Contents Page 2, ‘The Goat Newsletter’. A short Editorial by the Editor of the newsletter, outlining this Goat Issue.
Page 3, ‘Wish You Were Here,’ We take a look at some Masonic postcards, featuring the Lodge Goat!
Page 5, ‘Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’, ‘Riding the Goat.’ – Coolidge’s famous painting.
Page 7,‘Mysteries of the Lodge Goat Revealed’, The cover story for this month reveals the legend behind this leg-pulling.
Page 10, ‘The Masonic Goat’, A poem about a Lodge goat, one you might not have came across before!’
Page 12, ‘De Riding the Goat’, Are we really warned about such things as we approach the night of our Initiation? Quite frankly, yes!
Page 14, ‘Book Review’, The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides.
Page 15, ‘On the Level’, Goat trivia from cyberspace!
In the Lectures website The article for this month is ‘The Letter G’. [link]
The Goat Newsletter. It still happens to me today, and probably happens to you, whenever I’m seen by friends carrying my little brown apron case, I usually greeted with, “Off to ride the goat then?” We have all heard it; in fact, I would hazard a guess that you couldn’t count the number of times that some reference to the Masonic Goat has been made to you. People don’t mean any harm by this statement, it’s not their fault, for stories about the Lodge Goat have been handed down for over a hundred years and have been used to perpetuate the mystic of what goes on behind our closed doors. The general public are only repeating what they have heard regarding the stories about the Goat and our ancient ceremonies, and who’s to blame for this, us! Even my wife still thinks there is some truth to the Goat after all these years! The myth of the Masonic Goat and riding it, the candidate taking it home to look after it and feeding it until the next initiate joins and takes over the duties, has been used by members of our Lodges for over a century and will continue to be so for the next hundred years. There has been countless poems, stories, articles, postcards and even a book on the theme, so, this issue of the newsletter is devoted to the Lodge Goat and its place in Masonic folklore, and contains only a small fraction of material regarding the Goat that I have gathered together. It’s a light hearted look at the expression “Riding the Goat” which is probably used by more people throughout the World than any other to describe Freemasonry and our ceremonies.
When our younger Brethren tease the new Candidate about the Goat, they are following a tradition that was started by their older Brethren many years previous; we have a saying where I come from, “Its Aye Been” that sums it up perfectly. Some people say that it has no part in Masonry, true, but there is no harm in it as long as it doesn’t spill into the Lodge room, its use is best described as a schoolboy prank, and the recipient of the tale will in all likelihood be taking part in the same jape in years to come, I know I did! I can remember one Candidate after his initiation asking me about the Goat and was there one. I told him,”Yes, there is a Goat, You’re the Goat for believing it,” that Candidate went on to become Master of the Lodge! In some Lodges in Scotland during the ceremony of the first degree, the newly made candidate is ushered to the Secretary to write his name in the Candidate’s Book along with a certain word, if he attempts to do so he is stopped and chastised by the Master who reminds him of the obligation he took only a short time before, in a Lodge I frequent, this is called “falling off the Goat.” In fact, there is a Lodge in Edinburgh which takes great delight in showing a future Grand Master of Scotland’s signature with the first letter of this forbidden word! So Brethren, take this newsletter is the spirit it’s been produced, an entertaining and light-hearted look at one of our oldest Masonic ‘jokes,’ the Lodge Goat. The views expressed in this article are the Editor’s alone and are not in any way those of Lodge 76 or the GLOS.
Wish You Were Here! Masonic postcards first appeared in the early part of the last Century and have become highly collectable. The postcards were first produced in America published by the ‘The Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company,’ in New York City and within a few years the Miller and Lang Company in Great Britain began producing a version in full colour. The five shown here are from the “Are you a Mason” series featuring the Lodge Goat which are only some of the many postcards that have been produced over the years.
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge “Riding the Goat”
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was an American Painter born in 1844, he became famous for his painting of dogs in human poses like the painting, ‘Dogs playing Poker’, and the one pictured here called, ‘Riding the Goat.’ This painting has been described as a Jester entertaining a royal couple; however, over the years this has become synonymous with an initiation into a Masonic Lodge, and can be seen hanging in the ante room a number of Masonic Lodges. Cassius Coolidge was a Mason and maybe it was this membership that he got the inspiration for this painting from and could possibly have been a satire on some of the members of his Lodge, as the symbolism of Freemasonry is quite obvious within the composition of the picture, and if we look close, it presents a clear allegory of Freemasonry in General and the first degree in particular.
