I took a picture of an embossed brass sheet containing Masonic symbols. Unfortunately the picture turned out fairly fuzzy. But that makes for a game…name the Masonic symbol. At the top row are what appears to be handshakes or hands making signs towards each other. The second row is a skull shape and something like a chain. On the third row are easily recognizable Masonic symbols such as the famous compass and angle. There is also a shield or anchor of some sort. There are other symbols like a crown, the Egyptian Ankh, some guys shaking hands and so forth. I believe this sheet was made in the 1920s. Some of these symbols are obscure and I can’t quite make them out. Call them out!
Masonic fraternities used Masonic tokens or “pennies” as a keepsake. They contain information specific to the lodge, such as its location and the date it was chartered. They also contain Masonic imagery and symbols. Let’s look at a few Masonic tokens and examine their symbolism.
Above is a token for a Newport, VT lodge. It celebrates its centennial from 1865 to 1965. One side shows a lighthouse with the phase “Let there be light”. Obviously this means their mission is to bring light, or enlightenment, to the world.
The other side of the coin has an interesting image. It shows twin pillars with globes on their top with a book containing a Masonic symbol in-between them. The pillars symbolize the two “pillars of the porch” outside the entrance to Solomon’s temple. One pillar was named Jachin the other was named Boaz. On one pillar is a globe of the earth and on the other a celestial globe.
It is interesting that this imagery also appears in the tarot card The High Priestess. Notice the two pillars are even labeled B (Boaz) and J (Jachin). They are dark and light, symbolizing night and day, moon and sun, the duality of existence. In the card, between the pillars and holding the Torah, sits a high priestess offering enlightenment.
The token’s book of wisdom is also between the two pillars. It offers knowledge and enlightenment as well. The symbolism of the coin, front and back, reinforce each other. It is a well done coin, and quite beautiful.
Here is a Masonic token for the Chicago Lincoln Park Chapter stating it was chartered on October 28, 1876. That is a long time ago. Does it still exist? I went to the Illinois Grand Royal Arch Chapter website http://www.ram-il.org/index.htm and discovered this chapter is still around today. The image of Lincoln is a reference to the fact that this lodge is in Illinois, the land of Lincoln, as well as being in Lincoln Park.
The other side of the coin is a common Masonic keystone symbol with the letters HTWSSTKS. These letters represent Hiram, Tyrian, Widow’s Son, Sendeth to King Solomon. If you wants to check out more Masonic tokens, check their site. It has many images of great coins. Chapter Pennies & Mark Tokens
On the token for Toledo WA is the most recognizable Masonic symbol, the compass and square with the letter G within. What’s interesting is the meaning of G is open to interperation. The square and compass refer to the craft of stone masonry (or mastery over the physical world), and the G represents the spiritual qualities that lie within, at the center of the craft or life in general. Since Masonry is non-denominational, G could represent God, or Grand Design, or Geometry.
I see G as a combination of all these, with God as the Grand Architect. The lack of a strict definition of G’s meaning is itself symbolic. That G is open to our own personal definition might suggest the real symbolism behind G. G could be our free will and the right of every person choose what to believe.
I was checking out an old non-denominational cemetery looking for unusual gravestones and symbols on tombstones. Always of interest are the Masonic symbols. This cemetery has numerous headstones etched with them. One symbol might take a bystander aback, like the gravestone pictured above. Some stones have pentagrams!
Pentagrams are widely recognized as occult, Wiccan or pagan symbols. When the upper point is aimed upward, it is considered positive. If it is used as a symbol of diabolic intent, then the point is aimed downwards. On some stones are these downward pointed pentagrams. To the casual observer, there would appear to be satanic symbols in the cemetery.
