The word astrology is not a true term because it always has been ambiguous, meaning one thing in one country or period of time, another thing in some other country or time, and one contradicting the other. The nearest to any acceptable definition is to say that there has never been astrology, there have been astrologies, these astrologies among themselves vary from a form of astromical book-keeping practiced in China for calendar purposes, to the pseudo-religion which, to judge from the newsstands, has become a flourishing and also a financially profitable cult in America. As a further complication, at one or two periods in the late Middle Ages the word astrology was a synonym for astronomy. As a generalization it may be said that any particular astrology will teach the notion that a star is not what an astronomer says it is but is something more or something other; such as, that it is a god (or goddess!), or a saint, or an angel, or a fate, or possesses magical powers, etc. and that what it is, or some attribute it possesses, has some direct influence on men.
There is nowhere any trace of evidence to show that at any time astrology has been accepted by Freemasonry, or taught by it, or is one of the elements in the Ritual. If the mere mention of the skies, or the sun, or moon, etc., were to be considered to be astrology, then each and every man is an astrologist; so is each and every astronomer, every maker of calendars, almost every poet, the majority of composers of music, and many historians. The sun and moon are conspicuous in the Ritual, but not with any astrology meanings. For five or six centuries it was a "custom " of the Craft to work from sunrise to sunset, and usually contracts would set two lengths of work days for the year, the midpoint of one set falling on St. John the Baptist's Day when the daylight was longest, one on the Evangelist's Day when it was shortest ; and the moon represented the night; this old "custom" very probably was the origin of the two Masonic symbols of the Sun and the Moon.
Amateur Masonic occultists have attempted to connect Masonry with the zodiac, one of the conspicuous features of astrologies ; but here again there is no one zodiac, but many zodiacs throughout the world. The idea of a zodiac itself is one of the largest hoaxes with which men have ever befuddled themselves, and could never have been true to facts. The discovery of dark stars of great magnitude; that what in ancient times was taken for one star was two or more or even a whole galaxy; and the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes, has made the zodiac meaningless. It is a toy of the mind. There is nothing of the zodiac in the present Masonic Ritual; there was never a mention of it in the oldest Speculative Lodges ; in Medieval times it was a heresy, and Operative Freemasons would have abhorred the thought of it.
It can safely be laid down as a law of the Fraternity that anything and everything in the Ritual is understandable and knowable by any normal man, and nothing in it calls for erudition ; it could not be otherwise where so many millions are admitted to membership. When the Candidate is told that if he finds anything puzzling he can consult well-informed Brethren it is presupposed that in any Lodge there will be such Brethren. This principle, which also is a practice, disposes at a stroke the notion that there has ever been in the Craft any form of occultism which calls for erudition, or for adepts specially trained, or for a kind of knowledge not available to the rank and file of ordinary Masons. Astrology, in its present-day American form, is self-confessedly not open to common knowledge but is understandable only by experts, who for that reason charge a fee for the use of their supposedly erudite knowledge ; and it shares that practice with the majority of other forms of occultism.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
- BROTHER ISAAC NEWTON
P.O. BOX 70
Larkspur CO 80118
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