Colours in Freemasonry

It is obvious that colours are a fundamental element of Masonic symbolism when we view aprons, sashes, as well as other items of regalia in our Lodge rooms. In some higher degrees we can observe wall hangings, robes and other various Masonic accoutrements of various colours.

The colours of Masonic aprons may vary in various Masonic jurisdictions, and some do not have what may be considered common: the blue aprons. For example, the Grand Orient of Italy uses green to adorn the Fellow Craft apron while the Master Mason’s is trimmed in red, accompanied by a green sash. It is understood Egypt, influenced by the Italian colour, has green aprons, although green is also connected to Islam. It is also observed some Jurisdictions wear the plain white lambskin aprons throughout their service in our Craft.

The following is a short outline as to the symbolism of the various colours that may be seen throughout all Masonic concordant bodies.

WHITE: Innocence and purity is exemplified in images such as the lily or fallen snow. Plato asserts white is the colour of the Gods. In the V.S.L., David sees God as a very old man, dressed in robes white as snow. In the New Testament, Peter, James and John observed Jesus transfigured in clothing which became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. It signifies the beginning and the colour of Initiation. White is connected with the idea of death and resurrection: shrouds are white, spirits wear white veils, and it was at one time the colour of mourning. White is also the representation of truth and hope with the white lambskin being the badge of innocence.

BLUE: represents the blue vault or canopy of heaven; universally it denotes immortality, eternity, chastity, and fidelity. While the pale blue represents prudence and goodness, royal blue represents prudence and goodness alone and replaced red at the Court in the Middle Ages when that colour was given to the ‘lower’ classes. The colour blue became associated with the terms of prestige such as ‘blue chip’ and ‘blue blood.’ In the Holy Bible we read of white, green and blue hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple, and, thou shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. The ancient Jews considered blue a chief religious colour and the High Priest wore a blue robe, as well as oaths being taken on a blue altar.

PURPLE: is a symbol of imperial royalty, richness and is related to penitence and the solemnity of Lent and Advent in the Christian Church. The Holy Bible, as well as the Apocrypha, have references to this colour. It is spoken of as being ‘a sellers purple,’ and is stated they shall spread a purple cloth on the altar. Christ wore a purple robe and a crown of thorns. With the union of blue and red, purple has become the emblem of union.

RED: crimson or scarlet is considered the symbol of fire and heat and traditionally associated with war and the military. The colour of blood is connected with the idea of sacrifice, struggle and heroism. It signifies charity, devotion, abnegation. In Masonry, it is the emblem of faith, fortitude, fervency and zeal. On a darker side it is connected with the flames of hell, appearance of demons and the apoplectic face of rage. Red, scarlet and crimson are also shown to signify love, magnanimity as well as that of martyrdom.

GREEN: is directly associated with the idea of resurrection and immortality. The acacia, occasionally referred to as the Masonic evergreen, has been suggested as a symbol or a moral life and rebirth as well as immortality. The ancient Egyptians used it as a symbol of hope. It is always regarded as the symbol of gladness and abundance.

YELLOW: While this colour is rarely observed in a lodge room, it has been said to be a symbol of wisdom. As the rays of the sun enlighten the day, the candidate in the F.C. Degree is enlightened educationally, because in this degree we, for the first time, instruct the Mason in the Science of Art. It represents both the best and the worst in man; the colour of brass and honey as well as sulphur and cowardice. It reflects on the golden age, golden apples and the quality of the Golden Fleece. It was the colour of the patch imposed on the Jews and referred to as the Badge of Infamy. It reminds us of the sun and of gold. Yellow and gold, as well as silver, is said to have been used in Freemasonry since gold is the symbol of the sun while silver is that of the moon. Universally, yellow represents jealousy, incontinence and treachery, although in masonry it is said to represent the colour of gold and its meaning is reversed.

BLACK: is one of the fundamental colours found in all civilizations dating back to the Middle Ages. The Knights of Malta wore black. Traditionally, it has become the colour representing darkness or death, although black was not introduced as a symbol of mourning until after the middle of the 14th Century. The Black Stone of Mecca is believed by Muslims to have at one time been white, the sins of man causing the transformation. It has always been a symbol of grief and sorrow as well as that of death.

By Bro. Leon Zeldis