Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beyond the Veils : The Apron

The most distinguished mark of a Mason is the apron.   Thus, great men like George Washington, Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio, when depicted as Masons, always have an apron on them.  While the Apron has multiple meanings, it always alludes to the inner states of the Mason - whether it is his character or levels of consciousness.   -  Editor

Candidates Apron 

An apron is worn by operative masons to preserve their garments from stain;  and thus, in speculative Masonry, the apron reminds us that we must keep ourselves from moral defilement;  or in the figurative language of the Holy Scripture, must keep our garments white and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.  White is a color which has always been considered as emblematic of purity and joy.  The apron is made of lamb-skin because the lamb has in all ages been recognized as the emblem of innocence, and was therefore chosen by God Himself to be offered to Him in sacrifice, as a type of great propitiatory sacrifice, the Lamb of God - the Lamb without blemish and without spot, that taketh away the sin of the world.  The Mason's apron is, therefore, not only a symbol ever reminding him of the duty of maintaining to the utmost possible degree Purity of heart and Purity of life, and of ever seeking greater perfection in both, but also of propitiation for sin, and the pardon ready to be granted to every one who seeks it in the way appointed.   I thus inspires him to work with hope, and that hope further encourages to further endeavors after those attainments which will make him a good man and a good Mason, exercising an influence for good amongst all around him - in the Lodge, in his own family, and in all the relations of life.  (Wm.W. Vickers, W.M., originally published in The Canadian Craftsman, June 1898)

The first, and among the most impressive symbols of Masonry to confront the candidate, to most initiates, is the apron.   The candidate is told that it is "an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason".   

What is "innocence", as the word here is used?  Surely not ignorance!  The lamb, the baby, the lily are "innocent", in the sense that they know nothing, especially nothing of evil.  But a man grown - and no male less than a man grown may be a Mason - must know evil to distinguish the good ...  The innocence is that of intent not to do evil, not of knowledge of evil.  The Mason is "innocent" when his heart is gently towards weakness, chivalrous towards those dependent upon him, tolerate of his fellow's weaknesses, forgiving of his brethrens' mistakes.

Beneath this is the really great meaning of the apron;  that of the dignity and worth of labor, the honor of being a workman, the glory of being a contributor to life and living.     (Torrione Lodge of Research, 1954,

Freemason Lambskin Apron

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You will find another hint of this teaching(of the higher self and the lower self in a human being) in another symbol of the craft :   the apron.

In the Entered Apprentice, the triangle fold is lifted up, symbolizing the separation between the higher self and the lower quarternary.  In the Fellow-craft, the lower square is folded halfway, symbolizing the partial subduing of the lower personality by the higher.  In the Master's degree, the square lap is fully covered by the upper lap, thus the lower self is fully mastered by the higher.   (Vicente R. Hao Chin, Jr., Introduction to Morals and Dogma)

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1.  The Apron is a symbol of the corporeal vesture and condition of the soul (not so much of the temporal physical body, as of its permanent invisible corporeity which will survive the death of the mortal part.)

2.   The soul fabricates its own body or "apron" by its own desires and thoughts (see Genesis III, 7, "they made themselves aprons")  ans as these are pure or impure so will that body be correspondingly transparent and white or dense and opaque.

3.   The investiture of the candidate with the Apron in each Degree by the Senior Warden as the Master's delegate for that purpose is meant to inculcate this truth;  for the Senior Warden represents the soul which, in accordance with its own spirituality, automatically clothes itself with its own self-made vesture in a way that marks its own progress or regress.

4.   The unadorned white Apron of the First Degree indicates the purity of soul contemplated as being attained in that Degree.

5.  The pale blue rosettes added to the Apron in the Second Degree indicate that progress is being made in the science of regeneration and that the candidate's spirituality is beginning to develop and bud through.  Blue, the colour of the sky, is traditionally associated with devotion to spiritual concerns.

6.  In the Third Degree still further progress is emblematized by the increased blue adornments of the Apron, as also by its silver tassels and the silver serpent used to fasten the apron-strings.  In the First and Second Degrees no metal has appeared upon the Apron.   The candidate has been theoretically divesting himself of all base metals and transmuting them into spiritual riches.   With Mastership he has attained an influx of those riches under the emblem of the tassels of silver, a colorless precious metal always associated with the soul, as gold by reason of its supreme value and warm color is associated with Spirit.   The silver serpent is the emblem of Divine Wisdom knitting soul's new-made vesture together.

7.   The pale blue and silver of the Master Mason's Apron become intensified in the deep blue and gold ornamentation worn by the Grand Lodge Officers, who in theory have evolved to still deeper spirituality and transmuted themselves from silver into fine gold.   "The King's daughter (the soul) is all glorious within;  her clothing is of wrought gold," i.e., wrought or fabricated by her own spiritual energies.   (Walter Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry)

 Past Master's Apron

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The Apron, which is made of lambskin, is in its fabric a badge of sacrifice.   The lamb in all ages has not only been a symbol of innocence but also an emblem of sacrifice.   He who wears this lambskin with an understanding must be prepared for the time when hard things are to be done, when trials are to be endured, and fortitude glorified.   A good example of which is of the 60,000 or so Freemasons interred in the Concentration Camp during World War II.   The crime for which they were there?  Being a Freemason.
(Christopher A. Harris, MPS FGCR)

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 The "Right of Investiture", the ceremony of emblematically clothing the candidate, is neither original nor unique to  Freemasonry.   Use of the apron in the Hermetic ceremonies of ancient Egypt is evident.   The apron was worn as a symbol of priestly power in the Levitican economy.   The Persian mysteries incorporated the white apron and, in the Hindustan, the investiture consisted of a scarf being tied around the candidate's waist.  Without question, the Operative Masons used the apron as an item of protective clothing.  (Plez A. Transou)

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"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering cna the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."  -  Helen Keller


  1. Where in Zamboanga City is the 17th Western Mindanao Masonic Convention be held?

  2. Hi,

    The Masonic Convention is at the Garden Orchid Hotel on November 12 & 13, 2010.

    Best regards.