I became interesting in Freemasonry over ten years ago as a result of my fascination with conspiracy theories – and the theorists. I had spent several years web surfing from website to website, trying to untangle the threads in order to find some elements of truth, and failing that, settling for elements of verisimilitude. Over the course of several years I found that thread after thread ended up entangled with or somehow involving the Freemasons. Eventually I began to frequent web boards where I could read the messages that Freemasons sent to each other. Learning that there was nothing mysterious about them, I began to respect the Masons that I met online, and we soon inspired to join the local lodge, where I discovered that Freemasons (or just Masons, as we call ourselves) are mostly just normal guys interested in hanging out with like-minded people.
Mostly, that is.
Over the last ten years I’ve moved from novice initiate to the Master of the lodge – for which I had to undergo another secret ceremony during which I was imbued with the secrets of the Oriental Chair. Along the way I was appointed to several committees on our Grand Lodge – the governing body at the state level in the US – and was even appointed to a term as a minor Grand Lodge officer. During this time, I made a point to dismiss the twisted ideas of the conspiracists, who we often denigrated as the “Antis.” I’m now embarrassed to admit that I actually taunted them for their beliefs at times. However, I’m also willing to admit that the scales (or should I say, the hoodwink) has fallen from my eyes. In a perverse twist on the state toward which Masons avowedly strive, I can now say that I have been enlightened. I have discovered proof that there actually is a Masonic/Illuminati conspiracy, whose purpose is to pass messages from faction to faction via the mass media. However, unlike the hundreds, nay, thousands of conspiracy theorists who continue to post ridiculous theories on their websites and forums, I actually am a Freemason, and therefore, I actually have information to which they do not — nor ever will — understand.
For years I have read claims that there are branches of the Freemasons that are in league with the Zionists and the reformed (or more likely, never disbanded) Illuminati. I, myself, used to find such claims too outlandish, too ridiculous to believe, but I now see that this is how the Freemasons managed to keep their efforts concealed: they were hiding in plain sight the entire time. The methods that they use to pass messages is encoded in the icons of pop culture, and the messages themselves are passed along symbolically. This keeps the uninitiated from suspecting, let alone interpreting the signals being passed from group to group.
Are all Masons in on this? Of course not, and this is what makes most of the Antis seem so ridiculous. Not even the CIA can keep secrets; certainly the bunch of semi-retired engineers, office clerks, and web designers who make up most Freemason lodges could not do any better. No, only a small handful of illuminated ones are in on the secrets being passed on, and it is now my understanding that they are in government, finance, and more importantly, the mass media. Why the media? Because it is through pop music that these illuminated Freemasons are using symbols and allegory to pass secret messages along to the far-flung reaches of their empire.
I’m sure it goes without saying that it was in the early days of rock and roll that these Illuminated Freemasons realized the power of the media. Early experiments with the British “invasion” bands, such as the Beatles, were rife with hidden messages, and even the occasional researcher can easily turn up dozens of such references. Unfortunately, many of the messages became muddied during the late 1970s with the advent of disco. That was when the Freemasons decided to broadcast those messages through a very small number of channels, and in the late 1980s, it became obvious that they had hand-picked an unknown pop singer named Madonna Louise Ciccone.
Urged to keep her first name as an ironic jibe to their enemies in the Church, Madonna’s career skyrocketed as other media moguls were given their marching orders. Indeed, the most blatant message broadcast was her 1989 video “Express Yourself.” Revisiting that video, it’s now difficult to believe that we completely missed the message, deflected, as it were, by the outrageous costumes and stage antics of the ironically nick-named Material Girl. But hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s important to note that the real message was that Madonna, herself, was to be the messenger, and that those people “in the know” should take note. Indeed, her stage antics were interspersed with a riff on German filmaker Fritz Lang’s silent film “Metropolis,” which is a very obvious sign that the Illuminated Freemasons were in the planning stages of their New World Order.
