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An article by Bro. H. Jordan Rosoce 32 Degree
THE TWO PILLARS
by H. Jordan Rosoce 32 degree
THE NEW AGE - JANUARY 1964
THE Fellow-Craft is introduced to the wonders of his world of art
and science through portals flanked by two massive pillars.
Detailed description of these pillars in the Books of Kings
indicates a style of design common to Egyptian architecture, where a
pillar terminates in a capital representing a conventionalized lotus
blossom, or the seed pod of that sacred lily. Such twin pillars are
frequently found among Egyptian and Sumerian archaeological remains.
The pillars of King Solomon's Temple, and in fact that entire group
of structures, were the work of Phoenician artists, according to the
Biblical account. From other sources we gather that these same
designers and craftsmen, initiated Dionysiac architects, were
responsible for the magnificent palaces and temples at Byblos, the
cultural and esthetic center of ancient Phoenicia. The Phoenician
realm occupied an area roughly the same as that of modern Syria and
Lebanon, and in Biblical accounts is usually cal led Tyre, from the
name of its then capital city. Byblos, also known as Gub'l or
Gebal, the present-day village of Jebeil, was particularly famous
for architects and sculptors.
The twin pillars symbolize the dual nature of life and death,
positive and negative or rather active (establishment) and passive
(endurance), male and female, light and dark, good and evil, uniting
in a central point of equilibrium, the apex of an equilateral
triangle; a circle between two parallel uprights. Isis represented
standing between two pillars of opposing polarity, the Ark of the
Covenant between two Cherubim, Christ crucified between two thieves,
are all symbols of the same trinity, the complete ness and
perfection of Deity.
That the twin pillars resemble the conventional symbol for Gemini,
third sign of the Zodiac, is no accident, but rather due to the
common ancestry of the two apparently unrelated symbols.
In some lectures the pillars are said to be 35 cubits high, the
height given in II Chronicles, King James Version. Another version
of the same source gives the height as 120 cubits. Since the height
of the first or outer chamber was probably no more than 30 cubits,
the measurement given in I Kings: 18 cubits, seems more likely to be
correct. The addition of map globes atop the pillars is a modern
invention, with little Biblical or other authority and serving
little purpose but to permit the lecturer to h arp upon the
advantages of studying astronomy, geography, etc., worthy pursuits
but wholely unrelated to the symbolism of the pillars.
Whether the three chambers of the Temple were connected by stairs is
debatable. The best-informed scholars believe the Temple roof was
flat, in which case the successively decreasing heights of the
chambers, plus the somewhat sloping configuration of the site, would
require approach and connection by means of either stairways or of
some sort of ladder and trapdoor arrangement. Certainly the
fantastically elaborate many-storied versions of the Temple depicted
by some well-intentioned but ill-informed Bible illustrators and
Masonic artists are so illogical and at variance with the few known
facts and testimony of both the Bible and history as to seem the
figments of a disordered imagination. Josephus stated that the
Temple was of Grecian style which implies entablature and
consequently a flat roof, although he had the cart before the horse,
since Greek architecture was derived from Phoenician, not the
In any case, the stairway of our lectures is purely symbolic,
consisting as it does of the significant numbers 3, 5, and 7. In
such a series, 3 symbolizes such qualities as peace, friendship,
justice, piety, temperance, and virtue. 5 represents light, health,
and vitality- 7 is a symbol of control, judgment, government, and
Response from Bro. Peter Cawley
Are the Pillars always located in the south west entrance of a masonic
In western mystery tradtion temples (Golden Dawn, Society of the Inner
Light, Servants of the Light etc.) the Hierophant, Magus, or
Officiating Officer usually sits in the East, facing West, and flanked
by the Pillars, with the black pillar on his right and white pillar on
This arrangement implies the officiating Officer is mediating the
energies from the higher sephira of the Tree of Life to the lower
sephira symbolised in the physical temple.
Response from Frater Neshamah
This is true most of the time, but there are occasions where this is not true (especially during certain initiation ceremonies, and in some equinoctial ceremonies, if I'm not mistaken). I do understand what you are saying, with the Black Pillar representing the Pillar of Severity, and the White Pillar representing the Pillar of Mercy. But, "As Above, so Below;" and the Pillars can swap places in certain situations (as those in the higher grades of G.'.D.'. esp., know).
I hope this personal observation didn't take us too far afield, or cause offense to any. Remember, I'm just "feeling my way around" here; and this is my first post. However, if my posts were received with offense, especially, I apologize my brothers.
Lap zirdo noco Mad, hoath Iaida,
H. Frater Neshamah
Response to Frater Neshamah by Bro. Peter Cawley
In the G:.D:. Neophyte Ritual the Pillars are before the dias
and to the East of the Altar with the Hegemon between with the Black
Pillar to the right. In the Zealator Ritual the Pillars are to the
West of the Altar and a good part of the work is done behind the
Pillars and is facing the West. The Equinox Ceremony has a similar
configuation to the Neophyte ritual. The Consecration of the Vault
Ceremony has the Pillars to the West of the Pastos and Altar and
similar to the Zealator. In the SOL working I can only think of one
ritual where the pillars are moved forward, and then it is only the
Magus who does part of the work behind the Pilars.
The point of my original message was that all these placements of the
Pillars are significantly (and perhaps symbolically) different from my
(very limited) observations of their placement in a Freemasonic Lodge.
Any comments on the symbolism?