Knights Templar – Freemasonry Connections

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

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.

York, christian knight, templar descendant, english knight
York Rite Cross and Crown – A Cross and Crown laid upon the Cross Pattée inscribed with “In Hoc Signo Vinces”

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?

Read: In Hoq Signo Vinces

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.”

On page 820 of Morals and Dogma, Brother Pike leaves no doubt that he considered Freemasonry the brain child of Jacques de Molay as this extract will indicate.

“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.”

templar cross, equal arm cross
Emblem of the Military Order of Templars.

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.

fate of the templars, demise of the templars, templar execution
Templars burned at the stake

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.

The Third Great Light

edulog1aWhen we think of the Three Great Lights the first one that comes to mind is the Volume of the Sacred Law.  It is our rule and guide and in many jurisdictions it is opened to the passage that belongs to the degree the Lodge is working.

Next one would think of the Square.  It is also the Master’s symbol and we always part on the Square. In addition throughout Freemasonry everything needs to be squared. In the world of the uninitiated we think of a square deal or a square person.

Lastly comes the Compass. Very little is said about this third Great Light other than than its use is to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions in due bounds. Yet without the compass the square might not exist.

Let us ask at this point what is the fourth part of a circle? And how does one get a perfect right angle? Perhaps the Compass is instrumental in the attainment of these ends. Maybe it is not such a third rate symbol after all.

Today’s elucidation on the subject comes from Brother Wayne Anderson of Ontario Canada. He says that whoever wrote this paper made it feel like a play. Squire Bentley says, Aye, but it could use a few more characters. Brother Anderson offers a weekly Sunday Masonic Newsletter in which many fine educational and historical Masonic information can be found. If you would like to get on Anderson’s mailing list please contact him at

The Third Great Light

Author and Date Unknown.

Many hundreds of workmen are laboring on a great building –a Gothic cathedral which one day will be a poem in stone, a hymn to the Most High, a glory of architecture which will enthuse and make men reverent for a thousand years and more in the future.

There are many Fellows of the Craft; expert cutters of stone and layers of ashlars. Some build flying buttresses; some carve intricate and beautiful designs for the interior. In a hut nearby–it is called by the good old English name of “lodge”–the Kings’ Master Mason bends over his plans and draws his designs upon the trestleboard, as did Hiram Abif in the long, long ago.

A knock sounds upon the door. To his impatient “Enter then, and be quick,” a lad pushes upon the portal and stands bareheaded before the Master Workman of them all.

“Well, well? What is it, thou? I am busy upon the King’s work…”

The ‘Prentice bows his head. “Honored Sir,” he begins, timidly, “Full seven years have I served; now I would make my Master’ Piece, and it please you to let me try.”

The King’s Master Mason lays down his work and turns, interested.

“So! Seven years- how the days do pass Thou art young to be a Fellow of the Craft, surely!”

“A man grown, Sire. Twenty-one summers have gone over my head.”

“Hm. Twenty-one. ‘Tis man’s estate, but- art sure thou art ready? Art sure thou canst cut or carve or set the stone sufficiently well to pass the eyes of thy superiors?”

“Aye, Master, I am sure…at least, wilt thou look at thy records? There is naught against me. I have done thy bidding. I have brought no dishonor upon the Craft. I have labored long and with my heart as well as with my hands. I have paid attention…why, Master, thou thyself hath instructed me!”.

“Aye, aye. A good lad…I know. And so thou wouldst make thy Master’s Piece and be a Fellow of the Craft! There will be then, another lad enrolled as an Apprentice–in a year, mayhap, he will be entered on my books and become an Entered Apprentice, even as didst thou, so few days ago…”

“Six years ago, Master!”

“Six–or sixty–they are still few for the building of a Cathedrals Well, what wouldst thou of me?”

“Permission to try, Master…and that thou shouldst prove my square! ’tis old, old, and while I believe it to be true, I must e’en know it is true before I try for mine honor.”

The Master Workman nods approvingly. “Thou hast been well taught, in truth! To Work with an unproved square on important stone is folly. So be it. Thou hast my permission and- after the midday meal, bring me thy square.”

“Sire, may I see thee test it?”

“Now, now! Surely thou knowest better than that! How know I thou canst make thy Master’s Piece successfully? Show thee the great secret of the square? Ah, no, lad- not until thou hast much more of age and experience…but bring me thy square!”

It is after the midday meal. A few, perhaps, have eaten it upon long tables in the lodge. If a good day and warm, many have refreshed themselves without using as tables, stones ready for the setting. ‘Prentices have brought great flagons of cold water from a spring, hard by. Women from the town have carried huge baskets of food for the hungry workmen, and wives and daughters and mothers and sweethearts stand about chatting with their men while they eat. Then a bell rings and all go back to work – all except the Entered Apprentice, who, square in hand, stands again at the door of the lodge, knocking.

“Come in, thou–so! It is an old square, forsooth! Where got you it?”

“From Fellow Eben, Master–’tis he who has taught me much, and he who loans me his cherished tool. He believe it true, he and I, but we would be certain!”

“Eben–& good man. He would know soon enough if his square were awry. But wood doth warp and steel doth bend-I will test thy square. Be off with thee, and return in an hour!”

Pulling his forelock, the Entered Apprentice departs. What thoughts crowd his mind! The Master’s Piece he will attempt to make; what task will be set him to do? A rough ashlar to be made perfect? A stone carving he must labor over? Or will he be given twenty stones and a helper and told to build a wall, or start or complete a buttress? Whatever it is, he will have a true square. If he is to fail, it will not be because of a faulty tool. Well he knows how good work, true work, square work is tested when it is submitted by an Entered Apprentice as a Master’s Piece! Not easily do the Fellows of the Craft admit a newcomer to their ranks. The Entered Apprentice who is to become a Fellow must know his work. He must know his angles and his mortar, his gavel and his level and plumb. He must understand how to work a broached thurnel, and how to tap lightly on his irons or heavily to break a great piece of stone…stone costs much in time and labor to bring from the quarries and no false work can be permitted ’tis the King’s stone!

What goes on in the lodge? What mystic powers does the King’s Master Mason use to try Eben’s square? What a wonder it is, this great knowledge; this power to make a building grow where was but a pile of stones! A square is either square or awry. The tiniest fraction out and the walls lean, the stones seat insecurely the one upon the other. But with the square perfect, the stones can be perfect, the walls true, the building a lasting monument to God…Within the hut the King’s Master Workman closes the door and bars it.

Perhaps he has set a tiler or two to guard it– those who set tiles on roofs are less busy than the layers of walls. Sure that he is free from the prying eyes of those who might climb up to the open space beneath the eaves to listen-and, if it rains get thoroughly wet from the droppings from the roof, or from cowans who never built more than a low wall of field stones, huddled the one on the other to keep the cows from wandering–secure from prying eyes, the King’s Master Mason takes from its place his compasses.

Long they are and rough to look at, made of sturdy oak with an iron hinge, but with fair and true brass points.

Next a sheet of clean white parchment; ’tis costly, this parchment, but seven years! The King’s Master Mason shakes his long white hair about his seamed and lined old face. Seven years–one third of the lad’s life! ‘Tis worth it, even though parchment be expensive!

On the rough table he lays it, and weights its edges down with clean stones. With the compasses he scribes a circle upon it, a generous circle perhaps a cubit across. The sharp brass point scratches in the parchment so the circle is plain to see.

From his rack of drafting tools the King’s Master Workman takes a straight edge–finest work that Fellow Edwin could make. Long had he labored with the block of close-grained ebony, brought from across the seas, to make it true. Backed with strong ash, smoothed of edge, until like the silk that women wear in the East, and straight as the line that divides the sea from sky.

The Master sights along its edges, more from habit than distrust. Then with care he lays it across the circle, so that it touches the tiny puncture in the center made by the stationary leg of the compasses.

“Now, the square-point mark!” he mutters. “‘Tis no matter where I make it-the good God so made this mathematical wonder that I cannot fail, put it where I may.” With one point of the sharp brass pointed compasses he makes a dot on the circle. As he has said, it makes no difference where. Then with two shorter, straight edges connecting the dot on the circle with the circumference. Narrowly he looks.

“What? Do mine eyes deceive me? Is it really out of true?” He picks it up, again lays it down, adjusts it carefully. He looks again, first from above, then from each side. “Nay, I was wrong. They do coincide. Each is equally true–the square I have made by the secret and the power of the compasses–the square which Ebon has used–which now the young lad will use.”

The King’s Master Mason picks up his tools, rolls again the parchment and puts it away. “I could wish I might show the lad,” he sighs. “But it would never do. And likely he hath not the mind to understand. Indeed, who hath the mind to comprehend? What a wonder is the good God to provide such perfect ways to make things perfect. Now why, doth one suppose, doth a dot on a circle, when connected to points in a line with the center, become the juncture of a perfect square? Never a fraction of a fraction of an inch wrong! Always is the angle right the angle of the level on the plumb, a right angle indeed. Who comes?” as a knock sounds on the door.

“Tis thine officer who presides over the Fellows of the Craft – who but Hiram?”

“So. Enter then. I have but now tested Eben’s square for a lad who will try to make his Master’s Piece…”

“Would mine had been tested!” mourned Hiram. “Remember, Master? I did not ask for the testing of my square and it was not right angle, but an angle askew–it cost me a year more of Entered Apprentice Work before thou wouldst let me try again!”

The Master smiles. “Aye, I remember. Well, thou hast tested the tools oft enough since. But Eben’s square is true, a very right angle indeed.”

“While a square is circumscribed within the circumference of a circle, it is impossible that it materially err!” agrees Hiram.

“Aye, the point within the circle–the line across–the lines connecting –they make precepts which all Fellows must, and all men should, heed. Didst ever think, Hiram, that that applies to tools of brass and iron and wood, applies also to character and conscience and mind? Try the square by compasses, the circle, the point within it, the straight edge; so should man try his soul. Let the point be the individual. Let the circle be that boundary beyond which his passions and prejudices may not stray. Let the circle be a holy doctrine—he cannot, then, do any act which is not square, nor materially err in any conduct…”

“Tis a Pity all cannot know and understand, as dost thou!”

