Jacques de Molay: The Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar

Jacques de Molay: The Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar

by Bro. Lorne Pierce, Past Assistant Grand Chaplain A.F.& A.M. Ontario

Originally Published in 1949, this article answers the following questions: 1) Who were the Knights Templars? 2) What happened on October 13, 1307? and 3) How and when was that date avenged? 

THE origin of knighthood is lost in the dim past. In early England, a knight seems to have been a youth who attended a member of the court; it was a position of honor and of service and might lead in time to Royal recognition and rank. In Germany, the early knight may have been regarded much in the same way, a disciple. In both countries the knights were obviously ambitious and high-spirited youths as one might expect. It was in France, however, that the idea of chivalry arose, and this conception quickly spread throughout Europe. Some knights had made themselves useful to Earls or Bishops, that is the principal landlords and magnates and military chiefs of the realm and might be classed as superior civil servants in times of peace, becoming leaders of the armies, both secular and religious, in times of war. 

There were, of course, many foot-loose knights wandering about Europe in quest of adventure, but on the whole a knight was a responsible link in the Feudal chain reaching from the king to the peasant. In time the ideal of chivalry came to prevail, and the high honor accompanying it seems to have derived from prehistoric Teutonic custom. The candidate had to submit to a rigorous investigation of his character and qualifications. Then the community turned out to welcome him with fitting ceremony and investiture with sword and shield, with belt and sword, or with gilt spurs and collar, usually by the knight’s father or some exalted personage. In time t hose who had fought against the Saracens became preeminent and were accorded rank and dignity independent of birth or wealth.

The Knights Templar, or Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, was one of the three out-standing military orders of the Middle Ages in Christendom. The brotherhood was founded, about 1118, by Hugues de Payns, a nobleman residing near Troyes, in Burgundy, and Godefroy de St. Omer (or Aldemar), a Norman knight.

Their original purpose was to protect pilgrims to sacred places, more especially those who sought the Holy Sepulchre. At first, there were eight or nine Knights Templar. They bound themselves to each other as a brotherhood in arms, and took upon themselves vows of chastity, obedience and poverty according to the rule of St. Benedict. It is also recorded that they pledged themselves to fight against ignorance, tyranny and the enemies of the Holy Sepulchre, and “to fight with a pure mind for the supreme and true King.”

Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, assigned them accommodation in his palace, which stood on the site of the Temple of Solomon. In this way their name, Templars, was derived. At first the knights wore no uniform or regalia, nothing in fact save the cast-off garments that were given to them in charity. It was the poverty, sincerity and zeal of the order in its first years that endowed it with importance. They sought out the poor and the outcast, the excommunicated as well as the unwanted, and shepherded them within their fold.

Hugues de Payns, accompanied by several of his knights, returned home in 1127 for the purpose of securing adequate ecclesiastical sanction for some of the special privileges which the order had usurped. Among the very special privileges was immunity from excommunication, which threatened a good deal of trouble. Bernard of Clairvaux, the greatest abbot of his day, received Hugues de Payns, and not only praised the Knights Templar, but went much further. The future St. Bernard did not attend the Council of Troyes in 1128, at which the Rule of the Temple was drawn up, but he seems to have inspired it – the constitution, ritual, discipline and very core of the order. 

Finally, there got abroad the idea, that in the rule of the order there existed a “secret rule,” and a legend speedily grew up around this “lost word.” In time this was the undoing of the order. The whole Rule of the Temple was probably never written out, its more essential parts being conveyed by word of mouth, by symbol and sign, and protected by proper safeguards. The point of importance was, that the order now had ample acknowledgement and authority, and from this moment onward power and treasure flowed into its hands in an unending and broadening stream.

The Templars and the Crusades are forever associated in history and legend. The Templars, in an astonishingly short time, spread over Christendom. They had thousands of the fattest manors in the Christian world. They became the bankers of the age, the money exchange between Europe and the East, the trust company of the time.

They provided loans to princes, dowries for queens, ransoms for great warriors, safety deposit vaults for the treasure of emperors and popes. Their chapters were the schools of diplomacy of the time, training grounds for prospective rulers, colleges in commerce and finance, sanctuaries for all who needed protection, high or low. It was inevitable that they should attract to themselves the envy of the less fortunate orders and guilds. In time, in fact before the death of St. Bernard, in 1153, they had not only received the tribute of kings and cardinals in the form of lands and treasure, but they freed themselves from the necessity of paying tax, tithe or tribute to any power, prince or pope, which privilege they claimed as defender of the Church. This was enough to bring upon themselves the inevitable reckoning for overreaching ambition, but they went further, very much further. They not only claimed exemption from excommunication but claimed exemption from all papal decrees except those specially aimed at them by name, and they owed allegiance to no power or authority on earth except their own head, the Bishop of Rome. They had become a separate social, economic, political and religious order, cutting across and transcending kingdoms, principalities and archdioceses, with only the Vice-gerent of God superior to their Grand Master. 

The enormous powers of the Knights Templar were bound to be challenged by the popes as well as kings who demanded loyalty within their realms. The order found itself in increasingly compromising situations, the victim of treachery on the part of kings and princes of the Church, or the instigator of trickery and subterfuge on its own part to preserve its powers. The King of France, Philip the Fair, set out to unite the Hospitallers and the Templars into one grand order, The Knights of Jerusalem, the Grand Master of which was always to be a prince of the royal house of France. The Grand Master of the Knights Templar invariably was Master of the Templars at Jerusalem, and in Cyprus after the loss of the Holy Land to the Turks. He came in time to live in a sumptuous manner, befitting his great wealth and vast powers. In th e field, during the campaigns, he occupied a great tent, round, with the black and white pennant flying above its high peak, bearing the red cross of the Templars. Regional Grand Commanders were accorded similar honors, and no one took precedence over them except the Grand Master, when he was present.

We know little concerning the initiation ceremonies of the Knights Templar. Probably there was some cleansing ritual, robing in white, the all-night vigil and Holy Communion, gilt spurs, sword or other gift of honor, and finally the oath and accolade. Certainly, the order was a Christian institution. Their war-cry – Beauseant! – also inscribed on their banners and pennants, pledged loyalty to their friends and promised terror to their foes. Likewise, both a prayer and a pledge were the well-known words:

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be the glory.

Jacques de Molay was the twenty-second and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. He was born about 1240 at Besancon, in the Duchy of Burgundy, and was of noble but poor family. He was admitted to the order of knighthood, in 1265, at Beaune and proceeded shortly to the Holy Land, under the Grand Master William de Beaujeu, to fight for the Holy Sepulchre. Jacques de Molay remained in the Holy Land for many years, for he was still with the order in Jerusalem when, about 1295, he was elected Grand Master upon the death of Grand Master Gaudinius – Theobald de Gaudilai. After the loss of Palestine by the Templars, de Molay took his few remaining knights to the Island of Cyprus. In 1305 he was summoned to a conference with the Pope, Clement V, who stated that he wished to consider measures for effecting a union between the rival Templars and Hospitallers. A long and bitter feud had existed between the two great orders.

However, both had agreed not to accept disciplined members who might desire to transfer their allegiance from one order to the other. Also, in battle, it was permitted members who became hopelessly separated from the main body of one order to rally under the cross of the rival order if near.

Jacques de Molay, accompanied by sixty knights, made a royal progress westward. He called upon the Pope who consulted him regarding a further Crusade, and de Molay requested an investigation into charges that were already being openly made against the order. Finally, he arrived in Paris with kingly pomp. Philip the Fair, King of France, suddenly arrested every Knight Templar in France, October 13, 1307, de Molay and his sixty friends among them. They were brought before the University of Paris and the charges read to them.

De Molay spent five and a half years in prison. Of those arrested, one hundred and twenty-three knights of the order “confessed under the torture of the Inquisition.” Some confessed that at the initiation ceremonies they had spat upon the Crucifix. When the Grand Master’s turn came he likewise confessed, apparently to bogus charges prepared beforehand by the Inquisition, fearing torture, but he denied the charges of gross practices indignantly, and demanded audience with the Po pe. Th e Pope himself believed the Templars were guilty, at least on some of the counts, but he resented the intrusion of Philip in what he regarded as his own special precinct, in spite of the fact that he largely owed his papal tiara to Philip.

