Thursday, March 1, 2018

Grand College of Rites of the USA

Today I received the latest release of the Collectanea which is the official Transactions of the Grand College of Rites of the United States of America and which is privately printed for members of this organization. The Collectanea contains the rituals of various organizations lawfully deposited within the archives of the Grand College of Rites. Among the rituals overseen by the Grand College are those of the Rite of Strict Observance, the Ancient and Primitive Rite, the Primitive Scottish Rite, and many others. All dues current members (or Fellows as we are called) receive a copy of the current volume of Collectanea during the first quarter of each year. In addition to all his work for the Scottish Rite, Arturo de Hoyos, the Premier Knight Grand Cross, is the Grand Archivist for the Grand College of Rites who spearheads the effort that makes the Collectanea possible.

As a Masonic researcher, I love the Grand College of Rites. I first heard of the Grand College of Rites when I was researching the appendant bodies and research organizations of Freemasonry. I cannot speak any higher of this group. Any Master Mason that is slightly interested in Masonic history to the most hardcore Masonic scholars, I urge you to join.

For those unfamiliar with the Grand College of Rites, it is an organization dedicated to preserving the history and rituals of defunct and inactive Masonic orders. As one Brother puts it: “The GCR guides you through some odd and forgotten side streets in Masonic history.” It meets annually at the time and place of the Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America during “Masonic Week.”

Membership is available for any Master Mason holding membership and in good standing in a regular symbolic Lodge recognized by a majority of the Grand Lodges of Freemasonry in the United States of America.

For any Master Mason interested in joining, you can now fill out a petition online:

The Light in the Temple

By Carl W. Mason

In the ancient days of story, 
When the fathers sought the light, 
And the temple's golden glory 
Blazed on old Moriah's height 
Deep within the sacred portals 
Of that holy house of prayer, 
Thrilling awed and trembling mortals, 
Burned a mystic brightness there.

Day and night its glow extended 
Thru the calm religious gloom, 
While the long-robed priests attended 
In the consecrated room. 
'Twas the pure Shekineh gleaming,- 
Symbol of the eternal God, 
As His light, 'mid darkness beaming, 
Dwells within the human clod.

Tell me, brother, as you travel 
On the rugged earthly way, 
Should the Master Builder's gavel 
Sound your final call today 
As your weary feet are turning 
At the summons to depart, 
Can you find the God-light burning 
In the temple of your heart?

Could you find the clear rays brightly 
Showing a record called Well done,- 
Telling good deeds wrought uprightly, 
Battles fought and victories won? 
Has the pure divine example 
Been for you the better part, 
Safely lodged within the temple 
Of a true Masonic heart?

Let your willing hands be doing 
Daily for a brother's needs, 
Thus the sacred flame renewing 
With the oil of kindly deeds. 
Keep your temple swept and garnished 
With your tenets' rule divine, 
And your light, its ray untarnished, 
Thru the night will ever shine.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An Update on my Father

Back in December I posted the tragic news that my father has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer. Christmas was both joyous and emotional for my family. The cancer had eaten at his pelvic bone, but with the radiation treatment he received in January, he does not require the use of crutches anymore.

At the end of January, people from Emmett came together for a Benefit Dinner and raised funds to assist my father with his medical bills. It was very moving to see my father go to the dinner to see the hundreds of people show up to show him their support. There are no words to describe the gratitude my family has for all of the support my father has received.

My dad is now in Week 5 of his target therapy drug and all would be well, but he is still fighting with the nausea.

Even if you cannot provide any financial support for #BackupForBrad, please keep my father in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Beacon Light

By Rob Morris

A city set upon a hill 
Cannot be hid 
Exposed to every eye, it will 
Over surrounding plain and vale, 
An influence shed, 
And spread the light of peace afar, 
Or blight the land with horrid war. 

Each Mason's Lodge is planted so 
For high display 
Each is a BEACON LIGHT, to show 
Life's weary wanderers as they go, 
The better way 
To show by ties of earthly love, 
How perfect is the Lodge above! 

Be this your willing task, dear friends, 
While laboring here 
Borrow from Him who kindly lends 
The heavenly ladder that ascends 
The higher sphere 
And let the world your progress see, 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Masonic Week

Well, Masonic Week was a blast and I look forward to coming back again next year. Masonic Week started with a red eye flight to DC, landing on Wednesday and getting everything prepared. Thursday started with attending the annual meeting of the Grand Council of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the United States of America.

At this meeting Joe Manning became Most Worthy Grand Master with Matthew Dupee as the Most Eminent Grand Prior. Congratulations to those who received the Knight Humilitas and Knight Caritas this year. Once the meeting adjourned, the Grand Master's Council held a Festive Board for members and it was an ample meal.

After lunch, Potomac Court No. 107 followed by the Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan held their meetings respectively. Paul Johnston from England, the Grand Master of the Masonic Order of Athelstan was in attendance and it was a pleasure to see him again. Once their meeting was done, I was initiated into the Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers.

Although dinner was hosted by the Masonic Order of Athelstan, I had dinner with some Brothers elsewhere. While I have been in the AMD for 4-years, I had not been too active, but tonight I went through the Royal Ark Mariner degree and St. Lawrence of Martyr degree. After that, it was time for some libations in the hospitality suites.

Friday morning brought with it the Grand College of Rites where the Ancient Toltec Rite was absorbed into the Grand College of Rites. Fellow D. Allen Surrat was elected Grand Chancellor of this research group and I wish him the best of luck in the next year. The Grand Registrar, Jerry Klein, was made an Honorary Past Grand Chancellor for all the work he does for the Grand College. The rest of the morning was morning with an Idaho Frater about the next steps we need to take to getting a College in Idaho established.

Following lunch the Order of Knights Masons where Bill Miller was elected Most Excellent Great Chief of the order and David Grindle was appointed Excellent Chief of Great Chief's Council. I had the rest of the afternoon off and it was nice to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. The 10th Annual Dinner of the Masonic Society with Brother Eric Diamond as the guest speaker was very enjoyable.

Saturday morning began with a meeting of the Philalethes Society followed by the annual meeting of the Grand Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor. At the Grand Chapter meeting, David Grindle was elected Grand Preceptor.

After lunch, the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD) of the United States of America, of the Grand Conclave of the Secret Monitor, and of the Appendant Orders of the Red Branch of Eri and the Scarlet Cord met and which took up much of the afternoon. David DIxon Goodwin was elected Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the AMD of the USA. The All Masonic Banquet followed.

The Masonic Order of the Bath convened after the banquet and, after initiating a new class of over 40 Masons, I was elected as Very Honorable Captain General (4th-in-command).

I always enjoy Masonic Week and not because of all of the meetings I attend. I enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship. I meet so many Brethren from so many places and the most enjoyable parts are outside of the meeting where great conversations are held.

Now after cleaning up and packing, it's time to get back to Idaho.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I'm Ready For My Last Degree

By Author Unknown

An old man lay sick in the Masonic Home, 
His face was as ashen as the white sea foam, 
His eyes were dim, his hair was gray, 
His back was bent with the trials of the way, 
He falteringly spoke, but I heard him say, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

I've come to the end of the level of time 
That leads us to that Grand Lodge sublime, 
From whose borne none ever return, 
More light in Masonry there I shall learn 
By an altar where light shall evermore shine, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

With the Apprentice's gauge, I've divided my time 
Into equal parts since life's early prime. 
And this I have found amidst life's great turmoil, 
My wages are due me, in corn, wine and oil, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

Each day from life's quarries, I've hewn a stone, 
With the gavel I've shaped them, each one alone, 
And shipped them along beyond that bright stand, 
To build me a house in that fair land, 
A spiritual house not made with hands, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

I've squared each stone by the virtue square, 
And plumbed them all true, as I shipped them there, 
With the compass I've measured the Master's designs 
And kept within due bounds, with his points and his signs, 
My blueprints are folded, I've answered his signs, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

The mortar I've made from friendship and love, 
To be spread with the Master's trowel up above, 
My apron is worn, but it's surface is white, 
My working tools will now be cold and quiet 
My trestle board's bare, and I'm going tonight, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

A few moments later the old man was dead, 
And I fancy that I could see his soul as it fled, 
Upward and onward, to the great door, 
Where he gave an alarm, and a voice did implore, 
The old man gave his answer with words once more, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

That night in a Lodge, free from all strife and storm, 
He took that degree, his last in due form, 
So may I live like he did, to build day by day, 
A spiritual house, in that land far away, 
So, when I meet my Grand Master I can say, 
I'm ready for my last degree.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order

One of my Christmas presents from my parents was a set of books one of which was "The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order" by Christopher McIntosh. As a Mason and a fan of history, I've always found Rosicrucianism to be a fascinating subject, and having joined several groups with Rosicrucian overtones I started actively pursuing the history of this group. This book by McIntosh was a great asset and I advise anyone who is interested in learning about Rosicrucianism to read this book.

