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

Friday, September 28, 2007

Whispering Good Counsel

A brother comes to you, looking for advice, or commiseration, and tells you, on the square, that he has gotten wrapped around the axle of some crime, either directly, through inaction, or without his knowledge. He asks you for advice on how to get out of the situation.

Do you:
1. Keep what he told you in the safe repository of faithful breasts
2. Tell him to confess or you will expose him
3. Expose him to the brethren
4. Bring Masonic charges against him
Recently, I have been reading on various Masonic fora that this is actually a serious consideration. What would you do? Let me give you a specific case that I saw.

As the Senior Deacon of a lodge, where the Junior Warden is the brother charged with Masonic investigations and the preferring of Masonic charges, a brother comes to you. He tells you on the square, that as you will be the Junior Warden next year, you need to know about Worshipful Johnson (not his real name).

He told the Senior Deacon Worshipful Johnson is running a pornography business on the internet. More than that, Worshipful Johnson’s business ethics are less than stellar. He invites brothers to invest in his business, telling them it was a loan, or that he would give them shares of his business without telling them the nature of his business.

I will leave out how it was resolved here, as this is not relevant. You are the Senior Deacon, and in due time, are elected and installed as Junior Warden. Do you act on the information given to you in confidence, because the brothers who shared it with you won’t step up, or do you keep it in the repository of your faithful breast?

The Senior Deacon/Junior Warden kept the confidence he had been entrusted.

It is my opinion that, as our obligation states, we are to keep the secrets of a brother master mason as our own, when given to us in charge as such, murder and treason excepted. Now, I also know in some jurisdictions, the obligation is Felony and treason excepted…

If we do not, or cannot keep the trust, what kind of brothers are we? We are charged in the third degree to hold out a hand to a fallen brother, and to whisper good counsel in his ear, in a most friendly manner, thereby seeking to bring about a reformation.

It seems to me, therefore, that we have no other choice but to follow our obligation… if we are given information in trust, and we have no knowledge ahead of time of the information from non private sources, then we are obligated to keep the information secret. More, even if we do know already, we cannot use the confirmation given in trust, as it was given in trust.

I tend to take our obligations pretty literally. If I swear to do something, I do. Other brothers view the obligations as guidelines, suggestions.

So, what do you do with your obligations?
May the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons, my brotherly love prevail, and ever moral and social virtue, cement us.


Anonymous said...

I agree with on this Theron. It has not been my experiance but I echo the content of your post. I am a huge fan of treating men as men,even if that makes me a minority in that practice.
BC 2006

Anonymous said...

Interesting qestion.

First - I understand that the business concerns herein illustrated is not against the law - so the WB is acting legally.

If he is so acting - why then the need for secrecy?

Becaise our WB has lied to other Brethren by failing to disclose just where those 'loans' end up and the reason that he has remained mute would be that if he fully disclosed his intention no loan would be forthcoming.

He is therefore committing a fraud on my Brethren and I would blow his little game wide open.

I have an Obligation to all Brethren not just the odd one.

Anonymous said...

The quandry, to me, comes from the WB using unfair and possibly hurtful actions against another Brother. You have an obligation to keep a trust, but you also have one to warn your brethern of all approaching danger. Could the WB's actions be seen as approaching danger? This is a questionable movement. I'd probably have to whisper good counsel to the WB and suggest a change in buisness practices (i.e. getting money without explaining what it's going to be used for is fraudulent and could be cause for legal entanglement).

John W. Ratcliff said...

Well, I would like to address specifically your view on the obligation. A statement you made I find very, very, disturbing.

You said "I tend to take our obligations pretty literally."

This really concerns me. The reason so is that I find portions of our obligation extremely disturbing. Not just so much the 'bloody oaths', which have its own issues, but in particular the point where we say "Murder and treason alone excepted, and they left at your election."

I take great offense to this portion of the obligation and, on moral grounds alone, I have absolutely no intention of honoring it.

Before we are asked to take the obligation we are told (though this is not part of the formal ritual) that there will be nothing in it that conflicts with our duty to God, our neighbor, or country or ourself.

Well, keeping the secrets of a brother who has committed a felony (let's say child molestation for example) is a direct conflict with all four!!

Now, every time I mention this to other Masons, I am told 'tut-tut' this is all symbolic and of course it doesn't 'mean' that. After all, we said so in the *non-ritual* preamble.

Ah, but I didn't swear an oath to a preamble, I swore a specific oath which, in fact, violates my personal sense of morality, and duty to God, my neighbor, and my country.

The fact that you state "I tend to take our obligations pretty literally." absolutely 100% proves my point!!

No matter how much you may try to excuse or avoid it, the fact of the matter is the literal words of the oath are highly objectionable and many Masons might well take them literally!

I know of a certain brother or two who can state specific examples of felony offenses being covered up because they were 'on the square'.

This is my single biggest objection to date with Freemason ritual and I think it is a major issue.

Understand that I am currently WM of my lodge, so I am certainly dedicated to Freemasonry on the whole.

Brother John

Theron Dunn said...


I appreciate your comment, but I do not understand your objection. You state your obligation SAYS felony and murder EXCEPTED and that at your discretion. So, if you are told of a felony (highly unlikely, but ok) then you are not, by your obligation, held to keep it secret. So don't.

Men who say tut tut ARE the problem, and you need to do whatever you feel is appropriate... that is implicit in your obligation.

The information I was given was NOT from the problem brother, but was revealed as an issue they were dealing with, and one that they felt, as the Junior Warden Elect, that I should know about, due and timely notice of approaching danger.

At the time, I had no information that his actions were so pervasive in the lodge. I only knew of the two brothers who felt they had the bad end of a business deal, and that it was a porn business.

Now, taking it at face value, a business deal can involve a number of misunderstandings, or deliberate misstatements. The Masonic Code of California specifically states that business dealings that do not involve fraud, may NOT be considered unmasonic conduct.

And, while I personally find the porn business to be repugnant and immoral, it is legal in the state of California... so no felonies were involved, nor murder, nor treason.

So I kept my obligation... literally following the oath I had taken.

As for the bloody penalities... c'mon, every knows that they are symbolic... and to be imposed symbolically on you were you to fail in your obligations... never to be imposed by someone else.

There is NOTHING that I have found in freemasonry that I fear, and frankly, I have found the fraternity to be the best of men, the best of times, the best of all that is in the world.

Occassionally, we will find a bad apple, it happens. When we do, my grand lodge holds a masonic trial, as they did in this case, and the man was expelled from the fraternity.

Unless he lies and goes through the degrees again, he will never be able to join any other grand lodge in this life, and being cut off from the fraternity has been hell for him.

Thanks for posting! As always, I appreciate seeing other men's opinions and interpretations. Please keep reading the blog and sharing your thoughts and opinions with me!

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