Friday, July 13, 2018

Templar Biography: Hugh de Payens

Next to Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Order, Hugh de Payens is probably the most famous Templar Grand Master, being the founding Grand Master. In comparison to other Grand Masters of the order, Hugh de Payens is difficult to research and there is contradictory information out there. The most commonly cited historian for the First Crusade and the early years of the Templars is William of Tyre. William of Tyre was born around 1130, over 3 decades after the First Crusade and over a decade after the Templars were said to have been founded. William of Tyre didn't start writing his 23-volume history of the Middle East until 1170, 34-years after Hugh de Payens is said to have died.

Hugh de Payens was born in East Francia around 1070, the son of Theobald of Blois, a powerful nobleman in the region. The exact date and location is not known but is thought to be in a village known as Payens near Troyes south of Champagne or in the Burgundy region. The family lost much of its prestige when the father conspired against King Henry I of France and was defeated in 1044. This defeat forced the family to relinquish lands and flee to the Champagne region (northeastern France).

There are variations in his name depending on the language in which it is written: Hugues de Payens or Payns in French sources, Hugo de Peans, Hugo de Paganis in Late Latin, and Ugo de' Pagani in Italian sources. While many would see the name "paganis" and would assume the modern meaning of pagan, that of "nature worshipers." However, when researching the word "pagan" is Latin for "villager, rustic, or country-dweller" that was later used to indicate a heathen or one who adhered to the old gods after the Christianization of Roman towns and cities. If Hugh was born in a country village, "pagan" would have been an appropriate literal description of his birthplace.


Being the third son and the family losing much of its holdings, Hugh was destined to join a monastery, but as his older brothers died he became the successor to his father. In 1085 he was dubbed as a Knight and is mentioned in a charter as "Lord of Montigny." According to surviving documents, Hugh is said to have served in the court of the Count of Champagne. It was from these documents that the year of his birth is said to have been no later than 1170 as only a legal adult (16-years of age) could bear witness on legal documents. The Count of Champagne would have been a powerful ally to have as it is said that he was several times richer than the King of France and one of the kingdom's main feudalists. It is not known when he was married, but from extant documents, Hugh was married to a woman by the name of Elizabeth of Chappes (France) and had at least one child together named Thibaud, who would become abbot of Abbaye Sainte-Colombe de Saint-Denis-lès-Sens (southeast of Paris).

As there are no records to prove one way or the other, it is impossible to say whether or not Hugh de Payens took part in the First Crusade. What is known is Hugh de Payens was with the Count of Champagne during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1104. In 1105, Hugh de Payens returned to France, but returned to the Holy Land in 1114. He, along with a contigency of knights, entered the service of the Holy Sepulchre Canon to defend and protect pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem.

They first built the Tower of Destroit along the road from Haifa to Caesarea (northwest of Jerusalem along the coast). The most common belief is that in 1118 Hugh de Payens along with 9 knights founded the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Knights Templar. Michael the Syrian, Patriarch of Antioch, was another Templar historian and according to him, Hugh de Payens had 30-knights with him when the order was established. Baldwin II, the King of Jerusalem, gave the knights the Stables of Solomon as their residence as well as some villages. At the Council of Nablus in 1120, Warmund, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, donated some land to the Knights Templar.


Some legends surrounding the Templars seem to want to perpetuate the mysterious nature of the order and claim that the Knights Templar excavated a sacred treasure from the ruins of Solomon's Temple which prompted them to go to Rome in 1127 and which resulted in Papal recognition. A more logical reason for their travel west was that Hugh de Payens was sent by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, to gather more troops as the Latin Kingdom was losing territory to their Islamic opponents. 
During his travels through Europe, Hugh de Payens helped establish the Templar order in England and Scotland. They would have also been a famous and popular order when the Count of Champagne gave up his title, lands, and family to join the Knights Templar and serve under his former vassal.


Under the governance of Hugh de Payens, the Rule of the Order was written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, nephew of 
André de Montbard,
 and confirmed at the Council of Troyes in 1129 by Pope Honorius II. After this Council, Hugh de Payens returned to the Holy Land with new knights to help bolster the Templar order.


Hugh de Payens died on May 24, 1136, in the Holy Land. Some argue that he died in 1139 
after the Templars received Papal support and recognition by Pope Innocent II. Regardless of the exact date, he would have been in his 60s which was considered old age at the time and was the most likely culprit to his death. Hugh de Payens led the Templars for 18-years; tied with Guillaume de Beaujeu for time served and only second to Jacques DeMolay who served for 22-years. He left a legacy a strong foundation for the Templar order that would grow into a international military and financial powerhouse. He was succeeded as Grand Master by Robert de Craon.

References

1. Cobbold, D. (n.d.). Hugues de Payns. Retrieved from Project Beauceant: http://www.templiers.org/hugues-payns-eng.php 

2. Hugh de Payns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/275060/Hugh-de-Payns 

3. Hugues de Payens. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugues_de_Payens 

4. Hugues de Payens – The First Grand Master. (2010, March 31). Retrieved from Templar History: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/hugues-de-payens-the-first-grand-master/ 

5. Hugues de Payns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Hugues de Payns Commanderie: http://www.huguesdepayns.fr/hugues-de-payns.php 

6. Knights Templar Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from TimeRef: http://www.timeref.com/library/medieval_knights_templar_timeline.htm 

7. Pagan. (n.d.). Retrieved from Etymology Online: https://www.etymonline.com/word/pagan 

8. Wilson, P. (n.d.). Sir Hugh de Payns. Retrieved from GENI: https://www.geni.com/people/Sir-Hugh-de-Payns/6000000019302872420

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Officers of the Blue Lodge

The foundation, the center of activity, and the basic organizational unit for Freemasonry are the Blue Lodge, also known as a Craft Lodge. It is believed the term comes from the lodges (shelters) constructed at the building sites of cathedrals and castles during the Middle Ages. A Blue Lodge, in most jurisdictions, has the following officers: Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior Deacon Junior Deacon, Marshall, Chaplain, Senior Steward, Junior Steward, and Tiler. The first 5-officers are elected annually by the members of the Lodge while the rest are appointed by the Worshipful Master. Each of these Lodge officers wears an apron and collar with a symbol peculiar to that office. Each officer plays an important role in governing and supporting the Lodge. The health of a Lodge can be reflected by the officers so it is of the utmost importance that the Brethren choose wisely.

The Worshipful Master is the presiding officer or chief executive officer (CEO) of the Blue Lodge. Within the Lodge, he sits in the East, emblematic of the rising sun; regardless of the orientation of the building, the location of the Worshipful Master is referred to as East. He presides over monthly stated (business) meetings, the delegation of duties to all other Lodge officers, and the conferring of the three degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. While he is the ultimate authority within the Lodge, he is also responsible for everything within the Lodge and for his junior officers. While the Worshipful Master has a great amount of authority, he is restrained by both the Constitution and By-Laws of the Grand Lodge as well as the Lodge By-Laws; the Worshipful Master should be seen as an arbiter, not a dictator. The jewel of a Worshipful Master is the Square which teaches Masons and should remind the Master that as the Square is an emblem of morality and virtue, of right action, so to should we act with our fellow man. The name "Worshipful" has caused many misconceptions and myths about the role of the Master of the Lodge. "Worshipful" is an Old English term meaning "one deserving of respect". Masons do not worship the Worshipful Master. Non-English speaking jurisdictions refer to the Master as Venerable instead of Worshipful. The word "Master" is rooted in the Latin word "magister" meaning "chief, head, or teacher."

In the West of the Blue Lodge, sits the Senior Warden. He should be the Master's right-hand man and is comparable to a Vice President. In the absence of the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden presides over the Blue Lodge. According to Masonic tradition, it was the Senior Warden who paid the craftsmen their wages and to settle disputes among the Brethren. The Senior Warden is part of the security of the Lodge ensuring all present are Freemasons. The Senior Warden's jewel is the Level which symbolizes equality meaning that Masons meet on the level, without regard to social, political, or religious status. The word "Warden" comes from the Proto-Germanic word "wardon" meaning to "to watch or guard."


  

Sitting as third-in-command is the Junior Warden. Like the Senior Warden, the Junior Warden is comparable to a Vice President. In the absence of the Master and Senior Warden, the Junior Warden presides over the Lodge. While not universal, the Junior Warden is in charge of the food and festivities of the Lodge. On a more serious note, the Junior Warden serves as Prosecutor of the Lodge during Masonic trials. The jewel of the Junior Warden is the Plumb which reminds us to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man.

A Lodge is metaphorically said to be supported by three pillars denominated Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. The Pillar of Wisdom is represented by the Worshipful Master, the Pillar of Strength by the Senior Warden, and the Pillar of Beauty by the Junior Warden.

The chief financial officer of the Lodge is known as the Treasurer. He sits to the right of the Worshipful Master, often just behind or next to the Senior Deacon. He is responsible for all financial transactions of the Lodge. Due to the importance of this office, the Brethren should particularly careful in who they elect. The jewel of his office is a pair of crossed keys signifying he is the collector and distributor of all Lodge monies as he holds the keys to the treasury. The word "treasurer" comes from the French word "tresor" meaning "treasury" which itself means "funds or revenue".

