Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Tomorrow, people are dressing up in costumes to celebrate Halloween. This time of the year is one for celebration and superstition. The name Halloween is derived from "All Hallow's Eve." Hallow means sanctified or holy. To learn of this holiday, we look to the Catholic Church and previous pagan holidays. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.

To start off, November 1st is All Saints Day which was established on that day by Pope Gregory IV which was a day to honor all saints and martyrs of the faith. The Pope set it to this day to have it coincide with the harvests so as to provide food for the pilgrims. It was Pope Sixtus IV, nearly 6-centuries later, who gave All Saints Day a vigil which is the eve of a festival or holy day which became known as "All Hallow's Eve" and can also be named "All Saints' Eve." Many believe Sixtus did this to substitute a feast day over a pagan holiday.

Prior to this substitution, there were pagan festivals in place, the most well-known is the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts; Samhain is said to mean "summer's end" in Gaelic. There is evidence of this festival that dates back two millennia in what is now Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and northern France. Pagans, and Wiccans today, believe that the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living became blurred on this day and that the ghosts of the dead would return to the world and make it easier for priests to predict the future. This holiday also marked the end of the year and November 1st marked the beginning of winter to the ancient Celts.

The modern practice of wearing costumes goes back to the ancient Celts who wore costumes to trick the spirits that were among them. Bowls of food were also placed without the doors of their houses to prevent spirits and ghosts from entering the premises. After the Roman Empires' conquest of Celtic territory, two Roman festivals were combined with Samhain. The first one was Feralia, a day that commemorated the passing of the dead, and the second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the inclusion of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that are practiced today on Halloween.

All Hallow's Eve being a Catholic holiday, it is not surprising that it came to America through Maryland, a predominately Catholic colony/state. Those early Halloweens were marked with parties, public celebrations of the harvest, and sharing stories of the dead. Halloween wouldn't be popularized until the second half of the 19th century when America was flooded with Irish immigrants. Over the years, Halloween lost its superstitious nature and became a secular holiday.

I hope everyone enjoys this night and stays safe. Happy All Hallow's Eve.


1. Halloween 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween 

2. Miller, J. G. (2003). History of All Hallows' Eve. Retrieved from Catholic Culture: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/months/10_2.cfm 

3. Radford, B. (2017, September 18). History of Halloween. Retrieved from Live Science: http://www.livescience.com/40596-history-of-halloween.html 

4. Winick, S. D., & Saylor, N. (2017, October). Selected Halloween & Día de Muertos Resources. Retrieved from Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tarot Card of the Month: Death

The Tarot Card for October is Death. Death is also referred to as Hades in some Tarot decks. Death is the Thirteenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. Death is associated with the planet Pluto (a planet named after the Roman equivalent to Hades), the element of Water, and the zodiacal sign of Scorpio. It should be noted that in older times this card was associated with Mars, but in modern times has been associated with Pluto.

Death is one of the most feared cards in a Tarot Deck, and one of the most misunderstood. Many believe this card indicates physical death, but it merely represents change, transition, transformation, new beginnings, and metamorphosis.

This card depicts a skeleton dressed in black armor, riding a white horse. The skeleton is carrying a black flag that is emblazoned with a white, five-petal rose. A royal figure appears to be dead on the ground, while a young woman, child, and bishop plead with the skeletal figure to spare them. In the background, there is a boat floating down the river, similar to the Egyptian boats that would carry the dead. On the horizon, the sun sets between two towers.

The skeleton reminds of the mortality of man as well as representing the Grim Reaper, that Messenger of Death. The armor symbolizes invincibility and that death will come, no matter what, and its dark color is a symbol of mourning and the mysterious nature of death. The horse is the color of purity and a symbol of strength and power. The white rose represents beauty, purification, immortality, resurrection, or rejuvenation; all of them concepts of death. The number five (5) represents change and health. The one dead and the three pleading human figures remind us that death does not spare anyone no matter their lot in life. The boat represents transition or transformation. The setting sun reminds us of the cycles of life and death with its continuous setting and rising.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Officers of a Chapel of St. Thomas of Acon

Known as the Commemorative Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, this order exists to reaffirm Knights Templar’s vows, is a revival of a medieval knighthood started during the crusades, and the central myth of the order centers on Saint Thomas a Becket. The basic organizational unit for this order is known as a Chapel and is composed of the following officers: Worthy Master, Eminent Prior, Marshal, Treasurer, Secretary, Deputy Marshal, Almoner, 1st Working Knight, 2nd Working Knight, 3rd Working Knight, 4th Working Knight, Herald, Doorkeeper, Cellarer, and Sentry. Unique to this group, only the Worthy Master, Treasurer, and Sentry are elected. The rest are appointed by the Worthy Master upon his election.

The presiding officer of the Chapel is known as the Worthy Master. He presides over the business meetings and knighting of new initiates. When the medieval order first began, it was the Prior who led the order, but in 1279 records speak of the "Master of the whole Order of St. Thomas of Acon." Since that time, the senior officer of the Chapel has been the Worthy Master. The installation ceremony expresses the historic humility exuded by Worthy Masters and by Jesus Christ. Once seated, the Worthy Master is presented with a baton or scepter affixed on the upper end with a bronze escallope shell. The honorary title of "Worthy" is rooted in the Old English weorþ meaning "valuable, appreciated, highly thought-of, deserving, honorable, noble, or of high rank." The word "Master" is rooted in the Latin word "magister" meaning "chief, head, or teacher."

As mentioned above, it was the Prior who originally led this order and while the Prior is now second to the Worthy Master, this officer still presides over several aspects of the order. Officially titled, Eminent Prior, this officer presides over the opening and closing as well as taking part in the initiation ritual; some of his ritualistic duties correspond to the Chaplain in the Blue Lodge. Prior is a traditional title used to represent a monk or priest who is the head of a religious house or order, would rank below that of the abbot. The honorary title of "Eminent" stems from the Latin word "eminentem" meaning "prominent or high." Prior comes to us from the Latin tongue and is used to mean "former, previous, first, etc." from which it was used to figuratively as "superior (in rank), forefather, and better."

The Marshal has duties similar to the Captain General in the Commandery and with the Marshal and Senior Deacon of the Lodge; he is the Master of Ceremonies and conductor of candidates for the Chapel. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged with arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshal comes from the Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from the Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant."

The Treasurer and Secretary have duties similar to those found in other Masonic and non-Masonic organizations as the financial and administrative officers respectively. The difference in this organization is that the Secretary is appointed by the Worthy Master instead of being elected as the Treasurer is.

Next is the Deputy Marshal who assists the Prior in the opening of a Chapel and the Marshal during initiations. This officer is similar to the Junior Deacon of the Blue Lodge as he ensures the security of the Chapel and like the Wardens of the Commandery ensures all present are members of the order.

Charity is pivotal to the Order of St. Thomas of Acon and as such one of the officers of the Chapel is known as the Almoner. Traditionally, an Almoner is an officer who was in charge of distributing alms or charitable offerings to the poor, the needy, and the destitute. In some Masonic Lodges that have an Almoner, this officer also oversaw the needs of the Brethren in that Lodge. Almoner is derived from the Latin "alemosinarius" meaning connected with alms which comes from variations of "alemosyna" meaning "pity or mercy."

Sitting in the West of the Chapel are Four Working Knights. Corresponding to the duties of the Four Ancients in the SRICF as lecturers or historians of the Chapel. These officers take the name of Knight as these officers relate the chivalric history of the order and the story of St. Thomas a Becket. The word "knight" comes from the Old English word "cniht" which was taken from Middle High German "kneht" meaning "boy, youth, servant, or vassal." Knight started referring to a military servant of a king or lord in the 11th century and after the Hundred Years War started becoming important as a rank of nobility. 

Similar to the Junior Deacon and Marshall within the Blue Lodge, the Herald attends to the door of the Chapel and presents newly initiated knights of the order. The etymological roots of Herald originate from the old French word 'heraut' meaning "messenger or envoy" which is said to stem from an older Germanic word "hariwald" meaning "commander of an army." Some argue about the etymology as Heralds were said to evolve from minstrels and were originally attached more with tournaments than actual warfare or the commanding of armies. To counter this though, it also thought that this title was original with commanders, but came to be applied to lower officers whose chief duty was to make proclamations. An alternate theory is that Herald is derived from the Old Germanic word "haren" which means "to call out." A Herald was traditionally an officer who conveyed messages or proclamations, acted as diplomats or ambassadors for monarchs, served as Master of Ceremonies, presided over tournaments, and oversaw the adoption of arms. 

The inner guard of the Chapel is known as the Doorkeeper and ensures the security of the Chapel while it is in session. His duties correspond to the Junior Deacon and the less used office of Pursuivant. Traditionally, a doorkeeper, as the name implies, is the keeper or guard of the door into the chapel. In researching this office, it corresponds to the concierges of a hotel or a porter. The word "door" is rooted in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages with minor variations such as duru, dor, or dyrr. Keeper comes from late Old English "cepan" meaning to seize, hold, or care for.

