Masonic ritual uses very little in the way of
cordage, or rope. In fact, only 23 words
cover the subject of the cable tow in a brief
explanation to the candidate during the
What, therefore, can be written about
the subject to justify an article?
This is the fascinating thing about
Masonic research – to delve into a subject
that clearly has very little to commend it from
the ritual creates a challenge. It also creates an
opportunity for that daily advancement in
In some Lodges the cord suspends
banners, even jewels – and the best example
is the plumb-line/plumb rule – and often it
ties the apron. The Second Degree tracing
board in one jurisdiction depicts a sheaf of
wheat suspended by a cord on the banks of
the river Jordan near to a waterfall.
The operative construction process in
laying walls of ashlar must have used ropes as
part of the material handling process. It does
not appear to get a mention.
For example, in The First Degree tracing
board where the word ‘Lewis’ is defined:
The word Lewis denotes strength by certain
pieces of metal dovetailed into a stone, and
when in combination with some of the
mechanical powers, such as a system of pulleys,
it enables the operative Mason to raise great
weights to certain heights with little
But of the rope, there is not a word.
This is extraordinary because there is
Masonic symbolism in the very method of
making a rope, the process of twisting many
weak fibres together to make a strong,
The weaving of many weak strands into
a strong one is a symbol of a fundamental
truth dating back to antiquity, and revered
by the whole Craft in which the weakness
of the individual – when brethren are
banded together to some common purpose
– is multiplied by the strength of millions.
There is no Biblical reference in the ritual –
but there is an allusion to it in Ecclesiastes,
Chapter 4 verse 12:
…and if one prevails against him, two shall
withstand him; and a threefold cord is not
Also from Chapter 12 (used in many
Lodges as an oration during the Third
Degree), there is the reference to ‘the silver
cord’’ which alludes to the spinal cord –
if broken it results in death.
Some of these biblical connections
should remind us of the first and
fundamental truth learned at an initiation,
when helplessness and dependence upon
our fellow man teaches us that Mankind
was made dependent upon each other for
mutual protection and security.
Edmund Burke wrote about the history
The King and his faithful subjects;
The Houses of Parliament of this realm –
The Triple Cord that no man can break.
From the earliest civilisation, man combated
nature. In domesticating livestock, the rope
was the means whereby man was able to
control them. It was therefore not long
before the material took on a moral
significance with symbolic meanings.
Web site created by Mark Griffin