The Masonic Apron
The apron is the initial gift of Freemasonry to a candidate. The word derives from the French “napron,” meaning a cloth, and from the expression “a napron” evolved “an apron” in English. The candidate is instructed to wear this distinctive badge throughout an honourable Masonic life. As we will see, the presentation or Rite of Investiture symbolizes the candidate’s new life of understanding and inner purification.Our speculative use of the apron derives from both historical and operative sources. From the historical perspective, we learn about initiatory and religious functions. The initiate into ancient Orders traveled a so-called Rite of Passage, whereby he symbolically matured from the naïveté or spiritual darkness of the child to “enlightenment” as an adult. He became “cleansed of impurities“ of both the mind and spirit
This “redemption” or “regeneration” afforded his placement into a milieu of special human fellowship, moral truth and spiritual faith.
White aprons were worn upon initiation into the ancient mysteries of Mithras; the Jewish cult of the Essenes and Chinese secret societies. They were worn by ancient Jewish and Druidic high priests.The early Christians wore them when baptized. The Persians used it as a national banner. It adorned Greek and Egyptians gods.
It was used by the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs and Hopi Indians, the Vikings, the Zulus and by the Anglican clergy. Because men wore them as emblems of their high office or position, the apron acquired an aura of authority and respect in many diverse cultures.From the religious or mystical standpoint, the white apron was regarded as a sign of purity. It covered the lower portion of the body, which was associated with uncleanness and immorality. The sash or band used to tie the apron separated the upper and lower parts, and when worn at prayer, reminded one of the functional priority of heart and mind.The “mystics” spoke of the four physical (earth, air, fire and water) and three spiritual (presence, knowledge and power: symbolic of Deity), which add up to the Pythagorean “perfect” number seven.