History: Freemasonry


Freemasonry - History and Ritual

Origins of the Society

Masonic Beliefs and Practices

A Political Force

Prieure de Sion

Who/What Are Masons

Masons face showdown with MPs (920220)





Freemasonry - History and Ritual


“When the authentic school [in the 18th C] came to examine the English records they could find no evidence at all of the existence of operative lodges. In medieval times the operatives’ lodge had simple been a hut or lean-to on the site in which they stored their tools and took their refreshment and ease. By the 1600s the guild system, with the exception of the London Livery companies, was virtually moribund. Not was there any evidence of an English Mason word or of the English operatives having had secret modes of recognition....Accepted masonry simply seems to have appeared in England as a new organization without any prior connections with the operative craft.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


The Legendary Soldiers of Christ


Origin of the Knights Templar - The First Crusade, a secret quest and the rule of St. Bernard


Trial by Blood and Fire - Victory and defeat in the Holy Land, great wealth and mass persecution


Mysteries of the Templars - The Baphomet, Black Virgin, Prester John and a heroic legacy


The Freemasons


Origins of the Masonic Order - The Old Charges, the Acception, and the new Grand Lodge system


A Political Force Scottish Rite - Freemasonry, Templarism, revolution and controversy


Masonic Beliefs and Practices - Ancient symbols and allusions, ceremonies, regalia and secret rites


The Book of Enoch - Entertaining pages on this mysterious book and its connections to Freemasonry.


Freemasonry on the Internet - Articles, poems, books, famous Freemasons, links to Masonic images and more!


Internet Masonic Resources - Peter Trei’s exhaustive list of Internet Masonic resources - official and unofficial


Knights of the Temple Illustrated! - with a short history, list of Grand Masters, myths, links and more.


The Knights Templar Preceptory Portcullis - Information from a variety of sources and a bibliography on medieval history




Origins of the Society


The Old Charges of Freemasonry


(1) The Operative Craft


“There exists a collection of documents which has been called up as evidence both for the operative and non-operative origins of Freemasonry. Described by Anderson as the Gothic Constitutions, and now known collectively as the Old Charges, some 127 versions have been traced of which 113 are still in existence....All have a common form: a. an opening prayer


b. a legendary history of the mason craft tracing it from biblical origins to its establishment in England


c. a code of regulations for Masters, Fellows and Apprentices covering both craft practices and morals


d. arrangement for large-scale ‘territorial’ assemblies at which attendance was obligatory


e. procedures for the trial and punishment of offenders


f. admission procedures ‘for new men that were never charged before’, including an oath of fidelity.”


“Historically, the Old Charges fall into three groups. The first comprises the two earliest versions, the Regius MS of c.1390 and the Cook MS of c.1420...The second, and largest, group begins with the Grand Lodge No. 1 MS, dated 25 December 1583, and covers all the versions datable before the formation of the premier Grand Lodge in 1717. The third group comprises manuscript and printed versions produced after 1717, the majority of which appear to have been produced as antiquarian curiosities.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


The Wood manuscript, written, in 1610 “traces the history of the Order from two pillars that were found after Noah’s Flood, none made of a marble that would not burn with fire, the other made of a substance known in Masonic legends as Laterus, which would not dissolve, sink or drown in any water. One of these pillars was found and upon it were inscribed the secrets of the sciences from which the Sumerians developed a moral code that passed to the Egyptians through the Sumerian Abraham and his wife Sarah. The script goes on to describe Euclid teaching geometry to the Egyptians, from whom the Israelites took it to Jerusalem, which resulted in the building of King Solomon’s Temple.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“A record of the society written in the reign of Edward IV, said to have been in the possession of the famous Elias Ashmole, founder of the Museum at Oxford, and which was unfortunately destroyed, with other papers on the subject of Masonry, at the Revolution, gives the following account of the state of Masonry at this period:


“That though the ancient records of the brotherhood in England were many of them destroyed, or lost, in the wars of the Saxons and Danes, yet king Athelitane, (the grandson of King Alfred the Great, a mighty architect,) the first anointed king of England, and who translated the Holy Bible into the Saxon tongue, (AD 930) when he had brought the land into rest and peace, built many great works, and encouraged many Mason from France, who were appointed overseers thereof, and brought with them the charges and regulations of the lodges, preserved since the Roman times; who also prevailed with the king to improve the constitution of the English lodges according to the foreign model, and to increase the wages of working Masons.” - William Preston, Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


Preston’s accounts of the history of Masonry in England, beginning with the Druids and Romans, are based on the mythical history included in Anderson’s Constitutions (1773) and his own 1776 Appendix.


“In the west of England there is a magnificent chain of cathedrals without parallel elsewhere: Exeter, Wells, Gloucester, Worcestershire and Hereford, as well asmany abbeys and castles, on which building was carried out almost continuously during the five centuries before A.D. 1500.” The Regius MS and the Cooke MS, based on a lost 1360 manuscript, are the only pre-Reformation versions of the Old Charges still extant. Both “say that Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great gave charges to masons for he was the King of Wessex before he became King of All England [c.895-939], and he is reputed to have been the founder in 932 of the monastic house which was the fore-runner of the cathedral at Exeter.” According to the Cooke MS, Athalstan’s youngest son “‘loved well the science of Geometry’ and he became a mason himself. He, in turn, gave charges to masons ‘as it is now in England’. Moreover he obtained a patent from the king that they should ‘make assembly when they saw reasonable time to come together’.” - Bro. J. R. Clarke, “The Old Charges (A New Look at the Oldest of Them)”


“During the reign of Henry II, the Grand Master of the Knights Templars superintended the Masons, and employed them in building their Temple in Fleet-street, A.D. 1155. Masonry continued under the patronage of this Order till the year 1199, when John succeeded his brother Richard in the crown of England.” - William Preston, Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


“The term freemason appears as early as 1375 in the records of the city of London. It referred to working masons who were permitted to travel the country at a time when the feudal system shackled most peasants closely to the land. Unlike the members of other crafts of the time - smiths or tanners for example - the masons gathered in large groups to work on majestic, glorious projects, moving from one finished castle or cathedral to the planning and building of the next. For mutual protection, education, and training, the masons bound themselves together into a local lodge - the building, put up at a construction site, where workmen could eat and rest. Eventually, a lodge came to signify a group of masons based in a particular locality.” - “Freemasons; Mortar and Mysticism”, Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“At the beginning of the reign of Henry VI, in 1425, a ban was placed on holding them [annual assemblies of masons] on the ground that they contravened the Statutes of Labourers. The masons protested that they were as loyal and law-abiding as other trades and objected to being singled out for attack. Condor (The Hole Craft and Fellowship of Masons, p.77) observes that ‘we do not hear of this Act being put into force’ and he gives high legal opinion that it was repealed in 1562. It may be a coincidence but it was about this time that the earliest extant post-reformation versions of the Old Charges appeared.” - Bro. J. R. Clarke, “The Old Charges (A New Look at the Oldest of Them)”


“A record in the reign of Edward IV runs thus:


“The company of Masons, being otherwise termed Free-Masons, of auntient staunding and good reckonings, by means of affable and kind meetyngs dyverse tymes, and as a lovinge brotherhode use to doe, did frequent this mutual assembly in the tyme of Henry VI in the twelfth yeare of his most gracious reign, A.D. 1434’.” - William Preston, Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


“It has been demonstrated that freemason - in an operative context - is a contraction of ‘freestone mason’....The earliest printed use so far traced comes in The Pilgrimage of Perfection - usually attributed to William Bonde - printed in 1536 by Wynkyn de Worde.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


“The freemason setteth his pretyss first long tyme to learn to hewe stones and whan he can do that perfectly he admytteth him to be a freemason and choseth hym as a conynge man to be master of the Craft.” - The Pilgrimage of Perfection


“Guilds of mason were common, and can be found emerging in Scotland (where guilds were generally known as incorporations) in the late Middle Ages.” - David Stevenson, The First Freemasons


“...The Masons were countenanced and protected in Scotland by King James I. After his return from captivity, he became the patron of the learned, and a zealous encourager of Masonry. The Scottish records relate, that he honored the lodges with his royal presence; that he settled a yearly revenue of four pounds Scots, (an English noble,) to be paid by every Master-Mason in Scotland, to a Grand Master, chosen by the Grand Lodge, and approved by the crown, one nobly born, or an eminent clergyman, who had his deputies in cities and counties, and every new brother at entrance paid him also a fee. His office empowered him to regulate in the fraternity what should not come under the cognizance of law-courts.” - William Preston, Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


“In Scotland such lodges [established for long-term site building activity], under burgh control, can be traced in Aberdeen and Dundee in the late fifteenth and early sixteen centuries. But they appear to have declined or disappeared entirely shortly before or after the Reformation of 1560 brought a new protestant church to Scotland.” “The legacy of the Medieval masons obviously contains much that is later found in freemasonry; the mythical history of the craft, the identification of masonry with mathematics; organization in ‘lodges’; secret signs and words; and rituals of initiation.” - David Stevenson, The First Freemasons


(2) A Brother to Pirates and Corsairs


Concerning stonemasons in the Middle Ages, “their vocabulary and most likely their ability for abstract thought must have been very limited indeed. Travel for all but the most highly skilled master masons was a rare event so secret signs, grips and passwords would not be of much value; end even if they did travel from one building construction to another why would they need secret means of recognition?” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“A final check at Oxford’s Bodleian, one of the great libraries of the world, and I finally felt absolutely secure in stating that Freemasonry did not evolve from the medieval guilds of stonemasons in Britain because it would appear that there were no medieval guilds of stonemasons in Britain.” “The French-language roots of the lost words of Masonry indicate the strong possibility that the society was in existence in the first half of the fourteenth century...” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


Masonic expressions that Robinson said were derived from French language roots include:


Tyler: tailleur, “one who cuts” Cowan: couenne, “ignoramus” or “bumpkins” “From the affair of Jephthah, an Ephraimite was termed a cowan. In Egypt, cohen was the title of a priest or prince, and a term of honor. Bryant, speaking of the harpies, says, they were priests of the sun; and, as cohen was the name of a dog as well as a priest, they are termed by Apollonius ‘the dogs of Jove’. Now, St. John cautions the Christian brethren, that ‘without are dogs’, cowans or listeners (Rev. 22:15), and St. Paul exhorts the Christians to ‘beware of dogs, because they are evil workers’ (Phil. 3:2). Now, a dog, or evil worker, is the masonic cowan.” - Historical Landmarks, Vol 1. p. 349


Due guard (ID sign): geste du garde, “a protective gesture”


Lewis (son of a Mason): levees, “sprouts” or “scions”


Abiff: biffer, “to strike out or eliminate” (Hiram a Biffe, “Hiram who was eliminated”)


Jube: jube, “rood screen” - a place of penance or punishment (venir a Jube, “to get one’s just desserts)


Intrant (Entered Apprentice): entrant


The surviving members of the Knights Templars in England would have had to flee or hide to escape persecution and death.


“...We can find no fourteenth century precedent for any organization that consistently referred to fellow members as brothers [frere Macon], except for the various religious orders, which, of course, included the Knights of the Temple.” “An old charge of Masonry says that if a brother comes to you, give him ‘work’ for two weeks, then give him some money and direct him to the next lodge. Why the assumption that he will need money? Because he is running, and hiding. What he got was not the allegorical ‘work’, but actual lodging.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


“To all poor and distressed Masons, wherever dispersed over the face of Earth and Water, wishing them a speedy relief from all their sufferings, and a safe return to their native country; should they so desire it.” - “The Tyler’s Toast”


“All through the oaths and the Old Charges we see emerging a mutual aid and protection society, protecting men who could die if caught.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


“You have come to us bound, half-naked, and defenseless. You have no money with which to feed and lodge yourself, no armor to ward off the blows of your enemies, no weapons with which to defend yourself. “Take comfort from the fact that all of your brothers are sworn to help you. If you are naked, we will clothe you. If you are hungry, we will feed you. We will shelter and protect you from your enemies. We will keep your secrets. Your call for help will never go unanswered.” - Masonic initiation


Another Old Charge “says that a visitor brother is not to go ‘into the town’ unless accompanied by a local brother who can ‘witness’ for him (i.e., vouch for him to the local authorities, who had the right to arrest strangers of unknown business in the town).” “...In the initiation of the Master Mason of the third degree...he asks that his body be cut in two and his bowels burned to ashes should he break his oath of secrecy. Such a penalty would seen totally out of line for a broken oath taken by a stone cutting guild member, but would not have seemed to much to a man whose betrayal would mean days and weeks of torment with whips and chains and red-hot irons, with the ultimate risk of being burned alive at the stake.”


“There is no record of the seizure of eighteen Templar ships from their naval base at La Rochelle on the French coast, or of any Templar ships anchored in the Thames or at other seaports in Britain....Since many of the Templar ships were galleys, they were ideally suited for piracy, because becalmed ships were always easy prey for those that did not depend upon the wind.” “In the lecture that sums up the initiation of a new Master Mason, the newly admitted candidate is told that this degree ‘will make you a brother to pirates and corsairs.’ That statement makes no sense whatever in the context of a society descended from medieval stonemasons.”


“When the Templars processed around their circular churches they had only one way to move: in a circle, just as today’s Masons process in their ‘circumambulation’ of the lodge.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


“We can now be certain, without any shadow of doubt, that the staring place for Freemasonry was the construction of Rosslyn Chapel in the mid-fifteenth century; later historical developments confirm this view because the St Clair family of Rosslyn became the hereditary Grand Masters of the Crafts and Guilds and Orders of Scotland, and later held the post of the Master of Masons of Scotland until the late 1700s.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


William St Clair designed and built Rosslyn Chapel using the plans of Solomon’s Temple, and incorporating many Templar and Masonic motifs. Knight and Lomas speculate that the Chapel also contained a copy of the vaults at Solomon’s Temple and its hidden treasure.


“William St Clair had an obvious problem with security; the masons building his scroll shrine had to know the layout of the underground vault network and they knew that this strange building was to house something of great value.


“William St Clair was a brilliant and talented man and we believe that he devised the First Degree of Craft Masonry and the Mark Mason Degree to give his operative masons a code of conduct and an involvement in the secret, without telling them the great secret of living resurrection which was reserved for speculative Masons. It is a matter of record that he had two grades of stonemason on site; the 10 pounds-a-year standard masons (or apprentices) and the 40 pounds-a-year ‘mark masons’ who were honored by the possession of a personal mark in the continental fashion.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


Origins of Modern Freemasonry


(1) The Acception


“King James VI of Scotland (also later James I of England) was the only child of Mary Queen of Scots and the first king to rule both England and Scotland. He was also the first king known to be a Freemason, being initiated into the Lodge of Scots and Perth in 1601 at the age of thirty five.” “He made a leading Mason by the name of William Schaw his General Warden of the Craft and instructed him to improve the entire structure of Masonry. Schaw started this major project on 28 December 1598 when he issued ‘The statues and ordinances to be observed by all the master maissouns within this realme,’ signing himself as ‘the General Warden of the said craft’.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“The man who more than anyone else deserves the title of creator of modern Feemasonry was William Schaw. The younger son of a laird (landowner) with close connections with the court, Schaw developed a strong interest in architecture and in 1583 was appointed master of works by King James VI of Scotland.” - David Stevenson, The First Freemasons


“Schaw started this major project on 28 December 1598 when he issued ‘The statues and ordinances to be observed by all the master maissouns within this realme,’ signing himself as ‘the General Warden of the said craft’.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“As general warden and master of works Schaw issued two codes of statutes, in 1598 and 1599. In these he laid down regulations for the organization and practice of the mason craft through a system of ‘lodges’.” “At first sight is might seem that his statutes are solely concerned with the organization and regulation of the working lives of stonemasons....He was doing much more, reviving and developing Medieval masonic mythology and rituals in a Renaissance atmosphere.”


“Scotland’s early freemasons, it would appear, probably kept specific religious practices out of their lodges as to do otherwise would have been to confront the church with an attack on its monopoly of religion but as a later date the morality without religious worship of the lodges made freemasonry attractive to those developing tolerant or deistic attitudes.” - David Stevenson, The First Freemasons


Sir Francis Bacon, who became Solicitor-General under fellow Freemason James I of England, was a champion of inductive reasoning and has been described as “the father of modern science”.


“It is highly likely that Brother Bacon was the driving force behind the styling of the new second degree introduced by his close colleague William Schaw.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“In Scotland there is a wealth of evidence for the existence of operative lodges organized on a geographical basis and backed up by statue law. From the early 1600s there are also many documented examples of the introduction of non-operatives into Scottish operative lodges. There is not, however, any evidence that these non-operative members in any way altered the nature or workings of Scottish operative lodges until very late in the seventeenth century, by which time accepted Masonry was well established in England. All the evidence suggests that accepted Masonry emerged in England and spread from there to Scotland.”


“The legend of the Commacine Masters...stated that the masons of the Como area of Northern Italy were so renowned and had such recondite secrets to impart to their operatives that they were formed into an Order by a -non-existent- Papal Bull and ordered to travel Europe sharing their skills and ‘mystery’. Evidence of their actual existence is singularly lacking. The traditions and records of the German Steinmezen and French Compagnonage were diligently searched for traces of a speculative element, but none was found. The evidence comes back all the time to the appearance of non-operative masonry in England in the seventeenth century.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


“By the seventeenth century, as the number and stature of masons grew, some lodges had begun to admit honorary members who were not stoneworkers. The London Masons’ Company founded the Acception, a parallel organization for that purpose, in 1619. It took in as ‘accepted Masons’ men who did not belong to the company but who were willing to pay double the initiation fee.” - “Freemasons; Mortar and Mysticism”, Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“...Elias Ashmole was one of the first recorded inductees into the Freemasons, but the actual first recorded induction was Dr. Robert Moray in Edinburgh in 1641. Both Ashmole and Moray were founding members of the British Royal Society.” - Gerry Rose ,”The Venetian Takeover of England and Its Creation of Freemasonry”


Ashmole was an admirer of the Knights Templars. Even after their trial, the Templars were


“ a noble Order, no less famous for martial achievements in the east, than their wealthy possessions in the west...Which gave occasion to many sober men to judge, that their wealth was their greatest crime.” - Elias Ashmole, Institutions, Laws and Ceremonies of the most noble Order of the Garter (1672)


“Masonry became so fashionable that as the seventeenth century progressed the ‘acceptance’ (the collective term for non-stonemasons) became the majority in the masonic Lodges. For example, in 1670, the Aberdeen Lodge had thirty-nine ‘accepted’ members while only ten remained ‘operative’ masons.” In England, “one thing united a majority of politically conscious people at this time: the need to preserve the gain of the Civil War of 1642-51 - the limitation of the power of the King.”


“Much was eaten much was drunk, and much was discussed in the privacy of masonic meeting placed (usually taverns) after the rather dry formal doings in Lodge were over. The ‘better’ the Lodge - in the sense of social class - the ‘better’ the conversation and the more lavish and expensive the entertainment....The sights of its prime movers were already set on a movement underpinning a type of society admirably suited to its purposes: a stable society with limited social mobility in which a secret inner ‘Old Boy’ association could provide an environment where considerable benefit could be gained by members who knew how to ‘play the masonic organ’” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


“A Mason’s life’s the life for me,
With joy we meet each other,
We pass our time with mirth and glee,
And hail each friendly brother:
In lodge no party-feuds are seen,
But careful we in this agree,
To banish care or spleen.
The Master’s call, we one and all
With pleasure soon obey;
With heart and hand we ready stand,
Our duty still to pay.
But when the glass goes round,
Then mirth and glee about,
We’re all happy to a man;
We laugh a little, we drink a little,
We work a little, we play a little.”




