By Peter Y. Chou,

Dove's descent when Christ was baptized
The dove appears at Christ's baptism as he was initiated
by John the Baptist in the River Jordan: "It came to pass,
that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was
opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like
a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said,
“Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.”"

(Luke 3.21-22, Matthew 3.16, Mark 1.10, John 1.32).
— Piero della Francesca (1415-1492), The Baptism of Christ (1450)

Noah sending out his dove from the Ark

Stamps of Noah
and the Ark

(in German)
Noah & the Dove in Genesis, VIII.10-11:
And he stayed yet other seven days;
and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
And the dove came in to him in the evening;
and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf
pluck off: so Noah knew that the waters
were abated from off the earth.

Vatican City #548
Noah's Ark,
Rainbow & Dove
issued April 23, 1974

Jason unleashing his dove flying through the Clashing Rocks According to Apollonius of Rhodes's Argonautica (3rd century B.C.), Jason sailed on his 50-oars ship Argo to find the Golden Fleece in Colchis (Black Sea) that was guarded by a sleepless dragon. Fifty Greek heroes went on this expedition, including Hercules, Orpheus, Peleus, Kastor and Polydeukes, Meleager, and Atalanta, the huntress, the only female. (List of 50 Argonauts) The Symplegades also known as the Clashing Rocks were a pair of rocks through which the Argo had to pass in order to enter the Hellespont. They moved randomly about in the sea, crashing together and crushing ships between them. No humans had ever passed safely through them. Acting on the advice of the seer Phineus, Jason let a dove fly through the rocks to see if the passage was safe; the dove passed through, losing only its tail feathers as the rocks crashed together behind it. Jason and his Argonauts then rowed mightily through the passage, and the Argo made the hazardous trip safely, losing only a piece of her stern ornament. (Argonautica II, 317-340, 549-610) After the Argo's successful journey, the Symplegades stopped moving and became firmly rooted in the sea. The Romans called them Cyaneae insulae. (Imereti or Colchis, Land of the Golden Fleece)
Stamp: Greece #623 Argo, 5 drachmas, issued Jan. 30, 1958 to honor Greek merchant marine.

Columbus discovering America, his name Columba,
Latin for dove, the bird of discovery— the New World.

In Grace A. Fendler's New Truths About Columbus (1934, p. 39), we learn that Columbus "might have been a member of the great Order of the Golden Fleece... This would account for Columbus being called 'a weaver' or the 'son of a weaver', for the Great Guild of Weavers was also concerned with the weaving of the Golden Fleece. Note the quotation inscribed by this Guild on the English Town Hall of Hereford:
    We need not sail to Colchis against dragons to prevail,
    Or yoke wild bulls to gain the Golden Fleece.
    The Golden Fleece will satisfy your heart
    Content that the Weavers give.

This Golden Fleece was a purely mystical expression derived from the allegorical voyage of the Argonauts and closely allied to the Biblical "weaving of the golden wedding garment". It is noteworthy that Columbus usually wore a long golden chain of amber beads. This gold chain when shaped or inscribed with the famous S. S. was the insignia of the Order of the Fleece. Manly Palmer Hall points out in America's Assignment with Destiny (1951): "When Columbus, on the occasion of his first landfall, raised the standard of Castile, he also planted a banner of his own, consisting of a green cross on a white field. Was this a device of the Knights Templars?" Hall believes that Columbus was connected to the Secret Societies of his time— "At times Columbus dressed in a plain robe and girdle similar to the costume of the Franciscan Order. It was reported by his son that Columbus died wearing a Franciscan frock... Columbus may have been a disciple or student of the illuminated Raymond Lully." Manly P. Hall calls Columbus "Christopher Colon, the dove of Genoa" (p. 57).
Manly Palmer Hall, The Adepts in the Western Esoteric Tradition,
Part 5: America's Assignment with Destiny,
Philosophical Research Society, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, 1951
Stamp: Spain #C46 Columbus, 50 centimos, issued Sept. 29, 1930

living in Livingston Hall, dining in John Jay Hall
I knew that Robert Livingston and John Jay were founding fathers of America when I was an undergraduate at Columbia University. However, I didn't know that they were both Freemasons until recently. When Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall, New York, John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was not yet appointed until October 19, 1789. So Robert Livingston, Chancellor of New York State, and the first grand master of the Grand Lodge of New York (1784-1801), used a Masonic Bible to administered the oath. Washington's Second Inaugural was held in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall In Philadelphia on March 4, 1793. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court William Cushing administered the oath of office. William Cushing was a Freemason from Boston's St. Andrews Lodge (Freemasons: U.S. Supreme Court Justices).

