A salesman's car breaks down in a remote country lane. A farmer in the adjacent field comes over and they discover that they are "Brothers". The salesman is concerned as he has an important appointment in the local town. "Don't worry", says the farmer. "You can use my car, I'll call a friend and get the car repaired while you go to the appointment". Off goes the salesman and a couple of hours later he returns but unfortunately the car is awaiting a part which won’t arrive until the next morning. "It's not a problem," says the farmer, "use my telephone and re-schedule your first appointment tomorrow, stay with us tonight and I'll see that the car is done first thing!" The farmer's wife prepares a wonderful meal and they share a glass of fine single malt during an excellent evening. The salesman sleeps soundly and when he awakes there is his car, repaired and ready to go. After a full English breakfast the salesman thanks them both for the hospitality. As he and the farmer walk to his car he turns and asks "My Brother, thank you so much but I have to ask, did you help me because I am a Mason?" "No" was the reply, "I helped you because I am a Mason".
Unique Award to a 50 Year Mason in Texas
By Jawahar Malhotra
RICHMOND: The annals of the work of the Freemasons are filled with many worthy deeds, each performed in the spirit of the fraternity that has been inspired since the order was first established long ago in 1717 when the first Grand Lodge of England was formed in London. Personal growth and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy have been the guiding lights of the stonemason guilds that have survived through the ensuing centuries.
Stonemason guilds have transcended national boundaries and religious affiliations and though they were long seen as a shadowy organization, the root of the association has sought to better the lives of those around the local Lodges where the members gather for regular meetings. They follow a strict code of conduct, each member, addressed as “Brother”, passing through progressive degrees of initiation from Entered Apprentice to Fellowcraft and finally Master Mason. Some very famous Americans were Masons, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and President Teddy Roosevelt.
For Dr. Rajinder Pal Singh Bhalla, this was a fascinating world, one which he had been exposed to as a young boy by his father who was a Past Grand Standard Bearer and Past Junior Regional Grand Warden in the Grand Lodge of India on Janpath Avenue in New Delhi, India. His father’s younger brother GPS Bhalla became Master of Lodge in Madras and inspired Raj and his youngest brother Paul to join. By June 1964, Bhalla had become a Master Mason at the Northern Star Lodge No. 21 in Ferozepur Cantonment, Punjab, just miles from the Indo-Pak border.
Soon after he came to America, Bhalla joined the Paumanok-Port Washington No. 855 Lodge and stayed there from 1976 till 1993, serving as its Worshipful Master in 1982. When he moved to the Sugar Land area in 1995, he joined the Morton Masonic Lodge No. 72 in Richmond and, now a very active 86 years-old, has been a Free Mason for over 50 years. In recognition of Brother Raj’s devoted and outstanding service to Masonic principles, in April 2015, the Worshipful Master, Wayne Switzer of his Lodge presented him with the coveted Golden Trovel Award, the highest honor a Texas lodge can bestow on one of its members, declaring that they “valued him” as a “valuable asset and something of a treasure…. an exceptional example of the Craft.”
A little over two years later, on Tuesday, June 13, when Bhalla was asked to come to his Lodge after an absence of two months, on the pretense of some work, he found a large congregation of parents, friends and other Masons assembled for the scholarship awards by the Lodge to eight high school seniors. Afterwards, Bhalla was puzzled that the Brethren were larger than for a normal meeting and joined them upstairs to the Lodge Hall.
There, he recalled he was asked “to come to the East, the Worshipful Master got down the steps, and the Secretary brought a huge framed something which I couldn’t figure out but when they showed me closely, it was a memento and a copy of a Proclamation of exemplary service. Then the Worshipful Master gave the speech referring to the sword as kirpan and repeatedly said “kirpan” to make sure he was pronouncing it right. Then he traced the history of Kirpan to Guru Gobind Singh and what exactly was meant by a Saint Soldier.”
The Morton Lodge No. 32 Worshipful Master Tom Cassidy presenting the award to Dr. Raj Bhalla
The Lodge officers and other members wore their distinctive Masonic Aprons over their pants and spoke admiringly of the service that Brother Raj had given to the Lodge. Then they presented Bhalla with a shadow box with a kirpan, an antique Masonic plaque, and a suitably engraved dedication which reads: “To our Beloved Brother Rajinder Pal Singh Bhalla. Your dedication to the Craft, your kind heart and your generous spirit will live forever in our hearts.”
Bhalla was taken aback and touched “not by their gesture, but the way they studied the philosophy of our tenth Guru and put that into their thinking for choosing an appropriate memento for me.” It turned out that the Lodge Brethren had unanimously voted, when Bhalla was not present; to pass a proclamation to name the Masonic Lodge Hall, where regular meetings are held, as “Rajinder Bhalla Hall” and a formal naming ceremony will be held later, open to the public and media."
The Handwriting on the Wall
By Tom Hendrickson-P.G.M.
Have you ever heard the old saying “The Handwriting on the wall”? It’s a metaphor we generally use to describe a vague feeling of pending doom or a feeling that something bad is going to happen.
The saying comes from Belshazzar’s Feast which is mentioned in the Royal Arch Degree. It is a story that has many important lessons for all of us to consider. To understand the rest of the story I will explore the source which is in the Old Testament Book of Daniel Chapters Four and Five.
The scene is in Babylon about the Sixth Century before our era (or B.C.) and King Nebuchadnezzar’s Armies had conquered Jerusalem. A sizable portion of the Jewish population of Judah including all the Nobel’s and scholars had been captured and deported back to Babylon. The Temple was sacked of all of its sacred treasures and taken to Babylon as well. Among the stolen plunder were many sacred cups made of gold and silver.
King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his officials to conduct a talent search among the prisoners to find the best and the brightest to learn the local language and literature to serve within the Kings Palace. The most impressive among the group of talented young Jews was Daniel. Daniel had a very special gift as he could interpret the Kings dreams and reveal their mysteries.
In time Daniel became a trusted servant to the King, and Nebuchadnezzar did relinquish his pagan gods and acknowledged Daniel’s God, the God of the people of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar eventually become King and he is a different story all together.
Now before we move on to the main thrust of the story. I highly recommend you go on line and Google a painting by Rembrandt called Belshazzar’s Feast. The painting depicts beautifully the story you are about to read.
Daniel 5 Living Bible (TLB)
5 Belshazzar the king invited a thousand of his officers to a great feast where the wine flowed freely. 2-4 While Belshazzar was drinking, he was reminded of the gold and silver cups taken long before from the Temple in Jerusalem during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and brought to Babylon. Belshazzar ordered that these sacred cups be brought in to the feast, and when they arrived, he and his princes, wives, and concubines drank toasts from them to their idols made of gold and silver, brass and iron, wood and stone.
5 Suddenly, as they were drinking from these cups, they saw the fingers of a man’s hand writing on the plaster of the wall opposite the lampstand. The king himself saw the fingers as they wrote. 6 His face blanched with fear, and such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him.
7 “Bring the magicians and astrologers!” he screamed. “Bring the Chaldeans! Whoever reads that writing on the wall and tells me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor, with a gold chain around his neck, and he will become the third ruler in the kingdom!”[a]
8 But when they came, none of them could understand the writing or tell him what it meant.
9 The king grew more and more hysterical; his face reflected the terror he felt, and his officers too were shaken.
So the Queen-Mother heard the ruckus and ran into the banquet hall and told the King to calm down. She told him to call Daniel for he could interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems and he would know what the writing on the wall means.
So Daniel is summoned and rushes in…..
22 “And you, his successor, O Belshazzar—you knew all this, yet you have not been humble. 23 For you have defied the Lord of Heaven and brought here these cups from his Temple; and you and your officers and wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, brass, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not praised the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! 24-25 And so God sent those fingers to write this message: ‘Mene,’ ‘Mene,’ ‘Tekel,’ ‘Parsin.’
26 “This is what it means:
“Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign, and they are ended.
27 “Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed in God’s balances and have failed the test.
28 “Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was robed in purple, a gold chain was hung around his neck, and he was proclaimed third ruler in the kingdom.
And that very night King Belshazzar was killed, and Babylon was conquered.
Quite a story. If you googled the picture as suggested, the story comes to life within the painting. The morale of the story is clear: remember that our days on this earth are numbered and the time we spend here will be weighed and judged. So, live each day to the fullest, do good works and appreciate every day for it may be your last.
Remember -”The Hand Writing is on the wall”.
From the Salina, Kansas Journal May 2, 2017:
The treasurer for the Salina Masonic Temple Foundation is accused of theft and unlawful computer acts for allegedly embezzling $155,000 from the organization, Salina police Capt. Paul Forrester said.
Timothy Fowler, 38, of Solomon, [KS] became treasurer of the organization in July and allegedly embezzled the money between Aug. 25 and April 10 by writing checks to himself and his business, Solomon City Regalia, Forrester said.
Fowler allegedly made transactions on websites for airlines and hotels and visited adult websites. He also allegedly made transfers from one account to another, Forrester said.
Police were notified after a board member for the Salina Masonic Temple Foundation was told by a First Bank Kansas representative that the foundation's account was overdrawn.
Fowler could face charges of theft of more than $100,000 and unlawful computer acts.
Confessions of a Born Again Fundamentalist, Freemason
By Nelson King, FPS
I confess that I am a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason.
Now before you have a cardiac arrest, or a stroke, let me explain what a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason is. I used to be a very [for want of a better word] liberal Mason. I am now a very Conservative or Traditionalist, Freemason. Therefore, I am Born Again. By Fundamentalist, I mean that I believe that no one has a right to be a Freemason.
I believe those who want to be Freemasons must be good and true men, free born and of a mature and discreet age and sound judgment, no bondsmen, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, only men of good report.
I believe that a man who wants to be a Freemason must believe in the existence of God, and take his Obligation on Volume of The Sacred Law of his choice and that he owes a duty to that God and to his fellow man no matter what their creed, color, or religion.
I believe that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral and civil law.
I believe that a man's religion or mode of worship should not exclude him from the Order of Freemasonry, provided he also believes in the existence of a Supreme Being, and that Supreme Being will punish vice and reward virtue.
I believe that a Freemason is bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience.
I believe that Freemasonry is the center of union between honest men and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.
I believe a Freemason"s Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter this Lodge which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits.
I believe all preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, therefore no Brother should be passed chair to chair, whether it is in a Lodge or a Grand Lodge, just because he knows the right people or has held the previous office for one year, no Grand Master, Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but only for his merit .
