Much that we consider to be 'masonic' can be found in other traditions.
THE KILLING OF LUMA LUMA
In Adrian Parker’s, Images in Ochre, we read of "The Killing of Luma Luma":
Luma Luma the giant taught the Kunwinjku people the sacred knowledge of the Mardayin ceremony. His dilly bags contain the rangga (sacred objects ["W.T.s"]) for the ceremony. Luma, however, did not teach the Kunwinjku all the sacred information, instead he used his knowledge to his benefit, demanding favours, especially women, in return for the knowledge. Angered at Luma’s constant taking of their women, Binninj men of both skin groups joined forces to kill Luma. They [15 of each group] chased him in their boats and speared him while he slept under a tree.
Obviously, their next problem was going to be the recovery of the lost secrets.
The Killing of Luma Luma, by Danny Djorlom
In this painting ["T.B."] the Binninj people can be seen spearing Luma while he sleeps. His dead body lies in the foreground. The dilly bags contain the sacred ceremonial objects ["W.T.s"] captured from him. One contains objects to be used by the Dhuwa [one skin group], while the other contains objects for the Yirridja [other skin group]. Ceremonial dancing sticks ["wands"] lie before the dilly bags. The songs, dances and ceremonial objects are different for each skin group.
Some Masons may be interested to know that those qualified to preside over some Aboriginal tribal ceremonies were once distinguished by their split or pierced tongue.
Perhaps also of interest is the preparation of this ceremonial ground plan (particularly the border). Emphasis is placed on the removal of all rocks and stones, which alludes to a dreamtime event where the Supreme Being is said to have removed all of the grinding stones from the first initiation site.
I make no apologies for presenting a positive perspective, as far too often the media portrays only the effects of alienation on Aboriginal culture: The negative face, featuring alcoholism, domestic violence and worse. Much of the legends and ceremonies have been lost. Some are being pieced together from the remaining elders and the records of anthropologists, filling the gaps from similar traditions. What remains may not be perfect but it may provide some structure, direction and meaning. Likewise, Freemasonry, might not be perfect but it too represents a similar hope.
Despite their diversity, Aboriginals are united and defined by their Songlines. Below is a modern Aboriginal depiction of that unity, while below that is a more conventional depiction of the major tribal groups.
Despite differing spoken languages, Aboriginals share a common sign language.
A poignant example from the linked report above describes how:
In 1935 a fair-skinned Australian of part-indigenous descent was ejected from a hotel for being an Aboriginal. He returned to his home on the mission station to find himself refused entry because he was not an Aboriginal. He tried to remove his children but was told he could not because they were Aboriginal. He walked to the next town where he was arrested for being an Aboriginal vagrant and placed on the local reserve. During the Second World War he tried to enlist but was told he could not because he was Aboriginal. He went interstate and joined up as a non-Aboriginal. After the war he could not acquire a passport without permission because he was Aboriginal. He received exemption from the Aborigines Protection Act—and was told that he could no longer visit his relations on the reserve because he was not an Aboriginal. He was denied permission to enter the Returned Servicemen's Club because he was.
I have read somewhere that a government convened meeting of Elders declared that they considered anyone with any Aboriginal lineage to be Aboriginal (if someone has more specific information I would very much like to be told). The current criteria is three-fold, requiring that the person:
is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry, and
identifies himself or herself as an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander; and
is accepted as an indigenous person by members of the indigenous community.
Just as masonic ceremonials are chiefly based on traditions associated with the builders of the temples in Jerusalem, Aboriginal traditions referred to similar associations with the workmen who prepared the Bora Ground for the first initiations (Reed; p.30/7).
Bro. Etheridge quoted a Dr. Alfred Howitt, saying (p.20):
In the full ceremony of the Kuringal (Coast Murrring) the ground was first carefully cleared of every stick and stone, and the earth thrown up into a circular mound. A cleared path led from this for some distance, through the bush, to a retired spot, where was a second enclosure of boughs. The mound and enclosure were known as the Great and Small Bunan respectively.
Bro. McDonough noted (p.67) that the three principal Arunta degrees corresponded to birth, life and death (together with a hint of what follows). They believed in a Supreme Being or All-Father. There were three principal officers, one of whom presided, and an unspecified number of assistant officers.
Dr. Howitt said:- ".... Between the initiated there is, as I have found, no reservation, but a feeling of confidence - I might even add almost of brotherhood" (Etheridge; p.20). Dr. Meggitt described how, the lodge Elders are ever ready to give ritual advice to the younger initiates (p.293):
.... in all the ceremonies that I saw, the brothers took great pride in their ability to discharge their multifarious duties without aid or prompting.
Although the ceremonies exhibited differences in detail from one occasion to the next, arising in response to practical exigencies, the men deplored such deviations from the dreamtime norms.
W.E. Harney, in his paper Ritual and Behaviour at Ayers Rock (p.9), refers to initiates being cautioned against talking too much (with death being the penalty for betrayal of secrets) and to guard against intruders (even chanting, "death to eaves-droppers," p.7).
Dr. Meggitt described how (p.191), among the Walbiri: " ... a man should never fight with a ritual friend ... and he should always try to halt a fight in which the friend is involved."
Bro. McDonough (p.69) described the basic layout of a Bora Ground, more precisely called the `Yagurdi' or `Mother.'
In a ceremony of the Arunta Natives at the initiation of a boy into manhood their lodge is laid out with 2 Pillars, usually limbs of trees, one in the North known as NUTRUNGA and one in the South known as WARRINGA.
Once, all men and women of basic moral and intellectual capacity were passed through the fundamental rituals to become fully initiated members of their tribe. Indeed, only initiated men and women were permitted to marry. After all the rituals concerned with the differing conditions of men and women had been experienced, both male and female elders came together in rituals concerned with the collective human condition and, for the worthy few, those rituals concerned with higher and wider spiritual matters.
R. Etheridge, 1915, Some Customs of the Australian Aborigines Singularly Akin to those Practiced by Freemasons, Transactions of the Sydney Lodge of Research No. 290, Vol. II
W.E. Harney, n.d., Ritual and Behaviour at Ayers Rock, Australasian Medical Publishing Co. Ltd., Sydney, (reprinted from Oceania, Sept., 1960, V.31, No.1)
McDonough, 1987, "The Signs & Symbols Associated with the F.C. Original Australians", in Insights into Masonry (edited by Kent Henderson), The Lodge of Research No. 218 (Victorian Constitution), East Melbourne
M.J. Meggitt, 1962, Desert People, 1962, Angus & Robertson, Sydney
For their 1°, in some tribes, candidates are clad in white down; some used a veil (McDonough, op.cit., p.73 & Meggitt, op.cit., p.287); and, according to Bro. Ward (n.d., p.206), among the Port Essington tribe, "... the initiate has to wear ... a kind of cable-tow, with the long end hanging down his back." and (ibid., p.198), among the Kamilarois of NSW, "There was the scoring with stone instruments of the left breast ..."
Bro. Etheridge, quoting from an account by John Henderson, published in 1832, wrote (pp.22/3):
The candidate is first conducted to the upper extremity of this closed path, where, while the points of spears are directed towards him, he is made to promise never to disclose the secrets which are about to be communicated. During the whole of the ceremony the spears continue to be poised at him; and the strongest imprecations are employed against the individual who shall dare to break his vows.
According to Bro. McDonough (op. cit., p.68), after being 'apprenticed' to his father for seven years, (since about seven years of age), a boy underwent a approximation of our 2°:
For the natives near Broome and on the north east coast at 14 the lad comes of his own free will and accord to a clearing in the bush with three fires burning one in the East, South and West. He is brought in by his 2 nearest male relatives (excepting his father) and laid on his back in the South East corner mid-way between 2 fires with his feet to the East... The lad is given various signs and secrets by the M.C. One sign is that of standing upright with his right foot on his left knee, right arm across the left breast clasping a spear upright at his left side. He is shown how to shade his eyes from glare with his left hand not unlike the Reverential Sign.
J.S.M. Ward, n.d., Who Was Hiram Abiff?, The Baskerville Press, London
Timothy Ives, Bundjalung Bora Ring Initiation Story
According to James Cowan (1992 B, p.57), each Candidate was taught a secret language (ankatja kerintja); given a secret name and received a churinga (sometimes in two halves), of wood or stone, preferably of white stone (Churchward, pp.53/5), often as a bullroarer and bearing a personal, totemic insignia. They could be pledged once for a favour (McDonough; p.71), but not again until the first favour had been redeemed (Churchward; op.cit.).
Dr. Meggitt (op. cit., p.289) described preparations for the ritual, adding:
Meanwhile, a mother's brother, makes a small windilburu bullroarer (sometimes two), on which he incises the boy's conception-dreaming design. The boy will receive this object after he is circumcised.
These personal churinga were modelled on ancient artefacts held in great reverence by the tribe or moiety (Cowan, 1992 A, p.109), giving legitimacy to their usage of the land. These great Churinga were lodged in places called Pertachera (usually caves or hollow trees) around the Bora Grounds (Cowan, 1992 A, p.108). The originals were said to have been given by the Dreamtime heroes. according to Etheridge (op. cit., p.23)
Churinga is a word signifying a sacred object, and is the name given ... to certain sacred objects which, on penalty of death, are never allowed to be seen by women or uninitiated men - rounded, oval or elongate, flattened stones, or sometimes wood, and curiously incised with devices.
As Dr. Meggitt informs us (p.288):
The designs on the boards, as well as representing the particular dreamings, are also "maps" of the dreaming countries or dreaming-tracks, so that the boards form part of a community's title deeds to its territory.
Dr. M.J. Meggitt (p.283) described the selection and replacement of Churinga, saying:
The masters choose beforehand several dreamings that are the most important in the novice's (community) country, but they exclude that of his father's lodge into which he is to be initiated.
They may also make new boards for the lodges to replace those damaged by termites or by exposure to the elements, or if those available are insufficient for the number of actors expected to participate in the later jarandalba ceremony. Men of the master patrimoieties, preferably members of the lodges concerned, supervise the working men, often marking out the designs to be incised; but it is unlawful for the masters themselves to complete these patterns (ibid., p.288)
These great Churinga were thought to be imbued with spiritual merit or power. While the personal churinga were treated respectfully, they were only acknowledged to be copies and reminders of these originals (to which copies a totemic mark had been added). Even so, after an initiate's long and meritorious life, their personal churinga might be seen to have imbued considerable power in its own right.
The Walbiri, call these great Churinga jarandalba boards,we read (ibid., p.293/4):
While other people are sleeping, the brothers produce a jarandalba board, preferably one associated with the lodge of the novice's father, although failing this, any board belonging to that patrimoiety will serve. Each brother in turn stands near the recumbent boy ... and shows him the board as he explains the significance of its markings.
Two such boards are selected to form a cross (ibid., p.299):
As the other men look on and sing the relevant dreamings, the fathers and the mother's brothers grease and red-ochre the two boards and begin making the cross wanigi. They lash the boards together at right angles with hair-string, which they lead around the arms of the cross to form a solid diamond about three feet wide.
Later, when the cross is revealed to the Candidate (ibid., p.302):
At that moment two brothers snatch him up and press his chest against the design on the cross to enable the lodge patrispirit to enter him
Albert Churchward, 1913, The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man: The Evolution of Religious Doctrines from the Eschatology of the Ancient Egyptians, (Second Edition), George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London
James G. Cowan, 1992 (A), Mysteries of the Dream-time: The Spiritual Life of Australian Aborigines, (revised edition), Prism Press, Bridport, Dorset, U.K.
James G. Cowan, 1992 (B), The Elements of The Aborigine Tradition, Element Books Ltd., Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK
Part of the initiation ceremony involved knocking out or rejecting a front tooth. Stretching the correspondences in the posts above, please bear-in-mind how the shape of a front tooth is similar to that of a K.S. and its place among the other teeth is similar to the place of a K.S. among the other stones of an arch. At first sight, this suggestion seems to be excessively speculative. However, supporting it, we find the working tools used to remove the tooth are a wooden chisel, struck by a stone mallet (Ward, n.d., p.202). Further, in at least some cases, the tooth is ultimately restored to the initiate as a token.
Later might come the ceremony of making a Wirinun or Master, (qualifying the candidate to preside over the basic tribal degrees). This, often involved the actual or symbolic piercing of the tongue (ibid., p.204). Further, according to Ward: "Some of these rites involve the sacrifice of a finger or the joint of a finger, evidently a substitute for cutting off the whole hand...." (ibid.; p.205).
Fraternally, Philip Carter / Facebook / Great is Truth and mighty above all things (I Esdras 4:41)
After the ceremony involving tooth evulsion, Bro. Ward (n.d., pp.202/3, corroborated by Sir James Frazer, 1987, p.693 and Bro. Etheridge, p.22), wrote that, among the Coast Murring tribe:
At about 11 a.m. the initiated men prepare the ground by digging a grave. Then sheets of bark were beaten out into fibre and from this cloaks were made for six men who were entirely enveloped in them from the crowns of their heads to the soles of their feet, thus completely covering their faces. Four of them were tied to a rope, which was fastened to the backs of their heads, and each man carried two pieces of bark in his hands. The other two men were not fastened to the first four but hobbled along leaning on sticks as if bent and old.
The another man [making seven in all] lay down in the grave on his back with his hands crossed on his chest and held upright thereon a small tree .... then covered with sticks leaves and plants, thus burying the man.
All being thus ready, the initiates were led to the brink of the grave and a man who belonged to the "Eagle" Totem sat on a tree trunk at the head of the grave singing a mournful dirge. Slowly there appeared out of the bush the two old medicine men, followed by the other four. They had come in search of the grave of a "supposedly" dead medicine man, i.e., a Master. It was now midday, and as the procession reached the sacred ground it broke into a solemn invocation to Daramulin, a mysterious spirit who is supposed to slay the initiates and then bring them back to life again.
Suddenly the tree began to sway from side to side. The procession which had reached the grave began to dance wildly and when excitement had reached its height the "dead" man threw out the tree and bursting from the grave began to dance in the grave itself, at the same time pointing to certain magic articles which he held in his mouth and which he was supposed to have received from the great Daramulin.
James George Frazer, 1987, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (abridged edition), Papermac (Macmillan), London