Masonry and the Deck of cards
As you, the adept in Masonry, travel along in your Masonic search for truth, you should be aware of all the various symbols around you, for truth comes through the simplicities of life in order that all mankind may learn of his creator and His creations. Too often we are turned off by the shallowness of theologians who are caught up in the narrow confines of doctrinal differences rather than theological pursuits. Too often, we overlook that which has come down to us, through eons of time, still intact as though given but yesterday. Such is the deck of playing cards.
- THE DECK
1 – The deck is the unit, thereby representing the “oneness” of God.
3 – The Triads are three in number (king, queen, jack), representing the ancient thought of mind, matter, and product, also given as male, female, and issue (son). Today we recognize the Triads as the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (now recognized as the Church and referred to as John did – “the Elect Lady.”
4 – The denominations of the cards are four in number, representing the four seasons of the year and the Quadrature of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. (The Pyramid is sometimes represented in the Knights Templar or Maltese Cross as a “square among the equilateral triangles”) They also represent the four elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Finally, they represent the mystical INRI: Iaminim, Nour, Ruach, and Iebschah.
5 – While there are four Aces and suits of cards, there are actually five, for the Joker can stand with any one or all suits. Called the “odd card,” it represents the missing link in life. The Joker is the “capstone” of the temple, the head stone of the corner, as symbolized by the coni al ha associated with the Joker. In the first five days of creation, all things of the air and sea had been created – the heavens, (sun & fire), the seas (water), and the air (fowls).
10 – The 10 represents the 10 expressions, or emanations, of God in the creations of the heavens and the earth and all that dwells therein. These are found in the first chapter of Genesis in which “God said.” Thereby, He spoke the world into existence. There are 10 generations from Adam to Noah, ten from Noah to Abraham. Abraham was proved with 10 trials. There were 10 plagues in Egypt.
13 – There are 13 cards in each suit representing the total number of people in the Golden Circle of Christ and the 12 disciples. The 13 cards plus the joker equal the total number of days of the missing of Grand Master Hiram Abif. The thirteen plus the joker represents the number of generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the deportation to Babylon, and 14 from the deportation to Christ.
There are 52 regular cards in a deck, representing the number of weeks of the year. The total face value of the complete deck is 365.24 and is parallel to the days of the year.
- THE PYRAMID
The Royal Arch symbol stands out as the perfect emblem of the two natures of man or the two worlds, spiritual and temporal; and the two perfections viewed from two sets of eyes. The spiritual nature is of the higher plane, and therefore encompasses the temporal plane, viz: the circle of God encircling the equilateral triangle, or delta, of man. The oneness: the circle infinity, the continuous being, the “snake with its tail in its mouth” of adept Masonry. The triangle, or the three: man’s “3×3” numbering the perfection of man. The relationship is as thus: as the circle is ten or perfection, the square root of 10 is 100, or perfection x perfection. Man, on the other hand, cannot reach perfection from a divine sense; so, he seeks perfection of man on earth, it stands to reason that his “perfection x perfection,” or 3×3 cannot make 10, or by extending it, 100. So, it comes up nine or 9×9 (= 81). As man rises up in intellectual progress, depending on the individual factors, he grows further and further away from his god. Yet, God would have us seek Him “while He is to be found.” As the delta is enclosed in the circle of the divine nature, so is the pyramid enclosed in the circle of divine creation, the earth.
The pyramid is a monument to man in his relationship to God. Man, in his finite mind, build the pyramid in the image of his perfection with the Creator in view. Such is the “all-seeing Eye” on the Masonic apron and on the dollar bill. Then man’s temple becomes unfinished, for the stone that the builders rejected is the head of the corner. By not being able to construct perfection from imperfection, the capstone is given the same shape as the base, or earthly temple. As the capstone of the dollar bill pyramid rises above the columns of Boaz and Jachin at the entrance to the outer porch. As the base of the pyramid is required to look up, so are the Children of Israel required to look up when they enter the portals of man’s attempt at harboring Lord God Almighty. As the “arch” is just a part of God, so is the rainbow just a part of His omnipotence, with the main being hid.
The pyramid, being one, is representative of God. This heard in the cry of the cohen and the rabbi: “Hear O Israel, the Lord God, He is One”; and in the cry of the Moslem: “There is but One God, and He is ALLAH”; and in the cry of St. Paul to the Ephesians: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In all things is this “one” found. In all things, if the one is taken away, they are incomplete. As you view the pyramid, you view the oneness of God. As you view the pyramid, all other shapes and components of the pyramid are hidden from view. Such are the natures of God. Many people see God from their own angle, not caring to or wanting to see the other fellow’s side. This absence of oneness brings about confusion as it did at the Tower of Babel, as both absences are of the same reason: the absence of divine purpose. That purpose is the small part that God allows us to see, the substitute word of the Master Mason, the real word of the Royal Arch, the sacred words of the AASR. All are merely man’s attempt to put off that which only comes in the afterlife of us all. The Lord God is One.
The pyramid is three as we view it from the side. Still it is one, but with components and attributes. We now see the shape of man’s perfection on earth, the sum of 3 x 3 x 3 x 3, 81. There are four sides of equilateral triangles, representing the four religious thoughts handed down to us though the ages:
- Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer;
- Mind, Matter, and Product;
- Male, Female, and Issue; and
- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Such is the principle of the three-headed god, the Triune God, or the Blessed Trinity. Same thought, but viewed from different sides. Such is man’s perfection as compared to God’s. He gave us one faith; we now have many. He gave us one Lord, we now call Him by many names. He gave us one baptism; we now use several and argue over which is the right one. Man’s way is not God’s way, and His way is certainly not our way.
The pyramid is square, or four sided, when viewed from the top. We see the base only, with the main shape being lost in the geometrical spheres of the pyramid as a whole. The sides that we do see are the elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, as represented by the earthly, or Cardinal, virtues of Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice.
As the base holds up the entire pyramid, so do the four cardinal virtues hold up the earthly natures of man, giving him the Divine Purpose and direction as he travels through this “vail of tears” to that undiscovered country. The cardinal virtues are to man what shape is to geometry, the very essence of being. With these virtues, man is in constant connection with the Creator. Without them, man is lost in the abyss of confusion, a deportee from Paradise, a vagabond to live forever on the highway of destruction. It was only when Lucifer lost sight of the Divine Purpose that he was cast out. It was only when he lost these virtues through eyesight did Adam lose the gift of Eternal Life. From that moment on, Adam and all his children were doomed to toil and trouble. Keep the virtues in view and in mind, for they are man’s foundation for his temple.
The pyramid is five-sided when we view it from an angle near the top. We see the four sides of the base plus the triangular shape of one side. The capstone, or the triangular side, is the base of the virtue or the foundation. This stone is truth, the foundation of every virtue. This truth teaches us the five relationships we have with our Father, Son, Brother, Friend, and Ruler. Such was the Star of Fellowship of the Blue Lodge and such was the Star of Hope of the Eastern Star. This star teaches us to travel the second mile for a brother; remember a brother’s welfare as our own; lend a helping hand and a helping tongue; keep secret those secrets of a brother; and give good counsel as well as warning.
The five teaches us of the virgins and their divisions: five wise and five foolish.