Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review

Well, this year has been a busy one. I served as Eminent Commander for my Commandery of Knights Templar and Worthy Patron of my Eastern Star Chapter. March was a very busy time as I was initiated in the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon and the Knight Masons in Washington; I also received the appendant orders of the Red Cross of Constantine. The rest of the Spring was school and normal Masonic functions as it was through the Summer and into the Fall. In November I was honored when the Brothers elected me as Worshipful Master of my Lodge and now that I have been installed, I look forward to my year in the East for a second term in this Lodge. I was also initiated into the Royal Order of Scotland in November. It definitely has been a busy year for traveling as I drove around 6,000-miles to attend meetings...and my driving will only increase this next year, but it's worth it.

I have finished yet another year of school, and after working my academic adviser, I am projecting to graduate the Fall of 2014. This last semester I earned a 3.46-GPA which definitely was trying as I took a foreign language course. The Winter Break has been nice and relaxing so far.

Military wise, I changed Platoons and have served them in any way I can. I am also coming to the end of my military career, but that is something to be discussed later.

I look forward to the upcoming year and the changes it will bring my life. Now it's time to go over to a New Year's Eve Party and ring in the New Year with some good friends.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Saint John the Evangelist's Day

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist and in Masonry, we strive to educate ourselves, so let us look at this historical figure. He is also known as the Beloved Disciple or John of Patmos. Saint John, son of Zebedee and Salome, was born in Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee. He is brother to James the Greater, another disciple of Christ. Salome is said to be the younger sister of Mary, the mother of Christ, and thus John and James were the cousins of Christ.

He was a fisherman who worked on the 
Lake of Genesareth, or Sea of Galilee, and while mending nets he met Christ during the first year of His ministry and would become a very faithful disciple of the Savior. He is credited with writing the Fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the Book of Revelations. There is some uncertainty as to whether it was all one person who authored these books and some believe that Saint John may have hired scribes to assist him.

He was the only one of the Twelve who did forsake him during his Crucifixion, but was present at the foot of the Cross as well as observing the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. For the love he showed the Blessed Redeemer, he was entrusted to care for Mary after the Ascension of Christ.

After Christ's Ascension, he moved around Asia Minor establishing many churches. Much of his time he was in Jerusalem and then in Ephesus, with some time exiled on Patmos, a Grecian island in the Aegean Sea near Turkey. It is believed that he wrote Revelations during his exile on this island.

Tradition states he was brought to Rome by order of the Emperor, Dometian, who attempted to kill him by throwing him into a cauldron of boiling oil at the Porta Latina (Latin Gate), but came forth uninjured and was banished to the island of Patmos for a year. After the assassination of Dometian, he was allowed to return to Ephesus where he lived to be 94-years old, dying around 100 AD (the 3rd year of Emperor Trajan). Traditions say that in his final years he could no longer walk so he had to be carried by his followers to the church, where he would leave with the words, "Little children, love one another." Over his tomb was erected a church, but after the rise of Islam, it was converted into a mosque.

Saint John the Evangelist is considered the Patron Saint of many things such as against poison, art dealers, authors, bookbinders, booksellers, burns, editors, engravers, painters, paper-makers, printers, publishers, theologians, typesetters, writers, Asia Minor, and many others. He is often symbolized by a cup or chalice, an eagle rising out of a cauldron, a serpent entwined upon a sword, an eagle on a closed book, the scroll of the Apocalypse, or John seated on a tomb with a book, an orb, and a sword.

Maybe it is because he was considered the "Beloved Disciple" that he is honored with a feast day just two days after Christmas Day. To commemorate this Saint, wine is often used as one tradition tells us that he was served poisoned wine by a Priest of Diana (a Roman goddess), but as he put it to his lips the poison rose from the chalice in the shape of a serpent. Another tradition of this story states that the pagan priest denied the divine origin of the apostolic miracles and challenged Saint John to drink a cup of poison to prove he is protected by God, so after making a sign of the cross, Saint John emptied every last drop without injury. The toast given asks for those participating to "Drink the love of Saint John." It is thought that drinking hallowed wine on this day would secure one from all danger of poison throughout the next year. In Germanic areas, there was an old ceremony known as "Johannissegen" (or John's blessing) where a Catholic priest blessed wine brought to him by the parishioners. They would then go home and make a toast similar to that above and which was supposed to bestow health and prosperity.

These days were started around the 6th century, but were not very widespread until the 16th and 17th centuries where Europeans would celebrate with large quantities of wine. The celebration of Saint John in the Masonic system came around the end of the 16th century. The earliest known record of the mention of the Evangelist is in Edinburgh around 1599 and in fact, the Lodge of Scoon and Perth is also referred to as the Lodge of Saint John, but there are earlier mentions of other fraternities using this Saint as early as 1430. During the Great Schism, the Premier Grand Lodge of England favored Saint John the Baptist while the Antients favored the Evangelist. It is interesting to note that the United Grand Lodge of England was established on December 27th, 1813.

Many jurisdictions require that their Lodges install their new officers by December 27th and which marks the beginning of the Lodge year.

This day also falls around the Winter solstice which marks the shortest day of the year and the end of the solar year. This is in contrast to the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist which falls on the 24th of June, around the Summer solstice which designates the longest day of the year. If one remembers that the Saints John are connected with the Point within the Circle. The perpendicular parallel lines that support the circle represent the Saints. From this, we see them on opposite sides of a circle, a symbol that represents cycles, just as their Feast days fall upon the two solstices, the two extremes of the sun's appearance during the Earth's rotation. For such reason, these two show us balance and remind us of the lessons taught by Freemasonry.

Lodges today are dedicated to the Holy Saints John and it is sad to see that many Lodges do not hold anything to celebrate this day. Forgetting our past we lose a piece of our heritage. I hope everyone enjoys this day and remembers the man for who we commemorate.


1. Chambers, R. (n.d.). December 27th. Retrieved from Chamber's Book of Days: http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/dec/27.htm

2. Feast of St. John. (n.d.). Retrieved from Fish Eaters: http://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmas4.html

3. John the Evangelist. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Evangelist

4. Saints John Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic World: http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/stjohndays.htm

5. Simser, J. (2012, June 22). Saint John the Evangelists Day. Retrieved from Masonic Thoughts blog: http://masonicthought.blogspot.com/2012/06/st-john-evangelists-day-122709.html

6. St. John. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Culture: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2012-12-27

7. St. John the Apostle. (2011). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=228
8. St. John’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Christmas Celebations and New Year's Celebrations: http://christmas-celebrations.org/208-st-johns-day.html

9. St. John's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John's_Day,_Masonic_feast

10. Godfrey, L. L. (n.d.). The Holy Saints John. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Virginia: http://www.grandlodgeofvirginia.org/education/programs/monthly_talks/The_Holy_Saints_John.pdf

11. Ward, H. L. (n.d.). And Dedicated to the Holy Saints John. Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/ward.html

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Templar Prayer

May the grace of the Holy Spirit be present with us. May Mary, Star of the Sea, lead us to the harbor of salvation. Amen.

