Saturday, April 28, 2012

2 Years Old!!

Well, the blog is 2-years old! I can't believe it. I started this blog a few weeks after the Grand York Rite Sessions in 2010 and between my travels with Masonry and the military, I have accumulated many miles, met some great Brothers, learned quite a bit, and have hopefully spread some Light.

We just finished with this year's Grand York Rite Sessions and the Boise York Rite Spring Festival and now I'm down to the final weeks of my first semester back in college.

I'm also excited to announce that I am working on a book that will cover the York Rite in America. This will be an endeavor that I plan on taking some time to complete so I can do it some justice. The book will cover a brief history of the York Rite degrees and orders as well as some of the symbols, duties, and charges contained therein.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Rose

Of all the flowers, the rose is a singular example of a natural form that has been included in the symbolism of many cultures, spiritual traditions and folklore throughout the centuries.
- Linda Iles

Throughout its history, the rose has caught the imagination of the masses. This flower has been used as a symbol in a variety of forms, from one of romance to duality (celestial perfection and Earthly passion), to wisdom, and many more, by various groups, cultures, and individuals. As it is such a complex symbol let's take a look at some of the uses and by whom.

According to Merriam-Webster, a rose is "of usually prickly shrubs with pinnate leaves and showy flowers having five petals in the wild state". From Greek mythology:
The rose was created by Chloris, the Goddess of flowers. One day she found the lifeless body of a nymph in the woods and turned her into a flower. Chloris called upon Aphrodite who gave the flower beauty and Dionysus who added nectar to give it a sweet fragrance. Zephyrus, God of the West Wind, blew the clouds away so Apollo could shine and make the flower bloom.
As the rose, from culture to culture, may vary in symbolic meaning, so too within a single culture can the color of the rose change the interpretation and representation. Some of the most common rose colors are (with common meanings): 
Red: Martyrdom, Love, Passion, Immortality, Memorial, Courage/Fortitude, Fervency, Zeal
Pink: First love, Admiration, Motherly Love 
White: Light, Purity, Joy, Sanctity, Silence, Prayer, Secrecy, Innocence, Loyalty, Humility, Balance
Yellow: Joy, Constancy, Mature love, Platonic Love 
Blue: Mystery, Loyalty, Unattainable
Purple: Love at first sight, Enchantment, Magical, Royalty
From time immemorial the rose has been primarily a symbol of love and beauty. Also, it was considered to be a sacred symbol tied to many different faiths as a symbol of the gods and goddesses. To the Roman and the Greeks, the rose was a sacred symbol of the goddess of love, Aphrodite or Venus. In Egypt, the rose was associated with the goddess Isis.

The rose can also emblematically represent secrecy, and we see the phrase "sub rosa" which is Latin for "under the rose" used to denote secrecy or confidentiality. When assembled, if it was to be understood that anything said in the meeting was to never be repeated elsewhere, the Romans would hang roses from, or paint them on, the ceiling above the table - "sub rosa". The use of the rose as a symbol for secrecy goes back to ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, where the rose was also a symbol for the god Horus (son of Isis). Although Horus was the sky god, represented by a man with a falcon for the head, he was sometimes represented as a child. In Egyptian artwork, the child was often represented by a naked child with his finger on his mouth as if sucking on it, to denote youth, but the Greeks misunderstood this gesture to mean "secrecy". The Greek's translated the name of Horus to which they now have the Harpocrates, the god of silence. It was adapted in Greek lore that Aphrodite gave her son, Eros (or Cupid), a rose. He in turn gave this rose to Harpocrates, god of silence, as a bribe to make sure that the indiscretions of the gods and goddesses were kept "under wraps", concealed. Harpocrates was often represented as a chubby infant with a finger to his mouth.

A rose can also symbolize the rising Sun in the East, resurrection, or rejuvenation. To the Egyptians, Horus represented, among many things, the rising Sun bringing the new day. For Christians, this symbolic representation can be seen in Jesus Christ, the Blessed Redeemer, the Morning Star.

Keeping with Christianity, the rose is associated with the Virgin Mary as well as the martyrdom, passion/charity, and resurrection of Christ. The red rose, specifically, is symbolic of the blood of Jesus as it is said that a rose bush grew from the site of Christ's death. With the rose's beauty, it is also contrasted its thorns, we're also reminded of the Crown of Thorns the Savior wore, and thus we see the rose become the ultimate symbol of Christ's sacrifice. With a 5-petaled rose, we also see the symbolism of the passions of the Blessed Redeemer and the wounds he suffered upon the cross.

In Islam, the rose signifies the blood of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed and his two sons. A white rose appears as a symbol of purity and martyrdom, of the straight path and the paradise that awaits those martyred in the cause of God in Islamic culture. The red rose was also considered a symbol of martyrdom, but particularly signified a violent struggle more broadly than the white rose.

In Masonry, there is a great deal of use of the rose in our ceremonies and rituals as it is a very appealing symbol. In Albert Pike's "Morals & Dogma":
The rose was anciently sacred to Aurora and the Sun. It is a symbol of Dawn, of the resurrection of Light and the renewal of life, and therefore of the dawn of the first day, and more particularly of the resurrection: and the Cross and Rose together are therefore hieroglyphically to be read, the Dawn of Eternal Life which all Nations have hoped for by the advent of a Redeemer.
In the Scottish Rite, the rose has special connections to some of the degrees. In the 4°, one of the virtues espoused is silence whereby we are reminded of the white rose. In the 18° which is referred to as the Knight Rose Croix (Rose Cross or Red Cross) where the cross used is one that all 4 limbs are the same size to denote balance.

Rex Hutchens, 33°, states:
In Masonry, the rose has taken on the meaning of immortality. Surely the idea of immortality is as old as rational man. The Neanderthals buried their dead with their possessions, possibly believing that the deceased would still have need of them. The most ancient mythologies speak of men made gods, to dwell forever in the heavens. Immortality is the quintessential hope of all mankind. For many it is the very source of virtue, for others only an absurd superstition; therefore, Masonry teaches only the hope of Immortality, but still the literature of the Craft abounds with the expression of the soul's immortality and time has forged it into a creed, if not a doctrine.
Russell Boedeker, 32° KCCH, in his paper "Scottish Chemistry" states:
One of the most used symbols in alchemical art was the rose. The rose is a symbol of completion, attainment, and perfection. It can also be an emblem of regeneration. The original symbol of the Rosicrucian fraternity was a hieroglyphic rose crucified upon a cross. The cross was often raised on a three step pedestal, representative of the crucifixion. In the 10th degree there is a rose above three arches, this may be symbolizing a form of the crucifixion
As we've seen the rose has reached throughout the realms of time to touch the global culture.

What does the rose mean to you?


1. Alvanou, M. (n.d.). Symbolisms of basic islamic imagery in jihadi propaganda. Retrieved from ITSTIME:

2. Harpocrates. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

3. Hutchens, R. (1988). A Bridge to Light. The Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

4. Modern Day Knights Templar: the Masons. (n.d.). Retrieved from Knights Templar: History & Mystery:

5. Nuraishah. (n.d.). Significance of the Rose. Retrieved from Flower Advisor:

6. Pike, A. (1871). Morals & Dogma. Charleston.

7. Quinion, M. (n.d.). Under the Rose. Retrieved from World Wide Words:

8. Rose in Alchemy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wisdom Portal:

9. Rose Meaning and Symbolism. (n.d.). Retrieved from What's Your Sign:

10. Scottish Chemistry. (n.d.). Retrieved from Pietre Stones: Review of Freemasonry:

11. Sedir, P., & Vaughan, P. A. (2006). History & Doctrines of the Rose-Croix. Retrieved from Martinist Order of Unknown Philosophers:

12. Sub Rosa. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

13. Symbolism and Colors of the Rose. (n.d.). Retrieved from

14. Timoleon, P. (2010, April 9). Flowers in Greek Mythology. Retrieved from Ancient Worlds:

Allied Masonic Degrees

The Allied Masonic Degrees is an invitational body within the York Rite that is dedicated to Masonic Research.
The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees which, many years ago, were conferred under Craft Warrants and formed a part of the loosely governed Freemasonry which afterward eliminated all save the three Craft degrees and the Royal Arch. 

The Allied Masonic Degrees are an invitational organization and it requires membership in the Royal Arch as well as the Symbolic Lodge. Membership is limited to 27 members per council.  

Be it remembered that on August 5, 1933, this Grand Council took as its date of formation January 14, 1892, since this date was the beginning of the Allied Masonic Degrees in America with the formation of the Sovereign College of Allied Masonic and Christian Degrees at Richmond, Virginia, that on April 16, 1932, the subsequent establishment of a Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America occurred in Salisbury, North Carolina, and that the union of the two bodies was drawn up and entered into July 18, 1933, and was ratified by the North Carolina Grand Council August 5, 1933, and was ratified by the Sovereign College at Norway, Maine August 24, 1933, and became effective as of September 7, 1933.  

The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees some of which, many years ago, were conferred under Craft warrants and formed part of the then loosely governed Freemasonry of the period.  

Many of these detached degrees became dormant in some places, although in others they were conferred as side degrees. In time, the better of these degrees were grouped together in an organized body under the title of Allied Masonic Degrees. The degrees comprising the system in our Jurisdiction in the U.S.A. are the Royal Ark Mariner, Secret Monitor, Knight of Constantinople, Saint Lawrence the Martyr, Architect, Superintendent, Grand Tilers of Solomon, Master of Tyre, Excellent Master, Installed Sovereign Master, Installed Commander Noah, Red Branch of Eri and Ye Ancient Order of Corks. They are conferred in the United States in Councils chartered by the Grand Council. Each Council is limited to twenty-seven members, with two exceptions. One of these Councils is known as the Council of the Nine Muses and is limited to nine members. The other is Grand Masters Council, which has what is known as a roving charter. The purpose of the latter Council is to provide a place of membership in the Allied Masonic Degrees for brethren residing in localities where Councils have not been organized. Membership in every Council of Allied Masonic Degrees is by invitation and is predicated on membership in the Royal Arch Chapter.  

In addition to perpetuating these degrees, there is still another and equally important purpose. It is to bring together, in small groups, Freemasons who are interested in the advancement of all Masonry, preparing themselves to better serve the Craft through the medium of study and research. By limiting the membership in a Council and securing membership only by invitation, a result is a congenial group able to enjoy full fellowship when meeting together. Wherever there is an active Council of Allied Masonic Degrees, it exerts an influence for the betterment of Freemasonry in all the Masonic Bodies.  

There is no intention on the part of the Allied Masonic Degrees to detract from any organized and established body of Masonry. On the contrary, you will find our members active, beyond the average, in all local Masonic bodies. The real purpose is to stimulate interest in Masonry in general and bring together in small groups those who are interested in the study of Masonic subjects. Thus they are better enabled to serve the Craft.  


The Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America confers the following grades:

Royal Ark Mariner

Evidence of the Grade of Royal Ark Mariner appears in Masonic records at a very early date and the very abundance of data is to be considered as detrimental, rather than helpful. To even approximate the earliest working of the Grade is impossible and legend of such a working must suffice at this time.       

In his Constitutions of 1733, Dr. James Anderson mentioned that we should all conduct ourselves as sons of Noah (or Noachidæ). There are many who assume that this is a reference to an Ark ceremony, but this study is neutral. It is possible, though hardly probable; the question depends upon what might be termed the date of the speculative Grades.       

Further, in some quarters it is a more or less accepted theory that the Ark and Anchor with which we are so familiar in the Craft are but indications of an ancient Ark ceremony of yesteryears. It is assumed that an ancient Grade relating to the Deluge was discontinued and the symbols thereof incorporated into the lectures of the Craft. This theory, likewise, is possible, but the present study does not either accept or deny the possibility of such a theory.       

