Saturday, August 13, 2022

Holy Esclarmonde de Foix

Today is the Feast Day of Esclarmonde de Foix, a Cathar priestess from the 12th and 13th centuries. Before I had joined the Apostolic Johannite Church I had never heard of her. I found in my research that there were several women of noble birth named "Esclarmonde" which made it difficult to trace her history. She is remembered for her fervent support of the Cathar faith, her presence at the Council at Pamiers 1207, and her part in the renovations to the fort of Montségur which would help shield her people during the Albigensian Crusade

It is believed that she was born after 1151 to a noble family in what is now southern France; some give a date range of ~1151 to 1165 and I found several sources that dated her birth to 1154 or 1155. She was the daughter of Roger Bernard I, Count of Foix (a vassal of the Count of Toulouse), and Cécile Trencavel, daughter of Raymond I Trencavel, the Viscount of Agde, Béziers, Albi, Carcassonne, and Razès. Her name, Esclarmonde, means "clarity or light of the world". Some theorize that her name comes from the Visigothic words "Is Klar Mun".

Growing up in Occitania afforded her an education in language, poetry, music, history, philosophy, and politics. At the age of 12, she was consecrated by Nicetas, Bogomil Bishop of Constantinople and Patriarch of the Cathars during the synod of Saint-Félix de Lauragais. For those unfamiliar with the Cathars, they were a sect of Christianity that did not adhere to the Roman Catholic doctrine and were seen as heretical by the Roman church.

In 1175, she was married to Jourdain III, the Lord of L'Isle-Jourdain, the Viscount of Gimoez, which was an unusual older age for her to marry. Although the marriage seems to have been politically motivated, as they were at that time, the marriage was fruitful and joyful as they had 6 children:

Bernard-Jourdain
Escaronia
Obica
Jordan
Othon-Bernard
Philippa

Little is known about Esclarmonde during the 25 years of marriage, but there are some stories. Anti-Cathar beliefs had started before they were married. In 1163, during the Council of Tours, Pope Alexander III condemned Catharism as heresy and by 1180 persecution was common. In 1181, a papal legate attacked Castres and Lavaur (both East of Toulouse and South of Albi). Legend has it that with these attacks, Esclarmonde helped the survivors, the refugees, flee from the onslaught of the Roman Catholic Church. She was accused of heresy but was defended by her husband (who was Roman Catholic).

In 1200, Jourdain III died and Esclarmonde devoted her life to Catharism. Jourdain had bequeathed his titles and property to Esclarmonde, but she turned it over to her children. In 1204, she received by Guilhabert de Castres, the Cathar Bishop, the Consolamentum, a sacrament taken for those becoming a Cathar Prefect. This action speaks highly of her character and resolve as most widows of nobility would live out their lives in comfort and she was choosing not only a life of service, but one that was facing severe backlash and persecution. As a Prefect, she was trained in the art of healing, medicine, herblore, weaving, agriculture, geology, mathematics, and astronomy as well as the sacred texts of the Cathars. As a Prefect of her faith, she established girls’ schools, hospitals, and homes for aging Prefects.

In 1204, Esclarmonde, foreseeing further aggression by the Catholics, suggested to the nobility to fortify their castles, and one such lord to take her words seriously was Raymond de Pereille who then owned Montségur.

Esclaramonde was said to have attended or even organized the Council of Pamiers in 1207 where a debate between Catholics and Cathars occurred. The Catholics were represented by the Bishop of Toulouse, the Bishop of Navarre, the Abbott of the Augustinians in Pamiers, and several others, including Dominic Guzman, the founder of the Dominican order who would lead the Inquisition. For the Cathars, there were several Prefects, both men and women, including Esclarmonde. There seem to be conflicts as to her contribution to the Council as one account says she delivered a brilliant lecture while another account says she was shut down and prevented from speaking by the Catholics who would not allow a woman to speak about matters they saw above her gender.

The years following saw the ruthless hand of ignorance and the destruction of brutal force with the Albigensian Crusade that would officially last until 1129. The name Albigensian comes from the town of Albi which was a center of Catharism.

