True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why Regularity

I have seen, and been party to discussions on Masonic Regularity for some time now, and this issue never serves but to stimulate... and, frankly, to disappoint.

It disappoints because intellectual energy is rarely, if ever, brought to the table on the issue. It is, rather, one of viscera, emotion and contention. This is silly on several levels, mostly because those of us discussing it have very little to do with changing it, and worse, most have very little or no understanding of it's whys and wherefores. We even have some women weighing in on the issue, claiming that because their group tells them they are regular masons, that therefore, they are... ignoring, of course, what regular means in a masonic context.

For the most part, the ones disparaging regularity are masons who are not regular masons. This is not particularly unusual or difficult to understand. These men, and, yes, women, desire to be considered as regular masons, to be brought into the embrace of "Universal" Freemasonry (a term whipped up by non regular masons as a way of easing a change and by redefining masonry) but one that has no real or substantive meaning as other than a PC attempt at redefining words, specifically in this case, regularity.

I also want to start off, in an attempt at full disclosure, at stating my position. Lets start with what I have already written:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Are There Women Masons?

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Regularity Vs. Recognition

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Of Masonic Regularity

Friday, November 2, 2007
A Broom Named Harmony

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Acknowledgment Vs. Recognition

I have come to believe a number of things:
  1. Clandestine does not equal evil or necessarily non mason or "has no value".
  2. Irregular means simply what it says: non regular PRACTICE, not irregular or non mason.
  3. Women can be just as good a mason as a man can.
  4. The concept and practice of Regularity exists for a good reason.
  5. The concept and practice of Regularity has been... misused for political reasons.
  6. A Regular mason can learn from a non regular mason, and VICE VERSA.
  7. Here is the single most important lesson I have learned about the whole Regularity issue: BETWEEN MASONS, UNLESS WE ARE PLANNING ON OPENING A TYLED LODGE SESSION, REGULARITY DOES NOT MATTER.
For some, the above will be unbelievable or heretical, or both. I am a regular mason, I am proud of being a regular mason. I am a fifth generation regular mason, so the choice of obedience I would choose what never in question. Further, I do not feel it is necessary for regular masonry to extend regularity (what is often called amity, that is intervisitation) to any lodge that is not regular.

I am think that a type of recognition could be established, where the Regular, George Washington Grand Lodges (and hopefully Prince Hall Grand Lodges) could acknowledge that there is other types of freemasonry in existence, that they are not de facto fraudulent or "bad" prima facie, and that while we will not have "Masonic Communication" as it is styled in Freemasonry, that we can, at the very least, treat each other as brethren.

Perhaps an acknowledgment along the style of the United Grand Lodge of England, which recently noted that:
"There exist in England and Wales at least two Grand Lodges solely for women. Except that these bodies admit women, they are, so far as can be ascertained, otherwise regular in their practice. There is also one which admits both men and women to membership. They are not recognised by this Grand Lodge and intervisitation may not take place. There are, however, discussions from time to time with the women's Grand Lodges on matters of mutual concern. Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women). Further information about these bodies may be obtained by writing to the Grand Secretary.

"The Board is also aware that there exist other bodies not directly imitative of pure antient Masonry, but which by implication introduce Freemasonry, such as the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership of such bodies, attendance at their meetings, or participation in their ceremonies is incompatible with membership of this Grand Lodge".

Grand Lodge News” of the UGLE following the 10 March 1999 Quarterly Communication of UGLE.
Now that I have detailed my personal position on the issue, I want to delve into the accusations that have been leveled against Regular "Anglo" (to note a derisive term lately coined by a famous anti-regular freemason brother) or what I prefer to call, when speaking of non Prince Hall Regular Grand Lodges, George Washington Grand Lodges.

His claim has been that Regular Freemasonry does not "allow" its brethren to attend clandestine lodges. On the surface, this is true. After all, every George Washington Grand Lode has a book called Lodge's Masonic in its lodges that it uses to, in part, define what lodges can be visited and which should NOT be visited. It is also true that if a brother does visit one of these lodges that he stands in danger of facing masonic charges and expulsion from Regular Freemasonry.

Yet, that is a choice that every brother CHOOSES to follow. Any man can attend a clandestine lodge (though, frankly WHY he would do so is beyond me), but as with everything in life, there are consequences to actions. An oath is an oath, after all.

The corollary to the claim that Regular Masons cannot visit non regular lodges is that no Regular Mason can even TALK to a non regular mason. This is, certainly, incorrect. This very blog is read by Regular Masons around the world, by non regular masons, and by non masons. If I could not talk to or communicate with non regular and non masons, this very blog would be impossible.

Regular Masons are free, as are all men, to seek knowledge where they can find it, and claims to the contrary are... well, less than intellectually honest. As a Regular Mason, my only restriction is that I cannot (WILL NOT) sit in a tyled session in a non regular lodge of masons. Mostly because I swore not to, but in a larger sense because I swore not to, and see no reason at all to violate my obligation.

What is this "Universal" Freemasonry then?

Truthfully, its an attempt to redefine Freemasonry into something other than what it is. There are, really, four types of Freemasonry. Regular Freemasonry, that is essentially, lodges who can trace the provenance of their charters to grand lodges that were formed in a manner consistent with traditions all the way back to that tavern in June of 1717. Primarily, that is, for, of course, there are exceptions, but as is usually true, the exceptions prove the rule.

Another type of freemasonry are the "Grand Orients". Then there are the women's and co-ed obediences. I group them together since both involve women in lodges. Their origins cannot be regular as by masonic tradition, noted in Anderson's Constitution, only men can be masons. That was certainly a tradition, and is certainly one that the Regular Lodges should be and are free to maintain, there is absolutely no reason why women can't create their own lodges and "be masons".

Then there is plain out fraudulent freemasonry, frauds like the American Masonic Federation of the early 20th century that engendered the creation of Mail Fraud laws, and a long list of masonic frauds you can find here.

From the very beginning there have been pretenders to Freemasonry, which is why the whole issue of Regularity was created. Antients vs Moderns, fake lodges, money pits, cons and worse have tried to follow on the coat tails of the honorable reputation that Freemasonry has garnered, and Regularity has been a way of minimizing these crooks and worse.

The problem is, the issue is one that is complex and convoluted, even the Grand Lodges have a hard time with it. As a result of this lack of clarity, non regular masons have been able to cloud the issue further by making bald assertions, most often based on their own lack of understanding of the complexities, and in some, few cases, deliberately to forward their own agendas.

As Freemasons, we have manifold obligations. We must obey the Master of our Lodge, and the Grand Master and his representatives. We must, also, obey our consciences. So, what does that mean to the brethren? I can only answer that by what it means to me:

When a man, or a woman, approaches me and identifies themselves as a Freemason, I will acknowledge them as such.

Nice words... what does that REALLY mean? It means that I acknowledge anyone that claims to be a mason as a mason, I will render them the same aid and assistance that I would render to any man that I know is a Regular Mason. I will NOT share or discuss the items my Grand Lodge has declared are the secrets of Freemasonry, nor the rituals or what goes on in my lodge meetings.

And, of course, I will not attend ANY lodge that I do not know for sure is a Regular Lodge as defined by my grand lodge and the Lodge's Masonic list. This means I have attended Prince Hall Lodges and lodges all over the United States.

None of this keeps me from studying other lodge systems or learning from non regular masons, nor from teaching non regular masons, within the constraints defined by my Grand Lodge.

I am a Regular Mason, but love all my brethren, withersoever dispersed around the globe.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us (ALL).

12 comments:

bobbydale said...

Very well put. While technically still a non-mason, I understand where you are coming from. I feel that I will face some of the same issues as I join a lodge in Tennessee. We are one of the states that does not acknowledge PHA masons.

When I become a mason, I do not plan on being rude or crude to any PHA mason I come in contact with. On the contrary, I hope that I will be even more polite knowing that the man has learned most or all of the same moral lessons I have. As you stated, this does not mean I need to reveal anything that I will learn from the GL of TN.

As a side note, I have been voted and will receive my first degree in a couple of weeks.

Justa Mason said...

Theron, your post has probably taken me longer to read than it has for me to sit through my entire real-life Masonic career dealing with recognition issues.

Recognition seems to be something that people get worked up on the internet.

In reality, my GL gets an annual report from a committee which deals with fraternal relations, it's approved, and we get on with life.

Lodges have other things to worry about, such as initiating and instructing brethren, caring for sick members and widows, and getting together to share some comradeship. And, if you're a Secretary, chasing people for dues (I have yet to figure out how we supposedly can rule the world but can't get people to pay Lodge dues on time).

Justa Mason

Peter Yancey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theron Dunn said...

Bobbydale:

Congratulations on being elected to take the degrees. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee is a good Grand Lodge. Take it slowly, give yourself time to absorb the lessons in incorporate them in your life. Do not be in a hurry.

Br. Justa:

I couldn't have said it better myself. The truth is, MOST Regular Masons do not give regularity a second though, unless we encounter an angry brother non regular mason. Its just not an issue for us.

I got this comment from a brother in Greece today:

Regularity is something the ancient Zen Monks called "Balance". Without it; there is chaos. And of course...what do we see plenty of today and a lack of today?

I think you hit the "bullseye" bro.

Trooper Hercules Archontas Takis

Masonic Traveler said...

Doesn't this come down to the same argument of whose right?
Right, like "regularity" is a perception of the viewer.

I think as long as there are there is a difference, there will be discussion on the subject, with varying degrees of intensity. Besides the mail fraud and con argument, what, I wonder keeps GL's from just acknowledging a commonality with feminine or mixed masonry and for the GL's who don't already recognize PH masonry to just recognize, ir-regardless if PH does the same.

Perhaps that goes back to the whose right argument, and Right is right in the eye of the beholder, right?

And isn't the name George Washington Masonry already taken under the moniker of George Washington Union masonry?

I admire your position on this, and think that there is a definite position for all masculine masonry, but think that there is a middle way of recognizing that there other groups of people who practice, and live Masonry. To exist and insist that there be such division is silly in the height of modernity.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

At the Golden Gloves event a few weeks ago, a young man comes up to me and greets me as a brother. I had the square and compass pin on my suit coat. He informed me he was an EA in King Solomon #5, the Lodge name and number did not ring a bell to me? He informed me that it was part of the International AF&AM Grand Lodge. This is a predominately black freemasonic grand lodge, that the Prince Halls do not recognise. This young white man, had joined the "non- regular" black grand lodge.

I said nothing about regularity or obedience he belong to, and gave him a tour of the temple. AT the end, he asked if I wanted to attend his FC degree. I said I would be honored if I can be free at that time.

Now, how rude would it be to have brought up petty "regularity" garbage to this young man, who in his eyes, is a regular mason.
In my eyes he is a regular mason. Now, PHA and the american caucasian grand lodges will consider him irregular, and would punish any one of their members if they would attend a Lodge meeting with this young man.

Is that really the message of american freemasonry?

If you are not considered regualr by my GL, I cannot sit with you and keep our brands of freemasonry divided.

The idea of seperate, but not equal is bass-ackwards,
and to only be "recognised" or "regular" is to submit to our authority, is immature and chidlish.

True free men understand that these divisive rules are for the small minded, egotistical control freaks, that do not want Real Freedom exercised by its volunteers(what an american mason is, any one who belongs to any kind of non profit is a volunteer no matter what name you call them, brother, master, etc.., all volunteers)

Petty volunteers drawing lines in the sand..

George washington would never belong to a federally regulated form of masonry. So quit trying to glom onto his fame for your 501c10.
Please already....

George washington Freemasonry would NEVER submit to the UGLE!
Common sense...they risked their lives not to be rules by britian, and YOU are trying to say what you belong to is the same?
ROTFLMFAO

Theron Dunn said...

TBC;

thanks for taking the time to post. of course you would feel that way, you are a non regular mason these days. I would have absolutely no problem with not attending his passing, and would thank him sincerely for inviting me. I would certainly be doing him no service to tell him otherwise.

Your CLAIM that George Washington would not have observed regularity is stunningly simplistic and self serving. Of COURSE you believe that, you have to. And as for calling Regular Masonry nothing but a charity reveals your true agenda is nothing more than defaming Regular Masonry, which you have given up in your ego blow up over Halcyon. You HAVE to believe that twaddle to salve your own ego and justify your actions.

I am okay with you believing that, but don't try to peddle it to men of intelligence, eh?

You done pretty good over all. I would not have told him he was a member of a non regular masonic body either. I am not even sure I would have told him I could not attend. I PROBABLY would have done what I have always done when invited to attend a tyled meeting of non regular masons... I would have thanked him and told him I would try to make it.

Unlike you, I do not see it necessary to be up in everyone's face over this issue. Its really a non issue for Regular Masons. As I have noted elsewhere, this whole visitation to non regular lodges is ONLY an issue to non regular masons.

For the rest of us, as Jusata Mason noted, its not something we even think about.

Be well, Tom, in YOUR choice. Quit trying to drag us all into your particular quagmire or justify yourself to yourself.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

No justification needed.
I know who and what I am
I also know I do not worry about regualrity, you are correct.
So thank you for analyzing me and validating my feelings about systems.
That young brother will only experience brotherhood from me, not any divisional excuses of an inability to travel to his Lodge.

i enjoy the freedom associated with my choice.
Thanks again bro!

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Being Free to travel where I want, is different than being able to travel where I am allowed to travel only.

Thank you for pointing that out to me.

Theron Dunn said...

TBC:

You're welcome, no charge.

SPHINX524 said...

Oh Brother.....where do I start?

Please bear with me.

Reading this blog has me wondering is this much ado about nothing or is it a legitimate concern? I understand the reasoning behind the term "regularity". The term in its original purpose and intent was probably meant to keep "Cowans and Evesdroppers" away. Our rituals were written during a time when Freemasonry was extremely popular and exclusive. I'm sure that many lodges denied candidates and even expelled a few, probably fueling those to either form lodges that accepted those who were denied or rejected from chartered lodges.

These Lodges not having been chartered by the Grand Lodge of that jurisdiction were more than likely deemed "irregular", justifying the use of the word "Regular", being that the Grand Lodge is one of the immovable pillars.

In our case (American Freemasonry)we reconize 2 bodies of Freemasonry as being "Regular"... PHA and "Mainstream" or GW if you will. These bodies were the first to practice "Regular" Freemasonry here (US and its territories) and established lodges in each state under those original charters received directly from the Grand Mother Lodge (UGLE)which we accept as the foundation of Freemasonry. Because of British occupation throughout the times, other Worldwide Grand Lodges fall under this umbrella as well.

I too will greet and accept Brothers on their proclaimation of being a Mason. When it comes to visitation of lodges and ritual discussions, I don't do it outside the lodge to begin with. If a Mason thats deemed "non regular" wishes to visit my lodge or any other, I'm sure that after proper verification, the recognition issue will be determined then.

The biggest problem that I see in all of this is ammunition given to our detractors. They love to use quotes and sayings from anyone claiming to be a Freemason. This is how many lies have been spread upon us to this day. The one I love is used by a very prominent "Anti-Mason" who cites a Mason who obtained the 90th (given somewhere in the mid east) He then contradicts himself by saying "Most American Freemasons know nothing of this degree"....but he assuems that because another freemason has obtained something as high as the 90th degree and most other masons know knothing of it, somehow this Mason knows more "secrets" than others. I know its ridiculous, but this is what happenes when so many originzations are claiming and doing things thats affecting all. I believe this is when a "Regular" classification of Masons

SPHINX524 said...

....is justified and warranted

 
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