Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BLACK FREEMASONRY AND EGYPT: MYTH OR REALITY?

              BLACK FREEMASONRY AND EGYPT: MYTH OR REALITY?

By Fahim A. Knight-El

I received an email on July 20, 2013 from a Past Master named Brother Hassan Tremble-El of a Prince Hall Affiliated lodge in Chicago. I consider Brother Tremble-El, a comrade in our struggle for liberation. He and I started to interact as members of the Imperial Cushite Order, Ancient Grand Lodge of Khamet Yahoo Group forum headed by Brother Zachary Gremillion (a Prince Hall Mason) who authored a book titled, “African Origins of Freemasonry”. Brother Tremble-El forwarded me part of a discussion that had taking place on Facebook with a group called "Regular vs. Irregular-The Debate” in which this Brother named Thomas Brooks, a former Prince Hall Mason who demitted from the PHA Grand Lodge of New York to the Grand Lodge of New York (I am assuming AF&AM) about five or six years ago; he was expressing some strong opinions about Black Freemasonry and Egypt on the Facebook social network site. Brother Brooks, is an attorney by profession and was a former member of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. I meticulously took my time and gave Brother Tremble-El a response to the comments that were posted by Brother Brooks and addressed his attack against Prince Hall Masonry (and/or Black Masonry) and claims of having their ritual and philosophical roots in ancient Egypt (Kemet).

I admitted that part of his argument was very much valid (I quoted his remarks below) because most Black Masonic Lodges either directly or indirectly uses the rites, sacraments and rituals closely akin to what was established by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) in 1717. I do not think that any of the Black Grand Lodges in the United States of America have rewritten the rituals and rites to reflect Kemetic traditions and incorporated an African value system that was perhaps rooted in what was being taught in the Egyptian Mystery Schools. I do know that there are non-traditional orders that exist in the United States who are under the radar and do not receive the attention that 'mainstream' Freemasonry has received and quasi Masonic lodges such as certain branches of the Moors and Kemetic orders that have made attempts to incorporate more of an African traditionalist system of initiation. For example, I believe Ashra Kwesi has a Kemetic initiation process where he takes so-called African Americans to Kemet (Egypt) and walk them through the ancient rituals, which predates Western Masonic rituals. Yet, to understand and grasp this concept it will require a lot of prerequisite reading and research, if one is serious about moving away from Western Freemasonry and truly pursuing a Kemetic Symbol lettered Order. There are some requirement and mandated reading materials such as the works authored by: Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Yosef Ben A.A. Jochannan, Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Anthony Browder, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Ra Un Nefer Amen, Chancellor Williams, John G. Jackson, etc. This will require a complete ideological overhaul from changing the words, tokens, signs, symbols, etc., to reflecting the language of the Metu-Neter and totally debunking the precepts of Western Freemasonry.

Dr. Malachi Z. York-El leader of the Nuwaubians who professed to have been a Freemason from the linage of John G. Jones Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry, but like everything else about this cult leader Dr. York’s Masonic claims have never been completely verifiable (he styled himself Grand Master of the Supreme Grand Lodge of Nuwaubian World Wide Masonic Lodges) .Yet, he was a very knowledgeable and a master teacher who understood, perhaps every aspect of Freemasonry (and could enter all the Houses and run circles around the best Masonic minds; no doubt Dr. York was a well learned man) and even redefined the ritual books and introduced the passwords in some of the original language; for this much I applaud Dr. York’s boldness to reshape Masonry in our image and likeness. However, most of Prince Hall Masonry did not recognize his Grand Lodge or subordinate lodges as being a regular body of Masons and even to the present they are considered clandestine. But in many ways Dr. York’s maneuvers were a direct challenge to move Black Freemasonry to a true independent and sovereign state and away from Eurocentric Masonry and in his own right challenged the overseer deemed the United Grand Lodge of England relative to their power and Masonic authority to determine who should be labeled ‘regular’ or ‘clandestine’. Dr. York on the other hand even challenged Prince Hall Masonry who for so long has fought for recognition from the United Grand Lodge of England.

We as Black Masons have this fear that to engage in meaningful historical and theoretical Speculative Masonic discussions is a compromised against the oaths and charges we vowed to uphold. The Masons know how it goes, I will not cut, carve, engrave, stain, write, mark, etc., on anything movable or immovable and it is this obligation that has shackled and handcuffed black Masons from delving into writing and researching about these great truths). This position often is used to justify our ignorance and negate the possibility of delving into the Masonic mysteries, symbolism and the esoteric wisdom that is associated with this in depth knowledge. However, I believe that we have a duty and responsibility to offer our perspective to the world. There is no doubt that Eurocentrism has systematically made every attempt in modern and ancient literature, as well as in humanity classes to falsely paint Kemet (Egypt) with being more associated with the racial and ethnic lineage of the Caucasian people. They have done this because of the high level of intellectualism and the scientific achievement of the Egyptians, depicting a people who were superior to any other civilization on earth.

This is where the zenith of wisdom sprung from and people from around the world came to share in the knowledge being taught by Nubian Sages and Gurus over 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. The magnificent of Kemet (Egypt) has led to many alien peoples and cultures laying claim to this great society. I think most Black Masons might even at times love to hear the notion that Masonry is of an antiquity and this antiquity is tied to the greatness of Egypt. This gives many of us an emotional high, but we are not studious enough to try this hypothesis under the rigor of what can be counted and measured based on conducting empirical research in order to determine the factual or non-factual basis of our belief and contentions in the idea that Black Freemasonry was in deed linked to Egypt (We as Prince Hall Masons figuratively speaking when it comes to this issue, we love to have our cake and eat it to). However, the Craft's stagnation is more rooted in laziness and an unwillingness to truly validate this most important history, which will require some thinking outside the box. White Masonic writers and scholars have done everything to try to disprove that Kemet (Egypt) was black and has stolen our glorious history as their own.

Thomas Brooks: “The “Black Nationalists” in these organizations never attempt to prove that whatever was being taught via the Egyptian Mystery Schools is essentially the same as what is now being taught or intended to be taught via the Masonic ritual. They do not argue that there were speculative Lodges that were governed by a “Worshipful Master,” or that there were two wardens, etc; and they otherwise concede that the English created “their own version,” of a system to dispense “knowledge,” except that the knowledge it contains was allegedly intended to be inherited by “blacks” from Egypt. They tend to regard this “knowledge” as proprietary to Egypt, rather than universal, and predating the Egyptians. Their delusion is that “Masonry,” in its capacity as the “successor in interest” to the Egyptian Mystery Schools, and is the single source of this “knowledge,” and that so long as “black Masons” are not mimicking the yet non-specified details of their Egyptian forbearers, that they “on the wrong path.”

“The expressed purpose of craft Masonry is to create a “universal brotherhood,” so without proof that the Egyptians had the same or an essentially similar purpose, it is gratuitous to even entertain the argument. No visitor to a Masonic Lodge, even after a year or more of visiting, will walk away with the knowledge of “Pythagoras,” or “Euclid.” One has to accept that, with seemingly no similarities between them, the whole argument regarding Masonry being something that was “stolen from Egypt,” might never have arisen, but for the segregation in the U.S. Lodges. It is propaganda calculated to encourage blacks to choose “black Lodges,” out of “sympathy” for the race. To be sure, there is nothing going on in the “black Lodges,” that is not also going on in the “white Lodges,” and “Masonry” itself does not occur in either, so long as they are racially segregated”.

“The Black Nationalists never attempt to explain why they do not establish an organization with exactly the purpose and the focus which they criticize as lacking in Masonry? They could encourage “black Masons” to join it, along with any others that shared in their purpose, but that it would be called something else. They could give it a tough “pledge process,” create all of the myths and allegories around African characters, and teach the “love of blackness” full time. Otherwise, they will continue to be a distraction within our Lodges, encouraging racism and fomenting dissent against universality. There might even be fewer irregular groups if we focused on the fact that recognition from “whites” is an essential factor, not a cause to mock. Masonry is for those who are ready to “get over” the racist foolishness of the past; it is not for those who want to keep that hate alive by fighting for one race or the other”.

“The funniest part in this entire “love of blackness” regime within Masonry is the sheer number of black organizations in every state that have PROVEN the “myth” of “black unity.” With 50+ black Grand Lodges in the City of New York alone, all practicing something that looks like the English (not an African) system, what is the use in criticizing those blacks who prefer the recognition of whites and a universal craft? When are all of these black groups going to start looking “black” instead of “English, since the claim is that the English “stole” Masonry in the first place? Every time another black person goes off to “create his own,” it looks just like “the white one,” except that the money can now go into his own pocket. They don’t join one of the 50+ black organizations that are already in existence, because “blackness” was never the point, it was never more than a “gimmick.”

Fahim A. Knight-El: I think some aspects of this argument are valid and other aspect of it is flawed. Let me first refute the notion relative to the inference of within Black Freemasonry there exist this overwhelmingly Black Nationalist sentiments who is leading and guiding and shaping the Speculative Masonic ideological and philosophical directions of Black Freemasonry (this inference is a far stretch to make and has little factual basis). One first must understand and accept that think Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) Masonry in particular, and Black Freemasonry in general, is representative of the larger sample of black society, which is, there is a small percentage of black Masons who gravitates exclusively towards the concept of Black Nationalism and are socially conscious (the majority are still members of the 85% those of us who were systematically made bind, deaf and dumb to the knowledge of self—what Dr. Carter G. Woodson called the 'Mis-Education of the Negro').

The Afrocentric Movement in the early 1990s headed by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante impacted the social, political and economic outlook on the ideological formulation of black institutions in America and it even started to awaken black Masons to engage in more authentic research (for the first time Africa was being studied as a subject rather than as an object). The scholar Dr. Mary Lefkowitz in her outrageous book titled, “Not out of Africa” wrote her thesis as an attempt to derail the momentum that African centered movement was gathering amongst black laypersons and black intellectuals; she accused George G. James,  Ben-Jochannan, John Henrik Clarke, Molefi Asante and others of engaging in emotional and unscientific research that was riddled with shoddy documentation, etc. Lefkowitz also went after Cheikh Anta Diop as promoting historical myths in his book titled, “African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality” in which Diop maintained that Egypt was in deed culturally and ethnically linked to what Europeans refer to as sub-Sahara Africa and it was a linkage of historical synthesizing in which to separate Egypt from Africa, is to rob Africa of its continental greatness and its vast contributions to humanity. This has always been the Eurocentric objective and in one sense the African Centered movement stood as an intellectual resistance to centuries of white domination of ideas. Perhaps it was not since the 1960s and 1970s had we seen this new interest in African culture and African history, which were being led mainly by black academics who had embraced the Afrocentric ideology during this time period and this movement begin to invoke a renewed spirit amongst some black Masonic thinkers to revisited the greatest of Africa and even given new meaning and interpretation to their own Masonic claims of being linked to Egypt and Black Saudi Arabia. Black Masonry without Egypt is just like symbol without substance.

Lefkowitz in a chapter titled: ‘How Did The Myth of an Egyptian Mystery System Come to be Preserved in Freemasonry’; she stated, “We need to account for the long life of the strange and fundamentally Greek myths about a secret Egyptian ‘philosophy’ and special ‘Egyptian mysteries’. [Dr. George G.M.] James’s insistence on the importance of lodges in the Egyptian Mystery System provides the basic clue to the reason for the myth’s survival, despite all the real knowledge about Egyptian thought and cult that has been amassed by the scholars in the last few centuries. In modern Europe and the European diaspora, lodges are the designated meeting-places of Freemasons and groups inspired by them. In reality, the Freemasonic movement in its present form is relatively modern, and has its origin in the seventeenth century A.D. But it is an article of faith in the Freemasons’ own histories of their movement that there were Freemasons in earliest antiquity. Their rites and mythology preserve the essence of ‘Egyptian’ mysteries and ‘philosophy’ prevalent in late antiquity, but in a new and even characteristically European form than anything we have seen so far. A striking quality of Freemasonry is its ‘imaginative attachment to the religion and symbolism of the Egyptians’. The Egypt to which the Masons refer is of course an imaginary one.” (Reference: Mary Lefkowitz; “Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became An Excuse to Teach Myth as History”; p. 106).

The black Masonic symbolism, which has always been rooted in Egypt (Kemet) and in many ways has always surpassed the level and degree of study attained by its members; many even after being raised and traveling upward to the 33rd degree have little understanding of what the sequences of knowledge mean—they hear Egypt and even Muhammad and Islam being echoed throughout the ritual, but are unwilling and undisciplined to corroborate the knowledge and the ancient truths. And understanding that most members who have joined Freemasonry have accepted this ancient wisdom/notion as a mere emotional truth and without the benefit of delving into an empirical study or examination, which to prove the evidence or refute the evidence of black Freemasonry having its roots in Egypt and not to do this, will always open the door for external criticism.

They also have the historical evidence written in their Masonic history (ritual words and language) that validates and substantiate their historical claims to the ancient civilization of Egypt (Kemet), but by fact most black Freemasons are not Black Nationalist advocates and/or true Afrocentric thinkers, this alone automatically renders Brother Thomas argument flawed (he was given us way to much credit). I would be the first to openly admit that there exist in the body of black Freemasonry a non-serious approach to information which does allow critics such as Brother Thomas Brooks to expose and challenge the contradictions (it is the social aspect of the fraternity and the partying that has somewhat compromised the seriousness and the intent of black Freemasonry to be viewed as a research body and a beacon of light, as well as a true philanthropic organization in the United States of America). If we are going to be taken serious we have to seek a new direction and promote scholarship, research and promote ideas that will give us credibility amongst other Freemasonic bodies. How can we desire to be leaders of Black Freemasonry in America and we fail to promote universal enlightenment and not work to evolve humanity socially, politically, and economically? Our responsibility is much greater than a party and drinking alcohol. I am a knowledge seeker who was raised from a dead level to a living perpendicular on the square.

Yet, I think Brother Thomas had his own ulterior motives by trying to justify his defection/separation from Prince Hall Craft Masonry by denouncing Black Freemasonry for believing in what he deemed a historical hoax and this allows his demitting from Prince Hall Masonry Grand Lodge of New York to his new home the Grand Lodge of New York to at least be viewed as justifiable. I believe it is properly titled the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. I think Brother Ezekiel Bey, Brother Ralph McNeal and Brother Emanuel Stanley may be in a better position to shed some light on this brother and reasons for leaving Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. Moreover, the type of criticism that Brother Thomas is spewing, in my opinion has an objective of trying to present himself with less suspiciousness and the Masonic world, perhaps will only see it as him a taking a necessary step in his search for truth and better enlightenment.

Now, we know for a fact that the original inhabitants of the land called Egypt were people of Nubian descendant who were charcoal black, but the Eurocentrist have always desired to rewrite the ethic, genotype and racial make of the ancient Egyptians as being closely akin to a mix modern day people so-called resembling the ethnic and racial classifications of the Semites (the so-called Arabs and Jews are both Johnny-come-lately inhabitants of Egypt), but Europeans even try to geographically relocate Egypt in the Middle East or refer to them as Mediterranean people and other absurd arguments because within a society that has been built on white supremacy and has falsely viewed white skin as superior to black skin, it is unimaginable to them that the greatest civilization on earth was created by people of black African descent. To the outside world I might even be accused of fostering black supremacist ideas and some may dismiss my argument for the same reason that I have dismissed the Eurocentric worldview. But what I have on my side is living in a racist society and wherever he has gone on the planet he has created mischief and is a master of tricks and lies.

Many so-called African Americans such as Brother Thomas cannot phantom that the Greeks stole much of their philosophy and knowledge from Egypt (Kemet) and whether not the Egyptian Mystery Schools and teachings can be linked directly to modern Freemasonry is debatable, but there is little doubt that black Freemasonry is interdependent upon the mythical and mystical legacy that is tied directly to the ancient pyramid builders, the first Operative and Speculative Masons were in Egypt (Kemet). I cannot say definitely that ancient Kemet even practiced what we have come to know as modern Freemasonry, but there is historical evidence, which maintains that the Egyptians did have a systematic training and initiation for neophytes that evolved around the ancient mysteries. We also know that the term 'Speculative' is a broad philosophical term and one could definitely view the curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery Schools as being rooted in the 'Speculative Sciences'. Yet, I think our Masonic link to the Operative Masons of Egypt is, perhaps mere allegorical and more mythological, but that is not to contradict anything that I have previously said or written because many of the Masonic tales and folklore was not given to us for the accuracy of a historical fact, but to dramatize and inculcate certain intended moral lessons and principles.

However, I do agree that over, perhaps 95% of African American Freemasonry is only a rendition of what was established as the Speculative tenets that were given to us from the Masonic worldview of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), which was only established in 1717. I was in a debate with two of Dr. Malachi Z. York-El scholars named Kedar Griffo and Michael Berkley; and Brother Thomas argument somewhat is mirroring their contentions. I have not read the debate as they published it in their book titled, "The Debate Zoser Research Society vs Phylaxis Prince Hall", I think early Black Masonic pioneers such as Prince Hall was not fully versed in the historical realm of the knowledge of self and being a historically and culturally dehumanized people, it stripped us of the linkages of connecting with our ancient ancestors, which included Egypt.

Fahim A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in Durham, NC; our mission is to inform African Americans and all people of goodwill, of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolism and reinterpreted the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world. We are of the belief that an enlightened world will be better prepared to throw off the shackles of ignorance and not be willing participants for the slaughter. Our MOTTO is speaking truth to power. Fahim A. Knight-EL can be reached at fahimknight@ yahoo.com.

Stay Awake Until We Meet Again,
Fahim A. Knight-El

2 comments:

Hassan "Ra-Heru Akhety" said...

Peace & Blessings Bro. Knight El,

once again you have knocked it out of the park.

FAHIM KNIGHT said...

Thank you good Brother Hassan Tremble-El for your kind words and thank you for given me the spark to write this article. Thus, after your email and our correspondence I felt necessary to Blog about what you had shared with me.

Hotep,
Bro. Fahim A. Knight-El