THE SHORT TALK BULLETIN
The Masonic Service Association of the United States
VOL. 27 MAY 1949 NO. 5
Say “Anti-Masonry” to the average American Mason and he will think you speak only of the Morgan affair of 1826. So Many books have been written on this, so many speeches made about it, so many study clubs have discussed it, that it is pretty much in the class with political oratory – interesting once, but as bore when much repeated!
Anti-Masonry neither began nor ended with the Morgan affair. The Fraternity has always had its enemies and, unless the world reforms spiritually, doubtless always will. BUT WHY?
Examine just a few of the exhibitions of anti-Masonry, other than the Morgan affair – which was a sporadic explosion, not a deep – rooted and poisonous plant.
Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Stalin could not permit the existence of a society which is predicated upon the brotherhood of man; they were, and are, too much committed to a society predicated upon a police power which knows no mercy and has but one object; the destruction of people, ideas, and organizations which do not believe that man is nothing, the State (and its ruler or rulers) everything.
Mussolini’s anti-Masonic feeling was expressed in his doctrine of conflict, which does not even mention the Craft:
” Humanity is still and always an abstraction of time and space; men are still not brothers, do not want to be and evidently cannot be. Peace is hence absurd; or rather it is a pause in war. There is something that binds man to his destiny of struggling, against either his fellows or himself. The motives for the struggle may change indefinitely, they may be economic, religious, political, sentimental, but the legend of Cain and Abel seems to be the inescapable reality, while brotherhood is a fable men listen to during the bivouac and the truce.”
General Erich Ludendorff wrote a booklet against Freemasonry of which more than a hundred thousand copies were sold. Too long to quote here, the reader may get an idea of its contents from some of his words.
“Masonry brings its members into conscious subjection to the Jews…… it trains them to become venal Jews…. German Masonry is a branch of organized international Masonry the headquarters of which are in New York…. there also is the seat of Jewish world power….”
Ludendorff blamed Freemasons for bringing America into the World War I, helped by the Jesuits, B’nai B’rith and the Grand Lodge of New York! This, he stated, was done to destroy Austria Hungary, a Catholic world power. Had it not been for Freemasonry, Germany would have won the war – Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas lost their thrones because they were not Freemasons – and so on and on and on for eighty-two pages of “Annihilation of Freemasonry Through revelation of its Secrets!”
Not all anti-Masonry has had causes so fundamental, which lie so deep; small jealousies and little rascals have started anti – Masonic movements; several religions have fought and, indeed, now fight the Craft, as sinful and un-godlike. The opposition of the Catholic Church, based on the Papal Bull of 1738, many times renewed, expanded, explained and emphasized, is well known. The Lutheran church as a whole has been unfriendly to the Craft and certain Synods rabid against it. The Mormon Church has been anti-Masonic ever since hundreds of Mormons were expelled from Masonry by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Even the Gentle Quakers have opposed Freemasonry and not always gently!
When organized religion has disputed with Freemasonry, it is largely because of the thought that Masonic teaching of “that natural religion in which all men agree” might take the place of that which it espoused; knowing that the Fraternity operated by means of a secret ritual, obligations, religious beliefs and the doctrine that all men of whatever faith might worship a Great Architect of the Universe around a common Altar, Freemasonry became a rival! Just as science disputes with no religion, so Freemasonry does not now and never has questioned any man’s faith. There has never been an anti-clerical party composed only of Masons; there have been anti-Masonic parties in many clerical circles. As late as 1896 an anti-Masonic party convened at Trent. In the BUILDER, April, 1918, George W. Baird, P.G.M. District of Columbia, reports that the general and particular aims of this council were to wage war on Masonry as an institution; on Masons as individuals, in all countries and places where the order exists; to wage war on Masonry as a body, by collecting supposed documents and facts; assertions of perjured Masons as evidence and thus bring to light or rather to coin, by means of the press or special publications, all the misdeeds of the fatal institution; all the demoralizing influences it exercises; through obscene or sacrilegious rites, corruption and occult conspiracies of man and civilization; to wage war on individual Masons by opposing them in every phase of their existence, in their homes, in their industries, in their commerce, in their professional vocations, in all their endeavors to participate in public life, local or general, etc.
