Historical and Philosophical Paper


                                                  ARTICLE NO. 5

HISTORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL PAPER ABOUT FREEMASONRY
  

          I would like to say a few words to the newly raised
Brothers.  No doubt when going through the three degrees, you
thought about many things regarding Free Masonry, such as what
does
it mean, what is its teachings, how old is it, how did it
originate, and many other thoughts.

          Now that you are a member and have received a copy of
the
Constitution of Grand Lodge, a copy of the Landmarks, and are
entitled to purchase a copy of the Authorized Work, these will
give
you a lot of the answers, and it is a great advantage to your
knowledge of Masonry if you study them.

          There are also a great many books that have been
written
about the origin and antiquity of Free Masonry and what it means
to
us.

          So I would like to take this opportunity to give you a
brief outline about Free Masonry, its origin and its antiquity.

          Friends and foes of Free Masonry agree that the
institution is ancient and that it existed from time immemorial. 
In fact the precise origin of Free Masonry is yet to be
ascertained, as the early records are lost.  A lot of its ritual
and many of its symbols passed on from one generation to another,
largely by means of oral repetitions, instructions and lectures,
and have all the marks of antiquity.  Some of the legends of Free
Masonry carry us back to the day of Enoch.

          The truth is that Free Masonry owes its origin to no
one
single source.  Our history and symbolism have been influenced
from
many sources.  It is a curious and startling fact that the
religious mysteries of the Phoenicians were in the hands of a
society called the Doinysian Artificers, a fraternal order of
architects and builders who erected the temples and theatres of
the
Phoenician people.  They had signs and words, they practised
benevolence, and one of the peculiarities of their construction
of
buildings was that the timbers and stones to be used were hewn
and
prepared in the quarries and forests, and brought to the site all
ready to be placed in position.

          It was about 1100 B.C. when we find these builders
organized into groups or lodges, governed by a Master and two
Wardens, and holding general assemblies at lebedos and elsewhere
from time to time.  Now we know that this order existed in TYRE
when Solomon's temple was built in 1000 B.C. and until about 300
B.C.  And we find faint traces of it down to the time of the
Crusaders, 1500 or 1600 years later.

                                                       ...2

                                  -  2  -


          In the ruins of Pompeii, buried in 79 A.D. under the
ashes of Mount Vesuvies and uncovered in 1878, was found a
meeting
place just as it stood 1800 years previously.  In front of the
buildings were two columns or pillars, and interlaced triangles
carved on the walls, and on a pedestal in the room an altar with
a
symbolic design of rare beauty.  This room had the appearance of
an
old Roman operative lodge.

          Cleopatra's needle, the obelisk in Central Park, New
York, was a gift to the United States from Egypt in 1878.  It
stood
in the Great Temple of the Sun God at Heliopolis on the Nile,
from
the 15th Century B.C.  In a cavity in its foundation were found
all
the emblems of the builders, a rough cube, a polished cube, a
square, an iron trowel, a lead plummet, an arc of a circle, a
stone
trestle board, and a stone bearing the master's mark - all
evidence
that the builders worked in the light of a mystical faith.

          The great cathedrals were not the work of individual
artists, but of an organized group of builders who planned,
built,
and adorned them.  Notre Dame Cathedral, the cornerstone of which
was laid in 1163 A.D., was one of these cathedrals, and is still
standing today.

          They had Masters under Grand Masters.  Their meeting
places were called lodges.  They had Masters, Wardens, oaths,
tokens, grips, and passwords.  They wore white gloves and aprons.

The square, compass, level, plumb line, and arch appear among
their emblems.  King Solomon's knot was one of these symbols - an
interwoven cord - symbol of eternity.  And later the lion's paw
sees their chief emblem.

          In the operative days, whenever a church, abbey or
cathedral was to be erected, a master builder would come with a
few
skilled assistants to the locality.  Operative Masons came from
all
dictions.  They possessed means of making themselves known by
signs
and grips.  Few of them could read or write, for certificates of
membership were unknown and might be stolen.  These Masons would
set up a lodge, and there they slept, studied their plans,
received
their instructions, and taught their apprentices.  This was
Operative Masonry.

          By 1700, the building of great cathedrals was
languishing
in England an elsewhere, and lodges become mor social then
practical.  The speculative or accepted Masons dominated the
lodges
and controlled the affairs.

          In 1716, we find four lodges in London, at different
taverns, and they held their meetings there.  Their
representatives

                                                       ...3


                                  -  3  -


met at the Apple Tree Tavern in June of that year and decided to
form a Grand Lodge, and did so on June 24th, 1717.  They elected
a
code and constitution, a set of regulations.  The Three Degrees
were perfected about 1720-1721.  So began our Grand Lodge system
and the beginning of Speculative Masonry.

          I would like to say a few words, here, about the Grand
Lodge.  Grand Lodge is the governing body over the craft or blue
lodges of which we are members.  Now all organizations, if it is
our church or country, or anything else, have to have a governing
body in order to exist.  Therefore, Grand Lodge is necessary to
make the laws and rules for the lodges to follow, and as Grand
Lodge officers are members of the lodges, they are in a good
position to know what is best.  So, if there was no Grand Lodge
to
govern the lodges, they would cease to exist.

          Every Grand Lodge is governed by a Grand Master, who is
elected each year at the Annual Grand Lodge Meeting, and is
chosen
because of his integrity and fidelity and great knowledge of Free
Masonry, and he is held in high veneration by the members of the
craft, as well as other Grand Lodge officers.

          Free Masonry is practised in many of the nations of the
world, and is the oldest known fraternal organization in the
world,
as far as we know.  Free Masonry is an honourable fraternity, and
one can be proud of being a member.  Many of the kings of England
were Masons; George Washington, the first president of the United
States, was a Mason, and 15 of the other presidents were Masons. 
Many men of high eminence and statesmen in different countries of
the world are Masons.  There are many ministers and church
leaders
who are Masons and many were Grand Masters.

          Although Free Masonry is not a religion, it is founded
on
religious teachings.  The Holy Bible is open on the altar and
every
meeting is opened and closed with a prayer.  Therefore, it is not
surprising that in Free Masonry you will find no support for such
theories as Communism, Atheism, or unbelief or anarchy and
lawless
disorder.  But you will find a substantial support for a belief
in
a Supreme Being, the Author of the Universe, for the doctrine of
a
future life, for a doctrine of a resurrection to eternal life,
for
equal rights and justice for all, for freedom of thought and
action, for the principles of the Golden Rule, for the duties we
owe to ourselves, families and friends, and fellowmen, such as
prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude, fidelity, courtesy,
benevolence, and all the rest; for devotion to one's country, for
the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.

                                                       ...4




                                   - 4 -


          Therefore, Free Masonry is the activity of closely
united
men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the
mason's trade and from architecture, work for the welfare of
mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others, and
thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind, which they
aspire to exhibit, even now on a small scale.

          My Brothers, that is Free Masonry.  The builder that
represents all that is good, such as prudence, temperance,
justice
and all the rest that goes to make a better world - the fraternal
order of which you are now a member.





THIS PAPER WAS PREPARED BY OWEN J. BARR, PDDGM, STEWIACKE LODGE
#98, AND DONATED TO THE BOARD OF MASONIC EDUCATION, GRAND LODGE
OF NOVA SCOTIA, FEBRUARY 10,1990.