Squaring The Lodge

We square the lodge as a matter of course, but why do we do it, and is it a necessary part of freemasonry.

Freemasonry has a basis in geometry. Pythagerus is esteemed to be the father of geometry and was responsible for the introduction of many geometric calculations. The Pythagorean calculation which appears repeatedly in the Masonic ritual is the 90° right-angled square. It’s a very simple calculation and consists of the use of three numbers, vis. 3 - 4 - 5.

This is a 90° right-angled square. This side measures 3’ exactly, this side measures 4’ exactly, and to make these two sides into a right-angled square the measurement between these two points must be 5’ exactly

It is used in the building industry on a continuous basis and has been for several hundred years. No self-respecting builder would be without it, and every self-respecting operative mason knows how to use it. It is used for the setting out of every building and this, in simple terms, is how it is used.

The builder will mark where a corner of the building is going to be. If it is an important building that is to have a foundation stone, he will start at that corner. He lays the square down at the mark and strings two lines along the sides of the square to the extent of the proposed building. He will then move his square to the next corner and string another line along the side of the square. Then he will move his square to a third corner and string his last line thereby completing the outline of the proposed building. And he will build his foundation to those lines in the sure knowledge that his building is perfectly square.

As speculative masons, we use the 90° right-angled square symbolically, and we use it all the time. We make squares with our arms when we make the signs of the degrees. The due guard consists of two squares, the sign of fidelity, the sign of supplication and so on. In the 2nd degree, the J.W. is asked “What is a square” - “An angle of 90°, etc.” As masons we are known to be on the square, we meet on the square, we act on the square, and we part on the square. So quite obviously the square is an important and integral part of Freemasonry. But there is a deeper meaning to squaring the lodge and it becomes apparent in the perambulation of the lodge.

Every candidate and that brethren includes you and I, symbolically squares the lodge using the three important numbers, 3 - 4 - 5, by the time we are raised to the sublime degree of a master mason. Of course, we don’t realize that we’re doing it at the time.

In the 1st degree, the J.D. will conduct the candidate around the northeast corner three times. In the 2nd degree, the S.D. will conduct the candidate around the northeast corner four times. In the 3rd degree, the candidate will be conducted around the same corner five times thereby symbolically squaring the lodge.

We can’t string lines out like the operative mason but we do ensure that the foundation of our spiritual temple is properly set out by making our candidate square each corner as we perambulate around the lodge.

If the foundation of any building is out of square then the superstructure that sits on that foundation will also be out of square. Building spiritually is no different. We must, therefore, ensure that our symbolic foundation is perfectly squared so that when we build that spiritual temple within ourselves, it will be perfect in all it’s parts and honorable to us, the builders.

And that brethren is why we square the lodge.

Bill Douglas PM,
Kenilworth Lodge #29, G.R.A.