Sunday, March 7, 2010

The secret handshake or the secret cold shoulder ?

While we might wonder what the secret Masonic handshake actually is, we understand that it was developed as a way masons could recognize and show 'respect' for each other, without necessarily speaking. ( The 'nonspeaking' part didn't imply that they didn't like each other ! ) The handshakes were a way for those who worked in stone to express their solidarity with other masons. As part of these perhaps antiquated rituals, secret handshakes allowed masons to express fraternity and above all 'friendship'.

 When a mason apprenticed with a skilled Freemason, that mason would teach him a secret handshake, reflective of the degree of learning the apprentice mason acquired. When the mason traveled for work and gave another foreman the secret handshake, that person would know that the apprentice had learned a certain degree of masonry skill (along with the appropriate handshake) from his instructor.

Presumably these masons saw it was important to acknowledge from whence and whom they acquired much of their knowledge. It was not right to pretend they arrived at their level of skill and method of construction without any other mason's help or learned what they did without being associated with any organization along the way. Unfortunately this may not be the case anymore. Competitiveness amongst masons is not necessarily a bad thing, however to refuse to give reference to those one has learned from or been helped by in ones acquiring of those skills, belies a basic fault which is likely to 'show up' in other ways later on, not only in their work but in their character too.

I tend to think that the stones in the wall will hold together to the degree that the person who builds it recognizes the responsibility he has in valuing and maintaining the freindships he has with those who have helped him along the way in his craft. 

To that end it is only right to make sure the contriving of contentious and rivalrous factions amidst the community of wallers here in Canada is discouraged amidst those of us who seek to continue cooperating with one another to build not only 'walls without mortar ' but also without hostility.

1 comment:

  1. I love a story with "hidden meaning." Is it an olive branch, or a willow switch?