Key to the Sacred Pattern

31 May 2006

Freemasonry Book Lists

Most people come to researching Freemasonry through a few different avenues.
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • Origins of the organization and its links to other groups (Templars, Rosicrucians, Kabalistic Schools)
  • The meaning of Rites and rituals
  • Freemasonry’s link to past historical movements (The American Revolution, The French Revolution, Robert the Bruce)

Most of which are very valid lines of inquiry since many lines of modern day Grail are at tangent topical lines. I would give anyone a few pointers if you’re just beginning to look into the subject.

There are a ton of very poorly written and thought out texts about Freemasonry. I tend to stick to the texts that present either historical or conjectural account of the organization. Generally the more inflammatory the text is, the poorer the research and the argument is. The The Brotherhood by Stephen Knight is a prime example of my assertion. Emotion tends to take the place of logic in books of this type. This is not to say that there are no valid arguments for “Masonic conspiracies”. One has only to look at the Henry Morgan affair in the early 1800’s and the 1980’s Italian P2 lodge scandals for that. Keep one thing in mind when exploring historical events and Masonry. Events center around groups of men that are Masons, not Masonry acting as an organization. Most Masonic Lodges these days have problems putting together summer picnics, let alone controlling countries and banking systems.

If you’re interested in the ritual of Freemasonry, another word of caution. Ritual varies from State to State, and Jurisdiction to Jurisdiction. Don’t expect to pick up a text containing a particular Degree’s work and try to dissect it word for word. Use these texts to grasp the stories and lessons they present. I fear that one would be wasting their time if they did such a thing. The rituals have changed so much over the years, if such a link existed, it is lost.

Below are some primer texts

Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry; Brent Morris

If you know nothing of Freemasonry and want a good place to start, this is it. Brent Morris is the editor of The Scottish Rite Journal and a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He takes pains to paint what modern day Masonry is truly about and what he perceives as its origins.

Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry; John Robinson

This has to be the finest book on the subject of the first three degrees of Masonry, and Freemasonry’s connection to the Knights Templar I have ever read. Robinson came to his hypothesis quite by accident. Robinson began by investigating a little known late middle ages English Revolt, which lead him to the Templars/Freemasonry connection. Robinson also goes into exhaustive detail and explanation of the Blue Lodge Degrees. This is the text that started me down the road I am on now, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Freemasonry & the Birth of Modern Science; Robert Lomas

Robert Lomas of Hiram Key and The Second Messiah fame explores the English Royal Society and it’s links to Freemasonry. Although, some of the links are tenuous, their overall hypothesis of Freemasonry being the driving force behind the Royal Society is valid enough. This text also gives a good look into Freemasonry in the years before the official formation of the Grand Lodge of England.

Duncan's Ritual of Freemasonry

Duncan’s Ritual is a guide to all of Freemasonry’s Ritual. From the Blue Lodge Degrees, and York Rite degrees; one is presented with the verbiage from work. Keep in mind my previous admonition; view these works as guides to the stories and lessons taught within the Degrees and not something to be dissected word by word.

A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry

Written by A.E. Waite, this text is exactly what it says. It takes numerous topics from Masonic history and ritual and attempts to explain their meanings. Waite was a prolific writer of all things occult in the early 1900’s. Waite’s research is exhaustive and once again hits on many tangent Grail lines. We will be seeing more of his texts as the reading lists go on.

The Temple and the Lodge; Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh

The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail give conjecture of what happened to the Knights Templar after the 1307 arresets. Their thesis is that the Templars fled to Scotland and fought with Robert the Bruce against the English. They further hypothesis that the Templar’s rituals turned into Freemasonry. Baigent and Leigh extend their research into Freemasonry during the American Revolution and the formation if the US.

Book Lists and Reviews are Comming

Over the past few days, I have had a number of emails regarding books that I might suggest on a number of topics. The next few blogs I post will contain books on various topics that would be of interest to you Grail Seekers out there. If you have any other topics that you trip your trigger, drop me a line and I’ll dig through my library to see what I can come up with.

On a note of shameless self promotion, I have included links for each of these texts to Amazon. Grail Seekers is a proud affiliate with Amazon (and hopefully soon Alibris), so if you’re interested in a text please utilize these links. And finally, Grail Seekers has cool swag at Café Press Thank you for your continued support in Grail Seekers.

27 May 2006

Folks, Try This at Home

Yes it is true. There are those that went out to see the Da Vinci Code and immediatly bought spade and shovel and headed to Rosslyn. Folks, dig in your own back yards will you? Even if you do find something, you would probably wreck any archeological value it might have...

Steinbeck and the Holy Grail

I have wasted my time once again. I have been working on a Blog about John Steinbeck and the Holy Grail, and was hoping to post it tomorrow. I have gotten scooped by Marty Cheek of the Gilroy Dispatch. (His article can be located here.) The Holy Grail and Arthurian legend is a reoccurring theme in Steinbeck’s works. I highly recommend Mr. Cheek’s article if this interests you at all. Marty, you might have scooped me, but you didn’t get it all.

Steinbeck’s Grail allusions actually begin in his 1933 novel To An Unknown God Steinbeck tells the tale of farmer Joseph Wayne. Who has been given a blessing from his father and goes to build a farm in a distant valley. Wayne develops a pagan belief system centered on his interaction with nature. Wayne begins to see the mystical in many aspects of the farm. He believes that a tree holds the spirit of his dead father. After Wayne’s brother cuts down a tree, the valley is besieged by drought and pestilence. Wayne feels that the only way to save his valley is to sacrifice himself. He eventually silts his wrists, and his blood spilling on the ground brings about a rain storm.

Given Steinbeck’s self-professed love an Arthurian Legend, the connection with the tale of Parsifal and the Fisher King cannot be over looked. The blight on the Fisher King’s land began with a wound to his testicles from the Holy Spear. The kingdom is restored when Parsifal answers the question of, “Whom does the Grail Serve?” The answer is “the Grail is located within himself [the Fisher King].” Just as the means to restore Joseph Wayne’s lands is within himself. Finally, some versions of the Fisher King’s story have him dying within three days of the kingdom’s resurrection. Another sacrifice made for the greater good.

A final work of Steinbeck deserves note in reference to the Grail legend and The Da Vinci Code in particular. The Short Regin of Peppin IV (1957) is a little celebrated Steinbeck text. The political satire centers on the French’s attempt to revive the monarchy through a descendant of Charlemagne. While there is no great conspiracy with the Priory of Sion in Steinbeck’s work, it is interesting he would write of the return of the Merovingian line. Pierre Plantard, had to have been amused at this book coming out a year after supposedly reformed the Priory.

Then again who knows why an author writes about anything. I can daydream that Steinbeck was “in the know” can’t I?

The Da Vinci Code, a Visual Review

I saw the Da Vinci Code last night, and I cannot say that I was disappointed. This is one of the few movies that I have ever seen that did not stray from the original text. (Unlike the movie version of Starship Troopers, from which Robert Heinlein is still spinning in his grave.) After a little while, I even bought into Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. The majority of reviews I’'ve read stick pretty much to these points and anything else alone.

Going into the movie, I was more concerned with the visuals. Given that Dan Brown, or some savvy marketing person, has a penchant for visual Easter Eggs; I was hoping for a visual feast. Ron Howard disappointed me here. I felt that the key buildings in the book were treated was characters. Since each structure had its own mystery to unravel, Brown almost personified the buildings. Howard was lacking in this area. There is nothing visually that would give one the idea of just how large the Louvre is, or what an important history and art it contains. I have visited three of the key buildings in the movie and will gripe and praise accordingly.

The Temple Church; located off Fleet Street in London, this is a magnificent example of a Templar building. The main part of the Church is round; an architectural theme that reoccurs in Templar built churches, but is not communicated by the film makers. One thing Howard almost got right is the feeling of darkness the church conveys. No, not an evil darkness, but walking into the Church one gets the feeling that it is sucking any ambient light into the walls. This combined with the garish figures on the walls, can give one an intimidating feel. This had to be the goal of the Templars, to ward off the faint of heart. Unless some of the stained glass was knocked out since I visited; I have no idea where the dove could have come from.

Westminster Abby; I did like the ghostly images hanging around the Abby as the characters walked in, giving an actual feel of the place. Westminster is so crowed with tombs of historical figures, it would be hard to think there were not a few lost souls wandering around. It is so crowed, I almost knocked a velvet rope pole into Elizabeth I's tomb. Had I not caught the pole in time, I would have immediately been deported. I give Howard, an A for effort, but the scope of the Abby was still lacking in the visuals.

Rosslyn Chapel ; is such an explosion of images there’s almost no way Howard could have conveyed it all. I was disappointed there was not at least one pan on the Apprentice Pillar. This column is one of the most distinct and speculated about features of Rosslyn. There is a very short glimpse of it over Hanks shoulder, but no more.

Here are my two biggest problems. The first is that there is no “Star of David” on the overhang to the Crypt. I'’ve checked my memory and my photos, and if there is one I am mistaken. The one that was in the movie didn'’t even match the color of the stone around it. Finally, the Crypt is no where near that big. There are no storage rooms off to the sides. Rosslyn isn’'t hiding works of art or chest full of old raffle receipts. What bothered me most about the scene is that the Crypt is interesting enough without having to embellish it.

I’'ve said my peace. Go see it, but don’'t sell yourself short on digging a little deeper into the architecture that should have been in the foreground and not the background of the film.

25 May 2006

Music and the Rosslyn Cubes

Stuart Mitchell has made the news recently for collaborating with his father Thomas Mitchell in cracking the code of the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel Cubes. (For the whole 27 Apr 2006 Scotsman article, click HERE The first news of this hit the Scotsman back on 4 Oct 2005) The Mitchells believe that the 213 cubes hold the code to a piece of medieval music that will unlock the secrets in the stones of Rosslyn. Thomas Mitchell has been working on this problem for the last 20 years. According to the Scotsman article, The breakthrough to interpreting the notation came when Mitchell's father discovered that the markings carved on the face of the cubes seem to match a phenomenon called Cymatics or Chladni patterns. Chladni patterns form when a sustained note is used to vibrate a sheet of metal covered in powder producing marks.
Well its not that much of a break through. On 16 June 2002, the Scotsman reported a similar theory in the article Japanese bid to solve mystery of the Rosslyn cubes. As early as 2002, Panasonic UK has been working on the cube mystery with, eight scientists and music specialists from around the world. Their slant was that the music produced from the cube code might produce a sort of healing music. Their hope was that some sacred cord which would enhance the ultrasonic healing devices the Panasonic markets.
Oddly enough, Panasonic's key to breaking the code might sound familiar. The article states, One of the theories is that the notes were recorded using a brass plate covered with sand. When the brass plate was struck with a bow, it vibrated, creating a distinctive pattern of sand lines for that particular note.
So whats really going on here? Did the April 2006 Scotsman article overstate the Mitchells making a break through in cracking the code? Is there a connection between the Panasonic UKs research and the Mitchell project?
Not that this is any earth shattering conspiracy, but there are some interesting questions raised in the discrepancies. I'll snoop some more and post any additional findings.

Vatican Denys Reforming of the Knights Templars

This was posted from the ZENIT News Agency on 23 May 06. I'm trying to sift through German web sites to come up with the original text of the letter in question. Below is the text found at here

ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome

Knights Templar Letter a Fraud, Says Holy See

VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2006 ( The Holy See says that a letter -- allegedly written by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano -- recognizing a new order of Knights Templar, is false.

The false document, which has circulated in Germany in recent months, asserts that the Vatican has recognized the new "Templerorden." The Holy See has received numerous inquiries about the document.

The Holy See responded with a note published Sunday in the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano stating that "this letter is false."

"As is known, the old Order of Templars was suppressed by Pope Clement V (1305-1314) and was never reinstated by any of his successors," explained the Holy See.

The Vatican note confirmed that "the Holy See, in addition to its own equestrian orders, recognizes and oversees only the Sovereign Military Order of Malta -- the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta -- and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem." ZE06052302

What's really intriguing to me is that back in 2002, the Italian Magazine Hera

(you'll have to do a Babel Fish translation on this site if you can't read Italian) reported that Dr. Barbara Frale unearthed The Chinon Document. This document, found in the Vatican Secret Archives, gives the impression that Pope Clement exonerated the Templars.

"(...) and since they have humbly begged forgiveness from the Church for those misdeeds, pleading absolution, we decree that they are absolved by the Church, that they are restored to communion and that they may receive the holy sacraments." Chinon Document as quoted in Templars: The Flame of Innocence; Adriano Forgione; Hera Magazine 2002.

I'd hate to break any copyright laws by republishing their article on this blog. However, the nice folks at Hera sent me an English translation in 2002. If you're interested in a copy, drop me a line and I'll get you a copy.

This seems to be at odds with the Vatican's statement above regarding the Templars. It's also odd that the Vatican would make a statement like this. They usually keep quite about things they dismiss out of hand. Possibly with the Da Vinci Code publicity, the Holy See decided to squash this rumour out right.

Again I've run up against the language barrier. Frale published The Knights Templar in 2004, in Italian. The blurb for her dissertation leads one to believe that she addresses the Chinon Document in her text. Once again an interesting trail goes cold, and the questions grow.