Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wilmshurst Revisted: Two Overlooked Republished Classics

A few years back there was an intensified interest in enlightened material within mainstream United States Freemasonry. As a result, a number of worthwhile blogs and even podcasts were developed and had a couple of years of life before sputtering. Some are still around, but despite some flag waving, we aren't seeing the numbers reversing.

This is a shame, because even though I believe that the alternatives to UGLE derived Freemasonry have the potential of reinvigorating Freemasonry, I also think that despite its misunderstanding of Anderson's intentions, its refusal to admit women, and its deplorable performance vis a vis integration, UGLE derived Freemasonry retains traditions and knowledge worthy of praise.  I also would gladly see it revive itself and become vibrant and relevant in this century. If any approach to its rituals could help in achieving that goal, I think that reflected in the writings of William Leslie Wilmshurst can lay claim to being such.

One of the authors of the first half of the 20th century who most deserves a second chance, in my opinion, and in the opinion of others, including Dr. Robert Lomas, is Walter Leslie Wilmshurst. Wilmshurst wrote about a dozen works, some were short essays while others were somewhat longer.  As with any author, some are better than others. His critique of some aspects of Freemasonry reflected his own biases, but his works of the spiritual aspects of Masonic practice deserve a place in all Freemason's library.

A few years ago, Plumbstone reissued two of his most important works in revised and annotated versions, including extensive notes clarifying his points and theories which might not be easily understood by most British and American Freemasons. These books include his "The Meaning of Masonry," and "The Masonic Initiation."

A good sampling of several of Wilmshurst's texts may be viewed on Lomas' Website.

Walter Leslie Wilmshurst (22 June 1867 – 10 July 1939) was born in Chichester, West Sussex, England.  He was initiated as a Mason in the Huddersfield lodge in 1889, having moved to the town to become a solicitor, for a time becoming president of the Huddersfield Law Society. He died in Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, England. He was the founding master of the Lodge of Living Stones in 1927, and served as W.M in that lodge in 1928-1930 and 1937-1938. The Lodge of Living Stones was formed in 1927 in Leeds, Yorkshire, to promote a deeper interpretation of the system of Freemasonry than is usually to be found in the English Constitution.

It still meets on a monthly basis in Leeds to discuss and promote these same ideas and to help the development of any brother Mason who finds its principles resonate with his own internal "tuning fork."

According to their website, there are currently twenty-four full members of the Lodge and thirty Associate members.

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