Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daughters of the Nile

One of the women's auxiliary groups tied to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (often referred to as Shriners International) is the Daughters of the Nile; the other is the Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America. The Daughters of the Nile is a fraternal organization found throughout the United States of America and Canada.

The Daughters of the Nile is open to women who are 18-years of age or older, and who are related by birth or marriage to a Shriner, Master Mason, or Daughter of the Nile, is a majority member of a Masonic youth group for girls such as the Rainbow Girls or Job's Daughters, or who was a patient at a Shriners Hospital for Children®. 

The Daughters of the Nile was founded in 1913 in Seattle, WA. In late 1905, the Afifi Shrine (Tacoma, WA) formed a women's auxiliary called the Daughters of Isis, but this group only lasted until 1908 when it was disbanded by decree of the Imperial Potentate. In the same year the Daughters of Isis was founded, Shriners in Seattle formed Nile Temple. Many Shriners of Nile Temple had belonged to Afifi Shrine and their wives formed the Isis Club, but had disbanded in December of 1912. Under the direction of Mabel R. Krows, 12 ladies (all wives of Shriners) came together on February 20, 1913, to discuss forming a club similar to Zuhrah's Ladies in Minnesota. They formed the "Ladies of the Nile" with Mabel R. Krows elected as their President. As no record of the ritual of the Daughters of Isis had been kept the Ladies of the Nile sought out Charles F. Whaley to write them a new ritual which was completed by August of 1913. This club continued to meet over the next several months approving the rituals written for them, the Constitution and By-Laws, paraphernalia, and all pertinent matters. Starting on September 18, 1913, Mabel R. Krows started giving the obligation to the members. 

On October 16, 1913, they changed their name officially to Daughters of the Nile as Noble Whaley referred to the ladies as "My Daughters" and "Nile" as this new order pertained to Egypt. The order started to spread and each Temple has a name and a number according to when they were constituted. The first Temple is Hatasu Temple #1 in Seattle, WA; Hatasu was the first known Egyptian Queen in ancient Egyptian history. It became apparent that a governing body was needed and it was decided that the members of the original Ladies of the Nile were to become Founders of Daughters of the Nile, forming the Supreme Temple of the Daughters of the Nile. They decided to allow all Queens, Past Queens, and Princess Royals as members of the Supreme Temple. On November 21, 1913, they elected Levelia K. West as the first Supreme Queen and the rest of the Supreme officers. Today the order has spread and there are roughly 30,000 members in 144 cities.

The philanthropy of this group is the same as Shriners International, the Shriners Hospitals for Children® through the use of two permanent endowment funds: The Daughters of the Nile Foundation and the Canadian Trust, to which the Daughters of the Nile contributes over $2-million a year. In addition, they also sew clothing and quilts as well as provide toys, books, games and other educational/recreational items for the children’s use.

The Daughters meet in Temples and fall under the governance of a Supreme Temple. The Temple is composed of the following officers:
Princess Royal
Princess Tirzah
Princess Badoura
Princess Recorder
Princess Banker 
Princess Marshall
Princess Chaplain
Lady of the Keys
Lady of the Gates
Princess Nydia
Princess Zulieka
Princess Zenobia
Princess Zora
Princess Zuliema
Princess Musician
The Supreme Temple is composed of the same officers with the honorary title of "Supreme" attached to the officer title. The Daughters of the Nile are known for wearing a distinctive tiara for special events and ceremonies. To find a Temple near you please visit the Supreme Temple website:


1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Nydia Temple No.14:

2. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary:

3. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Amara Shriners:

4. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Arlington Lodge No.438:

5. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Freemason Information:

6. Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sphinx Shriners:

7. Krows, M. R. (1951). My Memoirs of Daughters of the Nile.

8. Ladies Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from Shriners International:

9. Lotus Temple No.7. (n.d.). Retrieved from Duluth Masonic Center:

10. Shriners. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

11. Who are the Daughters of the Nile. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Temple of the Daughters of the Nile:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Masonic Week 2017

The 2017 Masonic Week schedule has been published. The 2017 Masonic Week will be from February 9th to February 12th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crystal City, and includes the following groups: the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, Masonic Order of Athelstan, Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers, Order of Knight Masons, Society of Blue Friars, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest, Allied Masonic Degrees, The Royal Order Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord of the United States of America, The Masonic Society, Rectified Scottish Rite (CBCS), Ye Antiente Order of Corks, Grand College of Rites, the Philalethes Society, Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor, Masonic Order of the Bath, and the Operatives.

