Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Worried About the Shrine?

See below, it is that easy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Common Declaration Released by Five European Grand Lodges

Yesterday the five Grand Lodges of Europe put out a statement a little after a year of the Declaration of Basel, praising the efforts of The Masonic Confederation of France, interesting enough they still refuse to recognize the Grande Lodge Nationale Francaise (GLNF) regardless of their disposed leader, due to in fighting and lack of real change within the organization.  I have attached the letter for your review and left the text below, for those that don't want to download anything from the internet. ;)


Assessing the situation in France one year after their Declaration of Basel calling for a recomposition of the French Masonic landscape, the United Grand Lodges of Germany, The Grand Lodges of Austria and Luxembourg, The Swiss Grand Lodge Alpina and the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium issue the following statement:

     They take note with sincere satisfaction of the birth of the French Masonic Confederation which subscribes explicitly to the principles and spirit of the Declaration made in Basel of 10. June 2012. They appreciate the importance of the work that has been done by the jurisdictions concerned, their mutual trust and understanding, as well as their will and determination to succeed.

     They are pleased with the enthusiasm this birth arouses among the many Brethren who aspire to practice traditional Freemasonry. They are happy that the chance to start building a French Masonry of the future has been seized. They note the Confederation’s commitment to continue without delay to set up its institutional structures, and while not wanting to interfere, as made clear in their Brussels communication of the 12th of September 2012, they will nonetheless gladly offer in this matter all the advice they might be asked for.

     They are convinced that with the dynamism shown up to now the Confederation will succeed in this respect. Finally they are also appreciative of the clear will as expressed by the Confederation to reach satisfactory solutions regarding all other prerequisites to its future recognition by the universal family of Regular Grand Lodges and will support it in this endeavor. The five Grand Lodges also remind the fact that their call of Basel was addressed to all those who wish to adhere to Regular Traditional Freemasonry and thus, despite their withdrawal of recognition, to the Grande Loge Nationale Française too. They nonetheless believe that first the latter will have to acknowledge the real and underlying causes of its major crisis, some of which are in their view stemming from a long lasting drift which cannot be explained by the excesses of one man only. They are indeed convinced that the harmony and peace which apparently have been restored within the Grande Loge Nationale Française are not sufficient to warrant its true and lasting renewal, but that positive actions going at the roots of its recent turmoil will have to follow.

Grand Lodge of Austria A.F. & A.M., M. W. Bro. Nikolaus Schwärzler,
GM Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium, M. W. Bro. Eli Peeters, GM
United Grand Lodges of Germany, M. W. Bro. Rüdiger Templin,
GM Grand Lodge of Luxembourg, M. W. Bro. Jacques HANSEN,
GM Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland, M. W. Bro. Jean-Michel Mascherpa, GM

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Rite of the Black Eagle Part 3 of 3

As we finish up our series on the Rite of the Black Eagle, it is interesting to note that the drama of the first portion is similar to the second.  The preamble if you will for the candidate before he is to receive the final degree is interesting in the twists that the Order took over some of the fundamentals that we were taught in the Webb ritual later here in America.  As stated in Part 1, the degree crumbles with more Kabbalahism, intertwines with Alchemy and Masonic fundamentals.

The Synagogue in Leiden, Netherlands
The Mason is told before the drama of the third grade begins that as they have been proceeding from grade to grade within the Order of Knights of the Black Eagle that the work must be other raising edifices to the True God or the practice of moral virtues.  It is a recreation of the philosophy which was known and practiced by Solomon, who would from time to time initiate selected few men into Kabbalastic secrets.  This was the first Masons of old that later would transfer their knowledge to Brethren in later ages in types and hieroglyphs.  The Order of Black Knights possess the keys to this knowledge as transmitted by a Rabbinical doctor named Naamuth, who was chief of the synagogue of Leiden in Holland.

The drama for the third degree is somewhat subservient to that of the first in the fact that the candidate has to simulate the death of a Mason.  The candidate is then hoodwinked and is forced to touch the dead body laid fully out with his hand.  As in so many Masonic Rites, the candidate is
Cow Heart
then taken on a series of circumambulations during which time, the man who is was playing dead moves and a cow or bull heart is put in his place.  Then the candidate is required to stab the heart in an attempt to prove his fortitude.

The candidate is then led to the door of the Chapter, bearing the heart on a dagger, which grants him access as proof of his bravery.  Once in the Chapter the candidate is then required to take a pledge and is then entrusted and clothes with the insignia of the Grade.

The candidate is then taught that he must dwell month to month in each of the Houses of Heaven(1), awaiting the beneficent visitation of the life-giving Star of Day (Most likely a reference to Venus).  The candidate is then given instruction and directly asked to perform work on himself, after completion of this task, the candidate is explained the four elements of matter which is to be regarded as dead.  It is represented by the dead body of the Master-Builder, destroyed by the ruffians.  The philosophical work is the restoration to life, by means of the Tree of Life signified by the branch of acacia.  Among the tools mentioned as belonging to the art and essential there unto are the before-mentioned Balance of Solomon and Kabbalistic Pentacle, comprising all celestial virtues, being a copy of that which was carried by the Jewish King, the Master-Builder and other Master Masons of a far-off time.

The South Side of Mount Hebron
(Photo from 
At this point the candidate is then directed his attention to the region of the setting sun and to the mystical Mount Hebron.  The candidate is then reminded of the two pillars of speculative masonry are said to be raised thereon.  That which signifies strength represents the matter of the work, while that which corresponds with beauty typifies the work accomplished.

The candidate is reminded that the degree of Entered Apprentice is comparable to the beginning of the work; in the Fellowcraft degree the mason sees the beauty of the elementary matter, and he becomes a Master Mason when he has designed upon his tracing board the fixed path of the Sun.

The Black Eagle appears to denote the fixed state of the matter, which in itself is formless.  When form is impressed thereon it assumes various colors in successive stages, until a brilliant sun is manifested, representing the changing matter into gold.  The successive stages are illustrated to the candidate are the Houses of Heaven (mentioned earlier), through which the formless matter must be passed, that it may attain form and beauty.  The birth of the sun, or the fulfillment of the term of the work, represented by the Blazing Star, and it is said that the Morning Star which heralds the birth of the Sun is accompanied by the silver freshness of the moon.

The rough ashlar represents the matter in its chaotic state and the Perfect Ashlar, is the same matter when the perfect form of gold has been impressed thereon.

Alchemical Propositions:

The candidate is then instructed by the catechism that is attached to this grade:

1 - It is explained that gold is not metal, physically speaking, seeing that is all spirit and is an emblem of divinity because it is incapable of corruption

2 - It is produced by an intimate alliance of the six metals, Lead, Tin, Iron, Copper, Mercury and Silver, each of which contains a seed.

3 - Raymund Lully was one of those great philosphers who accomplished the marriage of the spouse with these six virgins, and the Messiah was begotten therefrom.

4 - As regards the Alkahest referred to in the Second Grade it is composed by effecting an alliance between the four simple elements extracted from the three kingdoms of nature.

The Three Kingdoms of Nature

(1 - This is in reference to the 12 houses of Heaven, first written about in 1659 by the late Sir George Wharton, to learn more Click Here)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Book Review of “A Traditional Observance Lodge ‘One Mason’s Journey to Fulfillment’”

   Brother Cliff Porter recently released his third book, on Traditional Observance lodges, something which is near and dear to his heart. The sometimes controversial Bro Porter has been a longtime advocate and champion of the Traditional Lodge system and practice. It was natural for him to write a book on the subject to discuss practices, challenges and defend to a certain extent criticisms of Traditional Observance lodges.

     For those that don’t know the Traditional Observance Lodge movement was started in 1993 in Australia, which led to the creation of Lodge Epicurean No. 906. These brothers wanted to know why membership was declining in Australian lodges when membership in some European lodges seemed to be holding steady if not growing. Their research showed that these European lodges with a growth of membership had several characteristics. They were difficult to join and took the longest to proceed through the degrees, up to 5 years for a man to be raised a Master Mason. Candidates had to participate in rigorous education program and had to exhibit a solid understanding to the degrees to be advance to the next degree, not just memorization. These lodges also had top quality meals and degree work, to ensure the experience. Lastly the lodge dues were significantly higher, costing approximately 500-700 pounds a year to be a member ($1000-$1400). Lodges generally were not allowed to grow beyond 50 brothers, and when that did happen would split and form a new lodge to continue the work. In 2001 the Masonic Restoration Foundation (MRF) was established and started formalizing the idea of Traditional Observance lodges in America (more on that later).

