The Winding Staircase

I was reading an article by Don Harvey called, ‘Tips and Tricks on becoming a Master of your Craft’, and this gem shone out:

Practice + Effort = Skill.
Skill + Effort = Achievement.


In our journey to being the best person we can be, using Freemasonry as our guide to that end, I saw this simple phrase as:


Practice + Effort = Fellowcraft.
Fellowcraft + Effort = Master.

The Winding Staircase. – Steps to the Making of a Master.

Video Presentation

The common denominator is ‘effort’ – ‘the physical and/or mental capacity to achieve something’. (Cambridge Dictionary).

To achieve there must be a willingness and a desire to reach a goal. Without that willingness and desire to learn and be adaptable to change you can never become a ‘Master of your Craft’.

I put this question to you: in Freemasonry does ‘Master’ mean; ‘Mastered the Masonic ritual’, or does it mean, ‘Mastered a significant way of life’?

This is something I struggle with whenever it comes around to selecting the Master of a Lodge. Does mastering the ritual have more sway over mastering a significant way of life? Or vice versa.

The ‘ideal’ candidate, of course, would have both qualities.

In the first degree we find the ‘moral man’, in the second degree we find the ‘intellectual man’. A man who is continually developing his knowledge. At the time of the Guilds, in the middle ages, at the genesis of Freemasonry, higher education was in the form of the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The seven liberal arts and sciences.

The Trivium – grammar, rhetoric and logic.

The Quadrivium – arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.

These studies were intended to provide a general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities as opposed to professional or vocational skills.

The Trivium gave the learner the tools to understand language and reasoned argument whilst the Quadrium the means of calculation, both essential qualities of the educated man of the time.

Even today when going for a job or entering into higher education, qualifications in English and Maths in the UK at a general level are an essential requirement.

The symbolism of each step of the winding staircase is to continue your personal development throughout your life, right up to your last breath in this world.

Each day brings new challenges and each day we learn more about ourselves and the world around us. By using all of our senses we become at one with the universe.

As we pass up the staircase we pass each of the five noble orders of architecture from the plain column of the Tuscan through to the most decorated column of the Composite, showing the developing skill sets of your education in each step. They align with the five senses for when learning it is essential that all our senses are used.

A simple experiment is to close your eyes and just listen to what is around you. Now open your eyes and see what the noises heard relate to.

What extra information are you acquiring?

Now take hold of an object, how does it feel; rough, smooth, sharp, cool, warm?

What does it look like, colours, shapes?

Does it make a noise?

Does it smell?

What does it taste like?

We have applied our five senses and each sense brings more information, and so with the five noble orders of architecture. Each order requires a little more skill to complete.

So as we require more information through our senses our skill level advances to produce a column of exquisite design.

The steps are winding which symbolises the courage it takes to make each step into the unknown, for we are unable to see where the steps are leading us.

But with the strength given to us at our foundation, the courage of the moral man, and the hope that that brings we take each step with confidence and trust in our guide.

The first three steps indicate our moral development. Square conduct, level steps and upright intentions.

The second five steps our physical and skill based development and the third seven or more steps our intellectual development.

Self-development is a continual life process for as we learn we realise that, ‘the more we know the more we know we don’t know’, which in itself brings a desire to learn more. A daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.

Our goal is to reach the top of the staircase and receive the reward of our labours.

Make learning a habit for ‘Masters are made, not born!’ (Don Harvey) Enjoy every moment of every day for the purpose of life is happiness.



‘Tips and tricks on becoming the master of your craft’. Don Harvey.

Cambridge Dictionary.

Masonic Ritual. Lodge of Union No. 38

Article by: Stephen J. Goulding

Stephen was initiated into Freemasonry in 1978 in Tylney Lodge No. 5856 (UGLE). He was Master in 1989 & 2004.

He was Master of the Lodge of Union 38 (UGLE) in 2018. He is also a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch and PM in the Mark Degree.

Stephen served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (London, England) before going into education in 2000, where he became a college lecturer and a mentor for both the college and the University of Greenwich (London, England). Now retired, he teaches Tai Chi and Qigong in the community.

Facebook: Steve Goulding-Tai Chi West Sussex–Chi at Chi


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