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A false or fictitious name. Continental writers on Freemasonry in the eighteenth century often assumed fictitious names, sometimes from affectation, and sometimes because the subjects they treated were unpopular with the government or the church. Thus, Carl Rssler wrote under the pseudonym of Acerrellas, Arthuseus under that of Irenaeus, Agnostus, Guillemain de Saint Victor under that of De Gaminville or Querard, Louis Travenol under that of Leonard Gabanon, etc.
The Illuminati also introduced the custom of giving pseudonyms to the kingdoms and cities of Europe; thus, with them, Austria was Achaia; Munich, Athens; Vienna, Rome; Ingolstadt. Eleusis, etc. But this practice was not confined to the Illuminati, for we find many books published at Paris, Berlin, etc., with the fictitious imprint of Jerusalem, Cosmopolis, Latomopolis, Philadelphia, Edessa, etc. This practice has long since been abandoned.
The fact that, within the past few years, Freemasonry has taken its place and an imposing one. too--in the literature of the times; that men of genius and learning have devoted themselves to its investigation; that its principles and its system have become matters of study and research; and that the results of this labor of inquiry have been given, and still continue to be given, to the world at large, in the form of treatises on Masonic science, have at length introduced the new question among the Fraternity, whether Masonic books are of good or of evil tendency to the Institution.
Many well-meaning but timid members of the Paternity object to the freedom with which Masonic topics are discussed in printed works. They think that the veil is too much withdrawn by modern Masonic writers, and that all doctrine and instruction should be confined to oral teaching, within the limits of the Lodge-room. Hence, to them, the art of printing becomes useless for the diffusion of Masonic knowledge; and thus, whatever may be the attainments of a Masonic scholar, the fruits of his study and experience would be confined to the narrow limits of his personal presence. Such objectors draw no distinction between the Ritual and the Philosophy of Freemasonry. Like the old priests of Egypt, they would have everything concealed under hieroglyphics, and would as soon think of opening a Lodge in public as they would of discussing, in a printed book, the principles and design of the Institution.
The Grand Lodge of England, some 5 years ago, adopted a regulation which declared it penal to print or publish any part of the proceedings of a Lodge, or the names of the persons present at such a Lodge, without the permission of the Grand Master. The rule, however, evidently referred to local proceedings only, and had no relation whatever to the publication of Masonic authors and editors; for the English Masonic press, since the days of Hutchinson, in the middle of the eighteenth century, has been distinguished for the freedom, as well as learning, with which the most abstruse principles of our Order have been discussed.
Many years ago the Committee of Foreign Correspondence of a prominent Grand Lodge affirmed that Masonic literature was doing more "harm than good to the Institution." About the same time the Committee of another equally prominent Grand Lodge was not ashamed to express its regret that so much prominence of notice is, "in several Grand Lodge proceedings, given to Masonic publications. Masonry existed and flourished, was harmonious and happy, in their absence."
When one reads such diatribes against Masonic literature and Masonic progress--such blind efforts to hide under the bushel the light that should be on the hill-top--he is incontinently reminded of a similar iconoclast, who, more than tour centuries ago, made a like onslaught on the pernicious effects of learning. The immortal Jack Cade, in condemning Lord Say to death as a patron of learning, gave vent to words of which the language of these enemies of Masonic literature seems to be but the echo:
Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm, in erecting 3 grammar-school; and whereas, before, our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally thou hast caused printing to be used and contrary to tie king, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. It will he proved to thy face that thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear.
We belong to no such school. On the contrary, we believe that too much cannot be written and printed and read about the philosophy and history, the science and symbolism of Freemasonry; prodded always the writing is confided to those who rightly understand their art. In Freemasonry, as in astronomy, in geology, or in any other of the arts and sciences, a new book by all expert must always be esteemed a valuable contribution. The production of silly and untutored minds will fall of themselves into oblivion without the aid of official persecution; but that which is really valuable--which presents new facts, or furnishes suggestive thoughts--will, in spite of the denunciations of the Jack Cades of Freemasonry, live to instruct the Brethren, and to elevate the tone and standing of the Institution. Doctor Oliver, who has written more on Freemasonry than any other author, says on this subject: I conceive it to be an error in judgment to discountenance the publication of philosophical disquisitions on the subject of Freemasonry, because such a proceeding would not only induce the world to think that our pretensions are incapable of enduring the test of inquiry, but would also have a tendency to restore the dark ages of superstition, when even the sacred writings were prohibited, under an apprehension that their contents might be misunderstood or perverted to the propagation of unsound doctrines and pernicious practices, and thus would ignorance be transmitted, aa a legacy, from one generation to another.
Still further pursuing this theme, and passing from the unfavorable influence which must be exerted upon the world by our silence, to the injury that must accrue to the Craft, the same learned writer goes on to say, that "no hypotheses can be more untenable than that which forebodes evil to the Masonic Institution from the publication of Masonic treatises illustrative of its philosophical and moral tendency." And in view of the meager and unsatisfactory nature of the lectures, in the form in which they are delivered in the Lodges, he wisely suggests that "if strictures on the science and philosophy of the Order were placed within every Brother's reach, a system of examination and research would soon be substituted for the dull and uninteresting routine which, in so many instances, characterizes our private meetings. The Brethren would become excited by the inquiry, and a rich series of new beauties and excellences would be their reward."
Of such a result there is no doubt. In consequence of the increase of Masonic publications in this country, Freemasonry has already been elevated to a high position. If there be any who still deem it a merely social institution, without a philosophy or literature; if there be any who speak of it with less admiration than it justly deserves, we may be assured that such men have read as little as they have thought on the subject of its science and its history. A few moments of conversation with a Freemason will show whether he is one of those contracted craftsmen who suppose that Masonic brightness consists merely in a knowledge of the correct mode of working one's way into a Lodge, or whether he is one who has read and properly appreciated the various treatises on the "Royal Art," in which men of genius and learning have developed the true spirit and design of the Order.
Such is the effect of Masonic publications upon the Fraternity; and the result of all my experience is, that enough has Clot been published. Books on all Masonic subjects, easily accessible to the masses of the Order, are necessaries essential to the elevation and extension of the Institution. Too many of them confine their acquirements to a knowledge of the signs and the ceremonies of initiation. There they cease their researches. They- make no study of the philosophy and the antiquities of the Order. They do not seem to know that the modes of recognition are simply intended as means of security against imposition, and that the ceremonial rites are worth nothing without the symbolism of which they are only the external exponents. Freemasonry for them is nerveless--senseless--lifeless; it is an empty voice without meaning--a tree of splendid foliage, but without a single fruit.
The monopteral instructions of the Order, as they are technically called, contain many things which probably, at one time, it would have been deemed improper to print; and there are some Freemasons, even at this day, who think that Webb and Cross were too free in their publications. And yet we have never heard of any evil effects arising from the reading of our Monitors, even upon those who have not been initiated. On the contrary, meager as are the explanations given in those works, and unsatisfactory as they must be to one seeking for the full light of Freemasonry, they have been the means, in many instances, of inducing the profane, who have read them, to admire our Institution, and to knock at the door of Freemasonry for admission--while we regret to say that they sometimes comprise the whole instruction that a candidate gets from an ignorant Master. Without these published Monitors, even that little beam of light would be wanting to illuminate his path.
But if the publication and general diffusion of our elementary text-books have been of acknowledged advantage to the character of the Institution, and have, by the information, little as it is, which they communicate, been of essential benefit to the Fraternity, we cannot see why a more extensive system of instruction on the legends, traditions, and Symbols of the Order should not be productive of still greater good. Years ago, Doctor Mackey, as in the foregoing paragraphs, uttered on this subject sentiments which we now take occasion to repeat:
Without an adequate course of reading, no Freemason can now take a position of any distinction in the ranks of the Fraternity. Without extending his studies beyond what is taught in the brief lectures of the Lodge, he can never properly appreciate the end and nature of Freemasonry as a speculative science. The lectures constitute but the skeleton of Masonic science. The muscles and nerves and blood-vessels, which are to give vitality, and beauty, and health, and vigor to that lifeless skeleton, must be found in the commentaries on them which the learning and research of Masonic writers have given to the Masonic student.
The objections to treatises and disquisitions on Masonic subjects, that there is danger, through them, of giving too much light to the world without, has not the slightest support from experience. In England, in France, and in Germany, scarcely any restriction has been observed by Masonic writers, except as to what is emphatically esoteric; and yet we do not believe that the profane world is wiser in those countries than in our own in respect to the secrets of Freemasonry. In the face of these publications, the world without has remained as ignorant of the aporrheta or mysteries of our art, as if no work had ever been written on the subject; while the world within--the Craft themselves--have been enlightened and instructed, and their views of Freemasonry--not as a social or charitable society, but as a philosophy, a science, a religion--have been elevated and enlarged
The truth is, that men who are not Freemasons never read authentic Masonic works. They have no interest in the topics discussed, and could not understand them, from a want of the preparatory education which the Lodge alone can supply. Therefore, were a writer even to trench a little on what may be considered as being really the arcana or inner secrets of Freemasonry there is no danger of his thus making an improper revelation to improper persons.
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