Thursday, February 9th, 2017
7:30 AM - Trinity Chapel #2, St. Thomas of Acon (Members Only, Tunic, Mantle, Cap and Belt required for admission) 
10:00 AM - Grand Council of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA (Members Only, Tunic, Mantle, Cap and Belt required for admission) 
12:00 Festive Board (Acon Members and the Ladies only) 
1:30 PM - Potomac Court #107 of the Order of Athelstan, Province of USA 
3:00 PM - Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan
4:45 PM - Grand Council of the Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers
6:30 PM - Social Hour 
7:00 PM - Banquet of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan (Members Only) 
9:00 PM - Allied Masonic Degrees Ceremonies of Installation Installed Sovereign Master
Friday, February 10th, 2017
7:00 AM - Breakfast sponsored by Convent General KYCH
8:00 AM - Grand Council Knight Masons, USA
9:00 AM - Ladies Breakfast 
11:00 AM - Society of Blue Friars
12:00 PM - Luncheon sponsored by Knight Masons
1:15 PM - Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest, Grand College of America
3:30 PM - Royal Order Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord of the United States of America (first three grades)
6:30 PM - The Masonic Society (All Masons and ladies are welcome) 
6:30 PM - The Great Priory of America (CBCS) 
9:00 PM - Ye Antiente Order of Corks
Saturday, February 11th, 2017
7:00 AM - Breakfast sponsored by York Rite Sovereign College
8:00 AM - Grand College of Rites of the USA
9:30 AM - Nine Muses Council #13 (All AMD Members Welcome)
10:30 AM - Allied Masonic Degrees
12:00 - Luncheon sponsored by The Philalethes Society 
1:30 PM - Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America and the Grand Conclave of the Secret Monitor 
2:00 PM - Ladies Afternoon Tea 
4:45 PM - Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor 
6:00 PM - Social Hour 
7:00 PM - All Masonic Banquet
9:00 PM - Masonic Order of the Bath
Sunday, February 12th, 2017
08:30 AM - Washington Monument Assemblage of the Operatives (Open to all members I° to VII°)
09:00 AM - Lodge of Menatzchim V° (Open to members of the V°, VI° & VII° only) 
10:30 AM - Lodge of Harodim VI° (Open to members of the VI° & VII° only) 
12:30 PM - Operatives Brunch

Saturday, October 8, 2016


It has been one long weekend that took me to Montana and back home in 37-hours. The purpose of this trip was to visit the Montana College, Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, and initiate several new members into the Society. 

The first leg of my trip took me to Twin Falls where I jumped in another Brother's vehicle and then drove all the way to Billings. Then the next morning I took part in the first official meeting of the Montana College. I along with other members from Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho initiated a group that will serve as the founding officers of the Montana College. I had the pleasure of serving as Celebrant (the presiding officer) for the grade of Zelator (I°) and assisting in the other 3-grades. Then after some lunch, it was time to head back home.

The total trip was 1264-miles (2034.2-km) and over 18-hours of actual driving. The drive was beautiful though as Autumn in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana always provides a spectacular show by Mother Nature. Now it's nearing midnight and I'm exhausted, so time for bed.

The Cornerstone

By R J McLaughlin

We have laid the stone all truly with a craftsman’s care
We have tested it and tried it by the level, plumb and square
We have made a firm foundation for our children’s children toil
And empty poured the vessels of their corn and wine and oil

What further is remaining save stone on stone to rear
That soon the finished building in its glory, shall appear?
What more to do than giving to this pile its latest touch
And a Voice that stirs the stillness makes this answer, “There is much.”

“There is work to do my brothers, wrought of neither stone nor steel
And never dome nor tower can its majesty reveal,
For this the nobler labour, ere his toil can make it whole
Must be preformed in darkness in the master craftsman’s soul.”

“There are works of loving kindness and of charity and good
And a structure to be builded with the stones of brotherhood
For this mighty temple fabric is an empty, mocking shell
Unless within there be built a shrine of souls as well.

Take heed then master craftsmen, when this temple shall arise
With its brave and gleaming towers pointing grandly to the skies
Let yourselves compose the structure, let yourselves the temple be
That shall stand in great proportions until all eternity.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine is more commonly known as the Shriners and is a fraternity "based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth." The Shriners are known for their red fezzes, participation in parades, and support of the Shriners Hospitals for Children®. The Shrine has been described as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness and jollity without coarseness." As of 2000, in order to join the Shrine, one must be a Master Mason in good standing. Previously one needed to be in either the York Rite or Scottish Rite to join the Shrine.

The history of the Shriners goes back to New York City and four men: Dr. Walter M. Fleming, William J. Florence, Charles T. McClenachan and William S. Paterson. Dr. Fleming conceived the idea to start a fun fraternal order for Scottish Rite or York Rite Masons (though in 2000 those requirements were dropped). Fleming first made the proposal to Florence, who would be key in the founding rituals of the Shrine, before approaching the other two. The idea for an Arabic themed group came from Florence who had attended a party of an Arabian diplomat while in France. They gathered up support with 13 Masons interested in forming this new group and on September 26, 1872, they officially formed the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America. The first Temple was named Mecca and Dr. Fleming was named as its first Potentate. The spread of this new order was slow and after 4-years there was only 43-Nobles. It was with the formation of the Imperial Grand Council, a national governing body, that caused the Shriners to prosper. The Imperial Grand Council was formed on # #, #, in New York City, with Dr. Fleming named as the first Imperial Grand Potentate. Please note that in 1886, the Imperial Grand Council met in Cleveland, OH, where it was decided to drop the word "Grand." The first meeting was brief, but established its headquarters, or Grand Orient, in New York City; appointed officers and honorary members of the Imperial Grand Council; established committees; established fees for chartering new Temples, per capita assessment, and for initiation; established the membership requirements of the Shrine; and chartered four new Temples throughout New England. Over the next couple of years, the Shriners started to expand, but would experience momentous growth starting in the late 1880s, spreading to the Midwest United States and into Canada. Up to this point the Shrine had no single, unified philanthropy; Shriner Temples each generously supported local and national charities. In 1919, Noble W. Freeland Kendrick proposed the idea of a philanthropy that focused on children and at the 1920 Imperial Council meeting he made a motion to “establish a Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children.” Noble Kendrick became known as the "Father of the Hospital System." Like all of Freemasonry, the Shrine enjoyed years of large growth following World War II as soldiers looked to continue the camaraderie they experienced in the military. Today there are around 200 Temples all over the world with thousands of clubs, hundreds of thousands of members, and 22 Children's Hospitals across North America, South America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

