First Degree Tracing Board

The work above is a modern representation of the first degree tracing boards of old. It is filled with metaphor and symbolism, fluent to all master masons.

The First Degree Tracing boards were created as visual aids created to illustrate the meanings and principals of Freemasonry as taught within the degrees. The symbolism is very Western, but the symbolism has been adapted for the modern mason.

In the image there are many symbolic cues. In adapting this piece, the most significant change is the replacing of the Holy Bible with the major religious symbols of the world. These symbols of faith, in my opinion, represent the modern Freemason.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and or feedback to this piece. Do you find it representative of Freemasonry today? How does it compare to older style tracing boards?

Copyright – Freemason Information ©2006 – All rights reserved.
Image above may not be copied without the expressed written consent of it’s owner, Gregory Stewart, Freemason Information

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~ by Greg on May 11, 2006.

7 Responses to “First Degree Tracing Board”

  1. That Tracing Board is beautiful. It’s an inspiring piece of artwork. I like the spheres atop Jachin and Boaz.

    The symbols of world religions across the bottom… well, that would get you hung from a bridge here in the South. I can’t imagine this artwork being allowed in any Blue Lodge I’ve ever been in. Besides it truly showing tolerance for all faiths and religions, there’s the matter-of-fact problem of where to hang it. Velvet pictures of Jesus and gaudy photos of Grand Lodge officers already take up the prime wall space, you know.

    (You Brothers from outside the South think I’m making this stuff up, don’t you?)

    Widow’s Son
    The Burning Taper

  2. I like the older Trestleboards and think that they should be used more. Your “updated” version is great! Let’s see some more…

    Ars Masonica

  3. Excellent Brother……
    Art is a wonderful thing
    Check out the new post at my blog if your not familair with max heindel’s Casting of the Molten Sea by Hiram Abiff
    i think you’ll like it.

  4. Brother Stewart,

    A marvelous piece of art work. This is much more appealing that they old designs. You have such a great talent!

  5. Dear Bro.,

    It is indeed an excellent piece of art. The major religious symbols of the world do represent modern Freemasonry and I like it.

    The existing Tracing Boards have their own charm and the First Degree Tracing Board is simpler and easier to understand for the newly initiated and confused EAFM.

    Keep up the excellent work amd let’s see some more.

  6. Greetings of Peace:
    Wonderful artwork! As a spiritual person, may I commend to you my book, Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, a mystical adventure tale on the Sufi path of Love. You can view the book and read reviews and an excerpt at
    The art also reminds me of the stations on the Sufi path 🙂

    Many Blessings!

  7. Brother Greg,

    Your Tracing Board may be more up-to-date than you realize.

    According to old Masonic documents, the Perfect Ashlar depicted in your tracing board was not one of the symbols of original English Freemasonry. There was no Perfect Ashlar, only the Rough Ashlar, representing Man in his God-created natural state.

    The Perfect Ashlar originally was written “perpend” or “perpined” or even “purple” ashlar, and meant “perpindicular.”

    The perpindicular ashlar was the rough ashlar, placed outside a Lodge (symbolically), standing upright (perpindicular) as if a grave marker, standing over a plot of ground six feet by three feet, where “under a green divit” lies a key.

    The mistaken introduction of the concept of a “perfect” (as in smooth) ashlar has led Masonry to adopt the Christian belief that we are born imperfect, and that something (Freemasonry or Christianity?) will make us smooth and square (either through the use of Masonic tools or accepting Jesus). This has confused the issue and the true nature of Masonic teachings.

    In the chapter that gives us the traditional “ten commandments,” it is written: “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”

    Some have taken this passage, which is a commandment just as “official” as the official Ten, to show that the Rough Ashlar — un-hewn, un-worked by tools — is indeed perfect, the way the Creator has made us. Our Masonic tools may be needed to clean the debris of life that sticks to us, or to chisel away the residue buildup of the world from us, getting us back to our natural (rough, god-designed) state.

    The Perfect Ashlar seems to have been introduced into Masonic symbolism sometime after the 1751 “takeover” of Masonry by the Antients of the older established Masons, whom the Antients called “Moderns.” Antients took the “historical” King Solomon / Hiram of Tyre / Hiram Abiff allegory literally, and considered themselves the heirs of an age-old Masonic tradition handed down from Solomonic times. Moderns were the original English/French Masons of the 1600’s and early 1700’s, and were ursurped and displaced by the more literal-minded, less scientific-minded Antients.

    When you come across old tracing boards, you can tell if it was an Antient or a Modern board by looking for a smooth (perfect) ashlar. If it appears, it’s an Antient tracing board.

    Widow’s Son
    The Burning Taper

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