With the Hadron Collider as the inspiration, scientists are now looking for new linear super collider that’s even bigger with costs expected to exceed £8.5 billion with funding from China, India, and Russia.
The goal is a new particle slinger with the mission of searching for the elusive God Particle , the Higgs boson, as well as the neigh invisible dark matter. How do they plan to do it? Easy, by simulating the Big Bang of nearly 14 million years ago at the creation of the universe.
What better place to start in ones quest for LVX than at its very creation.
You can read much more on the Linear Collider on its website.
by Charles Lloyd Mashburn Jr. 32° Thunderbolt Lodge # 693 Thunderbolt, Georgia
As a young Freemason involved in my Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite of the Valley of Savannah, Georgia the idea of a place of unity for all the orders of Freemasonry has been a thought in my mind for many years. Being an architectural graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia gave me the opportunity to put these thoughts to practice. The concept is to create universal temple of Freemasonry through the design of a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture. This architectural design and concept would use Freemason symbolism and will become a new symbol of Freemasonry for the 21st century. There hasn’t been a symbol of unity in Freemasonry since King Solomon’s Temple in 965 BCE. The UTF will become that new symbol of unity through enlightenment. The principle concept is to create a place where all Freemasons acknowledge one another, no matter their typology. Defining a new progressive ideal of Masonic unity as: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light.
“The Unity of Light” A Universal Temple of Freemasonry Jerusalem, Israel
Albert Pike said, “We have all the light we need; we just need to put it in practice.”
The unity of light in the fraternal order of Freemasonry is dwindling because of the different offspring of the original orders blueprint. The non acceptance of these offspring has prevented “Masonic Light” from reaching the “Roots of Unity”. This diffraction of light has lead to certain orders not acknowledging other orders within the brotherhood of Freemasonry. This is a contradictory of Freemasonry’s primary teaching of brotherly love and unity. There are Freemasonry lodges in almost all the countries of the world.
There are many members of varied religious faiths. The spectrum of religions span from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism, etc. The lack of solidarity of these lodges and the communication between them has been non progressive to the goal of unity in Freemasonry. These issues are a driving force for the decline of Freemasonry in societies around the world. The non recognition of the individual aspects and elements that comprise the lodges are evident in the many orders of Freemasonry.
These issues are a dividing force for the decline of Freemasonry in societies around the world. The non recognition of the individual aspects and elements that comprise the lodges are evident in the many order of freemasonry.
The American orders for example might not recognize a lodge of Freemasonry in one state from another state because of its bylaws or codes. Another issue in certain State Grand Lodges is that they might not acknowledge other Masons order of Freemasonry. The unity is no better internationally.
This is a fundamental problem for some Grand Lodges in other countries is that they do not allow women in lodge meetings. These orders need to come to a common agreement through the core values of Freemasonry. It is crucial to the survival and creation of a new blueprint for the order in the next century. This is the time in Freemasonry to write a new chapter in history by adopting the idea of unification for all the orders of Freemasonry into a well defined organization of unity.
A redefining idea of unity, presented through a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture, will become a symbol of unity for Freemasonry around the world. The creation of such a symbol will bring a coming of age in Freemasonry in the 21st century. That creation is a Universal Temple of Freemasonry.
The Universal Temple of Freemasonry (UTF) will be situated in Jerusalem, Israel. The selection of Jerusalem, Israel as the location site is significant to Freemasonry throughout the world. King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem became the symbolic birthplace of Freemasonry. The proposed UTF site is outside the wall of the Holy City and is situated across from the Damascus Gate. In the history of Jerusalem, the Damascus Gate was the entry point where the religious pilgrims would enter the Holy City via traveling the Damascus road from the city of Damascus.
This is significant to Freemasonry because Freemasons are known as “Traveling Men.” This comparison of the religious pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem in search of Holy Light mirrors the idea of freemasons traveling to Jerusalem in search of Masonic Light.
The site is located between the Armistice Lines of 1957, which divides the different regions and religions of Jerusalem. This area is known as the “No-Man’s Land”, It is a land buffer between the different social, political, and religious persons and is considered by people in Jerusalem to be a site of a neutral nature. The site was also selected because of the discovery of King Solomon’s Quarry in 1854 in a cave system beneath the Damascus Gate and the Old City of Jerusalem. A large chamber was discovered that has been stated to be the site of Freemasonry Hall used by the Templar Knights in the Crusades. The incorporation and placement of Masonic architectural elements in the UTF and its interior spaces are essential to the function and significance of the building to the site. The acknowledgment and study of historical Freemasonry architecture and sites in Jerusalem will influence and define the symbolic meaning to the building and site.
The construction of the UTF in Jerusalem, Israel will influence the surrounding cultural through Masonic unity. The UTF will be the new unifying symbol for all masons around the world. The lodge will explore the knowledge and growth of brotherly unity in religion, philosophy, and morality within Freemasonry. This will become an expressing of ideals to the region of Jerusalem and the world.
The UTF will influence unity through a new idea of Freemasonry: Education = Knowledge = Light = Unity = Masonic Light. The world orders of Freemasonry will be defined as the primary client. The non – Masonic community will define the secondary client. This place of unity and its client will change through the unification of the different orders into a more defined organization. The unification will create a new primary client known as humanity and will influence humanity through unity in religion, philosophy, and morality.
This new idea Freemasonry: Education = Knowledge = Light = Unity = Masonic Light will consist of elements that will unite the orders of Freemasonry. The Masonic Museum, (Education): is the first part of the new idea of Freemasonry. It will give members of all the orders of Freemasonry and the visiting public an understanding of Freemasonry history and its effect on world history. The second is the Masonic Library, (Knowledge): will further educate the members of freemasonry and the visiting public through research. This research of Freemasonry will influence people from different societies to evolve to the new Freemasonry idea of unity.
The third is the Masonic Lodge of Unity: (Unity), which will be known as, “The Sanctum Sanctorum”. The creation of a lodge room known as the “Sanctum Sanctorum” in the UTF will influence the different orders of Freemasonry to embrace unity through the idea that the journey for the search of light ends in a destination called “Unity.” All Freemasonry orders must be unified before entering the “Sanctum Sanctorum.” Freemasonry member will meet in this place of unity once a year to express the overwhelming idea of unity among the Freemasonry orders. The fourth is the five different lodge rooms for the five different orders of Freemasonry: (Masonic Light), will be defined as the Masonic Light. These lodge rooms will give the different orders a place of unity where the different orders can meet throughout the year at the UTF.
The achievement of unity will be derived from and be driven by the hope of unification through my research. I have created a visual and physical progressive architecture that will influence unity among the orders of Freemasonry. This search for the unity of light has a frame work of ideas that incorporates unification through related topics in the different orders of Freemasonry. The history of symbolism and philosophy in Freemasonry incorporated with other related Freemasonry elements will be the foundation of the UTF.
My research of Masonic elements consists of the sacred geometries and how they are relevant to Freemasonry. The past influence of these sacred geometries on Masonic and non Masonic architecture will influence the idea of unity through their application in the visual and physical aspects of the UTF design process.
The goal is to provide a Universal Temple of Freemasonry that will redefined the ideal principles for the unification of the Freemasonry orders. Unity and brotherly love are a fundamental ideal of Freemasonry.
There hasn’t been a symbol of unify in Freemasonry since King Solomon’s Temple in 965 BCE. The UTF will become that new symbol of unity through enlightenment. The principle new idea is to create a place where all Freemasons acknowledge one another, no matter their typology. Defining a new progressive ideal of Masonic unity as: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light.
A redefining idea of unity, presented through a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture, will become a symbol of unity for Freemasonry around the world. The creation of such a symbol will bring a coming of age in Freemasonry in the 21st century.
The primary outcome of the creation of The Universal Temple of Freemasonry is to unite the different orders of Freemasonry through the design of a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture. The secondary outcome is to have this architecture and new idea influence better relations in the region of Jerusalem, Israel, by the implementing the new Freemasonry idea: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light. This new idea along with the idea of a new age of progressive architecture will influence all relationships towards mankind and hopefully peace in the region of Jerusalem, Israel.
The following outlook of Freemasonry was shared with me with much trepidation and concern over its reaction. Permission to publish it was granted if the author could remain Anonymous.
I’ve heard these same words from others in recent months, and it struck me that they were not isolated or merely dissident voices in the wilderness — rather that they were a real malaise that is overtaking the once previously engaged. Disenchantment, disenfranchisement, disappointment, no matter what bucket you quantify it into, I am hearing about these feelings more and more.
Always looking for the silver lining, this would be a good jump off point to explore the sentiment as we proceed to get at its roots. Do you share this same feeling?
Disillusionment with Freemasonry
After serving the fraternity for over ten years now, I’ve stopped to look back as to what I accomplished and how Freemasonry has changed. I’ve been through the chairs and served my Lodge faithfully, participating in several work parties, fund raisers, and other events. I’ve been found proficient in degree work and recognized for work in Masonic Education. I have also participated in several district and state level functions. Thanks to the Internet, I have corresponded with Masons from around the world, listening to their problems as well as their advice. Whenever a Brother asked for help, whether near or far, I leant a helping hand. My Masonic knowledge and experience led me into a position where I was frequently consulted for advice and leadership. It also led me into petty politics where I was confronted by those jealous of my notoriety and stubbornly undermined any effort to upgrade the Lodge and fraternity. I now look back and ask, “Did I make a difference? Is the fraternity or Lodge better off than when I was first initiated?”
I have slowly come to the realization that the answer is “No.”
I think the reason for this is because I suffered from a false perception of what Freemasonry was all about. As I entered the fraternity, I was under the impression that a True Mason was a man of character, integrity, honor, who possessed an intellectual curiosity about life, a person whose word is his bond. In other words, I perceived Masons as the bedrock of society.
Unfortunately, this is not what I discovered. I have traveled around quite a bit and met many Masons, most of whom are not of this stereotype. In fact, I would estimate less than 1% of our total membership can be characterized in this manner. And therein is where the bubble burst for me.
