Elena Llamas, Director of Public Relations for The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library. Portrait by Travis Simpkins.
If you have a lot of Mason friends and follow various Masonic and related personalities, like I do, you for sure have noticed how profile photos have been shifting to the signature style portrait drawings of artist Travis Simpkins. Phoenixmasonry is pleased to have had the opportunity to interview this prolific artist so we can all learn more about him and his art.
EL (Elena Llamas): Hello, Bro. Travis, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am honored to have the chance to talk to you about your work, which I have been admiring for quite some time now.
TS (Travis Simpkins): Thank you. It is my pleasure.
EL: Tell us about your training as an artist. When did you know you had an interest and talent for art? Did you study art formally?
TS: I’m sure I must have possessed some innate talent as a child, but I didn’t really pursue many artistic interests until my teen years.
Artist Travis Simpkins
My art education was two-fold:
I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree from Anna Maria College [in Massachusetts] in 2002. At Anna Maria, the curriculum focused on traditional forms of art rendered through a diverse range of mediums, from painting to sculpture, but an emphasis was placed on working from life. Working from life means that you are looking at actual 3D models in front of you, be it people or objects.
I also undertook additional studies in Arizona with Photorealist artist James Frederick Mueller. Jim had some success in the 1970’s and 80’s, including a portrait commission of a former U.S. President. Along with the detailed logistics of the method, I learned a very valuable skill from Jim… the ability to create convincing portraits while working from photographs.
EL: Well, your portraits are definitely convincing!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Freemason and Composer of Masonic Music, by Travis Simpkins
TS: In my work, I still utilize both disciplines on a regular basis. I work from life while sketching objects in museums. With portraits, however, I work from photographs. Using photos offers greater freedom. I’m not limited by proximity and the internet has allowed the whole world to become an accessible market. I can accept commissions and create portraits of people I’ve never met, many of whom live thousands of miles away.
EL: That is wonderful, yes
TS: In the realm of art, portraiture has always been one of the most difficult subjects to master. It offers both a challenge and a sense of accomplishment. If you can render a human face, and do it well, then you can draw just about anything else. There will always be a demand for well-crafted, quality portraits.
EL: I believe you! You have to be true to what you see. It must be quite difficult.
Albert Pike, 33° Scottish Rite Freemason and Author of “Morals & Dogma” by Travis Simpkins
EL: Many portrait artists switch the background or medium of their work. You have a very unique and consistent signature style which involves a, and please excuse my lack of technical knowledge here, to the untrained eye it seems to involve a discreet pink background with black and white strokes in either pencil or charcoal. How did you develop this style and why have you remained consistent using it?
TS: It’s a classic sketching technique, utilized for hundreds of years, reminiscent of Old Master drawings. I just take that historic sense and extend it to contemporary subjects. The end result has a timeless quality, connecting the past and present in a relatable way.
EL: How interesting.
Benjamin Franklin. Statesman, Printer and Freemason, by Travis Simpkins
TS: I keep making portraits in that particular style for a few reasons. Firstly, I work on commission and create artwork to order. The charcoal drawings are popular and I keep getting requests for that particular aesthetic. As long as the business demand is there, I’ll keep producing them. Secondly, it’s important for an artist to have a unique style; to have their works be instantly recognizable as being created by their hand. For me, these portraits border on that signature element.
TS: Lastly, I simply enjoy creating them. I work quickly and lack the patience for slow and tedious mediums. Drawing offers a sense of spontaneity, immediacy and expressiveness that other art forms don’t.
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. Freemason, by Travis Simpkins
EL: I noticed some of the Freemasons you have drawn portraits for have Masonic pins on their clothes, that is a very nice signature detail of yours.
TS: Good portraits display some attribute, prop or element to convey the subject’s personal interests and passions. Small visual details can help to tell a person’s unique story. Over the course of their Masonic journey, many Masons are deservedly honored for their achievements, and I’ve found that Masonic jewels make great portrait accessories.
EL: Besides drawing a lot of esoteric, personal, and Masonic portraits, you also have a series of archeological drawings, is this another interest of yours?
TS: I work with several museums and cultural institutions, and those sketches are based on works of art displayed in museum collections. I am usually assigned to draw certain objects, but others are chosen for my own enjoyment. Those sketches are interesting in that they offer an interpretive connection with history, with ancient works of art being filtered through my viewpoint as an artist in the present.
Worcester Art Museum: Pre-Columbian Seated Male Figure, 900-1200 AD, by Travis Simpkins
TS: In my work with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, I create artwork for an ongoing HR program. I am tasked with creating sketches of works in the museum’s collection, which the museum then frames and presents as gifts to noteworthy recipients.
EL: That is awesome!
TS: I greatly enjoy the job, but more than that, I’m truly honored that the Gardner Museum recognizes the quality of my work and has chosen my art to represent their world-renowned collection.
Worcester Art Museum: Ancient Greek Corinthian Helmets, 550-450 BC, by Travis Simpkins
TS: Earlier this year, I began working as an Art Advisor with the Massachusetts Senate. One of our State Senators wanted to have college student artwork from his constituency represented in his office at the State House in Boston, and I helped draft an initiative and offered logistical advice for the project. It is quite rewarding, personally, to see the proud expressions on the faces of the students and their parents as the artwork is put on display at the state capitol.
TS: Last year, I was hired by the Worcester Historical Museum to create portraits of three generations of the Salisbury Family (17th-18th Century benefactors of the city). My artwork was put on display in the circa 1772 Salisbury Mansion, placed alongside paintings by colonial-era portraitist Gilbert Stuart. Gilbert Stuart painted the famous portrait of George Washington (used on the dollar bill) and is one of my artistic heroes, so that was quite an honor.
EL: Wow! That is fantastic!
George Washington Masonic Memorial. Cornerstone. Alexandria, Virginia, by Travis Simpkins
TS: I also work at the Worcester Art Museum, having taken on various roles from assisting in art classes to monitoring the safety and security of the artwork on display. I have also referred collectors I know to the Worcester Art Museum, and my efforts and connections in that regard have culminated in the addition of more than 300 works of art to WAM’s permanent collection, including 97 woodblock prints by Japanese artist Yoshida Toshi.
Art Security is a major concern of mine as well, both personally and professionally. I hold a certification from the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. I am a contributor to various art security forums, conducting research into art theft, preservation and archaeological ethics.
EL: How interesting. Keeping art safe is a challenge! Your wife is also a talented artist.
TS: My wife, Janet, is an amazing artist. She has a wonderful eye for detail. Currently, she is working on a series of miniature paintings, which have been on display in three gallery shows so far this year. We share a mutual love and respect, and I credit all of my success (artistic and otherwise) to her encouragement and support.
EL: Wonderful! How sweet! She does have an eye for detail as can be seen in the miniature painting below.
Janet Simpkins, 2×3 inch mini-painting
EL: Can anyone contact you for a portrait? If so, how and where?
TS: Portrait commissions can be made through my website: http://www.artcrimeillustrated.com
I can be emailed directly at: email@example.com
Find my page on Facebook as “Travis Simpkins: Artist & Museum Professional”
Affordable prints of my portraits of historical Freemasons can be purchased through Cornerstone Book Publishers at: www.cornerstonepublishers.com
EL: Your work has rightfully earned a vibrant place in the hearts and minds of Freemasons. Is there anything I did not ask that you would like to talk about?
