2024 - Utepils

Christmas at the Freemasons

The walls were covered with portraits of old white men. Just wall, upon wall, upon wall of old white men.

Skrevet av Hannah Gebreyesus

I have always celebrated Christmas at my grandparents’ house. About a year ago, however, after one of my cousins had a baby, it was decided a venue would be rented where the whole family could celebrate. A family member of mine, a guy I’ll be referring to as “Tim,” a wannabe entrepreneur and a freemason, booked the Freemason lodge for us to stay at.


A few days before Christmas, me and my dad drove past this old looking building. “I cannot believe we are celebrating Christmas there,” he said, shaking his head and we passed what I now know is the Freemasonry lodge of Stavanger. I remember looking out the window at this building, which I had seen many times before but never really bothered to actually look at. “I don’t know if I’m okay with this,” he continued. I asked my dad what he was talking about, and he shook his head before explaining: “We are celebrating Christmas at the Freemasons”.


In my 22 years of life, I had never heard of the Freemasons. Essentially, Freemasonry is a secret club for men where they meet up and perform secret rituals. How had no one ever bothered mentioning to me that there exists a secret club that excluded women? In hindsight, I imagine they avoided mentioning it to me on purpose: I have a feeling that if my sixteen-year-old self had found out about this, she would have made it everyone else’s problem.

But better late than never, right?


When Christmas finally rolled around, I was quite nervous about the whole thing, but having read a good amount about the Freemasons, and their little “club”, I felt as though I was sufficiently prepared to celebrate Christmas at the lodge, so my parents and I got into the car and drove off.


When we got to the location, we had to drive to an underground parking lot which we got into through a secret door that was hidden at the side of the building. How I had never noticed this place is truly beyond me, as I used to live less than 5 minutes away. Once we had parked our car, we walked up two floors to get to the room we were staying in. The first thing I noticed when walking into the room, was this shelf that exhibited all their fencing swords.


Then, I noticed that the walls were covered with portraits of old white men. Just wall, upon wall, upon wall of old white men.

These people genuinely think they have power in our society, but at this point, they are not the people with power; they are just the people who wish they had.

As the initial shock of the creepy but extravagant decor had settled in, it got less exciting. We were not allowed to walk into other rooms, so it quickly became pretty boring . I also think they might have forgotten to put the heating on because it was freezing cold and my mom wore her jacket the whole night. If you’re someone who loves family and tradition this night would definitely set you up for disappointment. We were sitting at this extremely long table which made it really hard to talk to people, the food was cold and I think I talked to my parents for 10 minutes all night. For the most part I was busy running around with my cousin, drinking badly made porn star martinis while pretending to be Nancy Drew, trying to get into as many rooms as I could without anyone noticing.


Later on we ended up getting a tour from Tim. He first took us into a room with an altar in the middle, decorated with «The Eye of Providence,» the symbol often associated with the Illuminati; I assumed this was where they had their ceremonies. It was quite similar to what you would see going into a church, except the whole room was lit up by a blue light. It reminded me of the lights they use at club bathrooms to stop people from doing drugs. Regardless, it helped give the space an air of poise and sophistication. The more I think about it, the more I feel like they chose it to make the room more interesting than it really is: it’s the only thing stopping you from noticing it’s just a giant empty room with some chairs in it and that the eye of providence is just a sticker they put on their altar. The whole roof also had this big installation of stars that we could look up at, which according to Tim, was a replica of the actual stars.


Reading a little about Freemasonry, you can find countless examples of all the fucked up shit they have done. An example that intrigued me was what happened to William Morgan. He disappeared in 1826 and was supposedly murdered by Freemasons after being a part of the anti-freemasonry movement.  My initial thought was to give more of a historical introduction to Freemasonry, but I couldn’t figure out what the point was. While a story like William Morgan’s gives a glimpse into the violent cult-like past of the Freemasons, it also contributes to the mythification of the club and their social standing. Talking about it promotes the fear they pass on to society, including former members.


When you walk into the main entrance of the Freemasonry lodge, the first thing you will see is a portrait of the king. While the king is not a part of this club, the presence of his portrait is indicative of the larger problem: the delusion of the powerful men. When one is left only with one’s imagination, how can one not be stuck with a million questions? Is this a cult? What are the rituals? Why keep it a secret? Millions of questions are left unanswered when visiting a place like this.


On our little tour around the lodge, Tim mentioned that there was room upon room which we “would never get to see.” My grandfather told me that one guy had been a member for eight years and still had not seen all the rooms. You have to be a member for more than ten years to do that. Their rituals include putting blindfolds on someone and then putting them in a box so that they can swear allegiance to the Freemasonry. The rituals can at best be described as a syncretic form of Christianity, at worst a traumatizing misuse of power and social influence. So far, all Tim had shown us was some big rooms with expensive candles and silly decor, so what was the point of all this mystery?


Later it really shocked me how easily I fell for the trap of mysticism that comes with a place like this. The secrets are what keeps this place going, but the more you learn about it, the dumber it sounds. The rooms are just covered in portraits of men and meaningless old Latin phrases. We can’t enter most of the rooms because if we did, we would all realize how boring they actually are. These people genuinely think they have power in our society, but at this point, they are not the people with power; they are just the people who wish they had.


In the end, this was probably one of the most interesting Christmases I’ve ever had, though probably not what most would consider their average Christmas experience. While I don’t want to undermine the damage that a place like this can cause, it’s hard not to come to any other conclusion than what an absolute joke this place is. There is no point in being a member if you have power, but there is if you don’t. That’s why there is a prominently placed portrait of the king despite the fact that he isn’t a Freemason. It’s a club for men with too much free time and a desperate need to be thought of as great, of the unfulfilled potential they think they have, the praise they think they deserve but never get, and the state of entitlement that men like this have. One of my cousins said, “It’s just a club for men to sit in circles and jerk each other off,” and I think this is the best way to describe this place.

Hannah Gebreyesus Iversen, født 2001, studerer allmenn litteraturvitenskap ved Universitetet i Oslo.