Monday, May 28, 2012

Challenges for the True Mason

I will do more than belong –– I will participate.
I will do more than care –– I will help.
I will do more than believe –– I will practice.
I will do more than be fair –– I will be kind.
I will do more than forgive –– I will forget.
I will do more than dream –– I will work.
I will do more than teach –– I will inspire.
I will do more than earn –– I will enrich.
I will do more than give –– I will serve.
I will do more than live –– I will grow.
I will do more then be friendly –– I will be a friend.
I will do more than be a citizen –– I will be a patriot.

Author Unkown

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Number Seven

"Seven is universally the number of completeness.  The time-periods of creation were seven.  The spectrum of light consists of seven colors; the musical scale of seven notes, our division of time is into weeks of seven days; our physiological changes run in cycles of seven years.  Man himself is a seven-fold organism in correspondence with all these and the normal years of his life are seven multiplied by 10."


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dier El Medina

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nuit: The Night Sky

Nuit. Goddess of the sky as represented by the night sky (stars).  Goddess of resurrection.  Her hands and feet attach to the Earth at the four cardinal points, representing N, S, E, and W.  Mother of the Sun and the Moon.  She gives birth to the Sun every morning, and eats it every night.

"She gives birth to the sun in the east and swallows the sun in the west."

"Nut was sometimes represented as a woman carrying a vase of water on her head, which was often horned.  The hieroglyph for her name, is a water pot, which is also thought to represent a womb or Aquarius."

"She was a goddess of death, and her image is on the inside of most sarcophagi. The pharaoh entered her body after death and was later resurrected."

"In the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle (at noon he was Ra at his full strength, and at sunset he was known as Tem (Temu, Atem) who was old and weakening):

Homage to thee, O thou who hast come as Khepera, Khepera the creator of the gods, Thou art seated on thy throne, thou risest up in the sky, illumining thy mother [Nut], thou art seated on thy throne as the king of the gods. [Thy] mother Nut stretcheth out her hands, and performeth an act of homage to thee....

The Company of the Gods rejoice at thy rising, the earth is glad when it beholdeth thy rays; the people who have been long dead come forth with cries of joy to behold thy beauties every day. Thou goest forth each day over heaven and earth, and thou art made strong each day by thy mother Nut....

Homage to thee, O thou who art Ra when thou risest, and who art Tem when thou settest in beauty. Thou risest and thou shinest on the back of thy mother [Nut], O thou who art crowned the king of the gods! Nut welcometh thee, and payeth homage unto thee, and Maat, the everlasting and never-changing goddess, embraceth thee at noon and at eve....

The gods rejoice greatly when they see my beautiful appearances from the body of the goddess Nut, and when the goddess Nut bringeth me forth."


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Degrees and Directions

The four cardinal directions correspond to the following degrees of a compass:

North (N): 0° = 360°
East (E): 90°
South (S): 180°
West (W): 270°

An ordinal, or intercardinal, or intermediate, direction is one of the four intermediate compass directions located halfway between the cardinal directions.

Northeast (NE), 45°, halfway between north and east, is the opposite of southwest.
Southeast (SE), 135°, halfway between south and east, is the opposite of northwest.
Southwest (SW), 225°, halfway between south and west, is the opposite of northeast.
Northwest (NW), 315°, halfway between north and west, is the opposite of southeast.

Masonically, we sometimes discuss a ninety degree angle or the fourth part of a square.  This may illuminate interesting parallels with degrees and directions.  The fourth part of a square is ninety degrees, which corresponds with "East" in the model above.  The place of darkness corresponds with both zero and 360 degrees.  The degrees may have others significance as they correspond with the path or position of the Sun by East to South to West.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Biblical Light

Honor all men; love the brotherhood; fear God.

1 Peter 17

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Unlimited Opportunity

Masonry represents a near unlimited opportunity to act, to learn, to explore.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Prince Hall Information IS Available

I want to encourage people interested in the subject of Prince Hall Freemasonry to avail themselves of the information available at the Phylaxis Societies website.  The Phylaxis Society is an Internationally recognized research and publication body with a strong academic structure.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Is Prince Hall Difficult to Research?

One of the things I find on Blogs and Websites is poor explanations for the difficulty in gathering clear data on Prince Hall.  I would like my mainstream Brethren to consider a few things about this.

While the African-Americans in Massachusetts in the 1780s who formed African Lodge #459 were living as Free men, and were not "slaves", expecting to find County Records, Birth Certificates,  Voting Records, and Drivers Licenses is a bit unrealistic.  The fact we have the written records we do is frankly astounding.  Anyone who has attempted to research family history any earlier than 1850 can tell you that finding historical records for African-Americans that are in any way comparable to those available for White Americans is not realistic.  Before coming to the conclusion that something fishy is going on, please consider the nature of Black existence in Colonial America, and that the difficulty in establishing pristine records is not unexpected.

I would ask people attempting to research both Prince Hall and the Masonic path he initiated to be more patient and professional in their research.

African-American tradition holds that Africans have been named according to all manner of different traditions in this country depending upon the era and local community.  The fact that "Prince" was a common name for Black males at that time should be understandable to researchers.  One would not be suprised at the number of children named "George" or "Mary" I hope.  The fact that five or more individuals may have existed contemporaneously with the Prince Hall we claim as the one who helped found African Lodge #459, between Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Barbados, all with the name Prince Hall, should be an acceptable fact to serious researchers.  It does not mean that his personal history is "confusing" or "difficult to trace" or other such excuses.  One wouldn't be surprised to find there were 5 George Andersons, or Mary Jacksons living at the same time.  A little understanding about the history of African experience in the American colonies and how they were likely to name their babies can easily account for these things.

Prince Hall is not any more difficult to research than any other person of African ancestry living in 1780 New England.  One should be careful not to accept the first record of property ownership one finds under a particular name.  Failure to do this has lead to some poorly researched information getting out there.  The fact that this has been done does not mean that the history of Prince Hall and Prince Hall Freemasonry is not weel researched and documented.  If you really want to inform people about this, it is worth the extra time to verify your information.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Black Freemasonry"

Many are not aware of the difficulty in getting your arms around the concept of "Black Freemasonry" or Masonry amongst African-American men.  This post is an attempt to bring some information to the table which could help a number of interested parties understand this better.  I frequently see Mainstream Masonic writers getting some of this wrong.  I think it is particularly difficult for people without a lot of primary knowledge about African-American history or experience to begin with, to easily comprehend the vast history of Black Masonic movements, and the details of our history in the Craft.  I sense many blogs and websites attempting to satisfy an interest in this area.

In addition, there are African-American men who are poorly informed about the Black Masonic history in America.  In the interest of shedding more light, I hope to provide some information that could be helpful.

One thing I would like Blogs and websites to know is that the history of Masonry in the Black Community is extensive, intricate, rich, and interwoven.  If you have a paragraph on the subject, it is likely not scratching the surface. 

There is clear documentation of Freemasonry amongst African-Americans in the 1780s, and the tradition is understood to parallel the formation of the nation.  Prince Hall is considered the "Father" of Freemasonry amongst African-Americans.  But please don't stop there.  It does not tell half the story.

What you will be missing when you cut and past that easily perusable description, is "why" Prince Hall is so honored.  Prince Hall was instrumental in establishing the first documented Lodge in America, consisting of African-American men, who would have called themselves "African", as that was a common way of referring to Black people at that time.  Prince Hall was not the only African-American Freemason at the time, and he may not have been the first.  He is honored as a "father" of our tradition because of the specific role he played in helping to organize and legitimize Freemasonry among African-Americans.

If it had not been for the actions and accomplishments of Prince Hall, there would likely still be African-American Freemasons, and possibly Lodges formed by Black men.  But the Masonic Regularity of those lodges might be in question.  What Prince Hall did for Black Freemasonry, is provided a path of legitimacy, and regularity.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Racial Terms?

I'm attempting to write about some Masonic history that makes reference to different racial backgrounds in Freemasonry.  My question is, how should I refer to "white" Freemasonry.
Sounds silly because it is.  As a Prince Hall Freemason, we typically refer to ourselves as "Prince Hall Freemasons".  Most people recognize this as a historically African-American or "Black" tradition within regular Freemasonry.  We do not typically say "Black Freemasonry", not because we are particularly offended by the term "Black", but because "Black Freemasonry" has come to refer not only to Prince Hall Freemasonry, but also to some traditions of Masonry that many Prince hall Freemasons would consider "irregular".  It has become expedient to simply use the term Prince Hall Freemasonry to refer to Regular Masonry, at least among many Prince Hall Freemasons. 

But I'll struggle with Black Freemasonry in another Post.  I only explain that to describe the difficulty in accurately referring to "non" Black Freemasonry, while being accurate, and not offensive to anyone.  This may not be possible, but this is my attempt.

For many within the Craft, the term "Mainstream Masonry" means "regular".  For others, it means "white".  For Prince Hall Masons, it is a problematic phrase, because we are "regular", and by any accurate description of the term, at least in a race-less world, we would consider ourselves in the "main stream" of Masonry.  "White" as a descriptor is obviously not correct or appropriate for so many reasons, I don't even want to bother.

In most circumstances, we wouldn't have to differentiate between "types" of Masonry.  But to write about Freemasonry in America, it's history, and development along different races, one needs terms to describe different traditional groupings.  We are left with Black, White, Non-White, Non-Black, Prince Hall, Mainstream, Regular, Irregular, each of which have cross-connotations and innacuracies, and each of which might be offensive in some settings.
Admitting my racial shortcomings, when I say "mainstream", in my mind, I'm thinking "White".  And, I suspect when many mainstream Masons say "Prince Hall", in their minds their thinking "Black".  Now, I know there are Black people in "mainstream" Lodges, as of course there should be.  And mainstream brethren may not know that there are non-Black members in Prince Hall Lodges, but it might not surprise them too terribly.  We are probably thinking of a historical tradition, unique to the nature of race in America, and to our somewhat parallel founding.

While African-American Masons might not be too offended by the concept of "traditionally Black regular Freemasonry", many mainstream Masons might be quite offended by the concept of "traditionally White regular Freemasonry".  Many mainstream Masons are only aware of "Black" Freemasonry, not being greatly concerned with the variations with which we denote ourselves.  Many are surprised to learn that African-American traditions have deep divisions along lines which we would consider based on questions of regularity.  It thus places us in an awkward situation to refer to ourselves as "Prince Hall" Freemasons, which we acknowledge connotates a "Black" tradition of Freemasonry, and referring to other regular Masons as "mainstream", when we also consider ourselves "mainstream".

I find it difficult if not impossible to write about this because we do not possess a language capable of describing the bodies, traditions, and groupings involved.  So, here is my "ask".
How can regular Freemasonry be referred to in a way that differentiates it from Prince Hall regular Freemasonry?  Is the term "Mainstream" the only way?  Is it the best we can do?

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Race in Freemasonry

Please don't jump to conclusions.  I want write honestly about race in Freemasonry in America.  Race is such a touchy subject.  People get offended quickly.  If you read any of my posts about subjects that may have Race as a part of them, please consider reading this general disclaimer first.

1.  This is not about a racial agenda.  I am not trying to pass judgements or indict anyone.  That is not what this is about. I have no intention of calling anyone a "racist".  Except where it is the only term which can describe a subject, I won't use it.

2.  I know that the introduction of controversial subjects into Freemasonry can go against the objectives of the institution.  It is not just Religion and Politics.  Our Masonic forbears probably would have included race as a prohibited discussion subject, knowing what we know today.  Unfortunately, in order to discuss the Masonic subjects of regularity, recognition, history, amity, and traditions, race is relevant to the conversation.

3.  I promise to not accuse people of being racist, or racially motivated.

4.  I do not know how to refer to people.  I do not mean offense when I use the term "White" or "White Person" or "White People" or "White Masons". I am not offended when I hear the term "Black", "Black Person", "Black People", or "Black Masons".  I personally use the terms "Black" and "African-American" interchangeably in many settings.  I recognize that "race" is a false idea, and that descriptions do not hold up in reality.  Some mainstream Lodges may have absolutely zero members who are not "white", but may not consider themselves a "white" Lodge, as this concept has connotations which they do not want to be associated with.  I would like to try to make the point that I am making no suggestions or inferences.  Every term is silly and is recognized as being silly.

I am writing all of this here, so I can refer to this post.  I want you to know that I recognize this is silly so you don't have to waste time telling me this is silly.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Triune Concepts

"Ancient Egyptian priests or scientists defined not only the body and mind, but also the soul and spirit.  Additionally, the concepts of mind, soul, and spirit were so important that this triune or trinity concept was a constant theme throughout many layers of their philosophical thought and scientific disciplines.  There was a division of many things into three.  There were three grades of students (neophyte, intelligence, sons of light).  Temple architecture comprised an outer court for public congregations, a middle hall for priests and nobles, and an inner middle chamber, adytum, Holy of Holies, solely used by the High Priest.  There was the Goddess Isis (female), God Osiris (male), and God Horus (child, union of opposites).  An entrance to the temple was formed by a doorway in which the left pillar represented the masculine energy of creation, right pillar the feminine energy of creation, and the arch way that joined or united the two pillars or opposites represented the soul or self with the words written upon it, 'Man Know Thy Self'. "

From The Symbolism of the Crown in Ancient Egypt, by Richard D. King
Journal of African Civilizations, November 1984 (vol. 6, no. 2)

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Euclid lived in Egypt

Euclid of Alexandria, one of the greatest mathemeticians of this era, lived and died in Egypt.  There is no suggestion that he every left Africa.
Euclid's fame rests above all on his Elements, containing 13 books and 465 propositions.  The logical arrangement of this work is so masterful, that the Elements has dominated the teaching of Geometry for 2,000 years.
- Mathematics and Engineering in the Nile Valley by Beatrice Lumpkin

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Doric Order

The order encompasses the entire building system columns and entablature, while individual columns have characteristics belonging to one of the orders. In ancient Greece, Doric columns were stouter than those of the Ionic or Corinthian orders. Their smooth, round capitals are simple and plain compared to the other two Greek orders. A square abacus connects the capital to the entablature. In Greece, the Doric column was placed directly on the pavement or floor without benefit of a base. Examples of Doric columns in the Greek style include: the Heraeum at Olympus (590 BCE), the Basilica at Paestum (about 530 BCE) and the Parthenon (447-432 BCE). When the Romans adopted Doric columns for their buildings, changes were made. Roman Doric columns tend to be slimmer than the Greek Doric columns. At their base, Roman Doric columns are usually adorned with the Attic base, composed of an upper and lower torus separated by a scotia with fillets. Instead of being placed directly on the floor or platform, Roman columns stand on pads or plinths.


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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wisdom and Knowledge

"And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 

Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that [have been] before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like."

2 Chronicles 1:11-12

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Yet Freemasonry, which demands the simple confession of faith, asks no questions as to what God, nor even what kind of a God.  The candidate-to-be may name Him by any syllables; Freemasonry cares not.  That she does not care is one of her dearest symbols, since by this very act she teaches to all her sons that brotherhood is not in a Name, but in hearts; that men may believe in God, Jehovah or Great First Cause; in Love, Confucius, Mithra or a Cosmic Urge, and still be children of one Father, and therefore brethren in the true meaning of the word."

Carl H. Claudy, Foreign Countries

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