In this episode we look at the definition of what the masonic apron represents. Of the many emblems of Freemasonry, none is more iconic that the lambskin apron.
Alien outside of the lodge, under the tiled lodge it represents the totality of what it means to be a Mason. It’s said to be more noble than the Roman Eagle or the Golden Fleece, the Masonic apron is literally, the badge of a mason carried with him into the next existence.
Albert Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, says of the apron:
There is no one of the symbols of Speculative Masonry more important in its teachings, or more interesting in its history, than the lambskin, or white leather apron. Commencing its lessons at an early period in the Mason’s progress, it is impressed upon his memory as the first gift which he receives, the first symbol which is explained to him, and the first tangible evidence which he possesses of his admission. Whatever may be his future advancement in the “royal art,” into whatsoever deeper arcana his devotion to the mystic institution or his thirst for knowledge may subsequently lead him, with the lambskin apron — his first investiture — he never parts. Changing, perhaps, its form and its decorations, and conveying at each step some new but still beautiful allusion, its substance is still there, and it continues to claim the honored title by which it was first made known to him, on the night of his initiation, as “the badge of a Mason.”
In this episode of Symbols and Symbols we examine the Masonic symbol of the beehive, a symbol that Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, calls a symbol of an obedient people. In masonic parlance, the symbol is more recognizable as an emblem industry. The Master Mason degree says of the beehive that it is an emblem of industry, and “recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile of the dust.” Yet, as Mackey explains, the emblem is much, much, more.
A symbol that Albert Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, says “was among the Egyptians the symbol of an obedient people”, because, as he quotes Horapollo, “…of all insects, the bee alone had a king,” what we know now to be a queen. Mackey continues “Hence looking at the regulated labor of these insects when congregated in their hive, it is not surprising that a beehive should have been deemed an appropriate emblem of systematized industry. Freemasonry has therefore adopted the beehive as a symbol of industry, a virtue taught in the instructions, which says that a Master Mason” works that he may receive wages, the better to support himself and family, and contribute to the relief of a worthy, distressed brother, his widows and orphans. In the Old Charges, which tell us that “…all Masons shall work honestly on working days, that they may live creditably on holidays.”
There seems, however, to be a more recondite meaning connected with this symbol. The ark has already been shown to have been an emblem common to Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries, as a symbol of regeneration—of the second birth from death to life. Now, in the Mysteries, a hive was a type of ark. “Hence,” says Faber (Origin of Pagan Idolatry, volume ii, page 133), “both the diluvian priestesses and the regenerated souls were called bees; hence, bees were feigned to be produced from the carcass of a cow, which also symbolized the ark; and hence, as the great father was esteemed an infernal god, honey was much used both in funeral rites and in the Mysteries.”
Having just finished Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods, I feel as though I’ve been walking in the footsteps of the gods, and it’s made me a believer.
Seldom do I binge watch more than a few TV episodes at a time. When I do, it feels like an information overload that makes the whole thing hard to process and nearly impossible to enjoy. The same could be said for books and reading. When I finish one book on a particular subject I like to move on to another, to cleanse the mental palate and process what I just read.
I thought about this when I picked up Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods. Fingerprints was one of those books I’d spent the better part of 30 years avoiding just out of sheer will because, I had thought, it was an alt-history cavalcade and the well-spring of countless conspiracy, cryptozoology and pre-history anecdotes. This hesitancy in picking up Fingerprints was on the heels of an Art Bell fascination and right around the time I became a Freemason.
Still, like the mantra emblazoned on Fox Mulder’s poster — I wanted to believe.
The idea of a pre-history has always fascinated me. I had my own theories from history courses in college. Early on, I considered a minor in Greek and Roman art history, but sufficed myself on being an armchair historian consuming academic and literary explorations of ancient history. Field work on the subject, however, wasn’t in the cards.
