In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the meanings behind Clandestine, Clandestine Lodge and a Clandestine Freemason.
The video, deals with the first two subjects, the third is a subject of much contention creating clear vernacular delineation of what IS and what IS NOT considered by the various denominations of the fraternity.
The ordinary meaning of this word is secret, hidden. The French word clandestin, from which it is derived, is defined by Boiste (Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste – Dictionnaire universel de la langue française, first published in 1800) to be something:
fait en cachette et contre les lois.
Translated to mean – done in a hiding-place and against the laws (or, as translated by Google Translate – made secretly and against laws), which better suits the Masonic signification, which is illegal, not authorized. Irregular is often used for small departures from custom.
The Frontispiece to Noorthouck’s 1784 Constitution.
A body of Masons uniting in a Lodge without the consent of a Grand Lodge, or, although originally legally constituted, continuing to work after its charter has been revoked, is styled a “Clandestine Lodge.” Neither Anderson nor Entick employ the word. It was first used in the Book of Constitutions in a note by Noortbouck, on page 239 of his edition (Constitutions, 1784). Irregular Lodge would be the better term.
One made in or affiliated with a clandestine Lodge. With clandestine Lodges or Masons, regular Masons are forbidden to associate or converse on Masonic subjects.
In the Book of Constitutions, Noortbouck’s comments read, first under the Abstract of the Laws Relating to the General Fund of Charity
IV, page ii:
No person made a mason in a private or clandestine manner, for small or unworthy considerations, can act as a grand officer or as an officer of a private lodge, or can he partake of the general charity.
Interestingly, they tell us their reasons:
And then Under the Making of a Mason (page 394 and 395), ART V
A brother concerned in making masons clandestinely, shall not be allowed to visit any lodge till he has made due submission, even though the brothers so made may be allowed.
and, ART VIII, page 395:
Seeing that some brothers have been made lately in a clandestine manner, that is, in no regular lodge, nor by any authority or dispensation from the grand master, and for small and unworthy considerations, to the dishonor of the craft; the grand lodge decreed, that no person so made, nor any of those concerned in making him, shall be a grand officer, nor an officer of a particular lodge; nor shall partake of the general charity, should they ever be reduced to apply for it.
From a Short Talk Bulletin, Vol.XIII, No, 12, from 1935 says definitively (for that time) that,
Today the Masonic world is entirely agreed on what constitutes a clandestine body, or a clandestine Mason; the one is a Lodge or Grand Lodge unrecognized by other Grand Lodges, working without right, authority or legitimate descent; the other is a man “made a Mason” on such a clandestine body.
The following is from a comment posted by Brother Charles M. Harper Sr. on the post Bar Sinister Clandestine Hazing. Upon receiving it, I thought it warranted its own post given the depth to which he explored his ideas. The context to the piece comes as an explanation for why the petition is necessary in this modern age.
Here is a little of the information, from my book, A Spurious State of Confusion, due out at the end of July that provides both extensive quantitative and qualitative research to substantiate my stance that spurious Freemasonry is a problem, what it exactly is in the scheme of the Masonic world, how the problem came to be and what are choices that can be explored to stem the tide.
I expect the Obama Administration, in accordance with the petition, to examine this issue. I think it is inevitable that many will thwart this petition because of political feelings, and somehow, will tie in their dislike of Obama with the intent of the petition. It is human nature and to be expected.
Just some other historical evidence of some legal grounds that can substantiate at least the filing of this petition.
The conviction in the Federal Court at Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 15, 1922, of Matthew A. McBlain Thomson, Thomas Perrot and Dominic Bergera, of using the mails to defraud, was the culmination of efforts of the United States Government, begun in 1915, to have a reckoning with the perpetrators of one of the most ingenious mail frauds, and the most daring and spectacular Masonic imposture in American history.
In 1929 there was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of New Jersey a Certificate of Incorporation of “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey,” under which certificate the incorporators claimed the right to:
Practice and preserve Ancient Craft Masonry according to the Ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; to create, organize and supervise subordinate Lodges of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, granting to them dispensations and charters, empowering them to confer the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason; and to do all things necessary to carry into effect the objects and purposes of this incorporation.
The regular Grand Lodge instituted suit in the Court of Chancery against this spurious Grand Lodge with the result that in 1932 there was entered a decree restraining and enjoining this “Grand Lodge of ancient Free and accepted Masons of New Jersey,” its officers, agents, members and employees,
From using the name or designation “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey.”
From using any name or designation containing the words “Free and Accepted Masons,” or word “Mason,” or “Masons,” in conjunction with either or both of the words “Free and Accepted.”
From practicing, or pretending to practice Ancient Craft Masonry, according to the ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; from creating, organizing or supervising subordinate Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New Jersey, or pretending to do so; from conferring or pretending to confer the three degrees of Free Masonry known as Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason, or any of them.
South Dakota once had an Italian spurious body, but it has disbanded. Texas has to contend with the clandestine Mexican bodies. Utah has had some experiences, but her most famous contribution to the history of clandestine Masonry was the trial of the notorious McBain and Thompson. That Masonic fraud was there exposed and the perpetrators sent to jail. M.W. Sam H. Goodwin, Grand Secretary, writes of this:
Grand Lodge has not entered the arena against clandestinism, but a great battle against clandestinism was brought to a successful conclusion in the Federal Court in Salt Lake City, and the chief promoters of the Thompson Masonic Fraud (three in number) heard a jury declare them guilty, on ten counts, of using the U.S. Mails to defraud.
