Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tarot Card of the Month: The Star

The Tarot Card for January is the Star. The Star is also referred to as Hope as well as the Celestial Mandate. The Star is the Seventeenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. The Star is associated with the planet Uranus, the element of Air, and the zodiacal sign of Aquarius. 

The Star represents hope, spiritual insight, liberation, and inspiration as well as reconnecting one's soul to the DIvine. As this card represents hope, it also teaches patience; patience that destiny, fate, is always at play. 

The Star card is depicted as a naked woman kneeling at the edge of a small pond with one foot on the ground and one in the water. She pours water from a jar in both of her hands; one jar is pouring onto the land and the other into the pool. The water poured onto the dry land drains into five rivulets. Behind her is a tree with a bird standing on its top. Above her is depicted a starry night: one giant golden star surrounded by seven smaller stars.

The naked woman is said to symbolize the soul and the containers symbolize the heart. Her nakedness represents that she has nothing to hide nor is she burdened by materialism nor is she ruled by fear. Her standing with one foot in the water and one on land shows her balancing between worlds, the material and spiritual, the conscious and the unconscious. 

Stars hold a plethora of symbolic meanings. Stars are associated with magic and luck ("to wish upon a star"). Stars also serve as guides as travelers, whether on land or sea, use the stars to help guide their way at night. A star led the three magi to the newborn Messiah in the New Testament. To be “born under a star” means to have good luck. In modern culture, to be a "star" is to be considered famous and/or talented. Polaris, the north star, holds a constant position at due north which makes it an easy landmark for those trying to determine their direction. To some, stars are divine guardians or represent divine beings; this can be seen in Christianity as Christ refers to himself in Revelations as the Morning Star. In some cultures, stars were seen as souls of those who have departed this world. 

Trees are often used to represent a medium through which realms communicate to each other (The Sephiroth in the Kabbalah or Yggdrasil in Norse mythology) and the bird is seen as a divine messenger.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Aspirant's Circle

Tonight the Idaho Rose Circle hosted the second Aspirant's Circle, this one was for the Magic Valley in Idaho; the first one occurred in Boise and was well attended. With the Societas Rosicruciana In Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) taking root in Idaho, I decided to hold an information night known as an Aspirant's Circle. I got this idea from the inaugural Rocky Mountain SRICF Regional Conference where the Chief Adept of Arizona discussed a similar meeting held in Phoenix. The Aspirant's Circle in Idaho is meant to be a casual, open form for Master Masons to get an introduction into the Society.

The meeting includes two presentations: 1) An Introduction to the SRICF and 2) An Introduction to Rosicrucianism. Attendance doesn't guarantee an invitation to the SRICF, but it gave the Idaho Fratres an idea who is interested in Rosicrucianism as well as those who fit the aims and objects of the Society. Tonight was well attended and I had a great discussion with the Brothers.

Tonight, I had two other Fratres assist me. One of the attendees was the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho who will be initiated into the Grades of the First Order (I° - IV°) Sunday into the Wyoming College before transferring membership to the Idaho Rose Circle. Now, it's time for bed so we can get onto the road bright and early for Wyoming.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Constitutionality of Emergency Management Policy of the US Government

In the Summer of 2013, I took a special seminar provided by a Doctoral Student University of California-Santa Barbra. The seminar was named "Political Science and Literature: Security in SciFi." This class looked at how various forms of media influenced preparedness, emergency management, and national defense policy. For my final assignment, I did a short paper where I took a unique approach and instead of just analyzing a policy, I researched the Constitutional justification behind it. Enjoy.

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In his 2006 article, State Executive Lawmaking in Crisis, Jim Rossi states “Courts and scholars have largely overlooked the constitutional source and scope of a state executive's powers to avert and respond to crises.” The focus of my paper concerns the constitutional scope and restraint of national preparedness by an analysis on the government report President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection as well as the scholarly article Preparing for the Next Emergency by Andrew Lakoff. These two documents are surprisingly silent or vague on Constitutional restraint and authority that allow for agencies to perform the operations they do. It is most likely left broad, vague, and ambiguous so it can encapsulate future, unknown advancements that would be made, and later become a new vulnerability as well. Preparedness seems to be advocated as needing vague and broad powers so that leaders and proper agencies can continually evolve to ensure future protection of critical infrastructure and national defense. My research turned up a few modern scholarly articles concerning this topic, but several I found came from the early to mid-19th century during the times of the world wars, red scares, and threats from the Cold War.

