Masonic Traveler, 2010 Digital Illustration Gregory B Stewart
The cover art for the 2010 book Masonic Traveler: Under the Shadow of Jehovah’s Wing.
This work is a composite of sorts that combining a variety of digital images both found and created through the medium of Photoshop. While other works have included an element of deeper meaning, this illustration functioned more in the literal sense in conveying the context of the work.
When the book was published, it was its own passion project featuring a collection of essays on Freemasonry.
The book, from its description, is self-described as “…a work at a crossroads; the product of nascent alchemy that is the personal expression of study of the highest form of the Western Mystery traditions known as Freemasonry. This work is more than a history book or an evaluation of ancient symbols. Rather it is about the personal journey of becoming a Freemason, studying its nuance, finding and mapping its parallels, and assimilating it into daily life. Included in the work is a consideration of the beehive, the symbolic attribution of the tenants of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the symbolic meaning behind King Solomon’s Temple, and much more. This work is a journal of a Masonic Traveler.”
On a personal level, this work was my first foray into collecting and publishing written work on Freemasonry. Other works include The Apprentice, Fellow of the Craft, and Master Mason.
Masonic Traveler: Under the Shadow of Jehovah’s Wing available on Amazon.
U.S. Masonic Presidents, 2012 Digital Illustration Gregory B Stewart
Freemasonry has a rich history wrapped in American political culture. In particular, a history tied to several American Presidents. This digital illustration is an encapsulation of those great (and infamous) political leaders.
What makes this piece all the more meaningful is the quote from Washington woven into the virtual fabric of the illustration. Washington’s quote to the members of King David’s Lodge in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, reads, “Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the Masonic Fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them as a deserving brother.”
The text in the background Is Thomas Paine’s The Origin of Freemasonry.
Of particular interest in the art is how the presidents surrounding Washington are rendered. Using a technique to produce an engraving like quality, each President has the same appearance as the image Washington on the one-dollar bill.
Modern Third-Degree Masonic Tracing Board. 2006 Digital illustration Gregory B. Stewart
This work is a modern representation of the Masonic First-Degree Tracing Boards of old. It is filled with metaphor and symbolism, fluent to all Apprentice Masons.
Tracing boards are visual mnemonics created to illustrate the meanings and principals of Freemasonry as taught within the degrees. The symbolism is very Western, but the symbolism has been adapted for the modern mason.
In the image there are many symbolic cues. In adapting this piece, the most significant change is the replacing of the Holy Bible with the major religious symbols of the world. These symbols of faith, in my opinion, represent the modern Freemason.
What this work represents visually is the journey through which the a neophyte becomes an apprentice mason. On that journey, he is introduced to the three Graces, the allegorical ladder, and the idea of the pillars, crowned here with the sun, moon and blazing star in the canopy of the heavens.
Since this work was originally created it has appeared in a number of locations around the world including as murals, covers to esoteric works and emblems of fraternal societies. It strikes a cord for many at a deep level, capturing the essence of initiation into Freemasonry.
Ein Sof (or Ayn Sof) into Malkuth: The Endless One, No End, Unending, Becoming, 2014 Pen and ink Gregory B. Stewart
Originally created as the major frontispiece for The Apprentice, the following is a short selection of the descriptive text that accompanied it. It reads:
Upon the frontispiece of this short work is an illustration depicting the transformative journey from chaos to order – from Ein Sof into the sphere of Malkuth.
Those looking upon this image for the conventions of Masonic initiation will not see them and become quickly lost in its relevant symbolism and devices. While this board purports to hold secret symbolism, its allegorical lesson is not in its many parts, but in its overall message of transformation. What it represents is initiation and transformation, from chaos to order (ordo ab chao), presenting the initiate the opportunity to ascend higher into the limbs of the majestic Kabbalistic Tree of Life, itself a metaphor of transformation in understanding our evolution to the divine.
The chaos from which we come is like a network of roots warped and entwined, choking and starving for nourishment that comes from the light above. Its network striking deep into the foundations of the Prima Materia, the primal earth, never knowing or understanding that their nourishment and growth comes from above.
The Allegorical Tree, 2015
Pen and ink
Gregory B. Stewart
This work was devised as the small frontispiece image and book cover for the work, The Apprentice,
Originally appearing barely larger than a postage stamp, the symbolism at work in this image resonates much more deeply when observed at a larger scale. In it, the tree represents a literal tree of life, emulating the movement and nuance of the imagined tree of the Kabbalistic tradition.
The tree of life is a symbolic representation of an inner journey through progressive steps of enlightenment. The present-day symbol has been adapted from Western Mysticism which has syncretic origins from Jewish mysticism through the adoption of the Kabbalah. In both these approaches, the symbol functions as a scaffold or schema where the initiate progresses up and down the structure through various learnings and meditations.
In this use, the tree of life is a direct representation through the degrees of blue lodge and Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
By taking that path, the literal and allegorical tree of life grows and branches up into the higher degrees. While this may not be part of the masonic cannon, it has found resonance in many of the esoteric aspects of the first three and higher degrees.
The Lighthouse. 2015 Pen and ink Gregory B. Stewart
Created as an illustrative frontispiece to the work Fellow of the Craft, The Lighthouse is a visual representation of the allegorical climb into the middle chamber of King Solomon’s temple.
While obviously not Solomon’s temple the visual here takes it cue from the great lighthouse of Alexandria and the many tiers necessary to ascend to reach the bright illuminated top. In this representation, the lighthouse is symbolic of the light acquired in the climb between the degrees.
The decision to use this image as opposed one more familiar to other representations was a risk in the conceptualization of the book. Rather than a waterford and sheafs of wheat, the underlying symbolism of the second degree of Freemasonry is the elevation towards the light of wisdom through he middle chamber of the temple. With that in mind, this image is the essence of that metaphorical journey in a house of light.
Modern Second-Degree Masonic Tracing Board. 2007
Gregory B. Stewart
From its original context, this digital illustration represents the process of becoming a Fellow of the Craft in Freemasonry.
As it was included in the book, Fellow of the Craft, part of the text that accompanies the work reads:
In this image, you will notice several key aspects of the degree. We must interpret the image and the degree overall so as to contemplate it more as a sum total equation and see it as a reflection on our own personal journey of the Great Work.
Between the pillars of Boaz and Jachin on the left and right, bordered by the waters of primordial chaos and the canopy of heaven, we begin our inward journey of perfection. This journey is an eternal one and concluded only in reaching and understanding the divine through a faith practice or in the perfection of our being through the contemplative tradition we ascribe.
As this is only the second step in the journey, it is one its recipients should spend many years perfecting and renewing so as to reach a level of enlightenment and joy which comes at the end of a life well spent.
Created as the cover image for the book, this rendering evolved out of what started as a meditative sketching session resulting in a rough, but finished, study of the esoteric tree.
The context and symbolism in the work is vast, from the three pillars towering over the all-seeing eye of the great architect but connected to the trees anchored to the firmament below.
The symbolism here-in is that of the three pillars in the construct of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Known individually as Strength, Wisdom and Beauty, these iconic emblems are the subtext to the becoming of a Master Mason in the tradition.
A Sad Object of Death. 2017 Pen and ink, Gregory B. Stewart Illustration from the book, The Master Mason.
This work appears in the interior of the book, The Master Mason.
The text it accompanies reads:
“Finding the fellow of the craft free of complicity in the death of Hiram, the master of the lodge turns the candidate to the East, presenting for his view a ‘sad object’ of death—a small skull—whose meaning is said to say ‘I have been, and I am no more,’ and whose further allegorical teaching is to suggest ‘all of the evils which oppress mankind.’”
As overt as the symbolism is in this work, its meaning is just as overt in the contemplation of any memento mori. The skull, quite obviously and composed as such, represents the contemplation of death and the afterlife.
This work, Anima Mundi, is an amalgam of the various traditions at work in a Hermetic understanding at work within Freemasonry.
In its summation, the illustration brings together elements of the first and second degrees by means of an armillary sphere at the bottom (from the Apprentice degree) and the multi-storied tower or ziggurat structure (from the Fellow of the Craft degree) crowned now by the full moon in eclipse by the both living and dead tree of life. These elements bringing the viewer through a visual representation of the first two steps of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life: First through the Sepheriot of Malkuth, the foundation; then up upon the path of Tav — our pathway from the firmament into the heavens.
At last, the observer being made to approach the final leg of the journey on their way to the symbolic lodge. The goal of this journey to become a master and gaze out into the universe for what comes next.
The work is highly symbolic and serves to educate as much as entertain the viewer with its symbolism.