TS: I’m glad to hear others describe my Masonic portraits as a contribution to the fraternity, it’s meaningful to be able to play some part in my own way. It is a wonderful organization and being raised a Master Mason will always be a defining moment in my life. Since joining earlier this year, I feel that I’ve already made many lasting friendships and associations. I have experienced the start of an incredible journey and am open-minded to future opportunities in Freemasonry. All of the brethren at Morning Star Lodge in Worcester and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston have been very welcoming and helpful. I am looking forward to joining the Scottish Rite Valley of Worcester and the Boston Consistory later this year. I hope to do a lot of traveling over the coming years and experience the Masonic art, architecture and fellowship in other areas as well.
Mark Twain, Author and Freemason. Mark Twain House & Museum. Hartford, CT, by Travis Simpkins
EL: Your work is an outstanding contribution to Freemasonry and the Fraternity is most fortunate to have had you join. Thank you again, for this interview. Bro. Travis’ portraits cost about $200 (for an 8×10 inch drawing) if you would like to get your own or get one as a gift. Phoenixmasonry will certainty keep an eye on your work to let our friends and fans know what you are up to in the future. Thank you everyone for reading!
David Lettelier. Founder of Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library, by Travis Simpkins
John Hancock, Freemason. St. Andrew’s Lodge. Boston, MA, by Travis Simpkins
Charles Lindbergh. Aviator, Author and Explorer. 1st Solo Flight Across Atlantic, by Travis Simpkins
I’m constantly amazed at the new discovery by some of the things in plain sight for centuries. I can’t say for certain about Canada, but American Masonic lodges have been pretty open in recent years, some open across an entire state.
Maybe this video troupe is part of the gotcha media, the one that Sarah Palin was so loth to decry a few years back.
The footage come from Press For Truth, an expose group whose motto is Smashing The Pyramid One Brick At A Time. Presumably, the pyramid bricks are the emblems of the Illuminati/Freemasons? At least that’s what they say in one of their videos.
The group comes out of Canada which might explain it (just kidding). I just like how they say Masonic – “May-zonic”, it just sounds so much cooler.
The first video is a walking tour discovering a Masonic lodge, and the other two are of a propaganda ambush for their video blog. Apparently, they were giving away free DVD’s to share their insights.
I have to say, the brother they talked to did his best, given the odds and environment of the exchange.
Once again the Beehive is indebted to Brother Wayne Anderson of Ontario, Canada for a great article. Every Sunday Brother Anderson sends out an article to “his list.”
If you would like to be on his list please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The subject of the origins of Freemasonry is a hot potato. The article from Brother Anderson seems to have been written shortly after Born In Blood was published. Since that time much research has been done that points to The Templar as NOT being the source of the beginnings of Freemasonry. Some scholars have presented evidence that shows that very few Templar fled mainland Europe for the British Isles. Many, they say, went to Portugal. Others went to Switzerland, says Stephen DaFoe our resident Templar expert, where the now famous Swiss international banking system was set up by Templars.
My thought is that even if the Knights Templar, or knight Templar rituals, did not start Freemasonry, perhaps, they infiltrated it to hide from their persecutors and in the process added an additional dollop of secrecy to the Order. I have never been satisfied with the belief that builders needed such veiled secrecy with a myriad of passwords, grips and signs. It seems to me that is what the Templars needed to stay hidden. For a revelation of their affiliation could be lethal. Take the Grand Hailing sign, something I can see much more needed by a Templar over a stone worker.
Perhaps Freemasonry, invented by the ancient builder guilds, was influenced by an influx of Knights Templar that occurred heavily in one fell swoop. Alas, I know that I am far from an authority on this aspect of historical Freemasonry. But I know that we have some erudite readers who perhaps will chime in. If you have some information and knowledge on this subject consider sharing it with all of us in the comments section so we can learn
From Summer 91 edition of the Missouri “The Freemason” More about Born In Blood.
By John C. Allen, Past Master Pleasant Grove Lodge #42 Otterville, MO.
In the summer issue of this year’s Freemason appeared a review by Zel Eaton of the book Born in Blood, by John J. Robinson. I am prompted to write this article by a conclusion drawn by Mr. Robinson about the origin of Freemasonry. In his review Mr. Eaton alludes to this aspect of the book only vaguely.
I am referring to Mr. Robinson’s theory that modern Masonry actually had its origin from the Knights Templar, outlawed in 1312 by Pope Clement V and the French King Philip the Fair. It was Mr. Robinson’s conclusion that the Templars not apprehended went under-ground to escape the heavy hand of the Papacy and then resurfaced centuries later as lodges of Freemasons.
Most traditional Masonic researchers, of course, have contended that the Order and its ritual somehow developed from the early crude organizations of the stone mason labor guilds. I, for one, have never been able to accept that view. Several years ago I arrived independently at the same conclusion as Mr. Robinson. Our Masonic ritual, steeped as it is in Kabbalistic occultism and mystery ceremonials of the Middle East, could never possibly have been developed out of the crude beginnings of the stone mason guilds. In that era even the skilled artisans and their speculative associates were far too unlettered and unlearned to have been capable of coming up with anything as elaborate and esoteric as even the earliest forms of Masonic ritual. Knowledge of the Hebrew Kaballah and the Middle Eastern mystery dramas had been ruthlessly suppressed by the Papacy during the Dark Ages and could have returned to Western Europe only by way of the Crusades. For bringing it back, the Templar became the logical bridge. During their stay in the Holy Land, the Templars had come into close association with a Moslem sect called the Sufi, who previously had adopted many of the beliefs and ritualistic forms of the Gnostic, or primitive Christians. From the Sufi the Templars borrowed many of their own esoteric beliefs and ceremonials. A number of these have made their way into modern Freemason beliefs. One of these, for example, is the Junior Warden’s call of the Craft from labor to refresh-ment and from refreshment to labor, referring in a symbolic sense to death and rebirth. The Gnostics, the Sufi, and the Templars all believed in reincarnation.
Is this view about Masonic origins borne out by any prestigious Masonic scholars?
Yes, it certainly is—by one of our most celebrated scholars, Brother Albert Pike. My readings in Brother Pike’s Morals and Dogma have convinced me that Mr. Robinson, in his recent book, was on the right track. Jacques B. de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, according to Brother Pike, masterminded the plans for Freemasonry while he was awaiting execution. Before coming in unequivocally to that assertion, Brother Pike cited conclusive evidence that long before the Templars went underground, they considered themselves builders, or masons, and were even called by the English, through careless pronunciation, Freemasons. This is clearly shown by the following extract with reference to de Molay:
“The Templars, or Poor Fellow Soldiery of the Holy House of the Temple intended to be rebuilt, took as their models, in the Bible, the Warrior Masons of Zorabel, who worked, holding the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other. Therefore, it was that the Sword and the Trowel became the insignia of the Templars, who subsequently concealed themselves under the name of Brethren Masons. The name Freres Macons in the French was corrupt-ed in English into Free Masons. The trowel of the Templars is quadruple, and the triangular plates of it are arranged in the form of a cross, making the Kabalistic pantacle known by the name of the Cross of the East.”