“Aye. But so it is ordained. The square is mine–mine by virtue of being the Master. It is for me to know, for me to try, for me to test the square. But the compasses-they belong to the Craft, since it is by the compasses that I do test the square which Craftsmen use!”

“Square and compasses!” mused Hiram. “All that glorious building, the most of which is yet to be, would never be, without the square and the compasses!”

“And neither square nor compasses would be possible without the wonder of the mathematics which God hath set in the midst of the compasses for the use and guidance of us, His Craftsmen,” answered the King’s Master Workman, reverently.

“Aye, aye, so mote it always be!” answered Hiram, bending his head.

I Kidd You Not

Karen-Kidd-300x216“I Kid You Not” was the trademark of Jack Paar and the title of a book he wrote. There is much in the style of presenting one’s self in Karen Kidd that reminds me of Jack Paar, an infinite appreciation for what is worthy and noble in life with the emotion and the chutzpah to let the rest of us know what we are missing.

So it was with great joy that I reached into my mailbox to find the latest issue of Heredom, the Scottish Rite Research Society’s annual publication and within those pages see an article by Karen Kidd that immediately caught my eye – Hannah Mather Crocker: Patriot, Founding Mother, Freemason.

Hannah Mather Crocker is one of the most interesting historical figures of her day. And being a woman Brother Crocker is often overlooked. Perhaps she also has not come to the attention of many historians because she wasn’t an in your face firebrand, rather a mild mannered woman with a top notch education and a pleasing manner.

Hannah’s father was one of a long line of well known and prominent Puritan Preachers. Her mother was sister to Massachusetts colonial Governor Thomas Hutchinson. It wasn’t until her late twenties that she married to the Reverend Joseph Crocker. Before that marriage she had accomplished much.

At age twenty two she was carrying secret revolutionary dispatches to Joseph Warren, not only a Freemason and Grand Master but also a leading figure in the revolution. Perhaps that is why there was no hue and cry when she became a Freemason. Clearly some kind of dispensation was granted to her to form, with other ladies of her class, a Female only Masonic Lodge, St. Ann’s, shortly before outbreak of hostilities with the British. Crocker served for many years as Worshipful Master and Kidd tells us that she later wrote:

“I had the honour some years ago to preside as Mistress of a similar institution, consisting of females only; we held a regular Lodge, founded on the original principles of true ancient Masonry, so far as was consistent for the female character. We recognized the BROTHERHOOD as preeminent, as may be seen from several addresses and songs printed in the Centienel, and other papers.”

“One or two of them (male Masons) gave umbrage to a few would-be-thought Masons; but by the most respectable part of them we were treated like SISTERS. The prime inducement for forming the lodge was a desire for cultivating the mind in the most useful branches of science and cherishing a love of literature; for at that period, female education was at a very low ebb. If women could even read and badly write their name it was thought enough for them who by some were esteemed only ‘mere domestick animals.’”

“But the aspiring female mind could no longer bear a cramp to genius. They rose to thought, and clearly saw they were given by the wise author of nature, as not only help-meets. But associates and friends, not slaves to man. I have reason to think this institution gave the first rise to female education in this town, and our sex a relish for improving the mind…Our sole aim was friendship, and improving the mind; that by Strength and Wisdom, we might beautifully adorn the female character, and shew to the Brethren that we had obtained the grand secret, of securing the affections of our best friends by performing every domestick duty with ease and harmony. We had our tokens, signs and word; and within due Square we marked our lives by the parallel line of integrity.”

As we can see, Crocker was not just interested in Freemasonry nor did she use it to throw her attainment in the face of her male counterparts. She was a tireless worker for freedom from the British, for female education and for women’s rights.

But isn’t the reader about this time asking who made Crocker and the ladies of St. Ann’s Lodge Freemasons and who allowed them to exist along side of traditional male-craft Masonry without rancor or discrimination?

Kidd thinks it none other than the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Dr. Joseph Warren.  She cites Crocker’s dedication of her literary work titled Series.

“To the protection and patronage of the M.W. Past Grand Master, the Past Grand Chaplain, and the present Officers and Members of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, this little work is now humbly dedicated, by the author, with the most ardent wish of benevolence, that every worthy member may square his conduct by the line of integrity.”

Clearly Crocker knew these people and travelled in their circle.

In 1780 Hannah Mather married another Freemason the Rev. Joseph Crocker of Taunton.  In the 17 years of marriage before Joseph passed away they had ten children. Clearly he also knew of her Masonic exploits. And although her surmised benefactor, Dr. Joseph Warren, was long gone she still continued to travel in Masonic circles and to write about those experiences. Sometimes, however, she wrote under the pseudonyms of “A Lady of Boston” and “P Americana.” But to her list of credits we can also add the distinction of author.

