W. Bro. Richard Roberts
Warrior, Brother, Friend and Mentor
Freemasonry is a topic which is encompassed by literally tens of
thousands of books and hundreds of years of tradition. Thus, it is naïve to
expect the entirety of the “Craft” to be expressed between two covers.
Freemasonry evolved from a time when such a society would
attract inquisitors, dungeon masters and executioners. Whether one cares to
cite simple obscurity or true secrecy, Freemasonry emerged from a bizarre set
of shadows; it is NOT a secret society.
What you read here is an effort to concisely present not only
the essence of Freemasonry, but also an understanding as to the function of
Freemasonry in its role of a social enigma, as well as a functioning social
and charitable unit in the world’s cultures.
Freemasonry maintains a low profile, for a variety of reasons,
primarily to evade the power lust of obsessive-compulsive detractors. In the
United States, at the time of this writing, the various units of Freemasonry
contribute approximately two million dollars per day to charities, which are
characterized by their direct application to the needy, versus an income
source for the charity managers.
Beyond being a social outlet, Freemasonry maintains a standard
of morality in time. So often the world witnesses a set of rationalizations
which attempt to subvert morality for various reasons from raw emotionalism to
the seizure of money and power. Thus, the fraternity provides an independent
and perpetual barometer for moral standards.
However, from a time when the intrigue of Freemasonry served as
a magnet, to the present, the fraternity is waning in numbers. Thus, much of
the essence of the fraternity seems to have been lost in time itself. This
work attempts to explain the essence of the fraternity and provide a
perspective on the true nature of the organization.
THE ENIGMA OF FREEMASONRY
Ironically, Freemasonry today is a fraternity deserving of fame
as a huge charity source, as opposed to its unfortunate and more common
‘darker’ image as a "secret society." While the "Craft" employs the element of
intrigue, by emulating a variety of supposed secrecy, city libraries and the
internet are quite clear as to the lack of secrecy. Approximately 60,000
books have been written on Freemasonry; what ‘secrecy’ could be possible?
The vast range of charitable activities from childrens’
hospitals, charity funds and retirement homes attest to the essence of this
It’s necessary to mention that while Freemasons were key to the
formation of the USA and its prideful evolution; that aspect of the Craft is
no longer worth considering as any kind of political force, except in a
historical perspective. If one wants high level political intrigue, the
elements of the infamous "New World Order" are the appropriate
The core of Freemasonry is what is known as the "Master Mason’s
Lodge," commonly referred to as a "Blue Lodge," the color ‘blue,’ being said
to be "Masonically" symbolic of fidelity, loyalty and friendship. However,
the ‘expanse’ of Masonic organizations is huge; attempting to be a "family"
fraternity, in sum.
The "Craft" includes a host of "appendant" bodies, such as the
‘male’ Scottish Rite, the York Rite and the Shriners, as well as ‘mixed’
bodies such as the Order of the Eastern Star and the Order of the Amaranth.
There are also uniquely female Masonic groups, such as the Daughters of the
Nile, and the Ladies Oriental Shrine. There is also a variety of ‘youth’
groups such as Demolay for boys, and the Order of the Rainbow for girls, as
well as Job’s Daughters.
Freemasonry has gone through major cycles of membership numbers;
yet for any loss of membership, the fraternity always rebuilds. What does
this organization have to offer, that it simply will not fade into history, as
its antiquity might otherwise suggest?
There are good reasons for the evolution of Freemasonry, its
endurance and its intrigue.
Freemasonry is essentially a "British" product, coming to
America, as a function of the early colonialism. As Freemasonry spread in
what became the USA, its character took on a certain degree of ‘American’
variance, from its British origins. Yet, the American Lodges continue to
operate under the umbrella of the United Grand Lodge of England.
In consideration of the primary intended audience, the
"American" system will be primarily addressed in this presentation.
THE MASTER MASON’S LODGE ROOM
A Lodge of Masons is originally formed by a minimum number of
well qualified members, no fewer, at least, than eight (including the Tyler
[door guard] ), in good standing, or holding demits from some other regular
Lodge. Often, as many as fifteen members are required, to obtain and maintain
a Lodge’s "charter." Those members will petition the Grand Master of the State
or Territory in which they reside, requesting to organize a Lodge of Masons at
a specific location. Depending on the requirements of a given jurisdiction,
the Lodge nearest the applicant Lodge may be required to sponsor the new
Upon its formation, at the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge, a
Lodge is essentially on probation, described as a "Lodge U. D.," working,
"under dispensation." During its first year, the Lodge can only meet and
confer the three degrees of Masonry. The primary distinction being that the
new Lodge can’t vote in the Grand Lodge of the jurisdiction, and it does not
have a permanent Charter. At the next meeting of the Grand Lodge, it will
transmit its dispensation to the Grand Lodge, along with its Record Book, for
the approval of its "work." If everything is deemed to be ‘regular,’ with any
degrees being conferred according to the standard ritual of Masonry, the Grand
Lodge will normally authorize a permanent Charter to be issued.
In the technical concept of Masonry, a Lodge of "Entered
Apprentices" (First Degree) is deemed to represent the "ground floor" of King
Solomon's Temple. In a Lodge of "Fellowcrafts" (Second Degree), the Lodge
represents "middle chamber;" and in a Lodge of Master Masons (Third Degree),
the "Sanctum Sanctorum," or Holy of Holies, of Solomon’s Temple.
In referring to Solomon’s Temple, however, it must be said that
every part of the Masonic system is symbolic; consequently, all allusions made
in to Solomon's Temple, symbolize the erection of a perfect spiritual temple
in the heart of a Mason - pure and spotless. That is the symbolic goal which
Freemasonry desires for every one of its members.
TITLES AND DUTIES OF THE "CONSTITUTING" OFFICERS
OF A SUBORDINATE LODGE.
The presiding officer of a Lodge of Masons, for his "year in the
East," is the Worshipful Master. Second in command is the Senior Warden; then
the Junior Warden. These officers occupy stations in the Lodge’s symbolic
"East," "West," and "South," respectively. In the symbolism of Freemasonry,
they represent the sun at its rising, its meridian, and its setting. The
"North" is treated as a place of darkness (ignorance), having no officer in a
Master Mason’s Lodge.
The other officers are the Treasurer, Secretary, Senior Deacon,
Junior Deacon and Tyler, and respectfully take rank after the Wardens. These
officers occupy positions as represented in the Lodge diagram. A Chaplain and
Organist, as well as Senior and Junior Steward are also generally appointed,
but not always.
Each officer wears an emblematic "jewel" associated with his
‘station,’ in the Lodge. In most cases, the appropriate jewel of the
officers’ office is suspended from the lowest point of a decorated collar,
worn by the officers. The Deacons and Stewards also have marching rods, with
their associated jewel, mounted atop the rod.
The Worshipful Master’s station is symbolized by a square; the
Senior Warden, by a level. The Junior Warden wears a plumb; the Treasurer,
two crossed keys. The Secretary wears a set of crossed quills; the Senior
Deacon wears a Square and Compasses, with a sun in the center. The Junior
Deacon wears a Square and Compasses, with a quarter-moon in center; the two
Stewards are furnished with a cornucopia. The Chaplain wears an open Bible;
the Tyler wears a sword. Typically, the officers’ aprons are decorated with
the same symbols.
This position is attained by election of the Lodge members,
except in "U. D." lodges (lodges ‘under dispensation’), when the Worshipful
Master and Wardens are appointed by the Grand Master or his representative.
Typically, it is required that the Master must have previously presided as a
Warden. The Master presides in the Masonic "East" of the Lodge, usually
wearing a top hat. Typically, his station is a podium upon a platform,
elevated by three "steps."
The Master, along with the other elected officers cannot
(typically) resign after his installation. It is somewhere between Masonic
law and tradition that all officers hold their respective offices until their
successors are installed. In some jurisdictions, at his installation, the
Master receives the degree/designation of "Past Master."
The Master’s position is attained by election in a chartered
lodge, or by appointment of Grand Master or his representative - if in a lodge
working under dispensation.
The Senior Warden’s place is in the Masonic "West," opposite the
Worshipful Master. As with the Master, his position is elected. Typically,
his station is a podium upon a platform, elevated by two "steps." He is
immediately under the Master, charged to superintend the craft during labor,
and, in the Master’s absence, to preside over the lodge. Along with the
Worshipful Master and Junior Warden, he represents the lodge in the Grand
Lodge annual session.
During the temporary absence of the Master, the Senior
Warden, although the ‘official’ Master, per his installation instructions,
may through courtesy resign the chair to a former Past Master, yet in this
case the latter officer derives his authority from the Warden and cannot
act until this officer has congregated the lodge. The same thing is
applicable to the Junior Warden, in case of the absence, both of the
Master and the Senior Warden. This rule – where observed - arises from
the technicality that the warrant of Constitution [charter] is technically
granted to the Master, Wardens and their successors in office and not to
the members of the lodge. A lodge therefore cannot be legally
congregated without the presence of at least one of these officers. The
Grand Master can grant any required dispensation, in an emergency; such
must be done in advance.
This position is attained in the same fashion as the Senior
Warden, via election. The Junior Warden’s seat is in the Masonic "South."
Typically, his station is a podium upon a platform, elevated by one "step."
The Junior Warden presides over the Craft during refreshment. In the absence
of the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden, he performs the duties of
presiding officer. This station is often charged with providing the Lodge
refreshment and food; most often delegated to the Stewards.
Also attained by election, except in lodges under dispensation,
when he is appointed by the Worshipful Master. He receives all lodge moneys
from the Secretary, keeps account of same, and pays them out on the order of
the Worshipful Master - with consent of lodge. Traditionally, his seat is at
a desk, to the left of the Worshipful Master (looking "East.").
Also elected. His duties are to observe the Worshipful Master's
will and pleasure; to record the proceedings of the lodge; to receive all
moneys and pay them to the Treasurer, taking back his receipt. He is to
additionally attend Masonic trials and meetings for taking evidence; furnish
copies of all evidence taken on any trials where an, appeal is taken to the
Grand Lodge; to furnish any required diplomas, demits, certificates, etc.,
duly signed and sealed by order of the lodge; to prepare the regular and
annual reports made to the Grand Lodge and certificates of the
representatives; and to notify the Secretary of Grand Lodge of any expulsions.
He is also to keep a Masonic biography of all important facts
concerning the Masonic history of each member; to keep a Visitors’ Book; to
prepare a balance sheet of all accounts of the members - and of his own
account with the Lodge, and to keep a roll of all who are entitled to vote.
The Secretary’s seat is traditionally at a desk, at the far right of the
Appointed by the Worshipful Master. The Senior Deacon acts as
his proxy in the active duties of the lodge; to give fraternal attention to
visitors and conduct candidates during initiation. His seat is to the right
and in front of the Worshipful Master, at "floor" level. As they move about
the Lodge room, the Deacons carry a rod, as a symbol of their office.
The Junior Deacon is also appointed by the Master; subject to
removal by him. He acts as proxy for the Senior Warden; the inner guardian
of the Lodge room door. His place is to the right and in front of the Senior
Warden - near the door.
An officer of absolute necessity, who must be a Master Mason.
The Tyler sits outside the doors of the Lodge room, acting as a guard,
ensuring the security of the Lodge. He is typically tasked with checking
membership cards, as appropriate, and ensuring that officers, members and
visitors sign the "Tyler’s Register."
However, he may not be included in the list of constituting
officers, as many jurisdictions permit the Tyler to belong to another lodge.
If the Tyler is a member of the particular Lodge he guards, he is usually
appointed by the Master. Often, the Tyler is charged with setting up and
taking down the Lodge Room. Some sources hold that the wavy "flaming sword"
is the proper sword, but common tradition leaves the ‘straight-blade’ as most
In addition to these constituting or necessary officers,
there are five others. These five are styled -
Appointed by the Worshipful Master. His station is usually to
the right and in front of the Master; his duties indicated by his title. The
Chaplain may not necessarily be a member of the particular Lodge, similar to
Also appointed by the Worshipful Master. His duties are
typically to escort the Chaplain, or to present the Flag. At funerals and
other public displays he marshals the procession. His place is typically next
to the Chaplain. In smaller lodges the Senior Deacon often attends to the
duties of Marshal.
Appointed by the Worshipful Master, as director of the
instrumental musical exercises. His situation is at or near the organ/piano.
Similar to the Tyler and Chaplain, the Organist may not necessarily be a
member of the particular Lodge.
