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The Past Master Symbol

Bro. Kurt P.M.

2018 14G DCO
Premium Member
The Past Master’s Symbol is a often seen but not so frequently explained Masonic Symbol. It commonly consists of The Compass, Sun, and Quadrant (or Protractor), and in most jurisdictions a Square.

The Compass has a familiar interpretations – for it is by the Compass that a Mason is reminded to keep his actions within due bounds. The Square also has a familiar meaning, for in “Acting on the Square†a Mason conducts himself honestly, with morality and virtue. The Square is the Master’s jewel (a reminder of how he should govern), and is a part of the Past Master’s Symbol as a reminder of the office he held.

The Quadrant is the arc that the compass rests upon, either below or in place of the square on the familiar symbol of the fraternity. The Quadrant shows what angle the Compass is opened at. Symbolically, as every Mason is supposed to use the Compass to keep his actions within due bounds, it is The Quadrant that measures those “due bounds,†and it is the responsibility of the Master of the Lodge to ensure that Masons under his jurisdiction are making proper use of their own Compass. The Quadrant also shows the Compass to be opened to 60 degrees – or the angle of an equilateral triangle, which is a symbol of balance.

The Compass paired with the Quadrant could also be seen as a Sextant – a navigation tool used to measure altitude. The Sextant symbolizes that not only did the Past Master have to navigate the course of his Lodge in the past, but also that he is qualified to do so, should his successors require his advice or assistance.

The Sun represents Light – and the Master of a Lodge is supposed to be a source of Masonic Light. It also signifies that the Past Master has observed the sun at meridian height (the South), setting (the West), and rising (the East).

In the some jurisdictions around the world, The 47th Problem of Euclid Suspended by a Square is used as The Past Master’s Symbol. The 47th Problem of Euclid (also known as the Pythagorean Theorem) is used to prove a square – a vital skill to ancient builders. Suspended by the Square, the symbol represents the knowledge and wisdom that a Past Master has gained from his service to his Lodge and Masonry in general.
 

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jwardl

Registered User
Bro. Kurt:

My lodge (Spring #1174) is having a Past Master's Night this coming week, and I'm helping the WM research relevant material for a small speech. Should he wish to, may he quote your excellent piece, above (with proper credit, of course)?
 

dfreybur

Premium Member
The PM symbol is different in each jurisdiction. Symbolic as you have stated.

California is compasses, Sun and quadrant with no square.

Illinois is compasses, G, square and compasses.

And similar variations jurisdiction to jurisdiction. All similar but differing in details.
 

Warrior1256

Site Benefactor
In Kentucky you can join the Past Maser Association at their first meeting after you are installed as Master of a lodge. The Association also has a ritual for initiation of members. I was installed as Master of my mother lodge this past December and was initiated into the Past Master Association the following month. Last night I attended my first meeting of the PMA as a member. Very interesting and a lot of fun.
 

Bloke

Premium Member
The PM symbol is different in each jurisdiction. Symbolic as you have stated.

California is compasses, Sun and quadrant with no square.

Illinois is compasses, G, square and compasses.

And similar variations jurisdiction to jurisdiction. All similar but differing in details.
The symbol of a Past Master here is the 47th Proposition of Euclid
http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/1901/euclid.html.

Incorporation of the Sun here indicated a Past Grand Master
 

Bloke

Premium Member
Similar here, the Past Master's Jewel is the symbol of the 47th Proposition of Euclid suspended from a square. Traditionally the Lodge gives the Immediate Past Master a PM's Jewel and Apron at the stated meeting after the new officers are installed.
The PM and WM apron here are one in the same - we buy our own when we go into the chair as Master - and can (must) wear it following until promoted into Grand Lodge.

The Jewel here is given at different times, but it is most common to give the outgoing IPM his Past Master's Jewel and the end of his year having acted as IPM - we wrote it into our by-laws. When IPM, he wears a perpetual Jewel.

Here is a sample of one:
http://www.lodgedevotion.net/about-...thing-about-wbro-frank-deveney-pjgd-2011-09-1
 

dfreybur

Premium Member
Under GLoTX, that symbol represents members of the Committee on Work.

It's a cool collections of symbols.

All have to do with various methods of making and testing a square.

We are symbolically squares. We act on the square and/or stand out among the mundanes. So degrees are symbolically making squares with proficiencies symbolically testing squares.
 

Bloke

Premium Member
It's a cool collections of symbols.

All have to do with various methods of making and testing a square.

We are symbolically squares. We act on the square and/or stand out among the mundanes. So degrees are symbolically making squares with proficiencies symbolically testing squares.

HEY !

I AINT NO SQUARE !

I'M A CUBE WHICH JUST NEEDS A BIT MORE WORK !

:)

(but you are completely correct.. but that is why the square and compass is our symbol - the compass allows us to draw circles, a straight edge ruler (within the square) allows us to create a true 90 degree angle and test our square against, and the square to test our ashlar..)
 
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