Secret society - free mason

About secret societies, free masonry, simbols, rithuals, order, ... Some articles are taken from "Mysteries of Freemasonry" by Captain William Morgan "The Symbolism of Freemasonry" by Albert G. Mackey, M.D. 1882. "Secret Societies" by David MacDill, Jonathan Blanchard, and Edward Beecher Those three books have free licence and no copyright law has broken.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Test-Oath and Word

The following "test-oath and word" were invented and adopted by the "Grand Lodge" of the State of New York, at their Session in June, 1827, for the purpose of guarding against Book Masons. They are given in a Master's Lodge. They were obtained from a gentleman in high standing in society, and among Masons, but a friend to Anti-Masonry. He was a member of the "Grand Lodge," and present when they were adopted.
A person wishing to be admitted into the Lodge, presents himself at the door; the Tyler (or some brother from within) demands or asks, "Do you wish to visit this Lodge?" The candidate for admission says, "If thought worthy." Tyler—"By what are you recommended?" Ans.—"By fidelity." Tyler says, "Prove that;" at the same time advances and throws out his hand or arm to an angle of about forty-five degrees obliquely forward, the hand open, and thumb upward. The candidate then advances, and places the back of his LEFT HAND against the PALM of the Tyler's RIGHT HAND—still extended puts his mouth to the Tyler's ear and whispers, L-O-S, and pronounces LOS.
Test-Oath.—"I, A. B., of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God, solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will not communicate the secret test-word, annexed to this obligation, to any but a true and lawful Master Mason, and that in the body of a lawful Lodge of such, in actual session, or at the door of a Lodge, for the purpose of gaining admission; under the penalty of being forever disgraced and dishonored as a man, and despised, degraded, and expelled as a Mason."

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Friday, December 29, 2006

the second class of emblems

What are the second class of emblems? A. The spade, coffin, death-head, marrow bones, and sprig of cassia, which are thus explained: The SPADE opens the vault to receive our bodies, where our active limbs will soon moulder to dust. The COFFIN, DEATH-HEAD, and MARROW BONES are emblematical of the death and burial of our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, and are worthy our serious attention. The SPRIG OF CASSIA is emblematical of that immortal part of man which never dies; and when the cold winter of death shall have passed, and the bright summer's morn of the resurrection appears, the Son of Righteousness shall descend, and send forth his angels to collect our ransomed dust; then, if we are found worthy, by his pass-word we shall enter into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides, where we shall see the King in the beauty of holiness, and with him enter into an endless fraternity.
Here ends the first three degrees of Masonry, which constitutes a Master Mason's Lodge. A Master Mason's Lodge and a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons are two distinct bodies, wholly independent of each other. The members of a Chapter are privileged to visit all Master Mason's Lodges when they please; and may be, and often are, members of both at the same time; and all the members of a Master Mason's Lodge who are Royal Arch Masons, though not members of any Chapter, may visit any Chapter. I wish the reader to understand that neither all Royal Arch Masons nor Master Masons are members of either Lodge or Chapter; there are tens of thousands who are not members, and scarcely ever attend, although privileged to do so.
A very small proportion of Masons, comparatively speaking, ever advance any further than the third degree, and consequently never get the great word which was lost by Hiram's untimely death. Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, the widow's son, having sworn that they, nor either of them, would ever give the word, except they three were present (and it is generally believed that there was not another person in the world, at that time, that had it), consequently the word was lost, and supposed to be forever; but the sequel will show it was found, after a lapse of four hundred and seventy years; notwithstanding, the word Mah-hah-bone, which was substituted by Solomon, still continues to be used by Master Masons, and no doubt will, [Pg 58]as long as Masonry attracts the attention of men; and the word which was lost is used in the Royal Arch Degree. What was the word of the Royal Arch Degree before they found the Master's word, which was lost at the death of Hiram Abiff, and was not found for four hundred and seventy years? Were there any Royal Arch Masons before the Master's word was found? I wish some masonic gentleman would solve these two questions.
The ceremonies, histories, and the Lecture, in the preceding degree are so similar that perhaps some one of the three might have been dispensed with, and the subject well understood by most readers, notwithstanding there is a small difference between the work and history, and between the history and the Lecture.
I shall now proceed with the Mark Master's degree, which is the first degree in the Chapter. The Mark Master's degree, the Past Master's, and the Most Excellent Master's, are Lodges of Mark Master Masons, Past Master, and Most Excellent Master; yet, although called Lodges, they are called component parts of the Chapter. Ask a Mark Master Mason if he belongs to the Chapter; he will tell you he does, but that he has only been marked. It is not an uncommon thing, by any means, for a Chapter to confer all four of the degrees in one night, viz:—the Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch degrees.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

First class emblem !

