Jacob Grimm

I’m currently finally reading one of the few books about the Northern European sources for Masonic symbolism, Logghe’s From Times Immemorial. Logghe lays quite some stress on one step between the guilds and Freemasonry (which is basically Farwerck‘s thesis): legal assemblies.

In spite of a lengthy bibliography, Logghe uses a few works a lot. One is Fort’s The early History And Antiquities Of Freemasonry. This book is quoted at length in this article, but where I have focused on religious and mythological references to the Germanic past, Logghe also used Fort’s (sparse) references to law. The other book that is referred to a lot is from Jacob Grimm.

You’ve probably heard of Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785-1863). He is one of the brothers Grimm who are mostly known for collecting fairy tales. Besides collecting fairy tales, the brothers Grimm collected a wealth of other material and wrote material of their own. Not all that much of that material is available in English. This is mostly fairy tales, but fortunately also Jacob’s massive work about mythology is available as Teutonic Mythology. That work is pretty groundbreaking, but has been caught up by later investigations on some points. It is one of the few classic works on the subject that are available in English.

Another of Jacob’s work concerns us more. It has the beautiful title Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer which is not easy to translate directly. The fact that this book is not available in English makes that there is no ‘fixed’ translation for the title. Wikipedia has “German Legal Antiquities” which is a fair translation. I have seen other translations.

As the title suggests, the book is about ancient Germanic law. Quite some of that survived and Grimm compiled and annotated what he found. I’ve had the book for many years, but don’t remember much of it. It is one of these books that make me glad that I read German. Quite some classic sources of information about the Teutonic isn’t available in English. A big gap for everybody who are dependent on information in that language.

Logghe distilled some wonderful information from Grimm’s book. Opening and closing of the assembly, dress-codes, usages, there are many things that give a ‘Masonic feel’. The theory is that Germanic initiations survived in guilds which became warrior and later trade-guilds. Over time it were the guilds which handled juridical questions and over the path of workman guilds such elements have found their way into Masonic symbolism.

Farwerck also refers to juridical gatherings here and there, but Logghe certainly lays more focus on this part.

Logghe’s book in written in Dutch and it is only available for regular Freemasons (or those who are able to find it second hand), so this isn’t a book I can just recommend you to read. Unfortunately I haven’t found an English version of Grimm’s book either, so some of you may just have to believe me when I say that this is a very interesting approach. Some of it may find its way to this website some time.

Three people who extensively wrote about ‘our subject’, purposely or not, wrote/write for a select audience. Farwerck wrote in Dutch, Ystad writes in Norwegian, Logghe writes in Dutch and for a limited audience.
Ystad is working on an English version of his book. Hopefully it will see the light of day some time soon. I doubt the author two sources will ever be available for an English audience. You may have to do with Fort and what I present you here….

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