Appointed by the Master, as the assistant in charge of preparing
candidates. Often, the Senior Steward is in charge of purchasing and serving
refreshments at lodge dinners and festivals, etc. His station is typically in
front of and to the right of the Junior Warden. Most lodges have Stewards.
Similar to the Deacons, as they move about the Lodge room, the Stewards also
carry a rod.
His appointment and duties are the same as the Senior Steward,
whom he assists. His position is typically in front of and to the left of the
While not officers, per se, Past Masters typically wear a lapel
pin, ring, jewel or apron with a set of compasses, opened over a 90-degree
graduated arc, in place of the square, with a ‘sun & moon’ in the center.
Properly constructed, the Past Master’s Compasses will have the letter "G"
displayed on one of the Compass legs. Depending on the Jurisdiction, the Past
Master’s jewel might have both the ‘standard’ square, and the quadrant. In
some instances, the Past Master’s jewels can be incredibly ornate and even
have a gem, such as a diamond, in the center.
A podium typically stands in front of each of the three
principal officers. The Wardens’ columns rest upon those in the South and
West. The columns symbolize whether the Lodge is at labor, or at refreshment.
When the Lodge is open, the Senior Warden's column is standing up, but when
the Lodge is called off, or during recess the Junior Warden's column is
For so proud an institution, it is unfortunate that the history
of Freemasonry is so unsupported by documented and reliable history. Among
Masons and historians, there exists an eternal debate as to the true origins
and history of Freemasonry. There seems to be no shortage of positions to be
passionately taken and defended as though the issues were prized terra firma.
Thus, Freemasonry becomes an "enigma;" defined as "…something
difficult to understand."
To the uninformed, the element of probability – not just simple
conjecture - is perhaps the only viable tool available to sort out the facts
and issues. To say that the history of Freemasonry is replete with historic
facts is unfortunately naive. Freemasonry is, however, pregnant with debate
and an enviable history.
For the benefit of those not informed, the "Square and
Compasses" of Freemasonry denote the admonishment to Masons to keep their
passions within due bounds (Compasses) and to act in a fair manner with all
("Fair and Square"). In the American and Canadian traditions, the letter "G"
is enclosed denoting a belief in God and the lessons of Geometry, which
testify to a Godly perfection of the physical (a snowflake, for instance) and
the perfection of a logic system being available – evidenced by the system of
theorems, corollaries and postulates. Masons, being opponents of tyranny, the
logic aspect drives tyrants and would-be tyrants mad!
Any informed historian, whether Masonic or otherwise, will
acknowledge that Masonry is an evolved order. Most importantly, it has
continued to evolve from its very earliest existence. Freemasonry did not
originate from a solitary tradition or discipline; there were no stone or
golden tablets. It can only be said that Freemasonry, as it is currently
known, borrowed the best from history, adapting history in the form of
allegory to produce the fraternity which is so well known today. Freemasonry
is not an unbroken heritage, in the historical sense; it is a continuing
philosophical, moral and social passion, based in noble tradition.
One of the most important aspects of Freemasonry, is the
preservation of the value of morality. For all the "Masonic" references to
the various schools of thought, whether the Bible or the Mithraic rites, the
traditions of Masonry illustrate the eternal nature of morality, as a core
element of all enduring civilizations. At a minimum, morality represents
Since Masonry's emergence into the public arena in 1717 as a
fraternity, many well-intended writers have attempted to explain the beliefs
and history of the order. Unfortunately, such a task seems to have been a
magnet for the egos and imaginations of certain writers. Conversely, Masonry
has suffered no shortage of those who seek to express responsible information.
There is no limit to the theories as to the origins and
development of Freemasonry. Many of these theories purport that Scotland was
the true source of Masonry, a surviving legacy of the Knights Templar.
Unfortunately, there is little material to adequately document many of those
theories. Fortunately, the search continues with increasing support for that
Thus is the purpose of this material, to concisely explain, as
best one possibly can, the history, purpose and development of Freemasonry and
it's associated bodies; more importantly, its intrigue.
THE HUMAN MOTIVATION
It is certainly worthy of note, with rare exception, that every
culture has a system which designates one or more individuals as 'unique,'
whether a war hero, leader or celebrity. This is true among the most advanced
or primitive cultures. Often, this is a warrior class unique within a group
of warriors. Almost all the Native American tribes had such a society; if
they were not warriors per se, they were hunters or a group of 'wise men.'
Interestingly, cultures very often demand such a class.
It should be acknowledged that in all arenas of life, we look to
the past for the foundation of our knowledge. We are taught to seek knowledge
and wisdom from parents and elders. We are taught that our success in life
will be largely dependent upon our acceptance of all such guidance, whether
simply good advice or formal education. It is natural, therefore, that we
seek specialized knowledge as a lever or spring-board to facilitate our
success. The hope of discovering an ancient secret is always attractive.
It should stretch no person’s imagination to say that whoever
knows and understands the past; knows the future. The behavior of mankind is
that constant. The technology and physical monuments may change, but the
elemental nature of mankind is so constant, that history is as much a
predictor, as it is a record.
In history, no society has been exempt from those who seek a
shortcut in the form of "specialized" knowledge. There are always those
satisfied that there is a body of knowledge which will give the individual a
special advantage, sometimes power, in life. Interestingly, the most common
of this group are often referred to as 'church-goers.'
In a more extreme form, there are individuals or groups who are
satisfied that there is a truly secret and reliably powerful body of knowledge
which they can access; often enough, prostitute. These individuals can be
found in groups ranging from college fraternities to actual 'black arts'
practitioners. With such associations as the infamous "Skull & Bones," of
Yale fame, one can hardly blame anyone for being suspicious of any ‘private’
To better understand the "function" of Masonry – or anything
like it – ponder a modified version of "Maslow’s Pyramid." On each of the four
pyramid faces, attach a label – "Physical," "Mental," "Emotional:" and
"Spiritual." Next, start with the base of each of those four faces, and assign
a vertical segment, labeled, "Survival," "Security," "Comfort," "Fulfillment;"
lastly and most importantly - "Legacy."
It makes little difference whether we apply such a model to
family, community, church, school; or any type of "organization." When our
"primal needs" are met, we are fulfilled.
At its peak, Masonry had evolved to being a powerful ‘provider;
going a long way toward fulfilling the obvious needs of millions.
Unfortunately for the "Craft," alternate mechanisms entered the various
global cultures, detracting from the traditional offerings of the fraternity.
Unions assumed the role of job provision and security, movies and TV competed
with the entertainment value of the Lodges, etc. Various expressions of
"Politically Correct" crept into the Lodges, with the quiet implication that
if one felt ‘special’ or ‘unique,’ they should also feel guilty.
In the current time frame, the "Craft" has failed to compromise
its traditions to become ‘synchronous’ with appreciate a demand for its
adaptation to modern mandates. Amongst the ‘traditions’ of the Order, it used
to be a smoking and drinking society. The Shriners were famous for their
conventions, complete with "hassling" the cocktail waitresses. Those elements
are not likely to return, at least in the USA.
Whatever debate is available as to the hard facts of Masonic
history, the success of Freemasonry was spawned from a known/proven/presumed
product, for primal needs and wants. Its symbols and rituals effected an
emotional investment/bond to that institution. Any ‘proven’ institution has
an identical appeal; thus, it’s following. It is academic that when any
significant corruption occurs, the primal "trust" issues can quickly dissolve
History provides many of the great names in science (following
their belief system) who were threatened by the Church. 'Good,' in the
objective sense, is not necessarily a requirement to evade judgment and
Throughout history, various formal schools of thought have been
continuous, while others were totally revived from history; the ‘round earth,’
for example; Columbus was persistent, not original.
Among these schools of thought, there are many which are
regarded as ‘esoteric.’ Perhaps the most common in today's culture is
astrology. It is not by accident that, typically, the local newspaper
publishes a daily horoscope; there is that much public demand (intrigue) for
the horoscope. The term "esoteric" is typically regarded as a synonym with
"powerful." Among other human challenges, one is tasked to draw a line between
superstition and religion – however unpopular it may be to say that.
It is fascinating to acknowledge that astrology independently
originated in cultures which were historically segregated by culture and
geography; often separated by oceans. It is also interesting to note that the
independent versions of astrology have a remarkable degree of agreement.
Freemasonry is discovered in such a shadow of ‘mystery, by
virtue of its secret origins, its antiquity and even in its role in history;
particularly in the realm of the spread of democracy. The American Revolution
and the American Constitution trace back to a body of Masons being at the core
of those matters. Whether the French Revolution, the revolutions of Bolivia
or the Philippines, Masonry has been found to be present. The ‘greats’ of
history often have Masonic membership in common, whether a statesman,
scientist, actor, writer, poet or astronaut; Masonry is often found as a
Freemasonry is also considered by some as an elitist
organization, consequently attracting the status-seekers. Masonic membership
is appropriately to be considered unique and prideful. Beyond personal
fantasy, elitism is not a part of Freemasonry; learning, achievement and
contribution are. However, in all fairness, it should be noted that many
Lodges in history have been noted for their economic prowess, with a measure
of elitism actually practiced. Freemasonry can’t exclude all human
Contrary to popular perception, Freemasonry has no secrets. It
has no particularly specialized teachings. Freemasonry simply provides
impressive and organized moral, philosophical and spiritual teachings.
Freemasonry does practice rituals similar to those found in Congress, a
courtroom, a church or an Elk's lodge. Freemasonry honors and encourages
knowledge, morality and good citizenship. A little-appreciated feature of the
"Craft," is the element of moral accountability. In that feature is found the
claim that, "Freemasonry makes good men better."
An educated Mason will readily acknowledge that the actual
secrets of Freemasonry are contained within the forgotten history of the
membership – referred to as "ignorance;" unfortunately. The intended secrets
can all be typically found in the local public library – certainly on the
Internet. The true application of the term, 'esoteric' cannot be
appropriately applied to modern Freemasonry.
However, it must still be acknowledged that Freemasonry carries
the prejudiced reputation of being a secret society - ignorance at its best.
Freemasonry does have a fascinating, and sometimes obscure history; still, no
SO, WHAT IS "FREEMASONRY?"
The commonly accepted definition for Freemasonry is: "A
system of morality, veiled in allegory; illustrated by symbols." The
Masonic system of morality relies on the finest ethics of time. One must
appreciate the chosen allegories, examining the emblems, and the encouraged
practices of the Masonic moral behaviors and philosophies. These recommended
practices have been chosen to prepare the Mason in mind and in spirit.
Freemasonry can be called "a way of life." In the shortest possible
description, Freemasonry is simply "good citizenship," associated with huge
THE DEFINITION OF FREEMASONRY.
Again, the proper description of Freemasonry is "A system
of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Such is
an impressive description, but what should any Mason; or potential member
understand from that description?
For many, that term may seem to generically lack a sufficient
definition. Yet, if we assign the definition, "That which would never
disturb the conscience of a reasonable person," we have a viable
reference. Implied is the element of "identification," meaning that we must
put ourselves in the shoes of the entity being perceived to have "lost"
anything – in essence, applying the Golden Rule. As individuals, would we
willingly suffer that same consequence? Or, as benefactors, could our
conscience tolerate the means of any benefit?
Debates of pure – and inhuman – logic, aside, the vast majority
of any population is inherently aware of the distinction between right and
wrong. Debate will never change that, as a reality. And, "normal" human
beings can all distinguish ‘rationalization’ from true ‘morality.’
Certainly, when we encounter a person trying to "invent"
morality out of a clearly bad proposition, our trust and respect for that
person go out the window. When we encounter a person whose standard for
rationalization exceeds that which we know as ‘integrity,’ we quickly come to
distrust and even fear that person – as a potential threat in our own future.
Thus, in Freemasonry, the element of ‘morality’ is at the
forefront of the fraternity, the element of ‘integrity’ is implied.
Accordingly, Masons hold each other accountable.
In our daily lives, we often encounter a debate as to some
changes, relative to the judgments of "good" and "bad." Often enough,
we’re satisfied with the perception that an event was either good or bad, only
relative to whether one is buying or selling. But, is that
‘buying-or-selling’ surface observation sufficient to one’s personal pride,
dignity and self-respect; or even to an honorable standard of integrity?
Thus, Masons incorporate that third required reference, or
benchmark – morality.
Thereafter, we encounter another ‘unofficial’ definition and
product - or gift - from Freemasonry – "good citizenship."
We see the descriptor – "…veiled in allegory…" -
but few Masons ever address that descriptor, as though the whole world is
reasonably expected to instantly understand the phrase. Yet the "meaning" is
only as distant as a cheap dictionary:
"A story or description, in which the characters or events
symbolize some deeper underlying meaning."
