The First Degree Retejador

NOTE: This article is translated from the original Spanish. The terms ‘Retejar’ or ‘Retejador’ (used throughout the article) are used in Spanish for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and means ‘Exam’ or ‘Examiner’ or to ‘Reweave’. ‘Retejar’ – can mean to ‘re-weave’, or more pertinently to ‘re-tile’ – to put the missing tiles on a roof and order those that are out of place.   In a Masonic sense ‘retejar’ means to take cover from the profane indiscretion.

The First Degree Retejador

Talking about the Retejador Examiner [1] of the First Degree is a matter of a deep Masonic initiatory sense that can hardly be exhausted in the exposition of an article, but not before having experienced the true meaning of Masonic initiation.

The Examiner of the First Degree, is possible to approach from two sources: a theoretical one contained in Masonic books and magazines – experiences and knowledge of other QQHH, and another practice based on my experience inside the Masonic temple, seeking from both sources arrive at a brief all harmonic and coherent between the exotericism and esotericism of the symbolism of the Examiner of the First Degree.

In my opinion, the symbolic meaning of the First Degree Retejador is an attempt to answer four questions that I consider basic and fundamental in the search for all knowledge, being these: the what, the why, the how and what for, of the Examiner.

Working on this article itself is an attempt to probe the initiatory symbolism of the Freemasonic Order and its expression to the degree to which it is worked.

Paracelsus said that fire and life were alike in that in order to survive, both had to feed on other life; so, the word to stay alive needs to feed permanently on ideas and thoughts.

What is ‘lattice’ ?

In a profane sense, that is, the Apprentice is understood to be included inside the Masonic temple, to re-tile is to walk the roofs putting the missing tiles on it, that is, it is a careful examination of the roof to recognize it in its just and perfect condition.

In a Masonic sense, latticework is, first, recognition. A recognition that has successfully passed the examination of the ceiling, which in this case is a symbol that covers or protects the man who as an Apprentice wishes to enter the temple.

To retejar* is to take cover from the indiscretion of those who, as laymen, have not been initiated into the mysteries of our order and are not prepared to receive the intensity of Masonic light. Likewise, ‘retejar’ is an authentic code encrypted before the curiosity of the Initiates who, by recklessness or lack of discretion, betray the secrets entrusted to them.


Re-roofing goes beyond a purely mechanical and daily control procedure to who knocks on the doors of the temple, re-roofing is in itself a ritual, a discipline that encompasses the art and initiation science of being with yourself and with others, founded on deep observation of psychology and human nature – knowing oneself in order to get to know and recognize others beyond their clothes and vestments – being at bottom a powerful means of teaching and education in the Freemasonic Order, that tends to create in each brother the perfect control of his word and his action.

Participating in this ritual are: the weaver – weaver, man who does the work; the roof, which is the Apprentice (a layman with an apron) who wants to enter the temple; and retejamiento = Exam, which is the form or procedure by which the Apprentice is examined to recognize him as such.

The Retejador, who by the nature of his work is an awake man – otherwise a blind man could hardly recognize art, science and light – examines the roof – the Apprentice – by the Sign, the Word and the Touch; being these three elements those that compose the Examiner of the degree that was given to us in the Ritual of initiation, in the ceremonial secret.

To examine, is to recognize by the Sign, the Word and the Touch, the symbolism of the Masonic secret.


Why retejar ?

The Examiner of the First Degree reminds us of our animal nature – passions / emotions – and at the same time our mental nature – mind/energy – called by some spirit.

It is then reinterpreted, because we are habitual animals, imperfect and symbolic, therefore, animals in transit towards the ideal of man to which the universal Freemasonic order aspires, which paradoxically is not the cubic stone, since the stone it serves is the useful stone.

As animals, as Charles Dickens and many other writers and philosophers have already said, when we repeat the same routine over and over again, we automatically do it without thinking; we create comfort zones in our consciousness, gradually losing the art of thinking, reasoning, creating and feeling.

