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.

References

1. A Brief History of the Medieval Knights Templar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani: http://www.osmth.org/templar-legacy

2. Bernard of Clairvaux. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_of_Clairvaux

3. Bernard of Clairvaux. (n.d.). Retrieved from Electric Scotland: http://www.electricscotland.com/books/ries/BERNARD%20OF%20CLAIRVAUX%20011713.pdf

4. Butler, A. (2010, March 31). Bernard of Clairvaux. Retrieved from Templar History: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/bernard-of-clairvaux/

5. Butler, A. (2010, March 31). The Council of Troyes. Retrieved from Templar History: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/the-council-of-troyes/

6. Check, C. (2009, February). The Sad History of the Knights Templar. Retrieved from Catholic Answers: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/the-sad-history-of-the-knights-templar

7. Gildas, M. (1907). St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Retrieved from The Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02498d.htm

8. Goyau, G. (1912, February 1). Councils of Sens. Retrieved from The Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13720a.htm

9. Knight, K. (1999). The Life of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux. Retrieved from Priory of St. Bernard de Clairvaux: http://www.nolatemplars.com/life_of_saint_bernard_de_clairvairvaux.htm

10. Pennington, M. B. (1995). Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Retrieved from The Order of Saint Benedict: http://www.osb.org/cist/bern.html

11. Sean, M. (n.d.). The Council of Troyes. Retrieved from E-Reading Club: http://www.e-reading.club/chapter.php/112799/8/Martin_-_The_Knights_Templar.html

12. St. Bernard of Clairvaux. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=559

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Royal Arch Song

By James Gates Percival


Joy! the sacred law is found, 
Now the Temple stands complete; 
Gladly let us gather round 
Where the Pontiff holds his seat. 
Now he spreads the volume wide, 
Opening forth its leaves today,- 
And the Monarch, by his side 
Gazes on the bright display. 

Joy! the secret vault is found; 
Full the sunbeam falls within, 
Pointing, darkly underground, 
To the treasure we would win; 
They have brought it forth to light, 
And again it cheers the earth; 
All its leaves are purely bright, 
Shining in their newest worth. 

This shall be the sacred mark 
Which shall guide us to the skies, 
Bearing, like a holy ark, 
All the hearts who love to rise; 
This shall be the corner-stone, 
Which the builders threw away, 
But was found the only one 
Fitted for the arch’s stay. 

This shall be the gavel true, 
At whose sound the crowd shall bend, 
Giving to the law its due; 
This shall be the faithful friend; 
This the token which shall bring 
Kindness to the sick and poor, 
Hastening on an angel’s wing 
To the lone and darksome door. 

This shall crown the mighty arch, 
When the temple springs on high, 
And the brethren bend their march, 
Wafting incense to the sky; 
Then the solemn strain shall swell 
From the bosom and the tongue, 
And the Master’s glory tell 
In the harmony of song. 

Here the exile, o’er the waste 
Trudging homeward, shall repose; 
All his toils and dangers past, 
Here his long sojourning close; 
Entering through the sacred veils, 
To the holy arch he bends; 
Then as sinking nature fails, 
Hope in glad fruition ends.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

32nd Birthday

Today is my 32nd birthday! This has been a great year of my life: being initiated into the SRICF, being installed in my first Elected Grand office, helping found a Chapel of St. Thomas of Acon, hitting 10-years in Freemasonry, and earning my Master of Arts in Political Science from Boise State University.

Looking back on my life, 5-years ago I was sitting in Iraq, dodging a morning rocket attack. I was supposed to be back in the United States days earlier, but due to a mishap with the transport paperwork I, and the equipment for my platoon, were held up for a couple extra weeks. I spent the morning of my 27th birthday sitting in Green Bean, a coffee shop on the base, surfing the Internet until the alarms went off sounding an incoming indirect fire attack. I hated having to celebrate my birthday in Iraq, away from my family and friends, but the next morning I would leave and THAT was a great feeling; it was still early enough that on the West Coast of the United States so it was still my birthday and there was nor greater birthday present than that...going home.

It has been an amazing 5-years since leaving Iraq. My family and friends has given me so much love and support that I know that I am truly blessed. Now I'm going to have dinner with my family then beers with friends.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Social Order of the Beauceant

While the Order of the Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, and Order of the Amaranth are some of the most well-known appendant bodies of Freemasonry open to women, one I don't often hear too much discussion on is the Social Order of the Beauceant. According to their website, the Social Order of the Beauceant is "an organization of Christian women whose membership is limited to the wives and widows of the Knights Templar," but the order is now open to women who are 18-years of age and who are wives, widows, mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters of a Knight Templar. The Social Order of the Beauceant is an auxiliary of the Knights Templar and seeks to aid the Commanderies as well as promote friendship among the members of the society. One way that the Society contributes to the Templar order is by raising funds for the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. The ritual of the Society is said to be beautifully impressive and the theme of which is "Faith, Loyalty, and Love for God, the Knights Templar, and each other."

At the local level, members of Social Order of the Beauceant convene an Assembly. An Assembly can be constituted wherever there is an active Commandery of Knights Templar of sufficient size to warrant it. There are currently 64 Assemblies. An Assembly is composed of the following officers:
President

Oracle
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Preceptress
Recorder
Treasurer
Marshal
Assistant Marshal
Chaplain
Director of Music
Standard Bearer
Color Bearer
Mistress of the Wardrobe
Daughter of the Household
Inner Guard
Outer Guard
The Supreme Assembly is composed of the following officers:
Supreme Worthy President

Supreme Most Worthy Oracle
Supreme Worthy First Vice President
Supreme Worthy Second Vice President
Supreme Worthy Preceptress
Supreme Recorder
Supreme Treasurer
Supreme Marshal
Supreme Assistant Marshal
Supreme Chaplain
Supreme Director of Music
Supreme Historian
Supreme Courier
Supreme Standard Bearer
Supreme Color Bearer
Supreme Mistress of the Wardrobe
Supreme Daughter of the Household
Supreme Inner Guard
Supreme Outer Guard
The Social Order of the Beauceant was founded in Denver, CO, in February of 1890 after several Sir Knights suggested it to their wives the year prior. The initial sole purpose for this group was for providing aid and sociability for the Sir Knights and guests attending the Triennial. The ladies enjoyed themselves that they never disbanded after the Triennial concluded. Originally it was called "S.O.O.B. Society" where "SOOB" stood for "Some Of Our Business", but by 1913 the meaning of SOOB was changed to "Social Order of the Beauceant" during the Knights Templar Triennial. This new name took its name from the Beauceant, the banner carried by the medieval Knights Templar. In 1920 the members from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado met in Denver to form the Supreme Assembly

The emblem of the Society is the Crown and Cross. The crosses they use are the Passion, the Patriarchal, and the Salem Cross. Together the crown and cross represent the reward waiting in Heaven that the Faithful will receive after the suffering and trials of this life on Earth; the cross secures and the crown assures. Some have interpreted it to stand for the meaning of the life, ministry, message, and glory of our Blessed Redeemer, our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Crown, by itself, has traditionally been a symbol of authority and sovereignty, whether it is governance over a society/community or over oneself. Head coverings, like crowns, are also seen as a symbol of victory like you would see with the wreath or garland. Symbolically we can see through its circular shape it denotes perfection, which Heaven is seen as, and eternal life, and while wearing it we unite the spiritual world with this material world where the sovereign can receive divine inspiration to justly rule. For the Sir Knights of the Templar Orders and Christians, the cross reminds us of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but is much older than the Christian religion. To ancient cultures, the cross represented the Sun or has been a symbol of Earth and nature with the number Four representing the Cardinal directions, the changing seasons, the four winds, the quarters of the moon, and the alchemical elements. Like the crown does, the cross may also emblematically represent the union of Heaven and Earth. The number four also reminds us of the Four Evangelists and their Gospels. By it are we reminded of time and the delineation of seasons, as it was on the Fourth Day that God put lights in the firmament to separate light from darkness, to mark days, and to outline the passing of seasons and time.

Members of the Society where a uniform composed of a white robe with a red Latin cross over the right breast. For local officers the cross is a Latin Cross is worn and Patriarchal Cross is worn for Supreme officers, except for the Supreme Worthy President (and Past Supreme Worthy Presidents) who wear a Salem Cross This uniform is not worn outside the Assembly. During public ceremonies they often wear black skirt, white blouse, and red jacket.

The Social Order of the Beauceant is an unusual group found in Freemasonry as it is one of the few that only admits women, but is even more so as it limited to ladies tied with the Commandery of Knights Templar.

References

1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Social Order of the Beauceant Georgia Assembly: http://www.soobga.com/aboutus.html 

2. Assemblies. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Assembly of the Social Order of the Beauceant: http://www.knightstemplar.org/soob/assemblies.html 

3. Ocala Assembly No.249. (2011). Retrieved from Social Order of the Beauceant: http://www.mastermason.com/oyrb/SOOB.htm 

4. Social Order of the Beauceant. (n.d.). Retrieved from Appendant Bodies: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/freemasonry/how_do_i/orders/orders.htm 

5. Social Order of the Beauceant. (n.d.). Retrieved from Worth Commandery No.19: http://www.worthcommandery.org/social-order-of-the-beauceant.html 

6. Supreme Officers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Assembly of the Social Order of the Beauceant: http://www.knightstemplar.org/soob/officers.html 

7. The Social Order of the Beauceant. (n.d.). Retrieved from Women's Groups Related to the Freemasons: http://www.dummies.com/religion/spirituality/womens-groups-related-to-the-freemasons/ 

8. What is the SOOB? (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Assembly of the Social Order of the Beauceant: http://www.knightstemplar.org/soob/membership.html

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Satan and Freemasonry

One of the most savage and continuous attacks against Freemasonry is the one that we're crypto-Satanists. I faced this accusation before I even became a Mason. On my way home to be initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason I was reading a book that had the Square and Compasses on the front cover when the lady sitting next to me saw it and proceeded to verbally accost me. Since joining I've surfed the web and on many different forums and social media sites I've come in contact with people making all sorts of accusations that we're a tool of the New World Order, that we are the New World Order, that we're a false religion or cult, that we're a bunch of old men playing dress up, and the list goes on and on. However, when debating Freemasonry the accusation and the accusers seem to ignore all of the facts and perpetuate lies to prop up this charge; ironically most of the accusers are supposedly good Christians who don't mind violating one of the 10 Commandments when it suits their anti-Masonic agenda.

Most often when asked why someone believes Freemasonry is Satanic or "luciferian", they never quote from our ritual or the proceedings of any Grand Lodge, they often cite Albert Pike or Manly P. Hall, but I've also seen them cite Albert Mackey, Eliphas Levi, A.E Waite, and Blavatsky. It should be noted here that most anti-Masons hold a misguided belief at what constitutes authority in Freemasonry. Since the 18th century, many Masons have published works concerning Freemasonry, writing on various theories and subjects within Freemasonry. Anti-Masons would have others believe that everything a Mason writes is inherently accepted by all of Freemasonry. The problem here is that not everything written by a Mason has been factual, but as Freemasonry is a society dedicated to knowledge and free thought, Grand Lodges have not interfered with what an individual Mason writes. A Grand Lodge is the only entity within Freemasonry that has authority to speak on the symbols, rituals, history, and so on. Without receiving an endorsement from a Grand Lodge, a Masonic author is merely giving his opinion, he does not speak for all Freemasonry. Freemasonry is much more than just the writings of a single Masonic author.

When the accusation of Satanism includes Pike there are two quotes commonly used. The first one is attributed to Pike, but stems from the hoax concocted by Leo Taxil:
"That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him? "Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive. "Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil."
The second one comes from Morals & Dogma wherein Pike states:
LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual or selfish Souls? Doubt it not!
With the first quote a simple search will yield results showing how Leo Taxil admitted to fabricating information against Freemasonry, but even when faced with this anti-Masons will still cite it as evidence against the fraternity. I would also like to point out that this hoax and other accusations against Pike came out after his death in 1891.

With the second quote, it is clear to anyone who can read that Pike nowhere states that Freemasons worship Lucifer. This quote, in my opinion, is Pike merely pointing out the irony of the Devil, the prince of darkness, being equated to a being of light. Many, myself included, do argue against the belief that Lucifer and Satan being one and the same. Those who do equate Lucifer and Satan cite Isaiah 14:12 which says:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Now, from just looking at this one verse, it does seem like they are referring to those angels who rebelled against God and who were thrown from Heaven. However, when reading more than just one verse and reading the entire chapter you can see that Isaiah is referring to a disgraced Babylonian king (specifically mentioned in Isaiah 14:4). Lucifer was a mortal being, not a fallen angel. Even when faced with this information, some will say that Lucifer was the name of the Devil while in Heaven, but upon further research one can see that the Devil's name in Heaven was Samael. As monarchs were seen as divine, when one was overthrown he figuratively "fell from Heaven." In the original text, the verse speaks of "Helal bin Shahar" which translates as "day star, son of the morning." This most likely was not his real name, but a title as kings have often been referred to as "illustrious" or "shining" (think of King Louis, the Sun King). St. Jerome took this title as his literal name and the day star of Jerome's time was Lucifer, which was the body that precedes the rising sun and which we know today to be the planet Venus. It is also important to note that Lucifer is only ever mentioned once in the entire Bible and that is in reference to "oppressor," not a fallen angel. People should take into consideration the context of the words and the meaning they had then instead of taking it literally and applying modern concepts. You should also realize that ancient prophets and biblical authors did speak in metaphor as well as literal; even Jesus spoke in parables (Matthew 13:34). Most people it seems cannot discern between figurative language and literal language. It's important to note that there was a Bishop that lived at the time of St. Jerome whose name was Lucifer. Jesus is also referred to as a light-bearer or morning/day star (Revelations 22:16). The Bible also says to let the light of the day/morning star into your heart (2 Peter 1:19).

Pike remains the favorite "whipping boy" of the anti-Masonic movement who often exaggerate his importance and misquote Morals & Dogma. Anti-Masons go so far as to say that Pike was the leader of all Freemasonry and that Moral & Dogma carries the weight of Masonic canon or law. It seems to me that most anti-Masons gloss over most of the book to include the Preface of the book where Pike states "Everyone is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound." This doesn't seem like a way to start a book that is supposedly the standard of knowledge by which all Masons must believe. Brothers Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris state, in Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry, "Just because Albert Pike was a brilliant ritualist, an able administrator, and a well-respected Mason doesn't mean all of his opinions are right." This again falls in line with most anti-Masons lack of understanding or denial of what constitutes authority in Freemasonry. I have found that most quoting Pike have never actually read Morals & Dogma, but just copy and paste from some anti-Mason website. If one reads Morals & Dogma you'll see that Pike only refers to Lucifer four times in the entire tome, but nowhere does he glorify Lucifer or that Masons worship Lucifer. Frankly I find it sad that so many think that a few sentences can represent an entire fraternity that has existed for centuries.

Next to Albert Pike, Manly P. Hall is often cited to show Freemasonry as a Satanic organization. The quote most often used against Hall and Freemasonry is: 
The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.
I'd first like to note that Hall wrote "The Lost Keys of Freemasonry" 30-years before joining Freemasonry. Even once he joined he was never a Masonic leader nor had any influence on Freemasonry. Hall did note in later editions of his book that "At the time I wrote this slender volume, I had just passed my twenty-first birthday, and my only contact with Freemasonry was through a few books commonly available to the public." His importance is often exaggerated as he was honored with the 33°, but anti-Mason again fail to understand or deny the fact that the 33° does not equate to rank, authority, or a leadership position within Freemasonry. Again from Brothers De Hoyos and Morris:
The fact that he held the Thirty-third Degree and was respected by many Thirty-Third Degree Masons and even by the Supreme Councils 33º is no more significant than the fact that various Baptist, Anglican, or Methodist authors also hold or held that honor. Anti-Masons regularly parade the writings of Masonic authorities before their audiences and dissect their words, looking for a sentence here or a phrase there to be used in their cause. They seek someone like a church authority who speaks dogmatically on teachings and doctrine; whose every word must be accepted by the faithful. Freemasonry has no such authorities. The Masonic authorities used by anti-Masons have been historical authorities who speak with the expertise that comes from long study, but who do not—indeed, cannot—speak for all Masons. It is like the difference between the authoritative teachings of the Episcopal Church and an authoritative history of the Kennedy assassination.
Eliphas Levi, who was an occultist, is often touted as a "top Mason" or "leading expert on Freemasonry." Many quotes are supposedly taken from "The Mysteries of Magic", but the issue is that Levi never penned any such work by that name. It should also be pointed out that, like Pike, Levi's importance in Freemasonry is greatly exaggerated as he was initiated on March 14th, 1861, and by August 1861 he had left Freemasonry. Most of Levi's works were published prior to joining Freemasonry and the few theories of Freemasonry he had were not widely accepted and most of his focus was on the occult. I find it interesting that the modern and best known drawing of Baphomet is attributed to Levi. Many anti-Masons use this fact to say that Baphomet (another of representation of Satan to them) is associated with Freemasonry.

While less used than the others, Arthur Edward Waite and The Book of Black Magic is often cited as an example of the evil within Freemasonry. The anti-Masons also claim that Waite was a 33°, but there are no records of him joining the Scottish Rite. Anti-Masons also false attribute this book to Waite when the author of this book was written by George Redway. The book was also published in 1898 which was 4-years prior to Waite joining Freemasonry.

Freemasonry will continue to be a target of the ignorant, the fanatical, and the tyrannical. As Freemasonry allows men of various religious, political, and social beliefs to come together, we will always be seen as a threat to intolerance, bigotry, militancy, and extremists who seek to divide men by their beliefs rather than unite them. When men like Hall speak of "luciferian" or Lucifer they are speaking of the pursuit of knowledge as light is an allegory for knowledge not any person or villain from the Christian Bible. When debating with anti-Masons on this subject, most will further stick their head in the sand rather than face the truth. Because of their misrepresentation and misquoting of Masonic authors most of the anti-Mason arguments come off as disingenuous and sanctimonious. The fact remains that neither Lucifer nor Satan play a role anywhere in Freemasonry, and when confronted anti-Masons cannot substantiate their claims using our rituals or anything official from any body of Freemasonry.

References

1. De Hoyos, A., & Morris, S. (1997). Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? Masonic Information Center.

2. King, E. (n.d.). Lucifer. Retrieved from Masonic Info: http://www.masonicinfo.com/lucifer.htm 

3. Lucifer and Satan. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/LuciferandSatan.html 

4. The Confession of Leo Taxil. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/taxil_confessed.html 

5. The Lie of Luciferianism. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/luciferianism.html