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ARTHUR REX BRITANICUS

A STUDY BY THE PECONIC STREET LITERARY SOCIETY





Round Table Discussion of King Arthur & Arthurian Literature


MASONS IN THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND

Introduction

Life and Times

Christian and Pagan

Masonry

Masonry

  • the arthurian court and the masonic lodge
  • the influence on the United States
  • We Will Return
Aside from Christianity and Judism, Joseph Campbell identified the Arthurian legend and the mythology of Freemasonry as the two greatest influences on the rise of the United States. I doubt seriously the brilliant non-Mason, Latin-Catholic Cambell understood how closely related the two mythologies are.

Officially, the Grand Lodge of New York which claims to be the oldest Masonic Lodge in the United States makes no specific historic pretence to antiquity. In a public promotion tape its Grand Secretary states that historical assertions made on its behalf "make for interesting speculation." Not all Masons are quite so circumspect.

In the Age of Revolution, the Masonic Order produced a series of brilliant writers, thinkers, and musicans not only in England but also in the United States, France, Italy, Greece, Germany and even in the Austrian Holy Roman Empire. The Arthurian legend was the subject of much comment including an impressive book by Arthur Waite, England's Chief Judge who claimed for Arthur a place in the Masonic 'pantheon.'

Among the analogies between the legend and freemasonry posited were the recurrence of the number 13: There are 12 knights of the Round Table and the King. All members of the table are equal. Seated at a circle, no knight has a better position than anyother.

All masons are equal or so they say. The Master stands in no greater position than any other brother. They build a temple of the heart, with all issues decided by majority vote.

Arthur's kingdom is a tolerant one. It must try to balance at least two forms of Christianity and any number of local variances in the paganism of the pantheistic Celts.

Masonry preaches tolerance and acceptance of religious differences leaving such private matters to individual conscience.

If non-Mason Joseph Campbell said the United States is the largest functionning Masonic lodge, the Victorian era Masons would have said that Arthur's court was one of the historical examples of a Masonic Lodge in operation.

Much of the iconography of the United States, Campbell says, was inherited from the Masons. Campbell did not realize how much of Masonic emblems had been in turn borrowed from the Legend. There were 13 original states each represented by a five pointed star (pentagram) in a circle with no better position than anyother. The seal is a silver eagle, the token of Arthurs return. And when Mason Douglas MacArthur pledged in defeat, "I will return," he was quickly corrected by his (Masonic) brother President Franklin Roosevelt: "We will return."




OTHER ARTHURIAN LINKS

Arthurian Index
Introduction to the Legend
Life and Times of Arthur
Christian and Pagan Elements in The Arthurian Legend
Legacy of The Legend
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