Did the Oak Island Legend Start Out as a Masonic Ritual?

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Did the Oak Island Legend Start Out as a Masonic Ritual?

Postby Dennis King on Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:08 pm

Posters,
The astonishing similarities between the Oak Island and Chignecto Isthmus Money Pit Legends leads me to believe they have a common origin, and looking for that common origin has lead me to reconsider Joe Nickell's theory that the OI Money Pit started as a natural sink-hole, which as Joe points out, are common in that part of Nova Scotia, and a Masonic legend somehow attached itself to that natural sink-hole to create the start of the Money Pit Legend as we now have it. As long time participants in this forum will recall, I am myself a freemason and I have always hitherto dismissed the Nickell theory as far fetched and contrived, but I now feel Nickell is on to something, for the following reasons:

1. I offer the following as an hypothesis in order to generate some discussion and elicit some feedback. Joe Nickell identifies the Masonic degree which is the source of the Oak Island Legend as the Holy Royal Arch Degree, but for reasons I expand on below, I think the similarities between that degree and the OI Money Pit Legend are too few in number for that particular degree to be a credible source.
2. However, I have identified another Masonic degree ritual, and associated legendary material, which have a number of points of similarity to the Oak Island legend, and is a much more credible source for the legend than the Holy Royal Arch.
3. For the benefit of those forum participants who are not freemasons, it may be as well for me to give some background information on freemasonry to set the context. (I myself have been a freemason for 11 years). There are a great number of Masonic degrees available, at least 100 being readily available throughout the English speaking world, and probably another 800-1000 degrees which are either no longer “worked” (i.e. no longer practised), or only available in a few areas of the world. Each degree generally comprises a two act play, designed to teach the candidate or initiate various lessons to develop good character and high standards of integrity and morality etc. Usually most members of the degree participate in such play, taking roles which they are supposed to learn by heart, like actors in real plays. It all sounds very quaint and old fashioned, I know, but those of us who are enthusiastic freemasons get immense enjoyment and satisfaction out of it. The majority of freemasons only ever do the three standard degrees, being the so called “craft” or “blue” degrees, and only the minority of freemasons go on to do various of the other degrees which are called “side degrees”. I myself, for example, have done the three craft degrees and have also done about 25 of the side degrees, albeit I have done 14 of those “by name” only, meaning I have not done the degree ceremonies in those 14 but they have been awarded to me through a commonly available dispensation in the degree system known as “the Scottish Rite” in North America and known as “the Rose Croix” in other English speaking nations. Up until say the mid 1800s, Masonic degree ceremonies (also known as “rituals”) were generally not written down, and were orally transmitted from Mason to Mason, with the result that Masonic rituals eventually acquired considerable variation between Lodges and between nations. Even after the rituals started to get written down, they were frequently revised to delete old material and incorporate new material, and Masonic authors frequently “mixed and matched” their ritual from different rituals, legends, and historical materials. As a result, Masonic ritual tends to evolve and metamorphose over time. That is, Masonic ritual tends not to be a static thing, but is constantly morphing into new forms, although the rate of change differs between the various Masonic orders so that, for example, the ritual of the craft degrees will probably tend to change at a slower rate than the ritual of the side degrees. In order to teach its lessons of good conduct and integrity etc etc, Masonic ritual makes extensive use of “symbols”, so that for example the stonemason’s set square symbolises good conduct.
4. I now refer to Joe Nickell’s article which postulates that the Oak Island legend started off as a natural sink hole onto which the Masonic ritual of the Holy Royal Arch Degree somehow attached itself, to give our modern version of the Oak Island legend. See this link:

http://www.csicop.org/si/2000-03/i-files.html




5. However, while there are some similarities between the Masonic Holy Royal Arch Degree and the Oak Island legend, they are few in number and limited to the following as far as I can see:
• In the Royal Arch ritual, three labourers called “sojourners” work at the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, preparing the ground for the foundations of the second temple built by the Jews after their return from their Babylonian captivity. The three sojourners excavate a tunnel or passage below the site of the first temple, corresponding to the three discoverers of the Oak Island pit excavating the pit.
• The three sojourners eventually discover a hidden vault by their crowbar striking the roof of the vault and making a hollow sound, which corresponds to the original excavators of the Oak Island pit sinking a crowbar into the mud and striking what they assumed was the treasure chest.
• The three sojourners eventually enter the hidden vault and discover treasures in the form of a gold plate on which the long lost true name of God is inscribed and also the scroll containing the original version of the Book of Genesis etc, corresponding to the treasure which the original excavators of the Oak Island pit were thwarted from recovering at the last minute.
On the other hand, the differences between the Royal Arch ritual and the Oak Island legend are numerous and substantial, to the point where I myself (being a Royal Arch member) find Nickell’s parallels between the Royal Arch and the Oak Island legend to be far-fetched and contrived.
6. But, I have discovered another Masonic ritual and associated legends which exhibit some quite suggestive parallels to the Oak Island legend. I refer to the 13th Degree of the System of 33 Degrees known in North America as the Scottish Rite and known in other English speaking nations as the Rose Croix, which 13th Degree is variously called the Royal Arch of Enoch, the Royal Arch of Solomon, and Master of the 9th Arch. The parallels include the following:
6.1. The ritual of this Enochian degree refers to the biblical patriarch Enoch excavating nine apartments or vaults below the ground, one above the other in a vertical line below ground, and each roofed with an arch. In the lowest vault, he deposited a treasure comprising a gold plate inlaid with jewels and containing the secret name of God. Note that the nine vaults in a vertical line below ground with arched roofs corresponds to the nine layers of oak logs in the Oak Island money pit, at 10 foot intervals down to a depth of 90 feet. For an old ritual for the 13th Degree which is no longer worked, having been superseded by more modern versions of the ritual, see the following link (see the final section of the ritual entitled “History” for an account of the nine vertically aligned apartments).
http://www.bradford.ac.uk/webofhiram/?s ... Enoch.html


6.2. Over the top apartment, Enoch built a modest temple which was roofless and of unhewn stones. See the section entitled “History” at the above link. The roofless temple of unhewn stones corresponds to the layer of flagstones at 2 foot depth discovered in the money pit by McGinnis, Vaughan, and Smith.
6.3. Enoch’s lifetime was before the Great Flood of Noah, which Enoch prophesised. Fearing that the great secrets would be lost in the flood, including the secret name of God, “he concealed the grand secret [i.e. the secret name of God], engraven on a white oriental porphyry stone, in the bowels of the earth”. See Royal Masonic Cyclopedia, quoted at the following links:
http://www.mystae.com/restricted/stream ... tuals.html
http://www.mystae.com/restricted/stream ... enoch.html


Now get this: the inscribed stone found at about the 90 foot depth in the Oak Island money pit is often suggested to have been porphyry; see for example:
- Fanthorpe, The Oak Island Mystery, page 31 and other pages.
- Crooker, Oak Island Gold, page 21.
- Harris & McPhie, Oak Island And Its Lost Treasure, page 30.
6.4. Further, the writings engraved on the porphyry stone in Enoch’s subterranean pit in Masonic lore corresponds to the hieroglyphics engraved on the inscribed stone found in the Oak Island money pit.
6.5. From Masonic author Albert Mackey’s work entitled “The History of Freemasonry”, Chapter 41, on the Legend of Enoch, we have the following quotation:
“The legend proceeds to inform us that after Enoch had finished the construction of the nine vaults, fearing that the principles of the arts and sciences which he had assiduously cultivated would be lost in a universal deluge of which he had received a prophetic vision, he erected above ground two pillars, one of marble, to withstand the destructive influences of fire, and one of brass, to resist the action of water. On the pillar of brass he engraved the history of the creation, the principles of the arts and sciences, and the doctrines of speculative masonry as they were then practised; and on the pillar of marble he inscribed in hieroglyphic characters the information that near the spot where they stood a precious treasure was deposited in a subterranean vault.”
A copy is available at this link:
http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/mackeyfr.html


Note the reference to hieroglyphic characters giving the information that nearby was a precious treasure, which of course corresponds to the most common translation of the inscribed stone message from Oak Island as reading “40 feet below 2 million pounds are buried”.
6.6. Incidentally, on the assumption the inscribed stone from the Oak Island money pit records a message in Spanish, it can be translated as “At 80, guide maize or Millet into the estuary or stream”, which alludes to the well known Masonic symbolism of “an ear of corn near a fall of water” which any freemason will recognise. For a link on this so-called Spanish translation of the inscribed stone, see the following (which incidentally also points out that the nine log platforms of the Oak Island money pit correspond to the nine vaults of Enoch):
http://www.sirbacon.org/mckaig.htm


