Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Father of the American Rite

Considered by many to be the Father of the American Rite, or more commonly known as the York Rite, Thomas Smith Webb was born on October 30, 1771, in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up as an apprentice to a printer in Boston then in New Hampshire. It was in Keene, New Hampshire, that he took the three degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry in the Rising Sun Lodge in 1790. In 1793, he moved to Albany, NY, and established a paper staining factory.

Thomas Smith Webb was the author of Freemason's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry, which had a very significant impact on the development of the Masonic ritual, particularly the York Rite degrees and orders, in the United States. On September 14, 1797, published this book which was a compendium of William Preston's work as well as his own alterations, additions, and works. This book plays such a significant that many Grand Lodges in America still follow it today.  It is to Webb we owe the charges of the degrees and the words regarding many an Emblem, including the Bee-Hive, Pot of Incense, Book of Constitutions, Sword and Naked Heart, All Seeing Eve, Anchor and Ark, Forty Seventh Problem, Hour Glass and Scythe.

One of the biggest accomplishments and momentous occasions for Thomas Smith Webb, was that he presided over the convention that was held in Boston in October of 1797, which would lead to the formation of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons (which is the oldest national Masonic body in the US).  At the meeting that was held in Providence, Rhode Island, in January of 1799, he presented a Constitution which was adopted. Through his work, what would become the Grand Encampment of Knights of the United States of America would be established in New York City in 1816.

In 1799, he moved to Providence where he spent most of his remaining years, and here in St. John's Commandery, you can find the original draft of the Grand Encampment Constitution in his handwriting.

To be counted among his other Masonic accomplishments, he also served as the first Grand Commander of what is now the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Rhode Island, and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.

He died on July 6, 1819 during a trip in the Midwest in Cleveland, Ohio. A Masonic burial service was held in Cleveland and memorial services were conducted in many cities. Eventually his body was taken to Providence and reburied in the West Burying Grounds. That cemetery was later converted to a park so the body was moved to the North Burial Ground where there was a marble monument erected by the Grand Lodge, which makes that three times.

This man was a dedicated Mason and his record of accomplishment is second to none.

References

1. Abbott, Jr., N. G. (2007, July). Founding Father of the York Rite. The Working Tools magazine, pp. 28-30.

2. Condon, R. M. (n.d.). Thomas Smith Webb: Masonic Ritualist. Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/webb2.html

3. Redmond, A. (2006). The Complete History Of The Epoch Making Thirty-First Triennial Conclave Of The Grand Encampment Knights Templar Of The U.S. With A Concise History Of Templarism From Its Inception. Kessinger Publishing, LLC.

4. Ron, B. (2001, June 16). The Rituals of American Freemasonry. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/ebooks/fm_freemasonry/Blaisdell_-_The_Rituals_of_American_Freemasonry.pdf

5. Thomas Smith Webb. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana: http://www.la-mason.com/stb54.htm

6. Thomas Smith Webb. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Smith_Webb

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chapter of Rose Croix

The second body of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Chapter of Rose Croix. This body consists of the 15° through the 18°.

Here is a brief description of the degrees:

15° - Knight of the East or Sword

This degree teaches that it is not possible to keep people in slavery once they know the value of liberty and can decide for themselves how to define it. Likewise, it is not possible to defeat Masonry by attacking it; for we are building the Temple of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the souls of men and nations.

The lessons of this degree teach us to rebuild the Masonic temple (figurative, intangible, symbolic) of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the souls of men and of nations.



The apron is crimson velvet. On the flap is an embroidered gold bleeding head over crossed swords. In the center are three nested gold triangles formed from chains with triangular links. These represent the chains on the human intellect; tyranny, superstition and privilege. The velvet signifies that the honors of Masonry are more precious than the gift of kings.



The cordon of a Knight of the East is a broad, green watered ribbon, worn as a baldric, from the left to right, without a jewel.




Also among the clothing of this degree is a broad sash of white watered silk edged on the upper side and fringed with gold on the lower. It is worn around the waist with the ends hanging down on the left side. On one end there is a gold arched bridge with the letters L.D.P. over the arch. Suspended from the right side is a small silver trowel.

16° - Prince of Jerusalem

This degree emphasizes the fact that one must use  every means to be beneficial for the society in which one  lives. We not only set our own example for our society,  but we enlist the aid of our Brothers. Together, Masons  are custodians of freedom. Our charge is to leave a  noble heritage to those who follow us in this world. We  build temples of the Living God in our hearts by  following the truths of justice, equity, morality, wisdom,  labor, fidelity and Brotherhood - so that the collective  liberties for mankind can be protected.

The lessons of this degree teach us to direct and aid those who labor to build the Symbolic Temple, to judge equitably and fairly, to provide aid in a Constitutional manner to fellow members of this degree, keep faith in the practice and beneficence of God, and press forward with hope for the persecuted and the oppressed. 




The apron is of crimson, lined and edged with the color saffron. On the flap is an equal balance, held by a hand of justice. In the middle of the apron is a representation of the Second Temple, on one side of which is a sword lying across a buckler, and on the other, a square and a triangle. On the left and right sides are the Phoenician letters equivalent to the Greek letters Alpha and Theta. The colors, crimson bordered with that of the dawn (saffron), are symbolic of faith in the justice and beneficence of God, and of the dawn of hope for the persecuted, proscribed and oppressed. The equal balance, held by the hand of justice, is a symbol of righteousness and impartiality in judgment and of that equilibrium which the Deity maintains throughout the universe. The square and triangle are the appropriate emblems of your Masonic character. Masons, in this and higher degrees, wear the apron in order that they may never forget that they attained their high rank and dignity by means of Masonic labor; and that, remembering their first estate, they may be courteous and kind, as well as just, to the brethren of the lower degrees.



The cordon is a watered saffron-colored ribbon, four inches broad, bordered with gold. It is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. On it are embroidered a balance, a hand of justice holding a sword, a poniard, five stars, and two small crowns. At the end hangs a small silver trowel. The cordon of this degree symbolizes, by its colors, the dawn and light. Many symbols are embroidered on the cordon. The balance is a symbol of judicial impartiality. The hand holding the sword of justice is an emblem of that stern severity which is sometimes necessary to repress crime. The poniard or dagger represents that with which Ehud slew the oppressor Eglon, King of Moab (See Judges 3:15-28). The five stars represent the first five Princes of Jerusalem. The two crowns, promised by the Prophet to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, are symbols of civil and religious authorities. The trowel is a symbol of the Mason-builders of the Temple.


17° - Knight of the East and West

In this degree, Masonry says only one thing - differences in religions will not matter, and these differences will not hinder people to live together in peace if all people gather sincerely around the belief and concept of the GAOTU. It is sufficient only to keep one's heart pure, to believe in God, and to respect the religious feelings and ideas of others. In this way, people who meet, respect and love one another will not find it difficult to understand  that no one is lying, that truth prevails in people's words  and deeds.

The lessons of this degree teach us to teach the truths that are hidden in allegories and concealed by the Symbols of Freemasonry, that loyalty to God is mans primary allegiance, and governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall.

The jewel is a heptagonal (seven-sided) medal, half gold and half silver or mother of pearl. These two colors are emblems of the sun and moon, themselves symbols of the Egyptian deities Osiris and Isis, who represent the generative and productive powers of nature, illustrated in Masonic Symbolism by the columns Jachin and Boaz as the active and passive forces manifested in nature (Morals and Dogma, p. 202). On one side are engraved, at the angles, the same letters as are on the capitals of the columns in the ceremony and possessing the same meaning, that of the last seven of the Sephiroth of the Kabalah. A star is over each. In the center, on the same side, is a lamb, lying on a book with seven seals, on which seals are, respectively, the same letters, though shown in this representation as the Roman equivalents. On the reverse side are two crossed swords, points upward; their hilts rest on an even balance. In the corners are the initials in Greek of the names of the Seven Churches (Revelation 2 and 3).



The apron is of yellow silk, lined and edged with crimson; the colors are emblematic of the dawn. Its triangular shape is symbolic of the Deity in His first three emanations. In the center is a gold Tetractys formed of 10 Hebrew Yods. They represent the ten Sephiroth (or manifestations of Deity) on the Tree of Life in the Kabalah.



The order is a broad, white watered ribbon, worn from the right to the left. It is crossed by a black one of equal width, worn from left to right. The jewel is suspended from the latter. The two colors are symbolic of the two principles of good and evil as explained in the dualist doctrines of Zoroaster and Manes.

18° - Knight Rose Croix




This degree teaches that, in reality, what causes us to be  immortal is affection; is love. Only if one loves is he  conscious that he lives, and that he therefore loves life. As Masons, we should practice virtue that it may produce  fruit. We should have faith in God, mankind and  ourselves. And we should be loving men. Masonry teaches that, so long as a man is loved, so long as he is remembered with love; he continues living in this way even in his grave. And a brother who conveys this image  and this message

The lessons of this degree teach us practice virtue that it may produce fruit, labor to eliminate vice and purify humanity, and be tolerant of the faith and creed of others.

The jewel is the compasses with points opened to sixty degrees and resting on the segment of a graduated circle. On the lower part, on one side, is an eagle, with his wings extended and head lowered. Among the Egyptians the eagle was the emblem of a wise man because his wings bore him above the clouds into the purer atmosphere and nearer to the source of light, and his eyes were not dazzled with that light. Since the eagle also represented the great Egyptian Sun god Amun-ra, it is a symbol of the infinite Supreme Reason or Intelligence. On the other side is a pelican, piercing its breast to feed its seven young in a nest under it. The pelican symbolizes every philanthropist and reformer who has offered up his life for the benefit of humanity, and so teaches us an exhaustless munificence toward all men, especially the needy and defenseless. It also represents the large and bountiful beneficence of nature, from whose bosom all created things draw their sustenance. Thus, the pelican and eagle together are symbols of perfect wisdom and perfect devotedness. There is a crimson cross showing on both sides; at the intersection of its arms on the pelican side, is a crimson rose in bloom. The cross, pointing to the four cardinal directions, and whose arms, infinitely extended would never meet, is an emblem of space or infinity. The cross has been a sacred symbol in many cultures from the earliest antiquity. The rose was anciently sacred to the sun and to Aurora, Greek Goddess of the dawn. As a symbol of the morning light, it represents resurrection and the renewal of life, and therefore immortality. Together the cross and rose symbolize immortality won by suffering and sorrow. On the summit of the compasses is an antique crown. On the segment of the circle, on the pelican side, is the word of this degree in special cipher. This jewel is of gold; the pelican and eagle upon it of silver.



The apron is white satin bordered with crimson on one side and black on the other. On the white side is embroidered the pelican side of the jewel. On the black side is a large red passion cross.



The cordon, worn from left to right, is of velvet or silk, crimson on one side and black on the other; it is plain on the crimson side. A red passion-cross is embroidered on the black side and worn over the heart. The colors of the cordon and apron, white and crimson, are symbols of light and the dawn of day and represent Faith, Hope, and Charity.

References

1. Chapter of Rose Croix. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scottish Rite of California: http://www.scottishritecalifornia.org/chapter_of_rose_croix.htm

2. Scottish Rite Degrees: Chapter of Rose Croix. (n.d.). Retrieved from Master Mason: http://www.mastermason.com/jjcrowder/scottish/scottish.html#cr

3. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida: http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/scottish_rite_degrees.htm

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lodge of Perfection

The first body of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Lodge of Perfection. This body consists of the 4° through the 14°, and are referred to as the Ineffable Degrees because their principal purpose is the investigation and contemplation of the ineffable name of Deity.degrees. Ineffable comes from the Latin 'ineffibilis' which means something that should not be spoken. 

Here is a brief description of the degrees:

4° - Secret Master

This Degree deals with the concepts of duty, fidelity, reflection, and study.  To a Mason, duty embraces an obligation to take  an interest in the problems of his environment,  learn the social problems of his community,  country and even the World; and try to contribute  solutions to these problems.

The lessons of this degree teach one to practice silence, obedience, and fidelity.

The jewel is a small ivory key with a black 'Z' upon the wards. It is worn suspended from a broad white ribbon edged in black. The jewel of the Master is a small equilateral triangle of gold emblazoned with the Greek letters: Iota, Alpha and Omega at the apexes. Pike tells us, "The Name of Deity, in many nations, consisted of three letters: among the Greeks, [Iota, Alpha, Omega]; ..." (p. 632). On its reverse are the Samaritan characters Yod, He, and Vau; these three letters, with He duplicated are used to form the Ineffable Name of Deity, called the Tetragammaton, usually pronounced as 'Yahweh'. Pike, though he uses the Hebrew forms, also explains their significance as representing three of the ten Sephiroth, or emanations from Deity, of the Kabalah: Gedulah, Geburah, and Tephareth; that is, Mercy, Justice and Beauty.



The apron, like the cordon, is white, edged with black, and has black ties. These two colors symbolize the grief suffered by the Mason's upon hearing of the Master Hiram's death and the loss of the word. As well, they are illustrative of the dualist nature of the universe, containing light and darkness, good and evil, truth and error. The flap is of sky blue with an open eye embroidered upon it in gold, denoting the sun as the great archetype of light, the Ineffable Deity. In its center is a 'Z' embroidered in gold and around it are the two crossed wreaths of laurel and olive.


5° - Perfect Master

The moral teachings of this degree is that we live in peace with our own conscience and are honored by good people when we perform our duties honestly and diligently. When honesty, diligence, justice and brotherhood do not exist, freedom and independence are meaningless. Masonry values man as a person.

The lessons of this degree to us to be industrious, and cultivate honesty, sincerity, and good faith.

The jewel is the compasses, opened to sixty degrees, the points on a graduated arc. Masonic compasses are opened to sixty degrees because this is the number of degrees in each of the three angles of an equilateral triangle, always a symbol of Deity. It is suspended from a broad grass-green watered ribbon worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. This jewel, absent the square, indicates that the candidate is moving away from the earthly and toward the heavenly: "[The Square] ... is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; [the Compasses] of what concerns the heavens and the soul." The color of the ribbon symbolizes the attainment of this transition by renewal of virtue.



The apron is of white lambskin. The lining, border and flap are light green. Two crossed columns with three concentric circles and a golden cube superimposed form the center design of the apron. The outside circle is crimson, the center one blue and the inner one orange. There are two letters upon the top face of the cube; the one on the left black and the other white. The cube represents the finite universe and the three circles symbolize the wisdom, power and beneficence of God; the great trinity of His attributes. The letters are Phoenician and are the first two letters of the ancient name of God.


6° - Intimate Secretary

The principle lesson of this degree is that decisions should not be made only on appearances. To be curious is a good quality when directed toward the examination of social miseries, their reasons, and how they can be eliminated. A Mason should not remain detached from the world around him; he should not be an indifferent person. To keep and restore peace, he must be involved in the events of his world. It is the duty of a Mason to provide that men live in peace and harmony.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to be zealous, faithful, disinterested (unbiased, tolerant, free from selfish motives), benevolent, and act as the peacemaker.

The jewel is a triple-delta superimposed upon an equilateral triangle of gold. Each delta has a center design composed of one of the astrological signs for the Sun, Moon and Mercury. As explained in the degree summary, the form of the jewel is utterly derived from Pike's favorite source of Masonic Symbolism, the Pythagorean Tetractys.



The apron is of white lambskin bordered in bright crimson; on the flap is an embroidered equilateral triangle. The designs on the flap are Phoenician letters; in the center are the two letters which are on the apron of the 5th Degree. Three additional letters at the upper corners and one at the center near the bottom are represented in English by 'B', 'N' and 'Sh'. These are the initials of words meaning a covenant, agreement or Divine Law; a vow; and, completion, performance, an offering in accomplishment of a vow, perfect, salvation. The Phoenician characters serve to remind us that the Master Hiram, though of a Jewish mother, was himself considered a Phoenician. He served a Phoenician king and presumably worshiped the Phoenician expression of the Deity.


The cordon is a broad watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left, or a collar of similar material, with the jewel suspended from it.


7° - Provost and Judge

This degree teaches us to judge righteously. A law voluntarily accepted by a community should be a kind of lifestyle for the individuals comprising that community, and justice must always be observed. For  a law to be considered as being accepted voluntarily, it should have been freely examined, discussed and  voted by the people. A man who is not free cannot be  considered as being just, and the unjust cannot be  considered as being free. Masonry teaches man to avoid  evil behavior and to not do injustice to others.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to let justice be the guide of all your actions. 

The jewel is a gold key which unlocks the ebony box seen in the ceremony. The ebony box represents the human heart where the candidate is to lock up the secrets of the order and as Mackey says, "... in the human heart are deposited the secret designs and motives of our conduct by which we propose to erect the spiritual temple of our lives" (Vol. 1, p. 307). This key is especially emblematic of that justice and uprightness that alone can unlock for us the mysteries contained in the higher degrees and enable us to advance toward perfection.



The apron is of white lambskin edged in red. In the center is a red-edged pocket with a red and white rosette just below the opening. This pocket holds the plans for the Temple. On the flap is embroidered a hand of justice holding a scale. 


The cordon is a broad, watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left and from which is suspended the jewel.


8° - Intendant of the Building

This degree investigates the necessity of acting on what we learn and that we should freely transmit our knowledge to others. The strength of the Temple depends on both hard work and ownership. When a man attains  a title or position based on his own earning of it, he  becomes both knowing and free; he is not indebted to anyone, his reward is attained by his own qualities and diligence. Masonry believes that balance and  Brotherhood is established and maintained between  the two principles of work and charity.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to be benevolent, kind, moral, and charitable. 

The jewel is a delta of gold. On one side is engraved or enameled a Phoenician word meaning 'nobles' or 'freeborn'; on the reverse the letters are Samaritan and stand for Achad, or 'our only God, chief and source of all'. Pike derives this interpretation from its root which means 'first'. The triangular shape is the most fundamental symbol of the Deity.



The apron is white, lined with red and bordered with green; in the center is an embroidered nine-pointed star and over that a balance. On the flap is a triangle, with Phoenician letters at each angle. The three colors white, red and green, the chief symbolic colors of Scottish Rite Masonry, teach is to imitate the purity of morals and zeal for the service of Masonry which have made our deceased Master immortal in the recollection of men.





The cordon is a broad watered crimson ribbon, worn from right to left; the jewel is suspended from it by a green ribbon.

9° - Elu of the Nine

Fear and ignorance are the two major enemies which enslave men. It is important that we do not become  slaves of certain ideas; that we have the power to fight against ignorance and intolerance for the sake of civilization and our own intellectual freedom. It is our duty to morally raise our own conscience, to enlighten our souls and minds so that we may actively  participate in instructing and enlightening others.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to enlighten our souls and minds, to instruct and enlighten people, and to be vigilant to the interests and honor of our country.

The jewel is a dagger, its hilt of gold and its blade of silver. These two metals in combination symbolize the brilliance of the combined light of the sun and the moon. We also see this meaning in the ancient Han characters of China where the character for 'sun' is merged with the character for 'moon' to form the character for 'brilliant'. This dagger is not an emblem of false bravery but of the weapons of legitimate warfare, which an Elu of Nine may lawfully use, and especially of the two-edged sword of truth with which every Mason should be armed. A reference to the dagger is also found in the lecture for the Knight of the Brazen Serpent Degree, "Even the dagger of the Elu of the Nine is that used by the Mysteries of Mithras [a Persian deity]; which, with its blade black and hilt white, was an emblem of the two principles of Light and Darkness" (pg. 506). We shall see this symbol repeated in the poniard of the 30th Degree.




The apron is white lambskin spotted with red; it  is lined and bordered in black. An arm holding a  dagger is painted or embroidered on the flap. In  In the middle is an arm holding a bloody head by  the hair. The apron is an emblem of Masonry and  Truth sprinkled with the blood of those who have  been persecuted for the sake of both. It is also  representative of the darkness of ignorance, error and intolerance, with which the world is shrouded,  and through which Masonry moves like a star,  dispensing light and knowledge and toleration. The arm holding a dagger reminds us of the  execution of the sentence registered in heaven  against ignorance and error. The hand holding the  bloody head represents the just punishment of  those who degrade and brutalize the human soul,  by hiding from it the light of knowledge.




The cordon is a broad, black watered ribbon, worn from the right shoulder to the left hip; from the end of the cordon hangs the jewel. At the lower end are nine red rosettes, four on each side and one at the bottom. The rosettes symbolize the original nine Elus or 'Elected' who were chosen by King Solomon to seek out the assassins of Hiram. They also represent the nine virtues taught in this degree; disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism and patriotism. The color of the cordon reminds us ever to lament the prevalence of ignorance, oppression and error. We should strive to overcome them by means of the above excellent qualities of an Elu of Nine.

10° - Elu of the Fifteen

Masons will always be opposed to ignorance, fanaticism, and tyranny. While it is our duty to  continuously fight against these oppressive forces, we  must ourselves be educated, tolerant, and open to  freedom of thought. The war against fanaticism and  terrorism is won with education and enlightenment.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to be tolerant and liberal (not the political ideology of the "modern liberal" or rather egalitarian), and to war against fanaticism and persecution with education and enlightenment; destroy ignorance.

The jewel is a dagger, its hilt gold and its blade silver; it hangs from the end of the cordon.  The cordon is a broad watered black ribbon, worn from right to left; on the front of which are embroidered three heads. The heads upon the cordon also represent ignorance, tyranny and fanaticism or intolerance, smitten by the sword of freedom.

This degree depicts the capture of the two remaining murderers of Master Hiram. "This degree is a continuation and conclusion of the punishment inflicted upon the two remaining traitors for their atrocious crimes. King Solomon added six more craftsmen to the nine already elected and these fifteen then set forth in search which succeeded in capturing the two remaining murderers, who were found working in a quarry. They were taken to Jerusalem for trial, where they pleaded guilty and were hanged and beheaded." Symbolically these men represent the enemies of all freedoms, but mostly uncontrolled emotion, out of which arises tyranny and despotism; and fanaticism from which intolerance and persecution are born.





The apron is white, lined, edged and fringed with black; the flap also is black. In the center are painted or embroidered three gates, and over each gate is a head impaled on a spike. The black represents the sorrow caused by the deed of those men whose heads now grace the arches. The heads themselves represent ignorance, tyranny, and fanaticism. It is against these vices that Masonry is particularly opposed.



11° - Elu of the Twelve

This degree emphasizes that life is a school for moral and spiritual training; that the entire lesson is a course in  virtue, happiness, and a future existence. As Masons, we are to view ourselves and the entire human race  as one great family. We are a champion of the people.  Our work is never done, and our examples in life must  be such that no man will have cause to repent because he has relied on our resolve, our profession, or our word.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to be earnest, true and reliable; and be the advocate and the champion of the rights of the people.

The jewel is a sword of gold, suspended from the cordon, and represents truth. The Elu of the Twelve have been given the title of Prince Ameth or Prince of Truth, for "Truth is sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). In this degree we are informed that the previous Elu Degrees (9th and 10th) symbolize an independent  legislature, an indispensable feature of free government. The nine Elus ( from th 9th Degree) represent the upper  house; they are fewer in number, more mature in wisdom and elected for longer terms than those of the  lower house, symbolized by the Elu of the Fifteen. This degree should remind us of another institution necessary  for true liberty -- the trial by a jury of twelve men whose unanimous verdict is necessary to convict someone of a  crime.




The apron is white, lined, edged and fringed with black and the flap is black. In the middle is an embroidered flaming heart.  The flaming heart upon the apron and cordon are symbols of that zeal and devotedness that ought to animate all Masons and of those noble and heroic souls that have in all ages suffered and sacrificed themselves for their fellows or their country. The motto is a solemn pledge that one would rather die than betray the cause of the people or be overcome through his own fault.




The cordon is a broad black watered ribbon, worn from right to left. Over the flaming heart on the cordon are painted or embroidered the words Vincere aut Mori; literally, 'Victory or Death'.


12° - Master Architect

This degree forces the Mason to consider the problems  of his social life; that the life we have and the world we live in are what we make them by our own social character, by our ability to adapt to our fellows, our relationships, and our circumstances. It is important  that we gain wisdom so that we may add dignity to the  human race.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to seek wisdom through knowledge.

The jewel is a heptagonal medal of gold. On one side, in each angle is a five pointed star, enclosed by a semicircle. In the center, on the same side, is an equilateral triangle, formed by arcs of circles. On the reverse side are five columns, representing the different orders of architecture, arranged from left to right, with the initial of the proper order below each, in old English letters - [T]uscan, [D]oric, [I]onic, [C]orinthian, [C]omposite. Above these columns are a sector and a slide-rule; below them, the three kinds of compasses, the plain scale and the parallel ruler. Between the second and third and the third and fourth columns are Phoenician letters equivalent to the English or Roman letters 'R' and 'B'. These letters have two meanings, one exoteric and the other esoteric. The exoteric meaning all may know; it is simply the initials of Rab Benaim, the Semitic name for the degree. You should pay particular attention to the symbolic meanings of the jewel and its designs in the ritual.


The apron is white, lined and bordered with blue, and fringed with gold. On the flap is embroidered a protractor; and in the middle of the body a plain scale, a sector and the compasses, arranged to form a triangle. The colors are to remind us of the degrees of the Symbolic Lodge, the foundation of Masonry.



The cordon is a broad, blue watered ribbon, worn from the left shoulder to the right hip.

13° - Royal Arch of Solomon

Men must find the truth within the caverns of their own conscience. There is one great arch, or bridge which  makes the passage achievable, and allows us to master  our own vices and passions. That bridge is the will of  God. By seeking knowledge and moral character and  being guided by faith and reason, the Mason will know how to combine science and religion, philosophy and theology; and recognize that these notions do not 0contradict each other, but form a harmonious whole.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to seek knowledge and be motivated by duty and honor.


The jewel is a circular medal of gold, around which, on one side are the following letters, words and number: R, S, R, S, T, P, S, R, I, A, J, et S,  ANNO ENOCHI 2995. On the same side is an engraving of the ground with a rectangular hole in it into which two men are lowering a third with a rope. On the reverse side is a triangle emitting rays and in the middle of it the same letter as is on the apron. This medal is to be worn upon the chest, suspended by a narrow, white watered ribbon. The letters stand for:
Regnante Solomone, Rege Sapientissimo, Thesaurum Pretiosissimum Sub Ruinis Invenerunt Adonirum, Joabert, et Satolkin ... Anno Enochi 2995; or 'In the reign of Solomon, wisest of kings, Adonirum, Joabert and Satolkin found under the ruins the most precious treasure'. Let the emblem on the reverse side of the jewel always remind us that the good Mason reveres and adores the Grand Architect of the Universe, and endeavors, by pursuing the path of honor and duty, to perform the part assigned him in the world well and faithfully.


The apron is of crimson velvet. Upon it is embroidered a triangle emitting rays, and in the middle a letter, an archaic form of the Semitic Yod. The color denotes the zeal and devotedness of a Royal Arch Mason. The triangle is the emblem of Deity, or Infinite Wisdom, Infinite Power and Infinite Harmony; the letter represents the Tetragammaton, the Name of God made known to Moses.




The cordon is a broad, watered purple ribbon worn from the right shoulder to the left hip from which is suspended a triangle of gold bars.

14° - Perfect Elu

This degree is considered the Degree of Perfection and is the most mysterious of all. In it, the Mason finds the meaning of the concept of Deity in his own conscience, and thus opens for himself the gate to true knowledge. Knowledge has two sources. One is human and is obtained by intelligence and labor. The other is divine and revealed only to those who have prepared  themselves well. Until these two sources are united, one cannot be perfect. But to the Mason who truly becomes a Perfect Elu, he will recognize no frontiers in this life.

The lessons of this degree teaches us to assist, encourage and defend the Brethren; protect the oppressed; relieve want and distress; enlighten the people; serve the common good; and be fruitful of all good works.

The jewel is a pair of compasses, opened upon a quarter of a circle, and surmounted by a pointed crown. Within the compasses is a medal, representing on one side the sun, and on the other a five-pointed star, in the center of which is a delta, and on that the name of Deity in Phoenician characters. This jewel is gold and worn suspended from the collar. On the segment of the circle are enameled, at proper distances from each other, the numerals III ... V ... VII ... IX. The compasses remind us that science, united to honor and virtue, made the architect of the Temple the companion of kings; and that the men of intellect and learning, the great kings of thought, are in this age the rulers of the world. The sun as the source of light to our system was once worshiped as a god. The star as a type of the myriad suns that light other countless systems of worlds is an emblem of that Masonic Light in search of which every Mason travels - the correct knowledge of the Deity and of His laws that control the universe.




The apron is of white lambskin, lined with crimson and edged with blue. Around it, on the inside of the blue edging is a delicate embroidery in crimson representing a wreath of flowers. In the middle of the apron is painted or embroidered the jewel, and on the flap is a representation of a flat square stone to which is attached a ring, representing the entrance to the secret vault of the preceding degree. Of its three colors, white, like the snowy purity of the ermine, represents justice; blue, the color of the perfectly symmetrical and changeless arch of the sky, represents right; and crimson, the color of fire which tries and purifies all things, represents truth.


The cordon is a collar of crimson velvet, worn over the neck and coming to a point on the breast. On the left side is embroidered, in green, a branch of acacia, symbolizing immortality. On the right is embroidered, in silver, a five-pointed star, with a Phoenician word meaning 'perfection' in the center. The five-pointed star, as a type of all stars, is representative of Masonic light. The five points also stand for the five points of fellowship and remind us of the other interpretations of this number given in the lecture of the 2nd Degree of the Symbolic Lodge.

References

1. Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scottish Rite of California: http://www.scottishritecalifornia.org/lodge_of_perfection.htm

2. Scottish Rite Degrees: Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Master Mason: http://www.mastermason.com/jjcrowder/scottish/scottish.html#lp

3. Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://masonicdictionary.com/lop.html

4. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida: http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/scottish_rite_degrees.htm

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Northwest Regional York Rite Conference

Well, today I finished up with Northwest Regional York Rite Conference held in Boise. I was glad to see some new and old faces from around the area. We had from the Most Excellent General Grand High Priest, Companion Ted Harrison; Right Puissant Deputy General Grand Master, Companion Larry Weaver; and Most Eminent Grand Master, Sir Knight David Goodwin in attendance at our conference along with some of their staff.

Yesterday I attended the opening of the conference with some presentations on the Royal Arch Research Assistance and the Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation. In the afternoon, I attended the General Grand Council's breakout where I witnessed Bryan Bechler, Right Puissant Regional Deputy General Grand Master of the Northwest Region; Gary Skillern, Right Puissant General Grand Captain of the Guard; and Anthony Schwab, Chief Ambassador of the West, inducted into the Companion of the Secret Vault, an honorary order within the Cryptic Rite. The rest of the time was filled with discussions on fostering an environment to get the younger Masons more involved as well as bring about more education programs.

Today I attended "Leadership 201" which is the 2nd course in the Emerging Leaders Program supported by the International York Rite Bodies.  This class was taught by Stephen Rubinstein, Associate General Grand Chaplain of the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International. Now the day is done and all the out-of-town Companions and Sir Knights are on their way home. Now time for some homework.

The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

Today marks my One Year Anniversary in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.  I have enjoyed my year, but I have taken it slowly as I am more involved with the York Rite. For those unfamiliar here is an Introduction and History of the Scottish Rite.

Introduction

The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemason, or simply known as the Scottish Rite is perhaps the most known appendant body of Freemasonry, maybe second only to the Shriners. It confers a series of progressive degrees. This Rite is one of several appendant or concordant bodies in the Masonic fraternity. They confer from the 4° to the 33°. These degrees build upon the ethical and moral teachings and philosophies offered in Craft Masonry, or more commonly known as the Blue Lodge, through dramatic presentations. These degrees should not be seen as superior to the first three degrees of Craft Masonry, but just a continuation of one's search for more Light in Freemasonry. These degrees are conferred by several controlling bodies: the Lodge of Perfection confers the 4° through the 14°, the Chapter of Rose Croix confers the 15° through the 18°, the Council of Kadosh confers the 19° through the 30°, and the Consistory confers the 31° and 32°. For certain members who have given meritorious service to the community and to Freemasonry, the Rite may confer the 33°.

The Lodge of Perfection is presided over by a "Venerable Master," the Chapter of Rose Croix is presided over by a "Wise Master," the Council of Kadosh is presided over by a "Commander of Kadosh," the Consistory is presided over by a "Master of Kadosh," and all of these bodies unite under a body referred to as a "Valley." These Valleys unite under an "Orient" which is presided over by a Sovereign Grand Inspector General (SGIG).  These Orients fall under the auspices of a central authority known as a Supreme Council. In the United States there exist two Supreme Councils: Northern Jurisdiction and Southern Jurisdiction, and we will discuss these later.

History

In writing the Introductory chapter of "A History of Royal Arch Masonry", Everett Turn and Ray Denslow wrote the following:
The story of today is a history of tomorrow. When that story is written there is sufficient information to make a history. Where it is not written, then much must be supplied by our imagination. Such is the condition in which your committee found itself when they started to prepare this history.

Our Masonic ancestors, whether through indolence, or a fear of making public their secrets, failed to leave sufficient records whereby the true story of Freemasonry could ever be written.
As it is with the Royal Arch, York Rite Masonry, so it is with Scottish Rite Masonry as little is known about the origins of these "higher degrees." The earliest references to this Rite is in France. Some surmise that although it is first seen in France many think Scots fled to France in search of refuge from the violence occurring in the British Isles. From this many believe that this migration led to the use of the term "Scottish." In "Freemasons For Dummies", Christopher Hodapp states that France was "Freemasonry's Foundry Furnace" from which many different Masonic and pseudo-Masonic groups were formed, many of them occurred after the famous Oration delivered by Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay delivered in 1737, which connected Freemasonry to Crusading knights.

In Bordeaux, an influential Masonic center in France, was established a "Scottish Lodge" which had a set of "advanced degrees." In 1761, Masonic authorities granted a patent to Stephen Morin, a resident of Bordeaux, to spread the degrees across the Atlantic to the American colonies. In 1763, Morin was established in the West Indies.  The degree system he established was one of 25-degrees and were known as the "Rite of Perfection."

In 1767, Henry Francken, a Dutch merchant, organized a "Lodge of Perfection" in Albany, NY. Prior to his time in the colonies, he had been to the West Indies and had been deputized by Morin.  In addition to creating this body in Albany, he transcribed four times all of his degrees into books which are referred to as the "Francken Manuscripts", from the 4th degree (Secret Master) to the 25° (Royal Secret or Knights of St. Andrews-the faithful guardians of the Sacred Treasure). The years following other deputies were appointed by Morin which organized Masonic groups and conferred these "advanced or higher degrees" along the colonies. These groups were decentralized and independent of one another, but all agreed upon the authority they had received from Stephen Morin.

It wasn't until May 31, 1801, that a central authority was set up which was called "the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree for the United States of America" in Charleston, South Carolina. This Supreme Council sought to create "Order out of Chaos" (it's motto). With this creation, it added eight more degrees ending with the 33°. Today the headquarters is in Washington DC at the well known House of the Temple.

On August 5, 1813, Emanuel De La Motta, a 33° from Savannah, Georgia, and Grand Treasurer General of the Supreme Council at Charleston, organized in New York City the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree for the Northern District and Jurisdiction of the United States of America which today holds authority over the 15 States East of the Mississippi River and North of the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon Line. La Motta arriving in NY and finding competing factions decided to side with Antoine Bideaud, who had fled from Santo Domingo after the slave revolt and established a Consistory of the 32°. From this Consistory he established this Northern Supreme Council. The Headquarters today is in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Regardless of this newly established body, it still took some time to unify all the scattered groups and to standardize the rituals. They attempted to solve this by convincing the traveling Inspectors to give allegiance to the Supreme Councils.  Any Inspector who would yield would be given authority to confer up to the 32° which the Supreme Council hoped would make their offer more attractive.  This was fairly successful and soon the traveling and independent Inspectors disappeared.

The biggest influence on the standardization of the ritual was Albert Pike. Pike received the Scottish Rite degrees in March of 1853 from Dr. Albert G. Mackey in Charleston, SC.  He was appointed Deputy Inspector of Arkansas that same year. Along with 4 others, Pike was appointed to a committee to prepare and compile the rituals of the Scottish Rite. In 1857 Pike completed his first revision which was dubbed by Mackey as a "Magnum Opus." This revision was not accepted by the Supreme Council, but was the foothold for future revisions. In 1859, Pike was elected as the Grand Commander.  Revisions continued, but the Civil War slowed this considerably. In 1870 when the Supreme Council, and Pike, moved from Charleston to Washington DC, where work was resumed on revising the ritual.  In 1884, Pike completed his revisions of the ritual.  Pike is also known for his writings, the most famous of which is Morals & Dogma, first published in 1872.

Eventually I will have a chance to get more involved with the Scottish Rite, but at this time my focus is with the York Rite. It is a fascinating system and I enjoy the Brethren and the rituals.

References

1. Hodapp, C. (2005). Chapter 11: The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. In Freemasons for Dummies (pp. 213-228). Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

2. Morris, B. (n.d.). History of the Rite. Retrieved from The Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction: http://scottishrite.org/about/history/

3. Scottish Rite. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Rite

Friday, October 19, 2012

Invite to Knight Masons

Well, today at the Northwest Regional York Rite Conference that is being held in Boise, I was approached by my friend Paul, who is an Idaho and Oregon York Rite Mason, and told me that I have been invited to join Clontarf Council #69, Order of Knight Masons out of Bremerton, Washington. I'm scheduled to go through the degrees in March of 2013.

The reason I am going to Washington is that there are no Councils in Idaho. I am truly honored to be one of just a handful of Idaho Masons to be a member of this invitational body.