Volume 18 Issue 4 No. 134 April 2021
Cover Story, Who Am I? - Lessons from Les Miserables That Ancient Square Mediocrity in Masonry - Shame on us! Did You Know? The North East Angle Lodge St. James Operative Lodge No 97 Famous Freemasons – Victor Hugo The Old Past Master The Second Degree – An Appreciation The Deacons Staffs Centres and Circles Masonic Light The Back Page – The Real Freemasonry 1 Main Website – ‘Mark Masonry’
In this Issue: Cover Story ‘Who Am I?’ Lessons from Les Miserables This article looks at the lessons to be learnt from Victor Hugo’s book, and compares them to the ethical lessons and virtues of Freemasonry Page 5, ‘That Ancient Square’ Our Oldest and most important symbol. Page 9, ‘Mediocrity in Masonry - Shame on us!’ Page 11, ‘Did You Know?’ Questions about the Craft. Page 13, ‘The North East Angle’ The Journey from Darkness to light. Page 15, ‘Lodge St. James Operative No. 97’ A History of one of our Old Scottish Lodges. Page 19, ‘Victor Hugo’ Famous Freemasons. Page 23, ‘The Old Past Master.’ “Those Legends”, Twenty-first in the series. Page 25, ‘Reflections.’ The Second Degree - An Appreciation Page 27, ‘The Deacons Staffs.’ A connection with the Operatives Page 29, ‘Centres and Circles’. Page 30, “Masonic Light” Page 32, ‘The Back Page.’ The Real Freemasonry. In the Lectures website The article for this month is ‘Mark Masonry’ . [link] Front cover –Stock picture of an old poster from the book of Les Miserables.
Who Am I? Lessons from Les Miserables
Who Am I? Valjean encounters numerous ethical dilemmas as he strives to live the virtuous life, but the following episode is most revealing. Valjean, who changed his name to M. Madeleine to protect his identity, learns that another man, a feeble-minded old beggar, has been mistakenly arrested as Jean Valjean by Javert and is facing a court trial. Valjean ponders the dilemma in his own mind. Should he let this lesser man suffer the consequences and free the real Valjean from Javert’s endless pursuit, or should he proclaim his moral duty to reveal who he really is, even if it means being sent back to prison. In the musical version he exclaims “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned.” Valjean reveals his real identity and the story takes a significant turn. The consequences of his confession didn’t matter to him because he had already established a moral rule inside himself.
If you’ve not read Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables, or seen one of the half dozen movie versions, or attended the musical, or caught the latest film musical, then I encourage you to do so, for it is a lesson in the virtue of compassion that spans a lifetime, and you will find many parallels to the ethical lessons we encounter in Masonry. The story is much too broad to cover in detail here, so we’ll touch on the two key characters and their relationships. The setting is France in the early 1800’s:
Think back to your obligations as a Mason and the consequences of those obligations. Valjean would likely have been a good Mason for he exemplifies the great tenets of our institution.
Jean Valjean – imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family, he is finally paroled but embittered. A priest offers him refuge, but Valjean steals some pieces of silver. He’s later captured by police and brought back to the abbey. The priest lies to the police and gives Valjean two precious candlesticks claiming Valjean had forgotten to take them as part of a gift by the priest. Valjean, overwhelmed by the priest’s forgiveness, decides to redeem himself. He breaks parole, changes his name, and 8 years later is a respected factory owner and mayor.
Brotherly Love – “By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and poor . . .” Valjean could have easily relented and let the poor beggar suffer the consequences, but Brotherly Love prevailed. Relief – “To relieve the distressed . . . to soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries . . .” Valjean contemplates the dilemma, “Can I condemn this man to slavery. Pretend I do not feel his agony(?) . . .” Compassion prevailed.
Inspector Javert – knew Valjean as a prisoner and relentlessly pursues him for years for having broken parole. Javert is a strict adherent to rules, and despite Valjean’s transformation to a virtuous life, he intends to bring Valjean to justice. 3
Truth – “Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue.” Valjean concludes his statement before the jury “And so Javert, you see it’s true, That man bears no more guilt than you!, Who am I? 24601! (the prisoner number tattooed on his arm). Truth prevailed.
his life on the run. He chooses to be merciful and Javert proves incapable of comprehending why he made this decision. Javert, however, continues the pursuit, captures Valjean and tells him “It’s a pity the rules don’t allow me to be merciful.” But Javert, now for the first time, faces doubt (how can I arrest Valjean when he spared my life?) yet he cannot reconcile his belief that the law is always right no matter what the consequences. He releases Valjean and then commits suicide by jumping into the Seine River.
Valjean’s experience may be an extreme example, but the question of “Who am I?” should resound with every Mason when confronted with dilemmas that challenge the three great tenets of our fraternity. Valjean’s episode also demonstrates commitment to a virtuous life. You can’t be a paragon of virtue in one segment of your life and be one who acts with total disregard for one’s rights in another.
The lessons and virtues that we encounter in the three degrees of Masonry are extensive, and despite how many times we hear them, there are always different ways that we might interpret and apply them. Take for instance the Entered Apprentice lecture that describes “Justice”:
Javert and Justice Inspector Javert has spent his entire life in accordance with the law. By never breaking the law himself and believing that those who do are immoral, he has circumscribed himself into a space where there is only justice and no mercy. There is a sense of perfection in the way he thinks. His idea of a good person goes along the lines of Thomas Aquinas’s belief that in order to be a good person you must have the following four virtues: justice, fortitude, temperance, and prudence, those four cardinal virtues that were explained to us in the Entered Apprentice Degree. Javert’s fault lies in trumping the virtues with Justice.
“Justice is that standard, or boundary of right, which enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with divine and human laws, but is the very cement and support of civil society; and as justice in a great measure constitutes the real good man, so should it be the invariable practice of every Mason never to deviate from the minutest principles thereof, . . “ One might say this accurately describes Javert. He never deviated from the minutest principles. But that would be unfair to the legacy of Masonry, for the principles of brotherly love, relief and truth, the cardinal principles of justice, fortitude, temperance, prudence, and the multitude of other ethical principles presented in our rituals, lectures and charges gives us a framework for the virtuous life.
Near the end of the Les Miserables story, Javert is captured by student revolutionaries as a spy of the French government. Valjean, supporting the revolutionaries, tells the students he will “take care of Javert” and slips away with him to a back alley. Valjean now has the decision of killing his long-time adversary, or being merciful and continuing
However, that framework of ethics can be complex and messy, and can sometimes 4
THAT ANCIENT SQUARE
result in agonizing decisions, as experienced by Valjean. We all confront those tough decisions in our own way. The lessons of Les Miserables are the virtues of love and compassion that conquers all adversities. However you interpret “light” in Masonry, you will likely find those virtues, and you will likely answer the question of;
What one symbol is most typical of Freemasonry as a whole? Mason and nonMason alike, nine times out of ten, will answer, "The Square!" Many learned writers on Freemasonry have denominated the square as the most important and vital, most typical and common symbol of the ancient Craft. Mackey terms it "one of the most important and significant symbols."
“Who am I?” Who Am I? - Lessons from Les Miserables by Larry Jacobsen. This article appeared in “The Nebraska Mason” magazine and was extracted from that periodical by the Editor of SRA76.
Quotes of Victor Hugo;
McBride said: "-In Masonry or building, the great dominant law is the law of the square." Newton's words glow: "Very early the square became an emblem of truth, justice and righteousness, and so it remains to this day, though uncountable ages have passed. Simple, familiar, eloquent; it brings from afar a sense of wonder of the dawn, and it still teaches a lesson we find it hard to learn."
“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” “From remotest antiquity, the human race has employed architecture as its chief means of writing.” “From a political point of view, there is but one principle, the sovereignty of man over himself. This sovereignty of myself over myself is called Liberty.”
Haywood speaks of: "—Its history, so varied and so ancient, its use, so universal."
“God is behind everything, but everything hides God. Things are black, creatures are opaque. To love a being is to render that being transparent.”
MacKensie: "An important emblem passed into universal acceptance."
“History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal; to depict eternal man beneath momentary man.”
In his encyclopedia, Kenning copied Mackey's phrase. Klein reverently denominates it "The Great Symbol." I Kings, describing the Temple, states that "all the doors and the posts were square." It is impossible definitely to say that the square is the oldest symbol in Freemasonry; who may determine when the circle, triangle or square first impressed men's minds? But the square is older than history. Newton 5
speaks of the oldest building known to man: "- A prehistoric tomb found in the sands at Hieraconpolis, is already right angled."
The ancient Greek name of the square was "gnomon," from whence comes our word "knowledge." The Greek letter "gamma" formed like a square standing on one leg, the other pointing to the right - in all probability derived from the square, and "gnomon," in turn, derived from the square which the philosophers knew was at the root of their mathematics.
Masonically the word "square" has the same three meanings given the syllable by the world: (1) The conception of right angleness - our ritual tells us that the square is an angle of ninety degrees, or the fourth of a circle; (2) The builder's tool, one of our working tools, the Master's own immovable jewel; (3) That quality of character which has made "a square man" synonymous not only with a member of our Fraternity, but with uprightness, honesty and dependability.
