The most recognized Freemason symbol is the square and compass with the letter ‘G’ in the middle.
This double-headed eagle symbol represents the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. With wings spread to give flight, one head looks back to see where you have been and the other looks ahead to see where you are going.
The number 32 inside the triangle represents the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite known as the Master of the Royal Secret.
The Latin motto, Spes mea in Deo est, means My hope is in God.
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death
Horseman, pass by. W.B.Yeats
The eye represented on headstones is a gateway between this world and the next, and symbolizes the all-knowing God. The icon is a Freemasonry (Masonic) symbol.
The eye within the clouds is a very early Masonic symbol.
When the eye is enclosed within a triangle it represents the Holy Trinity, and when also surrounded by a circle it symbolizes the eternity of the Holy Trinity.
Radiating rays of light surrounding the eye, or the eye placed within a sunburst symbolizes the holiness of the true God.
The sunburst eye is a reminder to Masons that their actions and deeds are observed as referenced in the Proverbs. (Prov. 5:21) ‘the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings’; and in (Prov. 13:3) ‘the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good’.
The carving below shows the All Seeing Eye of God, two hands clasped in farewell, and a chain with a broken link which symbolizes the death of a family member.
The all-seeing eye symbol is also associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The letters F, L and T within the chain links stand for Friendship, Love, and Truth.
This gravestone belongs to a member of the Orange Order reflected in the unusual iconography containing several symbols including the Eye of Providence.
The snake is a symbol of everlasting life, the arch is the passageway to Heaven, and the 5 pointed star represents the spirit rising to Heaven. The fraction beneath the arch is an emblem used by the Orange Order.
There are several versions of this sculpture containing different components which have been related to mythology, Judaism and Christianity; yet it is ultimately a Masonic carving. It symbolizes that time, patience and perseverance will accomplish all things. The most common symbols are Father Time, a Virgin, a broken column, an urn, a sprig of acacia, and a book, all of which rest on the top level of three steps.
Father Time is most often depicted as an old man with long hair and beard, and a pair of wings. A scythe and hourglass are symbols associated with him. The scythe represents the Divine harvest and the hourglass denotes that the sands of time bring us closer to death. As the scythe cuts the harvest, so life is ended by Father Time. He stands behind a virgin (or young woman) attempting to untangle the ringlets of her hair. It symbolizes that with time and perseverance all things can be accomplished.
The mythological Goddess Rhea is represented by a virgin or weeping woman who grieves over the loss of a loved one. Symbols differ in sculptures, the most common being an urn in her left hand and a sprig of acacia in her right hand. Acacia is an evergreen and represents the immortality of the soul. The urn is a symbol of death and was used to collect tears of the mourners. It is often shown resting on a book symbolic of the Book of Life where names of the righteous were recorded to ensure entry into Heaven.
Other representations show the virgin holding a scroll which is a symbol of life. She can also be found holding a chisel or a mallet. She stands before a sundered column symbolic of a life cut short. (A column or pillar was often used by the Hebrews to symbolize rulers or nobles.)
In Freemasonry, a summary of the sculpture relates the following.
The broken column denotes the untimely death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff.
The beautiful Virgin, weeping, denotes the unfinished Temple.
The book open before her, displays that his virtues are on perpetual record.
The sprig of acacia in her right hand, represents the timely discovery of his body.
The urn in her left, that his ashes were there safely deposited to perpetuate the remembrance of so distinguished a character.
Father Time standing behind her unfolding the ringlets of her hair denotes that time, patience and perseverance will accomplish all things.