In a majority of States, legislation has been passed making it an offense against the law to use the emblems of a fraternal organization without a right, or to adopt and use the name of a pre-existent fraternal, charitable, benevolent, humane or other nonprofit making organization. Some of these laws are very elaborate, others are less specific, but in States where such legislation has been invoked by regular Masonry against usurpation by clandestine bodies, the courts have upheld, or are now in the process of upholding the regular and recognized Grand Lodges of the nation against those who would profit at their expense. – Source: Clandestine – from a Short Talk Bulletin – Dec. 1935, Masonic Service Association of North America
There have been state rulings against spurious masonry, filed by Grand Lodges, since before the 1950’s by Prince Hall Grand Lodges. – Source – Masonic Court Cases
As to the former rulings against Prince Hall and its standing amongst the Masonic Community today, the United Grand Lodge of England established a committee that examined at great lengths the legitimate origins and determined in 1992 that Prince Hall Grand Lodges were indeed regular Grand Lodges, though formed irregularly but consistent with the forming of Grand Lodges during its time of organization. 40 U.S. Grand Lodges now in amity with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge substantiates that they would not be included in such categories as spurious Freemasonry, which is simply not Freemasonry, but the imitation of it.
The word clandestine today is an often misapplied word compared to prior to the Baltimore Convention of 1834. All Regular Grand Lodges are clandestine to some other regular Grand Lodge. Being clandestine in the proper context has nothing to do with proving a standard of regularity that has been substantiated over time by the courts, and is codified by laws in New York state, and other states.
The word ‘clandestine’ falls with unhappy significance upon modern Masonic ears, but it did not in those days mean quite the same thing as it does to Masons of this age, Prior to the ‘Lodge of Reconciliation’ and the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, the two Grand Bodies of England, the ‘Moderns’ (who were the older) and the ‘Antients’ (who were the younger, schismatic body) each considered the other ‘clandestine.’ – Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Proceedings February 3, 1783
The feminine disciplines though irregular, and are thus clandestine to traditional Freemasonry, do have origins found within the Masonic Fraternity definitively from the Grand Orient of France’s requirement their existence would be attached to a traditional all male Masonic lodge and one woman at least was made a Master Mason in a Masons Lodge, though it was against the rules of the Grand Orient, Maria Deraisme. The Grand Orient, at one time determined to be regular, has legitimate origins.
What is often not included in the mainstream discussion of the quantitative effects of spurious Freemasonry, which include more than 450 spurious grand lodges in the United States alone, which collectively boasts memberships close to 400,000 members, and grossing more than approximately $43 million dollars, all in the name of traditional freemasonry. These groups advertise for membership with famous Masons such as George Washington and Fredrick Douglass. What is also not often examined are the horrid perpetuation of racism used to emotionally inspire the continued separation between races within the Masonic institution by the feeding of negative stereotypes gathered through mass generalizations.
Please allow this petition to be supported if nothing else, to bring national attention to fraudulently practiced Freemasonry. Our Fraternity is on a cusp of a great resurgence with a massive return to focus on Masonic education as the center of bonds in the fraternity being created. We need not stand idly by while fraud undermines our progression.
Chris Hodapp posted today about a petition to prevent (prohibit, bar, ban, make illegal by presidential power?) clandestine Grand Lodges. Note – the post is now archived.
The text of the petition, which you can read at petitions.whitehouse.gov, says:
Grand Lodges of Freemasons began in 1717, in London, England. All Grand Lodges in the world must have a direct lineage to this Grand Lodge to be Masonically legal. This process in proving legitimate origins has been upheld in the case of Supreme Grand Lodge Modern Free Accepted Masons of the World vs. Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia Docket no. 14374, United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit. Other courts have established this precedent as well. There are only 94 legal Grand Lodges in the United States, the Prince Hall Grand Lodges, and the State Grand Lodges, all having legitimate origins from the Grand Lodge of England, but more than 450 fraudulent Grand Lodges exist, unregulated, committing extreme hazing and fraud on unsuspecting men. Stop the fraud.
Hodapp closes his post with an appeal to “Sign the White House petition…by August 4th. to be considered by President Obama, the petition requires 100,000 signatures (with roughly 400 at the time of my writing).
Your decision to sign is your own. But, before you put finger to keyboard to commit your pixelated signature I thought it would be good form to consider some of the aspects included in the petition itself.
All Grand Lodges in the world must have a direct lineage to [the Grand Lodge of England] to be Masonically legal. I suppose, in a broad context, which would be the case assuming that the UGLE is the chief franchiser of the Masonic Brand. But, since when is the President the arbiter of brand recognition? I’m sure the Supreme Court could weigh in on the matter, but ownership aside, it seems like a Masonic disagreement would be outside the scope of their jurisdiction. Lineage is only important to those who believe it to be so. Would saying all protestant churches are breaking Christian law by not following the lead of Rome?
Historically speaking, it sets the 1717 foundation of the Grand Lodge system as the chronological benchmark for legitimacy. Given that the foundation of a “grand lodge” out of severally existing lodges suggests that the incorporation of the fraternity is where our lineage begins.
The petition mentions a civil case from 1954, Supreme Grand Lodge Modern Free Accepted Masons of the World vs. Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia. That proceeding as essentially about:
This action was instituted by appellee, a Georgia corporation, to enjoin appellant, an Alabama corporation, from engaging in conduct alleged to constitute unfair competition against appellee, and from holding itself out as a Lodge of Freemasons or as a member of the Masonic Fraternity. It was further prayed that appellant be enjoined from using the name ‘Supreme Grand Lodge, Modern Free and Accepted Colored Masons of the World.’
History and jurisprudence was the outcome. I’ll leave it to you to decipher the legalese. My take, neither site had a writ or warrant, instead “…both plaintiff and defendant trace their legal origin to a charter issued by a state court [in 1890].
Two actions involving conflicting claims of rival colored Masonic organizations were consolidated for trial. The first was an action for conversion in which a cross-complaint was filed asking damages for fraud. The second action was one brought by the Hiram of Tyre Grand Lodge against the Sons of Light Grand Lodge to enjoin the latter from conducting a grand lodge of colored Freemasonry in California. fn. 1 The trial court found against Light in both actions. Thereupon Light attempted to appeal from both judgments. However, this court heretofore granted a motion to dismiss the appeal in the conversion case on the ground that the judgment [94 Cal. App. 2d 28] was not final, an accounting being required. (Most Worshipful Sons etc. Lodge v. Sons etc. Lodge, 91 Cal. App. 2d 582 [205 P.2d 722].) The present appeal deals only with the injunction action and the first action will be disregarded.