The office of Cellarer is a peculiar one in Freemasonry. The duty of the Cellarer is simple, to fill in for an officer of the Chapel when that officer is absent. This position is significant because the Knight appointed to this position should be knowledgeable with all the various officer positions of the Chapel. The term "cellarer" seems to have been selected as a tie back to our historical roots as the original Order started out as a monastic order. Traditionally, a Cellarer is an official in a monastery who is responsible for the provisioning of food and drink; the abbot is concerned with the spiritual aspects of monastic life, the Cellarer was in charge of the physical aspect. The etymology of Cellarer is the Latin word "cellarium" meaning "pantry, storeroom, or group of cells."

Usually, the outer guard of a Masonic group is appointed by the presiding officer, but within the Chapel, the Sentry is elected by the members of the Chapel per the Constitution and By-Laws. Historically, a Sentry is a guard at a point of passage, particularly to the entrance of a military base or encampment. Being the revival of an order of knighthood the use of Sentry is appropriate for this officer. This word is believed to be rooted in the Latin word "sentire" translating as "feel or perceive by the senses." Some scholars believe that the word was originally a worn-down version of the sanctuary. Regardless, by the 1630s, the word "sentry" was being used to designate "military guards posted around a camp."


1. Online Etymology Dictionary. n.d. https://www.etymonline.com/

2. Constitution of St. Thomas of Acon, USA. n.d. http://www.stthomasacon.org/Constitutions_USA_rev1.pdf?

3. Bray, J. H. (n.d.). Order of St. Thomas of Acon. Retrieved from Grand Master's Council: http://www.stthomasacon.org/jhbray.html

4. Forey, A. (n.d.). The Order of St Thomas of Acre. Retrieved from The ORB: http://the-orb.arlima.net/encyclop/religion/monastic/st._thos.html

5. The Golden Legend: St. Thomas Becket. (n.d.). Retrieved from Fordham University: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/gl-vol2-thomasbecket.asp

6. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. n.d. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/almoner

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Founding of Star Garnet Council

Tonight Star Garnet Council No.560 was founded tonight in Boise, ID. This date was chosen as this weekend is the Northwest York Rite Conference and we would be able to have several dignitaries attend the consecration of this AMD Council including David D. Goodwin, the Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America; Glen Cook, Right Venerable Senior Grand Warden; and Joseph MacIntyre, Grand Superintendent of the Northwest US. There were also in attendance Brothers from Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Utah. I am honored to serve as the Founding Senior Warden for the council.

Star Garnet was selected as the name as this gem is it is the official state gem of Idaho. There are also only two places in the world you can find the star garnet - in India and Idaho. More precious than either star rubies or star sapphires, the Idaho garnet is usually dark purple or plum in color, with four rays in the star. The mountains of Idaho contain veins of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, copper, and many other rare minerals - among these rare minerals are gems like the star garnet, jasper, opal, jade, topaz, zircon, and tourmaline which is why Idaho's nickname is "The Gem State."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Four Elements

By Anne Bradstreet

The Fire, Air, Earth and water did contest 
Which was the strongest, noblest and the best, 
Who was of greatest use and might'est force; 
In placide Terms they thought now to discourse, 
That in due order each her turn should speak; 
But enmity this amity did break 
All would be chief, and all scorn'd to be under 
Whence issu'd winds & rains, lightning & thunder 
The quaking earth did groan, the Sky lookt black 
The Fire, the forced Air, in sunder crack; 
The sea did threat the heav'ns, the heavn's the earth, 
All looked like a Chaos or new birth: 
Fire broyled Earth, & scorched Earth it choaked 
Both by their darings, water so provoked 
That roaring in it came, and with its source 
Soon made the Combatants abate their force 
The rumbling hissing, puffing was so great 
The worlds confusion, it did seem to threat 
Till gentle Air, Contention so abated 
That betwixt hot and cold, she arbitrated 
The others difference, being less did cease 
All storms now laid, and they in perfect peace 
That Fire should first begin, the rest consent, 
The noblest and most active Element.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2019 Masonic Week

Here is the tentative schedule of events for the 2019 Masonic Week that will be held from February 21st, 2019, to February 24th, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City near the Reagan National Airport.

Thursday, February 21st, 2019



7:30am - Trinity Chapel No.2 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA 
Burney W. Brandel, Worthy Master
Tom Taylor, Secretary
10:00am - Grand Council of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA 
Joe R. Manning, Jr., Grand Master 
Matthew D. Dupee, Grand Prior 
Brandon Yarbrough, Grand Secretary
Noon - Festive Board of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA 

1:30pm - Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor 
David A. Grindle, Grand Preceptor 
Lawrence E. Tucker, Grand Recorder
3:00pm - Potomac Court No.107 of the Masonic Order of Athelstan 

4:15pm - Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan
Bryce B. Hildreth, Provincial Grand Master of the USA 
John A. Bridegroom, Provincial Grand Secretary
6:30pm - Order of Athelstan Dinner

