Freemasonry is a centuries-old fraternal organization known for its rich symbolism, intricate rituals, and cryptic phrases. Among the many enigmatic expressions used by Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” stands out as one of the most intriguing. This phrase is often uttered during Masonic ceremonies and meetings, shrouded in mystery and symbolism. In this blog post, we will explore the origins and significance of “So Mote It Be” within Freemasonry.
The Origins of So Mote It Be
The phrase “So Mote It Be” has a long and complex history, with roots that extend beyond Freemasonry. Its origins can be traced back to medieval English and Scottish language, where “mote” means “may” or “might.” In the context of Freemasonry, the phrase essentially means, “So may it be.”
“So Mote It Be” is used in various Masonic rituals, including the initiation of new members and the closing of lodge meetings. Its presence in these ceremonies serves multiple purposes:
Freemasonry is rich in symbolism, and this phrase is no exception. It represents the idea of finality, a seal upon the work completed during the ritual. It’s akin to saying, “Let it be done” or “Let it be accomplished.”
Freemasons use “So Mote It Be” to reinforce the sense of unity and brotherhood among members. It signifies that all present agree on the actions taken or the words spoken during the ritual.
By using this phrase, Freemasons connect themselves to the traditions and rituals of their forebears, adding a sense of continuity and historical significance to their practices.
Beyond its surface-level interpretation, “So Mote It Be” holds a deeper, esoteric meaning within Freemasonry. Some Masonic scholars and practitioners believe it carries spiritual connotations, emphasizing the power of the spoken word and the manifestation of intentions.
Freemasonry teaches that words and thoughts have a profound effect on reality. Uttering “So Mote It Be” is a way of affirming one’s intention and invoking the universe’s assistance in making it a reality.
In some Masonic traditions, “So Mote It Be” is seen as a recognition of the divine will or providence. It acknowledges that the ultimate outcome of any endeavor is in the hands of a higher power.
“So Mote It Be” may sound like a quaint and archaic phrase, but within Freemasonry, it carries deep symbolism and significance. This mysterious utterance encapsulates the principles of unity, historical continuity, and the power of intention that are central to Masonic philosophy.
While its origins may be rooted in medieval language, its relevance in contemporary Freemasonry remains undiminished. To Freemasons, “So Mote It Be” serves as a reminder of the timeless wisdom and traditions that have guided their fraternity for centuries, and a testament to the enduring power of their shared rituals and values.
Decoding Freemasonry: Unveiling the Meaning of the “G”
Freemasonry, an ancient and enigmatic fraternity, has intrigued and captivated individuals for centuries. One of the most puzzling and widely debated aspects of Freemasonry is the letter “G” which often appears in Masonic symbolism. While the exact interpretation might vary among Masonic traditions, the “G” carries deep symbolic significance, reflecting the core principles and values of Freemasonry. In this post, we’ll explore the possible meanings behind the letter “G” in Freemasonry and shed light on its historical, philosophical, and allegorical implications.
The use of the letter “G” in Masonic symbolism can be traced back to the 18th century. During this period, Freemasonry was undergoing a transformation from operative stonemasonry to speculative Freemasonry, focusing more on moral and ethical teachings rather than practical construction. This shift led to the incorporation of various symbols and allegories, including the enigmatic “G.”
The Great Architect of the Universe
One of the most widely accepted interpretations of the “G” in Freemasonry is that it stands for the Grand Architect of the Universe. This concept reflects the fraternity’s belief in a higher power or divine creator that governs the universe. Freemasonry is inclusive, allowing individuals from various religious backgrounds to come together under the shared belief in a supreme being. The “G” is a representation of the divine presence that guides and influences Masonic values and teachings.
Another interpretation of the “G” relates to the significance of geometry and science within Freemasonry. Geometry has deep historical connections to architecture and construction, which were crucial elements in the early Masonic guilds. The letter “G” can symbolize geometry’s importance in both the physical and metaphorical construction of a Mason’s life. It represents precision, balance, and the meticulous craftsmanship required in both architecture and moral character development.
The “G” has also been associated with generativity and growth. Freemasonry places a strong emphasis on personal development, enlightenment, and self-improvement. The letter “G” can be is a reminder to continuously strive for intellectual, spiritual, and moral growth. It symbolizes that Masons are working to cultivate their inner selves and contribute positively to the world around them.
What does the G in the masonic symbol stand for?
The letter “G” in Freemasonry encapsulates a range of interpretations, each carrying profound allegorical and philosophical meanings. Whether representing the Grand Architect of the Universe, the importance of geometry and science, or the pursuit of personal growth, the “G” remains a central and thought-provoking symbol within the Masonic tradition. It serves as a reminder of the fraternity’s commitment to moral principles, intellectual exploration, and a higher understanding of life’s mysteries. As we delve into the mysteries of Freemasonry, the enigmatic “G” continues to spark curiosity and contemplation, inviting us to explore its multifaceted significance.
Throughout history, certain phrases and idioms have taken on a life of their own, sparking curiosity and intrigue. One such enigmatic expression is “riding the goat.” Often alluded to in various cultural contexts, this phrase has piqued the interest of many, prompting questions about its origin, meaning, and significance. In this blog post, we delve into the origins and interpretations of “riding the goat” to shed light on its multifaceted connotations.
The Masonic Connection of Riding the Goat.
One of the most well-known references to “riding the goat” is found within the secretive world of Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with a rich history, encompassing symbols, rituals, and customs. In Masonic initiation ceremonies, neophytes are often subjected to various trials and challenges as they progress through different degrees of membership. One such challenge involves the idea of “riding the goat.”
The concept of “riding the goat” in Masonic lore refers to a symbolic ordeal that initiates might face during their initiation rituals. This ordeal is not meant to be taken literally; instead, it’s a metaphorical representation of facing one’s fears, overcoming obstacles, and demonstrating one’s commitment to the values and principles of Freemasonry. The specific nature of this challenge can vary from one Masonic lodge to another, but its purpose remains consistent: to test the initiate’s resolve and dedication.
Historical Context and Variations of Riding the Goat
The phrase “riding the goat” has been used outside of Masonic circles as well. In some older contexts, it has been associated with hazing rituals or pranks in various social settings, often involving embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. These practices were not limited to Freemasonry but were rather reflective of broader cultural norms in certain periods.
Facing Challenges: The act of “riding the goat” symbolizes facing challenges head-on, even when the path seems difficult or intimidating. It encourages individuals to confront their fears and uncertainties with courage and determination.
Transformation: Within the Masonic context, “riding the goat” can be seen as a metaphor for personal transformation. Just as the initiate undergoes a symbolic journey, facing trials and emerging as a changed individual, so too does the act of “riding the goat” represent a transformative experience.
Commitment and Dedication: Whether in Freemasonry or other contexts, “riding the goat” underscores the importance of commitment. It signifies one’s dedication to a cause, organization, or personal growth journey.
Humility: The phrase can also be interpreted as a lesson in humility. By subjecting oneself to challenges, an individual acknowledges their vulnerability and acknowledges the need for growth.
Decoding the Mystery: What Does “Riding the Goat” Mean?
The phrase “riding the goat” carries a rich tapestry of meanings and interpretations, rooted in historical rituals, fraternal organizations, and broader societal practices. While its origins might lie in Masonic initiation ceremonies, its symbolism has transcended its original context to become a metaphor for facing challenges, embracing transformation, and demonstrating unwavering commitment. So, the next time you come across this enigmatic phrase, you’ll have a deeper understanding of its significance and the various ways it reflects aspects of the human experience.
The symbol of the Pillars in Freemasonry, three in total, have a special place in the rituals and symbolism of Freemasonry. Many an author, including myself, have attempted to capture their meaning and give resonance to their understanding. Writing in a preamble to the second degree, I defined the pillars in their three representations or mercy, severity and mildness, writing:
Wisdom, the left-hand pillar of mercy, is an active pillar and representative of alchemical fire, which is the principal of spirituality, often called the pillar of Jachin. It is a masculine pillar, and relates to our mental energy, our loving kindness, and our creative inspiration as we traverse it up the Kabbalaistic tree through the Sephirot.
Strength is the right-hand pillar and takes the form of severity, shaped into the alchemical symbol of water. It can represent darkness, but it is a passive symbol that is feminine in nature and called the pillar of Boaz. Upon it we find the points of our thoughts and ideas, our feelings and emotions, and the physicality of our physical experience, our sensations, each an aspect of its Cabalistic progression.
Beauty, then, takes on the role of synthesis of the two, the pillar of mildness; it is upon this pillar that the novitiate is transformed through his progressive states as he progresses. The central pillar of Beauty is representative of Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton which represents deity itself upon which our crown of being resides balanced through feeling and emotion from our foundation of justice and mercy, which springs from our link to the everyday world.