While to all accounts Crocker was a mild mannered, genteel lady of exquisite manners, still she must have been some kind of woman for Kidd tells us about the “North Square Creed” that apparently husbands of St Ann’s members were asked to sign and which goes something like this:

“I believe woman is the ostensible source of man’s true happiness. I believe it was not good for man to be alone, and God in infinite mercy provided him a help meet. I believe a prudent wife is the greatest blessing man can attain in this world. I believe every man that has a prudent wife ought to harkent to the voice of Sarah his wife. I firmly believe it is proper and best for every man to believe in every thing as his prudent wife wishes him to believe. Therefor I do believe in every thing my good wife and the other ladies of this happy circle wish me to unite in believing.

In token of our approbation we here affix our names…

In the written records that Crocker left behind she left us only the initials of the men who signed the North Square Creed. One of those initials was P.R. Can anybody say Paul Revere? – Kidd brings to our attention.  And even more telling she points out that the Mathers had many friends who were members of St. Andrews Lodge. Who were two of the biggest names who were members of St. Andrew’s? Why Dr. Joseph Warren and Paul Revere of course. So at what Lodge were Hannah Mather and her ladies friends raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason? You can answer that one.

Remember that Hannah Mather carried secret dispatches for the Colonial insurgents for which she could have been shot as a spy. The Southern California Research Lodge ties this altogether for us.

The building had been purchased by the St. Andrews Lodge in 1764. There was a square and compass over the front door and a copper Dragon that had turned green through the weather. It was a community center. Downstairs was the Tavern. Upstairs was the St. Andrews Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (Ancients). It was the largest place for meetings in the north east end of Boston. Historians have called it “headquarters of the American Revolution.”

Here the Boston Committee of Correspondence was formed after a few initial meetings at Brother Joseph Warren’s house a few doors away. Here the Sons of Liberty held secret sessions. They wore a jewel around their necks and were known to have a separate language for recognition. The jewel had a picture of the Liberty Tree on it.


In her waning years Crocker formed the School of Industry in 1813 for poor girls of the northern district of Boston, thereby once again reaffirming her commitment to women’s education as she had done at St. Ann’s Lodge.

Hannah Mather Crocker faded away in oblivion and so did St. Ann’s Lodge. Future Feminists and malecraft Masons were to ignore her contributions as a Patriot, as an early leader of women’s education and women’s rights and as a Freemason. Kidd laments the fact that that history has so ignored such a great woman. But to her credit, Kidd, has taken up the task of not letting this wonderful woman be forgotten.

Come ladies rare                         May we have strength

Within due square,                        To join at length

Let each renew her vow,                The heavenly lodge above.

No timid maid                             Brothers to meet

Need be afraid                               Tho’ none here greet

Hew sacred knee to bow                 Them join in mutual love.


Sure Sheba’s queen                     The secret plan

The first was seen                       Held here by man

To gain this wondrous art.             So far beyond our reach

She made the vow                      Shall to each fair

That we do now                          Within due square

And gained the wise king’s heart.   Their love and duty teach.


Let none disclose                         In sacred love

To sacred foes                            We’ll join above

Our token works or signs.             With widow, son and mother.

May beauty grace                               With one accord

Each lovly face                           We’ll join the word

And wisdom guide our minds         To hail each sacred brother.


         Hannah Mather Crocker

Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

My Masonic New Year’s Resolution

Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t.

Do you believe in Angels? I do.

Guess you know where to classify me now.

Before I went to bed on New Year’s eve I read a piece from a friend and Brother who said that he was going to spend his New Year’s day in contemplation of what he had done in 2011 and what he had failed to do and how he could make 2012 Masonically better. Did he visit and help Brothers in need often enough? Did he listen and think about those Brothers who had asked his advice and those that had whispered in his ear? Did he walk the extra mile, did he let anyone down?

He asks himself:

Did I hold true to my values all year-long? Did I lose a friend through lack of communication to too much of it? Did I do all that was required of me in time of need? Did I make new friends? Did I create any enemies? Did I leave something undone that I could have finished, and many more questions that I ask of myself.

These are some of the things that he was going to cogitate on.

On New Year’s morning I read a piece from Canadian Brother Wayne Anderson’s Masonic Newsletter – Sunday Masonic Paper No. 611 – where Brother Doug Gray pondered:

As we approach the count down toward the end of 2011; and the beginning of a New Year, it is a time many use for some reflection!  I just wanted to remind everyone that although Masonry is well known as a “Progressive Science”; it should also be remembered as a “Reflective Science.”

The true purpose and value in Masonry is to gain knowledge of ones self; and his own relationship with God.

We must use our Lodge time as a place to think, to consider our fellow-man, to become “Human” and to gain “Wisdom”.

Looking inward is the place to begin, evaluate shortcomings with respect to our obligation, our charges and our commitment to the working tools or each degree.

Brotherhood is our vision in Masonry. How well do you know your Lodge and District Brothers?

Buddha taught: Man is so entangled in the “Tragedy of Life”, they are bound together out of sympathy in a “Brotherhood of pity…” Zoroaster taught: That Men are Brethren because warriors in battle between “Light and Darkness” a “Brotherhood of Battle…” Confucius: Brothers because of “common obligations”, a “Brotherhood of Service.”

