1) The point within a circle has a very specific masonic meaning. Is there any biblical or historical reference to this ancient symbol that should be known by us today?
2) We all know that masonically, the parallel lines represent the Holy Saints John, but why are lodges dedicated to the memory of them today? Were there ever lodges dedicated to the memory of any other figures?
Some depictions show a “B” on the outer left side of the left vertical line for John the Baptist and an “E” on the outer right side of the right vertical line. The V.S.L. (Volume of Sacred Law) resides above the circle.
- Point = The Individual Brother.
- Circle= The boundary line of his duty to God and to man, beyond which a man should not allow his passions, prejudices or interests to betray him.
- Parallel Lines=Holy Sts. John
This symbol has Modern and Ancient interpretations:
Modern Christian Interpretation:
The following excerpt is from the book, Facts, Fables and Fantasies of Freemasonry, 1968, 5th Edition, 1993, by Rt. Ex. William Adrian Brown, Missouri Lodge of Research.
The Point Within a Circle denotes St. John the Baptist, whose “day” is June 24th and St. John the Evangelist, whose “day” is December 27th. They are the 2 Patron Saints of Masonry. While many Master Masons are aware of the celebration of these 2 days, few realize why it is cause for celebration within their lodge.
The Lodge of St. John was the primitive Mother Lodge, held in Jerusalem and dedicated to St. John, the Baptist and then to St. John the Evangelist and finally to both. It is called the Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem and from this lodge all other lodges descended.”
End of excerpt from Facts, Fables and Fantasies of Freemasonry.
The Saints John: Little is known about either of the Saints John in the Masonic sense. What we do know is that:
St. John the Baptist: St. John the Baptist was a stern and morally just man. He was a direct descendant from Ishmael’s bloodline. (Ishmael was Abraham’s eldest son, born by his servant, Hagar.) John’s mother, Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, (Jesus’ mother) and both John and Jesus were contemporaries (born about the same time).
John the Baptist baptized Jesus and proclaimed Him the “Lamb of God”. John the Baptist is probably best known for his survivalist instincts, (as we read of his living off of locusts and honey) and for his zealous virtue in keeping God’s laws.
St. John the Evangelist: St. John the Evangelist is said to be the disciple whom Jesus loved. St. John the Evangelist is also known as John the Apostle. He is probably best known as a teacher of knowledge, the author of the Gospel book of John, the book of Revelation in the New Testament and later wrote the 3 Epistles in the Bible called John 1, John 2 and John 3.
He was the only one of the 12 disciples who did not forsake Jesus at the hour of his death. He is remembered as a gentle teacher of brotherly love and was the last surviving apostle, and believed to have died at a very old age (90+), circa 101 A.D. at Ephesus, Turkey, which is about halfway between Jerusalem and Rome. At a later date, a church was built over his tomb and subsequently, a beautiful Moslem Mosque.
There is no historical evidence that either of the Saints John were ever members of the Craft of stonemasons, but because of their righteous lives and their strength of character, both of these Godly men have been adopted as the 2 Patron Saints of Masonry. Originally, lodges were dedicated to God…
Summer and Winter Solstices: In ancient times, festivals were held on these 2 days because they represent the days of the Summer and Winter Solstices, which illustrate cycles of life. Today, our Summer Solstice is June 21st and our Winter Solstice is December 21st. These 2 festivals celebrated the times of both the first fruits in the Spring and the Fall harvest. (I have an entire email dedicated to this topic alone, which I will send out as a supplement to this answer if you request it, Bro. Johnson and Bro. Mauldin have already requested this information…through their enlightening first answers and even more challenging questions. Thanks Brothers.)
These symbols originate from ancient civilizations, long before even King Solomon’s day…brought forward generation by generation via inculcation (teaching) and by the ancient monuments found to be inscribed with these symbols which Egyptologists, geologists and other scholars study in their attempts to understand Man’s history.
Point Within A Circle in Egypt: The 2 vertical lines on either side of the Point Within a Circle symbol date back before Solomon. (who lived nearly 1,000 years before John the Baptist was born.) On early Egyptian monuments have been found the Alpha and Omega, (the symbol of God as the beginning and the end…or, therefore eternal), in the center of the circle bordered by 2 upright, perpendicular parallel serpents. For some, the science and philosophy behind Masonic symbolism is viewed as Freemasonry’s secrets, mysteries, or as a form of secret cultism known only to Freemason scholars. However, this is not true. For those who study attempting to find “Light”, the science and philosophy behind Masonic symbolism can be found in Man’s history. Masonic ritual, too, imitates these proud and ancient religious traditions. For those who seek more Masonic Light about the Point Within A Circle, please check out the reference below, for a more in depth explanation of this ancient symbol. Bro. Albert Mackey, The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths and Symbols. In order to truly understanding the ancient wisdom this masonic symbol represents, we have to go back to the Middle chamber where we learned about the 7 liberal arts and sciences. Putting this symbol to use in everyday life requires that you use:
Logic: the 3rd of the 7 Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Geometry: the 5th of the 7 Liberal Arts and Sciences
Astronomy: the 7th of the 7 Liberal Arts and Science
(There’s that pesky 3,5,7 again!)
3) What does it mean to “square the circle”? How does one use the following formula to “square the circle”? a2+b2=c2
We now come to the last of the puzzlers
47th Problem of Euclid
How To Square Your Square
“In any right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse.” (the hypotenuse of a right triangle…which is the longest “leg”…or the 5 side of the 3:4:5:). The Right Triangle, below, shows the sides of 3, 4 and 5. The angle created between the 3 (side) and the 4 (side) is the Right angle of the square. A little later, when we begin to build it, (with sticks and string), you will place your sticks at the 3 corners of this Right triangle.
The essence of the Pythagorean Theorem (also called the 47th Problem of Euclid) is about the importance of establishing an architecturally true (correct) foundation based on use of the square. Why is this so important to speculative Masons who only have a symbolic square and not the actual square (the tool) of an operative Mason? The 47th Problem of Euclid is the mathematical equation (the knowledge) that allows a Master Mason to “Square his square when it gets out of square.” So you should be able to now see the connection between these two symbols…you can (mathematically) square the circle, but I was asking a more exoteric question. I was looking for you to see these symbols for what they are, references for us to use to guide our everyday decisions. These two powerful masonic symbols should help you make better decisions, and improve yourself, through constant trying “by the square” to ensure you are a living perpendicular, that does not overstep your societal boundaries, as represented by the point within the circle.
So Mote It Be