The word myth, from the Greek, meaning a story, in it original acceptation, signified simply a statement or narrative of an event, without any necessary implication of truth or falsehood; but, as the word is now used, it conveys the idea of a personal narrative of remote date, which, although not necessarily untrue, is certified only by the internal evidence of the tradition itself. The word was first applied to those fables of the Pagan gods which have descended from remotest antiquity.

As applied to Freemasonry, the words myth and legend are synonymous. Freemasonry is a symbolic institution - everything in and about it is symbolic - and nothing more eminently so than its traditions. Although some of them - as, for instance, the Legend of the Third Degree - have in all probability a deep substratum of truth lying beneath, over this there is superposed a beautiful structure of symbolism.

History has, perhaps, first suggested the tradition; but then the legend, like the myths of the ancient poets, becomes a symbol, which is to enunciate some sublime philosophical or religious truth. Read in this way, and in this way only, the myths or legends and traditions of Freemasonry will become interesting and instructive.

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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