The Great Seal

The front of the Great Seal and an explanation of its symbols of democracy

E Pluribus Unum

The Latin motto "E pluribus unum" was suggested by the first Great Seal committee in 1776. It means "Out of many, one."

Charles Thomson put this motto on a scroll in the beak of an American eagle. "E pluribus unum" is a clear reference to the thirteen colonies united into one nation—symbolized by the shield on the eagle's breast.

As explained in the official description of the Great Seal, the thirteen vertical stripes "represent the several states all joined in one solid compact entire, supporting a Chief, which unites the whole & represents Congress. The Motto alludes to this union."

In Yoism, the unification of our efforts is essential if we are to have impact on our world, i.e., if we are to influence the form in which Yo manifests. This joining together is the raison d'etre for Yoism's manifestation as a religion.

The back of the Great Seal and an explanation of its symbols of democracy

Novus Ordo Seclorum

The Latin motto "novus ordo seclorum" was suggested by Charles Thomson when he put together the final design for the reverse side of the Great Seal in June 1782:

"On the base of the pyramid the numerical letters MDCCLXXVI & underneath the following motto. 'novus ordo seclorum'"

The motto has been traced to Virgil, the renowned Roman poet who lived in the first century B.C. – to a line in his Eclogue IV, the pastoral poem that expresses the longing of the world for a new era of peace and happiness.

"Magnus ab integro seclorum nascitur ordo."

Virgil's line has been translated in different ways, including:

    "The great series of ages begins anew."
    "The ages' mighty march begins anew."
    "A mighty order of ages is born anew."
    "The majestic roll of circling centuries begins anew."

"Novus" means: new, young, fresh, novel. "Ordo" means: series, row, order. "Seclorum, a shortened form of seculorum (sæculorum), is the plural of seculum (sæculum), means: generations, centuries, ages.

Latin expert Charles Thomson coined the motto: "novus ordo seclorum" and explained:

"The date underneath [the pyramid] is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra, which commences from that date."

The U.S. State Department translation of "novus ordo seclorum" is:

"A new order of the ages"

A more accurate and meaningful translation might be:

"A new manifestation for our future"

Annue Cœptis

The Latin motto "Annuit Cœptis" was suggested by Charles Thomson when he put together the final design for the reverse side of the Great Seal in June 1782:

"A Pyramid unfinished. In the Zenith an Eye in a triangle surrounded with a glory proper. Over the Eye these words 'Annuit Cœptis.'"

The motto has also been traced to Virgil; to a line in his Georgics, the evocative instructional manual for farmers:

"Da facilem cursum, atque audacibus annue cœptis."

Virgil's line has been translated in different ways, including:

    "Give me an easy course, and favor my daring undertakings."
    "Smooth my path, condone this enterprise of bold experiment."

Thomson (a Latin expert) changed "annue" to "annuit," the third person form of this verb (i.e., "he") that changes the meaning to imply "he nods to," or "he assents to," or "he is favorable to," or "he smiles upon."

"Cœptis" means undertakings, endeavors, beginnings. In the motto "Annuit Cœptis," the subject must be supplied. Thomson explained:

"The pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: the Eye over it & the Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause."

Therefore, the subject of the sentence, according to Thomson, is Providence. "Annuit Cœptis" means "Providence has favored our undertakings" or "Providence favors our undertakings."

The U.S. State Department translation of "Annuit Cœptis" is:

"He (God) has favored our undertakings."

If, however, we revert to Virgil's original "annue" and don't imply a third person subject (that is, if we remove the implied "he" and go back to Virgil's phrasing), we are left with an unknown manifester of us and our destiny, i.e., the Divine Mystery that is Yo.

Since the other side of The Great Seal suggested this is all about One/Unity arising from the Many and, in this American experiment, Democracy is the way Unity/One emerges from Many, one could translate this as "Yo favors/supports the American Experiment in Democracy." Indeed, as all of Reality is Yos manifestation, if we are able to bring the Democratic Experiment to fruition in the United States (or anywhere in the world, for that matter), then Yo, indeed, "favors" the Democratic Vision. If not, than the Reality will be that the experiment failed.

Since, the future is not someplace we are going—it is something we are creating—the success or failure of Democracy will depend on us, on our actions (or inactions). Dare we not try with all our might to ensure that Yo manifests as a world that respects freedom and individual human rights? If we succeed, we could take the motto to mean:

"Yo (the Divine Mystery) is manifesting as
(fulfilling) a Glorious, Democratic Vision"

The Great Seal, Revisited

The two images of The Great Seal taken together could be understood as:

Out of many, one
In the creation of
A new manifestation
For our future:
Yo fulfilling
The great,
Democratic vision.