The Cable Tow

Freemasonry has been defined as “A system of morality, veiled in allegory and taught
by symbols.” The “Cable Tow” is a symbol that should excite serious reflections in
our profession as Freemasons.

The Dictionary defines “cable” as: “as strong, thick rope, now usually made of wires
twisted together: The truck used a cable to tow the automobile.” Another definition
states “the rope or chain by which an anchor is raised and lowered, sometimes alluded
to as a cable’s length.”

The Dictionary defines “tow” as “the act of towing or condition of being pulled along
by a rope or chain: We had to tow a car from a ditch to a garage.”

In the “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry” by Albert G. Mackey, the word “cable tow” is
called a “purely Masonic word.” In its first inception, the cable tow seems to have
been used only as a physical means of controlling the candidate, and such an
interpretation is still given in the Entered Apprentice Degree. In the Second and Third
Degrees a more modern symbolism has been introduced, and the cable tow is
supposed to symbolize the “covenant” by which all Masons are tied.

We are all familiar with the reference to the “length of our cable tow.” The Dictionary
defines “cable’s length” as: “a unit of measurement frequently used in sailing
directions (720 feet in the United States Navy and about 100 fathoms or 607.56 feet in
the British Navy).” Mackey says, according to the Ancient Laws of Freemasonry,
every brother must attend his Lodge if he is within the “length of his cable tow.” The
old writers define the length of a cable tow to be three miles for an Entered
Apprentice. But the expression is really symbolic, and a more modern definition of a
cable’s length refers to the scope of a man’s reasonable ability.

Our forefathers have given to us the oldest, largest and greatest Fraternity in the
world! But, as stockbrokers like to say, history doesn’t always reflect future
performance. Are we going to perpetuate Freemasonry for future generations to
enjoy? I sincerely believe that the future of Freemasonry will be in direct proportion
to the “length of our cable tow!”

About leader

District Deputy Grand Master Saratoga-Warren District 1998-2000; Grand Lodge Leadership Services Committee; Leadership Development Course Coordinator; Vice Chairman Grand Master's Educational Task Force; Vice Chairman Grand Lodge Child ID Committee; District Deputy Grand High Priest 14th Capitular District; Grand Master of the 1st Veil 2010; Grand Master 2nd Veil 2011; Grand Master 3rd Veil 2012 Grand Royal Arch Captain 2013 Grand Principal Sojourner 2014 Grand Captain of the Host 2015 Warren County Historical Society Board of Trustees; Queensbury Masonic Historical Society Charter Member; State Chairman Lodges & Buildings Committee Deputy Grand Master's Advisory Committee
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