Review of Freemasonry

Make this site your Home Page Print this page Send Masonic E-card Subscribe News Alerts by Email RSS News Feed
PS Review of FM Search Engine:
recommend PS Review of Freemasonry

by W.Bro.Steven B.VanSlyck [1]
Past Master of the Ohio Lodge of Research.
Editor of the Proceedings of the Ohio Lodge of Research.

See also:
Masonic Education Course Developed by W.Bro. Kent Henderson, the course is structured in three Sections, with four parts to each section. Papers of Hamill, Cryer, Henderson and others. For the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. Free online on PS Review of Freemasonry.

            My masonic pedigree, while not particularly unusual, has resulted in many discussions with fellow masons concerning the origins of Freemasonry and the reasons for variations in masonic ritual. A member of the Order of DeMolay since I was 14, I peti­tioned for the degrees as soon as my twenty-first birthday drew near. As a Lewis[2] I was allowed to submit my petition before coming of age, and I was initiated less than a month following my twenty-first birthday. Being on leave from the U.S. Navy, I was initiated and passed in my home lodge, but was raised as a courtesy candidate in another state.


            At a lodge I visited one night, an officer of many years standing noticed that I would be helping out with the degree work and introduced himself to me. He asked about my home lodge and I told him about my receiving the first two degrees in Ohio, but the third in Virginia. He replied that he’d originally come from another state, where the work was quite a bit different than Ohio’s, and how this sometimes presented a challenge to him in his ritual work, even though he’d been in Ohio now a number of years. I said I had the same problem, having been active in Virginia for two years before getting out of the Navy.


            And then it happened. Confident and self-assured, the brother said, “Oh, that’s Southern Jurisdiction.”


            I had heard variations of this comment many times, usually along the lines of, “Oh, they’re Ancient, Free & Accepted.” These remarks had always troubled me, so I answered, “Well, Southern Jurisdiction only applies to Scottish Rite.” To which the brother gave the condescending response, “Don’t kid yourself, son. All grand lodges have different rituals.” Stunned, I was just about to follow up when the Master called for the brethren to clothe.


            I have been advised by brother masons that Southern/Northern Jurisdiction and F. & A.M./A.F. & A.M. designations account for differences in lodge or ritual practices on more occasions than I care to remember. Usually such pronouncements are made with a gravity which brooks neither disagreement nor discussion. Knowing the importance of looking for the good in things, I try to remind myself that I have yet to hear anyone tell me “that Masonry in its present form started in remote antiquity.”[3]


            Believe it or not, this does happen. Bro. Harry Mendoza, a respected masonic historian, gave a talk at an English lodge once. As he tells it,


      My paper dealt with some of the phrases we use today – and one of them was ‘from time immemorial.’ I said that Freemasonry as we know it today stretched back no more than about 600 years, though some would argue 250 years. A Grand Officer present – of some years’ seniority – stood up and said that he couldn’t really allow that; I was misleading the brethren. Masonry, he declared firmly, was of time immemorial; it went right back to the time of Noah – and there were degrees to prove it!”[4]


            I believe such statements reveal a need for more-focused masonic education programs, programs aimed at basic misconceptions about the Craft, its structure, and its history. What should be the goals of such a program? Several come to mind, though in no particular order.


Our Origins – Separating Fact from Fiction


            1.         Compare and contrast traditional or ritualistic history, historical theories, and scholarly historical research.


            Traditional/ritualistic history dates Masonry from Adam, and includes the story of Hiram Abif and the Lost Word. The story of Hiram Abif is not biblical, nor does everything in Freemasonry come from the Bible, as I have heard claimed more than once. Sources of traditional history include such things as the Old Charges and the ritual.[5] Traditional history is not history in the true sense of the word, being for the most part fanciful products of the imaginations of various writers. When found in the ritual, such accounts are meant to teach concepts of morality, not to give an accurate portrayal of past events.


            Historical theories, only sometimes supported by valid research and investigation, range from the operative-speculative transition theory, championed by Robert Freke Gould and Harry Carr, to the monastic inner sancta theory, proposed by Cyril Batham.[6] Both of these are theories about the origin of speculative Freemasonry. It should be stressed that no one today really knows how the Fraternity originated, but the transition theory seems to have taken on a life of its own, and is too often treated as the last word on the subject.[7] It should be stressed to our students that these are but theories of origin and not established facts.


            Scholarly historical research requires reliable methods of investiga­tion and inquiry. Such works identify opinions and theories as such, provide citations for source materials, rely on direct evidence where possible instead of hearsay, do not make unwarranted pronouncements or implied assumptions, and are not subject to credible attack as to their methodology.


            Lodge education officers should both understand for themselves and clearly identify to others which portions of a program are based on fact, theory, or traditional history. Theories based on poor scholarship should be discouraged in official education programs, or at least properly identified. Lets avoid teaching parables as history.


            2.         Talk about masonic research, particularly about the publications of The Masonic Service Association, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the Scottish Rite Research Society, the Masonic Book Club, and other reputable sources. Advise masons where to locate masonic books, providing names, addresses, and telephone numbers for various publishers. Indicate that the popularity of a book (e.g., Born in Blood) or writer (e.g., Arthur Edward Waite[8]) indicates neither soundness of the theories espoused, validity of the conclusions made, nor qualifications of the author. A one-year subscription to The Short Talk Bulletin should be given to every mason with his first dues card. A new mason could do a lot worse than to begin his study of Freemasonry by reading Carl H. Claudy.


Organization and Regularity


            3.         Instruct masons on the structure of American Freemasonry. Make sure new masons understand that although there is a place in the Fraternity for the concordant and appendant bodies, the Grand Lodge is the ultimate governing authority over the Craft,[9] there is no higher degree than that of Master Mason, and the attraction of the side degrees should be viewed in its proper perspective.[10] Impress upon masons that the jurisdictional arrangements of the Scottish Rite and other such bodies have no relevance to U.S. grand lodges nor to U.S. Craft (blue lodge) Masonry in general. Furthermore, make it clear that neither the location of a state on the map nor the designation of a grand lodge as F. & A.M. or A.F. & A.M. has any bearing on grand lodge regularity. Nor do such designations of themselves reveal anything about a grand lodge’s parentage or pedigree.


            4.         Explain that the U.S. structure of Masonry does not obtain in other countries. Explain that in some countries the Craft degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite (or Ancient and Accepted Rite), while in others (e.g., Sweden), the grand lodge directly controls advancement to degrees beyond that of Master Mason. Explain that advancement in many parts of the world to the next degree (starting with the Fellowcraft) is neither fast nor automatic, the candidate having much more study to do than is usual in the United States. Further, explain that some grand lodges (e.g., Sweden) limit masonic membership to Christians, though this is not the case in the U.K. or the U.S.


            5.         Explain that Freemasonry in the United States is not a Christian organization and that a brother called on to give a non-ritual prayer at a masonic function should not use words such as “In Christ’s Name” as doing so could well be offensive to non-Christian masons who may be present.[11] It would seem the better path to keep non-ritual prayers on a basis “in which all men agree” as the old charges suggest.


            6.         Tell of the controversies which gave rise to the Antients grand lodge, which then labeled the first grand lodge as “Moderns,” what the basic causes of the difficulties were, and how the two grand lodges settled their differences and formed the United Grand Lodge of England.[12] Explain that masons traveling to foreign countries may expect to find different passwords in use (including the S.),[13] as well as different sets of working tools, different ways of presenting the legend of the third degree, different GHSs, and other general differences around the world, particularly between the more popular post-Union rituals used in Britain and the Webb rituals used in the United States.[14] Explain that in some parts of the world (and the U.S., too) the Craft degrees are worked using rituals propounded by the Scottish Rite.[15] Discuss the “Balti­more” Conventions of 1842, 1843, and 1847 and how they affected American Freemasonry,[16] in part by launching the trend for lodges to transact business only on the third degree and curtailing development of a general grand lodge for the United States.[17]


            7.         Explain Prince Hall Masonry.[18] Point out that black and Prince Hall masons are not necessarily irregular, that irregular black and Prince Hall masons are not irregular because of race, that a black mason is not necessarily a Prince Hall mason, and that many black masons belong to lodges chartered by so-called “white” grand lodges.[19] Irregularity stems from a grand lodge’s pedigree, not the racial makeup of its lodges, and is, in any case, always judged subjectively.[20]


The Ritual


            8.         Explain in general terms the history of masonic ritual.[21] The original masonic degrees were Apprentice and Fellow. The Master Mason degree was more or less settled in the 1720s[22] and the Royal Arch arose in the 1730s,[23] but all other degrees are more recent innovations and arose outside of the Craft Masonry setting.[24] Grand lodges have sovereign authority to determine what Craft rituals will be used in their jurisdictions. A grand lodge may specify a particular ritual, or may leave the matter up to local lodges and simply set general guidelines.[25] The designations “F. & A.M.,” “A.F. & A.M.,” “F.A.A.M.,” or otherwise are irrelevant as far as ritual is concerned.


            9.         Explain the origin of the words, “So mote it be,” being Middle English for “So may it be” or “So be it,” and appearing twice in the Regius Manuscript.[26] Provide new masons with a properly translated copy of the Regius MS and suggest that they read John Hamill’s book, The History of English Freemason­ry.


Pythagorean theorem             10.       Explain that masonic ritual is supposed to make sense spiritually and emotionally, not logically or historically. Take, for exam­ple, the Pythagorean theorem, which relates the lengths of the sides of a right triable to its hypotenuse, stated algebraically as a2+b2=c2. Math­e­mati­cal histor­ians dis­pute whether Pythagoras him­self ever posi­ted the theorem named for him – or devised a proof of it. But in either case, the Babylonians made use of the theory by about 2,000 B.C., some 1,400 years before Pythagoras was born. Nothing survives of Pythago­ras’ work, although the “bride’s chair proof” or “proof walking on stilts” as it has been called, popularized by Euclid and shown on masonic tracing boards, is as good a representation as any of how the early Greeks would have approached the problem.[27] The proof is used as the Past Master symbol by our English brethren.


            Nor is Pythagoras famous for saying “Eureka,” meaning “I have found it.” It was Archimedes who gave this exclamation when, sitting in his bath, he realized how to determine whether the crown of Hieron II, King of Syracuse, was pure gold by immersing it in water to discover its specific gravity. Pythagoras was not, of course, “raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.” There was no such thing.


            11.       Foster an interest in quality ritual and encourage establishment of lodges of instruction. The cipher ritual is not a substitute for rehearsals and must not be used as a crutch. A lodge of instruction could, by bringing together members of several lodges to practice jointly, promote exchange of good ideas and discourage unnecessary practices and bad habits. Ideas abound: teach deacons and stewards how to hold and carry a staff properly; teach chaplains how to time their prayers and direct them to the candidate; teach proper voice techniques; teach speakers how to deal with unexpected situations (e.g., an improperly prepared EA candidate being presented to the Master). There are two areas where lodges of instruction could be especially helpful: demonstrating proper salutes, and teaching correct pronunciation and delivery.


            Due-guards and signs. When I joined the Navy, I was told that salutes become sloppier in direct proportion to the rank of the officer giving them. In Freemasonry, however, where our only contention should be on “who best can work and best agree” (i.e., make their wall level and plumb), just the opposite should be true. Unfortunately it is not. Due-guards and signs should be given in a crisp, military manner, and accompanied by appropriate placement of the feet. Hands should be completely flat for all due-guards and signs, except for the moving hand in the FC sign.


            For some unknown reason, the FC degree presents special problems. There is a disturbing tendency in some lodges to give the FC due-guard with the one arm extended. This is not correct! The resulting gesture has no place in a masonic lodge. All signs, including the FC sign, being p. signs, represent a ctg m and not a plg m. We are not talking dolls, nor are we throwing salt or catching flies.


            Word pronunciation and delivery. I am reminded of the story of the new mason who went home and told his wife of the three types of men to be found in a masonic lodge: the walkers, the talkers, and the holy men. The walkers walk around the lodge; the talkers talk while the walkers walk; and the holy men (they’re the ones with aprons trimmed in purple), they sit with their heads in their hands saying, “Ohmigod.”


            Of course it’s easy to preach from behind; its quite another when you’re sitting in the East with all eyes upon you. We all acquire bad habits – some very dear to the heart. In fact, certain passages sound better with a word pronounced, shall we say, “with improvement.” For example, I much prefer /DAY-i-tee/, /PILE-as-tur/, and /DYE-ves-ted/. All of which are wrong. Mis­pro­noun­cing the word “divest” is particularly popular because emphasizing the first syllable draws attention to the distinction between investing and divesting. Which proves the point that we must consider the message being conveyed not only by the words but by their delivery as well. Correct pronunciation is only a beginning, but it is a necessary one.


            Before moving on, allow me to suggest three areas where a zero tolerance policy should be employed and absolute perfection demanded: the apron presentation, the “G” Lecture, and the pre­sen­ta­tion and description of the FPOF. These areas are the hearts of their degrees. I believe that anything less than per­fection in their presentation is an insult both to the candidate and to the lodge.


            So let’s pronounce the words right. When they’re said wrong, the speaker comes across as uncaring and un-prepared. Let’s understand the meaning, too, because correct pronunciation will not save a speaker who doesn’t know what he’s saying.


