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.

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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.

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.

Re-evaluating the itinerary

218899_1804At the end of 2008 I was looking forward to returning to Copenhagen, following my travels abroad, and setting to work in my motherlodge, as well as possibly joining a lodge of St. Andrew, beginning the higher degrees of the Swedish system. Things didn’t quite pan out as planned; which is what can happen when you set out on any journey: I made it to where I wanted to be, but “I” had changed, to a point where arriving to this threshold of what should have been the next step felt … slightly awkward, not quite right … disappointing, perhaps.

At the same time, I was confronted with the simple fact that not everyone wants, what I want, from freemasonry. And I can rail however much I want, that “They don’t get it!” but at the end of the day, I can’t decide what anyone else takes from it. I have to stay focused on my own goals, and the first step is defining what they are, and then how to work on achieving them. For me it boils down to freemasonry as a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement through spiritual and symbolic Work, within and without. It then becomes clear that I cannot simply sit on the sidelines and wait for the world to turn in my favour, that I need to get involved, and not just in an administrative capacity, but also through holding an office, participating in education and offering my thoughts through lectures.

But I did feel lost for a few days, wondering if freemasonry was the right path for me, and how to rectify the situation without hurting anyone needlessly, and at the same time staying true to myself.

866188_50028248I have now taken steps to remedy the situation and realign my personal goals with reality, so to speak. First of all, I have withdrawn my letter of passage from CFS, opting instead for a much smaller and younger lodge of St. Andrew, CCV (Cubus Causa Vera). This gives me the opportunity to join the active ranks much sooner than in the larger and older (more settled) lodge, and I will be involved in editing the quarterly publication, for which we have high ambitions . More on this in a future post. Secondly, I have demitted from my motherlodge to join St. John’s Lodge Z&F (Zorobabel and Frederick to the Crowned Hope). This decision is based on pull, rather than push: I have lost none of my love for the lodge that initiated me, but the fact remains that I have bonded closer with a number of brethren of Z&F, and I can only apply myself to (and serve as an officer in) one lodge, so it had to be done.

I have also passed on the responsibility of the weekly Odin newsletter, which I am very happy about: it frees up time, but more importantly the whole idea behind Odin is activating new brothers, and I no longer qualify for that moniker; although I will remain active in Odin, where ever I can help. I also stepped down as Admin of a Facebook-group, and signed out of a number of online forums. A bit of spring cleaning – I’ll get involved in new projects soon enough.

So, following a very brief “crisis”, I have emerged re-envigorated and positive about my freemasonry once more. And I a week or two, when all the details are in place, I’ll return to Work.

Photo: from stock.xchng; by LotusHead and andrewatla.

Waiting for St. Andrew

l13Just a “half-way” report …

Nine months after having advanced to the Third degree, I was given a “letter of passage”, which allowed me to approach a Lodge of St. Andrew (the next step in the Swedish Rite, see this post), and I decided on “CFS”: Cubus Fredericus Septimi, Orient Copenhagen. It is the oldest St. Andrew’s lodge in Denmark, named for the monarch, Frederick VII, who introduced the Swedish Rite here. It is also the largest in Copenhagen, and the one with the most applicants, so I am still waiting for a date, even though I was confirmed for advancement more than a year ago; the earliest possible date is now fall of 2009, two and a half year after my Third.

I think the wait between degrees is a good thing, but I have to admit, I am itching by now. The third degree was very enlightening, and I could happily spend another couple of years here. But since we don’t have a system of progression through chairs, the only way to move on is to move “up” (through the degrees). It is definitely one of my big hopes for the Masonic year of 2009, but it could come as late as 2010. I will just have to find other paths to explore until then and exercise patience.

Picture: The emblem of CFS.

The degrees of Swedish Rite

I just want to very briefly go over the degrees of the Swedish Rite. without touching on the contens. This is the same list that can be found on the official website of the Danish Order of Freemasons, with a few changes and added notes. Go to my Swedish Rite page to find pictures of regalia. Each ‘tier’ is its own entity, so a VII degree brother will be a member of three different lodges; but the rite is progressive, and the degrees are connected like pearls on a string.

Lodge of St. John. This encompasses the first three degrees and is similar to Craft masonry, although the ritual differs. The Master of the Lodge must be of the IX degree, and the officers at least VII.

  • I – Diligent Apprentice of St. John
  • II – Zealous Companion of St. John
  • III – Worthy Master of St. John

Lodge of St. Andrew: Another three (‘Scottish’) degrees. The Master of the St. Andrew’s lodge must be of X degree. The VI degree, Master of St. Andrew, compares with the same degree in Rectified Scottish Rite, and it also makes possible intervisitiation with Rose Croix (Scottish Rite 18°) and Holy Royal Arch.

  • IV-V – Very Worthy Apprentice-Companion of St. Andrew
  • VI – Illustrious Master of St. Andrew

Chapter (or rather: Priory): Originally, the first two degrees of Chapter were called a Steward’s Lodge, but no more. VIII is similar to the Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte, and it also allows intervisitiation with Scottish Rite 32°.

  • VII – Very Illustrious Steward Brother
  • VIII – Most Illustrious Confidential Brother of Solomon
  • IX – Illuminated Confidential Brother of St. John’s Lodge
  • X – Very Illuminated Confidential Brother of St. Andrew’s Lodge, Knight of the Purple Sash

And in addition (the degree number is never used for these):

  • (XI or ‘R&K’) – Most Illuminated Knight and Commander of the Red Cross
  • (XII) – Most Wise, the Sovereign Grand Master of the Order

Notes
I use the word Companion rather than Fellowcraft, and you will find the same in works about the rite, as well as texts on Strict Observance.
I have chosen Illuminated rather than the proposed Enlightened.
For VII and VIII I have translated the Danish titles rather than use Knight of East and West.
The website says Knight Commander, which is a mistake – I have added the missing ‘and‘.
I have added the Grand Master to the list.