Esclarmonde became a rebel and even had a bounty put on her head by the Pope and became a symbol of resistance. Through the years she avoided capture and assisted surviving Cathars. This Crusade was different as it was against Christians and fellow Europeans, but the Occitania was rich in resources, culture, and wealth, and the Catholic Army composed of the dregs of society pillaged and plundered their way through the region. In the face of such wanton destruction, many Cathars fled the Montségur which would fall to the Catholics, but not until 1244.

Some believe that Esclarmonde died in 1215, but some believe that the story was invented by her brother, Raymond-Roger, who was trying to get his lands in Foix restored to him as they had been taken during the crusade and given over to the papal legate. There is one legend that she attended the wedding of Roger-Bernard, the new Count of Foix and her nephew, to Ermengarde de Narbonne in 1232. In this legend, it is believed that she died in 1240 which would mean she was into her 80s well above the average lifespan of the time. No trace of her body or burial has ever been found.

Esclarmonde de Foix leaves a legacy of feminine strength, leadership, the Cathar religion, and of religious freedom. Such was her character that she is mentioned in several pieces of poetry and literature to include being a Keeper of the Holy Grail legends and in Gnostic revival literature. Her importance was so strong that even in recent years the Roman Catholic Church has opposed any statue or monument being made in her honor. Supposedly there is a statue of her in Foix, but I cannot find anything to corroborate this.


References

1. Barber, M. C. (1977). Women and Catharism. Reading Medieval Studies, 45-62.

2. d'Honore, R. (2007). Esclarmonde de Foix. Retrieved from Laconneau: http://laconneau.org/womensaffairsEsclarmonde.html

3. Esclarmonde de Foix c. 1154-1232. (2021, March 29). Retrieved from The Thelemic Order: https://www.thelemicorder.io/2021/03/29/esclarmonde-de-foix/

4. Esclarmonde of Foix. (n.d.). Retrieved from Academic Dictionary and Encyclopedia: https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/5423843

5. Graham-Leigh, E. (2005). The Southern French Nobility and the Albigensian Crusade. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

SE SRICF Conference

June and July kept me so busy that it was nice to get away for the weekend. On Friday, I flew into Atlanta and then drove to Birmingham, AL, where the two Colleges in Alabama hosted the first Southeast SRICF Conference.

Friday night was a presentation by George Ladd and Joe Kindall, both of Tennessee College, who shared their knowledge and insights about planning, research, and constructing research papers.

At the opening of the College on Saturday, I counted 75 Fratres present including 8 Chief Adepts, 5 High Council officers (some of which are also Chief Adepts), and the Most Worthy Supreme Magus. We had attendees from Arkansas College, Tennessee College, Mississippi College, Alabama College, Gulf Coast College, Georgia College, South Georgia College, South Carolina College, Florida College, Texas College, Prairie Land College (Illinois), Montana College, North Dakota College, and Idaho College.

After some introductions of the more distinguished Fratres, Gulf Coast College conferred the Grade of Philosophus (IV°) and Tennessee College conferred the Grade of Practicus (III°).

During Lunch, Worthy Frater W. John Simmons, IV° of Tennessee College, gave a presentation called "Grain, Wine and Oil: The Wages of a Mason?"

In the afternoon, Georgia and South Georgia Colleges conferred the Grade of Theoricus (II°), and South Carolina College conferred the Grade of Zelator (I°). Then Very Worthy Frater Robert Elsner, VII° of Gulf Coast College, gave a presentation called "Truth, Light, and the Lectures."

Before the closing, the Chief Adepts of the attending Colleges gave their remarks then Right Worthy Frater Jim McGee, IX°, Chief Adept of Alabama, gave some remarks before turning over the mic to Most Worthy Frater Jeff Nelson, IX° KGC, Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis who complimented the excellent ritual work and then discussed the schedule of the High Council meeting in November.

The Celebrant of Gulf Coast College then closed the College and we adjourned to the dining room for a delicious meal.

I'd like to thank Frater McGee for inviting me to this conference back in March at Fort Wayne. I had a great time and it was nice to be able to sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the ritual work.

From R-L: Me, Supreme Magus of the High Council SRICF, Sixth Ancient of the High Council SRICF, Director of Ceremonies of the High Council SRICF, and Conductor of Novices of the High Council SRICF


Friday, July 22, 2022

Temple Church

Hidden between Fleet Street and the River Thames is the iconic Temple Church, a location on my travel bucket list, known for its unorthodox round shape (one of only 5 in England). Originally built as the English headquarters for the medieval Knights Templar, it is now used as the private chapel for two Inns of Court. While Temple Church played a part in English history, it was brought back to the public's attention with the publication of the Dan Brown novel, The DaVinci Code, and the corresponding film with the same name.

During his tenure as the first Grand Master of the Templar Order, Hugh de Payens started a tour through Western Europe to grow the order, in number and authority. Toward the end of 1128, Hugh visited England and Scotland. While in London, he established a headquarters for the British Templars in Holborn (~0.5 miles north of its current location). Around 1161, the Templars had to move their headquarters when their original one couldn't hold the ever-expanding membership. They moved to where Temple Church resides today, but, in the Middle Ages, would've included barracks, residences, council chambers (for meetings), training facilities, dining hall, and recreational grounds. It needed a large complex as novices and some brothers were not permitted to go into the city proper without permission of the Master of the Temple, who was in charge of the Templars.

Temple Church itself is comprised of two sections called "The Round" and "The Chancel". The Round was the original nave and is based upon the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Round was consecrated on February 10, 1185, to Mary Theotokos by Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Going around the 55-ft diameter nave are free-standing column marbles. A column that is built into the wall itself is called an "Engaged column" while one that is not is called a "Free-standing column." The Chancel would be built about a half-century later by the King of England. The Chancel is a rectangular structure with a central aisle and two side aisles of equal width. The Chancel was built over the original choir of Temple Church after Henry III had originally desired to be buried there although he would be buried in Westminster Abbey; one of Henry III's sons is buried in the Chancel. The Chancel was consecrated on Ascension Day 1240.

Temple Church was used by the Templars for Templar initiation ceremonies where new knights would enter and take their monastic vows. The exact rites are unknown as they were jealously guarded and such secrecy ultimately fed the fire during their suppression in the 14th century. As it was with most Templar headquarters and preceptories, Temple Church would also serve as a depository bank which contributed to the monumental wealth of the Templars that made them a target of the tyrannical French King and the downfall of the Templars. This property was also used as a residence for kings and papal legates (ambassadors).

The commanding officer of Temple Church was referred to as the Master of the Temple. Over the years, the Templars became a powerhouse in England. The Master of the Temple would be given a seat in Parliament with the title "First Baron of the Realm." The Master of the Temple would often be called on to serve as an arbiter between the king and nobles. One such incident occurred with William Marshall who negotiated a deal between King John and nobles who demanded their rights granted by Richard I. This meeting ultimately led to the Magna Carta in 1215. The Master of the Temple was very close to the British Crown that when King John died, his son Henry was too young and so England was controlled through a regency and William, Master of the Temple, served as Regent for Henry III until he came of age to rule by his own right.

The power of the Templars in England saved them from the same treatment the French Templars received after October 13, 1307. Edward II initially refused to comply with the request to arrest all Templars and it wasn't until January 1308 that some arrests occurred. When the Templars were dissolved by the Papacy, the Templar property in England wasn't turned over to the Church as one might think, but rather was taken control of by the Crown.

Temple Church was given to the Knights Hospitallers in 1324 who then let two colleges of lawyers rent them out. These two colleges evolved into the Inner Temple and Middle Temple which own Temple Church today. In 1540, Henry VIII dissolved all of the religious houses/orders, and Temple Church once again fell back under the British Crown. Once under Henry's control, he put an Anglican priest over it and styled them "Master of the Temple" in memory of the Templar commanding officer.

Temple Church would go on to serve as the location for the Battle of the Pulpits, a theological conflict between Anglicans and Calvinists. In 1608, King James I granted Temple Church back to Inner Temple and Middle Temple in perpetuity as long as they agreed to support and maintain the buildings.

In historical literature, Shakespeare used Temple Church to depict the start of the War of the Roses. In modern literature, Dan Brown used Temple Church as a red herring for the location of "a knight A Pope interred."

