Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Satisfying Our Inquiries

"It is a matter of extreme regret to the well informed portion of the Fraternity, that Freemasonry, as it is practiced in some of our Lodges, offers to the candidate few opportunities for satisfying his inquiries on the subject of it's refined philosophy, and affords little aid towards the enlightenment of his mind on those abstruse subjects which none can understand without the labor and assiduity which are prompted by a zealous desire to excel. It is for the satisfaction of this class of inquirers that the author has been induced to publish a consecutive series of lectures, all of which are intended to contribute to the same end; viz, the honor of masonry has a moral and scientific institution - the instruction of the Brethren - and the glory of the MOST HIGH."

The Theocratic Philosophy of Freemasonry in Twelve Lectures on its Speculative, Operative, and Spurious Branches


The Rev. G. Oliver, D.D.

From the Preface to the First Edition

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Friday, January 25, 2013

On Hiram Abif

“The name Hiram Abif — sometimes given as Adoniram — is the Hebrew form of the Greek Hermes. Hermes was the son of the All-Father (Zeus) and the messenger and intermediary between the gods and men. His role was to show men how to live and give them safe conduct through death. In Greco-Alexandrian scriptures he is called both Hermes and Thoth (the Divine Thought or Creative Mind) and appears as the great Initiator and Teacher of hidden knowledge. Hermes is also mentioned in some old Masonic charges. Modern Masons, who honour Hiram Abif as their Grand Master and exemplar, would profit enormously by studying the large body of Hermetic (Hiramitic) literature available. This includes the great treatises upon initiation: The Divine Pymander of hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, G.R.S. Mead’s great studies entitled Thrice-Greatest Hermes, and The Shepherd of Hermas, the latter a work of inspired instruction to mystical Masonry.”

- from Robert Lomas’s The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation

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From the Tomb of Sennedjen

This photo shows Working Tools (Plb, Lvl, Sqr) from the tomb of Sennedjem, an ancient skilled artisan living and working c. 1300 B.C. in Kemet (Egypt), during the 19th dynasty under the reign of Ramesses II. (BB)The [Kemetians] Egyptians always thought about the metaphorical meaning of things such as a balance or a level. And this associates his job as an artisan with doing right, keeping straight the same way that a balance keeps you straight. You have to be straight in your life."

"The tomb inscriptions describe Sennedjem as 'servant in the place of truth', which turned out to be a common title for the workers and the artisans who built and decorated the royal tombs in the nearby Valley of the Kings...Although Sennedjem and the others who lived in the village were not high ranking, they were certainly highly skilled in tomb building. So, probably with the help of members of his own family and of other workers from the village, Sennedjem was able to build and decorate his eternal house. Some of the tools that Sennedjem probably used during his lifetime, a cubit rod, a right angle and a plumb level, were among the many articles found in his tomb. These tools may well have been used in the construction of his tomb and that of Rameses II, the contemporary ruler of the two lands." 

--- an excerpt from "Unfolding Sennedjem's Tomb" by Hany Farid and Samir Farid

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Masonic Dates

Ancient Craft Masonry begins its era with the Creation of the World, calling it Anno 
Lucis (AL) "In the year of Light" (add 4004 years to the current Gregorian year).  
Royal Arch Freemasonry dates from the year when the second Temple was begun by 
Zerubbabel, Anno Inventionis (AI), "In the year of the Discovery" (add 530).
 Royal Ark Mariners date from the year of the deluge, Anno Deluvii (A.Dil.), "In the year 
of the Deluge" (add 2348). 
The Degrees of Captivity date from the closing years thereof, Anno Reductionis (AR), "In 
the year of the Return" (add 530); same as AI. 
Cryptic Masons date from the year in which the Temple of Solomon was completed. Anno Depositionis (A.Dip.), "In the year of the Deposit" (add 1000).
Knights Templar start their calendar with the formation of the order in 1118 AD. Anno Ordinis (A.O.), "In the year of the Order" (deduct 1,118)
The Scottish Rite date the same as Craft Masons, except for the use of the Jewish Chronology. Anno Mundi (A.M.), "In the year of the World" (add 3760)

- From an online post by Tofique Fatehi

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Where do the Prince Hall Affiliation rituals come from?

Source: freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com

By Art deHoyos, 32°, K.C.C.H.

Where do the Prince Hall Affiliation rituals come from? This question has often been asked of me by Masons who are aware of my interests in tracing ritual origins and development. Some speculate that Prince Hall Masonry wrote its own rituals, others suggest that ritual exposés are a source; still others conjecture that copies of rituals were "discovered" by Prince Hall Masons, and yet others believe that sympathetic "mainline" Masons lent their support—if not copies of the rituals themselves. Which, if any, of these views is correct? The surprising answer is that—depending on the body in question—all of the above answers are correct.

