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Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus December 2011

Linguists Crack 300-Year-Old Code

Two Swedish linguists at Uppsala University have deciphered a handwritten manuscript dating from the mid-18th century, written by a secret society known as "the Occultists", obsessed with eye surgery and spying on the Freemasons.

The manuscript is known as "The Copiale Cipher" and is a 105-page long text which scientists have been trying to crack since its discovery at the East Berlin Academy at the end of the Cold War.

The technique used in solving the cipher involved comparing the most common character combinations in the encrypted document with the most common letter combinations of the underlying language.

The text included 90 different letters, with everything from Latin and Greek letters to diacritic signs and mystic symbols, called logograms. "It felt a little like a Dan Brown novel," one of the two linguists, Beata Megyesi, told the Swedish daily Aftonbladet.

But this spring, Megyesi, together with Uppsala colleague Christiane Shafer managed to combine their knowledge of computer science, lingusistics and language history to crack the code.

What they found has made quite a splash in the world of academic research.

"It was very exciting when the first paper started emerging. We realized the book had been written by a secret society and that it was describing their initiation rituals," Megyesi said.

Further, the text turned out to contain previously unknown information about another secret society, namely the Freemasons, which the Occultists had spent a lot of time and effort spying on.

"Historians believe that secret societies have had a role in revolutions, but all that is yet to be worked out, and a big part of the reason is because so many documents are enciphered."

The book is divided into three parts. The first describes the Occultists own rituals, the second gives an overview of Freemason activities and rituals during the 18th century and the third shows that previously unknown forms of Freemasonry existed at the time.

"The third part of the book actually proves that esoteric and political forms of Freemasonry flourished as early as the mid-18th century."


Electronic Devices in Lodge?

As an increasing number of younger members are becoming active in Lodges, many are bringing their reliance on electronic devices into the Lodge Room.

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, following a survey of other Grand Lodges across the continent, has established some specific rules for use of such devices in a Tyled Lodge.

In a communication to other Grand Lodges, Jeffrey L. Gardiner, Grand Secretary, explained, "Not only for the annoyance of the phone ringing, but also, the member answering and talking during the meetings. Some are constantly texting or reading email. Also, the use of the camera or video to record the meeting or degree work. We have some Lodge officers who have written the ritual into their phones and use them as teleprompters during degree work."

The Grand Secretary noted that Massachusetts is the first Grand Lodge to pass such specific rules. From the survey, he said, most Grand Lodges are leaving such determination of guidelines up to individual Worshipful Masters.

On September 14, 2011, M.W. Brother Richard J. Stewart, Grand Master of Massachusetts, issued the following edict:

All cell phones carried into a Lodge Room must either be turned off or silenced prior to entering the Lodge Room.

The Master will announce prior to Opening that all cell phones and other electronic devices are to be shut off or silenced.

If an emergency call is received while the Lodge is in session, the Brother must not answer the call within the Lodge Room. He must exit the Lodge Room according to proper Masonic protocol and respond to the call outside the Lodge Room area.

If a cell phone rings within a Tyled Lodge, the Master will instruct the Lodge Marshal to escort the Brother from the room. Re-admittance of the Brother to the Lodge will be at the discretion of the Master.

Use of cell phones or other devices for texting, audio recording, video recording, or photography within a Tyled Lodge is strictly forbidden, except as has been previously approved for photography. Any reported infraction of this rule is subject to reprimand, suspension, or expulsion from Freemasonry.

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