Vol. XXXIII No. 8 — August 1955

“Green Trees — High Hills”

Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
— Jeremiah 17:1

Altars — green trees, of which the acacia is one — high hills, often better than low vales for the meetings of our ancient brethren; Jeremiah might almost have been a Mason!

There are “high hills” to be seen today in Masonic journeys and “green trees” of Masonic adventure grow thereon. Here are some “green trees” the shade of which is pleasant, and some "high hills” from the tops of which may be seen new views of the Ancient Craft.

Brethren write: “I would love to know something more about Masonry, but I don’t have time to read books — haven’t you something short?"

Brethren ask their elders: “How can I learn more of Masonry without doing a lot of reading and studying? I’ve been to our library here and they don’t have anything but an old history. . . .”

Here, brethren, are Masonic high hills waiting to be climbed — and green trees waiting to shade you!

Some of you will remember the Short Talk Bulletin entitled: “No Royal Road,” which brought a flood of replies from readers; it is descriptive of the five main hills that beckon the adventurer to sit beneath the green trees of philosophy, history, jurisprudence, symbolism, ritual.

Lengthy tomes have been written about them all. But to aid the hurrying of today, the M.S.A. has a library of Digests — its monthly blue covered documents — in which is boiled down and made easy the experience, the knowledge, the information, the facts and figures of Masonry on many subjects, especially those to which there is “no royal road.”

Do you shy from philosophy, thinking it difficult? It is only the sum of men’s thinking! In Famous Masonic Orations you will read seven of the greatest addresses ever made to the most important audiences by some of Masonry’s greatest speakers — and behold, your philosophy becomes a romantic green tree instead of a difficult subject!

Would you climb a high hill? For the Blood is the Life is the inspiring tale of what Masons have done and are doing in that most personal of all offerings to others — the gifts of blood. No laboratory can make blood. Blood good for human bodies “grows” only in human bodies. You have to give it, if it is to save lives. Not all the gold in Ft. Knox can buy a single pint of manufactured blood — there is no such thing. How are Masons helping? This Digest will make you proud as well as excited! And it is part of the high hill that is the simple philosophy of Masonry that rates unselfishness as the foundation of human happiness.

You did not like history in school? No wonder, when some of the stodgy books of names, dates, places make an encyclopedia out of what should be a swiftly moving tale. Some Masonic histories have the same fault; too much fact, not enough movement; too much information, not enough emotion.

But read, for instance, Lest We Forget and Historic Masonic Relics - read Masonic Treasures of Pennsylvania, A Selection of Masonic Treasures of "The House of the Temple," Masonic Treasures of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (all illustrated) and then tell us history is dry!

Incidentally, a Short Talk Bulletin “Masonic History Dry?” and another, “Six Masonic War Tales” will make any heart beat faster. You can find these green trees and rest in the shade of all in an hour or less! Freemasonry's Oldest Document - the old, old Regius Poem of A.D. 1390 — what a picture it paints of the Masons who built the great cathedrals of Europe, and how from the operative craft was emerging the speculative Freemasonry of today. Masonic Stamp Collection is history in miniature pictures — a beautiful book showing how and when and by what the United States enshrined patriots and Masons, events and happenings, all in the most beautiful postage stamps in the world, high lulls of history so easy to climb!

Moon Lodges reads as fast as a prairie fire runs; the tale of the disappearing but always romantic lodges that used to meet — some still do — by the light of the full moon. Here is a green tree as colorful as if trimmed for Christmas!

Are you interested in law? Not all law interest is centered in lawyers! A lawyer wrote Masonry and Civil Law, which tells tales you never heard before. Suppose you had to be a witness in court under oath and asked to give verbatim the Masonic Master Mason Obligation? What would you do? What could you do? Here is a high hill from which such an instance is to be seen. Indeed, the booklet tells of many a way in which civil law has been invoked by, or against, the Ancient Craft and how these cases came out.

Legal minds, too, are interested in Taxation of Masonic Property and rightly so, for the practices differ as differeth day from night and one star from another in glory, in the several states of the Union.

Some grand lodges are incorporated, some are not. Some grand lodges forbid, others encourage their lodges to incorporate. Why? And what are the results? Here is a Digest to make you think in legal terms of your lodge or grand lodge, no matter which classification either may be within.

This page would be sadly incomplete did it not call to your attention “powers of grand masters” which range all the way from that of an Emperor whose word is law and may not be questioned, to a leader who is more or less confined within a jacket of “you can” and “you cannot” enacted by grand lodges that did not too much trust their leaders! Perhaps this document is more a “low vale” than a “high hill” but it is greatly informative!

“I don’t need any more information on symbolism — I know my ritual thoroughly.”

Do you?

Here are a few leads to new interpretations of symbolism; some of them so inviting that you should be cautioned not to go so far or climb so fast that you have no time to come back and start afresh on another high hill. Masonic Parallels in Shakespeare is an extraordinary booklet. The Bard of Avon of course was not a Mason, yet his plays are filled with Masonic allusions, sentiments and reflections. Here, an earnest student of the great playwright has selected and abstracted these that throw a vivid light on Shakespeare’s time and a time when Freemasonry was just emerging from the shadows whence it came.

By the same distinguished author, also, is Richness of Masonic Language. Don’t say, “But I am not interested in semantics!” Perhaps you are not — few men are — but all Masons are interested in what our words mean and why we have so many curious words and phrases and, at times, such odd language in our ritual. Here is the magic story of the traveling word, the flying phrase, and the soaring syllables that change in meaning as they travel through time and give a wholly new idea of the meaning of some symbols: green trees, indeed!

The illustrated Digest on Grand Lodge Seals is a study in pictorialism influenced by Masonry. Here also is the “unweaving of the rainbow” of the Great Seal of the United States, which seems to be Masonic and has Masonic symbols and yet is not, actually, Masonic at all; almost a withered green tree!

Dress Up Your Speech contains hundreds of famous quotations, all dealing with Masonic truths or facts or symbols and all available to anyone who ever makes a Masonic speech, to tailor it, cut it well, press it carefully, make it fit, dress it for a reader or an audience! Not, perhaps, a really high hill, it is still worth the climb!

If you have no time to do more than look, there are two charts; the Masonic Tree - printed in colors, showing the relationship between the several rites and all the degrees of Masonry with its roots deep in the Symbolic Degrees; The Circle of Masonry which illustrates the symbols that stand for all the degrees from the square and compass of the Symbolic Lodge to the double-headed Eagle of the Scottish Rite. There are more of these degrees and symbols therefore than most of us have ever dreamed, practically a forest of green trees!

Ritual is not the be-all and end-all of Masonry, but ritual has importance. Its understanding is not limited by its learning or delivery. Here, indeed, is a high hill to climb and many a new sight and sound to see and hear at the top. The Pocket Masonic Dictionary, for instance, not only defines many Masonic words that some (whisper this!) ritualists do not know, but also lists a hundred Masonic words normally mispronounced with their proper pronunciation: trees of many shades.

Perhaps the Pocket Encyclopedia of Masonic Symbols belongs on the high hill of symbolism, but symbolism is taught in ritual and when ritual fails to teach it all — as is often done — this little pocket book of nearly five hundred topics will be a guide book to the path towards these green trees and a lamp unto the feet of the traveler up these high hills.

Bible in Masonic Ritual and Biblical and Other Ancient Names in Freemasonry have self-explanatory titles, but think of these as absorbingly interesting talks on these subjects, and not as dry-as-dust tomes to study: as guides to new paths to beautiful views from Masonic hill tops.

There is much more among the Digests on ritualistic subjects — Masonic Feast and Table Lodge, for instance, and the controversial subject Ritual Ciphers, supplied by many, forbidden by as many grand lodges.

Probably The War and Freemasonry might be a high hill on an historical map, but it is also a matter of romance — and no greater tale of courage and the immortality of Freemasonry was ever told than the illustrated After Fifteen Years - the story of the suppression of Masonry in Germany and how it came to life and growth and power again. The acacia tree has great vitality. This German green tree has power to move the heart; so have The War Against Freemasonry which is blood-boding reading, and War Service of U.S. Grand Lodges which is pride provoking!

