The Masonic Trowel

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From The Grand Lodge Of Texas

There are many lessons contained in the Entered Apprentice Degree, but few more dramatic and as important as those communicated to the Mason when placed in the Northeast corner. Standing between the darkness of the North and the absolute light of the East, the new Mason is instructed as to his importance to the Craft, his future moral and Masonic conduct, and his responsibilities to his Brothers. While frequently a brief part of the degree, this moment is of critical importance and significance.

As noted in earlier educational notes, the North is a symbolic place of darkness, where no light shines. The cold of winter, when life is dormant, represents the lack of reason and intellect so essential to Masonic growth.

From the Northeast corner, the new EA stands upright as a plumb line and faces the Worshipful Master in the East. Here he is made to understand his responsibilities for his future conduct and his Masonic life. He is told his Masonic life now begins and the choices between darkness and Light are his. At that moment in time, he is a true Mason, and spotless cornerstone of his Lodge.

The placement of the EA is to remind us of the most important stone in a building, namely the cornerstone. From both location and quality, the cornerstone always gives stability and direction to the construction of a building. In the past, operative Masons placed such stones with great ceremony and rite, recognizing the cornerstone’s importance to the permanence of construction. The determination of lines for a building, namely perpendiculars, horizontals, and directionals, was the critical first step in construction. Thus it is that the new EA is expected to construct his spiritual Temple, with an understanding of uprightness, Brotherly love, and improvement. Few charges to our Brothers are as clear in their meaning as at this moment.

It is here that the EA is taught the importance of charity, especially with respect to his Brothers. The symbolism of a metallic substance refers to the unrefined metal and is to remind him of his earthly nature. As the Lodge represents the world and the Heavens, it is by giving up the earthly pursuits that the new EA is to erect his spiritual temple. Likewise, it is through the charity of his Brothers to him and his charity to his Brothers, he can become a true Mason. The frequent use of a coin carries the same message, for its refinement indicates man’s attempts to mold nature, but still present are the lessons of the base nature of man and his earthly pursuits. The lesson of charity between Brothers is most evident and easily understood.

Thus we see the placement between North and East is to teach us we will face many choices in the building our Temple. Our direction should be toward the Light, and as our Brothers may help us, we are to help them. Our goal is to be “like a stone” and preparing for that Spiritual home, “that house not made with hands.” Such are the lessons found in the Northeast corner.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014