H. A. Kingsbury, writing in The Three Supporting Pillars Of A Lodge, from The Builder Magazine in October 1917, writes of the pillars saying, The Mason is informed that the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty “because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings”: he cannot but gather from the lectures and the work, particularly of the First Degree, that the Lodge is the symbol of the World: therefore, when he combines these two conceptions and draws the necessarily resulting conclusion, he arrives at the same understanding of the ultimate symbolic significance of the Three Pillars as did the ancient Hindus–the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are, considered as a group, the symbol of Him Whose Wisdom contrived the World, Whose Strength supports the World, Whose Beauty adorns the World-Deity.
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty
From the first degree lecture, it reads,“The Worshipful Master represents the pillar of Wisdom, because he should have wisdom to open his Lodge, set the craft at work, and give them proper instructions. The Senior Warden represents the pillar of Strength, it being his duty to assist the Worshipful Master in opening and closing his Lodge, to pay the craft their wages, if any be due, and see that none go away dissatisfied, harmony being the strength of all institutions, more especially of ours. The Junior Warden represents the pillar of Beauty, it being his duty at all times to observe the sun at high meridian, which is the glory and beauty of the day.”
The masonic pillars as an ancient symbol
Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, writes of the pillars, saying:
In the earliest times it was customary to perpetuate remarkable events, or exhibit gratitude for providential favors, by the erection of pillars, which by the idolatrous races were dedicated to their spurious gods. Thus Sanchoniathon the Berytian tells us that Hypsourianos (Hypsuranius) and Ousous (Memrumus?), who lived before the Flood, dedicated two pillars to the elements, fire and air. Among the Egyptians the pillars were, in general, in the form of obelisks from fifty to one hundred feet high, and exceedingly slender in proportion. Upon their four sides hieroglyphics were often engraved. According to Herodotus, they were first raised in honor of the sun, and their pointed form was intended to represent his rays. Many of these monuments still remain.
In the antediluvian or before the Flood, ages, the posterity of Seth erected pillars; “for,” says the Jewish historian, “that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction, that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence of water, they made two pillars, the one of brick, the other of stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind, and would also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them.” Jacob erected such a pillar at Bethel, to commemorate his remarkable vision of the ladder, and afterward another one at Galeed as a memorial of his alliance with Laban. Joshua erected one at Gilgal to perpetuate the remembrance of his miraculous crossing of the Jordan. Samuel set up a pillar between Mizpeh and Shen, on account of a defeat of the Philistines, and Absalom erected another in honor of himself. The reader will readily see the comparison between these memorials mentioned in the Bible and the modern erection of tablets, gravestones, etc., to the honor of the dead as well as to a notable deed or event. Compare also the use of an altar.
The doctrine of gravitation was unknown to the people of the primitive ages, and they were unable to refer the support of the earth in its place to this principle. Hence, they looked to some other cause, and none appeared to their simple and unphilosophic minds more plausible than that it was sustained by pillars. The Old Testament abounds with reference to this idea. Hannah, in her song of thanksgiving, exclaims: “The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (First Samuel 2, 8). The Psalmist signifies the same doctrine in the following text: “The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved; I bear up the pillars of it” (Psalm 75:3). Job 26:7 says: “He shaketh the earth out of her places, and the pillars thereof tremble.” All the old religions taught the same doctrine; and hence pillars being regarded as the supporters of the earth, they were adopted as the symbol of strength and firmness. To this, John Dudley (Naology: Or, a Treatise On the Origin, Progress, and Symbolical Import of the Sacred Structures of the Most Eminent Nations and Ages of the World, page 123) attributes the origin of pillar worship, which prevailed so extensively among the idolatrous nations of antiquity. “The reverence,” says he, “shown to columns, as symbols of the power of the Deity, was readily converted into worship paid to them as idols of the real presence.” But here he seems to have fallen into a mistake. The double pillars or columns, acting as an architectural support, were, it is true, symbols derived from a natural cause of strength and permanent firmness. But there was another more prevailing symbology. The monolith, or circular pillar, standing alone, was, to the ancient mind, a representation of the Phallus, the symbol of the creative and generative energy of Deity, and it is in these Phallic Pillars that we are to find the true origin of pillar worship, which was only one form of Phallic Worship, the most predominant of all the cults to which the ancients were addicted.
