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 this Sojourners post, a observant brother from the Prince Hall tradition asks a very important question about access in the modern age of Freemasonry – Who has it, why, and should it be exclusive? This piece, while brief, explores at least in part these ideas as more and more of a diverse audience is gaining exposure to the meanings of Freemasonry.
The Meaning of Freemasonry
A Sojourners post by Richard E. Gordon III
Many things have been said of the Craft, as such, I will not attempt to reiterate them here, but will attempt to express what freemasonry means to me.
My journey began long before I was made a Mason. There was a longing in my heart to understand the deeper mysteries of the world, their respective interrelations and manifestations, and a desire to know the Truth. I would spend many hours reading books of seemingly different natures, only to be delighted to discover a connection between subjects. These associations were meaningful to me because, as I had worked to achieve insight and understanding, I came closer to a more enlightened view of reality. I felt as if I was coming out of the darkness into something a little more distinguishable, a little more clear.
My worldview began to change. I read The Hiram Key, by Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight in college, as the first book about freemasonry I read as a non-mason. I had sensed a continuous stream of knowledge, some would say, from time immemorial, but this book put into focus what I had already sensed. I had realized I wanted to join the Order, out of curiosity, but also to further development, and to honor those wise men that had gone on before me. One could say that, I was seeking to revive the spirit of the Adept within myself. To be a vessel of the divine spark.
Upon being Raised, I was struck at how real it seemed, as during my initiation, I called out and protested as if I was actually the Master in the Temple. My answer to those who would accost me for the secrets of the Temple, was simply ‘Kill Me’. For I knew I could not get away, and I knew I could not oblige them. As the final blow came, I was thrown backward onto my death shroud, and accidentally caught my foot on a brother. My foot was wrenched aside, twisted, my senses not knowing of where the pain and darkness was truly from. I must say this experience changed me. I truly felt death had come, and the embrace of the shroud was comforting. The Lion’s Paw I had received from my father, and it was a very special moment in my life. This cemented my Quest.
From that point on, I strived to the higher ideals of the Order, subduing my passions and improving myself in science and history. Knowledge is a wonderful gift, but it means nothing if it is not put into practice for the benefit of All. Freemasonry then, helped me to become a man, instilling the virtues that, if all possessed, would surely rebuild the Heavenly Temple on Earth. The meaning of freemasonry is to give purpose. This in turn, gives us the ability to, hopefully, transcend into a Higher and more Lofty state of Society, in the spiritual/alchemical sense of the Philosopher’s Stone. There is one drastic hitch or impediment to this dream, however, and that is the insistence of the rules and regulations of the Craft to deny women, the fairer sex, entry into the Order. How can we as Masons do this injustice to over half the population of the world?
I want my brothers to consider this in earnest. Can we rightly deny our sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, lovers, the joys and spiritual guidance that Freemasonry has to offer? Eastern Star is separate but not equal. It is simply not enough, and in the long run, will hurt the progression of establishing the Temple Cornerstone of the World, for all to enjoy and benefit. Freemasonry is more then just a fraternity, and should be recognized as such, but that task will be thwarted if we deny others the right, who are already Masons in their heart, the opportunity to join the Craft. Was it not Mary of Bethany Jesus’s most beloved disciple? Is not Venus the birther of all Men? Why do we close our doors to her?
I shall simply say that, the meaning of freemasonry is that of continuation, of the hopes and dreams of the Adept.
Richard E. Gordon III
Richard E. Gordon III, was raised a Master Mason in 2010, in Golden Square Lodge #23, 4th Masonic District, Prince Hall Affiliation, Urbana, Ohio, and is a member of Miami Consistory #26 in the Valley of Dayton. He holds a Masters Degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Wright State University and won the “Outstanding Graduate Student Award” (2010) in the Applied Behavioral Science (ABS) program. He also obtained his Bachelors in Psychology in 2007 at Wittenberg University, where he founded and led the Society for Extraordinary Phenomena (SEP). Richard worked as a medical lab researcher at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in the STREAMS program, which is dedicated to fostering biomedical research experiences for minority students, and studied the biomedical effects of intermittent hypoxia in neonatal rats, with implications for conditions such as sleep apnea and aerospace industry considerations. He is a Research Associate with Vision Genomics, LLC.
Albert Pike once wrote: “Freemasonry is the subjugation of the human that is in man, by the Divine; the conquest of the appetites and the passions, by the Moral Sense and the Reason; a continual effort, struggle, and warfare of the Spiritual against the Material and Sensual.”Morals and Dogma, Sublime Prince
I found this definition of Freemasonry to be an appropriate introduction to what I am about to present.
I have always sensed that our ritual had a deeper significance than what appears on the surface. Through my association with other esoteric bodies and their knowledge, I have been able to recognize phrases, analogies, allegories, and symbols from these ancient teachings. Many Masons have either lost sight of, or are not aware of, what our ritual is indicating to us. I have made it my mission to share this discovery with all Masons, and would now like to expose, to you, in the coming chapters, some of the deeper meaning behind the ritual of our degree rituals, in the hope that you will propagate this information to others.
I have come to understand that there are three aspects to our ritual: physical, mental, and spiritual. The first degree is mostly related to the physical; the second degree to the mental (or intellectual), and the third to the spiritual. Also, each degree is built on the one before, so there are three levels: 1st degree – physical also (representing birth), 2nd degree – mental (also representing growth and development), and 3rd degree – spiritual (also representing death).
However, each one of the degree rituals has, within it, those same three levels. The physical relates to the actions and symbols; the mental relates to the moral and intellectual aspects; and the spiritual is what is explained in the following chapters.
First, I must tell you that there is no official view regarding this deeper aspect of our ritual. Grand Lodge cannot provide you with any standard book that contains these explanations (in fact, few Grand Lodge publications refer to the deeper, more esoteric, side of Masonry). Therefore, there are a few different interpretations that you may come across. It doesn’t matter – what matters is what is meaningful to you.
Next, I must put forward some arguments that provide evidence that there is a deeper meaning.
Our ritual tells us that there is. At your initiation, you were announced at the door of the lodge as “a poor candidate, in a state of darkness, humbly soliciting to be admitted to the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry.” What are these mysteries? Is Freemasonry ancient?
I will remind you that, during the examination before passing to the second degree, you were asked: “What is Freemasonry?” The answer you were to give is: “A beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Brethren, in this statement are the first clues that there is something that is hidden. Let’s examine this statement further.
A “System of Morality…” – Are the rituals of Masonry there merely for the purpose of teaching morals: Temperance, Prudence, Justice, Charity, and Brotherly Love. Was Masonry instituted to teach these elementary virtues? As you well know, those who are “fit and proper people to be made Masons” must be “Just and upright men …… and strict morals.” So, ask yourself if Masonry was meant to teach morals to those who are already moral?
“Veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols…” – “veiled” means “hidden or covered,” and that is another clue. “Allegory” means “a story that has a deeper or more general meaning in addition to its surface meaning,” and that is another clue. A symbol is “something used for or regarded as representing something else,” which is yet another clue.
As you can see, this statement of the definition of Masonry refers to something hidden. This is a clear indication of something deeper hidden in our ritual.
What is it that is veiled? The Junior Warden’s Tracing Board lecture begins,
The usages and customs of Masonry have ever corresponded with those of the Egyptian Philosophers, to which they bear a near affinity. Unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, those philosophers concealed their particular tenets and principles under certain hieroglyphic figures and expressed their notion of government by signs and symbols.
What this is suggesting is that, as in the ancient Egyptian mysteries, something is concealed in our customs.
These points indicate the real secret of Masonry: that our ritual hides deeper, more esoteric, spiritual lessons, based on various ancient mysteries and teachings that have been taught throughout the ages, in different forms, and is still being taught today.
These mysteries are not written or taught within Freemasonry. They are embedded for the use only of those who seek the light, through education, contemplation, understanding, and assimilation. It does not matter what religion, if any, you may follow, as these mysteries apply to all. The candidate, if he is to benefit by the light to which the Craft leads, must be prepared to keep his mind open, and seek those mysteries. They contain information which is of vital importance to us all.
The sources of our Initiation Ceremony, while based, perhaps, on old Operative ceremonies, are a blend of various streams of influence, usually called the Ancient Wisdom or “Secret Doctrine“, which is common to all the Ancient Mysteries and Initiation systems from the dawn of history. These are combined with elements from more recent systems, such as Hermeticism, the Hebrew Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Muslim Sufism, Christian Mysticism, Buddhism, Theosophy, Anthoposophy, and others, drawing symbols from all of them.
Researching these, and there are many books regarding them, it becomes clear that all these sources have been promoters of the same Mysteries, and that they proclaim the same truths. Many of them also have rituals with layered meanings, and many correspond to our Degrees. Some of the founders of Freemasonry, as we know it today, were Rosicrucians, who are teachers of the ancient wisdom. Having studied their teachings myself, I can clearly see the signposts embedded in our ritual. I encourage you to do your own further research to verify this for yourselves. I will go so far as to say that it will be the most important thing you do in your life.
The Illuminati is one of those well-known shadowy organization shrouded in myth and legend. They are credited with behind the scenes manipulations of world events and seen as the secret power that controls everything. The Illuminati has become the modern day catch all poster child of the political evils in the world. All of which is highly ironic, as the group historically was founded on May 1, 1776, with the goals of opposing superstitions, religious influence over public life, and the abuse of power by the state.
The Illuminati, along with other secret societies like the Freemasons, were seen as subversive in the late eighteenth century, due in large part to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, the idea of the Illuminati has come to be associated with any secret organization that proclaims to have links with the original society, though in many cases these links are unsubstantiated.
Organized in a way very similar to that of Freemasonry, the Illuminati very likely used the Masons as a pattern for which to their model their own society. Indeed, some present day Illuminati groups claim to have origins far older than the historical 1776 account, using their connection to Freemasonry in their principal argument. Some groups even lay claim to connections that trace back to ancient Egypt and the Ra and Isis cults that thrived in antiquity.
It is difficult to trace the history of the Illuminati much of what it did was in secret. After the original society was outlawed, what was left, allegedly, went underground to continue its work in secret. These claims include involvement in the Napoleonic Wars and were considered, by some, as responsible for the French Revolution in 1789.
Many believe that the subversive goal of the Illuminati was to form a one world government. The Congress of Vienna was, according to these beliefs, brought about by the Illuminati who hoped to achieve their goal by forming a League of Nations. When Russia refused to join, however, their plan was foiled creating, supposedly, a great deal of animosity towards the Russian powers within the Illuminati rank and file.
The Illuminati are said to have devised a plan for there to occur three world wars over the course of the twentieth century that would lead, ultimately, to the formation of a one world government. In line with this theory, they orchestrated the tensions that led to World War 1. With the goal of destroying Imperial Russia and get revenge for the failed Congress of Vienna. World War II was likewise planned by the Illuminati to strengthen communism. There was to be a third war between political Zionists and the leaders of the Muslim world, which was to have weakened everyone to the point where a one world government was the only feasible option left. This makes for an interesting theory given the present state of geopolitical affairs at hand in the world today.
While this is, by far, the most sensational account of the Illuminati available, very little of it can be verified historically. What we do know is that the Illuminati were founded by Adam Weishaupt, who was raised in Bavaria and educated at Jesuit school graduating ultimately from the University of Ingolstadt in 1768 with a doctorate in law. Interestingly, the Jesuits have been accused of broader conspiracies, subversive methods and conspiratorial practices.
Weishaupt joined the Masonic lodge in Munich in 1777, the year after he founded the Illuminati. Once he joined, he reorganized the Illuminati in order to attract more Freemasons to its ranks. While the Masons brought more influential members into Weishaupt’s society, it also led to disagreements between his ideals and those new members. Seeing trouble and seizing an opportunity, the Bavarian government acted on disquiet at the prominence of members in governmental positions, stepped in and disbanded what was left of the Illuminati.
And still, this secret society was not unknown in the world. Letters from George Washington show that he was aware of the Illuminati’s plan to overthrow all current governments. Despite the large number of Masons among American’s founding fathers, Washington was confident that none of his allies were interested in pursuing that agenda. Washington wrote, on October 24, 1798,
…It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.
The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of seperation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects; and actually had a seperation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned….
In a modern context, as a secret society, it is impossible to say if the Illuminati still exist today or not, due to their very nature. How do you disprove something that is said to not exist? There are many organizations that claim to have roots that trace back to the Illuminati though they currently exist under different names. The formation of a one world government does not, however, seem like such a far-fetched notion with increasing globalization and the strong presence of multinational businesses and governmental styled agencies including the IMF and the United Nations. But, how much of this is merely a perpetuation of the idea that a shadow society is calling the shots by orchestrating the maneuvering of progress. Perhaps in some respect, the ethos of the Illuminati is its legacy of its continuation in the modern world.
The use of Illuminati symbols in modern day culture helps to perpetuate the belief that the secret society is still operating in the shadows and controlling many of the world’s events. The obvious symbolism of the All-Seeing Eye is linked pervasively with the Illuminati as seen in many places, including the currency United States. The inclusion of on the currency is an obvious chicken before the egg analogy that conspiracy theorists have latched onto as an obvious and overt sign.
The pyramid, once again present on the American $1 bill, is said to represent the hierarchy of the order. It is left unfinished to show that the goals of the society have not yet been accomplished. The Bavarian society did indeed have pyramids displayed at their meetings though once again the same symbol is often attributed to the Masons.
The owl, too, is the symbol of the goddess Minerva who was the goddess of wisdom. The Bavarian Illuminati who had reached Minerval status (in between Novice and Illuminated Minerval) especially considered it a very important symbol and included it on their medallions.
Some contemporary pretenders find a more nefarious image suggesting links to the occult. In these instances, the pentagram is also sometimes said to be a symbol used by the Illuminati in the practice of black magic. But the Bavarian society had no occult practices that we know of in comparison to this modern day context. If a modern day Illuminati group claims the practice of magic, they most likely have no true connection to the original order.
The reality behind the Illuminati is as shadowy as its existence. Their secret nature, combined with the vast number of groups that claim lineage with them makes it impossible to trace their activities through history. Much of what is currently known about the Illuminati is little more than guesswork and greatly influenced by the sensational depiction of them in popular culture.
That they seek to form a one-world government, a one-world monetary system and a one-world religion.
The entertainment industry is controlled by the Illuminati.
Organizations like the United Nations, European Union, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G-20 Economic Group, the World Court, NATO, Council on Foreign Relations, World Council of Churches and various multinational corporations are pawns of the New World Order.
Denver is an Illuminati world domination layover site to off the grid blacked out labor camps.
On November 6, 1860, prior to Abraham Lincoln’s election for United States President he declared that, “Government cannot endure half slave and half free.” He was referring to the common practice during those times, mostly within the southern states, of human slavery. However, these causes weren’t a full or primary cause of this war. If the Confederacy were successful in their efforts the Union, as being the United States would no longer be able to avail the benefits from those southern states with their productions, especially of cotton textiles and bountiful food crops without paying tariffs to a separate nation.
The American Civil War was started in 1861 and it ended in 1865. The Confederacy of the southern states prepared itself for war starting on February 4, 1861. It consisted of eleven states who aimed to secede from the Union and establish itself as a separate and independent country.
The war’s first battle was on April 1, 1861 at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. But it wasn’t until January 31, 1865, that the United States Congress abolished slavery by passing the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution.
On May 10, 1865 President Andrew Johnson officially ended the American Civil War after the surrender was declared at Appomattox, Virginia.
Thousands of lives were lost and many had been badly wounded and would suffer until their eventful death relieved their pains.
Estimates are that at least 110,070 were killed in battles or later died from the wounds inflicted in battles, and another 199,790 or so from diseases that were attributed in some way due to that war.
However, these reported testaments of compassionate acts by the Freemasons show a brighter side of those four years of strife and the unusual ways of war; often fathers and sons fighting on opposite sides as were blood and fraternal brothers and friends was far too common. This allowed the “Light of Masonry” to shine brightly even during those troubling times.
During that Civil War, approximately 410.000 soldiers were interned in prison camps and it has been estimated that about 56,000 of them were Freemasons. There are recorded stories that indicate how these Masons were true to their Masonic obligations and to our Masonic teachings, even while performing their duties as military fighting men. When they were confronted with a wounded and distressed brother, they did all they could to provide comfort and compassionate assistance. I’ll here cover just a few examples of those reports that demonstrate the kindness and concerns shown for their Masonic Brethren, in some cases for others without regard for which side they were fighting. The Masonic sign of distress was witnessed and responded to quite frequently during those troubling times.
Lt. Col. Homer Sprague, an 13th Connecticut Volunteer was taken prisoner. During a long march to the prison, Sprague became so exhausted that he collapsed into a ditch. A Confederate Officer allowed him to ride in the ambulance for the remainder of the journey. With some difficulty, he was able to climb into the vehicle. He there learned that the driver was also a Brother Mason.
This Brother said to Sprague,
As a Mason I will feed you to the very last crumbs of my food, but as a soldier I will fight you till the last drop of my blood.
I hardly know which to admire most, your generosity as a Mason or your spunk as a soldier.
In 1863 Hunter McGuire, a physician and commissioned officer in the Union Army, resigned his commission and enlisted in the Confederate Army as a Private. This was because while still serving within the Union Army and while trying to evade capture by Confederate forces, he tried to jump his horse over a fence. Both he and the horse went down and were captured. He gave the Masonic sign of distress. A Confederate officer recognized the sign and ordered a temporary cease fire while he and his horse were cared for. This event convinced him to resign his commission in the Union Army.
There was many times in which the Masons demonstrated compassion for the suffering of their Brother Masons. Union soldier John Copley with the 49th Infantry was captured by the Confederate troops and confined in a military prison camp. It was soon after his capture, that all of the Masons in the camp were gathered up and moved together into a separate barrack where, thanks to the Masons of the local area, they also had somewhat of a plentiful and better diet than did the other prisoners.
Being known as “The White Apron Men” as the Freemasons were often referred to in those days, were known to remain true to their Promises, they were allowed the liberty of roaming about the camp based solely on their word to not attempt escape. On one occasion a Mason was approached by a non-Mason who stated that he and his friend were very hungry, not having eaten in three days.
Without comment, he walked on, but in the afternoon he again spotted the man, and without saying a word to him, dropped a package at his feet. When the man opened it, he saw food and drink, plentiful enough for both he and his friend to nourish them.
After the war, one of those men wrote,
I was not a Mason during the war, but what I observed of the compassionate ways of the Masons, I was induced to join this beneficent order, and I was made a Mason in 1866. I vowed to pattern my conduct by what I had there observed, especially of how they truly cared for each other. Those Masons were treated with respect, and they were trusted based on their integrity of character.
He went on to say that it was just as well that he had not been a Mason at that time. Not being bound to such a promise, he was able to escape and made his way to safety.
These 3 stories are from the Heredom Series of books produced by the Scottish Rite Research Society.
In my web searches and from my private library, I also found several interesting accounts of Masonic compassion being demonstrated during that War. One story was of an Alabama Artillery group, who were resting from a hard fought battle during the day prior that had lasted into to the late night hours, several being killed or wounded. After traveling to a field on the edge of a thicket of trees, they having assumed it to be a fairly safe place to rest and refresh them selves for the next battle.
The surviving men were exhausted and some fell into a deep sleep, while others engaged themselves in conversations, some inspecting their weapons and ammunition supplies, while yet others were attending the wounded.
A Corporal lay back against the trunk of an old pine tree, watching a flock of birds overhead while contemplating his thoughts of how he would prefer death, rather than being incarcerated in a Yankee prison camp, and at the same time admiring the Navy Colt pistol he had taken from the dead body of a Union Captain during the last battle.
He caught a glimpse of a reflection among the trees that he believed might a weapon. Now being of the highest rank, since the Commissioned Officer had been killed in the last battle, he called out to the men, “To your guns boys, git ready.”
He silently prayed;
Thou Oh God, know our down sittings and our uprisings, and understand our thoughts from afar off, shield and defend us from the evil intent of our enemies.
He grimaced in pain as he arose from the scaly bark of that old pine tree. He had been wounded twice in previous battles, the first time by a painful flesh wound to a leg, and the other by a piece of shrapnel from an exploded shell that hit him in the chest, knocking from his feet. When he finally looked at the wound he saw a jagged gash extending from the nipple to the collar bone.
He refused a hospital stay, choosing to remain with his comrades and within his duties as a soldier.
The Corporal again patted the Colt pistol in his waist band with assurance that he would do better with it, rather than with a heavy rifle. As he arose he looked with pride at the Masonic ring his father, now his Masonic Brother, had presented to him when he was made a Master Mason. He again called out to the troops, “Prepare for battle.”