Being constructed of stone, Temple Church survived the Great Fire in 1666, but was still given some renovations during the 17th century including the installation of an organ. It went through another restoration in 1841, 1862, and 1945-1958. The last date was due to extensive damage the church took during a WWII air raid. The church was rededicated in November 1958.

You enter Temple Church through a southern entrance that is adorned in Norman style that has a column on either side that is adorned with roses, saints, monarchs, etc. Looking around the nave, there are carvings of beasts and humans in different states of being and salvation/damnation. High windows allow plenty of light to flood the nave. The windows were some of the renovations, the originals being destroyed during the Nazi air raids.

Going inside you are greeted with a high arched ceiling, free-standing marble columns, and effigies embedded into the floors. To the East of the Round is the Chancel which is supported by Gothic-style arches and columns that allow light to illuminate the room.

As the fictional character Robert Langdon discovered, the effigies are not tombs or graves. Effigies are defined as an image, sculptures, models, or representations of a person. In the case of the effigies of Temple Church, they are stone carvings of knights who appear poised for battle. There are nine stone knights on the floor of the Round. Now, being in a Templar building one would think that all of the effigies depict a Templar knight, but this is disputed by some scholars. However, the use of 9 could be a tribute to the founders of the Templar order.

Today the Church is still owned and used by the two societies of lawyers as their private chapel. The church holds regular church services including Communion and Mattins (morning prayer service). They also allow for wedding ceremonies, but only for members of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple.

Temple Church is still presided over by the Master of the Temple who is appointed by the Crown and is given a house near the church that is provided by the Inner Temple and Middle Temple. The Master of the Temple is supported by a "Reader of the Temple" that is appointed by either the Inner Temple or Middle Temple (they take turns).

The acoustics of Temple Church has also made it famous for its music. The church holds performances of organ and choir music, but it has also attracted secular musicians. It has a professional all-male choir that wears, due to the special status of Temple Church, scarlet cassocks.

Temple Church stands as a testimony of the medieval Templars who built it and all members of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple should seek to visit it. Temple Church is less than one mile (roughly a 14-minute walk) from the United Grand Lodge of England.



References

1. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Temple Church: https://www.templechurch.com/history

2. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Temple Church: https://www.templechurch.com/history 

3. Inns of Court. (2019, January 16). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Inns-of-Court 

4. Irvine, A. (2021, April 09). Temple Church. Retrieved from History Hit: https://www.historyhit.com/locations/temple-church/ 

5. Muscato, C. (n.d.). Engaged Columns in Architecture. Retrieved from Study.com: https://study.com/academy/lesson/engaged-columns-in-architecture-definition-examples.html#:~:text=Ok%2C%20maybe%20we%20should%20explain,is%20said%20to%20be%20engaged. 

6. Richardson, E. (1843). The Monumental Effigies of the Temple Church. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. 

7. Ruggeri, A. (2016, May 13). The Hidden World of the Knights Templar. Retrieved from BBC Travel: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20160510-the-hidden-world-of-the-knights-templar 

8. Temple Church. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple: https://www.middletemple.org.uk/about-us/temple-church 

9. Temple Church. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Church 

10. Temple Church. (n.d.). Retrieved from Britain Express: http://www.britainexpress.com/London/Temple_Church.htm 

11. Temple Church. (n.d.). Retrieved from Inner Temple Library: https://www.innertemplelibrary.org.uk/inner-temple/history/temple-church/ 

12. Treasures of London – Temple Church knight effigies. (2012, October 19). Retrieved from Exploring London: https://exploring-london.com/2012/10/19/treasures-of-london-temple-church-knight-effigies/

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Visiting the Grand Lodge of Louisiana

I spent the last week in Alexandria and Fort Polk, Louisiana, and with some of the free time I had, I stopped by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana that is now in Alexandria where I met the Grand Secretary and the Brother in charge of the Library. We talked a bit and I got a lesson on the history of Louisiana and Louisiana Freemasonry which is pretty much the same history. I was shown the Library which has a great collection of books, but also some historical artifacts. The Grand Lodge of Louisiana has gone through a few buildings, but with the 21st century, they moved out of New Orleans and to Alexandria near the Masonic Home. 

