Sunday, July 20, 2014

In Defense of African Religious Traditions: Brazil, Haiti, & USA

Religious intolerance is something that we all have an awareness of these days. Between the Islamic fanatics in the Mid-East and Africa, to our own homegrown Evangelical Fanatics in Texas (and too often in political office), we've seen the worst that can result from an excess of narrow-minded devotion to an over-testosterone driven deity.

We notice plenty of outcry against religious intolerance, at least when its directed at a mainstream religion, and in the US, that means only one thing - Protestant Christianity.

Mind you, I have nothing really against Protestant Christianity, well, almost nothing. I hate religious proselytization of any kind, regardless of the questionable claim that your god wants you to spread the "good" word, it's just plain tacky. Like the recent FB meme put it, which compared religion to a specific part of the male anatomy, "it's fine if you have one, just don't pull it out and wave it in my face."

What absolutely nobody seems to object to, is disrespecting religions of African origin. It seems that after they floated the idea that America had become post-racial, it started taking on water almost immediately, and sunk while nobody was looking. Unfortunately, the USA, famous for being a nation of immigrants (except for latinos, please) isn't the only place where African derived faiths face a great deal of hostility.

A while back I posted about some hopeful steps forward that took place in Brazil, when Umbanda was declared an intangible cultural heritage by the City of São Paulo. Unfortunately, there tends to be more bad news than good, and lest any reader feel satisfied that the trouble is in Brazil, although I suspect some may secretly and not so secretly opine that oppression of African faiths is a good thing, there's plenty of it going on in the US, as well.

In spite of the hand of friendship the new Pope is extending, a newly appointed Cardinal in Haiti has recycled the old discourse that Vodou, the national religion of Haiti which is of African origin, is a bad thing for Haitians. It doesn't matter that he's black and Haitian, the mindset is of the worst sort, and unbecoming a supposed "man of god." At this stage of our evolution we should be able to recognize that all faiths lead to deity, because all deities are simply human attempts to apprehend the divine. Nobody's faith gets it better than anyone else's.

In Brazil, even as São Paulo declared Umbanda part of the city's cultural heritage, institutionalized bias elsewhere allowed that cultural heritage to take second fiddle to a sports complex.

And while construction workers destroyed historical sites to build a sports club, Evangelical Christians are egged on often by their pastors and on TV, to attack Umbanda and Candomblé temples. In more than one case, they have even murdered the priests. Of course, the church leadership always back peddles when that happens, and tries to claim that the individual was mentally ill.

Even in the US, African religions are constantly subjected to discrimination. For decades, police departments have systematically attempted to criminalize the practice of African derived faiths, and the fact that most practitioners are members of minorities, are poor, and in many cases speak English as a second language, makes them easy victims of institutionalized racism. The former New York City Mayor, Rudy Guliani, that bastion of privilege and obnoxiousness, even harassed Afro-Cuban drummers. 

As these religions continue to grow, society has to learn to behave with tolerance toward other religions. It's a well documented truth that if you are not tolerant toward others, you can expect none to be shown to yourself. 

One may wonder why such intolerance exists. Apart from the obvious answer that while Jesus didn't teach intolerance, most Christian institutions have over the last two millennia. It's easy to point to some of the practices within African faiths which make modern first world people uncomfortable. In the US, most people don't witness the preparation of the animal protein they consume, and they want it that way. Also, Christianity's God generally has become (although for some of its history this was not the case) a Dios Otioso - a distant god. Christianity has gradually intellectualized deity into an invisible one, whose presence exists only in metaphor. As Western society has generally moved away from direct contact with spiritual forces, it has generally become afraid of such experience, and as a result has tried, under the mantle of "science" (which despite being a methodology of research has become a catch word for materialism that has never lived up to its claims of objectivity) has attempted to variously criminalize, ridicule, and turn religious imminence into psychosis. Thomas Szasz summed up Western society's hostility to imminent religion succinctly when he said that "If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic."

Since African derived faiths deal with the direct interaction of the living with the realm of spirit, most commonly through spirit possession, modern Western materialist society is variously fascinated, appalled, and what is probably at the heart of Western society's hostility toward such faiths, envious.

In this day and age, we need to be working to insist on more tolerance for all, and that most certainly includes African derived faiths. They are after all, the inheritors of humanity's earliest engagement with spirituality.

Below you will find links to a number of articles dealing with these issues.

