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Point Within a Circle

As knowledge of the customs of gilds, fraternities, churches, and of popular customs in the Middle Ages is increased it becomes ever more evident that the two Sts. John Days were in everybody's mind the two fixed points of the year, and that where we measure time in our minds from New Year's Day (St. John the Evangelist's Day was equivalent to it) they measured it from two extremes, one the shortest day in winter, the other the longest day in summer.

The early prominence of these two Days in Masonic customs need not there fore mean that the days were chosen for their religious significance; it rather may mean that they were chosen for their convenience as a calendar. It is doubt ful if Masons ever thought of the Sts. John as their Patron Saints until a late period; from the records of the Mason Companies (as noted on another page in this Supplement), some of them took St. Thomas as their Patron. The Monitorial Lectures make it plain that the two Parallel Lines represent the Sts. John Evangelist and Baptist, not in their theological significance but in their sense as a calendar; the days named after those, Saints, rather than the Saints themselves, are denoted.

Since those days were the two extremes of the year, the sun is correctly represented as swinging in its circuit between them, for it cannot move south this side of the fixed point of the day named for the Evangelist nor go north beyond the fixed point of the day represented by the Baptist. The two days are the limits of its circle, therefore the circle is shone set between the lines. The Point Within the Circle represents the year, a year of work, a year out of a man's life; at least it does if the history of its use is a true guide to its symbolic meaning. To follow that guide is not to narrow the symbolism down to a mere fact in the calendar, but is to canalize it, and to hold it fast to its Masonic meaning, lest commentators wander off into regions that have no connection with Freemasonry.

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