Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Occult Book

While doing some research for a paper I'm presenting to my SRICF College, I came across "The Occult Book: A Chronological Journey from Alchemy to Wicca" by John Michael Greer. John Michael Greer is a well-known author and blogger on occultism. He served for 12-years as Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and, since 2013, he heads the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. The book's cover is aesthetically pleasing with blue with golden embossed text and symbols, but inside holds a plethora of information on occultism covering from the 6th Century BC to modern times. The book has the following chapters:
Pythagoras
Empedocles and the Four Elements
Horoscopes
Plato
Bacchic Mysteries
Miriam the Alchemist
Jesus Christ
Fall of Mona
Runic Alphabet
Apollonius of Tyana
Basilides of Alexandria
Magic
Valentinus
The Corpus Hermeticum
Plotinus
Zosimos of Panopolis
Iamblichus of Chalcis
Pagan Rome
Eleusinian Mysteries
Edicts of Justinian
Merlin
Jabir ibn Hayyan
Knights Templar
The Albigensian Crusades
The Kabbalah
Fall of Harran
Abraham Abulafia
Cecco d'Ascolithe 
Philosopher's Stone
Tarot
Witch Trials
Johannes Reuchlin
Paracelsus
Cornelius Agrippa
John Dee
Nostradamus
Isaac Luria
The Legend of Faust
Giordano Bureus
The Rosicrucian Manifestos
Christian Astrology
Freemasonry
Passage of the Witchcraft Act
Emanuel Swedenborg
The Hellfire Club
The Elus Coens
Franz Mesmer
Alessandro Cagliostro
Druids
Francis Barrett
Spiritualism
Eliphas Levi
Theosophy
The Martinist Order
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hoodoo
Carl Jung
Rudolf Steiner
The Thule Society
Manly P. Hall
Alchemy
Wicca
The Thirteenth Baktun
Each of these chapters contains a stunning picture relevant to the subject with a page worth of description. This book does not go in-depth with each subject, but it lays a great foundation for researchers to start off from. At the bottom of each page, Greer gives more information to look up for further study. At the end of the book is a Notes and References Section which includes each date and subject, along with the books the material in this book came from. This book is good for both novices and experts in occultism as it provides the reader with a nice reference and chronological history.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

I Sat In Lodge With You

By Wilbur D. Nesbit


There is a saying filled with cheer, 
Which calls a man to fellowship. 
It means as much for him to hear 
As lies within the brother grip. 
Nay, more! It opens wide the way 
To friendliness sincere and true 
There are no strangers when you say 
To me: I sat in lodge with you. 

When that is said, then I am known 
There is no questioning nor doubt 
I need not walk my path alone 
Nor from my fellows be shut out. 
Those words hold all of brotherhood 
And help me face the world anew 
There's something deep and rich and good 
In this: I sat in lodge with you. 

Though in far lands one needs must roam 
By sea and shore and hill and plain, 
Those words bring him a touch of home 
And lighten tasks that seem in vain. 
Men's faces are no longer strange 
But seem as those he always knew 
When some one brings the joyous change 
With this: I sat in lodge with you. 

So you, my brother, now and then 
Have often put me in your debt 
By showing forth to other men 
That you your friends do not forget. 
When all the world seems gray and cold 
And I am weary, worn and blue 
Then comes this golden thought I hold 
You said: I sat in lodge with you. 

When to the last great Lodge you fare 
My prayer is that I may be 
One of your friends who wait you there 
Intent your smiling face to see. 
We, with the warden at the gate, 
Will have a pleasant task to do 
We'll call, though you come soon or late: 
Come in! We sat in lodge with you!

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Two Rites of American Freemasonry

Scottish Rite vs York Rite: A Comparison

The York Rite and Scottish Rite are often seen as two branches in competition, particularly in American Freemasonry, but in reality, they both seek to impart further Masonic light to a willing aspirant. During the degree work, both the Scottish Rite and York Rite use costumes and stage props to enhance the dramatic impact of the degree. The difference in degree work, however, is that most Scottish Rite Valleys do not confer all 29-degrees, but only a set referred to as the “terminal degrees” which number around 7 to 10, and the rest are communicated to the candidate; this varies outside of the United States as some Supreme Councils require that each degree is conferred. In the York Rite, however, all the degrees and orders are conferred. The rituals themselves also differ as the York Rite rituals keep with the same storyline of the Blue Lodge while the Scottish Rite follows a slightly different storyline. That being said, however, you'll see some similarities between the degrees. The best way to describe it is that if the York Rite and Scottish Rite were college degrees, the York Rite would be a history degree and the Scottish Rite would be a philosophy degree. Uniforms are also a big difference between the two rites. Chapter and Council, you can wear suit and jacket as you would in Lodge, but several Companions often wear a red blazer for Chapter meetings and a purple blazer for Council meetings. Sir Knights wear a dress uniform with a chapeau. In the Scottish Rite to suit and jacket with a Scottish Rite cap (the color of the cap depending on your degree).


Scottish Rite

The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, or simply known as the Scottish Rite is perhaps the most known appendant body of Freemasonry, maybe second only to the Shriners. It confers a series of progressive degrees. This Rite is one of several appendant or concordant bodies in the Masonic fraternity. They confer from the 4° to the 33°. These degrees build upon the ethical and moral teachings and philosophies offered in Craft Masonry, or more commonly known as the Blue Lodge, through dramatic presentations. These degrees should not be seen as superior to the first three degrees of Craft Masonry, but just a continuation of one's search for more Light in Freemasonry. These degrees are conferred by several controlling bodies: The Lodge of Perfection confers the 4° through the 14°, the Chapter of Rose Croix confers the 15° through the 18°, the Council of Kadosh confers the 19° through the 30°, and the Consistory confers the 31° and 32°. For certain members who have given meritorious service to the community and to Freemasonry, the Rite may confer the 33°.

