The Masonic gavel is used by the Master of the Lodge. It is a sign of authority, and it is used to show the executive power of the Lodge Master over the general assembly. The Masonic gavel helps to maintain order during meetings. It helps to structure proceedings, and it is one of the working tools of the Entered Apprentice.
Operative Gavels in The Operative Stonemason Era
In the operative stonemason era, the gavel was a tool used for breaking the rough edges from stones so that they can fit perfectly into place.
Speculative Gavels in The Speculative Freemasonry Era
In speculative Freemasonry, the Masonic gavel is a symbol of getting rid of excesses and vices of life, the same way a stone is being smoothened in the Operative Era. It helps us shape our lives into spiritual beings that live a life that pleases God, the Creator and the Master Architect of the Universe.
The True Masonic Gavel
There are several types of gavel. The Masonic gavel used in lodges must be the correct one. The head of the Masonic gavel is rectangular, and it is pointed on one end while the other end is flat or slightly pinched.
The Masonic Gavel is Different from a Judge or Auctioneer’s Gavel
The Masonic Gavel is different from the rounded-end or lightweight gavel used by judges and auctioneers. It is inappropriate for use in a Masonic lodge. Some Masonic lodges make the mistake of using this kind of gavel. This is very wrong. Any lodge that is using this gavel should replace it with the correct one.
The Masonic Gavel is Not a Setting Maul
The Masonic Gavel is not a setting maul. A setting maul is one of the Fellowcraft degree working tools. It is a heavy, polished hammer with which operative masons knock down polished stones into alignment. The Setting Maul is said to be the final weapon with which the Master was being killed. The setting maul is hence referred to as a symbol of violent death.
The Traveling Gavel Program
There is a traveling gavel program organized by groups of lodges or districts that are not far from each other. The gavel used for this program is a special gavel called the traveling gavel. It is different from the Master’s gavel. The traveling gavel is engraved with the area’s name or the district’s name on it.
This program was created to encourage visitation of other lodges as a group. Different areas and districts have their own rules on how the traveling gavel can be obtained.
Some Rules of the Traveling Gavel Program
- The master must be informed of the intention of the visiting lodge members to obtain the gavel before the visit.
- There must be at least 4 visiting members from the visiting lodge before the traveling gavel can be obtained.
- All visiting members must be able to present their due card to the Lodge Master.
- If 4 or more members from two visiting lodges attend the meeting of another lodge and show their due cards, the lodge with the highest number of visiting members will win the traveling gavel.
So far all the above rules are followed, the lodge that has the traveling gavel will lose it to the visiting lodge. The visiting lodge will take the travel gavel with them back to their lodge where they will expect a visit by the other lodge. If those ones met the requirements during their visit, the traveling gavel will belong to them.
This program promotes interaction and fellowship between lodges as they compete to see how long each lodge can be in possession of the traveling gavel.
Gavels as Masonic Gifts
Masonic gavels can be bought as Masonic gifts for Past Masters and outgoing masters. They can also be bought for personal use. These gavels can be made from hardwoods like acacia, mahogany, cherry, oak, teak, maple, hickory and walnut.
The Masonic gavel is an excellent Masonic gift that can be given to visiting Grand Masters, District Deputy Grand Lecturer (DDGL), District Deputy Grand Master (DDGM) etc. Some wives of lodge masters buy custom gavels for their husbands to celebrate the ascension of their husband into the East. After the year as Master is over, the Masonic gavel can be framed under glass and hanged in a visible place in homes and offices.