The Obelisk

Some of the more fanatical anti-Masons claim the Washington Monument - an obelisk - is really a secret phallic symbol that is worshipped by Freemasons and/or Freemasonry. Others make unsupportable claims that Masons have obelisks on their graves because of some type of worship of Osiris or some other Egyptian deity. The charges are ludicrous and easily refuted by a simple stroll through essentially ANY cemetery.

From the web site of The Association of Gravestone Studies, we find this particularly relevant quote: 

The obelisk is, to quote McDowell and Meyer in The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art, one of the "most pervasive of all the revival forms" of cemetery art. There is hardly a cemetery founded in the 1840s and 50s without some form of Egyptian influence in the public buildings, gates, tomb art, etc. Napoleon's 1798-99 Egyptian campaigns, the discoveries at the tombs of the Pharaohs, and our new Republic's need to borrow the best of the ancient cultures (Greek revival, classic revival, the prominence of classical studies and dress, etc.) led to a resurgence of interest in the ancient Egyptian culture. Obelisks were considered to be tasteful, with pure uplifting lines, associated with ancient greatness, patriotic, able to be used in relatively small spaces, and, perhaps most importantly, obelisks were less costly than large and elaborate sculpted monuments. There were many cultural reasons for the revival styles of the nineteenth century. Freemasonry, while part of the overall cultural influence, was not responsible for the prevalence of obelisks. If you would like to read more about some of these styles, see The Egyptian Revival: Its Sources, Monuments and Meaning, 1808-1859, by Richard Carrott.

When the charges made by anti-Masons reach the ears of Masons from the Western United States, they look in wonder since - as stated above - the heavy use of obelisks was more a fad of the times - just as the US now sees a great usage of headstones with photographs and laser engravings.

While the facts are hardly likely to stop frothing anti-Masons from continuing their foolish blather (and absent of ANY evidence that ANY Mason has ever been found in a cemetery worshipping a grave marker), we believe a rational person can recognize the truth in such matters. 

Just as an example:

Are all these heathens?

The above picture is from an older cemetery in Middle Granville, New York, USA and clearly shows many obelisks. It is not unlike MANY cemeteries found in many places, particularly in the Northeast United States. A bit hard to accept the ludicrous charge that all of these folks were Osiris-worshipping heathens, isn't it?

We've also got a number of pictures of graves which mark the final resting place of those who were proud that their Masonic membership be known - well after all other things about them were forgotten! Just click here.

Food for Fantasy

And one further note: a particularly disturbed individual named Samuel Moser regularly posts to newsgroups and websites making lewd and incendiary comments about Masons and their supposed fixation with obelisks, often citing the Washington Monument as the example.

Let's be clear: while Masons did contribute stones to assist in the completion of the Washington Monument, they were not alone in doing so. Businesses, schools, and organizations throughout America did so - as Washington was so dearly beloved even well after his death, a concept foreign and unknown to the majority today. It is also natural to understand why Masons would have wanted to honor a member of their own organization.

 

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