Five Points of Fellowship

by MasterMason

Adapted from a paper shared by R.W. Bro. Robert Taylor Sidney Australia.

The communication of the Five Points of Fellowship is one of the most moving and meaningful passages in the Masonic Ritual. The Five Points are an integral and essential part of the secrets of the third degree. They are both a series of actions and a code to some of the important essentials of the Masonic Order.

The code has a common basis with our universal system of numbering, both being based on the number of digits on our hands; the Five Points of fellowship using one hand, the decimal system of numbering using both hands.

Each of the Five Points is designed to illustrate a particular facet of the Freemasons attitude to his brethren. Properly observed, they provide a general guide to our personal relationships to each other.

Greeting a brother open-handedly, supporting him with strength and prayer, preserving his confidences and protecting his name and reputation are the real characteristics of brotherhood.

Historically the Five Points of fellowship have an ancient and interesting background, and although are now well established as part of the third degree, they are much older than the degree which originated as an actual ceremony about 1725.

When Freemasonry consisted of only two degrees, the Five Points were part of the second degree, originally being part of the ceremonies of operative masons.
The Points of Fellowship made their first entry in Masonic documents in 1696, some 21 years before the creation of the first Grand Lodge.
Their true origin seems to have been lost in the past.
The Five Points have not always been as they are known today; they have also varied in number & it is thought that at one time, at least, there were six.

In connection with the first of the Five Points of Fellowship where the ceremony today deals with death and resurrection, it once also pondered on the decay of the body after death.
The ‘slips’ of the Entered and the Fellow-craft grip were not merely superficial, but were considered to be the result of decay. A more effective grip was, therefore essential for its purpose; and the first of the Five Points of Fellowship came into being.

In some places, the first of the Five Points of Fellowship is known as the Lion’s Paw or the Eagle’s Claw. These are graphic terms which originated because of the particular nature of the hand-grip and to impress on brethren that it is more than merely a casual handshake.

The third degree is a powerful, moral drama, of which the Five Points of fellowship form a vital part. They should always bring to the mind of a worthy Freemason the important duties owed to every one of his brethren, and also to all mankind.
Summarising – what every Mason has promised to maintain and uphold in relation to the Five Points of Fellowship includes joining with other Masons in fraternal brotherhood, and working sincerely and fearlessly in mutual defence and support of every brother. Every brother should by prayer and in his heart, constantly remind himself of the needs of others, respect the confidences of other brethren, and apply in our daily lives the Masonic code of ethics and honour to the best of his ability.
The above paper was prepared in October 1978 as a Lodge lecture, but the author is unknown.

My thanks to Bro. Taylor for sharing, it is in this way that we can extend Masonic Education all over the World and thereby work to the steady improvement in understanding among Masons and the World at large.

Have a wonderful day & God Bless
Norm McEvoy

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