Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Discovering the Philosopher's Stone

Earlier this week as I was browsing through blogs, I came upon one that discussed whether a non-christian could become and feel comfortable as a Knight of the Commandery, or Knight Templar. I commented upon the entry and also upon something that Magus Masonica had said, he then clarified what he had meant and in doing so, it lead me upon a small path of discover. The points of the small discussion were upon the alchemical nature of Freemasonry. Before these comments, I knew that there was a school of thought that supposed that Masonry was an "outlet" for the Alchemist of the Renaissance.

After reading the comments, I decided to do a LITTLE research behind alchemy. As I read, I reconfirmed the little that I knew, mostly that the main goal/search of the Alchemist was to find the Philosopher's Stone. The Philosopher's Stone is a substance that was thought to be able to transmute base metals into gold, but more importanlty it was also capable of producing an elixir that would prolong life, even granting immortality.

But, there is a Spiritual Alchemy as well. And that is the alchemy that I would like to discuss here. At dictionary.com the entry for "Philosopher's Stone" from The American Heritage Dictionary of Cultural Literacy entry says ,

Philosopher's stone
The stone or material that practitioners of alchemy believed capable of changing other metals into gold.
Note: Figuratively, the “philosopher's stone” is a substance thought to be capable of regenerating man spiritually.
The purpose of the Philosopher's Stone is to regenerate man spiritually. When I think of regenerating, I think of a body builder. The body builder tears muscle tissue as he works out. He then allows time to pass for the muscle to regenerate itself, eventually there is more muscle and it is stronger. It is a better muscle than when the body builder began his workout. During that time of regeneration though, the muscle is damaged and it isn't even capable of performing tasks that were down with minimal effort before the damage was incurred.

The Philosopher's Stone is that which is capable of doing the same to our spirit. Is the recipe for the elusive Philosopher's Stone hidden in the symbol of Freemasonry? Through the degrees, we are presented with very moving items that have a symbolic significance. From the White-Leathern Apron to The Sprig of Acacia, all of these are intended to suggest to our mind "a purity of life and rectitude of conduct." Every single Working Tool is given that we might build a Temple, "...eternal in the heavens." The first thing we must do is "Subdue our passions," and then we can "improve [ourselves] in masonry." All of these suggest ways in which we can regenerate our spirit. By implementing them all, perhaps we have discovered the Philosopher's Stone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your Frequent Appearance...is Earnestly Requested

On one of my favorite blogs to visit, Brother Justa Mason wrote about what every new Mason should know. In it, he points out the not so good things that can be found in a lodge and counters them with the good things that can be found in the same lodge. It is very well thought out and I would highly encourage any to check it out.

At the end of the blog, he wrote this;

I’ve being trying to come up with a post about why people stay in Freemasonry,
why it is they cope with disorganised and seemingly-pointless Lodge meetings,
petty arguments and some guys who really could do a better job of following what
it is our ritual teaches. I still haven’t written that post but it boils down,
in part, to the fact they have found the good outweighs the not-so-good.
Since I read that a few weeks ago, I have thought long and hard on the question at hand. As I have sat in lodge, I have pondered what has kept myself, as well as my brethren, returning again and again to that old lodge.

The first point, Masonry is a "Binding Insitution." By this I mean that through our Initiation, Passing, and Raising, we become bound to the fraternity and the brethren of the order. There is a binding element that is more ethereal than physical that binds us to one another. As we go through the degrees of Freemasonry, we realize that millions have gone through the same trials that we are and there will be millions after. We become bound to these brethren. Ours is an institution that men like Franklin, Washington, Mozart, Voltaire, and many many more were compelled to join. Most brethren are proud that they are compelled to the same institutions that these men were. This idea is innate to the fraternity, we offer nothing to this aspect of the institution.
It is true that some enter the fraternity and then quickly become disenchanted with what they find and leave. But I would argue that this is the vast minority, the majority of our brethren who we do not see at our meetings have let life become too much that they no longer have enough time for one night a month. And this brings me to the next point, Masonry is a "Fellowshipping Institution." This concept is completely dependent upon the lodge. But, Masonry should be an organization that brings men together to become friends. A tenet of our Order is that of Brotherly Love. What keeps many coming back to the lodge, to sit through monotonous business meetings is the Brotherly Love that is exemplified. Even in passionate discussions within the walls of the Lodge, brothers are generally able to rise above the heat and part with peace and harmony. They are capable to go downstairs and over a cup of coffee or punch joke around.

My third point is that Masonry is a "Personal Institution." The lessons of Freemasonry, the allegories, symbols, and morals can only be translated and inferred by the individual Mason. The Working Tools, even though they have definite meanings; for example the twenty four inch gauge is a symbol of the twenty four hours of the day and how we should divide those hours. But the actual division of our time is personal quest. What imperfections of our personal Rough Ashlars we choose to chip and knock away at first is a personal choice. We all interpret all of the symbols of Masonry a little different, according to our personal creeds, faiths, opinions, etc. Remember, it was the individual Mason that knocked on the doors of their own free will and accord.

Our return to the lodge is three fold; the fraternity itself compels us to return, hopefully the lodge calls for us to return, and our own desires should push us there. It takes ourselves, our brethren, and the fraternity. These are the goods that out-weigh the not-so-goods.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Today the officers for Canyon Lodge #13 for the ensuing Masonic Year were installed.

Worshipful Master ---Deward Del Phillips
Senior Warden-------Lloyd Moffit, P.M.
Junior Warden-------Gerald Mosley
Treasurer------------Stanley R. Strader, P.M.
Secretary------------Robert H. Heygster
Chaplain--------------Paul W. Albertson
Senior Deacon-------Jason L. Mair
Junior Deacon-------Logan Dickenson
Senior Steward------Richard L. Krause
Junior Steward------Robert Bennett
Marshall-------------Brent Tinnesand
Tyler----------------Aaron Crosman, P.M.

Yes, I was installed as Senior Deacon. I am excited and honoured that Del feels that I am up for this job. Everyone that I have spoken to express the sentiment that Senior Deacon was their favorite chair to sit in. Also, I am honoured that Worshipful Brother Wes Ing decided to take a newly raised Master Mason and place him in the chair of Junior Steward.

As I listened to the Installing Master explain my duties, it struck me how exciting it is going to be. First, I am to carry orders from the Worshipful Master in the East to the Senior Warden in the West and elsewhere about the lodge as order. In my mind, I am the Worshipful Masters right hand man, on the floor I sit to his right! I am to receive and conduct candidates. I am excited to take a main role in the initiation, passing, and raising of my brethren this year. I am to introduce visiting brethren. I get to meet and learn a little about the brethren that visit Canyon Lodge this year. And lastly, and in my mind the most important duty of mine this year, I am to attend the altar. To me, this means that I am responsible for that small table in the Lodge where the Volume of Sacred Law rests open for the entire Lodge to see. Opening that glorious book is my responsibility. How exciting is that?!

This year for Canyon Lodge is going to be awesome. It is going to be a continuation of a great year that we have had. As you can see from our officers, very few have been Past Masters, only one is in the line. And the vast majority of the officers are in their forties or younger! Canyon Lodge is young and growing younger every month. This will be an exciting year!

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Give Three Distinct Knocks...

Henry David Thoreau entered the woods surrounding Walden Pond to front the facts of life. He then wrote of his experiences, compiling from his journals. One of his purposes in doing this was, as he says, "Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or alst, a simple and sincer account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me." I believe this quote has significance in our lives as masons as well. Every man who has humbly and sincerely knocked at the doors of a lodge all have a different story to tell. And there story is as important as the next brothers. And with that thought in mind...

* * * * *

My earliest encounter with the Fraternity was as a young teenager. My family took a vacation to the sunny coast of San Diego. We went to Sea World and the Zoo, and every time we left the hotel and got on the freeway, we passed in front of a large building. The building was hidden behind a lot of trees, but it stuck out somehow, it was probably the large Square and Compasses that could be seen from the freeway. I asked my father what the building was, unlike most teens, I still believed my father knew everything (My view today may not be so broad but it is close). He answered that it was a Masonic Temple and then gave a brief overview of what he knew of the Fraternity. The one thing, whenever Masonry has been brought up in discussions with my father, he has always spoken highly of the Fraternity, and that has always stuck in my mind.

As I grew a little one of my favorite hobbies was reading and learning. And one topic that intrigued me was history. Another was philosophy. In every book that I flipped through, whether it was a book on the American Revolution or the History of Scotland somehow a Masonic Connection was introduced, no matter how erroneous. Ralph Waldo Emerson gave his ground breaking lecture on the Transcendental Movement in a Masonic Hall in Boston. My interest was peeked and I began to study everything I could on Free and Accepted Masons. My first purchase was Mackey's "Lexicon of Freemasonry" and I continued to buy book after book (my wife is a little dismayed that I still do).

In my studying, I found great men in history that I have been taught to revere and uphold as men of integrity and/or genious somehow were connected to the Fraternity. Even the man who was the founder of the church I belong to and the early leaders of the the church were all members of the Fraternity. Men such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, Mozart and Voltaire have been members of the Fraternity. I believed that an organization that attracted such men could be only good and all things good should be things that we should strive to embrace.

Before I petitioned the Lodge though, I chose to serve a mission for my church. I was called to serve in the area surrounding Orland Florida. I spent two years of my life serving my Lord and that has been one of the best decision of my life. And for purpose of discussion, in my travels, I met many good men who were members of the Craft, something that always stuck out in the back of my mind.

Upon my return home, I was married, and that has been another one of those best decisions of my life. My wife to be had questions about the Lodge and was a little tentative to have me join. Thank goodness there was Freemasons for Dummies which allowed me to answer her questions! (Mr. Hodapp you can send the check in the mail:)) And when she learned that her grandfather was a mason in Ohio, she knew that the Craft is a good thing. When I found out that fact it was neat, like there was some type of Masonic Genealogy in my life. Due to certain animosities in the State of Utah, Freemasonry isn't as a big a thing as in other states. Hence, my first sight of a Masonic Temple was in San Diego, not Utah. That is changing though. But as far as I know, there are no masons in the family tree.

A couple months after my marriage, I petioned Canyon Lodge #13 for the Three Degrees. I was initiated on May 8th, 2007, Passed on September 18th, 2007, and Raised on October 16th, 2007. I have never looked back with disappointment! Becoming a Free and Accepted Mason has been one of the best things in my life as well.
Peace and Harmony,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Modes of Recognition

About a week ago, Brother Dogood over at The Middle Chamber, posted about the atrocity that has befallen his jurisdiction regarding those sacred Modes of Recognition. As I read through his thoughts I began to think about the purpose of the Modes of Recognition in Freemasonry.

How many times do we hear in lodge, "Step off, give the due guard and sign!" Or hear those words that accompany our other modes of recognition. Perhaps we don't hear the words enough, but we should be seeing those due guards and signs quite regularly in lodge. Don't forget, those are modes of recognition as well as the grips. I will ask again though, what is their purpose?

Anciently, when illiteracy was the norm, there was no such things as a Dues Card. Theories abound that one way our ancient, operative brethren could tell a mason from a cowan was through the modes of recognition. Hopefully, the uninitiated would not know the modes of recognition and therefore not be admitted into the lodge. If there was an operative purpose to the Modes of Recognition, that is it!

Today, though, the Modes of Recognition tie us with the traditions of the past. One of the glowing aspects of Speculative Masonry is that it is something ancient. We mainatin the wording of the rituals, lectures, even the Landmarks are preserved because Masonry is Preserving. Many say we should let go of Washington, Franklin, and Roosevelt, that Today is Today. But, they forget that many are drawn to Masonry because it can historically be traced for centuries. And the Modes of Recognition help tie us through those centuries.

But, is there an actual pupose for Modes of Recognition today? We have Dues Cards, and if it's lost, a quick phone call, which could be made anywhere in the world would confirm our membership. So the ancient use of the Modes is outdated and serve no purpose. But we as Speculative Masons use them for a more noble and glorious purpose.

We are taught that the Modes of Recognition, specifically the grips, are used so a mason can tell one in the dark as well as the light. This makes me think immediately about the old quote, "What you are doing is screaming so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying." I personally believe that the Modes of Recognition help us remember to be men of integrity in the dark as well as the light. I was always taught that the type of man that I was, was who I was when I was by myself, or when I am in the dark! All of our symbols are well calculated to increase knowlegde and promote Virtue, our symbols are used to teach us how to be masons. Shouldn't we be masons in the Dark as well as the Light. Shouldn't we use the Modes of Recogntion as Speculative Masons.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hello and Welcome

I thought that I would send this blog off with a start by saying hello, introducing who I am, and what this blog is for and about!
So, Here we go!
Hello, I am Jason L. Mair. I am currently the Junior Steward of Canyon Lodge #13 in Midvale, Utah. I was initiated on May 8th, 2007, Passed on September 18, 2007, and Raised to the Sublime Degree on October 16th, 2007. Since becoming a Mason I have met men I look up to who I would not have any other way. I have made friends, regardless of race, color, or creed. Masonry is one of the many things that have changed my life for the better, but I am jumping ahead!! I am also a member of El Kalah Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, or Shrine for short. I am a member of the Klunkers Unit, you know, the mini-cars, we have a hoot.
I was born and raised in Midway, Utah and have spent my entire life, except for the last few years, in that small town. Yes, I am a small town gentleman! At the age of 19 I left Midway to travel to Orland Florida, where I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is true what they say, they are the best two! After coming home, I married (2/3/07) miss Margaret Jacobus and we have been happily :) married for the past year and a half. We currently live in Salt Lake City while we are going to school, we are currently attending at Salt Lake Community College. We are both majoring in Elementary Education, Margaret wants to teach 2nd grade, especially children who are deaf, and I want to teach 5th grade. I currently work at a school for children with autism and it is a blast, sometimes they don't pay me enough though;) and somedays I would do it for free, but don't tell my supervisor! I enjoy all things masonic, reading, writing, heraldry and history-especially Scottish, genealogy, flyfishing/tying, and everything else! Where does the time go?
What is the Sprig of Acacia? This is my blog; my feelings, my journeys, thoughts, studies, and reflections on Freemasonry, Ancient and Acceptable. This blog is not a lodge room and the things said herein will probably, most likely, not be politically correct. If you are offended, I apologize for the fact that you are offended, not for offending you! You can easily close the window! That being said, I hope that we can rise above those things that can easily offend, and have meaningful, open discussions. And it must be said, The opinions expressed herein are my personal opinions and reflections and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canyon Lodge #13, The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Utah, El Kalah Temple A.A.O.N.M.S., The Imperial Council A.A.O.N.M.S., or any other organization that I belong to, Masonic or not. And, as is customary, may we Meet on the Level, Act by the Plumb, and Part on the Square!