The Masonic teachings certainly go there – very quickly, just in
the morality drama contained in the Masonic Third Degree.
We read the descriptor – "…illustrated by symbols."
There is quite a long list of symbols in Freemasonry, yet the most prominent
set of these symbols takes one to quite an interesting mystery.
Just take the Masonic ‘tools’ (plumb, level & square). Among
other locations, these tools are found in not only the high probability of
such great works as the Egyptian pyramids’ construction, but they are also
found on the base of one of the Egyptian obelisks.
But, is that a simple extreme or coincidence of history?
Archeology aside, we must also observe that Christianity – in
some major format – dominated the origins of Freemasonry. Next, we must
observe that Christianity traces back through Judaism – yes, to Egypt. It is
foolish to think that Moses brought only people out of Egypt, versus the
cultural influence of Egypt – to include the influence of the Egyptian
"mysteries;" the lineage is there.
While the typical ‘man-on-the-street’ might rationalize,
"Oh yeah, but….;" the devoted Mason is left to ask the powerful
question – "What if…"
It is interesting to ponder the thought that powerful
conclusions are the terminating point of powerful questions. Again,
conclusions are a terminating point. The intellectual depth and quality
of the associated questions will determine the quality of the conclusion.
That is also true, if the ‘conclusion’ is reverse-engineered; even
with a re-working of the presumed or known questions – for better or for
Next, ponder the obvious fact that without action, the
ingredients of potential success are worthless. Known gold ore in the ground
doesn’t make for a beautiful ring – without ‘action.’
Conclusions without application are only observations, not components of
change; for good, bad or indifferent.
Another symbol commonly found in Freemasonry is the
Again, out of the land of Egypt, we have a fascinating
association with that symbol. The "triangle" contains three points, three
sides and three angles. Interestingly, the triangle – out of the traditions
of that region’s history – is also commonly employed to symbolize God
- even in Christian circles.
Certainly, we have no way of being absolutely certain, but think
for a moment; is that "triangle" a formula, a model, or, perhaps a message?
Could it be far more than an arbitrary symbol?
In mathematics, does it represent reality in the seeming
equation, "A" is to "B," relative to "C?" Think for a moment.
We do not witness simply three arbitrary points in time and space, we don’t
perceive three disjointed "lines" in time and space, we witness those three
points, lines and angles in the format of inextricable "order and
Any mathematician will quickly advise that such a perception is
far from ‘arbitrary esoteric rubbish.’ Doctorates of that mathematics make a
good living from all that GEOMETRY. "Geometry" is a major
teaching device within Freemasonry.
Yet, there is another relationship to be observed. Our lives
are dynamic, not frozen in space. Our lives represent changes through time;
requiring further "measurement."
In dealing with the perception which humans know as "time,"
there is no absolute standard. The "day" – the standard human measure – is
not the least bit regular as the precision of modern science knows it. Still,
the relative changes of the "day" give us a useful operating reference, as
perceived by the typical person. In all of history, few events have been as
important as the perception of ‘time’ – and season. Ask a computer expert or
a farmer how important ‘time’ is. Nanoseconds or seasons, time is an
inescapable feature - nay, a necessity – of our lives. It must be measured.
The term "time" is – in pragmatic application – a surrogate
descriptor for "relative change." Ah, "relative!" As in "relativity."
Did Einstein "almost" have it right? Is ‘time’ more appropriately treated as
a human perception – a perceived changing physical relationship - versus a
unique ‘dimension?’ Plants and animals respond to environmental and biological
"change," not to a wrist-watch. Only humans observe, analyze, structure and
Try to imagine two Astronauts floating in the expanse of space –
out of view of any specific planetary object, versus surrounded by far distant
stars. Imagine them facing each other’s feet, with one asking, "Which
on of us is upside down?" The other then suggests, "Maybe we’re
level." Without a third reference, they can’t be the least bit certain
– if there IS an answer. They can only perceive that they are inverted –
"relative" to each other. An interesting, but otherwise useless observation.
Now, in that same scenario, imagine one asking the other, "What time is
it?" The other asking, "What day is it?"
We measure "time" - as it’s termed and treated - to the
"RELATIVE" changing of the Earth’s relationship to the sun – as we PERCEIVE
it. Thus, we must contemplate that time is – in fact – ‘relative
The hands move around the clock, the digits change on the
display, the sun & moon rise and set – relative to the human perception. How
many centuries did it take to realize that the Sun doesn’t rotate around the
Earth? It took a THIRD point – for reference – to establish that
‘relativity.’ Should a famous philosophy be altered from "I think,
therefore I exist" to "I perceive, therefore I exist?"
But, return to the land of Egypt and once again note what we
most closely relate to that land – the pyramids. For one thing, there
has never been a satisfactory answer as to how they were built. No one can
account for the supposed tools which were used to cut that mass of stone. No
one can account for the quantity of "time" which would be required, nor the
labor population which would be required. There is no evidence of any
"knowledge" or "technology" which would account for the relative perfection
with which they were built.
Few know that the Great Pyramid of Giza originally was covered
with a polished sandstone, which operated as a mirror, effecting a torch or
beacon on the desert sands. A major earthquake in 1356 shook off that surface
& the remains were scavenged by the local populace.
To continue, we also note that the pyramids are not a seeming
holographic triangular plane in space, but that they have three dimensions.
Interestingly, they have four sides, not just three.
Certainly, anything can be debated indefinitely, but again, stop
to ponder the idea that the dynamic of life has four primary facets –
Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. Even plants have been
demonstrated to have emotions, to the satisfaction of science.
The shape of the pyramids is one of the greatest examples of
structural ‘stability’ and ‘endurance.’
Again, the Egyptian influence is brought forth through the
Out of history, we have another symbol, commonly known as
"infinity," or the "mobius," or "lemniscate."
As one looks at that symbol, it doesn’t take much
thinking to note a symbol for "…ever changing, never ending; always
repeating." This symbol is also used by cartographers, commonly found
on any globe, depicting the cycle of the sun – or rotation of the earth, as
one prefers. Similarly, we must remember that life – itself - is a cycle,
not an isolated and arbitrary event.
Thus, for lack of any absolute answers, ponder the thought that
the "message" in all this, is that there are no absolute answers. BUT, think
to the near-magic which has resulted from "questions!"
In terms of a metaphor, versus a specific story, imagine running
up an alley, encountering a wall, which is impossible to surmount or to break
through – an absolute and impossible barrier. The obvious message is
"turn around; go back, or waste away." The instant question,
Thus, is there a "cosmic" message to the effect of –
"You’ll never have that answer; it doesn’t and can’t exist – go back."
In that process, we have to change something - our relative direction of
perception and motion. Why would we do that? Because there is that seeming
mandate to go back and improve our position – for whatever the reason – or the
outcome. Hence, is the ultimate message, "You exist; change what you
have – for the better?"
Perhaps, that is the "message" left to us by the ‘ancients;’
perhaps from God. Perhaps life is far more a question than an absolute. In
consequence, our curiosities and appropriate actions take us to an
increasingly better place; as it should be. Thus, Masons, are left to explore
and question the matters of "morality," "allegory" and "symbol."
Still, without action, the all of the ingredients of success are
worthless. Freemasonry is about "good deeds." Thus, one can imagine the
historic resistance to such an institution as Freemasonry, by tyrants of all
FREEMASONRY AS A PROGRESSIVE SCIENCE
Freemasonry is designed as a progressive social science; a Mason
step-by-step. From his beginning as a First Degree Mason or
"Entered Apprentice" (youth), to the second Degree of a "Fellowcraft" Mason
(maturity); finally to the Third Degree, or "Master Mason" (old age). The
Mason acquires and applies the knowledge available to him at each level, or
'degree,' ideally perfecting the knowledge and memory ‘skills’ of each level.
A Mason is said to conduct his life by the symbolism of the square, level,
and the plumb. These represent integrity, equality and upright personal
A candidate for Freemasonry is required to come to Freemasonry
of his own free will and accord. The American Grand Lodge system prohibits
recruitment of members. It is hoped that the potential candidate has a deep
respect for Masonry, as a whole, its members and a sincere desire and
motivation to join the fraternity, dedicated to "Brotherly Love, Relief, and
Many a man has been profoundly disappointed that his Masonic
friend has not invited him to join the fraternity. What is commonly unknown
is that recruitment is prohibited. To become a Mason, one must ask the
obvious simple question, "How do I become a member?" It is hoped
that the quality of the fraternity spontaneously inspires a desire for
The fraternity of Freemasonry essentially models its principles
according to those of the ancient operative craft, which successfully
protected its trade secrets. These subsequent "secrets" of Freemasonry
consisted of moral principles as well as the science of architecture and
geometry. Consequently, Freemasonry, the fraternity, originally became known
as a secret society. There should be little doubt that at one time the
fraternal form of the craft was a secret society, fearing an 'inquisition.'
Over the centuries, the fraternity evolved into the public arena, with strong
attachments to the principles of Truth, Justice and Liberty.
In Modern Freemasonry, there are in fact no true secrets.
Again, the teachings of Freemasonry are available in most city libraries,
available for all to read. The craft 'secrets' are more properly described as
"private." The members typically wear the Masonic emblems openly. The Masonic
halls are normally well marked and listed in local phone directories; Masonic
rings and lapel pins are commonly seen. Certainly, the Masonic Shrine is
Contrary to many popularly held opinions, Freemasonry is not an
elitist organization. Freemasonry is neither a religious nor a political
organization. Freemasonry only requires a belief in a Supreme Being,
encouraging its members to be active in the belief of their choice.
Another popularly held myth is that Mason's are secretive,
powerful, tightly knit and self-serving. Certainly, the Masonic meetings are
private – no argument. In reality, Masons are no more secret, powerful and
interactive than the typical church group. However, that is not to say that,
in history, Mason's have not banded together for a common purpose. The
American revolution and the framing of the U.S. Constitution are among he
collective efforts of the Masons, among other landmarks of history.
Conversely, media attention to Freemasonry is hardly worth
mentioning. This fact attests to the magnitude of Freemasonry's "low-profile"
effect in politics and society. As with most ancient organizations, Masonry
had its 'secret' years. The Masonic Lodges date to a time when their members
would have been ferreted out by Church and state, with the risk of torture or
In general, no unique religious dogmas or creeds are permitted
in Masonic practice. Masonry encourages a reverence for a Supreme Being, as
well as a spiritual concern for one's fellow man. Freemasonry does not
directly support any political candidates or issues. Obviously, if a major
issue came up affecting freedom, as Americans know it; the concern will become
a focus. However, Masonry encourages each member to think as an individual
and to fulfill his civic responsibilities, applying an appropriate conscience.
Any discussions of religious or partisan politics are prohibited
in all branches of Freemasonry in the United States. Such issues as freedom
and patriotism are not considered in the light of partisan politics. There
are some distinctly Christian Orders within Freemasonry, as a whole. However,
these are not denominational. The principles contained in these Christian
orders profess the support of Christianity as a function of the tradition of
the Knights Templar (more on that subject later), but not in any terms
different from the Masonic support of any other religious organization.
The Masonic Knights Templar, involve themselves with chivalry
and the support of Christianity, honoring the Order's original and traditional
mission during the Crusades. The same Masons would equally defend any
person's faith. Membership in the Masonic Knights Templar has absolutely no
restriction on one's religious background or belief. Obviously, the Christian
theme of the Masonic Templars wouldn’t be particularly attractive to
Freemasonry has grown from two parallel ideologies. One
ideology is based upon recorded historic fact; the other line is a system of
allegories, which begin with the creation of the world. Over time, the
allegoric has intertwined with the historic to produce the current evolved
fraternal system of Freemasonry.
Again, the factual history of Freemasonry is simply not well
documented. Existing documentation reliably indicates that the craft, as a
fraternity, developed from the operative masons who erected the stone
buildings of Europe. The available documentation suggests that expert
European craftmasons were brought to England to construct the early castles
and churches. With them, they brought the ancient science, legends, rules and
charges of the trade. It is believed that the local trade groups formed
"lodges." Each lodge probably modified and improved the ancient traditions,
charges and legends to suit their existing circumstances. Consequently, no
fixed standards existed within the craft, as a whole.
While many dates are assigned to the organization of even the
stone masons, the best evidence of their formal organization is expressed by
the early English statutes prohibiting such organizations. Following the
Black Plague devastation, the English enacted the "Labourers Statutes" in
1360, which forbade the stone mason's 'congregations, chapters, regulations
and oathes.' This is perhaps the earliest historical testimony to the
systemized organization of the stone masons.