But all the while, nagging at the back of my brain (along with Fingerprints maybe) was the notion that the timeline of history couldn’t possibly be sufficient to achieve some of the marvels that spawned out of a few short centuries only to go so silently quiet.
So, I’d passed on Fingerprints… and waited. I waited so long I had, for the most part, forgotten about it and lost myself in studying Freemasonry. Fingerprints of the Gods had receded so far in my head that when I caught a YouTube video with Graham Hancock presenting his ideas and theories, it all came back to me such that, within a week I was out at my local book seller buying a new copy to start reading on the spot.
So, in the span of a few weeks, I consumed Fingerprints of the Gods, feeling as though I was right there with Graham climbing the steps of the Giza pyramid and digging around in the water worn stone of the Sphinx. Reading it slowly, I measured every word of every chapter and gave considerable thought to the ideas he put forth — ideas, I’ll add, that while on the fringe of academic study, are not outside the philosophical reality as they intersect the realms of the history before history. Isn’t that part of the great mysteries of the human species? How did we build the pyramids? Why did we build them?
In Fingerprints of the Gods, Hancock sets the theoretical stage for a cataclysmic event at about the period of Younger Dryas (about 14,500 years ago) that wiped out a civilization more advanced than its contemporary hunter-gatherer counterparts. His theory is that this civilization, in collapse, struck out across the globe establishing megalithic monuments and reorganizing the hunter-gathers enclaves they encountered into porto-civilizations turning them into agricultural-socities. Hancock’s theory in Fingerprints was an earth crust displacement that moved and sizable landmass from a habitable zone into an inhospitable one — destroying in an instant an ancient advanced civilization. Upon its demise, this great civilization fled the disaster zone and seeded themselves around the globe erecting megalithic monuments to memorialize the event and warn subsequent generations of the cataclysm that happened to them and it’s recurrence in the future.
Immediately I was sucked into the text with the mention of an ancient map accurately depicting the coastline of Antarctica. It was compelling, and took me down the rabbit hole I’d so long resisted — loving every word of it. While some of the conclusions were broad in their scope, I had to admit that the conclusions were plausible and worth greater consideration. Why couldn’t a species that’s been on the planet only have created a “modern” society in barely the last 7,000 years. Personally, I don’t take this to mean there were flying machines in antiquity or weapons of mass destruction that wiped out society. But, notion of history before history was just as intoxicating to think about in consideration of the imaginings from the sundry religious texts Hancock sites as parallels to his theories.
Finishing Fingerprints, I was compelled to immediately start reading his follow up book Magicians of the Gods.
Written in the same mesmerizing fashion as his earlier work, Magicians was different. Published 22 years after Fingerprints, Magicians of the Gods felt in one hand a mia culpa (on the earth crust displacement and link to the Mayan calendar 2012 debacle) and a in the other a substantiation on the cataclysm of the Younger Dryas period, illiterated across the globe in the surviving (and reachable) megalithic structures, in particular the nascent discovery of Gobekli Tepe in the Anatolia region of Turkey. As in his earlier work, Hancock paints an even greater detailed picture of the province of ancient antediluvian culture. In Magicians of the Gods, with the aid of science and observational inputs, Hancock adds further mass to his scaffold of an ancient civilization being wiped from the memory of time. I don’t want to give too much away but Hancock’s arguments are compelling and worthy of deep consideration and, dare I say, exploration further.
A point in the work I did find of great interest was a reference in the text to the esteemed Masonic author Timothy Hogan and his observational analysis of marks in Temple of Bacchus in Lebanese megalithic structure at Baalbeck. Another was, much to my surprise, was a broad weaving in of the Hermetic texts, expounding the very oft mentioned “as above, so below” but with great consequence in his meaning. In a very brief encapsulation, resting on Hermetica, the thrust of his hermetic connection is that the universe affects life on Earth, and the Earth reflects the effect of the universe upon it. This reflection is encoded in the megalithic monuments of that share uncanny similarities in their construction and in the sheer mass of their existence from a time before recorded history.
In a general reference, Hancock writes of the cataclysmic events that they were,
…embedded in myths and legends and in mathematical and architectural precepts that would be passed on and renewed again and again by the different cultures that received them, thus boosting the signal and allowing it to remain intact for thousands of years. Even if those through whose hands and minds the signal passed no longer understood its meaning, the weight of sacred tradition, hoary with age would ensure that they were continued to transmit it and would do their utmost to keep it free from interference.
Throughout Magicians, Hancock seems reflective of what on what he’s discovered — different than the tone of the Fingerprints when the reporter turned author was carving out a Hyperborean like view of humankind emerging out of the era of hunter-gathers in the prehistoric Clovis period. Maybe the reflectiveness comes at the realization of what he’s proposing is very real and, again, set in a framework of a very clear and present danger in the annual annual passing through the Taurid meteor showers.
Yet, the cycle of the universe moves slowly, and the mysteries of processional time and the rise and fall of the human species is forgetful — it’s an informational overload at a glacial pace. Hancock’s declaration may be a solitary voice in the wilderness with the message of Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods. But science, it seems, is teasing points of validation to both works, if even in validating ancient comet strikes or finding ancient megalithic sites bedecked in astronomical corollaries dating to near the period of the Younger Dryas event. Hancock made me a believer, or at least validates my suspicions of ancient history and the history before history, whether upon the shores of Antarctica or the now underwater regions submerged in the great flood, a point Hancock brings into full focus with the mystery of Atlantis.
Yes, it’s extraordinary. Yes, it’s a lot to take in. And, no, it isn’t a scientific treatise. Fingerprints of the Gods, and it’s follow up Magicians of the Gods, are fantastical works about the fluid history past, present and future of humankind. And, just as Hermetica (and Hancock in the conclusion) reminds us,
The forces do not work upward from below, but downward from above…All the world which lies below has been set in order and filled with contents by the things which are placed above… The source of all earthly things are on high: those sources pour forth upon us by fixed measure and weight; and their is nothing that that has not come down from above.
Graham Hancock knows it, his Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods illustrates the points. You should probably know it, too. Even if you have to binge read it like I did.
In this episode of Masonic Symbols and Symbolism, we explore the symbolism behind the Volume of Sacred Law as used in Freemasonry. Few elements are as contentious as this “indispensable book” in the lodge. Perhaps because of the diversity of faiths who claim ownership of the “one true religion…” Whatever the case, Freemasonry being the religion upon which all men agree. So which Volume of the Sacred Law is the right one?
What holy book does your lodge place on the altar? Let us know in the comments below.
Taken from The Builder magazine from 1920, it says “As the Trestle Board is for the Master to lay lines and draw designs on to enable the brethren to carry on the intended structure with regularity and propriety, so the Volume of the Sacred Law may justly be deemed the spiritual trestle board of the Great Architect of the Universe in which are laid down such divine laws and mortal precepts that were we conversant therewith and adherent thereto they would bring us to an ethereal mansion not built with hands but one eternal in the heavens.”
The Volume of the Sacred Law is considered one of the landmarks of Freemasonry and Albert Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, defines it as “an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge.” “Advisedly,” he says, “a Book of the Law, because it is not absolutely required that everywhere the Old and New Testaments.”
Mackey goes on to say, “The Book of the Law is that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the Universe. Hence, in all Lodges in Christian countries, the Book of the Law is composed of the Old and New Testaments; in a country where Judaism was the prevailing faith, the Old Testament alone would be sufficient; and in Islamic countries, the Koran might be substituted.
Masonry does not attempt to interfere with the particular religious faith of its disciples, except so far as relates to the belief in the existence of God, and what necessarily results from that belief. The Book of the Law is, to the speculative Mason, his spiritual Trestle board; without this he cannot labor; whatever he believes to be the revealed will of the Grand Architect constitutes for him this spiritual Trestleboard, and must ever be before him in his hours of speculative labor, to be the rule and guide of his conduct. The Landmark, therefore, requires that a Book of the Law, a religious code of some kind, purporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form in essential part of the furniture of every Lodge.”
In its most distilled essence, one could interpret the idea of the Book of Law, as an amalgam of all sacred texts (in so far as all faiths are represented) or, as in some iterations of Freemasonry, as a blank book that is emblematic of all faiths including non-traditional acknowledgements of agnostics, hermetic, pagan or even perhaps atheism.
The modern incarnation of Freemasonry dates to around 1717, but, was that truly the beginning of the “ancient” and honorable fraternity?
The history of modern Freemasonry is fairly understood, going back to roughly the 1700’s. Beyond that point in time, information starts to become less available. Their are some documents and notable figures prior to that point in time, such as the Regius/Halliwell poem, and notables like Elias Ashmole, but no certifiable records exist to demonstrate organized activity as we have today.
One of the virtues of Freemasonry is that its study and practice allow members to explore this topic, and at times travel outside the bounds of connections typically explored in mainstream history. Some Masonic historians have attempted to draw connections to the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian’s, Jewish Kabbalah traditions, Hermetica, Alchemy, Christian Mysticism, and to much further back to the precursor Essenes at the time of Jesus. These explorations have been considered in both the past and present Masonic scholarship to varying degrees of acceptance, but many points of contention remain.
In present day, Freemasonry has little changed in the preced-ing 200 years since the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England, and is modeled in a system that was likely little changed for the 150 years prior to that. It is believed that the working aspects of Freemasonry, the form and function of the lodge, comes from the stone working guilds of the European Renaissance and middle ages which, over time as that trade profession became less specialized, attracted new members of non practicing “speculative masons.”
From that shift, the present day fraternity moved from an “operative” guild to a “speculative” one in that the function of the lodge turned to the allegorical and symbolic meanings of the stone masons and less about the physical operation. These changes have evolved to shape the look and feel of modern lodge operation today.
What is Freemasonry hiding? Is there some great mystery at work in the secret workings of the Masonic Lodge? Why are Freemasons so Secretive?
Many masons will not answer questions about the fraternity as they believe it is supposed to be a secret. In the end this becomes a loss for the fraternity as any time someone asks a question about Masonry, it’s a great opportunity to talk openly about it.
A common reaction to this idea is that Masonry is a “Society with Secrets”, rather than a “Secret Society”, but this is equally confusing. There are aspects to Freemasonry that are kept and taught to only those who go through the initiations and ceremonies so as to keep them in a proper perspective and contextual meaning. These aspects are not secrets but instead knowledge that is best communicated in a specific and concise manner.
Many of the secrets have been published and written about, in many instances by Freemasons themselves, but the foundations of the teachings can be found throughout the spectrum of faiths and philosophical teachings of the past and present. It is in the process of their teaching that it could be best suggested where they are truly secret.
One of the oldest fraternities in the western world, a Freemason is the common name for those initiated into the fraternity of Freemasonry. But, what elements are at work in ones decision to become a one?
From the What is Freemasonry ebook, a Freemason is a man who, in searching for life’s ineffable questions, finds his way into the company of fellow seekers. Comprised of men from every nation, races, social and economic level, all hold similar ideals and beliefs.
The uniting idea is a faith in the divine founded in the certitude in an afterlife. This “belief” is grounded by certain landmark tenants and virtues which ultimately lead in exploration of those invisible questions, leading ultimately to the betterment of all mankind.
In Masonic circles, few names carry the weight that comes with the eminent that of Albert Gallatin Mackey. Mostly known as a Masonic historian, author, and scholar, Mackey was also an educator and a medical doctor prior to his lifting the Masonic pen. Yet, this great accomplishments are eclipsed in the shadow of two of his biggest achievements in collecting and publishing Masonic wisdom and knowledge in his magnum opus, the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, in 1873, and through his Masonic periodical works including The Southern and Western Masonic Miscellany — a project he maintained at his own expense, in 1852. Although Mackey’s life work centered on Freemasonry, it didn’t start out that way — beginning with much simpler objective that would come to fuel his passion for chronicling the world of Freemasonry.
Born on March 12, 1807, in Charleston, South Carolina, a young Albert Mackey began his working career as an educator. Once through his studies, Mackey worked as a teacher to earn the resources necessary to attend medical school. Upon completion, Mackey returned to Charleston to begin his life. After twenty years of practicing medicine (1834-1854), he left the profession in order to become a full-time author writing about a variety of subjects but in particular about the Middle Ages, language, and Freemasonry.
An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1916
Mackey was initiated into Saint Andrews Lodge No. 10 in Charleston, South Carolina in 1841 where he moved through the lodge chairs. Mackey went on to associate with Solomon’s Lodge, No. 1, in Charleston where, 1842, he was elected “Worshipful Master.” He then held the position of Grand Secretary from 1842 until 1867. Albert Mackey went on to hold numerous positions and to be affiliated with numerous other Masonic Lodges.
In the time that he was affiliated with Freemasonry, Mackey produced many different works about the fraternity. His first Masonic piece, A Lexicon of Freemasonry, was published in 1845. He then wrote The Mystic Tie in 1851, History of Freemasonry in South Carolina in 1861 and, in 1874, the opus he is most known for, the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. At different intervals, Mackey edited the Western Masonic Miscellany (1849-54), the Masonic Quarterly Review (1857-58), the American Freemason (1859-60), Mackey’s National Freemason (1871-74) and the Voice of Freemasonry (1875-79). Said of Mackey and his work to encapsulate the Masonic landmarks:
…his reduction to writing of twenty-five principles of Masonic law, whether or no they are all true landmarks, was a feat of no mean proportions. His list gave other Masonic thinkers a solid foundation from which to take off on expeditions into what was then an unexplored Masonic field. (read more of variations of the landmarks under Masonic Symbols)
After a long and illustrious career, Albert Gallatin Mackey passed away in Fortress Monroe, Virginia, on June 21, 1881. Said before the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction by Past Georgia Grand Master Henry Buist at Mackey’s eulogy:
He was a fearless and gifted speaker; his language was courteous and manner dignified; and occasionally, in his earnestness to maintain what he conceived to be right, he became animated and eloquent. Positive in his convictions, he was bold in their advocacy. His course of action once determined on, supported by an approving conscience no fear or disfavor or discomfiture could swerve him from his fixed purpose. Whatever was the emergency, he was always equal to it. Where others doubted. he was confident; where others faltered, he was immovable; where others queried, he affirmed. He was faithful to every public and Masonic duty. Treachery found no place in his character. He never betrayed a trust. He was eminently sincere and loyal to his friends, and those who were most intimately associated with him learned to appreciate him the most. He was generous and frank in his impulses, and cherished malice toward none, and charity for all. His monument is in the hearts of those who knew him longest and best. He is no longer of this earth. His work among men is ended; his earthly record is complete.
In 2001, the Scottish Rite Research Society established the Albert Gallatin Mackey Award for Lifetime Achievement and Excellence in Masonic Scholarship. The lifetime achievement award is given to individuals whose works have received longstanding universal recognition by Masonic scholars and the excellence in Masonic scholarship is presented to individuals whose original works published by the society are distinguished by their superior achievement.
How many of us understand what Hermetic thought is, beyond the idea of “hermetically sealed”?
Some time back I attended a lecture, presented by a lodge here in Southern California, by Dr. Stephan Hoeller, the Gnostic “Bishop” of Los Angeles. His title, I assure you, is not a pun or insult, but a very fitting description to a very intelligent man.
The lecture was on The Hermetic Foundations of the American Republic, which essentially suggested that the ideas and efforts of the founding fathers were the result of a broader subcurrent of the intelligentsia within society and whose ideas manifested themselves into the early documents and foundation of the American Republic.
But first, a note on Hermetic thought
A tradition of knowledge said to date into Ancient Egypt, Hermetic thought is associated with the god Thoth, who the Greeks later related to Hermes. Thoth’s title (one of many) was three times great, which the Greeks translated to Hermes Trismegistus or the thrice great Hermes, and who is believed to be the author of the Emerald Tablet, and Asclepius, within the hermetic texts.
It’s thought that Hermeticism flourished in ancient Alexandria, but moved underground and fell out of common knowledge with the fall of Rome and the onset of the middle ages.
The Renaissance brought about this resurgence of knowledge, including a rediscovery of Hermetic texts (see the Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation, with Notes and Introduction), brought to Europe by the Medici family from sources in Byzantium. What these texts contained were ancient ideas of wisdom that talked in detail about a dual nature to man and his pursuit to unify them. The two sides were made up of a human lower self that includes feelings, thoughts, sensation, and ego, the human traits we recognize today. The other half consisted of the spirit, that intangible, ineffable thing that gives us that higher conscience. Its efforts were to cultivate the conscious coming together of the initiates self with his spirit.
The idea within Hermetics was the joining of the two, the transformation of two separate elements into a new one. Some believe that Hermetic tradition survived the fall of Rome and the middle ages in the mystical field of Alchemy, which has existed in different forms for many centuries.
With the dawning of the Renaissance, so too brought the return of Hermetic thought which began to seep into Christian tradition. This movement was quickly stamped out by the doctrinal inquisition, which has since walled itself off from and philosophical idea of a personal God consciousness. Some examples of this era of sanitization of this transformative self, he suggests, could be seen in the extermination of both the Templars and Cathars in France. But again, the ideas did not die, nor were they eradicated. The Hermeticists moved underground into the “secret societies” of the age, two of those societies were the Rosicrucian’s and the other was Freemasonry.
One of the traits of Hermetic study was a progression of steps, or degrees, where the initiated would learn different aspects of the knowledge slowly to cultivate the eventual merger into the self, which was the physical and mental awakening of the God conscious, epitomized in the phrase “Know Thyself.”
So this unconscious cognition moved though Europe finding a receptive home in England where it was nurtured and incubated amidst revolution and religious freedom, away from the Catholic Church.
So what does this have to do with the foundation of America?
Many of the ideas, inherent in the fabric of our country within our constitution, have direct connections to the tenants of Hermetic thought. One such connection is the separation of Church and State. Hermetic tradition says that the individual chooses his path to the divine, and is not directed or influenced one way or another. Freedom of religion here is a direct extension of this idea, that the state is the vessel of the people and should not dictate one faith by presuming authority of one faith or another. The initiated must find his self and not be told where or what it is.
Public education is an extension of the Hermetic idea of finding the god consciousness, though the exploration of the physical universe. How does one attain this consciousness, by learning about their physical universe and its furthest reaches. Education creates the “divine metal” of the body, giving it its strength and resiliency.
And lastly, the three branches of government work in conjunction of opposites striving to find a balance for the good of the body, the ultimate attainment of the self.
The lecture made some interesting links and offered some tantalizing food for thought. Somewhere within our collective body of knowledge, behind the fog of memory, lay the history of Freemasonry.
This comes from a Feedback comment to the website. While impossible to verify the veracity of the details, I re-post this with the intent of designating information. The news of this comes as my own concerns have begun to stir as threads of Nationalism have started to be insidiously woven into the American fabric. For those who question this need only look at the brief examples of Freemasons under nationalistic (read fascist) governments.
The following comes from Libero Muratore, who starts, “Please help us spread this:”
Freemasons’ Civil-Rights violation in Italy
A serious discrimination of Freemasons belonging to the four main Italian Masonic Organization is taking place in these hours.
The Italian Parliamentary Committee on Organized Crime (Commissione Parliamentary Antimafia) has seized the lists of all Freemasons belonging namely to the Grande Oriente d’Italia , Gran Loggia d’Italia degli ALAM, Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia and Serenissima Gran Loggia d’Italia, in the regions of Sicily and Calabria. These lists include over 4000 names and personal data. The Parliamentary Committee justified this act on the basis of the presence of a high concentration of Freemasons in the two regions of Italy with the highest rate of organized crime.
Italian magistrates and investigators have been enquiring on the connections between criminal organizations such as Sicilian mafia and ‘ndrangheta of Calabria with businessmen, civil-servants and local politicians who in some cases are also Freemasons. During these investigations magistrates have obtained the names of the Freemasons connected with the criminal organizations both through voluntary collaboration of the Masonic organizations involved or through issuing search warrants for their headquarters.
Investigations were limited to the member of Masonic organizations closely related to the people charged with connection with organized crime. But in these days the Parliamentary Committee on Organized Crime led by On. Rosy Bindi (Democratic Party – formerly member of the defunct Christian Democratic Party ) has unanimously taken on a new and unprecedented road to what they call the truth. During hearings in front of the Parliamentary Committee, the Grand Masters of the above mentioned four major Masonic organization of Italy (out of a total of over one hundred smaller Masonic groups) were asked to produce the lists of all the Freemasons in Sicily and Calabria, in spite of the strict laws on privacy. At their denial to comply the Committee issued on March 1, 2017, a search warrant for their headquarters and the lists were finally seized. The Committee strategy, although On. Bindi declared that the names of Freemasons will be kept secret and not handed over to the press, seems to consist in an indiscriminate and utterly general investigation of Freemasons in order to file preventively whoever is in a position to commit any possible illicit act or abuse of power.
Moreover various members of this Committee, specifically Sen. Davide Mattiello (Democratic Party) and On. Claudio Fava ( independent left-wing Member of the Parliament) are submitting to the Parliament different draft laws aimed to limit the rights of Freemason, stating incompatibility between Masonic Brotherhoods and almost any job in the Italian Public Administration, from the army and law enforcement to civil-servants and university professors and researchers.
At the same time one of the leading Italian magazines, l’Espresso from Feb. 10, 2017 – Aboliamo la Massoneria, has recently published a long article invoking a total ban on Freemasonry and a close control on service clubs such as Lions International, Rotary Club and Kiwanis, all accused to be in some way connected to Freemasonry.
Apart from this exploit the rest of the Italian paper press and tv and radio media has been almost silent with the exception of the Radio Radicale web site which is hosting the audio-recordings of all the Parliamentary Committee hearings with the Grand Masters.
As it is to be expected the rest of information on the subject is currently left to a cloud of conspiracy theory web-sites and blogs. It is apparent that the action taken by the Parliamentary Committee on Organized Crime against Freemasons in general represents an arbitrary interference in the private life of citizen without any justified reason, apart that of belonging to what are still fully legal organizations and it is endorsing unjustified rage against Freemasons. The Grand Master of the Grande Oriente d’Italia has even expressed concerns over possible terrorist attacks targeting Masonic Temples after such an appeal appeared on Dabiq, the caliphate magazine.
This conduct clearly represents an attempt of mass surveillance and a violation of articles 12, 18, 19 , 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Parliamentary Committee on Organized Crime has the same enquiring powers of any ordinary magistrate, but it’s not subject to any higher authority since it is composed by Members of the Parliament, thus precluding any possibility of appeal and any right to defense.
Thousands of Freemasons in southern Italy struggle every day against organized crime and corruption conditioning business and politics, it’s not the presence of a few rotten apples that can justify the mass filing of free citizens. We appeal to everyone who cherish the global respect of Civil-Rights to follow up and watch closely the current situation in Italy.