Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Remember, Remember, the 5th of November"

This post came to me in the wee hours of the night. I could not interrupt the normal schedule of The Midnight Freemasons, so for the sake of relevance, and one day late, it appears here. 

A Special Guest Post by
Bro. Robert Patrick Lewis



Last night I was briefly (yeah right) browsing Facebook when I started coming across quite a few articles talking about the 5th of November, many utilizing various pictures of the Guy Fawkes mask popularized in the movie "V for Vendetta."

As one who fancies a good conspiracy theory, I subscribe to many different Facebook pages which cater to that specifically, and each of the one's you would expect had something about this date, but one took me by surprise.

When I came to the Facebook page of The Working Tools magazine, I noticed they had their own version of the mask, along with the 5th of November saying.  I smiled a bit to myself, quite proud of my Brethren, until I looked at the comments and noticed one which I have to say broke my heart.

"What does V for Vendetta have to do with Freemasonry?" one Brother asked.  It made me start thinking, and realizing that while we all come to the Fraternity, many of us come for different reasons, from different backgrounds, and with different views of life.  I feel that the British celebration of Guy Fawkes and the 5th of November relate quite readily to our Craft, and if you'll follow me I'd like to explain why.

So we'll start with Guy Fawkes night, and the following is the definition given by Wikipedia:

"Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. 

Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the
Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.

Within a few decades Gunpowder Treason Day, as it was known, became the predominant English state commemoration, but as it carried strong religious overtones it also became a focus for anti-Catholic sentiment. Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, such as the pope. 

Towards the end of the 18th century reports appear of children begging for money with effigies of Guy Fawkes and 5 November gradually became known as Guy Fawkes Day. Towns such as Lewes and Guildforde were in the 19th century scenes of increasingly violent class-based confrontations, fostering traditions those towns celebrate still, albeit peaceably. In the 1850s changing attitudes eventually resulted in the toning down of much of the day's anti-Catholic rhetoric, and the Observance of 5th November Act was repealed in 1859. Eventually, the violence was dealt with, and by the 20th century Guy Fawkes Day had become an enjoyable social commemoration, although lacking much of its original focus. The present-day Guy Fawkes Night is usually celebrated at large organized events, centered on a bonfire and extravagant firework displays.

Settlers exported Guy Fawkes Night to overseas colonies, including some in North America, where it was known as Pope Day. Those festivities died out with the onset of the American Revolution. Claims that Guy Fawkes Night was a Protestant replacement for older customs like Samhain are disputed, although another old celebration, Halloween, has lately increased in popularity, and according to some writers, may threaten the continued observance of 5 November."


That seems like a pretty good official "party line" version of the story, so let's scroll a bit down on the same Wikipedia page, and see what the American take seems to be, how it was carried here and what one of our most famous Brethren had to say about it: 


"Gunpowder Treason Day was exported by settlers to colonies around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Although initially the commemoration was paid scant attention, the arrest of two boys caught lighting bonfires on 5 November 1662 in Boston suggests, in historian James Sharpe's view, that "an underground tradition of commemorating the Fifth existed". In parts of North America it was known as Pope Day, celebrated mainly in colonial New England, but also as far south as Charleston. 

In Boston, founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers led by John Winthrop, an early celebration was held in 1685, the same year that James II assumed the throne. Fifty years later, again in Boston, a local minister wrote "a Great number of people went over to Dorchester neck where at night they made a Great Bonfire and plaid off many fireworks", although the day ended in tragedy when "4 young men coming home in a Canoe were all Drowned." Ten years later the raucous celebrations were the cause of considerable annoyance to the upper classes and a special Riot Act was passed, to prevent "riotous tumultuous and disorderly assemblies of more than three persons, all or any of them armed with Sticks, Clubs or any kind of weapons, or disguised with vizards, or painted or discolored faces, on in any manner disguised, having any kind of imagery or pageantry, in any street, lane, or place in Boston." 

With inadequate resources, however, Boston's authorities were powerless to enforce the Act. In the 1740s gang violence became common, with groups of Boston residents battling for the honour of burning the pope's effigy. But by the mid-1760s these riots had subsided, and as colonial America moved towards revolution, the class rivalries featured during Pope Day gave way to anti-British sentiment. In author Alfred Young's view, Pope Day provided the "scaffolding, symbolism, and leadership" for resistance to the Stamp Act in 1764-1765, forgoing previous gang rivalries in favour of unified resistance to Britain.

The passage in 1774 of the Quebec Act, which guaranteed French Canadians free practice of Catholicism in the Province of Quebec, provoked complaints from some Americans that the British were introducing "Popish principles and French law". Such fears were bolstered by opposition from the Church in Europe to American independence, threatening a revival of Pope Day. Commenting in 1775, George Washington was less than impressed by the thought of any such resurrections, forbidding any under his command from participating:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form'd for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope—He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain'd, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.

Generally, following Washington's complaint, American colonists stopped observing Pope Day, although according to The Bostonian Society some citizens of Boston celebrated it on one final occasion, in 1776. The tradition continued in Salem as late as 1817, and was still observed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1892. In the late 18th century, effigies of prominent figures such as two Prime Ministers of Great Britain, the Earl of Bute and Lord North, and the American traitor General Benedict Arnold, were also burnt. In the 1880s bonfires were still being lit in some New England coastal towns, although no longer to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. In the area around New York, stacks of barrels were burnt on election day eve, which after 1845 was a Tuesday early in November."


As with anything this is open to interpretation, and it seems to me that America took a tradition and added our own twist or usage of it to fit our needs.  The original British party line version listed first seems to be an honoring of the fact that King James I survived an attempted assassination, while the American version morphed into something different, a celebration more akin to that celebrated in the movie "V for Vendetta."

So as our Brother asked, "what does V for Vendetta have to do with Freemasonry?"  I, my Brother, believe it has a lot to do with our Craft, in the very important message which that movie, and the American interpretation of Guy Fawkes day have taken on.

If you haven't seen the movie, "V for Vendetta" takes on a picture of the world, especially Britain, where a tyrannical Hitler-esque dictator has turned it into a police state, complete with monitoring of every citizen's actions, communications, and life.  His Gestapo-style militarized police use brute force to squash any dissent; the country has turned into a class-state, where there are only poor and wealthy, and only those who are in or support the party are allowed to be in the wealthy class.  If you are wealthy and cross the State party, as shown in the movie by a famous television host harboring the character played by Natalie Portman, you are dealt with in a brutal quickness.

So is this just a Hollywood version of completely fictional events, or does this seem to be the path on which we're heading?  It's no conspiracy theory that our current government has taken on the role of monitoring our every action and communication, and it was even reported a few weeks ago that every US citizen who paid taxes last year sent $574 to pay for the NSA to spy on American citizens.  We know they have hacked our email accounts, especially if you use Yahoo or Gmail, and can only guess as to what other information they are collecting on every one of us, and why.

As a combat veteran I can tell you from experience that our police forces hardly look like Police anymore; the weapons, armor, uniforms and equipment such as armored personnel vehicles and tanks don't just look like military equipment, they are military equipment, the same things we used in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a defined enemy.  They have merged roles from "protect and serve" to doing everything they can to squash any political dissenters like Adam Kokesh and bleed the populace dry, focusing more on revenue generation now than actually protecting anyone.

What about the two-class state, where only those in line with the State are allowed to be wealthy?  If you haven't been paying attention, that's exactly where we're headed.  If you look closely enough, there are still a few journalists and publications left who are brave enough to point out the fact that companies like Solyndra who took millions upon millions in government grants just to fold almost immediately are all companies who gave great campaign contributions to a certain political party and presidential race, and that the majority of wall street investing firms and banks who robbed our country of billions of dollars were also major campaign contributors.

Our Brother Todd E. Creason is an author and Midnight Freemasons contributor who has written some amazing "A Freemason Said That" books and along with Brother Robert Johnson, has done quite a bit of research in their "Famous Freemason" series, actually looking for the truth behind stories of various people being a part of the Craft.

As one who enjoys a good conspiracy theory, I've heard everyone involved in the crimes against our country above listed as Freemasons with no actual proof or investigation, and many of them have been debunked by Brothers Todd and Robert as they are not listed in the membership of any Lodge, and nobody has ever testified to sitting with any of them in Lodge.

But who are some Famous Freemasons?  There are more than we can count or list here, but there is a small list that I take to heart, especially in the context of this article.  George Washington.  Benjamin Franklin.  Paul Revere.  33% (13 of the 39) of the signers and framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are proven to be Freemasons, and here are a few of the ideas which sprang forth from those documents:


The right to vote for your representatives (but the electoral college negates this)

The right to bear arms (but many of our current politicians are trying to repeal this with every breath they take)

The right against self-incrimination (why would they need it when they can monitor your every communication now)

Freedom of religion (you are free to openly practice religion, unless someone doesn't like your religion.....in which case you are not free to practice your religion or 1st Amendment right to express your religious beliefs, especially if you are a Christian in todays America)

Freedom of the press (you can do a simple search on YouTube and find the director of the CIA in a 1970's testimony to Congress admitting that they had plants in print and television media at that time, so you can make your own assumptions about how free our press really is)

Equality of all persons before the law (have any of the Wall Street investors or bankers who threw our nation into economic turmoil been prosecuted?  No, they gave enough in campaign contributions to earn a "get out of jail free" card, but if you're a college student caught with pot you get the long arm of the law)

No judgment touching life, liberty or property without jury trial (how many homes were foreclosed by the aforementioned bankers without a trial?)

No monopolies, tithes, or excise taxes (does a "too big to fail" bank, or the Federal Reserve constitute a monopoly on our money supply?  Remember, they're a private corporation)


My point here being that the same Freemasons who wrote these foundations of our nation have been attributed to many quotes stating that they did so not to protect the government, but to protect the American people should the government every become so large and tyrannical that it goes against the very nature of its founding and the will of the people.

As it pertains to the Craft, there was a time when we were represented by many in politics, who wrote laws to protect the American people, followed by decades of non-Mason politicians who have done everything they can to destroy the very foundations of what this nation was founded upon, even being so bold lately as to say that the Constitution is an outdated document which needs to be done away with.

As a Master Mason, I took all of my obligations after first being told that they would not interfere with my obligation to my country.  As a solider I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and protect her against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.  
To me, this means that I have twice taken on life-changing obligations to this nation, to protect her foundation, the Constitution, and not to a politician doing everything they can to grab, take and steal by way of political office rather than serving with the honor which that position should entail.

As a Freemason, I believe it is my duty to protect not only my country, but also to protect the Light from being shadowed by the darkness that has been overtaking her for some time now.  It is our duty to maintain Truth and Knowledge through time immemorial, so that while the library at Alexandria burns, our mouth-to-ear instruction shall maintain that Truth and Knowledge to pass on for those ready in future generations.

But as Masons, we are not the profane, and we are tasked to keep our bearings and not proceed with reckless abandon.  While I believe it is our duty to steer the world in the direction of Light rather than dark, it is our duty to uphold our dedication to the Three Pillars of our Craft in doing so.

It is our duty to have the Wisdom to see darkness spreading, to know its sight and sound, and to alert others when it is taking hold.  It is our Strength that gives us the fortitude to stand up against the great evils of the world, and those which would dare try to extinguish the Light.  But most importantly, it is our testament to Beauty with which we proceed.  

A Mason should understand that while "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind," it also takes away the ability to perceive Beauty, and as such takes away much of that which makes us human.  Without this 3rd Pillar we cannot truly appreciate that which has been given to us by our maker, and if we approach preservation by callous and destructive means, we shall do no good.

While this article may seem like it has an incendiary purpose, my goal is not to incite rioting or violence.  The hacking group Anonymous has called for a "Billion Mask March," on November 5th, even putting out a list of cities for which they are suggesting civil disobedience in an act of defiance against what they see as tyrannical governments and control.

I am not proposing that, but I am asking that we, keepers of the Light, lovers of Truth and Knowledge, Brethren of the Craft, do not go gently into that good night.  

Wake up, pay attention to what is going on around us.  Our Brethren fought, bled and died in an attempt to right the world and create the shining beacon of Light that is America, and as we stand idly by we are allowing it to darken.

Do not allow the profane to fully extinguish our Light in their greed-induced lust of power, fortune and fame.  Do not stand idly by as you hear a controlled media twist a story to cover for politicians with ill-intent.  There is a reason Brother Pike so despised politicians that a good portion of Morals and Dogma speaks to their poor character, and we are seeing the effects of their disregard for our values now.

It doesn't take violence or useless protests (ever heard the quote "let them march, as long as they pay their taxes?  Do a little research to see who penned that one; it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to you) to save our world.  

What it does take is an awake and informed public.  As the guardians of the Light, it is our job to ensure the Good in our world doesn't go to sleep as the darkness creeps in.  If you see something that you know is wrong, speak up.  If you understand what is going on and do not agree with it, speak up.  Do not become complicit in the actions of evil by your own inaction.  



So what, as my good Brother asked, does this have to do with Freemasonry?  Everything my Brother, I believe it has everything to do with Freemasonry.


Bro. Robert Patrick Lewis is a Brother out of L.A. Lodge 42. He is a husband and father of two. He is the author of "Love Me When I'm Gone", a memoir about his time in the Special Forces. Bro. Lewis is also the host of the "Far From Centered" podcast (available on iTunes) and writes for iRON MiKE Magazine. He is currently serving our country yet again in the Middle-East.

4 comments:

  1. The education piece I presented to our lodge this month was inspired by a different message from V, on the basic tenet of Truth, and even quoted directly from the movie. Aside from being a fun movie, there are some excellent morals to be learned from it, and I highly recommend it.

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