by Richard Cassaro
December 19, 2010
The pine cone symbol is one of the most mysterious emblems found in
ancient and modern art and architecture. Few scholars realize it,
but the pine cone alludes to the highest degree of spiritual
This was recognized by various ancient
cultures, and the symbol can be found in the ruins of the,
...to name a few.
It also appears in the drawings of
esoteric traditions like,
The pine cone held the same meaning for
It symbolized a secret vestigial
organ, the "pineal gland" or "Third Eye", that we all
Left: The magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia,
one of the most
magical and spiritual places on earth,
are filled with pine
animals flank an enlightened bodhisattva at Angkor Wat.
The majestic stone ruins of
Angkor Wat are a marvelous sight to
behold. Immense towers shaped like pine cones silhouetted against
the sky rise out of the lush green jungle in a way that defies the
The pine cone shaped towers are often
cited by scholars:
"The individual spires at Angkor
have a…pine-cone profile…"
Benjamin Rowland, The Art
and Architecture of India
The question, however, is the
significance of the pine cones: it seems unlikely such a distinctive
feature would appear with no rhyme or reason.
What is the significance of these pine
cones to Angkor's ancient buildings?
Also never explained is another Angkor Wat phenomenon called
"antithetic animals." In the example shown in the image above we see
a pair of twin, symmetrical elephants facing each other, an image
that is often glossed over or unexplained.
Interestingly, similar antithetical animal art appears on other
famous ancient archaeological "pine cone" relics.
For example, at the ancient Roman
pigna (Italian for pine cone) sculpture shown below, a massive
bronze pine cone is flanked by twin antithetical peacocks.
Above: Built by the Romans, this 1st century Roman bronze sculpture,
called the "Pigna"
("pine cone"), was once an ancient fountain.
The Pigna sculpture sits
in a Vatican courtyard called the Court of the Pine Cone,
and is today considered the largest pine cone statue in the world.
The parallels do not end there, however: the Egyptian staff of
Osiris (c. 1224 BC) not only depicts antithetical cobras but has
them rising up to meet at a pinecone:
Above: The pine cone
staff of Osiris.
Egyptian Museum in
Turin, Italy, 1224 BC.
What is the symbolic meaning of
these pine cones, and how do the antithetical animals factor
into their overall meaning?
What is the deeper secret these
apparently inscrutable images hide?
Third Eye /
The answer to this is that pine cones, throughout history, have
symbolized the "pineal gland", or "Third Eye", and by association
the esoteric act of awakening it.
This gland is said to lie at the
geometric center of the brain, and considered by some as the
biological Third Eye; the French philosopher Descartes
famously referred to the pineal gland as the Seat of the Soul.
The pineal gland is given the following definition in Webster's
Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary:
"A small usu. conical appendage of
the brain of all craniate vertebrates that in a few reptiles has
the essential structure of an eye, that functions in some birds
as part of a time-measuring system, and that is variously
postulated to be a vestigial third eye, an endocrine organ, or
the seat of the soul…"
Above: The pineal gland is shaped like a tiny pine cone, hence its
The pine cone symbolism is not lost on ancient cultures; in India,
Hindu tradition teaches followers to awaken the Third Eye by
activating their "seven chakras".
It is an ancient exercise, still
practiced today, called
Kundalini Yoga; it is claimed to
directly affect human consciousness, develop intuition, increase
self-knowledge, and unleash one's creative potential.
Interestingly, the esoteric symbol of
kundalini yoga is the caduceus- a symbol that features two
Left: The caduceus staff, carried by Hermes in Greek mythology.
In ancient Rome
it was depicted in the left hand of Mercury.
Right: A visual
representation of the practice of Kundalini yoga,
goal of which is to awaken the Third Eye hidden in the human
Kundalini is the spiritual energy or life force present in every
human being, located at the base of the spine.
To awaken the Third Eye, the kundalini
energy must be summoned to the forehead, where it expands and thus
awakens the Third Eye. The energy is said to travel along the ida
(left) and pingala (right), up the central pole or
This is the process esoterically
depicted by the caduceus symbol of two antithetical snakes spiraling
up a central staff.
"…the caduceus, the rod of power…In
India it is a stick of bamboo with seven knots… which represents
the spinal column with its seven centers or chakras…
It also indicated the spinal
cord…while the serpents were symbolical of the two channels
called in Eastern terminology Ida and Pinagala; and the fire
enclosed within it was the serpent-fire which in Sanskrit is
Freemasonry and its Ancient Mystic Rites
Thus, antithetical animal art associated
with the pine cone,
...is really an allusion to the ida
and pingala channels (the antithetical twin serpents on the
The central sushumna is, in turn,
symbolized by the third, centered drawing (often a pine cone) which
on the caduceus is the main rod running north south. Many ancient
cultures incorporated images of the pine cone into their spiritual
art and architecture, and they all also created antithetical animal
Pagan gods of Babylon, Egypt, Mexico and
Greece were associated with the pine cone, and the staffs of these
gods were often adorned with the pine cone.
Left: Sumerian God Marduk with pine cone in hand.
Right: Dionysus, the
Romans Bacchus, carried a "Thyrsus" topped with a pine cone.
Even the natural behaviors of the pine cone have an esoteric
as it ripens, the pine cone slowly
opens to release its mature seeds.
This process is symbolic of the
expansion of consciousness that accompanies the opening of the
pineal gland and the awakening of the Third Eye.
The metaphor is a valuable and
stimulating mental lesson of an esoteric phenomenon that cannot
otherwise be seen or explained since it occurs inside the brain:
Left: Bronze pine cone symbol in Aachen cathedral in Aachen,
Middle: Roman pine
cone statue in the Piazza Venezia, Italy.
Right: Ripening pine
Readers familiar with Eastern religions will recall the Third Eye as
having a long history in India, China, and Southeast Asia, where the
religious traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism hold sway.
More than a "religious" idea, the Third
Eye is an archaic "spiritual" custom that transcends religions.
It is known variously as "urna" and "trinetra,"
and often marked by a dot in the middle of the forehead between the
Above: The Third Eye between the eyebrows of the Buddha.
Third Eye permitted the Buddha
to understand the
forces of existence
manifestation in the chain of causality.
The Third Eye has been called by various names throughout history,
"eye of the soul"
"eye of reason"
The portrait of a single "Eye" is, in
fact, an archetypal image that stretches back many thousands of
years in human history.
It appears again and again in myths,
sculptures, engravings, and paintings in ancient cultures across the
world. It was often depicted throughout ancient Egypt as a single
disembodied Eye, the Eye of Ra:
The Eye of Ra,
a disembodied Eye signifying the Third Eye of
The Third Eye was commonly described by ancient mystics who
experienced the divine light.
".. in every man there is an Eye of
the soul which… is far more precious than ten thousand bodily
eyes, for by it alone is truth seen… The Eye of the soul… is
alone naturally adapted to be resuscitated and excited by the
A superficial "tapping" of the Third Eye
is not difficult.
Close your eyes and, without moving
them, "look" at an object you know is close to you. You are seeing
with your Third Eye. To elevate spirituality and awaken dormant
powers, the Eye must be turned inward.
Western occult tradition agrees with
ancient Eastern texts affirming that turning the Eye inward endows
a deeper understanding of life
a newfound ability to control
a sense of peacefulness and
intuitive and psychic abilities
enhanced capacity for
calmness and clarity
Mystery writer Stephen King's 'The Shining'
touched on this concept.
In King's novel, "shining" meant tapping
one's higher psychic powers. Unfortunately, today ideas like the
Third Eye and related mystical and/or esoteric concepts are frowned
upon, pejoratively labeled "the occult."
The question, however, is why the West has been so ill-informed of
this Third Eye and its unlocking even as the Eastern traditions have
incorporated them into their practices.
The answer to that is the rise of
Christianity in the west; the practice and idea of an "inner god" or
"Third Eye" to awaken runs afoul of traditional Christian teachings.
These wisdoms, forced underground,
became the origins for secret societies that passed on these
esoteric wisdom; one of these societies was
Third Eye In
The Masonic Triangle
In modern times, famous authors, painters and poets have described
the Third Eye and pineal gland as being nothing less than the "lost
secret" of Freemasonry.
In his 1918 book, The Wonders of the
Human Body, Dr. George Washington Carey tells us:
"…the All-seeing eye… This is the
eye of freemasonry, the third eye. While I am credibly formed
that few Masons understand their own symbols, the fact remains
that they use them…"
Dr. George Washington
Carey, The Wonders of the Human Body
In her fascinating 1924 book, Mystic
Americanism, the obscure American author Grace Morey
"The All-Seeing Eye… also emblematic
of the pineal gland or third eye of the human being… has been
found amid the ruins of every civilization upon the globe,
thereby attesting the fact of a universal religion over all the
earth at some remote period.
As we now restore this universal
religion, we set the All-Seeing eye upon the pyramid."
It comes as no surprise, then, that pine
cones appear regularly throughout Masonic decoration.
They are depicted in Masonic art, they
hang from the ceilings of Masonic Lodges, and they are etched in
stone on Masonic-constructed buildings throughout the world.
A large Masonic design on the side of
Whitehall Building in the New York Financial District depicts
two enormous intertwining snakes spiraling up to a pinecone (which
is striking similar to the Staff of Osiris).
Above: A caduceus
depicting a pine cone
appears on the
Whitehall Building in New York City.
Pine cones also adorn ritual instruments used by Freemasons inside
"The tops or points of the [Masonic]
rods of deacons are often surmounted by a pine-cone or
"Operative Masonry, in the fullest meaning of that term,
signifies the process by which the Eye…is opened.
E.A. Wallis Budge has noted that in
some of the papyri illustrating the entrance of the souls of the
dead into the judgment hall of Osiris the deceased person has a
pine cone attached to the crown of his head.
The Greek mystics also carried a
symbolic staff, the upper end being in the form of a pine cone,
which was called the thyrsus of Bacchus. In the human brain
there is a tiny gland called the pineal body, which is the
sacred eye of the ancients, and corresponds to the third eye of
Little is known concerning the
function of the pineal body, which Descartes suggested (more
wisely than he knew) might be the abode of the spirit of man.
As its name signifies, the pineal
gland is the sacred pine cone in man - the eye single…"
Manly P. Hall,
Secret Teachings of All Ages
The Third Eye has been hidden in plain
sight in the West, masked as the term "all seeing eye" and
superficially said to be the eye of the Jewish deity.
For this reason, Masons refer to it as
the "all-seeing eye of God", when in reality it's the awakened Third
Masonic Lodge, Prague 18th Century,
depicting a Third Eye inside a
The term "all-seeing eye" in and of itself is indeed correct; but
it's not the all-seeing-eye of
the Hebrew 'God';
it is the all-seeing eye of you, the pineal gland that we all have.
Many highly trained and educated Masons who lived during the 20th
century, including several noted authors and scholars, were
convinced that the all-seeing Eye was not the Eye of the Bible's
God, and that the modern system of Freemasonry we've inherited,
based on the Hebrew Bible, is in fact corrupted.
It is interesting to note that the famous American Author and
Freemason Mark Twain, writing in 1899, referred to the All
Seeing Eye not as the Eye of some distant heavenly deity or "old man
upstairs," but as a tangible gift that any person can use:
"The common eye sees only the
outside of things, and judges by that, but the 'all seeing eye'
pierces through, and reads the heart and the soul, finding there
capacities which the outside didn't indicate or promise, and
which the other kind couldn't detect."
Interestingly, there is evidence that
Hitler was aware of and understood pine cone symbolism.
One of the front panels on his desk
displays clear pine cone symbolism:
Picture of Hitler's
desk. See the Left panel.
A deity is flanked by
staffs at the end of which are a pine cone.
Adolf Hitler believed in the Third Eye.
This fact is affirmed by Hermann Rauschning, the former
National Socialist Senate President of Danzig.
In Hitler Speaks (London, 1939),
"To have 'magic insight' was
apparently Hitler's idea of the goal of human progress… There
was the eye of the Cyclops, or median eye, the organ of magic
perception of the Infinite, now reduced to a rudimentary pineal
Speculations of this sort fascinated
Hitler, and he would sometimes be entirely wrapped up in them."
It seems that, almost 100 years ago,
Hitler knew things about the Third Eye that most Americans are only
now starting to rediscover.
The Third Eye can be seen above the French Declaration of Human
Rights in a 1789 painting, and is on the back of the one dollar
bill; it floats above an Egyptian pyramid, itself a clear and
obvious Masonic image:
Left: The Third Eye in the triangle is visible above the French
Declaration of Human Rights.
Third Eye in the triangle above a truncated pyramid
on the reverse of the
Great Seal of the United States.
Is it possible, then, that the
pineal gland has been overlooked in Western society
intentionally, so as to rob the masses of its power?
Is it possible that the Third
Eye is the lost secret of authentic Freemasonry, lost at
some point in the mid 1800s?
The pine cone symbol, then, alludes to the Third Eye: it abounds in
ancient art and architecture, a symbolic representation of our
now-dormant window to the world.
While knowledge of the Third Eye and the
practice of awakening the Third Eye continued strong in
the East, it began to die in the West at the start
Secret Societies like the
Freemasons were established to protect Third Eye knowledge, initiate
new members into its wisdom, and keep the practice alive.
This explains why the image of a single
Eye is common to Western Secret Societies, whose constituents
possessed exceptionally philosophical, active, creative, and
A single Eye is one of the supreme and
sacred emblems in Freemasonry.
The Third Eye seems strange, even downright alien to us in the West,
even today, despite our living in the "information age" of
globalization. The fact that the Third Eye is so unknown, so strange
and so alien to our way of thinking is something of an enigma.
The reason is because there seems to
have always been, and there continues to be, a conscious effort
to conceal it by
a powerful elite who don't want
the masses to discover its secrets.