Two Pillars

The Two Pillars

     The two pillars can be found in the symbolic traditions of many religious traditions and esoteric Orders. Their meaning relates to the duty of the Initiate to bring Harmony into both his own personality and in the world, and relates to the manifestation of universal consciousness in a myriad of material forms. In about 969 BC, Solomon, King of Judeah, decided to build a Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. At this time the Hebrews were nomads living in tents, while neighboring Tyre had been a rich and prosperous city for over two centuries. Recognizing the Tyrians' advancement in architecture and the other arts, Solomon appealed to their greater talents to build his temple.
     When the temple was built, the Hebrews ceased their wanderings and became permanently established. As a memorial of this fact, they included in the design of the temple, the two pillars, a symbol used by the Tyrians and many other nations descended from ancient Aryan stock, to represent the Divine leadership that led them out of enslavement in Egypt and to their new and permanent home.
     Hiram, the architect sent by King Hiram of Tyre, cast a pair of hollow bronze pillars that stood on the outer portico of Solomon's temple, one finished in silver and the other in gold and studded with emeralds.
     Standing in the north, the pillar of silver represented the pillar of smoke and was called Boaz, which signifies strength. Standing in the south, the pillar of gold and emeralds represented the pillar of fire and was called Jachin, which signifies establishment. The manifestation of the Deity as a pillar of clouds and a pillar of fire points to the origin of the two pillars in the earliest recorded Aryan conceptions of the Divine presence.
     According to biblical account (Exodus 13:21-22), "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." The two pillars are often depicted in esoteric symbolism as an entry to hidden knowledge that permits the balance between opposite forces. Between the columns is a veil covering the hidden world of wisdom. The veil is usually decorated with palms (the male element) and pomegranates (the female element), which represent the reproductive force in the subconscious that allows ideas to be made manifest.
     In Mechanic symbolism, the pillars stand on either side of the entrance to the Mechanic lodge and represent the pillars of Solomon's Temple.The pillar of Jachin represents the solar, masculine, active, positive, expansive principle of light; the pillar of Boaz represents the lunar, female, passive, negative, containing principle of darkness.
     The idea of duality is also represented by the different architectural styles of the pillars, the pillar representing Jachin being Doric, and the pillar representing Boaz being Corinthian. The pillars were completed and named before the temple was dedicated although it has often been said that the names of the pillars were to enshrine the memory of David's ancestry.
     In seeking to endow the Davidic dynasty with power and also to express King Solomon's gratitude to the Almighty for his support, the oracles would have used invocations such as: "Yahweh will establish (Jachin) thy throne forever" and "The king's strength (Boaz) is in Yahweh".
     "And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz." (II Chron. 17.) These strange names are not without a purpose. They contain the key to the entire Bible and to the whole order of Nature, and as emblems of the two great principles that are the pillars of the universe; they fitly stood at the threshold of that temple which was designed to symbolize all the mysteries of being.
     To walk the middle path between the pillars is to transcend the illusions of duality and to identify oneself not with the material body, but with the consciousness and the impulse of life for which the body is only a vehicle. Along with the identification of oneself with consciousness, or spirit, comes the understanding that the true nature of all other beings is also spirit, and that every individual is but a seemingly separate material manifestation of a single universal consciousness that pervades the universe.
     This realization is the basis of the concept of Fraternity, the doctrine that all individuals can be likened to cells comprising the one body of humanity.
     When one realizes that he and the other are one, and that the apparent separateness is but an effect of the way man experiences forms under the conditions of space and time, acts of selfless charity become second nature, for by serving one's brother, one serves the highest part of himself: spirit.
     The Initiate must see through the illusion of opposites to understand their inherent unity and must apply this understanding to the mastery of his own being.
     Like Nature, Man is made of a number of instincts and qualities that are seemingly opposite. Since ancient times it has been recognized that the seven pairs wisdom/foolishness; wealth/poverty; fruitfulness/childlessness; life/death; dominion/dependence; peace/war; beauty/ugliness are the ones which most affect man's successful progress through life.
     The Initiate should repeatedly check the actions of his life against these seven pairs and take the reconciling middle position by maintaining a balanced integrity.
     The Initiate who can affirm, "I come from between the pillars" has walked the middle path through the turmoil and troubles of life and has preserved his composure. As an agent of Omneity he is commissioned to a life of activity in a world of seeming contradiction and confusion, from which he must work to bring his own individual pattern of harmony.
Researched and Prepared by:

Ricardo R. Hernandez, P.I.G., H.P.
Alpha District P.I.G. Conclave
Under the Grand Jurisdiction of:
Alpha District Grand Lodge #1 Inc., New York
Independent United Order of Mechanics F.S. W.H. Inc.

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