The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Masonic Lodge part 3

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The third installment of a Newtown Pentacle accounting of the Open House New York tour of NY’s Masonic Grand Lodge in Manhattan. (check out part one here), and (part two here).

ret_g10_img_1102_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Since their beginnings in those authoritarian and tyrannical states so typical of 18th and 19th century Europe, the Freemasons and their principled set of beliefs have exerted a strong influence on the culture that created, surrounds, and persecutes them. Orthodoxy and status quo conservatism damned them, and accusations of sensational malfeasance abound.

One of the Masons, Giuseppe Garibaldi, made himself a particular thorn in the side of the Catholic hierarchy in Rome itself. Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, Garibaldi’s opposition to the church- and its Papal States-  may explain some of the animosity exhibited by the Holy See toward the Masons ever since.

It can be argued, since prominent Masons have been key players and organizers in many world events, that the revolutions in North America and France – organized and led by prominent Masons-  began a process ultimately resulting in the sustained existence of liberal democracies in our modern world. With their ideal of an austere pluralism concerning religion and political affiliation, public service, and an uncompromising devotion to the concept of “progress“- the core principles of Masonry have become constitutional rights in many of these “liberal democracies”. The Freemasons would seem to have been the authors of a blueprint by which our society was organized.

This notion, of course, overestimates the power and reach of this organization. Many powerful men are Masons, and many Masons have shaped our culture, but this is more coincidence than it is conspiracy. The notion of a secret society with sometimes sinister secrets rather than a sinister secret society fits my view of the world more comfortably than some overarching global conspiracy whose tendrils reach into every facet of life, and which excludes half the human race.

from wikipedia

The subject of women and Freemasonry is complex and without an easy explanation. Traditionally, only men can be made Freemasons in Regular Freemasonry. Many Grand Lodges do not admit women because they believe it would break the ancient Masonic Landmarks. However, there are many non-mainstream Masonic bodies that do admit both men and women or exclusively women. Furthermore, there are many female orders associated with regular Freemasonry, such as the Order of the Eastern Star, the Order of the Amaranth, the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Social Order of Beauceant and the Daughters of the Nile.

ret_g10_img_1112_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Remember, faithful readers of the Newtown Pentacle, that the Church spoken of here is the political and financial entity that existed before the 20th century. This organization maintained an army, fought wars, and held a significant portion of the Italian peninsula where it levied taxes, ran prisons, and banned books.

Absolute control over Europe (inheritance, marriage, heredity, legitimacy, status) for nearly 1,000 years, and the infiltration of high church office by bureaucrat and feudal nobility- resulted in a distrustful resent of both the Roman Catholic Church and the unpopular Nobles by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Newly emerged, and affluent;  a social underclass of makers, money changersmanufacturers, and merchants- the Bourgoisie- smarted at the arrangements which limited their ambitions.

They were being barred from the corridors of power, blocked by armies of corrupt priests and the unnecessary aristocracy that sheltered them. The temple doors barred, these Middle Class “Gentlemen” created and joined Brotherhoods or  Fraternities, and built their own temples- which used esoteric and often occultist philosophies as articles of faith. One of these Gentlemen’s Societies, the Free and Accepted Masons, would have an interesting and portentous future. So would another fraternity of honorable men, that had a more “mediterranean” feeling.

Ultimately, these conditions led to an Anti-Christ burning Europe down at the beginning of the 19th century- and another doing it all over again at the end of the age- the orchestral progression of the fin de siecle.

from wikipedia

The Vatican has long been an outspoken critic of Freemasonry, and has prohibited Catholics from joining the fraternity since 1738. Over subsequent years the Vatican has issued several papal bulls forbidding Catholics from becoming Freemasons under threat of excommunication. Today, the Church’s stance is that “The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”

ret_g10_img_1126_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast populations of this “middle class” fled the chaos on the Continent- some to mercantile Britain, and others to the new American Republic in its former colonies. They took their capital with them- both intellectual and financial. Shaken and somewhat broken after the revolutionary warfare that swept away the old order, Europe shifted its eyes to the future, and to its empires in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

This immigrant diaspora spread out over the planet, and the Bourgosie brought their culture with them- including Freemasonry.

In America- Masonry became Pop-Culture.

“Masons don’t want to control the world, man, they already do. If you betray them, they cut you up… Lookit the dollar bill… dude… and they killed JFK- Marilyn Monroe too… They’re connected to these sick warrior monks from the Dark Ages called the Knights Templar, who fought a crusade to capture Jerusualem and found an idol to the Serpent of Eden that talked to their leaders buried in Solomon’s Temple, and when the Pope had them killed for being devil worshippers the idol was hidden away in Scotland and then carried to the colonies where it told Washington to fight the English… and Jack the RIpper – awww… just read “From Hell“… if Alan Moore says it- it must be true… and 911 was part of a secret astrological war between the Masons and the Arabs“.

It’s a great rap – a real crowd pleaser and I’m guilty of it, I’m afraid. I’ve also got one ready to go for ghost hunting, also for UFO’s, and general witty remarks about passersby (which is all improv).

An argument for the Masonic “way”, which is probably an endorsement of corruption

I’ve got a buddy who makes keys. You tell me that you need to have a set of keys made at the shop on the corner. I tell you about my friend’s shop, on the next corner, and recommend his services. You are satisfied with the service, which was discounted when you mentioned my name. My buddy thinks better of me, and so do you. Networked transactions like these are based on “who you know”. Now- imagine that “who you know” includes a group of rich and sort-of powerful men who belong to the same exclusive club as you.

That is the core of “Masonic Conspiracy” theories. It would also probably constitute a violation of the RICO statutes, depending on circumstance.

Among the allegations were that Freemasonry denies revelation and objective truth. They also alleged that religious indifference is fundamental to Freemasonry, that Freemasonry is Deist, and that it denies the possibility of divine revelation, so threatening the respect due to the Church’s teaching office. The sacramental character of Masonic rituals was seen as signifying an individual transformation, offering an alternative path to perfection and having a total claim on the life of a member It concludes by stating that all lodges are forbidden to Catholics, including Catholic-friendly lodges and that German Protestant churches were also suspicious of Freemasonry.

from wikipedia

The 1980 German Bishops Conference produced a report on Freemasonry listing twelve points and allegations.

Among the allegations were that Freemasonry denies revelation and objective truth. They also alleged that religious indifference is fundamental to Freemasonry, that Freemasonry is Deist, and that it denies the possibility of divine revelation, so threatening the respect due to the Church’s teaching office. The sacramental character of Masonic rituals was seen as signifying an individual transformation, offering an alternative path to perfection and having a total claim on the life of a member It concludes by stating that all lodges are forbidden to Catholics, including Catholic-friendly lodges and that German Protestant churches were also suspicious of Freemasonry.

ret_g10_img_1121_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately for the sake of conspiracy stories, most of what the Masons seem to be up to- here in their hidden temples- is providing for the urgent medical care of poor and disadvantaged children.

The  Shriners Hospitals, a masonic charity, has been providing world class hospital services- including transportation- to children, free of charge, since 1922. They specialize in pediatric orthopedics, burn care, and the correction of craniofacial abnormalities like a cleft palette or split lip, as well as treating a host of other maladies.

from wikipedia

The earliest anti-Masonic document was a leaflet printed in 1698 by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Winter. It reads:

TO ALL GODLY PEOPLE, In the Citie of London. Having thought it needful to warn you of the Mischiefs and Evils practiced in the Sight of God by those called Freed Masons, I say take Care lest their Ceremonies and secret Swearings take hold of you; and be wary that none cause you to err from Godliness. For this devllish Sect of Men are Meeters in secret which swear agains all without ther Following. They are the Anti Christ which was to come leading Men from Fear of God. For how should Men meet in secret Places and with secret Signs taking Care that none observed them to do the Work of GOD; are not these the Ways of Evil-doers? Knowing how that God observeth privilly them that sit in Darkness they shall be smitten and the Secrets of their Hearts layed bare. Mingle not amoung this corrupt People lest you be found so at the World’s Conflagration.

ret_g10_img_1131_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A guy I used to have beers with, at a bar in the pre-fashionable meat market district of Manhattan, was a Mason. He was literally a concrete and sheet rock contractor, so the whole Masonic thing was a natural fit, I guess. He lived on… Staten Island…. which is far more macabre and sinister than any mere membership in a magickal fraternity. Good food out there, though. Garibaldi, incidentally, hid out on Staten Island during one of his banished periods.

from wikipedia

Many Islamic anti-Masonic arguments are closely tied to both Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism, though other criticisms are made such as linking Freemasonry to Dajjal. Some Muslim anti-Masons argue that Freemasonry promotes the interests of the Jews around the world and that one of its aims is to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem after destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In article 28 of its Covenant, Hamas states that Freemasonry, Rotary, and other similar groups “work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions….” Many countries with a significant Muslim population do not allow Masonic establishments within their jurisdictions. However, countries such as Turkey and Morocco have established Grand Lodges while in countries such as Malaysia, and Lebanon there are District Grand Lodges operating under a warrant from an established Grand Lodge.

ret_g10_img_1120_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The sort of tabernacle, an exclusive club for successful men- replete with ritual and regalia, is not so different from the sweat lodges of Manhattan’s original occupants. All tribal groups create buildings such as this, an Aztec House of the Eagles- or in the case of a culture that can and has sent a Man to the moon – a 19 story landmarked skyscraper on 23rd street in Manhattan. Look past the iconography in these garish decorations, notice the proportion, and the larger design of the place- the negative space formed by them. Most importantly, notice the lighting.

from wikipedia

Conspiracy theorists who are fervent anti-Masons believe that “high-ranking” Freemasons are involved in conspiracies to create an occult New World Order. They claim that some of the Founding Fathers of the United States, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, had Masonic symbolism and sacred geometry interwoven into American society, particularly in the Great Seal of the United States, the United States one-dollar bill, the architecture of National Mall landmarks, and the streets and highways of Washington, D.C.. They speculate that Freemasons did this in order to mystically bind their planning of a government in conformity with the luciferian plan of the Great Architect of the Universe whom, they are said to believe, has tasked the United States with the eventual establishment of an hermetic “Kingdom of God on Earth” and the building of the Third Temple in New Jerusalem as its holiest site.

ret_g10_img_1139_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Such wide eyed scrying actually leads me back to the beginning of this long posting- on the people who aren’t represented in this long and storied milieu of institutional memory and struggle. Women and Freemasonry is a bit of sticky issue for me. Since my understanding of “how business is done” is largely satisfied by my little argument in praise of corruption evinced above, and since this is a male only society- the ladies are cut out of lot of opportunity by this group. There are female Masons in France, but… France?

Also, racial segregation was a big part of American Masonry for a long time, as evidenced by the Prince Hall branch of Freemasonry.

from wikipedia

Jahbulon (or Jabulon) is a word which was used historically in some rituals of Royal Arch Masonry. According to Francis X. King, it is also used in Ordo Templi Orientis rituals.

There has been much debate over the origin and meaning of this word. There is no consensus even among Masonic researchers as to its meaning or legitimacy: one Masonic scholar alleges that the word first appeared in an early 18th Century Royal Arch ritual as the name of an allegorical explorer searching for the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple; another Masonic scholar believes it is a descriptive name for God in Hebrew; other, non-Masonic, authors have alleged that it is a Masonic name for God, and even the name of a unique “Masonic God”, despite repeated statements by Freemasonry’s officials that “There is no separate Masonic God”, nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry. It is this interpretation of a “Masonic God” that has led to debates about and condemnation of Freemasonry by several religious groups. In England, no ritual containing the name has been in official Masonic use since February 1989.

ret_g10_img_1141_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, we still need to talk about magick. Why is it that whenever all the lines and patterns have been traced, here at the Newtown Pentacle, we always end up back in the company of Aleister Crowley?

from wikipedia

Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) (Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars) is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century.

Originally it was intended to be modelled after and associated with Freemasonry, but under the leadership of Aleister Crowley, O.T.O. was reorganized around the Law of Thelema as its central religious principle. This Law—expressed as “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and “Love is the law, love under will” —was promulgated in 1904 with the dictation of The Book of the Law.

Similar to many secret societies, O.T.O. membership is based on an initiatory system with a series of degree ceremonies that use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds and impart spiritual and philosophical teachings.

O.T.O. also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC) or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order. Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass.

and…

In 1917, Reuss wrote a Synopsis of Degrees of O.T.O. in which the third degree was listed as “Craft of Masonry” and listed the initiations involved as “Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason” and elaborated on this with “Full instruction in Craft Masonry, including the Catechism of the first three degrees, and an explanation of all the various Masonic systems.” The same document shows that the fourth degree of O.T.O. is also known as the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch. It was summarized by Reuss as the Degree of “Scotch Masonry”, equivalent to “Scotch Mason, Knight of St. Andrew, Royal Arch”, and he described it as “Full instruction in the Scottish degrees of Ancient and Accepted Masonry.”

In 1919, Crowley attempted to work this Masonic based O.T.O. in Detroit, Michigan. The result was that he was rebuffed by the Council of the Scottish rite on the basis that O.T.O rituals were too similar to orthodox Masonry. He described this in a 1930 letter to Arnold Krumm-Heller:

“However, when it came to the considerations of the practical details of the rituals to be worked, the general Council of the Scottish Rite could not see its way to tolerate them, on the ground that the symbolism in some places touched too nearly that of the orthodox Masonry of the Lodges.”

Crowley subsequently rewrote the initiation rituals of the first three degrees, and in doing so removed most of those rituals’ ties to Masonry. He did not, however, rewrite the fourth degree ritual, which remains in its form and structure related to the various Royal Arch rituals of Masonry.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 27, 2009 at 3:40 am

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  1. [...] out parts one, two, three, and [...]


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