Jedi and Masons: How the Oldest Fraternity in the World and Film’s Greatest Order Meet on the Level
Bro. Matthew R. Ross Battle Creek Lodge No. 12 Grand Lodge of Michigan F.&A.M.
With the release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker bringing the Skywalker Saga to a close, I thought it would be interesting to delve into some of the deeper symbolism and esotericism we can derive from the Star Wars films; more specifically, the Jedi Order.
After watching the newest installment of the Star Wars film sage, I dwelled on the lore behind the Jedi Order and wanted to know more. I remembered seeing a book in stores called The Jedi Path, which was a book released after the advent of the prequels, that detailed many unspoken details about the Jedi Order, its philosophy, and the mechanics of what it takes to become a full fledged lightsaber clad, force using, peacekeeping Jedi. Through this, I began to see parallels between the philosophy of the Jedi and the philosophy of Freemasonry.
To become a Jedi Knight and to earn the right to roam without a Master at your side at all times, all Padawans must complete the Initiate Trials. These trials consist of three main categories:
Demonstrating knowledge of the Jedi Code
Prove your connection with the Force
In these qualities of the trials that prove whether a Padawan is ready to become a Jedi Knight or not, I see the resemblance of the Catechisms present in many Masonic Jurisdictions. Through these catechisms, we learn how Masonry works and the symbolism and demonstrate that through the self-discipline necessary to learn the catechism, demonstrate the knowledge of said material by giving back the catechism in open lodge, and prove the connection with the Fraternity in the proficiency in which the catechism is returned.
The Path Itself
As in Freemasonry, the Jedi Order is made up of three basic levels. Those levels being the Initiate, Padawan, and Jedi Knight. The Initiate is the youngling who has expressed interest and promise in becoming a Jedi. While some initiates are sought out by the Jedi for their force abilities and some are brought to the temple for the same abilities, the majority seek out the Jedi order themselves knowing that they are destined to become Jedi Knights. Once they become initiates, or are initiated, they begin learning the basic skills of a Jedi Knight to prepare them to become Padawans. This is similar to how Freemasons must ask in order to become one, and once initiated, seek the basic knowledge through catechism to progress in the Fraternity.
The Padawan (while called an Apprentice in the films) is more associated with the middle section of Jedi training. This is where you learn to act as a Jedi and approach the world at large through the eyes of a Jedi, but do so under the instruction of a Jedi Knight or Jedi Master. This much alludes to the process of being passed to the Fellowcraft in Masonry as you are able to complete simple tasks in lodge like preparing catechisms and studying symbols, but are not yet ready to be without instruction from a Master Mason, or in this case, Jedi Master.
The Jedi Knight is the designation of a full member of the Jedi Order. After completion of instruction by the Jedi Master, the Padawan goes through trials mentioned earlier to complete their training. Only then are they able to become a Jedi Knight and take on a full membership role in the order.
The Jedi Masters, or how we may see Mentors, Past Masters, and Officers within a Lodge, act as the governing body of the Jedi Order as its senior members. They are responsible for deciding how the Jedi are to be trained and work with each other to keep the order running smoothly, as senior members do in a lodge; however, the final say on any of this goes through the Worshipful Master in the lodge, personified in the Jedi by the Jedi Grand Master, a title only bestowed on those worthy of governing the order. In the context of the films, Jedi Grand Master Yoda is the only Grand Master mentioned in the franchise.
Throughout Masonry, we see many moral lessons presented in the context of architecture. Throughout Ancient History, many architectural phenomenon carry religious or esoteric meanings to them. The Jedi are no different. As the force moves all around the Jedi, the presence of the GAOTU presides everywhere. In Masonry, we recognize the Cardinal Virtues in the form of pillars or tenets of Masonry. In the context of the Jedi, the temple on Coruscant shows three pillars in the front, guarding the way. These pillars are noted as:
Of which these can be translated to Masonry as the Three Great Lights being the Bible (or VSL), Square, and Compasses. The Bible (or VSL) there to remind us that deity is extremely important, as the deity that is the Force is important to Jedi. The Square to show that we must be honest forthwith in everything we do, just as Jedi must have Self-Discipline; and finally we must use the Compasses to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds so that we may receive the most well rounded education that we can and continue to seek well rounded knowledge as Masters.
Though we may never know whether or not George Lucas intentionally used Masonic Ideals in the construction of the Jedi Order, it’s important to understand that these symbols are universal, true, and will stand the test of time regardless of the medium they are presented.
But we have to admit that seeing them in Star Wars is WICKED awesome!
So mote it be. Scratch that.
May the Force be with you.