Monday, August 25, 2008

Masonic Lodge

I’ll admit, I never really gave Freemasonry much thought. As a woman, I would not be allowed to join – so that fact alone pretty much tamped down any real interest in the organization. I hope I don’t offend anyone by admitting that I imagined it to be a boys club less concerned with moral or metaphysical ideals and more interested in playing card games while wearing funny hats.

But then again, I’m hopelessly irreverent that way.

I know the Masons have been the subjects of a lot of conjecture – but the whole X Files, Da Vinci Code deciphering, Illuminati/World Domination milieu is kind of overblown. Right?

Today I looked up and saw this façade. Wow. This is an impressively mysterious doorway worthy of respect -- and possibly a conspiracy theorist’s renewed speculation. It’s sandwiched between a frame store and a nail salon on Fair Oaks. I’m still not sure what those Masons do in there, but they sure have some inspiring architecture.

26 comments:

Craig Wilson said...

They are in there deciding who should be the next president! A normal Monday morning :)

Mike said...

L, let there be light behind the freemasons doors.

Is that a door or a window your pointing at?

I gotta turn off my light for now.

Nathalie said...

There are women's freemason lodges in France, I'm sure they exist in the US too.
They take their job very seriously and discuss things like the place of women in society, trying their best to empower them through a variety of actions. What I don't like about them is they do feel like an elite group.

Meead S. said...

Mysterious! I haven't ever seen freemasons in Iran. I don't know anything about them, whether they exist or not?

yakpate said...

Very thought-provoking juxtaposition of elements... "Let there Be Light" is capped with a shadow... and topped with a barred window. All this poses the larger question: why does any organization need to be secret? Even with flowers framing a scene that is bathed in the brightest of sunshine, it leaves me with an oogie feeling... yet another facet in the gem that is South Pasadena.

Virginia said...

Well all I know is my grandaddy was a Mason. He told me they had a secret handshake (but I guess you already figured that out) . I would beg him to show me. He would get real serious and tell me this one was "it". Then he would do some convoluted handshake and then die laughing. Does anyone know the real thing? If so, I still want to know it.

Kelly said...

An oogie feeling...

I love that line! Great thoughts on the juxtaposition of the phrase and the photo elements! I didn't really pay attention, and had to go back and look!

I think the women's organization is called Eastern Stars, or something similar, but I think it is maybe only for wives of Masons?

Buy hey, if a bunch of guys want to dress up in robes and medallions and even silly hats together in secret, who am I to complain? Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Wayne said...

I always liked the Harleys and go-carts. But that's Shriners, the goof-offs of Freemasonery
I'd have to go to Google to find out how one goes from Freemason to Shriner. Maybe Shriners are just richer.
Next time you're going by Laurie check to see if the door's unlocked. If it is go on in, what's the worst that could happen?
Years ago I bought a red Honda Dream from a Shriner. The Vancouver guys used them in parades until they went big time and all bought white Harley ElectraGlides. They'd bought too many Hondas, mine was still in the crate.

USelaine said...

My grandfather was a Mason too. The lodge buildings are called Masonic Lodges, but things like secrets - I don't know any of the specifics, but I'm pretty sure they aren't sacrificing puppies or anything.

I'm sure there's plenty of information on the internet. They do have their roots in the trade guilds of the European middle ages, when skilled craftsmen were the closest thing to middle class between the vast, ignorant peasantry and the aristocracy. They have internally always operated on a democratic basis, which I suppose was subversive in such days. But it's useful to point out that George Washington and many of the American "Founding Fathers" were Masons, so some writers assert that their ideas were shaped in Masonic practice.

Gotta go back to work...

Jutilda said...

Grr- I had this long deep explanation of how this made me feel, and now it's gone AUGHHH

Symbolic, almost a metaphor. Although it has a biblical reference, to me, it speaks so much to everything pertinent today (any political candidates come to mind). Things can be bathed in light, head toward the light, see the light - all referring to giving intellect or imparting knowledge in some form. I love the flag. It has nothing to do with patriotism, I just like how they wave and bow to the commands of the wind. This is a thought provoking shot. I love text on buildings, as I know you do.

Laurie said...

Masonic lodges, not Mason lodges. Absolutely right, Elaine. Blame it on a late night post. I've corrected the title above!

Scott said...

This is awesome! Maybe its just my generation, but I can't think of the Freemasons without thinking of the Stonecutters from the Simpson's & their theme song (it's in my head right now). I'll have to try to scope out a Masonic lodge for a post of my own...

Laurie said...

Scott, click on my link in the post for World Domination and you'll see that we are thinking alike...

Eki Akhwan said...

What beautiful ornaments that facade has. The low angle you chose enhanced the grandeur illusion of this building. Very nice, Laurie.

Mister Earl said...

This is just amazing, Laurie. The change in color from the light at the bottom to the brown in the top half, accented by the flowers which pick up the color in the flag, which almost looks like another flower!

life observer said...

Thanks 4 de world domination link, L!

Laurie said...

Thanks for the conversation, everyone! I think it's interesting that so many of us know a mason -- but nobody knows the handshake or the actual activities that occur at meetings. (All the more reason I think it's just card games and silly hats...)

babooshka said...

