Jacob left Beer-Sheva and set out for Haran. He came upon a certain place – Hb. THE place – and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.
Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream: a stairway – or a ladder – was set on the ground and its top reached the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.
And the Eternal was standing beside him, and God said:
“I am the Eternal, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. The ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and your offspring… Remember, I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you”.
Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,
“Surely the Eternal is in this place, and I did not know it!… How awesome is this place. This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to Heaven”.
– Genesis 28: 10 – 13; 15 – 17
This event happens in Jacob’s life at a transitional stage. Jacob is fleeing his brother, whom he had cheated by stealing his birth right, and he is heading to his uncle Laban’s, where he hopes to find a wife.
Jacob’s ladder is central to the first degree tracing board. Richard Carlile, in his Manual of Freemasonry, first published in a single volume in 1831, and many times in the following decades, explains:
The covering of a Freemason’s lodge is a celestial canopy of divers colours, even as the heavens. The way by which we, as masons, hope to arrive at it is by the assistance of a ladder, in Scriptures called Jacob’s Ladder. It is composed of many staves, or rounds, which point out as many moral virtues. Three are principal ones – Faith, Hope and Charity…
In Masonic rituals, this ladder is understood as a stairway, a passage from this world to the Heavens. It also symbolizes to a certain extent the journey of a Freemason towards the light.
Let us go back to the biblical text.
Jacob arrives at ‘the place’, which is often translated as ‘a certain place’.
According to Rashi, the French medieval commentator, this place is nothing less than Mount Moriah, the mount upon which the Temple of Jerusalem will be erected.
The Targum Jonathan, an Aramaic translation of the Torah, is even more specific.
It translates this verse as, ‘and he – Jacob – prayed in the place of the Holy Temple and slept there because the sun had set’.
In biblical sacred geography, the Temple Mount plays a central role. Before the Temple was built, encounters had already happened ‘in this place’, such as this story, or the binding of Isaac a few chapters earlier.
It is a place of revelation, where the veil between the worlds is lifted.
When the Rabbis had to reinvent Jewish religion after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., they used this verse to say that Jacob has instituted the evening prayer: ‘Jacob instituted the evening prayer, as it said, ‘and he encountered the place and he slept there’.
Encounter means nothing than prayer’ (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakhot, page 26b).
Jacob dreams of a ladder – or a stairway – which is called in Hebrew Sulam.
Sinai is the place of Revelation, the mount upon which God revealed the words of Torah with a loud voice.
The bottom of the ladder is on the ground, where Jacob is lying. It is as if this ladder was springing forth from Jacob’s body.
The top reaches the Heavens, and angels are first ascending, and then descending. Prayers go up first, and once they are heard, God responds.
It is a movement of the soul that is engaged in an eternal journey from this world to others, and vice versa. The door is open only when we make the effort to travel up.
The Targum suggests that these angels were those who were accompanying Jacob in his tribulations, and when he falls asleep, they travel up to bring his hopes to the Creator of All.
The vision of Jacob’s ladder. Colour lithograph by L. Gruner after N. Consoni after Raphael.
IMAGE LINKED: wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
The climax of the dream happens when God speaks. God renews the promise made to Abraham and Isaac of a land that will belong to their offspring.
But it goes further: I am with you; I will protect you. That is the answer to unsaid prayers, to hopes that Jacob didn’t dare to express when he was in this low point of his life.
And when he awakes from his sleep, Jacob says, ‘Surely, the Eternal is in this place, and I didn’t know it. This is the abode of God’.
Transcendence and immanence, this moment when two worlds meet, and communication is open.
There is no better biblical story for Freemasonry to symbolize the journey of a Freemason. The lodge has no physical roof. It is open to a celestial canopy of colours and stars.
The ladder depicted on the first degree tracing board allows the seeker to reach higher truths; it gives a direction and a purpose. It is not simply contemplation, but also action.
Jacob’s ladder is indeed a gateway to the world of action and creation, and it culminates in the world of Atzilut, intimacy, intimacy with the Self, and intimacy with the Higher Being.
Ace of Wands from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, associated with Atzilut in western occultism. Believed to be in the Public Domain.
IMAGE LINKED: Wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Article by: Rene Pfertzel
Rene Pfertzel was initiated in 1992 in Lodge Ouverture et Fraternité 1540, in the French Federation of the International Co-Masonry, Le Droit Humain.
After a gap of over 15 years, he re-joined Le Droit Humain in the British Federation, Lodge Hermes 20.
He has a PhD in Biblical Studies, and after a career as a history teacher in France, he retrained to become a Rabbi in London, and stayed in the United Kingdom ever since. He serves a Progressive community in Surrey.
Robert Carlile wasn’t himself a Freemason, but his work was used in English Freemasonry until the beginning of the 20th century as a source of study.
Rituals are not meant to be published, but we have works done by authors who ‘revealed’ some texts, sometime for educational purposes, sometime for less generous motives.
Kabbalah & Freemasonry: Becoming One With God
by Nebojša Nikolić (Author), Igor Solunac (Translator)
What is the secret of Freemasonry?
What is it that has held the world’s first and largest Fraternity together for centuries?
Why have the countless known and unknown Brothers diligently labored towards fitting their minds, “as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”?
In today’s world, most of the Masonic lodges have entirely forgotten—or have never even learned—where Masonry came from and what its original mission in the world was.
Many of the six million seekers of the Light around the globe blindly stumble through the darkness of that ignorance, going through the motions of various rituals without understanding what the “peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols” behind the organization they joined is really about.
To make matters worse, our modern age brought a proliferation of ludicrous conspiracy theories, muddying the waters even further and attracting many of those after materialistic gains.
On the other hand, after two millennia of deep secrecy, Kabbalah opened its gates wide to all genuine spiritual seekers. The long-hidden secrets—the nature of God, the Names of God, the Zohar, the Tree of Life, cosmic meaning of the Hebrew alphabet, creation of the world, the structure of reality—have been revealed to the world.
Originally published by the Regular Grand Lodge of Serbia in A.L. 6017, Freemasonry & Kabbalah: Becoming One With God is an important work that fills the gap in modern Masonic education.
The book introduces the 21st-century Brethren to the true essence of the Craft in a clear, approachable, and easy-to-understand language and without any undue mystification.
The author offers an overview and interpretation of Kabbalistic secrets and points out that the Craft is deeply rooted in this tradition.
Some of the basic Masonic postulates, incomprehensible to most modern Brethren, are easily explained through Kabbalah and its interpretations:
• Knowing thyself,
• Brotherly love,
• Immortality of the soul,
• Meaning of life and death,
• The Great Architect of the Universe,
• Cosmic meaning of silence.
After reading Freemasonry & Kabbalah: Becoming One With God, these and other concepts familiar to every Mason will acquire a new and fresh meaning, and the genius of the hidden founders of the Fraternity will start blazing across centuries with a renewed brilliance and Light.
Original Tarot Cards Deck
• CLASSIC DESIGN – Designed in 1910 by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite
• LINEN FINISH – Linen finish gives the cards a rustic and luxury feel
• CRISP GRAPHICS – Vectorized graphics with enhanced colors give a premium non-pixelated image
• THICK CARD STOCK – Durable 350 GSM paper ensures the deck will withstand regular use for years
• BRANDING-FREE – Branding-free cards for a more authentic experience
Recent Articles: symbolism
Mackey's 25 Masonic Landmarks
"The first great duty, not only of every lodge, but of every Mason, is to see that the landmarks of the Order shall never be impaired." — Albert Mackey (1856)
Salt, Wine, and Oil
It is common knowledge that the ancient wages of a Fellowcraft Mason consisted of corn, wine, and oil. Many however, object to this assertion. How can corn be associated with these ancient wages when—clearly—corn was first discovered in the New World? Discover how 'corn' may in fact be 'salt'!
How Holy is Holy Ground?
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
The Book of Law in Brazilian Freemasonry
We are informed that, Freemasonry it is not a religion, but the candidate has a belief in a creative principle, which later, we call the Great Architect of the Universe. - by Fernando Rodrigues de Souza
Due or Ample Form?
Due or Ample Form? What is ‘Ample’ form, when in lodges the term ‘Due’ form is used?
Mason's Marks – from Egypt to Europe?
Mason's marks have been a source of intrigue, not only to Freemasons but to historians and archaeologists. The use of simple pictograms have been employed for millennia by artisans to identify their work. But where did they originate and why?
Eight Schools of Freemasonry - Introduction
Follow this series as examine the 'Eight Schools of Freemasonry' that have developed over the centuries since its founding in 1717. This month we outline the series and the Masonic Conception of Education.
The Secret Language of the Stone Masons
We know of Masons' Marks but lesser known are the 'argots' used by the artisans - in part 2 of a series on the social history of the Operative Masons we learn how the use of secret languages added to the mystery of the Guilds.
So mote it be
The phrase appears in the Regius Poem. It is customary in contemporary English to end prayers with a hearty “Amen,” a word meaning “So be it.” It is a Latin word derived from the Hebrew word - Short Talk Bulletin - Vol. V June, 1927, No.6
Egypt's 'Place of Truth' - The First Operative Stone Masons' Guild?
Was ancient Egypt's 'village of the artisans' the first operative stone masons' guild? And was their use of 'identity marks' a forerunner of the Mason's Marks of the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages? Read on for some possible answers…
The Pieces of Architecture and the Origin of Masonic Study
Discover the journey of the Apprentice – from Operative to Speculative. This journey has been carried out since the times of operative Freemasonry but today the initiate works in the construction of his inner temple.
The Builders' Rites - laying the foundations operatively and speculatively
The cornerstone (also ‘foundation’ or ‘setting’ stone) is the first stone to be set in the construction of the foundations of a building; every other stone is set in reference to this.
If Found on the Level
Applying the working tools to achieve our peculiar system of morality.
Euclid's 47th Proposition
We take an in-depth look at the 47th Proposition of the 1st Book of Euclid as part of the jewel of the Past Master.
The Cable Tow Unbound
The Cable Tow: Its Origins, Symbolism, & Significance for Freemasons - Unbinding the significance of the cable tow.
Who was Tubal-cain?
Who was Tubal-cain, a biblical figure; a smith, and master of metallurgy?
The Great Journey
We examine at one of the most impressive moments of the initiatory ceremony, a certain rite known as Circumambulation, and ask what is its meaning and purpose ?
On the Level
So, what is the Level? And why do we use it in Freemasonry?
The Pigpen Cipher
What is the mysterious pigpen or Masonic cipher that has been used for centuries to hide secrets and rituals?
The Story of the Royal Arch - The Mark Degree
Extracted from William Harvey's 'The Story of the Royal Arch' - Part 1 describes the Mark Degree, including the Working Tools.
Ashlars - Rough, Smooth - Story of a Stone
How we can apply the rough and smooth Ashlars with-in a masonic context
The Chamber of Reflection
A detailed look at the Chamber of Reflection: A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice.
Faith, Hope & Charity
Exploring the origin and symbolism of Faith, Hope and Charity
The Noachite Legend and the Craft
What is it to be a true Noachidae, and what is the Noachite Legend and the Craft ?
In Masonic rituals, Jacob’s ladder is understood as a stairway, a passage from this world to the Heavens.
Meaning of the Acacia
What is the meaning of the Acacia and where did it originate ?
The Feasts of St John
What is the connection with the Feasts of St John and Freemasonry
Forget Me Not
The Forget-Me-Not and the Poppy - two symbols to remind us to 'never forget' those who died during the two World Wars.
The Two Pillars
Biblical history surrounding the two pillars that stood at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple
Judaism and Freemasonry
Is there a direct link between Judaism and Freemasonry?
The symbolism of the beehive in Masonry and its association with omphalos stones and the sacred feminine.
Corn Wine Oil
The Wages of an Entered Apprentice
The North East Corner
An explanation of the North East corner charge which explores beyond one meaning Charity - Extracted from William Harvey – the Complete Works
The Two Headed Eagle
Origins of The Two Headed Eagle, now associated with The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite
A Masonic Interpretation
A Masonic Interpretation of the Quran's First Two Chapters
Audi Vide Tace
The three Latin words -a good moto for the wise freemason
to be a better citizen of the world
share the square with two brothers
click image to open email app on mobile device
Masonic Aprons NFT
Each Tubal Cain Masonic Apron NFT JPEG includes a full size masonic apron and worldwide shipping