Tuesday, July 6, 2010
A Brief Explanation of Freemasonry
As a 3rd degree, "Master Mason," I have been asked by several people on what Freemasonry truly is. Many have heard the conspiracy theories and I will also correct this by passing on the origins of these rumors.
Masonry is practiced worldwide:
There are over 2 million Masons in North America and nearly 4 million worldwide. The motto of Masonry in the United States is, “Making Good Men Better.” When a man of 21 years old petitions to become a Mason, there will be a background check done on this person.
Freemasonry has no single spokesman:
Freemasonry is made up of many individuals in numerous organizations, all subordinate to the Grand Lodge within their jurisdiction (i.e. state). So there are 50 Grand Lodges within the United States. None of these members or organizations can speak for Freemasonry; that is the responsibility of each Grand Lodge within its jurisdiction.
Freemasonry is made up of many organizations:
Masonry has many groups, each with a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. A man becomes a 3rd degree, "Master Mason," in his local Blue Lodge, then he can join any of the following "Appendant Bodies": the Scottish Rite, York Rite (which includes the Royal Arch, Council and Knights Templar), Shrine, Grotto, Tall Cedars, etc.
The Blue Lodge is what most people see in their neighborhoods and where every Freemason starts. Being elected to the officer’s chairs (from Jr. and Sr. Steward, Jr. and Sr. Deacon, Jr. and Sr. Wardens, and Worshipful Master), all can be obtained as a 3rd degree Mason. To have been a "Past Worshipful Master" is more prestigious, has more clout and honor than someone who has obtained 32nd degree in one of the other Rites. The Blue Lodge Masonic organizations are dedicated to the benefit of society through improvement of the individual. By morality lessons and peer association, they promote behaviors which civilize the man and strengthen his society. This is consistent with the 1st to 3rd degree Blue Lodge lessons which teach a man to be a better husband, father, son, neighbor, and citizen. All practice local charity and usually sponsor educational scholarships. In the final analysis Blue Lodge Masons are champions of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
I must admit that while I progress through the officer chairs of the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite is the direction of Masonry I intend to obtain my 4th through 32nd degree work.
The history of the Scottish Rite, as with so much of Masonry, begins in a mist of uncertainty. Although there are many Scottish Rite members of Scottish ancestry, the Scottish Rite actually originated in southern France by the Jacobites who escaped Scotland after their failed rebellion against the British in the early 18th century, as part of the Rite of Perfection. Scottish Rite Masonry is the champion of individual freedoms and citizenship rights as well as responsibilities. A Scottish Rite Mason is urged to take an active leadership role in the promotion and protection of individual rights: government by democracy, free speech and press, equitable treatment before the law, freedom of religion and the individual, and separation of church and state. Good men of other religions (Jews, Moslems, Hindus, etc.) believing in Deity may become Scottish Rite Masons. Scottish Rite Freemasons support 122 Childhood Learning Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs and their hospitals in Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, treating children with orthopedic, neurological, and learning disabilities.
York Rite Masonry in its concluding Degrees or Orders is the champion of Christianity. A man must pledge to defend Christianity to become a Knight Templar Freemason in the York Rite. York Rite philanthropic aspect deals with Arteriosclerosis.
The Shriners are probably the most recognized in Thanksgiving Day parades riding in the little cars with the fezze hats that the members wear. In 1870, several thousand of the 900,000 residents of Manhattan were Masons. Many of these Masons made it a point to lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage, a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue. At a special table on the second floor, a particularly jovial group of men used to meet regularly. The Masons who gathered at this table were noted for their good humor and wit. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons, in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual. Two of the table regulars, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence, an actor, took the idea seriously enough to do something about it.
Established in 1870 is an appendant body to Freemasonry based in the United States, the organization is best-known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children they administer. The organization is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth.
Tall Cedars of Lebanon:
This Rite started in 1843 with some very energetic and imaginative Master Masons who dreamed up the idea of a Tall Cedar Degree, and in those days the degree was called " The Ancient and Honorable Rite of Humility." It was some time around 1846, after the meetings of the Grand Lodge and some of the Blue Lodges in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area that they would have the Tall Cedar Degree performed. The name "Tall Cedar Degree" does not reveal itself other than the possibility of a somewhat shorter title than the aforementioned, and this was to remain as such until they adopted the title of " Tall Cedars of Lebanon of the United States of America" upon incorporation in 1902. The Tall Cedars philanthropic aspect deals with finding a cure for Muscular Dystrophy and neuromuscular diseases.
The Grotto Rite was originally styled the Fairchild Deviltry Committee as a social group for Master Masons founded 10 September 1889 by LeRoy Fairchild in Hamilton, New York. It originated in a series of informal meetings, where Master Masons gathered for relaxation and laughs. Promoting the Golden Rule and good fellowship, their full title, the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, was adopted 13 June 1890. There are Grottoes throughout the United States and Canada whose principle charity is to help children with Cerebral Palsy, and they also support a "Dentistry for the Handicapped" program.
Here is where the conspiracy theories began and even though they have been disproved shortly after they started, there are those who find it profitable to continue to promote the admitted scam started by Léo Taxil in France and revealed for what his real motivation was on April 19, 1897.
"Lucifer" as Latin name for the Morning Star:
In Latin, the word "Lucifer", meaning "Light-Bringer" from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre, "to bear, bring," is a name used for the Morning Star, the planet Venus, in its dawn appearances. The word is used in its astronomical sense both in prose and poetry, but most poets personify the star in a mythological context.
