The compass and the line of life

In the drawing made by a compass, we can observe a circle, that is, an infinity, and a point - the beginning that brings to mind the Absolute.

The compass and the line of life

A compass, as a drawing tool, „is a technical drawing instrument that can be used for inscribing circles or arcs. Compasses can be used for mathematics, drafting, navigation and other purposes“ (Wikipedia).

The compass is also used in mystical symbolism, for example, next to the square, it is considered the main symbol of Freemasonry. A sign of total classical order and mathematical layout; a symbol of wisdom, knowledge, reason, creative and active forces of God and man in connection and mutual cooperation. In the drawing made by a compass, we can observe a circle, that is, an infinity, and a point – the beginning that brings to mind the Absolute.

How does the wisdom of creative shaping of reality, hidden in the symbol, work? After all, no tool works self-actively.

We see two blades dividing the plane of the material base, a blank sheet, like two hands wide open, prepared just before the act of work, action, and creation. Movement is taking place. We see the cause and effect. The allegory of life and shape, spirit and matter, and the power of co-creation of the Universe. The idea and its drawn form, or circle, cyclicity of nature, the sciences, geometry, astronomy, and therefore reason, knowledge, ingenuity, calculation, planning or a specific order in the Universe.

It can be considered that as an instrument of planning activities, and drawing skills, the compass is a symbol of active creative power, interaction between the master and his instrument, mental prudence, sagacity, but also temperance, truth, and mathematical precision. The compass is an attribute of various sciences, it is their embodiment: geometry, astronomy, architecture, geography.

They all bring knowledge to man. The symbolic traditions of the Freemasons reveal that the assignment of different angles of opening of the arms of the compass relate to various degrees of spiritual development: for example, the angle of 90° (which also the square sets out) means the balance of spiritual and material forces.

According to Ovid (43-17 BC), the inventor of the compass was said to be Talos, Daedalus‘ nephew. The poet wrote about him: „He was also the first to pivot two iron arms on a pin, so that, with the arms at a set distance, one part could be fixed, and the other sweep out a circle[1].

The movement of a body around another body describes an orbit. In this way nature puts planets and atoms into motion. From the smallest elements to the multiverses. Point and circle. Do we not also act like this?

Ah … if only, as the most magnificent architects, we could draw a picture of our life.

Man is used to reading events, actions, fate, and time linearly. Is it not a paradox? We are surrounded by space but our perception is flat.

We each receive a different start in life and we also gather a different harvest at its end. One supposedly determines the other, but on the basis of my personal experience I will say boldly that I disagree with it.

We are not condemned to blind fate, and the destiny with which we come into this world, and our conscious experience of time, planning, setting goals and actions is a continuous art of making choices, perfecting skills, and following the path that leads to the Great Architect.

The symbol of the compass every day reminds a seeker that the tools for such actions, for consciously drawing our future, are at hand. You only have to realize it and sincerely desire to use them.


[1] Metamorphoses, Ovid, Bk VIII:236-259 The death of Talos, A. S. Kline’s Version

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Date: December 20, 2018
Author: Agate Gold (Poland)
Photo: Pixabay CCO

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