Masonic Symbols: The Apron


Masonic Symbols

Wm. W. Vickers, W.M., King Solomon No. 22, Toronto 
Originally Published in The Canadian Craftsman, June 1898

The Apron of White Leather

The apron of white leather, made of lamb skin, is a distinguishing badge worn by
every member of the Masonic Order, and without which no brother can be admitted
within the portals of a Lodge, nor allowed to take part in any Masonic
procession of solemnity. The Apprentice is invested with it on his reception
into the Order, and it is worn by those who have attained the higher degrees,
and by all those who fill the most dignified offices. An apron is worn by
operative masons to preserve their garments from stain; and thus, in speculative
Masonry, the apron reminds us that we must keep ourselves from moral defilement;
or in the figurative language of the Holy Scripture, must keep our garments
white and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. White is a color which has
always been considered as emblematic of purity and joy. The apron is made of
lamb-skin because the lamb has in all ages been recognized as the emblem of
innocence, and was therefore chosen by God Himself to be offered to Him in
sacrifice, as a type of great propitiatory sacrifice, the Lamb of God - the Lamb
without blemish and without spot, that taketh away the sin of the world. The
Mason's apron is, therefore, not only a symbol ever reminding him of the duty of
maintaining to the utmost possible degree Purity of heart and Purity of life,
and of ever seeking greater perfection in both, but also of propitiation for
sin, and the pardon ready to be granted to every one who seeks it in the way
appointed. It thus inspires him to work with hope, and that hope further
encourages to further endeavors after those attainments which will make him a
good man and a good Mason, exercising an influence for good amongst all around
him - in the Lodge, in his own family, and it all the relations of life.

Fitly is the newly admitted Apprentice enjoined, in the charge addressed to him
after his investiture with the apron, that he is never to put on that badge if
at variance with any brother who may be in the Lodge. This rule not only secures
that the Lodge shall not be disturbed by unseemly strife, but tends to keep
brethren from quarreling, and to make them anxious for reconciliation when
differences do arise, thus promoting that brotherly love which is the great duty
of Freemasons continually to cherish and display. The Mason's lambskin apron
always tells him that his mind should be filled with good thoughts and his heart
with good feelings, with sentiments of piety and benevolence. It is an honorable
Badge, which many of the greatest men have delighted to wear, and it ought to be
the earnest desire of every Mason that he should never disgrace it, but on the
contrary may every day become more worthy of it.

The Color Blue

Blue is the symbol of truth and universality, and we have seen how it was
therefore much used by Divine command, and in the vestments of the Jewish
priests. It is the color appropriate to the First Three Degrees, or Ancient
Craft Masonry, and the curtains, cushions, etc. of a Lodge are therefore blue.
This color naturally suggests the thoughts of the blue sky and the blue sea; of
their vast extent, their profound depths, those of the sky being absolutely
without limit; of their changelessness throughout the lapse of ages, though
clouds may sometimes for a while obscure the sky, and the storms agitate the
surface of the sea. There is much to engage the mind and much to affect the
heart in the thought of the perfect stillness of the ocean depths, to which the
power of the most fearful storms never reaches; and of the ever unbroken repose
of the illimitable space beyond the clouds, where the orbs of heaven always
shine in pure and serene majesty. Such thoughts carry away the mind from the
world and its vicissitudes and cares to the better country. Nor is this all. The
color that symbolizes truth and universality teaches us to maintain truth in our
relations to God Himself and to our fellow man, and it teaches us that our
charity ought to be extended to the entire human race. Truth in our relation to
God is, in other words, sincerity and earnestness in religion, implying a
continual cultivation of its graces, and a constant endeavor to discharge all
its duties. Truth, in relation to our fellow-men, implies nor only the avoidance
of all falsehood in speech, but of all that savors of deceit in our conduct,
uprightness in all our dealings, a perfect and unimpeachable honesty, such that
our own conscience may have nothing of which to accuse us, even in transactions
the true character of which only God and ourselves can discern.

The Cable Tow

The Cable Tow is explained as follows:

"I drew them with the cords of a man, with bonds of love."

Hosea, xi 4.

The Cable Tow is thus a symbol of the cord of bond of Love, which should unite
the whole fraternity. Its length or the length of your Cable Tow is the
sacrifice you are willing to make on behalf of your brethren. It is in your
heart, not to be measured by miles. It is not gauged by distances, but by deed.
It should correspond to the immensity of the monitorial lodge, and to do so
should span the earth, touching wherever there is sorrow or distress.

In Masonry we have many symbols for the few grand principles upon which it is
founded - Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. As we get away from the letter and
discern the spirit, which lies behind, we have unfolded to us a new and
intensely interesting science, and as we mould our lives upon our new
understanding of Masonry, we become better Masons, and as a consequence better
men.