Back to Page 2 The Master Mason's Perambulation

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 brought low.

      (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 explanatory.

    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

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