While not delving into the legalese, the outcome, in so far as I can discern from that legal action was:
The position of the courts as regards rival fraternal organizations is well stated in Cuney Grand Lodge v. State (1926), 142 Miss. 894 [108 So. 298, 302]: “The court cannot judicially know what the principles and degrees of free Masonry are, or of any particular brand of doctrine known as free Masonry, if there be differences of organization and principles. That is a matter with which the state is not concerned so long as [94 Cal. App. 2d 35] no fraud is used to deceive a person solicited to join or be received into these orders.”
 The injunction in this case went too far. It should have been limited to prohibiting defendant, its officers, agents, servants and employees from representing that its grand lodge and its subordinate lodges were or are the only bona fide grand lodge and subordinate lodges of Freemasonry in California, or making any representation or performing any act which would tend to confuse, in the minds of the public, or prospective members, its organization with plaintiff and its subordinate lodges, or by misrepresentation to attempt to lure away plaintiff’s members…
The findings of Cuney Grand Lodge v. State State said:
State may forfeit charter of fraternal corporation soliciting members by falsely representing that they will be received into regular Masonic lodges throughout the United States, and may restrain re- ceiving members by such means pending trial of forfeiture proceedings. Cuney v. State, 142 Miss. 894, 108 So. 298 (1926) page 31.
So, where does that leave us. I suppose it means if an organization solicits members “by falsely representing that they will be received into regular Masonic lodges” the state can withdraw their incorporation. But, what if no claim is made? And who has the time, or money, to enforce these kinds of actions when it would be an uphill battle to prove who owns the Masonic trademark. But, at the same time, it seems a petition like this deliberately hurts other organizations that may share the name Freemasonry, which takes us into a whole ‘nother debate on what it means to be clandestine. Why lose the trees for the forest when the real issue is violence and hazing.
What the petition comes down to is a plea to stop malicious and dangerous hazing. So, in light of that, I’ve created a petition to make hazing of any kind illegal. Perhaps you’ll consider adding your signature to this petition instead.
If we are to grow and if we are to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry
Have you talked to today’s generation lately?
I am referring to someone who was born say in 1990. Have you noticed what kind of values they hold, their idealism, what they will not put up with, how they communicate? Do they seem to hold a higher level of tolerance and a much less judgmental attitude from their fathers and grandfathers?
Here is an article from 1988. The bold section has been added by this writer.
The Bee Hive is indebted to Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson for another great article. Brother Anderson operates a weekly Masonic Newsletter. Each Sunday he sends out a new article.
To get on Brother Anderson’s list, at no cost, E-Mail him at email@example.com
DEALING WITH OUR MASONIC DESTINATIONS
by Francis G. Paul Sovereign Grand Commander AASR Northern Masonic Jurisdiction THE NORTHERN LIGHT November 1988
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see,” someone wrote, “when you take your eyes off your goals.”
One of the best, most efficient ways to stay where you are or even go backward is to focus on the obstacles. They are the distractions that keep us from becoming the best we can – both personally and as a fraternity.
When you and I take a risk, we test ourselves. When we decide to solve a problem, we face the possibility of failure. When we step out to break new ground, we know the voices of the critics will be raised. Safety is certain, at least for awhile, if we do nothing.
Yet, Masonry teaches us to be dissatisfied – discontent – with the status quo. Freemasonry challenges us to reach for the ideals of justice, brotherly love, and improvement – individually and as a fraternity.
In its annual report to the Supreme Council in September, the Committee on the General State of the Rite broke new ground. While applauding our many successes, the committee urges us to set our eyes on our destinations, our goals.
Race and ethnic groups. “This committee carefully searched our constitutions and ritual,” the report reads, “finding nothing to indicate that we should deprive membership in our fraternity to any man because of race, color or creed.” Pointing out that this is indeed a difficult subject, yet it is one “that has been avoided for too many years.”
The report continues, “It is the committee’s opinion that unadmitted, residual racial bias hurts us, sapping our strength, and depriving us of men with strong leadership ability.”
Although long overdue, the Supreme Council has elected the first black member to receive the 33rd degree at our next annual meeting. “In today’s society, we can no longer ‘stone-wall’ this vital issue if we really intend to practice what we preach – brotherly love – in this wonderful nation of people with many and diverse origins,” states the committee report.
Sovereignty of the Grand Lodges. Noting that the framers of our U.S. Constitution recognized that the survival of the young nation depended on a balance of authority between the individual states and a federal government, the committee indicates that “there is a lesson to be learned” for our fraternity.
The committee has stepped forward with a call for “some central governance group – a policy-setting body with executive power to provide cohesive, coordinated management of the total Masonic fraternity.”
If we are to grow and if we are to meet the challenges of today and those of the 21st century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry.
Penalties of the obligations and balloting. “It is becoming increasingly apparent that thinking candidates are having trouble giving honest assent to the current penalties contained in the obligations,” reports the committee. “Oaths required deal with ‘ancient’ penalties which are obsolete, unbelievable, unacceptable and simply not relevant in today’s society.”
Oaths taken anywhere on a Bible are not “symbolic.” Our credibility as a fraternity suffers when we attempt to “explain away” our ancient Masonic penalties. As a result, the committee urges all Bodies of Freemasonry to commence an “orderly rewrite and substitution of the onerous penalties in the various obligations of our order. “
Finally, the committee addressed the balloting issue. “With our prevailing procedures of admitting new members only by unanimous, favorable ballot, we leave too much room for private pique and spite, all of which serves to deny true liberty and justice.” In order to rectify this situation, the committee has called for the Supreme Council to amend its Constitutions to require three negative votes to reject a candidate for all of our degrees, and urges all Masonic Bodies to give this suggestion immediate attention.”
For men whose eyes are on the goals, there are no obstacles, just opportunities to lead the way. The committee report received a standing ovation. Evidently, we are ready to move forward.
