Tag Archives: freemasonry

Is It Masonry?

Is it Masonry

To dare to take God’s name in vain,

Or be careful of our speech;

From evil thoughts and words refrain,

And practice what we preach?

 

Is it Masonry

To boast of your fine jewels,

Or purify your heart;

To be a man and Mason

And act a Mason’s part?

 

Is it Masonry

To fail to help your brothers,

Or your obligations fill?

To leave it for the others,

Or mean and say “I Will”?

— F G Oliver, 1915

The Palace

When I was a King and a Mason—

A Master Proven and skilled—

I cleared me ground for a Palace

Such as a King should build.

I decreed and dug down to my levels;

Presently, under the silt,

I came upon the wreck of a Palace,

Such as a King had built.

 

There was no worth in the fashion—

There was no wit in the plan;

Hither and thither, aimless,

The ruined footings ran.

Masonry, brute, mishandled,

But carven on every stone,

“After me cometh a Builder;

Tell him I, too, have known.”

 

Swift to my use in my trenches,

Where my well-planned groundworks grew,

I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars,

And cut and rest them anew.

Lime I milled of his marbles;

Burned it, slacked it, and spread;

Taking and leaving at pleasure

The gifts of the humble dead.

 

Yet, I despised nor not gloried

Yet, as we wrenched them apart,

I read in the razed foundation

The heart of that builder’s heart.

As he has risen and pleaded,

So did I understand

The form of the dream he had followed

In the face of the thing he had planned.

 

When I was a King and a Mason,

In the open noon of my pride,

They sent me a Word from the Darkness—

They whispered and called me aside.

They said, “The end is forbidden.”

They said, “Thy use is fulfilled.

Thy Palace shall stand as that other’s—

The spoil of a King who shall build.”

 

I called my men from my trenches,

My quarries, my wharves, and my sheers;

All I had wrought I abandoned

To the faith of the faithless years.

Only I cut on the timber—

Only I carved on the stone:

“After me cometh a Builder;

Tell him I, too, have known!”

— Rudyard Kipling

Handbook of Freemasonry

Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek, part of the Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion series, may be of interest. You can take a gander at the table of contents and introduction posted by Henrik Bogdan.

Henrik Bogdan Jan A M Snoek Handbook on Freemasonry from Brill

“Freemasonry is the largest, oldest, and most influential secret society in the world. The Brill Handbook of Freemasonry is a pioneering work that brings together, for the first time, leading scholars on Freemasonry. The first section covers historical perspectives, such as the origins and early history of Freemasonry. The second deals with the relationship between Freemasonry and specific religious traditions such as the Catholic Church, Judaism, and Islam. In the third section, organisational themes, such as the use of rituals, are explored, while the fourth section deals with issues related to society and politics – women, blacks, colonialism, nationalism, and war. The fifth and final section is devoted to Freemasonry and culture, including music, literature, modern art, architecture and material culture.” [via]

Omnium Gatherum: July 25th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 25th, 2014

William Mortensen The Mark of the Devil
The Mark of the Devil by William Mortensen at The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE

 

Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:

  • Excerpt from Hugo Gernsmack’s The Scientific Adventures of Baron Munchausen quoted at U-Boats, Spies, and White Magic: The Invention of Wireless Cryptography — Grant Wythoff, Gizmodo

    “When one contemplates the marvel of sculptured sound on a graphophonic record, and realizes that from the cold vorticity of line there may magically spring the golden lilt of the greatest song voice that the world has ever heard, then comes the conviction that we are living in the days of white magic.”

  • Bringing Back a Lost Museum — Laura C Mallonee, Hyperallergic

    “In 1945, workers at Brown University’s biology department were clearing out storage space when they stumbled on a giant trove of natural and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. The collection had belonged to the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, founded at the school in 1871 and dismantled in 1915 to make way for new classrooms. Inexplicably, the workers drove 92 truckloads worth of the carefully curated objects to the banks of the Seekonk River, where they unloaded them into a common dump.