Lord, Holy Father, eternal God, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, Bestower, kind Ruler and most tender lover, pious and humble Redeemer; gentle, merciful Savior, Lord! I humbly beseech The and implore Thee that Thou may enlighten me, free me and preserve the brothers of the Temple and all Thy people, troubled as they are.

Thou, O Lord, Who knowest that we are innocent, set us free that we may keep our vows and your commandments in humility, and serve Thee and act according to Thy will. Dispel all those unjust reproaches, far from the truth, heaped upon us by the means of tough adversities, great tribulations and temptations, which we have endured, but can endure no longer.

Omnipotent, eternal God, who hast so loved the blessed John the Evangelist and Apostle, that he reclined upon Thy bosom at the Last Supper, and to whom Thou revealed and showed the Mysteries of Heaven, and to whom, while suspended on the Holy Cross, for the sake of our redemption, Thou commended Thy most Holy Mother and Virgin, and in whose honor (our) Order was created and instituted; through Thy Holy mercifulness, deliver us and preserve us, as Thou knowest that we are innocent of the crimes that we are accused of, so that we may take possession of the works, by which we may be guided to the joys of Paradise, through Christ and the Lord Our God!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

To all of my family, friends, Brothers, Companions, and Sir Knights, around the world;

Remember the Reason for the Season. Stay safe and may God be with you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Deacons and their Staffs

There is so much symbolism within Freemasonry and often we overlook some of it that is plain sight. Some often have questions, but never really ask as to why we use it. One such question surrounds the use of the staff by the Senior and Junior Deacons. These officers as well as the Stewards and Marshall carry a staff or a similar implement. Some of our ceremonies, regalia, rituals, and symbols can be traced back to ancient days, the medieval days of Operative Masonry, and some through the evolution of our degrees during the early years of Speculative Freemasonry.

The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" meaning servant, attendant, or messenger. This definition is appropriate to these officers as they serve as the messenger of the Worshipful Master and Wardens. The duties may change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but a realistic look at their duties is as follows. The Senior Deacon, who sits as the messenger between the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden, introduces and accommodates visitors; conducts and guides new candidates during the rituals; attends at the altar during the opening and closing ceremonies; and takes control of the ballot box. The Junior Deacon, the messenger between the Wardens, attends to all alarms at the door; ensures the security of the Lodge alongside the Tyler; and assists during the rituals (initiation and opening/closing).

In the early years of Speculative Freemasonry, not all Lodges had Deacons and if they did they may not have had the same duties as they do now. In some Lodges the Deacon was the presiding officer while the Wardens often served as the financial officer. During the Great Schism, the rivalry period between the Antients and the Moderns, the former had Deacons while the latter had Stewards (there were some exceptions as there always is). With the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the Lodge of Promulgation recommended the adoption of both the Deacons and Stewards as they were seen as useful and necessary. Through a succession of the ages we now have two Deacons as we see them today.

Both of the Deacons carry staffs. The name of these implements may change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Looking at history, Deacons were associated with columns, but around 1822 the Wardens took over the columns as the symbol of their office while the Deacons were given the staffs. The tops of the staffs have changed and do vary with each jurisdiction. The tops are also the jewels of the office, which today is the sun for the Senior Deacon and moon for the Junior Deacon, both within the Square & Compasses. In the early years of the UGLE, the staffs were topped by pine cones, but this would then change to doves that are also seen as messengers. The dove was also a symbol of peace and harmony, and the Deacons should remember they are officers of peace. One can see this during the initiation when the Senior Deacon is escorting the candidate. The Senior Deacon places himself between the candidate and the Altar, thus protecting the Altar from the uninitiated man, but once the candidate becomes a Master Mason, the Senior Deacon moves to his left side.

The use of staffs by officers is very symbolic and has been used in a variety of cultures. The most obvious use is by the Greek god, Hermes, who was the messenger of the gods, just as the Deacons are the messengers within the Lodge, and who carried the caduceus. This wand was used to ward off evil and to ensure that he was unimpeded in his journey. Carrying a staff is a mark of authority and we see this with the king's scepter, the bishop's or verger's staff, the mace of Parliament, and, Biblically, with the staff of Moses. Now we can't talk about the Deacon's staffs without talking about the rods that are carried by the Stewards of the Lodge as one of the origin theories of these implements surrounds the Stewards of the King in England. These Stewards carried a white rod which was a symbol of their authority appointed by the King. Other officers carried rods such as the usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department who carried a black rod.

One such theory that caught my eye was from the works of Bro. Bill Douglas. In his 2001 article, he talks about a hillside carving that is located on the south coast of England. In Sussex County near Wilmington is what is known as the "Long Man of Wilmington" which displays a man with arms outstretched and in each hand he holds a staff or "asherah". This figure stands 125-feet tall. The word "asherah" refers to wooden columns or staffs that represented the goddess Asherah. These were 6-feet in length and were carried by attendants of priests and stood as the insignia of their office. The goddess Asherah was the mother of twins named Shachar, the god of dawn, and Shalem, the god of dusk. Thus we see a connection to Masonry as the Deacons carry staff, one with the sun and sits in the East, representing the rising Sun or dawn; and the Junior Deacon with the moon as the jewel of his office to represent the end of the day or dusk.

Bro. Bill also makes a reference to Moses' Tabernacle. We learn in the 1st degree that all Lodges are a representation of King Solomon's Temple which was an exact model for the Tabernacle erected by Moses, which was situated due East and West to commemorate the East wind which assisted in the exodus of the Jews out of the land of Egypt. The tabernacle was not a permanent building, but a tent that was dismantled and erected each time the Jews moved through the Wilderness. Prior to dawn the attendants would go to the chosen site and one of them would place the staff or asherah on the spot. When the sun rose, it would send a shadow towards the western horizon. The second attendant would then place his staff at the other end of the shadow. This line would designate the center line of the tabernacle.

