The First Degree Tracing Board is the most extravagant of the three in allegory, and is thus explained; the form of a Lodge is a parallelepipedon in length from East to West, in width between North and South, in depth from the surface of the earth to the height of the heavens. Masonic lodges are situated due East and West to illustrate the significance our ancient brethren attributed to the East, e.g.: the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, higher learning (Greek Philosophy) originated in the East and then spread to the West, etc..
Lodges are symbolically supported by three great pillars representing Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty (not to be confused with the two brazen pillars Boaz and Jachin). These three pillars also represent the three elected officers, who in turn represent the original three Grand Masters behind the construction of the Temple of Solomon. The pillars also represent three orders of architecture – Ionic, Doric and Corinthian – and seemingly support the whole canopy of the heaven, which is accessible by a ladder.
The ladder represented here is a literal translation of Jacob’s Ladder, a mystical vision from the Old Testament believed to connect heaven and earth. Among the ladder’s rungs sit symbols of Faith, Hope and Charity – the personal virtues required to attain the pinnacle of Masonic enlightenment. The path, as well as the virtues, all stem from a central point – the Holy Bible. (Note the placement of the square and compasses, which varies over different ages and countries.)
The lower interior of a the Lodge is composed of Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels. The Ornaments of the Freemasonry are the Mosaic pavement, the Blazing Star and the Indented Border; the Mosaic pavement is the black and white checkered flooring representing the duality of good and evil, the Blazing Star the glory in the center, and the Indented Border is the skirt-work around the edges – representative of the various blessings which surround us.
Strewn about the interior are various working tools, the ashlars and a trestle board; all of which are a common sight in any lodge today (each with their own signification).