    Now, the collection has been resurrected from that mire by “The Jenks Society for Lost Museums” — a group of students and professors from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design — with the help of artist Mark Dion. Like previous attempts to reimagine destroyed museums, their three collaborative installations, on view at Rhode Island Hall, recreates parts of the museum while challenging assumptions about permanence in museum work.”

  • The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE

    “Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of him—he was written into a footnote by the “straight photography” school of the 1950s, and referred to as “the Antichrist” by Ansel Adams, a tag that stuck after Anton LaVey dedicated The Satanic Bible to him. Primarily known as a Hollywood portrait artist, he developed a myriad of pre-Photoshop special effects to craft grotesque, erotic, and mystical images. This fall, Feral House will release [American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen], a monograph on his occult photography.”

  • Haiti Doesn’t Have a Vodou Problem, It Has a Christianity Problem — France François, Ebony

    “Contrary to the Cardinal’s statement, Vodou is not Haiti’s problem; Christianity is. No push to spread Vodou ever wiped out entire “savage” indigenous peoples. Vodou has caused no wars due to a desire to convert as many people as possible. Vodou doesn’t tell “saved souls” that they must be complacent, accepting their lot on Earth for the potential of future salvation in heaven. Vodou never told Black people they were a curse or 3/5ths of a person.

    Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.

    Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it.”

  • Newly-discovered records show history of black Masonic lodge in Winfield — Dave Seaton, Winfield Daily Courier

    “A treasure trove of Winfield history was recently discovered in the dilapidated two-story building at 1307 Main, just north of the Dawson Monument Company.

    Realtors Jeff Albright and Jeff Everhart found a trunk upstairs full of records and memorabilia from the former black Masonic lodge here. They also found the lodge’s gavel.”

    “In its heyday, the Winfield lodge hosted a gathering of individual chapters of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, the organization of black Masonic lodges in the state. The event took place Aug. 20-21, 1917. An estimated 200 Masons attended from around the state.”

  • From the Introduction by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek to Handbook of Freemasonry from Brill

    “With roots going back to the medieval guilds of stonemasons, Freemasonry is the oldest initiatory society in the West not dependant on a religious institution. Having lodges in virtually every major city in most parts of the world, it has changed from an originally British institution to a worldwide phenomenon with a wide range of local idiosyncratic features and characteristics. Numbering millions of active members it is also the largest fraternal organization in the world, still managing to attract new members in the postmodern society of the twenty-first century. The continued presence and development of Freemasonry with its rich diversity in practices and interpretations, raises the question what it is that makes such an old phenomenon seem relevant to so many diverse people for over three hundred years? There is no single answer to the question, but part of it surely rests on the fact that despite its emphasis on tradition, transmission and authority, Freemasonry has always been a non-dogmatic organisation in the sense that its rituals, symbols and practices have not had official and final interpretations. On the contrary, Freemasonry is characterised by a striking diversity of interpretation—it is thus possible to find purely moral interpretations of its central symbols, but also scientific, psychological, esoteric, political, philosophical, religious etc. interpretations of the same symbols—a fact that will become more than apparent by reading the various chapters of this handbook.”

  • Bible Cross-References — Chris Harrison [HT Hemant Mehta]

    “He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum – something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level – as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.”

    Chris Harrison Bible Cross- References

     

  • An Incredible Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions — Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist

    “Now, computer programmer Daniel G. Taylor has taken all that data and turned it into a visual masterpiece.

    His website, BibViz (Bible Visualization), gives you the same linking arcs as before, but when you hover over one of them, it lights up and tells you in the upper right-hand corner of the screen which verses are being linked together. Click on an arc and it takes you directly to those verses as compiled in the Skeptics Annotated Bible:”

    Daniel G Taylor The Holy Bible contradictions

     

  • Routes of Wholeness: Jungian and Post-Jungian Dialogues with the Western Esoteric Tree of Life — Lloyd Kenton Keane, a thesis

    “This thesis compares and contrasts what could be considered two psycho-spiritual traditions: analytical psychology and the Western Esoteric Tradition. A common link between these two traditions is the use of symbols and metaphors of wholeness, specifically the sefirot of the Western Esoteric Tree of Life.”

  • Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy — Catherine Brahic, New Scientist

    “Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.”

  • Baleen and sperm whales are ocean’s ‘ecosystem engineers,’ new study says — James Maynard, Tech Times [HT Slashdot]

    “Baleen and sperm whales act like ecosystem engineers in the global ocean, according to a new study from the University of Vermont. Whales help maintain the global ecological balance due, in part, to the release of vast quantities of feces.

    A new study examined decades of research on the marine mammals and their role in maintaining the balance of life in oceans.”

  • Rupert Sheldrake quoted at Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries — John Horgan, Cross-Check at Scientific American [HT Boing Boing]

    “We both agree that science is at present limited by assumptions that restrict enquiry, and we agree that there are major unsolved problems about consciousness, cosmology and other areas of science… I am proposing testable hypotheses that could take us forward and open up new frontiers of scientific enquiry.”

  • Aleister Crowley: Legend of the Beast (Review) — Blacktooth, Horror Society

    “What astounds me is how ignorance has played into turning Aleister Crowley into a myth instead of a historical figure. Instead of being known as a educated man who was a freethinker that went against the norm he goes down as a Satanist […] This is due to how close-minded the masses are now and how they were then. That is why this bio-pic is so brilliant and powerful. It sheds light on one of the most misunderstood figures in history.”

  • Avoid the Uninitiated Mob — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Disregard the angry clamour of the lying masses; avoid the uninitiated mob, and you will know happiness and the truth that is revealed to few.”

  • Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books — Kelly Jensen, Book Riot

    “It is not the goal of the library to make money. Nor is it the goal of the library to create levels of service so that those who can afford to indulge will receive more while those who can’t, don’t. Instead, libraries work to ensure their services reach as many facets of their community as possible. Libraries want to offer what they can to those who have nothing and those who maybe have everything.

    The library is the center and the heart of community.”

 

If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

The Builders

If in the rearing of an edifice

We form one stone that makes the perfect whole;

To us ‘twould be the beau-ideal of bliss

And prove glad unction to the work-worn soul.

A Temple with proportions just and true

Can but erected be by Masons skilled,

Instructed by an Architect who knew

Exactly how to tell them what to build.

And he taught us—however small the stone—

To plumb and level by th’ unerring Square—

To make it pattern, so that all might own

‘Twas strong and beautiful beyond compare,—

With Chisel and with Gavel we have wrought

To gain “Well Done,”—The Tongue of Good Report.

— Charles F Forshaw, 1916

The Master Degree

Life’s brief moments, swiftly flying,

Speed us near and nearer Death;

Earth and Time are quickly dying,

Passing like a vapour breath.

 

Earth and all its passions perish,

Time and all its duties cease;

Wealth and power, that mankind cherish,

Bring us here no joy and peace.

 

Swift, swifter still ar every breath,

Near, and more near, steals silent Death;

Help! help us now, O Thou Most High!

In this dread hour of mystery.

Fellowcraft Degree

Onward moves the whole Creation,

Working out the eternal plan;

Sun and planet, stream and ocean,

Flower and forest, beast and man,

Never resting, ever going

Forward on their destined way;

Spring to Summer-glory growing,

Morn merging into Day.

 

Forward, Brother, then be going,

To the might of manhood move;

And thy going be ‘t in growing,

And thy growing be ‘t in love.

Apprentice Degree

Through midnight dark I feebly grope my way

Oppressed with fear;

I dread to go, and yet I dare not stay

With danger near;

Eternal Father! guide my feet aright,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.

 

I do not know the secret path I tread

Thro’ scenes unknown,

I humbly wander whither I am led—

Thy power I own;

Eternal Father! guide me through this night,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.

 

The World, its pride and passions, wealth and power,

All, all are gone;

Blind, poor, and weak I trust, in this dread hour,

On Thee alone;

Eternal Father! guide me in Thy Might,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.

The Royal Arch

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning by George Harold Steinmetz, with an additional paper by George S Faison.

George H Steinmetz The Royal Arch

Steinmetz provides a metaphysical interpretation of the rituals of Royal Arch Freemasonry as worked in the 20th-century United States. His book stands as a representative instance of mid-century Anglophone occultism, including the ERRATIC use of ALL CAPS. Authorities cited include H.P. Blavatsky, A.E. Waite, and Max Heindel, but he largely sticks to the features of the rituals themselves. There’s nothing innovative among occultists about his basic ideas, which include reincarnation as an esoteric Masonic doctrine, as well as the relevance of astrological symbolism to the Royal Arch degree. He does, however, find new ways to confuse the ritual hermeneutic.

For example, when discussing the misapplied persistence of the Biblical span of “470 years” in the ritual, he suggests that “we follow the procedure of the Kabalist, and take away from this number the zero (0),” and proceeds to interpret the resulting forty-seven in relation to Euclid’s 47th problem. (72) Had he been genuinely familiar with qabalistic “procedure,” Steinmetz might have noticed that the gematria of the Hebrew OTh (“time” or “period of time”) and DVR DVRIM (“eternity,” lit. “age of ages”) is 470, and thus “470 years” in both the Bible and the Royal Arch ceremony is simply the passage of a generic eon.

An even richer example arises in his insistence that “in the original Hebrew God is quoted as saying: ‘And God said unto Moses IHVH and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, IHVH hath sent me unto you.'” (78) Of course, anyone with a Tanakh handy can quickly debunk this nonsense. In Exodus 3:14—the verse cited by Steinmetz—the theophany utters “AHIH AShR AHIH,” and names itself AHIH (Eheieh). Half the letters of a Tetragrammaton isn’t nearly close enough. An error like this one, seeming to firm up his thesis, just throws Steinmetz’s aptitude into question.

Finally, he contends that the traditional discovered name of the Royal Arch is the product of “late eighteenth century attempts at mysticism which result in the ridiculous.” (125) Whether Steinmetz’s chosen experts Mackey and Breasted are correct that ON was only and always a place-name and not a name or title of a deity (or whether on the contrary, Forlong is correct in identifying the rising sun with the hare-god Un), the reader must be unimpressed by his “considerable research” that failed to find Jah among Hebrew names of God. Ultimately, his attempts to render meaningless the complex mystery of the Royal Arch Word seem ironic indeed, considering the fanciful and fatuous etymology he provides for the exoteric name Israel: IS from the goddess Isis, RA the Egyptian god, and EL the Semitic “lord.” (103)

The appended paper on “Freemasonry and Astrology” by George S. Faison is inoffensive, but has little to recommend it. Faison unhistorically presents astrology as essentially concerned with psychological character. His efforts to tie its symbolism to Masonry, where credible, depend on its genuine presence in Hebrew scripture. For that, the reader is better off consulting a text which directly addresses the topic, like Drummond’s Oedipus Judaicus. [via]

The Masonic Magician

The Masonic Magician: The Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite by Philippa Faulks and Robert L D Cooper, from Watkins Publishing, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Philippa Faulks Robert L D Cooper The Masonic Magician from Watkins Publishing

“Miracle worker of man of straw? Count Alessandro Cagliostro was a cult figure of European society in the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. An alchemist, healer, and Freemason, he inspired both wild devotion and savage ridicule—as well as novels by Alexandre Dumas, a drama by Goethe, and Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.

Cagliostro’s sincere belief in the magical powers, including immortality conferred by his Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry won him fame, but made him dangerous enemies too. His celebrated travels through the Middle East and the capitals of Europe ended abruptly in Rome on 1789, where he was arrested by the Inquisition and condemned to death for heresy.

The Masonic Magician tells Cagliostro’s extraordinary story, complete with the first English translation of the Egyptian Rite ever published. The authors examine the case made against him—including the charge that he was an imposter as well as a heretic—and finds that the Roman Church, and history itself, have done him a terrible injustice.

Drawing on remarkable new documentary evidence, this engaging account shows that the man condemned was a genuine visionary and true champion of Freemasonry—and that his teachings have much to reveal to us today.” — back cover