Freemasons of Founding Fathers on United States Postage Stamps:

U.S. #323 Robert R. Livingston
1¢ green, issued April 30, 1904
to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase
Exposition, St. Louis, 4/30-12/1/1904
Set of 5 values (Scott #323-327)

U.S. #1046 John Jay
15¢ rose lake,
issued Dec. 12, 1958
Liberty Issue Definitives
Scott #1030-1053 (27)

U.S. #854 Washington's Inauguration
3¢ bright red violet, issued 4/30/1939 to
commemorate the Sesquicentennial of
Washington's Inaugural as 1st President

Columbia, Lady Freedom atop the Capitol Building in Washingtion
The bronze Statue of Freedom by Thomas Crawford is the crowning feature of the dome of the United States Capitol. The statue is a classical female figure of Freedom wearing flowing draperies. Her right hand rests upon the hilt of a sheathed sword; her left holds a laurel wreath of victory and the shield of the United States with thirteen stripes. Her helmet is encircled by stars and features a crest composed of an eagle's head, feathers, and talons, a reference to the costume of Native Americans. A brooch inscribed "U.S." secures her fringed robes. She stands on a cast-iron globe encircled with the national motto, E Pluribus Unum. The lower part of the base is decorated with fasces and wreaths. Ten bronze points tipped with platinum are attached to her headdress, shoulders, and shield for protection from lightning. The bronze statue stands 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Her crest rises 288 feet above the east front plaza.
Stamp: U.S. #989 "Lady Freedom on Capitol Dome", 3¢ issued April 20, 1950

District of Columbia
The District of Columbia,
founded on July 16, 1790,
is a federal district as specified
by the United States Constitution.
The term "District of Columbia"
is derived from an old poetic name
for the United States, Columbia,
which has fallen out of common
use since the early 20th century.

our founding fathers, the Freemasons
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization whose membership is held together by shared moral and metaphysical ideals. It began as a guild of skilled itinerant masons during the Middle Ages. Four or more such guilds, called lodges, united in London on June 24, 1717, and by 1723 this became the Grand Lodge of England. This body is the "mother" grand lodge of Freemasons in the world. The earliest of American lodges were the First Lodge of Boston, established in 1733, and one in Philadelphia, established about the same time. By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), about 150 lodges existed in colonial America. Among America's founding fathers who were Freemasons: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Robert Livingston, Ethan Allen, John Paul Jones, Paul Revere, and John Jay. A search in biographies and a list of Freemasons show that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were not Freemasons.

Who planned all this— George Washington & Ben Franklin?
On December 8, 1730, Benjamin Franklin printed in his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, the first documented notice about Freemasonry in North America. Franklin himself became a Freemason in February 1731, and Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. That same year, he ushered into print the first Freemasonic book to be published in America, and edition of Anderson's Constitutions, the Bible for English Freemasonry. He eventually rose to Grand Master of the St. John's lodge and in 1749 was elected Grand Master of the Province. While in France in the 1770s, as a diplomat for the American colonies, Franklin was made Grand Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris. While in Paris Franklin used his Masonic contacts to raise funds to buy arms for the American rebels. On April 7, 1778 he assisted in the initiation of Voltaire, in the Lodge of Nine Sisters in Paris, and affiliated with that Lodge the same year. On November 28, 1778 he officiated at the Masonic funeral services held by that Lodge for Voltaire. On May 21, 1779 we find him elected master of the Lodge of Nine Sisters. Sources: The Masonic Foundations of the United States & Benjamin Franklin: American Statesman & Freemason

George Washington himself laid out the District of Columbia according to Biblical specifications as the City Four-square in the place of broad rivers. We call the capital of America "Washington" after its founder, but Washington himself, in lasting tribute to that first Federal Kingdom in the Old Jerusalem, named it "The Federal City". The corner-stone of the Capitol Building of the United States was laid by Washington in a Masonic ceremonial in which three Masonic Lodges participated. Upon that occasion Grand Master Joseph Clark said: "Brothers, I beg leave to disclose to you that I have, and I expect you have also, every hope that the Grand Work we have done today will be handed down as well by Record as by Oral Tradition, to as late posterity as the like Work of that ever memorable Temple to our order erected by our Grand Master Solomon." If the spirit of Columbus hovers over the District of Columbia, perhaps it has guided our great American Presidents to their own appreciation of his beloved Isaiah: "For the Liberal devises Liberal things and by Liberal things shall he stand." Sources: Grace A. Fendler, New Truths About Columbus, L.N. Fowler & Co., London, 1934, pp. 27-28

Poet Laureate Rita Dove reads her poem Lady Freedom Among Us
This poem was read at the occasion of the return of the statue
Freedom to the dome of the Capitol on 23 October 1993.
    don't think you can ever forget her
    don't even try
    she's not going to budge
    no choice but to grant her space
    crown her with sky
    for she is one of the many
    and she is each of us

What's fascinating about this episode is that the poet's name Dove
matches that of the statue's name "Columbia" restored on the Capitol's
Dome in Washington, the District of Columbia— and Columba means Dove.
The National Poet Laureate is an appointment for 1-2 years. Was Rita Dove's
appointment to this position made to coincide with the restoration
of "Lady Columbia" on top of the Capitol Building of Congress?

Columbia disaster
NASA's Columbia STS-107 Space Shuttle disaster
was the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia
over Texas on February 1, 2003, during re-entry into
the Earth's atmosphere. The entire 7-member crew died.

Columbine (massacre) The Columbine High School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado, near Denver. Two teenage students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, carried out a shooting rampage, killing 12 fellow students and a teacher, as well as wounding 24 others, before committing suicide. It is considered to be the deadliest school shooting, and the second deadliest attack on a school in US History.

the dove— ancient symbol from bygone eras
See my Dove Symbolism Notes in art, myth, and religion as well as alchemy.
I will cite here the dove connection with Freemasonry:
or Androgynal Masonry which appeared in France, 1784 A.D.
DOVE: This bird was the diluvian messenger of peace, and hovered over the retreating
waters like a celestial harbinger of safety. Thus a lunette floating on the surface
of the ocean, attended by a dove with an olive branch in its mouth, and encircled by
a rainbow, form a striking and expressive symbol which needs no explanation. If Freemasonry
has allowed this bird to occupy a high situation amongst its hallowed symbols, the reasons
for such an appropriation are fully competent to justify the proceeding. The dove was
an agent at the creation, at the deluge, and at the baptism of Christ.
Source: Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry
Gramercy Books, New York, 1989, reprint, pp. 122, 492
FREEMASONRY— History & Origin: The history of modern freemasonry
begins with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, which was
inaugurated on St. John the Baptist's Day 1717 by several old lodges.
Source: Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism,
Strathmore Press, NY, 1959, p. 175 (original: Routledge, London, 1920)
Comment: It is interesting that the Freemason Grand Lodge began on Saint John the Baptist's
Day [June 24]. The dove descended on Christ when he was baptized by John the Baptist.

Emily's “Courage! My brave Columba!”
Quoted from Emily Dickinson's Poem #48 (circa 1862)

    Once more, my now bewildered Dove
    Bestirs her puzzled wings
    Once more her mistress, on the deep
    Her troubled question flings—

    Thrice to the floating casement
    The Patriarch's bird returned,
    Courage! My brave Columba!
    There may yet be Land!

