Replied by SPGC
on Friday, September 07 2012, 01:43 PM
The short answer to your question is No they are not, for the following reasons.
‘Zodiac’ is a Greek word meaning ‘circle of animals’, and conveys the meaning of a series of imaginary animals in the constellations. They are most often seen in alchemical literature, which is the most likely source from which Freemasonry could have taken them. “It is fanciful to suggest that the images on the R.A. banners are associated with the signs of the Zodiac” (Bernard Jones – Freemasons’ Book of the Royal Arch. pp229-230).
Bernard Jones continues pp247-248, –“The ‘Ancients’ discovered the four emblems in a coat of arms associated with a model of Solomon’s Temple originally exhibited in London in 1675 by Jacob Jehudah Leon, and adopted them just as they found them.”
The derivation of the four emblems has been learnedly dealt with by G.S. Shepherd-Jones. He recalls that the very ancient peoples regarded fire, light and air as direct manifestations of the Deity, and symbolised them by the bull, the lion and the eagle: the rage of the bull to denote fire; the piercing eyes of the lion to denote light; and the soaring flight of the eagle to denote air.”
Harry Mendoza in ‘Fifty Royal Arch Questions Answered’ pp65-66, further states: “There is no known evidence to suggest that the signs of the zodiac were specifically included in English Craft or Royal Arch ceremonies”.
However, this is not the case in Chapters working under the auspices of the Supreme Grand Chapter of the Netherlands. The Symbolical Lecture they use has the ensigns borne by the staves arranged round the Tracing Board as the distinctive bearings of the twelve tribes of Israel, and emblematic of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
The signs of the zodiac were certainly used as decorative features in the earliest Freemasons’ Hall as they are in the present Grand Temple in Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street.
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