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Freemasonry and Five-pointed Star

To: Sacred Landscape 
From: Dan Washburn 
Subject: Freemasonry and Five-pointed Star
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 19:11:26 -0400

The five-pointed star is a Masonic symbol.  From her collection of
pictures of Lodges, Cat Yronwode has told us that it is frequently
inlaid in the black and white chequered floor of a Lodge.  If you look
at a picture of the Masonic apron worn by George Washington you will
find a five-pointed star.  If you look at a picture of the Masonic sash
worn by Ben Franklin, you will find several blazing five-pointed stars.
Masonic iconography sometimes has a blazing five-pointed star with the
letter G in the center.  (W. Kirk MacNulty Freemasonry, a journey
through ritual and symbol, illustrations on pages 62 and 67.)

Robert Moray was the quartermaster of the Covanenters' army of rebellion
against king Charles I when he was initiated into the Lodge of Edinburgh
in 1641 by members serving with the army.  He chose a five-pointed star
as his mason's mark and forever afterward worked it into his signature.
He had a seal made using the five-pointed star and a second seal of his,
called the 'cube seal,'  has a picture of a tilted cube with a
five-pointed star on each of the three visible faces.  (David Stevenson,
The Origins of Freemasonry, 1988, plates 6 & 7.)

In 1583 William Schaw was appointed master of works with responsibility
for all Scots Royal castles and palaces.  In 1598 Schaw issued, 'The
statues and ordinances to be observed by all master masons within the
realm," acting as master of works, "and general Warden of the Craft."
In 1599 he issued a second set of statutes.  David Stevenson notes that
in the 13th statute of this second set there is a requirement to test
every aprentice and fellow craft in 'the art of memory and the science
therof.'  This is immensely important, says Stevenson, because it shows
that in reforming the craft Schaw was introducing Renaissance ideas.
These formed the foundation for the elaboration of speculative masonry.

Much of what we know about  Schaw comes from an inscription on his tomb
in Dunfermline Abbey (d. 1602).  Plate 1 in Stevenson's book shows a
picture of this tomb.  Besides the inscription, in the center of  the
face of the sculpture there is a geometric diagram.  It shows a square
with an inscribed circle.  The circle is quartered by a cross that looks
like this +.  The top angles of the square are joined by lines to the
midpoint of the bottom side and the bottom angles of the square are
joined by lines to the midpoint of the top side so that the lines form
an interlaced up V shape and down V shape.

Those of you who have been following my exposition on the Sacred
Geometry of the Feeding of the 5,000 know that a circle can be divided
into five equal segments and the 5-pointed star drawn by means of the
diagonal of a doublecube rectangle.

When the square is quarted in the Schaw diagram, two vertical doublecube
rectangles are formed.  The up and down V lines are the diagonals of
those doublecube rectangles.

I conclude that the Schaw diagram is a disguised formula for dividing a
circle into 5 equal segments and drawing the five-pointed star.

The method:  The center of the cross is O.  The place where the vertical
line of the cross hits the top of the circle is T.  And the mid-point of
the left arm of the cross is M.  Place the point of your compass at M
and the end at T.  Swing the arc down so that it crosses the right arm
of the cross (call it R).  The line between T and R is the side of the
pentagon inscribed in the circle.  Take your compass set to that length
and mark off five divisions around the circle.  (See my Feeding of the
5000 exposition for a proof based on figures given in Robert Lawlor's
book on Sacred Geometry.)

The interlaced up and down V shapes are very similar to the compass and
square figure which is probably the world's most well-known Masonic
symbol.  Could it be that it was originally a secret diagram relating to
the five-pointed star and that it was transformed into the the compass
and square in the early days of Freemasonry?

The fact that the compass and square figure is often shown with the
Masonic G in its center and that the five-pointed star is also shown
with the Masonic G in its center is suggestive.

One line of research that might answer this question is to examine early
Masonic images.  Is the square a true right angle in all of these
pictures, or does it have a different angle?  For example, the
illustration on p.72 of MacNulty's book shows a French print from circa
1745 that has a square and compass in which the square is distinctly not
a right angle.

Dan W.

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