“But before his execution, the Chief of the doomed Order organized and instituted what afterward came to be called the Occult, Hermetic, or Scottish Masonry. In the gloom of his prison, the Grand Master created four Metropolitan Lodges, at Naples for the East, at Edinburgh for the West, at Stockholm for the North, and at Paris for the South. The initials of his name, J.B.M., found in the same order in the first three degrees are but one of the many internal and cogent proofs that such was the origin of modern Free Masonry.”
Brother Pike’s reference to the initials, of course, is to the words Jachin, Boaz, and the Master’s Word in the third degree. Could this be a mere coincidence?
Brother Pike then went on to say that
“The legend of Osiris was revised and adopted as the central theme of the third degree ritual, to symbolize the destruction of the Order, and the resurrection of Khurum, slain in the body of the Temple of Khurum Abai, the Master, as the martyr of fidelity to obligation, of Truth and Conscience.”
According to the legend of Osiris here referred to, as the fragments of the god’s body lay on the ground, a lion reached down with his paw, scooped up the pieces, and lifted them back again to erect and living form. In the new Order succeeding the Templars this served as a symbolism. The Papacy and the King had slain the Grand Master but failed to accomplish their purpose. The grip of the lion’s paw had triumphed again over extinction’ The prostrate corpse of the Knights Templar had been raised from death. Once again it lived in the form of a new Order—Freemasonry. The old Order, vitally obsessed with building, lived on as builders still. The trowel remained still as its principal working tool. The Templars continued their role as “Brethren Masons.”
Why are Freemasons so obsessed with the Holy Saints John? “Oh, the labor guilds were expected to have patron saints, so the stone masons adopted the Holy Saints John.” We have all read that lame explanation. If a labor guild wanted patron saints, why would it choose two saints with contrasting religious beliefs? For the Knights Templar to do so was perfectly logical, as Brother Pike took note in Morals and Dogma. From their very inception, the Templars functioned as a dualistic Order. Their avowed and pretended purpose was to protect Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Their actual and secret objective was to rebuild the Temple of King Solomon to recapture its original splendor and restore Jerusalem to the days of its pristine glory. In their outward aspects they posed as loyal supporters of orthodox Catholicism. This facade they craftily cultivated to gain the approval and sanction of the papacy. For this reason they adopted John the Baptist as one of their patron saints. St. John the Evangelist, however, was the one who had been regarded as the spokesman of the Gnostic religious views to which they adhered and wished to make supreme in their restored city of Jerusalem, designed by them secretly to displace Rome as the center of Christendom. St. John the Evangelist, therefore, became their most cherished patron saint. If Freemasonry did indeed stem from the Templars, it is only natural that the Masons would also adopt both of these patron saints.
Since the Templars chief objective was the rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple, one would reasonably expect them to continue in that preoccupation when they established a new Order to succeed the Templars. Need there be any mystery, then, as to why Freemasonry is similarly obsessed with the same Temple?
The Templar Connection would also nicely explain the mystery of the “bloody” Masonic obligations. If the Templars had any part in drafting these obligations, we would expect them to be fraught with dire consequences. We say today that the obligations are intended to be only symbolical. To a Templar member of the early guilds or lodges they would not have been considered symbolic. A Templar was a marked man with a price on his head. The long arm of the Papacy could reach him even in non-Catholic Scotland. Wherever he fled, there was always the threat of hired assassins. He could take no chances of having his identity or activities revealed. Many of the other secrets of Freemasonry can be similarly accounted for as safe-guarding the security of the Templars who probably dominated the earliest lodges.
In one respect perhaps the traditionalists were right. Perhaps Freemasonry did develop in and come down to us from the stone mason guilds of Scotland. Its concept and ritual, however, could not have been originated by the stone masons per-se. Perhaps the Templars who escaped to Scotland decided to infiltrate the stone mason guilds and there introduce the system of de Molay’s new Order. They had very good reasons to do so. The Templars had also been builders, or masons. In their heyday the Templars had exerted complete control over not only the stone masons but also over all other skilled craftsmen throughout Western Europe. That being true, the Templars would obviously have experienced little difficulty trying to infiltrate the guilds.
As a final argument for the Templar Connection, we should not forget the religious element. Freemasonry is regarded as a semi-religious Order. If the Templars did really found Masonry, it would be surprising if they hadn’t placed a very strong emphasis on religion, because the Knights Templar was instituted primarily as a religious Order.
I take great wisdom from Albert Pike. When taken in portion, his writings in Morals and Dogma strike me almost a prophecy along the lines of Nostradamus or the Oracles of Delphi. It was in a deep reading of his work on the third degree that I found the passages below.
In navigating his writing in his Magnum Opus under the third degree, these gems of political observation ring true today probably more than they did in the nearly 150 years ago. I was at once shocked with a twinge of amusement that Pike foresaw perhaps the situation within which we find ourselves today. And in his writing he looks to Masonry as part of the remedy for it, but with his own cryptic warning about looking to the society of builders.
It was a problem America, and the world perhaps, is faced with today which is that those in charge are “possessed by the devil of commercial avarice” which he describes as being the point when “a nation becomes possessed with a spirit of commercial greed, beyond those just and fair limits set by a due regard to a moderate and reasonable degree of general and individual prosperity.”
Pike delves the subject deeply, without the realization that what he would write about could (or would) be happening. But, in the subtext of his work, maybe he saw that it could happen.
When the thirst for wealth becomes general, it will be sought for as well dishonestly as honestly; by frauds and overreaching, by the knaveries of trade, the heartlessness of greedy speculation, by gambling in stocks and commodities that soon demoralize a whole community. Men will speculate upon the needs of their neighbors and the distresses of their country. Bubbles that, bursting, impoverish multitudes, will be blown up by cunning knavery, with stupid credulity as its assistants and instrument. Huge bankruptcies, that startle a country like the earth-quakes, and are more fatal, fraudulent assignments, engulfment of the savings of the poor, expansions and collapses of the currency, the crash of banks, the depreciation of Government securities, prey on the savings of self-denial, and trouble with their depredations the first nourishment of infancy and the last sands of life, and fill with inmates the churchyards and lunatic asylums. But the sharper and speculator thrives and fattens. If his country is fighting by a levy en mass for her very existence, he aids her by depreciating her paper, so that he may accumulate fabulous amounts with little outlay. If his neighbor is distressed, he buys his property for a song. If he administers upon an estate, it turns out insolvent, and the orphans are paupers. If his bank explodes, he is found to have taken care of himself in time. Society worships its paper-and-credit kings, as the old Hindus and Egyptians worshiped their worthless idols, and often the most obsequiously when in actual solid wealth they are the veriest paupers. No wonder men think there ought to be another world, in which the injustices of this may be atoned for, when they see the friends of ruined families begging the wealthy sharpers to give alms to prevent the orphaned victims from starving, until they may find ways of supporting themselves.
This seems to be speak directly to the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street protestors in New York, and now around the country over the “heartlessness of greedy speculation, by gambling in stocks and commodities…” who have “ruined families.” Has anyone questioned the patriotism and loyalties of the companies and banks that continue to benefit while those whom they prey continue to inch into “distress?”