The first anti-Masonic campaign – if it be called that – in the American Colonies occurred in 1737. According to an account published in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Benjamin Franklin’s paper) an apothecary duped a young man (Daniel Reese) who had expressed a desire to be a Freemason, into a false and ridiculous ceremony, ending in a scene in which the devil was supposed to appear. When the young man refused to be frightened, the “devil” became angry and threw a pan of flaming spirits on the candidate, who died of burns three days later.
Freemasons, though innocent, were blamed and the incident (if death can be called and incident!) spread far and wide to the serious but not too lengthy embarrassment of Masons of the City of Brotherly Love.
There were a few sporadic attacks in the Colonial press against Freemasonry, including one in Boston in 1751, but no real opposition of any moment in this nation until the Morgan affair of 1826. (See Short Talk Bulletin of March 1933 and February 1946.)
But the Colonies were not to escape prejudice, even if unorganized, for Pritchard’s Masonry Dissected (1730) and Jachin and Boaz (1762) both had wide circulation, the latter pamphlet being reprinted here more than a dozen times; one edition was printed in Spanish in Philadelphia as late as 1822.
These “expose’s” purporting to print the ritual, ceremonies and “secrets” of Freemasonry (invaluable now as giving clues to practices and words otherwise lost in the mist of the years) were then intended as body blows at the Ancient Craft. In early days all Freemasonry was kept secret; place of meeting; men who belonged; candidates proposes, were all considered to be “esoteric”. Hence there was a great curiosity on the part of the public and a large circulation of pamphlets designed to injure the Fraternity by “exposing” its charter, ritual and secrets. Today, few would look at and less would buy such a pamphlet on a newsstand – then, the public demanded these in quantities.
Like all such, the motive of their publication–whether revenge for fancied slights or avarice – kept them from being too seriously considered by the better educated and thinking class.
In England, Pritchard’s “Masonry Dissected” raised a storm when it was published, and was reflected even in the songs of the day. An actress in 1765 offered the following, as coming from the anti – Masonic Scald Miserable Masons:
“Next for the secret of their own wise making,
Hiram and Boaz and Grand Master Jachin;
Poker and tongs-the sign-the word-the stroke
‘Tis all a nothing and ’tis all a joke!
Nonsense on nonsense! Let them storm and rail
Here’s the whole history of the mop and pail*
For ’tis the sense of more than half the town
Their secret is-a bottle at the Crown!” *
An allusion to the tiler’s implements with which he erased the designs drawn upon the lodge floor for he instruction of candidates.
Although inspired by the Morgan affair, the letters of John Quincy Adams had an anti-Masonic effect long after Morgan was forgotten. President Adams was never a Freemason; we have his own words as proof of that. That he was an implacable enemy of the institution is shown by his “Letters on the Masonic Institution” published in book form in Boston in 1847. His enmity of the Fraternity sprang from his belief in the reality of the “murder” of Morgan, the activities of the anti-Masonic party and his own great credulity and strong prejudice. His character as a man, his service to his county, his exhaustless energy made serious his attacks on Freemasonry, even though he displayed a woeful ignorance of the Order, its principles, practices, history and accomplishments.
John Quincy Adams is long gathered to his fathers. His “letters” remain largely unread in libraries and in the minds of historians. He did the fraternity harm once, but, judged by the perspective of a century, it was without permanent effect.
These are but the slightest thumb-nail sketches of a few of the outbreaks against Freemasonry. In all countries since the organization of the Mother Grand Lodge, there have been these ebullitions of passions and prejudice; in some lands, tortures and burnings; destructions of Masonic property, imprisonment of Masons, especially in World War II.
These persecutions have had a hundred underlying causes; avarice, jealousy, desire for notoriety, disappointment, envy, the belief that he climbs high who climbs ruthlessly, the need for a scrape-goat: the list is endless. But all, in the last analysis, boil down to one cause. As the greater swallows the less, the large encompasses the little, the race includes all its blood strains, so the reason for the enmity of Freemasons and Freemasonry, encompassing all of many causes, is simple.
There is always a conflict between any two opposing beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, religions, philosophies, political systems. For hundreds of years organized religion fought science; the doctrine of the divine right of kings ran headlong into the doctrine of the equality of man; today we see democracy and Communism in a cold war to the death; less spectacular but none the less real has been the split of Lincoln’s famous words, resulting in the opposition of those who believe in government by the people, to those who believe only in government of the people, by the governor!
Freemasonry is a philosophy which cannot exist side by side with certain ideologies. Either the latter must sink or Freemasonry must be banished. Wherever men have believed that one man or some men are above the law which applies to the many; wherever as government is by men and not by law, Freemasonry is anathema, must be persecuted, thrown out, dispersed, and done away.
Freemasonry stands and has always stood for freedom of political thought; for freedom of religious thought; for the dignity, importance and worth of the individual. In Freemasonry there is neither high nor low-”We meet upon the level”. In Freemasonry is no compulsion; a man must come to it and be of it “of his own free will and accord.” In Freemasonry is no religious sect: men of all religions or of no religion join hands in kneeling about a common Altar erected to the Great Architect of the Universe, by which name each can worship the God he knows.
Such a plan, such a doctrine, such a brotherhood, cannot but be inimical to the selfish, the crooked, the power-hungry, the dictator, the religion which opposes any doctrine but its own, the self-seeking, the envious, the coward, the prejudiced, the passionate and the dishonest.
The reason for all the attacks on Masonry, no matter how attempted or by whom accomplished, can be expressed in a word…
The word is FEAR. Fear of what?
OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT!}
The Star of Rosicrucianism is now once more in the ascendant and our Society has made rapid strides in the past ten years. It is curious to note that waves of interest in occult and mystical subjects, seem to sweep over a nation at intervals; periods of Rosicrucian enlightenment alternate with other periods of materialistic dogmatism.
We must remember that Rosicrucianism itself was “no new thing” but only a revival of still earlier forms of Initiation, and was a lineal descendant of the Philosophies of the Chaldean Magi, of the Egyptian priests, of the Neo-Platonists, of the Hermetists of Alexandria of the Jewish Kabalists and of Christian Kabalists such as Raymond Lully and Pic de Mirandola.
The nominal Founder of our Society–Christian Rosencreuz, did not invent, at least in our modern sense of the word, the doctrines he promulgated, and which we should now study. It is narrated that he journeyed to Arabia, to Palestine, to Egypt and to Spain, and in the seats of learning in those countries he found and collected the mystic lore, which was made anew by him into a code of doctrine and knowledge. On his return from these foreign travels he settled in Germany, founded a Collegium, selected certain friends and transformed them into enthusiastic pupils, and giving his new Society his own name, he laid the foundation of that scheme of Mystical Philosophy, which we are now here to perpetuate and carry into practice: let us remember that he died in the year 1484, that is so far back as the reign of our King Richard the Third.
The fratres of the original Collegium, who met in the “Domus Sanctus Spiritus,” or ” House of the Holy Spirit,” were learned men, earnest students and public benefactors. Their rules were: That none of the members should profess any art except to relieve the sick and that gratis; each one should wear the ordinary dress of the country, and should attend on Corpus Christi day at a general Convocation every year, whenever possible to do so; each one should seek a suitable pupil to succeed him: that the secret mark of each one should be C.R. or R.C., and that the Society should remain secret for 100 years.
As time went on the purposes and duties of the fratres became altered, the cure of the sick especially was taken over by the development of the medical profession.
About 1710, one Sigmund Richter, using the motto of “Sincerus Renatus,” published at Breslau his work called “The perfect and true preparation of the Philosophical Stone according to the secret of the Brotherhoods of the Golden and Rosy Cross.” In this volume we find a series of 52 rules for the guidance of Rosicrucian members; these rules are such as were likely to lead to useful and orderly lives.
Again, about 1785, there was published at Altona in Germany a most important volume of coloured theosophical plates with eludicatory words and phrases and several essays on Rosicrucian subjects: its title was “Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer”; it was in two portions. An English translation of some part of this work was published in 1888 by Franz Hartmann, a German Theosophist.
We catch a further glimpse of the purposes of the Rosicrucians at a later date, from a curious little tract relating to a French branch of the Society, which relates the Reception of Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom in the Mauritius–French colony–by the Comte de Chazal in 1794. I cannot say where the original MS. now is, but our copy was made by the secretary of the well-known Rosicrucian and crystal-gazer Frederick Hockley, who died in 1885. Bacstrom signed his pledge to fourteen promises;–to piety and sobriety, to keep the secrecy of his admission, to preserve the secret knowledge, to choose suitable successors, to carry on the great work, to give aid and charity privately, to share discoveries with his fellows, to avoid politics, to help strangers, and to show gratitude to those who had led to his reception, etc..
During a recent visit to East Africa I met in Natal a Mauritius born doctor whose wife was a Miss de Chazal, a native of Mauritius; among her ancestors about 1780-90 there was this M. de Chazal who was an eccentric genius and was considered to possess curious arts; he also became a notable Swedenborgian and held classes of mystical philosophy. The name is many times mentioned in a French history of Mauritius which was lent to me by Dr. Dumat of Durban. At the time of the French Revolution it would be natural for our count de Chazal to drop his title, as did many of the French nobility.
The aim of our own Society at the present day is to afford mutual aid and encouragement in working out the great problems of Life, and in discovering the Secrets of Nature; to facilitate the study of the system of Philosophy founded upon the Kabalah and the doctrines of Hermes Trismegistus, which was inculcated by the original Fratres Rosae Crucis of Germany, A.D. 1450; and to investigate the meaning and symbolism of all that now remains of the wisdom, art and literature of the Ancient World.
The Rosicrucian Societies of Anglia, Scotia and the United States, alike Masonic bodies, are by no means the only descendants of the original Collegium, for in Germany, and Austria there are other Rosicrucian Colleges of more direct descent than our own, which are not fettered by any of the limitations which Freemasonry has imposed upon us, and some of these, although not composed of many members, include students who understand many curious phenomena, which our Zelators have not studied. The German Rosicrucians keep their Colleges and membership entirely secret, they print no transactions nor even any notices, and it is almost impossible to identify any member.
The German groups of Rosicrucians now existing are much more immersed in mystic and occult lore than ourselves; they endeavour to extend the human faculties beyond the material toward the ethereal, astral and spiritual worlds: at the present time I understand that they use no formulated Ritual, but German Colleges have experienced a notable revival and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner are considered as giving an introduction of their system of occult Theosophy. Several of Steiner’s volumes are now available in English translations, such we his “Initiation and its Results,” “The Gates of Knowledge,” and “Way of Initiation.” They are well worthy of study.
The Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia, as well as the Societas Rosicruciana in the U.S.A. were branches from the same Rosicrucian source and sprang from a rejuvenation by Frater Robert Wentworth Little of that lapsed Rosicrucian College in England which is mentioned by Godfrey Higgins in his notable work “The Anacalypsis,” or “An attempt to withdraw the Veil of the Isis of Sais,” which was published in 1836; he remarks that he did not join the old College there referred to.
About fifty years earlier a certain eminent Jew named Falk, or Dr. Falcon, lived in London (a reference to whom will be found in the “Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry” by Kenneth Mackenzie) and was of high repute as a teacher of the kabalah and of other studies of a Rosicrucian character; he was indeed said to have magical powers. Falk could not have flatly affiliated to any Rosicrucian College because he was a strict Jew of the Jews, and the members of all true Rosicrucian Colleges have always been Christians, but perhaps not of an orthodox type, for there was a tendency in the teachings toward Gnostic ideals. Mackenzie classes Dr. Falk among the Rosicrucians of eminence, and certainly told me he had first hand evidence of his connection with the Society; many Christian students adopted a modification of the old Jewish kabalah, so perhaps some Jews have been allied to the Christian Rosicrucians.
Our own Magus Frater R. W. Little surrounded himself with several other notable Rosicrucian students, of whom I may mention the late Supreme Magus in Anglia, Dr. William Robert Woodman, a learned Kabalist and Hebrew scholar; W.J. Hughan, the great Masonic historian; William Carpenter, editor of Calmet’s “Dictionary of the Bible”; Alphonse Constant, better known as “Eliphaz Levi,” who gave Fratres Little and Kenneth Mackenzie much assistance, and was in return elected an honorary member of the Metropolitan College in 1873. Our Society unfortunately lost Frater Little at a very early age. Frater H. C. Levander, too, a Professor at University College, London, was a learned member; and took great interest in the mystic lore of the Society.
The late Lord Lytton, the author of “Zanoni” and “The Strange Story,” who was in 1871 Grand Patron of our Society, took very great interest in this form of Philosophy, although he never reached the highest degree of knowledge; for public reasons he once made a disavowal of his membership of the Rosicrucians, but he had been admitted as a Frater of the German Rosicrucian College at Frankfort on the Main; that College was closed after 1850.
Among the Fratres who have recently been ornaments to our Colleges, I may draw attention to the lately deceased and quaintly cultured John Yarker of Didsbury; to our late Adept of York, T. B. Whytehead, who was famous as an antiquarian: to Frater Fendelow of the Newcastle College, who was the author of a learned and suggestive Rosicrucian Lecture: to Frater F. F. Schnitger, who made deep researches into the French and German Rosicrucian Treatises: to Samuel Liddell Mathers, the translator of portions of the Hebrew “Zohar,” and to Frederick Holland, the author of “The Temple Rebuilt,” and “The Shekinah Revealed.” Another deceased Frater of eminence was Benjamin Cox of Weston-super-Mare, and with him I naturally couple the greater name of Frater Major F. G. Irwin, who, however has now also gone to a Temple far away.
Among the learned juniors of our Society, I may name Fratres Dr. Vaughan Bateson, Thomas Henry Pattinson, the Rev. C. E. Wright, Sir John A. Cockburn, W. J. Songhurst, Herbert Burrows, A. Cadbury Jones, W. Wonnacott, Dr. Wm. Hammond, Dr. B. J. Edwards, and Dr. W. C. Blaker.
Our Colleges need not languish for want of subjects of study; the narrative of the foundation of our Society is singularly suggestive of points for future investigation. The German “Fama Fraternitatis” of 1614, in an English translation by Thomas Vaughan of 1652, presents you with the History of Christian Rosenkreuz: its companion tract the “Confessio Fraternitatis” gives you a slight insight into the views of the Rosicrucians of a date a hundred years later. The “Chymische Hoctizeit” or “Chemical Wedding” by C.R., and the “Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians’ by F. Hartman, are tractates of Rosicrucian Allegory which will well repay, not only perusal, but deep study; while the elucidation of the whole set of Medieval Divinatory Sciences, Astrology, Geomancy, etc, are suitable themes for lectures in your College. For such as can understand medieval Latin a most interesting work is the “Oedipus Aegyptiacus” of Athanasius Kircher. It is desirable that our students should make themselves acquainted with the Ancient Mysteries of Egypt, of Greece and of Rome. The basis of the Western occultism of medieval Europe is the Kabalah of the medieval Hebrew Rabbis, to which I have published “An Introduction.” This philosophy, although at first sight barbarous and crude, yet will be found, when one has grown familiar with the nomenclature, to be a concrete, coherent and far-reaching scheme of Theology, cosmology, ethics and metaphysics, serving to throw light on many obscure Biblical passages and to suggest original views of the meaning of most of the allegorical descriptions found in the Old Testament. A copy of a very curious old Kabalistic picture from a Syriac Gospel with a descriptive essay by Dr. Carnegie Dickson, a notable Scotch Rosicrucian Adept, has just been given to our Library.
The works of the great Rosicrucian Kabalist, Eliphaz Levi, are, to those who read French with ease, a mine of mystic lore, full of fine imagery, and replete with magical formulas. His “Histoire de la Magie” is a storehouse of information relating to the Secret Sciences and Secret Fraternities of all times and among many nations, while in English the two volumes of the new edition of Heckethorn’s “Secret Societies” should be read as an introduction to deeper personal research.
The work of Franz Hartmann, named “Magic, White and Black,” I can recommend to serious enquirers, for it elucidates the real aims of the Higher Magic, with which alone we are concerned, and it clears away many misconceptions which exist in the minds of the uninitiated.
To such as desire to follow more closely the Old Testament religious element, I should advise a perusal of the commentaries of Dr. Mien Barnes on “Daniel” and “The Book of Revelation,” and the symbolical descriptions of the book of Ezekiel. On the Christian aspect I recommend “The Perfect Way,” or “The Finding of Christ,” by the late Dr. A. Kingsford; in this volume will be found worked out the broader scheme of Christian teaching which is so apt to be obscured by sectarian forms of worship. The tenets of this work are closely approximate to those of the earliest of the followers of Christian Rosencreuz, whose name was probably a mystic title, motto or synonym, and not a family cognomen:- “Christian” referring to the general theological tendency, and “Rosenkreuz” to the Cross of Suffering whose explanation and key may need a Rose or secret explanation.
There is one doctrine for the learned, and a simpler formula for those who are unable to bear it yet, even as the new testament itself tells us, of the Great Master who taught his immediate disciples the true keys, but to others he spake only in parables,–”and without a parable spake he not unto them.”
Such, my Fratres, are suitable subjects for the attention of your members, but there are many allied topics which might form suitable centres of interest and instruction, for example the whole range of church architecture as crystalised symbolism, the dogmas of the Gnostics, the several systems of philosophy of the Hindoos, the parallelism between Rosicrucian doctrine and Eastern Theosophy, for which read Max Heindel’s “Rosicrucian Cosmo Conception,” and that enticing subject, the origin and meaning of the 22 Trumps or symbolic designs of the “Tarocchi” or pack of Tarot cards, which Eliphaz Levi says form a group of keys which will unlock every secret of Theology and Cosmology. For such as are interested in the Alchemy of the past I recommend a perusal of “A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery” 1850, by an anonymous author, and E. A. Hitchcock’s “Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists,” 1857. And, lastly, we may make researches into that most interesting problem–Did Speculative Masonry arise from the Rosicrucians? I am to understand that the German Rosicrucians say that before the Masonic revival of 1717 these were identical in Europe.
Let us not forget; that not only as Rosicrucians, but even as Freemasons, we are pledged, not only to Brotherhood and Benevolence, but also to look below the surface of things, and to seek and to search out the hidden secrets of Nature and of Science. Let us be in mind that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but that deeper study reveals the roots of knowledge, as well as increases our store of information. Let us not, with folded arms, float with the tide of indolence, but ever strive after increase of that true knowledge which is wisdom and remember that “to labour is to pray,” or as the Latin motto has it, “Laborare est Orare,” for the day.