Square and Compasses

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Square and Compasses sign on the gates of Freemasons' Hall, Bournemouth, England

The Square and Compasses (or, more correctly, a square and a set of compasses joined) is the single most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. Both the square and compasses are architect's tools and are used in Masonic ritual as emblems to teach symbolic lessons.

Some Lodges and rituals explain these symbols as lessons in conduct: for example, Duncan's Masonic Monitor of 1866 explains them as: "The square, to square our actions; The compasses, to circumscribe and keep us within bounds with all mankind".[1] However, as Freemasonry is non-dogmatic, there is no general interpretation for these symbols (or any Masonic symbol) that is used by Freemasonry as a whole.[2]

With a "G"[edit]

In many English speaking countries, the Square and Compasses are depicted with the letter "G" in the center.[3] The letter has multiple meanings, representing different words depending on the context in which it is discussed. The most common is that the "G" stands for God. Another is that it stands for Geometry, and is to remind Masons that Geometry and Freemasonry are synonymous terms described as being the "noblest of sciences", and "the basis upon which the superstructure of Freemasonry and everything in existence in the entire universe is erected. In this context, it can also stand for Great Architect of the Universe (a non-denominational reference to God)."[4]

Use of the symbol by other fraternal bodies[edit]

Vector image rendering showing both points of the compasses elevated above the square

The square and compasses have been used as a symbol by several organizations, sometimes with additional symbols:


  1. ^ Malcolm C. Duncan (1866). "Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor".
  2. ^ Gilkes, Peter (July 2004). "Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice". Masonic Quarterly Magazine (10). Retrieved 2007-05-07.
  3. ^ "The "G" in Masonry's Emblem".
  4. ^ Malcolm C. Duncan (1866). "Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor".
  5. ^ Hanging Gardens of Babylon Lodge no 13 of Free Gardeners of England website
  6. ^ The National Council of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics
  7. ^ The Independent United Order of Mechanics
  8. ^ website of Markethill Royal Black District Chapter No 3. County Armagh
  9. ^ Company website
  10. ^ Worshipful Company of Carpenters
  11. ^ Incorporation of Wrights and Masons page on Edinburgh Trades website
  12. ^ Allan Glen's School Club
  13. ^ Allan Glen's Rugby Club


  • Curl, James Stevens (1991). The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry: An Introductory Study. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-160-6. OCLC 493971613.