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The eagle, as a symbol, is of great antiquity. In Egypt, Greece, and Persia, this bird was sacred to the sun. Among the Pagans it was an emblem of Jupiter, and with the Druids it was a symbol of their supreme god. In the Scriptures, a distinguished reference is in many instances made to the eagle; especially do we find Moses (Exodus xix, 4) representing Jehovah as saying, in allusion to the belief that this bird assists its feeble young in their flight by bearing them upon its own pinions, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." Not less elevated was the symbolism of the eagle among the Pagans. Thus, Cicero, speaking of the myth of Ganymede carried up to Jove on an eagle's back, says that it teaches us that the truly wise, irradiated by the shining light of virtue, become more and more like God, until by wisdom they are borne aloft and soar to Him. The heralds explain the eagle as signifying the same thing among birds as the lion does among quadrupeds. It is, they say, the most swift, strong, laborious, generous, and bold of all birds, and for this reason it has been made, both by ancients and moderns, the symbol of majesty. In the jewel of the Rose Croix Degree is found an eagle displayed at the foot of the cross; and it is there very appropriately selected as a symbol of Christ, in His Divine character, bearing the children of His adoption on His wings, teaching them with unequaled love and tenderness to poise their unfledged wings and soar from the dull corruption’s of earth to a higher and holier sphere. Thus the eagle in the jewel of that Degree is significantly represented with wings displayed as if in flight.
See Knights of the Eagle and Pelican.
The Eagle Displayed, that is, with extended wings, as if in the act of dying, has always, from the majestic character of the bird, been deemed an emblem of imperial power. Marius, the consul, first consecrated the eagle, about eight years before the Christian era, to be the sole Roman standard at the head of every legion, and hence it became the standard of the Roman Empire ever afterward.
As the single-headed Eagle was thus adopted as the symbol of imperial power, the doubleheaded Eagle naturally became the representative of a double empire; and on the division of the Roman dominions into the eastern and western empire, which were afterward consolidated by the Carlovingian race into what was ever after called the Holy Roman Empire, the double-headed Eagle was assumed as the emblem of this double empire; one head looking, as it were, to the West, or Rome, and the other to the East, or Byzantium.
Hence the escutcheons of many persons now living, the descendants of the princes and counts of the Holy Roman Empire, are placed upon the breast of a double-headed Eagle Upon the dissolution of that empire, the emperors of Germany, who claimed their empire to be the representative of ancient Rome, assumed the doubleheaded Eagle as their symbol, and placed it in their arms, which were blazoned thus: or, an Eagle displayed sable, having two heads, each enclosed within an amulet, or beaked and armed Jules, holding in his right claw a sword and scepter or, and in his left the imperial mound. Russia also bears the double-headed eagle, having added, says Brewer, that of Poland to her own, and thus denoting a double empire. It is, however, probable that the double-headed eagle of Russia is to be traced to some assumed representation of the Holy Roman Empire based upon the claim of Russia to Byzantium; for Constantine, the Byzantine emperor, is said to have been the first who assumed this device to intimate the division of the empire into East and West.
Commenting on this suggestion by Doctor Mackey, Brother David E. W. Williamson writes that: There is no historical question whatever as to the time and occasion of the adoption of the double-headed eagle by Russia. It was taken as his device by Ivan III on his marriage with Zoe Palaeologa (Sophia), daughter of Thomas of Morea claimant to the imperial throne of Byzantium, and the date was 1469. It was probably because he claimed to be the successor of the Eastern Emperors. As to the adoption of the device in the West. I have no original authorities, but it is stated that it is first seen in the Holy Roman arms in 1345 and it is a fact that it first appears on the seals of the Holy Roman Empire in 1414. The legend of how it came to be adopted by the Emperors at Constantinople may or may not be true, but it is certainly not correct to say that the Seljuk Turks adopted it from the ruins of Euyuk, for Tatar coins antedating the occupation of the Asia Minor country by the Seljuks have been found. As to the device at Euyuk, it is not the most ancient representation of the double-headed eagle by any means if the figure of a comb, No. 10, plate XXIX, in Petriess Prehistoric Egypt, be, as I think it is, an attempt to carve it.
