Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Color Purple

While blue is the color most associated with Ancient Craft Masonry, the color purple comes up right behind. Purple epitomizes royalty, and particularly King Solomon and Hiram of Tyre who are central in the legend of Ancient Craft Masonry which includes the Blue Lodge, Royal Arch Masonry, Cryptic Masonry, and why it is used by Grand Lodge officers in their collars and aprons.

The color purple is the intermediate between the colors blue and red, and is sometimes called violet or mauve. It is the major color that occurs the least frequently in nature and was the first color to be synthesized. Purple is also the most powerful wavelength of the visible wavelengths of electromagnetic energy and is the hardest color for the eye to discriminate.

The word "purple" is etymologically rooted in the Old English word "purpul" which came from the Latin "purpura" which in turn came from the Greek word "πορφύρα" or porphura. The first use of the word "purple" is in 975 AD in England.

The color purple is associated monarchs because it was so rare and so expensive to produce that only rulers could afford to purchase it; it is also associated with wisdom, dignity, grandeur, rarity, romance, penitence, magic, the feminine, mystery, and piety as well as vanity, decadence, and extravagance.

The original dye used to make purple came from the city of Tyre, which is now in modern-day Lebanon, sometime around 1900 BC. The dye was made from small mollusks, called the spiny dye-murex snail, that were found in the Tyrian region of the Mediterranean. It took 9,000 or more of these mollusks to produce one gram of Tyrian purple. The snail's shell would be cracked open, the snail removed and soaked, a tiny gland removed, and the gland's juices extracted and then left in the sun. The sun would turn the juice to white then to yellow-green then green then violet and then dark red. The process had to be stopped just right to get the desired purple color. In recent years, the process was recreated and to make an ounce would cost over $2,000.

According to myth, Melqart, the guardian god of Tyre, and a nymph named Tyrus were walking on a beach when Heracles' dog bit into a mullosk's shell and its mouth turned purple. Tyrus asked Heracles to make her a garment of purple and thus Tyrian purple was created/discovered. Melqart is believed to be the equivalent to Heracles who is also known as Hercules.

Early on, the color purple was worn by the rulers of Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Persia. Because these leaders were often deified by their subjects, the color purple came to represent divinity and holiness. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was used by the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire then to other dynasties and kingdoms. It is also used by Bishops in a number of Christian churches and by professors of European universities.

Purple was also used by the Polynesians, the Chinese, the Japanese, Mayans, and Aztecs. In these other regions of the world the color purple was made from sea urchins, other types of snail, or the logwood tree (Haematoxylum campechianum) which grows in Mexico; most of these other dyes though did not have the longevity of Tyrian purple.

The use of purple by royalty waned after the Byzantine Empire fell in 1453, but was still used by some monarchs. During Elizabethan England, the color was regulated so much that only the Royal Family could wear it. In 1856, an English chemist named William Henry Perkin created, by accident, a synthetic purple compound while attempting to create an anti-malaria drug. He patented the dye and made a fortune from it.


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2. Barbieri, A. (2015, March 12). The Invention of the Colour Purple. Retrieved from The Guardian: 

3. Bourn, J. (2011, January 5). Color Meaning: Meaning of the Color Purple. Retrieved from Bourn Creative: 

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5. Kingsbury, H. A. (1919, July). Significance of Masonic Colors. Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: 

6. Melina, R. (2011, June 03). Why Is the Color Purple Associated With Royalty? Retrieved from Live Science: 

7. Olesen, J. (n.d.). Purple Color Meaning - The Color Purple. Retrieved from Color Meanings: 

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9. Shroeder, J. (n.d.). Color Symbolism and Freemasonry. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: 

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11. The Meanings of Purple. (n.d.). Retrieved from Color Matters:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Josiah Drummond

There are a number of famous Masons that one can read about: William Preston who contributed greatly to Masonic ritual and research, John Theophilus Desaguliers who is considered the Father of modern Speculative Freemasonry, Thomas Smith-Webb who is referred to as the Father of the American Rite, and Albert Pike who revised the ritual of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the USA and later served as the Sovereign Grand Commander. Within the York Rite, we can look at such men Jeremy Ladd-Cross who is known as the Father of the Cryptic Rite and Ephraim A. Kirby who was the first General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in the US. However, not much is ever discussed about Josiah Drummond. This distinguished Brother, among other accomplishments, would serve the Craft as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine, General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of the United States for the Royal Order of Scotland, and the first General Grand Master of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International.

Josiah Drummond was born on August 30, 1827, in Winslow, ME. He attended Vassalboro Academy and graduated from Colby College in 1846. He practiced law in the state and was active in state politics where is served as Speaker of the Main House of Representatives, State Senator, and Attorney General for Maine. Outside of politics and law, he served as Director of Maine Central Railroad and Union Mutual Life Insurance Company. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Colby College from 1890-1902.

He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Waterville Lodge No.33 on January 1, 1849, in Waterville, ME. Eleven years later, at the age of 33, he was elected as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine and served until 1862. He served as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons of Maine in 1866 and Right Eminent Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Maine in 1878.

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite became divided by the mid-19th century into two camps known as the "Van Rensselaer Council" and the "Hays-Raymond Council". This divide came to an end in 1867 when the Sovereign Grand Commanders from both sides resigned and both groups elected Josiah Drummond as their Sovereign Grand Commander. His governance is marked by the healing of the rifts and expanding the rite throughout the northern jurisdiction. He served as Sovereign Grand Commander until 1879.

While he presided over the Scottish Rite, he also served as the 11th General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons; being elected and installed in 1871 and serving to 1874.

For several years, starting in 1873, there had been an effort to create a national governing body for the Cryptic Rite, but the proverbial can kept being kicked down the road. It would not be until 1880 that the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons would be formed and Josiah Drummond would serve as the first Most Puissant General Grand Master. Many place the success of the 1880 convention on Josiah as the previous conventions had resulted in no significant end.

In addition to his efforts in the Scottish Rite, Albert Pike also founded the Provincial Grand Lodge of the United States of the Royal Order of Scotland in 1877 and appointed Josiah Drummond as his Provincial Deputy Grand Master; the two Sovereign Grand Commanders serving as the top two officers seems appropriate for this body. Pike served as the Provincial Grand Master until his death in 1891 when Josiah Drummond took over as the second Provincial Grand Master.

Josiah was also involved with the Allied Masonic Degrees before the Grand Council was established in 1933 when it was still referred to as the "Sovereign College of Allied Masonic and Christian Degrees" before it became defunct. It is interesting to note that this Sovereign College conferred honorary academic degrees such as Doctor in Universal Masonry, Doctor in Masonic Law, Doctor in Masonic Letters, Doctor in Masonic Theology, and Bachelor of Masonic Law. Josiah Drummond was a recipient of the Doctor in Universal Masonry.

On October 25, 1902, in Portland, ME, at the age of 75, this truly distinguished Mason dropped forever the working tools of life. He has left an indelible mark upon the American Freemasonry. To remember such a Mason, the Grand Lodge of Maine established the Josiah Hayden Drummond Distinguished Service Medal in 1939 an award for those "whose outstanding proficiency in the knowledge of Freemasonry and distinguished service in the successful application of that knowledge for the advancement of the welfare of the Craft shall have rendered them worthy of such recognition and honor."


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