The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...

A term in heraldry signifying any emblem used to represent a family, person, nation, or society, and to distinguish such from any other. The device is usually accompanied with a suitable motto applied in a figurative sense, and its essence consists in a metaphorical similitude between the thing representing and that represented. Thus, the device of a lion represents the courage of the person bearing it. The oak is the device of strength; the palm, of victory; the sword, of honor; and the eagle, of sovereign power. The several sections of the Masonic sodality are distinguished by appropriate devices.
  • 1. Ancient Craft Masonry. Besides the arms of Speculative Freemasonry, which are described in this work under the appropriate head, the most common device is a square and compass.
  • 2. Royal Arch Masonry. The device is a triple tau within a triangle.
  • 3. Knight Templarism. The ancient device, which was borne on the seals and banners of the primitive Order, was two knights riding on one horse, in allusion to the vow of poverty taken by the founders. The modern device of Masonie Templarism is a cross pattée.
  • 4. Scottish Rite Masonry. The device is a doubleheaded eagle crowned. holding in his claws a sword.
  • 5. Royal and select Masters. The device is a trowel suspended within a triangle, in which the allusion is to the tetragrammaton symbolized by the triangle or delta and the workmen at the first Temple symbolized by the trowel
  • 6. Rose Croix Masonry. The device is a cross charged with a rose- at its foot an eagle and a pelican.
  • 7. Knight of the Sun. This old Degree of philosophical Freemasonry has for its device rays of light issuing frown a triangle inscribed within a circle of darkness, which "teaches us," says Oliver, " that when man was enlightened by the Deity with reason, he became enabled to penetrate the darkness and obscurity which ignorance and superstition had spread abroad to allure men to their destruction."
Each of these devices is accompanied by a motto which properly forms a part of it. These mottoes will be found under the head of Motto.
The Italian heralds have paid peculiar attention to the subject of deviecs, and have established certain laws for their construction, which are generally recognized in other countries. These laws are: That there be nothing extravagant or monstrous in the figures.. That figures be never jointed together which have no relation or affinity with one another. That the human body should never be used. That the figures should be few in number, and that the motto should refer to the device, and express with it a common idea. According to P. Bouhours, the figure or emblem was called the today, and the motto the soul of the device.
The gilds or separate communities in the system of French compagnonage are called devoirs (see Compagnonage).
The original meaning of devoir is duty; and hence, in the language of chivalry, a knight's devoir comprehended the performance of all those duties to which he was obligated by the laws of knighthood and the vows taken at his creation. These were: The defense of widows and orphans, the maintenance of justice, and the protection of the poor and weak against the oppressions of the strong and great. Thus, in one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays (knight of the Burning Pestle. Act II, Scene 1), the knight says to the lady Madame. if any service or devoir Of a poor errant knight may right your wrongs, Command it, I am prest to give y ou succor, For to that holy end I bear my armor. The devoir of a Knight Templar was originally to protect pilgrims on their visit to the Holy Land, and to defend the holy places. The devoir of a modern Enight Templar is to defend innocent virgins, destitute widows, helpless orphans, and the Christian religion.
The prayers in a Commandery of Knights Templar are technically called the devotions of the knights.
An eloquent and much admired elaboration of the monitorial charge appropriate for the Fellow Craft. This fine composition has been ascribed to the gifted General Albert Pike.
Geometry, the first and noblest of sciences, is the basis Upon which the superstructure of Freemasonry is erected. Regarding man as a rational and intelligent being, capable of enjoyment and pleasure to an extent limited only by the acquisition of useful knowledge, our Order points him to the studio of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the possession of knowledge as the most befittingq and proper occupation for the God-like endowments with which he is gifted.
Indeed, all who frequent our Masonie Temple, are charged to labor faithfully in the wide and unbounded field of human improvement, from which they are assured of reaping a most glorious harvest, a harsvest rich in happiness to the whole family of man, and in manifestation of the goodness of God. Your attention is especially directed to the science of Geometry. no royal road, 'tis true, but to one prepared with an outfit it must prove more attractive than palace walks by regal taste adorned.