The statement of Millington (Heraldry in History, Poetry, and Romanec, page 290) is doubtful that the doubleheaded eagle of the Austrian and Russian empires was first assumed during the Second Crusade and typified the great alliance formed by the Christian sovereigns of Greece and Germany against the enemy of their common faith, and it is retained by Russia and Austria as representations of those empires." The theory is more probable as well as more generally accepted which connects the symbol with the eastern and western empires of Rome. It is, however, agreed by all that while the single-headed eagle denotes imperial dignity the extension and multiplication of that dignity is symbolized by the two heads.
The double-headed eagle was probably first introduced as a symbol into Freemasonry in the year 1758. In that year the Body calling itself the Council of Emperors of the East and West was established in Paris. The double-headed eagle as likely to have been assumed by this Council in reference to the double Jurisdiction which it claimed, and which is represented so distinctly in its title.
The jewel of the Thirty-third Degree, or Sovereign Grand Inspector-General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, is a double-headed eagle (which was originally black. but is now generally of silver), a golden crown resting on both heady wings displayed, beak and claws of gold, his talons grasping a wavy sword, the emblem of cherubic fire, the hilt held by one talon, the blade by the other. The banner of the Order is also a double-headed eagle crowned. A captivating account of the curious progress of the double-headed eagle from a remote antiquity was prepared by Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, pages 214, volume xxiv, 1911). This essay in part runs as follows:
The most ornamental, not to say the most ostentatious feature of the insignia of the Supreme Council, 33°, of the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite, is the double-headed eagle, surmounted by an imperial crown. This device seems to have been adopted some time after 175S by the grade known as the Emperors of the East and West; a sufficiently pretentious title. This seems to have been its first appearance in connection with Freemasonry, but history of the high grades has been subjected to such distortion that it is difficult to accept unreservedly any assertion put forward regarding them. From this imperial grade, the double-headed eagle came to the "Sovereign Prince Masons" of the Rite of Perfection. The Rite of Perfection with its twenty-five Degrees was amplified in 1801, at Charleston, United States of America, into the Ancient and Accepted Rite of 33°, with the double-headed eagle for its most distinctive emblem. When this emblem was first adopted by the high grades it had been in use as a symbol of power for 5000 years, or so. No heraldic bearing, no emblematic device anywhere today can boast such antiquity. It was in use a thousand years before the Exodus from Egypt, and more than 2000 years before the building of King Solomon’s Temple.
The story of our Eagle has been told by the eminent Assyriologist, M. Thureau Dangin, in the volume of Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie 1904. Among the most important discoveries for which we are indebted to the late M. de Sarzec, were two large terra cotta cylinders covered with many hundred lines of archaic cuneiform characters These cylinders were found in the brick mounds of Tello, which has been identified with certainty as the City of Lagash, the dominant center of Southern Babylonian ere Babylon had imposed its name and rule on the country.
The cylinders are now in the Louvre and have been deciphered by M. Thureau Dangin, who displays to our wondering eyes the emblem of power that was already centuries old when Babylon gave its name to Babylonia. The cylinder in question is a foundation record deposited by one Gudea, Ruler of the City of Lagash, to mark the building of the temple, about the year 3000 B.C-, as nearly as the date could be fixed. The foundation record was deposited just as our medals, coins and metallic plates are deposited today, when the corner stone is laid with Masonic honors. It must be born in mind that in this ease, the word cornerstone may be employed only in a conventional sense, for in Babylonia all edifices, temples, palaces, and towers alike, were built of brick. But the custom of laying foundation deposits was general, whatever the building material might be, and we shall presently see what functions are attributed, by another eminent scholar, to the foundation chamber of King Solomon's Temple.
The contents of this inscription are of the utmost value to the oriental scholar, but may be briefly dismissed for our present purpose. Suffice it to say, that the King begins by reciting that a great drought had fallen upon the land. " The waters of the Tigris," he says, " fell low and the store of provender ran short in this my city," saying that he feared it was 3 visitation from the gods, to whom he determined to submit his evil ease and that of his people. The reader familiar with Babylonian methods that pervade the Books of the Captivity, will not be surprised to learn that the King dreamed a dream, in which the will of the gods was revealed by direct personal intervention and interlocution. In the dream there came unto the King " a Divine Man, whose stature reached from earth to heaven, and whose head was crowned with the crown of a god, surmounted by the Storm Bird that extended its wings over Lazash, the land thereof." This Storm Bird, no other than our double-headed eagle, was the totem as ethnologists and anthropologists are fain to call it, of the mighty Sumerian City of Lagash, and stood proudly forth the visible emblem of its power and domination. This doubel-headed eagle of Lagash is the oldest Royal Crest in the world.
