Saturday, December 23, 2006
Within a company of friends,
I tread upon ambitious feet,
I trust the hand that leads me round,
For wise o'erseers to meet--
Strike! Once we pass.
The words of fellows long since gone,
Echo, coursing through our halls,
Sacred writ have they become,
To countless generations' souls--
Strike! Twice we pass.
Ascending up the grand stairway,
A lesson learned each step,
'Tis only here harmoniously,
That earth and heaven's wisdom's kept--
Strike! Thrice we pass.
'Twas here the first of all proclaimed:
This upright spiral knows no end.
Take, Work, Teach.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Apologies about aggregator confusion!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Charged with a duty to perform,
I stay alert, watching.
From eventime till bright next morn;
My fellows 'proach me, talking.
Hail Friend! I call and bid
Them 'vance and give the countersign.
This they do, I let them through,
Whe'er face is new, or hundredth time.
But if they fail, words cannot tell,
The fate which in them glowers.
Tis honor which hath 'stablished this,
And proves me in all hours.
For brother, son, friend, prince or king
I make not one exception.
But woodland creatures large and small
Are welcome to reception.
The First Step
Bound, cold, and alone,
Within the cell I wait,
To find my destiny.
Four years of training done,
The path ahead is straight,
Though scared, my heart is free.
Three raps, a soft echo,
Not one second late,
Two come to walk with me,
And take me to the gate.
Beyond, a vision rests,
Of life, love and tempest,
A cloistered gathering.
Ringing thrice the gong,
No more will I prolong,
The sacred primal chore.
Hark, yonder sir! I hear,
Step in this boat, and fear
No enemy nor foe,
Stay calm now as we row.
And to the isle we pass,
Moored safely, I proclaim,
Intent to join their ranks.
A firm but steady grasp,
To greater heights we aim,
And climb the steepened banks.
A solid slab of rock,
I'm cast down without shame,
And press my head in thanks,
To speak the oath and name,
With fellows of great fame.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Speaking of Google, have you tried the Masonic Light Search at the top left of the page? It pulls from a number of hand selected Masonic information websites to help give more relevant results on Masonic topics than a standard Google search.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Upgraded to Blogger Beta
Monday, December 04, 2006
Our Brother the "Jared of Wii"
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A Wii Mason Becomes Famous
The controller is giving people what is now affectionately termed "Wii Elbow", and the gaming has been determined to be quite a workout. Some people have even been injured! Nintendo did place proper warnings on games and many activities even include occasional reminders to take a break built into the product.
The Wall Street Journal has interviewed several individuals and published an article on it titled "A Wii Workout: When Video Games Hurt." What some of you may not know is that Ryan Mercer, quoted in their article is a Mason, and a member of Speedway, IN #729 F&AM.
Congratulations to Brother Ryan for becoming famous, and lets all hope his new video game workout program benefits him with good health.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Masonic Logo Clip-art
Click here to see the entire gallery.
Why did I make these? Well, I'm fed up with all of the ugly Masonic emblems floating around on the Internet. Most of the York Rite emblems, similar to the one seen here, are composed of four different styles of graphic that have been pasted together. Often times, the graphics have been scaled without resampling or anti-aliasing, leaving a choppy and jagged edge, and sometimes a graphic with an extraneous square border has been inserted into the circle, creating a circle within a square within a circle, where only a circle should exist. Also, people tend to skew the Square to an aspect ratio other than 90 degrees to fit it where they please. Masonry in the 19th century was beautifully illustrated with excellent craftsmanship, and I believe our modern Freemasonry should also be illustrated with good craftsmanship - in a clean, appealing manner - as it is presented on the web and through other modern technologies.
There is no longer an excuse for using sloppy, low resolution scanned images on Masonic websites. If you can't find what you need here, just ask me and I'll try to come up with the Masonic emblem that you need.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Virtual Lodge Tour
Here's a "still" preview picture of the furniture and widgets we've drawn up so far (click to enlarge):
I plan on making the furniture re-arrangeable to make it possible to represent variations between jurisdictions: for example, we are even designing a triangle 3-candle stand since some jurisdictions place all three of the tapers together.
Well, what do y'all think? A worthwhile endeavor?
Update: I've made the piano a smaller model so that the Senior Deacon's chair isn't forced to be out so far because of it, so now the candidates won't have to stub their toes. :-)
Friday, November 10, 2006
Chapter and Council
It was election of officers night for both bodies, and it seems that I timed my entry into York Rite just right. I was elected to the office of Scribe for Reames Chapter #28 for the ensuing capitular year (2007). This is quite unusual, as I understand it, but for good cause as I am trying to head up an effort to resurrect the York Rite bodies in Roseburg. For those unaware, the elected officers in Royal Arch are High Priest (termed Excellent), King, Scribe, Recorder, Treasurer, and Captain of the Host. This should provide me with experience necessary to help bring a Royal Arch Chapter back to Roseburg.
I have also been appointed as Senior Deacon in my Blue Lodge (Laurel #13) for the 2007 Masonic year, and our elections were held on Wednesday evening, following our Past Masters dinner, which went very well.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion. For here are inculcated disinterestedness, affection, toleration, devotedness, patriotism, truth, a generous sympathy with those who suffer and mourn, pity for the fallen, mercy for the erring, relief for those in want, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Here we meet as brethren, to learn to know and love each other. Here we greet each other gladly, are lenient to each other's faults, regardful of each other's feelings, ready to relieve each other's wants. This is the true religion revealed to the ancient patriarchs; which Masonry has taught for many centuries, and which it will continue to teach as long as time endures. If unworthy passions, or selfish, bitter, or revengeful feelings, contempt, dislike, hatred, enter here, they are intruders and not welcome, strangers uninvited, and not guests.
I enjoyed this little piece by Albert Pike. The application of Masonry to and as religion is one of the sweetest benefits to be had in Freemasonry (by those who are willing to receive it.) Masonry stays clear of the theological and salvific matters of Religion, and therefore is neither a Religion of its own, or the substitute for one, but as the handmaiden of Religion, a Brother should not be afraid to take up what it has to offer, sow it and reap a spiritual harvest from doing so.
My own religion is deeply Masonic (both on a personal level, and a historical level - me being a Mormon.) and I'm glad it is. The Masonic tenets of Liberty and Equality help to keep the whole system grounded for me, and allow me to avoid the type of vain pride that religionists can so easily become filled with and instead show genuine love and respect for all of my fellow beings.
Friday, October 20, 2006
1. How many people think Masonry requires monotheistic belief? Do certain Grand Jurisdictions have this as an official requirement?
2. How many Masons reading this are NOT monotheists? (I am not. I'm a henotheist)
3. What purpose would such a restriction be perceived to serve for the Good of Masonry?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Do we need to disassociate with OES?
The lodge looks simple on the outside, but walk up a flight of stairs and you will find yourself in an ornate meeting room.
A throne on the east wall sits below a pentagram adorned with Masonic symbols. The Worshipful Master -- the head of the lodge -- sits on the throne, according to Galloway.
I'm actually not one to stand up against Pentagrams. In fact, there was one on my own wedding invitation. But, I know a lot of good men would be put off by such a prominent depiction of a pentagram above a throne in a society they are considering joining. But wait, the Pentagram isn't part of the Masonic furnishings... The only thing I can think of, is that OES had an Eastern Star pentagram suspended above the Master's chair. Probably unlit, but it attracted preening eyes of the reporter more than the letter-G (most likely mounted above the pentagram). Since Lodge wasn't opened, neither one was lit. This has now been published and raises red flags for anyone who reads it and has only the popular understanding of the symbol in mind.
Should we try to disassociate with OES and get it out of our lodges? Or maybe we should require OES's pentagram to be draped with a covering when not in use so that it does not create confusion, nor distract from Masonic degree work.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
What is Freemasonry?
(Taken from http://kingsolomonslodge.org/freemasonry/what-is-it.php, where any comments on this article should also be posted.)
Freemasonry is often defined as a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. It is the oldest and largest fraternal order on the earth, and has in modern times, as well as in times of old, been a popular subject evoked in works of fiction and conspiracy theories. The aim of Masonry is to take good men and make them better. This aim is accomplished by teaching men what is expected of them as a member of The Craft by way of a special form of instruction using ancient rituals, which we call "degrees", which lay the candidate under solemn obligations, voluntarily assumed in the name of God, to perform those things required of them and abstain from those things prohibited by Masonry.
Because our obligations are taken in the name of God a man must possess belief in a Supreme Being in order to gain admission into the fraternity, but beyond this simple requirement Masonry places no further restriction or demand upon the religious beliefs of the individual candidate: His religion is his own business, however, Masonry does teach of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the Soul. Masonry is not a religion, nor should it ever become the substitute for religion, but it is often said to be the handmaiden of religion, and encourages the individual Mason to be active in his faith and live by the Volume of Sacred Law (Scriptures such as the Holy Bible, Koran, or other holy writings) of his own faith.
Many of our principal symbols derive from the working tools of the Operative Stone Masons guilds of the middle ages, but to the modern Speculative Freemason they are used to teach us moral lessons, for example: The common gavel is an instrument used by operative Masons to break off the rough and superfluous parts of stones, the better to fit them for the builder's use. But we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life: thereby fitting our minds as living stones for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The chief tenets of Masonry are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, and a Mason is taught to practice the four cardinal virtues: Temperence, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Masons come from all walks of life, and Masonic lodges exist in nearly every country of the world.
Candidates for Masonry must be free born, come under the tongue of good report, and be well recommended. The "free born" requirement is a relic from the days when slavery was common. It is important for a Mason to be free, because he must be able to make decisions for himself in order to be placed under the obligations of the fraternity. Additionally, a man must petition for the Degrees of Masonry by his own free will in order to be considered for membership: No one should ever be induced to become a Mason. If you are wondering why your friend, a member of the Lodge, has not asked you to join the fraternity, it is because that is not in the program: You must ask him, of your own free will, if you desire admission into the mysteries of our ancient and honorable order.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Chapter and Council Degrees
Prior to this I had gone through the Past Master degree. So I just completed the following degrees:
6° Most Excellent Master
7° Royal Arch
8° Royal Master
9° Select Master
The degree work was all good (though there was room for improvement). This was our Fall York Rite Festival, and was conferred at the Masonic Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon, so I look forward to attending my "home" Chapter and Council meetings for the first time in the near future. Unfortunately I have to miss this month's convocation because I have a unique opportunity to go camping in a cave that I need to do before it gets much colder.