Christopher McIntosh traces the history of the Rosicrucian movement from its legendary founding with the life and death of Christian Rozenkreutz as well as the discovery of Rozenkreutz's tomb 120-years after his death. McIntosh analyzes the ancient doctrines, the esoteric tradition in Germany, the influences and possible true founding with the Tubingen Circle, the aftermath of the Rosicrucian Manifestos (Fama Fraternitatis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rozenkreutz), the spread of Rosicrucianism across Europe, the relationship of alchemy and Rosicrucianism, the organization known as "The Golden and Rosy Cross", monarchs who supported Rosicrucianism, the revival in France, the group known as the "Golden Dawn", Rosicrucianism in literature, and modern Rosicrucian movements (to include Masonic ones).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Advancement in the SRICF

Well, this weekend was the third winter journey I've taken to attend the semi-annual convocation of the Wyoming College of the Societas Rosicruciana In Civitatibus Foederatis. After the prerequisite severe winter road conditions, my traveling companions and I arrived in Riverton, WY, early Saturday evening. Along with a close friend and Frater, I went to the Masonic Lodge that night and received the Grades of the Second Order (V°, VI°, and VII°) or also known as the Teaching Grades. Words cannot even describe it all and the experience of going through those three grades.

Sunday morning, Wyoming College conferred the Grades of the First Order (I° to IV°) on four candidates, two of them from Idaho; one of whom is the current Worshipful Master of my home Lodge. The hospitality of the Wyoming Fratres was great, as always. My traveling companions and I attempted to travel back to Idaho, but our van broke down so we are spending another night and will attempt again in the morning. Now it is time for some Scotch before going to bed.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The La Ru Kaj

In January of 2013, I took a Winter course called "Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion" taught by the Anthropology Department. This was a fun class and further developed my theological studies. The final assignment was a position paper that critically analyzes a preexisting anthropological description of a religious practice and applies the hypotheses and definition from Steadman and Palmer, two well-known anthropologists.


Hinduism and the Indic people have always fascinated me (not having much contact with Eastern religions); therefore, I researched the various rites within India and I came upon the pig sacrificial rite practiced by the Gond people. The Gond or Gondi makes up the largest tribe in central India, and have spread over several states within the country making them the second largest tribe overall. The Indic people practice a variety of rituals to honor the countless gods. One of these rituals is the La Ru Kaj or pig sacrifice. The pig sacrifice of the Gond people is practice honoring the god Narayan deo so that he removes sickness and misfortune from the family thereby securing their prosperity. From the outside Narayan deo is seen an inter-tribal deity, but from within the tribe they refer to him as a sun-god. This god is said to be the remover of sickness and the protector of the hearth (Bhagvat 30). This rite should be a proactive event, but often is said to happen because of sickness laid upon a family member. Depending on one’s wealth will affect how the ceremony is done and how often.

Normally the sacrifice should be conducted by the head of a family every nine to twelve years using a pig, but if a family is too poor they can use a cock or rooster instead that which should then be done every three to five years. This version of the ceremony is done with just the family members present. Like what is seen in the more elaborate ceremony; the cock is presented with food and, if taken, is shown to be acceptable to the god. If the cock does not willingly take to the food, then another one must be chosen. In his book, The Gond and Bhumia of Eastern Mandla, Stephen Fuchs states that once the cock takes to the food, its head is pushed into a hole in the floor just inside the threshold of the main entrance of the house which is then filled with mud to suffocate the animal. Once dead, the cock is taken out to the courtyard, its head cut-off, blood drained, and then cut up to be boiled for a meal to be eaten by the family with a dish of rice (427).

