The unique and esoteric symbolism of the Great Seal on the dollar bill has long been the subject of speculation and debate among conspiracy theorists. Many have linked the origin of the familiar symbols to the Masons or other secret or occult societies. The incorporation of these symbols into the Great Seal of the United States of America has been viewed as a sign that secret societies are controlling the nation and are attempting to assert control over the world.
After signing the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress decided that a seal should be designed for the new nation. After several years and the formation of several committees, the design was approved in June 1782. Members of the committee that selected the Great Seal included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin and Adams were Masons, as were many of the nation’s founders (including George Washington). The exact number of Masons among the founders has been a matter of debate. Some Masonic historians and conspiracy theorists view the Freemasons as the driving force behind the American Revolution and believe that they continue secretly to influence the U.S. government to the present. It is only natural, then, that the Great Seal would symbolize the Masonic brotherhood.
The front of the seal, which is on the right-hand side of the back of the dollar bill, depicts an eagle holding an olive branch and arrows. The eagle has been the traditional symbol of American liberty for generations, but there has been speculation that the eagle was originally supposed to be a phoenix. The phoenix, which represents rebirth, dates to the time of the ancient Egyptians and has also been an important symbol in Masonic ceremonies and mythology. It represents being initiated and reborn into the Masonic brotherhood as well as being reborn into wisdom. The phoenix is the symbol of the thirty-third degree of Masonry, the highest level members of the Scottish Rite of Masonry can obtain. In occult circles, the phoenix is associated with the lost civilization of Atlantis. Early depictions of the Great Seal show a bird with a long, narrow neck and a tuft of feathers on the back of the head. While this description is very different from that of a bald eagle, it fits the traditional description of a phoenix. Conspiracy proponents believe the bird on the early seal was a phoenix. The presence of the phoenix is thought to have implied that the United States would become a new Atlantis guided by the Masons. The phoenix/eagle on the seal has thirty-two feathers on the right wing and thirty-three on the left, symbolizing again the highest levels of Scottish Rite Masonry. The bird’s nine tail feathers are thought to represent the nine orders of the York Rite of Masonry. The scroll in the mouth of the phoenix/eagle is inscribed with the familiar phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates as “From Many to One.” Usually this phrase has been assumed to refer to the uniting of the thirteen former colonies. It has also been said to reference the rise of monotheism. Conspiracy theorists see a double meaning in this phrase and believe it also represents the unity of the brotherhood of Masons and their plans to bring the entire world under the control of one secret organization. In later attempts to downplay the Masonic imagery in the eyes of the public, the eagle slowly replaced the phoenix, but the tuft of feathers is still visible on the back of the eagle’s head.
The other side of the Great Seal, which is on the left-hand side of the back of the dollar bill, has been considered even more controversial. In the center of the seal is a pyramid without a capstone. Above it, in a triangle, floats the “All Seeing Eye of God,” projecting rays of light. The unfinished pyramid plays a major role in the symbolism of the Masons. The pyramid without a top represents the loss of ancient wisdom and the connection to God. When a person obtains the rank of Master Mason, they themselves become the capstone and a link to the divine. The pyramid also signifies the release of the Israelites from Egypt and is viewed as a symbol of freedom. Across the base of the pyramid on the seal is the date 1776 in Roman numerals, the year American independence was declared. A double meaning has also been attributed to this date, as 1776 was also the year the Illuminati, another secret society, was formed in Bavaria. Two sayings appear on the back of the seal. “Annuit Coeptis,” which translates as ” He Favors Our Undertakings,” appears above the pyramid and the “All Seeing Eye.” Across the bottom of the seal it reads “Novus Ordo Seclorum” or “New Order of the Ages.” Among conspiracy theorists, this has been considered proof of the existence of the “New World Order,” which is thought to be a network of secret societies and organizations with cross-membership that is working to create a world government controlled by a handful of powerful elites.
The number thirteen has a recurring role in the symbolism of the Great Seal. In the cloud above the eagle’s head are thirteen stars. There are thirteen arrows in one of the eagle’s talons and an olive branch with thirteen leaves in the other. The shield has thirteen stripes. The pyramid is made up of thirteen levels including the “All Seeing Eye.” Both “E Pluribus Unum” and “Annuit Caeptis” contain thirteen letters. Despite the number thirteen’s obvious symbolic connection to the thirteen original colonies, the recurring number has been viewed with suspicion. The number thirteen has numerous occult meanings, both positive and negative.
On the front of the dollar bill, unconnected with the Great Seal, is another supposed symbol of Freemasonry. The seal of the United States Treasury Department contains the Scales of Justice, a key, and a square. All three of these items are considered to be important Masonic symbols used in initiation ceremonies. Many conspiracy theorists agree that the Freemasons and the New World Order conspirators control the world’s leading financial institutions and use them to exert their will, and the Masonic and occult symbolism on the dollar bill is viewed as proof of this. Conventional historians tend to make a different interpretation. While most agree that there are elements of Masonic influence on the Great Seal of the United States, they believe that these elements were used, intentionally or unintentionally, because of their familiarity to the creators.