Heaven and Earth
The compasses and the (Mason's) square with equal branches were used in the Middle Ages for stone cutting and the construction of sacred structures. They are obviously associated with the circle and the square. These two geometric figures respectively represent Heaven characterized by the zodiac and Earth oriented according to the four compasses points.
When both tools are combined as in Masonic symbolism, the compasses are naturally located above the square just as Heaven covers Earth. Let us note that in the above image, one of the compasses branches stands over and the other one underneath the branches of the square. This corresponds to the predominance of celestial influences in one case and terrestrial influences in the other. In other words, the branch of the compasses in the foreground characterizes the descending path from Heaven towards Earth and the branch behind the ascending path from Earth towards Heaven. In case both square branches are above the compasses branches, the ascending path from Earth to Heaven alone is taken into account 1.
Between the compasses and the square we mostly find the “flaming Star”. This five-branched star symbolizes Man (for more details, see the European flag) or more precisely the Master Mason. More generally, it represents the initiate, gleaming in the celestial light in the middle of the terrestrial obscurity.
The Master Mason consequently belongs to the intermediary world between Heaven and Earth. He represents the perfectly accomplished terrestrial being on the way towards the celestial accomplishment. According to the Chinese tradition, it is a matter of the fully human or true being on the way towards the supra-human or transcending being. Or according to the words of the Egyptian tradition, it is a matter of the being initiated to the “little mysteries”, an essential step on the way towards the initiation to the “great mysteries”.
At the centre of the flaming Star, the letter G represents the divine Principle, the One that lies in the heart of the regenerated being (for more details, see the heart symbol). The central letter corresponds to the letter iod of the Hebraic alphabet transformed into G further to a phonetic equivalence with God (
G stands for God).