Practive vs. Rehearsal

masonicritual5A paper by Bro. Keith Becker

Practice versus Rehearsal

There is much confusion at times over the concept of practicing and rehearsing and I hope in this article to bring to light the truth behind each words meaning, how they are separate and different, and how the apply to each other. Simply put we should practice to gain the best proficiency in the part we are responsible for to ensure flawless execution in the rehearsal; which will then make for an even more flawless performance. A lot of the time is spent practicing at the rehearsal and this is wrong as it does not allow the director to focus on what he needs to in the rehearsal.

Practice, by definition, is the repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. It is also a time spent to perfect the action you desire to learn, as well as, time spent learning by oneself. I would like to direct all the masons reading this to the word proficiency in the definition. After much practice we will perfect our parts and be ready to rehearse them with the group.

Rehearsal, by definition, is the practice or trial performance of a play, concert or other work for later public performance. Let’s point out that this is not practicing ones part, but combining everyone’s efforts in practicing into one larger practice of what should be the final product. A rehearsal should be performed with no or very little error or mistake, what you rehearse should be what you will perform on the night of the occasion. The director uses this time to put all the individual parts together in harmony and allow time to focus on the items that practice will not allow, like floor work or expression.

We must do our part to make diligent practice in the memorization of our parts individually, however in a masonic lodge we have faithful friends and worthy brothers to learn from and lean on in the assistance of learning the part. It should be your purpose to learn your ritual and seek out those Brothers either appointed to help or that may have done the part you are learning to help in your practice. By doing this we allow our rehearsal time to give better attention to floor work, delivery, transition points and other items that are not able to be practice.

Posted in Education | Comments Off on Practive vs. Rehearsal

Albert Pike and the 3 World Wars

Albert_PikeAlbert Pike is probably one of the most colorful Masonic  figures of the 19th Century and one of the most controversial. From his first use of Lucifer the Light Bearer in “Morals and Dogmas” to being falsely accused of forming the KKK after the American Civil War, he has led the conspiracy theorists to the brink of euphoria.

Born in Boston in 1809 and later moved to Arkansas where he joined the U.S. Army. He served as Captain and fought in the Mexican-American War.

Politically active, he voted against secession and wanted to take a more compromising view. However, when the first shots were fired, he joined the Confederate States Army and quickly became a Brigadier General. At the conclusion of the American Civil War, he was imprisoned and later released when Andrew Johnson became President. Johnson was also a Freemason.

During his lifetime, he was an avid Mason and prolific writer. Pike became the Grand Sovereign Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction in 1869 and served until the time of his death. He is credited for spreading Scottish Rite Masonry across North America.

Albert Pike died in Washington D.C. in 1891. Pike is the only Confederate to have a statue in the capital to this day.

One of the most controversial theories about Albert Pike surrounds a letter he supposedly wrote to Giuseppe Mazzini, the Italian Revolutionary, on August 15, 1871. The letter was held in the British Museum Library according to William Guy Carr, a former British Intelligence Agent. Carr wrote a book in 1925 based on another book by Cardinal Caro y Rodriguez of Santiago, Chile, entitled “The Mystery of Freemasonry Unveiled”, also written in 1925.

Caro falsely quotes the Pike letter in his book and later Carr claims that he never actually saw the letter and got the information from Caro. To date, no conclusive proof exists to show that this letter was ever written. Nevertheless, the letter is widely quoted and the topic of much discussion.

According to Carr and Caro, the letter was a description of a vision had by Pike. Following are extracts of the letter taken from the Caro book, showing how Three World Wars have been planned for many generations. This was supposedly written in 1871.

“The First World War must be brought about in order to permit the Illuminati to overthrow the power of the Czars in Russia and of making that country a fortress of atheistic Communism. The divergences caused by the “agentur” (agents) of the Illuminati between the British and Germanic Empires will be used to foment this war. At the end of the war, Communism will be built and used in order to destroy the other governments and in order to weaken the religions.”

Students of history will recognize that the political alliances of England on one side and Germany on the other, forged between 1871 and 1898 by Otto von Bismarck, were instrumental in bringing about the First World War.

“The Second World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences between the Fascists and the political Zionists. This war must be brought about so that Nazism is destroyed and that the political Zionism be strong enough to institute a sovereign state of Israel in Palestine. During the Second World War, International Communism must become strong enough in order to balance Christendom, which would be then restrained and held in check until the time when we would need it for the final social cataclysm.”

After this Second World War, Communism was made strong enough to begin taking over weaker governments. In 1945, at the Potsdam Conference between Truman, Churchill, and Stalin, a large portion of Europe was simply handed over to Russia, and on the other side of the world, the aftermath of the war with Japan helped to sweep the tide of Communism into China.

“The Third World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the “agentur” of the “Illuminati” between the political Zionists and the leaders of Islamic World. The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam (the Moslem Arabic World) and political Zionism (the State of Israel) mutually destroy each other. Meanwhile the other nations, once more divided on this issue will be constrained to fight to the point of complete physical, moral, spiritual and economical exhaustion…We shall unleash the Nihilists and the atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to the nations the effect of absolute atheism, origin of savagery and of the most bloody turmoil. Then everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the world minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate those destroyers of civilization, and the multitude, disillusioned with Christianity, whose deistic spirits will from that moment be without compass or direction, anxious for an ideal, but without knowing where to render its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer, brought finally out in the public view. This manifestation will result from the general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction of Christianity and atheism, both conquered and exterminated at the same time.”

There are many inconsistencies in the description of this letter. The use of the word Illuminati is highly suspect. The Illuminati or Bavarian Illuminati as it is also known, was the brainchild of Adam Weishaupt , himself a Freemason. It was formed in 1776 taking many of its precepts from Freemasonry.

At its zenith, the organization had as many as 2,500 members but by 1790 it had conflicts with the Prussian Rosicrucians. The Illuminati created a lodge system much like the Masons. By 1800, the Illuminati was banned by many European countries and eventually closed its doors during the Anti-Masonic sentiment of the 1820’s and 1830’s. So in 1871 when the Pike letter was purported to appear, he had to know that the Illuminati did not exist. A note to the reader: there are many “Illuminati” type organizations in existence today, however, there is no direct link to the original organization.

Another inconsistency is the use of the words “Zionism” and Nazism”. The use of the word Zionism did not take place until after Pike’s death and Nazism was not used until the 1920’s. Also, Muslims were more often referred to as Mohammedans and Islam was not in the common vernacular.

Even though it is clear that Albert Pike never authored this letter, there is a questions that historians must ask. How could both Carr and Caro see into the future? In 1925, there was no indication that the State of Israel would be formed after WWII or that there would even be a WWII. How did they know that Communism would be a major player when it was only existent in agrarian areas in 1925? How did they know in 1925 that Nazism would later come to power in Germany? And finally, how did they know that Islam would rise to its current levels? This is just more fodder for the conspiracy theorists and YouTube enthusiasts.

Posted in Education, History | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Albert Pike and the 3 World Wars

M:. E:. Kenneth J. Fischer Outdoor Degree Festival

newswire_logoA Special Thanks to E:. Gill Raoul Calderon and the Second Capitular District for this great event!

The fifth Annual M:.E:. Kenneth J. Fischer, Outdoor Festival Degrees At Pouch Camp was a rip roaring success. Not only the Grand Line in our Blue Lodge were present but our Grand Line in the Holy Royal Arch were present to make this day so special!