He was suddenly confronted by a Yankee Lieutenant who from the tree line had noted what he perceived to be, a much weakened condition of the Corporal, and was apparently intent on capturing him alive if possible. They were now bound together in a death grip, both men showing unbelievable strength.
There’s probably no greater human horror than to be locked together with a person whom you know will kill you, if you don’t kill him first. “To kill or be killed” was a simple and familiar saying; but to actually be in that situation gave it much more meaning.
He was struggling to get to the Colt pistol, but being so tightly bound body to body, it was impossible. He somehow garnered a moment of extra strength, and as he pushed on the Lieutenant’s chest, he caught sight of a Masonic emblem, and without hesitation he muttered sounds into the ear of what he now believed to be a brother Mason. On the Lieutenant’s hearing the sounds, the death grip quickly became a brotherly embrace, both men now with tears in their eyes, for what could have resulted had not the discovery been made.
Another interesting story was of two opposing Generals, John Gordon of the Confederate Army and Francis Barlow of the Union Army. During a raging battle, General Gordon was crossing the bloodied field of battle, where he came upon General Barlow who had just received what was assumed to be a mortal wound. Even though the fierce battle was continuing all around them, Gordon took the time to show compassion for a fallen brother. He gave Barlow a drink of water and inquired as to what he might do for him. Barlow asked him to write a letter to his wife, which he dictated the words of his supposed, impending death.
Upon receipt of the letter his Lady traveled to retrieve his remains, but by then he had received medical care and was recovering to fight again. Several years later these two men met in Washington, D.C., both having assumed that the other had died during the war.
They enjoyed Masonic fellowship, sharing brotherly love and affection while remembering their many experiences. Their close friendship and brotherly love continued until death.
The practice of brotherly love, friendship and morality were also demonstrated in lesser famous military actions. In 1863, gun boats including the Albatross, were shelling a small Military port near Mandeville, Louisiana. The Captain of the Albatross was J. E. Hart who had been made a Mason in a Lodge in New York. This Brother had been suffering with pain, fever and delirium for several days, and during that ongoing battle, to ease his misery, he shot himself in the head, taking his own life.
A friend and Masonic Brother assumed command, and with much grief for the loss, he under a flag of truce, went onto land among those troops they had just been shelling, to inquire of any Masons among the troops and in the town. He asked them to assist him in the performing of Masonic Last Rites for a fallen brother. And whether it would have been considered proper or not, they gave him a most impressive Masonic Funeral. His remains were ceremoniously interned to their long home.
The Masons of the area placed a marker at the head of the grave, with the Masonic Square and Compasses most prominent, in honor of this departed Brother.
There are many reasons why freemasonry, more than any other fraternal organizations, has survived and thrived throughout the ages. Our tenants and devotions to them have made this possible. Our rules and customs have encourages us to show kindness and compassion for others, without expectations of anything in return.
The mental structure of which our Ancient and Honorable Craft is constructed, transcends all that would most likely cause a division among non-Masons.
We must live by our Masonic teachings and our values while looking to the inner goodness of a man, rather that that of the outer appearances, or any other distinctions. We must show love and compassion, assist the needy, lift up the downtrodden and spread Masonic love toward all of God’s people, without regards for ones religious faith, political leanings or any other personal differences that are of no business of our Fraternity, then we will have become the Masons we so desire to be.
These acts of brotherly love and compassion as mentioned herein, are just a few examples of how we Freemasons have demonstrated our devotions to the teachings of our Symbolic Craft, in wars as well as in times of peace.
May we, by use of the symbolism of the Masonic trowel, continue the spreading of that cement which units us into one common band of brothers and fellows, and may it some day become common among all good people throughout the world. Let the love and caring we share as Masonic Brothers never cease; and may it always be most predominate. May every moral and social virtue continue to bind us as a Masonic Fraternity of friends and brothers, with a spirit of charity imbedded in our hearts, much so as it was so well demonstrated by our Masonic Brothers, during that Civil War.
May love and compassion continue be observed by we Masons for the world to see, and hopefully it will someday be emulated by all of mankind around the world. And may these practices of love among mankind forever be observed.
Amen and so mote it be.
This piece comes to us from Brother W. B. Paul Weathers from Arizona. Br. Weathers was initiated, past and raised in the now defunct William Whiting Lodge in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He has been a member of Oasis Lodge #52 in Tucson, AZ for many years and is affiliated with the Grand Lodge of China (Valley of Taipei, Orient of Taiwan) under the Scottish Rite. He is a two term Past Master, Cryptic Mason/York Rite, member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, Eastern Star, Sabbar Shrine, High Twelve and the Sojourners. Active with the Grand Lodge of Arizona, Br. Weathers also manages a chest of medical assist devices for the elderly and needy and organizes a quarterly outing for Masonic widows and elderly couples.
How long have we been talking about boring business meetings, poor food, lousy fellowship and run down Masonic buildings?
The answer is since Chris Hodapp and friends published Laudable Pursuit, and that was way back in the 90s. But we don’t seem to learn form our mistakes nor do we seem capable of doing what the ancient mystery schools were most adept at doing, namely providing knowledge that lead to wisdom leading to actually making a better man. We don’t teach Masonic philosophy anymore and for that reason many Masons don’t know that we are a very special and unique society.
Writing today expressing the same theme is renowned author, speaker and Masonic leader – Robert G. Davis, 33° – Grand Cross
One of the questions that occasionally eats at me when I am driving home from a Masonic event, degree, or function that has been woefully mediocre is how our members can sit through such Masonic happenings month after month and still believe our fraternity is relevant and meaningful to men’s lives? How honest are we in claiming we make good men better while persistently repeating practices and behaviors which are so distinctively average, or worse? Self improvement involves some form of positive change. It requires some level of progress; entails some elevated sense of being. Explain to me how a lodge facilitates self improvement by offering its members a venue that doesn’t “feel” any different when they are inside the lodge than outside of it.
Perhaps many of us come into Masonry looking for nothing more than fraternal association. But, if that’s the case, it ought to be the best fraternal association we have ever had!
Cheap Duse and Cheap Meals equal a Dead Lodge
Once we encounter the preparation room, or make our progress through the degrees, it is hard to dismiss the awareness that we are engaged in something wholly different from our other community experiences. We quickly learn that Masonry has a higher calling which requires that we make an ascent into the very center of our being.
An endeavor of such high importance and due solemnity is not a run of the mill undertaking. It becomes clear there is nothing mediocre about Masonry. So why do we make it that way?
Here’s the problem. Accepting mediocrity in our lodge practices is the same as living a mediocre life. By making un-extraordinary acts and behaviors our ordinary practice, we entrap ourselves from knowing how precious life really is. We don’t use opportunities that come our way as a means of expressing how special we really are. Instead, we walk the walk with the rest of the herd and soon find ourselves in such a deep rut of limitations we lose sight of our own value. We become trapped in mediocrity.
Regrettably, this too often seems the condition in which lodges, Scottish Rite Valleys, York Rite Chapters, Councils and Commanderies find themselves. When nothing extraordinary, educational, insightful, compelling, intellectual, contemplative, spiritual, or fraternal occurs in our private, sacred, fraternal spaces, then we become only another ordinary, average, run of the mill, dime-a-dozen organization. It is hard to see how this kind of Masonry takes good men and makes them better.
It is not the kind of Masonry we should want to share with our friends.
I believe that if we truly want to move “from the square to the compasses,” we have to dare to be different. And we can’t dare to be different by following someone else’s expectations. When a lodge does the same thing year after year, it is accepting by default someone else’s expectations. There is nothing creative, inspiring, or different about parroting ritual, paying bills, and going home. That’s doing only what many others have done before us.
To distinguish ourselves among men and organizations, we first have to perceive in our own minds that we have something to do which will ultimately set us above the average. We start by thinking about the choices before us.
Do we choose what is safe rather than what is right? Do we only do things right, or do we do the right things? Do we set out on a new path, or take the same old, comfortable way? Do we bring credit to our teachings, or debit them as ideals of the past? Do we become the examples that young men want to emulate, or do we seem to them as just another group of ho hum guys?
You see, the choice always controls the chooser. To be exemplary men, or an exemplary organization, we have to be exceptional in our awareness of who we are, what we are here to be doing, what we know, and how we practice what we know. We have to have the courage to be different from the rest of the crowd—nobler in our expectations and more refined in our state of mind.
Because that’s just the way Masonry is.
He who wants milk should not sit himself in the middle of a pasture and wait for a cow to back up to him.
In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the Christening of Freemasonry, a sentiment that Mackey feels “… does not belong to the ancient system” of Freemasonry.
You can read more installments of Mackey’s Encyclopedia under Symbols & Symbolism here on this site and video of these segments on YouTube.
The interpretation of the symbols of Freemasonry from a Christian point of view is a theory adopted by some of the most distinguished Masonic writers of England and this country, but one which I think does not belong to the ancient system. [William] Hutchinson, and after him [George] Oliver – profoundly philosophical as are the Masonic speculations of both – have, I am constrained to believe, fallen into a great error in calling the Master Mason’s Degree a Christian institution. It is true that it embraces within its scheme the great truths of Christianity upon the subject of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body; but this was to be presumed, because Freemasonry is truths and all truth must be identical. But the origin of each is different; their histories are dissimilar. The principles of Freemasonry preceded the advent of Christianity. Its symbols and its legends are derived from the Solomonic Temple and from the people even anterior to that. Its religion comes from the ancient priesthood; its faith was that primitive one of Noah and his immediate descendants. If Masonry were simply a Christian institution, the Jew, the Muslim, the Brahman and the Buddhist could not conscientiously partake of its illumination. But its universality is its boast. In its language citizens of every nation may converse; at its altar men of all religions may kneel; to its creed disciples of every faith may subscribe.
Yet it cannot be denied that since the advent of Christianity a Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the Masonic system, at least among Christian Masons. This has been a necessity; for it is the tendency of every predominant religion to pervade with its influence all that surrounds it or is about it, whether religious, political, or social. This arises from a need of the human heart. To the man deeply imbued with the spirit of his religion, there is an almost unconscious desire to accommodate and adapt all the business and the amusements of life – the labors and the employments of his everyday existence-to the indwelling faith of his soul.
The Christian Mason, therefore, while acknowledging and appreciating the great doctrines taught in Masonry, and also while grateful that these doctrines were preserved in the bosom of his ancient Order at a time when they were unknown to the multitudes of the surrounding nations, is still anxious to give to them a Christian character; to invest them, in some measure, with the peculiarities of his own creed, and to bring the interpretation of their symbolism more nearly home to his own religious sentiments.
The feeling is an instinctive one belonging to the noblest aspirations of our human nature; and hence we find Christian Masonic writers indulging in it to an almost unwarrantable excess, and, by the extent of their sectarian interpretations, materially affecting the cosmopolitan character of the Institution.
This tendency to Christianize has, in some instances, been so universal, and has prevailed for so long a period, that certain symbols and myths have been, in this way, so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the Christian element as to leave those who have not penetrated into the cause of this peculiarity, in doubt whether they should attribute to the symbol an ancient or a modern and Christian origin.
In this series on Famous Freemasons, we delve deeper into the history of these notable individuals to explore their dynamic lives beyond the lodge room door. In this installment, we meet:
b.Jan. 6, 1880 – d. Oct. 12, 1940
A name that many film buffs recognize, cowboys idolize, and at least for a time, the man that everyone wanted to be. Tom Mix was a circus performer, champion horseback rider, radio personality, beloved Freemason, and perhaps most known for his roles in Western films as the clean cut cowboy who always saved the day. Mix appeared in nearly 300 films, the majority of which were silent, and at one point in time was the #1 box office star in America.
Thomas Hezikiah Mix was born in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, on January 6th, 1880. He spent the
majority of his young life working on a local farm, and was instilled by his father with a love and passion for horses. Upon the onset of the Spanish-American War, like many others his age, Tom decided to enlist. Although never seeing any real war action, he moved through the ranks, and served his country well. Before being honorably discharged, Tom went on furlough where he met Grace I. Allen. On his next furlough, he decided to marry her. For a short period of time he returned to active duty, but ultimately was forced to choose between the military and his wife. This resulted in never returning to active duty from his last leave, and being declared AWOL. In the 15 years that followed, he had married and divorced three times. Though his marriages were unstable, his professional life and career was developing rapidly. He found work at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, which boasted its own touring Wild West show. This gave Mix his first introduction to acting and performing, and went on to earn numerous riding and roping contests.
His acting career flourished, scoring roles with various talent agencies and film companies. Throughout the 1920’s, he made over 160 cowboy films, and even built his famous set known as Mixville located today in what would become the Edendale district of Los Angeles unremarkably refereed to today as the Glendale Boulevard Corridor in the Silverlake area. Over 150 movies were shot in Mixville, which was considered to be its own Western town. It was complete with all of the props and locations you might find in a frontier town, such as a dusty street, hitching rails, a saloon, jail, bank, doctor’s office, and surveyor’s office. It even boasted a simulated desert, large corral, period homes, and an indian village of lodges near the back lot. Mix’s career was inspirational for future movie stars such as John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, both of which were very vocal about the influence which Mix’s career had on their lives.
Throughout his acting career, Tom Mix was also a devoted freemason. He was raised on February 21, 1925, at Utopia Lodge No. 537, in Los Angeles California. He joined both the Scottish Rite and The Royal Arch, and participated in the famed 233 club. The 233 was an entertainment industry social club which claimed over 1,700 Masons as members from the motion picture and theatrical industries. Members of 233 included: Douglas Fairbanks, Harold and Frank Lloyd, Wallace Berry and Louis B. Mayer. One of the outstanding patriotic activities of the Club was a gigantic “Pageant of Liberty” in the Los Angeles Coliseum on July 5, 1926 before an audience of 65,000 and employing over 2,500 actors and a chorus of 1,200. Mix, the star that he was, rode into the spectacle astride his horse Tony portraying Paul Revere beside Hoot Gibson who rode as a Pony Express rider. With the 233, Mix is said to have participated in traveling Craft degree team composed of actors.
Tragically, Mix died in a fatal automobile accident on October 12, 1940. His memorial service was held at Little Church of Flowers at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA, not far from Mixville. A memorial of a sorrowing horse marks the location of Mix’s passing in Arizona highway. At his memorial service Mix’s close friend, Monte Blue, read a Masonic ritual in his honor.
Mix was truly a man from another era, a mythical era when celebrity and fame created legends… even if for just a little while. Tom Mix left a legacy for many, and is still regarded today as one of the most influential actors in the history of film-making. Without his influence, countless actors may have never graced the silver screen. His impact changed lives and history as we know it.
The following is from a comment posted by Brother Charles M. Harper Sr. on the post Bar Sinister Clandestine Hazing. Upon receiving it, I thought it warranted its own post given the depth to which he explored his ideas. The context to the piece comes as an explanation for why the petition is necessary in this modern age.
Here is a little of the information, from my book, A Spurious State of Confusion, due out at the end of July that provides both extensive quantitative and qualitative research to substantiate my stance that spurious Freemasonry is a problem, what it exactly is in the scheme of the Masonic world, how the problem came to be and what are choices that can be explored to stem the tide.
I expect the Obama Administration, in accordance with the petition, to examine this issue. I think it is inevitable that many will thwart this petition because of political feelings, and somehow, will tie in their dislike of Obama with the intent of the petition. It is human nature and to be expected.
Just some other historical evidence of some legal grounds that can substantiate at least the filing of this petition.
The conviction in the Federal Court at Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 15, 1922, of Matthew A. McBlain Thomson, Thomas Perrot and Dominic Bergera, of using the mails to defraud, was the culmination of efforts of the United States Government, begun in 1915, to have a reckoning with the perpetrators of one of the most ingenious mail frauds, and the most daring and spectacular Masonic imposture in American history.
In 1929 there was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of New Jersey a Certificate of Incorporation of “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey,” under which certificate the incorporators claimed the right to:
Practice and preserve Ancient Craft Masonry according to the Ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; to create, organize and supervise subordinate Lodges of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, granting to them dispensations and charters, empowering them to confer the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason; and to do all things necessary to carry into effect the objects and purposes of this incorporation.
The regular Grand Lodge instituted suit in the Court of Chancery against this spurious Grand Lodge with the result that in 1932 there was entered a decree restraining and enjoining this “Grand Lodge of ancient Free and accepted Masons of New Jersey,” its officers, agents, members and employees,
From using the name or designation “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey.”
From using any name or designation containing the words “Free and Accepted Masons,” or word “Mason,” or “Masons,” in conjunction with either or both of the words “Free and Accepted.”
From practicing, or pretending to practice Ancient Craft Masonry, according to the ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; from creating, organizing or supervising subordinate Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New Jersey, or pretending to do so; from conferring or pretending to confer the three degrees of Free Masonry known as Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason, or any of them.
South Dakota once had an Italian spurious body, but it has disbanded. Texas has to contend with the clandestine Mexican bodies. Utah has had some experiences, but her most famous contribution to the history of clandestine Masonry was the trial of the notorious McBain and Thompson. That Masonic fraud was there exposed and the perpetrators sent to jail. M.W. Sam H. Goodwin, Grand Secretary, writes of this:
Grand Lodge has not entered the arena against clandestinism, but a great battle against clandestinism was brought to a successful conclusion in the Federal Court in Salt Lake City, and the chief promoters of the Thompson Masonic Fraud (three in number) heard a jury declare them guilty, on ten counts, of using the U.S. Mails to defraud.
In a majority of States, legislation has been passed making it an offense against the law to use the emblems of a fraternal organization without a right, or to adopt and use the name of a pre-existent fraternal, charitable, benevolent, humane or other nonprofit making organization. Some of these laws are very elaborate, others are less specific, but in States where such legislation has been invoked by regular Masonry against usurpation by clandestine bodies, the courts have upheld, or are now in the process of upholding the regular and recognized Grand Lodges of the nation against those who would profit at their expense. – Source: Clandestine – from a Short Talk Bulletin – Dec. 1935, Masonic Service Association of North America
There have been state rulings against spurious masonry, filed by Grand Lodges, since before the 1950’s by Prince Hall Grand Lodges. – Source – Masonic Court Cases
As to the former rulings against Prince Hall and its standing amongst the Masonic Community today, the United Grand Lodge of England established a committee that examined at great lengths the legitimate origins and determined in 1992 that Prince Hall Grand Lodges were indeed regular Grand Lodges, though formed irregularly but consistent with the forming of Grand Lodges during its time of organization. 40 U.S. Grand Lodges now in amity with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge substantiates that they would not be included in such categories as spurious Freemasonry, which is simply not Freemasonry, but the imitation of it.
The word clandestine today is an often misapplied word compared to prior to the Baltimore Convention of 1834. All Regular Grand Lodges are clandestine to some other regular Grand Lodge. Being clandestine in the proper context has nothing to do with proving a standard of regularity that has been substantiated over time by the courts, and is codified by laws in New York state, and other states.
The word ‘clandestine’ falls with unhappy significance upon modern Masonic ears, but it did not in those days mean quite the same thing as it does to Masons of this age, Prior to the ‘Lodge of Reconciliation’ and the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, the two Grand Bodies of England, the ‘Moderns’ (who were the older) and the ‘Antients’ (who were the younger, schismatic body) each considered the other ‘clandestine.’ – Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Proceedings February 3, 1783
The feminine disciplines though irregular, and are thus clandestine to traditional Freemasonry, do have origins found within the Masonic Fraternity definitively from the Grand Orient of France’s requirement their existence would be attached to a traditional all male Masonic lodge and one woman at least was made a Master Mason in a Masons Lodge, though it was against the rules of the Grand Orient, Maria Deraisme. The Grand Orient, at one time determined to be regular, has legitimate origins.
What is often not included in the mainstream discussion of the quantitative effects of spurious Freemasonry, which include more than 450 spurious grand lodges in the United States alone, which collectively boasts memberships close to 400,000 members, and grossing more than approximately $43 million dollars, all in the name of traditional freemasonry. These groups advertise for membership with famous Masons such as George Washington and Fredrick Douglass. What is also not often examined are the horrid perpetuation of racism used to emotionally inspire the continued separation between races within the Masonic institution by the feeding of negative stereotypes gathered through mass generalizations.
Please allow this petition to be supported if nothing else, to bring national attention to fraudulently practiced Freemasonry. Our Fraternity is on a cusp of a great resurgence with a massive return to focus on Masonic education as the center of bonds in the fraternity being created. We need not stand idly by while fraud undermines our progression.