ANCIENT SYMBOLOGY OF MASONIC LODGES
Ancient Symbology of
The Sun is the ancient symbol of the life-giving and generative power of the Deity. To the ancients, light was the cause of life; and God was the source from which all light flowed; the essence of light, the invisible fire, developed as flame manifested as light and splendor. The Sun was His manifestation and visible image; and the Sabaeans worshipping the Light-of- God, seemed to worship the Sun, in whom they saw the manifestation of the Deity.
The Moon was the symbol of the passive capacity of nature to produce, the female, of which the life-giving power and energy was the male. It was the symbol of Isis, Astarte, and Artemis, or Diana. The " Master of Life" was the supreme Deity, above both; Zeus, the son of Saturn, become King of the Gods; Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, become the Master of Life; Dionusos or Bacchus, like Mithras, become the author of Light and Life and Truth.
The Master of Light and Life, the Sun and the Moon, are symbolized in every Lodge by the Master and the Wardens; and this makes it the duty of the Master to dispense Light to the Brethren, by himself, and through the Wardens, who are his ministers.
" Thy Sun", says ISAIAH to Jerusalem, "shall no more go down, neither shall thy Moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of the mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever." Such is the type of a Free people.
Our northern ancestors worshipped this tri-une Deity; Odin, the Almighty Father; Frea, his wife, emblem of universal matter; and Thor, his son, the Mediator. But above all these was the Supreme God, "the Author of everything that existeth, the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awful Being, the Searcher into concealed things, the Being that Never Changeth". In the Temple of Eleusis (a sanctuary lighted only by a window in the roof, and representing the Universe), the images of the Sun, Moon, and Mercury are represented.
" The Sun and Moon", says the learned Brother Delaunay, "represent the two grand principles of all generations, the active and the passive, the male and the female. The Sun represents the actual Light. He pours upon the Moon his fecundating rays; both shed their light upon their offspring, the Blazing Star, or Horus, and the three form the great Equilateral Triangle, in the centre of which is the Omnific letter of the Kabalah, by which Creation is said to have been effected." The ornaments of the Lodge are said to be "the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star."
The Mosaic Pavement, chequered in squares or lozenges, is said to represent the ground-floor of King Solomon's Temple; and the Indented Tessel "that beautiful tesselated border which surrounded it."
The Blazing Star in the centre is said to be "an emblem of Divine Providence, and commemorative of the Star which appeared to guide the Wise Men of the East to the place of our Saviour's Nativity."
But "there was no stone seen" within the Temple. The walls were covered with planks of cedar, and the floor was covered with planks of fir. There is no evidence that there was such a pavement or floor in the Temple, or such a bordering. In England, anciently, the Tracing-Board was surrounded with an indented border; and it is only in America that such a border is put around the Mosaic Pavement. The tesserae, indeed, are the squares or lozenges of the pavement. In England, also, "the indented or denticulated border" is called, "tesselated", because it has four "tassels", said to represent Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. It was termed the Indented Trassel; but this is a misuse of words. It is a tesserated pavement, with an indented border round it.
The pavement, alternately black and white, symbolizes, whether so intended or not, the Good and Evil principles of the Egyptian and Persian creed. It is the War of Michael and Satan, of the Gods and Titans, of Balder and Loki; between Light and Shadow, which is Darkness; Day and Night; Freedom and Despotism; Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its Votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its councils to constitute a gospel.
The edges of this pavement, if in lozenges, will necessarily be indented or denticulated, toothed like a saw; and to complete and finish it a bordering is necessary. It is completed by tassels as ornaments at the corners. If these and the bordering have any symbolic meaning, it is fanciful and arbitrary. To find in the Blazing Star of Five Points an allusion to the Divine Providence, is also fanciful; and to make it commemorative of the Star that is said to have guided the Magi, is to give it a meaning comparatively Modern.
Originally it represented Sirius, or the Dog-Star, the forerunner of the inundation of the Nile; the God Anubis, companion of Isis in her search for the body of Osiris, her Brother and Husband. Then it became the image of Horus, the son of Osiris, himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of Time; Son of Isis, who was the Universal Nature, himself the Primitive Matter, inexhausible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all beings. It was Hermes, also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that of the God Mercury. It became the sacred and potent sign or character of the Magi, the Pentalpha, and is the significant emblem of Liberty and Freedom, blazing with a steady radiance amid the weltering elements of good and evil of Revolutions, and promising serene skies and fertile seasons to the nations, after the storms of change and tumult.
In the East of the Lodge, over the Master, inclosed in a triangle is the Hebrew letter (pi) or "Yod". In the English and American Lodges the letter 'G' is substituted for this, as the initial of the word "God", with as little reason as if the letter 'D', initial of "Dieu", were used in the French Lodges, instead of the proper letter. Yod (pi) is, in the Kabalah, the symbol of Unity of the Supreme Deity, the first letter of the Holy Name; and also a symbol of the Great Kabalistic Triads. To understand its mystic meanings, you must open the pages of the Sohar and Siphra de Zeniutha, and other Kabalistic books, and ponder deeply on their meaning. It must suffice to say, that it is the Creative Energy of the Deity, is represented as a Point, and that point in the centre of the Circle of Immensity. It is to us in this degree, the symbol of that unmanifested Deity, the Absolute, who has NO NAME. Our French Brethren place this letter Yod (pi) in the centre of the Blazing Star. And in the old lectures, our ancient English Brethren said, "The Blazing Star or Glory in the centre refers us to that grand luminary, the Sun, which enlightens the earth, and by its genial influence, dispenses blessings to mankind." They called it also in the same lectures, and emblem of Prudence. The word Prudentia means, in its original and fullest extent, Foresight; and, accordingly, the Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or the All-Seeing-Eye, which to the Egyptian initiates was the emblem of Osiris, the Creator. With the Yod in the centre, it has the Kabalistic meaning of the Divine Energy, manifested as Light, creating the Universe.
The jewels of the Lodge are said to be Six in number. Three are called "movable", and three "immovable". The SQUARE, the LEVEL, and the PLUMB were anciently and properly called the movable jewels, because they pass from one Brother to another. It is a modern innovation to call them immovable, because they must always be present in the Lodge. The immovable jewels are the ROUGH ASHLAR, the PERFECT ASHLAR or CUBICAL STONE, or in some rituals, the DOUBLE CUBE, and the TRACING-BOARD, or TRESTLE BOARD.
Of these jewels our Brethren of the York Rite say: "The SQUARE inculcates MORALITY; the LEVEL, EQUALITY; and the PLUMB, Rectitude of Conduct." Their explanation of the immovable jewels may be read in their monitors.
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