We learn in the Fellow Craft Degree that a Mason’s wages are paid in corn, wine and oil. They were the most important products of the Middle East. They constituted the wealth of the people and were esteemed as the supports of life and the means of refreshment.
Corn is the symbol of nourishment, knowledge, sacrifice, prosperity and resurrection. In the Biblical sense, corn referred to kernels of any grain, wheat particularly. As early man attempted to symbolize abstract thought with commonly known items, corn or wheat became associated with spiritual and intellectual nourishment as well as physical. It also became a symbol of resurrection, because, if stored properly during the winter months, it will produce when planted in the spring.
Wine is used as an element of Masonic consecration as a symbol of the inward refreshment of a good conscience and reminds us of the eternal refreshments which the good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of duty in the present. Among the ancients, blood was endowed with great sanctity and considered synonymous with life. Probably because of its color and nutritional value, wine became the symbol for blood and hence of life itself. So wine restores the body and the jaded energies of the soul.
In Biblical times, oil was made from olives. It was used as a cosmetic, a medicine, as fuel for lighting, and an ingredient for food. All of these uses became associated with a symbolic significance of pleasure, gladness and joy.
Together, corn, wine and oil symbolically represent the wages or rewards of a good life. When a man has attained a perfection of personal spirit and thought and concern for his fellow creatures is he entitled to those spiritual wages of the corn or nourishment, the wine of refreshment in body and soul and the oil of joy in work well performed.
Compiled by Jack R. Levitt
Past Grand Master of California