Symbols are not just a constellation of random images or figures. They depict a sign that is understood to represent an idea. In the Masonic context, masonic symbols exist, which are used for present and idea. Proper Understanding of symbols helps to enhance your usage of them as well as expand your horizon of expressions with those symbols.
In modern times, graphical depictions of these logos described below can be inscribed as a form of Logo on Masonic Hats, Masonic Shirts, and even Masonic rings to represent the fraternity properly.
Below are a number of critical Masonic symbols and their meanings:
Eye of Providence
The preference given to the creator of the universe amplifies his roles in day-to-day human involvement in the earth.
In Freemasonry, this symbol made its first appearance in 1979 in a popular publication of the Illustrations of Masonry by Thomas Smith Webb.
Square and Compass
The Square is a builder’s Square with two flat-edged metal or wooden arms joined at a right angle which enables the drawing of a perfect square by a stonemason, carved in stones and corners. However, in Masonry, it is a symbol of the ability to utilize teachings of conscience and morality to test or try the rightness of actions in tandem with the Golden rule which it anchors.
Compasses consist of equal pair of legs fixed together at their apex by an adjustable hinge. However, to Masons, it depicts an intention or purposefulness in drawing a boundary or line around passions and keeping oneself within regions of constraints and moderation, which is considered as the foundation of wisdom. The Square and Compass are joined together and each of the legs of the compass points in opposite directions. The Square represents morality while the compass represents boundaries.
Learn more: Masonic Square and Compass
The word “Acacia”, is one of masonic symbols, has its roots from the famous Hebrew scriptures. it perfectly describes a sacred wood commonly called “shittah” which is implicated in the making of furniture –especially pieces put together for the Ark of Covenant and the Sacred Tabernacle of God.
However, its context of usage in Freemasonry depicts the “immortality of the soul”. This immortality buttresses the fact that the immortal part of man shall survive the grave and never have anything to do with death or dying. It is one strong core relating to perspectives in belief.
The usage of the word “Acacia” during Masonic funeral rites is a constant.
The immortality of the soul is a non-provable fact; therefore, masons are required to take it by faith.
On the other hand, the sprig of Acacia also signifies something very sacred—Purity and innocence. In Greek, the tree signifies the moral quality of the innocence of life.
For those who are not familiar with the word “Cable-Tow”, it might leave some puzzles welling up in your heart…
This is what it is; a Cable-Tow is often attached to the clothing of the Mason (usually a robe) and tied with a strong (cable) to heavy objects on a raft. We can conclude that a Cable-Tow is a robust type of strong rope capable of pulling and binding objects for use.
In Freemasonry, the cable-tow is a visible symbol of a person’s pledge to the craft, with enthusiasm for effectiveness, loyalty, and faithfulness. It represents a vow that a Mason will fulfill his duties and do all it takes not to neglect a fellow member but also lend a helping hand when in need.
It can be deduced that most often, the length of the Cable-Tow depicts the extent to which a Mason is willing to go to assist a fellow Mason. That’s why the length of a cable tow is significant in Freemason.
Another example that can further exemplify this is the connection between a mother and her suckling child, buttressing the physical bond between them which is cushioned in unconditional liquid love. During initiation, the cable-tow is removed from the recruit because the vow taken on the altar is stronger than a visible tie. The Cable-Tow is a two-way cord that binds each fellow Masons to one another.
Masonic Blazing Star
There are four depictions of the Masonic blazing star, each with distinct representations. Masonic Blazing star is said to represent the peak of a person’s Masonic Journey. This firstly denotes the Highest being who is “God”, who shines brightly on the throne, overseeing the affairs of men on the earth, shinning the light, and making the world better by inspiring men to take on territories and break new grounds. Its symbolism in the craft has more than one meaning. It also reminds Masons of God’s omnipresence nature, indicating that He is with us regardless of where we are and what is being gone through.
Secondly, it depicts the Sun in its beauty and radiance as it casts its light upon the earth, thereby giving everything light.
It also represents the star of Bethlehem which was present to guide the three wise men on their visit to see Baby Jesus. It further buttresses the fact that the Masonic Blazing star leads members on a spiritual path to meet the Supreme Being in the Freemasons’ lodge.
Prudence is the fourth point—the quality of being wise, living a full life of wisdom.
Masonic signs are not restricted to having only a meaning; they often come laden with loads of meanings. The Masonic gavel has two distinctive implications.
Although gravel was often used in shaping stones in previous times, in Freemasonry, it is used as a form of reminder to re-iterate purity and consecration to a pure-living.
Masons are viewed as living stones that can be shaped by breaking rough edges to live a life pleasing to our creator. It depicts the Authority when used by the Master of a Lodge. This peculiar authority is often manifested by the Master of the Lodge through dutiful actions.
Masonic Sheaf of Corn
In Historic times (King Solomon’s time), Payments were usually made using corn, oil, and wine. Things have ceased to remain the same in these recent times.
In Freemasonry, the Sheaf of Corn symbolizes the benefits of our sweat and the dividends of rewards earned by former brothers. It also reflects the importance of partaking in the charitable activities of the former brothers who have gone ahead.
Masons are required to participate in charitable activities that benefit the underprivileged the society according to cultural dictates.
47th Problem of Euclid
The 47th Problem of Euclid refers to the Pythagorean Theorem. In Freemasonry, the 47th Problem of Euclid stands for Masons’ importance to ‘square their square.’ which means “to keep their lives in order”.
Masons are required to keep their lives in order and live peaceably with all men.
The Masonic pavement is an important symbol of the fraternity. It is made up of the following components;
- The floor of Masonic lodges is made of mosaic pavements.
- Various stones joined together to form a pattern in the form of painting. Mosaic pavements designs in Freemasonry can be traced to the 18th century. At the time, most lodge furniture was made from these.
The pavement symbolizes a bond uniting all members. It is also a symbol of care and providence.
Masonic Trestle Board
Trestle boards are similar to tracing boards, but some other Masonic cultures do not agree that they are relatable.
Being a typical framework made of three vertical, horizontal, and slanted crosspieces. Trestle boards are designed for a master workman to outline their plans of their intended construction. It can be likened to a blueprint.
In our times, it is used to depict the existence of the ideal—ideal plan the Mason has for his life. It presents a subtle reminder to enlighten, to bring people out of the loops they might believe in, and embrace a new life devoid of prostration or frustration spiraling out of control.
The letter G is often seen in Square and Compasses and at the Blazing Masonic star center. The usage of the Letter G differs from diverse jurisdictions and cultural dictates. In the US, the letter G is seen frequently in Masonic symbols.
For some, it refers to the Omnipotence for God as the supreme being while for others, it depicts the unraveling of spiritual mystery which is termed “Gnosis” in Hebrew.
In the Bible, a white lamb was an emblem of innocence. In most ancient religions, an apron was worn by religious leaders as an honorary badge.
In Freemasonry, a White Masonic Lambskin apron is worn to prevent clothes from staining, although a white lamb is known to depict purity and innocence.
It expresses the importance of keeping oneself pure from moral vices and stains that tint the soul. It is a symbol that encourages spiritual cleansing of the soul from impurities and keeping oneself in Honour.
Anchor and The Ark
The Anchor and the Ark in Freemasonry are a symbol of Hope and Peace against life challenges are depicted by the Anchor and the Ark. It can be linked in Origination to the apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews 6:19; ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entereth into that within the veil.’ when he talked about Hope.
When this was written, things were not as rosy for Christians as they were known to be at the very center of tribulations and challenges. Those who managed to make it to the end were grateful. The anchor gave them hope to keep on going despite the challenges faced. That’s why it was carved in their tombs.
The Ark on the other hand was a ship that originated from the bible and gives assurance of safety from the rocky hills and situations of life in challenging terrain.
Ark of Convenant
The Ark of Covenant cannot be effectively described without referring to the Bible. In the Bible, In the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant was constructed by Moses after following detailed description of all its specifications given on the mountain top. It had the following:
- It was made from shittim wood (Acacia),
- four golden rings attached to the four corners,
- two golden cherubim sat on the top.
- It housed the two stone tablets
- ten commandments,
- a pot of manna,
- and Aaron’s rod.
As time went by, it became an emblem of promise to the Household of David and his son Solomon. The Ark was later used as a symbol of God’s promise to David and housed in Solomon’s Temple. In Freemasonry, it simply is a universal symbol in the fraternity featured in numerous artworks representing the unending forgiveness of God to human sins. Masonic lodges are perceived as modern-day Solomon Temples due to the pattern and order, after which it was fashioned.
Do you think it is funny that a Beehive constitutes a Masonic symbol?
Here is what it represents:
A beehive consists of a group of insects tirelessly working together to achieve a common goal. In Freemasonry, it represents the power of unity and the purposefulness of channeling individual energy into a team for the achievement of a particular goal. It is believed that the brotherhood of unity that commands results. The concept behind the hive is to gather people with similar interests who can cooperate and drive a common good to generate earnest results in the area of interest. The beehive also symbolizes a form of work known as industry and the craft’s different work types because work is a very important component instrument of functionality in Freemasonry.
In Freemason, a coffin is displayed next to a sprig of Acacia to depict the death of an old chapter of life (of a Mason) and an invitation into the newness of the fraternity (which is necessary before a person starts engaging in Masonic duties).
The Two-Headed eagle has its origin from Ancient Mesopotamia. It was a representation of polysepalous (multi-headed) beasts that were spoken of in legends and myths. Over the years, the symbol was continuously used in flags, engraved in metallic work, garment embroidery, and many other places. Here are some facts about the Two-Headed Eagle:
The Two-headed Masonic eagle is also known as the ‘Eagle of Lagash.’ The name originated from the oldest symbol in the ancient Sumerian city of Lagash.
In Freemasonry, the double-headed eagle is a symbol of the thirty-third degree of the Scottish Rite.
Two Masonic Pillars
In Freemasonry, the two pillars symbolize opposite pairs. It is described by a prominent figure W.L Wilmuhurst as, ‘good and evil; light and darkness; active and passive; positive and negative; yes and no; outside and inside; man and woman…’
These two pillars are constructed at the entrance of Masonic lodges. It simply embodies balance. Masons are taught how to create a balance between thoughts and external actions.
