POINT WITHIN A CIRCLE
By Wor. Bro. S. L. Waterman
THE TRACING BOARD
G.L. of Saskatchewan - 1974
Many students regard the symbol of the point within a circle
as belonging exclusively to the Third Degree; but if we go
back to the old lectures - current in the 1880's and even
more recently - we find that this symbol enters into the
explanation of the First Tracing Board, and further, is
referred to in the 6th section of the 1st lecture. It figures on
many of the old First Degree Tracing Boards, and the
lectures tell us that "in all regular, well-informed constituted
lodges, there is a point within a circle from which a Mason
cannot err; this circle is bounded North and South by two
grand parallel lines, the one representing Moses, the other
King Solomon; on the upper part of the circle rests the V.S.L. which supports Jacob's ladder - the top of which reached to
The point within a circle is a remarkable emblem; but let us
look first at the circle itself. The circle having neither
beginning nor end, is a symbol of the Deity and of eternityand it follows that the compasses have been valued as being a means by which that perfect figure may be drawn.
Everywhere in every age, the circle has been credited with
magical properties and in particular has been thought to
protect from external evil everything enclosed within it.
Folklore contains countless instances of people, houses,
places, threshed corn, etc., being protected by the simple
means of describing a circle around them. The innocent child could be placed within a circle, in which it was thought to be
safe from any outside malevolent influence. The virtues of the circle were also attributed to the ring, the bracelet, the
ankle and the necklace which have been worn from earlier times, not only as ornaments but as a means of protecting
the wearer from evil influences.
The completed emblem - the point within the circle - has
been borrowed, consciously or otherwise from some of the
earliest of the pagan rites, in which it represented the male
and female principles and came in time to be the symbol of
the sun and the universe. Phallic worship was common
throughout the ancient world, simple people being naturally
inclined to adopt as the foundation of their religion so great a
mystery as the generative principle. The symbol came to be
regarded as the sign of the Divine creative energy.
Freemasonry adopted the symbol and easily gave it a
Q. What is a centre?
A. That point within a circle from which every part of the
circumference is equally distant
Q. Why in the centre?
A. Because that is a point from which a M.M. cannot err.
The ancient peoples in giving great religious prominence to
phallic emblems apprehend no wrong in so doing. L.M. Child
has said: "Reverence for the mystery of organized life led to
the recognition of a masculine and feminine principle in all
things spiritual or material . . . . the active wind was
masculine, the passive or inert atmosphere was feminine . . .
the sexual emblems conspicuous in the sculptures of ancient temples would seem impure in description, but no clean and
thoughtful mind could so regard them . . . . . the ancient worshipped the Supreme Being as the Father of men and
saw no impurity in denoting with phallic emblems the kinship of mankind to the Creator."
Some students hold that the point within the circle
represented to the ancients the whole scheme of the
universe, one point being the individual, or contemplator,
and the circle the horizon.
What is This World Coming To, and When Will It All End?
"What is this world coming to, and when will it all end? . . .
How often we hear that nowadays, frequently followed by,
"Well, we can't do much about it," in atone of resignation.
Certainly there is sufficient restlessness, and trouble about
to cause a feeling of despair. But history does record many
examples of men and women, who buoyed up by a clear and
definite goal in life, have overcome difficulties and changed
conditions of the time and place.
Here we are then, Freemasons, here is your challenge.