The Ancient Noble Order of the Gormogons was a short-lived 18th century society formed by expelled Freemason Philip Wharton which left no records or accomplishments to indicate its true goal and purpose. From the group's few published articles it is thought that the society's primary objective was to hold up Freemasonry to ridicule. During its brief existence it was accused of being a Jacobite-leaning group. There is some evidence of such an association, since the first known Grandmaster (or Oecumenical Volgi) was Andrew Michael Ramsay of Ayr, Scotland, a Jacobite of strong convictions. It also appears to have been a charitable organization, at least according to its surviving bylaws. There are also some surviving pendant badges, bearing their sign.
Possible etymology of the name
Jonathon Green suggests in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang that, in the form gormagon, the word is a blend of gorgon and dragon, while the Oxford English Dictionary describes the etymology as "meaningless: pseudo Chinese."
In The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, the word gormagon was humorously defined thus: "A monster with six eyes, three mouths, four arms, eight legs, five on one side and three on the other, three arses, two tarses [penises], and a cunt upon its back." The compiler Francis Grose gave the game away in his dictionary entry by explaining that it was "a man on horseback, with a woman behind him". (His "five legs on one side" description is easily explained – the woman was riding side-saddle.)
In popular culture
The Gormogons have been referenced in the TV show Bones. Beginning with the season 3 premiere, "The Widow's Son in the Windshield", the Jeffersonian team investigated a cannibalistic serial killer they call Gormogon, for his obsession with secret societies and his targeting of the Knights of Columbus. In the season 3 finale, "The Pain in the Heart", Gormogon's apprentice is revealed.
Gormogon is also mentioned as an appropriate name for a gargoyle in "Imperfect Hosts", part of the first volume of The Sandman, "Preludes & Nocturnes" [pg 69].
- Antient Noble Order of the Gormogons
- Lyttle, Charles H. "Historical Bases of Rome's Conflict with Freemasonry", Church History, Vol. 9, No. 1. (Mar., 1940), pp. 3–23.
- Carr. J. L. "Gorgons, Gormogons, Medusists and Masons". The Modern Language Review. Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jan., 1963), pp. 73–78.
- Sotheby's October 1974 catalogue, reproduced in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, No. 858 (Sep., 1974), pp. i–lx.
- "gormagon", OED Online (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, retrieved 26 March 2009.
- Francis Grose (1994), The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence, London: Senate, ISBN 1-85958-045-9, a facsimile reprint of Captain [Francis] Grose, comp. (1811), Lexicon balatronicum, London: Printed for C. Chappel.
- See Captain [Francis] Grose; Juliet Sutherland [et al.], eds. (April 2004), 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue [EBook #5402], Salt Lake City, Ut.: Project Gutenberg, retrieved 26 March 2009.
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