One of the trade secrets of medieval stonemasons was
“proving of the square” by use of the “point within a circle”. Indeed, if we
make a circle, then draw the line through its center cutting the circle in
half, at any point of the circumference which we would connect with these two
points where line cuts the circle, we would form an angle of the square.

The point within a circle is one of the most powerful
esoteric symbols. Its importance is not only in antiquity, which we may trace,
neither in the bond between metaphysics and natural sciences, which this symbol
makes, but also in many rich meanings, which a student of the Hermetic
philosophy may read from it. As Manly Hall, in his book The Secret Teachings of
All Ages, stated: ”The keys to all knowledge are contained in the dot, the line
and the circle. The dot is universal consciousness, the line is universal
intelligence, and the circle is universal force – the threefold, unknowable
Cause to all known existence.”

Although undefined in geometry, a point can be described as
indicating location with no size.

Nothing exists without a center. From the nucleus of an
atom, the center of planet Earth, the Sun in the solar system to the black hole
in the center of the Galaxy, everything has a center. Even the abstract idea
has a center because we consider it “pointless” if there is not a center
holding it together. The fixed point is called the center of a circle. At
times, it is synonymous with the circumference, just as circumference (distance
around the circle) is often equated with the circular movement. It is very
often an emblem of the Sun, or it stands for Heaven, perfection, or Eternity.
Psychological study asserts that the discovery of the circle in humans arrives
at the age when the child discovers himself (“I am”), and distinguishes himself
from others. According to Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), ”a
circle represents the ultimate state of Oneness”. To the ancient Greek
philosophers, the circle was the symbol of the number One, since it was the
source of all subsequent shapes. They called it MONAD, from Greek “monas”
(oneness).

A circle, understood as a circumference, is a symbol of
adequate limitation and of the inner unity of all matter and universal harmony.
Enclosing beings, objects, or figures within a circumference has a double
meaning: from within, it implies limitation and definition; from without, it
represents the defense of the content of a circle against disintegration and
chaos.

Origins of the point within a circle, as is the case with
many other ancient symbols, are lost in the mists of antiquity. A point within
a circle was the Egyptian, Chinese and Mayan Glyph for “light”. In many ancient
myths and modern scientific theories about the beginning of the Universe, the
universal creation process begins with the expansion from a Divine Center, or
from the Big Bang, as in the very first words of God in Genesis “Let there be
Light”. On early Egyptian monuments the circle can be found with two letters in
the center of it and bordered by two parallel serpents symbolizing wisdom and
power. According to some scholars, the letters in the center stand for
“beginning” and “end”, indicative of God or Creator. Some other similar
Egyptian symbols known to us are ANANTA (meaning “eternity”) – a serpent in the
form of a circle biting its tale, and CRUX ANSATA – a cross within a circle,
symbolizing eternal life.

In Hindu mythology, Brahma speaks aloud the word AHM -“I
AM”, a word made of the first, middle and last letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet, which represents the circle’s three parts: the center, the radius,
and the circumference. The point represents our own spiritual center or God
within us; the radius – our mental and rational limits of understanding of God
and the circle the sphere of our material existence. We can find the “point
within a circle” as a symbol of “Phallus” in some old Indian legends. In many
countries around the world, remains of ancient temples consisting of stones
placed in circle can be found, with a single stone in the center. Although, the
explanations of the real purpose of these temples are still controversial, these
are usually connected with Sun worship practices in some cultures. The best
known examples are Druidic Temples in Great Britain.

In the Kabala, the point represents YOD, the creative
knowledge of God, and the circle the space in which He creates. The two
parallel lines are symbols of justice and mercy of God. They are equal and
upright because they are regulated by His perfect Wisdom. Christian theologian
Lucian (c.240-312) wrote in the third century: “God makes himself known to the
world; he fills up the whole circle of the universe, but makes his particular
abode in the center, which is the soul of the just”.

This symbol appeared in the Masonic ritual work, most
likely, early in the 18th Century. The first Masonic record mentioning a point
within a circle was Prichard’s “Masonry Dissected”. Today, it is mentioned,
either in the lecture of the First degree, or in the opening of the Third
degree in most of the Rituals. By tracing the development of this symbol
through different cultures around the world from time immemorial, we learn of
various understandings of its meaning. There are three elements constantly
present in all of the stories: God, Man and the Universe.

When we think about God, we often refer to Him as Creator of
all things, Great Architect of the Universe, the One with many names, Divine
Omnipresence or Ultimate Cause of Everything. If one would have to present
graphically or to draw a picture that would represent God or the Ultimate
Cause, and be understood and accepted as such by all human beings what would
that picture look like? Is it possible to express the infinite nature of God by
drawing a point within a circle on a blank sheet of paper? Many accept this
possibility because they perceive Him as being the center of existence, with the
whole existence emanating from His creative power. One can understand it as God
or as the Big Bang, but it is still there and still the Absolute Force, or
Power or Spirit that created the Universe- the point within a circle.

Is there any better way visually to present the Universe
than by using a point within a circle? Through the ages this has been the prime
choice of Philosophers, Magicians, Artists, Alchemists, and Scientists. The
origin of the word Universe is Latin unus versum, meaning “one turn”. The human
mind is incapable of fully comprehending time and space without the help of
this symbol, which exists because of man’s effort to visualize more perfectly
immeasurable and infinite that Universe represents.

Finally, we come to a Human being, the point within its own
circle of existence. This circle is one’s family, neighbors, fellow workmen,
community; all that surrounds one in the warm light of the Summer Solstice and
cold light of the Winter Solstice, represented by two parallel lines. But then,
a person is the eternal circle itself, trying to place in the center and keep
in balance, the hidden point within, which then creates the puzzle, how can one
draw a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere?