The square is used symbolically in spiritual and esoteric artwork to represent attributes of the four.
In the many ancient writings, the four was expressed using nature; the four directions, the four winds, the four seasons, the four elements, the four evangelists and so on. Maybe you know some of your own.
It was only when man began creating artwork and taking an active approach to understand and teach mathematics that the square appeared in artwork.
But essentially, the four – and thus the square – represents the physical aspect of man, earth and laying foundations. On a deeper level, the four represents, the body and all our attributes of conscious awareness and the need for stability.
In the eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, the square represents the physical plane, the Earth. It also signifies the physical body of man.
Stupas, that represent the mind of the enlightened Buddha are always built on square foundations because they are the most solid. And thus the human body and mind has to lay solid foundations for us to reach higher consciousness.
The spirit in man
The same concept is seen throughout all other ancient religions as well. The Greeks used the mathematical problem of ‘squaring the circle’ to symbolically teach alchemical students that the conscious mind and the unconscious mind are all part of the same essence.
This concept is still prevalent in today’s society. The Seal of Solomon is sometimes found composed of two interlocking squares. And note how the seal below is encased in a circle and also has a circle in the centre.
The square is also one of the most important symbols of Freemasonry. The symbol is included in the masonic logo, the square and compass, which plays on the ancient Greek’s “circling the square” conundrum.
The esoteric wisdom contained in the square and compass is the knowledge that spirit – symbolised by a circle – resides in man. The square remember represents the physical body. First degree masons are told the square represents qualities of uprightness, honest, virtue and dependability.
When I was at school, the word ‘square’ was used as an insult towards somebody that was boring for studying or knowing too much. It therefore becomes associated with negative connotations rather than the positive attributes taught to freemasons.
Furthermore, the square in masonry is a symbol for regulating life and correcting character weaknesses in search of inner harmony. The reason it is included in their most promoted trademark is because the square belongs to ‘the Master’.
In other words, the square represents a person that is master of his/her thoughts, actions and emotions. When we master our mind we live in peace and thrive on the physical plane.
Furthermore, it is through our physical body that we channel consciousness to experience life as a human being. But if the ancients say we are pure love, why is there so much hate and suffering in the world?
Buddha provides the answer and explains how we overcome negative energies in his four noble truths of Buddhism; dukkha, samudaya, Nirodha and Magga.