The Winding Staircase of the Craftsman may be treated in three different ways: as an actual symbol which we see depicted on the second T.B.; as an historical allusion which occurs in the Ritual; and as a philosophical conception.
The only visible representation of the Winding Staircase to be found within the Lodge is in the allegorical T.B. of the F.C. The Masons have always connected this symbol with the actual Staircase in K.S.T., which is represented as a remarkable and a unique piece of architecture.
In K.S.T. there was indeed such a Staircase; it is referred to in our Traditional History. It was situated on the S. side, and gave access to the three rows of Chambers built against the N., W., and S. sides of the sacred edifice. Those of the second row were spoken of as "the Middle Chambers."
 Doubts have been raised as to the Staircase having been spiral, but the word employed in the Hebrew original, Lulim, means something that "turns round and round"; while the rendering of this word into the Greek helikte by the LXX (cf. it with the Latin helix, whence the English "helical") implies that the Jews of 2000 years ago understood the term in the sense we attach to it today.
Curiously enough, among the most interesting objects to be seen at St Paul's Cathedral, the work of a great Freemason, there is the famous "Geometrical Staircase."
The Latin word for Ladder is used by Lord Bacon as a most telling metaphor. For in outlining his great work, Instauratio Magna, he proposes to give part iv the title of Scala Intellectus, "The Ladder of the Mind," which is the very thought behind our symbol; for our Ladder is an ideal thing, with no objective existence, a mere metaphor, embodying the thought that to gain light we must lift up our mind and heart towards the mystic Sun of Freemasonry, the Source of all light, when, assisted by our Masonic arts, we shall be able to soar above the humdrum of our human misery, man's ordinary level.
 The original Staircase of Hebrew history has vanished, and we cannot now restore it. But the symbol is still at hand, and it conveys a lesson which may prove helpful to us. Its practical significance becomes abundantly clear when we are told that the Brethren possessed of Charity "in its most ample form" may be regarded as having ascended the mystic Ladder and having "attained the summit of their profession." Altruism must go with knowledge, and even our science, without Charity, would be worth nothing.
The existence of this Ladder is foreshadowed in the method of advancing observed in the First Degree. In the Lodge, the steps seem to be on level ground. In some places they speak of "bold or marching steps." But in Freemasonry we must never imagine any steps as being on level ground. Indeed, the figure of the Ladder implies that from beginning to end we are climbing. Moreover, we should remember that our historic prototype, K.S.T., stood on an eminence, and that therefore those who resorted thither had to do some climbing; they rose with every step they took, however insensible they might be of the fact. And as the Porch stood somewhat higher than the  street level, there were some steps to be ascended before one could enter at all.
This Ladder agrees with the information imparted to the Initiate, that there are "several Degrees in Freemasonry," for the word Degree is formed from the Latin grades, which means "a step," whence the English word "grade." The prefix de- in "Degree" signifies "a descending step," but we employ the word as a general term irrespective of any movement by those who use the Ladder, whether up or down. This word came into the English language through the Normans.
In the Explanation of the First T.B., the steps of the Initiate are compared to the "Staves or rungs" of a Ladder. Those three steps are his first effort to walk, and they are pronounced to be the "principal ones." This statement agrees with the fact that the beginning of a thing is always the most important part of it. Their significance is defined in order that we may see their importance.
The intimation given to the Initiate of such a Ladder is, of course, a mere introduction to the subject. But even while advancing to the P., he may perceive that those first paces signify progress; "a little longer . . . still longer,"  are phrases expressing promotion. And we may note that the proportions are more or less the same as 3 - 5 - 7 of which we speak to the F.C. They signify the three Degrees.
We are told that the Ladder of the Initiate is like the one which Jacob saw in a dream or vision; and this is true in two different ways: first, in that it is not material, but one that leads up to an "ethereal mansion"; and again, in that it is composed of "many staves or rounds." It is like that which Jacob saw, provided we accept the following naturalistic interpretation of the dream. During the day Jacob must have observed the glorious phenomenon of the Rainbow, spanning the sky, bridging heaven and earth; to the Hebrew mind the Rainbow was emblematic of God's reconciliation with man. So at night, although he found himself a fugitive in a desolate spot, homeless, estranged from his kith and kin, as the Rainbow projected itself within his subconscious mind, it brought relief to his feelings, for it helped him to realize that God was with him, as He had been with his forefathers.
This agrees with the fact that the Rainbow
was always among the symbols of our Mediaeval Brethren, which
to them suggested a Staircase  a Ladder or Scale of light.
It was composed of seven colors, viz., red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, indigo, and violet, but in that scale there were "three
principal ones" - three primary colors, viz., red, green,
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