“Th’ Almighty said, ‘Let there be light,’
Effulgent rays appearing.
Dispell’d the gloom, the glory bright
To this new world was cheering;
But unto Masonry alone,
Another light, so clear and bright,
In mystic rays then shone;
From east to west it spread so fast,
That, Faith and Hope unfurl’d,
We hail with joy sweet Charity,
The darling of the world.
Then while the toast goes round,
Then mirth and glee about,
Let’s be happy to a man;
We’ll laugh a little, we’ll drink a little,
We’ll work a little, and play a little.”
- from J. Bisset, “Song XXX” in William Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


(2) The Invisible College


“We can be sure that the Royal society germinated from the hothouse of thinking that was released by Bacon’s definition of the Second Degree of Freemasonry well before people such as Ashmole and Wilkins pierced it all back together after the traumas of the Civil War.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“We date the formation [of the British Royal Society] earlier than was previously thought. There was a series of meetings in England in 1640. This is an important year because it was the beginning of the Long Parliament. Comenius and Samuel Hartlib were involved. Comenius was originally from Bohemia, and was in the Palatinate during the fateful Rosecrucian years, along with the Englishman Samuel Hartlib, with whom he was in close contact. With the defeat of the Palatinate they both, through different routes, end up in England. When the Long Parliament started, there was another outburst of ecstatic literature [following the dissemination of Rosecrucian pamphlets]. One piece written by Hartlib in 1640, “A Description of the Famous Kingdom of Macaria,” is a utopian work addressed to the attention of the Long Parliament. A year later, Comenius wrote ‘The Way of Light’. They call for an ‘Invisible College’, which is a Rosicrucian code name.”


“Now the plot thickens. In 1645, a meeting takes place for a discussion of the natural sciences. Present at the meeting are Mr. Theodore Haak from the Palatinate and Dr. John Wilkins, who at the time was the chaplain to the elector of Palatine. Wilkins was the man behind the Oxford meetings which become, in 1660, the British Royal Society. Another founder of the Royal Society was Robert Boyle, who in letters in 1646, refers to, again, an invisible college. John Wilkins writes a book in 1648 called Mathematical Magic, in which he explicitly mentions the Rosy Cross and pays homage to occultists Robert Fludd and John Dee.


“The key to the actual Rosicrucian tradition in the British Royal Society is Elias Ashmole. He was unabashedly a Rosicrucian and in 1654 wrote a letter to ask the ‘Rosicrucians to allow him to join their fraternity’. His scientific works were a defense of John Dee’s work, in particular Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphicas, and the Theatrum Chemicum Britanicum of 1652. This is a compilation of all the alchemical writings by English authors. In the opening of this work he praises a mythical event in which a brother of the Rosy Cross cures the Earl of Norfolk of leprosy.


“Ashmole was one of the official founding members of the British Royal Society. The other major, explicitly Rosicrucian figure was Isaac Newton. He had copies of both the ‘Fama’ and the ‘Confessio” in his possession, and the book compiled by Ashmole, The Theatrum, was Newton’s bible. Also...Newton had a series of papers on the book of Daniel calculating the end times.”


“Historian Frances Yates, in her book The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, in a chapter entitled ‘Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry’, quotes one De Quincey, who states, ‘Freemasonry is neither more nor less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it in England, whence it was re-exported to the other countries of Europe’. De Quincey states that Robert Fludd was the person most responsible for bringing Rosicrucianism to England and giving it its new name. What is fascinating is that Elias Ashmole was one of the first recorded inductees into the Freemasons, but the actual first recorded induction was Dr. Robert Moray in Edinburgh in 1641. Both Ashmole and Moray were founding members of the British Royal Society.” - Gerry Rose, “The Venetian Takeover of England and Its Creation of Freemasonry”


“Men of science in London, Oxford, and Cambridge met in secret in what has been termed an ‘invisible college’, which now appears to have existed in secret Masonic lodges in those areas. Their first secret meeting was held in 1645, just three years after the death of Galileo. By 1660, the group felt secure enough in the apparently Protestant reign of Charles II to petition the crown for a royal charter, which was granted in 1662. The name they chose was The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge...” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


“While there are many stories about the ancient origins of the Freemasons, here is an announcement for one of their meetings in 1676: ‘To give notice that the Modern Green-ribboned Cabal, together with the ancient brotherhood of the Rosy Cross: the Hermetic Adepti and the company of Accepted Masons....’ It is interesting to note how clear the tradition is.” - Gerry Rose, “The Venetian Takeover of England and Its Creation of Freemasonry”


“When Freemasonry came public in 1717...it appeared that the Royal Society was virtually a Masonic subsidiary, with almost every member and every founding member of the Royal Society a Freemason.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


(3) The New Grand Lodge System


“The new Grand Lodge system established at the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in 1717 consisted at first of only one level (degree) of initiation. Within five years of the Lodge’s founding, two additional degrees were added so that the system consisted of three steps: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. These steps are commonly called the ‘Blue Degrees’ because the color blue is symbolically important in them.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


For a descripton of the initiation rites into the three degrees, click here.


“We believe that the current content of the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry was already present in just two degrees prior to Schaw’s reorganization that inserted an extra level of speculative masonry in between Entered Apprentice and Master Mason (which was originally known as the Master’s Part). This new degree was introduced and designated the Fellow Craft, derived we think from the fact that these masons were not workers in stone but workers in the ‘fellow craft’ of speculative masonry. We are now sure that this degree was a development of the Mark Mason degree (and not the other way around as most Masons believe).” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


The “Scottish operative lodges began in the seventeenth century to admit non-operative members as accepted or gentleman masons and that by the early eighteenth century in some lodges the accepted or gentleman masons had gained the ascendancy: those lodges became, in turn speculative lodges, whilst others continued their purely operative nature. The speculative lodges eventually combined to form the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


“The ‘craft’ of Freemasonry was one of the more extraordinary manifestations of the Age of Reason, typical of its time not only because it stood for rationalism, deism, and benevolence, but also because of the ambiguity which turned one side of its affairs from rationality to mystery. It was in one way an emanation of that most British of institutions, the club. It took shape during the first three decades of the eighteenth century, and reflected the tolerance and the confidence of Hanoverian England. Its ideology, founded on the metaphors of the architecture of the universe and the building of the Temple, was deist and non-confessional. The Freemason obliged himself to submit to the civil power, whose benevolent nature was assumed; this optimism was typical of British Whig self-assurance. The Mason asserted a non-clerical ethos, and a middlebrow and commonsensical attitude to life. He claimed to be instructed and enlightened, but he did not set up to be learned; this distinguished his society from those of the contemporary ‘academies’.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


“Toward the end of the 1730s, there were lodges in Belgium, Russia, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. But it seemed to have a special appeal in France, partly because of the rage then current there for all things British. In 1735, there five Masonic lodges in Paris; by 1742, the number was twenty-two. Some forty-five years later, on the eve of the French Revolution, there were perhaps 100,000 Masons in France.” - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“By 1730 when the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk was installed (prior to the first papal condemnation of Freemasonry in 1738), there had been nine Grand Masters, six of them nobles. The first royal Grand Master was the Duke of Cumberland, younger son of George II, who was installed in 1782, with an Acting Grand Master, the Earl of Effingham as his proxy. In 1787 both the Prince of Wales (the future George IV) and his brother William (the future William IV) were initiated. The patronage by the Royal Family of the new secret society was thenceforth assured. Queen Elizabeth II is the present Grand Patroness.” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood




Wooden Tracing Board hand-painted by J. Bowring, 1879


“Tracing Boards are training devices using symbols of the Renaissance classical revival assembled into integrated images. The First Degree Board sets out the general Western metaphysical scheme and shows the place of the human individual within it.”


“The Second Degree Board [depicted above] is a symbolic representation of the individual in greater detail. Here Jacob’s Ladder had become a winding (spiral) stair leading to the interior of the Temple.”


“The Third Degree Board alludes to a process, analogous to death, by which the individual can, if it be God’s will, transcend the limitations of ordinary human life and realize a richer interior potential.” - W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


Masonic Beliefs and Practices


Initiation Into the Lodge


(1) The Symbolism of the Lodge


As the candidate “progresses through the ceremonies he learns that at the building of King Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem the skilled masons were divided into two classes, Apprentices and Fellows; that they were presided over by three Grand masters (King Solomon, Hiram King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff) who shared certain secrets known only to them; that these secrets were lost by the murder of Hiram Abiff - a result of his refusal to divulge the secrets - and that certain substituted secrets were adopted ‘until time or circumstance should restore the former’. The implication in the ritual is that Freemasonry was already established in Solomon’s time and has continued as an unchanged system since them. The ritual, however, as the candidate quickly realizes, is not literal or historical truth but a dramatic allegory by means of which the principles and tenets of the Craft are handed down.” - John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry


“While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual ‘operative’ work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet ‘on the level’, meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools.” - Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2


“The purpose of Masonry is to train a human being so that he will reconstuct, through the body of change and death which he now has, a perfect physcial body which shall not be subject to death. The plan is to build this deathless body, called by modern masons Solomon’s Temple, out of material in the physical body, which is called the ruins of Solomon’s Temple.” - Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of ‘Thinking and Destiny’


“And since sin has destroyed within us the first temple of purity and innocence, may they heavenly grace guide and assist us in rebuilding a second temple of reformation, and may the glory of this latter house be greater than the glory of the former.” - Masonic prayer


“The lodge as a room or hall is an oblong square, which is a half of a perfect square, and which is inside or outside the lower half of a circle. Each lodge meets in the same room, alike furnished, but the lodge working in the Apprentice degree is styled the Ground Floor, the lodge working the Fellow Craft degree is called the Middle Chamber, and the lodge working the Master degree is called the Sanctum Sanctorum, all in King Solomon’s Temple.” - Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of ‘Thinking and Destiny’


“Q. Where were you made a Mason?


A. In the body of a Lodge, just, perfect and regular.


Q. And when?


A. When the sun was at its meridian.


Q. As in this country Freemasons’ Lodges are usually held and candidates initiated at night, how do you reconcile that which at first sight appears a paradox?


A. The sun being a fixed body and the earth continually revolving about the same on its own axis and Freemasonry being a universal science, diffused throughout the hole of the inhabited globe, it necessarily follows that the sun must always be at its meridian with respect to Freemasonry.” - Masonic ritual


“Freemasons today claim always to meet symbolically at noon on the basis that Freemasonry is a worldwide organisation and therefore ‘the sun is always at its meridian with respect to Freemasonry’. Masonic reference to God as ‘the most high’ is therefore a description of Re, the sun god in his ultimate position, the zenith of the heavens at noon. - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


(2) First Degree - Entered Apprentice Freemason


The working tools of an Entered Apprentice are the gauge and the mallet.


“When the Candidate is first admitted into a Masonic Lodge his condition as an Entered Apprentice is represented by the Rough Ashlar, the first of a set of three symbols which the Craft calls the Three Immovable Jewels. An ashlar is a building stone; a rough ashlar is a stone which has not yet been shaped into the form required by ts place in the structure.” Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


“...The perfect ashler is also a stone, made ready by the working-tools of the fellow craft, to be adjusted in the building; and the trestle-board is for the master workman to draw his plans and designs upon.” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


“The material which makes up the First Degree encourages the Candidate to take such a deep look at himself and the workings of his psyche, and it is for this reason that one must ask to become a Mason. No one should b persuaded to assume that sort of responsibility until he feels he is ready for it.” - W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


The initiation to the first degree begins when the candidate is brought before the entrance to the temple and the guard hits the door with the hilt of his sword.


“I was hoodwinked (that is, blindfolded) and dressed in loose-fitting white trousers and top. One foot was in a simple slipper (the expression for this is ‘slipshod’), my left leg was exposed to the knee, and the left breast of the tunic had been drawn aside so that my chest was bared on that side. Unbeknown to me a hangman’s noose had been put around my neck and draped down my back. I had been relieved of all metal objects and I was not ready to be lead into the Temple. (We later learnt that this mode of dress, the rough smock with the running noose about the neck, was exactly how a medieval heretic would have been treated by the Inquisition prior to making his confession.)” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


The candidate is questioned with a knife blade pressed to his throat about his eligibility and whether his motives in joining are worthy. After a short prayer, the candidate is lead three times around the perimeter, pausing on each lap to be introduced as a “poor candidate in a state of darkness”. In the coronation of an Egyptian pharaoh, too, the new king is conducted around the Temple to show himself worthy . The candidate is then brought before the Worshipful Master’s pedestal:


“Q. How were you prepared?


A. By being divested of all metals, neither naked nor clothed, barefoot nor shod, hoodwinked, with a cable-tow around my neck; in which condition I was conducted to the door of a Lodge by a friend, whom I afterward found to be a brother.


Q. How did you know it to be a door, being hoodwinked?


A. By first meeting with resistance, afterward gaining admission


Q. How gained you admission?


A. By three distinct knocks.


Q. What were said to you from within?


A. Who comes here?


Q. Your answer?


A. Mr -----. who has long been in darkness, and now seeks to be brought to light, and to receive a part in the rights and benefits of this worshipful Lodge, erected to God, and dedicated to the holy Sts. John [John the Baptist and John the Evangelist], as all brothers and fellows have done before.” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


The abbreviated modern version goes:


Q. Having been in a state of darkness, what is the predominant wish of your heart?


The answer is whispered into the candidate’s ear.


A. Light.


Q. Then let that blessing be restored.


The blindfold is removed and the “lights” of Freemasonry revealed - the Volume of the Sacred Law (the Bible), the Square and the Compass. The secret signs, grips and password of the first degree are explained, as well as the meaning of Boaz, the left-hand pillar in the Porchway of Solomon’s Temple. The candidate is then presented with a white lambskin apron “more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle”. Throughout the ceremony Apprentice is taught moral virtues based on architectural analogies. At the conclusion, as in each degree, is a celebratory dinner with much toasting, speeches and singing.


(3) Second Degree - Fellowcraft Mason


The working tools of a Fellow Craft are the plumb, the square and the level. The candidate is admitted to the Temple in the same garb as he wore during the First Degree. He then has to recite memorized answers to a series of questions, including:


Q. What is Freemasonry?


A. A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.


Q. What are the three grand principles upon which Freemasonry is founded?


A. Brotherly love, relief and truth. - Masonic ritual


“In the Second Degree ceremony the candidate is asked, ‘What are the peculiar objects of research in this degree?’ The answer he is required to give is: ‘The hidden mysteries of nature and science.’ On completion of the making of the new Fellow Craft he is told: ‘You are now expected to make the liberal arts and sciences your future study’.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


Again the candidate is conducted around the Temple, new signs and passwords revealed, and a white apron with two rosettes. This time he learns the meaning of the right hand pillar of Solomon’s Temple, “Jachin” and is permitted to extend his “researches into the hidden mysteries of science and nature”.


“The Second or ‘Fellowcraft’ Degree of Freemasonry gives very little knowledge to the candidate but it does introduce the idea of ‘hidden mysteries of nature and science’ and makes a clear reference to what is called the ‘Galilean Heresy’.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


(4) The Third Degree - Master Mason


The working tool of a Master Mason is the trowel, which spreads the cement and completes the work of the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft. The candidate first must pass a series of test question before he is given a password to enter the temple which is in total darkness. The ceremony begins with a brief review of the other degrees and the candidate is told:


“But the Third Degree is the cement of the whole; it is calculated to bind men together by mystic points of fellowship, as in a bond of fraternal affection and brotherly love; it points to the darkness of death and to the obscurity of the grave as a forerunner of a more brilliant light, which shall follow at the resurrection of the just, when these mortal bodies which have been long slumbering in the dust shall be awakened, reunited with their kindred spirit, and clothed with immortality...” - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal


“The candidate after this is prepared, blindfolded and tied with cable-tow around his waist, enters the lodge. He is received on both points of the compass, pressed against his breast.” - Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of ‘Thinking and Destiny’


After a prayer and a ceremony resembling the first two degrees, the Worshipful Master tells the story of Master Hiram Abiff, said to have been the “principle architect” of Solomon’s Temple.


“Wither our Master Hiram Abif had retired to pay his adoration to the Most High, as was his wonton custom, it being the hour of high twelve.” - Masonic Ritual


“According to Masonic tradition Hiram was murdered by three of his assistants [Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum] soon after he had completed the bronzework of the Temple [of Solomon]. And this event was for some reason regarded as so laden with meaning that is was commemorated in the initiation ceremonies for Master masons - in which each initiate was required to play the role of the murder victim.” - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal


Refusing to divulge the secrets of his craft, Hiram receives a violent blow on his forehead which drops him to his left knee. At that point in the story, the candidate receives a light blow to his temples and is pressed to the ground by two deacons to his left knee. The story where Hiram seeks to escape by the west gate and is struck with another blow. The candidate goes down on his right knee.


At the east gate, the third ruffian “struck him a violent blow full in the center of the forehead with a heavy stone maul, which laid him lifeless at his feet. Such was he manner of his death.” “In the light of the candle I saw the Worshipful Master reach forward over his pedestal with an instrument which touched my forehead and I felt many hands pulling me backwards to the floor. I was held straight and my feet were kept in place, so that I hinged backwards as I swung into the darkness. As I touched he ground a funeral shroud was immediately draped around me, so only my upper face was uncovered.” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“Blindfolded on the ground, the initiate hears the three murderers decide to bury him in a pile of rubble until ‘low twelve’ (midnight), when they will carry the body away from the Temple. To symbolize the burial of Hiram Abiff, the candidate is wrapped in a blanket and carried to the side of the room. Soon he hears a bell strike twelve times and is carried from the ‘rubble’ grave to a grave dug on the brow of a hill ‘west of Mount Moriah’ (the Temple Mount). He hears the murderers agree to mark his grave with a sprig of acacia, then set out to escape to Ethiopia across the Red Sea.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


The Junior Warden attempts to raise the candidate from his “grave” using the grip of an Entered Apprentice, but fails. The Senior Warden then is told to try using the Fellowcraft grip which is equally ineffectual. Finally, the Worshipful Master himself grips the candidate tightly using the “Lion’s Paw” or “Eagle’s Claw” grip and pulls the candidate immediately to his feet.


“As I reached the vertical position the Worshipful Master whispered two peculiar words in my ear.”


“Ma’at-neb-men-aa, Ma’at-ba-aa.”


“...These words are pure Egyptian” meaning:


“Great is the established Master of Freemasonry [Ma’at], Great is the Spirit of Freemasonry [Ma’at].” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


Ma’at means righteousness, truth, and justice within a level and ordered symmetrical scheme and cannot be properly translated into English. Knight and Lomas have chosen “Freemasonry” as the closest equivalent meaning.


The Worshipful Master continues:


“...You will perceive that you stand on the very brink of the grave into which you have just figuratively descended, and which, when this transitory life shall have passed away, will again receive you into its cold bosom.”


The candidate’s gaze is directed down in the darkness to an open grave. Inside are a human skull on a pair of crossed thighbones. The candidate is then told:


“...Even in this perishable frame, there resides a vital and immortal principle, which inspires a holy confidence, that the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the King of Terrors beneath our feet, and lift our eyes to that bright morning star whose rising brings peace and tranquillity to the faithful and obedient of the human race.”


The Worshipful Master indicates a small illuminated star to the east of the candidate.


“He takes the three steps to the altar where he kneels for the third time, rests his hands on the Bible, square and compass, and takes the obligation of a Master Mason. He asks for further light in Masonry. He is brought to light by the Master of the lodge, and hoodwink and cable-tow removed. Thus he sees that both points of the compass are above the square. This is a symbol that with one who has reached this degree both aspects of the Thinker are operative above feeling-and-desire because feeling-and-desire have put themselves under the guidance of the Thinker. He receives the pass and grip of a Master Mason and wears his apron as a Master Mason, that is, with the flap and all corners down.” - Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of ‘Thinking and Destiny’


Traditions from the Ancients


(1) The Murder of Hiram Abiff


“The legend of the Master-Builder [Hiram Abiff] is the great allegory of Masonry. It happens that his figurative story is grounded on the fact of a personality mentioned in Holy Scripture, but this historical background is of the accidents and not the essence; the significance is in the allegory and not in any point of history which may lie behind it.” - A.E. Waite, New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


The legend of Hiram Abiff is closely tied to the origins of German Templarism.


“Some of these seventeenth-century manuscripts [preserving the ‘Old Charges’] do not refer to Hiram Abif, which has led some to believe that the character was an invention of this relatively recent period. However, the name Hiram Abif was only one designation for this central figure; he is also referred to as Aymon, Aymen, Amnon, A Man or Amen and sometimes Bennaim. It is said that Amen is said to be the Hebrew word for ‘the trusted one’ or ‘the faithful one’, which fits the role of Hiram Abif perfectly. But we also know that Amon or Amen is the name of the ancient creator god of Thebes, the city of Sequenere Tao II. Could there be an ancient linkage here?” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“To the initiated Builder the name Hiram Abiff signifies ‘My Father, the Universal Spirit, one in essence, three in aspect.’ Thus the murdered Master is a type of the Cosmic Martyr - the crucified Spirit of Good, the dying god - whose Mystery is celebrated throughout the world.”


“The efforts made to discover the origin of the Hiramic legend show that, while the legend in its present form is comparatively modern, its underlying principles run back to remotest antiquity. It is generally admitted by modern Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred Hiram is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris, whose death and resurrection figuratively portrayed the spiritual death of man and his regeneration through initiation into the Mysteries. Hiram is also identified with Hermes through the inscription on the Emerald Tablet.” - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy


“According to scripture, Hiram was not an architect but a master worker in brass and bronze. He was not murdered but lived to see the temple completed and then went back to his home.” - Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge


“The only reasonable explanation that we had come across regarding the actual name of the Masonic hero was that Hiram meant ‘noble’ or ‘kingly’ in Hebrew, while Abif has been identified as old French for ‘lost one’, giving a literal description of ‘the king that was lost’.” - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


Knight and Lomas advance the theory that Hiram Abif was actually Sequenere Tao II, the true Egyptian king who lived at Thebes, four hundred miles south of the Hyksos capital at Avaris, near the end of Hyksos rule. Sequenere was the “new king over Egypt, that knew not Joseph”, who was vizier around 1570 B.C.E. Apophis, they speculate, wanted to know the secret rites of Horus, which allowed the pharaohs in death to become Osiris and live eternally as a star. Apophis sent henchmen to extract the information from Sequenere, but he died from violent blows on the head rather than divulge anything. The identification of Hiram Abif as Sequenere is based on the skull of the mummy, which appears to have been smashed by three sharp blows, similar to those dealt Hiram Abif. And the killers described in Masonic lore as the Juwes? Knight and Lomas suggest that they were two of Joseph’s estranged brothers, Simeon and Levi, assisted by a young Thebian priest. As evidence, Knight and Lomas point to a mummy found alongside that of Sequenere. The unembalmed body was that of a young man who died with his genitals cut off and his face contorted in agony. Was he buried alive in punishment for his crime?


“Masonic ritual refers to Hiram Abif as the ‘Son of the Widow’...In Egyptian legend the first Horus was uniquely conceived after his father’s death and therefore his mother was a widow even before his conception. It seemed logical therefore that all those who thereafter became Horus, i.e. the kings of Egypt, would also describe themselves as ‘Son of the Widow’.” [See Isis, the Black Virgin for more information.] - Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


(2) Symbolism from the Mysteries


“In the late 18th and early 19th centuries many Europeans, Masons among them, found their way to the Middle East, where they discovered the relics of those cultures which had practiced the Ancient Mysteries. Masons with a philosophical turn of mind recognized the similarities between their Order and the ancient traditions. The similar symbolism, some of which, like the ladder from a Temple of Mithras, is shared with Masonry, encouraged the idea of Freemasonry’s direct connection with those ancient rites.”


“Although there is evidence for a generic connection between the Craft and the Ancient Mysteries, there is no explanation of how the material might have been transmitted or how the tradition could remain hidden through the rigors of the Dark Ages and the probing of the Inquisition.” - W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


“Masonry...conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect, and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve to be misled; to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it.” - General Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma


A brief note about Albert Pike is in order. Pike (1809-91) was a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War who was almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the modern form of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Wealthy, well read and possessing an extensive library, he served as Grand Commander of the order from 1859 until his death and wrote a number of books on history, philosophy and travel, the most famous being Morals and Dogma. Outside of the perhaps half a million members of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, most masons have never read Pike’s work. Pike is often criticized by fellow masons who charge that his mystical and often controversial views have provided ample ammunition for enemies of Freemasonry.


“‘Let there be light!’ - the Almighty spoke,


Refulgent streams from chaos broke,


To illume the rising earth!


Well pleas’d the Great Jehovah flood -


The Power Supreme pronounc’d it good,


And gave the planets birth!


In choral numbers Masons join,


To bless and praise this light divine.”


- from “Anthem III” in William Preston’s Illustrations of Masonry (1804)


(3) The Architect of the Universe


“According to Professor Cornford [of the Royal College of Art], every old master painting he had investigated conformed to ‘fairly straightforward geometric and/or arithmetic subdivisions of the rectangle’. There were two basic types of system - one ‘was based on the account of the creation given in Plato’s Timaeus, and was published by Alberti in his Ten Books on Achitecture (Florence, 1485). It proceeds by calculation as much as by construction using instruments, and it had great appeal in the High Renaissance and its aftermath, since it both dissociated art and architecture from the old, manual masonic tradition of mediaeval times, and associated them with humanist scholarship. Moreover the number system used was a kind of invocation of the divine inasmuch as the building or painting became a microcosmic rehearsal of the primal act of creation.”


“The other type of system was the masonic-geometric. According to Professor Cornford, this was ‘incomparably the older of the two, indeed it seems to have been known to the Ancient Egyptians and to our own megalithic culture. It survived, often surrounded by an atmosphere of craft (if not cult) secrecy, until Alberti’s time, and subsequently went into eclipse...” - Henry Lincoln, The Holy Place


“One who would walk in the Way of the Craftsman must do one thing more. He must remember, always, that he is building a temple to God. He is building an edifice in conciousness in which he, himself, is an individual stone. In time, each human being will square his stone and place it in that temple, and when that temple is complete, God will behold God in the Mirror of Existence and there will be then, as there was at the beginning, only God.” - W. Kirk MacNulty, The Way of the Craftsman


“The ancient Mysteries did not cease to exist when Christianity became the world’s most powerful religion. Great Pan did not die! Freemasonry is the proof of his survival. The pre-Christian Mysteries simply assumed the symbolism of the new faith, perpetuating through its emblems and allegories the same truths which had been the property of the wise since the beginning of the world. There is no true explanation, therefore, for Christian symbols save that which is concealed within pagan philosophy. Without the mysterious keys carried by the hierophants of the Egyptian, Brahmin, and Persian cults the gates of Wisdom cannot be opened.” - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy


“For he (God) is the Builder and Architect of the Temple of the universe; He is the Verbum Sapienti.” - Yost, i, 411


“In Plato’s Timaeus, there appears the earliest known equation of the Creator with the ‘Architect of the Universe’. The Creator, in the Timaeus, is called ‘tekton’, meaning ‘craftsman’ or ‘builder’. ‘Arche-tekton’ thus denoted ‘master craftsman’ or ‘master builder’. For Plato, the ‘arche-tekton’ crafted the cosmos by means of geometry.” - Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge


“Although Freemasonry require each of its Candidates to confirm his belief in God, it does not expand on the subject but leaves religion and its practice to the individual Mason. As a result, men of all religious persuasions have been able to join in the study of Freemasonry’s moral and philosophical principles.” - W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


(4) Thoth and Enoch


“In ancient Egypt, the engineers, draftsmen, and masons who worked on the big architectural projects were accorded a special status. They were organized into elite guilds...”


“Evidence of the existence of these special guilds was uncovered by archaeologist Petrie during his expeditions to the Libyan desert in 1888 and 1889. In the ruins of a city built around 300 BC, Dr. Petrie’s expedition uncovered a number of papyrus records. One set described a guild that held secret meetings around the year 2000 BC. The guild met to discuss working hours, wages, and rules for daily labor. It convened in a chapel and provided relief to widows, orphans, and workers in distress. The organizational duties described in the papyri are very similar to those of ‘Warden’ and ‘Master’ in a modern branch of...Freemasonry. - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


“I am the great God in the divine boat...I am a simple priest in the underworld anointing in Abydos, elevating to higher degrees of initiation...I am Grand Master of the craftsmen who set up the sacred arch for a support.” - Thoth to Osiris, The Egyptian Book of the Dead


“According to a very old Masonic tradition, the Egyptian god Thoth “had played a major part in preserving knowledge of the mason craft and transmitting it to mankind after the flood....” - David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry


“...The author of a well researched academic study [The Origins of Freemasonry]...went so far as to say that, in their early days, the Masons had regarded Thoth as their patron.”


“...The Book of Enoch has always been of great significance to Freemasons, and...certain rituals dating back to long before Bruce’s time [1730-1794] identified Enoch himself with Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom.” In the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia is an entry ‘that Enoch was the inventor of writing’, ‘that he taught men the art of building’, and that, before the flood, he ‘feared that the real secrets would be lost - to prevent which he concealed the grand Secret, engraven on a white oriental porphyry stone, in the bowels of the earth’.” - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal


Masonic Ceremonies and Regalia


(1) Ceremonial Aprons


“Egyptian hieroglyphics depict their extraterrestrial ‘gods’ wearing aprons. The priests of ancient Egypt wore similar aprons as a sign of their allegiance to the ‘gods’ and as a badge of their authority.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


Egyptian “priests were not permitted to wear wool, since wool came from animals, and animals obviously were unclean. They wore only fine linen, stored in special rooms of the temples and cared for by other priests whose function it was to assure their cleanliness.” - Bob Brier, Ancient Egyptian Magic


“The earliest ceremonial aprons appear to have been simple and unadorned. As time went on, mystical symbols and other decorations were added. Perhaps the most significant change to the apron occurred during the reign of the powerful Canaanite priest-king, Melchizedek, who had achieved a very high status in the Bible. Melchizedek presided over an elite branch...the Melchizedek Priesthood. Beginning around the year 2200 BC, the Melchizedek Priesthood began to make its ceremonial aprons out of white lambskin. White lambskin was eventually adopted by the Freemasons who have used it for their aprons ever since.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


The Worshipful Master “presented me with a lambskin or white linen apron which he informed me was an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason; that it had bee worn by kings, princes, and potentates of the earth; that it was more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honorable than the Star or Garter, or any other order that could be conferred on me at that or any time thereafter by king, prince, potentate, or any other person, except be he a Mason...” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


“In ancient Masonry, the Masonic apron was an untrimmed white lambskin tied around the waist. This lambskin has been proclaimed by Masonry to be a badge of innocence and purity...”


“The Templar Rule forbade any personal decoration except sheepskin, and further required that the Templar wear a sheepskin girdle about his waist at all times as a reminder of his now of chastity, a context within which purity and innocence are vital...” - W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


(2) The York Rite


The York Rite, like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Masonry, and confers degrees beyond the Blue Lodge’s three degrees. It consists of nine degrees additional degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.


“The Temple degrees, which comprise the top degrees of the York Rite are specifically Christian. Or at least, it can be stated that the oath is: in some Grand Lodges in the US and abroad, one need not be a Christian, but rather only be willing to take a Christian OATH. The difference here is that there are some who would willingly swear to defend the Christian faith on the grounds that they would defend any man’s faith. The Chapter (or Royal Arch) and Council Of Royal And Select Masters (Cryptic Rite), which comprise the first two sections of the York Rite, are not specifically Christian.” - Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2


“The York Rite Mason progresses through a series of degrees that culminate in his being made a Masonic Knight Templar. The York Rite Templar commanderies in the United states alone claim over a quarter of a million members. They maintain a national foundation for research into eye diseases of children; and fund cataract surgery for the financially disabled.” - John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)


(3) Royal Arch


“The Master Mason who wants to be ‘exalted to the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’ must fist prove himself by answering the text questions of the Craft Third Degree before he is given a grip and a password (the meaning of which is ‘my people having obtained mercy’) to allow him to enter. The candidate wears his Master Mason’s apron and is blindfolded with a length of rope tied about his waist.” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


In the ritual of the Royal Arch, or Seventh Degree, the candidate re-enacts the excavation of the first temple of Solomon. In the first part of the ceremony he must search in darkness until he finds a vellum scroll. The candidate is then readmitted with two other Companions playing the parts of the three Master Masons of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.


“As they enter they take part in a ceremony known as Passing the Veils, which represents a Priest of the Temple approaching the Holy of Holies of the Temple of Solomon.” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


The three sojourners, freed from captivity in Babylon, offer their services to Zerubbabel to help rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. They are assigned the lowly job of repairing the foundation.


“The whole narrative is told as though those conducting the excavation were Jews from Babylon digging in the ruins of the first Temple, but we believe it is actually describing the discoveries of the Knights Templar at the site of the last Temple. It can only refer to the ruins of Herod’s Temple because the type of arch described in the ceremony is an arrangement of stones supporting each other in compression to form a curved load-bearing structure which was unknown at the time of Zerubbabel. The curved arch employed wedge-shaped, precisely cut stones requiring little or no mortar, and since it is that type of arch with three keystones which plays such a prominent part of the Royal Arch ceremony, it is absolutely certain that the setting of the story re-enacted in the ritual is Herod’s Temple, which was constructed using Roman engineering principles.” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


In the next part of the ceremony, the three masons return and discover the keystone of the principal arch of King Solomon’s Temple and the master’s jewels. The account continues as they are questioned by the First Principal:


“A. We repaired to the place as before, which I descended as before. The sun shone forth with such redoubled splendor that I was enabled to descend; in the eastern-most part thereof was a trunk of curious form, overlaid with gold, having on the top and sides certain mysterious characters; availing myself of this I gave the signal and ascended; on arriving at the top of the arch I found my hands involuntarily placed in this position to guard my eyes from the intense light and heat that arose therefrom above; with the trunk we repaired to the Grand Council.


Q. What was their opinion of the trunk?


A. That it was the Ark of the Covenant.


Q. What were its contents?


A. A pot, a rod, and a book.


Q. What was their opinion of the pot?


A. That it was the pot of manna, which Moses by divine command, laid up in the side of the ark as a memorial of the miraculous manner in which the children of Israel were supplied with that article of food for forty years in the wilderness.


Q. What was their opinion of the rod?


A. That it was Aaron’s rod, that budded and blossomed, and bore fruit in a day, which Moses also, by divine command, laid in the side of the ark as a testimony, to be kept for a token.


Q. What was their opinion of the book?


A. That it was the book of the law in which it was written, I am the Lord, I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my great and sacred name was I not know unto them.


Q. What does it contain?


A. A key to the mysterious characters upon its top and sides, by which they found those upon its sides to be the initials of our three ancient Grand Masters, S. K. of I. [Solomon, king of Israel], H. K. of T [Hiram, king of Tyre], and H. Abiff. Those upon its top, the Grand Omnific or Royal Arch word, which we as Royal Arch Masons should never give except in the presence of three Royal Arch Masons, we first agreeing by three times three, and under a living arch.” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


“By this time the sun had attained its greatest altitude, and shining in al its splendor, darted its rays immediately into the aperture, which enabled me to distinguish those objects I had before but imperfectly discovered. In the center of the vault I saw a pedestal of pure virgin marble, with certain mystic characters engraven thereon, and a veil covering the upper face of the altar. Approaching with reverential awe, I lifted the veil, and beheld what I humbly supposed to be the sacred word itself.” - Masonic ritual quoted in Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


The meaning of the sacred word is revealed later in the ceremony. Making a “living arch”, three masons grasp each other’s left wrist at waist level and their right wrist over their heads. They then intone:


“As we three did agree,
In peace, love, and unity,
The Sacred Word to keep,
So we three do agree,
In peace, love, and unity,
The sacred Word to search;
Until we three,
Or three such as we, shall agree
To close this Royal Arch.”


“They then balance three times three, bringing the right hand with some violence down upon the left. The right hands are then raised above their heads, and the words, Jah-buh-lun, Jeho-vah, G-o-d, are given at low breath, each companion pronouncing the syllables or letters alternately...” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


“In the ritual of exaltation, the name of the great Architect of the Universe is revealed as JAH-BUL-ON....Each syllable of the ‘ineffable name’ represents one personality of this Trinity:


JAH = Jahweh, the God of the Hebrews


BUL = Ba’al, the ancient Canaanite fertility god associated with ‘licentious rites of imitative magic’


ON = Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the underworld”


“...During the years between 1723 and 1813 the invocation of the name of Christ in the endings of prayers gradually died out. In masonic quotations of scripture the name of Christ came very pointedly to be deleted from the text.” “It is perhaps because the Freemasonic God, as revealed to Royal Arch Masons, is so far from being ‘that Religion to which all men agree’ that it was determined that Holy Royal Arch workings should not be conducted in Lodges but separately in ‘Chapters’ under the control of a Grand Chapter and not of Grand Lodge.” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


Knight’s analysis is only partly correct and his conclusion is almost certainly off the mark.


“...The assumption that Jahbulon means Jehovah [Yahweh], Ba’al, and Osiris is itself pure conjecture. No one knows for certain what it means, or even how the name was originally pronounced before it underwent changes from centuries of strictly verbal communication.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


In the initiation ceremony, the candidate is told:


“It is a compound word and its combinations form the word Jah-Bul-On. Jah the first part, is the Chaldean [Sumerian] name of God and signifies his essence and majesty incomprehensible; it is also a Hebrew word signifying ‘I am’ and ‘shall be’, thereby expressing the actual, future and eternal existence of the Most High. Bul is an Assyrian word, signifying Lord or Powerful, it is itself a compound word signifying in or on; and Bul signifying Heaven on High, therefore this word means Lord in Heaven or on High. On is an Egyptian word, signifying Father of All, and is also a Hebrew word implying strength or power, and expressive of the omnipotence of the Father of all. All the significations of these words may, therefore, be thus collected: - I am and shall be; Lord in Heaven; Father of all.” - Masonic ritual quoted in Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“The first part, ‘Jah’, is the Hebrew word for their god, very probably with a Sumerian connection. It can be seen in this form in the name of the prophet Elijah, which is actually Eli-jah, meaning ‘Yahweh is my god’ (El being the ancient word for a god).” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“Simply, Ba’al is a Hebrew word that means lord or master. Numerous deities were addressed by that title in the Middle East, but their names have not come down to us.” It is an honorific title “that is still used by the Jewish faith. For example, one who can work miracles in the name of God is known as a Ba’al shem, the lord (or master) of the Name.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


On is also the Hebrew word for “one”. Jah-Baal-On could thus be interpreted to mean “Yaweh, the one Lord over all” which would be very much in keeping with the Christian nature of the Royal Arch rites. Most students of Masonic lore, however, prefer to place the origin of On in ancient Egypt.


“1. JAH. This name of God is found in the 68th Psalm, v. 4. [Yahweh]


2. BAAL or BEL. This word signifies a lord, master, or possessor, and hence it was applied by many of the nations of the East to denote the Lord of all things, and the Master of the world.


3. ON. This was the name by which JEHOVAH was worshipped among the Egyptians.” - Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite


“During dynastic Egypt Ra’s [the god of the sun during dynastic Egypt] cult center was Annu (Hebrew ‘On’, Greek ‘Heliopolis’, modern-day ‘Cairo’).” - Shawn C. Knight (),”Egyptian Mythology FAQ”


“ON is but another name for the [Egyptian] god Amen...and...in Revelation 1:8, in the original, inspired text of this verse, the Greek word Christ used was ‘On’ - the ‘existing one’.” - Brad Steiger, Worlds Before Our Own


“My feeling is that ‘Jah-Baal-On’ was simply the names of the three great gods, of the Jews, the Canaanites and the Egyptians , all of whom were referred to as the ‘Most High’.” - Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


“Today about one in five Freemasons are Royal Arch ‘Companions’, these constituting a more fervent, more indoctrinated, closer-knit inner circle.” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


Masonry Today


“History will show that Freemasonry has always been outlawed under totalitarian regimes. As an aside; some 200,000 Masons perished in the Nazi holocaust. Both the Church of England and the Baptist Church have recently completed studies of the Craft and have decided that it is eccentric but not dangerous.” - InterNews 1.0@wolfe.wimsey.com.


“The old English Masonic model involving three degrees of membership still exists, and many Masons stop at the third degree, that of master mason. Others, however, go through a ceremony called the royal arch, which admits them to a spectrum of higher degrees. The Ancient and Accepted Rite of Masonry is a system of thirty-three degrees that offer such titles as perfect master, prince of Jerusalem, grand pontiff, chief of the tabernacle, commander of the temple, grand elected knight kadosh, grand inspector inquisitor commander, and sublime prince of the royal secret. And the Ancient and Accepted Rite is but one of a staggering array of rites and orders.” - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“The ‘Masters’, who form the largest proportion of Freemasons, are in most cases quite unaware of the thirty superior degrees to which they will never be admitted, nor even hear mentioned. This is the real picture, with the three lowly [Craft] degrees governed by a Grand Lodge and the thirty higher degrees governed by a Supreme Council.”


“Although Craft Freemasonry is worldwide...it has no international organization. The Ancient and Accepted Rite of the Thirty-Third Degree is the only cohesive masonic group run on truly international lines. The Supreme Council in London is one of many Supreme Councils in various parts of the globe, of which the senior is the Supreme Council of Charleston, USA, which effectively operates a worldwide network of Freemasons in the most powerful positions in the executive, legislature, judiciary and armed forces as well as the industry, commerce and professions of many nations.” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


“The Grand Orient of France is considered a clandestine body by many Grand Lodges due to a major revision of the Constitution of Freemasonry. The Grand Orient of France removed the requirement for belief in a Supreme Being and for belief in the immortality of the soul in 1877. This was done on the basis of Freemasonry’s lack of status as a religion. ‘Whereas Freemasonry is not a religion and has therefore no doctrine or dogma to affirm in its Constitution...’ This caused considerable uproar in England, whose Grand Lodge came to the conclusion that the Grand Orient’s actions were in violation of the Landmarks of Freemasonry. Visitors from France could not be received in English Lodges unless they could prove that they were initiated within a Lodge the professed belief in the G.A.O.T.U. Masonic communication between the Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Orient of France ground to a screeching halt.


“The Grand Orient of France permitted the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim to govern Initiation, Passing and Raising under its own authority. Today, Craft Lodges function entirely under the authourity and legislation of the regional Grand Lodges. These Grand Lodges are extremely wary of organizations claiming to make Masons while operating in their regions. Seeing as M&M had the capacity to do exactly this as it functioned under the Grand Orient of France, and understanding the questionable status of said Grand Orient, many Grand Lodges treat it as irregular and are very cautious about the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim.” - Jody Lemoine (jody@xteam.com)


“There are also a number of social organizations that draw their membership from Masonry without actually being connected with it. In the United States, the most visible of these is the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine - better known as the Shriners - which admits only those who are at least thirty-second-degree Masons.” “Founded in New York in the 1870s, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was created mainly by American actor William Florence. While touring France, Forence attended a party given by an Arabian diplomat and became fascinated by Eastern rituals.” - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“Members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America (AASONM is an anagram for A MASON) are members of the Scottish Rite’s 32nd degree, and/or Knights Templer of the York Rite. The Shrine is most noted for its emphasis on philanthropy and its jolly outlook on life-- it has been called ‘the playground of Masonry’. This is expressed as ‘Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness’.” - Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2


“The Shrine is the wealthiest ‘charity’ in America. Its assets for 1984 were estimated by the internal Revenue Service at $1.979 billion. That’s almost twice as much as the second richest charity, the American Red Cross, with assets of $1.07 billion, and four times as much as the American Cancer Society which takes third place, with $446.8 million in assets.”


“...The Shrine spent only 29.8 percent of its 1984 income on its program services, compared with 84 percent by the American Red Cross, 67.2 percent by the American Cancer Society, 70.6 percent by the American Heart Association and 73 percent by National Easter Seals. In fact, no other charity in the top fourteen listed by the IRS gave less than 57 percent of their total income to their program services - almost twice as much as the Shrine.” - William T. Still, New World Order




A Political Force


Scottish Rite Freemasonry


(1) Chevalier Andrew Ramsay


“...There was a bitter conflict between England and Scotland around the turn of the fourteenth century, and from that time Scotland’s cultural orientation shifted from England to the Continent. This change in perspective is observable in the Scottish architecture of the period - Melrose Abbey, for example, exhibits much French influence; and it is likely that the French masons involved would have come with their philosophical as well as their practical workings.” - W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


“Decades before the English Grand Lodge was created, many Masons in Scotland were already known to be helping the Stuarts. These Scottish loyalists used their lodges as secret meeting places in which to hatch political intrigues. Pro-Stuart Masonic activity may go as far back as 1660 - the year of the Stuart Restoration (when the Stuarts took the throne back from the Puritans). According to some early Masons, the Restoration was largely a Masonic feat. General Monk, who played such a pivotal role in the Restoration, was reported to be a Freemason.”


Michael “Ramsey was a Scottish mystic who had been hired by James III to tutor James’ two sons in France. Ramsey’s goal was to re-establish the disgraced Templar Knights in Europe. To accomplish this, Ramsey adopted the same approach used by the Mother Grand Lodge system of London: the resurrected knights Templar were to be a secret mystical/fraternal society open to men of varied occupations. The old knightly titles, uniforms, and ‘tools of the trade’ were to be used for symbolic, fraternal and ritual purposes within a Masonic context.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


Charles Radclyffe, an alleged Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, presided over the Freemason lodge at which Chevalier Andrew Ramsay (a friend of Newton- Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“From its beginnings, which only shortly antedated Ramsay’s intervention in 1736, French Masonry had been patronized by the highest aristocracy; this may have owed something to the Jacobite Scottish peers who had been Grand Masters of some early French lodges. The craft was supposed to have grown from ‘operative’ stonemasons, but in addressing a noble audience Ramsay naturally looked for something more dignified than a lineage of humble British artisans. So he gave Freemasonry a fictitious crusading parentage, suggesting that some medieval Crusaders had been both stoneworkers and knightly warriors.”


“It was Ramsay, in a speech to French Freemasons [‘Apology for the Free and Accepted Masons’], who suggested “that the Freemasons had access to ancient wisdom which was partly biblical in origin, and connected with the Old Testament patriarchs and the builders of the Temple, but which also reflected Egyptian and Greek mysteries, and other hidden secrets of the pagan world....He did not refer to the Masons of crusading times as a class of humble artisans but as ‘religious and warlike princes who wished to enlighten, edify and build up the living Temples of the Most High’...The apparent literalness of his earlier reference to the ‘Temple of Solomon’ has been dropped in favor of a transparent metaphor for nobility of character and aims.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


“It was Ramsay’s conceit that the Crusaders were Masons as well as Templars and that the secret words of Freemasonry originated as the watchwords of military camps. He said that by the end of the Crusades, several Masonic lodges had already been built on the European continent. Prince Edward, son of the English king Henry III, allegedly took pity on the vanquished Christian armies in Palestine after the last Crusade and brought them back to Britain in the thirteenth century. In his homeland, according to Ramsay, the prince - who later reigned as Edward I - established a colony of brothers renaming themselves Freemasons.” - Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects


“Of the Templars Ramsay did not breathe a word. On the contrary, he spoke of intimacy between the Crusader Masons and the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who were said to have been the occasion of giving the Masonic lodges the title of ‘Lodges of St John’.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


(2) Jacobite Freemasonry


“The esoteric element was more prominent in the ‘Red’ Masonry than in the ‘Blue’. But Red or Scottish Masonry can also be seen as a return to more traditional ideas of hierarchy and social order....But the Scottish higher degrees meant the implied rejection of at least a part of the ideal of egalitarianism. The higher grades involved the subordination of the lower, and also the ignorance on the part of the lower grades of the wisdom enjoyed by the higher.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


“To affect their pro-Stuart political aims, the Scottish lodges changed the Biblical symbolism of the third Blue Degree into political symbolism to represent the House of Stuart. Ramsey’s ‘higher’ degrees contained additional symbolism ‘revealing’ why Freemasons had a duty to help the Stuarts against the throne of England. Because of this, manly people viewed Scottish Freemasonry as a clever attempt to lure freemasons away from the Mother Grand Lodge system which supported the Hanoverian monarchy and turn the new converts into pro-Stuart Masons.


“The Stuarts themselves joined Ramsey’s organization. James III adopted the Templar title ‘Chevalier St. George’. His son, Charles Edward, was initiated into the Order of Knights Templar on Setember 24, 1745, the same year in which he led a major Jacobite invasion of Scotland. Two years later, on April 15, 1747, Charles Edward established a masonic ‘Scottish Jacobite Chapter’ in the French city of Arras.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


“We, Charles Edward, King of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland, and as such Substitute Grand Master of the Chapter of H., known by the title of Knight of the Eagle and Pelican...” - Arras Lodge Charter


During their stay in France in 1745, the “Young Pretender” Bonnie Prince Charlie and other Stuarts “had become deeply involved in the dissemination of Freemasonry. Indeed they are generally regarded as the source of the particular form of Freemasonry known as ‘Scottish Rite’. ‘Scottish Rite’ Freemasonry introduced higher degrees than those offered by other Masonic systems at the time. It promised initiation into greater and more profound mysteries - mysteries supposedly preserved and handed down in Scotland. It established more direct connections between Freemasonry and the various activities - alchemy, Cabalism and Hermetic thought, for instance - which were regarded as ‘Rosecrucian’. And it elaborated not only on the antiquity but also on the illustrious pedigree of the ‘craft’.”


“...It did not, like many rites of Freemasonry, consist primarily of free-thinkers and atheists. On the contrary, it seems to have been deeply religious and magically oriented - emphasizing a sacred social and political hierarchy, a divine order, an underlying cosmic plan. And the upper grades or degrees of this Freemasonry, according to M. Chaumeil [Le Tresor du triangle d’or] were the lower grades or degrees of the Prieure de Sion.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“In the aftermath of the 1745 rebellion, Jacobite Freemasonry as such, with its specific political orientation and allegiance to the Stuart bloodline, effectively died out. Variations of it, however, purged of political content and tempered by the moderation of the Grand Lodge of England, survived. They survived in part through the so-called ‘higher’ degrees’ offered by such institutions as Irish Grand Lodge. Most important, however, they survived within the Strict Observance promulgated by Hund - of which the highest degree was that of ‘Knight Templar’. The Strict Observance was to spread throughout Europe.” - Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge


(3) The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite


“The rite in its present form of thirty-three degrees was reorganized at the end of the eighteenth century by some half dozen Masonic adventurers at Charleston, South Carolina.” - Charles Sotheran (1877)


The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR) “is an appendant body of Masonry, meaning that it is not part of the Blue Lodge per se, but closely associated with Masonry. It requires that a man be a Master Mason before joining the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite confers the 4th through 32nd degrees. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time. Any Master Mason is eligible to join the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Scottish Rite continue the symbolism of the first three Masonic degrees.”


“The Scottish Rite awards a special honorary degree, the 33rd, to those it feels has made an outstanding contribution to Masonry, the community as a whole, and to mankind. There is no way to ‘achieve’ this degree or ‘take’ it, in the sense that one takes the 4th through 32nd degrees in the Scottish Rite. It is a singular honor, rarely bestowed, and greatly admired.” - Andrew Fabbro, “Freemasonry FAQ” Version 1.2


“Scottish Rite Masonry has almost a million members in America...” “In one jurisdiction, the Scottish Rite Mason is made a ‘Knight Kadosh’. Kadosh is direct from the Hebrew, and means ‘holy’. The ‘Holy Knight’ of this degree is the Knight Templar. The story of the final days of Grand Master Jacques de Molay, along with a brief history of the Templar order, is recounted to the candidate for the degree. The spirit of the degree is to call upon the initiate to be aware of, and to resolutely oppose, all forms of personal and religious injustice.” - John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)


(4) Templarism


“The birthplace of Templarism was Germany, where the egalitarian and rationalist thrust of Freemasonry was resisted by an old-fashioned and rank-dominated society, and there was a demand for a version of the Masonic craft acceptable to conservative doctrine and Gothic taste. During the Seven Years War a French prisoner in Germany co-operated with a German pastor who went under the name of Samuel Rosa to concoct a Templar myth to serve the ritual needs of the Masonic lodges.”


“According to their story the Grand Masters of the Order had been in possession of special spiritual illumination deriving from the Jewish sect of the Essenes. This had passed through the control of the Canons of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, and had gone thence to the Order of the Temple. Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master, was by these story-writers given the Masonic name of Hiram, which according to Masonic lore had been the name of the murdered builder of the Temple of Solomon.”


“The idea of vengeance to be exacted for a wronged and murdered magus was embedded in orthodox Masonic lore in the form of the myth of the murder of the Temple-builder, Hiram, and of the despatch by Solomon of chosen masters to avenge his death. There was originally no particular political context for this supposed murder and its atonement, though the paraphernalia of swords, skeletons, and decapitated dolls which was used in some lodges to represent the events was already alarming enough.”


“The idea of the Masonic ‘grades of vengeance’ was that certain enlightened persons, each step in enlightenment being the object of a ‘grade’, were formally committed to avenge the sacrilegious murder of the Temple-builder, Hiram. The thirtieth grade, for example, was that of the ‘Knight Kadosch’, who played at being the medieval Justiciar or Chief Justice. If Hiram was to be identified with Jacques de Molay, certain Masonic Templar knights could be regarded as pledged to revenge the Order on the French monarchy.”


“The most successful organizer of German Templarism, who came for a time close to controlling the whole apparatus of German Freemasonry, was Karl Gotthelf von Hund, a substantial landowner in north-east Electoral Saxony. Hund was very different from the self-seeking charlatans such as Johnson and Rosa; he was much more of a self-deluded fanatic, said to have gone through life almost like a sleepwalker. He had begun his Masonic studies in France, and at about the same time as the invention of the other Templar myths he had produced his own.”


“At the summit of Hund’s organization stood an authority which could never be identified, that of the ‘Unknown Superiors’. To these mysterious and in fact non-existent persons Hund demanded complete and unquestioning obedience, especially as regards the delivery of scientific information about alchemical operations. Hund appears genuinely to have believed that the Young Pretender was the Unknown head of his Order, and though, erroneously, that he had met him when he had himself been ‘professed’ or initiated in France. In fact, so far as is known, the Young Pretender was unaware of Hund’s existence, and the Comte de Clermonot in France, to whom Hund also professed obedience, seems to have paid no more attention to him. - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


As a further extension to the “Scottish Rite”, the “Strict Observance” demanded “an oath of unswerving, unquestioning obedience to the mysterious ‘unknown superiors’. And the basic tenet of the ‘Strict Observance’ was that it had descended directly from the Knights Templar, some of whom had purportedly survived the purge of 1307-14 and perpetuated their Order in Scotland.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“In 1782 [the Duke of] Brunswick decided to solve his doubts by holding a final Conference or Convent of the Order at Wilhelmsbad, near Hanau in Hessen. True to its aristocratic origins, the last gathering of the Strict Observance was a blue-blooded affair. But disillusion and decay were patent. The successively unveiled mysteries of the Order had yielded nothing but boring ritual; the alchemists had made no discoveries, the Templar lands would never be returned. No one expected to identify the long-concealed Unknown Superiors. The thirst for mystical illumination remained, but hope of quenching it at the Templar spring was over.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


Revolution and Controversy


(1) The Ideal Political Structure


“...By the third decade of the eighteenth century, English Freemasonry, under the auspices of Grand Lodge, had become a bastion of the social and cultural establishment, including, among its more illustrious brethren, Desaguliers, Pope, Swift, Hogarth and Boswell, as well as Charles de Lorraine, future husband of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.”


“In England, the Grand Lodge became progressively more divorced from both religion and politics. It fostered a spirit of moderation, tolerance and flexibility, and often worked hand in hand with the Anglican Church, many of whose clergy were themselves Freemasons and found no conflict of allegiance. In Catholic Europe, on the other hand, Freemasonry became a repository for militantly anti-clerical, anti-establishment, eventually revolutionary sentiments and activity....In France, for example, prominent Freemasons such as the Marquis de Lafayette, Philippe Egalite, Danton and Sieyes, acting in accordance with Freemasonic ideals, were prime movers in the events of 1789 and everything that followed. In Bavaria, in Spain, in Austria, Freemasonry was to provide a focus of resistance to authoritarian regimes, and it functioned prominently in the movements, culminating with the revolutions of 1848. The whole of the campaign leading to the unification of Italy - from the revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century, through Mazzini, to Garibaldi - could be described as essentially Freemasonic.” - Baigent and Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge


“...The United States was not created as a republic of the kind implied by that word today. Most of the men responsible for creating it were staunch Freemasons, and the new nation was originally conceived as the ideal hieratic political structure postulated by certain rites of Freemasonry. The state as a whole was seen as an extension, and a macrocosm, of the Lodge.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy


“...St. Andrew’s Lodge of Boston, which had perpetrated the Boston Tea party in 1773 conferred a Templar degree already on August 29, 1769 after applying for the warrant in 1762 from the Scottish Grand Lodge in Edinburgh. That application was made almost a decade before the American Revolution began. Some Templars were not only anti-Hanoverian, they sought the abolition of all monarchy.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


“At the beginning of 1776, the more moderate Freemasonic-oriented factions in the Continental Congress still prevailed. Their position had been enunciated once again the previous December, when congress again defied Parliament but continued to affirm allegiance to the crown. Now, however, the mood began to change and more radical elements began to gain the ascendancy. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, ‘Common Sense’, did much to polarize attitudes and convert many hitherto loyal colonists to the principle of independence from the mother country.”


“On 11 June 1776, the Continental Congress “appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Of the five men on this committee, two - Franklin and...Robert Livingston - were Freemasons...The other two - Thomas Jefferson and John Adams - were not, despite subsequent claims to the contrary....The nine signatories who can now be established as proven Freemasons, and the ten who were possibly so, included such influential figures as Washington, Franklin and, of course, the president of the Congress, John Hancock. The army, moreover, remained almost entirely in Freemasonic hands.” - Brian Francis Redman (bigxc@prairienet.org)


Mayer Anschel “Rothschild made a fortune from various activities while serving under William IX. The French Revolution and the wars it triggered created many shortages throughout the Hesse. Rothschild capitalized in this situation by sharply raising the prices of the cloth he was importing from England. Rothschild also struck a deal with another of William IX’s chief financial agents, Carl Buderus. The deal enabled Rothschild to share in the profits from the leasing of Hessian mercenaries to England.”


“According to Jacob Katz, writing in his book, Jews and Freemasons in Europe, 1723-1939, the Rothschilds were one of the rich and powerful Frankfurt families appearing on a Masonic membership list in 1811.”


“Special Jewish lodges were created, such as the ‘Melchizedek’ lodges named in honor of the Old Testament priest-king...Those who belonged to the Melchizedek lodges were said to be members of the ‘Order of Melchizedek’.” - William Bramley, The Gods of Eden


(2) Anti-Masonic Movements


“In 1738 Pope Clement XII issued a Papal Bull condemning and excommunicating all Freemasons, whom he pronounced ‘enemies of the Roman Church’....In its text the pope declares that Masonic thought rests on a heresy...- the denial of Jesus’s divinity. And he further asserts that the guiding spirits, the ‘masterminds’, behind Freemasonry are the same as those who provoked the Lutheran Reformation.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“In 1740, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta caused the Bull of Pope Clement XII. to be published in that island, and forbade the meetings of the Freemasons. On this occasion several Knights and many citizens left the island; and in 1741, the Inquisition persecuted the Freemasons at Malta. The Grand Master proscribed their assemblies under severe penalties, and six Knights were banished from the island in perpetuity for having assisted at a meeting.” - Commander Gourdin,


“Citizens of Northwestern New York acted swiftly in 1826 when they heard the news that William Morgan had disappeared. Morgan, described by an historian of politics as “a somewhat down at heel citizen of Batavia,” was a disgruntled Mason who had written a book alleged to be an expose’ of Masonic secrets. Rumors contended that the Masons had murdered Morgan. The Order, for its part, maintained a stolid and uncooperative silence, and so local political organizations campaigned to keep support from office-seeking Masons. One new organization, the Anti-Masonry Party, attracted those in the populace who distrusted the Masons and other secret societies. It grew almost overnight, and the party’s power base soon stretched from western New York to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Vermont.


“In the rush of growth of the anti-Masonic movement, the initiating impetus for it was submerged, and neither the fate of Morgan nor the culpability of the Masonic Order was ascertained. Instead, the new and liberal Anti-Masonry Party became the voice of the poorer citizen against the well-to-do (and most Masons were regarded as rich), the spokesman for the orthodox against Unitarianism and other liberal sects, a supporter of temperance and anti-slavery activities, and a cheerleader for some features of Jacksonian Democracy against the autocratic Federalists. It opposed not only secret societies and government-in-secret, but also imprisonment for debt and drafts for state militia service.


“But as the party gathered strength it also began to move from the ‘left’ to the ‘right’, supporting tariffs on imported goods to prevent the collapse of local industries, better canals for more efficient transport, and banks free from regulatory taxes. As such, it was vainly used by politicians for their own ends, chiefly anti-Jacksonian: Thurlow Weed and William H. Seward tried unsuccessfully through the Anti-Masonry Party to overthrow Martin van Buren’s Albany Regency (informal group of Democratic leaders in New York), and politician Thad Stevens in Pennsylvania tried to use it to increase his power. Soon the new party was voting with the National Republican Party against the Jacksonians; by 1834 it had moved entirely to the ‘right’, for it helped found the reactionary Whig Party, which absorbed the Anti-Masonry Party in 1836.” - Brian Francis Redman (bigxc@prairienet.org “The Big C”)


“By the 1880s eight Popes had already condemned Freemasonry when Freemasons urged that these condemnations had been based on erroneous information and were excessively severe. This led Pope Leo XIII to issue his famous encyclical Humanum Genus in 1884. Leo XIII classed Freemasonry as a grouping of secret societies in the ‘kingdom of Satan’ and, like the Greek Orthodox Church half a century later, stated that it wished ‘to bring back after eighteen centuries the manners and customs of the pagans.’” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


“There was nothing nefarious or subversive on the pope’s part, Leo XIII was a troubled man. He felt deeply the great losses in church power, privilege, and wealth brought on by the democratic revolutions and developed such profound mistrust that he kept all of the gold of the Vatican in a box under his own bed. He truly believed democracy was evil, part of the ‘kingdom of Satan’, and that the Catholic church had a right and duty to oversee every secular government.” - John J. Robinson, Born in Blood


“The principles of social science follow. Here naturalists teach that men have all the same rights, and are perfectly equal in condition; that every man is naturally independent; that no one has a right to command other; that it is tyranny to keep men subject to any other authority than that which emanates from themselves.” - Pope Leo XIII, “Humanum Genus”


VATICAN CITY (1985) “The Vatican, clarifying its position on membership in Masonic lodges, said yesterday that Catholics who join such organizations commit ‘grave sin’. The new reminder, in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, appeared to be aimed mainly at Catholics in the United States, where some have interpreted recent church statements as relaxing the 247-year-old ban on Masonic membership imposed by Pope Clement XII. A new code of Canon Law outlined on Nov. 25, 1983, omitted membership in the Masons in the list of offenses that incur automatic excommunication.” - (UPI)


(3) P2 Lodge and the Vatican Banking Scandal


“...The Agency, through some of its priest ‘assets’ in the Vatican, had placed six bugging devices in the Secretariat of State, the Vatican Bank and the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope actually lived and worked. The devices were sufficiently powerful to enable conversations to be overheard within rooms with walls thick enough to withstand artillery-fire. Working from ‘safe houses’ in high-rise buildings overlooking the Leonine walls of the tiny city-state, CIA operatives had recorded often highly confidential discussions about papal plans.


“The Agency’s surveillance had increased since 5 July 1979, when Walesa [future president of Poland] telephoned the Pope asking whether John Paul would approve of the name ‘Solidarity’ being used for the fledgling union. Walesa had explained that he had selected the word from the pontiff’s encyclical, ‘Redemptor Homis’ - a treatise devoted to the redemption and the dignity of the human race. At its core had been an appeal for ‘acting together’. The significance of Walesa’s request was not lost on the pontiff - or on the ‘Department D’s electronic eavesdroppers.” - Gordon Thomas, Journey into Madness


The Italian Masonic Lodge P2 “provided a means of furnishing anti-Communist institutions in Europe and Latin-America with both Vatican and CIA funds. Calvi [who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982] also claimed that he personally had arranged the transfer of $20,000,000 of Vatican money to Solidarity in Poland, although the overall total sent to Solidarity is believed to have exceeded $100,000,000. Prior to his indictment for murder [of an Italian investigator], Michele Sindona was not only P2’s financier, but the Vatican’s investment counselor as well, helping the church to sell its Italian assets and re-invest in the United States. His services for the CIA included passing funds to ‘friends’ in Yugoslavia, as well as to the Greek colonels prior to their seizure of power in 1967. He also channeled millions of dollars into the funds of the Christian Democrats in Italy.”


In March 1981, Italian police raided the villa of Licio Gelli, the ultra-right leader of P2. Although his files had vanished the index was discovered. Some of the headings included the Opus Dei, “Giulio Andreotti, currently Italian Foreign Minister and alleged...to be a member of the Prieure de Sion. And they included the organization known officially as the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem - the organization, that is, which today claims a direct lineal descent from the Knights Templar.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy


“A list of [P2] members drawn up by Gelli contained the names of nearly a thousand of Italy’s most powerful men. One prosecutor’s report later stated: ‘Lodge Propaganda Due is a secret sect that has combined business and politics with the intention of destroying the country’s constitutional order.’ “Among the names were three members of the Cabinet (including Justice Minister Adolfo Sarti; several former Prime Ministers including Giulio Andreotti who had held office between 1972 and 1973 and again between 1976 and 1979; forty-three Members of Parliament; fifty-four top Civil Servants; 183 army, navy and air force officers including thirty generals and eight admirals (among them the Commander of the Armed Forces, Admiral Giovanni Torrisi); nineteen judges; lawyers; magistrates; carabiniere; police chiefs; leading bankers; newspaper proprietors, editors and journalists (including the editor of the country’s leading newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera); fifty-eight university professors; the leaders of several political parties; and even the directors of the three main intelligence services. “All these men, according to the files, had sworn allegiance to Gelli, and held themselves ready to respond to his call. The 953 names were divided into seventeen groupings, or cells, each having its own leader. P2 was so secret and so expertly run by Gelli that even its own members did not know who belonged to it. Those who know most were the seventeen cell leaders and they knew only their own grouping.”


“Of the many political groupings in Italy, Gelli’s files showed that only the Communist Party had no links with P2.” “Magistrates sifting the documents from the Villa Wanda [from whence Gelli had fled] found hundreds of top secret intelligence documents. Colonel Antonio Viezzer, the former head of the combined intelligence services, was identified as the prime source of this material and was arrested in Rome for spying on behalf of a foreign power.”


“Fascist, torturer of partisans in the Second World War, friend and adviser of Peron and coordinator of right-wing corruption in Italy - was an agent of the KGB.” “From the beginning Lodge P2 was a KGB-sponsored program aimed at destablizing Italy, weakening NATO’s southern flank, sweeping the Communists into power in Italy and sending resultant shock waves throughout the western world.”


“With the failure of the ministers, generals and admirals to cooperate with investigators, NATO was forced to support the attitude of the corrupt Freemasons in Italy’s armed forces. Officials in Brussels and Washington suggested discreetly that it was not the right moment to create a vacuum of power in the Italian army, navy and secret services.” - Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood


“The P2 was more than a subversive political organization. The documents collected by the parliamentary commission show it was a kind of full-service international organization influencing everything from arms sales to purchases of crude oil.” - Pino Ariacchi, sociologist at the University of Florence


Propaganda Due or P2 was “a lodge originally formed by the Italian Grand Orient as a lodge of research. In 1975 an Italian fascist named Licio Gelli was made the Venerable Grand Master of P2, and the following year that lodge was disavowed and suspended by the Grand Orient of Italy, so whatever it was, P2 ceased to be an official Masonic organization.”


“...Gelli brought in Michele Sindona, the leading financial advisor to the Vatican. Then, in 1977, Sindona brought in Roberto Calvi, head of the Banco Ambrosiano in Milan, which was closely associated with the papal bank, one of its major shareholders....Calvi brought to the table his most valued contact, the Instituto per lo Opere di Religione, the Institute for Religious Works (the ‘IOR’), a financial institution often erroneously referred to as the ‘Vatican bank’. The IOR belongs not to the Vatican city-state, but to the pope alone.”


“...The Banco Ambrosiano helped to set up foreign shell companies, including ten in Panama, which were controlled by the papal bank. Then the Banco Ambrosiano loaned these shells up to one and a third billion dollars. The papal bank also put in funds of its own, but not one in Rome will even hint at the amount or purpose of these extensive fundings.”


When Archbishop Marcinkus, head of the IOR, invoked the Italian Concordat which guarantees Vatican sovereignty “when he learned he had been indicted by the Italian government.” This decision was backed up by the Italian Supreme Court. “...The papal bank agreed to pay and paid over to the Banco Ambrosiano the incredible sum of 244 million dollars, while denying any guilt, or even any material involvement, in the great fraud. Together with the reputed loss of 450 million dollars, this means that the affairs between the papal bank and the Banco Ambrosiano cost the Catholic church almost 700 million dollars, over ten times the 1987 operating loss that Catholics all over the world were asked to make up with extra donations...” - John J. Robinson, Born in the Blood


In late 1983, “the pontiff had recently sent Archbishop Luigi Poggi to Moscow to begin secret discussions in the Kremlin on the prospect of coming to a mutually acceptable accommodation over Poland: the pontiff would control Walesa if the Church was given more freedom.” - Gordon Thomas, Journey into Madness




Prieure de Sion


The Treasure of Rennes-le-Château


In 1885 “the Catholic church assigned Sauniere, thirty-three years old, handsome, well-educated--if provincial--to the parish at Rennes-le-Château. Sauniere set about restoring the town’s tiny church, which sat atop a sacred site dating back to the sixth-century Visigoths. Under the altar stone, inside a hollow Visigothic pillar, the young cure discovered a series of parchments. There were two genealogies dating from 1244 A.D. and 1644 A.D., as well as more recent documents created by a former parish priest during the 1780s.”


According to Henry Lincoln and historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh (The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail) “these more recent papers contained a series of ciphers and codes, some of them ‘fantastically complex, defying even a computer’ to unlock their secrets.


“Sauniere took his discovery to the bishop in nearby Carcassonne, who dispatched the priest to Paris, where clerical scholars studied the parchments. One of the simpler ciphers, when translated, read: TO DAGOBERT II KING AND TO SION BELONGS THIS TREASURE AND HE IS THERE DEAD.” (The person to whom “HE IS THERE DEAD” was not identified.) - 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time


“They were apparently written by his predecessor, Abbá Antoine Bigou, confessor to Marie d’Hautpoul, in 1781. (The same cypher appears on her tombstone.) The parchments were, on the face of it, Latin transcriptions of passages from the Gospels; but they contained deeper mysteries. Sauniere also appears to have left certain other ‘clues’ in the highly unusual redesign of his church and of the other structures in the area.”


“Within the second parchment was an even stranger message:




“A third cypher that appears, not in the documents, but at Shugborough Hall’s Shepherd Monument, is the curious ‘D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M’ which has never been translated.” - Steve Mizrach,” The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


In a new book, The Tomb of God, authors Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger have drawn conclusions about the documents which are bound to be controversial.


“It seems like the Sauniere parchment(s) are a map themselves, and they point to a mountain in the vicinity of Rennes-le-Château where the secret has been buried. The secret itself is The Tomb Of Jesus, in where the remains of Jesus are kept. They have checked and double checked and triple checked every new discovered hint and answer, and they have come to the conclusion that the different hints all point to the same location. After a search in the given location, there are indications that a tunnel has been excavated in early middle ages. Unfortunately, the entrance to the possible tunnel is blocked by thousands of tons of stone and rock. Only a official extensive excavation with modern gear will probably give an answer.” - Sander van der Linden (private correspondence)


“There is a famous painting by Poussin entitled Les Bergers D’Arcadie (the Arcadian shepherds) which shows them around a tomb containing the mysterious inscription ‘Et in Arcadia Ego...’” - Steve Mizrach,” The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


This phrase translated into English has been interpreted to mean “Even in earthly paradise, I (death) exist.”


“This tomb appears to be a virtual replica of one not too dissimilar to it right outside of Rennes-le-Château. Sauniere’s church indeed contains a ‘daemon guardian’ which is a representation of the Biblical Asmodeus, who helped Solomon build his Temple; and some say the rays of the sun at midday passing through the glass create an optical effect they call ‘blue apples’.”


“The theme of ‘Arcadia’ was prominent in Elizabethan literature, and it appears in the works of writers such as Edmund Spenser, Sir Phillip Sidney, and even Shakespeare, for whom the word was synonymous with the Golden Age.”


“The village parish church had been dedicated to the Magdalene in 1059; during the restoration, he found the mysterious parchment (supposedly) in a hollow Visigothic pillar underneath the altar stone. Over the porch lintel is a bizarre inscription, ‘THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE’. A statue of the demon Asmodeus ‘guards’ near the door. The plaques depicting the Stations of the Cross contain bizarre inconsistencies. One shows a child swathed in Scottish plaid. Another has Pontius Pilate wearing a veil. Sts. Joseph and Mary are each depicted holding a Christ child, as if to allude to the old legend that Christ had a twin. Other statues are of rather esoteric saints in unusual postures: St. Roch displays his wounded thigh (like the Grail King Anfortas), St. Anthony the Hermit holds a closed book, St. Germaine releases a bevy of roses from her apron, and the Magdalene is shown holding a vase.”


“Sauniere received “vast sums of money to refurbish the local church and also to build many structures in the area, such as his Tower of the Magdalene (Tour Magdala). (Sauniere was originally so poor that he relied on the generosity of parishioners to survive in 1885.) He also built many structures in the area, such as his Tower of the Magdalene (Tour Magdala).” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


Sauniere “spent a fortune refurbishing the town and developed extravagant tastes for rare china, antiques, and other pricey artifacts. Yet how Sauniere acquired this apparent windfall remained a mystery--he stubbornly refused to explain the secret of his success to the church authorities. - 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time


“Sauniere died in 1917, leaving the ‘secret’ of where he got his fabulous wealth to his housekeeper, Marie Dernaud, who promised to reveal it on her deathbed - but sadly she had a stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to speak before her death in 1953. Speculation was rife on the source of the parish priest’s money. Was it the lost treasure of the Templars or the Cathars in the area? Might it have been buried Visigothic gold? Was he being paid by the Hapsburgs or some other government for his services? Did he know the lost goldmaking secrets of alchemy? Or was he blackmailing the Church with some terrible secret? The evidence that points to the last possibility is that Sauniere’s confession before his death was so shocking that the priest who heard it denied him absolution and last rites.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


The Royal Seed?


(1) The Warrior Kings


Near Rennes-le-Château, above the village of Coustaussa, are the ‘Capitelles’ and ‘Camp Grand’. “We were not prepared for the astonishing sight which we found on the hillside. Not just a few, but hundreds - perhaps thousands - of bee-hive shaped stone structures were scattered across the countryside as far as the eye could see....Some were in remarkably good repair, perhaps built and re-built over centuries. Others were little more than collapsed heaps of stones. Most, however, were clearly and easily identifiable as solid buildings, erected to last, each containing one small room with a doorway and, invariably, a narrow window. Some were square, some rectangular, some curricular, some ovoid. Each had a beautifully and skillfully constructed dry-stone roof. A very few of the structures seemed to be completely solid, with no interior chamber, which makes it difficult to relate them to the idea of ‘shelters’. An historian who has examined my photographs described them as reminiscent of Neolithic bee-hive burial chambers.”


Many “are in such fine condition that it is difficult to assign them a very great age in their present state. Indeed, it has been suggested that such structures were still being erected (or re-erected) as late as the 18th century.”


At a higher elevation “we found a great stretch of double wall with traces of buttressing, giving the appearance of nothing so much as defensive ramparts...most reminiscent of Ancient Mycenae in Greece/”


Could this “‘city’...be Reddis/Aereda, the ancient and legendary city of the Visigoths, of which Rennes-le-Château is supposed to be the sole remaining trace. Certainly, Rennes-le-Château is little more than a mile and a half away and, equally certainly, no other trace of Aereda has so far come to light.” - Henry Lincoln, The Holy Place


The Visigoths were adherents of the Aryan heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus. Their descendants founded the Merovingian dynasty which ruled Gaul until the death of Dagobert II. The Merovingians were said to rule by right of their “royal blood” or “sang real”. “Sangreal” has been traditionally interpreted as the “holy grail” which, according to legend, Mary Magdalene carried to the Jewish kingdom of southern Gaul (including Rennes-le-Château. It may have been believed by adherents of a secret tradition that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus and that what she brought was not a vessel but the royal seed of David in her womb. - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


Lincoln and his co-authors fashioned a theory that Christ had descendents who “legged it to the south of France where they intermarried with the royal Franks to found what eventually became the mystical Merovingian Dynasty. Ergo, the real mission of the Templars and Priory of Zion: to safeguard not just the treasure of the Crusades, but to preserve the Grail, which appeared in medieval texts as ‘Sangraal’ or ‘Sangreal’, and which Lincoln et al. translated to mean sang real, or ‘royal blood’. In other words: the dynastic legacy of Christ, literally.”


“...The Merovingians were considered in their day to be quasi-mystical warrior-kings vested with supernatural powers.” - Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, “Descendants of Jesus? Or Scam Artistes Extraordinaire?”


“Up until recently, little was known about these long-haired kings, as they inhabited that historical epoch derided as the ‘Dark Ages’. The founder of the royal line, Merovech, was said to be of two fathers - his mother, already pregnant by King Chlodio, was seduced while swimming in the ocean by a ‘Quinotaur,’ whatever that was, and Merovech was formed somehow by the commingling of Frankish blood and that of the mysterious aquatic creature. Like the Nazoreans of old, the Merovingian monarchs never cut their hair, and bore a distinctive birthmark - said to be a red cross over the shoulder blades. Their robes were fringed with tassels which were said to carry magical curative powers. They were known as occult adepts, and in one Merovingian tomb was found such items as a golden bull’s head, a crystal ball, and several golden miniature bees. And strangely, many skulls of these monarchs appear to have been ritually incised - i.e. trephanned.”


“The Merovingians were ‘sacred kings’ who reigned but did not rule, leaving the secular governing function to chancellors known as the Mayors of the Palace. It was the one of the Mayors, Pepin the Fat, who founded the dynasty that came to supplant them - the Carolingians.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


“One of the more mysterious footnotes in history is the story of the Principality of Septimania. Granted by Peppin III to the large Jewish population in the south of France, its first king, Theodoric, claimed descent not only from the Merovingian Kings, but lineal descent from King David himself. Both the king and the Pope acknowledged this pedigree. His son, Guillem de Gellone, was a great, almost legendary hero about whom no less than six medieval epics were written, including Wilehalm by Wolfram von Eschenbach. He is closely linked with the Grail family. .His descendant, 17 generations later, was Godfroi de Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade who was, by the Pope, made King of Jerusalem.” - J.J. Collins, “Sangraal, The Mystery of the Holy Grail”


(2) An Ancient Secret Society


“Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair [was] apparently the source behind much of the recent literature devoted to the hilltown and its enigmatic priest. Shepherded to Paris’s Bibliotheque Nationale, our trio of historical investigators [Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln] discovered there a provocative genealogy purporting to link Pierre Plantard to King Dagobert II and the Merovingian dynasty.


“Throughout these dossiers secrets at Paris’s national library were tantalizing historical references to a mysterious and ancient secret society called Prieure de Sion, or Priory of Zion.”


“Lincoln and company checked with the French authorities and discovered that there was indeed a contemporary organization calling itself Priory of Zion. And who do you think was registered as the group’s secretary-general but Pierre Plantard.” - Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, “Descendants of Jesus? Or Scam Artistes Extraordinaire?”


“According to Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, the Order of Sion was founded in the 1090s by Godfroide Bouillon, one of the leaders of the First Crusade who had recaptured Jerusalem. They claim that it was this Order that lay behind Hugues of Champagne and the founding of the Templars.” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


“The earliest roots of the Prieure de Sion are in some sort of Hermetic or Gnostic society led by a man named Ormus. This individual is said to have reconciled paganism and Christianity. The story of Sion only comes into focus in the Middle Ages. In 1070, a group of monks from Calabria, Italy, led by one Prince Ursus, founded the Abbey of Orval in France near Stenay, in the Ardennes. These monks are said to have formed the basis for the the Order de Sion, into which they were ‘folded’ in 1099 by Godfroi de Bouillion.” - Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, “Descendants of Jesus? Or Scam Artistes Extraordinaire?”


“The avowed and declared objective of the Prieure de Sion is the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty and bloodline - to the throne not only of France, but to the thrones of other European nations as well.”


“By dint of dynastic alliances and intermarriages, this line came to include Godfroi de Bouillion, who captured Jerusalem in 1099, and various other noble and royal families, past and present.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“Godfroi was, by legend, a member of the Grail Family, and by lineage a Merovingian and apparently, rightful King of Jerusalem by his descent from David. It is clear that he was aware of this. When he left for the first crusade, he sold all of his property. He intended to stay in Jerusalem. Godfroi was close to de Payen and the count of Champagne, and Baudoin [his brother] was integral to the founding of the Templars.” - J.J. Collins, “Sangraal, The Mystery of the Holy Grail”


“One might therefore term Godfroi de Bouillon as a sort of ‘king of kings’, or at least a maker of kings, since he founded the Order of Sion that could crown Kings of Jerusalem.” - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic


“To the south of Jerusalem looms the ‘high hill’ of Mount Sion.” By 1099 an abbey had been built on the ruins of an old Byzantine basilica at the express command of Godfroi de Buoillon.


“According to one chronicler, writing in 1172, it was extremely well fortified, with its own walls, towers and battlements. And this structure was called the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont de Sion.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“In 1979, M. Plantard had said to us, quite categorically, that the Prieure was in possession of the treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem, plundered by the Romans during the revolt of A.D. 66 and subsequently carried to the south of France, in the vicinity of Rennes-le-Château. The treasure, M. Plantard stated, would be returned to Israel ‘when the time is right.’” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy


“At some point, according to Lincoln et al., the treasure had passed from the Merovingians to the Priory of Zion, whose Templar operatives later hustled the precious hoard from the Holy Land to the French Cathars, who, on the eve of their destruction by the church, squirreled the lucre away in the Pyrenees.”


But what if the “treasure” was something other than gold? After all, legend had it that the Cathar heretics possessed a valuable, even sacred relic, ‘which according to a number of legends, was the Holy Grail, itself.” - Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, “Descendants of Jesus? Or Scam Artistes Extraordinaire?”


“By 19 July 1116, the name of the Ordre de Sion was already appearing on official charters and documents. We found another charter, dated 1152 and bearing the seal of King Louis VII of France, which conferred upon the Order it first major seat in Europe, at Orleans. We found a later charter, dated 1178 and bearing the seal of Pope Alexander III, which confirmed certain land holdings of the Order not only in the Holy Land, but in France, Spain and throughout the Italian peninsula - in Sicily, in Naples, in Calabria, In Lombardy.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy


“For about one hundred years, the Order of the Temple (Knights Templar) and Sion were apparently unified under one leadership, though they are said to have separated at the ‘cutting of the elm’ at Gisors in 1188.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


“Near the end of the thirteenth Century a separate detachment of Templars was sent from the Aragonese province of Rossillon to the Rennes-le-Château area in southern France [the old Cathar stronghold].” This fresh detachment established itself on the summit of the mountain of Bezu, erecting a lookout post and a chapel.


“Alone of all the Templars in France, they were left unmolested by Philippe le Bel’s seneschals on October 13, 1307. On that fateful day the commander of the Templar contingent at Bezu was a Seigneur de Goth. And before taking the name of Pope Clement V, the archbishop of Bordeaux - King Philippe’s vacillating pawn - was Bertrand de Goth. Moreover, the new pontiff’s mother was Ida de Blanchefort, of the same family as Bertrand de Blanchefort [the fourth Grand Master of the Order of the Temple]. Was the pope then privy to some secret entrusted to the custody of his family?” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“Whether is was the intrigues and the Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century, the insurrection known as the Fronde in the seventeenth century or the Masonic conspiracies of the eighteenth century, successive generations of precisely the same families were implicated, operating in accordance with a single consistent pattern.”


“...In documents dating from 1619, it was stated to have incurred the displeasure of King Louis XIII of France, who evicted them from their seat at Orleans and turned the premises over to the Jesuits. After that, the Prieure de Sion seemed to vanish from the historical record, at least under that name, until 1956, when it appeared again, registered in the French Journal officiel.” - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy


Mystic Connections


(1) An Amazing Geometry


The castles of Templar Château of Bezu, the Château of Blanchefort and Rennes-le-Château are each located on a mountain top. Together, with the high spots of two other peaks, the locations form a perfect pentagon (five equal sides) some fifteen miles in circumference.. “At night, a fire lit upon each peak would easily be seen.” Like Rennes-le-Château “the village church dates back to at least the time of the Visigoths, some thirteen centuries ago. The church is dedicated to Saint Magdalene...”


“The early astronomers saw the earth as the center of the universe, around which the Sun, the stars and the planets revolved. Each planet forms its own pattern of movement around the Sun as seen from the Earth. For the ancient watchers of the heavens, those differing patterns of movement allowed them to draw geometric shapes based on the positions of each planet when it was aligned with the Sun.”


“Only one planet describes a precise and regular geometric pattern in the sky - and that planet is Venus, the heavenly counterpart of the earthly Mary Magdalene - and the pattern that she draws as regular as clockwork every eight years is a pentacle.”


“There can be no doubt that churches, calvaires, castles and obscure ruins - almost every structure of note upon the map -form an intricate web of alignments which intersect with perfect regularity on the zero [Paris] meridian...The distance covered by three of those division is the circle radius measure. Each point is separated from the next by exactly one third of 933.586 poles!”


“The accepted definition of a pole [also known as the Rod or Perch] is now 5.5 yards - one 320th part of a mile, i.e., 198 inches...The kilometer - one thousand meters or one then-thousandth of a quadrant of the earth’s surface - when translated into English measure is 39,370 inches, and the square toot of 39,370 is 198.41874!”


“There is an ancient Chinese measure called the Kung (or official) Ch’ih, the length of which is given as 14.14 inches - or, to within about one twentieth of an inch, the square toot of 198.41874!” “The suggested origin of Professor Thom’s Megalithic yard is the ancient Sumerian Shusi, given as 2.75 feet. This is 33 inches, or exactly the one sixth division of a Pole.




the SHUSI time 6 equals the POLE;


the KUNG CH’IH equals the square root of the POLE


and the POLE is the square root of the KILOMETER....


a measure apparently not established until the late 18th century!”


- Henry Lincoln, The Holy Place


(2) The Order


“Themes such as Arcadia, the number 58, Black Madonnas and Mary Magdalene are found in noticeable profusion where the Priory is supposed to have had influence, and in the works of artists, writers and poets who are said to be connected with that organization. These recurring themes would seem to indicated an ‘underground stream’ of esoteric belief.” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


“...This mysterious secret society brought itself to light in 1956, and is listed with the French directory of organizations under the subtitle ‘Chivalry of Catholic Rules and Institutions of the Independent and Traditionalist Union’, which in French abbreviates to CIRCUIT - the name of the magazine distributed internally among members. Depending on what statutes one considers, Sion either has 9,841 members in nine grades, or 1,093 members in seven, with the supreme member, the ‘Nautonnier’ or Grand Master of the Order being, till 1963, Jean Cocteau. While it is believed the head has been Pierre Plantard de St.-Clair up until recent times, he claims to have left that post in 1984, so it is not clear who runs the organization at this time.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


The members of the Order of the Priory of Sion is divided into two effective groups:


a The Legion, charged with the apostolate.


b The Phalange, guardian of the tradition


The hierarchy of nine grades consists of: a in the 729 provinces


1 Novices: 6,561 members


2 Croices: 2,187 members


b in the 27 commanderies


3 Preux: 729 members


4 Ecuyers: 243 members


5 Chevaliers: 81 members


6 Commandeurs: 27 members


c in the Arch ‘Kyria’


7 Connetables: 9 members


8 Senechaux: 3 members


9 Nautonier: 1 member


The office of Nautonnier or Navigator,is symbolized by the boat of Isis.


“Isis holds in her right hand a small sailing ship with the spindle of a spinning wheel for its mast. From the top of the mast projects a water jug, its handle shaped like a serpent swelled with venom. This indicates that Isis steers the bark of life, full of troubles and miseries, on the stormy ocean of Time. The spindle symbolizes the fact that she spins and cuts the thread of life.” - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy


The boat of Isis “was positioned in the constellation of Argo. Specifically, in Egypt this constellation was named Sothis or Soth-Isis, the Star of Isis. Furthermore, in the Egyptian legends this vessel represented the female organ of generation.” - David Wood, Genisis


The Ark of the Covenant of the ancient Israelites is believed to have been modelled after the ceremonial ark of Isis.


The Grand Masters


“...It would seem that Sion’s Grand Mastership has recurrently shifted between two essentially distinct groups of individuals. On the one hand there are figures of monumental stature who - through esoterica, the arts or sciences - have produced some impact on Western tradition, history and culture. On the other hand, there are members of a specific and interlinked network of families - noble, and sometimes royal.” - Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“...The first Grand Master, the twelfth-century Norman knight Jean de Gisors, took the name Jean II and pose the question: ‘Who, then was Jean I?’ They offer a few suggestions - John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and John the Divine - before dropping the subject.” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


“This succession was clearly intended to imply an esoteric and Hermetic papacy based on John, in contrast (and perhaps opposition) to the exoteric one based on Peter.” - Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


It has been alleged that Hughes de Payens, first Grand Master of the Knights Templar, had been inducted into the Johannites, a sect which chose John the Baptist as their prophet. According to the dossiers secrets, each of the alleged Grand Masters of the Prieure de Sion took the name Jean in succession (supposedly influencing the name chosen by Pope John XXIII). One of the Grand Masters on the list, Leonardo da Vinci, displayed a strong interest in John the Baptist. Another, Sir Isaac Newton, became preoccupied with the writings of the Apocalypse, then attributed to John the Evangelist.


According to the dossiers secrets, the following individuals were amongst the Grand Masters:


René d’Anjou (1418-80) - a major impetus behind the Renaissance through his literacy and influence on Cosimo de’Medici setting up bastions of esoteric, Hermetic principles - the ‘underground stream’. Legend records that the d’Anjous were descended from Ann the Jew, daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, who supposedly carried the Davidic blood line and settled in western France. Later, the D’Anjou branched into the Houses of De Guise and De Lorraine.


René d’Anjou “was related to the king of France by marriage and remained a trusted ally during the war with England. On paper, René was one of the most powerful men in Europe. Unfortunately, after the failure of his Italian campaign, he was nothing more than a patron of the arts and collector of books. René was co-sponsor of the Arcadia revival in the late 15th century.” - enoch@execulink.com


“Through his patronage of art, literature and the advancement of knowledge René is one of the most important figures of the formative years of the Renaissance....It was directly as a result of René’s influence that Cosimo de Medici sent agents out to look for ancient texts, which resulted in the revival of Neoplatonic and Hermetic thought...” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


Nicholas Flamel (1330-1418) - Most famous of the alchemists, “the Paris notary Nicolas Flamel...claimed that he dreamed of an occult book, subsequently found it, and succeeded in deciphering it with the aid of a Jewish scholar learned in the mystic Hebrew writings known as the Kabbala. In 1382 Flamel claimed to have succeeded in the ‘Great Work’ (gold making); certainly he became rich and made donations to churches.” - Encyclopaedia Britannica


“...One alchemical symbol that is widely acknowledged by modern scholars is that of an old bearded man, the back of whose head shows a young woman looking into a mirror. A statue with this image graces the exterior of Nantes cathedral, as does a bearded king with the body of a woman, in the porch at Chartres that depicts the Queen of Sheba.”


“The hermaphrodite is a pure alchemical symbol, representing the perfect balance achieved in the Great Work, and the perfect being, in which the alchemist himself is transformed and transmuted spiritually - and, as many believe, physically as well. It was a ‘consummation devoutly to be wished’ and had little, if anything, to do with sexuality as we understand it today. The Great Work was an explosion of the potential into the actual, where they mystical quest takes on concrete form. As the alchemists said, ‘as above, so below’ - this process was believed to make spirit into matter and transmute one sort of matter into another. It made a man into a god.” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


Revered by men like Newton, Flamel was the discoverer of The Sacred Book of Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer and Philosopher to that Tribe of Jews who by the Wrath of God were Dispersed amongst the Gauls which became one of the most famous works in Western esoteric tradition.


Sandro Filipepi (1483-1510) - better known as Botticelli, the renowned Renaissance painter. Botticelli’s Primavera “is a complex Neo-Platonic allegory, drawing on some verses by Politian. Mercury, who is Reason, is plucking fruit from a tree; so young Lorenzo’s reason will come to fruition if united with humane culture. The Three Graces are dancing: they are Splendor, Youth, happiness, or Grace. Beauty, Faith. Their threeness speaks of Christian mystery. At the same time they are associated with Venus; Pico speaks of the division of the unity of Venus into the Three Graces. Over Venus’s head Cupid aims at these three; they too must aspire to God through love. On the other side Zephyrus, the West Wind, comes from the sun’s setting with the nymph Flora, who is transformed into the serene goddess with the flowery dress. A picture of spring, then, but symbolizing the awakening of the love of God through humane culture.” - John Ferguson, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Mysticism and the Mystery Religions


Other famous Botticeli paintings include The Birth of Venus and Mars and Venus.


Leonardo de Vinci (1510-19) - “Having little formal education, Leonardo enthusiastically accepted Nicholas’s [of Cusa] new worldview [of an universe with no limits in space, no beginning or ending in time] as a justification for rejecing the outmoded authority of the ‘pharisees - the ‘holy friars’ and of his ‘adversaries’ Plato and Aristotole.”


“For the first time since the Ionians, he put forward a conception of science that was wholly secular, in no way based on religious doctrines or philosophy....In Leonardo the craftsman, scientist, and inventor are merged into one.” - Eric Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened


“Leonardo was left-handed; he was a strict vegetarian; he dissected dead bodies, he sought the company of alchemists and necromancers; he worked on a Sunday and only attended Mass when at court.”


“The only surviving sculpture that involved Leonardo in its making is the statue of John the Baptist in the Baptistry in Florence, on which he collaborated with the utmost secrecy with Giovan Francesco Rustici, a known necromancer and alchemist. And Leonardo’s last painting was ‘John the Baptist’, showing him with the same half-smile as ‘The Mona Lisa’, and pointing straight upwards with the index finger of his right hand. This in Leonardo’s work is a sign always associated with John: in the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ a person stands by the elevated roots of a carob tree - John’s tree, symbol of sacrifical blood - while making this gesture. In his famous cartoon of St. Anne the subject also does this, warning an oblivious Virgin...The disciple whose face is perhaps accusingly close to Jesus’ in ‘The Last Supper’ is also making this gesture. All these gestures are saying ‘remember John’.” - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled


Robert Fludd (1595-1637) - “inherited John Dee’s mantle as England’s leading exponent of esoteric thought” who consorted with Andrea, amongst others involved in the ‘Rosicrucian’ movement.


“Historian Frances Yates, in her book The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, in a chapter entitled ‘Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry’, quotes one De Quincey, who states, ‘Freemasonry is neither more nor less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it in England, whence it was re-exported to the other countries of Europe.’ De Quincey states that Robert Fludd was the person most responsible for bringing Rosicrucianism to England and giving it its new name.” - Gerry Rose ,”The Venetian Takeover of England and Its Creation of Freemasonry”


Johann Valenin Andrea (1637-54) - “the creator of the semi-secret Christian unions and author of the Rosicrucian manifestos, a Hermetic allegory which also evokes resonances with the Grail Romances and the Knights Templar. At this time, with the eclipse of the House of Lorraine, the Priory transferred its allegiance to the more influential Stuarts after Frederick of the Palatinate married Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I of England. Frederick “created a culture, a ‘Rosicrucian’ state with its court centered on Heidelberg.” [Francis Yates] - Baigent & Leigh, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


“Through the historical detective work of Frances Yates, we now know that this era was a time when many ‘Rosicrucian’ ideas were moving to the Continent, and esoteric thinkers were confluencing around Frederick, Elector of the Palatinate of Bohemia, as the figure who would usher in the reforms of Church and State many expected.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


Robert Boyle (1654-91) - part of the “Invisible College” of dynamic English and European minds which became the Royal Society after the restoration of the monarch in 1160 with the Stuart ruler, Charles II as its patron and sponsor. His two closest friends were Isaac Newton and John Locke who met regularly with him to study alchemical works.


“In the ancient world alchemy was referred to simply as ‘the sacred art’. It flourished in the first three centuries A.D. in Alexandria, where it was the combined product of glass and metal technology, a Hellenistic philosophy of the unity of all things through the four elements (earth, air, water, fire), and ‘occult’ religion and astrology....The essential principle was that all things, both animate and inanimate, were permeated by spirit, and that the substances of the lower world could, through a synthesis of chemical operations and imaginative reasoning, be transmuted into higher things of the spiritual world - things not subject to decay.” - David Maybury-Lewis, Millenium


“The central idea of Gnosticism is that the material of which ‘soul and true being’ is composed is trapped through a series of cosmic misfortunes in a low-level universe that is alien to it. And the alchemists literalized these ideas to suggest that the spirit could somehow be distilled or coaxed from the dense matrix of matter.” - Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival


Isaac Newton (1691-1727) - “believed alchemy might enable human beings to shape and control the world by understanding and participating in its God-given vitality. He conducted alchemical experiments with great secrecy at Trinity College, Cambridge, working alone, even building his own furnaces without the aid of a bricklayer. He made a pact with the chemist John Boyle not to communicate their shared alchemical knowledge to others, because the ‘subtle’ and ‘noble’ powers of matter and the means of controlling them should be kept secret by those chosen by God to be entrusted with them.” - David Maybury Lewis, Millenium


“He had been obsessed...with the notion that a secret wisdom lay concealed within the pages of the Scriptures: Daniel of the Old Testament and John of the New particularly attracted him because ‘the language of the prophetic writings was symbolic and hieroglyphical and their comprehension required a radically different method of interpretation’.”


“He had learned Hebrew to do the job properly and had then carried out a...meticulous exercise on the book of Ezekiel...to produce a painstaking reconstruction of the floor plan of the Temple of Solomon...He had been convinced that the great edifice built to house the Ark of the Covenant had been a kind of cryptogram of the universe; if he could decipher this cryptogram, he had believed, then he would know the mind of God.” - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal


“Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than ten thousand years ago.”


Newton “saw the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues which God had hid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher’s treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood. He believed that these clues were to be found partly in the evidence of the heavens and in the constitution of elements, but also partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken chain back to the original cryptic revelation.” - John Maynard Keynes, Newton the Man


“Just as the world was created from dark chaos through the bringing forth of the light and through the separation of the aery firmament and of the waters from the earth, so our work brings forth the beginning out of black chaos and its first matter through the separation of the elements and the illumination of matter.” - Sir Isaac Newton


Charles Radclyffe (1727-46) - personal secretary to Bonnie Prince Charlie; promulgated, if not devised the “Scottish Rite” Freemasonry. Radclyffe worked through Chevalier Andrew Ramsay, a member of a quasi Masonic, quasi-”Rosicrucian” society called the Philadelphians. Ramsay, a close friend of Isaac Newton, was prominent in disseminating Freemasonry to the continent.


Charles de Lorraine (1746-80) - the brother of Francois, Duke of Lorraine who was the Holy Roman emperor who married Maria Theresa of Austria in 1735. The first European prince to become a mason, Francois’ court at Vienna became Europe’s Masonic capital.


Charles Nodier (1801-44) - the flamboyant mentor for an entire generation including young Victor Hugo, Balzac, Dalcroix, Dumas pere, Lamartine, Musset, Theophile Gautier, Gerard de Nerval and Alfred de Vigny - all who drew upon esoteric and Hermetic tradition. “Around 1793 he created another group - or perhaps an inner circle of the first [the Philadephes]- which included one of the subsequent plotters against Napoleon.” - William T. Still, New World Order


Victor Hugo (1844-85) “prophesied that in the Twentieth Century, war would die, frontier boundaries would die, dogma would die...and Man would live. ‘He will possess something higher than these...a great country, the Whole Earth...and a great hope, the Whole Heaven’.” - Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy


Claude Debussy (1885-1918)- an integral member of the symbolist circles which included Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Stefan George, Paul Valery, the young Andre Gide and Marcel Proust. He also consorted with the Marquis Stanislas de Guaita, founder of the so-called Cabalistic Order of the Rose-Croix, and Jules Boise, a notorious Satanist who prompted MacGregor Mathers to found the Order of the Golden Dawn.


Jean Cocteau (1918-) - an associate of Jacques Maritain and Andre Malraux, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (for his quiet work in the Resistance?). Although associated with royalist Catholic circles, Cocteau’s Catholicism was highly unorthodox and his redecorations of churches reflected Rosicrucian themes.


- List from Baigent & Leigh, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail


The Modern Merovingian Connection


(1) Napoleon Bonaparte


“Sion appears to have been at the nexus of two French anti-monarchical movements, the Compagnie du St.-Sacrament of the 17th century (acting on behalf on the Guise-Lorraine families) and the Fronde of the 18th, as well as an attempt to make the Hapsburgs emperors of all Europe in the 19th- the Hieron du Val d’Or.” - Steve Mizrach,”The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Château and the Prieure du Sion”


“...In 1740, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta caused the Bull of Pope Clement XII, to be published in that island, and forbade the meetings of the Freemasons. On this occasion several Knights and many citizens left the island; and in 1741, the Inquisition persecuted the Freemasons at Malta. The Grand Master proscribed their assemblies under severe penalties, and six Knights were banished from the island in perpetuity for having assisted at a meeting.” - Commander Gourdin (from A Sketch of the Knight Templars and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem by Richard Woof)


“In 1796 Napoleon was one of three revolutionary ‘Directors’ heading the government. Another ‘Director’ was Abbe Sieyes, who knew of certain genealogical researches that had been undertaken by one Abbe Pichon. Pichon had access to the royal archives captured by the revolutionary government, where some important genealogies had been hidden away, and he discovered that a direct descent from Dagobert II had been maintained up to then.”


“...Abbe Seiyes urged Napoleon to marry Josephine Beauhamais because she was a Merovingian descendant, and to adopt her two children by a previous marriage who were of this anciently royal stock.” In 1798 “on the way to Egypt, Bonaparte detoured to capture Malta and the treasure held by the Knights of Malta.” - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic


“It was fortunate for the French that there was little fight left in the Knights of St. John...the last Grand Master, the apathetic von Hompesch, made only a show of resistance before accepting Bonaparte’s terms...For the cost of three men killed, the French secured an invaluable naval base and a great deal of treasure...”


“Over the five days following the island’s capture, Bonaparte tore apart and refashioned every aspect of Maltese life. The Order of St. John was abolished and its members departed, apart from a handful who were persuaded to join the Army of Egypt...The treasures of the Order, amassed over 500 years, were promptly sequestered... and seven million francs’ worth was diverted to the military chest.” - David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon


“...At his coronation as Emperor in 1804 he adorned his imperial robe with the gold bee figurines which had been discovered in the tomb of Childeric I, father of Clovis. Napoleon styled himself Emperor of the Franks, not ‘Emperor of the French’...” - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic


A clue to the gold bee figurines on Napoleon’s imperial robe may be the Sarmoung Society.


(2) Vichy France


“To Saint-Yves d’Alveydre the Templars stood for a policy of federation and universal peace which went back to the Carolingians of the early Middle Ages. Like many French conservative thinkers, including (many years after him) Charles de Gaulle, he felt that the ancien rŽgime in France had take a wrong turning, responsible for its later catastrophe, which he could identify. Unfortunately his choice of the Templars as a solution to the supposed riddle of the French monarchy was wrong; they had performed none of the functions that he attributed to them, and his speculations about them were daydreams added to the old fantasies of Aroux. [who had portrayed the Middle Ages as having been penetrated by a vast Manichaean conspiracy].”


“The Vichy regime legislated against Freemasonry, and co-operated with the Germans in identifying and acting against Masons. But, even within the regime itself, people were very doubtful that Freemasonry had genuinely been banished. In the so-called ‘Chavin Report’, which seems to have originated from within or near government circles, allegations were made that large number of people in responsible positions belonged to Masonic political groups called ‘synarchist’ which had been in existence since the 1920s. These synarchists were supposed to have been inspired in part by the doctrine of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre. They were represented as a group of influential politicians, businessmen, and so-called ‘technocrats’ who had been plotting to seize power ever since a reputed ‘Synarchist Revolutionary Pact’ of 1922.” - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians


During second world war in France, a recent grand master of the Prieure de Sion, M. Plantard, was grand master of Alpha Galantes.


“He hinted that beneath its pro-Vichy and Petainist patina, Vaincre [the journal of Alpha Galantes] contained coded messages and instruction which would have been decipherable only to the Resistance....Vaincre had been printed by Poirier Murat, Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur, holder of the Medaille Militaire and officer in the French Resistance.”


“According to Vaincre and Alpha Galantes, chivalry was to be the instrument of national renewal for France: ‘...a chivalry is indispensable because our country cannot be reborn except through its knights.’”


In the fifth issue of Vaincre, dated 21 January 1943, “a great German, one of the Masters in our Order” is quoted as saying: “It is therefore with total confidence that I depart to perform my mission; for while not deluding myself about the perils I run in discharging my duty, I know that until my last breath my watchword will consist in recognition of Alpha and fidelity to its chief.”


“This statement is ascribed to Hans von Moltke, a career diplomat” and “also a cousin of Claus von Stauffenberg.... Helmut James von Moltke, together with Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, was the leader of the so-called Kreisau Circle, the civilian wing of the German Resistance to Hitler.” Both Alpha Galantes and the Kreisau Circle “were intent on youth movements and on mobilizing the resources of European youth. Both insisted on a moral and spiritual renewal - an opposition, in Moltke’s words, ‘based on fundamental principles’. Both were essentially chivalric in their orientation. And both were dedicated to the eventual creation of a United States of Europe.” - Baigent and Leigh, Holy Blood and Holy Grail


(3) Heroes of the Resistance


On February 13, 1973 the Midi Libre “suggested that the Merovingian descendants included ‘a true pretender to the throne of France’, whom it identified as M. Alain Poher....During the Second World War he won the Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guierre. Following the resignation of de Gaulle, he was provisional President of France from April 28th to June 19th, 1969. He occupied the same position on the death of Georges Pompidou, from April 2nd to May 27th, 1974. In 1973...M. Poher was President of the French Senate.” - Baigent and Leigh, Holy Blood and Holy Grail


“During the Second World War, while Poher was doing something heroic in the Resistance to win the Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guerre, and while Plantard [future Nautonnier of the Priory of Sion] defied the Nazis and suffered torture for it, the Cross of Lorraine was adopted as the symbol of the Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle. This cross, having two cross-bars instead of one, originated with the ancient French house of Anjou, where Guiot found his tale about Percival. It was later adopted by the Merovingian-descended rulers of Lorraine in the old Sicambrian heartland on the Rhine.” - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic


“Invited in 1947 by the Federal Government of Switzerland, he [Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair) resided for several years there, near Lake Leman, where numerous charges de missions and delegates from the entire world are gathered.” - Anne Lea Hisler (Plantard’s wife)


“The Marshall Plan, the financial and political plan for the reconstruction of Europe, was thrashed out at Lake Leman in Switzerland. The American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had approved this plan, and two of his closest friends and advisors had backgrounds and interests as disreputable as Pierre Plantard’s. One such advisor, the financial wizard, Bernard Baruch, was a graduate of a French ‘hermetic’ school and was the financial architect of the so-called Marshall Plan. He visited Lake Leman frequently in the immediate post-war years.”


“Baruch had been a disciple of George Gurdjieff, a Cathar-like mystic who had founded the ‘Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man’ in Fontainbleu, France during the 1920’s and 1930s.” - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic


(4) De Gaulle’s Rise to Power


In 1957 the specter of a civil war loomed in France. “In Algeria, a network of semi-secret societies began to appear, the Comites de Salut Public (Committees of Public Safety). Modeled on the Committees of Public Safety during the French Revolution, the Algerian network undertook to weld French interests, the French Army and the French population of North Africa into a cohesive and unified force which would constitute a bulwark against Algerian independence and keep the colony permanently attached to France....They received support from a number of high-ranking military men, including Marshal Alphonse Juin, who is alleged to have been an important member of the Prieure de Sion.”


“In April, 1958, the newly elected French government signaled a desire to resolve the Algerian crisis by granting independence to the colony.” In reaction the Committees of Public Safety staged a coup d’Žtat in Algeria and Committees established in France helped to sweep de Gaulle into power. “For at least some of the French Committees...the primary objective seems to have been installing de Gaulle in the Presidency, and Algeria may have been wholly incidental, if not irrelevant. It is difficult to be certain about this, however, simply because the Committees themselves, especially in France, were so shadowy. They were obviously widespread, obviously very well organized - a true ‘secret army’, with many links with the regular army. But firm information about them is virtually impossible to obtain, and reliable documentation is virtually non-existent.”


When de Gaulle began to negotiate with Algerian nationalist leaders for the country’s independence, the Algerian Committees formed the “OAS, the Organization de l’Armee Secrete, or secret Army Organization, which pledged itself to avenge what it saw as de Gaulle’s treason.” In order to dissolve the mainland French Committees and leave the Algerian Committees isolated, “M. Plantard established the Central Paris Committee, which imposed itself as a kind of ad hoc authority over the other committees already in existence and proceeded in effect to hijack them. De Gaulle, in the meantime, was able to maintain a serene Olympian aloofness from the apparently ‘grass-roots’ movement which swept him to power - as well as from the potentially awkward process of having personally to dismantle the organizational apparatus of that movement before it could be turned against him.”


Andre Malraux, who “by 1947... had mobilized a private army, the RPF, or Ressemblement du Peuple Francais - to secure de Gaulle’s position and thwart Communist attempts to seize power in France” was also claimed as a member of the Prieure de Sion. - Baigent and Leigh, Holy Blood and Holy Grail




Who/What Are Masons


What is Freemasonry?


Freemasonry (or simply, Masonry) is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and truth. We strive to enjoy the company of our brother Masons, assist them in times of personal trouble, and reinforce essential moral values. There is an old adage that Masonry "takes good men and makes them better", which is our goal.


It has often been observed that men are the products of everything they come into contact with during their lifetime. Masonry offers a man an opportunity to come into regular, enjoyable contact with men of good character, thus reinforcing his own personal moral development. Of course, Masonry is also meant to be enjoyed by its membership, so the order should not be viewed simply as a philosophical club, but rather a vibrant fellowship of men who seek to enjoy each other’s company, a fraternity.


To maintain this fraternity, discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge is forbidden, as these subjects are those that have often divided men in the past. Masons cover the spectrum of both religious and political beliefs and encourages a man to be religious without advocating a particular religion, and to be active in his community without advocating a particular medium of political expression.


While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual "operative" work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet "on the level", meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools.


Masonry is distinguished from other fraternal orders by its emphasis on moral character, its ornate rituals, and its long tradition and history, which dates back to at least the 17th century in modern form, the 14th century (c. 1350-1390) in the written evidence of its precursors, and back to the mists of antiquity in its origin. Masonry has a continuously documented paper history (i.e., Lodge to Lodge) since 1717, though historical analysis shows Masonry to be much older.


There are also a great many things that Masonry is NOT: a religion, a secret society, etc., and these will be covered later in this FAQ. > There are three degrees in Masonry. Other appendant bodies confer additional degrees, up to the 32nd (or the honorary 33rd) of the Scottish Rite, but in symbolic Masonry (or Blue Lodge Masonry) proper, there are only three. At the Blue Lodge, Masons receive the degrees of Entered Apprentice (first degree), Fellowcraft (second degree), and Master Mason (third degree). Promotion generally requires the mastery of a small body of memorized material, the contents of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, only the signs, tokens, and grips of each degree must be learned; in others, a longer amount of material.


Of course, no Mason would ever look down upon a Brother simply because he was of a lower degree-- the degrees do not exist to create a pecking order or to confer rank. Rather, they are a system of initiation that allows men to become familiar with the august and ancient history and principles of Masonry at a comfortable pace. Proceeding from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason in the US can take as little as three months, while in England, the degrees are spaced apart by a year’s interval.


Most Lodges have regular communications (meetings) once a month, that are also referred to as "business meetings". In the US, these are typically only open to Master Masons. In England, these meetings are usually opened in the first degree, and EAs may attend). Conferring of degrees is usually done at other meetings during the month.


While conferral of degrees and mundane business do take up a lot of a Lodge’s time, there are a host of other activities that Masons engage in within the fraternity. Charitable work is often done, in the form of fundraisers, community volunteer work, etc. And there are also a great many things done for the simple pleasure of company: monthly breakfasts or dinners, picnics, card/chess matches, lecturers on Masonic history, you name it. Masonry is a fraternity, and its membership seeks to have fun.


Local Masonic Lodges are organized under Grand Lodges. In the United States, each state has its own Grand Lodge, which is a peer with every other Grand Lodge. There is not "Grandest Lodge"-- each Grand Lodge is supreme in its jurisdiction (e.g., in the US, in its state) but has no authority elsewhere. Of course, this does not mean that Masonry in New York is radically different than Masonry in Scotland or New Mexico. Masons are very traditional and the differences between Grand Lodges are usually minor.


The head of a Lodge is given the title Worshipful Master. This, of course, does not imply that Masons worship him; it is merely a stylish title. Masonic Lodges can be found in many cities, of all sizes, around the world. There are presently approximately 5 million Masons, half of which are in the United States.


What is the Scottish Rite?


The Scottish Rite is an appendant body of Masonry, meaning that it is not part of the Blue Lodge per se, but closely associated with Masonry. It requires that a man be a Master Mason before joining the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite confers the 4th through 32nd degrees. The degree work may be, but is not necessarily, completed at one time. Any Master Mason is eligible to join the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Scottish Rite continue the symbolism of the first three Masonic degrees. For a discussion of the 33rd degree, see question 9 of this section.


The above refers to the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR), not the Rectified Scottish Rite , which exists both in UGLE-recognised and non-recognised Masonic bodies in the Europe.


What is the York Rite?


The York Rite, like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Masonry, and confers degrees beyond the Blue Lodge’s three degrees. It consists of nine degrees additional degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.


The Temple degrees, which comprise the top degrees of the York Rite are specifically Christian. Or at least, it can be stated that the oath is: in some Grand Lodges in the US and abroad, one need not be a Christian, but rather only be willing to take a Christian OATH. The difference here is that there are some who would willingly swear to defend the Christian faith on the grounds that they would defend any man’s faith. The Chapter (or Royal Arch) and Council Of Royal And Select Masters (Cryptic Rite), which comprise the first two sections of the York Rite, are not specifically Christian.


As with most things Masonic, discuss any concerns with your local York Rite, who can advise you regarding your eligibility.


What is the Shrine?


The Shrine is not an appendant body of Masonry, though the distinction would escape many. The Shrine confers no additional degrees. It was founded in 1872 (the Mecca Temple in New York City) and an Arabic theme was chosen. Hence, the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions.


Members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America (AASONM is an anagram for "A MASON") are members of the Scottish Rite’s 32nd degree, and/or Knights Templer of the York Rite. The Shrine is most noted for its emphasis on philanthropy and its jolly outlook on life-- it has been called "the playground of Masonry". This is expressed as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness."


The Royal Order of Jesters is a group drawn from Shrine membership, by invitation only.


What is the Eastern Star?


The Order of the Eastern Star is an adoptive rite of Freemasonry with teachings based on the Bible and objectives that are charitable and benevolent. The founder of OES was Dr. Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, who was a Master Mason and Past Grand Master of Kentucky. Dr. Morris intended his creation to become a female branch of Freemasonry, but he failed to overcome the great opposition this idea engendered. After his first published ritual in 1849-50, he became associated with Robert Macoy who wrote and published a ritual based on Morris’ in 1867. The first Grand Chapter was organized in Michigan in the same year. (There is evidence for an organization of the same name founded variously in 1788 or 1793, but this group was defunct by 1867.) Subordinate (local) chapters operate under charter from state level grand chapters which are responsible to the General Grand Chapter at the International Eastern Star temple in Washington, D.C.


Members must be eighteen years or older and either Master Masons in good standing or properly related to a Master Mason in good standing. The latter category includes wives; widows; sisters; daughters; mothers; granddaughters; step-mothers; step daughters; step-sisters; and half-sisters. In 1994 this was expanded to include nieces, daughters-in- law, and grandmothers.


Each chapter has eighteen officers, some elected and others appointed. Two offices are specifically male (Patron and Associate Patron) while nine offices are specifically female (including Matron and Associate Matron). While the Worthy Matron is considered to be the presiding officer of the chapter, the degrees cannot be conferred without a presiding brother in good standing (hence the Patron and Associate Patron).


Each chapter retains the right to decide who shall be a member of the organization. Election to the degrees must be unanimous, without debate, and secret. The successful candidate must profess a belief in a Supreme Being and is initiated in five degrees, which are conferred in one ceremony. (When Eastern Star was created, it was intended to be the first of a three degree series. The second and third degrees were Queen of the South and the Order of the Amaranth, respectively.)


Interestingly enough, OES requires only the belief in a Supreme Being even though the degrees are based in both the Old and New Testaments. While non-Christians are not specifically barred from membership, it would seem to be difficult to be other than Christian and belong to the Order. (Thanks to <EM>Joy Leavy</EM> for this section)


What is DeMolay?


The International Order of DeMolay is the world’s largest fraternal organization for young men between the ages of 13 and 21. The Order was founded in Kansas City, Missouri on March 24, 1919 by Frank Sherman Land. DeMolay Chapters are sponsored by Masonic Lodges, and some members of the sponsoring body also serve as Advisors on the Chapter’s Advisory Council. Structurally, it is similar to Masonry. The officers of a Chapter are the Master Councilor, Senior Councilor, Junior Councilor, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Senior Steward, Junior Steward, Orator, Scribe, Marshal, Chaplain, Standard Bearer, Sentinel, Almoner, and seven Preceptors.


DeMolay Chapters hold monthly or bi-weekly meetings with Masonic-like Ritual. Other activities include athletic tournaments and events, social functions (joint activities with Rainbow are encouraged), fund-raising activities, Masonic service activities, and civic and philanthropic activities.


DeMolays are taught the seven cardinal virtues of the Order--filial love, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanness, and patriotism-- and the importance of practicing them in their daily lives.


The Order’s namesake is Jacques DeMolay, who was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar and who was executed by the Inquisition on March 18, 1314. Louis Lower, the first DeMolay, and his group of friends, when asked by Dad Land to choose a name for their group, believed that his heroic fidelity and loyalty to his fellow Templars were qualities with which they wanted their group to be identified. Mind you, Dad Land explained this to them before they chose their name.


What is Rainbow?


Rainbow is the complement to DeMolay, enrolling girls between the age of 13 and 20 if they are related to members of a Masonic Lodge or the Eastern Star. It confers two degrees, the Initiatory and the Grand Cross of Color.


What are some other Masonic organizations?


Acacia: A college fraternity for Master Masons, the sons of Masons, and young men recommended by two Masons one of whom is an Acacian himself. The national governing board is composed exclusively of 32nd and 33rd degree Masons.


Order of Amaranth: Open to Masons and their wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters. At least one Master Mason must be present at every initiation. It confers only one degree.


Daughters of Mokanna: An auxiliary organization of the Grotto comprised of the wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters of the Master Masons in the Grotto.


Daughters of the Nile: An auxiliary organization for the wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters of members of the Shrine.


Desoms: An organization for deaf Masons.


Grotto: A fun organization open to Master Masons. It imitates the Shrine to a large degree, but requires only that a member be a Master Mason rather than a 32nd degree Mason or Knight Templar. Officially known as The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (MOVPER).


High Twelve International: An organization of Master Masons that usually meet for lunch, enjoy fellowship, and support Masonic causes, with special emphasis on youth and patriotic endeavors.


Job’s Daughters: Enrolls girls between the ages of 13 and 20 that have some Masonic relative. They must profess a belief in God, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s prayer.


L.O.S. of N.A.: The Ladies’ Oriental Shrine of North America. Another auxiliary for the wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters of Shrine members.


National Sojourners, Inc.:  Open to Master Masons which are U.S. citizens and who have served or are serving as a commissioned or warrant officer in the United States military or in any armed service of a nation allied with the US in time of war.


Philalethes: A group for Masons interested in Masonic philosophy and history.


Royal Order of Scotland: An organization for Christian Masons who have been 32nd degree Masons or Knights Templar for five or more years.


Tall Cedars of Lebanon: A fun organization for Master Masons similar to the Grotto. It confers the two degrees of the Royal Court and the Sidonian.


White Shrine of Jerusalem: For Master Masons and their wives, mothers, daughters, widows, and sisters. Members must profess a belief in the defense of the Christian religion.


What is Co-Masonry?


Co-Masonry refers to Masonic Lodges that admit both men and women. Co-Masonry traces its heritage back to the 19th century.


There are two Grand Lodges of Co-Masonry with jurisdiction in America: Le Droit Humain, a GL based in Paris, France and the original Co-Masonic organization in the US, and the American Federation of Human Rights (aka American Co-Masonry), which is based in Larkspur, Colorado.


The degree structure differs slightly from standard Blue Lodge structure (i.e., the Scottish Rite is worked as part of the regular Lodge, not a separate organization), but in most things Co-Masonic lodges function as regular Masonic lodges.


What is Prince Hall Masonry?


This section is excerpted from the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick’s annual communication. I wish there were some Prince Hall Masons who could provide better information.


There are some schools of thought that Prince Hall (his name not a title) was born in Barbados to a free black woman and a Scottish father. He emigrated to the Colony of Boston, Mass. and acquired real estate, making him eligible to vote. It was also documented that he was a devout Christian and a leather-worker by trade. On March 6, 1775, during the American War of Independence, Prince Hall along with fourteen men of color were made Masons in Army Lodge #441 of the Irish Constitution. When Army Lodge moved on, the aforesaid brethren were issued a permit authorizing them to appear publicly as a Masonic body for the purpose of celebrating the feast of St. John and to bury their dead.


On March 2, 1784, these same brethren applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a charter, which was subsequently issued to them on September 29, 1784. They were warranted under the name of African Lodge, No. 459 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England by authority of then Grand Master, the Duke of Cumberland. Prince Hall was the first Master. That charter, which is authenticated and in safekeeping, is believed to be the only original charter issued from the Grand Lodge of England still in the possession of any Lodge in the United States.


African Lodge allowed itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790’s and was stricken from the rolls after the Union of 1813, although it had attempted correspondence in 1802 and 1806. In 1827, after other unreplied-to attempts at communication, it declared its independence of any external authority and began to call itself African Grand Lodge No. 1.


It is interesting to note that when the Massachusetts lodges which were acting as a Provincial Grand Lodge declared themselves an independent Grand Lodge, and even when the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed by the amalgamation of two separate Grand Lodges, African Lodge was not invited to take part, even though it held a warrant every bit as valid as those others. This may be explained in part by this 1795 quote from John Eliot, who later became Grand Chaplain of the Gr. Lodge of Mass. He wrote, &quot;White Masons, who are not more skilled in geometry than their black brethren, will not acknowledge them... .the truth is they are ashamed of being on an equality with blacks.


Today there are 45 Grand Lodges (the latest being the just formed &quot;Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Caribbean&quot;) that trace their origin back to African Lodge #459. There are more than 5000 Prince Hall Lodges and over 300,000 members. So far as it is known, their ritual, their secrets, their procedures, their requirements, their beliefs, their tenets or fundamental principles, are all either identical with ours, or recognizably similar.


To add to this:


The United Grand Lodge of England has now officially recognized Prince Hall Lodges. Many US Grand Lodges have recognized PH GLs within their jurisdictions, and it has been or is being discussed in other jurisdictions. Since every Grand Lodge is autonomous and the supreme authority in its jurisdiction, this issue must be approached on a state-by-state basis.


Some have criticized Masonry as &quot;segregated&quot; due to the Prince Hall Lodges, but this is a ridiculous claim, since there are many black Masons in non-PH Lodges and white members in PH Lodges, and displays a fundamental ignorance of Masonic history.


What is a 33rd degree Mason?


The Scottish Rite awards a special honorary degree, the 33rd, to those it feels has made an outstanding contribution to Masonry, the community as a whole, and to mankind. There is no way to &quot;achieve&quot; this degree or &quot;take&quot; it, in the sense that one takes the 4th through 32nd degrees in the Scottish Rite. It is a singular honor, rarely bestowed, and greatly admired.


Are there any Masonic functions that I can attend as a non-Mason?


Yes. Many Lodges open their installation of officers to the public. Once a year, a new Worshipful Master takes office. The ceremony performed during his inauguration is public. It is not the same ceremony as would be performed in a regular Masonic ritual or degree, but it does have the flavoring of Masonic symbolism and allows the public to &quot;get a feel for Masonry&quot; without being Masons. NOTE: Not all jurisdictions have public installations. Call or write your local lodge for details.


In addition, many Lodges sponsor public functions throughout the year, such as dinners or charity functions, designed to allow non-Masons who are interested in Masonry the chance to talk with Masons and ask questions. For information, call your local Lodge.


Who is the head of the Masons?


No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another.


Are there dues, fees, etc. associated with being a Mason?


Yes. Like all organizations, Lodges must be able to pay their light bills. Typically, there is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Masonry, as well as regular annual dues. But these vary widely depending on the number of members, cost of living (rent in Manhattan is higher than it is in rural Oklahoma), the actual physical facilities of the Lodge, etc. The fees and dues, however, are not prohibitively expensive (the author is a college student and has no problem with them). Rather than give a single figure which may be very different than your local Lodge charges, or publishing an extended table of costs, it is easiest to simply refer the interested to their local Lodge.


Incidentally, many Grand Lodge jurisdictions provide for &quot;life membership&quot; after a Mason has paid dues for a long period. For example, in Michigan a Mason is no longer asked to pay dues after he has been a Mason for forty years. Other jurisdictions allow members to pay a lump sum for life membership. As with almost everything in Masonry, check with your local Grand Lodge or Lodge for more information.


I hear Masons refer to an Masonic apron. What is that?


During the ceremonies of his initiation, each Mason is presented with a white apron. It is, to him, an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. It has, in all ages, been cherished by the rich, the poor, the high and the low. It is his for life. He will never receive another one and has, therefore, been cautioned to take it home and instructed in its care. While perfectly satisfactory for him to do so if he desires, he need not bring it to Lodge, as linen aprons are provided for his use meetings.


The above applies to the US. In many other countries, the Master Mason owns his regalia and brings it to the Lodge.


What is a Masonic Funeral?


Any member who was in good standing at the time of his death is entitled to a Masonic funeral if he or his family requests it. Such a request should be made to the Master of his Lodge who will make the necessary arrangements with the family, the mortuary, and the minister. A service is authorized by the jurisdiction in which you are located, and consists of participation at the mortuary, the beginning at the mortuary and the closing at the graveside, or graveside only. Pallbearers will be furnished at the request of the family. In general, the Lodge will do as much or as little as the nearest relative wishes it to do.




Masons face showdown with MPs (920220)


Head to head at the Commons


THE leaders of Britain’s Freemasons were locked in a struggle with MPs last night after being ordered to lift the cloak of secrecy surrounding their organisation and name members allegedly involved in a series of police scandals.


The United Grand Lodge of England risks being charged with contempt of Parliament if refuses to produce the information, which the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee demanded months ago.


The move, at the end of an acrimonious session of the committee, is the second challenge to the secrecy of the movement in two days. On Wednesday, Jack Straw said that Masons working in the criminal justice system would have to be registered.


The Home Affairs Select Committee had asked the Grand Lodge last summer to identify which of 161 people involved in a series of notorious police inquiries -including the Birmingham pub bombings and the John Stalker investigation -were Masons. The Lodge, which says it has found only ten possible Masons on the list, refused and yesterday the committee lost patience and took the rare step of issuing a formal order.


That decision was said last night to demonstrate a “sea change” in attitudes towards Freemasonry. Martin Short, author of Inside the Brotherhood, said: “The idea that a parliamentary committee should be calling the Masons to account in quite this peremptory manner is astonishing. If you go back thirty, twenty or even ten years it is inconceivable this would have happened. This shows that a huge amount of public concern that has existed for maybe 100 years has finally come out.”


There are 340,000 Freemasons in England and Wales, and their influence reaches into the Royal Family. The committee that must decide how to respond to the MPs’ order includes the Duke of Kent, the Grand Master; Lord Farnham, a pro-Grand Master; the Marquess of Northampton; Earl Cadogan; the retired Court of Appeal judge Sir John Balcombe; and Judge John Sessions, a Judge Advocate of the Fleet.


They will have 14 days to reply after receiving formal notification of the order from the Commons Serjeant at Arms. Although their librarian indicated that they would comply with the order, it is by no means certain that the board of general purposes of the United Grand Lodge will agree to the request.


Chris Mullin, the select committee chairman who has taken a close interest in the case of the Birmingham Six since before he became an MP in 1987, said: “It is obvious that the powers of the committee are being challenged and we owe it to ourselves and to Parliament to rise to the occasion.” The committee was not prejudging the issue of Masonic involvement in the cases. “We cannot come to a conclusion until we see who was a Mason,” he said.


The committee’s decision came after an hour of angry questioning during which both Mr Mullin and Commander Michael Higham, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge, came close to losing their tempers.


Mr Mullin said that 96 of the 161 names on the list presented to the United Grand Lodge were former members of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, which was disbanded in 1989 for corruption.


About 60 -including some journalists -were involved with the investigation that led to the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six. Seven were involved in investigating Mr Stalker, the former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester who was suspended in 1986 while conducting an inquiry into shoot-to-kill allegations against the Royal Ulster Constabulary.


Commander Higham accused MPs of conducting a “fishing expedition” and complained that the events under consideration dated back to the Seventies and Eighties. “I rather think the whole thing is pretty academic. If it was a recent case of bad police work or a miscarriage of justice, we would be dealing with the police authority, not this committee,” he said.


Mr Mullin retorted that 30 convictions had been overturned as a result of the Serious Crime Squad’s activities. The committee had been told by police officers -including Masons -that Freemasons had operated within the squad as “firms within firms”.


When Commander Higham complained that there still had not been any specific allegations, Mr Mullin told him: “They were holding plastic bags over people’s heads in order to get confessions.”


He also accused Commander Higham of going back on a assurance given last November that he would release the names on the understanding that only Mr Mullin himself and the committee’s two clerks saw them.


Mr Higham did tell MPs that 14 possible Freemasons had been identified among the 96 Serious Crime Squad names, but that had been reduced to ten. Three of those, when contacted by letter, said they had never served with the squad; three had served with the squad, although one became a Mason only after leaving it; three had not replied and the tenth had left the Masons and moved.


Commander Higham went on to say that there was a feeling among Freemasons of “impending persecution” over government plans for registers of members working in the criminal justice system, and there was a good deal of anger about the slur on their integrity. “We know we have a few bad apples, the rest of ordinary Freemasons are decent chaps,” he said.


Mr Higham added that Masons would not necessarily know who was a fellow member, since secret signs of recognition were not used promiscuously. “People don’t stand around in strange attitudes waiting to be recognised as Freemasons.” He refused to demonstrate the signs, saying: “I promised I would not.”


If the United Grand Lodge refuses to hand over the names, the committee could report the apparent contempt to the Speaker, who could invite the House to deal with the issue as a matter of privilege in which there was prima facie evidence that the Freemasons had interfered with the business of the House.


The matter would then probably be referred to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee who would study the evidence and decide what action to take. There is no penalty laid down for contempt and Parliament still retains the right to imprison someone found guilty, though that power has not been used since the 1880s. The more common punishment is to be called to the Bar of the House to be admonished.


Head to head at the Commons


CHRIS MULLIN, the select committee chairman doing battle with the Freemasons, has proved a tenacious investigator in the past.


When elected Labour MP for Sunderland South in 1987, Mr Mullin had already begun investigating the case of the Birmingham Six, jailed for the IRA pub bombings. During the years of his investigation, he denied being an IRA supporter. He said that his campaign was simply fired by a desire for justice.


Mr Mullin, 50, has been a member of the hard-Left Campaign Group, an editor of Tribune and a member of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.


Michael Higham, his opponent yesterday, joined the Navy in 1954 and was called to the Bar in 1968. He retired from the Navy in 1977 and in that year joined Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street, London, as principal assistant to the grand secretary.


Mr Higham, 62, became grand secretary in 1980. He had been due to stay in the post until 2001 but is leaving this year and is understood to have fallen out with superiors. He told the committee he did not know the reason for his early retirement.