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BS: A concise history of Freemasonry

GUEST,josepp 04 Jul 12 - 12:48 PM
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Subject: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:48 PM

[This is a another chapter I've been working on (you may have read some earlier ones such as the Salem Witch Trials). This one deals with the 18th century. My sources are non-Masonic and therfore may be flawed. I would appreciate feedback from any Masons here if such is the case. I'm not asking you to spill your secrets, which I don't care about. There is a bit about Masonic ritual and a few passwords and such are given but I can't state that they are correct. I don't feel I'm exposing Freemasonry or anything like that since my sources are non-Masonic meaning that they are also common public knowledge. I have tried to be as impartial as I can. This is just a rough draft and I will likely add some more to it but here it is so far.]

The 18th Century

The eighteenth century is not called the Age of Enlightenment for nothing. This was a century of remarkable and sweeping change and occultism played no small role in this. Let us start off with what was without a doubt the most extensive accomplishment in this era: Freemasonry. To do it justice, we will have to devote some time and space to it.

The History and Background of Freemasonry

Freemasonry, as we know it, is truly an eighteenth century development. It could never have flourished that way in earlier bygone centuries when superstition and fear would have forced it into deep secrecy. But despite its largely eighteenth century cosmopolitan genesis, Freemasonry does have a more ancient lineage. This lineage, however, does not extend back into the third century BCE in Ancient Greece or Persia as some would have us believe. Masonry did not start with Pythagoras, the Pyramid-builders, the cabalists, the Rosicrucians, the alchemists, astrology, the druids, the Sufis, the Mayan priesthood, Hashishim, Mithraists, the Knights-Templars or any of the countless other theories that have arisen over the centuries—many started by Masons themselves. Masonry, to some extent, is modeled on or borrows from all those just as they were modeled on and borrowed from one another but Masonry's origins are somewhat more recent, somewhat less esoteric, and its purpose wholly different. H. L. Haywood puts it best: "Freemasonry was founded by the Freemasons." Their purposes have always been totally Masonic and never, say, druidic or cabalistic. That the Masons borrowed a bit from the druidic system (three-degree initiation) and from the Mithraic system (lambskin apron) or from Pythagoras (the phrase "Great Architect of the Universe") in order to give a body to their principles is beyond dispute, but those very principles are wholly their own not being found in any of the other systems.

The oldest known Masonic document comes from about 1395 and is called the Regius MS. Written on 64 vellum pages in doggerel verse, fourteen lines to a page, the manuscript is truly Freemasonic and not some earlier or similar system and hence proves Freemasonry was existent in the fourteenth century. The "old book" as it is now called is chock-full of Masonic principles and terminology and was obviously composed by and for some old European lodge.

The next oldest Masonic document dates from about 1415 and is called the Cooke MS. but is more famously known as the Old Charges but is also called the Ancient MS., the Old Constitutions, etc. Masonic historians consider the Cooke MS. to be more important than the Regius MS. because the evidence shows that the content of the Cooke MS. to be older even though the manuscript itself is younger. The content probably comes from an older manuscript from about 1350. But the true importance of the Cooke MS. is that it marks the emergence of Freemasonry out of the earlier belief system of the stonemason occupation (called Operative Masonry). This emergence marked the beginning of Speculative Masonry. There would have been no Speculative Masonry had not the Old Charges defined the difference between the two systems.

We today tend to think of Speculative Masonry and Freemasonry as one in the same. This is not true strictly speaking. There were Freemasons before there was Speculative Masonry. Freemasons in the fourteenth century were still of the stonemason guilds. They were still members of Operative Masonry. By "operative" we mean that their lodges formed strictly for an operation, that is, to build something such as a church or other stone structure. Once the operation was complete, the lodge disbanded and the members split up to find employment elsewhere. If one looks at old books of Operative Masonry, one will find little difference between the doctrines expressed in it and those expressed in Freemasonry (e.g. the Three Pillars of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty). Operative Masons were Freemasons. What the Old Charges did, however, was to establish permanent lodges rather than temporary ones. So, we would be more correct to say that Speculative Masonry is synonymous with modern Freemasonry.

The Old Charges represent a charter. We know from our history then that the oldest Speculative lodges sprang up in the London, York and Westminster areas which required by law a charter for any lodge seeking to become permanent. Any permanent lodge was, by medieval English law, a corporation and any and all corporations had to apply for permanency via charter. The intent was that the authorities would know who belonged to the corporation and for what purpose it met so as to prevent insurrection or any other illegal activity. A charter could be issued by a number of civil authorities or by the king and this included guilds. So the Old Charges were written in order that a charter be issued because the lodge in question was seeking to become permanent. The face of Freemasonry changed with the founding of Speculative Masonry.

The interesting thing about the Old Charges is that it does not request a new charter but asks for recognition of an old Royal Charter granted to Freemasons by King Aethelstan in the tenth century. This old charter was, in fact, recognized. Aethelstan, according to the Old Charges, was a Freemason himself and called together an assembly of them in York and presented them with the Royal Charter still active today and any lodge of Freemasons anywhere can act under it. The Old Charges also spell out the offices and rules of the lodge, that is, how the lodge is constituted and governed and hence the title Old Constitutions. Whether King Aethelstan was really a Freemason or whether Freemasonry really existed in his day is still the subject of much debate but the Masons of the fourteenth century certainly believed so.

Freemasonry today, however, certainly cannot be traced back much further than the fourteenth century. The reason is that the Old Charges was a document intended for initiation. It contains a great deal of the mythical history of the book of Genesis but also incorporates a large helping of a work called the Polychronicon of the Benedictine monk named Higdon practically word-for-word. There were many works floating around at that time called Polychronicon, which functioned as a medieval encyclopedia and were quite popular among the literate even if they weren't particularly reliable as fact or history (the very title implies a mish-mash of writings from every possible age). When Speculative Masonry began to catch on, much information of the initiatory degrees had to be abbreviated to make the initiations move faster. They were abbreviated in the form of emblems and chalk (or tracing-board) drawings. This included the two pillars of Jachin and Boaz, the letter G, the Ark, the Mosaic-tiled floor, Euclid's 47th Proposition, etc. All of these were explained by word only in the Old Charges because the emblems did not exist back then and the author's source was Higdon's Polychronicon. Hence, without this Higdon's fourteenth century work, much of Freemasonry's most treasured emblems would not exist. Hence, much of Freemasonry is quite new and completely unique to Freemasonry rather than a continuation of ancient traditions.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:50 PM

A major change was affected in Freemasonry in the eighteenth century by four London lodges. There was nothing particularly special about these four lodges. There were older lodges in London and York and others in New York but their idea was a good one. The four lodges were Lodge No. 1 who assembled at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St. Paul's Churchyard; Lodge No. 2 who assembled at the Crown alehouse in Parker's Lane; Lodge No.3 who assembled at the Apple Tree tavern on Charles Street, Covent Garden; and Lodge No. 4 who assembled at the Rummer and Grapes tavern in Channel Row, Westminster. Lodge No. 4 was the largest of them, having about 70 members (the others having about 15 members each) and was composed mostly of gentlemen and a few noblemen and hence were, we assume, Speculative Masons. The other three lodges were composed mainly of Operative Masons—carpenters. The members of all four lodges assembled at the Apple Tree tavern in February of 1717 and decided to form a Grand Lodge. On June 24, St. John the Baptist's Day, they assembled at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse and elected Anthony Sayer as Grand Master.

To ensure the smooth operation of the Grand Lodge and its capacity to grant charters to new lodges, a set of rules, regulations and procedures were drawn up so as to accomplish all business without unnecessary delays or unauthorized transactions. The Grand Lodge set about drawing up a new constitution and appointed Rev. James Anderson of Aberdeen to oversee the project. Using the Old Charges as his model, Anderson produced The Book of Constitutions in 1723 and a more extensive version in 1738. A committee of fourteen men amended the constitutions as necessary. As a result, modern Masonry often speaks of "the Anderson Constitutions." The Book of Constitutions contains the first mention of God as the "the Great Architect of the Universe" or GAOTU, a phrase lifted from Pythagoras.

One of the Masons involved in the formation of the Grand Lodge was Jean Théophile Desaguliers, an ordained minister in the Anglican Church. He did something that would change Freemasonry's membership forever. He went among his friends in the English aristocracy and began persuading them to become Freemasons. Noblemen, military officers and even members of the Royal Family began joining in droves. On June 24, 1719, Desaguliers was elected Grand Master. But thanks to his efforts, two years later, the Duke of Montagu was elected as Grand Master and for the next 278 years only noblemen and member of the Royal Family would serve as Grand Masters. Freemasonry had become a rich man's club.

Not that Freemasonry was ever a poor man's club. The existence of the Regius MS. and the Cooke MS. would certainly demonstrate that Masons were men that were well educated because not many commoners were literate in those days and vellum was both rare and expensive. The author of the Cooke MS. refers to the Old Testament enough times that he obviously had a copy and few people of that time did. The Church forbade the laity to own bibles and few of the laity could have read them if they did own them. Fewer still could have afforded a bible. Whoever wrote those old manuscripts were very well educated for their time and, like Anderson and Desaguliers, were clergymen. There is the belief that King James I was a Freemason so there may have been a precedent for royalty to join such groups but this would only demonstrate why Desaguliers had little trouble getting the aristocrats to join in such large numbers to the extent where they took over the Masonic system as their own.

Other conditions were added: Catholics were allowed to join even though the Church condemned Freemasonry. Jews were allowed to join and were definitely within Freemasonry's rank by 1732 and possibly as early as 1724.

Freemason lodges quickly spread throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and then throughout France, Germany, and other European nations. Freemasonry also came to the American colonies rather early, before 1717. The two earliest Masons in America were John Skene from the Aberdeen Lodge in Scotland and Jonathan Belcher, the governor of Massachusetts at the turn of the century. However, the oldest American lodge record comes from Philadelphia in 1729, St. John's Lodge. Benjamin Franklin drew up St. John's book of constitutions in 1734 and was elected Grand Master of the lodge that year.
Any lodge of that time period that could elect a Grand Master must be a "Grand Lodge." A Grand Lodge, by definition in the Anderson Constitutions, is a lodge that does not have individual Masons for members as local lodges do, but rather a Grand Lodge has other lodges as members. Initially, only the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge rather than the Grand Lodge itself could authorize the formation of a new local lodge, which he did by issuing a Warrant to that lodge. To prevent a Grand Master from having too much undue influence, the Constitutions were amended to state that the Grand Lodge as a body must decide on the issue of new local lodges. When Grand Lodges were given the authority to form local lodges, they did so by issuing Charters.

Grand Lodge's are not bosses over local lodges but rather exist for the purpose of rendering service to local lodges as may require those services and authorizing the formation of new local lodges. If, for example, a lodge officer is being installed at a local lodge that the majority of Masons of that lodge disapprove of, they may appeal to the Grand Lodge to intercede. The Grand Lodge will then decide on the matter based upon what it perceives to be in the best interests of that lodge rather than to any individual Mason. If, for example, a new lodge is being started by a Mason thrown out of another lodge for bad conduct, the Grand Lodge can prevent that Mason from starting a new local lodge of his own if they justly fear he may do a disservice to the name of Freemasonry.
While a local lodge exists as a building where the Masons who are its members meet to conduct "lodge business," a Grand Lodge does not exist as a building where its officers meet. A Grand Lodge has a certain jurisdiction just as, say, the police have precincts. A certain amount of territory is overseen by a Grand Lodge and any Mason wishing to start a local lodge in that area must apply to that Grand Lodge for a charter. But even the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge cannot necessarily be said to be where that Grand Lodge resides because some Grand Lodges are not even in the countries where they hold jurisdiction. In the American colonies, for example, New York fell under the jurisdiction of the Mother Grand Lodge in England. When Fort Detroit was taken over by the Americans in 1794, its first lodge, Union Lodge #1, fell under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of New York. When a Grand Lodge was later established in Quebec, the Detroit lodge fell under its jurisdiction to relieve New York of undue burden. All Grand Lodges fall under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England as it is the mother of all Grand Lodges. Where does the Grand Lodge of England reside? As a building, nowhere.

Each local lodge has its own officers, which we'll go over in more detail later on, and the head officer of a local lodge is called the Most Worshipful Master but is usually simply called a Master (but should not be confused with the grades of Master Mason or Mark Master, which are different animals altogether and we'll go over that in depth later as well). Other local lodge officers include Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Junior Deacon, Steward, Tyler, etc. The Grand Lodge officers are similarly composed. One will be elected Grand Master and the others will fill the offices of Grand Senior Warden, Grand Junior Warden and so on. Moreover, that Grand Master does not represent himself in the Grand Lodge but rather he represents his lodge.

We are going over the duties of Grand Lodges and their differences with local lodges for a reason: the establishment of the Mother Grand Lodge in England in 1717 was the first Grand Lodge ever established. Freemasonry did not have them before. The establishment of the Grand Lodge is what makes Freemasonry today a more or less eighteenth century development. We should also note the office of Most Worshipful Master is no more ancient than the office of Grand Master. Both were preceded by a single office called Master of Masons (again, not to be confused with the grade of Master Mason) who functioned more like a head of a union than like a modern-day Master or Grand Master.

