Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Circle

The circle is the symbol of the psyche (even Plato described the psyche as a sphere). The square (and often the rectangle) is a symbol of earthbound matter, of the body and reality(Zoroastrian Belief).

-Carl Jung "Man and His Symbols"-

Circle. The circle being the figure which returns into itself,(incest)and having therefore neither beginning nor end, it has been adopted in the symbology of all countries and times as symbol sometimes of the universe and sometimes of eternity. With this idea in the Zoroasteric mysteries of Persia, and frequently in the Celtic mysteries of Druidism, the temple of initiation was circular. In the obsolete lectures of the old English system, it was said that "the circle has ever been considered symbolical of the Deity; for as a circle appears to have neither beginning nor end, it may be justly considered a type of God, without either beginning of days or ending of years. It also reminds us of a future state,(hermaphrodite) where we hope to enjoy everlasting happiness and joy." But whatever especially the Masonic symbolism of the circle will be more appropriately contained in the article on the Point within a Circle.

Point within a Circle. This is a symbol of great interest and importance, and brings us into close connection with the early symbolism of the solar orb and the universe, which was predominant in the ancient sun-worship. The lectures of Freemasonry give what modern Monitors have made an exoteric explanation of the symbol, in telling us that the point represents an individual brother, the circle the boundary line of his duty to God and man, and the two perpendicular parallel lines the patron saints of the Order - St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

But that this was not always its symbolic signification, we ,ay collect from the true history of its connection with the phallus of the Ancient Mysteries. The phallus, as I have already shown under the word, was among the Egyptians the symbol of fecundity, expressed by the male generative principle. It was communicated from the rites of Osiris to the religious festivals of Greece. Among the Asiatics the same emblem, under the name of lingam, was, in connection with the female principle, worshiped as a symbols of the Great Father and Mother, or producing causes of the human race, after their destruction by the deluge. On this subject, Captain Wilford (Asiatic.Res.,) remarks "that it was believed in India, that, at the general deluge, everything was involved in the common destruction except the male and female principles, or organs of generation which were destined to produce a new race, and to repeople the earth when the waters had subsided from its surface. The female principle, symbolized by the moon, assumed the form of a lunette or crescent; while the male principle, symbolized by the sun, assuming the form of the lingam, placed himself erect in the centre of the lunette, like the mast of a ship. The two principles, in this united form, floated on the surface of the waters during the period of their prevalence on the earth; and thus became the progenitors of a new race of men." Here, then, was the first outline of the point within a circle, representing the principle of fecundity, and doubtless of the symbols connected with a diferent history, that, namely, of Osirus, was transmitted by the Indian philosophers to Egypt, and to the other nations, who derived, as I have elsewhere shown, all their rites from the East.

In India, stonecircles, or rather their ruins, are everywhere found; among the oldest of which, according to Moore, (Panth.242,) is thst of Dipaldiana, and whose execution will compete with that of the Greeks. In the oldest monuments of the Druids we find, as at Stonehenge and Abury, the circle of stones. In fact, all the temples of the Druids were circular, with a single stone erected in the centre. A Druidical monument in Pembrokeshire, called Y Cromlech, is described as consisting of several rude stones pitched on end in a circular order, and in the midst of the circle vast syone [laced on several pillars. Near Keswick, in Cubmerland, says Oliver, (Signs and Symbols, 174,) is another specimen of this Druidical symbol. On a hill stands acircle of forty stones placed perpendiculary, of about five feet and a half in height, and one stone is the centre of greatest altitude.

Among the Scandinavians, the hall of Odin contained twelve seats, disposed in the form of a circle, for the principle gods with an elevated seat in the center for Odin. Scandinavian monuments of this form are still found in Scania, Zealand, and Jutland.

But it is useless to mulitiply examples of the prevalence of this symbol among the ancients. And now let us apply this knowledge to Masonic symbol.

We have seen that the phallus and the point wiithin the circle come from the same source, and must have been identical in signification. But the phallus was the symbol of fecundity, or the male generative principle, which by the ancients was supposed to be the sun, (they looking to the creature and not the Creator,) because by the sun's heat and light the earth is made prolific, and its productions are brought to maturity. The point within the circle was then originally the symbol of the sun; and as the lingam of India stood in the centre of the lunette, so as it stands within the centre of the Universe, typified by the circle, impregnating and vivifying it with heat. And thus the astronomers have been led to adopt the same figure as their symbol of the sun.

Now it is admitted that the Lodge represents the world or the universe, and the Master and Wardens within it represent the sun in three postions. Thus we arrive at the true interpretation of the Masonic symbolism of the point within the circle. It is the same thing, but under a different form, as the Master and Wardens of a Lodge. The Master and Wardens are symbols of the sun, the Lodge of the universe, or world, just as the point is the symbol of the same sun, and the surrounding circle of the universe.

Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1894