Anyone connected to Freemasonry will speak often about the role of the Grand Architect of the Universe [GAOTU]. To brothers within the Craft, the GAOTU is central to our very existence, and many of the rituals and allegories taught within lodges seek to better articulate the role of this elusive figure.
If you’re new to Freemasonry, you might be intrigued to find out more information about the GAOTU, and understand why Masons refer to the Creator in such a way. As such, this post is concerned with introducing you to the GAOTU from a Masonic perspective, to broaden your understanding of Freemasonry’s Supreme Being.
Is the GAOTU God?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, because the GAOTU is the Creator and the Supreme Being responsible for life on earth as we know it. No, because the GAOTU isn’t just one God, he can be any deity that an individual Mason believes in.
This is an important distinction to make, because many outside the Craft simply assume that the GAOTU is just a fancy name for the Abrahamic God of the scriptures. Because Freemasonry welcomes men of various faiths, the GAOTU represents the existence of a Supreme Being that watches over humankind and holds us to account, without any specific religious affiliation.
The name ‘GAOTU’ has Masonic connotations.
It doesn’t take a religious scholar to work out that the naming of the GAOTU is significant and harbors Masonic connotations. Alluding to Freemasonry’s origins in the stonemason’s guilds of the Middle Ages, the Supreme Being as a Grand Architect is particularly symbolic.
If we cast our minds to Masonic allegory for a moment, we might also think of the role of Hiram Abiff, the chief architect of King Solomon’s Temple. Although Hiram himself is not the GAOTU, it’s another significant use of architectural symbolism within Masonic literature.
GAOTU is a neutral term that serves the Masonic purpose.
Above all else, GAOTU is a neutral term that ensures men of different faiths can interact with Freemasonry without feeling left out or ill considered. God is referred to differently in religions throughout the world, whether it’s Allah in Islam or Yahweh in Christianity.
The fact that the GAOTU does not lend itself to one religion over another highlights the inclusivity of Freemasonry and is evidence that brothers of various faiths are welcomed into the Craft.
Therefore, when you hear the GAOTU mentioned in Freemasonry, know that it’s a reference to the Supreme Being responsible for creating the heavens and the earth. Because of its wording and inclusivity, it perfectly serves the Masonic purpose and ensures brothers can interact with their faith in a way that doesn’t detract from the Masonic teachings, or attempt to replace or resemble any of the world’s many religions.