Monday, November 2, 2009

Integrating Masons' Tools with theTara Brooch.

The Tara Brooch was found in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland in August of 1850.  Historians usually date this artifact to around 700 AD, however there is evidence that its origin is much older.   Orthodox archeology identifies is as a garment clasp.  However Peter Dawkins' recent study of its underlying design geometry (See Pi in the Sky by Michael Poynder) has revealed that it is an orienting tool, referencing multiple celestial events as viewed from the Earth. The makers of the brooch employed a simplified, concise geometry  in order to orient buildings to significant celestial events.   The brooch reveals a sophisticated pre-Christian, neolithic culture in the British Isles, that enabled the integration of many complex celestial and global references into their annual event calendars and sacred structures.
At every stage of the design of these masonic panels, I have intuitively felt that the marriage of an historic geometry and ancient tools is appropriate.  What better than to link the ancient masons' hand tools with the equally ancient celestial "survey" instrument that assisted in positioning the building!

The Tara Brooch is a geometric calculator utilizing a simplified concise geometry.  It references equinox sunset and sunrise in the northern British Isles, the celestial equator, the pole star, a sun-centered solar system, the radius of the moon in relation to the radius of the earth, the pyramid angle of 51.42 deg., the division of the circle into one-sevenths and much more.

Ancient Geometry underlying the Tara Brooch
[d'apres Peter Dawkins in Pi in the Sky by M. Poynder]

Masons' Trowel integrated with Ancient Geometry

Masons' Square and Compass, Hammer and Plumb intigrated with Ancient Geometry

Playing with the geometric armature of the Tara Brooch provides an unexpected richness.

Four-fold circular array of Tara Brooch Geometry

Six-fold circular array of Tara Brooch Geometry

Seven-fold extension of Tara Brooch Geometry

Masonic Tools - Symbols Of Transformation

The designs below are inspired by bronze castings inlaid in a travertine marble floor at a masonic temple in Trenton, New Jersey. I am attracted to them for the richness of their physical and symbolic history. The tools are at once ancient, having been used in their current form for thousands of years, and current as they are very much in use on today's construction sites.  They serve as the link betwen the hand of the mason and the physical form of the simple tradesman's dwelling as well the form and volumes of the edifice housing timeless religious and civic ceremony. Over the centuries these tools have enabled the construction of buildings that reference sacred proportions, terrestrial landmarks and celestial events enabling buidlings that are a link to the greater universe. 

At a personal level, the Order of Freemasonry incorporates these tools as symbols of guiding principals as we seek to build our spiritual lives referencing the universal values of love and compassion.  In the designs below I have combined an ancient orienting geometric armature that references terrestrial and celestial landmarks, derived from the Tara Brooch, with the actual image of the tools themselves.  I feel it is fitting that the age-old mason's  tools be joined with this equally ancient and powerful orienting geometry.

The trowel spreads the bonding agent of  mortar from one piece of masonry to another.  It is considered a symbol of the spreading of the mortar of universal love that bonds one person to another.

The hammer or gavel is used to break off the corners of rough stone to fit it for the builder's use.  The hammer is a symbol of divesting our consciences of the impurities of life, thereby preparing our bodies as living stones for a spiritual building.

As the plumb or level tool confirms the right alignment of the building stone to our planet's gravfitational force, the plumb is also a symbol of the individual's right alignment with values of compassion and love.

The compass and square symbolize God as the architect of the universe. Together they represent the convergence of matter and spirit.

The panels as designed, incorporate the golden mean proportion of 1:1.618. The height of each panel is uniformly 44 3/4 inches.