     The book starts out with Bro Porters account of Masonic influence in his childhood, and later in his adult life joining Freemasonry. The disappointment he felt over a poorly delivered degree and lack of reverence for the event. He then explains the philosophy of a Traditional Lodge system, practical application of the system and defends its practices to detractors and naysayers within the craft. Bro Porter also gives an outline of how they formed his Traditional Observance Lodge, Enlightenment #198 in Colorado Springs, and the lessons learned from that event The book outlines some of the causes and common complaints about American Freemasonry. These are nothing new to a brother who has had conversations regarding the state of the craft. Including subjects like, boring meetings, horrible food, poorly done ritual, progressive lines, etc. The challenges in establishing a higher level of quality in Freemasonry, and of course challenging some of our mislead beliefs. Bro Porter spent significant amount of time referencing the proper literature to make his argument and to frame respectively the foundations of the Traditional Observance lodge. He goes into great detail the initiation process for a candidate with Enlightenment #198 and the results of their diligence and dedication to the craft.

     Overall the book is well done, but there are a couple of areas that are problematic or annoying. First, at times the book reads like an infomercial for the MRF, while the MRF is a clearing house of sorts for T.O. there are plenty of other areas to look to, and don’t have the stink of a Masonic organization. Correspondence with the author revealed that the MRF no longer allows for open card carrying membership, and that only members of the board of directors are considered actual members of the MRF. Interestingly enough only a couple of board members are mentioned by name on the website, which is unusual. I caution involvement of this organization because of its nebulous state, be sure to check with your Grand Lodge before getting involved. Bro Porter does acknowledge that the MRF had serious missteps when it started, including proclaiming it as a certifier of what is and what isn't a Traditional Observance lodge. This set up the MRF as a shadow or secondary Grand Lodge within a Grand Lodge. Having two supervisors is never fun, ask anyone who has spent any time in the military, this concept was unpopular in more than one jurisdiction. Also, in the end Traditional Observance need to allow lodges to be flexible in their striving for a better Masonic experience, and not replace boring reading of the minutes, with boring Masonic papers. The Masonic Restoration Foundation has changed that, and is now more of a clearing house for T.O. lodges, not a certifier of them.

    Bro Porter did not address in his book the low numbers that T.O. lodges need to be to ensure a quality Masonic experience. Getting a new charter can be a difficult and arduous process, you have to have 50 brethren, all lodges in the area have to agree, etc. When I asked Bro Porter about this he did say that when a split off happens, the group usually takes over a dying lodges charter, something that is far easier than starting over from scratch, but has its own baggage. The book also can be over defensive of the T.O. practice and in particular the uses of the Chamber of Reflection and the Union Chain, neither of which were ever part of the Webb ritual. My stance is that when the apendent bodies can properly implement the Chamber of Reflection, discussions can take place about it being used in the Blue Lodge initiation experience, as Bro Porter points out it has been done since some of the earliest recordings of our fraternity.

    So who should read this book? Not a man interested in becoming a Mason, and not a brother who is a new Master Mason. Honestly this book is for the Mason that sits and asks, “Why are men not coming to lodge, and what can we do about it?” The book will most likely upset you at some point, and realize that we have to challenge each other if we wish to improve ourselves, not tightly hold misconceptions of what men and brothers want from our great fraternity.

   In the end Bro Cliff Porter wants us to do exactly what we were charged to do and make our lodges “a place where Masons assemble and work” (Anderson’s Constitution, 1723, page 50). In other words to make and employ Masons which means for the speculative portion of our craft to initiate, pass, raise, educate, continue to educate and spur on the work for Masons, and for that I am grateful for him.