The emblem of the key-stone, as now exhibited, together with the legend of the lost key-stone, would appear to be of very recent date. They belong to the Mark Master's degree, as given to the American rite. The Mark degree, says Dr. Mackey, was taken by Webb from the Scottish rite. Webb, however, "improved the ritual and changed the legend, substituting one of his own invention." Another writer informs us that Webb's Mark degree is founded on the European degree of Mark master mason—"the sign, token and sacred sign," of which are exactly the same as the "due guard, real grip, and principal sign" of Webb's degree—although it contains no mention of the "key-stone, " but in its stead the "cubic stone." The weight of testimony from all sources seems to render it certain that the idea of the "key-stone" and the legend connected with it, as given in the American degree of Mark master, are wholly the invention of Webb.
In making these additions to the legends and symbols of Freemasonry, Webb, however, was under the necessity of making what he added harmonize with the principal legend of the third degree, as well as that of the Royal Arch; and, in doing so, he unconsciously rendered his new legend and its accompanying emblem capable of the same astronomical explanation as the original legend, which he desired to thus more fully illustrate. We do not mean to be understood as saying that Webb ever had any such astronomical ideas in his own mind, but, being under the absolute necessity of making the machinery of his new degree harmonize with the really ancient and astronomical legends of the Order, he was unconsciously compelled, by a logical necessity, to render that which he supplemented capable of the same astronomical interpretation as the original and fundamental legends of Freemasonry themselves.
The emblem of the key-stone and the legend of its loss may thus be astronomically explained:
Q. Of what is the key-stone emblematic?
A. Of strength, that being the strongest part of an arch, binding the several parts together and thus enabling it to bid defiance to the elements.
Q. Has the key-stone any astronomical allusion?
A. It alludes to the summer solstice, or key of the zodiacal arch, in close proximity to which it is now seen, and where anciently was located the constellation Leo, also typical of strength.
The Circle on the Key-Stone
Q. Why is a circle inscribed in the masonic key-stone?
A, A circle is the astronomical sign, and Egyptian hieroglyph of the sun. It is placed in the key-stone to denote the sun in
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