What are the first class? A. The pot of incense; the bee-hive; the book of constitutions, guarded by the Tyler's sword; the sword, pointing to a naked heart; the all-seeing eye; the anchor and ark; the forty-seventh problem of Euclid; the hour-glass; the scythe; and the three steps usually delineated on the Master's carpet, which are thus explained: The pot of INCENSE is an emblem of a pure heart, which is always an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity; and as this glows with fervent heat, so should our hearts continually glow with gratitude to the great and beneficent Author of our existence, for the manifold blessings and comforts we enjoy. The BEE-HIVE is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us that as we came into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to ourselves. When we take a survey of nature, we behold man, in his infancy, more helpless and indigent than the brute creation; he lies languishing for days, weeks, months, and [Pg 56]years, totally incapable of providing sustenance for himself; of guarding against the attacks of the field, or sheltering himself from the inclemencies of the weather. It might have pleased the great Creator of heaven and earth to have made man independent of all other beings, but as independence is one of the strongest bonds of society, mankind were made dependent on each other for protection and security, as they thereby enjoy better opportunities of fulfilling the duties of reciprocal love and friendship. Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God; and he, who will so demean himself as not to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a DRONE in the HIVE of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons. The BOOK OF CONSTITUTIONS, GUARDED BY THE TYLER'S SWORD, reminds us that we should be ever watchful and guarded, in our thoughts, words, and actions, and particularly when before the enemies of Masonry; ever bearing in remembrance those truly masonic virtues, SILENCE and CIRCUMSPECTION. The SWORD, POINTING TO A NAKED HEART, demonstrates that justice will sooner or later overtake us; and, although our thoughts, words, and actions may be hidden from the eyes of men, yet that ALL-SEEING EYE, whom the SUN, MOON, and STARS obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits. The ANCHOR and ARK are emblems of a well-grounded hope and well-spent life. They are emblematical of that divine ARK which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that ANCHOR which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary shall find rest. The forty-seventh problem of Euclid—this was an invention of our ancient friend and brother, the great Pythagoras, who, in his travels through Asia, Africa, and Europe, was initiated into several orders of priesthood, and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.
This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry or Masonry; on this subject he drew out many problems and theorems; and among the most distinguished, he erected this, which, in the joy of his heart, he called Eureka, in the Grecian language signifying, I have found it; and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences. The HOUR-GLASS is an emblem of human life. Behold! how swiftly the sands run, and how rapidly our lives are drawing to a close. We cannot, without astonishment behold the little particles which are contained in this machine; how they pass away almost imperceptibly, and yet, to our surprise, in the short space of an hour they are all exhausted.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Disseverance of the Operative Element

The next point to which our attention is to be directed is when, a few centuries later, the operative character of the institution began to be less prominent, and the speculative to assume a pre-eminence which eventually ended in the total separation of the two.

At what precise period the speculative began to predominate over the operative element of the society, it is impossible to say. The change was undoubtedly gradual, and is to be attributed, in all probability, to the increased number of literary and scientific men who were admitted into the ranks of the fraternity.

The Charter of Cologne, to which I have just alluded, speaks of "learned and enlightened men" as constituting the society long before the date of that document, which was 1535; but the authenticity of this work has, it must be confessed, been impugned, and I will not, therefore, press the argument on its doubtful authority. But the diary of that celebrated antiquary, Elias Ashmole, which is admitted to be authentic, describes his admission in the year 1646 into the order, when there is no doubt that the operative character was fast giving way to the speculative. Preston tells us that about thirty years before, when the Earl of Pembroke assumed the Grand Mastership of England, "many eminent, wealthy, and learned men were admitted."

In the year 1663 an assembly of the Freemasons of England was held at London, and the Earl of St. Albans was elected Grand Master. At this assembly certain regulations were adopted, in which the qualifications prescribed for candidates clearly allude to the speculative character of the institution.

And, finally, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, and during the reign of Queen Anne, who died, it will be remembered, in 1714, a proposition was agreed to by the society "that the privileges of Masonry should no longer be restricted to operative masons, but extend to men of various professions, provided that they were regularly approved and initiated into the order."