As time rolled on, it passed from the Sumerians to the men of Akhad. From the men of Akhad to the Hittites , from the denizens of Asia Minor to the Seliukian Sultans, from whom it was brought by Crusaders to the Emperors of the East and lVest, whose successors today are the Hapsburgs and Romanoffs, as well as to the Masonic Emperors of the East and West, whose successors today are the Supreme Council, 33°, that have inherited the insignia of the Site of Perfection.
See Knight of the Eagle.
See Knight of the American Eagle.
See Knight of theBlackEagle.
See Knight of theGoldenEagle
See Knight of the Prussian Eagle.
See Knight of the Red Eagle.
See Knight of the White and Black Eagle.
See Knight of the Two Crowned Eagles.
See E. G. M. in Abbreviations.
This was, among all the ancients , an emblem of plenty. Ceres, who was universally worshiped as the goddess of abundance, and even called by the Greeks Dewneter, a manifest corruption of Gemeter, or Mother Earth, was symbolically represented with a garland on her head composed of ears of corn, a lighted torch in one hand, and a cluster of poppies and ears of corn in the other. In the Hebrew, the most significant of all languages, the two words, which signify an ear of corn, are both derived from roots which give the idea of abundance. For shibboleth, pronounced shib-bo'-leth which is applicable both to an ear of corn and a flood of water, has its root in . pronounced shib-bole, meaning to increase or to flow abundantly; and the other name of corn, , pronounced daw-gawn', is derived from the verb , no, pronounced daogaw', signifying to multiply, or to be increased.
Ear of corn, which is a technical expression in Freemasonry, has been sometimes ignorantly displaced by a sheaf of wheat. This was done under the mistaken supposition that corn refers only to Indian maize, which was unknown to the ancients. But corn is a generic word, and includes wheat and every other kind of grain. This is its legitimate English meaning, and hence an ear of corn, which is an old expression, and the right one, would denote a stalk, but not a sheaf of wheat (see Shibboleth).
The listening ear is one of the three precious jewels of a Fellow Craft Freemason. In the Hebrew language, the verb YDD, pronounced shaw-mah', signifies not only to hear, but also to understand and to obey. Hence, when Jesus said, after a parable, "he that hath ears to hear, let him hear," he meant to denote that he who hears the recital of allegories should endeavor to discover their hidden meaning, and be obedient to their teaching.
This is the true meaning of the symbol of the listening ear which admonishes the Fellow Craft not only that he should receive lessons of instruction from his teacher, but that he should treasure them in his breast, so as to ponder over their meaning and carry out their design
In the lectures of the early part of the eighteenth century used as a symbol of zeal, together with chalk and charcoal, which represented freedom and fervency. In the modern lectures clay has been substituted for it. Pan once signified hard earth, a meaning which it now obsolete, though from it we derive the name of a cooking utensil.
The East has always been considered peculiarly sacred. This was, without exception, the case in all the Ancient Mysteries. In the Egyptianrites, especially, and those of Adonis, which were among the earliest, and from which the others derived their existence, the sun was the object of adoration, and his revolutions through the various seasons were fictitiously represented. The spot, there fore, where this luminary made his appearance at the commencement of day, and where his worshipers were wont anxiously to look for the first darting of his prolific rays, was esteemed as the figurative birthplace of their god, and honored with an appropriate degree of reverence.
Even among those nations where sun-worship gave place to more enlightened doctrines, the respect for the place of sun-rising continued to exist. The camp of Judah was placed by Moses in the East as a mark of distinction; the tabernacle in the wilderness was placed due East and West; and the practise was continued in the erection of Christian churches. Hence, too, the primitive Christians always turned toward the East in their public prayers, which custom Saint Augustine (Serm. Dom. in Monte, chapter 5) accounts for "because the East is the most honorable part of the world, being the region of light whence the glorious sun arises." Hence all Masonic Lodges, like their great prototype the Temple of Jerusalem, are built, or supposed to be built, due East and West; and as the North is esteemed a place of darkness, the East, on the contrary, is considered a place of light.
In the primitive Christian church, according to Saint Ambrose, in the ceremonies that accompanied the baptism of a catechumen, a beginner in religious instruction, "he turned towards the West, the image of darkness, to abjure the world, and towards the East, the emblem of light, to denote his alliance with Jesus Christ." And so, too, in the oldest lectures of the second century ago, the Freemason is said to travel from the West to the East, that is, from dark ness to light. In the Prestonian system, the question is asked, "What induces you to leave the West to travel to the East?" And the answer is: "In search of a Master, and from him to gain instruction." The same idea, if not precisely the same language, is preserved in the modern and existing rituals.
