(mentioned repeatedly in 'Revolution No. 9', a Beatles song on The White
Reference is made in The Lion and the Covenant to Masonic numerology. The Freemason movement uses a large variety of symbols to express its spiritual and allegorical themes. One aspect of these is that Freemasons will be able to recognise special meanings and purposes in particular numbers that are hidden to outsiders. However this does not mean that any particular Mason will recognise all of these, as any specific example may be introduced at a certain degree or level of Masonry. However, all Masons will of course be aware of those revealed in and below those degrees they have already achieved.
The use of Masonic numbers as esoteric knowledge and sacred numerology in the manner described in The Lion and the Covenant is controversial, and denied by some Freemasons. However non-Masons should be aware that "hidden" knowledge imparted in various Masonic degrees may be sealed off hermetically from preceding degrees, so in particular cases individual Freemasons may in fact know less about these matters than those outsiders who have made a thorough study of them.
Some examples of Masonic numerology appear below. Five numbers only have been selected.
Please note that this list is illustrative only, and in no way exhaustive either in numbers, descriptions or examples. No attempt is made to describe the symbology involved in its fuller or deeper senses.
THREE : the preeminent number for Craft Masonry (Craft Masonry = the first three degrees, namely Entered Apprentice, Fellow of Craft and Master Mason. In the USA this is often called Blue Lodge Masonry).
Possible references include: Three levels of the stonemason's craft (as above). Three as a symbolic number in the Bible; the Holy Trinity; the three virtues of faith, hope and love/charity; unity. The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet (G) as a Masonic symbol for God, the Great Architect of the Universe, the Grand Geometrician.
Saying: Three make a lodge (as in three Masonic officers).
In the three Craft degrees there are:
three principal officers
three original Grand Masters
three supporting pillars
three lesser lights
three greater lights
three movable jewels
three immovable jewels
three steps on the Master's Carpets
the three-storied temple
A special meaning for three in the 47th Problem of Euclid
Other connotations include: The first three Masonic lodges, claimed as the Tabernacle, Solomon's Temple and the rebuilt Second Temple; the number of the Triangle; a representation of the Deity and the Divine.
NB: Three is recognised as a special symbolic number throughout Freemasonry, and continues to have additional significances in higher degrees.
For example in Royal Arch Masonry:
The three arch stones;
the three Principals of the Chapter
the three Most Excellent Masters
three equilateral triangles
the triple tau sign
In the Ninth Degree, the three items contained in the Holy Ark of the Covenant (viz. the Tablets of the Law, Aaron's Rod, the golden pot of manna).
This number is of course two threes placed together. It represents the highest degree achievable in Scottish Rite Masonry, and is therefore a "supreme" number. Thirty-three is also a Janus-number, because it is the age at which both Jesus Christ and Alexander the Great died. So one face represents Jesus, the supreme Prince of Peace, the other face Alexander, the supreme Prince of War. Thirty-three has other hidden meanings too.
NINE: Nine is a number representing wholeness and completion as expressed in the Royal Arch, one of whose meanings is the Vault of Heaven, and therefore is especially significant.
Possible references include: Three times three; three plus three plus three.
Sayings: Q. How shall I know you to be a Royal Arch Mason?
A: By three times three.
Three Times Three, Under a Living Arch.
(note the three T's in this expression, as also expressed visually in the Triple Tau sign)
In Royal Arch Masonry:
nine arches in the secret vault of Solomon under Temple Mount.
the nine-branched menorah
An association with the secret name of God
In the Thirty-Second Degree ( = Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret)
the nonagon (nine-sided figure). This is a primary figure of ritual in this degree. It contains within it, successively, a pentagon, a triangle and a circle.
Other connotations include: the High Priest (First of Nine); Joshua.
* For information about a surprising link between "3" and "9" found nowhere except in "The Lion and the Covenant", see the second question on the Readers' Questions page.
Seven is used throughout the Book of Revelation and elsewhere in relation to prophetic issues, and is a major symbolic number in the Bible. Also in the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant is carried around the walls of the city of Jericho for seven days by seven priests sounding seven trumpets, resulting in the collapse of those walls. Here the power of the Ark is depicted as expressing itself through numerological channels.
Seven also has esoteric meanings in many cultures, and is widely regarded as a "lucky" or highly significant number. It is sometimes found in combination with two in Masonic practice (e.g. the 27th has often been a favoured Masonic date for events).
some Masonic usages:
the seven cardinal virtues (as taught by Demolay, the Masonic youth group)
seven steps (in the 9th degree)
seven plus two (= nine, representing fulness or completion)
the five signs
the five-pointed star
the pentagon (five-sided figure)
the five Points of Fellowship,
the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle (the highest number in a five, four, three ratio)
the Soul and the Body
(in the thirty-second degree) the numbers 525 on a golden collar.
The Freemason's Magic Square (includes the fullness of nine)
Characteristics: Three rows & three columns of three numbers, containing nine internal squares. All regular alignments (horizontal, vertical and diagonal) add to 15. All numbers 1-9 are included. NB: If you add the numbers 1 to 9 you get 45, which if divided by the number of rows or columns (i.e. three) likewise makes 15.
It is possible to derive the Masonic compass and square symbol from this figure by a mathematical process that includes the substitution of the letter G for the number 5, as part of a cypher. In The Lion and the Covenant the cypher A==1, B=2, C=3 etc is used with dramatic effect to uncover a major Masonic secret (see chapter 37).
NB: The term Freemason's Magic Square, which is used by Masons themselves, should not be taken to imply that Freemasons practice magic of any sort.
Want to experience Masonic numerology in action unlocking the most startling secrets of the Freemasons? Then buy the new novel The Lion and the Covenant .
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The Lion and the Covenant 2009