Square and Compass

Shakespeare's Mason Mark

A Masonic Mark

The taking of a 'mason's mark' was a common aspect of initiation to the first degree of Entered Apprentice in early Freemasonry. We know, for example, that in 1641 the Master Mason Sir Robert Moray adopted the pentacle, in various forms, as his personal mark, whilst his friend, the mathematically inclined Alexander Hamilton, chose a right-angled triangle (1). Sir Robert probably wished to recall the 'five points of fellowship' with his mark, because he appended the letters of the Greek word ΑΓΑΠΑ (Love) to the points of the pentacle (and also used this as the basis of an acrostic). Mr Hamilton would undoubtedly have been thinking of the 47th Proposition of Euclid - which has been described as, "The foundation of all Masonry" (2).


Shakespeare seems to have been fully conversant with the Masonic symbolism of the Square - and thus the symbolism of Euclid's 47th Proposition. We have seen in Anthony and Cleopatra (II, iii) reference to the lines:


Read not my blemishes in the world's report;
I have not kept my square, but that to come
Shall all be done by the rule.

The Bard also makes a number of pointed references to a 'mark' in his Sonnets. An analysis of these, in my book reveals that their placement is not a casual matter but clearly predicated by Masonic considerations of a very exact and specific nature. They all refer to his own Masonic mark.

Marke how one string sweet husband to an other, (s8)
For slanders marke was euer yet the faire, (s70)
Marke how with my neglect I doe dispence. (s112)
O no, it is an euer fixed marke (s116)

Shakespeare's mark turns out to be no different from that of Alexander Hamilton - the right-angle triangle. He uses it consistently throughout the Sonnets to encode his name.

The context of the first Marke actually has a clear association with a right-angled triangle. In this sonnet the discussion concerns the three-way play between 'sweet husband', 'happy mother' and the 'child' they bring forth; there is also, in the following sonnet, the strongest indication that the mother is a widow. This scenario brings to mind the legend of Osiris, Isis - the widow and child Horus. The most common representation of this relationship in Masonic symbolism (following Plato) is the 3-4-5 right-angled triangle: the upright (3) represents Osiris, the horizontal (4) Isis and the hypotenuse (5) Horus (3). Therefore it's interesting to note that the word Marke is the 828th word in the Sonnets - and 828 is the gematria value of the Hebrew words BN ALMNH - The Widow's Son.


The Dedication to the Sonnets

The dedication prefixed to Shakespeare's Sonnets is one of the most enigmatic pieces of prose in the English language. The reason for its convoluted syntax is explained by the fact that it is an intricate cryptogram. Gematria considerations play a key role in distorting the phraseology.

When examining its numerology, one figure sticks out above all others - 2120. This number encapsulates the dedication because it forms the sum of the first and last letters on each of the 12 lines (in green). 2120 is also found as the exact value of the 7th line - the line at the heart of the dedication explicitly referring to the author (in blue):

The cryptographic dedication to Shakespeare's Sonnets

The value of the 'outside' letters T F T S M E A E P D B Y O T W H T G A N S G F H is:
100 + 6 + 100 + 90 + 30 + 5 + 1 + 5 + 60 + 4 + 2 + 400 + 50 + 100 + 900 + 8 + 100 + 7 + 1 + 40 + 90 + 7 + 6 + 8 = 2120

The value of OUR EVER-LIVING POET is:
50 + 200 + 80 + 5 + 700 + 5 + 80 + 20 + 9 + 700 + 9 + 40 + 7 + 60 + 50 + 5 + 100 = 2120


Christopher Marlowe and 2120

The reason why Christopher Marlowe is 'Our ever-living poet' resides in the way that 2120 squares his name by means of a right-angled triangle. Such a triangle whose perpendicular members measure 971 and 1885 has a hypotenuse of 2120.

Christopher Marlowe revealed in Shakespeare's Masonic Mark

The horizontal side has the value of Christopher and the vertical side that of Marlowe - when his name is written in Greek. Therefore 2120 is a true and square Masonic cipher for his name.

  Χ Ρ Ι Σ Τ Ο Φ Ε Ρ 600 + 100 + 10 + 200 + 300 + 70 + 500 + 5 + 100 = 1885
  Μ Α Ρ Λ Ω 40 + 1 + 100 + 30 + 800 = 971


Numerological Significance

The triangle has a number of important properties for a Freemason. Among these are the fact that it portends the cosmic numbers 3168, 5040, 6660 and 8880. The circle with a 2120 diameter that intersects the three points of the triangle has a circumference of 6660 and may be inscribed within a vesica piscis of 8880 perimeter. The perimeter of the triangle is 4976 - this gives the combined circumferences of two equal circles (of 2488 circumference) that combine to make a vesica with a width of 396 and a height of 686. The latter are the dimensions of St Mary's chapel Glastonbury (amongst other sacred enclosures). A 4976 perimeter vesica may be drawn from the intersection of two circles exactly bounded by a square of 5040 diagonal - Plato's sacred number. A square with a double-diagonal measurement of 3168 may be exactly circumscribed by a circle of 4976 circumference. These numbers also combine in many significant ways - for example 6660 is the sum of the numbers which divide into 3168. For more details on these sacred numbers see John Michell's books - (4).


No Coincidence

The fact that the dedication number 2120 marks the hypotenuse of Marlowe's 'squaring triangle' could be a coincidence if it were a lone reference. However it is not: there are other clues hidden in the numerological structure of the dedication which prove that the triangle has been correctly interpreted - as is explained in chapter nine of Shakespeare's Sonnets - Written by Kit Marlowe.



1) See David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry - Scotland's Century 1590 - 1710, C.U.P., 1988, p.168-179.
2) Albert Mackey, The History of Freemasonry, Gramercy Books, New York, 1996, p.120.
3) See Manley P. Hall, The Secret Teaching of All Ages, The Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles, 1988, facing p. LXIX. See also C.C. Zain, Ancient Masonry, The Church of Light, Los Angeles, 1994, p. 138.
4) John Michell's: The Dimesions of Paradise, 2001, Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois; and City of Revelation, 1972, The Garnstone Press, London.



© 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.