Accordingly the records of the society show that from the year 1717, at least, the era commonly, but improperly, distinguished as the restoration of Masonry, the operative element of the institution has been completely discarded, except so far as its influence is exhibited in the choice and arrangement of symbols, and the typical use of its technical language.

The history of the origin of the order is here concluded; and in briefly recapitulating, I may say that in its first inception, from the time of Noah to the building of the temple of Solomon, it was entirely speculative in its character; that at the construction of that edifice, an operative element was infused into it by the Tyrian builders; that it continued to retain this compound operative and speculative organization until about the middle of the seventeenth century, when the latter element began to predominate; and finally, that at the commencement of the eighteenth century, the operative element wholly disappeared, and the society has ever since presented itself in the character of a simply speculative association.

The history that I have thus briefly sketched, will elicit from every reflecting mind at least two deductions of some importance to the intelligent Mason.

In the first place, we may observe, that ascending, as the institution does, away up the stream of time, almost to the very fountains of history, for its source, it comes down to us, at this day, with so venerable an appearance of antiquity, that for that cause and on that claim alone it demands the respect of the world. It is no recent invention of human genius, whose vitality has yet to be tested by the wear and tear of time and opposition, and no sudden growth of short-lived enthusiasm, whose existence may be as ephemeral as its birth was recent. One of the oldest of these modern institutions, the Carbonarism of Italy, boasts an age that scarcely amounts to the half of a century, and has not been able to extend its progress beyond the countries of Southern Europe, immediately adjacent to the place of its birth; while it and every other society of our own times that have sought to simulate the outward appearance of Freemasonry, seem to him who has examined the history of this ancient institution to have sprung around it, like mushrooms bursting from between the roots and vegetating under the shade of some mighty and venerable oak, the patriarch of the forest, whose huge trunk and wide-extended branches have protected them from the sun and the gale, and whose fruit, thrown off in autumn, has enriched and fattened the soil that gives these humbler plants their power of life and growth.

But there is a more important deduction to be drawn from this narrative. In tracing the progress of Freemasonry, we shall find it so intimately connected with the history of philosophy, of religion, and of art in all ages of the world, that it is evident that no Mason can expect thoroughly to understand the nature of the institution, or to appreciate its character, unless he shall carefully study its annals, and make himself conversant with the facts of history, to which and from which it gives and receives a mutual influence. The brother who unfortunately supposes that the only requisites of a skilful Mason consist in repeating with fluency the ordinary lectures, or in correctly opening and closing the lodge, or in giving with sufficient accuracy the modes of recognition, will hardly credit the assertion, that he whose knowledge of the "royal art" extends no farther than these preliminaries has scarcely advanced beyond the rudiments of our science. There is a far nobler series of doctrines with which Freemasonry is connected, and which no student ever began to investigate who did not find himself insensibly led on, from step to step in his researches, his love and admiration of the order increasing with the augmentation of his acquaintance with its character. It is this which constitutes the science and the philosophy of Freemasonry, and it is this alone which will return the scholar who devotes himself to the task a sevenfold reward for his labor.

With this view I propose, in the next place, to enter upon an examination of that science and philosophy as they are developed in the system of symbolism, which owes its existence to this peculiar origin and organization of the order, and without a knowledge of which, such as I have attempted to portray it in this preliminary inquiry, the science itself could never be understood.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Travelling Freemasons of the Middle Ages

The first of these points to which I refer is the establishment of a body of architects, widely disseminated throughout Europe during the middle ages under the avowed name of Travelling Freemasons. This association of workmen, said to have been the descendants of the Temple Masons, may be traced by the massive monuments of their skill at as early a period as the ninth or tenth century; although, according to the authority of Mr. Hope, who has written elaborately on the subject, some historians have found the evidence of their existence in the seventh century, and have traced a peculiar masonic language in the reigns of Charlemagne of France and Alfred of England.

It is to these men, to their preeminent skill in architecture, and to their well-organized system as a class of workmen, that the world is indebted for those magnificent edifices which sprang up in such undeviating principles of architectural form during the middle ages.

"Wherever they came," says Mr. Hope, "in the suite of missionaries, or were called by the natives, or arrived of their own accord, to seek employment, they appeared headed by a chief surveyor, who governed the whole troop, and named one man out of every ten, under the name of warden, to overlook the nine others, set themselves to building temporary huts35 for their habitation around the spot where the work was to be carried on, regularly organized their different departments, fell to work, sent for fresh supplies of their brethren as the object demanded, and, when all was finished, again raised their encampment, and went elsewhere to undertake other jobs." 36

This society continued to preserve the commingled features of operative and speculative masonry, as they had been practised at the temple of Solomon. Admission to the community was not restricted to professional artisans, but men of eminence, and particularly ecclesiastics, were numbered among its members. "These latter," says Mr. Hope, "were especially anxious, themselves, to direct the improvement and erection of their churches and monasteries, and to manage the expenses of their buildings, and became members of an establishment which had so high and sacred a destination, was so entirely exempt from all local, civil jurisdiction, acknowledged the pope alone as its direct chief, and only worked under his immediate authority; and thence we read of so many ecclesiastics of the highest rank—abbots, prelates, bishops—conferring additional weight and respectability on the order of Freemasonry by becoming its members—themselves giving the designs and superintending the construction of their churches, and employing the manual labor of their own monks in the edification of them."

Thus in England, in the tenth century, the Masons are said to have received the special protection of King Athelstan; in the eleventh century, Edward the Confessor declared himself their patron; and in the twelfth, Henry I. gave them his protection.

Into Scotland the Freemasons penetrated as early as the beginning of the twelfth century, and erected the Abbey of Kilwinning, which afterwards became the cradle of Scottish Masonry under the government of King Robert Bruce.

Of the magnificent edifices which they erected, and of their exalted condition under both ecclesiastical and lay patronage in other countries, it is not necessary to give a minute detail. It is sufficient to say that in every part of Europe evidences are to be found of the existence of Freemasonry, practised by an organized body of workmen, and with whom men of learning were united; or, in other words, of a combined operative and speculative institution.

What the nature of this speculative science continued to be, we may learn from that very curious, if authentic, document, dated at Cologne, in the year 1535, and hence designated as the "Charter of Cologne." In that instrument, which purports to have been issued by the heads of the order in nineteen different and important cities of Europe, and is addressed to their brethren as a defence against the calumnies of their enemies, it is announced that the order took its origin at a time "when a few adepts, distinguished by their life, their moral doctrine, and their sacred interpretation of the arcanic truths, withdrew themselves from the multitude in order more effectually to preserve uncontaminated the moral precepts of that religion which is implanted in the mind of man."

We thus, then, have before us an aspect of Freemasonry as it existed in the middle ages, when it presents itself to our view as both operative and speculative in its character. The operative element that had been infused into it by the Dionysiac artificers of Tyre, at the building of the Solomonic temple, was not yet dissevered from the pure speculative element which had prevailed in it anterior to that period.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Secrecy - Its character

A presumption against secrecy arises from the known fact that evil-doers of all kinds resort to secrecy. This is for two reasons: (1.) To avoid opposition and retribution; and, (2,) to avoid exposure to disgrace. The adulterer seeks secrecy; so do the thief and the counterfeiter; so do conspirators for evil ends.

Secrecy, whenever resorted to for evil ends, is wrong. But may it not be resorted to for good ends? and is it not recognized as often wise and right in the Word of God? We answer in the affirmative. There is a certain degree of reserve, or secrecy, that should invest every individual. Our whole range of thought and feeling ought not to be promiscuously made known. There is a degree of secrecy necessary in the order, social intercourse, and discipline of the family. There is secrecy needed in dealing with faults and sins. Christ adopts this principle in his discipline. He says, "Tell him his fault between him and thee alone. If he repents, conceal it." There are confidential communications for important ends, or for council.

Concealment may be used as a defense against enemies, as in the case of the spies of Joshua, or the messengers of David, or when Elisha hid himself by the brook Oherith, by God's order. So God hides the good in his secret place and under his wings.

Secrecy is opposed to ostentation and love of human applause. Hence, alms and prayer are to be in secret. God also resorts to secrecy in an eminent degree. He hides himself. He dwells in thick darkness. It is his glory to conceal his designs. In part, this is inevitable by reason of his greatness; in part, he resorts to it of set purpose.

It is a special honor and blessing of the good that he discloses his secrets to them.

Secrecy, then, is not of necessity wrong. Its character depends upon the ends for which it is used, and the circumstances and spirit in which it is used. There is a secrecy of wisdom, love, and justice, as well as a secrecy of selfish, malevolent, and evil deeds.