It is generally known that the Grand Lodge of Missouri, PHA, uses Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor (1866) as its official ritual, while the Grand Lodge of Ohio, PHA, uses a ritual similar to its mainline counterpart. Again, Ohio’s Prince Hall Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons employs an early version of the mainline ritual, while its Grand Council Royal and Select Masters, PHA uses a cipher ritual once popular among mainline bodies. The Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine, or A.E.A.O.N.M.S. (the Prince Hall Shrine) ritual is an example of an auxiliary ritual which was copied from an early exposé, differing materially from the current "mainline" counterpart.

What of the PHA Scottish Rite?

An oft-encountered story maintains that Albert Pike shared his rituals with Prince Hall Masons. On January 16, 1945, Willard W. Allen, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander of the United Supreme Council, 33°, SJ, PHA wrote about this to George W. Crawford, Lieutenant Grand Commander of the United Supreme Council, 33°, NJ, PHA.

He explained that Thornton A. Jackson (photo left), Sovereign Grand Commander United Supreme Council, 33°, SJ, PHA from 1887 to 1904 was a personal friend of Albert Pike. After Jackson mentioned to Pike how "seriously handicapped" the PHA bodies were for a lack of adequate rituals, Pike is said to have given him an autographed, complete set of the Scottish Rite rituals. The rituals were passed on to Jackson’s successor and eventually came into the hands of Robert L. Pendleton, who was Sovereign Grand Commander from 1911 to 1929.

The Pike rituals were said to have been revised and printed, but the original Pike set unfortunately disappeared following Pendleton’s death. At the end of his letter Allen noted, "The important fact however is that Pike did give Jackson a complete set of Scottish Rite rituals. Incidentally, it is not necessary to remind you of what practically all Masonic scholars know very well, viz., that in the closing years of General Pike’s Masonic career, he became a very staunch friend of Negro Masonry."*

On January 22, 1945, just six days after the above letter, a delegation of officers from The Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J., and the United Supreme Council, 33°, N.J., PHA, met at the Masonic temple in New York. Of this meeting, Melvin M. Johnson, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander, N.M.J., noted that, "A study of the rituals used by the United Supreme Council (Prince Hall Affiliation) for the Northern Jurisdiction and other evidence which has been furnished us demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that its rituals are authentic and recognized rituals of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite."

The Hiram

I am inclined to accept the story that Pike shared his rituals with Prince Hall Freemasonry. Although the original rituals presented by Pike to Jackson are presently lost, they were retypeset and published as set of five volumes entitled The Hiram. The Library of the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J., owns a copy of The Hiram, Book 5, which contains the 31° and 32° of the United Supreme Council, A. and A.S. Rite, S. and W. Jurisdiction U.S.A. This volume was autographed and certified in July 1898 by Pike’s friend, Thornton A. Jackson, 33°, and James O. Bampfield, 33°, Jackson’s Secretary General. Its contents were copied from a Pike ritual—though not the current one. Rather, its rituals are those of a cooperative effort written in 1857 with Charles Laffon de Ladebat in New Orleans, and published the following year.

In addition to a ritual of the degrees, The Hiram, Book 5 has other material that has been borrowed from Pike’s writings.

A Revision of Circa 1920?

According to Willard W. Allen’s letter, the early Pike rituals printed in The Hiram were used until about 1920 when they were revised by a "joint project" of the PHA Southern and Northern jurisdictions. From this we may very likely infer that the ritual displayed to the Supreme Council, N.M.J., in 1945 was the revised (circa 1920) ritual. However, an examination of the Prince Hall ritual used in 1945 reveals that it was not a revised Pike ritual, but rather, a copy of an early Northern Jurisdiction ritual. This is rather difficult to account for. Unlike the Prince Hall Association, the rituals used by the Supreme Councils, 33°, S.J .and N.M.J., differ substantially from each other. Why was this not noted by Melvin M. Johnson?

The Pre-1946 Ritual

If the ritual displayed to the Northern Jurisdiction in 1945 was the then current Prince Hall working, it would have consisted of a set of four volumes separately entitled Book of the Scottish Rite. I have studied the first three volumes, covering the fourth through the thirtieth degrees, and find that they are copied from The Secret Directory (1867), a ritual collection adopted at the formation of the present Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J.

