A Tour of the Grand Landlodge of the Freemasons of Germany
Today I attended a tour of the historical and mysterious Grosse Landesloge der Freimaurer von Deutschland. It was the very first activity of the The Unknown Berlin Group of WIB (Wilkommen in Berlin). Mystery and secrets surround the freemasons, more so after Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol added to the fascination & myths. The rooms that we were allowed to see are usually only open once a year to the public, so it was very exciting to see behind these closed doors! Sharing photos and highlights of the tour after the jump.
Let me start with some quotes on articles I found on the internet…
It’s a wonder how such an old Fraternity that has the noblest of intentions, can be so misunderstood – no thanks to the help of an International bestselling novel.
We gathered in the beautiful foyer of the lodge, where there were gorgeous leather chairs surrounding a real fireplace. My eyes were like saucers. The brothers welcomed us very warmly and they were eager to shed some light to those who are interested to know what Freemasonry is really all about.
I still can’t get over it when I’m asked by someone to take my coat. It’s something so foreign to me as a Filipino, where there is barely any need for coats, unless there is a typhoon. I was impressed by the huge coat room.
I also noticed that there is a restaurant called Bergel’s. I checked online and found their website HERE. I now realize that the ground floor is open to visitors to dine in the restaurant and for meetings and events.
This is a room where the members have casual gatherings. The walls usually have works of art and it changes from time to time.
On display are plates and special thick bottomed glasses that they use for something (I totally forgot to ask our guide!). I liked this room because the chairs felt comfy, soft and well-worn, but there are hints of it’s original details, like the delicate gold details of the leather in angled light.
FIRST FLOOR (or second floor for Filipinos like me)
Time to go up! This is the area is usually cordoned off. They do not allow the public to see these areas, except once a year in September. If you are interested to visit and take the tour, I highly recommend getting in touch ASAP. Their contact details are in the bottom of this post.
Unbelievably, we allowed to go inside their Temple. Temple is the room where the masons congregate and practice their rituals and traditions. It is not a place of prayer, the way a temple is to a religion. We sat down and asked whatever questions we had about the room and their practices. They tried their best to answer without breaking their “vow of secrecy.” It was an eye-opening and enlightening experience.
What I liked most during the Q&A was how Herr Jörg told us that they go into the room all dressed in their traditional attire and start with a ritual of questions and answers (that may not make much sense to us who are outside their organisation) to clear their minds and get into a meditative state of mind. After this, anyone in their group can step up to the lectern and speak about any topic of their choice. During this time, no one in the room may react in any way, verbally or otherwise. After the speeches are over, they leave the room without talking and then go into another room have a discussion. This gives each person time to accept another person’s opinion as well as consider and reflect on them before reacting. This is so refreshing especially in today’s world of instant reaction via Twitter, FB, etc. I really enjoyed listening to the values that they promote in their brotherhood. This visit really made me think and admire the Freemasons.
The symbol of the all-seeing eye can be traced back to thousands of years BC. It is not an exclusive symbol of the United States nor the Freemasons. And it means many things to different peoples and cultures.
In the ceiling, an installation displayed a plethora of lit stars. Usually the lodge’s temple ceiling depicts the stars alignment when the lodge was established. Isn’t that a wonderful tradition? It makes me think of how much history and time has passed since the beginning of Freemasonry. I think it’s really cool that they are devout about traditions and symbolisms that have spanned such a long period.
Freemasonry uses so many symbolisms: the wearing of an apron, white gloves and white bow-tie is no exception. We saw in the artwork below the “Star of David” and asked Herr Jörg about it and he said that this symbol is very old, and it is not an exclusively Jewish symbol. When I did a little google-ing, I found that this is a relatively new symbol in Judaism. If you notice, the star has one triangle that points up (higher being?), and the other points down towards the earth. Symbols are lovely because it opens the mind and makes one think.
Did you know that Friedrich the Great was a Freemason? There are many famous Freemasons from all over the world throughout history, like George Washington. It was pointed out to me by Hope that our National Hero, Jose Rizal, was also a Freemason and so are many of our other National Heroes in the Philippines. Also, it was interesting to note that in Germany there are women Freemasons. They usually have their own lodge exclusive to women. However, they are able to visit each other’s lodges but cannot perform their rites in the temple with the opposite gender.
At the end of the interesting and information-packed tour (forgive me because I cannot write it all down here!), we sat down to some coffee and biscuits which they graciously served us. It was a great time for our group leaders to say thank you and present them with tokens of appreciation. And we were able to sit down, chat and get to know the other members of The Unknown Berlin group of the WIB.
Here is the picture that I quickly took in the rain. It’s not complete because I took it before everyone was able to come out and before my camera got totally soaked. This is not the official picture of the visit, but a photo op I just had to jump in on.
Since long before The Lost Symbol,Freemasons have been accused of everything from conspiring with extraterrestrials to practicing sexual deviancy to engaging in occult rituals to running the world—or trying to end it. Detractors include global conspiracy theorists and religious organizations, including the Catholic Church…
On a personal note, I want to thank Herr Jörg for giving us a wonderful tour and patiently answering all our questions, enlightening me and making me reflect along the way.
I also want to thank Claude who was the most gracious host to us, his smiling presence brought smiles to us guests too. Thank you!
I am so happy I was able to join this tour and I applaud the group leaders of The Unknown Berlin (WIB) for a job well done. Not only did they organise such an interesting tour, but they also did research beforehand and helped us “laypeople” understand the tour better. Thank you so much Karla and Sonny!
To those who are interested in seeing the Freemason’s Grand Landlodge of Germany, it’s the perfect time to get in touch with them for their annual open house. This only happens once a year and I am not sure what date it is in September. Contact information below.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH ME ON
*Information posted are to the best of my recollection and understanding. If you find any errors, please write me on the comments section below and I will do my best to correct the information. The opinions I wrote are mine alone, and are simply just opinions.
- Peter Lenne-Str. 1-3, 14195 Berlin (near U3 Podbielskiallee)
- +49 30 841716-0