Transitional Fossil

" The question isn't "who is going to let me"; it's "who is going to stop me".
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Friday, August 22, 2008


I became a Freemason over seven years ago. Becoming a Mason, I thought, would bring me to a more moral and spiritual place in life. I did research about people who were Masons, the anti-Masonic movement of the 1830’s, the conspiracy theories, the Morgan Affair, the scandal with the Vatican, the Papal Bull, the Knights Templar, concordant (related) bodies (the Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, the Triangles, Tall Cedars, The Scottish Rite, The York Rite, The Shrine, etc.) and even the symbolism on the one dollar bill.

The one thing I left alone was the ritual. To me it was simply not mine. Not yet. It was out there and readily available. After my initiation I was able to which ritual I was reading, what version, and from where it originated. It was fascinating to read. Such a breadth of the work with complex psychological impacts, symbols and metaphor I had yet encountered.

Shortly after I completed my research I sought out a lodge. After a few false starts I met with the Master of a lodge about thirty minutes from where I was living. The Master is the one who presides over the work of the lodge. I chose that one specifically because it was in the community I had grown up in and I wanted to give back.

The conversation with the Master lasted about an hour. We touched on my personal beliefs and I inquired as to what was expected of a Freemason. I enjoyed the rich history and trappings of Freemasonry. There is so much there to see and explore. It was like being given access to a library of lost knowledge.

Next came my initiation and subsequent degrees. They were intense. Anyone who has gone through something of this nature knows that an “opening of the head” takes place. The symbols and the meanings took hold and pushed against the conceptions of my reality. It was a wonderful and scary process. If you are like me and have plans to make a foray into occult studies I would recommend going through the process of becoming a Mason. Many other traditions (Wicca, the Golden Dawn) have partaken from the rich structure and symbolism provided by the Sons of Light.

Settling into my new surroundings I began to learn. The history and development of the Freemasons, both theoretical and factual, were made available. I began to memorize the entire ritual word-for-word. This body of word is upwards of about 15,000 words. I embraced my role in a society with secrets, a world that ticked apart from everything. I travelled other lodges, each with their own signature on how they operated, listened to lectures and spoke at length with learned men.

My first obstacle I encountered my ageism. Even though we were told that all were equal it became clear that the guys who had been in the fraternity of fellows longer we there to stifle the new guys. Very few were encouraging, though those that were shone like diamonds. Understand that the mean age of Masons in New York is 72. They are a dying breed who are eating their young in an attempt to stay alive. They are very set in their ways and although they are trying to adapt to our brave new world, they rarely take in the views of those they are trying to reach.
There were other obstacles, however I hesitate to mention other undercurrents I encountered as it would reflect negatively on all Masons and that would not be just. For that reason I will keep my tongue.

On the positive side I have seen so many random and deliberate acts of charity on the part of Freemasons. They are kind, giving, loyal and generous with their time and ears. They are always willing to help those both with and without aprons simply because it is the right thing to do. I have many fond memories of people whose simple way could only be described as good and decent. Whether it was going to visit a brother who was homebound, bagging food for needy families or fixing up a women’s shelter; all of it was done with a glad heart and without usual press notification.

As I continued on my path, I joined the York and Scottish Rites and went on to discover many other wondrous things. Though admittedly in America Masonry is a bit watered-down, the ritual continues to provide education and inspiration in the mechanisms of things. I was glad to have experienced it.

As of now I am inactive. I still pay dues to my Blue Lodge in New York. I have separated from my Valley and my Royal Arch chapter. I remain a scholar and hermit. Many interesting books have come my way in the past five years, but nothing has enticed me to return. The Freemasons, I feel, have lost their way. They have become complacent in their ritual and their lives as to believe that the Temple is completed once again.

Yet, it has not.

But this is one man’s opinion. One man, in a membership of two million. Some day our ways may be extinct, yet our values and landmarks can be found in nature and will continue. All must yield to the passage of time. As Omar Khayyam once wrote, ‘The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,/Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit/Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line/ Nor all your Teas wash out a Word of it.’


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