P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia (1999) is a complex movie. It is stacked with symbolism, allegory, and a intricate web of inter-laced lives and events focussed around Magnolia Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley. The film subtly references several Biblical passages and events, e.g. Exodus 8:2 and Exodus 20:5. However, none are more subtle and stranger that those that allude to Freemasonry.
Is PT Anderson a Freemason?
PT Andersons links to Freemasonry would to exist only in his movies and to my best knowledge he hasn’t commented either way. Strange elusive links exist in his choice to use Scientologist (scientology being a different school of the same branch of philosophical beliefs as Freemasonry) and visits to the set of Eyes Wide Shut directed by Khabbalist, Stanley Kubrick. Perhaps Paul chose to make a very cryptic movie and placement of Masonic tropes and symbolism is a great way to generate buzz.
Albert Mackeys Book in Magnolia
The first of Magnolias Masonic references is when Stanley Spector, the boy genius, is studying in the school library. Before him are an array of books most of which are philosophical works. Quite prominent is Wild Talents by Charles Fort (yes, the Charles Fort, researcher of strange phenomena and author of The Book of the Damned), but the book that’s perched to one corner is Albert Mackey’s The History of Freemasonry (written by Albert Mackey, who shares his last name with Tom Cruise’s character, Frank T.J. Mackey).
Magnolias Magic Masonic Ring
Magnolias high tension gameshow scene starts with two Masonic references. Possible pervert and television kids show host, Jimmy Gator is dying of advanced cancer so weak and frail. Just before he goes out to host his first show since he found out he has cancer that turns out to be his last, his friend TV executive, Burt Ramsey, places his left hand upon Jimmy’s shoulder and says, “We met upon the level, and we’re parting on the square.” On Burt’s little finger is a gold Masonic ring. Why is the ring magic? The actor playing Burt Ramsey is none other than the movies narrator and world renowned sleight of hand magician, raconteur, author and Freemason the late Ricky Jay.
“We met upon the level, and we’re parting on the square”, Jimmy Gator
The phrase “we met upon the level, and we’re parting on the square” is taken directly from Freemasonry doctrines.
At the close of every Blue Lodge the First, Second, and Third Degrees, the following is chanted:
Worshipful Master: Brother Senior Warden, how should Masons meet?
Senior Warden: Upon the level.
Worshipful Master: How act, Brother Junior Warden?
Junior Warden: By the plumb.
Worshipful Master: And part upon the square. So, my brethren, may we ever meet, act, and part, in the name of the Lord.
This statement acts as Burts final farewell to what’s likely a fellow masonic craft brother, Jimmy Gator.
Magnolias Masonic Gameshow Emblems
Another reference that’s slightly more subtle but confirms that Jimmy Gator himself is likely a Freemason. Along with the globe, balancing scales and other Masonic emblems, quote prominently on the What Do Kids Know? stage is a set of compasses placed over two laurel branches.
Other emblems on the panels are the tragedy and comedy masks, the Greek letter π (pi), a paint brush and pallet, Bohr’s atomic structure, the Caduceus, a weather vein with the cardinal directions, a hand holding a quill, a harp, and a book with an oil lamp. All of these symbols feature in Masonic tracing boards as values and traits that a Mason should uphold.
Magnolias Masonic King Solomon Nod
Before being sacked for general ineptitude and driving into the front of a 7/11, “Quiz Kid” Donny Smith is sacked from his position as salesman from “Solomon and Solomon” electrical retail store. Although it’s never confirmed, we are shown visually that it’s the two Solomon brothers letting him go.
King Solomon is revered as both an originator and innovator of the Masonic crafts having brought Enochian Magick together with Hermetic Egyptian Magick via his many wives and concubines. The references to brotherhood and Solomon are clearly visible in these brief scenes and setup the redemption story arc of Donny Smith.
Magnolias Hiran Abif Reference?
While many have noted the Masonic influences in PT Andersons masterpiece, one more reference to Freemasonry exists in the cold opening first story of “The Hanging of Three Men”. A gentleman and businessman is murdered by three rogues who were trying to rob him. This is clearly a reference to the Masonic legend of Hiram Abif, Learned Master and architect of King Solomon’s Temple who is murdered by three Fellow Crafts Ruffians who wish to steal the secrets of Freemasonry from him.
I shall finish by quoting the narrator at the beginning of the film:”…And I would like to think this was only a matter of chance. … And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just something that happened. This cannot be one of those things. This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can’t. This was not just a matter of chance. Oh, these strange things happen all the time.”