“Freemasonry is rich in symbols which have come down to us from the cuneiform scripts of the ancient Sumerians, circa 3000 B.C” (read more).
“Throughout history people have used special images to communicate abstract ideas and present their perspectives and insights into philosophical, scientific, and religious concepts. These potent images, or symbols, both preserve and reveal the essence of the intended notions. Some symbols are intuitive or even overt (for example, a skull and crossbones on a bottle of poison), while others are subtle and demand contemplation, explanation, or the benefit of maturity and/or life experience. Freemasonry is so inextricably bound to the use of symbolism that it has been famously defined as “a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” In brief, the use of symbolism lies at the heart of our tradition.” —Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide by Arturo De Hoyos
As there is no symbol of Masonry that has no more than one meaning—the first explanation, and even the second or third, being often itself a symbol and enigma—you will not be surprised to learn that the meaning of these degrees has often been mistaken or misrepresented. —Albert Pike
The “All-Seeing Eye” is a symbol of watchfulness and the eye of the Grand Architect. It is the symbol of his Divine watchfulness and care of the Universe.
The All-Seeing Eye, whom the Sun, Moon, and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits. The “Rays” represent “Light”. Freemasons are emphatically called “The Sons of Light” because they are entitled to be in possession of the true meaning and knowledge of this symbol. As Light not only came from God, it also makes man’s way clear before him, so it is employed to signify moral truth. The “Dove” in early Masonry is a symbol of Noah’s messenger. In ancient symbolism, the Dove represented purify and innocence and was often seen bearing an olive branch.
The “Blazing Star” reminds us of that awe inspiring period when the Almighty delivered the two tablets on stone, containing the Ten Commandments, to His faithful servant Moses on Mt. Sinai; when the rays of His divine glory shone so bright that none could behold it without fear and trembling. It also represents the sacred name of God, as a universal spirit who enlivens our hearts, who purifies our reason, who increases our knowledge, and who makes us wiser and better men.
The Sprig of Acacia” is the symbol of the immortality of soul; as the flower, which “cometh forth and is cut down”, reminds us of the transitory nature of human life.
Acacia sprigs were planted by the Hebrew people at the head of a grave for 2 purposes:
- To mark the location of the grave.
- To show their belief in immortality.
Immortality: Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians believed that because of its hardness, durability and evergreen nature, that this tree was a symbol of both innocence and immortality.
Shittim: In the Bible, it is called “shittim”. Chosen above all others, shittim was the wood which God commanded Moses to use to create the Ark of the Covenant into which Moses placed the 2 stone tablets upon which The 10 Commandments were carved.
Ark of the Covenant: The entire chapter of Exodus 37 is devoted to the creation of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was first constructed of shittim wood and then overlaid with gold before being placed into the Holy of Holies (Sanctum Sanctorum) in Solomon’s Temple.
Hardwood: The wood is a beautiful hardwood with dark and light coloring. Due to this intermingled coloring, furniture and flooring made from its wood is both very durable, as well as exceptionally beautiful.
The “Beehive” is an emblem of industry. It teaches us that we came into this world rational and intelligent beings, so should we be industrious one.
Taken together, the anchor and the ark are symbols representative of a life well-spent. The ark symbolizes the journey over the rough seas of life and the anchor as a symbol of immortality and a safe rest in eternal tranquility.
The “Coffin” containing the remains of a deceased friend and Brother reminds Masons that we are the custodians of a great heritage passed along to us in the story of the “Hiramic Legend”.
The central focus of all significant ceremonies and formal Degrees in the Scottish Rite is the altar. It must be prepared and arranged with meticulous care. For monthly meetings, the appropriate instructions of the Fourteenth Degree, the Eighteenth Degree, the Thirtieth Degree, or the Thirty-second Degree must be followed. Consult the individual Degrees in the rituals for exact details.
For Reunions, the altar is arranged according to the specific direction of each Degree in presentation. Refer to the printed rituals for relevant information.
The “Mosaic Pavement” is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple. The Mosaic Pavement is emblematical of human life checked with good and evil.
Black and white represent the mingling of good and evil in the world and in human nature. The white reminds us that good largely predominates in the world. The black is symbolic of the darkness which represents evil. It also represents the lack of the True Word and the continued presence in the world of darkness and death.
The square is a reminder to walk uprightly, and not turn aside into the inviting paths of error.
The Double-headed Eagle
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