Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Orders of Architecture

By Harvey Lovewell

Unless the candidate is professionally an architect, or intends on becoming one, this bit of information is surely not very useful. Or is it? Is there something hidden here for the candidate to learn by induction? I believe there is, and here is a meaning to consider. Classical architecture is classified into categories by the types of columns that supported as well as decorated the building.

Although the Romans were familiar with the arch, they generally used it only in utilitarian architecture, such as aqueducts. Temples and other public buildings followed the traditional means of supporting the roof by a series of closely spaced pillars or columns. And the Romans followed the Greeks in creating a sense of order and beauty by carving all the columns of a building in a similar manner. The earliest buildings used the simple technique of fluting of columns to make them seem slim and graceful, despite the sturdiness needed to hold up the great weight of the stone roof.

To keep the columns from sinking into the ground or punching through the roof they developed the concept of caps capitals on the columns. The way in which these capitals were carved determined the orders in architecture to which our lectures refer. The simplest is no capital at all, or only a rudimentary one the Tuscan which, although a late development, took simplicity to one extreme. The most ornate of the three types was the Corinthian a capital decorated with acanthus leaves, making the column to appear as if it were a living, growing support for the building. The Doric added a plain capital, and the Ionic added a scroll-like carving to the primitive capital. The Composite, in turn, blended the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian with the scroll-like capital of the Ionic.

In this manner classical architecture came to understand the Five Orders in Architecture. Is there any symbolic meaning here for a Mason? I think that there is. Our moral and masonic edifice our lives that we are building are in reality supported by symbolic columns that raise our effort toward the heavens. There is an understanding that if what we build remains low and unimposing, it will never inspire any others to imitate what we have built. But by raising the superstructure on columns of beauty as well as utility, our moral and masonic edifice soars into the sky. We choose the style in which we build, but all have an equal value, for all hold up the superstructure. Our understanding of life may be of the simplest variety Tuscan, if you will. On the other hand, others may build with great simplicity but also with great symmetry. Their lives are marked by consistency and order. They are the Doric and Ionic columns simple, honest, but also with a beauty of their own.

Others may achieve great things in life sometimes many great things symbolized by the Corinthian and the Composite. But all of us share the same values, the same understanding of Freemasonry, regardless of which order in Architecture we use. One definition of Freemasonry is that it is moral architecture. If so, then one of the beautiful lessons we learn from the Five Orders of Architecture is that diversity in how we build is of immense value. We are not all of the same religion or the same race or the same language. But we all erect buildings of superb beauty, according to our understanding of the art. We truly are engaged in building that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.


The number three (3) is one of the most used numbers in the Holy Bible, and it is in this vein the we seek the deepest meanings of the three(3) Pillars of the Outer Porch of King Solomon's Temple. While strictly Masonic in character, meaning they are not found in the scriptures, there are deeper meanings when coupling the Masonic teachings with the Holy Bible, and one will find food for thought in the readings.


In Freemasonry, we find five (5) Orders of Architecture with symbolic meanings of: Three (3) Principal Officers in a Lodge. Three (3) Stages of Life of Youth, Manhood and Old Age. Three Attributes of the God-head, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Three Great Lights in a Lodge. Two (2) Orders that don't mean a thing in Freemasonry.

The Orders are: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite, which are representative of the five human senses, which every candidate for the degrees must have, but, only three are needed to be known as a Mason and they are called the Three Pillars of Freemasonry.

TUSCAN (A Roman Column)

A Pillar of plainness, one given its name from the Tuscans and the pillar is simple but massive. Many a member of the Masonic Lodge is there as a bench member, as in church, does not do anything outstanding, is on no board or committee, and does not serve as an officer. Yet, without him, there would not be the numbers in the Lodge, so we must keep him.

