Masonic Symbolism:
The Great Seal of America

Discover
the
hidden
message
in the
mottoes

 

Efforts have been made to deny the Masonic connection to the Great Seal but they are not at all convincing. The 33rd degree Mason, Manley Palmer Hall, explains its significance:

"Not only were many of the founders of the United States Government Masons, but they received aid from a secret and august body existing in Europe, which helped them to establish this country for a peculiar and particular purpose known only to the initiated few. The Great Seal is the signature of this exalted body - unseen and for the most part unknown - and the unfinished pyramid upon its reverse side is a trestleboard setting forth symbolically the task to the accomplishment of which the United States Government was dedicated from the day of its inception." (1)

 

The detailed symbolism of the seal has also been carefully explained from another quarter. In 1955 the Grand Lodge of Texas were incautious enough to set forth the following exegesis:

"Among those who helped design the Great Seal of the United States the following are known to have been Masons: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Churchill Houston, and William Barton. Whether they drew heavily upon Freemasonry in this work it is impossible to assert but when an informed Mason examines the Great Seal here is what he sees:

On the obverse is an eagle whose dexter wing has thirty-two feathers, the number of ordinary degrees in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The sinister wing has thirty-three feathers, the additional feather corresponding to the Thirty-Third Degree of the same Rite conferred for outstanding Masonic service. The tail feathers number nine, the number of degrees in the Chapter, Council, and Commandery of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Scottish Rite Masonry had its origin in France; the York Rite is sometimes called the American Rite; the eagle thus clothed represents the union of French and American Masons in the struggle for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. The total number of feathers in the two wings is sixty-five which, by gematria, is the value of the Hebrew phrase yam yawchod (together in unity). This phrase appears in Palms 133 as follows: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," and is used in the ritual of the first degree of Freemasonry.

The glory above the eagle's head is divided into twenty-four equal parts and reminds the observer of the Mason's gauge which is also divided into twenty-four equal parts and is emblematic of the service he is obligated to perform. The five pointed stars remind him of the Masonic Blazing Star and the five points of fellowship. The arrangement of the stars in the constellation to form overlapping equilateral triangles and the Star of David calls to the Mason's mind King David's dream of building a Temple, to his God, the Companions who rebuilt a desecrated Temple, and the finding of the Word that was lost. The gold, silver, and azure colors represent the sun, moon, and Worshipful Master, the first that rules the day, the second, the night, and the third, the lodge. While silver, connected with the letter Gimel or G and being surrounded on an azure ground by a golden glory, reminds the Mason of the letter G, a most conspicuous furnishing of a proper lodge room . . .

On the reverse, is the All Seeing Eye within a triangle surrounded by a
golden glory. Besides the obvious Masonic significance of this design, it has a cabalistic value of seventy plus three plus two hundred, equaling two hundred and seventy-three which is the value of the phrase ehben mosu habonim (the stone which the builders refused) familiar to all Royal Arch Masons. It is also the value of the Hebrew proper noun Hiram Abiff, the architect of Solomon's Temple and the principal character of the legend used in the Master Mason degree. The triangle is isosceles, formed by two right triangles having sides of five, twelve, and thirteen units in length, illustrating the 47th Problem of Euclid. The triangle also represents the capstone of the unfinished pyramid and reminds the Mason of the immortality of the soul and that in eternity he will complete the capstone of his earthly labors according to the designs on the trestle-board of the Supreme Architect of the Universe. The unfinished pyramid cannot fail to remind him of the unfinished condition of the Temple when tragedy struck down its Masters architect.

The blaze of glory found on either side of the Great Seal cannot fail to remind the Mason of the Great Light in Masonry which is the rule and guide to faith and practice and without which no Masonic lodge can exist. It reminds him that only more light can dispel the pall of ignorance in which he stumbles until he enters tile Celestial Lodge where all light is given." (2)

This explanation is convincing because every minute aspect of the Seal is shown to have a direct and cogent Masonic explanation. It is particularly interesting for stressing the great significance attached to gematria and sacred geometry by the Freemasons.

 

Now examine the Masonic gematria message hidden in the three inscriptions:
Annuit Coeptis - Novus Ordo Seclorum - E Pluribus Unum

 

 

Notes
1) Manly Palmer Hall, The Secret Teachings Of All Ages, The Philosophical Research Society Inc., Los Angeles, 1988, p. xci.
2) James Davis Carter, Masonry in US History - Background, History and Influence to 1846, The Committee on Masonic Education and Service for the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F.and A. M., Waco, 1955, Ch. 4.

 

© Peter Bull 2004-2015
All rights reserved. No portion of this page may be reprinted or otherwise
duplicated without express written permission from the author.