Monday, May 31, 2010

The Regius Poem

The Halliwell Manuscript, also known as the Regius Poem, is the first known Masonic text. It consists of 64 written pages in poetic form. The poem begins by evoking Euclid and his invention of geometry in ancient Egypt and then the spreading of the art of geometry in "diverse lands." This is followed by fifteen points for the master concerning both moral behavior (do not harbor thieves, do not take bribes, attend church regularly, etc.) and the operation of work on a building site (do not make your masons lab our at night, teach apprentices properly, do not take on jobs that you cannot do, etc.). There are then fifteen points for craftsmen which follow a similar pattern.

The general consensus on the age of the document dates its writing to between the late 1300s and the middle of the 15th century, and from internal evidence, its author appears to have been a West of England clergyman. The manuscript was recorded in various personal inventories as it changed hands until it came into possession of the Royal Library, which was donated to the British Museum in 1757 by King George II to form the nucleus of the present British Library.

During this time, the document was generally described as a poem of moral duties. The significance of the document as relating to Freemasonry was not realized until it was featured in an article on Freemasonry by James Halliwell in 1840.

The text of the document states that Freemasonry was brought to England during the reign of King Athelstan from 924 to 939.

The manuscript is presently held by the British Library in the Royal Manuscript Collection, catalog reference 17 A. I.

Here is a modern text translation of the manuscript:

The Regius Manuscript
"A Poem of Moral Duties"

Here begin the constitutions of the art
of Geometry according to Euclid.

Whoever will both well read and look
He may find written in old book
Of great lords and also ladies,
That had many children together, certainly;
And had no income to keep them with,
Neither in town nor field nor enclosed wood;
A council together they could them take,
To ordain for these children's sake,
How they might best lead their life
Without great disease, care and strife;
And most for the multitude that was coming
Of their children after great clerks,
To teach them then good works;

And pray we them, for our Lord's sake.
To our children some work to make,
That they might get their living thereby,
Both well and honestly full securely.
In that time, through good geometry,
This honest craft of good masonry
Was ordained and made in this manner,
Counterfeited of these clerks together;
At these lord's prayers they counter-
feited geometry,
And gave it the name of masonry,
For the most honest craft of all.
These lords' children thereto did fall,
To learn of him the craft of geometry,
The which he made full curiously;

Through fathers' prayers and mothers' also,
This honest craft he put them to.
He learned best, and was of honesty,
And passed his fellows in curiosity,
If in that craft he did him pass,
He should have more worship than the less,
This great clerk's name was Euclid,
His name it spread full wonder wide.
Yet this great clerk ordained he
To him that was higher in this degree,
That he should teach the simplest of wit
In that honest craft to be perfect;
And so each one shall teach the other,
And love together as sister and brother.

Furthermore yet that ordained he,
Master called so should he be;
So that he were most worshiped,
Then should he be so called;
But masons should never one another call,
Within the craft amongst them all,
Neither subject nor servant, my dear brother,
Though he be not so perfect as is another;
Each shall call other fellows by friendship,
Because they come of ladies' birth.
On this manner, through good wit of geometry,
Began first the craft of masonry;
The clerk Euclid on this wise it found,
This craft of geometry in Egypt land.

In Egypt he taught it full wide,
In divers lands on every side;
Many years afterward, I understand,
Ere that the craft came into this land.
This craft came into England, as I you say,
In time of good King Athelstane's day;
He made then both hall and even bower,
And high temples of great honor,
To disport him in both day and night,
And to worship his God with all his might.
This good lord loved this craft full well,
And purposed to strengthen it every part,
For divers faults that in the craft he found;
He sent about into the land

After all the masons of the craft,
To come to him full even straight,
For to amend these defaults all
By good counsel, if it might fall.
An assembly then could let make
Of divers lords in their state,
Dukes, earls, and barons also,
Knights, squires and many more,
And the great burgesses of that city,
They were there all in their degree;
There were there each one always,
To ordain for these masons' estate,
There they sought by their wit,
How they might govern it;

Fifteen articles they there sought,
And fifteen points there they wrought,

Here begins the first article.
The first article of this geometry;-
The master mason must be full securely
Both steadfast, trusty and true,
It shall him never then rue;
And pay thy fellows after the cost,
As victuals goeth then, well thou knowest;
And pay them truly, upon thy faith,
What they may deserve;
And to their hire take no more,
But what that they may serve for;
And spare neither for love nor dread,

Of neither parties to take no bribe;
Of lord nor fellow, whoever he be,
Of them thou take no manner of fee;
And as a judge stand upright,
And then thou dost to both good right;
And truly do this wheresoever thou goest,
Thy worship, thy profit, it shall be most.

