“Freestone as it comes out of the of the quarry.” – Bailey. In Speculative Masonry we adopt the ashlar in two different states, in the Apprentice’s Degree.
The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, is emblematic of man in his natural state – ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious. But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and purifying his life, he then is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skillful hands of the workmen, has been smoothed, and squared, and fitted for its place in the building. In the older lectures of the eighteenth century the Perfect Ashlar is not mentioned, but its place was supplied by the Broached Thurnel.
This follow up book to my 2010 project Masonic Traveler – Essays and Commentary is a different approach to understanding the importance and meaning behind the First Degree of Freemasonry.
Taking the approach from the Scottish (French) Rite degrees, this work explores the nuance of symbolic initiation lost in the contemporary system at work in much of the main-stream practice. By using the Scottish Rite First Degree, the meaning and process of the masonic initiation takes on new dimensions why compared to Albert Pike’s First Degree treatise in Morals and Dogma. It is that dimension that this work seeks to explore celebrating the art and history behind the initiation process.
The idea behind this work is that the degree, whether intentional or as a byproduct of revision and deconstruction, is a metaphorical entry point onto the Tree of Life from the mystical tradition of the Kabbalah. That, the first degree, when examined next to the works of other esoteric writers, becomes the foundation degree of initiation as it blossoms into a rich allegorical journey from chaos into order.
While not a tell-all expose into Freemasonry, the work, at a deeper level, is an attempt to understand what it means to BECOME a Freemason.
In this work are:
Two never before seen original poems by the author
Original Art envisioning the meaning of the initiation
Three explorations of the work
Notes to support the thesis
An interesting note, all aspects of the book from its creators hand. Not a pain stream or commercially published work, its creation is with an artisanal work as the product of a loving devotion to the medium and subject matter. Also interesting about the book is that this work is the first of three to round out three ineffable degrees of the fraternity taking us ever higher into the allegorical tree of life.
And, with this announcement I want to publicly thank those who invested in the work through Kickstarter. So, a big round of thinks to:
The term which Freemasons apply to each other. Freemasons are Brethren, not only by common participation of the human nature, but as professing the same faith; as being jointly engaged in the same labors, and as being united by a mutual covenant or tie, whence they are also emphatically called “Brethren of the Mystic Tie.”
When our Savior designated his disciples as his brethren, he implied that there was a close bond of union existing between them, which idea was subsequently carried out by St . Peter in his direction to “love the brotherhood.” Hence the early Christians designated themselves as a brotherhood, a relationship unknown to the Gentile religions; and the ecclesiastical and other confraternities of the Middle Ages assumed the same title to designate any association of men engaged in the same common object, governed by the same rules, and united by an identical interest.
The association or Fraternity of Freemasons is, in this sense, called a brotherhood.
From Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of the All-Seeing Eye. Note, some links have been added as reference to the original quoted sources.
An important symbol of the Supreme Being, borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians appear to have derived its use from that natural inclination of figurative minds to select an organ as the symbol of the function which it is intended peculiarly to discharge. Thus, the foot was often adopted as the symbol of swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity. On the same principle, the open eye was selected as the symbol of watchfulness, and the eye of God as the symbol of Divine watchfulness and care of the universe. The use of the symbol in this sense is repeatedly to be found in the Hebrew writers. Thus, the Psalmist says
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry (Palms 34:15),
which explains a subsequent passage (Psalms 121.4), in which it is said:
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Then Moses said to the Lord 0 Lord dost thou sleep or not? The Lord said unto Moses, I never sleep: but take a cup and fill it with water. Then Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him. Then the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he slept, and the cup fell from his hand, and the water which was therein was spilled. Then Moses awoke from his sleep. Then said God to Moses, I declare by my power, and by my glory, that if I were to withdraw my providence from the heavens and the earth, for no longer a space of time than thou hast slept, they would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like as the cup fell from thy hand.
On the same principle, the Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open eye, and placed this hieroglyphic of him in all their temples. His symbolic name, on the monuments, was represented by the eye accompanying a throne, to which was sometimes added an abbreviated figure of the god, and sometimes what has been called a hatchet, but which may as correctly be supposed to be a representation of a square.
The All-Seeing Eye may then be considered as a symbol of God manifested in his omnipresence-his guardian and preserving character – to which Solomon alludes in the Book of Proverbs, 15.3, when he says:
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding (or, as in the Revised Version, keeping watch upon) the evil and the good.
