Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
Qualified in all ways necessary and prepared in body and mind, the candidate approaches the lodge, the symbolic significance of which may now claim our attention. The term itself has been traced back to early languages by word scientists. One Masonic writer, Pierson ("Traditions of Freemasonry"), asserts that its most ancient form was the Sanskrit loga, which had the meaning of world. Other writers find different origins for it, too many to be catalogued here, especially since the philology of Masonic words and names does not come within the range of this study. The reader curious of such matters will find an overwhelming abundance in the New English Dictionary, and similar works of reference.
The definitions of the word "lodge" are as numerous and almost as diverse as its derivations. It is found to mean a hut or cottage; the cavity at the bottom of a mining shaft; a miner's cabin; a collection of objects, such as a "lodge of islands"; a small house in a forest; any covered place or shelter, a bird's nest, even; but among Masons it has been used to signify the organised body of Masons, or the room in which that body meets. In eighteenth century English Masonry it was used also to describe a piece of furniture similar to the Ark. When first found among the records of the Operative Masons it meant the building, usually temporary, and often little more than a shed, which served as general headquarters
for the Craft, being at the same time a meeting place, a banquet room, the "office" of the superintendents, and a store-house for tools and materials; occasionally it may have served for a sleeping place as well. As time went on the name of the building came gradually to signify the body of men using it, and thus arose our custom of speaking of the Fraternity itself as a lodge.
But over and above all this the lodge is used by the Ritual as a symbol, the chief, perhaps, among all our symbols, and as such it is understood as a mystical representation of the world. This use of it is more ancient than the others, for it connects up with ideas and customs of the early world. The peoples of antiquity who believed so thoroughly that power could be gained by imitating nature and the gods built their temples and the sanctuaries of their secret societies as miniatures of the earth, which they of course believed to be an "oblong square." Professor Breasted, who writes so fascinatingly of the Egyptians, says that the rich of old Egypt would even build their homes earth-shape, the floors made to represent plains and seas, the ceiling painted in imitation of the sky. This custom was of great value to the men of that day, for it threw something of the majesty of the universe and the sanctity of heaven about their daily tasks and their habits of worship. "All the most ancient temples were intended to symbolise the universe," writes Albert Pike, "which itself was habitually called the Temple and Habitation of Deity. Every temple was the world in miniature; and so the world was one grand temple."
Whether or not we stand in direct historical connection with this old custom we cannot know, but the fact remains
that our lodge, like the Egyptian temple, is a symbol of the Universe; and only when it is thus interpreted can we understand its characteristics at all. Its form is ideally a double cube, of old considered the symbol of Deity, and now understood as containing the Rough Ashlar of the Apprentice and the Perfect Ashlar of the Master. This form includes the heaven above, in its height; and the earth beneath, in its being an oblong square. Its situation is on "the highest hills and the lowest valleys" because it includes men of all ranks in its membership. In position it lies East and West, its length in the path of the sun, its portals in the West in order that the member may enter facing the East, the place of light, hope, and power. In dimension it extends east and west and north and south to signify its universality. It is supported on the Three Pillars of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty because these are the foundations of noble life; and its covering is the "cloudy canopy" of the heavens, which is connected with the earth by the mystic ladder of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Its furniture, its ornaments, and its jewels are flooded with a Light that shines through the windows of the East, the South, and the West; and an "All-Seeing Eye" keeps watch above it all. What a world is this into which the candidate is born, a visible representation of those invisible Truths and Spiritual Realities in which the pure of soul alone can live!
In this symbolic world, preserved in law and order as the real universe is, an otherwise discordant number of men become organised into a harmonious body, each member performing his appropriate function, and all co-operating in harmony. Through this co-operation the
influence of the individual is multiplied many times over, and what these men could not do separately they easily accomplish through united effort. The member who finds the eternal verities growing dim from absorption in the heat and burden of his daily task has them made real to him again as he sits in this sanctuary surrounded on all sides by the impressive symbols of God, of Truth, and of Immortality. Truly, the body of men thus living and working becomes itself an eloquent prophecy of the far-off coming of the Universal Brotherhood, and stands in the midst of a warring humanity as an earnest of the good time coming when the engines of war and the implements of all contention will be laid aside forever.