Dating to 18th-century London, Freemasonry is one of the oldest of these operating fraternal orders, although the group’s mythology claims it is rooted in the building of King Solomon’s Temple around 966 B.C. Like many similar groups, the Masons were borne out of a British craft guild, wherein stone layers learned the tricks of the trade. A present day member named Lettelier, who is a York Rite Mason, a Scottish Rite Mason, a Shriner, and a Past Master of his Lodge in Havana, provides some insight into the not-so-secret society of the Freemason.
“The concept of freemasonry, which taught architecture and geometry, goes back thousands of years,” Lettelier says. “The Greek temples, the pyramids in Egypt, you name it—none of that could have been built without a knowledge of mathematics. So whenever you see the square and compass with the letter G in the center, that stands for God or sacred Geometry.
Back in the 1500s and 1600s when the great European cathedrals were being built, a ‘freemason’ was a bricklayer or stonemason, who was free to travel and work,” he continues. “This was a big deal, because most men weren’t free. There were kings and knights, but the serfs were owned by the king. Uniquely, Freemasons were people who were allowed to travel, work, and receive master-masons wages wherever they went. They were accomplished tradesmen. Back then, you probably spent 10 years as an apprentice before you received a degree. If you gave up the secrets of geometry to someone who wasn’t worthy or well-qualified, the Freemasons would literally put you to death.”
Modern-day Freemasonry, however, emerged when the stone masonry guilds began to initiate honorary members, armchair architects or intellectuals excited about the new ideas of reason and science that were catching on during the Enlightenment. “Geometry is taught in colleges now,” Lettelier says. “But 200 years ago, geometry was only taught in Masonic Lodges. During the Renaissance, men of social class joined their local Masonic Lodges so that they could learn these things.”
“This figure is reproduced here because the Egyptian Thoth is the equivalent of the Grecian Hermes and the Roman Mercury, the true Grand Master of All Symbolic Lodges. From the earliest Masonic manuscripts we see Hermes represented as the ideal of the Master of the lodge and in some traditions is even said to be the founder of Masonry.” - Rex R. Hutchens - A Bridge To Light - pg. 167
The Hiwassee Union Baptist Church in Reliance, Tennessee, was built in about 1899, Church members and members of the local Masonic Lodge joined together to construct the building, the upstairs of which was used as a Lodge meeting room and the downstairs was used for church services. The church was also used as a school for a short time. There was a river ferry very near the church, and every Sunday the church paid for the crossing for those who wished to attend services. They had the place locked up as tight as can be, so the interior photo was shot through a window.
The Seal of Solomon is the six-pointed star, known more widely in the profane world as the Magen David, or Star of David.
The Seal of Solomon appears in examples from throughout Europe, as early as 1742, and up to and beyond the 1813 Lodge of Reconciliation. The same sigil - the Masonic Seal of Solomon - was known differently to the Pythagoreans. To them, the six-pointed star was known as the Hexad.
Pythagorean teachings held that numbers were not simply quantitative figures; rather, they possessed characteristics of the Divine. Further, the sigils associated with these numbers symbolized these same characteristics. The Hexad was interchangeable with 6, and hence went by a variety of different names, each a reflection of certain characteristics held by the number and the symbol.
Pythagoreans noted the harmony inherent in the “perfection” of 6. A number is “perfect” when the sum of its divisors, less itself, equals itself. With the case of 6, the divisors are 1, 2, 3, and 6; less itself, the divisors of 6 are 1, 2, and 3, the sum of which is 6. Thus, the Hexad represents Perfection.
“I’ve seen this same imagery in movies and cartoons, with the helpless guy who is torn between the angel whispering in one ear and the devil screaming in the other. Oftentimes it feels like we all can relate.
Kabbalah, however, teaches us that this is not the case. No matter how much it may feel like it at the time, we are not helpless entities torn between two opposing forces. In fact, we are the furthest thing from helpless. We hold all the power. One of our greatest gifts is the ability to choose which force we are going to activate in our lives: The positive, or the negative.
Falling prey to the influence of negativity doesn’t require much of us. Choosing negativity is not an act of will, but an absence of effort. To rise above the negative and choose to connect with positivity requires great effort. As a kabbalist sage once said, “Climbing a mountain is hard, but falling down that mountain requires no work at all.”
The negative voice is always louder than the positive. It requires an active choice on our part to shut it down, but we must know that it is always within our power to do so. We are not victims of circumstance. No matter the circumstance it is absolutely possible to control our consciousness throughout it. By choosing a positive consciousness, we create a more positive reality for ourselves and others.
It is with this knowledge that we are able to understand that our experience of life is truly up to us.
This week, try to keep in mind that choosing between positive or negative consciousness is the only decision we ever really make.”
Society Adventures: Masonic Mysteries and Historic Cocktails at the Grand Lodge of New York
Ever fascinated by the impenetrable Freemasons, the New York Obscura Society recently delved into the fascinating world of secret societies with an elaborate cocktail gala at the Grand Masonic Lodge of New York.
Founded in 1782 and at one time holding the largest membership of any Masonic lodge worldwide, New York’ s Grand Lodge contains floor after floor of ornate hallways and decadently designed rooms, all discreetly hidden within a rather nondescript 23rd Street location. Typically accessible only to initiated Freemasons, the building is as grand and full of mystery as the historic organization itself.
Masonic tracing board with a Portal to another Dimension appearing between the pillars of Heaven and Earth.
There are three degrees of masonic tracing boards: Initiate (first degree) - view of the Macrocosm and our place within and as part of it. Our limited physical existence and the various phases of spiritual development are represented as Ashlars. Fellowcraft (second degree) - view of the crossing where physical world and spiritual truth meet, the point where without becomes the within. We can see a retrospect and prospect of our voyage to Knowledge; the reborn seed ripening into an understanding of Life which is at the centre of us all and at once the mystery of Natures Grand Circle. Master (third degree) - shows us the inevitable point of transition between the physical and spiritual, from the finite to the eternal. Thing of the earth, mere physical labour and its results are transient, conjured from dust as mountains from sand and returnd by Time to the shore of the Eternal Waters from which we are all sprung.
Two symbols of the Royal Arch Masonry - Past H and Past J.
Freemasonry describes itself as a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The symbolism is mainly drawn from the manual tools of stonemasons - the square and compasses, the level and plumb rule, among others. A moral lesson is attached to each of these tools. The meaning of the symbolism is taught and explored through ritual.
All Freemasons begin their journey in the “craft” by being progressively initiated, passed and raised into the three degrees of craft. During these three rituals, the candidate is progressively taught the meanings of the lodge symbols, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other Masons that he has been so initiated. The initiations are part allegory and part lecture, and revolve around the construction of the Temple of Solomon, and the artistry and death of his chief architect, Hiram Abiff. The degrees are those of Entered apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
I know I’ve been MIA but its because Pilar and I are working on some of the most exciting art I have ever seen, so it is really taking up all of my free time. Thanks for the support & love!
KNOW THYSELF 2014
This piece is inspired by the phrase “Know Thyself.” I believe that to know yourself brings us closer to death, as symbolized by going up the stairs to the skull; but in knowing yourself, the fear of death is released and you transcend all of 3D experiences. The pillars are earth and sun, to love them is to be them and through the arch completes the trinity.