The Masonic Acacia or Sprig of Acacia is a symbol of the immortality of the soul. In this article, we’ll look at the history of the Acacia and its usage in religion through historical times.
The ancient Hebrews planted Acacia sprigs at the head of graves to show their belief in immortality and to mark the location of their graves.
Immortality: The Egyptian and Hebrews believed that the Acacia is a symbol of immortality and innocence because of its durability, its evergreen nature and its hardness.
Shittim: In the Bible, the Acacia was called shittim. Shittim was selected ahead of other woods for the creation of the Ark of the Covenant, where the 2 stone tablets containing the ten commandments were placed.
Ark of the Covenant: Exodus Chapter 37 focused on the creation of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was created with Shittim and overlaid with gold before it was placed in the holiest of holies in King Solomon’s Temple.
Hardwood: Acacia wood is a lovely hardwood with light and dark coloring. Flooring and furniture made from this wood are typically beautiful thanks to the mixed coloring of the wood. They are also durable as the wood is a durable one.
The tree is thorny, and a multi-stemmed bush or tree. Some call it a shrub because it doesn’t grow to become a tall tree like walnut, oaks and other hardwood trees. But there are some species of Acacia that grow to become trees instead of shrubs. Acacia trees do not live long. They last for 30 to 40 years.
Deep roots: The Acacia tree typically has deep roots which it uses to absorb water in arid lands. This is why it can survive in dry arid regions like Iraq, Israel, Iran, Australia and the Northern parts of Africa. Some species have roots that are as long as 40 to 60 meters.
Genus: The Acacia genus belongs to the Mimosaceae family which is related to the Mimosa and Locust trees. There are about 1350 species of Acacia all over the world, and 1000 of these species can be found in Australia.
The Acacia tree is also known as ‘Wattle’ worldwide. The Wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem. It is known as Acacia pycnantha or The Golden Wattle there. Wattle Day is celebrated in Australia yearly on September 1st.
Varieties of Acacia: There are various varieties of Acacia in Australia, Israel Iraq, Iran, Madagascar, South American and the southern areas of the United States. They can be found in different regions from coastal and tropical regions to sub-alpine regions. But they are mostly found in semi-arid and arid areas. They also grow in rocky areas and in beaches, unlike several other plants. Sometimes, they grow near the ocean where they take their moisture from the saltwater.
The Acacia Flower: The Acacia tree flowers every year. The flowers could be reddish-pink, white, cream-colored or yellow depending on the species. Seed pods grow from the trees. The seed pods are about 3 inches long, and they contain a minimum of 5 or 6 brownish-black seeds which then get ripe and turn from green to brown. When the pods get ripe, they split to release seeds.
The Seeds of the Acacia Tree: The seeds have a hard coating which makes them almost impervious to water most times. They do not germinate unless some pretreatment is carried out. Fire is a naturally occurring means of making the seed pods to split open and get reseeded themselves.
Acacia as a Source of Food
Various research studies have been conducted on using acacia as a source of food. A lot of this research has been focused on understanding the traditional uses of Acacia species.
Wattles as food: The seed from most varieties of wattle are poisonous and often inedible. But there are a few exceptions to this. There are 47 species of wattle trees in the southern part of Australia that produces seed that humans can eat. Some wattle species are used as feed for livestock. These species include the A. cambagei (gidyea) and A. farnesiana (prickly Moses) that are eaten by sheep.
There are other edible species of the seed in Africa and Australia. The seed can be eaten and prepared in various ways by indigenous or aboriginal people that live naturally off the land. Aboriginal Australians eat the seed, and they have taken the edible seeds to some other regions through migration.
Here are some Masonic merchandises with the Acacia on them.
Check out the link below for more Masonic merchandises with the iconic Acacia on them: