The Builder Magazine

December 1916 – Volume II – Number 12


Part 1

Continued in Part 2

.xx Next Month: January 1917
Previous Month: November 1916www General Index


By Bro. Frederick W. Hamilton, Massachusetts


DE MOLAY confessed only to spitting on the cross, denying the other allegations. He seems to have been led to this partial confession, which in a way was an evidence of weakness, by several considerations. One was fear of torture. Although De Molay appears to have been a man of personal courage in the battle field and was capable of dying a painful death with heroic resignation, as we shall see later, he seems to have shrunk from the threat of torture. He was also promised clemency if he would confess and he appears to have believed that a partial confession would open the door to freedom and enable him not only to save himself, but the other Knights. We must remember that De Molay throughout was conscious of his responsibility as Grand Master, and in all his actions he appears to have felt that he must consider not only himself but the brethren of the Order who were under his command. He also feared a definite charge of sodomy aimed against himself. There is no reason to believe that there was a slightest proof for such a charge but De Molay's enemies were active, ingenius, and unscrupulous. They had manufactured a case against him and they had witnesses ready to sustain the charge by perjured testimony. In those days escape was difficult if the tribunal desired to convict and there is little doubt that if De Molay had been tried upon this charge he would have been convicted. No matter how unjust such a conviction, it would have meant death and dishonour. It is no wonder that De Molay was not willing to face this. Under these circumstances he made his confession, but he declared that he would offer satisfactory explanation if only he could be allowed to submit it in person to the King or the Pope. What this explanation probably was we shall see later. It is needless to say, however, that De Molay was not permitted to make it, and his confession was held by his enemies for all it was worth and more.

When Pope Clement heard of these proceedings he was extremely angry. He immediately issued an edict suspending the Grand Inquisitor, and sent a committee of cardinals to investigate and report. Unfortunately, however, the case had gone too far to be stopped, as the King perfectly well knew. Individuals might be punished, but in some way or another proceedings would have to go on. Philip was not in the least daunted by the Pope's anger or disturbed by his interference. He arranged for a conference between himself and Clement which was held in June, 1308. The King, who, throughout these proceedings shows himself to have been much the stronger personality of the two, took the aggressive by demanding of the Pope five extremely unpalatable things.

  1. Canonization of Celestine V.
  2. Condemnation of Boniface VIII for heresy.
  3. A general Council to take into comprehensive consideration the affairs of

the Church.

  1. Papal absolution for De Nogaret.
  2. Removal of the papacy from Rome to Avignon.

Clement yielded with regard to the canonization of Celestine, the absolution of De Nogaret, and the removal of the papacy. This was the beginning of the long residence of the popes at Avignon which is known in history as the "Babylonish Captivity." The condemnation of Boniface and the general Council were two things to which he was entirely unwilling to consent. In return for the relinquishment of these points he did exactly what Philip had foreseen and desired; he abandoned the defense of the Templars.

After considerable negotiation a bargain was struck between the Pope and the King. Two sets of terms were agreed upon, one to be made public but not to bind either the Pope or the King, the other to be kept secret but to be regarded as binding. According to the first, which was a tissue of treacherous falsehoods, the Templars were to be taken from the French-authorities and placed in the hands of the Pope as representing the Church. The property of the Order was to be held in trust by the Church and the proceeds were to be used for carrying on the crusade; that is to say for the purpose for which it was originally intended. The suspension of the Grand Inquisitor and others who had been involved with him was to be removed. The terms of the private agreement were far different. The Church, on the plea that it had no facilities for the care of so large a number of prisoners, was to leave the persons of the Templars in the hands of the King. The property, instead of being held and administered by the Church, in trust, was to be held by Philip on behalf of the Church and was to be administered by a Board of Administrators, half of whom were to be appointed by the Pope and the other half secretly appointed by King Philip. In other words, the Templars and their goods were handed over to the tender mercies of the King. Such was the price in humiliation and dishonour which Clement paid for the title of Successor of St. Peter.

The next act in this tragedy was the summoning of a Council to try the Order as a whole. Henceforth here were two processes simultaneously going on, one against the Knights as individuals and one against the Order as a corporation. This gave opportunity for more treachery.

As we have seen, the King had played the game with loaded dice from the beginning and now the dice were loaded even more heavily than ever, if such a thing were possible. A net was spread from which it was well nigh impossible for any one to escape, while the proceedings were extended to other countries. It is not necessary to go into the details of the story of the proceedings outside France. In a general way, so far as the individual Knights were concerned, they were similar to the French proceedings although conducted with varying degrees of severity according to the temper of the several monarchs who were concerned in the matter. Actions against the Order as a whole were covered by the proceedings which we are about to trace.

Knights were summoned from far and near to come to the defence of the Order in its hour of trial. They were asked by the papal authorities to come and speak in its defence and they naturally understood that this implied personal immunity. They soon found, however, that nothing of the sort was intended. When each Knight appeared he was asked if he desired to defend the Order. If he said that he did he was immediately made a defendant, not only in the process against the Order but in the personal process against the Knights. If he took alarm and said that he did not wish to defend the Order, he was held as a witness, liable to examination under torture.

Many Knights, trusting to their immunity as witnesses, withdrew their former confessions which, as will be remembered, were obtained under torture. They withdrew these confessions because they were false and because they desired to defend the Order as a whole against the charges to which they had personally pleaded guilty under compulsion. Considerable numbers of those who withdrew their confessions in this way were immediately burned as relapsed heretics. This, by the way, was the ordinary procedure in those days in the case of dealings with heresy. As a rule there was very little chance for the accused to escape. If he refused to confess he was convicted and burned on the testimony of others. If he confessed and withdrew his confession he was burned as a relapsed heretic. If heconfessed and did not withdraw the confession, he was burned as a confessed heretic. About the only difference was that in the last case he received absolution, which was supposed to save his soul, and was sometimes able to save his property for his family. Moreover, not content with the ordinary partiality of judicial proceedings in those days, the two sets of proceedings were made to play into each other and evidence obtained in either trial was used indiscriminately against the defendants in both.

Interest centers largely around the tragic figure of De Molay. As we have already seen, he had been examined by the Grand Inquisitor in 1306 and had made a partial confession. He was kept in close confinement although he demanded an opportunity to appear before the Pope who, it will be remembered, was the only person in Christendom to whom he owed allegiance, and submit to him an explanation of the acts with which he was charged.

In 1308 he was visited by three cardinals sent by the Pope. He was solemnly assured that he was now in the hands of the Church, from whose clemency and aversion to cruelty and bloodshed everything favorable could be expected. He was promised mercy by both the Pope and the King on the strength of a full and free confession. He renewed his confession, although he did not extend its scope, and threw himself on the mercy of the Church. He was given absolution by the cardinals, was restored to the communion of the Church, and was actually given the sacrament by the cardinals. This was distinctly stated by the cardinals in a report which they made to the Pope.

In spite of all these facts, however, he was not set at liberty, though he vigorously demanded it and urged the fulfillment of the promises which had been made to him.

In November, 1309, De Molay was brought before the Council which was trying the Order. Being asked if he would defend the Order he refused to plead. He appealed to the Pope, pleading the rights of the Order and demanding to be heard by the Pope in person. In response to the charge of idolatry he made solemn affirmation of orthodoxy. Being charged by De Nogaret with having dealings with the Saracens contrary to his vows and to the interests of Christendom, he said that the alleged dealings consisted only of truces and treaties made with them as incidents of warfare and for the sake of saving the Christians in the Orient from disaster. The charge of sodomy was brought up, but was not pressed with much vigor and the prosecution failed to establish it by even plausible testimony. De Molay then demanded to be set at liberty, claiming the failure of the accusations and the promises of both the Pope and the King. The request, however, was denied and he was sent back to his dungeon.

The tedious proceedings against the Order dragged on for three years. Every effort was made to suppress the defense and to discourage or destroy the defendants of the Order. Again and again the chosen representatives of groups of Knights were either executed or silenced. Executions continually took place as the result of the other set of proceedings and care was taken that these executions should be as damaging as possible to the defence of the Order.

The proceedings lasted until May 6, 1312, when the Pope, by a summary exercise of his authority, dissolved the Order. It is important to note that the Order was never condemned. The proceedings against the Order were never finished. While they were still going on the Pope intervened and put a stop to the proceedings and to the Order at the same time. Examination of the evidence shows that the charges were not substantiated, at least in any way which would appear to satisfy modern ideas. It is quite probable, however, that had the proceedings been allowed to come to their natural end the Order would have been condemned. It is difficult to see how the Pope and King could have permitted the proceedings to come to any other conclusion.

The intervention of the Pope was for the particular purpose of saving the immense properties of the Order for the Church. By the law of that day the property of a condemned heretic passed not to the Church but to the State. If the Order of the Temple had been condemned for heresy its immense possessions would have passed to the rulers of the countries in which they were located and the Church would not have touched a penny. Dissolution of the Order, however, without condemnation threw its numerous properties, scattered over Europe and the east, into the hands of the Church. Pope Clement was not so sincere a defender of orthodoxy that he had the slightest intention of taking all his trouble for the purpose of enriching Philip of France and other kings of Europe. He preferred to let the Order go uncondemned, to leave the Knights to the tender mercies of kings and inquisitors, and to save the money for the Church.

In this, however, he was only partially successful. It will be remembered that in France, at least, the King was the custodian of the property of the Templars and he succeeded in keeping a very large part of it. The same thing happened to a greater or less extent in the other countries. The Pope, however, succeeded in getting a portion of the wealth into his possession and a considerable part of this finally found its way into the hands of the Hospitalers. It is not to be understood that the Hospitalers were participants in the proceedings against the Templars. The Order of the Hospitalers was the greatest militant Order of Knights in existence except the Templars and the natural administrator of property given in trust for the crusades.

De Molay remained in prison until December, 1313, when he was brought before three French cardinals. The old vague promises of mercy were made and De Molay once more renewed the old confession again without extending its scope. He was taken back to his dungeon and told that at a certain time the cardinals would make their final decision in the case. Trusting to the repeated promises which had been made, De Molay came before them on March 10, 1314, expecting liberation, probably accompanied by heavy penance and possibly other penalties. To his amazement he was sentenced to life imprisonment. De Molay, it will be remembered, had been in prison for seven years. Whether he had been actually tortured or not is not quite certain, but imprisonment itself was torture in those days and De Molay was not willing to face the prospect of a further imprisonment which could terminate only in his death. He was shocked, angry, and broken hearted at the treachery which he had met at the hands of both State and Church. As soon as the sentence was announced, De Molay arose in his place and retracted his confession, declaring that it was not true, that he had confessed only out of willingness to please the King and the Pope and a desire to help his brethren, and that he now wished to withdraw his confession, proclaim its untruth, and take the consequences. The cardinals, in confusion, adjourned their court until the next day. This was something entirely unexpected and they desired time to think it over.

King Philip, however, had no intention of allowing his prey to escape him or of giving the cardinals the desired opportunity for meditation. That very night De Molay was taken from his prison by a detachment of the King's guards and burned at the stake on a little island in the Seine. In spite of the high-handedness of these proceedings, involving the invasion of the rights of the Church by taking its prisoner from its hands and putting him to death, the cardinals did not dare to raise a word of protest, so great was the ascendancy which the King had obtained over the Pope. It is stated by tradition that when De Molay went to the stake, he solemnly summoned the Pope and the King to meet him before the bar of eternal justice within one year. Whether or not this legend is true, it is true that within the year Clement and Philip were both in their graves.

Whether for good or evil the Order of the Temple was suppressed forever. No other body of men ever enjoyed such wealth, such power, such privileges, and such immunities as had been enjoyed by the Templars. Whether they had used them wisely or not, it is not always easy to say. That they were in a very real sense injurious to both State and Church, we shall probably all agree. That the Templars did not deserve so cruel a fate as that which overtook them seems clearly established. In order to make this point clear, let us make a brief examination of the indictment drawn against the Order and the probable truth, or lack of it, in the charges.

The indictment against the Order contained 117 articles, or counts as we should style them. This great number of counts was partly the result of technical repetitions. In many cases the same accusations were repeated in different forms, the first charging that a specified offence was committed by all of the Knights, the second that it was committed by most of them, and the third that it was committed by some of them.

Stripped of verbiage and repetition the charges came down to the following:

  • Denial of Christ.
  • Defiling the Cross.
  • Requiring indecent kisses from the candidates.
  • Denial of the sacrament of the altar.
  • Omission of the most significant words from the mass.
  • Granting of absolution for sins, even when not confessed, by the Grand Master.
  • Exacting an oath never to leave the Order.
  • Holding secret conclaves.
  • Permission to the members to practice sodomy.
  • Actual practice of sodomy.
  • Worship of Idols.
  • Adoration of a cat.
  • Use of cords which had been touched to an idol.
  • Murder of candidates for refusing to take the oath of secrecy
  • Murder of members for revealing the secrets of the Order.
  • Confession only within the limits of the Order and not to outside priests.
  • Failure to correct or reveal the evils which the members of the Order knew to exist.
  • Failure to discharge the duties of hospitality which were incumbent upon the Order.
  • Covetousness and rapacity in obtaining possession of the property of others.
  • The indictment closed by alleging the confessions which we have already

considered as proof of the truth of the charges.

It would be tedious, perhaps, to examine the charges in detail, but a few of them should have careful consideration.

We know that the conclaves of the Order were held in secret and that no outsiders were admitted to their ceremonies. That was not a crime, but it was a cause of suspicion.

We have no sufficient evidence either that candidates were murdered for refusing to take the oath or that members were murdered for revealing the secrets. In this respect, as in some others, the agitation reminds us of the anti-Masonic charges of a later time and especially of those connected with the name of Morgan. Fundamentally the same human characteristics are involved.

Charges of immorality are certainly not substantiated by the evidence. That there were immoral individuals in the Order could hardly be denied. It would be impossible that so large a body of men should be free from unworthy members. It would be rash to deny that there were individual cases of sodomy. The crime was common in the middle ages and has always been the curse of celibate communities. That it was particularly common among the Templars or sufficiently common to blacken the fame of the whole Order is absolutely without proof. Indeed there is very little evidence in the trial bearing at all upon this point.

The charge that the practice was permitted finds absolutely its only shadow of foundation in the fact that a section of the "rule" provides that when there were not sufficient accommodations for each Knight to have a separate bed, two might occupy the same bed rather than that one should lie upon the floor.

The charge of covetousness and rapacity is natural. When a rich noble died and left all his property to the Order his heirs, naturally enough, were not particularly pleased. They doubtless had a good deal to say about undue influence and other things which we hear about today. That the action of the Order was particularly objectionable in this respect does not appear from the evidence.

The charge of parsimony and lack of hospitality was abundantly refuted.

The charge of heresy or the holding of forbidden beliefs was not proved and was always denied by the Knights.

The omission of significant words from the mass or any other form of blasphemy was not only unproved but was vigorously denied by practically all of the witnesses. The charges relating to heresy are denied not only by the testimony of the witnesses but by the entire history of the Order. It is extremely probable that the cosmopolitan character of the Order and the contact of its members with men of many nationalities and of different faiths had the inevitable result of broadening their views and giving them a certain toleration and largeness of personal outlook. It is very difficult for a man who comes constantly in contact with all sorts and conditions of men and with a great number of national and racial types to continue a fanatic. During the whole course of their existence, however, the Knights were the foremost to shed their blood and spend their lives for the Christian faith, that is to say for orthodox catholicism. They were the cutting edge of the crusading armies, rivaled in this regard only by the Hospitalers. Again and again detachments of the Knights were cut down to the last man fighting for the cross and refusing to surrender to the infidel or even to flee from him. Men do not show such determination as this for a faith in which they do not believe.

As for the matter of confession and absolution. We know that the rule of the Order especially provided that the members should have their own chaplains, to whom they should make their confessions when it was possible to do so. This rule was drawn up by St. Bernard and approved by the Pope. Obedience to it on the part of the Knights could hardly be considered a crime. It was abundantly proved that the Grand Master did not give ecclesiastical absolution. He did have the right to receive disciplinary confessions, to condone offences against the Order, or to inflict disciplinary penance. This was a purely administrative matter and had nothing to do with clerical absolution. No Grand Master ever presumed to give clerical absolution.

The charge of idolatry arose from a curious misapprehension. It was alleged that the Templars worshiped a brazen head. This head, it was said, had a white beard and rested upon a tall tripod. To this head the Templars were said to pray, and it was charged that the cords which they wore as a part of their habits were consecrated to it by being touched to it. The great church of the Templars in Paris possessed a very sacred relic. It was said to be the head of one of the 11,000 virgins who were martyred with St. Ursula at Cologne. It is interesting to know, by the way, that the legend of the 11,000 virgins rests upon a misreading of an old Roman inscription. The inscription tells of "XI M Virgines." M was read as an abbreviation for "mille" but it was really the abbreviation for "martyres" and instead of being read 11,000 virgins it should have been read 11 virgin martyrs. However, the head in question was believed to be the head of one of the virgins, whether there were eleven or eleven thousand. This head was covered with a white linen cloth and was covered again by a gold or bronze case in the shape of a head. When the case was slipped over the head the linen cloth showed at the base of it. The relic was displayed on special occasions before the high altar of the church, mounted on a tripod. This was the bearded, brazen head which the Templars were said to worship. There were probably reproductions of this reliquary in other Temple churches. It is probable that the Templars were glad to consecrate their cords by touching them to this sacred relic as was a common practice in those days.

The charge that indecent kisses were required is probably true, though not as a universal practice. This appears from a considerable number of depositions. This was done probably from one or both of two reasons. It may have been required as a test of obedience. It will be remembered that the Knight swore the three great vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Obedience was held to be absolute. Once the Knight had sworn he was under this bond and was bound to do without question anything that he was told to do by his knightly superior. His obedience was immediately tested by this requirement. The second reason is almost unintelligible today but is perfectly intelligible to anyone who is familiar with the life and habits of the middle ages. It was a rough joke, and it was the kind of thing that the medieval mind considered funny. Wit and humour as we know them were very rare in the middle ages. Their places were taken by unspeakable coarseness. Anyone who is familiar with the art, literature, and drama of the middle ages is only too familiar with this fact. The more filthy and indecent the story or incident the more it appealed to the rough humour of the time and the louder the laugh which it excited. Contrasts of rough buffoonery with the most solemn incidents appealed to the minds of the people of that age. It was only in accord with the habits of the time that after the solemn ceremonies of the initiation the candidates should be subjected to a bit of foolish buffoonery.

There remains the charge of denial of Christ and defiling the cross. That there was any denial beyond the alleged defilement of the cross does not appear. That the candidates were sometimes, not always, commanded to spit upon the cross or otherwise defile it was confessed by De Molay and seems to be clearly established by other testimony. It will be remembered, however, that De Molay insisted that he could explain the fact, and the explanation appears in the testimony of some of the witnesses. Witnesses usually testified that they did not spit upon the cross but upon the ground near the cross, and some of them testified that when commanded to do so they refused. Those who refused were congratulated upon their courage and told that they would certainly be good soldiers of the cross. In other words the command to defile the cross was a test. The candidate having sworn obedience and having sworn to serve as a defender of the cross was immediately put to the most difficult and trying of all tests, a test which involved conflict of obligations. He was called upon to choose whether he would fulfill his vow of obedience at the expense of his vow of loyalty to the cross, or whether he would carry his loyalty to the cross so far as to break his oath of obedience. It must be remembered that this was an age in which obedience was a virtue and that the efficiency of the Order, or any similar body, depended upon the absolute obedience of its members to the orders which they received. As has already been pointed out the loyalty of the Order to the cross is written in blood on every page of its history, whatever may have occurred at the initiation. Undoubtedly the explanation De Molay would have made, if he had been given opportunity to do it, was the one just indicated, that this ceremonial requirement was a test and entirely void of any deeper significance.

A survey of the charges and the evidence seems to show that the condemnation of the Templars was an act of great injustice and that the suppression of the Order was certainly not warranted by the charges which were brought against it. That the privileges and immunities of the Order worked to the weakening of the state, the impairment of the king's power and authority, the injury of the Church, and the lessening of the authority of the bishops, must be clear to anyone. That both Pope and King breathed easier after the Order had ceased to exist is entirely probable, but that its crimes were such as to deserve the treatment it received certainly does not appear from any facts in our possession or brought out at the trial.

One question will at once arise in the minds of every Mason, "Did the Order survive its suppression and is there any direct connection between the ancient Templars and modern Templar Freemasonry?"

So far as we have any evidence this question must be answered in the negative. Legend states that De Molay appointed a successor and a line of Grand Masters is named connecting the ancient and modern Orders. De Molay had no right to appoint a successor. The election of Grand Master is carefully provided for in the rule of the Order and no provision is made for any other form of procedure under any circumstances. There is no evidence whatever for the authenticity of the list which is sometimes given.