Although an Idaho Mason, my journey to Freemasonry started in Louisiana while I was training for my first deployment to Iraq. My unit had just completed training at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and while waiting to head over to Iraq I went to New Orleans on a 4-day pass with several soldiers from my Platoon. While down there we drove down Park City Avenue where I saw the entrance to a Masonic graveyard. It sparked my curiosity as to who this group was, particularly since the movie National Treasure had just premiered.

Here are some photos from my visit:













Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy Fourth of July

Today we Americans celebrate Independence Day. Amidst the food, fireworks, and parades, let us reflect upon the remarkable events that led to the independence of the United States from Great Britain. It took great strength and courage for our Founders to do what they did and establish this great nation.

It's nice to have the day off to be with family and friends as the rest of the month is going to be taken up with work and travel. God bless our Founding Fathers and God bless the United States of America.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Rite of Baldwyn

Outside of the Blue Lodge, the family of concordant and appendant bodies is a complex system of degrees, orders, grades, and rites. This is especially true with the American York Rite and the organizations that stem or are affiliated with it which seems to be a never-ending rabbit hole to explore. It is even more complex when you start exploring the difference between American Masonry and those corresponding degrees and orders in England. Whether the Scottish Rite, the Royal Arch, or the Knights Templar, there are noticeable differences between the two nations. In studying these differences and researching early Templary in England, I came across an unusual rite located in Bristol called the Rite of Baldwyn (also known as the Baldwyn Encampment or Camp of Baldwyn) which claims to exist from “time immemorial.” This expression is important to its future relationship with governing bodies of Templary, the Royal Arch, and the Scottish Rite (known as the Ancient & Accepted Rite in England).

 The Rite, or Camp, of Baldwyn, takes its name from the early Crusader kings of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, and Godfrey de Bouillon became the first king (though he used the title of “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre” rather than that of "king"). After his death the following year, the crown was passed to his brother, Baldwyn. After his death in 1118, the mantle of the king was placed on a cousin, also named Baldwyn, and it was Baldwyn II who played an important role in the formation of the Knights Templar and their residence in the Stables of Solomon.

The Baldwyn Rite is an amalgamation of usually separate Masonic bodies and degrees including the Rose Croix, Knights Templar, and Holy Royal Arch. It is described as being 7 degrees, but really, these degrees could also be described as a body of its own as you will see. The I° is Craft Masonry, composed of the degrees of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. The II° is the Holy Royal Arch. The III° to the VII° is referred to as the Camp of Baldwyn. The III° is the Knights of the Nine Elected Master. The IV° is the Ancient Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect which is composed of the Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect and the Order of Scots Knights of Kilwinning. The V° is the Knights of the East, the Sword, and Eagle. The VI° is the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta which is composed of the two orders of Knights of St John of Jerusalem and Knights Templar. The VII° and final is the Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel. They operate out of Freemason’s Hall in Bristol and it is by invitation only. It is curious to note that Bristol is the only city that is itself a Province within Freemasonry.

Like much of early Freemasonry, it is difficult to study the Baldwyn Rite as there is little documentation that properly traces their lineage. The earliest reference to the Baldwyn Encampment is in January 1772 when a reference to a meeting of Knights Templar at the Rose and Crown Inn in Bristol is recorded in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. From such a casual mention of the Knights Templar, it seems that this wasn’t anything new or that the readers of this publication were already familiar with the meetings of that group. One theory is that the records were burned during the Stuart Rebellion (1745-1746).

The most well-known document associated with the Baldwyn Encampment is the 1780 Charter of Compact that was established when this Templar group constituted themselves as the “Supreme Grand and Royal Encampment of Knights Templar of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitallers, and Knights of Malta etc.” From my research, many believe there was an earlier document that established this Camp and others like Camp of Antiquity in Bath (as well as in London, York, and Salisbury), but none has ever been found or brought to public knowledge. Some legends state this Templar rite stems from the medieval Templars who had a large presence in Bristol:

“A tradition exists that the Baldwyn Encampment is the lineal successor of an institution founded in Bristol by the warrior monks whose Order there dwells in name, though its glory has passed away.”

