American Indian Freemasonry
By Arthur C. Parker, 32°
A. A. S. R. N. M. J. U. S. A.
By Arthur C. Parker, 32°
A. A. S. R. N. M. J. U. S. A.
Arthur C. Parker
To Ga-je-wa, Ho-doin-jai-ey and Ho-skwi-sa-onh, three friends who have done most to lead me on in the journey where I have received more light in Masonry, and whose brotherly love and affection have demonstrated to many a wayfarer the potency of the Masonic tie, this account of American Indian Freemasonry is dedicated, by their friend
In the beginning God created heaven and earth.—Genesis.
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set.—Solomon.
Speculative masonry is so far interwoven with religion as to lay us under the strongest obligations to pay that rational homage to the Deity, which at once constitutes our duty and our happiness. It leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of creation and inspires them with the most exalted ideas of the perfection of the divine Creator.—Samuel Cole.
We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers and has been handed down from father to son. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive, to love one another and be united.—Red Jacket.
It is more than probable that the diversified customs, institutions and religions of the several nations of the world are less dissimilar in their origin than is often imagined. The differences arose in the progress of time, the shifting scenes of climate, condition and event. But the original ideas of existence and the laws that pertain to all created things are pretty much the same among all the tribes of mankind.—Westropp, Ancient Symbol Worship.
To the Iroquois
Beautiful thy meditations
In thy consecrated forests,
Fragrant in their odorous incense
When,—though groping in the darkness,—
Thou wert lifted up and strengthened,
In thy earnest firm endeavor,
Nearer drawn to one Great Spirit
In thy ardor of devotion!
By Arthur C. Parker, 32°
A TALL bronze skinned guide led the way over an ice rutted road. The journey toward the mysterious East had been commenced. Following the guide in single file were four and yet three, for one was the conductor in whose presence the three were assured safety from all danger not of their own making. In all there were five, for such is the order of the journey.
It was in the land of the Senecas, those most powerful confederates of the famous Six Nations of the Iroquois. To this land in the Valley of the Cattaraugus had journeyed the Commander in Chief of Buffalo Consistory with three other members of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry. The time was midwinter in the moon of Nis-ko-wuk-ni, the appointed time when the great Thanksgiving of the Senecas takes place in a nine day celebration. During this season of gratitude to the Great Spirit the various fraternities and ceremonial associations hold sessions and a few of them give public exhibitions. Not so, however, with one whose work is all in secret, and into whose chamber only those purified and loyal are admitted.
The guide led on and the four followed, three being candidates for initiation. The glimmering light held by the guide cast an uncertain ray upon the trail that penetrated the moonless winter night. It was not an easy path nor was there sound footing on this trail to that which was sought. At length a lodge was reached. Behind drawn curtains there were faint gleams of light. Four sharp knocks were given and the door opened a crack while a sentinel stepped out to examine those who craved admission. A curious passerby might have seen
Diagram showing the form of the Lodge
of the Ancient Guards of the
by a hurried glance that the form of the lodge was an oblong, that there were two altars, upon one of which was placed a tray on incense and a heap of strange paraphernalia. But the door soon closed, and hours afterward the sounds of a peculiar chant, the blend of wild forest sounds mingled with a strange rushing noise, like that of a great cataract, floated out from the walls of the lodge-house. What was happening within?
Is There an Undiscovered Masonry?
When the traveler or the ethnologist returns from his journey to one of the world's out of the way places and comes again into the society of his friends and brothers, he finds that there are certain subjects that are of perennial interest and that men are curious to know what he has learned of them. Not the least among these subjects is Freemasonry. It is not the Freemason alone who is curious of Freemasonry; every man who enjoys the society of his fellow men and who sees in the symbols that are found in the world about him moral lessons that admonish him to virtue, sees also in all Cosmos the potentialities of Masonry. Thus the student who has penetrated the strange lands and places of Earth is called upon to tell what other races and peoples know of mystic orders that bind men to morality and brotherly devotion.
In America we are asked what the native Red Man has of Masonry and if he has signs, grips and words like those of the ancient craft. Oftentimes the question comes direct: "Are American Indians Masons?" Rumors have long been afloat that there are tribes that have Masonic lodges and that Masons traveling amongst them have been greeted by familiar signs and words and even led into lodges where ceremonies were conducted in due form. Is it then true that in some way our ancient brethren have traveled in unknown parts and among scarcely known people and have communicated the rituals that we hold must be inviolate; or that they have issued dispensations to these veiled lodges by which they may work under competent jurisdiction? How much of Masonry do these extra-limital Masons know, and how well do they keep and conceal from the profane their secret arts? If, perchance, they did not receive their Masonry from moderns, where in the annals of antiquity did they discover it?
Such are the questions that are directed to the traveler who has observed the customs of the outer-peoples of the world. In asking such questions the interrogator assumes more than he may rightly do, but then, he only desires a correct impression and the true facts of the case.
What Is Freemasonry?
Let us reflect a little. Let us ask ourselves what Masonry is, for upon our answer to this question depends our interpretation of extra-limital or universal Masonry.
Is Masonry only the operation of a certain ritual; is Masonry only the arbitrary practise of a rite within the walls of a lodge, without relation to conduct in the world of men? Is Masonry in its essence only a material act or a spiritual impulse? If we admit that the essence of Masonry lies in the practise of its moral and philosophical teachings, then we may be prepared to believe that these truths may be clothed in diverse raiment and colored by varied hues, these depending, like the color and fragrance of rose upon the air it breathes, the water it drinks and the soil from which it springs, as well as upon its tetrakinetic impulses. It is not the legend or the allegory that is essential in universal Freemasonry, it is the moral and the truth that is pointed out. It matters not what brings the truth to the mind and conscience so long as virtuous action follows the special truths that have been inculcated by the rite.
Let competent Masons remember where they first became Masons, though their eyes had not beheld or their minds conceived the beauties of a single Masonic rite. Yet having once seen and understood, their previous beliefs were shaped by the ritual, a plan of action given and the power of true faith confirmed.
Masons are thus taught that there is an inherent Masonry in men capable of becoming Masons and that there is an inductive Masonry into which inherent Masons are led, to be taught the special principles of Masonry by means of such rites as the experience and the wisdom of our ancient brethren have deemed as truly Masonic in the accepted sense.
What Is the Natural Masonry of the Red Man?
Whether our American Indians in their native life are capable of becoming Masons must be determined by an examination of their beliefs. Whether they have a form of inherent or natural Masonry must be determined by an examination of their fraternities and secret organizations. We must also make this examination if we are to discover whether or not they have an accepted Masonry built up through the practise of the rites that we observe.
The last proposition we may dismiss, for what means had the red man of knowing of the special rites of an order that up to 1717 was in a state of crystallization and evolution and whose lectures had not yet become fixed? A thorough examination will reveal that the Indians had indeed a Freemasonry but not the Accepted Masonry. But we may perhaps understand our Masonry better if we understand more of the Indian's Freemasonry.
First let us examine the inherent capacity of the higher members of the various Indian tribes to receive the teachings of Masonry, and such of their fundamental beliefs as may be in harmony with it. With the Iroquoian family of Indians at least, the sacred number is four. We find that there are four basic beliefs of the Iroquois. Other tribes and nations of Red Men held these same truths as supremely evident.
1. GOD. The Red Man believed a Supreme Deity. Many authorities have denied this, perhaps for three reasons. Confusion of terms may have led to misunderstanding. The words that the explorer translated gods, spirits, powers, may have seemed to have precluded a Supreme God, Spirit or Power. But, we may well believe that in some instances at least the ignorance of the informant or of the inquirer or both led to the failure to discover a statement of a Supreme Power. And, thirdly, sad to say, in some cases there seems to be a prejudice against admitting that natural man can know of one God, in order to emphasize the degradation of the unregenerate. But though the native Indian spoke of spirits of nature and of gods, those who were instructed by the sages of their race knew that there was one Supreme Spirit who governed and directed all others. Whether it was the Gitche Manitou of the Algonquin, Tirawa of the Pawnee, or the Haweniu of the Iroquois, the same idea prevailed,—that of one Great Spirit. The Indian would no more think of denying the existence of a Supreme Being than he would of disputing his own existance. The first presupposed the latter and thus with the religious leaders and the initiate the Great Spirit was called Our Creator. The Great Architect of the Universe to the Indian was the Maker of All.
2. MORALITY. The practise of virtue was demanded of every red man. He must be just in his dealings with his fellows, truthful, charitable, considerate. He must also be stoical, slow to anger and slow to admit of personal discomfort. He must at all times recognize his dependance upon the Maker of all and was taught to enter upon no great or important undertaking without first thanking the Maker for the strength that gave him power to perform the deed he willed. Thus the Pawnee sang in his ritual:
Tira wa, harken! Mighty One,
Above us in blue, silent sky!
We, standing, wait thy bidding here.
The Iroquois recognizing his helplessness without the presence of his Maker waged his holy wars against the jealous tribes about him in order to bring them into the League of the Everlasting Peace. The Iroquois were assailing the forts of the Eries and calling out for a surrender. The haughty Eries yelled back in defiance, "We shall not surrender so long as our strong weapons fight for us." The Iroquois War Captain replied, "Then surrender for it is the Master of Life who fights for us!" And the Eries went down to a shameful defeat. So, before he acts the Iroquois chants his prayer:
You, the All Maker,
All high Above
Best Friend of people
We ask you to help us,
We implore your favor.
3. IMMORTALITY. One of the strongest beliefs of the red man was in a future life. Call the place of that life what you will,—the "World Beyond the Sky", the "Happy Hunting Ground", or the "Abode of the Creator",—to the red man it was heaven. That present conduct would affect the future life was believed.
4. BROTHERHOOD. If there is one belief above another that affects the conduct of the Indian it is his belief in the universal kinship of all created things. Man was not only the brother of man because a supreme Father had created both, but every animal, plant and rock, as well as every force of nature was believed to sustain a certain relation to man. The deer and the bear were brothers, and "very near man." The trees had spirits and so did the cliffs and the waterfalls. Thus the red man thought it quite rational to speak to them as friends and brothers. No animal was killed in a wanton way and every animal slain for meat or pelt was propitiated by a chant asking its pardon for the deed, since it had seemed a necessity for the hunter to have the meat and skin of the "brother." Then a little sacrifice was given, incense was burned and a gift to the spirit of the slain animal buried beneath the ashes of the fire. To the red man the creatures of the earth were kinsmen, but in a different form, as suited the Creator's purpose, and none might be destroyed without reason and sacrifice. Even the pharmaceutical plants of the forest were not taken without a thank offering and the planting of the seed in the hole from which the root or stem had been pulled.
This feeling of fraternity worked out in many other ways, as by the organization of numerous fraternities and societies, by the knitting of the clan system and by the ties of a complex social organization. There were binding laws and customs that governed every social action and regulated conduct. So much impressed was Rodger Williams with the kindness and courteous action of the Indians among whom he lived that he wrote:
If Nature's Sons, both wild and tame,
Humane and courteous be:
How ill becomes it Sonnes of God
To want Humanity?
It was the influence of this feeling of brotherhood that made hospitality the universal rule among the Indians. Every stranger who came with honest intent found a welcome and a home. There was no hunger that all did not share, no feast that was not open to everyone. No orphan need fear the lack of home or care for his clansmen provided for him. Among many tribes the custom of having a sworn brother was observed. Each was responsible for the punishment of any encroachment or injury upon the other. Companies of these brothers often united in associations, which in no uncertain sense were fraternities.
How Did American Indian Freemasonry Originate?
Among many of the Indian tribes there were ceremonial societies and fraternities that exercised a considerable influence. The Jesuits in their missionary tours among the Hurons early in the 17th century made note of the cofraternities among the tribes of Canada. In later years the publications of several learned societies and institutions have given us the records of ethnologists and anthropologists by which we learn of the very great number of native societies, associations and fraternities. We cannot mention them all, but it would be a mistake not to call attention to the fraternities of the Zuni and other pueblo dwelling peoples. These had elaborate lodge rooms or kivas and their altars were decorated and dedicated to the powers of nature. They taught their initiates the philosophies of their respective cults and exacted certain promises and obligations. Among the Pawnees were a number of important societies, one of the most important being the Hako. The Navahos had their cults and the Ojibwa of the north had their Mide Wiwin. Likewise the Iroquois had and still have their Ho-noh-che-noh-gaah, their Ha-dih-dos and their Society of Charm Holders, and many others.
