Thursday, October 1, 2020

John Dee

While there is no record that he was a Freemason, I find John Dee to be a fascinating character. Born amidst the political and religious turmoil of 16th century England, Dee would be known as a mathematician, alchemist, astrologer, geographer, occultist, possible Rosicrucian, and adviser as well as likely spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I. It is said that "Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable."

John Dee was born on July 13, 1527, in the Tower Ward of London, the only child of Rowland Dee, a minor courtier to King Henry VIII, and Jane (or Johanna) Wild. In 1535, he was educated at the Chelmsford Chantry School (now one of the locations of King Edward VI Grammar School) before he attended St. John's College (Cambridge) in 1542; he would go onto earn a Bachelors and Masters.

In 1546, he was one of the founding Fellows of Trinity College located in Cambridge. In 1548, he traveled to Continental Europe and studied at the University of Louvain. By 1550, he was in Paris giving lectures on Euclid and mathematics. He became friends with several scholars to include famed cartographer Gerardus Mercator. 

In 1551, Dee traveled back to England where he devoted his studies to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. In 1553, King Edward VI granted him the rectory of Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire. The next year he was offered a readership in mathematics at the University of Oxford, but turned it down. He also worked training navigators and promoted British imperialism through naval power; some believe he was the first to coin the term "British Empire."

In 1555, Dee became a member of the Worshipful Company of Mercers. For those unfamiliar, a mercer is defined as "a dealer in textile fabrics, especially silks, velvets, and other fine materials."

Later that year he was arrested on charges of casting spells against Queen Mary I. These charges would be expanded and included treason against the British Crown. He represented himself and was exonerated, but still had to meet with the Catholic Archbishop Bonner for his examination. Whatever was involved with this examination, Bonner and Dee became close associates.

After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, her half-sister Elizabeth ascended to the throne of England. She sent for John Dee and asked for his advice to calculate the best time for her coronation which occurred on January 15, 1559.

Dee would continue to serve as an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I and own a riverside house at Mortlake near London. At this residence he amassed the largest library in England for the time; he had over 4,000 books and manuscripts while the Oxford library only had less than 400 in its collection and Cambridge's 451 in theirs. While it was a private library, he made it accessible to scholars. He also built an alchemical laboratory to further his studies on the subject. His library was so impressive that the Queen herself traveled to Mortlake simply to see the library. Queen Elizabeth and other nobility would give their patronage to Dee, but he never achieved financial independence so it is assumed that his library was built through gifts from patrons.

In 1564, Dee wrote Monas Hieroglyphica (The Hieroglyphic Monad), an exhaustive Cabalistic and Hermetic tome on the interpretation of a glyph of his own design, meant to express the mystical unity of all creation. He dedicated the book to the Holy Roman Emperor in an effort to gain more patronage, but it didn't work.

In 1570, Dee wrote a new mathematical preface to Henry Billingsley's translation of Euclid. This preface introduced the public to the signs of addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (x), and division (÷).

In 1577, Dee published General and Rare Memorials which was about navigation and Dee's vision of a maritime empire. He believed that England could become an empire through this naval supremacy and advocated that they needed to colonize the lands of the New World. Some argue that Dee saw Elizabeth as a new Arthur with him as her Merlin, and that a British Empire would be a new Atlantis as it colonized the New World. Some believe that Dee influenced Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe.

Maybe it was the frustration with limited patronage as well as seeing the religious turmoil ripping through Europe, but Dee started seeking ways to communicate with angels. He wanted to find a way to heal the rift between Catholic and Protestant Christianity.

He hired a number of scryers and crystal-gazers to serve as an intermediary between Dee and the angels, but were unsuccessful or unsatisfactory. Then, in 1582, he met Edward Kelley (also known as Edward Talbot), a medium who was around 28-years his junior. Through Kelley, Dee had several conversations with angels and which resulted in the discovery of the Enochian or angelic language.

It was also around August 1582 that John Dee is said to have met Francis Bacon, who would be a philosopher, statesman, a possible Rosicrucian, and an accomplished author.

Starting in Fall 1583, in search of another royal patronage, Dee and Kelley traveled to Continental Europe. They first met with a Polish nobleman named Albert Laski who was the Count Palatine of Siradz. This endeavor failed as Laski was poor and out of favor with the Polish court. They traveled throughout Europe meeting with King Stefan of Poland and Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. While in Prague, Dee was made a Doctore of Medicine.

