Harodim

For about 200 years we thought that Freemasonry emerged in 1717. For over 20 years we now know that this is not the case. Freemasonry is over a century older. And from the first moment we have written evidence, we see different traditions with their own forms alongside each other. In the first half of the 18th century there were at least five traditions in Great Brittany: one in Scotland, one in Ireland, and three in England, namely the so-called “Premier Grand Lodge”, later named “Moderns”, secondly the so-called “Antients”, and then a third tradition, which I call the “Harodim”. This last one one finds in London and in the North of England and is also linked to York. The rituals are not very dramatic; it is mostly very long catechisms. Obviously the English “High Degrees” emerged from ritualising parts of these catechisms. The Moderns and the Ancient fought over almost anything. There was but one thing they agreed on: there was no third tradition.

Jan Snoek (translated from German) in Der Schöttische Meister-Grad (‘the Scottish master degree’) (1).

Snoek wrote extensively about the “Harodim”, but never does he seem to give a clearer explanation than in this quote. “Harodim” is an Masonic Tradition alongside the “Antients” and the “Moderns” traditions.

From another text of Snoek:

In 1732, Joseph Laycock (born c. 1710 in Wetherby, North Yorkshire), went to London in order to take charge of the iron foundry of Sir Ambrose Crowley in Rotherhithe. Here he became a member, not only of a lodge under the Premier Grand Lodge, but also of a body practising a form of Harodim Freemasonry. We do not know what ritual or rituals this Harodim body practised, but it is not unlikely that it was an early form of what later was called the Order of H.R.D.M of Kilwinning.

Do you see why I include this information? The “Harodim” Masons trace themselves back to Kilwinning, now the “Lodge Mother Kilwinning”, the oldest lodge in the world. The lodge that was founded in Kirkwall is called lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning. Nowadays there are 32 (of about 600) lodges under the Grand Lodge of Scotland with “Kilwinning” in its name. Several of these are older than the Grand Lodge.

Are these, or at least the oldest ones, lodges in Snoek’s “Harodim” tradition? Was the Kirkwall lodge such a “Harodim” lodge and does the Kirkwall Scroll represent “Harodim” Freemasonry?

Snoek has a list of “common characteristics of all Harodim texts”. “Texts” unfortunately. A few of the points are still interesting:

  1. The number of degrees in the Rites concerned is often larger than just the three Craft degrees.
  2. The themes of the rituals are not restricted to the building of the Temple of Solomon, but include also other Biblical stories, such as those about Noah’s Ark and Jacob’s Ladder (standing on the Bible; its rungs representing virtues that lead to heaven).
  3. An important theme is the building of the Second Temple under Zerubbabel.
  4. The Seven Wonders of the World are oft en mentioned. As a rule at least the Tower of Babel is counted as one of them, and sometimes also the Temple of Solomon.

We can check number 1. Noah’s Ark and Jacob’s Ladder with a little bending of the material, but the obligatory Tower of Babel does not appear on the Kirkwall Scroll.

In spite of the name of the lodge, I think we can safely strike out the notion that the Killwinning lodge may have been a “Harodim” lodge. On reading the quote from Snoek better, I might have not have to do this little investigation, as he seems to say that there are three English traditions: “Antient”, “Modern” and “Harodim” and then there are Scottish and Irish Masonic traditions. What is worse, in another text Snoek speaks of “one of the Harodim traditions”, so he even subdivides the traditions that he mentions. I do now wonder if Scotland knew a “Kilwinning” tradition (or if that is Snoek’s Scottish tradition).

I would like to find out more about the “Scottish” tradition. Kirkwall was co-founded from Stirling, an ancient Scottish lodge (1628 and thus not “Antient”) and Cooper keeps stressing the “operative” element of these lodges (Scotland seems to have had “operatives” in their lodges while in England Freemasonry had long become “speculative”).

I suggest the creation of the scroll is most likely connected to the English “Antient” lodge of Graeme and if that is so, this neither was a “Harodim” lodge.

The Sheffield and Dublin links make another ‘Templar tradition‘ more likely.


(1) Der Schöttische Meister-Grad (‘the Scottish master degree’) in Formen und Inhalte freimaurischer Rituale (2017)