With all the natural occurrences of the number five, it is little wonder that it is included in art, literature, and mythology, nowhere is this more evident than in the rites and rituals of the Freemasons. Music, Art, Literature.

Although music is arranged around the octave, in tuning, there is a theory called the “Circle of Fifths.” “Sound-wave frequencies of the upper and lower notes in intervals form simple mathematical rations, such as 2:1 (octave), 5:4 (major third) and 3:2 (fifth).” This last ratio is called the “pure” or “natural” fifth, and is the basis for Pythagorean tuning, used in Ancient Greece, Ancient China, and Medieval Islamic and European countries. “Tuning a series of fifths, beginning on F, produces the seven notes of the C-major scale ( F C G D A E B), and then the five notes F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, and finally E# and B# (theoretically identical with F and C, hence the term ‘circle of fifths’ for this series.”

In an Ancient Celtic myth known as “Cormac’s Cup of Gold,” it is said that Cormac “saw a royal fortress with 4 houses in it and a bright well with nine ancient hazels growing over it. In the well were five salmons who ate the nuts that dropped from the purple hazels and sent the husks floating down the five streams that flowed therefrom. The spring was the well of knowledge and the five streams, the five senses through which knowledge is obtained.”

The painting on below, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, is by Charles Demuth, an American painter who was a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe. It was created in response to the William Carlos Williams poem The Great Figure.

Great Figure
By William Carlos Williams

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city


Freemasons are a fraternal organization dating back hundreds of years. The world’s largest “secret” society – these men are the fraternal descendants of the Knights Templar. It is a society bonded by a series of secrets, rituals, and charitable works (for example, the Shriners Hospitals). As described by the Masons themselves, freemasonry is “a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The mind of freemasonry is its ritual, its symbolism, its morality, its character building. What is its soul? It is that which is hidden behind its symbols and its ritual teachings; its inner meanings and its aspirations, its touch with that part of man which is immortal.”

It is little surprise, given the long history of the Masons that the number five appears frequently in these rituals. Central to the appearance of the number five is “all that Freemasonry is, all that it teaches, all that is within it which is valuable, has come through the five senses…Without the five senses man would not really be alive, even if his body possessed life. His five senses are his sole and only contacts with the world. A man with no senses could know nothing, communicate nothing.”

To have a lodge, there must be five members: “the worshipful master, the two wardens, and two fellows of the working class.” These five are required to hold a lodge “in allusion to the five noble orders of architecture, namely the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite,” these are also sometimes referred to as the classical orders.

The Freemasons celebrate also the “Five Points of Felicity: and the “Five Lights on the New Testament.” The five points of light on the New Testament are “The birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension” of Christ. Also associated with these five points is the five pointed star which appeared over Bethlehem at Christ’s birth. The five points of felicity are reminders “To walk, to intercede for, to pray, to love and to assist your Brethren, so as to be united with them in heart and mind.”

In addition to the rituals of the freemasons, the number five is an integrat part of the heritage and rituals of the Eastern Star.

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