The 1780 Charter contains 20 articles that provide for the officers, dress and regalia, petitioning and balloting procedures, fees and dues, and other administrative details. In this Charter, it names the following officers:

Most Eminent Grand Master

Grand Master of the Order

Grand Master Assistant General

Standard Bearers

Until 1791 there was no governing body over Templary in England. In January of that year, a Grand Conclave, now called Great Priory, was formed that took the official name of "Grand Conclave of the Royal, Exalted, Religious and Military Order of H.R.D.M., Grand Elected Masonic Knights Templar K.D.S.H. of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, etc." This formal name would be amended down the road when the Ancient & Accepted Rite was established. The presiding officer on this body was called “Grand Master” and the Sir Knights selected Thomas Dunckerley to be their first. Some sources state that Bristol was on board with the formation of a national governing body, although later actions seem to contradict this, but some state that when Dunckerley presided, he did not interfere with the ritual and operations of an individual Encampment and it wasn’t until later Grand Masters that the relationship between the Baldwyn Encampment and the Grand Conclave degraded. Within a short period of time, Dunckerley constituted 10 new Conclaves. Thomas Dunckerley is a topic of discussion of its own as he accomplished a great deal for and in Freemasonry.

After the death of Dunckerley in 1795, relations between the Grand Conclave and the Camp of Baldwyn were kept. In 1809 the Charter of Constitution was established, but the Camp of Baldwyn asserted that the Grand Conclave must acknowledge the rights and privileges of Baldwyn, and should any derivation from the customs and usages occur, the Camp of Baldwyn would break away and resume their independence. In the 1820s, during the reign of Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex, the Grand Conclave slipped into a state of dormancy while the Baldwyn Encampment was said to have prospered during the same period of time.

Attempts were made in 1819 to form a Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in England, but it wouldn’t be until the 1840s that this would be accomplished. By 1847, Robert Crucefix, Master of Ceremonies for the Grand Conclave of Knights Templar, was instrumental in establishing a Scottish Rite Supreme Council in England, and by this time an effort was being made to sever the Rose Crucis and Kadosh degrees from the Templar Encampments. With the exception of the Encampments of Bath and Baldwyn, the effort was accomplished. In fact, Baldwyn criticized the Grand Conclave for giving up their “birthright for a mess of pottage.”

In 1856, reconciliation between the Grand Conclave and the Camp of Baldwyn was tried, but failed due to the “unmasonic and presumptuous conduct of some members of the Grand Conclave.” The Encampments of Baldwyn and Antiquity (Bath) both declared their independence and that they would live in accordance with the 1780 Charter of Compact. Baldwyn Encampment would go on to issue warrants and establish encampments in Birmingham, Warwick, Salisbury, Highbridge, and Adelaide (South Australia). The South Australian Preceptory is still the only other Preceptory outside of the Baldwyn Encampment that is authorized to work the Baldwyn rituals.

In 1862, a reconciliation was finally reached between the Grand Conclave and Baldwyn Encampment where the former agreed to recognize and give precedence to Baldwyn, making it its own Provincial body and allowing them to practice the degrees they have had since time immemorial. In 1881, an agreement was reached between the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and the Baldwyn Encampment concerning the Rose Croix degree where the latter was recognized preceding the Supreme Council and was allowed to continue its own conferrals.

As mentioned above, the Baldwyn Rite is composed as follows:

Iº - Craft Freemasonry:

Entered Apprentice

Fellowcraft

Master Mason

IIº − Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch

Camp of Baldwyn (or Five Royal Order of Knighthood)

IIIº - Knights of the Nine Elected Masters

IVº - The Ancient Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

Order of Scots Knights of Kilwinning

Vº - Knights of the East, the Sword, and Eagle

VIº - Knights of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta

Knights of St John of Jerusalem (or Knights of Malta)