I would like to thank and acknowledge Our Deputy Grand Master R:.W:. Jeffrey Williamson
Deputy Grand Marshall R:.W:. James R. Kintzel
Junior Grand Deacon R:.W:. Christopher Hague
I also would like to thank Our Most Excellent Grand High Priest Cyril A. Francis
R:.E:. Raymond Roche Grand King
R:.E:. Bruce Testut Grand Scribe
M:.E:. Piers A. Vaughan Grand Treasurer
R:.E:. Allan Bryant Grand Captain Of The Host
R:.E:. Paul Huck Grand Principal Sojourner
R:.E:. Michael Quigley Grand Master of the Second Veil
R:.E:. Wayne Northrup Grand Sentinel

The second Capitular District did a remarkable job thank you!
E:. Gil A. Schweiger thank you for letting us use your backyard at Pouch Camp.
Your officers and members of Tyrian Chapter #219 did an extraordinary job.
I also like to thank my officers and members of Nassau Chapter #109
for also doing an extraordinary job! You continue to amaze me with your dedication and love for our Chapter..

In His Name
E:. Gill Raoul Calderon



Posted in Education | Comments Off on M:. E:. Kenneth J. Fischer Outdoor Degree Festival

Masonic Secrets Revealed

552492_438549696167719_946580731_nSome believe that with  the advent of the internet, all the secrets of Freemasonry have been revealed. They forget that books like Morgan’s Expose and Duncan’s Ritual revealed these secrets long ago. Even the History Channel had a Masonic expose where they showed a degree. Unfortunately, they got the degrees mixed up.

Neo-Masons believe that the philosophy and symbols should remain secret. The beehive, broken column, weeping widow, 47th problem of Euclid, working tools, point within the circle, columns, 3-5-7, and much more should be kept private. And yet, modern day authors like Anthony Mongelli, John Nagy, Piers Vaughan, and Arturo de Hoyos write about these topics every day. All of these Brothers are on Facebook and you can find their publications on Amazon or Lulu.

Traditionally, the signs of recognition have been kept secret but even these are available online or in Duncan’s.

So what exactly is the “secret” of Freemasonry? Yes, there is a great secret of Freemasonry and even though it will be revealed to you in this post and it is available all over the internet, you will not recognize it, nor will you understand it. What can be so profound, so intense, and so symbolic that you can read about it and still not understand it?

Here is the only great secret of Masonry – the experience, the emotion and the feelings that you have when you walk the path of so many millions who have gone before you. You can read about it in books and on the internet but until you have entered the temple of your soul you cannot understand it. The Masonic Degrees set you on a new path that will have a positive effect on you for the rest of your life. There is nothing that can describe this. There is nothing that can be put down on paper that will make you understand, you have to experience it first hand.

If you are not a Mason yet then I suggest that you seek out a Lodge in your area. Meet the Brothers in that Lodge and if you feel comfortable, then I invite you to have an experience of a lifetime. An experience that I cannot explain but I guarantee will change your life forever. Best of luck to you.

The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race

George Washington


Posted in Current, Education, Symbolism | Comments Off on Masonic Secrets Revealed

Tools For Masonic Writing

masonic writersRegardless of whether you are writing a blog, a research paper, newsletter or publishing a book, here are some tools and tips that may be quite helpful.

Organizing Your Thoughts and Ideas

One on the hardest things to do in the writing process is to capture your ideas. There are 3 basic apps that I use to capture ideas: Wunderlist, Evernote, and RedNotebook. Wunderlist is a free app that is available for phone (iPhone or Android), tablet, laptop and desktop. It is primarily a to-do list type app but you can use it to organize your thoughts. You can create folders and store items with descriptions for later use. A handy feature of this app is that it saves data to the cloud and it automatically syncs all devices so you can use it anywhere.

Another cloud based app that is almost free is Evernote. This app can also be used on any device and your data is saved to the cloud. The basic package allows up to 60MB a month in storage which is generally sufficient. In Evernote, you can create folders and notes within each folder, adding a little more flexibility than Wunderlist since you can save photos and other media for later reference.

RedNotebook is somewhat different than the other apps. As far as I can tell, this app is not available for phones but can be used on some tablets, laptops, netbooks and desktops with ease. It is more of a journal than a notepad, however it has a unique method of storing and cataloging information. Data can be stored locally but if you want to use it on more than one device you will have to store your files to the Cloud. RedNotebook gives you the option of creating keywords or labels by using hashtags, allowing for easy retrieval with the search tool. Since your data is stored as simple text files by date, the app searches all the entries quickly and accurately. RedNotebook is completely free with no restrictions.

Using The Cloud

Sometimes “stuff” happens and your hard drive will crash and burn or your power goes out and you lose your work. If it’s ever happened to you, you know that it can be frustrating and downright discouraging. Another hazard that you might encounter is the ever present virus that corrupts your files. In recent years I have learned to avoid those possibilities by saving my critical data on the Cloud and backing it up locally as an extra precaution. Some would suggest that I am doing it backwards and should be saving locally and backing up to the Cloud, however, since I access these files from various devices, I like to work with an active copy, rather than a backup.

There are two utilities I like to use to save my critical file, the first is Dropbox and the other is OneDrive. Both of these utilities allow for sharing links or complete files with others. A third utility that I sometimes use for photos and media is Google Drive.

Dropbox allows for 2GB of free storage per account. If you need additional storage you can create additional accounts but that makes it difficult to navigate. It is much better to purchase more space for a nominal fee. You can also get more space by recommending Dropbox to others. Google Drive gives you 15GB of free storage per account with an option to purchase additional space. This should be sufficient unless you are writing an encyclopedia. OneDrive becomes available when you purchase Microsoft Office. When I purchased Office, I bought the 5-license deal so I would have it for all my devices. As a result, I have 1TB of space available for storage. The cost for this is around $95 US per year. This price includes the use of Office on all devices.

When you activate any of these utilities, they install a folder on your device allowing access through Windows Explorer or any software. The storage area is available on your computer as any other folder and you can move files into or out of the Cloud with ease. You can save any document, or media, or just about anything to your Cloud just as easily as saving it to your computer. You can make links available to your individual files or directories for downloading and you can even use these directories to collaborate on a project. When you want to work on your project on any supporting device, all you do is access the file as you would a locally saved file and save it when you’re done. This process is safe and very easy. The only drawback is that you cannot access the files without internet connection.

And Finally, the Actual Writing

About a year ago, I stumbled across a writing management type program called Scrivener. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, I was amazed at its flexibility. The software was developed by Literature & Latte and was designed for any type of writer. Whether you are a linear writer (from start to finish) or a random writer (whatever pops into your head – like me) or anything in between, Scrivener is for you.

The functionality of the software is so extensive so I will only cover a few items in this post. Scrivener has a 30 free trial download so you can play with it for that period and decide for yourself. If you choose to purchase a license, I believe it is still $40 US. Don’t be discouraged when you see the interface. My suggestion is that you take a look at some of the instructional videos on YouTube before you blow it off.

Scrivener is available for Mac or Windows PC and it is my understanding that there is an iPhone app with Android under development. I haven’t looked at either since writing on a phone is not my style. I would much rather be sitting on my porch with a laptop, great cigar, and a cup of coffee, but that is fodder for another post.

The interface is split into 3 screens: binder, writing/outline, and inspector. The center screen is also used to organize your thoughts on a cork board. When you have an idea for a topic or subtopic, you create an index card with a title and brief description. You might consider your topics as chapters or sections and your subtopics as sections or parts of the main chapter. By viewing them on the cork board, you can visualize the entire project and move cards as you choose.

When you move any of the index cards it automatically makes the adjustment in the binder section of the interface. The binder section is similar to looking at a Windows Explorer view of your project. You can also use it to move sections and subsections as you choose. The binder is divided into 3 parts: manuscript or draft (these terms are used interchangeably depending on the template you are using), references, and trash. You can drag anything to the trash folder, however it is not connected to your computer recycle bin and is saved in your project until you manually delete it. The Reference folder is the place that you can store documents, media, URLs, or just about anything that you refer to as you work on your project. One advantage of Scrivener is that you can split the screen and actually view your reference material while you write. This eliminates the need for opening and toggling between windows.

The Inspector section on the far right of the screen allows you to make notes and reminders about a topic or subtopic or change the description on an index card without opening the cork board. These is a tab that will actually use the text in the section for the description on the index card if you are on the lazy side. There is also a snapshot feature that allows you to save different versions of the same section in the case you want to undo a deletion or change.

The center pane is the writing area where you enter your actual text. Scrivener allows you to break your writing project into smaller projects and then has a feature where you can view multiple sections or files in the same screen, with the added feature of being able to edit any one of those files in either screen. The writing screen is just like any word processor and has the functionality of MS Word.

Finally, Scrivener has a compile feature that enables you take your entire manuscript and produce it in various formats: PDF/printing, text/MS Word, Open Office, HTML, eBook (mobi & ePub), to name a few. The end result will be a perfect project every time. Scrivener also can create a format that you can upload into Amazon Create Space with little or no editing.

And for all you control freaks, there is even a production goal setting function that allows you to set word or time goals on your writing. Say that you are writing a 50,000 word non-fiction book. You can set your daily production at 2,000 words and complete your project in under a month. A little green bar flashes when you achieve your goal. If the red bar flashes, that means that you are procrastinating so beware!

and, Finally (really)

There is a science to the creative process. Don’t sell yourself short. All you need is an idea and a desire to create a masterpiece. Even though your story may have been told before, you can add something to it that has never been said and can never be told without you. Your project may appear to be a monumental task but you can use the tools described above to break it down into small, achievable parts. Remember, Zig Zigler said that you can eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Start now – we are waiting to read your story.


Posted in Current, Education | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Tools For Masonic Writing

The Rite of Investiture

masonic-apron-250wAnother ritualistic symbolism, of still more importance and interest, is the rite of investiture.

The rite of investiture, called, in the colloquially technical language of the order, the ceremony of clothing, brings us at once to the consideration of that well-known symbol of Freemasonry, the LAMB-SKIN APRON.

This rite of investiture, or the placing upon the aspirant some garment, as an indication of his appropriate preparation for the ceremonies in which he was about to engage, prevailed in all the ancient initiations. A few of them only it will be requisite to consider.

Thus in the Levitical economy of the Israelites the priests always wore the abnet, or linen apron, or girdle, as a part of the investiture of the priesthood. This, with the other garments, was to be worn, as the text expresses it, “for glory and for beauty,” or, as it has been explained by a learned commentator, “as emblematical of that holiness and purity which ever characterize the divine nature, and the worship which is worthy of him.”

In the Persian Mysteries of Mithras, the candidate, having first received light, was invested with a girdle, a crown or mitre, a purple tunic, and, lastly, a white apron.

In the initiations practised in Hindostan, in the ceremony of investiture was substituted the sash, or sacred zennaar, consisting of a cord, composed of nine threads twisted into a knot at the end, and hanging from the left shoulder to the right hip. This was, perhaps, the type of the masonic scarf, which is, or ought to be, always worn in the same position.

The Jewish sect of the Essenes, who approached nearer than any other secret institution of antiquity to Freemasonry in their organization, always invested their novices with a white robe.

And, lastly, in the Scandinavian rites, where the military genius of the people had introduced a warlike species of initiation, instead of the apron we find the candidate receiving a white shield, which was, however, always presented with the accompaniment of some symbolic instruction, not very dissimilar to that which is connected with the masonic apron.

In all these modes of investiture, no matter what was the material or the form, the symbolic signification intended to be conveyed was that of purity.

And hence, in Freemasonry, the same symbolism is communicated by the apron, which, because it is the first gift which the aspirant receives,–the first symbol in which he is instructed,–has been called the “badge of a mason.”

And most appropriately has it been so called; for, whatever may be the future advancement of the candidate in the “Royal Art,” into whatever deeper arcana his devotion to the mystic institution or his thirst for knowledge may carry him, with the apron–his first investiture–he never parts.

Changing, perhaps, its form and its decorations, and conveying at each step some new and beautiful allusion, its substance is still there, and it continues to claim the honorable title by which it was first made known to him on the night of his initiation.

The apron derives its significance, as the symbol of purity, from two sources–from its color and from its material. In each of these points of view it is, then, to be considered, before its symbolism can be properly appreciated.

And, first, the color of the apron must be an unspotted white. This color has, in all ages, been esteemed an emblem of innocence and purity. It was with reference to this symbolism that a portion of the vestments of the Jewish priesthood was directed to be made white. And hence Aaron was commanded, when he entered into the holy of holies to make an expiation for the sins of the people, to appear clothed in white linen, with his linen apron, or girdle, about his loins. It is worthy of remark that the Hebrew word LABAN, which signifies to make white, denotes also to purify; and hence we find, throughout the Scriptures, many allusions to that color as an emblem of purity. “Though thy sins be as scarlet,” says Isaiah, “they shall be white as snow;” and Jeremiah, in describing the once innocent condition of Zion, says, “Her Nazarites were purer than snow; they were whiter than milk.”

In the Apocalypse a white stone was the reward promised by the Spirit to those who overcame; and in the same mystical book the apostle is instructed to say, that fine linen, clean and white, is the righteousness of the saints.

In the early ages of the Christian church a white garment was always placed upon the catechumen who had been recently baptized, to denote that he had been cleansed from his former sins, and was thenceforth to lead a life of innocence and purity. Hence it was presented to him with this appropriate charge: “Receive the white and undefiled garment, and produce it unspotted before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may obtain immortal life.”

The white alb still constitutes a part of the vestments of the Roman church, and its color is said by Bishop England “to excite to piety by teaching us the purity of heart and body which we should possess in being present at the holy mysteries.”

The heathens paid the same attention to the symbolic signification of this color. The Egyptians, for instance, decorated the head of their principal deity, Osiris, with a white tiara, and the priests wore robes of the whitest linen.

In the school of Pythagoras, the sacred hymns were chanted by the disciples clothed in garments of white. The Druids gave white vestments to those of their initiates who had arrived at the ultimate degree, or that of perfection. And this was intended, according to their ritual, to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed from all impurities, both of body and mind.

In all the Mysteries and religions rites of the other nations of antiquity the same use of white garments was observed.

Portal, in his “Treatise on Symbolic Colors,” says that “white, the symbol of the divinity and of the priesthood, represents divine wisdom; applied to a young girl, it denotes virginity; to an accused person, innocence; to a judge, justice;” and he adds–what in reference to its use in Masonry will be peculiarly appropriate–that, “as a characteristic sign of purity, it exhibits a promise of hope after death.” We see, therefore, the propriety of adopting this color in the masonic system as a symbol of purity. This symbolism pervades the whole of the ritual, from the lowest to the highest degree, wherever white vestments or white decorations are used.

As to the material of the apron, this is imperatively required to be of lamb-skin. No other substance, such as linen, silk, or satin, could be substituted without entirely destroying the symbolism of the vestment. Now, the lamb has, as the ritual expresses it, “been, in all ages, deemed an emblem of innocence;” but more particularly in the Jewish and Christian churches has this symbolism been observed. Instances of this need hardly be cited. They abound throughout the Old Testament, where we learn that a lamb was selected by the Israelites for their sin and burnt offerings, and in the New, where the word lamb is almost constantly employed as synonymous with innocence. “The paschal lamb,” says Didron, “which was eaten by the Israelites on the night preceding their departure, is the type of that other divine Lamb, of whom Christians are to partake at Easter, in order thereby to free themselves from the bondage in which they are held by vice.” The paschal lamb, a lamb bearing a cross, was, therefore, from an early period, depicted by the Christians as referring to Christ crucified, “that spotless Lamb of God, who was slain from the foundation of the world.”

The material, then, of the apron, unites with its color to give to the investiture of a mason the symbolic signification of purity. This, then, together with the fact which I have already shown, that the ceremony of investiture was common to all the ancient religious rites, will form another proof of the identity of origin between these and the masonic institution.

