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Freemasonry Pt. 4: Masonic Temples

We shall end our little 4 part series of Freemasonry with some pictures of Masonic temples.

During the 1700s as Freemasonry became a new type of social club centered around symbolic spiritual morality with less and less ties to its past as a medieval guild, Freemasons would gather in taverns, homes or public halls. As the years went by and their meetings became more and more elaborate, requiring greater and greater set up and tear down time, it began to look like good idea to build a dedicated meeting hall.

Considering also that the Craft centers around an obsession with architecture and its tools i would also assume this was inevitable.

Building a building takes a lot of money of course, but by the later 1700s Freemasonry was seeing more and more higher class members and in 1765 the very first Masonic Temple was built in Marseille, France. In 1777 the  first temple was built in London: Freemason’s Hall. With this, the Temple room in which Masonic rituals take place and called such after the Temple of Solomon around which all Freemason lore centers, became not just a symbolic place where Masons met, but a literal, physical one.

Freemason’s Hall, London

During the 1800s the trend continued. Often a group of Lodges would all pitch in to build or buy a building together and in other smaller ares where money was more of an issue Masons would buy old churches, schools or even homes of community founders, which they would then convert into lodge meeting spaces.

Despite the different buildings and scales of finance, the actual temple room remains rather consistant, however, as you can see for yourself from the following examples.

I would point out that most temple rooms these days are smaller and much lass ornate, as Freemasonry struggles. It still has many, many members and Lodges worldwide, but the days when men would go to weekly lodge meetings of whatever social club they were part of are decades past.

Old sit coms and even cartoons treat lodge membership matter of factly as a normal part of a man’s life. The Honeymooners, Happy Days, the Flintstones, the Andy Griffith Show all come from a time or portray a time when social club were normal. After the 1950s however, this has died out rapidly, although from the 18th to the first half of the 20th century social clubs were practically a universal passtime among males. Furthermore from the 1800s on, most social clubs were modeled to some degree or another after Freemasonry, which was the towering giant of the social club landscape for practically 200 years, although few other social clubs were as serious or in depth.

And with this ends our forray into Freemasonry. There are scads of interesting stories and yes, some real conspiracy doozies, although i must stress most outlandish tales are pure hystericism by groups hostile and paranoid towards Masonry (evangelicals for instance). I would rather tell interesting tales as one off blog pieces in the future rather than extend this series beyond 4 Parts.

See ya tomorrow…

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Freemasonry Pt. 3: The Palladian Order

Now that we’ve not only covered some interesting early history of Freemasonry involving the Hanovers and Jacobites but established the animostiy of the Catholic Church towards Freemasonry (although to be fair, i have not yet listed the specific reasons the Church holds its firm stance, but bear with me) we shall today tell one of my favorite stories regarding the Catholic/Freemasonry “feud”: Leo Taxil and the Palladian Order.

Leo Taxil

Leo Taxil was the pen name of a French guy named Gabriel Jogand-Pagès. In the late 1800s he was more or a less a hack writer who wrote lower brow journalism, some pornography and a lot of anti-Catholic propaganda. He was also a Freemason.

In 1884 the Pope once again issued an edict decrying Freemasonry. Shortly after Taxil quit Freemasonry, and sought absolution from his local bishop. After a legnthy penance he was welcomed back into the Catholic Church.

A few months after this Taxil began writing and publishing books which detailed the higher inner workings of Freemasonry. Inside the highest eschalon of the Craft was a secret order, the Palladian Order, and it was outright Satanic.

By the way, the very word “Satanic” comes from Taxil’s books.

The Palladium Order conducted myriads of rituals which worshipped Satan directly and were filled with all kinds of blasphemies,  sacrileges and sexual excesses with a special group of female Masons, whose female order existed just for the purpose of having woman to engage in these sex magick rituals with.

The Palladian Order was also heavily engaged in covertly supporting international agendas of the British Government and subverting the Catholic Church in every way possible. It was lead by the famous Albert Pike, a reknowned Mason who was also the one who had taken the old, dry and dreary Jacobite Scottish Rite and transformed it into one of the greatest, deepest rites in all of Freemasonry, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, from which the whole 33 degrees of Freemasonry comes (as opposed to the original 3). Pike lived in South Caroline where he dictated the ultimate directions and rites of the Palladian Order.

Taxil’s books described it all, every dirty, titillating detail. The books became runaway bestsellers and French Catholics, from laypeople to bishops and archbishops read them ravenously and rallied to his cause. They had long suspected such deviances and schemes but even they were shocked at the full revelations.

Several other writers came forth with their own tales of the Palladian Orders’ Satanic rituals, sexual deviations and political schemes. The biggest sensation was a magazine printed by Diana Vaughan, more appropriately Grand Priestess Diana Vaughan the Grand Priestess of the female masonic group at the center of the sex magicks. Taxil had mentioned her numerous times and she was printing a magazine preaching the Palladian gospel to an infuriated French public (who never the less bought it in droves).

By 1895 the entire thing reached a fever pitch when Diana Vaughan had a vision of Joan of Arc, fled the Palladian Order and converted to Catholicism. She then published her memoirs giving all the details of her time as leader of the Satanic organization: the rituals, the orgies, the intrigue, the power struggles, more orgies and the connections and involvements with some of Europe’s biggest political names.

By now the media and the Catholic Church were demanding to meet her. Taxil who had already met personally with the Pope by this time, announced that Diana, who was obviously hiding for fear of her life, would give a lecture at one of Paris’ biggest Halls.

Tickets sold out faster than if Jimi Hendrix announced he was coming back from the dead to jam with a resurrected and reunited Beatles.

The big night came and Taxil stepped out on stage to introduce the former High Priestess.

He then explained that he had made the entire Palladian Order up, had been making it all up from the start, and had begun the whole business to show just how naive, credulous and idiotic religious people can be. He pointed out that he had written and published everything himself with the help of one other friend and the two of them had pretended to be all of these authors including Diana. The whole thing demonstrated clearly to the world just what an insane degree of nonsense the religious will believe. Then he walked off stage.

Fan.

Shit.

BOOM.

You better believe a riot ensued. The place went NUTS. Taxil walked straight out just before the shocked audience could even pick their jaws up and had dinner at a nearby restaurant with friends while the uproar turned into a flat out riot and the gendarmes had to be brought in to clear out the chaos.

The whole affair lived in infamy for quite some time afterwards. The word Satanist entered the english lexicon and conspiracy nutjobs still quote Taxil’s writing to back up their deluded claims. Interestingly, Taxil also made up and described the Palladian Order’s ongoing rift over Satanist theology: Lucifer was the true Gd and Jehovah the ruling god of darkness is one side and the other is that God is God and the Devil is the Devil but the fact is the Devil will ultimately triumph. This exact theological debate years later became the central theological debate in actual Satanism and its various groups and fills numerous books.

Taxil’s writings get regurgitated again and again and again. Which shows, once a bunch of sensationlistic mamby pamby enters the public consciousness, it will forever be drawn upon even if the very person writing it reveals it as a hoax. Taxil was correct. The credulous will believe whatever they want to.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Freemasonry Pt 2: A Game of Thrones

During the 18th, 19th and early 20th century Freemasonry grew to enormous proportions. Groups of lodges operated under various Grand Lodges, but each Grand Lodge was more or less independent from one another.

Thus, many different types of degrees, rites, back stories and systems of mythology and theology sprang up across Europe and the US, and yet few, often times none of these were indicative of general Freemasonry.

In the same manner, while politics has long been forbidden in a lodge, groups of freemasons, linked closely in comradeship, might have similar political beliefs and with back room deals and handshakes attempted at times to pull off some shady shenanigans. So within the history of Freemasonry, there have been little plots here and there, but they too are independent of general Freemasonry.

You can’t have an organization of that size, especially a boys club that revels in secret handshakes and “ancient knowledge” without some of those boys trying to pull off some tomfoolery.

Talk of great, grand secret plots to rule Europe, the world, act as an arm for the One World Government, Zog, the Illuminati, etc, ect is pure poppycock and rubbish. Don’t be a douche.

But… there have been some boys who have tried all sorts of mischief and plenty of intrigue stories to go around.

We shall tell of the very first intersection of Freemasonry and politics. Back in the beginning of modern Freemasonry (meaning 1700s). The first political forays and probably good reason why politics became forbidden to talk about in Lodges.

Come back with me to the 1700s, the place, Westeros, where the Lannisters and the Starks… hang on… fact checker… ah, excuse me. 1700s, the place, England! Where the Hanovers and the Jacobites square off in a game of thrones.

For many years, the Stuarts ruled Britain. King Henry the 7th, the 8th, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth, all of these were Stuarts. Okay, so by the late 1600s Protestants and Catholics are still making snarly faces at each other. England is officially Anglican, not Catholic, but tensions still run high. James the II comes on the throne. He is Catholic and pro-French and drives the Protestants into fits of anger.

Interestingly one thing James also stood for which proved very unpopular was religious tolerance. He urged the country to adopt a tolerant view towards the different form of Christianity that were now all across Britian. (Not to Jews of course who as we all know are somewhere between filthy dogs and filthy rats). Tolerance was not popular.

His Divine Right Of Kings idea was not popular and with that went not liking Parliament having any power. Not popular with a very Protestant Parliament. Finally, when James bore a Catholic heir, a son, that was that. In 1688 a group of leading nobles called on James’ PROTESTANT son in law and nephew Willaim of Orange to come invade England and kick James’ ass out.

William of Orange comes to kick some ass

William did. And thus ended the reign of the Stuarts and began the reign of the Hanovers, which went up to Victoria.

The Jacobites were those who wanted the return of James.

In 1689 they organized a rebellion and James himself landed in Ireland to reclaim the throne. Sadly for him he got his ass handed to him in 1690 at the Battle of Boyne.

Now for Freemasonry. So… most of the original Freemasons slowly being let into the Craft despite not being actual working Masons were Hanover supports. Pro-protestant, pro-William, anti-French.

However, as the 1700s came round more and more Jacobites were becoming Freemasons. In 1715 James’ SON, James III landed in Scotland to retake the throne backed by a long, carefully planned Jacobite series of plots.

James III

He ALSO got his ass handed to him and many, many Jacobites were exiled to France.

In 1717  a group of Freemasons from different lodges, all Hanover supporters, got together and formed a Grand Lodge and established Freemasonry as firmly Pro-Hanover. Part of their aim was to deny any Jacobites a potential network for subversion.

But a whole bunch of exiled Jacobites had been Freemasons themselves and established Freemasonry in FRANCE. Pro-Jacobite Lodges.

However, Hanoverian England was quite popular with France, and so England sent over charters for OFFICIAL Grand Lodge backed lodges in Paris that would be part of mainstream Freemasonry (and pro-Hanover).

The Jacobites and Hanovers fought a 20 year covert struggle within French Masonry. The English Embassador himself played a key part.

Eventually the Jacobites lost. However, they were not out of the game. They gave some big fuck you blows back.

They enlisted Cardinal Fleury who was ALSO head to police to stamp out Freemasonry. Thus Freemasonry was put under sanctions and meetings broken up by baton happy police. However, there were by now a lot of high ranked French Freemasons, and the Cardinal could only go so far before he’d get his ass handed to him by politics superiors.

Like this but with wigs and sashy coats and… you know. 1700 apparel. Okay, like this but not.

So the Cardinal went to the Pope. And the Pope issued a bull edict condemning Freemasonry and excommunicating all Catholic Freemasons from that point on.

Thus began the long, long squaring off between Catholicism and Freemasonry. We shall talk of this further tomorrow with the ABSOLUTELY AWESOME story of the Palladium Affair.

One last thing though: the jacobites, as part of their cold war against Hanoverian Freemasonry, began coming with the own system of rites and degrees. By the 1740s it was fully formed and called Scottish Masonry. It was a longer, more comprehensive system.

This new system rose in popularity, was backed by Jacobites and promised to garner a new wave of alternate Freemasons. However, in 1745 James II’s GRANDSON, Charles (Bonnie Prince Charlie) ALSO tried to take the throne. He landed in Scotland, rallied the Scots and the English Jacobites, took Edinburgh and marched into England.

At the Battle of Culloden the Duke of Cumberland utterly buggered him. Utterly. Bonnie Prince Charlie was so soundly defeated that any hope of future uprisings were laid to rest.

The Battle Of Culloden

The Jacobites little by little simply ceased to be. They dwindled into irrelevancy.

HowEVER, their Scottish Rite system popped up years later as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. 100 years later it  became the most popular series of rites and degrees in Freemasonry.

What happened is the Jacobite rites sort of shmucked around in some lodges here and there until the 1850s, when Albert Pike found them and reworked them brilliantly into an astonishing powerful system of Masonic rites. It is from the Scottish rites that we have Masons that instead of having 3 degrees, as is proper, have instead 33 degrees, which became widespread.

Whew!

I’m done for today, kids. Tune in tomorrow for Freemasonry Pt. 3: The Palladium Affair. It’s my favorite.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Freemasonry Pt 1: Weeding Out The Kooks

 We’ve covered the Golden Dawn, we’ve covered Spiritualism and Theosophy. If you were doing something crazy and far out in the Victorian era, we’ll get to it, but at long last we turn our gaze on the single most influential secret society of all time: Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is without a doubt the most misunderstood, misrepresented centerpiece for every sort of fantastical, paranoid and flat out apeshit speculation since the poor Knights Templars found their medieval history rewritten into one insane yarn after the other.

But wait! It was Freemasonry that invented these very fantasy stories about the Knights Templar. And while there are many fingers to point at why Freemasonry is the target of such utterly balls out loony stories: anti masonry organizations, the Catholic Church (hates freemasonry, automatic excommunication if you join a Lodge) and just plain idiotic, gullible or sneakily savvy faux “researchers” who can’t resist incredulous speculation, Freemasonry itself bears a large responsibility for all the tall tales.

Mention Freemasonry and you might hear several different things: they’re behind some kind of political plots back in the day, they’re behind the American revolution, the French revolution, they’re part of the secret society that plots and runs the world (One World Government, Elders of Zion, Illuminati, etc), they’re descended from the Knights Templar, they’re descended from the builders of ancient Egypt, they’re descended from the builders of the Tower of Babel, from the builders of Solomon’s Temple, the whole thing was invented by Cromwell…

They’re an occult society, they’re an occult society but you only get to the occulty things when you get to the high levels, they’re behind Jack The Ripper, they’re behind the Gnomes of Zurich and the global banking system and proof can be found as hidden clues on the American dollar bill.

Whew! I can’t keep up with all this crap. So where does it come from?

Well, ignoring the political stuff which comes from anti masonic sources and conspiracy buffs and which we’ll get into tomorrow (and in any case, all talk of politics is outright forbidden inside any Lodge), the stuff that has religious and fantastical connotations comes from Masonry itself.

Let’s stop being coy and start talking about what Freemasonry really is.

Freemasonry is a fellowship of men (and in some forms like Co-masonry both men and women) who believe in a higher power and are interested in morality, self improvement and fellowship. The lodges use architectural symbols and signs of recognition passed down from the medieval stonemasons guild where it’s origins REALLY lay, along with a medieval morality tale about Hiram Abiff, the murdered architect for King Solomon’s Temple to teach members about morals, honor and respect for one another and Gd.

So where’s all the weirdness come in?

Freemasonry descends from a medieval stonemason’s guild of the British Isles. The guild used powerful initiation ceremonies to initiate its member into 2 degrees, Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craftsman. Religion was mixed into every aspect of daily life, it being the middle ages and all, and so religious morality was mixed into every aspect of the guild.

Masons as part of the guild were not bound to a specific land, they were “free” to roam from site to site constructing churches, cathedrals and large buildings requiring great skill on the part of the workers.

In the middle ages allegory was a part of daily life and the psyche of Europe. They saw allegory in everything. The Mason’s Guild for instance, wove allegory into the very tools of the trade. A level, protractor, the stone itself, all had meaning beyond just their tasks, they had spiritual meanings, and allegories were woven into deeply into the very craft.

During the late 1600s, especially near the end, the guild became less and less about working craftsmen and slowly began accepting outside members and focusing on it’s religious and moral themes. It added a 3rd degree, Master Mason.

In 1717 four lodges came together as a Grand Lodge and modern Freemasonry was born.

The initiations were powerful and affecting, the lessons deeps and compelling. The new Master Mason degree focused around a story where Solomon’s chief architect Hiram Abiff is killed (by 3 ruffians looking for the his secret Master Mason’s word which would give them the ability to pass as Master Masons) and his body hidden. The initiate, ritually acting out  certain aspects of the story, must find Hiram’s body and recover it.

The story is rife with deep meanings and symbologies and Freemasonry refuses to attach one single meaning to it, leaving it open to interpretation and discussion. The experience of this degree was greatly impacting and the powerful experiences of Freemasonry’s rituals and the depths of the moral lessons led to a huge surge in Freemasonry compared to the many, many other fellowship clubs that dotted 18th century England.

Due to its religious guild roots, Freemasonry came with some intriguing origin stories. One of the oldest is thus:

Before the Flood, some guy named Lamech invented geometry and some other sciences. Fearing punishment for their sins, his disciples built two great pillars inside which they inscribed all the information they had learned. One pillar was built to withstand fire, the other flood.

Well, BOOM! Flood it was. Yet the pillar survived, and Noah’s great grandson, Hermes Trismegistus (the reknowned Hermes) discovered it and taught it to the Egyptians. From there it passed down to the builders of the Tower of Babel, who developed the signs of Freemasonry to communicate with each other using body language after Gd  pulled the whole speech and language fiasco.

From there the knowledge was passed to Solomon and his builders and after building the great Temple of Solomon various Masons took the great and ancient knowledge to the four corners of the Earth.

What a story!

So this was the first origin story Freemasonry claimed. But after it began to spread to non builders, some of the upper classes began to join. The associations with manual labor was…ooh. No no no. A tad shall we say, demeaning? Surely old bean we can do just a bit better, hm?

So another origin myth got started, this one centering around the Knights of the Crusades holding sacred knowledge in the Promised Land from the heathens. This story was proposed by Andrew Ramsey in 1736. Soon afterwards the Knights in question were changed from the Hospitallers to the long forgotten Knights Templar, and THAT my friends is how the Knights Templar first found themselves at the center of ridiculous speculation about all sort of the comsic debris that annoys the living crap out of me. Seriously, bring up a conspircay theory involving the damn Knights Templar ONE MORE TIME and i will punch you. I will too. I will stop this car, come back there, and give you something to REALLY cry about.

But wait! There’s more! See, as Freemasonry grew each Grand Lodge operated independently from each other, so different lodges started coming up with different origin stories.

Furthermore, once you had completed the 3 degrees you were done with initiations. Initiations were REALLY REALLY fun. They were compelling, engaging, impacting and one could contemplate them deeply for some time after. So, where there is demand, there shall be supply. New degrees with new initiations and stories started popping up like wildfire. The most well known is the Scottish degrees, and it is because of the Scottish degrees that you may know of Freemasonry as going up to 33 degrees. However, during the 18th and 19th centuries somewhere around 2,000 different degrees were floating around various lodges, many not recognized by other lodges.

And that’s where a lot of the weird stuff comes from.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more Freemasonry extravaganza: either the Hanover and Jacobite kerfuffle, OR, my FAVORITE, the AWEsome Palladium Affair. Serious, the Palladium affair is one of the best historical tidbits i’ll ever tell you about.

Word to the Widow’s son, yo.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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