What if I told you that there is magic and tradition in the brief history of the American Republic? Chances are that you would regard me in disbelief. After all, as a modern former colony and melting pot of many cultures it really feels that the US became a nation and its own culture well too late for such mysticism to exist. But it is there. And it is real.
The Pyramid of the Great Architect – Let’s start with the American dollar and the spooky eye pyramid that somehow tells Nicolas Cage where to find treasure. That is a modern addition to the currency, put into print in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But what is it, really? And what does it mean?
The pyramid serves as a strong foundation and represents strength and the ability to last through the ages. We have all seen the pyramids of Egypt and although they may not be the shining white glory they once were, they still stand and are still quite impressive. The symbolism here is that the US shall endure. Around it, in Latin, are the words ‘Divinity has favored our Undertaking’, showing a mandate from heaven. The whole seal tells us that the nation is favored, strong, and that it shall endure.
Then there is the eye. It floats above the base and it represents the Great Architect of the Universe, a Masonic figure shown enclosed in a triangle that is supposed to show us that we are being watched, and that we must act in an appropriate and moral manner if we are to maintain the mandate of heaven. The seal is essentially a charm and a warning. It tells us that we will be strong and we will remain one nation so long as we maintain a proper moral compass.
The Great Seal – The official national symbol of the United States, more protected by law than the Stars and Stripes and used to authenticate various federal documents, this seal has on one side the Pyramid of the Great Architect, but what is on the other. A figure also placed upon the 1935 dollar bill, the American Bald Eagle.
But what does it mean? There is a great deal of symbolism within. Of course, first is the latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, ‘From the many, one.’ The symbol is a mark of unity between the thirteen nation states that formed the confederacy that fought against England.
In the eagles talons are clasped the olive branch and arrows. It means that the United States has “a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war.” Combined with the all-seeing eye on the back, there is a sense that the US exists for good and a promise that for them war shall always be a last resort. Indeed the eagle’s head is turned toward the olive branches to help emphasize that peace is always the better option.
Note the the very colors of the US presented here are Red, White and Blue. These portray the mystical qualities or meanings of the color from the time. Red shows bravery under hardship, endurance and honor. White shows that the nation is young, pure and naive, one of the new nations of the world. Blue shows a true desire to be vigilant, a stubborness to persevere, and a thirst for justice.
The Donkey and the Elephant – The Donkey was originally a pun against the Dems, but making it into an accepted symbol was the work of American satirist Thomas Nast, the man whose horrid nature brought about the derivative adjective ‘nasty’. He criticized the Democrats and his own Republican party equally, and in time came to categorize the parties as circus animals.
At first The Donkey represented that the party was for ‘jackasses’, or stupid people. But later The Donkey came to represent an Aesop’s Fable. It categorizes the Democrats as a party full of wile and trickery, often to the detriment of the public. They are the Donkey in the Lion’s Skin, deceitful people who boast of one thing while doing another.
When The Elephant was first introduced it represented the powerful will of the Republicans to fight on and fight bravely. But, despite this being the party he loved, Thomas Nast changed it rather quickly. It became the symbol of powerful people acting weak and constantly panicking, often charging off in the wrong direction. The symbol of the modern GOP meant wealth with no back bone, rash action without careful thought.
So what do these symbols mean today? Well, to most people I’d suggest they don’t mean anything. And after reading this article I believe that many will understand the “other party” to be exactly as the symbol once said them to be. But to me, their symbolism means something greater. They represent free speech and free thought. Because after the symbols took on their very denigrating meanings, that was when the very parties being lampooned officially adopted them as the banner of their parties. I struggle to find any politicians anywhere else on the planet that did or do the same. And that uniqueness is a great part of the magic of America.
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