Saturday, February 23, 2008

Masonic

George Washington: Freemason

A few weeks ago, I drove out to Alexandria and visited the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. The memorial pays homage to America's first president and most prominent Freemason, George Washington, and includes a museum with artifacts from the Washington family that were given to the Alexandria Lodge after Mr. and Mrs. Washington had died.

A visit to the memorial can include a one-hour tour, if you time it right. Having grown up Mormon and being a lapsed card-carrying member, the tour was a little funky doodle, let me tell ya. For those not in the know, Joseph Smith--the founder of Mormonism--was a Scottish Rite Freemason (as opposed to a York Rite Freemason) who borrowed some of the elements of Masonic rituals and incorporated them into Mormon temple ritual. Nothing like seeing the source for certain religious elements from your church outside the setting you're accustomed to seeing it in! Surreal is the best I can do to describe it.

Anyway--this statue of George Washington in his Masonic regalia is in the main hall of the memorial (click on the image for more detail.) In addition to the tour, you can also see the Alexandria Lodge hall, the Andrew Jackson Lodge hall, a replica of the original lodge, and--if you take the one hour tour--the observation deck where the views are stunning!

My favorite two comments from the docent (who happened to be a woman) before my tour:

"Masonry takes a good man and makes him better."

"My friends ask me how I can be part of an organization that doesn't include women and I tell them, 'Who wants to hang out with the guys anyway?!'"

Sound familiar?

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential

11 comments:

Di said...

Oh lordy, that docent's comment, my eyes are rolling copiously.

I can't see any regalia in that photo, but it's a cool shot, Ms Photog. :-)

JulieAnn Henneman said...

Sounds VERY familiar. But apparently there are a lot of women like that. Oh wait, we get to have BABIES, that's right...silly, heathen me...

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Di: Click on the picture and it will open as a larger image. George is wearing an apron and a sash.

Julie: Riiiiiight.

ME said...

The Masons also have a separate women's organization called Eastern Star (or something like that).

Couldn't say if the Masons also recite that separate-but-equal stuff like the Mo folks in an attempt to make that sound plausible.(You're equal because...we say you are!)

Jess said...

Your photos get me, every time. I am so impressed with how thoroughly you know/see DC.

Cele said...

My grandmother is Eastern Star, ohmigod, her hideous husband (oh she's my adopted grandma) was an abusive male chauvinist pig, so Masons have never stood in good with me and their secret handshaking ways...

The pic is just damn cool.

D.C. Confidential said...

ME: The docent was an ES. What was also interesting was how circumspect she was about Masonry and its rituals. (Not that I was looking for her to reveal them. I respect the sociological place of ritual in religious and secular life.) It was so reminiscent of talking to Mormons about the temple as a medium of ritual and covenant.


Jess: Thank you! There are more on my other blog. I try to post a photo a day or run a series. I'd like to try my hand at people and event photography, too, just to see what it's like, but I think I need to get a grown up camera first.


Cele: Yeah, I admit, I sort of chaffed at the disenfranchisement underlying all the supposed goodness. But then I chaff at that with any organization that's patriarchly top heavy.

Anonymous said...

I never understood what the damn aprons were for, or how they got he-man patriarchal men to wear them.

Cool pic. I had no idea that existed. Wonder if the opportunity will arise for me to tell my hubby about that one.

- Phoebe

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Phoebe: Interestingly, in the Scottish Rite, the aprons have an all-seeing-eye on them (like the one found on the back of the $1 bill. Not like the one in...oh, never mind. You know what I mean!) In the York Rite, they have a skull and crossbones on them. Personally, I think I'll take fig leaves any day over a seeing eye or skull and crossbones...

Anonymous said...

One-eyed snake, you mean?

Yeah, that would be wierd. Maybe tea bags would be nicer -- or a set of golf balls? Something that says,
"I've got some big kadonkadonks under this here apron."

Can I say that on your blog? You can erase this if I've crossed a line.

- Phoebe

j.m. tewkesbury said...

Phoebe: *Snort* Bawahahahaaaa...

Yes, you can say that on my blog.