Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Five Principal Orders - Part 1: Describing the Orders

When Masons are passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft, we are bombarded with a great deal of technical information.  This information is difficult or impossible to understand while we are being initiated, and these important matters frequently go undiscussed in the normal workings of our lodges.

(In Pennsylvania Masonry, we are specifically told to engage in the study of the Five Principal Orders and given their names, but we do not have any legenda or lectures in our work that explain their significance to the Craft.)

For our interest in a short discussion of classical architecture, we can focus on the structural elements, namely the differences in the styling of the supporting columns.  In classical architecture, columns evolved throughout time to reflect the technology of the builders as well as the aesthetic sensibility of the times.  All columns are composed chiefly of three parts, the base, the shaft and the capital.  To which order a column belongs depends primarily on the proportion of the width of the column to its height, but more noticeably about the decorative elements that are used to adorn the capital and base.  A more intense study of these architectural forms will indicate many other elements that contribute to the classification of an order, but we will focus on the columns themselves.

Although the Principal Orders are five, two are actually derivatives of the original three orders, namely, the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian, also known as the Greek Orders.  In many lodge rooms, these are the orders that are used for the pedestals at the station of the Junior Warden, Senior Warden and the Worshipful Master.

The oldest of these is the Doric, which is most notable for originally lacking a base, and standing flat on its flooring.  Doric columns, found on the Parthenon in Athens, are decorated with vertical grooves, usually twenty around, which are thought to originate in imitation of ancient columns made of bundled wood.  They have a smooth, undecorated capital that joins to a square plate of material known as an abacus.  Doric columns have a proportion of six or seven times their diameter.  Since all columns are narrower at the capital than at the base, Doric columns look shorter and squatter than other columns.  The Lincoln Memorial also employed this order in its construction.

The Ionic column brought several changes to the simplicity of the Doric.  Because of advances in building techniques, the proportion of columns was changed to make them nine diameters high, thus allowing for taller construction.  The capitals of Ionic columns are decorated with a spiral figure known as a 'volute', whose name derives from the Latin 'voluta' or scroll.  It can only be speculated as to whether the Greek architects conceived of this shape from natural observations, such as snail shell, or by mathematical derivation.  Although lost in the mists of time, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World, was constructed with the Ionic order.  The Jefferson Memorial is another modern example of this order as is the Westmoreland County courthouse.

The Corinthian column is less mathematical and more sculptured in appearance.  In addition to the increase in its proportional height to ten diameters, the capital is richly decorated with small volutes and complex leaf-like structures, which are styled after the 'acanthus' leaf, a common flowering Mediterranean plant with fern-like leaves frequently used for decoration.  The Pantheon in Rome is the canonical example of this order of architecture and still stands today.  The U.S. Capitol building and the National Archives are decorated with this order.

The other two Orders are called Roman orders and are derivations of the Greek.  The Tuscan Order actually came into use long after the Greek period, but is listed first because of its starkness and simplicity.  The Tuscan is essentially an undecorated column and had a 'renaissance' in Roman architecture.  Its proportional height is also seven times the diameter.  Thomas Jefferson's famous home, Monticello, is decorated with Tuscan columns.

The Composite Order is not actually an order to itself, but is a later addition to classical architecture, consisting of various compositions of each of the features, generally that of the acanthus leaves and volutes in alternating arrangement.  It usually has a proportion of eleven or twelve times the diameter.  It was used in Ancient Rome primarily for triumphant arches, such as the Arch of Titus, which still stands in the Forum and commemorates the sack of the Second Temple at Jerusalem.

In the next installment, I will discuss the meanings of the various orders and their association with Masonic teachings.


  1. N.B.: I live and go to a lodge in Westmoreland County, PA.

  2. The Problem in our society are the Freemasons, aka masons. If they were to disappear, the world would be a farrrr.....better place!

    Masonry, the sure path to ruin. You may not see it now in the beginning, but you will as you progress in the craft and further yourself away from God and your Christian faith...

    For starters, masons are interested ONLY in accepting those that hold some position of importance or authority in society. If it is a would be or actual politician than even better! Masons do NOT accept regular joes, homeless, or unimportant lazy folk. Second, the hook is the so-called Believe in a Higher Being nonsense (be it Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim etc.). Third, as the mason progresses through the stages in the craft, the end goal for him is to realize that He does not need God because the transformation has occurred whereby the member realizes he is a God unto himself. Moreover, the ceremonies he participates in are Occult period and anti-Catholic (Christian), Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist. They are demonic period.
    Fourth, it is the duty of every mason not to knowingly or wittingly do harm, talk bad about or tell on his fellow mason. And, when a fellow mason is in need or danger to help him above all else. Therefore, this is the WHY it is so simple for the pedophiles within the occult mason organization to easily rape, molest, enter children with impunity. Some use mikey Finn, or simply get vulnerable children in exchange for cash to their families who need it. No fellow mason can, or is allowed by their own acceptance of the rules when entering the craft, to "tell" on one another. Hence, the perfect crime.
    Fifth, just to clarify, the end game of masonry, which also is the de facto mission of the occult, is to slowly like hairloss, have it's members deconstruct all that is descent and Holy in society. Masonry and Catholicism are non-congruent. This is why every mason has a duty to oppress society (one of the masonic central tenets is: Through Chaos Comes Order, and it is the masons that will establish their occult order unto society). This is the reason why they work hard to destroy all that is sanctity in society and impose demonic teachings (For example: no Lord's prayer, gays and lesbians and 1/2 and 1/2 are a good thing,not a mental disorder which it is and if you oppose this you are racist of some sort. Have an abortion because it is not a human you have inside you but a piece of pepperoni, flood countries with muslims who NEVER integrate and are shut-in and by nature only impose on all their religious ways of thinking at all costs etc.).
    And lastly, If one is a Catholic one cannot become a freemason. DO NOT be fooled by the masons and their lies. It is a mortal sin and excommunication to follow. If it were up to me i would banish masonry peiod, jail the pedophiles and bring forth to the Hague International Court all masons to pay for their Crimes Against Humanity. Hopefully, some day, this will occur.