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This ubiquitous image is most often referred to as the all seeing eye or “eye of providence.” The eye, usually depicted in the sky looking out upon the earth, is an ancient symbol of the sun, and historically has been used as a symbol of omniscience. The idea of the solar eye comes to us from the egyptians, who equated the eye with the deity Osiris; the human eye in its ability to perceive light was viewed as a miniature sun.

The use of the eye emblem to represent God was quite common in the Renaissance; often, the eye would be enclosed within a triangle representing the triune godhead. Such an emblem can be found in numerous examples of Christian art.

This emblem was eventually adopted by Freemasons as a symbol for the Great Architect.

A version of this symbol, elaborate onto the capstone of a pyramid (perhaps in a nod the symbol’s origins in Egypt) forms part of the Seal of the United States, accompanied by the slogan,

Annuit Coeptis , “It (Providence) has favored our undertakings.”

Eye surrounded by angels

Related Symbols:

Fire-elementSkull and Bones (crossbones)Eye of Horus

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