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a symbol of brotherly love


We are told that even kings have not been unwilling to join freemasonry and begin with the humblest position. This is what is meant by the words, "exchange the sceptre for the trowel". The trowel today is seen as the jewel attached to the collar of the Charity Steward. It was appointed to be worn there because it had in earlier times been the symbol of care for the brotherhood and that which secures the well being of the brethren. This was seen in the 18th century, when there was no office of Inner Guard and the latest initiate to the lodge was the one who was at the inner side of the door, when the next candidate was due to be admitted. As each initiate was given a trowel as well as an apron it was with a trowel that he gave knocks on the door and also pricked the flesh of the new candidate. It was thus that the trowel acquired the qualities of making sure that only fit men were admitted and the security of the lodge was maintained. Here the mention of a trowel means that whilst the ruler of a kingdom was entitled to wield a sceptre as the top person in the land yet when he came into freemasonry he was humble enough to become the lowliest member for a time. It is a lesson that every freemason learns. When joining freemasonry, it is necessary to begin at the bottom of the ladder. (Lecture on the trowel by Revd Neville Barker Cryer: the Past Grand Chaplain UGLE, Prestonian Lecturer (1974) and Batham Lecturer (1996-1998) download as pdf file)

Natural stone creates the feeling of harmony with our surroundings. The masonic trowel spreads the cement of brotherly love and affection, which unites us into one society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree. In this sense the trowel is one of the working tools of a Master Mason in some parts of the world. (Lecture on the trowel as a working tool of a Maser Mason (1923) download as pdf file)

And the scribe said unto him, "Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:32-33

In this story, the scribe is remembering the ancient Hebrew scriptires:

  • Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
  • But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34

Golden Trowel Award

This award is not awarded by the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M., although the concept originated there. It is not mandatory that the award be given at all but given to a Brother who has demonstrated his devotion to the teachings of Masonry by "spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection that unites Masonry into one society of friends and brothers". See Golden Trowel products at Cafe press.

George Washington

George Washington laying the cornerstone of the Capitol

The silver trowel and marble gavel used by General George Washington September 18, 1793 to lay the corner stone of the Capitol of the United States of America at Washington, D.C. were crafted for the occasion. The gavel has a marble head and rosewood handle. The trowel has a silver blade, silver shank, ivory handle and a silver cap on the end of the handle.

Washington trowel

In 1726 the tools of a freemason were the gavel and the trowel. The gavel to seperate and the trowel to join. The gavel represents passion, the capacity to introduce energy into a situation. The force of conscience enables a freemason to shape himself from a rough ashlar by seperating all vain or unbecoming thoughts to reveal a perfect ashlar able to take his place as a contributing member of society. This transformation combined the acquistion of practical skills with character development to enable a freemason to become part of that building not made by human hands, eternal in the heavens. It was thus clothed with an apron and holding a trowel in his right hand and a gavel in his left hand that each apprentice was admited as a fellow of the craft and became eligible to serve as Warden or Master of a lodge. The square, level and plumb rule were particularly associated with the Master and Wardens as they are used to test the work. The Frontispiece to James Anderson's Constitutions of Free Masonry shows the Duke of Montagu as Grand Master passing the compasses and constitution to his successor the Duke of Wharton.

Masonic trowel lapel pins

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