Emily was aware that Columba is Latin for dove, and the images in this poem refers to Genesis 8.10-11 where the dove finds dry land and brings an olive leaf back to Noah in the Ark. Likewise, Emily's image of "Columbus... baptized America" (Poem 555) may be linked to the dove's descent when Christ was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew, 3.16)

Guthrie's song Roll on Columbia
“Your power is turning our darkness to dawn”

Woody Guthrie: Roll on Columbia (1941)

Roll on, Columbia, roll on
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew
Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue
Roll on Columbia, roll on

Other great rivers add power to you
Yakima, Snake, and the Klickitat, too
Sandy Willamette and Hood River too
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

Tom Jefferson's vision would not let him rest
An empire he saw in the Pacific Northwest
Sent Lewis and Clark and they did the rest
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

It's there on your banks that we fought many a fight
Sheridan's boys in the blockhouse that night
They saw us in death but never in flight
So roll on Columbia, roll on

At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks
The waters have risen and cleared all the rocks
Shiploads of plenty will steam past the docks
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

And on up the river is Grand Coulee Dam
The mightiest thing ever built by a man
To run the great factories and water the land
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

These mighty men labored by day and by night
Matching their strength 'gainst the river's wild flight
Through rapids and falls, they won the hard fight
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

Let the Great Spirit come and bless us
In Christianity, the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost
(see Albrecht Durer's woodcut Descent of the Holy Spirit, 1510).
I've changed the original version of this line from "Holy Spirit"
to "The Great Spirit" because the former focus is too narrow.
Columbus discovered America, the home of the Native Americans
who worshipped the Great Spirit that embraces Father Sky and
Mother Earth. The photo at left shows Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909)
by Cyrus Dallin (1861-1944) in front of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
It depicts a Native American on his horse with head lifted up to heaven
praying to the Great Spirit. It is with such humbleness that we are showered
with grace and blessings. While doing research on the prediction of protein
structures (1972-1980), I gained much insights from biochemists and X-ray
crystallographers. But often, I'd visit Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and
find inspiration from their fine collection of Impressionists such as Renoir
and Monet, Buddhist Art, and especially this wonderful statue at the entrance.

© Photo by Peter Y. Chou, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (circa 1973)
Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909) by Cyrus Dallin (1861-1944)

to soar onward and upward to the stars
The constellation Columba was discovered by the French astronomer Augustin Royer in 1679. Even before de Lacaille divided the giant Argo Navis into three smaller constellations— Carina, Puppis and Vela, COLUMBA was seen as a bird flying alongside the vessel. It was thought to represent either the dove that Noah sent out from his ark to test how far the flood had subsided, or the one that guided the Argonauts through the Symplegades, the crashing rocks that guarded the entrance to the Black Sea. Columba lies south of Lepus the Hare, and on the meridian with Orion's Belt. This constellation was known in classical times as Columba Noae "Noah's Dove" (Constellation Columba & Myth). Graphic: Fritz Wegner, Columba the Constellation (Watercolor, 1986)

Back to Poem: Dove of Discovery

Notes: Despite many of the founding fathers of America were Freemasons, there have been claims that 53 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, whereas only 9 have been verified. Since I attended classes at Columbia University in Hamilton Hall, I thought Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury and an Aide-de-Camp of Washington was a Freemason like Robert Livingston and John Jay. Consulting several biographies of Hamilton revealed that he was not a Mason. Of the early U.S. Presidents, only Washington, Monroe, and Andrew Jackson were Freemasons. John Quincy Adams in a reply to solicitations of becoming a Mason, replied that since his father John Adams was not a Mason, he does not wish to join either. Jefferson and Madison were also not Freemasons. There have been Freemason scandals that an Anti-Mason Party was formed (1827). Also Thomas Crawford, the sculptor of "Lady Freedom" atop the Capitol Building was not a Mason, as well as the architects (Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Andrew Elliot, Benjamin Banneker) who planned the streets of Washington D.C. (1791-1792). While the dove has been appropriated as a Freemasonic symbol, the dove of discovery visits those who are poetic at heart like Emily Dickinson and Rita Dove. This is the dove spirit we wish to embrace.

— Peter Y. Chou
     Mountain View, 12-12-2006