Pike goes on to say:
We should naturally suppose that a nation in distress would take counsel with the wisest of its sons. But, on the contrary, great men seem never so scarce as when they are most needed, and small men never so bold to insist on infesting place, as when mediocrity and incapable pretense and sophomoric greenness, and showy and sprightly incompetency are most dangerous.
Like a call for action, Pike declares the need for the Masonic principles saying:
So much the more necessity for Masonry!
War has not ceased; still there are battles and sieges. Homes are still unhappy, and tears and anger and spite make hells where there should be heavens. So much the more necessity for Masonry! So much wider the field of its labors! So much the more need for it to begin to be true to itself, to revive from its asphyxia, to repent of its apostasy to its true creed!
So how does Masonry fit into this troubling world? As a Master Mason, it is the lesson of the third degree itself, Pike says:
Masonry seeks to be this beneficent, unambitious, disinterested guide; and it is the very condition of all great structures that the sound of the hammer and the clink of the trowel should be always heard in some part of the building. With faith in man, hope for the future of humanity, loving-kindness for our fellows, Masonry and the Mason must always work and teach.
We have to step back a bit to see Pike’s concern about this responsibility when he talks about Faith, Hope, and Charity saying:
These forces are within the reach of all men; and an association of men, actuated by them, ought to exercise an immense power in the world. If Masonry does not, it is because she has ceased to possess them.
I was reading through Pikes 11th degree – Prince Ameth for a paper I’m working on and ran across this passage which I liked and wanted to share.
The people that does not subjugate the propensity of the wealthy to avarice, ambition, and sensuality, expel luxury from them and their families, keep down pauperism, diffuse knowledge among the poor, and labor to raise the abject from the mire of vice and low indulgence, and to keep the industrious from starving in sight of luxurious festivals, will find that it has cherished, in that avarice, ambition, sensuality, selfishness, and luxury of the one class, and that degradation, misery, drunkenness, ignorance, and brutalization of the other, more stubborn and intractable despots at home than it ever encountered in the field; and even its very bowels will be continually teeming with the intolerable progeny of tyrants.
These are the first enemies to be subdued; this constitutes the campaign of Peace; these are triumphs, difficult indeed, but bloodless; and far more honorable than those trophies which are purchased only by slaughter and rapine; and if not victors in this service, it is in vain to have been victorious over the despotic enemy in the field.
For if any people thinks that it is a grander; a more beneficial, or a wiser policy, to invent subtle expedients by stamps and imposts, for increasing the revenue and draining the life-blood of an impoverished people; to multiply its naval and military force; to rival in craft the ambassadors of foreign states; to plot the swallowing up of foreign territory; to make crafty treaties and alliances; to rule prostrate states and abject provinces by fear and force; than to administer unpolluted justice to the people, to relieve the condition and raise the estate of the toiling masses, redress the injured and succor the distressed and conciliate the discontented, and speedily restore to every one his own; then that people is involved in a cloud of error, and will too late perceive, when the illusion of these mighty benefits has vanished, that in neglecting these, which it thought inferior considerations, it has only been precipitating its own ruin and despair.
While every ox and horse can find work, and is worth being fed, it is not always so with man. To be employed, to have a chance to work at anything like fair wages, becomes the great engrossing object of a man’s life. The capitalist can live without employing the laborer, and discharges him whenever that labor ceases to be profitable. At the moment when the weather is most inclement, provisions dearest, and rents highest, he turns him off to starve. if the day-laborer is taken sick, his wages stop. When old, he has no pension to retire upon. His children cannot be sent to school; for before their bones are hardened they must get to work lest they starve. The man, strong and able-bodied, works for a shilling or two a day, and the woman shivering over her little pan of coals, when the mercury drops far below zero, after her hungry children have wailed themselves to sleep, sews by the dim light of her lonely candle, for a bare pittance, selling her life to him who bargained only for the work of her needle.
Fathers and mothers slay their children, to have the burial-fees, that with the price of one child’s life they may continue life in those that survive. Little girls with bare feet sweep the street-crossings, when the winter wind pinches them, and beg piteously for pennies of those who wear warm furs. Children grow up in squalid misery and brutal ignorance; want compels virgin and wife to prostitute themselves; women starve and freeze, and lean up against the walls of workhouses, like bundles of foul rags, all night long, and night after night, when the cold rain falls, and there chances to be no room for them within; and hundreds of families are crowded into a single building, rife with horrors and teeming with foul air and pestilence; where men, women and children huddle together in their filth; all ages and all colors sleeping indiscriminately together; while, in a great, free, Republican State, in the full vigor of its youth and strength, one person in every seventeen is a pauper receiving charity.
How to deal with this apparently inevitable evil and mortal disease is by far the most important of all social problems. What is to be done with pauperism and over-supply of labor? How is the life of any country to last, when brutality and drunken semi-barbarism vote, and hold offices in their gift, and by fit representatives of themselves control a government? How, if not wisdom and authority, but turbulence and low vice are to exalt to senatorships miscreants reeking with the odors and pollution of the hell, the prize-ring, the brothel, and the stock-exchange, where gambling is legalized and rascality is laudable?
He follows it up saying:
Masonry will do all in its power, by direct exertion and co-operation, to improve and inform as well as to protect the people; to better their physical condition, relieve their miseries, supply their wants, and minister to their necessities. Let every Mason in this good work do all that may be in his power.
Two interesting “non-Masonic” takes on the Masonic bible.
I have to admit its amusing to me the degree that these are extolled as “satanic” or “evil” which I suppose just goes to show how little is known or understood about the fraternity today from these obviously very old Bibles.
I really like the 2nd video’s bible, lots of images to go along with the content.
If you don’t already have one of your own, you can still pick up a Master Mason Edition Bible on Amazon.
The Apocalypse is, to those who receive the nineteenth Degree, the Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer. LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not! for traditions are full of Divine Revelations and Inspirations: and Inspiration is not of one Age nor of one Creed. Plato and Philo, also, were inspired. Grand Pontiff – 19th Degree, Scottish Rite Freemasonry
For all those NOT stuck on the quote from Pike above, I wanted to share a story that taps that part of us from our path in the second degree – which is the study of astrology, better reffered to as astronomy.
In a few days (December 7th) the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI” will begin to enter the Venus orbit to begin study on Earth’s sister planet.
From the mission website:
This project’s main purpose is to elucidate the mysteries of the Venusian atmosphere.
If your an early riser, and happen to have a clear sky, take a look up into the sky for a glimpse of the “evil light bringer”, the son of the morning Venus, before the orbiter gets there and starts beaming back images.
For those who are still scratching your heads over the Lucifer/Satan/Light Bringer question and want to dig deeper into the history of it, all we need do is look at how the two became so intimately associated, even in such that Pike carried the mistranslation.
Lucifer is a Latin word meaning “light-bearer” (from lux, lucis, “light”, and ferre, “to bear, bring”), a Roman astrological term for the “Morning Star”, the planet Venus. The word Lucifer was the direct translation of the Septuagint Greek heosphoros, (“dawn-bearer”); (cf. Greek phosphoros, “light-bearer”) and the Hebrew Helel, (“Bright one”) used by Jerome in the Vulgate, having mythologically the same meaning as Prometheus who brought fire to humanity.
It wasn’t until later that Christian writers and translators made him into the bad guy and put horns and lakes of fire around him. It was Saint Jerome in a 4th century Vulgate(translation) that associated the two in a translation of a passage from Isaiah in which he substituted Lucifer for Satan. The passage, in the King James Version reads:
Isaiah 14:12-16 12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
In later translations, the use of Lucifer is dropped all together, which you can see here at the Bible Gateway.
The reason Jerome used the term Lucifer stems from his translation of the original Hebrew text הילל בן־שׁחר which is Heylel ben Shachar, which in turn he translated into “lucifer qui mane oriebaris” or more aptly in English “morning star that used to rise early”. The word Lucifer, in Roman times as Jerome was firmly entrenched, was the name they gave to the early morning and evening star we commonly call Venus today. (an interesting read on the translation lives on the website Riding the Beast , but the Wikipedia entry for Lucifer is a good one too).
Hell, pardon the pun, even Pike picked up on Christian view of Lucifer in saying that
“Masons of the nineteenth Degree see the apocalypse (insert revelations) as “the Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer.”
Two poems that look at this starry idea of Lucifer seem also to retain the mistranslation from antiquity, the first from the nefarious Aleister Crowley himself in his Hymn to Lucifer
Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act? Without its climax, death, what savour hath Life? an impeccable machine, exact He paces an inane and pointless path To glut brute appetites, his sole content How tedious were he fit to comprehend Himself! More, this our noble element Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.
His body a bloody-ruby radiant With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant On Eden’s imbecile perimeter. He blessed nonentity with every curse And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense, Breathed life into the sterile universe, With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence The Key of Joy is disobedience.
And from the Victorian Era novelest and poet George Meredith in his poem Lucifer in Starlight.
On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose. Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened, Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose. Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those. And now upon his western wing he leaned, Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened, Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows. Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars With memory of the old revolt from Awe, He reached a middle height, and at the stars, Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank. Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank, The army of unalterable law.
Some other more data specific facts about Venus:
Average distance from the Sun: 108.2 million kilometers.
Size (equatorial radius): 6,052 kilometers
Mass (compared to that of the Earth): 0.815 times
Average density: 5.24 g/cm³
Revolution period: 224.7 days
Rotation period: 243.02 days
Some interesting tid bits on Venus:
The astronomical symbol for Venus is the same as that used in biology for the female sex: a circle with a small cross beneath. The Venus symbol also represents femininity, and in ancient alchemy stood for the metal copper. Alchemists constructed the symbol from a circle (representing matter) above a cross (representing spirit).
The website the Hallow Planet has some interesting ideas on the atmosphere of Venus worth reading too.
And some ancient history about Venus from Wikipedia:
One of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been known since prehistoric times and has had a significant impact on human culture from the earliest days. It is described in Babylonian cuneiformic texts such as the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, which relates observations that possibly date from 1600 BC. The Babylonians named the planet Ishtar (Sumerian Inanna), the personification of womanhood, and goddess of love. The Ancient Egyptians believed Venus to be two separate bodies and knew the morning star as Tioumoutiri and the evening star as Ouaiti. Likewise believing Venus to be two bodies, the Ancient Greeks called the morning star Φωσφόρος, Phosphoros (Latinized Phosphorus), the “Bringer of Light” or Εωσφόρος, Eosphoros (Latinized Eosphorus), the “Bringer of Dawn”. The evening star they called Hesperos (Latinized Hesperus) (Ἓσπερος, the star of the evening), but by Hellenistic times, they realized the two were the same planet. Hesperos would be translated into Latin as Vesper and Phosphoros as Lucifer (“Light Bearer”), a poetic term later used to refer to the fallen angel cast out of heaven. The Romans would later name the planet in honor of their goddess of love, Venus, whereas the Greeks used the name of her Greek counterpart, Aphrodite (Phoenician Astarte).
To the Hebrews it was known as Noga (“shining”), Helel (“bright”), Ayeleth-ha-Shakhar (“deer of the dawn”) and Kochav-ha-‘Erev (“star of the evening”). Venus was important to the Maya civilization, who developed a religious calendar based in part upon its motions, and held the motions of Venus to determine the propitious time for events such as war. The Maasai people named the planet Kileken, and have an oral tradition about it called The Orphan Boy. In western astrology, derived from its historical connotation with goddesses of femininity and love, Venus is held to influence those aspects of human life. In Indian Vedic astrology, Venus is known as Shukra, meaning “clear, pure” or “brightness, clearness” in Sanskrit. One of the nine Navagraha, it is held to affect wealth, pleasure and reproduction; it was the son of Bhrgu and Ushana, preceptor of the Daityas, and guru of the Asuras. Early Chinese astronomers called the planet Tai-pe, or the “beautiful white one”. Modern Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese cultures refer to the planet literally as the metal star, based on the Five elements. Lakotan spirituality refers to Venus as the daybreak star, and associates it with the last stage of life and wisdom.
So look for some new photos of the mysteriously veiled planet and perhaps we can learn some insight on the light bringer which for so long has held as the sinister Lucifer in the sky.
If Freemasonry had a specific dogma Albert Pike would of been one of its most profound Prophets. As it stands, he sits in a pantheon of others such as Mackey, Wilmshurst, Webb, and Preston, just to name a few.
The reason I mention Pike in this way, is that for many years his work Morals and Dogma was the field manual given to all Scottish Rite masons for years, so much so that the deep red tomes still frequently show up in used book stores and on Ebay fetching a fair price for such an old body of work.
But the reason I mention Pike and M&D is that amongst the strum und drang of what some states (read Grand Lodges) are doing to some of its members or the shock and surprise that one state picked up a former (read expelled) member of another, Pike talked about these very things in his commentary to the Rite’s degrees. Essentially, had we (Freemasonry) done our homework or applied the degrees so judicially bestowed upon us, that maybe we could see through the smoke that we ourselves are generating over these epic events.
Truthfully, I was surprised in coming across the passage while doing my work for the Guthrie Scottish Rite College of the Consistory. Surprised because his wide spread distribution in the past and the little regard given to him today.
Let me just say that Pike was talking about the very things we face in adversity today more than 100 years before it was ever an issue in the 50+ jurisdictions of Grand Lodges. So say what you want about Pike, personally I’m finding much in his ideas on how masonry should govern itself.
What I found was a small passage in the 10th degree that speaks to how a Freemason should see other faiths, that
“No man is entitled positively to assert that he is right, where other men, equally intelligent and equally well-informed, hold directly the opposite opinion.”
In that passage, Pike is asserting his idea of toleration to the aspect of religion, that no individual can assert that another individuals outlook of the divine spark is any more right than their own, asking the impossible to answer question “What is truth?”
Asking that question make me wonder if the same question can be extrapolated up to establish the definition of what truth means.
In the degree, Pike says (again about religious toleration):
Real knowledge never permitted either turbulence or unbelief; but its progress is the forerunner of liberality and enlightened toleration. Whoso dreads these may well tremble; for he may be well assured that their day is at length come, and must put to speedy flight the evil spirits of tyranny and persecution, which haunted the long night now gone down the sky. And it is to be hoped that the time will soon arrive, when, as men will no longer suffer themselves to be led blindfolded in ignorance, so will they no more yield to the vile principle of judging and treating their fellow-creatures, not according to the intrinsic merit of their actions, but according to the accidental and involuntary coincidence of their opinions.
