Symbolism of the Sword

The sword used to play an important role in Freemasonry, and still does so in many of the other Orders. In ancient times, it was a regular part of the dressing of a gentleman, but Masons were required to leave their swords in the Tyler’s room before entering a Lodge. Its importance can be seen that even today, most Grand Lodges still appoint a “Sword Bearer”.

Why is the sword so important?

The sword has a classic duality to it. In most cultures, any weapon symbolizes power – but this power can go both ways. On the one hand it kills and destroys, yet on the other it protects and is a central symbol for chivalry. No man was considered a true knight unless he was presented with his sword in an often elaborate ceremony. The Japanese Samurai went one step further, considering the sword to be their own spirit, and it was never to leave one’s side. For this reason, even today, forgers of swords in Japan go through an elaborate ceremony before, during and after forging a new blade.

The Knights Templars swore that they would never draw their swords unless convinced of the justice of the cause in which they were engaged, nor to sheathe it until their enemies were subdued. Many swords, especially those from Spain, often had the following engraved on them “No me saques sin rason. No me embaines sin honor“; meaning Do not draw me without justice, do not sheathe me without honor.

The Tyler’s sword should traditionally be one with a “wavy” blade, to symbolize the flaming sword that was placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. It should also never be sheathed, as it is the Tyler’s duty to keep off, at all times, “Cowans and Intruders to Freemasonry”.

Thanks to Jim Spreadborough for this article

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