THE MEANING OF THE HOUR GLASS
by Harold Meij
The Hour glass is mentioned in the Third degree lecture, where it is explained that it is an emblem of human life. It symbolizes the eternal passage of time, the sand slipping away until there is no more, and therefore a continual reminder that life is finite, and that therefore we should make the most of it while we can. However, the hour glass is also used in other ways. With its two containers, the hour glass is an analogy between the upper and the lower, and the need to turn the hour glass from top to bottom at times to continue the process symbolizes the continual cycle between life and death, heaven and earth. However, if no action is taken, the sand can only flow one way. This symbolizes our need to reverse, at times, our attitudes and actions for continuity, or we shall always be drawn to one side - the base. This symbolism is also seen in the Temperance card of the Tarot. One part of the hour glass is always full, the other empty and this cycle of emptiness and fullness follow each other - just like in life, where joy and sadness for example often follow each other in cycles. It is also interesting to note that the ascetics St. Ambrose (Patron saint of learning) and St. Magdalene (the first to see Jesus after the resurrection) are each depicted with an hour glass. In European lodges, the chamber of reflection where the candidate is placed prior to initiation, has an hour glass for the candidate to reflect on.
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