Masonic Pillars: Symbolism, History, and Significance
The world of Freemasonry is rich in symbolism and ancient wisdom, with its roots dating back to the medieval stonemasons and extending even further into the mysteries of ancient civilizations. Among the many symbols found within the craft, the Masonic Pillars hold a special place due to their historical, spiritual, and architectural significance. These twin pillars, known as Boaz and Jachin, can be found in every Masonic Lodge and have a deep connection to the biblical story of King Solomon’s Temple.
This blog post aims to explore the fascinating world of Masonic Pillars, delving into their origins, design, symbolism, and the role they play within Freemasonry.
The Twin Pillars: Boaz and Jachin
Origins and Significance
The origins of the Masonic Pillars can be traced back to the biblical account of King Solomon’s Temple, an ancient Hebrew temple in Jerusalem. According to the Hebrew Bible, the temple was constructed with two prominent bronze pillars named Boaz and Jachin, which stood at the entrance of the temple’s portico.
Within Freemasonry, these two pillars hold great symbolic importance. They represent the strong foundations upon which the Masonic tradition is built, symbolizing stability and wisdom. The pillars are also believed to embody the balance between opposite forces, such as light and darkness or strength and beauty.
The names of the two pillars, Boaz and Jachin, hold significant meaning in the Hebrew language. Boaz, the pillar on the left, means “strength” or “in him is strength,” while Jachin, the pillar on the right, translates to “he will establish” or “God will establish.” These meanings further emphasize the pillars’ symbolic significance in Freemasonry, representing the strong foundation and divine support that underpins the organization.
Masonic Lodge and Rituals
The Masonic Pillars play a crucial role in the architecture and layout of the Masonic Lodge. In most lodges, the pillars are prominently displayed in the east, symbolizing the entrance to the spiritual temple. They serve as constant reminders of the ancient origins and spiritual connections of the organization.
In addition to their physical presence in the lodge, the twin pillars feature prominently in various Masonic rituals, particularly during the initiation of new members. The pillars are often symbolically represented in these rituals, highlighting the need for balance and strength in the face of adversity. The candidates are taught to emulate the qualities of these pillars as they progress through the degrees of Freemasonry.
Masonic art frequently features the twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin, illustrating their importance within the organization. The artistic representations often depict the pillars with additional symbols, such as the sun and moon or various celestial bodies. These images further emphasize the pillars’ connections to divine light, illumination, and the cosmos, while also serving as powerful visual reminders of the rich history and symbolism inherent in Freemasonry.
Design and Construction
Dimensions and Materials
The original pillars of Boaz and Jachin in King Solomon’s Temple were made of bronze and adorned with intricate designs. The biblical account provides specific details about the dimensions and materials of these pillars.
According to the Hebrew Bible, each pillar was 18 cubits high (approximately 27 feet or 8.2 meters) and had a circumference of 12 cubits (approximately 18 feet or 5.5 meters). The pillars were hollow, with a wall thickness of 4 fingers (approximately 3 inches or 7.6 centimeters).
Hiram Abiff, a master craftsman from Tyre, is credited with the construction of the pillars in King Solomon’s Temple. He was known for his exceptional skill in working with metals, and his craftsmanship is evident in the intricate details of the twin pillars.
Adornments and Capitals
The original pillars in Solomon’s Temple were adorned with ornate decorations. The capitals, or chapters, atop each pillar were 5 cubits high (approximately 7.5 feet or 2.3 meters) and featured intricate carvings of pomegranates and other decorative elements. In total, there were 200 pomegranates in two rows encircling each chapter.
The top of the pillars also included symbolic representations, such as the sun and moon, emphasizing their connection to celestial bodies and divine light. The artistic depictions of these symbols further enhanced the sacred and mystical nature of the pillars within Freemasonry.
Masonic Pillars Images
Masonic art and illustrations often feature the twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin, paying homage to their significance in the organization’s history and symbolism. These images typically include additional symbols, such as celestial bodies, and may incorporate variations in design based on artistic interpretation or regional differences in Masonic tradition.
Various online resources offer royalty-free stock photos and images of Masonic Pillars, allowing for their use in educational materials, presentations, or artwork without the need for licensing fees. These images can provide valuable visual aids for those seeking to better understand the significance and symbolism of the twin pillars within Freemasonry.
Symbolism and Interpretations
Egyptian and Ancient Civilizations
The Masonic Pillars share connections with Egyptian and other ancient civilizations in terms of symbolism and architectural design. The concept of twin pillars acting as a gateway to sacred space is prevalent in various ancient cultures, including Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Greek architecture.
Similarities between the Masonic Pillars and ancient cultures include the use of twin columns or pillars to represent stability, strength, and divine support. The association of these pillars with celestial bodies, such as the sun and moon, is also a common theme across multiple civilizations.
Celestial and Divine Symbolism
The Masonic Pillars are often associated with celestial representations, particularly the sun and moon. These celestial symbols are believed to represent the dual nature of the divine, embodying both the masculine and feminine aspects of the deity.
The connection to celestial bodies signifies the pillars’ representation of divine light and illumination. Freemasons view the pillars as conduits for spiritual wisdom and knowledge, reflecting their pursuit of personal growth and enlightenment.
The Masonic Pillars have also been associated with various other emblematic meanings throughout history. One such interpretation links them to the Pillars of Hercules, a mythological gateway marking the edge of the known world in ancient times. This connection further emphasizes the pillars’ role as symbolic gateways to knowledge and the unknown.
The twin pillars hold both temporal and spiritual symbolism within Freemasonry. Their physical presence in the Masonic Lodge represents the material world, while their spiritual significance lies in the divine wisdom and guidance they symbolize. The balance between these two aspects is a cornerstone of Freemason’s philosophy and teaching.
The Three Pillars of Freemasonry
The three pillars of Freemasonry are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. These three pillars are metaphorical and represent the values that Masons strive to uphold. Wisdom represents knowledge, learning, and understanding. It is gained through study and experience. Strength represents willpower, determination, and character. It is the strength of will
Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty
In addition to the twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin, Freemasonry recognizes three principal pillars, representing Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. These pillars are said to support the Masonic Lodge, both symbolically and philosophically.
Each of the three pillars represents a core value within Freemasonry:
- Wisdom symbolizes the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, emphasizing the importance of learning and intellectual growth for a Freemason.
- Strength signifies the resilience and fortitude necessary to face life’s challenges and uphold the principles of the craft.
- Beauty reflects the harmony and balance that Freemasons strive for in their lives, as well as the importance of art, creativity, and aesthetics in enriching the human experience.
Master Mason and the Pillar of Cloud
The Pillar of Cloud is another symbolic element within Freemasonry, particularly in the context of the Master Mason degree. This pillar represents divine guidance and protection, alluding to the biblical story of the Israelites being led by a pillar of cloud during their exodus from Egypt.
The connection between the Pillar of Cloud and the biblical story of the Israelites highlights the Masonic tradition’s deep roots in ancient wisdom and spirituality. By incorporating these symbolic elements into their rituals and teachings, Freemasons emphasize the importance of faith, divine guidance, and the pursuit of personal growth and enlightenment.
In summary, the Masonic Pillars play a crucial role in the history, symbolism, and rituals of Freemasonry. The twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin, rooted in the ancient story of King Solomon’s Temple, represent strength, stability, and divine support. The three principal pillars of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty further embody the core values that Freemasons strive to uphold in their lives.
The connections to Egyptian and other ancient civilizations, celestial and divine symbolism, and emblematic interpretations, such as the Pillars of Hercules, enrich the Masonic tradition and emphasize its deep-rooted history. The Pillar of Cloud, as part of the Master Mason degree, highlights the importance of faith and divine guidance within the craft.
Overall, the Masonic Pillars serve as powerful reminders of the rich history, symbolism, and significance of Freemasonry. They remind the members of the organization to seek wisdom, strength, and beauty in their lives while staying true to the ancient teachings and principles that underpin the craft.