Many retracted their confessions regarding their indignity to the Crucifix, only to be burned at the stake. Many who returned to their homes throughout Christendom, recanted, but the Inquisition followed them, and they burned. 

Despotism, naked and cruel, without scruple or any capacity for shame, had broken loose upon the world. It was a new and bloody technique that proved vastly effective in the hands of tyrants – both secular and religious. Civilization was to hear a good deal about this arbitrary rule, this summary and vindictive totalitarianism, without conscience, hungry for power, wholly wicked, completely mad. In 1311, Clement and Philip became reconciled, which prepared the way for the final act in the tragedy.

The next year, at Vienna, the Pope condemned the order in a sermon while Philip sat at his right hand. Later the inevitable occurred; the Knights Templar were broken up. Much of their treasure was given to the Knights of St. John, but Philip the Fair and Clement V reserved land and treasure, castles and Abbeys for themselves and their friends.

No full hearing seems to have been given to all the charges, or any comprehensive judgment handed down on the order as a whole. However, in 1314, Jacques de Molay, whose fear had made him a pathetic figure, and whose craven “confessions” contrary to the oath of his order had sent hundreds to their death, again confessed, again recanted his confession, again confessed, each time shrinking miserably in stature both as a man and Grand Master and having humiliation and utter disgrace heaped upon him for his pains.

Finally, after the long imprisonment and tragedy and sorrow of it all, he was led out upon the scaffold in front of Notre Dame in Paris, in company with his friend Gaufrid de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy. The papal legates were in attendance and a vast multitude of people filled the square. He was to confess by arrangement and hear the legates sentence him to life imprisonment. Jacques de Molay finally atoned. Instead of confessing he proclaimed the innocence of the order. King Philip the Fair did not hesitate or consult with the Pope’s legates; he had de Molay burned forthwith, “between the Augustinians and the royal garden.” Guido Delphini was burned with them, and also the young son of the dauphin of Auvergne. 

With his dying breath Jacques de Molay shouted to the multitude that King and Pope would soon meet him before the judgment seat of God. The common people gathered up his ashes, and before many days it was as de Molay had foretold, Both Clement V and Philip the Fair were dead.

The immortal Dante maintained the innocence of the Knights as did many another famous contemporary. Today, it is generally admitted that the Inquisition went to the poor knights in prison, told them that their officers had confessed to spitting upon the Crucifix, and then wrung from them “confessions” by the most brutal of all institutions. The confessions are all discounted. The evidence against them was from their rivals, the Dominicans and Franciscans and others, all worthless.

The Order had long held the Turk in check and kept alive the dream of a united Christendom. It had given to the world the idea of the chivalrous man as a religious man, the servant of his state not ashamed to own his God. It had paved the way for the large part laymen were to play in the religious life of the nations. It was the school of diplomacy and commerce, of international finance and opinion. Those who destroyed the order opened the way for Turkish conquests in the West. They also made known th e horrors of despotism, of trial by pogrom and purge, which kindled again in the wicked days of St. Bartholomew’s and in the mad days of the French Revolution – the cult of cruelty, that ran its course even in the New World with witch-huntings and burnings, and that is not yet dead. It has been said that the thirteenth of October 1307, was a day of humiliation for the whole race. If the world remembers, and recovers its sense of shame, its capacity for indignation, it may not have been in vain.

The Middle Ages were past, and deep rivers of Christian blood had flowed for two hundred and fifty years, before the Turk was expelled from the Spanish peninsula. Under Don John of Austria the Mediterranean states, organized into a league, sent an armada of two hundred ships against the Turkish fleet that had sailed westward from Cyprus and Crete. Christian met Saracen off Lepanto, October 7, 1571, broke the naval power of the Turks forever and set barricades to their western expansion to this day.

Thus, was October 13, 1307, at last avenged. Nearly every European state and noble family was represented. There was also present a humble Spaniard who had his arm shattered but who lived to write a book, with his one good hand, the novel Don Quixote, that laughed the last dregs of a corrupt and bogus chivalry out of Europe. He died in 1616, the year our Shakespeare died, and an era ended. The era of the common man followed; a new day had dawned.

