May 25

Tools of the Craft: The Trowel

As a Master Mason you must travel.  You must walk the dust of this planet, carrying inside you the light of truth and wisdom that you have acquired from your lodge and from your Creator.  For this journey, the Craft has given you its most precious tool:  the trowel.  The trowel is that tool a stone mason uses to smooth the cement in between bricks, to draw the structure together and unify it as one sturdy construction.  For you it is the same.

You are a Mason.  You carry with you a light, passed down by our forefathers across generations.  It is a spark of the Divine, a torch in the darkness.  A beacon to lead our people to the Promised Land.  As you make your way here on this mortal coil, you are spreading that light from place to place, heart to heart.  The trowel is the call to spread brotherly love and truth amongst all those you meet.

The cement that binds our brotherhood together as a unified species, a whole and complete earth, is love.  Love is Light.  It’s Truth and Wisdom.  Spread it with smiles and hugs and handshakes.  Nurture it by making children laugh and old widows smile.  Bring people together in acts of cooperation and build communities on this sense of unity.  That’s how we modern masons build our world up from rocks and cement.  From hearts and minds and brotherly love.

Go forth, young man.  Travel the dust spreading light.

 

 

May 21

Tools of the Craft: The Plumb & Level

Before the days of bubble levels and more sophisticated technology, the evenness and levelness of a plane was assured with the use of a level and a plumb line that hung from the level, pointing at the earth.  It was the natural laws of gravity that assured a structure was being built even and level.  Today we use these tools and this method as markers of our own character construction, assuring level planes and upright structures.

The mark of an honorable man is his integrity and moral uprightness.  He must stand tall and proud of himself and what he believes in, what he stands for.  If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.  If you lean to one side or the other or waver in the steadfastness of your character, you are prone to collapse like a lopsided barn.  The plumb admonishes us to stand upright and tall without wavering.

Know what you stand for and why.  Do not falter or trip.  Do not lean to the side to compromise and accommodate imperfection.  A man’s light is his moral compass and if it is to stear him accurately along the level field of time, he must not falter in standing up tall and strong for what he believes.

This is the message of the plumb, to walk uprightly and honorably as a man, a father, a craftsman, a citizen, a neighbor, and as a creature.  Live with integrity and heart.

For, as the level reminds us, we are all equal creatures here on the soil of earth and time.  We are all walking that straight and unbending path from cradle to grave and we each shall meet our Creator face to face.

Stand up tall above lesser men.  Stand for all that you believe in and care for and stand together with your brothers.  When so many upright beams support a solid foundation, whole monuments can be erected above us.  Monuments of ideas and truth.

We are building a better world together.

Men of upright character and honorable stature.

 

 

 

May 18

Tools of the Craft: The Square

 

The Square is not only one of the principle tools of masonry, it is one of the foundational lights of the craft.  The square symbolises evenness, fairness, and a snug fit with its perfect 90 degree angle.  It is also symbolic of the plane of Earth and the constructions thereof.  All of this points to the basic principle of masonry and manhood, which is that of honor and fairness in dealing with the world and the many creatures in it.

When we meet and part on the square, we are making the agreement to attend the Golden Rule.  Treat other men as you would have them treat you and we all walk in equality and trust.  In every age, a man’s word is his bond.  It is his honor.  If a man lies or breaks his word, his character is shattered and he is destroyed in the eyes of his peers.

Think about a time when you told a lie or were aware of someone else’s lying.  It’s an awkward, uncomfortable thing, isn’t it?  It’s twisted.  When someone is being dishonest with you, they are hiding a part of themselves, closing off the light.  This man is not fully square with you because he must twist in on himself to conceal the dishonesty.  The square teaches us to face one another and the world head-on with no reservation or apprehension born of dishonesty.  Face one another man to man and speak plainly and honestly without trying to manipulate one another or take advantage of a fellow man.

The modern world is full of dishonesty, manipulation, and broken words.  It is up to you as a Mason, as a keeper of the light, to stride into the world representing that which is right and square, that which is honest and up-front.

The more structure our square footing brings to the world, the more the rest of the chaos falls in line.

 

 

 

May 15

Air ambulances get Freemason funds

Published on Friday 27 April 2012 13:54

 

Air ambulances across the country, including the North West, are due to benefit from £192,000 in funding from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

 

Twenty two air ambulance in nine regions will receive funding from the grant-making charity this year to enable them to continue carrying out their life-saving work.