Ebony: Haiti doesn't have a Vodou problem, it has a Christianity problem!

Marchers in São Paulo protest Religious Descrimination

Evangelicals spread intolerance toward African Religions

Attacks on Afro-Brazilian Religious Practitioners, Temples!

The Temple that started Umbanda razed despite attempts to halt its demolition.

Eminent Domain used in Brazil to shut down Afro-Brazilian Temples, but not Christian Churches!

Candomblé Priestess and family members murdered by Evangelical

Fighting back against institutionalized racist public policy in USA

How Mayor Guliani targeted Afro-Cuban drummers

Friday, July 18, 2014

Masonic Book Fair

12th Annual Masonic Book Fair: Paris
15th and 16th of November 2014
Twelfth Masonic Book Fair

Organized by The Masonic Institute of France

will take place on 15 and 16 November 2014

Organized with the participation of Various Obediences.

9 rue Pinel

75013 Paris

Admission is free. Details of the program schedule will be available in October.

Regnas Redux: Still the Most Amazing Masonic Rings

A while back I did a post about The Regnas Collection, a fabulous business which produces truly unique Masonic (and other) jewelry. While I have no vested interest in the company, and as yet do not own any of their magnificent creations, I am still extremely enthusiastic about them. Their work is superb. They use precious and semi-precious stones, and one of the most remarkable aspects about them, what in fact sets them apart from virtually all other producers of Masonic jewelry, is that they are set up to enable individuals to order custom designed pieces.

The good gentlemen at Regnas have not slowed down one iota. They continue to do wonderful work and this post is nothing more nor nothing less than a blatantly self-indulging look at their site another time. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

Also, I sincerely hope that the next time I write about them, I will showcase the piece or pieces I have had them design for me, as sooner or later I will fold my cards and place an order. You should do the same. Such good work deserves support.

So, without delay, check out their wares. I have a link for their website as well as their facebook page. Both are worth the time, even if you only windowshop. Enjoy a real feast for the eyes. Also bear in mind that for what they do, they are really quite reasonably priced. Be certain to check out their automated custom ring page, which can walk you through the entire process of creating your own customized ring. It really is remarkable.

The Regnas Collection Web Site

Regnas Collection on Facebook

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Random Sampling of Some (Relatively) Recent Academic Articles on Freemasonry

For far too long, as far as scholarship was concerned, Freemasonry was left to its own devices. While this no doubt pleased some within Freemasonry for whom outside opinions were not welcome, it did Freemasonry a great disservice. Now and then, some farsighted academic would take an interest and write on the subject, but by and large academia considered it a subject not worth investigation.

The result of this neglect was that on the one hand, little objective research into the origins or the societal impact of Freemasonry existed of any professional calibre. On the other hand, it also allowed fable, myth, and too often, outright lies to take the place of knowledge. The truth of this can be seen that today, in that at least in Anglophone circles, what passes for scholarship, with a few worthy exceptions, remains the pseudo-scholarship of 19th century authors who were themselves Freemasons, and frequently invested in either establishing the status quo or maintaining it. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. 

Today, we are on the verge of a monumental change. In the past couple of decades, some adventurous scholars have begun to turn their eyes toward the fraternity, and it is now the subject of a small but growing scholarly study, which is itself beginning to take on the shape of a discipline. It is to be hoped that before long we will see stable departments where such scholarship is a serious academic focus. Keep on eye on UCLA, for one. 

There are great benefits in this for Freemasonry, but as with all growth, there will be some inevitable discomfort. For one, Freemasons will have to recognize that myth will no longer be acceptable as an alternative to documentable fact. At least a few treasured beliefs about the history of Freemasonry will be jettisoned, to be replaced by hard, modern research. While this may be extremely uncomfortable for some, it results in more light. I have always, at least after becoming a reasoning adult, responded to emotional resistance to better understanding of a subject by pointing out that shedding light on historical reality is a worthy, even necessary thing, and it does not decrease the value of what we cherish, if we can also analyze it soberly.

With that in mind, I want to open a small window onto this scholarship by highlighting some relatively recent academic articles which touch on the subject of Freemasonry. They are very diverse, and some represent micro examinations of one or another aspect of Freemasonry. They were specifically chosen, not to touch necessary on topics that would revolutionize our thought on Freemasonry, although some may do exactly that, but rather to demonstrate the diversity of subjects that are coming out of this new scrutiny of fraternal organizations, their role and impact on society, and society's impact upon them. They also do not include some of the larger names in this field of study, as I wanted to highlight some things that might have escaped general attention. This sampling is also miniscule. It doesn't even represent the tip of the iceberg. The idea is to incite some curiosity rather than to serve as a guide to a broad picture of what current scholarship is producing.

As always, there are likely to be a variety of reactions and responses to such attention. While some will doubtlessly react negatively, it should be remembered that such a response will not slow down a process which is by now well underway. I think it wiser, and certainly healthier, to embrace what we cannot resist and enjoy this remarkable moment in time. We will emerge on the other side with a far better understanding of our own traditions and practices, and a renewed appreciation for the impact Freemasonry has had upon the world. 

If you're not afraid to face the eye of the storm, and want some small insight into what is bound to reach our Masonic shores before long, read on.

"Making Degenerates into Men" by Doing Shots, Breaking Plates, and Embracing Brothers in Eighteenth-Century Freemasonry
Heather Morrison
Journal of Social History
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Fall 2012) (pp. 48-65)
Oxford University Press
This article explores the significance behind ritual celebrations depicted in the published drinking songs and toasts that emanated from a freemasonic lodge active in the early 1780s in Vienna. Bacchanalian overindulgence within the exclusive association aimed to create a fraternity that would act together to bring progress to Habsburg lands. Publication of their celebrations aimed to bring the same benefits to the rest of the western world. By excluding women, by acting like apes, by singing and chanting formulaic verses while ritually eating and drinking, men became part of a community and found a new identity. Drunken homosocial celebration provided the antidote to the constructed problem of a contemporary society still dominated by aristocratic women or religious institutions. Masons believed their lodge provided them freedom from societal constraints and a social transparency necessary to uncovering a more natural self. The tension inherent in the form of masculinity in the Viennese lodge's songs and toasts, whereby what may be termed the "high" and the "low" mixed, was the basis of freemasonry's appeal and effectiveness. Belly laughter and base behavior were by no means oppositional to a rational program of societal reform. Through these drinking songs and ritual practices, the association emphasized self-improvement and moral development. Publication of their celebrations aimed to bring the same benefits to the rest of the western world. In a time of transformation in social practices and hierarchies, freemasonry taught brothers how to behave as men amongst fellow men and with women. The idealistic intellectual and bacchanalian sociable masculinities combined to allow members to articulate new measures of social worth.

The Bygmester, His Geamatron, and the Triumphs of the Craftygild: "Finnegans Wake" and the Art of Freemasonry
Laura Peterson
James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, Finnegans Wake Issue (Summer, 1990), pp. 777-792
Published by: University of Tulsa

One of the most curious of the many claims made by some Masons about their Craft is that it, like the Hebrew Kabbalah to which it is united, harks back in human history to the creation of the world and the Garden of Eden (as does Finnegans Wake). Also like the Wake, Freemasonry is a compendium of personalities, history, religion, and lore, based on certain unifying principles more easily discernible than those of Joyce's last novel, but irrevocably allied to many of those same principles. Like the Wake, Masonry is cosmic; both the book's and Masonry's inner secrets are known only to persistent initiates. However, there is enough exoteric Masonic material readily available to allow the uninitiated inquirer to trace Joyce's journey through it.

Jayhawker Fraternities: Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s
Kristofer Allerfeldt
Journal of American Studies, Vol. 46, No. 4 (November 2012), pp. 1035-1053
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Association for American Studies

In the 1920s, like most of the rest of the nation Kansas found itself the target of the attentions of the KKK. One of its main ways of recruiting was via existing fraternities. Using new archival material this article investigates the response of one of the leading fraternities of the times — the Masons. What emerges is a picture of mixed responses — ranging from mutual hostility to active Klan recruitment within Masonic lodges. In many ways Kansas can be seen as a microcosm of the nation, and as such this study can add to our understanding of what drove up to 10 million American men and women to join this mysterious and now hated body.

