The Cryptic Globes

By Bro. Sean D. Litsky

This paper looks at the esoteric meaning behind our Fraternity’s globes. Despite what we often hear, our globes do not serve a superfluous purpose; rather, they have the ability to teach us very special lessons other than those explicitly given in our Ritual. To start, we must consider the possibility that the globes placed in the ritual, by our Brethren, represent a conglomeration of the bronze, chains, network, lily, and pomegranates found on each pillar, not something separate from the chapiters. In addition, the symbols associated with our globes include spheres, and the numbers two, five, seven, and two-hundred. Some of these symbols appear directly in our ritual, but others do not. The missing symbols belong exclusively to the scripture associated with the portion of our Ritual containing the globes; namely I Kings 7 and II Chronicles 4.

From our Ritual: “They (the pillars) were surmounted by chapiters, five cubits each…These chapiters were adorned with network, lily-work, and pomegranates…They were surmounted by pommels or balls, now used to designate globes.” Our ritual goes on to outline the practical uses of Celestial and Terrestrial globes.

From I Kings 7: “He made two capitals, cast in bronze… the height of each of the two capitals being five cubits; also nets of meshwork with festoons of chain work…seven for each of the two capitals…there were two rows of pomegranates encircling the top of the one network…and he did the same for the second capital. The capitals…were of lily design four cubits high…there were two hundred pomegranates in a row around the top of the second capital.” From II Chronicles 4: “Huram completed the work…the two columns, the globes…and the two pieces of network to cover the two globes.” [The 1985 New JPS English translation of the Masoretic text gives this word as globes. The 1917 JPS translation gives bowls. The word uVLG (gullat), as shown in the Strong’s Lexicon/Concordance (#1543), suggests a word indicating the general condition of being round or ‘a rounded object’, hence, it could incorporate either bowls or globes and relate to such interesting words as gilgal and even Golgotha from the NT.]

We consistently hear that the scripture gives no mention of globes despite the previous quotation from II Chronicles 4. I believe that the inclusion of globes in this particular portion of our Ritual could possibly, intentionally, allow the true, esoteric meaning and symbolism of the scriptural capitals to remain hidden from the unprepared. They may exist to put the uninitiated down the wrong path, but also to confirm certain meanings attained when the initiated studies the individual aspects of the capitals in conjunction with one another.

Next, we must identify the symbolism and significance of each of these items individually, then together. Finally, we must come to a new realization of the teachings that the globes atop our pillars provide in this context.

The Individual Symbolism of the Aforementioned Items:

(Note: The following entries all come from Penguin’s Dictionary of Symbols and the supplied parenthetical documentation simply denotes the pages used from that publication.)

Bronze: A product of Copper and therefore the child of a marriage of opposites due to Copper’s association with the sun (fire) and moon (water). This metal also symbolizes immortality (124-125). This symbol does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual.

 Chains: This symbol may represent the bonding of Heaven and Earth or any two extremes/beings. A pertinent example of this, binding the spirit to the psyche, demonstrates the importance of this symbol to our purposes (175-177). This symbol does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual.

 Nets: This divine instrument can gather mankind and bring him to Heaven. The net may represent the sky and the stars may represent knots in the invisible meshes. Man can also capture God with the net. Our “G” lecture speaks about this possibility by directing us to His most intricate workings. Some have claimed that this symbol represents all the human capacity and potentiality to entrap the Spiritual power (699-700).

 Lilies: This flower can represent purity, innocence, and virginity. In addition, lilies may allude to procreation. They symbolize the potential for an individual to realize the antithesis to his being and demonstrate why one must surrender to the will of God or provide reason for one to acknowledge a mystical surrender to God’s grace (608-609).

 Pomegranates: A symbol of fertility and of the vulva. Its roundness alludes to the eternity of the Supreme Being of the Universe and of Devine Perfection. They may represent God’s highest mystery and in the context of a fertility symbol, can draw souls down into the flesh. Priests of old wore pomegranates although they forbade initiates to do the same (766-767). This shows that only those prepared to keep their values from abuse may handle manifestations of a Divine nature.

 Sphere: This demonstrates the Creator bestowing Himself and perfection on the material plane of existence. The sphere also may represent the primal hermaphrodite (Hermes + Aphrodite), which provides the aspect and lessons of duality (901-903). The word sphere does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual; however the Ritual alludes to it through the use of globes.

 Two: This number can denote balance achieved. Some of the more interesting dualities associated with the number two (not previously mentioned) include creative evolution or fatal involution and day & night. The Dictionary of Symbols associates the developmental stages: struggle, movement, & progress with the number two. Two enhances the symbolic properties of representative images two-fold whilst splitting into two parts weakens just the same (1050-1052). This symbol does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual.

 Five: The basic number of secret societies, five permeates the second degree of Freemasonry, in which the globes appear. It symbolizes the Universe and the Will of God through the human bodily structure. Five teaches us about the phenomenal world as perceived through the human bodily senses in order to use them in the manner of tools grasping the non-material world. This number may represent the harmony, balance, and marriage of the principles of Heaven & Earth and even in China, the number five’s symbolism includes Heaven and Earth or Yin and Yang. The Hindu religion combines the two, or female, and the three, or male; while in Mexico it symbolizes rebirth and resurrection (385-390).

 Seven: This number can represent the fullness/completeness of the moral and spiritual order including of the universe in motion. Seven may provide for the essence of matter and life and a fresh start after a cycle and positive regeneration. The combination of Faith, Hope, & Charity and the four cardinal virtues provides a legitimate idea to ponder when attempting to gain the true importance and implications of this number. It may represent the essence of matter via vibration and passing from the known to the unknown. It can also represent human wholeness including both male and female (859-866). This symbol does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual.

 Two-Hundred: Firstly, the multiples of hundred strengthen the characteristics of the multiplier, so the total number’s importance greatly depends on that to which the number attaches itself. One-hundred, in its own right, symbolizes the individualization of one part amongst the whole. “A microcosm within the macrocosm.” (531). This symbol does not appear in this portion of the Arizona Masonic Ritual.

The Greater Concepts Associated with the Aforementioned Symbols:

Duality/Harmony/Balance: The symbols of bronze, chains, the sphere, the number two, and the number five help us see the duality or the harmonious combination of opposite forces and allow us to consider existence in a balanced way that accounts for what typically deters us from the truth. Even the number one-hundred helps in this context since it may show the importance of an individual aspect part within a whole. Many typically read in black and white, and do not allow for the grey. But, when considering these symbols, we can see that not everything presents itself so clearly. We must consider individual and, more importantly, opposing forces in order to contemplate the whole that deserves our attention. It may not include anything previously considered or desired, but certainly does demand accounting for if we wish to uncover the truth of our existence.

 Regeneration: The symbols lilies, pomegranates, five, and seven help us see that, despite all we know on this material plane that ends with death, an existence which we cannot, at this moment, conceive of, may await us. We currently stand apprentices to what our true destiny entails. Depending on how we act and what we learn in this life, when our earthly form gives way, we may have the tools to move forward in the greater cosmic structure.

 Immortality: The symbol bronze stands alone in this concept. I thought of combining immortality with regeneration, but since bronze does not appear in the entry created for regeneration, and none of the symbols relating to regeneration mention immortality, I felt the need to create this separate entry. Immortality, most likely, does not mean walking this Earth in this life or form for the remainder of existence. Instead, immortality may refer to an existence or form of which we have no true ability to conceive of or grasp with our given senses.

 Heaven’s Manifestation on Earth: The symbols chains, nets, pomegranates, spheres, and five help us see that ascending to another plane of existence through death only constitutes one possibility for communion with divine energy or light. It may also happen on Earth in our current form. Through meditation, for example, humans can shed the material concerns of this planet without physically leaving its plane. In fact, the number five may explain the true need of our senses. Without them, we may not participate in the exercises of prayer or meditation. When done appropriately, enhancing the senses through items like sage or music, can supplement our mental power. This shows the importance of our senses to our spiritual growth and possible conscious communion with Divinity.

 Divinity: A majority of the symbols in this paper reference some form or aspect of Divinity. Despite the different religions we practice outside of the Fraternity, we all submit to the notion that a Supreme Being exists. Not simply an understanding among gentlemen, a candidate must acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being before receiving the privileges of our Order. This demonstrates that the G.A.O.T.U. holds an important place in our work and we can conclude that many of the symbols used in said work pertain to that entity. This brings forth the possibility that our globes encompass all the Divine symbols of the chapiters and the Divinity itself.

The Importance of this Knowledge/How We May Apply the Preceding Text:

 If you notice the words duality, harmony, balance, regeneration, immortality, manifestation, & divinity total seven. Earlier, I stated that, “This number (7) can represent the fullness/completeness of the moral and spiritual order.” This shows that the greater concepts presented in this paper could form a system, by which, we may come closer to the G.A.O.T.U. One symbol, the number two, mentions the developmental stages of “struggle, movement, & progress.” If we keep in mind that the struggle, movement, and progress contained within the teachings of our globes alludes to much more than the material phenomenon and related tools like navigation given in our Ritual, we might just progress to frontiers only previously imagined. The Cryptic Globes of the Masonic Fraternity can provide us with contemplative tools and, in turn, the possibility of ascension in the cosmic order.

 

 

Bibliography

Chevalier, Jean & Alain Gheerbrant. John Buchanan-Brown (trans.). Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin Books. London, England. 1996.

Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures. The Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia. 1917.

Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures. The Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia. 1985.

 

The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville.

 

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