|Circle in Square, Las Vegas Nevada Temple|
The circle in the square represent heaven and earth coming together (a great temple symbol). The heavens are often described as a bowl and often symbolized by a circle. In paintings, God is often depicted as laying out the heavens with a compass and the earth with a square. The square is made with a square and represents the earth which is often described as having four corners. The temple is a place that represents the union of heaven and earth, and where heavenly beings (Angels & Jesus Christ) literally come.
The circle in the square can remind us of our temple covenants. I don't want to elaborate on this, but those who have been endowed hopefully have picked up on or will pick up on how a circle and a square represent other symbols that represent other things.
The original Nauvoo Temple had a flying angel weather vane with a symbol above related to the circle in the square. Here is an excerpt explaining the symbol.
Above the angel was the symbol of the square and compass, and surmounting that was a stylized flame of fire. . . . There exists no account for reason of the placement of the square and compass on the weather vane. One scholar has suggested that, since the compass, which is used to draw circles, points towards the bowl of the sky, and that the square, which is used to draw squares, points towards the earth, that the combination of the two symbols represent the powers of God in creating the bowl of the starry heavens and the four corners of the earth (Brown and Smith, Symbols in Stone, p. 105). Since the symbol is associated with "the angel flying through the midst of heaven" (D&C 133:36), it may suggest that the gospel will be "declared by holy angels" (Moses 5:58) from above to the four corners of the earth, even "unto every nation, and kindred, tongue and people" (D&C 133:37). (source site)The Salt Lake Temple used the circle in square symbol (and didn't just hint at it). The symbol can be seen in two places. The first is here and is actually the earth stones (they just didn't receive the details of continents when the temple materials were changed to granite. In this case, the symbol may be unintentionally a circle in a square. The other location is high on the temple, near the top. In this photo the circle in the square symbol is repeated above the inscription stone and below the cloud stones (which originally were planned with trumpets and would have been trumpet stones, which is where I got the name for this blog). I've heard people claim that this symbol is the Saturn stone. Originally the temple was planned to include stones sculpted like the planet Saturn; however, John Taylor had them removed from the temple design at the same time he instructed the architects to stop doing everything the way the Masons did as this was not a Masonic temple. The circle in the square symbol is definitely NOT the planned Saturn stone symbol. If you look in the book The Salt Lake Temple: A Monument to a People 1893-1993 you can see the original elevations of the temple and they include both the Saturn stones AND the current tower circle in square symbols on the same drawing. These two symbols are distinctly different symbols. I hope I've cleared that up, because a lot of people claim otherwise (online and elsewhere) and it is flat out wrong. The Salt Lake Temple would also have originally had the compass and square symbols next to the earth stones, but later designs eliminated the symbols.
Many other temples include the circle in a square symbol, so many that I'm not even going to attempt to list them. You'll find them in stone, on doors, in glass, on fences, cast into the concrete for sidewalks, and many other places. Here are some examples - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The original Ogden Utah Temple and the current Provo Utah Temple contain this symbol when viewed from the top. The upper portion of each temple was rounded and is where the endowment and sealings are performed. The base of the temples is square (or nearly so).
I like the circle in square symbol, its simplicity, and its beautiful symbolism of heaven and earth united. Please comment and let us know what you think about this symbol or other places it has been used.
If you want to read more, here is an article by Hugh Nibley on the subject from BYU's website.