The spatial orientation
Just as day and night, space and time are inseparable, for they are linked to the movement of astral bodies. As far as one goes back in time, man always found his bearings with the help of the sun and stars:
- At daylight, man finds his way according to the position of the sun. The vertical of the observation place rises up to the zenith where the sun at its culmination projects a shadow on the horizon showing the southern direction. The observer can thus find his bearings along the four compass points. They draw with the vertical a three-dimensional cross related to the solar orientation.
- At night, man finds his way according to the position of the polar star and stars accomplishing an apparent revolution around the celestial pole axis situated at the vertical of the equator plane. The incline of this axis on the horizon gives the northern direction. The four compass points of the equator plane form with the pole axis another three-dimensional cross related to the polar orientation.
The solar orientation takes the axis of the observer into consideration whereas the polar one is linked to the axis of the Cosmos. Consequently, it is natural to associate the first orientation to the individual or microcosm and the second to the Cosmos or macrocosm (for more details, see the orientation and tradition).
The three-dimensional cross is a symbol of all the space of the being and Cosmos. It depicts the full spreading, at once horizontal and vertical, of space:
- Any horizontal plan corresponds to the deployment of the indefinite multitude of modes associated with an existence state. Its intersection with the vertical represents the centre of this state, the balance point between antagonisms figured by symmetrical points of the plan relatively to the centre.
- All points of the vertical depict the indefinite multitude of the centres of all states of existence represented by horizontal plans.
It follows that the centre of the being or Cosmos, the Centre of all centres of existence states is not localizable; it is beyond the visible space and symbolizes the Principle at the source of all manifested beings and things. Nevertheless, it is usual to consider the centre of the three-dimensional cross as representative of the centre of the being or Cosmos from the manifestation standpoint (for more details, see the rainbow colours).
Let us note that the three-dimensional crosses associated with the being and Cosmos have the horizontal east-west axis in common. This aspect does nothing but underline the natural harmony existing between the being and the Cosmos. And it is not by chance if this axis joining light and darkness is privileged in the construction of the sacred structures, which can be oriented according to two directions:
- The east-west direction linking daylight to night darkness as in the Temple of Solomon or the Lodge of the (Ancient and Accepted) Scottish Masonic Rite. This axis refers to the polar orientation.
- The west-east direction connecting night darkness to daylight as in the Romanesque Basilica, the Gothic Cathedral or the Lodge of the Scottish and French Masonic Rites. This axis is associated with the solar orientation.
The polar and solar orientations are linked to the apparent cyclic movements of the stars in general and sun in particular. These daily cycles are in line with the longer cycles of the seasons, astral bodies and more generally Cosmos.