A book that sheds new light on a large spectrum of topics relating to FM, such as history, jewels, York rite, Scottish rite, misunderstandings of Freemasonry and other interesting issues. Chapters of interest: what is FM?; the inner workings of FM; the appendant bodies; FM today and tomorrow; ten groups of famous masons, ten conspirancies, anti-masons and hoaxes, the cool masonic places; three important masonic documents: the Regius Manuscript, Anderson’s Constitutions.
Although Freemasonry has some points of contact with religion and religiosity is not a religion although some institutional religions still insist it is. Part of this insistence comes from misunderstandings in what spirituality is and how Freemasonry pursues a spiritual path that isn’t an alternative path for those who have allegiance to a specific religion. Another part comes from things like rituals, oaths, investitures and Books of Sacred Law. Things that are distinctive to what institutional religions do. As we work in the East a fair question that can be raised is what distinguishes Freemasonry from Buddhism, Zen or Taoism? Freemasonry doesn’t have – first of all – a clergy, a group of pious people that is responsible for the performing of religious ceremonies and that guards and interprets religious writings. Second, although focused in the spiritual improvement of the self, Freemasonry doesn’t have methodologies – such as meditation, concentration or mantras -, to fortify this type of inner peregrination. It privileges the work, in collective form, either in session of a Lodge or in session of Instruction to transmit to the newcomers the principles, values and ritualism that characterize it. Thirdly, the relation with divinity is faint, not too demanding, as members of Lodges worship different religions and, some of them, even don’t worship any. The joining of members that worship Asian religions, or to be more accurate Asian spiritualities, is a very recent phenomenon that overlaps the spreading of the Craft throughout the East. But is an occurrence that is here to stay, and probably will direct the expansion of Freemasonry during the 21st century. If, in past centuries, Freemasonry accompanied the routes of trade, expansion and colonization by Western powers, in this century – that some call the Asian century – the Craft will be influenced by the sort of interactions that are framed in this part of the world. A consequentional question is what can be the role of the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada or the Granth Sahib as Books of Sacred Law in Lodges where Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs are Brothers?
by A.M.A. Goncalves
The Worshipful Master is, in any Masonic organization, the guardian of the tradition and of the Masonic law and a reference for the Brothers. He represents the history of the Lodge and embodies the causality of its creation. Lodges are founded all the way through different in-puts: some for reasons associated with the development of the Craft, in a certain territory; others as a platform for Brothers, which are displaced, to meet and continue to practice their art. No Lodge is identical to other. In this sense, the Venerable Maitre, as the French call it, has an important role to perform as the guider, the pilot, the commander-in-chief of the ship. In most of the Obediences this function is rotative and the Master elected to assume this duty serves one term of one single year. This happens, mostly, in Lodges with a somehow extensive history of 40 until 100 years. In younger Lodges, the need to assure a lucid leadership of the project of the Lodge requires a longer mandate as the Master of the Lodge is obliged to assure the survival of the Lodge, in the long-run. He guarantees also that the education of the new members is performed, systematically, and respecting some sort of planning. This necessity depends on the sort of Rite that the Lodge practices, as some rites are more demanding than others. Freemasonry is ritualistic in the sense that encloses a set of ceremonies and dramatizations that are inspired by well-known fables of the Ancient Testament but is not (or should not) be over dependent on them. More than empty ritualisms, Freemasonry prioritizes the cut and polish of the rough stone, expression that means that the human spirit is still gifted to make fresh progresses if attention is dedicated to it. Humans are not blank sheets of paper where all possible meanings can be written but are personalities and individualities formed by genetic content and by the experiences they go through along their lives. The Craft believes that this work is not completed and that within the Lodge and in dialogue between Brothers this process of positive modification can be achieved. It depends, essentiality, in the quality of the leadership and the theoretical preparation of the Worshipful Master. Lodges are organizations of Men, with all their qualities and wrong-doings, but is their connection and symbioses that makes that experience rewarding. When the collective of the Lodge is able to incorporate this design and exigency the Lodge becomes a reference. There are many distractions, nowadays. Many Lodges turn to be clubs where middle-age men pursue some ritualism before running into a late meal, where they tell bad jokes and drink a lot. This is a perversion of Freemasonry and, absolutely, distorts the organization purposes and traditions. The Master of the Lodge that allows this kind of perversion is responsible, in the middle-term, for the profanization of works, the grime of the aprons and of the white gloves of the Brethren. So some attention ought to be directed to the style of work and how directives are accomplished. Some members seem too susceptible when corrections are address to them by the Master of the Lodge and look at them as personal humiliation. Freemasons practice an art that has almost three centuries and as in any art correction is required if perfection is designated as a goal, a collective goal. The exemplary practitioners of today are the competent leaders of tomorrow. The opposite is also true.
