Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Introduction to Martinism

When I first heard of Martinism I surprised to find very little on the subject and that very few Masons new about this mystical Christian denomination, particularly with its intimate connection with the Masonic fraternity in its early years. Here is a brief introduction of Martinism.

Martinism is named after Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and is considered a mystical form of Christianity concerned with the fall of man, man's deprivation from the Divine, and his journey to reunite, or "Reintegrating", with the Divine, also known as illumination.  This tradition was first transmitted through a system of a "high Masonic rite" known as Ordre des Chevaliers Macons Elus-Cohen de l'Univers (Order of Knight Masons, Elect Priests of the Universe) established by Jacques de Livron Joachim de la Tour de la Casa Martinez de Pasqually (or more commonly referred to as Martinez de Pasqually) and which Saint-Martin was a member of.

De Pasqually was born around 1727 in Grenoble, France, and spent most of his life teaching this religious system. He was also a Rosicrucian and is said to have been an initiate of the Swedish philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg.  He died in 1774 while on business in Saint-Domingue (a part of what is Haiti today). After De Pasqually's death, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, another of De Pasqually's pupil's, established the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité-Sainte (Order of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City), or commonly known today as the Rectified Scottish Rite, which combined teachings of De Pasqually and the defunct Rite of Strict Observance.

Saint-Martin, born into a poor, but noble French family in 1743, first came upon the teachings of De Pasqually during his service in the French Army. As a result, he resigned his commission and moved to Bordeaux to be initiated into De Pasqually's Rite.  While serving as Secretary to De Pasqually he became knowledgeable on the teachings of the Order. He published many works, some of which would have a profound effect on Freemasonry, and all under the pseudonym "un philosphe inconnu" or "an unknown philosopher", from which time he has been referred to by this title. In some of his works, he laid out the plan he believed man should follow for Illumination, and placed an emphasis on Meditation and inner spiritual alchemy. Saint-Martin did not refer to these teachings as "Martinism", but rather called them "Voie Cardiaque" or a  "way of the heart".

Eventually, Saint-Martin would branch out on his own and teach his own mystic instructions separate from the Elus-Cohen. Surviving the French Revolution, Saint-Martin died in 1803 leaving behind his works and his initiates. Towards the end of the 19th century, the teachings took on a more structured organization with the assistance of Pierre Augustin Chaboseau and Gerard Analect Vincent Encausse (who is known by the pseudonym of "Papus").  This order was referred to then as "Le Ordre Martineste". These two men had set upon this endeavor as they feared the oral traditions that had been passed down by Saint-Martin had been altered as they both found each had been initiated by two different links stemming from Saint-Martin and, finding some inconsistencies in the transmissions, they wanted to preserve the teachings in a more consistent environment to enable them to further spread the message.

This more formal structure contained four grades called:
Unknown Superior
Unknown Superior Initiator
They structured them so, and as such the first two grades were introductory ceremonies of the Martinist doctrine. The third grade is said to have been comprised of the initial teachings which Saint-Martin imparted on his original followers. Although there exists a connection to the Masonic fraternity with this system of teachings, the rituals are different from those delivered in the Lodge.

Since this time, and with the emergence of the Internet, many other Martinist groups have come into being with some differences in the number of grades and structure.

For those interested, here are some great resources (along with my sources):


1. A Brief History of the Martinist Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Library: http://masoniclibrary.com/books/Brief%20History%20of%20the%20Martinist%20Order%20%28342%20pgs%29.pdf

2. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Claude_de_Saint-Martin

3. Martinism. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinism

4. Starr, G. (2012, Nov). Ivan Vladirovich Lopukhin. Retrieved from Living Stones Magazine: http://www.livingstonesmagazine.com/PDF/Lopukhin_Freemasonry_Martinism.pdf

5. The History of Martinism. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordre Reaux Croix: http://www.ordrereauxcroix.org/history/

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for and I thank God for every day of my life.

I am heading over to my Godparent's house and look forward to all of the delicious food and hanging out with my awesome little nephew.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Priests to God

Priests to God! In distant
Did we tend the altar fire,
Where the pyramids of sages
Rose to say--"Lo! we aspire"--?

Were our hearts in consecration
On those altars purified,
That in future incarnation
Ne'er the Faith should be denied?

Priests to God! The vaulted arches
Of the heaven's lofty dome
Form the temple-close, where marches
Man to his eternal home.

Let us bear our tapers, lighted
At the altars of the East;
Keep the Faith that once we plighted,
Clad in spotless robe of priest.

Brothers, let us humbly labor
As God's earthly temple throws
Light divine on friend and neighbor,
Till each looks aloft and knows;--

Knows the sanctity of living,
Knows the Holy Place within,
Knows the incense born of giving
Life itself, to save from sin.

Priests and Brothers, death may sever
Ties that bind us to this sod,
But the Temple stands forever,
And we serve, as Priests to God.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The fourth body of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Consistory. This body consists of the 31° and the 32°. Here is a brief description of the degrees:

31° - Inspector Inquisitor

The central teaching of this degree is justice. To be free, a Mason must begin by passing judgment on himself. He presents himself for examination. By acting honestly in first giving judgment on himself within the principles of justice and equity, it should not be doubted when he shall do the same to his brothers. The brother who finds mercy in himself, who has not been too lenient towards himself, or punish himself too severely, can also judge his brothers. In so doing, he can be certain that he has not acted contrary to his former obligations. He has freed himself. 
The lessons of this degree teach us to judge ourselves in the same light as we judge others consider both actions and motives.

The jewel of the degree is a Teutonic Cross of silver worn with a white watered ribbon around the neck.

