The Importance of Gloves
Gloves are used and worn in many Lodges. In our own ritual, we are required to wear white gloves, something we rarely do and which I hope more of us will do. So why do we wear white gloves?
We know that white, like the color of our aprons, represents purity. By using gloves, we show that every action we take should also be as pure. The Templars, for example, knew three classes: the knights, the sergeants, and the Clerics. Clerics were priests who acted as Chaplains to the order, and wore gloves at all times, to keep their hands clean for "when they touch God” in serving mass.
Gloves are also seen as a symbol of power. Its first application were probably more for military use, as the carrying of heavy weapons such as spears and axes, required a stronger grip. Hence, giving someone a pair of gloves meant giving them certain powers. Kings and
Queenswere given gloves as part of their coronation ceremony. As part of the ceremony making priests Bishops, a glove is bestowed on them like other high clergy, and they often have oversized rings made to wear over the glove. The right hand glove has often been given a special meaning, as it is a custom to remove the glove when approaching a person of higher rank, an Altar or the Lord - it symbolizes disarming oneself before one’s superiors, and since the right hand pertains to the voice and to the rationale side of Man, it is a custom which suggests candor and the frank disclosure of one's mind.
The Knights Hospitallers burned their gloves to prevent them from being used for profane purposes.
Gloves therefore exhibit a duality. It protects (the hands) but can also symbolize destruction (for it can better carry weapons and the like). In court etiquette, if a gentleman gave a lady perfumed gloves, and she accepted, it established a special relationship between the two. On the other hand, condemnation was signified by the throwing of one’s gloves, as medieval judges did by throwing their gloves to convicts.
Commonly in French and German Masonry, a newly made Mason is given not one, but two pairs of gloves - one for himself to "perform his work in the Lodge", but the other for his wife or women he most esteems, who shares in his understandings and labors of life.
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