From Albert G. Mackey and his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of the Broken Column. Note, some links have been added as reference to the original quoted sources.
Among the Hebrews, columns, or pillars, were used metaphorically to signify princes or nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state . Thus, in Psalm 11:3, the passage, reading in our translation: If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? is, in the original, when the columns are overthrown, I.E..: when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.
So the passage in Isaiah 19:10 should read: her (Egypt’s) columns are broken down*, that is, the nobles of her state.
In Freemasonry, the broken column is, as Master Masons well know, the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillar as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred. It is accredited to Jeremy L. Cross (from the Masonic Chart) that he first introduced the Broken Column into the ritual, but this may not be true.
Ben Franklin has long stood as one of the patriarchs of American Freemasonry. As one of the most prominent Founding Fathers, today Franklin is known for little more than the face on the $100 dollar bill. Yet, the history of the man behind such an honor is rich with industriousness, inventiveness and political genius such that he is perhaps one of a few who could be considered a modern day Renaissance man, both in and out of the fraternity.
Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, MA (as calculated by the new style – Gregorian calendar dating). His intelligence and wisdom helped him excel as an author, scientist, philosopher, statesman, and postmaster. As well known as Ben Franklin is as a Founding Father of the United States, he is also known as an illustrious Freemason.
No one can be sure of exactly when Benjamin Franklin was initiated into St. Johns’ Lodge, but it was some time during the year 1730 or 31, most likely during the February meeting of St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia. Before his initiation into the Freemason brotherhood, Benjamin Franklin made some lighthearted jokes about fraternity in his publication, the Pennsylvania Gazette. One source says that his joking was to:
“advertise” himself to St. John’s Lodge so that when he applied he would not be regarded as a stranger.
After being initiated, however, Franklin’s writing in the Gazette changed because of his Masonic influences. Thereafter he published many positive and affirming stories in the Gazette about the craft. These publications have become the core for understanding the history of Freemasons in the United States, especially in Pennsylvania.
Franklin was in no way a simple and ordinary member of the Masonic lodge. He was appointed as the Junior Grand Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania in the year 1732 and as the Grand Master on June 24, 1734.* In 1734, he also printed the first Masonic book in the United States. His Mason Book was the publication of Anderson’s Constitutions. Franklin was quickly elected as secretary of St. Johns’ Lodge, and he held the position from 1735 until 1738. Franklin continued to be an active member of the fraternity, and he continued to be elected and appointed for many positions. In March of 1752, Benjamin Franklins was put onto a committee for the first Masonic building in the United States. The lodge was to be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Franklin was not only involved in Freemasonry in the United States; he also traveled abroad to take part in meetings and lodges which came about in his diplomatic missions to Europe. In November of 1760 he was entered upon the Minutes as the Provincial Grand Master during the Grand Lodge of England’s meeting in Crown & Anchor, London, a position he was elected into in June of 1760. In April of 1778 he was in Paris to assist with the initiation of Voltaire into the Lodge of Nine Sisters. He continued to be affiliated with the Lodge of Nine Sisters for years through the funeral services for Voltaire and as master of the Lodge for two years. Voltaire had such affection for Franklin that it was written:
The aged Voltaire who in the last year of his life came in triumph to Paris grappled Franklin to himself as with hooks of steel. He placed his withered hands in benediction on the head of Franklin’s grandson as if to confer the philosophy and inspiration of the epoch on the third generation. The two great thinkers were taken together to the theater and at the close of the play were called upon the stage while the excited thousands cried out “Solon and Socrates.”
Benjamin Franklin passed away on April 17, 1790. He will always be remembered by the citizens of the United States as an intelligent Founding Father and scientist. For Freemasons, however, he is so much more.
Count Mirabeau’s eulogy, suggested at the French National Assembly, was perhaps most fitting for Franklin, saying:
Would it not become us, gentlemen, to join in this religious act, to bear a part in this homage, rendered, in the face of the world, both to the rights of man and to the philosopher who has most contributed to extend their sway over the whole earth? Antiquity would have raised altars to this mighty genius, who, to the advantage of mankind, compassing in his mind the heavens and the earth, was able to restrain alike thunderbolts and tyrants. Europe, enlightened and free, owes at lest a token of remembrance and regret to one of the greatest men who have ever been engaged in the service of philosophy and liberty. I propose that it be decreed that the National Assembly, during three days shall wear mourning for Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin’s Masonic career spanned a period of 60 years achieving, in his day, one of the highest Masonic accords, that of an Illustrious Brother. Given Franklin’s prolific career, in and out of Freemasonry, here below is a blended time line of his secular and Masonic life.
