John Lawrence, MM
Research Lodge of Oregon #198, A.F.& A.M.
From the Ancient of Days the constellations were a tool for instruction using the starry heavens as a backdrop to explain to the Initiate the mythological journey to be taken through the dimension of time and space. Stars were identified and given certain characteristics in order to develop stories to explain the changes in the psyche of the Initiate as he successfully achieved each stage of development in his Soul's journey. The Zodiac in Masonry is also known as Masonic Astronomy, but the two are the same in purpose - a teaching instrument. The Zodiac's use for divination, as we know it today, was considered a corruption of the original intent of the constellations and their mythological content, but has since become the more dominant aspect perceived by the general public.
The Masonic Lodge, as seen through the symbols of the Zodiac, is a mythological journey of the individual Mason toward enlightenment. There are 12 Houses in the Zodiac. Each has an arc of 30 degrees, for a total of 360 degrees, or a full circle. Each House has a Sign and Planet assigned to it. As the Sun passes through the 12 houses of the Zodiac, each becomes the stage upon which a Mason's drama is played out. The Planets represent the actors and the 12 Signs make up the script.
Beginning in the East, as the Sun rises to open and adorn the day, we start the mythological journey at 6:00 a.m., the Spring Equinox, under the sign of Aries ruled by the planet Mars, the masculine principle or the conscious mind in action represented by Osiris (the archetypal man in Egyptian mythology). The element in this sign is Fire (or Spirit) and the Mason beginning this quest symbolically becomes Hercules and his 12 Labors, Moses and the 12 Tribes of Israel seeking the Holy Land, or Robin Hood and his 12 Merry Men. Continuing on our journey, we pass through the signs of Taurus and Gemini to arrive at the Junior Warden's station in the South. We are now at meridian height, the beauty and glory of the day, which is noon, or the Summer Solstice under the sign of Cancer ruled by the Moon. The element in this House is Water (or emotions).
Our next passage through the Zodiac is between the Signs of Leo and Virgo, the southwest corner of the Lodge, which is mid-way between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox. This entry into the Lodge is the beginning of the harvest season and it is through this portal that Masons pass between the pillars Jachin and Boaz or the Sphinx in Egyptian mythology.
We progress to the West, at the close of day, where the Senior Warden resides. It is 6:00 pm, or the Fall Equinox, under the sign of Libra ruled by Venus (the feminine principle) or Isis in Egyptian mythology. The element is Air (or Mental) and it is the end of the harvest season where the Master Mason receives his wages if aught be due.
We are now passing into darkness and move toward the North into the Sign of Capricorn ruled by the planet Saturn - Kronos or Father Time. It is midnight or the Winter Solstice where the position of the Chaplin* is maintained over the Abyss. The element of this sign is Earth (or physical) and it is here that numerous traditions symbolize the sacrifice and struggle upon the Grand Cross of Matter - such as Horus, the Widow's Son in Egyptian mythology.
Our final destination for this particular journey is the Northeast corner of the Lodge between the signs of Aquarius and Pisces. It is 3:30 am, mid-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. This is the darkest point before the dawn in the Lodge and it is here we place the new Entered Apprentice. From either left or right, he can only move toward the Light, for it is the Light he seeks the most.
Bro John Lawrence
Internet Lodge No 9659