However, all is not as it might first appear. Around this pentagram are the letters OES. This stands for the Order of the Eastern Star. It is a Masonic fraternal organization where both men and woman may join. This is apparent in the tombstone pictured above, where both spouses have their own symbol. The husband has the traditional Masonic symbol of the compass and level. The wife has the pentagram with the letters O E S in the rays of the pentagram. Unlike the diabolic inverse pentagram, this pentagram symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, the “star in the east” which appeared at the birth of Christ. Here the ray points down towards the birth site of the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Another intriguing tombstone (pictured below) has the same Masonic symbols representing the husband and wife. But underneath is a rare sight. It is a plaque stating “IN HOC SIGNO VINCES”. The meaning is “with your standard you shall have victory”. It shows a cross tilted in a crown. This symbol is associated with the Knights Templar Freemason organization. This organization differed from most other Masonic associations in that they required belief in Christianity and not just a Supreme Being.
Images of pentagrams and Knights Templar conspiracy theories give some religious folk reason to scorn Masons. I think this comes from a misunderstanding of what they are all about. Or more likely, some religion people don’t want any competition from any fraternal organization that is non-denominational. Such institutions might encourage people to think for themselves and we can’t have that happening, can we?
On the back of the one-dollar bill is a symbol that has intrigued people’s imaginations. It is the image of the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States, the famous pyramid with an eye above it. It is such an odd looking symbol, I am not surprised it has created speculation. Recently the symbol was used to promote the National Treasure movies and Dan Brown’s new book will be about similar topics.
Many people assume the image of the unfinished pyramid with the eye above is an occult symbol and is associated with secret organizations and the Masons in particular. As an example of what some see in this symbol, here is an image of the dollar’s National Seal where the points of the pyramid, when developed into a hexagon, aim at certain letters which create an anagram for the word MASON. That is an intriguing coincidence.
However, in reality there is nothing very mysterious about the National Seal. Its symbolism has been known from the beginning. The pyramid consists of thirteen layers, representing the original thirteen states. The pyramid is unfinished, which symbolizes the United States as an unfinished work-in-progress. The All-Seeing Eye above represents the Eye of Providence; suggesting God is watching over our nation and perhaps had a Hand in its continuing evolution.
If the All-Seeing Eye represents God, it does not represent any one belief or religion, but a vague theism. Most of the founding fathers were not religious dogmatists but viewed religion as having an equal place along side reason and enlightenment. Religion did not hold a special position above reason. This also fit in with the general viewpoint of the Masons. Individuals who held intolerant religious views often looked at the Masons as a threat to their beliefs. Those with dogmatic religious beliefs might see the idea of freethinking as dangerous. This seems to be the only occult significance of the All-Seeing Eye, that is can represent any deity we wish.
I have acquired a few curious items called Masonic pennies. They were given to lodge members and symbolize a faithful days’ wages. To become a Mason, they had to have a belief in a non-denominational Supreme Being. This embraced nearly any individual belief, not a real barrier to acceptance. However, the Church mistrusted this open mindedness. Can any church allow its member be exposed to different ideas then their official church doctrine?
Common Masonic symbols include the Masonic Square and Compasses, often found with the letter G. These are often seen on the Masonic Penny. The letters A.R.C. are Royal Arch Chapter. The Chapter and the date it was chartered are usually displayed. Often shown is a keystone with the letters HTWSSTKS which mean Hiram, Tyrian, Widow’s Son, Sendeth To King Solomon. When this appeared on a gravestone, it meant someone had completed his or her degrees to become a Royal Arch Mason. On this coin below is a backwards swastika. This must be an old token from before World War Two. Before the war the swastika was a symbol of good. Afterwards it’s symbolizm was forever changed.
In the past a Masonic chapter penny was a personally prized possession, and could be used as collateral for borrowing money. When the debt was repaid, the valued coin was returned. In history a penny had metaphysical significance. Pennies were placed on the eyes of the dead, or in the mouth of the dead to pay the ferryman on his journey of the dead through the River Styx.
This last Masonic penny at the bottom puzzled me. I don’t understand the geometric symbols presented. I wonder what they mean. Greek alphabet? I don’t know. Can anybody solve this?