We use Tracing Boards during our ceremonies to illustrate important aspects of Freemasonry to the
Brethren of the Lodge.
Below is the narrative which does this during the Ceremony of Initiation.
Explanation of the First Degree Tracing Board
The usages and customs among Freemasons have ever borne a near affinity to those of the ancient
Egyptians. Their philosophers, unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, couched their systems
of learning and polity under signs and hieroglyphical figures, which were communicated to their chief priests or
Magi alone, who were bound by solemn oath to conceal them.
The system of Pythagoras was founded on a similar principle, as well as many others of more recent date.
Masonry, however, is not only the most ancient but the most honourable Society that ever existed, as there is not a
character or emblem here depicted but serves to inculcate the principles of piety and virtue among all its genuine
Let me first call your attention to the form of the Lodge which is a regular parallelepipedon, in length from East
to West, in breadth between North and South, in depth from the surface of the earth to the centre, and even as high
as the heavens.
The reason that a Freemason's Lodge is described of this vast extent is to show the universality in the science;
likewise, a Mason's charity should know no bounds save those of prudence.
Our Lodges stand on holy ground, because the first Lodge was consecrated on account of three grand
offerings thereon made, which met with Divine approbation.
Our Lodges are situated due East and West, because all places of Divine worship, as well as Masons'
regular, well-formed, constituted Lodges, are, or ought to be, so situated; for which we assign three Masonic
First, the Sun, the Glory of the Lord, rises in the East and sets in the West;
Second, learning originated in the East, and thence spread its benign influence to the West;
The third, last, and grand reason, which is too long to be entered upon now, is explained in the course of our
Lectures, which I hope you will have many opportunities of hearing.
Our Lodges are supported by three great pillars. They are called Wisdom, Strength, and
Beauty: Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn; Wisdom to conduct us in all our undertakings,
Strength to support us under all our difficulties, and Beauty to adorn the inward man.
The Universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are about His
throne as pillars of His works, for His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and Beauty shines through the
whole of the creation in symmetry and order.
The heavens He has stretched forth as a canopy; the earth He has planted as His footstool; He crowns
His Temple with Stars as with a diadem, and with His hands He extends the Power and Glory. The Sun and
Moon are messengers of His will, and all His law is concord.
The interior of a Freemasons' Lodge is composed of Ornaments, Furniture, and Jewels. The
Ornaments of the Lodge are the Mosaic pavement, the Blazing Star, and the Indented or Tessellated Border; the Mosaic
pavement is the beautiful flooring of a Freemason's Lodge, the Blazing Star the glory in the centre, and the
Indented or Tessellated Border, the skirtwork round the same.
The Furniture of the Lodge consists of the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Compasses and Square; the Sacred Writings
are to rule and govern our faith, on them we obligate our Candidates for Freemasonry; so are the Compasses and
Square when united, to regulate our lives and actions.
The Jewels of the Lodge are three movable and three immovable. The Movable Jewels are the
Square, Level and Plumb Rule. Among operative Masons,
The Immovable Jewels are the Tracing Board, the Rough and Perfect Ashlars.
The Tracing Board is for the Master to lay lines and draw designs on; The Rough Ashlar for Entered Apprentice to
work, mark, and indent on; The Perfect Ashlar for the experienced Craftsman to try, and adjust, his jewels on.
They are called Immovable Jewels, because they lie open and immovable in the Lodge for the Brethren to
The distinguishing characteristics of a good Freemason are Virtue, Honour and Mercy, and may they
ever be found in a Freemason's breast.