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Symbolism of the kiss

The Masonic kiss


Masons and bricklayers are accustomed to show their brotherly affection to each other physically; they usually do this either by hugging or kissing each other; perhaps the origin of this kiss can be found in Paul's famous injunction "Salutate invicem in osculo sancto" (2nd Epistle to the Corinthians) or in "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss" (I Thessalonians 5:26).


When it comes to the hug, there is sometimes confusion with the hug, which is of chivalric origin (which is also found in Freemasonry today with the triple tap on the left shoulder).


The Masonic kiss is generally done by three: the first on the right cheek, the second on the left cheek and the third again on the right cheek; it should be noted that in African lodges it is not generally practiced this kiss but a fraternal and triple confrontation of the foreheads.


We find the kiss on the forehead in the rituals of the high ranks and we also sometimes see venerable masters in certain rites make this third kiss on the forehead at the moment of the reception of the new initiate in place of the third kiss on the right cheek.


What meanings should be given to this kiss on the forehead?


In the profane world, the kiss on the forehead is generally not preceded by a kiss or kisses on the cheeks. It symbolizes a particular affection with a strong connotation of protection.


While there are many studies concerning the kiss on the mouth, the kiss on the forehead is the subject of much less literature. The use of this practice in the course of history is most often found in relations between vassal and lord, or in the early days of the Christian Church.


The majority of references to kissing on the forehead concern relations between subjects engaged in a relationship of filiation or protection. For it should be noted that the one who gives the kiss is not the same as the one who receives it, unlike the kiss on the cheek, or on the lips; "Fathers and mothers must kiss their children on the forehead. " states the Dictionary of Fury in 1690.


At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, this advice is found in the "good manners":


"The Countess de Gencé advises self-respecting young girls to remain "sober with hugs".


One kisses between childhood friends or parents, on the cheek if the age difference is not great, otherwise on the forehead. It's always the oldest who takes the initiative, and no kissing can be exchanged on the street or in a public place. (reference: "The Kiss: First Lessons of Love")


In Freemasonry, we find a reference to the kiss on the forehead to the rite practiced by the Scottish Mother-Loge of Marseilles (1750), or Philosophical Rite in 18 degrees, in the ritual of the double grade General of the Argonauts and Knight of the Golden Fleece (10th and 11th grade) where in the context of the recipient's instruction it is said :  


 "The embrace is to kiss on the forehead the one who recognizes you and must return the same."  


You can see the connection between the chivalric collar, the hug and the kiss on the forehead. One could say that this one doesn't really have the same protective content as in the profane sense but that of recognition and admission.


It is also mentioned in William Morgan's book "Mysteries of Freemasonry" (1826) in a reception of a grade of perfection "Some Knights, in addition to this, kiss the forehead of the brother saying "Alpha" to which he answers "Omega". "In this case it does not fall within the scope of the triple kiss.


In the Rectified Scottish Rite, it is in the third degree that after the elevation, the ritual enjoins the VM :


" He kisses her with a brotherly kiss on both cheeks and forehead. »


One could ask the question of the place of the kiss on the forehead in the Masonic ritual; symbolic gesture which is placed in the recognition, protection or brotherhood, would it not deserve to be more practiced?

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Médecin retraité ; initié en 1979 au Grand Orient de France.

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