With the exception of those Brothers attempting to establish Traditional Observance (TO) Lodges, I have learned the vast majority of Masons are not serious people. They are more concerned with slapping backs as opposed to doing anything of substance. A lot of Masons will scratch and claw just to get their next apron or title. I tend to believe this is because they never did anything noteworthy in their professional careers and crave attention. In other words, they are trying to build their self-esteem at the cost of their Lodge, a sort of “While Nero fiddled Rome burned” phenomenon. I guess this is why I find it amusing to hear conspiracy theorists try to warn the public of how Freemasonry is trying to dominate the world. Too funny.
The fraternity is dying and nobody is doing anything about it, least of all at the Grand Lodge level. Freemasonry is an institution who stubbornly clings to the past and resists any attempts to change and modernize. It’s decaying before our eyes.
Disillusionment comes when expectations are not met, when beliefs are not realized. Disillusionment leads to frustration which often leads to anger. At some point though, you have to deal with it. As I see it, there are only a few options available:
Stay and passively accept the status quo — representing total surrender.
Stay and continue to try and change the system internally — impossible due to the political stranglehold Grand Lodges hold over the fraternity.
Take a leave of absence — whereby the problems will still be waiting for you when you return.
Resign and start a new strain of Freemasonry — which is very tempting but difficult to do on a large scale.
Resign, lick your wounds and move along with your life.
This last option, unfortunately, is what many men opt to do as opposed to fighting the powers that be.
Consider for example our free-falling decline in membership. Aside from death and transfers, think about those members suspended for nonpayment of dues which in some grand jurisdictions is on the rise. One cannot help but ask why this is occurring. Because of the economy? Perhaps. More likely they are not getting anything meaningful out of Freemasonry. Even when Grand Masters offer amnesty programs to encourage members to return to the flock, very few do.
Those men who would normally take an active role in Masonry are being driven away in droves due to complacency, apathy, and politics, three ugly words that unfortunately characterize Freemasonry today and causes disillusionment.
Freemasonry has become more of a philanthropy than a fraternity, a political playhouse as opposed to a true brotherhood. It is sad to see a once noble institution crumble before our eyes into an irrelevant institution.
The following was originally published in 2007. It is one of several essays in the book Masonic Traveler, where you can find a more refined and extended version of this missive.
Since this original publication in 2007, the dialog increased only to taper off again to a quiet whisper, if heard anywhere at all. In 2008/9 Stephen Dafoe produced a rebuttal of sorts, not in the context – but in the meaning of the numbers. His conclusions can be found in the article There’s a Hole in our Bucket, but I recommend that you read it after this piece so as to put all the information into context.
Changing Masonic Membership
The question above has been an institutional answer (yes, I said answer) that has plagued Masonry for the last 50 years. When I first heard it’s asking, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. I wasn’t even sure if I should talk about as it seemed like an internal problem, and not the fodder for the rank and file (you and me) to ponder. It wasn’t until my own realization that it was the rank and file that was ultimately the cause and effect of the question AND answer when its implications became clear.
As the adage goes, if you don’t talk about it, how do you fix it? And in such a large fraternity I felt that we absolutely needed to talk about it, NOW.
In doing some research, I found myself at the website for the MSANA, which is the Masonic Service Association of North America which is a national clearinghouse for all things Masonic in North America, but specifically an informational collection agency that gathers data and publishes literature for the overall benefit of the craft.
One of the items I found there were statistics on membership (now in archive) from 1925 to 2005.
The statistics are the national numbers of membership in the United States from 1930-2000 not graphed, but in a pretty uninteresting grid of data.
From a surface analysis what it showed was an early high figure, a dip, a huge growth period, and then a dramatic down trend in membership, specifically from a period of 1960 to close to present day. The graph below was created from this data.
What it charts is the membership numbers from 1925 to 2005.
For a comparison, this graph is the US population in the same period.
Obviously, the numbers are dramatically different – Freemasonry at one to four million and the US population at 100 to almost 300 million, but what it illustrates by contrast is the dramatic rise in US population (about half of which are male +/- 51/49%) and the dramatic decrease to male membership.
What I want to illustrate here is that while the US population has steadily increased, the population of Freemasonry has steadily decreased, substantially.
So to the question, so what?
Most who have been members for a significant time know that the membership of Freemasonry is changing. Lodge rooms are seating fewer and fewer members, old buildings bought and built in the boom era are being sold off as membership roles shrink and charters evaporate. We know that already, this isn’t new information. Every Masonic publication has said this at some point or another – “our numbers are retracting, that we felt a boom with the returning vets of WWII and Korea, and that their numbers swelled our ranks to their record numbers, topping at a height of 4,103,161 in 1959” -the glory days of the ancient and honorable.
But since that high water mark we have been in a steady decline in membership.
Again the question, so what?
The decline of the 1960’s and 70’s is often blamed on the selfish attitudes of the “tuned out” generation, the hippy turned Baby-Boomer, with widespread distrust of past paternal institutions, and a growth in a personal individuality, no one wanted to join, even when they later came of age the attitude of “Forget doing what Daddy did” and “why do I want to be a part of a secret institution of good old boys” prevailed. But was that really the problem?
I’m sure if analyzed in an academic fashion, we could explore the “why Freemasonry changed” notion in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, but I wonder if it would be enough to give us a real answer.
Some have suggested it was the institutional change towards fraternalism. Others suggest that it picked up and patriotic flavor of Americanism with the high number of veterans that came to its ranks. Trying to associate the increase to any one reason is difficult at best.
What the numbers do tell us is that in 10 year intervals, from 1960 to 2005, membership dropped by an average of 560,152 members. On the graph, you can see the decline to 2005. Distilling the numbers, it comes out to an average of a 20% decrease in membership per 10-year period.
By the years it breaks out to:
1959, membership at its height was at 4,103,161
1960 – 1970 there was a loss of 336,006 a decrease of 8.19%
1970 – 1980 there was a loss of 511,685 a decrease of 13.597%
1980 – 1990 there was a loss of 719,885 a decrease of 22.14%
1990 – 2000 there was a loss of 690,474 a decrease of 27.274%
2000 – 2010* there was a loss of 542,714 a decrease of 29.477% (*Calculated by doubling the loss from 2000 to 2005)
Updated numbers at bottom.
The average loss, per year, was 20% (20.2%)
Again the question “so what”, we already know this, these numbers are not secret. They are published in an open forum for the public to see.
The overall calculation led to an extrapolation, if the fraternity lost on average 560,152 members, per decade – from 2010 to 2020, our national number of members would be under 1 million members at 738,303. In ten more years 2020 to 2030 our national member base would be 178,151.
That number again is one hundred and seventy eight thousand one hundred and fifty one TOTAL Freemason’s in North America by 2030, which led me to speculate that the last American Freemason would probably be somewhere in about 2034 or so.
Ok, so this is a worst-case scenario, this is an assumption that we will continue to lose the same 560,000 members a year, due to attrition, brothers passing, or low community interest. The overall numbers tell me that the loss % per year is INCREASING; not decreasing, but maybe the trend is just that, a trend. It should be said that at present, 2005 numbers show our fraternity at numbers lower than the 1925 watermark, when the US population was less than half of what it is today. What appears to be happening is not just a “correction”, that it is not simply the Fraternity going back to the “way things were” at the turn of the 20th century, rather that it is something much worse at play and further outside the scope of our control.
Taken from another angle, we can say that over the same 50-year period, we did average out to a 20% loss per year. These numbers are far less frightening and show a slower descent over the next one hundred years. In 2030, where the first model takes us to extinction in the percentage model we sit at just over 800,000 members. It isn’t until 2130 that we get to fewer than 100,000. But again, that is at a steady 20% decrease no ups, no downs, steady. The trend in the last 50-year cycle has been one of a steady increase in percentage loss, 8.9%, 13.59%, 22.14%, 27.27%, and 29.47%. This model, though more positive, seems less likely.
At the other end of the spectrum, some locations so seem to indicate an upward trend in membership. In areas that lost 4000 members, they took in 2000, diminishing the overall drop, but even these anecdotal statistics only suggest a change in trend without much ability to forecast realistically where the descent will level off.
Again the question, so what?
With those of us left, we become the inheritors of Freemasonry here in America, and need to address the question of what we are going to do about it. I have read a Laudable Pursuit as I am sure many other masons have, I attend meetings, pay my dues, and heed the length of my cable tow, but is that enough?
Are dynamic meetings, meaningful Masonic education, Traditional Observance Lodges, Festive Boards, or low cost spaghetti or fish fry dinners the answer? Are even the boldest Grand Lodge programs such as the Massachusetts Is there Greatness in you? Marketing Campaign or the California Masonic Formation movement, enough? What generated interest in the past?
To answer this question we need to ask what Freemasonry has lost — what component of our fraternity did we lose in the transition of the 1950’s into the 1990’s that closed us off from the moral imagination of society? What changed?
Was it the success of the offshoot “clubs” whose focus on charity or drama plays, rather than esoteric transference, took prominence?
Did we, institutionally, become afraid of what our own metaphysical/spiritual fraternity represented?
Were we marginalized as an increasingly religious America took over, forcing out interfaith institution?
Did American Freemasonry fall out of progressive step with the evolving landscape of American women’s issues, and racial equality taking the forefront but still at odds in the fraternity dedicated to the moral high ground?
It was in the periods of transition from the 19th to the 20th century that many esoteric or occult works were created that seem to evoke the spirit of the coming age of Masonry. Did their promise grow silent on the lips of those who took the reins of leadership?
Just a small (yet significant) marker I can point to that symbolically illustrates the transition was the name change of the monthly Scottish Rite Magazine formerly known as the New Age Magazine in 1989.
Its true that in the mid century a degree of quackery took hold of the metaphysical giving birth to an explosion of Self Help and “Occult” practices. Did Masonry’s hasty retreat from all things esoteric help steer the fraternity towards the rocks of fraternal obscurity? Did we become afraid of our own esoteric shadow marginalizing our own traditions effectively doing this to ourselves?
The one thing that so many outsiders look to Freemasonry to provide is a degree of esoteric wisdom and education, yet we can barely articulate to the answer to the simple question of “what does Freemasonry represent”? Our tradition is betwixt pointing one way with progressive learning, equality of faiths, and metaphorical death and members pointing another with social fraternalism, overt patriotism, and faux civic engagement – is it a social club or a path to self enlightenment?
As the numbers continue to descend, some possible scenarios to consider is the separation of the Shrine from the craft lodge system. With the success that the Shrine has enjoyed in this last century, why would they keep the requirement of the Blue Lodge membership, if the blue lodge can barely support itself let alone its drive for localized charity. Especially now in the face of diminished revenue and potential loss of its charitable hospitals. In its present configuration, can it afford to not take in now blue lodge members?
Another scenario is the separation of the Scottish Rite to become its own degree imparting body. What is to keep them from offering the degrees as more Craft lodges start to close? Maybe it makes more sense to pool the resources and go with the bigger temples that the Scottish Rite inhabits. The easy answer is, of course not, but as the feeder blue lodge membership continues to plummet, at what point will desperation take hold and other options become more enticing? Are the American Rites prepared to cease operations if memberships diminish to an unsustainable level?
So what? So what can we do about this?
The most effectual answer I can come up with, individually, to the “SO WHAT” question is nothing.
We can, at this point in time do nothing to turn this trend around. No matter how many open houses, public lectures, marketing campaigns, sports sponsorships, television commercials, radio spots, billboards, or finite programs promoted by individual lodges or Grand Lodges will stem the hemorrhage. Even if the blue lodge started giving away memberships, it’s doubtful that we could find enough people who even remembered who the Freemasons are, and even fewer who would want to become one. The damage is already done, and we are now in a free fall that threatens to erase the remains of North American Freemasonry. This means the closure and roll back of individual state Grand Lodges. This will mean the selling of more Masonic properties and assets, and the selling or divesting publicly of our privately funded billion dollar institutions.
This means the end of Freemasonry as we know it today.
But all is not lost and that there are things that we , individually, can do now to start to effect change. The greatest challenge will come in our re-shaping the perception of what the fraternity represents and that its history, both real and imagined, becomes a part of who we are. And by understanding that, we can embrace it and celebrate that diversity and begin to explore those ideas that we left off from a century ago. As a body we can pause and consider out institution and how it relates to its broader impact on civil society. Is OUR venerable institution living up to the promises that our very Rites espouse? Do we treat ALL people equally, no matter of Race, Gender, Religion, or Preference? Are we striving to make social progress?
In the next 30 years the landscape of what we call Regular Freemasonry will be radically different than what we see today. The sooner we come to see that NOW, to talk about it, and confront it head on – the sooner we can start planning on what we want to do about it. Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer and if we continue to insist on doing nothing about it WE will only further hasten OUR demise.
Our generation, RIGHT NOW, is the unwilling inheritor of the future of Freemasonry – what we do NOW dictates how our sons will come to know this ancient institution. If we ignore the problem, there won’t be any institution left.
And, of you who say “So What”, I ask that you look at the numbers for yourself and then draw your own conclusions,
Once you’ve seen them you’ll see that they speak for themselves.
Update – May 21, 2017
Period of 2010 – 2015 15.45%.
Period of 2005 – 2015 26.02% (calculated).
Doubling the loss from 2010-2015 (424,400) to calculate potential loss = 31% change.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed to the attentive crowd of the D8 tech conference, the latest secret logo of the Freemason/Facebook cabal. Seriously, its being reported everywhere, even if it is a bit cultish.
You’ll have to look for the logo, but you CAN pick up one for yourself on Ebay. You can see a big version of it at the SF Weekly blog.
It is, in fact, the mystical, magical, esoteric, and highly speculative Facebook 2010 business strategy logo, complete with its “off kilter” star of David center.
So it really is the Freemasons, I mean Facebook, that rules the world. So nefarious.
Thats it, the hoodie is out of the bag, back to robes and old fashioned cowel.
When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 there were about 500 Masonic lodges in the British Empire. By the time she died in 1901, there were nearly 2,000. All these new lodges needed equipment and all the new members needed their ceremonial costumes so these years also saw the development of specialist retailers who adopted modern marketing techniques to reach their audience. ‘The Masonic Emporium’ exhibition at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in Freemasons’ Hall in London’s Covent Garden explores the development of this market, telling the story of its suppliers and customers. It runs from Thursday 1 July to Thursday 23 December 2010 and is free of charge to all visitors.
The exhibition also explores how manufacturing for this market changed from a small scale cottage industry to larger scale production and how Masonic manufacturing took full advantage of increasing industrialisation. As Grand Lodge standardised the design of its regalia we find Masonic jewels changing from individual works by craftsmen like Thomas Harper to the commemorative medals for Queen Victoria’s Royal Jubilees in 1887 and 1897, made in their thousands by different companies to an identical pattern.
Robes and aprons, jewels and collars, tracing board and working tools, books and lodge stationery, decorative china and commemorative silverware, the needs of the individual mason both at the lodge and at home, the needs of both an ordinary lodge and the United Grand Lodge of England, this was the market the various companies competed against each other to supply. The fruits of their labour can be seen in the Library and Museum today. This is the history explored in ‘The Masonic Emporium’.
Exhibition Title: The Masonic Emporium
Venue: The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Freemasons’ Hall,
Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AZExhibition dates: Thursday 1 July – Thursday 23
December 2010. Exhibition free of charge to all visitors
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. Museum closed at weekends.
One of the great things about the internet is how people with seemingly nothing in common can exchange ideas without ever actually meeting in person. Such is the case when I recently began exchanging emails with an amateur historian, an epidemiologist, and a professor of sociology. At first, it seemed that our only common bond was that we all share an interest in Freemasonry; however over time it developed that we all had some questions about our gentle Craft that have never been satisfactorily answered. As we began discussing the dilemma, we also found that we were able to integrate our various fields of knowledge in order to work through the problem. In doing so, we believe that we have managed to solve one of the most puzzling issues in the early history of the fraternity.
We now have some serious evidence pointing to the origins of what is commonly known as The Hiramic Legend in the Master Mason degree.
Some brief background: Early Freemasonry had only two degrees, the Entered Apprentice, and Fellowcraft (i.e., Fellow of the Craft). This situation was extant before the 1717 formation of the Grand Lodge of England, and continued for some years afterward. Yet, sometime in the mid-1700s, records show that various lodges seemed to have begun performing some variation of this legend. The origins of the drama are unknown, but is often attributed to being some kind of morality play. The drawback of this theory is that the legend draws on the Biblical story of Hiram Abiff; in the Old Testament, Hiram is a relatively minor character. More confusing is the rather obvious paradox in which the Masonic legend deviates so drastically from the actual Old Testament story: in the OT, Hiram Abiff comes to help King Solomon build his famed Temple, and when finished, goes home to his family with some considerable payment. In the Masonic drama, however, Hiram is shown to be struck down before the completion of the Temple by three Fellowcrafts, who then attempt to hide his body in a makeshift grave out in the dessert. This is the most extreme departure from Biblical scripture recorded in any of the dozens of Masonic ceremonies, and it stands to reason that there is a purpose for this. By taking what we know about Masonic history from that era, and placing it within the context of the social and cultural aspects of the time, we believe that we have discovered that purpose.
To understand the social context, we need to consider that the early 1700s was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution; prior to this period, most people lived an agrarian-based lifestyle. However, as more factories were built in and around the cities, larger populations were drawn into the urban areas, and by the mid-1700s, larger numbers of people left the farming communities to see work in the factories. Not surprisingly, the population explosion led to issues of public hygiene: the spread of disease, the disposal of wastes, and the proper internment of the growing number of the deceased.
Although we can trace Freemasonry back to the late 1400s and early 1500s, it wasn’t until the early to mid 1700s that we see the rise of organized networks of Masons, via the formation of Grand Lodges. There are no records as to why several London lodges decided to formalize their arrangement, but it wasn’t long before other lodges joined the network — and it was a network, as the lodges we more able to freely exchange information, including the variations of their rituals and ceremonies. It is significant to note that during this period, There were still only the two degrees in Masonry; “Master” Masons were those who were literally Masters of their lodges. Likewise, the degree ceremonies were relatively simple and the basic ceremonies were essentially the same in each lodge, although many lodges had their own particular set of “lectures” for the candidates.
At some point in the early to mid 1700s, we see records of lodges adding a type of morality play to the degree ceremonies. The main character varies in some of the earliest versions, but by the third quarter of the 1700s, that character was solidified as Hiram Abiff, and the stories became more consistent. Interestingly, they all contain similar elements: A character is beset by three assailants, and is then murdered; each assailant using a different weapon and attacking a different part of the character’s body. In many variations, the Hiramic legend specifies that Hiram is struck across the throat, in the chest, and in the head. The assailants (often referred to as the “Ruffians” in North America) strike with tools commonly associated with Masons: A square, a rule (sometimes called the 24 inch gauge), and a mallet or setting maul.
While Masons often assume that the assailants use those particular tools as a way to tie in to the traditional working tools in the various degrees, as we unearthed more information about the underlying social context, it became obvious that this line of reasoning has it backwards; that is, the legend itself is an instructional play that uses these tools as a way to reinforce knowledge to which only a few were at one time privy. And while we can not yet account for the reasoning behind using the character Hiram Abiff (except that he is a relatively minor character in the OT, and the change of storyline would be easily forgotten), we believe that the traditional lessons taught by this drama — about his integrity and bravery in the face of death — intentionally overshadow the real lessons that needed to be passed down to the new generations of Masons living in the crowded cities and urban areas. In this light, it is the Ruffians themselves who are the teachers and exemplars.
Consider: the three blows to Hiram are the neck, chest, and head. Why? Ignoring the symbolism behind this, those are the traditional and time-tested points of attack in order to dispatch revenants; those re-animated corpses that wander the countryside in search of living flesh.
