Wizards, Wackjobs, and Weirdoes

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Frater Cliff Porter, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    From www.therelevantmason.com

    They snickered when he walked by, the two Brothers, longtime past masters and longtime members of the lodge, both slightly deaf, thought they were whispering. “Is he a wizard or just a wackjob?†the man had asked. Both giggled and snorted a bit, the other responded, “I don’t see a wand in his hand, but nothing would surprise me with this lot.â€

    The Wizards actions that brought such ridicule, the study of the esoteric areas of Masonry. He had read a paper the other day during good of the order and the paper was about speculative alchemy, since which time he was branded “one of those.â€

    Generally, my style is not a rant so much as it is a story. This writing is categorically a rant, so if you suffer from rantaphobia, I recommend reading no further. If you believe that men with less than 50 years in the Craft should keep quite and learn their place and that holding a dues card deems a man a Mason or an event merely taking place in a Masonic lodge is enough to deem it a Masonic event, again, I implore you, read no further.

    Long gone are the fun filled days of my Masonic youth when I was overtly offended by statements that started with “back in my day†and ended with some sort of immoral moral story that included me sitting down, shutting up and simply being happy I was a Mason. I have reached a point that I am only saddened that a Brother has sat in lodge so many times and found so little in the way of Masonry. It seems that you can have 20 years of experience, or one days worth of experience over and over again for 20 years, depending on how you choose to see it, or more importantly for this rant, choose not to see it.

    There is a shift in the Craft right now, a rent in the fae* as it were. Like all transitions, even the initiatory one that all Masons are supposed to go through, there are ripples and currents and instabilities. There is always a death before a rebirth. (For those who are now thinking, “Man, this guy must be one of those wizards, wackjobs, or weirdoesâ€â€¦that answer is yes, and had you paid the least attention during your MM degree, your 18th degree, or the Order of the Temple you would have noticed there is a slight allusion death and rebirth in all of these).

    The Craft as a whole is undergoing regeneration, an evolution of devolution as it were, a return to the philosophical, alchemical, and psychological aspects of Masonry. I am a proud to be a member of the transitional team, and don’t mind the ripples. Nonetheless, I have noticed that as the pendulum swings, the grumblings of those who would prefer to do nothing have grown louder. Because the cacophony has drowned out a few voices of education I find far more melodious lately, I have decided to address them.

    First, I would like to address the statements that seem loudest.

    “Just because you want Masonry to be mystical, spiritual, or include other hocus pocus, does not mean that it does.â€

    “What in the heck does alchemy have to do with Masonry at all?â€

    “Pike, Wilmshurst, Hall and others were weirdoes or oddballs and don’t speak for the Craft. Heck, most men in Masonry are never going to read those crackpots anyway.â€

    I have addressed these individually before and/or with groups. But, today I want to discuss, at least briefly, the converse or the root of the argument. Not the psychological or philosophical origins which are likely to do with unfit men being made Masons with little or no thought given to the work in attempts to bolster numbers and keep dues artificially low….that, is another argument for another day.

    No, I want to discuss the foundation of the argument from rhetorical standpoint. I mean rhetorical in the traditional and academic sense of invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. I believe that the invention or discovery of the argument against Masonry as an alchemical art, a mystical tradition, or spiritual undertaking is flawed. So, I will make my argument here.

    The converse to Masonry as a mystical tradition of metaphysical transformation generally takes the position that Masonry is a highly stylized social group with moral lessons imparted to its members. In short, it is a social order for good men to get together on occasion and help serve their community.

    If this is the case, I find most of Masonry difficult, if not impossible to explain. When Masonry is regarded as a purely mystical tradition designed for transformation all of these misgivings and difficult explanations dissolve.

    So, if Masonry is nothing more that a social and charitable order and all of the mystical and metaphysical “stuff†is drummed up by the wizards, wackjobs, and weirdoes, then I ask WHY:

    1. Do we (the Craft) bother with a tiered initiatic system that includes archaic language modeled after the mystical traditions of Greece, Egypt, Persia, etc? Why not simply allow people in after a back ground check? Shared experience is attained easily enough by going to dinner together or consuming alcoholic beverages together. Why initiate at all?

    2. Do the penalties and passwords directly correlate to alchemical operations in place and written about in the 1400 and 1500’s long before the public acknowledgment of Freemasonry in 1717. Alchemical operations include taking an herb that is torn out by its roots, placed in liquid, agitated twice in a day while remaining buried in a sand bath during the remainder of the operation. Any of this seem familiar? The passwords for the various degrees have direct alchemical allusions, why would the drafters of the operation make these connections, for pure coincidence? The highest point of a distillation apparatus was referred to as the pinnacle of the temple. It continues like this throughout all of alchemy and ancient alchemical text.

    3. Does the neophyte’s journey culminate in an ancient death ritual similar to those found in ancient mystery schools designed for the sole purpose of spiritual enlightenment?

    4. Is the word “mysteries†or “mystery†specifically included in many Masonic rituals if there isn’t one? Is this a lie?

    I will be honest, if Masonry is a purely social order with some charitable intentions; it does a miserable job it. My arguments for this are as follows:

    1. You can’t talk to the lodge without first addressing the Master which slows communication, which is the primary objective in a purely social event.

    2. There is very little actual socializing during lodge and many lodges don’t have dinners anymore or the dinners are so terrible they have become a point of jest and humor within the ranks of the Fraternity.

    3. We give very little money away for a charity.

    4. We barely help ourselves. Brothers will fall away from lodge without being noticed and rarely receive so much as a phone call before his NPD letter is mailed.

    5. Men rush home instead of socializing because meetings are filled with minutes, paying bills, and petty arguments all while sitting in the same seat and next to the same person you always sit next to. This is not social.

    As a purely social or charitable order, Masonry utterly fails and becomes nothing more than bizarre and archaic ritual with no meaning. Further complicating the issue, it would mean that several parts of the rituals used throughout the world are filled with outright lies. The rituals and charges of the various orders of Masonry speak to mystery, enlightenment, and a need to study the deeper meanings and converse with well informed adepts and Brothers. If Masonry is a social club that teaches the golden rule, what is left to “study.†We could some it up with, “Hey that’s naughty, stop it.†Those lessons are learned prior to grade school for most and certainly don’t require an elaborate death ritual to inculcate them.

    So it is, I must relegate myself to the denizens of the wizards, wackjobs and weirdoes that will study as the ritual begs, search as the charges recommend, and never stop trying to build the temple, hone the stone, and perfect the ashlar.
     
  2. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    Well said! I try to live most of what you are ranting.
     
  3. ShadyGrove821

    ShadyGrove821 Registered User

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    Well said, my Brother! Excellent rant.
     
  4. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    As always...excellent post!
     
  5. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    sweet post
     
  6. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    Great post! Gimme a bit of time and I'll take a stab at addressing some of your points.
     
  7. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    So, if Masonry is nothing more than a social and charitable order and all of the mystical and metaphysical “stuff” is drummed up by the wizards, wackjobs, and weirdoes, then I ask WHY:

    1. Do we (the Craft) bother with a tiered initiatic system that includes archaic language modeled after the mystical traditions of Greece, Egypt, Persia, etc? Why not simply allow people in after a back ground check? Shared experience is attained easily enough by going to dinner together or consuming alcoholic beverages together. Why initiate at all?


    Because we do. I know that sounds like a brush off but hear me out. There are several viewpoints on the origins of the Craft, all of which stress the need to initiate as a means of impressing the mind with the seriousness of the Brother’s journey in the Craft. It is a journey of discovery, within and without. The degree of that journey, its intensity, its depth, is largely up to the individual but the basic tools are presented from initiation into the Order. By the time one has been raised, all has been imparted, much of what is taught in the concordant bodies is largely an expansion of the first three, an elaboration, if you will.

    For many, that is enough, for it fills the need in their lives nicely. For others, more is needed, deeper thought and study. Again, the journey is personal and in many respects forms the “mysteries” of Freemasonry.

    2. Do the penalties and passwords directly correlate to alchemical operations in place and written about in the 1400 and 1500’s long before the public acknowledgment of Freemasonry in 1717. Alchemical operations include taking an herb that is torn out by its roots, placed in liquid, agitated twice in a day while remaining buried in a sand bath during the remainder of the operation. Any of this seem familiar? The passwords for the various degrees have direct alchemical allusions, why would the drafters of the operation make these connections, for pure coincidence? The highest point of a distillation apparatus was referred to as the pinnacle of the temple. It continues like this throughout all of alchemy and ancient alchemical text.


    Possibly, if that is what the penalties of the Craft’s obligations mean to you. To me, I regard the penalties as a means to instil fear in the minds of candidates. Why fear? Because in the times when they were devised a man could be horribly tortured and killed because of what the craft sought to teach, that we are a Brotherhood of Man, equal under the Fatherhood of God. Thoughts like that could get you burned at the stake (or worse) in the 14 and 1500’s. A penalty such as is found in the obligations would be in keeping with the times they lived in and would ably serve to keep the Craft safe. Today, they still serve, although in a tongue in cheek way, to impress upon the mind the seriousness of the undertaking.

    3. Does the neophyte’s journey culminate in an ancient death ritual similar to those found in ancient mystery schools designed for the sole purpose of spiritual enlightenment?


    I would say yes. It reinforces the important lesson of the immortality of the soul and that our actions in this life have repercussions beyond the grave.

    4. Is the word “mysteries” or “mystery” specifically included in many Masonic rituals if there isn’t one? Is this a lie?

    No, it is not a lie. But one should be careful not to think that the “mysteries” implied are in the ritual. They are not in print. They are in a life well spent on the level. They are in what we learn about ourselves and how we deal with our obligations we have to all around us. The best secret in Masonry is that there isn’t one. The secret is in each Brother.

    I will be honest, if Masonry is a purely social order with some charitable intentions; it does a miserable job it. My arguments for this are as follows:

    1. You can’t talk to the lodge without first addressing the Master which slows communication, which is the primary objective in a purely social event.

    It is not a purely social event. The Master is there to direct the proceedings and guide the Officers and Brethren in the performance of obligations and the direction of the Lodge. Communication is slowed down considerably if the meeting is allowed to be uncontrolled, it would quickly descend into a mass of arguing and yelling; it’s human nature to be so.

    2. There is very little actual socializing during lodge and many lodges don’t have dinners anymore or the dinners are so terrible they have become a point of jest and humor within the ranks of the Fraternity.

    That’s not the fault of the Craft or it’s teachings. In all jurisdictions there are lodges that have been neglected to the point of near death. Many should be shut down for their own good and absorbed into better run and more active lodges.

    3. We give very little money away for a charity.

    Probably true to a point but again this is not the fault of the Order, it is the fault of neglect and poor management. The economy has some blame also, although many lodges have long become near sighted as far as charity is concerned. In my lodge, the quickest way to earn a reprimand from the WM is to say one of two things, “We are not a charity”, and “ That’s not the way we used to do it”. We are obligated to be charitable, not only with money but also with our time and efforts.

    4. We barely help ourselves. Brothers will fall away from lodge without being noticed and rarely receive so much as a phone call before his NPD letter is mailed.

    Again, not the fault of the Craft. Lodge administration is something that must be taught and practiced. I think we have collectively failed on that front but changes are coming in many jurisdictions. If you notice such a thing in your lodge, stand up during the Good of the Order and make it known that the Officers are not doing their jobs! Peer pressure works both ways, up and down.

    5. Men rush home instead of socializing because meetings are filled with minutes, paying bills, and petty arguments all while sitting in the same seat and next to the same person you always sit next to. This is not social.

    A common issue. Nothing can kill a meeting like the Secretary droning on and on, especially if the lodge room is hot! Talk to your Secretary and WM, together they can change that. I’m not sure about your jurisdiction, but in mine minutes must be “adopted as read”. There is nothing requiring they be read aloud. We have the Wardens read them and certify in open lodge that they have, plus they are posted. This gives an additional 20 minutes in Lodge for education or an extended Good of the Order or whatever.

    As a purely social or charitable order, Masonry utterly fails and becomes nothing more than bizarre and archaic ritual with no meaning. Further complicating the issue, it would mean that several parts of the rituals used throughout the world are filled with outright lies. The rituals and charges of the various orders of Masonry speak to mystery, enlightenment, and a need to study the deeper meanings and converse with well informed adepts and Brothers. If Masonry is a social club that teaches the golden rule, what is left to “study.” We could some it up with, “Hey that’s naughty, stop it.” Those lessons are learned prior to grade school for most and certainly don’t require an elaborate death ritual to inculcate them.

    You’d be surprised. A bit of revision is a good thing, even for the Golden Rule. But one thing we seem to overlook sometimes is that Brethren are charged to study and advance their knowledge. But again, the means and degree to which that is done is up to the individual. For some it is a limitless quest in boundless arenas; for others it is memorizing the bus schedule. Both are honourable. Be careful not to judge others based on your self perceived abilities lest ye be judged as pretentious.

    So it is, I must relegate myself to the denizens of the wizards, wackjobs and weirdoes that will study as the ritual begs, search as the charges recommend, and never stop trying to build the temple, hone the stone, and perfect the ashlar.

    And right you should, we need Brothers such as you! You are not afraid to tread where others dare not and suffer the ridicule of those less enlightened. I look forward to your rants because they make us think and who knows where that will lead?:SNC:
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  8. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    If this where a social club it would be where the other social clubs like the Oddfellows ended up, in some book as history. Masonry's rabbit hole is much deeper than any social organization allowing the Masons curiosity to run free and while most are scared to death of the depths of the hole some Masons realize this is a rough and rugged journey one in which lives have been lost. Humans are notorious for believing what they want to be true and I think the Inquisition proved how futile it can be to attempt to change another's believes. I feel about all we can do is what has been done here and that is voice our feelings as to what the craft is so others are not scared to mold their believes by what they truly believe not what somebody pressures them into believing. I did hide my wand out of respect when I took into lodge, after reading this though I will never again. Great post Brother.
     
  9. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Thank you for the kind words Brother...
     
  10. cog41

    cog41 Premium Member

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    After reading the threads about events surrounding the Florida Grand Lodge, I found this to be a timely thread for sure.

    Brothers Cliff Porter and PeterLt present interesting words indeed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  11. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Why have the rituals? Why to spontaneous "clubs" formed by little boys have elaborate and impenetrable rituals, passwords, etc? Because it makes it more fun to play.
    Masonry is no more successful as a substitute for religion than as a social club or charitable organization.
     
  12. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Frater cliff I wholly 100% agree with you
     
  13. bjdeverell

    bjdeverell Premium Member

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    Thank you! I'm in the same boat. Dedicating time, every day, over the years studying on my own would have meant so much more if I had others with me along the way. Sadly, it's just not the kind of thing to bring up in most Lodges today.
     
  14. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    It's a shame to deny the roots of masonry.
     
  15. bjdeverell

    bjdeverell Premium Member

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    Too true. I still blame the 19th century anti-Masonic movement. We had to hide the "mystical" from all the cowans and eavesdroppers that were on the warpath and looking for proof of our evil deeds. Sad consequence is that we no longer felt comfortable talking to anybody about it and it became a lost art.
     
  16. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Well hopefully the new generation will breathe some new life in the order. I'm proud of the roots that freemasonry has, the ideas of those roots propelled society
     
  17. cog41

    cog41 Premium Member

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    Well done brethren.

    Good response to an old yet sound and relevant thread.

    Nicely done brother Frater Cliff Porter!
     
  18. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Great post Brother Cliff! Great post indeed.

    Say ... if you have a little spare time, you are welcome to come down to Houston and stomp on the biggest soap box I can get my hands on.

    WOW! That was flat putting it into words they should all be able to understand.
     
  19. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    Thanks for bumping this. I remember when it hit the blog "back when."
    I'm fortunate to have found a lodge that thinks being is "whackjob" is a bonus. Even if my Mother Lodge (well, 70% of) still shakes their heads.
     
  20. Bubba

    Bubba Registered User

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    Well. I dont know about all that, but all I ever herd was thet Masonary isnt ocult, and we arent nothing but a fraternity. Thats why we always invite the woman and famlies when ever we eat or have an isntalations
     

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