The Broken Square and Alpha & Omega

The following monitorial instructions on the Royal Master degree appear on pp. 23-24 and pp. 30-31 of “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council” by Albert G. Mackey.

The Broken Square.

The square, containing four equal sides and four equal angles, is the most perfect figure in geometry. Hence in Masonry it is the universally acknowledged symbol of perfection. And as that condition of perfection was so pre-eminently exhibited in the mystical union of our three Grand Masters, whose Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty devised, erected, and adorned the temple, so the Broken Square, by the dismemberment of the perfect figure, is emblematic of that imperfection and loss which ensued upon the untimely death of one of the three.

If, therefore, the Triple Triangle is peculiarly appropriate to the Royal Arch, as symbolic of the perfect union of the Illustrious Three, so is the Broken Square equally appropriate to the Royal Master, as symbolic of the unhappy dissolution of that union by death. The Broken Square is preeminently the symbol of this degree.

Alpha & Omega.

Alpha (A) is the first and Omega (Ω) is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, equivalent to the beginning and the end or the first and the last of any thing. The Jews used the first and last letters of their alphabet, Aleph (א) and Tav (ת), to express the same idea, but St. John, although a Hebrew, used the Grecian letters in the Apocalypse, because he was writing in the Greek language.

Alpha and Omega are adopted as a symbol of the Deity, and are found repeatedly in mediaeval paintings attached to representations of Christ as God. Prudentius, in his 9th hymn, gives expression to this idea:—

“Alpha et Omega cognominatur ipse; fons et clausula, Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt, vel post futura sunt.”

“Alpha and Omega is He called; the source and end of all things which are, which were, or will hereafter be.”

The passage from the Apocalypse, which is read during the circumambulation, is therefore exceedingly appropriate in referring, by this symbol, to the eternal nature of God, since that is the great truth for which, under the form of the WORD, the candidate is in search.

The full text of Mackey’s monitorial instructions on the Royal Master degree may be found at:

Royal Master from Mackey’s “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council”