On page 108, Vol. VI, A.Q.C., Bro. W. J. Hughan mentions two very old brasses of the "Ancient Stirling Lodge," of Scotland. At the top of one of the brasses appears a crude Ark and Dove, under which is "Redd Cros or Ark;" below this drawing are other drawings, illustrating "Knights of Malta" and "Night Templer," and probably the Royal Arch. While these brasses have been assigned a date as early as the seventeenth century, Bro. Hughan does not concur therein; he suggests that they are mid-eighteenth century, which appears more reasonable. Thus, without dates, some evidence is indicated of an early working of the Ark ceremony. The mention of the Ark Grade in intimate connection with the old Red Cross appears to have been quite usual in the eighteenth century.       

On a certificate issued from "the High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Knights of the Red Cross and Noachidas," held under the sanction of Lodge No. 271 (Irish Constitution), is "dated in Limerick 27th February 1790, and of the Order of the Red Cross, 2326°."       

In the "History and Description of the Town and Borough of Ipswich," G. R. Clarke, 1830, we find (pages 116-117) a paragraph quoted under the date of 17th of June 1790. It states in part: "…a person of the name of Noah Sibley, a man of some parts and oratory, established a club or society, at a house in St. Clement’s, purporting to be a particular branch of Freemasonry, called the Good Samaritan, or the Ark Masons … their public exhibitions were attended with much ceremony in their various processions through the different streets of the town, when a model of Noah’s Ark and a variety of insignia and banners were displayed."       

Another early reference to the Grade is found in the "Freemason’s Magazine," for 1794 (vol. iii, p. 147): "Aug. 16, Being the birthday of his Royal Highness the Duke of York, it was celebrated with all the honors of Masonry by the Order of Knights Templars resident at London, united with the Society of Antient Masons of the Diluvian Order, or Royal Ark and Mark Mariners, assembled at the Surry Tavern in the Strand, by a summons from Thomas Dunckerley, Esq., Grand Master and Grand Commander of those United Orders."       There are also early references in America, but these we omit.       

The Grade of Royal Ark Mariner is today worked under two authorities, other than in this country: (1) In Scotland the Grade is worked in a Lodge attached to a Royal Arch Chapter under control of Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter, and (2) in England it is worked in a Lodge, attached to a Mark Lodge, and under the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, of that country.       

The Ritual of the Grade used by the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America, is the same as that worked today in Scotland. The legend is of the Deluge and it is both beautiful and instructive. There is one other variation, peculiar to the defunct Grand Sovereign College, and thus to the "Time Immemorial" Councils. It is referred to loosely as the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner, or more accurately, by its members, as the Degree of Ark and Dove. It is a corruption of the English variant of the Grade, with numerous modifications and additions, including an oath of temperance toward alcohol. It could be conferred upon any Master Mason, thereby displaying a further deviation from the English variant. By the terms of Union between the Grand Council and Grand Sovereign College, the latter’s councils retained the right to confer this variation. This Degree was thus propagated and abused, the Josiah Drummond Council, No. 1 going so far as to invite in any Master Mason and confer the Degree upon him with any regards to petitioning or investigating the individual elevated. This abuse only ceased with the disbanding of the council in 1998. The remaining "Time Immemorial" councils have chosen to exemplify the Scottish Ritual of the Grand Council. Seven councils of the Grand Council still maintain the right of conferring the Grade upon any Royal Arch Mason, by virtue of holding separate Charters of Royal Ark Mariner Lodges. All other councils are considered to have a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge moored to their respective councils and may confer the Grade only upon members of the Allied Masonic Degrees.

Secret Monitor
Brotherhood of David and Jonathon

As early as 1778 there was a society in Holland known as the Order of Jonathan and David, which probably furnished the germ for the origin of the American Grade now known as the Secret Monitor. In his "Catalogue," Kloss gives the title of a book published in 1778 in Amsterdam, which gives the statutes and formula of reception of the early Dutch society. This Dutch society became Masonic, no doubt, as there is mention of it in connection with Freemasonry in that country at a date just later than the above mentioned. On page 162, Vol. V, A.Q.C., there is, in addition to the other Dutch Masonic data, the following statement: "From the foregoing documents it is not possible to determine whence they issued or derived their authority. The names, however, of De La Garde, Bergh, Dalmencourt, De Consalvin, are to be found on old documents and certificates issued by a Chapter named ‘Jesus,’ and another called ‘Jonathan and David,’ of Avignon, France, in 1778.       

"The Bro. Bolt who was thus authorized to erect Chapters of the Rosy Cross, was also empowered to constitute Chapters of the United Orders of Jonathan and David, and Jesus Christ, by a document of which the following is a part.       

"Les Grand-Maitres plènipotentairees des ordres, fraternels et confèderès de Jonathan et David et Jesus Christ, au nom et sous l’auspice et la tolèrance mysterieuse de Sa Saintetè, Pius Pontife Sourverain! Magistre Suprème at Oecumenique! Serviteurs de Dieu! par la clemence divine …"

The birth of the Masonic Grade of Secret Monitor appears to have occurred in the United States, where it was worked for many years under various titles – "Brotherly Love," "Jonathan and David," and finally "Secret Monitor." Its first appearance seems to have been in 1850, in which there is clear mention of the Grade.       

The Grade was one of the many so-called "side degrees" which were worked throughout America during the last half of the nineteenth century. It was usually conferred – by communication – by one Mason upon another, without fee and no record is made of the event. Too, many Lectures conferred the Grade and thus it spread into most of the States.       

Sometime near the close of the nineteenth century, Dr. Issachar Zacharie carried the Grade from America over to England. There, a Body was created to administer over the Grade, termed a Supreme Council. The Grade was rearranged into three ceremonies: (1) That of Induction, (2) The Assembly of Princes, and (3) The Installation of a Supreme Ruler.       

