Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: Freemason Philosophy of the 21st Century by Bro. Jack Buta

Masonic author and Masonic Legend Bro Jack Buta wrote a book about Freemason Philosophy in the 21st Century.  It was serendipitous that Bro Buta put out a call for reviewers of his new book, and that I just completed the journey of the Scottish Rite.  For those that know me, I joined Chapter, Council and Commandery shortly after being raised (4-5 months).  I stayed in the York Rite, this was in part because of my deployment schedule, but also because I really enjoy the degrees and the lessons they bestow on us as Freemasons.  I waited 5 years until I received the degrees of the Scottish Rite, which is five more than most active Freemasons wait, still it was worth it.  After going through the reunion my head felt full, like there was so much information, that there was no way that I could mentally digest it all.  When you go through a Reunion you have two choices, try to take it all in, or fall asleep, I decided the former was better.

Still, the symbolism and the degrees are so much that it was like an entire menu at a fine restaurant, put in a blender and force feed to you, directly in your stomach.  When I got done, I was drained, came home and slept, much to annoyance of my wife.

Bro Buta's book is an attempt to help a Freemason like myself who had just gotten the degrees communicated to him a chance to internalize and understand what each degree means.  He does this by calling on three staples of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Morals and Dogma, A Bridge to Light and Scottish Rite Monitor and Guide.  Bro Buta in plan terms explains both the degree, it's direct impact on both himself and every man and highlights Albert Pikes lectures.  The book in my opinion, should be read by every newly minted 32nd SR Mason, as it allows for us to start the journey to understand the beauty and symbolism of the degrees.  Bro Buta wove into the book his personal experiences in life and how the degrees manifested themselves for him, which I thought was beautiful.  Some of the stories I knew before, interacting with Bro Buta since I was first initiated, but took these stories took on even greater meaning reading them here.

Purist and esoteric nerds will sit and complain that Bro Buta is projecting the degrees onto others, but frankly we have to start somewhere, and Bro Buta does just that, he gives you a start.  Well written and very readable, Bro Buta put together a book that I would handily recommend to any brother starting his SR journey.

The criticism I have of the book is Bro Buta does show his hand a little bit on the politics side of things, which is in the vein of Pike during his day.  Freemasonry in America is devoid of any political discussion to keep lodges from tearing themselves apart, still to say that the degrees don't have an impact on our political view points is a lie.  I personally didn't agree with some of Bro Buta's assertions that the invasion of Iraq was directly from the attacks of 9/11, yet he claims it several times in his book.  The emotional nature of these things can turn a reader off to his message, and offend their senses.  I knew what Bro Buta's intent was, but some may lose it along the way.

If you are a newly minted Scottish Rite Mason or if you have been at it for a long time, I would recommend this book, if nothing more than to reground yourself in the message that Albert Pike was trying to bestow on us, without reading Pike of course.  :)

I will write more of my Scottish Rite experience later, and this book has greatly help in the first steps.

-Bro Vick

Bro Buta's Book on

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grand Lodge De France Federal Council Responds to the Declaration of Basel

     I received this yesterday, but it appears that that the Grand Lodge de France had a tiled meeting to discuss the results of the Declaration of Basel and it's intended path forward. The Grand Master has in essence said that he completely agrees with Declaration of Basel and feels that the GLdF has always been and always be the only regular form of Freemasonry in France. GLdF also believes that in France is the only one that has a sound tradition of the Scottish Rite.

    While to the outsider it would be reasonable assumption that the GLdF may become the only recognized form of Freemasonry in France, it is not that simple. The GLdF and UGLE haven't had a great history together and splinter groups from the GLNF are fighting each other for both control of name of GLNF and more importantly UGLE's recognition. French Freemasonry has been a place of contention and confusion for most Western Freemasons.

 While I would like to be optimistic regarding the future of both the GLdF and French Freemasonry, history has dictated otherwise. Below is the translated document from the GLdF:


The Federal Council of the Grand Lodge of France, in its formal meeting of Wednesday, June 13, 2012, -- after learning of the "Basel Declaration", co-signed June 9, 2012 by the Grand Lodges of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and -- heard the Most Worshipful Grand Master Alain-Noël Dubart report on the exchanges of views started in accordance with the mandate he was given on September 9, 2011, 

 • notes the withdrawal of the recognition of the French National Grand Lodge by these Jurisdictions and the break of their Masonic relations. 

 • welcomes the fact that the views of these five Grand Lodges concerning the Grand Lodge of France appears to conform to the reality concerning the quality of the latter’s Brothers and the regularity of their work. 

 • reminds everyone that the Grand Lodge of France has always been, since its origins dating back nearly three centuries, in the purest tradition of universal Freemasonry and the fundamental principles of the Scottish Rite. 

 • notes that it is from now on possible to engage the necessary reflections concerning the recomposing of the French Masonic landscape. 

 • gives mandate to the MW Brother Alain-Noël Dubart and the RW Brothers Alain Pigeau and Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, current Grand Master, Grand Orator and Grand Chancellor, to continue the current exchanges and achieve, under the authority of the next Most Worshipful Grand Master, the restoration of the historical ties reuniting the Grand Lodges working in accordance with the Universal Masonic Tradition. 

 • endorses the will of the Most Worshipful Grand Master not to exclude any Brother from this restructuring, whatever the latter’s practice and Grand Lodge. 

Jean-Noël Dubart

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Edict From Masonic Grand Lodge of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

See below from Australia, it appears as the Grand Master has directly defined what is considered 'esoteric' within the confines of his definition of Freemasonry. He also outlines what is not "esoteric" as "occultism, sorcery, alchemy, astrology, profane mysticism, transcendentalism, supernaturalism, druidism, rosicrucianism, satanism or any concept or movement related to any of these." The argument for this edit was that there were certain lines and teachings occurring that were about as closely related to Freemasonry as I am related to the president of the United States.

Charges are that certain Freemasons were using the term 'esoteric' as a way to teach/preach non-mainstream religious tendencies and as a recruitment tool within the order. The glaring issue is that of course this stifles any discussions of the above and how Freemasonry works and is inspired by them. Rosicrucianism for instance is still a topic of debate and its influence on Freemasonry (some believe it was the foundation, others deny that as its foundation on faith, hope and charity). The issue with this edict is that stifles these types of debates, academic research, etc.

 On the other hand the use of Freemasonry as a recruiting tactic for some cult should be addressed as it has the potential to bring serious shame to our order. I don't believe that this edict was the right approach to curb illegal recruitment, but will cause stagnation in the spiritual growth of a Freemason, no matter path it may take him.


-Bro Vick

 GRAND MASTER'S EDICT ANNOUNCED AT THE GRAND COMMUNICATION - 13th JUNE, 2012 On 12 May 2010 the Board of Management passed a resolution stating the principles governing esoteric research. These principles are central to the practice of Regular Freemasonry. In order that there be no doubt that they bind every brother and Lodge in this jurisdiction I have decided to make them the subject of a Grand Master's edict. At my request the Board of Management has rescinded its resolution so that it may be substituted with the following edict which takes effect immediately.

 1. Authorised, official Masonic Education and Instruction is only 'Regular' when applied to Free and Accepted or Speculative Masonry (Regular Freemasonry).

 2. Because of the widely divergent interpretations which can be placed upon it, I am concerned about the unqualified use of the word "esoteric", or any of its derivatives or extensions, within Regular Freemasonry. Such use needs to be avoided as it has been and can be misconstrued to the detriment of the Craft.

 3. I encourage all Masons to make daily progress in the acquisition of Masonic knowledge. Speculation and discussion within the Landmarks of the Order are to be commended.

 4. Within Regular Freemasonry, interpretive discussion and exposition concern only the progressive acquisition of Masonic knowledge towards an understanding of the secrets and mysteries of the Craft, promoting the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. To avoid any misapprehension, such regular discussion and exposition shall be described as "speculative" and the term "esoteric" shall not be applied.

5. Regular Freemasonry does not permit within it any form of esotericism which encompasses or tends towards – occultism, sorcery, alchemy, astrology, profane mysticism, transcendentalism, supernaturalism, druidism, rosicrucianism, satanism or any concept or movement related to any of these. The presentation, endorsement and/or promotion of such subjects in any Lodge holding under the UGL of NSW and ACT whether the Lodge be open, adjourned, at refreshment or closed or at any connected or associated Lodge function should be deemed irregular and is strictly forbidden.

 6. Any breach of this Edict constitutes serious unmasonic conduct and shall be treated accordingly.

 7. The Grand Master from time to time may grant dispensations to permit the presentation of papers on esotericism which would otherwise constitute a breach of this edict. A dispensation may be granted on such terms and conditions as the Grand Master may impose. An application for a dispensation must be made to the Grand Master in writing through the Grand Secretary. Normally it will only be granted if the proposed paper is a genuine and proper piece of masonic research.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Declaration of Basel

Received this today, it appears that from the meeting of the Grand Lodges of Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland have put out the Declaration of Basel:

Two major points that were highlighted:

1)  All five Grand Lodges have decided to withdraw recognition from the Grande Lodge Nationale Francaise

2)  The Grand Lodges have called on teh Grand Lodge de France to "step up to the plate", from the declaration:

"The five Grand Lodges believe therefore, that there is an historic chance for the Grand Lodge de France to realise its aspiration assuming all the necessary choices are complied with, especially the need
 - to continue work in accordance with the fundamental principles of regular freemasonry.
- to sever unambiguously remaining links with irregular Obediences
- to respect the international customs and traditions governing the relation between a Grand Lodge and a Supreme Council"

While not a surprise, interesting enough.

-Bro Vick