Léo Taxil’s Hoax:
Léo Taxil, whose real name is Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, claimed that Freemasonry is associated with worshipping Lucifer. In what is known as the Taxil hoax, he claimed that supposedly leading Freemason Albert Pike had addressed "The 23 Supreme Confederated Councils of the world," an invention of Taxil, instructing them that Lucifer was God, and was in opposition to the evil god Adonai. Albert Pike was the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction in 1859 and remained Sovereign Grand Commander for the remainder of his life, a total of thirty-two years, devoting a large amount of his time to developing the rituals of the order. He published a book called, “Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1871.
Apologists of Freemasonry contend that, when Albert Pike and other Masonic scholars spoke about the "Luciferian path," or the "energies of Lucifer," they were referring to the Morning Star, the light bearer, the search for light; the very antithesis of dark, satanic evil.
Léo Taxil promoted a book by Diana Vaughan, which was actually written by himself, as he later confessed publicly, that purported to reveal a highly secret ruling body called the, “Palladium,” which controlled the organization and had a Satanic agenda. As described by his book, "Freemasonry Disclosed," in 1897:
Quote from Léo Taxil:
"With frightening cynicism, the miserable person we shall not name here (Taxil) declared before an assembly especially convened for him that for twelve years he had prepared and carried out to the end the most sacrilegious of hoaxes. We have always been careful to publish special articles concerning Palladism and Diana Vaughan. We are now giving in this issue a complete list of these articles, which can now be considered as not having existed."
This false information came from Léo Taxil, which was the pen name of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès. Léo Taxil hired a prostitute by the name of, Diana Vaughan, who was supposed to be the female involved in Satanic Freemasonry rituals. On April 19, 1897 Taxil called a press conference at which he claimed he would introduce Diana Vaughan to the press. He instead announced that many of his revelations about the Freemasons were nothing more than a fictitious con job.
Taxil's work and Pike's address continue to be quoted by anti-Masonic groups.
The Order of Palladium:
Palladists is a name for an alleged Theistic Satanist society or member of that society. The name Palladian comes from Pallas and refers to wisdom and learning.
Lewis Spence, in the book, “An Encyclopedia of Occultism” written in 1920, asserted that "The Order of Palladium founded in Paris 20 May 1737 or Sovereign Council of Wisdom" was a “Masonic diabolic order.” Women, according to Spence, were initiated as "Companions of Penelope". The society had two orders, "Adelph" and "Companion of Ulysses"; however the society was broken up by French law enforcement a few years after its foundation.
In 1891 Léo Taxil and Adolphe Ricoux claimed to have discovered a Palladian Society. An 1892 French book Le Diable au XIXe siècle (The Devil in the 19th Century", 1892), written by "Dr. Bataille," which was actually written by Léo Taxil himself, alleged that Palladists were Satanists based in Charleston, South Carolina headed by the American Scottish Rite Freemason, Albert Pike, and created by the Italian liberal patriot and author, Giuseppe Mazzini.
Léo Taxil supposedly found Diana Vaughan and published the book, “Confessions of an Ex-Palladist,” in 1895. On April 19, 1897 Léo Taxil called a press conference at which, he claimed, he would introduce Diana Vaughan to the press. At the conference instead he announced that his revelations about the Freemasons were fictitious. He thanked the Catholic Clergy for their assistance in giving publicity to his wild claims.
Consequently, it is clear now in the light of history that the Palladists never existed as a historical reality and were, in fact, entirely an invention of Léo Taxil created for the purpose of embarrassing the Catholic Church.
Eye of Providence:
Conspiracy theorists which have been mostly religious intolerants, like to point to the "Eye in the Pyramid" in the Great Seal of the United States. The simple fact is that the eye in the pyramid is not now nor has it ever been a Masonic symbol.
The "Eye of Providence" sometimes referred to in Masonic ritual as the "All-Seeing Eye" (of Deity) is found in the ritual of most jurisdictions, reminding a Mason that his words and deeds are being judged by the Supreme Architect of the Universe. The pyramid appears in the ritual of some, and not all jurisdictions, represents the great "Stone Mason" builders of the past. However, their combined usage of the eye and pyramid is essentially non-existent. There is NO "official" combination of the eye and the pyramid in Masonry!
NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM:
The phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum (Latin for "New Order of the Ages") appears on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States first designed in 1782 and printed on the back of the American dollar bill since 1935. The phrase also appears on the coat of arms of the Yale School of Management, Yale University’s business school. The phrase is often mistranslated as “New World Order,” for which the Latin would be Novus Ordo Mundi.
The Latin statement "ANNUIT COEPTIS" is found within "the great seal" emblem on the back of the United States dollar bill just above the "The Eye of Providence" pyramid image. New scientific studies suggest the statement expresses a conceptual view in which early timekeepers once used special crystal-base paint or magnetically ingrained stone material to optically reflect radiant starlight energy from pyramid tops as an annual measuring technique to mark the beginning of a new year. "ANNUIT COEPTIS" could mean "annual conception" or "yearly beginning" as a scientific statement when early timekeepers and governmental leaders wanted to express a method of measuring and counting annual time for official public record keeping. This scientific statement became the "new selected order" - as in the "Novus Ordo Seclorum" Latin statement also found within "the great seal" emblem.
Well I hope that this helps explains what Freemasonry is and please feel free to ask me any questions you may have as I have just touched on subjects that are much deeper.