Thursday, June 28, 2012

Conference on Second Sight and Prophecy in Aberdeen

Call for Papers - with apologies for cross posting

'Second Sight and Prophecy'
University of Aberdeen on 14-16 June 2013

Conference organised by the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, and the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen; sponsored by the Folklore Society

This interdisciplinary conference welcomes participants from a range of academic disciplines including History, Folklore, Anthropology, Divinity and Sociology whose research interests cover a wide range of topics exploring varying methods used by different cultures (both now and in the past) to look into the future and the rationale for so doing. The future has always held a fascination for humankind especially in times of tribulation and this is worthy of academic discussion in light of the changes affecting so many of us in our current global context. The role in culture of seers and prophets, by whatever name they are known, and the use of rituals, drugs and sacred sites, etc. will be examined.

Abstracts of 300 words are invited on any of the following or related topics. These should be submitted by 15 November 2012 to the conference convenor, Dr Alex Sutherland, History Department, University of Aberdeen;               

Papers might address:
Astrology and its rationale(s) for predicting the future.
Biblical prophecy as depicted in the arts.
Divination in any form.
English attitudes to second sight.
Healing wells.
How modern scientists have appropriated the persona of the prophet or visionary seer.
Landscape and prophecy in art.
Old Norse and later Scandinavian sources on prophecy.
Popular Catholic belief in prophecy before and after the Reformation.
Prophecy in Native American tribes.
Prophetic utterances by the courts, commoners, and the church.
Reading the future in the landscape of settlements.
Renaissance science and astrology.
Sami shamanism.
Second sight and prophecy in Scottish Gaeldom.
Second sight and prophecy in the Viking world.
Second sight in Gaelic traditions as they survived and evolved in Nova Scotian communities.
Seers and seeresses in medieval Icelandic saga literature.
The early Islamic world & its connections with astrology.
The role of prophecies, visions and dreams in poetry and allegorical tales.
The role of prophecy in the origins of Islam, in the pre-Islamic Arabian environment
The use of sites, dreams and ancestors for prophecies by indigenous peoples.
Visual and verbal imagery of natural objects as coded language for the use of entheogens to attain divine / prophetic knowledge.
Welsh prophetic poetry.
When prophecy fails.

Dr Alex Sutherland
School of Divinity, History and Philosophy
History Department
Crombie Annexe
Meston Walk
Aberdeen AB24 3FX
Tel: 01224 273051

The University of Aberdeen is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC013683.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A New Book from Spain

A new Release from Libros Masonería Insular

The Art of Working in Lodge ~ El Arte de Trabajar en Logia

Using balanced communion between the material and the spiritual we will be transported to another time, another place. Through a clear and concise account of a remarkable way, we will be introduced to the true spirit that should prevail in  good Masonic work, capable of creating strong ties among members forging the chain that binds them together while moving in building the temple of humanity.

Title: El Arte de Trabajar en Logia
Author: Francis Frankeski
Translator: Pedro-José Vila Santos
Publisher: Fundación María Deraismes
ISBN: 978-84-938107-8-8
Libros Masonería Insular

Usan comunión equilibrada entre lo material y lo espiritual que consigue trasladarnos a otro tiempo, en otro lugar. A través de un relato claro y concreto, de una manera notable, va introduciéndonos en el verdadero espíritu que debe presidir un buen trabajo masónico, capaz de crear entre sus miembros sólidos lazos de unión y forjando la cadena que los une a la vez que avanzan en la construcción del templo de la humanidad.

Titulo: El Arte de Trabajar en Logia
Autor: Francis Frankeski
Traductor: Pedro-José Vila Santos
Editorial: Fundación María Deraismes
ISBN: 978-84-938107-8-8
Libros Masonería Insular

The Sublime Council of the Modern Rite for Ecuador - SCRME

The Sublime Council of the Modern Rite for Ecuador is the only independent philosophical potency to practice the Five Orders of Wisdom in the territory of the Republic of Ecuador. It responds to the needs in those Orients desiring to work all the Degrees of the Modern or French Rite as an uninterrupted and faithful lineage both of historical rituals of the Grand Chapter General of France, 1784, as well as of the universal values and principles inherent in this rite, with a patent under the UMURM headed by the Supreme Commander of the Supreme Council of the Modern Rite of Brazil, the only Philosophical Potency to have maintained the original integrity of the Modern or French Rite 1784 and to have transmitted that rite unchanged to successive generations.

