During the great age of Freemasonry - perhaps that should read, the great commercial age of Freemasonry - the pre-eminence of the Craft among fraternal societies, particularly in America, led to the Masonically- themed accessorisation of practically every article a gentleman might have in his possession, whether a Mason or not.
The particular association of the skull-and-crossed-bones with the Third Degree led to this device appearing on a great many objects, such as the bars and clasps of jewels or medals which served other fraternities as badges of identification; so much so that the skull and bones began simply to denote any society of men with even a vaguely Masonic flavour.
Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Sibylla ti theleis; respondebat illa: apothanein thelo.
Skull & Bones is a secret fraternal group at Yale University.
Many US college fraternities were started in the 1800's and their initiations are vaguely based on Masonic initiations. We have had young guys join our Lodge who, after they were raised, said that now they knew where their fraternities' ritual came from.
When my Daughter was initiated into Her Sorority at university, She told us that the initiation was similar to Eastern Star, which She had previously joined. None of the other girls knew what She was talking about, and obviously She couldn't elaborate to non-members.
I remember as a new member of the KT Order wanting to know more of the Skull and Crossbones. I researched "Crudens Concordance" and there was a reference to the 33rd Verse of the 27th Chapter of Matthew, "And when they were come unto a place called Gologotha that is to say "A place of Skull" Thus this was refering to Gologotha as meaning Skull. Now this is fine in the Christian context of good but there is also the refence in the KT ceremony to the skull handing on a spire as a warning to others.
So, once again it is a matter of interpretation as to what the skull means to each individual.
Hello Aaron, The death head isn't found prominently in American B.Lodge Masonry when it was to be found it was found in the Second class of monitorial emblems in the 3rd° monitorial emblems unfortunately those days are long gone now.They are to be found in the higher degrees prominently in the York and Scottish Rite today. They are said exotericly to remind Every Mason of his mortality. Now in my opinion the greatest rendering of the deadhead is found in the 3rd° tracing board found under the English constitution, wherein the esoteric or inner symbolism is hinted at. When you look at the death head it is composed of two elements one a human skull,and two crossed bones. The skull houses the brain, hence the allusion is to thought, the bones are an allusion to our limbs, hence they symbolize our actions. Now looking at the deadhead you see no symbolical representation of the human spirit, masonry being a science that aims to bring into equilibrium the mind,body,& spirit of man. When man expels this spiritual intuition from his thoughts and actions his own personal masterbuilder remains in the tomb, and masonic enlightment will ever remain a figment of his imagination. Our ancient masonic brethren attempted to warn us of this predicament by placing the deadhead and marrow bones on the 3rd° tracing board in theCenter in the coffin.The symbol of death. In my opinion this is the true masonic significance of the death head. As far as your question is concerned about the skull and bones fraternity of Yale being in some sort of relation with the Masonic Order the answer to that question is no. I hope this post shed some light on your question. Travel On.....