The first place our eyes are drawn to is the main characters in the centre of the picture, the blindfolded dog riding the goat with his conductor and being led by another conductor pulling on a rope around his neck. The symbolism of the first degree in Freemasonry is quite obvious from this group; the portraying of the candidate wearing a blindfold with a cable tow around his neck is a significant part of the first degree which is being represented in this painting. Led by two conductors, the Senior of which is leading the goat and the Junior holding the Cable Tow, they are distinguished from the rest of the group by their pointed hats, their emblems of office, and are leading the Candidate around the room to be presented to the gathered ‘Brethren.’ Notice also the carpet with the border placed in the centre of the room. To the top left of the picture sitting behind the desk, are the three principal officers of the ‘Lodge,’ look close and you will notice they are wearing the collarettes of their particular office. The central figure of this group sitting in the chair of King Solomon is wearing a crown, symbolical of representing this royal character. Looking closer still at this central figure and you will notice in his right paw he is holding a gavel. To the right of this group looking at the picture also sitting at the desk and wearing his jewel of office, sits the Secretary taking notes of the proceedings. He is wearing a red cap an emblem of Scottish Rite Masonry, (The red cap, designates that the wearer is a 32nd Degree Mason who has been invested with the "rank and decoration" of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour, usually abbreviated K.·.C.·.C.·.H.·.) as is the figure wearing the blue cap sitting directly in front of the desk. The blue cap also has a significant meaning in Scottish Rite Masonry. (The blue cap is the cap of a Fifty-Year Scottish Rite Mason.) There are many different references to Freemasonry in Cassius Coolidge’s painting, ‘Riding the Goat,’ these allusions are there in the picture that only members of the Craft would be able to point out, and it is clear the Coolidge did in fact take his inspiration for this painting from his membership of the Lodge. In all probability this group represented within this painting were different characters from his Lodge and Coolidge took the reference ‘Riding the Goat,’ which was a common term for joining Freemasonry during the early part of the last century when this picture was painted, and produced this satirical joke of a Candidate being initiated. So, take another close look at Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s painting ‘Riding the Goat,’ and see how many different references to Freemasonry you can find, but don’t worry too much about the characters smoking, that was just another of Coolidge’s little jokes! This little article was by the editor of the newsletter Brethren, and was developed from a conversation with a Brother. I’m always on the look-out for interesting articles such as this for the newsletter. If anyone has a story/article/lectures/photos or even an idea, please get in touch, I will be only too happy to include it.
The myth behind “riding the goat” is based on some superstition and good-natured teasing. By Heather K. Calloway It happened to me and it may have happened to you. As the neophyte in a group were you teased that you might have to meet, ride, or feed their “goat” to become an official member? That goat likely had a name, as did the one at my own college sorority, who was named Harvey. More common are the names Bill and Billy, but whatever its name, you probably wondered whence this curious tradition arose. Animals are prominent characters in myths, fairytales, folklore, and legends and are oftentimes the objects which fill our imaginations with superstitious fears. But why a goat? A goat is simply the common name for ruminant, clovenhoofed, horned animals. The female is known as a doe, often called a goat or nanny goat, while the male is called a buck or billy goat; the babies are referred to as kids. There are many breeds of goats, including dairy goats (Alpine or Nubian), meat goats (Boer or Spanish), miniature goats (Pygmy) and fiber goats (the ones most women prefer, Angora, known for their long and silky hair called mohair, and Kashmir, the source of the fine wool cashmere). Goats are found throughout classical literature. The Greeks portrayed Pan as a half-human god born with goat legs,
hooves, horns, and a furry upper body. Teased by the other gods for his strange appearance, he left Mount Olympus and moved to Arcadia. Goats are also found in early religious texts. The Hebrew goat is rendered as satyr in Isaiah 13:21 and 34:14, and the Old Testament has numerous other references to goats as offerings, food, and pastoral wealth, since they provided meat, milk, and their hides were used for clothing and curtains. Leviticus mentions goats in various contexts, the most important of which gives us the “scapegoat” (see Leviticus 16:6).
Mr. Bricktop, a fictional character from Masonry Exposed (1871), rides a goat in the “Fellow Calf” Degree while wearing a nightgown and bonnet and carrying a hod and candle. Photo: Courtesy Library/Museum of the Supreme Council. 33°
In Ezekiel, the goat represents the oppressors and wicked men (Ezek 34:12 and 39:18). Biblical literature also mentions the goat used as an offering and as an object of worship of false gods. Rejecting Pagan imagery, early Christians attributed Pan’s goat-like features to demonic characters. In the
Middle Ages, the Devil even appeared riding on a goat. And today it’s hardly a compliment to call someone a goat; but if you do, don’t say it in Spanish!
adequately exposed by Brothers de Hoyos and Morris in their book, Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? (3rd ed., 2004).
Even the greatest baseball team in history, the Chicago Cubs (okay, so they’re my favorite team), have a legend about a “Billy Goat Curse.” As the story goes, Billy Sianis used to bring a billy goat to Wrigley Field to goad opposing teams. In the 1945 series with Detroit, P. K. Wrigley, the Cubs owner, wanted the billy goat out of the stadium because it smelled bad. Legend has it that Sianis got mad and prophesied there would never be a World Series played at Wrigley Field again. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, the curse has remained true.
Anti-Masonic literature commonly includes sketches and engravings with wild depictions of initiations, such as those in Free Masonry Exposed (1871). This particular volume has a comical account in which a wife demanded to know what went on at the lodge. After regularly arguing about it, the husband, Mr. Bricktop, finally consented to tell his wife, Emily Jane, the secrets of Freemasonry. All that was experienced during initiation ceremonies was shared. As his story unfolds, the wild narrative of goings-on at the lodge grew and grew, including one famous ride on the goat during the “Fellow-Calf degree.” After all the husband’s trouble “to expose and explain the secrets of Masonry,” the story ends with the wife knowing that her husband had been fibbing all along.
Separating the Sheep from the Goats. So, how did these creatures become the “butt of jokes” and a way to tease new initiates during their experience? AntiMasonic literature has had a field day using goats and goat images, including the infamous “Baphomet,” allegedly a Masonic symbol and secret of the initiation ceremonies. Baphomet was said to be the “idol” which Jacques de Molay was accused of worshipping. According to Mackenzie’s Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia (1877), the word Baphomet is allegedly an abbreviated cipher of the words TEMpli Omnium Hominum Paces ABbas (The father of the Temple, the universal peace of men), thus conveying in a phrase an appropriate and universal sentiment of a Masonic nature. Baphomet reappears in the infamous hoax by Léo Taxil, The Mysteries of Freemasonry (1887). Taxil’s hoax has been humorously and
“The Rebekah Goat.” This humorous cartoon extends the goat-riding legend to the Rebekahs, the female auxiliary of the Odd Fellows. Photo: From The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides (1902) by James Pettibone
One of the most well-liked books written about lodges, fraternal groups, and goats was The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides: Butts and Goat Hairs, Gathered from the Lodge Rooms of every Fraternal Order (1902), compiled and edited by James Pettibone. The title page reads, “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men.” Its humor befits the period during which it was written, however, as it is neither politically correct nor sensitive by today’s standards. “Billy the Goat” opens the book claiming that the goat is simply around to provide mirth and entertainment. One story recalls a candidate who even provided his own goat for initiation.
Brethren, the Editor of the Lodge 76 newsletter would like to extend his grateful thanks to Heather and the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for allowing us to reproduce this great article. We are indebted for the permission and acknowledge that.
I believe that the rumor of having a goat at a ceremony can even be traced to the fraternal organizations themselves. A 1915 ritual of the Modern Woodmen of the World has a list of all of the articles used in the exemplification of the ritual. The list included twenty items such as a campfire, wigs, beards, uniforms, wineglasses, and a trick chair. Item number twenty on the list was indeed— you guessed it—a goat. Kind of makes you glad they didn’t pick a lion, doesn’t it? Article by Heather K. Calloway a native of Albuquerque, is Coordinator of Library and Museum Services and Director of Internships at the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. She received her B.A. in Religious Studies and Political Science in 1997 from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Theological Studies in 2001 from The Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colorado, and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Maryland in 2005. She has been a guest lecturer at various Masonic bodies, including the Allied Masonic Degrees and the New Mexico Lodge of Research.