8:00pm - Royal Ark Mariner degree of the Allied Masonic Degrees

8:30pm - Knight of Constantinople degree of the Allied Masonic Degrees

Friday, February 22nd, 2019


7:00am - Breakfast sponsored by the Convent General KYCH 

8:15am - Grand College of Rites of the USA 
D. Allen Surratt, Grand Chancellor, KGC
Gerald E. Klein, Grand Registrar
9:00am - Ladies Breakfast (no cost) 

9:00am - Allied Masonic Chair Degrees
9:00am - Installed Sovereign Master
10:15am - Installed Supreme Ruler
10:45am - Commander Noah
11:15am - Knight Commander of the Red Branch of Eri
10:30am - Society of Blue Friars 
S. Brent Morris, BF, Grand Abbot
Arturo de Hoyos, BF, Deputy Grand Abbot 
Richard E. Fletcher, Secretary General
Noon - Lunch sponsored by the Grand Council of Knight Masons, USA 

1:30pm - Grand Council of Knight Masons, USA 
William R. Miller, Great Chief
J. David Cashion, Grand Scribe
4:15pm - Grand College of America of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest 
Reese Lenwood Harrison, Jr., K.G.C., G.C. Grand Preceptor 
Lawrence E. Tucker, K.G.C., K.C. Grand Registrar
John Donohoo, Preceptor, Grand Preceptor's Tabernacle "A"
6:30pm - Brotherhood Banquet 

6:30pm - The Great Priory of America of the Chevaliers Bienfasants de la Cite Sainte 

9:00pm - Ye Antient Order of Corks

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

7:00am - All Masonic Breakfast

8:15am - Scarlet Cord Degrees of the Allied Masonic Degrees 
8:15am - First Grade (Ostiarius or Doorkeeper) 
8:45am - Second Grade (Lector) 
9:15am - Third Grade (Fellow) 
9:45am - Fourth Grade (Councillor) 
10:30am - Nine Muses Council No.13 of the Allied Masonic Degrees 

11:45am - The Philalethes Society Luncheon
R. Stephen Doan, FPS, President 
Terry L. Tilton, FPS, Secretary 
1:30pm - Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA 
David Dixon Goodwin, KGC, Sovereign Grand Master 
Clyde Schoolfield, Grand Secretary
2:00pm - Ladies Afternoon Tea 

5:30pm - Social Hour 

6:30pm - All Masonic Banquet 

8:45pm - Masonic Order of the Bath
Blaine H. Simons, Most Honorable Commander-General
William G. Snyder, Keeper of the Bath Records 

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

08:30am - Washington Monument Assemblage of the Operatives, USA Region (I° to VII°) 
David C. Ladd VI°, Deputy Master Mason
09:00am - Lodge of Menatzchim V° of the Operatives (V°, VI°, & VII° only) 
Donald L. McAndrews VII°, Deputy Master Mason
10:30am - Lodge of Harodim VI° of the Operatives (VI° & VII° only) 
George R. Haynes, VII°, Senior Passed Master
Noon - Operatives Brunch (I° to VII°)
George R. Haynes, VII°, Deputy Grand Master Mason 
Alan R. Beidel, VI°, Regional Clerk

Monday, October 1, 2018

Knight Commander of Zerubbabel

The Knight Masons, an invitational appendant body stemming from the Royal Arch, is considered a great honor in itself, but this body also awards to Knights who "exhibited the precepts of Knight Masonry above and beyond the call of duty" the Knight Commander of Zerubbabel. The award takes the name of Zerubbabel who is a central character in the three degrees of Knight Masonry: Knight of the Sword, Knight of the East, and Knight of the East and West. The Knight Commander of Zerubbabel was created under the auspices of Most Excellent Great Chief of the Grand Council of Knight Masons, USA, in the Fall of 2011.

The Past Excellent Chiefs act as a nominating committee for their respective Council. This nomination is passed on to the Grand Superintendent of that jurisdiction before being sent onto the Great Chief who, along with the Deputy Great Chief and Grand Senior Knight, will choose no more than one recipient per jurisdiction as long as it doesn't violate the 5% Rule. The 5% Rule means that no more than 5% of any Council or jurisdiction’s total current membership (as determined by the Grand Scribe) may be entitled to receive the Knight Commander of Zerubbabel. The Knight Commander of Zerubbabel may not be given to any past or present elected officers of the Grand Council, including Past Great Chiefs.

The recipient of Knight Commander of Zerubbabel receives a jewel that is a silver Celtic cross enameled in shamrock green. In the center of the cross is a circular emerald green field with one gold equilateral triangle inset into a green field on which are superimposed two Crossed Swords, encircled in gold with the words "KNIGHT COMMANDER OF ZERUBBABEL." The jewel is suspended from a green silk ribbon with a red silk ribbon superimposed in the center.