Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal
by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D
Review by Karl Schlotterbeck
Certainly, this is a book for anyone interested in American history or in the various secret societies that may have had an influence on America’s founding. Dr. Hieronimus uses the development of the Great Seal and the relatively recent appearance of the reverse side of the seal as signifying a positive change in America’s destiny.
Beginning with the way the Iroquois Confederacy was used as a model for the development of this country, he writes, “This rich Native American democratic tradition was the real source of the new Americans’ distinctive political ideals. Indeed, centuries before Columbus arrived in the New World, democracy was alive and well, just waiting for the Founding Fathers to discover it.” Also mentioned are pre-Columbian visitors to North America and legends of Masonic concepts and practices existing among Native groups – including the speculation of one writer that this may have come through Druids.
In his historical context of his subject, he includes the development of Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, various Illuminati groups, along with biographical information about of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson (including their astrological charts) and lesser known players.
Of particular interest to Hieronimus is how both sides of the Great Seal were designed but only the one side was ever struck – the side we usually see with an eagle, arrows, stars, etc. The reverse side (with pyramid and eye-in-triangle floating over it) was never struck and did not even come to public display until it was put on the one-dollar bill in the 1930’s. Fundamentalists have objected to the design on the reverse with paranoid ideation linking (in their imagination) the pyramid with such nefarious organizations as the United Nations, Zionism, NATO, Communism, taxes and secret societies.
Hieronimus, if I read him accurately, makes a more indirect connection between the design and these groups, giving the design a much deeper and archetypal meaning that speaks of the Founding Fathers’ dual vision for this country. The two sides, as he sees it, indicate their vision that included both physical and spiritual destinies. To that end, Hieronimus analyzes the symbols found on both sides, including the Latin phrases (which contain both Pagan and Christian origins). For example, he relates the pyramid to the sacred mountain and thereby the Great Mother, the floating eye to the Eye of Horus and the polestar, and the number 13 as representing transition - not just the number of states. The reverse side of the seal is more than a sign for some time-limited society; it is an archetypal image pointing to our self-realization and rebirth.
Further, Hieronimus asserts that the rise in interest in the reverse side of the seal during the last century paralleled the rise of feminine consciousness and may be “initiating a higher level of integration in the American consciousness. . .”
In Appendices to the main body of the work, Hieronimus also includes various theories about the age and meaning of the pyramids; and a discussion of the nature of talismans.
On a personal note, I knew Robert Hieronimus when, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he taught classes in symbology and was well-known in Baltimore for his symbolic murals and other paintings. His interest and expertise in symbols is one of the primary cornerstones of his work.
Founding Fathers, Secret Societies is a rich feast of history, esoteric movements, symbology, and psycho-sociology.
Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal, by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D., with Laura Cortner. Published by Destiny Books, 2006. Recommended.