Early records of the working of the Grade are scarce in this country, due to the fact that it was worked as a "side degree" and no Minutes were kept. However, in Scotland, the Early Grand Rite secured a version of this American Grade and incorporated it into their multifarious System. It there formed the Sixteenth Degree and was worked under the title "Order of Brotherly Love." A copy of the Ritual of that Rite (dated 1890), in the Archives of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America, shows a very weak and insignificant Ritual-ceremony, hardly worthy of consideration.       

The Ritual used by the Grand Council in this country was an original text, which was used here in 1896. It is a very instructive ceremony and based, for the most part, upon the love, which we are taught, existed between Jonathan and David. It teaches a beautiful lesson in friendship and fidelity. However, in 2000, Grand Council substituted the English ritual, which includes the ceremony of Installed Supreme Ruler, so that the councils practicing the Secret Monitor might conform and be recognized by their English counterparts, which are a separate body from the English Allied Masonic Degrees.       

The Jewel of the Grade originally was a hackle surmounted by a crown, in gold. This was worn suspended from a ribbon, black in the center, bordered on either side with white, the ribbon being surmounted by a gold bow. It is now that used by the English body, which is two interlaced triangles, superimposed upon three arrows, and containing the letters "D" and "J," in gold.

Installed Supreme Ruler

In the American Councils, the Degree is rarely exemplified. However, it has become more important with the mutual recognition of European and Canadian Secret Monitor Conclaves. The Degree recalls the consecration of King David.

The Jewel of the Grade originally was a hackle surmounted by a crown, in gold. This was worn suspended from a ribbon, black in the center, bordered on either side with white, the ribbon being surmounted by a gold bow. It is now that used by the English body, which is two interlaced triangles, superimposed upon three arrows, and containing the letters "D" and "J," in gold. The Jewel is worn suspended from the throat by an orange ribbon bordered by Medici blue.

St. Lawrence the Martyr

The actual date when this ritual was introduced is not known, but is believed to have been worked in England over two centuries ago. It has been generally accepted that the degree is remnants of an old operative ceremony originating from Lancashire and designed to distinguish true craftsmen from speculative masons. While the degree has little Masonic connection to the Hiramic legend, its interesting legend relates to the martyrdom of St. Lawrence who was afterward canonized for his fidelity and Christian attributes. However, little of an authentic nature can be said regarding this. Records of the Grade anywhere are extremely rare, and no real early Minute has appeared to shed light on its origins. If this Grade was actually worked in Lancashire, which was near to Grand Lodge activity, it does seem that records would be available and something a bit more definite obtainable. The main lesson of the degree is fortitude.       

The ceremony relates neither to the First or Second Temple nor to Masonic Chivalry. It is interesting in its simplicity and has a little-heard-of legend, which is pleasing to examine and of merit. The very peculiarity of the Grade marks it different and is perhaps the ground upon which the operative origin is claimed.       

The actual figure of St. Lawrence is a shadowy figure of the early Roman church. It has been said of the traditional stories about St. Lawrence that they portray, not the man, but the ‘typical figure of a martyr’. It is known that he was one of the seven deacons of Rome and that he was martyred there four days after Pope Sixtus II (also canonized) in 258 AD. He was allegedly buried in the cemetery on the road to Tivoli, where the church of St. Lawrence-outside-the-Walls now stands. Traditional legend claims his martyrdom was being put to death by being roasted on a grid. It is more likely that in fact he was beheaded, as St. Sixtus was. Scholars are not wholly in agreement about how much credence can be given to such particulars about St. Lawrence as are given by St. Ambrose, the poet Prudentius, and others. His veneration dates from the fourth century, and he was considered one of the most famous martyrs of the city of Rome. With St. Sixtus, he is named in the canon of the Roman Mass. His feast day is 10 August. His emblem is a gridiron.       

This Grade is the administrative Degree that English and European Councils work in when transacting and conducting business. It is the only Grade of these councils that also has a chair Degree, that of Installed Worshipful Master. New members receive this Grade upon reception into an Allied Masonic Degree council, generally along with the Degrees of Knight of Constantinople and Grand Tiler of Solomon. Miniature jewels for the various Degrees are worn on the left breast, a miniature jewel being added for each additional Degree. While a member may not receive all the Grades of the Allied Masonic Degrees, he must be in possession of the Grade of St. Lawrence the Martyr in order to be seated in the Council meetings.       

In the American Councils, the Degree is not as often exemplified as the other AMD Degrees. With the mutual recognition of the various Grand Councils in the United States and Europe, this Degree becomes much more important as does the Degree of Installed Worshipful Master.  

The Jewel of the Grade is a silver gridiron, suspended from a ribbon, orange in the center and royal blue on either side. The Jewel of a Past Master is a silver gridiron enclosed in a silver circle.

Grand Tilers of Solomon

This interesting Grade was formerly known under the titles of "Mason Elect of the Twenty-Seven" or "Select Mason of the 27," and is found in many different countries, although records are by no means abundant. There can be little doubt that this Grade and the Grade of "Select Master" owe their origin to a common source. In his Masonic Orations, published in 1803, Frederick Dalcho mentions that in addition to the regular degrees and among those mentioned is "Select Master of 27." Elsewhere there is mention of "Select Mason of the 27" indicating that the Grade which we now work as "Grand Tiler of Solomon" is or very close resemblance to the present-day "Select Master."       

Early evidence of the Grade is contained in History of the Cryptic Rite, where is reproduced a diploma issued by Moses Cohn to Abraham Jacobs, dated November 9th, 1790, which in addition to some of the regular Grades of the Rite of Perfection, mentions the "Select Mason of Twenty-Seven." There are also other references to such a Grade at an early date.       

The Jamaica Ritual, purporting to have been used by Morin in the West Indies in the eighteenth century, is yet available for study and indicates a close adherence to the present working of the Allied Grade, while at the same time it indicates a direct line to the Select Master. However, following the trend of thought here introduced, the origin of the one Grade would be the birth of the other, and the two Grades, while somewhat different today, indicated formerly one Grade. The Allied Grade merely holds to older working and has not been amplified and changed by too many hands. It appears to be old work.       

Thus, it is evident that the Grade is an American product and these records are the earliest yet found of its working. The Ritual now used is identical in both the United States and England, and is a product of late 19th century American ritualists. The Grade was conferred on the Earl of Euston, the Grand Master of Allied Masonic Degrees in England, in 1893 and accordingly, it was incorporated under that Grand Council. The Ritual is of deep interest to those who really understand early Ritual and the environs in which it was created. Many lessons may be found in simple and easily explained ceremonies of this period.       

The Jewel of the Grade is a black delta, edged with gold, pointed downward, containing in the center "27" in Hebrew characters. On the reverse appears the Tetragrammaton in the Kabbalistic Order. The Jewel is suspended from a scarlet ribbon, edged with pale gray, on which is a hand grasping a sword and surmounted by three crowns.

Knights of Constantinople

This Degree is an authentic ‘side degree’, where it was customary for one brother to confer it on another and while it is known to have been working in the United States in 1831, its actual origin is unknown. The ritual attempts to connect the legendary Constantine with the Masonic fraternity and teaches a fine lesson in universal equality and humility; it also incorporates a suggestion of operative influence in an extensive lecture that also imbues the lesson of justice.       

In 1865, Major F. G. Irwin introduced this Grade to several English brethren in Devonport, England. Amongst those who received the ceremony at that time was Brother W. J. Hughan, the noted Masonic writer. Hughan states that Brother Irwin received the Grade in Malta and organized it in Devonport and Plymouth, in both of which places it was worked many years after the England Grand Council A.M.D., was formed. In the United States, organized records are available as early as January 14, 1892.       

There is a bare possibility that the Knight of Constantinople is traceable, in legend, to the same source as, or directly from, the Red Cross of Constantine. This is stated in face of the fact that the two Grades have nothing in common save the characters found in each. Yet, it appears likely that knowledge of these two characters in a Masonic setting would be necessary for the invention of the Knight of Constantinople.       

As stated earlier, the Ritual of this Grade teaches a beautiful lesson in humility and should be carefully studied by every Brother of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Ritual used is identical in the United States and England.       

The Jewel of the Grade is a Maltese Cross, surmounted by a Crescent, in gold, suspended from a green ribbon, on which are three poniards, in gold. This jewel, like the others, is to be worn as a breast jewel.


The Grade of Architect is the first of a trilogy of Grades expanding upon the Solomonic lessons of architecture. The structure of the degree is Continental in character, resembling certain Rites of the French and German grades, but incorporating the use of trestle-boards as used in English and Scottish Masonry. Not surprisingly, it is first found attached to the Early Grand Rite of Scotland under the same name, as the VII° of the Blue Series. It is noteworthy in its interpretations as "extensions" or elaboration of the Master Mason degree. For this reason, it is assumed, it is not practiced or sanctioned by the English Masonic bodies, appearing only in the American and French variants of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Grade was attached to the Grand Council of the AMD of the United States as an Active Grade in 1934.       

The actual degree itself is rather short, with the work resembling that performed in Craft Masonry. The lecture or explanation, however, takes the form of catechism between the principal officers. The ritual is also punctuated with excessive circumambulations and floor-work, which if followed verbatim as prescribed by ritual would make the Grade most unworkable. The use of extensive paraphernalia and properties also mark this Grade with the affinities exhibited by many of the early Rites, which required large auditorium settings with elaborate backdrops. This places it at a disadvantage, as an exemplification of the work requires greater amounts of preparation and staging.       

The Jewel of the Grade is a flaming star, containing the letter "G," all of which is within a triangle, in gold.

Grand Architect

The Grade of Grand Architect is a continuous sequence of the Architect Grade. It is found first in the Early Grand Rite of Scotland under the same name, as the VIII° of the Blue Series. It is a continuation of the Solomonic legends of architecture, which seek to impose the ideal of an increasingly select and secretive body of craftsmen performing work upon the Solomonic Temple. It is now only practiced in the American and French Grand Councils of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Grade was attached as an Active Grade to the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States in 1934.       

This degree is similar in concept and practice to its companion Grade, that of Architect, sharing the same flaws. It is actually even more cumbersome in the execution of its floor-work and requires equally extensive paraphernalia and properties. The Grade is therefore seldom worked, as for the candidate to fully appreciate the Grade; it should be exemplified at the same time as the Grades of Architect and Superintendent.       

The Jewel of the Grade is a double triangle, formed a pair of compasses and a level.


The Grade of Superintendent is somewhat of an enigma. It is clearly related to the Grades of Architect and Grand Architect, indeed, it is the climax of the latter, but was not one of the Grades of the Early Grand Rite of Scotland. Research into that body has failed to establish any connection, the IX° of that Rite’s Blue Series was worked as "Master of the Blue," and pertained to one of the tests of wisdom between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Neither is it found under the Rite’s Red, Black, Green, or White Series; where it would be most inappropriate in any case. Thus we are left with the frustrating mystery of a Grade that appears to be a ne plus ultra in the Solomonic architecture. Whatever the case may be, it is a fitting tribute to the other Grades, and rightly deserves a place in the Allied Masonic Degrees.       

Being of similar character and style as the Grades of Architect and Grand Architect, it also shares the flaws of those two Grades. The ritual would take several hours to confer if all signs, circumambulations, and raps were observed. The properties required are also more extensive and elaborate. For those Brethren who have the fortune of witnessing the work, however, it will be appreciated that the preparations are well worth the results.       

The Jewel of the Grade is a Triangle.

Master of Tyre

The Grade of Master of Tyre is a modern one, originating in North Carolina, USA, and is no doubt the product of the fertile minds of the Masonic brethren in the western area of that state; they being the originators of the Allied Masonic Degrees themselves. It does not appear in any of the early rituals of that body and was later incorporated into the working along with the Grades of Superintendent, Architect, and Grand Architect.       

It was worked initially under the title "Masons of Tyre," with the idea being to function as a separate body of Freemasonry, the initial qualifications of membership requiring only good standing in the Craft. The organization was to operate under the direction of a Supreme Quarry, whose function was only to coordinate and charter new Quarries of the body. Problems arose with the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, which viewed the body as an alternate Masonic organization that encroached on the sovereignty of the Grand Lodges jurisdiction. To avoid any further dissension, the organization placed itself under the government of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States.       

The degree is somewhat awkward, being set around long lectures, which detract somewhat from the central lesson of the degree. The emphasis on the Tyrian connection of Masonry, however, makes it unique from the perspective of the majority of Masonic degrees. The main lesson taught is duty.  

The Jewel of the Grade is a Square and Compasses, containing in the center a crown, and at the tips of the Compasses and the apex of the Square three interlaced triangles containing the letters "M," "O," and "T," suspended from a purple ribbon.

Excellent Master

The Grade of Excellent Master, or Excellent Mason as it was known in its earlier working, is of such age as to confuse us in estimating just how old it is. It is almost safe to state that it is as old as is Royal Arch Masonry because it has always formed a part thereof. Even in the United States, it is mentioned as early as 1769 when in St. Andrew’s Chapter, Boston, a Brother was "made by receiving the four steps, that of an Excellt., Sup.-Excellt., Royll. Arch and Kt. Templar."       

Until the first quarter of the 20th Century, the Excellent was never worded alone; it was always with the Super Excellent and Royal Arch. Later, when this most beautiful method of work was abandoned almost everywhere, the title was changed to "Excellent Master," the ritual reworked and in Scotland was placed as the immediate predicant of the Royal Arch. It is not worked elsewhere today, save in the Allied Councils of the United States. Ireland has preserved some of both the Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master in her veil-working in the Royal Arch, but the formal ceremonies are a thing of the past.       

The origin of the American Royal Arch did not cause a wide swept discontinuance of the older form of working. The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia used the old form and even chartered Chapters as "Excellent Super Excellent" well into the 19th Century. The very abundance of early records and Minutes makes unnecessary its transcription as we are all familiar with the antiquity of the Excellent Master and its significance to Royal Arch Masonry.       

The Ritual used in the United States is the Scottish work, unchanged. It is a beautiful ceremony, and almost necessary to the Royal Arch. Having passed the three veils in Babylon, there is a necessity at Jerusalem only to enter the fourth, or White, Veil. It is a simple and beautiful method of working.       

The Jewel of the Grade is the Pentagram, in gold, suspended from a scarlet ribbon.

Installed Sovereign Master

The Chair Degree for the presiding officer of a Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America. The Degree is usually conferred on the newly elected Sovereign Master by the Council’s Past Sovereign Masters at the close of Council meeting of the Sovereign Master’s election, though some Councils have a separate, formal installation. The Degree relates to part of the Solomonic legend concerning the Queen of Sheba and members of the Craft.

The Jewel of the Grade is the insignia of the Allied Masonic Degrees surrounded by a laurel wreath, both in gold, suspended from a green ribbon at the throat, or a white ribbon on the left breast.

Installed Commander Noah

In the American Councils, the Degree is rarely exemplified. However, it has become more important with the mutual recognition of European and Canadian Royal Ark Mariner Lodges. In some American Councils, the Royal Ark Mariner Lodge operates as a separate body, with its own set of officers and members. The Degree emphasizes the lessons of hospitality and generosity.

The Jewel of the Grade is a silver Triangle. Center inside the inner edges of the triangle is a silver "N." The Jewel is suspended from a ribbon containing the colors of the Rainbow.

Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri

This remote Order is said to be derived from a very ancient Order in Ireland, consisting of Freemasons and said to have been erected and patronized by the Kings of Ireland, for it is claimed that in early times Erin (Ireland) possessed literature and history equal to that of the most highly developed of ancient nations. While it is generally accepted that Bro. John Yarker (1833-1913) was at one time the head of the ‘English Revived Order of the Red Branch of Eri’; certain records relate that Bro. F. G. Irwin, while Worshipful Master of the Inhabitants Lodge, No. 178 at Gibraltar in 1858, received the Order at the hands of the captain of an American trading vessel, to whom it had been transmitted from father to son, dating back to 1757, when his Irish forbear emigrated to New York while a District Grand Master of the Order. Major Irwin is then purported to have restored and reorganized the degree in England under the aegis of the Grand Mur-Ollamham. The Order possessed two Psalters, the Major Psalter being basically the rituals or the degrees and the Minor Psalter comprising the laws and rules of the Order. The degrees embodied in the Order are (1) Man-at-Arms, (2) Esquire, (3) Knight, (4) Knight Commander, and (5) Grand Cross.       

The English body languished for quite some time, starting during the latter part of Bro. John Yarker’s tenure as Master, and was worked only upon rare occasions with long periods of inactivity in between. It was revived sometime after the turn of the 20th Century, and attached in nature to the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, with restrictions that the Order could only be conferred upon invited SRIA members of VIº or higher. This modification of what is in the United States viewed as an American Order led to a schism between the English and American branches, the former refusing to extend recognition to the American Knights of the Order.       

The American body uses the rituals as used by the English body under the stewardship of Bro. John Yarker. The degrees of Knight Commander and Grand Cross is not exemplified or practiced as there are no subordinate bodies of this Order in the United States. The Minor Psalter of the English body is not used either as it pertains to peculiarities of English Freemasonry and their Order. The Red Branch of Eri may be conferred upon any member of the Allied Masonic Degrees, by the unanimous decision of the member’s Council, for outstanding and meritorious service to the Allied Masonic Degrees. It is limited to no more than two members per Council per year.       

The Jewel of the Order is a white Salem Cross having a red branch in leaf superimposed thereon, suspended by a green ribbon. The Jewel is worn suspended from the throat. 


Here is a comparison between the English and American AMD, and the chair degrees.


1. Allied Masonic Degrees. (n.d.). Retrieved from St. Andrew's in America Council #1:  

2. Degrees & Regalia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Texas Council #335, AMD:  

3. History. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Grand Council Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Last Few Weeks

Well, I need to catch my breath. This has been quite a busy couple of weeks for me, Masonic and school-wise.

Thursday was the meeting of some of the appendant bodies of the York Rite. I was able to attend the annual meeting of the Order of High Priesthood and Order of the Silver Trowel. The Knights Preceptor and Knights of the York Cross of Honor also met, but I am not a member and I had plenty of other things to be doing to ensure the Grand Sessions would go as smoothly as I could make it.

Friday started off with the official public opening of the Joint Sessions of the Grand York Rite Bodies of Idaho with John Zeller, Most Excellent Grand High Priest, presiding. There were a great many visiting guests from the various appendant bodies of Masonry, including one from Queensland, Australia. In the afternoon the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons met where Ron Berto was elected as the Most Excellent Grand High Priest and he appointed me as the Grand Master of the 1st Veil. We were installed shortly after.

Friday evening was filled with the Necrology ceremony of the Grand Council and Grand Commandery, Holy Land Pilgrimage Benefit Dinner, and York Rite College meeting. Prior to the Necrology, we heard a small speech from the Minister we sent over to the Holy Land this last March, and he seems to have had an amazing time there. The Rainbow Girls cooked and served us a great pork dinner. After all that was said and done, it was time for the York Rite College to meet. This was just a business meeting where balloted on some proposed new members and also where we held our elections. Although I was not elected to any position, I stood in as acting-Chancellor (3rd down the line) for the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the newly elected officers were then installed by the Grand Governor, Right Pre-Eminently Distinguished Brother, Ron Berto.

Saturday morning I had to attend my monthly National Guard drill, but in the afternoon I was able to attend the Grand Council meeting as an Illustrious Master. I helped the installation by assisting the Installing Grand Marshall. Then it was time for the Grand Banquet. After a few drinks from the bar, the meals came out and the Prime Rib was amazing. The banquet was MC'd by James C Herndon, Past Grand Sovereign of the United Grand Imperial Council of the Red Cross of Constantine, and he did a fantastic job. Each of the bodies handed out awards to those Companions and Sir Knights who very easily deserved them for all of their hard work. We also had a few speeches given by each of the representatives from the General Grand Chapter, General Grand Council, and Grand Encampment

Monday, the 16th, a mentor of mine, particularly in the York Rite, received his 50-year pin in his Lodge. Wednesday night was an eventful day as I was installed as Associate Patron for my Eastern Star Chapter.

I spent the rest of the week studying as today my Commandery put on the Chivalric Orders in Boise. The Sir Knights did a fantastic job. I enjoyed being the High Priest for the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Marshall for the Order of Malta, and Generalissimo for the Order of the Temple.

After the Orders were done we were served a very nice dinner by the young men of the Treasure Valley Chapter of the Order of DeMolay. I'd also like to thank the Job's Daughter for serving us our lunch that day.

Now it's time to catch up on some homework and start studying for Finals.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saint Thomas of Acon


Officially known as the Commemorative Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, this order exists to reaffirm a Knights Templar’s vows and to raise funds for the maintenance of the Canterbury Cathedral. Membership in this Order is by invitation-only with the prerequisite that they also are a member of a recognized Commandery of Knights Templar. There is also a membership restriction for each Chapel, but they are encouraged to keep their membership below 50-knights.

The basic organizational unit of the Order is called a Chapel and the followers are as follows:
Worthy Master
Eminent Prior
Deputy Marshal
1st Working Knight
2nd Working Knight
3rd Working Knight
4th Working Knight
The next organization level is known as the Provincial Grand Council which is presided over by a Provincial Grand Preceptor and Provincial Grand Prior. The next level is known as the Grand Master’s Council and is presided over by the Most Worthy Grand Master and Most Eminent Grand Prior. Each of these organizational levels has officers like those in a Chapel.

History of the Order

Here is an essay on the history:
That we have a revival of this very English Order of Chivalry is due to the untiring efforts of our first Grand Master, Sir John of Dorking (the late John Walker who was Secretary General of the S.R.I.A. for many years). John spent more than twenty years searching the archives of the Guildhall Library for information about the Order of St. Thomas of Acon, intending initially to write its history. Happily, he discovered the report of the Installation of the Master in 1510, an account so unusual and so typically English, that he felt compelled to revive the Order, albeit Masonically, rather than attempt to compete with the many histories of these Islands - some, alas, more lurid than accurate- which vie for public attention.
In former times, few could read or write so that memories were better developed than ours. Pythagoras forbade all writing, considering it "the destroyer of all memory"; fortunately most people were more tolerant. It was not necessary to record what was to be spoken, nor to give more than headings of the order of events; such clues as have survived require imaginative interpretation. Good stories, on the other hand,(such as those of Becket, father and son), were written down for use as homilies by priests.
The Third Crusade begin in 1189 A.D., and on the 8th. June 1191 King Richard I (Richard Coeur de Lion) arrived with his forces, before the seaport of Acre, and captured the city in 5 weeks. Amongst the English force was one, William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St. Pauls, who when he saw the corpses of the Christians about the walls of Acre, had compassion on them. With the aid of a few helpers he buried a large number of the dead, and tended the wounded. Seeing that his actions were being appreciated, William formed an Order for the express purpose of burying Christian Knights who fell in battle in the Holy Land. To this first purpose he added a second, the raising of monies to redeem ransomed captives captured by the Saracens. The Order being formed at Acre its name was incorporated in the title (the Anglicized version of Acre being Acon). The Order was so successful that William was able to build a church and churchyard which he dedicated to St. Thomas `a Becket, thus the Order became entitled the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. Through disease and death of the other knights fighting in the Holy Land, this Order of English monks was pressed into service as replacements, and became an Order of military monks, (it was also at this time circa 1279 that the Prior lost his pre-eminent position, this being accorded to the Master), fighting alongside the Knights of the Temple, the Knights of the Hospital of St. John the Almsgiver, the Knights of the Hospital of Lazarus and the Teutonic Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary. King Richard I rewarded their valour by according them the status of an Order of Chivalry. Of all the five noble Orders of knights in the Holy Land at this time, only this Order had a purely English foundation - a fact of which we should be justly proud.
In England the Order acquired the property of the Becket family in Cheapside where they built a Chapel and a headquarters. Following the battle of Acre, the Order of St. Thomas of Acon merged temporarily with the Order of the Temple. When the knights were subsequently driven out of Cyprus, the Chapel of the Order of St. Thomas was the only church on the island permitted to ring its bells. Remains of this church can still be visited. 
Old records are sparse, the last admission into the Order being recorded on the 2nd. February 1367, but that the order continued is not in doubt as the records of the Installation of a Master in 1510 mentioned above demonstrate and it was listed as one of the Orders dissolved by Henry VIII.
At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, he offered the Chapel of the Order for sale, and, in memory of St. Thomas (Thomas `a Becket being canonized barely two years after his death during the Lentern period in 1173) , and in view of the association of his father, Gilbert, with their trade, the Worshipful Company of Mercers purchased it. The Chapel in Cheapside was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and the present Mercers Hall and Chapel were built on the site. This is a matter of historical record, lengthy articles have been published in the "Historical Review" ,which is available in most public libraries and in several books. All that remains today to remind us of that building is the recumbent statue of Christ which lies at the entrance of the new Mercers' Chapel. 
Additionally, the Church of St. Thomas, in the City of London, was built in honour of St. Thomas `a Becket, and the Mayor, on the day of his Installation, always attended Mass in that church, before proceeding to St. Pauls.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Order of the Silver Trowel

In addition to the Order of the High Priesthood and other organizations meeting today, another one was the Order of the Silver Trowel and as Illustrious Master of my Council of Cryptic Masons, I was inducted into this Order.

A well-respected Companion and one of the few Scotsman in Idaho conferred the degree and did just an amazing job at it. He has done this degree for the past 41 years!

The Order of the Silver Trowel, or also known as Thrice Illustrious Master, is a degree conferred upon those who are serving or have served as Illustrious Master for a Council of Cryptic Masons.

The degree gets a name from the jewel of the degree (see below).  The order is also known by the name of the Order of Anointed Kings. The degree consists of two sections - the candidate representing young King Solomon in both sections. In the first section, the candidate learns of the conspiracy by his half-brother Adonijah, to wrest the throne by cunning from Solomon. He also learns of his mother (Bathsheba) interceding with the aged and ailing King David to prevent this. After securing David's approval, Solomon is symbolically conducted to Gihon by Benaiah where he is duly obligated, anointed, and hailed as King by Nathan, the Prophet, and Zadok, the High Priest. In the second section, the newly anointed King is brought before his father, David, who, in his dying moments, instructs him in moral wisdom and counsels him to govern uprightly and to serve the Lord with all his strength. Upon Solomon's assent, the King expires.

The officers of this degree are:
Thrice Illustrious Master
Thrice Illustrious Senior Warden
Thrice Illustrious Junior Warden
Thrice Illustrious Recorder
Thrice Illustrious Treasurer
Thrice Illustrious Steward
Thrice Illustrious Sentinel


1. Cryptic Rite Degrees. (n.d.). Retrieved from Adoniram Council #2, Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Ontario:

2. Hill Jr., Luther A. (n.d.). Order of the Silver Trowel. Retrieved from Grand York Rite Bodies of Tennessee:

3. O'Brien, R. (n.d.). The Degree of the Silver Trowel. Retrieved from Royal & Select Masters, District Grand Council of Southern India: 

4. Order of the Silver Trowel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Most Illustrious Grand Council of Mississippi: 

5. Price, W. W. (2008, May). The York Rite of Freemasonry. The Working Tools magazine, p. 54.

Order of the High Priesthood

Today is the first day of the Grand York Rite Sessions in Idaho and the day is filled with the meetings of some of the appendant orders such as the Order of the High Priesthood.

Although I received this degree back in 2010, this is the first meeting I've been able to attend since that time.

The Order of the High Priesthood is a "chair" degree that is conferred upon those who are or have served as Excellent High Priest for a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Sometimes referred to as the Anointed Order of High Priesthood. In antiquity, this degree was known as the Order of Melchizedek.

The first authenticated record of this Order is to be found in the proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Ohio in 1828. The Order of High Priesthood dates from the year of the blessing of Abraham by the high priest, Melchizedek, King Salem. It is called Anno Benedictionis (A.B.) - "In the year of Blessing" and adds 1913 to the common time. Therefore the year 2008 becomes 3921.

The Order’s ritual was compiled and arranged by Robert Macoy. In addition, recommend reading KJV Hebrews 7: 1, 5, 17, 20 & 21:
“For this Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the most high GOD, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being by interpretation, King of righteousness, and after that also, King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of GOD, abides a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily, they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham. For he testifies, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest. For those priests (under the Levitical law) were made without an oath; but this with an oath, by him that said unto him, the LORD has sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. 

1. Hill Jr., L. A. (n.d.). Order of High Priesthood. Retrieved from Grand York Rite Bodies of Tennessee:

2. Order of High Priesthood. (n.d.). Retrieved from St. Mark’s Royal Arch Chapter:

3. Price, W. W. (2008). Honorary and Invitational Orders of the Royal Arch. The Working Tools magazine, 46.

4. The Masonic Manual: Order of High Priesthood. (n.d.). Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry:

5. The Order of High Priesthood. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Grand Chapter of Kentucky, Royal Arch Masons: