square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

The Habitation of The Grand Architect

a poem by Bro. Rev. J. Gierlow
From The Masonic Mirror,
October, 1872

God dwells in light!
Before the ocean of unmeasured space
Was islanded with stars serenely bright­
Reflecting back the radiance of His face,‑­
He dwelt above, in Heaven’s immortal bliss,
Thinking into existence that which is.

God dwells in light!
Before He laid the world’s foundation‑ stone
High on the nothing of primeval night,
And in Heaven’s center throned th’ eternal
He dwelt above, beyond the far‑off sky,
With Angels born of His Eternity.

God dwells in light!
And holds within the hollow of His hand
The universe of worlds which gem the night,
Which, through Heaven’s sea, at His divine command.
Freighted with His own smiles now sail at even,
Fearless of storms, around the sun in Heaven.

God dwells in light!
And where He dwells, there spirits also dwell,
Who drink fresh glory from His face so bright,
As stars drink from the sun’s deep golden well
Exhaustless beams, so that they never die,
And thereby show His immortality.

art, illustration, bible, square, compass

What Are The Holy Scriptures ~ How Do They Relate To Freemasonry

The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York

Ezekiel M. Bey

Ezekiel M. Bey,
FPS Administrator and Founder
Blue-Lite Research Discussion Group Inc.

First we must understand and define what the meaning of “Holy” means, and then what the word “Scripture” means.  According to Anthony Browder, who authored, “From The Browder File” the word “Holy” comes from the Greek word, “Helios” which means “Sun”.  In Latin it translates to Sanctus.  The word “scripture” comes from Latin, “I Write”.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “scripture” that, “…most religious scriptures began as recited texts, being preserved in orally transmitted forms: the Vedas of the Hindus were written down only because the world moved into the degenerate Kali; oral law (Torah she be’al peh) was as much revealed on Sinai as was written Torah; the Quran was not written down until after the death of Muhammad; and the Pāli canon was not committed to writing until (theoretically) the First Council though in fact much later. When scriptures were eventually written down, it often remained a primary religious act to recite (rather than read) scripture.” So, scriptures are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. They are words that are divinely inspired by ones Creator and documented in written words or recited by memory.  In fact, the bottom line as it relates to the definition of the word “Bible”, means “THE BOOK”.  However, do not lose sight that in the many Books that contain scriptures, are not but one book, but a compilation of data and documented information within the total text in a religious compiled composition or book housing.

bibleNow that we have established what those two important words mean, how do they fit in Freemasonry?  Masonry is a system that allows us to live our lives in the search for truth and awakening.  When we sincerely love what we call a craft, our very actions in this walk in light begins to play a role in what is Masonic knowledge, and the truth behind the veil of understanding.  Freemasonry in its early years as it pertained to Lodges were nominally Trinitarian Christian, but there is no indication that such was more than formal or that any religious belief was prerequisite to admittance.  Changes affected by the Grand Lodge of England between 1717 & 1723 abandoned nominal adherence to Christianity and obligated the Mason to obey the moral law, to be good men and true men of honor and honesty.  Dr. James Anderson in 1723 of Charge 1 wrote in his Constitution:

Concerning GOD and Religion

“A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine.  But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient to oblige them to that Religion which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance.”

Now, in the middle portion of the above quote, he clearly removes the engagement in religious discussion, and openly states that each should keep their opinions to themselves.  In the New York ritual it reads, “…encouraging each to be steadfast in the faith of his acceptance.”

So, we have established the meaning “Holy Scriptures”, what was the common practice as it pertain to religious tolerance, and the evolution pre 1717 to 1723 and the accepted ancient constitution.  But the question is, “What Are The Holy Scripture”?  History records that in the sixth century A.D.; the Emperor Justinian issued an edict abolishing the last vestiges of the African religious systems and closed the last African Temple of Philae in Upper Egypt.  This is according to Anthony Browder, “From The Browder Files”.  However, in ancient Egypt, there is proof in several temples of inscriptions on the wall and the attempt to remove what the Madonna and Child looked like.  This was done by those who conquered different areas of ancient lands.  Over one hundred versions of the “Holy Scriptures” have been produced.  This is why scriptures are considered or referred to as “verses”, which comes from the Latin word, “vertere”, a word which mean to “turn” or “to change”.   The Holy Scriptures can help us to either turn from negative ways or change the way we live.  How does this relate to Freemasonry?

holy bible square and compassAfter the Constitution written by James Anderson under “GOD and Religion”, this actually put a renewed understanding of the purpose of Freemasonry.  Some are not aware that there was no Holy Scriptures (Holy Book) on the altar at one time.  The Holy Bible first being referred to as part of the furniture of the Lodge was in 1730.  In 1760 the Bible, Square and Compasses being referred to as the three Great Lights was not in existence until the “Ancients Grand Lodge of England” placed it on the altar and the “Moderns” began this practice in 1762.  Many of these Brothers, although used the Kings James version and some that were similar, understood the meaning of the word “Bible”, which derived from the Egyptian definition, “Papyrus”, which meant “Paper”.  Prior to any Holy Book placed on the altar, it was the (Book of Constitution) that Mason’s were obligated on.  In present day we now take our obligation on the book of our faith to bind us to our oath.  This is why our obligations are taken on the Holy Scriptures.  When we swear not to be at the int*****, pa*****, or rai**** of a clandestine Mason for example, we are swearing before GOD and man, that we will never fall victim in betraying our solemn appeal to the Creator of such a sacred promise.

Now, scripture do NOT teach doctrine, however, doctrines can develop through “scriptures”.  Let us take the word “DOCTRINE” for a moment.  The word “Doctrine” means “Something taught teaching, instruction or principles of religion.  “Theology” means “the study of God”, of religious doctrines and of matters pertaining to Divinity”.  The word Theology comes from the root word “THEO”, meaning “God” and the word “LOGOS” meaning “Word, or Discourse”.  In other words, theology is a systematic and logical arrangement of the belief in a doctrine.  Awareness is the key factor to all things.

The 6 Divisions of Theology as quoted from the book “The foundation of Christian Doctrine” “Written by Kevin J. Conner”

  1. Exegetical Theology – “Exegesis” means “to lead out, to guide out, to draw out”.  In theology it refers to analysis    and interpretation of scripture.”
  2. Historical Theology – Historical theology traces Biblical history, church history, and the history of the doctrine.
  3. Dogmatic Theology – “This branch deals with dogma as set forth and formulated in church creeds.  The difference between dogma and doctrine should be recognized.”
  4. Biblical Theology – “Biblical theology traces the progress of truth through Books of the Bible, seeing the various manners in which each of the writers presented important doctrines.”
  5. Systematic Theology – “Systematic theology concerns itself with the orderly arrangement into topics of the doctrines concerning God, Man, Angels, Sin and Salvation.  It is a systematization of the major fundamental doctrines of Biblical theology.”
  6. Pastoral or Practical Theology – “Pastoral or Practical theology deals with pastoral work, Christian education, church administration, Etc.”

The above meaning of the different definitions of theology is not limited to other faiths.  However, through all of this, scripture plays an important part as it is connected on the writing of what others saw and interpreted through what they understood of a higher inspiration that calls upon the higher faculties of ones being and spirituality.  In Albert Pike’s book Book of the Words, page 121, first paragraph, he states,

Our knowledge of the Deity, like our knowledge of the soul, is not the cognition of the Deity itself, but of its manifestations only.

We all see Deity in a different light as well as the name of Deity from our respective understanding taught by our religions and “scriptures”; and even those who do not subscribe to a particular religion but follow “spirituality” according to their understanding interpret scripture how they are inspired.  Scripture is not defined to be owned by one religion but each religion or spiritual schools have their own doctrine.  Freemasonry allows us to find that path without prejudice or judgment.

In Final, the Holy Scriptures are not only sacred text inspired by a Creator, but they are symbols that are veiled in allegory.  Harold Percival in his book, “Thinking in Destiny” describes a symbol as such: “A symbol is a visible object that represents an invisible subject which one is to think of, as itself or in relation to another subject or object”.

Lewis Carroll, masonic symbolism

Masonry Through the (Rear-view) Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll, masonic symbolism

by: Lewis Carroll

‘WAS brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Calloh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Monday December 6, 2010 marks the opening of the civil trial of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia versus Frank Haas.  It is only fitting, as this trial begins, to hear how the Jabberwock was slain in Hass’ own words.  Two years ago Expelled Past Grand Master Haas explained what he had done that was deemed so bad and what those who came to slay the Jabberwock did to him.

Masonry Through the (Rearview) Looking Glass
By Frank J. Haas, MPS

Thank you very much for your brave invitation. I know that there is some controversy about my being here. Some of you have examined your consciences about whether you should listen to me, break bread with me, shake hands with me, appear in the banquet room with me, stay in the same hotel as me, and where to draw the line. I respect that fidelity. I am hopeful that this will be only a temporary strain on our fraternal relations. I am honored to accept an invitation that I did not seek. I have the highest respect for The Philalethes Society, and I would not do anything intentionally to harm it.

I very much wish that the circumstances that brought us together might have been dispensed with, but I have gained a great deal of unsought notoriety of late. This Society exists to research problems confronting Freemasonry. I have a problem. Some say that I am a problem. I have been a Philalethes member for quite a few years. I can relate to you my perception and my recollection of what has happened recently to Freemasonry in West Virginia and to me, and I can offer my opinions on these events. I will tell you what happened — beginning at the end.

Listen to the Red Queen from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.”

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.

“I won’t!” said Alice.

“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

In a similar fashion, the capital punishment of Masonry was meted out to me. Sentence first, verdict irrelevant, trial — well, details, details. I was expelled summarily by the Grand Master of West Virginia without a trial, without written charges, and without notice that my neck was in the noose. “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.” To earn it, I did not even get the pleasure of stealing any money, messing around with any women, or sounding off with a temper tantrum. While I was watching a football game on a Sunday evening, I remember Grand Master Charlie L. Montgomery calling me to ask whether I would be in lodge the following evening. I said it was on my calendar. He said he “might drop in” to talk about the Oyster Night at the previous meeting of Wellsburg Lodge #2, where we hosted fifty Ohio brothers, including a surprise visit by the Grand Master of Ohio, the stalwart Ronald L. Winnett. When I walked into the lodge building on Monday, November 19, 2007, I thought it likely that the lodge would be complimented for its hospitality to two sitting grand masters. Little did I know that the lodge would soon be on probation and that expulsion edicts in advance had been researched, prepared, drafted, typed, and were soon to be read, expelling Richard K. Bosely and me, all, heartlessly, in the presence of my father.

I have been hurt by all of this, because I love this fraternity. I must guard against having my remarks today sound like nothing but sour grapes. Some unpleasant events happened. People ask me what happened. I tell them. They do not believe it and say it is impossible.

The Red Queen and Alice discussed such a circumstance in Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Believe it. The reason for the expulsion: free speech. I have a sincere philosophical disagreement with Montgomery and his supporters. I believe that the grand lodge belongs to the Craft and that the brothers should decide grand lodge laws and policy with their open debates and votes, preserving always our eight Ancient Landmarks. We are not bound to look forever through a looking glass as a rear-view mirror and never look at the present or toward the future. Montgomery wants no change ever, and anyone who wants any change should “go away.”

Here is how I engendered such anger. Votes matter. In West Virginia, past masters have one quarter of a vote. According to the legend, I was elected to the progressive line of grand lodge officers by a quarter of a vote. You know that you must be cautious about secret ballots: those who know should not say, and those who say may not know. I am only passing on what I was told. I had served ten years on the Committee on Work with the custody of the ritual as Deputy Grand Lecturer. I became Junior Grand Warden, but some did not want me there.

As grand master, it became my frequent practice to address the brethren at lodge meetings, and I began to conclude my speaking on the level with a time of questions of answers. There were some recurring themes in the brother’s questions, and these I decided to bring to the floor of grand lodge for consideration. Before grand lodge, I acted on three matters of business that needed no change but were compelling interpretations of existing language.

Youth. We had one active DeMolay chapter in the whole state, at the time. We had only around a hundred Rainbow Girls. I talked to the youth and their leaders, and I learned that part of their problem was our grand lodge law. Our policies were actually harming kids. Our Masonic law requires us not to allow youth organizations to meet in the lodge rooms, no matter what the lodges want. Lodges cannot give any support to the kids. Lodges cannot donate a penny. Lodges cannot even permit the parking lot to be used to raise funds by a car wash, for example. When I learned that the application of these many prohibitions, which had slowly accumulated over the years, was hurting the kids, I concluded that it was never the intention of Masonic law to be harmful to them. I thought the brothers would want fast action, so I acted with a directive to help the kids, and I set the subject for discussion at grand lodge.

Summary reprimands. We had three brothers involved in two separate incidents. News reporters initiated calls to ask for facts about Masonic buildings, which they proposed to feature in their newspaper articles. The brothers answered questions about facts and figures, numbers and dates, and these resulted in large, beautiful articles with color photographs in the newspapers of the fourth and the fifth largest cities in the state. One headline on the front page of the Sunday newspaper was worth thousands of dollars in a public relations budget: “I knew they were just and upright men.” However, the three brothers had not referred the reporters to the grand master, so he summarily issued written edicts of reprimand to be read audibly in all 140 lodges at two separate meetings. There were no trials. Sentence first. I entered an edict expunging the record because there was no constructive purpose to be achieved in having them continue.

As I prepared for the grand lodge session, I prepared a written agenda and had the various subjects of legislation distributed so that it went to the Craft with the proposals in their hands, in advance, in writing, to allow discussion to take place freely before the grand lodge session. This had not been done by a grand master for many decades, if at all.

The storm clouds began to swirl. I invited Brother Howie Damron to perform at the Grand Master’s Banquet before grand lodge opened, and he sang, “The Masonic Ring” and other favorites. Some of my predecessors objected and were turning colors in anger, and I was then implored to attend a meeting of past grand masters. The place of the meeting changed without notice to me, and I finally found them at about midnight and was told that my predecessors and all of the remaining progressive line were of the opinion that my actions and proposals were illegal and had to be withdrawn, or I would face their wrath. They said I had violated the landmarks, the Ancient Charges, the ritual, the usages and customs, and my obligation — so I was told, and this could not go forward. I said that the brothers would indeed debate and vote, and I later learned that the statements about unanimity in the room were exaggerated.

The following day, grand lodge opened, and I reported my actions and opinions to the Craft. Prominent among them was an outreach I had made to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia through the Prince Hall Grand Master. Perhaps I went further than he would have liked, as I wrote him and telephoned him months earlier, and then visited the hotel of their grand lodge session, suggesting a meeting. For our grand lodge, I proposed language declaring it to be unMasonic conduct to refuse to seat a visitor to lodge if race was a reason, and it passed. On other subjects, the brothers voted to allow themselves the option to say the Pledge of Allegiance at lodge meetings. The brothers voted to allow handicapped candidates to petition.

We are the only grand lodge not to recognize or support the DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, or Job’s Daughters. We are the only grand lodge not to be members of the Masonic Service Association. We are the only grand lodge not to belong to a regional conference of grand masters. We are the only grand lodge to order the Scottish Rite not to perform one of their degrees, the Washington/Arnold 20th degree. The result? I am proud to say that the brothers voted not to persist in remaining a minority of one. The brothers voted to change these things.