The Lodge of Perfection is presided over by a "Venerable Master," the Chapter of Rose Croix is presided over by a "Wise Master," the Council of Kadosh is presided over by a "Commander of Kadosh," the Consistory is presided over by a "Master of Kadosh," and all of these bodies unite under a body referred to as a "Valley." These Valleys unite under an "Orient" which is presided over by a Sovereign Grand Inspector General (SGIG). These Orients fall under the auspices of a central authority known as a Supreme Council. The Supreme Council is composed of 33 active members of the 33° and the presiding officer is known as the Sovereign Grand Commander. This is the structure according to the Southern Jurisdiction; other Scottish Rite jurisdictions may have some variations in their names and officer titles.


The 4° or Secret Master deals with the concepts of duty, fidelity, reflection, and study. To a Mason, duty embraces an obligation to take an interest in the problems of his environment, learn the social problems of his community, country, and even the World; and try to contribute solutions to these problems. The lessons of this degree teach one to practice silence, obedience, and fidelity.

In the 5° or Perfect Master, the moral teachings of this degree are that we live in peace with our own conscience and are honored by good people when we perform our duties honestly and diligently. When honesty, diligence, justice, and brotherhood do not exist, freedom and independence are meaningless. Masonry values man as a person. The lessons of this degree to us to be industrious, and to cultivate honesty, sincerity, and good faith.

In the 6° or Intimate Secretary, the principal lesson is that decisions should not be made only on appearances. To be curious is a good quality when directed toward the examination of social miseries, their reasons, and how they can be eliminated. A Mason should not remain detached from the world around him; he should not be an indifferent person. To keep and restore peace, he must be involved in the events of his world. It is the duty of a Mason to provide that men live in peace and harmony. The lessons of this degree teach us to be zealous, faithful, disinterested (unbiased, tolerant, free from selfish motives), benevolent, and act as the peacemaker.

The 7° or Provost and Judge teaches us to judge righteously. A law voluntarily accepted by a community should be a kind of lifestyle for the individuals comprising that community, and justice must always be observed. For a law to be considered as being accepted voluntarily, it should have been freely examined, discussed and voted on by the people. A man who is not free cannot be considered as being just, and the unjust cannot be considered as being free. Masonry teaches man to avoid evil behavior and to not do injustice to others. The lessons of this degree teach us to let justice be the guide of all your actions.

The 8° or Intendant of the Building investigates the necessity of acting on what we learn and that we should freely transmit our knowledge to others. The strength of the Temple depends on both hard work and ownership. When a man attains a title or position based on his own earning of it, he becomes both knowing and free; he is not indebted to anyone, his reward is attained by his own qualities and diligence. Masonry believes that balance and Brotherhood are established and maintained between the two principles of work and charity. The lessons of this degree teach us to be benevolent, kind, moral, and charitable.

In the 9° or Elu of the Nine, fear and ignorance are the two major enemies which enslave men. It is important that we do not become slaves of certain ideas; that we have the power to fight against ignorance and intolerance for the sake of civilization and our own intellectual freedom. It is our duty to morally raise our own conscience, to enlighten our souls and minds so that we may actively participate in instructing and enlightening others. The lessons of this degree teach us to enlighten our souls and minds, to instruct and enlighten people, and to be vigilant to the interests and honor of our country.

The 10° or Elu of the Fifteen demonstrates that Masons will always be opposed to ignorance, fanaticism, and tyranny. While it is our duty to continuously fight against these oppressive forces, we must ourselves be educated, tolerant, and open to freedom of thought. The war against fanaticism and terrorism is won with education and enlightenment. The lessons of this degree teach us to be tolerant and liberal (not the political ideology of the "modern liberal" or rather egalitarian), and to war against fanaticism and persecution with education and enlightenment; destroy ignorance.

The 11° or Elu of the Twelve emphasizes that life is a school for moral and spiritual training; that the entire lesson is a course in virtue, happiness, and a future existence. As Masons, we are to view ourselves and the entire human race as one great family. We are a champion of the people. Our work is never done, and our examples in life must be such that no man will have cause to repent because he has relied on our resolve, our profession, or our word. The lessons of this degree teach us to be earnest, true and reliable; and be the advocate and the champion of the rights of the people.

The 12° or Master Architect forces the Mason to consider the problems of his social life; that the life we have and the world we live in are what we make them by our own social character, by our ability to adapt to our fellows, our relationships, and our circumstances. It is important that we gain wisdom so that we may add dignity to the human race. The lessons of this degree teach us to seek wisdom through knowledge.

The 13° or Royal Arch of Solomon concerns men finding the truth within the caverns of their own conscience. There is one great arch, or bridge which makes the passage achievable, and allows us to master our own vices and passions. That bridge is the will of God. By seeking knowledge and moral character and being guided by faith and reason, the Mason will know how to combine science and religion, philosophy and theology; and recognize that these notions do not 0contradict each other, but form a harmonious whole. The lessons of this degree teach us to seek knowledge and be motivated by duty and honor.

The 14° or Perfect Elu is considered the Degree of Perfection and is the most mysterious of all. In it, the Mason finds the meaning of the concept of Deity in his own conscience, and thus opens for himself the gate to true knowledge. Knowledge has two sources. One is human and is obtained by intelligence and labor. The other is divine and revealed only to those who have prepared themselves well. Until these two sources are united, one cannot be perfect. But to the Mason who truly becomes a Perfect Elu, he will recognize no frontiers in this life. The lessons of this degree teach us to assist, encourage and defend the Brethren; protect the oppressed; relieve want and distress; enlighten the people; serve the common good; be fruitful of all good works.


The 15° or Knight of the East or Sword teaches that it is not possible to keep people in slavery once they know the value of liberty and can decide for themselves how to define it. Likewise, it is not possible to defeat Masonry by attacking it; for we are building the Temple of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the souls of men and nations. The lessons of this degree teach us to rebuild the Masonic temple (figurative, intangible, symbolic) of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the souls of men and of nations.

The 16° or Prince of Jerusalem emphasizes the fact that one must use every means to be beneficial for the society in which one lives. We not only set our own example for our society, but we enlist the aid of our Brothers. Together, Masons are custodians of freedom. Our charge is to leave a noble heritage to those who follow us in this world. We build temples of the Living God in our hearts by following the truths of justice, equity, morality, wisdom, labor, fidelity, and Brotherhood - so that the collective liberties for mankind can be protected. The lessons of this degree teach us to direct and aid those who labor to build the Symbolic Temple, to judge equitably and fairly, to provide aid in a Constitutional manner to fellow members of this degree, keep faith in the practice and beneficence of God, and press forward with hope for the persecuted and the oppressed.

In the 17° or Knight of the East and West, Masonry says only one thing - differences in religions will not matter, and these differences will not hinder people to live together in peace if all people gather sincerely around the belief and concept of the GAOTU. It is sufficient only to keep one's heart pure, to believe in God, and to respect the religious feelings and ideas of others. In this way, people who meet, respect and love one another will not find it difficult to understand that no one is lying, that truth prevails in people's words and deeds. The lessons of this degree teach us to teach the truths that are hidden in allegories and concealed by the Symbols of Freemasonry, that loyalty to God is man’s primary allegiance, and governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall.

The 18° or Knight Rose Croix teaches that, in reality, what causes us to be immortal is affection; is love. Only if one loves, is he conscious that he lives, and that he, therefore, loves life. As Masons, we should practice virtue that it may produce fruit. We should have faith in God, mankind and ourselves. And we should be loving men. Masonry teaches that, so long as a man is loved, so long as he is remembered with love; he continues living in this way even in his grave. And a brother who conveys this image and this message. The lessons of this degree teach us to practice virtue that it may produce fruit, labor to eliminate vice and purify humanity and be tolerant of the faith and creed of others.


In the 19° or Grand Pontiff, the great lesson is that life, when properly, is but a bridge to eternal life. Once the secret of life after death is known, a man understands that there is no time but eternity. Therefore, calamities which happen are temporary and will not continue. We are not taken down by calamities, but remain strong to fight against oppression and ignorance; we have passed from the Alpha to the Omega, have learned all the letters of the alphabet and understand that Alpha comes after Omega, that life is renewed. There is no end to learning and science. The lessons of this degree teach Be content to labor for the future. Serve the cause of truth with patience and industry. Destroy error, falsehood, and intolerance with truth, honesty, honor, and charity.

The 20° or Master of the Symbolic Lodge teaches that a Mason who knows that he does not possess the qualities of leadership, and who has not duly prepared himself to be a leader, should not want to be one. Notwithstanding, every Mason should endeavor to educate himself, bearing in mind that one day he may be asked to lead. Because he is of his community, it expects him to dispense light and knowledge; to practice the virtues both in and out of the lodge. The lessons of this degree teach Dispense light and knowledge. Practice the Masonic virtues both in and out of the Lodge.

In the 21° or Noachite, or Prussian Knight, the principal lesson is to not be conceited or belittle others. Nobody should rely on his wealth, nobility, heavenly or worldly titles. We should be humble and modest and sincerely seek God's mercy; for God protects those who are sincere and honest. A Mason should never lose hope and confidence in the fact that correctness and honesty will always be victorious. The lessons of this degree teach Be humble and modest, trusting in God. Be steadfast and courageous in the face of adversity.

In the 22° or Prince of Libanus, work is the mission of man. We should respect our labor for its own sake, and do our work. Manual and mental work complete one another; thus, one who works in either manual or mental labor should not try to exploit, or oppress the other. A Mason must be a person who makes no distinction between the nature and kind of work in which his brother is engaged. The lessons of this degree teach Respect labor for its own sake and do work.

In the 23° or Chief of the Tabernacle, we are reminded that we owe our knowledge to our faith in a revealed God. Therefore, it is our duty to disseminate this knowledge to all mankind. A Mason who believes in God has a duty to acquire knowledge and disseminate this knowledge to other people so that others are also enlightened. A Mason who is generous with his knowledge knows that he will receive the blessing of God, not by sacrificing living beings, but by destroying superstitions and bringing happiness and prosperity to other people. The lessons of this degree teach Be devoted to the service of God. Constantly endeavor to promote the welfare of man. Act with proper subordination to your superiors (not blind obedience).