The ‘All-Seeing Eye’ is an important Masonic symbol. It represents rhe omnipresence and watchfulness of the Supreme Being (or God). ‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good’ (Proverbs 15:3). It serves to remind Freemasons that we will be answerable for our actions in this life. Via Robert E. Burtt ‘A Guide to Modern Freemasonry’.
The Masonic letter G reminds us that our every act is done in the sight of the Great Architect of the Universe.
“By letters four and science five, this “G” aright doth stand, in due Art and Proportion; you have your answer, friend.”
What are the “letters four”? It is believed that they stand for “YHWH”, the name of the Great Architect of the Universe (pronounced “Yahway”. (sometimes pronounced Jehovah) in the ancient Hebrew language, from which the Bible was translated:
Which is the 5th science? Geometry.
The Letter G stands for “Geometry”, which is the mathematical science upon which Architecture and Masonry were founded.
When did the letter G become part of the Square and Compass? No one knows exactly, but it is believed to be somewhere between 1730 and 1768, here in the United States. The “G” is not used in the center of the square and compasses in all jurisdictions around the world.
In Hebrew, the language our Bible was originally written in, it is called Gheemel (or Gimel) and has a numerical value of 3.
Throughout history, we see reference to the number 3 when we speak of the Supreme Architect of the Universe…no matter which language we speak!
Gimel (in slightly different forms) is the 3rd letter of many Semitic languages including Phoenician, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Syriac.
Phonecian: Gimel (11th century BCE)
Greek: Gamma (9th century BCE)
Aramaic: Gamal (800 BCE to 600 CE) (800 years Before Common Era
to 600 years after Common Era)
Hebrew: Gimel (3rd century BCE)
Syriac: Gomal / Gamal (2nd century BCE)
G Throughout the Centuries
B.C.E. means “Before Common Era”. The Common Era (C.E.), also known as the Christian Era and sometimes as the Current Era, is the period beginning with the year 1 onwards.
The term is used for a system of reckoning years that is chronologically equivalent to the Anno Domini (A.D.), which is Latin for “In the year of our Lord”.
Therefore, the 3rd letter of the Phonecian alphabet, “gimel”, was in use 11 centuries Before the Common Era, which is 8 centuries before the Hebrew language…give or take a few hundred years.
Why give or take a few hundred years? While scholars who study languages are very thorough; we have to remember that they have very little from which to study.
Much of our knowledge of ancient languages comes from the study of hieroglyphics carved into stone and the subsequent attempt to determine which time frame they were carved; from mummies and their accompanying sarcophagi (carved wooden coffins), etc.
Note, however that while the letter G is the 7th letter in the English, Latin and Romanic alphabets, in Russian, and some others, it is 4th; in the Arabic the 5th, and in the Ethiopian language, the 20th.
These languages are much “younger” than the “ancient” languages and most, therefore, are propagations (changes that occurred) to the ancient languages throughout the centuries due to many factors.
The letter G in Freemasonry stands for both the Great Architect of the Universe and Geometry….or, to be more technically correct, it stands for Geometry under the Great Architect of the Universe.
Just as the Supreme Architect of the Universe watches the revolutions of the planets and stars in the sky, so does HE, who placed each of us here, watch each of our movements, hears not only our words, but our thoughts, as well …and it is to HIM that we are ultimately responsible.
Sympathy of the Masonic Lodge of Education http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/letter-g.html
by Bro:. Placido (M:.M:.)
One of the fundamental characteristics of pedagogy work in Freemasonry lies in the use of the symbol as a way of communication and the representation of concepts and useful ideas of the old medieval builders.
If we were to ask ourselves even in the profane world that is the symbol most extended universally and that which expresses best the philosophical of Freemasonry and its ideals, this would be without doubt the Square and the Compass. It is not so much a matter of opposite duality but more of a furthering and, in some case, deals with two instruments that permit the realization of works assigned to two geometrical structures that are completely different and contradictory on the flat: the square and the circle. However, if we were to ignore any other instruments belonging to the Lodges, it would be sufficient understanding the significance of the Square and Compass within the masonic symbolism and their use to rebuild all the philosophy of Freemasonry.
The Square and the Compass, for their vast symbolic meanings, are in themselves silent books, it is not unusual that they are placed upon the Book of the Sacred Law, that transmits the transcendence of the human being, and that the three constitute the “Three Great Lights” that should illuminate the path of a Mason. The function of the Square is to measure magnitudes of the material world whilst the Compass measures angles; the first means an approximation to the world of quantity, the second to the quality and the essence. For this reason the square can be traced with the Square is the symbol of the material world and the circle that appears using the Compass is of the Spiritual world. It is not a coincidence that in some medieval paintings they assimilate God with the Great Architect of the Universe, represented with his attribute of creator: the Compass.
