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Freemasonry and Sword Dancing

13 Jul 04 - 01:59 PM (#1224719)
Subject: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

What is the connection, if any?


13 Jul 04 - 02:22 PM (#1224736)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,MMario

I've never heard of any connection - but then again I am not a freemason nor a sword-dancer


13 Jul 04 - 02:50 PM (#1224757)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Amos

SOme Sword Dancers are Freemasons and some Freemasons are Sword Dancers.

That's all I know about it!

A


13 Jul 04 - 03:09 PM (#1224770)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Geoff the Duck

And some morris dancers are stonemasons.
Quack!
GtD.


13 Jul 04 - 03:49 PM (#1224798)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: C-flat

I certainly don't know of any connection. I do know a number of freemasons but none of them, to my knowledge, are sword dancers.
What prompted the question?


13 Jul 04 - 04:25 PM (#1224824)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Hawker

The dad of one of the kids who used to be in my sword dancing team is a freemason - is that the connection?
;0) Lucy


13 Jul 04 - 04:26 PM (#1224825)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Hawker

Seriously though Les, are we talking Rapper or Longsword?
Cheers, Lucy


13 Jul 04 - 05:38 PM (#1224875)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Mark Clark

Rapper? You mean like Eminem? <g>

I always associate Sword Dancing with Cossacks and doubt that Cossacks have become Freemasons in any numbers. Have other cultures taken up sword dancing as well?

      - Mark


13 Jul 04 - 05:40 PM (#1224878)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,Th


13 Jul 04 - 05:41 PM (#1224879)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,The Vulgar Boatman

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

KYBTTS


13 Jul 04 - 06:22 PM (#1224923)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Jim Dixon

There is a theory--which is far from proven--that the Knights Templar and Morris dancing were created in imitation of the practices of the Sufis, which the Crusaders learned about in Palestine. Then Freemasonry later emerged from the officially disbanded and suppressed Templars. I can't defend this theory or tell you much about it, but I might be able to come up with a link. Stay tuned.


13 Jul 04 - 06:24 PM (#1224928)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Bert

...Have other cultures taken up sword dancing as well?...

There are French, English and Scottish sword dances that I know of. And there are probably many more.


13 Jul 04 - 06:35 PM (#1224938)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Wyrd Sister

And Belgian, Czech, Italian, Basque...tried to make a clicky to Sword spectacular but it timed out or summat.
Anyway, I know members of traditional longsword teams in England but know nothing of Freemasons bit. I'll ask. Mind you, they do have their trousers hitched up a bit high...


13 Jul 04 - 06:39 PM (#1224941)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

And then there is the snickersnee, from those blood-thirsty Dutch (possibly equivalent to cut and thrust in English).

(Who invents all these weird tales?)


13 Jul 04 - 06:54 PM (#1224953)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,I.G./J.D./S.D./J.W./S.W./W.M.

I am a Freemason and I can tell you the link if you like.
Of course I will then have to kill you.


13 Jul 04 - 07:27 PM (#1224969)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Jim Dixon

Here's an article: The History of Islam in the British Isles: An Overview. It touches on both Morris dancing and the Templars.


13 Jul 04 - 10:39 PM (#1225057)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Malcolm Douglas

It certainly makes interesting reading, but it's full of "it is said that" (by whom? we are not told) and the usual vague mentions of unnamed records that may or may not have existed and may or may not have been destroyed or "suppressed"; no evidence or supporting information, as usual, is given. Interesting that it seems to credit my own family with an early (allegedly) Islamic antecedent. I wouldn't be particularly surprised if it were true, but the argument given is not, so far, what I'd call compelling.

Engaging and likeable, and sensible enough when it deals with documented history; but to an extent the work of what the Opies used to call a "happy guesser", I suspect.

As for the original question: when folk imply connections beyond simple coincidence between Masonry and Sword dance (there have also been past discussions about Fascism and Morris, and if we've not yet had someone asking whether Thomas the Rhymer was really a victim of Alien Abduction, it can only be a matter of time), I begin to suspect bored people with nothing better to do; if not conspiracy theorists.


13 Jul 04 - 11:36 PM (#1225074)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: mack/misophist

Modern Freemasonry rose in the middle 1700's. Is the style of sword dancing you're interested in older or younger than that? Also, a lot of societies like swords as emblems. I don't know of any (modern) that actually use them.


14 Jul 04 - 05:19 AM (#1225196)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: el ted

Some masons are masons, and some sword dancers are sword dancers... errrh... I'll get my coat.


14 Jul 04 - 06:41 AM (#1225223)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Dead Horse

I doubt that such a link exists. If it did, then surely sword dance would not be confined to the north east (largely).
On the continent the sword teams are mostly associated with guilds, but the style of dance is somewhat different to that practised in the UK.
I have tried to find a link to Trevor Stone, who is somewhat of an authority on such matters. He has, I believe, researched this very theme, but I came up blank.
Below is a link to Sword Spectacular, mentioned above
http://www.swordspectacular.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/index.html
I do have Trevors address if you wish to persue this further.
PM me for this if required.


14 Jul 04 - 06:58 AM (#1225230)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Dave Bryant

You could also try asking mudcatter "Blossom" (of "Skinner's Rats" and "Slattery") who is a freemason and I believe quite an expert on their history.


14 Jul 04 - 02:03 PM (#1225383)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

The reason I raised this issue is a friend gave me lots of back copies of the Folk Music Jounal (EFDSS). The 1978 edition has an article by Ivor Alsop on the Papa Stour Dance. The article ends:

'all sword dances are in some way bound up withe rites of Freemasonry. This remarkable theory is expounded by James E Spears in an article entitled "A note on the Shetland Sword Dance" which appeared in Volume 32 of No 4 of 'The Southern Folk Lore Quarterly'. But this I leave to some-one more qualified than me to look into.'

So, what do think???????????


14 Jul 04 - 02:24 PM (#1225404)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: gnomad

Ivor is certainly an authority on sword dance. I can't help feeling he would have encountered at least some evidence during his research, and told of that evidence, if such a link were to exist.

As a former sword dancer (never a mason) I can only add that I never knew of any such link.


14 Jul 04 - 04:20 PM (#1225499)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Folkiedave

Ivor's book - Longsword dances from Traditional and Manuscript sources is available from me. There is no mention of freemasons or masons in the index.

Also I have Violet Alford's book, "Sword Dance and Drama", similarly available, links sword dancing to ancient mining. She has dances from all over Europe.

Best regards,

Dave Eyre
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


14 Jul 04 - 05:22 PM (#1225550)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Wyrd Sister

Asked two members of longsword team tonight - both laughed and denied any knowledge. I'm with above - if Trevor/Ivor don't have info it's not there to be got..


14 Jul 04 - 05:31 PM (#1225556)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,Mr Red who burnt the cookies

Mark Clark

Basque dancing is swords with attitude.


14 Jul 04 - 05:46 PM (#1225577)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Having had Masons among my forebears and ancestors, I can vouch for the fact that they were not sword dancers but danced on the head of a pin.


15 Jul 04 - 05:16 AM (#1225891)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Dave Bryant

My brother is a freemason and I don't suppose he even dances at his lodge's Ladies Nights.


15 Jul 04 - 09:09 AM (#1226031)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les from Hull

I assume that James E Spears is the American folklorist whose name comes up with a Google search. So he's probably neither a sword dancer or a freemason.

Anyway, those little cases that the Masons carry are the wrong shape for a sword (there's a Lodge on my street).


15 Jul 04 - 11:11 AM (#1226131)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

"A note on the Shetland Sword Dance" which appeared in Volume 32 of No 4 of 'The Southern Folk Lore Quarterly'.

Has anybody tracked this reference?

I can't see that a connection would be likely but do I detect a twitchy sense of resitance to my question?


15 Jul 04 - 11:26 AM (#1226149)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Jim Dixon

I wonder if Morris dancing and sword dancing evolved from some kind of rhythmic martial arts training exercise, somewhat like the katas (sp?) that karate students perform.


15 Jul 04 - 11:30 AM (#1226153)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: manitas_at_work

I came across a throwaway reference in a history of the Templars in which it the English were impressed at the way the Muslim soldiers moved together and thought it was due to the dances they did and so took the dances back to England as part of their training exercises. Nothing was given to support this assertion.


15 Jul 04 - 11:41 AM (#1226161)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: el ted

Morris dancing derived from Martial arts!!!! ..... Most Morris Men I've ever seen couldn't punch there way out of a paper bag!!! (duck)


15 Jul 04 - 01:24 PM (#1226237)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

The idea that local unexplained things come from far away places to take route is not a great contender is it?

Perhaps I'll go and put 'The Southern Folk Lore Quarterly' into Google.

Meanwhile are the Masons keeping quiet or what?


15 Jul 04 - 01:38 PM (#1226253)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

Ok I have tried Google and found the Southern Folklore Review. However, no Spears, no sword dancing. Freemasonry throws up links to Poe.

A search in Google for James Spears only gives Britney, so not entirley wasted the?


15 Jul 04 - 03:04 PM (#1226310)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Manitas_at_home

Well,no,the idea wasn't that Morris dancing derives from martial arts but that the practice of dancing together got the soldiery used to working together and moving backwardsm, forwards etc as one body.It was the dances that were tehn transplanted.


15 Jul 04 - 03:11 PM (#1226319)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,Blackcatter

Morris Dancing likely predates Islam.

There is no evidence I know of Masons and sword dancing other than both occasionally being practiced by the same person (was would be drinking, singing, breathing, etc.


And anyway - shouldn't Masons do a bit of trowel dancing?


15 Jul 04 - 10:19 PM (#1226631)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Blackcatter

Did some cross-checking now that I'm at home in my Masonic books - no connections could be found.


16 Jul 04 - 02:33 AM (#1226718)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,J.D.

"Meanwhile are the Masons keeping quiet or what?"


Not keeping quiet Les, just checking my facts.
Having only been involved for the past few years, I can't speak with authority on all aspects of freemasonry but I can find no connection with sword dancing in any of my literature and I can say with certainty that the nearest any of the brethren of my lodge have come to a sword would be a Wilkinson Sword razor-blade.
There's masses of history and ritual in freemasonry, some of which is very ancient (one of the reasons for my interest) and those rituals are different at the various levels of involvement but, again, there are no rituals (to my knowledge) which involve a sword.


16 Jul 04 - 04:01 AM (#1226736)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: fat B****rd

Basque sword dancing ! You mean women dancing wearing basques and whirling swords around !!???
Sorry, I'll get me coat.


16 Jul 04 - 07:10 AM (#1226820)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST

Reminds me of a line from Phoenix Nights:

"What do you think about Basques?" (referring to the lingerie)

Potter - "Well they can't all be bombin' carparks"


16 Jul 04 - 08:59 AM (#1226870)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: manitas_at_work

Wasn't William Kimber a master mason?


16 Jul 04 - 02:24 PM (#1227080)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Les in Chorlton

It sounds like the Masons are better arcivists than the sword dancers, but also good at keeping secrets.


20 Jul 04 - 03:14 PM (#1230059)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Wyrd Sister

Ivor kindly sent us his copy of the aforementioned article(A NOTE ON THE SHETLAND SWORD DANCE by James E. Spears,University of Tennessee at Martin: Southern Folklore Quarterly Vol 32 No 4 Dec 1969).He himself doesn't wish to research this area.
To me, the links appear pretty tenuous, and more relating to the
calling-on:
"The imagery and language, substance and/or symbolic action, and the survival of the play in Yorkshire could suggest that the Shetland Sword Dance is linked with the institution of Freemasonry.
At least three images used ... in the dance are reminiscent of the rites of Freemasonry and are germane to its vocabulary: tried, right hand and raised."
http://www.papastour.shetland.co.uk/dance.html


20 Jul 04 - 03:16 PM (#1230061)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Wyrd Sister

Sorry, meant to say if there is enough interest I'll type the whole lot out- it's about two-and-a-half pages.


22 Jul 04 - 05:00 PM (#1231681)
Subject: RE: What is the connection?
From: GUEST,The Insider

They all practice one form or another of the ancient Crafts.


22 Jul 04 - 07:25 PM (#1231747)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: LesB

Interesting link to the Papa Stour web site. Where I was pleased to see a picture of us Southport Swords performing Papa Stour for 5 at last years Beverly Fest. We normaly perform it for 7, as it should be.
Les


14 Sep 10 - 08:36 AM (#2986506)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: C-flat

A long time since the question was asked but the only link between sword dancing and English Freemasonry (I can't speak for others) would be a ceremonial sword held by an outer-guard whose job. traditionally, was to keep out intruders (non masons).
The guard or "Tyler" may be (depending on the individual lodge ceremony) presented with the sword on his appointment during a ceremony to appoint lodge officers.
No dancing involved, I'm sad to say!!
C-flat


14 Sep 10 - 09:10 AM (#2986529)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: GUEST,Morris-ey

I can well believe that the impoverished folk of the North-East were recruited in droves by the, usually, well connected and wealthy Masons to teach them the fighting skill of dancing in a circle, slowly, with rather blunt swords


14 Sep 10 - 09:30 AM (#2986542)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Dave Hanson

Masons do a dance not unlike a ' handkercheif ' only it's a ' pinnafore ' dance, all in a big circle with their little pinny on, one trouser leg rolled up and left tit bare.

Dave H


14 Sep 10 - 09:58 AM (#2986564)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: C-flat

I don't know which lodges you've been to Dave, but I've never seen a "dance" as you describe, and I've visited a great number of lodges around the UK.
It does, however, conjour some alarming mental imagery!!
Thanks for the chuckle..
C-flat


14 Sep 10 - 02:04 PM (#2986724)
Subject: RE: Freemasonry and Sword Dancing
From: Alan Day

Well as Organist (concertinist) of a Lodge I have never seen ,played or heard of any links to Sword Dancing. There are a number of ancient rituals however , which are off shoots of Masonry, Knights Templar being one of them and one can be a Freemason ,but not necessarily know the other rituals that exist.So there could be a link but it may be an obscure one.
It is one of the interesting features of Freemasonry, to find out these different rituals if you so wish and why it is more interesting to go through the ceremony rather than be told what it is all about before you take part. Hence the secrecy. Rather like reading an Agatha Christie novel after someone has told you who did it.
Al