Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Master's Craft

Any Mason involved with ordering Masonic regalia, jewelry, pins, coins, and so on knows that there are a lot of sites and vendors out there. While there are many worthy Brothers running them, I want to highlight one and that is The Master's Craft ran by Bro. John Bridegroom out of Indiana. From the website:

The Masters Craft creates unique Masonic items for the Fraternity at large, when quality, artistry and longevity are desired. The Masters Craft is owned and operated by W. Bro. John Bridegroom, Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of Indiana. Being deeply impressed by the artistry of items in the Masonic Fraternity’s history, we desire to continue that tradition in The Masters Craft. With no intention of being the average retail store, or supplying the mundane artifacts of regular Masonic operations, the focus has been placed more on projects that require a special touch, and an approach that fuses the visual standard of today with the depth and power of the designs of our past. We hope you will our work to be fitting representations of the honors they represent!

Due to the amount of Masonic organizations that I am in, I am in possession of a lot of Masonic jewelry and pins...a lot. Quality isn't always the best and sometimes Masonic groups don't always purchase items of the best quality. When I started attending Masonic Week I was introduced to The Master's Craft and Bro. John Bridegroom. John is a very dedicated Brother and has an impressive Masonic curriculum vitae which gives him an insight into the world of Masonic regalia and jewelry. A few years ago, I purchased some Allied Masonic Degree jewels from him and compared them to some others I bought from another vendor. The first thing I noticed was the difference in quality and durability. From that experience, I've started purchasing jewels and pins from him for a few other groups that I'm involved with to include the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.

He has jewels, pins, and coins for the Blue Lodge, Allied Masonic Degrees, Royal Arch, Mark Masonry, Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, Red Cross of Constantine, the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, Royal Order of Jesters, the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, York Rite College, and can even do custom jobs. I encourage all Masons to check out this website if you are interested in quality.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat

Within the Apostolic Johannite Church, today is the Feast Day of Dr. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat who was an ordained priest, a medical doctor, worked as the court doctor of Napoleon I, was a recipient of the French Legion of Honor, discovered the Levitikon, restored the Knights Templar under the name of l'Ordre du Temple, and founded the Johannite Church.

Born on May 29, 1773, in Cordes-sur-Ciel, France, Bernard was the son of a well-known surgeon. Cordes-sur-Ciel is 25-km northwest of Albi, France, which was an epicenter for the Cathars and from which the Albigensian Crusade derived its name.

He studied at a diocesan seminary in Cahors and was ordained a priest with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1794, he left the priesthood and studied medicine in Montpellier and Caen and received his medical degree on April 12, 1798. That same year he moved to Paris and continued to study medicine and received another degree on September 16, 1803.

It was strange that he move there, but speaks to his character as most were fleeing Paris. It was in Paris that he met Jacque Phillipe Ledru, head of the French National Academy of Medicine and a fellow Mason. Fabré-Palaprat had joined the Masons in Paris and was a member of the Chevaliers de la Croix under the Grand Orient of France (when it was still recognized). They were friends and Brothers, and Ledru would go on to share something that would change Fabré-Palaprat's life.

On November 4, 1804, Fabré-Palaprat brought back to public light the Order of the Temple or Knights Templar. The medieval Knights Templar had been suppressed back in October 1307, but according to the Larmenius Charter or "Charter of Transmission," the Templars continued underground. The Larmenius Charter was named after Johannes Marcus Larmenius who was appointed to be the Grand Master after the death of Jacques DeMolay. 

From that time forward, Grand Masters had appointed their successors down the line until Timoleon de Cossé, Duke of Brissac. The French Revolution of 1789 caused massive social upheaval that imprisoned many nobles and aristocrats to include the Duke. In 1792, many Revolutionaries in Paris believed that the political prisoners were planning a counterrevolutionary plot and so over a series of days bands of prisoners, to include the Duke of Bissac, were executed by the authority of "popular tribunals" (mob rule) which became known as the First Terror of the French Revolution or September Massacres.

It was a custom that after one's death in French culture for friends and employees to purchase properties and furnishings of the deceased to help liquidate estates or to help the widow with funds. Such was the case here when Jacque Phillipe Ledru, the Duke's former physician, purchased some of the Duke's furniture that just happens to contain the Larmenius Charter. Through a series of events, Ledru is offered to be Grand Master, but turns it down and the order falls under the regency of Claude-Mathieu Radix de Chevillon until Fabré-Palaprat's election as Grand Master in 1804. It should be noted that many in the Chevaliers de la Croix were also members of the l'Ordre du Temple.

This Templar order even received patronage and protection from Napoleon I. In 1808, at the anniversary of the martyrdom of Jacques DeMolay, the Knights Templar held a mass for him at the Church of St. Paul in Paris. The Templars then led a public procession through the streets of Paris to which Napoleon loaned a detachment of soldiers.

It was through the medieval Knights Templar that the Johannite tradition was transmitted through the centuries and in 1812, Fabré-Palaprat formed the Johannite Church called "l’Église Johannite des Chretiens Primitifs" and served as its Sovereign Pontiff This church was a predecessor to the Apostolic Johannite Church, to which I am a member.

Fabré-Palaprat was awarded the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor for assisting in the defense of Paris in 1814 when a coalition of forces sought to depose Emperor Napoleon attacked Paris. He also received the July Medal for his actions during the July Revolution of 1830.

In 1831, he published the Levitikon, a Gnostic version of the Gospel of John, which he is said to have found in a bookstore in 1814.

Dr. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat died on February 18, 1838, and the regency passed to Sir Sidney Smith before going to Joséphin Péladan, a famous occultist, to some the "godfather of the French Rosicrucian societies" in his day, and a leader of the Ordre de la Rose-Croix, du Temple et du Graal (Order of the Rose-Cross, the Temple and the Grail). Dr. Fabré-Palaprat was a man of science, faith, and the study of the occult. He left behind an amazing legacy of Templar and Johannite revival and kicking off the era of Gnostic Restoration. There is so much of his life and work that I didn't cover, but to cover everything would take more time than I have available.

Here is a video by Father Donald Donato on the good Doctor:

References

1. Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard-Raymond_Fabr%C3%A9-Palaprat

2. Donato, D. (2015, May 15). The Sovereign Pontiff. Retrieved from Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/the-sovereign-pontiff/

3. Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from Apostolic Johannite Church: https://www.johannite.org/frequently-asked-questions/

4. Historical and Mythological Touchstones. (n.d.). Retrieved from Order of the Temple and Saint John: https://otsj.org/history-myth/

5. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem: http://www.theknightstemplar.org/history/

6. September Massacres. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/September-Massacres

7. Silvia, A. (2013). Sanctuary of the Sacred Flame.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Giordano Bruno

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Martyr Giordano Bruno who was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist.

Born at Nola in Campania, which was in the Kingdom of Naples, in early 1548, Giordano Bruno was originally named Filippo Bruno. Not much is known of his early life, but what is known was that at the age of 15, he became a Dominican friar. It was at this time that he took the name "Giordano

He was a voracious scholar that read books on many subjects and he even obtained his doctorate in July 1575. However, he was caught studying magic and had to flee Italy when the Inquisition condemned him around 1576. For the next 17-years, he traveled around Europe teaching and writing a number of texts such as the "Clavis Magna" and "Il Candelaio." One such text expanded upon the Copernican theory of a heliocentric universe. He raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own, a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no "centre". Other texts were heavily occultic and all of which earned him the ire of the Roman Catholic Church. 

During his travels, he was constantly seeking patronage, and finally, he received word that a Venetian nobleman desired to be his patron. In 1591 he traveled to Venice, but after two years the nobleman betrayed Bruno to the Inquisition and he was jailed for 6-years in Rome. His trial began in the Spring of 1599, but was condemned in January 1600.

On February 17, 1600, he was hauled in chains to the Campo de'Fiori outside the gates of Rome, where a stake had been set up and wood piled around it. The Papal soldiers tied him to the stake; after a few formalities, one of them threw a lit torch onto the pyre, and the cries of the doomed man blended with the roaring of the flames and the catcalls of the crowd. He died standing up for his beliefs in a time when free thought was a death sentence, and many define him as a martyr for science. 

References

1. Giordano Bruno. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

2. Giordano Bruno. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Giordano-Bruno 

3. Greer, J. M. (2017). The Occult Book. New York: Sterling Publishing. 

4. Knox, D. (2018, May 30). Giordano Bruno. Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bruno/ 

5. Turner, W. (1908). Giordano Bruno. Retrieved from The Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03016a.htm


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Masonic Week 2021

Like many things in the last year, Masonic Week was greatly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. Most of the meetings went virtual or were canceled entirely.

Originally, Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon was supposed to meet on Thursday, February 11th, but the Grand Master's Council met on January 21, 2021, where Joseph MacIntyre was elected and installed as Most Worthy Grand Master and Brandon Yarbrough was appointed and installed as Most Eminent Grand Prior.

This last Thursday the Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan met virtually. This meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America.

Yesterday morning, the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the USA met where Martin Trent was elected and installed. Friday evening, the Masonic Society held its annual meeting where Most Worshipful Brother Akram Elias of DC gave a magnificent presentation called "Freemasonry in 2026: A Force for Good, or a Footnote in History?"

I presided over a quick meeting of the officers of the High Council of the Masonic Order of the Bath of the USA where we decided to keep the officers the same for the ensuing year.

This morning, the Philalethes Society held their 93rd annual meeting where Brother Adam Kendall gave a presentation called "History and Tradition: The Material Culture of Freemasonry". Later in the morning, the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America met. Most Venerable Brother Glen Cook did a great job with presiding over such a large meeting. Among the many visitors and attendees were Brothers from the Grand Councils of Canada, England, France, and the Congo. Congrats to Mohamad Yatim on being elected and installed Sovereign Grand Master and to Aaron Shoemaker on being elected and installed Deputy Grand Master, both for the Grand Council of the United States. The degrees and ceremonies of the AMD usually held at Masonic Week were postponed until next year to include Ye Antiente Order of Corks.

The 89th Annual Grand Ingathering of the Grand College of America of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests has been postponed until May where they are planning on meeting in Louisville, KY.

The Annual Meeting of the Grand College of Rites has been Called by the Grand Chancellor as an "Executive Session" where they will meet virtually to elect officers and discuss the agenda for the ensuing Masonic year. This "Executive Session" will only be open to elected and appointed officers; Past Grand Chancellors; and current committee members only.

I can't find information about the Grand Chapter of the Order of Knights Preceptor, the Society of Blue Friars, or the Operatives.


Monday, January 25, 2021

Robert Burns

Today we celebrate the memory of the man and Mason, Robert Burns, who was such a passionate Scotsman and poet that, after Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, he has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure. He was born into poverty which he struggled with throughout his life and, due to health issues, he died when he was only 37-years old, but in that time, he left such a mark that he is remembered as the "National Bard", the "Ploughman Poet", and many other names.

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in Alloway, south of Ayr (southwest Scotland). He was the eldest of the seven children of William Burnes, a tenant farmer, and Agnes Brown (sometimes seen as Broun). Tenant farmers in that time often faced a lose-lose situation because if a farmer was able to improve the land and make a profit, the rent would be increased which would negate his profits and keep him impoverished. Such is the tale with the Burns family because when Robert was 7-years of age, the family had to give up the farm and move to another farm southeast of Alloway. Robert would grow up to be one of his father's main laborers on the farm and many believe that living in such conditions as a child led to his poor health in adulthood.

Even in these conditions, Robert's father saw the value of educating his children. He learned reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history from his father, but would later receive a more formal education where he would learn Latin, French, and mathematics.

Robert's father, William, would move the family in 1777 to Lochlea, near Tarbolton, where the family lived until William died in 1784. It was in this town that Robert Burns joined Freemasonry. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice into Lodge St. David on July 4, 1781, at the age of 22. He was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on October 1, 1781. This Lodge had some internal disputes and the Lodge split where Robert went to Lodge St. James where he was elected as Deputy Master on July 27, 1784; it was said that the Worshipful Master was more an honorary position while the Deputy was the one in charge. He was a loyal attendee of his Lodge as his name is recorded dozens of times.

Robert Burns was no stranger to the ladies as he would father several illegitimate children. He had desired the hand of Jean Armour, but her father, a Mason himself, would not allow the marriage even though she is said to have been pregnant with Robert's baby at the time. Robert would meet Mary Campbell who died some months after giving birth to another illegitimate child in 1786. Emotionally and financially this was straining Robert and he faced the prospect of fleeing to Jamaica.

This did not occur though as Robert was approached by Gavin Hamilton who suggested selling his poems. Many who bought subscriptions were his Masonic Brothers and propelled him to celebrity status across the country. This support is what kept the Scottish flavor and cultural roots in his writings. Having grown up in a system that kept his family in perpetual poverty, Burns was constantly frustrated by the political and religious institutions of Scotland. Freemasonry was also an extremely positive influence in Robert's life as it did not reject him based on his social status and when he needed support his Brothers were there. His love of this international brotherhood inspired and is embodied in one of his most famous works "Auld Lang Syne."

While in Edinburgh, he was made an honorary member of multiple Lodges to include Lodge Kilmarnock Kilwinning St. John where he would write a song in honor of the Lodge and its Worshipful Master. Even the Grand Master of Scotland would recognize Burns for his writings and honored him during a toast given at Lodge St. Andrew in Edinburgh in 1787. He is said to have been made a "Poet Laureate" of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning. 

Robert Burns was exalted a Companion in the Holy Royal Arch on May 19, 1787, at St. Ebbe's (sometimes spelled St. Abb's) Lodge in Eyemouth (east of Edinburgh along the coast). Some speculate that he was also initiated into the Knights Templar, but I have not seen another source to confirm this claim.

In 1788, he finally married Jean Armour who would bear him several children and would help raise the illegitimate ones. Burns moved to Dumfries in June where he would work as a customs officer. and would join Lodge St. Andrew on St. John's Day. In 1792, he was elected as Senior Warden and this would be the last Masonic office he would hold before he died.

It was in Dumfries that he would write over 100 songs and his masterpiece "Tam O' Shanter". Many of his songs were lyrics adapted to older traditional songs. Burns sought to preserve as much of Scottish folklore and culture as he could. His writings covered topics from romanticism, Scottish patriotism, social struggles, the religious turmoil that still existed in Europe, and Freemasonry.

His life was prematurely cut short when he died on July 21, 1796, at the age of 37, from a rheumatic heart condition. Originally, he was buried in a simple grave, but in 1817 he was moved to a family mausoleum where it has stayed since. He wasn't perfect, but he was an honest and humble man. I believe it was his hardships and transgressions that inspired his works and endeared him to the world.

Today we commemorate the memory of Robert Burns by holding the annual Burns Night, Burns Supper, or Rabbie Burns Day. The format of these dinners is usually as follows:

  • Welcoming the Guests
  • The Selkirk Grace
  • Piping in the Haggis 
  • Address to the Haggis 
  • Toast to the Haggis 
  • The Meal 
  • The Drink
  • The first entertainment 
  • The Immortal Memory (dedication to Burns) 
  • The second entertainment 
  • Toast to the Lassies 
  • The final entertainment 
  • Reply to the Toast to the Lassies 
  • Vote of thanks 
  • Auld Lang Syne 

Such was the character of Robert Burns that friends and admirers held the first "Burns Supper" in 1801 and the tradition has spread around the world. His works have spanned two centuries and work like "Auld Lang Syne" is still sung on New Year's Eve. "A Man’s a Man for a’ That", considered a Masonic anthem, was sung at the opening of the 1999 Scottish Parliament. "Scots Wha Hae" served as an unofficial national anthem for Scotland.


