Masonic code book online

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Title:Akin's lodge manual with the Georgia Masonic code, the standard for Georgia. Containing E. A., F. C. and M. M. degrees /Author:Freemasons. Grand Lodge of GeorgiaAuthor:Bigham, R. J.Author:Akin, John W. (John Wesley), Author:Book Traces ProjectNote:Atlanta, Ga. : Foote & Davies Co.,   Link:page images at HathiTrustNo stable link:This is an uncurated book entry from our extended bookshelves, readable online now but without a stable link here. You should not bookmark this page, but you can request that we add this book to our curated collection, which has stable links.  Subject:FreemasonryOther copies:Look for editions of this book at your library, or elsewhere.

A cipher is a secret code. Today, online communications often use sophisticated algorithms to encrypt messages and data. In the past, ciphers provided a way to write a secret message that only the sender, receiver, and a small group of people in their circle knew. The Masonic Cipher, known more commonly as the Pigpen Cipher, is seldom used today but still remains a part of Freemasonry’s rich history. Read on to learn of its possible origins and how it can be deciphered.

Masonic Cipher Key

What is a Cipher?

Ciphers are algorithms for encrypting and decrypting data. They operate symmetrically with two types of transformation: transposition and substitution. Transposition ciphers keep all the original bits of data but mix their order, and substitution ciphers replace specific data sequences with other specific data sequences. All ciphers use a system of fixed rules (algorithms) to transform a legible message into what looks like a random string of characters. Without the key, they’re impossible to decipher. It’s actually more crucial to keep the key hidden than the cipher itself. 

There are many types of historical ciphers, including the Caesar Cipher, Atbash Cipher, Simple Substitution Cipher, Vignère Cipher, and Homophonic Substitution Cipher. Read more about these historical ciphers here.  

The Masonic Cipher is a geometric simple substitution cipher, which exchanges letters for symbols to create encrypted messages and consists of a character key which replaces every character in the alphabet with a different symbol. In history, it’s been referred to as the Pigpen Cipher, Masonic Cipher, Freemason’s Cipher, Napoleon Cipher, Tic-Tac-Toe Cipher, and more.

Origins of the Masonic Cipher

While its true origins are unknown, it’s believed to have originated with Hebrew rabbis in ancient times; there is also evidence of the Knights Templar using one during the Christian Crusades in the Middle Ages. It’s known to have disappeared until the 18th century when some Freemasons used  the cipher to keep records and rites private, and for correspondence between lodge leaders or brothers. One can sometimes see ciphered messages engraved on the tombstones of Freemasons; this cipher was also used during the Civil War by Union prisoners to communicate in Confederate prison camps. 

Masonic Cipher inscribed on an 18th century gravestone

How It Works

The core elements of this system are the grid and dots; some feature X’s, like the image above. There are many variants of this cipher, who’s structure and elements are the same, but feature different symbols. Each occurrence of a letter is replaced with a designated symbol, with each symbol assigned to the letters with a key. See the example below of how you can unlock a message using one iteration of the Masonic Cipher.

"X Marks The Spot" written in the Masonic Cipher
Masonic Cipher Key

The Masonic Cipher and Pirates

According to legend, in when the pirate Olivier Levasseur was hanged, he ripped his necklace off and threw it into the crowd, crying out about a secret treasure. The necklace supposedly contained a line Masonic (Pigpen) Cipher. Unfortunately, when decrypted, the note revealed to be a jumbled message in French that did not allude to any treasure, but possibly for an ancient traditional folk remedy or spell. 

Ciphers Today

While today ciphers aren’t used in secret messages or in pirate treasure maps, they are very crucial in securing online communications. They are also used in Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to connect remote workers or company branches into the larger corporate networks. We can also thank ciphers for protecting data privacy in most Wi-Fi networks, online banking and e-commerce, and communications through our cell phones.

Interested in learning more about Masonic history and symbols? Explore our blog on Masonic Coins and Tokens.

Have you seen the Masonic Cipher used in modern times? If so, tell us about your experience on social media by tagging @GrandLodgeOhio on Facebook and Twitter. 

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Freemason Books

Masonic Books

  Freemason Books
Basic Foundational Reading

Free, Downloadable
Masonic Books

The following Freemason books links will take you to Masonic websites where you can browse from a list of many different Freemason books which are in .PDF format.

If you are curious about the craft and want to learn more about Freemasonry, the links to other Masonic websites which offer them are below.

Disclaimer - In linking to these, I am under the assumption that each of the books is in the public domain and not currently under copyright.

If you find any books or articles which are still under copyright, and are not free to download or read without authorization, please contact me and I will remove the link to them. Thank you.

Masonic Books
 Free To Read, Online

Masonic Books Online - Courtesy of

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The Masonic books below, may be purchased

There are literally thousands of Freemason books about Freemasonry's many different facets. However, I feel that the books, below, will give you an excellent foundation to begin your Masonic reading journey.

Click on each book's title link to view its content details of what it is about.

The Craft and Its Symbols

by Allen Roberts

As a newly Entered Apprentice, if you only buy one of the many Freemason books about Masonic symbols, make it this one.

Freemason Gift

If you are looking for a gift for the Freemason in your life, especially before their Entered Apprentice degree, this book will help the new Freemason to understand the symbolic meanings within each conferred degree before it is conferred.

The Craft and Its Symbols explains the symbols and symbolism within the ritual of each of the 3 degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason.)

This book should be on the shelf in every lodge library for new members to check out and return, (of course). If it is not currently on your library shelf, consider donating a few to your lodge library for new (and existing) members to read.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry

by Brent Morris

Blue Lodge Proficiency Guide

by Johnny Valentino

Learning Masonic Ritual

by Rick Smith

The Mason's Words: The History and Evolution of the American Masonic Ritual

An in-depth study of ritual words that are often memorized and spoken, but rarely fully understood.

Bible Study For Freemasons
by Dr. Robert J.F. Elsner

Much of Freemasonry's ritual is comprised of verses from the Christian Bible, a copy of which was presented to each new Master Mason during their Bible presentation ceremony.   It is from the Bible that Freemasons seek more light. 

Fiat lux is a Latin phrase for, "Let there be light."

Genesis 3 and 4:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

If ritual verses do not make sense to you, buy this book and follow along using your own Bible for a fuller understanding of the Masonic light which all Freemasons seek. 

Freemasons For Dummies

by Christopher Hodapp

Secrets of Freemasons

by Barb Karg and John K. Young

The Meaning of Masonry

by W.L. Wilsmhurst

Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry-Volumes

by Dr. Albert Mackey and enlarged by Robert I. Clegg

These volumes are excellent reference books for:

  • Quickly looking up history, symbols, words, and their meanings.
  • Assisting Masonic Lodge education officers to read and inculcate (teach) Freemasonry to our members.
  • Anyone who truly wishes to understand the history of Freemasonry; its Lodges, Grand Lodges, the Scottish and York Rites, Knights Templar, and much more.

The Symbolism of Freemasonry

by Dr. Albert G. Mackey

Look to the East

by Ralph P. Lester

Duncan's Ritual

by Malcolm Duncan

The Principles of Masonic Law

by Dr. Albert G. Mackey

Masonic Catch-e-Kism

by M.J. Barrett

A Question and Answer book.

Old Tiler Talks

by Carl Claudy

A good book for a Past Master who enjoys continuing his own knowledge and to help him mentor the brethren.

The Lodge Officer's Handbook

by James Hatcher

An invaluable learning tool for any brother who is moving up through the chairs and needs to know what is expected of him in each officer's position. Highly recommended.

Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C.

by Christopher Hodapp

A Bridge To Light

by Rex R. Hutchens

An introspective explanation of the Scottish Rite upper degrees

Morals and Dogma of The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry: First Three Degrees

by Albert Pike

Tedious reading, but a wealth of knowledge.

Masonic Words and Phrases

by Michael R. Poll

The History of Freemasonry; Its Legendary Origins

by Dr. Albert G. Mackey

Mackey's Jurisprudence of Freemasonry

by Dr. Albert G. Mackey

Masonic laws and governance. Some of your own Grand Lodge laws may supersede these written laws, however, this book is foundational to understanding and practicing Masonic law.

Observing the Craft: The Pursuit of Excellence in Masonic Labour and Observance

by Andrew Hammer

"Observing the Craft" is about the necessity of revisiting and re-embracing the true spiritual light within Freemasonry through study and a deeper understanding of its principles.

This book provides an excellent introspection into the need to go "back to the basics" within our lodges, and it rightfully calls each member to be a guiding light to assist both new and long-time brothers to truly learn the meaning of the Craft, and not simply be satisfied to only memorize the words within the ritual.

The Masonic Wife

by Simon Pierce

I wrote this book to answer many of the questions that men and women have about Freemasonry. It will answer questions such as:

  • Is Freemasonry Good or Evil?
  • If it's such a "good" fraternity then, why is it so secretive?
  • Will I really have to ride a goat?
  • What do all these strange symbols mean to a Freemason?
  • What are all these secrets which are so secret that members cannot share them with their wives?
The Masonic Wife ebook

For The Worshipful Master and All Officers Who Are Preparing to Ascend The Officer Chairs

Macoy's Modern Worshipful Master's Assistant

Rare Masonic Books

If you are a collector of original or older works by famous Freemason authors of rarely found Masonic books for your Masonic library, feel free to browse the links on my Rare Masonic Books page.

Even if you are not a collector, you may find many of these works to be interesting historical Masonic reading.

Freemason Books

Freemason books help us to learn what Freemasonry is all about.

To those who truly study Freemasonry's history, its symbols, and its ritual, you will learn that the Bible you were given at your initiation is not simply a token book, gifted to you to be placed into a drawer, and kept as a keepsake.

Much of the archaically written ritual which you are learning is taken directly from biblical scriptures.

Once you understand the meaning of the Freemason symbols, coupled with the biblical phrases within the ritual, learning ritual becomes much easier because it will all come together into an understandable whole, (and, actually make sense), rather than simply memorizing pages and pages which contain a lot of strange words and phrases.

Once you see the correlation, please mentor others in your lodge so they too, can understand and benefit. 

Here is an example of biblical Masonic Degree Verse scriptures used within ritual, their meanings, and the correlation to the different stages in every man's life.

Related Pages

Masonic Rings

Rare Masonic Books

If you are a newly Entered Apprentice, I would suggest you read about one of Freemasonry's most important symbols, The Pythagorean Theorem, also known as the 47th Problem of Euclid.

Lodge Etiquette

Freemason Symbols

Masonic Degree Verses

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The secret world of female Freemasons - BBC News


Plato's Republic and the Masonic Ritual THE INFLUENCE OF PLATO'S REPUBLIC

by V.W. Bro. Stephen MICHALAK
Deputy Grand Lecturer, Grand Lodge of South Australia and N.T.

Plato’s philosophy is at the core of modern Freemasonry. There are many themes that are adopted in Emulation Ritual from Plato’s writings. The Author has isolated them and provided evidence of these correspondences between Plato’s writings and our Emulation Ritual. A well researched interpretation of Emulation Ritual from the perspective of Greek history, philosophy and mythology.


by Thomas De Quincey

In this essay De Quincey affirms that "Free-Masonry is neither more nor less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it to England". Originally published in the London Magazine of January

by Robert Freke Gould, revised by Dudley Wright - New York,

This edition in six volumes embraces not only an investigation of records of the organizations of the Fraternity in England, Scotland, Ireland, the British Colonies, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, but includes additional material especcially prepared on Europe, Asia and Africa also contributions by distinguished members of the Fraternity covering each of the forty-eight States, District of Columbia and the Possessions of the United States, the Provinces of Canada and the Countries of Latin America.

Encyclopedia of Freemasonry AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREEMASONRY
and its kindred sciences.

by W.Bro. Albert Gallatin MACKEY 33°

by Charles W. MOORE


Illustrations of Masonry ILLUSTRATIONS OF MASONRY
by William PRESTON
Past Master of the Lodge of Antiquity

The Book of Constitutions of the Antient Grand Lodge of England

by Laurence DERMOTT
Grand Secretary () Deputy Grand Master ()
of the Antient Grand Lodge of England ("The Antients").

lessico della Massoneria LESSICO DELLA MASSONERIA
di Albert Gallatin MACKEY
Per la prima volta online la traduzione completa in italiano del libro.

THE SQUARE AND COMPASSES - In search of Freemasonry
Lodge Endeavor No The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, Australia

symbolism of freemasonry THE SYMBOLISM OF FREEMASONRY:
Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy,
Its Legends,Myths and Symbols.

by W.Bro. Albert Gallatin MACKEY

masonic law and jurisdiction THE PRINCIPLES OF MASONIC LAW :
A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry

by W.Bro. Albert Gallatin MACKEY

the history of freemasonry
by W.Bro. Albert Gallatin MACKEY

meaning of freemasonry THE MEANING OF MASONRY
A philosophical exposition of the character of the Craft

by Walter Leslie WILMSHURST
Past Provincial Grand Registrar in West Yorkshire,UGLE

masonic initiation MASONIC INITIATION
The sequel of The Meaning of Masonry by the same Author

by Walter Leslie WILMSHURST
Past Asst. Grand Director of Ceremonies, UGLE -

acient accepted scottishrite MORALS and DOGMA
of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry , prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States: Charleston,

by Bro. Albert PIKE 33°
freemasonry hidden meaning FREEMASONRY: ITS HIDDEN MEANING
A spiritual interpretation of the esoteric work of the Masonic lodge, analyzes the lectures and symbols of the three degrees.

by George H. STEINMETZ

To all Builders in the Spirit

Grand Chaplain, IOWA -

by W.Bro. J.S.M. WARD

by W.Bro. J.S.M. WARD

by W.Bro. J.S.M. WARD

by W.Bro. J.S.M. WARD

by W.Bro. J.S.M. WARD

A book for Worshipful Masters

by W.Bro. Carl H. CLAUDY

First Degree: Entered Apprentice

by W.Bro. Carl H. CLAUDY

Second Degree: Fellowcraft

by W.Bro. Carl H. CLAUDY

Third Degree: Master Mason

by W.Bro. Carl H. CLAUDY

Massoneria, Rosacrocianesimo e Illuminismo nella Russia settecentesca.

della Dr.ssa Raffaella FAGGIONATO
Università di Udine, Dipartimento di Lingue e Civiltà dell'Europa centro-orientale

Un Libro Masónico para los Aprendices.

por el V:.H:. Omar CARTES
Logia Guatimozín 66, Grande Logia Masónica del Estado de San Paulo, Brasil.

Um Livro Maçônico para os Aprendizes.

pelo Ven.Irmão Omar CARTES
Loja Guatimozín 66, Grande Loja Maçônica do Estado de São Paulo,Brasil

por el M:.R:.H:. Leo Krugerman

Un estudio sobre el Pensamiento de Fulcanelli desde una perspectiva Masónica Espiritualista.
"Captad un rayo de sol, condensadlo en forma sustancial, nutrid de fuego elemental ese fuego espiritual corporizado, y tendréis el mayor tesoro del mundo." Fulcanelli


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