It appears that the Three Ruffians are exemplifying the secret art of what the popular media now might call zombie hunting.
It’s easy to dismiss this as nonsense because in our modern era, revenants are portrayed as either sexy, sparkly, quasi-supernatural creatures, or as shambling, brain-devouring bogeymen. But before modern medicine and proper burial techniques, folks in the rural areas and countryside knew that periodically some unknown force would re-animate the newly buried, who then roamed the area terrorizing the denizens with their mindless taste for flesh until they were put down. In fact, until Bram Stoker’s fictional account in the late 1800s, there really were few distinctions between what we now call vampires and zombies; they were simply the re-animated, walking dead.
The question now presents itself: how do the Freemasons figure into this?
Consider that before the late years of the Industrial Revolution, firearms were rare, and most people themselves could not afford metal tools and implements, let alone weaponry (and at some points in history, metal weapons were forbidden to those not of the noble class).This is one of the reasons that a wooden stake through the heart became part of vampire lore: no rural farmers had swords, but skewers, posts, and spindles were easy to come by. Although superstitions attached more importance to the idea of using wood, obviously the important part was destroying the heart.
As the need for Masons grew during the period from the 1300s on up, Masons became a well-traveled, and therefore, more educated, class of worker. Small groups of Masons were almost always carrying various tools and implements, often made of metal. Our research suggests that when traveling through sparsely populated areas, some Masons, being less superstitious than the local population, developed a means of eliminating these revenants in such a way as to expose themselves to as little harm as
possible. This information they eventually passed on to other traveling brothers, after making sure that those brothers would not reveal such secrets to the superstitious; the Catholic Church was still strong in Europe, and since most Masons were employed at cathedrals and monasteries, they would not want to be perceived to be trafficking with the undead.
This brings us to the methods that the early Masons used to eradicate the revenants. Since Masons often traveled in small groups, each would step in for a short, quick attack, then step aside to allow the next attack. While it is suggestive that this two or three pronged approach may have been passed along from the Knights Templar, this is mere conjecture on our part, as the evidence for the link between the early Freemasons and the Templars are unsubstantiated, and beyond the scope of our research. Perhaps at some future time we will be able to explore Templar history to determine how much exposure they would have had to revenants in the Middle East, but for now, we are only concerned with the suppression of the living dead within England and western Europe.
The Masonic method itself is ruthlessly simple. Upon being confronted with an approaching revenant, the first Mason steps in to strike a blow across the throat with an edged implement, such as a rule or stick. If the implement is an edged weapon, such as a sword (a Tyler’s sword?), full or partial decapitation would be the hoped-for outcome. However, even wooden measuring sticks will serve to damage the airway of the creature.
That Mason steps out of the way, and the second traveler will strike a blow across the chest or midsection. This serves to momentarily stun and confuse the creature for the (quite literally) coup d’etat, in which the last, and presumably strongest Mason smashes a hammer, mallet, setting maul, or some other heavy, blunt instrument into the head of the stunned revenant. Minimal risk, maximum damage.
It should be pointed out that blows to these three areas correspond to killing points in more conventional zombie and vampire lore: midsection (heart), neck, and head (brains). Again, understanding that folktales from the middle ages made little distinction between what we now think of as vampires or zombies, it’s easy to see why this method was adopted.
As notions about public health, medicine, disease, microbes, sewage, control, etc., became more widespread, the cases of revenants declined. Soon, entire lodges of Masons might form without any of the members ever having seen, or indeed, having heard of one. Freemasons became one more of the dozens, nay, hundreds of social clubs in metropolitan Europe. As this happened, the secrets of revenant killing were being lost. We believe that it is safe to assume that some inner group kept these secrets alive by codifying them into a ritual in which new generations of Masons could be taught, without making it obvious, and therefore, more more public. Thus, the legend of Hiram being killed by the Ruffians was developed.
When our researches led us to these conclusions, we spent some time in wondering if there were something that we were missing; given our assumptions, wouldn’t that make Hiram Abiff a zombie or vampire of sorts? Possible signs in the drama we noticed in context were the disagreeable effluvia and the mangled condition of his body (both zombie and vampire lore make references to the unbearable stench of death from the creatures), and certainly one could make conjectures about “raising” him from the grave. But eventually we decided this line of reasoning was inane, and stuck to the more reasonable explanations. In fact, this could well explain why the early dramas featuring other Biblical characters, notably Noah and his three (note the number!) sons eventually morphed into the lesser known Hiram: the lessons about how to defend against the revenants was a lesson hidden inside another lesson, i.e., the morality play about Hiram’s integrity and honor.
Indeed, when you look at the dramatic enactment of Hiram and the Ruffians in the Temple of Solomon, it becomes clear that the Masons actually have been passing down a secret; only, it’s not the esoteric knowledge that we tend to associate with Freemasons, but practical, operative knowledge. Indeed, in some areas Masonic ritual explains that “tools and implements are carefully chosen by our Fraternity to imprint upon the memory [certain] wise and serious truths.” In other words, to the true initiates, the ceremony was to reinforce the time-tested method of eradication. If it weren’t making light of so serious a situation, I’d suggest that this parallels the “wax on, wax off” education shown in the old “Karate Kid” movies.
