The North, West, East and South are so called from the Latin cardo, meaning a hinge, because they are the principal points of the compass on which all the others hinge or hang.
Each of them has a symbolic signification in Freemasonry which will be found under their respective heads. Doctor Brinton, in an interesting Treatise on the Symbolism and Mythology of the Red Race of America, has a chapter on the sacred number four; the only one he says, that has any prominence in the religious of the red race, and which he traces to the four cardinal points. The reason, he declares, is to be "found in the adoration of the cardinal points," and he attributes to this cause the prevalence of the cross as a symbol among the aborigines of America, the existence of which so surprised the early missionaries that they "were in doubt whether to ascribe the fact to the pious labors of Saint Thomas or the sacrilegious subtlety of Satan."
The arms of the cross referred to the cardinal points, and represented the four winds, the bringers of rain. The theory is an interesting one, and the author supports it with many ingenious illustrations. In the symbolism of Freemasonry each of the cardinal points has a mystical meaning. The East represents Wisdom ; the west, Strength; the South, Beauty and the North, Darkness.
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