By their votes, the brothers repealed an assortment of legislative state-wide restrictions, piled on over the decades, for specific, temporary reasons, by Masonic legislators. Dean Roscoe Pound in Masonic Jurisprudence observed, “Having no bills of rights in Masonry and hence nothing beyond a handful of vaguely defined landmarks to restrain him, what then are our barriers against the ravages of the zealous, energetic, ambitious Masonic law-maker? Legal barriers, there are none. But some of the most sacred interests of life have only moral security and on the whole do not lose thereby.”

The brothers in West Virginia voted to assert their moral security and to repeal bans of books, bans on films, and bans on slideshows, some implemented nearly fifty years ago for important reasons, apparent then, to deal with a moment in time. Royal Arch Chapter charters had been ordered to be removed from the walls of lodge rooms, but the brothers voted to allow them. Other art in a lodge room that included Masonic symbols or emblems other than the Blue Lodge had been prohibited, such as Scottish Rite or York Rite emblems or a tapestry hung on a concrete block wall, but the brothers voted to allow it — including portraits of local Past Grand High Priests and Past Grand Commanders, of whom they are justly proud.

The West Virginia brothers were forward-looking and voted to do what they thought was right. There was jubilation at the passing of the Wheeling Reforms at grand lodge in 2006. That lasted for a matter of days. Then we returned to the rear-view looking glass, the rear-view mirror, as the ballot was declared illegal by my successor. The vote was scorned. In my opinion, the best word to describe what is now happening as a result is: repression.

Since the Wheeling Reforms were struck down, we have heard it said that, although race is not a legitimate factor to use to exclude a qualified visitor, wink-wink, the Worshipful Master has the duty to preserve the “peace and harmony” of the lodge. So, promote peace and harmony, but, wink-wink, do not consider the race of the visitor, wink-wink.

Did you lose a thumb while fighting for your country? Which one? The left? — sign here on this membership petition. The right? We have ancient usages and customs, and we cannot put up with your kind.

Do you want a Masonic funeral? Your grandsons are prohibited from being pall bearers unless they are all Master Masons. You must explain these Masonic laws to your widow so that we do not have to leave her sobbing in the funeral home. There is no problem if you want your remains to be cremated. However, if you want your ashes to be scattered, it is “undignified” and we must walk away from your mourners, because if anyone knows that the lodge is present as a group, we will be reprimanded, again.

If youth organizations are having problems, their problems are not our problems, so be extremely careful if you try to help the kids. If our deceased brother’s obituary mentions his request that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations should be made to a hometown hospice, which comforted and cared for him on his deathbed, then the proper action of the lodge is… send the flowers, because such charity is forbidden. We will not join the Masonic Service Association, as every other grand lodge in North America does, because it is soft on Prince Hall and they will send their publications and Short Talk Bulletins to our members without our control. We will not join the Northeast Conference of Grand Masters or any other such conference because they have ideas that conflict with our laws and mostly because those other grand lodges recognize Prince Hall Masonry.

Friends, I am proud of the Wheeling Reforms. They were distributed so that the Craft had them in their hands, in advance, in writing, most of them for the first time in their lives. We debated until the brothers voted to end debate. We voted on the merits. The Wheeling Reforms passed. They lasted — until the stroke of a pen. Dick Bosely politely but persistently sought and was denied answers about this, and because he took a little bit too much time to sit down and shut up, he was instantly stripped of his title as Deputy Grand Lecturer and two weeks later was summarily expelled, and his alleged offense was committed in the presence of the Grand Master of Ohio. I engaged in free speech saying, as quoted by Grand Master Montgomery, “the dream lives on and will not die.” Now I am left without free speech and without Freemasonry, but I still have the dream.

For my dreams, I have sustained the maximum Masonic punishment — expulsion. It hurts. It hurts a great deal. I hope that it is temporary. In another feat of Orwellian double think, my detractors have extended their hatred further by deleting my name from the website list of Past Grand Masters of West Virginia and throwing it down the memory hole. The Craft in West Virginia is a resilient bunch — Montani Semper Liberi, Mountaineers are always free. They are unsure of what to do and how. They want to do the right thing — and do that thing right, but those who would continue the repression have the upper hand for now. I do not have a call to mobilization to outline for you. I am on the outside now. Your brethren in West Virginia have voted to do what they think is right. By their votes, they made a positive statement about race relations in the fraternity. By their votes, they tried to help the kids. By their votes, they welcomed the handicapped into the Craft. By their votes, they were in favor of patriotic expression in the lodge. All for naught. We are one large fraternity divided into grand lodges. What happens to us reflects upon you. What happens to one group of your brothers affects the whole. We lecture about Masonry Universal. Search yourself, my brethren. You may find yourself with an opportunity to help, aid, and assist — not me — but your worthy brothers in West Virginia in ways, large or small. Will you go on foot and out of your way for them? You may be able to speak the truth to power. As Lincoln counseled, be on the side of the angels. Will you encourage, nourish, and cherish your brethren in the state with the second highest per capita Masonic membership with your concern and your prayers? If for nothing else but your concern and your prayers, the brethren of West Virginia will thank you, Masonry Universal will thank you, and I thank you for sticking your necks out for Freemasonry.

Please give this some soul searching serious thought before you rush to judgement.

square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

The Song of Saint John

From Masonic Odes and Poems
by Rob Morris LL. D.

