James Agar and Contact Tracing

A significant challenge, and extremely important task, during the current COVID-19 pandemic is ‘contact tracing’.  Knowing who has been in contact with an infected person is key to interrupting the spread of the virus.  Major tech companies are launching apps!  Some governments are monitoring movements of their citizens!

Masons have them beat.  And we’ve been doing so for over two centuries!

The normal thing for Masons to do when they attend their own Lodge, or visit another Lodge, is to sign the Tyler’s Register.  This is a record of who attended a meeting; and when the meeting was held.  This information is so valuable to a Lodge that old Registers are kept in a secure location.  The Tyler’s Register is considered (along with the minutes) of the vitality of a Lodge.

Indeed, concordant and attendant bodies do likewise.  Scottish Rite, Order of the Eastern Star, Royal Arch, Shrine, all have some formal means of tracking attendance.

Thus – every Masonic body can use their Tyler’s Register to inform members who attended a meeting that someone later became ill.

Why do we have this very useful tool?  It is because of the insight and authority of RW Bro. James Agar.  In 1803 he proposed that a register be used so that all who entered a Masonic meeting would sign, and be confirmed as qualified to enter the meeting.  Now, over 200 years later, we can continue this tradition and use the Tyler’s Register to trace all Masons who might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus if a Brother becomes ill after a meeting.

Let the dictates of right reason lead us.  Stay home if we are sick.  Wash your hands frequently.  Don’t touch your face.  Stay physically distant; and wear a face mask when you can’t.  Demonstrate brotherly love.  Offer relief.  Seek truth.

Who was RW Bro. James Agar?  A biography is posted here:  http://www.mastersemblem.com/JamesAgar.html

What is ‘Preferment’?

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of our Lodge rooms.

Preferment. This is a uncommon word today and someone hearing for the first time might think it is a ‘preference’ or a sign of favouritism.

Indeed, such a misunderstanding could feed into conspiracy theories about our Craft, or the false idea that to become a Mason is a path to fame and fortune. To the educated man well-studied in English history or well-read in English literature, ‘preferment’ means one who has received an appointment to a higher position in the English court or the Church of England.

In this sense, a preferment is synonymous with a promotion. A well-studied Mason will recognize within our Ritual that we congratulate a candidate for his preferment and remind him that his behaviour and actions have earned the honour which leads him to have a new character or identity. It is not favouritism. To a Mason the word ‘preferment’ means a rank he has earned by his own labour and with the assistance of his Lodge. The challenge to all Masons is to assure ourselves we are assisting each candidate for our mysteries to attain their preferment.

We should honour those who by merit and ability have earned preferment and rank as Grand Lodge officers.

Parallelepipedon

Here is the definition of another word that is used in Masonic Ritual, but is not common outside the Lodge room.

Parallelepipedon.

The Entered Apprentice hears this word as a description of ‘the form of the lodge’. Every Entered Apprentice I’ve spoken with after his Initiation admits that he has never before heard the word parallelpipedon. And he admits he has no idea what it means!

I try to help with the explanation that it is a shape defined in the first English translation of the works of the geometrician Euclid. It is a shape or space having six sides of which the opposite sides are parallel.

And I can add that in this year of 2020, the word is now 550 years old! A detailed explanation of my research is accepted for publication in Ars Quatuor Coronati Volume 133, to be released in November 2020. You may subscribe to receive it at www.quatuorcoronati.com.

I’ve never heard that word before!

Here is a definition of a word found within Masonic ritual that is not common outside of Masonic Lodge rooms.

Parallelepipedon. The Entered Apprentice hears this word as a description of ‘the form of the lodge’.  Every Entered Apprentice I’ve spoken with after his Initiation admits that he has never before heard the word parallelepipedon.  And he has no idea what it means.  I try to help with the explanation that it is a shape defined in the first English translation of the works of the geometrician Euclid: that of having six sides of which the opposite sides are parallel.

Image of a copy of the 1570 Billingsly Euclid at the University of Waterloo. The book includes many drawings which may be copied, cut out, and used to form the geometric shapes that are defined and described in the text.

And I can add that in this year of 2020, the word parallelepipedon is now 550 years old! A detailed explanation of my research is accepted for publication in Ars Quatuor Cornonati 133, November 2020.  Subscribe at www.quatuorcoronati.com

Is it just fantasy?