The meanings and symbolism behind the York Rite degrees is rich and although I benefited from the degrees I know I have a lot to learn as I become more familiar with the ritual. I think doing more than one degree on the same day is unfortunate in that it is so hard to soak in all the information that is presented, especially as the day nears the end.
One little point that I find fascinating is the verb used to indicate ascention to each degree, and I haven't seen it documented anywhere very well except concerning the Blue Lodge degrees. I will list them here, to the best of my ability, with a little help from the Internet to supplement my forgetfulness:
Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason,
Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft,
Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason,
Advanced to the degree of Mark Master Mason,
Inducted into the Oriental Chair as a Past Master,
Received and Acknowledged a Most Excellent Master,
Exalted to the Most Sublime Degree of Royal Arch Mason.
I'm not sure if the Council degrees share the trait of having such a verb? At least, I do not recall any being used during our festival.
Renamed my Blog
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Calling all recognized Ancient Craft Masons...
Well, I'm calling for Recognized Masons to Yell Louder! There are probably many Masons out there who would actually be very great at running their own blog and sharing their thoughts and insights into Masonic education. I am not trying to declare a war on unrecognized Masonry, I am simply asking that those of you who are able to, please blog about YOUR Masonry, so that the statistics will begin to come back into the balance and accurately reflect the real world.
I will gladly assist any Masons who wish to begin an adventure in blogging to get started, just contact me by email or comment and I will do whatever I can to assist.
Lets spread the light of Ancient Craft Masonry - please do not take this as a message to bash on clandestine or unrecognized groups - that is FAR from my point, but rather demonstrate that genuine recognized Masonry is alive and well. At 95% we would take our rightful place as the defacto Internet voices of the craftsmen, and the other 5% would still be able to speak but their audience would be more deliberate instead of people generally seeking Masonic information.
We need more Masonic bloggers!
Note: I hold a certain amount of respect for those who are participating in some of those groups that are currently unrecognized. It must take some guts to take such a leap of faith, and I trust that the majority of them are decent men. However, on both sides of the fence some of the individuals and groups are lacking in judgment and are bringing discredit to the good name of the Fraternity. I value personal integrity very highly, and as such, I recommend that all Masons live up to every aspect of their Masonic obligations to the fullest extent possible. If everyone would do this, we would not even have this issue to begin with!
Friday, September 08, 2006
Masonic Square & Compasses by islesmay
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Thursday, August 31, 2006
Welcome "Guerilla Masonry"
I just wanted to give a quick shout out to the most recent blog added to the aggregator at www.KingSolomonsLodge.org, "Guerilla Masonry." It is not new, the first posts being from February 2006, but it somehow slipped under the radar when I was previously scouring for quality Masonic blogs. Lets show our support for this brother's efforts by making a special effort to read his posts and help catch him up on the late start here.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
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Monday, August 21, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Anyway, we had a great time talking and it was just very relaxing after an evening of degree rehearsal.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Psalm 133 (A Song of degrees of David.)
Jack Chick Reading List
- Arthur Edward Waite - occult writer and Masonic historian.
- Dr. Wynn Westcott - member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and founding member of the occult Order of the Golden Dawn.
- S. L. MacGregor Mathers - co-founder of the Golden Dawn.
- Aleister Crowley - master satanist of this century and founder of the anti-christ religion of Thelema.
- Dr. Gerard Encaussé - (Papus) masterful author, teacher of the Tarot and leader of the occult Martinistes society.
- Dr. Theodore Reuss - head of the O.T.O., a German occult/satanic society which made Crowley its head for the British Isles.
- George Pickingill - the master warlock (male witch) of 19th century England, leader of the "Pickingill covens."
- Annie Besant - leader of the occult Theosophical society and Co-Masonic hierarch. (Yes, there are female Masons!)
- Alice Bailey - founder of the New Age organization, Lucis (formerly Lucifer) Trust.
- Bishop C. W. Leadbetter - Theosophist, mentor to the failed New Age "Christ", Krishnamurti, and prelate in the occult Liberal Catholic Church.
- Manly P. Hall - Rosicrucian adept, author, founder of the Philosophical Research Society.
- Gerald B. Gardner - founder of the modern Wiccan (white Witchcraft) revival.
- Alex Sanders - self-styled "King of the Witches" in London and one of the most influential leaders of Wicca after Gardner.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Masonic Information Updated
I have just done extensive reworking of the Masonic Information section available through the links in the upper right portion of www.kingsolomonslodge.org.
I would encourage you all to read through it to help me improve its content. I know there is still much room for improvement, for example, I would like eventually to have short degree summaries available for as many of the rites and bodies as possible.
I am at this time keeping the "Masonic Information" section limited to bodies concordant, appendant, and open to members of regular (recognized) Craft Masonry as defined by general consensus of the United States Grand Lodges. (Meaning that Prince Hall is considered recognized.)
There is also room for a Comment thread at the bottom of each page, which I am experimenting with.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Envoy Cites Tyre - Jerusalem Biblical Ties
Wow, old King Hiram got in the news!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Some New Masonic Vocabulary
GRAND EAST: The place where the Grand Lodge holds its communications and from which place the edicts are issued. (Definition from http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/masonicdictionary.htm )
But today I read something about "Grand West"
After some research, the meaning seems to be either of these, depending on the jurisdiction:
1) The Deputy Grand Master, or Grand Senior Warden.
2) ALL of the Past and Sitting Masters of any Lodge, or (and perhaps the same people), the Voting Members of a Grand Lodge.
What if "The Solomon Key" does something else?
What if Dan Brown's upcoming book, tenatively titled "The Solomon Key," spurs support for some controversial history or controversial interpretations of Masonry that some of the Brethren accept, while some are indifferent, and others fervently reject? Many people have been wondering what the fraternity will do to handle the publicity, in order to capitalize on it and reap the harvest of those men whom it may attract to the Fraternity.
However, if "The Da Vinci Code" has taught us anything, it seems to have divided opinions of the Christians (whose own history was the subject) right down the middle. Many people heralded the message of The Da Vinci Code, and encouraged study of Brown's, and other alternative views of their history, while many more have treated it as a heretical view, necessary to be defended against.
This disagreement had all the potential to create a schism in Christianity, except for one thing - Christianity is already schismed. There are so many churches and many of them recognize each other, but they agree to disagree on many of the finer points of their doctrine and theology.
Freemasonry, at least in the United States, is not schismed in this manner. Or, rather, any schism that exists is unbalanced, because the "regular" Grand Lodges outweigh any other competing system by an incredibly enormous amount. So what if the content of this book presents something which gains equally strong opposing views by members of The Craft? Views that some of the Brethren will welcome as a valid attraction for new candidates, and others will utterly reject as "clandestine views" (or, "heretical", as it may be.)
If this happens, will we be prepared to maintain harmony within the Lodge? Can we respect our fellow brethren, if they think things, and even encourage things different than our own personal views? Can we survive through a 50/50 split opinion on a popular and relevant topic?
I'm making no claims as to what the issue itself might be, merely looking at Dan Brown's track record, and he sure seems to know how to pull the right strings.
If you haven't already, you may want to listen to X-Oriente #005 The Perfect Storm in connection with this post, as it was part of my inspiration to write this.
Lesser Light in the Court
Everyone did arise while the Judge entered the room, so there was a little bit of ceremonial left.
What's with the lack of a gavel? Is this some type of Counter-Conspiracy? I feel sort of sleighted.
Monday, August 07, 2006
UGLA's childish statements
‘Antient’ Freemasonry is the most common form of Freemasonry found throughout the United States. It is a social fraternity composed primarily of men aged sixty-five and older that collects monies for its various charities.
I am twenty five years old. I have rarely if ever seen our Blue Lodge collect monies for "various charities."
It is perhaps most easily identified by Shriners wearing their red rhinestone covered fez's collecting money at intersections. In many areas of the country it is divided along racial lines with African American Freemasons not being recognized as legitimate Masons.
I have never seen anyone wear a red fez in my Blue Lodge. The Shrine Club is an appendant body, which should stand on its own merits and have its own identity. "In many areas of the country" is misleading. There are a few of the southern states that are not yet racially integrated, but the majority of Grand Lodges in the U.S. are racially integrated. I have in fact sat in Lodge with racially diverse Brethren, and I am in one of the "whitest" towns in the country.
Its membership is predominantly protestant in religious orientation, and in some areas of the country it is relatively intolerant of other faiths.
I missed the memo on this one. I am a Mormon, and an unusual one at that. I heard that Masonry makes no requirement of a Man's religious faith except that he have belief in a Supreme Being. I have never seen this violated, and in fact, I do not even know the specific denomination or creed of most of my Lodge Brethren. I only assume they are mostly Christian because we are in a place where most people are Christians. On the other hand, I also assume that there are more non-Christians in Masonry in Oregon proportionally than other groups, because we are more welcoming and tolerant of people of other faiths.
Yes, we have appendant bodies, and some of them have prerequisites, and some of them are invitational. However, the prerequisites are in terms of degrees attained and service rendered to the fraternity, not Masonic titles.
'Antient' Freemasonry has many appendant bodies such as the York and Scottish Rites, and others too numerous to mention. Many of these are by invitation only and usually require that you have a lengthy list of Masonic titles associated with your name before being invited into membership.
Joining 'Antient' Freemasonry is much easier than either Co-Masonry or 'Modern' Freemasonry. Many of the 'Antient' Grand Lodges hold "All the way in a day classes" where you can join in the morning and be a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason by the end of the day. If you are looking for a unique and inexpensive social club you may want to consider learning more about 'Antient' Freemasonry.
I abhor the idea of one day classes, and give my condolances to the brethren who have to put up with them, and those who pass through them. I consider Masonry far more than a social club. And, I see it as entirely un-Masonic to advertise it as a social club and refer people to a list of Lodges as has been done on this site. The UGLA seems not to be demonstrating brotherly love, but rather, childish bitterness or vengeance towards the Brethren of a fraternity that has obviously offended them in some way. They must not even care about recognition, or they would not be characterizing traditional Freemasonry in such a poor manner. Fortunately, the type of boys who would schism from the fraternity instead of seeking to make it better
are exactly the type we don't need in our ranks. We're looking for Masons, who are interested in working stones and making them fit for the builder's use. If the stone was already perfect, there would be no need for workmen in the quarries.
I am proud to be a Mason, and I feel honored to be currently going through the York Rite. I am part of an ancient heritage, and although there is much error and poor judgment in the way Freemasonry is handled, yet there are many things perfect. I want to improve the Fraternity, and that starts by helping our Brethren to improve themselves in Masonry.
I hope the UGLA does succeed in some measure. Having competition out there will be good for Masonry in the United States. It may give us strengthened motivation to step up to the challenge and be good and true ancient Masons.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Masonic "Clubs" and Masons-at-Heart
1. The idea of Masonic "clubs" existing at Universities. Not Lodges, not able to confer any degree work, but with Masonry as a topic, and welcoming those interested to learn more about its history. Contrast this with the typical college fraternities. This seems like an excellent idea to open the knowledge of the fraternity to young people who would be interested in learning of it.
2. If I remember correctly, it was stated that the GL of Illinois receives somewhere around 15 emails a week from people online who are interested in the Masonic fraternity. And, most of these are in the age of 18 to 30. This tells us where our ripe avenue of anxious Mason-at-heart are waiting. We need to tap this resource as a fraternity.
The X-Oriente podcast is excellent, and shows that some hard work and dedication went into making it, and I encourage all of you to listen to it as you have time.
Podcasts and the Lodge
Does anyone else think this would be a good idea, or a neat way to get some of the less technically inclined Brethren to have cravings to participate online?
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
New Atom Feed for Freemasons
King Solomon's Lodge - Path to Masonic Blogs
I'm also proud to announce that we have two high quality Masonic podcasts syndicated in the aggregator, as well. Enjoy!
Monday, July 31, 2006
King Solomon's Lodge Aggregator
The qualifications are:
- No blogs comprised of Anti-Masonic rhetoric will be included.
- These blogs should often contains posts about subjects of Masonic interest.
- I'm not so concerned about "regularity" in the listings here, as Masons can make those determinations according to their own local processes.
There are many angles by which one could approach this. First, the offering the text of the degrees for money to anyone who comes along seems to go against the spirit of the first degree obligation, although the digital format is perhaps considered by some to be technically outside the domain of such tangible written materials. No matter how you work it, it is creating an opportunity for someone to obtain the remaining ritual secrets of Masonry, as a "prize", if they are able to locate just one secret elsewhere. Second, it has already been done. The ritual is out. It's all over the net for anyone who tries hard enough to find it, not to mention being published in numerous books. The difference? If you engage in this type of action, it is upon your head. Being true to your obligations is about personal integrity and character, something that you can never lose by someone else divulging their secrets, nor by everyone else in the world knowing these secrets, but only by you doing so yourself. While these are concerns, I'm interested in focusing here on that "one" secret that can be used to obtain all the others.
On the way out to our Lodge picnic, we passed through three gates on an access road to get to the old Masonic park which our Lodge owns. Joking, it was suggested that we set up a little box at each gate with a rubber hand concealed in it, where one must give the appropriate grip in order for the gate to be automatically unlocked and opened.
My objection to both of these ideas is similar: If you test someone mechanically, they can try and try until they get it right. Also, there is no human discernment involved, which could become wary and fend off such a cowan without ever even engaging in the test.
Extending this further, let us presume for the sake of argument that the word of an Entered Apprentice is Aardvark (a neutral word, I hope, as it is obviously not employed in such a manner by any order.) The problem is, if a cowan or eavesdropper comes along and says: "I know the word is Aardvark, and it is my intention to let every man know this." And you come along after and say, "Do not reveal this Masonic secret, it is direspectful, dishonorable, etc.," what have you done? You have done nothing but confirm the accuracy of his claim. Was he the one who revealed the secret? No. He has no secret to reveal, since he did not acquire it under a solemn obligation, (or if he did, it was feigned), but you are under obligation, and by confirming his exposure, you become the one who has truly revealed a Masonic secret. The honorable thing to do is that which is taught in the charges: Ignore them utterly. On the other hand, you should not engage in any type of guessing or disavowing game, either. If another comes and says the word is actually Chicken, and you say, "The word is not Chicken." You are only aiding the cowan in making advances towards the correct word. This "Chicken" argument is a matter which also requires discernment, because sometimes the claim can be so wildly outrageous that it is impossible, and perhaps no harm at all could come from setting someone straight, or setting that persons audience straight, at least. Usually in such a case, however, the fact that the word presented is false is readily apparent to anyone with any sense of discernment at all, so maybe it is better left untouched, so that the supposed exposer may be free to embarass himself and lose credibility entirely through his own actions.
Perhaps the Masonic Secrets can never truly be revealed. Being the embodiment of good character and integrity, as soon as one undertakes to expose them they become immediately lost to that person and only a hollow shell remains.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Masonry as a Refuge
Monday, July 24, 2006
Glimpses of Masonic History
To the occult student Masonry has also another aspect, of the greatest importance ... It is not only a wonderful and intricate system of occult symbols enshrining the secrets of the invisible worlds; it has also a sacramental aspect which is of the utmost beauty and value not only to its initiates but to the world at large. The performance of the ritual of each degree is intended to call down spiritual power, first to assist the Brother upon whom the degree is conferred to awaken within himself that aspect of consciousness which corresponds to the symbolism of the degree, as far as it can be awakened; secondly to aid in the evolution of the members present; and thirdly and most important of all, to pour out a flood of spiritual power intended to uplift, strengthen and encourage all members of the Craft.This particular section, to me, is reminiscent of the explanation of magickal gestures in Initiation into Hermetics which I recommended in a previous post, and I think they are essentially teaching the same principle, which I myself endorse as accurate. Both of these books are "must-read" items for the mystic Mason, as far as I'm concerned, but they must be read with discernment because they may also contain much erroneous information. We must sift those things of the most value out from it.
Some years ago I undertook an investigation into the hidden side of the sacraments of the Catholic Church ... the shedding abroad of spiritual power is one great object of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and of other services ... by the invocation of an Angel to build a spiritual temple in the inner worlds ... and the charge of that temple with the enormous power called down at the consecration of the Sacred Elements. A somewhat similar result is achieved during the ceremonies performed by the Masonic Lodge, although the plan is not exactly the same, being indeed far older; and each of our rituals, when properly carried out, likewise builds a temple in the inner worlds, through which the spiritual power called down at the initiation of the candidate is stored and radiated. Thus Masonry is seen, in the sacramental sense as well as the mystical, to be "an art of building spiritualized," and every Masonic Lodge ought to be a channel of no mean order for the shedding of spiritual blessing over the district in which it labours.
Sometimes orders and rites which were once channels of great force have admitted, as the years passed by, Brethren less worthy than their predecessors - Brethren who thought more of their own gain than of service to the world. In such cases the spiritual powers associated with those grades were either entirely withdrawn by the [Gods] to be introduced later into some other and more suitable group, or allowed to remain dormant until more fitting candidates should be found to hold them worthily - the bare succession passing down and transmitting, as it were, the seeds of the power, although the power itself was largely in abeyance.
On the other hand, there have been cases in which a rite or grade has been manufactured by a student who wished to throw some great truth into ceremonial form, but knew little of all this inner side of Masonry; if such a degree or rite were doing useful work and attracting suitable candidates, sacramental powers fitted for that rite or grade were sometimes introduced into it, either by some Brother on the physical plane who possessed one of the lines of succession mentioned above, which was then adapted by the [Gods] for the work, or by a direct and non-physical interference from behind.
Furthermore, the inner effect of a given degree, even in a rite that may be fully valid, may vary greatly with the ... Brother upon whom it is conferred; so that in one case, let us say, the 33° would confer stupendous spiritual power, and in another, less worthy, the powers given would be much smaller, because of the candidate's incapacity to respond fully to them. In such cases a fuller degree of power will manifest itself as greater advancement is made in the development of character. It also appears to be possible for power to be temporarily withdrawn in cases of evil-doing by one of the Brethren, and to be restored later when the evil-doing has ceased.
... the chief lines of Masonic tradition - those which are of the greatest inner or spiritual value - are the Craft degrees, upon which all other grades are superimposed, the Mark and the Arch degrees, and the chief degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the 18°, 30° and 33°. Other degrees ... have their own peculiar powers ... but the grades which I have mentioned are those which are considered by the [Gods] to be of the greatest value to our present generation ... Another line of great interest, though very different ... is ... the rites of Memphis and Mizraim, which are relics in their occult power, although not in their form, of perhaps the very oldest Mysteries existing upon earth. These too have their part to play in the future, as in the past, and they have therefore been preserved and transmitted to us in the present day.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
The Paradox of Masonic East
Monday, July 17, 2006
Wearing Your Lambskin Apron
"A Freemason's apron must be made of Lambskin. No other substance, such as linen, silk or satin could be substituted without entirely destroying the emblematical character of the apron, for the material of the Freemason's apron constitutes one of the most important symbols of his profession." -- Albert C. Mackey
My wife is a bit jealous of Masonry. She wants a rite that she can participate in, filled with enthusiasm and at least moderately young women. OES and Amaranth don't appeal to her in any way - she sees them as groups of old ladies who like to dress up in gowns. She wants something that Women can run on their own, that has benefits akin to a ritual fraternity, but with a feminine appeal. I should be clear here that she does not want Co-Masonry, as she considers it clandestine and doesn't think women want the same type of rite as men. Does anyone know of any groups that might meet her needs? In the meantime, she has begun a purposeful social study of the one thing she knows attracts young women: Wicca. By studying Wicca, she hopes to dissect it and learn what it is that attracts the fairer sex to it, in order to blatantly borrow these items, gut out the religious aspects of it that cause it to have conflict with adherants to other faiths, and use what is left as a foundation upon which to build the sorority which she seeks after.
If anyone else is interested in helping her, or knows of anything remotely close to meeting this "need", she'll be keeping an eye on the comments to this post.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Where do you find your Masonic home?
I haven't yet completed the degrees of Royal Arch Masonry, so I do not know what it is like to sit in a regular Chapter meeting yet. I am curious if anyone out there has an exceptionally strong Chapter, Council, or any other Masonic body besides Blue Lodge that they consider to be their "home" in the Fraternity, and that they might want to share some feelings/experiences on?
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Masonic Color Analysis
In our Masonic journey we figuratively start in a "condition of darkness" and in answer to our desire for light we are given Blue Light, as Blue is the principal color of the three degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry.
If we proceed to the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, colloquially known as "Red Lodge", we are met with the next level of light.
Combining these two lights together, the Council of Cryptic Masons gives us Purple, and a binary pattern is confirmed.
White could be understood as the Celestial Lodge Above, where the Great White Throne may be found. But my question for the contemplative Mason is: Where are the Green, Teal, and Yellow Lodges?
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I just read the above blog article and it is sad to admit it but David is right about this. [ Even if he does belong to some clandestine group that admits women ;) ] Historically, I bet the Rite of Perfection (Scottish Rite's grandaddy rite) was a pretty good system, but it has certainly become a McRite today. I wonder if the younger generation will be able to take back some of these things and make them workable again? Who has the levels of charisma and bravery necessary to do what Albert Pike did in his day, over again today, to fix Scottish Rite? I don't see enough left TO fix... so it certainly isn't me. I would assist in giving it proper burial, however.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I'm largely materialistic in my religion, but this book spoke to me on the subject in a way that made me open my mind to the possibility of some unseen force at work and simultaneously reinforcing to me the importance of upholding our ancient customs.
I may post in more detail on this at some later date, but I find the assertion that gestures and finger positions constitute ritual, or rather, that ritual and gestures are one and the same thing, to be a key that can unlock some of the mysticism of Freemasonry.
Exposure vs. Proselyting
What is the answer that is in the best interests of the Fraternity? Increased membership isn't necessarily a good thing. We need high-quality Masons, it really doesn't matter how many there are, as long as there are enough to open a Lodge. On the other hand, what a delight it would be to have more worthy and well qualified Brethren to be initiated.
2B1ASK1 - Annoying?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Masonic Stickers for Websites
Blue/Ancient Craft Lodge, Royal Arch Chapter, Council of Cryptic Masons, Commandery of Knights Templar, Allied Masonic Degrees
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, Consistory), and Scottish Rite Research Society
I found two free tools on the web that I used as the basis for creating these buttons, Dynamic Drive Button Maker, and Brilliant Button Maker.
I recommend making these buttons link to the web site of the particular body you are a member of, or to the Grand or Supreme whatever if your local body doesn't have a site.
If you need a button for another Masonic body, let me know here and I will consider doing it.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Giving York Rite a Chance
I had a new Master Mason engage in conversation with me about the appendant bodies. I mentioned that I was interested in York Rite (I hadn't yet started, at that time). His initial response felt negative. He seemed to have the impression that it was some weird, deviant form of Masonry, or something. Perhaps he had the impression that it was "unamerican." As we continued to talk he listened to what I had to say, and he realized that both are acceptable Masonic paths. Ironically, our Blue Lodge uses the York Rite version of the Craft Degrees. The ritual format, wording, etc., is entirely consistent between the EA, FC, and MM degrees and the Mark Master degree that I just went through, where Scottish Rite's format is entirely different, and the York Rite in some places referred to as "The American Rite."
Let me clarify that different isn't necessarily an indicator of good or bad. I think both Scottish and York Rite have their places. From what I've read, they teach in different ways and they cover different subjects. Your own particular tastes and interests may lead you to advance in Masonry in one way or the other. Neither should these two routes be seen as the only ways to pursue Masonry further.
So why is Scottish Rite more prevalent in my area?
I can speculate on that. It isn't because its a better rite. It may be because the degrees are easier to put on (Scottish Rite seems to require far less in the way of officers in order to put on their ritual), and it is a faster way to move people through a rite in order to achieve a purpose that has in recent years been fulfilled in another way: To get people into the Shrine Club.
This in itself is not a bad thing. Shrine does much noble work and helps many people. I just ran into an electrical burn victim last night who was helped by the Shrine hospital. Actually, he asked me for a petition for Lodge, which means he has recognized the good work done by Masonry and he wants to contribute back into it, and be in that company.
Shrine has solved the problem of using the Quick-route of Scottish Rite by removing their haut-grade requirements: One only needs to be a Master Mason now (3rd degree) to enter Shrine, instead of a Knights Templar York Rite Mason or 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.
So, historically the problem was complicated: Knights Templar is considered the most "Christian" of the Masonic degrees, and involves the taking of an oath to defend the Christian religion. While Scottish Rite, in its present incarnation, includes Christian symbolism, it puts no such obligation on its candidates. Knights Templar in York Rite, although the last of the sequence of degrees, is not necessarily essential to thoroughly enjoying York Rite. So far, I have not opted to petition for it: I am going to take the degrees of the Royal Arch Chapter, and the Council of Cryptic Masons first, then I will consider and decide if I am going to continue with Knights Templar. At this point, I'm honestly leaning towards a "No" answer on that.
Obviously, for someone wanting to enter the Shrine, especially a non-Christian or someone uncomfortable with that particular obligation, this made a serious choice FOR them. To get to Shrine, Scottish Rite was the acceptable way. Also, Scottish Rite has become quicker, because it has been simplified in the Southern Jurisdiction to only a few required degrees with the others being optional. This means about 4 or 5 additional degrees, which are mostly acted out for you while you watch as an "audience", and you would have passed the requirement and could be admitted into Shrine.
York Rite was more participatory, and had more degrees to go through, with no skipping degrees (except for the Council being optional). At a minimum, I think this would be six degrees beyond the Master Mason degree before you could participate in Shrine.
Scottish Rite, recognizing their place on this ladder, wanted to facilitate the numbers and give something to the people going through it so they have simplified their degrees to make it easier to go through and perhaps in an effort to make the lessons more readily tangible. In the process, I feel that they have removed much of the "meat" from their work, relinquishing it to the textbooks (Morals and Dogma, Clausen's Commentaries, Bridge to Light, etc.)
This has all been resolved in the Shrine Club's decision to make their membership requirement be that of Master Mason only. Now, what do we have left over?
Essentially, the three bodies now stand as options to a Mason, doors that may be unlocked. They will unlock these doors only if they are genuinely interested in what is inside of them (or if they want to attend the banquets associated with them.) The Scottish Rite should be using this as an opportunity to add meat back into their ritual. I hope they do. The people who want to get into Shrine can now do so, which means we should be left with very sincere people joining both Scottish and York Rite, because they want to.
So, I think it is primarily a historical reason that Scottish Rite came out as the "winner" in my city as far as numbers are concerned. There is no reason someone cannot pursue both rites. And if someone has the time, and inclination, it would probably be good for them to do so.
I want to encourage people in areas where one rite dominates to give the other rite a chance. It is well worth the added effort to travel in order to receive these degrees which share in the antiquity of our Masonic heritage.
Having the Rite Attitude
The option is left to the Worshipful Master of the Lodge to decide to take or leave. I want to say: If this or anything similar crops up, leave it alone. It may be very beneficial to do BOTH the Lecture and the Test. But to drop the Lecture serves No Good Purpose.
IT seems that this was originally touted as a way to encourage people to (or at least to avoid deterring people from) becom(ing) Candidates for the Degrees of Masonry. It was as if this would make us get more members. (A concern, that I feel, may be misplaced to begin with.)
From inside the Fraternity, we have a skewed view of this process. We realize that candidates DO have to recite these catechisms. Most candidates do not. They have never heard of any such thing, until they are already in the door.
What this may do, is move people who are stagnating on the EA degree up to Fellowcraft and Master Mason more quickly. This would allow them full fellowship and participation with their Lodge. I see this as a noble goal. But, if we are trying to make them our Brother, shouldn't we be willing to spend time with them -- enormous amounts of time, if that's what it takes -- to help teach them the Catechism? I've never seen a Worshipful Master reject a proficiency when the Brother gives it his sincere effort and demonstrates that he has learned as best as he can what was required of him.
Masonry is largely ritualistic in its teaching form. Ritual has bonded us together since time immemorial, and it will be ritual that keeps us together for another one. Fraternal orders and social clubs come and go, but Masonry lives on. If we want to be like all the rest, we need to be prepared to go, to perish at some time. If we want to continue living, we need to keep with that thing that sets us apart from the rest, and provides our strength and support. That type of harmony is obtained through having a common experience, a common bond, with common cares. Lets have the rite attitude about this: I am speaking primarily to the younger generation of Masons, like myself (I am 25). Be careful not to destroy that which our ancient Brethren so carefully preserved for us.
(Also, be careful and serious about who we ballot in to Lodge, so that we continue to get men of good character.)
Origins of Masonry
There are certain parts of Masonry that are pretty well determined to be modern additions. Modern in this sense, meaning anything around A.D. 1700 or later. The entire Legend of Hiram Abiff seems to be one of these things. However, I would like to suggest that because Masonry -- being the Handmaiden of religion - and a very religious group (although not a religion, note the disctinction) -- because Masonry has held true to these old customs and faithfully preserved things of God, they may have been blessed with further inspiration from Above. Either individually, or collectively, I believe Masonry's history has been divinely inspired and divinely approved. In many Jurisdictions, the Lodge is opened with a prayer containing something like this request:
"Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us, so harmonize and enrich our hearts with Thine own love and goodness, that the Lodge, at this time, may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before Thy throne."
Could it be, that so many brethren, praying so unceasingly for their Lodge to reflect the GAOTU's own order and beauty, might actually be answered?
I say it might, and probably has, and probably will continue to be answered, if our prayers are sincere.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Welcome to the "King Solomon's Lodge" Blog
At the time of writing this, I am a Mark Master in the York Rite of Masonry, having just been advanced to that degree two days ago (Thursday the 29th of June, 2006) at Reames Chapter #28
in Grants Pass, Oregon. I am a member of Laurel Lodge #13 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Oregon, where, three years ago, I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason (on January 29, 2003.) I am excited about the new path I have started down with the York Rite.
I'll be posting all of my most intriguing Masonic thoughts which are fit for publication on this blog, so stay tuned.