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Rank Insignia and Symbolism Analysis for Battlestar Galactica 2003: Update
Written by Jim Stevenson   
Saturday, 21 April 2007

Jim Stevenson (aka 137th Gebirg) has done several articles on the Rank Insignia (The History of the Rank Insignia Chart for Battlestar Galactica 2003 and The Rank Insignia Chart for Battlestar Galactica 2003: Update) and the Symbolism (The Use of the Pentagon in Battlestar Galactica) on Battlestar Galactica 2003. This is an update with new details and findings by him.

I return to you again with one of the biggest updates to my rank devices chart in quite some time. This update came as a result of new discoveries of "screen used" devices and insignia and additional high-quality screen captures found on the web. In addition to the usual rank chart, I have also updated an early design concept of the various decorations worn by the cast on their "dress grays" as seen in various formal events throughout the show. I conclude this article with an additional analysis of some of the symbolism seen within Battlestar Galactica and its potential influence by a curious fraternal society which calls itself Freemasonry.

1. The Rank Chart

Senior Officers: Several very cool things have been recently found on the web - particularly from an eBay auction that was posted a while back - including a screen-used Commander's rank device (single) and a Junior Pilot's Qualification Wings. The discovery of these two objects was the primary driving force behind this update. The Commander's pin:

Rank Insignia

...is by far the best example of the rank device seen to-date. It also shows the level of detail that the costuming department went through to produce these little items. The odd blue-green discoloration on the right side of the pin on the silver back-plate appears to be some possible heat damage resulting from a solder point connecting the front gold piece to the back-plate. It also appears as if the raised edges of the top piece are actually silver, with the sunken parts being gold. There has been some debate in the costuming communities on whether or not they were actually silver (like the raised portions of the junior officers' devices) or all gold. This picture seems to definitively show that the raised areas are, in fact, silver (or have had the gold plating forcibly removed after the plating process was completed). It also shows that the bird design used here has 6 feathers on each wing, possibly symbolic of the 12 Colonies of humankind. I have adjusted the Colonel, Commander and Admiral's rank devices to reflect this change.

Junior Officers: Another eBay gem is this screen-used Junior Pilot Qualification Badge:

Rank Insignia

Here, you can see that the raised portions have also had the gold plating removed, revealing the silver underneath (a change that was reflected in version 5 of the rank chart), but also something that no other promotional photo has revealed in the past: The upward-pointing chevrons are not sitting at a higher level than the lower single chevron, but rather on the same level, with little breaks in the lines between the chevrons. I am told that all Junior Officers' rank devices and the Senior Pilot Qualification Wings follow this same motif and have also been changed to reflect this.

Lieutenant Junior Grade: Additionally, it was found that the chevron inside the LTJG rank was considerably narrower than what was originally depicted. It should be the same design as the Petty Officer 1st Class pin, but with the usual gold officers' background rather than the enlisted/NCO green. Below are photos of all four "official" Junior Officer ranks for comparison. Notice the narrower chevron on the LTJG grade than is on all the rest:

Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia

Lieutenant Junior Grade

Lieutenant

Captain

Major

Chief and Master Chief Petty Officers: While entering into discussion over at the Dewback Wing ASAP costuming and props forum, it appears that some correction needed to be made to Tyrol's CPO pin and, ergo, the conjectured MCPO pin. Based on this picture:

Rank Insignia

The CPO's device seems to have extra little nickel-plated diamonds inside the two flanking smaller green diamonds. I honestly don't know why I didn't see this earlier but, in looking through other promotional photos, I have confirmed that those little diamonds have been there all along!  So, I have adjusted the CPO and MCPO devices accordingly. I would like to express my thanks to "Allupo" at Dewback for bringing this to my attention. I still continue to marvel at the detail in these things!

So, without further ado, the chart...

Rank Devices Chart (v6)

Rank Devices Chart

2. The Dress Uniform Decorations Chart

Not long after version 1 of the Ranks Chart was completed, I set off to build a second chart laying out the dress uniform (or "dress grays") decorations as worn on the sashes by the cast on special occasions. As version 1 of this chart is sadly inaccurate, and nobody really knew the significance of the devices on the sashes, I never widely publicized it. Since that time, there have been additions to the available decorations on these sashes, plus the curious inclusion of these decorations worn by Admiral Corman in Season 3's episode "Hero" on his standard duty uniform (‘or "duty blues"). One of the interesting little "in jokes" you will find on these sashes is a modified variant of the TOS-style Galactica pin which is an upside-down United States Army Intelligence pin, with an added 4-pointed star on top. I've been told that these pins may have been originally made for the aborted "continuation" Battlestar Galactica series by Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto back in 2000/2001, and somehow found their way into Ron D. Moore's new production:

TOS Versions:

NuBSG Versions:

Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia
Rank Insignia

As mentioned, there is no real background behind the significance of all these decorations. We don't even really know the meaning of the "wings", but can postulate, based on what we've seen.

For the first time, in public...

Dress Gray Decorations Chart (v2)

Dress Gray Decorations Chart

3. Symbolism in Battlestar Galactica - A Masonic Connection?

Normally, I would write a separate essay on this topic, but I don't feel there is enough empirical evidence to warrant it. Suffice it to say, there are a few interesting symbolic choices used by Ron D. Moore, David Eick, the costuming department, or any combination of the three to broaden the overall flavor of the show and enrich the tapestry that has been woven so far.

First off, as many of you know, I have been fascinated by symbolism for most of my adult life and have written various essays on the subject, as published on GALACTICA.TV. Second of all, I am a member of the Masonic Fraternity and, as a result, that fascination increased as did a heightened awareness of such symbolic usage in everyday life, hidden in plain sight. Being naturally drawn to the new production of Battlestar Galactica, having been a fan of the original, I was pleasantly surprised (and sometimes shocked) at the usage of esoteric symbolism in the show (see my essay on Battlestar Galactica Symbolism and the Pentagon).

The first time I felt something was "up" on Battlestar Galactica and its possible ties to Masonic symbolism was when I was building the first version of my Rank Devices Chart (which is why I have decided to include this sub-essay here in this release). I was startled to find that all Junior Officers' rank devices and both the Junior and Senior Pilot Qualification Wings had hidden Masonic Square-and-Compasses in them!

Symbolism

This would not be the first time that Masonic symbolism was used in a science fiction/fantasy genre as a means to denote rank and grade in a military organization.  In the graphic novel "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (GREAT book, HORRIBLE movie, I.M.H.O., as most are), various enlisted men and non-commissioned officers belonging to a fictional military branch of Freemasonry in 19th Century England displayed stacked square-and-compasses as rank chevrons on their tunics:

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

There are some other topical Masonic references that should be mentioned here as well:

The first Season 1 regular episode was entitled "33". The 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is the highest attainable degree within that particular branch of Masonry. Cally's angst over "Why 33?  Why not 32?  Why not 34?" drove the odd ambiguous choice of this particular number home. Is it really a reference to Masonry or to Ron Moore's favorite beer, "Rolling Rock" with the "33" on the bottle?

Symbolism

In the episode "Fragged", the members of the Quorum of the 12 appear to be wearing Masonic officers' collars, jewels and sashes. Others have mentioned that these are also widely used by heads of state throughout Canada and Europe - an alternative inspiration for that choice of costuming, but the confluence of these and other Masonic symbols in the series make me wonder.

Symbolism

Also in "Fragged", during Crashdown's funeral ceremony, he speaks these words:

"Lords of Kobol, take these brave men into your arms, take the spirits of our fallen friends so that they may share in the everlasting life that awaits us all beyond the veil of tears. So say we all."

Symbolism 

The thing that strikes me about this dialog is its reference to a "veil of tears". Not the kind of phrase that makes its way into everyday conversation, is it? One of the more significant prayers of Freemasonry starts off with this line:

"Thou, oh God! Knowest our downsetting and our uprising and understandest our thoughts afar off. Shield and defend us from the evil intentions of our enemies, and support us under the trials and afflictions we are destined to endure while traveling through this veil of tears..."

Finally, the pentagon is a symbol which has been painted on the wings of all Cylon Raiders (both in the new series and the original) and has also been used prominently in the enigmatic "Temple of the Five" on Planet Algae during Battlestar Galactica's Season 3. It is a symbol used masonically by the York Rite Sovereign College, representing the 5 main bodies of the York Rite - the Blue Lodge, the Royal Arch, Cryptic Masonry, the Commandery of Knights Templar and the York Rite College itself. The 18th (Rose Croix) Degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry refers to the pentagon as the alchemical symbol of quintessence, or fifth essence (fifth element), referring to humanity as the perfectly balanced amalgamation of the four primary elements in alchemy: earth, air, fire and water.

Symbolism

I am one day hoping that, if there is some (or any) significance to the speculations I find myself scribbling about in these essays, I will receive some quiet little private message on a forum, or a short little email from someone inside NuBSG's production staff telling me, simply, "Hey, Brother! You're on the mark!" Maybe even from Ron D. Moore himself. Hey, everyone's gotta have a goal!

This concludes this essay installment. I hope it was as fun for you to browse through as it was for me to create. As usual, I will continue to watch the show religiously (no pun intended) to find new hidden meanings within its symbolism and, of course, update the charts as necessary. Until then, take care, and I'll see you around the forums!

Jim Stevenson
(137th Gebirg)

 
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