In the UK we associate the Freemasons with secret handshakes, being dominnated by the Police, and yes a boys club. Mainly it is all the above. You are right about one thing though, how all their buidling have these beautiful facades. Like all secretive institutions, we speculate beacuse we are not apart of, but definitely UK they are viewed and rightly with suspision.

Knoxville Girl said...

Tolstoy's War and Peace includes a masonic initiation scene for Pierre, one of the main characters. It's kind of dramatic and spooky, but I don't know how accurate it really is; Tolstoy was interested in Freemasonry but I'm not sure if he ever was a Mason.
I do like the shot, and am wondering where they let the light be, actually, 'cause I don't see any.

USelaine said...

It's just like any sorority or fraternity that has any method of identifying who is a member and who isn't. The "handshake" is just symbolic of your membership. It isn't central to anything, it just "gets you in the door", so to speak. It's only used in the scripted ritual, not walking around town.

I was in Job's Daughters for a couple of years, from the age of 12 to about 14. It is only for girls who have a Mason as a close relative, I suppose as a screening of "character". The monthly meetings consisted of memorized short scripts that carry the meeting through some hymns and other character building hoo-haah. It's pretty much like any club with a presiding officer and other positions like secretary and treasurer, etc. There's an order of business where planning progress on the fundraising car wash might be reported. So, it's like a mash-up of church service and civic improvement club. With Job's Daughters, the character building ideas from the Biblical book of Job are memorized for the initiation ritual. I guess the theory is that once you hear all that, then memorize all that, you will become a woman of good character, and all of society will be made better. No witchcraft, no magic potions, no orgies. It's all pretty dry stuff. The fun things are the non-meeting activities like formal receptions (pretty dresses!) and raising funds for charities with bake sales or whatever. Eastern Star is for adult women closely related to a Mason. I never joined that. DeMolay is for teenage boys - the counterpart to Job's Daughters.

Laurie said...

Elaine -- but did you wear funny hats?

:-)

Thanks for the inside view. I knew someone in the Order of the Eastern Star. I always liked her pentagram necklace. She didn't let on specifics but left because she didn't like how segregated the organization was.

Now, who knows anything about Skull and Bones? Those guys are bound to be taking over the world...

Miss Havisham said...

Interesting post! Uselaine has fascinating commentary,too. We must be shadowing each other around South Pasadena--

I like the eyeball in the pyramid logo. Classic Masonic.

Larry J. Maddox Sr. said...

If you are ever interested in joining the Eastern Star you do need to have a family member that belongs to the Masonic Lodge. If you know a Shriner, which is a Mason who has advanced to a higher calling or degree that will be of help. All those old men with the funny hats, Fezzes, that collect money once in a while for the Burn Hospitals that help children who have burns absolutely FREE are Masons. We are in government as well. George Washington has a Masonic Museum in Washington that has all of his artifacts in it. Ben Franklin and many famous people as well as other Presidents of the United States have been members. You might have heard of Red Skeleton, he was one of the highest decorated Shriner's in Masonic history. Every advancement goes in degrees. Red was a 33rd degree when he was still doing his TV show. Masonic History dates back to King Solomons Mines and later on to the Holey wars as Knights Templar's, check the history channel sometimes or you might have heard of them in Indiana Jones, which has a not so true rendition of what we did in those days. And yes I am a Templar only we do different works.
Today our mother lodge is in Ireland on a little Island just off the coast. Back in the days of the 17th or 18th century when the Moors were invading Europe we were persecuted by them as well as by the Catholic Church. Even to this day the Pope does not let Catholics join because we are supposed to be able to confess any wrongs that we commit because we are supposed to be a secret organization. Believe me there is nothing in the lodge that has to be confessed. The Holy Bible is always open and is our guide. If your husband ever wants to join he has to ask NO one is ever asked into the Lodge, maybe coaxed sometimes. There is a lot more and if you ever are really interested there are a few books that you can find on Amazon. I have several but the one I use most is "A New Encyclopedia of Masonry" By Waite. This book is two volumes in one. This is only a little help for you and I hope you enjoy just a little information. SANTA

Dixie Jane said...

So what goes on behind those doors? (And by the way, it is a beautiful facade).There are only so many ways you can shake hands. But you have got to get it right. My dear Aunt belonged to Eastern Star and I could have become a Rainbow Girl because of the kinship, but declined. It is a sort of elitist thing and has to be handed down from one relative to the other. I sort of take a dim view of the caste system. However, I shall not knock the men in the funny hats. Their free medical help for children played a big part in the life of one of our family members.

Laurie said...

Larry, thank you so much for the information. I like to kid about these things but I realize this is a serious organization with good works in mind. But you've gotta admit a secret organization opens itself up for wild speculation. (You know, wondering what's in the box is always more interesting than actually opening the box!) I appreciate the book suggestion, too. ANd welcome to my blog!

Dixie, Rainbow Girl? yet another facet of our family I didn't know about!

Anonymous said...

You can join Eastern Star if you can prove you have Masons in your family.....