Nostalgia

The Fascinating And Ancient Meanings Of Masonic Symbols

Laura by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

When you think of secret societies cloaked in intrigue and mystery, it’s hard not to think of the Freemasons.

The origins of the Freemasons, also known simply as Masons, are shrouded in mystery, and some myths have the elusive brotherhood dating back to biblical times.

Historically, masonry, the art of carving stone for buildings and ornamentation, required rigorous training, and would have belonged to guilds.

Masons built the ornate churches in Europe during this time, and it’s possible this is where their link to the spiritual or supernatural comes from.

Of course, some people believe that the Masons are tapping into some otherworldly, maybe even sinister, power, and to get involved is to put yourself in danger, just like people believed in the deadly curse of the pharaoh when unearthing King Tut’s tomb.

The earliest Masonic lodges in the modern sense appeared in the 1700s, and since then, the organization has been shrouded in its trademark mystery, has sparked political and social debate, and has been accused of being behind some pretty astounding conspiracy theories.

So is this just an ordinary brotherhood, or something more?

The debate is still going on today, but one thing is for certain: the Masons have maintained their history quite well, including some mysterious symbols that hold hidden, special meanings to the members.

But they’re not all mysterious, and so we’re going to share some of these meanings with you!

The All-Seeing Eye

The All-Seeing Eye
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Found on the dollar bill in your wallet, the eye represents the divine, a higher power in any form a Masonic member chooses to perceive it.

It can be used by followers of any religion, and symbolizes how all people are watched over and protected.

The Skull And Bones

The Skull And Bones
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

This sinister symbol is most commonly associated with danger and death, and has a more philosophical meaning for Masons. For them, it’s a memento mori, or a reminder of death.

That sounds grim, but it’s really to remind not just of death, but to live a good, full life while you can.

The Letter G

The Letter G
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

While they come from all religions, Masons are all spiritually leaning, and in English-speaking lodges, the G stands for God or “Great Architect,” the Masonic nickname for a higher power.

This symbol is less common outside English-speaking countries.

The Compass And Square

The Compass And Square
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

A compass and a square are the traditional tools of masons, carpenters, and architects, and anyone who builds and creates.

They also show the Masons’ deep appreciation for arts, sciences, and math, especially geometry.

Traditionally, circles (made by a compass) represent the heavens and the divine, while squares represent the human realm.

The Handshake

The Handshake
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

While not a symbol you can put on paper, Masons throughout history have communicated through special handshakes.

The placement of the thumb on certain knuckles represents certain greetings and ideas. These handshakes were used especially during times when Masons were persecuted.

The Anchor

The Anchor
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Anchors symbolize being grounded and having hope, even during tumultuous times, just like an anchored ship.

The anchor as hope also appears in Christian symbolism. The Masons are a nondenominational organization, but nonetheless have spiritual foundations.

The Gavel

The Gavel
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Historically, a mason’s gavel would have been used to chip and carve stones into building blocks.

It’s a symbol of authority, as only a master mason would carry one.

It also symbolizes “chipping away” at the less refined parts of the self to reach potential.

The Ashlar

The Ashlar
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

And ashlar is a stone that’s been cut to a near-perfect square, used in masonry to build strong walls and buildings.

The symbolic ashlar is unfinished, and represents the continual growth process that all people go through during life, and that one’s personal development is never complete, and that there’s always potential.

The 47th Problem Of Euclid

The 47th Problem Of Euclid
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Geometry and mathematics are important in construction, and Euclid is a central figure in Masonic lore.

This symbol, which often gets tied to Egyptian mythology, symbolizes the importance of art, math, and education.

The Columns

The Columns
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

These columns were said to stand at the entrance to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, and Masonic lore ties the origins of the Freemasons to the building of that temple.

The column of Jachin (J) symbolizes the establishment of the temple, and the column of Boaz (B) symbolizes strength. You can also find these columns in tarot decks.

Now that you know some of the Masons’ secrets, you might start looking for the hidden meanings in other everyday items.

Did your world just get a little spookier? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to SHARE these mysteries with your friends!