Some of the Templars who survived joined other orders and some of them passed their remaining days in obscurity or imprisonment. There is no traceable connection between the ancient Knights of the Temple and any modern order. The most we can say is that it is possible that the traditions and even the secrets of the Order were cherished by its surviving members after the Order was dissolved. Men do not easily forget things which have been very dear to them, for which they have suffered, and for which they have seen their companions die. That there was any esoteric rule or belief among the Templars, we have no evidence. That there was a certain freedom of thought and breadth of view would be the inevitable result of that cosmopolitanism and contact with the outside world of which we have taken account. It may be that the survivors of the Order, hoping against hope that it might some day revive, may have communicated their hopes, their aspirations, their ritual, their views, and their secrets, if such there were, to their chosen friends and in this way the soul of the Order may have survived until it reappeared in other forms, and its ideas and ideals may have been influential some centuries later in the development of those movements which resulted in the transformation of Masonry from its old operative into its modern speculative form. But all this lies in the field of conjecture. As far as the sober historian can see the Order of the Temple ceased with the edict of May 6, 1312, which absolved the Order, and the tragedy of March 10, 1314, which ended the life of De Molay.

Return to Top



1. More ancient than the Golden Fleece
Whose story shines in classic lore:
Or Roman Eagle which portrayed
Chivalric deeds in days of yore.

2. More honoured than the Knightly Star,
Or Royal Garter, it must be;
A symbol you should fondly keep
From spot and stain forever free.

3. It may be that in coming years,
As time shall all your labours test:
That laurel leaves of Victory
Shall on your brow in honour rest.

4. Yea, from your breast may jewels hang
Fit any diadem to grace:
And sparkling gems of beauty rare
May on your person find a place.

5. Nay more, perchance with coming light,
Your feet may tread the path of fame:
Which in our Mystic order leads
To glory, and an honoured name.

6. Yes, on your shoulders there may rest
The purple which we hold so dear:
That ensign which our progress marks
In high fraternal Circles here.

7. But never more can you receive
From mortal hand while here below:
An emblem which such honour brings
As this one which I now bestow.

8. Until your spirit shall have passed
Beyond the pearly gates above:
May this the "Badge of Innocence"
Remind you of your vows of love.

9. 'Tis yours to wear throughout your life,
'Till death shall call your soul to God:
Then on your casket to be placed,
When you shall sleep beneath the sod.

10. Its spotless surface is a type
Of that which marks a noble mind:
The rectitude of heart and life,
Which in its teachings you should find.

11. And when at last your weary feet
Shall reach the goal awaiting all:
And from your tired nerveless grasp
The working tools of life shall fall.

12. May then the record of your life,
Reflect the pure and spotless white
Of this fair token which I place
Within your keeping here tonight.

13. And as your naked soul shall stand
Before the great white throne of light;
And judgement for the deeds of earth
Shall issue there to bless or blight;

14. Then may you hear the Welcome Voice
That tells of endless joys begun,
As God shall own your faithfulness,
And greet you with the words, "Well Done.”
N. A. McAulay

Return to Top



By Bro. Hiram Bingham, Yale University

(Born in Honolulu in 1875, Brother Bingham holds the degree of B.A. from Yale and Ph.D. from Harvard. He was Preceptor in History and Politics at Princeton in 1905. Explored Bolivar's Route across Venezuela and Colombia in 1906-7. Professor at Yale since 1915, also Lecturer in Diplomatic History at Johns Hopkins University. He was a Delegate to the Panama-American Scientific Congress at Santiago de Chile in 1908. In 1909 he explored the Spanish Trade Route, Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Lima (Peru). He was Director of the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911. Discovered Vitcos, the last Inca capital and made the first ascent of Mt. Coropuna, 21,703 feet above sea-level. He was also Director of two other Yale Peruvian expeditions, in 1912 and 1914-15. He is the author of the following works: – "Journal of an Exploration across Venezuela and Colombia"; "Across South America"; "In the Wonderland of Peru"; "The Monroe Doctrine, An Obsolete Shibboleth.")

EVER since the publication of Prescott's charming classic, "The Conquest of Peru," that land has been surrounded by more of a romantic halo than any other in the southern continent. The marvelous civilization which the Incas had built up in their mountain fastnesses lacked one essential feature of great importance – the art of writing. There are no written records to give us accounts of what happened previous to the coming of the Spaniards, except such as were prepared by Spanish chroniclers and obtained by them from the mouths of native witnesses. There are no hieroglyphics carved on the stone monuments like those elaborate records that puzzle the Central American explorer.

The civilization of the Incas reached its highest point in architecture and works of engineering. The feats performed by the ancient workmen were of almost incredible magnitude. Apparently they thought nothing of moving for a distance of several miles huge blocks of stone weighing from ten to twenty tons.

Fortunately their architecture was of such a splendid type that extensive examples of it still remain to delight the eye and challenge the intellect. Among these are certain carved boulders which were places of worship, – ancient shrines that attracted pilgrims from far and near. It is generally supposed that these carved boulders antedate the Incas by many centuries.

Although in Inca architecture great attention was paid to right angles, horizontals and perpendiculars, the houses being nearly always rectangular and the more beautiful walls laid out with exquisite artistic appreciation of such principles, there exist in the ancient carvings on the boulders evidences that the megalithic folk – as the pre-Incas are sometimes called – had a high appreciation of the symbolic numbers three, five and seven, and of the significance of right angles, squares and steps.

The most interesting of all these ancient shrines is Nusta Isppana, near Vitcos, in the heart of the Vilcabamba country at the place where Manco, the last Inca, who was set up by Pizarro and rebelled against him, sought refuge. In the words of Prescott, "The royal fugitive took shelter in the remote fastnesses of the Andes."

In 1911 I had the good fortune to be able to lead a Yale-Peruvian Expedition into this region, which is indeed one of the most inaccessible in all the highland country of South America. While our tasks included studies in geology, biology and anthropology, and we were prepared to make reconnaissance maps of this virtually unexplored region, one of our chief objects was the location of Vitcos, the capital of the last Inca.

We were able to locate it because of the description of its principal shrine, the holiest place near Vitcos, which was described as follows by Father Calancha in an early Spanish chronicle. I give a free translation from the chronicle:-

"Close to Vitcos, in a village called Chuquipalpa, is a House of the Sun, and in it a white stone over a spring of water (now called Nusta Isppana) where the Devil appears as a visible manifestation and was worshipped by those idolaters. This was the principal mochadero of these forested mountains. (The word ''mochadero” is the common name which the Indians apply to their places of worship.")

Now let us look at some of the features of this ancient shrine, the principal place of worship in this region. The photographs give a better idea of it than I can in words, but you will notice that on the north side of the rock its face has been cut away. leaving in relief certain projections. Near the top are three arranged in a triangular position; beneath them is a row of seven – one toward the east being set off at a little distance from the other six, as though of more importance. Below these and leading down to what was formerly a pool of water, are two flights of stairs, of three and five steps. On the other side of the rock; that is, on the south side, is a series of carvings, the most conspicuous feature of which is a large square cut in the solid rock. It is surely highly significant that this ancient shrine which was undoubtedly the most sacred place for a very large extent of country, should have given such prominence to a representation of the square and the mystic numbers three, five and seven.

An event occurred near here at the time of the Spanish Conquest which is also very interesting. It is related in full in the Royal Commentary, of the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, who was Prescott's chief authority. Manco Inca was at war with the Spaniards from the year following their coming until 1546. Several Spanish refugees, whom one of the chroniclers calls "Fugitive Spanish rascals," having fled from the power of the Pizarros, were living with Manco Inca, in Vitcos.

The Inca to entertain them had prepared a bowling-green near his palace, which was a few hundred yards from this ancient shrine. One day when playing with some of the Spanish refugees, the Inca got into a quarrel with them in regard to the game. One of the Spaniards, who had often lost his temper in playing before, became so rude and insolent toward the Inca that the latter – who was apparently fairly good-tempered – could not stand it. The Incas were sedate an not excitable and could hardly understand the wild fury of the Spaniard over this game. The Inca pushed the Spaniard violently away, bidding him consider with whom he talked in such a rude manner. The refugee, not considering in his passion either his own safety or that of his companions, picked up one of the bowls and struck the Inca on the head so as to kill him.

The followers of the Inca, enraged at the death of their prince, at once attacked the Spaniards, who fled into a house and defended it with their swords until the Incas set fire to the thatched roof and forced the Spaniards to come out. They were then assaulted an killed by the soldiers of the Inca. What followed I shall endeavor to give as nearly as possible in the words of the Inca Garcilasso:-

"When the followers of the Inca secured the dead bodies, out of pure madness they would have eaten them raw to show the wrath which they had against them, even though they were already dead. Nevertheless they determined that the bodies should be burned and that their ashes should be scattered downstream in order that there might not remain any trace nor vestige of them. But finally it was decided to cast them out into the fields in order that the birds of the air and beasts of the field might devour them. They decided on this, for they were not able to think of any greater punishment for the bodies."

The enormity of the punishment and its highly revolting character were evidently selected by the Inca nobles as best fitting the enormity of the crime which had been committed in murdering their political and religious chief. To their minds the casting out of the bodies to be devoured by the vultures of the air and beasts of the field was evidently a more horrible penalty than that of having the bodies burned and the ashes scattered so that no remembrance of them might be left. It is surely extremely interesting to learn the details of the punishment which the Incas thought most nearly fitted the most serious crime of which they could conceive.

Another ancient pre-Inca shrine is located not far from the city of Abancay. It is called Concacha and seems to be particularly devoted to presenting the symbolism of steps which are arranged in threes and fives. Unfortunately all recollection of the importance of this shrine and its significance has been lost.

Finally let me call your attention to Machu Picchu and the most beautiful wall that exists in Peru, one of the most beautiful in the world. The photographs do not do it justice, but it is quite evident, I think, that here we have an ornamental wall constructed with the utmost care and art. The general design is that of a square and part of a circle. The blocks of which the wall was constructed were selected from the finest and purest white granite obtainable. Although it was made without steel or iron tools by people who understood only working stone with stone, such was their devotion to the principles of horizontals and right angles that we have this simple form of beauty exemplified to a remarkable degree. There is no cement or mortar used in this construction. The blocks were cleverly keyed together, their interior surfaces not being flat nor square, but irregular. One block fits into another so that the wall must stand or fall as a whole.

It seems evident to me that the ancient race, who left such remarkable monuments in the Andes, must have appreciated some of the essential principles of the Craft. This race still exists. And it is the belief of those of us who have spent most time in the Andes, that the future of the Andean Republics depends on the millions of Indians living there today who are the descendants of the former builders. Unfortunately their present leaders, both civil and religious, have permitted them to become steeped in ignorance and immorality. Their tax gatherers are so interested in the revenue from alcohol (aguardiente) and cocaine (coco) that they willingly overlook the fearful evils which the unrestricted use of these two is working among the majority of their countrymen. With proper laws, suitable restrictions on the use of drugs and liquors, the blessings of education and morality, there is no reason why the great majority of the denizens of the Central Andes should not in time again enjoy some of the blessings of their glorious past. There is strength in the bone and sinew of this fallen race to enable it to be raised to that high level where it once worked.

Return to Top



When I was King and a Mason – a master proven and skilled -
I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build.
I decreed and cut down to my levels, presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built.

There was no worth in the fashion – there was no wit in the plan-
Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran-
Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone:
"After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known."

Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned groundworks grew
I tumbled his quoins and ashlars, and cut and reset them anew.
Lime I milled of his marbles; burned it, slacked it, and spread;
Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.

Yet I despised not nor gloried; yet as we wrenched them apart
I read in the razed foundations the heart of that builder's heart.
As though he had risen and pleaded, so did I understand
The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.

When I was a King and a Mason – in the open noon of my pride,
They sent me a Word from the Darkness – They whispered and called me aside:
They said – "The end is forbidden." They said – "Thy use is fulfilled,
"And thy Palace shall stand as that other's – the spoil of a King who shall build."

I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves and my sheers.
All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years.
Only I cut on the timber – only I carved on the stone:
After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known!
- Rudyard Kipling

Return to Top



By Bro F. Idlerman, New York

IDEAS are expressed only by signs. When expressing ideas he may do so only by symbols. Our a man would convey to his brother his language is but a succession of signs. Words are symbols, signs of an idea. But we as free and accepted Masons choose also to speak to one another by material symbols. These stand for certain truths we hold as necessary to Masonry and fundamental to true manhood. The rods, borne by the stewards, are of value only as they are signs of ideas. As Masons we seek the interpretation of these ideas and desire faithfully to inculcate them in the minds of all who shall hereafter accept our vows.

The first idea they symbolize is that of protection. The stewards, bearing these rods, meet the candidate at the door. He is thus assured that all his interests are to be safe-guarded. He may commit himself implicitly to the stewards, for the emblems of their office signify security and protection. This is among the highest comforts of man, to feel the safety vouchsafed by the confident strength of his brothers. It is surpassed only by the protection man realizes as he commits himself into the safe keeping of his Creator. David expressed the confidence in such a trust by the symbol of a rod, "When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

There is corresponding obligation upon the part of the stewards. The implicit trust of a brother calls for a faithful discharge of your stewardship. The security you afford within the lodge must be widened by the daily conduct in society. Let it never be said of you as Emerson said of some of his generation: "What you are speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say."

The second symbol is progress. You are to meet the candidate, not as stationary guards but as those who shall mark the path of progress as you advance from knowledge to knowledge in Masonry. The advance you assist him in making is unhasting and unresting. You are ever urging him to further light and wisdom. The rods you bear represent the divinely appointed state of man. Truth comes slowly but eternally. Man can never attain to perfect knowledge here. He must always confess "Now I know in part." To indicate by word or conduct that full knowledge is ours, is to arrest the purpose of the Creator in us. To symbolize in unforgettable fashion the progress of the mind toward the light is to render a service of incalculable worth to any man.

The rods symbolize guidance. Neatly imbedded in the head of each rod is a star. From time immemorial the stars have been the guiding fingers for man. He has been guided by them across the trackless desert, through the tangled wilderness and over the snowbound waste of the long Polar nights. The deep sea has not been able to lose the sailor, for the friendly stars have led him unerringly to his port of entry. So the rods are set for the proper and true guidance in the truths of Masonry. But truth cannot exist apart from incarnation. A thousand blazing symbols of metal fashioned bring neither comfort nor light except they live in daily conduct. You who bear the emblem of guidance must of necessity incarnate the moral worth indicated by your high office.

The symbols can only have meaning as they find the translation of their meaning first in the quality of merit in the men who bear them. Your dignity, fidelity and uprightness make meaningful and winsome all the moral virtue of protection, progress and guidance. Other offices, within the lodge, may be invested with more honour but your constant and necessary duties make incumbent upon you a most solemn and serious performance of the work assigned you. As you invest your office with this three fold significance, will you lift it out of mere perfunctory routine into high and noble symbolism. Those who take their first steps in Masonry under your tutelage will catch a vision of the sublimer possibilities and conserve for succeeding generations, the value of our worthy order.

Return to Top



"He drew a circle that kept me out

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in."
"Aye! draw ye circlet of love,
To encompass forever
'An heretic, rebel, a thing to flout';
Draw it 'round the wide cold earth

Religion, races, clans include

None of earth's creatures, leave standing without."
"Say to warrior, 'pause awhile !'
Benighted soul, 'here is light!'
To ignorance, say, stupidity, fear,
'Come ye, from your narrow house

Come and ye be made whole again

Come, learn of THAT, to love and revere.' "

Return to Top



"Incarcerate mind and thought?
Come sentinels, e'en as the breath of birth;
Seems ever, some must be always without

It is then, alas ! the WAY OF EARTH."
Dr. M. E. Walton - Huron, S. D., January 19, 1916

Return to Top



The original of this composition is in the G.A.R. Hall Museum at the State House, Topeka, Kan. It was captured during the Civil War, at Charleston, S.C., by a brother of Mrs. S. B. Helmas of Kendallville, Ind. The poem is printed on heavy satin.

The Lord's Prayer [A Poem]

Thou to the mercy seat our souls doth gather,
To do our duty unto thee – Our Father,
To whom all praise, all honour should be given;
For Thou art the great God,- who art in Heaven,
Thou by Thy wisdom rul'st the world's whole frame;
Forever, therefore, – Hallowed be Thy name.
Let nevermore delays divide us from
Thy glorious grace but let – Thy kingdom gome.
Let Thy commands opposed be by none,
But Thy good pleasure and – Thy will be done.
And let promptness to obey, be even
The very same – in earth as 'tis in Heaven;
Then for our souls, O Lord, we also pray,
Thou wouldst be pleased to – give us this day
The food of life, wherewith our souls are fed,
Sufficient raiment, and – our daily bread,
With every needful thing do Thou relieve us,
And of Thy mercy pity – and forgive us
All our misdeeds, for Him whom Thou didst please
To make an offering for – our trespasses,
And forasmuch, O Lord, as we believe
That Thou wilt pardon us – as we forgive,
Let that love teach, wherewith Thou dost acquaint us
To pardon all – those who trespass against us;
And though, sometimes, Thou find'st we have forgot
This love for Thee, yet help – and lead us not
Through soul or body's want, to desperation;
Nor let earth's gain drive us – into temptation;
Let not the soul of any true believer
Fall in the time of trial – but deliver,
Yea, save them from the malice of the devil,
And, in both life and death, keep – us from evil;
This pray we, Lord, for that of Thee, from whom
This may be had – for Thine is the Kingdom,
This world is of Thy work, its wondrous story,
To Thee belongs – the power and the glory;
And all Thy wondrous work have ended never,
But will remain forever, and – forever.
Thus we poor creatures would confess again,
And thus would say eternally – Amen.

Return to Top



Wherever through the ages rise
The altars of self-sacrifice,
Where Love its arms has opened wide,
And man for man has calmly died,
I see the same white wings outspread
That hovered o'er the Master's head.
- J.C. Wittier

Return to Top



This fair and stainless thing I take
To be my badge for virtue's sake;
Its ample strings that gird me round
My constant Cable-tow are found;
And as securely they are tied
So may true faith with me abide;
And as I face the sunny south
I pledge to God my Mason's truth,
That while on earth I do remain
My apron shall not have a stain.

This fair and stainless thing I raise
In memory of Apprentice days,
When on the checkered pavement wide,
With gauge and gavel well supplied,
I keep my garments free from soil,
Though labouring in a menial toil;
And as I face the golden west,
I call my Maker to attest
That while on earth I do remain
My apron shall not have a stain.

This fair and stainless thing I lower;
Its 'Prentice aid I need no more,
For laws and principles are given
The fellow-craft direct from Heaven, -
To help the needy, keep a trust,
Observe the precepts of the just;
And as I face the darkened north
I send this solemn promise forth,
That while on earth I do remain
My apron shall not have a stain.

This fair and stainless thing I fold,
A Master Mason now behold,
A welcome guest in every land,
With princes and with kings to stand;
Close tyled within my heart of hearts
I keep all secret arts and parts,
And try to walk the heavenly road
In daily intercourse with God;
As I fate the mystic east
I vow by Him I love the best,
That while on earth I do remain
My apron shall not have a stain.

This fair and stainless thing I doff: -
But though I take my apron off,
And lay the stainless badge aside,
Its teachings ever shall abide,
For God has given light divine
That we may walk opposed to sin;
And sympathy and brotherly love
Are emanations from above;
And life itself is only given
To square and shape our souls for Heaven,
The glorious temple in the sky,
The grand celestial lodge on high.
- Rob Morris

Return to Top



It is an unchangeable ancient Landmark of the Fraternity that there is but one Masonic dogma. We construct a universal religious philosophy thereupon, as a part of which we teach belief in immortality, and endeavour to inculcate other tenets of our profession; but our sole dogma is the Landmark of Belief in a Supreme Being – omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, the creating and superintending Power of all things. No man may be a Freemason unless he is a believer in monotheism. No neophyte ever has been or ever shall be permitted vision of our mysteries or reception of our obligations until he has openly, unequivocally, and solemnly asserted this belief. Beyond that we inquire and require nothing of sectarianism or religious belief.
– Melvin M. Johnson.

Return to Top



Edited by Bro. Robert I. Clegg

Caxton Building, Cleveland, Ohio

Operative Masonry – Early Days In The Masonic Era

WE Masons deem Masonry as being peculiarly religious, some Masons indeed being quoted to the effect that in their judgement Masonry is a religion. Who of us but at some time has heard of a brother in his enthusiasm saying "Masonry is a good enough religion for me"? But Masonry itself makes no such claim. At best it stands as the handmaid of religion, in all lands and among all faiths earnestly supporting and serving those accepted convictions of morality in which all good men agree.

As was shown in the paper prepared for the November issue of the Bulletin of the National Masonic Research Society there was a time when in the church and outside these sacred precincts the craftsmen of old gave freely of their money, their numbers, and in fact of all their opportunities to advance the cause of the prevailing religion. It is only fair to suppose that in all other matters these workmen were equally advanced and aggressive. Some of these angles of their organizations and of their methods will be taken up in the present paper.

Perhaps a word or two of special explanation is necessary at this stage. I am dealing with a period when many bodies of workmen copied each other's practices. For one reason of this similarity there was the common source of authority from whence they derived their characters. The Government gave them liberty to proceed for similar objects and in the attainment of these purposes they would no doubt find it very desirable in meeting all the requirements of the law to follow in each other's footsteps. Thus the associations of carpenters, of ironworkers, of goldsmiths, of tanners, as well as of Masons and the other societies, had like officers and laws. Such little differences as crept in were occasioned by the inevitable problems incident to each trade and profession and the successive adjustments of them that periodically called for attention and settlement.

The general construction of these bodies and their operation was known as the gild system. Common to all the recognized trades approved by the Government we can examine it as the exemplar of our own fraternity though Masonry was but one branch of it. I am also of opinion that Masonry has an earlier origin though at this moment I shall not venture into this far distant field of investigation and controversy.

The various crafts were often termed "the mysteries." Subject to the same city and national government it frequently happened that the laws enacted for their control shed much light upon the purposes of the societies and the manner in which they were regarded by the citizens at large.

An old ordinance of the city of London provided suitable punishment for those who were "rebellious, contradictory, or fractious" against the Masters of the Mysteries "that so such persons may not duly perform their duties." The preliminary part of the same enactment throws light upon the purpose of these early craft organizations.

"Item, it is ordained that all the mysteries of the city of London shall be lawfully regulated and governed, each according to its nature in due manner, that so no knavery, false workmanship, or deceit, shall be found in any manner in the said mysteries; for the honour of the good folks of the said mysteries, and for the common profit of the people. And in each mystery there shall be chosen and sworn four or six, or more or less, according as the mystery shall need; which persons, so chosen and sworn, shall have full power from the Mayor well and lawfully to do and to perform the same."

Then follow a series of fines and terms of imprisonment for such as "shall thereof be attained" of interfering with the carrying out of the above plan of craft administration.

Why would the city take so direct an interest in the control of the crafts, you may ask. If so careful a supervision and recognition of the situation is taken then is it not likely that the very same fount of authority would have something to say as to the manner in which the members as well as their officers may be selected?

You may also rightfully infer that the city then held something of the same relationship to the several crafts as is now occupied by the Grand Lodges. Such would appear to have been the case in very large measure. Consider if you please the following ordinance which accompanies the one just quoted in reference to the obedience and respect due to the Masters of mysteries:

"Also, because as well in times past, out of memory, as also in modern times, the city aforesaid is wont to be defended and governed by the aid and counsels as well as of the reputable men of the trades-merchant as of the other trades-handicraft; and from of old it hath been the usage, that no strange person, native or alien, as to whose conversation and condition there is no certain knowledge, shall be admitted to the freedom of city, unless first, the merchants or traders of the city following the trade which the person so to be admitted intends to adopt, shall be lawfully convoked, that so, by such his fellow citizens, so convoked, the Mayor and Aldermen aforesaid, being certified as to the condition and trustworthiness of the persons so to be admitted, may know whether such persons ought to be admitted or rejected; the whole community demands, that the form aforesaid, so far as concerns the more important trades and handicrafts, shall in future be inviolably observed, that so no person in future may against the provision aforesaid be admitted to the freedom of the city."

What Mason worth the name but will say with all his heart that it were well for us now that in selecting material for membership the choice should always be made in a manner to insure the obtaining of those persons upon whom the community may well rely for counsel, for defense, or for government.

Here and there in traversing the directions found in these early ordinances of the gilds we find a glimmer at least by which light has been borrowed for the thoughtful Masons of the present day in making their explanations of various oldtime customs. Who, for instance, has not wondered at that secret that could not be given in the absence of one of the three possessors?

Years ago in a foreign land I went as a boy with my grandfather to the meeting of a trade organization of which he was treasurer. The official chest of the society caught my eye. It contained books and papers as well as other valuables of which I knew little or nothing. These did not particularly interest me. What did attract my especial attention was the fact that the box was secured by three locks. Why three when one was ample for such security as appeared necessary? But it was explained to me that the three keys were in the possession of each of three responsible officers of the organization and that the box could not then be opened unless these three officers with their respective keys were present.

Such a custom is very old. In the reign of Edward II of England, 1307-1327, there was passed an ordinance by the City Fathers of London that "Also, it was demanded that the common seal should remain in future in a certain chest under six locks; of which locks three Alderman should have three keys, and certain reputable men of the Commonalty the three other keys."

That a candidate for Freemasonry shall himself be a free agent is well known and is most desirable. We go further and require him to be freeborn. This does not appear to be a universal demand made of the initiate as in England, for example, the requirement is that he be a "freeman." There is an obvious distinction between the two and our practice in this country substantially exacts that both conditions shall exist.

Here, again, the matter is of very old usage. "For avoiding disgrace and scandal unto the city of London" it was ordained in 1389 "that from henceforth no foreigner shall be enrolled as an apprentice, or be received unto the freedom of the said city by way of apprenticeship, unless he shall first make oath that he is a freeman and not a bondman. And whoever shall hereafter be received unto the freedom of the said city, by purchase or in any other way than by apprenticeship, shall make the same oath, and shall also find six reputable citizens of the said city, who shall give security for him, as such from of old hath been wont to be done.

"And if it shall so happen that any such bondman is admitted unto the freedom of the said city upon a false suggestion, the Chamberlain being ignorant thereof, immediately after it shall have become notorious unto the Mayor and Alderman that such person is a bondman, he shall lose the freedom of the city and shall pay a fine for such his deceit at the discretion of the Mayor and Alderman, saving always such liberty as pertains unto the soil of the said franchise.

"Also, if it shall happen in future, and may it not so chance, that such bondman, a person, that is to say, at the time of whose birth his father was a bondman, is elected to judicial rank in the said city, that of Alderman, for example, Sheriff, or Mayor; unless before receiving such promotion, he shall notify unto the Mayor and Alderman such his servile condition, he shall pay unto the Chamberlain one hundred pounds, to the use of the city, and nevertheless shall lose the freedom, as already stated."

Riley in his edition of the "Liber Albus," the "White Book" of the city of London, further points out some qualifications of the Aldermen of the gild epoch which have an interest in our present study. Says he, "High honour was paid to the Aldermen in ancient times. Indeed, no person was accepted as Alderman unless he was free from deformity in body, wise and discreet in mind, rich, honest, trustworthy, free, and on no account of low or servile condition; lest perchance the disgrace or opprobrium that might be reflected upon him by reason of his birth, might have the additional effect of casting a slur upon the other Alderman and the whole city as well. And hence it is that from of old no one was made apprentice, or at all events admitted to the freedom of the said city, unless he was known to be of free condition."

Contained in the Liber Albus is the oath of the Masters and Wardens of the mysteries. This I transcribe. It will be noticed that there is left a blank for the filling in of the name of the organization to which the testifying officials are accredited.

"You shall swear, that well and lawfully you shall overlook the art or mystery of … of which you are Masters, or Wardens, for the year elected. And the good rules and ordinances of the same mystery, approved here by the Court, you shall keep and cause to be kept. And all the defaults that you shall find therein, done contrary thereto, you shall present unto the Chamberlain of the city, from time to time, sparing no one for favor, and aggrieving no one for hate. Extortion or wrong unto no one, by color of your office, you shall do; nor unto anything that shall be against the estate and peace of the King, or of the city, you shall consent. But for the time that you shall be in office, in all things pertaining unto the said mystery, according to the good laws and franchises of the said city, well and lawfully you shall behave yourself. So God you help, and the Saints."

These citations from the legal enactments of the time do not convey all that could and should be said of the middle ages. That is the era from whence we Masons have drawn so freely of inspiration, of ceremonial, and even of phraseology. Romantic were the industrial activities. From the candlestick upon the altar to the pinnacle of the lofty spire reaching high toward heaven, in the buildings of that day and especially the structures housing the worshippers of God, everything was done in the devotion of a simple straightforward truth of workmanship, a practical genius for constructional invention, the practice of a craft direct, faithful and self-respecting.

Says Batchelder: "It was once the glory of art to be of service. It is difficult for us to fully realize the spirit of an age when art was actually practised by a great mass of people; when carvers in stone and wood, workers in iron, textile weavers, potters, goldsmiths, found daily opportunity and incentive to bring invention to bear upon their problems, to apply creative thought to the work of their hands. It was a time when builders were architects; when workmen were designers; when contracts called for nothing more than sound materials and honest workmanship, – the art was thrown in as a matter of course."

And he further gives us an illuminating insight of the conditions by which these workmen were trained. "The training received by the medieval craftsman was peculiar to the gild system of the time. Many of the masters whose names are familiar to us now in our study of the history of art were duly apprenticed to a craft as soon as they could read, write, and count. Often at an age of ten years they went to the home of the master workman, with whom their apprenticeship was to be served, where as was the custom of the time, they lived. The years of apprenticeship were years of hard work, often of drudgery; but in the great variety of commissions undertaken by the shops of the time an opportunity was presented to lend a hand at many interesting tasks. There seems to have been a spirit of cooperation among the various shops and workmen that the keen relentless competition of modern times does not permit.

"After serving his apprenticeship a lad became a companion or journeyman worker, and finally tried for his degree, if it may be so termed, by submitting to an examination for the title of master workman. In this examination he was called upon not only to produce his masterpiece, but to fashion such tools of his craft as were necessary for its completion. The standards of the gilds were so high that to become a master meant the production of a piece of work satisfactory to the judges artistically as well as technically. This completed the education of a craftsman of the time, producing a workman who was encouraged at every step of his training to combine beauty with utility, technical skill with honest workmanship."

Further on in speaking of the versatility of the old craftsmen, he proceeds: "When they in turn became master workmen, we know not whether to call them goldsmiths or bronze workers, carvers or sculptors, painters or architects, for their training was such that they could turn their hands to any of these with distinction. Orcagna could build a church, cut the stone, lay the mosaics, paint the frescoes, or carve the crucifix, and we know not where most to admire him. While Ghilerti was engaged in the production of the bronze doors for the Florentine baptistry, his journeymen were seldom so early at the foundry but that they found him there in his cap and apron. Brunelleschi watched the building of the cathedral from his bench long before he dreamed that it would be his part to crown it with its great dome; and when he and Donatello went to Ptome to study the antique, they replenished their empty purses by following their craft. What manner of architects were these who went to the quarries and picked out their own stones, who superintended the construction, directed the erection of scaffolds, who could teach others how to lay the mosaics or carve the ornament; and during leisure intervals wrote sonnets, built bridges, planned forts, and invented weapons of defence? When a master received a commission to build a church, a municipal palace, a fountain, or what not, he took with him his own journeymen and apprentices; and when the commission was an important one, he gathered about him to cooperate, in a spirit that knew little of rivalry or jealousy, the best master workers of his day."

From this excellent description of the craft in the gild days much may be conjectured of the progress by which Masonry has become what it is today. To some of these angles of discussion I shall later return. That in the Craft there grew up a method of perpetuating the instruction slowly gained by the masters is only to be expected. These secrets of the trade would only be confided to the safe depositories of faithful breasts.

Geometry and symbolism would be as they are now employed by expert designers for practically laying out their work. To me the mosaic pavement always suggests the cross-sectioned paper of the engineer. To me every symbol is an aid to the memory. All there is of Masonry breathes the craft soul of cooperative labour, the means and the machinery to impress upon the receptive mind lessons of moral and physical importance.

We cannot in one such paper as the foregoing connect the middle ages with the transition period marked off for us by the Grand Lodge era ushered in by the celebrated union of 1717.

Neither can we say much if anything now of that far earlier period of these geometrical builders of the Egyptian temples and pyramids, or of the Roman Collegia with its trades union methods, or of the mysteries of Greece and other lands. All have a bearing of much consequence upon our own fraternity.

Freemasonry has inherited by a long line of descent a philosophy and a nomenclature, a ceremonial system, the outgrowth of innumerable heads of the wisest, and of hearts most devoted. Love and wisdom has been showered upon it in abundance. Years of many centuries have dignified it. A hale and useful age for it claims unbounded respect. Service is its purpose, betterment its aim.

Even as the craftsmen of the past loved their craft, and through its medium turned rawest materials into forms of imperishable beauty, so were they cautious in their materials of membership, selecting them wisely and in their choice and government practising such methods as were approved by civic and national authorities. Yea, so are we compelled by our profession to be equally discreet and skilful. By the correct selection and perfection of every element in the structure do we build aright the edifice Masonic.

Return to Top

Notes For Further Research Upon Operative Masonry

The "Liber Albus" is a compilation from the archives of the city of London. Its references are of date prior to the year 1419. A translation from its original text in Latin and Anglo-Norman was made by Henry T. Riley and published by Richard Griffin and Co. in 1861. Occasionally found in public libraries but is now out of print and only to be purchased through those tireless bibliophiles, the book-hunters of Masonry. My dear friend, the late Scott Bonham, once urged his readers to buy the "Liber Albus" but at that time he was not aware that it was out of usual trade circles and only to be reached through old-book dealers.

My references to Batchelder are to his delightful treatise on "Design in Theory and Practice," published by the Macmillan Co. of New York, London, and Toronto. I quote the 1910 edition.

A most charming book on the gilds is that of the "Gilds and Companies of London" by George Unwin, and published by Methuen and Co., 36 Essex street, W.C., London. From this work I have not borrowed but my essay would have been much improved if I had had occasion to freely quote from Mr. Unwin. His work lends itself more aptly to another paper I have in mind. At present I need only call attention to several points of importance. First there is an excellent bibliographical list from which many references can be drawn to what material may be obtainable in your local libraries or for purchase from the book dealers. In the preface is an outline that may profitably be followed in the study of the gild system not only in Great Britain but on the continent. My Unwin has among his several chapters one dealing with a class of gilds that were neither merchant nor handicraft. Of such was the English Gild of Knights. There was also in France the organization for the preservation of peace, La Commune de la Paix. In purpose and in practice this association strongly resembled the body that provides the legend for the grade of Patriarch Noachite.

I have not quoted from the "Hole Craft and Fellowship of Masons." This book published in 1894 is, I understand, practically off the market. My own copy was secured through the author, Bro. Edward Conder, Jr. In London the book was published by Swan, Sonnenschein and Company, and in New York by Macmillan and Co. In the introduction Bro. Conder says: "The Worshipful Company of Masons of the City of London enjoys, beside the interest attached to it on account of its antiquity and continuity, the peculiar distinction, above all other gilds, of being one of the principal connecting links in that chain of evidence which proves that the modern social cult, known as the Society of Free and Accepted Masons, is lineally descended from the old Fraternity of Masons which flourished in the early days of monastic architecture, now known by the inappropriate title of Gothic. The history of this Company will I think conclusively prove that the traditions and moral teachings of the old Fellowship which undoubtedly existed in Britain in the 12th and 13th centuries, were preserved by the Masons Company of London, after the downfall of the Church, in 1530, until the middle of the 17th century – at which period non-operative masons and others carried on the old Society with considerable energy, their participation culminating, in 1717, in the establishment of a Grand Lodge, and the subsequent rapid formation of Lodges in all parts of the country." Maybe I shall later return to an examination of the evidence by which Bro. Conder proposes to prove his point. It was with such a thought in mind that I purposely refrained from using on this occasion his temptingly quotable volume.

"The Cathedral Builders" by Leader Scott is also not a readily obtainable book. For my own choice I can get along very well with a substitute, "The Comacines, Their Predecessors and Their Successors." Written by Bro. W. Ravenscroft in most readable style – its brevity is the only fault I can see in it. The publisher is Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, E.C., London. Bro. Ravenscroft shows the symbols of the Comacines have a pertinent interest to Freemasons, as in the case of the lion, the knot of Solomon, the cable tow, etc.

In Mackey's Encyclopedia, published by the Masonic History Co. of New York, look up the following references: Mysteries, Ancient; Osiris, Mysteries of; Egyptian Mysteries; Cabiric Mysteries; Orphic Mysteries; Cavern; Essenes; Comacines; Druses; Druidical Mysteries; Culdees; Chaldeans; Roman Colleges of Artificers; Gilds; Cologne, Charter of; Crusades; Oath of the Gild; Stone Masons of the Middle Ages; Strict Observance; Hund, Baron von; etc.

The Ars Coronatorum or transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of London have scattered through their scholarly pages much of the keenest degree of interest in this line of investigation. A complete index is very desirable. The series of volumes is also very rare. Stray copies and partial sets are occasionally to be obtained. My reference to the practical use of the mosaic pavement in laying out a building is borne out by a paper in the "Ars" by Sir Caspar Purden Clarke whose experience in the Orient enabled him to see this method actually employed by the Eastern workmen.

My brother engineers may be also interested in the fact that in an interview with the famous builders of bridges, Gustave Lindenthal, he explained the probable method by which the early builders managed to design safe constructions for their remarkably daring edifices, aqueducts and so forth. At that time the structural analysis by mathematical means was of course not so developed as at the present day. A method whereby weights suspended by cords; a sort of inverted balance, probably gave the early builders practical foothold for finding the direction and amount of the forces to be withstood by their structures. Such methods and the general system of proportions for buildings in common use were doubtless transmitted secretly to pupils and sworn associates. Here would be another means for the mutual protection and also for profitable prominence to clients of the craftsmen.

My few suggestions above are by no means intended to exhaust all the sources of information on this subject. There are many others and I do not pretend to have enumerated what some of my brethren will consider obvious and of consequence. But as I shall come back to this topic, and as I hope to deal then with matters mentioned in certain of the foregoing references I take the opportunity of calling attention to them now.

Return to Top

Small Libraries Travelling For Special Researches

As your "Correspondence Circle Bulletin No. 1" seems to invite suggestions as to how Research Society and others may help along the home study, permit me to make this suggestion:

Let there be made up a goodly number of small travelling libraries for different lodges that are willing to pay transportation charges – possibly a small rental as well – composed of books papers and pamphlets bearing upon subjects that individuals care to study about. For instance: I want to study: Early History of Masonry The Unknown Years of the Life of Christ, Masonic Order and The Bible.

Let the great Masonic Library make me up a small traveling library containing matter pertaining to any one or all of these subjects and I will read my fill and write papers that may be read by other brethren, if they desire. Very truly, L.F. Knowles.

Go after the nearest Masonic library, large or small. Put that proposition right up to them. Maybe there is no Masonic library of considerable size in your State but I shall refuse to believe anything of the sort until I am positively shown otherwise. The State that includes within its borders at least one such Mason as Trevanion W. Hugo of Duluth is not likely in any particular to lag in the procession.

But if for any reason there is difficulty in getting the particular books you need, then appeal beyond the confines of your State. The late Scott Bonham, president of the Masonic Library Association at Cincinnati, Ohio, always held that his books were made for use and not to be mere shelf warmers. He delighted to send them to knowledge-seeking Masons. Never did he restrict them to the Masons of his own State. The Grand Lodge of Iowa has also under the skilful guidance of Grand Secretary Parvin at Cedar Rapids, evolved a system of library distribution active throughout the State. While I have no authority to say what the authorities would do in the event of an inquiry coming to them from beyond their jurisdiction I am confident that it would get very cordial consideration and if it were at all possible with due regard to all interests involved I am sure you would be well satisfied with the action accorded you.

Your suggestion reminds me somewhat of the one submitted by Bro. Keplinger of Illinois. He pointed out the desirability of an up-to-the-present study of the Pyramids in their connection with Freemasonry. Both he and you have already done quite a little study along lines of unquestioned importance to your brother Masons. Can I not induce you to put into written form the results of your researches? I do not ask you to attempt to put on record all that you have discovered, a part of the story at a time is all that I would venture to suggest your preparation. Then read it to your respective lodges or to your local study clubs. Then after you have amended it following the discussion it receives, please forward each paper to us.

Return to Top

Study Clubs And Lodge Organization

Have noticed in the September issue of THE BUILDER an open letter to the members by Brother Robert I. Clegg, which I have been much interested in as we have a little "get-together" meeting from time to time, and it doesn't seem that we are working on any particular lines whereby we receive any palpable benefits.

It might be best to describe in detail what our meetings are for. As we live several miles from any organized Lodge of Freemasons, we find it difficult to attend Lodge with any regularity at all; and we have been meeting and trying to get together in a way that might develop into the organization of a Lodge at this place. But we find that it is a hard matter to keep all the brethren interested at the same time.

Now your letter seems to me to open up a way whereby we might develop more interest and at the same time enable us to improve ourselves in Masonry, so if we did in time organize a Lodge, we would be better prepared to perform our Masonic duties.

We will appreciate any suggestions that you might make, and if you think that an organization such as suggested in Brother Clegg's letter would be what we need, I will take steps immediately to see that all those Masons in this vicinity who are not members of the N.M.R.S. become members, as I am sure I would have no trouble in doing so, as they are all as anxious for some common ground to found an organization upon as I am.

Trusting that you can help us in this matter and with best wishes for the success of the whole movement, I am, cordially and fraternally yours. E.F. Wade. Waune. Oreo.

At the moment I do not possess any means at hand of determining the local population available to support a Masonic lodge in your immediate neighbourhood. Obviously the best way to keep up the Masonic interest in your locality would be by the organization of a lodge and if this is at all feasible I would urge that you communicate with your Grand Secretary to that effect in order that you may start off in the right way. If, however, for any reason you are unable to do this, then you cannot do better than to hold the present get-together meetings until such time as the other plan may be carried into effect.

Of course you will need to be all the more cautious about every one of you being Master Masons of officially approved lodges. In the absence of any lodge there is not the ready means of knowing through membership there of the standing of all your acquaintances.

Having these preliminaries constantly in mind and with the list of any local members of the National Masonic Research Society, assemble your brethren. Agree upon a few necessary officers. The Secretary is the most important. Select one having plenty of patience, unstinted charity, enlarged energy, constant of courtesy, systematic of habits, punctual and ardent. Granted these and you have a treasure. If you can also have a President possessing a love for the knowledge of Masonry and an ability to draw forth the best that is in his membership and from all other sources, and to do these things with tact and success, you are again blessed. If moreover you have a group of brethren capable and willing to support your officers you have all the elements for proficiency and progress.

But the more I think of your isolation, the more I deem it best that you should have the benefit at the earliest moment of the advice of your Grand Lodge officers as I have already mentioned. They will very probably offer advice whereby you can the better keep in touch with the Masonic work of your jurisdiction and this is indeed very important. This Bulletin of ours will monthly contain papers of instructive quality that may be read at your meetings and I shall be highly pleased to give you any additional information that may be conducive to the improvement of your gatherings.

Return to Top

Systematic Study Of The Degrees

I have realized even since I have been received into this Fraternity the necessity of some uniform plan to study the history and symbolism of Freemasonry. I mean some plan that is not complicated and not too deep for the ordinary Mason who has never been so fortunate as to receive a good education. I am anxious to organize a study club in our little town. It would be hard to get a number interested, but I believe I can do it.

I would like some plan that will start right in on the first degree which will teach its history and the origin of the symbolic meanings. Then advance to the second degree in the same way, and to the Master Mason, etc. I don't mean to run through them briefly, but to go into them in detail.

I believe we could spend all this fall and winter on the first degree, as we would only be able to meet twice each month. I have read the "Builders," and I think it is great, but it might be a little hard for the man to understand who has never done much reading.

I have been much interested in the study of Freemasonry for some time and have been an active worker, and I am willing to join this organization which proposes some plan to educate our members more and more in the teachings of the Order by a systematic study of its history, its tradition, its symbolism, and its meaning.

We, who have been active workers, know the only way to acquire knowledge is to study, and it is surprising, as well as disappointing, the great number of members in our fraternity who have practically no knowledge as to its history and its teaching. So I believe the only way to make this Fraternity become stronger is to encourage more study by the individual member. No, I don't mean it to be the only way, but I mean it will be a great and important step to make it stronger.

So if you can give me a start to organize a study club by giving me some textbook which will deal on the First Degree, or any other suggestion in which you might offer something good, I will make a hard effort to get several members of my Lodge – Novinger Lodge 583 in Missouri – interested in this work.

Trusting I may hear favourably from you, and with best regards, I remain, yours fraternally, C. H. Charlton, P. M., Novinger Lodge 583, Novinger, Mo.

No letter that has so far come to me has more clearly emphasized the necessity for the work undertaken by the National Masonic Research Society than yours. You correctly point out that textbooks are needed. But outside the indispensable Encyclopedia of Mackey what have we? Certain reprints already published by our Society are excellent but they are not exhaustive of the whole subject of Masonry and they do not pretend to be. As we proceed in the work of the Society we shall, every one of us, contribute from all sources information of the exact kind you desire. This task will take time. If you will read critically the little outline I have given for a Masonic course of study in the October Bulletin you will note the range to be covered by a comprehensive textbook.

I have planned a series of papers on Masonry which were announced in the last issue. These have been thought out for the very purpose mentioned by you. They will not in all probability take the degrees in succession because there is some difficulty for me to deal intimately with each degree in print. One must be truly circumspect in committing to the printed page what he knows of the degrees. Perhaps you will do me the favour of advising with me in this regard. How far do you expect me to go? Please let me have the benefit of your reflections on this very important angle of the situation.

Much can be presented to the brethren in this Bulletin. We can discuss the Monitor freely. Sundry significant facts hinging upon the ritual may also be set forth. But the application of many of these particulars must be remade by the brethren themselves. What they already know will shed light upon the additional information, an illumination unknown to the profane. Each of you readers of mine will see how limited I must be in what is here said at any time of the details of the three degrees mentioned by my good brother Charlton.

He is emphatically right. Masonry is the more to a Mason the more he has of it. Masonry grows the stronger upon a Mason the deeper it is planted within him. We are Masons, first and last, because of what is in us. Enlightened knowledge, enlarged humanity, the soul in contact with agencies for good, these are the common aspirations of the brotherhood. Together, brethren!

Return to Top

Planning A Primer For Masons

For the coming Masonic year it has been talked of in our Blue Lodge to introduce a series of lectures, perhaps as many as a dozen, which will be in the nature of a Masonic education. Feel that subjects should be so chosen and arranged that in a measure one will follow another in logical sequence, the whole being beneficial in many different ways. It is planned to have each about ten thousand words, MSS. of which will be submitted to a committee before delivery, and the whole twelve at the end of the year to be made up in book form, to be presented to each Master Mason as he is raised, thereby furnishing him with a textbook as it were for his future guidance or at least form a primer for his Masonic education. Sincerely and fraternally yours, L.G. Good S.W. Joppa Lodge 362, F. & A.M., Shreveport, La.

My congratulations! You have indeed undertaken a splendid task. That you will perform it admirably and thoroughly is my hearty desire. If there is at any time and in any way an opportunity for me to contribute to so commendable an enterprise I and our Society will be delighted to do anything at our command.

Just how do you propose to go about this project? I am taking it for granted that you will divide the work. To put the burden of this exploit upon only a few or of one or two of the brethren is not easily thinkable, the labour involved is too great.

Maybe you will organize a number of studious Masons who will occasionally assemble to discuss the progress they have made in the preparation of the papers. Such a study club would indeed be a wonderful power for Masonic research.

Some five years ago a Master of my acquaintance decided that once a month at least he would devote an hour at a meeting where a paper should be read. I contributed one of the early papers, the subject being "William Morgan." Since that time the custom has prevailed. Would that all these lectures had been preserved as is the intention of our Shreveport brothers to collect twelve.

That the brethren will hear when they will not read is clear. Bro. Good's plan contemplates both methods. It is an ambitious undertaking, highly creditable and farsighted.

Return to Top

The Lodge As A Study Club

A considerable number of the Masons in Yonkers are heartily in favour of the furthering of Masonic research and study. There is, however, no room in Yonkers for a study club, as Jonkheer Lodge devotes a very considerable portion of the time of its meetings to Masonic history and study.

I believe that better results might be obtained by using the existing Lodges, rather than by starting new organizations in the form of study clubs, and believe that by-laws such as Jonkheer has, would help the matter along in the various lodges. The by-laws read as follows:-

Section 4 – The Master shall cause a portion of the Landmarks, constitution, statutes, and by-laws to be read in the Lodge at the first stated communication after his installation, and at such other times as he shall deem proper.

Section 24 – At least one evening in each Masonic year shall be set apart by the Master for the consideration of matters pertaining to the history, archaeology and antiquities of Freemasonry.

Yours fraternally, D. D. Berolzheimer, 17 Battery Place, New York, N. Y.

It is most gratifying to find lodges so progressive as to have not only provided in their bylaws for definite times and seasons for the study of Freemasonry, its history, its archaeology, and its antiquities, but carry them out to an extent that members can see no necessity for anything additional. Would that all lodges were equally well provided with bylaws requiring the exertion of energy along educational lines.

Pressure of business in most lodges prevents any literary leanings of the kind becoming prevalent. Primarily, the purpose of the study club is to do what the lodge cannot find opportunity to supply. Several lodges may furnish sufficient material in membership to keep one study club a lively point of contact in any community.

If a lodge is in a sparsely settled region and the work of initiation is not weighty there may be many evenings when at the regular sessions study club associations could be happily incorporated under the direction of the Master. Our larger cities do not permit these variations in the proceedings. Work is too voluminous. Some other plan is required in such cases.

A study club to make effective progress should meet often and regularly. An entire evening is not too long for the presentation of a paper and for its careful discussion. A lodge to devote as much time as this to the literary side of Freemasonry must either have considerable leisure left after the conferring of degrees or has a method of conducting its affairs that is not generally known.

I am acquainted with one lodge in New York whose Master had the habit of giving at the meetings a little talk of say fifteen minutes. He was and is an exceptionally well-informed Mason and his addresses were contributions of distinctive value. They could not have the advantage of study club presentation, nevertheless. Time was wanting. Business exacted the minutes. Leisurely aground discussion was precluded. Herein is the need for the study club. Let us know all about the substitutes. We are all lodge members. Whatever the lodge can do to advantage we all want to know the particulars.

Return to Top

Masons Forgetting All They Ever Knew

Your letter referring to the Correspondence Circle received, and in reply I wish to state that the Bulletin plan is good, and I hope that it will bring lots of brothers together. Presently I am trying to leave the city, therefore I am not in position to take up any Masonic work you speak about, but I hope I will be able to do so in the near future. May I ask what is the difference between a brother Mason who does not remember a bit of the Lodge work and a friend who is not a Mason at all? Respectfully and fraternally, S. Simone, 420 W. 2nd St., near Hill, Los Angeles, Calif.

Not much, truly. But let us not be too critical about the brethren whose interests have in some way become divorced from active thought of Freemasonry. For example, I well remember one brother who came much against his will as a visitor to my lodge. Years ago he had taken the degrees in another State. Immediately after receiving the third degree he went upon the road as a representative of his firm. Since then he had never seen a degree conferred. Everywhere he was told that it was a difficult task to pass a lodge examination. Not feeling sure of his ground he never cared to undergo the ordeal. Many a time in his travels he wished that he was posted properly. At times he went home but his trips there were very short of stay, and then, too, there were other and usually more pressing matters to be handled. In my town he had business with one of the members of my lodge who prevailed upon him to come down and try his best. Some of his story preceded my investigation. He knew enough Masonry for the purpose. An excellent memory had forgotten no essentials. With patience, and he was fully entitled to that at the very least, he convinced the committee of his worthiness. An hour was spent by me afterwards in giving him all the light I could upon various methods of investigation he might meet and he was most grateful. But what shall be said of the brethren who had discouraged him theretofore? I know you will agree with me that a responsibility rests upon us all to see that Masons are informed. When your location permits, Brother Simone, I trust you will take hold of the work in which you have so evident an interest.

Return to Top

Further Light For Freemasons

The open letter on the back of the September issue of THE BUILDER appeals very much to me and as some of my Brethren have expressed a desire to take up the study of Masonry in a systematic manner I wish you would send me the list of members in my immediate locality and as much information for the formation of a study club as you can.

I am not good at expressing myself, but I wish to say that I find a fund of information and "Light" in each issue.

Thanking you for all that you may be able to do for us and wishing you and THE BUILDER continued success, I am, fraternally yours, A. M. Fluharty, W.M., Morning Light Lodge, No. 384, Manson, Iowa.

Since the publication of the letter in the September issue I have prepared some additional suggestions for study club management that have appeared in the October number of THE BUILDER, and in the November issue of the Bulletin I have carried further the work. I trust that paper may be found of readable character. While only intended to answer a request for light on a hint previously given by me on that particular topic, yet it is on a little explored region of Masonic research and therefore ought to have no abatement of interest because of its pioneering work.