I believe that there is nothing wrong with Freemasonry, as laid down for our instruction in our Ancient Charges.
I am a Born Again Fundamentalist, Freemason.
Worcester Magazine: 1/12/17
By Tom Quinn - January 12, 2017
MAKE MASONRY GREAT AGAIN: It seemed a bit odd when At-Large Councilor Mike Gaffney started talking about the Louvre and conspiracy thriller author Dan Brown during a recent City Council meeting. But then Gaffney made a revelation – he is a Freemason. In fact, he held a title at his local Freemason lodge that is apparently of some importance within the secretive group. As someone who only knows of Freemasonry through books like “The Lost Symbol” (yes, I read Dan Brown novels, sue me), I had to do some Wikipedia research to find out exactly what Gaffney’s club affiliation means. It seems mostly harmless, although apparently some people have been spreading conspiracy theories about the club, throwing around terms like “Illuminati” and “New World Order.” Hey, the Democrats have got their “Machine” here in Worcester, it’s about time the Republicans stepped up their cabal game. Gaffney’s story about Freemasons came during the conversation about Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Catholic Diocese’s efforts to either demolish or save it, they haven’t decided yet – read more about that in our news section. Based on the aforementioned Wikipedia research, the Catholic church writes express tickets to Hell for Freemasons, but maybe if Gaffney saves their church they’ll make an exception. Oh, and as a fan of “National Treasure” (yes, I watch Nicholas Cage movies, sue me), I should also mention Worcester’s whole budget problem could be solved if Gaffney just told us where the Founding Fathers hid all that gold!
The following article is reprinted from The Rhode Island FREEMASON Magazine by permission of the author, R:.W:. Brother Richard Lynch, who is also Editor of the Magazine which is published every other month. In addition to his editorial duties, Brother Lynch is Librarian/Curator of the RI Grand Lodge Library and Museum, Chancellor of the Collegivm Luminosvm, (Rhode Island Lodge of Masonic Research), and an active member of several other Masonic Organizations in many of which he has held or presently holds Office. (TEASER ALERT: You will hear more about R:.W:. Brother Lynch in the future.)
The Triple Dot Symbol
For many the three dots have been used as the equivalent of a period used for abbreviations in Masonic writing and literature. The symbol’s origin is from the field of mathematics. In mathematics the non-inverted triangle shape (⸫) symbol is used in mathematical proofs as the therefore sign. This dates back to a Swiss mathematician, Johann Rahn, in his book Teutsche Algebra, published in 1659. The triple dot predates 1717 when the first Grand Lodge in the U.K. was established.
Albert Mackey stated that it is futile to trace the triple dot back to the Hebrew three yods, the Tetragrammaton, or other ancient symbols. For usage of the three dots in Freemasonry Mackey further states: “Frequently among English and always among French authors, a Masonic abbreviation is distinguished by three points, ⸫, in a triangular form following the letter, whose peculiar mark was first used, according to Ragon, on the 12th of August, 1774, by the Grand Orient of France, in an address to subordinates. No authoritative explanation of the meaning of these points has been given, but they may be supposed to refer to the three lights around the altar, or perhaps more generally to the number three, and the triangle, both important symbols in the Masonic system."
From a usage standpoint, the triple dot is placed after letters in a Masonic document, especially formal ones or those using abbreviated Latin, or on a coin, to indicate that such letters are the initials of a Masonic title or of a technical word in Freemasonry, as G⸫M⸫ for Grand Master, G⸫L⸫ for Grand Lodge, W⸫M⸫ for Worshipful Master, and E⸫A⸫ for Entered Apprentice. On an email, you may see a colon followed by a period (:.) or, as noted particularly with European Freemasons, a period followed by a colon (.:). This is far easier on a PC or smart phone than other methods such as changing to a symbols font or, with the use of a numeric pad, adding in 2234, the code for this symbol, on the numeric pad and then pressing Alt+x.
For those who wish to use the proper display of this symbol, in MS Word press “Insert” from your tool bar, then press “symbol” from the toolbar and you will find this and a host of other common symbols such as the (°) for the abbreviation for degree/s.
US Envoy Nominee Branstad Member of Masons, Banned in China
By JOSH FUNK, ASSOCIATED PRESS OMAHA, Neb. — Dec 8, 2016, 2:14 AM ET
In this Feb. 15, 2012 file-pool photo, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raise their glasses at the beginning of a formal dinner in the rotunda at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Branstad, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for U.S. ambassador to China, can boast a 30-year relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, especially amid escalating talk of a trade war with the U.S.’s largest trading partner? (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Andrea Melendez, Pool, File)
If Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to China, he may want to leave any Masonic symbols at home.
That's because the Freemasons group that Branstad belongs to has been banned in mainland China for decades.
Masonic lodges still exist in Taiwan, but not in China. All the other chapters were eliminated after the communist revolution there in 1949.
"Freemasons believe in freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action, and I don't think that's what the communist Chinese government is about," said Tim Anderson, who is deputy grand secretary of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Iowa.
Masonic groups usually run into trouble in Communist countries because of their secret meetings, said Brent Morris, who wrote "The Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry." It doesn't help that Freemasonry was brought to China by the British when they were colonizing the area.
"You've got a dual-edged problem: part of it is the residue of colonialism and part of it is the meeting in private," said Morris, who is a Master Mason himself. He wrote his book partly to debunk conspiracy theories about the group that were highlighted in "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie.
Branstad accepted President-elect Donald Trump's job offer Wednesday, but he'll have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking the post.
The Iowa Lodge said Branstad is listed as a member of a chapter in Des Moines. His spokesman Ben Hammes declined to discuss Branstad's membership in the Masons.
Branstad accepted the position days after Trump caused a diplomatic stir by speaking to Taiwan's president on the phone.
Taiwan split from China in 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory and would consider it unacceptable for the U.S. to recognize Taiwan's leader as a head of state.
Branstad isn't new to China. He has led several trade missions there during his six terms as Iowa governor, and he has a relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that began during a 1985 diplomatic trip Xi took to Iowa.
Xi returned to Iowa in February 2012 for stops in Muscatine and the Des Moines area.
Branstad, 70, is finishing up his 22nd year at the helm of Iowa government and is the nation's longest-serving governor.
Don't expect other Masons to discuss Branstad's appointment at their next meeting because politics and religion are divisive topics that aren't supposed to be discussed, said Simon LaPlace, executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America.
Masonic groups focus on helping members improve themselves, and many chapters also undertake community service projects. Women are not allowed to join although they are permitted to join affiliated groups. LaPlace said each chapter and state organization varies.
"Masonry flourishes in those countries where freedom and individual rights are permitted," LaPlace said. "That's why in a lot of totalitarian countries, masonry (sic) is not permitted."
ALABAMA FREE & ACCEPTED MASONS BREAK COLOR CODE
OFFICIAL FOUNDING DATE (1717) OF OUR FRATERNITY CALLED INTO QUESTION!
Scholarly paper sheds new light on Grand Lodge of England beginnings
Courtesy of Brother J. Paul Gomez
When is a man a Mason?
When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage which is the root of every virtue.
When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellow man.
When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.
When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.
When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.
When star-crowned trees and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.
When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.
When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be.
When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin.
When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope.
When he has kept faith with himself with his fellow man, and with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song -- glad to live, but not afraid to die!
Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.
~ Brother Joseph Fort Newton
THE PROFOUND SILENCE of a tiled Lodge during ceremonies such as the initiation of a candidate can be deeply impressive, and naturally induces solemn reflections upon the essential meaning of the work. The Masonic philosopher W.L. Wilmshurst held that an ideal Lodge, when properly tiled and duly opened,
'...would be a sanctuary of silence and contemplation, broken only by ceremonial utterances or such words of competent and luminous instruction as the Master or Past Masters are moved to extend. And the higher the degree in which it is opened, the deeper and more solemn would be the sense of excluding all temporal thoughts and interests and of approaching more nearly that veiled central Light whose opening into activity in our hearts we profess to be our predominant wish. In such circumstances each Lodge meeting would become an occasion of profound spiritual experience. No member would wish to disturb the harmony of such a Lodge by talk or alien thought.' (The Masonic Initiation, 1924)
MWB Drew Lane, right, presents the Vulcan Lodge No. 299 Traveling Gavel to WM Tony Wilson. See story below.
(Photos courtesy of Bro. Sammy Graham)
Excerpts from an email received from WB Don Wheeler, Secretary, Vulcan Lodge No. 229, Walnut, KS.:
Vulcan Lodge #229 is located in Walnut, Kansas USA (population about 200) and we have 28 members. Half of the Lodge is my family. Both of my grandfathers (deceased) were Past Masters. My father, one of my two brothers, and myself are PM. The current Master is my 30 year old nephew. My youngest son is in basic training and was raised two days before he left for boot camp (took his second in England). My parents have six great grandsons that are 7 years old and under so in 11 years we will be very busy (in Kansas you can petition at 18).
As every story has a beginning, middle, and end; here is some information/history on the beginning of the Vulcan Traveling Gavel:
Ours began one evening in 2005 when our secretary (my father) read a letter that he had received thru the Grand Lodge of Kansas by way of the United Grand Lodge of England from four lodges in England. These four lodges and ours are all named Vulcan Lodge. The letter stated that these four Lodges in England meet every two years for a Joint Vulcan meeting. They then invited us to come participate however no brother from our Lodge was able to go. Therefore we decided to send a gavel. The gavel was crafted from a wood grown locally that is used for fence posts. Osage Orange or “Hedge” will not rot when set into the ground and will last for 40 to 50 years. We sent the gavel and it was used at the meeting in London, England. After the meeting they took the gavel to the other three Vulcan Lodges in England. It was then mailed back to us. At this time we found out that there are two other Vulcan Lodges, one in Bristow, Iowa USA and one in Vulcan, Alberta Canada. We sent the gavel to both and when it came back to us we then took it to the annual communication of the Grand Lodge in Kansas.
After that we decided that this should be a “traveling gavel”. However the problem with traveling gavels are that they quit traveling. All of the traveling gavels that we knew of required Lodges to “go get them” with a certain number of officers and brethren. After a while these get put in the back room somewhere because no one will go get them. Plus small Lodges (like us) never go after them because of the number of members requirement. Therefore we made the “rules” of our gavel different. You do not go get it, it is brought to you. After you are presented with it, you have ten days to pass it on to a Lodge that has not had it. Should you hold it beyond ten days, we request that you send $100 to the Kansas Masonic Foundation for Cancer Research. So far the gavel has raised $1,300 for this cause.
