Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Going Dark

Well, folks, my Summer break was a short as I took some Summer college courses. I enjoyed my break, but now it's time for my unit's Annual Training and I will be out in the field til the last half of August. I may get in a few articles this month, but they will be few and far between until after the middle of the month.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Zabud

Like Adoniram, Zabud is an obscure character in Freemasonry and is one not seen in the Symbolic or Blue Lodge. Zabud is referenced in 1st Kings and, in Freemasonry, we are introduced to him in the Select Master degree of the American York Rite.

From the Bible, specifically 1 Kings 4:5, we learn that Zabud was the son of Nathan, the Prophet, and was said to be an officer of the court, and a friend of King Solomon. Many speculate that through the love that Solomon had for Nathan that he honored Zabud with his friendship and place in his court. It is also most likely they were about the same age and would have grown up together at the court of King David.

The degree of Select Master takes reference from the Secret Vault discovered in the Royal Arch degree and concerns itself with how it was created. The Secret Vault was created by the three Grand Masters, with a select group of Masons, and connects the events and myths surrounding the loss and hope of the future discovery of the Master's Word through the deposition of the Grand Master's secrets. It is during this degree that the candidate representing Zabud stumbles upon the Secret Vault and is taken prisoner until he can prove he meant no offense by his actions and becomes one of the Select Masters in place of one who proved to be unworthy. The lessons of this degree are devotion, zeal, and overlooking the failings of those who through ignorance or curiosity may often overstep the bounds of propriety.

References

1. Holy Bible (KJV), 1 Kings 4:5

2. Mackey, Albert G. "Zabud." Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and it's Kindred Sciences. n.d. http://www.masonicdictionary.com/zabud.html.

3. Mackey, Albert G. "The Cryptic Rite." Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and it's Kindred Sciences. n.d. http://www.masonicdictionary.com/cryptic.html.

4. "What is Cryptic Masonry?" The Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of the State of New York. May 2010. http://www.nycryptic.org/education/what_is_cryptic_masonry.pdf.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad

Throughout the history of Freemasonry there have been gatherings and events that have had a large impact on the fraternity in general, specific Orders within the Fraternity, or due to the lack of documentation has lead the theories abound. The history of Freemasonry is a complex topic, not always because of one's ability or inability to comprehend the subject, but often due to the lack of recorded evidence to support or reject a hypothesis. When faced with incomplete information one may let their imagination wonder which can sometimes lead to far-fetched and exaggerated speculations. One such event that many Masons and anti-Masons have theorized about is the 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad; Albert Mackey refers to this Congress as "the most important Masonic Congress of the eighteenth century". To the Masons, this meeting marks the impending doom of Rite of Strict Observance and the rise of the Rectified Scottish Rite. To the anti-Mason and conspiracy theorists, this is the meeting where the Bavarian Illuminati is said to have infiltrated and taken over Freemasonry to enhance their nefarious agenda for global domination.

To discuss this matter we must stop for a moment and first discuss the early history of the Rite of Strict Observance.

The Legend of Pierre d'Audmont

According to Stephen Dafoe, Past Grand Historian of the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada, the legend of Pierre d’Audmont, a Templar continuation myth, is said to be the brainchild of the Rite of Strict Observance, which was largely promoted by Baron Karl Gotthelf von Hund, or more commonly referred to as Baron von Hund, in Germany between 1751 and 1754. The legend says that Pierre d’Aumont, the Preceptor of Auvergne, with a number of Knights Templar fled to Scotland disguised as Operative Masons. On arrival they created a new order to preserve the traditions of the soon to be disbanded Knights Templar. This new order they named Franc Maçons. This order would later be known as Free Masons when they traveled to England.

Truth is that the Preceptor of Auvergne was not Pierre d’Audmont, but rather Imbert Blanke who did indeed flee to England after dodging the arrests of 13 October 1307. He was there arrested and later played a role in defending his Brethren in the courts. Many Masonic scholars such as Stephen Dafoe point out the absurdity of this legend, particularly the etymology of the name of Freemason. Albert Mackey believes that it was through Ramsey’s Oration that this legend of Templar continuation was able to take hold, but dismisses it as rubbish having no “particle of historical evidence”. Although he does admit that this legend has had a large influence on the modern Masonic organization particularly with the incorporation of Templar Orders.

The Rite of Strict Observance

In the 1740s a few German Lodges started giving their Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts the names of French Knights. Most of these Lodges were in Dresden, but Baron von Hund founded one of these Lodges on his estates East of Dresden around 1751. It was from the close ties of these Lodges that the Rite of Strict Observance was created.

It was said that the Rite originated with C.G. Marschall von Bieberstein, who had founded two of the Lodges in Germany; one in Dresden and one in Naumber called “Lodge of the Three Hammers”. Von Hund is said to have taken over after von Bieberstein died in 1750. Under von Hund’s watch, the Rites degrees consisted of: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Master Mason, Scottish Master, Novice, and Knights Templar. The Scottish Master degree concerned itself with the preservation of the lost word of Freemasonry which had been cut on a plate of pure metal, placed in a secure location, and centuries later discovered. This was not an exclusive belief as the Ecossais degrees used this, which had sprung up after Ramsey’s Oration.

One of the strangest aspects of the Rite of Strict Observance was that the adherence had to swear an oath to blindly follow the directives of "Unknown Superiors" who ruled the order. This invisible leader was said to have possibly been Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender. This was the same man whom Ramsey had tried to tutor some year prior. There is a lack of evidence that supports this idea, but nonetheless the invisible rulers are said to have communicated through Baron von Hund.

The 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad

Although it was one of the more notable of meetings, the meeting held in Wilhelmsbad comes as a result of several meetings held over the years in Jena, Altenburg, Kohlo, Brunswick, and Wolfenbuttel.

The first 2 conventions were held in Jena, Scotland, where a man referred to as Johnson was said to have been invested with authority and was acting on behalf of the "Unknown Superiors" in Scotland attempted to convince those present to invest him with unprecedented authority. The first meeting convened on the October 25th, 1764, for the purpose of convincing the Lodges under the Strict Observance system to recognize Johnson in the officer of Superior. At the second meeting held in 1765, Baron von Hund was invited to attend who had supported Johnson, but, upon discovery that he was a fraud, had him arrested and jailed where he died on May 13th, 1775. The third convention was held in Altenburg, near Jena, in 1768 where Baron von Hund was proclaimed as the Grand Master of all the Strict Observance Lodges.

A meeting was convened in Kohlo in 1772 which called for by some Lodges of the system of Strict Observance, with the object of opposing a new and competing rite established by Johann Wilhelm von ZinnendorffAt this meeting the Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick was elected Grand Master of Strict Observance Lodges. This meeting also concerned with formalizing an alliance with the Clerici Ordinis Templarii, or Clerical Templars, which had been founded by Jean Auguste Starck

The failure of this alliance and the lack of Cleric's unwillingness to share some of their supposed mystic knowledge lead to the Convention at Brunswick which started on May 23rd, 1775, and even though it last over a month, no official decision was ever made. The breakdown between the Strict Observance and the Clerical Templars laid the grounds for another impostor to appear by the name of Gugumos. He first appeared at the Brunswick convention and dropped hints that he possessed special knowledge. Eventually this fraud would be exposed and would flee the country.


The Grand Master, Duke Ferdinand, would call for another meeting that convened on July 15th, 1778, in Wolfenbuttel. Like some of the past meetings, did not clarify much by the end. Since they could not come to any definitive conclusion as to the mysterious origins of Freemasonry, the assemblage appealed to all Masonic bodies and called for a future meeting in Wilhelmsbad.

The Congress of Wilhelmsbad took place near the city of Hanau in Hesse-Cassel. It was presided over by Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, who was head of the Rite of Strict Observance and opened the meeting on July 16th, 1782. It was attended by Masons from several European countries and there were held 30 Sessions. The goals of this convention were to discuss the general reformation of Freemasonry, the origin of the different systems, rites, and doctrines that had formed, and to solve the question as to whether or not Freemasonry is a modern society or derived from something far more ancient. All these questions, submitted to the assembly during its thirty meetings, were unanswered. What it did succeed in was exposing a number of fraudulent systems that had formed and reforming, some say "de-Templarized", the Rite of Strict Observance which would later fade and a new system known as the Rectified Scottish Rite would emerge, a system still in existence today.

Illuminati Takeover?

According to anti-Masons and conspiracy theorists alike, this Convention is where the Illuminati integrated and took-over the Masonic fraternity even though they provide no citation or documentation, but rely on speculation. The main fact they focus upon is the fact that Adolph Freiherr Knigge and Franz Dietrich von Dittfurth, members of the Bavarian Illuminati, were in attendance at the Wilhelmsbad meeting and some speculate that the convention was held in Meyer Amschel Rothschild's castle; the Rothschild's are the target of many conspiracy theories.  Other sources suggest that the meeting took place on property owned by William IX, ruler of the Hanau principality, although William was friends with the Rothschild family and had a close relationship. Many anti-Masons state that what occurred at these meetings will never be known due to oaths taken, but in the same breath make many bold statements as to what they think did happen such as that it was the decisions of the Illuminati-controlled Masons to kill Emperor Leopold of Austria and Gustavus II of Sweden. They also theorize that the "Unknown Superiors" were Jesuits, but no evidence exists that demonstrates the "Unknown Superiors" ever existed let alone contacted any of the known leaders of the Rite of Strict Observance.

According to some theories, Adam Weishaupt, leader of the Bavarian Illuminati, via his representative Knigge, enticed the assembly with promises of secrets that the Illuminati possessed and that people adopted their degree system. They believe that one such convert was Duke Ferdinand and that through the help of such men like Jean-Baptist Willermoz, founder of the Rectified Scottish Rite, and his followers brought about a large conversion to "Illuminism", which of course we know that from this convention would lead to the rise of the Rectified Scottish Rite, or Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte/Beneficent Knights of the Holy City. And holding true to the common disposition of the anti-Mason, they say this was the time when Jews were allowed to the Lodges and further lead Freemasonry as a part of so-called "New World Order" since they are not well-known for their tolerance of Jews or other non-Christian religions.

This convention didn't embrace the Illuminati as that was not the purpose or intent of this assembly, but a few are said to have joined the Illuminati. Knigge would leave the Illuminati just 2-years after the meeting in Wilhelmsbad; some speculate that his failures at Wilhelmsbad, as well as disagreements over the direction of the Order, led to degradation in the relationship between Knigge and Weishaupt. It is also curious to note that during Knigge's final years he wrote against Weishaupt and the Illuminati, but never speaks of any infiltration into Freemasonry. For many anti-Masons though this is ignored and rather they would continue to make wild exaggerations and accusations limited only by their own imagination and not based on recorded fact (something they admit themselves).

In the end and with actual facts, this convention was important as it was a point when many of the now defunct and dead rites were seen as fraudulent and many of the Templar continuation or perpetuation myths were rejected. This is also when the fate of the declining Rite of Strict Observance was decided and the Rectified Scottish Rite would emerge, which Willermoz combined aspects of the Strict Observance and the Elus-Cohen Order to preserve aspects important to Willermoz and his followers. It also shows that less than 50-years after the famous Oration of Andrew Michael Ramsay, where stated that Freemasonry was descended from Knights of St. John, many chivalric orders had risen and died away or were rejected as most were seen as a Ponzi scheme. Had the Rite of Strict Observance survived, the anti-Mason, in my view, would have more credence in their accusation of Illuminati infiltration, but alas the Strict Observance and its "unknown superiors" were rejected. With the limited information that is indicative of 18th century Masonry record keeping, it is not surprising to see theories that are formed based solely on speculation and not fact, whether by Masons or otherwise.

References

1. Conress of Wilhelmsbad. (n.d.). Retrieved from Metapedia: http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Congress_of_Wilhelmsbad 

2. Mackey, A. G. (n.d.). Wilhelmsbad, Congress of. Retrieved from An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/mackeys_encyclopedia/w.htm 

3. Melanson, T. (2008, November 08). Illuminati Sightseeing: Masonic Congress of Wilhelmsbad. Retrieved from Bavarian Illuminati: http://www.bavarian-illuminati.info/tag/wilhelmsbad/ 

4. Nesta H. Webster’s "Secret Societies". (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/webster_n.html 

5. Our History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Orden Illuminati: http://www.ordeniluminati.net/english/historia.html 

6. Rebold, E. (1872). A General History of Freemasonry. Cincinnati: American Masonic Publishing Association. 

7. Samuelson, E. A. (n.d.). The 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad. Retrieved from Hermanubis Martinista: http://www.hermanubis.com.br/Artigos/EN/AAREN001The1782CongressofWilhelmsbad.htm 

8. The Rite of Strict Observance. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/strict_observance.html 

9. William I. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_I,_Elector_of_Hesse

10. Brennan, J. F., & Mackey, A. G. (1859). American Freemason's Magazine (Vol. 4). New York.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone stays cool and enjoys their 4th of July. I am going to my parent's to hang out with my family.

Happy Independence Day everyone!!



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ingress

Well, for the last 2-months I've been playing a game called Ingress. It's pretty addicting and a lot of fun, but it also requires that you walk around and not just a game where you sit on your backside. Ingress is a near-real-time augmented reality massive multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs for Android devices and is played globally.

The game has a complex back-story which Google is revealing in segments. The primary goal of the game is defend the takeover of the human race by an unknown “Shaper” force or, depending on your perspective, to assist in an “Enlightenment” of mankind through an alliance with the Shapers. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units controlled by each Faction.


This is accomplished by aligning with either the Resistance or the Enlightened faction and by creating “Control Fields” over geographic areas. Control Fields are established by claiming Portals and then linking those Portals together to form Fields. More powerful Portals can link over longer distances (up to hundreds of kilometers).  The link range of a Portal is determined by the power of the attached Resonators. Portal Keys are needed to form links. When three Portals are linked to form a triangle, a Control Field is established over the region. It will be rendered on the Scanner as a hazy blue or green field over the area. The number of Mind Units claimed is related to the population density of the area covered. Cities yield more Mind Units than rural areas.

The backstory of the game is as follows:
Earth has been seeded with “Exotic Matter” (XM) by the Shapers, mysterious extraterrestrials who are neither described nor seen. The in-universe motivation for the Enlightened faction is their belief that the Shapers are working toward a powerful enlightenment which will uplift all mankind. The Resistance believes that it is protecting humanity from Shaper ingression. The factions have been, however, occasionally observed to ignore the back-story and to co-operate for the sake of real-life gameplay and game balance, for example by establishing neutral zones and rules of engagement. 
A player using the mobile app (Droid phones only) is presented with a map representing the area nearby. The map has a black background; streets and buildings are represented in grey, but not named. Visible on the map are portals, Exotic Matter (XM), links, control fields, portal keys, and items that have been dropped from a player's inventory. Players must be physically near objects on the map to interact with them. The mobile client represents the player as a small arrow in the center of a 40-meter circle which represents the perimeter within which direct interaction is possible.

The makers of the game have seeded the earth with a large number of “Portals”, visible to those using the game software. They are colored green, blue, or grey, depending on whether they are controlled by the Enlightened, the Resistance, or Neutral (controlled by neither faction at that point in time). A portal with no resonators is unclaimed; to claim a portal for a faction, a player deploys a resonator on it. Each portal may be equipped with up to eight resonators and four modifications ("mods").

Portals are typically associated with landmarks such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, and notable buildings. Players may submit requests for the creation of new portals, and the number of portals has increased steadily over the lifetime of the game.

A portal may be equipped with up to eight resonators, all from the same faction; that faction owns the portal. Resonators have levels, ranging from L1 to at least L8. A player can deploy resonators only up to the player's own level, and there are rules about how many of each level they can deploy. A portal also has a level, which is the sum of its resonators' levels divided by the number of slots (8), rounded down to the nearest integer unless the average is less than 1 in which case it would be rounded up to L1. Resonators, when deployed, are fully charged. The charge level decays spontaneously over time at the rate of approximately 15% per day; when it reaches zero, the resonator is destroyed. Players may recharge resonators. This may also be done remotely, if the player is in possession of the respective portal's key. 

A portal may be equipped with up to four mods. As of June 2013, there are six types of modification available: Shields, Force Amplifiers, Link Amplifiers, Multi-hack, Heat sinks, and Turret mods.

Many interactions with portals consume XM; the game software provides a continuous display of the player’s XM reserves (a bar along the top of the phone screen). XM is scattered across the map of the world, represented on the player's map by small, bright, glowing, drifting blobs. If a player’s XM reserves are not full, any XM that comes within the player’s perimeter of interaction is automatically sucked in and added to the reserves. XM is distributed sparsely on the map, except near portals, where clusters of new XM regularly appear. XM may also be replenished (as of April 2013) by using Power Cubes or “recycling” unwanted inventory items. Items 

A player’s inventory may include Resonators, XMP Bursters, Mods, Portal Keys, Portal Shields, Media, Power Cubes, and refactoring "viruses." These can be obtained primarily by “hacking” portals, an operation provided by the mobile client when the portal is within the interaction perimeter. This consumes XM, takes a few seconds to complete, and yields either a variable number of items or none at all. A player may hack portals belonging to either faction. There are limits on how frequently a player may hack a portal (5-minutes between hacking the same portal).

To attack a portal owned by the opposing faction, a player fires an XMP Burster using the mobile client. XMP Bursters have levels; a player may fire XMP Bursters up to his or her own level. The success of the attack depends on the relative levels of the XMP Burster and the resonators, whether or not the portal is equipped with shields, and the physical location of the attacker relative to the resonators. Successful attacks reduce the charge levels of the resonators; when a resonator is reduced to zero, it is destroyed. When all eight resonators are destroyed, the portal turns grey, whereupon the attacker may claim it for their faction by deploying, at a minimum, a single resonator. A portal which is under attack may in turn attack the attacking player; this depletes the player’s XM reserves. A player may defend a portal that is under attack by recharging resonators and deploying replacements for destroyed resonators. Recharging a portal may be done using the mobile client for any portal for which the player has a key, even if the player is not near the portal at the time.

A player within the interaction range of a portal may link it to another portal, if the player has a portal key for the destination, if the link would not intersect an existing link, and if the other portal is within the first portal’s linking range, which in turn depends on its level. The portal that the player is the nearest is called the origin portal, while the portal being linked to is called the destination portal. Only a portal key for the destination portal is needed, which is consumed when a link is created. When three portals are linked in a triangle, a Control Field is created. The space occupied by the field is claimed for the player’s faction, which is rewarded with a number of Mind Units dependent on the population density and size.



Players begin at Level 1 and progress through levels by accumulating Action Points (AP); the highest known level is L8. Players receive AP for hacking opposing portals, destroying resonators, deploying and upgrading resonators (with extra points for claiming a portal with the first resonator, and completing its complement with the eighth), breaking links, making links, and breaking and creating control fields.

I love playing this game as it gets you out and about. I play on the Enlightened side and there is a group of us from Lodge who play this. Of course one of the portals in my town in the Masonic Temple. Right now this game is still in Beta Testing, but you can go to www.ingress.com and request an invite or if you know someone have them send you an invite. In addition to needing a Droid system you must use a GMail account to play the game.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I Am Freemasonry

By Ray V. Denslow


I was born in antiquity, in the ancient days when men first dreamed of God. 
I have been tried through the ages, and found true. 
The crossroads of the world bear the imprint of my feet, and the cathedrals of all nations mark the skill of my hands. 
I strive for beauty and for symmetry. 

In my heart is wisdom and strength and courage for those who ask. 
Upon my alters is the Book of Holy Writ, and my prayers are to the One Omnipotent God, my sons work and pray together, without rank or discord, in the public mart and in the inner chamber. 
By signs and symbols I teach the lessons of life and of death and the relationship of man with God and of man with man. 
My arms are widespread to receive those of lawful age and good report who seek me of their own free will. 
I accept them and teach them to use my tools in the building of men, and thereafter, find direction in their own quest for perfection so much desired and so difficult to attain. 
I lift up the fallen and shelter the sick. I hark to the orphans' cry, the widows tears, the pain of the old and destitute. 
I am not church, nor party, nor school, yet my sons bear a full share of responsibility to God, to country, to neighbor and themselves. 
They are freemen, tenacious of their liberties and alert to lurking danger. 
At the end I commit them as each one undertakes the journey beyond the vale into the glory of everlasting life. 
I ponder the sand within the glass and think how small is a single life in the eternal universe. 
Always have I taught immortaility, and even as I raise men from darkness into light, I am a way of life. 
I Am Freemasonry. 
"The End" but actually, just the beginning.