By WB Daniel Genchi
Freemasonry is a fraternity that has a long and storied history dating back to the Middle Ages. During this time, operative masons were skilled craftsmen who built structures such as castles, cathedrals, and other public buildings using stone. The tools that these masons used in their work, such as the square, compasses, level, and plumb, became symbols of the values and virtues that the fraternity sought to instill in its members. In modern Freemasonry, these tools continue to be used as symbols to teach moral lessons and to help members reflect on their own character and actions.
One of the reasons that Freemasons use operative masons' working tools as symbols is because they are easily recognizable and have a long history of use in the construction industry. These tools have a timeless and universal appeal, and their meanings are easily understood by people of different cultures and backgrounds. Additionally, the use of these symbols helps to connect Freemasons to their history and traditions, as they harken back to a time when masonry was an important and respected trade.
The square is one of the most well-known symbols used by Freemasons, and it is often seen as a symbol of morality. In the Bible, the square is mentioned as a symbol of perfection and righteousness (Proverbs 11:1, Isaiah 44:13). The compasses, on the other hand, are a symbol of spiritual growth and self-improvement. In the Bible, the compasses are mentioned as a symbol of the boundary lines that God has set for us (Job 26:10).
The level is another important symbol used by Freemasons, and it is a symbol of equality and brotherhood. In the Bible, the level is mentioned as a symbol of unity and equality (Psalm 133:1). The plumb, meanwhile, is a symbol of uprightness and honesty. In the Bible, the plumb is mentioned as a symbol of righteousness and truth (Amos 7:7-8).
Overall, the use of operative masons' working tools as symbols in Freemasonry serves to remind members of the values and virtues that the fraternity upholds, and to encourage them to strive to live their lives in accordance with these principles. The specific meanings of these symbols can vary from one jurisdiction to another, but generally they are seen as representing qualities such as honesty, integrity, and a commitment to moral and personal growth.
One could argue that all of the symbols used by Freemasons are important, as each one has its own significance and is seen as important in its own right. However, if one were to select a single symbol as being the most important, it would likely be the square. The square is often seen as the most fundamental symbol used by Freemasons, and it is often the first symbol that a new member is introduced to. The square represents the importance of living a moral and upright life, and it serves as a constant reminder to members to strive to be honest and true in all their dealings.
In conclusion, the use of operative masons' working tools as symbols in Freemasonry is an important part of the fraternity's history and traditions. These symbols serve to teach moral lessons and to help members reflect on their own character and actions. The square, compasses, level, and plumb are all important symbols, each representing different values and virtues that are important to the fraternity. Ultimately, the use of these symbols is meant to encourage members to strive to live their lives in accordance with the values and virtues that the fraternity upholds.