The term "Freemasonry" is an evolved term. There are two
primary approaches to understanding its use. The first approach examines the
term as it was used in respect to operative stonemasons; the other usage is a
The use of the term "Free Mason" occurs in the earliest of the
documents regarding stonemasons. While the term "Freemason" is puzzling,
there are several possibilities for the meaning of this term. One probable
explanation suggests that the individual workmen were free to move from one
building project or country to another, much as the "free agency" status of a
baseball player of today.
Following a building's completion, each "fellow" of the craft
would be left to find employment wherever possible. However, an apprentice
was bound to an individual fellow or master. The apprentice would accompany
the fellow or master, wherever work would take them. In fraternal Masonic
history, 'Fellow' was often used synonymously with 'Master.'
As a requirement to secure new employment, the fellow would be
effectively "interviewed" for the new job. We may assume that the fellow
would have to pass an examination of his knowledge, including an exhibit of
his skill. It is assumed that the fellow would also have to offer some secret
sign or token as proof to the new master that he had "legally" secured his
knowledge and ability, and was a trustworthy craftsman.
Reliable historical records from the early operative masons also
indicate the use of the term 'Freemason' in reference to a certain class or
rank of worker. The term describes one who works (with skill) with stone cut
from the quarry - quality stone. In contrast, the same documents also refer
to those who work with 'roughstone'. In terms of operative stonemasons, these
terms describe, essentially, a rank distinction within the craft.
It is also possible that the term was exclusively used with
regard to a speculative member who was of such high social status as to be
'free.' In such case, we find the terms 'free' and 'accepted' in their
combined form to more adequately describe a speculative member.
To believe in one position or the other is a highly subjective
decision. Again, it is perhaps appropriate to conclude the desired history
in terms of what the individual considers to be most probable. In reality,
such curiosities have the effect of binding the membership, in hope that such
answers can ultimately be discovered.
Given the date of the emergence of Freemasonry as a fraternity,
it is also important to appreciate the historic character of the history of
the particular society - feudalism. As in all societies, to be a free citizen
is as natural as wanting food, water and shelter. Thus, it takes little
imagination to believe that part of the Masonic association was a quest for
equality, or freedom, whether real or self-acclaimed. This is particularly
true when one considers that the early expansion of Freemasonry as a
fraternity was largely a function of the 'speculative' Masons.
History records that the working lodges of England, Germany and
France developed a variety of legends or traditions to explain the origins of
their particular trade. This was typical of any group, whether a village or a
It is historically true that most professional groups identified
early examples of excellence in their field. The medical profession
exemplifies this idea in its ethical standards from the teachings of
Hippocrates, for example, who is the well known father of medicine. The legal
profession claims its history from Hammurabi, the King of Babylon, famous for
developing an early code of justice.
Human pride mandates the establishment of an admirable level of
proficiency from which the trade or professional group attempts to advance, in
a building-block fashion. That same pride requires the establishment of a
history or tradition, from which all knowledge of the science, art or trade is
The stonemasons of the middle ages attempted to build the
highest and most magnificent cathedrals within their capabilities, for both
profit and for the glory of God. Recognizing the social and professional
value of morality, they were also concerned for the moral and spiritual
development of their members. Such development also served as the best
insurance against the compromise of the craft secrets. The human elements of
pride, dignity and self respect had to have been present also. Certainly,
innovation had to have been a powerful component, complete with the human ego.
It is a common trait of human nature to hold ancient knowledge
as being sacred. Toward that end, the Freemasons adopted, as their early
tradition, the account from the Bible of the building of King Solomon's Temple
in Jerusalem as the moral and spiritual foundation for the development of the
craft. Again, human nature utilizes such teachings as a source of
empowerment. One may also depend on the element of personal power being a
part of that picture.
According to the ancient accounts, the stones for building
Solomon's Temple, were so perfectly shaped in the quarries that they joined
perfectly at the building site, "so that there was neither hammer, nor
axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was building"
(I Kings 6:7). This account of perfect workmanship, along with the excellence
of Solomon's organization skill, is taught by the craft as the most fitting
inspiration for future societies.
A number of variations have been added to the Biblical account
of the building of King Solomon's Temple, these are expressed in the form of
allegory. The stories illustrate legends or events of value, or interest and
excitement, to the various classes of workmen employed during the temple's
construction. Many of those legends have been selected (with dynamic
variations in history) by the various Masonic organizations to illustrate and
exemplify moral and spiritual values.
Of all the debates among modern Masons, there is perhaps no
greater debate than that surrounding the claim that Freemasonry is neo-Templarism.
That question conjures a certain ghost of history which haunts
the halls of Masonry. That ghost comes in the form of the question,
"What became of the Knights Templar?" Or, more directly, "Is
Masonry a transcendent of Templarism?"
History contains enough information suggesting that the answer
to the last question is often a resounding "YES!" However, that
response currently remains more of a form of hope, suspicion and conviction,
as opposed to proven fact. As time goes on, there is increasing evidence of
this connection. However, hard proof is destined to be difficult to discover.
Certainly, the element of romanticism affects the beliefs of
many. We are tragically left with "probable truth," as opposed to documented
and acceptable fact. By default, it is currently more appropriate to view the
Templar issue in terms of a revived tradition, as opposed to an unbroken
While passionate debate can be generated in the negative, with
regard to recorded Masonic / Templar history, it must be also honored that the
Templar issue is a faith-based position, with supporting historical fact. As
a practical matter, it should not be discounted any more than one would
utilize recorded history and logic to discount an individual's religious
The Templars are remembered in history as being a military power
unto themselves; the organization was born in Jerusalem, out of the First
Crusade. In the peak of their existence, the Templars also operated as an
economic entity with their own treasury, ship builders, and other crafts. The
affairs of the Templars brought them in contact with an impressive list of
cultures. That, of course, leaves the possibility that the Templars developed
an ‘alternate’ view of history, versus Church teachings.
One school of thought attributes the popularity of Tarot cards –
possibly traditional playing cards - as an underground Templar historical
legend. However, given the date of the appearance of Tarot cards, it’s at
best suggested that it was a dark secret of the Templars, not to appear, until
after their demise.
The Templars were famous for their attachment to organized and
dynamic schools of thought, military or otherwise. The Templars were the
diplomats, lawyers and the original "bankers," serving commerce between the
East and the West. It is highly probable that some within the working units
of the Templar organizations were in fact stonemasons.
It is also necessary to honor the history of many cultural
treasures coming from the Arab world, commonly with the background of
originating in India; Algebra, for example. Thus, the Templars served as a
prominent cultural conduit, for a variety of historic items.
Ultimately, the power and wealth of the Templars attracted the
jealousy and probably fear of both Church and crown. Their arrest was ordered
on Friday, the 13th of October, 1307 (spawning the obvious superstition).
It is generally believed that a contingent of the Knights
Templar escaped to Scotland just before or after the arrest of their Grand
Commander, Jacques De Molay in 1307. Their ultimate fate escapes reliable
history. Many accounts claim that the escaping Templars took the Order's
treasures with them, whether documents or wealth (still missing).
A majority of today's Masons are intimately familiar with the
book, "The Temple and the Lodge" (Baigent & Leigh). This
particular work makes a strong case for the argument that the Templars were
the originators of Freemasonry as it is known today. Adding fuel to the fiery
debate is the book "Born in Blood" (John Robinson). This book
takes an interesting and firm stand in favor of the Templar origin.
Similarly, the books, "Holy Blood Holy Grail" and
"Bloodline of the Holy Grail" cite various points of Christian
history in such a way as to send chills up the spine of the typical, and
knowledgeable, Mason. The essence of these books argue the case that Jesus
was totally human, and left behind a family, via Mary Magdalene. Margaret
Starbird's books add significantly to these issues. Such chills emanate from
the question, "What if this were
proven to be fact?" The book,
"Bloodline of the Holy Grail," takes one into a scholarly and detailed
account of history, which is fascinating.
Supposedly, the Templars possessed a batch of secrets, enabling
them to operate under a cloud of blackmail over the Church. However, there is
also a significant percentage of Masons who argue that the Templar connection
is fanciful nonsense. Again, we are faced with a shortage of documented
history and must resort to the 'probability' element; highly subjective.
There is a quantity of documentation – and even archaeological evidence, but
not quite enough. Thus, the reader must decide the issue for him or herself.
In any case, most Masons regard the Templar connection in the light of a
highly noble and worthy tradition, adopted by the Craft; which should not be
According to those in favor of the Templar history, following
the order for the arrest of the Templars in France (1307), a great number of
the Templars escaped to Scotland and were absorbed into the Scottish society
in the capacity of warrior, farmer, mason, or whatever their capacity would
allow. Scotland was at odds with the Catholic Church and was the best hiding
spot available. This was also the embattled period of Robert the Bruce. An
interesting aspect of fraternal Masonic history is that some of the most
ancient characteristics of Masonry, including symbols, are reliably traced to
Scotland. While history records that Scotland imported the operative craft
from the continent and England, Scotland still produces the oldest craft /
At this point, the reader should begin distinguishing the
evolution of the operative craft into the social or 'speculative' fraternity.
It is also interesting to note that the Masonic fraternity, as such, was
exported from the British Isles to the European continent, perhaps reflecting
the small percentage of surviving Templars outside the British Isles.
The authors of book, "The Temple and the Lodge" were able to
reliably trace the Templars to Scotland through the symbolism on their
gravestones. Some of the gravestones were engraved with the shape of their
sword; some with Masonic tools, particularly the square. Many of the 'working
tools' of modern Freemasonry are also connected to the Templars in their
active years. While such evidence provides little in the way of hard proof,
it is as reliable as one can expect for the era.
There is nothing significant to suggest that these Templars left
a legacy in terms of ‘imported’ French language or customs, therefore it must
be concluded that either the surviving number was small; or that they didn’t
assimilate with the local populations.
In this same light, the famous Roslyn Chapel of Scotland
contains a fascinating and intriguing collection of Templar / Masonic
symbolism. This particular building is the focal point of the Templar/Masonic
connection and has recently attracted a phenomenal amount of research. Let it
be sufficient to say that such history is too extensive to include in this
One of the most intriguing accounts in Masonic history came from
the assertions of Baron von Hund, of Germany. The Baron claimed to have been
initiated into a surviving Templar order which was called "The Order of Strict
Observance" by a gathering of individuals who preferred to remain anonymous.
Von Hund brought this order back to Germany, where it lasted for
approximately thirty years.
As von Hund spread the teachings of this new order, he was
constantly pressed for authentication. Von Hund could only reply that he
didn't know the exact identities of those who had initiated him, but was on
orders to await further contact.
Eventually, the interest in this new order died, for lack of
historic proof. Von Hund went to his grave maintaining that he was telling
In support of von Hund's claim, the writers, Baigent & Leigh,
discovered new and interesting evidence to support his claim. Through
independent research, Baigent & Leigh assembled an identical list of Templar
Grand Masters, matching von Hund's information. They also discovered the
identity of one individual who was cryptically called, "The Knight of the Red
Feather." That person was Alexander Seton, also known through marriage as
Alexander Montgomery. According to information discovered by Baigent & Leigh,
the "Order of the Temple" is currently maintained in the Montgomery family.
The Fraternity of Freemasonry was initially slow to spread on
the European continent. The rapid expansion of Freemasonry in France is often
credited to a Scot known as Andrew Ramsay, famous for what Masons are familiar
with as "Ramsay's Oration." As a consequence of this oration, "Scottish"
Freemasonry was born, to ultimately become the "Scottish Rite of Freemasonry."
This rite will be discussed later.
Add to this intrigue, the 'Grail Romances.' These were the
English tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. These were
not so much arbitrary tales as they were a legend, which focused on the issues
of justice, morality and chivalry. These issues were certainly characteristic
of the Templars. In terms of factual history, while the grail romances are
English, the name, Arthur, is most reliably connected to a Scottish knight and
king of the Scottish people known in that time as 'Britons.' In essence, the
Grail romances served to pass on a knightly and chivalrous legend under the
nose of the Church, while evading allegations of heresy.
OF ALL THE IMAGES, WHY
In Freemasonry, the central theme of the craft contains the
moral lessons learned during the Masonic version of the building of King
Solomon's temple. The temple was destroyed three times. Who is there to
rebuild it a fourth time, but, presumably, masons. According to biblical
prophecies and many current religious beliefs, it will be rebuilt.
