Know ye that you are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”...Corinthians 3:16
I have now quoted the bible twice, do not think because I have used verses from a book, a very symbolic book, that I am pontificating or putting forth a certain belief system that many attribute to this book, that would be wrong. I am old enough and wise enough to see the highly symbolic nature of what is written in this book is the story of a Temple built historically, allegorically, and symbolically. To take this book literally would be a mistake, a mistake that has already caused way to much suffering.
The Temple builders of old spoke in a language that resonated with other builders, architects that thought outside the collective, the language of symbols.
Temple building symbols could and would be spoken and interpreted universally, culturally, and personally, and sometimes veiled from the ignorant for the obvious reasons, ignorance and superstition.
“Freely” these Temple Builders would consider the work, blueprints, designs, and temples of others, while ever so thoughtfully constructing their own.It should always be remembered that no two Temples occupy the same space nor face the sun at the same longitude and latitude.
In the history of temple building many looked towards the heavens, the Grand Design and attempted to copy the order and harmony here on earth. Just as there are many vistas to look above at the Grand Design, the creator has been given many names, the Temple I belong to happens to use “The Great Architect of the Universe”, the perfect title for a Temple Builder.
"God, Who is the first principle of all things, may be compared to things created as the architect is to things designed (ut artifex ad artificiata)." ...Saint Thomas Aquinas
“God the Father, the supreme Architect, had already built this cosmic home we behold, the most sacred temple of His Godhead, by the laws of His mysterious wisdom.”... Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
Temple Builders have their own vocabulary, created to protect much of their wisdom from the ears and the eyes of the ignorant, Matthew summed it up when he said “cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
I assure you there are many types of Temples. The first I would like to discuss is the physical, and in doing so I hope to introduce you to the vocabulary and symbolism often used by the Temple Builder.
I pray the symbols I am about to introduce you to will open up your mind to new levels of understanding and thus allow you to become a Temple Builder yourself.
There are many physical temples that have been the subject of great debates, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the massive temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the gigantic complex of Borobudur in the jungle of Java, and the mysterious Mayan temple ruins deep within the Yucatan, to name a few.
All geometrically designed, all highly symbolic, much of their meaning found in the heavens above.
As a Temple Builder of a certain school of thought, known by some as “Solomon's Builders”, I have been privy to the cipher of the often veiled language of the Temple Builder.
Allow me to share some facts; Temple Builders speak in a language that is veiled in symbols, symbols that can and usually do have many levels of interpretation. Each and every symbol must be looked at universally, culturally, and personally, and all the various possible combinations, not an easy task if your unfamiliar with the symbols, but not impossible.
Consider a map, a reduced representation of the real world, where map symbols are used to represent real objects. Without symbols, we wouldn't have maps.
Both shapes and colors can be used for symbols on maps. A small circle may mean a point of interest, with a brown circle meaning recreation, red circle meaning services, and green circle meaning rest stop. Colors may cover larger areas of a map, such as green representing forested land and blue representing waterways. To ensure that a person can correctly read a map, a Map Legend is a key to all the symbols used on a map. It is like a dictionary so you can understand the meaning of what the map represents. The Temple I belong to uses the “Map Legend”, or symbolic language attributed to Pythagoras, an old Greek philosopher that taught numbers had a numerical and symbolic meaning, and taught what is now call “Sacred Geometry”, a metaphysical science he is rumored to have studied in Egypt.
Allow me to share with you a break down of the symbolism of a Temple I am very sure you are familiar with, The Great Pyramid of Giza, a highly symbolic Temple that can and has been interpreted on many levels.
As a Temple Builder we have been taught not to necessarily take things at face value, we tend to look behind the veil. Now lets try a mental experiment; each and every American is familiar with the pyramid pictured on the dollar bill of Masonic origin, and all its nonsensical allusions. On the top of the 13 story pyramid is the “Eye of Providence”, similar to the Eye of Horus. Now picture this symbol in your mind from above, what do you see?
What you should be imagining is a square, made up of four triangles with their apexes meeting in the center where the eye would now be. Now we come to a how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go moment, since we are entering the world of symbolism here we go!
The square in Temple building is universally symbolic of Matter, or form. Without getting to cryptic, each side of the square is representative of earth, fire, water, and air, or spring, summer, fall and winter, all things that can only be experienced when one is present in the world of matter. The floor of most temples is square, Matter, but not all, take for instance the circular Templar Churches, which we will approach in due time.
Returning to the pyramid as viewed from above, the square made up of four triangles, as we have seen “four” is symbolic of Matter, the four directions, the four elements, the four rivers of Eden, etc. Temple builders of old themselves wore a square apron symbolizing the medium they worked with, Matter. If you refer to the illustration below you can see that if the pyramid is unfolded so that the four triangular faces are swung outward, round the apex as a pivot, a Maltese Cross is formed, and when the cube, consisting of six squares, is opened up along its edges and unfolded, a Latin Cross is formed. The Maltese Cross is the expression of the Higher World, the Latin Cross of the Lower World. The intuitive Temple Builder, especially those initiated in the Masonic Tradition should be able to see these symbols alluded to in the aprons worn by the temple workmen, the triangle symbolic of Spirit, the square symbolic of Matter.
In Freemasonry the Temple Builders wear their aprons, known as lambskins, three different ways. These aprons consist of a square, and a triangle flap at the top. In the level of the Entered Apprentice the initiate wears his apron with the triangle of Spirit up, symbolically separate from Matter. Here we have a Temple Builder identifying with the world of Matter, Spirit and Matter are separate.
In the level of the Fellowcrarft, the second degree of Freemasonry, the initiate still wears his triangle of Spirit up, still symbolic of Spirit separate of Matter, but now at this level the initiate is to wear his apron with one corner of the square of Matter with one corner tucked up, symbolic of Matter looking towards Spirit, the journey has seriously begun.
The Master Mason wears his apron symbolic of his level, the triangle of Spirit drops into the square of Matter, symbolic of “Spiritualized Matter”. If you look closely at the apron of the Master Mason you'll notice the same amount of points as the pyramid, five, the true meaning to the five points of fellowship in which all Master Masons are raised.