Page 21 - Montana Freemason Magazine March 2014
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Montana Freemason  Albert PMiakrceh 2’s014E	 soterika     Volume 90 Number 1

                   Dan Gardiner (3)

   Introduction                                           seems to be a man stuck in time; that is to say, that
   It is virtually unknown by Montana Masons that         when we speak of Albert Pike, he is almost always
Albert Pike not only visited Montana in his capacity      taken in the context of Morals and Dogma, and we
as a Mason, but did so at least twice - making stops      ignore the fact that he lived for almost 20 more years
in a handful of places, including Butte, Deer Lodge,      after the publication of the text. It occurred to me
and Helena - and remained in correspondence with          then, as it had previously, that to continue to attribute
Montanans as well. It is probably almost as unknown       things to the Pike of 1872 (when M&D was published)
that while Pike was the champion of the Scottish Rite,    as if he had never matured, was to effectively silence
he defended the Blue Lodge, or three “Craft” degrees,     the remainder of his life. What did he have to say later
as being essential.                                       in life about many of the topics seized upon by those
                                                          so enamored of the esoteric occult?

   When most Masons think of Albert Pike, two                As it turns out, Albert Pike, as he continued to
things immediately come to mind: his 860+ page            grow in Masonic knowledge and personal wisdom,
book, Morals and Dogma, and the organization he           admitted time and again that he had been easily misled
wrote that book for, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.    at times, and at others, had changed his position as
Many Masons are aware that Pike spent a large portion     new information became available. This is about the
of his life in Arkansas, was a popular Western figure,    neglected period of Pike’s life.
participated in the American Civil War, and lived out
his remaining days in Washington, D.C. Still some         [1] Albert Pike, the Blue Lodge, and Montana Masons
fewer Masons are familiar enough with Pike through           The fact is, Pike did not remain on a “mystical”
having made an attempt at reading some of Morals
and Dogma (M&D).                                          joyride for the remainder of his life, but rather became
                                                          a hard traveling administrator. It is entirely fitting that
   The bewildering number of topics that Pike covers      Pike would close a chapter of his life with completion
in M&D often left readers puzzling: what did “Uncle       of Morals & Dogma, and later explain to others that
Albert” mean when he wrote on a particular topic?         several of the things that were apparently endorsed
Was he advocating any particular religious or mystical    in M&D during his cataloguing of the processes of
experiences? Did any of it pertain to “Blue Lodge,” or    human religions and quasi-mystical sects were not
was it all strictly of interest to Scottish Rite Masons?  in fact endorsements, but just that – an attempt to
                                                          systematize and understand morality and ethics
    Given time, the impenetrability of Morals and         across various times and peoples. Several statements
Dogma has meant that, upon landing on any given           will follow showing that Pike had no problem at
passage in the work while casually flipping through it,   all sorting out fact from fancy, the real versus the
the reader is often left confused. Further writers have   imagine.
made the situation no better, because Albert Pike is
often used as a mouthpiece for their own interests,          Here is Arturo de Hoyos’ contextualization of
and those interests, through misunderstanding             Pike during his active (Morals & Dogma) era: “Prior
(deliberate or otherwise), have tended toward the         to the emergence of the ‘authentic school’ Pike
“esoteric occult.”                                        had, like many others, read the speculations and
                                                          theories of earlier writers, sometimes accepting their
   Over the last several years, my own encounters         fantastic claims of the Fraternity’s supposedly ancient
with fellow Freemasons has led me into conversations      origins. He tells us that, for a time, he put faith in the
dealing with the “esoteric occult,” and, invariably,      ‘fancies about the Egyptian origin’ of Freemasonry
Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma is trotted out to          (a notion spread today in the popular but uncritical
support a(ny) position. When I offer contradictory        book, The Hiram Key), but he ultimately rejected
evidence, from Pike himself, my verbal partners           this and similarly unfounded ‘fancies.’ He lamented
circle back to a cherry-picked passage of Morals and      over the baseless conclusions and contradictions he
Dogma.                                                    encountered, at times wondering if there was actually
                                                          anything of value to be found. In frustration he
   In examining Pike’s life for an article that I was     even considered abandoning the study of Masonic
writing for the Scottish Rite Research Society’s          symbolism altogether, but consequently resolved to
newsletter, the Plumbline, I gave a second glance to      retain the symbols and abandon the expositors. Even
something that had struck me in the past: Albert Pike     by today’s standards Pike was a rare type of FreemPaagseon21,
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