We may never achieve perfection, but we can find more perfect ways for justice, brotherly love, and improvement to prevail in Freemasonry – and the world. When you think about it, the only frightful obstacle is our unwillingness to act on our Masonic ideals.
Wayne Anderson, FCF, MPS Alle Menschen Werden Brueder 2B1ASK1
If Freemasonry is to gain wide acceptance among the current generation and the next it needs to do two important things.
Communicate using today’s technology
Have the same purpose, values, virtues and principles throughout the entire nation
Today’s high tech generation living in the highly mobile society of the Information Age is no longer grounded in one state. The days of a family tracing back its ancestry to the same town in the same state are long gone. The days of the Moon Lodge and most Freemasons walking to Lodge are also extinct. Today’s American thinks country not state moving many times to different regions of America.
Today’s generation and future generations will not join Freemasonry if there is a segment that discriminates against African Americans or turns its nose up to non Christians or shuns the foreign born-foreign speaking.
THE IDEALS OF FREEMASONRY ARE UNIVERSAL BUT THE AMERICAN PRACTICE IS PAROCHIAL.
The words of Sovereign Grand Commander Paul 34 years ago are here reiterated:
The committee has stepped forward with a call for “some central governance group – a policy-setting body with executive power to provide cohesive, coordinated management of the total Masonic fraternity.”
If we are to grow and if we are to meet the challenges of today and those of the 21st century, we must have a national approach for Freemasonry.
The South did not become integrated by leaving it up to the states. Federal enforcement became necessary. If Freemasonry is to meet the expectations of the current and future generations it must put a stop to racial discrimination, expulsions without a good reason and without a Masonic trial, overbearing Grand Lodge mandates, requirements that exclude, overly moralistic prohibitions against alcohol, gambling and independent Masonic thought & expression and intrusions into the private lives of individuals.
American Freemasonry must think American, be American and in the process insist that certain basic requirements and practices are met everywhere, otherwise the practice ceases to be Freemasonry. We must have a national approach to Freemasonry as Paul suggests. American Freemasonry needs to be Universally American not Parochial. The parts of American Freemasonry that do not live up to Freemasonry’s ideals cannot be allowed to drag down the reputation of the good parts that practice true Universal Freemasonry.
We have allowed 51 fiefdoms, under the tradition of non interference into another jurisdiction’s affairs, to corrupt Freemasonry in some quarters thereby resulting in versions of Freemasonry that are no longer Freemasonry. They call themselves Freemasonry but they have so distorted the basic principles of the Craft as to be actually practicing some sort of heresy.
To that end some sort of national enforcement is necessary. The bureaucracy of a National Grand Lodge would be fraught with the same cronyism and ineptitude that is indicative of many jurisdictions. The vehicle of enforcement is already in place, The conference of Grand Masters. This Conference could, insisting on a two thirds majority, codify basic cornerstones of American Masonic beliefs and practices. This would not interfere with the sovereignty of each state jurisdiction. The affairs of state would be administered by the individual states. But the overall cornerstone upon which the rest of American Freemasonry rests would now be the same from state to state.
Those jurisdictions who refused to comply with the two thirds rulings of The Conference of Grand Masters, remembering here we are only talking about basic cornerstone beliefs and practices, would be declared clandestine and Recognition of them would be removed. There would then be only one version of Freemasonry in the United States, American Freemasonry, governed by 51 jurisdictions.
American Freemasonry needs to liberate itself from the confines of CONTROLLED THOUGHT AND ABUSIVE POWER. It must police itself before it turns off future prospects who will look upon the corruptions of Freemasonry with disgust.
The young Masons do. There is a cancer in Mainstream Masonry and it is in need of chemotherapy and radiation. The cancer is the capricious use of unbridled power by Grand Masters across the land. Oh, not all of them govern their Lodges in such a tyrannical manner but enough do to sully the name of Freemasonry.
But the Old Guard is turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the problem as they tell us: Number one if it is out of their jurisdiction it is none of their business. Number two bringing problems out in the open and publicizing them only destroys Freemasonry. And number three there is a process in place in most Grand Lodges to address grievances and the vote of the entire sitting Grand Lodge can overturn bad policies and remove bad Masons. So what’s the beef?
The Catholic Church has had a problem with pedophile priests. And they used to have the same Old Guard mentality. If molestation occurred in another diocese than it was not the business of congregants to mess in another territory. Bringing the problem out into the open would allow the press to have a field day with the church and destroy it. And above all the Church must be protected even if doing so causes human suffering. And there was a grievance policy in place to address problems.
Why can’t we just keep it in house, so say the Freemason Old Guard, so say the Catholic Church Old Guard? Just keep your mouth shut and we will reprimand the abuser and fix the problem.
But what about the people who were abused? In the case of the Church, what about the children who were traumatized by being violated by those who were supposed to be their protectors? Did the Church provide them therapy to help them return to a normal life? Did the Church comfort them and counsel them? Did the Church bring the matter to justice and provide the afflicted and families with closure?
NO, NO and NO. The Church could not admit any wrongdoing on the part of its clergy lest the Church come under attack and be diminished or destroyed. Above all, at all costs, the Institution had to be protected against anything that would hurt it. So it was necessary to declare the stories of Priest abuse unbelievable. Later when overwhelming evidence to the contrary was unmistakable, the Church demanded that there be total silence and would not help those abused for fear of admitting them right. Don’t you dare go to the police or civil courts the molested were told.
Oh the shame, the human suffering that was not attended to. All those children sexually molested, entire families traumatized, the abused judged as guilty and the abusers left to run free. Oh the shame of it all!
But the course of action by the Church to hush it up and try to handle it internally without allowing the civil police to investigate and attorney generals to prosecute and the press to publicize backfired on it. And when it all came out into the open it was that much harder to deal with and that much costlier to settle with the abused.
Mainstream Masonry is following the same path. It thinks only of the Institution and the good name of Freemasonry not on the unjustly and unfairly expelled Brethren who have been libeled, slandered and abused – and kicked to the curb in the process. What about David Lettelier? What about PGM Frank Haas? What about Mike McCabe? What about Derek Gordon? What about the thousands of other Freemasons who are the victims of Grand Lodge abuse? Do they not deserve to have their good name restored, for justice to prevail, to be reinstated wherever they want to continue their Masonic journey? They are human beings with feelings and emotions. Why must they be forgotten and unsupported, left to flounder on their own after having done nothing wrong? Do we care about human beings in Freemasonry? Do we care what’s been done to these men?
Oh the shame of it all! Freemasonry is so wrought with rules and regulations that it cannot permit itself to right a wrong. Yet Justice is one of the four Cardinal Virtues.
Not only will Freemasonry not stoop to aid the abused, it will even criticize those who try to help themselves. It’s, “We can’t mess with somebody else’s problem.” Really? Is that what the Volume of Sacred Law on our altars tells us? “How dare a Freemason take his case to civil court.” “It is not healthy for Freemasonry to air its dirty laundry in the public venue.” Hush up, be silent. We don’t care about you we just want to make sure that nothing besmirches the good name of Freemasonry – at all costs.
So what is an unjustly punished man to do? What course of action has he left? Where can he turn? Who even gives a dam?
And if he should sign on to continue his Masonic journey in unrecognized paths, how is he treated? Is his life not one of scorn and ridicule for finding company with those “irregular,” “clandestine” folks? What Freemasonry wants is for him to pass quietly into the shadows while it regards him as a leper.
Oh the same of it all!
But as the numbers of unjustly and unfairly expelled Masons grows the unrecognized avenues available increase. All those Masons in power bemoan the continued rise and popularity of so called “bogus” Freemasonry. Yet it is the very same who help create these alternatives by purging their Grand Lodges of everybody but ass kissers.
Well unrecognized Masonry may be taking on a new respectability. In a recent issue of the Phylaxis Magazine we can find these words?
“Within the Craft of today, ‘regularity’ is of the same substance as religious ‘salvation,’ and more dependent on the magical effects of ‘belief’ and ‘faith,’ than objective considerations. No Mason can provide one definition for regularity without setting aside excuses to account for the numerous cases which would fall outside of the definition.
“They are the same ‘mental muscles’ as are required to articulate the anhypostasis-enhypostasis formula, that are employed to concatenate and articulate the formula for ‘regularity.’ The most honest definition for regularity, which would survive and ‘test’ without caveat, would be to admit that regularity is whatever the sovereign in question says it is, and that one sovereign can not pass upon the regularity of any other; they can only either extend or withhold recognition. It requires one to lay aside commonsense notions to rely on some ‘authority,’ which supersedes reason.”
“Due to the fact that all grand lodges are sovereign, there is no outside ‘authority’ to which any GL owes any deference; likewise there is no basis for any one grand lodge holding another accountable to any particular set of rules or regulations. Except ‘political’ and other types of pressure, the only retribution that one GL can enact against another is to withdraw ‘recognition.’ The complaint is often voiced regarding a grand body not following ‘established’ or ‘agreed upon’ rules, but the fact is that there are very few ‘treaties’ or ‘agreements’ actually in place between grand lodges, and thus the notion that there is some ‘established law’ that binds all Masons is fanciful at best. Neither the Regis Manuscript, Anderson’s Constitution, Mackey’s Jurisprudence nor any other expression of ‘Masonic Law’ is binding upon any Mason individually unless his grand lodge has officially accepted such as binding.”
“For example, like in Christianity, where a man does not receive ’salvation’ as a result of any good deeds or service to humanity, but through his faith that Jesus the Christ is ‘the Lord;’ within Prince Hall Masonry, regularity is not achieved through diligently pursuing the Masonic Principles, but that it is through the ‘blessings’ or ‘authority’ of the Grand Lodge of England, (Scotland or Ireland) that regularity is achieved. This formula for regularity is a ‘witch’s brew,’ used as a ‘strong arm tactic’ to abrogate the Doctrine of Assumption, and force any new Masonic organization to require the assistance of other regular bodies in order to achieve a ‘legitimate origin,’ and ergo ‘recognition.’”
“The Doctrine of assumption is a convention within the natural law which codifies the concept of ‘free will’ and the right of self determination which are inherent within humanity. It was through this doctrine that the first grand lodges, England, Scotland and Ireland were formed. Simply stated, this doctrine would permit any group of men to form any type of lodge or grand lodge whenever and wherever they should so choose. It is this same doctrine which validates African Lodge No. 459’s actions in ‘copying’ its English charter to be shared with other lodges, and for eventually declaring sovereignty in 1827 to ‘legally’ issue charters to lodges thereafter. The only legitimate question that any GL can put to another after it is formed is whether to extend or withhold recognition.”
“Once you consider all the of the ‘hoops’ an organization must jump through in order to get ‘recognition’ without the imprimatur of England, Scotland or Ireland, only an irrational ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ could support any expectation of achieving the designation. For these reasons, many non-Prince Hall African American bodies, several of them over 100 years old and still in existence, have ‘by any means necessary’ fabricated histories which could cause an unsuspecting prospective member to ‘believe’ them ‘recognized.’ Still many others have resigned to ignore or otherwise forego the coveted distinction, and relying instead on the Doctrine of Assumption and the merits of their practice, have formed ‘spurious’ Masonic organizations. Although the ability to claim regularity is a ‘big deal’ within Masonry, it is difficult to state any actual benefits that flow with the designation besides ‘bragging rights’ and the fettered right to visit other regular lodges.” (1)
So we have across the nation thousands of expelled Masons, many of whom were treated unjustly and unfairly. Yet Freemasonry proposes to do nothing about stopping the continuing Masonic purges nor offer any solace for the expelled. Not only will it not stop the injustices but it even refuses to speak out against Grand Lodges who are acting un-Masonically. Mainstream Freemasonry refuses to police itself.
What it does do through the Rite of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction and by other means is to maintain a Mainstream monopoly on Freemasonry in each state. Monopolies in business are notorious offenders. Keeping out competition is the essence of maintaining control and being able to operate without being responsible or answerable or held accountable to anyone, most especially the little people. What better way to do this than to declare all other formations of Freemasonry in that jurisdiction clandestine and irregular and thus refuse to recognize them. But the day is coming when the government will step in to regulate Freemasonry and the public, especially prospective candidates, will not care about such distinctions. What they will care about is how well an organization they choose to belong to operates and whether it does so in a legal and moral manner.
(1) Prince Hall The Christ, by the Ruffians, The Phylaxis Magazine, Third Quarter 2010, pages 14-15.
What is “Masonic Intercourse” many Masons ask? The definition can mean many things and different authors have given their opinion as to the actual purpose of having it in our rituals.
In The Meaning of Masonic Obligation, PGM R.V. Harris of Nova Scotia defines Masonic Intercourse as, “…to refrain from Masonic Intercourse with outsiders, and with irregular Freemasons and to discountenance all irregularities and immoralities.” Well, this is still not clear enough to define or determine its meaning. The web-site, “The Beacon Light of Freemasonry”, gives another definition which states, “Masonic communication, or as it is alternately called, Masonic Intercourse, involves any type of communication involving sharing the secrets of masonry. Primarily, that is sitting in a tyled lodge session, which is any type of Masonic meeting where the general public is NOT allowed, or where the qualification for attendance is being a Mason.”
The truth is that we must clearly and truly understand the difference in what we call “Masonry” vs. what some want to create out of it. There are two forms of Masonic Intercourse. There is the verbal (exoteric) which we are aware of, but many are not aware of non-verbal (esoteric) communication. The verbal is common understanding, as we would clearly understand that if you communicate with a clandestine (Bogus) Mason about the modes of recognition like passwords, grips and signs, you are in strict violation of your obligation. You can communicate verbally limited aspect of esoteric messages via words, but not many are Masonically educated enough to reach that level. Now, what we fail to realize that there is such a thing as non-verbal communication (esoteric). This is where some lose sight of the meaning of communication. Non-Verbal communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior, dress or gathering. It is to be in sync with one another for a common goal. It is like a tuxedo ball. Everyone is in sync until someone enters with jeans and sneakers. As the jeans and sneaker guest walks in, a communication automatically is transmitted via a non-verbal transmission. He is automatically out of place due to his appearance. Non-Verbal communication does not always reveal a negative existence and is hidden in its esoteric engagement. When we do not realize we are communicating or engaged in communication, we are blind of the effects it can cause. Masonic Intercourse is an exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication between parties whether you are communicating with legal Masons or not. Being invited to, accepting and attending in your Masonic regalia at a function such as an official Divine Service or St. John’s Day from a so-called Masonic group that is clandestine and irregular is Masonic Intercourse.
In Prince Hall Masonry, we have functions that we consider Masonic in nature that are called, “Divine Services, Prince Hall Day, and St. John’s Day” to name a few. In these events, we are clothed in formal Masonic regalia. We do so in reverence to our founder “Brother Prince Hall” and to reflect the struggles this organization has gone through and how we have evolved throughout two centuries. Most importantly, when our leadership is clothed in Masonic attire, we are representing the craft. When your Grand Master or his representative at anytime wears his jewel and apron, he is representing “Grand Lodge”. It is an official act. This is a form of “communication or communicating”. Communicating in the above fashion is clearly Masonic in nature as we are dressed in the order of business for the purpose of an official Masonic gathering. It is Masonic intercourse. In the above events, we must clearly recognize a few things.
Although no modes of recognition are displayed, through the very act of presenting ourselves in full regalia, we are communicating to each other the respect of accepting each other as equal (i.e. a Peer).
Although non-Masons are allowed, it is a form of education to advocate unity, love and admiration to one another within the fraternity. However, if a clandestine Mason (Bogus) is dressed the same, our act of acceptance is considered “irregular”, and that is only if we accept them as peers.
We are a distinct organization different from college fraternities, social organizations, political parties and most important, the average citizen.
Because of the struggles, of our path finder within this organization, we agreed to follow our progenitor’s path.
Lastly because of our rich history and knowing who we are and where we came from, that we will not devalue our institution by sympathizing and recognizing what our ritual and constitutions recognize as clandestine and irregular. That is, so-called Masons that belong to groups that cannot prove that they came from a competent Grand Body that empowered them to work.
Let us investigate what is “Clandestine”? Macoy’s Encyclopedia describes clandestine Lodges as “Lodges which have been formed by avaricious Freemasons, who take money from those people who have no idea of the difference between warranted Regularly Constituted Grand Lodge and one that is not regularly constituted.” History demonstrates that many of the bodies that call themselves Masonic in African American communities, were organizations established by suspended or expelled Masons. Why are we today placing our guards down against groups that have not come via the same regular or similar way as those who are known to be regular?
Their threat to legitimate Prince Hall Freemasonry is threefold:
They deprive our lodges of potential good recruits, and deprive those men of the opportunity to become genuine Masons;
Many of them bring Masonry into disrepute in the eyes of the general public by conducting degree mills for profit; and
Their very existence, and often their conduct, cause confusion among those mainstream Masons who assume that all Blacks calling themselves Masons are of Prince Hall Affiliation, and also among some Prince Hall Affiliated Masons who are tempted to place racial solidarity ahead of legitimacy of origin and global Masonic acceptance.
This is not to say that Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not have their problems, however, here in New York, we have a record within our proceedings and recorded transactions via committees that show the complications we have had in our state, due to Bogus and Clandestine Masonry.
