Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
On the top of each of the Two Pillars thus described stand two Globes, one, the Celestial, representing the heavens; the other, the Terrestrial, representing the earth. Whence came these? and what do they signify?
In answer to the first of these questions our scholars have offered two hypotheses: first, that they are of Egyptian origin; second, that they are a modified form of the chapiters, or head-pieces, of the Two Pillars. The first of these theories was evidently suggested by the ancient Egyptian symbol of the winged globe, often found on the entablature above a temple surrounded by a snake holding its tail in its mouth and flanked by two wide, outstretched wings. So common was this device that it became at last one of the national emblems, so that Isaiah speaks of Egypt as "the land of the winged globe." This globe was in all probability oval in shape, to suggest the egg, symbol of life; the serpent was the symbol of infinity; the wings, of power; combined, the figure stood for the infinite life-giving power of Deity. If it be supposed that the globe was a true circle, as some contend that it was, instead of an oval then it may have represented the Sun, the first great god of Egypt, but the meaning remains practically the same.
If our two Globes could be made to serve as a modern form of the Egyptian winged globe they might be enriched in meaning and interest, but there is no evidence whatever that the older symbol ever transmigrated into Masonry. The probability is all against it, for we have
two globes instead of one, and we do not have the serpent or the wings; besides, as actually exhibited, our Globes manifestly refer to the earth and the heavens as modernly understood.
The chapiters on the Two Pillars were spherical in shape and always so represented. It would evidently seem, therefore, that the men who framed our present Ritual of the Second Step, among whom Preston was conspicuous, simply modified the chapiters into Globes. But why did they do this? Because Preston and his circle undertook to transform the lodge into a school and consequently required symbols for geography and astronomy, two very important branches of the curriculum they outlined. This theory is verified, it seems to me, by reference to the Prestonian lectures, in which we find the following paragraphs, as slightly abridged by Webb:
"The sphere, with the parts of the earth delineated on its surface, is called the Terrestrial Globe; and that with the constellations, and other heavenly bodies, the Celestial Globe.
"The principal use of the Globes, besides serving as maps to distinguish the outward parts of the earth, and the situation of the fixed stars, is to illustrate and explain the phenomena arising from the annual revolution and the diurnal rotation of the earth around its own axis. They are the noblest instruments for improving the mind [this was Preston's motive—H.L.H.], and giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it to solve the same."
Some of our writers have ridiculed all this. They say that the use now made of the globes is schoolboyish. Perhaps! but even so, the idea behind it all is sound and worthy of serious consideration. It is good to think about this marvellous planet on which we live, and it is good to gaze into the heavens by which we are surrounded.
[paragraph continues] The heavens and the earth together, this is the Universe, the All-Thing as the old Norsemen called it, the contemplation of which, as old Samuel Kant once confessed, fills one with unspeakable awe. If a man cannot feel reverence in the presence of all that which is represented by the Two Globes there is something lacking out of his nature.