And then there is The Search — perhaps the most romantic document this Association has ever issued, in which the chief end and aim of Freemasonry is focused under spotlights of romance and history and fairy tale and myth and legend until the whole glows with an inner light that, as one reader said of it, “left me wanting to get on my knees and pray.”

It is difficult, if not impossible, to classify all Masonic “green trees” and "high hills” under the five heads that precede these paragraphs. Where, for instance, should Lodge Names be located? Here is a unique study of the names of all the Masonic lodges in the nation, arranged in easy classifications for lodges U.D. which are hunting a name, and displaying some of the interesting, peculiar and at times, very odd choices of names of lodges.

Where on the Masonic map would you locate the illustrated Digest on the first printed Great Light — the centuries old Gutenberg Bible with its beautiful reproduction in six colors of one of its illuminated pages? This is the most priceless book in the world — a million dollars will not buy you a copy! And it is the first of the Great Lights that have so greatly influenced Freemasonry.

Is an Ancient Landmark a symbol, a law, or a marker in history? Have you ever been satisfied with any list of Ancient Landmarks that you have seen? Do you know of the controversies that rage (politely, of course, and always Masonically) between those who think that Mackey knew and wrote for all time when he compiled his list of twenty-five, and that grand lodge that insists that there are fifty-four Landmarks, and that which is satisfied with seven, and those who won’t list any, because any list is too confining? You’ll like The Ancient Landmarks Digest and can find your own grand lodge’s beliefs and practices on these high hills.

Every American has a vested interest in the City of Washington, District of Columbia, the Capital of this nation. Most Masons are interested in its Masonic connections. A Digest sets these forth — Your Masonic Capital - and tells much of what Masonry meant in building the governmental city.

In stock, awaiting your pleasure, are one hundred twenty-five of these Digests, each on a separate subject, many illustrated. A catalog with a complete alphabetical and a classified list is yours for the asking.

In stock, also, awaiting your pleasure, are three hundred ninety Short Talk Bulletins, each on a separate subject. A complete and a classified catalog of these, too, is yours for a postal card.

Here then, are five hundred and more Masonic “high hills” and “green trees,” all for you.

It costs but a few cents to try one or two. . . .

Jeremiah 41:8 also said, “We have treasures in the field of wheat and of barley and of oil. . . .” These are the corn, wine, and the of Masonry.

They are to be found in the pleasant shade of the “green trees” on Masonry’s “high hills.”

Question Box

This column will attempt to answer questions about Freemasonry.

Why “Grand” lodge? What is grand about it?

Grand is used in the same sense as in grand total, grandfather, meaning first, principal, most important. It does not mean a lodge that is “grand” in the sense that it is big, impressive, beautiful, as when the word is used in “a grand spectacle,” “a grand performance.”

What is the grand lodge?

The governing body of Freemasonry within a certain territory — in the United States the governing body of Masonry in each state in the Union and in the District of Columbia. It is composed of its officers and its “permanent members” — usually past officers, and the masters, or masters and wardens, or masters, wardens and past masters, of the several lodges. Some grand lodges authorize also a special lodge representative. Grand lodges usually meet once a year, a few meet twice a year, one has three meetings each year and two, five meetings each year. The grand lodge has as its presiding officer the grand master and the legislation of the grand lodge is binding upon all Masons within its territory and upon all lodges under its jurisdiction.

What is a “recognized grand lodge”?

The Forty-nine Grand Lodges of the United, states have different conceptions of “regularity.” Thus the grand lodge in State A will “recognize” — that is, accept as equal, regular, legitimate Freemasonry — the Grand Lodge of Foreign Country X, while the Grand Lodge of State B is not satisfied that the Grand Lodge of Foreign Country X conforms to all the requirements of the Grand Lodge of State B. Thus a Grand Lodge of a foreign country may be legitimate Masonry to the Grand Lodge of one state, and “clandestine” or “irregular” or “unrecognized” by another state. The Masonic Service Association publishes every July a chart showing what grand lodges outside the United States are “recognized” by each of the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the nation.

The Masonic Service Association of North America