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A MODERN INTREPRETATION OF THE REGIUS MANUSCRIPT
JASON C. RUSSO, 32º
Regius Manuscript was written at some point around the year 1400 A.D. in the
form of a short epic poem. From
this evidence and the style of writing, it can be deducted the Regius Poem as we
know it was written by a Priest, Monk or Scribe from earlier recorded documents
following is my personnel interpretation of the Regius Manuscript; it being
written for the
operative craft is of particular interest to us as speculative members of the
same fraternity. The precepts and mandates are integral to our perspective
and reflection for a better and complete understanding of Freemasonry as we know
I do not maintain my interpretations to be the basis nor conclusion for
any man or Mason; the Regius Poem being readily available should be studied and
reflected upon by each individual and practitioner of our speculative
fraternity. This being said I fully anticipate my personal interpretations
concerning this document to grow and change as I collect age and experience in
both life and Masonry. I would hope each man and Mason would read this and
reflect upon the conclusions which I have made and reread the Regius Manuscript,
thus formulating an individual opinion and or speculation.
The Moral Duties
Every man who is both a husband and a father fears for the possibility of
demise. The loss of income, job or perhaps even an untimely death would
leave to this earth his widow and orphans. Who would take care for his
family? Who would care for their
provision and education? This fear being common to every man of reason is
what initially bound men together borrowing from principles of Geometry and the
honest craft of Masonry.
Euclid was the first mentioned teacher of Masonic principles; he was
successful and exuded patience and love while instructing all men to include the
simpleton, whom he was able to teach to become proficient and a valuable assets
to operative Masonry. Euclid displayed the principles of honesty, patience,
fortitude, dedication, meekness and humility—a stunning example of how we
today as speculative Masons should work and act. If our brother Euclid can
teach the simpleton to be a Master Craftsman, our own students should be a
reflection of ourselves and Masters of the craft. We should be ever
mindful and patient, kind, diligent and above all, we should lead by example.
In our dealings with our brothers we should not seek elevation or higher
titles; fellow and brother should suffice as each of us are born of woman, naked
and imperfect. Titles are
meaningless and Brother is the highest honor and title we can ever hope to
Our esteemed brother Euclid was a great traveler when he founded the
principles of our craft in Egypt and the surrounding countryside. He brought his
thoughts and ideas to England where his skill was credited to the crafting of
many fine buildings and temples. His diligence was renowned as was his
service to G-d. His passion for perfection, service to G-d, Geometry, and
the operative craft caused him to fret over the imperfections and shoddy work
performed by his contemporaries.
To mend the flaws of less then perfect work and to improve the perception
of Masonry he called an assembly of all of the Masons in the land to receive
instruction, to correct previous faults and to solidify the high regard of Craft
Masonry. This assemblage of Masons also consisted of the nobility and
gentry--consisting of Dukes, Earls, Knights and other nobles. At this
early convention 15 Articles and 15 points were outlined to govern the craft and
define its tenets and precept.
A Master Mason has the moral obligation to be "Trustworthy,
Steadfast and True." Master Masons must maintain the highest ethical
standards in dealing with their fellow man; pay the wages of their workman in
accordance with what is just, fair and proper. A Master Mason should never
hire more workmen than he can afford to pay. A Master Mason should not engage in
shady business practices by taking bribes or kickbacks. A Master Mason should never even consider working for a
person connected with improper business practices, thus his work and
associations may be beyond reproach. He should hold to these standards, for in
the end he shall profit before G-d, his fellow man and future business ventures.
Every Master Mason must attend every congregation of his counterparts, or
Masonic meeting with the exception of a reasonable and valid excuse for his
absence. The excuse should be true and reasonable for his absence. A
lie or falsehood for missing a meeting would be disobedience to the craft.
A Master Mason must be willing to spend seven years with his Apprentice.
Any time less than seven years may produce poor work by his progeny and
thus perform a disservice to the Craft of Masonry and thereby bring reproach
upon his name and that of his student.
The Speculative Mason need not spend seven years devoted to the study of
the philosophical craft- we as Free and Accepted Masons are not hired for our
stone craft skills. At the same time, sufficient time must be spent with
the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft to instruct them in the ancient and
speculative usage's of Freemasonry. The Master Masons who are assigned as
Instructor and Mentor are responsible for the Masonic education of their
Candidate. A Candidate who is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason
and is yet still ignorant of their speculative craft is then viewed in the same
disfavor as the Master Mason who qualifies an unqualified workman.
No Master Mason shall make an apprentice of a Bondsman. This usage for
today is not meant to target a Bail Bondsman in our era. This is meant to
exclude those who engage in unseemly or unwholesome forms of business-- which
would bring discredit upon our noble craft. This article is appropriately
geared toward individual such as the purveyors of pornography, professional
gamblers or other such modes of employment that skirt the moral and ethical
standards of our society at large.
As Free and Accepted Masons we too must stand together and defend the
good name and reputation of our friends and brothers. It would be a great
disservice to the craft to make a Mason of one who is of questionable profession
or of questionable moral or ethical character thereby obligating the brethren to
vouch for him and appear to justify the indefensible unethical practices of the
We should always only accept into our noble and ancient fraternity men of
good nature and of strong moral and ethical character--beyond reproach and thus
preserving the good name and nature of Freemasonry.
"Make no Apprentice that is deformed; It is mean as you may hear, that
he have all his limbs whole together."
This Article is difficult to place in perspective for a solely
speculative craft. Of what matters is it to speculative Masonry if a
candidate is raised and shall have an insignificant deformity, or is lame?
Of what outcome does the physical have upon the philosophical or
As the Author recognized this article may seem to the reader to be mean
and harsh, but upon deeper contemplation, even this Article has its application.
I will attempt to reason this Article according to my own understanding -- and
as per my personal interpretation of it. This is not meant to counter the
current laws or usage of any jurisdiction.
A man who is whole enough so that the Speculative Degrees of Freemasonry
may be conferred upon him in person--even with the aid of a prosthetic device,
he shall not hinder the speculative and philosophical aspects of the craft.
The three immovable jewels in American Masonry are the Plum, Level and
Square and are thus the embodiment of beauty, strength and wisdom. A
Master Mason must be whole in beauty, strength and wisdom to hold these
stationed offices. This could or should not prevent a Mason from active
participation elsewhere in the Lodge should his mental faculty be above average
and a service to the fraternity.
Special dispensation should be provided for men and Masons who have
become lame or disabled in the service of man or their country. These men
and Masons who have suffered in the service of their country and fellow man have
proven themselves to be the embodiment of wisdom, strength and beauty. If
they are capable to perform the duties of their office these men have sacrificed
much in their noble and gallant service and have already proven their value to
the gates of heaven where fullness of body awaits their probationary state to be
This article outlines fair business dealings. A Master Mason should
not pay a brother more than his worth, nor should a brother receive a promotion
or business contract solely upon the basis of the craft.
As Free and Accepted Masons our dealings will be scrutinized by the
profane, especially when a worthy brother receives a promotion, pay raise or
contract. Let it never be said our dealings are prejudiced towards our
fellow brothers. Let us lead our lives so that no profane can eve accuse
us of prejudicial treatment and thereby discredit the craft.
This article admonishes us to closely guard our associations. We
should not be too closely related with those of questionable character. Poor
associations and friendships could have the perception of guilt by association
and bring discredit upon the craft.
This article deals with the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft, who
during their instruction are found to be other than what they professed to be
when submitting their petitions. Their
instructor should cease and give no further instruction; conduct which came to
light during instruction may well prove his ability to become a god man and
Mason suspect and potentially bring discredit upon the craft should he be
allowed to continue his instruction.
A Master Mason needs to exercise wisdom and foresight. This article
admonishes Masons to be men of their word and to posses the fortitude and
strength of character to complete whatever is begun. This article also
admonishes us to take pride in our work; the finished product is a reflection of
ourselves and a reflection of Freemasonry. A good job and the desire to
perform to the best of our abilities is a positive reflection of ourselves and
positive reflections of our noble craft. Shoddy work, and a lackadaisical
performance will in the same manner reflect negatively upon the individual and
Freemasonry in general.
As our craft today does not singularly apply to the operative craft--our
performance before men has a wider and greater effect--potentially positive or
negative. As a Master Mason it should be our steadfast object to bring
credit to our brethren and our noble fraternity.
This article admonishes us never undermine our brethren. This precept
extends further, it also admonishes us never to undermine the profane either.
In either case supplanting another will cause bad blood and create a just
grievance. We should never allow a contention to arise between brother
Masons, but also a just grievance or contention caused by a brother towards a
profane will reflect negatively upon our craft.
Article Ten goes on to admonish us that should a brother supplant another
for profit and fails--a brother Mason is under no obligation to come to his aid.
In either event a Mason must finish what he begins.
This Article admonishes us to work hard and fair but not to continue our
labor into the evening hours. This article conveys more in its few short
lines than the verbose prose of some others.
To make it a habit to work well into the night on frequent occasions is
UN-Masonic in nature. I make a bold claim--but the reason is sound and
fair. As Masons, in addition to our solid and sound work ethic we should
equally strive to be good husbands and fathers; sound in judgment, well rounded
in thought deed and actions. A Master Mason should be a student of G-d,
philosophy, grammar, rhetoric and geometry.
If a Mason devotes himself into his work well into the night on a regular
basis he is neglecting G-d, family, knowledge and brotherhood. To neglect
this in the pursuit of riches is a Masonic offense, a violation of balance and a
foul breech of harmony.
This Article admonishes us to be honest and fair with our brethren.
Should we by accident wrong our brother it is our duty and obligation to
right that wrong and make amends.
This Article conveys the right of visitation; each member of the craft
should be so recorded and provided the opportunity to travel as a known brother
and member of the craft.
A Master Mason should study and train younger Masons--teaching them well
the tenets and precepts of our craft with diligence, seriousness and gravity.
We are admonished to befriend one another, dealing honestly towards all;
we should ever strive to be men of our words. Any man or Mason who would
betray his word or bond and swear a false oath would result in the derision of
the craft, a pox upon his name and bring shame to the fraternity. A man or
Mason who breaks his word or oath has inflicted upon himself the consequences of
A Master Mason must love G-d Supremely.
A Master Mason will work diligently for his wages and rest upon the
A Master Mason must keep the secrets entrusted to him and keep the
secrets of lodge business.
A Master Mason must be true to the craft; he must be patient and kind
when dealing with others, slow to anger. A Master Mason must enforce Masonic law
equally towards all.
A Master Mason will earn his wages; if an employer he must provide notice
to those being discharged of their duties--they having timely notice to secure
Work hard, work well, and earn a day of leisure to spend spoiling your
wife. If we do not spend sufficient time satisfying our wives then stress
and strife shall overtake us.
A Master Mason shall not sleep with another Masons wife; this is
considered a foul and deadly sin deserving of the greatest derision and
Deal fairly and justly with brother Master Masons. When
disagreements arise which we are not a member then we are obligated to be fair
and just mediators.
Each Master Mason should work and strive to serve as stewards and thereby
wait and serve our brothers that no one should seem haughty and none seem to
lowly--rather all brothers are equal within the craft.
Pay your debts honestly, timely and fair. A Master Mason should
never remain indebted to another brother for a long period of time, lest
contentions arise and shame be brought to the craft.
A Master Mason must be well rounded and should not burdened by strife.
Burdens, problems and issues are easily brought out in the open by our own
actions. By living a well-rounded life we can ground our troubles so they
do not arise and interfere with our actions.
A Master Mason shall not commit Slander! A slanderer is considered
a villainous person and should be brought upon Masonic charges at the very next
meeting. The slanderer shall be
summonsed to account for his tongue and when found guilty he shall be punished
according to Masonic law.
Help a brother whenever you can; provide him aid and instruction whenever
you shall see the need to do so. Help him and aid his knowledge in making
Masonry shall not protect any man who does violate the civil law; he
shall be taken into custody where he will be charged with any violation he has
A Master Mason shall not steal! Nor should a Mason associate with
those that do, be they family or friend.
A Master Mason must swear an oath to abide by the laws, usage's and
customs of Masonry; being true to the laws and brethren alike. A Master
Mason must obey the law and be patriotic to his country. Any Mason who
violates these Points or Articles shall be punished according to Masonic law.
Anyone regardless of their social status who shall be found guilty of any
of the Articles or Points and proven so in open forum shall receive the same
sentence--they shall be outcast from the craft; there shall be no amends; they
are forbidden the use of Masonry.
Annually or every third year a convention of the craft should be gathered
together to amend the laws and usages of Masonry. These conventions must
be attended by all Masons, thereby all problems may be resolved and again swear
to keep the statutes of Masonry.
The interpretations above are of my own devise.
I claim no special skills or insights; I claim neither to be an expert on
the subject of our speculative craft. I am a Free and Accepted Mason and as such have spent time and
effort reading through the Regius Manuscript, from which our noble craft derives
its earliest historical reference. This
reference is important to us, for it is the basis and standard by which most of
our Masonic law is derived.
I remain your obedient
friend and brother,
Jason C. Russo
JD, Blandford #3 VA District
A.F. & A.M.
Petersburg Union RA #7
Valley of Richmond, OVA SJ AASR