January 17, 1706 (New style dating) Born, Boston.
April 2, 1722 The first letter of “Silence Dogood” published.
November 5, 1724 Franklin sails to London to procure type and printing supplies.
July 21, 1725 Franklin leaves London for Philadelphia.
October 2, 1729 Franklin became the owner, publisher, and editor of the weekly newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette.
February 1730-1 Initiated in St. John’s Lodge, Philadelphia
June 10,1731 Franklin publishes his “Apology for Printers,” a defense of the freedom of the press.
June 1732 Drafts a set of By-law’s for St. John’s Lodge
June 24, 1732 Elected Junior Grand Warden.
December 28, 1732 Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”
June 24, 1734 Elected Grand Master of Pennsylvania.
August, 1734 Prints his Mason Book a reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions, the first Masonic book printed in America.
1734-5 The State house (Independence Hall) built during Franklin’s administration. According to old Masonic and family traditions, the corner-stone was laid by him and the brethren of St. John’s Lodge.
1735 Franklin elected to serve as Secretary to St. John’s Lodge. Continues to 1738.
October 151736 Franklin appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
December 7, 1736 Franklin organized the Union Fire Company of Philadelphia.
April 13, 1738 Franklin in a letter to his Mother, says: “Freemasons have no principles or practices that are inconsistent with religion and good manners.”
May 14, 1743 Franklin published his A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge Among the British Plantations in America, the founding document of the American Philosophical Society.
May 25, 1743 Visits St. John’s Lodge, Boston.
November 24, 1747 Franklin and others organized a volunteer militia – the Associators – for the defense of Pennsylvania
June 10, 1749 Appointed Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania by Thomas Oxnard of Boston. Franklin promptly stepped down in 1750 when Lord Byron, Grand Master of England, acting directly, deputized William Allen, Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania.
August 29,1749 Tun Tavern Lodge petitions P. G. M. Franklin for a Dispensation.
November 14, 1749 Franklin and others organized the Academy of Philadelphia
March 13, 1750 Deposed as Provincial Grand Master and immediately appointed Deputy Grand Master by William Allen.
May 9, 1751 Franklin elected a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly (reelected annually until 1764)
March 12, 1752 Appointed on Committee for building the Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia.
June, 1752 Franklin, who has not yet heard of the French success, experiments with flying a kite in a thunderstorm, and also proves that lightning is electrical in nature. He describes this experiment in the October 19 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette.
October 25, 1752 Visits Tun Tavern Lodge, Philadelphia.
August 10, 1753 Franklin appointed joint Deputy Postmaster General of North America.
May 9, 1754 Disturbed by increasing French pressure along the western frontier, Franklin designed and printed a cartoon of snake cut into sections, over the heading “Join or Die,” in the Pennsylvania Gazette (often credited as America’s first political cartoon).
June through July, 1754 Franklin attends the Albany Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania proposing a union of the colonies in defense against the French.
October 11, 1754 Present at the Quarterly Communication held in Concert Hall, Boston.
June 24, 1755 Takes a prominent part in the Grand Anniversary and Dedication of Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia, the first Masonic building in America. Serves as Deputy Grand Master of Pennsylvania until 1760.
March 21, 1756 Franklin meets George Washington while on post office business.
July 26, 1757 Franklin arrives in London, July 26, 1757, Franklin returns to Philadelphia on Nov. 1st.
November 17, 1760 Present at Grand Lodge of England held at Crown & Anchor London. Entered upon the Minutes as Provincial Grand Master.
September 9, 1762 King George III commissioned William Franklin the royal Governor of New Jersey. Franklin returns to Philadelphia on Nov. 1st.
1762 Addressed as Grand Master of Pennsylvania.
May 6, 1775 Franklin elected a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
June 1, 1776 Continental Congress appointed Franklin to the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence.
1776 Affiliates with Masonic Lodges in France.
1777 Elected Member of Loge des IX Soeurs (Nine Sisters or Muses.)
February 27, 1777 Franklin moved to Paris suburb of Passy, where he remained during French mission.
February 7, 1778 Assists at the initiation of Voltaire in the Lodge of the Nine Sisters. (You can see Franklin’s Masonic apron he wore in Paris from the Musée de la Franc-maçonnerie)
November 28,1778 Officiates at the “Lodge of Sorrow “or Masonic funeral services of Voltaire.