Democritus, old philosopher, according to Clement of Alexandria, once exulted: "In the construction of plane figures with proof, no one has yet surpassed me, not even the Harpedonaptae of Egypt." In the truth of his boast we have no interest, but much in the Harpedonaptae of Egypt. The names means, literally, "rope stretchers" or "Rope fasteners." In the Berlin museum is a deed, written on leather, dating back to 2,000 B.C. which speaks of the work of rope stretchers; how much older rope stretching may be, as a means of constructing a square, is unknown, although the earliest known mathematical hand-book (that of Ahmes, who lived in the sixteenth or seventeenth Hyskos dynasty in Egypt, and is apparently a copy of a much older work which scholars trace back to 3400 B.C.), does not mention rope stretching as a means of square construction. Most students in school days learned a dozen ways of erecting one line perpendicular to another. It seems strange that any other people were ever ignorant of such simple mathematics. Yet all knowledge had a beginning. Masons learn of Pythagorean's astonishment and delight at his discovery of the principle of the Fortyseventh Problem. Doubtless the first man who erected a square by stretching a rope was equally happy over his discovery. Researchers into the manner of construction of pyramids, temples and monuments in Egypt reveal a very strong feeling on the part of the builders for the proper orientation of their structures. Successfully to place the
The earliest of the three meanings must have been the mathematical conception. As the French say, "it makes us furiously to think" to reflect upon the wisdom and reasoning powers of men who lived five thousand years ago, that they knew the principles of geometry by which a square can be constructed. Plato, greatest of the Greek philosophers, wrote over the porch of the house in which he taught: "Let no one who is ignorant of geometry entry my doors." Zenocrates , a follower of Plato, turned away an applicant for the teaching of the Academy, who was ignorant of geometry, with the words: "Depart, for thou has not the grip of philosophy." Geometry is so intimately interwoven with architecture and building that "geometry, or Masonry, originally synonymous terms" is a part of most rituals. The science of measurements is concerned with angles, the construction of figures, the solution of problems concerning both, and all the rest upon the construction of a right angle, the solutions which sprang from the Pythagorean Problem, our "FortySeventh Problem of Euclid," so prominent in the Master's Degree. 6
building so that certain points, corners or openings might face the sun or a star at a particular time, required very exact measurements. Among these, the laying down of the cross axis at a right angle to the main axis of the structure was highly important.
"trying square" of a stonemason, and has a plain surface, the sides embracing an angle of ninety degrees, and it is intended only to test the accuracy of the sides of a stone, and to see that its edges subtend the same angle." Commenting on this, the Editor of "the Builder" wrote (May, 1928):
It was this which the Harpedonaptae accomplished with a long rope. The cord was first marked off in twelve equal portions, possible by knots, more probably, by markers thrust into the body of the rope. The marked rope was then laid upon the line on which a perpendicular (right angle) was to be erected. The rope was pegged down at the third marker from the from one end, and another, four markers further on. This left two free ends, one three total parts long, one five total parts long. With these ends the Harpedonatae scribed two semi-circles. When the point where these two met, was connected to the first peg (three parts from the end of the rope, a perfect right angle, or square, resulted.
"This is one of the occasions when this eminent student ventured into a field beyond his own knowledge, and attempted to decide a matter of fact from insufficient data. For actually, there is not, and never has been, any essential difference between the squares used by carpenters and stone workers. At least not such difference as Mackey assumes. He seems to imply that French Masons were guilty of an innovation in making the square with unequal limbs. This is rather funny, because the French (and the Masons of Europe generally) have merely maintained the original form, while English speaking Masonry, or rather the designers of Masonic jewels and furnishings in English speaking countries, have introduced a new form for the sake, apparently, of its greater symmetry. From medieval times up till the end of the eighteenth century, all representations of Mason's squares show one limb longer than the other. In looking over the series of Masonic designs of different dates it is possible to observe the gradual lengthening of the shorter limb and the shortening of the longer one, till it is sometimes difficult to be certain at first glance if there is any difference between them. "There is absolute no difference in the use of the square in different crafts. In all the square is used to test work, but also to set it out. And a square with a graduated scale on it is at times just as great a convenience for the stonemason as for the carpenter. When workmen made their own squares there would be no uniformity in size
Authorities have differed and much discussion has been had, on the "true form" of the Masonic square; whether a simple square should be made with legs of equal length, and marked with divisions into feet and inches, or with one keg longer than the other and marked as are carpenter's squares today. Mackey says: "It is proper that its true form should be preserved. The French Masons have almost universally given it with one leg longer than the other, thus making it a carpenter's square. The American Masons, following the delineations of Jeremy L. Cross, have, while generally preserving the equality of length in the legs, unnecessarily marked its surface with inches, thus making it an instrument for measuring length and breadth, which it is not. It is simply the 7
or proportions, and very few would be graduated, though apparently this was sometimes done. It is rather curious that the cut which illustrates this article in Mackey's Encyclopedia actually show a square with one limb longer than the other."
Lodge No. 1781, at Amot, China, speaking on Freemasonry in China said: "From time immemorial we find the square and compasses used by Chinese writers to symbolize precisely the same phrases of moral conduct as in our system of Freemasonry. The earliest passage known to me which bears upon the subject is to be found in the Book of History embracing the period reaching from the twenty-fourth to the seventh century before Christ. There is an account of a military expedition where we read:
It is to be noted that old operative squares were either made wholly of wood, or of wood and metal, as indeed, small try squares are made today. Having one leg shorter than the other would materially reduce the chance of accident destroying the right angle which was the tools essential quality . . So that authorities who believe our equal legged squares not necessarily "true Masonic squares" have some practical reasons for their convictions.
"Ye Officers of government, apply the Compasses!" "In another part of the same venerable record a Magistrate is spoken of as: ‘A man of the level, or the level man.' "The public discourses of Confucius provide us with several Masonic allusions of a more or less definite character. For instance, when recounting his own degrees of moral progress in life, the Master tells us that only at seventy-five years of age could he venture to follow the inclinations of his heart without fear of ‘transgressing the limits of the square.' This would be 481 B.C., but it is in the words of the great follower, Mencius, who flourished nearly two hundred years later, that we meet with a fuller and more impressive Masonic phraseology. In one chapter we are taught that just as the most skilled articifers are unable, without the aid of the square and compasses, to produce perfect rectangles or perfect circles, so must all men apply these tools figuratively to their lives, and the level and the markingline besides, if they would walk in the straight and even paths of wisdom, and keep themselves within the bounds of honour and virtue. In Book IV we read:
It is of interest to recall McBride's explanation of the "centre" as used in English Lodges, and the "point within a circle," familiar to us. He traces the medieval "secret of the square" to the use of the compasses to make the circle from which the square is laid out. Lines connecting a point, placed anywhere on the circumference of a circle, to the intersection with the circumference cut by a straight line passing through the centre of the circle, forms a perfect square. McBride believed that our "point within a circle" was direct reference to this early operative method of correcting the angles in the wooden squares of operative cathedral builders, and that our present "two perpendicular lines" are a corruption of the two lines which connect points on the circle. The symbolism of the square, as we know it, is also very old; just how ancient, as impossible to say as the age of the tool or the first conception of mathematical "square-ness." In 1880 the Master of Ionic
"The compasses and Square are the embodiment of the rectangular and the round, just as the prophets of old were the 8
Mediocrity in Masonry
embodiment of the due relationship between man and man." In Book IV we find these words: "The Master Mason, in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and the square. Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the compasses and the square." In the "Great Learning," admitted on all sides to date from between 300 to 400 years before Christ, in Chapter 10, we read that a man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him: "this," adds the writer, "is called the principle of acting on the square."
Shame on us! One of the questions that occasionally eats at me when I am driving home from a Masonic event, degree, or function that has been woefully mediocre is how our members can sit through such Masonic happenings month after month and still believe our fraternity is relevant and meaningful to men’s lives? How honest are we in claiming we make good men better while persistently repeating practices and behaviours, which are so distinctively average, or worse? Self-improvement involves some form of positive change. It requires some level of progress; entails some elevated sense of being. Explain to me how a lodge facilitates self-improvement by offering its members a venue that doesn’t “feel” any different when they are inside the lodge than outside of it.
Independently of the Chinese, all peoples in all ages have thought of this fundamental angle, on which depends the solidity and lasting quality of buildings, as expressive of the virtues of honesty, uprightness and morality. Confucius, Plato, the Man of Galilee, stating the Golden Rule in positive form, all make the square an emblem of virtue. In this very antiquity of the Craft's greatest symbol is a deep lesson; the nature of a square is as unchanging as truth itself. It was always so, it will always be so. So, also, are those principles of mind and character symbolized by the square; the tenets of the builder's guild expressed by a square. They have always been so, they will always be so. From their very nature they must ring as true on the farthest star as here.
Perhaps many of us come into Masonry looking for nothing more than fraternal association. But, if that’s the case, it ought to be the best fraternal association we have ever had! Once we encounter the preparation room, or make our progress through the degrees, it is hard to dismiss the awareness that we are engaged in something wholly different from our other community experiences. We quickly learn that Masonry has a higher calling which requires that we make an ascent into the very centre of our being.
So will Freemasonry always read it, that its gentle message perish not from the earth! Article sourced from the Short Talk Bulletin, Vol.XIII March, 1935 No.3
An endeavour of such high importance and due solemnity is not a run of the mill 9
undertaking. It becomes clear there is nothing mediocre about Masonry. So why do we make it that way?
our own minds that we have something to do which will ultimately set us above the average. We start by thinking about the choices before us.
Here’s the problem. Accepting mediocrity in our lodge practices is the same as living a mediocre life. By making un-extraordinary acts and behaviours our ordinary practice, we entrap ourselves from knowing how precious life really is. We don’t use opportunities that come our way as a means of expressing how special we really are. Instead, we walk the walk with the rest of the herd and soon find ourselves in such a deep rut of limitations we lose sight of our own value. We become trapped in mediocrity.
Do we choose what is safe rather than what is right? Do we only do things right, or do we do the right things? Do we set out on a new path, or take the same old, comfortable way? Do we bring credit to our teachings, or debit them as ideals of the past? Do we become the examples that young men want to emulate, or do we seem to them as just another group of ho hum guys? You see, the choice always controls the chooser. To be exemplary men, or an exemplary organization, we have to be exceptional in our awareness of who we are, what we are here to be doing, what we know, and how we practice what we know. We have to have the courage to be different from the rest of the crowd—nobler in our expectations and more refined in our state of mind.
Regrettably, this too often seems the condition in which lodges, Chapters, Councils and Preceptories find themselves. When nothing extraordinary, educational, insightful, compelling, intellectual, contemplative, spiritual, or fraternal occurs in our private, sacred, fraternal spaces, then we become only another ordinary, average, run of the mill, dime-a-dozen organization. It is hard to see how this kind of Masonry takes good men and makes them better.
Because that’s just the way Masonry is.
He who wants milk should not sit himself in the middle of a pasture and wait for a cow to back up to him.
It is not the kind of Masonry we should want to share with our friends. I believe that if we truly want to move “from the square to the compasses,” we have to dare to be different. And we can’t dare to be different by following someone else’s expectations. When a lodge does the same thing year after year, it is accepting by default someone else’s expectations. There is nothing creative, inspiring, or different about parroting ritual, paying bills, and going home. That’s doing only what many others have done before us.
Mediocrity in Masonry . . . Shame on us! Article written by Robert G. Cross and sourced from ‘The Laudable Pursuit’ website, with thanks.Ed.
To distinguish ourselves among men and organizations, we first have to perceive in 10
law, and the minutes of that period reveal that there were innumerable breaches.
DID YOU KNOW?
At the Lodge of Edinburgh, Chapel, the first recorded admission of a Fellow-craft on 17 January 1600, was in the presence of an insufficient quorum of five Masters, and although the candidate had “done his deutie”…to the contentment of the dekin warden & maistris (which was the customary formula), no mark was taken by the candidate. This great old Lodge never kept a “Mark Book”: Occasional pages were set aside in the Minute Book with a dated had line, e.g.:
Question: Was the Fellow-craft degree mutilated to provide material for the Mark Degree? Answer: The Mark, as ceremony or degree, is quite a late innovation making its appearance during the mid-1700. Masons, without any kind of ceremony, were taking marks 150 years before the Mark came into use as a ceremony.
Names of entered prentysis and their markes 1648, and this is followed by a list of ten E. A.s who were made E.A. in 1647, 1648, and 1649, with their marks appended. There are also eight names of F.C.s. whose E. A. date is unknown. The list then continues with E.A.s and F.C.s from 1652 onwards, with marks. There are separate lists of this kind for 1646, 1663, 1671(?), 1685 and 1690. Very rarely do we find records of the “mark” being paid for. The usual fee was “one Mark Scots money” approximately equivalent to one day’s wages of a trained mason.
The earliest Official reference to the Mason’s Mark is the Schaw Statutes dated 28 December 1598. They were promulgated by William Schaw, Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland and Warden General of the Mason craft. From this code of twentytwo regulations, I quote the thirteenth item, word for word, but in modern spelling. Item: that no Master of Fellow of Craft be received nor admitted without the number of six Masters and two Entered Apprentices, the Warden of that lodge (i.e. the Master) being one of the said six, and that the day of the receiving of the said Fellow or Craft or Master be orderly booked and his name and Mark inserted in the said book with the names of his six admitters…Providing always that no man be admitted without an essay (test) and sufficient trial of his skill an worthiness in his vocation and craft.
The minutes of Lodge Mother Kilwinning No. 0 also contain a large number of marks for both E.A.s and F.C.s but records of payment for the marks are comparatively rare, e.g. “20 Dec. 1674. The said day, John Smith… was admitted and entered prentise and has payed to the box his bookeing money…and also has payed for his mark which is al follows…” Here, at Kilwinning the fee for registering the mark was “one mark Scots money”
This regulation required that F.C.’s and Masters were to have their names and Marks recorded on the day of their admission to those grades, but the custom had been extended to apprentices, during the next fifty years. It seems that the Schaw Statutes were intended to be used as guidelines rather than
At the Lodge of Aberdeen, a handsome Mark Book was kept from 1670 onwards and it contains a list of the names and marks of all the Master Masons and apprentices of 11
the Lodge in 1670, in the order of their admission, followed by a continuous list of later entrants, and a collection of regulations under the heading “Laws and Statutes for masons gathered out of their old writings”. Here again “one mark piece” is specified as the fee for taking a mason’s mark. It is important to add that during the 1670’s, the Lodge of Aberdeen already had a substantial non-operative membership, including two noblemen (Earls), a minister of religion, merchants and tradesmen.
the 1723 Book of Constitutions, which had belonged to an unattached lodge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They had stitched in the book 28 pages containing manuscript notes. By-laws, etc. followed by some blank pages. On the last inserted page, which is the loose end paper, is the following: “Newcastle, January the 19, 1756—Then Being meet Part of the Body of the Lodge they taking it to their Serious Consideration. That no member of the Saide Lodge Shall be Made a Mark Masone without paying the Sum of one (e) Mark Scots and that for the propigation of the Pedestal, as Witnessed the aforesaid Date by…Wardens: John Maxwell Master, Tos Provund, Robert McVicear.
It is necessary to emphasise that throughout all the early minutes as well as those quoted above, there, there is never the least hint of any kind of ceremony accompanying the taking of a Mark. In those days when all the brethren attending lodge were expected to sing the Minutes, the Marks were generally used for that purpose. Doubtless they were also used for marking stones, perhaps for assessing wages for completed piecework, or as a check on spoiled stones, but a large proportion of the brethren never troubled to take the Mark.
This is the earliest known reference to the Mark as a ceremony. The final mason’s Mark recorded in the Kilwinning minutes was in 1766. In Edinburgh Mary’s Chapel, the final Mark was in 1713. The Fellow-craft degree was not affected by the emergence of the “Mark Degrees”. THEY were a late speculative innovation, loosely linked to the F.C. degree simply because mason’s marks were originally prescribed for Fellow-crafts.
Until recent years the earliest known minuted reference to the Mark Degree was in the record of a meeting of the Royal Arch Chapter of Friendship, held at the George Tavern in Portsmouth, on 1 September 1769. It records that Thomas Dunckerley (a natural son of George 11- when Prince of Wales) brought the Warrant for that Chapter and “having lately rec’d the Mark” he made six of the brethren “Mark Masons” and “Mark Masters”. At that same meeting he taught them how to use the Masonic cypher (in which this minute is written) and authorised them to make F.C.s into Mark Masons, and M.M.. S into Mark Masons.
The Questions and answers from ‘Did you Know’ were collected from various constitutions across the world, and in no way reflect the views or thoughts of the editor and or his Lodge or Mother Constitution.
Around 1965, the late Bro. William Waples, a zealous student and full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, acquired a copy of 12
objects instead of human beings became customary.
THE NORTH EAST ANGLE
As the first stone of a public building is usually laid at the north east corner; that‟s were the corner stone of every Masonic life is laid. Stones and mortar will decay and rot away. Stones will crumble and walls may tumble‟ but the spiritual corner stone which is you is eternal. But for this one time only you stand in the north east as a symbol of the beginning of a Masonic life.
The North East Angle in our lodges bears an affinity to the laying of a cornerstone in the North East corner of a building. In northern latitudes the sun, on a midsummer day, rises in the North East. It is on this midsummer day that the sun, at the northern solstice reaches the zenith of its prolific power and is at its greatest altitude. In olden days the labours of the day usually commenced at sunrise. The architects of the earliest times believed that they should always pay tribute to the god of the ground on which they were to erect their building. In their child-like minds they believed that a gift must be made to the deity before the building could be erected. In the remotest early times, human beings were buried alive under the cornerstone, because it was supposed that the gods could be appeased only by the sacrifice of human beings, and it was common belief that the soul of such person received some extra exaltation in the afterlife. They also believed that the spirit of a buried person gave extra strength to the structure. It is directly connected to the ancient practice of killing one or more men when commencing a building of any importance; they were either crushed to death or were built into the wall while while yet alive. The idea being that their spirits would add to the strength and stability of the structure.
The lecture in the N.E. angle of the lodge can be extremely effective. The candidate has entered a new phase of life and is about to construct a temple of character and conduct, which no one but he can build. He is placed in the north-east angle of the lodge, the symbolic meeting place of darkness and light, where he represents the corner stone. He declares publicly his attitude towards charity. He is invited to make a donation, but he has nothing to offer. He may not realize it, but he has much to offer. He has himself, his god given talent for the good of this fellowmen. The apprentice in a Masonic Lodge takes the place of those who have gone to the celestial Grand Lodge above and thus, out of these recruits, the fraternity keeps itself alive. The apprentice then is to be not only a builder, but built upon; out of him the future of the Craft is made and we should be wise enough to be careful in selecting that building material, of which strong walls may be made for the future. The North-East Angle is a half-way station from darkness to light. When our candidate in the first degree is placed at the north east angle he is being told that it is customary at the erection of all stately and superb edifices to lay the foundation stone at the north east corner of the building. The candidate being
The custom of placing wine, and oil and money under the foundation stone together with a ration of corn, no doubt arose from the laudable desire to make the abode of the unfortunate ghost as comfortable as possible. In late years the placing of various 13
newly admitted into Masonry is placed at the north east angle of the lodge figuratively to represent that stone and raise a superstructure, perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder. The candidate is being lectured on the principles, moral responsibilities and virtues to be applied to our daily lives.
pledges. What has Masonry pledged to us? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but Masonry is always ready and willing to give us with interest all the goodness what mankind needs. If we are willing to stand up to and support the principles and tenets of Freemasonry, let us show it, and let us show it now and every day of our lives.
So in the process of our initiation we have received some Masonic light, but how far are we willing to go in pursuit of the light that Masonry has to offer? Owing to our indifferences, our disinclinations to make further studies, our apathy to think out the meaning of our symbols and ceremonies we do not come into possession of all the light which Masonry has to give. Neither profane nor illuminated, we are half Masons and in a spiritual sense remain always in the NorthEast Angle. Let us ask the question ourself: I have left the North (darkness), but have I yet reached the East (light)? There are three great and important duties which, as a Mason, we are charged to inculcate: to God, to our neighbour and to ourselves. To God to implore his aid in all our lawful undertakings and to esteem him as the omnipotence of the goodness of life; to our neighbour, in acting upon the square and doing unto him as you wish he should do unto you; and to your self in avoiding all irregularity and all things which may impair our faculties or debase the dignity and integrity of our image.
The above article was prepared by W. Br. W.T. Boratynec of Prince of Wales Lodge No. 630 and W.M. of West Gate Lodge No. 734.
The Iron Curtain Ever been without a word And stand there like a log? And churn inside a hummingbird While hoping to unclog? A wave ascends up to the ear And warmness does arrive. The twitching of the hand is fear And air to lungs deprive. Where is that word! Upon the floor? Look down— look up— look over— It's hiding there behind the door Inside the stone hard cover. But now! But wait! The word is there You feel the moment pass It's coming like a wounded hare A' rustling in the grass. A breath to take and ready now To blurt and keep the pace The message you can now endow And even save some face!
Finally let us not remain at the half-way station. Let us move on further to all the light that Masonry has to offer. Are we willing to uphold and live by the principles and tenets to which we have obligated ourselves? Just being a member is not sufficient, let us be Masons. We have a lot of members, but too few Masons. In passing through the three degrees in Masonry we have committed ourselves to uphold certain
So when the iron curtain draws And words come flowing out. Don't think about the little pause That gave your mind the gout! Unknown
Lodge St. James Operative Lodge No 97
At the foundation of St James’s Operative Lodge a Society for the relief and assistance of their sick and the burial of their dead was instituted. The Society continued in evidence till the year 1835, when it was dissolved. The chief books of the Lodge up to this date have unfortunately gone missing; they are said to have been destroyed between 1800 and 1804, the years of Dearth. During the Dearth, the Lodge imported grain and supplied the same to its Members at cost price. In theses transactions the funds of the Lodge suffered, as can be gathered from the old books. In the year 1812 the Lodge paid over to Grand Lodge the sum of £50, to assist in building(or payment of the debt on Grand Lodge. This amount, though taken from the funds of St James’s, was refunded by an assessment of five shillings on each Member, payable quarterly in instalments of one shilling.
In the year 1765, a number of Master Builders and others connected with the Building Trade. Members of the Lodge Journeymen Masons, No 8----applied to Grand Lodge for a Charter to erect a new Lodge, under the name of ST JAMES’S OPERATIVE LODGE. The application was favourably entertained, and on 19th August of the same year (1765) a Charter of Constitution was granted.
Previous to the year 1817, it was customary for the Lodge to hold a Festival on the 1st day of May --- that day being the anniversary of the saint. After the death of Bro. Peacock (one of the founders, and the then father, of the Lodge) this festival was discontinued. On the festival day of that year, a timepiece was presented to the Lodge by Bro. Greig, being the work of his own hands.
The number of the Lodge on Grand Lodge Roll was originally 124, and the colour red. At the revision of the roll in 1820, the number was fixed at 97, and the colour altered to blue. The Lodge is an offshoot or daughter of the Lodge of Journeymen Masons, No 8, this Lodge being then 58 years old. The Lodge of Journeymen Masons being a daughter of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Marys Chapel) No 1, it will be seen that the Lodge No 8, is the mother, and Lodge No 1 is the Grandmother of No 97.
The fees seem to have fluctuated from 17651835. In 1797 the fee for Operatives was 40s; speculative 45s; the maximum sick money was 5s per week; funeral money £3. From 1820-1826 the fee of entry was raised from time to time, and the payment to sick augmented to 9s per week; funeral money £5. In 1826 the entry money was raised to £5, including Masonic dues and 5/- extra for every year the candidate was above the age 15
of 25 years of age. In the following year the entry money was reduced to £3. In 1834 the sick allowance was entirely suspended, and on the 26th of March 1835 the sick or funeral society was dissolved, with the concurrence of five-sixths of its members, in terms of laws. After dissolution the Lodge seems to have lain dormant until 1838 when a Bro Ramage was elected R.W. Master. Up until 1840 none but operatives (Masters in connection with the Building Trade) had been elected or could be elected to the chair. That law was rescinded in 1840, when Bro John Dunn, writer, was elected to the office. On the 25th January 1844 the Lodge, at its annual Festival, was visited by Lord Glenlyon, afterwards sixth Duke of Athole, M.W.G.M and the Members of Grand Lodge.
the mother of Mary Queen of Scots, From this piece of alter was formed a mallet (last seen in Writer’s court ). The oak chest still in our possession. There is also a portrait of Bro Peacock, painted in 1803 by G. Watson (the first president of the Royal Scottish Academy), and subscribed for the brethren and presented to the Lodge. Some of the old minutes are interesting reading, as throwing light on the social life of the Lodge. One of 1856 is as follows :-“Lodge Edinburgh St James’s Annual Ball in rooms No 1 Hanover street, on 29th February 1856. –The brethren and their partners assembled about 9 o clock, and marched in grand order round the ball-room to the inspiring strains of the band playing the Masonic Anthem.
The Festival was held in the Waterloo rooms, and 223 members were present. The highest number of initiates recorded in a single year was 77, in 1844. The old Lodgerooms in Writer’s court (now demolished and the new City Chambers erected on its site) had long been the property of the Lodge, and originally cost £160. On the 14th December 1813, instrument of sasine was drawn in favour of the Lodge. The following minute copied from old book, of date 10th February 1774, reads: “The Lodge agreed to take a house for a Lodge-room from John Gow, he delivered up his tak to us, we allowing him one pound sterling for lifting the partition, and repairing the floor in an efficient manner for a Dancing school. (signed) W Mill, M.”
Dancing then commenced, and was conducted according to programme. During the evening the company was much enlivened by a selection of very fine songs, elegantly sung by several of the ladies, accompanied by the piano-forte, Refreshments , consisting of ices, wines, confections, etc were artistically in a recess of the ball-room, and elegantly served by Bro John Stewart. At 12 o clock all adjourned to an adjoining room, where a very excellent supper was served up by Bro Stewart in a style which could not be surpassed.
Whether this was the old Lodge room in Writer’s court there is no evidence to show.
The company again returned to the ballroom, and resumed dancing with unbathed vigour, and kept it up till long after day-light appeared, everyone straining their utmost to add to the hilarity of the meeting, which terminated in a very happy and satisfactory manner.”
An ancient oak chest (found in a recess in the steeple of St Giles Cathedral in 1830) was presented by Bro John Watson, along with a piece of the alter of Mary of Guise 16
Part 2 1865-1965
the secretary must be in a position to state that the necessary fees have been paid. A proportion of all Test Fees and Life Membership Fees must go into the lodge Benevolent Fund, and this fund cannot be used for any other purpose than benevolence.
By Arthur Donaldson PM During our Second Hundred Years we have occupied five different premises :1865-1896 Writers court, High street. As owners.
All this tightening up of regulations is the result of Grand Lodge Laws enacted during the past hundred years, and has resulted in all Lodges, and Grand Lodge itself, having a much more accurate record of everyone who is a member of our order. From 1865 and for many years after, the conferring of Degrees was done only on Special or Emergency Meetings, and the Monthly Meeting reserved for the reading and passing of minutes and the transaction of all Lodge business. At the conclusion of business in hand the Lodge would be called from Labour to Refreshment when deputations from Sister Lodges and visiting brethren would be admitted and welcomed. The evening would then be devoted to Harmony at the conclusion of which The Lodge would “cease from Refreshment and return to Labour. “ The Lodge would then be closed in due form. These meetings were usually Referred to in the minutes as Reception Meetings.
