Monday, May 12, 2014

The August Order of Light

Freemasonry is filled with many appendant bodies that can be found worldwide. Some are well-known, but there are a few that are relatively unknown. One such group is the August Order of Light, which has one Temple in the United States. This group should not be confused with "Sat B'Hai" that started in 1875, a similar society found in India. This organization is concerned with intellectual and spiritual stimulation and enlightenment.

This group is unique as it incorporates ideas from the Orient. The Order and ritual was originally organized by Maurice Vidal Portman, a politician and occultist who had traveled to India around 1876 and became learned in the ritual, arts, and lore of the Far East, particularly of the Hindus, Buddhists, Jainists, and other faiths. It is thought that Portman may have been influenced by the rituals of Sat B'Hai, but this is only a speculation. It was also thought that John Yarker also assisted in the writing of the rituals, but the Order states that he was never a member and had no connection with it. Originally the Order did not take foot in England. It would be by the assistance of others that helped establish this order. The rituals were revised around the turn of the Century by two followers of Portman, T.H. Pattinson and Dr. Bogdan E.J. Edwards. These two through studying and communication with those in India reformed the rituals.

The August Order of Light seeks to explain the symbolism of Craft Masonry by reference to the old world religions, particularly the mythologies of India, ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. This order is not adding to or replacing the ritual of Craft Masonry, but providing keys to explain it. It is there ardent wish "that all members will receive some degree of illumination from participating in the mysteries of the Order, thus rending the veil of darkness between the physical and spiritual planes."

The order was founded in 1902 and flourished in Bradford (Northern England) in the basement of a pub. They would move into a warehouse in 1924 and in the 1960s they would move into a building of their own. The trouble would start to fall into troubles, particularly with the loss of property in Bradford, and those who sought to keep the order alive suggested that it should be absorbed into the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD), but the Grand Master of the AMD rejected the idea. Its present headquarters is located in Halifax in West Yorkshire. At the proposition the members came together and kept the Order going, spreading it to now two Temples in England, two in Australia, one in the United States, and one in India. Each Temple is named 'Garuda Temple', with numbering identifying precedence within the Order.

The August Order of Light is open to all Master Masons in good standing in a Lodge recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England. The order looks for Masons would benefit and be a benefit to the order.

The Order has two Arch Presidents of the Center who are appointed for life and appoint their own successors. This order is not democratic in that the Arch Presidents have absolute discretion in the governance of the order; they have the ability to shut down the entire order or close down an individual temple, and may exclude from it, temporarily or permanently, any member or officer, giving reasons in writing if requested. The Arch Presidents are the approving authority for the creation of new Temples and are the Custodians of the Archives of the Order. The two Arch Presidents rule all temples directly from the center; there is no Grand or Provincial structure. Admission to the order is overseen by the Council of Agni which is made up of the Presidents of Garuda (leader of each temple) and brethren selected by the two Arch Presidents. Each Temple of the August Order of Light is administered by its Council of Garuda.

The order is comprised of 2-degrees and a "connecting path": The First Degree, the Passing Degree, and the Second Degree. The regalia of Order is a robe and belt, with variations in each degree. With the First Degree, the Brothers wear a breast jewel. In the Second Degree, they wear a neck-jewel and the belt changes.

The charity of this group surrounds raising money that helps pay for eye surgery for those that cannot afford the procedure on their own. The Order is thus dispensing Masonic light in a practical sense and assist those who are so afflicted.

References

1. Beresiner, Y. (n.d.). The August Order of Light: Origins & History of a little known and respected Order. Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/beresiner17.html

2. Bottomley, M. S. (2014, May 12). Arch President. (B. E. Newell, Interviewer)

3. Stephenson, A. B. (n.d.). History of the Order. Retrieved from The August Order of Light: http://www.the-order-of-light.org.uk/history.html

4. The August Order of Light. (n.d.). Retrieved from Garuda Temple #3: http://www.the-order-of-light.org/

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