Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tall Cedars of Lebanon

Officially named the Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America is an obscure appendant body of Freemasonry devoted to fostering friendship and fellowship among Freemasons; The motto of this organization is "Fun, Frolic, & Fellowship." This group is open to Masters Masons in good standing and Masons will see the name originates from the legend of King Solomon's Temple who used cedars from Lebanon in the erection of that building. There are around 13,000 members and 102 Forests, but most of this is situated primarily on the East Coast.

From the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey, "The grove of trees known as the Cedars of Lebanon consists of about four hundred trees, standing quite alone in a depression of the mountain with no trees near, about six thousand four hundred feet above the sea, and three thousand below the summit." The Cedar tree is very symbolic. It is seen as a symbol of eternity due to the longevity of the tree's life. From the Bible, we learn that the Ark of Covenant was made of Cedar. In Freemasonry, the Cedars of Lebanon make several appearances throughout the various degrees. The ritual of the Tall Cedars is said to be taken from I Kings, II Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.


Members are known as "Cedars" and the basic organization unit is known as "Forests" which is presided over by a Grand Tall Cedar. The members are distinguished by the pyramid-shaped hat they wear. Like the Shriners, Forests include a number of units and clubs such as Clowns, Band, Bowling Leagues, RV club, Golfers, Antique Car Units, Camping Club, etc. The international governing body is known as the "Supreme Forest" which is presided over by the "Supreme Tall Cedar" and is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA. In addition, there are two additional degrees conferred known as the "Royal Court" and the "Sidonian."

The history of this group goes back to around 1843 when it was a standalone degree and not a formal organization. This "Tall Cedar degree" was known in those days "The Ancient and Honorable Rite of Humility" which is said to have include some roughhousing and hazing. The little records that exist show that the degree continued through the actions of Dr. Corson and Dr. Stevens who conferred the degree throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 1887, Dr. Stevens conferred this degree upon Frank Bowen and Orlando Bowen, who were a part of the group that formed the Tall Cedars of Lebanon of the USA. Often this degree was conferred at large gatherings of Master Masons.

The Tall Cedars of Lebanon of the USA was founded on March 18th, 1902, in Trenton, NJ, by 15-members. The decision to formalize this group was due to the desire to stabilize and preserve what they saw as a worthwhile ceremony. In 1972, the name changed to the Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America when the organization spread to Canada.

Like most appendant bodies in Freemasonry, there is a designated charity for this organization. The Tall Cedars supports research into Muscular Dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases. It is estimated that the Tall Cedars have raised over $14-million for Muscular Dystrophy research. Each year, the Supreme Forest presents a check at the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

References

1. Bullen, J. E. (n.d.). Whence Came We? Retrieved from Tall Cedars of Lebanon: http://www.tallcedars.org/information/history.htm

2. Hodapp, C. (2009, September 07). Tall Cedars of Lebanon. Retrieved from Freemasons for Dummies: http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2009/09/tall-cedars-of-lebanon.html

3. Tall Cedars of Lebanon. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_Cedars_of_Lebanon

4. Tall Cedars of Lebanon. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/tcol.html

5. Tall Cedars of Lebanon. (n.d.). Retrieved from Freemason Information: http://freemasoninformation.com/what-is-freemasonry/family-of-freemasonry/tall-cedars-of-lebanon/

6. Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America. (n.d.). Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/tall_cedars_of_lebanon.htm

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Banquet Night

By Rudyard Kipling


"ONCE in so often," King Solomon said, 
Watching his quarrymen drill the stone, 
"We will club our garlic and wine and bread 
And banquet together beneath my Throne, 
And all the Brethren shall come to that mess 
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less."

"Send a swift shallop to Hiram of Tyre, 
Felling and floating our beautiful trees, 
Say that the Brethren and I desire 
Talk with our Brethren who use the seas. 
And we shall be happy to meet them at mess 
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less." 

"Carry this message to Hiram Abif- 
Excellent master of forge and mine :- 
I and the Brethren would like it if 
He and the Brethren will come to dine 
(Garments from Bozrah or morning-dress) 
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less."