The ancient philosophers placed such a high estimate upon this science that all who frequented the groves of the Sacred Academy, were compelled to explore its heavenly paths, and no one whose mind was unexpanded be its precepts was intrusted with the instruction of the young. Even Plato. justly deemed the first of the philosophers when asked as to the probable occupation of Deity, replied, "He geometrizes continually."
If we consider the symmetry and order which govern all the works of creation, we must admit that Geometry pervades the universe. If, by the aid of the telescope, we bring the planets within the range of our observation and by the microscope, view particles too minute for the eye, unaided, to behold, we find them all pursuing the several objects of their creation, in accordance with the fixed plan of the Almighty.
By Geometry we may curiously trace nature through her various windings to her most concealed recesses. By it we discover how the planets move in their respective orbits and demonstrate their various revolutions; by it we account for the return of the seasons and the variety of scenes which each season displays to the discerning eye; by it we discover the power, wisdom and goodness of the Grand Artificer of the Uniserse. and view with delight the proportions which connect the vast machine. Numberless worlds are around us, all framed bv the same Divine Artist, which roll through the vast expanse and are all governed by the same unerring law of nature. Is there not more truth than fiction in the thought of the ancient philosopher, that God geometrizes continually?
By geometry He rounds the dew drop- points the pyramidal icicle that hangs from thatch-bound roof; bends into a graceful curve the foaming cataract; paints His bow of beauty upon the canvas of a summer shower; assimilates the sugar to the diamond, and in the fissures of the earth-bound rocks, forms gorgeous caverns, thickset with starry gems. Isy it He taught the bee to store its honey in prismatic cells; the wild goose to range her fight, and the noble eagle to wheel and dart upon its prey, and the wakesome lark, God's earliest worshipper, to hymn its matin song in spiral flight. By it He forms the tender lens of the delicate eye, rounds the blushing cheek of beauty, curves the ruby lip and fashions the swelling breast that throbs in unison with a gushing heart. By it he paints the cheek of autumn's mellow fruit, forms in molds of graceful symmetry the gentle dove, marks the myriad circles on the peacock's gaudy train and decks the plumage of ten thousand warblers of His praise that animate the woody shade. By it He fashions the golden carp, decks the silvery perch, forms all fish of every fin and tribe that course the majestic ocean, cut the placid lake or swim in gentle brook. Nay, more, even the glassy element in which they dwell, when by gentle zephyrs stirred, sends its chasing waves in graceful curves by God's own finger traced in parallel above, beneath, around us, all the works of His hands, animate and inanimate, but prove that God geometrizes continually.
But if man would witness the highest evidence of geometrleal perfection, let him step out of the rude construction of his own hands and view the wide o'erspreading canopy of the stars, whether fixed as centers of vast systems or all noiselessly pursuing their geometrical paths in accordance with the never-changing laws of nature. Nay more, the vast fields of illimitable space are all formed of an infinitude of circles traced by the compass of the Almighty Architect, whose every work is set by the Level, adjusted by the Plumb, and perfected by the Square. Do this, my Brother, and you must admits with Plato, that God geometrizes continually, and be assured with Job, that He who stretcheth the earth upon emptiness and fixeth the foundation thereof upon nothing, so it cannot be moved, can bind the sweet influence of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion.
A survey of Nature, and the observation of her beautiful proportions, first determined man to imitate the Divine plan, and study symmetry and order. This gave rise to societies, and birth to every useful art. The architect began to design, and the plans which he laid down, being improved by experience and time, have produced works which are the admiration of every age. The lapse of time, the ruthless hand of ignorance, and the devastations of war, have laid waste and destroyed many valuable monuments of antiquity on whicd the utmost exertions of human genius have been employed. Even the temple of Solomon, so spacious and magnificent, and constructed by so many artists, escaped not the unsparing ravages of barbarous force. Freemasonry, notwithstanding, has still survived. The attentive ear receives the sound from the instructive tongue, and the mysteries of Freemasonry are safely Lodged in the repository of faithful breasts. Tools and instruments of architecture, and symbolic emblems, most expressive, are selected by the Fraternity to imprint on the mind wise and serious truths; and thus, through a succession of ages, are transmitted, unimpaired, the most excellent tenets of our Institution.
That branch of logic which teaches the rules and modes of reasoning. Dialecticke and dialecticus are used as corruptions of the Latin dialectica in some of the old manuscript Constitutions, instead of logic, in the enumeration of the seven liberal arts and ciences.
A precious stone; in Hebrew, om. It was the third stone in the second row of the high Priest's breastplate, according to the enumeration of Aben Ezra, and corresponded to the tribe of Zebulun. But it is doubtful whether the diamond was known in the time of Moses; and if it was. its great value and its insusceptibility to the impression of a graving-tool would have rendered it totally unfit as a stone in the breastplate. The Vulgate more properly gives the jasper.
Hemming is credited with naming the fourth section of the first Masonic lecture, didactical, preceptive or instructive and he says that "'the virtuous Mason, after he has enlightened his own mind by those sage and moral precepts, is the more ready to enlighten and enlarge the understandning of others."
French encyclopedist. Born October 5, 1713; died July 30, 1784. Credited with an address at Paris in 1778 before the famous Lodge of Nine Sisters, mentioned in the correspondence, published at Paris in 1812, between Grimm and Diderot. But the Histoire de la Franc-Masonnerie Française (Albert Lantoine, 1925, Paris, page 360) says Diderot was not a Freemason.
A term used by the Druids to designate the circumambulation around the sacred cairns, and is derived from two words signifying on the right of the sun, because the circumambulation was always in imitation of the course of the sun, with the right hand next to the cairn or altar (see Circumambulation and Deiseil).
French, meaning God and my Right (see Deus Meunque Jus).
A French expression for God wills it. The war-cry of the opal Crusaders, and hence adopted as a motto in the Degrees of Templarism.
The Master, the Wardens, the Orator, and the Secretary in a French Lodge are called dignitaries. The corresponding officers in the Grand Orient are called Grand Dignitaries. In English and American Masonic language the term is usually restricted to high officers of the Grand Lodge
In Brother Mackey's opinion this is a modern, American, and wholly indefensible corruption of the technical word Demit. As the use of this form is very prevalent among American Masonic writers, he considered it proper that we should inquire which is the correct word, Demit or Dimit, and so he continues thus:
The Masonic world had been content, in its technical language, to use the word demit. But within a few years, a few admirers of neologisms—men who are always ready to believe that what is old cannot be good, and that new fashions are always the best—have sought to make a change in the well-established word, and, by altering the e in the first syllable into an i, they make another word dimit, which they assert is the right one. It is simply a question of orthography, and must be settled first by reference to usage, and then to etymology, to discover which of the words sustains, by its derivation, the true meaning which is intended to be conveved.
It is proper, however, to premise that although in the seventeenth century Sir Thomas Browne used the word demit as a verb, meaning to depress, and Bishop Hall used dimit as signifying to send away, yet both words are omitted by all the early lexicographers. Neither of them is to be found in Phillips, in 1706, nor in Blunt, in 1707, nor in Bailey, in 1739. Johnson and Sheridan, of a still later date, have inserted in their dictionaries demit, but not dignity but Walker. Richardson, and Webster give both words, but only as verbs. The verb to demit or to dimit may be found, but never the noun a demit or a dimit. As a noun substantive, this word, however it may be spelled, is unknown to the general language, and is strictly a technical expression peculiar to Freemasonry.