A Brother made a comment on a social media platform that is, in my opinion, quite valid.  He observed that explanations of old Masonic artefacts are often just fantasy.  No one can claim “this gavel was used when building the Temple at Jerusalem”.  I agree, and can add that doing any good Masonic research is hard work.  It demands time, creative problem-solving skills, and then communication skills to be able to share the result.

There are two goals with any good Masonic research.  One is to share knowledge, to inform, and to educate other Masons.  This is visible when the end product of research is delivered.  Whether in a tyled Lodge meeting, or published somewhere, good research adds to the body of knowledge of all men, and more particularly to the knowledge of Masons.

The second goal is to make a change in yourself.  This is achieved by ongoing examination of the process and products of research.  In my own case, it is easy to say that I have traveled down many false paths, and collected lots of irrelevant information, as I’ve looked at artefacts, and ideas.  I think my skills have improved, and my confidence grows that I am supporting the fundamental principle of truth.

So when I share my research I also share my sources of information. 

My article on a Highland Lodge Seal includes mention of my contacts with the current Regiment, and with the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

My biography of James Agar includes over a dozen of the most relevant primary sources of information so others can confirm my research.

My small book regarding the motto Audi, Vide, Tace has 20 references in the footnotes and 3 pages of images.

My book The Master’s Emblem Explained for Masons has 7 pages listing my sources.

But back to the observation of the Brother.  I am glad that he made the comment because it means he is looking for Masonic education.  He is searching for truth, for knowledge, and for understanding.  I commend him for doing so.  I hope that my efforts in Masonic education assist him in his researches.

May 10th

May 10th! This year we celebrate Mother’s Day. Cards, calls, best wishes, and happiness. Even when apart, we can still care.
Back in 1805 there wasn’t the celebration of Mother’s Day.
For James Agar and Sarah Fletcher it was the celebration of their wedding. James was a successful lawyer. Sarah was the widow of a lawyer. Their marriage was noted in the newspapers of the day.
More of the biography of the esteemed Brother who gave us the Master’s Emblem is shared in the blog — see the Menu!

Sere. Say what?

Another word that is heard by Masons, but probably by very few others:

Sere.  (Sounds like ‘sear’)

Recall these words from the lecture: ‘sinking into the sere and yellow leaf of old age’.  The word ‘sere’ entered the English language from the pen of William Shakespeare; in the play “MacBeth”, Act 5 Scene 3 “I have lived long enough: my way of life / Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf: And that which should accompany old age…”.

In this sense ‘sere’ means the autumn of life.   For the Mason who studies the liberal arts, hearing the word ‘sere’ in our Ritual comes as a pleasant reminder of the value of education to polish and adorn the mind. 

All Masons should make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.

Audi, Vide, Tace – An Explanation

What are you doing to give to the benevolence fund?  Your Masonic lodge, or your district, may have monies set aside to help someone in need.  Since we can’t hold Masonic meetings, we can’t raise money the usual way.  I’ve self-published a small book, and proceeds will go to benevolence funds.  The official motto of our Grand Lodge is ‘Audi, Vide, Tace’.  I’ve traced its history.  Did you know it was accepted for the Seal of United Grand Lodge of England when some fellows met at a tavern on a Tuesday night in 1814? 

More information is on this page:

https://mastersemblem.wordpress.com/audi-vide-tace-an-explanation/

Ejaculation

There are some words in Masonic ritual that are simply not common outside our tyled lodges. Or Masons learn the meaning of the word as it was used in an older time. Such it is with the word ‘ejaculation’.

A phrase in an early lecture is ‘the many pious prayers and ejaculations offered up by King David’.  Some of the uninitiated who hear the word ejaculation’ will recall their sex education classes — and be confused.  The educated man knows this use of the word ‘ejaculation’ properly means to speak a quick and short prayer or religious exclamation such as “The Holy Sts. John, pray for us”.  An initiated and educated Mason will acknowledge an example of an ejaculation is “so mote it be”. 

I offer this short message so you might make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. I serve my Brethren as the Sarnia District Librarian and Historian, so I work to make many resources available for Masonic Education. For information about Sarnia District, visit our website (and look for the page about our District Library).

www.sarniadistrictmasons.ca

550 Years Ago…

Old books were carefully printed and bound with care so their value may be appreciated.  The first book of the work of Euclid in the English language is now 550 years old.  Details of its value to Masonry are in an article I wrote that will be published in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (AQC) 133, due out in November.  Subscribe at www.quatuorcoronati.com

Marshall Kern with a copy of the first English-language Euclid — in the rare book room of McGill University, Montreal Quebec.