"God gave the Hyssop and Cedar their place- 
Also the Bramble, the Fig and the Thorn- 
But that is no reason to black a man's face 
Because he is not what he hasn't been born. 
And, as touching the Temple, I hold and profess 
We are Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less."

So it was ordered and so it was done, 
And the hewers of wood and the Masons of Mark, 
With foc'sle hands of Sidon run 
And Navy Lords from the Royal Ark, 
Came and sat down and were merry at mess 
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less.

The Quarries are hotter than Hiram's forge, 
No one is safe from the dog-whip's reach. 
It's mostly snowing up Lebanon gorge, 
And it's always blowing off Joppa beach; 

But once in so often, the messenger brings 
Solomon's mandate : "Forget these things! 
Brother to Beggars and Fellow to Kings, 
Companion of Princes-forget these things! 
Fellow-Craftsmen, forget these things!"

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

RIP Bro. Ron Berto

I was informed this morning that yesterday a good friend and Brother Ronald G. Berto passed away from a heart attack. He was 68. He was a Navy Veteran, an avid tuba player, a devout Christian, an active Mason, a friend, and a mentor.

Ronald G. Beto was initiated, passed, and raised in 1993 into Oriental Lodge #60 in Boise, ID. He was a Past Master of Oriental Lodge #60 (2000) and Idaho Lodge of Research #1965 (2003), and current Treasurer for both. He served as District Deputy Grand Master for the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho from 2002 to 2004. He also served the Grand Lodge as a member of the Executive Council Board of the Masonic Prepaid Life. He was a Past High Priest, Past Illustrious Master, Past Eminent Commander, and current Secretary/Recorder of the Boise York Rite bodies. He was also a Past Grand High Priest (2012-2013), Past Most Illustrious Grand Master (2014-2015), and Past Right Eminent Grand Commander (2015-2016). He was a Past President of the Order of High Priesthood of Idaho, Past Thrice Illustrious Master of the Order of the Silver Trowel of Idaho, Past Preceptor of the Idaho Chapter of the Knights Preceptor, Past Prior of Idaho Priory #13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Past Governor of Tri-Valley College #178 and Past Grand Governor of Idaho of the York Ritet Sovereign College of North America, member of Clontarf Council #69 of the Order of Knights Masons, Treasurer of Intermountain Chapel #27 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, and Past Sovereign of St. Charles Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine.

He leaves behind a loving wife, many friends and family, and a puppy named Louie. He was never the easiest person to get along with, but you could never question his heart and he was always willing to extend a helping hand. I will miss you Brother.

My Take on the Georgia Guidestones

Sitting atop the highest hilltop in Elbert County, Georgia, stands a structure referred to as the Georgia Guidestones, or the American Stonehenge. While it is known that it was unveiled on March 22, 1980, the exact origin, who the architect and financiers were, of this structure is shrouded in mystery and became a point of interest for conspiracy theorists. I came to learn about this monument from debates with conspiracy theorists who posit that Freemasonry is tied to this structure and the principles it espouses.

The Georgia Guidestones is composed six granite stones where four slabs surround a pillar on the top of which is a capstone that connects the pillar to the four surrounding slabs. On each of the four granite slabs are inscribed a set of 10 guidelines in eight modern languages: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. On the capstone atop the pillar is inscribed a shorter message in four ancient languages: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian hieroglyphs. These stones are astronomically aligned. The four stones are oriented to mark the limits of the 18.6-year lunar declination cycle. The center pillar has a hole drilled into it so one can observe the North Star. There are also slots carved into this pillar that align with the position of the sun during the solstices and equinoxes. The center pillar also allows the sun's ray to pass through the capstone at midday and shines upon the pillar indicating the day of the year. Set in the ground west of these stones, is a stone tablet that provides some historical notes and the purpose of the stones.







In the summer of 1979, a man under the pseudonym of R. C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing about building the guidestones. The company thought that Mr. Christian was crazy and gave him a quote several times higher than they would have normally given, but Mr. Christian accepted the quote. Mr. Christian served as point of contact for a group of financiers who wished to remain anonymous. The land was purchased from a farmer and later transferred ownership to Elbert County by Mr. Christian. The granite used for this project was taken from the Pyramid Quarries located 3-miles west of Elberton, GA.

The principles of the guidestones surround four major fields: domestic and international governance, population and reproduction control, man's relationship with nature, and spirituality. The 10 guidelines inscribed in the eight languages are as follows:
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason. 
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
The message inscribed in the four ancient languages on the capstone is as follows:
Let these be guidestones to an age of reason
The guidestones have been vandalized several times, often by those who oppose the "new world order". Conspiracy theorist Mark Dice, has demanded that this monument be destroyed as it was supposedly built by a "Luciferian secret society" whose goals are said to be global domination. Some have suggested that the guidestones were designed and financed by the Rosicrucians as R.C. Christian, the pseudonym of the man who commissioned the project, sounds similar to Christian Rosenkreutz, the legendary founder of the Rosicrucianism. Some recently have argued that the mysterious R.C. Christian was Herbert Hinie Kersten, a doctor from Fort Dodge, IA, and supposedly an outspoken racist/eugenicist. 


1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature

2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity

Being the first two of these guidelines, these are also the most criticized of the 10. It is assumed that the authors of these guidelines wished to kill off a massive amount of the global population. While I don't agree with reducing the global population to such a number, I'd like to play devil's advocate for a moment. Taken alone the first guideline seems very sinister, but when you apply the second guideline to the first, one could argue the authors simply meant that with responsible reproduction, that the global population would reduce itself over time.

Those who argue about the dangers of overpopulation state that global population is connected to many problems we are facing and will face in the future: environmental degradation and pollution, depletion of finite natural resources, arable lands, access to water, food scarcity and malnutrition, immigration, epidemiology, poverty, elevated crime rates, and so on.


3. Unite humanity with a living new language

I don't agree with this guide, but 1) I'm not a linguistic specialist and I find the diversity of languages (over 6,000 spoken in the world) to be a strength and 2) maybe I'm not looking at the "big picture." While it can be a point of division, the diversity of languages, or multilingualism, is an indicator of the unique history, culture, and geopolitics of that region. Languages define personal identities, but are also part of a shared inheritance. Multilingualism provides a tool for economic and technological innovation.


4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason

This Guide is something I try to follow often as it is a lesson of not only Freemasonry, but a lesson cultivated by the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. In Freemasonry, we are taught to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds towards all mankind. A means of accomplishing this is through reason. Reason is "the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic." Reason means to think and understand properly without bias, superstition, or narrow-mindedness. A rational thinking mind is open to change, to debates on an idea.



5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts

As an American, this is a principle important to the founding of my country. Within the Declaration of Independence, there are several examples pertinent to this Guideline as to why the colonists separated from Great Britain:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury: 
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
Laws must be fair and just because as Thomas Jefferson put it "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." The courts must uphold the laws and be blind to biases and prejudices. To render unto every man without distinction. The separation of powers is a keystone of democracy. Separation constrains powers and increases legitimacy, but each branch of government must maintain that legitimacy to ensure peace and harmony. To be stable, a democratic government must be deemed legitimate by the people, whom it governs and from whom it derives its powers; the people must view it as the best, the most appropriate form of government for their society. Indeed, because it rests on the consent of the governed, democracy depends on popular legitimacy much more than any other form of government. The courts are particularly susceptible to legitimacy than other branches as they are the weakest of the branches since courts do not have the power of the purse nor the sword which means they do not have any efficacious means of ensuring that their decisions are complied with or enforced. Courts are not inherently endowed with legitimacy, but gain it over time and this is done when Judges act impartial and that their decisions are grounded in laws, not partisan politics.


6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court

Looking at this guide from the perspective of someone who has studied international relations, this guide fits nicely in with the liberal theory of international relations; clarification, liberalism in international relations is not used in the same context as liberal in domestic American politics. Liberalism is one of the main schools of thought in international relations theory; other theories are realism, constructivism, Marxism, and smaller sub theories. Liberals believe that through proper international institutions can increase interdependence and cooperation thereby minimizing conflict and warfare. 


When conflicts do rise, most interventions fail. Stephen Gents in Going in When It Counts: Military Intervention and the Outcome of Civil Conflicts explains that a nation is motivated to intervene when they have the best chance of producing a favorable outcome for themselves. Most types of intervention are military or economic. With the formation of a world court this would change the dynamics of intervention and conflict resolution. Some of the greatest problems plaguing the success of military interventions is the "picking and choosing" strategy of nations and the appearance of bias or neutrality. If a nation appears to favor one side rather than seeking the cessations of violence, then the intervention and peace talks would fail. The formation of a world court would need to be based on existing outside the purview of any nation to be the model of an independent party. A world court would also need a mechanism to enforce their rulings. If a world court makes rulings, but the states don't fear any retribution or reprisal for not obeying precedence set then such a world court would be superfluous.


7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials

This guide seems too Utopian and pie in the sky for me. Of course, our world would be better served if the petty laws and useless officials were avoided. We have scholars like Tacitus who lived around two millennia ago who said, "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." Then we can jump to a Founding Father and Fourth President of the United States, James Madison, who stated, "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."

While we dream of a leader who is brave, heroic, intelligent, just, wise, and all of the other positive attributes we seek in leaders, the reality of the matter is that many leaders are anything but. Our world today is plagued with apathy, indifference, selfishness, avarice, and many other vices. The world and the people of any given nation have often become the victim of a less than virtuous men. Those who are truly fit to lead are seldom popular and instead we see the rise of the demagogue. 



8. Balance personal rights with social duties

Personal rights refer to liberties that an individual enjoys without worry of interference from other individual or the government. Social duties refer to the obligations to the community and include cooperation as well as participation. In a free society, there is tension between personal rights and social duty as for every personal right there is a corresponding duty. And one's social duties may enhance personal rights, and vice versa, particularly in the exercising of both.

As each individual is just one piece in a much larger community, he/she has a duty to contribute to the welfare and posterity of that community. However, social duty is a voluntary action and without personal rights, social duty cannot be performed if an individual is suppressed. This is seen when citizens have used their rights to fight against social injustices and which have resulted in the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, public education, community hospitals, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement, and the gay rights movement.


As a Mason, we are Charged, in the Entered Apprentice degree, to relieve the distresses of our neighbor and soothe his afflictions. Masons are also charged as a citizen to be exemplary in the discharge of our civil duties. It would take a book to discuss Freemasonry and its interaction with personal rights and social duties, but, for now, it is sufficient to say that there are numerous examples where Freemasons has supported personal rights and contributed to the social duties of their community.


9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite

These ideals and principles are prized not only within Freemasonry, but also within many faiths and cultures around the world. Freemasons are taught that Truth is a divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. From the Book of Ezra, we see a famous story where Zerubbabel took part in a discussion about what was the strongest thing in the world--wine, kings, women, or truth. Zerrubabel came out the victor by demonstrating that the truth was mightiest of all. Truth is seeing things as they really are and ascribing to them their appropriate valuations. God is the creator, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, standard, and final judge of all truth.

Beauty is a characteristic of an animal, idea, object, person, or place that is aesthetically pleasing to someone. Beauty is subjective and is in the eye of beholder. In Freemasonry, Beauty is represented by the Corinthian column, the most beautiful of the orders of architecture, and by the Junior Warden, who represents Hiram Abiff and symbolizes the meridian sun. But since Beauty is so subjective, Freemasonry uses the term not to describe physical beauty, but beauty in the spiritual and philosophical sense.

Love, that intense feeling of deep affection and attraction, is a fearsome force of nature that, as Huey Lewis sings, can "Make a one man weep, make another man sing." Love is about giving, about sacrifice, and is selfless. From 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV): 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
God created love and from John 3:16 (KJV):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Even from the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, commanded us to "love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34)." 


Religion seeks harmony with the Infinite, it is literally defined as "to reconnect," to be bonded with the Infinite. There have been many great and wise teachers whose message was to seek harmony with nature and with the divine.


10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

We are commanded by Almighty God to keep and care for the planet. Mankind has been given dominion over the earth, but that doesn't mean we are to exploit that which God has given us. Today, environmental concerns are a major point of division in American politics. Political parties fight about the source of environmental and climate changes presently occurring. My personal feelings are that the climate changes naturally, but that man has not necessarily helped that out. Without sounding like the antagonist from Inferno, overpopulation is becoming a major and contentious issue that our planet will have to face, sooner or later. While the Good Book speaks of being fruitful and populate the planet, there comes a tipping point when the population becomes unsustainable. In our world of technological advancement, we have the ability to retake the mantle as responsible stewards of this planet.

Ultimately the Georgia Guidestones serve as a map to some kind of utopian global society, but the idea of a perfect world has always been a driving force for mankind. While we should strive and progress, I think that a perfect world is out of reach as man is an imperfect creature.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Albert Pike the and Three World Wars Conspiracy

No other hoaxer has captured the imagination of anti-Masons quite like Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pag├Ęs or commonly known as Leo Taxil. No Mason has been the target and focus of so many anti-Masonic propaganda like Albert Pike. Pike is most well-known for his reform in the rituals of the Scottish Rite and publication of "Morals & Dogma." With anti-Masons, however, his importance is often exaggerated and they refer to him as the "Pope of Freemasonry."

Among the accusations held against Albert Pike and Freemasonry is the absurd claim that Albert Pike predicted three World Wars back in the 19th century and which tie back to Leo Taxil. Per William Guy Carr, Pike wrote a letter to Giuseppe Mazzini on August 15, 1871, supposedly stating the following:
The First World War must be brought about in order to permit the Illuminati to overthrow the power of the Czars in Russia and of making that country a fortress of atheistic Communism. The divergences caused by the "agentur" (agents) of the Illuminati between the British and Germanic Empires will be used to foment this war. At the end of the war, Communism will be built and used in order to destroy the other governments and in order to weaken the religions.
The Second World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences between the Fascists and the political Zionists. This war must be brought about so that Nazism is destroyed and that the political Zionism be strong enough to institute a sovereign state of Israel in Palestine. During the Second World War, International Communism must become strong enough in order to balance Christendom, which would be then restrained and held in check until the time when we would need it for the final social cataclysm.
The Third World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the "agentur" of the "Illuminati" between the political Zionists and the leaders of Islamic World. The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam (the Moslem Arabic World) and political Zionism (the State of Israel) mutually destroy each other. Meanwhile the other nations, once more divided on this issue will be constrained to fight to the point of complete physical, moral, spiritual and economical exhaustion...We shall unleash the Nihilists and the atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to the nations the effect of absolute atheism, origin of savagery and of the most bloody turmoil. Then everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the world minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate those destroyers of civilization, and the multitude, disillusioned with Christianity, whose deistic spirits will from that moment be without compass or direction, anxious for an ideal, but without knowing where to render its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer, brought finally out in the public view. This manifestation will result from the general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction of Christianity and atheism, both conquered and exterminated at the same time.
So many from these words have damned Freemasonry in general and Albert Pike specifically. This fabrication dates to Leo Taxil who was cited by Edith Starr Miller and later by Cardinal Caro y Rodriguez who was cited by William Guy Carr. In "Pawns in the Game" Carr claims that these Pike-Mazzini letters were on display in the British Museum, but never provided any proof to this assertion. He then back-peddled in a later book called "Satan, Prince of this World" where Carr stated:
The Keeper of Manuscripts recently informed the author that this letter is NOT catalogued in the British Museum Library. It seems strange that a man of Cardinal Rodriguez's knowledge should have said that it WAS in 1925.
It seems reckless that anyone would make such an accusation without fact checking first, but it seems to me that Carr is trying to shift the blame onto Rodriguez rather than admitting to lying about the letters. This is particularly true since Carr quoted directly from Rodriguez and he never mentioned a prediction about three world wars. Carr's book, along with continuing the historical fiction of the Pike-Mazzini hoax, includes the ridiculous notion that the Illuminati merged with Freemasonry at the 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad.