            Some word usages (“stone,” “bourne,” “smote”) are commonly heard only in masonic ritual. I would like to touch on these and the more common offenses which so often arise, but I must leave a more thorough study for the future. A number of problem words are listed in the Appendix.


            So much for ritual matters.




            12.       Advise masons that Freemasonry is not anti-Catholic although, depending whom you ask, the opposite may be true.

            In 1974 Cardinal Seper wrote to the bishops, stating that “The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith . . . has ruled that Canon 2335 no longer bars a Catholic from membership of masonic groups. . . . And so a Catholic who joins the Freemasons is excommunicated only if the policy and actions of the Freemasons in his area are known to be hostile to the Church. . . .”[29] But there have been developments since then.


            In 1983, a new Code of Canon Law was published, wherein Canon 2335 was replaced by Canon 1374, which only forbade membership in organizations which “plot against the Church” and removed the penalty of automatic excommunication, replacing it with “a just penalty.” This is in conformity with Cardinal Seper’s interpretation. Shortly before the new Code was published, however, the Sacred Congregation, under a new Prefect, issued a pronouncement that Canon 1374 did not really affect the original policy. Although the pronouncement nullifies Cardinal Seper’s earlier ruling, it was issued prior to the effective date of the new canon. Accordingly, some dioceses are holding that the canon supersedes the ruling and are on that basis permitting masonic membership.[30]

            The point is that masonry is neither “for” nor “against” any faith or denomination. The repeated need to say so is deeply troubling as it reveals, at best, questions arising out of on little or no capacity for independent thought.


            13.       Explain that the American Revolution was not a masonic plot or conspiracy,[31] nor was the Boston Tea Party,[32] and suggest that masons curb their appetite for these stories. Certainly masons participated in all these events, but if Masonry as an organization were to have done so it would be more cause for shame than jubilation. After all, General Arnold was also a freemason.[33]


Attending to the Gullible – and the Hateful


            14.       Discuss the Morgan Affair, and explain the danger of ignoring anti-masonic sentiments.[34] Masons are charged not to let their zeal for the Institution lead them into argument with those who through ignorance may ridicule it. But anti-masons are not acting only out of ignorance. Their attacks are not ridicule but weapons specifically employed to destroy society’s greatest champion of freedom of conscience and universal morality.[35] Masons should be strongly encouraged to study Ed King’s website at http://masonicinfo .com. It provides a wealth of information about the anti-mason and his motivations.[36]


15.       Explain that Freemasonry isn’t about secrets, and that “It’s a secret” is an un­accept­able response to general questions about the Craft. Anti-masons like to attack the straw-man of masonic “secrecy,” attempting thereby to neatly avoid the fact that our organization, like any other, is entitled to its privacy. As if we should be ashamed of restricting our meetings to members only!

            Make sure masons understand that “[t]he [real] secrets in Masonry are personal insights. They are secret not because we are pledged to conceal them, but because they cannot be truly communicated from one person to another.”[37] Anti-masons who think they’ve done something clever by publishing what they believe to be our “secrets” are truly a sad lot. An unexpected writer (Giovanni Casanova) put it this way:

      Men who plan only to be accepted as Freemasons with the purpose of coming to know the secret of the Order run great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever attaining their object. [There is] a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been told nor confided to anyone. Those who grasp at the superficiality of things believe that the secret consists in words, signs and grips, or that in the final analysis it is the grand word of the last degree. A mistake!


      He who discovers the secret of Freemasonry, for they never know where they are finding it, will not arrive at that knowledge by reason of frequenting lodges. He gains it only by the strength of reflecting, of reasoning, of comparing, and of deducing. He will not confide it to his best friend in Freemasonry, for he knows that if that brother does not find it for himself as did he, the friend will not have the talent to extract the means to do so from what shall be said in his ear. * * *

      [T]hose who by dishonest indiscretion make no scruple of revealing what is done [in lodge] have never revealed the essential: they do not know it, and if they have not known, truly they cannot reveal. . . .[38]


            Unfortunately, masonic history and many of the matters above are also not learned by “frequenting lodges.” But unlike the secrets of the apron, square, compasses and trowel, masonic education can be taught – and we are the ones charged to do so.




            Six hundred years ago, an anonymous priest, for his masonic education project, wrote:


This good lord loved the craft full well,

      and proposed to strengthen it, every dell;

For diverse faults that in the craft he found,

      he set about into the land

After all the masons of the craft,

      to come to him full even straghfte [straight].


For to amend these defaults all,

      by good counsel, if it might fall,

An assembly then he could let make,

      of diverse lords in their state --

Dukes, earls, and barons also;

      knights, squires, and many mo.


(And the great burgesses of that city,

      they were there all in their degree.)

These were there each one algate [everywhere, always],

      to ordain for these masons’ estate --

There they sought by their wit,

      how [that] they might govern it:

Fyftene artyculus þey þer sow3ton,

    and fyftene poyntys þer þey wro3ton.   [39]


            My fifteen points are nothing compared to the timeless message of the Regius Manuscript. But I flatter myself that my points also have their place. I’ve been told that the trouble with masonic education of this type is that it never reaches the brethren who need it most – that is, the ones who believe that their long tenure in lodge equals knowledge of the Craft. This is alarming, because as the saying goes, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” These harm us and no one else, and cry out for good counsel to be whispered in a brother’s ear.


            I know that I’m preaching to the choir. But who else is there to call on? A more aggressive masonic education program will work – if we work it. It is essential to raise the level of knowledge on which the average mason stands. I pray the Craft to correct these misconceptions wherever found, to examine the content of our education programs, to continue being leaders and shining a brighter light into the darkness of unconsidered speculation and hearsay which too often passes for knowledge in our mystic circle.

app1.jpg - 66676 Bytes app2.jpg - 68057 Bytes



The bibliography has been incorporated into the notes.

                The author thanks the following persons for their comments and suggestions, all of which have contributed to this work. In alphabetical order --


                Wor. Bro. James G. Bennie, WM, Lodge Southern Cross No. 44, F. & A.M., British Columbia


                Wor. Bro. Greg M. Glur, PM, Shiloh Lodge No. 1, A.F. & A.M., North Dakota


                Bro. Karl-Gunnar Hultland, FC, Saints John Lodge Ultima Thule, Swedish Order of Freemasons


                Lisa J. Kiser, Ph.D., Professor of Old English and Middle English Literature, English Linguistics, and History of the English Language, The Ohio State University


                Wor. Bro. Den Robinson, PM, Sant Beuno Lodge No. 6733, A.F. & A.M., England


                Wor. Bro. Richard D. Snow, PM, New England Lodge No. 4, F. & A.M., Ohio; PM, Ohio Lodge of Research


                Wor. Bro. Timothy B. Strawn, PM, New England Lodge No. 4, F. & A.M., Ohio


                Wor. Bro. Robert L. Tucker, PM, Adoniram Lodge No. 517, F. & A.M., Ohio


                Wor. Bro. Louis S. VanSlyck, PM, Trinity Lodge No. 710, F. & A.M. of Ohio; PM, Ohio Lodge of Research

app3.jpg - 42839 Bytes

[1] Steven B. VanSlyck, Jur.D. is an attorney at law with primary experience in trusts, estate planning, and probate, as well as consumer bankruptcy and a few other matters, and is also an associate member of the American Copy Editors Society. He is a Past Master of the Ohio Lodge of Research, and on Nov. 20, 2005 was installed as WM of New England Lodge No. 4, having previously served as Senior Warden and Senior Steward.Ed.

[2] The son of a mason. Also, a dovetailed tenon made of several parts and designed to fit into a dovetail mortise in a large stone so that it can be lifted vertically by a hoisting apparatus, typically of three legs. Sometimes fitted into the side of a stone to aid in horizontal movement. Also called a lewisson.

[3] Tresner, James T. II, Albert Pike: The Man Beyond the Monument, p. 15 (Scottish Rite Research Society, 1995). Sadly, as this paper goes to press this statement is no longer true. I now know one brother who insists that Freemasonry is at least 2,000 years old.

[4] 91 AQC 89 (1978). (AQC refers to Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Proceedings of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, the premier lodge of masonic research.)

[5] A good place to start in studying the old charges is McLeod, Wallace, The Old Charges, 99 AQC 120 (1986). It is apparently from the old charges, or at least some of them, that Craft, or blue lodge, Masonry takes its designation as being “York” or “York Rite” Masonry. Markham, G., The Legendary History in the Old Charges – Why York?, 98 AQC 61 (1985).

[6] Batham, Cyril N., The Origin of Freemasonry (A New Theory), 106 AQC 16 (1993).