In this installment of the Symbols and Symbolism of Freemasonry, we consider a vital emblem of Freemasonry, the compass or compasses. Albert G. Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, gives context to this meaning of this mysterious symbols meaning and history. Mackey, writes:
As in Operative Freemasonry, the compasses are used for the measurement of the architect’s plans, and to enable him to give those just proportions which will ensure beauty as well as stability to his work; so, in Speculative Freemasonry, is this important implement symbolic of that even tenor of deportment, that true standard of rectitude which alone can bestow happiness here and felicity hereafter.
Hence are the compasses the most prominent emblem of virtue, the true and only, measure of a Freemason’s life and conduct. As the Bible gives us light on our duties to God, and the square illustrates our duties to our neighborhood and Brother, so the compasses give that additional light which is to instruct us in the duty we owe to ourselves-the great, imperative duty of circumscribing our passions, and keeping our desires within due bounds. “It is ordained,” says the philosophic Edmund Burke, “in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate passions cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters.”
Those Brethren who delight to trace our emblems to an astronomical origin, find in the compasses a symbol of the sun, the circular pivot representing the body of the luminary, and the diverging legs his rays.
In the earliest rituals of the eighteenth century, the compasses are described as a part of the furniture of the Lodge and are said to belong to the Master.
Some change will be found in this respect in the ritual of the present day.
The word is sometimes spelled and pronounced compass, which is more usually applied to the magnetic needle and circular dial or card of the mariner from which he directs his course over the seas, or the similar guide of the airman when seeking his destination across unknown territory.
Of the spheres and heavens
Pike, in Morals and Dogma, defines the compass as an emblem that describes circles, and deals with spherical trigonometry, the science of the spheres and heavens. The former, therefore, is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; the latter of what concerns the heavens and the soul. Yet the Compass is also used in plane trigonometry, as in erecting perpendiculars; and, therefore, you are reminded that, although in this degree both points of the Compass are under the Square, and you are now dealing only with the moral and political meaning of the symbols, and not with their philosophical and spiritual meanings, still the divine ever mingles with the human; with the earthly the spiritual intermixes; and there is something spiritual in the commonest duties of life.
Raised to a Master Mason in 1908, at Harmony Lodge No. 17 in Washington, DC, Carl H. Claudy served as the Master and eventually as Grand Master of Masons in 1943. He served as the executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 holding the position until his death in 1957 claiming authorship of nearly 350 Short Talk Bulletins.
The MSANA says of the plays:
[They] are not merely a means by which a lodge may entertain, but attempt to satisfy a desire to understand the inner content of Freemasonry. They accomplish this purpose by drawing aside the veils of ritual, allegory and symbol that the truth behind may shine through.
In this edition of Freemason Information’s Symbols and Symbolism we consider, together, the four cardinal virtues of Freemasonry as gathered form Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Mackey (and Freemasonry) originally sourcing the virtues from Plato’s scheme, discussed in Republic Book IV, 426–435. Mackey writes of the cardinal virtues saying, The pre-eminent or principal virtues on which all the others hinge or depend. They are temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. They are referred to in the ritual of the first degree, and will be found below under their respective heads. Oliver says (Revelation of a Square, ch. i.,) that in the eighteenth century the Masons delineated the symbols of the four cardinal virtues by an acute angle, variously disposed. Thus, suppose you face the east, the angle symbolizing temperance will point to the south, It was called a Guttural. Fortitude was denoted by a saltire, or St. Andrew’s Cross. This was the Pectoral. The symbol of prudence was an acute angle pointing towards the south-east, and was denominated a Manual; and justice had its angle towards the north and was called a Pedestal or Pedal.
Of the particular virtues, Mackey says:
One of the four cardinal virtues; the practice of which is inculcated in the First Degree. The Freemason who properly appreciates the secrets which he has solemnly promised never to reveal, will not, by yielding to the unrestrained call of appetite, permit reason and judgment to lose their seats and subject himself, by the indulgence in habits of excess, to discover that which should be concealed, and thus merit and receive the scorn and detestation of his Brethren. And lest any Brother should forget the danger to which he is exposed in the unguarded hours of dissipation, the virtue of temperance is wisely impressed upon is memory, lay its reference to one of the most solemn portions of the ceremony of initiation. Some Freemasons, very properly condemning the vice of intemperance and abhorring its effects, have been unwisely led to confound temperance with total abstinence in a Masonic application, and resolutions have sometimes been proposed in Grand Lodges which declare the use of stimulating liquors in any quantity a Masonic offense. Put the law of Freemasonry authorizes no such regulation. It leaves to every man the indulgence of his own tastes within due limits, and demands not abstinence, but only moderation and temperance, in anything not actually wrongs.
Plato’s text on temperance says, “the virtue of temperance has more of the nature of harmony and symphony…Temperance…is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of ‘a man being his own master;’ “ Something he finds as a “ridiculous in the expression ‘master of himself;’ for the master is also the servant and the servant the master; and in all these modes of speaking the same person is denoted,” but to which he denotes “…in the human soul there is a better and also a worse principle; and when the better has the worse under control, then a man is said to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise: but when, owing to evil education or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller, is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse—in this case he is blamed and is called the slave of self and unprincipled.”
One of the four cardinal virtues, whose excellencies are dilated on in the First Degree. It not only instructs the worthy Freemason to bear the ills of life with becoming resignation, “taking up arms against a sea of trouble,” but, by its intimate connection with a portion of our ceremonies, it teaches him to let no dangers shake, no pains dissolve the inviolable fidelity he owes to the trusts reposed in him. Or, in the words of the old Prestonian lecture, it is “a fence or security against any attack that might be made upon him by force or otherwise, to extort from him any of our Royal Secrets.”
Spence, in his Polymetis, when describing the moral virtues! says of Fortitude: “She may be easily known by her erect air and military dress, the spear she rests on with one hand, and the sword which she holds in the other. She has a globe under her feet; I suppose to shows that the Romans, by means of this virtue, were to subdue the whole world.”
Plato encapsulates courage (fortitude) as “a kind of salvation…[a salvation] of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are and of what nature, which the law implants through education; and I mean by the words ‘under all circumstances’ to intimate that in pleasure or in pain, or under the influence of desire or fear, a man preserves, and does not lose this opinion.”
This is one of the four cardinal virtues, the practice of which is inculcated upon the Entered Apprentice. Preston first introduced it into the Degree as referring to what was then, and long before had been called the Four Principal Signs, but which are now known as the Perfect Points of Entrance. Preston’s eulogium on prudence differs from that used in the lectures of the United States of America, which was composed by Webb. It is in these words: “Prudence is the true guide to human understanding, and consists in judging and determining with propriety what is to be said or done upon all our occasions, what dangers we should endeavor to avoid, and how to act in all our difficulties.” Webb’s definition, which is much better, may be found in all the Monitors. The Masonic reference of prudence to the manual point reminds us of the classic method of representing her in statues with a rule or measure in her hand.
In Plato’s Republic, Wisdom is harder to tease out as a virtue, but can essentially be distilled down as knowledge “first among the virtues…” where “good counsel is…a kind of knowledge, for not by ignorance, but by knowledge…so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the knowledge which resides in this presiding and ruling part of itself, the whole State, being thus constituted according to nature, will be wise; and this, which has the only knowledge worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to be of all classes the least.” The takeaway, perhaps, is that knowledge (education) leads to wisdom.
One of the four cardinal virtues, the practice of which is inculcated in the first degree. The Mason who remembers how emphatically he has been charged to preserve an upright position in all his dealings with mankind, should never fail to act justly to himself, to his brethren, and to the world. This is the cornerstone on which alone he can expect ” to erect a superstructure alike honorable to himself and to the Fraternity.” In iconography, Justice is usually represented as a matron with bandaged eyes, holding in one hand a sword and in the other a pair of scales at equipoise. But in Masonry the true symbol of Justice, as illustrated in the first degree, is the feet firmly planted on the ground, and the body upright.
Justice, Plato encapsulates as, “being concerned however, not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elements within him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work of others,—he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own law, and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together the three principles within him, which may be compared to the higher, lower, and middle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals—when he has bound all these together, and is no longer many, but has become one entirely temperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act, if he has to act, whether in a matter of property, or in the treatment of the body, or in some affair of politics or private business; always thinking and calling that which preserves and co-operates with this harmonious condition, just and good action, and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which at any time impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the opinion which presides over it ignorance.
In this episode of Symbols and Symbolism we look at a short entry from Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry examining the figure of the weeping virgin. A newer invention in the symbolism of Freemasonry, Mackey draws an ancient parallel to its cryptic iconography.
The Weeping Virgin with disheveled hair, in the Monument of the Third Degree used in the American Rite, is interpreted as a symbol of grief for the unfinished state of the Temple.
Jeremy Cross, who is said to have fabricated the monumental symbol, was not, we are satisfied, acquainted with Hermetic Science. Yet a woman thus portrayed, standing near a tomb, was a very appropriate symbol for the Third Degree, whose dogma is the resurrection.
In Hermetic Science, according to Nicolas Flammel (Hieroglyphics, chapter xxxii), a woman having her hair disheveled and standing near a tomb is a symbol of the soul.
Jeremy Cross (b.1783, d. 1861) became a mason in 1808 and soon became a student of Thomas Smith Webb. In 1819 he published The True Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor, in which he borrowed liberally from the previous work of Webb. The Weeping Virgin first appeared as an illustration as rendered by the American copperplate engraver Amos Doolittle, appearing in Crosse’s The True Masonic Chart.
Symbolic, even among the symbols of Freemasonry, the moon plays an essential part in the esoteric nature of Freemasonry. Not a primary component of the ritual, the celestial body none-the-less features prominently in the rites and rituals of the lodge harkening back to older and more esoteric traditions.
The adoption of the moon in the Masonic system as a symbol is analogous to, but could hardly be derived from, the employment of the same symbol in the ancient religions. In Egypt, Osiris was the sun, and Isis the moon; in Syria, Adonis was the sun and Ashtaroth the moon; the Greeks adored her as Diana, and Hecate; in the mysteries of Ceres, while the hierophant or chief priest represented the Creator, and the torch-bearer the sun, the officer nearest the altar represented the moon. In short, moon-worship was as widely disseminated as sun-worship. Masons retain her image in their Rites because the Lodge is a representation of the universe. where, as the sun rules over the day, the moon presides over the night; as the one regulates the year, so does the other the months, and as the former is the king of the starry hosts of heaven, so is the latter their queen; but both deriving their heat, and light, and power from him, who has the third and the greatest light, the master of heaven and earth controls them both.
From The Master Mason
In its culmination, [the third degree] is the transition through life and death in order to be reborn anew with an understanding of the spiritual world that has always been around us but now made visible. The moon, here, is key as Yesod leads to our understanding of becoming an emblem of the reflective nature we assume in this transformation. Like the moon, we reflect the light of the Great Architect capturing what is impossible to see without becoming blinded by its radiance. This is, of course, a metaphor but no less appropriate to the change we undergo and the purpose we assume in becoming masters. Like the moon, each of us reflect the glory of the divine sun in phases, exerting our gravitational force over the tides of our interactions.
In this edition of Symbols and Symbolism, we look at a reading on the Ouroboros, that serpent devouring its tail as a representation of eternity and the passage of time. This symbol, while existing in a mainstream context, is little known outside of most esoteric and occult circles. Its use triggers very specific meanings for those utilizing it as part of their overall allegorical narrative.
This symbol appears principally among the Gnostics and is depicted as a dragon, snake or serpent biting its own tail. In the broadest sense, it is symbolic of time and of the continuity of life. It sometimes bears the caption Hen to pan—’The One, the All’, as in the Codex Marcianus, for instance, of the 2nd century A.D. It has also been explained as the union between the chthonian principle as represented by the serpent and the celestial principle as signified by the bird (a synthesis which can also be applied to the dragon). Ruland contends that this proves that it is a variant of the symbol for Mercury—the duplex god. In some versions of the Ouroboros, the body is half light and half dark, alluding in this way to the successive counterbalancing of opposing principles as illustrated in the Chinese Yang-Yin symbol for instance. Evola asserts that it represents the dissolution of the body, or the universal serpent which (to quote the Gnostic saying) ‘passes through all things’. Poison, the viper and the universal solvent are all symbols of the undifferentiated—of the ‘unchanging law’ which moves through all things, linking them by a common bond. Both the dragon and the bull are symbolic antagonists of the solar hero. The ouroboros biting its own tail is symbolic of self-fecundation, or the primitive idea of a self-sufficient Nature—a Nature, that is, which, à la Nietzsche, continually returns, within a cyclic pattern, to its own beginning. There is a Venetian manuscript on alchemy which depicts the Ouroboros with its body half-black (symbolizing earth and night) and half-white (denoting heaven and light).