Cardinal Virtues & Friendship

by MasterMason
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Temperance; Fortitude; Prudence & Justice

Pendent to the corners of the Lodge are four Tassels, meant to remind us of the four cardinal virtues, namely, Temperance; Fortitude; Prudence & Justice, the whole of which, tradition informs us, were constantly practiced by a great number of our ancient Brethren.

The distinguishing characteristics of a good Freemason are Virtue, Honour and Mercy, and may they ever be found in a Freemason’s breast”


For the benefit of those Brethren who are now attempting to visualize where these four tassels are in their own Lodge Room, and cannot recall having seen them, I offer this comment.

In my Masonic visiting I have observed that many Lodge rooms do display the Tassels in the manner described in this lecture, however, a good many, including my own Lodge Room, have them displayed in the four corners of our chequered pavement. (Look for them!!!!!!)

I, personally, know of no esoteric reason for this change of placement, and consider it simply the decision of the persons involved in the Lodge Rooms design. Should someone have additional information on this subject I would be delighted to be made aware of same.

The Paper

My research has uncovered quite a lot of material on this subject, however, again, in my opinion, the best is that contained in “Freemason’s Guide & Compendium” by Bernard E. Jones.

The following is taken from that book and is a partial quote with my own additions shown in red italics.

We speak in Freemasonry of Cardinal Virtues, Cardinal Points & Cardinal Winds. Briefly, this curious word CARDINAL word means important, significant, and carries with it a mental image of matters of great moment all revolving round a center-point acting as a HINGE or pivot.(Latin, cardo).

Much ecclesiastical history is wrapped up in this word, which is associated with the red colour of the robe worn by the Roman Catholic cardinal (i.e., worn by a powerful priest occupying a fundamentally important place.)

We go to the doors made and hung by the ancient peoples for the original idea of the meaning of the word. There are two vertical pins, or dowels, projecting from the door, one from the top and one from the bottom, each fitting into a socket, and on these pivots (HINGES) the door swung. The ancients took this hinged door as a figure, or symbol, and supposed that at the top of the Universe was a pivot upon which the heavens revolved, while at the bottom was another pivot, corresponding to that at the bottom of the door.

In course of time, the old Roman writers applied the word “cardinal” to the four points: East, West, North & South, and to the winds blowing from those quarters.

The East symbolizes wisdom; West strength; North, darkness and South beauty. We are told that the Cardinal i.e., the most important, virtues in Masonry are prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice;

Prudence to Direct; Temperance to Chasten; Fortitude to support a Brother & Justice to be a guide to all his actions.

Mencius (b. 372 B.C.) taught that men should apply the square and compasses figuratively to their lives, and the level and marking-line besides, if they would walk in the straight and even paths of wisdom, and keep themselves within the bounds of Honour and Virtue”

On a personal note, while I perceive it to be somewhat difficult to be constantly aware of these principles in this form, I find that by recalling the principles of the Square & Compasses (note the version above) and by wearing my Masonic Ring I am constantly reminded of who I am & what I am.


The Gift of Friendship  by Helen Steiner Rice

Friendship is a Priceless Gift,

that cannot be bought or sold

But it’s value is far greater

Than a mountain made of Gold.

For Gold is cold and lifeless,

It can neither see nor hear,

And in a time of trouble

It is powerless to cheer.

It has no ears to listen,

No heart to understand,

It cannot bring you comfort

Or reach out a helping hand.

So when you ask GOD for a GIFT,

Be thankful if HE sends

Not Diamonds, pearls or riches,

But the LOVE of real true FRIENDS.


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