The staff surmounted by a cross carried before a bishop on occasions of solemn ceremony. They are generally gilt, and made light; frequently of tin, and hollow. The pastoral staff has a circular head.
We can find no symbolism of the cross in the primitive Degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry. It does not appear among the symbols of the Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, the Master, or the Royal Arch. This is undoubtedly to be attributed to the fact that the cross was considered, by those who invented those Degrees, only in reference to its character as a Christian sign. The subsequent archeological investigations that have given to the cross a more universal place in iconography were unknown to the old rituals. It is true, that it is referred to, under the name of the rode or rood, in a manuscript of the fourteenth century, published by Halliwell; this was, however, one of the Constitutions of the Operative Freemasons, who were fond of the symbol, and were indebted for it to their ecclesiastical origin, and to their connection with the Gnosties, among whom the cross was a much used symbol. But on the revival in I7I7, when the ritual was remodified, and differed very greatly from that meager one in practice among the medieval Freemasons, all allusion to the cross was left out, because the revivalists laid down the principle that the religion of Speculative Freemasonry was not sectarian but universal. And although this principle was in some points, as in the lines parallel, neglected, the reticence as to the Christian sign of salvation has continued to the present day so that the cross cannot be considered as a symbol in the primary and original Degrees of Freemasonry. But in the advanced Degrees, the cross has been introduced as an important symbol. In some of them - those which are to be traced to the Temple system of Ramsay-it is to be viewed with reference to its Christian origin and meaning.
Thus, in the original Rose Croix and Kadosh-no matter what may be the modern interpretation given to it-it was simply a representation of the cross of Christ. In others of a philosophical character, such as the ineffable Degrees, the symbolism of the cross was in all probability borrowed from the usages of antiquity, for from the earliest times and in almost all countries the cross has been a sacred symbol.
It is depicted on the oldest monuments of Egypt, Assyria, Persia, and Hindustan.
It was, says Faber (Mysteries of the Cabiri 11, 390), a symbol throughout the Pagan world long previous to its becoming an object of veneration to Christians.
In ancient symbology it was a symbol of eternal life.
M. de Mortillet, who, in 1866, published a work entitled Le Signe de la Croix avant le Christianism (The Sign of the Cross before Christianity), found in the very earliest epochs three principal symbols of universal occurrence: namely, the circle, the pyramid, and the cross. Leslie (Man's 0rigin and Destiny, page 312) quoting from him in reference to the ancient worship of the cross, says: "It seems to have been a worship of such a peculiar nature as to exclude the worship of idols." This sacredness of the crucial symbol may be one reason why its form was often adopted, especially by the Celts, in the construction of their temples.
Of the Druidical veneration of the cross, Higgins quotes from the treatise of Schedius, De Moribus Germanorum xxiv, the following remarkable paragraph:
The Druids seek studiously for an oak tree, large and handsome, growing up with two principal arms in the form of a cross, beside the main, upright stem. If the two horizontal arms are not sufficiently adapted to the figure, they fasten a cross beam to it. This tree they consecrate in this manner. Upon the right. branch they cut in the bark, in fair characters, the word Hesus; upon the middle or upright stem, the word Taramis; upon the left branch, Belenus; over this, above the going off of the arms, they cut the name of God, Thau. Under all the same repeated, Thau. This tree, so inscribed, they make their kebla in the grove, cathedral, or summer church, towards which they direct their faces in the offices of religion.
Brinton, in his interesting work entitled Symbolism; The Myths of the New World (page 95) has the following remarks:
The symbol that beyond all others has fascinated the human mind, the cross, finds here its source and meaning. Scholars have pointed out its sacredness in many natural religions, and have reverently accepted it as a mystery, or offered scores of conflicting, and often debasing interpretations. it is but another symbol of the four cardinal points, the four winds of heaven. This will luminously appear by a study of its use and meaning in America.
Brinton gives many instances of the religious use of the cross by several of the aboriginal tribes of this continent, where the allusion, it must be confessed, seems evidently to be to the four cardinal points, or the four winds, or four spirits of the earth. If this be so, and if it is probable that a similar reference was adopted by the Celtic and other ancient peoples, then we would have in the cruciform temple as much a symbolism of the world, of which the four cardinal points constitute the boundaries, as we have in the square, the cubical, and the circular.
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