The Past Master Symbol is a often seen but not so frequently explained Masonic Symbol. It commonly consists of The Compass, Sun, and Quadrant (or Protractor), and in most jurisdictions a Square.
The Compass has a familiar interpretations for it is by the Compass that a Mason is reminded to keep his actions within due bounds. The Square also has a familiar meaning, for in Acting on the Square a Mason conducts himself honestly, with morality and virtue. The Square is the Master jewel (a reminder of how he should govern), and is a part of the Past Masters Symbol as a reminder of the office he held.
The Quadrant is the arc that the compass rests upon, either below or in place of the square on the familiar symbol of the fraternity. The Quadrant shows what angle the Compass is opened at. Symbolically, as every Mason is supposed to use the Compass to keep his actions within due bounds, it is The Quadrant that measures those due bounds,and it is the responsibility of the Master of the Lodge to ensure that Masons under his jurisdiction are making proper use of their own Compass. The Quadrant also shows the Compass to be opened to 60 degrees or the angle of an equilateral triangle, which is a symbol of balance.
The Compass paired with the Quadrant could also be seen as a Sextant a navigation tool used to measure altitude. The Sextant symbolizes that not only did the Past Master have to navigate the course of his Lodge in the past, but also that he is qualified to do so, should his successors require his advice or assistance.
The Sun represents Light and the Master of a Lodge is supposed to be a source of Masonic Light. It also signifies that the Past Master has observed the sun at meridian height (the South), setting (the West), and rising (the East).
In the some jurisdictions around the world, The 47th Problem of Euclid Suspended by a Square is used as The Past Master Symbol. The 47th Problem of Euclid (also known as the Pythagorean Theorem) is used to prove a square a vital skill to ancient builders. Suspended by the Square, the symbol represents the knowledge and wisdom that a Past Master has gained from his service to his Lodge and Masonry in general.
h/t – Bro. Kurt P.M of Hermes Lodge U.D
7 thoughts on “The Past Master Symbol”
Good morning WB Michael Hodges;
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am also WB Michael Hodges. I served as Master of Seaside Masonic Lodge #429 in Swansboro NC in 2019. I have to admit I did a double take when I came across your name on your outstanding website last night. Sometimes unexpected coincidences just make me smile.
Because of Covid-19 our Grand Master, MWB Shawn Bradshaw, suspended all Masonic meetings in North Carolina in March 2020 so I began sending a weekly email to the brothers of Seaside and several other lodges. It was my hope the emails would keep brothers thinking about our fraternity, give them Masonic information they may not know, convey an interesting Masonic story from the past and perhaps a little humor as well.
Over the years I’ve noticed many Past Masters sit in the North during lodge so I call my emails Musings From The North. Since labor has resumed I’ve continued my Musings on the Mondays Seaside doesn’t have a stated communication. My Musings are very popular with brothers and I thoroughly enjoy writing them. I never request nor accept any compensation of any kind for my Musings.
I’m emailing to ask permission to share some of the articles from your website in my Musings from time to time. I will gladly attribute the articles to you and your website.
Please reply to my email address or my mobile number is (***) ***-**** if you have a moment I’d enjoy a chat.
Thank you Worshipful for your consideration.
Fraternal Greetings! What a small world. 🙂 Yes, absolutely, share whatever you like. I’ll send you an email as well, as I’m not sure this will notify you here. Also, I’m going to censor your contact info posted here so you don’t get any unwanted random phone calls. 🙂
My name is Anthony Powell Past Master of Hiram Fellowship Lodge In Birmingham, Alabama I would like to receive your Mushings! E-mail: [ email@example.com ]
Well delivered if I must say. A great introduction to the many details of this emblem of honor, wisdom and respect.
I am curious about something. If I wanted to use the compasses to draw a circle of, say, 2-inches diameter, then what angle on the quadrant would I open the compasses to?
John Grant from Western Star lodge in Nebraska City would love to get you mushing to share with our brothers.
I am a Past Master and current secretary of our lodge. Please send the mushing to firstname.lastname@example.org
I also would love to receive your wisdom.. Past Master Cherry Blossom lodge #42 Tokyo