by Jeff Stokes on 16/02/16 at 4:20 am
Many new Brethren ask what the functionality of the Tiler is in a Masonic Lodge. Why is there (often) a veteran of the Lodge standing guard at the door armed with a medieval weapon? The sword is certainly symbolic as well as functional in steadfastly guarding the craft at work.
His Jewel is the Sword, by which he symbolically refuses entrance to anyone who is uninitiated in the Craft. The sword has no scabbard, as it is his symbolic duty to always have his sword drawn, ready for the defense of his post.
The Tiler (or Tyler) of a Masonic Lodge is an appointed officer of the Lodge and is sometimes known as the “Outer Guard”. He sits outside the closed door of the lodge room, armed with a sword.
The Tiler’s duties and principle role is to ensure that only those who are duly qualified are allowed to enter the Lodge Room. He guards against cowans and eavesdroppers. During the Middle Ages, a cowan was a man who built stone walls of poor quality. He was an uninitiated or non-apprenticed stonemason…a “jackleg”, if you will.
While the Tiler is sometimes called upon to assist in the preparation of candidates, his chief duty is to (symbolically) keep unskilled workmen from overhearing the conversation within the Lodge Room. *This is certainly the truth today but historically may not have been the case.
After the lodge members are inside the Lodge Room, the door closes and it is the Tiler’s duty to decide whether late arrivals may enter. It is also his duty to make sure that each visitor is “properly clothed”, which means they must be wearing their Masonic apron.
To be fully and properly dressed before entrance into the Lodge Room, the visitor must be wearing their apron over the top (or on the outside) of their suit coat (never under their coat) and the apron strings must be fully tied before the Tiler will allow the visitor entrance. Some jurisdictions call this position the Outer Guard.