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that age when the capacity for belief was infinite; as indeed, if we but reflect, it still
         is and ever will be?”

Anglo-Saxons usually consider history as their history; science as their science; religion as their
religion. This somewhat naive viewpoint is hardly substantiated by a less egoistic survey of
knowledge. Columbus’s sailors believed they would “fall off the edge” of a flat world, yet
Pythagoras knew the earth to be a ball. The ecliptic was known before Solomon’s Temple was
built. The Chinese predicted eclipses long, long before the Europeans of the middle age quit
regarding them as portents of doom! Astronomical lore of Freemasonry is very old. The
foundations of our degrees are far more ancient than we can prove by documentary evidence. It is
surely not stretching credulity to believe that the study which antedates “Geometry, the first and
noblest of sciences,” must have been impressed on our Order, its ceremonies and its symbols, long
before Preston and Webb worked their ingenious revolutions in our rituals and gave us the system
of degrees we use - in one form or another - today.

The astronomical references in our degrees begin with the points of the compass; East, West, and
South; and the place of darkness, the North. We are taught the reason why the North is a place of
darkness by the position of Solomon’s Temple with reference to the ecliptic, a most important
astronomical conception. The Sun is the Past Master’s own symbol; our Masters rule their lodges
- or are supposed to! - with the same regularity that the Sun rules the day and the Moon governs
the night. Our explanation of our Lesser Lights is obviously an adaption of a concept which dates
back to the earliest of religions; specifically to the Egyptian Isis, Orsiris and Horus; represented
by the Sun, Moon and Venus.

Circumambulation about the Altar is in imitation of the course of the Sun. We traverse our lodges
from East to West by way of the South, as did the Sun Worshipers who thus imitated the daily
passage of their deity through the heavens.

Measures of time are wholly a matter of astronomy. Days and nights were before man, and
consequently before astronomy, but hours and minutes, high twelve and low twelve, are inventions
of the mind, depending upon the astronomical observation of the Sun at Meridian to determine
noon, and consequently all other periods of time. Indeed, we are taught this in the Middle Chamber
work, in which we give to Geometry the premier place as a means by which the astronomer may
“fix the duration of time and seasons, years and cycles.”

Atop the Pillars representing those in the porch of King Solomon’s Temple appear the terrestrial
and celestial globes. In the Fellowcraft degree we are told in beautiful and poetic language that
“numberless worlds are around us, all framed by the same Divine Artist, which roll through the
vast expanse and are all conducted by the same unerring law of nature.”

Our Ancient brethren, observing that the sun rose and set, easily determining East and West in a
general way. As the rises and sets through a variation of 47 degrees north and south during a six
month’s period the determination was not exact. The earliest Chaldean star gazers, progenitors of
the astronomers of later ages, saw that the apparently revolving heavens pivoted on a point nearly
coincident with a certain star. We know that the true north diverges about from the North Star one
and one-half degrees, but their observations were sufficiently accurate to determine a North - and

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