Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I'm Ready For My Last Degree

By Author Unknown

An old man lay sick in the Masonic Home, 
His face was as ashen as the white sea foam, 
His eyes were dim, his hair was gray, 
His back was bent with the trials of the way, 
He falteringly spoke, but I heard him say, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

I've come to the end of the level of time 
That leads us to that Grand Lodge sublime, 
From whose borne none ever return, 
More light in Masonry there I shall learn 
By an altar where light shall evermore shine, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

With the Apprentice's gauge, I've divided my time 
Into equal parts since life's early prime. 
And this I have found amidst life's great turmoil, 
My wages are due me, in corn, wine and oil, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

Each day from life's quarries, I've hewn a stone, 
With the gavel I've shaped them, each one alone, 
And shipped them along beyond that bright stand, 
To build me a house in that fair land, 
A spiritual house not made with hands, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

I've squared each stone by the virtue square, 
And plumbed them all true, as I shipped them there, 
With the compass I've measured the Master's designs 
And kept within due bounds, with his points and his signs, 
My blueprints are folded, I've answered his signs, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

The mortar I've made from friendship and love, 
To be spread with the Master's trowel up above, 
My apron is worn, but it's surface is white, 
My working tools will now be cold and quiet 
My trestle board's bare, and I'm going tonight, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

A few moments later the old man was dead, 
And I fancy that I could see his soul as it fled, 
Upward and onward, to the great door, 
Where he gave an alarm, and a voice did implore, 
The old man gave his answer with words once more, 
I'm ready for my last degree. 

That night in a Lodge, free from all strife and storm, 
He took that degree, his last in due form, 
So may I live like he did, to build day by day, 
A spiritual house, in that land far away, 
So, when I meet my Grand Master I can say, 
I'm ready for my last degree.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order

One of my Christmas presents from my parents was a set of books one of which was "The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order" by Christopher McIntosh. As a Mason and a fan of history, I've always found Rosicrucianism to be a fascinating subject and having joined several groups with Rosicrucian overtones I started actively pursuing the history of this group. This book by McIntosh was a great asset and I advise anyone who is interested in learning about Rosicrucianism to read this book.

Christopher McIntosh traces the history of the Rosicrucian movement from its legendary founding with the life and death of Christian Rozenkreutz as well as the discovery of Rozenkreutz's tomb 120-years after his death. McIntosh analyzes the ancient doctrines, the esoteric tradition in Germany, the influences and possible true founding with the Tubingen Circle, the aftermath of the Rosicrucian Manifestos (Fama Fraternitatis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rozenkreutz), the spread of Rosicrucianism across Europe, the relationship of alchemy and Rosicrucianism, the organization known as "The Golden and Rosy Cross", monarchs who supported Rosicrucianism, the revival in France, the group known as the "Golden Dawn", Rosicrucianism in literature, and modern Rosicrucian movements (to include Masonic ones).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Advancement in the SRICF

Well, this weekend was the third winter journey I've taken to attend the semi-annual convocation of the Wyoming College of the Societas Rosicruciana In Civitatibus Foederatis. After the prerequisite, severe winter road conditions, my traveling companions and I arrived in Riverton, WY, early Saturday evening. Along with a close friend and Frater, I went to the Masonic Lodge that night and received the Grades of the Second Order (V°, VI°, and VII°) or also known as the Teaching Grades. Words cannot even describe it all and the experience of going through those three grades.

Sunday morning, Wyoming College conferred the Grades of the First Order (I° to IV°) on four candidates, two of them from Idaho; one of whom is the current Worshipful Master of my home Lodge. The hospitality of the Wyoming Fratres was great, as always. My traveling companions and I attempted to travel back to Idaho, but our van broke down so we are spending another night and will attempt again in the morning. Now it is time for some Scotch before going to bed.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The La Ru Kaj

In January of 2013, I took a Winter course called "Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion" taught by the Anthropology Department. This was a fun class and further developed my theological studies. The final assignment was a position paper that critically analyzes a preexisting anthropological description of religious practice and applies the hypotheses and definition from Steadman and Palmer, two well-known anthropologists.


Hinduism and the Indic people have always fascinated me (not having much contact with Eastern religions); therefore, I researched the various rites within India and I came upon the pig sacrificial rite practiced by the Gond people. The Gond or Gondi makes up the largest tribe in central India, and have spread over several states within the country making them the second-largest tribe overall. The Indic people practice a variety of rituals to honor the countless gods. One of these rituals is the La Ru Kaj or pig sacrifice. The pig sacrifice of the Gond people is practice honoring the god Narayan deo so that he removes sickness and misfortune from the family thereby securing their prosperity. From the outside, Narayan deo is seen as an inter-tribal deity, but from within the tribe, they refer to him as a sun god. This god is said to be the remover of sickness and the protector of the hearth (Bhagvat 30). This rite should be a proactive event, but often is said to happen because of sickness laid upon a family member. Depending on one’s wealth will affect how the ceremony is done and how often.

Normally the sacrifice should be conducted by the head of a family every nine to twelve years using a pig, but if a family is too poor they can use a cock or rooster instead that which should then be done every three to five years. This version of the ceremony is done with just the family members present. Like what is seen in the more elaborate ceremony; the cock is presented with food and, if taken, is shown to be acceptable to the god. If the cock does not willingly take to the food, then another one must be chosen. In his book, The Gond and Bhumia of Eastern Mandla, Stephen Fuchs states that once the cock takes to the food, its head is pushed into a hole in the floor just inside the threshold of the main entrance of the house which is then filled with mud to suffocate the animal. Once dead, the cock is taken out to the courtyard, its head cut-off, blood drained, and then cut up to be boiled for a meal to be eaten by the family with a dish of rice (427).

For those who can afford it, a pig is sacrificed. The pig sacrifice or, la ru kaj (the pig’s wedding), is much more elaborate and covers a longer period. A young male pig, usually around a month old, is chosen from either the herd or a captured wildling. A sanghi, or partner, is chosen to be dedicated to Suraj Narayan, the brother of Narayan deo, and can be another young pig or a white cock. There is a dedication ceremony that involves feeding the pig before any human and then cutting pieces from the tail as well as castrating the pigs which pieces are buried near the threshold (Fuchs 430). The actual sacrifice may not take place for some time after the dedication, often a year after. During this time the pig is kept somewhat isolated and is under the care of the mistress of the family (Fuchs 431). If all males in the family are dead, then the sacrifice is omitted as only men can perform the actual sacrifice.

The sacrifice can be done any time within a year of the dedication, but is preferred after the harvest is finished when food is plentiful. Many are invited to attend such family, tribesman, members of the same caste, and the village shaman or priest, but this does vary depending on one’s wealth and resources. Once all the guests have gathered on the first day, the ceremonies start with the sacrifice of the sanghi to Suraj Narayan, which is decapitated and taken before a gum tree to be burnt (Fuchs 432). Through this ceremony and others that follow chants, singing, and incantations are used to ask the gods to accept their offerings. The body is then cut up and boiled to be eaten with rice.

Once the sanghi is sacrificed, the la ru is chased until caught and then fed. Once fed, it is taken to the threshold of the house and suffocated by various methods (Fuchs 433). At the time of death, there is a master of ceremonies, or bhandari, which invokes the acceptance of the appropriate gods. The bhandari is usually the village priest or, in his absence, a prominent man from the area. Usually, the father-in-law of the head of the family acts as the bhandari’s assistant or sonwani (Fuchs 435).

After the pig is dead they singe the hair and skin then take it to a prepared pit called the narda where it is cleaned. It is taken to the house where it is decapitated, gutted, cut-up, and ceremonially cleaned. Any dirt stained with blood is thrown into the narda (Fuchs 437). A place is made with a chauk (looks like an ‘X’) of uncooked rice where the pig’s head is placed. Above the head, a phulera, made of reeds and cotton, hangs. Upon it sit five flat cakes wrapped in leaves. The phulera is the seat of the god to come and accept the offerings and sacrifice. For this reason, once hung, nobody is to touch the phulera because it is so sacred (Fuchs 438). The bhandari is bathed at the narda then led over a carpet of leaves to the house where his feet are washed and anointed. A boy is chosen to go with the bhandari and whose foot is treated in the same manner, and whose duty it is to guard the phulera. Later this boy takes on a role as a part of what would call the deception stage of the sacrifice (Fuchs 440). After some singing, the bhandari and all the male relatives offer rice and pieces of the pig’s liver by sprinkling it upon the chauk. The other guests offer up copper coins which will go to the bhandari (Fuchs 443).

A large meal is made composed of rice and the butchered pig. All attendees are to eat it undercover and all portions of the la ru is to be eaten. After the meal is finished, liquor is served, and they celebrate throughout the night (Fuchs 444). On the 2nd day, there are no ceremonies, but they do partake of further food. When done eating all participants wash over the pit. The third day starts the finale of the sacrifice and is what I would call the deceptive stage.

In a strange fashion, the boy guardian’s foot is caused to touch the pig’s head lying upon the chauk. The boy is then taken from the house, the pig’s head is taken apart, and contents poured into a pot along with the chauk (Fuchs 446). The meal served is called the memorial meal which only men can eat. Portions of the la ru were saved to be given to the bhandari who is waiting with strips of the pig’s skin. The bhandari chases and beats the boy guardian with the strips. According to Fuchs, this act is to symbolize the boy being the scapegoat and being blamed for the death of the pig and hide the true identity of the slayer from the gods. Further deception is made by the guests who rush out of one entrance and reenter in another (447). Ending the festivities comes when the bhandari takes down the phulera, gathers the la ru’s skull bones, and throws them all into the narda. The pit is then quickly filled with mud and the ground leveled off. The bhandari then engages the mistress in a ceremony of alms (Fuchs 448); the value of the gift varies with the wealth of the family.

Stephen Fuchs produced his findings primarily from interviews with a few locals and never actually saw the ceremony occur. This may be due to the fact that this practice isn’t as popular as it once was. Fuchs asserts that many don’t practice as they are afraid of making a mistake during the practice and angering the gods (428). The recall of events that occur comes to us emic viewpoint, but the few points of analysis come from his opinion and thus we see an etic point of view. While he doesn’t directly state, one can see that this has group benefits as the family is affected not just by their hopes of prosperity granted by the gods, but also the display of generosity and status among the village. Stephen Fuchs approaches this sacrificial rite from the psychological approach. This is supported as he states the following “It is not celebrated primarily to effect a cure from sickness, but to secure the prosperity of the family through the intervention of Narayan deo” (427). The people try to quiet their fears of human weakness such as disease or misfortunes that may be out of their control.

This sacrificial practice does support the definition of religion by Steadman and Palmer as we cannot verify the supernatural claims that sacrificing this pig will oblige Narayan deo to remove sickness and ensure the prosperity of the family. Other such unverifiable claims can be seen with the phulera which is to act as the seat of the god or that the gods will be deceived by the hazing of the boy guardian.

One can see, however, the functionality of such a sacrifice. Such an act shows that the family, or at least the head of the family, is willing to sacrifice an animal that would normally be used to procreate and for later harvesting at a more convenient time. The ceremony is elaborate, costly, and the guests may include not just local villagers and thus we see a fostering of social relationships. There is also some sacrifice on the part of the guests attending as during a part of the ceremony the male guests offer up coins which will later be given to the bhandari. Such an act shows their willingness to sacrifice their own finances for the benefit of another’s family and prosperity. This acceptance of voluntary suffering will influence not just the descendants of the family to continue this sacrifice, but also, we would see the influence of caste-fellows and villagers since one has shown he is willing to suffer for others that they should reciprocate (Steadman and Palmer 154).

Approaching this from the interpretation of Steadman and Palmer, I would say that it furthers Fuchs’ viewpoint of this ceremony. Fuchs demonstrates the group and individual benefit while Steadman and Palmer do the same thing, but shows a stronger conclusion of the results of the behavior.

The ritual is complicated and lengthy, but Stephen Fuchs doesn’t seem to make many direct statements as to the benefits or school of thought one may approach this with, but from reading one can draw some intelligent conclusions as to who prospers and how this ritual developed. This combined with the viewpoints of Steadman and Palmer on voluntary sacrifice will lead the reader to a stronger conclusion to such religious behavior.


1. Fuchs, Stephen. The Gond and Bhumia of eastern Mandla. New York: Asia Publishing House, 1960. 427-449. 

2. Bhagvat, Durga. “Tribal Gods and Festivals in Central India.” Asian Folklore Studies 27 (1968): 30 

3. Steadman, Lyle B. and Palmer, Craig T. The Supernatural and Natulra Selection: The Evolution of Religion. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008. 154.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


Today is the Epiphany, or Day of the Three Kings (Three Wise Men or Three Magi), which marks the end of the 12-days of Christmas and commemorates a number of different events in the life of Jesus:  the revelation to and adoration of the Three Magi, the baptism of Christ, and the miracles at Cana; it is also sometimes known as Theophany meaning "manifestation of God."

The word "Epiphany" comes from the late Greek word "epiphaneia" meaning "manifestation or to show onto (revelation)." For Christians, it is meant to represent the revelations of Christ's birth to the magi, the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, and the miracles at the wedding in Cana when Christ turned water to wine. Epiphanytide concludes on February 2nd on a day known as Candlemas for some churches while for others it ends on Ash Wednesday. The last Sunday of the Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday. Depending on the church, the Epiphany is not always celebrated on January 6th. Some celebrate it the Sunday after the 6th while many Orthodox churches celebrate the Epiphany on January 19th. The liturgical color for the Epiphany season is white.

According to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, three wise men, or magi, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, were visited by an angel who declared the Messiah had been born and these three traveled to Bethlehem, following a star in the sky said to rest over where Jesus was born. When they found the baby Jesus they praised his glory and bestowed the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were respectively symbolic of His royal standing, His divine birth, and His mortality.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Officers of the Royal Arch Chapter

Royal Arch Masonry consists of the following degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch. The first 3-degrees have leadership like that found in the Blue Lodge in which a Worshipful Master presides. The basic organizational unit for Royal Arch Masonry is the Chapter and is composed of the following officers: Excellent High Priest, King, Scribe, Treasurer, Secretary, Captain of the Host, Principal Sojourner, Royal Arch Captain, the three Masters of the Veil, Chaplain, and Sentinel.

The High Priest presides over a Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry in America, but is equivalent to the First Principal in Royal Arch Masons found in England, Canada, and other places around the world. The Excellent High Priest represents Jeshua who oversaw the Jewish council that presided over the second building of the Temple (the central story of the Royal Arch degree) in Jerusalem and is the one who charges Zerubbabel to travel to the Persian court in the Order of the Red Cross. According to the Bible, the High Priest was the supreme religious leader of the Israelites and was a hereditary position stemming from Aaron, the brother of Moses. Once the Temple of Solomon was constructed, the High Priest was the lone person who could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and give sacrifice to God; the High Priest also had duties over other classes of priest and other sacred duties. For the Christian, Christ is the greatest High Priest whereby He sacrificed himself for the atonement of the world. This officer has the honorary title of "Excellent" which stems from the Latin word "excellentem" meaning "superior, excellent, or of first-class." The word "high" is coming to us from Germanic languages; "Heh" (Anglian), "heah" (West Saxon), and haukhaz (Proto-Germanic) translate as "of great height, lofty, tall, exalted, high-class." The word priest is rooted in the Latin word "prester" meaning "priest or elder."

While the title would denote a chief authority, the King in the Chapter is second-in-command. This officer is equivalent to the Second Principal in Royal Arch Masons found in England, Canada, and other places around the world. The King represents Zerubbabel, a Prince of Judah, who is, according to the Bible, the grandson of King Jehoiachin (also referred to as Jehoiakim or Jeconiah) who was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and resulted in the Jewish captivity in Babylon which would eventually be conquered by the Persian Empire. During the reign of King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed, by decree, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and Holy Temple. Zerubbabel is portrayed in the Royal Arch degree, Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Knight Masons, and degrees in the Scottish Rite. The word "king" is rooted in the Germanic word "k├Ânig" meaning "ruler."