I hope to take up in some detail an orderly consideration of Freemasonry in due season. These forthcoming papers as I have planned them will be of a style straightforward and simple enough to tell the tale Masonic with truth and terseness. Do not hesitate to write me whenever I can throw any further light upon the path. We are all students. Let us each contribute of his best, however poor that best may be.

Return to Top

How One Group Of Masons Has Gone To Works

Congratulations on the "Bulletin." I believe its foundation is laid Masonically. Leadership is essential and when that leadership is executed by those who recognize the value of cooperation and draw their designs accordingly I feel a thrill of anticipation of Success.

A leader cannot cooperate with himself. Those who look to him for leadership must contribute their mite.

In this spirit and with a view of letting you know how a little group of students tried to start something, I will try to convey an account of our meagre efforts.

Five of the brethren in our village held an informal meeting after our last stated communication, which was over at 8:30, and decided that we could study Masonic subjects to advantage at occasional meetings.

The first question considered was "what particular phase of Masonic study will be most interesting to us?"

It was decided that each brother state what he was most interested in finding out. One brother wanted to know about the authenticity of the legend of the third degree. In response to his query various Masonic writers were quoted and the point brought out, that, as writing about the esoteric work had ever been considered unlawful we really had little that was definite to base an opinion upon. Attention was also directed to the explanation given the candidate that "Masonry consists of a course of ancient hieroglyphic and moral instruction, taught according to ancient usage, by types, emblems and allegorical figures."

The paper by John A. Thorpe on "Freemasonry, whence it came, etc." was read and discussed. I read a paper I had prepared on "What is Freemasonry and whence came it" which I carefully explained was only my personal opinion. Another brother wished to know where scriptural references to things of interest to Masons were to be found. (See Correspondence in this issue.)

His request was complied with next day and a list of references given him. He promised to prepare a paper on the subject for some meeting of the group.

Another brother wished to know what Masonry was doing now. Your scribe answered that his opinion was that it was trying hard to impress the full import of the answer to the second question of an E.A. on every Mason and that improvement in Masonry meant improvement in physical, mental and spiritual development.

A paper by some member or some article of value was decided upon for future meetings and the general discussion which follows will bring out many points of interest and send us all to our authorities and induce us to search for more light.

I, like many another, am groping around for something definite, but I believe our plan will eventually adjust itself to the capacity and needs of our group.

My personal opinion is that each member of a study group should do his full share in contributing something of educational value in such a manner as to be of interest.

We all have a tendency to follow lines of study of our own; consequently the study of a particular subject at any considerable length would probably become burdensome and uncongenial to some.

At the best the study group is but an occasional gathering to glean the harvest of rich thought derived by the individual effort of its members.

The individuals will benefit in the forum of fraternal discussion and the group will be cemented by additional ties of intellectual brotherhood.

Hoping this has not become tiresome, I am, Yours in the spirit if not worthy in ability, Silas H. Shepherd, Hartland, Wis

P. S. – I am only 42. I expect to know more at 52.

P. P. S. – At times when our study group have nothing definite to work upon I have in view the reading and discussion of the following pamphlets and essays:

  • Gould's "English Lodges before the Grand Lodge Era.” (Collected Essays.)
  • Speth's "What is Freemasonry?"
  • Lemert's "Some of our Ancestors."
  • Extracts from "A Masonic Curriculum" by Speth.
  • Pound's "Causes of Divergence in Ritual." (Mass. proceedings, 1915.)
  • Ossian Langis "Freemasonry and Mediaeval Craft Gilds.' (N. Y. proceedings 1916.)
  • The reprinted series by the N.M.R.S.
  • Morcombe's lectures on Symbolism. (Iowa Q. Bulletin, Vol. 3, Nos. 3, 4; Vol. 4, No. 1.)
  • Selected readings from "Anderson's Book of Constitutions," Preston's "Illustrations," the "Old Charges" and other Masonic classics of value.

Discussion on the articles in THE BUILDER. This is but a brief list of the many things of value. I hope some day to add to and classify.

Perhaps you have a much more adequate list.

A splendid start and a most excellent report is this. That explanation of what is comprised in the improvement of ourselves in Masonry would from my point of view be hard to beat. Nothing more terse and true could well be framed. Your list of references for future work is good and fairly comprehensive. In fact you have some that are as yet strangers to me. So go ahead and please let us have further accounts of your progress. I, too, am not yet 52 and have much to learn.

Return to Top

Profitable Pointers On Plans

I am interested in Masonic topics and would be glad to join a club that is devoted to this field. The Correspondence Circle Bulletin should be of great value, not because I place such importance on methods and systems, but it may be the means of inducing the proper kind of organizers and leaders to start clubs.

I am under the impression that the organization and administration of a club is a one man job, and that the interest shown by the members will be due to his ability as a leader, and his anticipation of their tastes and limitations.

The set form of study that might be the most practical to give to city business men would very possibly not suit a lodge of working men of less education. Inspire men that are forceful, popular and systematic, let them organize and do 99 per cent of the planning and work and the club may grow and prosper.

It's a great job for a "Man with a mission," as great a field to do good in as any pulpit offers. A well meaning but poorly talented man would make a failure, regardless of the fact that he might be well informed on Masonic subjects, and such a failure always makes it harder to reorganize.

I am fortunate enough to be aware of my own limitations but there are others in this city, as well as in almost every locality, who could excite as much interest in Masonry as many of the preachers do in church work.

The Builder has demonstrated its ability to find and collect interested men and I hope the Correspondence Circle will meet with equal success in starting the "leaders" to action.

Assuring you of such service as is within my power, and looking forward to the progress of our desires, Fred W. Cochran 220 1/2 West Vernon, Los Angeles, Calif.

It is a task to prepare an outline of study that will fit all needs or hopes, but we shall not despair if we continue to get the interest of such thoughtful Masons as yourself. Please go further, won't you, and tell me how I can best serve you. What are the topics that in your judgement should first get attention? In your intercourse with Masons what have you found to be most desired in the way of information ? This is a big country, all manner of men live in it. My own experience with them must be all too limited. Your help toward my better understanding is earnestly invited.

Return to Top

How A Start In Study Club Work May Be Made

List of members of N.M.R.S. and copies of THE BUILDER containing your letter received. The response to my call was not as large as hoped for, but this did not deter the few of us that were present from starting. We thought best to begin with the tools we had on hand. All present were members of the N.M.R.S., and our Lodge had purchased ten or more copies of Bro J.F. Newton's work, "The Builders," so it was decided to take up the study of this book with the aid of the Questions compiled by the Cincinnati Masonic Study School which are found on page 128 of No. 6, Vol. 1, of THE BUILDER.

For our first study we took up Questions 1 to 14, hunted up the answers before our second meeting at which time the questions were asked, the answer given from memory if possible, if not, it was read. If given from memory it was verified from "The Builders," then each was asked if there was any discussion of the thought presented. The discussions brought out many bits of information and the meeting was voted a success by those present.

For our next meeting, (we meet the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturday nights in each month), Questions 15 to 29 will be taken up in the same way and so on until we strike a line of thought we want to dig into a bit deeper.

We sent the following letter to those who did not show up at our 1st or 2nd meeting:

Sample of Letter Sent to Prospective Members of a Study Club.

Dear Sir and Brother: – Can YOU answer the following:

  • What was thought to be the shape of the world by the Egyptians in the early ages?
  • What is said of the way the Temples of Egypt were built in early times ?
  • What are the real foundations of Masonry?
  • Give an outline of the Egyptian teachings.
  • What was the central theme of the Egyptian faith ?
  • What is said of eternity as an ideal of the early Egyptians ?
  • What is said of the Cube, Square and CROSS?

The answer to these can be found in THE BUILDERS by Bro. Jos. F. Newton. Also they will be taken up and discussed along with several others at the 3rd meeting of our Masonic Study Club, Saturday evening, 7:00 o'clock, at my office in Cottingham Bldg. We will be glad to have you with us whether you become a member or not. Fraternally thine,

Trust that you will pardon such a lengthy letter but I thought perhaps that our plans would be a help to others who like ourselves were at a loss as to what and how to begin to study. Fraternally thine,
J. A. Stiles, Morganfield Lodge No. 66, F. & A. M., Morganfield, Ky.

Good enough, Bro. Stiles. Fine work, I say. You have done well. Do you find any part of Bro. Newton's book either difficult to understand or do you note any place on which you or your members seek more light than is afforded by the book itself? We all want to make the path easier to travel. In any way we can help, please do not fail to bring the matter to our attention either by letter to Anamosa or direct to me. Meantime, go forward even as you have already done so well.

Return to Top

What About The Lodge Being A Study Club?

From East, West and South I am getting letters that convince me that in one respect at least I have failed utterly to make myself clearly understood. It is entirely my own fault, too. Here I am emphasizing Study Club organization as something beyond the ordinary Lodge routine. I have put so much weight upon this plan being carried on outside a tyled Lodge that several correspondents write to know why the scheme cannot be handled by the regular Lodge officers and the whole matter conducted on the Lodge-room floor. Of course it can. I'm positively ashamed of myself that I failed so absurdly to make that possibility absolutely clear.

Some Lodges already do this successfully. Several Grand Lodges have considered that very angle of the situation. The Grand Master of Utah said on this point: "I believe a system of Masonic instruction and education can be introduced into our Lodges which will make the Lodge meetings more attractive and interesting, without interfering with the usual work. A carefully prepared and correct exposition of a Masonic subject, or a division or instalment thereof, approved by competent authority, read in open Lodge, and consuming not more than thirty minutes time, occurring say six times a year, would, in my opinion, be a useful and valuable addition to our Lodge proceedings."

So it would, Bro. Cherry. Not the slightest doubt about it, in my humble opinion. But is not six times a year too few? Can we not do better?

It is right here where the difficulty comes in. My notion of keeping up the interest is to plan for study meetings frequent enough to maintain a grip upon the attention of the brethren. At this stage Lodge facilities are prone to fall down hard. Take the average City Lodge. How much time is there to devote to anything outside the "work" and the "business?" When I was Master I found it almost impossible to handle all the initiations, the examinations, the committees, the funerals, the excursions, the charities, and so forth, to my liking without going into the operation of a Study Club Annex or of supplementary lectures. Most Masters of my acquaintance will, I am sure, agree with me.

Where it can be done I do heartily approve of the use of the Lodge for all Masonic instruction that may possibly be given there. There can be no better place. Granted leisure for the purpose and what could be more seemly than the presentation of a suitable essay. An enthusiastic friend once said that he relished and cherished the idea that the makeup of a Masonic body should be such that it would be no rare thing for great discoveries in science to be first announced there, that fine artists of the Craft should there each submit their magnum opus and that every Lodge ought to be a center radiating the best there is in the whole scope of the arts and sciences.

Well, why not?

Return to Top


Continued in Part 2

.xx Next Month: January 1917
Previous Month: November 1916www General Index


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License