Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Spiral

The Spiral, by Jeff Day

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!

I need to apologize, for the past ten days or so, KingSolomonsLodge.org has been having troubles with the way it was caching articles, making it appear to some people (depending on the exact url you were viewing the site with) that no new articles were showing up. This has been corrected, and I admonish you to please re-read all the articles from December 10th up until today that you may have missed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Sentinel

The Sentinel, by Jeff Day

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

The First Step, by Jeff Day

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

Masonic News

I'd like to remind everyone to keep an eye on the useful "Freemasonry in the News" tap that is available on the home page of KingSolomonsLodge.org It's in the right hand column about half way down the page. It pulls a list of the most relevant recent articles from real online newspapers that mention Freemasonry, Scottish Rite, or York Rite, kindly provided by our friends at Google.

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

I just upgraded ALL of my blogs to Blogger Beta. I also added a Library feature on my sidebar here to showcase some of the Books that at least *I* find to be Masonic.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Our Brother the "Jared of Wii"

I recently posted on Brother Ryan Mercer's Wii gaming experience. Well, today he's attained one more level of fame by being featured in an interview with Forbes. Check it out!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Wii Mason Becomes Famous

Some of you may have heard of the recent response to the Wii, the latest console gaming system released by Nintendo.

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

I have created a smattering of Masonic clip art logos that some of you Brethren may find useful. They are available in Flash 8 format as vectors that can be exported smoothly at whatever size is required, and also in 200 pixel wide PNG format with white backgrounds, and 800 pixel wide transparent GIF format suitable for printing.

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

With the help of my wife, I have started a project to make a Virtual "Lodge Tour" on the web. I know this sort of thing has been done before, but I'm trying to think in more ambitious terms... As a web developer with some skill at doing interactive interfaces, I am planning to make a Lodge room that can be manipulated and explored on the web that will serve to acquaint a person with Freemasonry as well as its various appendant organizations.

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

Tonight I went down to Grants Pass for Chapter (Reames #28) and Council (Rogue #23). It was my first time attending since the York Rite Festival in Cottage Grove on September 29th, and thus my first time attending either body as a regular meeting and not as a candidate for the degrees. Nevertheless, I went to work immediately, serving as the Steward pro-temps for Council (which was held first, following a potluck) and then as the Scribe pro-temps for Chapter.

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

Masonic Religion

Excerpt from Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike, Chapter XIII. Royal Arch of Solomon
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

Freemasonry: Monotheistic?

I was recently present at an investigative committee review of a new candidate for Masonry. An interesting question came up, "Are you monotheistic?" This shocked me. The real question, traditionally is "Do you believe in a Supreme Being?" There is a big difference between these two questions. After some dialogue with the candidate, the conclusion was reached that yes he believes there is a "head honcho" and that this satisfied the requirement.

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

Heredom Archive

Here's an archive of short excerpts from the previous issues of "Heredom" - the journal of the Scottish Rite Research Society. There is a Membership level in SRRS open to anyone, whether Mason or non-Mason. Their publications are fascinating, and I recommend it to any brother looking for a little more Masonic light.

Heredom Archive

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Do we need to disassociate with OES?

Darren Simpson's Blog quoted an article by James Downing that I found interesting. However, I was a bit distressed by this portion of the reporter's description of the Lodge room:
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

I completed the remainder of my Chapter and Council Degrees on Friday, September 29, 2006.

Prior to this I had gone through the Past Master degree. So I just completed the following degrees:

Chapter:

6° Most Excellent Master
7° Royal Arch

Council:

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

I've renamed my personal Masonic blog from "King Solomon's Lodge" (informally King Solomon's Blog) to "Lodgical" thus allowing the title King Solomon's Lodge to be dedicated solely to the blog aggregator. The main URL will remain the same as it has been, but for those three of you who have subscribed to my feed, the feed address has changed:

Posts Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Lodgical
Comments Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/LodgicalComments

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Calling all recognized Ancient Craft Masons...

