Monday, December 31, 2018

The Parting Glass

Of all the money that e'er I had 
I spent it in good company 
And all the harm I've ever done 
Alas it was to none but me 
And all I've done for want of wit 
To mem'ry now I can't recall 
So fill to me the parting glass 
Good night and joy be to you all

So fill to me the parting glass 
And drink a health whate’er befall, 
And gently rise and softly call 
Good night and joy be to you all

Of all the comrades that e'er I had 
They're sorry for my going away 
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had 
They'd wish me one more day to stay

But since it fell unto my lot 
That I should rise and you should not 
I gently rise and softly call 
Good night and joy be to you all

A man may drink and not be drunk 
A man may fight and not be slain 
A man may court a pretty girl 
And perhaps be welcomed back again 
But since it has so ought to be 
By a time to rise and a time to fall 
Come fill to me the parting glass 
Good night and joy be with you all 
Good night and joy be with you all

Goodbye 2018

Well, what can I say...2018 was a bad year for me and my family. I entered this year with my father's cancer diagnosis and with uncertain prospects. Yes, there were some great moments, but I am ready to leave this year behind. I can only hope that 2019 is better than 2018, but that won't take much for the New Year to be an improvement.

In January I was advanced to the VII° in the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF). In February I attended Masonic Week in Crystal City (just outside DC). In April I was elected and installed as the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho. 

In mid-August, I attended the inaugural Rocky Mountain SRICF Conference and then the 67th Triennial of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA. I left early from the Grand Encampment to be with my father who passed away at the end of August. I was glad to be home with him in his final days, but it tore at my soul to watch him degrade day-by-day. While I will miss him to the end of my days, I am glad he is no longer in pain.

In September, I attended the 151st Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho where I represented the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho and was happy to see that the Grand Lodge officially recognized the SRICF.

In October, I was at the founding of Star Garnet Council No.560 of the Allied Masonic Degrees, and the Northwest York Rite Conference. At the end of the month, I attended Lewiston Chapter of Royal Arch Masons who had not conferred the Capitular degrees in several years. In November I attended the High Council of the SRICF and the Idaho Rose Circle of the SRICF was formed; I was designated as the Celebrant.

At the beginning of December, I was appointed Prelate of St. Michael's Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine. I spent the rest of the month attending officer installations and Christmas Observances around the state of Idaho. On the winter solstice, I attended a convocation of the Utah College of the SRICF. It was nice to be with family for Christmas, but it was still strange to have Dad not there in person in his role handing out the presents to everyone. Now, I'm getting ready to attend a New Year's Eve Party.

God bless you all and have a prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What is a Johannite?

Several years ago I was researching Martinism when I came across the Apostolic Johannite Church (AJC). I started to research the AJC and found them to be aligned with my spiritual beliefs. As today is the Feast Day for St. John the Beloved, I thought I'd talk about the AJC and what being a Johannite is about. 

There is a lot of confusion as to what a Johannite is and a lot of misinformation. Per Father Anthony Silvia, the word "Johannite" refers to a "spiritual tradition carried in part through the initiatory tradition of John the Baptist, exemplified in the relationship between Christ and the Apostle John, brought to fruition in the community addressed by the Gospel of John, the Gospel embraced by early Gnostics, and which, some belief, produced the Book of Revelation and the Apocryphon of John." Many mistakenly believe that an emphasis is placed on St. John the Baptist as a power play against Jesus Christ, his cousin. Johannite's still believe Jesus Christ to be the God Made Flesh, the Logos Incarnate. While some churches condemn goddess worship as pagan while at the same time venerating figures such as Mary Theotokos (Mother of God), being a Johannite, I fully acknowledge and study, what is today known as, the Sacred/Divine Feminine. Being a Johannite Christian also means that one is a Gnostic and Gnosticism isn't a spectator sport as Father Tony Silvia puts in his book "Sanctuary of the Sacred Flame."

The AJC can be described as an esoteric, Gnostic, and Christian. From their website: "The Apostolic Johannite Church is a global network of Johannite communities that focus on supporting individual and direct experience of the Divine through fellowship, meditation and prayer, service and ritual, lively discussion and study." The church draws from the Old Testament, New Testament, the Corpus Hermeticum, and the Gnostic Gospels. The Statement of Principles define the beliefs, boundaries. and scope of the AJC: https://www.johannite.org/statement-of-principles/

