Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fiji Masons Practice Sorcery, According To Neighbors

This story is too bizarre to paraphrase, so I reproduce it as it appeared in the Taiwan News:

Police in Fiji detained 14 members of a freemasons lodge for 24 hours after local villagers complained that they were practicing sorcery, newspapers reported Thursday.

Eight Australians and a New Zealander were among those jailed after their Tuesday night meeting was raided by police.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed 14 people, including eight Australians, were detained for convening a Masonic meeting without the right permit.

The New Zealand Herald quoted an unnamed police spokesman who said officers acted on reports from villagers of "strange goings-on" at the lodge.

The lodge secretary showed police a permit for the meeting but was told it was not relevant and the group was taken to the jailhouse and locked in cells, the Herald reported.

Australia's Canberra Times reported that Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama ordered their release but investigations were still continuing.

Emergency regulations imposed by Fiji's military regime allow police to detain people for up to 48 hours without charge.

The New Zealand newspaper said police in Lautoka seized Masonic paraphernalia including wands, compasses and a skull.


UPDATE

Justa Mason has an extended entry about this story, describing past Masonic "misunderstandings" on Fiji, and asking some pertinant philosophical questions about the larger issue of public perception. See it here.

And Charles McAlpin on Examiner.com has a piece explaining that those wacky ideas about sorcery aren't as uncommon around the world, or harmless, as you might think.

9 comments:

Mark Koltko-Rivera said...

Clearly, (1) the folks in Fiji do no better than (2) the typical American evangelical anti-Mason when it comes to not being able to distinguish between (A) ritual objects used for symbolic purposes and (b) the paraphernalia of sorcery.

Oh, wait a minute -- did I mix up (1) and (2)?

LinuxGeek said...

Sweet! i wonder when I get my wand?!

daghaalsuii said...

Freewill is fundamental in our Gentle Craft and influences its low-key nature. However, I can't help but think incidences like Fiji in the past and present add to the discreteness as well.

S&F,

Jay Williams
#1327 MacKenzie, GL of Texas

Justa Mason said...

LinuxGeek .. Deacons carry a wand about the Lodge in the performance of their duties. They're called rods or staffs in some jurisdictions.

Thanks to Mark for inspiring the musery on my page on this.

Justa

LinuxGeek said...

Right - it was a bad joke on my part. I should have had more consideration for the brothers that had to sit in jail.

I'm the JS in my lodge (www.observancelodge.com). We refer to ours as rods here in Tennessee. Calling something six-foot tall a "wand" just seemed amusing to me.

I think the size of the rod or staff is also different according to jurisdiction. Maybe they use shorter ones in Fiji that appear more wand-like.

The K.N.O. said...

I understand that in Fiji they do use something that is a short stick more pointed on one end, so the term 'wand' is appropriate. They are also handy when giving presentations. In a side-note, I know someone who sells homemade wands. If we ever need some, I'm sure she'll cut us a deal on a bulk purchase. ;,)

Kevin said...

Damn...busted again. I don't mean to sound insensitive to the Brothers who were incarcerated, but this is just the kind of sensationalism that anti-masons thrive on. I understand our Brethren were freed by high ranking government officials. And that the authenticity of a "permit" was in question. Good grief.

The K.N.O. said...

Nothing wrong with your statement, Brother. Just relaying a bit of information.

You are correct, that anti-Masons will take the information and run with it. A wand, though symbolic, has no magical powers. People giving power-point presentations use them. Power-point is not magic. ;,)


S&F

killshot71 said...

I assumed that the wands in question were in fact the truncheons held by the Wardens, not the rods carried by the Stewards and Deacons. In Massachusetts our Wardens carry them as symbols of the columns.