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Why Does Freemasonry Use Odd Symbols?

Skulls, architectural tools, mallets, aprons… all of these things can we weird. So why does Freemasonry use so many odd symbols? This question is at the heart of many detractors who like to speculate on their nefarious meanings.

Freemasonry is a system of symbol and allegory. By using such symbols, it conveys specific meanings or lessons that each recipient can apply to his personal life and spiritual development.

The skull and bones, or specifically the skull (or death’s head) is actually a symbol to remind us of mortality, as it is the ultimate equalizer of men of all rank, as none can avoid its inevitability. This is more a means to remind us that no matter our station in life, rich or poor, we are all subject to the same fate, and that our goal should be to make this world better for everyone. All Masons should always strive for our noble endeavor of spreading brotherly love, relief, and truth. The hourglass similarly reminds us of the swift passage of time, so as not to delay. The Temple of Solomon has many meanings within Masonry; most significantly it represents the Temple built to hold the laws of God to man in the Judaic tradition. Though its use implied a religious connotation, its application is universal and serves as an allegory to a deeper meaning.

More in the series:

What is Freemasonry? – Part 1: What is a Freemason?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 2: How Old is Freemasonry?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 3: Why are Freemason’s Secretive?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 4: Is Freemasonry a Patriotic Body?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 5: Why Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 6: Why is Freemasonry a Ritual Practice?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 7: Why Does Freemasonry Use Odd Symbols?

From the ebook: What is Freemasonry?

Greg Stewart: A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.

View Comments (1)

  • Is it really necessary to explain the symbolic meaning of the skull and crossbones. Anyone with a half-way decent education should know of the symbols of memento mori. As for the rest of society ... I wouldn't bother with them.

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