Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Missing Working Tool

Freemasonry a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.
This is a canned explanation of what it is to be a Freemason. We teach simple life lessons using the tools of stonemasons. We, that are in the order, know them well (or are supposed to); the 24 inch gauge, the common gavel, the plumb, the level, the square, the compasses, and the trowel...We are told often that Freemasonry evolved from operative stonemasons guilds that built the cathedrals of Europe. Now, let me ask you a question to those of you who know about stone masonry, what tool is missing that is probably more important than all of the above when hewing rock?
Do you have it yet?
Masons in every age fashioned this tool from metal, be it copper in Egypt, iron in Europe, or steel today.
It allows a mason to focus his energy on a small area and accomplish things that normally cant be done to hard stone.
I knew you had it... THE CHISEL.
Perhaps, I being just a simple blue lodge Mason have not been taught this lesson yet because it is taught in some "higher" degree and if it is excuse my ignorance but why is this tool not used in our degrees? No reputable operative mason leaves home without it because it is so important a tool for shaping hard stone in a particular manner.
So here goes my attempt at writing Masonic ritual with the all important "Chisel Lecture".
My Brother,
Operative Masons used many tools, as you now know, to shape and build structures. There is one tool in particular you have not learned about. A tool so important in the final step of Masonry, that without it no fine edifice can be created. This tool is the chisel.
The chisel is a tool used by operative masons to direct the force of their blows onto a small area in a singular direction to finish a stone before use.
But we as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of focusing our thoughts.
In our day to day lives we come across many ideas and distractions that can easily spread the power of our being in many directions. This diffusing of the great gift of life we are given can lead to despair and hopelessness. Only by focusing our thoughts and actions in a singular direction can we achieve the greatness we are meant to by our creator and beautify that spiritual house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.


Richard Matthews said...

Bro. Thank you for your lecture. You would be intrigued to know that under the South Australian and Northern Territory Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons that there are 3 working tools for the Entered Apprentice. They are the Chisel, the 24" Gauge, and the common gavel.

The Chiesel is explained as thus, "The chisel points out the advantages of education, which cultivates out minds and renders us better members of society."

Having started my own project on carving myself a roughen ashlar I have also noticed how applicable this chisel is. Every time you use it to cut the rock it becomes dull and must be sharpened.

Kind Fraternal Regards,

Bro. Richard Matthews
Entered Apprentice
Earl of Chester Lodge No. 098
South Australian Constitution

M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

Thank you Brother. I am constantly reminded of how our fraternity is global and ritual varies form jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
I love the idea of the chisel having to be constantly re-sharpened, it is so true. I will have to incorporate that into version 2!
I have always had a question for Masons in the Southern Hemisphere. Our officers sit in the East, South, and West because that is how the sun travels in the sky. Do your officers sit in the East, North, and West as the sun travels down there?

MP said...

As Br. Matthews points out, other jurisdictions have other working tools.
Most GLs which used some derivation of Emulation Ritual have three working tools for each degree, and for an understanding of them, without using the specific wording, I highly recommend Freemasonry: a Journey Through Ritual and Symbol by RW Br. W. Kirk MacNulty.

Unknown said...

Not to give anything away....but The Chisel may show up in York Rite Masonry! haha You should join us :-) Great blog! i'm a big fan! - Bro. Dean Palmer Jr
Temple Lodge #16
Cheshire, CT

M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

Thanks for the book suggestion MP and thanks for the heads up Dean. I will join the York rite when the work of my lodge is complete, or at least on auto pilot!

edwmax said...

Actually the Chisel is not missing! It is part of the Common Gavel. [img][/img] This is the tool the operative Apprentice mason first learns to rough cut stone to size for the finish stonemason to square and finish. Thus the speculative instruction to "... to break off the corners of the rough stones, the better to fit them for the builders' use..." Look at a modern version of the same tool here and read its description. [url][/url]

It is the 'finish' chisel that is being describe as the missing tool. A tool that requires more advance training and knowledge for its proper use. Thus, the Emulation Ritual of the UGLE description of "... Chisel to further smooth and prepare the stone and render it fit for the hands of the more expert workman ..." and the more advanced speculative allegory of education.

edwmax said...
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Steve of 5150 EC said...

Interesting subject. On reading the ‘History of Freemasonry and Concordant Orders, when discussing Vermont and the formation of The Grand Lodge of Vermont (1794). This Grand Lodge, in a meeting held on January 18, 1804, Grand Lodge met in Grand Convocation, and among the other business transacted it was
"Ordered, That the chisel shall not in future be given as the working-tool of an Apprentice Mason in any lodge under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge.”
The reason why is not given, any ideas?