The Eye of Providence, or the all-seeing eye of God, is a symbol showing an eye often surrounded by rays of light or a glory and usually enclosed by a triangle. It is sometimes interpreted as representing the eye of God watching over humankind. It is found in many eras and cultures. It is generally a symbol of the watchful and protective power of the Supreme Being, especially when that entity is considered in a solar or heavenly context.
In 1782, the Eye of Providence was adopted as part of the symbolism on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. It was first suggested as an element of the Great Seal by the first of three design committees in 1776 and is thought to be the suggestion of the artistic consultant, Pierre Eugene du Simitiere.
On the seal, the Eye is surrounded by the words Annuit Coeptis, meaning "He approves (or has approved) [our] undertakings", and Novus Ordo Seclorum, meaning "New Order of the Ages".
The Eye is positioned above an unfinished pyramid with thirteen steps, representing the original thirteen states and the future growth of the country. The lowest level of the pyramid shows the year 1776 in Roman numerals. The combined implication is that the Eye, or God, favors the prosperity of the United States.
Perhaps due to its use in the design of the Great Seal, the Eye has made its way into other American seals and logos, notably the Seal of Colorado and DARPA's Information Awareness Office.
In the modern era, the most notable depiction of the eye is the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on the United States one-dollar bill.
The All Seeing Eye is a symbol of Freemasonry,
representing the Great Architect of the Universe.
Here, it represents the all-seeing eye of God and is a reminder that a Mason's thoughts and deeds are always observed by God (who is referred to in Masonry as the Great Architect of the Universe). Typically, the Masonic Eye of Providence has a semi-circular glory below the eye. Sometimes the Eye is enclosed by a triangle.
Popular among conspiracy theorists is the claim that the Eye of Providence shown atop an unfinished pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States indicates the influence of Freemasonry in the founding of the United States. This was dramatized in the 2004 film National Treasure.
However, common Masonic use of the Eye dates to 14 years after the creation of the Great Seal, and the Masonic version does not incorporate a pyramid (although the enclosing triangle is often interpreted as one). Furthermore, among the three members of the original design committee for the Great Seal (or any of the ones that followed it), only Benjamin Franklin was a Mason (and his ideas for the seal were not adopted). Indeed, many Masonic organizations have explicitly denied any connection to the creation of the Seal.
Beacon Hill, Hampshire, UK
This neatly executed pyramid was surrounded by three sets of eleven rays which totaled 33, a number associated with Freemasons. 11 is a transitional number - the number of enlightenment, revelation and of visionary insight. Three elevens symbolically states, light of light ... a burst of spiritual rays that emanate from pure harmony.
Imagery of an all-seeing eye
can be traced to Egyptian mythology
and the Eye of Horus.
Eye Symbology also appears in Buddhism, where Buddha is also regularly referred to as the "Eye of the World" throughout Buddhist scriptures (e.g. Mahaparinibbana Sutta) and is represented as a trinity in the shape of a triangle known as the Tiratna, or Triple Gem.
The Mexican ojo de venado charm, an ancient shamanic amulet made from a psychedelic legume seed is given an eye-related name: ojo de venado meaning Deer Eye.
In Medieval and Renaissance European iconography, the Eye (often with the addition of an enclosing triangle) was an explicit image of the Christian Trinity. Seventeenth-century depictions of the Eye of Providence sometimes show it surrounded by clouds or sun bursts.
In regions where Evil Eye belief occurs, the All-Seeing Eye is one of many forms of reflective eye-charm used as apotropaic talismans against the this danger. In its specifically protective role, the All-Seeing Eye appears on at least one North American Good Luck Coin to guard the bearer from evil.
An alchemical woodcut showing the
all-seeing eye of God floating in the sky.
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