Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dry or Rye? Masons and libations

We all know we do it. Masons drink. Most likely, few drink to excess. I doubt that any have a reputation for drunkenness, unless they're members of the Sh... no, we won't go there. I do think we need to address the topic with a bit of rye humor, though (pun intended).

After all, the earliest records we have of Freemasonry, masons held their meetings in pubs. Well, they were no fools. We all know why the North American Freemasons, who so devoutly cling to the moniker of regularity while being so much the exception to masonic practice in the rest of the world, by and large host dry lodges. It's not as if the treasurer's reports were not dry enough, and these days so full of bad news. That bizarre experiment that the United States attempted in the earlier years of the previous century, called prohibition, must have had something to do with this peculiar twist of fate.

I'm not posting today with any intention of serious comment, and so I hope all of the above can be taken in the good humidor with which it is intended. As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself, Masons are known to like their scotch, their cigars, and their beer, myself included. So, I thought it might be nice to take a look at some peraphernalia associated with both libations and masonry. No, we're not going to discuss the unique institution known as the wet lodge, not to be confused with the sweat lodge, but we are going to take a brief glance at some lovely examples of beer, scotch, a cigarbox label, bottles, etc. with no redeeming educational value beyond nostalgic aesthetics. It's well earned.

Why now? For no other reason than that a friend posted a label of a new Brazilian beer that caught my attention. It had obvious Masonic symbolism in it, and ironically, I doubt the person who sent it to me even realized this.

I believe it entertaining as well as informative, although I will leave drawing conclusions to the reader, to examine how the symbols of Freemasonry have been sometimes quite liberally applied to commercial products. I am passing no judgement here. I quite frankly enjoy them, and while I suspect the collection of rings, patches, car stickers, lighters, bottle openers and the like are more a North American obsession than a European one, I have to a very small degree, indulged in this vice myself. But then, symbolism and art are a very significant part of what drew me to Freemasonry in the first place. So I make no apology for this habit. It has not gotten so consuming that my wife complains. She saves her complaints for when she sees a new book arrive for the 10th time in a month.

This is a decidedly random collection of images, and I may follow up at some point with a more organized look at the subject to atone for the careless way in which I approached this fascinating topic. I am in the midst of a number of other projects and really wanted to indulge in some entertaining shuffling through images while putting off much more serious responsibilities for this afternoon. I hope this is enjoyable and makes people think about the impact of Freemasonry on all the arts, from the high and serious to the low and frivolous. This peek was unquestionably more the later than the former.  So, here were are. I have no more to say on this topic today, which deserves serious artistic and historical commentary, beyond saying, "It's the weekend, bottoms up!" Huzza Huzza Huzza.

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