In my practice of religion I am quite familiar with “centering prayer” which is much like meditation. You take a symbol, a phrase, an idea or a short scripture reading and you meditate on it for hours, making sure you clear your mind of all else. You contemplate the thought you have chosen, repeating it over and over and listening for an answer. If your mind wanders onto something else you force it back often by repeating out loud your chosen thought. Over and over, hour after hour until you have an answer. Where the answer comes from I am not going to get into. That is up to your own personal belief system.

So not believing in coincidences and getting pushed by my Angel I decide to do some Masonic centering prayer/meditation on the Masonic symbol of the Point Within A Circle.

I cleared my mind of everything but the Point Within A Circle and began. Soon I found myself in a closed maze where I went around and around. At one end I bumped into St. John the Baptist at another end the Holy Scriptures and at a third point St. John the Evangelist. But what was the message, what were they trying to tell me? Over and over I pondered and meditated.

After some time it was clear to me that I was being strongly urged to make a Masonic New Year’s Resolution – a commitment to accomplish something in the coming year.. But further meditation yielded no clue as to what that Masonic New Year’s Resolution should be.  This was not going to be as easy as I thought.

Maybe this is where free will comes in. It’s all up to me. But I am not sure what I should choose.  Perhaps you have some suggestions.

These Were Brethren – Carl Claudy Yarns

These-Were-BrethrenWhen the gathering of the family, that is a joy, but goes on and on during the holiday season, and exhaustion sets in for all the partying, it is nice to get away and curl up in a cozy corner all by one’s self to relax. At such times a good book will be just the elixir that one needs.

In just such a getaway moment I reached for an old book not touched for years on end from my bookcase.  And what to my surprise should appear in my hands but Carl Claudy’s These Were Brethren, a collection of 24 Masonic short stories. Claudy is the master of the short story and not a bad playwright to boot. He is often best remembered for his Old Tiler Talks.

The very first story, The Gentle Masonic Way, had me in a state of nostalgic Masonic bliss. Here I met once again Worshipful Master Amos Andrews, Secretary Jeffries, Billy Morton, Dr. Witherspoon, Sneed and all the regulars from Doric Lodge.

My first encounter with Doric Lodge and all its characters was when I performed with a group of Masonic players who put on the Carl Claudy play A Rose Upon The Altar.  It has been ten years since I played the part of Squire Bentley in a tear jerking performance.

Now here was Amos Andrews once again up to his eyeballs in what the British would call a “sticky wicket.” It seems that his son has come of age and petitioned Doric Lodge for membership. Repeated balloting a year apart has brought forth a black ball each time. The suspected culprit is an old time member of the Lodge who owns an expensive herd of cattle. The story goes that young Andrews shot his prize bull, worth a great deal of money, as it was mauling a vagrant.  Now it is payback time.

Worshipful Andrews will not resort to subterfuge to sneak his son through the balloting process.  But after the ranch owner fires his ranch foreman and all the workers he comes down with an illness that leaves him bedridden.  Meanwhile a crippling winter blizzard hits the area and this ranch owner cannot feed and care for his cattle.

As the story comes to an end this bitter rancher out for revenge comes to Lodge a week later to once again participate in the balloting on young Andrews. But this time he has a change of heart and drops a white ball as he reveals that Worshipful Andrews spent three whole days and nights in his barn feeding and caring for his cows.

Claudy’s references to farming and cows are dated with analogies not easy to visualize in this day of mechanization and The Information Age. But the stories are timeless just as the references to sheep and sheep herding in the Bible provide analogies to timeless parables.

There are 23 more stories to tickle your fancy in this book including an outstanding mystery. So once in awhile reach into your bookcase and reacquaint yourself once again with a work of inspiration you have not visited in years, thereby renewing a right spirit within yourself.

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

Will A Collapsing World Bring Down Lodges With It?

Over the last decade here is what local Masonic Lodges should have been doing.

They should have increased their dues sufficiently to not only pay for the running of their Lodges but also have salted away some money in the bank account and investments. Instead of doing fund raisers they should have looked for additional income by renting out their Masonic Hall or any collateral property attached to the Hall owned by the Lodge.

They should have been seeking endowments from their members and instead of authorizing the Treasurer to take the extra income down to the bank and buying a CD, the Lodge should have hired a certified financial planner.

In urban and suburban situations Lodges in one area should have tried to operate all from one building. If you travel to England you can find as many as 20 Lodges meeting in one building, and Brothers paying $20 or more each meeting for a meal and the festive board. In our very mobile modern society where there was once a Lodge in every town, today it would be much more economical to have just one Hall per Masonic District.

These ideas have certainly been posted on this site before. So why repeat them now?

With Europe collapsing before our eyes; with the United States economy faltering, unemployment above 9% with no signs of abating, GDP growth in the neighborhood of an anemic 1%, the stock market tanking, one has to wonder about the financial stability of Masonic Lodges.

Those that have refused to run their Lodges like a business and have insisted on doing Masonry on the cheap may not be able to survive if the country’s economy continues to worsen. Especially vulnerable are rural Lodges and Lodges who cannot consolidate buildings. Those Lodges with a building all their own with no tenants, low dues and no money in the bank account or in investments probably will not survive.

We could be looking at the largest amount of Lodges disbanding and turning in their charters in the history of this nation.  If we are it will be because many Lodges refused to take the necessary steps to put themselves on a sound financial footing when they had the opportunity. Any good businessman will tell you that you salt away some money in good times for a rainy day fund to tide you over in bad times. Lodges that failed to look ahead, failed to do any long term planning and operated by just squeaking by will suffer the consequences and pay the ultimate price.

time for change

A Lodge is Like a Church

time for change

Time for change dosen’t tell you how to change.

The headline is just a grabber, but after seeing first hand how a church operates, it became very clear that the way a Masonic lodge is designed to operate is exactly how contemporary churches are operated – very likely the former emulating the latter.

Now this may not come as a surprise to those reading who are already active in their own church.  By active I mean sitting on church committees, engaged in the church council, or actively making decisions in weekly/monthly/yearly operations.  But for most pew sitters or side-liners a lot goes on behind the scenes.

Why is this relevant to Masonry you may be wondering?  From my observations, the health and well being of the church is not measured by the clergy or the messages that they preach (though they do play a large contributory role).  The vitality of the church comes in the activity of the membership and the committees that they participate in especially in their role of their evangelism which in turn contributes to the growth and vitality of the church.

In other words, the Sunday service is just one component of the function of the church, and the growth and prosperity comes in the 6 days of work before that worship service.

The thing to remember here is that the strength comes in the committees and the activities that they plan and implement.  Before we look at the committees we need to take a look at smaller group lead by the individual committee heads that, together, steer the church through a church council, which goes by a variety of names across the denominations.

As issues arise the church council votes on behalf of their fellow members and when needed bring major issues to the church body to vote upon.

christian emblems, denominations, religious symbols

Just a few of the denominational emblems used to visually denote the different brands of protestant Christianity.

All of this happens under, generally speaking, a larger church body – a Bishop or governing council of churches.  This larger body sets general policy and administers the landmarks of what makes that denomination unique.  By and large, most Christian denominations are very similar with the differences being in their culture rather than their doctrine.  So, from a church perspective, the differences come in their activity.  It’s because of this head office type of leadership model that I would suggest so many churches take on a go-it-alone path and open up as their own organization or forming loose associations of churches which is an entirely different subject to look at.

Think of these parent organizations in the same capacity that the Roman Catholic Church operates under, except where the Pope is the final authority; these denominations have councils and conventions that steer the overall church policy.

Back down stream, the church while in line with the denomination, operates in its community taking on the flavor and tone of the community in which is exists.  Most of its activity takes place in light of the people who comprise it.  In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find many members in a local church who could really tell you what the larger body is doing in any given month and even fewer who give the body much consideration.  This is true of most Masonic lodges too and probably the way it should be.  The congregation should be concerned with its own day to day operation because the parent body is seldom a factor other than when managing the underpinnings of the denominational church brand.  Even when it comes to liturgical practice, most follow a pattern across most denominations of a liturgical year.  For most, this is a transparent process but if you pay close attention you can follow over the course of a year.

Let’s look at how this works locally; churches hire clergy and staff to run their program, while the congregation goes about the activity of being Christians.  Presumably, the hired and placed clergy is selected by the area Bishop to be a good fit with the local congregation and a pastoral placement can last from many, many years to just a few depending on the needs of the congregation.  That clergy, while function as the religious and spiritual shepherd, are guided by the church council.  In fact, their work is shaped by the church liturgical cycle, church planningcongregation themselves based on their interactions and needs within the bounds of biblical principal and denomination methodology.  So, reciprocally, the pastors lead in the direction the congregation wants to go within the framework of the denomination which is essentially the role of the lodge worshipful master during his term in the east.

At times, the church sermons vary, but by and large the cycle of worship follows a liturgical calendar teaching the message of the church.  Sermons are developed based on the seasonal message, all of which takes place in the context of the biblical teachings.

In essence, you could say that the weekly service, while inspiring, serves to facilitate the tradition of the church which in turn inspires the congregation to grow with activity between services.

It really is an amazing process to watch when it happens.

Having come a long way barely touching on the idea of a lodge being like a church, but if you’ve been reading closely, you can already see the connections.  What I’ve learned is that the vitality of the church isn’t so much about the leadership as they will simply do what the membership asks of them.  Rather, the vitality comes from the activity of the members, the committee members who plan, produce, and grow the church.

One thing that really stood out to me in the Masonic parallel is that the monthly lodge meeting, while seen as the most important meeting in the life of the lodge, is really no more than a council meeting with reports from the various committees.  In the church example, the meeting while open to all members of the church, is generally only attended by the heads of the various committees to, of course, get the business of running the church (insert lodge here) done.

This is not to say that the Church council debates the major issues such as paying the phone bill or the laundry costs of linen table cloths.  To the contrary, like any responsible operation, the church hires a business manager from outside of the membership (when able of course) to manage the day to day business activity.  Doing this, I can see, dissolves the intimacy of relationship that can develop between treasurer and secretary and divests the feeling of ownership of the lodge from a few long in office fiefdoms, to a single professional with oversight from a finance committee and the clergy leadership.

On the other side of the coin is the weekly service which, I see, takes on the aspect of the degree meeting.

