Freemasonry has been aptly described as ‘the gentle Craft’. Its teachings are of brotherly love, relief, truth, love of God, charity, immortality, mutual help, sympathy.
To the initiate, therefore, the penalty in his obligation comes often with a shock of surprise and sometimes consternation.
Let it be said with emphasis: the penalties are wholly symbolic.
The small boy uses the expression ‘By golly’, keeping alive an ancient Cornish oath in which goll or the hand, uplifted, was offered as a sacrifice if what was said was not the truth.
In our courts of law we say, ‘So help me, God’, in taking the oath to tell the truth. But the small boy does not expect his hand to be cut off if he happens to fib, nor is the penalty for perjury such that only God may help him upon whom it is inflicted.
Masonic penalties go back to very ancient times; to years when punishments were cruel and inhuman, often for very small offenses.
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Throats were cut, tongues torn out, bodies cut in half, hooks struck into breasts and the body torn apart; men were dismembered for all sorts of offenses which seem to us much too trivial for such extreme punishments; looting a temple, stealing a sheep, disclosing the king’s secrets, etc.
Other punishments of the Middle Ages were based on religious fears.
To be buried in un-consecrated ground was a terrible end for ignorant and superstitious people who believed that it meant eternal damnation. Similarly, to be interred in land which was no man’s property – between high and low water mark – was symbolical of spiritual death.
These and other horrible penalties were inflicted by law by various peoples at various times. That the legal penalties for certain civil crimes were incorporated in Masonic obligations seems obvious.
But that they ever meant or were ever intended to mean any death but a symbolic one is simply not so.
The yokel who cries ‘May God strike me dead if this is not so’ does not mean that he wishes to die; but he says that he believes be will be worthy of death if he lies.
It is in such a way that the Masonic penalties are to be understood; the Entered Apprentice states his belief that he would merit the penalty of his obligation if he failed to keep it.
The only punishments ever inflicted by Freemasons upon Freemasons are reprimand, suspension (definite and indefinite), and expulsion from the Fraternity.
The initiate who violates his obligation will feel the weight of no hand laid upon him. He will suffer no physical penalties whatever.
The contempt and detestation of his brethren, their denial of the privileges of Freemasonry to the foresworn, are the only Masonic penalties ever inflicted.
Article by: Carl H. Claudy
Carl Harry Claudy (1879 – 1957) was an American author, magazine writer, and journalist for the New York Herald.
His association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a master Mason in lodge Harmony No. 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master in 1932 and eventually served as Grand Master of Masons in the District of Colombia in 1943.
His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The master mason, until 1931.
Under his leadership the service Association was brought to a place of predominance through his authorship and distribution of the short talk bulletin which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.
Old Tiler Talks - The Ideal Mason
"What's your ideal of Freemasonry?" asked the Younger Mason - A short anecdotal story told in the setting of a new member asking an old tiler for his opinion on various masonic topics by Carl Claudy
Old Tiler Talks - Learning the Work
A short anecdotal story told in the setting of a new member asking an old tiler for his opinion on various masonic topics by Carl Claudy
Old Tiler Talks - Promotion
Masonic first appointments and promotions might appear to be inequitable for one point a view, but some times, one point does not show the whole picture. A perfectly articulated story by Claudy, we should not compare one persons abilities with another.
Old Tiler Talks - Masonry's "Failure"
Masonry fails because it doesn’t interest men sufficiently to make them practice what they preach. A perfectly articulated story by Claudy Masonry does not fail men. Men fail Masonry. Masonry has the teachings.
Old Tiler Talks - Judge Not!
A perfectly articulated story by Claudy reminds us of a lesson from the Second Degree Charge; in the decision of every trespass against our rules, judge with candour, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with mercy.
Old Tiler Talks - A Masonic Speech
A Masonic Speech - I can tell you the essence of appeal. It is drama. If you want your hearers to hang on your words, dramatize your subject
Old Tiler Talks - A Mason's Christmas
A Mason's Christmas - Do you believe in Christmas celebrations should be held by the lodge ? Should members be asked to contribute to one and engage in Christmas festivities ? What is the old tilers take on this ?
Old Tiler Talks - Advertising
Advertising - We would do more good in the world if we advertised ourselves more… Why ?
The All Seeing Eye
Uncover the mystery behind one of the oldest and most widespread symbols denoting God.
The Five Points of Fellowship
Do you want to discover the originals of the five points of fellowship ?
The Two Pillars
The mystery behind the two great pillars that stood at the porchway entrance of King Solomon Temple
Three Five Seven
Three numbers, what are their masonic significance? Pythagoras has something to say about them
Three Grand Pillars
What are the Three Grand Pillars ?, wisdom, strength, and beauty - then later we hear of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns
The 47th problem of Euclid
This emblem contains more real food for thought than any other in the lecture of the Sublime Degree.
The Hiramic Legend
The Hiramic Legend is the glory of Freemasonry; the search for that which was lost is the glory of life
The Five Senses
How are the Fellowcraft's five steps connected the five senses of human nature
The Principal Tenets
How to explain the principle tents of the craft to a newly made brother
The Lesser Lights
What are the lesser lights and where are they placed on our Lodges
The Winding Stairs
Like so much else in Freemasonry the Middle Chamber is wholly symbolic
In the true sense of the words Freemasonry is not a secret society but a society with secrets.
Three Great Lights
Three Great Lights – the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square, and the Compasses
Introduction to Freemasonry – Entered Apprentice Lambskin Apron
To the initiate, the penalty in his obligation comes with a shock of surprise and sometimes consternation.
Point Within A Circle
What is a point within a circle
Meet the Author
This month in 'Meet the Author' we look at the life and work of Carl H. Claudy, a prolific Masonic author who believed that Masonic education is the foundation for the Fraternity.
to be a better citizen of the world
share the square with two brothers
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