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ABERDEEN lter, THE LODGE.
In the Anglo-Saxon period of English history the majority of gilds ("frith gilds," "crich ten gilds") were religious, military, or social fratemities. In the Twelfth Century a number of "secular gilds" began to arise, and it was these which later came to be called City Companies or (because certain of their members wore a prescribed costume) Livery Companies. The Exchequer Rolls of London show that by 1180 a number of these were legally organized; and because they could enforce laws, enact rules, levy fines and other penalties, etc., they had to have legal sanction for these governmental functions. This sanction was obtained in two ways : first, by having their rules and records approved at certain times by the Court of Aldermen, which was called Prescription ; or, second, by receiving a Charter of Incorporation from the King.
If a company, society, fraternity, or gild undertook tu perform gild functions without the required legal authorization it was called an Adulterine (illegal) Gild; and after being tried and found guilty was heavily fined or otherwise punished, or was destroyed.
In l181 no fewer than 18 such gilds were found in London, and each was heavily fined. The fact is important in Masonic history because it shows why Masons attached so much importance to their Charters, Old Charges, etc. To act in association or hold assemblies or enforce rules and regulations without legal authorization would have made of them an adulterine Gild. The Masons Company of London became a recognized body not later than 1220, and by prescription. In 1481 it received its "Enfranchisement," or permission to wear Livery. In 1677 it received a Charter (a very expensive luxury) from Charles II. What Prescription,
Enfranchisement, and Charter were to a City Company, the Old Charges must have been to Lodges; once such a Lodge set itself up as a permanent society its first thougbt would be to have a written sanction lest it be condemned as adulterine. By the same token the new Grand Lodge of 1717 began as soon as possible to have a written legal instrument of its own, which took the form of the Book of Constitutions in 1723, and it compelled each new Lodge to have written warrant from it ; and later, it began to issue Charters of its own to new Lodges.
A clandestine Lodge of the present time, which is a body without a regular Charter, is nothing otber tban the modern form of the ancient ''adulterine gild."
AFRICA, CONTINENT OF.
The historic mission of Freemasonry in Africa has been for its Lodges and otber Bodies to serve as a center of union and unity in communities of which the majority of citizens belong to a conglomerate of nationalities, languages, and races. The first Lodge in South Africa was Goede Hoop, of Holland origins, constituted in the Transvaal in 1772. (See article in this Supplement under Slavery, etc. ) The English founded British Lodge, No. 334, at Cape Town, in 1811. In 1860 a Lodge under Scotland was constituted as Southem Cross, No. 398. The earliest Lodge under an Irish warrant was Abercom No. 159, in 1895. Haille Selassie, the Emperor, was preparing to establish Lodges in Abyssinia shortly before the Italian conquest.
By 1936 there were on the Continent 389 Lodges recognized by Grand Lodges in the United States, and an undiscoverable number not recognized, many of the 'atter being of French, Spanish, and Italian origin. There were 254 Lodges under Englisb Constitutions 103 under Scotland, 31 under Ireland. Since very little of Africa is under any Exciusive Terittorial Jurisdiction the way is open for Lodges for America. nationals, of which there are many in port cities businessmen, sailors, men of the Navy, airmer etc. In size African Lodges range from 25 to 301 members.
Egypt at the Sudan had in 1936, 25 Lodges; Province of Natal, 46; Union of Soutb Africa and the Transvaal, 228; Johannesburg, 31; Cape Towrl, 12 Nigeria, 21; Rbodesia, 24; West Africa, 17; Eas. Africa, 11; Tanganyika Territory, 6; Cape Colony, 9 Orange Free State, 2; etc. The Englisb Lodges havi five District Grand Lodges, Ireland has a Provincia Grand Lodge of South Africa, Southern. The Scottish Rite has two Grand Inspectors General among Lodges under English Constitutions. The Knigbts Templai and the Royal Arch are vigorous. The Transvaal Bodies have a Masonic Home. the majority ol Bodies bave a Benevolence Fund. A possible United Grand Lodge for South Airica is discussed, but appears unlikely.
ALCHIMY, THE ORDINALL OF.
This is the title of a book by Thomas Norton, of Bristol, England, which was reproduced in facsimile by Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore, 1929 ; taken from Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum with annotations by Elias Ashmole (made a Freemason at Warrington Lodge, in 1646). It contains an introduction, tantalizingly brief, by E. J. Holmyard. the study of chemistry, tben called alchemy, is said to bave been introduced into Europe in l144 when Robert of Chester transl ated Book of the Composition of Alchemy. (See Renaissance of the TweJth Century, by Haskins.)
