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A three sided polygon, beign the first enclosed shape possible with
straight lines. The Triangle is important in Masonry due to its
connection to the sacred number three and also because it has long
represented the concept of the Deity in geometrical form.
- Source:
Articles On The Triangle On This Page
Mackey's Encyclopedia Article
1919 The Builder Article
There is no symbol more important in its
significance, more various in its
application, or more generally diffused
throughout the whole system of
Freemasonry, than the triangle. An
examination of it, therefore, cannot fail to
be interesting to the Masonic student.
The equilateral triangle appears to have
been adopted by nearly all the nations of
antiquity as a symbol of the Deity, in some
of his forms or emanations, and hence, probably, the prevailing
influence of this symbol was carried into the Jewish system, where the
Yod within the triangle was made to represent the Tetragrammaton, or
sacred name of God.
The equilateral triangle, says Brother D. W. Nash (Freemasons
Magazine iv, page 294), "viewed in the light of the doctrines of those
who gave it currency as a divine symbol, represents the Great First
Cause, the Creator and Container of all things, as one and indivisible,
manifesting Himself in an infinity of forms and attributes in this
visible universe." Among the Egyptians, the darkness through which
the candidate for initiation was made to pass was symbolized by the
trowel, an important Masonic implement, which, in their system of
hieroglyphics, has the form of a triangle. The equilateral triangle they
considered as the most perfect of figures, and a representative of the
great principle of animated existence, each of its sides referring to one
of the three departments of creation, the animal, vegetable, and
The equilateral triangle is to be found scattered throughout the
Masonic system. It forms in the Royal Arch the figure within which the
jewels of the officers are suspended. It is in the Ineffable Degrees the
sacred Delta, everywhere presenting itself as the symbol of the Grand
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Architect of the Universe. In Ancient Craft Masonry, it is constantly
exhibited as the element of important ceremonies. The seats of the
principal officers are arranged in a triangular form, the three Lesser
Lights have the same situation, and the Square and Compasses form,
by their union on the greater light, two triangles meeting at their bases.
In short, the equilateral triangle may be considered as one of the most
constant forms of Masonic symbolism.
The right-angled triangle
is another form of this
figure which is deserving
of attention. Among the
Egyptians, it was the
symbol of universal
nature; the base
representing Osiris, or the
male principle; the
perpendicular, Isis, or the
female principle; and the
hypotenuse, Horus, their
son, or the product of the
male and female
This symbol was received by Pythagoras from the Egyptians during his
long sojourn in that country, and with it he also learned the peculiar
property it possessed, namely, that the sum of the squares of the two
shorter sides is equal to the square of the longest side-symbolically
expressed by the formula, that the product of Osiris and Isis is Horus.
This figure has been adopted in the Third Degree of Freemasonry, and
will be there recognized as the Forty-seventh Problem of Euclid (see
Forty-seventh Problem).
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry
By Bro. Harold A. Kingsbury, Massachusetts
While the Triangle is seldom directly called to the Mason's attention
there are but few of the symbols used in Masonry which are so
frequently placed before the Craftsman for him to recognize and to
contemplate if he but will. The presentations of this symbol are,
however, generally unemphasized and more or less veiled because that
is the way of Masonry with respect to its first-rate symbols, i.e., the
Cube, Point within the Circle, Square, Apron, etc., as distinguished
from its second-rate symbols, the Beehive, Ark and Anchor, etc. And
these repeated and partially concealed presentations are made with the
design that the Mason will have aroused in him a Spirit of Inquiry and,
so, will turn his attention to the symbol and, by his Masonic
Craftsmanship, bring himself to a knowledge of its history and to an
understanding of its symbolic significance.
The Triangle appears in Masonry in two forms, the Right Triangle, i.e.,
that Triangle which has one of its angles a right angle, ninety degrees,
or the one-fourth part of a Circle, and the Equilateral Triangle, i.e., that
Triangle which has all its sides equal, each to the other, and, of course,
has each of its angles equal to sixty degrees. Although these two
Triangles have, symbolically and historically, certain features in
common, for example, both were used as symbols by the Egyptians and
both present the significant number Three, yet their symbolic
suggestions are in many respects so different that they may, not
improperly, be considered as distinct symbols.
