Masonic Symbolism: Common Blue Lodge Symbols
Freemasonry has a rich history dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. Originally established as a fraternity for stonemasons, its symbolism revolves heavily around common masonic tools. But like most historic symbolism, the meanings can be vastly more complex than the pictures would imply. Here, we will examine some of the common symbols of Blue Lodge masonry in order to uncover the intent behind the insignia you'll find on our mason rings.
The Compass and Square
The combined compass and square is one of the most common symbols seen in Freemasonry. In masonry, the compass is used for precise measurements that will, among other things, ensure a structure's stability over time. Symbolically speaking, the compass represents the personal and emotional stability that can be achieved by a precise measurement of one’s own self. We will find the importance of self-examination to be a common recurring theme in Freemasonry.
The compass is therefore an emblem of a Freemason's obligation to conduct himself in ways which will allow him to be a source of strength and light to others in order to promote personal growth as well as growth in the community. It illustrates a Freemason's duties to his Brothers, illustrating the necessity of self-examination in order to provide the support needed to encourage others along their path.
The square in Freemasonry is almost always seen together with the compass. Used to measure the correctness of right angles, the square is quite often used in conjunction with the compass in non-symbolic ways. However, the combination of these Masonic symbols aren't purely practical or coincidental. To understand its symbolic meaning, picture the square as the earth, which was thought to be flat once, and the compass as the overarching sky or heavens. By combining these two symbols, the concept of a unity between heaven and earth is created. In this concept, nature and religion blend together and form a teaching which implores men to seek the grander meaning of life while retaining their earthly awareness.
But this heaven-earth connection could be interpreted in another way. By taking into account the three degrees of Blue Lodge masonry, we could view the compass and square as an expression of the move upward through the degrees of Masonry in order to rise above a lesser earthly nature.
In either case, the compass in this context is designed to serve as the reminder for critical self-examination aimed to drive the followers of Freemasonry toward an honest and productive existence while the square represents a connection to the earth.
The compass and square are incorporated in the jewels of both the Senior Deacon and the Junior Deacon in Freemasonry. The Senior Deacon's symbol surrounds a sun, which signifies the position to the east, where the Master sits, while the Junior Deacon surrounds the moon, signifying a westward stance.
In architecture, a plumb is a small piece of suspended lead intended to check the alignment of a vertical surface. Plumbs have recorded uses that date back thousands of years, and although a plumb is a simple looking tool, the symbolic plumb has evolved into an embellished version of its original. The plumb's symbolic meaning is simple: It is an emblem of uprightness. Helping to build solid structures that will not crumble under pressure, the plumb's symbol serves as a reminder that strength and longevity are the result of careful intent. Just as the workman carefully observes the plumb line without deviation in order to erect a building, the Freemason builds his upright existence by observing the Mason principles. In doing so, he can face the storm without collapse, much like a well-built wall.
The plumb symbol is specifically assigned to the Junior Warden in office who represents the sun at lunchtime. Metaphorically speaking, the Junior Warden supervises the workers during recess and ensures that alcoholic beverages aren't consumed in excess. Although this assigned job is purely ceremonial in nature, it symbolizes the maintenance of upright behavior among Masons.
In working masonry, the trowel is used to spread cement among stones in order to hold these together. Community is strongly valued among Freemasons, and the importance of companionship and Brotherly love are repeatedly encouraged through its teachings. By viewing the trowel symbolically, we can easily see that the spread of community values that teach love and kindness are the cement which holds the Brotherly bond of all Masons together.
In this way, the trowel represents unity and trust. It is a tool used to form sacred and unbreakable bonds that are carefully measured and re-examined before becoming permanent. By continuing to build upon such values, the Lodge is able to erect a symbolic structure that is sturdy and noble, the Brotherhood. Much like any perfectly constructed wall or house, Freemasonry is intended to protect, help organize and be utilized for a greater good.
The trowel is reserved for the Master Mason because the decision to permanently affix one stone to another is left up to him after he has carefully examined the work of his laborers.
This basic overview, of course, does not examine all aspects of the three major Blue Lodge Symbols. Speculation and philosophy regarding the symbols used throughout Freemasonry range from the deeply profound to the truly bizarre. Here at LovieArt, we aim to provide you with an informative overview of the jewelry we sell. If you have any suggestions for our literature, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.