Folk Art Snuff Box
Here is a superb folk art snuff
box in the shape of a shoe and covered in Masonic symbolism hammered with tiny
brass nails. On the sole the words "Forget Me Not" are worked
into the design as well as the date it was made... 1836.
Among the ancient Israelites,
the shoe was made use of in several significant ways. To put off
the shoes, imported reverence, and was done in the presence of God, or on
entering the dwelling of a superior. To unloose one's shoe and
give it to another was a way of confirming a contract. Thus we read
in the book of Ruth, that Boaz having proposed to the nearest kinsman of Ruth
to exercise his legal right by redeeming the land of Naomi, which was offered
for sale, and marrying her daughter-in-law, the kinsman, being able to do so,
resigned his right of purchase to Boaz; and the narrative goes on to say (Ruth
iv, 7 and 8), "Now this was the manner in former time in Israel
concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man
plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor; and this was a testimony in
Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So
he drew off his shoe." The reference to the shoe in the First
Degree is therefore really as a symbol of a Covenant to be entered into.
In the Third Degree the symbolism is altogether different. This this
degree the ceremony of taking off the shoes, as a token of respect, whenever
we are on or about to approach holy ground. It is referred to in Exodus
(iii, 5), where the angel of the Lord, at the burning bush, exclaims to Moses:
"Draw not nigh hither; put off they shoes from off thy feet, for the
place whereon thou standest is holy ground." The Rite, in fact,
always was, and still is, used among the Jews and other Islamic and Oriental
nations when entering their Temples, Mosques and other sacred edifices.
It does not seem to have been derived from the command given to Moses; but
rather to have existed as a religious custom from time immemorial, and to have
been borrowed by the Gentiles, through tradition, from the patriarchs.
The direction of Pythagoras to his disciples was, "Offer sacrifice and
worship with thy shoes off."