Though no apron is worn in the Tribunal,  there was an apron that was to be worn when the  Inspector Inquisitor visited an inferior body. That custom has been dispensed with but the apron is still a part of the history and symbolism of the degree; so it is displayed here. It is of pure white lambskin with a Teutonic Cross embroidered in black and silver upon the flap.

The collar is white and at the point upon the breast is a gold triangle emitting rays with the letters 'XXXI'  in the center.

32° - Master of the Royal Secret

This degree teaches many lessons, but the mystery concealed is that man is a creature of free will and capable of recreating himself. If he accomplishes this goal, he will attain a genuine power that can shake the limits of science, surpass the problems of this earth, decipher the secrets of space, surpass the limits of ceremony and catechism, and attain genuine enlightenment; a gnosis which is the foundation of all religions. He will also surpass the narrow views of interest in the area of morals and will comprehend a genuine virtue that transcends his own interest. Thus, it will become his nature to help his fellow men,  and, in so doing, he will discover the divine light within which brings true freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of culture.

The lessons of this degree are that "genuine brotherhood requires mutual regard, opinion, esteem, and charity". We always look for the good in all, make allowances for other's shortcomings. We trust the Supreme Architect to lead us to friendship, morality, and brotherly love.
A Soldier of the Light seeks truth and knowledge. A Soldier of Freedom demands for the people free vote and voice and attains freedom of voice, vote, and opinion for himself. A Soldier for Religion combats spiritual tyranny with reason and truth. A Soldier of the People encourages men to be self-reliant and independent. A Soldier of Scottish Rite Masonry is zealous and ardent in the performance of his duties to God, his country, his family, his brethren and himself.
The jewel of the order is a Teutonic Cross of gold with arms frosted.  In the center are the letters 'XXXII°', surrounded by a green wreath.

The apron is of white silk or velvet, twelve inches square, edged with two stripes of gold lace, each half an inch wide, and an inch apart, and fringed with gold. Between the stripes of lace is a stripe of black velvet. On the flap are embroidered six flags, three on each side, the lower one blue, the middle one red, and the upper one gold. On these, in the center, is a Teutonic  Cross of gold, and over that, an eye of gold, surrounded by rays. On the cross, a black double-headed eagle, with beak and claws of gold, holding a sword of gold, one claw on the hilt. On the body of the apron is the Tracing -Board of the degree in all the colors. The reverse side of the apron is of crimson silk or velvet. It is tied by a heavy cord of crimson silk.

The cordon is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip and is four inches wide, doubled, black-edged with white on the principal side and crimson on the other. At the point of the principal side is embroidered a red Teutonic Cross with a silver double-headed eagle superimposed. On the crimson side, at the height of the heart, is embroidered a Teutonic Cross in black.


1.Consistory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scottish Rite of California: http://www.scottishritecalifornia.org/consistory.htm

2. Scottish Rite Degrees: Consistory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Master Mason: http://www.mastermason.com/jjcrowder/scottish/scottish.html#eagle

3. Scottish Rite Consistory. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/consistory.html

4. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida: http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/scottish_rite_degrees.htm

Happy Veterans Day

A salute goes out to all the men and women who have served and are serving.

We should never forget everything they sacrificed in defense of our great nation!

I am spending the day hanging out with the Jobies raking up yards in support of Rake Up Boise.

Friday, November 9, 2012


While perusing the Masonic Reformation Foundation I found an article called "Freemasonry is Primary" and I would like to share it with all of you because of the wisdom he speaks:
Freemasonry is Primary
by RW Thomas W. Jackson

In recent years I have become more of a student of Freemasonry than I was in the past, and, although I still hesitate to think of myself as a Masonic scholar, there are those who tend to put me into that category. Whether I have become a student or a scholar of the Craft is not as significant as is my recognition of the great dearth of Masonic students and scholars in present-day Freemasonry as compared with the past. I doubt whether any would deny that one of the greatest problems facing Freemasonry today is the lack of knowledge of what it truly is, and this includes both the Mason as well as the non-Mason. We simply have far too great a percentage of our Membership unwilling to make the effort to understand the true philosophy and meaning of our Fraternity.

A story is told of an old French doctor who devoted his life to his patients giving much of himself and requiring little in return. If they could not afford to pay, he made no charge. When the day approached that the old doctor could no longer continue in his profession, his patients wanted to give something to the old man in return for the devotion and unselfish contributions he made to their lives. However, they were too poor to give the old doctor the type of recognition which they felt he deserved. Each, however, produced wine for his own use. They decided that each would make a contribution of one pitcher of wine and they would present the doctor with a barrel of wine from which he could draw as he relaxed following retirement.

When the inevitable day came and the speeches of recognition and gratitude were completed, the old doctor accepted the wine from those he served so long and so well, and he returned to his home. He drew a glass from the vat of wine and sat down in a chair to relax. When he tasted the wine, however, it tasted like water. Thinking that something must be wrong, he took a second glass, but it also tasted like water, and sadly the truth was revealed.

Each one of his patients felt that he had too little for his own use and that he could not afford to contribute to the doctor. Each reasoned that since so many others were giving, his small contribution would not be missed.

How sad, and yet how true, that this analogy can also be applied to our Fraternity today. So many feel that their little contribution will not be missed, and as a result Freemasonry, like the old doctor, who meant so much to so many, experiences the disappointment.

