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References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat; that of being marginalized, trivialized, and fictionalized. Most of the references noted on this site are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society; some are humorous, yet some are disturbing in their associations.
The White Cutter
Told in the first person, this is the story of "the son of a son of a son of a mason", Hedric Herbertson, who, at the age of forty-eight, tells of being raised in masons' lodges and construction sites. Purportedly written in 1287, the story runs from his birth in 1239 until his father’s death in 1253.
Hedric reveals that the stonemasons were hidden Albigensians whose priests, called Bonhomme, wore a small silver disc stamped with the letters BHM [p. 153.]
The story of his early life concludes with Hedric’s tutoring by Roger Bacon and his discovery that Robert Groseteste, Bishop of Lincoln; King Henry ; Sir Simon de Montfort and Master Henry de Reyns, master of the freemasons, comprise "the Four", a secret junta ruling mediaeval England, who are also the secret rulers of Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest.
Throughout the book Hedric refers to an architectural "First Style of Emergence" or French or Pointed Style as well as an undefined second style. He finishes his book by announcing that he has mastered this second style of Emergence and intends to develop a third once he has finished writing this book.
"His only true occupation, once the decision was taken to keep me, was the creation of a freemason who would eclipse all others." [p. 20.]
"Looking at each other is a deep part of the inner mason’s craft." [p. 20.]
"In the faith he adhered to, our secret, persecuted truth that has been forced to shelter within Christianity and the white cutter’s trade since the terrible twenty years of our agony, we have been sustained by an invisible church which cannot be corrupted because it only exists within the minds of its members." [p. 34.]
"Fixing my position by the stars was a skill that Bert knew and had passed on to me as it was incorporated into our cryptic principles of architecture." [p. 45.]
'Tell me something about the freemasons,' he whispered after a while. 'Do they really have the right to say what they like to the King? Why can't the Pope touch them?' [p. 60.]
"Everyone who worked in the building trade knew there were certain spiritual attachments and ideas which went with the mystery of the mason’s skill. They were the subject of much folklore, gossip and speculation; but there was always a point when the aspiring novice had to find out what was expected of him.
At the stage where they were accepted as full members of our craft and our faith they were made to swear oaths of secrecy that were backed up by the severest penalties should these oaths ever be broken." [p. 96.]
"It was the Feast of Saint Dionysius the threefold Areopagite, an author who, though Christian, is held in some respect by white cutters." [p. 99.]
"The secret religious bonds of the lodge were supposed to guarentee mutuial assistance, basic respect and fair treatment to all members...." [p. 124.]
"I'm loyal and I'm on the level." [p. 162.]
"In the year 1231 of the Christian reckoning a privy concordat was reached between the elders of our faith and Pope Gregory IX, the Inquisitor. We were granted freedom from persecution, toleration, the right to our own religion and its practice, provided that our existence and the agreement were kept concealed from common view.... The trade of mason was allotted to us but that was only a recognition of our domination of the craft, our exclusive ownership of this mystery." [p. 175.]
'Now you will swear your oath, Herbert Haroldson. Put your wine down. Leave your knife on your plate. Stand up. Roll your breeches up to your right knee. Oh, don't carp, man. Do it for fun. Put one hand on your son’s head, the other on... let’s see, put the string from that roll of pork round your neck and make a noose... hold the end. Now, my muse, visit me! An oath for a white cutter who knows more than he should.
'Repeat after me.... Are you ready?
'I Herbert Haroldson, swear by the genius of my son, Hedric... .... never to divulge what I have learnt of the inner order of High Albigensian Masonry from Henry de Reyns in the gatehouse of the Abbey of Westminster... on pain of torture and death." [pp. 175-76.]
"He had already mentioned the beauties Abbot Suger had created at Saint Denis and promised to teach me the arithmetical and geometrical basis of the French arch: a secret that was widely used by copying but not through understanding. This archtectural shape was a servant to the principle of light, a central truth of our faith, for light is immediate, daily visitation by the Good creator. Master Henry ad suggested to me that Abbot Suger — whose name had rung through Christendom as a great innovator in building — was not the man to whom the credit of the First Style of Emergence belonged, but the brotherhood of Albigenses had allowed him the plaudits for its own political purposes." [p. 193.]
'You don't need protection from us if you are on the level,' the mason said, grumbling. 'There’s no one here who wants trouble.' [p. 247.]

The White Cutter, David Pownall (1938 - ). New York : Viking Penguin Inc., 1989. ISBN: 0-670-82579-4. hc 320p.


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