History of Scandinavian freemasonry

World Exemplification of Freemaosnry is an initiative by the Grand Lodge of Indiana. It presents a series of online video lectures on a masonic topic, approximately one per week in 2011. In this one Andreas Önnerfors, scholar and member of the Swedish Order of Freemasonry, talks about the history of freemasonry in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden and Denmark:

The Evolution of Scandinavian Freemasonry from WEOFM on Vimeo.


Swedish Rite aprons

The Charles D. Visscher Museum of Masonic Culture has offered pictures from their collections on Facebook, including Norwegian Regalia. These are very similar to the ones used in Denmark. The museum is located physically in New Jersey.

Regarding a letter in The Square

The Square (‘the independent magazine for freemasons‘) brings a letter questioning whether UGLE should recognise those Grand Lodges practicing Swedish Rite who according to this letter, ‘discriminate on the grounds of religion’. I have already said my final piece on this accusation (Swedish Rite … or Wrong?), but the letter (or rather its anonymous writer) gets an important fact wrong, so I need to address that:

I have attempted to find out more about this matter at Grand Lodge but all I have been told is that there exists a second Grand Lodge in Denmark – which I believe – practices the Emulation ritual translated into Danish. (I was actually already aware of this as some of their Grand Officers and members attended a lodge – for which I have a connection – at Freemason’s Hall a few years ago, so I saw them). This begs the question as to why we recognise two Grand Lodges in one country – but that is another matter.

(I believe the parenthesis is a comment from editor Mike Porter.)

First of all, UGLE actually recognises two or more Grand Lodges in several countries, and for good reason, but as the writer says, that is another matter.

More imporantly, it is not the case in Denmark. The situation is that The Danish Order of Freemasons (practising Swedish Rite, with around 8,000 members) is the Grand Lodge of Denmark. Within this organisation is The Ancient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Denmark (some 1,300 members); they entered a concord with the Order which gave them recognition and semi-autonomy (comparable to a Provincial Grand Lodge); but they accept the authority of the Sovereign Grand Master of the Order, and recognition can not be extended to them as an individual organisation. Many members of the Fraternity join the Order to take the higher degrees (IV-X) of that system.

Also, I have also been told that what they work is Emulation, but it clearly isn’t, nor do they name it so (I believe it’s called ‘Ritual for The Ancient Fraternity of F&AM’ or something like that) – it is a mistake that has crept in somewhere. (Unfortunately their website is being updated, but they used to have quite a bit of information in English, so I shall update this post once it’s back online.)

EDIT: corrected the member numbers with the latest edition of the yearbook.

We are the pulp villains!

Ah, once again Freemasons take the role of nefarious villains, what with our devious rituals and shadowy society. Yes, yes. This time around it is a pretty big production of Sherlock Holmes by Guy Ritchie, with the titular character played by Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law as Doctor Watson. The pacing is little different from what you may remember, and I am certain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will be spinning in his grave, but I am a fan of Downey, and it could be good fun.

The attached images are from the first trailer. First is the obligatory, campy satanic ritual. Next one you see what appears to be the same person, who was blindfolded earlier, now standing – this is shot on location in Freemasons Hall, London. Last one I think is from one of the lodge rooms, but I am not 100% certain. No mention of freemasons, though, so these guys may just be your archetypical, run-of-the-mill secret society, we’ll see.

Pictures: From the movie, © Warner Bros 2009

My St. John’s Lodge

Z&F: tradition and innovation

lsupnedAs mentioned earlier I had decided to join a new St. John’s (Craft) Lodge. Well, I have now officially affiliated to St. John’s Lodge Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope (Z&F for short). It is the oldest Nordic lodge, hailing from 1745. But it doesn’t rest on its laurels: In recent years a lot of work has been but into a “welfare project” aiming to activate members, and particularly the newcomers (Z&F have approximately 10 new members every year). To mention a few: The lodge publication (which is highly prioritized and very professional looking) has a staff of editors made up of younger brethren; the newly made Masters of the lodge manage the education of the Apprentices and Companions (and are themselves educated in a “Master Class” by moe experienced teachers); in the fall Z&F will present a reenactment of the Rectified Rite as it was performed in 1807, in full costume – this is a huge project that involves fund raising, costumes, video documentation, historical and ritual  research, etc. It is also policy to give those interested a chance to try out an office (as an “assisting officer”) – this is important in a system (such as Swedish Rite) that doesn’t have progression through chairs. In fact, the evening of my affiliation also happened to be election night for offices, and I was confirmed as assisting Junior Warden (more on this later, but I have already touched on this office earlier (see Taking a chair – unfortunately, it didn’t happen at the time).

All this is very nice, but I also feel that I should emphasize that the main reason for moving (which is not something that I or anyone would do lightly) is a matter of following my heart: When I joined, I didn’t know anyone in the Order, and it has simply transpired that I have come to make the majority of my friends in Z&F. So there are no hard feeling towards my old lodge, and in fact I am still active in tying the chain of friendship between the two (see Odin).

Picture: The crest of Z&F with the motto: Ex Uno Omnia.

My St. Andrew’s Lodge

CCV: a young and progressive lodge

I now have an official date for my advancement into the Lodge of St. Andrew, the second “tier” of the Swedish Rite. I will join Cubus Causa Vera (CCV) on October 9, 2009

ccvnyt60dummyCCV was born in 1989, so quite young. It is also the smallest of Denmark’s lodges of St. Andrew. These two factors are part of why I chose this lodge: I know that the lodge’s leadership is willing to think outside of the box, and there is room to get involved in offices, education and more, should I wish. My first responsibilty, one I have already signed up for, is editing the revamped publication; we are quite ambitious about this, and have a professional layouter on board, as well as advertising, which allows for buying picture rights and full colour printing. Other than that I look forward to experiencing these new degrees, which are supposed to be extremely thought-provoking.

ccvmc3a6rke(I will try to write a few lines about our Lodge of St. Andrew, but I have to weigh my words carefully, so as not to reveal too much. For now it will suffice that these degrees share themes with Mark, Royal  Arch, Cryptic, and possibly a few others.)

I mentioned in a recent post that I had had a small “crisis” over my freemasonry, and another reason for choosing CCV, is that it is quite open about esoteric work, and works hard to educate its brethern. It is also a lodge that has a high percentage of active brethren; in my experience a benefit of being a smaller lodge.

I will also look forward to having a handful of Welsh/English brethren over, who were also at my Initiation and Third. Their presence have been a great boon, and to me a symbol of the strength of our ideas and bonds.

Picture: Dummy cover for the new publication, and the jewel of CCV.

Secrets of the Quest

I write this blog under some self-imposed restrictions. They serve to preserve personal integrity, protect the sanctity of my obligations and not involve other people, who may prefer to stay out of the virtual lime-light. But by their very nature, they also limit some of the stories that I would have liked to tell. That’s the balance, the name of the game. When I decided to keep Grail Quest alive, one of the cons were definitely that it is hard to get to the heart of my thinking, because there are so many things I cannot delve into. On the other hand, I realise that I have this need to express myself, and putting things into writing (that is read by others) serves to clarify things for myself and clear my mind, cathartically, perhaps.

My masonic story (and opinions) is one area that has been the most severely restricted. Swedish Rite has largely remained a mystery outside of its area of practise, and as I have said time and again, I am not about be the one who sells out the secrets just to make myself interesting. Everything that I post here is therefore available from elsewhere (as the links prove), or is something that has been explained by the official spokespersons for the Order. I’ll keep looking for snippets that may be of interest, but don’t expect an exposé.

Another difficult area is how my spiritual and philosophical worldview evolves, and that’s the really at the heart of this blog. At the same time, this is where I also want to show some restraint; the Internet is cool, and I like its collaborative nature, but this is personal, there are real Secrets here – things that are for the individual Seeker to find, and things that are Secret in the sense that they cannot be transmitted.

So, at the of the day, I’ll continue this dance, trying to find a rythm, careful not to step on any toes, while still trying to express myself.

Btw., I know that the last couple of entries have been a little bit introspective and self-centred; over the following weeks I’ll get back to business.


Picture: ‘The Achievement of the Grail’ (1891-’94) tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones (from Wikepedia)