Malheur Cave sits in the desert wastelands of southeastern Oregon. It’s the site of a closely- guarded Masonic ceremony, held in late August about 1,000 feet into the lava tube. A torchlight ceremony confers the Third Degree on an initiate, surrounded by cold, dark gloom.
But consider whether this location has hosted other Masonic events. And go deeper. Ask yourself what it really means to be a Mason.
Native American legend might bear on these matters. According to Paiute legend, long ago a band of their tribe was warned by a coyote of the approach of a larger force from the Bannock Tribe. The Bannocks planned on exterminating them. So the Paiutes stocked the cave with food. They closed up its entrance with large rocks. Then they retreated into its depths.
The coyote was left outside to keep watch.
The marauding Bannocks discovered the cave and suspected it was where the Paiutes were hiding. For several days, the Bannocks shot arrows into the entrance of the cave. They didn’t realize the arrows landed harmlessly in the darkness. Also they didn’t realize the Paiutes had ample provisions of food and water. Eventually the Bannocks moved on.
The Paiutes returned to sunlight, to the solar perpendicular. They thanked the coyote for his protection. Thereafter they revered the coyote as a wise, cunning protector. Moreover, they developed a belief in transmigration of human souls through the coyote to heaven, where they would be restored to youth, plentiful game, flowers, trees, lakes, and streams.
As postscript, Malheur Cave is owned by Robert Burns Masonic Lodge No. 97, located in the small community of Burns, Oregon. Every member of that lodge has affirmed that a Mason is first prepared to be made such in his heart. That affirmation provides Freemasons with basis for looking to other cultures and claiming them as brother Masons, in all but name.
So this question occurs to me: were the Paiutes lodge brothers, using Malheur Cave as their sanctuary, with the coyote posted outside as their Tyler?
WB Bob Casey, Worshipful Master 2016
(photo courtesy of http://oregoncaves4u.com/Malheur%20Cave.html)