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Sztuka królewska. Historia i myśl wolnomularstwa na przestrzeni dziejów

Norbert Wójtowicz (ed.)

Published in Poland, Wrocław 1997, Wydawnictwo GAJT s.c.; 111pp 205 x 145mm; PAPERBACK; ISBN 83-900696-3-6

Topic of this book is „Royal Art”, about which Tadeusz Cegielski was writing: „Ars Regia, The Royal Art, die königliche Kunst, l'art royale are descriptions of four different disciplines or spheres of human activity: alchemy, mathematics, architecture and speculative freemasonry”. In this work we concentrated on the fourth, the youngest from those spheres, because we would like to approach this so abstractive for many people theme.

In the first paper „Symbol in freemasonry. Yesterday and today” Elżbieta Jagielnicka, after definition of the word „symbol” tried to show the genesis of freemasonry as a source of its symbolism. On the one hand she indicates old associations of bricklayers, on the other shows the problem of borrowing many elements from the thought of alchemics and Rosecross societies. This is what Marius Lepage was writing about: „in the special way [freemasonry] joins two different trends of tradition: practical, deriving from old house-builders and speculative, brought by hermetists and philosophers”. This duality of genesis expressed itself very clearly just in the symbolics used by association derived from these trends. Author points also to often appearing symbols of vegetable and animal origin, and to those symbols that are references to Bible, legend of Master Hiram or legend of de Molay's curse. Farther part of the text deals with symbolics of colours, and widely developed system of manual and verbal signs depicting some ritual objects and activities. Summarizing her investigations, author puts special attention to the role of the secret of freemason symbolism in the life of particular freemason Lodges. The essence of symbol in Freemasonry was shown here in terms of several basic functions: integrating role joining people of different opinions, from the ethic point of view the symbol has motivative abilities being a reason to making certain decisions or taking a particular attitude; symbol is also a carrier of beauty in its aesthetic sense, and according to psychologists it has abilities to induce experiences of certain ideas and phenomenons in the mind. The author emphasises also the fact, that the symbol gives an opportunity to innovatory interpretations, to change its notions without any harm to understanding the subject. It encourages to continuous exploration and simplifies understanding things, which can not be understood by human senses.

Arkadiusz Morajko in his essay „Role and meaning of the rite in Freemasonry” writes about sets of ceremonies and rites used by individual federations of lodges. The freemasons' rites are, according to author, a specific language having well defined cognitive aims, and leading the freemason towards a freemasons' lore which is gained as a result of internal illumination of experiencing the truth during particular ceremonies. This text deals with multistage Scottish Freemasonry looked upon as an essence of all the historical freemasons' rites. In next part of the text author describes several rites of chosen freemason systems: Swedish rite, 90-stage rite of Misraim, rite of Memphis which, with the former one, is included into a family of Egyptian rites, the rite Memphis — Misraim which is a combination of the former two, and finally cult rite Elus Coëns established by Martines de Pasqually. Stating that the rite was always a basic part of freemasons' activities, and that the ceremonial of the lodges contributed to preserve exclusivity of masons' corporations and to integrate the members forming a community totally exlusive from laymans' world, the author stressed also the fact that experiences concerned with this topic are considered by freemasons to be very intimate and to be subject to protection.

The text by Norbert Wójtowicz „Variety of freemasons' visions of the Great Architect” is based on statements of freemasons concerning the Absolute, published in various works and interviews. The first part tells about opinions connected with traditional current of freemasonry. In spite of many differences between various statements, there is no negation of God's existence in them. The Great Architect is understood very generally as a „transcendental conception of ethic ideas, which all the people agree with”. Together with removal of formula about God and immortality of soul from the Constitution of The Great East of France, there starts an existence of the second branch of freemasonry. This liberal current does not obstinately make any ideas about existence of the Great Architect, because „one can identify it with the fate, if one is an atheist”. Among various views on God there is a great variance of opinions. Notions described generally as Masonic religiousness stretch from „natural religion” of J. Anderson through deistic view considering God as an undefined transcendency, up to agnosticism or even atheism. Although every freemason can form his own view of the Absolute, there is a distinct border between traditional and liberal current of thought.

Freemasons were often connected by writers with ideas of judaism, Jews or Cabbala. Monika Kała in the essay „Jews and Freemasons — between myth and truth” shows, that the problem of connection between Jews and freemasonry often served as a means to solve immediate problems. The link of the Chosen Nation with freemasons is described by the author in the terms of: genesis of freemasonry and the role of Jews in it, their influence on ideology and structure of freemasonry, the forms of participation of Jews in the association, and also basic facts about stereotypical „conspiring Jew — freemason”. The ambigous attitude of freemasonry to Jews is seen in the problem of participation of Jews in freemasons' movements, and in the examples of their endeavours to be a separate group within the organisation. In spite of all this, connexions of freemasonry and Jews are accompanied by the stereotypic notion often used in the publicism, „Jew-masonry”, derived from secret and esoteric character of both these societies.

„'Freemasons' in Polish Catholic press in second half of 1930s” by Norbert Wójtowicz is a text connected to a certain degree with the previous one. The word 'freemasons' in the title was put into inverted commas to indicate author's intention to consider not people, but the context of the word itself. The research is based on three weekly papers popular in Poland between 1935-1939: „Przegląd Katolicki”, „Gazeta Kościelna” and „Przewodnik Katolicki”. The word „freemasonry” is most often used in connexion with some threats, of which these years were full. One can find many enemies of the Church given by name. Among socialists, communists, freethinkers, atheists and Jews there also appear freemasons, often merged into one with former groups, because „freemasons, Jews and communists are one thing”. The term 'freemason' means many things in those texts. Among various problems connected with freemasonry there are: political left wing, secularization of school system, Spanish civil war, Jewish problems etc. It is worth noting, that over half of these publications come from „Przegląd Katolicki”, and the two remaining have 21% each. Most of these texts are short notices, so in the total number of 205 press notes, only 50 are longer articles. In 1935-1938 there is an increase in the number of publications about freemasonry, but it is not well marked, and in 1939 there was a serious decrease. Summarizing, author concludes, that the general tendency is that of this from „Gazeta Kościelna”:„one should not overestimate them, but one should not underestimate them either, because they are weeds and destructive miasmas, which not only with their ideology, but with their methods as well, pour a poison into Polish social life”. Surely, described newspapers did not make light of freemasons, but one can ask: was their influence not exaggerated?

Łukasz Kamiński in the essay „Freemasonry in Polish People's Republic” writes about the history of Polish freemasonry in the period when it was formally abolished. Author points to the life losses of Polish freemasons due to Second World War. In after-war Poland freemasons' lodge was not reestablished, however one can see certain suggestions of Bolesław Bierut pointing to that effect. The highest ranks of Polish freemasons, Stanisław Stempowski and Marian Ponikiewski, have not decided to awake an organization asleep since 1938. Although freemasons' activities practically vanished in Polish People's Republic, author points to ridiculous accusations of „spying-freemasonic” character, appearing sometimes during Stalinism period. Examining „brothers” that remained in Poland, Łukasz Kamiński asks, why Polish freemasons were not decimated by criminal prosecutions, as were most of other social groups derived from the IInd Republic? The answer may be found in the fact, the people of symbolic trowel mostly supported the „new order” and actively took part in its establishing. After several ineffective tries of reestablishing Polish freemasonry by the Great East of France, on 12 Feb, 1961, eight of pre-war freemasons „rewakened” the „Kopernik” Lodge. Acting as an „underground” workshop, this agency did not restrain itself from unofficial participating in political life of the state. It were those people, who supported Committee for Defence of Workers (KOR), which was cofounded by „brothers”, and later also the Solidarity, so after the first half of 1970s an official propaganda increased its attacks on freemasons, and political opposition was accused of contacts with freemasonry. The breakthrough of 1989, after initial difficulties and internal problems of „Kopernik” Lodge, brought a renaissance of freemasonry in Poland. Summarizing, author stresses an important role of freemasonry in Polish People's Republic history. He shows however, that this fact is due not to the activity of an organization as a whole, but to the activity of its individual members, those who supported the new regime in its first years, as well as those who helped to break down the communism in Poland by their activity in the KOR and Solidarity.

In the end of this work there are included two appendices which supplement the former articles. Appendix A is „Anderson's Constitution” in 17 Jan 1723 version, so a document without which it would be difficult to navigate among continually appearing references to it in the source texts. The Constitution itself consists of two parts, and the text reprinted here contains only the part being a codification of rules, entitled „Freemason's Duties”. Considering the fact, that until now Polish translation was published only once and in the form of a booklet „for internal use only”, we thought it proper to acquaint the readers of this work with the translation proposed by „Europa” Lodge of Warsaw, which was published in „Wolnomularz Polski” („Polish Freemason”) in January 1996.

The other appendix, entitled „Is there a freemasons' philosophy?”, is a short interview with Professor Andrzej Nowicki. The talk is concentrated mainly on his book „Philosophy of freemasonry at the threshold of the seventh millennium”. As an author, Professor Nowicki has two important advantages in working on freemasons' philosophy. The first is undoubtedly his scientifical achievements consisting of a big number of works on philosophy. Equally important is the fact, that the author is not only a theoretician, but also a person actively participating in the life of a liberal current of Polish freemasonry. During the interview published here, Prof. Nowicki stresses very strongly what his book is, saying: „in this book I have concentrated on one problem: in what way various freemasons' thinkers understood the highest virtues: Liberty, Egality and Brotherhood, and connected with them ideas of Peace, Democracy, Tolerance and Improvement of the World”.

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