I began my analysis on both documents with first searching what was seen on the surface, the actual written words. In the governmental document the use of the word “Constitution” appears only 3-times in the entire report and in those instances, it talks not of restraint, but in this section, it states that Constitution allows for the government intervention as ‘general welfare’ includes the protection of critical infrastructure. I also looked for any talk of “restraint” and this word appears nowhere in the document. In reading through this report, I kept noticing the use of the term “the government”, but never did it truly clarify what branch it was referring to. The term “Legislative” appears frequently throughout the document, normally in the form of agencies proposing or promoting new legislation which assists them in the performance of duties. I ran these same terms in the Lakoff article and “Constitution, restraint, and legislative” turned up zero results while “government” was scattered all over the document in different concepts, none of which discussed restraint on government action. In my analysis I believe these documents may refer to all branches, but on most occasions, I believe they are referring to the Executive Branch of government under which the federal agencies that would be involved with preparedness fall under.

In the United States of America of all places, the view of government and its scope can be a tricky thing. Modern American political thought is often split between those who hold onto the ideals of the Founders and some who side with the more Progressive view that emerged out of the late 19th and early 20th century. Preparedness can be associated with the welfare state championed by the Progressives. We see a common theme between the two and that is “how much is enough?” What is that ethical and moral boundary between oppressive intrusion and, as the report points out, the responsibility of the government in ensuring “domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty?” Is there a line where the People transcend the Constitution to allow the government to have greater reign in securing the nation from that which we may not know and may not see? Do we do nothing in fear of the name tyranny or do in fear of the unknown allow tyranny to spread? The government’s report’s answer to these questions is: "No, the government cannot do enough to secure our future and that the government must be ever vigilant and ever changing." This report makes the case that the government must be involved as even governmental services can be disrupted by a well-placed attack on our critical infrastructures. To me this implies the report supports the idea of ever expanding government that is involved where it sees a vulnerability which with advancing technology could be anything that we, the citizenry or government, become dependent upon. If preparedness and progressivism is closely aligned the government would find no issue with further government expansion and intrusion into everyday life because, according to Dr. Yenor, progressives believe “necessitous men are not free men” and the more the government can do for them the freer they are. If the people are stuck worrying about preparedness in their environment they would not be free to pursue a better life and self-improvement.

Preparedness can be seen as a progressive policy or at least reliant upon progressive policy, particularly with the view of ever evolving, changing goals and possible solutions to emerging or unknown threats is similar to the progressive’s ideology that government must constantly change and evolve with the times to better serve the people. I say this also because at the end of the Executive Summary it states, “The relationships that have stood us in such good stead through the end of the second millennium must give way to new ones better suited to the third” which Dr. Yenor explains in a mark of progressivism as they historical relativist. They don’t believe the government should be a static mechanism, but a living organism that evolves as humans do, and that we should shed past policies and take on those necessary to prosper in the future. With this report we see that it focuses on that any complacency, any static goals would be a danger to the security of the nation as our threats are continually emerging, particularly with the advancement and dependence on new technologies, when it states:
“More than any other country, we rely on a set of increasingly accessible and technologically reliable infrastructures, which in turn have a growing collective dependence on domestic and global networks. This provides great opportunity, but it also presents new vulnerabilities that can be exploited.” (4-5)
With these new vulnerabilities we see that the government seeks to work with and intervene with the private sector to ensure some standards are met to mitigate future risks and vulnerabilities.

While the government report focuses less upon Constitutional restraints, the Commission still recognized the political concept of federalism and that preparedness must work across the jurisdictional authorities of federal, state, and local governments, as well as partnering with the private sector. The report implies that since an attack on critical infrastructure preparedness can affect multiple states and that leaving it to the States would make response ineffective that the powers should lie with the federal government who would partner with the proper local and state governments. This issue has existed since the beginning of the US and in 1966 an article by Benet Gellman pointed out the federal government “cannot do the job alone, and that it will need substantial support from the states in such an emergency. The proper relationship to be maintained between the federal government and the states under nuclear attack conditions should be carefully developed before an attack.” (pg. 439) The report states, “Government has an undeniable role in accomplishing the tasks that government alone can undertake--including law enforcement at local, state and federal levels, and national intelligence, defense and diplomacy.” (p. 35) Even though it must work within a federalist system, the government report details that all preparedness is centered on the federal government, specifically under the direction of the Executive Branch. Lakoff’s article discussing the history of preparedness, but does point out the problems programs have faced with federal-state relations in the past. Summarized, the federal government recognizes the hurdles it must jump ensuring it doesn’t step on State sovereignty, but still doesn’t necessarily see them as viable Constitutional restraints its preparedness policies since most threats are interstate issues.

In the analysis of the governmental and scholarly report, they speak nothing of Constitutional restraint, but as we know it is the Constitution that empowers the government to have such a wide and broad scope of power in ensuring protection of critical infrastructures. It’s ironic that in the report it cites nothing from Articles of the US Constitution, but rather quotes from the Preamble and then infers that general welfare refers to anything necessary to accomplish the protection of the national infrastructure. Reading through the commission’s report we see terms used to infer that legislation needs to be proposed to catch up with needed operations and ensure the best practices, but that since it is too slow to do so on its own that agencies need help drive. Due to this and the lack of definition in the Articles of the Constitution, these agencies of the government must still derive their power from the Constitution to be considered lawful and the Preamble is a part of the Constitution that spells out general powers of the government, and gives them reasonable justification for their actions.

The commission’s report it speaks once of judicial review and in my research, I came upon an article that talked about the Supreme Court’s approach to deciding constitutionality of national security policies and legislation. I couldn’t find anything that analyzed preparedness as whole, but I still found the article intriguing because in the opening paragraph the author, Geoffrey Stone, stated “As a matter of first principle, logic suggests that judges addressing such cases should start with a healthy dose of deference to military and executive officials.” Through this article Mr. Stone states that the Courts in the early to mid-20th century were prone to side with the government as long as they gave sufficient reason for any intrusions on civil liberties and does so by stating case law. The article then comes to modern times where the Courts have challenged the actions of the military and Executive Branch during the War on Terror. This article discussed that early Judges may give way to Executive as they were seen as experts in this field while another article by Norman Swazo stated the “Supreme Court has never been anxious to act as referee” in regard to Presidential powers. The single mention of this in the report came in a bullet point discussing government interaction with the private sector, but would need judicial review to ensure the public’s confidence in the government’s handling of personal information.

What I pulled from this report is that the federal government is to be considered the expert of preparedness while partnering with other entities like state governments or the private sector (i.e. infrastructure owners) that are less capable to protect, mitigate, respond, and recover from an attack than the federal government is. In following the suggestions of the commission’s report, it would be the government who came up with the standard by which critical infrastructure would be identified and proper preparedness policies were put in place. This broad power would leave the government with the authority of intervening in the private sector. In looking at this report the Commission deems that it is following the Constitution as common defense would require the securing and protection of critical infrastructures. It also is not worried about the legality of it all as it infers that the experts and necessary agencies should drive legislation that would be needed. Again, this is most likely due to the fact that the government relies upon vague and general language so that the government may evolve as needed to mitigate the threat, protect vulnerabilities, and prepare for the future and unknown.

Rather than talking about the Constitutionality of preparedness this report talks about legal hurdles it faces particularly outdated or poorly written laws that will hinder federal agencies in their operations. This report argues that agencies should help drive legislation to further assist them in their own operations. From the language used in the government document it appears this commission infers that the Legislature is incapable of keeping up with the proper laws so federal agencies need to help drive the creation of necessary laws. According to Woodrow Wilson, the President needs assistance in the execution of laws, but as the President has evolved so should the cabinet and departments that assist him. Wilson is considered the father of public administration, sometimes referred to today as the bureaucracy that he saw as the government in action, specifically the federal agencies under the Executive Branch. Wilson made the following quote in regard to politics versus administration, “Politics is thus the special province of the statesman, administration of the technical official.” “Policy does nothing without the aid of administration”; but administration is not therefore politics.” (pg. 7) Wilson led the way with advancing the need for a body within the government that would rule by wisdom, science, and expertise rather than possible misguided political ideologies.

The report recognizes the sovereignty of the private sector, but states they have a responsibility to partner and share with the government what is needed to secure our nation. The report recognizes the legitimate concerns over the issue of confidentiality, protecting private information, and other concerns, but states that “security considerations justify limited exemptions from these restrictions.” (pg. 87) In reading this report it continually states that private information should be protected, but from non-government outsiders. Obviously, it never makes the case that information may be abused by the government itself. Nothing from the government document alludes to the possibility of government abuse of private information and, in keeping with the previous discussion of progressive ideology and its ties to preparedness, progressives believe that as man is capable of moving past tyrannical government. As FDR stated in his 1932 Commonwealth Club Address, “The day of enlightened administration has come.” (pg. 8)

The government report also seems intentionally broad on discussing critical infrastructures and new vulnerabilities as well as shared threats. During class we were asked what was left out, but we could infer most services, technologies, and capabilities could be categorized under those named in the report, so nothing was truly left out of the commission’s report. It is most likely left broad, vague, and ambiguous so it can encapsulate future, unknown advancements that would be made, and later become a new vulnerability as well. Preparedness seems to be advocated as needing vague and broad powers so that leaders and proper agencies can continually evolve to ensure future protection of critical infrastructure and national defense. It seems to be a slippery slope they walk upon using such vague language and the report speaking of just the Preamble of the US Constitution, but it seems to be the best-case scenario as they point out laws are inadequate, and the Constitution does not define their specific powers, nor does it forbid it.

References

1. Gellman, Benet D. "Planning for a National Nuclear Emergency: The Organization of Government and Federal-State Relations." Virginia Law Review (Virginia Law Review,) 52, no. 3 (April 1966): 435-462. 

2. Lakoff, Andrew. "Preparing for the Next Emergency." Public Culture 19, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 247-271. 

3. Marsh, Robert T. "Critical Foundations: Protecting America’s Infrastructures." President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, Washington DC, 1997. 

4. Stone, Geoffrey R. "National Security v. Civil Liberties." California Law Review (California Law Review, Inc.) 95, no. 6 (December 2007): 2203-2212. 

5. Roosevelt, Franklin D. “Commonwealth Club Address.” 1932. 

6. "The Duty of Congress to Check the President's Prerogative in National Security Policy." International Journal on World Peace (Professors World Peace Academy) 21, no. 4 (December 2004): 21-62. 

7. Wilson, Woodrow. The Study of Administration. Princeton, 1886.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Officers of a Commandery of Knights Templar

Templar Masonry, or Chivalric Masonry, is the final body of the American York Rite and consists of three orders: Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and Order of the Temple (or Knights Templar). The basic organizational unit for the Knights Templar is known as the Commandery and is composed of the following offijcers: Eminent Commandery, Generalissimo, Captain General, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Recorder, Prelate, Standard Bearer, Sword Bearer, Warder, and Sentinel. As I've discussed them in previous articles, I will not be talking about the Treasurer or Recorder (Secretary).

The Eminent Commander presides over a Commandery of Knights Templar in the US, but in places like England the presiding officer is known as Preceptor (and presides over a Preceptory). The rank of Commander is a commonly used military rank, but in the medieval Templar order, Commanders were knights or sergeants in charge of local commanderies. This officer carries the honorary title of Eminent which is rooted in the Latin word "eminentem" meaning "standing out, projecting, prominent, or high." The word Commander comes from the Old English "comandeor" which stems from the Latin "comandare" meaning "to order, to command, or enjoin" This officer is equivalent to the Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge. The jewel of the Eminent Commander is a passion cross surmounted by rays of light.

The second-in-command is the Generalissimo who sits on the right of the Eminent Commmandery. He is charged to assist the Commander in the dispatch of his duties and, in his absence, to preside over the Commandery as well as introducing the Grand Commander and his staff when they visit. Generalissimo comes from Italian "generale" and the suffix -issimo, itself from the Latin -issimus, meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". This officer is comparable to the Senior Warden of a Lodge. In medieval Knights Templar, this officer would be equivalent to the Seneschal. The jewel of the Generalissimo is a Square surmounted by a Paschal Lamb. The square reminding us of the lesson of morality from the Blue Lodge and the lamb representing the Christian nature of the order.

The third dais officer of the Commandery is the Captain General and sits to the left of the Eminent Commander. He ensures the Commandery is prepared for the reception of the Commander, and essentially executes a majority of all commands whether communicated through the Generalissimo or from the Eminent Commander directly. The rank of Captain General has been and is still used to denote a senior ranking officer or head of state in some situations. 
The word "Captain" comes from is rooted in the Late Latin "capitaneus" meaning chief. The word "General" comes from the Latin "generalis" meaning "relating to all, of a whole class, or generic" and which was used to denote a commanding officer starting in the 14th century. This officer is equivalent to the Junior Warden in the Blue Lodge. In medieval Knights Templar, this officer would be equivalent to the Marshall. The jewel of the Captain General is a Level surmounted by a Cock (rooster).

The next officer is the Senior Warden who is more closely aligned with the Senior Deacon of the Lodge as he is in charge of conducting candidates through a part of the Order of the Temple. This officer sits on the southern side of the Commandery known as the "Southwest angle of the Triangle". The word "Senior" comes from the Latin "seniorem" meaning "older." The word "Warden" comes from the Proto-Germanic word "wardon" meaning to "to watch or guard." The jewel of the Senior Warden is the a hollow square with an arm inside holding the Sword of Justice.

The final elected officer is the Junior WardenThis officer is comparable to the Marshall with some duties of the Senior Deacon of the Blue Lodge. Like the Senior Warden, he also conducts candidates during a portion of the initiation and is in charge of the Chamber of Reflection. This officer is stationed at the "Northwest angle of the Triangle." The word "junior" comes from the Latin word "iunior" meaning "young." The jewel of the Junior Warden is the Eagle with a flaming sword in his talons.

The senior appointed officer is the Prelate and whose duties correspond to the Chaplain of the Blue Lodge; there is one difference between the two as the Prelate officiates over the Obligations taken by candidates of the order. A Prelate is traditionally a high ranking member of the clergy and the word is derived from the Latin word 'prelatus' referring to a clergyman of "high rank or of preference over others." In the medieval order, one of the most important positions within a Templar Commandery was that of the Chaplain. This man had many important jobs, not ecclesiastical, but also secular in many ways. He was an internal priest for the Order. He had the power to hear confessions and to give absolution for sins; Templars were forbidden to give confession to anyone other than a cleric in the Templar Order without Papal approval. These clerics were not answerable to local clerics or bishops, but only to the Pope. The Prelate sits in front of and to the right of the Generalissimo. The jewel of the Prelate is the triple triangle with a red passion cross in the center of each triangle.

Sitting in the West of the Commandery, the Standard Bearer guards the banners of the Templar order. This officer corresponds in duties with the Marshall of the Blue Lodge. Historically the duties of the Standard Bearer included being the paymaster and ensuring the equipment (to include the horses) was kept in working order. It should be noted that although he was referred to as the Standard Bearer he never carried the banner, but led the procession which carried and protected it. The word "standard" comes from the Old French word "estandart" meaning "military banner." Some theorize it comes from a Frankish word meaning "stand fast or firm" which would make sense because as long as the Beauceant remained up, the medieval templars would not stop fighting during a battle. The word "bearer" comes from Old English word "berere" meaining "one who carries." The jewel of this officer is a plumb surmounted by the banner of the Order.

Sitting to the right of the Standard Bearer is the Sword Bearer. This officer is charged with protecting the Standard Bearer as well as leading the detail to present the flag for the Pledge. He has duties corresponding to the Junior Steward of the Lodge. The word "sword" comes from the Old High German "swertha" meaning "cutting weapon." The jewel of this officer is the crossed swords within a triangle.

Sitting to the left of the Standard Bearer is the WarderThis officer corresponds to the Junior Deacon of the Blue Lodge as he attends to alarms at the doors to the Asylum and ensures the Commandery is duly guarded as well as announces the approach and departure of the Eminent Commander. The word "Warder", like Warden, comes from the Proto-Germanic word "wardon" meaning to "to watch or guard." The jewel of the Warder is a hollow square with trumpet and crossed swords within it.

The final appointed officer of the Commandery is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The Sentinel guards the Commander from without the door to ensure the Sir Knights are not caught or taken by surprise by those wishing to cause harm or those who are not entitled to be there. The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is there job to prevent intrusion by enemy or those unauthorized. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The jewel of this officer is a hollow square with a sword contained within it.

References

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

2. Macoy, R. (1867). The Masonic Manual. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonic_manual/knights_of_malta.htm 

3. Marshall, Jr., G. L. (2011, March). Some Symbolic Interpretations of the Commandery Jewels of Office. Knights Templar magazine.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mark Masonry

Introduction

As we are all familiar with, the first of the Capitular or Royal Arch degrees is that of Mark Master. Mark Masonry is one of the oldest degrees in Freemasonry and helps bridge operative and speculative Freemasonry. The use of the mark is quite ancient and, while modernized, is still used today. This presentation will be focusing on the symbolism of the degree of Mark Master, the history of the Mark, and the history of Mark Masonry.

Modern Freemasonry is said to have spawned from Operative Mason Guilds in Great Britain. Operative Masonry emerged in England after the Norman Conquest when the erection of fortresses was necessary. During the medieval period, the largest employer of operative Masons was the Roman Catholic Church who pushed for the erection of cathedrals, abbeys, and monasteries. However, in 1517, a Catholic Priest posted a document to the door of a local church criticizing the Catholic Church and some of its policies. This priest was named Martin Luther and his actions spawned the Reformation. As a result of the Reformation, Protestantism arose and the Roman Catholic Church lost much of its power and influence, and the requirement for the construction of new religious buildings dropped dramatically. The Operative Mason Guilds faced increasing unemployment and led to the admission of non-stone workers into the guilds and the rise of Speculative Freemasonry.




History of the Mark

These Operative Masons employed a practice of engraving symbols upon their work to either designate its placement or that they were the one who completed the work. This practice has been found to be used as far back as 2500 BC. Marks have been found in Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia Minor, India, Central and South America, England, France, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, and throughout the Middle East. Being Freemasons, we obviously focus on the use of the mark within our Craft, but the use of the mark is found among other trades. According to Robert Gould, a well-known Masonic historian:
Merchants, ecclesiastics, and other persons of respectability not entitled to bear arms adopted marks or notes of those trades and professions.
Today this practice of marking one’s work is seen with the placement of corporate and company logos on products. It still has the same purpose as a company or individual is placing their reputation at stake by putting their respective symbol on their work; if they produce sub-standard work then they will suffer the consequences just as our operative descendants faced if they failed to meet the parameters set out by the Master on his trestleboard.

Whether it was the stone masons in medieval Europe or the workman at the Temple or in the quarries of Solomon, most were illiterate and their mark served a number of practical purposes. 1) It served as one’s signature and helped facilitate the payment of wages for the work rendered. 2) The mark was also said to have been used to indicate the stone’s placement in the building. 3) Marks were used by overseers to mark that the stone had been inspected and approved. This last point is of interest as we’re told each workman possessed their own mark, but in researching it seems that not every Mason was given the honor of having their own mark or pass their work directly to the overseers. Some workman, such as Entered Apprentices, were not skilled or knowledgeable enough so either someone had to mark the stone for them or had to evaluate their work.

As with the ancient custom, we Mark Masons today choose a mark that is recorded and kept by the Chapter and can never be changed. Today, we use other devices to draw our Mark, which allows us to come up with all sorts of designs, but, in the days of old, marks were primarily a combination of straight lines as they only used the Chisel and the Mallet (two prominent symbols of Mark Masonry).


The Degree of Mark Master

A candidate for this degree is placed in a quarry among the workman who is completing their work and attempting to receive their wages. The quarries used in the erection of King Solomon's Temple were limestone which was nearly pure white in color and can be highly polished. Workman would have been paid on the sixth hour of the sixth day which for the Hebrew calendar was Friday at noon. For the Hebrew people, the day ended at sunset with Saturday being the Sabbath or Holy Day, and a day of rest.

The organization of a Mark Lodge is similar to that of a Blue Lodge, but with some notable changes of adding the Overseers and the loss of the Stewards. However, as the Mark Lodge is under the auspices of the Royal Arch Chapter it is important to show the comparison between those two organizational units:
Mark Lodge.............................................................Royal Arch Chapter
Right Worshipful Master...........................................Excellent High Priest 
Senior Warden.........................................................King 
Junior Warden..........................................................Scribe 
Senior Deacon.........................................................Principal Sojourner 
Junior Deacon..........................................................Royal Arch Captain 
Master Overseer......................................................Master of the Third Veil
Senior Overseer.......................................................Master of the Second Veil 
Junior Overseer.......................................................Master of the First Veil
Marshall...................................................................Captain of the Host
Before discussing the symbolism of Mark Masonry, it is interesting to note that there have been variations in the name and rituals. In researching early Mark Masonry there were two degrees conferred: Mark Man and Mark Master. Mark Man was for Fellowcrafts and Mark Master was reserved for those who had been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. There also have been a number of degrees that have employed the Mark such as Cain's Mark, Christian Mark, and Traveling Mark. Due to there being no governing body until the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, there was no regulation and thus there appear to be variations in the rituals used. From the History of Royal Arch Masonry (1956):
From a manuscript found in 1918, the old York Mark ritual dramatize the story of Daniel interpreting the King's dream is found in Esdras. A Sojourner, whose name is Giblum, had been discovered after diligent search throughout the kingdom. But the king in this instance proved to be Nebuchadnezzar instead of Cyrus, Darius, or Belshazzar in some other rituals.
Today, as Mark Masonry is under the Royal Arch Chapter the color associated with the degree is red. However, when the Mark Lodges were independent the aprons were said to have been white bordered with purple. Under the Ancient & Accepted Rite, the color associated with Mark Masonry was yellow.

The Mark Master Mason degree teaches and explains many valuable lessons such as how to receive the wages talked about in the Blue Lodge, the value of labor, integrity, individual responsibility, and humility. It also teaches one not to judge one by simply on outward appearances, but seek the inner, hidden truth and beauty. In this degree, we are introduced to the Mallet and Chisel, which, alongside the keystone, are prominent symbols of this degree as both of these instruments are essential preparing stone for the builder's use.

We are taught that through the Mallet we are to correct our irregularities and superfluous habits, and is similar to the Gavel talked about in the 1st degree and can be aligned with the Cardinal Virtue, Temperance. The Chisel is to stone, what education and discipline are to our mind, which reveals the hidden beauty and virtues hidden beneath the surface. It was through these two instruments that our ancient Operative Brethren were able to place their Mark upon their piece of work.

No arch would be complete though with a keystone. A keystone is a wedge-shaped stone placed at the apex of an arch, and is the last piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position. This keystone gives the arch its strength and ability to bear the weight. The keystone being designed by the Grand Master Hiram Abiff and sculpted by a workman represented by the candidate in Mark Masonry is a symbol of completion, the act of which is performed in the Most Excellent Master degree. The overseers show the dangers of the uninitiated passing judgment on something they lack knowledge about. As a Christian, I see the keystone as an allegory for Christ. From Ephesians 2:20, “Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Keystone is a synonym of the cornerstone. We as living arches are nothing without God and his Word, our spiritual Keystone.

During the conferral of the degree, the Overseers repeat the phrase “Good Work, True Work, Square Work.” The word “good” can sometimes be subjective and as we see in this degree, what is considered rubbish may not be. What someone determines to be good may be determined by the knowledge and skill they possess. Good Work should be seen as that which is made from the best, most appropriate material. True Work, regardless of its shape, should be precise in its dimensions; not too thick or thin, nor too short or too long. Square Work signifies that the work is not only proportioned in size, but also that the stone will fit into the work of adjacent stones; as we are taught in the Entered Apprentice degree, the stone used for the Temple were fit together with such exact nicety that it had more the appearance of the handiwork of the Supreme Architect of the Universe than human hands.

The Mark degree reveals to a candidate the process of receiving one's wages. Previously mentioned, not everyone was allowed to have a mark so some scholars speculate that only the Mark Masons received the half-shekel discussed in the ritual while the rest would have received other wages; in the Fellowcraft degree, we are told of corn, wine, and oil. To the modern Mark Mason, the parable of labor in this degree represents study and our wages are truth.


The Timeline of Mark Masonry

While I will discuss many different dates, the first two are of particular importance. The first date is July 31, 1599, where the Lodge records are signed by the warden and attested to by his mark. However, these records make no mention of a Mark ritual; the ritual seems to have occurred with the emergence of Speculative Masons. If you research enough, this date being one of the earliest records is not surprising because the year prior William Schaw published a set of statutes which required the recording of Mason’s Mark:
“No master or fellow of craft shall be received or admitted without there being present six masters and two entered 'prentices, the warden of the lodge being one of the six, when the day of receiving the new fellow of craft or master shall be duly booked and his mark inserted in the same book, with the names of the six admitters and entered 'prentices, as also the names of the intenders [intendaris-instructors] which shall be chosen for every person so entered in the book of the lodge. Providing always that no man be admitted without an essay and sufficient trial of his skill and worthiness in his vocation and craft.”
The Mark Book of Lodge Aberdeen, in Scotland, is still preserved and whose records go back to 1670. It is interesting to note that of the 49 members that first signed this book, only 10 of them were operative Masons. The speculative Masons were known as “geomatic” and the operative ones were named “domatic”. Geomatic is defined as the branch of science that deals with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data relating to the earth's surface. Domatic is defined as belonging to a crystallographic class of symmetry of the monoclinic system that is characterized by a dome.

While it doesn’t seem to have directly influenced Mark Masonry in England, there was written in 1462 the Torgau Ordinances that mentions the requirements of having a mark. These ordinances were composed of 112 articles governing the conduct of operative masons in that region of Europe. I want to highlight 9 of them:
25. And if a master or fellow come free of the craft or trade, and demand a mark of a workmaster, to him shall he grant his wish, and he shall give for the service of God that which shall be adjudged of master and fellows. And to master and fellows shall he pledge the mark doubly.
26. No master shall withhold his mark from his apprentice for a further space than [illegible]. days, unless it be that the apprentice has wasted his master's time, he shall then first do his behest before that and the feast.
27. And no master shall show any reluctance to pledge his apprentice's mark, and the several clericals whom he may bid thereto, with a penny wheaten bread of xv. gr., a loaf of xv. gr., meat, and two stoups of wine; and the apprentice shall not bid more than x. fellows, and if he bid more then shall he buy more, that the master suffer not thereby.
30. The master may lend his apprentice a mark to travel during his apprenticeship, if the master have no employment, and must let him travel.
31. No master shall allow his apprentice to pledge his mark, unless he have served his time.
50. The warden shall willingly choose and mark out stones for the fellows and apprentices, and inspect and see that they be well and truly made of the fellows; and if he do not so, and the master discover errors that anything be untrue, then shall he forfeit to the master viij. kr. and the fellow vj. kr.
51. And if a warden mark a stone because it is of no use, then shall he [the workman] lose his wages that he had otherwise earned on that stone, unless it be made of use.
56. And the warden shall mark the under side of the stones of fellows and apprentices, should the fellows and apprentices fail to answer the knocks, and not appear to the right time at breakfast; and if he take not the fines so shall he pay them himself.
72. Whatsoever fellow shall not offer assistance to turn his stone this way or that, to fetch it or to turn it over when necessary, or places his mark thereon as if it were truly made, and that before it shall have been proven, so that it be passed unproven to the store, or improperly finishes his work, he shall stand to forfeit one half pound of wax.
94. If a fellow have not served his time, or have bought his mark and not honestly earned it, or if a hired servant or help establishes himself and teaches to work in stone, with him shall no man take service.
The first recorded instance of conferring a Mark degree happened on September 1, 1769, at Phoenix Royal Arch Chapter which was affiliated with Friendship Lodge No.257 in Portsmouth, England, at George Tavern. The conferral was presided over by Thomas Dunckerley. Thomas Dunckerley was a very well-known and accomplished Mason. He was, at the time of this conferral, a Provincial Grand Master, a Grand Superintendent for Royal Arch Masons in England and would go on to become the first Grand Master of the first Grand Conclave of Knights Templar (a predecessor of the Great Priory of England and Wales that exists today). Some credit him with inventing the Royal Arch degree, but there is debate as there is evidence of its existence a decade before he became a Mason. There is also debate as to whether Dunckerley created the ritual for Mark Masonry, but some argue he did not because of what the minutes of that meeting wherein it is written:
“The Pro. G. M. Thomas Dunckerley, brought the warrants of the chapter and having lately received the ‘Mark’ he made the brethren ‘Mark Masons’ and ‘Mark Masters’."
Mark Masonry began to spread and, like most of early American history, Mark Masonry is thought to have been brought over via merchants and the military. For our Canadian Brothers, the earliest record of it being conferred is 1784 in Nova Scotia [2]. For newly formed United States, Mark Masonry is said to have taken root in Connecticut, but the dates are debated [2]. Some argue that it was first done in 1791, while others, like Brent Morris, argue that it happened back in 1783 [9,10]. On a side note, when I was researched early Knights Templar, I found that on August 28, 1769, William Davis received the “four steps”, as it was called, that of Excellent, Super Excellent, Royal Arch, and Knights Templar in St. Andrew's Royal Arch Lodge in Massachusetts. It did not include Mark Masonry or at least reference Mark Masonry. Going back to Mark Masonry timeline, there is a record of it being conferred in New York in 1791 and then in Boston in 1793 [2]. Mark degree conferred in Blue Lodges, the Scottish Rite (prior to the formation of the Supreme Councils), Chapters of Royal Arch Masonry, Knights Templar Encampments (now known as Commanderies), and independent Mark Mason Lodges. Through the 18th century, there was little oversight and regulation of Mark Masonry anywhere in the world.

The next significant event was on October 24, 1797, when the General Grand Chapter was formed. Over the next few years, other concordant bodies also started forming formal governing bodies and ritual standardization started to occur across the board. It is interesting to note that the General Grand Chapter issued Mark Lodge Charters up to 1853. After that, this degree was under the authority of the Chapter. In England, Mark Masonry has its own Grand Lodge. In reading through the History of the General Grand Chapter, this practice of chartering Mark Lodges was unique to towns with small populations. The Mark Lodges only had the power to confer the degree and this was done in places where it was impossible to confer any other degrees. There are Mark Lodges still in existence in the US: one is in Utah and I believe there are two Mark Lodges in Pennsylvania.

While in England, Mark Masonry is independent of the Royal Arch, I believe American Mark Masonry was brought under the Chapter through the efforts of Thomas Smith Webb. Considered by many to be the Father of the American Rite, Thomas Smith-Webb authored the book “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. This book was published on September 14, 1797 (just prior to the formation of the General Grand Chapter), and was said to be a compendium of William Preston's work as well as his own alterations, additions, and works. 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.

Mark Masonry in England is an interesting subject to research:
“After the Union of the two Grand Lodges in England in 1813, the position of the Mark was difficult, because the new UGLE tried to ignore all the further degrees apart from the Royal Arch. However, by now, the Mark was an integral part of Masonry in Scotland, Ireland, and the USA."
While Mark Masonry is England, all attempts have been made to bring Mark Masonry under the authority of the UGLE, but all attempts have failed.


Conclusion

It’s easy for us in conferring our degrees in festival form to rush past the Mark and forget about it, and thus forget about its connection to our operative roots. Some Chapters confer this degree for free on any Master Mason to muster interest in the York Rite. Some jurisdictions open Mark Master Lodges as “table lodges,” which act as a social focus for the local York Rite bodies.