Monday, June 22, 2015

Saint John's Fires

Many Masons today make much of St. John's Day and in recent years we have seen blog posts, including posts on the Hedge Mason concerning the ritual bonfires still lit in Haiti. What I suspect that at least most Freemasons in North America have little or no awareness of is just how widespread that practice was and still remains.

Indeed, if historically Freemasons lit bonfires in celebration of Saint John's Day, they had a great deal of company. In Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany, Spain, especially Galicia, and other parts of Europe, people regularly lit bonfires to celebrate Saint John's Day which in all practical terms coincides with the Summer Solstice.

The evening of 23 June, St John's Eve, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of St John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:36, 56--57) states that John was born about six months beforeJesus, therefore the feast of John the Baptist was fixed on 24 June six months before Christmas. This feast day is one of the very few saints' days to mark the supposed anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint commemorated. In some rural parts of Ireland, particularly in the north-west, Bonfire Night is held on St. John's Eve, when bonfires are lit on hilltops.[5] Many towns and cities have "Midsummer Carnivals", with fairs, concerts and fireworks, around the same time. in County Cork in southwest ireland the night is commonly referred to as bonfire night and is among the busiest nights of the year for the fire services

 Tá Oíche Fhéile Eóin ar cheann de na féilte is ársa in Éirinn; téann sí chomh fada siar sin nach fios cathain go díreach a ceiliúradh don chéad uair í. Lastar tinte cnámh fós i roinnt áiteanna in Éirinn chun an fhéile a cheiliúradh. Ceiliúrtar Oíche Fhéile Eoin ar an 23 Meitheamh, seachas ag grianstad an tsamhraidh a thiteann ar an 21 Meitheamh. Is féile réamh-Chríostaí í ach, mar a tharla le féilte pagánacha eile, tá sí tar éis athrú le himeacht ama agus tá tionchar na Críostaíochta le feiceáil inti sa lá atá inniu ann. Mar shampla, is nós é, le linn na féasta, uisce beannaithe a chroitheadh agus paidreacha a rá chun Naomh Eoin chun go mbeadh rath ar an obair agus ar na barra.

The Knight Masons of the Universe, the Rose Croix, Kadosh Desert Fathers, Royal Arch Masons, Masters Masons, Family and townspeople all take part in this ritual administered by the Haitian Freemasons in Haiti.

In Galicia and even other parts of Spain, the feast day of San Juan is kept in a similar fashion, demonstrating the universal nature of this celebration.

So join us all now, Brothers:. and Sisters:. and all others to celebrate Saint John's Day, 2015!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The International Evangelical Threat to Civil Society

As a larger society, not merely in the US but world-wide, we need to become aware of the threat that Fundamentalist Evangelic Christianity represents. It has become a dangerous force. We can see in the current news in the US where "pastors" in the religious right, are threatening violent action, even self-immolation if Gay Marriage isn't stopped.

In Brazil, followers of the Evangelical Christian cults are attacking members of Afro-Brazilian religions and vandalizing temples of both Afro-Brazilian religions and of the Catholic Church.

Simultaneously, they are trying to extend their political power so that they can institutionalize their hate and intolerance. It is time to identify this as a threat to civil society and do something about it. Any and all religion, if it is religion, is fine. But hate and repression masquerading as religion is not acceptable. 

As a society committed to universal equality and religious neutrality, Freemasons need to speak out about this problem.  Lest you, as Freemasons think you can afford to remain silent, remember what Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor said about Adolf Hitler and his concentration camps.

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, 
and I did not speak out— 

Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

Evangelical Pastor threatens immolation 

Evangelicals attack 11 year old in Rio de Janeiro

Sometimes spreading more light is not a completely pleasant experience.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rough Ashlar No. 21: Regular Vs. Extraordinary

This post is not intended to criticize any group that considers themselves to be "regular," as all groups do. Rather, it serves as a reminder that if you are judging another group of Masons as being less "authentically" Masonic than you are, you are missing the entire point of being a Mason. You cannot be belittling another and doing the work at the same time. Those two actions are mutually exclusive.

You can only be concerned with improving yourself. If you expend energy in attacking others, you are not a Mason. Period.

There is no way in which such behavior can be squared with the fundamental principles upon which Freemasonry is based. Think about it. If you are committed to polishing the Rough Ashlar, then you know what I am saying is true.

Friday, June 12, 2015

GLMLAE 4th Anniversary

¡Hoy cumplió La Gran Logia Mixta De Los Andes Ecuatoriales cuatro Años y lo celebramos Trabajando!

 Enviamos un fuerte TAF.'. a los HH.'. esparcidos por la paz de la Tierra.

Today, the Mixed Grand Lodge of the Equitorial Andes celebrates its fourth anniversary and it celebrates by working. We send a strong Triple Fraternal Embrace to all the members to spread peace on Earth.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vade Mecum of the Orders of Wisdom: Claude Darche

Eventually after many seasons Sister Claude Darche released a book concerning the Higher Orders of Wisdom of the Modern Rite which deserves to be on the shelf of any Mason who wishes to understand this important branch of Freemasonry. This book, Vade-mecum des ordres de sagesse du rite français, by Claude Darche, which was published a few years ago, does not disclose anything new or previously unreported about the Modern or French Rite, but it offers a solid, well researched, and succinct account of the nature of the Higher Orders of the Modern Rite. It also does so in a compact format, (7.5 x 0.3 x 4.9 inches) with some lovely photography to give a sense of the rich visual and material culture associate with this rite.  It also puts into book form the introductions to the rituals, in those moments where the harness used where indicated, decorations, words, and then summarizes the five Wisdom degrees of the French Rite.

The nicest facet of this book is that in 110 pages of a small format, we have a sound summary of the essence of the Orders of Wisdom, and in Chapter 1 the Honorable Sister Darche  stresses a fact which needs to be emphasized, that the French Rite is not the heritage of the Grand Orient of France, but is practiced by many other allegiances, both new and those with old roots.

She also notes that within the rite are two trends of adogmatic and liberal Freemasonry, and that the GODF represent one extreme, which emphasizes the socializing trend, and the other which may be characterized as embracing a more philosophical-symbolic spirit, are those who sought the consensus of other Brothers, outside and inside the lodges of the GODG and sought the ritual essence that is still practiced even today in The Hague.

There are some areas where one might have wished to see greater detail, such as the history of the Modern Rite in Brazil and the recovery of the degree of Knight Kadosh already discussed at some length elsewhere by Brother Ludovic Marcos.

One aspect of this book is especially interesting and I think symbolically fitting is its reduction to the essential focal points of the subject, because in that it so perfectly models the inspiration in the writing of the Modern Rite's rituals, where the formal excess so common in some other rites has been eliminated. All in all, this represents a small but very handy little book. It provides a clear impression of what the Higher Orders of Wisdom are.

Vade-mecum des ordres de sagesse du rite français

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sekhem Heka ~ Egyptian Spiritual Energies: A seven Degree Initiatic System

Sekhem Heka - Egyptian Energetic Healing

Sekhem Heka, authored by Storm Constantine was published in book by Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press, in May 2008. Here is an overview of some of the system's components.

In Ancient Egypt, sekhem (SKHM) literally meant ‘power’ or ‘might’. The term applied to the Egyptian Netjer and was often part of the titles of pharaohs and queens. The sekhem sceptre carried by rulers and important officials was a physical representation of their earthly power. In recent years, the word sekhem has been reinterpreted to mean the energy of a healing system named after it, but that meaning is of modern not ancient origin. Sekhem, in its modern sense, is a form of healing that derives from a system called Seichim, which itself is partly a derivative of modern energetic healing systems. Originally, the word Heka meant ‘magic’ or ‘magical power’, and it was also the name of a Netjer who presided over magic.

This system of healing and self-development derives from Storm's experience in the healing system of Seichim and also in magical practices inspired by Ancient Egypt. Sekhem Heka is a system that incorporates energy healing as well as a structured series of rituals and path workings, focusing upon the energy centres of the body and associated Egyptian god forms. Storm formulated the system for a number of reasons. Primarily, she has a great interest in the goddess Sekhmet as do I and other Egyptian god forms, and have worked with their energy for many years. Once Storm became a Teacher, and discovered Seichim/Sekhem, she was pleased to discover that some Teachers had combined energy healing with Egyptian symbolism, and was keen to go down that path herself. Secondly, as Reiki initiation paves the way for self development, Storm wanted to provide a system for her magical students whereby they could combine their studies.

You do not have to be attuned to Seichim to be able to use most of the Sekhem Heka system but for those unfamiliar with the term, an attunement is a short initiatic experience, performed by a Teacher who has taken the highest, often called Master, degree of an energy healing system. These initiations are the core of the majority of healing models based on contemporary healing systems, during which a person becomes enabled to direct universal life energy ( such as chi or ki) through their body. Thus, the energy they utilize is not their own; it is universal energy directed through them. It neither exhausts nor depletes you as you work with it. Anybody, whether they’ve been attuned to an energy healing system or not, can perform the meditations and rituals of this system and acquire the benefits from them.

The Origins of Seichim/Sekhem

In the early 1980's an American gentleman named Patrick Zeigler underwent a spontaneous initiation while in Egypt which occurred within the great pyramid of Giza. Eventually, and some time later after having taken his energetic training, Patrick formulated a method in which he was able to pass on the same energies that he himself had received.

As with other contemporary energetic healing, many different branches of Seichim sprang up, and one of these was Sekhem. Although this was a term originally used by Patrick Zeigler, who has experimented with various different names for his system, it has been adopted by other Teachers, some of whom have greatly added to or changed the system. Sekhem, typically, incorporates the Egyptian netjer, Sekhmet, who was a ferocious lioness deity in ancient times, but who also had a healing aspect. Sekhmet’s priests were also physicians, so it’s easy to see how this goddess fits neatly into the Sekhem healing system. It is Storm's strong belief that any experienced practitioner can connect to Sekhem Heka, through regular meditation and openness to its manifestation.

Shef - The Energy System of the Body

As with most other energy healing systems, Sekhem Heka works with the seven energy centres within the body, which in this system are referred to as the shef – the whole system – or shefats, the individual centres. These words derive from an Ancient Egyptian term that means power, energy, or vigour. The energy centres are commonly known in most systems as the chakras, the idea of which derives from Ancient India. The centres are visualised as spheres or lotuses of coloured light, ranging through the spectrum from violet to red. The Correspondences of the Shefats There are seven degrees in Sekhem Heka, and at each degree you will work with one of the seven shefats, beginning with Sen-t, the base shefat, which can be regarded as the seat of the animal self, survival fears, the fight or flee response. Qemhu, the crown shefat, is regarded as the ‘highest’, being connected with the higher self, spirituality and higher consciousness. Here is a brief overview of the shef.

The Base Shefat

Sen-t (ground, basis, foundation) (sen-tay)

This shefat is fiery red in colour and is situated at the base of the spine. Its element is earth and it is associated with the sense of smell. It also relates to the inner adrenal system that controls the ‘fight or flight’ response. Sen-t concerns survival fears, basic instincts, the animal self, personal stability, matters of security.

The Lower Stomach or Sacral Shefat

Khept-ti (male and female genital organs) (kep-tee)
Khep-ti is situated above Sen-t, below the navel and relates to the sexual organs. Its colour is a radiant orange, its element is water and it corresponds to the sense of taste. This centre is concerned with sexuality, sexual energy, desire, feelings, creativity, pleasure, self confidence, and general well-being.

The Solar Plexus Shefat

Hati (will, disposition) (haa-tee)

Hati is located below the rib cage and relates to the digestive system and the pancreas. It is the shefat of the sun, and it is thought that the body absorbs solar light through it. Therefore, it can be seen as your personal sun, the seat of your personal power. In colour it is a vibrant golden yellow, and its element is fire. It corresponds to the sense of sight and relates to will power, personal power, complex emotions, perseverance and determination. Here is born the ability to project the personality and affect your reality.

The Heart Shefat
Ab (heart)

Ab is the centre of the body; three above, three below. It is located in the chest and relates to the thymus gland, which regulates the lymphatic system. Its colour is green, the colour of healing, and it relates to the element of air and the sense of touch.

The Throat Shefat
Ashash-t (throat, gullet) (aah-shash-tay)
Ashash-t is situated in the throat and relates to the thyroid gland and metabolism. Its colour is blue and its element is ether. It relates to the sense of hearing.

The Third Eye Shefat
Aar-t (a goddess of the uraeus) (aah-tay)
Aar-t and Qemhu (the Crown) form the two highest centres of the energy body. Both can be said to be the seat of the ‘third eye’, but it is probably best to imagine them as a whole with regards to this function. Aar-t is situated in the middle of the forehead, above and between the eyes. It relates to the pituitary gland and extra-sensory perception. Its colour is indigo.

The Crown Shefat
Qemhu (crown of the head) (Kem-oo)
Qemhu is located in the centre of the head, although the shefat is often visualised as existing just above the crown, outside the body. Its colour is generally seen as violet, although it is also pure white light, the entire spectrum. It corresponds to the pineal gland. This centre relates to the seat of your consciousness, the higher self. It is the shefat of empathy and true bliss through understanding. In Qemhu all the aspects of the lower shefats are united. It is their source of energy.
Sekhem Heka Degree Information

Sekhem Heka 1st Degree - (Ha-aah)
Within Sekhem Heka Level 1 there are two neteru. The first is the lioness-headed neter Sekhmet, and the second is the neter of magic, Heka. The symbols introduced at this stage include Heka and Tcheru (cheh-roo), the infinity symbol. The Heka symbol equates to the Cho Ku Rei, or power symbol of Reiki that is learned at first degree. This is the glyph of the neter’s name, as well as being part of the name of this system. The shefat associated with this degree is Sen-t, situated at the base of the spine.

Sekhem Heka 2nd Degree - (Sen-nu)
The neter of this degree is Isis. It involves the second shefat, Khep-ti, which is situated in the belly and associated with sexuality, desire, passion and creativity. The symbol for this degree is Tchem-Aset (chem-az-ett), the ‘wings of Isis’, which is representative of both creativity and protection.

Sekhem Heka 3rd Degree - Khemt-tu
The neter connected with this degree is Ra, the sun god. The third shefat, Hati, lies at the solar plexus, and is associated with will power and how we project our personality to the world. Khemt-tu also includes the five Sekhem Heka principles, which complement the Reiki Principles devised by Mikao Usui. Each principle involves a meditation, during which you examine aspects of your conditioning, the things that make you the person you are. The symbol for Khemt-tu is Aaten, the ancient symbol of the solar disk.

Sekhem Heka 4th Degree - Fty-nu
The fourth degree centres upon Ab, the heart shefat, connected with matters of emotion, unconditional/universal love and emotional expression. The neter for it is the cat-headed goddess, Bast, in her aspect of a goddess of love. The symbol is Per-Ahu (pair-a-hoo), which means ‘the house of the heart’.

Sekhem Heka 5th Degree - Tu-noot
Maat, the neter associated with this degree, is the goddess of cosmic truth. The shefat of Tu-Nut is Ashash-t, the throat, which is connected with communication. The melding of Maat and Ashash-t promotes honest communication, with oneself and others. The symbol for Tu-Nut is Tchet-it (chet-it) meaning ‘the spoken word’.

Sekhem Heka 6th Degree - Sas-nu
The neter of Sas-Nu is Wadjet, the cobra goddess. Her symbol, the uraeus, is the serpent found on the crowns of Egyptian kings and queens. Wadjet as a serpent represents the third eye, the seat of intuition, clear sight and self awareness. The shefat Aar-t (aah-tay), found within the ‘third eye’ is connected with these qualities. The symbol for Sas-Nu is Ma-her (ma-hur), which represents a flash of light emanating from the Eye of Horus. This is because Wadjet, known also as Uatchit, is closely associated with the Eye, itself representative of inner sight.

Sekhem Heka 7th Degree (Teacher) - Sefekh-nu
Nuit (noo-it), the neter of sky and stars, is representative of the path of magical seeking, as well as the higher self and knowledge. Sefekh-Nu is the ‘Master Degree’ of Sekhem Heka. Its shefat is Qemhu, the crown, which is connected with the idea of the higher, spiritual self. The master symbols of this degree are Tcher-Sekhem (chair-sek-em) and Aakhu (aah-koo), which are used for the passing on of initiation to this level.

For information on training: Click Here!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The History & Posturing of Masonic Regularity & Recognition

Roger Dachez has published a new book, entitled Franc-maçonnerie: Régularité et reconnaissance Histoire et postures, with a preface by Alain Bauer. The subtitle might more appropriately be, as if the book is not provocative enough, deceptions and impertinences, since Roger Dachez makes it clear in the 138 pages of the book's complex history of concepts such as "regularity" and "recognition" that these too terms are in fact more deceptive and impertinent than real.

Reading the book, one can not stop thinking about the irony about our work and think that "luckily Masons are dedicated to reflection and foresight," because it does not leave us in good standing in terms of the history of our mutual encounters and our tendency to absolutize Masonic issues in an effort to limit who may claim Masonic identity or making it universal, confusing both terms and concepts.

In any event, regarding issues of regularity, he indicates that they are more a question of the twentieth century, and one that becomes complicated when the GOdF in 2002 started to describe themselves in their official documents as "regular and symbolic sovereign power," where previously they had only described themselves as "symbolic and sovereign power."

Dachez also highlights the paradox of confusing and assimilating terms such as "regular" and "tradition" when the term "fair" simply distinguishes normal Masons under a status of recognized official authority and therefore make administrative and disciplinary, away from other issues that are often assimilated, as for example in the eighteenth century in England a regular Mason is not a dogmatic Mason as opposed to even liberal mason as is so often claimed today, without losing sight of the fact that the founders of the First English Grand Lodge in 1717 did not even know when, how and where Masons were initiated.

This book provides some very interesting historical references, and should be considered a high priority for translation and be made a required presence in all lodges, for better understanding of the Masonic membership. In reading it, one realizes where we are as a result of the confusion of concepts and Roger Dachez develops this with documented historical support and a summary that can be defined as follows:

Regularity, is a notion introduced by the British in a Masonic vocabulary and adopted in France in the eighteenth century. Initially It designated in the natural sense, only the compliance with the administrative duties of a Brother and his lodge, and in the case of a Grand Lodge recognition and authority for the benefit of work and mutual aid.

In the late nineteenth century, the original Masonic power of the First Empire, which had Lodges in the four corners of the world in reaction to the decision of the GOdF 1877, given its importance to the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLA ) chose to emphasize as its primary landmark, a belief in God.

For the first time in 1913 the UGLE signs an agreement with the Grand Lodge of France, and recognizes the Great National Lodge Independent and Regular (future GLNF) from which point the UGLE replaces the term 'recognized' Freemasonry with "regular Freemasonry ".

Since several major independent lodges appear the first UGLE establishes a precise doctrine about what it called “Basic Principles of Recognition of 1929,” according to its own conventions to require: Belief in a Supreme Being and the Volume of the Sacred Law. In 1952 the Conference of Grand Masters of North America states: Standards of Recognition where the most important is the belief in God.

This doctrine is taken from a 1949 text Amity and relationsships of the Craft partly repeating the above Basic Principles. After the war many grand lodges decide to accept this doctrine to gain recognition from London who will understood to represent what was from then on identified as "regular Freemasonry."

6. “Recognition" is not "regularity", despite the heavy use by the Grand Lodges of the appellation of "regular" or assumption of it, by those lodges  which do not have relationships with any lodge held by England to irregular, by relationship or visitation.

This consideration of "regularity" is claimed by 90% of world Freemasonry, without being part of a homogeneous community under a single Grand Lodge, and many recognized by London do not recognize each other and do not themselves adhere to the aforementioned Basic Principles of Recognition of 1929.

The brash and provocative concept of 'regularity'  which has a double character that is not very accurate should be condemned, and  if in a more rigorous and supportive, serene manner, the Grand Lodges recognized by London, should rate their masonry by the spirit in which they perform their work: traditional, spiritual, initiatory or humanist, liberal, adogmatic or secular, etc.

Therefore outside the Basic Principles of Recognition 1929 the idea of "regularity" is not a value in itself, it does not ennoble those by whom it is claimed, it is a descriptive and technical issue that indicates nothing beyond it being recognized by a body in London or that body's friends, tit is in fact an error to think of a "regular Freemasonry" as existing, it “allows” no deviation and claims itself to be entirely initiatory, traditional and spiritual, and opposing a "social Freemasonry" like the army of Pancho Villa, forgetting what was said in 1726 that the three principles of Freemasonry were brotherly love, charity and truth, issues that in the nineteenth century did not seem to have been understood very well.

Thanks to Victor Guerra.