Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Sunday, September 18, 2022
A year ago I had finished back-to-back weekends of attending the Grand York Rites of Colorado and Wyoming. Now I've done a complete circuit of all the Grand Chapters that compose the Northwest Region. It has been a hectic year so far. Between work and Masonry, I've spent more than 180-days on the road since this time last year.
At the Grand York Rite of Colorado, I was made an Honorary Member of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar and the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Due to my schedule, I had to leave before the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons assembled. The best part about flying home on Saturday, I got to surprise my nephew for his 15th birthday on Sunday.
This last Thursday I flew back to Denver with the Northwest Department Commander and drove up to Cheyenne for their annual Grand York Rite sessions. Outside of Idaho, Wyoming is one of my Masonic homes. I love visiting and some of my favorite Masons are in Wyoming. Everything went smooth with the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons, but it was a bit weird and tense at first with the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar as Sir Knight Mike Johnson was present and some Sir Knights brought a resolution to the floor to file a grievance with the Grand Encampment. This was not surprising in that Sir Knight Mike Johnson was from Wyoming and his removal as Grand Master was a sore point, to say the least. I was extremely pleased to see the Sir Knights of Wyoming, while unhappy, conducted themselves as Templars and with civility. The Northwest Department Commander gave some phenomenal comments that I believe will help with healing relations between the Sir Knights of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Wyoming and the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, USA.
I'm now on my way home and I do not have to travel for the next several weeks which will be a nice change of pace. My next adventures include an SRICF College convocation, the Northwest York Rite Conference, the annual meeting of the SRICF High Council, and a special trip that I believe will be a blessing and enhancement to me as a Christian, Rosicrucian, and Sir Knight.
Sunday, September 4, 2022
Members refer to each other as "Sojourner" and the honorary title of "Worthy" is used in this organization. The basic organizational unit is the Shrine which is presided over by a Worthy High Priestess and Watchman of Shepherds. They are supported by the following officers:
Noble ProphetessAssociate Watchman of ShepherdsWorthy ChaplainWorthy ScribeWorthy TreasurerWorthy ShepherdessWorthy GuideWorthy HeraldFirst Wise ManSecond Wise ManThird Wise ManKingQueenFirst Hand MaidSecond Hand MaidThird Hand MaidWorthy OrganistWorth GuardianWorthy Guard
Only women can serve in some offices like the Priestess or Prophetess while men can only serve as Watchman or the Wise Men. Some offices like Guard, Scribe, or Treasurer can be filled by either a man or a woman. Constituent Shrines fall under the governance of the Supreme Shrine which is composed of the following officers:
Supreme Worthy High PriestessSupreme Watchman of ShepherdsSupreme Noble ProphetessSupreme Associate Watchman of ShepherdsSupreme ScribeSupreme TreasurerSupreme Worthy ChaplainSupreme Worthy ShepherdessSupreme Worthy GuideSupreme Worthy HeraldSupreme First Wise ManSupreme Second Wise ManSupreme Third Wise ManSupreme KingSupreme QueenSupreme First Hand MaidSupreme Second Hand MaidSupreme Third Hand MaidSupreme Worthy OrganistSupreme Worthy GuardianSupreme Worthy Guard
A Supreme Shrine in Illinois was established on September 23, 1894. This Supreme Shrine was administered by a Board of Directors until 1901 which was presided over by a President and Vice President. After 1901, the Illinois Supreme Shrine was governed by Supreme Worthy High Priestess and Supreme Watchman of Shepherds. In 1897, another Surpeme Shrine was established in Michigan that was presided over by a Supreme Worthy High Priestess and a Supreme Chancellor (equivalent to the Supreme Watchman of Shepherds in Illinois). These two Supreme Shrines would establish subordinate Shrines around the country until 1909 when they merged together. Today there are Shrines in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Ontario (Canada). The current Supreme Shrine meets annually in May.
There is one degree for the White Shrine and the ritual takes the candidate through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The emblems of the White Shrine are the Star, Cross, and Shepherd's Crook which can sometimes be seen with the phrase "In Hoc Signo Spes Mea" which translates as "In this Sign is my Hope." All three symbols seem very obvious in their use as the organization as it surrounds the Blessed Redeemer.
The charity of the White Shrine is called the Material Objective which assists the less fortunate with medical bills regardless of race, color, creed, or sect. This charity is funded through voluntary donations and income from their endowment.
1. Cross and Shepherd's Crook (White Shrine of Jerusalem). (n.d.). Retrieved from City of Grove, OK: https://www.cityofgroveok.gov/building/page/cross-and-shepherds-crook-white-shrine-jerusalem
2. General Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from Supreme Shrine, OWSJ: https://supremeshrine.org/about/
3. The Order of The White Shrine of Jerusalem. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Kentucky: https://grandlodgeofkentucky.org/?page_id=1269
4. What is The Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem? (n.d.). Retrieved from MasterMason.com: http://www.mastermason.com/wsj/whatis.htm
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Saturday was when all of the business was conducted and Glen did a fantastic job as he always does. His meeting was fun and efficient. Saturday afternoon was filled with the Memorial Service and meeting of the Medical Research Foundation. Then Knight Joe R. Manning Jr. was installed as the new Most Eminent Grand Master General of the Convent General of the Knights of the York Cross of Honour along with his other officers. I wish him and his officers the best of luck in the ensuing year. The evening was filled with the banquet and more socializing with my fellow Knights.
This was my first Convent General and I plan on attending many more.
Saturday, August 20, 2022
Today was an extremely busy day for me as my AMD Council, Knight Mason's Council, and Red Cross of Constantine Conclave met. Luckily for me, it met only 40-minutes away so the drive wasn't too bad compared to some others. Star Garnet Council No.560 of the Allied Masonic Degrees met and it was the first time I sat in Council as a Past Master and a happy sideliner. I had the pleasure to assist in investing the then-sitting Sovereign Master with the Knight Commander of the Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri. After the elections and the closing of the business meeting, I assisted in the conferral of the Installed Sovereign Master degree and then served as Marshall for the installation of officers for the ensuing year.
Next, the Knights of Tara Council No.122, Order of Knights Masons, met. Aside from the usual business, I was elected and installed as Excellent Chief which is the presiding officer of the Council. I'm the fourth Excellent Chief of this Council and I hope I can fill the shoes of my predecessor.
In the afternoon, St. Michael Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine met. Many of our members had never received the Order of the Holy Sepulchre or the Order of St. John the Evangelist so the Puissant Sovereign along with the Intendant General planned and put on these two appendant orders as well as the College of Viceroys and Senate of Sovereigns degrees, the latter I needed to receive before I serve as Sovereign next year...if elected.
As we had met in a rural Lodge and due to the extreme heat, we did not wear our traditional tuxedos, but instead wore pants with Hawaiian shirts. After the meetings were completed, we retired to a nearby park where we had a BBQ dinner.
Now I have to get ready as I am going on a work trip next week, attending the Convent General of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor next weekend, going on another work trip the week after that, and then attending the session of the Grand York Rites of Colorado and Wyoming after that (essentially I'm going to be traveling from now until midway through next month).
Saturday, August 13, 2022
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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: