Why is the ‘Eye of Providence’ an important Masonic symbol?
If you’re privy to any conspiracy theory circulating on the Internet about Freemasonry, you will probably have noticed that the Masonic Eye of Providence has been used as a symbol of the Craft’s all-seeing nature. People erroneously believe that it’s proof that Freemasonry has somehow infiltrated government departments and has a hand in influencing global policy.
In reality, and to Masons, the Eye of Providence is an integral Masonic symbol that has its roots in Ancient civilizations. Masonic scholars believe the eye can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used to symbolize the God Horus, who was the ruler of the sky and played an important role in overseeing society in ancient Egyptian theology.
Referred to more commonly in ancient Egyptian literature as The Eye of Horus, it was said to represent power, protection, and offer good health and wellbeing to those that saw it. The pharaohs even believed that the eye offered protection for their souls in the afterlife, and as such the eye was often adorned on the walls of great palaces and tombs.
Leaving ancient Egypt behind, the all-seeing eye has also been used in Christian theology to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is within Christian literature that we see the eye being enclosed by a triangle and even with clouds and the sun surrounding it. This gives the sense that the eye is constantly watching over humanity as life progresses on earth, and as such, people must act in a particular way to please their God.
So, what does it actually mean for Masons?
The Eye of Providence is a constant reminder to Masons that their actions never go unseen, and they should conduct themselves in a way that is conducive to building harmonious communities and supporting their families. Borrowing from Christian theology, it’s also a timely reminder for Masons that their actions will be judged by the Supreme Being, or Grand Architect of the Universe, who is watching from afar and casting judgement.
Far from being anything controversial or immoral, the Eye of Providence used within Masonic symbolism is actually a reminder for Masons to behave according to Masonic values and live their lives full of good-will and mutual appreciation. This is why it’s so heavily featured in Masonic halls, on regalia, and within literature concerning the Craft. It’s good for Masons to know that their actions are being held to account by a Supreme Being.
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