Why teach in this manner? Because in sparsely populated agricultural regions, infestations of revenants were probably rare occurrences, and few Masons had to opportunity to experience such circumstances in person. However, as more people moved to the cities in the early 1700s, public hygiene and proper burial techniques did not keep up with the population boom. As the infection which causes “zombieism”, i.e., re-animation became more wide-spread, Masons, with their tools of the trade and penchant for secrecy, were particularly well-suited to deal with the threats. We believe that the Freemasons of London (and later, those in other cities and countries) entered into an agreement — a conspiracy of sorts — with the local and national governments: Masons would continue to practice their strange rituals without interference as long as they continued to watch for and exterminate the reanimated creatures — quietly, of course, so as not to cause a wide-scale panic. From this, it’s not hard to see how rumors of secret Masonic / government conspiracies could have grown into the outlandish idea that the anti-Masons now have.
Now that we have come close to establishing the origins of the Hiramic legend, where do we go from here?
We suspect that there is still a core group, an inner cadre of Freemasons who are knowledgeable about the existence of the revenants, and who still maintain the agreements with world governments so as not to cause wide-spread panic. While we still believe that such cases are rare because of modern technology and medicine, there is some evidence that whatever causes zombieism has not been eradicated. Occasional news reports of unusual animal maulings, unexplained violent attacks, or mysterious disappearances of people hiking in wilderness or areas of low population seem to indicate that the dangers of zombie infestation are still a small, but extant threat.
Having made these discoveries, we are trying to convince the Grand Lodges of various jurisdictions to open their archives on this matter in order that we might better educate the public — both to make them aware of the potential dangers, and to teach them how to cope if faced with such a situation. Unfortunately, the several Grand Lodges that we have contacted about this issue have either denied any knowledge, or have completely ignored our communications.
We further believe that Freemasons of every jurisdiction have a duty to be alert, aware, and educated in these lost arts, should the situation arise in which — Grand Architect forbid! — the number of revenants overwhelm that small inner cadre. Remember, brothers: it’s quite possible that you and your lodge may be the only source of protection in your community.
Within every edifice there is a room of equal stature to the lodge room itself, though few are aware of its important stature. Hidden behind a wall of dining room chairs, institutional styled serving ware, and a Norman Rockwell styled feast, rests what was at one time where most of the lodge business took place. Votes not by hand or by ‘nay, but in conversation and deep and intimate discussion.
That room of antiquity, hidden in plain site, is the lounge, or in more eloquent parlance, the Salon.
So, in memory of the august room that once held the most august of meetings, introducing at FmI the Salon, a place for all things masculine, and every bit as important.
What we plan for in this new category is a cross section of Men’s issues, the types of discussion you might expect amongst your closest friends on topics that are (or may soon be) of interest or importance to you. From the easy fix on the car to which cigar goes best with which brandy. As family is of the utmost importance to every Mason their role in our discussion will play an integral part in what goes on in the Salon, as will issues of health, relationships, and well being.
What issues are on your mind? This is your Salon, pull up a chair, lets talk.
Lexington, Massachusetts – Are you registered yet?
This has been posted a few times, but some changes to the schedule have been made, and your shot at early registration is coming to a close, so if your in or around the Lexington Mass area, you need to attend this symposium!
Registration deadline draws near! Register by March 24, 2010.
On April 9, 2010, the National Heritage Museum, in Lexington, Massachusetts, will hold a symposium, “New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism.”
The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture.
Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida, and author of Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927, will open the day with a key note titled “Worlds of Brothers,” Harland-Jacobs’ paper will survey and assess the scholarship on American fraternalism and Freemasonry. Drawing on examples from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s, she will demonstrate that applying world history methodologies pays great dividends for our understanding of fraternalism as a historical phenomenon. Harland-Jacobs will conclude with some thoughts on how global perspectives can benefit contemporary American brotherhoods.
Professor Harlan Jacobs was a guest in Masonic Central in 2008.
Six scholars from the United States, Canada, and Britain will fill the day’s program:
Ami Pflugran-Jackisch, Assistant Professor of History, University of Michigan – Flint, “Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders in Antebellum Virginia”
Hannah M. Lane, Assistant Professor, Mount Allison University, “Freemasonry and Identity/ies in 19th-Century New Brunswick and Eastern Maine”
Nicholas Bell, Curator, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, “An Ark of the New Republic”
David Bjelajac, Professor of Art History, George Washington University, “Freemasonry, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the Fraternal Ethos of American Art”
Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, “Nationalism, Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s”
Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, “Klad in White Hoods and Aprons: American Fraternal Identities, Freemasonry, and the Ku Klux Klan in California, 1921-1928”
Adam was a guest on Masonic Central in 2008.
The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, 33°, N. M. J., U.S.A. Registration is $50 ($45 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception.