Friday, May 20, 2016

Lord of Light

From "Rosaecrucian Hymns", The American Rosae Crucis, March 1916:
Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near! 
Sun of our life, thy quickening ray
Sheds on our path the glow of day:
Star of our hope, thy softened light
Cheers the long watcher of the night. 
Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose LIGHT IS TRUTH, whose Fire is Love,
Before thy ever-blazing throne
WE ask no lustre of our own. 
Grant us thy Truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that burn for thee
Till all thy living altars claim
The Holy Light--the Heavenly Flame.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is Freemasonry a Cult?

In debates with anti-Masons, I've seen and heard the accusation tossed around that Freemasonry is a cult. Here is my somewhat biased look on what a cult is and a comparison to Freemasonry.

Cults have historically been associated with religious or social groups whose practices are considered deviant, and because the word carries with it a derogatory connotation some have used the word to label groups they do not approve of, whether that group meets the criteria of a cult or not. However, since what is considered radical or truly deviant are relative terms it is problematic to pin down a precise definition of the word 'cult'.

Cult comes to us from the Latin word "cultus" meaning "worship, devotion, or reverence". Looking at several dictionaries I see "cult" defined in the following:
noun

1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. 
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult. 
3. the object of such devotion. 
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc. 
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols. 
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. 
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
I will say that Freemasonry doesn't fit the definitions because Masonic Lodges are not places of worship. Freemasonry is religious, but far from being a religion or a religious institution (ie church, synagogue, mosque, etc). We also do not force our members to live outside of "conventional society" nor do we have a singular "charismatic leader". We do have rites, rituals, ceremonies, but that is far from making an organization a cult.

Definitions alone do not accurately depict something on its own. I could define "human" as a "bipedal mammal", with that definition I could then say an ostrich is considered human. One must take into consideration the characteristics along with the definition otherwise you lose context and accuracy.

Here are some characteristics of a cult:
Leadership: A cult will have a living leader who is self-appointed, has absolute authoritarian/totalitarian control, is accountable to no one, and is often messianic with a special mission or cause. 
Truth: The leader, and sometimes the group, are in possession of a credible "truth". Often this surrounds some notion of salvation which can only be attained from affiliation with that particular cult. Only knowledge from the group is credible and often critical thinking is prohibited. 
Devotion: The members must submit to all orders of the leader without question or inquiry. Promote dependency of the members upon the group. 
Finances: Members are often required to turn over most if not all of their assets to help fund operations and the cause of the leader. Again, with the "no question" policy, there is no transparency in regards to where the assets are stored, used, or spent.
Profane world: There is instilled an illogical fear of the outside world. Members are often cut off or isolated from their pre-cult friends, families, and society. They have the polarized "us versus them" mentality. Members of cults move into communes and not in their previous residents.
Recruiting: Use deceptive methods in recruiting such as crisis creation, deepening a confessed guilt or fear, or state that they have all the answers. 
Leaving: There is no legitimate reason to leave the cult. Members who do leave are criticized and seen as evil.
You can find more here: http://www.prem-rawat-talk.org/forum/uploads/CultCharacteristics.htm

Our leaders/officers are elected or appointed by an elected officer, not self appointed. Least of all, do we have to do as bidden without question. Masonry don't claim to possess some hidden secret that will give us salvation from God's Judgment. There is no dependency or entitlement syndrome placed upon Freemasons. The finances are, or should be, tracked and, at least in my Lodge/Grand Lodge, audited annually; the Grand Lodge audit done by an independent auditor when a new Grand Secretary or Grand Treasurer is elected. Freemasons are not cut off from the world or family/friends that we knew previous to joining Freemasonry nor are we required to live in communes or residence established by the cult. Freemasonry doesn't recruit, but even to prospective members, we don't lie nor do we use deceptive means to bring them into our fold. Lastly, Freemasons leave the group all the time. Some leave for poor reasons while others leave for personal or financial reasons. It just depends on the man.

Having looked at all the information, I'd have to say NO, Freemasonry is not a cult. To be blunt, people who say we are a cult are ignorant of what both, cults and Freemasonry, are. It's not surprising though that those who know so little will defame and slander others without knowledge of the facts. I would point out though that many of these characteristics fit the description of some of the anti-Masons I have met. I have found that using their loose definition of what a cult is, you could label just about any assembly of people a cult. Anti-Masons have overused and abused the use of the word "cult" that its use is becoming meaningless and trivial.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Summer School

Today starts the summer sessions for Boise State University and my last class as a Graduate student. This class will be dedicated to finishing, editing, and revising my Master's Thesis. From a meeting I had two weeks ago, things have been pushed up a bit and I will now be doing my Thesis Defense in mid-June and the countdown begins...


Monday, May 2, 2016

Kappa Sigma Bio: Stephen Alonzo Jackson

Next to the Five Friends & Brothers, Stephen Alonzo Jackson is regarded as one of the most important men in the history of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. It was by his efforts that a local chapter at the University of Virginia would expand to the strong international organization it is today, and it was because of his devotion that he was given the nickname "the Golden-Hearted Virginian." Stephen Alonzo Jackson was born on September 22, 1851, in Glenville, VA, the son of Minter Jackson and Mary Katherin Jackson. While still in his infancy, Jackson's mother died and he was raised by his grandmother.

Jackson was initiated into the Kappa Sigma fraternity in the Fall of 1872 while at the University of Virginia where he studied Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. Through the dedication of Jackson, the fraternity spread to Trinity College (now Duke University), the University of Maryland, and to Washington & Lee University. Jackson would go on to serve as Grand Master of Zeta Chapter, revise the ritual of Kappa Sigma, create the first Supreme Executive Committee (the governing body of the fraternity), establish a Constitution of the order, and the idea of a regular meeting of a national convention. He would go on to serve as the first Worthy Grand Master.


At the second Grand Conclave on November 1, 1878, at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, VA, Jackson was re-elected as Worthy Grand Master and during his speech gave what is known as the "Apples of Gold" speech wherein he expressed his goals of an enduring brotherhood:

"Why not, my Brothers, since we of today live and cherish the principles of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, throw such a halo around those principles that they may be handed down as a precious heirloom to ages yet unborn? Why not put our apples of gold in pictures of silver? May we not rest contentedly until the Star and Crescent is the pride of every college and university in the land!"
Stephen Alonzo Jackson passed away on March 4, 1892, in Washington County, VA, leaving behind his widow, Mary Cloyd Davidson. His legacy is unprecedented as it was through his through his efforts that the first southern fraternity expanded to the north and the establishment of a Greek fraternity Grand Conclave. Kappa Sigma has continued to grow with more than 200,000 living members (including over 20,000 undergraduate members) and 320 chapters and colonies throughout the United States of America and Canada.

References


1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Nu Chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity: http://wmpeople.wm.edu/site/page/kappasigma/aboutus



2. Docet Kappa Sigma. (n.d.). Retrieved from Quizlet: https://quizlet.com/21517822/docet-kappa-sigma-flash-cards/


3. Hickin, P. (2016, February 9). Stephen Alonzo Jackson. Retrieved from WikiTree: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jackson-14882

4. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Kappa Sigma: http://kappasigma.org/about/history/


5. Kappa Sigma. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_Sigma

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pacific Northwest York Rite Festival

The last few days I've spent in Wenatchee, WA, attending the Pacific Northwest York Rite Festival. At one point we had over 50 candidates for the degrees and orders of the York Rite. One of the candidates was Bro. Don Munks, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Washington.

I had the pleasure of serving as Illustrious Master and conferring both of the Cryptic degrees on 52 Companions. After the degrees we had a nice dinner and then ended the night with some scotch and brotherhood. For the last two Chivalric Orders, I served as Knight in the West for the Order of Malta and then for the Order of the Temple I got to sit on the sidelines and watch some excellent ritual work.

The Order of Malta was conferred by a Brother who has been a Mason for 75-years. The Order of the Temple was conferred by Sir Knight Michael Johnson, Right Eminent Grand Generalissimo of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA and Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Wyoming. It was a historical moment as a sitting Grand Master dubbed and created another sitting Grand Master a Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple.

It was great to see so many Companions and Sir Knights assembled together and meet so many new ones. I'd like to thank Companion Richard Kovak, Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Washington, and Companion Michael Holland, Most Illustrious Grand Master of Washington, for asking me to help out at this festival.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 Grand York Rite Sessions of Idaho

Well, it's been a busy week. Tuesday I visited another Lodge in Boise and gave the Third Degree Lecture. After class on Wednesday I traveled to Idaho Falls (Eastern Idaho) to attend the 2016 Grand York Rite of Idaho. I had a great time and it was good to see all of the Companions and Sir Knights from all over Idaho and the northwest.

Thursday serves as the day for the honorary and chair degrees to be conferred upon worthy Companions and Sir Knights. First thing in the morning I served as Most Excellent President of the Order of the High Priesthood and initiated 2 new Excellent Companions into the order. Next came the Order of the Silver Trowel where I did my usual part. In the afternoon was the Order of the Knights Preceptor where I was appointed Sentinel of the Idaho Chapter. Next was the annual meeting of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor where I assisted in the conferral upon 4 new knights. I served as Herald and then gave the Chapter (Royal Arch) Lecture. I was then appointed, by the newly elected Eminent Prior, as Orator of Idaho Priory #13 of the KYCH for the next year.



With Friday morning came the Joint Meeting of the Grand York Rite with the Grand Commandery presiding. While I was not a Grand Commandery officer I was in charge of introducing all of the Distinguished Guests present. In the afternoon the Grand Commandery convened and I was appointed as Eminent Grand Warder of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho. After the Holy Land Pilgrimage Dinner, Tri-Valley College #178 met for their annual meeting where I was elected as Chancellor (3rd in line) for the ensuing year. The night didn't end though as I had plenty of homework to complete.

The Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho met Saturday morning and I was appointed Illustrious Grand Conductor of the Council of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. In the afternoon, the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho met and I was elected as Right Excellent Grand Scribe of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho. I am humbled and honored by my Companions. I was expecting to be appointed to Grand Captain of the Host, but the Companion ahead of me in the appointed line stepped out of the Grand Officer line and did not want to be elected. The Grand Banquet was Saturday evening and it was filled with awards, some drinking, and brotherhood.

While not a part of the Grand York Rite Sessions, Knights from Tahoma Chapel #3 came down from Washington to conduct a Cavalry Charge. We initiated 7 new Knights into the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. We're one step closer to the formation of Intermountain Chapel in Idaho and all of these new knights will be charter members of Intermountain Chapel. After a 4.5-hour drive, I made it home and now it's time to decompress.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Cask of Amontillado: Edgar Allan Poe, Patricide, and Anti-Masonic Rhetoric

By Bro. Wayne E. Ross

First published in 1846, Edgar Allan Poe's “The Cask of Amontillado” is a perennial favorite among scores of readers. Poe’s works of horror have influenced writers for more than 150 years and continue to thrill those who read him for the very first time. While much of what is read in works like “The Cask of Amontillado” is enjoyed for the surface level murder and mental mayhem, further examination from a different perspective reveals a much more complex and disturbing narrative.

Upon the page, “The Cask of Amontillado” clearly illustrates Montresor’s calculated, albeit whimsical murder of his “enemy” Fortunato. Even the most cursory understanding of the life of Edgar Allan Poe reveals that this is a work meant to strike back, on some level, at his repressive and domineering “father”, John Allan. Poe was adopted by Allan in 1812 and took his surname, but none of Allen’s business sense which would eventually preclude Poe from inclusion into Allan’s will. While strained relationships are nothing new between fathers and sons, another contributing factor in the split between the pair was Allan’s state as a prominent businessman as well as being an unfaithful husband to a frequently ill wife. John Allan most certainly conducted his business and home life in a manner more offensive than the artistic and independent Poe could stomach. Near the end of John Allan’s life their relationship was so strained that Allan would send no money or any other form of assistance to Poe, no matter how tenuous his situation might be.

It is clearly due to events like these that Poe cast his now dead father in the roll of Fortunato, the affluent and arrogant Freemason. Much has been made to support the idea of patricide, notably Poe’s use of the motto of Scotland, “Nemo meimpunelacessit”, as Montresor’s family motto. Translated this motto means: “No one attacks me with impunity”, a slap at Allen’s Scottish heritage as well as what Poe may well have seen as years of abuse from Allen. Now it is time for Poe to get his revenge in the manner that suits him best, but this personal attack upon a cold and uncaring father figure is also layered with veiled attacks upon the institution of Freemasonry as well.


