By Ian A. Stewart


At some point in the fall, Brian Saldivar logged on to his email account and sensed something, well, different. “Did I get hacked or something?” he wondered.

Thankfully, no. But something had changed: The familiar red and white Gmail logo had been quietly replaced by a stylized, multicolored M. For many, the change was barely noticeable. But with it, an accidental Masonic icon—hiding in plain sight in everyday popular culture—was lost to the world.

More than most, Saldivar could appreciate the loss: As a Mason with Hermes Lodge U.D., and a Los Angeles–area graphic designer who specializes in corporate branding, he recognizes the power of symbols. And though technically the old Gmail logo was in the shape of an envelope, to the trained eye of a Master Mason, it looked shockingly like a red-trimmed Masonic apron.

It wasn’t the only well-known logo over the years that at least seemed to pay homage to Freemasonry. Apple’s first design for the App Store featured a pencil, paintbrush, and ruler forming a triangular letter A—at a quick glance, strikingly similar to the Masonic square and compass. Facebook’s blue and white lowercase F and thumbs-up icon even bear a passing resemblance to a Masonic symbol for Tubal Cain.

A subtle nod from Silicon Valley to those within the craft? Probably not. Saldivar offers a slightly less blinkered explanation. “If you lie on the ground and look at the clouds, you might see a dinosaur,” he says. “We all perceive things based on our experiences.”

For Masons, with their rich tradition of symbology, the possibilities of spotting, say, the Eastern Star or the Eye of Providence in a corporate logo are endless. Then again, it might just be a star shape. “It’s up to the person looking at it,” Saldivar says. “That’s why we have all these conspiracy theories!”

Clark Miller

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