This is one of the oldest and most widespread symbols denoting God. We find it in Egypt, in India, and in the Old Testament.
The Open Eye of Egypt represented Osiris. In India Siva is represented by an eye. In the Old Testament we read of the “eyes of Jehovah.”
Omniscience and omnipresence are rather forbidding words; the All-Seeing Eye expresses in familiar syllables a thought easily comprehended by ignorant and wise alike.
The conception of a sleepless Eye which sees not only material but spiritual things; which watches not only externals but the “inmost recesses of the human heart” has that pictorial and imaginative appeal which visualizes to the most matter-of-fact the power and the universality of the Great Architect.
We are taught of it as the “All-Seeing Eye whom the sun, moon, and stars obey and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions.”
In this astronomical reference is a potent argument for extreme care in the transmission of ritual unchanged from mouth to ear and the necessity of curbing well-intentioned brethren who wish to “improve” the ritual.
The word “revolution,” printed in the earliest Webb monitors, fixes the astronomical references as comparatively modern conceptions.
Tycho Brahe, progenitor of the modern maker and user of fine instruments among astronomers, whose discoveries have left an indelible impress on astronomy, did not consider comets as orbital bodies.
Galileo thought them “emanations of the atmosphere.”
Not until the Seventeenth Century was well under way did a few daring spirits suggest that these celestial portents of evil, these terrible heavenly demons which had inspired terror in the hearts of men for uncounted generations, were actually parts of the solar system, and that many if not most of them were periodic, returning again and again; in other words, that they revoked about the sun.
Obviously this passage of our ritual cannot have come down to us by a word-of-mouth transmission from an epoch earlier than that in which men first believed that a comet was not an augury of evil but a part of the solar system, a body which engaged not in irresponsible evolutions but law-controlled revolutions.
Here the change of a single letter would destroy an approximate date-fixing reference.
Article by: Carl H. Claudy
Carl Harry Claudy (1879 – 1957) was an American author, magazine writer, and journalist for the New York Herald.
His association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a master Mason in lodge Harmony No. 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master in 1932 and eventually served as Grand Master of Masons in the District of Colombia in 1943.
His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The master mason, until 1931.
Under his leadership the service Association was brought to a place of predominance through his authorship and distribution of the short talk bulletin which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.
Recent Articles: by Carl Claudy
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This month in 'Meet the Author' we look at the life and work of Carl H. Claudy, a prolific Masonic author who believed that Masonic education is the foundation for the Fraternity.
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