Märchen and Sagen
IN THE FIRST LONG AGE
At the start of things there were - three eons ago - primitive types of people who worked in their manner with the stone of the earth. It is told that 5,000 years ago Stonemasons first worked in groups that resemble the guilds of latter days, they lived in the Indus Valley, China, Egypt and between two great rivers there, where the light and heat of the sun was both dear friend and deadly enemy.
This was to be an age of things that were new and undreamed of; some magnificent and everlasting, works wonderous to man, built from the treasures the earth held and some the like of which were never seen again.
The stoneworkers of this time bore witness to great Kings in their triumph and ignominy and over a long age saw Tudiya, Ila-Kabkabu and Mutakkil-nusku go to dust and become forgotten by all but them. Age upon age they built 'til most could not remember a time before, but their memories were as sharp as chisels.
Under the eyes of Ptah, these first ones were well organised and aware of their own worth from very early days. They rose against great Ramesses III when he could no longer afford the grain ration he owed to them, thus causing the fracture of Egypt into two kingdoms, this was 3,500 years ago.
Myth has it that in this age our men - building a temple for the great King Shlomo, known as Solomon - requested better conditions. The myth tells that Solomon spurned them and in a fury, lay a curse upon them and all masons so that they must wander about the Earth for ever.
Magic was everywhere alive in this age, reflected in the primeval music and the masons' devices: symbols and creatures from elder days: half myth, half truth. Often, the stone was cut to the image of Gryphons, Wyverns and Manticores. In this first age many of the basic principles, mysteries and philosophies of the craft were set down and for the masons, many truths and rules for living were first accepted.
Through a necessity to provide for themselves, a meritocracy developed which began to shape the character of those who rose through it. This over the years would bring great fortune but also, when corrupted, great harm and would be the start of the fight for rights for the working, some of these characteristics are still found in the masters of today:
HARDINESS, INDOMITABLE WILL, SECRETIVENESS, FAIRNESS, LOVE OF TRAVEL & FAR PLACES, STUBBORNNESS, PRIDE, SKILL, INDUSTRIOUSNESS, LOVE OF FINE THINGS, PASSION FOR LIFE,
STEADFASTNESS IN ENMITY AND LOYALTY.
Here ends the first Age.
IN THE SECOND AGE
Those early brotherhoods formed over generations, with their traditions, languages and skills they slowly spread to the West in the great migrations over the next 3500 years. Across mountains, wastelands and rivers, skirting around the great wood where the worker of wood, folk as old as they but built in a different vein would enter, but they would not.
A third younger brotherhood started its way, small at first but destined to greater things, all fire and spark but more like the mason than carpenter in temperament, both dug deep for their prize. The three would walk together for many a long age.
While brother Socrates under his father Sophroniscus worked. The music of the world changed, gods now turning away from being fearful creatures to more human form, a much more terrible clamour began.
They sailed the sea of turmoil caused by the rise and fall of great civilisations, on several occasions craft traditions and skills from different worlds were first brought together in the white heat of competition then thrown apart through devastation, destruction and collapse only for another cultural crucible to coalesce and all start over. Their strength was in unity.
Cities and temples to peoples and gods now forgotten they built; they began to explain their gods creations and how everything was ordered, they laid the foundation for life we would come to know. Majesty of nature they harnessed , working with, not against, in harmony. The songs of the universe they sang. The work of giants they left behind them. And the music changed once more.
This was a time of great advancement and growth with enemies like Caesar and friends like Clodius sometimes using, sometimes used, but they, always bathed in archaic glory.
But then War and famine spread across the world until with the fall of Rome and some time later at the Battle of Deorham the crushing of the last Collegia Opificum in Britain; at that moment the only strongholds of our memory were Ireland in the West, Lombardy in the Holy Roman Empire and Byzantium in the East.
The Guilds in England were quickly re established after one generation with the arrival of St Augustine sent from Rome with Comacine masons but this was generally a time of darkness, these centres being some of the few bright torches of learning and tolerance .
To all there was still a distant memory of brothers in the far East but to most at this time these remembrances where fading to myth.
And so ends the second age.
IN THIRD AGE
With the third age initially came great wealth and power but through greed and avarice on all sides also came great strife.
The age started well, for through those with a direct lineage to the first ones, a harmonious system had evolved where all had a place, which though caring enough to support all was also robust enough for the needs of that hard life and time. Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude were the standards by which they stood.
The wisdom and knowledge which they held was becoming noticed and coveted by those desirous of power and fortune. Without notice or enough care their music, that with of all ages woven to it, began to sound apart from the discordant variant now being played in the wide world.
At this time the Vladimir guildsmen from Rus begin their travel West after fending off the Mongol hordes but finding patronage with the fighting men of the North they travel both west and south in the manner of their Viking forefathers from Golden gates in the East to Donjon in the West. Their skills and traditions mix and give new life through bonds of brotherhood.
But to all but the oldest and greatest guilds the connection to far lands had been forgotten and fellowships broken, apart from the occasional subli telling of wild tales, most looked no further than the borders of their own rulers lands or those he intended to conquer. The greed and lies of the powerful houses told of the savagery of the enemy, who to the first ones were still secretly friend.
They together with brothers Tekton and Vulcan once again spread from these few centres but this time in all directions often under impressment or promise of riches paid for by religious zeal.
Then many died in the East either there by force or drawn by promise of gold and at the Battle of Vadum Lakob many brothers perished bravely, the blood spilt hardly worth the treasures of knowledge re learnt.
Craftsmen were held in great esteem for much of this age but were often hard used.
'The knife is in the meat, and the drink is in the horn, and there's
revelry in the hall, and except for a craftsman who brings his craft the
gate will not be open to-night.'
In an Eastern empire Koca Mi'mâr Sinân ğâ son of his father would he and his dons make such beauty for the sake of love and hate that would be a jewel upon the earth for ever more. So beautiful in symmetry and thought as to shed the evil that would almost engulf it in years then unforeseen.
A recurring cycle begins.
The Powers based around family, religion, state or city required the skills of the Guild to overawe, overpower and subdue. And through discipline and physical work our men and women were also strong and armed and made good soldiers when needed and knew how to breach the walls of defences, dig wells and build shelter.
But when the works were complete whether it be city, castle, cathedral, work of art or war the craftsmen became a nuisance and the guild became an expensive, powerful and wealthy threat to be feared, broken and looted.
Due partly to the still itinerant lifestyle of the guilds in a much more stationary world, the mystery encouraged by the masons themselves, their independence and what was considered as their eccentric foreign ways, it was often, with rumors and lies, easy to turn public opinion against the craftsmen.
For the next half a millennia the great tried to control and take their hard earned rights and good with the Avignon Pope John suppressing them in France. A Handwerkeraufstand in Nuremberg made the patricians think with the ebe and flow of fortune and much blood spilt.
Then in England the wind changed and opportunity showed its face to some and they were robbed again by all from King Henry VIII (*4,5) to the virgin Queen. The Guilds elders set sail for France and were allowed to live freely for many years in Creuse and Normandy until again too powerful and rich and prey to envious eyes. They played their part in the change of another great empire, then many set sail back to western shores this time with no loss, a past hard lesson remembered.
Those who through expansion and conquest moving still further west to the Americas, discover and culture and skill much as ours but alas before brotherly hand could be outstretched they were largely gone. Our age old enemies ignorance and greed had yet again robed the world of such riches as could not have been imagined.
They learned to hide their light and were patronised by a shallow class of men willing a pay highly for reflected glories.
Though across the earth more folk are killed and torn apart by evil than ever before, the eyes of the powerful no longer fall upon them, they were free, apart from, for sometime the brothers in Germany who with those assailed bore the worst of the canker that would spread like fire, eventually extinguished, but never healed.
While the world believed them to be a force spent. The wise now believed they were entering their golden Fourth age.
Here ends the third age.
IN THE FOURTH AGE
The mistrust of the Guilds and their appearance as archaic institutions linked in modern eyes to secret organisations by many, forced most of the still thriving guilds to carry on quietly out of the view of the populous who had become as the enemy or Minkur to many craftspeople and not to be trusted.
A small but powerful group within the guild system begin to slowly change the way the guild has worked for many years. More effort is made to link, as in old, with our brothers in foreign lands. A hand is out stretched to the young and to some in the modern world and a new openness about the benefits of this way of life is shared.
But still they have to fight, not now with weapons, but words and actions, openly against the industry of mediocre skill and the churning out of bodies for the machine.
Now is the time, while an elite still as the first existed in numbers enough to follow the call.
In Ireland, England, Persia, India and China the music is still sung and much of the fine poetry, dance, language and knowledge of childish things is not lost, the seeds of wisdom will once more be sown in a new generation of remembrancer.
The fragmented brothers still surviving in the fourth age some diminished some stronger.
1 European Great Guild steadying and pushing forward.
Cathedral works organisations whose destinies lay in the hands of others.
5 families of German Journeymen and 2 families of Compagnons of France still proud and free.
Chinese guilds must learn from our third age.
Middle East guilds need help to hold together.
Southern Indian Guilds strong but for the right leaders.
Ancient Guild of bricklayers and stone layers still militant and alive.
Ancient Marblers all tradition.
The St Stephens & Quattro Coronati Guilds supply the lifeblood of the next generation.
Many small regional groups need time to find their place.
The leadership of The Worshipful Company leadership has moved away from the craft.
Saga written by our Guild Master