As a Masonic technicality we must, then, discuss it. And, first, as to its meaning:
Doctor Oliver, who omits dimit in his Dictionany of Symbolical Masonry, defines remit thus: "A Mason is said to demit from the Order when he withdraws from all connection with it." It will be seen that he speaks of it here only as a verb, and makes no reference to its use as a noun. Macoy, in his Cyclopaedia, omits demit, btlt defines dimit thus: "From the Latin dimitto, to permit to go. The act of withdrawing from membership." To say nothing of the incorrectness of this definition, to which reference will hereafter be made, there is in it a violation of the principles of language which is worthy of note. No rule is better settled than that which makes the verb and the noun derived from it have the same relative signification. Thus, to discharge means to dismiss; a discharge means a dismission; to approve means to express liking; an approval means an expression of liking; to remit means to relax; a remission means a relaxation, and so with a thousand other instances. Now, according to this rule, if to demit means to permit to go, then a remit should mean a permission to go. The withdrawal is something subsequent and Consequent, but it may ever take place.
According to Macoy's definition of the verbs the granting of a limit does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Freemason who received it has left the Lodge. He has only been permitted to do so. This is contrary to the universally accepted definition of the word. Accordingly, when he comes to define the word as a noun, he gives it the true meaning, which, however, does not agree with his previous definition as a verb.
To instituting the inquiry which of these two words is the true one, we must first look to the general usage of Masonic writers; for, after all, the rule of Horace holds good, that in the use of words we must be governed by custom or usage,
whose arbitrary sway
Words and the forms of language must obey.
If we shall find that the universal usage of Masonic writers until a comparatively recent date has been to employ the form demit, then we are bound to believe that it is the correct form, notwithstanding a few writers have more recently sought to intrude the form dimit upon us. Now, how stands the case? The first time that we find the word demit used is in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, 1738, page 153. There it is said that on the 25th of November, 1723, "it was agreed that if a Master of a particular Lodge is deposed, or demits, the Senior Warden shall forthwith fill the Master's Chair."
The word continued in use as a technical word in the Freemasonry of England for many years. In the editions of the Constitution published in 1756, page 311, the passage just quoted is again recited, and the word demit is again employed in the fourth edition of the Constitutions published in 1767, page 345. In the second edition of Dermott's Ahiman Rezon, published in 1764, page 52, and in the third edition, published in 1778, page 58, the word demit is employed. Oliver, it will be seen, uses it in his Dictionary, published in 1853. But the word seems to have become obsolete in England, and to resign is now constantly used by English Masonic writers in the place of to demit.
In America, however, the word has been and continues to be in universal use, and has always been spelled, until recently, demit. Thus we find it used by Tannehill, Manual, 1845, page 59; Morris, Code of Masonic Law, 1856, page 289; Hubbard, in 1851; Chase, Digest, 1859, page 104; Mitchell, Masonic History, volume ii, pages 556, 592, and by all the Grand Lodges whose proceedings Brother Mackey examined up to the year 1860. On the contrary, the word dimit is of recent origin. Usage, therefore, both English and American, is clearly in favor of demit, and dimit must be considered as an interloper, and ought to be consigned to the tomb of the Capulets. And now we are to inquire whether this usage is sustained by the principles of etymology. First, let us obtain a correct definition of the word. To demit, in Masonic language, means simply to resign. The Freemason who demits from his Lodge resigns from it. The word is used in the exact sense, for instance, in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, where it is said: "No brother shall be allowed to demit from any Lodge unless for the purpose of uniting with some other." That is to say: "No brother shall be allowed to resign from any Lodge."
Now what are the respective meanings of demit and dimit in ordinary language? There the words are found to be entirely different in signification. To demit is derived first from the Latin demittere through the French demettre. In Latin the prefixed particle de has the weight of down; added to the verb mittere, to send, it signifies to let down from an elevated position to a lower. Thus, Caesar used it in this very sense, when, in describing the storming of Avaricum (Commentary de bello Gallico, vii, 28), he says that the Roman soldiers did not let themselves down, that is, descend from the top of the wall to the level ground. The French, looking to this reference to a descent from a higher to a lower position, made their verb se demettre, used in a reflective sense, signify to Olive up a post, office, or occupation, that is to say, to resign it. And thence the English use of the word is reducible, which makes to demit signify Go region. We have another word in our language also derived from demettre, and in which the same idea of resignation is apparent. It is the word demise, which was originally used only to express a Loyal death. The old maxim was that "the king never dies." So, instead of saying the death of the king, they said the demise of the king, thereby meaning his resignation of the crown to his successor. The word is now applied more generally, and we speak of the demise of Pitt, or any other person.
To dimit is derived from the Latin dimittere. The prefixed particle di or dis has the effect of off from, and hence dimittere means to send away. Thus, Terence uses it to express the meaning of dismissing or sending away an army.
Both words are now obsolete in the English language. They were formerly used, but in the different senses already indicated. Thus, Hollinshed employs demit to signify a surrender, yielding up, or resignation of a franchise. Bishop Hall uses dimit to signify a sending away of a servant by his master.
Demit, as a noun, is not known in good English; the correlative nouns of the verbs to demit and to dimit are demission and dimission. A demit is altogether a Masonic technicality, and is, moreover, an Americanism of recent usage. It is then evident that to demit is the proper word, and that to use to dimit is to speak and write incorrectly. When a Freemason demits from a Lodge, we mean that he residers from a Lodge, because to demit means to resign. But what does anyone mean when he says that a Freemason dimits from a Lodge?
To dimit means, as we have seen, to send away; therefore he dimits from the Lodge is equivalent to saying he sends away from the Lodge, which of course is not only bad English, but sheer nonsense.
If dimit is to be used at all, as it is an active, transitive verb, it must be used only in that form, and we must either say that a Lodge dimits a Mason, or that a Mason is dimitted by his Lodge. Brother Mackey believed he had discovered the way in which this blunder first arose. Rob Morris (Code of Masonic Law, page 289) has the following passage:
A demit, technically considered, is the act of withdrawing and applies to the Lodge and not to the individual. A Mason cannot demit in the strict sense, buff the Lodge may demit (dismiss) him. It is astonishing how the author of this passage could have crowded into so brief a space so many violations of grammar, law, and common sense. First, to demit means to withdraw, and then this withdrawal is made the act of the Lodge and not of the individual, as if the Lodge withdrew the member instead of the member withdrawing himself. And immediately afterward, seeing the absurdity of this doctrine, and to make the demission the act of the Lodge, he changes the signification of the word, and makes to demit mean to dismiss. Certainly it is impossible to discuss the law of Masonic demission when such contrary meanings are given to the word in one and the same paragraph.
But certain wiseacres, belonging probably to that class who believe that there is always improvement in change, seizing upon this latter definition o f Morris, that to demit meant to dismiss, and seeing that this was a meaning which the word never had, and, from its derivation from demittere, never could have changed the word from demit to dimit, which really does have the meaning of sending away or dismissing. But as the Masonic act of demission does not mean a dismissal from the Lodge, because that would be an expulsion, but simply a resignation, the word dimit cannot properly be applied to the act.
A Freemason demits from the Lodge; he resigns. He takes out his demit, a strictly technical expression and altogether confined to this country; he asks for and receives an acceptance of his resignation.
Thus far we have followed Brother Mackey who went into this matter in considerable detail. An equally impressive showing is to be found in the Builder (Volume v, page 308), where Brother C. C.Hunt discusses the same question. At the end of his article the editor, Brother H. L. Haywood, said, "A study of forty-nine codes of the Grand Lodges of the United States reveals the fact that forty-one used he word dimit while but eight used demit.
Brother Hunt (page 29, volume vi, Builder) comments upon this note, in brief, as follows: Dimit came into the English language through church usage, where a priest would be sent from one diocese to another. The bishop gave him a dimit, virtually an order to go. The priest had to accept dismissal. This word is obsolete since letter of dismissal, or dimissory letter takes its place. Demit came into the language from the same latin word, but from the late Latin and the French, and meaning a voluntary resignation. It so came to be used by Freemasons, the thought being that a member of a Lodge, in good standing, had an absolute right to relinquish his membership and obtain a certificate to that effect. Until comparatively recently the word used was demit. History of the word has been lost and ecclesiastical rather than the Masonic sense attached to the word by those that use dimit.
The Lexicographer of the Literary Digest (July 9, 1927, page 68) has this to say of the distinction between demit and dimit: "As a verb, the word demit designates 'to give up; lay down, or resign as an appointment; to drop or east down; depress.' As a noun, it means 'a letter of dismissal, specifically, a recommendation given to a person removing from one Masonic Lodge to another.' In the sense of ' to release or dimiss,' demit is obsolete. The verb dimit means 'to permit or to go away; dismiss; to send or give forth; to grant or lease"' (see Demit).
The Fifth Degree of Bahrdt's German Union.
The priests of Bacchus, or, as the Greeks called him, Dionysus, having devoted themselves to architectural pursuits, established about 1000 years before the Christian era a society or fraternity of builders in Asia Minor, which is styled by the ancient writers the Fraternity of Dionystan Architects, and to this society was exclusively confined the privilege of erecting temples and other public buildings.
The members of the Fraternity of Dionysian Architects were linked together by the secret ties of the Dionysian mysteries, into which they had all been initiated. Thus constituted, the Fraternity was distinguished by many peculiarities that strikingly assimilate it to our Order. In the exercise of charity, ohe "more opulent were sacredly bound to provide for the exigencies of the poorer brethren." For the facilities of labor and government, they were divided into communities called ouvoud each of which was governed by a Master and Wardens.
They held a general assembly or grand festival once a year, which was solemnized with great pomp and splendor. They employed in their ceremonial observances many of the implements which are still to be found among Freemasons, and used, like them, a universal language, by which one Brother could distinguish another in the dark as well as in the light, and which served to unite the members scattered over India, Persia, and Syria, into one common brotherhood.
The existence of this Order in Tyre, at the time of the building of the Temple, is universally admitted; and Hiram, the widow's son, to whom Solomon entrusted the superintendence of the workmen, as an inhabitant of Tyre, and as a skilful architect and cunning and curious workman, was, very probably, one of its members. Hence, we may legitimately suppose that the Dionysians were sent by Hiram, King of Tyre, to assist King Solomon in the construction of the house he was about to dedicate to Jehovah, and that they communicated to their Jewish fellow-laborers a knowledge of the advantages of their Fraternity, and invited them to a participation in its mysteries and privileges. In this union, however, the apocryphal legend of the Dionysians would naturally give way to the true legend of the Freemasons, which was unhappily furnished by a melancholy incident that occurred at the time.
The latter part of this statement is, it is admitted, a mere speculation, but one that has met the approval of Lawrie, Oliver, and our best writers; and although this connection between the Dionysian Architects and the builders of King Solomon may not be supported by documentary evidence, the traditional theory is at least plausible, and offers nothing which is either absurd or impossible. If accepted, it supplies the necessary link which connects the Pagan with the Jewish mysteries.
The history of this association subsequent to the Solomonic era has been detailed by Masonic writers, who have derived their information sometimes from conjectural and sometimes from historical authority. About 300 B.C., they were incorporated by the kings of Pergamos at Teos, which was assigned to them as a settlement, and where they continued for centuries as an exclusive society engaged in the erection of works of art and the celebration of their mysteries. Notwithstanding the edict of the Emperor Theodosius which abolished all mystical associations, they are said to have continued their existence down to the time of the Crusades, and during the constant communication which was kept up between the two continents passed over from Asia to Europe, where they became known as the Traveling Freemasons of the Middle Ages, into whose future history they thus became merged.

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014