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The Eye of Providence is one of the most well-known but also most confusing for a lot of people. It is a religious symbol that dates back to ancient times. A Christian symbol, the Eye of Providence has had many uses over the years, both in Christian iconography, in Freemasonry, in the Great Seal of the United States, as well as in various independent and often artistic projects and items.
Today, simply as a popular symbol, the Eye of Providence can often be seen in jewelry or artisan pieces and its meaning can either be kept true to its origins or be used ironically because of all the conspiracy theories and misunderstandings around it.
But what exactly is the Eye of Providence, what are those conspiracy theories, and what use does it have in jewelry? And most importantly, should you buy jewelry with the Eye of Providence symbol on it?
We answer all your questions in this quick guide.
What is the Eye of Providence?
Even if you don’t know what it’s called, chances are, you’ve seen the Eye of Providence somewhere. The symbol represents the all-seeing eye of God in Christianity.
It can be depicted with different surroundings and in different settings, but it’s typically drawn as an eye with a number of rays of light shooting out of it in all directions. It’s usually depicted in a triangle, representing the Holy Trinity in Christianity.
However, you’ll find stylized versions in modern jewelry, with the eye depicted in several different ways.
Eye of Providence Symbolism
The eye has long been a symbol of good luck, protection and fortune. Throughout history, we see the eye being used as a good luck symbol. From the nazar boncugu to the Eye of Horus, the eye has been valued as a protective symbol across the globe.
Eye of providence pendant. See it here.
The Eye of Providence was first created as a representation of the all-seeing eye of God and that’s how it’s been officially used ever since. It’s a benevolent symbol, representing protection, salvation and God’s blessings.
Today, it’s quite likely that a lot of people don’t know what the Eye of Providence is meant to represent. For a lot, it’s just the symbol of Freemasonry, of “Big Brother”, of the Illuminati, or of any other conspiratory notion. That’s a pity, however, because for people who want to keep using it with its traditional meaning – the all-seeing eye of God – this creates the problem of always having to explain themselves to those around them.
Types of Eye of Providence Jewelry
As many other well-known and established ancient symbols – whether religious or cultural – the Eye of Providence also has its place in the jewelry and artisan industries.
It’s often used in various pendant and necklace designs, on bracelets or as the centerpiece of earrings. The Eye of Providence is also often depicted on rings.
Eye of Providence bracelet. See it here.
The symbol is also popularly used in charms and amulets. Because of its benevolent connotations, it can be worn by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation.
There are also many stylized versions of the Eye like this rustic pyramid-shaped pendant.
Eye of Providence vs. Eye of Horus
It’s relatively easy to confuse the Eye of Providence with the Eye of Horus if you’re not too familiar with the meaning of these two symbols. And, to be fair, both symbols represent the eye of a deity that’s watching over the people.
In the case of the Eye of Horus, the deity is the ancient Egyptian Sun god Horus, while the Eye of Providence is the eye of the Judeo-Christian God.
While the Eye of Providence symbolizes that God is all-seeing and ever-watching over us, the Eye of Horus, also called the Wadjet, is meant to be a symbol of protection that wards off evil and promoted healing and rejuvenation.
The easiest way to differentiate between these two Divine eyes is that the Eye of Horus typically has a more artistic design with two swirls below it while the Eye of Providence is typically depicted in a more realistic style with or without the light rays and with either a triangle or a cloud drawn around it.
It can be said that both symbols look rather well on pendants and amulets, plus both have strong and positive meanings attached to them. So, whether you should choose one or the other, is very much a matter of personal preference.
The Eye of Providence Controversy
The Eye of Providence has its origins in Christian iconography, representing the all-seeing eye of God. Since then it has been co-opted by a lot of different organizations, religious or otherwise.
Freemasons and the Eye of Providence
Ever since 1797, the Eye of Providence has been a major symbol of Freemasonry thanks to a publication of Thomas Smith Webb in the Freemasons Monitor. There, it isn’t depicted in a triangle but instead – underneath a cloud.
The Great Seal of the United States
Another popular use of the Eye of Providence is as part of the Great Seal of the United States. It was included on the reverse side of the seal in 1782 – 14 years before the Freemason society adopted it as its own symbol.
In the Great Seal, the Eye of Providence is depicted in its original form – inside of a triangle. Furthermore, the triangle with the Eye was placed on top of a pyramid with 13 steps to it. These 13 steps were meant to symbolize the thirteen states of the U.S. at the time. It was a complex metaphor, depicting the U.S. as a “work in progress” and the Eye of Providence – looking over them, overseeing their progress.
As fitting as that metaphor was at the time, since then the presence of the Eye of Providence in the Great Seal has sparked quite a lot of controversy. Because the pyramid is a rather foreign symbol for U.S. citizens and because the Freemasons adopted the Eye of Providence as their own symbol around the same time, many conspiracy theories believe that the Great Seal of the United States is proof that the country is ruled by the Freemasons.
Of course, every Freemason organization has denied that, and they have all cited the fact that they adopted the Eye at a later day. Furthermore, of all the members of the committee that approved the design of the Great Seal of the United States, only Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason and his own ideas for the seal’s design were all rejected.
As controversial as the Eye of Providence origins and history may be, they are certainly fascinating. Whatever your thoughts and feelings toward the symbol, it’s undoubtedly an iconic and very popular symbol even today.
The Illuminati and the Eye of Providence
The “Illuminati”, in particular, are a very popular conspiracy theory in modern times. The original “Illuminati” were established around the same time the Eye of Providence was established on the Great Seal and in the Freemason society – the Bavarian Illuminati.
The group was an Enlightenment-era secret society that was founded in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt. Their goals seem to have been to oppose superstition, obscurantism, and religious influences over the public life. Naturally, they were never known to use the Eye of Providence in any official manner. However, the “Illuminati” name has kept being used as a byword for “secret societies, ruling over people” to this day, and the Eye of Providence was simply attached to the name by the people.
Should I Wear the Eye of Providence?
The Eye is often misinterpreted as being evil, and it’s easy to see why. An eye on its own doesn’t tend to show a lot of feeling, unlike a mouth, and can appear cold, unmoving and unfeeling. These traits then translate to representing evil and bad things. But far from it. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – the Eye of Providence is meant to be a benevolent symbol.
With all this in mind, the question becomes:
Should I wear the Eye of Providence or should I avoid it altogether?
The answer to this question is fairly easy. Wear the symbol if you like what it represents and how it looks. After all, it’s a good luck symbol with religious connotations. For Christians, the Eye of Providence is meaningful and shouldn’t hold any negative meanings.
However, you may find that you have to explain to others what the symbol means. The associations with conspiracy theories have been popular in movies and media, meaning that the symbol is now quite recognizable in this light.
Where to Buy the Eye of Providence
Taking your search online will give you endless options as opposed to searching at the local brick and mortar store. You’ll find many stylized and classic Eye of Providence jewelry online.