How blest is the home
Where the Brotherhood come!
How charming the time and occasion!
The love that was born,
In the heart of Saint John,
Now warms up the heart of each Mason.

It is you, Sir, and you,
Friendly Brothers and true,
No matter what may be your station-
On the level our way,
We are equal to-day,
For I, Sirs, with you, am a Mason!

This love that was born
In the heart of St. John,
Is the bond of a charming connexion;
Through good, and through ill.
It abides with us still,
And makes us thank God we’re a Mason.

When in the Lodge met,
And the officers set,
‘Tis of duty and pleasure the season,
Ah! gladly is given
To the Father in Heaven,
The praises devout of each Mason.

When labor is done,
And the Brotherhood gone,
Do you think that our secrets we blazon ?
No ! no, ’tis the joy
Of our mystic employ,
That we tell them to none but a Mason.

For ’tis this we do learn.
From our patron St. John,
The pride of this charming occasion,
That the tongue that conceals.
And never reveals.

Then Lady and Sir,
While we stoutly aver.
In our Secrets we’ll never work treason.
The rules we profess,
Are the same that did grace
Our patron St. John, the Freemason.

And while to his name,
We may boldly lay claim.
To his graces we’ll cling till death’s season,
And then to the bourne.
Where his spirit has gone,
We’ll hie us like every good Mason.

How to Make the Freemason

freemason libationIt has the look of light Chocolate Milk
The smell of Butterscotch and Bailey’s
And tastes like a candy or a Girl Scout Cookie.

Who knew that’s what a Freemason tasted like.

The recipe
1 oz Irish Cream
1 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Over rocks, enjoy.


Masonic Study Center Reward (Competition)

This is from a press release I found in my in-box

It comes from C.E.M. which is the Freemasonry Regular Traditional base in Portugal and provides training for the initial and continuing the Freemasons essentially Installed Masters and Master Masons to have sufficient knowledge and performance in different OO.. ‘ EE.´. EE.. ‘ (Órgãos de Estrutura) and the organizations that belong or will be associated with Freemasonry. (Translated from the Portuguese.)

The “Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa” is annually attributed and is destined to reward authors of academic essays or other investigations in FREEMASONRY matters.


The Regulation for “Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa” coming into force for the 2011 edition is the following:

Article 1

1. The “Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa” is set up, attributed annually, and is destined to reward authors of academic essays or other investigation in Regular and Traditional Freemasonry matters.

2. The reward also includes all essays from the several social science subjects which objective is the study of world Masonic history or the strengthening of Portuguese national Masonic history.

Article 2

1. Any national or foreign author of any age may compete.

2. Essays of collective authorship will be accepted.

3. Any competitor or group of competitors can only present one essay.

4. There will only be accepted essays written in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish, which constitute the official languages of the Reward.

5. There will only be accepted the essays of the authors who present a statement which attest that:

a) Between the date of original publication in any stand and the limit of the time of delivery to this contest, there will be no more than three years.

b) The essay has not received any reward until the limit of the time of delivery of the candidature to “Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa”.

Article 3

1. The competing essays, written in spaces of two, shall be presented in four exemplars (one original and three copies) and delivered to “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa”, or mailed until December, 22nd, 2010. A CD with the essay in digital format must be attached.

2. Conjointly, and in a closed envelope properly identified, shall be mailed the statement mentioned in the previous article, the personal and scientific curriculum, the address and other means of contact of the competitor or, should the essay be of collective authorship, each of the competitors.

3. The originals of the essays, the copies and the envelope containing the statement and the identification of the author or authors, shall be entered within the term indicated in number one through traditional mail service to APARTADO 1018, 5300-999 BRAGANÇA, Portugal, in a single envelope mentioning “Prémio do Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa”.

Article 4

1. The Jury that will judge the candidatures will be designated annually by the President of “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa”, within the 30 days after the limit of the time of delivery of the essays, integrating three studious or other recognized specialists in the scientific field concerning this Reward.

2. Each member of the Jury has right to one vote.

3. The President of “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa” will also designate a secretary for the Jury who will not have any right to vote.

Article 5

1. The members of each Jury will elect a President among them.

2. After establishing the Jury, its elements will decide previously of the admissibility of the competitors regarding the thematic compatibility of the essays with the object of the Reward and the rules of this present Regulation.

3. The essays that are not admitted to this contest will be returned to its respective authors.

4. The essays received and admitted to this contest will not be returned to its authors, but will integrate the pile of “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa” ’s Library after the Jury’s deliberations.

Article 6

1. The Jury will appreciate the essays admitted to the contest, classifying them by order of quality.

2. The classification which the previous number is referring to will account for the originality and the scientific quality of the essays, the nature of the sources, as well as the methodology of its treatment and the expositive capacities of the authors.

Article 7

1. The Jury will attribute the Reward to the first classified and an Honorable Mention to the second classified. Their names and the titles of the winning essays will be revealed to public in September, 2011.

2. The Reward or the Honorable Mention will be able to attribute ex-aequo. In the first case, or in case of the winning of a collective authorship, the respective quantitative will be divided among the winning competitors.

3. The Jury will be able not to attribute the Reward, justifying it an official report.

4. The Jury’s decision, which is by majority of votes, is final and unchangeable.

5. The members of the Jury have the duty of secrecy in regard of the content of the meetings and the sense of vote of the rest of the members.

6. The final official report, written by the Jury’s secretary and approved by the Jury, will express the result of the deliberations taken, and will be able to be shown to the competitors who apply for it under a justified motive; as component of the official report there are all documents which contain elements of proof regarding the decisions of each of the Jury members every time there should not be unanimity in the attribution of the Reward or the Honorable Mention.

7. The “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa” will be able to, freely, publish the winning essays, as they became part of its pile. The authors, from the moment they put in for the competition, will allow this to happen and will have no rights over the winning essays.

Article 8

The “Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa” is set up by an amount of money, 250 (two hundred and fifty) euros, eventually being brought up-to-date.

Article 9

The delivery of the Reward and the Honorable Mention to rewarded authors will take place in a public ceremony within thirty days after the publication of the Jury’s decision.

Article 10

1. The regulation of the Reward can be altered by initiative of the Grande Loja Nacional Portuguesa (National Portuguese Grand Lodge) that supports legally the “Centro de Estudos Maçónicos Fernando Pessoa”, in terms of the following numbers.

2. The alterations that may be introduced in the regulation during the period between the limit of the time of delivery to a contest and the final decision of the Jury, will not be able to be applied to that edition of the Reward.

3. The alterations that will occur are automatically integrated in the text of the Regulation of the Reward let out in the electronic mail www.cemfp.org, starting on January, 31st, of each year.

Symbolism of the First Degree

by Br. Asahel W. Gage, from The Builder Magazine
October 1915 – Volume I – Number 10

editor of the builder magazine

Joseph Fort Newton

This jewel comes from The Builder Magazine, a masonic publication  published between 1915 and 1930, edited by Joseph Fort Newton.

It was then (and likely still is) the best American Masonic periodical ever published. The work below is just one of many articles in the archives, and one that I thought would be of some interest to readers for its look at Masonic symbols. I’ve made some annotations where I thought they need be. Enjoy

~Masonic Traveler

In the beginning, the seeker for truth must be duly and truly prepared. In the usually accepted sense, this talk is unprepared. And yet, I spent five years in the “line” of the lodge observing, thinking about and studying Masonry. It is this study and my later contemplations that are my preparation to speak on the symbolism of the first degree.

It seems to me that the essence of every Masonic lesson is presented in the symbolism of the first degree. An entered apprentice is a Mason. The second, third, and so-called higher degrees are elaborations. All Masonic business was formerly transacted in a lodge opened only on the first degree.

The Masonic lessons are practical lessons. They have a dollar and cents value. The Senior Warden tells us that he became a Mason in order that he might receive master’s, or larger wages. That there may be no misunderstanding as to his meaning monetary wages, he further says, in order to “better support himself and family.” If we will look honestly into our own hearts, we will see that we paid the price for the Masonic degrees because we hoped to receive the equivalent or a greater return. If we have not received a return equal to our original and annual investment, it is because we have not applied ourselves to the study of Masonry with freedom, fervency and zeal.

But let us understand each other. There is little chance of our making much headway unless we agree on a clear and definite meaning of the terms we use. It is not only good and pleasant, but it is necessary for us to dwell together in unity of thought, if we would arrive at a harmonious conclusion. We should therefore endeavor to clearly define our subject.

The word “symbol” is derived from the Greek, meaning “to compare.” From σύμβολον (sýmbolon) from the root words συν- (syn-), meaning “together,” and βολή (bolē), “a throw”, having the approximate meaning of “to throw together”, literally a “co-incidence”, also “sign, ticket, or contract”. The earliest attestation of the term is in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes where Hermes on seeing the tortoise exclaims σύμβολον ἤδη μοι μέγ᾽ ὀνήσιμον “symbolon [symbol/sign/portent/encounter/chance find?] of joy to me!” before turning it into a lyre. A symbol is the expression of an idea by comparison. Often, an abstract idea may be best conveyed by a comparison with a concrete object. A dictionary definition of a symbol would be, a sign or representation which suggests something else.

Symbolism, therefore, is the science of symbols or signs, the philosophy or art of representing abstract truths and ideas by concrete things. Symbolism is suggestion; in sculpture and painting by form and color, in language by words, in music by sounds. What allegory and parable are in literature; what figurative speaking is in language; the same is symbolism.

The symbolism of the first degree is for the apprentice. An apprentice Mason is one who has begun the study of Masonry. Certain qualifications are necessary for every apprentice. The qualifications of a Masonic apprentice are a belief in a God, a desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to be of service to his fellow creatures.

Possessing these qualifications, the candidate must follow a course of ancient hieroglyphic moral instruction, taught agreeably to ancient usages, by types, emblems and allegorical figures. This is symbolism, and symbolism is universal language. It is the language in which God reveals himself to man. The manifestations of nature are only symbolic expressions of God.

Children learn best from symbols. Blocks and toys are crude symbolic representations of the more complicated things of life. Most of us learned our alphabet and almost everything else by the relationship or correspondence to things with which we were familiar. We are only children after all. Older children call themselves scientists and make their experiments in their laboratories. Each experiment is a symbol of what is taking place in the real world outside.

The apprentice in the moral science should give up the rags of his own righteousness and also all precious metals, symbolical of worldly wealth and distinction, and all baser metals, symbolical of offense and defense, in order that he may realize his dependence upon moral forces only. He should be clad in a garment signifying that he comes with pure intentions to learn the noble art and profit by its lessons, not to proselyte among others, but to develop and improve himself. He is carefully examined to ascertain whether he is worthy and well qualified to receive and use the rights and benefits of Masonry. Being satisfied that he is worthy and well qualified, he is admitted and is immediately impressed with the fact that he must undergo sacrifice and suffering if he would attain the end he seeks. Realizing that the good intentions of the candidate, his own righteousness or even the lodge organization, are not sufficient, we invoke the blessing and aid of God upon our search for knowledge and truth.

We follow the system of symbolism. When we would know the truth in regard to things too great for our minds to comprehend, we take as a symbol that which is within our mental grasp. We know that the truth about the things we cannot comprehend, is identical with the truth in relation to the symbol which we do comprehend.

The apprentice in his search for Light must start from the North with the Easter Sun in the East, and travel by way of the South to the West, and back into darkness. He again comes out of the North in the East and passes through the same course again and again in his development. Obstacles are met by the apprentice in his progress, so similar that they seem identical. The little occurrences-of life may seem unimportant but they determine whether we will be permitted to advance. The apprentice must ever be worthy and well qualified.

The apprentice must advance on the square by regular upright steps. The symbolism is so common and universal that it is used in the slang of the street. Obligations are duties assumed. We must assume them if we would advance and having assumed them we are bound by them whether we will or not. Then the light breaks and we begin to see. We find that others, even the most learned, stand like the beginners. The Master is on a level with the apprentice, and extends a hand which is grasped fraternally, and the candidate is raised. There is the key to the Masters Word–an open book, but he may never find the word itself.

Then, as before, the apprentice must follow the course of the Sun. As is the greatest, so is the smallest. In the drop of water are all the laws of the universe. If we study carefully, we will find in the dew drop the particles revolving and whirling in their little circles the same as we find the heavenly bodies revolving and turning in their great orbits, circle within circle and circle upon circle. The seeker after Light always emerges from the North in the East and passes by way of the South to the West and again into darkness, with full faith and perfect confidence that day will follow night. He is continually subjected to tests and trials and always held responsible for what he has learned and for that which has gone before. God’s Holy Book, His revelation to us, is the guide in our search for light. To the Jew this Holy Book is the history of Israel, substantially the Old Testament. To the Christian, it is the Old and New Testament. To the Mohammedan (Islam), it is the Koran; to the Hindu, the Vedas.

But whatever book it is, it is the Holy Book of the seeker for Light and that which he believes to be the word of God. The Holy Book together with the square and the compasses are the great lights of Masonry.

The lesser lights are the Sun, Moon and Master of the Lodge. The Sun symbolizes the great active principle, the Moon the great passive principle. This symbolism is so commonly accepted that even the uninitiated refer to the Sun as masculine and the Moon as feminine. The Master is symbolical of the offspring of the great Active and Passive Principles. He is the mediator, the child of the two great forces. He sets the craft to work upon their symbolic studies, which is no light responsibility to be assumed by the uninformed. Only chaos and disaster can overtake him who attempts the work he is not qualified to perform. When the apprentice has received his degree he is given his working tools and the primary or elementary instructions as to how to go to work.

The working tools of an apprentice are the 24 inch gauge and the common gavel. The gavel symbolizes strength or force. Force undirected is the flood devastating all in its path or the idle puff of the unconfined powder which accomplishes nothing. Undirected force is the gavel without the rule. But intelligently controlled, and directed along a proper line by the rule of intellect, the force of the torrent grinds the grain and does the work of many men.

The force of the exploding powder prys the rock loose so that the work of months is accomplished in a moment. The operation of universal laws in the moral world is just as ascertainable and understandable as in the physical world. Morals are as susceptible of scientific study as physics.

The lamb skin apron, a most ancient symbol, signifies that it is only by honest conscientious toil that the moral laws can be learned and applied, and that this toil must be done in purity and innocence.

Side Bar
Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God
from thefleece.org

The Lamb of God was a popular symbol in the Middle Ages, which was familiar to both craftsmen of Guilds and the population in general. The admission of apprentices to guilds required an understanding and acceptance of important mutual duties and obligations, before the names were entered on the records of the guild. The issuing of approporate protective clothing in the form of a lambskin apron was necessary before training commenced.

Pope Sergius I (687-701) introduced the Agnus Dei, based on John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”, where John the Baptist refers to Jesus. The text in Latin is:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

which may be translated as:

Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world, grant us peace.

It is currently sung or recited in the Roman Rite, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church, and the Orthodox Church.

In the lectures which follow the ceremony of the first degree, the apprentice is given preliminary information. It would be too tedious to analyze these lectures at this time. Suffice it to say they are very superficial and of little worth in themselves. They must be understood and felt, if they are to be of any value. Briefly we may describe a Lodge as a place to work, a place to study, analyze, and master the moral science so that we may make use of the moral laws and principles in our every-day life.  Symbolically, it is representative of the world, our daily working place.

The foundation of the Lodge and its teaching is squareness. It is, however, supported by three pillars; Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. From which we may learn that in every undertaking, when intelligence or wisdom directs, and strength or power works, then beauty and harmony result.

The Lodge is covered with the blue vault of Heaven. Blue is the symbol of equality, it is a proper mingling of all colors, it is perfect concord. It is also symbolical of the universality of that charity, which should be as expansive as the blue vault of Heaven itself. Charity is not the giving of money alone. It is also necessary to have charity toward the weaknesses and mistakes of others.

This life is a checkered pavement of good and evil, but in the center is the blazing star which is the seed and the source of all life and eternal life.

The parallel lines have a symbolism analogous to that of the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, which is more fully developed in other degrees. The point in the center of the circle between the parallels is sometimes compared to the individual member and sometimes to God who is the center of all things.

The circumference may suggest the boundary of man’s conduct, or God’s creatures, all equally distant and all equally near to Him. Sometimes the circumference is used to depict the endless course of God’s power, and His existence without end. This is all speculation, it is symbolism, the contemplation of which will develop the individual.

If the apprentice pursues his studies in the moral art with freedom, fervency and zeal, he will receive Master’s, or larger wages, and be thereby the better enabled to support himself and family and to contribute the relief of the distressed.

The Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago breaks new ground

From REJournals.com – Leopardo begins work on Scottish Rite headquarters.

Leopardo Construction recently began work on a 61,000-square-foot HQ of the Valley of Chicago Scottish Rite Cathedral Association.

The new two-story building, located at the corner of Lake Street and Medinah Road in Bloomingdale, will feature a museum and library, traditional lodge hall, kitchen facilities, dining room for 290 people, bar and game room, grand hall, administrative offices, theater with seating for 270, and parkign for 190 cars.

“The history of the Scottish Rite will be evident in the interior by integrating symbology, patterns, artwork, and historic items from the former Scottish Rite Cathedral on North Dearborn Street in Chicago,” said Gregory Klemm, Valley of Chicago executive secretary and chief operating officer.

“Given the Scottish Rite’s great history in artisanry, architecture and construction, we are honored to be building such a prestigious and significant facility for the fraternal organization,” said Michael Behm, senior vice president at Leopardo.

Check out the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago website which has a lot of great information on The Rite in the Windy City.

From the images, it looks like a beautiful new facility.

History in the making

An Historic event took place on September 11, 2010 with the cornerstone laid at the new Judicial Center in Lancaster County Virginia.

This is the first time that both The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons of Virginia and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia Free and Accepted Masons, Incorporated who jointly performed a cornerstone laying.

Words and photos courtesy of Brother William Baumbach.

For more photos please visit the full album of the event.

double headed eagle

American Scottish Rite – Unexpressed Potential?

double headed eagleBy Bro. C.G.
32nd Scottish Rite Mason,
Valley of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

I have often wondered the reasons why the Scottish Rite, one of the most complex, complete and fascinating initiatic systems of the Western tradition, is often compressed in a single two- or three day-Reunion in all, or most, to the best of my knowledge, Valleys in the United States. At a time when it was required to be a York or Scottish Rite Mason to be admitted into the Shrine, this probably made sense, although it deprived the Scottish Rite of part of the effectiveness of its ritual. This is not so anymore. Free from the constraints of allowing Masons to rush through its degrees, I believe it would greatly benefit the Scottish Rite and probably the whole of Freemasonry, if candidates were allowed to go through the degrees more gradually.

Freemasons in American Valleys have the rare chance of watching the degree work staged in beautiful halls and auditoriums and rendered with exquisite magnificence, costumes and scenography. I believe American Masons deserve more time to savor the Scottish Rite degrees and to better understand the lessons they heard during the Reunions. I know I would have wanted to be granted more time, when I was initiated to the SR in the US. I needed more time before passing on to the following degree. The amount of teachings that candidates are confronted with is so big that it is doubtful that they can retain everything they are presented. Would it not be better, for instance, to be conferred the degree of Secret Master during the first Reunion, to let the masonic path of the Scottish Rite commence with the gravity it deserves, without rushing?Then, at the following Reunions, maybe at intervals of at least one year, the degrees of Perfect Elu, Knight of Roise Croix, Knight of Kadosh and Master of the Royal Secret could be conferred, so to respectively complete the Lodge of Perfection, the Chapter, the Council and the Consistory. Actually, this is similar to what our brethren in my home country, Italy, do. I think it makes sense. I do not think many Masons would object to this new modus-operandi, because it would allow them to discover a wealth of new degrees that are usually just rushed through. It would allow them to attend meetings in the Lodge of Perfection, in the Chapter, the Council, the Consistory, and display their regalia. It would increase attendance to the SR Reunions, because whole classes would come back to receive the following degrees. It would make the study of the SR ritual and teachings easier, because it would be gradual, slower.

Besides, Masons are Traveling Men, and the goal of Freemasonry is to improve men, to make good men better by letting them progress, step by step, degree after degree, along a masonic path of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Isn’t Freemasonry a journey? Why shorten it, then? By making it quicker we are not helping Freemasonry to achieve its goal, we are actually risking to hinder it and not fully appreciate its power. I think the Scottish Rite has the potential to help generate membership to Freemasonry, but this potential must be unleashed. The Scottish Rite can be on of the brightest gems of Freemasonry, and the power of its ritual could lead the way to attract new members to our Institution. However, as long as it is reined in by the constraints of short Reunions, I am afraid it will just be a shimmer in darker skies.