Super Bowl XLVII will be one of those forgotten contests for its improbable match-up of the San Francisco 49ers versus the Baltimore Ravens. As The Magpie Mason, my heart tells me to bet on the Ravens, but everything else compels me to go with the 49ers. But we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are obliged by our tenures to look beyond temporal indicators, and to consider the symbolic, the allegorical, the unexpected.
The San Francisco 49ers’ name derives of course from California history. The Gold Rush populated the California territory and turned it into an economic powerhouse that helped shape the destiny of our country as a whole. Bank of America is, I suppose, the most obvious financial legacy to have survived to this day.
Gold. In alchemy, gold is that state of material perfection the ancient scientists tried to make from base metal, like lead. One of the most precious and beautiful metals, gold is linked to the element Fire and its planetary complement is the sun, unsurprisingly. Even when melted or liquefied by fire, gold retains its luster and spellbinding color. It is incorruptible, immune to tarnishing and corrosion, and has been the basis for wealth throughout recorded human history.
|It's game time!|
In spiritual alchemy, gold is emblematic of that same state of perfection, but this time the transmutation is that of mortal man to a being at one with god. (Many thousands of words could be written about this one aspect of symbolism, but it’s almost game time.) The alchemical symbol for gold is a design instantly recognizable to any Apprentice Mason.
And what is forty-nine? It equals 7x7. Seven is a holy, magic number reminding us of seven days, seven planets, seven rungs of perfection, the seven petals of the rose, seven archangels, seven steps of the Buddha, and many other signs to look for.
7 = 4 + 3. Four symbolizes earth, with its cardinal points of the compass. Three symbolizes heaven, with various trinities denoting many of humanity’s religious archetypes. A full moral life can be explained with the number seven, as the four Cardinal Virtues (Fortitude, Temperance, Prudence, and Justice) are matched to the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Likewise the seven Liberal Arts and Sciences consist of its quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy) and trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic), making for a wholly rounded education.
So, with seven squared, you’re really looking at something!
Now the Ravens.
In recent centuries, the raven has been a symbol of death and bad omens, but in the larger picture of human culture, this bird has an overall favorability. In Genesis, Noah deploys a raven to find land, making the bird a symbol of clear-sightedness. Likewise to the ancient Greeks, the raven was sacred in the Apollo cult, and served as a messenger of the gods in addition. In myths from Ireland to Scandinavia to Africa, the raven played its part as symbol of creativity and other positive meanings.
The Baltimore football team chose its name in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, the poet who lived and worked much of his life in Baltimore. And died there. In fact, the 168th anniversary of the publication of “The Raven” was only a few days ago.
Again thousands more words could be spilled on this subject, but kick-off is moments away. Enjoy the game.