The gavel is now in its tenth year and so far it has been to England, Australia, Canada, Afghanistan, the US, and been taken a Caribbean cruise. Where it will go next is up to the Master and brethren that receive it.
Since the last e-mail the gavel was presented to Grand Master MWB Barry Weer by RWB Ron Asche in at the Annual Communication in Springfield Illinois. It was then used to open the 176th Grand Lodge Annual Communication on October 9, 2015. It was then passed to the new Grand Master, MWB Anthony Cracco. Brother Ron Asche then carried it to Solomon Lodge # 1 in Savannah, GA (872 miles). Solomon Lodge # 1, Savannah is the oldest continuous Lodge in the continental U.S. He presented it to them on Thursday October 15th, 2015. The brothern at Solomon #1 plan on carrying it the the Annual Communication of Georgia in a couple of weeks.
As to the middle of this story, I cannot tell you about this yet because that means that there will be an end to the traveling gavel. Hopefully the middle is written as: "one evening when my great great grandfather was Lodge secretary a letter was read in my Lodge". As to the end of the story... well Masonry will never end.
THE MISTS OF ANTIQUITY
By Bro. W. J. (Jack) Collett, P.G.M., The Grand Lodge of Alberta, AF&AM
When we talk about the origins of Freemasonry we frequently say that they are buried in the "mists of antiquity." This means that the beginnings of the Craft are not easily definable. For some students of Masonic history the "mists of antiquity" lie in the history of Freemasonry previous to the origin of the four Speculative Lodges that operated in London, England, and ultimately came together to form the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. This means a study of the great manuscripts that record the "Charges of Freemasonry", such as the "Halliwell Manuscript", also known as the "Regius Poem", which dates at approximately 1380 A.D., and the "Cooke Manuscript" which comes from about 1450. For others it means an attempt to trace the origins of the Craft back to the building of King Solomon's Temple at about 975 B.C. This is because our ritual and the Hiramic Legend are so closely connected with the events of the reign of King Solomon. It is doubtful that the moral teachings or, indeed, any of our ritual came from that period. Bailey and Kent, the authors of a standard textbook called The History of the Hebrew Commonwealth, make the startling comment that "If there was anything done in Solomon's reign to strengthen the people in material or intellectual ways, if there was any endeavour to purify religion or elevate morals, we do not know of it. No heroic or noble act is recorded of anyone while Solomon was on the throne." Of Solomon the scholars say, "The empire was his slave, and the sole end of its toil was his pleasure. No country can long stand such a strain." These words are true historically. After the reign of King Solomon the empire that King David had built disintegrated, and the years that followed were filled with chaos.
Masons, quite naturally, recoil from the verdict of such scholarship. The words strike at the very roots of some teachings that we hold dear. Did not the Legend of Hiram Abif come out of King Solomon's reign? Did not Solomon mourn for the loss of his architect and order that he be decently interred? Were not the villains in the Legend given their just deserts? Of all these things we have no real evidence in the Old Testament. It is true that in the First Book of Kings, Chapter VII, and in the Second Book of Chronicles, Chapter II there are very brief references to Hiram. However, there are no real details. The legend that grew up around him dates from the early 1700's. The first real evidence that any Lodge used a dramatized version of the Hiramic Legend puts the date as late as 1722. Thus it is that some of the Masonic traditions that are dearest to the hearts of Masons are "buried in the mists of antiquity."
From whence then came the moral and spiritual teachings of Freemasonry? From whence came many of the mystic rites that we now perform?
In order to understand some of these difficult questions we must first of all remind ourselves that Christianity and Freemasonry were from the earliest times-closely bound together. Our forebears, the operative masons, were men who built the majestic cathedrals of Europe to honour Jesus of Nazareth, who was of humble origin and who, most certainly, would not feel at home in some of the beautiful edifices erected in his honour. Indeed, many of the intricate ceremonies conducted in those cathedrals would be completely foreign to him. Let us remember that his public ministry lasted but three short years, and all he left behind him were eleven followers who had to meet in secret, because they feared the wrath of both the people and the governments. Later came an elaborate system called the Christian Church, complete with numerous ceremonies and mystic rites. With that development Freemasonry was closely linked in spite of the fact that today we claim it to be a Universal Science with no special religious ties. The latter claim is quite true, for Freemasonry as well as Christianity attracted to itself many practices other than those of the Hebrew Religion. There existed both in the Greek and Roman cultures certain practices known as the Mystery Religions. These were not confined to Greece and Rome. Evidence of them may be found in the early cultures of China, India, Egypt, and other ancient civilizations. They were secret religious assemblies with special initiation rites, and most certainly were present in the time of Jesus. Undoubtedly they had an influence on the growth of the ceremonies of early Christianity. In fact, the Apostle Paul in some of his letters found it necessary to protest against the intrusion of pagan practices into the Christian Church. In one instance he warned the new Christian converts that they must not drink to excess at the Lord's Supper. At another point he emphasized that he did not participate in the growing practice of baptism. Despite the warnings some of the customs of the Mystery Religions became an integral part of Christian Ritual. One only needs to examine some of the mysticism surrounding the festivals of Christmas and Easter to understand the syncretism that occurred and has been Lost as the centuries have passed. We should remind ourselves again that the Roman Catholic Church, with its elaborate ceremonies, was once the main support of Freemasonry and the ceremonies connected with that order. All of the ceremonies of the Christian Church and of Freemasonry contain overtones of the ancient Mystery Religions.
The Mystery Religions were very selective in their membership. No uninitiated person was permitted to take part in the ceremonies. Note the relationship here with the Christian Holy Communion, and also with the practices of Freemasonry. The Mystery Religions appear to have had a double purpose. First, they wished to hand down, from generation to generation, the traditions associated with the gods in whose honour they were organized. Secondly, they taught very carefully how certain rituals were to be performed, and then trained their initiates to carry out those rituals exactly. Under no circumstances were there to be variations from the ancient traditions, even in the words of the rituals. The prime purpose of the Mystery Religions was not to teach dogmatic religious beliefs; it was to strive for the moral improvement of their membership. The rituals were designed not only to improve the morals of the adherents, but also to implant in their membership a hope for the life that would go on after death.
The first remarkable resemblance between the Mysteries and Freemasonry is that membership rested on the voluntary choice of the individual. No one was ever invited to belong to a mystery religion. The individual had to volunteer to become a member. If the individual indicated his desire and if he were accepted, then he had to submit himself to the Initiation Rites. These rites were designed to provide for the candidate an emotional experience that would tie him forever to his religion. When that was done he was accepted into a fellowship, designed to give him support as he became more and more absorbed into a community of regenerated individuals.
The ultimate goal of the Mystery Religions was to establish a relationship between the individual and the gods. It was supposed to be an intimate and personal type of communication, that would bring to the individual the particular help he needed to live the type of life expected of him as a member of the religion. For the Mysteries the initiation rites sought to bring the individual, no matter what his age, a sense of being born again and, as he grew in knowledge, to admit him to a sense of maturity that he did not possess before. After he was initiated and as he was transformed from childhood to maturity, he was expected to share in the social duties of the religion. The social and moral issues that faced the particular nation became his responsibility.
One of the most important aspects of the Mystery Religions was the program of instruction for the Initiates. Each new member was required to take time to go through a course of instruction. He was taught how he should act in the ceremonies of the group, and what he should do in his relationships with his fellow members and his community. He was encouraged to think in terms of the philosophy of the religion and the means of transferring the thought into action.
There are many things about the Mystery Religions that are not known. The reason is that the religions had an inviolable rule that all Initiation Rites and instruction were transmitted by word of mouth. It was forbidden that anything be written. Thus the customs and traditions were handed on orally from individual to individual and from group to group. We have never been able to discover, for instance, what exactly happened in the Ceremony of Initiation. On the other hand it is known that the total effect of a Mystery Religion was to weld a chain of continuity that lasted through the ages. The system disappeared with the growth of the Christian Religion, and the collapse of the Roman culture in the early years of this era. When Rome was overrun by the barbarians of Europe in the First Century A.D., the Mystery Religions, as such, disappeared, although remnants of heir practices survived.
The Mystery Religions were always connected with a god. The ancient peoples generally worshiped many gods, but from that variety of divinities a Mystery Religion adopted one that it worshiped and to which it paid special loyalty. They customarily selected a god that had something to do with fertility and growth. Hence, some of them became associated with fertility rites, and out of that some practices grew up that put some of the religions into disrepute. There were cults that developed systems of male prostitution and homosexual acts. From such things arose an aura of suspicion over the secret meetings of the mysteries, and questions were raised constantly about what actually went on in the initiation rites. It is safe to assume that the majority of the mysteries sincerely sought to raise the moral life of their membership, and the abuses of secrecy were minor. The ancient people lived continually on the edge of starvation. They were not knowledgeable enough of the world to understand the inevitable change of seasons, and were often surprised when the long period of winter arrived and nothing grew. Of course, they frequently did not have the expertise to store food for the time when the land did not produce. Even greater than their distress over the winter season was their awe and surprise when spring arrived, and the world appeared to be born again, with new growth and an abundance of food. In their minds, however, there was no certainty that spring would follow winter and that harvest would follow the spring. This routine always, in their minds, was subject to the whim of the gods. If the gods were pleased, then growth would follow. If the gods were angry, then famine would occur. It was essential for them to find ways of keeping the gods in good humor, and thus to assure the return of the spring. Many of the rituals connected with the Ancient Religions were directed towards the pleasing of the gods. Even in the Old Testament we read that the smoke from the sacrifices in the temple was pleasing to God and he rewarded his people.
Because the ancient peoples were so concerned about survival and the assuring of the regular succession of seasons, their great legends had to do with their great concerns. It came about, too, that the contents of the Mystery Religions were mainly communicated by means of legends. In the legends the Earth is usually thought of as the great Goddess of Fertility, This goddess grew old and feeble as the autumn season approached and was continually in danger of death. If the Goddess of Fertility died, that would mean that the primitive man would suffer from hunger and, perhaps, starvation. The idea of the Goddess of Fertility dying filled the early peoples with terror. Therefore, it was essential that a magical rite be performed that would assist the Goddess of Fertility to survive the dangerous period of winter. Through this magical rite the goddess, in danger of dying and making the earth barren, would be brought to life again and once more possess a young and vigorous body. The result would be that fertility would be restored to the earth and people would be able to eat once more.
