I received in the mail recently from the Scottish Rite Research Society, the book titled “Light on Masonry” written by Arturo de Hoyos. He is quite a researcher. The book is a reprint of the famous expose by that name written by David Bernard in 1829 in the Morgan Affair period of anti Masonry. Along with Bernard’s expose de Hoyos adds a history of Masonic exposes and his own analysis.
He briefly describes a list of other exposes with the earliest being not an expose but a memory aide for Brethren. The Edinburgh Register House MS was written in 1696 and predates the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge by 21 years. It is the earliest complete description of Masonic ceremony known. We are just given a brief taste of that work.
Naturally Masonic ritual was quite different then from today with also there being only two degrees. But what is so fascinating is that which is the same. The first degree penalty is exactly as it is today over 300 years later. The five points are exactly the same. The answer to the question, “How shall I know you to be a Mason”, is the same. The grips and words are not revealed in this writing. But it does say that the Lodge faces east and west as is the temple at Jerusalem.
Some of the other points that are different but interesting are the three jewels which are said to be Perpend Esler, a square pavement and a broad oval. The key to the Lodge is found three foot and a half from the Lodge door under a perpend esler, and a green divot. But under the lap of my liver where all my secrets of my heart lie.
Life is about change and surely Freemasonry has evolved from its early history to be rewritten and then rewritten again. But I just had a glimpse into the Craft before Anderson’s Constitutions and Preston/Webb ritual. And what I see has connected me to those who have gone before me and that makes me very proud and infused with a spirit or reverential awe.