If it was not for his affiliation with Queen Elizabeth, he may have been given patronage by the Emperor, but they mistrusted him as they believed that he was a spy for England. It is said that he signed his letters 007 which inspired the James Bond books by Ian Fleming who used 007 as Bond's codename.

By 1586, Dee lost favor in the Holy Roman Empire and was banished due to condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church, but he took refuge with the Count of Bohemia where he resided for nearly 2-years. In 1587, the relationship between Kelley and Dee degraded after Kelley said that angels had ordered them to share their wives. Kelley would go on to serve as an alchemist for the Emperor, but would later be arrested for failing to make good on his promises. Kelley would die in February 1593 during an attempt to escape from prison.

In 1589, he returned to England and found his Mortlake home vandalized and looted. That year also saw a plague spread through London which took the life of his wife, Jane, and five of their children. He started back up his alchemical studies and experiments, but he never attained the Philosopher's Stone.

Around 1595/96, Dee was appointed by the Queen as Warden of Christ's College in Manchester. With the decline of Catholicism in England, this college had bee re-organized as a Protestant institution with a Royal charter in 1578. This turned out not to be good for Dee as he was constantly at odds with the other Fellows of the College who despised him. While he didn't resign from this position, he returned to London in 1605. By this time, Elizabeth had died and James I had taken the throne of England and Scotland who didn't give any support or protection to John Dee.

John Dee spent the final years of his life in poverty, even after he sold off many of his possessions to support him and his daughter, Katherine, who took care of him in the end. He died sometime between December 1608 and March 1609 in Mortlake. He is said to have been buried at the local Anglican church, but both the record and gravestone are missing today. Dee was survived by two of his sons and one daughter; he had been married three times and had eight children.

References

1. A Hermetic & Rosicrucian Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: http://www.golden-dawn.com/eu/displaycontent.aspx?pageid=71- 

2. Cooper, D. W., & Gerald, L. (n.d.). A Bond for All the Ages. Retrieved from Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning: http://www.sirbacon.org/links/dblohseven.html 

3. Dee, John (1527-1608). (2020). Retrieved from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/John_Dee.aspx 

4. Feingold, M. (n.d.). John Dee. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/155467/John-Dee 

5. Harrison, D. (2016, August 20). John Dee and Edward Kelley; Conversing with the Angels. Retrieved from Dr. David Harrison: https://dr-david-harrison.com/freemasonry/john-dee-edward-kelley-conversing-angels/ 

6. John Dee. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dee 

7. John Dee - Astrologer to the Queen. (n.d.). Retrieved from Biblioteca: https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/bb/john_dee.htm 

8. John Dee. (2015, March 01). Retrieved from Under the Tudor Rose: https://engelskhistoria.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/john-dee/ 

9. John Dee was the 16th century's real-life Gandalf. (2015, February 19). Retrieved from bOINGbOING: http://boingboing.net/2015/02/19/john-dee-was-the-real-life-mer.html 

10. Lee, P. (1996). About Dr. John Dee. Retrieved from The John Dee Society: http://www.johndee.org/DEE.html 

11. Westfall, R. S. (1995). Dee, John. Retrieved from The Galileo Project: http://galileo.rice.edu/Catalog/NewFiles/dee.html


Saturday, September 26, 2020

2020 General Grand Council


Well, today the 47th Triennial of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International met via Zoom. It was a long, but fruitful day that I spent with a close friend and Brother who also is the Junior Past Illustrious Grand Master of Idaho, General Grand Ambassador to Idaho, and Chairman of the Cryptic Jurisprudence Committee.

Among other items of business, the General Grand Council approved to issue charters for five new Grand Councils of Cryptic Masons: of Central America, Peru, Paraguay, United States of Mexico, and Venezuela; which will be constituted at a future date.

Sixteen Companions received the Columbian Award to include a Past Illustrious Grand Master of Idaho and a friend. This award takes its name from Columbia Council in New York which was an epicenter and the Mother Council of Cryptic Masonry prior to the establishment of Grand Councils and the General Grand Council. The Columbian Medal is the highest award one can receive from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International. The Columbian Medal is a medal awarded to an outstanding Cryptic Mason for service to Masonry.

I'd like to congratulate Most Puissant Companion David A Grindle on presiding over a successful international meeting that was done electronically and had over 460 Masons attending. He, his officers, and his sessions committee did an amazing job. I congratulate David on his Cryptic career as a Past Illustrious Grand Master of Idaho, General Grand Recorder, and then General Grand Master. He is a very involved Freemason around the world and is in several concordant and appendant Masonic bodies. Had it not been for the restrictions in place due to COVID19, he would have installed me as Most Illustrious Grand Master of Idaho back in April. David has been a mentor for me and has been very influential in my Masonic career.

I'd like to congratulate Monty Glover on being elected the new Most Puissant General Grand Master of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International. I wish the best of luck to him and all of the newly elected and appointed General Grand officers in the upcoming Triennium.

The Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA said it best when he said that we are blessed with our current technology which allowed us to meet virtually during this pandemic which could not have occurred even 10-years ago.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Grand Lodge of Idaho

Today the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho met and held the 153rd Annual Communication. The officers and a limited few essential Brothers were allowed in the Lodge room while everyone else observed and participated via Zoom. Only the reports of the Grand Master, Grand Treasurer, Grand Secretary, Board of Custodians, Jurisprudence Committee, and Accounts & Finances were read and approved. Finally, we elected the officers for the 2020-2021 Masonic year. All other committee reports were in the advanced proceedings and resolutions were tabled until next year.

I'd like to congratulate now Jr. Past Grand Master, Steven L. Hall, on his year in the Grand East. He served as Grand Master of Cryptic Masons when I was Grand High Priest, and he and I spent a lot of time traveling together. We also discussed much about his plans when he would be Most Worshipful Grand Master. His year started out strong, but then COVID-19 came into the world and halted Masonry worldwide. He had to make many hard decisions and I didn't envy the burden he carried on his shoulders.

Now we have a new Grand Master of Masons in Idaho and I wish him the best of luck. At his installation, Grand Master Steven Zimmerman announced his plan to start reopening Freemasonry in Idaho which will also allow for the reopening of the rest of the Masonic family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A Masonic Giant

If I were to ask a Mason to list notable authors, I'd probably be given the following names: Albert Pike, Albert Mackey, Manly P. Hall, A.E. Waite, Chris Hodapp, Brent Morris, Robert Gould, Carl Claudy, Robert Macoy, Ray Denslow,  Art de Hoyos, and W.L. Wilmshurst. Many Masons don't know or recognize the name Harold Van Buren Voorhis who was an extremely influential Mason, historian, and author; a proverbial "Masonic Giant."

Harold V.B. Voorhis was born on January 3, 1894, in Red Bank, NJ. After high school, he attended Cooper Union College and Columbia University Teachers Extension. He worked for a number of years as a chemist for Bull & Roberts in New York City and even served in the US Navy during WWI.

He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on June 1, 1920, in Mystic Brotherhood Lodge No.21 (Red Bank, NJ) and served as its Worshipful Master in 1937. He was also a Past High Priest and Past Grand Historian of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of New Jersey, Past Grand Master of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of NJ, Past Eminent Commander and Past Grand Historian of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of NJ, 33° and member of the Committee on History in Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Fellow of the Philalethes Society, member of the Order of the Eastern Star Past Grand Preceptor (1951) of the Grand College of the USA of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, Past Great Chancellor (1968) of the Great Priory of America of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte, and a number of other groups that will be discussed further.

Voorhis was one of the original "Innovators" who helped establish the Grand College of Rites and served as its first Grand Registrar and its third Grand Chancellor. Voorhis had been elevated by Henry Parsell to the 97° in the Rites of Memphis & Misraim before the Sovereign Sanctuary of the USA surrendered its charter to the Grand College of Rites.

After he took over as Commander-General (1939-1957) of the Masonic Order of the Bath, he started holding its meetings at Masonic Week, where it still meets today. Voorhis would serve as the Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees for the USA from February 1943 to February 1944.

In 1946, he became Vice President of the Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., and would serve in that position until 1970. He was a prolific Masonic author covering subjects such as Masonic Rosicrucianism, the Order of the Eastern Star, Knights Templar, Royal Order of Scotland, Red Cross of Constantine, the Scottish Rite, and the Allied Masonic Degrees.

Voorhis was responsible for reviving the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. Voorhis helped start the New Jersey College in 1931 where he first served as Secretary before becoming its Chief Adept in 1932. He would go on to help establish several other Colleges. He served as Junior Substitute (Deputy) Supreme Magus from 1940-1948, Senior Substitute (Deputy) Supreme Magus from 1948-1950, and Most Worthy Supreme Magus from 1950-1979; the longest-serving Supreme Magus.

Voorhis was a key player in the formation of the Grand Council of Knight Masons for the USA. Prior to 1967, the USA fell under the jurisdiction of the Grand Council of Ireland. For a time there were 2-provinces and Voorhis served as one the Provincial Grand Superintendents. Eventually, the two provinces would be merged into one and Voorhis was the sole Provincial Grand Superintendent until 1967. Over the next 17-years, he grew the Knight Masons on an average of 75 new members each year. In February 1967, having the support of the Grand Council of Ireland and the support of American Knight Masons, the Grand Council of Knight Masons for the USA was formed and Voorhis was elected its first Most Excellent Great Chief.

He passed away on May 23, 1983, and left behind his mark on American Freemasonry.

References

1. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons - Volume IV. Richmond: Macoy Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_4_Q_to_Z.htm 

2. Hanttula, D. (2017). The Masonic Tour Guide - Vol.1. 

3. Harold Van Buren Voorhis. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Van_Buren_Voorhis 

4. Jordan, D. L. (2002, May 15). A History of Knight Masonry in the United States of America. Retrieved from MasterMason.com: http://www.mastermason.com/StPatrickCouncil/a_history_of_knight_masonry__in_.htm 

5. Marples, J. A. (2015). The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, Blossoming yet Thorny. Retrieved from Nebraska College, SRICF: http://www.masonic.benemerito.net/msricf/papers/marples/2015-06.marples-brotherhood.rosy.cross.blossimng.yet.thorny.pdf 

6. Shute, J. R. (1975). The Innovators. Retrieved from Grand College of Rites: http://grandcollegeofrites.org/innovators/ 

7. Voorhis, H. V. (1952). Masonic Organizations and Allied Orders and Degrees. Red Bank, NJ: Press of Henry Emmerson. 

8. Voorhis, H. V. (1983). A History of Organized Masonic Rosicrucianism.

Monday, August 31, 2020

I Remember My Father

 Today marks 2-years since my Father passed away. I sit here in California working and I've started writing down everything I remember about him. This doesn't nearly encompass everything he was, but it is what I wish to share:

I remember him working multiple jobs to support his wife and kids. 

I remember him carrying me when I broke my arm in elementary school. 

I remember watching horror movies with him and Laura then scaring Laura while we cleaned GeriKens. 

I remember him saving me when I thought I was stronger than the river's rapids. 

I remember him giving me my first beer and so many more over the years. 

I remember every hunting and camping trip to the Cabin. 

I remember him teaching me to ride motorcycles and encouraging me to get back up when I fell. 

I remember his stories and jokes, many of them inappropriate, but hilarious. 

I remember his wrath when I messed up and stepped over the line...which was a lot. 

I remember him teaching me Pinochle when I was sick and the countless games we played over the years. 

I remember the look of pride on his face when Laura was sworn in as a police officer. 

I remember how he melted when his grandchildren were born. 

I remember the look of fear in his eyes when Laura and I deployed to Iraq, and the relief when we were returned I remember the values and lessons he passed on, some were harder to learn than others. 

I remember the last words we spoke to each other. 

I will cherish every good memory and reflect upon the bad ones. 

I miss you Dad and God knows what I would give to just hear your voice one more time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Sights and Places: Dayton Masonic Center

Another beautiful Masonic building lies in the State known as the "Mother of Presidents". Lying near the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio, the Dayton Masonic Center stands a very impressive structure sitting on a large property that is beautifully landscaped. It was built by an association established by 14 Masonic groups. It took nearly 3-years to complete using around 450-workers total (many of whom were Masons themselves) and, today, would cost around $40-million. The ground was broken on July 20th, 1925, the cornerstone was laid on May 19th, 1926, and the building was opened on April 1st, 1928.

Prior to this building, the Dayton Masons were located at a renovated Lutheran church that they purchased in 1903. In 1913, there was a massive flood that damaged their old Lodge room so they were looking for a new location. That and they were also running out of space to accommodate every Lodge and Masonic groups. They purchased land that was higher up and safe from floods in the form of the Stoddard Mansion; the Stoddard family was a car manufacturer that went bankrupt and had to sell the mansion.