The basic unit of the Shrine is the Temple. Every Temple has a clearly defined geographical territory which are often very large (my Temple covers the bottom half of the State of Idaho). Smaller units and clubs may be formed to assist the Temple in keeping fellowship with Nobles that may live great distances from the Temple. Clubs and units can take the form of bands, motorcycle units, clown units, drama clubs, parade units, standard guards, cooking clubs, tech clubs, and so on. Members of the Shriners are referred to as "Nobles." Temples are ran by an elected group of offices known as the Divan which is composed of the following officers:
Chief Rabban
Assistant Rabban
High Priest and Prophet
Oriental Guide
Assistant Director
1st Ceremonial Master
2nd Ceremonial Master
Captain of the Guard 
Outer Guard(s)
The Imperial Divan (formerly known as the Imperial Council) is the international governing body of Shriners International. The Imperial Divan is composed of similarly named officers, but with the addition of the honorary title "Imperial" attached to the position. The Imperial Potentate serves as the presiding officer and as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Children's Hospitals.

The most noticeable icon of the Shrine is the distinctive red fez that all Shriners wear. The red fez is decorated with the black tassel, the name of the Temple, and the crescent & scimitar, sphinx head, and star. Its name derives from the place where it was first manufactured, Fez, Morocco. The fez was selected as a part of the Arabic theme of the Shrine. The scimitar is emblematic of the members, the backbone of the fraternity. The crescent is emblematic of the fraternity and philanthropy of the Shrine. The sphinx stands for the Imperial Divan, the governing body of the Shriners. The star is emblematic of the children helped by the Children's Hospitals. Sometimes attached to the emblem of the Shrine is the motto "Robur et Furor" meaning "Strength and Fury."

As stated above, it was by the effort of Noble Kendrick that the Shriner's Hospital were established. He was inspired after a visited a Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta, GA. He campaigned heavily for the establishment of an official Shriner philanthropy during his tenure as Imperial Potentate. Once the resolution to establish the Shriner's Hospital for Children® had passed, a committee was selected to determine the site of the hospital, but it was soon concluded that one hospital would not work and that a network of hospitals was needed throughout North America. By June of 1922, the cornerstone was laid for the first Shriner's Hospital for Children® in Shreveport, LA. As more hospitals were built across North America, the philanthropy expanded the mission to include medical research and education of medical personnel. Today the Shriner's Hospitals conduct research in every area of care, including orthopedic disorders, burns, spinal cord injury treatment, and cleft lip and palate; the Shriner's Hospitals are particularly known for treatment of burns and orthopedic care. The Shriner's Hospitals have become well known for their burn research and many of the standard practices used in burn centers across the US originated in the Shriner's Hospitals. The Shriner's Hospitals are institutions in such high regard that nearly every pediatric orthopedic specialist in the US does a rotation at a Shriner's Hospital. Through this charity around one million children have been treated at one of the 22-hospitals in the United States, Canada, or Mexico.


1. History of the A.A.O.N.M.S. (n.d.). Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry:

2. History of the Imperial Council Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America. (1921). Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry:

3. How The Organization Works. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cairo Shriners:

4. Join Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Medinah Shriners:

5. Shriners. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

6. Shriners Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ararat Shrine:

7. Shriners International – Shrine – A. A. O. N. M. S. (2010). Retrieved from Freemason Information:

8. What is a Shrine Mason? (n.d.). Retrieved from Aleppo Shriners:

9. Who are the Shriners? (n.d.). Retrieved from Shriners International:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Station and Places: Cellarer

This past summer I was appointed as one of the Provincial Grand Cellarer for the Northwest Province of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, USA. The office of Cellarer is a peculiar one in Freemasonry and at each level (local, Provinicial Grand, and Grand) is limited to six in number. The duty of the Cellarer is simple, to fill in for an officer of the Chapel when that officer is absent. This position is significant because the Knight appointed to this position should be knowledgeable of all the various officer positions of the Chapel. The term "cellarer" seems to have been selected as a tie back to our historical roots as the original Order started out as a monastic order.

Outside of Freemasonry, a Cellarer is an official in a monastery who is responsible for the provisioning of food and drink. It seems like a simple job, but research shows that this person's duties required a lot of attention and care. The monastic life requires one to live by a set of strict rules, one of which concerns a particular diet. The Cellarer would be in charge of enforcing this part of the monastic rule along with other logistical duties. While not equal to the abbot of a monastery, the Cellarer is considered an important position, and in many religious communities the Cellarer sits on the Council of Deans along with the abbot. It is said that while the abbot is concerned with the spiritual aspects of monastic life, the Cellarer was in charge of the physical aspect. The Cellarer should be a model of moderation, temperance, patience, and charity.


1. Cellarer. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: 

2. Constitution of the Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon, USA: 

3. Peterburs, W. (n.d.). Stewardship: the cellarer of the monastery. Retrieved from Ampleforth Abbey: 

4. Qualifications of the Monastery Cellarer. (n.d.). Retrieved from Monastery of Christ in the Desert:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Symbolism of the Blue Lodge: Entered Apprentice

This will be the first in a three part series concerning the lectures and tracing board of each of the three degrees of the Blue Lodge. For the Entered Apprentice degree I will be pulling from the third section of the Lecture (Idaho work) and from the tracing board (trestleboard) of this degree. In this paper I will specifically be looking form, supports, covering, furniture, ornaments, lights, jewels, situation, and dedication of the Lodge.

The Form of the Lodge is oblong and is said to represent the universality of Freemasonry. This taken with tenet Brotherly Love which states that Freemasonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, the Lodge should be seen as a microcosm of the world.

Every Masonic Lodge is said to be supported by three great pillars known as Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. Pillars have been used throughout history for commemorative, symbolic, and architectural reasons. One of the most notable examples of commemoration is with the ancient Egyptians who are famous for recording their history and legends upon their structures to include their pillars of stone. The kings of ancient Egypt were known for recording their conquests, accomplishments, and their magnificence on pillars and/or obelisks. They did this to follow the example of Osiris who was said to do this practice There are also several references within the Bible to use of pillars: 
According to 19th century sources, Hiram King of Tyre, upon the forming of his grand junction between Eurichorus and Tyre, dedicated a pillar to Jupiter in commemoration of the event.

Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, erected two pillars, one of brass to resist water and the other of stone to resist fire upon which he inscribed information calculated to preserve his knowledge to posterity in the case of the destruction of the world. Jacob erected a Pillar at Galeed to commemorate his treaty with his uncle, Laban. Joshua raised a pillar at Gilgal to perpetuate the fact of the miraculous passage of the River Jordan. Absalom, the third son of King David, erected a pillar in honor of himself. 

These three pillars are also just one example of the use of the number three throughout Freemasonry: three degrees of Craft Masonry three lesser lights, three great lights, three principle officers, three principle tenets, three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity). It is curious to note that the use of three is used in a variety of religions and ancient mysteries. In ancient Egypt, the triad consisted of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. For the Hindus, practitioners revere Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as their divine triad. In the Grecian Mysteries the triad was Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Vikings considered Odin, Frigga, and Thor to be their Trinity. And the list goes on with Central and South American, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Phoenicians religions.

The story of Jacob and his ladder is taken from the 28th chapter of the Book of Genesis. How and when it was introduced to speculative Freemasonry is not exactly known; find some records at the end of the 18th century referring to it. Some in Freemasonry have argued that the ladder was composed of seven rungs representing the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. In the Zohar, a founding piece of literature of the Kabbalistic tradition, states that the ladder was composed of 72 rungs to represent the 72 angels involved with the Sephiroth and the hidden name of God. In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, there are said to be hidden names of God, or Shemhamphorasch, that were past from high priest to high priest, starting with Moses. It should be noted that the Shemhamphorasch is used to describe various numbered sequences of Hebrew letters to describe the hidden name of God. The Shemhamphorasch can be composed of either 4, 12, 22, 42, or 72 letters; the latter version being the most common as well as the four letter (known as the Tetragrammaton). These hidden names were not names like Brian, James, or Josh but rather 72 sequences composed of Hebrew letters that have the extraordinary power to overcome the laws of nature in all forms, including human nature. Kabbalist and occultist legends state that the 72-fold name was used by Moses to cross the Red Sea, and that it can grant later holy men the power to control demons, heal the sick, prevent natural disasters, and even kill enemies. 

Kabbalistic teaching informs us that there are 72 angels who are inhabitants of ten sephiroth, with twenty-two paths interconnecting them; this is the Tree of Life. These Angels are what is often refer to as the Guardians Angels, or Teaching Angels, who we can invoke, pray or appeal to, and who will carry our messages and pleas to God. 72 is significant in a variety of beliefs. There were 72 warriors on the Muslim side at the Battle of Badr, an important battle during Mohammed’s conquest of the Arabian peninsula. There were 72 people martyred along with Imam Hussain, grandson of Mohammed, at the Battle of Karbala. There were 72 disciples of Confucius. The Egyptian god Osiris was enclosed in a sarcophagus by 72 evil disciples and accomplices of Set. 

The Great Lights are the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and the Compasses. The Volume of the Sacred Law is the will of one’s God communicated to man through inspired or divine writings, and serves as a symbol of man’s acknowledgment of his relation to his Creator. The Grand Lodges of the United States use the Holy Bible as the Volume of the Sacred Law on their Altars (as with anything there are exceptions with some Lodges). In other countries, Lodges use other sacred texts are placed on the Altar in place of the Holy Bible. The Square is a symbol of morality, truthfulness and honesty. To “act on the square” is to act honestly. The Square signifies the physical and material life. It is an instrument of architecture that has been used throughout the ages, and our ancient Brethren who wrought in Operative Masonry could not have erected the edifices such as King Solomon's Temple without the use of this instrument. The Compasses signifies the duty which we owe to ourselves. We might also properly regard the Compasses as excluding beyond its circle that which is harmful. The Compasses were employed in operative Masonry for the accurate measurement of the architect’s plans and to enable him to give just proportions which would ensure stability and beauty. The Compasses signify the intellectual, moral, and spiritual life. These symbols taken together demonstrate that human nature is divided into three parts: body, mind, and soul, the Square to the body, the Compasses to the mind, and the Volume of Sacred Law for the soul. I also believe this is also represented by the three degrees of Freemasonry.

The Ornaments of the Lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, Indented Tessel, and Blazing Star. Mosaic work consists properly of many little stones of different colors united together in patterns to imitate a painting. The Masonic tradition is that the floor of the Temple of Solomon was decorated with a mosaic pavement of black and white stones. There is no historical evidence to substantiate this statement. It is thought that our Masonic forefathers chose black and white tiles because of a passage from the Gospel of St. John which states: "When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha." The word here “Pavement” is translated from the original Lithostroton, the very word used by Pliny, a Roman author and philosopher, to denote a mosaic pavement. The reason that it is called “Mosaic pavement” comes from the idea that the work is derived from the fact that Moses used a pavement of colored stones in the tabernacle The mosaic pavement is an old symbol of the Order. It is met with in the earliest Rituals of the eighteenth century. To symbolize duality through the colors of black and white is quite ancient as most cultures see white and black as symbolic of good and evil. It has also been used as a comparison between the physical and spiritual world, male and female, and the sky and the earth. 

With the Indented Tessel is a historical inaccuracy. In reality it is not known whether or not if there was a “tessellated border” that surrounded the pavement in King Solomon’s Temple. Our use of this comes from early Lodges where many symbols and diagrams were drawn upon the floor and then were surrounded by a cord with four tassels, one at each angle; this was the original tracing boards. Eventually the tracing board was changed from a temporary drawing upon the floor to a permanent fixture on a tracing board. These four cords are described as referring to the four perfect points of entry. The belief that there was a tessellated border surrounding the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple came to the US by Thomas Smith-Webb who reformed the American ritual. Early French ritual the cords and indented tessel were intended "to teach the Mason that the society of which he constitutes a part surrounds the earth, and that distance, so far from relaxing the bonds which unite the members to each other, ought to draw them closer." 

The Masonic Blazing Star is an important symbol in Freemasonry and makes an appearance in several degrees. Historically, this symbol wasn’t found in the monitors from around 1717, but by 1735 it is considered a part of the lexicon of Freemasonry. In the lectures credited to Thomas Dunckerley, an 18th century British Mason, and adopted by the Premier Grand Lodge the Blazing Star was said to represent:
“the star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, proclaiming to mankind the nativity of the Son of God, and here conducting our spiritual progress to the Author of our redemption.”
William Preston, another 18th century British Mason belonging to the Antient Grand Lodge, stated that: 
“The Masonic Blazing Star, or glory in the center, reminds us of that awful period when the Almighty delivered the two tables of stone, containing the 10 commandments to His faithful servant, Moses on Mount Sinai, when the rays of His divine glory shone so bright that none could behold it without fear and trembling. It also reminds us of the omnipresence of the Almighty, overshadowing us with His divine love, and dispensing His blessings amongst us; and by its being placed in the center, it further reminds us, that wherever we may be assembled together, God is in the midst of us, seeing our actions, and observing the secret intents and movements of our hearts.” 
From the monitors created by Thomas Smith-Webb, the Blazing Star was said to be commemorative of the star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our Saviour’s nativity. While it seems to hold a very Christian character in these early lectures, this symbol was revised in 1843 by the Baltimore Convention where the symbol retained only the allusion to Divine Providence thereby being applicable to all faiths. 

The Blazing star is not only a Masonic symbol, but an ancient and historic one. From early days, man has always looked to the heavens for guidance. The worship of sun and stars were some of the earliest religious systems used in ancient days. To these early religions, stars was in fact the soul of a hero or god that had once dwelt upon the earth. With this symbol, many draw comparisons to the Dog Star, Sirius. The Dog Star is actually 2 stars called Sirius A and Sirius B. Due to the fact that the Dog Star is 8.6 light years away, without a telescope of the magnitudinal category of the Hubble Telescope, using the naked eye, we see it as one star. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky because it is approximately twice the size of our sun, and as such has caught the attention of man. The Dog Star has a heliacal rising. Heliacal means relating to the sun. A heliacal rising is when the star becomes visible upon the Eastern horizon at dawn, travels through the sky and "sets" in the West, much like our sun. Stars with heliacal rising were important to the ancients as they used them for the timing of agricultural activities. Travelers upon the sea used the stars as a guide, much as we use a map, today. The stars even played a part in the establishing the borders and layout of the District of Columbia

The Lesser Lights are said to represent the sun, the moon and the Master of the Lodge. The sun is a symbol of the masculine, the active, the aggressive; the moon, of the feminine, the receptive, the passive. These two symbols continue the pattern of duality in Freemasonry During the course of initiation, the new Mason is taught the North is a place of darkness. This is explained in the ritual by describing the orientation of King Solomon's Temple and stating the location prevented the rays of the sun at meridian height from entering a north window. This explanation is based upon natural phenomena. However, it is known that diffused light will enter a northerly oriented window. It is curious to note that no other reference is made to the North being a place of darkness in Craft Masonry. It is interesting to see negativity with the north as those in the northern hemisphere seen the polar star by which early navigation was dependent upon. However, there are several mythological accounts on the north being a place of darkness. Even Biblical accounts state the following of the north. Job 37: 9 reads, "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold, out of the north." Among the people of England there existed a desire not to be buried on the north side of a church indicating an aversion to the north. The Graham Manuscript, published in 1726, provides some additional insight. It contains the following questions and answers: 
Q: How stood your lodge at your entering 
A: East west and south 
Q: Why not north also 
A: In regard we dwell at the north part of the world we burie no dead at the north side of our churches so we carry a Vacancey at the north side of our Lodges 
There is another, and perhaps more practical, reason for the north to be considered a place of darkness. Early religious buildings were built in an east-west fashion with the east being the predominant direction. This orientation was desired as the east was considered the source of light and power, related to the sun rising in the east. In creating their work area, the medieval guilds would erect a lodge building erected along side the church under construction. This building was invariably placed on the southern side of the construction to avoid the inclemency of the cold northern winds. As a result, the lodge acquired an east to west orientation and the openings were in the east, south, and west. This exposed the hut or lodge and the workmen to as much east, south, and west light as possible, providing the necessary light to work by for as long as possible. The light was blocked from the north by the adjacent building. As Masonry moved from the operative to the speculative, it was natural that the north would continue to symbolically represent the darkness of the working structures.

The Movable Jewels are the Rough Ashlar, the Perfect Ashlar, and the Trestle-Board. The word ashlar originates with the Latin word “assis” meaning “board or plank”. In early English this became “asheler” and was used to denote a stone in the rough as it came from the quarries. The ashlars are stones which symbolize man's moral and spiritual life and demonstrate the process of initiation. While a rough ashlar is that stone taken from the quarry in an unfinished state, the stone still must be of good quality, without defects or cracks, with the potential to be worked into a perfect ashlar. That is why Masonry accepts only those who come under the tongue of good report without scandalous or immoral backgrounds. An imperfect stone may be made perfect, however major flaws are difficult to overcome and when assembled into a structure, the entire structure can be weakened from its improper use. As he proceeds through his Masonic initiation, he is exposed to many lessons and symbols to expand his intellect and encourage his personal development. In Mark Masonry, we learn that it was by the chisel and mallet that the Rough Ahslars was transformed into the Perfect Ashlar. The chisel demonstrates the advantages of discipline and education. The mind, like the diamond in its original state, is rude and unpolished; but as the effect of the chisel on the external code soon per present’s to view the latent beauties of the diamond, so education discovers the latent virtues of the mind, and draws them forth to range large field of matter in space, to display the summit of human knowledge, our duty to God and to man. The importance of stones is pervasive in religious thought. With Christianity, Christ said "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” In Isaiah 28:16 we read: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” In Psalm 118:22 we find: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Also, in Revelation 2:17 we read: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” References connecting stones with the gods reach back to the earliest times. It has been considered by some religious historians as being an archetypal image representing absolute reality. Many of the old gods, such as Mithras, were thought to be born from stones. Stones possess the qualities of stability, solidity, and everlastingness, which are also qualities attributed to the gods. In Scottish lore, the Stone of Scone, sometimes called the stone of destiny or coronation stone, was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland, and later the monarchs of England and the Kingdom of Great Britain. There are many myths as to the origins of this stone, but the one that interested me most was that this stone is the Stone of Jacob which is the stone he used as a pillow when he had his vision of the ladder ascending to heaven. One of the most famous stones is the Philosopher’s Stone which is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning metals into gold. It is also said to be able to extend one's life and was also called the elixir of life, used for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; for many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal in alchemy. In operative masonry, the trestleboard was as an instrument upon which the ancient masters laid out the plans for building and worked out the problems of architecture. As a symbol it represents the Volume of the Sacred Law, it also denotes perfection.

We are told in the first degree lecture that Moses erected a tabernacle to commemorate the mighty east wind. The tabernacle was not a permanent building, but a tent that was dismantled and erected each time the Jews moved through the Wilderness. Prior to dawn the attendants would go to the chosen site and one of them would place the staff or asherah on the spot. When the sun rose, it would send a shadow towards the western horizon. The second attendant would then place his staff at the other end of the shadow. This line would designate the center line of the tabernacle.

An east wind is a wind that originates in the east and blows west. The east wind is also considered a bad omen and if personified, is considered devious or sinister. Several other references exist in the Bible, most associating the east wind with destruction. Often this destruction is of the wicked by God. In Greek mythology, Eurus, the east wind, was the only wind not associated with any of the three Greek seasons, and is the only one of these four Anemoi not mentioned in Hesiod's Theogony or in the Orphic Hymns. In Native American Iroquois culture, the east wind is said to be brought by the Moose, whose breath blows the grey mist and sends down cold rains upon the earth. Much in the same way, the East Wind symbolizes change in Mary Poppins series. Poppins arrives at the Banks' house carried by the East Wind, but warns the children that she will only stay until the wind changes. At the end of the book, the West Wind carries her away. In "His Last Bow", a book of the Sherlock Holmes series written by Arthur Conan Doyle (a fellow Mason), the book ends with Holmes' addressing his assistant Doctor Watson on the eve of the First World War: 
"There's an east wind coming, Watson."
"I think not, Holmes. It is very warm."
"Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared." 
In The Lord of the Rings, the East Wind, like most other things dealing with the east, is viewed as a thing of evil.

In Freemasonry it is strange that that the Holy Saints John were selected as the Patron Saints of Freemasonry rather than St. Thomas who is considered the Patron Saint of Masonry. Masonic scholars state that these two were selected as St. John the Baptist represented the faith and zeal that should actuate every Mason while the Evangelist represent how our passions and actions should be tempered through reason and knowledge. Take together they represent the path towards enlightenment. In the Ahiman Rezon, the Constitution of the Antients it states, "the stern integrity of Saint John the Baptist, which induced him to forego every minor consideration in discharging the obligations he owed to God; the unshaken firmness with which he met martyrdom rather than betray his duty to his Master; his steady reproval of vice, and continued preaching of repentance and virtue. make him a fit patron of the Masonic institution.“ Bro. Gregory Stewart argued that St. John the Baptist was alchemically represented by the inverted pyramid, the symbol for the Element of Water, which he states represents spiritual and emotional love, as well as reminds us of the Baptism of Jesus Christ which St. John the Baptist presided over. This day and the Holy Saints John also remind us of the Masonic symbol the Point Within the Circle which represents the two saints on either side of a circle representing their place at each of the sun's orbit; two milestones in the astronomical year. This symbol is powerful and much more will be explained in a future article. For the present, it is necessary that this symbol is introduced in the Entered Apprentice degree and Masons are reminded to study astronomy (one of the 7 liberal arts and science) in the Fellow Craft degree. It was through the study of the movement of the heavenly bodies that man was capable of understanding the habits of animals, best farming and harvest practices, even opportune times for warfare, and, finally, the creation of a calendar system.

It is always good to back to the beginning and always honing ones understanding of all degrees of Freemasonry. The First Degree and its symbolism represents entry into Freemasonry, the beginning of ones transformation through the initiatic traditions, and the foundation upon which ones Masonic and moral edifice is erected. Next month I will be analyzing the symbolism of the Fellowcraft degree.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Idaho City Historic Lodge No.1863

As the Grand Lodge Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Idaho met this last week, Idaho City Historic Lodge held its annual meeting. By our by-laws this meets the Saturday of Grand Lodge when it meets within the Boise area, or a week later when the Grand Lodge meets away from Boise. The Lodge of Idaho City is the oldest standing structure, West of the Mississippi, that is still used and where a Grand Lodge was formed.

This Lodge is named for the city where the Grand Lodge of Idaho was formed and where Idaho Lodge No. 1 originally met; Idaho Lodge No. 1 prior to the Grand Lodge of Idaho was numbered No. 35 under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Oregon. The first building was erected in 1863, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1865. The new building was rebuilt in the same year, just a half block down from its original location. That building still stands today and is still maintained by Idaho Lodge No. 1, though that Lodge now meets in Boise, ID. Five Lodges came together on December 17, 1867, and formed the Grand Lodge of Idaho. In the early 20th century, the population of Idaho City and the membership of Idaho Lodge No. 1 was shrinking dramatically which led the Lodge to move to Boise, ID. The members of Idaho Lodge No. 1 made it a custom to convene up at the Lodge in Idaho City, often conferring the Sublime degree of Master Mason upon a candidate. 

Idaho City Historic Lodge No. 1863 was established according to the Founding Secretary "to maintain the building, to recognize its significance to Masons around the state, and not just among the members of Idaho No.1, and to promote connections to the community of Idaho City." The Lodge has also assisted the Grand Lodge in preparations for the Grand Lodges 150th Anniversary. The charter was presented by the newly installed Most Worshipful Grand Master on September 18, 2010. 

While I am a Charter member of this Lodge, I missed the first year as I was deployed to Iraq. I have attended meetings when I could and last year I was elected, and later installed, Senior Warden of the Lodge. This afternoon I was elected as Worshipful Master, but I won't installed until December when my home Lodge holds its Installation of Officers. The meeting was a good one and was attended by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Alaska. The Master of Idaho Lodge No.1 presented to the Historic Lodge a picture of the first Worshipful Master of Idaho Lodge No.35 (under Oregon) as the photos the Lodge did have were lost in the Great Fire of 1865. I look forward to my year as Worshipful Master as the Idaho City Lodge will be involved with the 150th Anniversary celebrations going on in 2017.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Templar Biographies: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

While not a member himself of the Templar Order, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was a French abbot, reformer of the Cistercian order, influential in ending the persecution of Jews in Germany, served as an arbiter during a split in papal authority, preached in support of the Second Crusade, and was instrumental in is extremely important to the history of the Knights Templar for obtaining Papal support and writing the original Rule of the Order.

St. Bernard was born around 1090 AD in Fontaines-les-Dijon (southeastern France). He was born into a noble family. The son of Tocellyn de Sorrell and Aleth of Montbard, St. Bernard was the third of seven children (six of whom were boys). He was educated at Châtillon-sur-Seine, run by the secular canons of Saint-Vorles, which set him up for a life in the Church.

In 1107 St. Bernard's mother died and little is known of St. Bernard's life. In 1112, St. Bernard, and several members of his family, rode to the abbey of Citeaux, Dijon, seeking admission into the Cistercian order. On June 25, 1115, St. Bernard, receiving permission from Stephen Harding (St. Stephen), founded a new monastery in Burgundy, naming it Claire Vallée, which evolved into Clairvaux (meaning "Valley of Light"). As a young abbot he became known as excellent orator and author. He would become known as a champion of the Virgin Mary and defining her role in the Catholic Church. Running the abbey were trying for St. Bernard in the beginning and it took so much out of him that he became ill; St. Bernard would be constantly plagued with illness throughout his life. Though the Cistercian order was strict, many people flocked to the monastery, which included St. Bernard's younger brother and father. Clairvaux became so crowded that St. Bernard began sending bands of monks throughout Germany, Sweden, England, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy to found new monasteries.

St. Bernard was connected to the Knights Templar through Hugh de Payens, the first Grand Master of the order, was from the Champagne region of France and Andre de Montbard was the maternal uncle of St. Bernard. Hugh, the Count of Champagne, became a member of the Knights Templars and was the one who donated the land on which the Abbey of Clairvaux was built. At the 1128 Council of Troyes, St. Bernard used his influence to use this council to garner support for the Knights Templar. From this council, St. Bernard created the first Rule of the Knights Templar. The Rule covered all aspects of the life of the Knights Templar. Some leaders in the church denounced St. Bernard for meddling in affairs above his station, but changed their minds when St. Bernard wrote a letter of humility and apology that left a positive impression with the Holy See.

St. Bernard's influence and popularity in the Catholic Church began to grow immensely that he was instrumental in the election of Pope Innocent II in 1130. This election was very controversial and caused a schism in the Church. Several powers supported Anacletus II rather than Innocent II, the latter had been banned from Rome and was living in France. St. Bernard met with monarchs and then traveled through the Italian peninsula campaigning for Innocent II. The schism existed until January 25, 1138, when Anacletus died, supposedly of "grief and disappointment." It was during the papacy of Innocent II that the order was placed under the sole authority of the Pope. It was also due to the popularity of St. Bernard that the Templar order grew and drew so many prominent noblemen.

Around the latter part of 1139, St. Bernard was visited by his contemporary St. Malachi, the Primate of All Ireland. St. Malachi sought to join the Cistercian order, but was refused to do so by the Pope. St. Malachi would die at Clairvaux in 1148.

In 1139, St. Bernard was called upon by the Church to combat heresy. Bernard had in previous years denounced the radical words and teachings of Peter Abelard, an Augustinian. In 1141, Pope Innocent II convened a council at Sens (north-central France). St. Bernard denounced Peter to the Pope and demanded that Peter justify his ideas. St. Bernard was able to show the errors of Peter that Peter was unable to make a reply and was forced to retire to Cluny.

In St. Bernard's "Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae" (Book to the Knights of the Temple, in praise of the new knighthood), was a treatise that praised the soldier-monk, elevated them above the secular orders, and was meant to raise morale of the Knights Templar in Jerusalem. In this publication, St. Bernard wrote that:
"The knight who protects his soul with the armor of faith, as he covers his body with a coat of mail, is truly without fear and above reproach. Doubly armed he fears neither men nor demons."
St. Bernard was sometimes referred to as a "Pope Maker" from his support of Innocent II and this would also be true in 1145 when he was active in the election of Pope Eugenius III. Eugenius III was a novitiate of St. Bernard at Clairvaux. St. Bernard wrote the "Books of Consideration" discussed reforms of the Church, but they needed to start with the papacy. So beautiful was St. Bernard's writings on the papacy that many Popes kept this book for everyday reading. []

The Christian Crusaders were defeated at the Siege of Edessa on December 24, 1144, by the Seljuk Turks. Pope Lucius II pleaded to St. Bernard to preach and assist in recruiting and building a new Crusader army for a Second Crusade. There was not as much eagerness to go to the Holy Land and so St. Bernard found in necessary to express the need to take up the cross against heathens as a means of gaining absolution for sin and attaining grace. It was recorded that St. Bernard stated the following at one gathering in Burgundy:
“O ye who listen to me! Hasten to appease the anger of heaven, but no longer implore its goodness by vain complaints. Clothe yourselves in sackcloth, but also cover yourselves with your impenetrable bucklers. The din of arms, the danger, the labors, the fatigues of war, are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the Infidels, and let the deliverance of the holy places be the reward of your repentance.”
After this speech the crowd starting enlisting en masse, and included many men of nobility. St. Bernard traveled to Germany and was successful in recruiting there as he was in France. Sadly, the failures of the Crusades were blamed on St. Bernard, though he blamed the failures on the sins of the crusaders.

St. Bernard died on August 20, 1153, in Clairvaux. He was canonized as a saint by Pope Alexander III on January 18, 1174; he was also the first Cistercian monk to be placed on the calendars of saints. In Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy", St. Bernard serves as the last guide for Dante as he travels through the Empyrean, the highest part of Heaven. In 1792 after the French Revolution, St. Bernard's remains were transferred to the Troyes Cathedral. In 1830, Pope Pius VIII honored St. Bernard with the title of "Doctor of the Church." Due to his writing skills and his eloquent speaking there is not enough time to cover every aspect of St. Bernard's life, but it should be remembered that he played an important role in the ascension of the Knights Templar as the premier knighthood during the Crusades.


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