Second article.
The second article of good masonry,
As you must it here hear specially,
That every master, that is a mason,
Must be at the general congregation,
So that he it reasonably be told
Where that the assembly shall be held;

And to that assembly he must needs go,
Unless he have a reasonable excuse,
Or unless he be disobedient to that craft
Or with falsehood is overtaken,
Or else sickness hath him so strong,
That he may not come them among;
That is an excuse good and able,
To that assembly without fable.

Third article.
The third article forsooth it is,
That the master takes to no 'prentice,
Unless he have good assurance to dwell
Seven years with him, as I you tell,
His craft to learn, that is profitable;

Within less he may no be able
To lords' profit, nor to his own
As you may know by good reason.

Fourth article.
The fourth article this must be,
That the master him well besee,
That he no bondman 'prentice make,
Nor for no covetousness do him take;
For the lord that he is bound to,
May fetch the 'prentice wheresoever he go.
If in the lodge he were taken,
Much disease it might there make,
And such case it might befall,
That it might grieve some or all.

For all the masons that be there
Will stand together all together.
If such one in that craft should dwell,
Of divers disease you might tell;
For more ease then, and of honesty,
Take a 'prentice of higher degree.
By old time written I find
That the 'prentice should be of gentle kind;
And so sometime, great lords' blood
Took this geometry that is full good.

Fifth article.
The fifth article is very good,
So that the 'prentice be of lawful blood;
The master shall not, for no advantage,
Make no 'prentice that is deformed;
It is mean, as you may hear
That he have all his limbs whole all together;
To the craft it were great shame,
To make a halt man and a lame,
For an imperfect man of such blood
Should do the craft but little good.
Thus you may know every one,
The craft would have a mighty man;
A maimed man he hath no might,
You must it know long ere night.

Sixth article.
The sixth article you must not miss
That the master do the lord no prejudice,
To take the lord for his 'prentice,
As much as his fellows do, in all wise.
For in that craft they be full perfect,
So is not he, you must see it.
Also it were against good reason,
To take his hire as his fellows do.

This same article in this case,
Judgeth his prentice to take less
Than his fellows, that be full perfect.
In divers matters, know requite it,
The master may his 'prentice so inform,
That his hire may increase full soon,
And ere his term come to an end,
His hire may full well amend.

Seventh article.
The seventh article that is now here,
Full well will tell you all together,
That no master for favour nor dread,
Shall no thief neither clothe nor feed.
Thieves he shall harbour never one,
Nor him that hath killed a man,
Nor the same that hath a feeble name,
Lest it would turn the craft to shame.

Eighth article.
The eighth article sheweth you so,
That the master may it well do.
If that he have any man of craft,
And he be not so perfect as he ought,
He may him change soon anon,
And take for him a more perfect man.
Such a man through recklessness,
Might do the craft scant worship.

Ninth article.
The ninth article sheweth full well,
That the master be both wise and strong;
That he no work undertake,
Unless he can both it end and make;
And that it be to the lords' profit also,
And to his craft, wheresoever he go;
And that the ground be well taken,
That it neither flaw nor crack.

Tenth article.
The tenth article is for to know,
Among the craft, to high and low,
There shall no master supplant another,
But be together as sister and brother,
In this curious craft, all and some,
That belongeth to a master mason.
Nor shall he supplant no other man,
That hath taken a work him upon,
In pain thereof that is so strong,

That weigheth no less than ten pounds,
but if that he be guilty found,
That took first the work on hand;
For no man in masonry
Shall not supplant other securely,
But if that it be so wrought,
That in turn the work to nought;
Then may a mason that work crave,
To the lords' profit for it to save
In such a case if it do fall,
There shall no mason meddle withal.
Forsooth he that beginneth the ground,
If he be a mason good and sound,
He hath it securely in his mind
To bring the work to full good end.

Eleventh article.
The eleventh article I tell thee,
That he is both fair and free;
For he teacheth, by his might,
That no mason should work by night,
But if be in practising of wit,
If that I could amend it.

Twelfth article.
The twelfth article is of high honesty
To every mason wheresoever he be,
He shall not his fellows' work deprave,
If that he will his honesty save;
With honest words he it commend,
By the wit God did thee send;
But it amend by all that thou may,
Between you both without doubt.

Thirteenth article.
The thirteenth article, so God me save,
Is if that the master a 'prentice have,
Entirely then that he him tell,
That he the craft ably may know,
Wheresoever he go under the sun.

Fourteenth article.
The fourteenth article by good reason,
Sheweth the master how he shall do;
He shall no 'prentice to him take,
Unless diver cares he have to make,
That he may within his term,
Of him divers points may learn.

Fifteenth article.
The fifteenth article maketh an end,
For to the master he is a friend;
To teach him so, that for no man,
No false maintenance he take him upon,
Nor maintain his fellows in their sin,
For no good that he might win;
Nor no false oath suffer him to make,
For dread of their souls' sake,
Lest it would turn the craft to shame,
And himself to very much blame.

The York Rite College


Last December, I was approached with an invitation to become a member of the local York Rite College. I gladly accepted, filled out the paperwork, paid the dues, and then played the waiting game as the College would not meet until May. 

Well, the time came this past Saturday. Starting in the morning, there were 6 of us to be initiated into the college. I was chosen as the active candidate or the exemplar. Throughout my York Rite journey, there have always been 3 Companions and Sir Knights, Art Shoemaker (Right Eminent Grand Commander, Knights Templar of Idaho), David Grindle (Right Puissant General Grand Recorder, General Grand Council, Cryptic Masons International), and Ronald Berto (soon-to-be Grand Governor of Idaho) that have guided me and took major parts in my conferrals. Those 3 would again take part, either being the guide or conferring. It was an amazing time and afterward, the Governor, Tony Such, asked me to sit as the Seneschal. I gladly accepted and look forward to the service I can provide to my Brethren, Companions, Sir Knights, and Companion Knights. 

Origin of the York Rite College 

The first York Rite College was constituted on June 15, 1957, in the City of Jackson, Michigan. From here, the new organization spread rapidly from coast to coast and from north to south, and by 1970 Colleges had been established in fourteen States and one Province of Canada. Membership in a College is by invitation and is restricted to those who hold membership in all of the other York Rite bodies. Since the primary object of every College is to foster a spirit of service and to promote and support the York Rite in every way possible, it is no surprise to find many of the leaders of the Craft numbered among its ranks. Here they find a common ground from which they can act for the welfare of all York Rite bodies without special favor to any. Colleges have been active in the organization of York Rite Festivals, degree teams, drill corps, and many other functions which serve to assist, coordinate, and unify the Rite. 


The purpose of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, are as follows: 

  1. To foster a spirit of cooperation and coordination among each of the Bodies of York Rite Masonry. 
  2. To assist in worthy efforts to improve the ritualistic and dramatic presentation of York Rite's work. 
  3. To conduct an education program in order to inculcate a greater appreciation of the principles, ideals, and programs of York Rite Masonry. 
  4. To strengthen York Rite Masonry in every possible manner. 
  5. To build up a love of country and to aid and support genuine Americanism. 
  6. To reward outstanding service to York Rite Masonry by awards, honors, and other methods of proper recognition. 
  7. To support Charitable and Benevolent Endeavors of Freemasonry. 

Structure of the York Rite College 

The York Rite Sovereign College of North America is the supreme governing body for all Colleges within its jurisdiction. As such, it endeavors to promote all those activities which favor the accomplishing of its stated purpose. Among these is the awarding of certain honors for outstanding service. 

The Gold Award may be given to any Mason for unselfish and faithful service in any branch of the York Rite. The recipient need not be a member of a College, nor is it required that he be a member of all the other York Rite bodies.

The Order of the Purple Cross of York, the highest honor of the College, is conferred upon those members of the College who have distinguished themselves by their service to humanity or to the Rite, The recipients are designated Associate Regents of the Sovereign College, and from their ranks are chosen the Regents or active members of that body. 

The Sovereign College meets in General Assembly once each year, generally in late July or early August. 