The modern AJC was established in 2000 by Most Reverend James Foster, but traces its roots to early 1800s France and Dr. Bernard Raymond Fabre-Palaprat who founded his own church "after discovering a document that contained, among other things, an alternate translation of the Gospel of John." It is said that Dr. Fabre-Palaprat kicked off the era of Gnostic Restoration. Many Gnostic orders and churches traces itself to St. John the Beloved who passed on the authority and knowledge down a succession of Johannite patriarchs until Theoclete who passed the mantle to Hugh de Payens, first Grand Master of the medieval Knights Templar, and which passed the authority to each subsequent Templar Grand Master. After the suppression of the Templars in 1307, the authority passed to Jean-Marc Larmenius and the Templar order went underground. The theory of the Larmenius Charter goes on to say that the Templars fled to Scotland which plays into the story of the Royal Order of Scotland and the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The Johannite leadership passed from Larmenius to eventually Dr. Fabre-Palaprat. The Johannite tradition was dismissed as conspiracy theory until 1945 when the Nag Hammadi texts were discovered which validated and corroborated the legends.

AJC congregants meet in Missions, Narthex, and Parishes. A Parish is "a fully functioning body of the Apostolic Johannite Church with regular clergy and services." A Narthex is "a local study group under the direction of a lay or clerical leader." The word "narthex" is an architectural term and refers to the front part of a church, before you enter the sanctuary. In the Church, as a description of a Johannite body, it is the first stage in the development of a local parish. It is most often run by a lay person or a cleric in minor orders in preparation for the priesthood. A Mission is "group of AJC members that meet irregularly and are ministered to by visiting Johannite clergy."

There are ten Holy Orders in the AJC, five Minor and five Major. The Minor Orders are Cleric, Doorkeeper, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte. The Major Orders are Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop, with the additional "Order" of the Patriarch (technically Patriarch is not one of the Orders, but we refer to it as an Order so that there are ten total, for symbolic reasons). To become a Priest, one must go through the Saint Raphael the Archangel Theological Seminary which is an eight (8) semester program used for the AJC only.

The governance of the church is broken down to a Patriarchate, Episcopacy, Priesthood, Diaconate, and religious orders. The head of the church takes on the name Iohannes (Latin for "John") with a Roman numeral to dictate his or her place in the line of succession, and is known by the titles "Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch". The Episcopacy is composed of Archbishops of the church who take on the title Mar with a new name. Mar is Syriac for "my Lord" and is used to address Bishops.

The religious order of the church is known as the Order of the Temple and St. John. It is broken down to two different elements: the public Oblates of the Temple and St. John (ObTSJ) and the private Knights of the Temple and St. John (KTSJ). The Oblates are a bridge between the Lay and Clerical state, and which is led by a Prior, who is a member of the Laity. The word Oblate comes from Oblation, "a thing presented or offered to God." In joining the Oblates, one first serves a year before being received as a Novice. To do that, one must also be recommended and sponsored by a priest and take a religious vows. The Knights of the Temple is by invitation-only whose officers are composed of members of the clergy with the Patriarch of the Church serving as Abbott of the Order. The Order is governed by The Rule which is an active way to live out the Statement of Principles of the Johannite Church, and thus has its basis in these same principles.

Being a Freemason and a Christian, the AJC seems like a natural fit since both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist play an important role in these institutions and both revolve around an initiatic tradition passed down through the ages. I am currently serving in my first year in the Oblates and I have enjoyed the support the church has given me this year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

Although my dad is no longer on this Earth, I feel his presence with me on this day. Merry Christmas to all




Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tarot Card of the Month: The Devil

The Tarot Card for December is Devil. The Devil card is also referred to as Shadow. The Devil is the Fifteenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. The Devil is associated with the planet Saturn, the element of Earth, and the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. The sea-goat Capricorn is associated with Pan because according to legend the satyr Pan fled from the beast Typhon, jumped into a river just as he was transforming himself into a fish. The lower half of his body became fishlike, but his upper body above the water remained in the form of a goat.

While the Western world is familiar with the term "devil" as the adversary and fallen angel who rebelled against God and leads the damned, but as with all Tarot, the Devil's imagery is symbolic, not literal. This card represents the temptation and seduction of the material world and physical pleasures and desires.

This card depicts the Devil as a half-man, half-goat creature with large bat wings and horns sprouting from its head. To some it represents Baphomet while others believe it represents Pan; the latter would make sense as Pan is associated with the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. Its right hand is raised while his left hand is lowered and carrying a torch. Above the Devil is an inverted pentagram. The Devil is squatting upon a black rectangular pillar or altar. Chained to the block are two naked humans: one woman and one man. Both humans seem to be sprouting horns and a tail; the woman's tail is a clump of grapes and the man's ends in flame.