 

The chief operations officer of the Lodge is the Secretary who sits to the left of the Worshipful Master. The Secretary is the backbone of the Lodge and needs to be a Mason with experience and detailed oriented. The Secretary keeps the records of all meetings, handles all correspondence for the Lodge, and numerous other administrative duties. The jewel of the Secretary is a pair of crossed quills representing a medium of record keeping. "Secretary" comes from the medieval Latin word "secretarius" meaning "clerk, notary, or confidant." Secretarius itself stems from the Latin word "secretum" meaning "a secret."

The first of the appointed officers is the Senior DeaconHe sits to the right of the Worshipful Master and is in close proximity as he is the messenger of the Worshipful Master. He also escorts visitors during introductions and candidates during the conferral of degrees. In a corporate environment, the Senior Deacon could be comparable to a manager. The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" meaning servant, attendant, or messenger. This etymological root is appropriate to this officer as he serves as the messenger of the Worshipful Master and Wardens. The jewel of the Senior Deacon is effulgent sun contained within the Square & Compasses.


 

Sitting to the right of the Senior Warden is the Junior Deacon. This officer, as the doorkeeper and inner guard of the Lodge, answer any alarms at the door and ensures the Lodge is secure from intrusion. Like the Senior Deacon, the Junior Deacon is also a messenger, but carrying messages between the Senior and Junior Wardens. The Junior Deacon is also comparable to a managerial position in the corporate world. The Junior Deacon's jewel is the crescent moon contained within the Square & Compasses.

Both Deacons carry staffs at the top of which is fixed the jewel of their office, but, in the early years of the UGLE, the staffs were topped by pine cones, but this would then change to doves that are also seen as messengers. The dove was also a symbol of peace and harmony, and the Deacons should remember they are officers of peace. One can see this during the initiation when the Senior Deacon is escorting the candidate. The Senior Deacon places himself between the candidate and the Altar, thus protecting the Altar from the uninitiated man, but once the candidate becomes a Master Mason, the Senior Deacon moves to his left side when escorting him.

The use of staffs by officers is very symbolic and has been used in a variety of cultures. The most obvious use is by the Greek god, Hermes, who was the messenger of the gods, just as the Deacons are the messengers within the Lodge, and who carried the caduceus. This wand was used to ward off evil and to ensure that he was unimpeded in his journey. Carrying a staff is a mark of authority and we see this with the king's scepter, the bishop's or verger's staff, the mace of Parliament, and, Biblically, with the staff of Moses. Now we can't talk about the Deacon's staffs without talking about the rods that are carried by the Stewards of the Lodge as one of the origin theories of these implements surrounds the Stewards of the King in England. These Stewards carried a white rod which was a symbol of their authority appointed by the King. Other officers carried rods such as the usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department who carried a black rod.

Sometimes referred to as the Master/Director of Ceremonies, the Marshal is the appointed officer in charge of processions, carries the flag during the opening of a Lodge, and, in Idaho, leads the Lodge in giving Grand Honors to distinguished guests. The Marshal (or MC), according to Idaho ritual, is the first officer he meets with a new candidate. Marshal comes from Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." The jewel for the Marshal is the crossed batons to remind us that this officer, not just in Freemasonry, has been used in arranging and directing ceremonial aspects of a gathering.


 

While Freemasonry is a secular fraternity, we still require our members to have a belief in the Supreme Being. In the opening and closing of every Lodge meeting, we have a prayer which is presided over by the Chaplain. The Chaplain sits to the left of and in front the Worshipful Master; in some jurisdictions, I've seen the Chaplain sitting right next to Worshipful Master in the East. This etymology of Chaplain comes from Old French "chapelein" meaning "clergyman" deriving from the Medieval Latin word "cappellanus" meaning the same. The jewel of the Chaplain is an opened book representing the Volume of the Sacred Law.

Sitting in front of the Junior Warden in the South are the Senior and Junior Stewards. Their duties can cross a wide spectrum of duties from assisting the Junior Warden in providing refreshment and Secretary in collecting monies to preparing a candidate for receiving the degrees of Freemasonry. The word "Steward" is rooted in the Old English words "stiward" and "stigweard" meaning "house guardian" and "housekeeper" which are rooted in Proto-Germanic words meaning "guards." The Steward's positions would be comparable to a Supervisor in the corporate world. The jewel of their office is the Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty which denotes the fruits of labor and represents a job well done.


 
The final appointed officer of the Lodge is the Tiler. The Tiler is the outer guard and ensures the Lodge is secure from cowans and eavesdroppers. The jewel of the Tiler is the sword which is also the implement of his office. He is given no scabbard to symbolize that he is to have his sword always drawn and be ever ready to defend the Lodge. It is the Tiler along with the Junior Deacon and Senior Warden who ensure the complete security of the Blue Lodge. The word "Tiler (sometimes spelled Tyler) is derived from the Latin word "tegere" meaning "to thatch, cover, or roof." In Operative Masonry, a Tiler was one who closed in the building and hid its interior from outside viewing and influenced the name of the officer who would guard the entrance of the Speculative Lodge.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Ancient City of York

We are taught in the Blue Lodge (sometimes referred to as Craft Masonry or the Symbolic Degrees) that Freemasonry is a progressive science taught through degrees. When one attains the Sublime Degree of Master Mason he has attained the highest degree in Freemasonry, but he should not be content with stagnation and should continue to seek further light in Freemasonry. One of the pathways a Mason may take in his continued education is the York Rite. It is important to remember that the York Rite, or any other body within the Masonic umbrella, is not considered in higher in rank than the Master Mason degree, but rather is just a continuation for those seeking more light in Freemasonry. The York Rite of Freemasonry derives its name from the English city of York and surrounds the legend of King Athelstan (grandson of Alfred the Great), who reigned over a thousand years ago and is considered the first King of All England. From the Regius Poem or Halliwell Manuscript, King Athelstan is said to have granted the first charters to Masonic guilds at the legendary Grand Assembly at York which was held in 926 A.D. and which was presided over by King Athelstan. The city has been controlled by Romans, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans; and has been known by various names such as Eboracum, Jórvík, and Eoforwīc before being known as York. York was the location to many historic events and legends: the Roman Emperor Constantine was proclaimed Emperor at York in 306 AD, Athelstan's Assembly in 926 AD, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, the War of the Roses, the English Civil War, and the birth of Guy Fawkes.


The ancient city of York has a rich history dating back nearly 2,000-years, but there is archaeological evidence that a Mesolithic people settled in the region between 8,000 and 7,000 BC. It is located where the rivers Ouse and Foss meet. It was originally named Eboracum when it was founded by the Roman Ninth Legion in 71 AD which served as the capital of the Roman Province of Britannia Inferior then later the kingdoms of Saxon kingdom of Deirwa, Viking Kingdom of Jórvík and Northumbria. At the time of Roman occupation in 43 AD, there was a tribe known as Brigantes who fought and lost to the Roman Legion. Initially, it was merely a fort, but grew into a town. The name of Eboracum is believed to be derived from the Brythonic word "Eborakon" which is a combination of "eburos" meaning "yew-tree" and "-āko(n)" meaning "place." The 12th-century chronicler, Geoggrey of Monmouth, suggested that the name derived from a legendary king named Ebraucus, but there is no evidence to support that theory.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, York fell under the governance of the Saxons who called it Eoforwīc or Eoforīc, which means "wild-boar town" or "rich in wild-boar". It is believed that the Saxons were confused "Ebor" meaning "yew tree" with "Eofor" meaning "wild-boar." The Saxons originally came to Britain as mercenaries in the Roman Empire. In the early 7th century the kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia combined to make the Kingdom of Northumbria.

York was captured in 627 AD by King Edwin who made it his capital. The precursor of York Minster was erected in the same year and allowed for King Edwin to be baptized as a Christian. A stone church was built a few years later and dedicated to St. Peter. Under Edwin and his successors, Christianity began to spread among the Britains which caused York to become an ecclesiastical center, second only to Canterbury. From 735 onward, it would be a seat for an Archbishop. The church in York burned down in 741 AD and was replaced by a larger church containing no less than 30 altars.

After the Viking invasion and conquest of the 9th century, York (then called Jórvík) was a major trading route and capital for Vikings. The word York is rooted in the Old Norse word "Jórvík" which means "wild boar". The city prospered under the massive trading as archaeologists have found luxury goods from as far away as Byzantium (modern day Turkey) and the Arabian Gulf have been found side by side along with local goods. 

The street names of York are a reminder of the city's history. Many of the streets end with "-gate", but it does not indicate that a gate was or is along that street. "-Gate" comes from the Danish word "gata" meaning "street." If there is or was a gatehouse located on a street, the street name is followed by "Bar" (i.e. Micklegate Bar). The Vikings lost control of York in 954 AD when King Eadred, brother of King Athelstan, defeated Eric Bloodaxe.

After the Battle of Hastings, in 1066 AD, England was left to the Normans under the leadership of William the Conqueror. While he had to suppress small rebellions, he took York without a battle and made it his base of operations for northern Britain. York was captured and sacked by both rebels and William's forces who ultimately kept the city and rebuilt it in 1069 AD. The city of York continued to prosper, but like the rest of Europe faced occasional plagues. in 1212, King John gave York a charter that gave the citizens the ability to self-government and which lasted until 1974.

While it is commonly referred to as York Minster, its official name is "Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York." Under the direction of Walter de Gray, Archbishop of York, construction for the building began in 1220, but would not be completed until 1472. Popular for the time, the Minster was built using Gothic style architecture. St. Williams College was built in 1461 as a home for priests of York Minster. This college is named after William Fitzherbert who was Archbishop of York in 1153. The minster is the seat for the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England. The word "minster" derives from the Late Latin word "monasterium" meaning "the church of a monastery." Minster is an honorific title used for particular churches in England: York Minster in York, Westminster in London and Southwell Minster in Southwell.

The city of York was at the center of the War of the Roses (1455-1487), a series of civil wars, fought between the House of Lancaster (red rose) and the House of York (white rose) which resulted in the elimination the male lines of both families and the rise of the Tudor Dynasty; the Tudors were a distant relative of the Lancasters. Both of these houses were cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet, who ruled as England's king during the 14th century. The Yorks were descended from the female relatives of Edward’s second and fourth sons, while the Lancasters were related to Edward’s third son, John of Gaunt. When the throne was contested, both families claimed the throne. 

 

Between 1642 and 1646 England was torn apart by a civil war (primarily a class war) fought between the Royalists (supporters of Charles I) and the Parliamentarians. York was considered a Royalist stronghold but was captured by Parliamentarians in 1644. Once the civil war ended, York began to grow again and by 1660 was the third largest city in England, next to London and Norwich. in the 17th century, trade began to decline in York due to rise in trade from the American colonies.

With the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) and the rise of the railway system, York became a hub for northern England. The Lord Mayor, George Hudson, was instrumental in bringing the railroad to York in 1839. Local businesses benefited from this improved transportation system and the railway itself became a major employer in York. One industry that came to York was confectionery and the making of cocoa; York, today, is remembered for its railway and confections. By 1850, thirteen trains a day ran from York to London and, by 1877, York had the largest train station in England. By the next century, York began to prosper and became a trading center for England and Europe. York took damage in World War II during German bombing raids.

Today it stands as a center for services such as education and health services as well as for its cultural tourist attractions such as the Shambles (inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter), York Minster, National Railway Museum, and Jorvik Viking Centre. York has been an epicenter of history, and, as a Christian and a Freemason, York is definitely on my "List of Places to See."

References

1. Agathangelou, C. (2017, February 9). The Top 7 Historical Sites In York. Retrieved from Culture Trip: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/articles/the-top-7-historic-sites-in-york/ 

2. Andrews, E. (2015, May 22). 9 Things You Should Know About the Wars of the Roses. Retrieved from History Channel: https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-should-know-about-the-wars-of-the-roses 

3. Chawla, N. (2009, September 02). A Brief History of York. Retrieved from Nouse: http://www.nouse.co.uk/2009/09/02/a-brief-history-of-york/ 

4. History of York. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_York 

5. Lambert, T. (n.d.). A Short History of York, Yorkshire, England. Retrieved from A World History Encyclopedia: http://www.localhistories.org/york.html 

6. Lambert, T. (n.d.). The History of York. Retrieved from Pictures of England: http://www.picturesofengland.com/history/york-history.html 

7. Legend of York. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite Sovereign College of North America: http://www.yrscna.org/ 

8. Minster. (n.d.). Retrieved from Etymology Online: https://www.etymonline.com/word/minster 

9. Ross, D. (n.d.). Medieval York. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/medieval.htm 

10. Ross, D. (n.d.). Roman York. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/roman.htm 

11. Ross, D. (n.d.). Viking York. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/viking.htm 

12. Ross, D. (n.d.). York During Civil War. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/civilwar.htm 

13. Ross, D. (n.d.). York History - Saxon York. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/saxon.htm 

14. Ross, D. (n.d.). York History - Victorian York. Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/cities/york/victorian.htm 

15. Stoyle, M. (2011, February 17). Choosing Sides in the English Civil War. Retrieved from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/choosingsides_01.shtml 

16. The City of York. (n.d.). Retrieved from Yorkshire: http://www.yorkshire-england.co.uk/YorkCity.html 

17. Viking Place Names. (n.d.). Retrieved from Jorvik Viking Centre: https://www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk/the-vikings/viking-place-names/ 

18. Wars of the Roses. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_the_Roses 

19. York. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York 

20. York - At a Glance. (n.d.). Retrieved from Visit Britain: https://www.visitbritain.com/us/en/england/northern-england/york#LICyCmBIhkBRRZsX.97 

21. York, a Brief History of One of England's Finest Cities. (2014, February 7). Retrieved from Shutters and Sunflowers: http://shuttersandsunflowers.com/york-a-brief-history-of-one-of-englands-finest-cities/

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth of July

I hope everyone enjoys today and remembers the sacrifice and work of our Founding Fathers.


Happy 4th of July!!!



Monday, July 2, 2018

They All Came Just for Me

By Richard L. Jenkins


Something big is going on here. 
Or so I thought that night, 
As the Masons came to gather round 
the Great and lesser lights. 

One from here and one from there 
From places far and wide, 
They came to do, I knew not what, 
As they gathered there inside. 

But from each man I was greeted 
With a smile and voice of cheer. 
One said, so you're the candidate. 
The reason that we're here. 

I scarcely knew just what he meant, 
For this was my first degree. 
There must be much for them to do 
Before they got to me. 

Surely these guys would not travel 
for the sake of just one man. 
Yes, there must be much for them to do, 
Before my part began. 

The Brother Tiler was my company 
As I waited at the door 
To step into this brand new realm 
I had not known before. 

They shared with me the three Great Lights 
and some tools of the trade, 
That I might learn a thing or two 
of how a man be better made. 

When at last I had been seated 
In this brotherhood of men 
The Master then began to bring 
The meeting to an end. 

And with all things then completed, 
They stayed a little more, 
To eat and drink and share a laugh 
Before heading toward the door. 

But as we left I understood 
And then began to see. 
That they all came for one reason. 
They all came just for me. 

Dear brothers I pray every lodge 
Will make new ones like me, 
Feel as welcome as these brothers did, 
When they held my First Degree

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beautiful Stone of the Masonic Arch

By Rob Morris


If I were the Master Grand, 
If I were the King of Judah now, 
And of that sage Tyrian band 
Who wore the cockle shell on the brow, 
I'll tell you what I'd do: 
I'd choose my brightest Parian rock, 
No flaw or crevice in the block, 
And right above the ivory throne, 
I'd set the beautiful stone, 
The beautiful, beautiful stone.

I'd take from Lebanon the trees, 
The cedars fragrant, tall and fair, 
And hardened by the centuries. 
And them to the Mount I'd bear 
Hiram should them prepare. 
From Ophir's golden sands I'd drain 
The yellow, choice and glitt'ring grain, 
And these in mystic form should crown 
The white and beautiful stone, — 
The beautiful, beautiful stone.

Then unto every shrine I'd go, 
To every lorn and humble grave, 
And all the prayers and tears that flow 
From women meek, and manhood brave, 
And orphan lone, I'd have 
Prayers for sweet incense should arise, 
And holy tears for sacrifice 
I'm sure that God Himself would own 
And bless the beautiful stone, — 
The beautiful, beautiful stone.

This beautiful stone, its name should be 
Each loving Mason loves it well, 
'Tis writ in glory, — Charity, — 
Best word the earth can tell, 
Best word the heavens can tell 
Above the ivory throne so bright, — 
Were I the Master Grand to-night, 
Where God and man alike would own 
I'd set the beautiful stone, 
The beautiful, beautiful stone.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Day of Light

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and it is also the Feast Day for the Archangel Uriel whose name translates as "God is my Light." In many churches and texts, you hardly hear about this angel, but this being is one most important in the angelic hierarchy and in his duties to God.

From sacred texts, Uriel is said to have guarded the Gates of Eden as well as being the guiding angel that led John the Baptist and his family to Egypt during the massacre ordered by King Herod. Uriel is also said to have warned Noah about the impending Great Flood that God was sending.

Uriel is considered an Archangel of Light as he guards and protects the time of summer and the summer solstice. He is the Angel of Wisdom (sometimes referred to as "Keeper of the Mysteries") as he is said to carry the supreme knowledge of all that is; likely, this is from his being also one of the Angels of Presence (an angel who is allowed to enter the very presence of God). He is associated with the Suit of Coins (or Pentacles) in Tarot and as such he is sometimes depicted holding a coin or a pentacle while at others he is shown holding a book to denote the divine wisdom he holds.

This archangel is associated with the element of Earth and the cardinal direction of North. It might seem ironic that, particularly in Masonic circles, the North is associated with darkness, but I believe he is associated with North because, like the element of Earth, it is associated with death or mortality as Uriel is referred to as the Angel of Death. He should not be feared though as he will bring us from this mortal shell and returning to Wholeness with the Most High God.


Tarot Card of the Month: The Chariot

The Tarot Card for June is the Chariot. The Chariot is the Seventh of the Major Arcana in Tarot card decks. The Chariot symbolizes the Moon, the element Earth, the Zodiacal sign of Cancer, and associated with the archangel Gabriel whose name means “God is my Strength.”

The Chariot represents forward movement, success, overcoming obstacles, and traveling. The Chariot is associated with a triumphant victory as well as a departure from traditional ideas. It should also be remembered that it is very little you can do to stop the onward motion of the chariot.

The card depicts an armor-clad male figure standing in a chariot. The man has a yellow crescent moon with a blue face on each shoulder, a square on his breastplate, alchemical symbols on his garments, stars in the crown upon his head, and carrying a wand. A canopy supported by four pillars with a veil that is light blue and covered in white stars. The chariot is cube-shaped and has a winged shield on the front. The chariot is being drawn by two sphinxes: one is black and one is white.

Being clad in armor represents the Charioteer's preparedness to work for results. The moons symbolize new beginnings. The cube shape of the chariot is to represent stability and perfection of work. The crown of stars represents that the Charioteer is enlightened while the square on his chest symbolizes the material world. The 5-pointed star is a symbol used by many cultures and religions; Christians used it to represent the five wounds Christ suffered on the cross. The 6-pointed stars represent the Seal of Solomon, a common talisman. The 8-pointed star on the crown symbolizes balance, harmony, order, and justice. Carrying a wand or a staff is a mark of authority and we see this with the king's scepter, the bishop's or verger's staff, the mace of Parliament, and, Biblically, with the staff of Moses. I find many similarities between the star-covered canopy with the paper: Celestial ClothingThe two sphinxes being opposing colors and facing different directions represent balance and duality: male and female, light and darkness, life and death, material and spiritual. They also remind us of the pillars of the High Priestess. As one sphinx represents emotions and one intellect, the charioteer must master so they will draw the chariot in one direction. The concept of a "union" is one of the more important messages of the Chariot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Emerald Tablets

In a previous article, Introduction to Hermeticism, I briefly discuss Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary figure who is credited with the philosophical movement known as Hermeticism. Hermes Trismegistus is credited with writing the Corpus Hermeticum, one of the foundation documents of Hermeticism, as well as the Emerald Tablets and many other sacred writings. The Emerald Tablets are considered a pillar of Western alchemy and esotericism. The emerald tablets are a series of stones supposedly inscribed with the secrets of the universe, particularly the secrets to alchemy.

While there are a variety of legends that date the tablets to various times of antiquity, the oldest documented source is in "Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi'l-`Ilal Kitāb sirr al-ḫalīqa" (كتاب سر الخليقة و صنعة الطبيعة أو كتاب العلل للحكيم بلنياس), a composite of earlier works attributed to Balinas (possibly a pseudonym of Apollonius of Tyna) and dated to sometime between the 6th and 8th centuries. In this book, Balinas lays out the framework of the Emerald Tablets. He says he found them in a vault beneath a statue of Hermes in the city of Tyana (now located in Turkey).

The Emerald Tablets would go on to be a centerpiece for medieval alchemical movements. It was first translated to Latin the 12th century by Hugo of Santalla. After that, it has been translated by Johannes Trithemius, Roger Bacon, Michael Maier, Albertus Magnus, Isaac Newton, Aleister Crowley, and Helena Blavatsky.

There are variety of legends as to the origins of the Emerald Tablets. The most common is that they were authored by Thoth, an Atlantean Priest-King. Thoth is said to have been an immortal who chose when he would leave the mortal world. At the destruction of Atlantis, he established a colony near ancient Egypt. He is said to have ruled over other colonies located near Central and South America which is said to influence the Mayan culture.

Thoth ruled from 52,000 BC to 36,000 BC, and at the end of his reign, legend states, that it was him who built the Great Pyramid at Giza, not Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), in order to safeguard the ancient wisdom of Atlantis. According to legend, the Great Pyramid of Egypt has been and still is considered a temple of initiation into the mysteries. The pyramid was placed over another structure known as Great Halls of Amenti. As time progressed in ancient Egypt, Thoth was adopted into their pantheon, being known as the God of Wisdom and Scribe of the Gods. Thoth is said to have three reincarnations, the last being Hermes Trismegistus who authored the Emerald Tablets and which were left with the pyramid priests who protected the Great Halls of Amenti.

The Emerald Tablets are described as being ten in number, each composed of a green stone impervious to the ravages of time, resistant to all substances, and interconnected to each other by gold rings. The Tablets were written in an ancient Atlantean language where the characters respond to attuned thought waves, releasing the associated mental vibration in the mind of the reader. The Tablets contain the history of Atlantis, its destruction, the diaspora of Thoth and his followers to Egypt, the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Halls of Amenti, and the keys to alchemy and ancient wisdom which would result in atonement.

Some legends of the Tablets tie it in with the Abrahamic religions where it is believed that a son of Adam and Eve wrote them, and that they were once held within the Ark of the Covenant. Within Christianity, it has been praised by some while others have condemned it as heretical.

The Emerald Tablets have a foggy history which has given rise to many myths and legends surrounding these artifacts and its assumed author, Hermes Trismegistus. It is said that during the 16th century, Hermes Trismegistus was so revered that his teachings started to replace Aristotle's in European school. So too today are the Tablets still highly regarded by those who seek to truly understand them and not just a temporary fancy.

References

1. Ḏḥwty. (2014, August 10). The Legendary Emerald Tablet. Retrieved from Ancient Origins: http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/legendary-emerald-tablet-001956 

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

3. ibn Hayyan, J. (n.d.). The Emerald Tablets of Hermes. Retrieved from Sacred Texts: http://www.sacred-texts.com/alc/emerald.htm 

4. Saran, A. (2016, July 5). Summary of "The Emerald Tablets of Thoth". Retrieved from Exemplore: https://exemplore.com/advanced-ancients/The-Emerald-Tablets-of-Thoth-Part-A-Summary 

5. The Corpus Hermeticum and Hermetic Tradition. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Gnostic Society Library: http://gnosis.org/library/hermet.htm 

6. The Emerald Tablet. (n.d.). Retrieved from Crystalinks: http://www.crystalinks.com/emeraldtablet.html 

7. The Emerald Tablets of Thoth. (n.d.). Retrieved from Crystalinks: http://www.crystalinks.com/emerald.html 

8. What Is the Emerald Tablet? (n.d.). Retrieved from Alchemy Lab: https://www.alchemylab.com/what_is_the_tablet.htm

9. Shah, A. (n.d.). The Emerald Tablets – A 38,000 Year Old Alchemist’s Guidebook Shrouded in Mystery. Retrieved from Ancient Explorers: https://ancientexplorers.com/blogs/news/the-emerald-tablets-a-38-000-year-old-alchemist-s-guidebook-shrouded-in-mystery

10. Hauck, D. W. (n.d.). A Hyper-History of the Emerald Tablet. Retrieved from Alchemy Lab: https://www.alchemylab.com/hyper_history.htm

Monday, June 4, 2018

Distinguished Service Awards

As I mentioned in Order of the Secret Vault, there are a number of awards and honors found within the York Rite. The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International has the following awards: the Sweetheart Award, the Ritualist Jewel, the Ephraim Kirby Award, and the Distinguished Service Awards. The latter, the Distinguished Service Awards are not meant for those in the Grand Chapter line, but for those Companions working in the quarries. While you may see Past Grand High Priests listed as recipients, they earned the award before assuming the Grand East. There are three types of this award: bronze, silver, and gold.

Bronze Medal
The Distinguished Service Medal in Bronze, also known as the Bronze Medal, is an award given by the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International to a Companion who has contributed the most to Royal Arch Masonry in a given jurisdiction. Any Royal Arch Mason may nominate another Companion for this award. Nominations for each Grand Chapter are sent to the Grand High Priest who picks the final nomination before sending it onto the General Grand Chapter for approval.

The Distinguished Service Medal in Silver, or Silver Medal, is awarded to those Companions who have given outstanding service to Royal Arch Masonry in a given York Rite Region. This award is presented only once during each Triennium to a Royal Arch Mason of one of the affiliated Grand Chapters of each York Rite Region. Nominations are sent to the Deputy General Grand High Priest of each Region before being sent to the General Grand Chapter.

The Distinguished Service Medal in Gold, or Gold Medal, is awarded to those Companions who have shown exceptional national or international achievement in the Arts and Sciences, in Public Service, and in Business and the Learned Professions. No more than three Companions receive this award a Triennial Convocation.