Footnotes have been renumbered and moved to the end of the work.
This book contains words and phrases in both Greek and Hebrew. Greek
characters have been transliterated using Beta-code. Most of the Hebrew
words and characters are transliterated in the text by the author; those
that were not transliterated by the author have been transliterate in the
The Symbolism of Freemasonry:
Illustrating and Explaining
Its Science and Philosophy, its Legends,
Myths and Symbols.
Albert G. Mackey, M.D.,
"_Ea enim quae scribuntur tria habere decent, utilitatem praesentem,
certum finem, inexpugnabile fundamentum._"
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by ALBERT G.
MACKEY, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
To General John C. Fremont.
My Dear Sir:
While any American might be proud of associating his name with that of
one who has done so much to increase the renown of his country, and to
enlarge the sum of human knowledge, this book is dedicated to you as a
slight testimonial of regard for your personal character, and in grateful
recollection of acts of friendship.
Yours very truly,
A. G. Mackey.
Of the various modes of communicating instruction to the uninformed, the
masonic student is particularly interested in two; namely, the instruction
by legends and that by symbols. It is to these two, almost exclusively,
that he is indebted for all that he knows, and for all that he can know,
of the philosophic system which is taught in the institution. All its
mysteries and its dogmas, which constitute its philosophy, are intrusted
for communication to the neophyte, sometimes to one, sometimes to the
other of these two methods of instruction, and sometimes to both of them
combined. The Freemason has no way of reaching any of the esoteric
teachings of the Order except through the medium of a legend or a symbol.
A legend differs from an historical narrative only in this--that it is
without documentary evidence of authenticity. It is the offspring solely
of tradition. Its details may be true in part or in whole. There may be no
internal evidence to the contrary, or there may be internal evidence that
they are altogether false. But neither the possibility of truth in the one
case, nor the certainty of falsehood in the other, can remove the
traditional narrative from the class of legends. It is a legend simply
because it rests on no written foundation. It is oral, and therefore
In grave problems of history, such as the establishment of empires, the
discovery and settlement of countries, or the rise and fall of dynasties,
the knowledge of the truth or falsity of the legendary narrative will be
of importance, because the value of history is impaired by the imputation
of doubt. But it is not so in Freemasonry. Here there need be no absolute
question of the truth or falsity of the legend. The object of the masonic
legends is not to establish historical facts, but to convey philosophical
doctrines. They are a method by which esoteric instruction is
communicated, and the student accepts them with reference to nothing else
except their positive use and meaning as developing masonic dogmas. Take,
for instance, the Hiramic legend of the third degree. Of what importance
is it to the disciple of Masonry whether it be true or false? All that he
wants to know is its internal signification; and when he learns that it is