The Extended Wings of the Cherubim

The following monitorial instructions on the Royal Master degree appear on pp. 21-23 of “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council” by Albert G. Mackey.

“And he set the cherubim within the inner house; and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubim, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.” — 1 Kings 6:27.

The Cherubim were certain figures conspicuous in the ceremonial of the Jewish tabernacle and temple. There is much diversity of opinion among the learned as to their form, but all agree in this: that they were furnished with wings, and that their wings were extended. Two of them were placed in the tabernacle of Moses, in a stooping attitude, at each end of the mercy-seat or covering of the ark, which they overshadowed with their expanded wings. They were afterwards transferred, with the Ark of the Covenant, of which indeed they formed a component part, to the Holy of Holies of King Solomon’s Temple. In the intervening space, above the ark and beneath the extended wings, were the Schechinah or sacred flame, that symbolized the Divine Presence, and the letters of the ineffable name of Jehovah. From this is derived that peculiar phraseology of the sacred writers, who always speak of the Deity as dwelling between the Cherubim; and whenever the Almighty is described as sitting on a throne, or riding in a triumphal chariot, the Cherubim constitute an important part of the description.

The Cherubim were eminently and purely symbolical. But although there is great diversity of opinion as to their exact signification, yet there is a very general agreement that, under some one manifestation or another, they allude to and symbolize the protecting and overshadowing power of the Deity. When therefore the initiate is received beneath the extended wings of the Cherubim, we are taught by this symbolism how appropriate it is, that he who comes to ask and to seek Truth, symbolized by the True Word, should begin by placing himself under the protection of that Divine Power who alone is Truth, and from whom alone Truth can be obtained.

The full text of Mackey’s monitorial instructions on the Royal Master degree may be found at:

Royal Master from Mackey’s “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council”