Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Albert Pike and Freemasonry - Part 3

Number 3 in a series on Albert Pike's views on Freemasonry.

While at times Albert Pike can come across in his writings as denigrating or downplaying the Blue Degrees, the truth is quite the contrary. Pike had a profound respect for the Blue Lodge, for this was, for him, the gateway into Masonry, and its symbols and ritual contained and concealed the truths of the Fraternity to which he devoted most of his life.

Pike set out his views of the Higher Degrees in relation to the Blue Degrees quite definitively in his 1886 "Address of the President" delivered to the Masonic Veteran Association of the District of Columbia:
If our labours and writings in other Degrees and Bodies tend to elevate the Symbolic Masonry, to illustrate its symbols and invest them with a higher significance and a more solemnly religious meaning, to apply and expound and comment upon and make more forcible the moral law of the Blue Degrees, 'the principle tenets of Freemasonry,' 'included between the two points of the compasses,' to communicate to the zealous Masonic student more exalted ideas of the God in whom Masons put their trust, and strengthen him with more convincing proofs of the existence of the soul after this life ends, then those who work and write there are the efficient Apostles of the Freemasonry of the Blue Degrees, true fellow-workmen in the field of Masonic Labor.

Let us therefore, my dear Brethren, always remember, that first of all and above all, we are Master Masons; and wherever we work and labor, calling ourselves Masons, let us work and labor to elevate and dignify Blue Masonry; for we owe to it all that we are in the Order; and whatever we may be elsewhere, we are always amenable to its law and its tribunals, and always concerned to maintain and magnify its honour and glory.
Pike spent the latter part of his life true to the admonition he gave in his "Address of the President," immersing himself deeply in the study of the symbolism of the Blue Degrees. The result of that study was what could arguably be considered his third Magnum Opus: the book Esoterika: Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry (the other two being his first rewrite of the Scottish Rite rituals and, of course, Morals and Dogma). Pike never intended Esoterika to be published and only two manuscript volumes were produced, one of which rests in the archives of the Supreme Council and the other with the Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London. In 2005 the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction authorized the publication of Esoterika and it is now available not only to Scottish Rite Masons, but to all Masons. In my opinion, it should be required reading for all Master Masons in the Blue Lodge.

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