Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Freemasonry and Me

My Mother was one of ten children, raised on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. One of the first families to settle from Germany in this area, my Grandfather and his siblings made a living primarily as woodsmen and small scale farmers, interrupted by service in Canada’s overseas forces in both World Wars. Tradition was strong in the family, with all my Mother’s siblings continuing this way of life with the exception of her and my Aunt (who became a teacher) who moved to Halifax in their early 20’s to make an urban life.

As a young lad, I did spend most of my weekends and summer holidays working back at the family’s homestead. My Grandfather died before I was born, largely due to shrapnel lingering in his body from the Great War, but was revered by my Aunts, Uncles and Mother alike. I came to possess my Grandfather’s helmet from WWI, amazed at how small his head was and cumbersome his cover. In contrast, I was later to inherit a couple of his rings which are so large that I could not even have them re-sized to fit my fingers (and I’m a husky 6’1” 220 lb man!).

Throughout my Grandmother’s home I saw a symbol of a square, compass and letter “G” in the centre. In my early adolescence I asked an Uncle, who also had a ring with a similar symbol, what it stood for, and that was my first knowledge of Freemasonry. Further enquiries revealed to me that pretty much every man on my Mother’s side of the family were Freemasons. Late in life when I met my Father (he and my Mother divorced when I was 18 months of age and I didn’t meet him until I was in my 20’s), it turned out he had also joined the Craft.

As someone who loves tradition, I began to ask one of my Uncles about Freemasonry and he was very tight lipped about the whole thing. What more could make a young mind want to know more? I asked him “why I would want to join?” to which he replied “you have to join to find out”. This whole aspect of secrecy has been both the biggest attraction and detractor from Freemasonry as I see it. In any case, none of my Uncles would reveal anything further to me, other than that it would be beneficial for me to join.

In my 20’s I became largely engrossed in academics, paying particular attention to the Humanities. In the 1990’s I began to read books like “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” (by the guys suing the “DaVinci Code” author, Dan Brown), and numerous histories about Freemasonry. I became fascinated. Based on my readings, it appeared that Masons were intellectual esoteric Gnostics with considerable networkings and influence. In a nut shell, Freemasonry looked like it would offer me intellectual stimulation beyond my days of being a University student, in addition to meeting people who would assist me to get on with my goals.

So, in 1997 I became a Mason.

Initially, becoming a Mason was quite the spectacle. Your enter a Lodge and go through ceremonies that have existed for a very long time. Sadly, that is where the stimulation ended. What I found in the Lodge where I belonged was a group of old men who bickered about trivial politics of the Lodge itself, offered nothing in the form of intellectualism and the monthly meeting was nothing more than a business report. Wanting to be a part of the solution, I attempted to make things happen, publishing my own monthly Masonic newsletter where I’d have some topic of interest, in addition to organising a few socials and brought in some young blood. Sadly, the Lodge of which I was part was beyond resuscitation.

Disheartened, I demitted. It was a pity really as Freemasonry could be so much more in my estimation, if Lodges consisted of more Brethren with a fire in their belly regarding the fraternity. Turns out I am not alone, and, recently, another member of my old Lodge has handpicked several other Masons and they have started a new Lodge that will be set up along the guidelines of my original expectations. Initially when he asked me to join, I declined the offer, feeling that my ambitions for the Craft were all but extinguished. Then a few things happened. First off, I watched “National Treasure” which I got for Christmas. This film was reminiscent of the passion and excitement I felt way back before my initiation to Freemasonry. The second, in the spirit of the Kevin Costner film, I thought to myself: “if you build it, they will come”.

And so it goes, the iconoclast and the Craft. Life is full of interesting combinations, is it not?


  • At 10:40 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    I see you've been busy. I also looked into joining the Masons on a thoughtful whirl one day a few years ago. Couldn't do it. It was about the same time I thought about being confirmed to join my family in the Lutheran church. Couldn't do that either. Both required holding the belief that we are the tools of a higher being (not a higher power), and that we believe the marketing of said being enough to propogate the belief to our children. Couldn't get past that self-lie either. Too many lies in the past to keep track of now, so I really thought it out, researched and discussed it, and realized I needed to come out as an atheist. God came to me in a dream when I was 10 years old and told me to be an atheist. He killed me with a lightning bolt.
    It's all marketing. If you can get enough people to realize that in your 'club', then you can get on with the business of improving the world around us. That should be the purpose of the rituals: to get reborn into the realization that you can separate the previous life of consumption/conformity/complacency from the real world of cooperation, critical thinking, and creating. "Those who know what's best for us, must rise and save us from ourselves." - Rush, WitchHunt.

    Come and visit sometime. I'm working on a speech to give at my daughter's wedding in a couple of weeks.

  • At 7:56 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    I struggled (and still do somewhat) with the Christian Judaic undertones in Freemasonry as I am a pagan at best when it comes to beliefs in a Higher entity. What reeled me in was through my readings which showed the roots of Freemasonry to be more esoterically and intellectually based. Getting into the whole Templar side of things definitely is iconoclastic in nature. Sadly, conservativism seems to dominate. At the end of the day, it appeared to be some form of an intellectual that I craved.

    I will swing by your site - sorry that I've not visited in a while!

  • At 12:45 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    I agree that what got my attention were the esoteric leanings. I did talk to the local lodge leader, and he seemed very eager to sign me up. When I read the One Big Rule, however, I couldn't do that. I then got interested also in the Templars, etc. (not so much the Da Vinci Code, since I think Dan Brown writes technology poorly). My favorite overall book on ancient secrets is "The Atlantis Blueprint" by Rand Flem Ath.

  • At 8:12 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    I've read both these works and concurr with your observations. Brown's "Angel's and Demons" also follows the exact same format. Lomas, Knight, Baigent and the others who have been putting out some of the more provocative alternatives in books like "The Hiram Key" and "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" are great reads but often seem to permeate themselves a little too much with a sense of shysterism and leaps of faith worthy of of the most dogmatic of Theists.

    A rather good series written by Jack Whyte (a Canadian) is collectively called "A Dream of Eagles" and consists of six books I believe, chronicleing Arthur and that whole Camelotian esoteric stuff in a ficticious presentation. It's not Proust or Faulkner, but it's worth looking at if that kind of stuff floats your boat.

    Incedentally, I've just finished Turtledove's Great War alternate fiction and am presently commencing the next series: American Empire. It's a nice break from the usual tedious stuff I tend to immerse myself in (though also studying a heft book on Chess at the same time - my game is improving slowly but surely!).


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