1897-1899 96 George Street. As tenants of the Grand Lodge Of Scotland 1899-1923 1A Hill Street. As owners. 1923-1959 9 Forth Street . As owners. 1959-1965 75 Queen Street. As tenants of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter Of Scotland From the following short History and extracts from minutes Gone are the days when a candidate could be recommended, balloted for, initiated, passed, and sometimes even raised all on the same evening. Proposers and Seconder’s names were often not recorded, and on occasions fees not paid until sometime later. To-day prospective candidates must appear before an Enquiry Committee, and if approved Their names and other particulars must be read out in open Lodge at a Regular Meeting, and balloted upon. Only then are they informed if they have been accepted, and if so they will be communicated with and a date decided upon for their initiation. After a statutory period of time (minimum fourteen days) and proficiency proved other degrees are conferred. Names of Proposers and Seconder’s must be recorded in Lodge Books, and on the evening of the initiation
During 1871 the Lodge purchased the room downstairs from the Lodge Room in Writers’ Court for £150. A Bond of £200 was taken on the old and new property, and it was not until 16th of May 1895 that the bond was redeemed and the Lodge became free of debt. This room was no doubt used as our refectory as old photographs show that our Lodge Room there was used only for working meetings of the Lodge. Festivals and large Reception Meetings were often held in nearby hotels such as the Royal Exchange, St Johns Coffee House and Daish’s Hotel also situated in Writers’ Court. 17
21st December 1874 “St John’s Festival. Supper of beef and Greens, etc, at 1/- per head. Toddy Whisky with sugar, 15/- per gallon. Tickets 2/6 each. “
would be made Proposers and Seconder’s would be approached to assist with recovery of payment.
10th January 1877. “Secretary intimated that a Special Sewer rate of 2d, in the £1, on a rental of £18, had been levied on the Lodge.”
10th April 1878. “Secretary reported that anent the Motion to Prosecute two brothers who had not paid their Initiation Fees, he could not proceed further until three officebearers consented to allow their names to be inserted on the Summons. “
5th April 1877. “It was intimated that the previous secretary had refused to deliver a Minute Book to the Committee.”
Nothing more was heard of the matter. Between 1880 and 1914 it was not uncommon for a Brother to rise in the Lodge and say that among their number that evening was a visitor who was in need of assistance. If agreed a collection would be taken. Amounts noted in minute Books are 6/7, 2/6, 9/7 , 6/8, 9/4, 2/9 and many more small amounts. Sometime the sum of 2/6 would be voted from the charity box and this along with the sum collected would be given to the distressed visitor.
When this book was eventually delivered it was noted that the Minutes of the three previous years had not been recorded. It was the custom in those days, and for many years later, for the secretary to take note at every meeting and then make a minute in what was know as a Scroll Minute Book. This Scroll Minute was read at the next meeting and after it had been passed, and perhaps corrections or additions made to it, it would be re-written in the Lodge Minute Book. In this case these Scroll Minutes had not been written into the Lodge Minute Book for three years, but many blank pages in the book seem to indicate the intention to write them in should the Scroll Minute Book be recovered. There is no record of its recovery.
Almost every year between 1880 and 1910 several candidates were Initiated who were members of the famous circus which annually visited Edinburgh. Professions noted were Acrobat, Clown, Magician and equestrian and their names and place of birth, nearly always foreign, were recorded as well as their professional names.
18th October 1877. “Brother W Hannah, Treasurer, was presented with a Marble Bust of himself wrought by Brother Birnie Rhind.”
13th April 1880, “The Lodge decided with approval of Grand Lodge to delete the word “Operative” from the name of the Lodge --thus making it Edinburgh St James No 97. “
6th December 1877. “That all necessary steps be taken by action at law, or otherwise as may be deemed advisable, for recovery of all unpaid Initiation Fees. “ It was not uncommon to take candidates fees after they were initiated And, on occasion, difficulty was experienced in doing so, and often some time elapsed before payment
17th March 1881. “A letter read from Grand Lodge intimated that Grand Master and Grand Office-Bearers would visit cooke’s circus and invited members of our Lodge to accompany them as John Henry Cooke is a Member of our Lodge No 97.”
14th January 1897. Our first meeting in Freemasons Hall, George Street, as tenants of The Grand Lodge Of Scotland.
17th March 1897. “…and it was agreed to accept the Corporation offer of £1,250 for our property in Writers’ Court. “ 26th June 1899. First Meeting held in our new premises at 1A Hill Street. Our new premises cost us £1,500 and put us £500 in debt so we had to obtain a bond for that amount. The premises were lit by gas and remained so until 1903 when electricity was installed throughout at a total cost of £16. 7s. 6d. The Lodge room was 31ft. x 30ft. with a small ante room 8 ft. x 7 ft. On street floor a small room 8 ft. x 7 ft. and a cloakroom 15 ft. x 8 ft. a total area of 1,500 sq ft. Twenty-four years later we sold 1A Hill Street for £1,410.
Was Victor Hugo a Freemason? Poet, politician, and playwright, Victor Marie Hugo [1802 – 1885] believed in the inherit beauty and worth of all mankind. He sought to lift the masses out of the darkness of ignorance and vanquish injustice by promoting the virtues of liberty, equality, and fraternity. As the leader of the Romantic literary movement, Mr. Hugo crafted a lasting legacy as one of the most influential and beloved writers of his day.
This short History of Lodge St. James Operative Lodge No.97 was sourced from the Lodge Website. (Please visit the website at this link; here.) My thanks go to Lodge 97 for this excellent History.
A humanitarian who utilized the written word to influence hearts and minds, Victor supported social causes to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, including ending social injustice and abolishing capital punishment. Hugo wrote: “There is a point, moreover, at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated 19
and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables; whose fault is it? And then, is it not when the fall is lowest that charity ought to be the greatest?”
principles. The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s Quasimodo character may have been based on an operative Mason who worked on the Cathedral, as recently discovered documents reveal evidence of a hunchbacked sculptor who worked on Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral in the 1820s, while Hugo was writing the book. Legend of the ages is a collection of poems by Victor Hugo, conceived as an immense depiction of the history and evolution of humanity – from darkness into Light.
As key components to liberating the masses, Mr. Hugo advocated for freedom of the press and self-governance by the people. Every individual was worth saving and their salvation was a possibility, in his opinion, as long as the entire society reformed. What did he request for these individuals foundering in darkness? Light. Hugo stated:
Hugo’s characters aspire towards the ideal of perfection, a seemingly impossible dream is given wings through his masterful writings. Jean Valjean’s fortitude against almost insurmountable odds, Javert’s justice, or Cosette’s enduring faith, each is an example of a Masonic virtue personified. Soldiers of the revolution, Hugo’s characters march diligently towards that glorious victory – overthrowing tyrants, trampling evil, developing virtues, and discarding vice. These legendary stories populated with archetypal figures are Hugo’s immortal gift to humanity, providing examples of divine virtues for mankind’s enrichment and emulation.
“They seem not men, but forms fashioned of the living dark… What is required to exorcise these goblins? Light. Light in floods. No bat resists the dawn. Illuminate the bottom of society.” Was Victor Hugo a Freemason? There seems to be conflicting information as to his involvement in Freemasonry. Some writers claim he was a Mason, while others write that he was a Rosicrucian or a Martinist. Despite a lack of written record establishing his status as a Mason, Hugo’s writings contain numerous references to Freemasonry and its philosophies. “God manifests himself to us in the first degree through the life of the universe, and in the second degree through the thought of man. The second manifestation is not less holy than the first. The first is named Nature, the second is named Art,” wrote Hugo. Victor Hugo was reported to support one of Universal CoMasonry’s founders, Brother Marie Deraismes, stating:
Hugo was so beloved by the people that when he died – in 1885 at the age of 83 – forty thousand people spent the night on Paris streets and accompanied his casket, from Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon. It is estimated that more than two million individuals came to pay their respects to the departed writer as part of the funeral procession. So, was Victor Hugo a Freemason? Let’s go back to the beginning of the article:-
“Carry on the Holy work, Honest people honour you and admire you and it is only right and fair to say so.”
“There seems to be conflicting information as to his involvement in Freemasonry. Some writers claim he was a Mason, while others write that he was a Rosicrucian or a
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Misérables, and The Legend of the Ages all contain Masonic ideals, concepts, and 20
Martinist. Despite a lack of written record establishing his status as a Mason, Hugo’s writings contain numerous references to Freemasonry and its philosophies.”
for the Freemasons’ Monthly Magazine, dated April 25, 1868: page 6; “We were not aware when in Guernsey that Victor Hugo was a Mason; but we afterwards learnt in France that such is the fact, Bro. Hugo has not mixed among his English brethren in the island, chiefly, no doubt, because of his incessant devotion to literary labours. M. Hugo finds time, however, for works of benevolence; and the Freemasons' Magazine has already published, from the eloquent pen of Bro. Dr. Hopkins, an account of one of his fetes to poor children, which are repeated every New Year 's Day. We were privileged to attend on the 1st of January in the present year, and shall never forget the scene. As Bro. Hugo remarked, "the little stream which started in Guernsey has. swollen into a great river in London; "
A search of Denslow’s 10000 Famous Freemasons gives this entry; “Victor Marie Hugo (1802-1885) French romantic novelist, best known for his Les Miserables, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Son of Comte J. L. S. Hugo, q.v. Although often referred to as a Mason, there is no proof.” Other dictionary’s and websites say the same. There is very little information regarding Hugo and any Masonic membership to be found. One source, ‘The Masonic Phiatelist’ magazine, published an article in June 2012, regarding Victor Hugo called, Victor Hugo, Freemason? This article mentions that his father was a Freemason and gives the names of the Masonic Lodges and organisations the father was involved with. However, apart from some unsubstantiated documents, the author of the piece Bro. Jean-Claude Vilespy was unable to find any Masonic reference to him, and concludes with the opinion that Victor Hugo was never a Freemason.
This was the first mention of Victor Hugo being a Freemason and caused a bit of a stir in some circles. And we find in the magazine dated June 20, 1868, under the title, “BRO. VICTOR HUGO AT HOME.” “Our previous statement that Victor Hugo was a Freemason has excited surprise in some quarters, but the evidence upon the point is conclusive. Without referring to other proofs, our esteemed Bro. Dr. Hopkins informs us that Victor Hugo himself admitted to the doctor that he belonged to the Craft, adding, that on account of political matters in France, he could not continue in connection with Masonry, more especially considering who were the heads of the Craft in his native country. It is, therefore an indisputable fact that Victor Hugo is a Freemason, while, at the same time, we can scarcely wonder if his political sympathies may have sometimes induced the wish to repudiate all knowledge of French Masonry”. J.A.H. (Bro. Joseph Andrew Horner.)
The lack of hard evidence regarding his masonic membership is made all the more difficult due to the fact that French Freemasonry has had a number of different Grand Lodges over the years (and still does) and information from that period is very scare. However, the Library and Museum of Freemasonry UGLE have published online a number of Masonic Periodicals dated 1790 to 1900, and a search for Victor Hugo has thrown up some unexpected details regarding him being a Freemason. A masonic Bro. visited Hugo whilst he was living on Guernsey and reported in an article 21
Then a letter appeared in the Freemasons Monthly Magazine dated July 18, 1868;
in distress than to criticise harshly the Sovereign Lady who stands first in the affections of her subjects. Yours fraternally, July 20th, 1868. J. A. H.
BRO. VICTOR HUGO. — We are pleased to receive the assurance that the article entitled " Bro. Victor Hugo at Home, "which recently appeared in the MAGAZINE, has been warmly appreciated by the distinguished poet. The article having been copied by the Guernsey Mail and Telegraph, our esteemed Bro. Frederick Clarke, editor of that journal, received from Bro. Hugo a portrait of himself, with his autograph and "cordial remereiments." It cannot but be equally gratifying to the writer of the article, as well as to the conductors of the MAGAZINE to find that Bro. Hugo thus fraternally acknowledges the good-will of his brother Craftsmen.
The reader can see from this correspondence that the author continually refers to Hugo as a brother throughout. That same year, Victor Hugo’s wife died, and in the issue of the Freemasons’ Monthly Magazine dated, November 28, 1868, the following appeared under the heading; ‘BRO. VICTOR HUGO AND FREEMASONS MAGAZINE’.
"On the lamented death of Madame Victor Hugo we published a paragraph in which we assured our illustrious Bro. Hugo of the deep sympathy with which the Freemasons of England regarded his sorrowful bereavement. A copy of the Magazine containing this notice having been forwarded with a private letter by Bro. J. A. Horner to Bro. Hugo, the following acknowledgement of the same has been received by Bro. Horner: —
The following week on July 25 another letter appeared from the same correspondent BROTHER VICTOR HUGO. To The Editor Of The Freemasons' Magazine And Masonic Mirror. Dear Sir and Brother, —In the article " Victor Hugo at Home, "it was stated that Bro. Hugo left Jersey in consequence of having made certain strictures on Queen Victoria' s interview with Napoleon III. at Cherbourg. This explanation of Bro. Hugo's retirement from Jersey has been generally believed in the Channel Islands to be true. Bro. Hugo is, however, anxious that it should be known that he left Jersey on account of matters arising out of the treatment of refugees by the local government of Jersey. If the article in the Magazine has done no more than lead to this refutation of a slander on our illustrious brother, it has not been entirely useless. It is needless to remark that it is far more in accordance with Bro. Hugo's chivalrous life and character to champion his compatriots
"Hauteville House, Nov. 18th, 1868. "I have received your excellent and cordial letter. I pray you thank on my behalf the distinguished editor of the Freemasons' Magazine, and be assured also of my fraternal sympathy. "VICTOR HUGO." Hugo ended his self-imposed exile and moved back to France not long after this, and the question still remains: Was Victor Hugo a Freemason? I will leave it up to the reader to decide! Sources; The publications mentioned within this article. Wkiipedia Who am I ?
Old Past Master. "You are exactly in the position of your young child who is robbed of Santa, who learns that fairies do not exist, who finds that a doll is made of powdered wood. But, like a child, you will outgrow the grief. If you go to your wife's most secret hiding place in the attic, the chances are ten to one you will find and old and much-loved doll. She knows it is only sawdust, but she loves it. And I bet a cookie that you send Christmas cards to your friends and like to go and see some one dressed up as Santa, distributing presents at Christmas. As for fairies, did you, or did you not, enjoy reading and seeing Peter Pan? The grief is gone; the joy remains!" "But what has that to do with Solomon and Masonry?"
"A whole lot!" answered the Old Past Master. "The greatest truths have been taught by parables and stories. It is the best way of teaching, for it touches the imagination. For instance, it is obviously a truth that a man should remember his parents in their need, take care of his children, and be charitable. The far Easterner puts it in a fable. A man going to the bazaar buys seven loaves of bread. 'For what do you purchase so many, Oh, Effendi?' asked the merchant. 'Two I return, two I lend, two I give, and one I use,' answers the buyer. 'Explain, Effendi', begs the merchant. 'The two I return to my parents, who once gave to me. The two I lend are to my children, who will one day return to me. The two I give are for charity and the one I use is for myself.'
"I am a very much disturbed person!" The speaker, a newly made Master Mason, addressed the Old Past Master earnestly. "I have always believed, as I always believe my Bible, that the story of Solomon's being our first Grand Master was true. I have always believed that Masonry has come down to us through the ages substantially as it is now. I have always believed in the reality of the drama of the third degree. Now I find that great scholars say it isn't so!" "Poor boy!" soothed the Old Past Master. "He has discovered that his dolls are stuffed with sawdust. Some one took away his Santa Claus! Fairies have been banished from his heart and he grieves!"
"Is not that a pretty way of teaching? And does it not make a far greater impression on your mind that the mere statement of fact?
"I didn't think you would make fun of me!" protested the Young Mason.
"It is so with the Solomonic legend. We know that modern Freemasonry began little
"My dear brother, I don't make fun of you! I speak with all seriousness!" protested the 23
more than three hundred years ago. We trace well defined ancestors of Masonry through the Roman Collegia, the Comacines, the Steinmetzen of Germany, the Compagnionage of France, the Guilds of medieval England. We find Masonic symbols in Egypt and ancient Babylon. We find Masonic philosophy in many lands in remote ages. There is no doubt that the forebears of our own Masonry were very far back in time, perhaps even further back than Solomon. That there is any direct connection between Solomon, the King of Israel, and a modern Grand Lodge cannot be established.
the legend which teaches of her beautiful beginning in the erection of a Temple of God, and the wise guidance she had from the most learned man of all time. "For, it is not the facts of our legends with which we are concerned, but what they teach. With the trowel we spread the cement of brotherly love. Did you ever feel, see, taste, smell, any of that cement? Did you ever see any one use a trowel to spread it? It is not true, in the fact sense, is it? Yet you believe it, I believe it, even when we know it is but an allegory, a symbol, a truth expressed in fiction.
"But neither can we establish any connection between Christmas and Santa Claus! How shall you teach a small child of the beautiful spirit of Christmas by telling him it is to celebrate the birthday of Christ? You can't. He cannot comprehend. How may you teach a newly made Master Mason all the history of Masonry, all at once? You can't. In either case you require a legend. And make no mistakes about it, my friend; the facts of the legend may be all wrong. But the spirit of both legends is entirely true!
"If the lesser lights be put out, can you see the Great Light? You cannot. The Great Light does not emit radiance for physical eyes. No one thinks it does. Yet its radiance makes Masonry. "Trouble not your heart, my brother, that antiquitarians have let in the light and discovered the facts. We are always the better for facts. But your very searcher after Masonic facts would be the first to defend the legends. Masonry is old, old; old as the human heart. Lodges, degrees, Grand Masters; these may, indeed, be young. But the principles of Masonry are ancient as the world, and if we teach them with allegories of words as well as of symbols, it is because that is the best way to teach any heart!
"Now Freemasonry is not concerned with facts; 'twice two is four' is far less interesting to Masonry than 'he gives twice who gives quickly.' Masonry is wholly a matter of the mind, heart, spirit, will, character, desire, love, veneration of us humans. It is not concerned with heating or lighting or invention or armies or hay stacks. The spirits of the Solomonic and Hiramic legends are true; they are true to the heart, just as the Christmas myth is true to the child. You never saw a fairy, but your life would be the poorer without them! You never showed your little child a Santa Claus, but his life would be poorer without him. Masonry cannot show a direct, logical, provable, evidential descent from Solomon, but Masonry would be the poorer without
"Personally, Solomon is as real to me as my fairies and my Santa Claus, and you, nor any other man can rob me of their spirit by denying to me their letter!" "Nor to me, either, and more!" answered he newly made brother. This is the twenty-first article in this our regular feature, ‘The Old Past Master,’ each month we will publish in the newsletter one of these interesting and informative pieces by Carl Claudy.