References

1. 20 Facts about Robert Burns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scotland is Now: https://www.scotland.org/events/burns-night/20-facts-about-robert-burns 

2. About Robert Burns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Visit Scotland: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-burns/ 

3. Alexander. (2009, December 14). Robert Burns: Scotland’s Masonic Bard. Retrieved from Masonic Network: http://www.masonicnetwork.org/blog/2009/robert-burns-scotland%E2%80%99s-masonic-bard/ 

4. Brother Robert Burn. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Scotland: https://www.grandlodgescotland.com/2018/07/23/robert-burns/ 

5. Burns and Freemasonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Burns Encyclopedia: http://www.robertburns.org/encyclopedia/FreemasonryBurnsand.368.shtml 

6. Burns Night. (n.d.). Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/burns_night_running_order.shtml 

7. Burns Supper. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_supper 

8. Celebrating Burns Night. (n.d.). Retrieved from Visit Scotland: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-burns/burns-night/ 

9. Reno, A. (2017, April 16). Robert Burns: A poet and a Freemason. Retrieved from Tetraktys: https://tetraktys.co.uk/robert-burns-a-poet-and-a-freemason/ 

10. Robert Burns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns 

11. Robert Burns. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/burns.html 

12. Scottish Poet and Freemason: Robert Burns. (2018, August 03). Retrieved from Crusader History: https://crusaderhistory.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/scottish-poet-and-freemason-robert-burns/ 

13. Wilkinson, T. J. (n.d.). Robert Burns as a Freemason. Retrieved from Alexandria Burns Club: http://www.robertburns.org.uk/freemason-robertburns.html


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sights and Places: Grand Lodge of New York

Located in the borough of Manhattan is the Masonic Hall that sits as the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. Today it consists of two buildings: one was built in 1907 (and located at 23rd St. and 6th Ave.) and the other in 1913 (facing 24th St.). This first building was erected over the previous Masonic Hall and was designed by Harry P. Knowles and the rooms were renovated from 1986 to 1996 by Felix Chavez. This building on 23rd St. is composed of a commercial building where rent brings in revenue needed for the upkeep of the building on the 24th St. where Masonic activity occurs.

The Masonic Hall house the Grand Lodge office, Lodge meeting rooms, Grand Lodge meeting rooms, and the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library and Museum. Blue Lodges along with numerous other Masonic bodies meet in this building.

The Grand Lodge Room is a two-story, auditorium-style room that seats over 1,000 people.


The Renaissance Room, located on the 6th floor, is decorated to look as if the room is carved from stone and gold with murals and frescos.

The Hollander Room is, located on the 6th floor, is a small library-conference room with a famous statue of George Washington sculpted by Brother Bryant Baker, but incorporates Mayan and Incan motifs.

The Ionic Room, located on the 6th floor, is decorated in Mediterranean motif and takes its name from one of the classical orders of architecture.

The Corinthian Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with strong colors with art that has a porcelain appearance, and this room takes its name from another of the classical orders of architecture.

The Jacobean Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with heavy woodwork and medieval motif that would make a knight feel at home.

The Doric Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with a Greek motif and takes its name from another of the classical orders of architecture.

The French Ionic Room, located on the 10th floor, is decorated with a French motif that includes oil paintings, busts of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, gold filigree throughout the room, and Ionic columns.

The Colonial Room, located on the 10th floor, is decorated and furnished, as the name implies, with a colonial theme.

The French Doric Room, located on the 10th floor, is also decorated with a French motif, and the walls are lined with Doric columns, but the oil paintings in this room focus more on countryside scenes.

The Empire Room, located on the 12th floor, is decorated with early 19th Century French Neapolitan style with Greek and Roman influences.

