If you’re reading this blog, there’s little sense in giving you a recap of the first Episode of “Lodge 49” starring Wyatt Russell on AMC. If my hunch is correct, you saw the show and wondered what- if any of it- is real. If you haven’t watched the show, I would recommend the AMC app to take a look or watch it on demand. The network describes the show as a “modern-day fable”; for my money, its a kind of dark comedy that has the promise of a bright spot somewhere inside.
The truth is, there is in fact no Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx. But the Lynx is definitely based on real fraternal orders and it would not be inaccurate to describe the show as being quasi-Masonic in nature. There are without a doubt winks and nods to the many branches of Freemasonry in the show. But whereas some shows, movies and stories hint towards Masonry as a dark force, this show seems to take the more realistic look at fraternalism as being a way for people to connect with each other and hopefully enrich their lives.
The purpose of this blog is to take a look at the symbols and allusions seen in Lodge 49/ Order of the Lynx, and to find parallels (if any) within Freemasonry. If any of this is interest to you, or you have questions you’d like answered, feel free to reach out to me here or at firstname.lastname@example.org and i will do my best.
To the Brother Masons reading this, let me assure you that this blog will not reveal any secret Masonic “stuff”, nor do I claim to be an end-all-be-all expert in Freemasonry. In fact, if you know something I don’t, or I screw something up, please send your good counsel. However, I do have access to some of the finest Masonic in the world minds in the office below mine, and I will have zero issue with standing on their desk to help us all sort through the fact and the fiction.
So, to the task at hand, lets take a first look at Lodge 49, Episode one: As Above So Below. In the opening sequence, we find our hero Sean “Dud” Dudley on the beach with a metal detector, and finding a mysterious ring- upon which is stamped the symbol of the “Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx” and inside there is a Latin inscription. Dud takes the ring to a pawn shop and is told that its of little value, except to a Lynx.
These opening scenes have quite a lot of “real” to them, so let’s start at the beginning: Do Masons wear special rings? Well, yes and no.
Yes, many Freemasons choose to wear rings. They are a decoration like any other piece of jewelry, and there are no mysteries associated with a Master Mason’s ring. Masons LOVE LOVE LOVE to wear pins and rings and all kinds of Masonic stuff. We like to say “it don’t mean a thing if you don’t got the bling…”
Yes. We are nerds.
Traditionally, a man should not wear a Master Mason’s ring until he’s…you know….a MASTER MASON. But if a newbie wears one, no cloaked figure will beat him with a wet noodle. It’s just bad manners essentially.
There are two rings however that must be earned. The first is the 14th degree ring of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. If you’ve never heard of the Scottish Rite, I will get into that in another post. But essentially it is part of Freemasonry that you can’t join unless you are already a Master Mason. The 14th degree ring is a symbol of a man having received the 14th degree of Masonry, and it is a reminder of the promises he has made to be a better man. That ring is a simple gold band with a triangle on the outside with the Hebrew character “Yudh” inside it. The inside of the ring has the Latin phrase “Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit”.
There is little doubt in my mind that this is where the inspiration for the Lynx ring came from. The triangle is an important symbol in Freemasonry, one of the strongest building blocks of nature and also alludes to the number 3. The number three is sacred in many cultures and allusions to it can be seen in many philosophies: body/mind/ spirit in eastern philosophy, Father/ Son/ Holy Ghost in Christianity and so on. It also is the smallest unit of family- father, mother & child. The Latin phrase translates to “what virtue has united, death cannot separate”. This means that as Masons, we are bound together by our shared virtues and brotherly love.
The Hebrew character “Yudh” alludes to the name of God in the Hebrew language- Yahweh. This is not to because Freemasonry- Scottish Rite in particular- is rooted in Judaism, Christianity or any other specific faith. It was a symbol adopted for its simplicity and represents God in general without intentionally glorifying one faith/ dogma/ denomination over another.
This is a good place to mention that in the United States, no atheist can be made a Mason. However, there are no other rules regarding a man’s specific faith. There are Freemasons of all faiths- Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish and more. The point is that we all agree that there is a God and how a man chooses to worship is entirely up to him. In Lodge, though we pray at every meeting, we do not discuss religion at all. It is simply not allowed as to avoid argument in an environment where we are actively cultivating Harmony.
The 14th degree ring can be worn on either hand, and can be pointed away from or towards the wearer. Upon the passing of a Brother, the ring should be given to the owners oldest son or friend whom he loved the most, but he should not wear it as it represents a promise and a commitment made by the original owner, and therefore can never truly belong to some one else.
The 33rd degree ring is very similar to the 14th, only with different symbols and inscription. The 33rd degree ring is bestowed only upon those who achieve the 33rd degree, which is one of the highest honors in Masonry, and we will discuss in a later blog.
A quick note about the value of these types of Masonic items- they are usually only valuable to another mason, just as the ring Dud found on the beach. If you stumble across a Masonic trinket of any kind, chances are its dollar value is low unless there’s enough metal to melt it down and get a few bucks. If you have a yard sale or pawn shop find, you’d be better off mailing it to a local lodge and getting some good karma than trying for a payday.
If you have more questions about Masonic rings or any other part of Freemasonry, drop me a line or leave a comment and I will get it in the next blog. If you’d like help finding a Masonic lodge I can help with that as well. You can also tune into our podcast “The Tyler’s Place Podcast” wherever you listen to you favorite podcasts.
Tomorrow, we will get into the fancy titles all the members of the Lynx seem to have….