MRF National Symposium Registration

Discussion in 'Upcoming Masonic Events' started by Frater Cliff Porter, May 18, 2010.

  1. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    REGISTRATION NOW AVAILABLE for the MRF National Symposium. Registration is online only. Space is limited. We will continue to update the site with speakers bio's and deals we are negotiating with local shops for our attendees.

    www.traditionalobservance.com to register.

    THIS IS A DON'T MISS
     
  2. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Cliff.

    I've been hearing about "Traditional Observance" Lodges for a while, and had a look at the MRF site.

    It's an intriguing concept, and might well attract some who currently find freemasonry insufficiently interesting to join, or who have joined but find it insufficiently fulfilling to bother attending. So to that extent it seems like a worthwhile addition to the options available.

    However, in what sense is this "Traditional"? It certainly doesn't look at all like the American tradition to me, so it doesn't seem traditional in that sense. And for those Americans who might want to go even further back in tradition than anything currently available in the US, then I'd have thought that "traditional" would mean going back to the British model from which American freemasonry was derived, but the Traditional Observance doesn't seem much like that either. Certainly there are some elements in the MRF manifesto which are indeed traditional, but mostly they're European traditions which have never (so far as I can see) been any part of the American Craft and therefore aren't appropriately called "Traditional" when practiced in an American context.

    Thus I'm not against what you're advocating, but the name you're using for it strikes me as uncomfortably bogus. It looks to me more like a system of "Brand New Observance", rather than "Traditional Observance". So I'm curious: why do you call it "Traditional"?

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  3. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Brother it boils down to perception:

    GODISNOWHERE


    About half read GOD IS NOW HERE the other group read GOD IS NOWHERE

    Same letters, different way of looking at it.

    I was not part of the MRF when the name "Traditional" was picked but can tell you the traditional approach means one in which the initiatic, educatuional, and philosophical traditions of Masonry are emphasized.

    I think you paint with a broad brush when it comes to saying "in America." Just because we don't currently recognize something does not mean it is not traditional. Chambers of Reflection, Chains of Union, etc... are all things present in Colonial Masonry that were removed during the time that Masonry removed much of its practices in era after the Morgan Affair. As I have traveled I have found Masonry varied much from state to state....sometimes from lodge to lodge. So traditional for one might not be traditional for another.

    Even still, I believe the word refers to the ancient tradition or idea that Masonry can improve you.

    P.S. Just for fun.....Scottish Rite isn't Scottish, Blue Lodges are not blue, York Rite isn't from York, Strict Observance was not strict, and the Egyptian Rite was Scottish
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
  4. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Cliff.

    Well, yes, okay. When I get out my map, it does look like America's a pretty big place. So I spoke in general terms; obviously there may be all sorts of curious quirks lurking in various corners.

    Agreed. BUT when asserting that something unrecognisable in the present is genuinely a lost tradition, then I think the onus is on the claimant to offer some evidence.

    Oh? In the 16th District of GLoLA, yes, and so far as I know still done there. But I'm surprised by the implication that it's been used elsewhere in the US. Can you tell me more about where and when and how come?

    I had some difficulty in correspondence with a US Bro a few weeks ago, even understanding what this is at all. His Lodge had introduced something under that name, but in the name of using a working which actually doesn't include anything of the sort, and what he appeared to be doing was using words intended for a quite different purpose in a brand new (not traditional) way.

    Can you explain to me what you mean when you use this term, please?

    Where can I find some history on such removals? I thought the main response to the Morgan affair had been the Baltimore Convention, the main effect of which seems to me to have been to propagate wider usage of Webb's ritual (which mostly meant adding practices, not removing them) and holding meetings in the 3rd degree instead of the 1st. But perhaps I'm missing something significant, in which case I'd like to hear about it.

    That's rather a weak explanation. Every Lodge surely says that, even now.

    True, it's mostly French. Well, in origin ... but so heavily re-written that it might be justifiable to say that it's American!

    Yes they are! Because the regalia is all trimmed in blue, and that's exactly why it's called a Blue Lodge.

    Except that most of you guys over there in the US just wear plain white instead, yet adopted the name Blue Lodge without adopting the reason for that name.

    Meanwhile, in one of history's little perversities, we in UGLE do wear the blue trim, yet we don't use the term Blue Lodge for the Craft Degrees.

    Erm ... well ... it's arguable. I think probably not, as you say, but there's a current attempt by some historians to say that actually some parts of it really do come from York.

    Depends what you mean by strict. It was highly authoritarian, so it was strict in that sense. In what sense do you mean that it wasn't strict?

    Oh really? Never heard that one before, and pretty sure it's not true. The only Egyptian Rite I've heard of was the one invented by Cagliostro, who travelled around Continental Europe quite a lot but I believe mainly worked in France, and I don't know of him ever even visiting Scotland. Is there also some other Egyptian Rite?

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  5. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    My good hand and fingers are in a cast, so excuse the shortness of this, but will try to hit the big ones if that's cool and will give you my number via PM as voice is way easier for me. Also my skype name is ichermes and I will be on skype while in Istanbul the next few days.

    I will start with this
    Every lodge may SAY it, but the TO concept was built out of a desire to do it. Brother I don't like the idea of titles like T.O. and and E.C. to differentiate lodges working towards a highly fulfilling experience, but in many regions in the US Masonry is sufferung and it is primarily unfulfilled Masons not returning to lodge because the lodge experience did not meet any of its own goals or the brother's expectations.

    I would love a day when the names and models drop away and Masonic is the only word needed.

    ------

    Okay covering your reference to the Chain of union.

    Its common all over the world, is common in the York or American Rite, and is a simple and fraternal enclosing around the altar and joining hands. Generally a statement of Masons being unified in working towards morality, charity, or peace is used as well. If you saw or witnessed something else I can only say it was not in keeping with the historical tradition of the CoU.

    -------

    CoR's were referred to in many older alchemical text and used with some regularity on the east coast in early lodges. Go visit on the East Coast, the birthplace of our Masonry in America. Grand Lodge museums have whole CoR replicas set up as reference to their "older" practices, Mackey, Pike, and McAllester all reference them and their use. Our originators did not live in the day of the color brochure so its not as easy to find written references to it. But the existence of CoR's in the old buildings is interesting. Occidental Lodge in Greely recently uncovered their CoR built in the 1800's. Builders magazine has multple old references if you collect....but Brother over the years as a bibliophile and avid reader I have many. Wilmshurst references it as well for England in the 1920's.

    I am not claiming it was "wide spread" but I am claiming it was more common than we thought. I learned during my experiences with the Masonic Baptism, that often things are quickly forgotten and were more wide spread than we currently understand.

    I recommend getting a hold of as many pre-Morgan books that you can and then read the stuff pouring out during the 30's to 70's and you will be shocked at the shift.

    -------

    In closing, I don't believe a single member of the MRF ever stated or intended to state that T.O. was "long lost." I appreciate the argument, but its a red herring.

    I will post Brother Dennis's words on T.O. as he is the founder.

    But Brother....in the end the MRF does not want to sell the TO to all lodes. It is a very specific approach for those who wish to use it. BUT we do want to develop a list of best practices from all over the country from lodges that are succeeding and then help other lodges implement those practices or a regionalized version of them so that we can all benefit from proven best practices evidenced from the success of those programs and practices.
     
  6. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    The Traditional Observance Lodge

    Dennis V. Chornenky President Emeritus, Masonic Restoration Foundation

    While many Masons may have heard about European Concept lodges, which are themselves a relatively new concept in American Freemasonry, few have heard of the Traditional Observance lodge. Traditional Observance lodges are similar to European Concept lodges in that they also incorporate higher dues, festive boards, a strict dress code and higher standards of ritual, but differ in that they choose to follow a close observance of the traditional initiatic elements of Continental European and South American Freemasonry.

    This observance is characterized by a solemn approach to holding stated communications and conferring degrees, the use of the Chamber of Reflection as part of the initiation ceremony, forming the Chain of Union after the meetings, longer time between degrees and the requirement for candidates to present a paper before the lodge on the lessons of each degree prior to advancement. Traditional Observance lodges are also more likely to use the term Agape rather than Festive Board to describe the meal which follows the meetings. Agape is the ancient Greek word for “love,†and in Freemasonry the term signifies a meal eaten in common by a congregation of Masons in token of Brotherly Love.

    A non-profit organization working to promote the study and understanding of traditional Freemasonry called the Masonic Restoration Foundation (MRF) provides education and support for Traditional Observance lodges in recognized jurisdictions. The MRF seeks to foster a network of lodges and individuals of strong spiritual and intellectual character that will help preserve the initiatic tradition within American Freemasonry for future generations.

    Members of Traditional Observance lodges believe very strongly that the foremost purpose of Freemasonry is to provide an atmosphere where good men can unite together in a common pursuit of virtue in service to God. The“workâ€of aTraditional Observance lodge is not to review minutes or bills, or plan social or philanthropic activities, but rather to create an atmosphere where the members can learn the lessons of Freemasonry and how they can be inculcated into their daily lives.
    This is referred to as Masonic Formation, which is the ever continuing process of spiritual and intellectual formation that all Freemasons must undergo in order to improve themselves in Masonry. This term differs from Masonic Education in that it refers to a process of growth concerned with much more than intellectual faculties. Masonic Formation is the process of fitting the rough ashlar of the imperfect being into the perfect ashlar fit for the divine temple. It is a constant transformation through the use of Masonic symbols, rituals, and teachings.

    Everything that occurs in a Traditional Observance lodge is undertaken within this context. Success is viewed as effectively imparting the traditional teachings hidden within Masonic symbols and the spiritual unification of the brethren in such a pursuit. Successful Traditional Observance lodges, though usually maintaining a small membership of less than 50 brothers, retain and engage their members with meaningful human fellowship, stimulating discourse and enriching programs.

    Traditional Observance lodges endeavor to make Masonic teachings and philosophy accessible and interesting to the members and do not shy away from dealing with the spiritual issues and questions that many men begin to find more meaningful as they mature. The Traditional Observance lodge seeks to create an ambiance where true learning can occur by taking the members inward to the core of their being rather than outward toward the profane elements of life.

    A typical meeting of such a lodge may go as follows. The brethren, all properly dressed according to the dress code (at minimum black suit, white shirt and black tie), will arrive at the lodge hall, which will be dimly lit by candlelight, with classical music softly playing in the background. If there is a degree the brethren will maintain complete silence prior to the ceremony. Otherwise they will converse quietly over some light refreshments before entering the lodge room and being properly seated.

    Once the lodge officers have ceremonious ly marched in and the lodge formally opened, the Worshipful Master will call for a period of silence, usually lasting several minutes. Following this the Master will call for the scheduled papers and pieces of music to be presented in an arranged order. During the meeting there will be no reading o fthe minutes or any administrative business of any sort (if allowed in the jurisdiction).

    The music that is presented is usually of a contemplative nature and is viewed as an important component of every meeting as it contributes to the overall beauty and solemnity of the atmosphere. The music is also intended to acquaint the brethren with the spectrum of Masonic music composed during the 18th Century and to educate them on the profound history of the classical musical tradition and its relationship to the Masonic Mysteries.

    The presentation of papers is viewed as an essential aspect of the life of the lodge and promotes the continued study of Masonic lessons by the brethren. The topic of the papers must be relevant to the interests of the lodge and papers of a strictly historical or biographical nature are rarely entertained in the lodge room, though they may be presented during the Agape. Topics considered appropriate for the lodge room are symbolism, initiation, ritual, metaphysics, philosophy and art. These topics and their relationship to Masonry can be found in the context of the major world religions, esoteric movements such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah and many other Western and Eastern traditions.

    Before closing the lodge the Worshipful Master will call for another period of silence. Once the lodge has been formally closed the brethren will gather around the altar for a ceremony known as the Chain of Union, which is meant to symbolize the common commitment to Masonic ideals and connection with other Masons from all over the world. The brethren will then retire to the Agape, which is usually a catered meal with formal toasts and where a discussion of the main paper presented earlier will take place.

    In conclusion, Traditional Observance lodges give their members the opportunity to partake in a ritual and sociability that they cannot find anywhere else. Traditional Masonry allows brothers to move their minds from the mundane to the mystical, away from life’s petty particulars to attention on its transcendent meaning. While Traditional Freemasonry may not appeal to everyone, it is proving to be a success in more and more jurisdictions around the United States.
     
  7. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Cliff.

    I dare say we'd all like that, but it's not realistic. It can only happen when every Lodge everywhere does everything the same way and every Brother wants it that way. Until then, names and models are necessary to tell us what each Lodge is trying to do.

    In England we have something rather like that in some of the additional Orders, although with specific ritual rather than a free-form wording (as I think you're implying).

    It's not done in Craft Lodges here, though. However, some of our Craft Lodges do use something like this at the Festive Board rather than in the actual meeting.

    I'm not sure what alchemical texts have to do with masonry!

    There are a lot of rooms in some of the English masonic centres which could be mistaken for CoRs, but which in fact aren't. So I wonder if all these examples in the US are really what they think they are.

    We do use a CoR in Ancient & Accepted Rite, what you'd call Scottish Rite, but it's unknown in Craft over here. You're sure that the references in Pike etc. are to Craft use, not additional Orders? If they were truly used in Craft in the US, then I'd be highly interested to know from what source those Lodges obtained a Craft ritual which specifies a CoR. I've only ever come across it in Continental European practice, and even then quite often from irregular jurisdictions, and I haven't hitherto been aware that Continental practice had much influence in the founding of American masonry.

    Wilmshurst was an oddball. I could imagine he might have experimented with foreign practices in his own Lodge when no-one was looking, but it's certainly never been the custom to use a CoR for Craft in any of the English Workings, nor Scottish Workings, nor Irish Working. It's so far removed from British tradition that it might well even be treated as a forbidden irregularity, although I'm guessing because I've never heard of a case.

    That brings up a thought, however: don't most US GLs lay down a fixed ritual? So how do you get away with introducing these variations like CoR and CoU? Do you have to get special dispensations to use non-standard ritual?

    I shudder at the idea of "Masonic Baptism"! That'd definitely be forbidden over here, far too much like turning freemasonry into a religion. Here we're pretty careful to avoid anything which apes a sacrament of the church. Where did you get that one from?

    Being in England, it's not that easy to find ancient American masonic books. I've got a lot of old English books, but those don't tell me much about changes in American ritual practice in the mid-nineteenth century, naturally they're mostly British-centred material.

    Can you recommend anything specific for information on this? I might be able to source it if I know exactly what I'm seeking.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  8. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Cliff.

    This is copied from the MRF website, which I've read before. I won't try to comment on all of it, but a couple of points deserve comment.

    For a meal taken "in token of Brotherly Love", then the proper word would be "Filios", the Greek word for filial or fraternal love.

    "Agape" is the Greek word for divine love, not fraternal love. I think you're close to blasphemy using this word for a fraternal meal, and I therefore find it somewhat offensive. Even though I find the idea of your style of Lodge meeting quite intriguing and would be interested to visit, I don't think that I could in good conscience attend a Festive Board called an "Agape", it seems theologically objectionable to me. I recommend that MRF ought to cease and desist, indeed positively prohibit this misuse of terminology.

    Here your chairman is again clearly asserting that T. O. is "traditional Freemasonry", and yet you've acknowledged in an earlier post that American masons wouldn't "currently recognise" T.O. as their tradition. So I don't see how you can maintain your other previous assertion that it's not claiming to be a "lost" tradition: if a tradition is real but isn't now recognised, then surely that must mean that it's lost, even if you don't use the word lost?

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  9. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Still in a cast, but will do my best.

    I disagree that Masonic lodges must be the same to be fulfilling. In fact, the reverse, in my experience is true...just as the best meals feed all of the senses. I also think striving to assist lodges in achieving positive and effective programs is laudable and realistic.

    ------

    You are incorrect about the use of the CoR in Craft degrees. I am not going to recount all of my studies or travels and if you think I have misunderstood the references by the authors mentioned.....read them before recommending that I have misunderstood. I think it is arrogant to assume I have made such an error.

    -------

    I am a member of Lodge of Living Stones 4957 in Leeds and have all of the writings given to members. We disagree about Wilmshurst completely and I find your conjecture ill conceived and filtered through preconceived notions.

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    All U.S. lodges use set ritual. We don't "get away" with anything. CoR's are done prior to opening outside of the lodge room. CoU's are ritualized and not free-form and are done after closing.

    Also, the variations and special dispensations for diverse and varying rituals in the US are so great that I could not begin to list them all, but some include and have included the CoR since there inceptions in colonial or pioneering times.

    ------

    I am certain you shudder at the baptism and I defend your right to do so.

    ------

    As far as blasphemy goes......I am a proud heretic and blasphemer. I find both terms are ones commonly used by fundamentalist and radicals to shut down free thought, free speech, and free conscience.

    It was blasphemy to speak against the divine rights of kings and I am an American because some men had the courage to ignore this and blasphemously create my country. I am glad they did.

    We chose Agape with full knowledge of the implication.

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    I am surprised you would ask what Masonry and alchemy have in common. Lodges in Europe would have operational alchemical laboratories during the Enlightenment, the FIRST English speculative Freemason ever recorded was a devoted alchemist, ritual is fraught with alchemical symbols and psychology. I recommend The Alchemical Keys to Masonic Ritual by Tim Hogan for a short and succinct tool in this study. You can order it on Amazon UK.

    -------

    As far as old books I would go Abe Books, Alibris, and Biblio. For reprints Cornerstone Book Publishers. Vuze has a ton for torrent downloads but sometimes they seem loose on copyright interpretations.
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    Brother Huw I have enjoyed the exchange. If you are truly interested in learning more please register for the symposium. You will not be disappointed.




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  10. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Greetings, Cliff.



    I'm sorry to hear that, and hope you make a full recovery soon.



    I never said anything of the sort, and it is disingenuous of you to pretend that I did. All I said about sameness was that that'd be the pre-condition for not needing labels to distinguish styles.



    Obviously, but this is irrelevant to what I said. You appear to be saying that I'm "wrong" to have said things which in fact I didn't say and wouldn't agree with.



    Since you decline to cite any evidence for your opinion, you must forgive me for drawing my own conclusions about how well-founded your opinion may be.

    Authors like Mackey and Pike wrote a tremendous amount, and generalisations like "read them" without saying where among many thousands of pages they said this is evading the question. And neither of them was a reliable historian in general, so careful consideration of whether or not a particular reference was part of their factual observation or part of their fanciful romanticism is needed to assess the value of any particular account.



    Kindly read again what I said. I didn't say you were wrong, I simply expressed surprise and politely asked if you were sure, and said I'd be interested to know more. In response, you're merely blustering and making false accusations of arrogance. You consider this proper masonic conduct?



    Ah, I see. Well, we'll just have to disagree about Wilmshurst. Of course he was entitled to his opinions, and you and the other Living Stones are entitled to agree with him, but to the vast majority of Masons his views were and remain distinctly oddball.

    You appear to be assuming that I have no familiarity with his work - need I say that this assumption smacks somewhat of the arrogance of which you falsely accuse me? I don't pretend to have read all of his work, but I've read some of it. He was deeply mystical, an occultist, a student of ceremonial magic, and held very particular and distinctive views about the meaning and purposes of freemasonry. Actually I agree with some parts of what he said (as no doubt many others would), but taking his positions as a whole I don't see how you can claim that he was other than an oddball. You might well choose to agree with everything he said, but in that case I reckon you're pretty oddball too.

    For example, he maintained that freemasonry is "beyond the mental horizon of the average Brother" who therefore "remains an initiate in name only, not in fact" (Wilmshurst, W. L., 1925, The Fundamental Philosophic Secrets within Masonry, Masonic Study Society). Now even if Wilmshurst is right about that, most Brethren are going to find his opinion pretty insulting, and will agree with me that it's a pretty oddball opinion that most Brethren are not actually Brethren. For another example, Wilmshurst was a pretty hardcore mystic, banging on about his conception of "cosmic consciousness", people having visions and so forth - "... without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame-coloured cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next, he knew that the light was within himself" (Wilmshurst, W. L., 1924, Concerning Cosmic Consciousness, Occult Review). Again, I say this is pretty oddball stuff to most of us.

    Note, please, that I'm not saying that oddball is necessarily wrong. There's certainly a place for highly-mystical interpretations of freemasonry, as personal opinions of individuals. But I'll stick to my original assertion that Wilmshurst's views definitely qualify as oddball.

    Ah, outside the official proceedings, I see. Fair enough, thanks for explaining.

    Can you supply (by PM, perhaps?) an example of the ritual wording used over there for CoU?



    Well obviously I wouldn't want you to list them all, but I'd quite like to know where I can obtain an example ritual showing old Craft usage of CoR in a US Lodge (other than 16th district GLoLA, where I gather that it exists from their French heritage).

    Not just myself, I think pretty much the whole of regular masonry would shudder. UGLE is very firm that freemasonry is emphatically not a religion and offers no sacraments, and I believe every other regular GL agrees, whereas the word "baptism" clearly implies some sort of sacrament.

    You implied in your previous message that this ritual (whatever it was) used to exist but was "quickly forgotten". I feel obliged to point out that some rituals are quickly forgotten for very good reasons! Nevertheless, as a matter of historical interest, I'd like to know where I can find a copy of it.

    Well, suit yourself.

    Believing in freedom of religion, freemasonry can't have a collective view about heresy.

    However, blasphemy is the dis-respecting of a religion, and in particular the dis-respecting of one's own religion (whichever it may be). Believing in tolerance for one another's religions, and therefore in treating one another's religion respectfully even though we may each privately believe that a different faith is sadly misguided, freemasonry can and does have a collective view about blasphemy: it is unmasonic conduct to express blasphemy.



    I'm not speaking as a fundamentalist, I'm speaking as a freemason.

    No-one can shut down free thought, the human brain automatically thinks.

    As for free speech, however, freemasonry imposes restrictions and does not uphold unfettered free speech between ourselves. Not offending another member's religion is one of those restrictions - think what you like, but if it's offensive to your Brother's faith then don't say it.



    The "Divine Right" was a peculiar theory of James I at the beginning of the 1600s - he didn't invent the idea, but he wrote a book about it and was the first to introduce it as a serious concept in Britain. It was abolished by Cromwell in our Civil War in the 1640s. After the Restoration, the later Stuarts tried to re-introduce it, but weren't allowed to get away with it, and it was finally abandoned after our Glorious Revolution in the 1680s. It was never blasphemy to speak against it, and many did so in my country as well as yours, although there was a brief period when the Stuarts tried to claim it was treason.

    Nonsense. The formal doctrine of Divine Right was long dead before 1776, only upheld by a few remaining Jacobite sympathisers who were regarded as treasonable by the Hanoverian governments. And Americans were already Americans even before becoming independent. And I reckon most Americans, certainly those I know, would be offended at the idea that it was blasphemous to create the US.

    Anyway, Texans aren't part of the US because of the War of Independence - the events of 1776-1783 were all East Coast. Texans are in the US because of the events of 1836-1846. Otherwise Texans would be Mexicans.



    Well I suppose some might argue that that's better than doing it in ignorance, but I'm appalled by such a decision.

    There was a usage of agape to mean a feast in early Christianity, but this was specifically a sacramental meal including the celebration of the Eucharist at table. For that purpose, the use of the word agape had some justification. But since regular freemasonry is not a religion and offers no sacraments, that justification cannot apply here.

    I note that you're not alone in using agape to refer to the fraternal Festive Board, but I also note that the other usages of the term are mainly associated with the irregular European organisations, the GOdF and so on, not from regular freemasonry. This irregular connotation strikes me as another good reason for avoiding that terminology.

    It's true that some masons, especially in the early days, were known to have had alchemical interests. Elias Ashmole (I assume he is the one to whom you refer as the first recorded English speculative) certainly had a significant interest in the subject, but he was primarily an antiquarian and his interests appear to have been more historical than as a practitioner (although he does indeed appear to have toyed somewhat with the practice as well). He wrote books on many other subjects, so it's exaggerating to describe him as devoted to this field. And the private interests of one man prove little about the movement as a whole.

    I don't recall ever reading of any early Lodge going so far as to have had its own alchemical laboratory, in spite of my extensive studies of real masonic history (i.e. as opposed to fanciful nonsense, of which there is a great deal), but nevertheless I concede that it is possible that one or two Lodges may have had such facilities. I'd be interested to read more on this, if you can point me towards a source for serious information. The Enlightenment, however, was the death-knell of alchemy as a practical laboratory investigation, which was superceded by real chemistry during that period, so alchemy is emphatically not an Enlightenment concept; on the contrary, laboratory alchemy (as opposed to the mystical system attached to alchemy) represents a harking back to the pre-Enlightenment days, part of the resistance against the Enlightenment.

    That there is some overlap between alchemical symbology and masonic symbology is to be expected, as likewise is the overlap between church symbology and masonic symbology, and various other similar coincidences. The originators of freemasonry naturally drew upon the systems of symbolism which existed in their time, the symbols with which men of their time were generally familiar. The re-use of similar symbols doesn't imply any particular connection.

    If there were a serious intent to incorporate alchemical symbolism into freemasonry with a specifically alchemical purpose, then surely one would expect some of the key symbolism to be borrowed more systematically. Ashmole (for example) was a particular fan of John Dee's alchemical work, so you'd certainly expect Dee's key symbol of the monas to appear if there were an alchemical intent ... yet it doesn't appear in masonic symbolism at all. So I doubt there was ever such an intent by most of our originators, even if a few of them may have had some leanings in that direction.

    Thanks, I'll go look at them.

    I'm in London, Cliff, so Colorado Springs is a very long way for me, and several of the sessions on the agenda look likely to be irrelevant to UGLE masonry. And I suspect that I'd mainly end up arguing with y'all about what I reckon you're getting wrong. But if MRF wants me to come as a guest speaker on either "How to improve the T.O. model" or "What Tradition really means in Freemasonry", then I'll consider it.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  11. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    :29: Brother Huw I think that flying Mr. Tim Freke from the UK is all I can swing and I think we can both admit I would be run out of town after your speech :)

    It is clear we disagree, but that is likely, as it should be. Masonry provides many roads to Brotherhood and I think that the fact that we are still Brothers one and all is the most important.

    I think my philosophical approach to Masonry, my love of Wilhmhurst, etc.....put me into a category of Brothers that would probably befuddle and frustrate you given time, but my house is your house and if you ever decide to visit the US, I will bring to you lodge and give you lodging.

    I will be in the UK next year so maybe we can sit in lodge then anyway. I will, obviously, be going to Leeds for Lodge, but I would love to fit in another meeting.....I will bring copies of the Masonic Baptism :).
     
  12. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Ah, Freke, yes, I've heard of him. Writes a lot on religion: the "Jesus was a myth" theory, the merger of gnostic christianity with paganistic goddess-worship, and various other things. However, I don't have time to read everything and Freke's work is part of what I haven't found time for. I've got the general impression that he may be on the same path as Rene Guenon followed a few years ago, but without reading his work I'm not sure if that's fair. But in any case, another guy whose views look to be distinctly oddball by most people's standards. I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve, exposing a masonic symposium to such material - I can imagine various reasons, but I'm not sure which applies.

    Actually, I don't think you'd be run out of town for anything I'd say. Even I might not be run out: if I were a betting man (which I'm not), I'd bet a lot of MRF/TO guys are seekers of authenticity and would be quite interested in my perspective on that. Although I concede that discussion might get a little lively. But some other time, enough of arguing about this for now.

    If your trip next year might include passing through London, let me know. We could find a meeting to attend, or just buy a couple of beers and argue.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2010
  13. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Sounds good Brother.

    Incidentally, we are bringing in Freke to show that an educational program can be wide ranging and challenging without always being specifically "Masonic." We are likewise showing that just because a man is a NY Times best seller and lives on a different continent, does not mean you can't likewise, go for it. All things are possible.

    Be well.

    You gave me an idea for a discussion....btw.
     
  14. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Hey Huw....since this thread ended up as a back and forth between you and I....I posted my question..."What is authentic Masonry" among others on TSS if you have an account over there. I know many of the TSS'ers come here and several here come there.....so anyway, if you have an account its over there under "Authentic Masonry" in the General.
     
  15. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    We have added updates to the site www.traditionalobservance.com We are bringing in more speakers, we are bringing in Colorado's Largest Metaphysical store with a vendor booth and special discounts for attendees, etc....

    Registration is simple and online, but SEATS ARE LIMITED.
     
  16. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    We have some Texas Masons registered for the MRF Symposium. If people are looking to car pool, let me know and I will make sure I put Brothers in contact with one another.

    See you there and thank you Texas Masons for supporting the MRF.
     
  17. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    So we have had our first TEXAS Masons register and includes Brother Pete Normand who edits the Plumbline. Hope to see more Brothers from this wonderful Masonic state.......
     
  18. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    What about blasphemy of ones view of Masonry? If one finds alchemy, religion or cupcake recipe in Masonic rituals how in the world could someone not say it was there? My perception no matter how hard I try could never be fully understood by another and since Masonry started as a secret one is surely left to believe its purpose was left to interpret by the individual. If our goal is to make good men better this is the most efficient way, to let them find their own path with free will. To say alchemy or anything is oddball to Masonry is to discount the vastness of this machine called Freemasonry. Just because it was not done that way when UGLE formed or documentation can support does not mean it does not have a place in Lodge. Our craft was founded in ??? by ??? this makes what Masonry is or came from, all opinions. The landmarks are our guidelines as best the men could offer in there time being MOSTLY free from persecution of violent religions and if the craft was to survive how could it have directly opposed such great power as the church by putting alchemy front and center of the craft. I enjoy the variances of the views of Freemasonry and see this as the backbone of making us better men. General Patton once said "if we are all thinking alike then someone is not thinking" To bring the unusual and unknown to light are the duties of a Mason so oddball is where we should live. IMHO
     
  19. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    Just FYI March 2nd 1836 Texas was born and if we were not asked to be Americans we would still be Texans. Fact of the matter is we are the only state that was asked to join the union. As much as we love Mexico we do have to remember the Alamo. Fantastic discussion though I wish we had more like you Huw, you really press me to be in the know.
     
  20. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Brother Huw,

    Forgive me if I skip the formality of quoting you last post. We both know what we are talking about I would hope. I didn't say you were ill informed about Wilhmshurst, I just think we disagree. For instance, "beyond the mental horizon of the average Brother" is not a statement I take umbrage with. Pike, Bromwell, McClellan, and MacNulty to go a little more modern have expressed similar views and I find them not so far my personal experiences. As an example, I know of a Grand Lodge that had $3,500 in education money voted in to the budget by the Brothers and the Grand Lodge, uncertain of how to proceed, spent in a flashy booth at a state fair surrounded by pigs while Brothers manning the booth wearing Hawaiian shirts and flip flops were on the news talking about how Masonry is open to anyone....education...I don't think so, did I learn something from it....you bet I did, but I am not certain that is the education the Brothers wanted when they voted in the money.

    This is a typical communications style and tactic called "Devaluation" in collegiate level psychology of communication courses. By adding cupcake recipe you have devalued alchemy and religion to make the standard academic argument so popular in some circles that those who study the religious or alchemical areas are somehow wack jobs and not relevant or accurate. That is fine. I will answer to the question anyway. Through study, evidence, historical research, meditation, revelation, and initiation. For instance, from a researched historical perspective of monitorial information the alchemical influences in Masonry are undeniable. The most common password for the Fellowcraft degree is alchemical, the common Masonic apron is pictured in alchemical work from the 1400's and has a specific alchemical reference to calcination. The "dew of Herman" mentioned in Psalms and in much Masonic work is an ancient Jewish alchemical reference and also references, by verse in alchemical orders from the 1400's and in Islamic and Sufi alchemical traditions such as the Picatrix. The penalties such as references to twice in a day (paraphrasing) and in sand are a specific alchemical formula that is still followed in alchemy today, verbatim and is completely operative. Herbs are torn out by their roots and placed in a rough sand bath and agitated two times in one 24 hour period during their first degree or first stage of spygeric alchemy.

    I disagree completely concerning the origins of Masonry. I agree that there is strong evidence on different sides of the argument, but for the devoted student there are always avenues to the truth. The argument that it is everything to all men and that fact is impossible is the same faulty relativism that leads to moral relativism and a failure of the Craft's members to define it...which has led to others defining it for us....and they have defined it as "irrelevant."

    By putting it in an allegory and veiling it symbols.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010

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