[7] A particular problem with the transition theory, as discussed by Bro. Batham: “In an article in Grand Lodge 1717-1967, which was published by the Untied Grand Lodge of England in 1967, Bro. Harry Carr, [sic] wrote of the Transition theory as though it was an established fact. * * * It [must be] emphasized that his views have been challenged by several writers since then and, as he had to admit to me, there is not a shadow of proof to support the theory which he had put forward.” 106 AQC 16, 17 (1993). Bro. Colin Dyer, as an example, put forth a conflicting view in Some Thoughts on the Origins of Speculative Masonry, 95 AQC 92 (1982), wherein he said, “[T]he movement which gave rise to speculative Masonry was a deliberate creation, almost certainly of a secret nature, and not necessarily connected in any way with building or the building industry.” Id. at 142. See also, Sandbach, Richard, The Origin of Species: The Freemason, 108 AQC 48 (1995). The Grand Lodge of Ohio, in its candidate orientation program, also presents the transition theory as fact. Candidate Counselor’s Handbook, A Short History of Freemasonry, p. 41 (Grand Lodge of Ohio, 1992).

[8] Gilbert, R. A., To See Ourselves as Others See Us, 107 AQC 1 (1994).

[9] Art deHoyos writes, “In ‘regular’ American Masonry control over the Craft degrees was admittedly a right of the several Grand Lodges, a privilege which survives today. In most Latin as well as many European countries, however, the various Supreme Councils [of the Scottish Rite] often exercise their prerogative of conferring these degrees. . . .” 15 Collectanea, Part 3, p. 2 (1995) [italics mine]. Now, the Council of Emperors of the East and West, from which the Scottish Rite eventually arose, came into being in Paris around 1758. deHoyos, Art, The Union of 1867, 4 Heredom 7, 8 (1995). Although the “higher grades” had been developing in France for some time before that, I think it can be said without fear of contradiction that the grand lodge system predated the Scottish Rite by many years. I do not understand how it can fairly be said that any body other than a grand lodge could have a “prerogative” to confer the Craft degrees, or that grand lodge jurisdiction over such degrees could really be characterized as a “privilege,” which implies some higher author­ity having the right to regulate or deny such privilege. Particularly given that the “Secret” Constitutions of 1761, on which this claim is ultimately based, were a fraud.

It would help to stop using phrases like “32nd degree mason,” replacing them with the more accurate expression, “32nd degree Scottish Rite mason.” Also, refer to bodies other than Craft lodges as conferring “side degrees” or “later degrees” instead of the misleading “higher degrees,” a term which origi­nated in France. The author notes with dismay that the term “32nd degree mason” is, at publication time, being emphasized by the Supreme Council, NMJ.

[10] Stewart, Trevor, Some Thoughts About the Social Psychology of the ‘Extra-Craft’ Degrees, 107 AQC 179 (1994).

[11] Don’t shoot the messenger. Freemasonry has been non-sectarian for over 200 years, the Fraternity only requiring its members to be of “that religion in which all men agree [i.e., belief in a Supreme Being], leaving their particular opinions to themselves; . . . by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished. . . .” The Charges of a Free Mason, Article I, Of God and Religion, a ‘fundamental law of Free Masonry’ accord­ing to Article XII of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. Of course, Christian prayers are appropriate in Knights Templar proceedings, or otherwise where membership is limited to Christian masons only.

The Old Charges and the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ohio were first proposed for adoption by the Grand Master in 1842 and appear in the Proceed­ings for that year. Every brother interested in Ohio ritual should review those Proceedings as the charges, prayers, and G lecture then recommended, and which appear there, differ significantly from our monitorial work today.

[12] See Batham, Cyril N., The Grand Lodge of England According to the Old Institutions (The Grand Lodge of the Antients), 94 AQC 141 (1981) and Some Problems of the Grand Lodge of the Antients, 98 AQC 109 (1985).

[13] See Mendoza, Harry, The Words of a Master Mason, 102 AQC 164 (1989).

[14] The Hiramic Legend is no secret, having been discussed at length in masonic research pub­li­ca­tions from Ars Quatuor Corona­torum on down. Observant masons will notice that the Webb ritu­als’ treatment of this legend (so far as I have been able to deter­mine) has a puzzling shift in focus halfway through the story. The story begins with extortion and murder so as to acquire “the secret” from HA. HA and several others turn up missing. An investigation is made, whereby it is learned that HA has been killed. Concern is expressed that his death may have resulted in loss of “the secret,” and a search is made for the body. On discovery of the body, however, no more mention is made about “the secret,” only that “the word” has been lost. Until now, nothing has been implied that the “secret” is a “word.” Under the English post-Union rituals, however, this does not occur because from start to finish the emphasis remains on the secrets (plural) as a whole, and no “lost word” is singled out for special atten­tion. A number of secrets having been lost, KS deals with the situation by not dealing with it. Instead the problem is recast into some other problem, never before raised, and KS [redacted for publication – Ed.].

[15] Scottish Rite rituals for the three Craft degrees are used in various parts of the world, including some lodges in New Orleans and New York City. Peterson, Norman D., The Apprentice of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite and an Apparatus for Study of Minute Parallels in Ritual, 107 AQC 183 (1994). Though this organization is called the Scottish Rite in the U.S., the degrees are French in origin. Id. at 187, n. 1. The Scottish Rite degrees (1°-33° or 4°-33°) are as beautiful as its history is intriguing, and add much to Freemasonry’s store of moral philosophy.

[16] There is no dearth of suitable topics for a paper such as this, and as all writers know, every interesting subject leads inexorably to another. The Hydra being what it is, I respectfully surrender: a paper on the work and effect of the these conven­tions will have to wait for another day.

[17] The movement for a general grand lodge began at a meeting of American Union Lodge (now No. 1 of Ohio) at Morristown, NJ on December 27, 1779. General Washington was in attendance at this meeting. Cerza, Alphonze, The American War of Independence and Freemasonry, 89 AQC 169, 174 (1976).

[18] See Draffen of Newington, George, Prince Hall Freemasonry, 89 AQC 70 (1976).

[19] On October 20, 1995, the Grand Lodge of Ohio recognized The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio, Inc., having itself been reciprocally recognized on August 14 of the same year. See Report of the Fraternal Relations Committee, Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, p. 91 (1995), and Report of the Grand Master, id. at 37-38. At the request of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the committee recommended that recognition be for visitation purposes only, not transfer of membership.

The harmony between brethren of the grand lodges is astonishing. Something has happened among the masons of these two bodies which was never before seen within either separately. There is a brotherhood, a sprit of inner peace and harmony, which is the purest exemplar of the best teachings the Craft. The gangrenous evil of racism has truly been impaled on the Tyler’s sword.

[20] Brodsky, Michael L., The Regular Freemason: A Short History of Masonic Regularity, 106 AQC 14 (1993); Haffner, Christopher, Regularity of Origin, 96 AQC 111 (1993); and VanSlyck, Louis S., Regular and Irregular Masons, Proceedings of the Ohio Lodge of Research, 25 OLR ___ (1997-2003).

[21] See, for example, Dennis, Jerry, Pliny’s World: All the Facts – And Then Some, Smithsonian, Vol. 26, no. 8, p. 152 (Nov. 1995). Apparently Pliny the Elder was one of the sources Preston drew on in preparing his monitor. Pliny aside, a good place to start is with “Ritual Differences,” The Short Talk Bulletin, Vol. 12, no. 1 (Masonic Service Association, 1934).

[22] Hamill, John, The History of English Freemasonry, p. 110 (1994).

[23] Id. The 1813 Articles of Union which formed the United Grand Lodge of England “declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more; Vizt. those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. . . .” Mendoza, Harry, The Articles of Union and the Orders of Chivalry, 93 AQC 59 (1980). See also, Ough, Anthony R., The Origin and Development of Royal Arch Masonry – A Short History of the Evolution of the Organization, Government and the Ritual of the Holy Royal Arch, 108 AQC 188 (1995) and Brodsky, Michael L., Some Reflections on the Origin of the Royal Arch, 102 AQC 98 (1989).

[24] The Mark and Past Master (Virtual) degrees being possible exceptions. The Mark degree was originally worked in lodges with and as a part of the Royal Arch. Hamill, supra, at 128. The Royal Arch was originally limited to Installed and Past Masters, however this limited Royal Arch growth. The Past Master (Virtual) degree was therefore instituted as a kind of legal fiction to allow masons who had not yet reached the Chair to be exalted. Id. at 119-120. This degree, referred to as the “Inner Working” in England, remains an integral part of the third degree in that country, although used only during installations.

[25] For example, Sojourner-Kilwinning Lodge No. 1798, F.A.A.M. of the District of Columbia has authority to work both the Emulation ritual and the District of Columbia ritual.