For those who can afford it, a pig is sacrificed. The pig sacrifice or, la ru kaj (the pig’s wedding), is much more elaborate and covers a longer period. A young male pig, usually around a month old, is chosen from either the herd or a captured wildling. A sanghi, or partner, is chosen to be dedicated to Suraj Narayan, the brother of Narayan deo, and can be another young pig or a white cock. There is a dedication ceremony that involves feeding the pig before any human and then cutting pieces from the tail as well as castrating the pigs which pieces are buried near the threshold (Fuchs 430). The actual sacrifice may not take place for some time after the dedication, often a year after. During this time the pig is kept somewhat isolated and is under the care of the mistress of the family (Fuchs 431). If all males in the family are dead, then the sacrifice is omitted as only men can perform the actual sacrifice.

The sacrifice can be done any time within a year of the dedication, but is preferred after the harvest is finished when food is plentiful. Many are invited to attend such family, tribesman, members of the same caste, and the village shaman or priest, but this does vary depending on one’s wealth and resources. Once all the guests have gathered on the first day, the ceremonies start with the sacrifice of the sanghi to Suraj Narayan, which is decapitated and taken before a gum tree to be burnt (Fuchs 432). Through this ceremony and others that follow chants, singing, and incantations are used to ask the gods to accept their offerings. The body is then cut-up and boiled to be eaten with rice.

Once the sanghi is sacrificed, the la ru is chased until caught and then fed. Once fed, it is taken to the threshold of the house and suffocated by various methods (Fuchs 433). At the time of death there is a master of ceremonies, or bhandari, invokes the acceptance of the appropriate gods. The bhandari is usually the village priest or, in his absence, a prominent man from the area. Usually the father-in-law of the head of the family acts as the bhandari’s assistant or sonwani (Fuchs 435).

After the pig is dead they singe the hair and skin then take it to a prepared pit called the narda where it is cleaned. It is taken to the house where it is decapitated, gutted, cut-up, and ceremonially cleaned. Any dirt stained with blood is thrown into the narda (Fuchs 437). A place is made with a chauk (looks like an ‘X’) of uncooked rice where the pig’s head is placed. Above the head a phulera, made of reeds and cotton, hangs. Upon it sit five flat cakes wrapped in leaves. The phulera is the seat of the god to come and accept the offerings and sacrifice. For this reason, once hung, nobody is to touch the phulera because it is so sacred (Fuchs 438). The bhandari is bathed at the narda then led over a carpet of leaves to the house where his feet are washed and anointed. A boy is chosen to go with the bhandari and whose foot is treated in the same manner, and whose duty it is to guard the phulera. Later this boy takes on a role as a part of what would call the deception stage of the sacrifice (Fuchs 440). After some singing, the bhandari and all the male relatives offer rice and pieces of the pig’s liver by sprinkling it upon the chauk. The other guests offer up copper coins which will go to the bhandari (Fuchs 443).

A large meal is made composing of rice and the butchered pig. All attendees are to eat it under cover and all portions of the la ru is to be eaten. After the meal is finished, liquor is served, and they celebrate throughout the night (Fuchs 444). The 2nd day there is no ceremonies, but they do partake of further food. When done eating all participants wash over the pit. The third day starts the finale of the sacrifice and is what I would call the deceptive stage.

In a strange fashion the boy guardian’s foot is caused to touch the pig’s head lying upon the chauk. The boy is then taken from the house, the pig’s head is taken apart, and contents poured into a pot along with the chauk (Fuchs 446). The meal served is called the memorial meal which only men can eat. Portions of the la ru was saved to be given to the bhandari who is waiting with strips of the pig’s skin. The bhandari chases and beats the boy guardian with the strips. According to Fuchs, this act is to symbolize the boy being the scapegoat and being blamed for the death of the pig and hide the true identity of the slayer from the gods. Further deception is made by the guests who rush out of one entrance and reenter in another (447). Ending the festivities comes when the bhandari takes down the phulera, gathers the la ru’s skull bones, and throws them all into the narda. The pit is then quickly filled with mud and the ground leveled off. The bhandari then engages the mistress in a ceremony of alms (Fuchs 448); the value of the gift varies with the wealth of the family.

Stephen Fuchs produced his findings primarily from interviews from a few locals and never actually saw the ceremony occur. This may be due to the fact that this practice isn’t as popular as it once was. Fuchs asserts that many don’t practice as they are afraid of making a mistake during the practice and angering the gods (428). The recall of events that occur comes to us emic viewpoint, but the few points of analysis come from his opinion and thus we see an etic point of view. While he doesn’t directly state, one can see that this has group benefits as the family is affected not just by their hopes of prosperity granted by the gods, but also the display of the generosity and status among the village. Stephen Fuchs approaches this sacrificial rite from the psychological approach. This is supported as he states the following “It is not celebrated primarily to effect a cure from sickness, but to secure the prosperity of the family through the intervention of Narayan deo” (427). The people try to quiet their fears of human weakness such as disease or misfortunes that may be out of their control.

This sacrificial practice does support the definition of religion by Steadman and Palmer as we cannot verify the supernatural claims that sacrificing this pig will oblige Narayan deo to remove sickness and ensure prosperity of the family. Other such unverifiable claims can be seen with the phulera which is to act as the seat of the god or that the gods will be deceived by the hazing of the boy guardian.

One can see, however, the functionality of such a sacrifice. Such an act shows that the family, or at least the head of the family, is willing to sacrifice an animal that would normally be used to procreate and for later harvesting at a more convenient time. The ceremony is elaborate, costly, and the guests may include not just local villagers and thus we see a fostering of social relationships. There is also some sacrifice on the part of the guests attending as during a part of the ceremony the male guests offer up coins which will later be given to the bhandari. Such an act shows their willingness to sacrifice their own finances for the benefit of another’s family and prosperity. This acceptance of voluntary suffering will influence not just the descendants of the family to continue this sacrifice, but also, we would see influence of caste-fellows and villagers since one has shown he is willing to suffer for others that they should reciprocate (Steadman and Palmer 154).

Approaching this from the interpretation of Steadman and Palmer, I would say that it furthers Fuchs’ viewpoint of this ceremony. Fuchs demonstrates the group and individual benefit while Steadman and Palmer do the same thing, but shows a stronger conclusion of the results of the behavior.

The ritual is complicated and lengthy, but Stephen Fuchs doesn’t seem to make many direct statements as to the benefits or school of thought one may approach this with, but from reading one can draw some intelligent conclusions as to who prospers and how this ritual developed. This combined with the viewpoints of Steadman and Palmer on voluntary sacrifice will lead the reader to a stronger conclusion to such religious behavior.


1. Fuchs, Stephen. The Gond and Bhumia of eastern Mandla. New York: Asia Publishing House, 1960. 427-449. 

2. Bhagvat, Durga. “Tribal Gods and Festivals in Central India.” Asian Folklore Studies 27 (1968): 30 

3. Steadman, Lyle B. and Palmer, Craig T. The Supernatural and Natulra Selection: The Evolution of Religion. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008. 154.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


Today is the Epiphany, or Day of the Three Kings (Three Wise Men or Three Magi), which marks the end of the 12-days of Christmas and commemorates a number of different events in the life of Jesus:  the revelation to and adoration of the Three Magi, the baptism of Christ, and the miracles at Cana; it is also sometimes known as Theophany meaning "manifestation of God."

The word "Epiphany" comes from the late Greek word "epiphaneia" meaning "manifestation or to show onto (revelation)." For Christians, it is meant to represent the revelations of Christ's birth to the magi, the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, and the miracles at the wedding in Cana when Christ turned water to wine. Epiphanytide concludes on February 2nd on a day known as Candlemas for some churches while for others it ends on Ash Wednesday. The last Sunday of the Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday. Depending on the church, the Epiphany is not always celebrated on January 6th. Some celebrate it the Sunday after the 6th while many Orthodox churches celebrate the Epiphany on January 19th. The liturgical color for the Epiphany season is white.

According to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, three wise men, or magi, named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, were visited by an angel who declared the Messiah had been born and these three traveled to Bethlehem, following a star in the sky said to rest over where Jesus was born. When they found the baby Jesus they praised his glory and bestowed the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were respectively symbolic of His royal standing, His divine birth, and His mortality.