The Gothic Room, located on the 12th floor, is modeled after the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, with the blue and white fleur-de-lis design stenciled in the false windows, and carved gargoyles on the ceiling beams.

The Chapter Room is decorated with terracotta colors and an Egyptian theme.

The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library, located on the 14th floor, is one of the world's largest Masonic libraries. According to its website, the Library "has pursued its mission to collect, study and preserve the Masonic heritage, focusing its efforts on the history and impact of Freemasonry in New York State."

I have never been to the Grand Lodge of New York, but this is one of the items on my Masonic Bucket List.

References

1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library: https://nymasoniclibrary.org/home/

2. Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from Atlas Obscura: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chancellor-robert-r-livingston-masonic-library

3. Dubé, B. (2006, October 18). Masonic Lodge. Retrieved from New York Daily Photo: http://newyorkdailyphoto.com/nydppress/?p=218

4. Elliott, M. (2014, October 15). A Look Inside Manhattan’s Masonic Hall: Grand Lodge of New York. Retrieved from Untapped New York: http://untappedcities.com/2014/10/15/a-look-inside-manhattans-masonic-hall-grand-lodge-of-nyc-photos/

5. Masonic Hall (Manhattan). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_Hall_(Manhattan) 

6. Our Grand Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York: https://nymasons.org/site/grand-lodge/ 

7. Venues. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Hall NYC: https://www.masonichallnyc.org/venues/


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Three Magi

Today is the Epiphany, or the Day of the Three Magi, which marks the end of the Christmas Season as well as commemorates a number of different events in the life of Christ: the revelation to and adoration of the Three Magi, the baptism of Christ by the Baptist, and the miracles at Cana; it is also sometimes known as Theophany meaning "manifestation of God." According to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, three wise men, or magi, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, were visited by an angel who declared the Messiah had been born and these three traveled to Bethlehem, following a star in the sky said to rest over where Jesus was born. When they found the baby Jesus they praised his glory and bestowed the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were respectively symbolic of His royal standing, His divine birth, and His mortality.

The Book of Matthew is the only of the four gospels to mention the Magi. It doesn't mention an exact number, but it is thought to be three due to the three gifts they bring. This number was favored by Origen, St. Leo the Great, and St. Maximus of Turin. In Eastern Christian traditions, it is believed to be twelve Magi not just three. Other depictions display two magi and, in another, four. These magi were said to be kings in regards to Pslam 72:11, "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him." Some suggest that the visitation of the Magi is a fulfilled prophecy by Balaam, a non-Israelite prophet, mentioned in the Book of Numbers. Biblical scholars believe that Isaiah prophecized the gifts given by the Magi.

It wouldn't be until the sixth century that the names Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar were attributed to the visiting magi. The "Excerpta Latina Barbari" refers to them as Bithisarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa. From the "Excerpta et Collectanea", written by the English monk Bede, states that the first magus was named Melchior who was an old man with white hair and a long beard, the second one was Caspar who was young and beardless, and the third was a man with a dark complexion and beard named Balthazar. A Syrian manuscript names them Hormizdah, King of Persia, Yazdegerd, King of Saba, and Perozadh, King of Sheba although some traditions list them as kings of Persia (Melchior), Arabia (Balthazar), and India (Caspar); Syriac Christians named them Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas; Ethiopians named them Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater; and Armenians named them as Kagpha, Badadakharida, and Badadilma. The names Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar stuck due to mosaics of the magi commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian that included these names.

Melchior comes from the Hebrew words meaning "king of light" or "king of splendor" which would coincide with his gift of gold. It is said that he was a king in Persia, but the territory that he ruled over is not known. The name Caspar is derived from the # word "Gaspar" which is itself stemmed from the Chaldean and Hebrew word "Gizbar" which translates as "treasurer." He is said to be a king from India, but the exact area of his kingdom is not known; some suggest southern India while others speculate farther east towards Thailand and the Malaysian peninsula. Balthazar comes from the Babylonian word "Balat-shar-usur" which translates as "save the life of the king" which alludes to his gift of myrrh as it was used for healing purposes in the Far East. Having a name derived from the Babylonians, it is no surprise that he is said to have been a king in Arabia.

From the Bible, we learn that after the Magi visited the Savior, God sent angels to the Magi to warn them not to return to Herod and they left back to their homes. There are many legends about what happened after. One legend states that St. Thomas, who traveled to India, is said to have baptized and ordained them priests 40-years after their visit to the Christ child. This goes with the stories of a 17th-century Portuguese poet named Luis de Camoes who identified the magi as Indian Brahmins. Another legend is that in 54 AD, the Magi met at Sewa (now Sebaste in Armenia) to celebrate Christmas. The following month they each died: Melchior on January 1, Balthazar on January 6, and Caspar on January 11. How they each died, but tradition holds that they were all martyred which would make sense of the fact that they all died within days of each other. Their relics are said to be housed in Cologne after being taken there by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany in 1162 AD.


References

Balthazar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Etymology Online: https://www.etymonline.com/word/balthazar 

Balthazar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balthazar_(magus) 

Landau, B. (n.d.). The Magi. Retrieved from Bible Odyssey: https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/magi 

Longenecker, D. (2018, January 2). Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior? Where Did That Come From? Retrieved from Standing on my Head: https://dwightlongenecker.com/caspar-balthasar-and-melchior-where-did-that-come-from/ 

Magi. (2020, December 9). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Magi 

Melchior. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melchior_(magus) 

Melchior Name History. (2013). Retrieved from Ancestry.com: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=melchior#:~:text=German%2C%20Danish%2C%20Dutch%2C%20Spanish,to%20one%20of%20the%20Magi. 

Saint Caspar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Caspar 

Saunders, W. (n.d.). The Magi. Retrieved from Catholic Education Resource Center: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-magi.html 

Sebothoma, M. (2017, July 31). Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar? Retrieved from The Southern Cross: https://www.scross.co.za/2008/11/balthasar-melchior-and-gaspar/ 

Zielinski, E. (2020, June 23). Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh - The Truth About Their Significance. Retrieved from Natural Living Family: https://naturallivingfamily.com/gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Go Away, 2020

 2020 has been a rough year for mankind. I'm ready to leave it behind and start fresh in 2021.



Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to all of my family, friends, Brothers, Companions, Sir Knights, Companion Knights, Fellows, Knights Companion, Cousins, Knights, and Fratres around the world.



Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas Observance

Today, the Grand Commander of Knights Templar of Idaho held a statewide virtual Christmas Observance to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This collaboration was accomplished with help of the Grand Captain General, Grand Generalissimo, Grand Recorder, two Past Grand Commanders, the Grand Prelate, the Assistant Grand Prelate of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, and myself.

The opening statement of the Grand Commander:

Sir Knights and guests, on this glorious occasion we commemorate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.  Emmanuel, “God with us”, is the consummate and foundational truth of the season. Scholars debate the actual date of his birth; local residents of the area of Bethlehem have a traditional site affixed; but, our primary focus; indeed, our only focus, is the reality that Jesus was, in fact, born in the flesh, God became Man for us. The Great Captain under whose banner we have all enlisted and in whose name we battle.

The reality is that over two thousand years ago, there was born in Bethlehem of Judea one who laid aside the God-head, and assumed mortal flesh; one whose glory, worth and grace no language can express, no word can quantify; one who was born that our lives might be purified, and who died and shed his sin cleansing blood that we might be free of the penalty, power and the future presence of sin. Let us, as true Soldiers of the Cross, strive to profit by the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of that Divine Master, and remain his faithful soldiers unto death.

We had a great attendance with Sir Knights, Companions, Brothers, and guests from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, and Canada. Some notable guests were the Deputy General Grand Master for the Northwest Region of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International, the Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, the Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho. It was great to see everyone.