Monday, June 7, 2021

Baltimore Convention of 1843

When looking at Freemasonry around the world, most Grand Lodges cover a geographic jurisdiction of an entire nation or several, in some cases. Within the United States, however, each of the States has its own Grand Lodge. Early American Freemasonry came through merchants and military lodges from England, Ireland, and Scotland. Lodges received charters from both the Antient Grand Lodge and Modern Grand Lodge. Some Lodges formed their own Grand Lodges within a State while some Provincial Grand Lodges were formed first then would later establish themselves as their own Grand Lodge, each with their own rituals. As the US expanded westward, Masonic pioneers and degree peddlers expanded as well. Without a centralized national governing body, there was a wide variety of rituals within and among Grand Lodges.

One Brother named Thomas Smith-Webb had written a Freemason's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry in 1797 which standardized much of the ritual, but was accepted by a few jurisdictions. This book was a compendium of William Preston's work as well as his own alterations and additions. Attempts would be made over the years to standardize the Masonic ritual among the US Grand Lodges, but nothing significant would happen until 1843. The first quarter of the 19th century saw rapid growth and expansion, and even a failed attempt to establish a national Grand Lodge, but then the Morgan Affair occurred and a tsunami of anti-Masonry hit the United States.

On March 13th, 1826, William Morgan, a supposed Mason, living in Batavia, NY, signed a contract for a book that was to expose the secrets of Freemasonry; some believe it was out of resentment for his Masonic affiliation being questioned by the Batavian Masons. Prone to drunkenness Morgan bragged about his book and soon everything came to a head in September of that year. He was arrested for theft, but upon making bail was rearrested for failure to pay a debt of $2.68 and upon his release from jail he disappeared by means which were never agreed upon by the "eyewitnesses". Anti-Masons push that he was kidnapped and killed by a band of Masons. Several Masons were arrested and convicted of kidnapping, but there was never any proof that he was killed. All of these circumstances culminated in an uproar of public outrage towards Freemasonry. Regardless of reality, ALL Freemasons were seen as guilty of the murder of William Morgan. Soon anti-Masonic propaganda spread into all avenues of society to include churches and politics which led Thurlow Weed, a NY politician, to form an anti-Masonic movement in February of 1828, gathering discontented opponents of President Andrew Jackson, known to be a Mason, into the Anti-Masonic political party. 

Some methods of the anti-Masons were to demonstrate the rituals, passwords, signs, and grips of all degrees in all of their variations so it became difficult for Lodges to tell who was a Mason and who was a cowan. Some anti-Mason degree peddlers went so far as to confer these degrees upon disreputable people so as to cause further havoc. This exacerbated an already difficult issue as communication between States and Grand Lodges was limited and dues cards were not yet a policy employed.

As a result of the Morgan Affair, many Lodges would surrender their charters or would just go dormant (NY, for example, went from 227 Lodges to 41). Freemasonry would resume labor in the late 1830s, but ran into a serious issue: many Freemasons had demitted out of fear of being harassed, died during dormancy, or had forgotten the ritualistic work which caused new Masons to be poorly instructed. When the Grand Lodge of Alabama met in 1839 the members present voted to request all Grand Lodges to send a delegate to Washington DC for a meeting in March 1842. Ten Grand Lodges were represented, but it decided that more representation was needed and the delegates needed to be one learned in the rituals of all Three Degrees. On May 8, 1843, 16 delegates assembled at the Saint Paul Street Masonic Hall in Baltimore, and all expenses were assumed by the Grand Lodge of Maryland. Of the 23 Grand Lodges that existed at the time, the following Grand Lodges were represented:

  1. Alabama 
  2. Washington DC 
  3. Florida 
  4. Georgia 
  5. Louisiana 
  6. Maryland 
  7. Massachusetts 
  8. Missouri 
  9. Mississippi 
  10. New Hampshire 
  11. North Carolina 
  12. New York 
  13. Ohio 
  14. Rhode Island 
  15. South Carolina 
  16. Virginia

The convention met for 9-days (with exception of Sunday). After setting the agenda of the convention, they divided the delegates into four committees:

  1. On the work and lectures in conferring the degrees
  2. On the funeral service
  3. On the ceremonies of Consecration and Installation
  4. On Masonic Jurisprudence 

The Committee on the work and lectures in conferring the degrees, over the next few days, worked on standardizing the ritual and lecture for the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason; later the degrees would be exemplified. The delegate from New York was a constant dissenting voice and, after the second day of work, resigned from the committee, but stayed as a delegate to the convention. Among the alterations and standardization of the ritual was that they decided to make the Square, the Level, and the Plumb as the “Immoveable Jewels” as opposed to England where the Rough Ashlar, Perfect Ashlar, and the Trestle Board are Immoveable.

