The Owl, The Dollar Bill, And The Freemasons?

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
See the little owl?  Ain't it a hoot!  Some will argue that's not an owl at all.
While I was over at our annual Grand Lodge Convocation in Springfield, Illinois last month, I found an enormous book on symbology on the clearance rack at Barnes & Noble.  Of course I bought it--you can't have too many books on symbolism, right?  Last night, I ran across a very detailed description of how the owl has been historically used as a symbol.  It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Freemason a few years ago after I'd done a presentation.

This Mason claimed there were two evidences of Masonic influence on the dollar bill--one was the back of the Great Seal of the United States, the well-known unfinished pyramid and all-seeing eye.  That's perhaps one of the most roundly misunderstood and misinterpreted symbols of all time, and about as Masonic in origin as a ham sandwich.  The other evidence was the little owl hidden in the upper right hand corner.  I knew that was there, but that was the first time it had been suggested to me that it was "masonic" in origin.

I can remember the first time that little owl was pointed out to me.  I was still in grade school, and our teacher pointed it out to the class one day.  She told us it was a symbol of wisdom, and that's why it was included in the design.  She also said that little details like that made it all the harder for anybody to try and copy a dollar bill.

But the owl isn't a Masonic symbol--it is associated more with the Illuminati.  Robert Johnson wrote a very good piece about that some years ago The Owl and Freemasonry on the Midnight Freemasons.  It wasn't easy to sell my new friend on the idea that neither the back of the Grand Seal of the United States or the owl had any strong Masonic ties--he was a true believer that they did.  I do not believe I was successful in convincing him.  And he's not alone in believing the Great Seal of the United States is Masonic--I hear Masons who should know better make that claim all the time, and I stopped trying to correct them on it a decade ago.

However, I never saw the owl on the dollar bill.  It never looked like an owl to me.  From the first time our teacher pointed it out to us in class up to this day, when I see that little engraving in the upper right hand corner of the dollar bill I see the exact same thing.  I've shown a few people over the years what I see, and they say once they saw it they never see the owl again.

Turn that dollar bill over and have a close look at it.  Do you see it yet?  Is your mind blown?

Aye, Matey . . . that be the Jolly Roger?
I never saw an owl--I saw a skull and crossbones.  I was holding the dollar under the projector for the teacher so the class could see it on the wall--so I saw it upside-down the first time.  Once you see the skull, you can't unsee it.  To me, it looks more like a skull upside-down than an owl right-side up.

And the skull and crossbones . . . well, that does have some Masonic symbolic meaning as we all well know.  For those Masonic conspiracy theorist out there, you can consider this an early Christmas gift.  You're welcome!  Run with it! 

Now as anybody who studies symbols knows (and I'm strictly an amateur), symbols always have dual meanings.  It would not surprise me in the least to find out that this duality (owl one way, and skull the other) was intentional by the engraver--the owl, a symbol of wisdom and intellect, and the skull and symbol of death and/or new life.  It's interesting to think about anyway.

So now that you've see it, what do you think?  Owl or skull?  Or nothing at all?


Todd E. Creason, 33° is an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the author of the the From Labor To Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary.  He is a a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR).  He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP.  He serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F.&A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer.  He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316.  You can contact him at:


  1. I knew the “owl” was there, but when i was a kid I was told it was the spider that spun the web all over the design of the dollar bill.

  2. It's a spider, not an owl. Freemasons had nothing to do with US currency. The Great Seals of the United States of America on the reverse of the $1 bill was the result of 3 Committees. The only Freemason on the committee was RWBro Benjamin Franklin. He was not in charge, nor chairman. All of his suggestions were consistently voted down. He wanted the national bird to be the turkey vulture... We ended up with the bald eagle. He wanted scenes from Exodus (on one side the children of isreal leaving Egypt free from the bondage of tyranny. On the other side Pharoah and his hosts being consumed by the red Sea.)

    All of his suggestions were rejected.

    There is no Masonic influence or symbolism in the Great Seals or American currency.

  3. I strongly agree with beehive mason.. in fact, if you look closely at the dollar bill, the supposed "owl" or crossbones is actually just a bad placement of the filigree design, or "lacing that can fully be viewed on other places on the background of the bill. And the all seeing eye is just a symbolism of the E. Pluribus Unum or... In God we trust..


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