According to the Traditional History of the Second Degree, the Craftsmen "passed" up the Winding Staircase. This, however, cannot mean that they went up to the highest point to which the Mason is permitted to rise. Their ascent is indicated by 3 + 5 = 8 steps, bringing them to the top of the second flight of steps and the corresponding landing. Here they found a door, the door admitting them to the Middle Chamber; it was "open," that is, it gave them access to the interior and to the  secrets of the F.C. Lodge, but was " properly tiled . . . by the S.W." They had to satisfy him as to their qualifications, but after giving him those "convincing proofs" which we know of, he allowed them to cross the threshold. It should be noted, however, that now they became not mere Craftsmen, but aspirants to the Higher Mysteries.
We are not told what further ordeals awaited them after this; but we know that there still was a flight of seven steps and that if they attempted to go higher they would come across the W.M. himself, who would also have to be satisfied as to the qualifications required for the Higher Mysteries.
The landing suggests an interval in Masonic progress. The door being open wide, however, the F.C. obtains a first glimpse of the great secret. The S.W., stationed there by the door, is mute as to how, or when, that Mystery is to be unfolded. His chief concern is to ascertain whether the Candidate is qualified to enter. In a way the Mystery is already revealed to him; that is, he obtains a glimpse of the emblem in which it is embodied, which is exhibited to his eyes, but without being vouchsafed any explanation of it, except for  the three facts mentioned: (1) that the said emblem has inscribed in it certain Hebrew characters which in modern times have been substituted by the Roman letter G; (2) that those characters have an allusion to the G.G.O.T.U.; (3) and that it is situated in the center of the building.
This provides the F.C. much food for thought. In common with the Kabbalists, our Ancient Brethren spoke of a mystic Word which was lost long ago, or which for some reason had been withheld from man's knowledge. And they said that whenever this Word came to be restored to men, or recovered, it would be found to make plain the riddle of the Universe, and, by implication, would supply the key to the enigma of K.S.T., which was modeled on cosmic lines. Is it possible that those Hebrew characters may yield the word?
The F.C. is on his way to the recovery of the lost Word, but, alas, before long he will find that in Craft Masonry everything connected with the Mysteries and the "genuine secrets" has given place to " certain substituted secrets," and that the object of his quest is not to be attained until he has passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
 May we not suppose, however, that those Hebrew Characters referred to, have something to do with the Word in question? Our R.A. Companions could tell us whether this is so; but we dare not anticipate: "Put your fingers on your l . . . etc."
The Hindus have a cryptogram which they invest with peculiar sanctity, viz., a-u-m, a word concerning which the Katha-Upanishad says: "Whoever knows this syllable obtains whatever he wishes." This cryptogram of Oriental mysticism has been the subject of considerable speculation; and many hold that it denotes the Spiritual Sun, in contradistinction to Sooraj, the Sun of the physical world. Here we would point out, however, that our Mediaeval Brethren were acquainted with this cryptogram, for they used the three essential sounds or letters, in connection with the three Jubals, or Artisans, mentioned in their Traditional History, thus: JubelA, JubelO, JubelumM.
The importance of this subject will appear when we remember the expression "Wordperfect." Nowadays we use it as signifying that a Brother is able to rehearse the Ceremonies without the slightest deviation from  the authorized version; but in olden times it meant that he was in the possession of the mysterious "Mason Word." That made him a Mason; and it was considered the most convincing proof of all.
As far back as 1687 the imparting of this
Word was considered the most essential part of the Ceremonies
in the Lodge; for in that year the Rev. George Hickes, when describing
the Mason Word, said that it was "a secret signal" supposed
to be as old as the Tower of Babel or at least as the time of
Solomon; by which he leads us to infer (a) that it must have been
a Hebrew word, that language being then generally considered the
original form of human speech; and (b) that in communicating it,
the Masons of that time made use of some signs, gestures or movements
of the body; in other words, they gave the Word in a certain prescribed
"position." Only thus can the description of it as "a
signal" be justified.
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