“So mote it be” is a ritual phrase used by Freemasons, in Rosicrucianism, and more recently by Neopagans. It means “so may it be”, “so it is required”, or “so must it be”, and may be said at the end of a prayer in a similar way to “amen”. The phrase appears in the Halliwell or Regius Manuscript, the earliest known document relating to a society of Masons in England dating from the first half of the 15th Century. ” Amen! amen! so mot hyt be! Say we so all per charyté”.
The phrase has been taken up by neopagans and they use it in a similar way in their ceremonies and rituals.
Why Do Freemasons End Their Prayers With The Phrase “So Mote It Be”?
It is customary in contemporary English to end prayers with a hearty “Amen,” a word meaning “So be it.” It is a Latin word derived from the Hebrew word
meaning “certainly.” Thus a congregation saying “Amen” is literally saying “So be it.” The word mote is an archaic verb that means “may” or “might,” and traces back to Old English. The phrase “So mote it be” means “So may it be,” which is the same as “So be it.”
Now that we’ve established the equivalence of “Amen” and “So mote it be,” the question remains, “Why do Masons end their prayers with ‘So mote it be’?” The answer goes back to the Regius Poem of about 1390 AD, the oldest known Masonic document (now housed in the British Museum, London). It is one of the Old Charges or Gothic Constitution used by early Freemasons to regulate their trade. It has a legendary history, regulations to guide the Mason trade and rules of manners and moral conduct. The poem ends famously with this couplet:
Caption: A detail from a facsimile depicting the closing couplet of The Regius Poem (Masonic Book Club, 1970)
Amen! Amen! So mote it be!
So say we all for charity.
Thus Freemasons today end their prayers the same way they did in 1390. The next time you’re in lodge and say “So mote it be” after the chaplain finishes a prayer, remember that you are continuing a 600-year-old Masonic tradition.