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Early Operative Freemasonry? (or What's Behind the Secret Door?)

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posted on Jul, 31 2004 @ 07:45 PM
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Hi all,

A question about the roots of operative freemasonry, based largely on my earliest thoughts on the subject, around 8 years old-ish. I was aware Freemasonry existed as some sort of "secret" organisation, related to stone masonry, and I had done projects at schools about the pyramids etc.

In the simple logic of an 8 year old, I remember thinking "ok that makes sense. the insides of pyramids and temples are supposed to contain secret chambers and tunnels, and things, so the people who built them, stone masons, would have have had to to have had some sort of secret planning organization for all this, and this lead to freemasonry".

I've read a little on the operative freemasonry of the middle ages, and the theories that the various symbols and code words help indentify qualified freelance masons to be hired on building projects, but I was wondering if there was any truth in my theory regarding secretly built chambers/tunnels etc..
it would make senses that knowledge of these things would have to be held "on record" by someone, so extensions or modifications could be made.

Does this make sense? Is there any evidence for masonic like organizations in ancient times that knew this sort of thing? I guess in part I'm asking how far back the evidence for operative freemasonry, actually goes.

Are there traces of this sort of thing left over in modern speculative freemasonry? Are there any degrees or even branches of freemasonry closely related to this? Any masons here happen to know what's behind that funny little door in the shaft in the Great Pyramid?!


Also, sort of related, does operative freemasonry still exist in any form?

Just curious on your thoughts on this! I've wondered for a while.. (since I was 8 in fact!)

EDIT : I'm not a Freemason btw, speculative, operative or otherwise, but at 8 I DID build a mean sandcastle!!





[edit on 31-7-2004 by muppet]




posted on Jul, 31 2004 @ 09:15 PM
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Originally posted by muppet
Does this make sense? Is there any evidence for masonic like organizations in ancient times that knew this sort of thing? I guess in part I'm asking how far back the evidence for operative freemasonry, actually goes.


Operative masonry is extremely ancient, with a crude form of Masonry having been practiced by the Cro-Magnons who used a mud-based mortar. None of their structures have survived, but images of them by some ancient, venerable cavemen Picassos are still in existence.


Are there traces of this sort of thing left over in modern speculative freemasonry? Are there any degrees or even branches of freemasonry closely related to this?


In the organization of Freemasonry, our legend is that our Craft was founded in Jerusalem at the building of the Temple during the reign of Solomon (although some Masonic writers with more imagination than credibility have suggested it originated with the pyramids, or the Tower of Babel, or Noah, or even Adam!).
But in reality all evidence suggests that speculative Freemasonry has its origins on the British Isles during the middle ages, and Masonic degrees tend to focus more on 18th century European liberal philosophy than on Egypt.


Any masons here happen to know what's behind that funny little door in the shaft in the Great Pyramid?!


Al Capone, of course!


Also, sort of related, does operative freemasonry still exist in any form?


Certainly. Operative Masonry is building with stones and bricks. Operative Masons are those who lay brick and stone for wages. Speculative Freemasons are those fraternal brothers who speculate on the symbolism of architecture and masonry through philosophy and science.

Fiat Lvx.



posted on Jul, 31 2004 @ 09:32 PM
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Hi ML,

Thanks for the reply.. to clarify though, I'm making a distinction between operative masonry, which is just the activity of building or making something with stone, and operative freemasonry, as in membership of a fraternity or guild of working masons.

I guess I'm trying understand the "secret" elements of operative freemasonry. I realize speculative freemasonry is a totally different animal, but I understand it takes takes some of it's symbology and possibly organization elements from from the operative kind...Do Operative Freemasonic Lodges still exist?




[edit on 31-7-2004 by muppet]



posted on Jul, 31 2004 @ 09:38 PM
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Originally posted by Masonic Light
Speculative Freemasons are those fraternal brothers who speculate on the symbolism of architecture and masonry through philosophy and science.


Ah.. that statement sheds a little lvx on the subject!

To clarify then, in case I've got this wrong, isn't Speculative Freemasonry the original name for the current form of Freemasonry, to differentiate it from the operative kind, which only accepted members who were masons? or is it more complex than that?



posted on Aug, 1 2004 @ 05:18 AM
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It's stated by UGLE that the freemasonry that we practice now (speculative) was formed from operative masonry.

Back in the early days, the head of a building project (normally the architect) was thought to also be a teacher. When the early churches and cathedrals were built, these masons would spend thier time roaming the countryside looking for work, settle down in a village, build a church and gain a local entourage. Whilst there, they would pass down some of the knowledge that they had gained through their travel and work. Once the structure was completed, they would move on and the process would start again.

Eventually, these masons formed guilds (there are references to them going back to the Middle Ages). After a time, these operative masonic guilds started accepting people who weren't physical builders - these became known as the speculative masons that you see today. They shared their teachings and transformed into Lodges. Eventually the speculative masons outnumbered the operatives. This would be because, by the 18th century, the type of operative masonry that built the churches was on the wain - by this time nearly every spare bit of land in the UK had a church on it and the operative masons were dwindling in numbers. Not only, that but the operative type of travelling teaching was becoming outdated - new forms of transport, new ways of communicating and the evolution of society meant that it was a natural progression to start accepting people from other walks of life. Masons of today are also known as "accepted" masons - this would originally point to them being accepted by guilds of operative masons even though they didn't actually physically build.


So to clarify - the Order of today is a society of speculative masons which evolved from a society of operative masons.



posted on Aug, 1 2004 @ 10:21 AM
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Originally posted by muppet
To clarify then, in case I've got this wrong, isn't Speculative Freemasonry the original name for the current form of Freemasonry, to differentiate it from the operative kind, which only accepted members who were masons? or is it more complex than that?


The operative Lodges no longer exist (at least that don't exist as operative, although some British and Scottish Lodges have operative backgrounds). In feudal times, "Free" Masons were those Craftsmen who were not bound by serfdom, while the Serf Masons were tied to the land. Therefore, technically, all modern operative Masons are Free Masons, since they have freedom of movement and the right to wages. However, they are no longer bound by Guild Code.

The operative Lodges probably first began accepting speculative members in the 1600's. Unfortunately, many records have been lost, but we know that Elias Ashmole, the noted Oxford scholar, was accepted in the Masons Company of London in the late 1600's by his diaries, and that he was not operative.

By 1717, when the first Grand Lodge was founded, most of the delegates were speculative, but some operative elements remained. By this time, Euclid's geometry and the techniques of architecture were no longer secret, and the need to join the guild in order to learn the Craft had diminished. This led to the gradual reduction of operative members, who were replaced by the speculatives.

Fiat Lvx.



posted on Aug, 1 2004 @ 03:07 PM
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Thanks Leveller and ML for your answers. I guess that means if there were any secret societies holding knowledge of the secret structure of ancient monuments and buildings, there are probably completely unconnected with the operative and speculative freemasonry from recent centuries. Well i guess I'm going to have to keep looking if I'm to find the hall of records then!!


cheers



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