The Cable Tow & Tassels

June 10, 2017 Clark No comments exist

When a new initiate enters the lodge at his initiation, he has an ancient artifact about him. This artifact that binds him is the cable tow and it binds him to his new life; for his cable tow connects him to the obligation he will take in the ceremony. As long as he never lets go it will forever hold him to the VOTSL. It will be a safety line stretching back to that anchor of Faith. This cable tow is an artifact left over from our medieval brethren and was a very important tool of the mason.


When a building was to be erected, the land upon which it was to be built was cleared and leveled. The master mason or architect then commenced his work by placing an asherah or wand in the centre of this area. He then stretched out a cable from this centre pin towards the rising sun in the east. These cable tows or ropes were quite long and were hand made of twisted fibers. To keep them from unraveling they were knotted at the ends.  As the fibers unraveled before the knot they formed what we know as tassels. Then using a very simple geometrical calculation, he formed a right angle by drawing a circle with his compass and from the centre point within the circle he created an angle of ninety degrees to form the corner of the intended structure. This was repeated at every corner to make them true till finally all the corners of the building were laid out and square.


As the walls rose, from time to time a piece of wood was extended from the corner inwards and a plumb line dropped down to make sure that the walls were perpendicular and the angle was true on the vertical as it was on the base. This plumb line is still seen today hanging in the four corners of some Lodge rooms throughout the world represented by four tassels. They are meant to admonish masons to remember the four cardinal virtues “Truth, Justice, Prudence and Temperance” so we can live our lives uprightly in the hope of the divine blessings to come.


Finally the candidate is placed at the Northeast Angle where he is taught the important lesson of Charity. Tradition informs us that the medieval craftsmen, from whom we speculative masons descend, laid all corner stones in the northeast corner. This custom came from the Jews, who, in turn, had taken it from the Egyptians. They believed that N.E. was the point of the compass from which the sun began its journey when it was first created. So all new entered apprentices are placed at the North-East angle of the lodge because this is where they also are figuratively to represent the corner stone of the Lodge as well as the temple they are now building for themselves. The apprentice is placed in the N.E. to impress upon him all the qualities required to constitute a “well-tried, true and trusty corner-stone”; truthfulness and uprightness of character; purity and holiness of life.


Fraternally; W. Bro. Ian M. Donald; PM Hillcrest Lodge #594 GRC
A man’s honour is not measured by how tall he stands,
but by how often he bends to help, comfort and teach.

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