When the Initiate has gone up his three steps, we drop the figure of a ladder and adopt the more dignified one of a staircase. At that point there is a landing where the J.W. bars further progress. And indeed after every advance we are supposed to come to another landing.
The "several Degrees" answer to the "many rounds" of which we have spoken to the Initiate in connection with his Ladder, and this helps to express the plain fact that "Masonry is a progressive science"; a fact which has been a great encouragement to millions in their upward moral and intellectual ascent. There is more to learn ! And the hope of achieving further progress will show itself in our perseverance.
We know that our Ancient Brethren idealized  the Staircase in K.S.T. and made much of it. To them it was a symbol rather than a utility, emblematic of human life, which they viewed as an ascent. Thus, in the symbolism of the Zohar, Man himself, that is, the Candidate or Adept, as the case might be, was the Ladder whereby the soul rose heavenward; the lower extremities of his body, that is to say, his feet, rested on the earth, while the top, his head, "reached to the heavens," the goal of his aspirations.
And this had its parallel in the Ancient Mysteries. For according to Celsus (as quoted by Origen), in the Mithraic Ritual, the spirit of man was represented as going up and down through the planetary spheres by "a Ladder with seven gates and at the summit an eighth gate." These seven gates answered to the seven Degrees of Initiation; and these corresponded in turn to the seven planets, through whose spheres or orbits the Candidate was supposed to pass. The last represented the final deliverance of the soul and its re-absorption in the Life Divine. In Craft Masonry there is a survival of this, for the third section of the Mystic Ladder whereby we attain the sublime D. of a M.M. consists of seven steps.
 The symbolic significance of the other staves or rounds in the ladder have not been explained to the Initiate, because he was only concerned with the first three. But he was told that there were "many" rounds, too many for a detailed explanation to be attempted.
At first the progress made may seem insignificant, and we may not be conscious of any ascending movement; but as we go on mounting one step after another of the Staircase, we see further and further, great heights come into view away on the horizon, and the ever- widening vision is positive and incontrovertible proof of the fact that we have risen considerably above our starting point. Things may appear as mere shadows, and the way we have to follow may be scarcely discernible, but our experience justifies the W.M, in exhorting us to endeavor to make "a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge." There certainly is plenty of scope for this.
The "due form" prescribed for advancing to the E., in the Second Degree, is "as if ascending a Winding Staircase." This should be no secret for him; for with a little reflection he will see that he is already on the first landing, the point reached by the E.A., and he is now  going up the second section, consisting of five steps.
It is curious how each successive section of the Staircase shows an extension. There are three flights of steps, with 3 - 5 - 7 steps respectively, producing a total of 15, this being a numerical symbol.
When the Craftsman has gone as high as he can, he is informed that he has climbed one half the Mystic Ladder; that is, he is, in fact, "in the midway of Freemasonry." And this is obvious, for he gets up to the eighth step, which is half-way in a Staircase of fifteen steps. Really and truly the symbol goes deeper than either the E.A. or the F.C. can yet fathom, as we shall see presently.
How far this number rests on historic fact we may be able to judge from the following data. In Herod's Temple (the one destroyed by the Romans), in passing from the large area, known as "the Women's Court" (so named because it was accessible to the women) to "the Court of the Men of Israel," one had to ascend a flight of fifteen steps; and the Talmud tells us that these fifteen steps corresponded in number to the Fifteen Psalms, 120 to 134, called by us "Songs of Degrees," or "of the  Steps," because they were sung during the ascent.
Then, too, we may note that in Ezekiel's
Temple there were seven steps at the main
gate at the E., and eight more at the Inner Gate leading to the Inner Court, or altogether fifteen (see xl. 22, 26, 31).
But the number may also be traced back to K.S.T., for the three rows of Chambers which we said were built on three sides of the Temple, one on top of the other, were five cubits high, and so the three combined give us a total of fifteen.
In Ezekiel's Temple the entrance for the general public was at the Porch, and according to the Septuagint (Ez. xl. 48) the width was 14 cubits; that of the Holy Place was 10 cubits wide; and that of the Sanctum Sanctorum was only 6 cubits wide; that is, they were double the numbers 7 - 5 - 3. And as the width of K.S.T. was 20 cubits throughout, applying these measurements, we shall find that the wall projections, or "side pieces," were in exactly the opposite ratios, 3 - 5 - 7 cubits, to right and left of the three entrances respectively.
From these analogies we naturally infer
that  15 was a standard number among the builders of K.S.T.
It may have been prescribed by regulations; it certainly was normally
accepted for general application. On this ground, then, we may
presume that it was also that of the symbolic steps in the Winding
Staircase. Of course, the actual total of steps may have been
more. The Ritual contemplates a few in excess of what was required
for the purpose of symbolism; the statement is "3 - 5 - 7
or more." But it is questionable whether there were many
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