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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Freemasonry has no role outside Freemasonry

There have been suggestions that the Basic Principles should be capable of redefinition from generation to generation, although those making those suggestions seem reluctant to reveal which of the Basic Principles they wish to redefine. I would suspect that one area they would like to redefine is the prohibition of the discussion of religion and politics at Masonic meetings, and the bar on Grand Lodges or individual Freemasons making public comment on matters of religious, political or state policy when acting in their Masonic capacities.

In that context, I was rather surprised that some of you had been discussing the role of Freemasonry in a changing Europe and how Freemasonry can influence, for the common good, the social and moral development of the new Europe. The Home Grand Lodges – England, Ireland and Scotland – would respond that
Freemasonry has no role outside Freemasonry and that the only influence it should be seeking is over itself and its members. We firmly believe that it is not Freemasonry but the individual who can have a positive influence on society. We see Freemasonry as an intensely personal journey of self-discovery, knowledge and personal development. We hope that the individual, during his journey, will absorb the principles and tenets of Freemasonry, so that they become a part of his nature. In that way he will make a contribution for the good of society. If the individual, imbued with the principles of Freemasonry, does not work for the good of society we should then question whether Freemasonry has fulfilled its purpose.
( SNIP )
...Freemasonry is not, and should never be allowed to develop into being, a lobby group – no matter how universal and noble the cause.

Lord Northampton
MW The Pro Grand Master
The Most Hon. the Marquess of Northampton, DL
at the European Grand Master's Meeting on 5th & 6th November 2007
Full Speech Here

Freemasonry: Its not about me changing them, its about me changing me.
Theron Dunn
There is a temptation in freemasonry, based on the lecture we receive in the third degree: to whisper good counsel to our brothers, in a most friendly manner, and thereby to seek a reformation, to try to enforce or MAKE a change in a brother. I know, I have been accused of falling to that temptation.

My masonic credo has been, and remains: its not about me changing them, its about me changing me. Not only can I NOT change a brother, I should not even try. So the whole "whispering good counsel" thing is very problematic. Personal views are what they are, very personal.

Here we have Lord Northampton reiterating my credo on a larger scale. Freemasonry has no role OUTSIDE freemasonry. It is to the individual brother, as a subject or citizen to execute the tenets of freemasonry in his life as best he can, using the experiences, faith, and knowledge he possesses to guide him. It is not the place of the fraternity to guide society, but the IS the place of the brethren, so influenced by the pure principles of the fraternity to do so.

It isn't about me changing them:

Freemasonry isn't about us telling each other how to polish that ashlar, but about each of us, on our own, polishing that ashlar using the tools we have been handed by the fraternity. Not that good counsel has not place, but before we offer counsel to our brothers, we should first examine WHY we are offering it, and of course, whether our brother is interested in good counsel.

If he is not interested after whispering once, then we should stand aside, keep our peace, and continue on our own work. Otherwise, it is not whispering any longer, but an attempt at pushing or thrusting our own opinions onto another, which is itself intolerant and anathema to the gentle teachings of the craft.

Conversely, it is our duty as masons, to listen to the whispering of our brethren, to consider their words in a most charitable manner. We should weigh them, then act as our conscience dictates, but never purport evil intentions to our brethren for whispering to us.

Lord Northampton here makes a very good point. There are some who would see the craft, as whole, push politics in one direction or another, for the craft to take public positions on issues of the day. He rightly points out that freemasonry is about the internal, not the external.

Its about me, changing me:

We should carefully guard ourselves against the insidious allure of teaching others how to live their lives, the temptation of power is very subtle, even when that power is, after all, wielded for the "best interests" of society. Freemasonry teaches us use the tools of an Entered Apprentice to
chip away at the superfluities of life, thereby fitting ourselves, as living stones, for that spiritual house, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Its a daily struggle, which we all fight, weighing this against that, seeking what is best, not necessarily for us, but for our families, our brethren, our communities, our country... and ourself. Sometimes in that order. I cannot change your ashlar, only you can do that, nor can you change mine, only I can do that.

We can HELP each other, with kind words, encouragement, guidance, but only a brother can perfect his own ashlar... his own spirit. I am forever grateful to all my brothers, for their aid, assistance and support. Thank you all every day and in every way.
May the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.


Anonymous said...

Hi Theron,

Interesting article. I see you've quoted Lord Nothampton. Might I suggest you read "Whither Directing our Course? Lord Northampton"

Found at:

He gives a good definition of what Freemasonry is, although I strongly suggest you read the whole article:

"...For most people enlightenment is a process of imparting or acquiring information or knowledge about something,like ‘That was an enlightening speech you made’. Historians call the ‘Enlightenment’ that period in 18thC Europe when a group of philosophers promoted a rational and non theological approach to the
problems of philosophy and society. This is not however the meaning of enlightenment in the Eastern and
Western mystery traditions, where light is not an abstract symbol but a living experience that is felt in the
heart, the mind and the body. Enlightenment is not just a metaphor but rather an experience of ones own
inner essence, and the realisation of the Self with a capital ‘s’. When defined as the rational acquisition of
knowledge it deals with a very limited aspect of human transformation. The enlightenment we are dealing
with in Freemasonry is that of ancient teachings. It is a process of seeing more clearly and having a more
lucid awareness. This aspect of transformation, through which Freemasonry guides us, is a gradual process
of moving from a state of unknowing to an ever increasing knowledge of one’s Self and ones true potential..."

Later in this paper he differentiates between three types of present Freemasonry:Anglo Saxon masonry, continental masonry and Latin American masonry:

"...Anglo Saxon masonry has strayed from its original purpose and no longer teaches its candidates the
fundamental truths which underpin the Craft. That is why I support the initiative to start an Orator scheme to
provide well written papers describing this masonic journey for delivery in lodges. Educating our members
about the purpose of masonry should be a priority regardless of whether or not they wish to deepen their
understanding of it. Much continental masonry, which continues to thrive, and Latin American masonry,
which is the fastest growing masonry in the world, insists on the candidates becoming proficient in and
having an understanding of any degree they have taken before allowing them to progress further. They have
to write papers and answer questions on the ceremony they have experienced before they are allowed to
move to the next degree. Do we consider the questions our candidates have to answer before being passed
and raised really give ‘proofs of proficiency’ in the former degree? I think not."

I suggest from this that one can't say there is only one method of Freemasonry; regardless of our original pedigree.

Theron Dunn said...

Excellent post, Gord, I really appreciate it!!

Peter Clatworthy said...

The following statement was issued at York on Saturday 29th December 2007.

Regularity and Recognition: The Myth and the Reality

If reports are correct, there is much to commend in the speech recently given by the Pro-Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England to the so-called ‘European Grand Masters’ Meeting’. However, leaving aside the infelicitous claim to speak for ‘England’, there are certain presumptions and confusions in the address that demand the most urgent and serious scrutiny.

Regularity is of course an essential doctrine in Freemasonry but has in recent years been subject to ill-considered assault from within the Craft itself. It is therefore appropriate to analyse those comments of the Pro-Grand Master that seem designed to undermine and devalue a concept that all Freemasons ought to hold dear.

There is, for example, the explicit declaration that ‘to be regular a Grand Lodge must conform to each of our basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition or it cannot be considered as regular’. Given a moment’s consideration a truly outrageous claim! Freemasonry is not, and never has been, subject to or contained within the United Grand Lodge of England. To suggest as much is to diminish the history, role and actuality of Freemasonry. The cart is clearly and contrivedly put before the horse, making regularity the reward for recognition. And conveniently in so doing the two quite separate and distinct concepts of ‘Regularity’ and ‘Recognition’ are conflated.

‘Regularity’ requires a strict acceptance and observance of the Ancient Landmarks of the Order. Such Landmarks are visible and ascertainable and are found within any regular Grand Lodge. Regularity is represented by adherence: nothing more, nothing less. It is not, and cannot ever be, bestowed. Indeed, Regularity is necessarily beyond the capacity of anybody or any organisation whatsoever to bestow, be they Grand Master or Grand Lodge. The very best any such Master or Lodge can hope to do is to bequeath Regularity to his or its successor. And here I can of course confirm that the Grand Lodge of All England is such a regular Grand Lodge and adheres strictly to those Ancient Landmarks that alone can make it so.

‘Recognition’ is a very different concept. There are, for example, devices the use of which may enable a regularly made Freemason to be ‘recognised’ by others. Such may be said to amount to individual recognition and on this level the term is quite uncontroversial. However, the question should be asked as to what purpose Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ actually serves, and who in fact really benefits from such a device. It should here be noted that Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ has its genesis in late eighteenth century legislation, such as the Unlawful Societies Act, designed to stifle debate and discussion within the context of an authoritarian and politically repressive state. We recoil from the memory of such devices and reject this latter day attempt to rejuvenate so tainted and un-Masonic a concept.

Far from having had thrust upon them ‘the mantle of being guardians of regularity’, the United Grand Lodge of England in fact seized upon the opportunity presented by repressive legislation to attempt nothing less than the appropriation of Freemasonry. In contradistinction, the Grand Lodge of All England does not accept the validity of any such spurious doctrine as ‘recognition’ nor does it ‘recognise’ any other Grand Lodges nor seek such ‘recognition’ from others. Rather, it stands as the bearer of traditional Masonic principles and disowns all attempts to subjugate and subvert genuine Freemasonry.

The Grand Lodge of All England has frequently and consistently published its position with regard to these two quite separate and distinct concepts of ‘Regularity’ and ‘Recognition’. Together with a detailed historical exposition this is explained at length on our website at and is authoritatively represented on a number of general Masonic websites. It is stated in our official submission to the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America, in articles in the hands of various Masonic publishers and in correspondence with various interested parties.

A Grand Lodge is, indeed, ‘either regular or it is not’. But whether ‘recognition’ is extended or denied to one Grand Lodge by another is irrelevant. There is in Masonic terms no historical or constitutional basis for this spurious and wholly political doctrine of ‘recognition’. To continue to employ such a device as a means of dividing Mason from Mason is the residue of one of the least attractive, most repressive and disgraceful periods of modern Masonic history.

From inception, the United Grand Lodge of England has sought, unsuccessfully, to exert a monopoly over Freemasonry. What cannot be countenanced is that this aspiration should be allowed to corrupt the wholly genuine concept, vital to genuine Freemasonry, of Regularity, and to render it nothing more than a self-serving ideological notion. This concern is made all the immediate by the compromises already entered into by United Grand Lodge of England and the dilution of Masonic principles and practices that these compromises have brought about.

Much of the difficulty the Pro-Grand Master sought to address in his speech was to do with the role of the United Grand Lodge of England within the Masonic world. Such difficulty, however, is due to his own Grand Lodge in seeking to redefine Freemasonry in its own image and as in its own gift. The Masonic doctrine of Regularity exists outside and is wholly independent of any Grand Lodge. It is most emphatically not to be confused and conflated with the practice of Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ devised and instituted by the United Grand Lodge of England for its own hegemonic purposes. And Freemasonry, even English Freemasonry, is most emphatically not to be confused and conflated with the United Grand Lodge of England.

John Gordon Graves
Grand-Master Mason
Grand Lodge of All England

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