"That Grand Primeval and Fundamental Religion": The Transformation of Freemasonry into a British Imperial Cult
Vahid Fozdar
Journal of World History, Vol. 22, No. 3 (September 2011), pp. 493-525
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

In light of recent research on the role of Protestant Christianity in the British Empire, this article explores the possibility that the British actually carried to India a "religion" besides Protestantism, something that mimicked a religion so closely that it could virtually serve as an alternative to Christianity for purposes of imperial consolidation— namely, Freemasonry. The article posits that British Freemasonry, although it emerged from a Christian environment, progressively de-Christianized itself in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and increasingly espoused a religious universalism, which in turn allowed it to serve as an institutionalized, quasi-official, and de facto "civil religion" for the British Empire in India.

John Marrant and the Meaning of Early Black Freemasonry
Peter P. Hinks
Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 64, No. 1, Free to Enslave: Politics
and the Escalation of Britain's Translantic (Jan., 2007), pp. 105-116

ON June 24, 1789, at the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, one of the most important days in the Masonic calendar, the Reverend John Marrant, chaplain of Boston's African Lodge no. 459 of Freemasons, delivered a momentous sermon at Mr. Vinal's school in the South End before an audience of black and white Masons as well as non-Masons. Marrant's oration occupies a preeminent place in the history of Freemasonry among African Americans. It was the first printed formal address before the first African Lodge and among the first printed works by an African American in the late eighteenth century.
Marrant's oration broached racial prejudice and slavery in America and condemned them as the antithesis of the fellowship and benevolence Freemasons cherished. More significantly, the sermon identified and extolled the meaningfulness of the African Lodge's founding and the relationship it bore to the deepest virtues and origins of not only Freemasonry but also Christianity as well-virtues and origins that Marrant would clarify in novel contexts.

A Blog of Interest: The Masonic Times of Africa

The Blog of the Masonic Times of Africa describes itself as providing "Masonic news, events and other interesting things from across Africa's Masonic Grand Jurisdictions." They note that they have an "official" Facebook page.

The site reports on Grand Lodges from the following countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville (République   du Congo), Congo Kinshasa (République démocratique du Congo), Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissa, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, and Togo.

While none of the posts are extensive, they provide what is admittedly often rare information on Masonic activities in Africa.

They appear to have fairly diverse subjects, as many Grand Lodges are affiliated with the GLNF while admittedly fewer have UGLE affiliations. They also appear to have contacts with the Masonic Press Agency of Romania, The Masonic Times, and the Masonic Times of India.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Archeometer & Alexandre Saint-Yves

Alexandre Saint-Yves, Marquis of Alveydre (1842 – 1909) was a French occultist. His ideas were adapted by Papus. He developed the term Synarchy—the association of everyone with everyone else—into a political philosophy. His Hermetic Metaphysics associated everything with everything else.

Saint-Yves used the term Synarchy in his book La France vraie as a political response to the emergence of anarchist ideologies and movements; Synarchy, as opposed to anarchy.  Saint-Yves hoped for a European society whose government would be composed of three councils, representing the economic, the judicial, and the scientific; a metaphysical chamber bound the whole structure together. These ideas were also influenced by works such as Plato's The Republic and Martinism.

Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, gave an important role to esoteric societies which are composed of oracles and who safeguarded the government from behind the scenes. He was involved with a number of Freemasonic and other groups who claimed descent from the Knights Templars.

After Saint-Yves's death, portions of the writings he left behind were compiled into a volume entitled l'Archéomètre. The title was taken from Saint-Yves's name for a color-coded diagram he developed, showing symbolic correspondences between elements in astrology, music, alphabets, gematria, and other things. This book has been translated into Spanish, and was translated into English for the first time in 2007

Saint-Yves's main disciple was the prominent occultist Papus who established a number of societies based on Synarchist ideas. Other followers included Victor Blanchard, Nizier Anthelme Philippe, René A. Schwaller de Lubicz and Emile Dantinne. Saint-Yves' works were also utilized in the development of Theosophy and Rudolf Steiner felt Synarchy to be a major influence.

Joscelyn Godwin is best able to offer some perspective on this massive effort:

"When one opens the heavy folio volume entitled The Archeometer: Key to All the Religions and All Sciences of Antiquity; Synthetic Reformation of All Contemporary Arts, something tells one that it may not quite live up to its ambitions. Unfortunately the work of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre which bears this resounding title is not even the work of his own hand: it is a collection made by Papus (Gérard Encausse) and other “Friends of Saint-Yves” of some fragments from the universal synthesis that the great esotericist was putting in order when death interrupted him in 1909. Although it would be churlish to underrate the devotion of this group, and particularly that of its leaders, Papus and Dr. Auguste-Edouard Chauvet, it must be said that they were worried, up to the last minute, about the principles and the coherence of their compilation. Thanks to the patronage of Count and Countess Keller, Saint-Yves’ son- and daughter-in-law and his heirs, for the elegant edition of L’Archéomètre, with its many illustrations and colored plates.

Nevertheless, the serious scholar will know to refer to another explanation of the system, also called L’Archéomètre, published between 1910 and 1912 in twelve numbers of the short-lived review La Gnose: the periodical that also carried the astonishing articles of the 21-year-old René Guénon. The articles on the Archeometer are signed “T,” the pen-name of the journal’s editor, Alexandre Thomas (also known as “Marnes”). They are thought to be based on information furnished by F.-Ch. Barlet (= Albert Faucheux), another friend of Saint-Yves who had evidently parted company from the official “Friends.” Guénon supplied some very erudite notes, mostly on the Hindu tradition. But all in all, one is at a loss to find any indications of the original source of this imposing and ambitious scheme. Should one regard it as traditional doctrine, as independent revelation, as pure fantasy, or as an inextricable mixture of all these?

For Papus, the work of the man he acknowledged as his “intellectual master” went, like much else, without criticism or question. 

Here we are concerned solely with the enigmatic figure of the Marquis himself, and in the circumstances which led him to construct so profound and so personal a system. There was a time when one might accept some individual’s system as an infallible dogma; but we have seen too many of them! All the same, the Archeometer remains a true summation of the intellectual and esoteric currents of the nineteenth century, just as Saint-Yves himself—more than Papus, Stanislaus de Guaita, or Péladan—is the archetypal “universal man” of the Symbolist (and “decadent”) period. He is the supreme Hermeticist of his epoch.

There is fortunately a third primary source for archeometric studies: Saint-Yves’ own manuscripts, willed by Papus (died 1916) to some public library, and eventually deposited by his son, Dr. Philippe Encausse, in the Sorbonne Library in 1938, as part of the enormous “Papus Bequest” (including several hundred books, many of them from Saint-Yves’ own collection). Our interest here is not in the heap of papers concerning the posthumous edition of L’Archéomètre, but rather in the scruffy school notebooks in which Saint-Yves recorded and worked out his systems, philosophy, schemata, and visions. Sometimes written in a fine, flowery hand, sometimes in a scarcely legible scrawl, these notebooks reveal a part, at least, of the events that preceded the elaboration of the Archeometer as it is found in the printed sources.

The life and work of Saint-Yves have not yet been described adequately in English, which is a pity since he is often mentioned superficially. The reader of French needs only to be referred to Jean Saunier’s indispensable book. We meet him in 1885, aged 43: the author of a mystical book on Life, Death, and the Sexes (Clefs de l’Orient), a huge historical study ( des Juifs), and a few other books on politics and poetry. He was living in a fine house near the Etoile with his aristocratic wife Marie-Victoire (born de Riznitch), his senior by fourteen years; dreaming up developments of his theory of ideal government which he called Synarchy; and beginning to study Sanskrit. At this point, the Archeometer did not exist. We will follow its progress through a series of six “revelations”—for that is how they seemed to Saint-Yves, whether given by more or less mysterious Orientals, by the soul of his wife (who died in 1895), or in response to his prayers and meditations. They are:

1. The Vattanian Alphabet (1885)
2. The Aum (1885-86)
3. The cosmic correspondences of Vattan (1885-86)
4. The Definition of Life (1896)
5. The table entitled “The Heavens declare” (1897)
6. The Triangle of Jesus (1898)"

I will not deign to offer an opinion on this work other than to say that it is as mind boggling as it is fascinating. As Joscelyn Godwin states best, it is "something tells one that it may not quite live up to its ambitions" and it appears "in a form more fit for admiration than for comprehension."

Still, as I said, it is fascinating, and I cannot fail to share it. Take from it what you will. I know that I will give it all my best shot.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Umbanda and Freemasonry

Over the years I have been aware of interest in Freemasonry among followers of various Afro-diasporic religious traditions. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Of course, readers of the Hedge Mason have been given glimpses of this before, from occasional posts touching on the connections between Haitian Vodou and Freemasonry, and the interchange between Afro-Cuban faiths and Freemasonry.

For a number of years now, I have had contact with some Freemasons who, albeit cautiously, acknowledged that they are practicing Umbandistas. Those admissions, while pleasing me, did not surprise me. Umbanda is a didactic and diverse tradition, open to truth where ever it may be found. I have no doubt that Umbandistas explored Freemasonry from the earliest days of the 20th Century when Umbanda first evolved from earlier Afro-Brazilian religions, most notably Macumba. Understanding the politics of religion within Freemasonry, it's claims to disinterest concerning the details of its members religious affiliations not withstanding, I also understand how some might wish to be private concerning their religious practice. There remain significant segments of the population in Brazil and elsewhere that hold culturally and racially motivated biases against African derived traditions, and I've no doubt that among them are some Freemasons with power within the traditional Obediences.

Umbanda, it should be noted for readers not familiar with this religion, is not really a single religion. Umbanda is the name of the religion generally, but it is in fact an Umbrella designation for a wide variety of distinct sects or denominations, many of which have quite distinct beliefs and practices, while sharing enough similarities to warrant the use of a general identification as Umbanda. This is much like the diverse denominations found generally among those who call themselves Christians. In fact, Umbandistas, while North American Christians may find it confusing, widely consider themselves Christian as well. This is common in all Afro-diasporic religions, with the exception of the segments which, motivated by cultural and political ideologies, seek to eliminate Christian symbolism in their practice. They are, objectively speaking and with no intent at disparaging their motives, the exception which proves the rule for the majority.

Umbanda, like other Afro-diasporic religions believe in a direct contact with the spirit realms and this includes possession of trained mediums or priests and priestesses by helping spirits. Fairly universally, the different forms of Umbanda have been influenced by Kardecist Spiritism, although to different degrees. Some more recent forms of Umbanda have been heavily influenced by various types of Western Esotericism, including Alexandre Saint Yves d'Alveydre's Archeometry, which had a profound influence on Papus, and hence many esoteric Freemasons.

While most Umbandistas who are Freemasons are reserved in associating their practice of religion with their practice of Freemasonry, at least some are more open about it. The following demonstrates this:

On Thursday, June 16, 2011, A notice was posted of the installation of Loja Maçônica Mista Triângulo da Fraternidade (The Mixed Masonic Lodge of the Triangle of Fraternity), as follows:

Dear Planetary Brothers,
It is with great joy that we announce the occurrence of the inaugural session of Loja Maçônica Mista Triângulo da Fraternidade.

We share the link with photos of the preparations:

A triple and fraternal embrace,

Norberto Peixoto:.
An eternal apprentice of the Royal Art

The Venerable Master of the new lodge provided the following by way of explanation:

TRUTH above all, based on JUSTICE and supported by LOVE.

Mixed Masonry is universal, whose members - men and women - cultivate the study of the spiritualization of the individual, philanthropy, social justice, humanity, unselfishness and the universal principles of freedom, democracy and equality, and fraternity intellectual training.

We recall that the bygone days of the first freemasons, the places where Masons met were originally in churches, regardless of which religion was the temple, preserving untouched the rights of each individual to practice the religion or belief of their choice, keeping equidistant from the different sects or creeds. The essence of Masonic philosophy teaches everyone to respect and tolerate the various religions of its members.

One of the pillars of Masonry is neutrality as to religion and politics. In Masonic temples around the world - in male obediences, female and mixed, we can find people from different religions, political ideologies, races - although there are controversies regarding sex in some quarters. How can they coexist so peacefully? Simple: it is forbidden to discuss these issues in lodge.

A Masonic Lodge can take place anywhere - as they did early on in English taverns - and this basic precept still applies today. I say this because the  Loja Maçônica Mista Triângulo da Fraternidade works in facilities designed to assist the Umbanda Temple Choupana Caboclo Pery - but does not deviate one iota from this principle of neutrality. There will be a not a Mixed Masonic Lodge  of Umbanda but a Masonic Lodge working jointly in an Umbanda temple.

All are welcome: Umbandistas, Catholics, Evangelicals, Protestants, Africanists, Taoists, Shintoists, shamans, etc. Inclusion, convergence and mutual identification unite us. We came to build.

For more information, 

A triple and fraternal embrace,

Ir:. Milton.

V:. M:. Masonic Joint Triangle Fraternity

I have not personally had any contact with this lodge, but share the information to help inform Freemasons in other parts of the world of the wonderful diversity within Freemasonry, especially in the Americas.