Faced with this reality, we need the rite and the ritual so as not to fall and return to the dream state in which we found ourselves moments before receiving the Masonic light in the initiation ritual, therefore, the Retejador of the degree as a ritual in itself invites the rite that keeps us awake in the initiatory light of our order.

Being imperfect animals, every man who comes to knock disorderly on the doors of a Masonic Temple, comes full of imperfections, selfishness, unbridled passions, false values, which are the characteristics, the background, and the way of human life.

 In the face of our human imperfections, we need the permanent examination of the Retejador of the degree, as a control light, beacon and guide, to avoid falling into recklessness or the lack of discretion that reveals the secrets that have been entrusted to us, or those secrets that by our intuition and incessant search we have been discovering progressively, by virtue of the tools that freemasonry has provided us with.

Being symbolic animals in a double sense (profane and initiatory) we can ask ourselves:

Why do the ancient Egyptians adore animals?   Why do Christians adore the lamb and the dove?

Humanity wanted to flee away from animality from Egypt, with Israel, towards the desert of ‘pure reason’ and continues to err with Israel today.

The Neokantian philosopher Ernst Cassirer already describes us as symbolic animals to define the nature of the human being, based on the principle that the main characteristic of man is his ability to symbolize and that the best way to understand him is the study of the symbols he creates in his life in society.

Aware of our condition as symbolic animals, we need the light of the Retejador of the degree to progressively rise from our instinctive condition, towards the intellectual condition, and from the intellectual condition, project ourselves towards the level state of intuition.

Progressive evolution, instinct-intellect-intuition, matters – one of the reasons why we have the Examiner of the degree.

The Retejamiento and Retejar ?

The Retejamiento [Exam] is the art of putting the pieces (levels of consciousness) on the always unfinished roof (mind-mosaic) of man.

It is by retejar [to re-tile], the Retejamiento is done; standing upright, in position to the Order, that is, making a Sign, by means of a mysterious Touch with the hands and transmitting from mouth to ear the Sacred Word.

Tiled roof

The feet transfer man to his destiny – the temple and its symbolic-initiatory journey through the celestial vault; the hands created the fire by rubbing two flints – purification and initiation by fire; and the words convey our message to others and to the universal mind – in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with and the Word was .

It is reflected by the Sign, the Word and the Touch: recognition trilogy.

The Sign

The sign contains esoteric geometric figures. No one enters here if they do not know the geometry.

This was the warning that kept neophytes away from Plato’s school.

The Sign generates in its interpretation three trilogies; it has a form and a background, a body and a spirit, an appearance, and a double meaning.

When making the Sign, three geometric figures that signify Justice, Equality and Social Progress are manifested in it.

We represent this by the Square, we associate it with the Level, and the perpendicular or plumb line.

Esoterically it means the punishment that the Apprentice would prefer before revealing the secrets that were entrusted to him.

It also represents the silence that the Apprentice voluntarily keeps in learning and practicing Real Art: knowing, loving, daring, and keeping silent.

The Word

Our Sacred Word B means Force, or in Him the Force, this word is unmentionable, it cannot be pronounced if not spelled in a very particular way.

In this respect and its explanation, it teaches us the teaching method of Freemasonry, which puts the Apprentice on the path of truth, giving him, symbolically, the first letter of the Holy Word; he must by himself find the second; then the third is taught so that he can find the fourth; and since the Apprentice cannot read or write, it is then that his sacred word B so must be simply spelled.

The word is Word, expression, thought that builds and shapes our mental universe.

Our Egregor, created with and by the word-thought, is our true vigilant, intelligence of the Word that learns and is perfected; thus the cosmos, the entire creation, contains a hidden face: its invisible and mysterious structure that makes it possible and that is its esoteric reality.

In the Verb is the work.

For this reason, the word is the measure of man because when the screen is shaken, the residues remain: thus, the residues of a man appear in his words.