Pop icons, however, exist at the whim of the public, and eventually Madonna would have to be retired. This was effected in 2003 when she symbolically passed the torch to upcoming singer Britney Spears. Now, I know that some conspiracy researchers take issue with this, but it’s quite obvious when one examines the facts. As you can see by the picture of them on stage at the MTV Music Video Awards, Madonna was dressed in black, symbolizing her death (i.e., retirement), while Britney is dressed in (“Like a Virgin”) virginal white. Even her name gives away the plan: Britney refers, of course, to Britain, the home of modern Freemasonry. Spears are, of course, are shafts tipped with metal or stone barbs. It’s interesting to note that in Masonic lodges, there are several minor officers that carry items called “staffs” or “wands”, but those staffs are always topped by emblems of pointed metal, making those tools essentially identical to spears. Furthermore, the officers carrying those staffs have an express purpose within the secret lodge rituals: to carry messages from one higher-ranking officer to another. Clearly, Britney Spears was hand-picked in order to make it clear that she was the new messenger from the higher ranking Illuminated Freemasons in Britain..
However, the case of Britney Spears points up how the conspiracy theorists often get things wrong. Generally, they seem to think that the Freemasons have unlimited, almost God-like control over all circumstances; however, it’s obvious that those who picked Ms. Spears made a mistake. A former Disney child actor (And don’t forget that Walt Disney, himself, was a high-ranking Illuminated Freemason) one would have thought that Britney Spears should have been able to handle the sudden leap into the public eye, but it seems that her private life suddenly went into a downward spiral. There’s no need to recount the reports of drug and alcohol abuse; they were simply the human failings of a very human person who was unable to handle the huge responsibility thrust upon her. Because the inability to handle celebrity is almost legend in the film and music industries, it’s impossible to know how many other messengers there may have been — or have been lost — over the decades.
Before the messages themselves could be reliably transmitted, it would be imperative to find another messenger — one that would be believable for those on the receiving end. Fortunately, the Illuminated Freemasonic cabal anticipated the need for this and had already begun grooming the next messenger: Stefani Germanotta.
While it almost goes without saying that Lady Gaga became the next messenger, it’s worth noting that she was aware of the fact that she was being groomed for the position. I haven’t figured out if the constant barrage of Illuminati symbolism in her music and videos is a “hidden in plain sight” ruse, or if she is deliberately throwing the messages in our collective faces as a display of power. Either way, there is no question that Gaga has been carefully groomed to deliver the symbolic messages for the foreseeable future. For example, her early videos were rife with Gaga making odd hand signals, easily recognizable to any initiated Freemason. However, what could not possibly be a coincidence is her making liberal use of “All Seeing Eye” symbology, ranging from wearing of dark glasses, to covering one eye, to (most importantly) the “V” sign framing one eye in various scenes. Signs regarding “The eye of Horus” or “The All Seeing Eye” are recognizable to even non-Masons; such posing goes beyond the obvious and well into the blatant. Gaga is not doing this by accident, and it is my opinion that she is intentionally signalling that not only is she the new messenger, but that she’s aware of being the messenger, and intends to carry out that office in any manner possible. Whether this is to put some level of confidence back into those on the receiving end (who had presumably been left hanging since the dark days of Britney Spears), or to signal that plans have been moved into a higher gear, or possibly, a more public arena remains to be seen.
However, this is yet another case of how the initiated conspiracy theorists get things wrong. For instance, one popular conspiracy theorist writes often on his interpretations of pop music, and frequently expresses the opinion that the artists are conveying the message that they are caught in a prison and forced to do the bidding of their Illuminated Freemason overlords. Nothing could be further from the reality, which is that most of the pop cultural icons are, indeed, pleased to have been enriched financially, and have taken full advantage of the perks offered to them. This probably offers up a clue as to why Gaga herself throws so much symbolism into her videos: she’s flaunting her wealth and power.
The question arises that if Gaga is so blatant, how could there be any certainty that she is the messenger of a secret cabal? However, the chain that links Gaga to previous messengers is simply undeniable.
- While the backstory varies somewhat, the publicly given acknowledgement of Stefani Germanotta’s stage name is that a music producer friend of hers remarked that she reminded him of the old Queen song “Radio Gaga,” and a typo or a bad autocorrect changed that title to Lady Gaga. She liked the name, and took it as a stage moniker.
- Gaga (as she is now called) has posed with Masonic backdrops.
- Gaga’s latest music single is entitled “Born This Way,” the title being a nod to her having been groomed for several years for this office. The backbeat to this song is somewhat reminiscent of a major single from a previous messenger, Madonna. If you listen closely, you can hear echoes of the 1989 tune “Express Yourself.”
- The video to “Express Yourself” had a number of references to German Filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis.”
- Gaga’s actual last name is Germanotta
- Madonna, herself, retired from the office and moved to Britain (!) where she became known for studying the Kaballah, which itself is closely linked with the other esoteric studies associated with the Freemasons and the Illuminati, and shows signs of a Zionist tie-in.
- Part of the lyrics in “Born This Way” are “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen,” a reference to the band which gave Gaga her stage name.
- The band Queen (a reference to Britain, the home of Illuminated Freemasonry) wrote the song “Radio Gaga” in 1985, at least a year before Stefani/Gaga was born. “Radio Gaga” contains not just references, but actual clips of the original movie “Metropolis.”
- The front man for Queen had the stage name of Freddie Mercury.
And in Roman mythology, who was Mercury? None other than the messenger of the gods.
Could anyone possibly need more proof than this?
First of all, I’m excited that Charles Tirrell of Masonic Renaissance has found the time and inclination to get back into blogging. Charles was my counterpart District Grand Lecturer in the New Haven part of the state, then moved on to be an Associate Grand Marshall, and I now see that in April he will be the District Deputy in that area. I extend my heartfelt congratulations, and I know that he’ll do an excellent job.
I like Charles; he’s young and progressive minded, and he’s the kind of person I have in mind whenever I hear the (sadly clichéed) expression “The future of Masonry.” Charles has consistently pushed for our Grand Lodge to adopt new technologies in order to reach — and be relevant to — the newer members of our fraternity. He’s bright, and well-spoken, and modest about his achievements.
And he prefers Apple computer products.
Apparently, I have so little going on in my own life right now that I have taken to ribbing friends about their choice of technology, much in the way many people poke fun at one’s favorite sports team, choice of automobile, or taste in literature. This ribbing is further driven by the fact that for the last year, my office and home networks have been plagued by more computer problems than I’ve ever seen; obviously I’m envious of anyone who is actually happy with their computer, and confess to some distrust at anyone who doesn’t have some anger, annoyance, or irritation with their gadgets.
To his credit, Charles has refused to take the troll bait; although for that matter, I don’t particularly think about Apple products except when I hear from him or a few other similarly inclined friends.
Until yesterday, that is.
Some of you may remember that last year I wrote a post that made light of the similarities between Freemasonry and the GNU/Linux community. I should have remembered that satire is based in reality.
Yesterday, while reading Lifehacker, I ran across a couple of articles about how Apple is introducing a new way to get software, entitled respectively, Why the Mac App Store Sucks, and Why You Might Really Like the Mac App Store In The Long Run. And suddenly, the pictures jumped out at me. Why?
Here’s the logo for the Mac App Store:
Umm… does this look familiar to you?
For reference, here’s a couple of random images from a Google image search.
I mean, of all the possible combinations that the graphic artists could come up with, they riff on the Square and Compasses?
Coincidence? I think not.
Although I’ve long explored the twisted logic of the conspiracy theorists, I don’t have any background with regard to the twisted logic of Apple users. I believe, however, that this bears looking into.
I am so tired of the hype about the new Dan Brown book “The Lost Symbol,” that I have declared a “Brownout” at The Tao of Masonry this month. That’s right, I’m not going to be writing about Dan Brown or his new book for the rest of the month.
Admittedly, I didn’t write anything all summer long, but still — I’m upholding a principle.
The hype actually started back in 2006 when “The DaVinci Code” movie was released, and the rumors abounded that Brown would soon — perhaps as early as that fall — be publishing a follow-up book called “The Solomon Key.” Frankly, back then I was pretty excited. Freemasonry was getting some very public PR, and not from Freemasons themselves, nor because of some scandal. “National Treasure” was still talked about and it was looking like that dusty, old club that your grandfather used to visit a few times a month was getting a much-needed makeover. Most Freemasons waited for the next Brown book, hoping that it would continue to add to the mystique — and to draw in a few members.
Three years later, Brown is set to release the most long-awaited sequel since Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal Rising.” I’m going to avoid the temptation to compare the intriguing and complex character of Hannibal Lecter with the cardboard cutout of Robert Lang. You know why?
Because this is a No Dan Brown month at The Tao of Masonry, remember?
For weeks, Freemason bloggers and other members of the e-Mason community have been offering suggestions that our fraternity be ready for the huge tide of public interest. What are we going to tell people who ask us about Masonry? What kinds of responses will we have if Brown writes something unflattering? What will we have to offer if Brown writes something that sparks interest? Essentially, we are being told that we should turn on the porch light and bake a batch of cookies for the potential visitors — except for those who are saying that we should batten down the hatches for the potential storm.
How many movies in the last ten years had some slight reference to Freemasonry? Let’s see: Two National Treasure movies, The DaVinci Code, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Magnolia. So, a film every couple of years, with the more recent ones are the most referential. In fact, National Treasure has more Masonic references, and arguably a much more favorable perspective than the other movies combined.
Our Grand Lodge website has been tracking the numbers of those interested enough in the Craft to ask to be contacted. If I recall correctly (and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong), the numbers amounted to approximately one person per day.
I think that we can handle the influx of inquiries.
Look, it’s great that some groups are printing up material that brothers can use in case somebody decides to ask them about Freemasonry. But it occurred to me after last night’s Masonic Central podcast that we are expecting people to ask questions such as “What is Freemasonry” and “Why do you have those symbols?” and “Where can I get a petition?”
In my own experience as a student of human nature, I think that the questions are going to be more along the lines of “Do you really drink blood out of a human skull?” or “What’s with the goat? Do you really have some kind of demon worship?” or “Don’t you feel silly dressing in those old-fashioned costumes?” or “What’s with the secrecy? Do you guys really stick together to fix parking tickets and stuff?” or “What’s the deal with the Holy Grail, the lost Templar Treasure, and the Denver Airport?” and of course, “Why is it that when Masons turn up in books and movies, there’s always a secret plot, and people end up getting killed?”
I’m just saying that maybe some of us might be over-preparing for the wrong questions.
Driving to work this morning, I was thinking about the Masonic Central show, and about some of the questions that co-host Greg Stewart posed, which he believed would be important for Masons to think about in the face of the possible public relations stories that might come of this. He asked things like “What is Freemasonry? What do you get out of it? How does it make you a better person? What about the fraternity has kept your interest? What good things do you see it providing?”
Fellow guest Tim Bryce had a great explanation of our fraternity, almost elegant in its simplicity:
“Freemasonry is a Brotherhood of men who share common values, and who are interested in improving themselves, their community, and the world at large.”
After hearing this, it made me think that perhaps it’s more important for us, as Freemasons, to answer these questions for ourselves. Only when we know the answers to our own questions will we be able to answer — in the most positive light — the questions of the interested and curious.
I thought that the X-Files and its short-lived spin-off Millenium was the last major attempt by Freemasons to pass instructions coded into broadcast media, but as I was watching television the other night, I saw what can only be a resumption of those messages.
Amateur students of Masonic Konspiracies have most likely missed the commercial tie-in of Burger King and Spongebob Squarepants, but it did not escape me that this is a blatant attempt to pass along coded messages, and perhaps to insinuate the hidden Masonic agendas into our youth culture.
For those who may have missed the commercials, they are an ingenious method indeed; most adults would not bother to watch commercials aimed at pre-teens, and what could be a more innocuous cartoon than Spongebob? That’s the genius of the plan.
But think about the character itself: Spongebob Squarepants is a square-shaped creature, a geometric shape to which Masons frequently refer. The commercial features the rather creepy Burger King. The term “King” is too obvious for me to reference, and I won’t go into the minutiae about how “Burger” refers to the German-Austrio Hapsberg royal house. But the tie-in itself obviously references an alignment of the Freemasons – who have notably been allied with the British House of Windsor – with other members of the European royal houses. It’s not clear if the Freemasons are severing their relationship with the Windsors, or if (more likely) there is to be a merging of the lines in preparation to a One World Order.
I’m sure that there is no need to mention that the original Illuminati were from Austria.
And it wasn’t lost on me that using “rap” music was an intentional signal. Masons frequently use “raps” of gavels in their secret ceremonies, and by co-opting an old tune by “Sir” (another clue about royalty!) Mix-A-Lot was meant to catch the attentive ears of brother Masons in the English-speaking countries.
The commercial features a number of otherwise shapely young women dancing to this “rap” music, all of them wearing square-shaped boxes in their pants, which they display – indeed, call attention to – by their rhythmic shaking. Once you look past the overtly sexual innuendo, one realizes that they are shaking their “booty”, a reference to the riches to be gained by controlling the world’s monetary supply.
A secondary reference, though, is that “booty” is a term associated with pirates; pirates have been in the news lately, and alert konspiracy researchers will no doubt be aware that Freemasons may have descended from the heretical Knights Templar who escaped the purge of 1307, many of whom were rumored to have taken ships and plied the Mediterranean and southern European coasts. These ships were known to have sailed under a flag on which was a picture of a skull with crossed bones – a gruesome image with is still referenced by Freemasons even today.
And in case there are still some doubting Thomases, the 30-second commercial is really just an edit of a much longer, 2-1/2 minute message that is being broadcast through the YouTube medium. I haven’t had time to decipher the entire code, but I have managed to secure a copy of the text, which I have verified by listening to the commercial a number of times. I would appreciate any help or insights from other Masonic konspiracy experts in further deciphering what appears to be a message of callipygian importance.
I like square butts and I cannot lie
Squid and Sea Star can’t deny
When a sponge walks in, four corners and his pen
Like he got phone book implants, the crowd shouts
All the ladies stare
Dang those pants are square!
Swimming through the seaweed tangle
Is a butt with sharp right angles
Now Sponge Bob, I wanna get witch-ya
‘Cuz you’re making me rich-ah
Underwater, we keep it grungy
‘Cuz everybody knows that ‘He so spongey!’
You dance, but your hips don’t bend
So groove it and move it
If you got caboose, then prove it
Sponge Bob is dancing
And Squidward is glancing
He’s hatin’… wet
He’s got Sponge Bob runnin’ his set
I’m tired of all these chairs
They don’t accommodate these squares
Take the average box tell him that
You gotta have square back
Mr. Krab! Yeah!
Has Sponge Bob got the butt? Oh yeah!
Then shake it, now shake it
Shake it, now shake it
Shake that cubicle butt
Sponge Bob got back
Naw, dude, I said cubicle, not booty-ful. Don’t trip.Yeah baby, when it comes to sea life, curves ain’t got nothin’ to do with Bob’s selection.
2 by 2 by 2 square trousers, working that black belt, looking like dotted lines.
That’s how Sponge Bob like to rock them threads baby.
A word to the DC sponges who wanna get wit it
And watch Sponge Bob kick it
I gotta be straight when I say you gotta scrub ’til the break of dawn.
Bob got it goin’ on
Been known to rock him a thong
Them round butts won’t admit it
But they’d wear that gear if they could fit it
You can draw his body on paper
His waistline really don’t taper
Your girlfriend wants to squeeze him
Wanna push his pores and tease him
But Sponge Bob ain’t gonna have too much of that squeezin’
You other sponges don’t want none …
…unless you rock square buns!
To the new sponges in the magazines
You ain’t it Miss Thang
We rock them cubes, gals and dudes
Put it down at the goo lagoon
Some other box must get jealous
At the moves that come from square fellas
See Bob and they wanna get him
But Sandy Cheeks she won’t let ‘em
If you happen to wander on land
And you wanna be a square butt fan
And drive the crew right to Burger King
And give that sponge a ring
Sponge Bob got back!
It’s difficult to understand just what this message means. I’m counting on everybody reading this to share their insights so that we can figure it out.
Most people who know of my online habits and haunts know that I spend what is probably an inordinate amount of time in the company of some odd and sometimes unsavory characters. No, I’m not talking about The Burning Taper (at least, not specifically); rather, I’m talking about the places on the internet where those who are predisposed against Freemasonry tend to congregate. While there are plenty of blogs, web sites and online forums, my favorite place to watch the konspiracy krowd is on Usenet. Perhaps because Usenet is the remnant of the old Internet, it is often frequented by people who one can easily imagine sitting on an overturned recycling bucket, typing away on a desk made of milk crates and boards at an old, cast-off 386 PC, with pictures of UFOs on the wall sporting, Fox Mulder-like, the catch phrase “I want to believe.”