[26] The last four lines of the Regius MS, c. 1390, are: Wel þys boke to conne & rede, Heven to have for 3owre mede. Amē amen – so mot hyt be! Say we so alle pr charyte.37 This translates as: “Well this book to know and read, Heaven to have for your meed. Amen, amen – so mote it be! Say we so all, By Charity!” The last line is routinely (mis)translated as “So say we all for charity,” which is wrong in both words and meaning. The Internet repeats and spreads these and many other blunders in wording and translation over and over again. Its full flavor can be realized in the original Middle English. I believe most renditions today suffer from a too literal translation. For example, “mede,” today spelled “meed,” means “reward.” But were we to supply our own word, “mead,” we could not only retain the rhyme but supply the interesting metaphor of quenchng a thirst (for knowledge) and dovetail nicely with the wine of refreshment as a symbol of the Fellowcraft degree. “Conne” actually means “read” in the sense of learning through study, or knowing, so we essentially have a doublet – “to read and read.”

Masons tend to completely misunderstand the last two words, “par charyte.” This phrase was a common interjection, used much as a person might end a sentence with “by gosh” or “indeed” today. From the context, it is doubtful that this was a specific reference to charity either in the sense of giving generally or as a masonic virtue. I think the translation “by charity” is therefore better than “for charity,” which is the usual case.

Those wishing to learn more about the Regius MS can begin by reading the article on James O. Halliwell in Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, and continue with Hamer, Douglas, Further Consideration of the Regius MS, 94 AQC 166 (1981).

[27] See generally, Dunham, William, The Mathematical Universe (1994), and Swetz, Frank J., ed., From Five Fingers to Eternity: A Journey Through the History of Mathematics (1994).

[28] With a nod to Robert Lynn Asprin.

[29] See Mellor, Alec, The Roman Catholic Church and the Craft, 89 AQC 60, 68 (1976). See also, see Barker Cryer, Nevil, The Churches’ Concern with Freemasonry, 95 AQC 1 (1982).

[30] Madison, William G., “The Miter and the Trowel,” The Philalethes, pp. 86 (Aug. 1996); continued at 111, 112 (Oct. 1996).

[31] Cerza, War of Independence, supra.

[32] Cerza, Alphonze, The Boston Tea Party and Freemasonry, 98 AQC 207 (1985).

[33] Cerza, War of Independence, supra, at 174.

[34] A good discussion of the Morgan Affair can be found in Muir, R. Keith, The Morgan Affair and its Effect on Freemasonry, 105 AQC 217 (1992) and 106 AQC 131 (1993).

[35] “The problem of anti-masonry is deep-rooted and there is no easy solution to it. No matter how noble its aims and teachings may be, Freemasonry cannot expand its membership as long as it is out of touch with society. It is essential that efforts be made on the part of freemasons so that society in general will come to have a better understanding of the fraternity. Only by enlightening the public about its true purposes and principles and dispelling their misconceptions, will Freemasonry be able to grow in the Land of the Rising Sun [and elsewhere throughout the world].” Washizu, Yoshio, Anti-Masonry in Japan – Past and Present, 107 AQC 85, 106 (1994).

[36] These two sentences added by author at press time.

[37] Tresner, supra, at 77.

[38] Casanova de Seingalt, Giovanni Jacopo, Memoirs, as published in Mackey, Albert G., Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. 1, pp. 181-182 (Rev. ed., 1946).

[39] Fyftene artyculus þey þer sow3ton, and fyftene poyntys þer þey wro3ton. (Fifteen articles they there sought, and fifteen points there they wrought.) The words 3ower, sow3ton, and wro3ton (your, sought, and wrought) contain a character called the yogh, which is often mistaken for, and wrongly transliterated as, a z. The Middle English yogh was used for two sounds, later inscribed y at the beginning of a word, and gh elsewhere to indicate the velar-fricative. This shift was underway when the Regius MS was written. The gh survives silently today in such words as knight. Pyles, Thomas, and Algeo, John, The Origins and Development of the English Language, pp. 107-108, 139-140 (Third ed., 1982). Old and Middle English also had characters for the voiced and unvoiced dental fricative th. These characters were called the eth (Ð, ) and the thorn (Þ, þ) respectively. Middle English used both characters, as well as th, interchangeably. My favorite words in the poem: “Kyng Nabogodonosor.

Home Page | Alphabetical Index | What is New | Freemasons World News
Research Papers | Books online | Freemasons History | Symbolism & Rituals
Saggi in Italiano | Essais en Langue Française | Monografias em Português | Planchas Masonicas en Español

| Sitemap | Privacy Policy | How to Contribute a Paper |

RSS Feed News Feed | News Alerts Subscribe News by Email

visitor/s currently on the page.