One quickly questions the significance of the central theme of
King Solomon's temple. In short, the temple is the historically regarded as
the greatest Earthly tribute to God. Remember that the Masonic fraternity
(Master Masons Lodge) favors no particular religion; the requirement for
membership is a belief in a Supreme Being.
On a related note, it is interesting to remember that the goal
of the crusading Knights Templar was the retaking of Jerusalem - notably the
Temple ruins. Although the Templars fought bravely for the cause of
Christianity, there remains more than idle suspicion that they had a hidden
and ambitious agenda.
THE FORMATION OF THE FRATERNITY
While in the early years of the fraternity of Freemasonry (post
1717), there were some brief attempts to make Freemasonry a uniquely Christian
order, these attempts were short-lived and violently opposed. Such opposition
is interesting in itself, as Freemasonry sprang from an intensely Christian
environment. Additionally, the oppression of all other religions and beliefs
was extremely common, including the oppression of the Jews.
Given the time in history when early fraternal Masonry
developed, we must remember the oppression the populace suffered from both
Church and crown. In this time frame, secrets were death warrants. Secret
societies were an invitation to a torture chamber.
Stonemasonry offered two valuable characteristics, it was both a
respected and a demanded craft; secrets were an accepted part of the trade.
Further, such secrets were not to be found in written form. One must also
remember that however powerful, even the royalty of the time were often unable
to read or write; learned servants, particularly the clergy, were relied upon
for such matters. Consequently, reliance on memory offset illiteracy while
Up until recently, Freemasonry demanded that the fraternal
teachings be strictly mouth-to-ear. Today, it is not entirely uncommon to
still find that tradition in some Lodges.
Further, if the 'secrets' of the stone masons were readily
available in written form, the compromise of these secrets would have been
assured with complete loss of control of the stone craft. Often, such secrets
were considered a national treasure, as well.
It is worth noting the near-secrecy of the Bible, itself, with
the threatened stake-burning of Gutenberg, for having developed the printing
The great cathedrals of Europe represented a surprising leap in
architecture. The architecture of these Cathedrals is referred to as "Cisterian-Gothic."
The labor is attributed to a guild of masons known as the "Children of
Solomon," instructed by the Cisterean Order. It is interesting to note that
St. Bernard started the Cisterean Order and was also the individual who
obtained the Catholic Church charter for the Templars.
Masonry, in its operative form, offered not only a private and
safe environment, but also a fertile ground for philosophy; mechanical or
moral. Masonry also offered another advantage - symbols. Secrets are
valuable only if they are controlled. Thus, it is understandable that the
operative masons also relied on a moral code to protect their craft and the
wages it produced. The tools and symbols served as reliable mnemonic (memory)
devices. In many of the few written documents of the operative masons, the
theme of morality and integrity is quickly discovered. These elements were
necessary for the prominence, growth and survival of the craft - or any
The stonemasons also enjoyed two historical events which
enhanced the demand for their craft, the black plague (1348) and the great
fire of London (1666). Whether it was the demand for manual skills,
cathedrals or the rebuilding of the city of London, stonemasons were in
demand; thus, they were also able to demand in return. Such demand was
probably found in the form of higher wages. While wood was available, stone
With the "plague" killing one-third of Europe’s population, the
population reduction killed any need for any cultural "growth" – including
more cathedrals. Hence, the need for stonemasons fell radically. However,
it is unknown, what percentage of available stonemasons died in the ‘plague.’
Yet, with approximately 300 years of minimal demand for stonemasons; how did
the assumed low demand affect the number of surviving and skilled craftsmen?
With much of the demand for stonemasons gone, how was their body of knowledge
preserved – by whom? Given the general illiteracy, it must be contemplated
that the ‘secrets’ were most typically passed as ‘oral traditions.’
From historical documents – following the great fire of London -
we find English laws enacted which prevented the medieval equivalent of
unionization of the various trades, particularly the stonemasons. Such
statutes glaringly attest to the otherwise powerful position of the
stonemasons. History also records that these laws were difficult to enforce;
consequently, they were largely ineffective. The economic effect of such
'brotherhood, no doubt made its impression on many minds.
In most organized religions of the world, including
Christianity, icons are prohibited. Thus, Masonry also being a philosophical
institution, however secret, had the unusual freedom to utilize common tools
as symbols to express moral lessons. Again, such symbolism enhanced the
memories of those involved with the craft. Such symbolism remains dominant in
the Masonic Lodges of today.
However, in the early years of the fraternity of Freemasonry, an
independent system of morality would be seen as competition to the Church &
thus became another secret, though tolerated, component of Masonry.
At the core of fraternal Masonic symbolism is the science of
Geometry; the foundation of the original stonemasonry. Geometry is
characterized by three elements:
1. Physical Evidence
In a sentence, geometry offered truth as undeniable structure;
provable fact. As a science, Geometry also served to teach people to think
and to apply intuition toward a higher end. The theorems, corollaries and
postulates of Geometry were a model for the logic of almost any system of
In the time of history in which fraternal Freemasonry initially
developed, science, medicine, mathematics and other intellectual schools of
thought were also evolving - with or without the Church's consent. It is
probable that the organized thought process of Masonic geometry illustrated
the power of intellect, thus inspiring organized thought in any field.
It should be remembered also that in the peak of the days of
stonemasonry - the science of the craft (primarily geometry) - was the only
significant pragmatic and valued system which approached science as it is
known today. While there were other sciences evolving, the Church typically
declared them a form of heresy - often inflicting brutal penalties. Again, it
should be remembered that the Gutenberg printing press was initially regarded
by the Church as a form of witchcraft.
One of the most important events of history was the Columbus
expedition. Columbus was far more than an adventurer; he was a crusader for
advancement of truth.
While the argument of advancing ships sails rising above the
horizon has been offered as the core of Columbus's belief that the earth was
round, there were more compelling evidences which couldn't have evaded all the
minds of history. One of the most outstanding evidences in history was the
circular shadow of the earth on the moon. Beyond that, it must have occurred
to many that if a ship could fall off the alleged flat plane of earth, what
happened to the gravid water of the oceans, its fish and the birds?
With the Renaissance (from 1300 to the beginning of the 1600’s),
the Church's power waned and the intellectual position of stonemasonry began
to change; geometry was slipping as the dominant "power science." Also, many
of the key players of scientific thought were (speculative) Freemasons. These
same individuals were instrumental in establishing the English "Royal
Society." This institution was not only influenced and populated by
Freemasons; it was endorsed and financed by royalty. This was the age of free
thought; many of the same people were Rosicrucian’s, as well.
Science of that day equated to technology of today. One of the
most prominent developments of this effort was the chronometer, which allowed
radically more accurate ship navigation. It is interesting to note that,
today, the heart of the computer microprocessor is its internal clock.
Although there are many who, at least mentally, divorce the
modern fraternity from the operative stone-masons, there is an abundance of
records which readily defeat this idea.
THE REGUIS POEM.
The oldest known document of Freemasonry is referred to as the "Regius
Poem;" also known as the "Haliwell Manuscript." The Regius Poem, was
discovered by James Halliwell in the archives of the British Museum in 1838.
The lettering, language and type of parchment strongly indicate that the
document was written in approximately 1390 A.D.
While the Regius Poem was probably written in the 14th century,
it refers to a period of Masonic history in England, existing in the late 10th
century. The document refers to the "Legend of York," forming the basis for
the Masonic prominence of the English city of York. The city of York has been
at the center of Masonic lore since the beginning of Freemasonry. The Reguis
Poem includes the regulations and charges of the craft. These regulations are
composed of fifteen articles and fifteen points, dealing with the spiritual,
ethical and moral responsibilities of the ancient craftsmen. These same
principles are discovered among the speculative Masons of today.
THE YORK LEGEND.
According to the York Legend, Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the
Great, ruled from 924 to 940 A.D. as the first King of all England.
According to the Regius Poem and other legends, Athelstan was a great patron
of Masonry. Also, according to the legends, Athelstan constructed many
monasteries, abbeys and castles. The legend indicates that Athelstan studied
geometry, additionally importing learned men in geometry and craftmasonry. To
create and maintain order in the Masonic work and correct any transgressors,
Athelstan issued a charter to the masons to hold a yearly assembly at York –
so says the legend.
The manuscript indicates that Athelstan "made" many Masons.
According to the legends, Athelstan appointed his brother, Edwin, as the
Grand Master and, according to the legends, the first Grand Lodge was held at
York in 926. The legendary accounts suggest that the Constitutions of English
Masonry were established in York and were allegedly based upon a number of
ancient documents written in Latin, Greek and other languages. Unfortunately,
there is no other supporting evidence of the York Legend.
Legends aside, one will find it curious that the King and Prince
were both patrons of Masonry, presumably speculative patrons, as opposed to
operative members of craftmasonry. Considering that this concept prevailed as
early as 1390 A.D., it is easier to believe that a great many speculative
members of high rank later joined Freemasonry in the 17th and 18th centuries.
However, one question remains unanswered,
"Why would any of the nobility associate that closely with any group of
To better understand the answer to that question, let us regress
to the time of the operative craft in England.
SAXON INFLUENCE ON ARCHITECTURE.
In the Saxon period of England, prior to the Norman invasion in
1066; A.D., most buildings were constructed from wood. A few small, crude
stone churches remain from the Saxon period. Such stone work was typically in
the form of crude natural stones laid to form walls.
From approximately 800 A.D. the Danish and Norse Vikings
repeatedly raided England, destroying any churches within their reach.
Consequently, few other stone buildings were constructed until after the
NORMAN INFLUENCE ON ARCHITECTURE.
When William the Conqueror invaded England, he brought Norman
stonemasons, possessing advanced stone-working skills. These stonemasons
initially served William by building stone castles which prevented the newly
conquered lands from being retaken by the Saxons. The White Tower of the
famous Tower of London, constructed in 1066, serves as an outstanding example
of the work of the Norman stonemasons. William had this tower constructed
within the regular defenses of the city. The base walls of the White Tower
are 15 feet thick, tapering to 11 feet at the top.
Following the Norman fortress building, the Norman stonemasons
next priority was the construction of cathedrals. The style of construction
was Norman or Romanesque architecture, characterized by massive round pillars
with round arches. This style lasted from 1066 until approximately 1200 A.D.
The foundations of the smaller churches of this period were
often characterized by circular construction. The Temple Church built by the
Knights Templar in London in 1185 A.D. is typical of this type of
architecture. The Templar Church is an interesting mix of building styles.
The exterior is distinctly Norman architecture, constructed with round arches
with shallow buttresses supporting the walls. However, the interior of the
church can be described as "transitional Gothic," characterized by lighter
pillars with distinctly tapered or pointed arches. The Templar Church of
London was fortunate to have survived the Great Fire of 1666. However, the
church did lose its roof during an air-raid during WW II - since replaced.
It should be added that the Templars did not uniquely utilize
rounded architecture; such was simply one of their traits.
GOTHIC INFLUENCE ON ARCHITECTURE
During the 12th century, Gothic architecture (from the Greek 'goetik',
meaning 'magical') slowly replaced the Norman or Romanesque style. This new
architecture was characterized by pointed arches and the flying buttresses.
Stonemasons from the European continent were brought to England
by the nobility and clergy to construct higher, lighter and more magnificent
cathedrals, employing the new designs. In addition to the more advanced
skills and knowledge of operative stonemasonry, these continental masons also
carried governing procedures for the craft. It is assumed that they also
brought with them the legends and traditions of their historic roots. Many of
these legends allegedly originated from the ancient mysteries of the Middle
East and Egypt.
It should be remembered that the crusades to the Holy Land also
occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries. The great distances required more
rapid communication than had ever been required. The rapid changes of war and
the consequent demand for communication also facilitated the transmission of
knowledge in all areas, not just between the Middle East and the Western
During the Renaissance period (1300 A.D. - 1600 A.D.) the
progress of civilization accelerated in the western world. The Renaissance
began in Italy, but advanced across Western Europe reviving and accelerating
the interest in arts, literature, knowledge of all sorts, and certainly,
architecture. The Renaissance created a middle class of skilled tradesmen who
were required to efficiently accommodate the new awakening.
As the new middle class expanded, a greater educational need for
common people was needed. Consequently, the application of sound reason
diminished a nearly superstitious Church control of the population. It was
not long before the secular rulers became increasingly dependent upon the
wealthy tradesmen for the financial support of their kingdoms (loans) and
This control shift of national wealth additionally denied the
royalty and Church the necessary or desired funds for their building projects
as well. This monetary control shift subsequently lowered the demand for all
the building trades, in favor of other enterprises.
