Friday, April 9, 2010

2 Books on Free Masonry

The symbolism of Freemasonry, Albert Mackey, 1869
The Mysteries of Free Masonry, Captain William Morgan ?date Subtitle:All the Degrees Conferred in the Royal Arch Chapter and Grand Encampment of Knights Templars-Knights of the Red Cross-of the Christian Mark and of the Holy Sepulcher

I read these books because of the connection between Freemasonry and the early church. As best I can tell, two practicing Masons wrote these books in the late 19th century. According to their traditions, the association of Freemasons started during the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The High Priest conveyed not so much secret but private symbols, signs, tokens, handshakes and other oral traditions to the builders of the Temple. Hiram Abiff was the original Mason to whom the secrets were revealed. He was murdered and this tradition is important in modern Freemasonry. There are several forms of Masonry, Craft being the most important, but also speculative and others. At first only real stonemasons (craft) were admitted to the order but in 1717, the society was opened to any male. It is overtly religious and strongly Christian but anyone who is of good moral quality and professes a belief in God may be admitted. This includes Moslem, Hindus etc. It does emphasize the Judeo-Christina beliefs in most of it written liturgy. One is advanced to 3rd degree Master Mason along several paths but each required memorization of pages of question and answers asked by the grand master as you are presented for advancement.
-According to the Freemasons, those amazing and beautiful medieval-Crusader era cathedrals were built with the special knowledge from the construction of Solomon’s Temple. This construction was possible at a time when technology was less developed because of the special and secret building knowledge these Masons possessed. The Knights Templar were not mentioned in either book related to the Masons but are in some way related. This relationship evolved during the construction of the Crusader cathedrals. I did not go outside of these books to investigate is relationship. According to the authors, the secrets of the craft of stonemasonry as well as the secret religious traditions were passed on orally since the building of the Temple. It appears many of the rituals and modern procedures were developed, enhanced and enlarged in England in the early 19th century. In the early 1800’s some of the oral traditions were recorded. By the time these books were written the traditions and rites had been embellished and enhanced. This augmentation occurred over one hundred years and by the late 1800s was complete. I think there are over 90 degrees at this time. There was also a reconciliation of several of break-off lines. I really did not learn much by reading the details of the rites and traditions except they are very complex.
As an aside, when I was in Medical School I worked in the rehab hospital at night as a “Dr” handling all kinds of non-emergencies. One night I was called to a patient’s room who had developed a drug induced temporary psychosis. He was waving his arms, making signs, and repeating strange liturgies. He was very paranoid and was making Mason signs to signal friendship and looking for refuge from a brother Mason. Masons are committed to defend and aid each other when in need or distress. After reading these too books, they were very long; I have now lost interest in Freemasonry.


  1. So what is the purpose of being a Freemason today? It sounds like they were initially a group that passed on superior construction knowledge along with their other traditions but why has it endured so long- did the books delve into this at all.

  2. Best I can tell, the current purpose of the organization is to inspire men (it is male only club) to be good, God fearing friends and brothers. I think Freemasonry's claim to special knowledge is spurious. It seems to have originated in Europe, England after 1500. It persists as a "club" of sorts albeit with hundreds of pages of material to memorize.

  3. so, any enlightenment on why people would make such a big deal about the associations of early church and political leaders to the masons? from your account, it is merely a benign mens club.