The building measures 265-feet long, 190-feet wide, and 80-feet high. It is composed of steel, cement, and stone. The stone includes 55,000 cubic feet of Bedford Stone as well as 15,000 cubic feet of hard limestone and marble from Vermont, Alabama, and Tennessee which took 20 train carloads to transport. The marble was used for the interior floors, wainscotings, partitions, and stairways. The building was designed to incorporate Grecian-style architecture. Land was later purchased that was converted to a parking lot that can hold roughly 250-vehicles


Entry Hall

The Dayton Masonic Center houses a number of impressive rooms to include the Schiewetz Auditorium which has 1500 seats. This auditorium would be used for large initiation ceremonies for groups such as the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.


Entrance to the Auditorium


View of the stage


View from the stage

For use by the York Rite, specifically the Knights Templar, there is the Templar Room which is covered with rich colors and woodwork and can seat up to 200.


The Templar Room

They have a number of Lodge rooms, but I am only showing you one which has been described as the most beautiful in the building.


A Blue Lodge

It also holds a library that I think is beautifully furnished.



The last room is the Ballroom which is used for a number gala events and can be rented out for a number of public or private events.


The Ballroom prepared for a wedding

I hope one day to visit this location and get a tour.

Reference

1. Dayton Masonic Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayton_Masonic_Center 

2. Dayton Masonic Center Video Tour. (2018, April 22). Retrieved from Freemasons for Dummies: https://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2018/04/dayton-masonic-center-video-tour.html 

3. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dayton Masonic Foundation: http://daytonmasonicfoundation.org/history/ 

4. S2: The Masonic Temple. (n.d.). Retrieved from Decoding Dayton: https://indigo.life/decoding-dayton/the-masonic-temple/ 

5. The Dayton Masonic Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.daytonmasoniccenter.org/

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri

As I mentioned in my first article on the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD), is an invitation organization composed of detached degrees and honors, one of which is known as the Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri. The Red Branch of Eri is said to be an ancient order that was established in Ireland that was passed down through the generations before being housed within the AMD. This order exists "within the bosom of the Grand Council and is a Chamber thereof" and is considered the pinnacle of the Allied Masonic Degrees. It is important to note that there is a slight difference between the English and American orders. The American confers this order for meritorious service while in England a member needs to be a VIº in the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia before they are eligible.

The degrees embodied in the Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri are: 

Man-at-Arms or Associate, Red Branch of Eri (ARBE)
Esquire or Member, Red Branch of Eri (MRBE)
Knight or Knight Red Branch of Eri (KRBE)
Knight Commander or Knight Commander Red Branch of Eri (KCRBE)
Knight Grand Cross or Knight Grand Cross Red Branch of Eri (KGCRBE)
Knight Supreme Grand Cross or Knight Supreme Grand Cross Red Branch of Eri (KSGCRBE)

Councils may elect a Brother a Man-at-Arms (ARBE) for exceptional service to their Council and who are not presently holding an elected office. Each year, a Council may elect up to two Brothers who hold office in a Council to the rank of Esquire (MRBE). For distinguished service to the AMD and having membership in the AMD for 7-years, each year a Council may honor up to two Brothers by investing them with the rank of Knight (KRBE). For those Brothers who have served or are currently serving as Sovereign Master of an AMD Council, they can be elected to be invested with the rank of Knight Commander (KCRBE). The rank of Knight Grand Cross (KGCRBE) is available for those Brothers who are Present or Past Grand Officers of the Grand Council. The rank of Knight Supreme Grand Cross (KSGCRBE) is for those Brothers who currently or have served as the Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council.

Like the Blue Lodge, the Red Branch of Eri presents the legendary history of the order and a series of lessons for the candidates being invested with the rank of Man-at-Arms, Esquire, and Knight. The ranks of Knight Commander, Grand Cross, and Supreme Grand Cross are not exemplified.

The basic organizational unit is known as a Faslairt and represents an encampment. Per the Constitution of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA, only Knight Commanders may preside over a Faslairt or serve as a governing official. Tradition holds that the Senior Knight Commander presides over the Faslairt which is composed of the following officers:

Commander or Chieftain
Ard Brehon
Ard Cruimthear
Ard Ollam
Four Bards
Master of Ceremonies
Captain of the Guard
Herald or Bollasain
Standard Bearer
Sword Bearer
Sentinel
Trumpeter
4 Knights

NOTE: 'Ard' and 'Knight' are used synonymously, though 'Ard' actually means 'High.'