Truth and Belief

Truth and Belief

By The V. Ills. Bro. George S. Arundale 33o

I said that I would tell you something of the truths I hold, not of all the truths I hold, but of those which are at the foundation—my ultimate truths. There is, I feel, one truth of truths, one truth which includes all others—the Unity of All Life. We know science has demonstrated that life is everywhere, though the word ”life” is not so easy to define; shall we say ‘’growth,” “unfoldment”?

In every kingdom of Nature, life is all-pervading. Even that which we call death is only change. We know that not only do our individualities persist after death, but also that the physical body, whence the individuality has departed, is not in itself dead, though it disintegrates.

Every particle of nature is life, whether, for purposes of our own, we call it “dead” or “alive.” But what is more, is that this all-pervading life is essentially one, whatever its form—the same fundamental characteristics everywhere, as science again knows. Here these characteristics sharper, keener, more definite, more sensitive, more complex; there these characteristics duller, simpler, vaguer. But the same vital principles, the same type of reaction to external stimulus.

THE KINGDOM OF NATURE

In every kingdom of Nature, there is some kind of feeling or sensation, some kind of happiness, some kind of fear, some kind of disease or illness, some kind of death. It sounds too strange to be true, yet science asserts these facts. They can be demonstrated by physical experiments.

We do not generally associate these conditions either with the mineral, the vegetable, or the animal kingdom; but that is our ignorance. We must readjust ourselves to the fact of the Unity of all Life, which means the Brotherhood of all Life, and when we say Brotherhood we contact the second great truth, the logical sequence from the first. It is that life grows, evolves. No stopping still. And we begin to talk of a ladder of this growing, of a ladder of evolution, with rung upon rung marking the different stages of growth, or of expansion.

Hence, each kingdom of Nature represents a stage of growth or unfoldment. Dull characteristics of life in the mineral kingdom. Less dull characteristics, increasing sensitiveness, in the vegetable kingdom. Still greater sensitiveness in the animal, greater definiteness, more power of movement, increased complexity of unfoldment. And then the human kingdom in which you and I are.

We probably know more or less what it is that makes us different from animals mind, for one thing, conscience for another, bigger purpose for a third, and so on. But the same life, just as there is the same life in the acorn as in the oak. Nourishment may be derived from outside, but it would be of little use unless the acorn could take it in, had the sagacity to assimilate it.

What do we conclude from all this? Surely that the human kingdom is not the final stage of growth. If kingdoms below us, why not kingdoms beyond us? Do we know nothing of them? No, nor do most animals know aught of the human kingdom. But some animals do, and I claim that some humans know of kingdoms beyond the human. Perhaps Angels belong to one of these. Perhaps the great Teachers and Saviors of the world belong to one of these.

THE BROTHERHOOD OF MANKIND

“Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

Ought we not to try to understand a little more what this brotherhood means—brothers younger than ourselves, our brothers the animals, as Saint Francis so beautifully realized and practiced; our brothers the trees, the flower, the shrub, the grass, yes, and the weeds, and the prickly pear; our brothers the stones, the humble youngest brother stones and the flower of the mineral kingdom—the diamond, the ruby, the sapphire, the emerald. Read what Ruskin says about the lives of these beautiful brothers in his “Ethics of the Dust.” But all this is about younger brothers.

There are our equal brothers, our human brothers, some, perhaps, not quite so old as others, but less distance between them than between us and our animal, vegetable and mineral brothers. No distinctions of race, or creed, or caste, or sex, or color, make any difference. These are all superficial.

Sometimes in our pride, we like to think ourselves superior. Sometimes we think people inferior because they look different from ourselves, eat differently, dress differently, sleep differently, live differently, feel and think and speak differently. That is merely a passing phase of self-preservation. What we are and have we like best; it is largely habit, and no doubt it is, to a certain extent, though not merely as much as we think, best for us. But then we begin to make the fatal mistake of imagining that it is therefore best for everybody else, and that people who have different things have worse things—a different religion, therefore a worse religion; different customs, therefore worse customs, a different nationality; therefore, a worse nationality. Very childish, and very untrue, of course; but not unnatural at a certain stage, though by this time the world ought to be quitting some of its childish ways.

ASCENDING THE LADDER

Now, if there are our younger brothers and our equal brothers, logic demands that there shall be elder brothers, some a little older but not much, some considerably older, some far older, so much older that we cannot imagine their human origin, it is so far back. The Great Saviors are our Eldest Brethren.

The life so perfect and magnificent in Them has been on every rung of the great ladder of life, and now has reached, well, I dare not say the topmost rung—who shall set a limit to God’s omnipotence—but on a rung far removed from our own, so far removed that for us it is the top: we can see and dream no further. And, yet, mark you, there are the two great lines that hold the rungs together, stretching from the bottom, as we must call it, to the top as we must equally call it—one ladder, one path, one origin, one goal. We look beneath us and see where our footsteps have been placed. We gaze above us and perceive the places on which our feet have yet to stand. And on each rung we see the clinging life, stretching ever upwards to the rung above.

I do not think I want or need any more truths. This unity, this evolution, this immeasurable and transcendent brotherhood, this certainty, this purpose, this power—what more do I need to make life intelligible and wonderfully worth living?

WHAT IS GOD?

Do I need God? All is God. I have been speaking of God all the time. I am God. You are God. The animal is God. The vegetable is God. The mineral is God. God is the ladder, God the rung, God the growth, God the origin and end, if end there be.

What do I mean by God? I mean Life. Is there a Person God? I do not know, nor need I care, for there are Those on rungs above me Who are enough Gods to give me all that God could give. Perhaps the sun, the Giver of Life, perhaps He is God; but who shall say He is God the ultimate? And who need care. His sunshine is our growth, come that sunshine whence it may.

Do I need to say that God is Love? When I know the brotherhood, I know love. Only as I am ignorant of the brotherhood of life are my eyes blinded to the all-pervading love. Love is everywhere. Life disproves this, you say. I say to you:

Know the brotherhood of life, and you shall perceive the Love of God.

Do I need to say that God is justice? When I know the brotherhood of life I know His justice. Only ignorance blinds me to His justice.

TO KNOW TRUTH

Hard to believe? Hard to understand? Truth needs ardent wooing, my brothers, relentless pursuit, tireless search, unfaltering desire.

To know Truth, you must unflinchingly examine your beliefs, your opinions, your conception, your prejudices, and your orthodoxies in the clear light of your most exalted self, your highest self.

When you are at your noblest, how do all these things strike you? When you merge your lower self in the greater self under the transmuting magic of wondrous music, of noble utterance, of soul-stirring landscape, of sight or hearing of fine heroism, do you not for a moment, even if only for a moment, feel one with all the world? Do you not feel your brotherhood with all? Do you not feel as if you could do anything for anybody? Do you not see ns petty much that in the lower self you thought as right and proper? Do you not feel, just for the moment, as if you could do great things, were dedicated to a noble mission and exalted purposes?

Such, my friends, is the real you, the you that can climb, must and snail climb, rung after rung beyond the one on which you stand. In such a self, not only do you know these truths of which I have been speaking, you have become these truths; you are these truths. And you perceive how gloriously worthwhile it is to climb, if such are the heights which shall be reached, if such the glory into which you enter. The vision fades, perchance, as the magic ceases. But, nevermore, can you stay where you are.

ONWARD AND FORWARD

Evermore must you climb, and you know that the Truth of truths—the Unity of Life—means that we climb together, that we cannot climb alone, and that, therefore, there is no climbing save as we aid others to climb. We climb as we seek the feet of Those who are stretched on the Cross of Loving Sacrifice.

May each one of us become a Cross of Loving Sacrifice! For the Way of the Cross is the hope of the world!

What do Freemasons Imagine?

What do Freemasons Imagine?

I grew up listening to the Beatles. John Lennon was one of my favorite musicians. Recently I was listening to his song “Imagine.” As music sometimes does, it triggered a whole chain reaction of questions.

What does it mean to imagine, really? How is imagination related to creativity? Does it guide the Freemason? Is there a masonic message underneath the song’s lyrics for those who have the “seeing eye”?

At first listen, it’s easy to think of the song “Imagine” as a simple tune: a ballad, a vision of peace, a piano-driven melody. But at second listen,  I began to wonder, deep down, if what Lennon describes will really happen. Will the world have a happy ending?  To imagine all people living in peace asks for the giving up of what we often cling to most frantically.

Consider the third verse:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

Possible, really? Imagine a life without material possessions. What are possessions? Well, pretty much everything that we love and cherish and cannot do without. Can we imagine a life without our smart devices? Probably, we cannot. And that’s why John Lennon questions if we are capable of such a triumph.

Even so, I subscribe to the theory that we are poised for a great leap forward in our evolution as humans. This turning point in our history is propelled by technology which is fundamentally transforming not only how we live as a species, but also how we see ourselves at our core. IMG_3216

And, in order to journey into this uncharted new phase of human history, we need Freemasonry more than ever. Why? Because behind all the Masonic work and underlying all its rituals and symbolism there can be found the prophetic vision of a new world. It frames a code and system of moral imagination for those who know that their work and actions transform themselves, and their world.

Brother Foster Bailey writes in “Spirit of Masonry”:

“The prophet of old has told us that ‘where there is no vision the people perish.’ In Masonry the vision blazes forth in the East, and towards the materializing of that vision all good Masons work.”

This begs the question: how do all “good masons” work at imagining?

Imagination: From “Ideas” to “Ideals” to “Idols

The scholar Wendy Wright describes the imagination as:

“the crucial capacity of the human person to create a world – either the familiar world of the everyday or a world not yet visible. Our relentless human search for new ways of being and relating, our dreams of beauty, our longings for mercy and justice.”

Wright claims that imagination is the heart of all creative work, allowing us to imagine the unseen and give form to the new. It is essential to all human activity. It gives us the power to recall the past, and to predict possibilities for the future.

1024px-Inside_the_Temple_of_Aboo-symbol-David_RobertsToday, the job of remembering the past has been well documented by research scholars. In our schools and in our lodges, we study the traditional history as it has unfolded down the centuries. But do we spend as much time attempting to imagine a clear picture of the future? Is there a method whereby ideas can be developed?

In the writings of Brother Alice Bailey, she gives an outline broadly speaking of how ideas pass through three stages.

  1. The idea – based on intuitive perception
  2. The ideal – based on mental formulation and distribution.
  3. The idol – based on the materializing tendency of physical manifestation. (This is when the sensed idea unfortunately becomes dogma).

Bailey says that “once an idea becomes an ideal, humanity can freely reject or accept it, but ideas come from a higher source and are imposed upon the racial mind, whether men want them or not.”

Interesting to consider? Not sure I agree with all of that sentence, especially the word “imposed,” but let us see how this method might work.

Imagine: “A Brotherhood of Man”

Take for example the idea of “brotherhood.” Most would say that in its pure state, the idea itself is from a higher source (Divine). In Early America, the impressed idea took flight as a radical thought movement in surprising ways. Brother George Washington and other early American Freemasons abandoned a European past in which an overbearing authority controlled the flow of ideas. A sense of something new was being imagined and being born in America. St._Paul's_Chapel_Great_Seal_Painting

The early masons “worked” to actualize this masonic ideal. They imagined a liberty from the imprisoning conditions of an oppressive class-ridden society. They imagined equality of society based upon universal education and combating ignorance. They imagined a fraternity, where all men are brothers.

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! These three words were the outcry and ideals of the best minds of the time.

As such, through the imaginative process, the founders of America began to materialize a sensed idea of brotherhood, even if still a rough stone.

Brother Albert Pike writes in Morals and Dogma (1872):

“He who would become an accomplished Mason must not be content merely to hear, or even to understand, the lectures; he must, aided by them, and they having, as it were, marked out the way for him, study, interpret, and develop these symbols for himself.”

Pike stresses that the lectures and teachings must mark out a way. To develop the symbols is to “mark well,” making them manifest in the everyday world.

Great_Seal_of_the_United_States_(reverse).svgA case in point is The Great Seal, which was designed under the direction of accomplished masons such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The Latin motto that is displayed on the unfinished pyramid — Annuit Coeptis Novus Ordo Seclorum — can be approximately, if poetically, translated as: “God Smiles on Our New Order of the Ages.” It expresses Masonic philosophy at its heart.

Thus, in the founding of America we see the three stages of the imagination process that Brother Alice Bailey describes.

And today? What do Freemasons imagine? Perhaps a better question is: How do Freemasons imagine? Sure, the world is not a Utopia yet.  But I have come to realize that the process of imagination can be a path to discovering what is good, true, and beautiful.  And in the words of John Lennon, “it’s easy if you try.” 

“The heart of human identity is the capacity and desire for birthing. To be is to become creative and bring forth the beautiful.” — John O’Donohue

Under the Banner of Universal Co-Masonry: The Institution of Polaris Lodge

Under the Banner of Universal Co-Masonry: The Institution of Polaris Lodge

It is the custom of Freemasons to gather to lay the foundation stone or dedicate and consecrate certain places in time-honored ceremonies. For example, on September 18, 1793, President George Washington, a Freemason, laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol and was assisted by the Grand Master of Maryland Joseph Clark, in a Masonic ritual.

The newspaper of the day reported: “On Wednesday, one of the grandest Masonic processions took place, for the purpose of laying the corner-stone of the Capitol of the United States, which, perhaps, was ever exhibited on the like important occasion.” george-washington-cornerstone-laying

Following Masonic tradition, such sacred work was accomplished on September 23, 2017, when Universal Co-Masonry instituted Polaris Lodge in Dallas, Texas. The ceremony was conducted on that Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m.

The Most Sovereign Grand Commander Magdalena I. Cumsille presided and granted Dispensation to the Dallas brethren to form Polaris Lodge. Addressing those assembled, the M.S.G.C. stated:

Since time immemorial, it has been custom among Freemasons to dedicate certain places, persons, or things to Divinity, in order to prepare them for a specific role and purpose. Today, honoring that ancient tradition, we are assembled here to birth Polaris Lodge: the first of many Lodges to be instituted under the banner of Universal Co-Masonry.

Brothers from all orients of Universal Co-Masonry united fraternally to dedicate the Lodge that arose from the continued labors of so many. The name Polaris PolarisInstitutionwas chosen by the Brothers of the new Lodge, which is the name of the celestial body also referred to as the North Star or Pole Star.

Polaris is famous for remaining virtually still in the sky while the entire northern sky moves around it. That is because of its location which is nearly at the north celestial pole, the point around which the entire northern sky turns.

As Freemasonry is an ancient craft of Builders, Polaris has long been an important point of orientation. Before the invention of the compass, builders laid out the north and south lines of their foundations by observing the heavens. Of particular usefulness was Polaris, which allowed for the alignment of a perfect North and South line. Freemasonry venerates the great builder, King Solomon of Israel, who raised a sublime Temple, which he dedicated to God. During the ceremony, the M.S.G.C. explained: 

It is important to remember that true enlightenment can never be achieved except in the Spirit of Brotherhood, based on unity in Spirit. King Solomon is one of the main characters in the annuals of Freemasonry, and he had this in mind when he concentrated the attention of the whole nation in building his Temple….

When the Temple was finished, the King said: “I have surely built Thee a house of habitation, a place for Thee to dwell forever.” (I Kings 8:13)

Statehouse Time CapsuleFollowing the tradition of the Ancient Israelites, the Temple was consecrated with corn, wine, oil, and salt to launch a new unit of brotherhood into the United Federation of Lodges.

In addition to its usefulness to the Craft in building, Polaris has long been regarded as a guide and orientation point to travelers across the globe. Brother Albert Mackey, expounded on the importance of Polaris in his book, “An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry,” by stating:

The North Star is the Pole Star, the Polaris of the mariner, the Cynosaura, that guides Freemasons over the stormy seas of time.

For two thousand years, sailors and travelers have used this star as a means of navigation. Brother P.D. Newman, in his work, “Freemasonry and the Art of Moral Navigation,” wrote: 

The North Star then, both literally and symbolically, is that guiding light by which a traveling man may find his way back home, that is, back to the center.

With the institution of this new body completed, the Brethren assembled then celebrated the occasion with a festive banquet. 

Congratulations to all of the Brothers who have dedicated their time and efforts in the formation of the new Lodge. May the light of Polaris shine forever as a guide for the builders of the Temple of Humanity.   

Universal Freemasonry

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

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