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Masonic Symbolism: Lessons in Morality

Updated on June 13, 2010


We Masons, being free men of good rapport, have each made a solemn obligation to not divulge those aspects of Freemasonry to the uninitiated or unworthy.

What I am to communicate to you herein are based on the works of another person, retrieved from literature elsewise written, and that such information is more so the communication of education on moral teachings of Freemasonry -- I do this in hopes that those uninitiated and unworthy people of this world might be able to stop focusing on the specks in our eyes and realise the presence of the logs in their own.

Ref: Cracking the Freemasons Code
Robert LD Cooper. 2006

The Tracing Board

The symbolism on most tracing boards developed in tandom with Masonic ritual. One of the most striking aspects of a tracing board is its jumble of symbols that have no apparent connection with each other.

The tracing board (see picture) is dominated by the three pillars representing the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian styles of architecture. These each are in reference to Strength, Wisdom and Beauty; respectively. Also shown are:

  • the rough and smooth ashlars; representing the imperfect and perfect.
  • a sword lies against the Doric column; indicating the watchfulness against evil
  • the ruler, hammer and chisel are also shown, being the tools of the degree
  • a chequerboard carpet of perfect and imperfect squares

In the background there is the sun, the moon and seven stars; with a seven pointed star beneath them. Between the seven pointed star and the altar (where the Holy Bible rests) is a ladder on which there are three symbols of the the Cross, an Anchor and a Chalice --representing Faith, Hope and Charity.

In reviewing the symbolism contained within and on the tracing board, it becomes clear that this image is nothing more than a symbolic representation of the Masonic lodge room, combined together with the lessons of moral instruction.

Moral Instruction

Before any moral interpretation is given, how the stonemasons utilised the same tools is conveyed. This is historically interesting as those who claim that the modern Freemasonry has no connection with the actual craft of Stonemasonry are at a loss to explain why Masonic ritual discusses what Stonemasons did with the tools before the Freemasons adopted them as tools of instruction.

The ritual tells us that the ruler was used by the Stonemason to measure and layout their work, enabling them to calculate how long it would take to complete and thereby to fix a price. The Freemason learns from the Stonemason that the ruler represents accuracy and precision, qualities that when applied to ones own life will help him to conduct himself properly.

The first tool that every Stonemason learns to use correctly is the hammer, as it is one of his most important tools and little can be achieved without it. In example of the hammer, the Freemason learns that brute strength is useless without skill; and therefore all good ideas are useless without a means to put them into practise.

The Stonemason uses the chisel for a variety of purposes, but essentially because it brings form and regularity to the shapeless mass of stone. In order to achieve this, the Stonemason must first learn how to use it properly - and then must use it repeatedly. One in this way can one stone be prepared after another, and each added to the collective in order to construct a building. The Freemason learns from this that education and perseverance are necessary to obtain perfection and nothing but indefatigable exertion can induce the habit of virtue, enlighten the mind, and purify the soul.

The combination of all of these Masonic elements prives a grandeur lesson:

Knowledge, grounded on accuracy, aided by labour and prompted by education and perservance, will finally overcome all difficulties, raise ignorance from its native darkness and establish happiness in the paths of life.


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    erickcb 5 years ago

    It is funny. Every mason is on a need to know basis, and each one pretends to know the meanings at each stage, but really do not. How can a bunch of ignorant men claim enlightenment? Maybe because it is an Illu-sion.

  • CatholicMason profile image

    CatholicMason 6 years ago


    Freemasonry is not a religion, thus it does NOT offer any kind of "salvation". If you are seeking salvation, you need to attend a religious service.

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    FreemanonthelandDan 6 years ago

    I understand this and take it to be true. Freemasonry offers hope, purpose and salvation. To lift the veil of darkness and awaken.

  • CatholicMason profile image

    CatholicMason 7 years ago

    Joe, what you've heard is a common misconception. We accept what our mate at the pub says as gospel and fail to ever investigate for ourselves.

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    Joe 7 years ago

    I heard that Freemasons were a bunch of anti-Jesus people, so what's the Cross of Jesus doing on a Freemasonry thing? Shouldn't it be upside down or something? I hear that is what the bad people do, display the cross up-side-down.

    Maybe there is something more positive to these people than the common gossip. Hmmm...