The Jewel of the Order is a white Salem Cross having a red branch in leaf superimposed thereon, but not all wear this jewel. Each degree wears a slightly different regalia. Men-at-Arms (ARBE) wear a blue and white sash and their jewel is that of a red cross over a green wreath (see Fig 1). 

Fig. 1

Esquires (MRBE) wear a sash of green, white, and blue and their jewel is a green Templar cross suspended from a blue ribbon (see Fig 2). 

Fig. 2

Knights (KRBE) wear a yellow, green, white, and blue sash; a pocket jewel that depicts the motto "Erin Go Bragh" a circle surrounding a harp with an 8-pointed star; and they wear the jewel of the order suspended from a green ribbon (see Fig 3).

Fig. 3

Knight Commanders (KCRBE) wears a sash of red, yellow, green, white, and blue; the same pocket jewel as Knights do; a gold Latin cross with clovers adorning it; and their jewel is a Patriarchal cross surmounted with a crown (see Fig 4).

Fig. 4

Knights Grand Cross (KGCRBE) wear a sash of black, red, yellow, green, white, and blue; a pocket jewel that depicts the motto "Erin Go Bragh" looped around a Patriarchal cross embossed upon a style of a Maltese cross; and they wear the same jewel as Knight Commanders (see Fig 5).

Fig. 5

Knights Supreme Grand Cross (KSGCRBE) wears a pocket jewel that depicts the motto of the order which surrounds a Salem Cross surmounted with a cross, and a collar from which a Salem cross surmounted with a crown is suspended (see Fig 6).

Fig. 6

According to legend, the Red Branch of Eri traces its history back to ancient Ireland. An ancient book known as 'The Annals of the Four Masters of Ireland' tells of the Knights of the Collar of Eri as instituted by King Eamhium and his eight princes over the armies of the four provinces of Ireland, i.e.: Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught. In these ancient times, there seem to have been multiple knighthoods and this order seems to be an amalgamated descendant of those knighthoods.

As to the modern history of the order, Worshipful Brother F. G. Irwin, of Inhabitants Lodge No.178, received the order in 1858 from the O'Donnell family who had passed it down father to son. W:.Bro. Irwin would go onto restore and reorganize the order in England under the aegis of the Grand Mur-Ollamham; the name "Mur-Ollamham" translates as "College of the Learned." Bro. John Yarker of England would preside over the "English Revival Order of the Red Branch of Eri" and whose ritual is currently used. In 1933, John R. Shute and William M. Brown, both Past Sovereign Grand Masters, obtained permission from England to establish the order in the US.

References

1. Article XX, Constitution. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Council, Allied Masonic Degrees, USA: https://www.amdusa.org/downloads/AMD.Constitution.Draft.pdf 

2. Dominic, J. (2016, October 31). Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri. Retrieved from Doylestown Lodge 245: https://www.doylestownmasons.org/royal-order-of-the-red-branch-of-eri/#:~:text=Legend%20says%20that%20the%20Royal,Ireland%20possessed%20highly%20developed%20literature. 

3. Moore, T. (1835). The History of Ireland. Paris: Baudry's European Library. Retrieved from https://highlander.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Thomas-Moore-History-of-Ireland-Vol-1.pdf 

4. Red Branch of Eri. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Council, Allied Masonic Degrees, USA: https://www.amdusa.org/degrees/RBE.html

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Robert Samber

In November 2017, I attended a presentation by Shawn Eyer at the Detroit Masonic Temple. During the presentation, he referenced several Masonic authors from the 18th century. I learned that one of the earliest known essays written by a Mason concerning Freemasonry was by Robert Samber. Robert Samber was an English Freemason, author, and translator.

Samber was born in 1682 around Lymington, Hampshire, England. He faced many disadvantages as he was a younger son in a Catholic family when Protestantism had taken hold of England which limited his career choices. After considering joining the clergy, he began a literary career. Samber authored several documents and include "Treaties on the Plague" which gives instructions on how to prevent and mitigate the spread of the plague. This document was dedicated to the Duke of Montague who was the Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge (the Moderns).

