Sr. No 2/8 originally published on Dated 1st August, 2007
One of the primary purposes of Freemasonry is the education of its members. Unfortunately, as the pressure of time and business conspire to constrain the intellectual activity of our Lodges, real Masonic education and inquiry are among the first pursuits to be jettisoned from our regular agenda. Education and reflection on Masonic issues used to be much more of a central part of the business of a Masonic Lodge than it is today. Too often we become what I call as “parrot Masons” Masons who become quite proficient at learning words and directions but who give little or no attention to the philosophy behind those words or ‘Why we do’ ‘What we do’.
It is proper then that as we celebrate 24th of June as Brotherhood Day or the feast day of St. John the Baptist, we pause a few minutes to consider the history and background of this Day / celebration.
UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD DAY – JUNE 24TH
FEAST DAY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST – JUNE 24TH
Brotherhood day of 24th June has its origin as far back as the Fraternity itself. The Fraternity is descended from the times of King Solomon’s and Hiram Abif, the Widow’s son i.e. from the times of Druids and other truly ancient Celtic priesthoods of the sun. During that period the only religion was sun worship - the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun. During entirely pagan and pre-Christian, these sun priests claimed as their holiest days the summer solstice (24th June) and winter solstice (27th December) the day when the sun shines the most and the day when it shines the least. As masons had to come from far and wide, the day of summer solstice i.e. 24th June was chosen for the annual festival as the day was the longest on this day and after the annual festival brethren could reach their homes. There were no tube lights or lanterns to guide them and Sun light was their only guide. Hence 24th June - the day of summer solstice was chosen as the annual brotherhood day for all masons.
In Constantine’s day, Rome’s official religion was sun worship the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun and Constantine was its head priest. Unfortunately for him, a growing religious turmoil was gripping Rome. Three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Christ’s followers had multiplied exponentially. Christians and pagans began warring, and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two. Constantine decided something had to be done. In 325 A.D. he convened “Council of Nicea” to resolve the conflict and to unify Rome under a single religion. Divinity of “Jesus Christ” was voted upon after more than three hundred years of his death. (Until that moment in history, Jesus was considered a mortal human being). Jesus as “Son of God’ was for the 1st time officially proposed and voted upon in the council of Nicea in AD 325. After heated debate, Jesus was officially declared as “Son of God”. At this gathering many aspects of Christianity were also debated and voted upon.
To bring harmony between followers of Jesus and orthodox religion of “Nature Worship or Sun Worship” King Constantine decided Transmogrification, Hence the symbols and festive days of Sun worship were converged in Christian symbology. The day of summer solstice i.e. 24th June became the Festive day of St. John the Baptist. The day of winter solstice i.e. 27th December became the Festive day of St. John the Evangelist. Egyptian sun discs became the halos of Catholics saints. Pictogram of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became Virgin Mary nursing baby Jesus. The day of 25th December the date of birth of the pre-Christian God Mithras – also known as the “Son of God” became the date of birth of Jesus Christ. By the way 25th December is also the date of birth of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. Originally, Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagans veneration day of the sun. To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun gods weekly tribute to ‘Sun’ day.
King Constantine was himself a life long pagan but was also a very good businessman. He could see that Christianity was on the rise, and he simply backed the winning horse. Historians still marvel at the brilliance with which Constantine converted the sun worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a kind of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties.
Saint John the Baptist has as much to do with 24th June & Freemasonry as Buddha.
24th June an Ancient festival day.
24th June 1894, Olympics games are revived by french man Pierre de Coubertin who established International Olympic Committee.
Another parallel to the Masonic brotherhood day of 24th June was the day the Olympics were held in those days. The pentacle is a pre-Christian symbol that relates to Nature worship. The Pentacle is representative of Goddess Venus or Planet Venus. Planet Venus traced a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every eight years. The ancients were astonished by the drawing of pentacle in sky by planet Venus that Venus and Pentacle were regarded as symbol of perfection and beauty. As a tribute to the magic of Venus, the Greeks used her eight year cycle to organize their Olympics Games. The Olympics started out in 776 BC as a religious festival honoring the chief Greek Deity Zeus. Originally staged in Olympia, near Zeus’s sanctuary, the games are Pagan origins. As the people had to come from far of places, the games were held on 24th June which was the longest day of the year i.e. summer solstice. These continued for twelve centuries until A.D. 393 when Roman Emperor Theodosius declared “Games Over”. The modern Olympics were revived on 24th June 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin after a hiatus of 1500 years. Nowadays the modern Olympics still follows the half year cycle of Planet Venus. The five pointed star of Pentacle had almost become the official seal of Olympic Games but was replaced at the last moment. Its five points exchanged with five rings to better reflect the games spirit of harmony and inclusion.
24th June and Masonic History.
24th June 1314 was the end of Battle of Bannockburn.
Like it or not the History of Knight Templars cannot be disassociated from the history of Freemasons. I had stated in my News letter S. No 1/4 of 1st October, 2006 the history of Knight Templars till October 13, 1307-1314. As Templars were being persecuted across Europe because of Papal Bull, the Scotland was one of the countries were they took refuge. Papal Bulls were meaningless there. King Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated by Rome in 1305 after murdering John Comyn, his rival for the Scottish throne. Scotland was at war with England.
On 24th June 1314, King Robert the Bruce defeated the English King Edward II at Bannockburn by Stirling Castle. According to an account written by a Scottish chronicler, British armies who were numerically and strategically much superior to the Scottish army were on top until, after hours of fierce fighting, the Scottish ranks were swollen by the sudden appearance of a troop of skilled warriors who were infact Knight Templars, offering their services in gratitude to King Robert for offering them safe haven from Catholic persecution. The English army saw them and believing that another army much better trained then their own English army has joined the Scottish army, the British army ran away leading to victory for King Robert the Bruce on 24th June 1314.
24th June 1717, four London lodges decided to form Grand Lodge of England. (There were more than four lodges in London at that time and there were more lodges outside London i.e. in York etc.) These four lodges that were afterwards named Lodge No 1, which met at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St Paul’s Churchyard; Lodge No 2, which met at the Crown alehouse in Parker’s Lane, near Drury Lane; Lodge No 3 which met at Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Convent Garden and Lodge No 4, which met at the Rummer and Grapes tavern in Channel Row, Westminster. The members of these four lodges held a meeting at Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Convent Garden, the meeting place of Lodge No 3, in February 1717 and decided to form a Grand Lodge. They met on the annual festival day of 24th June, 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in St Paul’s Churchyard, the meeting place of Lodge No 1, and by show of hands elected Anthony Sayer, ‘Gentleman’ as their Grand Master. Next Year, on 24th June 1718, Brother Payne was elected Grand Master. On 24th June 1719, John Theophilus Desaguliers was elected Grand Master. Then on 24th June 1720, Payne was elected Grand Master for the second time. On 24th June 1721, the Duke of Montagu was chosen as Grand Master, and thereafter for the next 278 years every Grand Master has always been either a noble man or a member of the royal Family. At this meeting of the Grand Lodge held on 24th June 1720, it was decided that the Grand wardens should no longer be elected, but should be appointed by the Grand Master, who could appoint a deputy Master and two Grand wardens to assist him.
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