The more familiar I become with this organization, the more impressed I become with the magnitude of the impact that it has made on the world as we know it today. There can be no doubt that without Freemasonry the civilized world, in its present form, probably would not exist. But, we are tending to become a passive Fraternity as noninvolvement becomes more of a part of our lives. Each of us probably takes great pride in being able to point to so many great men who have been part of Freemasonry, yet this tendency to point to the great men has led us to ignore the greatness of the Craft. It is the greatness of the Organization with its philosophies and precepts which attracted the great men to begin with, and which made the world what it is today. Freemasonry is primary; membership is secondary. Without the greatness of the Craft, its composition would have been irrelevant. Yet at the same time, it was the contribution of the membership which made the philosophy of the Craft work.

We should never cease to be proud of our past; but we can ill-afford to dwell upon it, if it causes us to lose sight of the present. Every single contribution, regardless of how small, is a contribution to the perpetuation of an ideal — perhaps the greatest ideal — that the mind of man has conceived. In an age which continues to see the world's major conflicts taking place in the name of God and religion, the philosophy of toleration is still as desperately needed as it was in the past. We find no organization today espousing a similar philosophy. We can continue to express our lovely platitudes and make no contribution; or we can be what we say we are, and practice what we preach.

There can be little doubt, however, that if we continue to fail to know what we are, we will continue to fail to be what we were. Probably the greatest challenge facing Masonic leadership today is the education of the membership of the true meaning of Freemasonry. Pennsylvania has been extremely fortunate in the field of Masonic education. We have had, and continue to have, one of the greatest Masonic education programs in operation in any Grand Lodge in the world. But, as has been said many times, you cannot run 20,000 volts through a non-conductor and, unfortunately, too many of our members today have become non-conductors by choice. If we don't understand the Craft, how can we ever hope for those outside to understand us. If we continue to think that our little contribution will not be missed, then like the old doctor, an organization which has greatly impacted this world for close to 300 years during the evolution of civilization is like him — doomed to be disappointed. Think about it, my Brothers. Your contribution, no matter how small, is significant.
 [Originally published in The Pennsylvania Freemason, February, 1996]
I found it very striking to what Freemasonry sees today. RW Brother Jackson also wrote other great articles that point out ailments plaguing our Fraternity. Far too often we have the "bystander effect" within the ranks of Freemasonry where many think "someone else will do it." Far too often the minority does a majority of the work.  Far too often today our Lodges are minimally attended so much goes by the wayside as a result.

Coming up the lines in my Commandery I have taken over the Order of Malta as the Director and as the Eminent Commander-elect, I have created a book that breaks down who and what is needed to put on the Chivalric Orders. I did this because for too long we had a couple of Sir Knights who knew where everything was at and did so much of the work. I am holding my junior officers accountable so as to spread out the work and not overload one person. A good leader is one who can properly delegate responsibility and ensure that if everyone works for a common goal the burden isn't so heavy when everyone helps in any way they can.

Brothers, Companions, and Sir Knights, change, or rather reform, must come to our Fraternity.  We must always keep watch over our Western Gate and bring in those who are not merely chasing the title of Mason, but bring in those who will contribute, whether great or small, all is needed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

York Rite Elections

Well, tonight the Boise York Rite bodies held elections for the 2013 officers. In the Commandery of Knights Templar, I am honored to say that I was elected as Eminent Commander. I'd like to thank all the Sir Knights for having confidence in me and electing me to this honored station.

In the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, I was re-elected as King. In the Council of Cryptic Masons, I will become the Junior Past Illustrious Master, and join the ranks of the side-liners

The installation for Council will occur at our December stated meeting, and then I will be installed on December 20th at 7:00PM as Eminent Commander for Idaho Commandery #1. The Chapter will hold their installation after the Commandery installation. Both will be held at the Boise Masonic Temple and will be open to the public.

The Hieroglyphical Emblems of the Master Mason

The Chairman of the Grand Lodge Education committee asked me to prepare an article on the Eight Classes presented during the Master Mason degree. While I will quote a few times from the Masonic explanation, I wanted to explain the history, and meaning behind many of the symbols that can be often overlooked due to the cultural change since the time the rituals were written.

In the Lecture of the Master Mason degree, everyone is given at least a basic introduction and explanation of the Eight Classes of Hieroglyphic emblems with instruction that the fuller explanation is to be found in our Blue Monitor. Even if one reads the fuller explanation, how many have a strong understanding of what these symbols represent, why they represent these ideals and the history behind them all?

While we are given the explanation in the Master Mason degree that the Steps represent the three Principle Stages of Human Life, the Three Steps, and particularly the number 3, is seen throughout all three degrees.

The 3 Steps instruct us that while growing and advancing through life, we must ensure before we take the next step that our current step, our foundation, is well established, for without taking the next step would be foolish and possibly disastrous to our moral and Masonic edifice.

Next, our attention is directed to the Pot of Incense, or sometimes referred to as a "censer", which is said to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity. Now, why is this?  To many, the burning of incense is a representation of prayer as the smoke ascended to Heaven. The burning of incense is also an imitation of the ancient practice of sacrificing animals to God. In Psalms 141:2 it reads:
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
In Revelations 8:3 we also see:
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Much of the focus of this symbol is on the incense itself, but we must remember the vessel, the pot, in which this is all contained in has many interpretations.  One can see it as the heart in which this fervor burns as well as the manifold blessings we hope to enjoy by giving these prayers to the Almighty.

What is a pure heart?  A pure heart is one of sincerity and compassion. From the Masonic Dictionary, without sincerity, there can be no real character. And as the incense should continually burn so should we continually grow, never being satisfied with our current standard, but ever willing to build his character.

The Bee-Hive, in my opinion, is probably the most misunderstood symbol. Immediately we are told that it is an emblem of industry, but this can be misleading as in this instance industry does not mean machinery, it actually means strength in numbers. Historically, industry meant employing a large number of men to accomplish a project. For this definition of industry, the Bee-Hive is a perfect representation as we see that hundreds or thousands can accomplish a task much easier versus the employment of just one.