With the decline in demand for their services, the stonemasons
were no longer boarded or employed by either royalty or the Church.
Consequently, the stonemasons are believed to have resorted to the formation
of independent lodges, hopefully awaiting further employment. The stonemasons
on the European continent and in England soon began to suffer from the
It is assumed that the lodges of the stonemasons did not wish to
entirely disband. As with such as war veterans of today, it may be assumed
that there was a special ‘brotherhood’ to be found amongst the stonemasons –
if for no other reason than a mutual survival group. Consequently, the craft
as a skilled trade slowly transitioned to more of a fraternal organization.
The survival of the fraternal version of the organization required the
stonemasons to "accept" outsiders as "speculative" members of their lodges.
These members became known as "accepted masons," a term which has survived to
the present time.
By the mid 1600's, most of the lodges had transitioned to a more
of a speculative atmosphere. By the end of the 17th century, the membership
of the Masonic lodges was predominately "speculative." Given the predominately
aristocratic quality of the speculative members, one must again question the
underlying motivation of these speculative members. Aristocratic
identification with any form of labor, skilled or otherwise, defied the
One cannot overlook the fact that many of the "lodge meetings"
were local feasts with an abundance of frivolity and drink – no doubt flavored
with some associated ‘wenching.’ It's not unlikely that the feast was a major
portion of the attraction. No doubt the official meeting was independent of
the feast, but such feasts were an integral part of European history.
As the cathedral building commenced in the late 10th century,
local organizations of masons (lodges) were formed, providing an efficient
environment for the erection of the stone buildings. Each "lodge" was
dedicated to its individual structure. There were also similar organizations
for carpenters, glass workers, sculptors, artists, etc. Some of the great
cathedrals required construction periods exceeding 100 years. It is quite
likely that many of the workmen spent an entire lifetime at one location. As
a consequence of the time requirement, it is probable that a master of the
stonemasons would be employed for the term of the construction. This master
would establish his own organization, typically serving as the chief architect
for the project. Under him would be other masters, assigned the various
segments of the project.
Given the English climate, it can be reliably assumed that the
stonemasons would first build a temporary structure which served as both a
headquarters and a storage building. In all likelihood, the craftsmen were
also boarded and fed in this building, probably referred to as a "lodge."
Ultimately, the construction organization acquired the title of a "lodge."
The lodges were structured with apprentices, learning the craft,
fellows of the craft, who were journeymen, and, of course, at least one
Surviving documentation indicates that the lodges were governed
by written laws, rules, and regulations. These laws governed the lives of the
workmen, further providing "charges" for the master and the craftsman which
affected their personal conduct.
Each lodge had its own "trade secrets," possessed by each rank
of the craft. Presumably, only the master possessed all of these trade
secrets, which were primarily a science of geometry and the techniques
applicable to the individual project.
Eventually, employment for the skilled stone masons became
scarce in any particular locality. Later in history, the London Company of
Freemasons was organized, which was to be the only group of its type occurring
in England. This group, however, has never been a part of the guild system.
THE SYMBOLIC DEGREES OF FREEMASONRY
With the decline of castle and cathedral building, the
stonemason's numbers also declined. As time went on, the stonemasons
gradually admitted more and more non-craftsmen into their midst, until the
"speculative" members outnumbered the original craftsmen.
In the early years of speculative Freemasonry, only two degrees
were generally practiced; the Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft. Anderson's
Constitution of 1723 only refers to these two degrees. There are no known
written rituals for the degrees of that time. Masonic historians have only
been able to speculate on their content from published exposés of that period.
It appears that, initially, that the degrees were conferred by a lecture and
the communication of the grips and words of recognition, without significant
Various Biblical legends are known to have been applied within
the craft, with respect to morals and practices during the operative period.
The available references suggest that these dedicated teachings were not
firmly integrated with degree conferrals until approximately 1720 (following
the establishment of the Grand Lodge [Moderns] in 1717). It is uncertain as
to where this practice originated, however, the practice began to spread
throughout the speculative lodges of England.
In 1725, the ‘Moderns’ Grand Lodge of England began permitting
its subordinate lodges to "make Masters." Previously, a Fellowcraft was
considered to be "a master of his trade," as opposed to the Master was
considered to be the "master of the company." The earliest known record
of the conferral of a Masters Degree in a formally chartered lodge occurred in
1732. The 1738 version of Anderson's Constitutions used the term "Master
Mason" in several instances, as opposed to the 1723 edition, which referred
only to Fellowcraft Masons.
THE SYMBOLIC (BLUE) LODGE
[Master Mason’s Lodge]
It is from this background that the three degrees of the Master
Mason's or "Blue Lodge" evolved. (The reference to "blue" lodges borrows the
European concept that the color blue is the color associated with benevolence,
friendliness, loyalty and fidelity.) Consequently, the color for the apron
borders, collars, and other regalia of the Symbolic Lodge is also blue.
Masonic symbolism often artistically portrays the background of the
'starry-decked' heaven as being blue.
Today, the Symbolic or "Blue" Lodges in the United States and
England confer only the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master
The Symbolic Lodge, or "Blue" Lodge, forms the foundation of
Freemasonry. The Blue Lodge is the local body which implements the basic
Masonic programs and policies. It would almost seem that the primary mission
of the Blue Lodge is to create new Master Masons and maintain the foundation
of Freemasonry through normal Lodge operations and through education of its
membership. However, the Master Mason Lodges are, in fact, a bit offended by
the "appendant" bodies, which seem to deplete the Master Mason Lodges.
The officers of a Lodge vary slightly in different
jurisdictions, however, the following list is reasonably standard:
The ritual of the Entered Apprentice degree advocates the
principal tenets of Freemasonry; those being, Brotherly Love, Relief and
Truth. These are portrayed as the requirements for a well ordered life. The
principles of this degree create the basis for future lessons in moral and
spiritual development. The Entered Apprentice Degree teaches the "young"
Mason to utilize the philosophy of the symbolic working tools of an Entered
Apprentice so as to bring spiritual and moral light into his life.
The Fellowcraft degree guides the "mature" candidate so that he
may attain the state of a finished workman. In ancient stonemasonry, the
Fellows of the Craft were not yet equipped with the secrets and wisdom of a
master. It was the fellowcraft who performed the major portion of the work in
the construction of the ancient castles and cathedrals. The Fellowcraft
degree of Freemasonry emphasizes the importance of the five senses, as well as
the development of the Mason's mind and life by utilizing the teachings of the
liberal arts and sciences.
The Master Mason's degree imparts further "elderly" wisdom,
directing the candidate toward a daily quest for additional light and wisdom.
The Master Mason degree imparts the exalted truths, required for a well
grounded life on Earth, while creating the hope for eternal life.
Various documents also indicate that a number of English lodges
began conferring the degrees of Mark Master, Installed Master, The Royal Arch,
and Knight Templar. These will be discussed later.
THE MASONIC APRON
According to Masonic teachings, the ancient craftsmen wore
leather aprons to protect themselves from flying chips as they chiseled the
stone. Therefore, the apron was adopted by the speculative Masons as being
the "badge" of a Mason. However, the assertion that an apron was used by the
stonemasons is not supported by documented history. Again, it is important to
honor the element of tradition. It is probable that the apron originated as a
highly simplistic and easily concealed 'uniform' during the time when Masonry
was, in fact, a secret society.
The traditional material for the apron is white lambskin or
leather; said to be a badge of innocence. Many draw this as a Templar
connection, based on the basic Templar uniform, white being the symbol of
In the 1700s, it was popular to embroider or paint Masonic
symbols on the Mason's apron. Many of these decorations were very beautiful,
portraying various symbols and aspects of Freemasonry. Many of the remaining
aprons of that era portray symbols of the Royal Arch and Knights Templar.
These remaining aprons of that era are displayed in the various Masonic
Lodges and museums. The museum of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh
displays one of the finest collections of these Masonic aprons.
Madame Lafayette embroidered a Masonic apron as a personal gift
to George Washington, in 1780. This apron strongly suggests that he received
the degree of Mark Master and possibly the Royal Arch degree.
In the United States, Masons typically wear a plain white
leather or cloth apron. The aprons of lodge officers and past officers
typically have blue borders and display various Masonic symbols, including the
emblem of their lodge rank.
As ancient craft masonry developed, it became obvious that the
arts and sciences employed by the craftsmen had very ancient roots. The
various legends which composed the lore of the craft assigned moral and
spiritual values to many of the working tools and geometric concepts of the
In the original craftmasonry, only the master was in possession
of all knowledge in the advanced uses of the working tools and the algebraic
and geometric principles. These teachings were not collectively known by the
Each of the working tools was assigned a moral value. According
to these teachings, the common gavel is taught as a tool to shape character,
the plumb represents rectitude of conduct, the square is taught as a tool to
square a Mason's actions with their fellow man. There were many other moral
teachings. Each craftsman was encouraged to dedicate his life to improving
his character in step with his workmanship.
One example of these teachings is the "point within the circle."
The principle of the "point within the circle" was the most accurate method
available to construct or test (try) the builder's square. The use of the
"point within the circle" diagram was one of the master's secrets. If the
working tools of the craftsmen were periodically "tried," (proven) it was then
almost impossible for their tools or their skill to deteriorate.
In the lore of the so-called "ancient mysteries," the circle
represents the sun. The circle or sun was flanked by two perpendicular
parallel lines representing the solstices. This imagery was adapted in a
spiritual sense by placing the name of God in the center of the circle; the
parallel lines representing the power and wisdom of God.
In the symbolism of Freemasonry, the name of God was removed,
substituting a point or dot. The Holy Bible was added to the top of the
circle. In the Masonic use, the parallel lines represent the Holy Saints
John, the patron saints of Masonry. As in the ancient mysteries, the two
parallel lines represent the solstices, which represent the tropics of Cancer
and Capricorn; as the sun never extends beyond these points. The dates of the
solstices are, June 21st and December 21st. These dates closely coincide with
the feast days of the Masonic patron saints of St. John the Baptist being
June 24th, and of St. John the Evangelist, December 27th.
The fraternity has selected numerous images and emblems to
symbolize moral teachings. Many of these images do have their origin in the
superstitions of the ancient mysteries. However, Freemasonry avoids
superstition, using these symbols to exclusively represent current moral
The Sacred Book of Divine Law, typically the Bible, is placed
upon the altar of the Lodge. This is also often referred to as the "Volume of
Sacred Law," avoiding any hint of religious prejudice. Many Lodges have a
variety of religious "Volumes of Sacred Law" on the Altar, at the same time.
The Masonic working tools, such as the compasses, the
twenty-four inch gauge, the common gavel, the plumb, square, level, and
trowel, are presented in the context of additional moral teachings to the
The fraternity utilizes a long list of symbols and emblems to
portray various spiritual or moral lessons. Freemasonry places elementary
values upon each of the symbols. The individual member is left to further
interpret these values and then apply them in his daily life.
THE HOLY SAINTS JOHN
The Masonic lodges are dedicated to St. John the Baptist and
St. John the Evangelist.
From the earliest writings of the craft, St. John the Baptist
has been the patron of Freemasonry. However, St. John the Evangelist was
selected as a patron saint of the craft at a much later date.
During the medieval years of operative masonry, St. Thomas was
the original patron saint of architects and builders, and therefore he was
also the patron saint of operative masons.
The Saints John were selected according to their personal
attributes, as the teaching of the Saints John exemplify the Masonic
St. John the Baptist is remembered for his personal integrity
which allowed him to adhere to the obligations he felt he owed to God and to
his fellow-man, under the most adverse circumstances. While he condemned
vice, even to kings, he also preached repentance and the mandate of a virtuous
life (Luke 3: 214). Unfortunately, his convictions ultimately cost him his
St. John the Evangelist preached the need and the cultivation
of brotherly love, as expressed in the entire thread of his Gospel and
Epistles. The Masonic teachings reflect the First Epistle of John.
While the Saints John are remembered for highly admirable
virtues, it is interesting to note that their birthdates are in very close
approximation to the Summer and Winter solstices. While speculative at best,
it makes one wonder whether or not the birthdays of the saints were converted
in the same fashion as Christmas being a converted pagan (winter solstice)
holiday, as many know, Jesus was not born on December 25th; March 7th is often
cited as historically correct.
What did common stone masons possess that could entice the
nobility of the time to join their number as "speculative" members? In all
likelihood, the answer is the basis for their existence, which was founded
upon reliable facts, unfailing loyalty and a system of morality and integrity.
The stone masons made their living on powerful and unchanging
facts, depending on the loyalty and integrity of the members of the craft.
The stone masons would have been highly critical thinkers, given to believing
only verifiable facts. The theorems, postulates and corollaries of "Geometry"
also taught people to logically think – for themselves. That detracted from
the "blind faith" of the Church, or the ‘propaganda’ of the crown.
In all probability, the stone masons made a science out of
accumulating interesting, accurate and useful information of all types,
including factual details of history. Unfailing facts and truth fueled their
existence. Within the operation of the stone craft, rapid and accurate
communication would also have been a necessity.
It should be remembered that there has rarely been found a
civilization which wasn't overrun with corruption and avarice. The demand for
the stone craft would have its membership essentially immune from attack by
Church or crown. It probably would have been perceived that the deepest
secrets of the craft served God and king alike. Being regarded strictly as a
working class, stone masons would not represent any threat to the nobility or
It is therefore likely that the interested nobility looked to
the stone masons as reliable sources of history, for information, and as spies
and couriers. The craft honor code served to protect their membership.
Consequently, a speculative member stood the advantage of being well
informed, served and protected. The brotherhood of the stone masons could
have easily earned such respect that the craft was very attractive to the
Conversely, the speculative member would most likely be in a
position to reciprocate by serving the few needs of the craft, whether it be
money or influence. Over time, the demand for stone masons fell to the degree
that the speculative membership gained a significant majority of the general
lodge membership, wherever masonry was found. Thereafter, the craft as a
fraternity, would probably have attracted men from all stations in society.
With this transition, Freemasonry was born as we know it today.
RECORDED MASONIC HISTORY
Officially, Masonic history begins in the early 18th century,
when many of the lodge records began to be preserved in written form.
The various documents in this early period leave us with a
confusing image of Masonic practices in the late 1700 and early 1800s. These
documents appear in the form of various charters, correspondence, minutes,
certificates and newspaper articles, as well as non-Masonic literature. From
these sketchy records, Masonic historians have deduced that prior to 1700 the
operative lodges did not utilize a system of numbered degrees, rather a simple
ceremony to advance a member to a higher rank within the craft.
The designation of the Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft rank,
(not Master Mason) became established very slowly from 1690 to 1717. However,
we must remember that these titles had been used for many centuries in
operative masonry, without the designations of ceremonial degrees.
The Masonic traditions and legends alluding to the teachings of
the Bible begin to appear in Masonic writings during this same period.
Following the formation of the premier Grand Lodge of England in 1717, many
ancient documents were collected and studied. The result was "The Gothic
Constitutions." These legends, allegories and charges originated in the
operative craft from approximately the 12th to the 16th centuries. The
legends are similar in that they trace Masonic practices from ancient times to
contemporary times. The craft charges appearing in the Gothic Constitutions
concern themselves with the craftsmen of the operative period.
Speculative Freemasonry, as we currently know it, was formed in
the 18th century. It is frustrating that the few lodge records from that
period do not yield very much information as to the associated lodge
practices. The lodge minutes of that time would be typically simplified to
state that a meeting was held on a particular evening with very few details
other than the business of the lodge. The names of those in attendance would
rarely be mentioned, including the names of the officers. The only particular
information might indicate that other non-financial business was transacted.
At best, the minutes might state that a brother was initiated or advanced as
A study of these accounts, however brief, has permitted the
Masonic historians to conclude that the lodges of the time (1700s) were
conferring three degrees, incorporating the Biblical traditions with which we
are familiar today.
Given the uncertain history of Freemasonry, there remains the
open question as to the prejudice behind the Masonic degrees. It has already
been noted that, in general, the Freemasonry of the time initially used a
two-degree system. However there is significant debate as to whether or not
the third degree (and the attempts to limit Masonry to three degrees) was a
matter of extreme prejudice; steeped in esoteric history. For that matter
there is another curious issue from a group of Masons who eventually
instituted the York Rite of Freemasonry; who insisted that there was yet a
The content of the degrees of the early 18th century are
uncertain at best. There are no known ‘official’ printed rituals. It is
believed that all of the esoteric work was communicated exclusively by
mouth-to-ear. The known lodge records do not directly refer to the
methodology. Exposes of Masonry began in 1723. Ironically, it is from the
exposes that it is possible to establish a number of the Masonic practices
which existed in the 18th century, as opposed to official lodge records.
THE FIRST GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND (1717)
Four Lodges assembled in 1716 at the Apple Tree Tavern in London
to form what was to become the foundation for a Grand Lodge. The assembly
established St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1717, as the date for their
first official meeting, to be held at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in
London (corrupted from the Swan and Lyre Ale House; named after a musical
group which met there). Anthony Sayer was elected as the first Grand Master.
While the remaining officers consisted of both Speculative and Operative
members, the new Grand Lodge was, for all intents and purposes, a speculative
THE GOOSE & GRIDIRON ALE-HOUSE
FOUR ORIGINAL LODGES
The Goose and Gridiron Ale-House was located in a section of
London known as St. Paul's Churchyard. The name was a corruption, or parody,
on the arms of the "Swan and Lyre," a musical society which also met at the
ale-house. The building was constructed with five floors, including the
basement. The largest dining room, on the second floor, measured only 14 by
21 feet in area.
Masonic history records the beginning of the Grand Lodge of
London and Westminster as being organized there on June 24, 1717, by a
combined meeting of four local area Lodges. One of Lodges among the original
'Four Old Lodges' met there, assuming the name of the ale-house.
Dr. Anderson tells us that a Grand Lodge 'pro tempore' was
formed at the Apple Tree Tavern in 1716, with no Grand Master elected and with
no regulations or laws of any kind formulated. This meeting amounted to an
agreement to meet the following June 24th to form a Grand Lodge, at the Goose
and Gridiron Alehouse.
The famous meeting of June 24, 1717 (birthday of St. John the
Baptist) was the designated as the Annual Assembly and Feast. Three
additional annual meetings were subsequently specified by the original General
Regulations; one on Michaelmas (in September), one just after Christmas
(December 27 - birthday of St. John the Evangelist), and another on Lady Day
(Annunciation Day, March 25). There is no record that these specified
meetings actually occurred. In any event, it should be noted that the
original intent was not to seize control of Freemasonry, versus simply having
a few scheduled combined meetings, with an associated feast. (And, look what
At the organizational meeting, the four Lodges elected Anthony
Sayer, as the 'oldest Master Mason and then Master of a Lodge', as its Grand
Master, agreeing to hold a 'Grand Feast' once a year. Sayer appointed his
Grand Wardens and 'commanded the Master and Wardens of Lodges to meet the
Grand Officers every Quarter in Communication.'
The four original Lodges which effected the formation of the
"premier" Grand Lodge are referred to as 'The Four Old Lodges.' They were
known by the names of the taverns or ale houses where they met. The
distinction between ale-houses and taverns, if there was any, is probably
Dr. Anderson lists the 'Four Old Lodges' as:
1. At the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul's
2. At the Crown Ale-house in Parker's Lane near Drury Lane.
3. At the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden.
4. At the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.
The original List of Lodges, published in 1725, displayed a
pictorial representation of the name or sign of the tavern or ale house where
each of the lodges met, in addition to the appropriate names of the locations
or the streets and the meeting nights. The first on the list was represented
by a picture of a Goose and Gridiron, opposite of which were the words, "St.
Paul's Churchyard, every other Mond from ye 29th of April inclusive."
Coil's Encyclopedia informs us that the lodge which originally
met at the Goose and Gridiron Ale house in 1717 continued to meet at that
location until 1729. It then moved to the King's (or Queen's) Arms Tavern in
the same area of London, where it remained for an extended period of time. On
the Engraved List of Lodges of 1760, it assumed the name, "West Indian and
American Lodge." In 1770, this name was changed to "A Lodge of Antiquity."
In the 1770s, William Preston, Masonic writer and ritualist, was
elected its Master, giving the Lodge renewed esteem and dignity. Later, the
Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Albany each became Master of the Lodge for
several years. While the name has been changed, the descended Lodge is still
active. It currently meets at the Freemason's tavern and the Freemason's Hall
The ale-house was eventually torn down; however, the physical
symbol of the goose was retained in the Masonic archives. Despite a variety
of drawings which depicted its image with reasonable accuracy, the archivists
were surprised to discover that the goose was actually standing in a crown.
The original symbol has recently been restored.
In the interest of justice, the history of the remaining three
Lodges is also warranted.
The second Lodge which originally met at the Crown Ale-house is
believed to have originated in 1712. It later moved to Queen's Head Tavern,
Turnstile, Holborn in the year 1723. It then moved to the Green Lettice, Rose
and Rummer, and then to the Rose and Buffloe. In 1730, the Lodge met at the
Bull and Gate, Holborn. The Lodge last appeared on the Engraved List of 1736;
struck from the roll in 1740. An application for its restoration was later
submitted and denied on the grounds that none of the petitioners had ever been
original members of the Lodge during the term of its original existence.
Thus, the tragic demise one of the Four Old Lodges.
The third Lodge which originally met at the Apple Tree Tavern on
Charles Street, Covent Garden in 1717 moved to the Queen's Head, Knaves Acre
in approximately 1723. According to Dr. Anderson Constitutions of 1738,
after the move to the Queen's Head, there was some form of disagreement
between the members resulting in a new constitution for the Lodge. Given that
none of the original 'Four Old Lodges' was expected to hold warrants, Dr.
Anderson's information implies that there must have been a break in the
continuity of this Lodge, necessitating a new authorization.
However, the known history does not imply that there was a
significant interruption as had occurred with the Crown Lodge. Unfortunately,
Masonic history has not been kind to the Lodge. At some time before 1755, the
Lodge moved to the Fish and Bell, on Charles Street, Soho Square, there it
remained until 1768. In 1768, the Lodge moved to the Roebuck, on Oxford
Street, under the name of "Lodge of Fortitude," remaining there until 1793.
In 1818, it merged with the Old Cumberland Lodge (constituted in 1753). It
since been known as the "Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No. 12." The
changes name and status caused such confusion that the identity of the Lodge
was lost for nearly a century. The root of the confusion began with the
acceptance of the new warrant in about 1723. The new warrant led to the
inference that it was originally organized in that year. In substance this
Lodge appears to be the old Apple Tree Lodge. However it was apparently
technically ruled to be a new lodge, having had a warrant forced upon it.
Such is a tragedy of Masonic history, as the preliminary meeting
for the organization of the Premier Grand Lodge was held at the Apple Tree
Tavern in 1716, with the first Grand Master, Anthony Sayer, a member of the
The fourth Lodge which met at the Rummer and Grapes in 1717 had
George Payne, the second and fourth Grand Master, Dr. Desaguliers, the third
Grand Master, and several others who became Grand Masters, together with Dr.
James Anderson, as members. The Lodge moved to the Horn Tavern in 1723,
taking the name, "Horn Lodge." In 1764 a new Lodge was formed at the Horn,
with the effect of the decline of the old Lodge. In 1774, it consolidated
with Somerset House Lodge. In 1818, it once again consolidated with a younger
lodge, "Royal Inverness Lodge." The old Lodge now works as "Royal Somerset
House and Inverness Lodge No. 4."
This "Grand" Lodge initially controlled only a few lodges in the
London and Westminster areas. Gradually, additional lodges became affiliated
with that Grand Lodge. It was to take nearly a century, however, before all
the English lodges were affiliated with the Grand Lodge.
This original Grand Lodge was destined to conflict with other
local Lodges, and the lodges of York. The York lodges would form their own
Grand Lodge eight years later. Needless to say, there was sufficient chaos
To minimize the confusion, one should know that there were
essentially six Grand Lodges in England, with as many as four of them
operating in the same time frame:
A. The first - or Premier Grand Lodge of 1717, as the name
indicates, was the first in the world.
B. In objection to the "Premier" Grand Lodge, in 1725 an old
lodge in York formed the "Grand Lodge of All England." Later, following a
schism in 1779, another Grand Lodge emerged out of this one - the "Grand Lodge
of England, South of the River Trent;" which lasted for only ten years.
C. The "Antients" Grand Lodge was formed in 1751, following
a schism over the issue of the "Premier Grand Lodge" focusing on attracting
the English aristocracy. This organization lasted until the reconciliation of
D. In 1813 the "Premier" and the "Antients" Grand Lodges
resolved their differences, forming "The United Grand Lodge of Antient Free
and Accepted Masons of England," now known as the "United Grand Lodge of
E. In 1823 there was yet another schism in the United Grand
Lodge, leading to the formation of "The Grand lodge of Free and Accepted
Masons of England according to the Old Traditions." It lasted until 1913 with
periods of total inactivity.