The Second Degree
aspects of the Order, particularly including the hidden meanings of what is contained in our ceremonies. Our ceremonies present us with a framework for our guidance in our progress through our lives, particularly our Masonic lives, but they do not spell out every detail. We are expected to apply the advice given us in the Second Degree to fill in the gaps.
An Appreciation The Second Degree in Freemasonry is often considered by Masons as a sort of watershed, or transition degree, between the Initiation and Raising Degrees and by so doing, they miss the real value and meaning of the Second Degree.
The Second Degree presents a particularly good example of the need to seek the inner or true significance of what is said in a Masonic lodge. The very nature of our order is based on its being "veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols". This gives us the Masonic licence to vary known facts and adapt them to suit the allegory which we ascribe to them. This in no way diminishes the moral lessons we are trying to convey. In a paper presented by a writer under the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, he comments on the differences between facts and how we distort them in our Ritual. He states; "that the answer is that our Ritual makes no pretence of reciting history, or of communicating facts. It does claim to provide moral instruction. Usually this is done because the symbolism is being manipulated to teach a lesson. We permit Shakespeare to tamper with history for his own artistic purpose; shall we permit any less for Freemasonry?"
It is not that the Second Degree is a misunderstood degree, but it is largely an "understood" degree. The key to understanding the Second Degree is to pay attention to the meaning of some of the words and phrases used in the ceremony and really understanding what these words mean in the context of Masonry in particular. Let us consider the phrase; "extend your researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science", and the word "submit". The candidate is instructed to look past the mundane necessities of his daily life and to enter into contemplation with the more spiritual aspects of human existence. By this phrase he is informed that there are mysteries related to his mortal existence inherent in nature and science that are not readily apparent, but are hidden and should be looked for. The mysteries of nature include the Creation of what is around us and how they came into existence, and by whom they were created. The reference to science is of utmost importance to Masons as we regard and describe our Order as a science. So a Fellowcraft is being told that he should research Masonry itself. This research into Masonry would include all
The legend of the winding stair is a good example of this manipulation. We are told that a vast number of masons were employed at the building of the Temple, and that the Fellowcrafts received their wages after entering the Temple by an entrance on the south side, giving a password to the Junior Warden at the foot of a winding stair, climbing the stair, and entering the room where they received them. The "vast number" of masons was of the order of 25
40,000 and it does not take much thought to establish that it is logistically impossible for that number of people to give a password and march into a relatively small room to receive their wages. Taking the password alone takes about 10 seconds, or 6 per minute. So at best, only 400 per hour could be processed, which means taking the password alone would take 100 hours. The actual paying of the wages would individually take longer that communicating the password, so it is clear that this never happened.
Do you consider it likely that the management of the work of building the Temple would go out of their way to locate the pay office upstairs of some building instead of at some easily accessible place at ground level? And where would they have paid the wages when the construction of the Temple itself was at the foundation level of construction? So the introduction of the winding stair in our ritual is to teach the moral lesson of man having to surmount an obstacle in order to receive a reward. Some effort on his part is necessary for him to obtain his reward.
The entrance on the south side is another Masonic fabrication. The Temple only had one entrance, but it suits our symbolism to give the Temple three entrances and to use these entrances in our degrees to convey our moral lessons. Again, the validity of the moral lessons we offer is not compromised because we changed the construction of the Temple. When we state in our Ritual that the Fellowcraft has passed between the two great pillars on his way to ascending the winding stair, we are adding another structural change to the Temple. The two great pillars were placed at the main entrance in the East and so the Fellowcraft could not pass between them when entering any entrance that was purported to be on the south side of the Temple. Some Masonic authorities recognize this anomaly and we have an illustration of this in the 2nd Degree Tracing Boards which we have in our lodge room in Burlington.
When the Fellowcraft has climbed the winding stair and entered the room to receive his wages, his attention is directed to a symbol which represents God, and he is told that he must "submit" to him. Our Ritual does not elaborate on this exhortation. It leaves the Fellowcraft to meditate on why his attention was directed, or drawn to, the sacred symbol, and it prominence in the centre of the building. When considered objectively, the interjection of the Deity in a purely materialistic aspect of the Fellowcraft's life needs to be examined. The answer lies in the word "submit". This word implies some communication or contact. You cannot submit to anyone or anything with having some communication or contact with whomever or whatever you are submitting to. So the real lesson which is being taught to the Fellowcraft is that he should communicate with God and to make Him a part of his daily life, and to solicit His aid in maintaining the high standards of personal conduct required of him as inculcated in the 1st Degree.
One Tracing Board is a composite picture which shows the two pillars at the entrance on the south side. The other Tracing Board comprises two pictures, one over the other. The top picture shows the entrance on the south side, but without the pillars. The bottom picture shows the main entrance of the Temple with the two pillars on either side.
This is our Regular feature of articles under the title, “Reflections.” Articles from all around the world from a variety of Constitutions and authors and adapted to use in SRA76.
The deacons’ staffs, or, as they’re called in some jurisdictions, wands, are good examples of this. They can be found in any properly equipped Masonic lodge, rising from their stands next to the chairs of the two officers who carry them. The staff of the Senior Deacon is topped by an image of the sun, while the Junior Deacon’s staff bears an image of the moon. (The tops of the wands can and do vary from Constitution, see below*) The sun and moon have several important roles in Masonic symbolism. Why though, should the deacons carry them around the lodge on the end of wooden poles?
The Deacons Staffs
To understand this, it’s necessary to put ourselves in the place of our operative brethren in the Middle Ages, working with the extremely limited technology of the time. We often forget just how easy a time, builders today have by comparison. When a construction firm today is hired to build a church, for example, nobody has to wonder which way east is; in most parts of the country, the streets are already laid out to a compass grid, and where that isn’t the case, a quick glance at a magnetic compass or a GPS screen will settle the matter once and for all.
Nearly everything in today’s speculative Masonry has at least some connection to the operative lodges of the Middle Ages, where Masons used the same working tools we do, but applied them to the more straightforward purpose of turning heaps of freshly quarried rock into castles and cathedrals. Some of the connections between the symbols of our speculative Craft and the tools of our old operative brethren are obvious. It’s not too hard for example, to figure out what working stonemasons did with chisels, mallets, and twenty-four-inch gauges. In other cases, to make sense of the operative dimension of Masonic symbols we have to look back across the centuries to ways of doing things that have long since been forgotten.
In the Middle Ages, none of this was true. When a master mason was hired to start work on a building, as often as not there were no streets at all, and streets laid out to a grid lined up with the four directions went out of fashion with the fall of the Roman Empire and wouldn’t come back into common use until the Renaissance. In the early Middle Ages, when the biggest cities in Europe were about the size of Westerly and most people lived in villages of a few dozen people each, the roads were not much more than cow paths. The magnetic compass had already been invented in China, but centuries would pass before the first 27
examples found their way to Europe, and in the meantime the builders had to figure out exactly which way east was.
hammer and two wooden stakes, and pounds one stake into the ground where each of the staffs are placed. A rope stretched between the two stakes then gave the east-west line along which the ground-plan of the church was then laid out, using more ropes and stakes . This method of finding an east-west line only works exactly on two days of the year, the spring and fall equinoxes, when the sun rises due east and sets due west. In the Middle Ages, though, it became customary to lay out the ground-plan of each church on the day assigned to the saint who would preside over the church. Thus, a church that would be dedicated to St. Mary would have its east-west axis set on Lady Day, May 1, a church that would be dedicated to St. Michael would have the same task done on the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, September 29 and so on.
They had to do this because the traditions of the medieval Christian church required churches to be oriented in a particular way. The main doors of a church always faced east, and the nave of the church, the main body, apart from any chapels or transepts going off to the sides, ran from the doors in the east to the sanctuary and the high altar in the west. (King Solomon’s temple was the other way around, which is why Masonic lodges have the Master’s station in the east and the doors, at least symbolically, in the west.) With only the simple handmade tools builders had in the early Middle Ages, our operative brethren had to figure out the four directions fairly precisely in order to lay out the ground plan for a church. They managed it, and the tools they used have come down to us as the Deacons’ staffs.
The days when the deacons’ staffs were used in this way were long past, centuries before the guilds of operative stonemasons began the transformations that would turn them into our modern speculative Craft. Even today, though, the staffs still carry the emblems of their original purpose. The staff of the Senior Deacon in the east bears an image of the sun, since it represents the staff that was toward the rising sun. The staff of the Junior Deacon in the west bears an image of the Moon, the most variable of the heavenly bodies, since it represents the staff that was moved back and forth until it lined up with the sunrise.
Imagine for a moment that you could do back in time to watch a master mason and his apprentices and fellow crafts on a building site somewhere in Britain during the eleventh century. The sky is gray with early morning clouds, but the sun has not yet risen. The master mason sends one of his fellow crafts with a tall wooden staff to the side of the building site closest to where the sun will rise, and has another also equipped with a staff, come with him to the other side. The other workmen present make sure to stay well over to the sides. Then the sun rises. The fellow craft toward the sunrise puts one end of his staff on the ground and holds it vertically, well away from his body. The master goes to the west of the other fellow craft and tells him to move his staff left or right until the two staffs are lined up precisely against the middle of the rising sun. The master takes a
The Deacons’ Staffs By: Brother John Michael Greer Sourced from the Rhode Island Freemason Magazine. Volume Forty-Four, Issue Three. Further reading * SRA76 March 2019 for an article entitled ‘The Dove’ - Emblem of Deacons. * Also SRA76 October 2014 - ‘The Deacons Jewel’ for further information regarding Deacons jewels.
