Tag Archives: building element

Crossed Pillars

Probably the oldest ‘high degree’ was that of “Scottish Master” (or “Scots Master”) which might have been worked in England as early as the 1730’ies. There is a text from Berlin, dated 1747, in the Kloss collection with the content of the degree. The story is that of master builders from Scotland who were not content with the replacement of the master’s word in the third degree. They went to the Holy Land to find clues to what the original master’s word might have been. They search the rubble of King Solomon’s Temple (hence the destroyed temple) and find “4 column-pieces lying on the ground in the shape of a saltire” (an X), which is convenient, because Scottish Master lodges are dedicated to Saint Andrew. Crossed pillars mostly appear on old Scottish Master tracing boards, but are not always obviously pillars. The plaque in the middle (with the original word on it?) is a typical element.

The image above is from the 1747 Berlin text. It can also be found in Feddersen (SD/4), but he found it in a Danish archive.


Feddersen (F/43 no year) has a tracing board which he says is a French board for the 5th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Besides the well, the board also features the Vessel with Rams.

Five Pillars

Dąbrowski has an unidentified “Masonic Symbols”, see below. The image itself says: “Templar Chart” so I suppose these are symbols from Templar degrees.

Five pillars can be seen every now and then. In the USA they are (sometimes) part of the 2nd “craft” degree. It also appears in the 12th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite sometimes. I suppose they refer to the orders of architecture.

In the image above, the pillars have the letters T, L, P and F. In this case it appears to be one of the temples portrayed on this chart (of a reference to the other two). In this case the Temple of Honor and Temperance.

Continue reading


On this “Continental Masonic Tableau” (Dąbrowski) you can see three windows. The often appear on “craft” / “symbolic” / “blue” degree tracing boards. They refer to the three phases of the sun. Rise in the East, high point in the South, dawn in the West.

Dąbrowski P. 162. Year and designer unknown (and edited).

Tracing board

Even though Freemasonry is not the only place where tracing boards are used, it is one of the best known elements of Freemasonry. The usage differs and that makes this a subject that is very large. When the first ‘modern’ lodges met in taverns, they drew “The Lodge” on the floor and wiped it out again when the work was done. Later these drawings were replaced by either carpets or boards. A “tableau” (‘board’) in many cases is actually a “tapis” (‘carpet’). Actual boards are used in England and English-type Freemasonry where the ‘tableau’ does not lay in the middle of the room, but stands against the pedestal of one of the officers.

The trestle boards contain the symbols of the degree that is worked in, so some lodges have a tracing board for every degree. Sometimes the first and second degrees are combined. Tracing boards form a part of many degree, “craft” or otherwise, so there is an enormous variety of them, both in size, but also in shape and of course, in the imaginary displayed.

Perfect Ashlar

The perfectly cubical stone is the symbol of the Fellow Craft in most “craft” degrees. It is the stone that has to fit into the wall (mankind). It can usually be found near the Senior or First Warden.

The “ashlar” need not be cubical in every system by the way.

Rough ashlar

A block of stone with a varying degree of ‘roughness’ in which you can see a cubic stone. It is the symbol of imperfectness, the Entered Apprentice and can usually be found near the Junior or Second Warden.

The “ashlar” need not to be cubical in every system. You also see oblong stones sometimes.

Broken Column

The image shows a broken column with the text “Adhuc Stat!” (“It stands still”) on a First Degree “Orient Board” of the French Rectified Scottish Rite. The same image was used in the Strict Observance.

The broken column/pillar sometimes refers to the destroyed Temple of King Solomon. In some lodges lectures are given from behind a broken column. The broken column has a general grave symbolism of an ended life. Sometimes a weeping lady (virgin) stands next to the pillar (often with a man behind her representing time). The latter image is sometimes a reference to the passing of Hiram.

Continue reading

Cubic Stone

(Cubic) stones come in many shapes and forms within Freemasonry. This specific stone (an oblong stone with a square laying on it) can be seen on the Second Degree “Orient Board” of the French Rectified Scottish Rite. The text “dirigit obliqua” translates to: “directs obliquely”. The same image was used in the Strict Observance.