Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Visit to the Grand Lodge of PA

Today, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge is the main Masonic Temple in PA.

Freemasonry is a worldwide fraternal organization. Its members are joined together by shared ideals of both a moral and metaphysical nature, and, in most of its branches, by a common belief in a Supreme Being. Freemasonry is an esoteric art, in that certain aspects of its internal work are not generally revealed to the public.
Anyway, during the tour, in which I was informed we would only be seeing one fifth of the building, I was awestruck by the archetecture and magnificence of what lay before my eyes. I have posted pictures of my favorite rooms.

Below is the Egyptian Room. It is one of my two favorite rooms that we were able to visit. The picture does not do justice to the splendid detail of the murals on the wall. The benches in the room are all hand carved around 1850. Obviously this room is inspired by Egyptian art and archetecture. There are heiroglyphs all over the ceiling and wall that have been invesigated by the University of Pennsylvania and are known to be accurate. What exactly they say, I don't know.

Below is Corinthian Room. This is my other favorite of the rooms we were allowed to visit. This picture attempts to show the sheer vastness of the room. I think the tour guide said that the ceilings were 50 feet. This room was great because it is inspired by Greek archetecture and the related lore. The first thing I noticed about the room when I looked up was that the room was inspired by Greek mythology, but there were saying in Latin all over the room. I don't think anybody else noticed this, but then again I did study Latin and Greek in high school. I was going to ask about this abnormality, but by the time I had translated all the sayings, the tour had moved on. Perhaps the next time I take the tour, I will ask. There is a saying above the altar which is unreadable in this picture. It says, "FIDES ET LUX" roughly translated as "STRENGTH AND LIGHT". The significance: I am not sure.

There are similarities in all lodge rooms. What looks to be an altar at the head of the room is where the worshipful master sits and runs the lodge meetings. There are desks to the right and left of the altar for the secretary and the treasurer of the lodge. In the middle of the room is where the sacred text is placed. The sacred text could be the Torah, Bible, Qur'an or whatever the sacred book of your religion happens to be. The three candles represent three different things in Free Mason teaching. I do remember that the candle closest to the altar is for the worshipful master. Notice that they are in a perfect right triangle, one of the marks of universal perfection.Usually what goes on in these rooms is regular lodge meetings where they discuss lodge business. Also, rituals take place there. This is where Masons go through their degree work. Degree work is where the new Masons learn the Craft. What exactly the degree work is and what the rituals entail, I would love to know, but are a closely held secret known only to Master Masons (Free Masons that have recieved all three degrees).Which room do you like better?