Why did Grand Lodges come about at all? Quite simply, Freemasonry, Speculative Masonry at any rate, requires them. When quarrels between lodges or within lodges develop, the lodges need to act as a body to resolve the situation and so the Grand Lodge fills this need. Before the formation of Grand Lodges, Speculative Masonry was failing which was why the four London lodges met in the first place. Moreover, if a crook poses as a Mason and sets up a lodge to attract members in hopes of fleecing them, the name of Masonry could be ruined through no real fault of its own. Again, a Grand Lodge could take action against such a crook and prevent him from founding a lodge within its jurisdiction and warn other jurisdictions to beware of this individual.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:52 PM

Many social changes were taking place and a Grand Lodge would be a good way to examine those changes and decide whether or not Freemasonry should incorporate those changes. Women, for example, were becoming more and more of a socio-political force. Freemasonry had not traditionally admitted women because, from the days of its Operative Masonic roots, women simply weren't employed in the occupation of carpentry. Hence the original Speculative lodges did not admit women. The Grand Lodge originally rejected the idea. They did not want their lodges turning into pick-up joints. But this gave their enemies the excuse to call Freemasons misogynists and even homosexuals who commit sodomy at their lodge meetings (needless to say, very few non-Masons took such a charge seriously). The oldest known story of a female Freemason, however, comes to us from Cork, Ireland where seventeen-year-old Elizabeth St. Leger, daughter of Viscount Doneraile, a high-ranking Mason, was supposedly initiated in 1710 after overhearing their meetings in her father's house. However, there are a large spate of young-women-being-initiated-after-overhearing-Masons-talking stories from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in America in the early twentieth century that we have to take them all with a grain of salt.

The truth is, French lodges began admitting women in the early eighteenth century. Princess Marie Thérèse Louise de Lamballe, who was thrown in Conciergerie prison along with other aristocrats during the French Revolution in 1792 where a mob broke in and killed them, the princess among them, was a Freemason. Not only was Napoleon a Freemason, his empress, Josephine, was Grand Mistress of two lodges that bore her name—one in Milan and one in Strasbourg. In 1875, Countess Hadig Barkoczy of Hungary was admitted to a lodge by the brothers but the Grand Orient of Hungary, under which the lodge was controlled, expelled her and suspended the brothers for three months. The Grand Orient lodges were more chauvinistic than other lodges and, even though other French lodges had been admitting women for well over a century, was still not admitting women as late as the 1880s when a feminist group protested their exclusionary practices. Today, in America, there are female lodges with names such as Order of the Eastern Star, Daughters of the Sphinx and others. But the male and female lodges are separate and, in fact, the female lodges are non-Masonic because females in the United States cannot be Freemasons. There is also Comasonry which admits males and females to the same lodges but Comasonry is considered "irregular" by Freemasonry.
Race relations, of course, is another major socio-political change that Masonry was forced to address. Masonry came early to the American colonies and among blacks, this was no exception. When an English officer married a black woman of French descent who had been newly freed from slavery, they had a son who was born in Massachusetts in 1748. His name was Prince Hall. He went to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was ordained a Methodist minister. A British military lodge inducted him as the first black-American Mason in 1775 as a tactic of trying to get black slaves to revolt against their white American masters and join the British and become full-fledged Masons. Ironic, when one considers that England was, at that time, neck-deep in the West Indian slave trade. Perhaps this was why Prince Hall's sympathies lay with the colonies and he urged blacks to enlist in the Continental Army when George Washington, America's most famous Freemason, promised freedom to any black slaves who enlisted (black slaves in New England, unlike the South, actually enjoyed considerable freedoms and were well educated) and he appears to have enlisted himself. In 1791, Hall formed the Grand Lodge of African-Americans and was named the Grand Master. Upon his death in 1807, the African-American Lodge became officially known as the Prince Hall Lodge.

After the 1850s, when the Civil War loomed large and many laws passed to restrict interaction and intermarriage between whites and blacks (not until the 1990s would America see the same rate of black-white marriages as there had been in the 1850s), the black and white lodges were incredibly segregated. At a time when English Masons in India were inducting and admitting, albeit reluctantly, Indians into their lodges and when German lodges were admitting Jews quite freely, American lodges were rigidly segregated. Even in nations where conflicts kept certain lodges from intermingling with one another, there was nowhere near the number that we saw in America throughout the nineteenth century and up to the 1960s when white and black Masons began to tenuously reach out to one another. Prince Hall Masonry still exists and Grand Lodges in most states recognize it as regular. Nowadays, though, more black Masons are members of integrated lodges than they are of Prince Hall. However, there are several Southern states where Prince Hall is still considered irregular and black Masons are not admitted to all-white lodges. When some white Masons have complained of their white brethren's deplorable racist attitudes towards their black brethren, they have reported being threatened with violence. One man, who identifies himself as "Brother Alex Harris," who was to give a speech condemning white Southern Masons' racist attitudes towards their black brethren was told that if he entered certain lodges, he would not leave alive. In Masonic law, a Mason is never to harm or threaten a brother Mason. But still in some areas of the South, even this law can be acceptably discarded in the name of white supremacy.

There is much more to Freemasonry than this, of course, but I wish only to familiarize the reader with this organization. It has played an enormous role not only in occultism but in politics on the world stage. Much of the world's history cannot be understood without understanding the Freemasonry that orchestrated what went on behind the scenes. I do not suggest that Freemasonry is a vast conspiracy—this is a tiresome, worn-out theory of conspiracy nuts with nothing better to do with their time. Freemasonry has played a major role in the betterment of the world. Many of our Founding Fathers were Freemasons and the ideals that our nation was founded on were doctrines of Freemasonry. Freemasonry stands naturally opposed to dictatorships and, in countries with dictatorships, Freemasonry is always outlawed. This was as true of WW2-era Japan as it was of Nazi Germany. When Japan was to be rebuilt, it was largely due to the efforts of Japanese Freemasons working with the avid assistance of Douglas Macarthur, another Freemason.

And I wish to make clear that I am not a Freemason and never have been nor is anyone in my immediate family nor my known extended family a Freemason.

However, we should not sweep Freemasonry's failures under the rug. Before we get into the occult aspects of Freemasonry, let us examine its dark side.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:54 PM

The Murder of Capt. Wm. Morgan

I am fortunate these days to have the movie The Gangs of New York to back me in my narrative of this incident. The Morgan incident is by far the blackest mark upon Freemasonry and the Mason-haters never hesitate to seize on it when attempting to demonstrate how dangerous Freemasonry is to our great democracy. The truth is less dramatic, but let us recount the incident and then we'll examine it to see what there is to see.

William Morgan was a Freemason in the town of Batavia, New York in Genesee County in the fateful year of 1826. Born in the county of Culpepper in Virginia, Morgan moved briefly to Canada but took up residence in New York state, living in several cities and towns before finally settling in Batavia. He was called "Captain" because he stated that he had served as an army captain in the War of 1812, something which has yet to be verified and was doubted by many that knew him. He was a stonemason by trade.
Exactly how far back his relationship with Freemasonry went is not known. We only know that he was a lodge member in Batavia. There were apparently rumors that he drank too much and borrowed money too much thereby making Masonry look bad and this resulted in bitter quarrels between Morgan and his fellow Masons. Angered, Morgan left the Freemasons and shortly after announced that he was working on a book that would reveal all the Masonic secrets and rituals. He further stated that a local newspaper publisher named David C. Miller was interested in the exposé and had already paid Morgan a substantial advance for the rights to publish it.

The Masons boycotted Miller's newspaper and would not advertise in it. They also placed ads in other newspapers warning other Masons to beware of Morgan. They also decided to burn down Miller's newspaper office but Miller had received advance warning of the attack and remained on watch at the office and was able to put out the fires the Masons had set.

Other Masons stated that Morgan owed them money and, on a Friday, had him arrested and placed in jail until such time that his debt was paid off. Miller tried to locate the jailer in order to pay Morgan's debt but the jailer, a Mason, avoided Miller. Morgan remained in jail over the weekend.

The Masons then came clean with Morgan and told him they would let him out of jail if he would hand over the manuscript of his exposé. Morgan refused to do so, then again, he may not have been in possession of it. Miller probably put it away for safekeeping. The reason I think this is the case is because the Masons went to Morgan's house that night and, over his wife's angry protests, barged inside and ransacked the place in an effort to locate the manuscript. They failed. Miller finally paid off Morgan's alleged debt and he was released.

Next, the Masons stated that Morgan owed a debt in Canadaigua over a shirt he had stolen. He was again taken off to jail but this time in Canadaigua about 50 miles from Batavia. Miller too was arrested and jailed but was released after a few hours when he convinced his captors of the folly of their actions. Evidently, some of the Masons were getting cold feet about the whole thing.

Then a Mason named Lotan Lawson arrived at the Canadaigua jail on September 13th and announced to the jailer's wife that he was a friend of Morgan's and had come to pay off his debt and take custody of the man. Having no reason to doubt him, the jailer's wife accepted the payment and released Morgan who was reluctant to go anywhere with Lawson but, at the same time, had no wish to remain in jail. Morgan went outside with Lawson but declined to ride in his carriage. At this, two Masons—Nicholas Chesebro and Col. Edward Sawyer—came out of nowhere and laid a hold of Morgan. Lawson and the other two then dragged Morgan into the carriage as witnesses watched and heard Morgan screaming, "Murder!"

Investigation revealed that Masons had transported Morgan 105 miles via Rochester, Gaines, Ridgeway, Lockport, Lewiston, Youngstown very near the U.S.-Canadian border and finally to Fort Niagara. Along the way, Masons provided the kidnappers with fresh horses and food. In Youngstown, Sheriff Eli Bruce of Niagara County, himself a Mason, watched Morgan in the carriage while the other men went to eat. No food was given to Morgan. Witnesses heard Morgan ask Sheriff Bruce for water, which Bruce told him would be forthcoming but he did not keep his word.

When they arrived at Fort Niagara on 14 September. The fort had been recently vacated by the Defense Department of the U.S. Government since Canada was no particular threat to the nation. Morgan was placed in what had been the powder magazine and held there for several days. The government later wanted to know how the Masons had gotten access to the fort. The caretaker of the fort, they discovered, was a Freemason and the government had left all the keys to the place with him and he used them freely to assist his brother Masons in their crime.

Finally, four Masons took Morgan to the Niagara River. From there, they took him across by boat into Canada. They asked their Canadian brethren waiting for them on the other side to dispose of Morgan for them so that there would be no trace of him in America. The Canadians refused to get involved and told the Americans to leave. The kidnappers then took Morgan back the fort and put him back in the powder magazine. After this, no one claims to have seen him again. Apparently unable to think up a better solution, the Masons took Morgan back out on the river, tied weights to his body and dumped him in. The corpse was never recovered.

The investigation complete, 26 Masons were charged with Morgan's disappearance but 20 of them never went to trial. Three of the indicted were helped by their fellow Masons to flee to New Orleans and Europe. Of the six that went to trial, two were acquitted and four—Lawson, Chesebro, Sawyer and someone named John Sheldon—were convicted of kidnapping. All except Sheldon had pled guilty (to prevent any evidence of murder from being heard as that would require a separate trial). Kidnapping in New York State, amazingly enough, was only a misdemeanor. Lawson got two years, Chesebro got one year, Sawyer got three months and Sheldon got one month. Another investigation revealed that at least half the jurors were Freemasons. The deck had been stacked.

The governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton, a Freemason, was furious with these local rubes in Batavia acting on their own and murdering someone in the name of Masonry—as though the Masonic secrets and rituals were really worth a man's life. He had no sympathy for them. He offered substantial rewards for information about the incident. After the trials, Clinton fired Eli Bruce and had him charged for his part in the Morgan debacle. Bruce received two years. Governor Clinton also changed the penalty for kidnapping in New York State from a misdemeanor to a fourteen-year felony. But it was all too little too late.

An anti-Masonic backlash gripped the country and Morgan's book became a bestseller. This prompted many Masons to declare that Morgan had not been murdered but had vanished of his own free will as a publicity stunt to sell his book. Amazingly, there are Masons to this day who believe this. The public, however, wasn't having it.

Freemasonry started to become a liability. Where membership in the Craft was once a sign of prestige, it was now a mark of disgrace. Politicians who once relied on it to win offices were now desperate to dissociate themselves from it. So many Masons were voted out of office and so many anti-Masons voted in, that many ambitious non-Masons saw anti-Masonry as a viable ticket by which they might secure political office.

The Anti-Masonic Party was the first of America's third parties to form. It had split off mostly from the Whigs. They held a convention in Baltimore in 1831, America's first political convention, and nominated William Wirt for president. Another prominent anti-Mason was William H. Seward who had served in Lincoln's cabinet and had purchased Alaska (a transaction then known as "Seward's Folly"). Senator Charles Sumner was another well-known anti-Masonist. The newly formed party announced to the electorate a platform dedicated to the abolition of Freemasonry from American public life, the first time any political party had ever announced a platform. The Anti-Masonic Party captured about 8% of the vote, taking the state of Vermont. After 1835, however, they had ceased to be a political force when anti-Masonic sentiment died down and the party members eventually drifted quietly back into the Whigs in the latter part of the decade as issues as slavery became highly volatile. By that time, though, Freemasonry in America was very nearly dead and had completely died out in some states such as Vermont and Michigan.

Strangely, Morgan's widow married Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, becoming his first plural wife. When Smith was attacked by a mob in Nauvoo, Illinois and murdered in 1844, he supposedly yelled out Masonic distress signals ("Oh, Lord! My God! Was there no help for the widow's son?" or "Oh Lord! My God! I fear the Master's Word is forever lost!"). Smith's successor, Brigham Young, was definitely a Mason and can be seen in photographs wearing Masonic regalia and accoutrements.

