The Master Mason’s Perambulation Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 vs. 1-7
Brethren, this paper came about in a strange sort of way.
Worshipful Master Paul Buckner thought it would be a good time to present an interpretation of the perambulation of the
Master’s Degree (since some of the wording is vague in its references) during the meeting prior to the Past Master’s
Masters Degree scheduled for March 15, 1996. I was not aware of W. B. Paul’s work and I was working on the same thing
and at the same time. When I showed my work to him, he was as surprised as I to learn of our duality of
work. He gave me a copy of his work and with his permission, I combined both papers
into one, to which I have appended both our names. His research is from a Masonic bible
that he purchased just after he was raised. It is essentially Albert Mackey’s interpretations of these verses. My work is
a combination of Mackey’s, some of my own, and some
from various books that I have at home. These interpretations are strikingly similar, however, there are some fundamental
differences near the latter part of these verses where I
disagree with Mackey’s interpretations and have included both in comparative form. This
is not to say that Mackey is wrong, only that I disagree with him. Neither am I trying to
place myself on a par with this eminent scholar, for he is a much more accomplished
writer than I. Having said that, let us begin.
1. Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou
shall say, I have no pleasure in them.
(Comment) Brethren, this verse is telling you to remember your creator while you
are young and enjoying reasonably good health so that you may praise and thank Him for
His many blessings; that you may carry this praise into your old age as your health
starts to decline instead of waiting until you are old when you may not appreciate these
blessings and may feel something less than admiration for Him due to your ills.
2. While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened, nor the clouds
return after the rain.
(Comment) This verse is a continuation of the first; that while still young the
"sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars" are easily seen with youthful clarity.
3. In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow
themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the
windows be darkened,
(Comment) Man’s body is the temple or house of God and "the keepers of the house
shall tremble" is an allegory to the arms and legs of the body, whose function is to
provide its maintenance, trembling in old age. "The strong men shall bow themselves"
means that the men will stoop over from old age and long years of toil and labor. The
"grinders cease because they are few" refers to the teeth that have been lost over time
and eating becomes difficult. "And those that look out of the windows be darkened," is a
reference to the diminished vision of the eyes because they are the windows of the soul.
4. And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and
he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all of the daughters of music shall be
(Comment) "And the doors shall be shut in the streets when the sound of the
grinding is low" refers to the doors of opportunity, i.e. employment, etc. being closed to
the aged man. "And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird," refers to the crow of the
cock in the morning. "The daughters of music" are the physical means of making or
hearing music (the mouth and ears), and refers to the diminished capacity of the ears as
well as to the voice that has become weak.
5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way,
and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire
shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
(Comment) "When they shall be afraid of that which is high and fears shall be in
the way," has reference to the fear of death. "And the almond tree shall flourish," is a
parable to the white flowers of the almond tree to the white hair on the head. "And the
grasshopper shall be a burden" could mean that even the slight weight of the
grasshopper will be hard to bear, or it could refer to the eating of that insect, which
was and still is a common practice. "And desire shall fail" should be self explanatory;
your sex drive will diminish or abate. "Because man goeth to his long home," describes the
grave wherein his remains will be laid. The remaining part of this verse is self
6. Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be
broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
(Comment)Brethren, concerning the "silver cord," there are two schools of
thought on this subject that we will address here, Albert Mackey’s and mine. First,
Mackey has interpreted this as "the spinal marrow, its loosening causes a stopping of all
the nervous system and brings on the approach of old age and death." I, however, disagree.
Have you ever heard of astral travel? Or maybe you know it as an "out of body experience."
In almost every case, the person having this experience describes a "silver cord" that is
connected to both the astral (or spiritual) body and the physical body. They also knew,
or know, that if this "silver cord" is ever severed while in this state, they would never
get back to their physical body again -- their physical body would be dead. Here we have
a reference to this "silver cord" in the bible and its relationship with death. Yes? No?
Maybe? You decide. The "golden bowl be broken" is described by Mackey as the brain; I
think it is the skull, if it is fractured or broken. "Or the pitcher be broken at the
fountain;" Mackey’s interpretation is that it is the great vein that carries blood to the
right ventricle of the heart. I think it is the heart and all of its blood vessels. "Or
the wheel broken at the cistern." Again, Mackey thinks that it is the great artery that
receives blood from the left ventricle of the heart. My research has led me to believe
differently. The word for the potter’s wheel means "two stones." The "cistern" is a
vessel that holds water. Take your best guess! (The kidneys.)
7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God
who gave it.
Brethren, you are free to accept or reject any, all or part of these interpretations as
your belief directs you. This is simply an attempt on our part to bring further "light"
to the Masters Degree so that you may better understand it.
W.B. Paul Buckner
W.B. Bill Edwards
Riverdale Lodge #709