Ecuadorian Masonry, very hospitable and open, has been quite active in recent years with various Masonic Lodges and bodies opening new lodges, both plural and diverse, offering a variety of perspectives of Freemasonry suitable for all kinds of sensitivities and understandings of the Royal Art.

Unfortunately, the Modern or French Rite was insufficiently present, and this was due and not only the expansion of other numerically dominant ritual forms, but also by the lack of Legitimate independent bodies that could support the entire range of Initiatory Degrees in the Modern or French Rite.

True to their spirit of freedom, many brothers and sisters, eager to deepen their knowledge of the Modern Rite, did not hesitate to join efforts to learn more, share and implement the Masonic and fraternal interaction that is only achievable through exchange visits and adopting an open but critical mind. So finally, today the presence of the Modern French Rite is a reality in Ecuador.

In keeping with the true practice of liberty and fraternity, the SCRM for Ecuador is defined as transnational despite being the guarantor of the regularity of the practice of all the Orders of Wisdom for the Republic of Ecuador and housed historic in the city of Quito, opening its doors to Brothers or Sisters regularly received in corresponding degree, while also extending its work to other areas outside their national territory.

This free practice, respectful of tradition, but in turn responsible and modern with its eyes on the future, represents a breath of fresh air in the international scene of the Modern Rite.

Thanks to Joaquim Villalta and John Slifko

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Freemasonry and Higher Education

Liberal Arts Lodge, LA California
The contemporary  interaction between Freemasonry and Higher Education is bearing fruit.

Unlike today, it was once evident to others in society that Freemasonry had something to contribute to Civil Society. Mainstream Freemasonry may still hold onto that assumption, but whether it be correct or not, convincing modern society to share that belief becomes every day more difficult.  Is there any truth to our assumption?

As the writer of this blog, it is safe to make some assumptions concerning my view. Looking back in time, one clear piece of evidence that Freemasonry was considered valuable are the number of legacy lodges with names such as University Lodge.

University of Pennsylvania Regalia
Until at least the last half of the 20th Century, many universities, including the Ivy Leagues, had active lodges, not merely in their neighborhoods or near their campuses, but quite often on them, and made up almost entirely of current students and alumni. A very few of these have survived, such as Liberal Arts Lodge in Los Angeles ( ). Others remain as vestiges of their former selves, having been folded into other lodges through merger or even multiple mergers as the presence of Freemasonry has diminished over the years. An example of such a lodge was University Lodge formerly associated with my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. By the time I attended Penn, I doubt anyone on campus had heard of University Lodge, and it was no longer meeting on campus.  I note that Rutgers University in New Jersey has a Masonic Alumni Association, which is apparently still active and even has an online presence (

In Europe, at least in England and Scotland, Masonic Lodges may be found on a number of University Campuses, and generally Masonic efforts at outreach to university students there is less half-hearted than it is in the US.

However, there is another way in which Freemasonry is associated with Higher Education and in this case, it is beginning to advance rather than retreat.  I am referring to Freemasonry as the subject of academic study.

When academics look at Freemasonry as an institution, and at its history, what passes for historic fact among some segments of both regular and liberal  may not stand up to their objective scrutiny.  "Regular" Masonic definitions of what constitutes Freemasonry will only be viewed as applying to "Regular" Masonry, and that will not be privileged over other forms of Freemasonry and vise versa. That is the objectivity of academia.  Such views will inevitably impact the discussion and the literature on Freemasonry, and ultimately, however uncomfortable such "revelations" may be to some, they will aid in creating a more accurate and complete understanding of the institution.

What will be gained by the growth of academic scrutiny will be a more accurate understanding of the factual history of the Craft, and greater serious attention to its role, both historic and contemporary, in the development of civil society and social institutions.  It is important to emphasize that this academic interest and scrutiny is already happening.

