from the book Encylcopedia of Freemasonry & its Kindred Sciences
by Albert C. Mackey M. D.
This book is in the public domain. The text was duplicated from the book using Optical Character Recognition software and errors may be present.
Sun - Hardly any of the symbols of Freemasonry are more important in their signification or more extensive in their application than the sun. As the source of material light, it reminds the Freemason of that intellectual light of which he is in constant search. But it is especially as the ruler of the day, giving to it a beginning and end, and a regular course of hours, that the Sun is presented as a Masonic Symbol. Hence, of the three lesser lights, we are told that one represents or symbolizes the sun, one the moon, and one the Master of the Lodge, because, as the sun rules the day and the moon governs the night, so should the Worshipful Master rule and govern his Lodge with equal regularity and precision.
And this is in strict analogy with other Masonic symbolisms. For if the Lodge is a symbol of the world, which is thus governed in its changes of times and seasons by the sun, it is evident that the Master who governs the Lodge, controlling its time of opening and closing, and the work which it should do, must be symbolized by the sun. The heraldic definition of the sun as a bearing fits most appositely to the symbolism of the sovereignty of the Master. Thus Gwillim Says: "The sun is the symbol of sovereignty, the hieroglyphic of royalty; it doth signify absolute authority!'
This representation of the sun as a symbol of authority while it explains the reference to the Master, enables us to amplify its meaning, and apply it to the three Sources of authority in the Lodge, and accounts for the respective positions of the officers wielding this authority. the Master, therefore, in the East is a symbol of the rising sun; the Junior Warden in the South, of the Meridian Sun; and the Senior Warden in the West, of the Setting Sun. So in the Mysteries of India, the chief officers were placed in the East, the West, and the South, respectively, and thus represent Brahma, or the rising; Vishnu, or the setting; and Siva, or the meridian sun. And in the Druidical Rites, the Archdruid, seated in the East, was assisted by two other officers—the one in the West representing the moon, and the other in the South representing the meridian sun.
This triple division of the government of a Lodge by three officers, representatives of the sun in his three manifestations in the East, South and West, will remind us of similar ideas in the symbolism of antiquity. In the Orphic Mysteries, it was taught that the sun generated from an egg, burst forth with power to triplicate himself by his own unassisted energy. Supreme power seems always to have been associated in the ancient mind with a three-fold division. Thus the sign of authority was indicated by the three-forked lightning of Jove, the trident of Neptune, and the three-headed Cerherus of Pluto. The government of the Universe was divided between these three sons of Saturn. The chaste goddess ruled the earth as Diana, the heavens as Luna, and the infernal regions as Hecate, whence her rites were only performed in a place where three roads met. The sun is then presented to us in Freemasonry first as a symbol of light, but then more emphatically as a symbol of sovereign authority.
But, says Wemyss (Symbolic Language), speaking of Seriptural symbolism, "the sun may be considered to be an emblem of Divine Truth," because the sun or light, of which it is the source, "is not only manifest in itself, but makes other things; so one truth detects, reveals, and manifests another, as all truths are dependent on, and connected with, each other more or less." And this again is applicable to the Masonic doctrine which makes the Master the symbol of the sun; for as the sun discloses and makes manifest, by the opening of day, what had been hidden in the darkness of night, so the Master of the Lodge, as analogue of the ancient hierophant or explainer of the mysteries, makes Divine Truth manifest to the neophyte, who had been hitherto in intellectual darkness, and reveals the hidden or esoteric lessons of initiation.