Masonic Education

THE TERM LEWIS OR LOUVENTEAU

 

The material in this paper is taken directly from Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, and from the Internet’s Masonic Dictionary. Com. Excerpts, direct quotes and paraphrases of the material in those sources are used in this paper.

The English term Lewis is a term belonging to operative Masonry, and signifies an iron clamp, which inserted into the cavity prepared for the purpose in a large stone so as to give attachment to a pulley so the stone may easily be raised to any height and deposited in its proper position.

In this country, the Lewis has not been widely adopted as a symbol in Freemasonry, but in the English ritual it has been placed on the Tracing Board of the Entered Apprentice. It is used in the degree as a symbol of strength, because with that tool a Mason can lift even the heaviest stone with relative ease. The analogy is that the son of a Mason (i.e. a Lewis) can support the diminishing strength of his father.

Now moving to Coil’s discussion of the term: The term in England and Scotland refers to the son of a Freemason. In a similar use of the term, the French use the word “louveteau” for the same purpose. The transfer of these terms to symbolic use has been a subject of speculation. The term “Lewis” did however, appear in The English Constitutions of 1738 (one of The Gothic Manuscripts).

It was commonly supposed that a Lewis was entitled to join the order at the age of 18 years. While this was true in Scotland; a dispensation from the Grand Master is necessary in England. And according to Coil, the term and its symbolic use are very little known in America.

In France, the term “louveteau” means “young wolf”, and has been derived from the so-called Ancient Mysteries going back to Ancient Egypt, where the candidates for those mysteries were required to wear masks of a wolf’s head. It was considered a symbol of strength and power. As in England for the Lewis, the French Louveteau is permitted to join the Order at 18 years of age.

The Masonic Dictionary.Com states that many erroneously believe that a Lewis may be initiated at 18 years of age. Washington, who received his Entered Apprentice Degree when he was twenty years and eight months of age, is often mentioned to make the point.  According to this source, there is no evidence whatsoever that Washington was ever considered a Lewis. His initiation before twenty-one can much more logically be said to be the lax practices of an early age when Freemasonry in this country was very informal, straying from the original authority, and developing from its own momentum, at a time when the experiment with a new land, with a new government, and new hopes was in the air.

 

Lodges are charged to investigate and judge each petitioner on strict values and evaluations. This is most likely done. However, it would be difficult to imagine that any Lewis’ petition for initiation is not usually more naturally prepositioned favorably because he asks to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Most people feel that good apples come from good trees.  

 


MATERIAL DISCLAIMER

 The material in this papers was developed from a variety of sources: books, encyclopedias, magazine articles, M.S.A Publications, television, and the internet.  Most, but not all, of these sources were written and/or edited by Masons.  There is no claim made that the information in these papers is original, or was originally developed by this writer. Each paper contains: direct quotes, excerpts, and paraphrasing from the sources used.

These papers are presented one per month as part of the Masonic Education Program of Bellevue Lodge #325 A.M. & F.M. at the monthly Stated Communication. 

Br. William H. Miller,                                                                                                                     

Bellevue Lodge #325





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