MASONIC SYMBOLS AND EMBLEMS
Masonic emblems in general present an open illustration of various facets of Freemasonry. Pillars, eyes, hour glasses, set squares and compasses; Pyramids, skulls, bones, squares, trowels, tools and arches; the sun, the moon, and many lesser used and very interesting emblems; all play their part and all have their place in the multitudinous mysteries of Masonry.
Most of the emblems illustrate various stages of the induction ceremonies related to different styles and different degrees of the craft. They feature different aspects of the whole pattern of beliefs and objectives which delineate and make this society different from other secret societies. Some emblems refer to different interests within masonry, such as the numerous illustrations of De Molay heraldry, and such esoteric subjects as "The daughters of the Nile" or "Job's daughters". Whereas we find that the best known emblems tend to be pyramids, set squares and compasses, the Eastern Star of the women's group is playing an increasingly important role and these certainly have their place.
Freemasonry itself has its roots in the European tradesman's guilds of the 14th Century. Its roots are similar to other medieval guilds, but in this case with a specific interest in protecting the well-being and the standards of the trade of masonry (so marvelously displayed to us by those incredible monuments of European religious fervor and building skills - the European Cathedrals).
By the 17th Century, membership and interest had gathered pace and the changing character of this secret society indicated a general movement with slowly altering objectives. During the 18th Century it is often associated with the drive for democracy and free theological thought which led up to the French Revolution (1789). With many of its 'secrets' purloined from earlier religions and esoteric beliefs to ride on the back of the original craft ideals, Masonry expanded still further during the 19th and the first half of the 20th Century.
Freemasonry is found throughout the world, in particular in areas where western civilization has been most prevalent. Thus a careful look at the bank notes of Westernized nations (for example the dollar bill) and the edifices outside the banks, government buildings and many professional entities, will reveal hidden or semi hidden Masonic emblems and devices.