Tolstoy reigns himself in a little bit here, so we can’t tell whether he’s taking the Masons dead seriously or whether he’s poking fun at them.  (Normally, it’s more obvious whether he’s being satirical or not.)  So, on the one hand, you might agree with a lot of the things they say, or on the other hand, you might think the whole thing’s rubbish.  And I think, in this case, you can quite easily read both from the same passage.

Which brings me to my other Freemason story.  When Rachel and I were on honeymoon, we decided we’d explore Sydney (because you never really look around your own city when you live there) and we went to get a free guided tour of the Masonic Temple in the city.

The interesting part started when we went up to the reception desk and the young guy behind the desk told us that three people had been sacked that day, and he was standing in for the receptionist – but that he would be able to take us on a tour soon.

So we sat down for 45 minutes in a waiting lounge facing a glass case full of trowels, King James Bibles with Masonic symbols on them, various history books, and of all things – several cute toy penguins wearing masonic aprons!

When our young guide finally came back, he took us around all over the place, showed us strange rooms, opened creepy little cupboards with even creepier pictures behind them and constantly debunked the idea that they were devil-worshippers, a cult, etc. etc.  (This guy’s reason for joining was that he found out that his cricketing hero, Don Bradman, was a Mason, so he wanted to join.)

All in all, a fascinating trip, but I had the strangest dreams all that night.  For the next two days, I desperately wanted to join, just because the idea of finding out all kinds of secrets seemed quite alluring.

However, I would have had issues with the Freemasons just because of their views on God that they publicly announce (not counting the stuff that they’re rumoured to believe), so the feeling passed after a while.  But definitely one of the strangest experiences of my life.  I still have a second glance if I notice a Masonic ring or a tie pin.

Anyway, enough of me . . . so Pierre has had his “conversion experience” and the question now is: what kind of changes will his new-found faith bring?

3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 5.4 – The Rituals Continue

  1. Well, Matt – that’s news to me. I would never in a million years have thought that the Masons would have free guided tours of their temples! It’s kind of oxymoronic, you would think!! Pretty well the sum total of my own knowledge of Freemasonry is what I have read in War and Peace – although I undertsand that Mozart’s Magic Flute is just brimming with Freemasonry symbolism, which apparently got him into lots of trouble at the time. So, anyway, I really don’t know what they believe in, or what thy do – but it all just sounds very creepy when I read about it from Pierre’s perspective. I am tempted to say that they sound like a whole lot of men who still want to be kids – it all reeks to me of the secret clubs we ued to have when I was about 9 years old. By the way, do women have any place in it all (other than getting a pair of gloves)???

    Anyway, I think there is at least just a hint of Tolstoy’s satire here – especially in the bits where one of the brothers seems to be arguing about what the proper ritual should be, and the other ends up responding with something along the lines of, “Oh, for God’s sake – shut up!”. And then the bit where, in the middle of it all, Piere kind of loses his focus and thinks it mght all just be a joke. These are just little things, but I think they’re brilliant in putting the solemnity and reverence of it all into a bit of perspective.

  2. Ian?

    The answer is ‘yes’ . . . the wives, sisters and daughters of Masons do have an organization – it’s called ‘Rebecca Lodge’.

    They do a lot of work in the organization – they serve at public functions, for one thing, and visit the needy.

    My first husband (the illustrious mason) never gave me a pair of gloves – he most likely traded them in for a set of darts.


    Seriously . . . I was once asked by one of the ‘Rebecca Lodge’ wives to join. I did not.

  3. I’m not sure if I have any people to add to my list of 467. I don’t think so.

    Well, there is one . . .

    The Grand Master –

    While the Grand Master said these last words it seemed to Pierre that he grew embarrassed.


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