The third-in-command in the Chapter is known as the Scribe and who represented the Prophet Haggai. In Canada and England, the Royal Arch Masons use the term "Third Principle" rather than "Scribe", but the American use of Scribe hails back to Haggai who would have served as the scribe, or secretary, of the Grand Council charged with rebuilding the Temple. Haggai was a Prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which is the central legend of Royal Arch Masonry, and the author of the Book of Haggai. Haggai is the Hebrew language that translates to "my holiday". Of his personal life, little is known except that he was in a Levite, but according to Albert Mackey, Haggai was born during the Babylonian captivity and was a young man at the time of liberation by Cyrus though Ray Denslow differs in that Haggai was old by the time the rebuilding of the Temple had started. According to the 6th Chapter of the Book of Ezra, Haggai was instrumental in invigorating the Jewish people into rebuilding the Temple. The etymological root of Scribe is the word Latin word "scriba", meaning writer, from past participle stem of "scribere" meaning to "to write" from the proto-Indo-European word "skribh" meaning "to cut". The etymology is applicable to the duties of Haggai. Historically, scribes have also been used as notaries, copyists, interpreters of law (lawyers or judges), accountants, ministers, and journalists. Much of ancient history was recorded by a scribe, by one name or another. In some instances, scribes were considered a part of the royal court, performing the previously described duties for monarchs, as would have been the case for Haggai.

The senior appointed officer of the Chapter is the Captain of the Host and represents the general of the Jewish troops who returned from Babylon. This officer has duties related to those found with the Marshall (or Master of Ceremonies) in the Blue Lodge as well as some duties of the Senior Deacon. The word "captain" comes from the Late Latin word "capitaneus" meaning "chief" which comes from the Latin "caput" meaning "head." The word "host" stems from the Old French word "ost" meaning "army" which is rooted in the Medieval Latin word "hostis" meaning "a stranger, foreigner, or guest."

Next in line is Principal Sojourner who has duties in line with the Senior Deacon. A sojourner signifies a person living out of his own country and as a candidate represents sojourning Jews returning to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity ended, the Principle Sojourner acted as their guide and spokesman. The word "Principal" stems from the Latin word "principalis" meaning "first in importance; original, primitive," or from the Latin "princeps" meaning "first man, chief, leader." The word "Sojourner" is rooted in the Old French word "sejorn" meaning "to dwell for a time."

Corresponding to the Junior Deacon in a Blue Lodge, the Royal Arch Captain is the sixth in line for a Royal Arch Chapter. The Captain of the King's Guards and guarded the fourth veil of the Tabernacle. His banner was white and adorned with a lion representing the tribe of Judah. The word "Royal" stems from the Latin word "regalis" meaning "royal or regal" which is itself rooted in the word "rex" meaning king. The word "Arch" stems from the Latin word "arcus" meaning "a bow." As mentioned above, Captain is rooted in the Latin word "caput."

Following the Royal Arch Captain are the three Masters of the Veil. In a Mark Master Lodge, the Masters of the Veil correspond to the Overseers. Most state that they don't have a corresponding position within a Blue Lodge, but, in my opinion, they appear to correspond with the Stewards of a Lodge having duties that pertain to the conferral of the Royal Arch degrees. The First Master of the Veil guards the first veil, his banner was colored blue, the banner was adorned with an eagle, and represented the Tribe of Dan. The Second Master of the Veil guards the second veil, his banner was colored purple, the banner was adorned with a man, and represented the Tribe of Reuben. The Third Master of the Veil guards the third veil, his banner was colored red, the banner was adorned with an Ox, and represented the Tribe of Ephraim. The word "Master" is rooted in the medieval Latin word "magister" meaning "one having control or authority." The word "Veil" stems from the Latin word "Vela" meaning "sail, curtain, or covering" from the Proto-Indo-European word "weg" meaning "to weave a web." 

Just as in the Blue Lodge, the Chaplain is charged with scriptural lessons to the candidate as well as other ritualistic duties during the conferral of degrees. Traditionally a Chaplain is a member of the clergy who is attached to a private chapel, organization, military unit, institution, or society. This title comes from Old French "chapelein" meaning "clergyman" deriving from the Medieval Latin word "cappellanus" meaning the same.

The final appointed officer of the Royal Arch Chapter is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The Sentinel guards the Chapter against without the door to ensure the Companions are not caught or taken by surprise by those wishing to cause harm or those who are not entitled to be there. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is their job to prevent intrusion by enemies or those unauthorized.


1. Arch. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

2. Captain. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

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4. Chaplain. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

5. Chaplain. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Encyclopedia:

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8. Host. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

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10. King. (n.d.). Retrieved from

11. King. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Encyclopedia:

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13. Priest. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

14. Principal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

15. Royal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

16. Scribe. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

17. Sentinel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

18. Sentinel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Encyclopedia:

19. Sojourn. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

20. Sojourner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary:

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22. Veil. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: