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.
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
Z&F: tradition and innovation
As 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.
I saved this post on my recent London trip to the last, hoping that I would be able to put into words the experience of joining S.R.I.A. But I can’t – well, some of it maybe, but I also think that the experience is too important to try and simplify for a 100 word blog post. The road just opened up ahead of me in a way I hadn’t dreamed. And strangely, that was unexpected. I believe I grasped beforehand, what this Rosicrucian society was about, and I already felt, coming from Swedish Rite, that I had had true mystic experiences. But something here just clicked. I’ll do the reading, but it is processing the emotional and spiritual aspects that I am really looking forward to.
Let’s just say that it was everything I had hoped for and more. My name goes into the Golden Book with some incredible Fratres – it is quite an honour.
At the museum in Freemasons Hall there is an ongoing exhibition about women’s freemasonry in England to mark the centenary of the first lady freemasons in England. I find the subject very interesting, and we have two women-only lodges in Denmark. Their French origins seem to me more ‘feminine’ than the two English organisations (HFAF and OWF) that have stayed very close to UGLE’s way of doing things; and by that I don’t mean that freemasonry is based on gender, but it seems to me that the Danish women freemasons bring their female character more into their way of doing things. But of course it’s difficult for me to say, from the outside looking in.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t really much to see. Some letters, charters, personal effects and a couple of photos. The stuff that was there was fine, but not very inviting, and I think the background and history could have been presented better. Overall a little bit disappointing.
This is the first of three posts on my recent trip to London.
We were four Danes coming over to join S.R.I.A. The weather was great, and the climate is much milder than in Denmark, so we had two wonderful days. Of course, our hosts made the trip even better (not to mention the ritual side of things). We made four distinct stops:
We first stopped by Mark Masons Hall in St. James Street. This is the headquarter of Mark masonry in the UK, as well as half a dozen other different side orders, such as Mark Mariner and Knight Templar Priest. The hall had 8 or so lodge rooms, all quite intimate by our standards; very nice. The really nice thing was the cozy bar, where we hooked up with our host, forum regular ‘Middlepillar’.
Next stop was the temple of the Supreme Council 33° Ancient and Accepted rite (or Rose Croix, as they say) in England, just around the corner. This was where we joined our College, so we didn’t really tour the facility (I believe there are three lodge rooms there), but the large temple, in which we met, was very beautiful, with colourful coats of arm on the walls and a gothic atmosphere. I look forward to going back and perhaps seeing some more of the building.
The day after, we did the obligatory tour of Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street, the headquarters of UGLE, the ruling body of Craft masonry and Chapter in England. The museum remains awesome, and even though it was the same brief tour as the last time I was here, the guide added new details, and the grand temple seemed even more magnificant the second time around.
Finally, we stopped by S.R.I.A.’s ‘headquarters’ in Hampstead. It’s really just one quite small room, stacked with books, including many rarities and antiques, and many donated by A. E. Waite. Still, the placed oozed history, and Hampstead is a lovely neighborhood.
And then it was back to the airport. An intense stay, with much to digest while stile managing to be comfortable enough that I consider it a small vacation. It was certainly invigorating.
Pictures: first, the obligatory self-photograph, at Leinster Square where we stayed. The other pictures are taken by a fellow traveller: a lewis at Mark Masons Hall, the bronze doors to the grand temple in Freemasons Hall and an antique book at Stanfield Hall in Hampstead.
Yesterday I visited an exhibition at the town museum here in Århus. It is a joint venture with the local freemasons, marking the centennial of the local lodge of St. Andrew, Four Roses. The exhibition is called A Night at the Lodge, and that is how it is set up: First, you come to the anteroom. There is classical music playing, and mannequins are dressed up in tails and wearing regalia of the ten degrees in the Swedish Rite. Next is the lodgeroom (as pictured, I used my mobile phone, but it turned out well enough). This is typical Swedish Rite: the use of light, yellowish stone or beige, with blue and gold and candles; as well as the position of the officers (Master under the canopy, both Wardens in the West); the three pillars are missing, but it does have the star ceiling. Finally, there is a table for the “fraternal feast”, which always follows the meeting. There is also posters offering some background information and a number of antique objects.
This is the right way to do a public exhibition on freemasonry, in my opinion. Primarily, it is based on fact and well-researched. It doesn’t try to delve into the mysteries that could only be dumbed down or misunderstood, and it avoids the clichés and myths. Secondly, it is open enough about what we do that it doesn’t patronise the visitors, and really invites them into our world. It is based, not so much on the historical background that we like to talk about ourselves, but rather on a visual experience, something anyone can relate to. The objects chosen are beautiful, and just the right amount (numbering approximately 50, all objects of beauty, significance and antiquity).
A very satisfying result. Well done.