CENTRES AND CIRCLES
Our lodges represent the universe with the WM, S and J.W. representing the sun in three different positions, thus the point within a 'circle' is the symbol of the same sun, and the surrounding 'circle' of the universe. Forming a 'circle' of brethren at, or around, the altar has a specific significance to certain fraternal rituals. Masonic brethren around the world have formed many fraternal clubs referred to as 'circles' (a number of persons bound by a common tie). The Volume of the Sacred Law states: He sits enthroned above the 'circle' of the earth. This is symbolically represented in our lodges by the letter 'G' suspended from above, directly over the Volume of the Sacred Law, and of course, the altar, which is at the 'centre'. To the Creator, at the 'centre' of a 'circle' every soul of His creation is equally near and equally distant. Then we have a 'great circle' which is a 'circle' on the surface of the sphere, the plane of which passes through the 'centre' of the sphere.
What is a 'centre'? That point within a 'circle' from which every part of the circumference is equally distant. Why at the 'centre'? Because that is the point from which a M.M. cannot err. From a viewer's standpoint, the 'centre' may be described as that point to which concentration takes place, or, that point round which anything rotates or revolves. We have in our cities and towns, memorial, recreational and medical 'centres' which provide a community service.
Symbolically, when seated in the chair of King Solomon, wearing his collar of office, the W.M. represents the 'centre' and his collar of office the 'circle'. All brethren seated in the lodge are considered to be an equal distance away from the W.M.
The compasses stand for the 'circle'; they are an emblem of the sky, and hence stand for heaven in contrast to the square which stands for earth; they are a symbol of the spiritual life; of the 'circle' of brotherhood; and they are a great light. Of all plane figures the 'circle' encloses the greatest area for the least perimeter.
Given a 'centre' and with one point of the compasses located at the spot an infinite number of 'circles' of increasing size may be drawn, which may illustrate an increasing area of Masonic and Spiritual development. It is better to scribe a 'circle' and draw brethren into it than to scribe a 'circle' that shuts them out. The 'circle' informs us that in every situation of life we must learn to live within due bounds, that we may thereby be enabled to contribute freely and cheerfully to the necessities of our fellow creatures.
The 'circle' is a symbol of eternity, for it has neither beginning or ending and therefore has ever been symbolical of the Deity. The brother who lives according to the unerring standard of the Volume of the Sacred Law may hope to arrive at that immortal 'centre' whence all goodness emanates. 29
plague and death and pestilence stalked across the land. Still, through century after uncounted century, a man who sought could find the answers!
Many people believe that once, centuries ago, Mankind, as a whole, was closer to the world of Spirit than is the case today. It would be quite understandable, if that were so, that Mankind once knew the secrets of that World Unseen... not only how to receive guidance from those who had travelled Earth's pathway before them, but how to obtain Light and Knowledge from Cosmic sources.
The Ancient Mysteries once formed the heart of every great religion... and the secrets were given slowly and carefully, to its Initiates... the secrets which are the keys of the problems of Life and Death, those same problems to which thinking men seek the answers today. Even as the solution of a problem in Euclid, or the explanation of a Quadratic Equation, would alike be useless if presented to a Kindergarten child... so would the inner secrets of the Mysteries be meaningless if revealed to a mind unprepared.
Some say that Egypt was the site of the first real civilisation on the earth... some say Babylon... some say that long before Egypt and Babylon were great, thinking men lived on a fair land now beneath the waves the lost land of Atlantis. Others again, say that both Egypt and Atlantis were but colonies or offshoots of Mu, the Motherland, which existed when now rolls the great Pacific Ocean. Perhaps, even before the upheavals and cataclysms which put an end to these old lands and their inhabitants, other places were centres of culture, meeting-places for the dissemination of knowledge.
Hence, through countless ages, form and symbol has been used to convey intended meaning. To the casual observer, the symbols were (and are) merely ornamentation or ceremony. To the one who sought the hidden meaning... the meaning was (and is) there for the seeking! Freemasonry is much, much more than a derivation from the building crafts of the Middle Ages, as some would have us believe. Freemasonry is a survival of these Ancient Mysteries, which aimed at quickening evolution in their Initiates. But a Religion, or a Masonry, uninspired by Spiritual Light, a Masonry emptied of true knowledge, is as a massive doorway... leading nowhither!
Whatever the truth may be, concerning these ancient lands whose beginnings and whose endings are shrouded by the mists of Time, one thing at least seems clear. Down through the centuries, wherever there were gatherings of thinking men, there, in one form or another has existed a oneness of purpose. This oneness persisted, though fire and flood and tempest raged upon the earth... though inquisitions and persecutions threatened civilisations very existence... though
Even as, in the 3rd Degree, the tiny Light is never quenched, though the Initiate goes down into the darkness of the tomb... so, 30
no matter what the circumstances of mental and physical life, always, deep within us, burns that tiny light; that invisible, often unacknowledged, link with the Unseen.
work, and to instruct and to improve themselves in the mysteries of the antient science." If the Brethren are to work, to be instructed, and to be improved... some there must be capable of directing the work, of doing the instructing, of correcting the errors so that true improvement shall take place! And, if some such there must be... it can only be those who have sought and found the Light for themselves... those who have travelled the pathway which leads to the All-Highest!
As a blind man seeks for one who can disperse his blindness, so does an uninstructed man seek for one who can restore his mental sight! As the sun gives light and meaning to the things of the physical world, so does Masonry give Light and Meaning to the mental world! As one who has been blind, in the physical sense, must gradually be introduced to the stages of twilight and half-light, until he at last can stand in the full glow of sunshine... even so must a man, who seeks the realities of being, be introduced gradually to the wondrous glory of the Vision.
Such men there have been in all the ages. The One they sought has been known by many names... but He is still, as always, the Great Architect. He alone is the Light of Masonry... the Light of Christianity... aye, and the Light of many another Pathway by which Mankind struggles upward.
Masonry seeks to carry out this principle, as has many another of the Mysterysurvivals, and as do many of our presentday Religions. Slowly and gradually is the Light revealed to the seeker after Masonic knowledge. Too much at one time would prove useless... as the mind of an individual can only absorb a certain amount at a time. A too-rapid advancement would prove useless also (as regards Masonic understanding), for a man must walk before he can run... he must learn his "tables" thoroughly before he can work out multiplication sums correctly!
Every one who seeks the Light shall surely find it! Freemasonry is a Guardian of that Light... Freemasonry can become to you a living thing, and no mere collection of empty forms... for the Light which cometh from Above can so illumine and direct our seeking, that the dark places are made light... until we know, with a vital, shining clarity, the real purpose and meaning of those twin problems... LIFE... and DEATH! "MASONIC LIGHT" by Bro. B.C. Portsmouth, Victoria Park Lodge, No. 48, Western Australia. And sourced from the Dormer Study Group.
So, though the Light of Wisdom is surely embedded in our Ceremonies, and in our Ritual, we must remove the protecting cover, before we can glimpse that Light in its true wonder, "A Lodge," we are told, "is a place where Freemasons assemble to 31
THE BACK PAGE The Real Freemasonry A Master Mason was sitting in the shade of a large old tree when he was approached by three travellers dressed in jewels and fine robes. He heard them bickering among themselves as they walked along the twisty path in the hot sun. They stopped as they reached the tree under which he sat, and regarded him with curiosity. “I am the Grand Master of Freemasons,” said the first traveller, who wore a purple apron with many ribbons and gold jewels, “and I have ten thousand masons serving at my will and pleasure. We raise millions of dollars, we march in parades, and our brotherhood spans the globe. Come and join with me, and we will be the greatest fraternity in the world.” “Feh, you call that Freemasonry?” scoffed the second traveller. “Your group is nothing but a shadow of our Freemasonry. I am the Grand Master of the real Freemasons; we acknowledge the importance of thinkers and philosophers, and we respect the origins of our craft!” And with that the second Grand Master, in his apron decorated with various insignia, proceeded to recite the rituals of the degrees without missing a word. “Oh please, that is so tiresome!” said the third Grand Master, a woman wearing a robe embroidered with esoteric sigils and symbols, “Only we truly understand the real Freemasonry. We have studied the Wisdom of the Ancients and have divined their hidden meanings.” Waving her ceremonial athame, she magically lit three burning tapers around herself and asked “What does your Freemasonry have to compare to ours?” The Master Mason shook his head and said “I am sorry, but my own Masonry has nothing so grandiose, nor anything so esoteric, nor anything so mystical.” He rose to his feet and pointing to his 24 inch gauge and his gavel said, “Please excuse me, but my time for rest is almost finished, and I have a long way to go before I have smoothed my ashlar.” And with that, he picked up his tools and went back to work, ignoring the bickering of the three Grand Masters as they walked away in the hot sun on the twisty path . Sourced from the Masonic blog, ‘The Tao of Masonry.’
Until next month, Keep the faith! The Editor 32