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"The modern Craft is essentially speculative, and every Mason must necessarily be to some extent speculative in his attitude to its tenets ; but there is a widespread tendency to extend the limits of true speculative research and to exaggerate symbolical values."

The Letter G
By Bro. John A. Cockburn, Adelaide.
By letters four and science five
This G aright doth stand.
The more closely we adhere to the ancient landmarks in Masonry the clearer will be our comprehension of its teaching. Owing to a departure from tradition the letter G has become a puzzle both as to its shape and meaning. Though supposed to represent Geometry and occupying the place of honour in the Lodge, the outline of this letter stands pronounced as the most ungeometrical and therefore the most unmasonic of our emblems. The reason of this discrepancy is not far to seek when we call to mind the fact that the present form of the letter dates no further back than the middle of the third century B.C., and its intrusion among Masonic emblems can be regarded in no other light than as a comparatively modern innovation. In its original form the letter G was held to be sacred by the Pythagoreans; it was the initial letter of the Earth Goddess Ge or Gaia in whose honour the Eleusiniau mysteries were celebrated; it also stood for geometry, a word derived from Ge and used by Pythagoras as synonymous with Tetractys or the Divinity. When however our ancient brethren turned their eyes towards the sacred symbol they beheld, not the unmeaning form of the letter G, but the gimel or gamma , the emblem in all ages the most revered by our Craft, the true Masonic square.
The second tracing board tells us that the letter G denotes God and depicts certain Hebrew characters, these characters are the four letters which spell the holy name Jehovah, the awful Tetragrammaton. In the opinion of the ancients the most fitting geometrical representation of the number four was by means of the square; Plutarch says that "The number four is a square" and according to Philo Judaeus "Four is the most ancient of all square numbers, it is found to exist in right angles as the figure of a square in geometry shows," and "Four is the first number which is a square being equal on all sides, the measure of justice and equality." What then could be more appropriate than the representation of the Tetractys or the Tetragrammaton by the square letter gamma? And to what letter other than that bearing the form of the square could the attention of the Craftsman about to receive his wages be with equal propriety directed? The square is one of the working tools of a fellow-craft and is the emblem of that just relation between man and man which entitled the workman relying on the honesty of his work and on the integrity of his employer, to claim without scruple and without diffidence the due reward of his labour.
In short, the gamma or the square falls into its place in the mosaic of masonry as readily as the modern G refuses to be assimilated, and this harmony goes far to establish the antiquity of our ritual; for, if the text is obscure with the letter G but becomes luminous with the gamma, there is proof that the ritual must have been settled before the disappearance of the ancient and the introduction of the modern letter.
The fifth science was geometry which explains the G or in its operative aspect, and the letters four, or tetragrammaton, would elucidate its other, or symbolic, meaning.
Is it not just possible that the form in which the letter G formerly appeared in the Lodge may have been that of the Swastica, , one of the most frequent and sacred of figures in both Eastern and Western Symbolism, whose absence from modern Craft Masonry is a matter of surprise? The Swastica is composed of four gammas combined and was known among old time craftsmen as the tetragammaton.
It is impossible to avoid a feeling of regret that the beautiful symbolism of the square has been marred by the usurpation of the letter G in the place of the gamma, and it appears to be a question worthy of consideration whether it would not be well to show our respect for the ancient landmarks by restoring to the sacred symbol its original form.

Reprinted with permission of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, UGLE in Volume 10 for the year 1897. [p. 40.]


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