Uncovering Masonry

Tadeusz Cegielski Speaks About the Freemasonry Exhibit in the Museum of Ethnography

Part Four: Masonry through the Looking-glass of Satire


Masonry and Satire (93MB)

Freemasonry is a part of modern culture, a part of daily life, and even though we may not be aware of it, we lead our lives in accordance with ritualistic spirituality and symbols, we develop along symbolic lines that have their provenance in the Masonic lodge. Existing as it does in daily life, it also exists in caricature. On the one hand we have anti-Masonic caricature, which we can see in some of these exhibits, of which there are a great many. Whether it wanted to or not, Masonry became the focus of political attention, of ideological attention. But also, being a broad movement, and taking into account various circumstances, it is of global scale and there are between 5 and 8 million Masons, though it all depends upon definitions, on whether a particular stream is recognised or not, whether it is Masonic or para-Masonic, existing on the fringes of Masonry.

Here we can see various cards, various drawings, various satirical cartoons published in magazines which make those on the outside, those who are not Masons, laugh at Masonry. They point out, often quite brutally, many of its faults and failings. But we also have satire that originates in the lodge and has as its goal a kind of self-reflection, the creation of an objective distance from the self.

Not all of these make sense unless one is to familiar with Masonic knowledge and activities. Many of them are very concrete, touching on various secrets, modes of recognition, secrets signs.

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