by Bruce Johnson

Bruce Johnson has over 30 years of study in the fields of Ancient Wisdom and occultism. He has taught classes on a wide range of topics, from Atlantis to mediums to Zoroaster. He is also a Spiritualist minister, with a background in spiritual astrology. He lives in Colorado with his wife and their cat.

The Masonic Tracing BoardMasonic symbols can be seen in their Scriptures, Floor Cloths, Aprons, Jewelry and Tracing Boards. Tracing Boards are visual teaching aids where multiple symbols comprising a whole, illustrate certain spiritual principles. This article examines the symbolism of the Masonic 1st Degree Tracing Board.

The three columns, exhibiting different styles and letters, form a triangle of energy. The central column marked W, is the dual-charged apex of the triangle, and attunes to the divine will of God. Above this column is a 16-rayed All-seeing Eye of an omniscient God diffusing streams of light. The positively-charged left-hand column contains an S, and represents the eternal Love of God. Atop this column is the partially obscured 8-rayed male Sun. The negatively-charged right-hand column with a B depicts the enlightened intelligence of God. Over it is the crescent female moon with seven stars, signifying form, and the seven planes of manifestation.

The 14-runged mystical ladder, indicating movement from lower to higher spheres, exhibits the sacred number seven multiplied by two. The seated woman in yellow holding a book of Sacred Teachings, symbolizes Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries, that begin on the first rung, and end at the seventh rung. The standing woman in green on the eighth rung, holding the anchor of hope, portrays Initiation into the Greater Mysteries, that are completed on the fourteenth rung. The consummation of the Greater Mysteries is illustrated by the woman with three children standing on the uppermost rung of the ladder. Beyond this top rung, the ladder fades into the heavens.

The golden key suspended by a cable tow from the eleventh rung of the ladder marks a point of Initiation into the final three Degrees of the Greater Mysteries. The gold equal-armed square represents matter, earth, and our bodies. The gold compass symbolizes spirit and heaven. The gold plumb and level tools represent moral integrity and the equality of all souls before God, respectively. Note the relationship of these tools to the three columns.

A greater compass/square combination aligns with a point of white light located at the base of the central column. The lesser compass/square at the base of the ladder relates to the solar symbol showing a point of light surrounded by a circle bounded by two parallel lines. These points of light anchor the triangle of columns and the mystical ladder to concrete physical matter. The checkerboard floor denotes physical plane duality.

Additional symbols in this Tracing Board include – The Bible beneath the ladder indicating Sacred Knowledge, and the two opposing cube-shaped stones called ashlars, which are symbols of the unevolved and evolved human consciousness. The rough ashlar on the left indicates ignorance, darkness and death. The perfect ashlar denotes knowledge, light and life. The symbolism of the mallet, chisel and 24inch rule accompany the rough ashlar. A polishing tool symbol is positioned on top of the perfect ashlar.

The Trestle Board laying on the floor contains the plan of the Divine Architect. It symbolizes the moral law for each aspirant revealed within the Will of God. Every person has their individual Trestle Board to identify and work out the task that Infinite Intelligence has assigned to them. The four cardinal directions can be seen at the mid-points of the perimeter of the Tracing Board. The zigzag border of this particular 1st Degree Tracing Board indicates cosmic electricity, the root of all manifestation. The four tassels at the corners designate the four basic elements.