The 24° or Prince of the Tabernacle "…is a continuation of the last degree and examines the nature of knowledge. We must be vigilant not to accept corrupted and erroneous echoes of real knowledge. We have to distinguish for ourselves what is the truth; for many do not realize that they are in error when they think they have found the truth. As Masons, we must fight continuously against superstitions, wrong knowledge, false prophets, tyrants, and despots. Our task is to free knowledge from the monopoly of classes, casts, leaders, or priests; and to disseminate it to everyone." The lessons of this degree teach Labor incessantly for the glory of God, the honor of your country and the happiness of your brethren.

The 25° or Knight of the Brazen Serpent teaches the virtue of hospitality. One who shows hospitality to guests is obliged not to differentiate race, nationality or religion from whoever knocks at his door. The nature of Masonry is to heal those who are in distress from moral collapses, psychological crises, diseases by superstitions and ignorance. To save our fellows from these, to break the chains which represent moral slavery, to set men free, to be faithful and kind in every respect is the compulsory thing to do. We fulfill our destiny by re-creating ourselves, by enlarging our knowledge. The lessons of this degree teach Fulfill your destiny and re-create yourself by reformation, repentance and enlarging your knowledge.

In the 26° or Prince of Mercy, Masons are to respect all beliefs that do not dirty sacredness. Masonry is not a religion, nor do its members belong to one religious order, or any one religion. It embraces the truth of every belief and respects all of them. The truths of Masonry are contained within the religions of the world. Our task is to love all mankind; to be faithful to the agreement between the GAOTU and ourselves - we should trust that we can attain His boundless affection and compassion, the mercy in the degree's title -- that is, we can attain God's love. The lessons of this degree teach Practice mercy (forgiveness). Be tolerant. Be devoted to the teaching and diffusion of the true principles of Masonry.

The 27° or Knight Commander of the Temple teaches the virtues of knighthood and asks its adherents to practice these virtues in life. Virtue requires duty; and both remain the same, regardless of the times. The Knight Commander of the Temple learns that he is the manager of the time, that he himself will decide when he will perform his duty; he does not wait for orders or authorization. He is his own man, and his task is to abolish distress at just the right time. The lessons of this degree teach Be a lover of wisdom. Be faithful to the promises you made within Freemasonry.

The 28° or Knight of the Sun teaches one to be a lover of wisdom. This degree points out seven truths: There exists an indefinable and incomprehensible principle that governs the universe. Human life is but a speck of eternity. Universal equilibrium is a result of a balance between similarities and contrasts. The absolute is the soul in its proper essence. The visible is the invisible. Evil, disaster, and misery are indispensable for universal equilibrium. Similarities are the only keys for comprehending nature. The majority of men fail to realize their errors. Masons are required to take up the arduous struggle against error. the moral code of Masonry is more extensive than that of philosophy. The lessons of this degree teach Be devoted to truth, honor, loyalty, justice, and humanity.

In the 29° or Knight of St. Andrew, the Mason learns that there is no contradiction between religion and science; that religion can be better understood through science and science can be better understood by religion. He who denies science is as fanatical as he who denies religion. Our life is limited in time; thus we must see God within this limited period of our time. Yet, God transcends all time; he is an energy over and beyond time. There is no other energy that creates that energy. There is no end to that energy. Freemasonry is thus the continual effort to exalt the divine in man over the human so that we may come to better understand the nature of God in our time. The lessons of this degree teach Reverence and obey the Deity. Serve the truth. Protect virtue and innocence. Defend the people against tyranny.

The 30° or Knight Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle, is the last of the philosophical degrees. To spread the sciences, to apply the virtues, to learn the sublime doctrines which enable humanity to live as one great family - this is the school of which Masonry is engaged. It is not within the realm of Masonry to punish oppressors and tyrants who enact barriers to brotherly love and affection. They are always punished in the course of history. It is our goal to defeat the passions and fanaticism which led to oppression by spreading love and toleration. The Knight Kadosh is aware of his obligations. He is just, equitable, and respectful of all ideas. He battles for freedom of conscience. He opposes those who would attack these liberties, but material revenge is not in his thoughts and philosophy. He is a lover of the great example. The lessons of this degree teach Labor unceasingly for the good of mankind.


In the 31° or Inspector Inquisitor, the central teaching of this degree is justice. To be free, a Mason must begin by passing judgment on himself. He presents himself for examination. By acting honestly in first giving judgment on himself within the principles of justice and equity, it should not be doubted when he shall do the same to his brothers. The brother who finds mercy in himself, who has not been too lenient towards himself, or punish himself too severely, can also judge his brothers. In so doing, he can be certain that he has not acted contrary to his former obligations. He has freed himself. The lessons of this degree teach us to judge yourself in the same light as you judge others consider both actions and motives.

The 32° or Master of the Royal Secret teaches many lessons, but the mystery concealed is that man is a creature of free will and capable of recreating himself. If he accomplishes this goal, he will attain a genuine power that can shake the limits of science, surpass the problems of this earth, decipher the secrets of space, surpass the limits of ceremony and catechism, and attain genuine enlightenment; a gnosis which is the foundation of all religions. He will also surpass the narrow views of interest in the area of morals and will comprehend a genuine virtue that transcends his own interest. Thus, it will become his nature to help his fellow men, and, in so doing, he will discover the divine light within which brings true freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of culture. The lessons of this degree are that "genuine brotherhood requires mutual regard, opinion, esteem, and charity". We always look for the good in all, make allowances for other's shortcomings. We trust the Supreme Architect to lead us to friendship, morality and brotherly love.

The Scottish Rite confers two honors: the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) and the 33°, Inspector General, upon those 32° Scottish Rite Masons nominated and found deserving. You must be a 32° for around 4-years before you are eligible for the KCCH, and you must be a KCCH for around 4-years before you are eligible for invitation to the 33°. On top of those minimum time limits, you must be 35-years of age for the 33°. It should be noted that the KCCH is not a degree, but an investiture to recognize faithful service and does not confer any more power or authority. The KCCH exists in the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction of the USA, but is not used universally among other Supreme Councils.


York Rite

The York Rite is a branch of Freemasonry. The term York Rite is a misnomer though and should more accurately be called the American Rite as this rite is comprised of degrees and orders uniquely structured in America in comparison to that seen in such places like the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Scotland. The York Rite is composed of three main organizations who each operate with their own hierarchy and enjoy their own autonomy. These three bodies have united in a confederate system to ensure mutual continuation and prosperity. These three bodies are known as the Royal Arch Masonry, Cryptic Masonry, and Knights Templar.

True to all 3-bodies of the York Rite, there is a local body, Grand body, and International body. For the Royal Arch, there is the Chapter, Grand Chapter, and General Grand Chapter. The presiding officer of each of these levels respectively is High Priest, Grand High Priest, and General Grand High Priest. For the Cryptic Masons, there is the Council, Grand Council, and General Grand Council. The presiding officer for each of these levels respectively is Illustrious Master, Most Illustrious Grand Master, and the Most Puissant General Grand Master. For the Knights Templar, there is the Commandery, Grand Commandery, and the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, USA. The presiding officer for each of these levels respectively is: Eminent Commander, Right Eminent Grand Commander, and the Most Eminent Grand Master.

There are 9-degrees and orders that are conferred by these three bodies. The Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry confers the degrees of Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason. The Council of Cryptic Masonry confers the degrees of Royal Master and Select Master. The Commandery of Knights Templar confers the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and Order of the Temple. The Royal Arch and Cryptic degrees enlarge upon the legends and ceremonies of the Blue Lodge and provide answers to many of the questions that a newly Raised Master Mason may have. The Chivalric Orders transition from the story of Craft Masonry to the legendary Christian knighthoods during the Crusades and the virtues they were founded upon.

Royal Arch Masonry

In the Mark Master degree, the candidate is taken back and represents a Fellow Craft during the construction of the Temple whose work is not appreciated at first, but later become the "chief stone" required to complete the Temple as seen in the Most Excellent Master degree. The candidate is instructed on many valuable lessons such as charity and honesty. The candidate is also taught to distinguish his work with a "mark" (an extremely old practice) and how to properly receive his wages which were previously discussed in the Fellow Craft degree. This degree is considered to be the bridge between Operative and Speculative Masonry.

The degree of Past Master is conferred due to the ancient tradition that only Past Masters of the Blue Lodge could be exalted to the degree of Royal Arch Mason. This degree doesn’t confer any rank or title, and for those who have not sat as Master of their Lodge, this degree is considered a “virtual” degree. This degree teaches lessons important to being Worshipful Master particularly those of justice and harmony.

The ceremony of the Most Excellent Master degree is a spectacular and unique degree as it is the only degree which brings to the candidate's attention the completion and the ceremonial dedication of the Temple. This degree emphasizes the importance of reverence. This degree compliments the degrees of Fellow Craft, Mark Master, and Master Mason, and completes the symbolic lessons introduced in each of those degrees in reference to the allegorical reference to building yourself as our operative ancestors built King Solomon's Temple.

Going through the Royal Arch Mason degree you follow the tale of the Jews return from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem and are ascending the summit of the original degrees of Craft Masonry. As a candidate, led by a guide, you return to Jerusalem to find it in ruins, but you are informed that the Jews have been permitted to rebuild the city and the Temple. It is during the rebuilding that True Master Masons Word is discovered as promised in the Master Mason degree. This degree teaches lessons of service, undaunted fortitude, fervency, zeal, and the triumph of Truth over all forms of ignorance and tyranny.

Cryptic Masonry

The degree of Royal Master is split into 2 sections. The first section gives a dramatic understanding of the mindset of our Ancient and Operative Grand Master Hiram Abiff. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful and impressive monologues within Freemasonry. The second section comes to us just after the Tragedy of the Third Degree and demonstrates the great loss felt by the other two Grand Masters of Ancient Craft Masonry. This degree teaches lessons of patience, fortitude, and integrity. This degree compliments a portion of the Royal Arch degree.

The degree of Select Master takes reference from the Secret Vault discovered in the Royal Arch degree and concerns itself with how it was created. The Secret Vault was created by the three Grand Masters and connects the events and myths surrounding the loss and hope of the future discovery of the Master's Word through the deposition of the Grand Master's secrets. The lessons of this degree are devotion, zeal, and overlooking the failings of those who through ignorance or curiosity may often overstep the bounds of propriety. This degree compliments the Royal Arch and Royal Master degrees.

Templar Masonry

A candidate of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross is a transitional degree that bridges Royal Arch Masonry to Chivalric Masonry. The lessons taught to encourage the constant search for Truth and emphasize the importance of Liberty and Justice with a right to worship Deity under whatever name he may be called.

The first Christian order in Masonry is the Order of Malta teaches the history of the Maltese Order as inheritors of the crusading Knights Hospitaller. The preparatory degree emphasizes the need of faith while the lessons of the Order express examples of love, mercy, and the unfearing and faithful martyrdom of Christianity.

The Order of the Temple is one of the most impressive ceremonies in all of Masonry and is the true capstone of the American York Rite. The candidate represents one seeking admittance as a Knights Templar during the Crusades. Many beautiful lessons are given during this ceremony such reminding of us of the mortality of this body, the glorious immortality for those faithful followers, reverence, self-sacrifice, and reminders to Him who suffered upon the Cross are inculcated. Once proven worthy the candidate is admitted a Sir Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple.


Chair Degrees and Invitational Bodies

Stemming from the York Rite are a number of invitational orders and appendant bodies. Here is a brief description of each of them.

The "Chair Degrees" of York Rite masonry, so called as the candidate must be the installed or a past presiding officer of the respective York Rite body. They may also differ somewhat in name or character from one jurisdiction to another.

Order of High Priesthood: A chair degree conferred upon installed or past High Priests. Sometimes referred to as the Anointed Order of High Priesthood. In antiquity, this degree was known as the Order of Melchizedek.

Thrice Illustrious Master: A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Illustrious Masters. It is also known as the Order of the Silver Trowel from the jewel of the degree.

Knight Crusader of the Cross: A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Eminent Commanders.

Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor: All present and Past Commanders of Constituent and Subordinate Commanderies of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America in a jurisdiction where there is not any Chapter of the Order may petition for membership in the Order of Knights Preceptor.

Past Commanders Association: In some jurisdictions, an association for all present and Past Commanders of Constituent and Subordinate Commanderies of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.

The York Rite College is an invitational body dedicated to the assistance and promotion of York Rite Bodies and degree work. The presiding body is a College, and the presiding officer is known as the Pre-Eminent Governor. The body works one main degree, that of Order of Knight of York, and one honorary degree, that of Order of the Purple Cross of York.

The Order of Knight Masons is an invitational body originally sponsored by the Knight Masons of Ireland. It is also known as the "Green Degrees." In England, the parts of the degrees are worked as part of the Order of Allied Masonic Degrees under the title of the Red Cross of Babylon. Membership once required affiliation with the Knights Templar in Ireland, but only with the Royal Arch in the USA. The presiding body is a Council, and the presiding officer is known as the Excellent Chief.

The Knights of the York Cross of Honor (KYCH) is an invitational body composed entirely of York Rite Masonic leaders. Members must be a Past Master of a Symbolic Lodge, a Past High Priest of a Royal Arch Chapter, a Past Master of a Royal and Select Masters Council, and a Past Commander of a Knight Templar Commandery; and nominated by a KYCH. A past Grand presiding officer receives the title of Knight of the York Grand Cross of Honor (KYGCH) if he serves or had served in such a capacity after becoming a KYCH. Membership is unlimited in the presiding body. The presiding body is a Priory, and the presiding officer is known as the Eminent Prior.

The Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon is an invitational body composed of York Rite Masons selected for their contributions and dedication to the Masonic bodies and orders. Membership requires affiliation with the Knights Templar. The modern Order commemoratives an early body of English Knights Templar founded during the 3rd Crusade. Membership is unlimited in the presiding body. The presiding body is a Chapel, and the presiding officer is a Worthy Master.

The Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD) is an invitational body dedicated to the preservation and exemplification of Masonic side degrees of antiquity. Membership requires affiliation with the Royal Arch and is limited to 27 members per presiding body. The presiding body is a Council, and the presiding officer is a Sovereign Master.

The Red Cross of Constantine is an invitational body composed of highly dedicated and long-serving York Rite Masons. Membership requires affiliation with the Royal Arch, and belief in the Trinitarian Christian faith. Membership is limited to 45 members per presiding body. The presiding body is a Conclave, and the presiding officer is a Puissant Sovereign. This order is considered one of the most prestigious in all of Freemasonry.

The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest (HRAKTP) is an invitational body composed of highly dedicated and long-serving York Rite Masons. Membership requires affiliation with the Knights Templar, and members must be Past Eminent Commanders of a Knight Templar Commandery. Originally, this body conferred 33 degrees, but now only one is conferred. Membership is limited to 33 members per presiding body. The presiding body is a Tabernacle, and the presiding officer is known as Very Eminent Preceptor.

The Rectified Scottish Rite, or Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte (Knights Beneficent of the Holy City), is one of the oldest chivalric orders in Freemasonry that has had a continuous existence from its beginning in the 18th century. It has similarities to the Swedish Rite as both evolved from the Rite of Strict Observance, however, the Rectified Scottish Rite has influences from French Freemasonry and Ordre des Chevaliers Macons Elus-Cohen de l'Univers (a precursor to Martinism). It is composed of eight degrees with the first 3-degrees being conferred in the Blue Lodge. The governing body is usually referred to a Great Priory.

The Royal Order of Scotland is an invitational body composed of highly dedicated and long-serving Scottish Rite Masons. While allied with and considered a Scottish Rite Degree in the United States, this Order was once under the jurisdiction of the York Rite, being controlled by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and as a result of this former disposition, it is also open to Knights Templar by waiver of the Provincial Grand Master. Membership requires affiliation with the Scottish Rite (32º) and a Trinitarian Christian, or a Knight Templar; and the recommendation of a member. This is the only Masonic body that is considered to be an authentic Royal Order. The Degree of Knight of the Rosy Cross is believed to contain remnants of the original investiture ceremony of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, the Royal Scottish Dynastic Order. The Masonic body is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In the United States of America, the body operates as a Provincial Grand Lodge, and the presiding officer is a Provincial Grand Master. It is unlimited in membership.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

RIP Dad

Last December my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Renal Cancer. Over the last 8.5-months, he has been going through drug treatments to fight this devastating disease. Well, it is with a heavy heart that I report that my father passed away Friday night surrounded by his wife, his parents, his younger sister, and his kids.

