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.


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4. What Are The Scottish Rite Degrees? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Jacksonville, Florida: