In film and television, zombies have the below characteristics:
· They were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave
· They are able to move, however they can be depicted as moving really fast or very slow.
· They are in a decaying state
· Unending Hunger
· Vulnerable to the destruction of the brain
· Unaffected by injuries, except ones that hurt the brain
· Zombies can only multiple by making other zombies.
· They do not attack other zombies
· They are industrious
Let’s break this down:
Zombies were dead, but have somehow arisen from the grave. One only needs to look at our penultimate degree. The secret lesson that we’re being taught is that we all are going to become zombies at some point. We’d better get used it.
Zombies are able to move, however they can depicted as moving really fast or very slow. The next time you’re in lodge either for a business meeting or a degree observe the floor work of the participants. You will see slow, methodical movements. Then observe the difference of the speed at which we leave the lodge at the end of a long business meeting, or to get food before or after a degree. You will observe the average Freemason moving at speeds that Usain Bolt could only dream of.
Zombies are in a decaying state. Think about ritual in the degree mentioned above. The body of Hiram Abiff was in a state of high putrefaction when discovered. Imagine how he must have looked when raised (FROM THE DEAD…INSERT OMINIOUS MUSIC HERE). We’re taught in Freemasonry to care about the internal qualifications of a man, and not the external. This is obviously because when we come back to life, there’s a good chance that we’re not going to look or smell so good.
Zombies have unending hunger. Do I really have to say it? Zombies like to eat. Freemasons like to eat. All of our meals, table lodges and festive boards are training us as Freemasons to have an unending hunger for human flesh when we become zombies.
Zombies are usually portrayed as being clumsy. When’s that last time you went to a degree where everything went perfectly? There’s usually at least some awkwardness caused by misspoken or forgotten ritual, or a misstep in the floor work. Freemasons are able to make a mistake here or there as and to brush it off and continue the ritual. This is preparing us for the inevitability that most of us are going to be shambling mounds of flesh. Sure, we’ll have a few of us that more akin to Bub from George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.
Zombies are vulnerable to the destruction of the brain, but are unaffected by other injuries. One of the most important lessons we are taught in the second section of the Third Degree is what wounds we can sustain, and which will kill us when we are zombies. How is Hiram assaulted? He’s able to survive the first few attacks. It’s the one that final strike and where it's placed that does him in.
Zombies are individually pretty easy to kill. However, in a group they are powerful. Because of this, zombies are focused on trying to keep up their zombie membership numbers by making other zombies. Not only that, there are certain other smaller zombie groups which branch out from the main herd. The parallel to Freemasonry is uncanny.
Zombies never attack other zombies. It’s almost like the zombies have taken some sort of obligation to not harm other zombies. Why does that ring a bell?
Zombies are industrious. They work together towards a common goal of the destruction of humanity. Are we not as Freemasons taught about this? That we should also be industrious, or else be a useless drone of nature?
Still not convinced my Brethren? Let me draw your attention to this article which tells the tale of how the most famous American Freemason, George Washington almost became a zombie. From the io9 website: (https://io9.gizmodo.com/5880149/the-capitol-architect-wanted-to-reanimate-george-washingtons-dead-body)
“George Washington may have been America's first president, but was he nearly America's first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington's body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.
In December 1799, 67-year-old George Washington took a ride through the wet winter rain and, shortly afterward, developed a fever and a sore throat. When his condition became so bad that Washington could no longer swallow the concoctions of vinegar, molasses, and butter with which he was trying to treat himself, Washington called in his livestock and slave overseer, who drained three-quarters of a pint of blood from the ailing man. When bleeding failed to have the desired effect, three physicians were called in, all of whom recommended emetics and — you guessed it — more blood to be drawn. Over the brief course of his treatment, Washington's stomach and bowels were repeatedly evacuated and the puncture-happy docs took nearly two and a half liters of blood. Just two days after that fateful morning ride, Washington closed his eyes for the final time, after telling his doctors, "I die hard, but I am not afraid to go."
But Washington's body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington's wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.
That's where the story gets a little strange. The morning after Washington died, his step-granddaughter Elizabeth Law arrived with a family friend, William Thornton. History best remembers Thornton as the architect who created the original design for the Capitol building, but he was also a trained physician, having studied at the University of Edinburgh. Although he did not practice medicine for much of his life, Thornton always had a keen interest in the workings of the human body, and he suggested a novel method for resurrecting the fallen warrior. Thornton told Washington's wife Martha that he wanted to thaw Washington's body by the fire and have it rubbed vigorously with blankets. Then he planned to perform a tracheotomy so he could insert a bellows into Washington's throat and pump his lungs full of air, and finally to give Washington an infusion of lamb's blood. Friends and family declined Thornton's mad scientist offer, not because they thought his solution impossible, but because they felt the nation's first president should rest in peace.
So what gave Thornton the idea to play Dr. Frankenstein? Susan E. Lederer, author of the book Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion in Twentieth-Century America, notes that many physicians in the late 18th Century believed that lamb's blood had special properties, and believes Thornton meant to give Washington's circulatory system "a spark of vitality" that might jolt him back to life. But Paul Schmidt, in his article "Forgotten transfusion history: John Leacock of Barbados" published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the University of Edinburgh may have been on the forefront of transfusion research (unless you count all those transfusion experiments in 17th-Century France).
Oddly, reanimation wasn't Thornton's only thwarted plan for Washington's body. Thornton secretly included a burial vault in his designs for the Capitol, hoping that it would be Washington's final resting place. After Washington's coffin was placed in the family vault, Martha did agree that he could be later removed to the Capitol, on the grounds that her body could join his when she died. Alas, the transfer of burial chambers, like zombie Washington himself, was not meant to be.
Story discovered via Holly Tucker's book Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution, which details a series of blood transfusion experiments undertaken more than a century before Washington's death.”
It’s my belief that George Washington instructed his secretary to not entomb is his body until 3 days had passed because he knew full well that he was going to return as a zombie. Unfortunately, he didn’t pay attention to our degrees. Hiram Abiff was raised after being dead 15 days. For whatever reason, that’s the amount of time we as Freemasons will remain dead before re-animating. Thornton’s attempts to re-animate our beloved first president was just a clever cover up to explain why Washington would have returned from the dead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. I suspect that what Thorton did was actually prevent George from re-animating.
Quite frankly, when I wrote above that zombies are in a decaying state, the tie to Freemasonry is obvious. Freemasonry as a whole is in a decaying state. We’re fighting a declining membership due to the attrition of members dying, and not being able to bring new members in. When we are able to bring in new members, we’re having a hard time in retaining or engaging them. Existing active members see apathy all around, and slowly start to succumb to it as well. We’re unable to adapt to the times, instead clutching our ancient landmarks for dear life.
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.