In 1888 the United Ancient Order of Druids (U.A.O.D.), a fraternal order, erected a monument in the Forest Home Cemetery outside Chicago. This cemetery, in the past know as German Waldheim Cemetery, was one of the few non-denominational cemeteries in the Chicago area, attracting an eclectic mix of graves sites, including masons, gypsies, radicals and atheists. I revisited the UAOD monument for a closer look, wanting to examine the symbolism of the monument.
The picture above was taken from a rear view; all photos I have seen of this monument are from the face view of the druid at the top of the pillar. You can see the concentric rings in the form of stone logs surrounding the monument. Within the rings are gravestones, which I assume were members or family of members of the fraternity. Several stones around the monument have Masonic symbols on it, as pictured below.
There is an image on the pillar (pictured left), of an eye in an upside down triangle, sort of the reverse of the image of the great seal on our dollar bill, the All Seeing Eye. Looking at the details of the druid atop the pillar, I’m not sure what the symbolism stands for. The druid has a sickle over his right shoulder, and holds a staff with the head of a cherub at the tip. He stands with a foot on four stacked stones. The druid’s expression is curious…sort of melancholy. Perhaps the druid, in empathy, is expressing the emotions of those who will visit their departed loved ones here.
Looking at the dates of the gravestones circling the druid, nobody has been interred here for a long time. This curious monument is a part of a history long past, an organization that may have in time become forgotten, except for this monument as a reminder. A dramatic monument is a good way to keep their history alive when all their members are gone. After all, I am writing about this in 2010, 122 years after it was erected.
I took many pictures of the monument with the hope a few would turn out well. It was an intensely hot and sunny day. In one photo below, I captured an orb. It is a photo of the statue from the shaded side, and at first I did not notice it. But then it caught my eye. Orbs are almost always captured as the result of a camera’s flash reflecting off of dust or raindrops. In the sunlight a flash was not happening. Daylight orbs are pretty rare. For sure it could just be an optical affect. Yet we have bright purple orb in the shadow of the druid. The romantic in me likes to imagine there is still a spiritual energy around this wonderful monument, and I caught a glimpse of it.