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Masonry in Literature

by Shirley Brieger

People who know very little about Freemasonry often refer to it as a ‘secret society’.

However, there has been so much spoken and written about the subject it is actually a very open society. References to Freemasonry in literature occur in many works of fiction. For instance, way back in the year 2BC in Rome, Titus tells a good friend that his wife Vipsanias joined a women’s masonic lodge called the ‘Good Goddess’.

His friend comments, “That damned female masonic cult again. I hope it never spreads to our sex, Titus.”

Oh, how wrong he was…

This reference occurred in Quadrantus Rex by Norbert Coulehan.

Buchan, Capote, Eco, le Carre, Dan Brown, Tolstoy, and many more  have made references to masonry, so Norbert Coulehan was in good company.

Dan Brown, for instance, in his novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, uses and manipulates the symbols of masonry to produce a best seller. But it actually has no real relevance to masonry as we understand it. His ideas about the Rosslyn Chapel with its many masonic symbols in its carved stonework,  and the legends and beliefs about Rennes-le-Chateau being the place where the Holy Grail was said to be hidden and Jesus is buried, are a mixture of fact and fiction. However, non masons are all too ready to accept all these references as the truth.

In Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, Freemasonry is a thread that runs throughout the story. Count Pierre Bezukhov struggles with his understanding of masonry.  And this could be Tolstoy revealing his own struggle, as many people believe he actually based the character of Pierre on himself.

References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat – that of being marginalised, trivialised and fictionalised. Most of the references are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society.

However, I must return to the the author Dan Brown. Love or loathe his books, he wrote a letter to the  Guests of the Southern Jurisdiction, and it reads as follows . . .

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 08.39.02

In my humble opinion, this is probably the best explanation of Masonry I have heard, and one we should perhaps all remember when so often we are asked: What is Freemasonry all about? Freemasonry is worldwide, with the first Lodge being founded in London, England in 1717. To celebrate the anniversary of this event, Lodges throughout France and the UK – and many other countries – are opening their doors to the general public on 24th June.

If any Mason would like more information about the Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, more commonly known as the Mother Supreme Council of the World, simply Google any of these titles to find a fascinating history of Masonry in the USA.

652 Masons in France March17

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