Masonic Education

Light in Nevada Masonry

Masonic Education

from R.W. Rick Graver, Jr. Junior Grand Warden
A monthly article presented by the Junior Grand Warden for the benefit of all Masons. Lodges are encouraged to use these articles for education presentations during meetings.
February 2018Download PDF

Masonic Education – February 2018

Masonry in 19th Century Science Fiction: Journey into the Earth

Jules Verne is noted as an author, poet, playwright and is often bestowed with the title “father of science fiction.”

His Masonic heritage however, is hinted at only; what can be assumed is that some knowledge of the craft was available to him. His relationship with notable Freemason, Jean Mace’ is well documented and is referenced in Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ where a novel by Mace’s finds its way into the story. Verne also had a close relationship with the Dumas family; Alexander Dumas having helped his first play get published. Dumas also is unconfirmed as a Mason; however, refers to Masonry explicitly in novels such as the ‘Count of Monty Christo.’

The tenuous leap that Verne was in fact a Mason is not needed to find Masonic allegory in his collected work. In ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ published in 1864, the most shared interpretation of the volume is that it is an allegory for going within the unconscious self and emerging transformed.

With this line of thought, there are certain conclusions which can be made about the human psyche according to Verne. The way to the center of the earth was revealed when, after days of cloud cover until the sun appeared and lit the path forward. Then, as the party made their way deeper below the surface, danger upon danger beset them, and only deep thought and decisive action could overcome these obstacles. Finally the journey coming to conclusions about the beginning of Man after seeing giant proto-humans before they are violently expelled from the most inner reaches of Earth and escape for the better.

As Masons the concept of betterment through self-reflection is referenced in not only the initial degrees but found in other Rites found in Masonry, as is the concept of finding what was lost.

Using the Journey to the Center of the Earth as a Masonic Lens and assuming Verne intended his work to be mediums for the transmission of Masonic ideals we can likely agree with the allegory that the Journey to the Center of the Earth is reflective of the delving into the unconscious mind and freeing it from vices and basal desires to emerge changed.

One could agree that the interpretations of the text are incomplete without Masonic study that the allusions of self-betterment through self-reflection and faith are too easy to align; however, the allegory of death and rebirth is more exactly fit upon the story.  Through the Lens of the first three degrees in masonry we can trace a masonic journey through the novel. Entering in darkness as candidate, finding faith as Axel, the young nephew, finds himself alone, buried under the earth and with a failing lantern. “When I saw myself thus wholly cut off from human succor, incapable of attempting anything for my deliverance, I thought of heavenly succor…I began to pray, little as I deserved that God should know me when I had forgotten Him so long; and I prayed fervently.”

Finding resolution in prayer Axel makes a determined procession to find his companions, finding himself in the dark and descending rapidly he finds his head struck as he falls and assumes himself dead. An unknown amount of time passes and Axel awakens in the light with his party tending to his care.

This awaking is directly before the proto-humans or beastly ancient humans are seen but not engaged and eventually the party finds themselves ejected from the earth, reborn from the chthonic womb of the earth in a violent apotheosis.

Some with interest in esoteric masonic thought might look to the interplay of light and dark, the Masculine and Feminine elements and how they drive the story forward; however, those with a new found interest in Masonry or better still newly made Master Masons might find their path emulated in the story of the three intrepid travelers; the youthful nephew, the journeyman eiderdown hunter, and the wise old geologist.

Upon completion of “Journey to the Center of the earth,” for other stories of delving into the earth with clear Masonic resonance I suggest Etidorpha by Dr. John Uri Lloyd (1895), which is easily found for free. The pseudo-scientific novel uses the kidnapping of William Morgan and the start of the Anti-Masonry movement as well as other Masonic references and allegory to  the craft such as the passage below.

“The secret workers in the sacred order of which you are still a member, have ever taken an important part in furthering such a system of evolution. This feature of our work is unknown to brethren of the ordinary fraternity, and the individual research of each secret messenger is unguessed, by the craft at large. Hence it is that the open workers of our order, those initiated by degrees only, who in lodge rooms carry on their beneficent labors among men, have had no hand other than as agents in your removal, and no knowledge of your present or future movements.”

Masonic Education – January 2018

With every new year comes a new calendar, the calendar we know today is called a Gregorian calendar because it was named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. 

This calendar was a refinement of the Julian calendar, which was proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

The motivation for the reform of the Julian calendar was to stop the drift of the calendar with respect to the equinoxes and solstices, particularly the Northern vernal equinox, which helps set the date for Easter.

The Gregorian Calendar restored Easter to the time of the year in which it was celebrated when introduced by the early Church. 

The phrase “calendar era” refers to the year numbering system used by a calendar. The Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Christian Era, also known as the “common era” or C.E.

B.C. or B.C.E. stands for “before common era,” and denotes the years before the Common or Christian Era. The beginning of the Christian Era is the date when Christ was assumed to have been born. Some people remember B.C. as “before Christ.”

 A.D., stands for the Latin phrase “Anno Domini,” and means “in the year of our Lord,” and is used in the Gregorian calendar. AD was originally intended to number years from the incarnation of Jesus.

According to modern thinking the calculation was a few years off. The American calendar has its era fixed at AD 552.  

What does all this calendar information have to do with Masonry?

A Masonic Calendar is based upon the date of an event or a beginning. Craft Masons and different appendant bodies within Freemasonry utilize different Masonic calendars to celebrate a historical inception date such as the creation of the world or a historical event specific to that Masonic order or body.

These historical dates are symbolic of new beginnings, they connect the creation of physical light in the universe with the birth of Masonic spiritual and intellectual light in the candidate. The idea is that the principles of Freemasonry are as old as the existence of the world, and that it is the spirit of the institution of Freemasonry which brings a candidate from intellectual darkness to intellectual light.

The Ancient Craft Masons have a Masonic calendar that celebrates the creation of the world, approximately 4000 years before the Common Era. The reference to Anno Lucis (A.L) is Latin for “in the year of light.”

Anno Lucis is found by adding 4000 years to the present date, which is why you may see two dates on corner stones and some Masonic documents. For example, if a cornerstone was set in 2018 it may read 2018 AD 6018 AL.

With some research, one may be able to find other phrases like Anno Mundi (AM) which is Latin for “in the year of the world” or Anno Ordinis (AO) Latin for “in the year of the order” both of which have Masonic links.

Masonic Education – December 2017

In Masonry, we are introduced to plenty of allegory. One of these is the point within a circle.

This figure also includes two vertical lines touching the sides of the circle. In this symbol, the two vertical lines sometimes represent St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist.

As we approach Winter, we can be reminded of Saint John the Evangelist, whose feast day falls on December 27th.

The Feasts of the two St Johns are separated by six months, held during the Winter and Summer Solstices, which the lines can also represent. While at the equinoxes we could be symbolically back at the center of our circumscribed circle.

St. John the Evangelist may also represent coming from darkness to light as the sun starts to take over the night with its increasing minutes of daylight after the Winter solstice.

Looking at some of the other symbolic connections, St John the Evangelist could be related to the alchemical symbol of the up pointed triangle which represents fire, where we might see a link to light and knowledge. When we combine the alchemical sign of St. John the Baptist with that of St John the Evangelist, we create the star of Solomon, and the duality of fire and water, and the duality of light and dark, summer and winter.

Who was St John the Evangelist?

John was the son of a Galilean fisherman. He and his brother James were among the first disciples called by Jesus.

It is believed that he was the youngest of the apostles, probably about twenty-five years old when he was called by Jesus. He was the only apostle to live into old age, reportedly having lived for seventy years after the crucifixion of Jesus. At the Last Supper, John’s place was next to Jesus.

St John was one of the first to reach the tomb of Jesus after hearing of his resurrection and he was the first to recognize Jesus at Lake Tiberias after he had arisen.

He is attributed with having written the fourth gospel, and many other writings.

St John the Evangelist is also called the Apostle of Charity, which may be in part to his connection to Freemasonry, and to his unwavering resolve and the purity of his love of the divine.

Some legends of St John the Evangelist:

Once while denouncing idol worship as demonic, a large group of people attempted to stone him, but he turned the stones around to attack those who were throwing the stones.

When fire from heaven killed 200 idol worshipers at the Temple of Artemis, the survivors begged and pleaded for mercy to St John, who raised the 200 from the dead. He then converted and baptized the whole group.

When St John was brought to Rome for persecution, the Romans beat him and attempted to poison him. St John blessed the chalice holding the poison, turning the poison into a snake.

The Romans then had St John thrown into a cauldron of burning oil from which he emerged unharmed. This legend commemorates the feast of St John.

There is a legend that once a year his grave gives off dust that cures the sick.

St John the Evangelist is the patron of authors, theologians, and friendships. He is usually represented with either an eagle, a chalice or both.