Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Memory and the Mason

One of the most fascinating observations within the craft, is the ability for some skilled brethern to learn huge portions of ritual.  Of course all members of the craft who rise through the various offices must learn some lines and remember their duties in the lodge, and as we go through the various degrees ourselves, we are given phrases and various private ways of proving we are who we claim to be.

The process of rememberance are not new, the techniques go back to antiquity, before the advent of the printing press, writing materials were scarce and expensive - many also could not read or write, therefore a trained memory was seen as a valuable asset.

It is attributed to the Greek poet Simonides the creation of the 'art of artificial memory' who could remember the names of all those who were present at a great banquet, who after a great accident could recall each guest in detail - largely based on the position of the guests and the images he associated with each (rules for images and rules for places).

After Simonides, these techniques were perfected by several teachers, one manuscript, writen by an anonymous man - known as 'Ad Herennium' -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetorica_ad_Herennium
It formalises the theme that in order to remember something, one should remember lines as being part of a building, with various rooms, and to associate striking images in each room.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci - discusses the concept of the memory palace, again linking the mason (the 'builder') creating the architecture of 'thoughts'

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Knights of the Rosy Cross and their legacy

"For we are the Brethern of the Rosie Cross, We have the Mason word and second sight; Things for to come  we can tell aright"

Who were the Rosicrucians and what possible relevance do they have to us today?

In the 1600's brutal (and in my mind pointless) religious wars were breaking out from within Christianity, from two ideological viewpoint - commonly known as Protestantism and Catholicism.  But within this turmoil a few individuals believed in religious tolerance - they couldn't see a problem with a having a friend of a differing religious persuasion.

These people who held these views, had to keep them very secret, If they had openly declared these beliefs they would have been tortured and killed for them.  In 1610 a new religious sect appeared, calling themselves Rosicrucians arose in Germany.  The Pamplet The Universal and General Reformation of the Whole Wide World was being circulated - this text told of an individual  had come across the grave of a Christian Rosenkrantz deep in the forest, he found beside the grave, three books that he had written.

The story goes that Christian Rosenkrantz had been born in 1384 and had lived 106 years (almost unheard of in that age) - he wrote about a future vision of paradise in which men believed in a God, or supreme being, who attached no importance to the subtleties of sixteenth - and seventeenth century religious controversies.  This was a God whom people of differing religions could worship - promoting religious tolerantion to all.

Im not sure exactly how much of this I believe is literal, but looking at it as a powerful allegory, the world today with its extremist attitudes of religion and politics need a message of tolerance.  Personally I believe in a God who will never turn his head or face away from any peoples or person, I believe in a very big God - Just and perfect in his actions.  His message is for us to uphold justice and truth, to be forgiving of our own faults and others, but to strive for perfection in attitudes of charity and interpersonal relationships.

That to me is the message of Rosicrucians and of Masonry

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Basilides, - the head of the Egyptian Gnostics - constructed a belief of Seven emanations or 'aeons' from the supreme Godhead.  These emanations created the highest of the angels, created a form of heaven for themselves - in turn these angels brought forth lesser angels, until in turn the whole number of Angels reached 365 - (again we can point to many 'mythological' concepts such as Enoch, whose years of life numbered 365 - associated with a solar year)

Basilides believed that over all these emanations, there was a supreme God called Abraxas - whose numerical value (when the name is written in Greek) amounts to 365.  Therefore this God was a type of symbol of the rotation of the Earth around the Sun.

...Incidentally this can be found in the Gods Mithras and Belenus

Monday, 7 February 2011

From Dr Mackey's Encyclopedia - Abdiel

Curious that Dr Mackey should bring up the topic of the blessed angels in his encyclopedia


"Hebrew - the servant of God".  The name of the angel mentioned by the Jewish Kabbalists, one of the seraphim, who when Satan tried to stir up a revolt among the angels, alone and boldly stood against his traitorous designs

"Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His Loyality he kept, his love, his zeal"

Perhaps now I realise why Dr Mackey includes Abdiel, his name and nature is the property of those who are faithful? 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Contessa Perdono

One of the most beautiful Aria's by Brother Mozart, the Countess forgives her husband..and her song flows through the cast, bringing benediction and consolation to all who sing and hear.  Truly Mozart was touched by the divine..may this spirit and aria of forgiveness flow through the earth, to bring strength and comfort to all who need it.

Freemasonry - what do you mean?

It has been often said - and (can be seen traditionally  as a kind of catechism within the craft) that Masonry is: "a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols".  What does this mean?

 i - the word peculiar in this sense, means a special form, a code of general moral knowledge based on and derived from the lives of operative stonemasons of ancient times to aid us in our daily living

ii - The moral system employed by the craft is that of an allegorical system, part fact, part legend.

iii - The guiding principles of life are set out in the Masonic code, explained by the moralising of stone masons tools.

Personally I dont think this goes far enough, Masonry's main principles are related to a love of mankind, a real desire to help others in times of need, and a further desire to lead a truthful and moral life.  We are taught that we have three supreme duties - to the Supreme Being, to others, and to further examine ourselves and our attitudes towards life.  These are the supreme challenges that Masonry brings to us -

On a personal note, at times it can be inspiring, at times, I fail - I dont spend the time I should meditating on the sacred mysteries of my VSL, sometimes I make an off-hand comment to members of my family which hurt them, showing my uncharitable nature.  But perhaps the main point is to try, to aspire to be greater than we are, to really learn to examine our lives asd how we relate to others.

The Delphic quote of "Knowing thyself" is very apt