Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

13 February 2008

Grand Lodge Library Dreams

Perhaps I have been doing too much research, but last night I had the strangest dream. No, not Johnny Cash's dream about an end to war. I was working on Dyer1878, a manuscript cypher written by a Mason's wife about c1878, at the Grand Lodge of Maine Library when I felt the need to consult an 1820 manuscript cypher. Unfortunately, that text was down at the Samuel Crocker Lawrence Library. Unthinkingly I stood up and walked through a bookcase and emerged in Cynthia Alcorn's library. She said hello and gave me a stack of manuscript cyphers. The first manuscript had an unusual cover, one I had not seen before. I opened the first page and found the signature of R.W. Bro. Benjamin Gleason and woke up.

It is ordinary for a person to wake up at the most intense moment in a dream. So, here is the deal. If you can explain why this wake up trigger was so important, I will send you an advance copy of my first paper: Evolution of the Entered Apprentice Lecture.

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10 February 2008

Articles of Union

During the summer I had the good fortune to stumble upon and read "Freemasonry in London from 1785" by Bro. Roy Wells. The book made a reality of the division between the Antients and Moderns Grand Lodges by guiding the reader through the history of Domatic Lodge No. 177 (by-laws at Google Books), which was chartered by the Antients. The phrase "domatic mason" means an operative stone mason or builder, which contrasts with "geomatic masons" who we term today as speculative or accepted masons. The lodge name reflected its original constituency of operative masons. The book is fairly brief and well worth a read to the student of English Masonic history.

As I have more time, I intend to read in more detail about this era, as the "Moderns" and "Antients" labels are used for political ends by both conservative and radical freemasons to argue that one or the other is more authentic. All that aside, imagine my surprise and excitement when Pietre-Stones published the "Articles of Union" which formed the United Grand Lodge of England from the Antients and Moderns. Take a few minutes and read this for youself, I imagine you will find it very interesting. Pay attention to the elements related to obligations and modes of working...

(By the way, if you are having trouble finding AQC texts, use this search.)

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Ars Quatuor Coronatorum on Google Book Search

Studying the ritual is its own great reward. I had another fun disagreement about the meaning of this section of the Entered Apprentice Apron presentation:

...more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter or any other order that can be conferred upon you by Prince, King, Potentate or any other person except he be a Mason...

The latter two are well understood by all to refer to an order of knighthood in England and one in France: Order of the Garter (c1346) and Order of the Star (1352). I recall reading that the former two are also chivalric orders and do not, in fact, refer to Greek mythology and the symbol of the Roman legions. Details about the Order of the Golden Fleece (c1430) were easily found onWikipedia. I was not able to find anything about a chivalric order related to the Roman Eagle, but I suspect with more work I can unearth the original references.

In the process of all this research, I was delighted to stumble upon a number of old Ars Quatuor Coronatorum on Google Books! Any student of Masonic history will have their breathe taken away by the paper from Bro. Hughan "The York Grand Lodge - A Brief Sketch". Then on page 20, in the responses to the paper, there are comments from none other than Bro. Chetwoode Crawley! Finding this material online is like finding a great treasure in your basement.

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Back to Blogging...

There are two issues which have kept me from blogging as before. First, the mutual eye poking between the Burning Taper and the Beacon of Masonic Light soured me to Masonic blogs in general. I have backed off and read only a few genuinely brotherly and interesting blogs and left the remainder behind. Second, I have been working on a substantial paper tracing the evolution of the Entered Apprentice Lectures here in Maine. It has been consuming a great deal of my time. Nevertheless, back at it.

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