Architects Comments

As so far explained, this double-headed, feathered serpent and solar disk has been used as the symbol of light, but it was also the symbol of life; and for this purpose it is used on the gates of the funeral exit at the West, and also leave the Lodge from the West. It was deemed fitting that a funeral procession escorting a departed Mason�s body, leaving his Lodge for the last time, should leave the Temple from the West Gate. Normally, the gates are closed and the symbol of Life is intact, but to open the gates for a Mason�s funeral cortege, the symbol is separated and signifies a break in the life span of a Master Mason.

On the lintel above this gateway is carved the Egyptian scarab, an ancient device signifying the resurrection and immortality. Flanking the ramp of this exit are seven urns, containing seven acacia plants, most significant of the Masonic Funeral Rites.

Flanking the main entrance is a pair of sphinx guarding the entrance to the Temple. These devices are comprised of a lion�s body and a man�s head, signifying great strength and master intelligence and are symbolic of mystery. It is interesting to recall that the Greek sphinx had a woman�s head while that of the Egyptian has a man�s head, so the gender of the sphinx used is important in the design. And, it also was more appropriate to use the man�s head because it symbolizes a Man�s Temple. Between the paws, are granite spheres, polished and inscribed to represent the Celestial Sphere and the Terrestrial Sphere. The head of each sphinx is in position to contemplate the sphere lying between his paws, symbolizing the inspection of the earth and the heavens. The lion�s paws obviously convey a meaning to Masons.

The lighting of the face of each sphinx from the sphere between his paws made necessary a considerable study. Footlights often produce grotesque effects because the shadows are cast upwards instead of down as we are accustomed to see them. The sphinxes were first modeled in clay and in this form were to receive the approval of the committees, after which they were reproduced in granite. Before clay models were approved, lights and reflectors were placed in the assigned position of the sphere and the face studied for shadows. This study resulted in a considerable alteration in the position of the head in order to secure the best result, not only with sunlight in the day, but with artificial lighting at night. Blue, green, and red lights were tried for artificial lighting and it was found that the first two colors were almost obliterated by the white floodlights, so red became the permanent light for the figures.

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