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Masonic Fire


Masonic Fire Origins and Meaning Hospitaliers Lodge September 2009 What is Masonic Fire Many of us were introduced to Masonic Fire on their Initiation Night During ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Masonic Fire

Masonic Fire
  • Origins and Meaning
  • Hospitaliers Lodge
  • September 2009

What is Masonic Fire
  • Many of us were introduced to Masonic Fire on
    their Initiation Night
  • During the Festive Board that normally follows
    most regular meetings, Toasts are drunk and these
    are followed by a choreographed routine of finger
    pointing and hand clapping
  • But what does it really mean?

  • There are very few references to Masonic Fire in
    the literature
  • One particular scholar, Bro. Yoshio Washizu , may
    have written what can be termed a seminal text on
    the subject
  • Masonic Fire is not part of the regular ritual,
    but as we will see further on, it is an attempt
    by Freemasons to regularise a popular occurrence

  • Bro. Washizu describes Masonic Fire as an old
    custom which may be derived from that of firing
    after toasts
  • Although he dates the custom of letting off shots
    during or after toasts to the mid fifteenth
    century, we may be forgiven for noting that the
    Chinese were letting off celebratory firecrackers
    invented by the priest Li Tian over 1000 years ago

Celebrations and Fire
  • Since then, many societies and cultures have
    included Fire in their celebrations
  • 21 gun salutes
  • Feu de joie
  • Middle Eastern use of small arms fire
  • Fireworks during celebrations

Masonic Interpretation
  • There is no real Masonic interpretation
  • Used in Freemasonry since early sixteenth century
    with the first recorded description in France on
    1730 and in England in 1760
  • These writings clearly associate Masonic Fire
    with the actions of loading and firing a weapon
    with powder
  • There is evidence that at some time certain
    movements were used further strengthening this

New Brothers Health
  • Each has his Bottle before him when they want to
    drink, they say, give the Powder, everyone rises,
    the Grand Master says, charge
  • The Powder, which is the Wine, is poured into the
  • The Grand Master says, lay your hands to your
    firelocks armes, and they drink to the health
    of the Brother
  • They carried the glass to the mouth in three
    movements after which and before replacing the
    glass on the Table, it is carried to the left
    breast, then to the right and then forwards, all
    in three movements and in three other movements
    it is set down perpendicularly on the Table
  • They than clap their hands three times and each
    of them cries three times Vivat
  • Reception d'un Frey-Maçon (1737)

Toasting in the 15th Century
  • Then the Master takes up his Glass, and gives a
    Toast to the King and the Craft, with Three Times
    Three in the Prentices and they all say Ditto,
    and drink all together, minding the Masters
  • They do the same with the empty Glass that he
    doth that is,
  • He draws it across his Throat Three Times ...,
    and then makes Three Offers to put it down
  • At the third, they all set their Glasses down
    together, which they call firing
  • Then they hold the Left-hand Breast-high, and
    clap Nine Times with the Right, their Foot going
    at the same Time
  • When this is done, they all sit down
  • Jackson, A. C. F. English Exposures (1986), p.

  • Actual firearms or similar weapons do not appear
    to have ever been used during Masonic Fire!
  • The implements most commonly mentioned are wine
    and beer glasses, special Masonic Firing Glasses,
    small gavels and of course the hands as used in
  • Firing Glasses had unusually robust bottoms to
    withstand the shock of being slammed down on the
    table producing the desired sound emphasising
    that the guns had not misfired

  • After a non Masonic toast, applause is sometimes
    polite and even expected
  • Such applause is often irregular with all free to
    start and stop whenever, employing gusto or none
  • Of course this would be considered most unseemly
    in a Masonic context, wherein regularity and
    harmony are prized

  • 3 times 3
  • because there were antiently but Three Words,
    Three Signs and Three Gripes but there have been
    Three added, viz. The Grand Sign of a Master, the
    Pass-Gripe of a Fellow-Craft, and Pass-Word,
    which is Twelve in all for you to remember.
  • The Word, Sign and Gripe of an entered Apprentice
    is Three The Word, Sign, Gripe, Pass-Gripe and
    Pass-Word of a Fellow-Craft is Five And the
    Master hath Four, viz. The Sign, the Grand Sign,
    the Gripe and Word, which is Twelve

  • With the use of proper firing glasses much less
    common, hand clapping is now employed
  • The most popular variation is the PLR followed by
    the 3 x 3 hand clapping
  • A typical fire procedure being PLR, PLR, PLR,
    one (point to the left), two (point to the
    right), one clap, short pause and three short
    claps followed by another set of three short
  • Running fire is employed by some Lodges

  • Freemasons have sought to imbue this custom with
    meanings other than a simple choreographed toast
  • The Sign of the Cross made by a clergyman in
    benediction over food or drink
  • The Hammer of Thor sign used in Scandinavia in
    olden times to appease the great God
  • The motions made by a bricklayer when lifting
    cement with his trowel
  • A royal salute of 21 guns

Silent Fire
  • Controversial
  • Given without clapping and usually on the cuff
  • Possibly devised as a counter to eavesdroppers
    when meetings were held in public places
  • Conveys sorrow when coupled with the toast for
    Absent Brethren
  • Often referred to as the Tylers Toast

Non Brethren
  • In 1986 the Board of General Purposes (UGLE) made
    the following recommendation about the presence
    of non-masons at after proceedings and it was
    adopted formally by the Grand Lodge
  • whilst it is desirable to exclude all non-masons
    from the dining room before the commencement of
    the toast list, it is not strictly necessary but
    fire should not be given in their presence

  • The lack of literature on the subject is telling!
    This does not however reduce the significance of
    the practice and has indeed elicited a ruling by
    the UGLE as recently as 1986. The origins of
    Masonic Fire remain unclear with several theories
    vying for the honor. One aspect is however clear,
    the practice permits all the brethren to

May Masonic Fire be forever in your hearts and
  • Thank you