While attending various Masonic functions, one cannot help but notice two things, the Masonic trappings that are sold by vendors and the Masons that wear them. The emblems are numerous and many degrees are worn at the same time. I bought one to show the members in Arkansas what they should not buy.
On a poster, about an 18" X 24", there was depicted a candidate for the third degree I guess, dressed for initiation, and riding a goat. I wonder if anyone took the time to explain to him the symbolism of the goat, or even if anyone knew the meaning. The goat has been used negatively in many anti-Masonic writings, and is sometimes thought of as a symbol of Satan. I have even heard that it represented "raising the devil" by some Masonic Brothers. It has been said that the star used in the Order of Eastern Star represents Satan, because of the outline of its inverted position "looking" like a goat's head. Ride on candidate!
In my own Lodge some enterprising member brought a live goat to a raising for emphasis, and it made a great impression on the candidates as well as the members and more especially me. I thought 'riding the goat' was just a fun part of Masonic initiations, but it caught my attention that night in Little Rock, Arkansas. Today, I'm glad I was there to see the goat and take part in the initiation or raising. It started me on a quest to seek biblical meaning of the Masonic Lodge and its various symbols and emblems. It was a journey that has lasted almost thirty-five years, and I have seen many symbols and emblems in those years.
Many Masons wear many emblems on the coat lapels, in their ears, on their hands and certainly on their cars, saying in essence, "Try me!" I wonder how many can be tried, not necessarily by the book, but by their everyday living. I wonder how many non-Masons gauge the fraternity by the wearer of the emblem (s), possibly thinking that one may be a 'big' Mason because of the number of emblems a wearer may display, but never asked "why?" I personally view the situation as, "the more you show, the less you know."
Most emblems, if not all, have deeper meanings, religious, or for the most adept, philosophical if you like that word better, even the goat, but they are never explained to the many wearers. So, ride on candidates! Stay with the goat in a superficial manner and never know that it is a symbol of ostracizing as explained in Leviticus 16. Read it and know that the goat's brother had to die instantly, while the one you ride is taken to an undiscovered country carrying the guilt of sin of a nation upon its back, you, the candidate.
I have seen Masons with the emblems of several Masonic houses on the coat lapels of members wanting "you to know how many houses I belong to." Ride on candidate! Manufacturers even make tie clamps and stick pins with several Masonic emblems emblazoned thereon. Ride! The one that really takes the cake is the member that has as many as ten emblems on the trunk of his car, sometimes two of the SAME house if he is a Past Master. How about the one whose wife belongs to several of the female houses and she wants her fair share of displayed space? In Arkansas, I recommend that you have no more than two on the trunk, as more than two would make you 'clandestinish.' On the other hand, maybe we should ban an emblem with a cane and two balls for very few Masons know the deeper meaning of this one.
Are we becoming peacocks, more show than know? I realize that the individual has spent his hard earned money for what HE wants, but as leaders, we must not get carried away with showing rather than knowing. Freemasonry is more than a fashion show and should be examples of good moral character in possession of the rudimentary lessons learned in a well-governed Lodge. We give notice to all 'sho 'nuff' Masons: You have a duty to whisper good counsel in the ear of an errant brother, and remind or inform him that the "more he shows, the less he knows."
I observe earrings in members' ears, some in the shape of emblems, which is a no-no in Arkansas' Prince Hall Lodges. I have sent an edict, which was upheld, that no Master will allow any Mason to clothe himself and wear an earring in the Lodge. The member can wear one or the other, but not both at the same time. I know I will get a lot of flack about this ruling, but, so be it. I believe that when a man look, act, speak and dress like a Prince Hall Mason, wo-man will appreciate it. I was told one time by a Grand Master who wore earrings that King Solomon wore one, but could not back it up through scripture. If there is a different opinion out there people, let me know.
I have definite ideas about this fraternity and they are:
Your life should be exemplary in the eyes of society, not your emblems.
You should know what an emblem or symbol mean before wearing one.
Act, walk and talk like the Mason you profess to be.
Know why you wear the dark clothes accented with white.
Read religious books to get a better understanding of what the fraternity is all about.
Be heads above the shoulders of others in your community and be the credit you can be to Prince Hall Masonry.
Regardless of what some people may say or write, Prince Hall Masonry IS to the Black community and more especially the Black Church.
In the meantime, stop riding the goat, unless your name is Sin! If it is, RIDE ON!
By the way, Satan can't claim anything as his symbol, for he made nothing. Read Leviticus and see what happened to the other goat. It was used as a purifying agent for the altar and priestly garments. Somewhere along the way, man got his knowledge of the goat crossed up and lost the real meaning.