Masonic author Joshua Lorenzo Newett spent some time recently to talk about his new work of fiction, In Remembrance of Things Lost. Yet, as Joshua tells it, the work is underpinned with Masonic and esoteric themes that center on purpose, recovery and the story of one mans journey of becoming a Freemason, a journey that, in some respects may mirror the authors.
Masonic Traveler (MT): Joshua, thanks for taking the time to talk about yourself and your new book. Let’s start at the beginning, tell us, who Joshua Lorenzo Newett is?
Joshua Lorenzo Newett (JLN): Well here are the particulars. I am 36 years old, and am currently a lecturer at the Korean Navy Academy in Jinhae, South Korea, although I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a member of Pusan, Korea Lodge, No. 1675, on the Rolls of the Grand Lodge of Scotland as well as a member of the Seoul Valley of the Scottish Rite (SJ).
MT: How long have you studied Freemasonry? What led you there?
JLN: An uncle of mine is a Freemason so, from a young age, I’ve been aware and interested in the organization.
In high school and university I got into existential philosophy which asks all of the big questions: Where are we? What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why does it matter? What is the good life? Existential philosophy led me to the study of history and International Relations which eventually led me back to the original questions posed.
When I was thirty three I contact a member of Pusan Lodge via the internet and went to my first meeting.
In Remembrance of Things Lost by Joshua Lorenzo Newett
JLN: I originally started it as a first person narrative written from the vantage point of Count St. Germaine but that story-line took a back seat to a third person narrative about Thad Gordon, a boy who becomes troubled after his family moves from Walpole, Massachusetts to East Hampton, New York. He is a bit self-defeating in his undertakings and sabotages several important relationships in university. He becomes totally disillusioned and moves to Korea to sort of drink himself to death. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone so I won’t go any further.
MT: You mentioned in your initial inquiry that that the protagonist meets a man that may, or may not, be the legendary Count St. Germain who leads him to find Freemasonry which later helps him put his life in order. Would you say this is more a story about the journey, the destination or both?
JLN:I’d say this story is more about the journey. In most tales I find the journey is the most interesting part of the story. For example I recently read a book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, (The Devil in the White City) and while the fair was interesting the journey undertaken to bring it into existence was far more so.
MT: What inspired the book? What made you put pen to paper?
JLN: With all my books I try for three things; the reader learns something about the world at large, they relate to the characters and when the book is finished it stays with them, maybe even changes them in some small way. Ralph Waldo Emmerson said “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” I really believe that. Reading is such an intimate thing. It lets you occupy the same mental space as the author. For me there is nothing like finding an author I can really relate to. I guess at the end of the day that’s why I write.
My books usually start out as something completely different. I think the genesis of this one came years ago while I was reading Blood Meridian. The Judge Holden character leapt off the page. I loved the way Cormac McCarthy wrote him, how it was subtly suggested he may be immortal and have supernatural powers, but I didn’t like the way Holden, who was a real historical figure, represented the animalistic and base aspects of humankind. I wanted to create a similar character but make him more benevolent and nuanced. A few years later I was reading up on Count St. Germaine and I thought this guy is your Judge Holden.
Another aim I had in writing the book was to pique the curiosity of non-masons and get them interested in masonry.
MT: How so? What were some of the kernels of Masonry that you included?
JLN: First there are several images used, such as a description of a masonic ring. Thad picks up a thread with what may or may not have been the journal of CSM and follows it to his local lodge. He joins it then he joins the SR. I purposefully left the details sparse so if the readers’ interest was piqued they’d look for answers on their own.
MT: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
JLN: For me the hardest part about writing in general are the endless revisions. When I finish a first draft of a book I let it sit for a bit and then go back and reread it. For the most part I usually really like it and actually often surprise myself like “oh wow I wrote that? I don’t even remember writing that!” I like that a lot. Then comes the hard part, rewrites and revisions. I’ll do several rewrites and revisions before I send it away to my agent for an initial read. He’ll send it back with suggestions. Several more rewrites later I’ll send it to my editor, then when it comes back rewrite it again. That process repeats several times.
By the time the book is ready, I’ve read the material so many times I’m sickened at the thought of having to read it again.
MT: I totally get that feeling. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to shoot from the hip, but unless you’re a dead-eye, you end up with some pretty wild grammar. Any future book plans?
JLN: This is my third book. My second, Wine Tasting is Bullshit, will be out in December of 2016. I am also finishing the first draft of a new one tentatively titled Hiraeth about a great cataclysm that brings civilization to its knees and the survivors who restart and preserve the knowledge of the past. I’m also working on a concept album and an accompanying book of short stories about the fictional character of John Melhern (1898- 1983). The album and stories are about his life. A lot of it is about war. The time he spent in Europe in WWI, losing one of his sons in WWII, and his grandson being drafted into the Vietnam War. It’s also about the passage of time and his inability to understand what the world has become.
And of course there are a few loves stories thrown in for good measure.
MT: Joshua, thanks so much for taking the time to share your work with us. It sounds like a non-traditional take on some old traditional themes.
You can find Joshua Lorenzo Newett’s book, In Remembrance of Things Lost, in print and as an epub on Amazon. And, you can follow more of Joshua Lorenzo Newett’s work at his website, joshua-lorenzo-newett.com.
Robert V. Lund believes that The Hidden Code in Freemasonry: Finding Light through esoteric interpretation of Masonic Ritual is a book that should be read by all Freemasons. The work, he says, strives to provide a deeper understanding of the hidden information at work behind the scenes of the rituals of Freemasonry. What makes this book different, the author claims, is that it looks beyond the literal veil to the hidden code that underlies each of the craft rituals and the truer meaning of its ceremonies. I talked recently with Robert about his book in hopes of catching a peek behind the veil.
Masonic Traveler (MT): Let’s start at the beginning. Who is Robert Lund?
Rob Lund (RL): I am a Past Master of Kilwinning Lodge #565 of Toronto, Ontario (Canada), and currently serve as Secretary. I have served as Chairman of the Toronto West District Education Committee for a number of years and served one year in the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education. I am [the] editor of our Lodge newsletter and write at least one article for it every month. I also run our Lodge website.
I have written lectures on the esoteric meaning of our rituals and presented them numerous times throughout the district. I have also presented at one of the Ontario Masonic Education Conferences. I have had articles published in The Lightbearer, a magazine of the Canadian Theosophical Association.
MT: Do you belong to any other esoteric or initiate rites or bodies?
RL: I am a member of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC, and the President of the York Lodge of the Theosophical Society (founded by H. P. Blavatsky) and a member of the Board of the Canadian Theosophical Association. For a couple of years, I was a member of another masonic Rosicrucian order, the SRIA.
MT: How long have you studied Freemasonry?
RL: I’ve been a Mason for around ten years now. I always knew I would be a Mason since my early twenties but just never got around to pursuing it.
MT: What finally led you there?
RL: For the past forty years, I have been a seeker of truth: the truth behind religions (especially Christianity); the truth behind human origins, and the truth regarding our existence and purpose on earth. These interests go back to my teens. I’ve always felt that there is more to life, this world, and the universe than meets the eye and it’s only in the last decade that I started doing something about it.
The Hidden Code in Freemasonry: Finding Light through esoteric interpretation of Masonic Ritual
RL: My book [The Hidden Code in Freemasonry] is a product of my Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Theosophical journeys and it ties them together. It shows how the composers of our Masonic ritual have embedded information taken from the esoteric mystery traditions and teachings perpetuated for thousands of years, to be discovered by those who have eyes to see, and to be acted upon in order to fulfill their purpose. The book provides the evidence of this hidden “code” and gives a detailed analysis of the three craft degrees showing what these hidden messages are and what they mean. And, since knowing is of little avail without action, the book makes suggestions for next steps.
MT: Interesting. What inspired you to put pen to paper (or finger to keys)?
RL: All through the three degrees, I was waiting for the “secrets and mysteries of Ancient Freemasonry” to be revealed to me. They never came. I was disappointed enough to consider leaving Freemasonry.
All Masons talk about receiving light but, how many actually know what that means? How many actually actively seek further?
It was after reading certain Masonic authors such as Manley P Hall, JSM Ward, and more especially W. L. Wilmshurst, that I began to see the light. That’s when I started my own analysis of the craft degrees, using Rosicrucian and Theosophical teachings. My discoveries are what I want to share with all Masons because the underlying messages are very important to everyone.
MT: What was the hardest thing about writing it?
RL: Let me first tell you the easiest thing about writing this book: finding the material.
Over the years, as I learned things, I wrote articles and lectures and so the material was at hand. What was much harder was putting them together in a cohesive way in a structure that would make it readable. I had help from some of my Masonic Brethren which assisted in achieving this.
MT: I love the cover, is there any particular symbolism at work there?
RL: The cover photo is one of the many fine lodge rooms in the Detroit Masonic Center. I added the additional artwork.