C.W Leadbeater has this to say:
“In the harmonious working of these two laws, a man may attain stability and strength required to reach the circle within which a Master Mason cannot err.’
In addition, Two Masonic Pillars represents life and death, which are total opposites. Masons believe that death is a necessity to extinguish that which is old and withering (old ideas that don’t destroy) to permit the springing forth of newness through germination (of young ideas and principles).
Freemasonry highlights the moon as a less powerful source of light. The light from the East side of the moon is devoted to the Master of a Lodge, and its usage as a symbol revolves around alchemy.
The moon’s symbolic nature serves as a strong reminder of the rituals, alchemical rebirth, and Newtonian training in Freemasonry. Its symbolism, however, leans more towards alchemical rebirth. Incorporating it in relatable terms, the moon depicts educating a person and enlightening them for future tasks as they move up the ladder of influence which requires the performance of more tasks. These clear insights make competent Masons.
The Masonic Hourglass
There are different meanings that can be accrued to the Hourglass. It represents two allusions, such as time and death. It adequately captured both entities. The Hourglass indicates that time is not on a constant. It shows how that time is in continual motion and cannot be put into reversal.
Masons are taught that everyone is equal regardless of the position one holds in life because riches and high social status cannot move the sand in backward. Masons are taught to respect time and treat everyone with honor because no one can reverse the sand in the opposite direction to that which moves in time.
The title page of Nicholas Stone; Mason to King James I and Charles I; has a note saying:
In time take time while time doth last.
For time is no time, wheel time is past.’
Death is inevitable to all human beings, whether rich or poor. Therefore, honor is of utmost importance.
The Masonic Keystone
The Masonic Keystone possesses eight letters engraved; HTWSSTKS, which stands for ‘Hiram The Widow’s Son Sent To King Solomon.’ Third-degree masons study the legend of a person called Hiram Abiff, also known as the widow’s son. The letters HTWSSTKS are carved on the grave headstones of Royal Arch masons who surpassed the third-degree level.
Here is how the story is being told:
Legends narrate that Hiram was the chief architect in constructing the Temple of Solomon. He was mercilessly killed for failing to surrender the secret Masonic passwords. Mason, therefore, holds him as a symbol of loyalty.
His story emphasizes the importance of keeping the craft’s secret dearly.
The Number 7
The number seven is sacred in the bible. Historical biblical recurrences are denoted by number 7. 7 is considered as the number of perfection and it remains unshakably so. Pythagoreans depicted seven as a perfect number because it is a summation of three and four, which symbolically represents a triangle and a square. It is considered a perfect number that indicates completion.
In application, seven members are required to make an ideal lodge;
The Rough and Perfect Ashlar
There are two types of Ashlars; rough and perfect. Each depicts a different meaning. Rough Ashlar refers to an unprepared stone, a Mason’s life before joining the fraternity, while the Perfect Ashlar signifies a complete stone that has been thoroughly molded by working tools; mallet, chisel. Gavel etc. Signifying Masons who have gone through extensive Masonic teachings and have been refined by the process.
MORE ABOUT MASONIC SYMBOLS
Points Within A Circle
Point Within A Circle in Freemasonry is linked to St. John the Baptist (B) and St. John the Evangelist (E). The two are essential Masonic saints. In Freemasonry, the Point, black dot in the middle of the circle symbolizes an individual mason. The circumscribed circle stands for the boundary between a brother’s obligation to God and men. A Mason should be restricted within the circle, not allowing his personal cares or ambitions to overshadow his roles.
The Broken Column
The broken column in Freemasonry represents the demise of Hiram Abif and the incomplete work of the Temple of Solomon. The statue consists of a virgin weeping in front of a broken column. The symbol teaches third-degree masons moral lessons on living virtual and upright lives. It answers inquiries on eternal life and faith. It also serves as a safety assurance.
In addition to all these symbols are Masonic accessories, some of which includes:
A true Masonic signet ring is used as a seal to validate the authenticity of its owner. The ring is simply a symbol, a sign or a signature to officially stamp the authority.
Signet rings have been a part of royalty and religion in many cultures throughout history. Masonic rings depict loyalty to the fraternity and absolute understanding of the demands of being a brother.
In past eras, Signet rings were worn by Kings, Popes, Bishops, Roman Emperors, and other high-ranking church officials and noblemen as a sign of their nobility, importance, and power.
The Masonic signet ring can be worn on any finger. There is no right or wrong way to wear it. They now come in different shades and styled in accordance with cultural demands and can be used in these modern times in complementary dress sense.
However, in this context, it has different functions with diverse meanings. Prior to recent times, removing a shoe and handing it to someone else was a way of giving consent
- Firstly, it symbolizes a pledge and accepting to enter into a covenant.
- Secondly, it connotes the removal of shoes when in a Holy Place s a reflection.
Masonic symbols are not a constellation of co-incidences or haphazardly thought out routines. They are compacted through biblical inputs to fashion principles that reform and refine lives while also preserving the substance of sanctity and sacredness.