1782 – Elected Venerable (W. M.) of Loge des IX Soeurs Grand Orient de Paris.
July 7, 1782 Member R.’ L.’ – De Saint Jean De Jerusalem (Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem).
April 24, 1785 Elected Venerable d’honneur of R.’ L.’ De Saint Jean De Jerusalem (Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem)
1785 – Honorary Member Loge des Bone Amis (Good Friends) Rouen, France.
December 27, 1786: In the dedication of a sermon delivered at the request of the R. W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, by Rev. Joseph Pilmore in St. Paul’s Church, Philadelphia, Franklin is referred to as “An illustrious Brother whose distinguished merit among Masons entitles him to their highest veneration.”
April 23, 1787 Franklin elected President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
February 12, 1789 Franklin composed, signed, and submitted the first petition against slavery to appear before the U.S. Congress.
April 17,1790 Benjamin Franklin passed to the Grand Lodge beyond.
April 19, 1906 Masonic Services at his grave in Christ Church yard, Philadelphia by the R. W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the occasion being the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the Birth of Brother Benjamin Franklin.
* – See the comment from Pete Normand with an informative note on the history of Pennsylvania Freemasonry.
January 12th marks the Anniversary of the consecration of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London.
Quatuor Coronati is a Masonic Lodge in London dedicated to Masonic Research. The name, Quatuor Coronati, derives from the Regius Poem (lines 497-534) which is considered to be one of the oldest Masonic documents; dating back to approximately 1390. Its name, the Four Crowned Ones, is from its Latin translation of Quatuor Coronatorum.
The art of the four crowned ones (Ars quatuor coronatorum)
Pray we now to God almighty,
And to his mother Mary bright,
That we may keep these articles here,
And these points well all together,
As did these holy martyrs four,
That in this craft were of great honor;
They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image-makers they were also.
For they were workmen of the best,
The emperor had to them great liking;
He willed of them an image to make
That might be worshiped for his sake;
Such monuments he had in his day,
To turn the people from Christ’s law.
The lodge, today, meets at Freemason’s Hall on Great Queen Street in London and was founded in 1886.
…encouraged a group of earnest young ‘Masonic students’ in their open arguments and provided the intellectual environment that gave birth to the ‘authentic’ school of Masonic research – which relied not on the testimony of the Bible and of ancient historians, but on manuscript records, the primary source for all truly academic history.
Woodford, in his oration at its consecration set forth its purpose saying:
…the members proposed, by means of papers, discussions and publications, to help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation [and] induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts.
Their dissatisfaction that precipitated in the founding Quatuor Coronati arose in how the history of Freemasonry had been interpreted at that time and thus endeavoring to conduct their own examination of for themselves using an evidence-based approach in their study. It was intended that any result of their research would “replace the imaginative writings of earlier authors on the history of Freemasonry.”
The lodge intended to develop global interest in research from Brethren around the world: holding quarterly meetings in which papers are delivered and questions are posed to the presenters. Annual transactions entitled Ars Quatuor Coronartorum are published. In addition to these, the lodge upholds the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle (QCCC). Membership to the Correspondence Circle is not restricted to Freemasons and open to anyone interested in Masonry and fraternal societies.
Among the original objectives of the lodge were the ideas of providing a center and bond of union for Masonic students as well as a desire to attract intelligent masons who they hoped to imbue with a love of research. The founders also intended to reprint rare Masonic manuscripts with the intention of dedicating a library to such works and eventually translating them to many other world languages.
Of note to American Freemasons, in 2007 S. Brent Morris was the first (and only) American to head Quatuor Coronati Lodge.
Their work of Quatuor Coronati continues today as the Premier Lodge of Research and this once new style has become known as the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic research.
Built in a Classical revival style in 1926, the temple on Lindell Boulevard has played host to, then, Grand Master Harry Truman, and initiated the Spirit of St. Louis pilot, Charles Lindbergh. For the Gen-Xer’s who might be reading, the temple steps were the back drop for parts of the film Escape from New York.
Perhaps the most notable element of the building is the 38 foot long mural, The Origins of Freemasonry, created by Jessie Housley Holliman and dedicated by, then senator, Harry S. Truman in 1941. Holliman, you see, was an African American woman commissioned for the work.
This would appear to be the mural:
The temple celebrated its 80 year anniversary in 2006.
Little ground exists between Halloween and Freemasonry. Here and there a costume ball or an orange crepe paper centerpiece marks the passing of the season, but that is probably the extent of any connectivity. For me, the holiday has always been an important one even as my own little goblins have forsaken the quest for candy for more adult like pursuits.
This is the first year of a house devoid of pint sized celebrants leaving me to reorient myself to the signs of the season. Few could argue that the air itself reminds us that it is autumn – it comes from the harvest; the slow subjugation of the sun; the withering leaves. Today, I’ve come to see the holiday in a different perspective, a Hermetic point of view that, in a sense, encapsulates some importance of the season.
For me, Halloween is the point upon which my spiritual year turns. It is the window between the bountiful summer that comes from the victorious sun and its falls closer to the horizon. Autumn is the stretching shadow that foretells of things to come. This is when the cold seeps in, the dead begin to walk and ghosts skulk out from shadows.
As an adult, I’ve found a greater love of the holiday with a deeper sense of what it represents. My childhood memories of the season have paved the road of time with recollections of cheap drugstore costumes imbued with magical powers – powers that allowed me to wantonly go door-to-door in search of candy. These magical powers were not remarkable themselves but the costumes that they came from were. They gave me the power to pretend for a time to be someone else. Besides being a day of candy corn and mummy dogs, the celebration of Halloween is a way of celebrating the opposite ideation of ourselves – to be something more than what we are. In doing so, it allows us to assume that things power, if even if for an instance.
Understandably, this ignores the traditions of Samhain or dia de los muertos as they each in kind have their own specific practices. Rather than celebrating the dead or forestalling their return, I see the fundamental aspect of Halloween as the celebration of becoming something we wish we were. The season reminds us of this with the change in the air that it brings. It taunts us with the slowly enveloping cocoon of winter looming before us.
The lessons I glean from All Hallows Eve are the forces of change at work in both our physical and mental universe as we reminiscence and contemplate the imaginary roles of our past and future selves. It is the polarity that the Kyablion speaks of and the duality that such polarity embodies. From those thoughts go our fears on the flickering lights of the jack-o-lantern and upon the whispers of invisible ghosts.
The celebration of the harvest and of Halloween gives us command over the power of our past and shows us the potential of our future. It puts us in charge of who we are at this moment of being in a way similar to the action of becoming HIram Abiff. Fundamentally, it represents our own juxtaposition of static change giving us, perhaps, a glimpse of some dimensional otherness.
That’s what Halloween reminds me of – melancholy and spice; damp eyes wet with the glimmer of the future; it’s imagining what we want to be.
It’s Halloween, time for us to assume an imaginary mantle of some otherness of who we want to be… even if for just a few fleeting hours.
Just recently, I decided to bring to life a little project of mine that began somewhere back in 2007. The “project” evolved as a series of short works, or treatises, on the degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
The project had an purpose, one that I followed through its course. Slowly, the pile of works grew to encompass 12 near complete works, many at written at great pains of research and time. But what was I to do with them?
I wanted to do something more with them than to publish them onto the web. I felt like they deserved better than that, they needed something to encapsulate their content.
Then it came to me.
Earlier this year, I finished Richard Kaczynski ‘s biography on Aleister Crowley, Perdurabo, and something struck me. One of the driving forces behind Crowley’s work, despite all the hype and hyperbole, was that he wanted to communicate it to the world. More so, that he was driven by the idea of having to let the world know what he had discovered in the pursuit of his passions. I was feeling the need to do the same; I needed to get these ideas out of my head and out of the drawer that the sat quietly in and into a medium where they could live beyond the pixilated computer screen and sink into the zeitgeist of modern Masonic esoterica.
So began the “little project.”
I’m sure I will be talking more about the project in the weeks and months to come, but for now, if you’re interested in seeing what this little project is about, you can read more on it here, at Kickstarter.
I haven’t said much about the project because I don’t want to give too much away just yet, I want the work to do that. What I will say is that the work thus far is an exploration of Freemasonry and it connection to the Kabbalah and how that is reflected in the working of the Scottish Rite degrees. I’ve let a few people read it and each has said that it offers a lot of food for thought with one saying that it bridged the “…disconnect between my expectation and the reality of [the first degree] initiation.”
Personally, I didn’t think I would be writing this so soon but stunningly, my project has reached its campaign goal in just under six days. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. If you would like to still be a part of my little project, you can still contribute. Every bit will go towards making this book that much better. My stretch goal, with anything left over from the campaign, is to get the text translated into Spanish and French and then look at publishing it into those markets as well. Your further help and support can help make that happen.