The Spiral Staircase

Upon a cursory first reading, Poe’s use of a winding staircase to take the two men down into the catacombs seems like an architectural aspect befitting the time period. In reality, the significance of the spiral staircase in Masonic teaching is one by which Freemasons learn and progress to further knowledge and light. More than a mere rhetorical device, what Poe has literally done is taken his “father”, and in this case the character of Fortunato, down the staircase into increasing darkness and further away from the ascending light and knowledge. With one stroke of the quill Poe has stripped Fortunato of the degrees which he had worked so hard to attain and brought him down to his level. The further that Fortunato is led into darkness the sicker he becomes, whereby Poe has reversed much of the core tenants of Freemasonry and how one attains enlightenment.

As the motif of darkness continues, even the murderous Montresor finds himself unable to work his way through the darkness as he: “endeavored to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.” No longer are we dealing with light or knowledge or the “Three Great Lights”, but instead the only aid is a “feeble” light that has no strength to pierce the darkness that surrounds them. Although not in physical peril, Montresor’s obsession with the death of Fortunato has led his soul into darkness and eternal damnation that he will surely meet for the murder he is about to commit. This fear of damnation is clear to the reader primarily because both the beginning and ending paragraphs read as if Montresor is giving a death bed confession.


The Trowel/”Be it So”

The next instance in the veiled attack upon Freemasonry, all be it the clearest of all, occurs when the two men are finally down in the catacombs and Fortunato surprises Montresor with a sign of fidelity and brotherhood:
He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand. I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement --a grotesque one.
"You do not comprehend?" he said.
"Not I," I replied.
"Then you are not of the brotherhood."
"How?"
"You are not of the masons."
"Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes."
"You? Impossible! A mason?"
"A mason," I replied.
"A sign," he said, "a sign."
"It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.
"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."
“Be it so,” I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak, and again offering him my arm.”
Here we are confronted with clear evidence of Poe’s negative view of the practices of Freemasonry. Much effort has been made by scholars to identify Poe as a member of the once prominent “Anti-Masonic” party that thrived in the mid to late 1800’s, and the preceding passage does not make that assumption seem too farfetched as it serves to make a mockery of the sacred bonds and oaths adhered to by all members of the Fraternity.

First, Montresor states that the movement was a “grotesque” one which holds the dual meaning of being both ugly as well as the original Italian wherein the term meant a piece of art that could be found in a grotto. The image of the grotto as a small cave gives the impression that this move that Fortunato was doing was not natural, that is was distorted and in need of being hidden in a small cave or grotto. This move, being a supposed mode of recognition among the Fraternity, is shown here as more of a floundering fall of a drunken fool then a serious means of determining if Fortunato is speaking with a brother Mason.

Next, Montresor’s revealing that he has been hiding a trowel speaks to his understanding of the Masonic fraternity even though he is not a member. When Fortunato asks him for a “sign”, Montresor had to know that the trowel was a significant symbol in Masonic teaching, one that once given could assure a brother that he was speaking with another of his kind, or he would not have produced it from beneath his cloak. The drunken Fortunato sees it merely as a joke and does not wonder further as to why this man is carrying around a trowel.

After this mockery, Montresor’s expression of “Be it so” is not only wholly out of place, it nearly approaches blasphemy. Montresor’s whole purpose is to murder a man in a cold and calculated manner and as we are moved closer to this climax, Poe has his character use words that a Freemason would notice before any other reader might. Words that are generally used and practiced throughout the fraternity are used here to usher a Brother Mason towards his death at the hands of a person who has no care for the ancient practices or austerity of the Fraternity.


An End of my Labor

A phrase with a syntactical shift from its use in Masonic ritual, Montresor’s use of these words denotes that this deed he has completed has in fact been a “labor”. This was something that he had planned and set up from the beginning and definitely did not do in haste. There is much calculation in this act from dismissing his servants, to getting Fortunato down into the catacombs, hiding a pile of bricks, and having the actual working tools with him that someone of his stature would not normally have on his person. Once again Poe borrows terminology from the Masonic lexicon as a means for the desolation of the principles of the craft. In Masonic ritual it is only the Worshipful Master who can make pronouncements about work coming to an end or a lodge preparing to close, yet here Poe has invested his murderer with the prominence of the highest officer in a Masonic lodge. This elevation of Montresor illustrates Poe’s disdain for the craft and the investing of a crazed killer with a stature equal to a Worshipful Master of a lodge provides deeper proof of Poe’s feelings about the society that he clearly did not fully understand.


Against the New Masonry

As the story concludes, Poe once again seems to take a deliberate strike at Freemasonry, but his clever word-play artfully hides what should be seen as a much more profound definition of the “new Masonry”. The assertion can be made that the double meaning here illuminates that Poe has destroyed his enemy Fortunato with the very teachings that he, as a Freemason, would hold inviolate. Not only has he destroyed Fortunato, but by turning the teachings of the craft against itself, Poe has destroyed Freemasonry and replaced it with his own form, one of treachery and murder concealed by the remnants of the dead. This “new Masonry” that Poe has created serves to tear down the walls of secrecy that separate people and forces reconciliations for past deeds. Whether deserved or not, Fortunato is set to pay for his trespasses in a manner that becomes a warning for others that might act as he did, that might belong to a secret society, or that might be deserving of any special stature or standing in either public or private life.

In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Edgar Allan Poe weaves a tale of murder and deceit made all the more potent for its direct reference to and desolation of multiple aspects of Masonic teaching. While these facts might be up for dispute, it is clear that Poe knew enough about the teachings of Freemasonry that he was able to seamlessly weave concepts and images throughout his narrative that would catch the eye of all members of the Fraternity and make each one think twice before they find themselves sharing an equal portion in the fortune’s of Fortunato.

References

1. The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. (1983). Stamford, CT: Longmeadow Press. 784-790.

---

Bro. Wayne Ross was Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in California and is currently a member of Boise Lodge #2, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Idaho, where he currently serves as Senior Deacon. In 2015, Bro. Ross was awarded the District Mason of the Year.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Magus

This last January I was initiated into the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) and I was introduced to a set of terms that are not regularly used. One term was "Magus", which is the title for the 9th Grade (IX°). This term is also used as part of the title of the leader of the Masonic Rosicrucian order is also "Supreme Magus." Magus is a word that has been in use since at least the 6th century BC and is often associated with the mystical and magic (magic being derivation of magus); the plural of "magus" is "magi." For most people in the Western world, the term magi is associated with the Three Magi (or wise men) who visited the Christ child in the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

Magus is defined as "a member of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians" or "magician or sorcerer." The earliest known use is found on the Behistun Inscription found on a cliff of Mount Behistun in western Iran which was said to have been written by command of Darius the Great. The origin of magus is believed to be from the Avestan word "magâunô" which was a reference to a Median religious caste or to Zoroastrian priests.



The oldest reference to the word "magi" dates back to the 6th century BC when, the Grecian philosopher, Heraclitus cursed them for their "impious rites and rituals" although there is no existing record of who specifically he was referring to and what exactly of the rituals he found "impious." Herodotus, in the 5th century BC, uses "magi" to refer to both a Median tribes and a priestly caste. Xenophon in the 4th century BC referred to "magi" as being authorities for all religious matters.


It was during the 5th century BC that the Greek words "mageia" and "magike" first appear to describe the activities of a magus. "Mageia" is closely associated to the modern definition of the word "magic" and was used to refer to using supernatural means to effect the physical world, or at least appearing to do so. Pliny the Elder, in the 1st century AD, contributed the invention of magic to Zoroaster and believed that men like Plato and Pythagoras brought it to Greece and Rome. While magi are heavily associated with Zoroastrianism, the term is often used to denote a priest of several religions.


Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, is the legendary founder of the Zoroastrian religion. While his birthplace is uncertain, but some say it was Rhages (now Rayy, a suburb of Tehran) and it is said though that he lived in what is now Eastern Iran. There are also large discrepancies in regards to his date of birth. Some date his birth to 6000 BC, but most place it to the 7th century BC; some date it specifically to 628 BC based on texts concerning Zoroaster's proximity to Alexander the Great and the conversion of King Chorasmia in 588 BC. His birthday is celebrated on March 21, which coincides with the Persian New Year. It is said that he was initially a cobbler by trade, but by the time he was 30-years old he was preaching monotheism and his followers were adherents of Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord in Avestan), who was the sole god and creator in Zoroastrianism; a fuller explanation thereof coming in a later article. Zoroaster received visions and revelations from Ahura Mazda which were recorded in the Gathas (hymns) and Avesta (scriptures); it is also said that he received revelation by meeting face-to-face with his god. Around 77-years of age, Zoroaster was said to be murdered, but the circumstances surrounding the death are debated. Since his death, Zoroaster is remembered as a prophet, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer, and magi.


Magi served many purposes, the most notable was their religious duties which included dream interpreters, soothsayers, interpreting the heavens, performing rites as rituals such as sacrificing livestock to the gods. While they had their religious duties they also sat as advisers in the courts of monarchs on the matters of administration and economics. They assisted in running warehouses which stored anything from grain and flour to beer and fruit. Magi also served in what we would today call a Notary as existing records show us one serving as a witness of a business deal. In one notable instance, magi are seen as guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great. There is a great debate as to whether or not magi were strictly followers Zoroaster or if they could be any religion. It seems that "magi" meaning a "priestly class" did start out with the Zoroastrian religion, but the word was adopted by non-Zoroaster religions later on. Some scholars also argue whether or not the magi were followers of Zoroaster or if they were actually a class of heretical priests found in the Median region.


In Christian tradition, it is told that three wise men presumably named Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar traveled from the East to find and honor the newborn King of the Jews. On their journey they met with the despotic King Herod who ordered the magi to report to him once they found the Christ child. Guided by the Star of Bethlehem, they found Him and bestowed gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod and so they traveled by a different route back to their home. In later Christian writings, the magi were identified as kings which was most likely linked to Psalms 72:11: "May all kings fall down before him". However, in the translations by St. Justin, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome, the wise men were still translated the original texts in its truest sense, that of magi or magician.

Over the centuries various men has been referred to as a magus. In the 13th century there was a Catholic bishop named Albertus Magnus who is said to have studied and practiced alchemy, and was alleged to have been a magician. Another one was known as Agrippa, a German living in the 16th century, and was considered an influential occultist. Paracelsus, also known as Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, was a Swiss-German philosopher, physician, botanist, astrologer, occultist, and accredited with being the founder of toxicology. Other notables are Christian Rosencreutz (legendary founder of the Rosicrucian order), John Dee, Francis Bacon, and Elias Ashmole.

As I see it, one who holds the distinction and title of "Magus" is one who isn't just knowledgeable on their respective rituals and laws, but also seeks the deeper meaning of all things (science, nature, theology). In Freemasonry, specifically the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, the rank of "Magus" is used to signify men of superior wisdom. As I am still just a new member of the Rosicrucian Society, I am still learning (being in the Learning Grades), but look forward to learning more about the magi and this enlightened order.

References


1. Behistun Inscription. (n.d.). Retrieved from New World Encyclopedia: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Behistun_Inscription 

2. Drum, W. (1910, October 1). Magi. Retrieved from The Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09527a.htm 

3. Eduljee, K. E. (n.d.). Zoroastrian Priesthood. Retrieved from Zoroastrian Heritage: http://heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/priests/index.htm 

4. History of the Medes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Taroscopes: http://www.taroscopes.com/miscellanous-pages/medes.html 

5. König, F. C. (n.d.). Zoroaster. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Zoroaster-Iranian-prophet 

6. Mackey, A. G. (1873). Magi. In Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. 

7. Magi. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magi 

8. Magi. (2012, May 30). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Iranica: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/magi 

9. Magus. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/magus 

10. Magus. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Magus 

11. Pike, A. (1872). Morals & Dogma of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. 

12. Zoroaster. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroaster

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Triumphal Entry

by James C. Taylor, PGC-DC

He rode through the crowd with humility
On the back of an unbroken colt, 
To fulfill the historic prophecy 
That a Messiah would come for revolt.

A king who would come to save the world 
From the ills that besieged mankind, 
His banner would proudly be unfurled 
To save the oppressed and the blind.

He was pictured by people in different ways 
Some thinking his mission to be 
A warrior leader to end the days 
Of the harsh Roman tyranny.

Or those seeking justice from Herod's hand 
Who sent John to his Master above, 
But most of the people did not understand 
That His was a mission of love.

But He entered Jerusalem hailed as a king 
By the meek and the pure in heart, 
Who knew Him as one who healed and would bring 
Redemption, God's grace to impart.

He threw traders out of the temple to spare 
The Lord, who for his home grieves, 
"My house shall be called a house of prayer 
But you make it a den of thieves."

Christ taught and healed in God's holy place, 
The priests asked "whence do you preach?" 
They felt that his deeds were to them a disgrace 
As just priests had the power to teach.

His being the Christ was unsuspected 
When He quoted the psalm for the scorner, 
"The stone which the builders rejected 
Became the headstone of the corner."

He made enemies of the priests that day 
When he accused them of selfish denial, 
And they plotted to get Him out of the way 
With the help of a Roman tribunal.