There many words and themes which recur in the rituals of freemasonry. To the uninitiated they may seem like gobbledy gook. Indeed, to many brethren they appear so. This need not be the case. Any brother who wants to look past the more obvious attractions of the craft can arm himself with a wealth of knowledge not available to the layman. This is not to say that a non mason can not gain this knowledge. There many web sites which either give or purport to give sound advice on the esoteric origins of the craft. Only someone initiated into the craft can see these things in the true context in which they belong. The problem for a non mason is that he cannot possibly know if what he is reading is true.
Let us consider one of those strange words and see what we make of it. Let’s look at the word “hele”. It is pronounced heel. Masons agree to “hele, conceal and never improperly reveal” in most of their obligations. What does it mean then? Dictionary.com defines it thus; To hide; to cover; to roof. It also says that it is obsolete. Clearly, the passage is about keeping secrets. If it is used in the sense of hiding or covering, why then use the word “conceal” in the same passage? It means the same thing. It would appear to be pulling a very long bow to suggest that it is used in the sense of “to roof”.
The fact that it is obsolete is not unusual. Much of the language of the craft, would fit proudly in the pages of Shakespeare or Bacon. For the author, the real “strangeness” of the word is not so much its obsolescence, or the quaint phraseology within which it resides, it is the fact that it is repeating itself. Were these secrets so great that our forbears wanted to be absolutely sure that we would understand that we were not to reveal them? Or was it simply the language of the day in which it was written?