by Jay R Snyder, MM
Freemasonry uses a symbol system of stone-masons' tools to teach allegorical secrets. These masons' tool symbols are also analog symbols of sequential processes used in the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). The science of metrology (measurements) has been recorded on bone, stone, ivory, abri, and cavern walls for a very long time - measurements of time, distance, weights, volume, and direction. Some analog secrets are lost secrets, either lost to remembrance or destruction; or, secrets can be revealed. Knowledge that we all share today was, once upon a time, a well guarded secret, and for good reason. The knowledge of measuring the elements was a distinct advantage, used for surviving the ice ages by maintaining order and nurturing newborns. Without it they all would perish. Calendars and maps were imperative for knowing when and where to acquire the necessary materials for weaving, food, housing, and child care, yet we hardly ever hear of the contributions women made to our survival as a species when temps were 50° below zero.
Writings of 14,500 years ago tell of continental language and measurement systems in place before the last ice age of Dryas II, and most everything was recorded by women. The skills necessary to provide clothing and care for children is an all-encompassing task in an iron-cold ice age. Most records are of cardinals depicting the process of providing adequate textiles - and these nearly surpass the numbers of records about providing the raw materials. Today's basic necessities of human life were still basic necessities for all these hundreds of twenty-year generations. Births require eternal vigilance, creating needs and purpose for provision. I dare say love as we know it is alive and well no matter what the climate - and surviving the Elements is always the key to success. Women have been teaching grammar, rhetoric, logic, medicine, and trades to their children all along. Therefore, brothers, "women and children first."
The heavens were observed as being the same everywhere, and the only constant from which any measure could be calculated. Calendars etched in bone found in Bilzingsleben, Germany are dated to 350,000 BC. Recently discovered networks of ancient language and measurements stretch for thousands of miles across land and sea. Trading requires knowing weights and measures, and traveling means knowing times, distance, and direction. Rightly dividing a Circumpunct (or a sphere) by angles from its center point (being the observer) is the secret of navigation. Masters of metrology were able to travel great distances using calendars and maps, and knew how to return with valuable materials in time for winter preparations. Travelling with materials for trade provides a variety of advantages for a local clans' survival. Common knowledge of astronomy was essential for each one's survival during an ice age.
There are dozens of ancient observatory sites, strategically and sequentially connected, from Iberia to the Urals, south through Mesopotamia and Palestine into Egypt, across Africa to Morocco, including the Azores - with their engineering secrets lost. A giant stone observatory was recently excavated at Gobekli Tepe, Turkey (1998) that had been buried since c. 7800 BC to conceal its location. Stone masons provided the tools and measurements for building great observatories from which to develop continental utilities for their industries. Stones provide a benchmark to the heavens, and the heavens in return provide the measures. Stones that are level (Baalbek) provide a constant horizon from which to measure, stones that are plumb (menhirs) provide a gauge of elevation, and parallel pillars measure the passing of stars (time).
A complete set of tools is essential for three-dimensional observations; symbols of them surround Freemasons. While the compass, the level, and the square measure two-dimensions (x, y), the plumb adds the third "z-axis" to define space (x, y, z). Square is toward the east at 90°, and is the first of four equally-measured points around the proof of the compass. The south is plumb, opposite the north (zenith), and at 180° it is the perpendicular "axis mundi" of the geological and celestial spheres. West is level, opposite the east at 270°, and north is placed in darkness at 0°, cycling around in a royal arch between Polaris (Ursa Minor) and Deneb (Cygnus) every 13,000 years.
Freemasonry formed within the past few centuries, but the tools stone masons used for an entire Great Year formed the foundations our world, and survive today as symbols in Freemasonic ritual. These measurement-system secrets have been passed on to us by symbols and oral traditions, and we are charged to preserve them for the next generation. Old generations provide foundations that new generations may improve, from wooden observatories to stone, from analog to digital, from earth to the moon and back, and may soon bring us to the very stars we've measured since long ago.
Jay R Snyder, MM Meridian Lodge, Natick, MA
Editor of Ice Age Language: Translations, Grammar, Vocabulary.