Inside Elvis’ Exploration of the Masons
Remembering Elvis at a local diner in Missouri.
TCB Taking Care of Business
Writers on the left and the right have paid attention, some hypercritical, to the symbols that Elvis wore in his concerts. The most obvious is the lightning bolt with TCB inscribed on it. “Taking care of business” was an African-American slogan from his early life that he adopted for himself.
There is evidence that Elvis studied the Freemasons and their symbols. Some suggest that he was a member himself. Both Larry Geller in his book If I Can Dream, Elvis’ Own Story, and a list of books Elvis read, obtained from a staff researcher at Elvis Presley Enterprises, mention books about the Freemasons. An obvious symbol that Elvis wore was a Templar cross. Many suggest that masons were involved in the Crusades during the Middle Ages whose goal was to take back Jerusalem from the Muslims. Elvis also wore and used many other symbols that will be summarized in another blog.
Starved for answers to personal questions and an interest in other cultures and peoples, Elvis considered the Freemasons. After all, thousands of powerful and influential people throughout history claimed Masonic allegiance. Check out Wikipedia and its very short list of Masons. Kings, Emperors, Presidents, Islamic Scholars, Christians, Jews, soldiers, politicians, composers, entertainers, reporters, and even astronauts claim to be members. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Freemasons_(A–D)
Symbol of the Freemasons
Freemasons claim to offer its members an ethical and compassionate worldview. While they do not want to be termed a religion, there are traces of many religions in their literatures. Masons assimilated many belief systems and re-interpreted them to create their own “legends.” Their literatures often point to a Divine Essence or Being, (Supreme Intelligence, Triune Self) but it appears that they were open to members of any faith.
Some point to Deism or Universalism as an influence. I found links to astrology, numerology, Hinduism, and more. For instance they mention the “AUM” symbol as their own, as well as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They include stories from ancient Israel found in the Hebrew Bible. “Sin” is also a component of their belief system. And Solomon is the featured character along side the ancient temple of Israel.
My father was a Mason. He said he was a 32nd degree (whatever that meant to the Roseville Lodge?) and often brought new members to our home and taught them how to read secret books. He explained that being a member of the Masons was like joining a union, and that members helped out each other. This secret fraternal organization was only open to males. Some lodges admit females now.
Eighteenth Century meeting of Lodge of Masons in Vienna
Harold W. Percival in his book on Masonry and Its Symbols (1952) (which Elvis read) also describes some of the masonic rituals. I am including a painting of a Lodge Meeting in Vienna, Austria around 1786. Take a good look at this painting. The new member is blindfolded. Men are sporting swords. Some are wearing aprons. A religious official sits to the right and there is a cross on the left. On the table in front are several metal and stone items. (It is unclear as to what they are from the painting.) Some claim that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is sitting on the far right? Mozart could have been a connection for Elvis too! Note the triangle with candles and the curtain that is about to close to maintain secrecy.
According to several Masonic sources during the initiation ceremony of a new member, the man is blindfolded and stripped naked. A rope or cable tow is placed around his neck. Sharp instruments prick him. He is paraded around the room like this. As the initiate progresses in the fraternal order, he “receives the signs, grips, and words.” (Perceival, 9) Then, he receives a lambskin apron to cover his private parts. The initiation or an additional ceremony continues with the slaying of Hiram, who is purportedly the chief architect of Solomon’s temple. The candidate is ritually killed, and then raised by Solomon. All of this symbolizes the new member as leaving a previous life and entering a new life with the Masons.
Masonic Temple in Hannibal, Missouri
What actually happened during the ceremonies? Details are unclear, but a person living in the twenty-first century can recognize the “hazing” and “secrecy” that is found within the Greek societies flourishing on college campuses today.
The Roman Catholic Church, according to one writer, disallows its members from joining the Freemasons. My father told horrible stories about Roman Catholics, and I wonder if it was a backlash against Roman Catholic Church banning of the Masons? see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_ban_of_Freemasonry
This blog is only a peak at the information that will be contained in my forthcoming book on Elvis and his religions, title to be announced when it is published.
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge