Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
The Anchor and Ark. Simple as it is, the Ark and Anchor symbol is very, very old, and around it clusters a cloud of associations drawn from many lands and times. The Anchor's significance is self-revealing and needs no interpreter; it is a type of that security which holds a man fast and prevents his drifting with the winds. Nor is it difficult to learn what is this security, for mankind, with an almost unanimous consent, has found it in Deity who, while all else changes, changes not but overarches the drift of the years with His Eternal Purpose, unyielding Will and everlasting Love. Mrs. Jameson, in her "Sacred Art and Legend," says of the Anchor that it was among early Christians "the symbol of immovable firmness, hope and patience" in which sense it is often displayed in the Catacombs and on ancient Christian gems, and Lundy says that among the same Christians it was also used as a symbol of Christ's divinity, for in that, as the first believers held, was man's one stay against sin and human overthrow.
Of the Ark it is somewhat more difficult to speak. Laurence Dermott, the erratic but brilliant Grand Secretary of the Ancients, saw in it an allusion to the Ark of the Covenant, but this is most certainly an error. In
company with the Hermeticists with whom it was a familiar emblem, our Ritual sees in it a reminder of the Ark, wherein, according to the old legend, Noah found refuge for himself and family when all else was given over to the Deluge. But the story of Noah's Ark itself rests on more ancient traditions, as any reader of such a work as Dr. Ellwood Worcester's "Genesis in the Light of Modern Knowledge" will remember. Long before that story was conceived the Ancient Mysteries were repeating the story of how some hero god, such as Osiris, was slain, and how his mutilated body was placed in a box, and set adrift upon the waters. The Greeks called such a chest an "ark," a word having the meaning of "containing that which was sacred."
Among the first Christians the Ark was used as a symbol of the church, not only because it was a place of refuge for bruised and hunted souls, but also because the church was then thought of as a home for all the family of man. In that great household of faith the individual found security and fellowship and protection from enemies, spiritual or otherwise. This faith found expression in an old, old hymn:
Those Christians found their Ark in their brotherhood of believers; is it not the same with us? Is not our Masonic ark the great Brotherhood itself? In that world-embracing fellowship the individual, often so harassed
and lonely, finds help, inspiration and companionship, and many a man on whom disaster "followed fast and followed faster" has found the Order an Ark of quiet and protection. Shall we not believe that even in the future life such privileges will be granted? Eternity would grow a solitary place without the "dear love of comrades" and the binding closer "of man to man."