Thomas Norton's father was Mayor of Bristol in 1413, and wss a member of Parliament. Thomas himself was a man of much educati on and wealth. He learned his art (mystery it was then called, meaning craft or trade) from a study of the works of George Ripley, bom fifteen years after the deatb of Chaucer. The Ordinall is one of three books on alchemy written by Thomas Norton. It is somewhat cryptic ; presupposes a certain amount of erudition; is written in a loose imitation of Chaucer's verse; is not a great work of literature but is easy to read, and surpasses on most counts books written in the first half of the Fifteenth Century.
In addition to Ashmole's interest in it, the Ordinall has two particular points of interest for Masonic students. First, in describing the contemporary craze for chemistry, Norton declares that common workmen are as curious about it "as well as Lords," and among them, along with weavers, goldsmiths, tailors, etc., he names "Free Masons"-and it is interesting that be used that form of the word.
Second, on page 33, be tells how the "Master" from whom he learned alchemy refused to instruct him in writing, therefore Norton had "to ride to my Master an hundred miles and more" for oral, and secret, instruction (chemistry was an unlawful science) ; and on the same page, addressing prospective pupils he writes
"Wherefore it is neede that within short space,
We speake together, and face to face;
If I should write, I should my fealty [oath] break,
Therefore mouth to mouth I must needes speakt'.''
This passage caught Ashmole's eye. In a long annotation he gives a paragraph about famous instances of secret, mouth to-ear instructors and instructions, including Aristotle, and hints that because of dangers from the vulgar and prohibitions from princes and prelates "divers" arts and sciences have been thus propagated.
In a page contributed by him to Ars Quatuor coronatorum, 1894, entitled "The Medical Profession and Freemasonry" Robert Freke Gould devotes a paragraph to each of a number of famous physicians (Michael Scott, Lully, Paracelsus, Jerome Cardan, etc.) who had been alchemists, kabbalists, or had engaged in other forms of Hermetism. After quoting Dr. Stukeley as baving averred that Freemasonry may be suspected to be "remains of the Mysteries of the Antients," Gould continues: "With very little latitude of interpretation, the conclusion he arrived at, may be safely accepted as a correct one. the mysteries of Freemasonry are evidently the fragments of some ancient and nearly forgotten learning. . ." Gould then admits it as possible that "the Cabbalists, the Hermetical [or Occult] Philosophers, and the Rosicrucians, are the intermediaries" by whom those "fragments" have come down to us.
These remarks, coming as they do from one whom Hughan described as the premier Masonic historian, are interesting in themselves, and also may serve as the point of departure for a set of comments which it is now (a half century later) possible to make:
1. The remarks show that the veteran historian, with both his History and his Concise History behind him, and after eight years of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, was not yet sure in his own mind about the origin of Freemasonry ; for if Freemasonry came from Medieval chemists, mathematicians, astronomers, etc., it did not come from the cathedral building and other Freemasons.
2. Hermetism was not a vague, floating or "occult" tradition ; but derived from a book full of Greek materials on the sciences and entitled Hermes Trismegistus, copies and fragments of which came into Europe via Constantinople, Sicily, and Spain.
3. The physicians named by Gould had not been "occultiots"; they had been physicians and chemists; the 'alchemy" they studied was chemistry, and they studyed it for medical uses. The fact that they studied chemistry (along with botany, etc.) affords no ground for believing that they had any reason to be "the channel" for transmitting fragments of the Ancient Mysteries-in their day they had heard fragmentary reports of ancient mythologies, of old forms of secret knowledge and of mysteries in the sense of skilled or professional trades, but they had never heard of the Ancient Mystery Cults properly so called; even Mithraism wich had been the createst of the Mystery cults, had been wholly forgotten in the Middle Ages, and continued to be so until the Renaissance, and was not fully recovered until modern archeology unearthed the data.
4. Rosicrueianism was not " Medieval " It was a fantasy of the Zseventeenth Century. Freemasonry was fullblown long befor it was invented.
5. Documentary evidence, external evidence intemal evidence Craft traditions, The Old Charges and the kind of reasoning which historians use, combine into one body of evidence to show that Freemasonry had its origin among the Medieval Freemasons, who were builders or architects scarcely a one of which, as far as any reeords show (and the names of hundreds are known, and as far back as the the Twelfth Century) was ever an occultist or a mystic exept in some such pedestrian, commonplace sense as could be applied to the Church in the Middle Ages.
Hermetism, properly so called, connected with a book, a collection of writings, composed in Alexandria in Ptolemaic times, and containing many portions on Greek and Alexandrian science. (Almost everything Medieval men, even scholars, knew about Egypt came to them via Alexandria. The Crusaders, contrary to assumptions of some Masonic writers, were little in Egypt but were established in Palestine, Syria, Armenia, etc.) Kabbalism was a form of religious mysticism concocted by Jews in Spain; and Graetz, whose knowledge of Jewish history was encyclopedic, believes it was a reaction to the science and rationalism of Maimonides (a modern man astray in the Middle Ages.) Medieval astrology was a vague version, or balf memory, as if written on a palimpsest, of Ptolemy's astronomy; and that, as present-day astronomers now admit, if his "cycles theory" were deleted out of it, was very sound astronomy. It is admitted that the texts and nomenclature of Medieval materials on those subjects (Cornelius Agrippina wrote the most dreadful nonsense) were cryptic and queer; but for that there are several explanations the need for secrecy, the mixture of languages owing to the many living and dead languages of the sources used, the need to keep laymen from endangering themselves with drugs they could not understand (Norton's Ordinall mentions this), a general use of symbols in an illiterate age, etc. To throw Hermetism, alch emy, astrology, Kabbalism, and Rosicrucianism into one pot, to stir them up into an olla podrida, and then to call the mixture by the one misleading name of "hermetism" is not history but is obscurantism.
It certainly has nothing to do with Masonic history, because no Freemason ever built a catbedral, abbey, or priory from a recipe found in the Kabbala, nor was he in the practice of medicine.
ALL-SEEING EYE, THE.
On page 52 Dr.Mackey interpreted the All-Seeing Eye as a symbol of God's omniscience, and in doing so had at the time (about 1870) the support of the Masonic students of his generation. The soundness of tbat interpretation need not be questioned in the sense that it represents the logical goal toward which any other possible interpretation may be aimed ; but it is doubtful if it can be supported by Masonic history. Almost less is known about the symbol (and it is a symbol ! ) than any otber; it did not once come into the purview of the studies on which this Supplement is based, and if any researcher has found anywhere solid data on the origin of the symbol it must be hidden in a book of more than average obscurity. There are a number of considerations based on other known data wbich throw some sidelights on the question :
1. During the long formative period of the Ritual from about 1717 to about 1770 Lodges were small, convivial, worked while seated about their dining table; they were serious, reverent, and the great majority of Masons were members of a church, but they were neither theological nor mystical, and they instinctively shrank from anything which bordered too closely upon the province of the Church. It is a sound rule in the interpretation of the symbols on the Tracing Boards used by those Lodges not to begin by assuming a theological meaning, because as a rule they shrank from theology. In Freemasonry before 1717 they shrank from it even more. They were a Brotherhood, a Fraternity, carrying on the traditions of the building craft, and they never had any consciousness of standing in the tradition of religion. Solemnity, seriousness, symbolism, ritualism, these do not betoken theology becalise they belong to man by nature and are found everywhere. Though the All-Seeing Eye is one of the religious symbols, it does not follow that the early Speculative Masons used it as a religious symbol.
2. The All-Seeing Eye may have denoted the Divine omniscience. Also, it may have symbolized any one or more of some five or six other truths or ideas. It may have denoted the sun originally, as it came up at dawn - it had been thus used by Shakespeare and many other writers. It may have meant the Grand Master or the worshipful Master, and been a reminder of the fact that wherever a man is and in whatever he may be doing he continues to be a Mason, and the eye of the Craft is on him. It may have stood for enlightenment, wisdom, intelIigence ; and it may have been the Tracing Board representation of the Blazing Star in the Tessellated Pavement, in which case it was again the sun, or day-star, which shines on through day and night. (Note.-Until modern astronomy made a number of its difficult facts familiar to everybody the majority of men did not see any necessary connection between daylight and the sun, because the day begins before the sun appears, and remains after it has sunk.) There are many omnisciences in addition to those known to theology and metaphysics-the omniscience of the law, the omniscience of the Government which keeps its eye on every eitizen, etc. ; if the first Freemasens had a symbol for omniscience it does not follow that it was therefore the Divine Omniscience that was meant.
3. If their symbol signified the Divine Omniscience it does not follow that it would have had for them a depressing meaning, as if that Omniscience were for no other purpose than a final Judgment Day. Omniscience needs not search a man out in order to condemn him for sins he has tried to hide ; it may search him out to honor him for virtues he has tried to hide. The Sword Pointing at the Naked Heart is another emblem which need not have a depressing meaning; it should have, rather, a cheerful meaning, because when justice searches out every heart it means that men have security, live in civil order, and therefore can be happy. We could use the All-Seeing Eye as a symbol of the Divine Omniscience ; we could use it at the same time as a symbol for what ought to be the Fraternity's own omniscience (the word need not be defined so absolutely as many think it should) in the sense that it never loses sight of a man once that man has become a member, not even if he does not attend Lodge, or is confined at home by illness or accident, or has moved away.
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