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The Legend of Hiram

Dernière mise à jour : 15 juil. 2020

A legend that stands out as a founding legend

Historians (and in particular Roger Dachez) have reconstructed the conditions that allowed, in England at the beginning of the 18th century, to impose this legend as the founding legend of primordial Freemasonry, the one limited to three degrees.

Although "diverse" interests wanted to add other legends, invent more or less delirious rites, this legend remains a reference that deserves to be understood and explained.

Our contribution wishes to focus on two essential points:

  • understand,

  • put this legend in its rightful place.

The legend of Hiram belongs to the category of legends that developed mainly in the Middle Ages in Europe.

It seems to be related to the legends that identified the trade guilds and in particular to those of Master Jacques and Father Soubise.

Basically these legends refer to a pagan culture more or less rejected by the church.

The legend of Hiram and the others evoke in particular the fate of the corpse; for the church, the corpse is only "dust", whereas in popular belief the corpse can have a future. This is the case for the three legends of Master Hiram, Master James and Father Soubise.

Note the link that English-speaking authors make with The Legend of Wieland, the Blacksmith, which is found in the mythical character of Tubal-cain, mentioned in the Bible.

We can better understand why this legend of Hiram was incorporated into the Masonic corpus and why it was, at the beginning, a reference.

René Girard's Thought Applied to Understanding the Legend of Hiram

At the origin of this "sacrificial" myth, which, for René Girard, is necessary for the cohesion of the group and its perpetuation, there is the mimetic desire, with its triangulation (the object of desire, the desiring and the mediator), which the author highlights in the process of the emergence of violence.

In the myth of Hiram, the object of desire is the "secret" that Hiram possesses, in the position of mediator; the desirers are the bad companions "possessed" by their mimetic desire of Hiram's "secret". The murder of Hiram, the central element of the legend, takes place as a ritual sacrifice magnified by Hiram's "reincarnation" into a new master.

René Girard's work, which complements other important works on group drives, helps us understand the importance of myths and their permanence in similar forms in different civilizations. It also makes it possible to observe the functioning of lodges and obediences, and in particular their historical quarrels!

But the Girardian thought also allows to "revisit" the importance of the wonderful challenge of this ideal of perfection that we call the Masonic ideal, an ideal in which violence is evacuated by the claim of the individuality of each in the chain of solidarity and the preventive treatment of violence through the practice of the rite.

Notes : Some works by René Girard, ( 1923 -2015 )

  • Violence and the Sacred (1972)

  • The Sacrifice (2003)

  • From violence to divinity (2007)

The sacrifice (the ritual) mimically replays the crisis and its resolution, in order to ward off the return of this crisis.

The sacrificial victim is the first thing put in the place of another - the first symbol. The ritual repeats the original scene where the community came close to chaos; it thus vaccinates society against its own violence; culture will become possible.

About the book "Hiram and Freud"...

Interview with the authors: Marie-Hélène Gonnin and Jacques Fontaine,

Edition Numérilivres - Produced by Baglis TV

This video was entrusted to us by a brother who subscribes to BaglisTV.

It is a fascinating subject that Jacques Fontaine and Hélène Gonnin address in their book: how to understand the Masonic approach from an analytical point of view and how to get out of "inappropriate" practices to improve the functioning of the lodges.

Baglis TV by making a remarkable interview of the authors offers a quality commentary. The entire interview, which lasts about 1 hour and a half, is available on Baglis TV, the channel of initiation.

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