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 First of all, I have withdrawn my letter of passage from CFS, opting instead for a much smaller and younger lodge of St. Andrew, CCV (Cubus Causa Vera).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.

Spring revival

When I started this blog, I originally envisioned it as a chronicling of my trip to San Francisco, Dublin and Boston, plus as a place to park articles describing the journey leading to my becoming a mason, and that was it. But it has refused to die, and there have been irregular postings on tarot, Swedish Rite and a few other subjects. So, following a period of regression and afterthought, I have decided to keep the blog running, but broadening the subject slightly. Or rather, it will be pretty much the same, but I’ll be deliberately straying from the topic as originally given.

So, I’ll start posting again, and we’ll see where it all leads.

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Photo: private. Good Friday in Boston, MA, 2008.

Gathering information

Freemason Information has been online for a few years now, but it has now expanded to include a number of prolific and thoughtful bloggers, such as Aude Vide Tace, Beehive, Masonic Traveler and more. It offers information of generel Masonic interest, reviews, the Masonic Central podcast and more. Plus it features a very nice design, which is refreshing when everything else is Blogger og *h-hm* WordPress.

I will also take this opportunity to plug King Solomon’s Blog, which lists a huge number of Masonic blogs in a variety of languages. This site has helped me keep up-to-date on the Masonic blogosphere, and I can only recommend it if you’re a Masonic blogger: get in there.

Nice to see a lot of activity from the community of Masonic bloggers made readily available, now that I have been keeping a low profile for a while myself (but I am looking to return to active duty in the near future).

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.

Numbers

h20453scandinaviasansonThe Swedish Rite is practised in only a handful of small nations, known as the Nordic Countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland; as well as Northern Germany in a variant known as Zinnendorf’s Rite. (In addition to these there are a few local lodges in Spain, Togo and elsewhere.) Here are the basic statistics (population (pop.) as per 2007/’08; freemasonry (FM) since; SwR is Swedish Rite; GL is Grand Lodge):

  • Sweden: pop. 9.2 mil; FM since 1735; 15,000 SwR freemasons (incl. Finland)
    Sweden only has one Le Droit Humain lodge as an alternative to the SwR.
  • Denmark: pop. 5.5 mil; FM since 1743 (SwR GL since 1858); 8,000 SwR freemasons + 1,500 other
    Denmark has the most diversity in masonic organisations and ritual; 1,275 of ‘other’ are Craft-masons under the SwR GL, the rest belonging to a number of different unrecognised orders and independent Craft-lodges.
  • Norway: pop. 4.8 mil; FM since 1749; 19,500 SwR freemasons
    Norway has a handful of lodges of German origin under GL-authority, as well as two Le Droit Humain lodges. It is the GL that has experienced the biggest growth, but all have seen a positive trend.
  • Iceland: pop. 320,000; FM since 1913; 3,400 SwR freemasons
  • Finland: pop. 5.3 mil;  FM since 1758; 1.200 SwR freemasons + 6,100 other
    The SwR Grand Chapter of Finland is organised as a Provincial GL under the Swedish Order (Swedish is one of the languages spoken in Finland). The GL of Finland (the majority of freemasons) works Craft.
  • Germany: pop. 82 mil; FM since 1737 (first charter: 1729; SwR GL since 1770); 3,500 SwR freemasons + 9,500 other
    Grosse Landesloge der Freimaurer von Deutchland is one of five unified GLs.

For a total of some 50.000 regular Swedish Rite freemasons, the vast majority of this region, and these years the system is building in strength. Edit, January 12: At the New Year’s Celebration in Copenhagen the Norwegian Grand Master set the number at 55,000.

Notes: Numbers from Wikipedia, Grand Lodge websites and foreign brethren (thank you).

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.

Craft in Sweden

Denmark already has several organisations – some regular and others not so much – working Craft (Blue) freemasonry, and now it seems that the groundwork is being made in Sweden to offer an alternative to the Christian-only Swedish Order of Freemasons. (There is already one co-masonic lodge under Le Droit Humain (website in Swedish) in Stockholm, with plans to open another one in Gothenburg.)

From the website of ‘Humanitära Sällskapet Den Räta Vinkeln’:

The Humanitära Sällskapet Den Räta Vinkeln (English; the Humanitarian Society The Right Angle) is a society on Masonic foundation with the goal to re-establish in Sweden Craft lodges, Mark lodges, Chapters et cetera  that works according to traditional Masonic customs, which are neutral on Religious matters. This will be realised mainly by reviving the now resting lodges of Svenska Frimurare Lägret (English; the Swedish Masonic Camp).

This will make the new society irregular in the eyes of the Order, which is the internationally recognised Grand Lodge of Sweden, but the grand lodge has been informed of this move. It is yet unclear whether they have a charter or if international relations will be established.

More, as it is revealed.