Freemasonry: The Naked Truth

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Freemasonry in Carlisle

Becoming a Freemason in Carlisle

Becoming a Freemason

Presumed to be from a lodge of operative masons, this document contains many features of speculative ritual. Hailed as the world's oldest masonic ritual, the Edinburgh Register House manuscript of 1696 starts with a catechism for proving a person who has the word is really a mason. Among other things, the person seeking entry is expected to name their lodge as Kilwinning, attributing the origin to Lodge Mother Kilwinning in Ayrshire. The first lodge is ascribed to the porchway of King Solomon's Temple, and the form of the lodge outlined in a question and answer session, the form of the answers often being highly allegorical. A fellow craft is further expected to know and explain a masonic embrace called the five points of fellowship. The second half of the document describes all or part of an initiation ritual as the "form of giveing the mason word".

The Airlie MS was discovered in 2000 by Dr Helen Dingwall whilst undertaking unrelated research in Edinburgh Register House (which gave its name to the MS ritual referred to above) in the National Archives of Scotland. Of all the MSS of the Scottish School only the origins of the Airlie MS (1705) are known with certainty. It is named after the family who owned it - the Earls of Airlie. Because the ownership and therefore the location of the MS is known it is of immense importance in understanding the origins of Freemasonry before the Grand Lodge era (from 1717). The Airlie MS has been analysed and discussed in considerable detail in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (AQC), Vol.117.

Trinity College, Dublin

Other manuscripts from Scotland and Ireland give early ritual that largely confirm the text of the Edinburgh Register House manuscript. They differ mainly in having the giving of the Mason Word as the first part of the text, followed by the catechism of the first and second degrees in the form of questions and answers. These include the Chetwode Crawley, the Kevan, and the Trinity College manuscripts. In the Trinity college text the Mason Word is actually written down as "Matchpin", and appears to be part of an early Master Mason's degree. The Chetwode Crawley MS, although discovered in Dublin, Ireland, refers in its catechism to the Lodge of Kilwinning, clearly demonstrating that it is of Scottish origin and is therefore part of the Scottish School referred to above.

The Haughfoot fragment

Haughfoot was a hamlet, consisting mainly of a staging post for horses and carriages, in the Scottish Borders near the village of Stow. It was in this unlikely location that a lodge was founded in 1702 by men who were mainly local landowners. The significance of this lodge lies in the fact that none of its members were stonemasons, confirming that modern Freemasonry was fully evolved in Scotland before the appearance of centralised authority in the form of Grand Lodges. The minute book of the lodge, which is extant, commences in 1702 and inside the front covers is the part which is identical to the last portion of the Edinburgh Register House and Airlie MSS. Although not complete (the missing part was almost certainly removed for reasons of secrecy) the Haughfoot fragment is sufficient to confirm that it was very likely to have been identical to the two previously mentioned MSS. The 'fragment' was probably retained because the minute of the first meeting of the Lodge commences immediately after this portion of ritual on the same page.

Graham Manuscript

The Graham Manuscript, of about 1725, gives a version of the third degree legend at variance with that now transmitted to master masons, involving Noah instead of Hiram Abiff. The Graham Manuscript appears to have been written in 1726, and obvious scribal errors within it indicate that it was copied from another document. It turned up in Yorkshire during the 1930s, but its exact origin is unknown, Lancashire, Northumberland, and South Scotland all being suggested. The document is headed The whole Institution of free Masonry opened and proved by the best of tradition and still some reference to scripture, There follows an examination, in the form of the sort of question and answer catechism seen in the earlier rituals. In what appears to be the examination of a Master Mason, the responder relates what modern masons would recognise as that part of the legend of Hiram Abiff dealing with the recovery of his body, but in this instance the body is that of Noah, disinterred by his three sons in the hope of learning some secret, and the mason's word is cryptically derived from his rotting body. Hiram Abiff is mentioned, but only as Solomon's master craftsman, inspired by Bezalel, who performed the same function for Moses. The tradition of deriving Freemasonry from Noah seems to be shared with Anderson (see Printed Constitutions above). Anderson also attributed primitive Freemasonry to Noah in his 1738 constitutions.

The denomination with the longest history of objection to Freemasonry is the Catholic Church. The objections raised by the Catholic Church are based on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion which is in conflict with Church doctrine. A number of Papal pronouncements have been issued against Freemasonry. The first was Pope Clement XII's In eminenti apostolatus, 28 April 1738; the most recent was Pope Leo XIII's Ab apostolici, 15 October 1890. The 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry entailed automatic excommunication, and banned books favouring Freemasonry.

In 1983, the Church issued a new code of canon law. Unlike its predecessor, the 1983 Code of Canon Law did not explicitly name Masonic orders among the secret societies it condemns. It states: "A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict." This named omission of Masonic orders caused both Catholics and Freemasons to believe that the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons may have been lifted, especially after the perceived liberalisation of Vatican II. However, the matter was clarified when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a Declaration on Masonic Associations, which states: "... the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion." For its part, Freemasonry has never objected to Catholics joining their fraternity. Those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE deny the Church's claims. The UGLE now states that "Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason's religion or provide a substitute for it."

In contrast to Catholic allegations of rationalism and naturalism, Protestant objections are more likely to be based on allegations of mysticism, occultism, and even Satanism. Masonic scholar Albert Pike is often quoted (in some cases misquoted) by Protestant anti-Masons as an authority for the position of Masonry on these issues. However, Pike, although undoubtedly learned, was not a spokesman for Freemasonry and was also controversial among Freemasons in general. His writings represented his personal opinion only, and furthermore an opinion grounded in the attitudes and understandings of late 19th century Southern Freemasonry of the US. Notably, his book carries in the preface a form of disclaimer from his own Grand Lodge. No one voice has ever spoken for the whole of Freemasonry.

Free Methodist Church founder B.T. Roberts was a vocal opponent of Freemasonry in the mid 19th century. Roberts opposed the society on moral grounds and stated, "The god of the lodge is not the God of the Bible." Roberts believed Freemasonry was a "mystery" or "alternate" religion and encouraged his church not to support ministers who were Freemasons. Freedom from secret societies is one of the "frees" upon which the Free Methodist Church was founded.

Since the founding of Freemasonry, many Bishops of the Church of England have been Freemasons, such as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher. In the past, few members of the Church of England would have seen any incongruity in concurrently adhering to Anglican Christianity and practising Freemasonry. In recent decades, however, reservations about Freemasonry have increased within Anglicanism, perhaps due to the increasing prominence of the evangelical wing of the church. The former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appeared to harbour some reservations about Masonic ritual, whilst being anxious to avoid causing offence to Freemasons inside and outside the Church of England. In 2003 he felt it necessary to apologise to British Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had barred the appointment of Freemasons to senior posts in his diocese when he was Bishop of Monmouth.

In 1933, the Orthodox Church of Greece officially declared that being a Freemason constitutes an act of apostasy and thus, until he repents, the person involved with Freemasonry cannot partake of the Eucharist. This has been generally affirmed throughout the whole Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox critique of Freemasonry agrees with both the Catholic and Protestant versions: "Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organisation, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism."

Regular Freemasonry has traditionally not responded to these claims, beyond the often repeated statement that those Grand Lodges in amity with UGLE explicitly adhere to the principle that "Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion. There is no separate 'Masonic deity,' and there is no separate proper name for a deity in Freemasonry."

Christian men, who were discouraged from joining the Freemasons by their Churches or who wanted a more religiocentric society, joined similar fraternal organisations, such as the Knights of Columbus for Catholic Christians, and the Loyal Orange Institution for Protestant Christians, although these fraternal organisations have been "organized in part on the style of and use many symbols of Freemasonry".

There are some elements of Freemasonry within the temple rituals of Mormonism.

The City of Carlisle is a local government district of Cumbria, England, with the status of a city and non-metropolitan district. It is named after its largest settlement, Carlisle, but covers a far larger area which includes the towns of Brampton and Longtown, as well as outlying villages including Dalston, Scotby and Wetheral. The city has a population of 107,524. and an area of 1,039.97 square kilometres (402 sq mi). The current city boundaries were set as part of the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, and cover an amalgamation of two former local government districts, the City and County Borough of Carlisle and the Border Rural District of Cumberland. The City of Carlisle shares a border with Scotland (to the north), and is bounded on the southwest by the borough of Allerdale, and on the south by the district of Eden. The county of Northumberland is to the east.

Although the present boundaries date to the 20th century, the city traces its origins to a 1st-century Roman outpost associated with Hadrian's Wall. The Brythonic settlement that expanded from this outpost was destroyed by the Danes in 875. Thereafter the region formed part of the Southern Uplands of Scotland, until colonised under King William II of England in 1092. William II built Carlisle Castle, which houses a military museum. Carlisle Cathedral, founded in the 12th century, is one of the smallest in England. A border city, and the third most northerly city in England, Carlisle predominantly spans the flood plain of the River Eden. Commercially, it is linked to the rest of England via the M6 motorway, and to the Scottish Lowlands via the A74(M) and M74 motorways.

Following both the Local Government Act 1888 and Local Government Act 1894, local government in England had been administered via a national framework of rural districts, urban districts, municipal boroughs and county boroughs, which (apart from the latter which were independent), shared power with strategic county councils of the administrative counties. The areas that were incorporated into the City of Carlisle in 1974 had formed part of the Border Rural District from the administrative county of Cumberland, and the politically independent County Borough of Carlisle. After the exploration of reform during the mid-20th century such as the proposals made by the Redcliffe-Maud Report in the late 1960s, the Local Government Act 1972 restructured local government in England by creating a system of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties and districts throughout the country. The act formally established the City of Carlisle as a local government district of the new shire county of Cumbria on 1 April 1974. The new dual local authorities of Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council had been running since elections in 1973 however. The leading article in The Times on the day the Local Government Act came into effect claimed that the "new arrangement is a compromise which seeks to reconcile familiar geography which commands a certain amount of affection and loyalty, with the scale of operations on which modern planning methods can work effectively".

Becoming a Freemason in United Kingdom

Becoming a Freemason in England England

Ceremonial county Cumbria

Historic county         Cumberland

Admin HQ     Carlisle

Non-metropolitan district status   1 April 1974

City status     1 April 1974


 • Type           City

 • Governing body   Carlisle City Council

 • MPs:           John Stevenson, Neil Hudson


 • Total           1,039.97 km2 (401.53 sq mi)

Population (mid-2019 est.)

 • Total           108,678 (Ranked 221st)

 • Ethnicity    97.6% White

0.9% South Asian

0.6% Mixed

0.2% Black

0.5% Chinese or Other

Time zone     UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)


CA postcode area

ONS code     16UD (ONS)

E07000028 (GSS)

OS grid reference    NY394555