Most anti-Masonic argument lie solely on these "predictions" while failing to realize that Carr's mention, the most well-known, mention, of Pike and three world wars came after two of the world wars had already occurred. As for the third world war, it doesn't seem far-fetched that someone could see the coming conflict with the Middle East, but maybe that is just my hindsight kicking in. Western powers had carved up the Middle East and repeated the same imperial policies they employed with Africa, so it didn't take much of a genius to see that problems were on the horizon.

Most anti-Masons will refuse to believe that Pike didn't predict three world wars and that this conspiracy was invention accommodated post factum. This conspiracy is repeated in ad-nauseam by conspiracy theorists who aim to expose Freemasonry as puppet masters or at least implicated in using major wars to usher in a "new world order" and destroy the Christian religion. The more I look at various anti-Masonic conspiracy theories, the more I realize it is not just ignorance that fuels many of the conspiracy theories against Freemasonry, but bigotry...just pure, unadulterated hatred. It reminds me of quote from "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" where Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former Dean of Islamic Law at Qatar University, points out that fanaticism begets extremism, which leads to violence and results in terrorism. It's tragic to see so many literally falling for a hoax that is well over a century old. Too bad for conspiracy theorists that these "letters" do not stand up to scrutiny.


References

1. Balderson, K. (2011). Albert Pike’s 3 World Wars Letter Hoax. Retrieved from WideShut: http://wideshut.co.uk/albert-pikes-3-world-wars-letter-hoax-wideshut-webcast/ 

2. Melanson, T. (2015, March 9). Grand Hoax: Pike Didn’t Predict Three World Wars. Retrieved from New Illuminati: http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/2015/03/grand-hoax-pike-didnt-predict-three.html 

3. Occult Theocrasy notes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/miller_e/occult_theocrasy_notes.html 

4. Pike and Mazzini. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/pike_mazzini.html 

5. Taxil Hoax. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxil_hoax 

6. William Guy Carr. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Guy_Carr 

7. William Guy Carr repeats the lies. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/carr.html

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Goddess of Masonry

By Charles F. Forshaw


Goddess of Purity, 
Spotless and rare; 
Emblem of Charity 
Unsullied, fair; 
Symbol of Meekness-- 
Radiant, bright, 
′Minding the Brethren 
Of realms of Light-- 
Strong in the knowledge 
Virtuous might.

Symbol of Chastity, 
Spirit of Bliss, 
Coming to cheer us, 
Through the abyss, 
Token of faithfulness-- 
Be thou our guide; 
Emblem of Hopefulness-- 
Keep by our side; 
Help us and lead us o′er 
Every dark tide!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076

Today marks the 131st Anniversay of the consecreation of Quatuor Coronati Lodge #2076 in London, England. This Lodge is the premier Research Lodge around the world with the following aims:
  • To develop and maintain an interest in Masonic research by presenting and discussing papers in Lodge, and publishing papers and comments in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (‘AQC’), the Lodge’s Transactions
  • To enlist the support and cooperation of Masonic scholars globally and thereby to maintain research standards.
Quatuor Coronati Lodge #2076 was founded by the following Brothers: Charles Warren, William Harry Rylands, Robert Freke Gould, Rev. Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford, Walter Besant, John Paul Rylands, Maj. Sisson Cooper Pratt, William James Hughan, and George William Speth. They desired to establish a evidence-based standard for historical research and to cultivate an interest in their fellow Masons into researching and presenting their papers to their Lodges. The Lodge was founded on November 28th, 1884, but due to the absence of the Founding Worshipful Master (Charles Warren), who was on a diplomatic mission in Africa, the Lodge was not consecrated until January 12th, 1886. 

The Lodge's name comes from Latin meaning "Four Crowned Ones." They took this name from the Regius Poem which is the first known Masonic text. It consists of 64 written pages in poetic form. The poem begins by evoking Euclid and his invention of geometry in ancient Egypt and then the spreading of the art of geometry in "divers lands." This is followed by fifteen points for the master concerning both moral behavior and the operation of work on a building site. There are then fifteen points for craftsmen which follow a similar pattern. The general consensus on the age of the document dates its writing to between the late 1300s and the middle of the 15th century, and from internal evidence its author appears to have been a West of England clergyman. The manuscript was recorded in various personal inventories as it changed hands until it came into possession of the Royal Library, which was donated to the British Museum in 1757 by King George II to form the nucleus of the present British Library. The significance of the document as relating to Freemasonry was not realized until it was featured in an article on Freemasonry by James Halliwell in 1840. The text of the document states that Freemasonry was brought to England during the reign of King Athelstan from 924 to 939. The manuscript is presently held by the British Library in the Royal Manuscript Collection.

The legend of the Quatuor Coronati occurs during the reign of the Roman Emperor Dioletion. There were four craftsmen, named Claudius, Castorius, Simphorianus, and Nicostratus, who converted to Christianity secretly. Christianity was negatively looked upon by the Romans since the Empreror Nero had blamed the fire that destroyed much of Rome in 64 AD on Christians. The legend goes that Diocletion ordered a statue of Asclepius, god of medicine, to be made and the the Quatuor Coronati refused to do so due to their faith. They were taken before the Tribune, Lampadius, who ordered them stripped and whipped with Scorpions. The Scorpion is also referred to as the Roman Flagrum or Roman Scourge. It is a short whip made of two or three leather ropes tied to a handle. Along each of the leather ropes are knotted with small pieces of metal or bone that quickly remove skin from the victim. After being whipped, the Quatuor Coronati were then placed in leaden coffins and cast into the Tiber River. Nicodemus is said to have recovered the coffins from the river and re-interred them at his house. There are other variations with this, but they all surround four craftsman (sometimes 2 pairs of them) being suppressed and put to death for their Christian faith. They are remembered for their expertise as stone masons and for staying true to their principles. The Roman Catholic Church remembers them as martyrs of the faith and November 8 each year is dedicated to them, as it is said they were killed on that date in 298 AD.

If you are interested in joining, please visit this website: http://qccc.subscribeonline.co.uk/membership

References

1. Aims of the Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Quatuor Coronati Lodge: https://www.quatuorcoronati.com/about-qc-lodge/aims-of-the-lodge/

2. Quator Coronati: Four Crowned Martyrs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/fourcrown.html

3. Quatuor Coronati Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quatuor_Coronati_Lodge

4. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076. (n.d.). Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/quatuor_coronati_lodge_no_2076.htm

5. The Four Crowned Martyrs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/fourcrown1.html 

6. The Roman Scourge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bible History Online: http://www.bible-history.com/past/flagrum.html

Monday, January 2, 2017

Officers of the York Rite College

In the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, the basic unit of organization is the College. The officers of a York Rite College are Governor, Deputy Governor, Chancellor, Primate, Preceptor, Seneschal, Marshal, and Sentinel. The Governor, Deputy Governor, and Chancellor are elected officers while the rest are appointed by the Governor. These officers represent officials present at the assembly called by King Athelstan in 926 AD, this legend which comprises the central myth of the order.

The Governor is the presiding officer of a York Rite College. The origin of this word is found with the Latin word "gubernatorem" meaning "director or ruler", but the word originally translated as "steersman or pilot". Both meanings are applicable to a Governor as the governor is someone elected or appointed to rule or direct a particular institution or society. Historically, governors were representatives of monarchs often in colonial areas or over an institution such as a bank or a prison. Today, a governor is often a public official in the executive branch of a sub-national level of government. The power and authority may vary between individual governors, but in all cases, they act as the chief executive officer.

The second-in-command of a College is the Deputy Governor who presides in the absence of the Governor. Deputy comes from the word the Late Latin word "deputare" meaning "to esteem or consider as." In this way, the Deputy Governor is to be considered as the Governor, particularly in the absence of that officer. Deputy Governors are sometimes referred to as Lieutenant Governors and their duties can often vary. In the United States, these Lieutenant Governors are in the line of succession in the state government, serve as the presiding officer of the upper house of the state legislature, and, in some states that do not have a Secretary of State, the Lieutenant Governor fills those duties. In monarchies, deputy governors and lieutenant governors serve as the representative of the monarch and serve as the executive officer of the kingdom in that region.

The Chancellor is the third-in-command and, in essence, is the chief operations officer of the York Rite College. Chancellor stems from the Late Latin word "cancellarius" translating as "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court." The duties coincide with this etymological root as they traditionally served as secretary to a monarch or noble. In the French monarchies, the Chancellor was the keeper of the seals or presided over the Parliament. Today you see this title used to describe the president of some universities or the person in charge of financial or economic issues.

The Primate is the senior appointed officer and who is comparable to the Chaplain in the Blue Lodge. Primate comes from the Latin word "primas" meaning "of the first rank, chief, or principal" and is a title used to designate high ranking bishops in some Christian churches. It is used in several ways, but the most common use of this title is to refer to a Bishop who has authority over many other Bishops in a region, although today, the title of Primate is merely honorific. This authority is often administratively as Bishops are considered first among equals.

The next officer in the College is the Preceptor who can be seen to resemble the Master of Ceremonies, an officer that is used in some Blue Lodges. The word preceptor originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights.

Next in line is the Seneschal who has duties that are seen with the Sr. Deacon, Jr. Deacon, and Marshal of the Blue Lodge. The etymology of "Seneschal" comes from the Proto-Germanic words sini, meaning senior, and skalk, meaning servant. Seneschal literally means 'senior servant'. Historically in France, the seneschal would be sometime the personal representative of the King charged with dispensing justice and administrative duties. In other kingdoms, seneschals oversaw feasts and domestic ceremonies. They would seem to be close to stewards in this regard. Other duties would include managing the property and finances of the Lord under who they served. Within the Knights Templar, this officer served as the "right-hand man" of the Grand Master and his chief duties surrounded the oversight of much of the administrative operation, acting as an adviser to the Grand Master, and acted as head of the Order in his absence. 

The fourth appointed officer is known as the Marshal and it would be obvious to say that there is a connection with the duties of this officer with that of the officer within the Blue Lodge. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshall comes from Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." The medieval Knights Templar denominated their third-in-command as Marshal was in charge of the troops and advised the Grand Master on all things relative to the war effort.

The final appointed officer of the York Rite College is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is there job to prevent intrusion by enemy or those unauthorized.

References

1. Boudinhon, A. (1911). Primate. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved January 2, 2017 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12423b.htm

2. Chancellor. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Free Dictionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/chancellor 

3. Chancellor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chancellor 

4. Chancellor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=chancellor&allowed_in_frame=0 

5. Deputy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=deputy&allowed_in_frame=0 

6. Governor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=governor 

7. Governor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor 

8. Governor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/governor 

9. Marshal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=marshal&allowed_in_frame=0 

10. Marshal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshal 

11. Marshal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marshal 

12. Preceptor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=preceptor&allowed_in_frame=0 

13. Preceptor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preceptor 

14. Preceptor. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preceptor 

15. Primate. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=primate&allowed_in_frame=0 

16. Primate. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/primate 

17. Primate. (n.d.). Retrieved from Orthodox Wiki: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Primate 

18. Primate (bishop). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primate_(bishop) 

19. Purpose of the York Rite College. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite Sovereign College of North America: http://www.yrscna.org/ 

20. Seneschal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=seneschal&allowed_in_frame=0 

21. Sentinel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sentinel&allowed_in_frame=0 

22. Sentinel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sentinel