The Indians in some instances drew moral lessons and analogies from the art of building their long houses and other dwellings, but for the most part their symbolism was drawn from the study of the Temple of Nature. They knew of no Hebrew legends or records, and the names of Zerubbabel,On the other hand, there were societies that used sacred words, some of which might be mentioned only at low breath and some never except within the lodge. Because of the secrecy and sacredness of the meaning of some words they lost their meaning and were used , Hiram of Tyre, or of Aaron were strange to them.
The Lodge of the Eagle Society, from a drawing by Jesse Cornplanter, a Seneca artist
There can be no doubt that certain Indian societies had secret words that their members might use in conversation or as signals. The possession of ritualistic words that belonged exclusively to the cult or fraternity was jealously guarded. With the Indians words had a significance entirely apart from their meaning. Words were things; names were things. So deeply was this doctrine inculcated that a man's very name could be taken from him by the proper authorities. He could likewise be forbidden to utter certain words, because words and names were property, and might be used or shared only by those justly entitled to receive the same.
The Masonry of the Indians as builders and as philosophers dealing with moral truths grew out of their experiences with nature and with the actions of human kind. The wise men of the tribes knew that a band of men pledged to uphold morality and to enact rituals showing its advantages would constitute a dynamic influence.
Was the Red Man a Craftsman and Builder?
Except in the south-west the Indians erected no great buildings of stone. In the north-west, especialy along the coast, there were elaborate buildings of wood, built in the familiar log cabin style, but having carved pillars, posts and heraldic devices. Not strange to relate, perhaps, is the fact that in these two areas where building and craftsmanship was so highly specialized, numerous fraternities existed. In other regions, especially in the area of the great plains, the dwellings were more simple. On the east coast and extending well into the Mississippi valley on the eastern side many of the Indian nations were village and town dwellers living in bark covered houses, some of them large and roomy. The Iroquoian peoples, for example, had "long houses" built of poles, tree trunks and bark. Their towns were surrounded by stockades of tree trunks, sometimes three rows being used. Unlike the Indians of the plains who must move as the buffalo herds moved, the east coast Indians were more or less sedentary. They were thus able to build up a compact form of government and to evolve a well knit system of social organization.
In digging into the earth where once arose these ancient towns of the red men we discover the durable artifacts made by their craftsmen. Working only with tools of stone and bone they made many beautiful objects, the form and symmetry of which excites the admiration and applause of modern observers. The archeological museums of America contain numerous examples of the Indian's handiwork. From these things we learn that the native American of old had a keen eye, a skillful hand and a sense of balance and harmony of form that is scarcely equalled today. Take any well made and polished hatchet-head of stone (sometimes called celts, and often erroneously "skinning stones"), and by placing it on a smooth, level surface you will discover that it can be spun on one side, the axis being plainly visible and the balance perfect. Here is a demonstration of a studied attempt to perfect the art of balance and of symmetry.
The Indian's knowledge of form is proven by an inspection of their implements. They produced polished spheres, oviods, crescents, circles, squares, circular disks, triangles, hemi-spheres, pyramids, etc. In drawing geometrical designs, however, they seldom went beyond an octagon. The Indian, it will be seen, had his form of the plumb, the level, the square and the compasses.
There will be some who will state that the Indians never made objects that reveal craftsmanship but that such things are the work of the "mound builders." Such persons are not well informed of modern research, for if they were they would know that the mound builders were Indians and that the old time theory of the mysterious "Mound Builders," is an exploded myth. Indians built the mounds and made all aboriginal artifacts found in them. Documents have been discovered that prove that the French and Spanish explorers saw the Indians erecting mounds. All archeological authorities now know that America had no "mysterious race that was vanquished by the Indians."
What Was the Red Man's Religious Life?
It would be an interesting thing to trace out the various forms of religious belief held by the American natives, but though there are those competent to write upon this subject, it is so vast in its extent that no individual writer has yet dared the attempt. We have briefly outlined the essential features of the Indian's belief, but of the numerous customs and rites we have yet suggested little. Perhaps an outline of the religious rites of a single nation or stock will suffice. Let us take the Iroquois.
To the Iroquois the world was the handiwork of a Creator. He was known under various names,—Great Ruler, Good Mind, Sky Dweller, Creator. It was believed that life came to the earth from the heaven world in the form of a woman ready to give to life a girl child. The great Turtle of the black chaos seeing a rift in the sky above called out to the water creatures of the darkness and told them of the event bidding them to try to bring some substance that would grow if placed upon his shell. At length after many creatures had perished one deposited the earthy substance on the turtle's back and the substance grew. Then the night birds flew upward and received the sky-mother on an island formed by their interlaced wings. With great gentleness she was placed upon the earthy back of the Turtle. As she rested there a girl child was born who immediately grew and became mature. All was dark until the sky-mother stuck the stalk of the Flower of Light in the soil.
The first born then commenced to go round and round the island finding that it became larger each time she tried the journey. One of her latter journeys took longer than others for the island had grown very near a place called East. She paused on the shore and a warm wind came and whispered to her. She felt it encircle her and lift her from her feet but her heart was thrilled with a strange ecstacy. She went back to the camp of her mother and told of the strange experience, but the Sky Mother only wept.
After a season the First-Born-of-Earth gave birth to two boys, one called the Light One and the other the Dark One who had a heart of flint. In giving birth to the twins the mother died leaving them to the care of the Sky Mother. The boys grew to maturity immediately and demanded to know their father. One was kind and built things; the other was ferocious and destroyed anything that came his way. The Light One received the name of Good Minded and the evil one was called Bad Minded. Good Minded cared for the grave of his mother and watered it because the Sky Mother had told him to do so. He watched over it with great devotion until he was rewarded by seeing plants spring from the grave. The tobacco came from the head, the corn from her breasts, the pumpkin from her waist and the edible tubers and beans from her feet. Good Mind then asked his mother where he should go to find his father and was told to journey to the east sea and cross to a mountain rising from the water. This, after great difficulty, he did. As he stood at the base of the mountain he called, "My Father, where art thou?" And the reply came, "A Son of Mine shall cast the great cliffs from the mountain's edge to the summit of this peak." Good Mind clasped the cliffs and flung them afar over the top of the mountain. Then came the voice, "A Son of Mine shall swim the cataract from the base to the top." Good Minded flung himself into the merciless current and swam his way upward to the top of a ledge near the mountain top. Then again the voice sounded, "A Son of Mine shall wrestle with the hurricane." A great wind swept about Good Minded as if to sweep him from his unstable footing, but he wrestled with the wind though he could not see it nor tell where to grasp it, until the hurricane cried out, "Enough for you have exhausted my breath." Once more the voice sounded, "A Son of Mine shall brave the fire of hottest flame. Come!" From the mountainside burst a sheet of flame that burned and blinded Good Minded, but he pushed through the twisting arms and ran up the mountain to the summit. There in repose was a being so infinitely brilliant that Good Minded could scarcely see.
"I am thy Father," said the Light, "Thou art My Son."
Then the Father gave to Good Mind the power to make the earth grow with all manner of plants and trees. In a package he placed the magical dust that would become animal life. Long the Father spoke to his Son and then bade him depart.
When Good Minded returned to the Earth Island and told his Grandmother, the Sky Woman, where he had been and what power he had received, Bad Minded became very jealous and by an ingenious plan sought to destroy him. But after a lengthy battle the Bad Minded was vanquished and put in a deep cavity in the earth along with all the perverted and distorted creatures he had made from the good creatures. And the evil creatures were banished because they chose to be evil rather than as they had been created.
Then the Good Minded took the face of his mother and flung it into the heavens and it became the moon. And at that time a new light far more brilliant appeared; it was the Sun. So came the sun to rule the day and the moon to give hope to the night.
And when all things had been perfected, Good Minded looked into a pool of water and saw his own face. He took a handful of clay and molded his image and it became a man.
There were many pre-humans on the Earth then and they were subdued and told their function. They were forbidden to molest men. When all this was finished, the Sky Mother said to her grandson, "We must return to the world above the sky, our Ga-o-ya-geh." So did they return to the Father but they ever watch over us for we are their children and because they were we are.
Such is the Indian's Genesis, and though briefly told, there will be few who cannot see in it a wonderful symbolism and a real recognition of man's divine origin. The last great test of the Good Minded, we observe, is not alone to overcome earth and water and fire and air, which are material, but to banish evil and all its distortions.
By a series of religious tales, such as this, the Iroquois were taught the great essentials of moral life and a recognition of man's relation to his Creator. The lessons of these unwritten gospels teach Fortitude, Loyalty, Patriotism, Tolerance, Fraternity and Gratitude.
The Iroquois was religious in every act of his life, for was not the Creator in all that he had created? Sin thus became a thing that man could commit against himself, against his fellows, human and non-human, and against the interests of the tribe. It was not believed that the Creator could be sinned against for he was above an injury by man. Nor was it possible for a sin to be forgiven for effect always follows action. What we have done we have done and not even divinity can say it was not done, nor can the effects be wiped away. For the guilty there was no escape through forgiveness by the Creator. Sins against self and society must be paid for by restitution in some form.
The religious ceremonies of the Iroquois were many but the great ceremonies were those of the seasonal thanksgiving, of which there were six each year. Gratitude to the Creator was the underlying principle of the red man's religion. One of the stanzas in the Thanksgiving rite is:
For all that He has Created and should offer thanks,
For all the things from below up to himself in the sky-world,
We who are here gathered in assembly thank our Creator,—
Yea, all his creatures who are living here in this earth-world.
Most of the members of the various Iroquois tribes,—the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Onondaga, the Oneida and the Mohawk are now Christians, living as white men do. But so great a hold have the old rites and religion of their ancestors upon some that the old beliefs still hold among a considerable portion of the Onondagas and Senecas in New York state and Canada.The Senecas of the old belief hold their religious rites in their Long Houses, the Temples of their Faith. Here the honest student may observe these rites and determine whether a people whose religious heritage is what we have described may be called "pagan" or not. Is there not something racialy heroic in this stand of the Senecas to preserve that which is distinctive of their people? Yet, slowly, but surely the old life is fading and in time it will all be gone. The Senecas will have succumbed to the heat of the melting pot.
Sentinel of the Society of False Faces
The False Face Company is one of the most
spectacular of the Iroquois.
What you have read in the pages that have been written was told to a great Mason, long before he made his journey to the land of the Senecas and witnessed their ceremonies. The Senecas called him Ho-doin-jai-ey, the Holder of the Earth, and they invited Ho-doin-jai-ey to come as a novitiate to the Lodge of the Ancient Guards of the Mystic Potence. Two other friends of the Senecas had been invited; Ho-skwi-sa-oh and Ga-jee-wa, thus forming the mystic triangle.
Red Hand, the Brother-Friend
The candidates were told to listen. The legend of the Ancient Guards was told. The complete relation would make a lengthy document, though I am sure that you would find it a marvelous tale.
Red Hand was a young chief whose life was blameless for he was Ho-ya-di-wa-doh. He had received certain mysterious knowledge that made the covetous envy him, but so brave and kind was Red Hand that he was admired and loved by men and warriors.
Red Hand had a place where he spoke to the Great Mystery, and because the Great Mystery spoke to him he was kind to every brother of the earth,—every tree, every rock, every animal. He fed the hungry birds in winter time. When the wolves were hungry he gave them meat; when the deer were hungry he gave them grass and moss. The children loved him because he gave them trinkets; the old people were grateful to him because he knew of oils that cured their lameness; the warriors admired him because he had power to lead them against the enemy that sought to destroy them.
Down to the south country in the valley of the Ohio went a war party to punish the foe. The Leader went apart to seek the chief of the enemy and while he stood alone a poisoned arrow struck him and he fell. Then the assassin who rushed upon him demanded the secret of his power but he would not give it and so the enemy lifted his tomahawk and scalped our Leader, taking the scalp away in triumph to be dried over the lodge poles where the smoke issues forth.
A wolf lifted his nose and smelled blood. He howled to bring the pack and followed the scent to the body of a man. He looked and saw that it was Brother Friend whom he knew as Red Hand. He called in a different note and there came all the chiefs of the animals and even the chiefs of all the great plants and trees. They looked at the body of their friend. Then they held a council as to how he should be revived. "We will give the tip of our hearts and the spark from our brains," they said. Then they sent for the scalp which the Dew Eagle brought, making it again alive by sprinkling it from the pool of dew that rests on his back. It was placed on the crown of Red Hand's head and grew fast.
One by one the greatest of created things gave up the vital parts of their beings, the tips of their hearts and the hearts of their brains. For a brother is not a friend if he will not give his life for the Brother Friend who has befriended him in great emergency. When the life sparks were reduced to dust, so small a quantity was there that all together there was only enough to fill an acorn cup. Then the other chiefs of the animals and trees and plants and birds gathered around while the wolf took a cup of bark and dipping it with the current of a spring, dropped into the water three tiny grains of the dust of life. This water of life was poured into the mouth of Red Hand and he moved. A compress of the water healed his wounds. Then the chosen band commenced to chant the ritual of the Ancient Guardians of the Mystic Potence. During the night of blackness they sang, reciting the life and adventures of Red Hand. He awoke but lay still with his eyes shut. He listened and learned the song. The wings of the eagles lifted him and bore him to a great waterfall. He heard the rushing of strong waters thundering down upon the craigs below. The whipporwill called and a light floated over the darkness.
Then the circle clustered closer and the brother who is the Bear touched the breast of Red Hand. All stood erect. The Bear grasped the hand of the Leader who was to be raised, though slain The Bear grasped his hand and by a strong grip raised Red Hand to his feet. All was darkness, but Red Hand lived. * * * *
The Ancient Guards called, each with his own peculiar cry. Red Hand recognized his friends. * * * *
Yiewanoh, who has passed through the initiation of the Ancient Guards, tells us the story of Red Hand.
It is a night of darkness inpenetrable. There is no sound save the waterfall and the river. In the forest the Leader, patient and listening, is waiting for the sign promised him. Will it be given? Yes, for the Birds and Beasts do not lie!
The animal council raising to life the founder of the Little Water Society
The Promise of Power
The Leader, who is Red Hand, trusts and waits until a strong voice from the darkness comes, saying:
"Hast thou celansed thyself from human guilt and impurity?"
"I have," Red Hand replied.
"Hast thou ill will toward any of thy fellow creatures?"
"I have not."
"Wilt thou trust and obey us, keeping thyself always chaste and valorous?"
"Wilt thou hold this power with which we endow thee for thine own chosen company only?"
"Wilt thou endure death or torture in its cause?"
"Wilt thou vow this secret never to be revealed save at thy death hour?"
"Thy death hour will be revealed to thee; thou wilt be allowed to choose thy successor, and at the end of thy journey thou wilt be rewarded for faith and obedience."
There was a rushing of winds and the sound of hurrying creatures was heard. The song was renewed and then a winged light appeared. The voices were bidding him journey on.
So sings the whipporwill, "Follow me, follow me,"
So replies the Chief to him, "Yes, I will follow thee."
"See, the night is darkening, the shadows are hiding
No light to follow now," so sings the waterfall.
Forms of ceremonial and decorative brooches of silver, used by the Seneca Indians. Red Jacket wore the brooch marked a.
There in the circle of an altar was a wild maize plant. At its roots was the box holding the mystic potence that restores men to life and heals wounds.
A white flint knife lay at the roots of the maize plant and a voice called, "Slash into the stalk of the Maize!"
Our Leader cut the stalk and blood flowed from the wound. Then again a voice said, "Touch the wound with the potence." This he did and the wound immediately healed. The voice sounded again, saying:
"Guard well this mystic potence for while ye have it thy people shall endure. When it is gone they shall be no more. Go and found an order that shall know all this wisdom and preserve in the bonds of faithful brotherhood the mysteries, the chants and the will to perform the task of spreading the knowledge of the kinship of all created things."
Da neho enyayehak.
Out of the Darkness
The Order has been founded, and though many centuries have passed by, the faithful fraternity still remains. In the ritual the members impersonate the brother-friends who gave of their lives. In the mystic square in the darkness we hear their voices. The call of the birds is heard and the shrill call of the Guide bird comes toward morning to herald the promise of day. The waters thunder with deafening sound,—and so deeply do these sounds imbed themselves into the memory of the ears that it is days before they are forgotten.
During the intervals of the night at three periods the lights appear and the Brothers refresh themselves with berry juice mixed with maple sugar. The sacred incense of the O-yan-kwa is burned. The altars are covered when the light appears.
The morning song comes at last with the calling of great flocks of crows. Then appears the boar's head or perhaps that of a bear, steaming with the fragrant soup of the maize. There is a ceremonial partaking of the feast and then the O-noh-kwa is distributed. It is yet just before dawn and the company has adjourned. The session has been from the beginning of total darkness until its end.
The lodge of Neh Ho-noh-chee-noh-ga has been closed; the Ancient Guards of the Mystic Potence gather up their mystery bundles that hold the sacred Ni-ga-ni-gaaah. * * * * It is still night though the Ga-no-dah * * * * has been ended.
We wait in the darkness. Come all ye who listen!
Help us in our darkness journey, now no sun is shining;
Now no star is glowing. Come show us the pathway!
The night is not friendly; she closes her eyelids;
The moon has forgot us; we wait in the darkness.
"Follow me, follow me,"—so sings the whipporwill.
"Yes, I am following," so the Chief answers him!
Da-Ne-Hoh. What Has Happened Has Happened.
A tall bronze-skinned guide led the way over an ice rutted road. The journey from the mysterious East had commenced. Following the Guide in single file were four, and there were four. It was the land of the Senecas, those most powerful confederates of the Six Nations of the Iroquois. To this land in the Valley of the Cattaraugus had journeyed the Commander-in-Chief of Buffalo Consistory and three other members of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and now they were on their way back to the city that rises where the ancient Seneca town of Do-sho-we once had its site. These pale-faced members of the race that came and possessed the red man's land had been adopted brothers and initiated into the highest rites of the Senecas.
Little has been told; the door has only been held ajar the slightest space and no secrets have been revealed. There were feather wands and deer skins, but no purple robes or crowns. Yet, who shall say that the Senecas have not the thread of the legend of Osiris or that they have not an inherent Freemasonry?
Egyptian diagram of the raising of Osiris
The Three Initiates in the Ancient Guards of the Mystic Potence
|George L. Tucker||George K. Staples||Everett R. Burmrster|
A PRACTICAL POSTSCRIPT
Our knowledge of remote antiquity is derived not so much from the traditions that have been handed down by the ancients as from the enduring relics of craftsmanship that have survived. It was the poetwho wrote:
The forms they hewed from living stone
Survive the waste of years alone
And mingled with their ashes show
What greatness perished long ago.
In the halls of Buffalo Consistory, A. A. S. R., is a splendid collection of Indian artifacts collected from the ancient forts, village sites and burial places of the Indians who lived in western New York from early to recent times. This collection brought together through the unceasing efforts of George L. Tucker, constitutes a museum of antiquity and illustrates the handiwork of the American Indians. It has grown under the patronage of George K. Staples who has looked with sympathy upon its development. Many scores of fine specimens have been added to this collection by Everett R. Burmaster of Irving, N. Y., a field archaeologist of rare ability and insight. Today the Tucker Collection is sought by archaeologists and studied because of its interesting and unique character.
There is an intimate connection between archaeology and Masonry. The archaeologist finds the lost cornerstones of history and with his trowel unearths records that history has failed to write. The archaeologist gives us new knowledge of our ancient brethren wherever they were distributed over the earth. The archaeologist points out the basic lessons of history for it is he alone who has explored the sub-cellars of the temple of civilization.
Every relic that is found on the sites where once lived the primitive peoples of the world is a lost letter syllable or word. The archaeologist brings these parts together and is able to interpret in a measure the lost story of tribes and races.
It is most fitting that there should be a collection of ancient artifacts in the Buffalo Consistory. It gives the members a rare opportunity to read the life and to understand the thought of ancient man. The collection should grow and every friend of science should feel it a privilege to make the collection grow. How can this be better done than by depositing in the archives of this museum some lithic substance as a memorial that we of today feel our appreciation of a stalwart effort to create a memorial to the craftsmen of past ages? Every man and Mason who places into this Foundation a stone assists in building a real temple wherein will be preserved the truths that antiquity has left as our inheritance. We who have the fragments of missing history have this opportunity. It is a Masonic opportunity to which the writer as a student of anthropology, respectfully invites your interest.
If this call is rightly received and there is a real response there is no reason why Buffalo should not have a Masonic Museum of Archaeology and History that will be worthy of Masonry in Buffalo and will afford students a Mecca where they may receive more light.
Arthur C. Parker.