Friday, November 15, 2019

The Sword and the Trowel


Freemasonry, a fraternity whose past is lost in the fogs of time. The earliest Lodge records are dated to July 31, 1599, in Edinburgh. There are other, older documents such as the Regius Poem (or Halliwell Manuscript) which dates Freemasonry back to 926 AD in York, England, and retells the story of King Athelstan forming a General Assembly of the Craft.

There are also the Cooke Manuscript, Landsdowne Manuscript, Roberts Manuscript, Briscoe Manuscript, and Sloane Manuscript; each one gives its own theory as to the creation of Freemasonry and each of these manuscripts is worthy of its own paper. There are also theories involving the Roman Collegium of Artificers, the Comacine Masters, King Alfred, King Athelstan, and the Carolingian Dynasty.

This article centers on one of my favorite romanticized theories: that our venerable institution was born out of a group of exiled knights, martyred by a greedy tyrant, and betrayed by their pontiff. I’m talking, of course, about the Knights Templar.

While the exact date is debated to this day, it is believed that sometime in 1119 (most likely toward the end), Hugh de Payens and a contingent of knights established the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Knights Templar; according to William, Archbishop of Tyre, it was nine knights while Michael the Syrian, Patriarch of Antioch, spoke of thirty knights. The Templar first received recognition from Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, which would occur in January of 1120 at the Council of Nablus. At the Council of Nablus in 1120, Warmund donated some land to the Knights Templar and the King gave the knights the Stables of Solomon as their residence as well as some villages.

The Templar order wouldn't receive papal recognition for a decade, first by Pope Honorius II, and then, in 1139, by Pope Innocent II who issued Omne Datum Optimum, Latin for "Every Good Gift." This papal bull allowed the Templars to keep their spoils of war, placing donations directly under papal protection, and exempting them from paying tithe to the Roman Catholic Church. This proclamation also added a priest class to the hierarchy answerable only to the Grand Master.

The Order was governed by what is known as "The Rule" which was originally written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, nephew of Andre de Montbard, who was one of the founding knights and future Grand Masters. The Rule covered all aspects of the life of the Knights Templar. The Rule included topics such as knight renouncing his former life and property, dress, eating, prayers, the hierarchy of the order, penalties, conventional life, penitence, and the manner of his reception into the order.

The Order became very popular among the European nobility and would exponentially grow in numbers and wealth with a presence across Europe and the Levant. The Templars would become known for their protection of pilgrims to the Holy Land while also being known for their impact during military operations. They would be mythologized by their financial acumen as well as their downfall in the 14th century culminating in the martyrdom of Jacques DeMolay. Even today there are many theories and myths about the order before and after their suppression by the French king, Philip. The Templars became associated with the rise of Freemasonry, the Holy Grail, alternative theories on Christ, and occultism.


If you’re not familiar with the arrest, suppression, and dissolution of the medieval Templars, let me recall the story. By the 14th century, the Templars were headquartered on the island of Cyprus and although they had lost the Holy Land, they were still a financial and military powerhouse. Many historians declare that they had become haughty and arrogant, and earned the disdain of monarchal and ecclesiastical authorities.

On Friday, October 13, 1307, throughout the Kingdom of France, agents of King Philip IV or Philip the Fair, simultaneously placed the Templars in France under arrest. The French King had the Templars charged with heresy and many other charges, most of which were identical to the charges which had previously been leveled against Pope Boniface VIII. The initial charges held against the Templars numbered in five:
1. They renounced Christ and spit upon the cross during initiation into the Order.2. Men were stripped to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth.3. The neophyte (novice) was told that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly.4. The neophyte wore a cord day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters.5. Priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass.
These charges would later increase, somewhere between 86 and 127.

Following the arrests in France, Popes would issue 10 Papal Bulls condemning and dismantling the Templar Order. The first bull, Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, Latin for "Pastoral Preeminence," was issued by Pope Clement V on November 22, 1307, and ordered the arrest of all Templars throughout Christendom and the seizure of all their properties.

Despite this request, not all monarchs complied immediately; some did not believe the accusations and required more force by the Church for the arrests, confiscation, and investigation to occur in places outside of France.

Pope Clement V in 1308 created an Ecumenical Council that was in charge of investigating the charges leveled against the Templar order. The Council wouldn’t meet until 1311 and its principal purpose was to formally withdraw the papal support given to Knights Templar as well as dealing with the massive properties that they had accumulated over the centuries.

Vox in Excelso, Latin for "A Voice from on High," was issued by Pope Clement V in 1312. This bull formally dissolved and removed all Papal support from the Templar Order, but did not wholly condemn the Templars which goes along with his actions of secretly absolving the Templar Order with the Chinon Parchment. Several more bulls had to be issued as clergy and monarchs alike were attempting to take over the former Templar lands, particularly since the Templars owned most of Southern France.

Now since October 13, 1307, Jacques DeMolay had been imprisoned in France. During his interrogation in late October 1307, De Molay confessed that the Templar initiatory rites included denying Christ and stepping on the cross. It is said he was forced to write a letter, and after all of this occurred, King Phillip forced his new Papal puppet (Clement V) to order the arrest of all Templars throughout Christendom (which we saw in the form of Pastoralis Praeeminentiae.

In December 1307, DeMolay recanted his confession to two Cardinals. DeMolay was further tortured and coerced into confessing to the charges of Philip. In 1309, DeMolay would recant again and would again face torture by the French king.

The most common method of torture was known as "strappado" where the victim's hands, at the wrist, are bound behind the back. Their bound wrists would be connected to a rope that was hung over a high beam whereby they would be lifted up, dropped, and stopped suddenly which would cause damage to the arms and shoulders. Other torture methods include strapping victims to the rack, which could cause major bone and ligament damage, and lathering the feet with lard which would be held over a fire until the feet would be roasted or burned away. Under this kind of cruelty, it is not unreasonable to see that most would confess to any crime at the promise of stopping the torture.

On the 18th of March 1314, De Molay and some other Templar leaders were dragged before the public. It had been seven (7) long years and finally, they were to receive the sentence agreed upon by the Cardinals, which was supposed to be lifelong imprisonment. To the surprise and dismay of both the crowd and Cardinals, Jacques De Molay and Geoffrey de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, stood up and stated they were only guilty of betraying their Order by giving into torture and confessing to these false charges. While the Cardinals were meeting to deal with this, the incensed King Phillip pronounced that De Molay and De Charney were relapsed heretics to be burnt at the stake. A pyre was set up on a small island on the Seine near Notre Dame Cathedral. Contrary to the belief of the conventional "burning stake/pyre", it could not have been a stake with wood and accelerant at the base as the victim would die within minutes from asphyxiation. The fire and heat would rise and the flames would be swallowed, burning the lungs, and soon filling with fluid thereby causing asphyxiation. For De Molay to have lasted for a while and slowly burn, it would have required a pyre built by a stake in the center with a ring of fire, most likely hot coals, around it (think of the point within a circle as a diagram), which would cause an oven effect cooking him slowly and burning him from the feet up. Eyewitness testimony said that De Molay showed no sign of fear and it said during the slow death of burning at the stake, he cursed the Pope and King, saying that their deaths would be avenged and that those would join him in the Afterlife. Whether he really cursed them or not, both the Pope and French King died within a year. The death of Jacques DeMolay is the end of the written and accepted history of the Templar Order. The fall of the Templars and the death of De Molay though started many myths that endure to this day.

Templar Suppression Outside of France

The suppression of the Templars was particularly strong in France as King Philip had a great influence over the Pope, a childhood friend, that the Papacy moved relocated to Avignon for nearly 67-years. However, as previously mentioned, this order of suppression was resisted or completely ignored in other European countries.

In Portugal, the order continued to exist and simply changed their name to “the Order of Christ.” In Germany, trials were held and which didn’t result in convictions; this may have been due to the fact that the German Master of the Temple and 20 handpicked knights showed up in full battle array. It is generally believed that the German Templars joined either the Knights Hospitallers or Teutonic Knights. In England, King Edward II who had ascended the throne in 1307 was unwilling to suppress the order which had served him, his father, and the Throne of England faithfully. It wasn’t he was reminded (“threatened”) by the King of France and the Pope himself that he took any action to suppress the Templars, but by then they had plenty of time to flee.

With this slow start in other countries, it is easy to see how the Templars were capable of getting away and how easy it is for so many continuation myths to appear. Going back to France, we have to know that only a small percentage of the 3,000 knights had been arrested, and across Europe, there were roughly 15,000 Templar properties and the Templar fleet in the port of La Rochelle disappeared overnight.

Continuation Myths

One theory surrounded Switzerland where Duke Leopold of Hapsburg (Leopold I of Austria) invaded the then poor farming nation expecting little resistance from the poor farming communities. What he faced was a military capable force that cost him 2,000 knights in a single day and forced him to retreat. Many believe it was the Templars who taught the Swiss military tactics. Others claim that during an ambush at St. Gotthard Pass was led by “armed white knights.” It is interesting to note that the Swiss flag (a white cross on a red field) is the inverse of the Templar uniform (a red cross on a white field), and now it is from the Swiss that the Vatican gets soldiers who guard the Pope. Switzerland is also known for its large banking and financial institutions just as the Templars were in the Middle Ages.

There are many popular myths about the continuation of the Knights in Scotland. One such theory is that the exiled Knights played a significant role in the Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn which occurred on St. John’s Day, 1314. For their assistance, Robert the Bruce is said to have instituted the Knights of the Rosy Cross and awarded it to those knights who served the Bruce faithfully. The Knights of the Rosy Cross is now the second degree conferred by the Royal Order of Scotland.

The most famous of Templar legends in Scotland is known as the D’Aumont Legend. This legend states that Pierre d’Aumont, the Preceptor of Auvergne, with several knights, fled from France to Scotland disguised as operative Masons.

Now, you might be skeptical as to this theory, but it is not as insane as one might think. Stepping back a bit, the Templars were a financial powerhouse. Part of this was from the donations of land and money from knights entering into service or from grateful monarchs for the protection and order they gave the land. The knights didn’t just sit on the land or even just put in fortresses. No, they put the land to use. They built farms, leased the land, and, more importantly, built mills. These mills were a large revenue for the Templars, and it took stone Masons to build these mills and all of their other edifices. The Templars were a large employer of our operative Masonic Brothers, particularly in France. So, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that a group of knights would be able to disguise themselves and flee from the persecution.

Now according to this legend, D’Aumont is said to have adopted the name “Franc Macons” in homage of their disguise which turned into “Free Masons” as they traveled to England. Having said all of this, this legend is highly disputed as records show that Imbert Blanke was the Preceptor of Auvergne, not D’Aumont.

All of that said, “The fact remains that there is no trace of chivalric degrees in Freemasonry prior to Ramsay's Oration." These are the words of Stephen Dafoe in his book, Compasses and the Cross.

Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay is credited with giving a speech that would give birth to the various theories Masonic Knighthood. He was born on 9 January circa 1681 in Ayr (pronounced “air”), Scotland. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh he was employed (through much of his life) as a tutor to the children of the aristocracy. Ramsay became a Freemason on March 26, 1729, at Horn Lodge in the Palace Yard in Westminster. In 1730, Ramsay was employed in France and here it is said he was a member Louis l'Argent Lodge where he held the office of Orator. He is said to have been a Grand Orator, but it seems to be more of an honorary title held between Lodges as at the time there was no Grand Lodge formed in France prior to 1733. And as Bro. Dafoe puts it in his book, "It was in his capacity as Orator that Ramsay prepared and delivered an address that would form the building blocks upon which chivalric Masonry would rise." This address is said to have been given on March 21, 1737.

One question I had is what motivated him to give such a speech. It is noted by many that in England, Freemasonry was a gentleman's club for those in the upper echelons of society so a legend stemming from workman did not dissuade them from joining. It is possible that Ramsay was trying to market Freemasonry to the French aristocracy who would not have had any interest in joining an organization that descended from working-class men. This is supported by the Oration itself wherein he talks about not taking the name of 'Freemason' literal and looking to see there were "religious warriors and princes". There is very little doubt about the fact that Ramsay invented this chivalric history of Freemasonry, but nonetheless, he sparked the fire that would be the creation of Chivalric Masonic orders. He may not have invented these "high degrees", as they were once called, but he played a very important role. It is important to note that Ramsay did not claim that Freemasonry stemmed from the Knights Templar, but rather from the “Knights of St John of Jerusalem” which was also known as the Knights Hospitaller and continues today as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. On a side note, this speech led to Pope Clement XII issuing the Papal Bull "In Eminenti Apostolatus" which was the first official edict against Freemasonry.

Whatever his motivation, his speech was the spark that ignited a fire that burned in the hearts of many Masons and which led to the creation of Masonic knighthoods.

Chivalric Masonry

Within the US, the Chivalric Orders are a set of three Orders: Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and Order of the Temple (or Knights Templar). The Order of the Temple is one of the most impressive ceremonies in all of Masonry and is the true capstone of the American York Rite. The candidate represents one seeking admittance as a Knights Templar during the Crusades. The candidate is put through a number of trials to ensure he is worthy. Once proven worthy the candidate is admitted a Sir Knight of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple.

I moved into talking about American Chivalric Masonry as it is very difficult to trace the early development of the Order of the Temple. The earliest record of a Templar organization is in Scotland and Ireland in the mid-1700s. One such reason for the difficulty is due to careless record-keeping or from disasters such as the Grand Secretary of Canada’s house burning down and losing all of their early records. Masonic Templary came to America through British military and merchants. The earliest mention of Knights Templar is to be found in the records of St. Andrew's Royal Arch Lodge (they’d be called Chapters later) on August 28, 1769, when William Davis received; William Davis was a Captain in the Massachusetts militia and took part in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Some fun facts, the second recorded conferral of the Order of the Temple in America occurred on December 11, 1769, and the candidate’s name was Paul Revere. The third Templar was Joseph Warren, a general who lost his life at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Now I had to give this introduction of Chivalric Masonry because many of its invitational and appendant bodies stem from the Order of the Temple and yet are tied back to the continuation myths. Now you can’t go too far into the history of Chivalric Masonry without discussing the Rite of Strict Observance.

The Rite of Strict Observance was the brainchild of the D’Aumont legend. This order is said to have been formed some time in the early 1750s in Germany by Karl Gotthelf von Hund, who had been involved with Freemasonry since 1741. Von Hund claimed that he had not founded it, but had taken over from C.G. Marschall von Bieberstein in 1750. Under von Hund’s watch, the Rites degrees consisted of: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Master Mason, Scottish Master, Novice, and Knights Templar. The Scottish Master's degree concerned itself with the preservation of the lost word of Freemasonry which had been cut on a plate of pure metal, placed in a secure location, and centuries later discovered.

One of the strangest aspects of the Rite of Strict Observance was that the adherence had to swear an oath to blindly follow the directives of Unknown Superiors who ruled the Rite. This invisible leader was said to have possibly been Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender. This was the same man whom Ramsey had tried to tutor some year prior. There is a lack of evidence that supports this idea, but nonetheless, the invisible rulers communicated through von Hund. The order did not develop any wide-spread appeal for a couple of decades, possibly due to the Seven Year War. From May 23 to July 6, 1775, a convention was held in Brunswick as there was a lot of confusion among the members. Even though they met for some time nothing really came of it other than more confusion among the members. Another convention was called on August 15, 1776, in Wiesbaden at the request of a Baron von Gugumos. During the convention though the members suspected the Baron was a fraud and demanded the Baron do what he promised. The Baron left the convention and never returned to do what he promised.

After von Hund’s death on October 28, 1776, the Rite began to go downhill. The Duke of Sudermania, Grand Master of Swedish Grand Lodge, was elected and installed as Deputy Grand Master of the Rite in 1778. Two years later he resigned. From July 1782 to September 1783, there was a convention held in Wilhelsmbad where it was resolved that the Freemasons were not descendants of the Templars, that there were no “unknown superiors” to hand out instruction, and soon after the Rite came to an end.

It should be clarified that the Rite did not die out entirely. It was to be absorbed into an order called the Rectified Rite, also known as the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte which translates into Knights Beneficent of the Holy City, that was created by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz in 1774. Willermoz had been a Mason since 1752, was a member of Ordre des Chevaliers Macons Elus-Cohen de l'Univers (a precursor to Martinism), and was initiated into the Rite of Strict Observance in 1773. Although based on the Rite of Strict Observance, this Rectified Rite consists of Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master, Scottish Master, Esquire Novice, Knights Beneficent of the Holy City, Professed Knight, and Grand Professed Knight.

According to A.E. Waite, Willermoz blended together with the forms and doctrines of the two rites, but de-Templarized the Rite of Strict Observance and "Martinized" it, which resulted in the Rectified Scottish Rite. Willermoz headed a committee to prepare the rituals of the revised degrees. Much of the work was done, but activity in this rite was interrupted by the eruption of the French Revolution. In 1806 the CBCS became active again, but, due to the political unrest, it soon would pass into Switzerland with the transmission of power to the Directoire of Helvetia; it was this jurisdiction that reinvigorated the Order in France after WWII. Today the body exists in Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and the United States.

The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests is an invitational body with membership limitations. This order exists to recognize Past Commanders of Commanderies of Knights Templar who made great contributions to Masonic Templary, to their country, and to their community or society in general. This group is not to be confused with the Templar Clerics started by Johan von Starck who claimed Freemasonry was descended from the clerical order of the medieval Templars. This clerical group united with the Rite of Strict of Observance in 1772. The exact date of appearance for this Holy Rollers is not known, but probably started between 1770 and 1780 in Ireland before it spread to England and then to the US in 1829.

As I mentioned before, one of the Scottish legends plays into the Royal Order of Scotland which is an invitation-only Masonic order for Scottish Rite Masons or Knights Templar. While the legend takes the Order back to 1314, there exist no records to substantiate such claims. Early records date the Order back to 18th century Europe. It is said to have flourished in France by Scottish refugees who adhered to the Jacobite cause. The Order took roots in England where it grew for some years which then led to it establishing its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it has been stationed since that time. This order is structured to be governed by the hereditary King of Scotland so in the absence of a king, we are governed by the Deputy Grand Master.

There are a number of other knighthoods within Freemasonry that are not necessarily connected to the medieval Templar myths directly, but I’d like to mention them.

Officially known as the Ye Commemorative Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, this invitational order exists to reaffirm a Knights Templar’s vows and to raise funds for the maintenance of the Canterbury Cathedral.

This is a revived knighthood that was started during the Crusades after the Siege of Acre. William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St. Pauls, was appalled to find corpses of the Christians unburied around Acre. He with a few helpers buried a large number of the dead and tended to the wounded.

William then founded an order with the express purpose of burying Christian Knights who fell in battle in the Holy Land. Later, was added the purpose of fundraising to redeem ransomed captives captured by the Saracens. This order was dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, an Archbishop of Canterbury who became despised by King Henry II and slaughtered by four knights of that monarch. The name Acon is the Anglicized version of Acre, where the order was founded. This order was purely English and continued to exist in England until King Henry VIII dissolved it, along with many other religious houses and monasteries. The London Chapel of the order passed to the Worshipful Company of Mercers, but was destroyed Great Fire of London, but was rebuilt. The modern order was started in 1974 in London by John Walker. In October 1999, several Americans traveled to England and were initiated into the order. The Province of the United States was formed in 2005 when enough Chapels were created. By 2015, the Province of the United States was the largest Province and on January 29, 2015, the United States broke off of England and formed its own Grand Council.

Lastly, the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite has a number of degrees such as the 15° or Knight of the East, 17° or Knight of the East and West, 18° or Knight Rose Croix, 21° or Noachite, or Prussian Knight, 25° or Knight of the Brazen Serpent, 27° or Knight Commander of the Temple, 28° or Knight of the Sun, 29° or Knight of St. Andrew, and 30° or Knight Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle. While these degrees surround knighthood only a few claim derivation from the Knights Templar.


Can I say that we are the descendants of warrior-monks? I cannot. There are so many theories that it is very hard to tell the difference between reality and romanticism. Many accept these theories on pure faith, but despite their protestations, there is no definitive proof that Freemasonry stemmed from or is connected to the medieval Knights Templar. This is something even stated by the Grand Encampment, the governing body of the Masonic Knights Templar in America and several jurisdictions throughout the world. What I will say is that the myth and legend of this knighthood were so immense that it has transcended time and captured the imaginations of the noble-of-heart and with puffed-up pedigrees.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Happy Veteran's Day

As I'm flying home, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of my Brothers and Sisters of the Armed Forces, past and present. God bless all of you and God bless the United States. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

2019 SRICF High Council

For the past 2-days, I have been attending the Annual Meeting of the High Council of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (or SRICF). This is the second High Council meeting I've attended and I enjoyed this as immensely as I did last year. Last year I attended to discuss the formation of Idaho College and now I'm here representing Idaho College along with our Chief Adept and Secretary.

Friday opened with the usual ceremony, introduction of dignitaries, and remarks. The Supreme Magus officially installed the new Chief Adepts. After lunch, there were the following presentations given:
"Operative Rosicrucian Practicum" by Right Worthy Frater Bruce Renner, IX°
"Deep Dive Into SRICF Gradework" by Right Worthy Frater Bruce Renner, IX°
"Angelic Prayers of Protection" by Right Worthy Frater David Lindez, IX°, KGC, Junior Deputy Supreme Magus
Friday night, after the Royal Society of the Knights Occidental (RSKO) banquet, I received the VIII°, or Magister Templi (Master of the Temple), and IX°, or MagusIt is an honor to be advanced to the Third Order of the Society and to have the Ninth conferred by the Supreme Magus himself with the help of the Supreme Magi of Anglia (England), Scotia (Scotland), and Lusitania (Portugal). It was moving to be one of his last acts as Supreme Magus.

Saturday morning started out with two well-done presentations:
"Alchemy & the Acacia Stone” by Right Worthy Frater P.D. Newman, VIII°, of Mississippi College
"Crosses" by Right Worthy Frater Robert Bruce Maynard, IX°, KGC, 2nd Herald of the High Council
One of the most significant outcomes of this year's High Council meeting was that Most Worthy Frater William H. Koon II retired after more than 12-years of serving as Most Worthy Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. While his name is sometimes remembered for some controversies in the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, his tenure as Supreme Magus is marked with revitalization and growth of the Society of the Rose and Cross. Most Worthy Frater Jeff Nelson was then installed and has taken over as the new Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. He was installed by M. W. Fr. William H. Koon II, IX°, KGC, now Junior Past Supreme Magus of the SRICF with the assistance of the Most Worthy Supreme Magi from England, Scotland, and Portugal. 

2019 has been an interesting year for Masonic Rosicrucianism as the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (Scotland) and Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (England) both have new Supreme Magi as well; three new Most Worthy Supreme Magi. 

With this change of leadership, we have new Senior Deputy Supreme Magus, Right Worthy Frater D. Craig McFarland; Junior Deputy Supreme Magus, Right Worthy Frater Bruce Renner; Secretary General, Right Worthy Frater Mike Lake; Treasurer General, Right Worthy Frater Ken Hope; and a number of new Chief Adepts. Congratulations to Knight Grand Cross recipients, particularly Right Worthy Frater Thomas Nance, Chief Adept of Wyoming (Idaho's mother College).

Monday, November 4, 2019


I love my job. It takes me to all parts of this great nation. I've spent the last 4-days in Hilo, Hawaii. When I wasn't at work, I traveled around the island seeing all of the beauty it has to offer. I visited the Rainbow Falls, the Pe'epe'e Falls, the Akaka Falls State Park, Punalu'u Black Sands Beach, and South Point (the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii and of the United States). I tried to visit the Kilauea Volcano, but due to the eruptions last year, the lava levels are low and the clouds obscured any view I may have had. Maybe next time. After flying from Hilo, I spent the day walking around Waikiki and now I'm sitting at the Honolulu Airport waiting for my airplane.

View from hotel's lobby

On the beach outside of my hotel

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls from a top view

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls

South Point

Got a few scapes climbing the rocks

Walking around Waikiki Beach

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Templar Biography: Guillaume de Beaujeu

Guillaume de Beaujeu was the twenty-first Grand Master of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon who served for 18-years and was known for his aim for preserving Christian lands, negotiating peace, for fighting valiantly in the defense of the city of Acre where he died, and for being the last Grand Master to preside over the order in the Holy Land.

The exact date of birth for Guillaume (William) de Beaujeu is a mystery; some say it was as early 1215 AD, but this seems early as he is the son of Guichard de Beaujeu, seigneur de Montpensier, who was born around 1200 AD and Catherine d'Auvergne who was born around 1210 AD. It is likely he was born between 1225 AD and 1230 AD. This family was pretty important and had familial ties to  King Louis IX of France and Charles of Anjou: Count of Provence and Forcalquier, Count of Anjou and Maine, and also the King of Sicily and Prince of Achaea.

It is said that he became a Templar around his 20th birthday. Beaujeu became Preceptor of the Province of Tripoli in 1271, Preceptor of the Province of Pouilles in 1272, and then was elected Grand Master May 13, 1273. Beaujeu was in Europe when he was elected Grand Master visiting the Preceptories. He wouldn't arrive in Acre until September 1275. During his trip to the Occident, Pope Gregory X convened the Council of Lyons in an attempt to organize a new Crusade, but the idea died when Pope Gregory did.

Jerusalem had been lost to the Frankish Kingdoms and Beaujeu was determined to preserve what property remained in Christian possession. He also had to fight to keep Templar property, even from other Christians because in 1279 Hugh III of Cyprus confiscated Templar properties on the island of Cyprus

Beaujeu entered into an agreement with the Egyptian Sultan called the "Truce of Tortosa." The peace didn't last long, particularly after some recently arrived Christians killed some Egyptian merchants and the Sultanate had changed hands. The new Sultan sends roughly 200,000 men to take the city. The defense is left to the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitalliers, and the Teutonic Knights

On May 16, 1291, the Saracen Sappers create a breach in the wall of Acre. On May 18, 1291, the Egyptians launches a massive attack. Beaujeu led the knights and stems the the flood of Egyptians. During this valiant attempt, Beaujeu was hit by "darts and arrows of the enemy" whereon legend states Beaujeu dropped his sword and began to walk away. His fellow knights called after him and he responded with "I am not running away, I am dead!” raising his arm to show his mortal wound after which he collapsed and died. After a few more days of defense, the Muslims finally captured Acre and ended the Crusader occupation of the Holy Land. Guillaume de Beaujeu was succeeded by Thibaud Gaudin.


1. Addison, C. G. (2012). The History of the Knights Templar. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. 

2. Gourdin, T. S. (1855). Historical Sketch of the Order of Knights Templar: An Address Delivered Before the South-Carolina Encampment. Walker & Evans. 

3. Rowe, D. M. (2014, July). A Chronological View of the Crusades. Retrieved from Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA: 

4. Zolnai, A. (n.d.). Guillaume de Beaujeu. Retrieved from Project Beauceant:

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Fellowship in Southern Idaho

Last night, Twin Falls Lodge no.45 held an "Old Fashioned Festive Board" where Brothers came together for a steak dinner, and then some cigars and scotch. After the dinner, I delivered a speech on the 'Continuation Myths of the Knights Templar and Freemasonry.' The camaraderie and hospitality were wonderful and I look forward to any future Festive Board that this Lodge puts on.

Today, I attended the conferral the Templar Orders as a venture between several Idaho Commanderies. I had the pleasure of serving as Eminent Commander for the Order of the Temple and I knighted 7 new Sir Knights, one of whom is a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idaho. I had an excellent degree team to include two Past Grand Commander (one of which is the current Grand Treasurer and both are Past Grand Masters), the Right Eminent Grand Commander, the Deputy Grand Commander, the Grand Senior Warden, the Grand Recorder, and the Grand Sentinel of the Grand Commandery of Idaho. Afterward, it was beer and pizza with the Deputy Grand Commander before calling it a night.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

2019 Northwest York Rite Conference

Go figure, I'm at an airport again. Yes, I'm off on another trip, but the last few days were a blur as it was the Northwest York Rite Conference in Boise, ID. Thursday night I received the degree of Installed Sovereign Master in the Allied Masonic Degrees. 

Friday morning started with introductions then went into the Royal Arch Mason session, presided over by the Brad Huffman, the Most Excellent Deputy General Grand High Priest. Presentations were given by a number of Companions and then candidates running for General Grand Scribe in 2020 were given time to talk. The Cryptic Masons session was Friday afternoon and was presided over Companion Bob Farrow, Right Puissant Regional Deputy General Grand Master for the Northwest. 

Saturday was dedicated to the Knights Templar and presentations were given by Sir Knight Ben Williams, Right Eminent Northwest Department Commander; Sir Knight Jeremy Vaughn, Very Eminent Deputy Grand Commander of Idaho; the Knights Templar Eye Foundation; Sir Knight Michael Johnson, Right Eminent Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Encampment; and Sir Knight David Kussman, Right Eminent Grand Generalissimo of the Grand Encampment. 

Saturday evening, Intermountain Chapel no.27 of Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon held a quick business meeting. Afterward, the Provincial Grand Council of the Northwest Province held its annual meeting. The rest of the night I sat and chatted with the Northwest Department Commander until passed midnight. It made for an early morning, but now I'm back on the road; the next few weeks will be extremely busy.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Johannite Weekend

It's been quite a weekend; I spent the last few days in Oregon where I attended a Johannite Retreat at the farmhouse of a Monsignor of the Apostolic Johannite Church. Friday afternoon I arrived at the farm of a Monsignor where we prepared and held an Agape meal which was followed by some time for meditation and reflection. The Monsignor then led us in Vespers and we concluded the evening by watching a movie about Mary Magdalene.

Saturday started with Matins (morning prayer) then some breakfast. The Monsignor then led us in the Gnostic Mass of the AJC where we also remembered the Martyrdom of the Templars, the anniversary of which is Sunday, October 13th. This service also included my Baptism Sub Conditione and then I was officially received into the Oblates by taking of the vows. Baptism Sub Conditione is done just in case my prior baptism didn’t conform to the requirements of our sacramental theology of the Apostolic Johannite Church.

After lunch, we did some farm work that prepared for the campfire that was held later that night. Then there was a Theosis panel followed by another Agape meal, Vespers, meditation, and the aforementioned campfire. I left after the Theosis panel as I leave early Sunday morning.

Now, I'm at the second airport in my trip, waiting to board the plane for home. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Officers of the Cryptic Mason's Council

Cryptic Masonry consists of the Royal Master and Select Master with the Super Excellent Master as an optional third degree. The basic organizational unit for Royal and Select Masters is the Council and is composed of the following officers: Illustrious Master, Deputy Master, Principal Conductor of the Work, Treasurer, Recorder, Captain of the Guard, Conductor of the Council, Steward, Chaplain, and Sentinel

The Illustrious Master presides over a Council of Royal and Select Masters (or Cryptic Masons) and represents King Solomon during the building of the Temple that immortalized his name. The honorary title of the Master and the Council is Illustrious which is rooted in the Latin word "illustris" meaning "light, bright, or brilliant" or "distinguished by greatness." The word "Master" is rooted in the Latin word "magister" meaning "chief, head, or teacher." The jewel of the Illustrious Master is a Square and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard. A sitting Illustrious Master or Past Illustrious Master qualifies to be initiated into the Order of the Silver Trowel.

The second-in-command of the Council is the Deputy Master who corresponds to the Senior Warden in the Blue Lodge; they differ in that the Deputy Master is stationed in the East on the right of the Illustrious Master. In the absence of the Illustrious Master, the Deputy presides over the Council. Per the legend, the Deputy Master represents Hiram, King of Tyre. The title of Deputy comes from the Latin "deputare" meaning to "allot or to destine" which has come to indicate a subordinate officer or one given the full power of an officer without holding the office. The jewel of the Deputy Master is a Level and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard

Corresponding to the Junior Warden in the Blue Lodge, the Principal Conductor of the Work sits to the left of the Illustrious Master in the East. Just as in the Blue Lodge, the third-in-command represents Hiram Abiff, the chief Architect of King Solomon's Temple. It is interesting to note that while the Third Degree ceremony centers on Hiram Abiff, the candidate has very little interaction with this character while in the Cryptic Degrees Hiram Abiff plays a central role in the conferral by giving a very moving soliloquy. The title indicates the chief or most important guide for the physical labor and construction of an edifice. Principal comes from the Latin word "principalis" which translates to "first in importance or original." Conductor is rooted in the Latin word "conductor" meaning "one who hires or leads." Work stems from the Old English word "weorc" meaning "something done." The jewel of the Principal Conductor of the Work is a Plumb and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.

As in the other Masonic bodies, the Treasurer and Recorder are the financial and administrative officers of the Council.

The senior appointed officer of the Council is the Captain of the Guard. This officer corresponds with the Senior Warden and Junior Deacon as he assists the Illustrious Master in the opening and closing of the Council, ensuring all present are Cryptic Masons, ensures the Council is guarded, and sits in the West of the Council. Etymologically the word "captain" comes from the Latin word "capitaneus" meaning "chief" which itself originated from the "caput" meaning "head." The word "guard" derives from "garder," an Old French word meaning "to keep, maintain, preserve, or protect." The jewel of the Captain of the Guard is an ax and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.

Stationed in the South, is the Conductor of the Council who corresponds to the Senior Deacon and Marshal of the Blue Lodge. A conductor is a director or guide, and comes to us from Latin via Middle French from the word 'conductus' meaning "a carrier". The word "council" is rooted in the Latin word "concilium" meaning "a gathering of people." The jewel of the Conductor of the Council is two batons and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.

Sitting to the right of the Captain of the Guard, the Steward sits as the inner guard of the Council and corresponds with the Junior Deacon of the Blue Lodge. The word "Steward" is rooted in the Old English words "stiward" and "stigweard" meaning "house guardian" and "housekeeper" which are rooted in Proto-Germanic words meaning "guards." The jewel of the Steward is two swords and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.

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 jewel of the Chaplain is an open Holy Bible and trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.

The final appointed officer of the Council is the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The Sentinel guards the Council from 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 there job to prevent intrusion by enemy or those unauthorized. The jewel of the Sentinel is is two sabers and a trowel within a hollow triangular medal that is suspended from a purple collar or lanyard.


1. Speidel, F. G. (1978). The York Rite of Freemasonry. Raleigh: Press of Oxford Orphanage. 

2. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary:

3. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster:

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Feast Day of Holy Archangel Michael

For the Apostolic Johannite Church, today is the Feast Day for Archangel Michael whose name means “Who is like God?” This archangel is associated with the element fire, the Tarot suit of Wands, the southern cardinal direction, and the color red.

Michael is Prince of the Archangels, Angel of Deliverance, Ruler of Fire, Commander of the Armies of God, Defender of Gnosis (or Divine Knowledge), and Protector of the Sovereign Patriarch of the Church. This archangel is mentioned in all three of the Abrahamic religions who consider him the leading figure who fights evil. According to Gnostic traditions, it is believed that Michael was present at the Creation.

Michael is the champion of the faithful, opponent of Satan, rescuer of souls at the hour of death, and summon's the souls of men at the Judgment. However, when the faithful fell away from God, Michael would be used to punish them; an example is that Michael was sent to bring Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem after they stopped following God's Commandments.

Archangel Michael is the patron of law enforcement, paramedics, and military around the world. Michael is also the patron of the Holy Roman Empire and modern-day Germany.

The Archangel Michael is often depicted in red robes and holding a flaming sword or scales of divine justice with the Book of Life. Other times, Michael is depicted in armor with helmet, sword or lance, and shield, and standing over a serpent, dragon, or Satan defeated.

Michael is mentioned in the Old Testament and Jewish texts where he appeared to Moses as the Burning Bush, appeared in visions to Daniel, wrestled with Jacob, saved three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, appeared to Joshua as he prepared for the Battle at Jericho. Some hypothesize that it was Michael who escorted Enoch to Heaven. In the New Testament, Michael is mentioned in the Book of Revelations where Michael defeats Satan.


Friday, September 27, 2019

The Taxil Hoax

One of the biggest hoaxers to plague Freemasonry and fuel the fires of anti-Masons is Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, or more commonly known as Léo Taxil, who was an infamous anti-clerical writer known for his blasphemous and obscene publications against the Roman Catholic Church. He penned many works that were later found to be fictitious, and have caused an unfounded uproar by anti-Masons. In the publications of this hoax, Taxil spun a tale about a Palladium Rite which was said to have practiced murder and devil worship among other things. While he aimed at humiliating the entire Craft, Taxil seems to target Albert Pike, a famous Scottish Rite Mason in the US. Even though Taxil admitted to making it all up in 1897, anti-Masons are far too eager to use his quotes in their agenda to defame Freemasonry.

Leo Taxil was born in Marseilles, France, on March 21, 1854. At the age of 5, he was sent to be raised at the Jesuit Seminary in the hopes of him becoming a priest. Something occurred during his childhood that caused him to become embittered towards religion and he turned completely against the Roman Catholic Church. After he left, he took on a career of what is today called "Yellow Journalism" which is "journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration." Most of his publications were pornographic and were aimed at the Roman Catholic Church and specific clergy to include the Pope. Some of his anti-Catholic publications were known as Amusing Bible for Grown-Ups and Children, Debauchery of a ConfessorSacred Pornographers, and  The Mistresses of the Pope. By 1876, Taxil had been put on trial thirteen times and, outside the law, had to face several duels over his publications. However, his tabloids were selling and he had made enough money to pay the court-ordered fines. 

In 1881, Leo Taxil petitioned to the Freemasons in France. While some opposed his admission, he made it through the West Gate, but he was expelled from the Craft as an Entered Apprentice for reasons that I cannot find. Taxil now had a new target: Freemasonry. Freemasonry towards the end of the 19th century was growing in popularity and was ripe for scandal. Not long after, sometime around 1882, Taxil feigned piety, rejoined the Roman Catholic Church, and declared that as part of his penance he would repair the damage done to the church. 

Taxil would go on to write "The Devil in the 19th Century" which he said exposed a secretive Masonic order known as the Palladium Rite, which was he had invented himself. Palladium Masonry was said to be the very top of the Illuminati pyramid and the overseer of all Masonic rites and practiced Devil worship, murder and other perversions of a sexual nature. 

In "Les Mysteries Franc Maconnerie" uses a rendering of Baphomet drawn by Eliphas Levi and adds to it to further attack Freemasonry. In his version, a group of Masons dances around Baphomet while a woman in the left-hand corner holds up a severed head. 

In 1894, the book, "La Femme et L'Enfant dans la Franc-Maconnerie Universal" would be published by Abbe Clarin de la Rive. The cover of this book depicts a woman being seduced by Baphomet in between the two pillars prized in Freemasonry. 

Taxil released another book called the "Devil in the Nineteenth Century" which introduced the anti-Masonic world to Diana Vaughan, who supposedly was a descendant of the 17th century Rosicrucian Thomas Vaughan. The book is filled with her supposed encounters with demons and Satanic rituals in Freemasonry. As a girl, she was betrothed to the demon Asmodeus. Later she would attend Palladium meetings held in Charleston and was consecrated as High Priestess by Satan with Albert Pike in attendance. Taxil then came up with a plot twist that Diana Vaughan converted to Roman Catholicism after Albert Pike ordered to "spit upon and stab a consecrated host" in a Masonic rite and utter blasphemies. Diana refused, repented, left Palladism, and wrote her book in penance. 

One entire volume he devoted to Female/Co-Masonry where he wrote a number of fabrications which were received with delight by the Roman Catholic Church who used it as further justification for their negative opinion of Freemasonry. Another book claimed that all Freemasons are murderers, either in spirit or in fact. He claims that "higher degrees" Masons must go through a sacrificial ritual using a sheep. He went so far as to say that Masons practice spiritualism where Masons transfigured furniture into crocodiles. 

In 1894, Abbe de la Rive  published La Femme et l'Enfant dans la Franc Maconnerie Universelle in which he attributes the following quote to Albert Pike who was supposedly the Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry and supposedly addressed the 23 Confederated Supreme Councils of the world on July 14, 1889:

"That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him? "Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive. "Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil."
Pike remains the favorite "whipping boy" of the anti-Masonic movement who often exaggerates his importance and misquote (cherry-pick) Morals & Dogma. Many fabrications, such as this one, came out after his death; it's easy to spread a lie about someone when they can no longer defend themselves. The problem with this supposed quote is that 99% of those who join the Scottish Rite make it to the 32° and there have been millions of Scottish Rite Masons. As Brothers Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris said, "Is it believable that the millions of Scottish Rite Masons during the last two centuries could be cowed into such total silence?" or "Why would Albert Pike suggest special treatment for 30°, 31°, and 32° Masons, when that would have included nearly everyone?" Aside from that point, there is not and there never has been the position of "Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry" nor is there a "Confederation of Supreme Councils." 

By 1896, Taxil had worked the clergy up into a paranoid state that they called for an "Anti-Masonic Congress" which was held in Trent (Austria) "to make known to everybody the immense moral and material evil done by Freemasonry to the Church and to society, and to seek a remedy by way of a permanent, international organization against the craft." Many in attendance were expecting for Diana to be there and were not satisfied with Taxil's excuses.

Because of the immense pressure, Taxil called a conference at the Geographical Society in Paris on April 19, 1897. Many attended expecting more revelations against Freemasonry as well as the public debut of Diana Vaughan. Instead, those in attendance received a shock when Taxil admitted to fabricating all of it for the sole purpose of profiting from the gullibility of the Roman Catholic Church and embarrass Rome. The crowd did not appreciate this news and he fled to save his life. Later Taxil, in an interview stated: 

"The public made me what I am, the arch-liar of the period, for when I first commenced to write against the Masons my object was amusement pure and simple. The crimes laid at their door were so grotesque, so impossible, so widely exaggerated, I thought everybody would see the joke and give me credit for originating a new line of humor. But my readers wouldn't have it so; they accepted my fables as gospel truth, and the more I lied for the purpose of showing that I lied, the more convinced became they that I was a paragon of veracity."
The confession was printed, in its entirety, in the Parisian newspaper Le Frondeur, on April 25, 1897, titled: Twelve Years Under the Banner of the Church, The Prank Of Palladism. Miss Diana Vaughan-The Devil At The Freemasons. You can read the confession here: 

After Taxil's confession, Abbe de la Rive expressed his disgust and recanted his writings on Diana Vaughan in the April 1897 issue of Freemasonry Disclosed, a magazine devoted to the destruction of the Craft, which shows a great deal of integrity.

The modern manifestation of this fake quote originates from a book, Occult Theocracy, written by Edith Starr Miller, also known as Lady Queensborough. Although anti-Masons overlook it, the book is heavily plagiarized from Leo Taxil and other anti-Masonic publications. Miller was a New York socialite, conspiracy theorist, and a pro-Fascist who married Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queensborough (thus the pseudonym). 

Sadly, even though Taxil confessed, many anti-Masons still believe this or at least use it to justify their damnation and criticisms of Freemasonry. Some will acknowledge that Taxil confessed, but go on to say he was either coerced while some will say that the confession is a hoax itself. 

Some rabid anti-Masons even go so far as attaching the "Lucifer is God" fake quote to Morals & Dogma, continued proof that the vast majority of anti-Masons have never actually read that book, but just use a few cherry-picked quotes to attack the Craft. 

The fact remains there was no Dianna Vaughan, there was no Palladium Rite, there was no "Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry", there was no "Confederated Supreme Councils of the world", or there was no Satanic rituals or beliefs of Pike. Sadly, even with all of this laid out, rabid anti-Masons will continue to quote this hoax.


1. Edith Starr Miller. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of BC&Yukon: 

2. King, E. (n.d.). Leo Taxil: The tale of the Pope and the Pornographer. Retrieved from MasonicInfo: 

3. Morris, B. (n.d.). Albert Pike and Lucifer: The Lie That Will Not Die. Retrieved from Masonic World: 

4. Taxil Hoax. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

5. The Confession of Léo Taxil. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of BC&Yukon: 

6. The Leo Taxil Hoax. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: 

7. The Taxil Hoax. (1995, January 2). Retrieved from MIT: 

8. The Taxil Hoax. (2016, February 28). Retrieved from Esoterica, Gnosticism, and Freemasonry: 

9. Was the ‘Taxil Hoax’ not a hoax after all? (2011, June 16). Retrieved from trappedinamasonicworld: