The Masonic Trowel

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by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

"My anvil and hammer lies declined,
My bellows have quite lost their wind,
My fire's extinct, my forge decay'd,
My vice is in dust all laid.
My coal's is spent, my iron gone,
My nails are drove, my work is done,
My mortal part rests nigh this stone,
My soul to heaven I hope is gone."
Epitaph of John Hunter, died April 10, 1792

"Whatever you do, trample down abuses, and love those who love you." Brother Voltaire

 Oldest Stone

What is claimed to be the oldest Masonic Grave Stone in America lies in the famous burial grounds at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is the monument marking the grave of Nathaniel Jackson, a Mason, who died July 14, 1743, at the age of 78. On this stone are carved a skeleton, a tomb, an hourglass, a rose tree and skull leaning against a sprig of acacia.


Symbol of plenty. A symbol of great antiquity and with esoteric meanings largely is not wholly lost. The derivation of the symbolic meaning from the fruit is amply explained in the ritual, a superabundance of seeds giving the largest amount of re-growth; hence plenty.

Food for thought

A member of the craft is successful when he refuses to slander even his enemies; when he does not expect to get paid for everything he does; when he does not wait until tomorrow to do the things he might do today; when he is loyal to his employer and his associates; when he intelligently cooperates with others and is tolerant in thought and deed; when he studies constantly to prepare himself for a higher position financially and in the estimation of his brothers and colleagues.

Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece was an order of Knighthood that was established in Flanders in 129 C.E. by the Duke of Burgundy, who chose the Fleece for its badge, because wool was the staple production of the country.

Roman Eagle

The Eagle was an emblem of imperial power in Roman Times

The Gavel

The name Gavel comes from its shape, being similar to the gable or gavel end of a house, meaning the peak, which is a pointed extremity common to all.

As a working tool of the Entered Apprentice it is a hammer with an edge such as used by stone masons to break off the corners of stones, so that they are properly prepared for the builders use. In Freemasonry it is a symbol by which the Freemason is to shed all vices and errors of his life so that he can prepare himself as a living stone for that spiritual building, that "house not made with hands eternal in the heavens." 2 Corinthians 5:1 AV

The Gavel is also an emblem of authority, and accepted as such in almost every parliamentary organization, and is used as such by the Master of the Lodge in the governing of it. In Freemasonry the Stone Mason's hammer is an appropriate emblem of authority in the hand of the Master of the Lodge, and it is sometimes referred to as a Hiram.

[F] -  First and always a Brother.

[R] - Respects his government and country.

[E] -  Emulates greatness of character.

[E] -  Executes his obligations with honor.

[M] - Makes the weak feel strong.

[A] -  Acts squarely with the world.

[S] -  Speaks no evil of his Brother or Neighbor.

[O] - Offers faith, hope and charity to the unfortunate.

[N] -  Never dishonors his dignity.

The Square

Among Masons the square has always been an emblem of truth and morality, a symbol of the moral solidity which must be the true test of our every act and the foundation of our character and our society.

The Mason who lives by the square has the faith and a plan by which he builds his days and years into a character so concrete and inviolable that even the grim reaper himself cannot destroy it.


The duty of a Mason as an honest man is something that should be easy for a Mason to do. It requires of him honesty in contracts; sincerity in affirming; simplicity in bargaining and faithfulness in performance. To sleep little and to study much; to say little and to think and hear much; to learn to that he is able to do, and then do earnestly and vigorously whatever is for the betterment of his brethren, his community and country.


There's no such thing as duty
When motive prompts the act.
'Tis privilege, maid of beauty,
Made so by love's sweet tact.

There's no such thing as duty
Of soul unto its God,
For privilege, maid of beauty
Goes where love first has trod.

There's no such thing as duty
In the race the heart is in.
But privilege, maid of beauty
With love's fleet wings, will win.

There's no such thing as duty,
'Tis but an empty name.
But privilege, maid of beauty
Is slave to love's sweet game.

There's no such thing as duty,
And there can never be
While privilege, maid of beauty
Is love's sweet alchemy.

The thing the world calls duty
Can no true Mason make,
For privilege, maid of beauty
Does it for love's sweet sake.

L. B. Mitchell, Michigan. From The Builder December 1915

From the Great light of Masonry = "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." Rev.2:17 NIV

References: North Carolina Freemason; The Builder; Masonry Defined;

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