Way of the Hermit

20th Degree: Master of the Symbolic Lodge

August 21, 2022 Dr. David Brown & Gene Lawson Season 1 Episode 21
Way of the Hermit
20th Degree: Master of the Symbolic Lodge
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we discuss the 20th Degree - “Master of the Symbolic Lodge” as we continue our exploration of "Morals & Dogma: The Annotated Edition". It is highly recommended that you read the chapter in order to fully follow our discussion.

"Morals and Dogma" is available from these sites:

Images and Diagrams:


  • Introduction (01:14)
  • Degree Ritual (01:39)
  • Purpose of the Degree (10:59)
  • Morals and Dogma (12:59)
  • Ignorance and Innovations in Freemasonry (14:02)
  • The Meaning of Masonic Titles (14:48)
  • Masons Kneel Before God and Honor (15:51)
  • The Scottish Rite is a Teacher of Great Truth (16:44)
  • Masonry Teaches by Parable and Allegory (17:57)
  • Exercise Humanity to Those Beneath You (19:20)
  • Masonry is the Performance of Duty (19:57)
  • Duties of the Masonic Classes (21:23)
  • Duties of a Master of a Lodge (22:47)
  • The 47th Problem of Euclid (24:58)
  • Square Work (27:15)
  • Thoth (29:01)
  • Conclusions (31:05)


Introduction (01:14)

Gene: Hello Dave.

David: Hello Gene.

Gene: Are you ready to become a “Master of the Symbolic Lodge”?

David: I hope so… but before we get started, as always, I want to remind everyone that Show Notes, Chapter Markers and a Transcript of this, and all episodes, are available on our website - WayOfTheHermit.com. This is the second Degree in the “Council of Kadosh”. Gene, what does the Degree Ritual look like this time?

Degree Ritual (01:39)

Gene: Well, you know how the 19th Degree Ritual was a big elaborate stage drama?

David: I do.

Gene: Well, this one is the opposite of that. It’s very basic, to the point, no nonsense. It has a short lecture on the symbols and then you’re cut loose to ponder what they mean yourself. Actually… and I had to laugh when I read this… it’s from the “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” and it says, and I quote - “We should not confer this degree on one who, we suspect, would, after passing through it, need an explanation of, or a commentary upon, the ritual.”

David: Hmm. So, I guess we’re not needed for this one.

Gene: We’ll leave that for others to judge. But anyway, “A Bridge To Light” says that “This degree is considered a classical drama for many reasons. The most significant are its Simplicity in set and action, the ceremonial use of candles, and the use of squares, triangles, and pillars, the classic symbols of Masonry. In “Morals and Dogma”, Pike notes that Masonry should be returned to its primitive purity. The ceremony is a dramatic statement of this “primitive Purity”.”

David: So the ritual relies on very basic symbolism… shapes, symbols and numbers?

Gene: Correct. And one of the primary numbers used in this Ritual of the Degree is nine. There are nine candles in three groups of three each - on the east, the west and the south of the altar.

David: What’s the significance of the number nine here?

Gene: One reason is that nine is three squared or three times three.

David: We’ve talked about how one divides into three as thesis, antithesis and synthesis in the early Degrees and then unity, duality, trinity and in the last Degree we discussed the “Three Principles of Being”. So those are all one becoming three.

Gene: Yes, and three squared just takes it another level. Each one of three, is itself three. And another interpretation of nine would be the first nine Sephiroth of the “Tree of Life”, which also can be broken down into three groups of three.

David: Right.

Gene: One other thing about the nine candles… they’re arranged around the altar to form a right triangle. “A Bridge To Light” says that “They form a graphical representation of the “47th Problem of Euclid”. Also called the “Pythagorean Theorem”... It demonstrates that in all right triangles, the sum of the squares of the two sides which form a right angle, and the square of the side opposite to the right angle are equal.”

David: And the corresponding equation is a2 + b2 = c2. We’ll talk about the significance of this equation a little later. What other symbols are used in the Degree Ritual?

Gene: The Octagon, which is an eight-sided figure.

David: What’s the significance of the Octagon?

Gene: The Octagon is significant because it can act as a mediator between the Circle and the Square. “A Bridge To Light” says that “The Octagon is the intermediate geometric form between the Square and the Circle. The Circle is a symbol of the number One, of Heaven and the Eternal or spiritual; the Square is a symbol of Earth, the terrestrial or Earthly. The symbolic meaning of the Octagon derives from the practice of the Ancients of “Squaring the Circle”.”

David: That was a mathematical puzzle of creating a Circle with the same area as a given Square or vice versa.

Gene: Yeah… it makes me think about wrestlin’, but that’s just me.

David: Why does it make you think of that?

Gene: Ole-Timey wrestling… you know, “The Squared Circle”?

David: Ahh. Ok. I get it, but besides wrestling, what do you think it symbolizes?

Gene: Umm… it also symbolizes the spiritual quest. That quote goes on to say that the goal of the Ancients “was to obtain unity in the material world and in the spiritual life. One way of “Squaring the Circle” was to superimpose two squares and inscribe a circle within in such a way as to form an Octagon. Hence the Octagon represents the path indicated by the Square towards the Circle; that is, the path from the Earthly life to Perfection, from Matter to Spirit.”

David: So the Ritual uses the numbers eight and nine… any others?

Gene: Yes, the last one is twenty-nine. There are twenty-nine virtues of a Mason listed and associated with the octagon with five squares and three triangles on its edges.

David: What’s the significance of twenty-nine?

Gene: The only thing I could think of was the number of degrees in the Scottish Rite if you exclude the three Blue Lodge Degrees and the thirty-third.

David: Hmm. That could be. So those are some of the main symbols. How is the Ritual of the Degree conducted?

Gene: It’s divided into two sections. The first section describes what it takes to be a “Master of the Symbolic Lodge” or as it was called at one time “Grand Master of All Symbol Lodges”.

David: I like that title better!

Gene: Yeah I do, too. Anyway, the Ritual starts off with a speech by the Venerable Master. In it, he says, “No man has the right to dictate to another in matters of belief or faith. No man should say that he has possession of truth… When man persecutes for opinion’s sake, he usurps the prerogative of God.”

David: That quote continues with “Man should judge others as he judges himself; he should believe others to be as honest and sincere as he believes himself (to be). He should find for their actions the excuses that he finds for his own; and look always for a good rather than a bad motive.”

Gene: One thing I noticed is how much this Degree resembles the 7th Degree - Provost and Judge… at least as far as the Ritual goes. It’s all about how to be a fair judge. It does go more into the minutia of what being a fair judge entails though.

David: I noticed that, too… but here it seems that the judgment is directed toward being a good leader and/or teacher. A quote from “A Bridge To Light” says, “A “Master of the Symbolic Lodge: is a leader and a teacher; his life should exemplify the path of Masonic virtue.”

Gene: That makes sense. The Venerable Master warns the Candidate that no one should accept the office of “Master of the Symbolic Lodge” until they are familiar with the history, morals, and philosophy of Masonry because only then are they fit to serve as instructors.

David: So as a teacher or leader of any kind, you do have to judge the performance of others. What does the first section of the Ritual have to say about that?

Gene: In the Ritual, nine officers, stationed at the candlesticks, instruct or enlighten the Candidate. And I say “enlighten” because each of their statements to the Candidate end with them saying “Let there be light!”

David: What instruction do the officers give you?

Gene: Basically nine statements about what it takes to be a fair judge of yourself and others. Here’s the gist of the nine statements. Reverence the Deity. Be charitable, generous, heroic, honorable, righteous, tolerant and truthful. Then the first section ends with a speech by the Venerable Master that lists the “Twenty-Nine Masonic Virtues” we talked about earlier.

David: Do you want to list those 29 virtues?

Gene: Umm… not really. It’s all the great and wonderful moral qualities we’ve discussed in the degrees so far… prudence, temperance, chastity, sobriety, truth, justice, toleration, etc.

David: OK. So what happens in the second section?

Gene: Really just more detail on things we’ve discussed before. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Judge not that ye be judged.” Be charitable and honest. Be merciful to animals. Desire justice and equity to all and pursue the truth. It also has quotes and stories related to Zoroaster, Mani, Hermes, Confucius, Moses, Hammurabi, Numa, Socrates and Alfred the Great.

David: One quote I liked was “The gods do not judge harshly those whom they created weak, and of little wisdom. In truth, the gods punish no one. They make it a law that the consequences shall follow the cause. They subject the soul to discipline that it may become better; or if it be not worth preserving, they extinguish it in darkness.”

Gene: Yeah, I liked that too and it continues with “Who punishes the wolf or the hyena, because he acts according to the nature given him by the gods? Who endeavors to reform the tiger?”

David: You could interpret that to mean to just do whatever you feel your true nature is.

Gene: Well, if you think about it, you always do whatever your true nature is. You may hide it or make excuses for it… if it doesn’t fit the image of who you want to think you are or the story you’re telling yourself.

David: Yeah. That’s true.

Gene: And if you’re acting out the animal part most of the time, then you still have the “Mark of the Beast”.

David: Which we defined in the last degree as meaning that you are primarily led by your animal nature. So what is the purpose of the Degree?

Purpose of the Degree (10:59)

Gene: As we’ve already said, the Degree is about leadership and teaching, becoming and assuming the role of a “Master” if you will. The “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” says that as a “Master of the Symbolic Lodge”... “you are to bring up Square work and square work only.”

David: What does that mean?

Gene: It says that “Like a Temple erected by the Plum you are too lean neither to one side or the other. Like a building well Squared and Leveled you are to be firm and steadfast in your convictions of right and justice. Like the circle swept with the compasses, you are to be true… The power, the wisdom, and the justice of God are on the side of every just thought, and it cannot fail, any more than God himself can perish.”

David: So that sounds like we are supposed to judge consistently.

Gene: And leniently. It says - “If in advancing to this degree, the Mason has not learned the wisdom of leniency and indulgence, he has advanced too far. It is the doctrine of Masonry that no man is truly wise who is not kind and courteous, charitable in his construction of men's motives, lenient and distrustful of his own ability to resist the allurements of temptation, and afraid of the mighty influences of prejudice and passion.”

David: That’s talking about being humble, basically the opposite of prideful. Which was the trap of the “Luciferian Light” from the last episode.

Gene: Yes, that’s right. I only have one more thing about the purpose of this Degree.

David: What’s that?

Gene:  “A Bridge To Light” says that the Egyptian god Thoth, who it equates with the Greek god Hermes and the Roman god Mercury, is “the true Grandmaster of All Symbolic Lodges... from the earliest Masonic manuscript we see Thoth represented as the ideal of the Master of the Lodge and in some traditions is even said to be the founder of Masonry.”

Morals and Dogma (12:59)

David: Very cool. OK, what’s the first thing you have from the Lecture?   

Gene: The first quote I have is - “As Grand Master of all Symbolic Lodges, it is your especial duty to aid in restoring Masonry to its primitive purity. You have become an instructor. Masonry long wandered in error. Instead of improving, it degenerated from its primitive simplicity, and retrograded toward a system, distorted by stupidity and ignorance, which, unable to construct a beautiful machine, made a complicated one.”

David: Pike says that in its beginnings, Masonry’s “organization was simple, and altogether moral, its emblems, allegories, and ceremonies easy to be understood, and their purpose and object readily to be seen. It was then confined to a very small number of Degrees. Its constitutions were like those of a Society of Essenes, written in the first century of our era.”

Gene: I know he’s talking about the time leading up to his revisions, but I wouldn’t describe “Morals and Dogma” being as easy to understand.

Ignorance and Innovations in Freemasonry (14:02)

David: Me either, but here’s a quote that describes what Pike thought had diluted Masonry’s original purity. It says, “Innovators and inventors overturned that primitive simplicity. Ignorance engaged in the work of making Degrees, and trifles… and pretended mysteries, absurd or hideous, usurped the place of Masonic Truth…. Oaths out of all proportion with their object, shocked the candidate, and then became ridiculous, and were wholly disregarded… Candidates were made to degrade themselves, and to submit to insults not tolerable to a man of spirit and honor.”

Gene: I know there have been Masonic scandals in the past, but I’m not sure what most of that quote is about. Is he talking about hazing?

David: Yeah, I think so.

Gene: I’ve never seen anything like that.

The Meaning of Masonic Titles (14:48)

David: No. Me either. Pike also talks about people claiming lofty Degrees to which they aren’t really entitled, because they haven’t done the required work. As part of that discussion, he lays out qualities associated with some of the Degree titles.

Gene: Yes he does. The Knight is a “Soldier of Truth” who devotes their hand, heart and mind to the “Science of Masonry”. A Prince is supposed to be a “leader among equals in virtue and good deeds.” And a King, as sovereign, is only as just as the laws he rules by.

David: So, the Degree Titles are symbols, too. They imply the qualities of a person who doesn’t just claim the degree, but who actually holds it.

Gene: But come on man… I have a piece of paper that says I’m a thirty-second degree Mason!

David: And I can get you a Ph.D. in Computer Science by three-o'clock this afternoon. “You don’t want to know how.”

Gene: I know what you’re saying. To hold a Degree means you have attained to the knowledge of that Degree, not just that some authority says you have it.

Masons Kneel Before God and Honor (15:51)

David: Exactly. And then to recognize your own authority and responsibility. I have another quote - “The Mason kneels… no longer to a man as his superior, who is but his brother, but to his God; to whom he appeals for the rectitude of his intentions, and whose aid he asks to enable him to keep his vows. No one is degraded by bending his knee to God at the altar, or to receive the honor of Knighthood… To kneel for other purposes, Masonry does not require.”

Gene: Yeah, you’re supposed to have your own earned level of self-respect. I have a quote, too - “We respect man, because we respect ourselves that he may conceive a lofty idea of his dignity as a human being free and independent…. Man should humble himself before the Infinite God; but not before his erring and imperfect brother.”

The Scottish Rite is a Teacher of Great Truth (16:44)

David: That idea of individual liberty and responsibility is part of the purity that Pike is saying had been lost in Freemasonry before his revisions. About this effort, he says - “The Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States at length undertook the indispensable and long-delayed task of revising and reforming the work and rituals of the thirty Degrees under its jurisdiction. Retaining the essentials of the Degrees and all the means by which the members recognize one another, it has sought out and developed the leading idea of each Degree, rejecting the puerilities and absurdities with which many of them were disfigured, and made of them a connected system of moral, religious, and philosophical instruction.”

Gene: That quote continues with “Sectarian of no creed, it has yet thought it not improper to use the old allegories, based on occurrences detailed in the Hebrew and Christian books, and drawn from the Ancient Mysteries of Egypt, Persia, Greece, India, the Druids and the Essenes, as vehicles to communicate the Great Masonic Truths; as it has used the legends of the Crusades, and the ceremonies of the orders of Knighthood.”

Masonry Teaches by Parable and Allegory (17:57)

David: And as we’ve stressed throughout the Degrees, all of those objects, incidents, people, and activities can serve as symbols. The Lecture says “We teach the truth of none of the legends we recite. They are to us but parables and allegories, involving and enveloping Masonic instruction; the vehicles of useful and interesting information. They represent the different phases of the human mind, its efforts and struggles to comprehend nature, God, the government of the Universe, (and) the permitted existence of sorrow and evil.”

Gene: And the purpose is “To teach us wisdom, and the folly of endeavoring to explain to ourselves that which we are not capable of understanding, we reproduce the speculations of the Philosophers, the Kabalists, the Mystagogues and the Gnostics. Everyone being at liberty to apply our symbols and emblems as he thinks most consistent with truth and reason and with his own faith, we give them such an interpretation only as may be accepted by all.”

David: Masonry is supposed to incorporate the core teachings of all religious beliefs… and make it truly a “Catholic” belief system.

Gene: What now?

David: The word “Catholic” means “universal”, or as Pike said, “accepted by all” faiths.

Exercise Humanity to Those Beneath You (19:20)

Gene: OK. Like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” which we discussed as a common belief for faiths based on conscience. And each to their own understanding.

David: Right. And that’s what Pike holds as the pure form of Masonry. He says that “It lays no plots and conspiracies. It hatches no premature revolutions; it encourages no people to revolt against the constituted authorities; but recognizing the great truth that freedom follows fitness for freedom… it strives to prepare men to govern themselves.”

Gene: Which means taking responsibility for what we do and being ready to assume authority when we should… or need to. To be good leaders.

Masonry is the Performance of Duty (19:57)

David: And the work of preparing ourselves is what is called “Masonic Labor”. Here’s a quote from the Lecture about that labor - “Three kinds of work… are necessary to the preservation and protection of man and society: manual labor, specially belonging to the three blue Degrees; labor in arms, symbolized by the Knightly or chivalric Degrees; and intellectual labor, belonging particularly to the Philosophical Degrees.”

Gene: Which means you do what needs to be done… with your hands, your heart or your head. The Lecture says that “We have not reduced Masonry to a cold metaphysics that exiles everything belonging to the domain of the imagination. The ignorant, and those half-wise, in reality, but over-wise in their own conceit, may assail our symbols with sarcasms; but they are nevertheless ingenious veils that cover the Truth, respected by all who know the means by which the heart of man is reached and his feelings enlisted.”

David: You said it there - head, heart and hands. Mind, emotions and actions. It takes those three united into one to accomplish anything. And it implies at least three readings of any symbol as well - literal, moral and philosophical.

Gene: And a hidden fourth, which is the esoteric interpretation. Which is a kind of a meta-level because it refers to how your mind works.

Duties of the Masonic Classes (21:23)

David: Yes. And as we’ve said before, the symbols used in Masonry can be interpreted in many ways and can really and truly deepen your experience of the Scottish Rite system.

Gene: That’s very true. That’s definitely been my experience in studying “Morals and Dogma” for this podcast.

David: Mine, too.

Gene: So, what did you think about the discussion of all the different classes of Masonic Labor? The “Directors of Work”, Architects, Knights, Almoners, Orators and Masters.

David: I thought it was significant that they were all, except for the first one, the “Director of Work”, defined based on their knowledge of the symbols of Masonry and of the Scottish Rite system. It says that “Architects” should be “capable of discoursing upon Masonry; illustrating it, and discussing the simple questions of moral philosophy.”

Gene: I saw that, too. Knights - “should inquire whether Masonry fulfills, as far as it ought and can, its principal purpose.”

David: And, the Almoners are only those among the Knights “who have sufficient reading and information to discuss the great questions of philosophy.” Orators use their knowledge to keep Masonry faithful to the spirit of the institution and Masters oversee the various parts of the Scottish Rite System and its Degrees.

Gene: I guess my summary of that part is just… that’s a very nice theoretical hierarchy described there.

David: I know what you mean.

Duties of a Master of a Lodge (22:47)

Gene: Anyway, this Degree is “Master of the Symbolic Lodge” and in last section of the Chapter, it says that either “As Master of a Lodge, Council, or Chapter, it will be your duty to impress upon the minds of your Brethren these views of the general plan and separate parts of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite; of its spirit and design; its harmony and regularity; of the duties of the officers and members; and of the particular lessons intended to be taught by each Degree.”

David: That requires a great effort and goes back to me asking if you wanted me to get you a Ph.D. by three-o'clock. You get out of it what you put into it.

Gene: Exactly. No one can do the work for you. You have to examine the symbols in the light of your own understanding and see how they fit for you… and not for any other authority.

David: Right. Because the authority has to be you… for you.

Gene: And you have to feel it, not just think it… which only happens if you work each Degree for yourself.

David: You do. I have one more quote from the Lecture - a Master is “to respect all forms of worship, to tolerate all political and religious opinions; not to blame, and still less to condemn the religion of others: not to seek to make converts; but to be content if they have the religion of Socrates; a veneration for the Creator, the religion of good works, and grateful acknowledgment of God's blessings: To fraternize with all men; to assist all who are unfortunate; and to cheerfully postpone their own interests to that of the Order.”

Gene: And my last quote is a continuation of that one which says that we are “to think well, to speak well, and to act well: To place the sage above the soldier, the noble, or the prince: and take the wise and good as their models: To see that their professions and practice, their teachings and conduct, do always agree: To make this also their motto: Do that which thou ought to do; let the result be what it will.”

The 47th Problem of Euclid (24:58)

David: Yeah. Don’t be desirous of a particular result. I guess that’s it for the Degree Lecture. Let’s look at some of the symbols of the Degree. We talked about the number nine earlier, and we said that the nine candles in the Degree Ritual formed a right triangle.

Gene: Which referred to the “47th Problem of Euclid” aka the “Pythagorean Theorem”. So what is the significance of this figure?

David: I think the most significant thing is that trigonometry emerges from it and allows it to be used as an analogy in almost every field. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia, “Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies relationships between side lengths and angles of triangles. The field emerged in the Hellenistic world during the 3rd century BC from applications of geometry to astronomical studies.”

Gene: And by studying the angles of stars and their apparent movements, they could estimate distances and predict future movements.

David: Yes, just by making analogies to a simple triangle with the same configuration. Some of the other fields where trigonometry is used are physics, acoustics, optics, music theory, audio synthesis, architecture, electronics, biology, medical imaging (in CT scans and ultrasound), chemistry, number theory…

Gene: Lordy, lordy!

David: cryptology… I know… surveying, seismology, meteorology, astronomy, oceanography, navigation, image compression,  phonetics, economics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer graphics, cartography, crystallography and game development.

Gene: Where did you get that list man?

David: Mostly from Wikipedia, but I’m sure it’s not complete. I just wanted to list all that I could find to stress that one of the key quote-unquote secrets of this Degree is the actual versatility of the “Pythagorean Theorem” itself… and I mean it, the equation… not it as a symbol.

Gene: No, I get that. Studying the theorem and understanding how you might apply it to  whatever field you’re in… and then seeing how it links to all those other fields. That’s the amazing part because you realize that there has to be an underlying pattern for the same theorem to hold in so many fields. It’s a basic law of reality.

Square Work (27:15)

David: It is. And it serves as a powerful analogy. It defines what a right angle is - how to form one, how to measure it, how to recreate it on various scales.

Gene: It’s also how to go from a square to a perpendicular, or how to be square and upright. Squared means a ninety degree angle on a plane and upright means ninety degrees perpendicular to a plane.

David: So basically the formula serves as an intellectual or spiritual replacement, or actually an improvement on, the physical tools of the Square and Plumb.

Gene: It really does.

David: So in light of that, what do you think is meant in the Degree Ritual when it says that a “Master of the Symbolic Lodge” is to “bring up square work only”?

Gene: Well, first I’d say that you have to be square yourself or your judgment of what constitutes “square work” will be off.

David: What does it mean to be squared in yourself?

Gene: That you form that right angle by balancing the material and spiritual in yourself to achieve equilibrium. You are the hypotenuse. Ku ku ka choo.

David: Now there’s a catchphrase!

Gene: For the select few.

David: The very few. But it’s actually the primary analogy of this Degree. The triangle in the Theorem has a horizontal, a vertical and a diagonal line. The horizontal line symbolizes the material world. The vertical represents the spiritual dimension and the diagonal line, the hypotenuse, is what connects them. So, esoterically, that line is you… your consciousness. It’s the mediator between the two.

Gene: So you have to constantly adjust to keep things balanced and in harmony. I mean because the physical circumstances are constantly changing.

David: Yes. It’s not a static equation. It’s ongoing and in real time.

Thoth (29:01)

Gene: And being in the middle like that, between the physical and the spiritual, that was how the Octagon was described in the Degree Ritual. It said the Octagon was the intermediary between the Square and Circle or between Material and the Spiritual.

David: And I think that is the primary theme of this Degree, becoming an intermediary.

Gene: It is. And it’s been the theme really from the beginning. Hiram served as our archetype at the beginning. The ideal we were supposed to strive for. The “God Man” so to speak. Then, we talked about Jesus as the intermediary between God and Man. And then the Logos as the Word of God, the Creative force. In the last degree, it was Melchizedek as “Priest of the Most High God”. His mouthpiece if you will.

David: And in this degree, it’s Thoth or Hermes. He’s the archetypal “Grand Master of All Symbolic Lodges”.

Gene: He’s the Egyptian god of writing.

David: And writing itself is a mediating force. It turns thoughts into artifacts - symbols, letters and words.

Gene: You could say that those artifacts are the “word made flesh”, or given a body, and that what they symbolize, and mean, is the spirit.

David: That’s nice.

Gene: And Thoth is often shown with a quill which he writes with. So the point of the quill is where the action takes place. It’s where spirit becomes matter.

David: What does that say to you?

Gene: Be the quill grasshopper.

David: I know what you’re saying there. In Shamanism that’s called the “Hollow Bone”, to make yourself into a clear channel for inspiration to flow through.

Gene: To get out of your own way.

David: Right. I have one more thing about Thoth. He was associated with both the Sun and the Moon meaning he represented both Strength and Mercy and therefore is the archetypal “Master of the Lodge”.

Gene: And I had one more thing, too. The Egyptian ibis is associated with Thoth and it’s white and black. So it has the same symbolism. It combines the light and the dark.

Conclusions (31:05)

David: So what was your takeaway from this Degree?

Gene: Umm… I’d say it’s, like Pike said, a return to basics.

David: What basics are you talking about?

Gene: Don’t get caught up in the bells and whistles of philosophy. Square yourself, and the rest will follow. What foundation are you basing your actions on… or is there one? How good of a judge are you of yourself? Because if you can’t see who you really are, you can’t judge others fairly. My summary would be that you have to find your moral center and lead from that. 

David: That’s a great summary.

Gene: What about you? What’s the deepest thing you saw in this Degree?

David: Just more about the Logos as the root of rationality or reason.

Gene: What do you mean by that?

David: We’ve talked about the Logos as inner judgment, but in this degree it’s portrayed as mediator, like Thoth or Hermes. It’s the bridge. It connects and divides things. It dissolves and recombines. It’s the esoteric truth of the basic mechanism of how we remember things and also how we think. A Master uses parables and allegories as a teaching mechanism in order to bring “up square work only”, because they mean to impart not just a lesson, but a way of thinking. And that’s why this Degree is called “Master of the Symbolic Lodge”.

Gene: Why do you think it’s called that?

David: I’ll answer that question with a question.

Gene: OK.

David: Where is the “Symbolic Lodge”?

Gene: Ahh. In your mind.

David: Yeah.

Gene: That is deep brother. I like that.

David: That’s all I’ve got. Do you have anything else?

Gene: No. I think that would be a good place to end.

David: OK. So, what are we doing next time?

Gene: In our next episode, we discuss the 21st Degree - Prussian Knight.

David: So… I’m David.

Gene: And I’m Gene.

David: Join us next time as we continue our exploration of “Morals and Dogma: The Annotated Edition”.

Gene: As we walk the Way of the Hermit.

Degree Ritual
Purpose of the Degree
Morals and Dogma
Ignorance and Innovations in Freemasonry
The Meaning of Masonic Titles
Masons Kneel Before God and Honor
The Scottish Rite is a Teacher of Great Truth
Masonry Teaches by Parable and Allegory
Exercise Humanity to Those Beneath You
Masonry is the Performance of Duty
Duties of the Masonic Classes
Duties of a Master of a Lodge
The 47th Problem of Euclid
Square Work