Within Freemasonry, symbolism is critical to the allegorical teachings of the Craft. Within every lodge, various symbols are used to represent particular teachings, and serve as a reminder to Masons about the evolution of the fraternity throughout the past three centuries.
From the apron to the gavel, many of the Masonic symbols are easily recognized the world over. But what about some of the lesser-known symbols of the Craft? Below, we introduce you to five such symbols, and explain their significance within Freemasonry.
The Acacia Tree
Wood taken from an acacia tree is said to have crafted the ark of the covenant, and as such, the tree has become a symbol of everlasting life. In Hebrew, the sacred wood of the acacia tree is known as “shittah” and Hebrew graves are marked with a sprig of acacia to depict immortality. Within Freemasonry, the acacia tree represents the immortal souls of Masons, aligning with the Masonic belief in the existence of the afterlife.
The Blazing Star
Regarded as the peak of a Mason’s journey, the blazing star represents God as the creator and the star of Bethlehem. According to the Bible, the star of Bethlehem guided the three wise men across the desert to the birth of Jesus Christ. To Masons, the star shines bright as a guide on their path to spiritual progress, and is regarded as a beacon of hope throughout their Masonic journey.
The Sheaf of Corn
In Freemasonry, the sheaf of corn is intertwined with the allegory of King Solomon. It’s a representation of the wages that Masons once received for their labor, and today is used to represent the charitable acts carried out by Masons to those less fortunate. When seen within Masonic lodges and literature, the sheaf serves as a reminder to Masons about the importance of giving to his fellow man, particularly those in need.
The Cable Tow
The cable tow represents the importance of brotherhood within Freemasonry. It is attached to a brother’s robe and is a reminder of his promise to help his fellow brothers as much as he can, regardless of the situation in which a brother needs his assistance. The length of the cable tow signifies how capable a brother is of helping a fellow Mason, and is an important consideration when utilizing this core Masonic symbol.
To the operative Masons, the beehive represented how well brothers worked together to achieve difficult outcomes, much like bees work together in their colonies. However, in modern-day Freemasonry, the beehive is more commonly regarded as a symbol of the diversity of Freemasonry, as brothers come from different backgrounds to achieve a combined purpose.
To brothers, the symbols used within Freemasonry are vital to understanding the complex teachings and allegories of the Craft. Upon joining a lodge, brothers are introduced to many of the key Masonic symbols, while others are only revealed as they progress on their journey. Although the five we’ve introduced here might not be as commonly known as others, they still serve as a critical component of modern day Freemasonry.