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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0887372231

From: Suzanne B Sommerville <>
Subject: Re: Riding the Goat
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 07:17:11 -0500

John Giacoletti wrote:

>There is no goat or any other animal in any lodge I am aware of. Getting
>KO'd [in my case] or gently lowered while blindfolded into a burlap
>and dragged off is what is called "riding the goat."
>You are hauled off to another part of the lodge floor and find you are
>participating in a play and have been symbolically buried. Then you are
>"raised" and brought to new life from this symbolic death, new life
>it is hoped that through the precepts of Freemasonary, basically the
>tenants of the Bible, fellow-ship and brotherly love, that having been
>a Mason, you will lead a better life.<

Could "riding the goat" have anything to do with the Biblical, Old
Testament "scapegoat"?

In this ritual, all the sins of the community were loaded on the back of a
goat, which was then sent into the desert. The community could then begin
anew, freed from the "guilt" that had accumulated.

For the Ancient Greeks, tragedy, literally "goat song," arises from the
suffering that comes to an essentially innocent person who, through some
flaw in character or error in judgement, does wrong.

>> Then you are
>"raised" and brought to new life from this symbolic death <<

The tragic hero / heroine achieves a symbolic death and rebirth through
recognizing the error and accepting the suffering. All of this is done in
the presence of the community that also suffers the effects of the "error"
and that realizes its vulnerability: "Let no man count himself happy
until he is dead" and "There, but for the grace of God . . .".

Today, the word "scapegoat" is used to refer to the placing of blame on an
innocent person by a community that cannot face its culpability but that
must nevertheless find someone / thing to blame.


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