The G in Freemason stands for “Good”, or so the masons say. Or perhaps it stands for “Geometry”, “God” or even “Great Architect of the Universe” – or any of a number of other possibilities. Depending on which source you consult, the answer to this question will vary wildly.
There are many different theories about what that single letter represents. The letter G is also used to signify the third degree in most jurisdictions. The same letter is used to represent different words in different contexts depending on the organization and the meaning intended by its members when using that character.
However, an early document called the General Scheme (1721) stipulates that the G is an abbreviation for geometry. Given this information and other clues from various sources within freemasonry, we can come to an understanding of what this small letter signifies in context with freemasonry as a whole.
What Does “G” Mean in Freemasonry?
Freemasons are a fraternal society, meaning they are a society of men who come together and form a bond of brotherhood. They do not work together as a trade union or contractor’s group but are instead a group of individuals who come together for mutual support and assistance. A masonic lodge usually consists of at least seven members, of whom three must be officers. The most important of these officers is the Worshipful Master, who presides over the lodge, assisted by two other officers called the Senior and Junior Wardens. Freemasons meet as a lodge, a chapter, or a lodge and chapter combined, to develop fraternalism and cultivate “the Science of the Human Nature”, which is the study of psychology. The objects of their society are charitable, benevolent, educational, literary, and scientific. The tools for their trade are the common gavel, a trowel, and a compass. The gavel is used to call the group to order and end discussions, the trowel is used to mark a book or a scroll as a record of their meeting, and the compass is used to draw circles and make figures on paper that represent human nature.
Freemasons are often referred to as a “brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.” As such, there is a general assumption that God is important to freemasons or that they reference God in some way or another within their society. It is important to note that there are many different types of freemasonry with many different branches. Therefore, it is important to consider the type of freemasonry one is discussing when attempting to ascertain what role God plays within it. As far as the York Rite is concerned, one of its degrees is the Royal Arch Degree. Within this degree there is a reference to God as the “Great Architect of the Universe.” This is one of the few times the name for God is specifically given within freemasonry.
Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU)
Like the above, this is a degree within the York Rite of Freemasonry. The main difference between this degree and the discussion of God within the Royal Arch Degree is that the term Great Architect of the Universe is used in place of God. This degree is broken down into two sections. The first section discusses “The Lost Word” and is an attempt to discover what the original word inscribed on the “Inner Guard” at the Temple of King Solomon was. The second section discusses the tools and furniture of the Temple, including the “Inner Guard” that has the lost word inscribed upon it. It is from this lost word that the term Great Architect of the Universe originates.
Freemasons are often accused of worshiping geometry. Some have even gone so far as to accuse the Freemasons of being a “secret society” based on the worship of geometry. The truth is that the Freemasons are interested in geometry, but they do not worship it. Geometry is the science of measuring and constructing figures, usually with a ruler and compass. The earliest known Masonic document that survives is the Dunckerley Manuscript (1690). This is a “clock-paper” that was drawn up as a record of a lodge meeting. It is a “generic document” and very similar to the current ones. It shows that the Freemasons were using a compass and ruler (the tools of geometry) as early as 1690.
Good and Great Men, as well as Good and Evil Men.
When one compares the Freemasons to other societies like the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar, it is easy to see where one might come to the conclusion that the Freemasons are “good men”. However, one should also consider that these “good men” were often referred to as “good and great men”. This is an important point because it signifies that not all “great men” are “good men”. In fact, there are many evil and wicked men who have been great men in the past. These men may have been great in society and culture, but their character is far from good. It is important to keep this in mind as one studies the Freemasons and attempts to ascertain their real nature.
The “G” in Freemasonry stands for many different things depending on the group being discussed. As such, it is difficult to come to a conclusive answer to what the “G” in Freemasonry stands for. The best answer is that it stands for “Geometry”, the “Tools of the Trade” of the Freemasons. If you are interested in more Masonic articles and Masonic Facts, click here.