Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Knight Templar at Rest

From "The Poetry Of Freemasonry" by Rob Morris

Resting in calm repose,
The fiercest blast that blows
And bows yon sturdy oaks on Bashan's height,
Can yield no influence here;
For many and many a year
Hath "slept in Jesus" this our stalwart Knight.
While rust corrodes his great cross-hilted sword,
The toil-spent Templar rests before the Lord.

He heard an inward call, —
"Leave home, leave country, all
That love you or are loved, — leave wealth and fame,
And with this ruddy Cross,
Count other things but dross,
To go and battle in your Master's name!
There, where I walked in early clays with men,
Go, I will meet you, striving there, again!"

Meekly he rose and went;
His hard-earned fortune spent
In the high cause for which he took the sword
He chose the lowliest place;
For nothing can abase
The servant when he imitates his Lord.
Yet where the strokes fell thickest midst the din
He listened, yearning for that voice again.

And here the Templar fell; Battling full long and well;
He fell beneath the point of Paynim spear;
But to his dying eye The Master's form drew nigh,
The Master's whisper blest his dying ear; —
"Well done, true Knight, inherit thy reward!
The servant is not greater than his Lord!" 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

100 Posts!!

Well, I've done it. I have hit 100 posts on my blog.  I hope to keep continuing my research on this blog and I hope that I have helped someone out there with their research into Masonic and medieval Templary.

Some future posts I am working on are:
  • The anniversary of the death of Jacques DeMolay
  • The Papal Bull disbanding the Templars
  • Knights Templar Easter Observance
  • Summaries on the Order of the High Priesthood and Order of the Silver Trowel
  • The Ideology and Psychology of Anti-Masons
  • The Structure of the Medieval Templars
  • The 1782 Congress of Wilhelmsbad
  • The Symbolism of Royal Arch Masonry
  • The Atbash Cipher and Baphomet
  • Rosicrucians, Sufis, and Templars
  • The Templar Rule
  • My future Masonic travels
  • And several poems (to be posted throughout the year)

Some Masonic Blogs...

There are many fantastic blogs out there written on and by Freemasons concerning many things.  They are listed in no particular order.

A running collection of reportage, reviews and ruminations.








Insights into the mind of a young Freemason










"Brother Chris Hodapp's [blog]...is thought provoking and is often the first place on the web where new ideas and matters of interest are posted."  
-Jim Tresner, Scottish Rite Journal





The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.







A Masonic blog providing education and enlightenment on Freemasonry. News, thoughts in the Freemason Community. Not telling the Masonic secrets just the news




















Implications and meditations concerning events and trends in the Masonic world. Masonic education, ethics, and philosophy. Freemasonry in the media and popular entertainment. Responses to Anti-Masonry. My personal experience as a Freemason.







A blog of interesting of news & commentary on liberal & esoteric Freemasonry & other stuff.










A Master Mason Study Group










A Masonic Society









The Philosophical Freemason
A Masonic blog about deeper subject matter

Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Masonic Monitor

Well, one of the Entered Apprentices of my Lodge found this monitor in a pawn shop and he let me borrow it for a few days to peruse through it. The book dates back to the late 19th century and contains not only the 3 degrees of Craft Masonry, but also the Mark Master degree, a Past and Present Master degree, Most Excellent Master degree, Royal Arch Masonry, Order of the High Priesthood, the Royal & Select Master degrees, and the Chivalric Orders.

The one noticeable thing about the Chivalric Orders though, was that Order of Malta wasn't in between the Order of the Red Cross and Order of the Temple, it appears after the Order of the Temple.

Here are some of photos of the monitor:

Book folded up next to a BIC pen






Entered Apprentice

Fellow Craft

Master Mason

Mark Master

Present or Past Master

Most Excellent Master

Royal Arch

Order of High Priesthood

Royal Master

Select Master

Knights of the Cross

Knights Templar

Knights of Malta

Charge to the Commandery

Royal Arch & Commandery Jewels

Lodge jewels

Templar Song

Templar Song (continued)
It's a fascinating read to see how much the degrees and rituals have changed. I hope you all enjoy these pictures.

Happy Presidents Day

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor the life and work of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is also commonly known as Presidents Day to honor the office of President.

This federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in the District of Columbia and later expanded, in 1885, to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22, but on January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

This holiday was widely called "Washington's Birthday" and it wasn't until around the 1980's that it was publicly advertised and referred to as "Presidents Day".

Fourteen of our Presidents have been Master Masons (some went on to appendant bodies), but we had some who were either members of DeMolay or who never advanced all the way to Master Mason.  The Master Masons are as follows:
George Washington (1st President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Nov. 4, 1752, passed to the degree of Fellow-Craft on Mar. 3, 1753, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on Aug. 4, 1753, in Fredericksburg Lodge (later No. 4), Virginia. He was named Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge #22, in  Alexandria, VA, April 28, 1788, and reelected Dec. 20, 1788, but there is no evidence he was ever installed or presided over any Masonic meeting.

James Monroe (5th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Nov. 9, 1775, in Williamsburg Lodge #6 at Williamsburg, VA., but there is no record of his taking any further degrees. The records of Cumberland Lodge #8 in Tennessee, June 8, 1819, show a reception for Monroe as "a Brother of the Craft." It is possible that he was Raised as a Master Mason in 1776.

Andrew Jackson (7th President): He was possibly Raised in 1800. His lodge is un-known but he is said to have attended at Clover Bottom Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. He was present in lodge at Greeneville in 1801 and acted as Senior Warden pro-tem. The records of St. Tammany Lodge #29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge #1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member. He was very active in Freemasonry and served as Grand Master of Tennessee from 1822 to 1823.

James Polk (11th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Columbia Lodge #31, Columbia, Tenn., 1820; and exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter #4 at Columbia in 1825.

James A. Buchanan (15th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Dec. 11, 1816, in Lancaster Lodge #43, at Lancaster, PA. He was Passed and Raised in 1817, Junior Warden of his Lodge between 1821-1822, Master of the Lodge in 1825, exalted in Royal Arch Chapter # 43, in 1826, and Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Johnson (17th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now #3 at Greeneville, Tenn. in 1851. He was probably a member of Greeneville Chapter #82, Royal Arch Masons, since he joined Nashville Commandery of Knights Templar #1 in 1859. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867.

James Garfield (20th President): Initiated and Passed in Magnolia Lodge #20, Columbus, Ohio, and Raised to a Master Mason in Columbus Lodge #3O in 1864. He affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge #246 in 1866 as well as with Pentalpha Lodge #23 in Washington, D. C. as charter member in 1869. He was exalted in Columbus Royal Arch Chapter 1866, and Knight Templar 1866. He also received up through the 14° Degree Scottish Rite 1872.

William McKinley (25th President): He is said to have been Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Hiram Lodge #10 in Winchester, West Virginia, in 1865, but William Moseley Brown is authority for the statement that this event took place in Hiram Lodge #21 at Winchester, Virginia in that year. McKinley affiliated with Canton Lodge #60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge #43. He received the Capitular degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884.

Theodore Roosevelt (26th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Matinecock Lodge #806, Oyster Bay, NY in 1901.

William H. Taft (27th President): He was Initiated an Entered Apprentice on Feb. 18, 1909. He was made a Master Mason by the act of "Mason at Sight" in Kilwinning Lodge #356, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1901. Evidently, that made him a member at large, for the Grand Lodge issued him a demit and he became a member of that lodge.

Warren G. Harding (29th President): He was Initiated in Lodge #70, Marion, Ohio, Jun 28, 1901. He received no other degree until after becoming U.S. President where he was Passed and Raised in Marion Lodge #70 in 1920; the Master Mason degree occurring on Aug. 27, 1920. He was received the Royal Arch degrees in Marion Chapter #62 in 1921; Knight Templar in Marion Commandery #36, in 1921, Scottish Rite (33°)and Shrine in 1921.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Holland Lodge #8, New York City, in 1911. He received the degrees of the Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory 1929, the Shrine in 1930.

Harry S. Truman (33rd President): He was Initiated on Feb. 9, 1909, in Belton Lodge #450, Grandview, Missouri, and, later in that year, he was Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. In 1911, Truman was the 1st WM of the new Grandview Lodge #618. He served as Grand Master of Missouri between 1940-1941. He served as Worshipful Master of Missouri Lodge of Research while U.S. President, as well as Masonic Ritualist, District Lecturer, and Deputy Grand Master for several years, buried with Masonic rites in Independence, MO, in televised ceremony. He also received the degrees of the Scottish Rite, eventually getting consecrated as a 33° Scottish Rite Mason.

Gerald Ford (38th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice on Sep. 30, 1949, in Malta Lodge #465, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Passed and Raised as a courtesy in Columbia Lodge #3, Washington, D.C., Apr. 20 &  May 18, 1951 respectively. He also received the degrees of the Scottish Rite.
 Thanks to Bessel who is a treasure trove of Masonic information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Golden State Chapter of Research of the Holy Royal Arch

On the Masonic Society Forum, there was advertised today the Golden State Chapter of Research of the Holy Royal Arch. It was chartered in 2003 under the direction of Most Excellent Companion Edgar Fentum.

This organization is dedicated to the study and research of the Capitular degrees of Freemasonry. Any Royal Arch Mason in good standing within a Chapter of any jurisdiction in amity with the Grand Chapter of California is welcome to apply for affiliation with the Golden State Chapter of Research. The one time affiliation fee is $10. No further dues are required.

There is a Library section that contains a great amount of research papers on Capitular Masonry.

Fratribus Benevolentia

The Beauceant


Simplistic in its design, but unique with its many meanings, the Beauceant was and is the standard of the Knights Templar. The Beauceant consisted of a black sec­tion above a white one. Note that some say it was hung from a perpendicular pole near the top of the vertical one so that both of the colors could be seen without any wind while the picture to the right shows it as if there was some wind animating it.

The etymology of "Beauceant" is not known, an unknown pilgrim around the 12th or 13th century, while visiting Jerusalem, stated:
when they go to war, a standard of two colors called 'balzaus' is borne before them. 
John J. Robinson, author of Born in Blood, believed that 'beau' meant 'beautiful', and in medieval times it is said to have translated as 'glorious' or 'magnificent'. So in a battle cry 'beauceant' could mean 'be noble' or 'be glorious'.

The Beauceant is composed of two colors and divided between two sections of equal width; the upper half of this standard is black, the lower half white. These colors hold some strong symbolic representation, and I am immediately reminded of the 1st Degree Lecture where it talks about the Mosaic Pavement on the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple where we are told:
The mosaic pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple and is emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil.
The colors of the Beauceant also remind us to be good and true to our friends and terrify the enemies of Christ. The black section can also depict the sins of the secular world that the Templar knights had chosen to leave while the second section was white depicting the purity that the order offered them, a sort of transformation of darkness to light. 

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.

The Beauceant was a rallying point during battles so they could easily regroup when separated.  Knights were also not allowed to retreat or stop fighting while the Beauceant was flying.

As the Beauceant was such an important symbol that the Marshall would select a group of Templars to protect it, to be led by the Confanonier, or Standard Bearer. The Standard Bearer is still an officer in the modern Masonic Templars and whose duty it is to protect the Standards of our Order.  Historically the duties of the Standard Bearer included being the paymaster and ensuring the equipment (to include the horses) was kept in working order. It should be noted that although he was referred to as the Standard Bearer he never carried the banner, but led the procession which carried and protected it.

The standard and its bearer are even relevant in today's military.  In the Fall of 2003, I was a Private First Class (PFC), I was assigned as appointed as the Standard, or rather Guidon, Bearer of my Company. As such I was supposed to be one of the most knowledgeable in Drill & Ceremony and protect the banner.  The First Sergeant (1SG) was considered to be the Keeper of the Guidon and can be compared to the Marshall of the medieval Templars.  I had the honor of being the Bearer while we deployed and took part in the change of command ceremony where I handed off the Guidon to the 1SG who passed it to the outgoing Commander who handed it to the Brigade Commanding officer who passed it to the incoming Commander, back to the 1SG, and finally back to me, accepting it under the Command. This personal experience has given me a great appreciation for the office of Standard Bearer as well as the Standard itself.

The jewel of the Standard Bearer (to the right) in the Masonic Knights Templar is a Plumb surmounted by the banner of the Order.
The plumb is one of the earliest and simplest instruments used in construction, the plumb and its line was an essential tool of the stone mason...to insure perpendicularity and right angles to that surface. And so it is that this tool was taken from the operative mason to the speculative mason as a symbol of the best of conduct, unequivocal uprightness, and constant integrity required to build a spiritual temple reflective of the best of one’s efforts.
A sym­bolic meaning of the Standard Bearer’s jewel then, might be that as Masonic Templars engaged in the struggle be­tween good and evil (represented by the banner), our conduct and integrity must be such as to stand the test of the Great Architect’s plumb.
References

1. Templar Studies : The Beauceant. (2009, February 20). Retrieved from Order of the Grail: http://orderofthegrail.blogspot.com/2009/02/templar-studies-beauceant.html  

2. Beauséant. (n.d.). Retrieved from English Freemasonry on the Island of Malta: http://englishfreemasonryonmalta.org/html/templar-beauseant.html  

3. Connor, G. C. (n.d.). Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor. Retrieved from Sacred Texts: http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/shib/shib15.htm  

4. Dafoe, S. (2006, August). Templar Punishment. The Working Tools magazine, p. 44.  

5. Dafoe, S. (2006, December). The Templar Beauséant. The Working Tools magazine, pp. 36-37.  

6. Dafoe, S. (n.d.). The Beauseant – Mackey’s Article. Retrieved from TemplarHistory: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/the-beauseant-mackeys-article/  

7. Dafoe, S. (n.d.). The Templar Beauseant. Retrieved from TemplarHistory: http://blog.templarhistory.com/2010/03/the-templar-beauseant/  

8. Denslow, R. V. (n.d.). A Templar Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/templar_encyclopedia.htm  

9. George L. Marshall, J. (2011, April). Some Symbolic Interpretations of the Commandery Jewels of Office. Knights Templar magazine, pp. 22-23.  

10. Knights Templars-Ranks and Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from History, Fantasy, and Swords: http://getasword.com/blog/608-knights-templars-ranks-and-organization/  

11. Lemmons, D. G. (2006, February 04). The Lesson of the Beauseant. Retrieved from http://www.knightstemplar.org/articles/0107/beauseant.pdf  

12.Guidon (United States). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guidon_%28United_States%29  

13.Knights Templar. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasterMason.com: http://www.mastermason.com/hiramdiscovered/Knightstemplar.html

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

I've started a Facebook page as a discussion group to complement this website. Enjoy and please join in the discussions.

I am also posting on my Twitter page: @KSigMason.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Levant Preceptory and the Masonic Templary reformation

With one of my previous posts, I talked about the modern Templar uniform in comparison to the garb worn by the Templars during the Crusades.  Lately there has been some discussion on the modern Templar uniforms and how the price has pushed many away from going in or being active with the Masonic Templars.

Brother Nick from the Millennial Freemason brought up using period garb like Levant Preceptory.

In his August 2011 article in the Knights Templar magazine, Brother Chris Hodapp, of Freemasons for Dummies, talks about the fading interest in the "paramilitary customs of marching in drill teams and rehearsing twelve-man openings." as well as shelling out the cash for the naval style dress uniform of the Victorian Age. He, along with many others, point out the lacking of Templar research that should be conducted in the Commandery, but like a lot of Masonic organizations, the education programs are almost none existent.

When one says "Templar", one usually thinks of chain-mail, broadswords, and steel helmets not black dress uniforms.  There seems to be a lack of connection to the medieval Templars. Seeing the problems facing Masonic Templary, Raper Commandery #1, out of Indiana, started Levant Preceptory who refer to themselves as a Period Order of the Temple Reenactment Unit.
 
According to Bro. Chris:
The goal was to create a medieval period degree team for conferring the Order of the Temple, as well as a promotional public face for Indiana Templary. The mission is not to represent modern Masonic Knights Templar as a variation on the Society for Creative Anachronism, but to spread the word that Christian chivalry and knighthood still exist in a modern world as an active part of the fraternity of Freemasonry.
They kept the Preceptory as an informal club connected to Raper Commandery so they didn't have to get a new charter and be required to purchase regulation uniforms or hold business meetings.
As an informal club, Levant has no separate officers, bylaws, dues, regulations, or requirements. Knights are simply expected to provide their own medieval uniforms and equipment, and to know their assigned cast parts in the standard ritual of the Order of the Temple.
- Christopher Hodapp
While the Preceptory works under Raper Commandery and their charter, the group encourages participation from all Sir Knights of Indiana. They didn't want to detract members from their own Commanderies and to keep it unique they wanted to perform the Order of the Temple only twice a year.

Their garb consists of a broadsword, steel helmet, chainmail hauberks, gauntlets & coifs, white tunics (with a red cross over the heart), and other essential equipment.  The current Armorer of Levant Preceptory, Sir Knight Robert Coleman, has a great knowledge of medieval period garb as well as outfitting men on a budget. The white tunics are made from a "heavy canvas duck material hand-sewn by Robert's wife" and custom fitted to each Knight.  To keep the white tunics clean the inside of them are lined with black material. The chain-mail can be made either out of steel or aluminum, depending on the need of the Knight. All of this can be purchased for as little as $300 which is about the same price as a feathered Chapeau.

They have created equipment for conducting the ceremony outside to include special made chairs, altar, and a tent to meet in.  These Sir Knights of Levant Preceptory have attracted a lot of attention not only in their state but across the nation, even performing in the surrounding states. Levant Preceptory has even appeared on a Templar documentary.

According to the previously mentioned Templar article:
In addition to conferring the Order of the Temple, Sir Knight James Dillman created a public ceremony suitable for non-Masons in which the Knights dramatize the night before the arrest of the order in France in 1307. At its first public presentation for a statewide gathering of DeMolay members and parents on the 700th anniversary of the arrests on October 13, 2007, the enthusiastic audience spent two hours afterwards asking questions, trying on the equipment, and bursting with excitement over seeing Templar Knights assembled as they had always imagined them.
This would be amazing to see and I hope to eventually to attend their presentation.

White it can be said that this isn't a solution to bringing Masonic Templary about, many young members are desiring something very similar to this kind of reformation.


Levant Preceptory has a Facebook page and a homepage if you would like to keep up on their current events as well as contact them.

To Chivalry...

May Common Sense never quell our love for high hearted adventure, nor dull expediency prevent our doing brave, splendid, foolish deeds. May we ever serve romance as we ride errant to and fro about a sunlit world. If we be not always wise, God send that we at least be admirable.

References

1. Hodapp, C. (2008, April 13). Levant Preceptory Confers Templar Order. Retrieved from Freemasons For Dummies: http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2008/04/levant-preceptory-confers-templar-order.html
 
2. Hodapp, C. (2011, August). Medieval Knighthood Lives In Indiana’s Levant Preceptory. Knights Templar magazine, pp. 10-13.  
 
3. Levant Preceptory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Indianapolis York Rite: http://freemasonsfordummies.com/brlodge/york2.html

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Scottish Rite Installation of Officers

Well, tonight the Boise Valley of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, installed their officers for the ensuing year.  The outgoing Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection presided as the installing officer and this was the first open installation in many, many years with a good turnout.

Now to bed to finish up school for this week then for a very busy weekend.

Grand College of Rites

Well, I submitted my petition to the Grand College of Rites. The Grand College of Rites of the United States of America is a "regular" Masonic body, dedicated to preserving the history and rituals of defunct and inactive Masonic orders. As I am dedicated to researching the history of Freemasonry, I don't know why I have not already joined this group.
The Grand College of Rites of the United States of America meets annually at the time and place of the Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America. See Masonic Week.
There history can seen here: History of the GCR. The Official Transactions of the Grand College of Rites of the United States of America is the "Collectanea".

I had first heard of the Grand College of Rites when I was researching the appendant bodies/organizations of Freemasonry as well as research organizations.

I can't wait to be accepted to this group with so many excellent Brothers and receive the volumes of books.  So much information, so much history.