The PHA Book of the Scottish Rite is such a close copy of The Secret Directory that it includes most of its typographical errors. Other errors involved the typesetter’s misreading of the text, and/or his inability to read Hebrew. Also, unable to duplicate the Hebrew and Samaritan fonts, the typesetter occasionally omitted whole paragraphs. As for its name, the Book of the Scottish Rite borrowed this from Charles T. McClenachan’s "monitor," The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (1867), which was designed to supplement The Secret Directory.

The Revision of 1946

By October 1945, the relations between the two bodies were friendly enough that Melvin M. Johnson extended further overtures to the United Supreme Council. He invited them to a meeting in Boston, adding, "There is no hurry about it, but I should very much like to have the meeting in the headquarters of our Supreme Council where we have some interesting things which you will like to see."

Among the "interesting things" may have been its rich collection of manuscript rituals, which included the 1783 Francken MS. (1783), the Frederick Dalcho rituals (1801–02), and other valuable items. I do not know which, if any, of these was shared with the United Supreme Council, but we do know that a relationship was established which resulted in a cooperative revision of the Prince Hall ritual.

According to a December 1949 letter by Crawford, a joint committee was appointed including among its members "two Presidents of outstanding Negro Colleges, two lawyers of recognized standing, one business man who heads an insurance company and other important business enterprises, and one distinguished physician recognized as the No. 1 colored citizen of his State."

The work of the Committee was completed in 1947, and the Committee was charged by these two cooperating Supreme Councils with the responsibility of printing the approved texts of the revised degrees (4°–32°).

McIlyar Hamilton Lichliter, 33° (1877–1961) was arguably the most knowledgeable student of Northern Jurisdiction Scottish Rite ritual during his lifetime. From 1944–1957, he served as Chairman of the Committee on Rituals and Ritualistic Matter. According to a letter written by Lichliter to Crawford in November 1948, he acknowledged helping the Prince Hall Scottish Rite "in the preparation of your book of rituals."

The revised Prince Hall Scottish Rite degrees are currently published as The Book of the Scottish Rite 4°–32°. According to its introduction, it is "the result of a joint undertaking" and is "essentially an abridgment" of the pre-1946 ritual. The Book of the Scottish Rite contains a slight abbreviation of the pre-1946 edition, with one exception: the Second Section of the 20°, Grand Master of All Symbolic Lodges, called "The Light of Patriotism (An Interpolation)," which was added in 1946.

The Thirty-Third Degree

The earliest Thirty-third degree ritual which can be traced directly to the Scottish Rite is in the handwriting of the Reverend Frederick Dalcho, one of the founders of the original "Supreme Council of the 33rd." The document, which was likely written about 1801, was the basis for subsequent versions and is now in the collection of the Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J.

In 1868 Albert Pike completed his first revision of the Thirty-third degree ritual, basing his work on the ritual conferred on him in 1857. In 1870 Pike presented a copy of his revision "in two volumes handsomely bound" to Josiah H. Drummond, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J. This ritual was used until Charles T. McClenachan revised the Pike ritual in 1880, although it still closely followed Pike’s content and structure. The McClenachan ritual continued to be used until it was revised by Melvin M. Johnson in 1938. Although minor changes were made to the Johnson ritual, it continues to follow the Pike pattern, although its content has been drastically altered.

The Prince Hall 33°

I do not know what ritual(s) were used to confer the Thirty-third degree in the Prince Hall Affiliation prior to 1948, but by that time the working relationship with the Northern Jurisdiction was such that Lichliter assisted in a revision of that degree. In February 1949 he wrote to Crawford, noting, "The galley proofs of your 33° are on my desk.... There are a number of suggestions I want to make to clarify the text and to guarantee a little more artistic arrangement. There are not too many actual typo-graphical errors."

The approved text was published as the Book of the Thirty-third Degree A.A.S.R. Tell-tale phrases identify McClenachan’s 1880 revision as the underlying text. However, the Prince Hall ritual is not a slavish copy of McClenachan’s revision. It has been abbreviated, it occasionally paraphrases, and it introduces an "optional interpolation." The quality of the revision makes it the crowing jewel of the United Supreme Council, as well as a testament of the cooperation between the two Supreme Councils.

It is not known if the Prince Hall Masons were aware of the 1938 Johnson ritual. It seems safe to assume that the Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J., provided the United Supreme Council with the 1880 McClenachan revision, but they may have held back the Johnson ritual for the purpose of affording the Prince Hall Masons greater uniformity with other jurisdictions. It has been aptly noted that the Johnson ritual "differs substantially from the 33° conferred in the other Supreme Councils of the world."


From the limited access I have had to source documents, we can summarize the following:

1. It is probable that Albert Pike shared early versions of his rituals with Thornton A. Jackson. These rituals cannot now be found.

2. The rituals printed in The Hiram represent early Pike rituals.

3. I have not discovered evidence of the (possible) revision of circa 1920.

4. In 1945 the United Supreme Council satisfied the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Jurisdiction, that its rituals were "authentic and recognized." The rituals evinced at this time (the Book of the Scottish Rite) were based on the Northern Jurisdiction’s own "Union of 1867" ritual.

5. The current "Revision of 1946" ritual is an abbreviation of the Book of the Scottish Rite, and retains several of its typographical and textual errors.

6. The current "Revision of 1946" was the product of a "joint Committee" of eminent Prince Hall Masons, and was submitted to review by the highest ranking officers of the Supreme Council 33°, of the Northern Jurisdiction.

7. The current Thirty-third degree ritual of the United Supreme Council is based on Charles T. McClenachan’s 1880 revision of Pike’s 1868 ritual.

*Documentation for all quotations and historical statements appears in the full version of this article as printed in Heredom, Volume 5, 1996, the transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society, pp. 51–67.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Higher Mason - A Masonic Parable

I met three men the other day.  Heading to my favorite coffee shop, a man suddenly rushed up to me.

"Whence Come you?", He said to me.  He was staring at me pretty hard and I was a little caught off guard.  Somewhere deep inside, the words he was using resonated with me, and I realized the man was a freemason.  It took me another moment to remember that I was wearing my Masonic ring.  He must have seen it and wanted to engage me.

"Oh! Yes, I'm a Mason too", I fumbled.  I realized he wasn't wearing a ring, or anything identifying himself as a Mason himself.  I was assuming...

"That's all well and good," he said, "but that's not what I asked you."

I paid for my coffee to the woman whose attention we had now attracted.  Then I introduced myself to the man, offering my right hand, I told him my name.  I told him the name of my lodge, and my jurisdiction.  He shook my hand slowly, but did not offer his name.

"What is this?", he asked.

I withdrew my hand. I realized he wanted to get into testing my knowledge as a Mason.  But we were in a very public place, and I didn't want to do it.  Plus, quite frankly, I didn't remember a lot.  I remembered to carry my dues card whenever I wear my ring, and that was pretty much it.  I had disappointed the guy, and he had made me feel pretty small.  I went on with my day.

Later on, I stopped in at the grocery store.  I happened to notice the man ahead of me in the checkout line had a Masonic hat on.  Perhaps remembering the encounter earlier in the day, and wondering how another would have handled it, I got his attention.

"Excuse me. Whence com you?" I asked.  He gave me a blank stare for several seconds, and then I saw realization dawn on him as it had on me earlier in the day.  He also saw my ring.  He extended his right hand and introduced himself as a Mason.  Unlike the guy I had met earlier, I shook his hand and introduced myself.  After paying for his groceries himself, he waited until I had paid for mine.  He walked outside with me.

The Brother told me what lodge he was from, and asked me a bunch of questions as well.  I had bitten off more than I could chew, as he discussed a lot of things I didn't remember, recognize, or understand honestly.  He knew a lot. He was friendly enough, and invited me to visit his lodge.  But I felt that I had failed to measure up for a second time.  It was the second time I felt frustrated in one day.

Before the end of my day, I took some old clothes to the Salvation Army.  The man who received them from me was wearing a Masonic ring.  I chose not to acknowledge this as he went about the business of taking my donation.

"I see you are a Mason." he said, "I am too."

He held out his hand, back side up to show me his ring.  He had seen mine. Then he turned it over in the universal gesture of friendship.  I took it and shook it.  I told him I wasn't that knowledgeable and couldn't answer a lot of questions, and that I didn't want to try.  I wasn't feeling very brotherly.  He held my hand for a moment longer and just smiled at me.

He told me that he had no questions for me.  He wasn't very active in his lodge.  They spent a lot of time on Chicken dinners, raffle sales, and banquet nights.  He wasn't very interested in them.  There were some in his lodge who spent a lot of time bandying about "big ideas", world philosophy, and deep spiritual thinking.  He didn't have much patience for them either.  

He talked to me about how he liked to volunteer here at the Salvation Army, and how, when he wasn't here, he spent time at his local food bank.  He liked to work with the homeless, with children, and with disabled veterans once a month.  He couldn't interest the members of his lodge in joining him.

I asked him how he had found all of these opportunities to volunteer and serve?

"I suppose," he said, "I was just open to them, and they just arrived."

He invited me to join him anytime, and I told him I would like that.  I was left with the feeling I had learned more about Freemasonry in that encounter than I had the rest of the day.  A few days later, one of the members of my own lodge asked me if I had met any masons recently.