To everyone who contributed to his GoFundMe, who helped my parents with their house, or helped in any other way, I thank you with all of my heart. Many thanks to the People of the City of Emmett who gave my family and father so much support through charitable donations, recognition awards, and a fundraiser

Dad, I'm so glad you are no longer in pain, but I'm going to miss you until my dying day. Since you were diagnosed it has been a rough road and these last days were particularly hard. You fought so hard. Requiescat in Pace. You leave behind an indelible legacy through your kids and grandkids as well as your selfless service as an Army soldier, a sheriff's deputy, a city cop, a bailiff, and the Gem County Rod & Gun Club. My aunt Kim made a point that everyone grieves in different ways. To me, he was a father, a friend, a hunting buddy, a mentor, and a support. To others, he was a son, a brother, a husband, a cousin, a nephew, grandfather, an uncle, or, to some, the arresting officer.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Knight of the Holy Land

While at the 67th Triennial of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, I enjoyed meeting knights from all over the world. One of the Grand Encampment's charities is the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. This foundation is funded primarily by local Commanderies, but some Grand Commanderies have formed an endowment fund. One example is the Grand Commandery of Oklahoma who created the Holy Land Pilgrimage Endowment.

According to the Grand Commandery of Oklahoma: 
At the 2015 session of this Grand Commandery, a permanent Holy Land Pilgrimage Endowment was authorized to be established as a separate, segregated account within the Grand Commandery of Oklahoma. The purpose was to create an investment pool of funds whose earnings would be used solely for the benefit of the Oklahoma Holy Land Pilgrimage program. The fund was established, and contributions received
This fund helps pay the expenses of sending a Minister to the Holy Land under the sponsorship of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. By 2017, they had 22 Sir Knights who had donated to this fund. Those who have contributed at least $1,000 to the fund are entitled to wear a jewel (see pic) as well as receiving a plaque and lapel pin. I think this is a fantastic idea and will be striving to bring this to the Grand Commandery of Idaho.



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tarot Card of the Month: The Hermit

The Tarot card for this month is The Hermit. The Hermit can also be referred to as the Monk, Time, Sage, Cronus, or the Shaman. The Hermit is the 9th of the Major Arcana in Tarot. The Hermit symbolizes the planet Mercury, the element Earth, the zodiacal sign of Virgo, and the angel Metatron.

The Hermit represents meditation, introspection, wisdom, awareness, solitude, illumination, and spiritual enlightenment. The Hermit is a spiritual trailblazer of the highest order; that he has attained a higher level of spiritual knowledge and that he is ready to share his knowledge with those seeking it. When drawn, this Tarot card indicates that you have a 1need to step back and carefully examine your situation and decisions.

The Hermit reflects that you are engaging in a period of soul searching and honoring the wisdom found within. This Tarot card reminds me of Christ's conversation with the Pharisees when he says, "For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21)

This Tarot card shows an old man with a long white beard, clad in grey robes, standing alone on top of a snow-clad mountain with a lantern in his right hand and a staff in the left. The old man symbolizes wisdom that comes with age. The cloak represents the ability to separate from the world. The mountains symbolize achievement, growth, and accomplishment. The snow represents the heights of spiritual attainment. The star in the lantern is a six-pointed star (sometimes known as Seal of Solomon) represents wisdom and knowledge. While the flame is contained in the lantern, the light shines symbolizing that it is meant to be shared with others and be used to guide us along our path. The staff in his left hand is said to be the Patriarch’s staff, a symbol of the narrow path of initiation and an emblem of power and authority. The Hermit is the 9th of the Major Arcana is associated with Virgo which is herself the epitome of a person at complete fulfillment alone and to themselves, while always pondering perfection.

The Hermit is an archetype described by Carl Jung. This archetype is shown as a wise old man, a philosopher, or a mentor. We've seen this archetype used with figures like Merlin in Arthurian legend, Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series, Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, or even Odin in Norse mythology.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

67th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment

Well, I've spent the last two days at the 67th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America in Indianapolis, IN. I attended along with the Right Eminent Grand Commander, the Eminent Grand Generalissimo, the Eminent Grand Junior Warden, and four Past Grand Commanders.

That evening was the Grand Master's dessert and cocktail reception. It was great to chat with the Sir Knights attending. Monday morning began with the public reception of distinguished guests and the Grand Commanders. Monday evening, the Sir Knights from Idaho had a joint State Dinner with the Sir Knights from Montana and Washington.

I had to cut my time short though as my father's health had deteriorated to a point that necessitated my immediate return to his bedside. Even though I was home, I was informed about the second day of the Triennial. I'd like to congratulate Jeff Nelson on being elected Most Eminent Grand Master, Mike Johnson on being elected Right Eminent Deputy Grand Master, David Kussman on being elected Right Eminent Grand Generalissimo, and Jeff Bolstad on being elected Right Eminent Grand Captain General. I hate to lose him as Department Commander, but he will do a fantastic job as Grand Captain General. Sir Knight Ben Williams of Colorado has been chosen to serve as the Northwest Department Commander. I look forward to this Triennium and I am honored to have been appointed to the Committee on Social Media.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018 Rocky Mountain SRICF Regional Conference

Well, I spent today in Salt Lake City at the first Rocky Mountain Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) Regional Conference. This conference is the brainchild of Frater Jason Mitchell, IX°, Chief Adept of Utah College, and Kim Bowman VII°, Secretary of Montana College. There were Fratres from Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona in attendance. I was the only Frater from Idaho in attendance, but today there are a lot of Masonic activities happening in Idaho and around the country.

The morning started with a welcome by the Utah Chief Adept then had each Frater introduce themselves. The Chief Adept of Utah then led a presentation on the Four Ancients titled "The Astrological, Kabbalistic, and Alchemical Associations of the Ancients." I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation as it pertains to one of the research papers I am presently working on. This presentation and subsequent open discussion led us to lunch.

After lunch, the Fratres talked about the various elements of the College and how each one operates within the region. The Fratres also talked about their thoughts and wishes for SRICF, how the Colleges of the Rocky Mountain Region can support each other. This conference was great in my books because it gave me some great ideas to take back to my Fratres in Idaho. I look forward to next year's conference.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Words & Phrases: Adept

The next article in the Words & Phrases series is on the word "Adept." While it is not employed heavily in Freemasonry, "Adept" is defined as someone who is "an expert or attained a specific level of knowledge, skill, or aptitude in doctrines relevant to a particular subject or organization." For Western esotericism, the word "adept" is used to describe someone who is an expert in the science of alchemy and, later, in occultism. I chose to include "Adept" with Words & Phrases series rather than Station & Places as "Adept" is used primarily in the naming of degrees rather than with any office.

The word "adept" is etymologically rooted in the Latin word "adeptus," meaning "having attained, obtained, or achieved," an adjective used by medieval alchemists. Adepts were historically seen as caretakers of ancient occult knowledge (such as the transmutation of metals) which seems a necessary explanation why such initiatic and occultic orders would use this name in reference to degree name or officer titles such as with the Chief Adept in the Masonic Rosicrucian Societies. An Adept tries not only to become a master of knowledge, but strives to master himself. An Adept is one who is governed by reason and logic, rather than being unduly swayed by their emotions.

There are a variety of groups that use Adept in the names of their degrees such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Rosæ Rubeæ et Aureæ Crucis (The Ruby Rose and Golden Cross), A.A. (look up group), the Temple of Set, Illuminates of Thanateros, and the Masonic Rosicrucian Societies (SRICF, SRIA, SRIC, SRIS, SRIR, and SRIL).

The Masonic Rosicrucian Society is composed of 9-grades that are divided into 3-orders. The Second Order is known as the Teaching Order or Teaching Grades. It is composed 3-grades: V° - Adeptus Minor, VI° - Adeptus Major, and VII° - Adeptus Exemptus. An Adept is one who is obligated to be a teacher and instruct those worthy aspirants in the knowledge of the order. In the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, the 28º is called "Knight of the Sun" or "Prince Adept." The lessons of this degree teach one to be devoted to truth, honor, loyalty, justice, and humanity. 

References

1. Adept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: https://www.etymonline.com/word/adept 

2. Adept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adept 

3. Adept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adept 

4. Adept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Paranormal Encyclopedia: https://www.paranormal-encyclopedia.com/a/adept/ 

5. Adept. (n.d.). Retrieved from Eternity of Spirit: http://www.eternityofspirit.com/adept-what-does-it-mean/ 

6. Aene, F. (2010, January 24). What Makes An Adept? Retrieved from A Golden Dawn Magician's Thoughts: https://frateraene.wordpress.com/tag/what-is-an-adept/ 

7. Bedard, M. (2014, August 17). Adept. Retrieved from Gnostic Warrior: https://gnosticwarrior.com/adept.html 

8. Brodeur, C. (n.d.). Path of the Adept. Retrieved from Advances in Consciousness: http://zenol.tripod.com/adept.html

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Mason Marks

By Author Unknown


They're traced in lines on the Parthenon, 
Inscribed by the subtle Greek 
And Roman legions have carved them on 
Walls, roads and arch antique 
Long ere the Goth, with vandal hand, 
Gave scope to his envy dark, 
The Mason craft in many a land 
Has graven its Mason mark.

The obelisk old and the pyramids, 
Around which a mystery clings,- 
The Hieroglyphs on the coffin lids 
Of weird Egyptian kings,

Syria, Carthage and Pompeii, 
Buried and strewn and stark, 
Have marble records that will not die, 
Their primitive Mason mark.

Upon column and frieze and capital, 
In the eye of the chaste volute,- 
On Scotia's curve, or an astrogal, 
Or in triglyp's channel acute,- 
Cut somewhere on the entablature, 
And oft, like a sudden spark, 
Flashing a light on a date obscure, 
Shines many a Mason mark.

These craftsmen old had a genial whim, 
That nothing could ever destroy, 
With a love of their art that naught could dim, 
They toiled with a chronic joy 
Nothing was too complex to essay, 
In aught they dashed to embark 
They triumphed on many an Appian Way, 
Where they'd left their Mason mark.

Crossing the Alps like Hannibal, 
Or skirting the Pyranees, 
On peak and plain, in crypt and cell, 
On foot or on bandaged knees- 
From Tiber to Danube, from Rhine to Seine, 
They needed no letters of marque- 
Their art was their passport in France and Spain, 
And in Britain their Mason mark.

The monolith gray and Druid chair, 
The pillars and towers of Gael, 
In Ogharn occult their age they bear, 
That time can only reveal. 
Live on, old monuments of the past, 
Our beacons through ages dark! 
In primal majesty still you'll last, 
Endeared by each Mason mark.