Astronomy and Freemasonry
Astronomy and Freemasonry Chinguacousy Lodge No. 738 September 30, 2019
W. Bro. Ken Moore Historian Manito Lodge No. 90
A Cornerstone Lodge 2014-2019
Astronomy and Freemasonry
WM, W. Bro. Martin, thank you very much for welcoming me here this evening.
I have prepared a discussion regarding some of the many links between astronomy, and Freemasonry. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share it with you my brethren at Chinguacousy Lodge and on an occasion near the Autumnal Equinox, when there are 12 hours day, 12 hours night and the Sun –which is an emblem of knowledge- lights us equally, should you live anywhere, on our tilted Earth.
Here, in a Masonic Lodge Room symbols are all around. Many of these symbols represent things from beyond this Earth, the Sun to rule the day, the Moon to rule the night and, in the East just to the Worshipful Master’s right, there is a five-pointed star-shaped symbol. This is meant to represent Venus. But, why is it here?
To uncover why this may be, let’s imagine the Temple Building has no roof. It’s high twelve and as we sit here, under the midday Sun, we’re traveling through space on an Earth that is turning. If you’re facing west, you are turning backward and, the horizon is rising. After, as it would appear to us, the midday Sun disappears below the western horizon, all natural light is eventually diminished except that from the stars above, as they appear, falling in the sky. Or so it may be.
During some years, just before nightfall, a bright object appears near the western horizon. That luminary, in the west, that is Venus. Venus is a planet. Earlier observers, including the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, mistook it for two separate stars but it is the planet second nearest to the Sun. Venus is always closer to the Sun than is the Earth. Venus shines because –either before the day begins or after the day ends- the light from the Sun, which itself is hidden below one of our horizons, is being reflected back to Earth. In a Masonic Lodge, Venus is shown in the East, where learning originated and shown as originally mistaken to be, a star. This tells of the journey we are on and how astronomy has continually helped to raise ignorance from despair. Let’s recall that to early man the Universe was alive with forces and powers beyond their comprehension. In this, our modern time, it is difficult to fully comprehend the effect of what appeared to be happening in the heavens, as it occurred to early man. We can hardly imagine their terror of the comet or sense their awe and reverence for the Sun and the Moon because we are too well educated. We, in fact, know much about the architecture and proportions, which make the Universe a vast machine. The questions, which we pondered as a result of unaided visual observations, have all been answered. Through research and exploration, we are now learning about cosmic events that occur hundreds of thousands of light years away, well beyond the perimeter of the Milky Way. The study of astronomy is pushing back the frontiers of science and, the connection between astronomy and Freemasonry is ancient.
According to Greek mythology, which goes back to the very dawn of civilization, one of their Gods, Zeus was nourished in infancy from the milk of a goat. In gratitude, Zeus, placed this goat up in the sky to remain forevermore as a constellation, but first gave one of the goat’s horns to his nurses with the assurance that it would forever pour for them whatever they desired. That horn of plenty is the cornucopia; it is a symbol of abundance. The cornucopia is the jewel of the Stewards’ office it is
found on both their collars and their wands too. The one- horned goat from which it came is found in the
constellation, Capricorn, which adds another significance. Our Sun begins its passage through the constellation of Capricorn at Winter Solstice when it is also at 900 to the tropic of Capricorn, on Dec 21st. At Winter Solstice the Earth’s axis is tilted directly away from the Sun, and after then each day begins to get longer. Cornucopia marks the change of season and the coming spring. These allegorical and also the more conspicuous lessons woven throughout each Masonic degree are, by all accounts, very old, and astronomy is one of the many things Freemasonry is intended to convey to its members. To effectively express how intricate the relationship between astronomy and the Craft in fact is; we must
rediscover a very important day in history, the day on which you were made a Mason. On the day you were initiated, your Mother Lodge officially began with knocks from the East, wherefrom the Sun rises. Next to speak, Bro. Junior Warden was seated 1⁄2 way across the Lodge room to mark the midday Sun. Bro. Senior Warden informed all that he closes the Lodge from his chair in the west; whereto the Sun sets. This is done to convey an informed and intimate understanding of where we are on Earth, and also within the solar system.
You are each too expert in the principles of Freemasonry to require much reminder that our Lodges are opened in the name of the Great AOTU. Perhaps, you may even recall that, after being received in open Lodge for the very first time, Brother Chaplain offered prayer to Almighty Father and Supreme Governor of the Universe. So mote it was. You then rose from kneeling and perambulated the lodge, going from east to west by way of the south, as does the Sun. Your circumambulation about the Altar was in imitation of the course of the Sun.
After perambulating the Lodge you were brought to the center, hoodwinked. You hadn’t seen an opened lodge room so the predominant wish of your heart was indeed knowledge, literally and metaphorically light. After you asked for light you were shown what is about us here today, but first, the Worshipful Master imparted some things quite profound to you.
When you were initiated the most modern understandings regarding creation were revealed to you, as they are to all Apprentices, and as they have been since time immemorial. After taking your Obligation you were told: In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. The Earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said let there be light. And there was light.
To put that which is told and also demonstrated to all new Masons into context, let me summarize some important things astronomy has helped to discover: Less than 15 billion years ago all around us was a void. Stillness and utter darkness were all around. All of matter was without form and, in a single place. Scientists call this a state of singularity. Then at this single place in what is the center of the ever-expanding Universe a Big Bang occurred. All of creation began. And there was light.
Every material thing we have ever been able to define, to measure, or in any way have come to know, originated from a single place. From a purely scientific perspective, every single thing you are grateful for came from the singularity. How then came to be that which, like a singularity, science does not measure? Where did morality, virtue, brotherly love, and the indefatigable spirit of mankind begin?
The entire Universe, which surrounds us, came from a single source, far removed from our earthly abode. And just like how the Universe began your initiation to the Craft began in a state of complete and utter darkness. The creation of the Universe and that of a newly obligated brother among Masons, each occurred in the center. Your journey as an Ancient, Free & Accepted Mason, it also commenced with a tremendous Bang. And there was light.