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Masonic Art
November 29, 2004 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Dilletante Press offers a gallery of Masonic Art. The even-handed introduction lacks the sensationalism that ususally accompanies outsiders' presentations of things Masonic, leaving the viewer free to see the art for what it is, and not for what it represents. The images of mortality are great. It's good to see this stuff presented in a serious light. Of course, it's also good kitsch to find stuff like Masonic party supplies (sugar molds?!?) and trucker hats. And don't miss the 1930 DeMoulin Bros. & Co. Fraternal Supply Catalog No. 439
posted by tomharpel (35 comments total)

 
Full disclosure: 1) I am not a Mason; 2) I am getting married at a Mason's Hall next year, and I think I know where we are getting our wedding favors.
posted by tomharpel at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2004


Do you think if I wore a Masonic necktie I'd have better luck at job interviews?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:20 PM on November 29, 2004


Faint of Butt

Nope. The non-masons wouldn't know what it was and the Masons would know you weren't of their order when you failed to respond to their secret signals and such.
posted by Yellowbeard at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2004


Nope. The non-masons wouldn't know what it was and the Masons would know you weren't of their order when you failed to respond to their secret signals and such.

A pity, but I figured as much. I suppose I'll just have to ask my girlfriend's father to induct me, after all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:43 PM on November 29, 2004


That catalog is a magnificent find. I've always wanted to be a Mason, or at least really know what's going on behind all those secret handshakes. Of course, the whole "being a woman" thing has seemingly stopped my global domination plans from starting from a modest Masonic background.
posted by dejah420 at 12:48 PM on November 29, 2004


I toured the Scottish Rite temple in McAlester, Oklahoma when I was younger. I remember being impressed both by the art and the scale of the whole thing - not the kind of thing I expected to find in that relatively sleepy little town.
posted by rdub at 12:50 PM on November 29, 2004


Neato -- fascinating stuff. This wondergoat is postively avant-garde.

Do you think if I wore a Masonic necktie I'd have better luck at job interviews?

Only if it's a lariat.
posted by undule at 12:51 PM on November 29, 2004


This wondergoat is postively avant-garde.

Ye gods. At first I thought it was spliced together from two different pieces of clip art. Then I continued to read, and horror dawned.

MetaFilter: To create more amusement, we suggest that goat be manipulated by persons wearing burlesque costumes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2004


How interesting and timely. Just this weekend, while visiting the in-laws, I went to an antique mall and scored this print (372 KB jpeg, poorly photographed), which seems to be a sort of diploma for a mason dating back to the 1800s. All kinds of wacky Wizard-of-Oz imagery.

(on preview) I just noticed this is identical to slide 20 in the FPP's link. Cool!
posted by adamrice at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2004


i have a fuzzy wonder goat on order
posted by nola at 1:56 PM on November 29, 2004


Can anyone recommend a good/comprehensive book on the subject of things Masonic or the symbolism that is used? Or would someone who would attempt to write something like that wind up missing?
posted by helvetica at 1:57 PM on November 29, 2004


A pity, but I figured as much. I suppose I'll just have to ask my girlfriend's father to induct me, after all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:43 PM EST on November 29

How to become a Mason

"Membership is open to men age 18 and older who believe in a Supreme Being and meet the qualifications and standards. Men of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are welcome."
(italics mine)

FoB- it's not hard to become a mason, but you have to prove that you believe in a Higher Power- sometimes you need to find people that are willing to vouch for you that know you to believe.

and you have to learn a lot of Stuff. Like cool stuff. Secret handshakes and symbols and lots of obscure, occult bible references.

All of my relatives were masons- I'm the first to not go into the whole thing, largely because I'm an atheist. Although I wish there were a way around it.

On preview, helvetica there's plenty of stuff like this, and the shady reputation masons have is largely overblown nonsense. They are, at their root, a fraternal, philanthropic organization. Or, at least, that's what my uncle made me swear to say.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:08 PM on November 29, 2004


Awesome. The symbolism and art behind Masonry, and similar benevolent (and not so benevolent) fraternal organisations can prove more interesting than the groups themselves. In modern times, they seem to capture the spirit of the group's original purpose more than the groups themselves (Disclaimer: Linked to Wikipedia due to laziness & at work without stash of good bookmarks. Placement of links not meant to imply favouritism towards the carbonari, nor the H.G.D., nor the O.T.O., none of which I represent. King Kong Died For Your Sins.)

Masonry would be more attractice if it weren't for the 'believe in One Supreme Being' thing, as well as swearing to follow the laws of the land where you live. I take such things rather seriously, and laws are far too fallible to swear by (for my liking).

IANAM (I Am Not A Mason), but damn adamrice, I like that diploma!

helvetica, anything by A. E. Waite or C.W. Leadbeater is good in this regard. I'd advise you to avoid anything with the word secret in the title, though, since it's normally tinfoil-hat time.
posted by kamus at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2004


[this is FUCKING GREAT.]
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2004


hilariously eerie.
posted by onkelchrispy at 3:03 PM on November 29, 2004


For Helvetica and other shoppers: I love browsing the Fraternal Groups section on ebay--and they always seem to have antique books on masonic symbols etc. (Personally, I'm in the Trade Union section looking for cool occupation-related gifts for my union friends.)
posted by dinah at 3:19 PM on November 29, 2004


Maybe exlotuseater can help me with this one . . . I had heard that widows or surviving daughters were occasionally allowed to take on the role of their mason husbands/fathers. Meaning, these women became honorary freemasons. Does anyone know if this is true?
posted by annaramma at 3:57 PM on November 29, 2004


the whole "being a woman" thing has seemingly stopped my global domination plans

Bah. There are a few clandestine lodges that will have you.

Now, if you think gobal domination is going to come from Masons.....hahahahaha. The grand lodge I've delt with can't be bothered to remove someone who advocated gambling in lodge and would tell others "fuck you" in open lodge, such a lack of disipline is why global domination ain't happening.

Now, for fun, go to Steve Jackson games, buy an Illumanti! pin, then wear it to lodge. Watch expressions when you matter of factly state 'it is an Illumanti pin' brother.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:04 PM on November 29, 2004


I'm an atheist.

Go with "you are agnostic" and you can make blue lodge. They don't ask you WHAT higher power you believe in. Although some sticks in the mud might not accept you swearing an oath on "The Wealth of Nations" , but you might get by with swearing on writings of Washington or other early Masons.

Lots of people have feidility to money. You are just being honest about it is all.

You'll not be able to join Knights Templars - what with the whole holy warrior angle.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2004


I figured you were a brother from your nick, rough ashlar. What lodge are you in? Hit me with some email, huh?

MeFi Freemasons REPRESENTIN'
posted by keswick at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2004


rough ashlar: exlotuseater said he was an athiest, not a capitalist :)

Freemasonry for women comes in several varities, but they're mainly purely speculative masonic organisations as opposed to operative lodges, and are more akin to para-masonry groups. Examples are the Honorary Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons in London, the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry, and Co-Masonry. Sorry for lack of links.

It seems (as rough ashlar said) that most Masons are more concerned with the philanthropic community functions of lodges instead of real plotting to take over the world. As a dying tradition, it's struggling with it's arch-enemy, the Vatican, to recruit more of the young'uns to their respective causes, and both seem to be going down hill since they can't/won't adapt. That's just my take. Masons I've kicked it with seem less and less interested in hermeticism and western mysticism in general. Maybe it's just them.
posted by kamus at 4:51 PM on November 29, 2004


I had heard that widows or surviving daughters were occasionally allowed to take on the role of their mason husbands/fathers. Meaning, these women became honorary freemasons. Does anyone know if this is true?

It's not. There is, of course, Eastern Star, which is sort of Masonry for women.

Masons I've kicked it with seem less and less interested in hermeticism and western mysticism in general. Maybe it's just them.

You might want to check out this, for example; a group of Masons (though explicitly not a Masonic organization, per se) very much interested in studying Hermetic traditions and western mysticism, especially with reference to Rosicrucians. Try also Googling 'esoteric Masonry.'
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:17 PM on November 29, 2004


Oh Adam, I am *so* jealous!
posted by dejah420 at 5:33 PM on November 29, 2004


an athiest, not a capitalist :)

A higher power is a higher power, and I know of few who do not worship at the altar of the Dollar. Or at least tithe. IF you tithe right, you get laws in your favor. Or cushy jobs. And if you don't think money has holey power? Ask a shot up Iraqi if they don't think the American Petro-Dollar ain't shown its holey-ness to 'em. *thank you I'll be here all wwek, Remember to tip your waitstaff OVER"

According to the gent who posted me:

1) The works of Aliester Crowley are one of the 13 works at one lodge.
2) He claimed lodges that were co-ed and therefore clandestine.

As for Masonic members of Da Blue - woot. Go us 2. Yea.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2004


As for Masonic members of Da Blue - woot. Go us 2. Yea.

Three, soon, hopefully :) I'm still trying to find a Lodge that meets at a convenient time for me.


As to the clandestine lodges... the Grand Orient of France admits women, neh? But IIRC the GO isn't seen as regular by anyone (UGLE, etc).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2004


Oh, and there's this for women as well.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:44 PM on November 29, 2004


Way back when I posted a link to the George Washington Masonic Memorial's website. The photos are sadly small, but the place is definitely a wonderful example of American Masonic decorative art, or at least from a certain 20th century period. It's a worthwhile visit if you like that sort of thing (I do) -- and an interesting contrast to the austerity of the official national monuments across the Potomac.
posted by BT at 7:37 PM on November 29, 2004


Great post, tomharpel - that catalog is wonderful. Those masons sure are pranksters. I wish I could do some of my holiday shopping from that catalog ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 8:19 PM on November 29, 2004


rough ashlar, keswick - I have only obliquely mentioned my masonic tendencies before.

Glad to see we have some good men here!
posted by yhbc at 8:45 PM on November 29, 2004


Oh, and dirtynumb, etc. - Montgomery Lodge, Milford, Massachusetts (established September 16, 1797 by Paul Revere), meets on the first Thursday of the month, but it would be a bit of a drive for you.
posted by yhbc at 9:03 PM on November 29, 2004


I can't believe noone's brought up the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. Extremely intriguing from the outside, and the online tour makes me desperately want to tour it in person. Too bad it has such odd hours.

When my mother was a little girl she was in the Daughters of Job way out in rural Montana, which is, like the Shriners, a Masonic offshoot. She said they danced alot, and that she wasn't supposed to talk about it.
posted by deafmute at 9:34 PM on November 29, 2004


yhbc -

Yes, just a tad inconvenient ;)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:19 PM on November 29, 2004


exlotuseater, kamus & dinah; thanks for the recommendations.
posted by helvetica at 6:21 AM on November 30, 2004


deafmute, in addition to Job's Daughters, there's also The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, and Demolay (for the young man interested in Masonry).

I was a member of Rainbow for 9 years. My grandparents started the local chapter in my hometown. I'll probably be the last one in my family to have Masonic ties, as I haven't felt like joining Eastern Star, and my fiancé hasn't mentioned any interest in joining the Masons.
posted by KoPi_42 at 6:37 AM on November 30, 2004


you have to prove that you believe in a Higher Power

I think this has been addressed, but certainly when I became a mason, no one seemed to care. Up here they're pretty desperate to get young people involved. I was one of 4 under-50's at my lodge.
posted by alex_reno at 7:56 AM on November 30, 2004


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