The originality of the Masonic approach is to use symbols as an element of language of a global thought.
This does not mean that the use of symbolism is specific to the Masonic approach! Everyone can know that symbolic thought seems inherent to the human species (cf. the works of Jean Piaget). See the article on symbolic thought.
Rituals are the first media where the use of symbolic language completes the formal explanation.
The set of symbols constitutes a puzzle where each piece brings a touch of meaning.
Représenter ce qu'on aime, ce à quoi on croît, c'est le plaisir des êtres humains ! Ce diaporama vous montrera quelques belles images de l'iconographie symbolique maçonnique et ésotérique !
A basic example
The square: symbol of rectitude and respect for irreproachable ethics,
The compass: symbol of the necessary globality in reflection which must be inspired by freedom of conscience and spirituality,
The trowel: symbol of the necessary social cohesion, a remarkable cement in an approach of solidarity,
The mallet: symbol of authority.
The perception of the symbol: the exercise of freedom of conscience!
Symbolism has the particularity of having a semantic content with a variable geometry depending on who appropriates it; it's a bit like paintings: there is the meaning given by the painter and the meaning that each spectator discovers.
In Freemasonry, symbols are found in rituals and as decorative objects; if the primary meaning of the authors is most often borrowed from biblical symbols, other meanings may have been given by commentators or even by the Freemasons themselves.
This work of appropriation does not always concern all the symbols but, even reduced to a few, it allows a better adherence to symbolic thought.
This work of appropriation for each symbol discovered is therefore the first work to be done to understand and love Masonic symbolism.
This is also essential to realize that the symbolic function has above all a "protective" function!