This symbolism also indicates the sacred and religious character which its founders sought to impose upon Freemasonry, and to which both the moral and physical qualifications of our candidates undoubtedly have a reference, since it is with the masonic lodge as it was with the Jewish church, where it was declared that “no man that had a blemish should come nigh unto the altar;” and with the heathen priesthood, among whom we are told that it was thought to be a dishonor to the gods to be served by any one that was maimed, lame, or in any other way imperfect; and with both, also, in requiring that no one should approach the sacred things who was not pure and uncorrupt.

The pure, unspotted lamb-skin apron is, then, in Masonry, symbolic of that perfection of body and purity of mind which are essential qualifications in all who would participate in its sacred mysteries.


Posted in Education, Symbolism | Comments Off on The Rite of Investiture

Military Lodges

MASSACREAn address given by R:. W:. Art Palmer at Queensbury Lodge 12/03/2013

Greetings from the Grand Master. It is a great honor to be surrounded by veterans this evening. Freemasonry and the military have gone hand in hand through our history.  Many of our Founding Fathers and military heroes were Freemasons. Freemasonry came to the new world in large part with the military Lodges attached to British regiments.

Two British Government Regiments of Infantry, warranted as Irish Field Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons were stationed in America from 1732 – 1737.

Within a few years the Grand Lodge of Scotland and Grand Lodge of England were issuing Warrants to military Lodges.  By 1755, twenty-nine Warrants had been issued.  The Grand Lodges of Germany, Ireland and Scotland had Lodges in Maryland.

The first record of a military Lodge Warrant being issued WITHIN the new world happened during the French and Indian War.  The Provincial Grand Master at Boston issued it to the 28th British Foot Soldiers in an expedition against the French at Crown Point.

The Warrant or Charter of the early military Lodges was usually given to the Regimental Commander and all of a Lodge’s furniture, ornaments, lights, jewels, Warrant, etc., had to fit within one small military chest.

Tun Tavern was a tavern and brewery in Philadelphia. It is traditionally regarded as the birthplace of the Marine Corps., they held their initial recruitment drives there in 1775. It was also a major Masonic Meeting location. An interesting fact – the Tavern proved a great recruitment place for the Marines. Hum.

During the American Revolution there were 10 Lodges working within the American Army.

There were at least two instances during the Revolutionary War, in which, the Americans captured some of a British Lodge’s Furniture, Warrant and Jewels.  In both cases, there is a record of these items being restored to their owners by an honor guard under a flag of truce.

During the Mexican War there were 12 traveling military Lodges formed and at least two of them accompanied our Army to Mexico.  All of these Lodges worked under dispensation and none of them were ever chartered.

During the Civil War, there were upwards of 200 military Lodges. Depending on the source.  Virginia had around 28 Lodges with the southern armies.  Indiana led the list with 37 Lodges the north and Texas is estimated to have had some 50 military Lodges.

The Spanish-American War had two military Lodges, one from Kentucky and one from North Dakota, although California granted three dispensations for formation of Lodges in the Philippines, which later led to the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.

World War 1 had only three military Lodges granted within the United States.  Nine more were granted for work in France and Germany during the occupation.

World War I saw a huge outpouring of patriotism with Freemasons at the forefront. Grand Lodges wanted to help our military personnel, both at home and overseas. However, the federal government would not deal with 49 Grand Lodges. They demanded communication with only one organization. So, in 1919, the Masonic Service Association of the United States was formed, which formed The Masonic Information Center in 1993.

Although there were several requests for dispensations during World War II, none were granted.

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska developed a a “Lodge in a box” program similar to the 18th Century British, to enable Masonry to be practiced in Iraq/Afghanistan. Interesting concept, but it received a vast amount of criticism by many Grand Lodges and the program was shelved. Grand Lodges of Canada and Germany did issue dispensations for Lodges in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Masons have a time-honored tradition of supporting our military troops: Those who have served, those that are serving and when these brave men/women return home from military service and integrate back into society. The program we heard about this evening is a shining example of one that honors our Masonic heritage.

Posted in Education, History | Comments Off on Military Lodges

The Three Supporting Pillars of a Lodge

pillars of supportThe Three Supporting Pillars of a Lodge.

by H.A. Kingsbury

ALTHOUGH it is probably true that there is no Mason, be he ever so unskilled in his Art, who is so ill informed that if he were asked, “What are the symbolical Supports of your Lodge?” would not be able to give the information, “The Three Pillars, Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty,” it is to be feared that there is many a Mason who, when he has given the information that the Three Pillars are the Supports of his Lodge and has given those Supports their respective names, has told absolutely all he knows concerning the Three Pillars. He knows nothing of their antecedents and their history; nothing of their symbolic significance. This is decidedly not as it should be. It is, then, worth the time and effort of every Mason who would possess even the elements of a proper knowledge of his Art, and especially is it worth the time and effort of every Mason who would call himself a student of his Art, to make an investigation, if only one of the utmost brevity, of the antecedents, the history, and the symbolism, of pillars and, more particularly, of the Three Pillars.

To an investigation, such as suggested, the brief review below can serve as scarcely more than a synopsis. It is no more than a start in the right direction– merely the sketching in of some of the more important features of a field of investigation which no Mason can afford neglecting to explore.

Probably pillars have been used for commemorative, monumental and symbolistic purposes since the beginnings of civilization in the world. For example, among the Egyptians many extraordinary events, singular or noteworthy transactions, and new inventions were commemorated, and their histories preserved, by records carved upon pillars of stone. According to tradition, Osiris, that Egyptian hero and god of such peculiar and especial interest to the Mason, set up pillars in commemoration of his conquests; the pillars bore hieroglyphically inscriptions recording certain interesting facts and details relative to those conquests. This reputed example of Osiris was followed by the kings of ancient Egypt for many centuries, for those kings had, in many instances, records of their conquests, triumphs, power, and magnificence, engraved on pillars or obelisks. And, if we are to believe the Greek legends having to do with the legendary world–conquering Egyptian king Sesostris who in those legends carries the burdens and the glories of many of the deeds of Rameses II., Rameses II during his military progress through the various nations which he conquered caused pillars to be erected bearing inscriptions and emblematic devices making known to posterity certain features of, and facts relating to, his conquests.

By the biblical peoples pillars were used in ways similar to those in which they were used by the Egyptians. Thus, Hiram King of Tyre, upon the forming of his grand junction between Eurichorus and Tyre, dedicated a pillar to Jupiter in commemoration of the event. Enoch erected two pillars–the Pillars of Enoch of which Masonry has its symbolic legend–the one of brass to resist water and the other of stone to resist fire upon which he inscribed information calculated to preserve his knowledge to posterity in the case of the destruction of the world. Jacob’s Pillar at Bethel was erected to commemorate his extraordinary vision; his Pillar at Galeed was raised in commemoration of his treaty with his uncle, Laban. Joshua raised a pillar at Gilgal to perpetuate the fact of the miraculous passage of the River Jordan. And Absalom erected a pillar in honor of himself.

Leaving, now, the consideration of pillars as merely individual units and turning to the consideration of grouped pillars, each group consisting of three units, one realizes at the outset that the conception of a symbolic group of three pillars is not by any means one confined exclusively to Masonry; in not a few of the ancient mysteries and religious systems some symbolic meaning was assigned to a group comprised of three pillars.

The symbolistic conception of three grouped pillars was contained in the Druidical Mysteries, indeed, in those mysteries, in some instances, the adytum, or sanctuary, was actually supported on three stones or pillars. In the mythology of India the conception of three pillars was present, the pillars being considered as located in the East, West, and South and as bearing the names Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. In also the mysteries of India the three qualities, Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, were treated of, being there considered as represented by three hierophants, one in the East, one in the West, and one in the South.

The three-pillar-group, in every ancient mystery or religious system where it occurred as such, was the presentation, symbolically, of a triad. Therefore, a consideration of the Three Pillars of the Lodge brings before the student, for his contemplation, the curious fact that nearly every mystery practiced by the ancient peoples of the world contained its reference, and that an important reference, to a triad. In the mysteries of India the triad was Brahma, Vishnu, Siva; in the Grecian Mysteries the triad was Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto; in the Persian, Ormazad, Mithra, Mithras; in the Gothic, Woden, Friga, Thor; in the Mexican, Tloquenahuaque, Huitzilopochtli, Mictlanteuctli; and so on through the various systems practiced by the ancients.

So, in carrying forward what was best in the conceptions and the teachings of the peoples of antiquity, Masonry, too, has its pillars of peculiar significance; places one in East, one in the West, and one in the South; considers each one symbolically significant as a unit, calling one Wisdom, one Strength, and one Beauty, as did the Hindus; and, finally, Masonry considers those Pillars as a group, unitary in character and in itself a symbol, indeed a symbol of the very highest type, for:–

The Mason is informed that the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty “because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings”: he cannot but gather from the lectures and the work, particularly of the First Degree, that the Lodge is the symbol of the World: therefore, when he combines these two conceptions and draws the necessarily resulting conclusion, he arrives at the same understanding of the ultimate symbolic significance of the Three Pillars as did the ancient Hindus–the Three Supporting Pillars of the Lodge are, considered as a group, the symbol of Him Whose Wisdom contrived the World, Whose Strength supports the World, Whose Beauty adorns the World– Deity.

The Builder magazine October 1917.

Please send your articles to:

Posted in Education, Philosophy, Symbolism | Comments Off on The Three Supporting Pillars of a Lodge

Emblematic Freemasonry

waiteEmblematic Freemasonry

 by A E Waite

 AS EMBLEMATIC FREEMASONRY is the Craft of Building moralized, it follows that intellectually, at least, our figurative and speculative art has arisen out of the Operative. Here is a first link in any chain of connection with the building world of the past. But it seems certain also that the Free and Accepted, or Speculative, Masons had Operative documents, such as the so-called Gothic Constitutions and Old Charges, for part of their heritage.

The proof is that soon after the revival of 1717, these documents were put into the hands of Dr. James Anderson “to digest . . . in a new and better method.” They were things apparently in evidence, and he was not commissioned to search them out. Beyond this omnia exeunt in mysterium.

Almost from Year to year our documentary knowledge of Constitutions, Charges, and Landmarks extends slowly. There is also new light cast from time to time on the general history of architecture in Christian times. But no light is shed on the antiquities of art of building moralized. The existence of such an art prior to 1717 remains almost as much a matter of speculation as the art itself is speculative. We are led almost irresistibly to infer that it anteceded this date and a few remain among us who believe that it may have been old in the year 1646, when Ashmole was made a Mason at Warrington, but there is no real evidence. So also there are zealous and capable writers by whom our knowledge is expanded from time to time, however slightly, on particular sides and respecting the archeology of architectural history, on Roman Collegia, Dionysian artificers, and Comacines. They furnish at the same time many plausible and taking speculations. But they do not help us in respect of Freemasonry, as we now understand the term, because no evidence of building association is of service to our own purpose unless such association embodies our “peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”

The Hittites of Syria and Asia Minor may have been of “Hemetic descent” and may have built the Temple at Jerusalem; the Etruscans, from whom architecture was learned by the Romans, may, have been Hittites; at the downfall of Rome, the Roman Collegia may have settled in that island on Lake Como, which is familiar at the present day as Isola Comacina, and may have become Comacines; the Comacines may, in turn, have merged into the great Masonic guilds of the Middle Ages. But, if so, all this is part and parcel of the history of architecture and not of Emblematical Building, unless and until we can show that, practical Masons as they were, their system of secret association included what is called in the Craft degrees a side of Speculative Masonry and in the appendant degrees an art of building spiritualized. But it is just this which is wanting, or we should have taken the closing long since in the lodge of our debate on the origin of Freemasonry. There are not unnatural sporadic vestiges, few and far between. It is said, that the Comacines had a motto affirming that their temple, was “one made without hands,” and this reminds us assuredly of the Mark degree; but it is not to be called evidence for a developed speculative element prevailing amongst the old masters. Nor can I think with Brother Ravencroft, in his memorable series of papers contributed to THE BUILDER In 1918, that the two pillars of Wurzburg Cathedral, once situated on either side of the porch and bearing respectively on their capitals the letters J and B, can be termed “a good illustration of the way in which symbols were transmitted even from the temple of Solomon to the medieval craftsmen and thence to our Speculative Masonry.” It seems to me simply that the Cathedral builders were acquainted with Holy Scripture.

The conclusion which is forced upon me is that only by the use of liberal supposition can the Comacines and those who preceded them be made to connect with our subject. We may take H. J. Da Costa as early authority in England for the Dionysian fraternity and his successor, Krause, for the links between Masons of the middle Ages and the Roman Collegia. The views of both have been summarized ably by my friend, Brother Joseph Fort Newton, but that which valid therein belongs to the history of architecture. It was, I think, Krause who said that each Roman collegium was presided over by a Master and two decuriones or Wardens, each of whom bore the Master’s commands to the brethren of his respective column. The word “decurio” is here translated “warden,” to institute an analogy by force. According to Suetonius, the Latin office in question was that of a captain over ten men whether horse or foot, and was therefore military I character. The first authority on the Comacines is Leader Scott (who is Miss Lucy E. Baxter) in “The Cathedral Builders,” a most fascinating romance of architecture, which contains also some great and valuable historical lights. Joseph Fort Newton described it as an attempt to bridge the gap “between the classical Roman style and the rise of Gothic art.” Again, therefore, it is a question of architectural evolution and I must say personally that, taken as such, it is to be questioned whether the gulf is really spanned. I can understand on the hypothesis the development of Italian architecture, more or less degenerated from classical types, but not the genesis of the great schools of Gothic building. It is to be understood, however, that this question exceeds the warrants of my subject to connect any ritual mystery which obtained ex hypothesi in the old Collegia, or among Comacine lodges, with the living mystery of Speculative Masonry, of which she Speaks with derision, but evidently knows it only through an Italian source.

As a student of the Secret Tradition in Christian times I could wish that the facts were otherwise in the great story of all these ancient guilds. I could have wished that their supposed pageants of secret initiation were, as the speculations say, Dionysian representations of mystical death and resurrection, and that they are reflected at a far distance in our Sublime degree. But if these stories are dreams, or still awaiting demonstration, we have to face the fact, and the question remaining over is whether we can look elsewhere. Now, it happens that there is one direction which has been regarded not unfavorably as a possible source of light. It is that of the Hermetic Schools in England, and these, speaking broadly, may be classified as three- Alchemical, Rosicrucian, and Kabalistic. They had a common bond of interest and tended here, as elsewhere, to merge one into another. There are evidences to show that the experiment of Alchemy in England is an exceedingly old pursuit, but in the early part of the seventeenth century it had sprung into greater prominence. The rumor of the Rosicrucian fraternity was also raising curiosity in Europe. Hermetic literature- not only with a modern accent but also for the time in vernacular language- extended greatly, and schools of theosophy sprang up in several countries. The root of the Rosicrucian movement was in Germany, but the impulse reached England and some of the most famous names connected with the subject are identified with this country. Hence came Alexander Seton and hence Eirenaeus Philalethes, who has been regarded as one of the great masters of Hermetic Art. Here also was Robert Fludd, who must, I think, be regarded as not only advocate and apologist in chief of the Rosicrucian art and philosophy, but as a fountain-head. Here, too, was Thomas Vaughan, mystic as well as alchemist. And here, in 1640, lived Elias Ashmole, alchemist and antiquary, founder also of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

A section of Masonic opinion has looked in the past and a section looks still towards Elias Ashmole and his connections in some way, yet undetermined, as the representatives of this transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry. In France there has been practically no doubt on the subject from the days of Ragon, though concerning the value of his personal view I must speak with desirable plainness elsewhere in this paper. In America the distinguished name of Albert Pike can be cited in support of the thesis. After every allowance has been made for the position of such a speculation, still almost inextricable, it can be affirmed that it seems to offer a place of repose for all the tolerable views, because it harmonizes all- on the understanding that Ashmole and his consociates are not regarded personally but as typifying a leavening spirit introduced there and here, and at work during the period intervening between 1640 and the foundation of the first Grand Lodge In 1717. Pike was like Ragon unfortunately, a man of uncritical mind, and I summarize his findings under all needful reserve.