The Devil represents a scapegoat, something people use to blame our problems on so that they can escape accountability or as a psychological mechanism so people can cope with events that happen outside of their control. The humans appear to be held against their will, but upon closer inspection, the chains are loose and could be easily removed meaning that the humans are there are of their own free will and accord. They are enslaved by their earthly pleasures and vices, and the longer they are stuck where they become more and more like the devil. The tails represent their animalistic inclinations: the grapes representing pleasure and the fire lust. Their nudity is a metaphor for pleasure-seeking and shamelessness. The reverse pentagram is said to represent occult knowledge that leads to further enlightenment beyond the physical realm, but, also serving as a symbol for Earth, reminds of the dangers of materialistic, selfish, and licentious habits.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Return of Light

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and it is also the Feast Day for the Archangel Raphael who names translate as "God has healed" or "It is God who heals."

Legend says that Raphael was originally named Labbiel which is said to mean "Knowledge of the Light of the Source of the Whole of Existence". God changed it to Raphael because this Archangel had sided with God in a dispute with the other archangels on the issue of creating man. He is one of the seven angels that attend to the Throne of God. After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, Raphael was sent to Earth to heal mankind, physically and spiritually.

Raphael is considered the Archangel of Healing, Regent of the Sun, Guardian of the Rising Light, Master of the whirling air and storms, and Guide of travelers. In the Book of Tobit, a book that is a part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canons speaks of a story about a man named Tobit, a righteous Jewish man who took upon himself the burial of the dead even when it was forbidden by his Assyrian captors. Tobit becomes blind and God sends Raphael, in disguise, to heal and guide Tobit.

This archangel is associated with the element of Air, the color Yellow, the Tarot suit of Swords, and the cardinal direction of East which is associated with the Rising Sun and return of light to the world.

 


Monday, December 17, 2018

Knight Commander of Constantine

The image is a
mock-up I put together
Within the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulcher and St. John the Evangelist are two honors conferred by the United Grand Imperial Council: Knight Grand Cross and Knight Commander of Constantine. The former will be discussed later while the focus will be on the latter.

The Knight Commander of Constantine is an honor conferred by the Most Illustrious Grand Sovereign with concurrence of Grand Viceroy upon those Knight Companions who have exhibited faithful service to the United Grand Imperial Council. To be eligible for this award one must serve a total of ten (10) years or more as either Intendent General, Grand Treasurer, Grand Recorder, Trustee or Chairman of a Standing Committee or any combination thereof. Only three (3) can be conferred in a given year provided the maximum number of recipients doesn't exceed fifty (50). Recipients of this award hold the title of "Illustrious".

The jewel of the Knight Commander of Constantine is a Sovereign’s jewel superimposed upon an embellished floriated (decorated with floral designs) half wreath of gold laurel leaves encompassing the lower half of the jewel and is hung from a collar ribbon of crimson silk. If the recipient is a Past Intendent General then the ribbon shall be half crimson and half gold.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nag Hammadi Library

For the past several months I have been researching and exploring the Apostolic Johannite Church which offers a free school where new members can learn more about the thought, practice, community, and history of the Apostolic Johannite Church. One of the topics of discussion led me to the subject of the Nag Hammadi Library and I thought I'd share this on my website.

The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of 13 books containing over 50 texts including a number of the Gnostic Gospels, the Corpus Hermeticum, and a partial translation of Plato's Republic. The most famous Nag Hammadi codex is the only known complete copy of the gospel of Thomas. These texts are dated between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and were thought to have been destroyed during the early years of the Roman Catholic Church and their attempts to establish their orthodoxy. Some theorize that some early Christians tried to destroy these Gnostic writings because they contained secret teachings about Jesus and Christianity. Many Christians today decry the Nag Hammadi Library as heretical and forgeries "that espouse false doctrines about Jesus Christ, salvation, God, and every other crucial Christian truth."

This collection was discovered in December of 1945, but the translation wasn't completed until the 70s. They were found by a farmer named Muhammed al-Samman and his brother who found the documents in sealed jars that had been buried in the Jabal al-Ṭārif caves near the town of Hamrah Dom in upper Egypt.

Some scholars believe that this collection had belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Saint Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 A.D. The Nag Hammadi Library were originally written in the Coptic language and are currently housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. They take their name from the nearest major city (12-km SW of Hamrah Dom).

When al-Samman took these manuscripts home, his mother burned some of them out of fear of their "dangerous effects." Their significance went unacknowledged for some time. It wasn't until 1948 when a Coptologist, Jean Doresse, at the Coptic Museum published a reference to them. The remaining documents found their way to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities which came from a Coptic Priest who had received them from the brothers. After the 1952 revolution, the Nag Hammadi Library was given over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo. One of the documents was sold out of Egypt and made its way into the hands of Carl Gustav Jung. After his death in 1961, there was quarrel over ownership, but by 1975 it had made its way to the Coptic Museum and finally reuniting the codices.

Here is a list of the documents of the Nag Hammadi Library:
  • Codex I (also known as The Jung Codex):
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
The Apocryphon of James (also known as the Secret Book of James) 
The Gospel of Truth 
The Treatise on the Resurrection 
The Tripartite Tractate 
  • Codex II: 
The Apocryphon of John
The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Philip
The Hypostasis of the Archons
On the Origin of the World
The Exegesis on the Soul
The Book of Thomas the Contender
  • Codex III: 
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (The Gospel of the Egyptians)
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Sophia of Jesus Christ
The Dialogue of the Savior
  • Codex IV: 
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (The Gospel of the Egyptians)
  • Codex V: 
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Apocalypse of Paul
The First Apocalypse of James
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Apocalypse of Adam
  • Codex VI: 
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
The Thunder, Perfect Mind
Authoritative Teaching
The Concept of Our Great Power
Republic by Plato (an alternate gnostic translation)
The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (a Hermetic treatise)
The Prayer of Thanksgiving (a Hermetic prayer)
Asclepius 21-29 - another Hermetic treatise
  • Codex VII: 
The Paraphrase of Shem
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter
The Teachings of Silvanus
The Three Steles of Seth
  • Codex VIII: 
Zostrianos
The Letter of Peter to Philip
  • Codex IX: 
Melchizedek
The Thought of Norea
The Testimony of truth
  • Codex X: 
Marsanes
  • Codex XI: 
The Interpretation of Knowledge
A Valentinian Exposition, On the Anointing, On Baptism and On the Eucharist
Allogenes
Hypsiphrone
  • Codex XII:
The Sentences of Sextus
The Gospel of TruthFragments
  • Codex XIII: 
Trimorphic Protennoia
On the Origin of the World
References

1. McRae, M. (2018, April 15). Scholars Have Found a Rare Copy of Heretical Writings on Jesus And His 'Brother'. Retrieved from Science Alert: https://www.sciencealert.com/greek-first-apocalypse-james-nag-hammadi-library-teaching-tool 

2. The Nag Hammadi Codices and Gnostic Christianity. (2018, October 12). Retrieved from Bible History Daily: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/post-biblical-period/the-nag-hammadi-codices/ 

3. The Nag Hammadi Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Gnostic Society Library: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html 

4. What is the Nag Hammadi library? (n.d.). Retrieved from Got Questions: https://www.gotquestions.org/Nag-Hammadi.html

5. Nag Hammadi Library. (n.d.) Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Hammadi_library

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Ephraim Kirby Award

Figure 1
Similar to the Order of the Secret Vault, the General Grand Chapter created an award to recognize Companions who have attained the past presiding rank in their Grand York Rite bodies (Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, Grand Council, and/or Grand Commandery) and who have then gone on to continue their work and commitment to service even beyond the term of their office, or beyond the normal boundaries of dedication. A Custodian, appointed for each constituent Grand Chapter, selects and nominates candidates whom they determine merit this award. The recipients must be Royal Arch Masons in good standing. When this award was formed in 2014, there could be three recipients; in 2015, two recipients; and after that, there can be only one recipient each year from a Grand Chapter's jurisdiction. The jewel of the award (see Figure 1) is suspended from a red ribbon and worn under the collar. This award is named after the Companion who served as the first General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter in addition to several other Masonic and non-Masonic accomplishments.

Figure 2
Ephraim A. Kirby (Figure 2) was born on February 23, 1757, in Woodbury, CT. He attended Yale University, but left before receiving a degree. He served in the Cavalry as a Lieutenant in a Rhode Island Company during the American Revolution taking part in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Elk River, roughly 17 other battles. At Elk River, he received several saber cuts to his head. He was in a coma for several weeks. He awoke, recovered, and returned to the war.

After the war, he returned to Connecticut where he married Ruth Marvin and began practicing law in Litchfield. In 1787, Yale University gave him an honorary Master of Arts degree. In 1789, he performed the first court reporting when he compiled and published the first volume of law reports in America. From 1791 to 1801, Kirby served in the Connecticut General Assembly before becoming the Director of the Western Reserve in Ohio.

President Jefferson appointed Kirby as Supervisor of Internal Revenue for Connecticut, which he served as until September of 1802. On April 6, 1804, Kirby was appointed the first Superior Court Judge of the Mississippi Territory. Before learning that he had been appointed as Governor of the Mississippi Territory, Kirby died of Yellow Fever on October 4, 1804, at Fort Stoddert. His burial spot in Fort Stoddert is unknown.

