Germany celebrates this year the Centennial of the death of her greatest man of letters,
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, as the United States celebrates the bicentennial of the birth
of George Washington, her greatest General, Statesman and President. Both were
Freemasons! It is a continual puzzle to Masons, why Washington’s biographers so seldom
- almost never - mention either his Masonic correspondence, membership and Mastership;
or the tremendous, if quiet, influence which Freemasonry had upon his life, character and
activities. The same puzzle exists about the biographers of the great Germany Poet. To an i
nterested and understanding Freemason, his works are replete with Masonic allusions;
some of them obviously inspired by Masonic teachings. To the Profane, this influence may
be non- existent; perhaps it is because so few of the passionate admirers of the great German
- who have sung the ever-increasing chorus of praise for his life and labors - have been Masons,
and therefore the majority have no background of Craft understanding.
Many of his biographers put great stress upon his stay in Strassburg
and his studies of Gothic Architecture, particularly under the
tutelage of the great thinker,, Herder, who is credited with
inspiring Goethe with his love - even his veneration - for Gothic
buildings. Freemasons will see in his stay in Strassburg, where the
great Gothic minister dominated his thought with its beauty, the
progenitor of that desire to know more of the Craft which had built
it - a desire to be gratified when he was thirty-one years of age.
He was initiated in Lodge Amalia, at Weimar (where he lived most of
his life and where he died) on the eve of the Feast of St. John the
Baptist, in 1780.
Just how or why he became a Mason we do not know; neither can we know
much of what impression his initiation made upon him. For it must
not be supposed that the Masonry practiced then by the Lodge Amalia
was the Masonry we know; although doubtless it held some of our
The Lodge at Weimar was then under the “Rite of Strict Observance,”
that curious compound of politics, religion and Knights Templarism.
Of this Rite, Mackey say