Hands or "Take Me As I Take You"
A Paper compiled by R.W. Brother Stan Payne from Two Articles by W. Bro. Harold Grainger and W. Bro. Orville Wessler
The human hand consists of twenty seven bones that are moved by thirty five powerful muscles, of which fifteen are in the forearm. The twenty muscles within the hand itself are arranged so that the hand and fingers can make a variety of precise movements. A man's hands are often a true indication of the crafts and skills of their owner. Long tapered fingers are found on an artist or a musician. Big expansive hands are found on a carpenter or bricklayer.
In the era of uncivilized man, the upraised open hand was a sign that no weapon was being concealed and was therefore a sign of "peace". Still later, and in a similar vein, when knights wore armour, to remove a gauntlet and extend a bare hand was a sign that though the knight was dressed for battle he came in peace. Even today we remove a glove to shake hands. Though we may never have known for this reason of etiquette, we are stating by action rather than words, "I won't hurt you" — "I will gladly take your hand because I trust you".
For centuries, hand clasps or grips have served as modes of recognition and friendly greetings. It seems only fitting that "hands" were used with significance in freeMasony from its earliest times. Indeed our ancient brethren the operative Mason, made his living with his "hand tools".
From time immemorial, the hand has played an important part in our search for Masonic light. In token of brotherly love and friendship, grips and words were exchanged so one Mason may know another, in the dark as well as the light.
Let us be good stewards of that which we have received and enjoy Masonry by extending the "hand of brotherly love". If you point a finger at someone, be careful of why you are pointing. Remember, as one finger points toward another person, three fingers are pointing back at you.
The strong grip of a master Mason can accomplish many things. Shake the hand of your brother with pride. Be proud of your lodge. Be proud of freeMasonry. Don't loose your grip. You have earned the right to take me as I take you.
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The Lion's Paw
A paper condensed by R.W. Bro. Stan Payne from The Royal Arch Magazine Spring 1985.
For centuries, hand clasps or grips have served as modes of recognition and friendly greetings. The earliest recorded incident of such practice is recorded in ii Kings 10:15 when Joab met Jehonadab, and being uncertain whether Jehonadab was friend or foe asked him "is your heart right with my heart, if so give me your hand".
Masons ask "what has a lion to do with Masonry?" the lion has been, and is, the national emblem of several countries and organizations as well as the land of Judah. This emblem was emblazined on their armor, and on the banners under which they fought their battles.
Perhaps when we discover why the lion was so chosen by the tribe of Judah, we may also see why the lion's paw occupies such a prominent place in our ritual, and in the hearts of so many Masons.
Jacob, grandson of Abraham, and father of the 12 tribes of Israel, pronounced a blessing and prophesy concerning Judah, that made this tribe outstanding among the other eleven tribes. Blind and on his death bed, with all of his sons present, he called each one, in the order of their birth, and blessed them and foretold their individual places in the future nation. To Judah he said "you are a lion's whelp". (whelp means young lion or cub) "you will head the royal line and furnish the ruler of the nation".
He said "the scepter shall not depart from Judah". (Gen. 49:9 the "lion of Judah" then had nothing to do with the lion being the king of beasts for he was not a member of the animal kingdom at all. Neither is he merely a resident of the land of Judah, as some may suppose. He is a person, a particular person; a descendant of Judah, the fourth son of jacob.
Who, then, is the lion of Judah, this king or ruler? Is his reign past, present or future? Looking into mackeys' encyclopedia of freeMasonry we find under "lion of Judah" this definition:
"refers to christ who brought life and immortality to light"
"a symbol of the resurrection"
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Ancient Masonic Language
R.W. Bro. Stan Payne
Many words in our Masonic rituals were in common useage at one time but have since become obsolete and are no longer generally used by society.
Where else can we find words like "due-guard", "cabletow", "cowans", "eavesdroppers", "hele" or "tyler". Where else except in a Masonic lodge do you hear "so mote it be" used in response to prayer? Masonry has a language all its own and we are proud of it. When we speak to the master in the lodge we use the term "worshipful master" as a title of respect. How many people use this expression. How many people, except we Masons, ever use word combinations such as "worthy and well qualified", "duly and truly", "stand to and abide by", "promise and swear", "parts and points".
These words come to use from 13th century england where two languages were used, the native Anglo-Saxon and the conquering Norman-French. With two competing tongues and the necessity for co-existence, there was a vital need for two way expression so that each was understood. The word "worshipful" has no religious meaning in our ritual but is derived from the old english word "worchyp" that was used as a title of respect.
Another word which is still used but has an entirely different use then it's former meaning is "charity". When our ritual was first used and the first Bible printed "charity" meant "love". But love in our language today can mean anything from the score of a tennis match to the affection that god has for his children.
Those words which we use, my brethren are as much the "badge of a Mason" as much as our apron or square and compasses. We must not only see the badge but also hear it. For those Masons who are of the opinion that we should modernize our rituals by changing these words, it is my opinion that they should not be changed. These are the kinds of things that lead to the mystique of our organization. It is not changing our rituals that will improve our craft that can only be through education.
Tumbo Chien or Choosing The Drummer: A Warning or an Awakening
Paper condensed from an article by R.W. Bro. Wm. A. Bessent, Grand Lodge of Florida
Tumbo chien, is a pronounciation of the classic greek for "I prepare my sepulchre". It is used in this paper as an allusion to actions and efforts of some so-called leaders of freeMasonry, over the last decades, to dig our own grave as a fraternity.
