Origins of Freemasonry by: rhitland

Discussion in 'Masonic Education' started by rhitland, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member


    This was presented at our last Stated Meeting and thought I would share.

    I am asked quite often in meeting new candidates or outsiders of the fraternity, “When did Masonry begin?” or “What are the origins of Freemasonry?” To this subject I have dedicated a good portion of my Masonic studies to which like most in masonry lead me down a rabbit hole that was as deep as time itself.

    To ask one what are the origins of Freemasonry is to ask what are the origins of brotherly love, relief and truth? The documented beginning of the craft will only take us so far and as I will explain leaves one to gather through logic and reason it has existed far longer than our discovery on paper goes which then leaves it up to the heart and mind of the individual Mason to discover the crafts true origins.

    The Fraternal Masonic order as we know it today began in 1717 on June 24th St John the Baptist day and is the day the four lodges met in London at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House and formed the Grand Lodge of England where all regular lodges trace their charter back to giving the Grand Lodge of England the name “Mother Grand Lodge” as it was very instrumental in making masonry what it is today.

    There being four lodges already functioning constitutes the fact that masonry is far older than the Grand Lodge of England. There is hard evidence to this claim first of which being the Schaw statutes the first being written in 1598 in Scotland. This statute laid out the hierarchy of the lodge that of master, wardens and deacons which we still use to date.

    The status de Ratsbonne marked the transition of masonry from operative to speculative in the country of France and was written in 1498 a hundred years prior to the Schaw statutes. The second oldest document in Masonry known to us at present is the Mathew Cooke Manuscripts which lays out the charges, legends, invocations and regulations . This document is dated from 1450. The oldest document we know of is the well known Regius Poem or Hilliwell manuscript. This is a poem lays out the moral implications of the craft to the Mason and states Freemasonry was brought to England between 924 to 939 again hinting at a far older age than stated here.

    I have read articles, papers and books claiming Masonries origins to certain religions all of which become more and more convincing the more you study them. We have rites and ceremonies in our degrees that date further back than and through Egyptian times. The great Pythagoras creating his famed 47th problem of Euclid and mind for geometry made him synonymous with Masonry and we often here the claim he was a Mason himself. Pythagoras lived from 570 to 490 B.C. again leaving the mason to ponder our true origins.

    Masonry is uncanny at its ability to start you on a factual journey of historical wonders only to leave blindfolded and left to your own logic and reason to find your answer. This to me has many implications but to the subject at hand seems to imply that the origins are shrouded for the reason that Masonry is not to be thought of on the whole as originating from a specific group or organization but is left to the individual to discern the origins of our great Craft in their hearts and minds.
    The craft is founded upon the timeless energies and emotions of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and whatever origin masonry needs to be derived from to strengthen these principals within any given individual Mason, I propose our craft can easily do.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2009

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