Saturday, May 19, 2007

Who are you?

I have a pretty good statistics program running. According to the numbers, Burning Taper has quite a few readers. Many people just pass through once to read a particular article, but there are also many who visit regularly.

If you would be so kind, please indicate on the poll below what your "status" regarding Freemasonry is. I think it would be interesting to see who is reading the Taper.

I know many people don't like to answer a poll of any kind, but really, this won't hurt a bit, and no one will know who you are.

We average 400-600 unique visitors a day, and many more when there's something timely on the site, like news about Bro. Bozeman's death last week or the Virginia Tech shootings last month, so if in a few days this poll only has five entries, we'll know someone's not playing along.

Feel free to use the comments section to introduce yourself!


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  1. I am a Mason in the State of Alabama. Although I was active in Masonry for several years, I have slowly backed out of most of my involvement with it and am now hardly involved at all. I became disappointed in the other members around me, most of whom were uneducated, tired old men who did little but complain. The final straw came one night when almost everyone present in my blue lodge (all eight of them!) made thinly veiled racist remarks/jokes. I'm a busy man, and I'm not willing to waste my time hanging around with a bunch of rednecks. I also do not want to bring other people, particularly my non-Masonic friends, into a group that would say such embarrasing things. If a commitment to an organization is not uplifting and does not add anything of real value to my life, I'm not going to do it. While the ritual and symbolism of Masonry are valuable, that value became outweighed for me by the idiots who compose the majority of the members I know. So yes, I am still a Mason, but I'm done with it for now.

  2. A Curious Story About St. Thomas and Four Silver Coins

    (I PICKED UP THIS STORY TRAVELLING THROUGH KERALA (INDIA). I THINK IT IS WORTH RESEARCHING. SINCE I WRITE ONLY IN GERMAN, I WISH TO THANK JUSTINE HAKKAR MY TRANSLATOR FOR WHAT YOU READ IN ENGLISH BELOW. IT IS A FASCINATING STORY THAT SHOULD BE KNOWN TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. (Much of the story was narrated to me by Parukutty, an 88 year old Nair lady from her child-hood memory, a portion of her family history, and as retold to her many times by her grandmother.)


    The worship of Thondachan, a Hindu family deity, by a particular lineage of Nairs (native martial clan) of Malabar, Kerala, and especially the manner and ritual of this worship is noteworthy. Though a family deity, Thondachan is never worshipped within the Nair household. Nor has this deity been ever given a berth among the pantheon of Hindu gods at any of the Hindu temples presided over by the Brahman priests (called Namboodiris). Thondachan has a special altar built outside the Nair family compound, where non-Brahmin priests perform rituals. While Chaamundi, Vishnumoorthy, Pottan, Rakteshwari and Bhagavathi became the non-Aryan non-Brahmin deities for the village folk of Kolathunaad (an ancient province of North Kerala) along with other primitive spirits and folk-heroes, Thondachan has an even smaller following among a select Nair clan. It is believed, that up to the present day, altars for Thondachan's worship exists in the Cherukunnu area in Kannur (Cannanore) district, especially in the lands surrounding old tharavad houses (ancestral mansions) of the Nairs.

    When Thomachan (the apostle St. Thomas, - achan, signifying 'father') came ashore, landing at Maliankara near Moothakunnam village in Paravoor Thaluk in AD 52, (this village located 5 kilometers from Cranganoor (Kodungallur), Muziris, on the coast of Kerala), some of his followers as well as other sailors and merchants were suffering from a severe form of scurvy. Thomachan himself suffered from a sore throat which he chose to ignore, and which grew steadily worse, until no voice emanated from his lips for many days. A local Jew named Matan took the weary travelers to a local Nair tharavad (locally known as Kambiam Vallapil), in the province of Kolathunaad, a territory comprising the present Cannanore District and Badagara Taluk of Kerala State.

    It is said that at the time of Thomachan's arrival at the Nair tharavad, the Nair karnavar (landlord or head of family) lay injured from a grievous wound that had been inflicted upon him in a feudal duel. Upon seeing this, Thomachan sat beside the injured man and meditated, laying his hands on the man's head, his throat, his chest and his groin. Immediately the karnavar felt relieved from pain, and his healing was hastened. Within a day he was up and about, his wounds nearly healed.

    In return, the Nair household offered shelter to the strangers and called upon their family physician to cure the scurvy that the travelers suffered from, as well as Thomachan's severely infected throat. Nellikaya (Emblic Myrobalan or Indian Gooseberry) based potions prepared by the tharavad was used to cure the sea-worn voyagers. In an act of gratitude, Thomachan is said to have blessed them, and gave them four silver coins saying, 'May these coins bestow my guru's blessings upon you and your household, for take heed when I tell you that the money I pay you today is anointed with the blood of my guru'.

    This holy man, Thomachan, is believed to have related a curious story to the members of the tharavad, which has been passed down the ages.

    Before he set sail from a seaport in the region called 'Sanai' somewhere in the western seas, he had witnessed the persecution of his guru, who was tortured and nailed to a wooden cross and left to die. He spoke of how his guru returned from his ordeals three days later, fully cured. His guru handed him the silver coins saying, 'my body was sold with these, and now they have been returned to me, all thirty pieces, put them to good use, as I have. Though you choose to travel by sea, I shall meet you again in the mountains of the land where you will finally arrive.'

    The Nair tharavad later migrated further north to the Cherukunnu area of present day Kannur. They referred to the four silver pieces as 'rakta velli' (blood silver) or 'parindhu velli' (parindhu for eagle), as one face of all these four ancient coins bears the figure of an eagle. They also decided never to utilize the silver as it was the custom then not to part with the gift of a guest.

    Over time, and with the advent of Christianity, the significance of the four silver coins received by the tharavad was understood, but family history is still obscure as to whether Thomachan possessed, or what he did with the remaining twenty-six pieces of silver his guru gave him.

    This Nair family never converted to the Christian faith as did many others in that region. Subsequent migrations of Nair clans continued throughout history, but the story of the four rakta velli pieces was passed down the generations, as did their veneration for the holi sanyasi Thomachan, (later called Thondachan, a nickname perhaps coined from the story of his sore throat, -'thonda' means throat. Another story goes that the name Thondachan was adopted in the early 16th century to avoid persecution by the Portugese). Thus by a curious turn of events, the apostle St. Thomas was transformed into a Hindu deity for an ancient Hindu Nair clan of Kerala.

    A present day member of this family is still in possession of the four pieces of silver. I have seen and touched them. But what is more important is that the story of St.Thomas' landing at Kerala, which is often scoffed at by Western Christians,is strengthened by the fact that it was not necessary for an ancient Hindu clan of Nairs to invent a story and pass it down the generations. I, a German national truely believe the above incident DID indeed occur more than 2000 years ago.

    Besides, wouldn't these coins be of some value today?

    Your's Sincerely,

    Paula Gruber (with Justine)

  3. I am a Canadian Brother who has had the pleasure to serve as the Master of a Scottish Lodge in South Korea. I have travelled quite a bit Masonically and it is wonderful to see what I continue to find presented by another true Brother.

    Your blog is excellent and mirrors many of the discussions I am having with Brethren here in Toronto.

    Keep up the excellent work!

  4. You missed a possible choice: I'm a Mason and don't think I want to be.

  5. Poor Anonymous :( Maybe find another lodge, even one not so regular.

    I'm an older Rainbow Girl in Georgia. I'm deciding whether to go into Eastern Star like a good little girl or find some feminine masonry and get disowned. Huh.

  6. I'm an AF&AM in Connecticut.

    I, uh, really don't have many complaints. The guys in my lodge are mostly younger, bright, and good-hearted. The lodge is not run by the Past Masters. We have some fun, we help other lodges with things, and have a dinner at least once a month.

    I know, I know - completely different from what Masons are supposed to be. Can I still drop by once in a while?

  7. Bro. Tom,

    You're welcome to drop by anytime.

    But no more gloating about how good Masonry is in Connecticut. I'm jealous!

    — W.S.

  8. Like Tom I'm an AF&AM in Connecticut,
    Mostly young members like myself however I have had some run ins with the older PM's. All has worked out well as I have had the backing of some other PM's.


  9. Day late and dollar short, like usual, but I've been out on business.
    I'm a Mason in Mississippi, and yesterday, had the first chance to visit another lodge. I didn't ask anyone in my lodge what to expect or how I'd be examined. I went 400 miles away on business, into another state, and visited a VERY old lodge (#7) and enjoyed it thoroughly. The examination wasn't too bad either.

    Byron (Formerly Experimental Reality)

  10. i'm a young freemason who recently (two weeks ago) was raised to the 3rd from new south wales in australia.

    my lodge is fantastic - beautiful old boys with hearts as big as the ocean, and the humour and cheekiness of a 14 year old boy.

    in 6 months or so ive learnt so much from them, and they make me realise what a gift it is to be accepted in a lodge as a freemason.

    im looking forward to the rest of my life in this wonderful fraternity.

    this blog is right up my ally; a bit mystical, a bit political, always enjoyable, and definately always thought-provoking.

    peace and blessed be,

    c z . . .

  11. I happen to be very lucky, or maybe it is just the way it should be, but my lodge is made up of both young and old. Everyone, always seems to have a good time and truly likes one another. In order to further our relationships with one another, we have a monthly "smokers" that all lodges are invited to. This traditions has been going on for five years, and all the lodges look forward to it. I gues life is good in Californian masonary

  12. I am a Subgenius living in Central Delmarva region of Maryland. My maternal grandfather was, I have been told, a mason in Lonaconing, Maryland back in the day.

    I've had a bit of a rough time growing up, for various reasons, but have always tested my limits for reasons that have stood the test of time. I'm working quite hard to polish my being into a shining light of illumination for others to reflect on and better themselves. I consider myself a Nu-Deist and a Omnitheist, but consider it improper to go further into those concepts here.

    I hope to perhaps one day be worthy of establishing a link between the various traditional lodges and the young clenches of the New Stark Fists; perhaps one day being alowed permission to hold our holy devivals in one of those glorious and hallowed lodges (we've had them in churches, bars and even synagogues before).

    I believe in a truly free market, am a stalwart servent of Lady Liberty, desire a renewal of life on this world, hope to see new technologies, on schedule, replace the quickly obselescent ones presently employed (hey it happened before). Hope to meet my true mate one day, and seek a beautiful and brave future where men and women can live free of superstitions and overcome both internal and external obstacles to self-knowledge and the realization of their "I, I am".

    With much love and courage, your young brother Pulpiteer Jack Slutmuffin, COTSG and Nu-Syn of Persephone


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