The Pomegranate and its Representation in Freemasonry

W Bro Leonardo Monno, Media Team member, invites you to consider the pomegranate and its symbolism in freemasonry and in a wider context. We have been exposed to the word in our ritual without perhaps realising its significance for us.

In nature the pomegranate is native to the Middle East and Asia Minor and has been farmed there since ancient times.

However, it can thrive in a variety of soils and temperatures.

Pomegranates were thought to have aphrodisiac properties in antiquity and Hippocrates lauded its medicinal virtues.

In ancient Greece, they identified the Pomegranate with the goddess Aphrodite (Venus for the Romans) who represented beauty, sensuality, fertility.

In Islam, they reference the fruit three times in the Holy Book, the Koran; twice as an example of God’s creations and once as a fruit found in the Garden of Eden.

Judaism regards the fruit as the badge of fertility of their Promised Land.

Aphrodites

The Christians represent it in many sacred vestments and reproduce it in religious iconographies.

In Hinduism, the pomegranate is a favourite fruit of the elephant-headed God Ganesh and in ancient Babylon, warriors chewed seeds hoping the strength they received from the fruit would make them invincible in battle.

In Spain, the fruit is found on the heraldic symbol of the Andalusian Capital city of Granada the name of which is etymologically linked with the Spanish word for pomegranate.

Coat of Arms of Granada, Spain

In Freemasonry, the pomegranate is an emblem of the spiritual communion that binds Masons together during an initiation ceremony in the Lodge and gives life to what we may call “the fruit of Brotherhood”.

The bitter, hard bark that conceals its delectable pulp represents the contrast between appearances and truth.

The vivid crimson granules personify the Brethren, whilst each chamber that contains those granules epitomizes a Masonic Lodge.

The concept of the pomegranate being a symbol of unity is reinforced even in the Templar Tradition.

Before every battle the Knights recited The Psalm of Brotherhood or Fraternal Life (Psalm 133 – “Ecce quam bonum“) a sacred hymn that encapsulated the Masonic concept of remaining strong by resonating in harmony.

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum abitare fratres in unum”, sang the knights, which translates: “Behold how good and joyful is for the Brethren to dwell together in unity”.

According to the Books of Kings, the two molten brass pillars called Jachin and Boaz that stood at the porch-way entrance of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem were engraved with pomegranates.

The explanation of the second degree Tracing Board states that those “pillars were adorned with two chapiters”.

Each chapiter was enriched with net-work, lily-work and pomegranates” which “from the exuberance of their seeds, denote plenty”.

The pomegranate season runs from September to December and it coincides with the periods of the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, which both have a special meaning in Freemasonry.

Autumn is also that time of year when we have to create a space within ourselves for what will come next and make fertile ground for our dreams to grow.

In the Autumn nature changes, the animals prepare for the long winter and men celebrate the end of the second harvest of the season.

Grand Master apron

Even Freemasons associate the Autumn Equinox with a time for harvesting, though of a different kind.

The new Masonic year, in fact, begins in the Autumn with the installation in each Lodge of a new Master and Officers.

These are chosen from Brethren who duly practiced virtue, adhered to the Landmarks of the Order, obeyed its laws, applied themselves to the study of the Liberal arts and sciences, observed the duties of their stations and made a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.

Essentially, it the time when they harvest what good they sowed over the previous year or years.

Ultimately, it has to be noted that the symbol of the pomegranate is so important as to even feature on the apron of a Grand Master of the Order and his Deputy, as you can see in the picture.

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