In the lodge, it seems that from the body of the membership somewhere along the line the activity of the being a Mason has been eclipsed by the business of being a Mason, and the ceremony of making new masons, the weekly service if you will, has become more a foot note in attendance when compared to the monthly business meeting.  After all, lodges publicize their monthly stated as the important meeting to attend, rather than the actual weekly service of making Masons.

This point could be debated for hours on the necessity of meeting more and the value (or waste of time) that such activity fosters.  I’ll save that debate for the comments or another post, but as with any activity, value to worth can be measured in the balance of activity.  Fred Milliken made the point in a post a few months back, At the Crossroads of the Many Paths of Freemasonry, that masonry is not all things to all people, especially when it comes to personal goals and aspirations.  In his piece, he says explicitly to go out and find what you’re looking for outside of the lodge, which is good advice for both lodge and church.  But, as the saying goes, you can be the change you seek to see a process that can be worked through the activity you seek in your congregation or lodge.  Again, the topic for another discussion.

zeitgeist, member of society, culturally currentEven with their own special monthly meeting segment, reports of special committees, the committees should be the driving force behind the lodge (as with the church) outside of the weekly and monthly get ceremonial gatherings.

And, this is the case in many lodges, committees are already the beating heart of activity and only as restricted as the vision that they take on.  When viewed in light of the evangelical aspect of the church, committees can develop programs that could appeal to like minded community members, and made open to friends and associates as a means of bolstering presence:  movie nights, day trips, education seminars, art shows, and so on.  Really, the list of activities that can be planned are only as limited as the vision of the committee behind them.

So, this is a long way to say what you probably already know – committees are the force behind the congregation and the lodge.  What I’ll add is that prior to seeing it action in a church, with its members and activity, I didn’t see it in the lodge.  The champions of the church are those members who have the vision of what the church should represent and not those concerned with preserving what it was.  Does it ruffle feathers, absolutely!  Does it introduce new community members to the congregation, absolutely.  Not having an active group of committees means a stagnant church and hoping on people to walk in off the street to check out the congregation which works, bit not nearly enough to sustain growth.  Will they stay if it’s a drab congregation with or little activity that appeals to them?  Even if the service is dynamic and the facility beautiful, if an engaging program of activity is missing, people will not stay and look for other venues to engage themselves in. Greatest prosperity comes in more activity, activity where one to one interactions are possible and relationship can be made which works, but not nearly enough to sustain growth.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Managing a Nonprofit Organization

Recently I was adding up the number of Board of Directors I have served on over the years for nonprofit organizations. This includes computer societies, fraternal organizations, homeowner associations, even Little League. The number was close to 40 where I have served in some capacity or other, everything from president, to vice president, secretary, division director, finance chairman, publicity and public relations, newsletter editor, webmaster, even historian (not to mention the many Masonic positions I have held). In other words, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about nonprofit organizations over the years. One of the first things I learned early on is that unless you manage the nonprofit group, it will manage you.

Running a nonprofit group is not exactly rocket science and is actually pretty simple, but surprisingly few people grasp the basics and end up bungling the organization thereby creating upheaval for its constituents. If you are truly interested in properly managing a nonprofit group, consider these ten principles that have served me well over the years:

Know the rules

Get a copy of the governing docs, read them, and keep them with you. Do not try to hide them. In fact, make them available to your constituents either in paper form or as a download on the computer (such as a PDF file). Got a briefcase dedicated to your group? Keep a copy of the docs in it and, if an electronic version is available, place an icon on your desktop to quickly access it.

Get to know your constituents

How can you expect to adequately serve them if you do not know what their interests are or the group’s priorities as they perceive them? They won’t always be correct, but understand their perceptions and deal with them accordingly. You might want to circulate a survey to get their view on certain subjects, and to solicit their support.


Not only with the other members of the board, but with your constituency as well. Failure to do so only raises suspicions about what you are doing. Newsletters, e-mail blasts, and web pages are invaluable in this regard, particularly the latter where you can post news, governing docs, contact information, meeting minutes, audit reports, correspondence, etc. Simple communications will clear up a lot of the problems you will face as an officer on the board.


Keep good records, regardless if government regulations require it or not. Whether you are maintaining records with pencil and paper or by computer, it is important that accurate records be maintained, particularly about the group’s membership, logs of activities, attendance, finances, minutes, etc. It is not really that complicated to perform; you just need someone who pays attention to detail. Don’t have the manpower to do it yourself? Then hire someone, such as a management company, who can competently keep track of things.


People like to know where they are headed. If you are in charge of the group, articulate your objectives and prepare a plan to get you there. Also, do not try to micromanage everything. Nonprofit groups are primarily volunteer organizations and the last thing they want is Attila the Hun breathing down their necks. Instead, manage from the bottom-up. Delegate responsibility, empower people, and follow-up. Make sure your people know their responsibilities and are properly trained. Other than that, get out of their way and let them get on with their work.

Add value to your service

People like to think they are getting their money’s worth for paying their dues. In planning your organization’s activities, be creative and imaginative, not stale and repetitive. In other words, beware of falling into a rut. Your biggest obstacle will typically be apathy. If your group’s mission is to do nothing more than meet periodically, make it fun and interesting, make it so people want to come and participate. Try new subjects, new venues, new menus, etc. Even if you are on a tight budget, try to make things professional and first class. Change with the times and never be afraid of failure. You won’t always bat 1.000 but you will certainly hit a few out of the park and score a lot of runs.

Keep an eye on finances

As officers of the Board, you have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the group’s finances and report on their status. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a well thought-out and itemized budget. Operating without one is simply irresponsible. And when you have a budget, manage according to it; if you don’t have the money allocated, don’t spend it. Obviously, you should also have routine finance reports produced (at least on a monthly basis) showing an opening balance, income, expenses, and a closing balance. Most PC based financial packages can easily do this for you. At the end of the year, perform a review of your finances by an independent party, either a compilation as performed by a CPA or a review by an internal committee. Post the results so the constituency can be assured their money has been properly handled.

Run an effective meeting

Nobody wants to attend an inconsequential meeting. Whether it is a weekly/monthly board meeting or an annual meeting, run it professionally. Print up an agenda in advance and stick to it. Start and end on time and maintain order. Got a gavel? Do not hesitate to use it judiciously. Maintain civility and decorum. Allow people to have their say but know when issues are getting out of hand or sidetracked. And do yourself a favor, get a copy of “Robert’s Rules” and study it.

Beware of politics

Like it or not, man is a political animal. Politics in a nonprofit group can get uglier than in the corporate world. Some people go on a power trip even in the most trivial of organizations. Try not to lose sight of the fact that this is a volunteer organization and what the mission of the group is. Keep an eye on rumors and confront backstabbers, there is no room for such shenanigans in a nonprofit group. If you are the president, try to maintain an “open door” policy to communicate with your constituents. It is when you close the door that trouble starts to brew. Also, ask yourself the following, “Who serves who?” Does the board serve its constituents, or do the constituents serve the board? If your answer is the latter, then dissent will naturally follow.

Maintain control over your vendors

Try to keep a good relationship with those companies and people who either work for or come in contact with your group, particularly lawyers. Always remember who works for whom. I have seen instances where attorneys have taken over nonprofit groups (at a substantial cost I might add). The role of the lawyer is to only offer advice; he or she doesn’t make the decision, you do (the client). One last note on vendors, make sure you maintain a file of all contracts and correspondence with them. Believe me, you’re going to need it when it comes time to sever relations with them. Keep a paper trail.

Bottom-line: run your nonprofit group like a business. Come to think of it, it is a business, at least in the eyes of the State who recognizes you as a legal entity (one that can be penalized and sued). There are those who will naively resist this notion, but like it or not, a nonprofit group is a business. Consider this, what happens when the money runs out?

I mentioned earlier that you might want to hire a management company to perform the administrative detail of your group. To me, this is an admission that the Board is either too lazy or incompetent to perform their duties (or they have more money than they know what to do with). Just remember, it’s not rocket science.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

conspiracy theory, antifreemasonry, hate

How rampant is anti-Masonry today?

anti-masonryA brother forwarded this to me. What you have below is a teaser video to a longer telecast that is appearing on various broadcasting outlets including Direct TV, where it appeared on the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) network, channel 378.

The video is by Dr. Ron Carlson, posted in June of 2008; essentially make the argument that a Christian cannot be a Mason using biblical citation for his particular point of view.

This isn’t unique, rather just one of a long list of religious leaders using the pulpit to rail against the lodge as a part of their own personal ministry. Other such luminaries include Jack Chick Ministries, Ephesians 5:11, Order of former Freemasons, and many many more.

In fact, there are so many more, if you know of one, drop their name in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

One thing I can say is that Carlson has man of his facts mixed up, but he washes them with his particular logic.  Listen for the story about the church he convinced to jack hammer off the corner stone.  Its sad, really, like listening to echoes of forgotten history.

Without getting to deep into the philosophical, spiritual maybe, question (we’ve done that before in Can a Christian be a Freemason?) if a man can or cannot not be a Freemason AND a Christian, the better question to answer I’ve been leaning toward is who is it that can cast judgment or others – people or groups to evaluate such things.

The crux of Carlson’s argument is the incompatibility of Christian faith and being a Mason which, essentially, puts the syncretic religious view of masonry over the authority of Jesus. That the teachings of one subvert the teachings of the others?

What do you think? Are the two compatible? Are they compatible when you look at it from Carlson’s, and those like his, point of view?

More on Anti-Masonry.

100 years and going strong

A short article in the Almonte/Clareton Place EMC, a local news service out of Ontario Canada published this story today:

Masonic Temple in Carleton Place turns 100 years, St. John’s Lodge No. 63 hosts Friend to Friend Night.

Besides wanting to echo the congratulatory comments, its nice to see the good in the press and the positive impact being made by a local lodge.

The celebration is in honor of rebuilding of their lodge hall in 1910, following the greatest Carleton Place fire of living memory which destroyed 25 buildings between Bridge Street and Judson Street, including the Masonic Hall.

In the year following a new cornerstone was laid and the building erected to stand in the community to this day. You can see from a photo of its edifice, the workmanship put into the building.