A number of years ago, my father gave me a small pendent of an anchor. I wore it on a necklace, similar to the way Christians wear crosses. I never felt comfortable wearing a cross, none of them ever felt “right” and I never had a Christian Science “cross and crown” pendent, although for a time I longed for one because everyone at Principia seemed to wear one as a little symbol of their faith. They had their cross to bear, I had my anchor to keep me grounded.
I stopped wearing my anchor shortly after I had my first child, the little grabby hands would yank on my necklace (and any jewelry I wore) so it was tucked safely into a drawer. Not forgotten about, just put aside until the children were out of the grabby phase.
At first it was difficult not wearing a necklace all the time. The anchor had served as a little reminder not to get swept up in the madness that could so easily permeate every day activities – the drama of the mothers groups, the baby who refused to sleep, the unceasing mountains of laundry, my father’s deteriorating health.
When my father passed away last year, I inherited some of his Masonic books. Dad was a 32nd degree mason, and while not particularly active in the movement, he did enjoy wearing his masonic jewelry – a ring with an impressive diamond (it had been in an engagement ring which “came back” so he decided to keep it for himself), and small pin.
In my “spare time,” I enjoy reading esoteric literature (even if it is often over my head), and Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry falls firmly into that category. I was flipping though it the other day and came across the entry for ANCHOR AND ARK, which made me smile:
As an emblem of hope, the anchor is peculiarly a Christian, and thence a Masonic, symbol. It is first found inscribed on the tombs in the catacombs of Rome, and the idea of using it is probably derived from the language of Saint Paul (Hebrews vi, 19), ”which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast.”The primitive Christians looked upon life as a stormy voyage, and glad were the voyagers when it was done, and they had arrived safe in port. Of this the anchor was a symbol, and when their brethren carved it over the tomb, it was to them an expression of confidence that he who slept beneath had reached the haven of eternal rest.…“The anchor,” says Mrs. Jameson in her Sacred and Legendary Art (1, page 34), “is the Christian symbol of immovable firmness, hope, and patience; and we find it very frequently in the catacombs, and on the ancient Christian gems.”…“The ark and anchor are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life. They are emblematical of that Divine ark which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary shall find rest.” (1)
My little pendent was exactly what I had envisioned it: the anchor that safely moored me in a peaceful harbor. I will forgive the Christian imagery, and the reference to St. Paul. It was a reminder of my inner strength, what Steiner would call “inner quiet.”
Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong.
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will’s resolve.
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being,
When by my steadfast striving
I become strong
The source of strength,
The strength of inner quiet.
– Rudolf Steiner
For now, my little anchor is safely stowed away. Now, on occasion, I wear a beautifully carved piece of jade instead, it was found among my father’s things. I often wonder what the story behind it is — my mother had never seen it before and has been unable to provide any answers. I’m sure my father would’ve told me it was from his time in the Far East, from his time in Singapore or Dubai. There would be some romantic or adventurous story behind it, although he just as easily could’ve picked it up in a curio shop in Europe, New Orleans, or New York.
[Jade] is regarded as a symbol of the good, the beautiful and the precious. It embodies the Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage, yet it also symbolises the female-erotic. …. In ancient Egypt, jade was admired as the stone of love, inner peace, harmony and balance. In other regions and cultures too, jade was regarded as a lucky or protective stone.
I think the jade pendent is more fitting for my current stage in life: as a mother I should attempt to be wise, just, compassionate, modest and courageous. The reminder to strive for inner peace, harmony and balance is one that I should heed. Jade is not mentioned by the Freemasons — as far as I can tell, it is not listed in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences by Albert G. Mackey, 1929. I find this comforting.
Neither the anchor nor the jade are the source of my Inner Quiet, only I am responsible for that: with my own will’s resolve, I will feel the quiet pouring through all my being. They are merely symbols, reminders to strive for something more – inner peace, harmony, compassion.
Image via http://www.themasonictrowel.com
- Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences by Albert G. Mackey, 1929 p. 75 (or http://www.themasonictrowel.com/ebooks/freemasonry/eb0091.pdf which appears to be an accurate PDF rendering of the aforementioned text
- International Colored Gemstone Association