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Sunday, December 5

Ascending the Winding Stair

On a recent visit to the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1 (S.C.) to witness a Fellow Craft degree one of the peculiarities of their working struck me as worthy of note. While there has never been a 'standard' Scottish ritual or working; each lodge having the autonomy to decide how best to present the teachings, there are of necessity certain similarities between degree workings. What struck me that evening was that the Candidate approached the East from the South-East. My own lodge uses the North as the point of origin, as do many others. This difference has the effect of altering the direction of ascent of the winding stair from clockwise to anti-clockwise. Historically spiral staircases were built with a clockwise ascent for defensive purposes; permitting a defender free access with his right hand to defend the property from above. There are examples of anti-clockwise spiral staircases, but these may well occur where the original occupants have shown a family tendency to left-handedness! While there is no expectation for defensive requirements within the Masonic analogy of the winding staircase, simple habit might have anticipated a clockwise ascent. In an effort to find an origin for this discrepancy (often a futile exercise where Scottish Ritual is concerned) I have been looking for early representations of the Fellowcraft Tracing Board, observing how different lodges approach the working, and reviewing different ritual books. I will return to this question as the research develops. Any experiences of other lodges or images of tracing boards are welcomed...


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