6.7. According to Masonic legend, the Enochian treasure in the 9th chamber or vault was rediscovered by three men during the construction of King Solomon’s temple which was built over the top of Enoch’s system of nine vertically stacked vaults: “Adoniram and two of his assistants (Yehu-Aber and Satolkin) successively lowered each other into the dark vertical passage, each reaching farther than the one before him. Finally, Adoniram himself reached the 9th apartment where he discovered the treasure left there by Enoch”.
The above quotation comes from the following link:

http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/thirteenth_degree.htm


Adoniram and his two assistants correspond to the trio of McGinnis, Vaughan and Smith discovering the Oak Island money pit.
6.8. The Apocryphal Book of Enoch was lost to the rest of the world for 2,000 years until it was rediscovered in Abyssinia in the 1700s. An English translation includes the following passages of Enochian tradition:
"89.2 And again I raised my eyes to heaven, and saw a high roof, with seven water channels on it, and those channels discharged much water into an enclosure.
89.3 And I looked again, and behold, springs opened on the floor of that large enclosure, and water began to bubble up, and to rise above the floor. And I looked at that enclosure until its whole floor was covered by water."
The above passages correspond to the Oak Island money pit and also the Chignecto Isthmus pit both filling up with water.
6.9. Also from the Book of Enoch:
"89.5 And all the bulls of that enclosure, were gathered together, until I saw how they sank, and were swallowed up and destroyed, in that water."
This passage corresponds to Sophia Sellar’s oxen sinking into the cave in pit and to the blacksmith’s cow sinking into the Chignecto Isthmus pit. For a link to the relevant passages of the Book of Enoch, refer to the following:
http://exodus2006.com/5enoch.htm


6.10. The Enochian tradition of a valuable treasure at the bottom of a system of vertically stacked vaults underground corresponds to the Oak Island tradition of a valuable treasure at the bottom of the money pit.
6.11. The triangle is a traditional symbol of the Enochian degree in freemasonry, and alludes to the stone triangle found on Oak Island which pointed to the money pit, on the south shore of the Island.
7. I would argue there are too many parallels between the Oak Island money pit legend and the Masonic traditions of Enoch to be totally coincidental. The clincher, to my way of thinking, is the porphyry stone with hieroglyphic characters on it, which is a classic example of Masonic symbolism, especially the translation which alludes to the traditional Masonic motif of “an ear of corn near to a fall of water”. The reason why the porphyry stone with hieroglyphic characters is classic Masonic symbolism is that the porphyry stone features prominently in the Masonic side degree known as the Royal Ark Marriners, and stones engraved with non English characters feature in a number of Masonic degrees including the Mark Master Masons Degree.
8. So how did the Enochian rituals and traditions of freemasonry’s 13th Degree (in the Scottish rite) get engrafted onto the natural sink hole that was probably the genesis of the money pit, to create the beginnings of the Oak Island money pit legend as we now know it? We will probably never know for sure, but it now seems likely that the whole money pit saga started out as a 13th Degree ritual which I would hypothesise later evolved into a Masonic prank by Mahone Bay Masons on their neighbours and which got so out of hand that its perpetrators felt they could not confess without dire consequences for themselves. Any freemason who had done the 13th Degree in the Scottish rite would have at once recognised the whole money pit legend as Masonic lore, but anybody else would not have so recognised it and might understandably have believed it as true history.
9. Not all of the 11 elements in paragraph 6 and its subparagraphs above appear in the ritual referred to in the link in paragraph 6.1, but the explanation would be the fact that Masonic rituals change over time, and it was especially true in the 1800s that Masonic ritual tended to evolve at a rapid rate, incorporating new material and discarding old material; see the following quotation:
"It must be remembered that Albert Pike wrote the Degrees of the Scottish rite in the 19th century and in doing so, he selected, combined, deleted and elaborated material from the numerous and varied degrees existing at the time".
The above quotation is from the following link:
http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/thirteenth_degree.htm


10. We still have a long way to go to complete the explanation of how the money pit legend got started and how it reached its present form, but I believe we are now on the right track. Much to my surprise, Joe Nickell’s hunch that the Oak Island legend is at its heart a Masonic tradition would appear to be correct, although it would appear it is based on the 13th Degree or Royal Arch of Enoch rather than on the Holy Royal Arch Degree suggested by Nickell.

11. Well, you say, what about the flood tunnels? My answer is that they don't exist; see my previous posting at the following link, of 29 March 2004:

http://forum.oakislandtreasure.co.uk/vi ... ight=#2559

I should record that the artificial beach and the box drains under that beach may well exist; but as previously argued by me, I do argue there are no flood tunnels linking them to the Pit, and they have no connection to the Pit, their true purpose being unknown.

12. Well, you say, at what point does the Money Pit saga cease being legend and become recorded history? I am still trying to make up my mind on this one, but I incline to the view that the Money Pit started out as a natural sink-hole, and its saga is legendary (based on the 13th degree of the Scottish Rite) until say the 1820's-1830's, so that its true factual foundation as recorded history starts with the work of the Truro Syndicate in the 1840's. It would appear the Truro Syndicate believed the Masonic ritual as true history when in fact it was not.

13. Now I know my views will not be welcome in all quarters, but we all need to remember that any solution of the OI Mystery has to account for its remarkable similarities to the Chignecto Money Pit Legend, and a common source in Masonic Tradition is a convincing way of accounting for those similarities, at least to my way of thinking.

14. I would welcome the forum's feedback. Please keep the level of abuse as low as possible.

Regards from Down Under.
Dennis King.
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Re: Did the Oak Island Legend Start Out as a Masonic Ritual?

Postby Ken on Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:06 am

Hi, Bro. Dennis,

So are you saying that the excavation by McGinnis, Vaughan and Smith in 1795 is just a legend, that the excavation didn't occur at all? Or that the story of their excavation has evolved to match the 13th Degree in the AASR? A Degree that wasn't written until after their excavation in 1795?

I also don't understand the following sentence:

Dennis King wrote:...we all need to remember that any solution of the OI Mystery has to account for its remarkable similarities to the Chignecto Money Pit Legend...


Why does one solution have to account for similarities to another legend?

My apologies if I am missing something here - it's been a long week already (even though it's only Tuesday) in a particularly bad month, and it is late.....

Having said all of that, this York Rite Mason may just have to petition for the Scottish Rite Degrees....

Fraternally,

Ken
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Scotish Rite

Postby Tank04 on Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:27 pm

Dennis,

I'll not abuse you, but I won't accept what you have written for so many reasons I feel belaboured to begin on it.

I will say this. You have spent a great deal of time writing about this and have obviously expended a great deal of energy working on this idea.

It sounds like classic paranoid conspiracy theory to me. Are we to accept that everyone since 1795 has been working a lie and adding to it? Each too embarrassed to admit they had been duped?
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dualism...lol...ooops

Postby eldridge on Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:55 pm

:P
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Postby eldridge on Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:55 pm

So are you saying that the excavation by McGinnis, Vaughan and Smith in 1795 is just a legend, that the excavation didn't occur at all? Or that the story of their excavation has evolved to match the 13th Degree in the AASR? A Degree that wasn't written until after their excavation in 1795?


Or did Great Grandaddy, Smith and Vaughn re-enact a Templar Rite that day in 1795?

The Degree may not have been written as we know it in the AASR, but the intrinsic ritual was already very old and integral to the craft, whether it be under the "Grand Lodge" and its post-rationalism or elsewhere. Even the tools, as has been noted, can be seen as symbolic when viewed in reference to significant events in the history of what we now refer to as Freemasonry, or more accurately, the history of ancient Masonry.
Those events, be they literal or metaphorically allegorical, are best described in the Masonic Testament as recently compiled by Messrs. Knight and Lomas, due to its comprehensive yet simplistic interpretation of the ancient rites.
In the past decade or so, as I have been learning more and more about the real and/or imagined complexities of this mystery, I cannot help but note that similarities exist between Oak Island discovery "accounts" and the history of Masonry. Undeniably the majority of such "connections" are rubbish spurned by modern conspiracists and "ne'er-think-wells", but the key parallels, as noted by a number of scholars and enthusiasts remain the core of a significant anamoly to me.
I'll be the first to admit that I have snubbed "traditional legends" of that day in 1795 in favour of a more purist approach. BUT, having said that, even if the legend of our "Three Sojourners" in 1795 was indeed legend, the connection is still present. Admittedly, not considering the Sinclair and Templarism lore of OI, the task of McGinnis, Smith and Vaughan may seem rather mundane.....three guys...a few tools and a hole....maybe some pirate treasure.
Now add in Sinclair...or even much earlier trans-oceanic contact with Enochian concepts....Bonnie's connections to Sufism, Templarism, The Crusades (after her years of diligent searching)...the Sacred Geometry of Acadia as shown by J. Coleman and others....N4n's awesome topography and imagery links....Portugese Templar links...Spanish links...Vorle's wealth of info on the Hugenots and French nobility....Templar New France etc...John Bear's Kluskap work and in transatlantic 'replication"...and all the other relative insights offered up on this great forum far too numerous to mention...hell even some swashbucklin pirate (Seamasons) links...consider too the involvement of Modern Freemasons.... the Big Picture.....overwhelming at times....overwhelmingly singular! And much more significant in perspective.
The ancient vaults were numbered and passed thru in succession.
Is it possible that OI was just one of several vaults as I, among others, have previously theorised? Is the key to each of those vaults in a combination of allegory, lore, Sacred Geometry and the re-enactment of ancient rites? If so, what is the key to the geometry? Is it in art, allegory, the stars? Or all.
regards,
Eldridge
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Postby . . . on Thu Nov 25, 2004 7:39 pm

 
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Postby eldridge on Tue Nov 30, 2004 2:42 pm

Sir Tankard,

It sounds like classic paranoid conspiracy theory to me. Are we to accept that everyone since 1795 has been working a lie and adding to it? Each too embarrassed to admit they had been duped?


You know me and my conspiracist induced ulcers....objective anthropology is my mantra BUT.....increasingly I am drawn back to the very things Mr King and myself, among many others to be quite fair, have been noting.....some for many decades as we know.

Two thoughts
Why would one be embarrassed about being "duped" if they were unaware?
And from a different perspective.....what is embarrassment really in comparison to honour or indeed, duty?
We look at the big picture of political climes during the centuries in question and are sometimes reluctant to marry that with the religious baggage it still carried. The fact stands that, although many are reluctant, to concede that a post reformation Britannia was driven by anything other than colonisation, territorial smash and grabs, fish and fur would be an oversight. Indeed, it would seem that the hand of esoterica was in motion throughout. And by that I don't necessarily evoke an image of tarot card reading, water scrying Geo. Washington.... I'm speaking of Enochian philosophy.....a last brittle thread, to the chagrin of modern masons, linking a modern Age of Enlightenment to a very ancient one.
Commensurate with their multinational "fellows" and independent of the yoke of mainstream politicking and preaching of the day, these men and women did somewhat strange albeit quite benign things over the centuries of colonial expansion. Arguably not a Religion but a Philosophy no less, Masonry ( or in borderless terms Templarism ) exerted tremendous force. It became the Age of Enlightenment....that's what drove them...that is what they believed and I am tending to find it no less believable today even as we come into our own age. Which seems to have little to do with the quiet Lodge down the street. Sorry conspiracists but y'all must stop smokin yer hemp socks.


regards and good to be back,
Kel
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Postby Bonnie on Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:14 pm

eldridge, thanks for that.
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Hyperbole

Postby Tank04 on Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:35 pm

Eldridge,

I think we are spending too much time trying to get an answer for something that may not or does not exist. Absolute proof that McInnis, Vaughan and Smith were Masons on a pledge to commit what amounts to a joke on 209 years of treasure hunters.

There is no proof or even suspicion that any of the three were Masons, and they would had to have been so in order to commit the "story" to future memory for their entertainment/Masonic Degree.

I would further suggest they were nothing more than farmers, recent immigrants, and simple men with no axe to grind. My eyes glaze over at the thought of mass conspiracy, it is a demon that dwells in the house of those with too much time on their hands.
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Postby eldridge on Wed Dec 01, 2004 2:47 pm

Tank,

There is no proof or even suspicion that any of the three were Masons, and they would had to have been so in order to commit the "story" to future memory for their entertainment/Masonic Degree.


I have always conceded to that..... but something smacks of conspiracy whether it be mass or not.

And to be quite frank, ANY explanation for Oak Island involving two or more individuals qualifies as a conspiracy does it not?


I would further suggest they were nothing more than farmers, recent immigrants, and simple men with no axe to grind. My eyes glaze over at the thought of mass conspiracy, it is a demon that dwells in the house of those with too much time on their hands.


I would like to think the same. Immigrant farmers...of whom some may have been soldiers.
And aside from good mysteries, most conspiracy theories get my hackles up too....however in looking back at certain eras it is plain to see that the political and religious prime motivators were all about conspiracy. Crown against Crown...Religion against Religion.....Church vs State.....Opposition against Government....Ruler against his Subjects or indeed vice versa....I could go on...Nation vs Nation...Corporation vs Competitor....or Consumer etc etc etc...all conspiracies in their own right. I don't think a conspiracy need be that massive to be mass.

Just some thoughts from shadow areas.

Kel
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