The Adonis Myth very likely originated in Babylon but it is best known in its Greek version. Adonis was the vigorous and youthful lover of the great Mother Goddess. Her name was Ishtar and she embodied all the reproductive possibilities and energies of nature. If Adonis died, Ishtar was without a lover, and she would not be fertilized and consequently would fail to reproduce. Each year Adonis, the vigorous lover, would die and pass into the world of the shadows. Each year after his death Ishtar desired to be fertilized and she would seek unceasingly to find her lost lover, for without Adonis the period of reproduction would cease. The situation was so desperate that messengers would be sent to the Queen of the Underworld, pleading for the return of Adonis to the bed of Ishtar. In the meantime Ishtar herself, barren and cold, would go to the underworld to seek for her lover. She passed through the seven gates of the underworld and each time she had to pay a fee, which was one of her garments. Finally, naked and alone, the Great Mother Goddess would appear before the Queen of the Underworld. The Queen would refuse to release Adonis until the messengers of the gods arrived, to sprinkle the Water of Life on both Adonis and Ishtar. When this was done they were raised from the tomb of death to the upper world. When the raising was complete the wonderful world of nature was revived and hope reborn for the fertility of the world.
This legend is significant because it embodies several facets of the Christian Religion. The sprinkling of water, the descent of the hope of the world into the realms of darkness, the revival of life and hope for the world. It also has within it elements of the legend of Hiram Abif. The lost hero, the search for the lost heroine, and the raising from darkness into the newness of life.
Another legend has in it Adonis, a beautiful child, whom Aphrodite deeply loves. In order not to be deprived of the love of Adonis, Aphrodite conceals Adonis in a chest, and leaves the chest in charge of Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Persephone looks in the chest and sees the beautiful youngster.
She immediately falls in love with him and refuses to return the chest to Aphrodite. To recover the lost love Aphrodite herself descends into the realms of darkness in a desperate effort to recover the lost child. The dispute between Aphrodite and Persephone rages, so that the whole of the underworld is in disarray. At length the god Zeus is forced to intervene. He rules that the child must remain for half of the year with Aphrodite, and with Persephone the other half. During the part of the year that Adonis is with Aphrodite the world is warm and it is a period of reproduction, growth, and plenty. When Adonis is with Persephone the world is cold, lacking in growth, and unproductive. When the time comes for Adonis to live with the Queen of the Underworld he is lowered into her presence with great sorrow and lamentations. When the vital words are spoken and the time has come to restore Adonis to Aphrodite, the child is raised very carefully from the darkness into the light. This is a time of great joy, feasting and rejoicing.
The ancient legends of the raising of an individual from darkness into life are many. The details of the event are varied. The main outline remains throughout them all. Involved are fertility and growth, the discovery of some secret means to do the raising, then the change from death to resurrection. Basically the legends all contain the same story. A god dies and the earth becomes unproductive. The god is restored to life and the earth becomes fertile and productive. Each Mystery Religion in every early culture had its legends, illustrated by accompanying rites and ceremonies. Only those who have been properly initiated know the particular legend. Those who are permitted to perform the rite of resurrection are the ones who have been taught carefully and are skilful in performing the required ceremonies, that will ensure the resurrection of the god. Connected with the ceremonies are certain signs and symbols. These are revealed to the new initiates when they have received sufficient instruction to appreciate the essential essence of the purpose of the religion into which they have been received after requesting membership.
Osiris was the son of the earth god Seb and of the sky goddess Nut. He had two brothers, Horus, the elder, and Set. There were also two sisters, Isis and Metphthys. Notice that the family comprised a total of seven, and that there are five children including three boys. Osiris taught the Egyptians how to grow corn. Set, the god of evil, was jealous of the popularity of Osiris. He conspired with 72 villains to murder him. They made a chest and persuaded Osiris to get into it. When Osiris got into the chest they nailed it down securely, and flung it into the River Nile. Osiris was discovered to be missing, and there was great concern over the fact that the great teacher had been lost. Isis, on hearing the news, was greatly distressed. She had her hair cut and put on clothes of mourning. Then she set out in search of the body. In the meantime the chest had floated down the Nile to the town of Byblos, in Syria, and there it became stranded on the sand. An Erica tree grew up over the chest and completely enclosed it in its trunk. The King of Syria decided that the tree should be cut down and that it would be used to form a great pillar in his palace. Isis arrived in Syria and went to the King's Palace. She begged for the pillar and her pleas were heard. She cut it open, found the chest and within it the body of Osiris. Isis threw herself on the body and brought it back to life. Osiris was raised from the chest in a great ceremony. The 72 villains were discovered and put to death. Osiris, having been raised from darkness to renewed his vows to serve his people. He returned to Egypt and continued to teach his people how to make their soil fertile, how to produce crops of corn and how to feed the people.
Space will not permit to relate more of the fascinating legends that have been preserved out of the "mists of antiquity," yet it is hoped that the Masonic reader recognizes the similarities between them and the Legend of Hiram Abif. Certainly the legend does not come from the Old Testament. The story in the Old Testament tells of Hiram, King of Tyre, sending another Hiram, the son of a widow, to help Solomon build a temple (II Chronicles 2:13 and I Kings 7:13). If the story is read carefully it can be seen that Hiram, the widow's son, was not so much the architect as he was a skilled worker in brass, stone and purple. Chronicles says that Hiram's mother was "of the daughters of Dan" while his father was a man of Tyre. Tyre, by the way, was one of the great centers of the cult of Adonis. Beyond these scanty facts the Old Testament tells us nothing. There is no record of the murder of Hiram, not even any indication that he died. It is evident that he had dropped out of the picture by the time that the temple was dedicated.
As stated at the beginning we do not know where the Legend of Hiram originated, but we do know that it did not become current until the eighteenth century. In this the legend does not differ very much from the lack of knowledge as to the origin of much of our ritual. It is feasible to speculate that it was written by some scholar who had steeped himself in the legends of the Mystery Religions. Certainly all the ingredients are there; the murder of a productive god, the disposal of the body by the powers of darkness, the discovery of the body by the powers of light, the raising of the body from darkness to light, and the return to productive living. In addition there are the accompanying signs and symbols, which are kept secret. There is also the dedicated journey of those who sought for the body and the ultimate discovery of it, and the punishment of those who sought for the hero's death and the honour bestowed upon the person who was raised.
We are attempting in this paper to discover origins, but we must also note that the Legend of Hiram has been carefully refined and adapted to the lessons that the science of Freemasonry teaches; to wit:
1. Hiram, in the Masonic Legend, is not restored to life as are the gods of the Mystery Religions. The Christian Religion follows the Mystery Religions to this conclusion. To have life restored in the Masonic Ritual would introduce a strange and jarring note. The writer of the Hiramic Legend appropriately ends it with having the remains properly interred. However, the signs and symbols remain. They are transferred to the candidate, who is urged to remember the noble example of a man who would rather suffer death than betray a sacred trust that had been vested in him at his initiation and throughout the instruction that he received after his voluntary entry into the order.
2. The raising of Hiram in the Legend symbolizes the entrance of the human soul into a new and better stage of experience. It points out that it is the duty of all men to prepare themselves for a new life, by following the glorious example of dedication and perfection. it should be noted that an element of resurrection remains. Although the bones are interred, the new life, the resurrected one, is transferred to the candidate. What more meaningful idea of the resurrection can there be than that the goodness of the person who has died lives on in those for whom he lived?
3. The Hiramic Legend in Freemasonry does not have the magical elements that are common to the legends of the Mystery Religions. In one of the versions of the Osiris Legend, Isis, a virgin, throws herself on the dead body of Osiris and immediately becomes pregnant, and later is the virgin mother of the god Horus. The reason for raising the body was so that it might be interred in consecrated ground. Certain signs are learned by those who raise the body, but they are not the genuine secrets. Those have yet to be discovered. The quest does not end with the raising of the body. The search must go on, for the purpose is the unending search for eternal truth. It is only by constant struggle to attain the elusive truth that we can live the life triumphant. This version comes as close as we can get in the ancient legends to the teaching of the Hiramic Legend, namely that the search for the missing word must go on into eternity.
4. The Hiramic Legend does not end in crass materialism as do most of the mysteries. The conclusions of the Legends of the Mysteries indicate that the ancient peoples, because of their exploits, assure themselves of material gain, such as the return of food after the winter barrenness. The lesson we learn in Freemasonry is that there is another way of living that is far higher than the material one. It is the world of brotherhood and service in this present life. After that, when this transient existence is ended, we may find a happier and more abundant life. Until the time of transition arrives from the present to the eternal future, we must be faithful to our obligations and to our duties. We must learn to live at peace within the mysteries that constantly surround us. It is impossible to assert with any certainty exactly where the Legend of Hiram Abif originated, or to find any documented account of its direct relationship to the Mystery Religions of the ancient cultures. It is possible for us to say that the Hiramic Legend and all the ancient legends form a part of humanity's great quest for the meaning of life and death. That originated with man as he became a conscious and thinking being, and will not end until man vanishes from the face of this earth, either because of his own foolishness or because of his disappearance in the process of evolution. The legend is a part of the ongoing stream of human thought.
To take a speculative journey through the Mystery Religions, for this author, enhances the Legend of Hiram Abif and greatly enriches its meaning. No longer is Hiram only a man of honour who is willing to sacrifice his life rather than betray a sacred trust. He stood for something far greater. He became a part of humanity, reaching out to an unknown power seeking for some assurance of permanency and love. Man has frequently fallen into the error of thinking that if he could make corn grow, if he could amass corn, so that he had to pull down the small granaries and build larger ones, he would have attained something that could not be destroyed, namely wealth and power. The legends, especially the Hiramic one, say something more. They say there is more to life than material wealth and strength.
A long succession of prophets, priests and kings, including Hiram Abif, have been sacrificed on the altar of crass materialism. Even in death these men have not been silenced, but have lived on in the lives of those who seek the truth embedded within the legends. There is a life beyond and that is the life of the spirit. It is the life of the spirit that holds the true secrets, and they rest only in the thoughts of the Master Mason of all Mankind.
Hiram was not the first builder to be slain nor was he the last. Today the eternal temple will not be built by men who seek for advantages of their own, but it will be built with devotion, sacrifice, death, and resurrection.
Bailey, A. E. and C. F. Kent, History of the Hebrew Commonwealth, Chicago: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1920
Bergson, Henri, Morality and Religion, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1935
Fein, Vergilius, Living Schools of Religion, Ames, Iowa: Littlefield, Adams and Company, 1958
Fowler, H. T., A History of the Literature of Ancient Israel, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912
Frazier, Sir James G., The Golden Bough, London: MacMillan and Co. Ltd., 1924
Hamilton, Edith, Mythology, New York; New American Company, 1969
Jones, Bernard E., Freemason's Guide and Compendium, London: George G. Harrap & Company, 1950
Marks, M. and M. Rosenbaum, "Hiram Abif", The New South Wales Freemason, April 1971
Pick, F. L. and G. N. Knight, The Pocket History of Freemasonry, London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1956
Robinson, C. C., The History of Greece, London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1932
Zimmerman, Alfred, The Greek Commonwealth, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
Mackey, A. G. and W. R. Singleton, The History of Freemasonry, Masonic History Co., 1906 (seven volumes)
Local Businesses Help Rebuild Fire-Ravaged Historic Building in Douglasville, GA
WHITESBURG, GA (PRWEB) NOVEMBER 25, 2015
When tragedy struck the Flint Hill Freemason’s Lodge in August of 2014 the community banded together to rebuild this 130 year old piece of history. Among the generous local businesses and individuals contributing to the efforts were NG Turf, Ben Hill Roofing, Tippens Gutters, Moody Heating and Air, King of Pop Nurseries, Groundscapes, Albertson Construction, Jourdan Technologies (security), Sheffield Electric (wiring and lighting), Robert Clemente (sound system), and Will Hester (carpentry).
“What happened here was a tragedy,” comments Aaron McWhorter, president of NG Turf. “We are honored to have been able to be part of the reconstruction efforts.”
“We will be moving into our new building in about a week,” says lodge member Brian Albertson. “That simply wouldn’t be possible without the generous outpouring of support from our community. The arson fire devastated the building – it was a total loss. But what we found even more distressing was losing many historical documents, artifacts, and irreplaceable photos, some dating back to our founding in 1892.”
To honor the historic significance of the location, the members of Flint Hill Lodge have named their building McWhorter Freemason’s Hall. “The original building, which we once shared with New Covenant United Methodist Church, was the last standing edifice of McWhorter, Georgia,” explains Albertson. “We wanted to do all we could to preserve this important piece of local history.”
The middle of the night arson attack on August 29, 2014 was not the first time vandals took aim at the Flint Hill Masonic Lodge. Just weeks before the fire, someone threw rocks through the windows. Shortly before that, vandals broke in and stole the Holy Bible and Masonic furnishings.
“Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me,” says lodge member Ross Laver. “We are a peaceful group of people dedicated to helping others in need.”
Nationally, the Freemasons are well known for their support of widows, children, and the poor. The Freemasons helped found the Scottish Rite Children’s hospital in Decatur, Georgia, in 1915 to provide care to poor crippled children. Scottish Rite, now a part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, is a world-renowned medical facility still supported by Freemasons.
As part of a state-wide Freemason sponsored event, the members of the Flint Hill Masonic Lodge provide thousands of free state-of-the-art child identity kits every year to help families safely store vital information and DNA samples should their child ever go missing. They also support the Masonic Home of Georgia – a safe place for children from broken homes offering financial and educational opportunities, including a free college education.
The members of the Flint Hill Freemasons Lodge will be celebrating their grand reopening of McWhorter Hall on December 19th at 4:30 pm. The public is invited to join in the festivities as new officers are installed and awards are given.
Masonic Folk Art
SEVEN BLUNDERS OF THE MASONIC WORLD
Ritual without Meaning
Fellowship without Frivolity
Quantity without Quality
Education without Philosophy
Charity without Connection
Frugality without Discretion
Leadership without Competence
Ritual Without Meaning
Too many times, we are more concerned about performing the ritual perfectly without understanding what it means. I know many men that give great lectures, but will confide that they don’t even know what something means. Ritual for the sake of tradition is worthless. Ritual for the sake of enlightenment is valuable. An understanding of the ritual’s meaning is far more important than just memorizing it.
Fellowship without Frivolity
Whenever Masons decide to hold a function for fellowship, a discussion typically ensues about how to make the function have the smallest impact on the lodge’s coffers and the wallets of the members. This results in paper plates, meager meals, and boring events. To spend money wisely in order to make fellowship a grand time is wise for the lodge that wants to be successful.
Quantity without Quality
A lodge with seven great men that believe in the Masonic ideals and actively labor to improve themselves—and therefore the lodge—is far better off than a lodge with one hundred men that show up to lodge just to show up to lodge.
Education without Philosophy
Many times, we think of Masonic education as being a lesson on the local lodge’s history, a famous Mason, the history of the world wide fraternity, or how to do the ritual properly. But if no philosophy is covered in Masonic education, then little self improvement is accomplished. Discussing Masonic lessons in terms of philosophy, ideas, and a man’s conduct is what truly transforms men into Masons. It is important to discuss topics that are foreign to a lodge’s membership and it is sometimes even necessary to challenge our preconceived ideologies through Masonic education.
Charity without Connection
Big institutional charities often require that fund raisers be conducted and large checks written to the people that actually perform the charity. This type of charity is devoid of self improvement because it has no real connection. If we extend our hands to our needed Brethren and devote our own skills and time to their problems, then we are engaging in true, meaningful charity.
Frugality without Discretion
Frugality is not a tenet of Freemasonry, a cardinal virtue, or a Landmark. It is okay for the lodge to spend its funds on worthwhile activities that will enhance the Masonic experience of its Brethren. Not everything should be done in the cheapest way, a habit to which we have become accustomed.
Leadership without Competence
A man does not deserve to be Master of the lodge solely because he has spent a certain amount of years in the lodge. We elect leaders without any regard for the skills that they possess to function in that capacity. Only competent, qualified men should be elected to preside over the Craft.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences
Every Fellowcraft Mason learns of the importance of the liberal arts and sciences,
of which he is instructed there are seven;
namely, Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music
and Astronomy. Unfortunately few Freemasons today take this
instruction with any degree of seriousness and make no further
effort to examine the nature of these arts. Like much of Freemasonry,
the liberal arts and sciences come to us from the Medieval
period, when they were believed to be the sum total of all
knowledge that was worthwhile to a complete education. They
were known as "artes liberales" from the Latin "liber" meaning
Free. In this sense they were the subjects available to free men
and were a contrast from the "artes illiberales", which were
taught for purely economic reasons that a man may earn a living.
These arts were the operative arts of the workmen and were
considered less desirable educational pursuits. While we have
adopted the seven liberal arts and sciences from the Medieval
era, they were known in the Pythagorean and Platonic eras. The
seven liberal arts and sciences were broken into two groups.
One concerning language and the other concerning mathematics.
The first was the "Trivium" or road of three paths and included
grammar, rhetoric and logic. Grammar is that portion of
language that allows us to fine tune our speech like the ashlars
and remove all barbarous expressions. Rhetoric is the art,
which allows us to persuade and have an effect upon the listener.
The last and perhaps most important art of the Trivium is
logic, which permits us the gift of reasoning. In a purely Masonic
sense it allows us to understand our duties to God and towards
each other. The second was the "Quadrivium" or path of
four roads and included arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.
Arithmetic is the process by which we are able to calculate
all weights and measures, but in a speculative and philosophical
sense can be best summed up by the following quotation:
"For the Freemason, the application of this science is that
he is continually to add to his knowledge, never to subtract
anything from the character of his neighbor, to multiply his benevolence
to his fellow-creatures, and to divide his means with
those in need. Geometry is so fundamentally a part of Freemasonry
as to almost require no explanation, suffice to say it is the
science upon which our very fraternity is founded. It allows us
to create right angled triangles, the symbol of our uprightness
and square actions towards God, one another and our fellow
creatures. Music is a mystery to the Freemason and a mystery
as to its connection to mathematics, but as anyone, who practices
this art, the connection is apparent. Our ancient brother
Pythagoras was perhaps the first to notice the mathematical
correlation between music and numbers. Astronomy is that art
by which we can trace the great symmetry of the hand of the
deity throughout the heavens. Many of our symbols, the sun,
the moon the stars are borrowed from the science of astronomy.
While to our ancient brethren aimed at a blending of all
knowledge, the modern freemason can apply to the seven liberal
arts and sciences a special and appropriate metaphor for a
life of self-improvement and mental growth. This goal is symbolized
in our lodges by the rough and perfect ashlars and by the
Masonic agenda of taking a good man and making him better.
Bob E. Nelson Jr.,
Twin Falls Lodge No. 45
Twin Falls, Idaho
Feds designate Washington Masonic Memorial as landmark
By The Associated Press August 4, 2015 2:15 pm
This undated handout provided by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association shows the memorial in Alexandria, Va...
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is now a national historic landmark.
The National Park Service announced Tuesday that the Masonic memorial and three other sites across the country are being added to the list of historic landmarks.
The Freemasons built and maintain the memorial as a commemoration of the first U.S. president, who was also the first master of the fraternal group’s Alexandria lodge.
The 330-foot memorial was dedicated in 1932. The park service says the building, on an Alexandria hilltop, blends neoclassical and skyscraper design.
More than 2,500 sites are on the list of national historic landmarks. The park service typically adds five to 10 new sites to the list annually.
Park Service spokeswoman Victoria Stauffenberg said the designation flows primarily from the building’s architectural significance. It gives the memorial the opportunity to apply for preservation grants and the opportunity to consult with Park Service preservationists.
Shawn Eyer, a spokesman for the memorial, said the Masons are already engaged in preservation efforts. “We know it’s an important building and are committed to restoring it where needed.”
Eyer said the building is open to the public for tours and contains numerous artifacts and exhibits explaining Washington’s connection to the Masons.
“And the view from the top is not to be missed,” he said.
Memorial officials sought the designation several years ago. Several Alexandria-based lodges continue to use the building for regular meetings, including the lodge to which Washington belonged.
THE PAWNBROKER TALE AND FREEMASONS
A young man passed a pawnbroker's shop. The money lender was standing in front of his shop, and the young man noted that he was wearing a large and beautiful Masonic emblem. After going on a whole block, apparently lost in thought, the young man turned back, stepped up to the pawnbroker, and addressed him: "I see you're wearing a Masonic emblem. I'm a Freemason too. It happens that I'm desperately in need of $25 just now. I shall be able to repay it within ten days. You don't know me; but I wonder whether the fact that you are a Freemason and that I am a Freemason is sufficient to induce you to lend me the money on my personal note."
The pawnbroker mentally appraised the young man, who was clean-cut, neat and well-dressed. After a moments thought, he agreed to make the loan on the strength of the young man being a Freemason.
Within a few days the young man repaid the loan as agreed and that ended the transaction.
About four months later the young man was in a Lodge receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree; he had not really been a Mason when he borrowed the $25. After he had been admitted for the second section of the degree, the young man looked across the Lodge room and saw the pawnbroker from whom he had borrowed the $25. His face turned crimson and he became nervous and jittery. He wondered whether he had been recognized by the pawnbroker. Apparently not, so he planned at the first opportunity to leave the Lodge room and avoid his benefactor. As soon as the Lodge was closed he moved quickly for the door, but the pawnbroker had recognized the young man, headed him off and, to the young man's astonishment, approached him and greeted him with a smile and outstretched hand. "Well, I see you weren't a Freemason after all when you borrowed that $25," the pawnbroker commented. The blood rushed to the young man's face as he stammered, "No, I wasn't, but I wish you'd let me explain. I had always heard that Freemasons were charitable and ready to aid a Brother in distress. When I passed your shop that day I didn't need that $25. I had plenty of money in my wallet, but when I saw the Masonic emblem you were wearing, I decided to find out whether the things I'd heard about Freemasonry were true. You let me have the money on the strength of my being a Freemason, so I concluded that what I had heard about Masons was true, that they are charitable, that they do aid Brethren in distress. That made such a deep impression on me that I presented my petition to this Lodge and here I am. I trust that with this explanation you will forgive me for having lied to you."
The pawnbroker responded, "Don't let that worry you too much. I wasn't a Freemason when I let you have the money. I had no business wearing the Masonic emblem you saw. Another man had just borrowed some money on it, and it was so pretty that I put it on my lapel for a few minutes. I took it off the moment you left. I didn't want anyone else borrowing money on the strength of my being a Freemason. When you asked for that $25, I remembered what I had heard about Masons, that they were honest, upright, and cared for their obligations promptly. It seemed to me that $25 wouldn't be too much to lose to learn if what I'd heard was really true, so I lent you the money and you repaid it exactly as you said you would. That convinced me that what I'd heard about Masons was true so I presented my petition to this Lodge. I was the candidate just ahead of you."
From the January 1977 New Mexico Freemason
A review of “That Religion in Which All Men Agree”
That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture, David G. Hackett, 336 pages, Berkeley, $49.95
While many readers will know about traditional Catholic opposition to Freemasonry, many may be surprised to discover how Freemasonry engendered significant Protestant opposition as well. David Hackett proposes to give readers the first detailed account of its religious dimension, while remarking that “Catholics were the original operative Masons, working on the great stone castles and cathedrals of the medieval period.” Even after the modern “re-founding” of the Masons by Protestants under Enlightenment influence, it is a “curious phenomenon” that remnants of Catholicism were retained, like celebrations in honor of the patron saints of the medieval stonemasons’ guild.
Catholic involvement with Masonry is somewhat convoluted. With its 1717 re-founding, many Catholics in Europe became members. In less than two decades, however, papal condemnations began to appear. In addition to concerns about its revolutionary aspects, theological objections were raised and deemed far more weighty than the more political dimensions. Religious indifferentism and universalism, confused and confusing religious positions, pagan influences, anti-clericalism, and extreme rationalism formed the heart of papal objections, which bans have perdured into contemporary Catholicism, along with similar prohibitions in Eastern Orthodoxy and many other conservative Christian bodies.
Freemasonry claims to have ancient foundations with occult knowledge and secret ceremonies of initiation, an example of ritual and popular religion, although many Masons have denied it is a religion, which Hackett defines as “shared ideologies and practices that help people become human in relation to transcendent realities.” “Freemasonry’s quest for primeval truth”—like primitivist Christian groups and Mormons—“joining together disparate political and religious leaders” contributed to the secularization of American society by staking out a “least common denominator” approach to religion—a via media between orthodox and evangelical Christianity on the one hand and pure rationalism on the other. Members were encouraged to keep “their particular [denominational] opinions to themselves,” embodying what the author dubs “polite Christianity” or what the 1723 Masonic constitution refers to as “that religion in which all men agree” (hence, the title of the book).
When Freemasonry refers to “rational” religion, this does not envision faith and reason as two wings of the human ascent to the truth, à la Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio; on the contrary, its religious equation is reason minus revelation or faith. As Thomas Paine argued, Masonry “is derived from some very ancient religion wholly independent of, and unconnected with that book [the Bible].”
Another interesting historical tidbit informs us of the dependence of Mormonism on Freemasonry, especially in the development of its unique rituals. Likewise interesting is that eleven of Joseph Smith’s original twelve apostles were Masons.
Freemasonry caught on for a variety of reasons, not the least being its ability to forge deep relations independent of (or even in spite of) religious positions, redounding to the social, economic and political advantage of its members. It did not hurt that such prominent founders of the American republic as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and John Hancock were committed members of the Lodge. Interestingly, we learn that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Lodge members rarely attended church services (only 14 percent among San Franciscan Masons), giving credibility to the popular perception that Freemasonry was a religion unto itself. As part of its “inclusivity,” one lodge was comprised of Druids—whatever that might have meant.
The role of secrecy in the organization cemented relationships, to be sure, but also led to its undoing. John Vanderbilt in 1808 averred that “nothing can be more binding, nothing more sacred or more pious” than those bonds, causing not a few observers to give credence to long-standing accusations of Freemasonry’s involvement in plots to overthrow both political and religious establishments. Women also expressed concern that perhaps their marriage vows were in danger as well.
As often happens in closed societies, some members began to question teachings and practices. Apostate Masons divulged secrets and asserted that blasphemies and sacrileges against Christ and Christianity were part of the regular fare of lodges. One such “whistle-blower” was William Morgan, who was kidnaped and never heard from again. As that disappearance was laid at the door of the Masons (and never convincingly responded to in the public forum), it visited deleterious effects on Freemasonry as lodges in New York State alone lost 60 percent of its membership between 1826 and 1835.
Jews seeking to assimilate into American society joined lodges but, for reasons that have never been very clear, left the Masons and in 1843 founded B’nai B’rith, whose “original constitution avoids mention of God, Torah, or ritual obligations while emphasizing Jewish unity”—an approach clearly in line with its evolution from Freemasonry.
The first Catholic bishop in the United States, John Carroll, apparently winked at Catholic membership in lodges, perhaps because his own brother Daniel belonged to one! While individual Catholics were admitted to lodges, Masonic attitudes toward institutional Catholicism “ranged from tolerance to rabid anti-Catholicism.” In short order, though, Masonry’s welcome mat even for individual Catholics was rolled up with the arrival of waves of Irish, Italian and German immigrants as Masonry supported the nativist American Protective Association.
That development triggered the establishment of the Knights of Columbus as the Catholic response to the bigotry of the Masons and the condemnations of the Holy See. Unlike the Masons, local councils of the Knights have always been inserted into parochial life, never functioning as a parallel or surrogate religious institution. Hackett claims that membership in the Knights has tanked in recent years, like American Freemasonry’s, as evidenced in its “aging, dwindling membership” and “its ill-kept and largely vacant buildings.” In point of fact, however, between 1950 and the present, membership in the Knights has actually doubled.
Although repetitious in many places, this is nonetheless a worthwhile and interesting account of the growth, development and passing of a significant influence on American religious, political and social life.
The Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., is a member of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic High School Honor Roll National Policy Advisory Board, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, and editor of The Catholic Response.
From the Norfolk, England Fenland Citizen Freemasons motion lodged by Cambridgeshirecouncil leader
Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count
Cambridgeshire county councillors and officers could soon be expected to declare their membership of the Freemasons.
Leader of the council and March ward member Steve Count has submitted the motion.
The Standards Board for England has ruled that membership of the Freemasons must be declared under the councillors’ Code of Conduct.
Mr Count said the council does not currently have a written requirement for Freemason membership to be declared and is not expecting any opposition to the motion.
He said: “Quite a few people have said over the years that they are Freemasons. They are not fazed by that fact being revealed.
“I think that the public would like to know that we operate in a transparent way.”
Mr Count’s motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Tuesday, July 21, calls for all councillors and senior officers to include their membership on the register of interest.
It also calls for councillors and officers to declare if their spouse is a member of the organisation.
A NEW ORDER OF FREEMASONS IS TRANSFORMING THE ANCIENT SOCIETY WITH FLAIR
In Los Feliz, across from a 7-Eleven on North Vermont Avenue, a few dozen men in their early 20s to late 80s share a dinner behind closed doors. Some wear full tuxedos with bow ties and jeweled cuff links, some have shoulder-length hair, and others wear open-collared shirts that reveal the slightest filigree of tattoo arching across their chests.
Over Italian food, retired lawyers and judges sit elbow-to-elbow with owners of scrap metal yards and vintage clothing boutiques. They hold forth on philosophy, the weather; they rib each other and joke about saving room for cannoli. As they reach for seconds, they reveal skull-cracking rings emblazoned with a compass and a square.
Zulu, left, Jonathan Kanarek and Daemon Hillin, pictured in 2008, are among a wave of young Masons who are helping the secretive society gain a higher, hipper profile.
(Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)
The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkin's store,
Where Friendship Lodge had met each month for fifty years or more.
When o'er the earth the moon, full orbed, had cast her brightest beam
The brethren came from miles around on horseback and in team,
And Ah! what hearty grasp of hand, what welcome met them there,
As mingling with the waiting groups they slowly mount the stair
Exchanging fragmentary news or prophecies of crop
Until they reach the Tiler's room and current topics drop
To turn their thoughts to nobler themes they cherish and adore
And which were heard on meeting night up over Simpkin's store.
To city eyes, a cheerless room, long usage had defaced
The tell-tale line of lath and beam on wall and ceiling traced.
The light from oil fed lamps was dim and yellow in its hue
The carpet once could pattern boast, though now `twas lost to view;
The altar and the pedestals that marked the stations three
The gate post pillars topped with balls, the rude carved letter G,
Were village joiner's clumsy work, with many things beside
Where beauty's lines were all effaced and ornament denied.
There could be left no lingering doubt, if doubt there was before,
The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkin's store.
While musing thus on outward form the meeting time drew near,
And we had glimpse of inner life through watchful eye and ear.
When Lodge convened at gavel's sound with officers in place,
We looked for strange, conglomerate work, but could no error trace.
The more we saw, the more we heard, the greater our amaze
To find those country brethren there so skilled in Mason's ways.
But greater marvels were to come before the night was through,
Where unity was not mere name, but fell on earth like dew,
Where tenets had the mind imbued, and truths rich fruit age bore,
In the plainest lodge room in the land, up over Simpkin's store.
To hear the record of their acts was music to the ear,
We sing of deeds unwritten which on angel's scroll appear,
A WIDOW'S CASE--Four helpless ones--Lodge funds were running low--
A dozen brethren sprang to feet and offers were not slow.
Food, raiment, things of needful sort, while one gave loads of wood,
Another, shoes for little ones, for each gave what he could.
Then spake the last: "I haven't things like these to give-- but then,--
Some ready money may help out" and he laid down a ten.'
Were brother cast on darkest square upon life's checkered floor,
A beacon light to reach the white--was over Simpkin's store.
Like scoffer who remained to pray, impressed by sight and sound,
The faded carpet `neath our feet was now like holy ground.
The walls that had such dingy look were turned celestial blue,
The ceiling changed to canopy where stars were shining through.
Bright tongues of flame from altar leaped, the G was vivid blaze,
All common things seemed glorified by heaven's reflected rays.
O! Wondrous transformation wrought through ministry of love--
Behold the LODGE ROOM BEAUTIFUL!--fair type of that above.
The vision fades--the lesson lives--while taught as ne'er before,
In the plainest lodge room in the land--up over Simpkin's store.
Lawrence N. Greenleaf, 33°, Grand Master of Masons in Colorado, 1880
Fire guts Masonic lodge in Trenton; suspect arrested By Cindy Swirko
Staff writer - Gainesville Sun - Gainesville, FL
Published: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 5:51 p.m.
The Masonic lodge in Trenton was destroyed by fire and a suspected arsonist arrested Monday after he was seen taking pictures or video of the blaze, according to City Manager Taylor Brown.
Charged was Jonathan Harrell, who told police he had taken steps to become a Mason but quit the process when he was arrested on unrelated charges.
A resident called 911 to report the fire about 4:19 a.m. at the lodge at 125 NE 2nd Ave.
Trenton police arrived and saw what appeared to be white spray paint of the Masonic logo, stars and the words “truth not light of false” and “The Vigilant.”
The Trenton officer photographed the graffiti before it was destroyed by the fire, Brown said in a press release.
Firefighters arrived and said they found the lodge fully engulfed in flames but worked to keep it from spreading to neighboring buildings. Officers said they spotted Harrell, who was wanted for another crime, photographing the fire amid a crowd of onlookers.
Fire investigators determined the blaze had been set in the front hallway with flammable liquids.
Harrell was later tracked down and interviewed. Brown said Harrell admitted to starting the fire.
N.C. Capitol celebrates 175 years
The jewel Douglas Caudle wore to the State Capitol on Saturday isn’t the kind you throw on for just any event.
It is the same jewel Grand Master of the State Simmons J. Baker wore as he and other North Carolina Masons dedicated a cornerstone for the State Capitol building in 1833.
“The jewel that I’m wearing dates back to 1829,” said Caudle, current grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina. “Due to its historical significance, I only wear this jewel on special occasions.”
The 175th anniversary of the State Capitol on Saturday was special enough. Caudle’s group partnered with representatives of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina to rededicate the original cornerstone, nearly 182 years after it was first laid.
Together, the Masons performed a public ritual, checking the plumb, square and level of a symbolic cornerstone to ensure it was properly constructed.
“We thought it was an appropriate recognition of the reopening of this building in 1840,” said Kevin Cherry, deputy secretary of the Office of Archives & History. The building took seven years to complete.
The Masonic ceremony was the beginning of an afternoon of outdoor activities, musical performances and educational opportunities. People spread out on the lawn, relaxed in the shade on benches and took in the main site they came to see.
“Beyond the working state-government role, this place is the symbol of self-governance of the people,” Cherry said. “In other countries, they have grand edifices for their rulers or kings; we have a grand edifice for our representatives. This is the symbol of our governing ourselves.”
The Capitol houses the governor’s office and used to be the meeting place of the General Assembly until lawmakers relocated to the State Legislative Building on Jones Street in 1963.
Preservation effortsThe celebration Saturday was momentous for those who have spent years working to ensure the well-being of the historic building.
“I fell in love with this building the first time I came in it and I just can’t shake it,” said Kay Cashion, who is nearing the end of her sixth year as president of The State Capitol Foundation, a nonprofit she became involved with in 1990. “It’s awesome – it represents the stability and heritage of North Carolina, and it’s the people’s Capitol.”
The preservation foundation has recently had the building analyzed and photographed.
“We now have a set of architectural plans which did not exist until about a year and a half ago,” Cashion said. “If this building had burned down prior to that or had been destroyed, it could not have been rebuilt as it is.”
Cashion’s group is working on short- and long-term maintenance plans that will help give state lawmakers an idea of what work will be needed in the near future at the Capitol. Gov. Pat McCrory has pushed the legislature recently to allow the public to vote in November on $2.8 billion in bond proposals for needed improvements to state roads and buildings.
Brenda Pollard, a 30-year board member with The State Capitol Foundation who was also the first chair of the State Capitol Society, has good reason to consider the Capitol her second home.
Pollard began serving at the Capitol in 1971 and was Secretary of State Thad Eure’s executive assistant for 18 1/2 years.
“My office was the second window,” she said, pointing at the first floor on the east side of the building. “It is the jewel of all our historic sites, in my opinion. I’m just passionate about the building and what it symbolizes – so many things to so many people. We’re proud of that.”
Organizers said the anniversary of the State Capitol has been celebrated before, but not to the degree it was Saturday.
“This was the birthday. This is unprecedented,” Pollard said.
FORT DODGE, IOWA (AP) -- A century-old time capsule has been opened in Fort Dodge, revealing coins, newspapers and a 48-star U.S. flag.
The Fort Dodge Messenger reports the time capsule was removed from the cornerstone of the former Masonic Lodge last month, but it wasn't opened until Wednesday. The lodge building is now used as a homeless shelter.
Dan Brown, a lodge official, and Jim Kimpell, the Fort Museum's executive director, opened the capsule and found the items in nearly perfect condition. The copper box had been soldered shut, keeping air out and preventing paper items from becoming brittle.
Items in the capsule included Masonic membership lists and other lodge documents, the flag, a 1913 buffalo head nickel, stamps and newspapers.
Brown and Kimpell hope to display the items at the Fort Museum.
Musselburgh Masons in ‘minutes mystery’
Past Master Gilbert MeikleMasons in Musselburgh are on a mission to fill in all the blanks as they attempt to retrace their history over more than two centuries.
Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland on March 15, 1768, the Lodge of St John Fisherrow 112 will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2018.
Now situated in Balcarres Road, the Lodge first met in premises near Fisherrow Harbour, before spending a number of years in the Hammermen’s Hall, Bridge Street, long since demolished.
It wasn’t until 1925 that members purchased the then Royal Musselburgh Golf Club Clubhouse in Golf Place, now renamed Balcarres Road. The lodge moved there after extending the building.
In the build up to the anniversary, Past Master Gilbert Meikle, a former East Lothian councillor and retired police inspector, is now leading the hunt for missing records.
He told the News: “Ancient Free and Accepted Freemasonry is still very much alive in Musselburgh and has been for a very long time.
“St John Fisherrow is presently the only Lodge in Musselburgh, although there is evidence that there were another two Lodges in the area over the years. One was situated in what is now Kilwinning Place and the other where St Peter’s Church now stands.
“However, there are some Lodge records missing in the form of minute books. It is not impossible that some of these books are lying forgotten in some cupboard or in an attic in Musselburgh area. The Lodge would be very pleased to have them returned.”
TEN IMPORTANT MASONIC EVENTS
1390: The oldest Masonic text known today, “The Halliwell Manuscript” or “Regius Poem” is said to have been written somewhere between 1390 and the beginning of the 15th century. This text begins with a history of the Craft, starting with Euclid’s invention of geometry in ancient Egypt. The text, written in poetic form, is also the earliest Masonic manuscript containing charges. The introduction of the manuscript is in fact followed by a section containing rules of conduct for a Master Mason, thus giving us an insight of the moral behaviour expected by Masons at the time.
1646: The first documented initiation of an English Freemason. Elias Ashmole, a chemist and antiquarian, recorded the proceedings of his initiation in his diary, where he used to write notes about his life with the intention of writing an autobiography. The entry is important because it is the first evidence known of the making of a speculative Mason, and the first one to be recorded in writing. Elias Ashmole is not the first speculative Mason in history, but he is the first one who recorded the proceedings of his initiation in writing (or at least his is the first record that was ever found), and he even took down the names of the other Masons that were present during his initiation. This gives us the first insight of initiations in speculative Freemasonry.
1696: The first recorded ritual, found in the Edinburgh Register House manuscript. Thanks to this record we can imagine what a Masonic ritual in the late 1600s would be like, and it shows the earliest evidence of a two degree system. The third degree first appeared quite a few years later, somewhere between 1723 and 1730, and it spread slowly within the craft until it became part of the Masonic system.
1717: This year marks the formation of the first Grand Lodge in the world and the start of lodges being governed by Grand Lodges. The first Grand Lodge was formed in London on the 24th June, 1717. It is today known as the United Grand Lodge of England and governs more than 8,000 lodges. The Grand Lodge of England is one of the three home Grand Lodges together with the Grand Lodge of Ireland, founded in 1725, and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, founded in 1736. These three home Grand Lodges are known to have started taking Freemasonry overseas to other countries.
1723: In this year an important Freemasonic writing was published: James Anderson’s Constitutions. Handwritten notes of the constitutions could already be found before this date, but now for the first time these were easily accessible in a small printed book. Anderson’s Constitutions began with a short history of Freemasonry (which, however, is widely considered fictitious), followed by a set of general rules of conduct for a Freemason; i.e. the charges. These were followed by Payne’s Regulations which dictated rules on how lodges should be governed, which every Grand Master should follow. The final section contains songs which would be used in rituals. Anderson’s Constitutions were reprinted by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, the same year in which he was elected Grand Master of the Lodge of Pennsylvania. He was also responsible for the printing of the first article about Freemasonry in North America, which he had published in ‘The Pennsylvania Gazette’ four years earlier, in December 1730. The Constitutions kept on being modified in the following years even until 1815, when the Grand Lodge of England changed slightly the part where Anderson wrote about a Freemason’s religion. While Anderson’s original Constitutions said that “a stupid Atheist” and “an irreligious libertine” can never be Freemasons, the Grand Lodge of England modified this and wrote that it doesn’t matter what religion one follows as long as “he believes in the glorious Architect of Heaven and Earth, and practices the sacred duties of morality”. This is still relevant to Freemasons today.
1751: This year marks the division between the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’, which lasted 63 years. It started when a Grand Lodge of Irish Masons arrived in London stating that the original Grand Lodge had changed; thus calling it one of the ‘Moderns’ while calling themselves the ‘Antients’ as they had not made any innovations, unlike the Grand Lodge of London, they claimed. This division also spread abroad and lasted for about 63 years with the ‘Modern’ and the ‘Antient’ lodges not considering each other regular lodges. The schism was ended in 1813, when the two Grand Lodges united and formed the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). One major change that resulted from this unification was the culmination of a trend during the latter half of the 1700's to remove references to Christianity from the ritual, so that men of all beliefs and religions could participate in the Fraternity's rituals without compromising their personal beliefs.
1772: During this year, William Preston staged a gala at his own expense to introduce his system of lectures. Later that year they were published by Preston as "Ilustrations of Masonry", which went through 12 editions. Many of the lectures we have today in America are drawn directly or indirectly from the "Ilustrations". Perhaps Preston's greatest contribution, however, was to change the focus of Freemasonry at the time from the bar and dining room to much more emphasis on the moral and philosophical. His influence on Modern Freemasonry cannot be overestimated.
1797: Thomas Smith Webb, born in Massachussetts, published his "Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of Masonry". He had come in contact with Freemasons from England who were students of Preston, and he studied and learned that system, including the Lectures. In his book, he openly admitted that much of what he wrote was lifted directly from Preston's work, but he re-arranged the Lectures and edited them to some extent, to make them "fit" the American system better. Webb is looked upon by most authentic Masonic scholars as the Father of American Masonic Ritual. Many of his students learned his system and spread his work throughout most of the United States.
1826: This is the year of the Morgan Affair. William Morgan had threatened to write a book revealing all the secrets of the Freemasons and in 1826 he disappeared from Batavia, New York. What really happened to him is still a mystery, but the Freemasons were blamed for his disappearance and this led to the formation of many antiMasonic groups in New York and in the whole United States, which organized protests against Freemasonry. Because of the Morgan Affair, many masons left the Craft. While before the Morgan Affair the Grand Lodge of New York governed 227 lodges, a few years after the Morgan Affair only 41 were left. However, Freemasonry in the United States tripled in the 1850s. By the end of the 1850s there were more than 5000 lodges with over 200,000 Masons.
1843: The Baltimore Convention, held in the city of that name in Maryland, was held this year. Its President was John Dove. For many reasons, but chief among them the loss of membership and skilled lecturers caused by the anti-Masonic movement within the United States, and the resulting disarray of rituals and practices among the various Grand Lodges and their respective subordinate lodges, there was a popular call among many Grand Lodges to unify the various Grand Jurisdictions under a single National Grand Lodge. Although this attempt failed, many beneficial policies that were put forth during the convention were ultimately adopted by all Grand Jurisdictions in the U.S. Among them was the practice of issuing "Dues Cards" or Certificates of Good Standing, a recognition of Webb's Monitor of containing the most authentic Masonic Lectures and practices, and other matters of jurisprudence.
The great object of the Convention, that of producing a uniform ritual of the 3 degrees that would be adopted by all Grand Lodges, was not achieved. However, although the Convention lacked the executive power to enforce its recommendations to the Grand Lodges, many of these recommendations were later adopted by all Grand Lodges, and the influence of this Convention upon Freemasonry in the United States was immense.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE ORDER
An article entitled "Masonic Philosophical Differences in the 21st Century" by Sir Knight John Palmer begins on page 9 of the Knight Templar magazine shown below. However, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Knights Templar rite, degree, or organization. It has everthing to do with the survival of Blue Lodge Masonry in the United States. Even if you don't reach a conclusion, or a decision, after reading it, perhaps you will at least have become more aware about change that is happening all around us.
Change is inevitable. Resistance to change is universal. But refusal to change can very often be fatal.
Traditional Observance lodges are springing up all over the country. It may be that 150 years from now, Masonic historians will look on the period from 2005-2035 as an era as impactful to Freemasonry in America as the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England was to our English Brethren in 1813.
Perhaps reading the article will give all of us something to think and talk about.
Bill Norton, a Past Master of Tompkins Lodge in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, was prompted by a Short Talk Bulletin article to write an essay about the “Heart and Soul” of our Fraternity. Excerpts from his words are reprinted here:
History is covered with displays of passion, relief and aid. Even in times of war and times of desperate need, lives have been saved, individuals as well as families, Masonic and non-masonic, due to the teachings of Freemasonry.
Brothers have been saved by physical and/or monetary methods, saved by Masonic brethren, whether they were officers or soldiers of war -- simply by displaying or noticing a Masonic emblem. Even though the recipient of this grace or charity was a perceived enemy, but still recognized as a brother or brother’s family in need.
Famous men abound in historic lore of Freemasonry -- from Kings, Princes, Potentates, Presidents, and Founders of our country and elected leaders of many paths. Since time immemorial, legends of acts of charity and forgiveness have abounded.
The heart and soul of Freemasonry is and always has been within every Mason. It is their passion, their teaching, how they display their belief, learning to adhere to the ceremonies of Freemasonry and showing their passions of brotherly love for each other and their families. Carrying the emotions of life and their love for the craft. As it was when they were first brought to light.
Someone at the Lodge
I know there is someone at the Lodge,
There’s a meeting there twice a month.
I know someone cuts the grass,
I can tell because it gets done;
I know someone pays the lights and water,
Because I see them on each month.
I know someone repairs the building;
Because I see it happen when needed.
I know someone teaches the work;
Because candidates go through.
I know someone sends in the reports;
Because the Lodge keeps its charter.
I know someone keeps things going;
I’d like to help but don’t have time.
I’ll let them do it,
They seem to always be around.
I’ll just wear my ring;
And pay my dues.
When others ask about the Lodge;
I’ll proudly say I’m a member.
And I’ll just let someone else,
Do all the things that keep it going.
Sometimes, though, I wonder...
Who is that someone?
Robert E. Rowland, PM
Secretary, Goshen Masonic Lodge No. 71
"During the period when serious business occupies the attention of the Brethren, you must not leave your seat, or engage in conversation with your neighbours, not even in whispers; neither should you move the chair or bench on which you are seated, or make any other noise to disturb the Master or his Officers in the orderly execution of their respective duties. Silence is the leading characteristic of a well-regulated Lodge. I have known many good Lodges spoiled for want of a due attention to these trifling particulars." from The Book of the Lodge by Brother George Oliver (1782-1867)
Why Is Ritual Often Repetitious?
Several "word pairs" in Masonic ritual make interesting studies, such as "duly and truly," "worthy and well-qualified," free will and accord," "parts and points," "hele and conceal."
At first glance, it may seem that these are so arranged only for emphasis.
In Middle Age English writing, especially in the 13th and 14th Centuries, when Freemasonry was in the process of formation, England had two languages. One was Norman-French; the other Anglo-Saxon. To make sure of understanding, word pairs were much in use -- a word of similar meaning being taken from each language.
The apparent redundancy or expression in a number of places in Masonic ritual may be traced back to these Middle Ages. The perpetuation of such usage now, when clarity of thought and understanding might be served as well with one word, is one of the many proofs that Freemasonry delights to embrace that which is venerated and ancient."
(Taken from One Hundred One Questions About Freemasonry, published by the Masonic Service Association of North America.)
"The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." Letter to the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, January 1793 - Worshipful Brother George Washington, Writings
A Bag Of Tools By: R. L. Sharpe
Isn't it strange
That princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common folks
Like you and me
Are builders of eternity?
To each is given
a book of rules,
A shapeless mass
and a kit of tools;
And each must make
- Ere life is flown -
A stumbling block
Or a steppingstone
The Famous H.O. Studley Tool Chest
Look closely, Brethren.
The Bridge Builder BY WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE
DEDICATED TO ALL PAST MASTERS WHO SERVE
DALLAS MASONIC LODGE NO. 182 SO WELL
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
A BEAUTIFUL LEGEND.
Dear Brother: - Forty years ago Theodore Tilton in a public lecture delivered in the old Methodist church of this city, told this beautiful legend as to how King Solomon selected a location for the Temple.
Two brothers were left an estate to be divided equally between them. One was married and had a family of children, the other was unmarried and a cripple. After the estate, which consisted principally of grain and live stock, had been equally divided, the married brother decided that his brother who was a cripple ought to have the largest share; and the brother who was a cripple came to a like conclusion, thinking that his brother who had a family ought to have the larger part. Under cover of night they both planned to carry out their purpose of giving a share to the other. It so happened that they fixed upon the same hour and place, and where these two brothers met, each seeking to convey to the other a part of his inheritance, King Solomon built the Temple for the worship of God. Yours fraternally,
S. H. Bauman,
Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
Reprinted from "The Builder", June 1915
When I was a king and a mason, a master proven and skilled,
I cleared me ground for a Palace, such as a King should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels; presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace, such as a King had built.
There was no worth in the fashion; there was no wit in the plan;
Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran.
Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone,
"After me cometh a Builder; tell him I, too, have known."
Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned groundworks grew,
I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars, and cut and rest them anew.
Lime I milled of his marbles; burned it, slaked it, and spread;
Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.
Yet I despised not nor gloried, yet, as we wrenched them apart,
I read in the razed foundation the heart of that Builder's heart.
As he had risen and pleaded, so did I understand
The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.
When I was a King and a Mason, in the open noon of my pride,
They sent me a Word from the Darkness; they whispered and called me aside.
They said, "The end is forbidden." They said, "Thy use is fulfilled.
Thy Palace shall stand as that other's, the spoil of a King who shall build."
I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves, and my sheers;
All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years.
Only I cut on the timber; only I carved on the stone:
"After me cometh a Builder; tell him I, too, have known."