Yes, this is my secret shame: whenever I’m feeling down and blue, or if I’ve had a bad day at work, or even if I’m just having a bad hair day, I put on my fingerless gloves, crank up the 1980s punk rock, and head down the Information Superhighway to those little dark corners of the net in order to watch – and sometimes to bait – the Anti-Masons.
Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. It’s cheaper than gambling, and easier on my health than drinking.
Anyhow, it’s long been my contention that anti-Masons tend to fall into three rather broadly defined groups; the religious, the konspiracists, and the kooks. In general, you can tell which in group an anti belongs by looking at the content and context of their argument:
“You Masons are a false religion, you worship Baphoment, and the glory of the LORD will see your downfall. You’ll burn in HELL for all eternity for promoting your lies and falsehoods!”
“Not only are you Masons in league with the Illuminati and the Council on Foreign Relations, you also have a secret lair underneath the Denver Airport.”
“Damn kids – get the hell off of my lawn! Just ‘cos your fathers are Freemasons, you think that I won’t try to take you all to court for harassment? I know all those Masons look out for each other downtown, but I’ll be sittin’ on the porch with my shotgun full o’rock salt next time, y’hear me?”
Note: if you are not sure as to which group each statement belongs, then perhaps you should not be reading this.
Those people with religious objections to the fraternity are often the most difficult to deal with because they aren’t often swayed by reason. Unfortunately, they are more often swayed by sensationalized and overly dramatic presentations by slick-haired preachers, most of whom seem to be more interested in filling the coffers of their ministries than in promoting things like “truth” and “tolerance.” Admittedly, I have a difficult time understanding this because it seems that most of those with religious objections to Freemasonry tend to practice more fundamentalist versions of their faiths, which is often associated with very literalistic interpretations of their scriptures. One would think that such literal-minded thinking would be less prone to influence by the sensationalism peddlers.
Be that as it may, most of the arguments that I see between religious Antis and Masons seem to center around the writings of several noted Masonic authors, with the the Antis pointing to passages in various books and saying “See, you lying evil monger? This passage PROVES that Masonry is a religion,” and Masons responding by saying “You’re barmy, you daft old goat! Nobody can define the Craft that way.”
Etc., etc. Hilarity ensues.
My own perspective is that Masons intending to argue (for example) the finer points of
Albus Dumbledore Albert Pike are doomed to frustration; most fundamentalists will be more interested in promoting their own views than in learning about Masonry. More to the point, Masons trying to argue the finer points of any Masonic author of a century ago will need to discuss the issues in terms of symbolism, allegory, and metaphor, all of which are unlikely to be understood by those looking at the issues with a more literal-minded perspective. Literalism itself is not necessarily a bad quality; however, it is particularly ill suited for discussions that range off into the esoteric. Masons in such situations will inevitably find that while both of you are speaking English, you will seem to lack a common language.
It’s not unlike dealing with teenagers, in that respect.
A secondary issue is that, as blogger John Ratcliff points out, most Masons (at least, in the US) aren’t all that up to speed on the esoterica. And again, this isn’t a bad thing itself – Masonry is large, it contains multitudes. However, it does mean that most Masons will actually be unfamiliar with many of the oft-quoted paragraphs of Pike, Mackey, Hall, or Hodapp. This is perfectly normal, however, and rest assured that if you are in a discussion about Pike with an anti-Mason, he or she probably has not read much of it either. In my own experience, most of the Antis who quote Pike always quote the same paragraphs, almost as if they are reading the same books or websites by the uber-Antis who all quote exactly the same passages. Of course, I also suspect that Pike’s “Morals & Dogma” is one of the top ten books that Masons pick up and put down long before they’ve finished it.
I think that my copy makes a very nice paperweight.
Since Pike is by far the most quoted author by Anti-Masons, I think it’s worth addressing some of those points directly.
One of the most difficult things for Anti-Masons understand about the Craft (and indeed, this is true even for some old-time Master Masons, as well) is that there is no underlying philosophy, doctrine or dogma to Freemasonry on which all of the members agree. That is, while Masons are encouraged to study for their own personal improvement, and while there have been some excellent writings in the past and will likely be more in the future, not one of them is accepted as doctrinal. Indeed, even Morals & Dogma – referenced probably by more Antis than actual Masons – contains this passage in the Preface:
“The teachings of these Readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of Morality into those of other domains of Thought and Truth. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite uses the word “Dogma” in its true sense, of doctrine, or teaching; and is not dogmatic in the odious sense of that term. Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment. Of course, the ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations are not embodied as part of the doctrines of the Rite; but because it is of interest and profit to know what the Ancient Intellect thought upon these subjects, and because nothing so conclusively proves the radical difference between our human and the animal nature, as the capacity of the human mind to entertain such speculations in regard to itself and the Deity. But as to these opinions themselves, we may say, in the words of the learned Canonist, Ludovicus Gomez: “Opiniones secundum varietatem temporum senescant et intermoriantur, aliæque diversæ vel prioribus contrariæ renascantur et deinde pubescant.”
So, let’s extract the basics.
1) M&D is not an authoritative, definitive, or canonical work.
2) Masons (or more specifically, Scottish Rite Masons- Southern Jurisdiction, to whom this book was given until the early 1960s) are free to disagree with Pike’s interpretations.
3) The ancient teachings described by Pike are not even a part of the ritual; they are discussed simply as an illustration of their moral evolution.
To me, it seems pretty obvious that M&D was written for Masons interested in in exploring the nature of their relationship to their Deity, written from a perspective of comparing theology of some of the older religions dating back to the Egyptians. This point is pretty obvious to most Masons, but it somehow escapes the attention of the Antis, who are more interested in extracting short passages out of context that seem to support their position that Masonry is a religion unto itself, and possibly a demon-worshiping one, at that.
Antis also have a hard time believing that not all Masons are on board with this religion thing, much less that few Masons have actually read Pike. In trying to explain that Pike was a great thinker, but that his writing might have been above most of those who received copies of this book, they express doubt. Why would the SRSJ hand out the books if it weren’t required reading, they ask. And truth be told, the explanation does sound lame: Because no one person speaks for Freemasonry; not having a dogma, Freemasonry has no requirement that its members study any particular author. One can almost imagine the raised eyebrow while Antis pose the question: Yeah, right. You expect me to believe that your organization survived several hundred years without having so much as a mission statement?
Yes, it seems unbelievable that the fraternity has survived for centuries without some kind of “mission statement,” but it’s my opinion (and since I’m a respected Masonic writer, it must be true) that the lack of a formal doctrine has actually contributed to the longevity of the Fraternity. The Ancient Charges themselves make it clear that the essential points of membership, and the qualities venerated by the membership, are to be men who are trustworthy and honest, and who have a belief in a Supreme Being.
Yes, it’s really that simple.
Again, this is the part where non-Masons get it wrong; that some men write about Freemasonry in such loving and lofty terms often reserved for religious discussion leads some of them to assume that they do so because Freemasonry actually is a religion – albeit one in which the overwhelming majority of members don’t seem to recognize it as such.
More astounding, though, is the incredible lapse in reasoning that goes along with this thinking. What kind of religion is it in which the members don’t believe they are practicing? Furthermore, considering that most Masons in the US and UK practice some form of Christianity, what kind of religion is it in which the members believe that they belong to a different religion entirely? This is akin to visiting a synagogue or church and trying to tell the people that what they are really practicing is Santaria.
It’s amazing when you think about it; the entire purpose of the Fraternity is to be exactly that: a fraternity. To develop the bonds of friendship among those who would have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance. It’s a testament to the power of this simple bonding, the creation of friendships among men of different ages, religions, ethnic backgrounds that so many men speak so highly of their experiences with the Craft. It’s difficult to explain to an Anti, or even to a non-Mason, that feeling one gets when visiting a strange city and bumping into a person wearing a ring with the Square & Compasses, or being invited to a dinner at a strange lodge while on a business trip, or even the elevation of one’s spirits at the end of a bad day at work when walking into one’s mother lodge and being greeted by people that you know. It’s not a “religious” experience in the sense that there is nothing inherently spiritual, but it can an uplifting and calming experience, especially so for men of an age who are more accustomed to being strong and silent.
At this point, the quick-witted Anti might think to ask “If no one man speaks for Masonry, then why should I believe your explanation over those of the great authors of the last century?” This is actually a very good question, and one that Masons themselves might want to consider before we tackle it in the next installment of Freemasonarianism: The Religion of Freemasonry.