Whenever we come to treat with entire respect those who conscientiously differ from ourselves, the only practical effect of a difference will be, to make us enlighten the ignorance on one side or the other, from which it springs, by instructing them, if it be theirs; ourselves, if it be our own; to the end that the only kind of unanimity may be produced which is desirable among rational beings,–the agreement proceeding from full conviction after the freest discussion.
What stands out to me, especially in this instance with so much hand wringing and heated exchanges, is the second paragraph, even more specifically:
Whenever we come to treat with entire respect those who conscientiously differ from ourselves, the only practical effect of a difference will be, to make us enlighten the ignorance on one side or the other.
The key here seems to be the idea of treating with respect those who differ from ourselves, which applies to all sides in this discussion.
Pike in his conclusion cites a Roman quote saying:
Men in no respect so nearly approach to the Deity, as when they confer benefits on men. To serve and do good to as many as possible, there is nothing greater in your fortune than that you should be able, and nothing finer in your nature, than that you should be desirous to do this.
Which is, after all, the reason for being a Mason, right?
I’ll be publishing more in the days to come, but the book Masonic Traveler is available now at MasonicTraveler.com – look for more soon!
Recently on a local radio NPR station I happened upon a conversation with the Mayor Rex Parris, of Lancaster California. The conversation was about how the city of Lancaster, a sleepy Air Force town in the outskirts of Los Angeles county, is growing a “Christian community.”
In the discussion, Mayor Parris, in a state of the city address, called for Lancaster to grow as a “”Christian community” and asked for voters to support a city ballot measure that would authorize daily Christian prayers at city council meetings. The message was framed in the context of the citizenry (voters) to promote the love of the neighbor, and the basis of the Christian faith. His foundational basis is that with a community 85% Christian, it shouldn’t be to much of a stretch to direct the community towards its natural leaning. Further, he indicated that the city had “lots” of christian churches and only one synagogue. The closest mosque being a town over
The reaction to this has included charges filed by the ACLU and an investigation of Mayor Parris as having committed a hate crime.
This raises some interesting questions about what’s going on in Los Angeles, but it has some interesting synergy with other goings on that have been manifesting across the country. What comes to mind most recently is the new blog that has started publishing under the aegis of the battle between the Antients and the Moderns, (circa 1800’s). In it, the writer has taken several specific positions, but mentioned the idea of a “Cult of the Supreme Being” especially as espoused by Albert Pike.
The rational here is that as America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, it was established on the basis of Christian principal, and its on that principal that the shift from an ambiguous God to a specific interpretation of god is necessary to continue to flourish, in the case of Lancaster, Ca, and to recover the ideology that was lost in Freemasonry, in the case of Versus the Moderns.
Without taking any particular stance on this, so as not to promote a particular direction, is this a fair way in which to steer civic life, or is it time to rein in the laissez faire trade of religion (or its previous freedoms), and focus on the principals of one particular religion, to focus on making ours specifically a Christian society? Or, more close to home, should Freemasonry be governed solely on a Christian principal? If that were to take place, would it alienate its non-christian membership?
Some concerns that I can see in the headlights include the alienation of those of other faiths, especially in communities that they may have very little representation, and then as an extension of that alienation, would pockets of other specific religions begin to spring up and within their own community, establish their religion as the basis of the community? It happens now at the secular level where you have pockets of people of similar mind, but what if you allow them to apply their faith into their civic leadership?
Another instance is something I came across in a Masonic reading circle (really more of an email chain that a brother sends out to a list). In it, he outlined clearly his disapproval at other faiths (in this case Wicca) going so far as to say that it was his belief (as applied from his Christian faith) that a pantheist should not be in the U.S. military. Again, I can understand the personal application of faith, but is it ok to assert ones own faith over another’s simply because the two are dogmatically opposed?
In the secular arena, when did theology step over into guiding democracy? I it fair to say that this simillar to the way politics in Iran is governed, a subservient republic under a theocratic leadership?
Is it a safe idea to move towards a less secular more faith based fundamental, or does the notion of a Cult of the Supreme Being invite others to participate with their religion in tow? Should faith guide us to the exclusion of others?
Mackey’s notorious list and its impact on Maryland Masonry. Originally published in The Philalethes Magazine, vol. 44, no. 3, June 1991 authored by S. Brent Morris
A mushroom may grow ever so tall, on a boundary line or at a corner, but it will never be mistaken for a landmark Albert Pike on Mackey’s “Landmarks”
Freemasonry in Maryland, as in the rest of the world, is changing. This is a continuing process that began in 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in London when four lodges made a radical innovation on the body of Masonry and created the office of Grand Master, an office that prior to that date had been only legendary. The additions, corrections, and elaborations to our Craft have come in fits and spurts since then, and we should not be so naïve to think that our Grand Lodge is immune. What is needed to face the challenges of change is an openness of mind and a flexibility of procedures.
Maryland Masonry is fortunate that its leaders have had minds open to the evolving needs of the Craft. They have laid a solid foundation on which the Grand Lodge has set goals, established programs, and disseminated the tenets of our profession. However, there is a grave danger that we are losing our flexibility of procedures which will be so essentially necessary for our survival in the twenty-first century.
At the 1989 Semiannual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, we witnessed the elimination of informed debate on several potentially vital pieces of legislation and the disenfranchisement of the representatives of the subordinate Lodges. This disregard for democratic principles was not part of a conspiracy nor planned with malice, but rather it sadly followed from a strict application of Mackey’s so-called “Landmarks of Freemasonry.” These twenty-five platitudes never have been adopted formally by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, but they threaten to become liabilities through a rigid interpretation.
Albert Galatin Mackey is one of the best-known American authors on Freemasonry. What is less well-known is that his creative genius often overshadowed his quest for historical accuracy and truth. In 1858, Mackey invented his list and foisted it upon an unsuspecting American Craft. Soon after there was a headlong rush by “scholars” to create lists of Landmarks and thus fill in what they perceived as a nagging gap in Masonic tradition. Right behind these creative writers came the Grand Lodges, each trying to outdo the other in adopting the “true” list of fundamental Landmarks of Freemasonry.
These enterprises resulted in nothing less than confusion in the temple. Of the American Grand Lodges, thirteen have adopted no formal list, five rely upon the Old Charges, ten have produced their own lists (ranging from seven to thirty-nine Landmarks), eight use Mackey by custom, and only thirteen have formally adopted his tabulation. The United Grand Lodge of England, the source and origin of all Freemasonry, has never seen fit to adopt any formal enumeration and in particular has never endorsed Mackey’s list, and our English Brethren seem none the worse for it.
Where in all of this does the Grand Lodge of Maryland stand?—somewhere between using Mackey by custom and by formal adoption. In November, 1939, R.W. Harry C. Mueller, Grand Secretary wrote that “Maryland has included in its Code Mackey’s twenty-five Landmarks. By the adoption of this Code we feel that the twenty-five Landmarks in their entirety were adopted also, although there was no specific mention made of this, nor has there been at any time.”
Thus the foundation of Masonic Jurisprudence in Maryland has never been formally adopted!
Isn’t the simplest solution to formally adopt Mackey’s product and to be done with it? That would easily solve the problem F the status of Mackey’s landmarks in Maryland, but like most simple-minded solutions, it’s more wrong than right. There is a naïve satisfaction in having an absolute list of guiding principles, and a childlike comfort in being able to assert, “These constitute the Landmarks … in which it is not in the power of any man, or body men, to make the least innovation.” However, naïve satisfaction and childlike comfort should not be the guiding forces of Maryland Freemasonry as it prepares to face the rigors of the twenty-first century.
To begin with, Mackey was simply wrong. Some of his so-called “Landmarks” are universally agreed upon, but most are just creatures of his fertile imagination. Albert Pike’s scathing denunciation of Mackey’s concoction stands as the damning opinion of contemporary scholar, and Pike was not alone in his condemnation. No serious student of Freemasonry has accepted Mackey’s 1858 list in its entirety, nor have more than thirteen Grand Lodges. “So far as known, no Grand Lodge outside the United States has ever adopted any list of landmarks.…” Even a partial list of those disagreeing with Mackey provides a Who’s Who of Masonic scholarship.
Some Masonic Scholars Disagreeing With Mackey’s Landmarks:
1856, Rob Moms, Past Grand Master, Kentucky
1858, J. W. S. Mitchell, Past Grand Master, Missouri
1885, Robert Freke Gould, Past Master Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076
1888, Albert Pike, Sovereign Grand Commander. Southern Jurisdiction
1910, George Fleming Moore, Sovereign Grand Commander, Southern Jurisdiction
1919, Roscoe Pound, Dean, Faculty of Law in Harvard University
1923, Joseph D. Evans, Past Grand Master, New York
1924, Melvin M. Johnson. Past Grand Master, Massachusetts
1931, E. W. Timberlake, Jr., Past Grand Mater, North Carolina
1961, Henry Wilson Coil, Fellow of the Philalethes Society
1973, Dwight L. Smith, Past Grand Master, Indiana
A Landmark should be something so fundamental, so basic to the fabric of Freemasonry, that any deviation merits immediate condemnation. Mackey’s creation fails this test rather miserably. There is no reason to analyze each of his landmarks; a few particulars should suffice. For example, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina not only does not recognize the prerogative of a Grand Master to make Masons at sight (Mackey’s Landmark 8), but also does not recognize any Mason made by this method, regardless of whether he may belong to a regularly chartered Lodge. Yet we still maintain fraternal relations with the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Several of the regular European Grand Lodges we recognize use a Grand Masonic Word different from Maryland, thus effectively negating the Mackey’s first landmark, the modes of recognition.
Freemasonry recently has come under increasingly vicious attacks from narrow-minded religionists. One of the frequent accusations made against our gentle Craft is that we are a “secret society” with all of the vague connotations of unknown evil that charge carries. Maryland has wrestled with this problem and has tried to solve it with our rather awkwardly worded Standing Resolution No. 8, which says in part “that our Order is not a secret one in the sense that everything that goes on in the Lodge room may never be revealed; rather it is an Order which has certain secrets which we do not share with the world outside these doors.”
This is all fine and good, but Mackey’s Twenty-third Landmark states in simple, plain language, “Freemasonry is a secret society.” If we adopt Mackey’s invention, then we are declaring to the world that we are indeed a secret society (despite our waffling resolutions to the contrary). If we are not a secret society, then Landmark 23 of Mackey is not a Landmark of Maryland.
The Grand Lodge of Maryland presents another paradox on the one hand we acknowledge by custom Mackey’s Landmark 14, “the right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular Lodge.” On the other hand we ignore this clear, absolute right and allow only the privilege of visitation. A Brother visiting a Maryland Lodge may be denied admission if any member of that Lodge personally demands it. In fact, Maryland’s deviation from this “landmark” has earned us special condemnation in Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence, as an offensive example of a “very contracted view of the universality of Freemasonry.…”
At the 1989 Semiannual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, an amendment to the Constitution was proposed that would have allowed subordinate lodges to conduct normal business in the first degree. The Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence carefully considered the matter, adhered faithfully to Mackey’s landmarks, and made the straightforward decision that “the proposed Amendment … would violate the Landmarks of Freemasonry and Masonic history and tradition.” This inescapable conclusion that the committee reached by following Mackey’s authority is logically precise and historically wrong. On May 18, 1842, the Grand Lodge of Maryland “Resolved, That all the business of a Lodge, except that of conferring the inferior degrees, and the instruction therein, should be transacted in a Master Mason’s Lodge.”
In other words, from 1749 to 1842, every Lodge in Maryland conducted its business on the first degree—in violation of Mackey’s landmarks and Masonic history and tradition! How is it possible that our first ninety-three years of Masonic activity violated the Landmarks of Freemasonry and Masonic history and tradition? For that matter, what does this say about the United Grand Lodge of England, whose Lodges have never stopped meeting on the first degree? These contradictions are possible only if Mackey’s inventive list is given official status in Maryland, and we abandon our original history and customs.
Finally, there is the example of the recently aborted attempt to provide checks and balances upon the powers of the Grand Master of Maryland. The argument which prevented the amendments from even being discussed was that Mackey’s so- called landmarks do not allow the Grand Lodge to limit the authority of the Grand Master. Mackey states with his usual authoritative tone that Grand Masters and Grand Lodges are “coeval” (a highfalutin word that means “of equal antiquity”). However, there is no foundation in fact—only in modern Masonic ritual—that Grand Lodges or Grand Masters existed before that historic 1717 meeting in London.
These lofty, theoretical arguments overlook a fundamental problem: if the Grand Lodge cannot limit the powers of the Grand Master, how did we get the limitations we now have? Perhaps the Grand Architect Himself ordained the requirement that the Grand Lodge has to approve edicts of the Grand Master for them to remain in force? The powers of the Grand Master spring from the consent of the lodges he governs, and they can modify his powers whenever or however they see fit.
The fact is, Mackey’s fabrication never has been adopted formally by the Grand Lodge of Maryland nor has it made any particular contribution to our jurisprudence. What is true is that Mackey has been regularly ignored by the Grand Lodge of Maryland when convenient, though his invention most recently prevented a democratic discussion of important issues facing the Grand Lodge of Maryland. The solution to the confusion is straight forward: drop Mackey’s lame “landmarks” (either by agreement or by formal edict or by resolution) and give the Grand Lodge of Maryland the flexibility and authority it needs to face the problems of the future.
Quotations from Some Masonic Scholars Disagreeing with Mackey’s “Landmarks”
Robert Freke Gould
We shall vainly search in the records of those early times for a full specification of the twenty-five “Landmarks” which modem research pronounces to be both ancient and unalterable … Of the Ancient Landmarks it has been observed, with more or less foundation in truth: “Nobody knows what they comprise or omit; they are of no earthly authority, because everything is a landmark when an opponent desires to silence you, but nothing is a landmark that stands in his own way.”
The History of Freemasonry, New York: John C. Yorston & Co., 1885, vol. 2, p. 59.
There is no common agreement in regard to what are and what are not landmarks. That has never been definitely settled. Each writer makes out for himself the list or catalogue of them, according to his own fancy, some counting more of them and others less.
Most of these so-called landmarks were not known either to Ancient Craft Masonry in England or Scotland before the revolution of 1723, or to the new Masonry, as landmarks, for years afterwards. It is a pity that Masonry has not a Pope, or cannot make one of some Grand Master, Editor, or Chairman of a Committee on Foreign Correspondence, endowed with infallibility, to determine the age which a landmark must have to entitle it to call itself a landmark; what is the essential nature of a landmark; how many of the supposed twenty-five are landmarks, and what others the oracular wisdom of the author [Mackey] of this catalogue has overlooked.
Proceedings of the Masonic Veterans’s Association of Iowa, 1888 (reprinted in Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1961, pp. 367–59).
E. W. Timberlake, Jr.
A number of Grand Lodges have undertaken, by express enactment, to fix what the landmarks shall be within their respective jurisdictions, and these differ very widely. For example, nine American Grand Lodges declare that the ancient charges contain the landmarks, while several Grand Lodges have adopted statements of their own, varying all the way from seven in West Virginia and ten in New Jersey to thirty-nine in Nevada and fifty- four in Kentucky. It would seem obvious, therefore, that, since even a Grand Lodge can neither create nor abolish a landmark, such declaratory enactments cannot be viewed in any other light than as Masonic legislation.… It is generally conceded that Dr. Mackey’s list includes all of the landmarks, but it is not conceded that all those which he enumerates as landmarks, are in reality such.
“The Landmarks of Masonry,” Nocalore, vol. 1, part 1. pp. 416,1931.
The skeptic says, first, that down to the appearance of Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence “landmark” was a term floating about in Masonic writing without any definite meaning. It had come down from the operative Craft where it had meant trade secrets, and had been used loosely for “traditions” or for “authorized ritual” or for “significant historical occurrences,” and Oliver had even talked of “obsolete landmarks.” Second, he says. the definition of a landmark, the criteria of a landmark, and the fixed landmarks generally received in England and American from 1860 on, come from Mackey. Bro. Hextall says: “It was more because Mackey’s list purported to fill an obvious gap than from any signal claims it possessed that it obtained a rapid circulation and found a ready acceptance.” Perhaps this is too strong. But it must be admitted that dogmatism with respect to the landmarks cannot be found anywhere in Masonic writings prior to Mackey and that our present views have very largely been formed—even if not wholly formed—by the influence of his writings.…
In reading [Mackey’s definition of a landmark] we must bear in mind that it was written in 1856, before the rise of modem Masonic history and before the rise of modem ideas in legal science in the United States. Hence it is influenced by certain uncritical ideas of Masonic history and by some ideas as to the making of customary law reminiscent of Hale’s History of the Common Law, to which some lawyer may have directly or indirectly referred him. But we may reject these incidental points and the essential theory will remain unaffected—the theory of a body of immemorial recognized fundamentals which give to the Ma¬ sonic order, if one may say so, its Masonic character, and may not be altered without taking away that character. It is true Mackey’s list of landmarks goes beyond this. But it goes beyond his definition as he puts it; and the reason is to be found in his failure to distinguish between the landmarks and the common law.
Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence, New York: Board of General Activities [Grand Lodge, F. & A.M.], 1941, pp. 32–34.
Henry Wilson Coil
The way to define a thing or a principle is to examine it closely, list its peculiarities, state how it looks and acts, what it does and does not do, and what it is not as well as what it is. Again, the landmarkers reversed the process by attempting to define the unknown thing arbitrarily and, then armed with that prejudicial formula, search through the rituals, the regulations, and even unofficial literature in search of items which would satisfy the definitions. They did not know that the definition is the conclusion, not the beginning of such enquiry. But, worse yet, they commonly included some items which did not conform to their definitions. Of this class, one of the leaders, Mackey, was a striking example. What he called ancient and unwritten principles were in several of his proposals no more than legislation of the premier Grand Lodge set forth in the Constitutions and General Regulations published in 1723. Some that he called universal were not followed in all, possibly not even in a majority of Masonic jurisdiction. Those called unalterable had already been altered in some instances, and Mackey, himself, gave out several additions which altered his unalterable list of twenty-five.
Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Company, 1961, p. 364.
Dwight L. Smith
The Grand Lodge of England, which should know a thing or two about the ancient landmarks, never has “adopted” landmarks or in any way attempted to define them other than to make casual references to certain practices. To my knowledge, no Grand Lodge of Freemasons outside the United States has ever become concerned about what the landmarks are, or how many there may be.
Not so in the U.S.A. Beginning about the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Grand Lodges started trying to define the landmarks and enumerating them. They literally ran races to see how many ancient landmarks they could “adopt” officially. Some lists became so long and so all-inclusive that it was hardly safe to take aim at the brass cuspidor for fear an ancient landmark would be removed. And the hilarious feature about the various lists of “official” and “unalterable” landmarks is that so many are in total disagreement with their neighbors’ lists!
“Of Landmarks and Cuspidors,” The Philalethes, vol. 26, no. 1 (February 1973), pp. 6 & 22.
Coil, Henry W., et al. Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia. New York: Macoy Publishing aid Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1961.
Gould, Robert Freke, et al. The History of Freemasonry. New York: John C. Yorston & Co., 1885.
Mackey, Albert G. Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence. Revised by R. I. Clegg. Chicago; The Masonic History Company, 1927.
Maryland, Grand Lodge of. Maryland Manual of Ancient Craft Masonry. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Md., 1935.
Reports to the Annual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M, of Maryland, November 17, 1986.
Reports to the Semiannual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & AM of Maryland, May 15, 1989.
Masonic Service Association. “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry.” The little Masonic Library. 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing aid Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946.
Pike, Albert. “The Landmarks of Freemasonry.” The Little Masonic Library. 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946.
Pound, Roscoe. Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. New York: Board of General Purposes, [Grand Lodge, F. & A.M.], 1941.
Schultz, Edward T. History of Freemasonry in Maryland. 4 vols. Baltimore: J. H. Medairy & Co., 1887.
Smith, Dwight L. “Of Landmarks and Cuspidors.” The Philalethes, vol. 26, no. 1 (Feb. 1973.)
Timberlake, E. W. Jr. “The Landmarks of Masonry.” Nocalore, vol.1, part 1 (1931).
 Albert Pike, “The Landmarks of Freemasonry,” The Little Masonic Library, 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946, vol. 1, p. 66.
 Masonic Service Association, “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry,” The Little Masonic Library, Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946. vol. 1, p. 95.
 Masonic Service Association, “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry,” pp. 76–77.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland, Maryland Manual of Ancient Craft Masonry, Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F.&A.M. of Md., 1935, p. C.
 Henry W. Coil, et al., Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, N.Y.: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., 1961, p. 360.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland. Reports to the Annual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Maryland, November 17, 1986, p. 29.
 Albert G. Mackey, Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence, rev. R. I. Clegg, Chicago: The Masonic History Co., 1927, p. 141.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland, Reports to the Semi-Annual Communication, Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Maryland, May 15, 1989, p. 29.
 Edward T. Schultz, History of Freemasonry in Maryland, 4 vols., Baltimore: J. H. Medairy & Co., 1887, vol. 3, p. 67.