Legend of York 

The York Rite takes its name from the Ancient English city of York, around whose minster, or cathedral, cluster many Masonic traditions. Here, these traditions tell us, Athelstan, who reigned more than a thousand years ago and who was the first king of all England, granted the first charter to the Masonic guilds. Here, in 1705, a Grand Lodge in London, to whose constitution the Grand Lodge of England later appealed as the true source of authentic Freemasonry. Though early disappearing from the Masonic scene, this Grand Lodge left an indelible impression upon the institution, and its name --- York --- will survive as long as Freemasonry continues. 

"This craft came into England, as I tell you, in the time of good king Athelstan's reign; he made then both hall, and also bower and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night, and to worship his God with all his might. This good lord loved this craft full well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he had discovered in the craft. He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen, He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their ranks, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the state of these nations. There they sought by their wisdom bow they might govern it; there they found out fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points."----Regius Manuscript, circa 1390----Regius Manuscript, circa 1390. 

This information on the description, history, and purpose was pulled from the YRSCNA website. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grand Masters of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon

Here is the list of the Grand Masters that commanded the famous Knights Templars. A fuller biography of each Grand Master will come later, but here are some bullet points of the more famous events that occurred during their reign.

Hugh de Payens + - 1118-1136
  • First Grand Master
  • Established Houses in England and Scotland
  • Established the Order as an influential military and financial institution
Robert de Craon - 1136-1147
  • The 2nd Crusade begins at the latter part of his rule
Everard des Barres - 1147-1149
  • Officially abdicated in 1951 and became a monk of Clairvaux
  • Ruled during 2nd Crusade
Bernard de Tremelay * - 1149-1153
  • Died in the Battle of Ascalon on August 16, 1153
  • Ruled during 2nd Crusade
André de Montbard + - 1153-1156
  • Uncle of St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Ruled during 2nd Crusade
Bertrand de Blanchefort - 1156-1169
  • Known as the "great reformer of the Order"
Phillipe de Milly - 1169-1171
  • Mysteriously resigned in 1171 as Grand Master
Odo de St Amand * - 1171-1179
  • Won the Battle of Montgisard
Arnold of Torroja - 1181-1184
  • Knights Hospitallers reach a new peak in influence
Gerard de Ridefort * - 1185-1189
  • Killed during the Seige of Acre on October 1, 1189
  • Saw the start of the 3rd Crusade
Robert de Sablé - 1191-1193
  • Lord of Cyprus - 1191-1192
  • Elections were postponed for over a year until he joined the Templar Order
  • Ruled during the 3rd Crusade
Gilbert Horal - 1193-1200
  • Tension increased between the Hospitallers
  • Organized and consolidated the Templar possessions in France and Apulia
Phillipe de Plessis - 1201-1208
  • Helped uphold the treaty between Saladin and Richard I
  • Relations with the Hospitallers is tense
  • The rule of the Order of the Temple reached its height in Europe
  • 4th Crusade occurred during his reign
Guillaume de Chartres - 1209-1219
  • Assisted in the coronation of Jean de Brienne, King of Jerusalem.
  • The Order flourished in Spain during this rule
  • Ruled during half of the first half of the 5th Crusade
Pedro de Montaigu - 1218-1232
  • The relationship between the Hospitallers eased; Hospitallers were led by Guerin de Montaigu
  • An effective battlefield leader; Siege of Damietta.
  • Saw the 2nd half of the 5th Crusade as well as the 6th Crusade
Armand de Périgord * - 1232-1244
  • Descendant of a previous Grand Master (unknown though)
  • Many of his attacks failed and reduced the effectiveness of the Order
  • Made a treaty with the Sultan of Damascus
  • Defeated during the Battle of La Forbie against the Sultan of Egypt in 1244, but believed to have survived until 1247
Richard de Bures - 1244-1247
  • Unsure if actually was elected to be Grand Master or just acted during the captivity of Armand de Périgord
Guillaume de Sonnac * - 1247-1250
  • His tenure was considered a violent one
  • Along with the French King and his army seized Damietta; the beginning of the 7th Crusade
  • Miraculously escaped after the defeat during the Battle of Mansurah
  • Was killed during the Battle of Fariskur
  • Was known as a chronicler; created most in-depth, codified records
Renaud de Vichiers - 1250-1256
  • Ruled during the latter part of the 7th Crusade
Thomas Bérard - 1256-1273
  • Initiated cooperation between two other military orders: Knights Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights
  • Grand Master during the 8th and 9th Crusade
Guillaume de Beaujeu * - 1273-1291
  • Died during the Siege of Acre
Thibaud Gaudin - 1291-1292
  • Known as a man of great piety
  • Attempted to reorganize the Order
Jacques de Molay * - 1292-1314
  • The last Grand Master
  • Met with Western leaders to gain support for another Crusade
  • Reigned during the arrest and inquisition of the Templars by King Phillip of France and Pope Clement V
  • Burned at the stake on the Isle de Juifs, a small island on the Seine river
* - Killed in Action
+ - Founding member

