived to be a journey from West to East.
History also informs us that “Two Great Pillars” have always been a prominent feature of buildings housing all great religious systems and philosophies for many centuries, and have always stood at the entrance.
Starting at the North West corner, we note that the characteristic of the Pillar on the left is “Strength” and that on the right “Beauty”, and it is between these two pillars that we esoterically enter the Temple.
From my readings, I believe that these pillars represent “the pair of Opposites” and “duality” experienced by us all in the course of our daily living and the challenges we face to stay in Balance.
By this comment, I refer to life’s constant struggle between:=
Good/Evil ; Light/Darkness ; White/Black ; Positive/Negative ; Temptation/Conscience ; Truth/Falsehood.
In science we see the Positive/Negative poles in electricity and the Red/White corpuscles in our own bodies which without exact balancing, we would all perish.
Many more examples are available to demonstrate this particular point, however, the few I have given should suffice for the purpose of this paper.
By recognizing these as realities it becomes readily apparent that in order for PERFECTION to be accomplished all existence would need to be in PERFECT BALANCE.
Thus by coming the realization that we are not perfect and in fact constantly out of balance we look to Masonry and it’s “Lessons and Lectures” to assist us in improving our balance and bringing STABILITY to our lives.
Having dealt with Strength, Beauty and Stability, we are now left with Wisdom which I believe is not only represented by our Worshipful Master but all those guides, mentors and leaders in the Craft to whom we look for guidance and direction.
The greatest of which is of course the G.A.O.T.U.
Undoubtedly, much more could be written about the design, decoration, construction etc. of the Pillars, however, the above is intended for education at the initiate level and those of our families who get to read incoming emails. I am of the opinion that if our families understand the basics of who and what we are as Masons they will have the opportunity to appreciate and support our personal quest.