The Compass and the Square

An ancient symbol that is found in various traditions and throughout history is the symbol of the compass. It is often used anciently to represent the female goddess. The purpose of a compass is to create a circle, which entails something with out beginning and without end. It is often the symbol of the heavens, the intangible, spiritual, and ethereal.

The compass is significant in ancient tradition because it also symbolized that which is eternal, and more particularly, something not of this world. These different meanings can be interpreted in terms of its opposite – what it is not; and that is earthly.

The corresponding, but opposite symbol often used with the compass is that of the square. The square has a variety of historical meanings; most of them relating to action. The square often denotes a state of being moral, true to principles, and exact in performing duties and commitments. As a tool, the square is used to make things straight, to build, and to measure. It has in its origins symbolism that denotes that which is finite, earthly, measurable, external, terrestrial, and temporal. It is also symbolic of masculinity and earthliness.

The square and the compass are often conjoined because the square is one-quarter part of the circle. As shown in this diagram:

circle square

This is also a symbol of the four corners of the earth inside a sphere (made by a compass). It is also anciently symbolic of the four fundamental essences: water, air, earth, and fire. The pre-Socratic philosopher Anaximander originally put this forward as a philosophical explanation of the primary elements of earth; or the terrestrial sphere.

The fifth essence, ether, is symbolized as the sphere; and represents the heavens and that which fills the upper regions of space. This heavenly, cosmic essence also denotes purity and that which is non-material.

Combining the four essential essences of fire, wind, earth, and water, with the fifth essence – ether or the heavens, we derive the Latin term, quintus essentia. This is where we get the word quintessence, which means “the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form.” It also has a connotation of wholeness.

This quintessence is symbolized in the conjoining of the compass and the square.  There are two fundamental components that can be identified in this symbolism. There is the feminine component of the compass, and the masculine component of the square.

The compass, traditionally symbolized the female goddess; she who rules the heavens and the non-physical sphere. She is infinite, eternal, spiritual, and intangible.

The square, traditionally symbolized masculinity, earthly, finite, material, and the tangible.

Together these two symbols combine to make quintessence; perfection and wholeness. It strikes a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity.

Consider the balance of the dialectic:

Square          Compass

Male                Female

Finite               Infinite

Ephemeral       Eternal

Material          Immaterial

Earthly            Heavenly

Apparent         Transparent

Bound             Boundless

Measurable     Immeasurable

These traditional symbols symbolize spiritually the roles and nature of men and women.

Understanding how these combine and balance is to also understand the Priesthood and its purpose.

In the Genesis account of the Creation Moses writes, “ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27).

Man and woman, united, constitute God’s image.

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Genesis 5:7).

Calling them Adam, or Adamah (Hebrew), “means from the ground,” tying them to this earthly sphere. Adam, capturing the priesthood role of his perfect counterpart as “the Mother of all living”, named his wife Eve.

This is especially important to note, for the names will reveal a balance in the priesthood, that when combined, is in the image of God.

Temples are the place in which heaven and earth meet. It is where women and men also meet. It is the place that we come in to at-one-ment. Male and female, earth and heaven, and Elohim and their children.

As the woman represents the spiritual and ethereal, it leads me to believe that she is not a natural resident in a fallen world. Her creative powers and priestess-hood is fully expressed in an un-fallen world.

We learn in the scriptures that to enter into the highest realms of the Celestial Kingdom one must enter into the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. This marriage is an ordinance of this highest sort because it is combining man and woman, flesh and spirit, and Earth and Heaven. It is the sanctifying ordinance of Godhood. It is to become Elohim.



Author: Todd McLauchlin

This is an LDS site that is dedicated to the invitation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to awake and arise to the great promises of redemption and transformation. My name is Todd Mclauchlin and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have a love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and would like to share openly my feelings, testimony, and personal perspectives of the Doctrine of Christ. I currently reside in Draper, Utah.

2 thoughts on “The Compass and the Square”

  1. Wow! How thought provoking and spiritually sensible. This will lead to some interesting and profound discussions between my wife and I.
    Thank you!!


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