The Initiatory Degree for Odd Fellows, as with many fraternal groups, included the theme of death and resurrection: After a symbolic death, the candidate would be reborn as a full member of the group. The contemplation of mortality stressed the importance of living in an ethical manner and mentally prepared a candidate for his rebirth and the obligations that accompanied his acceptance into the fraternity.
The hourglass, emblematic of the passage of time, is one of the most common fraternal symbols. Freemasons employ the hourglass or winged hourglass in their Master Mason, or Third, Degree to symbolize the transitory nature of life. In Odd Fellowship, the hourglass was used in the Encampment Royal Purple Degree. After the Odd Fellows reorganized their degrees in 1882, the hourglass, without a globe, was used in the Third, or Truth, Degree and is also the emblem on the jewel of the Vice Grand. As described in one Odd Fellows monitor: “This emblem speaks to us of the brevity of human life. As the sands in the hour-glass incessantly run down, so every breath we breathe but shortens life and brings the end nearer and nearer.”
Stacy C. Hollander, "Fraternal Hourglass with Globe," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.