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"There is nothing so indestructible as a symbol; but nothing is capable of so many interpretations."
Goblet d Alviella
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From darkness to light
The images in the poster "From Darkness to Light" (New York : Hazen, 1908) are all drawn from the three degrees of American Work Craft Freemasonry. The illustrations are based on those found in Albert G. Mackey's Manual of the Lodge (New York : Macoy Publishing, 1862), although similar illustrations can also be found in Jeremy Cross's True Masonic Chart (New York : A. S. Barnes & Co., (1846).
In the top right corner is the sun that rules the day and represents the Worshipful Master who rules his lodge, Clockwise, the following are depicted:
Emblematic representations of youth, manhood and age: an entered apprentice on the first step, a fellowcraft on the second, and above them, a master mason.
The tabernacle erected by Moses after crossing the Red Sea.
The five noble orders of architecture as defined by Giacomo da Vignola (1507-1573): Ionic, Doric, Tuscan, Corinthian and Composite, the first three representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty but taken together representing the five senses, or the five required to hold a lodge: the Master, two Wardens and two fellowcrafts.
A setting maul, spade, coffin and sprig of acacia as emblems of mortality with the pythagorean hope in resurrection depicted by a five-pointed star.
Themis, ancient Greek goddess of justice, holding the scales of justice.
The square, and level, two of the three "immovable jewels" of the lodge; the Master Mason's trowel, the gavel, the twenty-four inch gauge and the setting maul; with chalk, charcoal, and clay representing freedom, fervency and zeal; a tracing board depicting the Holy St. Johns: St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; Jacob and Jacob's ladder with seven rungs representing, in antiquity, the seven planets or seven metals (gold, copper, silver, lead, tin, iron, mercury), in masonry representing the four cardinal virtues: Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortuitude, and the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. These may be said to have been derived from Plato's four virtues: wisdom, courage, moderation and justice (Protagoras 330b) as well as the three evangelic virtues: belief, hope and love.
The feminine personification of Prudence, carrying an arrow inverted, entwined of a serpent, gazes into a mirror. The mirror can represent truth, wisdom or self-knowledge. The feminine personification of Fortitude wears the helmet of Athena—the Greek goddess of wisdom and the more disciplined side of war—and rests her hand on a broken column, an emblem of mortality. The feminine personification of the divine attribute of Truth carries an open book and raises an instructive finger.
A fellowcraft and master mason giving the masonic grip.
The "passages of Jordan" (Judges 12:6).
A white lambskin apron representing purity.
Feminine personification of Temperance combined with a sheaf of wheat.
Noah's ark, an anchor and heart representing faith and hope.
"Time and the Virgin" representing a monument to the builder, Hiram Abif: Father Time, an hourglass at his feet, holding a scythe and combing the hair of a Virgin who reads from a book resting on a broken column while holding up a sprig of acacia representing renewal, rebirth or resurrection in one hand, and a funerary urn in the other.
A candidate taking his obligation at an altar.
Hiram the architect instructing the workmen: the movable jewels of the lodge are the rough ashlar, the perfect ashlar and the trestle-board.
The moon to rule the night depicted near a blazing star, representing either deity or the regenerative power of the sun, and seven stars representing the seven liberal arts and science, or the seven brethren required to make the lodge perfect. The additional two stars may possibly represent the illustrator's creativity.
The centre of the poster depicts the chequered flooring representing the uneven path of life, the indented tessel, the three lesser lights representing wisdom, strength and beauty, and an altar, a symbol of piety. A five-pointed star, representing the five points of fellowship adorns the altar. The Volume of Sacred Law is open to Psalm 133 : "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" On the square pavement are a sword, cable tow, slipper and constitutions, all emblematic of masonic initiation, while the beehive is an emblem of industry, and the pot of incense is an emblem of a pure heart. Above the altar are the Hebrew characters representing the 42 letter name of God—the Tetragrammaton—inside a triangle and glory, also symbols of deity. Above that is the right hand—an emblem of fidelity as Fides is another name for deity—framed by two angels pointing towards the celestial mansion (John 14:2) and above that the all-seeing eye of God. The images are flanked by two pillars (1 Kings 7).
The final figure is the letter "G" representing either God or Geometry.
The number and arrangement of tools and symbols does not completely agree with the usages of Thomas Webb or Ralph P. Lester whose ritual monitors would have been the standard reference works in New York where the poster was printed.


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