Although pop culture (like the AMC show LODGE 49) idolizes lodge symbolism in general, there is absolutely no way those on the outside can ever understand our symbolism unless they are members of the Order of Odd Fellows. Because no matter how hard they try, they always miss the exact things to which our symbolism points. Rappers, rockers, actors, can all claim to know the “secrets” but they don’t.
And so it is with the All Seeing Eye, probably the most visible symbol of Odd Fellowship in popular culture.
I read somewhere the ancients divided consciousness into two parts: the conscious and subconscious. These two parts have different ways of thinking: the conscious thinks objectively and the subconscious thinks subjectively. In our daily lives, under normal conditions we live in both worlds: objective and subjective. You can picture a scale that is moving up and down as we switch between thought patterns.
The subjective mind is unconscious and controls the involuntary actions of the body (heartbeat, breathing, blinking, etc.) and a type of deep thought that could be described as “instinct”. When you drift off into your own little world, you are in the subjective world. Or, if you are in deep concentration while studying or analyzing something you are in the subjective world. You may even daydream, or think of nothing at all and just stare into space.
It was thought by the ancients that the subjective consciousness was an OLDER form of consciousness than the objective, because of its connection to an intangible deeper world or “the world of the Gods” before the creation of the world in which we exist.
But to understand an Odd Fellow’s lesson of the All Seeing Eye, we must focus on the objective mind. As you sit where you are, as you stroll about during the day, as you work, get dressed, eat, laugh and enjoy life you are living or expressing yourself in an
objective way. You are objectively conscious of your existence, and in an objective way you see, feel, hear, smell, taste, and generally perceive your reality. The objective way of thinking is earthly, material, distinct, and dependent upon material things and conditions. Your objective actions manifest themselves in the objective world. You are collaborating with, and interacting with the world outside of yourself using your five senses.
Of the five senses, the main sense this article focuses on, is seeing.
In older various forms of ancient symbolism, we often see a symbol showing one eye open and one eye closed. The closed eye of course refers to the subjective internal world of our mind. The open eye refers to the objective external world our mind is engaging. Odd Fellows uses only the open eye, which in ancient symbolism refers to the objective world.
So, the open eye does not only represent the All Seeing Eye of the Great Architect. It also shows us that our work–the work of “being Odd” is in the objective world. The world where, with open eyes, we see the impoverished, the helpless, the distressed. The open eye encourages us to look out upon the objective world and provide the help that we can provide.
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“The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability, age [other than that of minimum to join the Order (lodge, club or group)], ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or other social identity.” Resolution No. 5, Code of Laws
Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog.