[Square & Compasses] width=80

Letter of the month: July 1997

From: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
To: apm@netmatters.co.uk
Subject: Re: Secret Handshakes 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 28 Jul 1997 22:31:21 -0000."
             <33DD1DB5.A3B1B34D@netmatters.co.uk> 
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 17:51:52 EDT
} Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 22:31:21 +0000
} From: Alex Paul Marsh 
} Reply-To: apm@netmatters.co.uk
} Organization: APM Web Design
} To: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
} Subject: Secret Handshakes
} 
} Could you tell me if mansonary is so open why do you have a secret
} handshake?           ^^^^^^^^^

I assume you mean "Masonry". (And if you think spelling doesn't matter, how many letters do you get addressed to "Axle Pula"?)

Anyway, our modes of recognition are customs from the days before fax machines and photo IDs. Back in the Middle Ages, most craftsmen worked in the same town their whole lives, so their qualifications were known to the people who hired them or bought from them.

Free Masons however were not bound to a city. When a new building project got underway (cathedral, castle, etc), stone masons would travel to the site. The master of masons would hire men for the project, and those they hired had to have a way to prove that they were trained apprentices or fully-experienced journeymen (a/k/a "fellows of the craft"). Therefore the masonic guilds taught their apprentices and fellow crafts certain signs of recognition that would serve to identify them.

We keep that custom today

  • to remind us of our roots,
  • to teach us that circumspection is appropriate in matters of personal and spiritual growth,
  • to teach us to respect the personal matters that one Mason shares with another in friendship or advice,
  • because it's fun, and adds a little touch of mystery to our otherwise dull, impoverished, and worthless lives.

Anyway, as of next year, we're giving up secret Masonic handshakes, and getting some secret Masonic milkshakes instead.

Thanks for asking,


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu> | Brotherhood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not
| P.O.Box 505, Cambridge, MA 02142 | PM: Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA (2nd Mon)
| ofc: 617.253-0184 fax: 253-8665  | & Mt. Scopus Lodge, Malden, MA (4th Wed)
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/| 
|      "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|       whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|       or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
+===========================================================================

From: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
To: apm@netmatters.co.uk
Subject: Re: Secret Handshakes 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Tue, 29 Jul 1997 11:59:45 -0000."
             <33DDDB30.D4BE589F@netmatters.co.uk> 
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 11:52:13 EDT


} From: apm@netmatters.co.uk
} Subject: Re: Secret Handshakes 
} Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 11:59:45 -0000
} 
} You also use the handshake to get the jobs that you want!

Now that is just foolish nonsense.

There is no way I can prove that to you, but it is so.

If anyone came to me and tried to use his status as a Mason to get a job here, I would assume that he was using that because he was actually unqualified and I would be almost certain to NOT hire him.

Masonry is not intended for business and trade favoritism, and the Masons I know both here in the US and in England would be quite offended if someone tried to use it for such.

Of course your mind is probably already made up, so you will not believe me, even though you have no real proof otherwise. But I felt I would do you the courtesy of one followup answer.

I will not argue further with you however, as your tone shows that you are probably not an interested questioner, but most likely a disputing cowan.


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu> | Brotherhood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not
| P.O.Box 505, Cambridge, MA 02142 | PM: Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA (2nd Mon)
| ofc: 617.253-0184 fax: 253-8665  | & Mt. Scopus Lodge, Malden, MA (4th Wed)
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/| 
|      "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|       whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|       or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
+===========================================================================

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