He was initiated into St. Paul's Lodge No. 11 in Litchfield, CT, in 1781, and served as its Worshipful Master three times. He was at the convention that formed the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and served as Secretary for the convention. He would go on to serve as Grand Senior Warden from 1795 to 1797. Not much is known of his early Capitular career, but it is known that he is a member of the Mark Lodge in New Town, CT. When the Grand Chapter of Connecticut was organized at Hartford, CT, on May 17, 1798, Kirby was elected its first Grand High Priest. On October 24, 1798, he attended the convention that created the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States. At this convention he was elected as the first Most Excellent General Grand High Priest and served from 1798 until his death in 1804. Some hypothesize that Kirby was selected over Thomas Smith-Webb to ensure that Connecticut and Rhode Island would be part of the General Grand Chapter

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Decade in Chivalric Masonry

Today marks my 10th anniversary as a Knights Templar. I had the honor of being dubbed and created a knight by the then Worshipful Master of my Lodge. The ceremony for the Order of the Temple was so impressive that it stands out as one of the most memorable moments in Freemasonry for me, next to getting Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and being initiated into the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF).

I have the honor of currently serving as Eminent Commander of my Commandery, Eminent Grand Standard Bearer of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho, and member of the Committee on Social Committee of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tarot Card of the Month: Temperance

The Tarot Card for November is Temperance. Temperance is also referred to as Art or Equilibrium. Temperance is the Fourteenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. Temperance is associated with the planet Jupiter, the element of fire, and the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius.

Temperance represents balance, moderation, patience, and peace. Temperance reminds us that harmony comes from the union of dualities. In Freemasonry, Temperance is a cardinal virtue and defined as "that due restraint upon our affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice." One must exercise caution in his action, speech, thought, feeling, judgment, and life.

Temperance is depicted by a winged angel, considered both male and female, pouring water from a cup in her left hand to a cup in her right. The angel is wearing a white robe with a golden triangle within a square. The angel has one foot on the ground and one in the water. On one side of the angel are golden lilies and on the other shows a mountain with a setting sun.

The angel upon the earth represents one's interaction with both the material and the divine. The androgynous nature of the angel represents balance between the sexes. The pouring of water between cups represents the act of finding the right balance between two sides. The golden triangle is said to be an ancient symbol of healing. It is also interesting to see the alchemical symbol of fire contained within the square, another emblem to represent the earth. Combined they represent the sacred flame, the soul of man, contained within the body; Temperance is a reference to the soul. The foot in the water represents the subconscious and the foot on the ground represents the material world. The mountains in the distance represent a future journey to be taken that will bring spiritual fulfillment.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving

By Jamie Harris Coleman

Thanksgiving should be every day
Instead of once a year. 
Give thanks each day, give thanks each night, 
To Christ who is so dear. 

Give thanks each day, give thanks each night, 
For all the Lord has done. 
He’ll help us fight our battles 
Until the victory’s won. 

Give thanks unto the Savior, 
His joyous praises sing; 
In the ears of every Christian 
Let the name of Jesus ring. 

Give thanks to Him each morning, 
Give thanks at noon and night. 
Ask Him for daily blessings, 
And stand up for the right. 

Let each day be Thanksgiving, 
For the blessings from above, 
For guidance and protection 
And His eternal love.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Anti-Mason Disinformation: Jintao, Putin, & Bush

I see this picture of Hu Jintao, Vladimir Putin, and George constantly circulating on the Internet. Anti-Masons and conspiracy theorists alike claim that this picture was taken at a secret Grand Lodge meeting and that all those in attendance are secretly Freemasons. This claim is taken further, and said that they act like enemies, but as they are all supposedly Masons that they all serve evil and this is just part of the Hegelian Dialectic (manufactured conflict). They believe Freemasonry is involved with creating chaos in order to establish our order onto the world.

In reality, this picture of those three men comes from the 2006 APEC meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. APEC standards for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation which is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. It is composed of 21-members who aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration. Each year, one of the 21-members hosts the annual meeting and it has become the custom to try on the host country's traditional costume. It was Bill Clinton, a non-Mason, who started this custom when he had leather bomber jackets for each of the world leaders in attendance. In 2006, the members wore robes known as silk "ao dai" with golden lotus flowers. This flower was chosen as it is a traditional Vietnamese symbol for nobility and purity. You can see the pictures over the years here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2011/nov/14/apec-summits-what-leaders-wore-in-pictures


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Veterans Day

To my Brothers and Sisters in Arms, who are serving or have served, Happy Veterans Day!


The High Council and the Idaho Rose Circle

The last two days I've spent in Louisville, KY, at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the High Council of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF). This meeting was held at the historic Brown Hotel. This hotel is absolutely beautiful and a perfect place for this prestigious order to meet. 

I had an amazing time meeting all of the Fratres from all over the world. The meetings were meaningful and educational; there were presentations given by Piers Vaughn, W. Stephen Burkle, and Ian Robertson. I particularly enjoyed attending the Celebrants Workshop and the educational materials that were given out. More importantly, the Supreme Magus of the SRICF authorized the formation of the Idaho Rose Circle. The Rose Circle is equivalent to a Lodge Under Dispensation. I spent the last night talking with the Supreme Magus and the Senior Deputy Supreme Magus who spoke words of encouragement and said they look forward to granting us a charter in the upcoming year. 

I now am heading back to Idaho energized and ready to get the Fratres to work into getting the Idaho Rose Circle off of the ground. I have a set of goals and aims in hopes that it will set us on a path to success.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Words & Phrases: College

The Words & Phrases series will be looking at terms that are sometimes used in Freemasonry but are not commonly used. As the Grand Lodge of Idaho just approved the resolution on recognition of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, I'll be starting with the term "college" which is the name given to the basic organizational unit of that order. 

"College" is defined as a body of clergy living together and supported by a foundation, or a building used for an educational or religious purpose. The term "college" is rooted in the Latin word "collegium" meaning "community, society, or guild" and is used in the context of "a body of scholars and students." This definition and etymological root perfectly align with the purpose and mission of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis and the York Rite College, as well, as both of those orders are dedicated to education and research.

The oldest known collegiate institution is the University of Karueein that was founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco. The oldest college in Europe is the University of Bologna in Italy and was founded in 1088. The oldest university in Germany is the University of Heidelberg which was founded in 1386 (during the lifetime of Christian Rosenkreutz, the founder of Rosicrucianism). An interesting note to see the correlation between the robes of college graduations and the attire for Chief Adepts or High Council officers (see the picture). According to Columbia University, the practice of gowns and hoods dates back to the 12th century when this regalia was worn by clergy, and their students adopted the same garb. For one thing, the gowns provided warmth in unheated buildings and served as a way to set the student apart from his fellow citizens. Knowing the religious roots of colleges and universities as well as the roots of Rosicrucianism, it is not surprising to see similar clothing.



Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Decade in Capitular & Cryptic Masonry

Today marks my 10th year as a Royal Arch Mason and Cryptic Mason. I knew after I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason that I wanted to join the York Rite: There were two Masons in my Lodge that I looked up to and they were both York Rite, and, being a historian, I found the York Rite more appealing than the Scottish Rite. I went through when I was Senior Warden of my Blue Lodge and these degrees were very timely as they helped prepare me to serve my Lodge as Worshipful Master. 

This decade has flown by and I am surprised at how much I have accomplished. I am honored to be serving as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho and as the Right Illustrious Grand Principal Conductor of the Work for the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. I am celebrating this anniversary while on the road for work in Montana.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween

Tomorrow, people are dressing up in costumes to celebrate Halloween. This time of the year is one for celebration and superstition. The name Halloween is derived from "All Hallow's Eve." Hallow means sanctified or holy. To learn of this holiday, we look to the Catholic Church and previous pagan holidays. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.

To start off, November 1st is All Saints Day which was established on that day by Pope Gregory IV which was a day to honor all saints and martyrs of the faith. The Pope set it to this day to have it coincide with the harvests so as to provide food for the pilgrims. It was Pope Sixtus IV, nearly 6-centuries later, who gave All Saints Day a vigil which is the eve of a festival or holy day which became known as "All Hallow's Eve" and can also be named "All Saints' Eve." Many believe Sixtus did this to substitute a feast day over a pagan holiday.

Prior to this substitution, there were pagan festivals in place, the most well-known is the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts; Samhain is said to mean "summer's end" in Gaelic. There is evidence of this festival that dates back two millennia in what is now Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and northern France. Pagans, and Wiccans today, believe that the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living became blurred on this day, and that the ghosts of the dead would return to the world and make it easier for priests to predict the future. This holiday also marked the end of the year and November 1st marked the beginning of winter to the ancient Celts.

The modern practice of wearing costumes goes back to the ancient Celts who wore costumes to trick the spirits that were among them. Bowls of food were also placed without the doors of their houses to prevent spirits and ghosts from entering the premises. After the Roman Empires conquest of Celtic territory, two Roman festivals were combined with Samhain. The first one was Feralia, a day that commemorated the passing of the dead, and the second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the inclusion of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that are practiced today on Halloween.

All Hallow's Eve being a Catholic holiday, it is not surprising that it came to America through Maryland, a predominately Catholic colony/state. Those early Halloweens were marked with parties, public celebrations of the harvest, and sharing stories of the dead. Halloween wouldn't be popularized until the second half of the 19th century when America was flooded with Irish immigrants. Over the years, Halloween lost its superstitious nature and became a secular holiday.

I hope everyone enjoys this night and stays safe. Happy All Hallow's Eve.

References

1. Halloween 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween 

2. Miller, J. G. (2003). History of All Hallows' Eve. Retrieved from Catholic Culture: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/months/10_2.cfm 

3. Radford, B. (2017, September 18). History of Halloween. Retrieved from Live Science: http://www.livescience.com/40596-history-of-halloween.html 

4. Winick, S. D., & Saylor, N. (2017, October). Selected Halloween & Día de Muertos Resources. Retrieved from Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tarot Card of the Month: Death

The Tarot Card for October is Death. Death is also referred to as Hades in some Tarot decks. Death is the Thirteenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. Death is associated with the planet Pluto (a planet named after the Roman equivalent to Hades), the element of Water, and the zodiacal sign of Scorpio. It should be noted that in older times this card was associated with Mars, but in modern times has been associated with Pluto.

Death is one of the most feared cards in a Tarot Deck, and one of the most misunderstood. Many believe this card indicates physical death, but in merely represents change, transition, transformation, new beginnings, and metamorphosis.

This card depicts a skeleton dressed in black armor, riding a white horse. The skeleton is carrying a black flag that is emblazoned with a white, five-petal rose. A royal figure appears to be dead on the ground, while a young woman, child and bishop plead with the skeletal figure to spare them. In the background, there is a boat floating down the river, similar to the Egyptian boats that would carry the dead. On the horizon, the sun sets between two towers.

The skeleton reminds of the mortality of man as well as representing the Grim Reaper, that Messenger of Death. The armor symbolizes invincibility and that death will come, no matter what, and its dark color is a symbol of mourning and the mysterious nature of death. The horse is the color of purity and a symbol of strength and power. The white rose is represents beauty, purification, immortality, resurrection, or rejuvenation; all of them concepts of death. The number five (5) represents change and health. The one dead and the three pleading human figures remind us that death does not spare anyone no matter their lot in life. The boat represents transition or transformation. The setting sun reminds of the cycles of life and death with its continuous setting and rising.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Officers of a Chapel of St. Thomas of Acon

Known as the Commemorative Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, this order exists to reaffirma Knights Templar’s vows, is a revival of a medieval knighthood started during the crusades, and the central myth of the order centers on Saint Thomas a Becket. The basic organizational unit for this order is known as a Chapel and is composed of the following officers: Worthy Master, Eminent Prior, Marshal, Treasurer, Secretary, Deputy Marshal, Almoner, 1st Working Knight, 2nd Working Knight, 3rd Working Knight, 4th Working Knight, Herald, Doorkeeper, Cellarer, and Sentry. Unique to this group, only the Worthy Master, Treasurer, and Sentry are elected. The rest are appointed by the Worthy Master upon his election.

The presiding officer of the Chapel is known as the Worthy Master. He presides over the business meetings and knighting of new initiates. When the medieval order first began, it was the Prior who led the order, but in 1279 records speak of the "Master of the whole Order of St. Thomas of Acon." Since that time, the senior officer of the Chapel has been the Worthy Master. The installation ceremony expresses the historic humility exuded by Worthy Masters and by Jesus Christ. Once seated, the Worthy Master is presented with a baton or scepter affixed on the upper end with a bronze escallope shell. The honorary title of "Worthy" is rooted in the Old English weorþ meaning "valuable, appreciated, highly thought-of, deserving, honorable, noble, or of high rank." The word "Master" is rooted in the Latin word "magister" meaning "chief, head, or teacher."

As mentioned above, it was the Prior who originally led this order and while the Prior is now second to the Worthy Master, this officer still presides over several aspects of the order. Officially titled, Eminent Prior, this officer presides over the opening and closing as well as taking part in the initiation ritual; some of his ritualistic duties correspond to the Chaplain in the Blue Lodge. Prior is a traditional title used to represent a monk or priest who is the head of a religious house or order, would rank below that of the abbot. The honorary title of "Eminent" stems from the Latin word "eminentem" meaning "prominent or high." Prior comes to us from the Latin tongue and is used to mean "former, previous, first, etc." from which it was used to figuratively as "superior (in rank), forefather, and better."

The Marshal has duties similar to the Captain General in the Commandery and with the Marshal and Senior Deacon of the Lodge; he is the Master of Ceremonies and conductor of candidates for the Chapel. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged with arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." 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 Treasurer and Secretary have duties similar to those found in other Masonic and non-Masonic organizations as the financial and administrative officers respectively. The difference in this organization is that the Secretary is appointed by the Worthy Master instead of being elected as the Treasurer is.

Next is the Deputy Marshal who assists the Prior in the opening of a Chapel and the Marshal during initiations. This officer is similar to the Junior Deacon of the Blue Lodge as he ensures the security of the Chapel and like the Wardens of the Commandery ensures all present are members of the order.

Charity is pivotal to the Order of St. Thomas of Acon and as such one of the officers of the Chapel is known as the Almoner. Traditionally, an Almoner is an officer who was in charge of distributing alms or charitable offerings to the poor, the needy, and the destitute. In some Masonic Lodges that have an Almoner, this officer also oversaw the needs of the Brethren in that Lodge. Almoner is derived from the Latin "alemosinarius" meaning connected with alms which comes from variations of "alemosyna" meaning "pity or mercy."

Sitting in the West of the Chapel are Four Working Knights. Corresponding to the duties of the Four Ancients in the SRICF as lecturers or historians of the Chapel. These officers take the name of Knight as these officers relate the chivalric history of the order and the story of St. Thomas a Becket. The word "knight" comes from the Old English word "cniht" which was taken from Middle High German "kneht" meaning "boy, youth, servant, or vassal." Knight started referring to a military servant of a king or lord in the 11th century and after the Hundred Years War started becoming important as a rank of nobility. 

Similar to the Junior Deacon and Marshall within the Blue Lodge, the Herald attends to the door of the Chapel and presents newly initiated knights of the order. The etymological roots of Herald originate from the old French word 'heraut' meaning "messenger or envoy" which is said to stem from an older Germanic word "hariwald" meaning "commander of an army." Some argue about the etymology as Heralds were said to evolve from minstrels and were originally attached more with tournaments than actual warfare or the commanding of armies. To counter this though, it also thought that this title was original with commanders, but came to be applied to lower officers whose chief duty was to make proclamations. An alternate theory is that Herald is derived from the Old Germanic word "haren" which means "to call out." A Herald was traditionally an officer who conveyed messages or proclamations, acted as diplomats or ambassadors for monarchs, served as Master of Ceremonies, presided over tournaments, and oversaw the adoption of arms. 

The inner guard of the Chapel is known as the Doorkeeper and ensures the security of the Chapel while it is in session. His duties correspond to the Junior Deacon and the less used office of Pursuivant. Traditionally, a doorkeeper, as the name implies, is the keeper or guard of the door into the chapel. In researching this office, it corresponds to concierges of a hotel or a porter. The word "door" is rooted in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages with minor variations such as duru, dor, or dyrr. Keeper comes from late Old English "cepan" meaning to seize, hold, or care for.

The office of Cellarer is a peculiar one in Freemasonry. The duty of the Cellarer is simple, to fill in for an officer of the Chapel when that officer is absent. This position is significant because the Knight appointed to this position should be knowledgeable with all the various officer positions of the Chapel. The term "cellarer" seems to have been selected as a tie back to our historical roots as the original Order started out as a monastic order. Traditionally, a Cellarer is an official in a monastery who is responsible for the provisioning of food and drink; the abbot is concerned with the spiritual aspects of monastic life, the Cellarer was in charge of the physical aspect. The etymology of Cellarer is the Latin word "cellarium" meaning "pantry, storeroom, or group of cells."

Usually the outer guard of a Masonic group is appointed by the presiding officer, but within the Chapel, the Sentry is elected by the members of the Chapel per the Constitution and By-Laws. Historically, a Sentry is a guard at a point of passage, particularly to the entrance of a military base or encampment. Being the revival of a order of knighthood the use of Sentry is appropriate for this officer. This word is believed to be rooted in the Latin word "sentire" translating as "feel or perceive by the senses." Some scholars believe that the word was originally a worn down version of sanctuary. Regardless, by the 1630s, the word "sentry" was being used to designate "military guards posted around a camp."

References

1. Online Etymology Dictionary. n.d. https://www.etymonline.com/

2. Constitution of St. Thomas of Acon, USA. n.d. http://www.stthomasacon.org/Constitutions_USA_rev1.pdf?

3. Bray, J. H. (n.d.). Order of St. Thomas of Acon. Retrieved from Grand Master's Council: http://www.stthomasacon.org/jhbray.html

4. Forey, A. (n.d.). The Order of St Thomas of Acre. Retrieved from The ORB: http://the-orb.arlima.net/encyclop/religion/monastic/st._thos.html

5. The Golden Legend: St. Thomas Becket. (n.d.). Retrieved from Fordham University: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/gl-vol2-thomasbecket.asp

6. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. n.d. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/almoner