Zodiacal Ladder

Winter Solstice

Taurus

Pleiades

VERNAL ^f EQUINOX

Winter Solstice vernal equinox, and his exaltation at the summer solstice— they therefore taught and illustrated all the leading principles of astronomy, and thus had an important scientific value to the initiated.

2. By personifying the sun, and requiring the candidate to represent him, the whole solar phenomena were exhibited in an allegorical manner, and became symbolical of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul. The ladder of the Mysteries, being but an emblem intended to illustrate the main solar allegory, had the same two-fold symbolism.

When fully explained to the initiated, it fixed upon the mind certain great facts in astronomical science. It taught the order and position of the signs of the zodiac; the ascent of the sun from the point of his lowest declination below the equator to that of his highest above it, by seven equal graduated steps. It also taught the duration and order of the seasons, the length of the solar year, and many other particulars of the greatest importance to agriculture, as well as to science and art generally.

The emblem, viewed in an allegorical sense, also taught, by solar analogy, the unity of God and the life everlasting. The ladder in this sense was the emblem of the ascent into heaven from the lower hemisphere—the underworld of darkness, winter, and death. This mystic ladder leads to the "seven stars," or Pleiades, shining in the constellation Taurus, at the golden gates of spring. It mounted still onward and upward, to the summit of the Royal Arch of heaven, thus emblematically teaching us that by the ladder of virtue the soul of man will at last pierce the "cloudy canopy," and mount to the highest circle of "the starry-decked heavens," to dwell for ever triumphant over death and the grave.

It will thus be seen that our masonic emblem loses none of its significance by its probable origin in the astronomical symbolism of the ancient mysteries, but, on the contrary, has given it a much more extended and beautiful signification, being clothed with a scientific as well as a moral meaning.

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