I’ve been accused in the past of being resistant to change, which I consider more than a little strange because I see myself as someone who loves change: I love to stir things up, move things on, question the way things have been done, inject freshness where things have become a little stale; I see myself as something of a catalyst, someone who can see to the core of things and recognise what’s important and worth keeping and what could be changed or pruned or jettisoned.
I bring this up because I’ve found myself looking carefully at the latest rebranding of UGLE and wondering how I feel about it. I was at a Lodge meeting the other day (I’m sorry to say it was my first for a long time as geography and work conspire to keep me away) and already some of my fellows were wearing badges with the new UGLE logo…They’d donated to the latest Festival Fund, I believe, or some other worthy cause and were proudly sporting the badges: Square on top, Compass beneath and a red heart in between. Visually very attractive and, yes, it looks clean and modern and, in many ways I like it.
I asked one of my Brethren about it. Did he like it? What about its deeper significance? Its symbolism? Did he feel that the separation of Square and Compass took something away from the deeply spiritual message of the older configuration?
He didn’t know. He hadn’t thought about it and, not to be horrible, he didn’t much care. “It’s just a badge,” he said. “It shows I paid some money to a charity. It’s a sign of that.”
I dropped it.
But it troubles me… I can’t deny it.
As I said, I actually like the look of the new logo: it is clean & modern & recognisable… But is it a symbol as we are used to understand symbols in Freemasonry; or is it just a corporate logo? Is there a difference? Does it matter? Do we care?
‘What is Freemasonry?’
‘A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbol.’
This is one of the first bits of ritual we learn. It carries a profound and important truth: that symbols are key to understanding Freemasonry. I was reading a book recently which suggested we should study no more than two or three symbols a year, so deep are their meanings, and that every symbol reveals its secrets only after deep thought, meditation and study. What it looks like is only the first step of the progression of insight and meaning it can give to us.
As Freemasons, I would like to think that we are more awake to the power and importance of symbols than many and I would suggest that some of our symbols are as important and significant as our other ‘Landmarks’ in anchoring us unswervingly to core of what Freemasonry is all about.
So what are my objections to this new logo?
Well, obviously, they are symbolic.
We know that the Square and Compasses have many meanings and lessons to teach us. The Square represents our conduct; the Compasses set the due bounds of our spheres of action and influence. The Square represents the Craft as the Compasses represent the Grand Master; the relative positions of the Square and Compasses have deep significance in our Lodges as they mark the progress of a Candidate on his journey from Darkness to Light.
The Square and Compasses interwoven also represent something, illustrated further in the Royal Arch, that points to a great Spiritual Truth: the coming together of God and Man to unfold the Divine Plan. God descends to Man as Man strives to ascend to God and in this integration, the Plan is accomplished; God is Man’s energiser, his life-giver, Man is God’s instrument on Earth. Spirit without Matter is Being without action; Matter without Spirit is dead.
The Square and Compasses intertwined reveal a deep Truth about our relationship with our Creator and about the nature and function of Freemasonry itself.
In separating the two, I fear that we might actually be symbolising the fact that we have lost sight of our true function and deeper meaning; that we might have become what a new logo and a ‘rebrand’ suggest in this modern world of ours, that we are just another corporation, and that in looking for a modern look and nice, clean lines, we may, inadvertently, have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.
Somebody tell me I’m wrong…