Among Masonic symbols which he identifies as used in common by Freemasons and Hermetic and Alchemical literature are the Square and Compasses, the Triangle, the Oblong Square, the Legend of the three Grand Masters, the idea embodied in a substituted word, which might well be the most important of all, together with the Sun, the Moon, and Master of the lodge. It was, moreover, his opinion, based on this and other considerations, that the philosophers- meaning the members of the Hermetic confraternities- became Freemasons and introduced into Masonry their own symbolism. He thinks finally that Ashmole was led to be made a Mason because others who were followers of Hermes had taken the step before him. However this may be, I have said elsewhere that the influence of the Rosicrucian fraternity upon that of the Masons has been questioned only by those who have been unfitted to appreciate the symbolism which they possess in common. It does not belong to the formative period of Emblematic Freemasonry, but to that of development and expansion. The nature of the influence is another matter and one, moreover, in which it may be necessary to recognize the simple principle of imitation up to a certain point. The influence has been exercised more especially in connection with other Rites, as to which it is impossible, for example, to question that those who instituted the eighteenth degree of the Scottish Rite either must have received something by transmission from the old German Brotherhood, or, alternatively, must have borrowed from its literature.

That Ashmole was connected with Rosicrucians, or otherwise with the representatives of some association which had assumed their name is an inference drawn from his life. His antiquarian studies led him more especially in the direction of Alchemy, but as regards this art he did not remain an antiquary or a mere collector of old documents on the subject. He was, to some extent, a practical student and, moreover, not simply an isolated inquirer. He had secured that assistance which has been regarded always as next but one to essential, namely, the instruction of a Master. The alternative is Divine Aid, which is, of course, a higher kind of Mastery. He was associated otherwise with many of the occult philosophers, alchemists, astrologers, and so forth, belonging to his period. The suggestion that he acted as an instrument of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, or as a member thereof, in the transfiguration of Operative into Speculative Freemasonry, is a matter of faith for those who have held or hold it. Of direct or indirect evidence there is not one particle. Supposing that such a design existed at the period, he is not an unlikely person to have been concerned in planning it on the part of himself and others or to have been delegated for such a purpose. But of the design there is again no evidence. It has been affirmed further in the interests of the claim that a meeting of an Alchemical- presumably Rosicrucian society perceiving how working Masons were already outnumbered in membership by persons of education not belonging to the trade, believed that the time was ripe for a complete ceremonial revolution and that one founded on mystical tradition was drawn up thereon in writing, constituting the Entered Apprentice grade, approximately as it exists now. The grade of Fellow Craft was elaborated in 1648, and that of Master Mason in 1659.

These are the reveries of Ragon, categorical in nature, accompanied by specific details, all in the absence of one particle of fact in any record of the past. It seems to me, therefore, that no language would be too strong to characterize such mendacities and that they can belong only to the class of conscious lying, but the charge against Ragon is more especially that he elaborated the materials of a hypothesis which had grown up among successive inventors belonging to the type of Reghellini. If there were Rosicrucians in England at the date in question, it may be presumed that those who, according to Ashmole’s own statement, communicated to him some portions, at least, of the Hermetic secrets would not have withheld the corporate mysteries of their Fraternity. But, on the other hand, there is at present no historical certainty that the Hermetic Order possessed any such corporate existence in England at that period. However this may be, in the memoirs of the life of Elias Ashmole, as drawn up by himself in the form of a diary, there is the following now well-known entry under date of 16th October, 1646:

“I was made a Freemason at Warrington in Lancashire with Colonel Henry Mainwaring of Kartichan in Cheshire; the names of those that were then at the Lodge: Mr. Richard Penket, Warden; Mr. James Collier, Mr. Richard Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, Richard Ellam, and Hugh Brewer.”

The two noteworthy points in this extract, over and above the main fact which it designs to place on record, are that neither candidate was an operative by business and that the work of initiation was performed evidently by the brother who acted as Warden. At that period Elias Ashmole was under thirty years of age. His father was a saddler by trade, his mother was the daughter of a draper and he himself solicited in Chancery. But while still in his youth he tells us that he had entered into that condition to which he had aspired always, “that I might be able to live to myself and studies, without being forced to take pains for a livelihood in the world.” The admissions of 16th October, 1646, are not required to prove the practice of initiating men of other business than that of Masonry and its connected crafts, or even of no business at all, but it should be observed that here-as in cases of earlier date- the reception was in the capacity of simple brothers and not of patrons.

The nature of those studies which were engrossing Ashmole about the time of his initiation may be learned by the publication, five years later, of his Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, being a collection of metrical treatises written in English at various dates on the subject of the Hermetic Mystery and the Philosopher’s Stone. They appear to be concerned only with what is called technically the physical work on metals and the physical medicine or elixir, not with those spiritual mysteries which have passed occasionally into expression under the peculiar symbolism of Alchemy. At the same time Ashmole is careful to explain his personal assurance that the transmutation of metals is only one branch of Hermetic practice:

As this is but a part, so it is the least share of that blessing which may he acquired by the Philosopher’s materia, if the full virtue thereof were known. Gold, I confess, is a delicious object, a goodly light which we admire and gaze upon but pure in Junonis avem, but as to make gold is the chief intent of the Alchemists, so was it scarcely any intent of the ancient Philosophers and the lowest use the Adoption made of this materia. For they, being lovers of wisdom more than worldly wealth, drove at higher and more excellent operations; and certainly he to whom the whole course of Nature lies open rejoiceth not so much that he can make gold and silver or the devils be made subject to him as that he sees the heavens open, the angels of God ascending and descending and that his own name is fairly written in the Book of Life.

It should be added that this exposition is a faithful reflection of Rosicrucian doctrine as it is put forward, directly or indirectly, under the name of the Brotherhood in German books and pamphlets of the early seventeenth century. Supposing that circa 1650 there was an incorporated Rosicrucian School in England, no person is so likely to have been a member as Ashmole, and it is not possible to imagine him in separation there from.  Indeed, I am by no means certain that his testimony is not thinly presumptive of membership, being so to the manner born of it in thought and figures of speech. But if we can tolerate however tentatively- the Rosicrucian initiation of Ashmole, we may take it for granted that he did not stand alone. On the whole it seems barely possible that on 16th October, 1646, a Brother of the Rosy Cross was made a Mason, with or without an ulterior motive in view. It follows expressly from his frank and honorable testimony concerning himself that he was one who had only seen the end of adept ship, even within the measures that he conceived it, while as regards any other Rosicrucian to whom he may have been joined we know very little concerning them.

It will be seen that the Ashmole hypothesis is but a part of the wider claim of direct Rosicrucian influence on the foundation of Emblematic Freemasonry. I agree with the opinion that in so far as it has been advanced in the past this claim has lapsed. It affirms that the House of the Holy Spirit, being the Rosicrucian Br9therhood in Germany, had a Secret House in England, which either transfigured itself into the thing called Speculative Masonry or revolutionized the old Operative Craft along speculative lines for its own purposes, presumably that it might have recruiting centers available and more or less openly manifest. There is no evidence whatever to support this view. The Rosicrucian zeal of the occult philosopher and intellectual mystic, Robert FIudd, left no trace behind it, until the time came for it to influence in a rather indefinite manner the impassion able enthusiasm of Thomas Vaughan, and this also led to nothing. The first incorporated Rosicrucian Society in England of which we hear belongs to the early nineteenth century. In particular, Fludd’s activities had no bearing on any Masonry of the early seventeenth century, even if Robertus de Fluctitus was the Mr. Flood who presented a Book of Contitutions to the Masons’ Company, as recorded in an inventory taken before the Fire of London.

When the question at issue has been relieved from these reveries there remains the more reasonable suggestion that the Operative Brotherhood came gradually and not unnaturally under the influence of persons who belonged to both associations. It would attract also those who were simply Hermetic students, though isolated and unattached as such. Attached or otherwise, Ashmole is a case in point, though his place in Freemasonry of the mid-seventeenth century is a subject for very careful adjudication. The influence which in this manner would begin to be exercised, consciously or unconsciously, would be Hermetic in a general sense rather than Rosicrucian exclusively; but this is a distinction which will not be realized readily by those who are acquainted only at second-hand with the mystical and occult movements of the seventeenth century. As to the ritual side of the Operative Masonry in that century we know next to nothing, while of Rosicrucian ritual procedure- if any- we know nothing at all.

Such in rough outline is the case as it stands for the interference of two Hermetic Schools in Freemasonry, prior to the first historical evidence for the ritual of the Third Craft degree and apart from any long since exploded hypothesis which has sought to connect the Brotherhood with older Mysteries by means of direct transmission within their own bends. I have registered my feelings that some day it may assume a less uncertain aspect, in other words that sources of additional knowledge may become available. I know that the root-matter of the Third degree belongs to the Secret Tradition and is not only of the Hermetic Schools but of Schools thereunto antecedent. This is not a speculative question or one of simple persuasion. It is, moreover, no question of history and does not stand or fall with particular personalities and with claims made concerning them. As regards these there is work remaining to be done- that is to say, in the purely historic field, but unfortunately the subject has only a few sympathizers in England and among these a small proportion only who are qualified to work therein. In the meantime it remains that the position of Hermetic Schools, so far delineated, is not unlike that of speculation on Comacines, Roman Collegia, and Dionysian architects. When we pass, however, to the third Hermetic School the position is, I think, different. The root-matter of much that is shadowed forth in the traditional history of the Craft, as regards the meaning of the Temple and the search for the Lost Word, is to be found in certain great texts known to scholars under the generic name of Kabbalah. We find therein after what manner, according to mystic Israel, Solomon’s Temple was spiritualized; we find profound meanings attached to the, two pillars J and B; we find how a Word was lost and under what circumstances the chosen people were to look for its recovery. It is an expectation for Jewish theosophy, as it is for the Craft Mason. It was lost owing to a certain untoward event, and although the time and circumstances of its recovery have been calculated in certain texts, there has been something amiss with the methods. Those who were keepers of the tradition died with their faces towards Jerusalem, looking for that time; but for Jewry at large the question has passed long since from the field of view, much as the quest is continued by Masons in virtue of a ceremonial formula but cannot he said to mean anything for those who undertake and pursue it officially. It was lost owing to the unworthiness of Israel, and the destruction of the First Temple was one consequence thereof. By the waters of Babylon, in their exile, the Jews are said to have remembered Zion, but the Word did not return into their hearts; and when Divine Providence inspired Cyrus to project the building of a second temple and the return of Israel into their own land, they went back empty of all recollection in this respect.

The Word to which reference is made in that Divine Name out of the consonants of which we have formed Jehovah, or, by another speculation, Yahve. When Israel fell into a state that is termed impenitence it is said in Zoharic symbolism that VAV and HE final were separated. The name was thus dismembered, and this is the first sense of loss which is registered concerning it. The second is that it has no proper vowel points, those of the name ELOHIM being substituted, or alternatively, of the name ADONAI. It is said, for example: “My name is written YHVH and read ADONAI.” The epoch of restoration and completion is called, almost indifferently, that of resurrection, the world to come and the advent of Messiah. In such day the present separation between the letters will reach its term, once and forever.

It is also to this Kabalistic source, rather than to the variant account in the first book of Kings or in Chronicles, that we must have recourse for the important Masonic symbolism concerning the pillars J and B. There is very little in Holy Scripture to justify a choice of those objects as particular representatives of an art of building spiritualized. But in later Kabalism, in the texts called The Garden of Pomegranates and The Gates of Light there is a very full explanation of the strength which is attributed to B, the left hand pillar, and of that which is “established” in and by the right hand pillar, called J.

As regards the temple itself, I have explained elsewhere after what manner it is spiritualized in various Kabalistic and semi- Kabalistic texts, so that it appears as “the proportion of the height, the proportion of the depth, and the lateral proportion” of the created universe. It offers another aspect of the fatal loss to Israel and the world which is commented on in the Tradition. That which the temple symbolizes above all things is, however, a House of Doctrine, and as on the one hand the Zohar shows us how a loss and substitution were perpetuated through centuries, owing to the idolatry of Israel at the foot of Mount Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai, and illustrated by the breaking of the tables of stone on which the Law was inscribed, so does Speculative Masonry intimate that the Holy House, which was planned and begun after one manner, was completed after another and a word of death was substituted for a word of life.

But if these are among the sources of Craft Masonry, taken at its culmination in the Sublime degree, what manner of people were those who grafted so strange a speculation and symbolism on the Operative procedure of a building guild, even when this has been symbolized? The answer is that all about the period which represents what is called the “transition,” and indeed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries many Latin-writing scholars of Europe were animated with zeal for an exposition of the tradition in Israel, with the result that memorable and even great books were produced on the subject. But this zeal for Kabalistic literature had more than a scholastic basis. It was believed that the texts of the Secret Tradition showed plainly, out of the mouth of Israel itself, that the Messiah had come. This is the first fact. The second is in Ceremonial Masonry itself, and, namely, that although the central event of the Third degree is the candidate’s raising, it is not said in the legend that the Master Builder rose, thus suggesting that something remains to come after, which might at once complete the legend and conclude the quest. The third fact is that in an important high grade of a philosophical kind, now almost unknown, the Master Builder of the Third degree rises as Christ. The dismembered Divine Name is completed therein by insertion of the Hebrew letter SHIN, thus producing YEHESHUAH, the official restoration of the Lost Word in the Christian degrees of Masonry. It follows that although the opening and closing of the Third degree and the legend of the Master-Builder, with all their speaking Mysteries, may seem to come from very far away, they are not so remote that we cannot trace them to their source.

It is to be observed that the presence of a Kabalistic element in the traditional history of the Craft by no means connotes antiquity, and antiquity is a difficult thing to predicate of the Third degree, at least in its present form. By whomsoever created or developed, its author was a student of the Secret Tradition in Israel, and drew great lights there from, possibly at first hand, but much more probably perhaps from those Latin commentaries and synopses already mentioned. The bulk of these were already compiled, whether we place his work late in the seventeenth or early in the eighteenth century. Much of it was available previously, supposing that more considerable antiquity could be predicated of the Third degree. But we must cleave to that which is evidentially reasonable in this respect, until time or circumstances shall provide better warrants. For Speculative Masonry as a whole we may have to rest content also, if we cannot date it much further back than the close of the seventeenth century, recognizing that its present characteristic developments are to be sought in and about the Revival period. Such recognition puts an end to romantic hypotheses, but the great intimations of the Third degree remain a speaking pageant in Symbolism, however late its origin. The quest of the Word remains, with all Zoharic Theosophy behind it and all the rites of Christian Masonry in front. The mythos connects our Order with the figurative Mysteries of past ages, while the opening and closing of the lodge in that degree are much greater than anything in the memorials of Greece and Egypt.

I shall, therefore, reach a general conclusion on the Hermetic Schools and their alleged intervention for the transformation of an Operative Guild into an Emblematic Freemasonry and it shall be expressed in such a manner as will be without detriment to ourselves or our connections as loyal and devoted Masons. In Dionysian architects, Roman Collegia, Gomacines, and Building Guilds of the Middle Ages, I have failed to discover any traces of an art of building spiritualized. I have taken the old Gothic Constitutions and have sought to digest them like Anderson “in a new and better method”; but, however they were passed and repassed through the mental alembic, they have yielded nothing corresponding to a “system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Not even the Regius MSS. betray a single vestige, though I have followed Gould anxiously. As regards the Hermetic Schools, and speaking, if I may venture to say so, as one who knows the literature, the allegation of Albert Pike is true in respect of a few world-wide symbols which prove nothing and false in all things else. There is no legend of three Grand Masters in Alchemy; there is no Substituted Word; and there is no Master of the lodge, for there is no need of ritual procedure among all its cloud of witnesses. The witness of Alchemy to Masonry is the witness of Elias Ashmole, the sole alchemist in the seventeenth century whom we know to have become a Mason. The Rosicrucian influence I believe to have been marked in character and exercised for a considerable period, but we know it only in its developments which belong to the eighteenth century, and are, of course, beyond our scope. Provisionally, and under all reserve, I am inclined to hold that it began earlier, but more especially as an atmosphere belonging to the formative period of Emblematic Freemasonry. But the great Rosicrucian maxim cited by Robert Fludd about 1630 must be ruled out unfortunately. Transmutemini, transmutemini de lapidibus mortuis in lapides vivos philosophicos, does not signify that the Brothers of the Rosy Cross had either joined or invented our figurative and speculative art; it is rather a contract established between material and spiritual alchemy. For the present, at least, we are asked also to set aside the winning speculation concerning a secret school of Emblematic Masonry coexistent through several generations or centuries with the Operative Guild and sometimes identified with Rosicrucians. There are no Rosicrucian traces prior to 1578. Moreover, the alleged school is a notion arising out of a false construction of the Regius MS.

We are left in this manner with the Kabalistic element about which I have spoken plainly. But now, as a last point, supposing that there is no trace of Third degree prior to 1717, that after this epoch it was devised by a group of Masonic literati or alternatively by an anonymous brother, whether famous like Desaguliers, or obscure; what, then, is our position? My own at least is this: that the Third degree was formulated on the basis of the Ancient Mysteries and illustrated by the light of Kabalism: facts about which there is no open question; that it belongs as such to an old and secret tradition, though not in respect of time; that it stands on its own symbolical value and that, in the words of Martines de Pasqually: We must needs be content with what we have. As a student of the past, again I could wish that it were otherwise; but in this, as in all else, the first consideration is truth. There are high grades of Masonry for which no one in his senses predicates antiquity, and yet they are great grades. They are even holy grades, which, from my point of view, carry on the work of the Craft towards something that stands for completion. I conclude, therefore, with an affirmation which I have made in other places, that antiquary per se is not a test of value. I can imagine a rite created at this day which would be much greater and more eloquent in symbolism than anything that we work and love under the name of Masonry. Yet, for what Masonic antiquity is, let us call it two hundred years, under all needful reserves; such an invention would not have the hallowed and beloved associations which have grown about our Emblematic Craft. Here is the matter of antiquity which really signifies: it is part of the life of the Order. And after all the fables and all the fond reveries, the false analogies and mythical identifications with other and immemorial Mysteries, it is again the life which counts, the life of that great world-wide Masonic organism, in which we ourselves live and move and have our Masonic being.

Please send tour articles to for consideration


Posted in Education, Symbolism | Comments Off on Emblematic Freemasonry

Inauguration Day and the Washington Bible

gwbibleEvery year on April 30th, the Grand Lodge of New York conducts a reenactment of the Washington Inauguration in New York City but do you know the true story of the Bible used in the original ceremony?

The following text is taken from the St. John’s Lodge #1 website

St. John’s Lodge is the owner of the Bible.

“As one of the oldest Lodges in the United States of America, it is only fitting that our Altar Bible is an irreplaceable part of the fabric of American history.

On March 8th 1770, St. John’s Lodge suffered a catastrophic fire at its old Lodge room at Scotch Street. In addition to losing its earliest records and Lodge furnishings, the original Lodge Bible was destroyed in the conflagration.

On November 28th, 1770, the Master of the St. John’s, W:. Jonathan Hampton, presented a replacement Bible to the Lodge. At the time, printed Bibles were an expensive rarity and the Lodge was fortunate indeed to benefit from W:. Hampton’s generosity. Scarcely could the Brethren of the time have predicted that within a few short years the Colonies were to sever their ties with their mother country and the Bible was to become the very cornerstone of a new nation founded upon the Masonic principles of liberty and equality.

The Bible was printed by Mark Baskett, printer ny Royal Appointment to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, London 1767. The deep gold lettering, distinctly clear on both covers, displays this inscription:

“God shall establish; St. John’s Lodge constituted 5757; Burnt down 8th March, 5770; Rebuilt and opened November 28th, 5770. Officers then presiding: Jonathan Hampton, Master: William Butler, Senior Warden: Isaac Heron, Junior Warden.”

The Bible is the King James Version, complete with the Apocrypha and elaborately supplemented with the historical, astronomical and legal data of that period. It contains numerous artistic steel engravings portraying Biblical narratives from designs and paintings by old masters and engraved by the celebrated English artist, John Stuart.

After the conclusion of the War of Independence, New York City became the first Constitutional capital of the United States, and it was there on April 30th, 1789 that Brother George Washington was to be sworn in as the first President of the United States.

On a platform erected for the purpose, in front of the then City Hall, were gathered the Congress of the United States, with George Wash­ington and Chancellor Livingston, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York. In front of them was an immense concourse of citizens. It was indeed a great holiday occasion; the Revolutionary War was over and peace reigned throughout the country.

Everything was ready for the administration of the oath of office to the President of the new government, when it was discovered that a Holy Bible had not been provided on which the President-Elect could swear allegiance to the Constitution. Jacob Morton, who was Marshal of the parade, and at that time Master of St. John’s Lodge, was standing close by. Seeing the dilemma they were in, he remarked that he could get the altar Bible of St. John’s Lodge, which met at the Old Coffee House on the corner of Water and Wall Streets. Chancellor Livingston begged him to do so. The Bible was brought, and the ceremony proceeded. The stately Washington took his oath with his right hand resting on the Bible which had been opened to Genesis XLIX and L. His head bowed in a reverential manner, he added in a clear and distinct voice, “I swear, so help me God!” then bowing over this magnificent Bible, he reverently kissed it, whereupon Chancellor Livingston exclaimed in a ringing voice, “Long live George Wash­ington, President of the United States!”

To preserve the memory of this auspicious event, a page was inserted in the Bible with the following inscription:

“On this sacred volume, on the 30th day of April, A. L. 5789, in the City of New York, was administered to George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, the oath to support the Constitution of the United States. This important ceremony was performed by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, the Honorable Robert R. Livingston, Chancellor of the State.

Fame stretched her wings and with her trumpet blew.
Great Washington is near. What praise is due?
What title shall he have? She paused, and said
‘Not one – his name alone strikes every title dead.

The Bible has since been used at four other inaugurations: President Harding in 1921; President Eisenhower in 1953; President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and President George Bush Sr. in 1989. It was also to have been used for the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, but rain prevented its use. It has also been present at numerous public and Masonic occasions, including Washington’s funeral procession in New York, December 31st, 1799; the introduction of Croton water into New York City, October 14th, 1840; the dedication of the Masonic Temple in Boston, June 24th, 1867, and of that in Philadelphia on May 24th, 1869; the dedication of the Washington monument in Washington, February 21st, 1885 and its rededication in 1998; and the laying of the cornerstone of the Masonic Home at Utica on May 21st, 1891.

It was also used at the opening of the present Masonic Hall in New York on September 18, 1909, when St. John’s Lodge held the first meeting, and conferred the first Third Degree, in the newly completed Temple. More recently it featured at the World Fair in New York, has been displayed at the CIA Offices outside Washington D.C., and at the Famous Fathers & Sons exhibition at the George Bush Memorial Library outside Dallas, Texas in 2001.

The Bible is still in active use by the Lodge. When not being used by St. John’s Lodge or on tour, it is on display at Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York.


Posted in Education, History | Comments Off on Inauguration Day and the Washington Bible