Freemasonry and the Pillars of the Porch

Solomon’s Temple, like many earlier ones, was a symbolic structure, figurative of the architecture of the human organism. Near its entrance, but not inside it, stood two pillars, representing the metaphysical principles upon which that organism is based (see Figure 1).

The first of these is named Boaz which is biblically translated as ‘Strength’, but really means primal energy, the basic dynamic force behind all manifestation, the ‘Fire’ (or electrical energy) which the earliest philosophers called ‘the father of all things’.

The second principle (or ‘pillar’) necessarily involves something opposite but complementary to the first. If the first is active energy and power, the second implies resistance to it; inertia; a passive, steadying, restrictive element. And this is precisely what the word Jachin means.

Speaking broadly and in modern terms, Boaz means spirit and Jachin the form or body which clothes spirit but yet limits its action. Of these two every man / woman is compounded.

Figure 1: Left-hand image – An artist’s impression of King Solomon’s Temple. 
Right-hand image – The Pillars of the Porch.

Without an origin in spirit we should not be moral or immortal beings; without a material body and environment to limit and check our incorporeal fiery energies, our spirits would remain unstabilised abstractions.

These two opposite principles are present in ourselves; and our business is to bring them into perfect balance.

Now the word Jachin is a shortened form of the Hebrew word ‘Jehoiakin’, which literally means ‘Jah establishes’ or makes firm; Jah being an abbreviation of Jehovah.

Taking Boaz and Jachin together the meaning is ‘God stabilises fire’ (or spirit); i.e., God individualises undifferentiated spirit into distinctive human beings and, by subjecting it to material conditions and limitations, renders it stable and differentiated, (as, to use a simple analogy, diffused electricity, which manifests destructively as lightning, can be so controlled and harnessed as to serve constructively in globes of electric light).

This may be taken as a modern paraphrase of ‘In strength will I establish this My house that it may stand firm.’

For God’s ‘house’ is man and the building of man from the quarry-state of unconditioned Nature into a strongly individualised living stone, perfect in all its parts and redounding in honour to the builder, is the whole aim and end of the Masonic Craft.

In the union of Boaz and Jachin, then, the Candidate is taught to see that the two opposite but complementary ‘pillars’ or principles are blended in himself.

Both Boaz (spirit) and Jachin (matter), are present in him; he is himself a combination of dynamic energy and of a static inert principle opposed to spirit, but necessary for the restraint and education of his spirit.

For spirit to be effective needs confinement in body; and body, to become perfect, must be suffused and sublimated by spirit; whilst to be ‘established in strength and stand firm’ implies the attainment of perfect balance and harmony of these two opposites.

Other emblems indicating the same truth are the interlaced triangles forming ‘King Solomon’s Seal’, and the united Square and Compasses (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Left-hand image – King Solomon’s Seal. 
Right-hand image – the Masonic Square and Compasses.

At present, with most of us, spirit and body are far from being balanced and harmonised, and the office of the Craft, as of all Initiation Schools, is to assist its members to a knowledge of themselves so that they may reduce their disordered principles into unity and concord.

‘I come from between the pillars’ is a frequent utterance by the Candidate in Egyptian rituals far older than Solomon’s Temple, and it signified ‘I have trodden the narrow way and balanced the good and evil in myself.’

In the Telesterium or great Initiation Hall of the temple at Delphi there are said to be the pediments of two stone pillars between which, authorities have suggested, the candidate had to stand and pass through.

Figure 3: The Pillars of the Porch in a Masonic temple.

They are so close together that in standing between them he touched both, uniting them as it were in his own person, whilst to squeeze through them was a matter of effort and difficulty.

Hence the references elsewhere to ‘the narrow way’ to ‘passing through the eye of a needle’, and to ‘the street which is called Straight’, (Acts 9;11).

By Julian Websdale, | Reference: Wilmshurst, W. L. (2010) Ceremony of Passing. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing.

About the author: Julian Websdale is an independent researcher in the fields of esoteric science and metaphysics, and a self-initiate of the Western Esoteric Tradition. His interest in these subjects began in 1988. You can visit his personal blog here.