All-Seeing Eye

The All-Seeing Eye of God, also known as the Eye of Providence, is a representation of the divine providence in which the eye of God watches over humanity.

It frequently portrays an eye that is enclosed in a triangle and surrounded by rays of light or splendour.

Given its widespread recognition as a symbol, the Eye of Providence has significance in the study of iconography and semiotics.

The reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which is shown on the one-dollar bill, features this well-known illustration.


Original design for the Great Seal of the United States by Pierre Simitiere
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Eye of Providence was included in the symbolism used on the back of the United States Great Seal in 1782.

It is said to have been the idea of the artistic consultant, Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, and at the time was a traditional emblem for God’s beneficent supervision.

It was first presented as a part of the Great Seal by the first of three design committees in 1776.

Du Simitiere represented each of the original thirteen states of the Union by placing the Eye above shields in his initial submission to the committee.

The Eye is positioned above a thirteen-step incomplete pyramid (again representing the founding States but also including the nation’s potential for future growth) on the seal that would ultimately be authorised.

The motto “Annuit cœptis”, which translates to “He approves [our] undertakings,” (or “has approved”) that appears above the Eye provides an explanation for this symbology .




Supper at Emmaus by Jacopo Pontormo – (Pontormo, Cena in Emmaus)
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Christianity uses the image of an eye to symbolise the idea of divine providence. The Eye, which was enclosed in a triangle in late Renaissance European imagery, was a clear representation of the Christian Holy Trinity.

In Pontormo’s Supper at Emmaus from 1525, the Eye of Providence was later painted atop a representation of three faces.

The Eye is occasionally shown in the seventeenth century as being encircled by clouds or sunbursts.

Church architecture and Christian art still use the Eye of God in a triangle to represent the Trinity, God’s omnipresence, and divine providence.


The Eye of Providence, which is frequently linked with Freemasonry today, originally appeared in 1797 with the publication of Thomas Smith Webb’s The Freemason’s Monitor and became a staple of Freemason iconography.

In this application, the Eye, symbolising the all-seeing eye of God, serves as a reminder that God, who is referred to in Masonry as the Great Architect of the Universe, is always aware of humankind’s thoughts and acts.

The Masonic Eye of Providence frequently has a semi-circular splendour beneath it and is occasionally encircled by a triangle.

The idea that the Eye of Providence depicted atop an incomplete pyramid on the United States’ Great Seal proves that Freemasonry played a role in the country’s formation is a common one among conspiracy theorists.

The Eye was first used in Masonry 14 years after the Great Seal was made, though.

Benjamin Franklin was the lone Mason among the individuals who served on the numerous design committees for the Great Seal, and his suggestions for the seal were rejected.

Likewise, a number of Masonic groups have categorically denied having any involvement in the Seal’s development.

The All-Seeing Eye

Mackey had the support of the Masonic students of his generation at the time (about 1870) and saw the All-Seeing Eye as a representation of God’s omniscience.

It is unlikely that that interpretation can be supported by Masonic history, but it is undeniably sound in the sense that it represents the logical endpoint toward which any other plausible interpretation may be pursued.

The symbol (and it is a symbol!) is almost completely unknown; it was never the subject of the studies on which this Supplement is based, and if any researcher has discovered any reliable information about the symbol’s origin, it must be buried in a book that is significantly more obscure than the average.

Several factors based on previously published information shed some light on the issue:


Lodges were small, friendly, and worked while seated around their dining table during the lengthy period of the Ritual’s formation from approximately 1717 to approximately 1770.

They were serious and reverent, and the vast majority of Masons belonged to a church, but they were neither theological nor mystical, and they instinctively shrank from anything that bordered too closely upon the province of the Church.

Since those Lodges tended to shy away from theology, it is wise to interpret symbols on their tracing boards without first presuming a theological connotation.

Prior to 1717, Freemasonry retreated even further from it. They were a brotherhood or fraternity carrying on the building trade’s traditions, and they were never aware of their place in religious tradition.

Since they are characteristics of man by nature and are present everywhere, solemnity, seriousness, symbolism, and ritualism are not indicative of religion.

It does not follow that the early Speculative Masons utilised the All-Seeing Eye as a religious symbol, even though it is one of the symbols used in religion.


The All-Seeing Eye might have represented the Omniscience of God. Additionally, it may have represented any one or more of the other five or six truths or concepts.

According to Shakespeare and other writers, it may have originally meant the sun because it rose at dawn.

It may have referred to the Grand Master or the Worshipful Master and served as a reminder that, wherever a man may be and whatever he may be doing, the Craft is keeping an eye on him since he is still a Mason.

Alternatively, it could have been the Tracing Board portrayal of the Blazing Star in the Tessellated Pavement, in which case it would have represented the sun, or day-star, which shines continuously day and night.

It could also have stood for enlightenment, wisdom, and intellect. (Note: Because the day begins before the sun appears and continues after it has set, most folks could not perceive any required relationship between daylight and the sun until modern astronomy made a number of its complex truths familiar to everyone.)

In addition to the omnisciences known to theology and metaphysics, there are many others, such as the omniscience of the law, the omniscience of the government, which keeps an eye on every citizen, etc. Just because the first Freemasons had a symbol for omniscience does not necessarily mean that they meant the Divine Omniscience.


It does not follow that their emblem, if it represented the Divine Omniscience, would have been depressing to them, as if it were only there to prepare them for the last Judgment Day.

Omniscience may inspect a person in order to reward them for virtues they have attempted to conceal rather than condemn them for faults they have committed.

Another symbol that should not have a sombre meaning is the sword pointing at the naked heart. Instead, it should have a joyous meaning because when justice finds out everyone’s heart, it signifies that people have security, live in civil order, and can therefore be happy.

We could use the All-Seeing Eye as a representation of the Divine Omniscience and at the same time, we could use it to represent the Fraternity’s own omniscience (the word need not be defined as absolutely as many think it should) in the sense that it never loses sight of a man once he joins, even if he doesn’t go to Lodge, is confined at home due to illness or an accident, or has moved away.





Wikipedia contributors, “Eye of Providence,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 24, 2023).

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