It recommended unity throughout the Grand Lodges as it saw the lack of communication and conformity as an evil that had magnified the fallout from the Morgan Affair. There were two ways in which this recommendation could be accomplished: through a national grand lodge or through a regular convention of the Grand Lodges. The Baltimore Convention decided with the latter. The Representative system was established after this thus ensuring some communication was kept between Grand Lodges.

Other recommendations from this convention concerned the issuance of certificates of good standing by the Grand Lodges or what we now know as the Dues Card, suspending Masons for non-payment of dues, and that Lodges transact all business only on the Master Mason degree except in conferring the 1° and 2°. They also recommended that sojourner Masons should be required to pay a portion of the dues of the Lodge they live near which I found to be particularly interesting.

At the conclusion, letters were sent out to all the Grand Lodges with the recommendations and a call for the Freemasons to unite in love, friendship and brotherhood. Generally, the extant Grand Lodges adopted many of the recommendations, but they also modified those suggestions so there is still variations among jurisdictions thought they are superficial in their differences.

As recommended, they attempted to hold another convention in Winchester, VA, in 1846, but only 8 delegates attended so they postponed it until 1847. This failed as well as only 7 delegates were present.

This convention clearly had a profound impact on American Freemasonry as many of the recommendations were adopted and, with one such recommendation, it wasn't until recently that Grand Lodges allowed for business meetings to be conducted in the Entered Apprentice Degree. While the attempts to hold further conventions failed, I see the spirit of the Baltimore Convention in the Conference of Grand Masters of North America which was established in 1928.

I recommend the Masonic Roundtable who did an episode about the Baltimore Convention:


References 

1. Atkinson, S. T. (n.d.). Masonic Ritual In Virginia. Retrieved from PhoenixMasonry: http://phoenixmasonry.org/historical_foundations_of_the_masonic_ritual.htm 

2. Chiles, H. C. (n.d.). Baltimore Convention, 1843. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/masonic_talk/stb/stbs/36-01.htm 

3. Jensen, B. J. (1996, December 2). The Baltimore Convention of 1843. Retrieved from York Rite Research Institute: http://www.thephylaxis.org/pdf/Guardian04ed.pdf 

4. Sigmon, M. (2011, April 9). The Convention that Changed Freemasonry. Retrieved from Wilkerson College Lodge No. 760: http://www.wcl760.com/docs/library/Baltimore%20Convention.pdf 

5. The Baltimore Convention. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/baltimore.html


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Order of Quetzalcoatl

Some years ago, before I joined the Shrine, I was talking to a Brother who was involved with the local Shriner's Temple and we started talking about a group he was calling "Q". I knew about the Royal Order of the Jesters, but, until that point, I had not heard of "Q" or, by its full name, Order of Quetzalcoatl. This order is an invitational body for those Masons who are also Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and whose philanthropy focuses on transportation funds for Shriners hospitals.

The basic organizational unit is known as a Teocalli. "Teocalli" is defined as a God-house or temple that surmounted a terraced pyramid commonly found in Mesoamerica, which is where the legend of this order stems from. Local Teocallis falls under the governance of the Supreme Teocalli, but the Teocallis are given a lot of autonomy. There are Teocalli in United States, Canada, Mexico, and Panama. Members of this order are known as "Artisans." There are two degrees conferred by this order: Artisan and Master Artisan. 

Teocalli is led by the following officers:

Camaxtli (presiding officer)

Chimalma (similar to a VP)

Huemac (similar to a VP)

Titlauacan (similar to a VP)

Tlacuilo (Secretary)

Calpixque (Treasurer)

Cuatemoc (Inner Guard and Guide)

Netzahualcoyotl (Outer Guard)

High Priest or Teopixqui (Chaplain)

Teocallis can come together and form regional associations which are presided over by a Chief.

If Nobles are interested in forming a new Teocalli, they need at least 15 Shriners that reside in the same jurisdiction as their Shriners Temple, are in good standing, and a Teocallis doesn't already exist in that jurisdiction. Then they would contact the Supreme Teocalli and petition for dispensation.

The Order of Quetzalcoatl was founded on March 14, 1945, by Arthur J. Elian in Mexico City. He was a scholar of ancient Mesoamerican history and of Mexican lore. He was also a very involved Mason having been elected as Grand Master of the Muy Respectable Gran Logia Valle de Mexico as well as being recognized as Emeritus Registrar and 33° of the Scottish Rite of Mexico, and Recorder Emeritus of Anezah Temple. Not much is known of the formative years of the order, but the order spread after Shriners from Arizona and California had made trips to Mexico City and were initiated into it. They carried it back to the US where it spread over the years and eventually led to the formation of the Supreme Teocalli.

This order takes its name from an ancient Mesoamerican god by the same name. Quetzalcoatl is known as the Plumed Serpent and his name comes from the Nahuatl words "quetzalli" meaning "precious feather" and "coatl" meaning "serpent". Quetzalcoatl was a storm god who was considered the creator of the world and mankind, and is often associated with the rain god, Tláloc. He was considered patron and god of learning, science, agriculture, crafts, and the arts. In Aztec mythology, he was the brother of Tezcatlipoca (god of night and sorcery), Huitzilopochtli (god of war, the sun, and human sacrifice), and Xipe Totec (god of spring and vegetation). Other legends state that he was a prophet and leader of a group of men known as the Toltecs (craftsman or builders) who was then deified after he had attained such enlightenment that merited his ascension.

Once a Noble accepts an invitation into the order, he is obligated as a Coate or tribesman. Within one year of that happening, he must receive the Artisan degree. Within two years of becoming an Artisan, one must obtain the Master Artisan degree during the Feast of Fire (their annual business meeting). It also seems like one can attain Master Artisan by going on a pilgrimage to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan (north of Mexico City) or Chichen Itza (Cancun).


References

Brief History of the Name Quetzalcoatl and the Toltec Ancestry of the Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Q: https://www.supremeq.com/menu_bar/history.pdf 

Cartwright, M. (n.d.). Quetzalcoatl. Retrieved from Mukilteo Teocalli Number 111: http://teocalli111.org/page6.htm 

Order of Quetzalcoatl. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Quetzalcoatl

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Wyoming Rosicrucianism

Another long weekend in the books: Along with Jeremy, I made my 542-mile trek to central Wyoming to attend some meetings. We attended Equality College No.92 of the York Rite Sovereign College and watched them put on the Knight of York. Later, we attended the annual collation dinner of Wyoming College SRICF and then proceeded back to the Lodge where we conferred the V°.

Sunday morning, Wyoming College conferred the I°, II°, and III°. The College then held its annual election of officers, and they were duly installed by the Chief Adept of Wyoming. Congratulations to all the new Fratres and the newly installed officers of the College. I just got home after 9+ hours of driving.



Saturday, April 24, 2021

Idaho SRICF and AMD

It's been over a year since Idaho College SRICF was able to meet and it felt great to be back amongst my Fratres. Friday night I was hosted by the Secretary and the fellowship was great as usual. Saturday morning, we conferred the II° and IV° on worthy Fratres as well as balloted on some proposals for membership. Rosicrucianism is alive and well in Idaho.

Saturday afternoon I presided over Star Garnet Council No.560 of the Allied Masonic Degrees. We initiated one candidate, the Senior Warden gave an educational presentation to the Council, and we presented the Red Branch of Eri to those we elected to it last year. In our next meeting, we are planning to confer the grade of Ostiartii or Doorkeeper of the Royal Order of the Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord.

While I felt a bit rusty, it was good to get back into the swing of things.



Monday, April 19, 2021

Grand York Rite 2021

Well, I finally got home after a long weekend at the Grand York Rite of Idaho in Lewiston. Our York Rite jurisdiction was one of the first ones to meet in person. Attendance was slightly down, but all constituent bodies were present.

Thursday started with the Order of the Silver Trowel over which I presided. Normally the Deputy Grand Master presides over the Council, but due to his health he couldn't attend and I stepped in since I didn't preside last year as we met virtually. Following that was the annual meeting of Syringa Order No.121 of the Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill where I was appointed Honorable Grand Adjutant for the ensuing year. After lunch, the Idaho Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor met where I was elected as Prelate for the next year. Then it was time to preside over Idaho Priory No.13 of Knights of the York Cross of Honor. I had the pleasure of dubbing 4 new Knights before passing off the reigns to my successor. I ended Thursday with the Knight Commander of the Temple Dinner where this honor was conferred upon a very deserving Sir Knight.

Friday morning started with the Joint Session of the Grand York Rite of Idaho which is presided over by the three heads. We introduced several guests including the Most Puissant General Grand Master of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International, the Most Worthy Grand Master of Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, the Most Eminent Grand Preceptor of the Grand College of America for the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho. During this session, several awards were presented: I was awarded both the Ephraim A. Kirby Award from the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International and the Order of the Secret Vault from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International. With Friday afternoon came the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho and I got to perform my official duties as Deputy General Grand High Priest for the Northwest Region. One of the best men and Masons I know was elected as Most Excellent Grand High Priest and I was honored to serve as the Installing Grand Captain of the Host (similar to the Marshal's station). The rest of the night was dedicated to remembering our fallen Companions and Sir Knights, hosting a dinner to raise funds for the Holy Land Pilgrimage, and then the annual meeting for Tri-Valley College No.178 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America.

Saturday began with the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho where I was elected as the Eminent Grand Captain General. With the afternoon, came the time for me to preside over the 88th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. It was a smooth meeting and I had the pleasure of making the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho a Cryptic Mason at sight; the acting-Grand High Priest had made him a Royal Arch Mason after he had turned in a petition to join the York Rite. We finished the day with the Grand Banquet where we announced the recipients of the various awards given out by the York Rite.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Freemasonry and Polity

I am currently working on a research paper looking at whether there is a causal relationship between a nation's polity (freedom) score, the establishment of Freemasonry, and the growth, or decline, of Masonic membership within that nation. 

I am currently in the stage of collecting data to see what type of equations are available. I'd like to thank my former Professors at Boise State University for assisting me in finding potential data sources.

In addition to the quantitative analysis, I'll be doing case studies on Brazil, Russia, India, and China. I'm looking at these countries because of their unique histories, the dramatic changes in their polity scores, and the history of Freemasonry within each country.

I do not know when this paper will be completed, but it should be within the year. I won't post the entire paper here as it will be published in a magazine or journal, but I will publish the Introduction and Conclusion here.



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Master's Craft

Any Mason involved with ordering Masonic regalia, jewelry, pins, coins, and so on knows that there are a lot of sites and vendors out there. While there are many worthy Brothers running them, I want to highlight one and that is The Master's Craft ran by Bro. John Bridegroom out of Indiana. From the website:

The Masters Craft creates unique Masonic items for the Fraternity at large, when quality, artistry and longevity are desired. The Masters Craft is owned and operated by W. Bro. John Bridegroom, Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of Indiana. Being deeply impressed by the artistry of items in the Masonic Fraternity’s history, we desire to continue that tradition in The Masters Craft. With no intention of being the average retail store, or supplying the mundane artifacts of regular Masonic operations, the focus has been placed more on projects that require a special touch, and an approach that fuses the visual standard of today with the depth and power of the designs of our past. We hope you will our work to be fitting representations of the honors they represent!

Due to the amount of Masonic organizations that I am in, I am in possession of a lot of Masonic jewelry and pins...a lot. Quality isn't always the best and sometimes Masonic groups don't always purchase items of the best quality. When I started attending Masonic Week I was introduced to The Master's Craft and Bro. John Bridegroom. John is a very dedicated Brother and has an impressive Masonic curriculum vitae which gives him an insight into the world of Masonic regalia and jewelry. A few years ago, I purchased some Allied Masonic Degree jewels from him and compared them to some others I bought from another vendor. The first thing I noticed was the difference in quality and durability. From that experience, I've started purchasing jewels and pins from him for a few other groups that I'm involved with to include the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.

He has jewels, pins, and coins for the Blue Lodge, Allied Masonic Degrees, Royal Arch, Mark Masonry, Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, Red Cross of Constantine, the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, Royal Order of Jesters, the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, York Rite College, and can even do custom jobs. I encourage all Masons to check out this website if you are interested in quality.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat

Within the Apostolic Johannite Church, today is the Feast Day of Dr. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat who was an ordained priest, a medical doctor, worked as the court doctor of Napoleon I, was a recipient of the French Legion of Honor, discovered the Levitikon, restored the Knights Templar under the name of l'Ordre du Temple, and founded the Johannite Church.

Born on May 29, 1773, in Cordes-sur-Ciel, France, Bernard was the son of a well-known surgeon. Cordes-sur-Ciel is 25-km northwest of Albi, France, which was an epicenter for the Cathars and from which the Albigensian Crusade derived its name.

He studied at a diocesan seminary in Cahors and was ordained a priest with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1794, he left the priesthood and studied medicine in Montpellier and Caen and received his medical degree on April 12, 1798. That same year he moved to Paris and continued to study medicine and received another degree on September 16, 1803.

It was strange that he move there, but speaks to his character as most were fleeing Paris. It was in Paris that he met Jacque Phillipe Ledru, head of the French National Academy of Medicine and a fellow Mason. Fabré-Palaprat had joined the Masons in Paris and was a member of the Chevaliers de la Croix under the Grand Orient of France (when it was still recognized). They were friends and Brothers, and Ledru would go on to share something that would change Fabré-Palaprat's life.

On November 4, 1804, Fabré-Palaprat brought back to public light the Order of the Temple or Knights Templar. The medieval Knights Templar had been suppressed back in October 1307, but according to the Larmenius Charter or "Charter of Transmission," the Templars continued underground. The Larmenius Charter was named after Johannes Marcus Larmenius who was appointed to be the Grand Master after the death of Jacques DeMolay. 

From that time forward, Grand Masters had appointed their successors down the line until Timoleon de Cossé, Duke of Brissac. The French Revolution of 1789 caused massive social upheaval that imprisoned many nobles and aristocrats to include the Duke. In 1792, many Revolutionaries in Paris believed that the political prisoners were planning a counterrevolutionary plot and so over a series of days bands of prisoners, to include the Duke of Bissac, were executed by the authority of "popular tribunals" (mob rule) which became known as the First Terror of the French Revolution or September Massacres.

It was a custom that after one's death in French culture for friends and employees to purchase properties and furnishings of the deceased to help liquidate estates or to help the widow with funds. Such was the case here when Jacque Phillipe Ledru, the Duke's former physician, purchased some of the Duke's furniture that just happens to contain the Larmenius Charter. Through a series of events, Ledru is offered to be Grand Master, but turns it down and the order falls under the regency of Claude-Mathieu Radix de Chevillon until Fabré-Palaprat's election as Grand Master in 1804. It should be noted that many in the Chevaliers de la Croix were also members of the l'Ordre du Temple.

This Templar order even received patronage and protection from Napoleon I. In 1808, at the anniversary of the martyrdom of Jacques DeMolay, the Knights Templar held a mass for him at the Church of St. Paul in Paris. The Templars then led a public procession through the streets of Paris to which Napoleon loaned a detachment of soldiers.

It was through the medieval Knights Templar that the Johannite tradition was transmitted through the centuries and in 1812, Fabré-Palaprat formed the Johannite Church called "l’Église Johannite des Chretiens Primitifs" and served as its Sovereign Pontiff This church was a predecessor to the Apostolic Johannite Church, to which I am a member.

Fabré-Palaprat was awarded the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor for assisting in the defense of Paris in 1814 when a coalition of forces sought to depose Emperor Napoleon attacked Paris. He also received the July Medal for his actions during the July Revolution of 1830.

In 1831, he published the Levitikon, a Gnostic version of the Gospel of John, which he is said to have found in a bookstore in 1814.

Dr. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat died on February 18, 1838, and the regency passed to Sir Sidney Smith before going to Joséphin Péladan, a famous occultist, to some the "godfather of the French Rosicrucian societies" in his day, and a leader of the Ordre de la Rose-Croix, du Temple et du Graal (Order of the Rose-Cross, the Temple and the Grail). Dr. Fabré-Palaprat was a man of science, faith, and the study of the occult. He left behind an amazing legacy of Templar and Johannite revival and kicking off the era of Gnostic Restoration. There is so much of his life and work that I didn't cover, but to cover everything would take more time than I have available.

Here is a video by Father Donald Donato on the good Doctor:

References

1. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard-Raymond_Fabr%C3%A9-Palaprat

2. Donato, D. (2015, May 15). The Sovereign Pontiff. Retrieved from Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/the-sovereign-pontiff/

3. Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/frequently-asked-questions/

4. Historical and Mythological Touchstones. (n.d.). Retrieved from Order of the Temple and Saint John: https://otsj.org/history-myth/

5. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/history/

6. September Massacres. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/September-Massacres

7. Silvia, A. (2013). Sanctuary of the Sacred Flame.