I'm a bit concerned that the Internet today isn't reflecting the Masonic reality. Why? There is a disproportionate amount of what Timothy Bonney at Freemasonry Resources calls Fake Masonry, in fact, it feels to me that the Masonic blogosphere is about 30% of this flavor and 70% Recognized Masonry, when in reality the number of recognized Freemasons in the english speaking countries probably dwarfs the others at around 99%. If you were only going by Grand Lodges in the US alone, there are approximately 70 recognized Grand Lodges (counting Prince Hall) that are highly active and no more than 4 (and I'm being generous) unrecognized Grand Lodges that are also very active. That's still 95% recognized. The Internet gives voice to whoever writes on it. Google does not discriminate. KingSolomonsLodge.org has chosen to discriminate ONLY on informational content and not on recognition in order to avoid politics and verifying recognition and authorship at the listed blogs. Yahoo!, MSN, blogspot, Wordpress, etc... They do not discriminate. And this means that whoever yells the loudest looks the biggest.

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

A Mug

My wife and I have been designing some merchandise on Zazzle, and I decided to do a couple of pieces for my Masonic Brethren:
Masonic Square & Compasses mug
Masonic Square & Compasses by islesmay
Get this custom mug at Zazzle

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Welcome "Guerilla Masonry"

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.

KingSolomonsLodge.org Email Subscription

For those who prefer email over feedreaders, or don't yet know or intend to know what a feedreader is, King Solomon's Lodge - The Path to Masonic Blogs is now available by Email subscription!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogger Recent Comments

For anyone who has been feeling jealous of my Recent Comments sidebar module, a feature which is scarce to be achieved with Blogger, I am pleased to announce that it is now freely available for anyone using Blogger from this site. Just sign up, go to Recent Comments for Blogger, click "Add", copy and paste the generated address into your Blog's "Comment Notification Email" and copy and paste the Javascript snippet into your Blog Template. That's it! Enjoy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Past Master

Tonight I received the Past Master degree in York Rite (August 21, 2006). It was better than I expected. I had relatively low expectations for it, basing my knowledge off of the Public Installation of Officers for Blue Lodge that I have witnessed. It was a little more involved. Kudos to our long departed Brother Thomas Smith Webb who first incorporated this ceremony into York Rite, for improving it to the point where it can rightly be considered a degree of its own.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Masonic Fellowship

Last night, I went over to one of my Masonic brother's homes with another Lodge member. We kicked back, shared stories, and had a good time. There was some beer involved on their part -- I don't drink, and I was pleased that they respected my choice and provided me with a nice vanilla soda. Being men with integrity and morals, I knew I could count on them to respect my own decisions, and don't think I would have even gone if it had been with anyone other than my lodge Brethren.

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

Was cruising over Jack Chick's anti-Masonic material, and ran across a list of names, which he claimed are occultists or sorcerers in the Masonic fraternity. While I cannot vouch for all or any of this information, I thought to myself: Geez, this looks like a good reading list of charismatic, and unique authors, whether or not they are all Masons, and at least some of them are. Remember, I do not take responsibility for the statements made in this list, it is attributed to chick.com:
  • 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 Encauss√© - (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.
A fascinating list. I would argue that the Masons in this list indeed, for the most part, bring credit rather than discredit to the Craft. Not to mention that they help keep all the fudies scared away from our ranks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Masonic Information Updated

Greetings Brethren,

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.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some New Masonic Vocabulary

I heard some new Masonic terms, and I thought I'd share them. The more common one first, which many of you may already be familiar with:

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?

I'm going to play a game of "What if?":

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

I went to court today to give my plea concerning a speeding ticket. I was sad to see that the court room was not at all like the ones depicted on TV, with all the beautiful woodwork and paneling. But most of all, I was amazed that a gavel was not used in this court to rap people down.

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

I was reading a page, written by the new "UGLA", that has been getting some press in the blogs lately, at http://www.modernfreemasons.org/choices.htm and I feel a need to respond to it:
‘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.

'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.

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.
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

I was listening to back-episodes of The X-Oriente Podcast and was intrigued by two things I heard in an interview with the then-Grand Master of Masons in Illinois.

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

I decided to download a few of the podcast shows from X-Oriente and The Digital Freemason and burn them off on a CD so I can listen to them on the go. But, more importantly, I have decided to drop them off at the secretary's desk of my Lodge and encourage sharing them with the other brethren who may not be as technologically savvy but do know how to play a CD.

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

The Masonic blog aggregator at www.kingsolomonslodge.org now has an Atom feed to syndicate the most recent 20 posts from the "Bloggers of the Craft" section. The URL to the feed over at feedburner is:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/KingSolomonsLodge

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

Hey there! I have just set up a new blog aggregator and Masonic information site at www.kingsolomonslodge.org where I am combining together RSS and Atom feeds from various blogs written by Masons or about Freemasonry. I hope this is useful. If you would like to recommend a feed to be added, please post it as a comment to this post and I will try to get it put in the listings.

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.
Enjoy!

Maintaining Secrecy

I recently came across a website selling downloadable rituals described as "Text legible by anyone + Full text accessible with the Word of the degree", for which a small fee was being assessed.

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

Sometimes I feel like an outcast. I bring it upon myself because I'm just ... very strange. My beliefs are very different from many of the people I associate with. But, I feel comfort in the Lodge some how. I wonder, though, how good of a refuge Masonry really is? How sincere is the brotherhood when it becomes tested? If it is possible to lose this bond while living according to the dictates of your conscience, and according to the laws of the fraternity and the laws of the land, then is there some other place where such a fellowship does exist? We learn that we are first made Masons in our hearts. I guess I'm looking to find what it is that can be written upon our soul, our hearts, that we can cherish and know that it can never, ever be taken from us? Where is that kind of assurance, if anywhere?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Glimpses of Masonic History

This week I've started reading a book originally titled Glimpses of Masonic History by C. W. Leadbeater. The edition I purchased is newer, and has been re-titled "Ancient Mystic Rites." (although the content is essentially identical.) Although written from a Co-Masonic ("irregular" or "unrecognize") point of view, I believe Mr. Leadbeater's conclusions are spot-on in many particulars, and well worth reading, especially if you are interested in the Mystic or Occult aspects of the fraternity. I here quote from a portion of the text that has particularly impressed me, to give you a sample of Leadbeater's work:
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.

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.

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.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Paradox of Masonic East

Masonry reveres the East as the highest station in the Lodge. In the second degree, we are led into the Lodge between two brazen pillars which are symbolic of those set up at the entrance of King Solomon's Temple. However, as everyone who has studied the Temple or Moses's Tabernacle clearly knows, the East was where the entrance to the Temple was situated, and the West is where the Holy of Holies was located. As Masons, especially those Brethren who have Judeo-Christian religious affiliations, how do we reconcile or explain this apparent reversal of the Biblical order? What does it mean? What do others outside the Fraternity think of it?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Wearing Your Lambskin Apron

In Oregon it is customary to wear the Lambskin apron during your initiation into the Degrees of Masonry, and afterward to shelve it and take up a cheap linen apron for use during Lodge meetings (except the officers who wear their particular assigned aprons). I say what good is an Apron that was only worn three times before put to rest? What are you saving it for? It is said that while spots on the apron of an operative Mason brought credit rather than discredit, we should wear ours unspotted from the world. But in order to wear it unspotted, one must first undertake to wear it at all.
"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

Women's Rites


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 currently find my "home" in Masonry in the Blue Lodge. Here in Oregon we can open our stated communications on any of the EA, FC, or MM degree, depending on the type of business that needs to be transacted, and whether or not we are accomodating candidates that have not yet attained the sublime degree.

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

The cones in the human eye are primarily responsible for the recognition and distinction of colored light, (whereas the rods are primarily responsible for levels of light in general, whence brightness is derived) and the blue cone in the human eye is the least sensitive of these, followed by red, and then green.
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.
ColorBlueRedGreen
Black---
BlueX--
Red-X-
PurpleXX-
Green--X
TealX-X
Yellow-XX
WhiteXXX


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

Scottish McRite

Alabama-Free-Mason: Scottish McRite

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

Hermetics

I would like to recommend Franz Bardon's Initiation into Hermetics to all the brethren reading this blog. No, I'm not advocating everyone becoming magicians, but I believe certain parts of this book are of special interest to Masons, especially in connection with the practical purpose and effects resulting from our use of certain signs and grips. He speaks of "gestures and finger positions which are commonly known as ritual."

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

Many Masonic jurisdictions seem to be toying with the idea of advertising the Fraternity in an attempt to gain more members. I have mixed feelings on this. I think one line that is useful to look at in considering this is Exposure vs. Proselyting. In the 1800's, Masonry was exposed. People knew about it, because their neighbor, their boss, and their father were Masons. To supplement this genuine exposure, which happens through due course of having wide membership, many lodges have turned towards being proactive to achieve publicity. That's not so bad. Its when we start proselyting - handing out tracts to people, that it becomes truly questionable in my mind. On the other hand, I believe that if you are a friend and have become acquainted with a person, and they have demonstrated some interest in Masonry, that it isn't altogether inappropriate to at least provide them with some information about the Fraternity. After all, a friend may feel that you are keeping distance from them, if they know something like Masonry is important to you, and yet you have not given them the courtesy of at least explaining to them what it is all about.

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?

Has anyone ever seen a more modern, immature, and annoying thing than the 2B1ASK1 Masonic bumper sticker? My apologies to the Brethren who pioneered it, but it has outlived its usefulness. How? It has transcended automobiles, and become a slogan on websites and printed paper brochures. I think we should just spell it out: "To be one, ask one!" or speak in complete sentences, "If you would like to be a Mason, please ask one of our members about how you should proceed."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Masonic Stickers for Websites

Here are some 80x15 pixel Masonic buttons for use on your website or blogs to indicate what bodies you are a member of:

York Rite:


Blue/Ancient Craft Lodge, Royal Arch Chapter, Council of Cryptic Masons, Commandery of Knights Templar, Allied Masonic Degrees

Scottish Rite:


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 can't speak for every city in the world, but in my own there is a relatively strong Scottish Rite body, and there are a few York Rite brethren but no York Rite bodies formed at the present time. I have a feeling that Scottish Rite is more prevalent in Masonry, but that may not be an accurate big picture so correct me if I'm wrong. But, if it is true for your area, I want to investigate some specific points:

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

Here in Oregon, our Grand Lodge has recently approved an optional, alternative progam to the standard Candidates Lectures (also known as Catechisms) that are used to demonstrate a Candidate's Proficiency with a Degree before moving him on to the next degree. This is a good program that has existed in our Jurisdiction for a while as a way to increase our knowledge of Masonry, but has up until recently been an optional additional activity including a written test, that one may participate in, rather than an alternative to the traditionally required Catechisms.

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

Commonly held old legend says that Ancient Craft Masonry originated at the building of Solomon's Temple. Common scholarly opinion today refutes that, and suggests a much more recent origin for the Craft. I would like to put in my plug for the former opinion, to a degree. When was there ever a tradition, that was not taken from what went before it? Either directly, indirectly, or as a mirror image 'rebellion'. Truly, it seems, there is nothing new under the sun. I believe Masonry did come from Solomon's Temple, although it wasn't a direct Group => Group => Group lineage. I believe it was the merging of several traditions over a long period of time, where like-minded people banded together, and their traditions combined into something beautiful. I think there is good evidence to suggest that Freemasonry does have some origins, even in the mysteries of its secret work, clearly from the Temple of Solomon (or the Tabernacle of Moses) if someone opens their eyes enough to behold them. I do not believe it was the Stone Masons who formed the craft, however, but the Levites who worked in the Temple, or their direct observors, and their ideological descendents, coupled of course with the many other threads that pour into the river of Masonry by the time it hit England in the 1700's.

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

If you're looking for my "Quasi-Religious" blog, it has just moved to quasireligious.blogspot.com, and I apologize for any inconvenience. Since Quasi was my first "test" blog, I ran it on this KingSolomonsLodge.org domain without thinking much about it, and now the time has come to put up a blog here actually dedicated to Freemasonry.

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.