The East, being the place where the Master sits, is considered the most honorable part of the Lodge, and is distinguished from the rest of the room by a dais, or raised platform, which is occupied only by those who have passed the Chair. Bazot (Manuel, page 154) says: "The veneration which Masons have for the East confirms the theory that it is from the East that the Masonic cult proceeded, and that this bears a relation to the primitive religion whose first degeneration was sun-worship."
see Knight of the East and West.
The place where a Grand Lodge holds its Communications, and whence are issued its Edicts, is often called its Grand East. Thus, the Grand East of Boston, according to this usage, would be placed at the head of documents emanating from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Grand Orient has sometimes been used instead of Grand East, but improperly. Orient might be admissible as signifying East, but Grand Orient having been adopted as the name of certain Grand Bodies, such as the Grand Orient of France, which is tantamount to the Grand Lodge of France, the use of the term might lead to confusion. Thus, the Orient of Paris is the seat of the Grand Orient of France. The expression Grand East, however, is almost exclusively confined to America, and even there is not in universal use.
See India.
See Knight of the East.
Easter Sunday, being the day celebrated by the Christian church in commemoration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, is appropriately kept as a feast day by Rose Croix Freemasons. The Western churches, or those not identified with the Jewish race, generally keep Easter as the first day of Holy Week following the Friday of the crucifixion, while the Eastern churches as a rule keep Easter as the fourteenth day of April, immediately following the general fast. With the Jews, the Christian thought of Easter bears significant resemblance to the Paschal Lamb. Easter signifies to the entire Western Christian world the resurrection of the Christ, the name being derived from the Latin pascha which, in turn, came from the Chaldee or Aramaean form for the Hebrew word meaning Pass-over (see Exodus, xii, 27).
According to Bede the name is derived from Eostre or Ostara, the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Eostur monath or our month of April was also dedicated to this goddess. The German name for Easter is astern, named after this self-same goddess of Spring, the Teutonic Ostera. The New Testament makes no mention of an observance of Easter. The first Christians did not have special days held more sanctified than the rest. As has been written (Ecclesiastical History, Socrates v, 22), "The apostles had no thought of appointing festival days, but of promoting a life of blamelessness and piety."
For centuries the controversy as to just exactly what day was to be held as Easter went on between the various sects. Easter day is, briefly, the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. This varies in different longitudes and this difficulty presented many problems to the clergy and the astronomers. About the year 325 it was decided by the Council of Nicaea, called by Constantine, that the correct date of Easter was to be reckoned at Alexandria and announced each year to the churches under the jurisdiction of that See by the Bishop him self. This was to be communicated to the Roman See.
A bitter controversy ensued. Many refused to accept this solution of the difficulty, insisting upon the observance of the fourteenth day. Attempts were made to compute by means of cycles of years the correct time. At first an eight years' cycle was adopted, then the eighty-four year cycle of the Jews, and after much reckoning a cycle of nineteen years was accepted.
Offing to the lack of anything definite Saint Augustine tells us that in the year 387 Easter was kept on March 21 by the churches of Gaul, on April 18 in Italy and on April 25 in Egypt. The ancient Celtic and British Churches adhered stubbornly to the finding of the Council of Constantine and received their instructions from the Holy See at Rome. Saint Augustine of Canterbury led the opposing group and this difference of opinion had the effect in England of a Church holding Easter on one day of certain years and the other Church holding Easter on an entirely different Sunday. Bede tells us that between the y ears 645 and 651 Queen Eanfleda fasted and kept Palm Sunday while her husband, Oswy, then King of Northumbria, followed the rule of the British Church and celebrated the Easter festival.
In 669 this difference of opinion was ended in England, due probably to the efforts of Archbishop Theodore In 1752 the Gregorian reformation of the calendar was adopted by Great Britain and Ireland. Easter at present is the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the 21st of March, and if the full moon happens on a Sunday, Faster day is the Sunday after. By full moon is meant, the fourteenth day of the moon.
The ceremonies of the Easter Sepulcher are discussed in Scenic Representations, which see.
On this day, in every third year, Councils of Kadosh in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite hold their elections.

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