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What is the importance of Orion to secret societies such as the Freemasons?

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Some Freemason Tracing Boards show Orion as the one below. Why is this? I know Orion was venerated in ancient civilizations and the Egyptian pyramids are astronmically aligned with Orion, but why would Freemasons use it?



Edited by evanslr
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They probably use it because they trace their roots back to Egypt where they were known as 'The Sons of Light' and as you say Orion was very important to the Egyptians and the pyramids were built to reflect them on Earth.

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Having completed a reverse image search, it does appear to be a genuine version of the "Entered Apprentice" tracing board for the first degree. It also shares a resemblance to some other versions of this tracing board too.










It seems to be a moot point as to whether the stars represent the seven sisters of the Pleiades or the constellation of Orion. Perhaps there is more than one level to its meaning. In either case, both the numbers 3 (the primordial trinity) and 7 (the mystic nature of man) are very important to Freemasonry.


Hermeticism is said to contain great spiritual truths which are hidden from the world and originated with Thoth Hermes Trismegistus who was said to have been the founder of Egyptian learning and was, as the name suggests, associated with both the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth. These sacred truths are said to include the secret alchemical formula for spiritual, mental, moral and physical regeneration - the magnum opus or philosopher's stone. To my understanding, much of Freemasonic doctrine is derived from Hermeticism along with influences from other ancient mystery schools including the Pythagorean School and the Qabbalah.


To the ancient Egyptians, Orion was considered to be the heavenly representation of Osiris and rituals performed under Orion's belt were thought to open up a direct channel to this energy. Freemasons revere the sun and its associated deities which includes Osiris - the sun is symbolic of the vital principle of Nature and was adored by the ancients for its beneficent power and became a proxy for the supreme creative essence. Whilst the uninitiated worshipped the idols which were emblematic of sacred truths, apparently only true wisdom was revealed to the tried and initiated.


The archetype of Osiris was said to have brought illumination to all he came into contact with. However, his brother Set gathered 72 conspirators and plotted to destroy him. At a banquet, Osiris was tricked into laying down in a beautiful chest which was then nailed down, sealed with molten lead and became his coffin. Following his murder, the box was cast into the Nile and floated out to sea. His wife Isis embarked on her quest to find his remains which she recovered but which were then stolen again by Set, cut into 14 parts and scattered all over the earth. Isis retrieved 13 of the parts but the phallus had fallen into the Nile and been swallowed by a fish. Isis therefore reproduced the phallus in gold (a colour associated with the sun), briefly revived Osiris and, during this brief time, was impregnated with their son Horus.


Like with other sun deities, the story of Osiris and his resurrection could be seen as representative of the sun's travels through the heavens. As I posted in another thread, the sun's journey is depicted by the arch in Masonic symbolism where it is at the peak of its power in its annual cycle from the Spring Equinox through to the Autumnal Equinox when we have more light and warmth from it. Once autumn sets in, its rays have become muted, less visible and weakened with the cruel winter months still to come in its journey. During mid-winter, the sun is at its lowest ebb - it is slain only to be reborn again, after a three day hiatus following the Winter Solstice (December 21st / 22nd), on 25th December. No movement of the sun in the sky could be detected by the ancients during these three days with the shortest amount of daylight, hence the belief that the sun had died. Pagans celebrated 25th December as the birthday of the sun and the time when it starts to regain strength again to fight off the winter darkness.


The pyramids on the Giza plateau are thought by some to be aligned with Orion too, and the hidden knowledge associated with the pyramids may pre-date even Egyptian learning with the structures being a repository for ancient secret truths and possibly a tomb of Osiris. The pyramid is incredibly important to Freemasonic symbolism with its square base facing the four cardinal angles and representing the four material elements. Each of the sides is triangular and said to represent the threefold spiritual body enthroned within the fourfold material form (making the number 7 which, as stated above, is said to be the mystic nature of man). The missing capstone may signify that the creator energy alone is complete and how man is unfinished, is ignorant of our own spirituality and immortality thus requiring transformation into a channel of divine power.



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