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An old expression for the ceremony of ascertaining the Masonic right to be present when a Lodge is opened (see also Fencing the Lodge).
As the Aspirant in the Ancient Mysteries was not permitted to pass through any of the forms of initiation, or to enter the sacred vestibule of the Temple, until, by water or fire, he had been symbolically purified from the corruptions of the world which he was about to leave behind, so in Freemasonry there is in the First Degree a symbolical purification by the presentation to the candidate of the common gavel, an implement whose emblematic use teaches a purification -of the heart (see Lustration).
In the Ancient Mysteries purity of heart and life was an essential prerequisite to initiation, because by initiation the aspirant was brought to a knowledge of God, to know whom was not permitted to the impure. For, says Origen (Against Celsus vi), "a defiled heart cannot see God, but he must be pure who desires to obtain a proper view of a pure Being." In the same spirit the Divine Master says: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." But "to see God" is a Hebraism, signifying to possess Him, to be spiritually in communion with Him, to know His true character. Now to acquire this knowledge of God, symbolized by the knowledge of His Name, is the great object of Masonic, as it was of all ancient initiation; and hence the candidate in Freemasonry is required to be pure, for "he only can stand in the holy place who hath clean hands and a pure heart" (see White).
An association of Arabic philosophers, founded at Bosra, in Syria, in the tenth century. Many of their writings, which were much studied by the Jews of Spain in the twelfth century, were very mystical. Steinschneider (Jewish Literature, 174, 295) calls them the Freemasons of Bosra, and says that they were "a celebrated Society of a kind of Freemasons."
Purple is the appropriate color of those Degrees which, in the American Rite, have been interpolated between the Royal Arch and Ancient Craft Masonry, namely, the Mark, Past, and Most Excellent Masters.
It is in Freemasonry a symbol of fraternal union, because, being compounded of blue, the color of the Ancient Craft, and red, which is that of the Royal Arch, it is intended to signify the close connection and harmony which should ever exist between those two portions of the Masonic system. It may be observed that this allusion to the union and harmony between blue and red Masonry is singularly carried out in the Hebrew word which signifies purple.
This word, which is argamun, is derived from ragam or rehem, one of whose significations is "a friend." But Portal (Comparison of Egyptian Symbols with Those of the Hebrews) says that purple, in the profane language of colors, signifies constancy in spiritual combats, because blue denotes fidelity, and red, war.
In the religious services of the Jews we find purple employed on various occasions. It was one of the colors of the curtains of the Tabernacle, where, Josephus says, it was symbolic of the element of water, of the veils, and of the curtain over the great entrance; it was also used in the construction of the ephod and girdle of the Heigh Priest, and the cloths for Divine Service. Among the Gentile nations of antiquity purple was considered rather as a color of dignity than of veneration, and was deemed an emblem of exalted office Hence Homer mentions it as peculiarly appropriated to royalty, and Vergil speaks of purpura regum, or the purple of Kings. Pliny says it was the color of the vestments worn by the early kings of Rome; and it has ever since, even to the present time, been con ridered as the becoming insignia of regal or supreme authority.

In American Freemasonry, the purple color seerns to be confined to the intermediate Degrees between the Master and the Royal Arch, except that it is sometimes employed in the vestments of officers representing either kings or men of eminent authority —such, for instance, as the Scribe in a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.
In the Grand Lodge of England, Grated Officers and Provincial Grand Officers wear purple collars anal aprons. As the symbolic color of the Past Master's Degree, to which all Grand Officers should have attained, it is also considered in the United States as the appropriate color for the collars of officers of a Grand Lodge.
In English Freemasonry, the Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge and the Past Grand and Deputy Grand Masters and Past and Present Provincial Grand Masters are called purple brethren, because of the color of their decorations, and at meetings of the Grand Lodge are privileged to sit on the dais.
Grand and Provincial Grand Lodges are thus designated by Doctor Oliver in his Institutes of Masonic Jurisprudence. The term is not used in the United States.
A society of Sussu negroes exercising similar powers to, and for a somewhat similar purpose as, the Vehmgerichte. The Vehmgerichte were Tribunals once flourishing in Germany, and particularly in Westphalia, during the Middle Ages. Their privileges were curtailed in the sixteenth century and the institution came to an end about 1811. These were courts receiving from the Emperor power over life and death. Their proceedings were in the hands of a society to which freemen were eligible and their jurisdiction was administered much as in an ordinary court. There was a process of initiation, with secret signs and pass-words suggestive of Freemasonry and a certain Degree in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite utilizes a court proceeding of this kind very effectively. The Vehmgerichte had a secret system of investigation and its methods were of an autocratic character.
The third and lowest order of heraldic officers. In Freemasomy the lowest officer in rank except the Tiler, if he may be termed an officer.
A hero of the American Revolutionary War. Born at Salem. Massachusetts, January 7, 1718; died May 29, 1790. A member of Hiram Lodge No. 1, New Haven, Connecticut, according to the New Age, January, 1924, but his name is not listed among the members of that Lodge (see Niram Lodge No. 1, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, 175S1916). It has also been stated that he was Raised in a Military Lodge at Crown Point while in the British Army (Masonry in the Formation of Our Government, Philip A. Roth, 1927. pages 354).
Brother McClenachan records the following anecdote: "In 1758 Putnam was captured by the Indians near Crown Point. While he was being tied to an oak tree to be burned, Putnam, as a last resort, gave the Masonie sign of distress, which was observed by a French officer named Molang, who immediately, at his own risk, ordered Putnam released- This tree was called Putnam's Oak, and grew near Putts Creek, Indian Ridge" (History of Freemasonry New York, C. T. McClenachan, page oo4; see further mention of him in History of Freemasonry in the StaIe of New York, Ossian Lang, 1922, page 52).
A general in the American Revolutionary War. Born at Sutton, Massachusetts, April 9, 1738; died May 1, 1824, at Marietta, Ohio (see New Age, April, 1925). Raised a Freemason in American Union Lodge No. 3, at Philadelphia April 13, 1779. When the Grand Lodge of Ohio was organized in 1808 he was unanimously chosen Grand Master, although by that time he deemed himself too aged for active service and felt forced to decline.
A distinguished French Freemason of the latter part of the eighteenth and beginning of the last century, who died at Paris in September, 1821. He was the author of many Masonic discourses, but his most important work was a profound and exhaustive History of the Organization of the Ancient and Accepted Rite in France, published in 1814. He was one of the founders of the Grand Orient, and having received the Thirty-third Degree from the Count de Grasse Tilly, he afterward assisted in the organization of the Supreme Council of Italy, at Milan, and the Supreme Council of France.
In 1805, his name was struck from the register of the Grand Orient in consequence of his opposition to that Body, but he remained the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council until his death. Ragon ealls him an intriguer and bold innovator, but Thory speaks more highly of his Masonic character. He was undoubtedly a man of talent, learning, and Masonic research. He made a manuscript collection of many curious Degrees, which Thory has liberally used in his Nomenclature of Rites and Degrees.
One of the most celebrated of the Grecian philosophers, and the founder of what has been called the Italic School, was born at Samos in the period of 586-69 B.C., the year 582 being favored as the probable one of his birth. Educated as an athlete, he subsequently abandoned that profession and devoted himself to the study of philosophy. He traveled through Egypt, Chaldea, and Asia Minor, and is said to have submitted to the initiations in those countries for the purpose of acquiring knowledge.
On his return to Europe, he established his celebrated school at Crotona, a Dorian Colony in the south of Italy, about 529 B.C., much resembling that subsequently adopted by the Freemasons.
His school soon acquired such a reputation that disciples flocked to him from all parts of Greece and Italy. Pythagoras taught as the principal dogma of his philosophy the system of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls. He taught the mystical power of numbers, and much of the symbolism on that subject which we now possseis is derived from what has been left to us by his disciples, for of his o vn writings there is nothing extant. He was also a geometrician, and is regarded as having been the inventor of several problems, the most important of which is that now known as the forty-seventh problem of Euclid. He was also a proficient in music, and is said to have demonstrated the mathematical relations of musical intervals, and to have invented a number of musical instruments.
Disdaining the vanity and dogmatism of the ancient sages, he contented himself with proclaiming that he was simply a seeker after knowledge, not its possessor, and to him is attributed the introduction of the word philosopher, or lover of wisdom, as the only title which he would assume. After the lawless destruction of his school at Crotona, he fled to the Locrians, who refused to receive him, when he repaired to Metapontum, and sought an asylum from his enemies in the temple of the Muses, where tradition says that he died of starvation at near the end of the sixth or the beginning of the fifth century. Some claim the date to be 506 B.C., when he was about seventy-six years old.
The schools established by Pythagoras at Crotona and other cities, have been considered by many writers as the models after which Masonic Lodges were subsequently constructed. They undoubtedly served the Christian ascetics of the first century as a pattern for their monastic institutions, with which institutions the Freemasonry of the Middle Ages, in its operative character, was intimately connected. A brief description of the school of Crotona will not therefore be inappropriate.
The disciples of this school wore the simplest kind of clothing, and having on their entrance surrendered all their property to the common fund. they then submitted for three years to voluntary poverty, during which time they were also compelled to a rigorous silence. The doctrines of Pythagoras were always delivered as infallible propositions which admitted of no argument, and hence the Greek expression he said it, was considered as a sufficient answer to anyone who demanded a reason. Aristotle, by the way, in his accounts of Pythagorean doctrines, refers with what appears to be a studied and cautious vagueness to the Pythagoreans, not to Pythagoras. The teaching was probably, according to recent investigation, as a rule credited to the founder.

The scholars were divided into Esoterics and Exsoterics. This distinction was borrowed by Pythagoras from the Egyptian priests, who practised a similar mode of instruction. The exoteric scholars were those who attended the public assemblies, where general ethical instructions were delivered by the sage. But only the esoterics constituted the true school, and these alone Pythagoras called, says Jamblichus, his companions and friends. Before admission to the privileges of this school, the previous life and character of the candidate were rigidly scrutinized, and in the preparatory initiation secrecy was enjoined by an oath, and he was made to submit to the severest trials of his fortitude and self-command. He who after his admission was alarmed at the obstacles he had to encounter, was permitted to return to the world, and the disciples, considering him as dead, performed his funeral obsequies, and erected a monument to his memory.

The mode of living in the school of Crotona was like that of the modern Communists. The Brethren, about six hundred in number, with their wives and children, resided in one large building. Every morning the business and duties of the day were arranged, and at night an account was rendered of the day's transactions. They arose before day to pay their devotions to the sun, and recited verses from Homer, Hesiod, or some other poet. Several hours were spent in study, after which there was an interval before dinner, which was occupied in walking and in gymnastic exercises.
The meals consisted principally of bread, honey, and water, for though the table was often covered with delicacies, no one was permitted to partake of them. It was in this secret school that Pythagoras gave his instructions on his interior doctrine, and explained the hidden meaning of his symbols. There were three Degrees: the first or Mathematici, being engaged in the study of the exact sciences; and the second, or Theoretici, in the knowledge of God and the future state of man; but the third, or highest Degree, was communicated only to a few whose intellects were capable of grasping the full fruition of the Pythagorean philosophy.

This school, after existing for thirty years, was finally dissolved through the machinations of Sylo, a wealthy inhabitant of Crotona, who, having been refused admission, in revenge excited the citizens against it, when a lawless mob attacked the scholars while assembled in the house of Milo, set fire to the building and dispersed the disciples, forty of them being burned to death. The school was never resumed, but after the death of the philosopher, summaries of his doctrines were made by some of his disciples. Still many of his symbols and his esoteric teachings have to this day remained uninterpreted and unexplained.

After this account of the Pythagorean school, the Freemason will find no difficulty in understanding that part of the so called Lowland Manuscript which is said to have so much puzzled the great metaphysician John Locke. This manuscript—the question of its authenticity is not here entered upon—has the following inter esting paragraphs:

How comede ytt—Fremasonryn Engellonde?
Peter Gower, a Grecian, journeyeded for kunnynge ye Egypte and in Syria, and yn everyche londe whereat the Venetians hadde plauntedde Maconrye, and wynnynge entraunce yn al Lodges of Maconnes, he lerned muche and retournedde and worked yn Grecia Magna wachsynge and becommynge a myghtye wysacre and gratelyche renowned, and here he framed a grate Lodge at Groton, and maked many Maconnes, some whereoffe dyd journeye yn Fraunce, and maked manye Maconnes wherefromme, yn process of tyme, the arte passed yn Engelonde.

Locke confesses that he was at firstt puzzled with those strange names, Peter Gower, Groton, and the Venetians; but a little thinking taught him that they were only corruptions of Pythagoras, Crotona, and the Phenicians. It is not singular that the old Free nasons should have called Pythagoras their "ancient friend and Brother," and should have dedicated to him one of their geometrical symbols, the forty-seventh problem of Euclid; an epithet and a custom that have, by the force of habit, been retained in all the modern instructions of the Craft.
Recent conclusions ascribe to Pythagoras and his followers equal esteem to that accorded them by the old Freemasons. In their mathematical work the leading characteristic was a combination of arithmetic and geometry. The studies containing the germ of algebra were developed in the Pythagorean School into a true scientific method in its theory of proportion and in fact Pythagoras has been not only credited with a method common in value to all branches of mathematics but to be Dersonally comparable himself with Descartes who decisively combined geometry and algebra

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Last modified: March 22, 2014