Samber also wrote under the pseudonym "Eugenius Philalethes" which was also used by alchemist Thomas Vaughan. It is debated as to whether he was a Rosicrucian or not, but using this pseudonym as a homage to Thomas Vaughan, himself a famous alchemist and Rosicrucian, seems to support the possibility. Long Livers, a compilation of the gathered knowledge of the time, was written by Harouet de Longeville and was translated, with a preface, by Robert Samber using his pseudonym. This preface was a dedication to the Grand Master and brethren of England and Ireland. Samber made some very bold pronouncements about Freemasonry and its lineage in this preface. In one instance he stated that Freemasonry belonged to "an uninterrupted Tradition" and that Masons are "a chosen Generation, a royal Priesthood." I was fascinated to learn that he is also the first known author to use the term "living stones" in regards to Freemasons which is still used in our ritual today and is one of my favorite orations in Freemasonry.

Among his non-Masonic translations is Charles Perrault's "Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals", which later became known as "Tales of Mother Goose" which contain tales such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Cinderella," "Puss in Boots," and other children's stories.

For the most part, men and Masons alike saw him as an honorable man. One paper I read about him was not a fan as he was described as a "rogue Catholic" and a "rogue Freemason" who used his connections for his own profit.

References

1. Armitage, E. (1898). Robert Samber. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 11, 103-108. 

2. Blom, J., & Blom, F. (n.d.). Samber, Robert. Retrieved from Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-69872 

3. Brother Eugenius Philalethes sendeth greeting. (2007, May 31). Retrieved from The Burning Taper: http://burningtaper.blogspot.com/2007/05/brother-eugenius-philalethes-sendeth.html 

4. Eyer, S. (2017). Wisdom of the Founding Brethren. Retrieved from Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/35121020/Wisdom_of_the_Founding_Brethren_Light_from_the_Earliest_Lodge_Writings_and_Orations 

5. Eyer, S. (n.d.). The Essential Secrets of Masonry. Retrieved from Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/35111939/A_Dissertation_upon_Masonry_1734_with_Commentary_and_Notes 

6. Gould, R. (1884). The History of Freemasonry. London. 

7. History of the Philalethes Society. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Philalethes Society: http://freemasonry.org/history.php 

8. Loiselle, K. (2017, May). From Enlightenment to Revolution. Retrieved from The California Freemason: https://californiafreemason.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/04/17-MOC-056_CFM_MayJune.pdf

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

RIP Jerry D. Parson

It is with a heavy heart and great regret that I report the death of Worshipful Brother Jerry D. Parsons. Jerry was born on August 8, 1944, in Seattle, WA, but was raised in Boise, ID. Jerry enlisted in the US Air Force in 1964 and served with the Idaho Air National Guard until 1970. He held jobs in Golf, Food and Beverage, and Bus Transportation industries.

He joined Freemasonry in 1989 when he was initiated into Boise Lodge No.2 where he served as Worshipful Master in 1994 and 2009 (same year when I was Master of my Lodge). He is a Past Grand Tyler, Past Grand Historian, and Past Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho. Jerry was a Charter member and Past Master of Idaho City Historic Lodge No.1863

He joined the York Rite in Boise in 1991 where served as Excellent High Priest of Boise Chapter No.3 in 2009 and 2020, Illustrious Master of Idaho Council No.1 in 2010, and Eminent Commander of Idaho Commandery No.1 in 2011. He also received the Order of High Priesthood, Order of the Silver Trowel, and Order of Knights Preceptor. He was a Past Grand Historian of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho, Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho, and Right Eminent Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho. He was also a recipient of the Knights Templar Cross of Honor and Knight Commander of the Temple.

He was also a member of the Redemption Tabernacle No.XL of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, current Deputy Prior of Idaho Priory No.13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor (and recipient of the Knights of the York Grand Cross of Honor), Past Governor of Tri-Valley College No.178 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, and a Past Sovereign of St. Michael's Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine. He was also a member of Syringa Order No.121 of the Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill, Boise Valley of the Scottish Rite, and El Korah Shriners.

Jerry died this morning from complications due to cancer. He is going to be greatly missed. I've known Jerry my entire Masonic journey and he was a constant companion. He was an extremely skilled Brother. He was always positive and was always willing to help out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Holy Mary Magdalene

Today is the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene (also known as Mary of Magdala). An enigmatic and marginalized figure whose role with the Savior has transformed in recent times, particularly with the discovery of the Gnostic texts. With many Christian denominations and traditions, and for many centuries, Mary was seen as a repentant whore who was saved by Jesus, the witness to the Resurrection, and messenger to the Apostles. However, with Gnostic traditions, Mary was much more than a mere follower and in Gnostic Gospels, she is depicted as a prominent disciple of the Savior.

Without question, we can be sure that the early leaders of the Roman Catholic Church amended, revised, and sanitized the Holy Bible to conform to their beliefs and policies rather than the pure message of the Savior. Due to her prominence and interaction, Mary couldn't be wholly expunged from the Gospels, but they did much to wash away her status. Even with that, she is mentioned in the Bible more times than most male apostles. Ultimately, this inaccurate portrayal of Mary comes from Pope Gregory I which came through in the form of a sermon given on Easter in 591 AD.

It is not surprising that the Magdalene has been so defamed and diminished as for centuries Christendom was under the thumb of the Roman Catholic Church established through Peter. Peter and his followers hated women and you can see this aggressive sexist tone in much of the books compiled and revised by that church. With the discovery of the suppressed Gnostic Gospels, this anti-Marian narrative is expressed in several verses.

The Gospel of Philip notes that she was a constant companion of the Lord. In the Gospel of Thomas, Peter proclaims that females are not worthy of life and wishes the Savior to dismiss her from their company. The Pistis Sophia ("Wisdom of Faith") recognizes Mary as insightful and wise, and that Mary will surpass all other disciples. This codex also records Mary stating that she fears Peter as he threatens her and hates her race. This latter statement has to be interpreted to mean the feminine race while others see it to mean that Peter hated Gnostics (which he did). In the Gospel of Mary, there is recorded one instance where Peter and his brother, Andrew, attempt to bully her because of her standing with the Savior; the profane often despise the enlightened.

In recent years, the Magdalene's role has been reviewed and found to be more than just a saved prostitute. Even the Roman Catholic Church has acknowledged her as "Apostola Apostolorum" or "Apostle of the Apostles" or "the First Apostle." It also has come to be known that Mary of Bethany (sister of Lazarus) is one and the same as Mary Magdalene. The use of the epithet of Magdalene or Magdala further demonstrates that she was a prominent woman or possessed wealth in some way. The Gospel of Luke even states that Mary supported the Savior and his entourage which gives credence to her being a wealthy woman.

In the Templar Revelations by Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett, they provide evidence to a theory that Mary was wife and companion to the Savior, that the episode with Lazarus was an initiatic tradition not a literal resurrection, and that Lazarus was St. John the Beloved. This latter point is supported by the Johannite tradition that the name "John" is a title.

To me, Mary stands as an exemplar for one who is transformed by the Logos and achieves Gnosis. As I alluded to on the Feast Day of Adam and Eve, Christ fulfilled his role and completed the Advent and being the New Adam and, in this instance, Mary fulfills the role as the New Eve. Some have even called her an incarnation of the Holy Sophia, the Divine Feminine.

I hope everyone has a blessed day and I leave you with a a great article written by Most Reverend Timothy Mansfield, Bishop of New South Wales for the Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/bishop-tim-mansfield-the-magdalene/

References

1. Apostola Apostolorum. (2017). Retrieved from Project Muse: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/659085/summary 

2. Conner, M. (2015, July 15). Why Do Gnostics Consider Mary Magdalene the Greatest Apostle? Retrieved from Aeonbyte Gnostic Radio: https://thegodabovegod.com/why-do-gnostics-consider-mary-magdalene-the-greatest-apostle/ 

3. Kelly, B. (2016, July 19). St. Mary Magdalene is the Same Mary, the Sister of Lazarus and Martha of Bethany. Retrieved from Catholicism.org: https://catholicism.org/st-mary-magdalene-is-the-same-mary-the-sister-of-lazarus-of-bethany.html 

4. Mansfield, T. (2018, September 2). The Magdalene. Retrieved from Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/bishop-tim-mansfield-the-magdalene/ 

5. Mary Magdalene. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene 

6. Mary Magdalene, apostle of the apostles. (2016, June 10). Retrieved from Vatican Press Office: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2016/06/10/160610c.html 

7. Picknett, L., & Prince, C. (1997). The Templar Revelation. New York: Touchstone. 

8. Price, R. M. (2009). Mary Magdalene: Gnostic Apostle? Retrieved from RMP: https://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_mary_magdalene.htm 

9. The Gospel of Mary. (1998, April). Retrieved from Public Broadcasting Service: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/map