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Evolving Symbols
Posted: 04 December 2016 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hello, an outsider here!

It is my understanding, when people join the Masons and/or a Lodge, they contribute their skills or knowledge to that Lodge.

When I felt inquisitive, I searched for Masonic Art.

My question: Do the symbols in Masons evolve? Do they change over time?

I see the same: columns,compass,rule,eyes, moon, sun, checkered floor, etc.

Are these “universal symbols/signs” that have “stood the test of time”?

Are Masons ever discouraged from drawing symbols and signs they don’t fully understand yet?

Do Masons ever get tired of seeing the same symbols over and over again, or do the symbols change meaning as you progress through your experience with Masonry?

I did not mean to be rude, thank you for your time.

As an artist at heart and to my understanding, a single symbol can have multiple meanings and change meaning depending on the Viewer’s experience(s). Painting/Photo/Images can have multiple layers and dimensions to them.

OR . . . is there “nothing new under the sun”?

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Posted: 04 December 2016 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Hello and thank you for your questions.

First off, Freemasonry is in one sense not universal as there are dozens of different jurisdictions, each with its own interpretation of some basic, central tenets and customs. So while there is great commonality, there can be some different symbols as one moves about.

Second, Masonry uses symbols and allegory to teach morality. Each time we see a symbol, we should remind ourselves of the lesson it is supposed to present. So, in that sense, no, I can’t see us getting ‘tired’ of them.

Third, usages and customs do occasionally change with time. Some symbols are no longer in common usage.

Fourth, Freemasonry and its lessons and philosophy are possessed of enormous depth. Not all Masons embrace this, but one who does can spend a lot of time digging and learning in the more esoteric areas. Those who wish to do so are supported by the organization.

Next, there are dozens of ‘concordant bodies’, organizations related to and derived from Freemasonry. Each uses its own range of symbols. 

Lastly, while our symbols have a ‘book’ meaning, each Mason is perfectly free to make up his own mind and interpret them as he wishes.

So, no simple, clearcut answer for you. I do hope however that it is a bit clearer for you now.

Oh, and yes, you are totally correct in stating that a given symbol can mean different things to different people or under different circumstances.

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Bro. Bob
Zetland Lodge No. 83
Calgary, AB

Initiated 1 March 1979
Passed 26 May 1979
Raised 18 October 1979

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Posted: 08 December 2016 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Let me throw in my two cents. If memory serves me right, some of the lodges in Germany use the Forget Me Not flower as a symbol of Freemasonry. This comes from as far back as WWII, when the Nazi Party declared Freemasonry illegal. German brothers could not openly wear the Square and Compass, so they began to use other symbols that were less recognizable to anyone outside the craft. So you are correct, symbols do evolve due to necessity of the times. There have been times in the past that Freemasonry was viewed with suspicion or worse, was illegal. In certain parts of the world, it still is.

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Forte est vinum fortior est rex fortiores sunt mulieres super omnia vincit veritas
(Wine is Strong, the King is Stronger, Women are Strongest: but Truth Conquers All)

Barry Goen
Boyleston Lodge 123 AFM
Balentine SC

Columbia Chapter No. 5
Royal Arch Masons
Columbia, SC

Union Council No. 5
Royal and Select Masters
Columbia, SC

Columbia Commandry No. 2
Knights Templars
Columbia, SC

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Posted: 18 March 2017 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Great question and great replies. Interesting!

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St. Matthews Lodge 906, Louisville,Kentucky.
Suburban Lodge 740, Louisville,Kentucky
AASR, Orient of Kentucky, Valley of Louisville
Knights of St. Andrew, Orient of Kentucky, Valley of Louisville
King Solomon Chapter # 5, Royal Arch Masons
Louisville Council # 4, Royal and Select Masters
Louisville-DeMolay Commandery #12, Knights Templar

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Posted: 24 March 2017 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Some symbols can mean different things depending on where / when / how it is used.

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St. Matthews Lodge 906, Louisville,Kentucky.
Suburban Lodge 740, Louisville,Kentucky
AASR, Orient of Kentucky, Valley of Louisville
Knights of St. Andrew, Orient of Kentucky, Valley of Louisville
King Solomon Chapter # 5, Royal Arch Masons
Louisville Council # 4, Royal and Select Masters
Louisville-DeMolay Commandery #12, Knights Templar

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Posted: 24 March 2017 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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It is important to add that there are symbols in Masonry that we have ascribed meaning to only within the context of Freemasonry.  I want to be very clear that other places, those same symbols could have entirely different meaning.  Many people seem to miss this logical point.

In other words….I would not recommend that you associate the use of a symbol by some other group as having the same meaning as it does to Masons.

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Senior Deacon, Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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