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 Masonic Trivia

Masonic Symbolism: The Square and Compasses

Many feel that the interlaced Square and Compasses are ``the symbol of Freemasonry." This has been recognized as the Masonic emblem from at least the beginning of the 18th century. The United States patent Office took note of this in 1873. It told a flour manufacturer and the world: ``This device, so commonly worn and employed by Masons, has an established mystic significance, universally recognized as existing, whether comprehended by all or not, is not material to this issue. In view of the magnitude of the Masonic organization, it is impossible to divest its symbols, or at least this particular symbol—perhaps the best known of all—of its ordinary significance, wherever displayed." The manufacturer was denied the use of the Square and Compasses as a trademark.

It was about this time that some unknown ``inventor" added a letter ``G" in the center of the Square and Compasses. To many American Masons the emblem is not complete without this letter. This is not so in other countries, however. In other languages, God does not start with the letter ``G", neither does Geometry.

This is but one of dozens of symbols that Freemasonry employs to imprint on the mind ``wise and serious truths."

 

AN ANCIENT DOCUMENT

In tracing the genealogy of Freemasonry we eventually arrive at the date 1390 A.D., when the Regius manuscript, the oldest known and most important version of the Old Charges, is supposed to have been written. Traditions lead back to the creation of the world, and include most of the great teachers of mankind as Masons; but to those who insist upon applying the approved methods of historical research to the study of Freemasonry, the Regius Manuscript affords a starting point in cumulative documentary evidence relative to the direct ancestry of the fraternity. The Regius Manuscript, as it is known, is a poem written on sixty-four pages of vellum, handsomely bound. It was presented to the British museum by King George II, in 1757. It was at first catalogued as a poem of Moral Duties, and this may have caused its tardy discovery in 1839 as a Masonic document.

AN EARLY SPECULATIVE MASON

The earliest record of a "speculative Mason" being admitted to a lodge is the record of the Lodge of Edinburgh, June 8, 1600, when John Boswell, the Laird of Auchenleck, attested his presence with his mark.

AN OLD LANDMARK

One of the most prominent of Masonic historical landmarks is contained in the diary of Elias Ashmole, the celebrated antiquary and founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, when he wrote: "1646, October 16, 4:30 p.m. I was made a Freemason at Warrington, in Lancashire, with Col. Henry Mainwaring," etc. Brother N. Rylands has conducted an exhaustive research into the records of the lodge into which Elias Ashmole was initiated, with the result of finding that there was probably not a single member of the lodge at that time an operative.

THE 1723 CONSTITUTION

In 1723 Brother James Anderson's Constitutions of the Freemasons appeared. It was purported to have been compiled from old Manuscripts and Records, many of which have doubtless been lost. Brother R.F. Gould calls attention to "three striking innovations" in the 1723 Constitutions, to-wit: "It discards Christianity as the (only) religion of masonry, forbids the working of the Master's part in private lodges, and arbitrarily imposes on the English craft the use of two compound words, Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft, which had no previous existence in its terminology." Brother Gould believed that at the formation of the grand lodge in 1717 it inherited from the time immemorial Masons only two degrees, and that the fellow Craft and  Master Mason were one.

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Austin Lodge #12 A. F. & A. M.                                          

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Updated 7/29/98

This site created November 3, 1997.