This week we are between two important dates in the solar and Masonic year: September 23rd – Autumn Equinox and September 29th - Michaelmas (Feast of St. Michael). Whether you subscribe to either date, it is this time of the year in Masonic terms that we return to the center of our circumscribed circle, but only for the briefest moment. This is the time where we find ourselves at the center of the circumpunct, between the two St. Johns. A curious thing for a purportedly non-sectarian group to do. However, Solomon and Moses used to be the parallel line designations, you can read more about that story here.
The ancient symbol known as the dot in the circle, circled dot, or a circumpunct, is one of the oldest symbols known to humans. According to Gnostics, it is the most primal aspect of God. To Greek philosophers and the Pythagoreans, the circumpunct represents God, or the Monad – the point of the beginning of creation, and eternity. It is the sun of astrologers; the alchemical gold of the alchemist, and the Keter of the Kabbalah. For Masons we are told to circumscribe our desires and keep them within due bounds (the body). The square of humanity is circled by the spiritual compass.
The circle around the dot is the universe or world in which we live. A blank canvas to draw from the circle that which we wish to create. A place to also retreat back from the world when things in life get too chaotic. Erase our problems in ‘order’ to have a clean slate. In a sense, redeem our souls. If you concentrate on the circumpunct, you can visualize your soul as the dot within the world of which we live.
What about Autumn Equinox for the Mason?
Autumn Equinox marks a deepening into the quiet season, celebrating the harvest time and coming into stillness. It is earth’s moment to be in between—weaving light and dark into balance. Equilibrium is point where things can change. It is an opportunity to invoke balance, harmony and communion of opposites. This is the time to harvest the fruits of summer which have created seeds to work on in Autumn into winter, it’s our time to mediate on what we have worked on in our Masonic journey, the journey to the self.
“Transform yourself for the sake of the world.
Learn to practice thinking, feeling, sensing, and willing without egoism.
Let your work be the shadow that your I casts
when it is shone upon by the flame of your higher self.”
Bro. Dr. Rudolf Steiner
What about Michaelmas?
Since 1723 and the Masonic Constitutions, the Feast Day of St. Michael has been recognized as one of the four important dates in the Masonic calendar. While still celebrated in Europe, North American Freemasonry has forgotten the importance of this date, instead Autumn Equinox is the substitute. Why Michaelmas? St. Michael is the archangel of the sun – overseeing earthly evolution. In Western esoteric teaching, there are seven archangelic regents, 1879* marked the return of the solar spirit Michael and the ending of the Hindu Kali Yuga – the Dark Age – and entered the Age of Light. Michael as cosmic ruler, battles to master the “dragon” of the spirits of darkness, and is the guardian of cosmic intelligence for GAOTU. At Michaelmas we are to be reminded that the evolutionary task depends on the free and independent collaboration of human co-workers. Our path is the development of selfless individuality; cosmopolitanism; fearlessness; the transformation of thinking and perception; and the reality of spirit. For Masons, Michaelmas gives us strength in our struggle with mastering personal and collective 'dragons' (to learn to subdue our passions and keep them within due bounds; and all that impedes our potential – coming back to our inner center).
As we go into the Fall season, the season of St. Michael mastering the dragon, may we all find the strength and the will forces to master our own dragons and show our Masonic way to others.
"Brave and True I will be like St. Michael. Each good deed sets me free. Each kind word makes me strong. I will fight for the right. I will conquer the wrong."
Note: *Masons in New York and London erected obelisks (also known as Cleopatra’s Needles) in their respective cities to mark the occasion.