The latest figure brings the total amount of donations made to air ambulance charities by Freemasons since 2007 to £1 million.

Among those to benefit from the latest funds are North West Air Ambulance, which will receive £12,000 and The Rob Vine Fund, £4,000.

The donations will be presented to the regional rescue services by Freemasons from across the country.

Laura Chapman, chief executive of the charity, said: “Support for air ambulance charities is very popular within Freemasonry because these vital services are at the heart of every community they operate in.

“Relying on donations, these organisations save thousands of lives each year and we are absolutely delighted to report that the total amount given is now over £1 million.”

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is dedicated to supporting people in need in the areas of medical research; support for vulnerable people; youth opportunities; hospice services; air ambulances; and disaster relief.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2012, All Rights Reserved.

May 15

Tools of the Craft: The Common Gavel

 

The Gavel, as we all know, is that tool which is meant to break off the rough parts of your character in order to smooth the edges and form a more perfect self, fit for the Creator to use in building the Temple of Brotherhood here on Earth.  It is a tool that comes with a great degree of discipline, sacrifice, and self knowledge.  The process is an ongoing one.  Therefore, the common gavel is a tool the Master Mason will continue to make use of for the duration of his life.

The task of divesting oneself of unnecessary and unworthy character flaws is not an easy task.  No one likes to admit his faults or face his shadow, however it is necessary in order to grow and improve.  Like a plant reaching for the light in growth, its dead leaves and shoddy branches need pruning and clipping so they don’t strangle the growth of the whole plant.  So too is it with the man.

As you go through life, you outgrow the childishness and impetuous animal tendencies of youth and gain more insight into yourself and those around you.  This is wisdom.  Written above the archway to the entrance of the Oracle of Delphi in the ancient Greek world were the words Know Thyself.  This is essential.  You cannot know your Creator or your brothers if you don’t first know yourself.

Take a hard look in the mirror.  Start a journal.  Ask yourself the difficult questions.  Am I the man I could be?  Am I the best I can be?   What do I want out of life?  Am I striving for that or wasting my time on petty games and indulgences?  What am I building and why?

As you examine yourself, you use the mental gavel to pound and chip away at the weaker parts of your character in order to move forward as a stronger, more steady man.

Acknowledge your fears and understand why you are afraid.  Then let them go, remembering that you are a being of light and no darkness can harm you.

Every time you overcome some baser instinct in favor of higher conscious choices, you grow a little more fully as a man on the path to the perfect ashlar.

The crown of manhood is a perfectly poised will.

–James Allen

May 13

Tools of the Craft: The 24 Inch Guage

A conscious man recognizes the cycles of life and grasps the Time with which he works.  Life is lived one day at a time and as a Mason, a man in control of himself and his passions, the day must be organized, planned, and structured.  Beasts live moment to moment, drawn this way and that by their idle whims and passionate cravings.  Nature rules their day.  But a Mason is an enlightened creature, a man of wisdom and consciousness.

It’s important to structure you time and organize your work.  The lesson of the 24 Inch Gauge is to live life with a plan and to divide one’s precious time up amongst those things that truly matter, such that each is given its due course for appreciation and experience.

A time for one’s vocation means work time is for work.  When you’re working, stay focused and disciplined.  Just get out of the way and keep building.

A time for refreshment and repose means that you must balance your work with an enjoyment of life and family.   Give yourself breaks to recharge so that, when you are called back to your labors, you are working at maximum capacity.  Fully charged and engaged.  This is only possible if you make sufficient time to rest and find joy.

A time for charity and God.  It has always been common practice amongst the faithful of every religion and spiritual tradition that advocates a healthy, peaceful way of life that time should be set aside in the day to honor and acknowledge your Creator and to express a deep gratitude and contentment for your time here.  For your time here is truly a blessed gift, not to be squandered.

The modern Guage is a calender, whether it be paper or digital.  Either way, it is you the Master Architect of your life who must set up your calendar and tasks such that your time is appropriately divided and the work gets done.

The 24 inch guage is a tool that calls for Discipline and a focused attention on how you spend your time.  Time is something you never get back.

Spend it wisely.

 

May 12

Review: Morals & Dogma

Albert Pike is perhaps one of the greatest Masonic scholars in American history.  His contributions to the expansion and understanding of the Craft have survived well into the modern era and have informed Masonic thought for over a century.

Morals & Dogma is probably one of his more famous and influential books.  It’s a lengthy speculation into the inherent character of each of the 33 degrees of Masonry and the Scottish Rite.  Pike delves into the psychology, symbolism, and masonic duty of every degree, giving a very rich understanding of the role and place of a mason at every level of the Lodge.

This is certainly a piece of history and a great read for the interested Mason or scholar.  What Pike proposes is a code of ethics and a sense of honor belonging to the degrees of the Scottish Rite that, as always, sometimes lose their prevalence in the mainstream world of Masonic work.

Check it out and draw your own conclusions.

 

May 12

Review: Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry

Born in Blood is a fascinating read for the Mason with an interest in history.  It’s a very scholarly peek into the supposed history of the Freemasons’ origins in the Medieval stonemason guilds and the evidence that supports that the organization was instead (or additionally) formed by fleeing Templar Knights as a means to stay connected and underground while the Vatican scoured Europe to hunt them down and hang them.

** I must stress that only those who have become Master Masons within the fraternity read this book.  It will make much more sense.**

In fact, the interesting thing about this book is that the author, John J Robinson, is not a brother of the fraternity at all.  His research into the matter began not as an inquiry into the Freemasons or the Knights Templar, but rather into a key moment in English history surrounding the peculiar Peasants Rebellion of the early 1300s.

The evidence is indeed overwhelming and the text is not dry or boring.  Johnson does a wonderful job of telling the story of history to keep you interested and engaged. It’s a very fascinating read and really brings the origins of our Brotherhood into clearer focus as a fraternity of trust, protection, mutual benefit, and the passing on of vital initiatory wisdom from our forefathers.

Pick up a copy here and learn your lineage.

May 12

Review: Hidden Wisdom: Secrets of the Western Esoteric Tradition

One of the many intriguing morsels of underground thought trickling out of the Disinformation publishing house, Hidden Wisdom: The Secrets of the Western Esoteric Tradition is a fascinating read that traces the origins of the sacred truths we pass along today back into the roads of the past, through the Templar Knights, the Greek Mystery Cults, and the Egyptian Mystery Schools of the ancient world.

Tim Wallace-Murphy shows us that the most essential spiritual truths have been around since ancient medicine men communed with the cosmos on the fringes of prehistoric tribes in search of answers to guide their people.  It grew and evolved as men formed cities and civilizations and languages and traditions and religions… but the truth was always there.

Enjoy this wonderful exploration of spiritual wisdom, the heritage of all the world’s people and all the brothers of the craft by buying the book today.  The perfect way to start your Masonic Library of sacred wisdom.

May 12

The Craft of Freemasonry

The officially understood definition of Freemasonry is familiar to all Masons:

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

At its most basic and public level, the craft of freemasonry is a system of morality, a set of values, or perhaps a perspective on the world and oneself.  Not a religion in the sense where a particular religious or theological doctrine is instructed and defended by the clergy.  But rather, an openly spiritual fraternity of men who all acknowledge a higher power in their own ways but work together for the building of a better world here on Earth.

Historically, this perspective had to be veiled in allegory and hidden behind symbols for a number of reasons.  For one, there were more than a few underground groups in the pre-Enlightenment Period whose interactions and communications needed to be veiled from the church, lest they be burned as heretics.  Also, like most wisdom and sacred knowledge, not everyone is prepared to receive it.  ”Don’t cast pearls before swing,” as one Teacher put it.  Therefore the meanings and understandings of the Craft had to be imparted by degrees and by those elders who have come before, who already have an understanding of the effect of such wisdom and how to properly coach a young neophyte into the light of illumination.

The primary allegory is that of the Stonemasons from Medieval times, the craftsmen of the age who were responsible for erecting grand Cathedrals to the Heavens and building the literal foundations of modern society.  Many of the teachings and lessons are symbolized by the working tools of an actual stone mason, such as the gavel and trowel.

However, let us not forget that despite all the symbols and stories, there is an essential truth present about the nature of wisdom and the duties of brothers here on Earth.  Speculative though we may be, passing on our esoterica in strange, archaic rituals, we are still Builders.

Craftsmen of our own age.

Builders and Programmers and Teachers of the modern Digital World.

Use the tools and lessons of the Craft wisely, brothers, and let us get on with building Heaven on Earth.