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consequently East, West and South. The reference to the ecliptic in the Sublime Degree has
puzzled many a brother who has not studied the elements of astronomy. The earliest astronomers
defined the ecliptic as the hypothetical “circular” plane of the earth’s path about the sun, with the
sun in the “center.”

As a matter of fact, the sun is not in the center and the earth’s path about sun is not circular. The
earth travels once about the sun in three hundred and sixty-five days, and a fraction, on an “elliptic”
path; the sun is at one of the foci of that ellipse. The axis of the earth, about which it turns once in
twenty-four hours, thus making a night and a day, is inclined to this hypothetical plane by 23 and
one-half degrees. At one point in its yearly path, the north pole of the earth is inclined towards the
sun by this amount. Half way further around in its path the North Pole is inclined away from the
sun by this angle. The longest day in the northern hemisphere - June 21st - occurs when the North
Pole is most inclined toward the sun.

Any building situated between latitudes 23 and one-half north and 23 and one-half south of the
equator, will receive the rays of the sun at meridian (high twelve, or noon) from the north at some
time during the year. King Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, being in latitude 31 degrees 47
seconds north, lay beyond this limit. At no time in the year, therefore, did the sun or moon at
meridian “darts its rays into the northerly portion thereof.”

As astronomy in Europe is comparatively modern, some have argued that this reason for
considering the North, Masonically, as a place of darkness, must also be comparatively modern.
This is wholly mistaken - Pythagoras (to go further back) recognized the obliquity of the world’s
axis to the ecliptic, as well as that the earth was a sphere suspended in space. While Pythagoras
(510 B.C.) is much younger than Solomon’s Temple, he is almost two thousand years older than
the beginnings of astronomy in Europe.

The “world celestial and terrestrial” on the brazen pillars were added by modern ritual makers.
Solomon knew them not, but contemporaries of Solomon believed the heavens to be a sphere
revolving around the earth. To them the earth stood still; a hollow sphere with its inner surface
dotted with stars. The slowly turning “celestial sphere” is as old as mankind’s observations of the
“starry decked heavens.”

It is to be noted that terrestrial and celestial spheres are both used as emblems of universality. They
are not mere duplications for emphasis; they teach their own individual part of “universality.”
What is “universal” on the earth - as for instance, the necessity of mankind to breathe, drink water,
and eat in order to live - is not necessarily “universal” in all the universe. We have no knowledge
that any other planet in our solar system is inhabited - what evidence there is, is rather to the
contrary. We have no knowledge that any other sun has any inhabited planets in its system.
Neither have we any knowledge that they have not. If life does exist in some other, to us unknown
world, it may be entirely different from life on this planet. Hence a symbol of universality which
applied only to earth would be a self-contradiction.

Real universality means what it says. It appertains to the whole universe. While a Mason’s charity,
considered as giving relief to the poor and distressed, must obviously be confined to this particular
planet, his charity of thought may, so we are taught, extend “through the boundless realms of

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