However, this is not a discussion of what is wrong with the Masonic fraternity or the Masonic family; this is not a jeremiad of gloom, doom, and despair — it is simply an attempt to refocus our attention upon a very basic issue. This issue is controlling and is of paramount importance, but it is largely ignored amid all the noise.
We must have a focus, because we are told that there is a path to renewal, and we are exhorted to follow the beat of a drummer. There is, however, more than one drummer and the drum-rolls lead along different paths. If we choose a drummer to follow, the choice should be made by the quality of his drumming and the direction of his path — not simply by the volume of sound and the glitter of his drum.
Of all the pathways, panaceas, and snake-oil we are offered to cure our decline in membership and interest, none of the trails nor nostrums offer any insight or inquiry into the fundamental issue. That fundamental issue, the chief stone of the corner, the foundation of inquiry, and the question that must be asked and answered before all else is this: What is a man seeking when he joins a secret society?
We can begin by understanding that secret societies have various common elements:
- Secrecy: Their forms and ceremonies are kept from the world-at-large, and they go to great lengths to inculcate the necessity for preserving this secrecy (even if it is actually non-existent).
- Exclusiveness: They are not for everyone. There are very strict admission requirements. Usually, the paramount rule is "men only".
- Hierarchical: There is a progressive system of status, and a stratification based upon esoteric grades.
- Ordeal: There is an initiatory ordeal, the reasons for which are explained as follows:
"a man can be given only what he can use; and he can use only that for which he has sacrificed something. This is the law of human nature. So if a man wants to get help to acquire important knowledge or new powers, he must sacrifice other things important to him at the moment. Moreover, he can only get as much as he has given up for it..."
- Mythic origin: They have an elaborate mythical history of their origin, which they also use to inculcate their system of ethics and discipline. Some mythic systems have a factual basis that is used in a mythological context, some are outright fabrications (an example of the former is the craft legend; and example of the latter is the shrine initatory skit).
- Self-contained: They go to great lengths to separate themselves from society- at-large, to be self-sufficient and independent.
In essence: Secrecy, hierarchy, exclusion, ordeal, myth, and independence. Why, then, do men join?
Men join secret societies because they use secrecy to organise their personalities and regulate their relationships to outher members of their species. That is, they use secrecy to circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward other of their species, especially members of the society.
How many of us, as children, did not have "secrets" we shared withother children; did we not feel special because we had those "secrets"? Secrecy, in this context, is used to make us different; if it does not make us different, then we reject it. If our secret connexion makes us different, we hold to it with tenacious loyalty.
Today, Masonic "authorities" without understanding of secret societies — but with vast understanding of financial matters and their own titles and prestige — have rationalised the craft down to a state of equalitarian mediocrity. As a result, men who would otherwise be clamouring for admission into the craft are simply not interested. They are not interested because ther is nothing to indicate that Masonic membership makes a man one iota different or better than any other man! All aminals are elitist; every man wants to be better than his fellows (whether he will admit it — even to himself — or not). If anyone can be a Mason, who would want to be one?
The average man, however, who does not immediately see that his organisation is satisfying his needs is not going to do what a few of us have done — which is to adopt Masonry as part of a divine quest. He is not going to discover Masonry by diligent inquiry and make up for what his organisations fail to give him by pulling himself up by his Masonic bootstraps. He is going to be disappointed and lose interest, although he may continue to pay lip service — and his annual dues — to the fraternity. The forms and ceremonies may be impressive, but empty words and ceremony cannot endure without substance. As one fellow told a past grand commander in florida: "they took me by the and and led me into the lodge; they took me by the hand and led me into the rite; they took me by the hand and led me into the shrine; they took me everywhere, but they didn't teach me anything"!
Participation is not being ingrained in the member as much as the perceived importance of progressive initiation into a myriad of post-raising orders and societies. Performance is not prized so much as promotion.
We devote too much time to soliciting, qualifying, and initiating members, and forget what to do with them after initiation (besides handing them a petition for some other degree or order). We, with rare exceptions, cannot teach them anything of substance because we know nothing of substance ourselves. While there are many Masons who can parrot liturgy, very few understand the meaning of the words they are reciting. We teach catechism without comprehension, panoply without philosophy. We impress the new member with — if anything — our own ignorance.
We must understand and admit this; if the firm foundation is not laid in the lodge, it is the fault of freeMasonry — not the initiate. The unfruitful initiate was either admitted for the wrong reasons or we misused him afterward. If he was willing and eager to give up something (money, time, monday night football, etc.) in order to get something from freeMasonry, we ought to have had something to give him besides a set of booklets and another petition.
Given all these considerations and shortcomings that have crept into the craft — which place a wedge between the man and the secret society that he is seeking so desparately (whether he knows it or not) — we should know what to do about it.
Yet: We are asked to follow the beat of one drummer toward slick promotional brochures, films, recruiting campaigns, license plates, toll-free telephone numbers, and solicitation. Fraternity is not a commodity that can be mass- merchandised like underarm deodorant.
If we don't know what we're selling, nor why the fellows buy, then we're merchandising ashes with a huckster's empty cry.
The drumbeat we must follow is that which will lead us to the knowledge of the strong grip needed to draw freeMasonry from the tomb we have prepared for it. It is a drumbeat that calls us to so order our efforts that every man will understand and believe that there is something in the Masonic lodge that he cannot obtain anywhere else. He must leave every Masonic meeting with the conviction that he has done something that he could not have done somewhere else. He must believe that he is special because he is a Mason, he is better than the average man. He must believe that being a Mason raises him to a higher level of understanding and duty. We must believe these things, and we must dedicate ourselves and our lodges to making those beliefs as much the truth to other Masons as they are to us. For, if we did not believe, would you or I be here today.