Why do we start a perambulation with our Left Foot?

Moderators: Peter Dowling, Peter Moir, MrBenn, Peter Taylor, JulesTheBit, middlepillar

Why do we start a perambulation with our Left Foot?

Postby JoeClark » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:40 pm


Why do we start the perambulation with our left foot. I have been asking this question for quite sometime but never got or found any answer.

In Hindu culture, when we enter a Temple we always step of with our right foot so I am not sure if there are any religious significance to this?
Please help.

Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:42 am

Re: Why do we start a perambulation with our Left Foot?

Postby Peter Taylor » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:10 pm

We always step off with the left foot regardless of the degree.

Now, is it because the left is considered to be the weaker part of man, it therefore signifies that it is the weaker part of masonry that you are engaging upon - it being of an entered apprentice.

I have heard also that the left side of man is the 'good' side, (it contains the heart for example), and that the right contains the so called evil part of man. So by putting the left foot forward you're putting good before evil. Putting your best foot forward!

To "put your best foot forward" means, of course, to get off to a good start or to make the best impression possible. The phrase first appeared in the 16th century, and Shakespeare used the form "better foot" in the same sense.

Unfortunately, the origin and logic of "put your best foot forward" is a bit uncertain. There is some evidence that to "put your best foot forward" originally meant to walk briskly by starting off on one's "best" (i.e., strongest) foot, an apt metaphor for making a good impression. Various theories further hold that the right foot was considered at one time the more "rational" foot (as opposed to the irrational, emotional left) and that the right, in ancient folklore, is the lucky foot and the left unlucky. If so, to start a journey, whether literal or metaphorical, on one's strong, lucky, rational foot would certainly be advisable. Which of course would mean we should step off on the right!

Interestingly the phrase to put your best foot forward was first recorded in 1613 from Sir Thomas Overbury:
"Hee is still setting the best foot forward."

The Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings dates "Always put your best foot forward" to 1495, but provides no supporting evidence for that.

This is rather an odd saying as it implies you have three or more feet. Cows may be able to put their best foot forward but 'put your better foot forward' would make more sense for humans. Shakespeare used a form of that expression in King John:

"Nay, but make haste; the better foot before."

It may have nothing to do with it but in the British army a squad marches off by stepping off with the left foot. A command “By the right…” refers to the file that moves off not the foot, which is always the left. It is also normal to time a command so that it occurs when the squads’ left feet hit the ground. (With the exception of “left turn) When ordered to attention it is the left foot that is stamped.

Stepping back with the right foot could be for similar reasons as mentioned above; putting evil behind, or using the stronger or rational foot.

Having sad that it is perhaps physically the "better" foot to use when giving certain signs, i.e. it's more conducive to the movement of the body etc.

Other theories include, the left foot being associated with trampling the king of terrors underfoot - if your MM ritual includes that reference. In ancient Egyptian times there was ritual of trampling under the left foot wax images of the evil serpent Apopis. This is commemorated by statues of the Widow Isis and Mary trampling upon a serpent with their left heel.

Another could be that the left is the feelings' side, the right one belongs to reason.

In EA degree man has to subdue his passions, to work on his emotional side: so the march starts with the left foot.

Having said all that, and whilst not poo poohing the deeper spiritual meanings of using the left foot first, it could always be just a co-incidence, after all there is only a choice of two?
Regards, Peter
Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire, PM Albert Lochee 448, PM Discovery 1789, Honorary, 49, 54, 99, 164, 225, 299, 317, 327, 486, 1220, 1308, Proxy Master 1371 SC, Zambia: Associate 198, Colorado: PZ RA Chapter Albert 503: RW Mark Master: RAM, CC: AASR 31°, PMWS, PGC: SRIS 9°PC HC: ROoS: OSM: KT: KTP: RCC: Squaremen
User avatar
Peter Taylor
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 20774
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2005 3:04 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Re: Why do we start a perambulation with our Left Foot?

Postby Trouillogan » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:51 pm

Freemasonry spread around the globe through our military unit lodges (mostly manned by the Scots and Irish), so it would be natural for them to step off with the left foot. There's no deep meaning beyond that I'm sure. If there ever was, it has now been forgotten.
User avatar
LRUK Grand Supreme Master
LRUK Grand Supreme Master
Posts: 3234
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:19 pm
Location: West Sussex, UK

Return to Freemasonry Today

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests