You might find it strange that an altar sits at the center of Masonic lodges, given the fact that Freemasonry isn’t a religion. Indeed, altars are usually found in religious places of worship, where they hold the Holy book and host religious leaders who preach to the congregation. So, why is there an altar in every Masonic lodge in the world? Let’s take a look now.
As always, this writing is not an expression of the official views of the Freemasons Community, but simply the reflections of one Co-Mason.
The altar is steeped in historical significance.
Throughout history, the altar has served as the place within any religious place of worship, where man can have a direct relationship with his God. Regardless of the external environment, be it war or peacetime, a man can escape to the altar and receive deliverance from his current situation and seek the direct counsel of his God. It’s perhaps this fact, that the altar provides a direct way of communicating with God, that it was initially introduced in Masonic lodges.
The Masonic altar enables communication with the Grand Architect of the Universe.
Although Freemasonry isn’t a religion, brothers believe in the existence of the Grand Architect of the Universe. Its presence in lodges the world over is a constant reminder of this fact and ensures that brothers remain committed to their faith and recognize that their actions will be judged by God. Masonic teachings are often read from the altar, and it is viewed by brothers in a similar way that members of a church would view an altar in their place of worship.
The altar is deliberately positioned in Masonic lodges.
The eagle-eyed amongst us have probably noticed that the Masonic altar is strategically and deliberately placed within Masonic lodges. In England, for instance, the altar stands in front of the Master in the East. Alternatively, in York Rite lodges, it is placed in the very center of the lodge, as it signifies the point from which all Masonic activity revolves around. Upon the altar is placed a Holy Book, either the Holy Bible, the Torah, The Quran, or any other book that represents the religions of the men that make up the Masonic fraternity.
Although you might think it strange that an altar stands at the center of Masonic lodges, it has been commonplace for as long as the fraternity has been in existence. While not a religious decoration, the altar serves as an important reminder to brothers that their God is watching over their actions, and that they will be held to account. As such, it is in keeping with the notion that the Grand Architect of the Universe is omniscient, and will cast judgment over the morality of brothers when they reach the end of their Masonic journeys.