Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mersey Mason's part 1.

"When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend. "

William Blake

 When spiritualist-Madam Blavatsky arrived in Liverpool, en route from the US to India in 1879, it would be fair to say that despite her reputed precognitive gifts, she had little knowledge that in our journey to Cielo Drive, she was passing through what Jung would come to describe as 'the pool of life' (1).
Hitler, extreme commissary of the madams Ariosophy, was in 1912, still yet to pen his poison manifesto-Mein Kampf, but his literary assertions may have been further piqued by a curious publication entitled 'Bibby's" annual and indeed, one of its esteemed contributors.

Edited and compiled by Liverpool councilor Joseph Bibby, of J Bibby and sons, King Edward street, Liverpool 3, the volumes were said to contain 'materials of agricultural interest'-which given that Bibby's main source of income was as a miller is unsurprising. And yet animal feed and manure were not the fledgling editors singular interest, and as the books progressed, so did esoterical themes to include topics on socialism, mysticism, Arthurian and Grecian mythology ,along with matters of spirituality which included Theosophy- the manifesto of the madam herself. 

Running alongside such distinct text, were beautifully reproduced illustrations, often by a roster of the most eminent of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood- Burne-Jones, Rossetti,Leighton, Holman-Hunt,William Morris, William Blake and Aubrey Beardsley.(2)
Unsurprising, when one considers that a stones throw across the banks of the Mersey, one of its regular contributors(3) and fellow philanthropist Sunlight soap magnate-Viscount-Lord Leverhulme-was an avid collector of the movement, and would go on to dedicate an entire gallery in memory of his late wife Elizabeth in 1922.

William Hesketh Lever, was born 19th September 1851, and after establishing Lever brothers with his brother James, set the sights and sites of his empire beyond the austere crags of the soap factory, into what would become Port Sunlight model village. Built as affordable accommodation for his employees,with its serried rows of tied cottages (with an obvious debt to William Morris), it's corporate affectation of enclosed rural community for a proletariat workforce-with hospital, church, concert hall and open air swimming pool, sails a little too close to Hitlers idea of Germania in retrospect, particularly when one considers that the workers were eligible for eviction from both job and abode, if they transgressed any of the intrusive rules or refused to participate in the mandatory activities. 

Still, I can attest that even today, it is a beautiful if oddly quaint village, with its mix of Tudor, Flemish and Greco architecture, it brings to mind Portmerion-the village in Wales, used prominently in the 60's television series-The Prisoner (4) starring Patric Macgoohan
Indeed, it seems all the more incongruous in that beyond the confines of the railway that separates it, is one of Merseyside's most lowly area's.

Yet its the art gallery which is the jewel set in the centre of the villages crown, with it's Beaux arts classicism (5) and marble and Wedgewood interiors, it houses a portion of Leverhulmes vast collection of Art and antiquity from the neoclassic period of 1750 to 1900, along with Jacobean furniture, Napoleonic artifacts and Greek and Roman antiquity set in a rotunda fit for King Solomon. But its beneath the marble floors, that lies the true beating heart in what is an unprecedented collection of Masonic regalia, bearing emblems of the Scottish rite (6).  This was no passing collectors fad, Lord Leverhulme's was a Grand Warden Freemason, and it is said that William sought Freemasonry as a tool, for fostering 'social cohesion and high standards amongst the male workforce. Still, the Chairman distinguished himself by initiating a lodge in his name in 1902 along with founding a startling number of sister lodges in and around the Merseyside area. 

It is the Mersey Lodge, founded by Lever in which we will be delving in our next entry.

(1) Jung's proclamation came about following a dream about Liverpool, which is odd when one considers that he had never visited the city. Was this a vision or an exertion of knowledge from someone who speculated an archetype as a universal symbolic entity which can influence man, thus providing the blueprint for future mind control programs such as MK Ultra.

(2) Beardsley was to become a member of the Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, no surprise when one considers the rich mystical and Arthurian symbolism in the work of the Brotherhood.
(3) One of Lord Levers articles extolled the helpful Inter-relationship of Capital and Labour, foreshadowing Der Fatherlands socio-economic planen by almost twenty years. The same edition ran an article by Templeton Cherry on The Occult Side of Healing. Strange bedfellows for a book on Agriculture.

(4) The inspiration for the Prisoner, came from events at the Inverlair Lodge, a secret institution set up during WWII by British Intelligence to house agents who 'new too much'. The Lodge was based in Scotland:

(5) Beux Arts classicism was popularized in American architecture in the early 1900's, and was popularly utilised by Leverhulme's US counterpart, the Huntington Library Gardens in San Marcos, California.

(6) Acquired from disgraced businessman Albert Calvert, a Fellow Mason and authority on Freemansonry, whose entrepnereal expertise ran to mining Gold in Australia, and attempting to swindlie jewels from the sister of the late Russian Czar :

pic credits:

(a) Bibby's annual circa 1922

(b) The Scapegoat from the Lever collection by William Holman Hunt-as described in the book of Leviticus, on the Day of Atonement, a goat would have its horns wrapped with a red cloth. The Scapegoat theory was a a term defined by philosopher Kenneth Burke, in his book Permanence and Change (1935) influencing the Weimar movement of Philosophical anthropology in Germany.
 Based on the premise of Scapegoating, a study was undertanken in 1961 by D. Weatherly, in which students were presented wih photos with jewish names attached and asked to write stories. Those with anti semitic tendancies produced stories with aggression centred around the Jewish characters. (ref: Anti-Semitism and the expression of fantasy aggression, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology)

(c) William  Hesketh Lever

(d) Port Sunlight-the mews to the gallery

(e) Masonic jewel (c1735-1832)-part of the Leverhulme collection. Originally belonged to J.L Wright of the Irish Lodge of Waterford, it was presented in 1811 to the actor Edmund Kean; it is the only evidence of the latters membership to Freemasonry.  Calveart acquired the jewel from the collection of great actor-Sir Henry Irving, also a Freemason.

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