Freemasonry and Education

Alberta Freemasonry and Education

The fondest moments of Alberta Freemasonry that I have experienced are interviewing and presenting Masonic Higher Education Bursaries to young men and women of Alberta.

These men and women are a delight to be with. They are excited about their education, their careers, and hopes for the future.

Each one—whether it be a timid young lady who wishes to study sociology, psychology, and theology, or a down-to-earth young farmer who is taking engineering technology, or an extroverted farm girl who is planning a career in veterinary medicine—has a plan for the future and, given the chance, will talk excitedly about that plan.

Such young people are Alberta’s next generation, Alberta’s greatest resource. While none of us knows what their future holds, they are preparing themselves to move forward in this ever-changing world with the tools that they think will best help them to be a success.

Regius Poem 1390

Freemasonry and education have gone hand-in-hand since Freemasonry’s beginning. The earliest document regarding Masonry is the Regius Poem of 1390. The Regius Poem describes the roles of parents, children, the master mason, and the apprentice, all within the sphere of Craft Masonry.

 

The Thirteenth Article:

The thirteenth article, so God save me,
Is: if a master has an apprentice,
Then he should teach him completely
And explain to him measurable points,
So that he may know the craft ably,
Wheresoever he goes under the sun.

While the last two lines of Plate XLV, Plate XLVI and the first half of Plate XLVII contain the seven sciences, that according to the Poem, Euclid taught:

Through the high grace of Christ in heaven,
He commenced with the seven sciences:

Grammar is the first science, certainly,
Dialectic, the second, so I have the pleasure,
Rhetoric, the third, without denial,
Music is the fourth, as I say you,
Astronomy is the fifth, by my snout,
Arithmetic is the sixth, without a doubt,
Geometry the seventh makes an end,
For it is both meek and courteous.
Grammar truly is the root
For whoever will learn in the book;
But art passes it in degree
Even as the fruit does the root of the tree;
Rhetoric measures with adorned speech at intervals,

And music, it is a sweet song;
Astronomy enumerates, my dear brother,
Arithmetic shows one thing that is another,
Geometry is the seventh science,
That can divide surely falsehood from truth.
These are the seven sciences,
Whosoever uses them well, he may be in heaven.

So, we have the Regius Poem of 1390 indicating that the master mason should teach each apprentice completely so that he is competent wherever he goes and, by implication, that his education be well rounded with the seven sciences.

Elias Ashmole 1646

 

 

Elias Ashmole. Line engraving, 1747, after W. Faithorne.
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Elias Ashmole became a Freemason on 16 October 1646, at Warrington in Lancashire. This is the earliest record of a non-mason becoming a Freemason in England.

So, the apprenticeship system of 1390 that trained men to have successful careers as stone masons was changing to an organization that trained men to have successful careers in an ever-changing world.

That training included to be able to speak clearly and succinctly in public with confidence, as well as developing social skills and graces that were acceptable in civil society.

Ashmole was also a founding member of the Royal Society. The Royal Society endeavoured to pursue truth, by the “scientific method” of investigation into the seven liberal arts and sciences.

The Moderns 1717

 

 

Well known in Masonic circles is the story of the formation of the Moderns from the following four Lodges:

From the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s Church Yard,
From the Crown Ale House in Parker’s Lane near Drury Lane,
From the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden,
From the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.

 

 

The Goose and Gridiron Ale House.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

They met at the said Goose and Gridiron for the assembly and feast of the Free and Accepted Masons on 24 June 1717, St. John the Baptist day, with Mr. Antony Sayer being in the chair.

At this time, the MM Degree does not seem to appear in the minutes of any Lodge meeting.

However, on 27 April 1727, at the Swan and Rummer, a Lodge of Masters was held. By 1730, it seems that a number of Lodges were using a three-degree system.

However, as we know, the educational aspects of the Fellowcraft degree, were still well maintained.

The Antients 1751

 

 

Apathy and neglect of the Premier Grand Lodge and the printing of Masonic exposés resulted in the irregular making of Masons.

In addition, decrees, banning of processions, minimum fees, prohibition of making and passing a candidate on one occasion, and other such actions by the Premier Grand Lodge tended to annoy the rank-and-file Freemason.

These actions resulted in the formation of the Most Ancient and Honble Society of Free and Accepted Masons.

The Antients were heavily influenced by Irish and Scottish Freemasons as well as the actors associated with Drury Lane. But again, the educational aspects of Freemasonry were retained.

Unification 1813

Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England.

With the Unification of the Moderns and the Antients in 1813 and the creation of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement for Master Masons and the Lodge of Reconciliation, there tended to be more uniformity in Masonic rituals in England.

American Ritual

Rituals of North America, USA and Canada, descend from the Moderns, the Antients, as well as Irish and Scottish rituals, with “Canadian” rituals being similar to Emulation.

The major differences between the American Working and the typical ritual of the UK whether it be Emulation, Universal, Craft Guide or Standard Scottish is that American rituals tend to be more verbose.

As well, some open in the MM Degree, most tend to be more Christian (not having gone through the Unification process), and the American MM Degree tends to be more theatrical in nature.

However, the pursuit of truth and the study of the seven liberal arts and sciences are revealed in all.

The Importance of Education

 

 

The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, 12th century illumination, Herrad of Landsberg – Hortus deliciarum.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Freedom and the education of the individual are themes that are continuous in Freemasonry from the very earliest writing to the present day.

In the United Kingdom, it took until 1918 for men to obtain the vote and until 1928 for women to get the vote. The responsibilities associated with being free are great and significant and are clearly detailed in the biblical Book of Exodus.

The difficulties with these responsibilities are burdensome but they become easier to deal with as one becomes educated in the arts and humanities, and in mathematics and sciences.

We educate ourselves in arts and humanities so that we can better communicate with each other. We educate ourselves in mathematics and sciences for the service and convenience of mankind.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, and we only need to review the many changes in the world and the knowledge that we have gained since 1945 to see the truth of that.

Educating ourselves as well as we can prepares us for the unknown world of tomorrow.

The sole purpose of the Alberta Masonic Higher Education Bursary Fund is to help the next generation of Albertans, our children and grandchildren, to obtain the education they need to lead successful lives and contribute to the welfare of mankind.

As you can see from this little lesson of our history, education is truly a Masonic obligation.

References:

 

The Regius Manuscript, Frederick M. Hunter, Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Oregon, 1952

Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium, Bernard E. Jones, George G. Harper & Co. Ltd., 1975

Article by: Chris E. Batty

Chris E. Batty was born in the spring of 1945 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK.

He immigrated to Canada early in 1965 with just $45 in his pocket and very little education.

Chris’s interest in Freemasonry stems from his father, who was a member of Bostall Heath Lodge No. 4492, English Constitution.

He has been a Freemason since 1975, served as Worshipful Master of Saskatchewan Lodge No. 92 GRA for the Masonic Year 1982; appointed the Grand Pursivant for the Masonic Year 2001 – 2002; elected as the District Deputy Grand Master for the Northern Lights District for the year 2005 – 2006.

Elected to the Masonic Higher Education Bursary Committee in 2006 and served as the Chairman from 2007 to 2014.

Elected Junior Grand Warden in 2012, and served as SGW, DGM, and the Grand Master for the year 2015 – 2016.

He was appointed as an Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan in 2015.

And subsequently, an Honorary Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba in 2017.

Recent Articles: by Chris Batty

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