Traditionally the interpretation of the Compass within the Lodge is that of the representation of Equality, the distance between the centre of the circumference, that is established with one arm of the compass, representing the Mason, and whichever of the points of its tracing is always the same. In the same way there are other interpretations of this tool within the iconography of the Workshop. Once in use within the Lodge, the Compass generally shows two angulations: open at 90 degrees indicates the angle that one cannot surpass, the limit of manifestation and, for this very reason, the equilibration of its two arms; open at 45 degrees suggest equilibration between antithetical forces, placed in a dynamic and constructive manner.
We can also use interpretations in some decorations of buildings commissioned by Masons.
Precisely one can see a Compass used by the muse Urania accompanying Saturn in the cusp of the House of the Philanthropist Joan Xifré in Barcelona. On this frieze one can see the pregnant muse as assimilation to Balkis, the Queen of Saba, lover of Hiram Abiff that, after leaving him he was murdered by Jubelón, Jubelas and Jubelai, was pregnant by him: from this symbolic episode of the legend of Hiram it is for this that the Masons take the name of being the Sons of the Widow. Using the association between Urania and Saturn we can confirm that in masonic cosmology the Compass is, at the same time, the emblem of Geometry and of Astronomy, measuring the angulations of the earth and of the sky and permitting its insertion into the interpretations of both worlds. It is, therefore, not unusual that originally Saturn was a land divinity and its relation with the Compass was motivated by the necessity to plow up and measure the ground.
All the mobility of the Compass is fixity to the Square. That is how to interpret and understand the meaning of the jewel that hangs from the collar and represents the W.’.M.’. of the Lodge, his will is none other than to make sure the Constitutions and Statutes of the Order are adhered to. He is free for that reason; but to access this noble rank he has to believe in the other attribute derivative from the Square: righteousness that he must characterize above any other virtue; he should never give in to weakness, he should have the strength to uphold against anyone who wishes to change the subject and aspire to be a perfect person where perfection is measured by the grade identification established within the Constitutions.
Look at how the two symbols of the Square and the Compass appear, in their simplicity, as the three possible situations in a spiritual world. Being the Square the instrument through which is delimited and traces the possible forms of the material world, squares, rectangles, straight lines; the Compass being contrary is delimited to create a circle as the image of the Absolute, in which it has the beginning and the end in itself. Therefore, the Compass symbolizes the Sky and the Square symbolizes the earth. When we see the Square superimposed on the Compass this indicates to us a situation of mastery of the subject; if, by the contrary, the Compass and the Square are interlaced, this situation tells us of the equilibrium of the forces between the material and spiritual world. If, finally, the Compass is superimposed on the Square it is clear the spiritual domination. This defines the first three grades of Masonry, its symbolic contents and its metaphysical qualities. Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master.
By analogy we can identify the Greek letters gamma (G) with the Square and lambda (I) with the Compass.
As we know in Masonry, one of the symbols most habitually used is the letter “G” set within a star. The “G” corresponds to the gamma as in geometry – the initial being also “G” – it is the fifth science in the numerology of the liberal arts. The quintessence of the manifested world and symbolized by the four arms that make up the svastica that could symbolize in evolution, likewise, the five pointed star. This symbol normally appears between the Square and the Compass and can also be interpreted as the third of the Three Lights, representing the Book of the Law, whose image symbolizes the transcendence of the values of humanity. These values are developed internally individually and with the journey of Freemasonry the mason gives shape to the interpretation of the Masonic Secret. We can deduce here that the use of the expression “between the Square and the Compass” as a term that reflects the masonic secret which is not communicated to the profane world or is kept in the intimacy of the masons. In the same way we find the use of the expression “between the Square and the Compass” in the masonic vocabulary as a term that indicates that the Freemason is guided by the Ancient Uses and Customs of Masonry in the case of doubt if the Landmarks were being violated or that he himself considers his attitude is supported by them, or for projection, by his values, of equity and straightness.
From the numerological point of view an interpretation with esoteric criteria con also enter. The value of gamma is 3 and the lambda is 30 – the Square and the Compass added together makes a total of 33 being the number of grades that exist in the Scottish Freemasonry.
The interpretation of both tools individually or together allows for an infinite number of readings. Although here they appear in their interpretation as almost scholastic we can synthesize up to this point that separately they are normally interpreted as icons of Equality and Straightness and that together they represent dual coexistence of the two compliments of balance: of the dynamic, the immovable, of progress and tradition, a total and actual reflection that Freemasonry in the 21st Century intends to translate to society.
(Alicante – Bro.’. Placido. M.’.M.’.)