Strength in numbers and the Bee-Hive is also a great symbol for mankind as we are social creatures and rely upon our fellow man for aid, support, and protection. This symbol of industry and cooperation also warns us against laziness, wherein the fuller explanation of this symbol we see:
Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God, and he that will so demean himself as not to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding maybe deemed a DRONE in the HIVE of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons.
The next symbols, in the explanation we're told they don't necessarily represent an ideal, but rather remind us of particular Masonic virtues, silence, and circumspection.

First, let us look at these two values. While silence is not always connected to secrecy, there is often a correlation. Silence is connected with a circumspection which is a prudent, discrete observation of our actions to avoid embarrassment or distress (also see caution). As good Masons, we must be wise as well as guarded in our thoughts, words, and actions, as we can see that throughout history that the enemies of Freemasonry will use every little unworthy action to damn the entire fraternity. With this symbol are we reminded greatly of the Four Cardinal Virtues lectured during the 1st Degree.

Now look at the symbols themselves, the Book of Constitution and the Tiler's Sword, which will give us a stronger understanding of why they are to remind us of Silence and Circumspection.  The Book is where we find the rules, regulations, and how we are to be governed. From the Masonic World website, an unknown author talked about how this book is a symbol of constitutional government (whether that of the US or of our venerable fraternity). The Tiler's Sword is a symbol of protection against the cowan and eavesdroppers.  From the MasonicWorld website:
I believe the Book of Constitutions Guarded by the Tiler's Sword teaches us that Masonry should always be the Guardian of Constitutional Government.
Justice and the Deity are emblematically represented by the Sword pointing to the Naked Heart and the All-Seeing Eye. By the Sword pointing at the Naked Heart, we are reminded of our obligation and that justice will come to all who violate the laws that regulate their lives, whether from secular or Divine authority. The All-Seeing Eye is a symbol of God's omniscience. The Naked Heart is to demonstrate that although we can hide our sins and crimes from the eyes of man, we cannot hide from the omniscience of God and his punishment symbolized by the Sword.

From Albert Mackey's "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry":
The Sword Pointing at the Naked Heart is another emblem which need not have a depressing meaning; it should have, rather, a cheerful meaning, because when justice searches out every heart it means that men have security, live in civil order, and therefore can be happy.
The Anchor and the Ark represent a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life. These symbols are seen as peculiarly Christian as they do not appear to have belonged to the classical system of symbols. In Hebrew 6:19 (KJV) it is written "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil"  For many in the ancient world, and even today in many places, life is a stormy passage. The anchor symbolized that the voyage was complete and that one had arrived safely in the port. It is thought that tombs that had this symbol carved upon their walls were inspired by the Biblical verse. Attached to this was the ship, that symbolized the vessel voyaging through the rough seas.  In Freemasonry, the ship was replaced with the Ark, which was still to represent life.  How appropriate it is for these symbols, the ark, and the anchor, to be with the Master Mason degree whose teachings relate to life and death.

As we learn in the Fellow Craft, Geometry, the first and noblest of sciences, is the basis upon which the superstructure of Masonry is erected. When we come to the degree of Master Mason we encounter yet another reference to this noble science in the form of the 47th Problem of Euclid, which is a formula used to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle.  In the lecture, we hear:

The Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid was an invention of our ancient friend and Brother, the great Pythagoras, who, in his travels through Asia, Africa, and Europe, was initiated into several orders of priesthood, and was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry, or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems or theorems; and among the most distinguished, he erected this, which, in the joy of his heart, he called out EUREKA, in the Grecian language signifying, I HAVE FOUND IT; and upon discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.
To start off, a triangle is composed of three parts: a perpendicular, a base, and a hypotenuse. The right-angled triangle in the center is surrounded by squares: one of three parts that make up the perpendicular, one of four parts making up the base, and one of five parts that are the hypotenuse of the triangle. With a triangle whose perpendicular is 3, the square of that is 9; whose base is 4, the square is 16; and whose hypotenuse is 5, the square is 25, which is the sum of the squares of the perpendicular and base (9 and 16). This problem is also referred to as the Pythagorean Theorem or Carpenter's Theorem as it is used in making many calculations, particularly when drawing plans for buildings.

This theorem is said to have been discovered by Pythagoras during his travels through Egypt and taken it back to Greece. With the Egyptians we are told that this triangle was a symbol of nature and attached to it were Osiris, Isis, and Horus.  Osiris represented by the base, Isis by the perpendicular, and Horus as a product of the first two was represented by the hypotenuse. This formula was used in many projects and wonders that marked the landscape of ancient Egypt some of them that still stand today such as the Great Pyramids at Giza.

It is curious to note that Euclid, the Father of Geometry, lived several hundred years after Pythagoras although there is historic evidence that the Egyptians and Babylonians knew of this formula centuries before Euclid and Pythagoras. Euclid was a Greek mathematician who lived in Alexandria around the time of the reign of Ptolemy I. Euclid's Elements of Geometry (a series of 13 books) is one of the most influential works in the history of Mathematics, particularly Geometry.

It's fitting that the last symbols brought to our attention are ones that represent the mortality of man: the Hourglass and the Scythe. These symbols are fairly young in Freemasonry and are said to have been added by Thomas Smith-Webb. By the Hourglass, we are reminded that life is not to be wasted and we should make the most of it until the end of our days, represented by the Scythe. The use of these symbols though can be seen throughout history, particularly the Scythe. It also referred to as the sickle.  Regardless of its design or name, the symbolic meaning associated with this instrument has always stood for the reaping of humanity and the cutting off of life.

The personification of death is often seen carrying a scythe or sickle. There are many legends, myths, and lore connected with this feared entity. Today it is known as the "Grim Reaper", but depending on the time and culture, it has gone by many other names. The Scythe was not always seen as the weapon of choice for the Reaper, with the agrarian cultures we see the attachment. One of my favorite mythologies was the Greek mythologies.  In it there are three Fates or Moirai, named: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. While all of them were regarded as cruel due to their inexorable duty, it was Atropos who was feared as she was the one who wielded the shears that would cut the thread of life, while her sisters spun and measured the thread of life.

Looking in the Book of Revelations we see a similar reference to the scythe and reaping:
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
 - Revelations 14:14-28
As we should learn in life and do learn in the Third Degree, death is a natural part of the passage of time and an integral part of the renewal of life.  Plants die to feed animals and so must life cease to give way to other life.


1. Atropos. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atropos

2. Beehive. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/beehive.html

3. Beehive. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beehive

4. Burkle, W. S. (n.d.). The 47th Problem of Euclid - The Veil Lifted. Retrieved from Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/euclid_unveiled.html

5. Euclid. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclid

6. "Hammer". (2008, February 22). The Hourglass, the Scythe and the Sprig of Acacia. Retrieved from The Sanctum Sanctorum blog: http://thesanctumsanctorum.blogspot.com/search/label/Hourglass

7. Harris, W. (n.d.). How the Grim Reaper Works. Retrieved from How Stuff WOrks: http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/strange-creatures/grim-reaper4.htm

8. Hourglass. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/hourglass.html

9. Mackey, A. (n.d.). Secrecy, Silence, Circumspection. Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences: http://encyclopediaoffreemasonry.com/s/secrecy-silence-circumspection/

10. Pot of Incense. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/pot.html

11. Symbols of Death and Time (Western). (n.d.). Retrieved from SymbolDictionary.net: http://symboldictionary.net/?tag=scythe

12. The Three Moirai. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moirai#The_three_Moirai

13. Unknown. (n.d.). Book of Constitutions Guarded Over by the Tiler's Sword. Retrieved from MasonicWorld.com: http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/artjan02/bookofconstgbytilersword.htm

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Council of Kadosh

The third body of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is called the Council of Kadosh. This body consists of the 19° through the 30°. The 19° through the 29° comprise what is known as the Degrees of 'Areopagus' which is derived from a court in ancient Athens of the same name. The 30° or "Kadosh", Hebrew for "Holy" or "Consecrated". Here is a brief description of the degrees:

19° - Grand Pontiff

The great lesson of this degree is that life when properly, is but a bridge to eternal life. Once the secret of life after death is known, a man understands that there is no time but eternity. Therefore, calamities which happen are temporary and will not continue. We are not taken down by calamities, but remain strong to fight against oppression and ignorance; we have passed from the Alpha to the Omega, have learned all the letters of the alphabet, and understand that Alpha comes after Omega, that life is renewed. There is no end to learning and science. The lessons of this degree teach Be content to labor for the future. Serve the cause of truth with patience and industry. Destroy error, falsehood, and intolerance with truth, honesty, honor, and charity.

The jewel is an oblong square of solid gold,  with the letter Aleph engraved on one side and Tau on the other. These letters are the first and last of the Hebrew alphabet as those upon the cordon are of Greek. They should remind us of the love and veneration we owe to that Great Being, the source of all existence, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. On His promises, we rely with perfect confidence, in whose mercy and goodness we implicitly trust, and for the fulfillment of whose wise purposes we are content to wait.

Another distinctive ornament of this degree is the breastplate of the High Priest of ancient  Israel with twelve different gems embedded in a 4x3 matrix. Upon each gem is one of the initials of the twelve names (or attributes) of Deity mentioned in the ritual.

The cordon is crimson, bordered with white, and worn from left to right. It teaches us that the zeal and ardor of a Grand Pontiff ought to be set off by the greatest purity of morals, perfect charity, and beneficence. Where it crosses the breast, embroidered in gold are twelve stars and the Greek letters Alpha and Omega  The stars upon it allude to the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the twelve fruits of the Tree of Life, the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles. The initials of the Apostles' names appear upon the gates and foundations of the New Jerusalem. The columns in the set of this degree also number twelve.

In this degree, there is also a fillet, or headband, of blue with twelve stars upon it which have the same significance as those on the cordon. It is the peculiar emblem of a Grand Pontiff because the slightest contact with the earth will spoil its spotless purity. Similarly, the least indiscretion will soil the exalted character which you have voluntarily assumed.

20° - Master of the Symbolic Lodge

This degree teaches that a Mason who knows that he does not possess the qualities of leadership, and who has not duly prepared himself to be a leader, should not want to be one. Notwithstanding, every Mason should endeavor to educate himself, bearing in mind that one day he may be asked to lead. Because he is of his community, it expects him to dispense light and knowledge; to practice the virtues both in and out of the Lodge. 
The lessons of this degree teach Dispense light and knowledge. Practice the Masonic virtues both in and out of the Lodge.

The jewel is gold, like the triangles on the apron, with the same words and letters.

The apron is yellow, bordered, and lined with sky-blue. In the center are three concentric equilateral triangles, with the initial letters of the nine Great Lights in the corners. The letters stand for the following: Charity, Generosity, Veneration, Heroism, Patriotism, Honor, Toleration, Truth, and Justice. In the center of the inner Triangle is the Tetragrammaton in Phoenician characters. Across it, from below upwards, are the Hebrew letters Yod, He, Yod, written vertically bottom to top and sideways. The remaining letters are Aleph, Vau, Ras; together with the letters from the Hebrew for "Let Light Be!" or, as in the King James Version of the Bible, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3).

The cordon is a broad ribbon of yellow and sky-blue; it may also be two ribbons, one of each color, crossing each other.

21° - Noachite, or Prussian Knight

The principle lesson of this degree is to not be conceited or belittle others. Nobody should rely on his wealth, nobility, heavenly or worldly titles. We should be humble and modest and sincerely seek God's mercy; for God protects those who are sincere and honest. A Mason should never lose hope and confidence in the fact that correctness and honesty will always be victorious. 
The lessons of this degree teach Be humble and modest, trusting in god. Be steadfast and courageous in the face of adversity.

The jewel is a silver, full moon, suspended from the third buttonhole of the vest, or a golden triangle traversed by an arrow, point-upward, suspended from the collar. On the jewel is an arm upraised, holding a naked sword, and around it the motto: "Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum" meaning "Let there be Justice, though the Heavens fall". These were the words of William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield (1704-1793), Lord Chief Justice of England, uttered in the case of Rex vs. Wilkes, June 8, 1768.

The apron and gloves of this degree are yellow. On the upper part of the apron is an arm, naked and upraised, holding a naked sword. Under it is a human figure, erect, with wings, the forefinger of his right hand on his lips; in his left hand, he holds a key. He is the Egyptian figure of silence, called by the Greeks Harpocrates, though the wings are an addition. Plato said the wings symbolized 'intelligence'. To the alchemists, they stood for the higher, active, male principle. 
The order is a broad black ribbon, worn from right to left.

22° - Prince of Libanus

Work is the mission of man. We should respect our labor for its own sake, and do our work. Manual and mental work complete one another; thus, one who works in either manual or mental labor should not try to exploit, or oppress the other. A Mason must be a person who makes no distinction in the nature and kind of work in which his brother is engaged. The lessons of this degree teach Respect for labor for its own sake and do work.

The jewel, suspended from the collar, is a gold ax and handle, the symbol of the great agent of civilization and improvement. Troops armed with this weapon have conquered barbarism. Under its blow the primeval forests disappear; the early farmer displaces the wild hunter; to the rude barbarism of the early ages succeed settled society, laws, and all the arts that refine and elevate mankind. The ax is nobler than the sword. Masonry hews at those mighty trees, intolerance, bigotry, superstition, uncharitableness, and idleness, thereby letting in the light of truth and reason upon the human mind, which these vices have darkened for centuries. The letters on the top are the initials of Noah and Solomon; those on the handle, of Libanus and Tsidunian; those on one side of the blade, of Adoniram, Kuros, Darius, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Azra; and those on the other side, of Shem, Kham, Yapheth, Moses, Aholiab, and Betselal. These names represent the various places and persons significant in the use of the cedars of Lebanon for 'Holy Enterprises'; examples include Noah's Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon's Temple, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple by Zerubbabel.

The apron is white, lined, and bordered with purple. In the middle is embroidered a round table, on which are mathematical instruments and unrolled plans. On the flap is a serpent with three heads, denoting idleness, the body from which issues the three vices symbolized by the heads: drunkenness, impurity, and gaming. By these vices, many youths have been lost and many great nations have sunk into ignoble imbecility and shameful bondage.

The order is a broad rainbow-colored ribbon, lined with purple. It is worn as a collar or may be worn as a sash, from right to left.

23° - Chief of the Tabernacle

To this degree, we are reminded that we owe our knowledge to our faith in a revealed God. Therefore, it is our duty to disseminate this knowledge to all mankind. A Mason who believes in God has a duty to acquire knowledge and disseminate this knowledge to other people so that others are also enlightened. A Mason who is generous with his knowledge knows that he will receive the blessing of God, not by sacrificing living beings, but by destroying superstitions and bringing happiness and prosperity to other people. The lessons of this degree teach Be devoted to the service of God. Constantly endeavor to promote the welfare of man. Act with proper subordination to your superiors (not blind obedience).

The jewel is a small silver censer, or ornamental cup, with a long handle; the end serves as a stand for the cup and is shaped like an open hand. It should remind us to offer up unceasingly to God the incense of good deeds and charitable actions dictated by a pure and upright heart.

The apron is white, lined with scarlet, and bordered with red, blue, and purple ribbons. In the middle is painted or embroidered the golden candelabrum with seven lights. Josephus, the great Jewish historian, is the source of the design of the apron. He defines the symbolism of the colors as follows: white, the earth, from which the flax used in fine linen is grown; red, fire, from its color; blue, the sky, for the same reason; and, purple, the sea, for it derives from a sea mollusk. But to us there are deeper meanings: white, the infinite beneficence of God; blue, His profound and perfect wisdom; red, his glory; and, purple, His power. The candelabrum symbolizes to us, as to the ancients, the seven planets: the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and  Saturn. It also represents the seven archangels and seven of the ten manifestations of Deity; specifically, the seven  Sephiroth which follow Will, Wisdom, and Understanding: Justice, Mercy, Beauty, Glory, Victory, Dominion, and Kingdom.

A red leather belt is also worn, fringed along the lower edge with gold, from which hangs the jewel.

24° - Prince of the Tabernacle

"This is a continuation of the last degree and examines the nature of knowledge. We must be vigilant not to accept corrupted and erroneous echoes of real knowledge. We have to distinguish for ourselves what is truth; for many do not realize that they are in error when they think they have found the truth. As Masons, we must fight continuously against superstitions, wrong knowledge, false prophets, tyrants, and despots. Our task is to free knowledge from the monopoly of classes, casts, leaders, or priests; and to disseminate  it to everyone." The lessons of this degree teach Labor incessantly for the glory of God, the honor of your country, and the happiness of your brethren.

The jewel is the Phoenician letter 'A' (Aleph), suspended from a short collar of narrow, watered violet-colored ribbon. It is another manifestation of the Pentagram, or Five-Pointed Star, because the star, viewed from any angle figures the letter 'A'. Since 'A' is the initial of one of the principal names of Deity, Adonai, or LORD, this star is a  sign of intellectual omnipotence and autocracy.

The girdle is of light-green Morocco leather, fringed below with gold, and edged with gold lace. From this belt are suspended the jewel of the preceding degree, a silver censer, and the jewel of this degree, the Phoenician letter Aleph.

The apron is of white lambskin, lined with scarlet and bordered with light green. In the middle is painted a representation of an Arabic tent, in gold. On the light blue flap is a representation of a myrtle tree of violet color, also an emblem of immortality.

The order is a broad, watered scarlet ribbon worn from right to left. On the front is embroidered in gold, a winged-globe, and under it a scarab, under which is a brilliant butterfly; all are symbols of immortality.

25° - Knight of the Brazen Serpent

This degree teaches the virtue of hospitality. One who shows hospitality to guests is obliged not to differentiate race, nationality, or religion from whoever knocks at his door. The nature of Masonry is to heal those who are in distress from moral collapses, psychological crises, diseases by superstitions, and ignorance. To save our fellows from these, to break the chains which represent moral slavery, to set men free, to be faithful and kind in every respect is the compulsory thing to do. We fulfill our destiny by re-creating ourselves, by enlarging our knowledge. The lessons of this degree teach Fulfill your destiny and re-create yourself by reformation, repentance, and enlarging your knowledge.

The jewel is a Tau cross, of gold, surmounted by a circle - the Crux Ansata of Egypt - around which a serpent is entwined. On the upright part of the cross is engraved the Hebrew word meaning 'he has suffered' or 'been wounded', and on the arms the Hebrew word given in the Bible for the brazen serpent, 'Nakhustan'.

The apron is white, lined, and edged with black; the white side spotted with golden stars and the black side with silver ones. Those on the white side represent, by their positions and distances, the Pleiades, the Hyades, Orion, and Capella. Those on the black side represent the stars of Perseus, Scorpio, and Ursa Major. In the middle of the white side is a  triangle in glory, in the center of which is the name of Deity in Phoenician characters. On the flap is a serpent in a circle, with his tail in his mouth; and in the circle so formed a scarab or beetle. Over this is a star of gold, with the letter 'R' (for Regulus) over it;  on the right side of the apron another, with the letter 'A' over it; and at the bottom of the apron another, with the letter 'F' over it. These last three letters have the same meaning as in the order explained next.

The order is a crimson ribbon, on which are embroidered the words, one under the other: OSIRIS, AHURA, OSARSIPH, MOSES. Under them, a bull, with a disk, surmounted by a crescent between his horns. This is worn from left to right; and across it, from right to left, is worn a broad, white, watered ribbon, on which are the words ISIS and CERES over a dog's head and a crescent. On the right breast, on the left breast, and at the crossing of these orders is a star of gold. Under that on the right breast is the letter 'A' (for Antares); and under that, at the crossing of the orders, the letter 'F' (for Formalhaut). On the crimson cordon is the word GEBURAH (valor) in  Hebrew; and on the white, the Hebrew word AUN (force or strength). Together they mean the generative power and the productive power of nature.

26° - Prince of Mercy

Practice forgiveness! Be tolerant! Masons are to respect all beliefs that do not dirty sacredness. Masonry is not a religion, nor do its members belong to one religious order, or any one religion. It embraces the truth in every belief and respects all of them. The truths of Masonry are contained within the religions of the world. Our task is to love all mankind; to be faithful to the agreement between the GAOTU and ourselves - we should trust that we can attain His boundless affection and compassion, the mercy in the degree's title -- that is, we can attain God's love. The lessons of this degree teach Practice mercy (forgiveness). Be tolerant. Be devoted to the teaching and diffusion of the true principles of Masonry.

The jewel is an equilateral triangle, of gold bars, with a  flaming heart of gold in the center. On the heart are the letters 'I', 'H', 'S'; and on the respective sides of the triangle 'W' on the right, 'F' on the left, and 'H' at the bottom. This jewel is suspended from a small collar of watered purple ribbon and hangs on the breast. The last three letters stand for wisdom, force, and harmony; the first three are traditional Christian initials for Iesus Hominum Salvator (the letters 'J' and 'I' are interchangeable in Latin) but which may also be read as Sapientia, Imperium, Harmonia. Thus, their Masonic meaning is the same meaning as the three upon the bars.

The apron is scarlet, with a wide border of white. In the center is an equilateral triangle formed of green bars. In the center of this is the jewel, embroidered in gold. The flap is sky-blue. The colors green, red, and white symbolize the Masonic Trinity. Green is an emblem of the infinite wisdom; red of the supreme energy, force, or power; and white, produced by the mingling of all colors, of the divine harmony.

The cordon is a broad tri-colored ribbon, green, white, and red, worn from right to left.

27° - Knight Commander of the Temple

This degree teaches the virtues of knighthood and asks its adherents to practice these virtues in life. Virtue requires duty; and both remain the same, regardless of the times. The Knight Commander of the Temple learns that he is the manager of the time, that he himself will decide when he will perform his duty; he does not wait for orders or authorization. He is his own man, and his task is to abolish distress at just the right time. 
The lessons of this degree teach Be a lover of wisdom. Be faithful to the promises you made within Freemasonry.

The jewel is the Teutonic Cross shown on the apron.

In the Liturgy, Pike describes the apron thus: "The APRON is square, of scarlet-colored lambskin, lined and edged with black. The flap is white, and on it is a described as a  cross potent sable, charged with another cross double potent or, surcharged with an escutcheon of the Empire, the principle Cross surmounted by a chief azure, seme of  France; ...". He is using the terminology of heraldry: 'potent' is a word used to describe a cross with cross pieces at the ends, 'double potent' means two cross pieces at the ends; 'sable' is black; 'or' is gold; 'charged' means superimposed upon; 'chief' means on top of; 'azure'  is blue; 'seme' means strewn or scattered. In the middle of the apron is a black key and around it a wreath of laurel. The laurel symbolizes the good opinion our brethren have for us.

The order is white, watered ribbon edged with red, worn as a collar, from which the jewel is suspended.

28° -  Knight of the Sun

Be a lover of wisdom. This degree points out seven truths: There exists an indefinable and incomprehensible principle that governs the universe. Human life is but a speck of eternity. Universal equilibrium is a result of a balance between similarities and contrasts. The absolute is the soul in its proper essence. The visible is the invisible. Evil, disaster, and misery are indispensable for universal equilibrium. Similarities are the only keys to comprehending nature. The majority of men fail to realize their errors. Masons are required to take up the arduous struggle against the error. the moral code of Masonry is more extensive than that of philosophy. 
The lessons of this degree teach Be devoted to truth, honor, loyalty, justice, and humanity.

There are three jewels. The presiding officer wears a jewel that is a representation of the sun in gold, suspended by a chain of gold and worn around the neck. The reverse is a hemisphere of gold showing the northern half of the ecliptic and a zodiac, with the signs from Taurus to Libra inclusive. The other officers wear a jewel composed of a simple seven-pointed star of gold. The remaining members of the council wear a jewel that is a gold five-pointed star. Only the jewel of the degree is shown in the illustration.

The apron is of pure white lambskin and has no edging or pattern except the interlaced pentagram,  which is traced in the middle in vermillion.

The order is a broad white watered ribbon worn as a collar. On the right side is painted an eye of gold,  a symbol of the sun or of the Deity.

29° - Knight of St. Andrew

In this degree, a Mason learns that there is no contradiction between religion and science; that religion can be better understood through science, and science can be better understood by religion. He who denies science is as fanatical as he who denies religion. Our lifetime is limited in time; thus we must see God within this limited period of our time. Yet, God transcends all time; he is an energy over and beyond time. There is no other energy that creates that energy. There is no end to that energy. Freemasonry is thus the continual effort to exalt the divine in man over the human so that we may come to better understand the nature of God in our time. 
The lessons of this degree teach Reverence and obey the Deity. Serve the truth. Protect virtue and innocence. Defend the people against tyranny.

The jewel is a St. Andrew's Cross, of gold, with a large emerald in the center, surmounted by the helmet of a knight, and with a thistle of gold between the arms at the bottom. It is worn suspended from the collar. The emerald signifies the manliness and uprightness of chivalry, its color that of the renewal of virtue, always bright and sparkling. The thistle is the national emblem of Scotland.

The banner of the Order is a green St. Andrew's Cross on a white field fringed with gold. At the end of each arm of the cross is one of the four Hebrew letters that form the Ineffable Name of Deity. Above the cross is a circle of five stars with a thistle in the center.

A Knight of St. Andrew wears a green collar edged with crimson, over the neck, and a white silk scarf,  fringed with gold and worn from left to right.

30° - Knight Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle

This is the last of the philosophical degrees. To spread the sciences, to apply the virtues, to learn the sublime doctrines which enable humanity to live as one great family - this is the school of which Masonry is engaged. It is not within the realm of Masonry to punish oppressors and tyrants who enact barriers to brotherly love and affection. They are always punished in the course of history. It is our goal to defeat the passions and fanaticism which led to oppression by spreading love and toleration. The Knight Kadosh is aware of his obligations. He is just, equitable and respectful of all ideas. He battles for freedom of conscience. He opposes those who would attack these liberties, but material revenge is not in his thoughts and philosophy. He is a lover of a great example. 
The lessons of this degree teach Labor unceasingly for the good of mankind.

The jewel is a double-headed eagle, with wings spread, and measuring about one inch across from outside to outside of the wings. The eagle rests upon a Teutonic Cross one and a half inches in size. The eagle is of silver, and the cross of gold, enameled with red.

The headband appears to be of black watered silk with tassels. The next accessory is a black leather belt with a buckle in the form of a Teutonic Cross, upon which the sword is attached with a golden chain.

The Cordon is a black watered silk ribbon, four or five inches wide, edged with narrow silver lace and worn across the body, from left to right. The letters 'K' and 'H' are embroidered in scarlet silk on the front part of the cordon. They stand for the Hebrew words meaning  'House of the Temple.' Also embroidered on the cordon are two Teutonic Crosses and a double-headed eagle, his wings extended, holding a poniard in his claws. The two heads and the blade of the poniard are of gold. The handle of the poniard is oval, one-half of it white and the other black. The colors represent the division of good and evil in the universe.


1. Council of Kadosh. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scottish Rite of California: http://www.scottishritecalifornia.org/council_of_kadosh.htm

2. Scottish Rite Degrees: Council of Kadosh. (n.d.). Retrieved from Master Mason: http://www.mastermason.com/jjcrowder/scottish/scottish.html#ck

3. Scottish Rite Council of Kadosh. (n.d.). Retrieved from MasonicDictionary.com: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/council.html

4. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida: http://www.aasrvalleyofjax.org/scottish_rite_degrees.htm