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

York Rite Freemasonry


The York Rite is a branch of the Freemasons. It composed of 3 bodies: a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, a Council of Cryptics Masons, and a Commandery of Knights Templar (Chivalric Orders). Royal Arch Masonry consists of the following degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch. Cryptic Masonry consists of Royal Master and Select Master; some jurisdictions also confer the Super Excellent Master degree, but not all. The Chivalric Orders consist of: The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, The Order of Malta, and the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple (Knights Templar). 

A proficient Master Mason in good standing can join the York Rite. You must be of Christian faith to go through the Chivalric Orders, but don't have to be to go through the Royal Arch and Cryptic Masons. 

The York Rite answers many questions from the Blue Lodge (Craft Masonry). The Royal Arch degrees take place before and after the 3rd degree. The Cryptic degrees take place before the Royal Arch degree and after the 3rd degree. The Order of the Red Cross is the first order conferred and dramatizes the freeing of the Jewish captives from Babylon. The Order of Malta is where the first requirement of the member to be Christian is observed, this order traces the history of the Knights Hospitaller.

 And finally, the crowning glory of the York Rite is the Order of the Temple. Said to be "a very impressive and solemn experience in Masonry". It truly is a beautiful ceremony and from my experience, I agree wholeheartedly with the saying that "every Christian Mason should be a Knight Templar". 

After you have been initiated through all the degrees and orders of the York Rite, there are also many invitational and honorary appendant bodies. They are strictly invitation-only, have specific prerequisites that must be met before you can even be considered, and some have membership limits. These appendant bodies are Order of the High Priesthood, Order of the Silver Trowel, Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor, Allied Masonic Degrees, Council of Knight Masons, Sovereign York Rite College of North America, Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (Rosicrucian Society), the Royal Order of Scotland, Red Cross of Constantine, Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, and the Grand College of Rite, USA. 


True to all 3-bodies of the York Rite, there is a local body, Grand body, and International body. For the Royal Arch, there is the Chapter, Grand Chapter, and General Grand Chapter. The leaders of each of these levels respectively are High Priest, Grand High Priest, and General Grand High Priest. For the Cryptic Masons, there is the Council, Grand Council, and General Grand Council. The leaders for each of these levels respectively are Illustrious Master, Illustrious Grand Master, and the Most Puissant General Grand Master. For the Knights Templar, there is the Commandery, Grand Commandery, and the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, USA. The leaders for each of these levels respectively are Eminent Commander, Right Eminent Grand Commander, and the Most Eminent Grand Master. 


There are 3 main charities that are supported by the York Rite: Royal Arch Research Assistance (RARA), Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation (CMMRF), and Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF). 

The RARA helps support the research into Central Auditory Processing Disorders. The primary recipient is the Able Kids Foundation which leads the way into CAPD research. Research is showing that children with CAPD often develop ADD.

The CMMRF helps advance the research into Atherosclerosis and Vascular Biology. The primary recipient of the donations is the Indiana Center Vascular Biology and Medicine (ICVBM) located at the University of Indiana. One of the most notable patents that have come from this research is the "Closer". The vascular Closer is a device that is used over 500,000 times a year. 

The KTEF aids those who need help in the preservation of sight. It both assists those who need help paying for their eye surgeries as well as donating to optical research. Since its inception, it has spent more than $89,000,000 benefiting more than 75,000 people. It has also donated over $8,000,000 for research purposes.

Whew! Quite the read. I'll leave it at that.