Let us get back to “Masonic Intercourse” as this is our main focus and in truth really define the crux of the matter. In true Universal Freemasonry the pigment of a man’s skin has never been a signature of regularity, nor gives him the same rights as a member of a legally established Masonic Fraternity. However, in the history of Freemasonry in the United States, the concept of race has reared its ugly head and, has been a barrier to the acceptance of men of color, in particular “Prince Hall Masons”. Nothing is more sensitive than a subject that touches on racial lines especially when speaking of our own community. We must not confuse our various relationships and associations with individuals, social clubs, political organizations, college fraternities, or churches, to name a few, with Universal Freemasonry. Often times we believe that anything that looks like us are us. This is not always true. In my opinion, we do a severe disservice to ourselves and our organization by communicating with Bogus Masons in the act of accepting them as our peers by being fully regaled in Masonic gatherings that we hold dear to our organization. There is nothing wrong in educating them of history and our organization, as many of them are good timber and practice Masonry in their hearts, but we must understand that there is a difference between “Masonry and Freemasonry”. Freemasonry is the institution and it has specific rules found in our Constitution and Masonry is the original nature of the Universe.
We do not realize that the moment you enter a gathering in your esoteric garb known as gloves, apron, and jewels with a clandestine Mason, you have just committed Masonic Intercourse whether you initiated it or not.
Some of these so-called Grand Lodges are considered “Spurious” in nature, because spurious can be considered bodies of illegitimate birth, outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities. It is a so-called Masonic entity that falsifies or erroneously attributes its origin to some non-existing Masonic source. It is deceitful in nature. Remember, if a thing is false, it cannot be a fact in its representation. The only fact is that a spurious Lodge is a false Masonic body. The word “spurious” was used in England as far back as 1824 when they considered lodge No. 557 spurious. This spurious Lodge met at an inn called, “The White Bear” and thereafter “The Royal Hotel”. Many who are spurious or even part of a spurious body do not know the origin of his Grand Lodge/Lodge, and are hoodwinked with false pretense that he has joined a respectful organization thinking that its main objective and cause is for the upliftment of humanity, never noticing fraud or deceit. Many good Men have been sucked into these organizations by way of ignorance. They, along with clandestine and irregular bodies, have often used the false history of Masonry and in particular the history of Prince Hall Freemasonry. They have used the mud throwing of calling us paupers of charters, beggars of recognition, and even calling Prince Hall Masons racist of their own kind, not knowing that although an organization with a make-up of predominately men of color, we have hundreds of white Brothers in our ranks.
On June 6, 1956, M.:W.: G.M. L Ernest DuBois in his address under Clandestine Masonry went on record as per the minutes of the 111th Annual Grand Communication:
“As like the two (2) previous subjects, this too has received a considerable amount of attention, not only in this jurisdiction, but throughout the Country by White and Negro Masons alike.
Our White Brethren have seen and read enough about Prince Hall masonry to the extent that they are fairly well convinced of our legitimacy and while they do not accept us as a group, they do, to a great extent, accept us as individual Masons, and as a whole do not consider us a threat to the Masonic Institution, just so long as we do not conduct ourselves and our activities in such a manner that it will bring reproach upon the Masonic Fraternity. This is an indication, in my opinion, based upon conversations with a few of our outstanding White Brethren that like integration, recognition by this group is on the way, but do not get the impression from these remarks that, like prosperity many years ago, it is just around the corner. This is far from the case, but there is a great interest in this subject on the part of our White Brethren and I hope and pray that if and when such recognition is accorded all Prince Hall Masons, we will be ready to accept it and will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brother Masons throughout the World. Much depends upon the manner in which we conduct our affairs and the interest we take in, not only our Lodges, but our share of the community responsibilities.
“Several months ago your Grand Master addressed a communication to Grand Master Amos T. Hall of Oklahoma, and the President of the Grand Master’s Conference, in which was suggested that a committee composed of representatives of the Grand Master’s Conference, together with representatives of the Concordant Bodies, and the Shrine, convene for the purpose of discussing the subject of clandestine Masonry and suggest ways and means by which this great evil might be over-come. Several Jurisdictions have taken these groups into court and decisions in favor of the Prince Hall Jurisdictions have been handed down, but at a great expense financially. It was in my mind that if a concerted effort could be made, sponsored by the Grand Lodges and National organizations, a much more effective job might be done and in a much shorter space of time. In due time Grand Master Hall answered my communication and informed me that he appreciated the suggestions and would discuss it further at the Grand Master’s Conference.”
“While attending the conference the week of May 20th, Brother Hall informed me that about the same time he received my communication, he was the recipient of a like communication from the Sovereign Grand Commander, II. George W. Crawford, inviting him to come to the City of Philadelphia prior to the Supreme Council Session to discuss this matter with him and his officers.”
“It gives me pleasure to report to this M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge that definite steps have been taken in this direction. The Officers of the Supreme Council, together with the Imperial Council of the Shrine, have pledged their support to the Grand Master’s Conference to assist in combating clandestine Masonry. President Hall has been empowered by the Conference members to select a committee to work with the aforementioned groups for the purpose of study; the securing of data relative to clandestine masonry and in due time make recommendations as to how best to handle the situation. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction- at least a more concrete step than ever taken before and another indication that the entire Prince Hall Family is going to pull together toward one end. And I am just conceited enough to feel that New York State has had a small part in a great undertaking.”
I believe that our Brothers of the past had a better understanding of what was happening around them and focused on the good of the organization. Today, we have leadership who accepts Bogus Masons as their peers and recognize them as Masons only because the majority look like Prince Hall Masons in complexion, wear Masonic paraphernalia, meet in buildings labeled “Masonic Temple” or hold Masonic titles. Is this a good and wise reason we should accept and embrace these organizations as “Masonic”?
In my article, “Education For A People Unaware”, I stated:
“Regularity is a big question for most. Many have no clue what it really means. In the search for truth, we must investigate all the parameters that make up the substance of that which is to be considered for evaluation. Certain standards must be used for guidelines in which to measure against the intended interest of one’s choice, whether it’s an object or viewpoint. Freemasonry has been established centuries ago by Ancient Landmarks, Ancient Charges, Constitutions, and many unwritten laws. Taking basic attributes that make up regularity such as establishing Lodges from a “competent jurisdiction empowering it to work”, or abiding by the ancient charges in which most follow Anderson’s Constitution, you will see that many Lodges or Grand Lodges which erected them-selves illegally did not follow these basic rules. Lodges in order to be regular must have been established by a regular Grand Lodge. It must be truly independent and self-governing with undisputed authority over Craft Masonry. Freemasons under its jurisdiction must be Men having no Masonic Intercourse with Lodges, which admit Women or Clandestine Masons. You must believe in a Supreme Being, and take the obligation over a Volume of Sacred Laws. The three great lights must be displayed with the Square and Compasses, and finally to follow the tenets of Freemasonry to name a few.”
Most rituals of the day have some clause or state that you will not be at the in****, pas**** or rai**** of a clandestine Mason, so why are we going to joint events in our Masonic dress with individual that you are prohibited from witnessing their in****, pas**** and rai****? How can I be obligated to not be present at their initiation and advancement, but recognize them by being in function with our esoteric clothing representing Masonry? I do not know one man that can dress up as a Police Officer and think he can arrest crooks just because he has a police uniform, gun and badge and impersonates a cop. You can save hundreds of lives by impersonating a Doctor and practicing medicine without a license does not make you a physician. Making a certificate or degree on your computer does not mean you have a Masters like the many so-called charters that bogus Masons produce. Some even get a charter from the state and confuse the public and regular Masons as if a state charter is equal to a Masonic one.
In Massachusetts in 1903, a decision was made about John G. Jones, an attorney in Illinois and member of the MWPHGL of Illinois after his expulsion that:
The MWPHGL of The State of Massachusetts, does not and will not affiliate with or in any way recognize Masonically, any person affiliating with, recognizing or in any way having Masonic Intercourse with John G. Jones, recently expelled from Masonry by the MWPHGL of Illinois, or with those with whom he is in affiliation.” This was signed by GM William H. Jackson, and attested by Benjamin C. Hazel, Grand Secretary”.
In New York, In accordance with the foregoing communication, Most Worshipful Edward V.C. Eato at the time Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York issued an edict warning the Lodges and their members not to have any Masonic Intercourse with Jones or his representatives under pain of punishment for contumacy.
Here is one example of a Prince Hall Mason being expelled from Masonry and today, the Grand Lodges that he created and their splinter groups have disguised themselves as legitimate bodies. Why are some of our leadership engage in fellowshipping instead of educating these groups of their origin?
On June 9, 1961 (116th Annual Grand Communication) Report by the Committee on Clandestine Masonry.
“As secretary of the Committee on Clandestine Masonry, I wish to make the following report: A Bogus Mason is a Bogus Mason. Perhaps a ‘faker’ is more appropriate term. For generations particularly during the second half of the nineteenth century deceptions, hoaxes, and ruses have been prostituted upon Men of Color in the fair name of legitimate Freemasonry. These would be Masons, or better styled, Masonic pirates, have worked there will of misbrands as they see fit, not recognizing the fact nor caring to that an entire race of people were being victimized, retarded and delimited, and very much so.”
“Some perpetrators may indulge in this fraudulent practice for the pure enchantment and needed treat it affords, others, for the monetary gains, power and self-esteem, it would rightly offer. Whatever the reason, it effects perversion and confusion. Masonry among Men of Color is made impure and the defiled stream reeks with a regurgitating stench of impurities and foreign bodies.”
“To be sure, deception and hoaxes have prevailed in the character of men from earliest times. It would seem to be innate within the personality of some. “Skim milk masquerades as cream,” and someone or some group is the unwitting recipient. The Old Testament tells the story of Jacob’s calculated deception, and also his dupe, to which he in turn was subjected (Genesis: chapter 27-29). From Homer, various Greek plays, medieval romances, and the deceived appear. Ellery Queen’s famous mysteries not to be excluded.”
“It should be perfectly clear in the mind as a consequence why some Negroes have entered and prospered in the business of bogus Masonry and why some individuals are ready made dupes of same: the cultural gap, lack of education and appreciative understanding, and the complexities surrounding a myriad of problems, also, imposed restraints moreover, encourage such malpractices. Such is the position of the American Negro and his continued role in Freemasonry, in a new decade, dedicated to Human Rights and the Betterment of Humankind.”
“At our 113th Grand Communication (1958), recognizing an indisputable “urgent need,” Grand Lodge did empower a special committee, the expressed purpose of which was to reduce and totally eliminate clandestine bodies and their fragments.”
“The first concern or object of this Committee was to identify the field. This having been done, it became necessary to determine believable procedure targeted to eliminate bogus bodies operating within our Grand Jurisdiction. Realizing that a Masonic millennium among “Men of Color” would not occur overnight, we took the immediate as well as the long view of our mandate. All objective evaluation of the prevailing situation leads us to believe that we had a long, tedious, and perhaps costly fight on our hands. This and all else, in order to rid Negro Masonry of this blight, and prevent future defiling of the pure stream.”
“A comprehensive and imaginative program was subsequently developed and formulated. In this fight, the Committee was firmly convinced that, every permissible tool in any permissible way should be used to advance our interest.”
“In the process of shoring up our court case, and future cases notwithstanding, a large amount of basic research became readily apparent. At first, we may have been under some form of self-delusion, as relative to our so-called secure position. However, we were abruptly confronted with bald reality as we attempted to olympicly wade through seven “examinations before trial.” What primary evidence we lacked, what points we were completely uneducated upon, were enough to give us pause. Nonetheless, at this time, we can report that our position has been advanced.”
“In conclusion, I wish to affirm the fact that, The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York must commit the full strength of its great capacity, in order to realize its object. The full energy and vitality of the Craft is imperative. It is hoped that at the 117th Grand Communication, we can report that everything is in progress.”
Harold A. Wilson, Secretary
Committee on Clandestine Masonry
There will be more information when I complete my book, Bogus Masonic Outfits, The Danger to Prince Hall Masonry.