Greetings Friends & Companions,
The New Year is a time traditionally thought of as an opportunity for new beginnings, new resolutions, and a fresh start. Such opportunities should never be taken lightly, and I hope you all take advantage of the season allowing it to fill you with invigoration anew. But when thinking about new beginnings my mind cannot help but be drawn to thoughts of our fraternity’s own beginnings. This is of course a subject of heated debate within circles of members and nonmembers alike. With theories that range from the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, to the Knights Templar to the builders of King Solomon’s Temple as our ritual would suggest, there are many theories with merit and I would not be surprised if all contained a bit of truth. But I in no way expect to learn the complete truth of our origins while still contained within my mortal shell, so until that fateful day comes I choose to look upon the subject of Masonic origins with a different perspective. How old are the ideas that our fraternity holds so dear? Where do our teachings come from? Equally debated questions, and equally lost in the pages of history, but I find that such research leads us to places we may not have previously considered, and gives us knowledge otherwise unseen. Take a look at the following…
“To accomplish anything whatsoever one must have standards. None have yet accomplished anything without them. The gentlemen fulfilling their duties as generals and councilors have their standards. Even the artisans performing their tasks also have their standards. The artisans make square objects according to the square, circular objects according to the compasses; they draw straight lines with the carpenter’s line and find the perpendicular by a pendulum. All artisans, whether skilled or unskilled, employ these five standards. Only the skilled workers are accurate. Though the unskilled laborers have not attained accuracy, yet they do better by following these standards than otherwise. Thus all artisans follow the standards in their work.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well you may be surprised by the source. This teaching is attributed to a man called Mozi. Not a medieval stonemason, not a Knight Templar, nor Jewish architect, but a Chinese philosopher, born in 470 BC. He was raised as working class artisan but worked his way up bringing his world view, of labor and ingenuity with him. He is also famously known for speaking on the symbolic value of white cloth, another philosophy we as Masons are certainly familiar with. Am I here to claim that Masonic teachings have their roots in the Mohist schools of ancient China? Hardly. But I feel it is important to note that Freemasonry has a shared heritage with the philosophy of the ancient world and while we may never know our true, historic origins I am certain we can consider ourselves in good company.
Speaking of company I hope to see you all in Chapter this month, and in fact I request it most seriously. We are most certainly meeting for January, and during this meeting we will be talking at length about our degrees in Belleville. Between now and then, also expect me to be contacting many of your trying to nail down your role for the Mark Master Mason degree in February, and this does not just include members of my own Chapter but other Chapters as well. Capitular Masonry has not graced the lodge room of the Belleville Masonic Temple in several decades and I hope to make this event exceptional, so I’m going to need all the help I can get. So think about your possible role and contact me as soon as you can. I thank you all for reading and wish you a happy New Year.
Brandon Mullins, HP