"Yes", I said thoughtfully.  "One."

Bro. Doug McCollough

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Twin Pillars

There are almost always two pillars.  In Ancient Egypt, two Obelisks sit outside many temples.  In Medieval Cathedrals, two pillars were placed to help determine the path and position of the sun, so they could be oriented correctly. In Alchemy and Hermeticism, the sacred knowledge is said to have been deposited inside two pillars. The Bible describes the two pillars said to have been positioned outside of the Temple of King Solomon.

There are variations, but there always seem to be two, twin, pillars.  Some of the symbolism is clear; they reflect the Spiritual principles of the unity of opposing forces.  That these physical monuments have other practical functions makes them all the more interesting. I am interested in examples of physical structures such as Obelisks and Pillars that typically appear as twins.  Do you have any examples?

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Friday, January 11, 2013

The One Thing Lodges Can Give

…one thing and only one thing a Masonic Lodge can give its members which they can get nowhere else in the world. That one thing is Masonry.”
— Brother Carl H. Claudy in The Master’s Book

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Detroit Masonic Temple

A nice photo of the Detroit Masonic Temple by user "Masonic" on Tumblr.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lights, Signs, and Seasons

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Genesis 1: 14-15 King James Version

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Solstices and Equinoxes: An Esoteric Perspective

Source: Astrobioblog (URL Below)

The below article was written by Leoni Hodgson and was accessed at the following URL. http://www.esotericastrologer.org/EAauthorEssays/EAessaysLH.htm

Leoni Hodgson © 2002

Students of the Wisdom Teachings are familiar with the Full Moon period and the spiritual potency of the period. Also with the Spirit of Comnpassion and Sharing associated with Christmas. I would just like to share a few thoughts regarding the Solstices and Equinox’s.
a. The Seasons
The seasons of the year are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously - towards a point in space near the North Star. So during half the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the summer solstice — the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. The lowest elevation, and the first day of winter, occurs when the night time hours reach their maximum.
The Autumn Equinox - daily sunlight is waning, day and night are equal in length.
The Winter Solstice - shortest day of the year.
The Spring Equinox - daily sunlight is waxing, day and night are equal in length.
The Summer Solstice - longest day of the year.
b. The Seasons, Christianity and Astrology
Each of these four points are each related to soul unfoldment and certain initiations. The ancients celebrated them in four great Festivals. Adopted into Christianity they became the chief religious festivals of the Church.
The Autumn Equinox with Michaelmas, the Mass or Feast of St. Michael.
The Winter Solstice with its Christ Mass or Christmas.
The Spring Equinox with Easter.
The Summer Solstice with Feast of St. John and Pentecost (Whitsuntide or the Ascension).
In Australia we know that the seasons and Christian Festivals are reversed. It is the astronomical aspects of the seasons which are important in the Mysteries, not where one may be located on the planet.
In the northern hemisphere - which gave rise to the earlier Mystery schools, the festivals fall in, and are associated with certain astrological signs and this northern relationship will be continued in this essay. But once again, this situation is reversed in southern skies, and the interesting implications for the celebration of the Summer Solstice with Christ - mass, will be explored at a later time. 
The Autumn Equinox - Libra
The Winter Solstice - Capricorn.
The Spring Equinox - Aries.
The Summer Solstice - Cancer.
c. The solstices and equinoxes, and the journey of the soul.
    The annual cycle of the sun, and the increase and decrease in light, represents the process of growth in consciousness in the human kingdom. Animal instinct evolves into human self-consciousness, to soul consciousness, to spiritual awareness. Such is the progress of the human soul.
    If we interpret sunlight as representing soul illumination, and darkness as representing the instinctual forces of matter, then the period of decreasing light - from summer to winter solstice, represents the descent of the soul from its spiritual home, into incarnation. The decreasing light represents the gradual obscuration of soul glory and expression.
    The period of increasing light - from Winter to Summer Solstice, represents the release of the soul from its physical tomb, and its ascent back to its spiritual home!
    But the Wisdom Teachings suggest it takes hundreds of incarnations to achieve this! Many, many cycles of the Earth around the Sun must occur before a soul achieves what one annual cycle symbolises.
Additionally, the process is complicated by the fact that there are two ‘Paths’, or directions in which human souls travel, on the Wheel of Life.
i. The masses progress around the Wheel of Life, in the ordinary mode - from Pisces to Aries, via Aquarius, (going backwards through the signs to the ordinary astrologer); 1 the goal is to go fully ‘into the depths’, to fully experience material life. In this case the light of the sun could represent the light of ego.
ii. Aspirants and disciples reverse their direction of travel, a movement which impels them back towards their spiritual origins.
1. Summer Solstice
This is the longest day of the year.
The first physical incarnation of the soul in humanity occurs in Cancer, so the series of incarnations could be said to start at the Summer Solstice (which is related to Cancer in the northern Mystery Schools). It is called the Gateway into Life - for the personality, but ‘death’ to the soul. Young souls seek experience in the material world through this sign.
2. Autumn Equinox
At the Autumn Equinox, the length of day and night hours are equal, but light is decreasing. In northern hemispheres, the equinox falls in Libra - the sign of balance!
    After ‘birth’ in Cancer, and many incarnations through all signs of the zodiac, the developing ‘ego’ has grown stronger, until it reaches a point, where it is as strong as the soul, and neither dominates in the life. They are evenly balanced.
    Libra is the hub of the great Wheel of Life - in this sign one has opportunity to reverse the mode of progress and step from the Path of Materialism (moving further away from spirit), onto the Path of Discipleship (the return path to spirit).
3. Winter Solstice
For the person who in Libra, chooses to continue journeying on the Wheel of Life in the normal manner, the following three months after the Autumn Equinox, represent those series of incarnations which see the complete immersion in matter.
    Then the Winter Solstice - the longest night of the year, represents the deep and complete entombment of the soul in matter! In northern hemispheres, the Winter Solstice falls in Capricorn, the sign representing deepest materialism! This period is symbolic of the biblical story of the prodigal son, who leaves his father’s home, and totally indulges his desires, is totally immersed in materialism.
    Winter in this case, and the disappearance of flowers and foliage represent the aridness of life of the person, devoid of soul influence.
The Reversed WheelBut for the person who in Libra chose to reverse his mode of progress on the great Wheel, and step onto the Path of Discipleship, the period between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice represents one of tremendous effort and striving - the necessary purification of the lower life, preparing it to be a fit temple for the soul.
    Winter in this case, represents the stripping away of the personality attachments and desires, until it is a colourless form. The Christmas birth represents the ‘transfiguration’ of the soul, where the initiate knows himself to be a true Son of God.
    This is related to the third initiation where the bastion of the ego consciousness - the Dweller of the Threshold, is obliterated by the light of the Angel of the Presence. Spirit dominates matter, the higher rules the lower, we see the emergence of a world initiate!
4. Spring Equinox.At the Spring Equinox, the length of day and night are once again equal, but light is increasing. In northern hemispheres, the equinox falls in Aries.
    On the ordinary wheel, another cycle of incarnations where the soul is identified with matter begins. In this case, the increasing light represents the growth of personality self awareness. The personality is becoming dominant in its environment.
    But on the reversed wheel, the dominance of the soul in the lower worlds is evident, with the flowering of creative talents and faculties, and service to the environment. The soul in all its glory, beautifies the outer life! The Christ aspect is blooming.
The Christian Festival of Easter is celebrated at this time. This is called the Festival of the risen, living Christ.
    Aries is ruled by Uranus on the Hierarchy level, relating it strongly to Aquarius! The journey of the soul in incarnation, which begun on an impulse in Aries, has been consummated with the appearance of a World Server in Aquarius! This the Spring Equinox also represents.
5. Summer Solstice.This represents either the full flowering of the ego (symbolised by Leo), or the complete liberation and spiritual glorification of the soul. On cosmic levels, the Hierarchy ruled by Cancer is no longer in physical incarnation. Its densest point is anchored on cosmic astral levels, illustrating the high potential this sign represents.
    Neptune rules Cancer on the soul and Hierarchy levels, relating it to Pisces. Additionally, Neptune is related to the Christ. In Pisces we have the emergence of a World Saviour such as the Christ, and this the Summer Solstice also represents.
"The Summer Solstice is to the esoteric Christian a Festival of the Ascension of the Christ. The joy of the cosmic Ascension sets its impress of ineffable loveliness upon the whole earth, with each tree, each shrub, each plant, crowned in glory; while Angels chant and fairies frolic in a perfect abandon of delight." [Corinne Heline].
Love and Blessings for the sacred Season and 2003,
Leoni Hodgson

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Artistic Etching

A Masonic Etching

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Beautiful Apron

A beautiful apron design.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

This Is Not How It Has Always Been Done

As Masons, when we don't know why we do things the we we do, we often fall back on the old refrain, "that's the way we've always done it". This is frustrating to hear since it is so dissatisying as an answer, and even more disappointing when you have done something poorly for so long yourself, it becomes your excuse as well.

The thing is, I don't believe it's true. This is not the way we've always done it. The way we do it is resulting in a decline of participation in our lodges, whereas, there have been other periods of expansion and growth. Now you can say that the reasons for the decline in Masonry are many and complex. This is correct. However, there are areas of decline even within individual lodges that take place decade to decade, and year to year. I'm not referring to any "shrinking" of membership, which can be a positive thing. I'm talking about a clear negative; brethren who are frustrated, programs having to be eliminated, activities canceled when there is clearly enough dues paying membership to support them. This is a negative decline not necessarily tied to the general decline of Freemasonry.

As a person with a background in organizational science I believe masonry attracts people like me. That is, people who are fascinated by how an organization functions; what makes one efficient and successful, and another crash and burn. The legend of the building of King Solomon's Temple is enough to attract the attention of any modern project manager. 

I believe this must always have been the case. Freemasonry must always have attracted men fascinated by efficiency in organizations. This is, in part, why I believe the craft cannot have "always" functioned the way it sometimes does. Another reason is the evidence of the high accomplishments of the very same Lodge or Lodges at different periods of it’s existence.  It is clear, that at some times, a Lodge simply functions more efficiently, and at others, it declines.

Why is this?  I believe there are times when a Lodge operates according to principles of common sense, good governance, and creative thinking, and there are times when the same Lodges operates according to tradition, custom, and frankly ignorance.  Of course I have to be careful here, because tradition, custom, and even sometimes ignorance are in certain contexts revered as part of the Masonic tool chest.  Custom, for example, holds the weight of institutional legitimacy in freemasonry.  This is a good thing and I do not want the criticism to negate this.

Custom alone, however, is not enough of a tool to aid a Lodge in planning a new program.  Planning new programs is also a good thing.  I am afraid Lodges confuse the need to preserve the customs of etiquette, dress, words, and the finer details of ritualistic work, with institutional administration.  There is a line between these two priorities, and I believe we are often on the wrong side of it.  I believe there should be a bright line between “work night” meetings and “business night” meetings.

Masonry as a science, philosophy, ritualistic practice is highly relevant today.  Masonry as an organization is not relevant.  

I am attempting to avoid the trap of believing that everything that was done in the past was done better, mostly by virtue of the fact that it was done in the past.  This is known as romanticization, and it is a trap.  In fact, the past is not inherently better simply by virtue of it’s existence.  I recognize this.  My appreciation of the past is for something specific.  And I believe it has existed sporadically in the past, not consistently in some sort of slow constant decline.  The specific thing is the willingness and readiness to engage in the best possible method for accomplishing a task at that moment in time.
I have in my possession, Telegrams that were used to communicate Lodge business years ago.  When these began to be employed, I am sure there was an argument in the Lodge about why postal mail wasn’t good enough.  After all, that’s the way we had always done things.  When the telephone became available, I’m sure there was consternation over why the Telegram would no longer be used, since at that time at least, that’s the way it had always been done.  And on and on.  No generation understands that “it” was never done in any particular way.  There is only the way this generation knows it.

Looking back at accomplishments, enthusiasm, participation, and growth, it is clear that periods of Lodge success have been accompanied by doing things the best way that was known or available at the time.  This is a lesson I hope the Craft can learn.  The anathema of “innovation” applies to custom, ritual, ideals.  It does not apply to fundraising, finances, communications, social activities, etc.  All of these areas are begging for innovation to be applied.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I, like many other members, really like the old ways of Masonry.  I like receiving things on paper, and wearing a black suit and white gloves, and long declarations of extensive protocol, and stuff like that.  In fact, I wish we would double down on some things.  Some of us want to see not only paper communications, but thick stock, embossed or raised seals, traditional art or embellishments, and fountain pens.  We want traditional summonses, proclamations, invitations, and portraits.  But in order to make these things happen, we’re going to need to use email, Twitter, databases, conference calls, video conferencing, and online document sharing.

I like the tradition of passing a box around the room for men to contribute money to the sick and distressed.  It is a beautiful practice that should be preserved.  I would just also like to see the use of investment accounts, compound interest, and dividend reinvestment.

I like communicating by having a Secretary read off Edicts and Proclamations and Correspondence to a listening group of well dressed men for their calm, quiet consideration and reflection.  I just would also like to see these documents scanned as PDFs, posted in private online group areas, and emailed to members so they can actually read them and place them into their real world functional lives.  I would like to see the dates that are read off in lodge recorded on an online calendar that members can subscribe to so they can shoehorn them into their busy schedules.  I do not understand why the one cannot exist in harmony with the other.

These are customs and traditions which have nothing to do with Freemasonry.  They are just “traditional”.  There is nothing wrong with these traditions, and as I have said, there is a masonic argument that a tradition carries the weight of institutional legitimacy.  However, we can also make an argument that any good practice will likely be adopted and continued over several years, eventually becoming common practice, and then “the way it’s always been done”.  We should actively introduce new ways of doing things, even while preserving the old.  

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Anno Lucis by Clay Anderson

You will sometimes see Masonic certificates, lodge secretary's minutes, 
cornerstones and other official Masonic records dated with the abbreviation 
A.L. This is usually said to be an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Anno 
Lucis, meaning in the Year of Light. The A.L. date is found by adding 4000 
to the common date. For example, the present year 2013 would be 6013 A.L. 
The basis for adding 4000 years to the common date is that according to 
tradition, using calculations based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, 
the world was created about 4000 B.C. Thus, the Masonic calendar was 
dated from when God said, "Let there be light." 

Outside of Freemasonry, the traditional date given for the creation of the 
world was usually 4004 B.C., as calculated by Archbishop James Ussher of 
Armagh, Ireland, in about 1650. The date of 4004 B.C. was inserted as a 
marginal note in the 1701 edition of the English authorized version of the 
Bible and was reproduced in many other editions until the twentieth century 
(and probably still is in some editions). 

Archbishop Ussher gave the date of the Nativity of Jesus as "Anno Mundi" 
4004, that is, 4004 years after the creation of the world. He based this 
date on computations adding up the ages given in the various genealogies in 
the Old Testament, and trying to correlate them with known historical dates. 
Obviously, there are many possible sources for error in such a method. 
The Masonic custom of adding 4000 years to the current date, rather than 
4004 years, appears to be simply a matter of convenience. It is much easier 
to convert dates quickly and easily if one is using a round figure like 

Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry notes that, "As to the meaning of the 
expression, it is by no means to be supposed that Freemasons, now, intend 
by such a date to assume that their Order is as old as the creation. It is 
simply used as expressive of reverence for that physical light which was 
created by the fiat of the Grand Architect, and which is adopted as the type 
of the intellectual light of Freemasonry. The phrase is altogether 

Brother Harry Mendoza, in an article, "Anno Lucis et al" in Ars Quatuor 
Coronatorum, vol. 85 (1980), traces the history of the phrase. He states 
that, "The earliest mention of 'Anno Lucis' in England that I have found so far 
is in 1777. I am referring to the phrase in full and not to its abbreviation, A.L. These initials can be found as early as in 1725, and frequently 
in the years afterwards. But it does not follow that these letters stood 
for 'Anno Lucis'. Indeed, as I will explain later, I do not think that they 
did. . . . 

"Until that date [1777] references in England to Craft masonic eras had 
usually been either to the Year of Masonry or by the abbreviation 'A.L.' . . 
. The phrase 'Year of Masonry' . . . is found fairly regularly on all sorts 
of documents throughout the 18th century and well on into the 19th. . . . 
"Throughout the 18th century the abbreviation 'A.L.' was used on various 
documents such as Warrants and Constitutions . . . but as I indicated 
earlier, it did not necessarily stand for 'Anno Lucis'. I very much doubt that 
it did during the early years. There were other tems which could be 
abbreviated as 'A.L.'" 

Brother Mendoza goes on to review several other Latin phrases with the 
initials 'A.L.' that could be translated as "in the Year of Masonry." He 
concludes that most likely the oldest such phrase was Anno Latomorum, the 
genitive plural case of the Latin word "Latomus," meaning "of the stonecutters." 
He also concludes that the phrase "Anno Lucis" originally came from the 
Continent, probably France, and that its origin may well stem from the 
"higher" degrees. 

Just for fun, here is a link to an article by Robert Anton Wilson on 
different calendar systems, pointing out that dating things A.L. has the 
advantage that the system begins around the first dawnings of civilization and 
writing, and allows us to see all history as a single sequence, not 
interrupted by an artificial changeover from counting backwards to counting forwards: 
With his usual sense of humor, Wilson suggests that there is a [fictional] 
Illuminati calendar using the Masonic A.L. system of dating: "The 
Illuminati chronology (year one A.L. or 4000 BCE Gregorian) begins with the birth 
of Hung Mung, the ancient Chaoist (pre-Taoist) Chinese philosopher who 
answered all questions by shouting loudly, 'I don't know! I don't know!'" 
Finally, A.E. Waite, in his New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, states, 
"What is more to the purpose for Masons is to remember their own Year of 
Light, which is that of their initiation, and to see that it shines before 
them in all their paths, looking to the perfect day." 

Happy New Year, and a year of Masonic Light to all of us!!!! 


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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ely Cathedral

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