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Of all the references to this Symbol this is obviously not the place to
speak, but any Mason can profitably occupy himself in discovering
them. A few examples of the exoteric presentations and references to it
are: the Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid; the Square of the Square and
Compass, which Square, when a third, and completing side is supplied,
presents the Right Triangle; the stations of the Three Principal Officers
of the Lodge, together with the Altar, which define two Right Triangles;
and the Altar together with the Three Lesser Lights, which, when those
Lights are placed, as in some jurisdictions, at the stations of the Three
Principal Officers, rather than, as in other jurisdictions, about the Altar,
mark out two Right Triangles. Various other examples could be cited,
as there are many, but to do so would but defeat one of the principles
of Masonry the Mason must learn of Masonry by his own effort.
The Right Triangle is to the Mason, as it was to the ancient Egyptians,
the symbol of Universal Nature. The Egyptians, long prior to
Pythagoras, the statement in the Monitor notwithsanding, knew of this
symbol and of those peculiar properties set forth in the statement of
the Forty-Seventh Problem, "In any right triangle the square (A in the
figure) of the side (hypotenuse) opposite the right angle is equal to the
sum of the square (B and C) of the sides (legs) making the right angle."
And the Egyptians, making use of these properties for purposes of
symbolism, considered one leg as symbolizing Osiris, the Male,
considered the other leg as symbolizing Isis, the Female, and
considered the hypotenuse as symbolizing Horus, the Son and product
of Isis and Osiris. Thus, plainly, the Right Triangle presents to the
Mason, for his most earnest and devout consideration, God's Great
Handiwork Universal Nature.
Moreover, this symbol, in calling attention to Osiris and Isis, points out
to the Mason the probable Raurea of an important Legend and teaches
him that that Legend is but another and, so far as the specific character
of its incidents are concerned, relatively "up to date" version of a
world-old legend told and retold to us, as to the ancient Egyptians, by
the rising, sinking, and rerising Sun and by the Procession of the
Again, the Right Triangle, in calling attention to the Forty- Seventh
Problem and, more particularly, to the graphical representation of that
Problem (as in the figure), brings up for contemplation one of the
oldest and most widespread symbols in the world the Swastika (heavy
lines in the figure). Here, then, is presented to the Mason a symbol in
the study of whose history he can profitably spend many hours,
learning of its occurrence in Egypt, Persia, China, Japan, India, Europe
and America; of the Burial Mound at Baharahat, India, dating from the
third century B.C. and having its surrounding wall in the form of an
immense swastika over one hundred feet in diameter; of the swastika's
proud position as "that ancient Aryan symbol which was probably the
first to be made with a definite intention and a consecutive meaning"
(Enc. Brit. 4 641a), etc., etc.
This symbol, while perhaps more emphatically presented to the Royal
Arch Mason than to the Master Mason is, nevertheless, a possession of
the Master Mason and one that, however unobtrusive the references to
it may be, is by no means absent from the Master's Lodge. Exoterically
the Equilateral Triangle is presented by the Compass of the Square and
Compass as, when that symbol is opened to the extent of sixty degrees
(as it should be) and a third, and connecting, side, connecting the ends
of the legs, is supplied, we have presented the Equilateral Triangle.
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Again, when the Three Lesser Lights are placed about the Altar they
define the Equilateral Triangle.
From time immemorial the Equilateral Triangle has been preeminently
the symbol for Deity. For the Triangle is the primary figure from which
all others are built up and the Equilateral Triangle, being wholly
symmetrical, is the one perfect Triangle and thus clearly becomes the
symbol for that Perfect Being in which all things find their beginning
This Symbol is so completely appropriated to the purpose of a symbol
for Deity and Perfection that to here treat of its various other, and
decidedly minor, symbolic significances would but obscure its
pre-eminent symbolic meaning.
In conclusion, then, the Triangle, in the two forms here discussed,
teaches the Mason that far more lies in Masonic symbolism and in
Masonic instruction than appears upon the surface; causes him to
contemplate Universal Nature; points out the probable source of an
important symbolic Legend; draws his attention to what is probably,
the world's oldest symbol, and fixes his attention upon Deity and
Perfection. Is not the study of Masonic symbolism worth the while?
- Source: The Builder - February 1919
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #
Masonic Magazine The Lodge Room Freemason Info Templar History Stephen Dafoe is 2005 - 2007 Stephen A. Dafoe.
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