The Deacons serve as proxies for the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden. While the Junior Deacon carries messages to the Junior Warden it really is the Senior Warden who he represents and assists; the Junior Warden has the Stewards to assist him in a variety of roles. The staffs have been decorated to represent the Deacons role in the Lodge as messengers and protectors of peace and harmony. Those who serve as Deacons need to knowledge, vigilant, and steadfast that they may be able to perform their duties with impressive zeal.


1. Cameron, D. (2007, October 23). The Deacons. Retrieved from Waterloo Masons: http://www.waterloomasons.com/masonic_education/deacons

2. Deacon. (2013). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=deacon

3. Douglas, B. (2001). Why Do Deacons Carry Wands? Retrieved from Masonic Bulletin, BCY: http://weblites.com/images/011506_2.pdf

4. Halpaus, E. (n.d.). Rods and Columns. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Minnesota AF&AM: http://www.mn-masons.org/sites/mn-masons.org/files/3983.pdf

5. Hodapp, C. (n.d.). Freemason Lodge Officers. Retrieved from Freemasonry For Dummies: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/freemason-lodge-officers.html

6. Walk, C. R. (n.d.). The Masonic Rods and Staffs. Retrieved from Masonic World: http://www.masonicworld.com/education/articles/masonic_rods_and_staffs.htm

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Installed as Worshipful Master

Yesterday was a busy day. The morning started with me attending the Graduating Student Leaders Celebration & Breakfast at Boise State University and then the Winter Commencement ceremony. I was able to watch several of my friends walk and receive their Bachelor's degrees.

Once finished I spent my day getting ready for my Lodge's installation. I was concerned as it started to snow and many of my guests had a distance to come. One of our Brothers cooked a delicious Prime Rib meal that was served by one of the local Bethels.

The Installation was well attended, even with the inclement weather, and I had the honor of being installed by a Brother who served as Master when I was Raised and he was my mentor. Tonight was an amazing night as I am the first Worshipful Master to be recycled in 98-years. My Installing Marshall was the Brother who preceded me in the line my first time around and currently serves as the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho. My Installing Chaplain was a good mentor of mine who is a Past Grand Master of Idaho.

I gave my speech and entered into the Presentation stage of the night. This was a definite highlight of the night as my Senior Deacon approached me some weeks before with the idea that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend. I was very excited and agreed to take part in it all. At the end of all the presentations I had the Senior Deacon, the boyfriend, escort his girlfriend to the East where after a small speech I took the staff and allow the Brother to go on bended knee to propose to his girlfriend. She was so surprised as was her family who was in attendance. We ended the night with the opening of a Lodge of Tribute then heading to a local pub to have a few drinks.

I thank all of the Brethren for electing me to this honored station. It is a pleasure to preside over such a great Lodge and with a great corps of officers. I look forward to this next year and what surprises it brings into my life.

My Senior Warden took several pictures and once he has them uploaded I will update this post with them.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

William Preston

While we give credit to Thomas Smith-Webb for his publishing one of the first standardized monitors in the US, we must not forget the efforts of William Preston who had a major influence on Thomas Smith-Webb's work as well many other monitors.

William Preston was born on August 7th, 1742, in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the age of 6, his father had him attend the Royal High School in Edinburgh, where he is said to have studied Latin and Greek. He continued his studies of the classics through college and once he had finished his studies he worked for Thomas Ruddiman, a linguist, and after Thomas' death worked for Walter Ruddiman as a printer.

In 1760, he moved to London and started working as a printer again with William Strahan. During this time, a group of Scottish Masons living in London decided to form a new Lodge. On April 20th, 1763, Lodge No.111, under the jurisdiction of the Antient Grand Lodge, was constituted at the "White Hart" in the Strand. It is thought that Preston was initiated at this time. On November 15th, 1764, this Lodge would change their changed allegiances and Lodge 
No.111 would become Caledonian Lodge No.325 under the "Moderns" or Premier Grand Lodge. This Lodge is still in existence today, but is numbered as No.134 on the present registry of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Preston began an extensive program of masonic research which entailed correspondence with Masons from around the world. Through this, he built a large amount of Masonic knowledge and started organizing lectures attached to the 3-degrees of Freemasonry. He started meeting with friends a few times a week to present and refine his presentations which culminated on May 21st, 1772, where he held a Gala at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand. Here he presented his lectures to several prominent Masons and Grand Lodge officers. The success of this presentation led to the publishing of "Illustrations of Masonry". This publication would serve as the basis for several monitors. His efforts would earn him an appointment as Deputy Grand Secretary.

“To inform myself fully of the general rules of the Society, that I might be able to fulfil my own duty and officially enforce obedience in others.”

Preston was elected, in absentia, in Lodge of Antiquity (one of the founding Lodges of the first Grand Lodge). This Lodge was suffering and declining so they wished Preston to help turn the Lodge around. He was eventually elected as Master of the Lodge and the Lodge did indeed flourish again.

Some members were not pleased with the policies of Preston and eventually, he would be expelled. This resulted from the events of December 27th, 1777, when some members of the Lodge of Antiquity, including Preston, returned from church wearing their Masonic regalia. The incident was reported by some unhappy Brothers and when Preston stated that the Lodge only had to prescribe to the original Constitution of the Premier Grand Lodge, and not any of the subsequent rulings due to its seniority, he and his supporters were expelled in 1779.

It would be 9-years until the dispute was resolved and Preston was brought back into Freemasonry and reinstated to all of his Honors. During his expulsion, his literary contributions reduced. Preston took no part in the unification of the Antients and the Moderns in 1813.

William Preston died on April 1st, 1818, as a result of a long illness, and was buried in St. Paul's Churchyard. He left a sum of money to the Grand Lodge, to provide for the annual delivery of a lecture; the lecturer to be appointed by the Grand Master.

Although his Masonic journey had moments of controversy, he still contributed a great deal to the cultivation of Masonic education. Preston also had a major impact on moving Freemasonry away from the Taverns and the dinner appeal and giving it a deeper appeal for esoteric studies, as well as moving meetings to dedicated Masonic buildings.


