Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

The Eye of Providence

Today in Masonic History we discuss the Eye of Providence.

The Eye of Providence is a reminder that all our actions and deeds are observed.

The Eye of Providence, also called the All-seeing Eye or the Eye of Horus, is a symbol that goes back to the ancient Egyptians. In the Egyptian culture the eye was a symbol of royal power, protection and good health. It is also referred to as the Eye of Ra, another Egyptian god.

It was not until Renaissance Europe that the Eye of Horus was changed to be a symbol of Christianity. It was at this point that it became a symbol of divine power. It was also representative of the Holy Trinity. The Eye was often enclosed in a triangle. In the 17th century, the eye was also depicted with clouds and a sunburst around it.

It was in 1782, that the Eye Providence was adopted as part of the Great Seal of the United States. The seal was developed over the course of three committees who debated what the seal should be. The All-seeing Eye was first suggested by a consultant to the first committee, Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere. In his original suggestion he thought that the Eye should be placed over thirteen shields, representing the first thirteen colonies. It was the third committee that replaced the shields with the unfinished pyramid with thirteen steps on it. The pyramid was unfinished as a reminder of the potential growth that the country still had, and that it was an ongoing project.

Quite often, the Eye is associated with Freemasonry. The first masonic usage of the eye was in 1797. This was in Thomas Smith Webb's Masonic Monitor. Despite the fact that the first masonic usage of the Eye was after the creation of the Great Seal of the United States, many try to claim it is proof of the masonic connection to our government. There was only one known mason who was on any of the committees, that was Benjamin Franklin. According to records, none of Franklin's suggestions were used. Franklin was actually serving on the committee to provide assistance in regards to printing, as he had been in, or associated with, the printing business most of his life.

In Freemasonry, the Eye is meant to represent that the actions of a Freemason never go unseen. That whether in this world, or the next, our actions will be judged by He who sees all. This refers to the Grand Architect of the Universe, which is a generic name referring to God. This is used because of the wide number of monotheistic religions that the membership of the Masonic fraternity represents.

The Eye of providence can also be seen in a variety of pop culture references. In 2004, in the movie National Treasure, the Great Seal of the United States on the one dollar bill is used as proof of the conspiracy to hide a treasure that had been growing through out recorded history. Many organizations have adopted the All-seeing Eye as a symbol, most notably the Eye is associated with the Illuminati, a short lived 18th century organization founded by Adam Weishaupt, that is commonly used in conspiracy theories by modern conspiracy theorists.