Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Freemasonry symbol bonanza

The gravestone for Joseph Jones (d. 1851) is near the foot of the hill at the front of Oller Cemetery. The large tablet stone is a bonanza of Freemasonry symbols.

In memory of
Son of
Abram & Sarah
Jan. 6, 1854.

It seems fitting to turn to a 19th-century book to understand the symbols and their meaning in the 19th century. Freemasonry: its symbolism, religious nature, and law of perfection by Chalmers Izett Paton (1873), available from Google Books, provides some help:

The Sun by his rising in the morning, calls us to labour; when he reaches his meridian, he calls us to refreshment; and by his setting at night, he calls us to repose.

A Star with five points is employed as a symbol to remind Masons of five important rules always to be observed.

The Square symbolises the trial of our conduct by the laws of morality.

The Level is a symbol reminding us of that level on which all men naturally stand in the sight of God, advancing alike towards death and eternity.

The Plumb is regarded as symbolic of truth, and so of rectitude.

The Compasses symbolically represent reason, which is exercised in framing our designs.

A Coffin ... is intended to remind us of the certainty of death, that we may so number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Acacia—evergreen, the emblem of immortality—... teaches us to raise our thoughts above the present state of things and all their gloom, to that better world in which there is no death.

A second Google book, Masonic Review, Volume VIII, by C. Moore (1853) suggests a meaning of the G that hangs suspended between the star and the sun:

The suspended G, directs our thoughts above to the supreme Architect of the universe, and to a contemplation of the wonderful works of his Creation.

Oller Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio

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