1. Harvey, A. D. (2012). William Preston and the Prestonian Lecture. Retrieved from The Prestonian Lecture for 2012: http://www.prestonian2012.org.uk/William%20Preston.html

2. Illustrations of Masonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/preston_illustrations_masonry.html

3. McLagan, E. J. (1967, July 21). The Great Dissension (Or Schism). Retrieved from MoF Masonic Library: http://www.masoniclibrary.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88:the-great-dissension--or-schism-&catid=23:lecture&Itemid=30

4. Newell, B. E. (2012, October 30). The Father of the American Rite. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2012/10/the-father-of-american-rite.html

5. William Preston. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/preston.html

6. William Preston (Freemason). (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Preston_%28Freemason%29

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Last Meeting as Eminent Commander

It has been a busy last few days with school, work, and Masonic engagements. Tonight was my last meeting as Eminent Commander. I enjoyed my year and I will be assisting the next Eminent Commander. I had the pleasure of receiving Sir Knight Rick Rowe, Right Eminent Grand Commander of Idaho, and his Staff into my Commandery. It was a quick short meeting, but we're getting ready for installation next week and I got to meet with a Sir Knight I had not seen in a few months so we caught up.

Next week is even busier with some installations (including my Lodge) and two Christmas Observances. Then during Christmas Break, I don't have to worry about school work and can work on some posts, and more importantly, work on another chapter of my book. Now it's time to shower and head to bed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh, Lord, now this we’re thankful for:
The good things life has held in store;

The love of those within our home,
And friends to greet wherever we roam;

The health and strength wherewith to toil,
The bounteous food from freedom’s soil;

We thank Thee for the right to pray
And worship Thee in our own way;

To live within a land that’s free;
For this, dear Lord, our thanks to Thee;

And through these blessings, one by one,
May Thy will, Lord, on earth be done!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Templar Apron

In my article "The Templar Uniform" I briefly discuss the history and evolution of the modern Masonic Templar uniform. The original uniform worn by early Masonic Templars in the US was composed of a black triangular apron with skull & bones, a baldric, and a sword. Around the mid-19th century, we see the emergence of the jacket and chapeau. In discussing this topic, many, including myself, wish that the Grand Encampment would change the uniform and bring back the apron. The apron is a particularly interesting piece of regalia that displays symbols of Templary and the use of aprons is something that would physically tie us back to the Lodge and our Mason heritage.

In American Masonic Templary, we owe most of our information on the Templar Apron to Thomas Smith-Webb and his famous 1797 Monitor. Originally the Templar degrees were conferred under the authority of Blue Lodges and it is theorized the original Templar Apron was a modification of the apron seen in Craft Masonry to fit the ritualistic legends of the Templar Orders. In the ritualistic monitor, Thomas Smith-Webb describes the apron as "white with a black border or black with a white border". The flap black, and a skull and crossbones embroidered in silver thereon". This standard for the uniform was accepted by the early Templars, but this would all change with the formation of the Grand Encampment.

For some time the regulation of the uniforms was under the rule of the Grand Commanderies. This lack of uniformity caused the Grand Encampment to take action. Grand Master Hubbard, who served for 4 Triennium over the Grand Encampment, desired to standardize the uniform regulations and thus make the Templars a respected Order. At the 14th Triennial, Sir Knight Hubbard issued the "Digest of Decisions" which covered three subjects: dress, work, and discipline of Templar Masonry. The area of dress wasn't regulated until 1859 (3-years after the Digest) where legislation was passed on the standard uniform of Masonic Templary and would be revised in 1862. One of the more important pieces of the 1859 legislation was the abolishing of the Templar apron. There was an exception placed within the regulations that allowed Commanderies that were formed 1859 to still wear the apron; generally they were allowed to wear the entire old uniform. Commanderies co-existing under the old and new uniform standards lasted until 1872 when the current Grand Master, JQA Fellows, decided to enforce a single standard uniform which required all Commanderies to adhere to uniform policies established in 1859 and 1862. Of course though, there was an exception made and that was to Washington Commandery #1 (DC) who still wears it to this day, but only wears it on special occasions.

Many, even some noted Masons like Albert Mackey, opposed the Grand Encampment's edicts. Many saw the banishment of the apron as a rejection of an essential piece of Masonic Templary, a rejection of the heritage and history. A compromise was struck to allow the pre-Grand Encampment Commanderies to still operate under the old uniforms and in 1886, under the auspice of Sir Knight Roome the Most Eminent Grand Master of the 23rd Conclave, some control was given back to the Grand Commanderies, but even after this control was returned no Commanderies adopted the Templar Apron.

The colors black and white remind us of the duality around us. Instantly all Masons are reminded that human life is checkered with good and evil. That as Knights of Christ we are to be good and true to our friends, but terrifying to our enemies. Black also symbolizes the physical world while the white represents the spiritual world, the earth and the sky, the male and female, the loss of life and hope of a glorious hereafter. Black depicts the sins of the secular world that the Templar knights had chosen to leave while the second section was white depicting the purity that the order offered them, a sort of transformation of darkness to light. Silver represents purity, cycles, truth, awareness, vision, and strength. The skull and crossbones are emblems of mortality, the inevitability of death, but against popular belief this was not a symbol used by the medieval Templars on any seals or carvings. These symbols all taken together remind us of the mortality of this world and the immortality of the soul, lessons instructed to us through the degrees of Freemasonry. This apron should also remind us of the Knighthood we commemorate where the symbols reminds us of the martyrdom of DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the medieval Knights Templar, and all those who perished from the tyrannical inquisition that squashed the Templar Order.


1. Blaisdell, R. (1989, August). History of the Knight Templar Apron. Retrieved from Knight Templar Apron: http://www.blaisdell.com/papers/

2. Newell, B. E. (2012, February 15). The Beauceant. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2012/02/beauceant.html

3. Newell, B. E. (2012, January 19). The Templar Uniforms. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2012/01/templar-uniforms.html

4. Newell, B. E. (2013, April 2). The Escallope Shell. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2013/04/the-escallope-shell.html

5. Ralls, K. (2007). Knights Templar Encyclopedia. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.

6. Symbolism of Colors. (n.d.). Retrieved from Three Musketeers: http://www.three-musketeers.net/mike/colors.html

Ahiman Rezon

The 1723 publication of Anderson's Constitution is the most famous of Masonic documents, but this was the rules as established by the Premier Grand Lodge, also known as the Moderns. The Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons (1751-1813), or more commonly known as the Ancients or Antients, had its own Constitution that was known as Ahiman Rezon. This set of rules were compiled by Laurence Dermott who served as Grand Secretary and later Deputy Grand Master, and here is a brief description and history.

The first edition of the Ahiman Rezon was published in 1756 and a second one was published in 1764. There were would be editions published in 1778, 1787, 1800, 1801, 1807, and 1813. The first edition contains a parody of the histories of Freemasonry as written by Dr. Anderson and many believe there was a political purpose behind Dermott's writing of the Ahiman Rezon. In this write-up Dermott narrates a dream he has where four sojourners that were appointed by Solomon, appear before Dermott and inform him that he is to write a history of Freemasonry.

The exact reason behind Dermott's choice of "Ahiman Rezon" is not exactly known, but many believe it translates to "A help to a Brother", but there a few other translations offered up such as "will of select brethren", "secrets of prepared brethren", or "Royal Builders". These other translations are often not accepted as their translations require a stretch of the imagination or erroneous translations.

Once the United Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1813 and there was established a new Constitution so the Ahiman Rezon fell into disuse. Very few copies remain, but from the ones that still exist, we do have a brief review of what it contained. This Constitution begins with a Preface that contains the parodied history. Next follows the "Philacteri for such Gentlemen as may be inclined to become Freemasons" which is a guide to those wishing to become Freemasons as well as discussing what sort of Mason are fit to govern Lodges. Dermott then makes a comparison between the Moderns and Ancients which boils down to that Dermott saw the Moderns as inferior or lesser Masons and that the Ancients were in possession of secrets that the Moderns were not. In it is also found Old Charges as seen in the 1738 edition of Anderson's Constitution, a Charge to new Masons, ways to institute a new Lodge, some Masonic prayers, General Regulations (heavily influenced by Spratt and D’Assigny), and Mason Songs. The entirety only composes over a hundred pages. It was in the second edition that the Coat of Arms of the Ancient Grand Lodge appears. On the shield is depicted a lion in the first quarter, an ox in the second, a man in the third, and an eagle in the fourth, with the Ark of the Covenant as the crest and two cherubim as supporters. Underneath, in Hebrew and English, is the motto "Holiness to the Lord", all features that have special significance for Royal Arch Masons.

Many attribute much of the Schism's longevity to the attitude and beliefs of Dermott. Dermott originally was affiliated with a Lodge in London under the Moderns. By 1752 though he had affiliated with an unrecognized Irish Lodge and was soon elected as the second Grand Secretary of the Ancients. He had a great deal of contempt for the Moderns as he saw them as irregular who would sell the degrees for the price of a leg of mutton and thus said their greatest symbols were the knife and fork. Some wonder if the Grand Lodges would have united earlier if not for this document and its author.


1. Short Talk Bulletin - Ahiman Rezon. (1935, January). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania: http://www.pagrandlodge.org/district37/D37_Pdfs/STB-Ahiman_Rezon.PDF

2. Ahiman Rezon. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahiman_Rezon

3. Ahiman Rezon. (n.d.). Retrieved from Valley of Schenactady, AASR: http://www.aasrschenectady.org/lib/Freemasonry/Freemasonry%20A-D/Dermott%20L%20-%20Ahiman%20Rezon%201756.pdf

4. Dermott and Grand Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Dermott#Dermott_and_Grand_Lodge

5. English Grand Lodge History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania: http://www.pagrandlodge.org/programs/masedu/qa/9-23.html

6. Mackey, A. G. (n.d.). Ahiman Rezon. Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/ahiman1.html

7. Mackey, A. G. (n.d.). Laurence Dermott. Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/dermott.html

8. Sheppard, R. (2006). History Resources. Retrieved from Association of Atholl Lodges: http://www.antients.co.uk/History%20-%20Ahiman%20Rezon.htm

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five Years of Knighthood

Well, it was today 5-years ago that I was dubbed and created a Sir Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple in Idaho Commandery No.1 in Boise, ID.

When I initially joined the York Rite I wasn't very active the first year as I was serving as Worshipful Master and was balancing that role with work. At the next Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho, the following September, I was approached by the Senior Grand Warden (at the time) about getting active in York Rite as some vacancies needed filling. I accepted and stepped up as Senior Warden for my Commandery. I finished out the year and was re-elected as Senior Warden, and would be re-elected the following year as I deployed and could not advance in the officer line. When I came home from Iraq I was home just in time for the Fall Festival and elections. I was jumped to the office of Generalissimo and this year I have had the honor of serving as Eminent Commander.

These last 5-years have just flown by, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. The scenes of my initiation still remain as vivid as they were that day and I will never forget those Sir Knights who have been friends and mentors on my journey through the York Rite of Freemasonry. As Eminent Commander, I enjoy conferring this Order upon new Sir Knights and implanting upon their minds the impressive scenes of the ritual.

My Commandery just had elections and I will be handing off the reigns of this Commandery to my Generalissimo and I will serve him as Warder this next year. I have enjoyed my time as a Sir Knight and will continue to be involved and spread Masonic Light to the other Sir Knights, old and new.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Brief History of Anti-Masonry

Being a Mason, one is likely to encounter in some fashion their opposite, the anti-Mason. My first encounter occurred after I was elected to receive the degrees, but prior to my admission into the Lodge. Anti-Masonry is something we Freemasons are constantly plagued with and with the advancement of communication technology such as printing presses in the 18th century and the emergence of the Internet in the late 20th century, anti-Masons have new venues for spreading their propaganda and reaching a new audience. I am not here to discuss or argue against specifics, but show the recorded history of anti-Masonry around the world. This will be chronological in order, with some exceptions. I did not cover every event or publication as there is just too much information.

One of the earliest known anti-Masons was the Gormogon who was established in 1723 in England. They were officially known as the "Ancient Noble Order of the Gormogons" and started by an expelled Freemason named Phillip Wharton. As no records are known to exist, no one knows what their goals and mission were other than to oppose Freemasonry and ridicule it, which is known only due to articles published by the group; the first article being published in the London Daily Post on September 3, 1724. There is no one theory as to the meaning of Gormogon some of them very vulgar. This group was short-lived and faded away into obscurity after a few years.

In 1730, Samuel Pritchard, a disillusioned ex-Mason, published "Masonry Dissected" which was the first expose of the Masonic ritual. This book is used today in the study of the development and evolution of the three degrees of Craft Masonry. This book would be revised in 1738 and would be reprinted in several different languages.

Following the introduction of Freemasonry in Florence, Italy, in 1733, persecution followed.

On April 28th, 1738, one of the biggest events of anti-Masonry occurred when Pope Clement XII issued the Papal Bull "In Eminenti Apostolatus" which was the first official edict against Freemasonry. The logic behind this edict was that Freemasonry works in secrecy and that nothing good comes from; it's ironic to see this as it is still an argument used by many anti-Masons. As a result of this edict, Catholics are prohibited from joining the Craft. Here are some excerpts of this edict:

Now it has come to Our ears, and common gossip has made clear, that certain Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations or Conventicles called in the popular tongue Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons or by other names according to the various languages, are spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength; and men of any Religion or sect, satisfied with the appearance of natural probity, are joined together, according to their laws and the statutes laid down for them, by a strict and unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath upon the Holy Bible and by a host of grievous punishment, to an inviolable silence about all that they do in secret together. But it is in the nature of crime to betray itself and to show itself by its attendant clamor. Thus these aforesaid Societies or Conventicles have caused in the minds of the faithful the greatest suspicion, and all prudent and upright men have passed the same judgment on them as being depraved and perverted. For if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light.
With this Papal Bull, suppression of Freemasonry continued in Italy, but most notably in Florence. 

While the date is not known exactly, Freemasonry arrived in Portugal between 1735 and 1743. The first two Lodges were established by British Merchants living in Portugal. With the passage of the first anti-Masonic Papal Bull, the second Lodge dissolved and all membership moved to the first. A Swiss Protestant named John Coustos founded a Lodge in Lisbon in 1741, but in 1743 he was arrested and sentenced to death. With the assistance of King George II of England, his death sentence was commuted, and was liberated in 1744 where he was sent to England. In 1748, he broke his silence and published a book on the abuses he faced while imprisoned. Freemasonry in Portugal would be free from persecution from 1760-1770, but would resume in 1777 with the rise of Maria I.

Persecution spread and in 1740 members of a Madrid Lodge were imprisoned as King Philip V of Spain had issued an edict against Freemasonry, but this was most likely in response to In Eminenti Apostolatus. Freemasonry was banned at different times in history and in this early history; anti-Masonry had a very deceitful twist to it. On January 17th, 1750, Joseph Torrubia secured the permission of the Pope to become a Mason. He was a Roman Catholic Priest living in Spain and wished to find out who were Masons. He compiled a list and in March of 1751 gave a list of 97 Lodges and their members to the Grand Inquisition which in turn arrested and punished those listed and who they could arrest. 

On May 18th, 1751, Pope Benedict XIV issued another anti-Masonic Papal Bull called "Providas Romanorum Pontificum". This Papal Bull was issued in order to make it very evident that the condemnation and opposition of Freemasonry were permanent and applied to the future as well as to the present. Here is an excerpt of this edict:
In order to prevent anyone from saying that We have imprudently omitted anything to swiftly eradicate the pretext of deceitful calumnies and silence them, after heeding the counsel of some of Our Brother Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, We confirm the same Constitution of Our Predecessor [In Eminenti Apostolatus], word for word, as set out above, which must be considered the broadest and more efficacious on the matter: In our full knowledge and in the plenitude of Our Apostolic authority We confirm it, validate it, renew it and desire and decree that it must have perpetual force and efficacy in all things, according to its content, as if it had been promulgated by Our motu proprio and with Our authority and had been published the first time by Us. 
Truly, among the most grave reasons for the prohibitions and condemnations set forth in the mentioned Constitution, there is one whereby in such society [Freemasonry] and secret meetings men of all religions or sects can join together in close gatherings; it is clear that this can harm the purity of the Catholic Religion. 
The second reason is the strict and impenetrable promise of secrecy, which forces one to hide what he does in those meetings, to which one can properly apply this saying of Cecilio Natale to Minucio Felice on a different topic: 'Honest things always love the public light; the evil ones are secret.' 
The third reason is the secret oath by which one [a member of Freemasonry] commits to inviolably observe, in such a way that it is permited for him when questioned by a legitimate power, to use any excuse - be it a promise or an oath - to avoid the obligation of confessing everything asked of him in order to know whether anything in those secret meetings is done contrary to the stability and the laws of Religion and the Republic. 
The fourth reason is that these Societies are opposed to both Civil and Canonic sanctions, taking into account that Civil Law prohibits gatherings and meetings without the permission of the public authority, as one reads in the Pandette (book 47, tit. 22, De Collegis et corposibus illicitis) and in the famous letter of C. Plinio Cecilio (n. 97 of book 10), who reports that it was forbidden by his edict, under the direct command of the Emperor, for Eterie to take place, that is, for societies and meetings to exist and gather without the authorization of the Emperor. 
The fifth reason is that in many regions and cities, the mentioned societies and groups have already been proscribed and banned by laws of the secular Princes. 
Finally, the last reason is that prudent and honest men have faulted the mentioned societies and groups: by their judgment anyone who becomes a member of them incurs a stigma of depravity and perversion.
On July 2, King Ferdinand VI of Spain suppressed the Craft in his dominions by strengthening the enforcement of the Papal Bulls issued by the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1754 Alexander Slade published a book called "Free Mason Examin'd" which made a claim that Masonry's rituals were based on the Tower of Babel and that we as Masons reject God.

On September 12th, 1775, Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies, issued an edict against Freemasonry which forbade the meeting of Freemason in Lodges under his dominion, under the penalty of death. In 1777, this was repealed at the behest of Caroline of Austria, his wife, but the anti-Mason decree would be renewed in 1781. When Maria I succeeded her father, Jose I, suppression of Freemasonry returned 
to Portugal. Often Masons would be arrested and convicted without trial; it got so bad Masons resorted to extreme measures to conceal their meetings by mean such as meeting upon boats out in the water.

In 1789, Joseph Balsamo, a charlatan who was more popularly known as Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, was arrested in Rome by two men working for the Inquisition and was convicted of being a Freemason. He was originally imprisoned at the Castel Sant'Angelo, but was moved to the Fortress of San Leo after one failed escape attempt. He died in 1795 while still in prison.

In 1797 John Robison, a Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, published his infamous book, "Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe Carried on in Secret Meetings of the Freemasons, Illuminati and Readings Societies". This piece of work is one of the most notable anti-Mason writings and it is something still heavily cited by anti-Masons even in the modern-day. Bro. Ed King of MasonicInfo gives a better description of this work and the man behind it: http://www.masonicinfo.com/robison.htm

In 1798, a New England Pastor, Jedidiah Morse, started a storm of anti-Masonic sentiment with his sermons. These tirades were aimed at not only the Masons, but the Illuminati as well, and much of his fire was fueled by Robison's book. Being a staunch Federalist, he attempted to root out the Illuminati in America who he feared would support the anti-Federalists in the US, but was discredited by his failures after some time and his anti-Masonic sermons died out during the first decade of the 19th century. Strong anti-Masonic sentiments would not rise again until the Morgan Affair and the short rise of the Anti-Masonic Party.

Although Freemasonry was excluded from it, in 1799, the British Parliament passed the Unlawful Societies Act which was used for the "effectual suppression of societies established for seditious and treasonable purposes."

In 1801, Emperor Francis II prohibited Masonry in Austria. Seen as reactionary later in his reign and very paranoid by the violence of the French Revolution (his aunt being Marie Antoinette), feared a Jacobin uprising in his dominions and with the conspiracies rejected all societies that could be seen as "secret" which he saw as a threat to his authority.

Not long after ascending the throne in 1814, Ferdinand VII, King of Spain, ordered the closing of Masonic Lodges and reestablished the Inquisition in order to deal with the members. In September, 25 men were arrested for being suspected of Freemasonry. Severe punishments were given to those convicted which included exile, confiscation of property, and/or death. This continued until the Revolution of 1820. On August 1st, 1824, Ferdinand VII decreed the death of all Masons without trial.

On September 13th, 1821, Pope Pius VII issued the Papal Bull "Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo" which stated Freemasonry existed "for weakening and overturning the same Church" and damned Freemasonry for its "religious indifference". It continues to state that anyone with Masonic membership should be excommunicated.

On March 13th, 1826, Pope Leo XII issued his Papal Bull "Quo Graviora" which gave his own condemnation of Freemasonry and prohibited membership in a Masonic Lodge in perpetuity.

Perhaps one of the most famous stories and catalysts of anti-Mason sentiments is the Morgan Affair. 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 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. 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 of 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 proof that he was killed. Even after his disappearance, his book was still published. All of these circumstances culminated in an uproar of public outrage. 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. In many places in New England and America, Masonry ceased to exist for a number of years, but would come back, stronger. This event still has some effect on Freemasonry today, though many may not realize it.

"Far from the truth are such impressions. With dozens of exposés printed; with hundreds to be bought for a few cents; with this cancer existing for more than two hundred years, would not Freemasonry have been long ago destroyed if these books were actually as harmful as so many supposed? Actually Freemasonry has grown from a handful of men in 1717 to five million in the civilized world, neither because of, or in spite of exposés..."

On May 21st, 1829, Pope Pius VIII issued the Papal Bull "Traditi Humilitati" which was directed against the Craft although it never mentions Freemasonry by name. On August 15th, 1832, Pope Gregory XVI issued the Papal Bull "Mirari Vos" which condemned those who prescribe to any form of liberalism and religious indifference. On November 9th, 1846, Pope Pius IX issued his Papal Bull "Qui Pluribus" like the last two never mentions the Craft, but further condemns political liberalism and religious indifference.

In 1847, letters written by John Quincy Adams condemning Freemasonry were published. In this same year, Thomas DeQuincey wrote an essay called "Secret Societies" which made wild accusations, unfounded assumptions, and concluded that Masonry was an evil organization.

Pope Pius IX issued many Papal Bulls against Freemasonry. On April 20th, 1849, he issued the Papal Bull "Quibus Quantisque Malis"; on December 8th, 1864, he issued his Papal Bull "Quanta Cura"; on September 25th, 1865, he issued "Inter Multiplices"; on October 12th, 1869, he issued his Papal Bull "Apostolicae Sedis Moderationi"; and on November 21st, 1873, he issued the Papal Bull "Etsi Multa". All of these were directed against Freemasonry directly or indirectly.

In October of 1867, the National Christian Association was established in Aurora, IL, which originated with a convention of clergymen to discuss "secret societies". Since its inception, it has issued anti-Masonic material.

On April 20th, 1884, Pope Leo XIII issued the Papal Bull "Humanum Genus" which wasn't just another condemnation like those of Pope Pius IX, but directly attacked Freemasonry as a godless society that supported and assisted the kingdom of Satan. Ten years later Pope Leo XIII established the Anti-Masonic Bureau.

One of the biggest hoaxers to plague Freemasonry and fuel the fires of anti-Masons is Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, or more commonly known as Léo Taxil. He penned many works that were later found to be fictitious, and have caused unfounded uproar by anti-Masons. One such work involved a woman by the name of Diana Vaughan, a supposed descendant of the Rosicrucian alchemist Thomas Vaughan, and who was involved in Satanic rituals conducted by the Freemasons. In 1896, an Anti-Masonic Congress was held in Trent to look into the matter of Diana. The Quakers of Philadelphia issued a tract denouncing Freemasonry. In 1897, Taxil called a conference where he admitted he had fabricated it all to ridicule both the Catholic Church and Freemasonry, and afterward he had to flee for his life.

In 1913, the Catholic Encyclopedia was published by the Abbe Pater Hermann Gruber, a Jesuit, who was a staunch anti-Mason. This Encyclopedia contained an article on Freemasonry which made accusations of liberalism, naturalism, Deism, which he condemned altogether as against Christianity.

Mussolini's Grand Fascist Council issued its first resolution against Freemasonry on February 13th, 1923. They stated that Fascists who were Masons must choose between the two. The Grand Orient replied that Fascist Freemasons were at liberty to give up Masonry and that such action would be in accord with the love of country which is taught in the lodge. Although many did in fact resign, violent action was taken against Freemasonry and many of their properties were destroyed. The Masons of Italy appealed to the Fascist government to end the violence, but in August of 1924, it was declared that the Fascists must disclose the names of Masons who did not support the Mussolini regime. Soon agencies were formed to collect on Freemasonry as Mussolini saw it as a subversive organization under the umbrella of radicals in France. Soon Masons were arrested and charged with being "agents for France and England" and some Masons were even assassinated. One of those arrested was none other than General Cappello, a prominent Fascist and Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, who was arrested in 1926 after resigning from the Fascist Party rather than Masonry on trumped-up charges. He was sentenced to 30-years in prison. In the following years, Mussolini's henchmen looted the homes of known Masons throughout Italy and murdered many more.

Like Spain, Portugal had banned Freemasonry at different times. In 1931, Masonic meetings were prohibited by order of the police. The police went around the known Loges and sealed the doors and the Grand Master, John Martin de Matos, was secretly imprisoned in a hospital for "health reasons". Freemasonry has existed under the parliamentary democracy, but everything changed in May of 1926 when a military coup led by General Gomes da Costa installed an authoritarian government that would eventually be led by António de Oliveira Salazar. 

In 1935, Spain barred Masons from joining the military. Civil War began in 1936 and in October, 6-Masons were hanged for simply being Masons. Francisco Franco, the soon-to-be leader of Spain, had his troops destroy Masonic temples, confiscate property, and torture and execute Masons; some were forced to dig their own graves before being shot. Grave-sites were desecrated if they had symbols thought to be Masonic on them. It was a criminal offense for a man to have ever been connected with Freemasonry. Between 1939 and 1975, around 16,000 Spanish citizens were executed for the crime of Freemasonry, but upon the death of Franco in 1975 the ban was lifted and Masonic activity resumed.

Freemasonry was also a victim of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The Nazis saw the Freemasons as servants of the Jews and, from an official publication, "...hostility against the Freemason as a servant of the Jew, must be worked up to a frenzy." Once Hitler took power in 1933, his followers informed Masonic leaders they had no place in the new Germany, but many were also misled that Masonic activity would not be prohibited. Soon the government attempted to implement changes they saw as necessary. Many Masons started meeting underground and in complete secrecy. Soon Masons were being prevented from entering businesses and working as public servants such as in the education and military sectors. Many Masons were being imprisoned for various types of trumped-up charges. On August 8th, 1935, Hitler announced the final dissolution of all Masonic Lodges in Germany and blamed the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 which led to World War I on the Freemasons. Masonic property was confiscated and propaganda campaigns against Freemasonry started nationwide. Many things were taken to Berlin to be a part of an anti-Masonic exhibit, but those properties not used were often burned or destroyed. Masonic members and dignitaries alike were sent to concentration camps. So many libraries and archives were destroyed and records lost. As the Nazi regime spread across Europe the suppression of Freemasonry followed along, although the anti-Masonic actions didn't make much world news.

After WWII, Spain was still led by the Franco authoritarian government that spent in 1949 $100,000 on the maintenance of a special tribunal to suppress Freemasonry. In this same year, Lodges were dissolved in Hungary.

Masonic oppression had existed in Hungary for some time. In 1919, the army started to raid, confiscate property from, and destroy Masonic Lodges. In 1920, Freemasonry was outlawed by decree. In the post-WWII environment, Masonic Lodges were described as "meeting places of the enemies of the people's democratic republic, of capitalistic elements, and of the adherents of Western imperialism."

In 1955, Dr. Mauro Baradi, a PGM of the Philippines, was opposed by the Catholic Church to serve in a public office as he was a Mason.

In 1956, the High Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church petitioned the Greek Ministry of the Interior to withdraw government recognition of the Craft.

In 1959, 21-Masons were imprisoned in Spain under the laws first passed by Franco on his ascension to power. In 1940, Franco had banned Freemasonry as he blamed Freemasonry for the fall of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century as well as the cause of the Spanish Civil War. With the passage of this law, all Masonic properties were to be confiscated.

On October 11th, 1962, the Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church, or commonly known as Vatican II, convened and didn't conclude until December 8th, 1965. Among other things, it reversed Pope Leo XIII's "Humanum Genus" a condemnation of Freemasonry. It had been during this time that William H. Quasha, Grand Master of the Philippines, had visited Rome to explain the nature of Freemasonry to Catholic leadership.

In 1966, the Grand Master of a Cuban Grand Lodge relinquished his office and gave the seal to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida for safekeeping. At face value, this makes it appear as if Freemasonry was completely banned from Cuba, but this isn't so. The Gran Logia de Cuba still exists in Cuba and in 2010 had 316 Lodes with around 29,000 members. During the Cold War, they were closely monitored by the government but after the fall of the Soviet Union, restrictions were eased, which led to the creation of a new Lodge, the first since 1967. Still today there is some restriction and monitoring by the government, but Cuban Masonry is a unique animal.

On June 19th, 1974, the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, of the Roman Catholic Church, sent letters to Episcopal Conferences informing them of Canon 2335 and its application to Masonry: "a Catholic who joins the Freemasons is excommunicated only if the policies and actions of the Freemasons in his area are known to be hostile to the Church..." This misled some to believe the Church no longer objected to Freemasonry. This congregation had other names, but is most known as the "Holy Inquisition" and oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia, being founded in 1542 by Pope Paul III, and whose mission it is to "spread sound Catholic doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines". This is the reason they have been so involved with the suppression of Freemasonry throughout history.

With the overthrow of the Shaw of Iran in 1979, Freemasonry was also banned as many of the previous leaders were believed to be Masons and many authoritarian nations in the Middle East are under the ignorant belief that Freemasonry is controlled by the Jews. When the Islamic government took over many people were fired for just being accused of being a Mason. Propaganda is still spread that Freemasonry is still plotting with the Zionists and Western powers against Iran. 
The Grand Lodge of Iran currently operates in exile, currently headquartered in Los Angeles.

In 1980, the German Bishops Conference produced a report against Freemasonry. They make many allegations that repeat many things already seen in Papal Bulls from the 19th century. They conclude that Freemasonry is alternative to religion and thus all Catholics are forbidden from joining Freemasonry. The last two Popes have also upheld the condemnation of Freemasonry.

I know I just touched upon the tip of the iceberg, but I hope this shows the rough and rugged road Freemasonry has come down. I didn't touch upon a lot of the books written against Freemasonry nor did I touch upon the personalities of David Icke or Alex Jones as I don't see them as the same as men like Franco or Mussolini, but rather just loud annoying dogs seeking attention. For anyone into further reading on the subject, Bro Robert Cooper wrote a book on anti-Masonry called "The Red Triangle: A History of Anti-Masonry". Far too many Masons, particularly we American Masons, have forgotten or don't necessarily know about anti-Masonry and the suppression of Masons. Freemasonry has been a champion of individual liberty, religious freedom, and progress. For these reasons and by our private nature we are a convenient target to fanatics, ignorant, and tyrannical. While I'm not trying some kind of scare tactic, I do wish to impress upon your minds the need to guard our West gate and be ever vigilant to dangers that have repeated themselves throughout history.


1. In Eminenti. (1738, April 28). Retrieved from Papal Encyclicals Online: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Clem12/c12inemengl.htm 

2. History. (1965, December 7). Retrieved from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_pro_14071997_en.html 

3. Iran and Freemasonry. (1992, September 1). Retrieved from Refworld: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac0210.html  

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31. The Morgan Affair. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British-Columbia and Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/morgan_affair.html