The parchment background is to signify the contents being of ancient origins. The symbols signify the source of the knowledge (Theosophical, Rosicrucian, and Vedic).
MT: Plans for future books?
RL: I am working on another book that deals more specifically with the symbols within Freemasonry and its rituals. However, this will not be ready for quite some time.
Thanks for this Robert. I can’t wait to read the book and I wish you the best for its success.
The Research Lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri, AF&AM on September 30, 1941 under the direction of MWB Harry S. Truman with the purpose of gathering and disseminating historical information pertaining to the origin and development of Freemasonry and to its members who have contributed to its growth and development.
One of the projects the Missouri Lodge of Research is undertaking is the digitization of its rare holdings resulting in a number of works made available for download and reading on the secure issuu.com format. What makes this digital library unique is that it’s member and participant sponsored giving allows members the opportunity to contribute to this preservation and knowledge transfer work.
One of the annual events that the Missouri Lodge of Research sponsors is the Truman Lecture, which has hosted a number of notable Masons over the years on a wide of topics (you can find a list of them here). Most remarkable about series is that it represents Freemasonry in action, the act of presenting to its membership a breath of knowledge and information by some of the most notable speakers in the contemporary craft.
Membership to MOLoR is open to any Master Mason in or out of the state of Missouri. In-state members may participate as an active member giving them access to lectures and events in state. Out of state correspondent members receive MoLAR’s quarterly newsletter, an annual book selection published by the Lodge of Research and all of their other corresponding materials.
I found this piece on an old disc the other day. I wrote it as a piece of architecture to a, now, defunct Masonic Club here in Los Angeles – the Hermes Trismegistus Traditional Observance club in Culver City. It dates back to August 22, 2006, almost ten years to the day.
Reading through it, I thought it would be fun to share it again to see if it still holds it esoteric weight.
King Solomon’s Temple – A Symbol to Freemasonry
Solomon’s ancient temple was built a top Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem between 964 and 956 B.C.E. Its construction is chronicled in the First Book of Kings, which begins at the end of King David’s reign and the crowning of Solomon. As king, Solomon continues the task his father began which was to build the temple. The text tells us that God restricted David, having collected the materials to construct the temple, from building it because of the blood he shed at the conquering of Israel. Ultimately, Solomon completes work on the temple, which was built to house the Ark of the Covenant, and become “a glorious temple for which God was to dwell”. (1 Kings 8:13).
Chris Hodapp, in his manual Freemasons for Dummies, defines Solomon’s Temple as a representation of the individual Freemason, where both an individual man and the physical temple take “many years to build” as a “place suitable for the spirit of God to inhabit.” The work of a becoming a Freemason is, in my opinion, a metaphor to the construction of the temple. This definition is not far off the mark, but alone it says nothing of why this bold metaphor is used.
Through deeper explorations of this topic, I was lead to a broader understanding of the temple and its relevance to the Freemasonry we practice today. One path of that exploration led me to understand it from the perspective explored in the works of John Dee, Henry Cornelius Agrippa and Francesco Giorgi, each an important Renaissance philosopher.
In Dame Frances Yates text The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, she suggests that early Renaissance Cabalists felt the temple represented a definition of sacred geometry that was mirrored in the temple by reflecting a perfect and proportional measure made “in accordance with the unalterable laws of cosmic geometry.” These ideas formed from the work of Francesco Giorgi in De Harmonia Mundi, which drew in Vitruvian principals of Architecture and integrated the foundation of Christian Cabalism with the ideas from Hermetic study to create “connections between angelic hierarchies and planetary spheres” that [rose] “up happily through the stars to the angels hearing all the way those harmonies on each level of the creation imparted by the Creator to his universe, founded on number and numerical laws of proportion.”
These ideas are from an early Christian Cabala (c.1525), before the open appearance of Freemasonry, and Solomon’s temple, as we know it today. Building on the ides of Giorgi, Cornelius Agrippa explored the ideas of Alchemy, Hermetic, Neoplatonic and Cabalist thought, and wrote about them in his book De Occulta Philosophia (Three Books of Occult Philosophy), published in 1533. In this text, one important idea was that the universe was divided into three worlds (degrees), which consisted of an elemental world, a celestial world, and an intellectual world, each receiving influences from the one above it. The first world was believed governed by natural magic (element) and arranged substances “in accordance with the occult sympathies between them.” The second world is concerned with celestial magic that governed “how to attract and use the influences of the stars.” Agrippa himself calling it “a kind of magic mathematical magic because its operations depend on number.” The third world represented ceremonial magic “as directed toward the super celestial world of angelic spirits.” Beyond that, Agrippa says, is the divine itself. These ideas are not about the physical temple, but instead I see it representing an unseen or perhaps inner temple, the travel in what we call today the self.
This philosophy of this divine self, interacting with the magical principals I suggest, merged at that time into the then strong and intelligent stone mason guilds, blending their practical application of numbers and formulation with the exploration of the divine worlds that many worked to physically construct. These ideas were accepted and adopted into the early landmarks of Freemasonry where, I believe, that the temple was perceived as more than a representational place of being. Over time, as philosophy and understanding changed, much of the fraternity lost sight of why Solomon’s Temple was important, that it represented a more mystical and philosophical construct akin to Agrippa’s spheres. Its interpretation has, today, moved into a metaphorical position becoming a part of the metaphorical stage in which our craft is set. But by examining how the temple exists in our degrees today will see some of that connection to the Renaissance philosophy.
In modernity, King Solomon’s Temple, within Freemasonry, appears in each of the three degrees (or worlds) as different aspects within each degree. Within the first, it is represented as the ground floor, the allegorical entrance into the fraternity. The temple is not depicted as the complicated structure; instead it is as an unfinished edifice, which is implicit to the ritual. Like Agrippa’s first elemental sphere, the first degree of masonry is the initiate’s entry point into Freemasonry and its philosophy, giving the initiate the elemental components to start his formation, only the work is not the rough labor of the operative, but instead the work of the speculative.
The Second Degree makes use of the temples middle chamber, whose dual meaning represents the halfway point into the temple, and the halfway point of Freemasonry. But interestingly we are taught here that the second degree is the most important of the three degree, as it is here we are lead through the 15 steps from the ground floor to the middle chamber of King Solomon’s Temple, where we as masons are instructed on our “wages due and jewels.” The various adornments of the temple have a multifaceted meaning that is described in this degree, which again factor into the representation of the temple.
But what makes this degree so important to me is that it is not the middle chamber, but the odyssey across the three, five and seven steps to it that mark it as important. Across those steps we are taught about the three stages of human life, the five orders of architecture, and the seven liberal arts (amongst other things), and like Agrippa’s second sphere of celestial magic, its mathematical influence can be felt throughout.
This path is the important symbolic link to the temple, where our ritual goes so far to remind us that of the three degrees, the Fellowcraft is the one that applies “our knowledge to the discharge of our respective duties to God, our neighbor, and ourselves; so that when in old age, as Master Masons, we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent on a well spent life, and die in the hopes of a glorious immortality.” The importance being laid on the journey of a Fellowcraft.
The third degree, or the consequence of that well spent life, ultimately represents the Sanctum Sanctorum or, Holy of Holies, in King Solomon’s Temple. Mentioned at the end of the Fellowcraft, this is where the brother reflects on the “well spent life” by the rewards of his work. The symbolism here is that it is the deepest heart of the temple and the furthest attainment of a Freemason. It also is to represent the deepest penetration into the psyche of the man. This is also the pinnacle of the ritual without the further exploration of the additional rites. The Holy of the Holies is representational of the celestial realm defined by Agrippa, and is the closest sphere outside of the divine itself. It functions as the house of God, both literally in the constructed temple, and metaphorically within the newly raised Mason. This echoes the ideas mentioned by Giorgi and later expanded on by Agrippa and Dee. Dee’s further expansive ideas later went on to influence early Rosicrucian thought in a similar fashion.
Agrippa’s three worlds, I suggest, form (in part) the basis of the steps and the journey through King Solomon’s Temple through the degrees of Freemasonry. The presence of King Solomon’s Temple in ancient thought, from the earliest Old Testament writings to the pinnacle of renaissance occult philosophy has preserved it as an iconographic representation of the path to the divine. Solomon’s temple is not a solitary place in history, used as a simple metaphor in which to base an allegorical play. Instead, it is a link in early Christian Cabala and Hermetic thought, which is just as vital today, as it was then, to the tradition of Freemasonry. Still a metaphor but a more profound one whose importance is not often explored or represented in modern Masonic thought. Looking at the ideas of this renaissance philosophy, I believe that philosophy becomes squarely linked to the past, present, and future of Freemasonry and to King Solomon’s Temple.
Duncan, Malcom C., Duncan’s Ritual of Freemasonry. New York: Crown Publishers. 2005.
Hodapp, Christopher, Freemasons for Dummies. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2005.
The Holy Bible, NIV, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing. 1984.
MacNaulty, W. Kirk, A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol. London, Thames and Hudson. 1991.
Vitruvius, 10 Books on Architecture. Trans. Morgan, Morris Hickey. New York: Dover 1960.
Yates, Frances, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. London/New York: Routledge, 2003.
One of the greatest enigmas of contemporary Freemasonry, the Chamber of Reflection is a little-used aspect in the rituals of a newly made Mason. Yet, the symbolism of the Chamber has roots in Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and other occult traditions.
In the French and Scottish Rites, a small room adjoining the Lodge, in which, preparatory to initiation, the candidate is enclosed for the purpose of indulging in those serious meditations which its somber appearance and the gloomy emblems with which it is furnished are calculated to produce. It is also used in some of the advanced degrees for a similar purpose. Its employment is very appropriate, for, as Gädicke well observes,
It is only in solitude that we can deeply reflect upon our present or future undertakings, and blackness, darkness, or solitariness, is ever a symbol of death. A man who has undertaken a thing after mature reflection seldom turns back.
Manly P Hall, in his Secret Teachings of All Ages, writes of the use of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – beginning with the word VISITA and reading clockwise, the seven initial letters of the seven words inscribed in the outer circle read: VITRIOL. This is a very simple alchemical enigma but is a reminder that those studying works on Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, and Freemasonry should always be on the lookout for concealed meanings hidden either in Parables and allegories or in cryptic arrangements of numbers, letters, and words.
This seems fitting giving the present state of things in Freemasonry. Lux in Tenebris – From Darkness Comes Light.
Maundy Thursday, or also known as Covenant Thursday or simply Holy Thursday, is the annual Christian holy day that occurs on the last Thursday before Easter. It is a remembrance day for the last supper that Jesus and his twelve apostles, as was described in the canonical gospels, it is also for remembering The Maundy, which was the washing of the feet, particularly the Maundy that Jesus performed.
The moment when the Word was recovered; when the Cubical Stone was changed to the Mystic Rose; when the Blazing Sun reappeared in its entire splendor; the Columns of the Temple were re-established; and the Working Tools of Masonry restored; when True Light dispelled the Darkness and the New Love began to rule upon the earth.
On this day, Christians all around the world take time out of their day to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ, leading up the point of the last supper where he sat down with his apostles and shared food and wine, proclaiming that it was his body and blood.
The Last Supper – Champaigne,Philippe de (1602-1674)
The actual date of Maundy Thursday is between the 19th of March and the 22nd of April, however, these dates can fall on specific days depending on if it was the Gregorian calendar or the Julian calendar that is used. Eastern churches are generally using the Julian calendar and thus, celebrate Maundy Thursday between the 21st of April and the 5th of May.
In Western Churches, Maundy Thursday is when the Chrism mass is celebrated in every diocese, usually held in each diocese’s cathedral. This mass involves a bishop blessing chrism oils, oil of catechumens and oil of the sick. The Oil of chrism and catechumens will be saved until Easter Saturday where they will be used to bless the attendees of the mass.
There is an ancient tradition that on Maundy Sunday, you should visit 7 different churches, this is called the seven churches visitation, and this practice originated in Rome and is now practiced in many countries around the world.
The term Maundy is said to be a corruption of the Latin word mandatum – meaning “command.”
In a Masonic parlance, the Maundy Thursday is envisioned as a ceremony to commemorate the Extinguishing of the Symbolic Light, more specifically the crucifixion of the Christ in the gospel telling. On the immediate Sunday, there is a follow-up observance aptly called the Relighting of the Symbolic Light which marks the resurrection. The key point of this observance is to remember those brethren who have passed on in the preceding year. Where once these events were mandatory attendance events for Knight Rose Croix, in most locations they serve as remembrance events open to all.
While an observance event, the Maundy gathering in some respect serve to supplement the Rose Croix Chapter of the Scottish Rite in the 17th (Knight of the East and West) and 18th (Knight Rose Croix) degrees, both of which attempt to invest candidates with an understanding of Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and History. While seemingly a religious (Christian) observance, it’s been written that the observance seeks to “to commemorate the death of our most wise and perfect Master – not as inspired or divine, but as at least the greatest of humanity.” In one description of the event, Arturo De Hoyos says,
The Ceremony of Remembrance and Renewal, including the Mystic Banquet, is not a religious observance. It is neither the Feast of Passover nor a Sacrament of Holy Communion, although it commemorates the spirit of both days. Annually, the observance is held near the vernal equinox.
The ceremonies of Maundy Thursday made obligatory on each Rose Croix Chapter of the Scottish Rite, is a festival almost as old as the world, for it has been observed in some form or other from time immemorial. It began with early man’s naive wonder at the coming of spring, an event to him of the very greatest importance since it represented the return of the sun god from the death of winter to the resurrection of the vernal equinox. “The years at the spring,” that was his feeling, and this feeling took a thousand forms of expression, some of them magical, some religious, some of them a joyous human merry-making. Whatever the form the kernel of feeling remained the same; the god of light, warmth, and life, whatever may have been his name Mithra, Attis, Cama, Osiris, Ormuzd, Dionysus had been dead through the winter time, and now he had come back to life again, and would bestow life on his people, therefore there were solemn rejoicings.
The Symbolic Lights are Re-lighted; it is a time of rebirth, rehabilitation, regeneration and renewal of life and energy. Death and darkness have departed and the earth sings its joy of Love and of Living. What before was desolation of spirit and of thought, has the crucible of Light and the revivification of those for whom life had lost its meaning.
Just as the dark ages in Europe were followed by the Renaissance of learning, so had the new light of Easter come, bringing with it the new life of Love and understanding.
The new Commandment has been fulfilled.
This is a time, then, for each of us to search our Souls and see if we truly and devotedly are living the Life of Love —Not just in mere outward similitude. But in our innermost, personal, private lives. Are we — in business, at home, in our pastimes — living the life of the New Commandment? If we weigh ourselves in its light and find ourselves wanting. Then it is time for us to do something sincerely and devotedly about it.
Let us at the Symbolic Relighting of the Lights, dedicate ourselves to duty, renew our vows, so often repeated in our Rite, and lead the Life of Love, one to another, that our light will shine among men in the world, that we may be known truly as men and as Masons who mean eternal truths learned in our Rituals and who, by our personal acts and conduct, portray those meanings to their ultimate fulfillment.
Fellow of the Craft – a Treatise on the Second Degree of Freemasonry
The challenge has been in how to reveal something that is and should be already apparent and known. That is not meant as flippant or assuming. To the contrary, it is to express a sentiment we are each taught from the very earliest of days in our Masonic upbringing, that our progress is measured and celebrated in what we learn and how we grow from those lessons. That is the heart of what it means to be passed as a Fellow of the Craft.
That craft is the intangibility behind the scenes of doing Freemasonry. It’s in the catechism, the lessons of association and the mechanism by which good men become better. The intangibility comes in the day-to-day lessons of knowledge we gain and its byproduct of wisdom. Certainly, it has been written and codified in a myriad of teachings esoteric and exoteric, hidden in plain sight and cloaked in unintelligible symbols the meaning of which we devote lives to the study of.
So then, the becoming of a fellow is the degree of passing, the movement through time and space such that its transit is imperceptible and shapes our moral vantage point.
The importance of it all is in how we go about that transit. This is the heart of BECOMING – the path of time and space along the curve of the compass turn. In a more esoteric sense, it is the replication of the first which makes two – the same unit in its polar opposite, the Janus head or the opposite side of the same coin.
This understanding may seem unimportant, but that is not the case. It is as important as becoming the reflected image in the mirror who stares back in contemplation as one gazes into their soul. It is you, the same but no longer the Apprentice. It is as a fellow amongst many on that journey.
So would have begun the Fellow of the Craft. What was that alternate path? You can find that answer and more in the release of the new book Fellow of the Craft – a Treatise on the Second Degree of Freemasonry.
For the institution that proclaims no man speaks for Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Georgia (some 40,000 members strong) took a stand and made just such a proclamation. Their pronouncement, voted upon at a Grand Lodge session, was to proclaim that neither gay men not fornicators (people who have consensual sex out of wedlock) should be allowed admission to the fraternal institution.
The ironic thing is that it seems to be based on the application of an interpretation of the “Moral Law“ which is a theme grasped closely by many who agree with this decision.
The original edict, in a document signed by the Grand Master of Georgia, states (under GEORGIA) Masonic Code 77-108 that:
Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall be hereby amended to add that: Homosexual activity with anyone is prohibited conduct subjecting the offender to Masonic discipline, so that Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall hereafter read as follows:
2015 Masonic Code Section 77-108, Adultery or Fornication
Adultery or fornication with anyone subjects the offender to discipline, but where the women in question is known by the offender to be the wife, widow, mother, daughter, or sister of a Master Mason, there is the added guilt of the breach of a Masonic obligation, and the want of chastity on her part does not excuse the offender. Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline. SO ORDERED and given under my hand and seal as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia and under the seal of the said Grand Lodge, this 9th Day of September, 2015.
Douglas W. McDonald Grand Master
Joseph W. Watson, Grand Secretary
Their entry in the October edition of the Georgia Masonic Messenger (the original link since removed, but viewable here: Masonic Messenger 10 2015 ), the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia (on page 3) reads:
Masonic Code Section 71-102.1 authorizes the Grand Master to issue an Edict which would apply to a significant question or issue which may be enacted as Masonic Law by the Grand Lodge. Resting upon that authority, Edict 2015-1 was issued on September 8 declaring that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral law and Almighty God, the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that basic moral laws are not man-made Edicts or Decrees, but spring from the eternal justice and wisdom of Almighty God; Freemasons must constantly strive to keep their integrity intact, for it is our integrity that holds our way of life together, and when integrity is lost, all is lost; that good moral character is a pre-requisite for admission into Freemasonry and a strict observance of the moral law is essential for advancement and retention of good standing within the Fraternity; and the importance of the moral law as a fundamental principle of Freemasonry is exemplified by the fact that any act by one of its members involving a violation of the moral law is a Masonic offense, subjecting the offender to discipline; and that homosexuality is contrary to the moral law. The Edict concluded, Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.” Let us not forget that Webster’s Dictionary defines “irreligious libertine”* as a person who shows a lack of religion and is morally or sexually unrestrained.
This seems to be heavily influenced by a religious rhetoric.
The argument to the text above is that it was specifically written for Georgia Freemasons and not the broader landscape of Freemasonry in other states or countries.
So, theoretically, it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) apply to anyone other than those with the misfortune of living in the state of Georgia. Yet, to make such an edict on what they see as moral or immoral activity casts a VERY long shadow on an institution that prides itself in claiming it “good men better” or spreading the light of brotherly love in an otherwise darkened world. Is this really an issue of violating some invisible or philosophically plastic moral law? Or is it a means to apply a quasi-religious edict onto a subject that was just recently accepted as the law of the land? Is that an allowable stance for an organization to make, especially when it espouses a zero tolerance for religious and political dialog? Or, is it just another form of discrimination meant to foster a “them versus us” issue as a futile attempt to stand head and shoulders in the ranks of society.
The issue of fornication is equally puzzling given we exist in a modern age where civil society has most of the morality laws under control. With that said, its apparently not enough. Whatever the reason, it’s wrong; it’s stupid and blight on anyone or anything associated with the fraternity. Who are they to put into word and rule their disdain for the personal lives of its immediate members and the broader member community around the world to exert defacto judgment on what they do and who with?
Georgia Masonry should be called to reconcile this and be put out of the fold. To NOT disown them is to say that this act of moral social engineering is acceptable and that Freemasonry, as a body, has lost its way.
*Consequently, irreligious libertine, isn’t in the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the meanings behind Clandestine, Clandestine Lodge and a Clandestine Freemason.
The video, deals with the first two subjects, the third is a subject of much contention creating clear vernacular delineation of what IS and what IS NOT considered by the various denominations of the fraternity.
The ordinary meaning of this word is secret, hidden. The French word clandestin, from which it is derived, is defined by Boiste (Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste – Dictionnaire universel de la langue française, first published in 1800) to be something:
fait en cachette et contre les lois.
Translated to mean – done in a hiding-place and against the laws (or, as translated by Google Translate – made secretly and against laws), which better suits the Masonic signification, which is illegal, not authorized. Irregular is often used for small departures from custom.
The Frontispiece to Noorthouck’s 1784 Constitution.
A body of Masons uniting in a Lodge without the consent of a Grand Lodge, or, although originally legally constituted, continuing to work after its charter has been revoked, is styled a “Clandestine Lodge.” Neither Anderson nor Entick employ the word. It was first used in the Book of Constitutions in a note by Noortbouck, on page 239 of his edition (Constitutions, 1784). Irregular Lodge would be the better term.
One made in or affiliated with a clandestine Lodge. With clandestine Lodges or Masons, regular Masons are forbidden to associate or converse on Masonic subjects.
In the Book of Constitutions, Noortbouck’s comments read, first under the Abstract of the Laws Relating to the General Fund of Charity
IV, page ii:
No person made a mason in a private or clandestine manner, for small or unworthy considerations, can act as a grand officer or as an officer of a private lodge, or can he partake of the general charity.
Interestingly, they tell us their reasons:
And then Under the Making of a Mason (page 394 and 395), ART V
A brother concerned in making masons clandestinely, shall not be allowed to visit any lodge till he has made due submission, even though the brothers so made may be allowed.
and, ART VIII, page 395:
Seeing that some brothers have been made lately in a clandestine manner, that is, in no regular lodge, nor by any authority or dispensation from the grand master, and for small and unworthy considerations, to the dishonor of the craft; the grand lodge decreed, that no person so made, nor any of those concerned in making him, shall be a grand officer, nor an officer of a particular lodge; nor shall partake of the general charity, should they ever be reduced to apply for it.
From a Short Talk Bulletin, Vol.XIII, No, 12, from 1935 says definitively (for that time) that,
Today the Masonic world is entirely agreed on what constitutes a clandestine body, or a clandestine Mason; the one is a Lodge or Grand Lodge unrecognized by other Grand Lodges, working without right, authority or legitimate descent; the other is a man “made a Mason” on such a clandestine body.
Thank you for the strength, bravery, and dedication to fight so that I may have the opportunities I have today. I hope that I may live up to a fraction of the standard you set before me. I am in awe of your courage and your forethought for our freedom.
Happy 4th of July.
Should you need a little something to talk about over the holiday BBQ’s and the Firework celebrations, I wanted to share with you the role of Freemasonry and our Freedoms today.
Freemasonry may not have created the Declaration of Independence, but its principals of equality, brotherly love, and democracy influenced its very essence.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others. Thomas Paine – Common Sense, February, 1776
“Gentlemen, All though it is not possible to foresee the consequences of human actions, yet it is nevertheless a duty we owe ourselves and posterity in all our public councils to decide in the best manner we are able and to trust the event to That Being who governs both causes and events, so as to bring about his own determinations.
Impressed with this sentiment, and at the same time fully convinced that our affairs will take a more favorable turn, The Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve all connection between Great Britain and the American Colonies, and to declare them free and independent States as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you.” John Hancock – Cover letter to the Declaration of Independence Philadelphia, July 6, 1776
In Masonic terms, only 9 of the 56 men who signed it were Freemasons.
William Ellery Rhode Island Oct. 12 and/or Oct. 25 of 1748 St. John’s Lodge of Boston -First Lodge of Boston, 1748
Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania St. John’s Lodge of Philadelphia, 1731 – Grand Master of Pennsylvania, 1734
John Hancock Massachusetts July 4, 1776 & Aug 2, 1776 became a Mason in Merchants Lodge No. 277 in Quebec, affiliated with Saint Andrew’s Lodge in Boston, 1762
Joseph Hewes or Howes North Carolina Aug 2, 1776? Unanimity Lodge No. 7, visited in 1776, and buried with Masonic funeral honors
William Hooper North Carolina Aug 2, 1776? Member of Hanover Lodge in Masonborough, N.C.
Thomas McKean Delaware 1781 listed as visitor to Perseverance Lodge in Harrisburg, PA
And, 3 (of 13) Freemasons who were true patriots who risked everything for our nation’s freedom. They are less known than most, but they contributed greatly to the creation and preservation of our country.
Bro. Samuel Nicholas: Commissioned by Congress to organize and train five companies of marine forces, skilled in the use of small and large firearms, to protect America’s ships at sea. During the winter of 1776–77, his units provided for Washington’s small army, crossing the Delaware River at Trenton, fighting in the Battle of Princeton. He is considered the first Commandant of the Marine Corps, exemplifying the Marine motto Semper Fidelis.
Bro. John Glover: Head the Marblehead Regiment, he successfully engaged the British at sea and, later, triumphed over severe odds to evacuate the desperate remnants of Washington’s army from Long Island to Manhattan.
Bro. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenburg: The Episcopal priest and ardent patriot who is quoted as saying int he closing of a sermon “There is a time for all things—a time to preach and a time to pray; but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come.” Then removing his clerical robes, revealing his Colonel’s uniform.
How we achieved our independence?
The final battle in the Revolutionary War was in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia.
Washington learned that a French fleet was sailing toward North America and decided to plan a combined French and colonial attack against the British forces in Yorktown. The attack captured the British Army. The British could not get supplies by sea because of the French fleet and they could not retreat by land because of the French and colonial troops.
On October 17, 1781 the British Army surrendered. King George did not want it to be the last battle of the war, but Parliament decided that the loss was too costly. U.S. and British leaders signed the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783 which ended the war.
The full text reads:
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton