The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for October 28th, 2009

Masonic Lodge part 4

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The last 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), with (part three here).

ret_g10_img_1199_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Ritual magick (Crowley added the “K”, to distinguish it from stage craft) claims to alter, influence, and control a field of undetectable energy which surrounds and suffuses the material world. Its practitioners, both alone and in groups, enact ceremonial analogies whose imagery and environment stimulate and accentuate sensitivity and control over this ether.

Before you snicker, remember that this is a long winded way to describe faith and prayer, and that energy might as well be called God. I tend not to judge, as I believe in Superman- hey you have to believe in something…

I’m not joking. “What would Superman do?” pops up a few times a week in my internal dialogue, as I make my travels across the poisoned loam of the Newtown Pentacle.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Worshipful Master

The senior officer of a Masonic Lodge is the Master, normally addressed and referred to as the ‘Worshipful Master’ (in Scotland, and in Lodges under the Scottish Constitution, the ‘Right Worshipful Master’). The Worshipful Master sits in the East of the lodge room, directs all of the business of his lodge, and is vested with considerable powers without further reference to the members. He also presides over ritual and ceremonies.

The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. The office is filled by election, generally by means of a secret ballot. However, in most lodges the progression is such that the post will almost always be filled by the previous year’s Senior Warden.

It should be noted that the honorific “Worshipful” does not imply that the Master is worshiped. Rather, use of the word implies its original meaning, “to give respect”, similar to calling a judge “Your Honor” or a mayor “Honorable”. In fact, mayors and judges in parts of England are still called “Worshipful” or “Your Worship.” French Masons use the word Vénérable as the honorific for their Masters.

The corresponding grand rank is Grand Master. The Grand Master may preside over his Grand Lodge when it is in session, and also has certain rights in every lodge under his jurisdiction. Grand Masters are usually addressed as “Most Worshipful”.

If you patiently read the following paragraphs of historical explanation, you may come to an understanding of “the hidden mysteries of nature and science”. Then we can discuss Freemasonry, and you will see truths your Worshipful Master has never contemplated.
From the Garden of Eden a battle has raged between two deadly enemies. The battle began when Lucifer incarnate the serpent, a man-like creature – great giant of a fellow, until God changed every bone in his body and put him upon his belly. Lucifer being God’s right-hand man, knew that God’s Plan was to build a kingdom. Knowing it would be inherited by Michael, (or Christ), he became jealous and set about gaining it for himself.
God commanded man to multiply, fill and subdue the earth, and to have dominion over it. But by his wisdom, Lucifer knew that as the seed of a horse can fertilize a donkey to produce the hybrid mule God never created, so the seed of the serpent could fertilize the woman and create a hybrid species uncreated by God. And whenever the offspring of Eve by the serpent intermingled with the seed of Adam, the progeny would always be serpent’s seed, and NOT on the Book of Life. So he incarnate the serpent and seduced Eve.
From that time to this there have been two races of people on this earth. The seed of Cain, and the seed of Adam. Cain was begotten of that wicked one (I John 3:12). Abel was the son of Adam who was the (only) son of God (Luke 3:38).   God placed enmity, that’s “hatred,” between us. Lucifer knew that by miscegenation, he could exterminate the seed of Adam and thus fall heir to the kingdom of Christ.

ret_g10_img_1202_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Belief in magic(k) is widespread. Psychology calls this a functionalist perspective, which defines varying and random events as having meaningful and interrelated significance and eventually gives way to the phenomena of magical thinking. Believers enact daily and seasonal rituals and even perform pilgrimages to remote locations, performing little acts of magick. Crossing oneself, or washing when returning from a cemetery, are symbolic acts meant to curry harmony with this energy. Other people have found different sets of rituals, and symbols.

note: The Grand Lodge room of the Free and Accepted Masons of NY can seat 1,200 people, and is adorned with 54,000 sheets of gold leaf. The Masons will rent it to you for $2,100 a day. A yearly rent would concurrently be $766,500- but if we could get 1,200 people together at $1.75 a head… the possibilities are unguessable.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Senior Warden

The ‘Senior Warden’ (sometimes known as First Warden) is the second of the three principal officers of a lodge, and is the Master’s principal deputy. Under some constitutions, if the Worshipful Master is absent then the Senior Warden presides at meetings as “acting Master”, and may act for the Master in all matters of lodge business. Under other constitutions, including Grand Lodge of England and Grand Lodge of Ireland, no mason may act as Worshipful Master unless they have previously been a Master, and so the Senior Warden cannot fulfil this role unless he is a Past Master. In many lodges it is presumed that the Senior Warden will become the next Worshipful Master.

ret_g10_img_1207_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

 

Often, in previous postings, I have mentioned the extreme discomfort I feel when in the company of others. Always, I must remain so, an Outsider.

The things I know are learned from relict books scribed by suspect authors, whose out of print tomes were found on the dusty shelves of resort town thrift shops and long gone East Village storefront churches. Too skeptical to believe even in myself, I nevertheless have tried to find out a lot about what other people believe in.

Or at least- I’ve read books about belief systems, and glimpsed the hidden and wondered as it illuminates the lives of the others.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Junior Warden

The third of the ‘principal officers’ is the ‘Junior Warden’ (or Second Warden). In some jurisdictions the Junior Warden has a particular responsibility for ensuring that visiting Masons are in possession of the necessary credentials. In others, this is the job of the Tyler. The Junior Warden is charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is in recess for meals or other social purposes.

The Wardens are ‘regular officers’ of the Lodge, meaning that the positions must be filled.

ret_g10_img_1167_ohny.jpg by you.

 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ritual space of the western hermetic traditions are always somewhat similar, and adjust for scale. There is always a magickal language, often accompanied by harmonic music. This ritual language may be sourced from another- often ancient- tongue, but its always a bastardized form bent to the specific needs of the ritual and will be sung or chanted in a phonetic and memorized call and response fashion. The Jesuits have Latin, the Kabbalists Hebrew, the Sufi’s have arabic and so on. Ceremonial languages are guided by some sort of hierarchy, whose leader is signified by jewelry or regalia- and in many traditions- the priestly figure will carry a sword and or chalice, sometimes both.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Treasurer

The role of the ‘Treasurer’ is to keep the accounts, collect annual dues from the members, pay bills, and forward annual dues to the Grand Lodge.

The annual presentation of accounts is an important measure of the lodge’s continuing viability, whilst the efficient collection of annual subscriptions is vitally important, as any lapse in payment (deliberate or unintentional) can lead to a member losing voting rights, being denied the opportunity to visit other lodges, and finally even being debarred or excluded from his own lodge.

ret_g10_img_1173_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A system of apprenticeship, with transmitted knowledge passing from master to acolyte via ritual attainments, vouchsafes the sacred ritual space against profane intruders. Iconic representations of earlier magickal traditions will be displayed, connoting a connection to some long vanished civilization. The root of magick in the west often refers back to either Egypt or Sumer, which has been the case since the time of the Roman Amulet Trade. The modern connections to the Egyptian mysteries were made when Napoleon invaded Egypt, sparking a fashionable interest in hidden knowledge from “The Black Land” back in the 19th century. Before it became an analogous adjective, the Rosetta Stone promised revelation to academic and magick worker alike.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Secretary

Although any member may hold the office of ‘Secretary’, it is almost universal practice for an experienced Past Master to hold this position. (One notable exception to this norm was the appointment of Rudyard Kipling as Secretary of Lodge of Hope and Perseverance No 782 (English jurisdiction) at Lahore, Punjab, India in 1886: Kipling was just 20 years old, and had only just been admitted as a Freemason; indeed, he recorded the minutes of his own initiation).

It is also common for the same member to hold the office of Secretary for a number of years, for the sake of continuity; although again, there is no rule to this effect, and annual re-election/appointment is necessary in all jurisdictions.

The Secretary’s office is sometimes said to be the real power base of a lodge. It is certainly true that the position is an influential one, and in those lodges which do not have an active general committee, the Secretary inevitably ends up making many key decisions in the life of the lodge.

The Secretary’s role includes issuing the ‘summons’ (a formal notice of an impending meeting, with time, date and agenda), recording meeting minutes, completing statistical returns to the Grand Lodge, and advising the Worshipful Master on matters of procedure. In many lodges it is also the Secretary who determines (with consultation) the progression of officers within the lodge. The Secretary is almost always a key figure in the interviewing of potential new members of the lodge.

ret_g10_img_1181_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

 

The magickal societies which are offshoots of Masonry are too numerous to mention, but here are a few notable examples which have had staying power.

  • The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which has a stormy and tragic history due to the influences of Aleister Crowley, was founded by 3 masons.
  • Predating the modern Freemasons, the Rosicrucians or Knights of the Rosy Cross, have contributed significant ritual and symbolic iconography to the Hermetic Traditions.
  • The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, which is a bit more theosophical than Hermetic, but nevertheless worthy of mention.
  • The Theosophical Society of Madame Blavatsky, which is actually a VERY important and influential group that shaped modern society. Kindergarden and Montessori education for young children is theosophy made mainstream. So’s the concept of “karma” as it is defined in Pop-Culture.
  • Ordo Templi Orientis, Crowley’s gnostic cult, which popularized the practice of Yoga, Free Love, and the notion of “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Deacons

A Deacon is a junior officer in the lodge. In the traditions of most Grand Lodges each subordinate lodge has two Deacons, styled ‘Senior Deacon’ and ‘Junior Deacon’ (though ‘First Deacon’, and ‘Second Deacon’ is sometimes encountered as an alternative.)

The principal roles of the Senior Deacon are to conduct candidates around the Lodge during certain ceremonies and formally to assist the Worshipful Master and to carry messages between the Master and the Senior Warden.

The office of ‘Junior Deacon’ is similar in many respects to that of Senior Deacon. The principal roles of the Junior Deacon are to assist the Senior Warden, conduct certain candidates, and carry messages between the two Wardens. In some jurisdictions he is also responsible for guarding the inside of the main door of the lodge and ensuring that the lodge is tyled (in other jurisdictions this duty is given to the Inner Guard or Inside Sentinel).

ret_g10_img_1191_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The end of the Victorian world, and the dawn of modernity, came at the end of the second thirty years war (the composite World Wars One and Two). The Forty years war (aka Cold War) saw the hermetic tradition compressed into paperback books, horror films, and during the 1970’s- manifested in the United States and western Europe through a three fold process. A fad of commune living and cultic activity in the late 60’s and 70’s, revelation en masse via the burgeoning Evangelical Christianity movement, and large populations experimenting with fashionable psychedelic drugs. Magical thinking had taken hold, and our culture simply wrote off the past.

Through all this chaos, however, the Masons “kept on keeping on”.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Stewards

‘Stewards’ are commonly appointed to fulfill a number of junior assistant roles. There is considerable variance, even within the same jurisdiction, as to the precise roles played by Stewards. Some of their common duties could include the following:

  • Stewards are often tasked with an understudy role to fill the position of the Senior Deacon or Junior Deacons, in their absence.
  • When a degree ceremony is performed, one or more Steward(s) may be required to assist the two Deacons is conducting the candidates around the temple.
  • Stewards have a traditional role in many jurisdictions of serving wine during any meal served after the lodge meeting.

Some jurisdictions specify that each lodge has two Stewards, known as the ‘Senior Steward’ and ‘Junior Steward’. Other jurisdictions put no limit on the number of Stewards who may be appointed, and in this respect the office is unique. The Worshipful Master may appoint any number of Stewards, according to the size and requirements of his lodge.

Although newer members usually fill the office of Steward, in some lodges it is traditional for a Past Master to be appointed to supervise the work of the Stewards.

ret_g10_img_1168_ohny.jpg by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for the depth and exhausting detail in this series of posts on the Masonic Lodge of NY, and I realize that I’ve gone off in wild tangents, years of reading obscure texts and gathering of information on my part- research if you would- has pointed out that you cannot understand the Masons unless you understand the world that created them.

Modernity has simplified and streamlined the sophisticated political and philosophical tumult which spawned the “Brotherhoods”. The powers that be, in media and government and university, offer pat historical narratives portraying the past as some logical progression of events that ultimately, inevitability, results in an America or a European Union or a Soviet Union. The beauty of organizations like the Masons, with their long history, is that they make a convenient tent pole for whatever crazy story they’re selling.

Political observation and bias time:

Institutional memory is a big issue for me. Our lack of it results in the sort of disastrous political culture now enjoyed by the United States. Want conspiracy? Chew some of the following Black Mayonnaise…

  • Senator Strom Thurmond fought to keep black people from attaining their Civil Rights with a 24 hour fillibuster and also ran for President on a Segregation ticket in 1948. Strom died in office, in 2003. Lifelong Mason, Strom was.
  • Senator Arlen Specter is the author of the single bullet theory found in the Warren Commission report on the Assassination of President Kennedy, and has been a Senator since 1981. In April of 2006, Time magazine named him one of America’s 10 best Senators. He was recently the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as a Republican, and is now switching parties. Here’s somebody else’s take on Arlen.
  • Ted Kennedy was driving drunk one night, and drove his car off a bridge, which drowned his date. This derailed his ambitions for the Presidency, but after a long service in the Senate, he died in office- like Strom Thurmond. His funeral was attended by one sitting President, 3 former Presidents, one sitting V.P. and three former ones, 58 sitting Senators and 21 former electors, a sizeable portion of the House of Representatives, and a host of foreign dignitaries. Here’s somebody else’s take on Ted.
  • Donald Rumsfeld and later Dick Cheney oversaw the disastrous retreat of military units from Viet Nam as key players in the Ford administration.
  • Gerald Ford of course, served as part of the Warren Commission, was a prominent Mason, and was almost killed by a member of another influential (and still very much alive and well) Magickal Society. He had to choose a Vice President, and the field narrowed to George H.W. Bush or David Rockefeller.
  • Richard Nixon signed the Clean Water act, part of the raft of legislation that created the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is currently considering the Newtown Creek for inclusion in it’s clean up efforts. Nixon wasn’t a Mason.

 

I mention the above info just to point out that here in the “real world”, we have to remember that monsters stand in the light of day, and are not some shadowy cabal. The Masons who conducted the tours at their Grand Lodge seemed to be nice guys.

The Trusts, and the Banks, and the Railroads, the Oil men, and the Factory Owners, and the politicians- these are the faces in a traditional rogue’s gallery of American Villiany.

That’s it, I’m done, and will head down into the bunker now.

Masonic Lodge offices, from wikipedia

Tyler

The ‘Tyler’ is sometimes known as the ‘Outer Guard’ of the lodge. His duty is to guard the door (from the outside), with a drawn sword, and ensure that only those who are duly qualified manage to gain entry into the lodge meeting. In some jurisdictions, he also prepares candidates for their admission. The Tyler is traditionally responsible for preparing the lodge room before the meeting, and for storing and maintaining the regalia after the meeting,

In some Jurisdictions the Tyler is a Past Master of the Lodge while in others he may be an employed brother from another lodge.


Written by Mitch Waxman

October 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm

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