Photo: Reproduced on the front cover of the Newsletter is From “The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides” (1902) by James Pettibone
The Masonic Goat Taken from the Lodge Goat and Goat Rides
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I waited, lone and weary, For my absent husband, gone to join the ancient Masons’ corps. Suddenly my heart went jumping, for I heard a dreadful bumping And a weird and awful thumping, thumping at my front hall-door. “Tis some drunken wretch,” I muttered, “mistaking it for his hall-door; Only this and nothing more.” Ah, distinctly I remember, it was not in bleak December. But wet April, and it rained as it had never rained before. Eagerly I watched the clock-hand, thinking that that horrid lodge band Surely would its members home land; some time ere the night was o’er, Ere this ghastly, ghostly night, this fearsome, gruesome night was o’er. But a voice moaned, “Nevermore.” Soon the voice wailed loud and stronger, and I could not stand it longer. “Man,” I screamed, “ or demon maybe, get you gone from my front door. Stop that everlasting thumping, or I soon will send you jumping. With a shot I’ll send you jumping, jumping headlong from my door.” Then I summoned all my courage and I opened wide the door. Still the voice cried, “Nevermore.” Deep into the darkness peering, scared I stood there, trembling, fearing, Feeling tremors which no mortal woman ever felt before. Suddenly the lightning flashing, showed a shape that toward me dashing,
From his coat the raindrops splashing, entered in at my front door. Without sign of recognition, took his stand upon the floor, T’was a goat, and nothing more. Such a poor, bedraggled Billy, that I could refrain but illy, Having from my fright recovered, laughing at the mien he bore. Not a sound or movement made he, on my best rug silent staid he, Till I really was afraid he would stand there for evermore. While the water from him trickling, running on my hardwood floor, Spoiled my rug for evermore. “Billy,” said I, “beast uncanny, don’t stand like some ancient granny, In an attitude which never any goat assumed before. Did some mishap sad befall you, did some demon mad enthral you, That uninvited you install you, where you ne’er have been before? Do you mean to stay here always? Tell me, tell me, I implore.” Quoth the goat, “For evermore.” This reply with sorrow spoken, with streaming eyes and accents broken, Filled me with a consternation, which I had not felt before. “Tell me, sirrah most respected, why appear you thus dejected, Have you mayhap been ejected from some home you had before From some happy home you had in hopeful, happy days of yore?” “Yes,” the goat replied, “and more.” “I was reared among my brothers in the hills with many others.
We were reared for noble purpose, so said they who looked us o’et. Destined were we to take part in sacred rites of Masons’ art in Giving members their first start in mysteries ne’er known before. In deep mysteries of ancient and accepted Masons’ lore. This to do for evermore. “Twas a grievous change when lately I was placed in chambers stately, Taken from my childhood’s quarters where I’d always lived before. True, they gave me kindly greeting when they heard my lonesome bleating, And at every lodge’s meeting there were things to eat galore. Yet this was no compensation for my comrades loved of yore, And I missed them evermore. “But to-night the worst befell me, lady kind I’d have you tell me If in my place you could muster courage to return there more. They a third degree were giving to your husband as I’m living, And he had to ride me whizzing, round and round about the floor. While some brothers jeered and shouted, others did but wildly roar, Screamed and yelled, and nothing more. “When I could not stand it longer, and the cries waxed loud and stronger, They led me where an opening wide yawned deep and dark beneath the floor. I must jump across this chasm, with my burden in a spasm, Scared almost to protoplasm at sight of water ‘neath the floor. His tremendous weight, O lady, his tremendous weight I bore; But I’ll do it nevermore.
“Just when I was madly leaping, m rider scarce his balance keeping, Clutching with both hands my windpipe, robbed me of my breath in store. In the ice-cold water splashing went steed and rider helpless flashing, The frightened Masons forward dashing, their Brother quickly hauled ashore, And the horror-stricken Tyler, leaving without guard the door, I escaped for evermore. Down the frightful stairs I stumbled, down into street I tumbled; Stunned and bruised, my pride offended every limb and muscle sore. Up the hill I hastened, running till I saw your light was burning, And my footsteps toward it turning, resting gladly at your door; Fir my intuition told me here was sympathy in store, And I’ll leave you nevermore.” Gaunt his goatship still is standing by the stairway near the landing, Visible to me his form in motionless before the door. Every lodge night he keeps droning, echoing my inward groaning, And together we make moaning, cherishing our grieving sore; Victims of the Lodges’ sessions keep repeating o’er and o’er, “Nevermore, nevermore!”
Brethren, I’m always on the look-out for interesting articles such as this for the newsletter. If anyone has a story/article/lectures/photos or even an idea, please get in touch, I will be only too happy to include it.
De Riding the Goat By Michael Lawrence
“Keep your back to the wall!” “Make sure you are wearing clean underwear!” “Watch out for the Goat!” Are we really warned about such things as we approach the night of our Initiation? Quite frankly, yes! However, putting this into prospective, we all know that it is no more than a schoolboy prank or rather, a gesture of brotherly affection. Of course, there is absolutely no need to be pre-warned or concerned about anything, but Initiatory rituals throughout the world have always been shrouded in mystery and invariably invoke within us great visions of personal pain or suffering. Subsequently, the goat or shall we say Liber Capricornus, has probably been associated with Freemasonry since time immemorial. Collins Dictionary provides us with the
first clues to this association: “Any sure-footed agile ruminant mammal with hollow horns, naturally inhabiting rough stony ground.” The rough stony grounds the goat inhabits are normally high hilly type regions and mountains and they can often be seen in the most inaccessible places. Strangely enough, from mans early beginnings high places and mountains have always been associated with the abode of their Deity. The goat therefore was seen as animal symbolising man in his eternal strivings to reach his God. Greek Mythology introduced Pan, the man/goat personage and the early Dionysian Artificers accepted this figure as the symbol of the Temple Builders. Temple construction was viewed by these early schools as a source of understanding the mystery and nature of God. This school produced the Ionic column, which literally held up the Temple, the symbolic home of their God. Thus we now have the Goat as a symbol of mans quest for his God and in conjunction with man, supporter or cornerstone of God’s home. Besides this representation, the goat as the astrological figure Capricorn, rules the sun when it returns from the darkness of the winter solstice and while in this sign it begins to resume its climb towards the spring equinox. Apart from its early connections with man and in particular his fertility, it also had strong maternal associations. According to ancient mythology it was the she-goat Almathea, who fed the infant Jupiter with milk.
To the medieval occultists, especially the Rosicrucians, the goat symbolised the elemental energies of the earth, the sign of Saturn and the alchemical element derived from them. In the Tarot, the Devil is shown as a goat headed Deity with a man and woman chained to him. The early Celtic people worshipped Cernnunos, the goat headed, horned God of the wood. While the Templars were accused of worshipping the Goat of Mendes, a goat headed Diety being formed as both male and female. In covens, witches also saw the goat head as symbolising some ancient Deity. The expression to “ride the goat” would appear to come from the medieval times when groups of Clerical Knights and Military Orders made up of priests, differentiated themselves from regular knights by choosing to ride upon goats rather than horses. Of course, the upturned hollow goats horn or cornucopia has great significance for the Stewards of the Lodge. Their jewel of Office consists of a full cornucopia or horn of plenty, symbolising abundance, placed within the open arms of a pair of compasses denoting that the refreshments or contents of the horn of plenty are not to be wasted in extravagance, but to be used within the bounds of reason and propriety.
numbered among those on the right, a place reserved for those to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The left, is a place which is reserved for those considered goats, who will be cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels. Traditionally, it has been the enemies of Freemasonry who have tried to ridicule our practices and in particular our Initiation ceremony. However, the failure of such falsehoods can be judged by the way Freemasons themselves join in this raillery. So the next time somebody offers you some unconventional advice about our Craft, always remember that a true Freemason is obligated to “.....never reveal any part or parts, point or points of the secrets or mysteries of or belonging to Free and Accepted Masons in Masonry.....” Therefore if there is a goat, you can be sure you will be the last one to know about it. This Article from 2004 by Michael Lawrence was taken from The Freemason.com website, to whom our grateful thanks go.
It was the medieval priests of Christianity who began to equate the goat with the devil and all wickedness. Probably because of Matthew 25: 31-46 which explains what will happen when that Bright Morning Star (Revelations 22:16) rises. The sheep will be
Book Review ……. The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides by James Pettibone.
The book "The Lodge Goat and Goat Rides" compiled and edited by James Pettibone, was first published in 1902 this highly collective book contains more than a thousand anecdotes, incidents and illustrations from the humorous side of Lodge life. Although long out of print, and very difficult to get, occasionally one can come across a copy in specialised book webs sites and EBAY now and again, although there are a couple of sites offering PDF files of the book. Also in Goggle books a limited preview of the book is available. Running to 600 pages the book relates many tales regarding the Lodge Goat, and in its pages are poems that the reader might never have come across before. Printed and Published in America this book offers a wonderful insight into the Brethren of the early part of the 20th Century and well worthy of a look if you can find a copy. “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men.”
On the Level Masonic items that I have come across Surfing the net!
The photograph above shows a car mascot which sat on the car bonnet, (hood to you yanks!) It was manufactured in the 1920â€™s and is a nickel plated zinc die cast from America. Until next month, Keep the faith!
Published on May 28, 2012