The Scythe: Cutting remarks
Here’s a video with remarks to follow:
One of Odd Fellowship’s most recognizable symbols is the scythe. As you saw above, it can cut grass, but its most important job is to harvest tall crops like wheat. To understand the rural imagery of the scythe it is important to understand its job in field work as well as the notions of sowing, growth, and reaping.
First, the scythe is affiliated with the Roman god Saturn, the god of time. The god Saturn represents the sense of time in its duration from the moment an event begins, through duration of the event, to its anticipated conclusion. Saturn may also be associated with the snake or dragon which bites its own tail known as the Ouroboros and with the sarcophagus, an early style of coffin. The hourglass and father time are also associated with Saturn.
Secondly the scythe, because of the shape of its curved blade, is associated with the crescent moon. There are two types of crescent moons: the waxing and the waning crescents. The waxing crescent is the first view of the moon after the “dark of the moon” when no moon is seen in the sky. As mentioned in the story of Jonathan and David, the “new moon crescent” signified the beginning of the moon’s cycle across the sky. This is different from today, because the old “dark of the moon” is now called the “new moon.” This crescent new moon waxes or increases in size until it is a full moon and decreases to the waning crescent, the last moon seen before the old dark of the moon.
The scythe’s most important use is for harvesting. It cuts grain which is then consumed. The process by which this comes about starts first at the sowing of grain seed. Next, we see the period when the grain grows and matures. At maturity, we see the scythe used for reaping the grain. Reflected in these processes we see Saturn’s duration and the moon’s phases from waxing new crescent through the waning crescent which descends into the dark of the moon.
At this point, it might be good to get a charge book and look up what is mentioned about the skull and bones and the scythe.
The scythe with its rustic simplicity is bound to the statement “As you sow, so shall you reap,” a notion found throughout world civilizations. For humans to live, we must produce. We must produce food so we may eat. We must produce thought so we may evaluate and bring ideas to fruition and then begin again. Universal law is very specific: if you plant wheat you will harvest wheat—not beans. Our whole life is a farm with sowing, growth, and reaping.
It is important to see the scythe as more than an implement. Its shape and the job it performs in the context of farming has lessons for all Odd Fellows. It is used not merely to reap golden grain for the sheaf, but, in the field of mind, heart, and soul, to gather every precious stalk, every opening flower, every desirable fruit. We must encourage an affluent and exuberant harvest for body, mind, and the communities we serve.