There are a number of Academic programs already in place or in development that deal either solely with Freemasonry or place it in the context of larger social or philosophical systems. Some of these will be noted here.

One of the earliest was The Center for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield, which launched back in 2000.  While this program was lamentably suspended in 2010, the work begun in this program continues elsewhere.

One such place is at UCLA in the United States. UCLA under the excellent guidance of Dr. Margarite Jacobs, is providing a home for the study of Freemasonry in Civil Socirty and the opportunity for doctoral candidates to produce and offer courses related to this research ( ).  Further, the Roosevelt Center, also in Los Angeles, and in close communication with UCLA, is developing avenues for further research and is soon to include publishing among its concerns ( ,

Under the umbrella of another advancing field in academic study, the School of Humanities at the University of Exeter, in England, offers a  MPhil/PhD Western Esotericism and  MA in Western Esotericism, under the auspices of their Exeter Center for the Study of Esotericism (EXESECO) (  For those unfamiliar with the structure of such disciplines, the following text taken from the Exeter Center's site should make it clear that such programs are not devoted to the practice of esotericism, although students may or may not persue such concerns personally, but rather are committed to examining the development and distribution of such systems in human society and their impact upon everything from religion, popular culture and politics.

The purpose of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) is to foster advanced research into historical and comparative aspects of the esoteric traditions from the Hellenistic period in late antiquity through the Renaissance and early modern period to the present. Staff members in the departments of History (with interests in religion, culture, science and medicine), Sociology and Philosophy, Theology, Classics and Ancient History, and the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, collaborate in seminars, research and publications. Literary and philosophical traditions are also examined by colleagues in the Schools of English and Modern Languages (departments of French, German, Italian, Hispanic Studies, and Russian).
Postgraduate and postdoctoral members of EXESESO will be able to pursue research projects with the support of the Centre's panel of distinguished scholars across a number of departments and disciplines.
There are three main objectives:
to document and analyse new subjects (figures, groups and movements) in the history of esotericism, thereby making an original contribution to scholarly knowledge.
to gain insight into the social, religious and philosophical changes, which are conducive to esotericism and to assess its influence on culture, politics and society.
to develop an understanding of the fundamental characteristics which define esoteric spirituality, which often manifests as a form of religious experience, while offering a perspective upon the individual soul in the context of nature and the universe.  (

Not to be outdone, such endeavors are not occurring only in Anglophone institutions of Higher Learning. The Spanish University UNED, through its Department of History of Law and Institutions, provides the following information about its programs:

Master in History of Freemasonry in Spain (60 credits)
Specialist College in History of Fraternal Philanthropic Orders, Corporations, Schools and Societies (40 credits)
University Expert in the History of Freemasonry in Spain and Latin America (25 credits)

This program provides a grant of 20% over the official price of tuition to all students enrolled during the academic year 2012-2013.

This modular program provides a rigorous and methodical knowledge of the history of Masonic associations in its various forms, orders, corporations, academies and scientific societies, cultural, philanthropic, fraternal, charitable, philosophical and developments. Particular reference is made to fraternal and philanthropic movements and utopian thought and modern and contemporary perennialism,  studying its culture, both spiritual and ideological.

Gracias a Victor Guerra / Thanks to John Slifko.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saint John the Baptist found?

A small handful of bones found in an ancient church in Bulgaria may belong to John the Baptist, the biblical figure said to have baptized Jesus.
The Festivals of the Saints John, including John the Baptist, were widely celebrated by Freemasons in centuries past.  Traditionally, June 24th, the SUmmer Solstice is associated with John the Baptist. It is considered a day of obligation for Masons. 
The bones were found in 2010 by Romanian archaeologists Kazimir Popkonstantinov and Rossina Kostova while excavating an oldchurch site on the island of Sveti Ivan, which translates to St. John. The church was constructed in two periods in the fifth and sixth centuries.
Beneath the altar, the archaeologists found a small marble sarcophagus, about 6 inches long. Inside were six human bones and three animal bones. The next day, the researchers found a second box just 20 inches away. This one was made of volcanic rock called tuff. On it, an inscription read, "Dear Lord, please help your servant Thomas" along with St. John the Baptist's name and official church feast day. 
The relic of St. John the Baptist
None of this proves that the bones belonged to a historical figure named John the Baptist, but researchers haven't been able to rule out the possibility, Higham said. Their study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but a program detailing the research will be aired on the United Kingdom National Geographic Channel on Sunday. National Geographic funded the research.

To read more about this possible find visit the link below:

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Illustrious Role of Haiti in the Freemasonry of the Western Hemisphere

In many ways, the geographical cradle of our history of initiation, the foundations of some of the most important aspects of Freemasonry in the New World is Haiti. 

Without question, some of the most important moments in the development of American Freemasonry, (US citizens please note: America is a continent and not a nation) began in Haiti. With that in mind, it is shameful that there has not been a greater response among US Freemasons to the recent natural disasters that have befallen our island neighbors. Masons should be more active in forming a chain of union for Haiti and its people.

Haiti, the Caribbean country so recently devastated by a terrible earthquake has a long history of unattained possibilities and all too material misfortune. It was the scene of important historical events and developments decisive in the evolution of Masonic initiation including  being the original site for the introduction of Ecossaisme, the Elus Cohen and Primitive Martinism to the Western Hemisphere.
On December 5, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island which he named Hispaniola. The western portion of this island was in 1697, ceded to the French who named the island with the name of Saint Domingue.

In the eighteenth century, Saint Domingue was the most successful French colony due to the export of sugar, cocoa and coffee. The region seemed to evolve with the impetus of new ideas and swiftly took the intellectual and Freemasonic movements further than did those of France.

The desire for freedom flourished in the hearts of the enslaved, and in 1794, Haiti was declared a nation and became the first country to abolish slavery. The Haitians had to struggle until 1804 to assure independence. The Haitian Declaration of Independence was a far more radical and true attempt at freedom than was that of the United States, as it guaranteed freedom to all men and women regardless of color or ethnicity and it totally abolished slavery. The US granted voting rights regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude to its citizens 66 years after Haiti did and suffrage to women 116 years after Haiti. Without exception, all people on Haitian soil were free. For that, Haiti was a made a pariah state and has suffered until today, to all of our shame.

The Masonic Personalities of the 18th Century in Saint Domingue

Estienne Morin

A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an "Ecossais" lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Francais, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a Patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him "Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World." This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or "Ecossais", degree lodges. Later attempts to disparage the validity of this Patent calimed, without material evidence that it appeared to have been embellished by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies.  The political equivocations of the Bordeaux Lodge provide little to support such claims.

Early writers long believed that a "Rite of Perfection" consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the "Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret", and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself "The Council of Emperors of the East and West". The title "Rite of Perfection" first appeared in the Preface to the "Grand Constitutions of 1786. It is often argued that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is therefore more properly titled "The Rite of the Royal Secret", or "Morin's Rite". Whether that is to bolster the claims of legitimacy for Charlston is unclear. Regardless, in the person of Morin, Haiti's central role in the advancement of Higher Degree Masonry in the Americas is unquestionable.

Morin again returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue, where, armed with a new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766 when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a "Grand Chapter" of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston.  On July 21, 1802 the Supreme Council of the French West Indies in Haiti was formed out of the older 1836 Supreme Council of Saint Domingue.

The Caribbean History of Martinez Pasqually

More or less the same time, Jacques de Livron Joachim de la Tour de la Casa Martinez de Pasqually also a Mason from the French city of Grenoble, inherited a property in Saint Domingue and traveled to the place which was within the modern territory of Haiti. He had plans to establish the Chevaliers de l'Ordre de Masons Elus Coens (Order of the Knights Elect Priests of the Universe) which he had previously founded in France. There are still echoes of this Order in the Americas, but despite romantic claims to the contrary, they all appear to derive from the late 19th and early 20th Century based upon the romantic reinventions of Gérard Encausse (Papus) and Robert Ambelain.

Martinez's father Pasqually,  was said to have been issued a patent by King Charles Stuart granting him the title of Grand Master and authorizing him to transmit his powers to his firstborn son. This rank and power was transferred to Martinez when he was 28 years old. Martinez subsequently wrote a treatise on the Reintegration of Beings and a commentary on the Pentateuch from the point of view of the philosophy of the High Masonic Degrees.

On September 20, 1774, a little less than two years after his arrival Martinez died in Port-au-Prince.  It is said that he named Armand Cagnet Lestère as his successor. However, Armand had little time to devote to the Order and Martinism was silenced. Current claimants to the Martinist banner all derive their origins from the aforementioned 19th and early 20th Century French reinventions.

Martinez Pasqually left students and followers in Europe including the Masons Willermoz and Jean-Baptiste Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. At first they intended to adopt the principles of the Lodge of Saint-Germian-en-Laye and practice the Seven High Degrees. However, internal disputes led Saint-Martin and Willermoz to create independent institutions. Abandoning Enlightenment ideals they sought inspiration from the controversial "speech of the Knight Templar of Ramsay," creating a Senior Corps in Europe. Jean-Baptiste Willermoz founded his own Masonic Lodge, "La Parfait Amitie", which began to conduct studies of alchemy. While the Elus Cohen and Martinism may have ultimately been silenced, Willermoz' efforts, which more truly may be said to have retained the seed of Martinist thought survived through its evolution into what is today called the Rectified Scottish Rite and Swedish Freemasonry.

Out of these origins, according to some authors, the structure of the Scottish Rite has established itself in seven traditional categories:

1) Symbolic Degrees of Apprentice, Fellow and Master;
2)  Degree of development of the Universal Symbolic Degrees
3) Degrees based on Enlightenment
4) Jewish and biblical Degrees
5) Templar Degrees
6) Alchemical and Rosicrucian Degrees
7) Administrative and Higher Degrees.

Joseph Cerneau

One more significant player in the History of Freemasonry in the Western Hemisphere emerged from the cradle of Haiti. Although much controversy and a great deal of unjustified slander was leveled at him by that autodidact and self appointed revisionist of Scottish Rite Masonry, Albert Pike, Joseph Cerneau, an unassuming, and apparently quite sincere Freemason and Jeweler from Villeblevin in Central France, became involved in Freemasonry while living in Pre Revolutionary Saint Domingue. At the time of the Haitian Revolution he, like quite a few Frenchmen living in Haiti escaped and went to Cuba. He is remembered for having founded the first Masonic Lodge in Cuba in about 1804 or 1805 before having been deported, as far as can factually be discerned, for the triple crimes of having been French, formerly living in Haiti, and being also a Freemason.

The Spanish authorities at the time lived in terror of the French contagion and Cerneau appeared dangerous to them for these reasons. It seems that their suspicion, if misplaced was not totally unwarranted, as a few years after the innocent Cerneau left for New York, an Afro-Cuban freemason, named Aponte, was caught and executed for attempting to lead a rebellion modeled upon that of Haiti.
Although Cerneau himself did nothing that the "Gentlemen" of Charleston did not themselves do, his form of Scottish Rite, although having much if not more to recommend it, fell victim to the savage attacks of Albert Pike and his southern "Gentlemen" after Cerneau himself had already returned to France, disgusted by the corruption and petty politics of North American Freemasonry in the early 19th Century.

Cerneau did not leave however, until after he has successfully spread his vision of the Higher Degrees to much of the Caribbean and Latin America, having personally granted the 33rd degree to none other than Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, known to those devoted to short and unimaginative names as Simón Bolívar, the liberator of much of Latin America.
Today, Joseph Cerneau is recognized in most of the Americas as the father not only of Cuban Freemasonry, but of the Scottish Rite, and Freemasonry in general in their part of the globe.

This is but a brief introduction to the interaction of Haiti and Freemasonry, a subject to which we will return again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Face of New Liberal Freemasonry in Spain

The new Grand Master of the Gran Logia Simbólica Española (GLSE), the Aragonese Nevis Bayo, is a promoter of stability, promising an approach to society and a strong defense of secularism in the three years that remain for her at the helm of the organization, founded in Spain by about seven hundred members.  Bayo,  from Aragon with roots in the province of Valladolid, explained the objectives she has set for her new role in the Lodge, which she will assume this weekend at a meeting held in Valladolid, a function being passed to her by Jordi Farrerons, who has performed this task for six years.

The new Grand Master has expressed her intention to exercise that responsibility by following the model of her predecessor, after being part of his team, and has said she will seek to strengthen the internal organization, while creating a presence for the Grand Lodge abroad. Bayo y Farrerons, who rejected the myth of mystery and secretiveness which some attribute to the Masons, explained that among the purposes of this organization is the defense of secularism and democracy, through the word, with regular meetings that take place every two weeks in each of the 34 lodges that make up the Spanish Symbolic Lodge.

Bayo Nieves will be the second woman to take the chair to serve as Grand Master of the Gran Logia Simbólica Española, and may remain in office the next three years and then continue for another three, but no longer. All charges of Freemasonry are elected "by ballot, not in perpetuity," explained Ferreróns y Bayo, who has stated that the organization is structured to include the Grand Master, which is equivalent to the position of a president, the Great Council composed of representatives or delegated authorities, and the general assembly, which meets every year. At the meeting taking place this weekend in Valladolid, which always takes place in a Spanish city, the last in Bilbao, 120 delegates will attend from the Spanish lodges, and representatives of delegations from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay, and it is customary to find visitors of organizations from different countries in the assembly.

The same story was published in el Diario Vasco (Basque Journal - provided by Reuters)
Gracias a Javier Otaola.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Ruined Temple

As a Mason, it is perhaps not surprising that I am drawn to architecture. As a child, my brother had a number of old victorian books of architectural plans and while a young teenager, he learnt to execute detailed architectural plans. I never acquired his drafting skills, but I found his fascination with buildings and especially the design details of old buildings to be contagious. A half century later I still cannot pass an old building without examining the lintels, gingerbread, or whatever element attracts the eye and appeals to my aesthetics.

There is nothing sadder and yet more beautiful than a deserted building as it begins to decay. I find Churches, schools, and especially Masonic Halls fascinating. I am especially drawn to those which are neglected, in disrepair, or actually falling into ruin. While I delight in beautiful older buildings which are well maintained and and show the love and care they deserve, there is something compelling about a neglected edifice. 

I think there is something of this affection in all of us. Perhaps it is an element of the psyche of our species as a whole. After all, our species built these structures, and so they contain and reflect something of our hopes, desires, joys, and disappointments. As a boy, like many boys, I loved to explore deserted buildings. Fortunately for me, I grew up at a time, in the 50's and 60's when my urban environment afforded me with some old gems of 19th century architecture to explore, and a world where the only real danger for the most part, was weak floor boards or shaky walls. Fortunately, I did not fall through any holes and had no walls collapse on me. I got to explore some classic gems. Thank goodness my parents never guessed what we were up to.

Now, many years later, considering the old churches and masonic temples, and I have rummaged through the ruins of quite a few, ranging from early medieval chapels in rural Ireland to early 20th century Masonic temples in urban America, I have some theories about the reasons for such fascinations. I am aware of the phenomenon of the egregore. This concept can be understood in a number of ways. On the purely intellectual level, as a psychological concept, or as a spiritual reality. I believe people must apprehend the concept in the way that they are most comfortable, but in essence, an egregore represents a "thoughtform" or "collective group mind", an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people. The symbiotic relationship between an egregore and its group has been compared to the more recent, non-occult concepts of the corporation (as a legal entity) and the meme. In short, and stripped of it's metaphysical concepts (for those of our fraternity who are only comfortable with  the "boys club" version of Freemasonry) an egregore is the group feeling that one becomes a part of in an organization. 

The emotion and good feelings we invest in a thing, place, or group can be palpable. Everyone who has invested their own enthusiasm in something knows what an egregore is. It is that feeling you have for a place where something special happened to you, or for the people with whom you shared a certain experience.  Explain it how you like, a church or a masonic lodge will have that feeling for you if you have had important experiences in that sort of place. For that reason, there is something palably sad about a deserted Masonic Lodge. And something which possesses a magical call for me. Perhaps you share this. Perhaps if you don't, looking at these photos may bring to you a sense of what I am describing.

Entering buildings like these, especially buildings where people have come together to perform powerful rituals, organized, choreographed group dramas again and again often for generations, events in which a great deal of human emotion was invested - that energy remains, and for me at least, I have had unique experiences in such places. I cannot give scientific explanations for them, and I think trying to in a real way is disrespectful of those experiences. Either way, I don't feel the need. However, I do hope others may wish to explore such places for themselves, and to take away with them, whatever experiences such sacred temples may hold for them. It is very different than visiting an active lodge building. Make of it what you will, but If you have such buildings in your area, take some photos and send them to me. When I get enough, I will happily put up a new post and credit all the contributors.

A More Sane Model for Relations


On May 23, 1951 a new constitution of the Grand Orient of Brazil, from which it became an exclusively Symbolic Masonic Potency, physically and administratively separate from the Supreme Council of Brazil of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and other Heads of Lodge Rites. Since 1978 the Grand Orient of Brazil has functioned as a national federation of Symbolic Lodges and State Grand Orients, and is headquartered in the Federal Capital, Brasilia (DF).

Its organizational structure is that of a classic Grande Oriente with the Democratic tripartate model of power, similar to that of the Federal Government of the US.  In each state of the Federative Republic of Brazil, its Lodges are grouped under a State Grande Oriente, organized along the lines of the Grande Oriente. The Grand Master represents the state Executive Branch of the Grand Orient of Brazil in their state, exercising functions delegated by the Grand Master General. These are not State Great Orient "Masonic Obediences," but simple representative administrators under the National Grand Orient of Brazil, aiming to facilitate the progress of bureaucratic processes in a country with a large territory (8.5 million sq. km, or 3.28 million sq. miles).

In late November 1995 the Grand Orient of Brazil had recorded in its National Register a total of 1,580 Lodges, all of which practice one of the six recognized and approved rites:-

•Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (1361 Lodges)
•Adonhiramite Rite (47 Lodges)
•Modern or French Rite (46 Lodges)
•Brazilian Rite (102 Lodges)
•York Rite "Emulation" (22 Lodges) and
• Schroeder Rite (2 Lodges).

The total number of members enrolled in the tables of Lodges in March 31, 1995 (date of the annual census) reached the milestone of 86,860 brothers. In terms of geographic distribution, in late November 1995, the figures were as follows São Paulo (365 Lodges; approx. 13,000 active members), Minas Gerais (222 Lodges, 7,323 members), Rio de Janeiro (193 Lodges, 6320 members),  Goiás (109 Lodges, 4,668 members) and Bahia (with 73 Lodges,  2,045 members).

The Grand Orient of Brazil is "regular" according to the standards of the UGLE, with which it has maintained a close relationship over the past century.

In Brazil, the first and oldest of the Masonic Powers is the current GOB - Grand Orient of Brazil.  In 1927, through an historic division, Masonic Lodges under the GOB originated Grand Lodges, are today associated with the Brazilian Masonic Symbolic Confederation (CMSB). In 1973, through another historic division within the GOB, the Independent Masonic Grand Orient Confederation of Brazil (COMAB) was founded. This organization is not interested in a debate over concepts of regularity and recognition. Instead, it makes a clear statement: the word "Freemasonry" is public domain, but not everything that calls itself "Freemasonry" really is. Nor do we mean that only those who are part of the three Masonic Associations above are "Freemasons". There are associations that do serious work based on the Masonic philosophy, but due to their origins do not fully meet the overly rigid standards of the English Traditions. Bound by their ties to the UGLE, members of these other organizations are not allowed as visitors in GOB, CMSB, COMAB and other regular Grand Orients and Grand Lodges around the world.

However, the Grand Orient of Brazil approaches other Masonic Obediences operating in their nation pragmatically. They admit that many of these exist as a result of disagreements that occurred within their own obedience, and that most of the current members of these lodges having no idea that in Brazil there was more than one Obedience. The vast majority of Lodges affiliated with Independent State Grand Lodges and Grand Orients regularly work according to the precepts of the Universal Order. In light of the principles of sovereignty and territoriality these Obediences should not be allowed intervisitation, but reality shows us that the Lodges of the three systems receive more or less frequent visits by members from other Obediences, provided that they belong to a Lodge considered "regular ".  Obediences not regarded as "regular" include clusters of "free lodges", or those linked to organizations that call themselves "mixed Freemasonry", "Female Masonry" or "independent Freemasonry."

The administrations of the Grand Orient of Brazil and its federated State Grand Orients maintain generally cordial relations with the administrations of the Independent State Grand Lodges and Grand Orients, without formal "recognition". In the case of the Independent Grand Orients there is interest in setting up recognition.

Thanks to Rubens Barbosa de Mattos, Daniel, and John Slifko

Friday, June 1, 2012

The French Rite in Ireland

In Ireland, the French Rite is worked by Voltaire Lodge No. 2 of the Grand Orient of Ireland. The lodge is the most multicultural and multilingual lodge in Ireland and puts an emphasis on the support of art and culture.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland notes that the French Rite is linked to the birth of Freemasonry in France and was established in France in 1786.

Scottish and Irish exiles brought the rite to France and this was little by little passed on to the French Rite. Though this form is no longer known as the French Rite, it sometimes takes that name to distinguish it from the Scottish Rites from which it was initially formed, paralleling the development of rituals in the first German lodges.

In order to guarantee that French Freemasonry would have a national dimension, the Grand Orient de France organised the standardisation of "Modern" rites from 1782 onwards, and in 1785 the model was formed for the first three degrees in a "blue lodge".

It was not until 1801 that the Grand Orient de France printed the rules of this rite under the title Régulateur du Maçon, containing several additions and amendments to the former version, which had circulated from lodge to lodge in discrete manuscript form. The Rite underwent several further reforms, and in 1858 the "Murat French Rite" (returning to the foundations of the Constitutions of Anderson without making lasting change to the rite) imposed itself.

As well as the sub-rites already mentioned, there is also a "French Rite of 1801".

After the Great Schism of 1877, the Grand College of Rites of the Grand Orient de France decided a new reform. This took place in 1879 and removed from the French Rite any religious connotations.

An 1886 commission headed byLouis Aimable concluded an adogmatic form of the rite, - after this date the rite is known as the "Aimable French Rite". It underwent less important reforms in 1907, and then remained unchanged until 1938.

In that year Arthur Groussier (Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France began a new reform initiative in an attempt to return the rite to its roots after additions and amendments, which had rendered it hard-to-understand and soulless. The final version - known as the "Groussier French Rite" - was completed in 1955 under the authority of Paul Chevalier.

In the 1960s and 70s, several masons such as René Guilly - sought the original essence of the French Rite and made a new attempt to reanimate its initiatory and symbolic character. René Guilly was the prime force behind the creation of a chapter of the Traditional French Rite, a chapter which still exists today within the National French Lodge. In 1974, another chapter was formed in Paris on the instigation of a member of the Traditional and Symbolic Grand Lodge of the Opéra. Through its offshoots, the latter led to the creation of a sovereign college of the Traditional French Rite, within a multi-jurisdiction framework.

Other masons' research led them to Brazil and it was the Supreme Council of the Modern Rite for Brazil which finally accorded them a patent to establish a French Grand Chapter in 1989. This was a re-birth of the "Re-established Modern French Rite" after 150 years' absence, under the name "Traditional French Rite" and purging all later or external additions, modifications and influences. This makes it the closest rite to that practiced in France in the second half of the 18th century.

The French Rite is often felt to be the most 'lay' rite of Freemasonry practiced within the Grand Orient de France. , which removed such traditional elements as the Volume of the Sacred Law and all mention of the Grand Architect of the Universe from the rite.

The Grand Orient of Ireland states that this Masonic system, which, in contrast to the existing conservative system, is an open, liberal, adogmatic, republican system and open for men and women, was founded by Irish freemasons, who saw a need for drastic reform of a stagnating system in their country.