Mark Man

One early form of the lecture for the degree of Mark Man is as follows. S.W. denotes the Lodge official known as Senior Warden, while, W.M. denotes the Worshipful Master:

W.M: Brother Senior Warden, in what manner do we prepare our candidates in this degree?

S.W: As a fellow Craft, with the additional characteristic of this degree on his apron.

W.M: What is that characteristic?

S.W: The ten mathematical characters, to correspond with the nine figures and the cypher in arithmetic; the signature of Hiram Abiff and the mark of this degree.

W.M: Why is he thus prepared?

S.W: To denote the official duties of this class of Masons at the building of King Solomon's temple, and the discovery made by the brethren, when they were repairing the temple.

W.M: Being thus prepared, in what manner did you enter?

S.W: By three reports, varying in the sound from those of a Fellow Craft.

W.M: Having gained your admission, how were you dealt with?

S.W: I was conducted round to repair the temple in a manner peculiar to this degree, and having made a valuable discovery. I afterwards received a solemn obligation to keep sacred the secrets of this Order. After I had taken the obligation, and sealed it in the usual manner, I was raised in the ancient form of a Master Mason.

W.M: Having thus bound yourself to keep the secrets of this order, what were the mysteries with which you were then entrusted?

S.W: The sign, token, and word of a Mark Man.

W.M: What does the sign denote?

S.W: The penalty of the obligation.

W.M: Why was it introduced into this Order of Masonry?

S.W: To commemorate the signal used by our ancient brethren of this degree, when the first temple was erected in the city of Jerusalem.

W.M: What was that signal?

S.W: The trumpet.

W.M: Why was it used?

S.W: To denote the approach of danger.

W.M: What does the grip or token denote?

S.W: One of the penal laws of ancient Tyre united with the famous link of a Mark Man.

W.M: What does the word denote?

S.W: Everything past, present, to come.

W.M: Why was this grand, majestic, word introduced?

S.W: To hold in commemoration a very remarkable circumstance that occurred on the morning that the foundation stone of the temple was laid. Whilst King Solomon was in the act of congratulating our Grand Superintendent Hiram Abiff, on the occasion of his having discovered the celebrated problem in masonry and geometry, one of the precious stones fell from the royal crown to the ground, which, being perceived by the senior master of the Order of Mark Men, who, with the chief officers, were in attendance on this grand and solemn assembly, he picked it up and returned it to the king. This stone was of the carbuncle kind, and represented the tribe of Judah and our Saviour. It was formed into that great and glorious name, which King Solomon permitted to be used in the test word of this degree, in commemoration of its having been found by one of the chief brethren of this Order.

W.M: What was the original number of Mark Men at the building of King Solomon's temple?

S.W: Two thousand.

W.M: Who were they?

S.W: The Senior and Junior Wardens of the Fellow Craft's Lodges.

W.M: How many lodges of Mark Men were there in the city of Jerusalem?

S.W: Twenty.

W.M: Why limited to twenty?

S.W: In allusion to the height, length, and breadth of the sanctum sanctorum, or holy of holies.

W.M: How many Masons in each lodge?

S.W: One hundred.

W.M: What was the employ of these Mark Men?

S.W: To mark the materials, as they came out of the hands .of the workmen, to enable them to put them together with greater facility and precision, when brought from the quarries of Tyre, the Forests of Lebanon, and the clay ground of the Jordan, between the Succoth and Zarthan, to the holy city of Jerusalem.

W.M: What were the peculiar marks on that occasion?

S.W: Certain mathematical figures, consisting of squares, levels, and perpendiculars, that King Solomon commanded to be used on that occasion, which have ever since been denominated the Freemasons' Secret Alphabet or Mystic Characters .... Other legends of Freemasonic origin have claimed an unbroken line of descent from groups such as the Culdees, the Druids, the Roman associations of workmen known as the Collegia, and the Comacine Masons of Italy.

There is no clear indication when lodges of craft masons began to attract non‑operatives, or 'speculatives'. The earliest recorded instance of a non‑operative attending a lodge meeting is that of John Boswell of Auchinleck, who is recorded as having attended a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh in 1600. It is not until 1646 that we find a record of a non‑operative joining an English lodge. This was Elias Ashmole, the antiquarian and founder of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum.

In a diary entry for October 16, 1646, Ashmole records: "I was made a Free Mason at Warrington in Lancashire, with Col. Henry Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire".

The fact that such men were attracted to the lodges is an indication that these lodges were concerned not only with trade secrets, but had a core of more esoteric knowledge knowledge with roots in the ancient mystery religions, in primitive rites of death and resurrection.

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