Wednesday, April 29, 2009

‘Sons and brothers’

Alpha Lodge Worshipful Master David Lindez, right, discusses Johannite influences on Freemasonry as W. Bro. Yoel Lee, Master of Sons of Liberty Lodge No. 301, listens. The two lodges met together last Wednesday at Alpha.

It was a joint communication of two of New Jersey’s last urban lodges last Wednesday night in East Orange, when dozens of brethren of Sons of Liberty Lodge No. 301 visited Alpha Lodge No. 116. And it was a full house. The Tiler had to break out the Royal Arch aprons just to make sure everyone was able to enter the lodge!

WM Lindez almost always begins Alpha’s communications by thanking the brethren for taking time away from their families and vocations to be there, promising them intellectual and spiritual value in return for their precious time. This evening, the brethren were presented a stimulating talk on Johannite symbolism in Freemasonry. You know that lodges are dedicated to the Holy Saints John, and that the Feast Days of St. John the Baptist (June 24) and St. John the Evangelist (December 27) were adopted for special occasions by the fraternity, but there isn’t a definitive reason why these are so.

For background, the Master told us about the Johannite tradition, a Gnostic movement that reveres St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. One such group, called the Mandaeans, is known here as a “distant cousin” of the three major Abrahamic faiths. Followers speak Aramaic, the language spoken in the Holy Land in the time of Christ, and consider Adam their prophet while also revering John the Baptist. Indigenous to the Near East, the Mandaeans mostly have been displaced by the war in Iraq. Tens of thousands of the faithful have been relocated, many brought to the United States.

Elements of Johannite Gnosticism found in Freemasonry include the alchemical aspects of Scottish Rite rituals, as in the EA° we see at Garibaldi Lodge, and Kabbalah symbols employed in Scottish Masonry.

“In the far past of Christianity there were Johannite sects, but their residue at this day communicates little or nothing to seekers after spiritual life,” writes A.E. Waite in his “A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry.” “We have only to note therefore in the present connection the persistence with which Blue Masonry is dedicated to the Baptist and Evangelist in Scotland: It remains under their aegis to this day, as a sacred commemoration of that time when Operative Masonry lived and moved and had its being in the light of Christ. Of dedications to Moses and Solomon, Masonic Scotland knows as little as of the drift and scattermeal of liberal theology, or of a theistic Duke of Sussex. In addition to the two Saints John, Scotland maintains from year to year with solemn observance the sacred Festival of St. Thomas, especially in the Sanctuary of Mother Kilwinning.”

Coming up at historic Alpha Lodge on May 27 is the presentation of speculative papers by newly raised Master Masons:

“Archetypical Influences and the Molecular Impact of Sacred/Secret Words in Masonry” by Bro. Mardoche Sidor;

“The Pillars of Masonry” by Bro. Michael Terry; and

“Reactions to Music in Freemasonry” by Bro. Nathaniel Gibson.

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