The furnace tests the potter’s glasses, and the man’s proof is in their conversation.

The well-cultivated tree manifests itself in its fruits, thus the word expresses the nature of each one.

Do not praise anyone before you hear him reason, because that is where men are tested, even the Arcana of nature.

Words are the messenger and in no way the message.

The Universal Touch of the Apprentice is ancient, and it is where every test or examination of recognition always begins.

Expressing through the sense of touch the feeling of belonging and our quality as a Mason Apprentice.

The touching or touching beyond being a requirement of the exam, constitutes a form of externalization – in life and in the profane world – of the quality of initiate in the Freemasonic Order.

The touch is the way in which the fraternal bond towards those to whom it is united by bonds of brotherhood is manifested, in this way Charity is the main value and the Masonic virtue par excellence, which is manifested in the difficult moments that a brother, it is not just a gift of money or species.

There are other human attitudes that, without including one or the other, can contain greater generosity, and demand greater generosity, sanity, and maturity on the part of the initiates.

I am referring to an intellectual form of charity: the council.

The Touch symbolizes the facts, the works, the fruits of the Apprentice’s hands, the harmonious relationship between thought, word, and action.

So, by their fruits you will know them .

What is it for ?

What the Apprentice must learn, the Apprentice’s only and main job, for the Apprentice and with the Apprentice is to teach them to wake up, without it, everything else will be useless.

The Socratic imperative of ‘know thyself’ added to the imperative of know others as well, are an invitation for the Apprentice to begin his greatest battles which is battle against himself; an invitation and message whose symbolism is contained in the Examiner of the First Degree.

Learning to wake up is to begin to recognize our origin and nature.

In symbolic language we are the fruit – as initiates in the Freemasonic Order – of the copulation of the light angel and a human female.

The Son of the Widow. The race of ‘the descendants of the first light’ or Sons of Fire.

In the great drama of the Illustrious Brother Goethe, Mephistopheles says to Faust: ‘I am the spirit that always desires evil and evil and, nevertheless, always does good.’

It is through the intervention of our inner darkness that we can finally find the path of light.

The Examiner of the First Degree – which is made up of the Sign, the Word and the Touch – has for noble work and mission, to contain the symbolism of the Masonic secret of the awakening of consciousness hidden and asleep in the bowels of the raw stone: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem [V.I.T.R.I.O.L – ‘Visit the interior of the earth; by rectification you will discover the hidden stone.’]

Anagrammatical, alchemical figure representing “Vitriol” here taken to stand for Visita interiora terrae; rectificando invenies occultum lapidem (“Visit the interior parts of the earth; by rectification you will find the hidden stone”.) This from Stolzius von Stolzembuirg, Theatrum Chymicum, 1614.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

To walk through the Examiner of the First Degree is to seek light on the secret of its symbolism. It is to knock on the doors of the temple and that they are opened it is to ask for the light and receive it and it is to seek the path of truth and to catch a glimpse of its path

‘I have lived adorned by the beauty of death.’


*retejamiento, retejar – to re-tile; to put the missing tiles on a roof and order those that are out of place. In a Masonic sense ‘retejar’ means to take cover from the profane indiscretion.


[1]  In Spanish for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite the word ‘Retejar or Retejador’ is used.

retejar or retejador would mean something like an “examiner”, “recognizer”, “examine”, “recognize”.

Examine and or recognize a brother to recognize him in the grade in which he works.


Why is it reteja? = Why is it examined?

 In the first degree it serves to recognize the initiate.

Article by: Carlos Francisco Ortiz

Carlos  was initiated in 2015 in Equality Lodge No. 88.  Joined Fraternal Action Lodge No. 42 in 2018. (under the regular Grand Lodge of Chile)

During his university life, and before receiving Masonic light, he participated in the reorganization and foundation of Clans of the Youth Fraternity. Alpha Pi Epsilon.


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