Knights Templar

VIIº - Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel

The three degrees of Craft Masonry compose the first degree or body of the Baldwyn Rite and are worked by the United Grand Lodge of England. The Royal Arch degree, the IIº, worked in the Baldwyn Encampment is unique in England and has rituals closer to those found in the US or in Continental Europe. The IIIº, IVº, and Vº are said to be unique to the Baldwyn Rite, but their names remind me of degrees worked in the Scottish Rite and Allied Masonic Degrees. The VIº is composed of the Knights of Malta and the Knights Templar is conferred by the Baldwyn Encampment which falls under the authority of the Great Priory of England and Wales. The final degree of the Baldwyn Rite is the Knight of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel which is worked in the Bristol Chapter of Rose Croix under the authority of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and Wales. It is curious to note that if a candidate of the Baldwyn Rite already has gone through the Templar, Malta, and Rose Croix degrees elsewhere, he is considered a full member of the Rite. The rituals of the Baldwyn Rite, particularly the orders of knighthood, are not copied and are jealously guarded.

The 1780 Charter of Compact set out the original hierarchy of the Baldwyn Rite, as mentioned earlier. Today, this Rite is overseen by a Grand Superintendent who is also, by virtue of his office, the Provincial Prior of Knights Templar in Bristol, Inspector General for the District of Bristol of the Ancient & Accepted Rite in Bristol

The regalia worn in the Iº, IIº, and VIº is generally the same as worn by their contemporaries in Craft Masonry, Capitular Masonry, and Knights Templar in England. The regalia worn in the IIIº, IVº, Vº, and VIIº is a breast jewel and apron (only for the VIIº) unique to the Baldwyn Rite. The jewel is a silver Maltese cross hanging from a black ribbon and the apron is adorned with a Pelican which used to be used in the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and Wales, but is no longer used.


References

1. Baldwyn II. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Ashlar Company - Masonic Shop: https://masonicshop.com/encyclopedia/topics/entry/?i=5006

2. Bennett, J. R. (1907). The Origin of Freemasonry and Knights Templar. Cincinnati: Johnson & Hardin.

3. De Hoyos, A. (2014). Masonic Rites and Systems. In H. Bogdan, & J. A. Snoek, Handbook of Freemasonry (pp. 355-377).

4. History of the Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Province of Somerset: http://somersetkt.org.uk/history.html 

5. Lindez, D. S. (2009, August 22). The Baldwyn Rite of Bristol, England: A Cohesive Remnant of Pre-1813 Freemasonry. Retrieved from Knights Templar: https://www.knightstemplar.org/KnightTemplar/articles/20090822.htm 

6. Mackey, A. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. 

7. Price, B. W. (2021). In The Steps Of The Templars. Lewis Masonic. 

8. Rite of Baldwyn. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rite_of_Baldwyn 

9. Shetty, T. (2018, January 6). Rite of Baldwyn. Retrieved from Alchetron: https://alchetron.com/Rite-of-Baldwyn 

10. The Baldwyn Schism. (1862, June 7). Retrieved from Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror: https://masonicperiodicals.org/periodicals/mmr/issues/mmr_07061862/page/9/ 

11. Vrooman, J. B. (1968, September). More About Baldwyn Encampment. Retrieved from Knights Templar magazine: https://www.knightstemplar.org/KnightTemplar/Magazine/1968/09.pdf

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Officers of a Tabernacle of the HRAKTP

The basic organizational unit of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests (HRAKTP) is the Tabernacle. The officers of the Tabernacle are Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Registrar, Treasurer, Seventh Pillar, Sixth Pillar, Fifth Pillar, Fourth Pillar, Third Pillar, Second Pillar, First Pillar, Inner Guard, and Outer Guard. The elected officers are the Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Registrar, and Treasurer are elected while the others are appointed by the Preceptor.

The presiding officer of the Tabernacle is the Very Eminent Preceptor akin to the Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge or an Eminent Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word 'preceptor' originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights. 

Next is the Deputy Preceptor who is the second-in-command of the Tabernacle and who corresponds to the Senior Warden in the Blue Lodge although, in the Tabernacle, the Deputy is stationed on the right of the Preceptor in the East rather than in the West. In the absence of the Very Eminent Preceptor, the Deputy presides. The title of Deputy comes from the Latin "deputare" meaning to "allot or to destine" which has come to indicate a subordinate officer or one given the full power of an officer without holding the office.

Like most Masonic bodies, there is a Treasurer who is the chief financial officer of the Tabernacle. The Statutes of the Grand College of the USA state that "the offices of the Treasurer and Registrar may be combined."

Corresponding to the Secretary of a Blue Lodge, the Registrar is the record-keeper of the Tabernacle. The term 'registrar' is etymologically rooted in the Latin word "registrarius" meaning "one who keeps a record." Traditionally, a registrar is an officer who keeps records for educational institutions, banks, trust companies, or hospitals. The Registrar in the Tabernacle sends the official invitation to candidates, mails the summons for each Ingathering to all of the members, sends in the Annual Return to the Grand College, and records the actions of the Tabernacle at each Ingathering.

The First Pillar through the Seventh Pillar are appointed officers of the Tabernacle. They assist the Very Eminent Preceptor in opening the Tabernacle as well as having a key role in the reception of candidates. "Pillar" comes from the Latin "pila" meaning "pillar or stone barrier." Architecturally, pillars differ from columns in that pillars were not "subordinated to the rules of classic architecture." Figuratively, the word "pillar" can be used to denote an integral or upstanding member of a group or society. With this, we see that it is appropriate for these officers to be called Pillars as they are integral to the Tabernacle, support the Tabernacle and the Preceptor, and stand as a barrier to those unworthy of reception into our order.

The last two appointed officers are the Inner Guard and the Outer Guard who correspond to the Junior Deacon and Tyler of the Blue Lodge. As their names indicate, the Inner Guard sits within the door to the Tabernacle and the Outer Guard is without the door. The word "guard" derives from "garder," an Old French word meaning "to keep, maintain, preserve, or protect." Like the Junior Deacon, the Inner Guard attends to alarms at the door, but also has duties similar to the Senior Deacon as he conducts the candidates through the ritual of the order. The Outer Guard's duties are simply like those of the Tyler, ensuring the security of the Tabernacle.


References

1. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

2. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/ 

3. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Reference.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/

4. Statutes. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Grand College of America Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests: https://hraktp.org/3s/

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Grand York Rite of Montana and SRICF

This past Wednesday the wife of the Northwest Department Commander picked me up and took me to their house so I could leave my car back home. Thursday, the three of us drove all day to Montana. We had to take a detour to Missoula to pick up the Right Eminent Grand Generalissimo of the Grand Encampment and then it was onto Great Falls, MT.

Friday morning started with the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Montana where I represented the Most Excellent General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. In the afternoon, the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Montana met. Friday night was the Grand York Rite Banquet where I had the pleasure of presenting several awards along with my predecessor Deputy General Grand High Priest. After the dinner, the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Montana held a special ceremony for all Sir Knights present, called the "Passing the Cup" which was a ceremony that was about renewing the Vows of Knighthood.

Saturday morning brought the annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Montana. In the afternoon, the Montana College, SRICF, conferred the Grades of the Second Order (V° - VII°) on some of the Montana officers followed by the II° (Theoricus). The Chief Adept of Montana allowed me to confer the V° (Adeptus Minor) and VI° (Adeptus Major) while I assisted with the VII° (Adeptus Exemptus). After conferring Adeptship, we opened the College on the II° (Theoricus) and conferred that grade. Saturday night, Montana College held a dinner for members and candidates that would receive the Grade of Zelator (I°) on Sunday morning. The College did a great job conferring the Grades and I thank them for their hospitality.

Now, I'm at the Great Falls airport picking up a rental car, and I will be on my way to two back-to-back work trips in two different states.

Friday, June 3, 2022

House of the Temple Sphinxes Vandalized

 It was reported by Illustrious Brother Arturo DeHoyos, Grand Archivist of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, that the two sphinxes that stood on the side of the front steps to the House of the Temple were vandalized. Criminals broke off pieces from their faces and smeared them with, what he called, filth. This is needless destruction, most likely, by those ignorant about Freemasonry and deceived by anti-Masonic propaganda. I also see this as no different from the wanton destruction the world saw in the Middle East by the Islamic radicals, ISIL/ISIS. I hope the police are able to apprehend these criminals and that they are prosecuted. Anti-Masons do not understand or care, but Freemasonry is not a building, sculpture, or monument. We are a worldwide brotherhood and we are united.