I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.
— Thomas Jefferson
If we are to know and understand the use of money as a magical tool, it is important to have some knowledge of the symbols and meanings ascribed to it by its designers. Thanks to various conspiracy theorists, ranging from New Age and UFO aficionados to neo-Nazis and ultra-conservative Christians, a lot of myth and controversy has been attributed to the symbols on American money, particularly the back of the dollar bill, which features the Great Seal of the United States.
The Great Seal is the official sign of sovereignty of the United States. It represents the American people, and most mainstream historians insist that it is not, nor has it ever been any secret symbol for any special group – past or present, covert or open.
An original and innovative, all-American creation, it is a unique combination of natural elements (the eagle, olive branch, stars, cloud, light rays, eye) and historical-cultural symbols common in heraldry (the pyramid, arrows, and shield).
Three committees participated in its design, and each of those groups had members with very diverse experiences and points-of-view. While it is true that some of those committees had members who were Freemasons, only four men actually contributed the elements to its final design, and they were not Freemasons.
The controversy especially focuses on the reverse side of the Seal, which is the circle depicted to the left of In God We Trust. As mentioned yesterday, the eye above the pyramid was never described by anyone (but the conspiracy buffs) as the Eye of Horus. More arguments center on the uncapped pyramid. The pyramid was originally suggested in May 1782 by William Barton, the consultant and artist on the third Great Seal committee. This is his sketch:
Barton was undoubtedly influenced by the pyramid that appeared on the Continental Currency $50 note, designed in 1778 by Francis Hopkinson, the heraldry consultant and artist on the second Great Seal committee. Hopkinson may have been a Freemason; this has never been proven one way or another.
For the seal’s reverse side, Barton suggested, “A Pyramid of thirteen Strata, (or Steps).” Its final designer, Charles Thomson, agreed and specified a “Pyramid unfinished,” giving only a brief explanation of the symbolism, saying the pyramid signifies “Strength and Duration.” It is no secret that they were all inspired by the Great Pyramid of Egypt, a model of engineering, classical form, and which has endured for millennia.
A spokesperson for the Masonic Information Services of America flatly denies that there are any secret Masonic symbols in the Seal. Those that are similar are, he insists, “subtly different.” Of course, the problem with conspiracy theory is that denial only inflames the certainty of a cover-up.
But I have to ask – so what? We do know for a fact that there were many Masons who participated in the founding of our country. However, their words and deeds, I would think, make it abundantly clear that they were intent on creating a government that was completely counter to serving the aspirations of a secret elite class. In fact, egalitarianism and freedom were the bedrock of their dreams.
Which brings us to the firestorm that has swirled around the motto, Novus Ordo Seclorum. Please join me for that discussion tomorrow!