The Symbol of the Freemasons

The Symbol of the Freemasons

It’s as identifiable as the Nike swoosh and McDonald’s golden arches. The square and compasses is Freemasonry’s universal logo, but does it hold a deeper meaning for over six million members of a society wrapped in secrets? The true meaning of the Masonic square and compasses has long been a subject of intense debate and scrutiny. Among non-Masons popular theories include:

  • Formation of a hexagram, thereby indicating witchcraft and satanic worship
  • Part of the blueprint of Washington DC’s Luciferic design
  • Cipher for a hidden word of great power
  • A spread-legged female (square) opening her vagina to impregnation from heaven (compasses)
  • Representation of a heterosexual act

As you will soon see, the square and compasses represents none of the above; it is a simple symbol with a beautiful lesson applicable to everyone.

Why Symbols?

Symbols are all around us and instantly convey an abstract idea that would require sentences or even paragraphs of text to relate.

We avoid parking our car in a handicap spot by seeing the symbol of a wheelchair painted on the road. We know where restrooms are located in any public setting, and which restroom to walk into, by the simple symbol of a white figure of a man or woman on a blue background. A green light is a symbol to go, a red light a symbol to stop and an amber light a symbol to wait or slowdown.

Corporations employ the use of symbols as a means for customers to immediately identify their products. We are all familiar with the McDonalds golden arches, BMW’s white propeller spinning in a blue sky, Nike’s swoosh, the triple stripe of ADIDAS and the Macy’s star. Through symbols, businesses are able to communicate their brand without words, instead ingraining these images on our minds.

A symbol is an object that represents, stands for or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action, or material entity. Various faiths utilize symbols to represent their doctrines, such as the cross of Christianity or the Star of David of Judaism. When we see a cross, the words “CHURCH” or “CHRISTIAN CHURCH” are not necessary — it is the symbol that conveys the message. A synagogue does not need the words “JEWISH TEMPLE” or “JEWISH SYNAGOGUE” posted above its entrance — the Star of David serves this purpose symbolically without the use of words.

But What are Those Evil “Illuminati” Symbols?

You may ask: What about all these evil symbols of the so-called ‘illuminati’ and Satanism I often read about on the internet?

Let me make one thing clear: A symbol is only empowered by your interpretation of it, just like a car is only powered with gas. Without gas, a car is just a shell. Without interpretation, a symbol is just a drawing. A symbol carries as much or as little power as you choose to invest it with.

A triangle drawn with crayons by a four-year-old in kindergarten does not radiate any great power or convey any sublime message or truth. It is, simply, a triangle. To the high school geometry student, the same symbol of a triangle is symbolic of the Pythagoras Theorem, a2 + b2 = c2. To the Freemason, a triangle is symbolic of the complete man in which the three sides of the figure represent the three aspects of a person: physical, mental, spiritual or mind, body and soul. To the Satanist, the triangle — known as a thaumaturgic triangle — is a symbol used for casting spells or summoning demons. A symbol is only as powerful as you allow it to be. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, a triangle is just a triangle.

Symbols mean to us that which we interpret them to mean. A black cat means bad luck in the USA but good luck in Japan. To the Buddhist the symbol of the cross means little more than two intersected lines. But to a Christian, the symbolic cross is at the very centre of their belief system as the device upon which Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind. Symbolism is only as powerful as you allow.

A Progressive Symbol

Freemasonry is regarded as a progressive science, and the square and compasses is a progressive symbol that changes appearance according to degree. In the first degree of Freemasonry (Entered Apprentice) the two legs of the compasses sit below the two legs of the square. In the second degree (Fellowcraft) one leg of the compasses sits above the square and the other remains below the square. In the third degree (Master Mason) both legs of the compasses sit above the square, and it is this representation that is most commonly seen outside of a Masonic lodge. The progression of the symbols continues when a Mason becomes a Past Master of a lodge — having served a term as an elected and installed Master (in charge) of a lodge — and the square is replaced by a quadrant, or one-fourth of a circle.

The Square

The Masonic square is an angle of ninety degrees and by it a Mason is taught to square his actions. In the symbolism of the square and compasses, however, the square represents man’s base self, that is, your animal nature. This is the part of you which, simply speaking, is your lowest self.

Also known as ‘brute nature’ or ‘material nature’, your lowest self is the crudest version of you; the part of your make up that is unrefined, rough, primitive and unaltered by any processing. The lowest self is centered on the ego, which is made up of such components as: pride, guilt, aggression, anger, hate, selfishness, skepticism, conditional love, hostility, jealousy, lust, addictions, elitism, illusion, denial, conformity, boredom, the need for attention and validation, and the lack of realization of the divinity in oneself.

The square is, in essence, the unrefined man. But how does it represent such? Squares are not found in visible nature. There are no square trees, no square clouds, no square animals, no square body parts and no square rocks. Therefore, a square is something man made, hence the square in the Masonic square and compasses symbol represents man.

The Compasses

The Masonic compasses are always opened to 60° (one-third 180° of an equilateral triangle, representing man balanced in mind, body and soul). Emblematically the compasses teach a Mason to circumscribe his desires and keep his passions in due bounds with all mankind.

In the symbolism of the square and compasses, however, the compasses represent your higher self (the one-third of the 180° that represents soul), your spiritual aspects, which are capable of higher thoughts — of a life beyond the material, physical base nature.

Compasses draw circles, and circles are found in visible nature. Therefore, the compasses represent God, the Creator, a Higher Power. As such they represent man’s inner divinity, the divine spark, the higher self. Placing the compasses atop the square represents the entire purpose of Freemasonry: to improve oneself and progress above one’s base nature. By doing such, a Freemason endeavors to become the best human being he can, transcending his ego and embracing his higher self, the part of him that is God-like.

The Progression Explained

As an Entered Apprentice (first degree) a newly made Mason has not yet learned how to rise above his base nature, therefore the points of the compasses (higher self) are below the square, as his base nature (square) still dominates his thoughts and actions.

As a Fellowcraft (second degree), he is on his way to transcending his base nature and so one point of the compasses sits above the square. As a Master Mason (third degree) a Mason is said to have learned the lessons necessary to transcend his base nature, leave his ego at the door, and embrace his higher self. Both points of the compasses are now positioned over the square as the higher self symbolically has control over the lower self.

What is Transcendence?

Transcendence is true freedom and what separates us from animals. It is our remarkable human capacity to climb above programmed responses to outer variables and discover causality inside. Transcendence is the freed awareness which has arrived at such level of improvement that it can see itself as the reason and is no longer a slave to the conditioning of society and environment.

Transcendence will reveal your real self. Not the self-characterized by associations with your outer self (how you look, your job, your marriage, your hobbies, your lusts, your material desires) but the self-characterized by the completely cognizant standard vitalizing the psychophysical framework. It is the union between the awareness and the vitality, the dynamic rule that enlivens you, and is not simply one of several adapted responses to the external influences in your life.

Most people characterize themselves in connection to their external selves. This is human nature. We perceive ourselves to be what we see in the mirror and nothing more. We characterize ourselves by our sensitivity to our exterior. Our actual extraordinary nature is the cognizance of ourselves as totally free from such outer definitions.

The Divine Spark

To attain your higher self, to rise above your material nature, your crude state, your animal desires, should be your life’s aim. To do this one must recognize and awaken the divine spark.

The divine spark is not about believing in a particular religion or following a certain belief. Erase all religious connotations from your mind right now. Think of your divine spark in terms of something physical, anatomical, which can be explained operatively as much as it can be explained speculatively or philosophically.

The divine spark is more a connection each of us has with divinity or a higher power, the universe, the life force, a supreme being, the source of creation or whatever name you wish to call such. It is hard to believe that a being as amazing as a human is a mere aggregation of matter and elements that work perfectly in an established order. Our body is too complicated to be solely matter. There needs to be something that connects us with something superior and extraordinary, and that is the divine spark, the sign that we are more than monkey relatives; more than blood, bone and elements in the periodic table. We are invisible energy manifest in flesh. This energy is powered by the divine spark, which some attribute to God and others to the Universe, super consciousness, or some other high entity.

To activate your divine spark is to turn inward and connect with your centre. This divine spark at your center is represented by the letter G placed at the very center of the square and compasses, symbolically at the very center of one who has transcended his brute nature.

Exploring Alchemical Symbols

Exploring Alchemical Symbols

Symbols and allegories were common parlance during the “golden age” of alchemy — the 17th and 18th centuries. An example is the 17th Century British folk song, “John Barleycorn,” which tells the harrowing story of poor John Barleycorn, subjected to torture, abuse, death, and ultimately, triumph.

“They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in

Throwed clods upon his head,

Til these three men were satisfied

John Barleycorn was dead.”

Other verses describe John Barleycorn being cut off at the knees, tied around the waist, stabbed in the heart with forks, having his skin split from the bone and ground between two stones, and being drowned. The final verses are:

“There’s beer all in the barrel and brandy in the glass

But little Sir John, with his nut-brown bowl, proved the strongest man at last.

And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor loudly blow his horn

And the tinker he can’t mend his pots without a little barleycorn.”

In John Barleycorn’s final incarnation, as distilled whiskey, he can lay low (intoxicate) any man who challenges him; others depend on him to ease their existence. The abuses our hero endures correspond to the stages of planting, growing, harvesting, and milling barley and distilling whiskey.

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