Ever notice how the streets in DC leading into the White House form an inverted 5-pointed star? No? Well, if not you are not alone. Few people have studied or paid close attention to how our nation’s capitol is laid out and why. The long and the short of it is that DC was conceived with Masonic principles of design that were all the vogue with our Enlightenment inspired founding fathers.
Every corner of DC is infused with Masonic symbolism and design from the ground up city layout to the symbols in the trim and statuary of nearly every building. These were all the things that would in the minds of our founding fathers be in keeping with the grandness of their sense of destiny and vision for our nation.
Washington laid the first cornerstone for DC in full Masonic regalia, in a ceremony attended by fellow American dignitaries also in their Masonic garb. The painting of this moment is worth examining.
Did you know that all the roads in DC and the whole orientation of the city was mapped out from a center point of the Capitol Building in the crypt under the main rotunda? This crypt was supposed to be George Washington’s burial place, though it is empty because once the Capitol was finished his estate reneged on the promise by Martha to place him there (George wanted to be buried at Mt Vernon, which is where he currently lies).
In the rotunda above this spot is a painting called The Apotheosis of George Washington in which Old George can be seen sitting in Heaven in billowing garb, with beautiful women lounging on either side of him.
Not quite the 72 virgins promised to martyrs in the Islamic version of Paradise, but pretty good for a lukewarm Episcopalian.
There is just no getting around the ceremonial weirdness and Hermetic symbolism embedded all over the Capitol.
If we were all well educated Masons like many of the founding fathers, I am sure it would all make sense. But since we are not, from the outside at least it is a town built upon what is essentially old rich white men’s voodoo invoked and memorialized in metal and stone.
To what end?
Time will tell, but it is fair to say that its goals had something to do with using all means available (ceremonial, architectural, symbolic and artistic) to consolidate power over time in a certain place for a certain purpose.
Let’s hope time judges it to be a good one.