Among the Pythagoreans five was a mystical number, because it was formed by the union of the first even number and the first odd, rejecting unity; hence it symbolized the mixed conditions of order and disorder, happiness and misfortune, life and death. The same union of the odd and even or male and female, numbers made it the symbol of marriage. Among the Greeks it was a symbol of the world, because says Diodorus, it represents ether and the four elements. It was a sacred and round number among the Hebrews. In Egypt, India, and other oriental nations says Gesenius, the five minor planets and the five elementary powers were accounted sacred. It was the pentas of the Gnostics and the Hermetic Philosophers; it was a symbol of their quintessence, the fifth or highest essence of power in a natural body.

In Freemasonry, five is a sacred number, inferior only in importance to three and seven. It is especially significant in the Fellowcraft Degree, where five are required to hold a Lodge, and where, in the winding stairs, the five steps are referred to the orders of architecture and the human senses. In the Third Degree we find the reference to the five points of fellowship and their symbol, the five-pointed star. Geometry, too, which is deemed synonymous with Freemasonry, is called the fifth science; and, in fact, throughout nearly all the Degrees of Freemasonry, we find abundant allusions to five as a sacred and mystical number.

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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