The Escutcheon on the breast of the American bald Eagle displayed, proper, holding in his dexter talon an Olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows, all proper, & in his beak a scroll, inscribed with this Motto, “E pluribus unum.”
For the Crest: Over the head of the Eagle which appears above the Escutcheon, A Glory, Or, breaking through a cloud, proper, & surrounding thirteen stars forming a Constellation, Argent, on an Azure field.
— Blazon of the Great Seal of the United States
Continental Congress – June 20, 1782
Today we continue to heal our relationship with money by literally examining our physical legal tender. Pull out a U.S. dollar bill and really look at it. The front, printed in black ink, with George Washington’s portrait, is pretty straightforward. If you look on the back, which is printed in green ink (and why it is sometimes called a greenback), there are some very interesting symbols.
In the middle, just above the word ONE, you see “In God We Trust.” It just happens that Oct. 1 of 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the printing of the official motto of the United States on all U.S. currency.
On the left and right, are the two sides of the Great Seal of the United States. In 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided to print the Great Seal on the dollar bill, thanks to the suggestion of his then-Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace.
Interestingly, if there was ever anyone that would have been receptive to the connection between money, magic and Spirit, it would have been Wallace, who was good friends with and often advised by George William Russell, whose pen name was A.E., short for Aeon. A.E. was a famed poet, Celtic scholar, painter, and mystic whose journeys to and paintings of the Faerie Realms are still legendary today.
The front side of the seal, shown on the right of the bill, portrays the bald eagle. The eagle faces the olive branch in its right talon. The eagle has never faced the left side with the arrows in the Great Seal (although this has been the case in the President’s Seal).
In heraldry, the right hand is always the dominant and most important symbol. As the Great Seal’s designer, Charles Thomson, noted, “The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress.”
Well, that was always the intention of our founders, and was true until very recently, anyway.
The first Great Seal die was cut and used on September 16, 1782 to begin sealing the peace with England on a document authorizing General Washington to negotiate with the British and sign an agreement for the exchange, subsistence, and better treatment of prisoners of war
On the reverse side of the Great Seal, depicted on the dollar bill to the left of In God We Trust, is the unfinished pyramid with the eye replacing the top point.
Tomorrow, we’ll explore some of the myths and truths about this symbol, and why it is important as we become more conscious of the meaning and power of money in our own lives.