As far as can be known, the Morgan murder was the first and only known murder committed by a Masonic conspiracy. How can we account for it? Really, the reason is not so hard to see. While Masonry seeks to compel its members to behave in a moral manner, this is not possible among those who have no morals. If a crack-dealer is made a Mason, he will continue to be a crack-dealer. If a serial killer is made a Mason, he will continue to be a serial killer. Earlier, I made mention of the movie, The Gangs of New York. The reason is quite simply that many New York residents were gangsters, former-gangsters or descendants of gangsters who were never taught that the gangster mentality is a bad one. They grew up being instilled with the gangster mentality and resorted to it whenever they felt such was appropriate even if they occupy important public positions. Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall come to mind. Murder is an integral part of that mentality. When someone declares himself your rival, then, like a true gangster, you get rid of him. Hence, Masons with the gangster mentality in New York State conspired to get rid of William Morgan once he had become a rival. And the gangsters did as we would expect them to do: kill the rival, buy off witnesses, hide defendants from the law, exploit legal loopholes, and tamper with the jury. The murder of William Morgan should by no means be held against Freemasonry itself, only against those who participated. If Freemasonry had the reputation of killing defectors in all the countries where the Craft is found, that would be one thing; but this is simply not the case. The murder of William Morgan was an unfortunate incident in the history of Freemasonry but the fault should be laid solely on those who decided themselves his judge, jury and executioners.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:56 PM


Part of what riles people against Freemasonry is its secretive nature. What they seem incapable of understanding is that the secret initiations are what draw people in. That was the reason Freemasonry hit so big among the aristocracy of Europe, the idea that the initiate is receiving God's special revelation given only to Freemasons and that the initiate is special enough to have been made privy to these secrets and is charged with safeguarding them from the profane. The secretiveness and mysticism is the draw and it is what keeps those who have been so drawn from leaving.

But, as stated, Masonry can only go so far to instill moral rectitude in a member. Those who hold certain ingrained beliefs will continue to hold them regardless of what Masonry has to say about it. The following example will suffice.

Just after the Civil War had ended in 1865, six former Confederate officers returned home to Pulaski, Tennessee to find the town half in ruins and occupied by Union soldiers who kept a close eye on all the goings-on. While trying to rebuild the town, residents found themselves with little diversion. The six officers, all college-educated, decided to amuse themselves by forming a secret fraternity. Since college fraternities are always named in Greek, the men decided to call themselves the "Circle" in Greek, which is "Kuklos." They further decided to obscure the word to make it less decipherable and modified "Kuklos" to "Kuklux." Since they were all of Scottish-Irish descent, as with most of Pulaski's residents, someone suggested adding "Clan" only spelling it with a "K." All agreed that the addition of "Klan" added a spooky quality to the phrase—"Like old bones rattling together," one of them was later to say. They needed a distinctive form of dress and so put on sheets and masks and decorated them since no one was to recognize them in public. This newly formed Ku Klux Klan ("Ku" is pronounced "Cue") then went about crashing parties and speaking to people is whispery, mysterious tones and dancing with the ladies. It was all in fun and everyone knew who the Ku Klux Klan actually were and had fun with it. Soon other men wanted to join and were inducted in ceremonies designed purely out of fun and culminated in the initiate being crowned with donkey ears in order to show him what an ass he had made of himself.

Some of the young men went to nearby towns and regaled the people there with stories of their exploits in the Ku Klux Klan. Soon these nearby towns began to inquire about starting their own chapters and received permission to do so. When crashing parties and what not became stale, the men in the Ku Klux Klan began to look for other forms of entertainment. Someone got the idea of riding in the night in areas where the former-slaves lived and scaring them by making them think they were ghosts of the Confederate dead. At first, these were just harmless pranks. A skeleton arm would be procured, for example, and when the Klansmen found a black man walking along the road, would tell him they were ghosts. One would then approach him and offer to shake hands and then let the skeleton arm come off in the black man's grip. The black man would emit an exaggerated scream and flee while the Klansmen laughed themselves silly. Of course, the blacks were not fooled. They knew very well who was under those sheets but, by playing along, could avoid something worse happening. Some ex-slaves appeared to take advantage of the situation. In one case, a black sharecropper deeply in debt to a white man, met the Klan one night, shook hands, screamed, took off running, and was never seen again. A novel way to get out of debt.

Eventually, though, the pranks got meaner and meaner until they were acts of outright terror and murder. At this point, some Southern leaders began to realize the value of a secret Klan as a tool to fight Lincoln's plan of Reconstruction. They formed a new, special Klan for this purpose and contacted Nathan Bedford Forrest of Memphis to act as its leader. Forrest had been a general in the Confederate Army. A brave fighter, having had almost two dozen horses shot out from under him, he was also brutal and even those who outranked him feared him. Forrest was known to grab other generals by the head and bang it off a tree a few times to make his point. The treatment of captured black Union soldiers by troops under his command practically surpasses belief. Forrest liked the idea of a Ku Klux Klan to fight Reconstruction, drive out the Carpetbaggers and teach blacks their proper station in Southern society. He accepted the post.

Forrest knew that he could not structure the Klan properly and effectively without help. So he turned to a man he knew could do the job. This man lived in Arkansas which was governed by a Carpetbagger named Powell Clayton. Stanley F. Horn in his 1969 book, Invisible Empire, writes: "General Forrest came over into Arkansas from Memphis with the new Ku Klux Klan idea and enlisted the assistance of the influential Albert Pike in its establishment in the state….A better promoter of the idea than General Pike could not have been found…." Boston-born Brigadier General Pike had been an intelligence officer under Robert E. Lee as well as an avid magician and occultist. In addition, he was a lawyer and Indian administrator. He even got many Indians to enlist in the Civil War for the Confederate cause. He was also a high-ranking Freemason and had authored an impressive number of books on the subject of which he demonstrated himself extremely knowledgeable. In fact, a great deal of our knowledge regarding occultism and Freemasonry today comes from the works of Albert Pike. He is the single most important factor in the establishment of the 32-degree Masonic system called the Scottish Rite (explained later). By far the most practiced form of Freemasonry in America (the other form is called the York Rite).

True to his Masonic training, Pike resorted to their way of instituting a structure in an organization. In his book, Unholy Alliance, author Peter Levenda informs us that Pike wrote the Klansmen's constitution for them in Nashville in 1867. This is the same thing the author of the Old Charges did, what Anderson did for the Grand Lodge, what the Founding Fathers had done with the new American government and now what Pike did for the Klan—write a constitution. Klan dens were established complete with passwords and secret handshakes (called grips) just as we have with Masonic Lodges. Forrest was called the Grand Wizard, presumably a variation of Grand Master. Masonic emblems were borrowed and used in Klan communications and written threats. These included mainly the coffin and the skull-&-crossbones, both extremely important to Freemasonry.
In short, Freemasonry gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan. Without Freemasonry, the Klan has no structure. Like Freemasonry, the Klan relies on secret initiation to attract and keep members. When David Duke took over the Klan in the late 70s, he tried to do away with the robes, passwords, grips, and mystical titles—all the, what might be called, klaptrap. He called himself National Director rather than Grand Dragon or Grand Wizard. Immediately, Duke's Klan began to lose members. One of them was Bill Wilkinson who then formed his own Klan where he reinstated the mysticism full force.
Before long, Wilkinson's Klan was larger than Duke's and growing ever larger while Duke's was shrinking. In fact, most of the new members of Wilkinson's Klan were defectors from Duke's camp. Eventually, Duke was forced to toss in the towel and resign from his own Klan by which time he was virtually its only member.

So both the Klan and the Freemasons show us the power of initiation. Initiation is the glue that binds a secret or occult organization together. Pike knew it and that was why he borrowed Masonic emblems and provided the Klan with its own set of passwords, grips and titles. He was right. One doesn't simply join such organizations, one belongs to them.

Again, however, Freemasonry does not deserve to be attacked for giving birth to the Klan because this was the work of one man and not the Grand Lodges. The same cannot be said for Albert Pike, however. His forming of the Ku Klux Klan was unconscionable and his shamelessly borrowing from Freemasonry to accomplish the task makes it only more so. But this does demonstrate that Freemasonry or any such system can be misused and can go, in the blink of an eye, from proclaiming and protecting the basic human rights of an individual to abusing them.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:58 PM

Masonic Metaphysics

Basic Freemasonry depends on three primary degrees of initiation, called the Symbolic Degrees, which appears to be an idea taken from the Druids althought the names of the degrees are obviously different:

1.        Entered Apprentice
2.        Fellowcraft
3.        Master Mason

They are often called the Blue Lodge Degrees and the ordeal suffered by the initiate are symbolic rather than physical. These degrees are also often called the Blue Degrees.
The term "Blue Lodge" is taken from another Masonic emblem explained to the initiate during the Entered Apprentice rite and called the cloudy canopy or the starry-decked heavens which depicts a ladder, often three-runged, going from the ground to the clouds and then a break in the clouds above the ladder reveals seven stars. The three rungs are labeled from top to bottom as "C," "H," and "F." It is called the canopy that hangs over the lodge and is generally blue in color and hence the term "Blue Lodge." We'll cover the meaning of the blue canopy shortly.

I am not interested in going through each degree meticulously revealing the grips and passwords as this is a largely boring exercise in futility. We are, however, interested in the third degree or Master Mason initiation. When one first enters into Masonry as an Entered Apprentice, one is given a lambskin apron which one wears in funny ways until attaining the third degree. This lets other Masons in the lodge know who the novices are and how far along they are to becoming Master Masons. One must pass through the first two degrees. To be a full-fledged Mason, one must be a Master Mason. After attaining the third degree, one is not required to attain any higher ones, those are purely voluntary. One can, in fact, become Master of a lodge without having attained more than the third degree while ordinary lodge members could be of any higher degree.

In America, there are two basic rites practiced: Scottish Rite and York Rite.

The Scottish Rite

The most popular is Scottish Rite, which was made popular in America by Albert Pike. Ironically, the Scottish Rite did not originate in Scotland nor was ever practiced there. It started in France by an 18th century Scotsman, the Chevalier Andrew Ramsay—as is generally believed. The French called it Rite Ecossais or "Scottish Rite." Its emblem is the double-headed eagle. The Scottish Rite uses a 32-degree system:

1.        Entered Apprentice
2.        Fellowcraft
3.        Master Mason

These first three are the Symbolic degrees conferred by the Symbolic lodges and constituted by the Grand Lodge.

4.        Secret Master
5.        Perfect Master
6.        Intimate Secretary
7.        Provost and Judge
8.        Intendant of the Building
9.        Master Elect of Nine
10.        Master Elect of Fifteen
11.        Sublime Master Elected
12.        Grand Master Architect
13.        Master of the Ninth Arch
14.        Grand Elect Mason

4-14 are called the Ineffable Grades and are conferred in a 14° Lodge of Perfection, and constituted by a 33° Supreme Council.

15.        Knight of the East or Sword
16.        Prince of Jerusalem

15 and 16 are called the Ancient and Traditional Grades and are conferred in a council of Princes of Jerusalem.

17.        Knight of the East and West
18.        Knight of the Rose Croix de H-R-D-M

17 and 18 are the Ancient Historical and Traditional Grades conferred in a chapter of Rose Croix de H-R-D-M.

19.        Grand Pontiff
20.        Master ad Vitam
21.        Patriarch Noachite
22.        Prince of Libanus
23.        Chief of the Tabernacle
24.        Prince of Tabernacle
25.        Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26.        Prince of Mercy
27.        Commander of the Temple
28.        Knight of the Sun
29.        Knight of St. Andrew
30.        Grand Elect Kadosh or Knight of the White and Black Eagle
31.        Grand Inspector Inquisitor Cammander
32.        Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

19-32 are called the Modern Historical, Chivalric, and Philosophical Grades and are conferred in a Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret.

33.        Sovereign Grand Inspector General

This last grade is called, oddly, the Official Grades (I don't know why it is plural for a single grade). The one who receives the 33rd degree becames a member of The Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, better known as a Shriner. The degree, founded in New York in 1870, is conferred in the 33° Supreme Council upon those whom the Supreme Council elects.

The York Rite

Far less known, is the York Rite. The York Rite should really be called the American Rite. The pre-eminent Masonic historian, Albert Mackey, explains that what is called the York Rite in America is really a misnomer. He writes: "…the York Rite properly consists of only the degrees Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, including in the last degree the Holy Royal Arch. This was the Masonry that existed in England at the time of the revival of the Grand Lodge in 1717." The American Rite, by contrast, consists of nine degrees:

1.        Entered Apprentice
2.        Fellow Craft
3.        Master Mason
4.        Mark Master
5.        Past Master
6.        Most Excellent Master
7.        Holy Royal Arch
8.        Royal Master
9.        Select Master

The first three are conferred in the Symbolic lodges and are constituted by the Grand Lodge. The next four are conferred in the chapters and constituted by the Grand Chapters. The last two are conferred in the councils and constituted by the Grand Councils.

10.        Super-Excellent Master

This degree is conferred as an honorary degree in some councils and ignored by Grand Councils of some states. Some councils confer it as a regular degree.

11.        Knight of the Red Cross
12.        Knight Templar
13.        Knight of Malta

These last three, called the degrees of Chivalry, are conferred in the commanderies (assemblies of Knights-Templars) and constituted by the Grand Commandery (three or more commanderies in a single state) but are not strictly speaking a part of the American Rite because one does not even have to complete the initial nine degrees to receive any of the degrees of Chivalry.

Upon receiving the Knight Templar degree, a Mason of the York Rite is eligible to be elected a Shriner. Shriners are considered to have reached the pinnacle of American Masonry but the degree is not recognized outside of America.

The other form of Masonry we must cover is Royal Arch Masonry.

Royal Arch Masonry

Royal Arch Masonry is believed to have started in France approximately 1750 by Chevalier de Ramsay once again. But some Masonic historians have traced its origins to Ireland. In 1813, the two main schools of Masonry: Ancient and Modern were united and the Holy Royal Arch Degree was declared an official part of Ancient Craft Masonry and so it is to this day. In America, Royal Arch Masonry was worked into the degree system of both the Scottish and York Rites. One attains the Royal Arch at the seventh degree of the York Rite and at the thirteenth degree of the Scottish Rite.

Upon attaining the Royal Arch, the initiate receives the name of the Great Architect: Jahbulon. This is a composite name. "Jah" comes from Jehovah, "Bul" comes from Baal, and "On" is derived from Osiris. The conspiracists and anti-Masons seize on the Royal Arch as proof of their accusations that Freemasonry is anti-Christian. After all, Baal was described in the Hebrew bible as evil. For worshiping the wicked Baal, Moses ordered all the Midianites to be slain by the Hebrew army. The army slaughtered the men but spared the women and children. Moses became infuriated at their sentimentality and orders that all male children be killed and only female virgins spared and distributed among the soldiery as concubines. The army does as Moses orders. The secret is only that the Royal Arch Masons are opposed to the horrible behavior of Moses and showing their sympathy to his Midianite victims by incorporating the name of their god, Baal. It is extremely unlikely that Ramsay, a staunch Catholic, thought up the name Jahbulon.

As mentioned earlier, to facilitate the initiation process, the lodges resorted to the use of tracing board diagrams, which could then be explained to the initiate quickly. The tracing board diagram of the Entered Apprentice depicts many emblems such as Jacob's Ladder, the Tessellated Border, the Chequered Floor, the Level, the Square, the Hammer, the Cross, the Key, the Anchor, the Three Pillars of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the Rough Ashlar, the Altar, etc. The tracing board diagram of the Fellowcraft depicts such emblems as the Two Pillars of Jachin and Boaz, and the 15-Step Winding Staircase. The tracing board diagram of the Master Mason depicts a coffin with a skull & crossbones on the lid along with the number 555 and other emblems and above the coffin is a sprig of acacia. Each of the Blue Lodge Degrees is accompanied by a ritual that explains the tracing board diagram for that specific degree.

The third degree ritual is of great interest to us. It is more or less a mystery play called The Murder of Hiram Abiff. Briefly, Hiram Abiff is a master builder who is in charge of building King Solomon's temple. As a master builder, Hiram possess what is called "The Master's Word" which is secret. One day, three of Hiram's craftsmen—Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum—decide to extort the Master's Word from Hiram. They get 12 other craftsmen to assist them but they eventually back out and the three errant craftsmen—the Three Ruffians, as they are called—decide to go ahead on their own with their plan. As Hiram prepares to leave the temple, still unfinished, during the workman's break at high twelve he heads toward the unfinished sanctum sanctorum by the south gate and runs into Jubela who demands the Master's Word, which Hiram refuses to give him. Jubela cuts Hiram across the neck with a 24-inch ruler. Stunned and bleeding, Hiram staggers to the west gate and is met by Jubelo who demands the Master's Word, which Hiram refuses to divulge. Jubelo strikes Hiram with a square upon his left breast. Hiram now stumbles towards the east gate where he is met by Jubelum who once more demands the Master's Word and once more Hiram refuses to divulge it. Jubelum strikes Hiram a blow to the forehead with a setting maul and Hiram falls to the floor a corpse.

The Three Ruffians then hide Hiram's body under some rubble and then at low twelve remove Hiram's body westward and take it to a hill west of Mount Moriah and bury him in a grave six feet perpendicular with his head to the west and his feet to the east. Then they plant a spring of acacia over the head of the grave. Eventually, the grave is discovered and Hiram's corpse is pulled from its grave by using the "Lion's Paw" or "Lion's Grip" (this grip is also the third degree handshake). With this grip, he is brought to his feet and, through the Five Points of Fellowship, is then resurrected with the secret word whispered in his ear, which in the ritual is given as "Mah-Hah-Bone."

There is more to the story but that is as far as we need to cover of it. It explains the meaning of the tracing board diagram for this degree. We can now begin exploring some of the more esoteric and occult aspects of Freemasonry.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:59 PM

In the last few years, Masonry has revealed many of its secrets to the public partly in an effort to show that it is not hiding anything such as a conspiracy to destroy all sovereignty and install a Jewish-Masonic one-world government. But that doesn't mean that the public really understands the Masonic secrets—or even that most Masons do.
A Mason named Manly Hall coined the term "astro-theology" which signifies that the stories of the gods are really told in the heavens. Masonry is no different. Most Masons are aware that Hiram Abiff is really the sun. If we examine the story, we find an unmistakable solar allegory.

Hiram represents the sun at the autumnal equinox. The three blows he receives that kills him a little more each time are the three wintry signs of Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn, which causes the daylight to grow shorter with each passing day. At Capricorn, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year occurs and that is the death of the sun. The acacia tree symbolizes eternal life and so its being planted over the grave tells us that Hiram does not lie permanently dead, that he still lives. His being raised with the Lion's Paw grip represents the Lion of the zodiac, Leo, during the summer grabbing the dead sun/Osiris and pulling him from his grave towards his resurrection in the spring and his exaltation at the summer solstice.

What about the term Royal Arch? What does it signify? Really, the Royal Arch and the Three Pillars of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty can be united. During the course of the year, the sun travels from vernal equinox to summer solstice to autumnal equinox. The Pillar of Beauty represents the vernal equinox because spring is the time of birth/rebirth when everything is fresh and new. The Pillar of Strength represents the summer solstice when the sun is at its greatest height in the heavens and therefore in the height of its strength and represents adulthood where a person is at the zenith of his strength. The Pillar of Wisdom represents the autumnal equinox when the leaves turn and the year has aged and with age comes wisdom. Now, in a stone arch, the keystone is a sort of wedge-shaped stone larger than the others and it wedges in between the other stones at the exact center and highest point of the arch, pushing them together and stabilizing the arch. So, on the summer solstice, the sun symbolizes the keystone because it is at its highest point in the in the royal vault of heaven. The arch of heaven is formed by the signs of the zodiac which the sun passes through in succession. At that highest point, the sun—the keystone of the arch—is held up by the Pillar of Strength. The zodiacal arch is supported at each end by the Pillars of Beauty and Wisdom.

What about the blue banner of the Starry-Decked Heavens or Cloudy Canopy over the lodge? Again, the banner depicts a ladder going from the ground to the clouds and above the ladder the clouds are parting and revealing seven stars. What is its astro-theological meaning? The ladder again harks back to shamanism once more—the initiate who climbs from earth to heaven to commune with the gods. The ladder usually has three rungs or several rungs with three principle ones. The lowest rung is labeled F. The middle one is labeled H. The top rung is labeled C. F, H and C stand for Faith, Hope and Charity. The three-runged ladder represents the three astrological signs of Aquarius, Pisces and Taurus. The ladder is resting on the ground, which is Capricorn. The seven stars are the Pleides which are located in Taurus. The allegory describes the sun's course from the winter solstice in Capricorn up the three rungs of Aquarius, Pisces and Aries where the vernal equinox or rebirth will take place. The lowest rung of the ladder is Faith because we can only at that time have faith that the sun will return and not leave us stranded in the cold, dead winter. The next rung is labeled Hope because, as the days grow slowly longer, we now have true hope that spring will come soon. The top rung is labeled Charity because it is reborn on the vernal equinox and charitably warms the earth bringing it back to life, light and warmth. But we don't wish to stop there, we wish to continue to the highest pinnacle represented by the summer solstice and so the ladder leads up to Aries but the Pleides of Taurus beckon us ever onward and upward.

What about the 15-step winding staircase? It is divided into three groups of 3, 5, and 7 steps respectively. This 3-, 5-, and 7-step arrangement is found primarily in the United States. According to the story, this is the staircase that the craftsmen, the builders of Solomon's Temple, traverse in order to receive their wages, which are paid in corn, oil and wine. The winding staircase is encountered in the Fellowcraft degree on the tracing board. But actual stairways of this type are found in the Masonic temples (not in the lodges, however, which are different). The actual number of steps has varied in both locale and time period. Mackey writes of seeing tracing boards with only five steps. Oliver mentions a 1745 tracing board depicting seven semi-circular steps. Various English Grand Lodges have used tracing boards depicting 36 steps and 11 steps. What gives?

If we understand that astronomy and agriculture are intimately linked, we can decipher the astro-theological/occult aspects. Using the American 3, 5, 7 arrangement, we can see that the three divisions apply to each of the three Blue Degrees. The Entered Apprentice plants the seeds, the Fellowcraft raises them, the Master Mason harvests them. The E.A. plants and watches for the sprouts through the spring months of March, April, and May (3). The F.C. raises the crop during the summer months of June and July (3+2=5). The M.M. harvests in the autumn months of August and September (5+2=7). So we see that the older depictions of seven steps was really the most accurate as it contains the planting, growing and harvest seasons. The number fifteen may come from Zosimos of Panopolis who wrote in 300 CE about a dream in which he sees a priest performing a sacrifice at an altar atop fifteen steps. The priest spoke saying, "I have accomplished the action of descending the fifteen steps towards the darkness, and the action ascending the steps towards the light. The sacrifice renews me, rejecting the dense nature of the body. Thus consecrated by necessity, I become a spirit."

The corn symbolizes the spring as it is what is planted. Oil has always been a symbol of abundance and so symbolizes the summer with the earth bursting with the crops planted in the spring. The wine symbolizes the autumn after the grapes of summer have been crushed and aged.

The astro-theological allegories are all, in turn, allegories for the transformation of man as carnal beast to man as Master of the Universe (this is encapsulated in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey where man is first depicted as an ape who is transformed by some mysterious universal presence—represented by the black slab—into the master of the universe, i.e. the old man living alone in the huge, austere mansion). The allegories all center around the sun's circuit through the zodiac representing the human consciousness going through myriad changes and tribulations in order to reach the peak of its development. First, there must be a death of the lower self so that the Higher Self may begin to live and grow. The Blue Lodge Degrees, then, are symbolic of Jubela (E.A.), Jubelo (F.C.), and Jubelum (M.M.). Notice that the -a, -o, and -um suffixes are Latin and denote feminine, masculine and neuter gender respectively. Jubela and Jubelo are the dual aspects of existence. Both are united into the one, Jubelum. But Jubelum is not the One but the neuter. Before the unity of the One can be realized, the lower self must die, slain by its own passions. Then it will be reborn and the soul of the shaman within begins its ascent up the celestial ladder.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 01:06 PM

It seems like you'd be better served if you started a discrete blog that you can format and get comments on. Have you looked at Blogger or Wordpress? You can also edit those as you go, while here you would have to ask a moderator to make changes.


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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 01:08 PM

An EXCELLENT suggestion, SRS.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 01:14 PM

It's actually quite interesting. I had not made the connection of Hiram Abiff with the sun with its interesting echoes of Norse mythology.

I trust that the published version (if ever) will be fully footnoted?

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 03:12 PM

Does Josepp seriously think anyone is going to read all that ?

no way.

Dave H

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Ed T
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 03:50 PM

I read the title.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Ed T
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 03:55 PM

Is it really concise?

Were the Masons really that free?

I await the movie. I am also anxious to hear the theme song, and to learn who plays the lead role. One of the Balwin brothers may be a likely choice.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 04:02 PM

I fail to see the purpose in posting your blog in Mudcat. You admit your sources are non-Masonic and flawed.

Anyone interested in an introduction to, and brief history of, Freemasonry will find reliable information in:
Koltko-Rivera, Mark E., Freemasonry: An Introduction, Penguin Putnam Inc.
The author, a practicing 32nd Degree Mason, has written a simple and authoritative book on the order, its history and meaning.

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 06:29 PM

Ah, but, Q, can you believe anything a freemason says about freemasonry?

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Ed T
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 09:48 PM

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. — Mark Twain, American writer and Freemason

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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Bobert
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 09:58 PM

Lotta black masons...

But, yeah... Most folks are clueless...


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Subject: RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry
From: Musket
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:46 AM

Bridge, Bridge, Bridge...

Can you also believe anything a non Mason says for that matter? (Ha! changed my nickname so you can't call me Mither now.)

I have been approached a number of times, always by friends and business colleagues who genuinely felt I might enjoy membership. My curiosity went about as far as doing some reading up, (pre internet days, actually went to the library...)

Being somewhere between atheist and irreligious, I discarded the very idea on the basis of the mumbo jumbo pseudo religion aspects. (Can there be a "pseudo" religion or are they all that to an extent?)   

That said, I accepted that a night out with mates, maybe a meal, certainly a few drinks and what is now known as networking, but then was known as back scratching, was mostly harmless, even allowing for the conspiracy theorists.

Mind you, as ever, pecuniary interests and insider knowledge for public sector contracts may well have gone on. But in the same way as I had been known to attract business from friends in the pub, so not wanting to get too hypocritical about it.

These days, UK freemasonry is not as powerful in the community as before, and many people in positions of local power and influence are either women or men with better things to do with their time than wear an apron and feel silly. Added to which, recent interest in standards in public life make it ever more difficult to conduct business in anything other than a transparent way, (although not Impossible...) and perhaps freemasons can get on with their little clubs without attracting distrust in the general population?

Mind you, freemasonry is interpreted differently in different countries, and as an ex director of an Italian manufacturing company, I am more than aware of undue influence...

But here in The UK, smile, be indulgent and accept that it is a social outlet for a certain dying breed.

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