DORIC (A Greek Column)

The second Pillar is different from the first even though it is Massive, for it is more massive or robust that the first and has a different Chapiter at the top, a circle which represent the oneness of God (Isaiah 40:22) and its massiveness represents the awesome power of God Himself. It is the first of the Greek Columns and represents Strength, the Pillar of the Senior Warden in the Lodge, one of Support for the Master in the opening and closing of his Lodge. He is the keeper of the wages of the craft and is to pay them out on the orders of the Master of the Lodge.

This pillar is emblematical of the West in direct contact with and for the Worshipful Master, both representing the sun as it travels from East to the West. It is a journey of life, rising and setting, doing so on the just as well as the unjust. It tells of the times as morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night, five (5) stations or areas of time. It is man in his infancy as well as in his seniority or his death. This Pillar is strength as it pays the wages of those that may become dissatisfied and become disruptive in the Lodge. Those wages are equal and are given to all members that work in the quarries of the Lodge.

It was Friendship that got you in the Lodge, Morality was the Lodge's teachings and Brotherly Love (Filios) is the highest from of Love found on earth. A mighty symbol of Strength, a mighty emblem of the man in control, a Mason of parade!

IONIC (A Greek Column)

The third Pillar is massive with a scroll or book at the top. It is a fluted column and it has a very important spot in the Lodge, for it represents Wisdom, the Wisdom of Solomon. Yet, it is simple in its beholding. Solomon was the wisest man known to man. However, Solomon was also the most foolish and that made him foolish in his beholding, for who needs 700 wives and 300 concubines?

The Pillar is fluted, showing the many attributes of a good Master as well as the authority and powers of the office of to which he has been elected. Even if one flute or one authority is lost, those that are left would be sufficient for the remainder of his term. Yet, the Master must be diligent in all aspects of his administration so as not to bring disgrace and ridicule upon the Lodge, remembering that he represents Solomon, King of Israel. In his wisdom, the temple was built, and in his wisdom the reputation of Jerusalem was spread around the known world. In his foolishness, he became week for women, but, that is not why God did not bless him. It was because he built temples and altars to the strange gods of his women.

The Worshipful Master is supposed to display wisdom for the Lodge and make plans for the successful programs of the Lodge. Still, he is not to be foolish so as to bring ridicule on the Lodge and must stand and act as an upright man should. He is emblematical of the book of wisdom that is displayed at the top of the column and is to keep his hand in the Master's hand. He is to be a standout in his home, his church and his community, so that others may say, here is a man and here is a Mason! He looks like a Master, and he is. This Pillar shows a thinking man, one that is worth to be called Rabboni (Master).

CORINITHIAN (A Greek Column)

Behold, a thing of Beauty, this Corinthian Column, fluted, with a spray of God's creation of beauty, flowers. The fern that grace the Chapiters of these columns gives the beauty of Ancient Greece, Corinth from which it gets its name. It is representative of the Junior Warden in the Lodge, an observer of Time, watching it as it rise from the East, superintends it as it travels in a Southern direction towards the West.

The Junior Warden represents Hiram Abif, the Widow's Son, sitting in the South. He also observes the craft when they are at refreshments. Seeing that they do not fall prey to the wiles of the evil one, one that may devour their soul, for he comes to kill, steal and destroy. The Pillar of Beauty is the final result when Wisdom and Strength work together. It is the summation of what to expect when you have Wisdom to contrive and Strength to support, then you will have Beauty to adorn. Strength cannot support and build without the planning of Wisdom, and Beauty cannot paint, carve or beautify if there is nothing.

In the Lodge, the Master puts plans on the Trestleboard. The Lodge, under the direction of the Senior Warden, supports the Master's plans and the Beauty of it all spells success.

COMPOSITE (A Roman Column)

Like the very first column, the last one, the Composite column is useless in the Masonic order. As the first one represents Taste, the last column represents Smell. We need the three Pillars for they represent Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, or Seeing (to see the sign), Hearing (to hear the Word) and Feeling (to feel the grip, whereby one Mason may know another in the dark as well as in the light). You need these three (3) to be a Mason, but you can neither taste or smell Freemasonry.

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