Following the organization of the original ("Premier") London
Grand Lodge, in 1717, a call throughout all of England was made for any
existing Masonic documents. The Grand Lodge solicited any lodge minutes,
lists of charges to the workmen (the "Old Charges"), historical papers and
correspondence. These were collected and analyzed to establish a formal
history of Freemasonry.
Unfortunately, this effort was deemed by some to be a heretical
compromise of critical Masonic secrets, resulting in many records and
documents being destroyed.
Dr. James Anderson, a Presbyterian minister, was commissioned
by the Grand Lodge to sort the collected data, and to construct a Constitution
for the newly formed Grand Lodge. Anderson's Constitutions were adopted in
1723. Anderson's Constitution of 1723 included a presumed history of Masonry.
Anderson's history was more appropriately called a condensation of legends,
charges, laws and allegories which previously existed within the craft.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s account of the Masonic beginnings was more than a
This history was delivered to new Masonic candidates in the form
of lecture. Anderson's Constitution also included the "Charges" for both the
Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts.
It should be noted that in 1730 Samuel Prichard published an
exposé, called "Freemasonry Dissected." While it was rated as being
‘fanciful,’ its contents was of such intrigue, as to re-shape the course of
Masonic ritual. This document seems to be the source of the "Third Degree" of
However, over many years, additional material was accumulated.
The new material forced Dr. Anderson to revise his Constitution to reflect
the new material. The new Constitution was formally adopted by the Grand
Lodge, becoming known as "Anderson's Constitution of 1738." In the new
Constitution, many changes were made in the history of the craft – the
evolution had begun. Several of the charges which had previously been applied
to the Fellowcraft degree were now assigned to the new Master Mason degree.
The third Degree is believed to have originated in England.
However, the oldest documentation which cites this degree is, again, from
The early Constitutions of Freemasonry were clearly biased
toward Christian teachings. In England, it is obvious that the operative
Masons were predominately Roman Catholic. This would not change until the
Protestant reformation, which occurred in the 16th century. However,
Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 and 1738 omitted all pre-existing references
to Christianity. Today, symbolic Freemasonry (Master Mason’s Lodge) is
impartial to any particular religion.
The arms of the "Moderns" Grand Lodge consisted of three castles
with compasses and a chevron. The arms were derived from those of the
Freemason's Company of London, with the chevron shown plain instead of
engrailed. The first known appearance of the arms is found in 1730. The
speculative Masons at that time were generally of the opinion that these arms
overlooked the opportunity to promote Masonic emblems with strong symbolic
value; future Grand Lodges were to correct this oversight.
THE YORK GRAND LODGE
The York lodge was in possession of records dating from 1705 and
claimed its existence from Athelstan's organization in 926. This lodge formed
what it called the "Grand Lodge of All England" in 1725. However, this Grand
Lodge only controlled a few of the lodges in the immediate area of York. The
Grand Lodge of All England only had irregular activity during its existence,
until 1792, when it ceased activity altogether. Several lodges subordinate to
the Grand Lodge of All England operated independently into the early part of
the 19th century.
It should be noted that the "York" organization protested the
abandonment of the ‘old ways’ of the fraternal Masonry.
The "Grand Lodge of All England," was located at York, which was
acclaimed as the birthplace of all English Masonry. This Grand Lodge
preferred adherence to the ancient charges and practices of operative Masonry.
Due to its history and location, many of the independent lodges in the York
area looked to this Grand Lodge for guidance and precedents for their
organization and operation.
The records of the York Grand Lodge indicate that it regularly
conferred the degrees of Knight Templar and the Holy Royal Arch as the 4th and
5th degrees, connecting these degrees with what is referred to as "Ancient
York Masonry." Existing records also indicate that some of the independent
lodges reversed the order of these degrees.
However, it must be noted that the rivalry with the "Premier
Grand Lodge" called for some form of ‘one-upmanship.’ In all likelihood, the
York Grand Lodge (and/or those later known as the ‘Antients’) borrowed from
Ramsey’s claims as to the history of the Craft dating to the Templars. One
such opportunity was the ‘Hiramic Legend,’ which asserted that the true
Mason’s word was lost, thus a ‘substitute’ word was left. Hence, the York
Grand Lodge could seize on that ‘void,’ claiming to be so ‘original’ as to
possess the ‘true word’ of the Craft.
Although the Grand Lodge of York failed to thrive, its
contribution to modern Freemasonry was its historic connection between the old
and the new fraternities. That contribution was far from being ‘minor.’
A third contender for the title of "Grand Lodge" – "The Antients,"
was founded in 1751 - adopting the Arms which bore in their four quarters, the
devices of a Man, a Lion, an Ox and an Eagle; with the Ark of the Covenant as
the crest, with cherubim as supporters and the motto ’Kodesh lo Adonai’.
(Holiness to the Lord). Adonai being substituted in pronunciation, in
accordance with Jewish usage, by the tetragrammaton ‘Yahweh’. Lawrence
Dermot, in Ahiman Rezon, made the claim that the image for the arms had been
found among papers of a 17th Century Jewish scholar.
THE GRAND LODGE OF IRELAND (1730)
The Grand Lodge of Ireland was formed in 1730, publishing its
own Book of Constitutions. The Irish Grand Lodge also warranted a number of
military lodges in the British regiments during the period of English colonial
Several of the early Irish lodges, as well as those attached to
the British regiments are also known to have conferred the degrees of Royal
Arch Mason and High Knight Templar.
THE GRAND LODGE OF SCOTLAND (1736)
The Masonic lodges of Scotland are known to have admitted
speculative members earlier than any other Masonic region of the British
Isles. Ironically, Scotland was the last to constitute a Grand Lodge. The
Canongate-Kilwinning Lodge, located in Edinburgh, first proposed the formation
of a Grand Lodge in 1735. In that time frame, there were known to be in
excess of 100 lodges in Scotland; many of them still primarily composed of
The Grand Lodge of Scotland was officially formed in 1736,
having convened with the delegates of 33 Lodges. The Scottish lodges were
numbered according to documentary evidence of the age of the Lodge.
Controversy as to the age of some of these Lodges still persists.
THE (ANCIENT) GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND (1751)
The original name of this Grand Lodge (not to be confused with
the Grand Lodge of 1717) was "The Grand Committee of the Most Ancient and
Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons According to the Old
Institutions." This lodge is also referred to as the "Atholl Grand Lodge,"
reflecting the acclaimed history of the Dukes of Atholl having served as its
Following the formation of the original Grand Lodge in London in
1717, that Grand Lodge created a heated controversy by initiating a number of
changes which, in the opinion of many Masons, modernized the craft to excess.
These "modern" lodges began to exclude the working man from lodge membership,
catering, instead, to the aristocrats. Compounding the situation, Irish
Masons residing in London were refused visitation in these lodges.
Consequently, many lodges in England refused to affiliate with the Grand
In consequence to the Grand Lodge's aristocratic preference, in
1751, six independent lodges in London formed what was to become "The Most
Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons According to the
Old Institutions," subsequently to be called, "The Ancient Grand Lodge." Many
Masonic scholars credit the "Antients" with much of the Masonic ritual, in use
However, there was an interesting twist in the fray, that the "Antients"
and "Moderns" switched the modes of recognition, attempting to dissuade dual
membership, or, outright ‘spying.’
Lawrence Dermott was elected the second Grand Secretary of this
newly formed Grand Lodge in 1752. He is credited with assembling the
administration for the Ancient Grand Lodge and also for writing "The Ahiman
Rezon" (Hebrew for "A Help to a Brother") in 1756. This document became the
Constitution for the Ancient Grand Lodge and its subordinate lodges.
In the Ahiman Rezon, Dermott asserted that the Royal Arch was
the root and body of all Freemasonry.
While only the first three degrees of Masonry were recognized by the
"Moderns," the "Antients" insisted that the Royal Arch degree was a required
part of Ancient Craft Masonry, insisting that it remain within their system.
In support of that position, the heraldic arms of the "Ancient" Grand Lodge
was primarily composed of the symbolism which related to the Royal Arch. The
conferral of this degree within the symbolic lodge created a debate which is
Among other matters to do with the Royal Arch is the three-part
"secret word," which was originally the word "God," spoken in three different
languages. Unfortunately, the ignorance of time took hold, with the origin
somehow forgotten; with the anti-Masons gathering to contend that the word
represented ancient Egyptian paganism. Sadly, given the ignorance which
prevailed, many in the Craft became apologists, versus doing responsible
research, correcting the record.
During the 1760's and 1770's the Ancient Grand Lodge mistakenly
assumed that the York Grand Lodge had become totally dormant. Consequently,
during that time frame, several references were made to the system of the
"Ancients" as being "Ancient York Masonry." Unfortunately, these statements
induced a number of Masonic writers to mistakenly credit many activities to
the York Grand Lodge when such references should have been correctly made to
The Ancient Grand Lodge was adamant that they had always
practiced "Ancient York Masonry," as derived from the original organization of
King Athelstan at York in 926 A.D. The Ancient Grand Lodge further maintained
that all other recent developments of the craft conflicted with the "Ancient
In order to distinguish the differences between systems, the
Lodges and Grand Lodges evolving from the Ancient Grand Lodge of England are
referred to as practicing "Ancient York Masonry."
Given that the Ancient's Craft Lodges conferred the degrees of
The Holy Royal Arch and Knight Templar, those particular degrees were so
popularly attributed to York Masonry, that, in the United States, these
degrees are labeled as "The York Rite." The fact of the matter is that the
American "York Rite" borrowed heavily from what became known as the "Scottish
Rite" supposedly originating in France.
Two other "Grand Lodges" were formed in London during the 18th
In 1770, "The Supreme Grand Lodge" was formed by several
chartered lodges which had previously split from the Ancients Grand Lodge.
This Grand Lodge expired between 1775 and 1777. Four of their affiliated
lodges re-affiliated with the Ancients; one with the Moderns.
In 1779, "The Grand Lodge of England South of the River Trent"
was formed out of the Lodge of Antiquity (Moderns) in London. It is first
necessary to appreciate the background of this Grand Lodge.
In 1777 the Lodge of Antiquity (originally the "Goose &
Gridiron") was under the leadership of the famous Masonic ritualist, William
Preston, as a Moderns lodge. In the next two years, an internal battle ensued
among its members which resulted in the lodge seceding from the London Grand
Lodge, applying to the Grand Lodge at York for a charter, which was granted on
March 29, 1779. The York charter authorized the new lodge to form a Grand
Lodge South of the River Trent.
This new Grand Lodge endured for only ten years, constituting
only two additional lodges. Eventually, these lodges reconciled their
differences with the Modern Grand Lodge and were reinstated in the ‘Modern’
Grand Lodge in 1789.
Preston should also be noted as one of the earliest of those to
produce printed material for use in Lodge Ritual. His work is known as "Preston’s
Illustrations of Masonry," strictly a work of text, however.
UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND (1813)
Ultimately, after nearly a century of battling, the competing
Grand Lodges died or reconciled their differences, with the Antients and the
Moderns finally reconciling their differences, merging into "The United Grand
Lodge of England" in 1813.
However, the delegates of both those bodies differed on their
views as to what place the Holy Royal Arch degree should, or should not,
occupy in Freemasonry.
The "Modern" Grand Lodge delegates advocated its omission, while
the "Ancients" maintained that it should be incorporated into the system.
Following a heated debate, the following statement of reconciliation was
incorporated into the United Grand Lodge Act of Union:
"It is declared and pronounced that pure Ancient Masonry
consists of three degrees. and no more: viz: Those of the Entered
Apprentice. the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme
Order of the Holy Royal Arch."
"But this article is not intended to prevent any Lodge or
Chapter from holding a meeting in any of the degrees of the Orders of
Chivalry, according to the constitutions of the said Orders."
In those statements, the United Grand Lodge of England formally
acknowledged a rightful place of the Royal Arch and the Orders of Chivalry
within the approved Masonic structure. However ‘tongue-in-cheek’ the
statement may have been, it permitted the York Rite to survive – and thrive!
Toward that end, the heraldic arms which were selected by the
United Grand Lodge impaled the castles of the Moderns lodge with the Royal
Arch banners of the Ancients, supported by modified cherubim, and the crest of
"HEAR, SEE AND BE SILENT"
LODGES IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES
During the years that speculative Freemasonry was taking shape
in England, lodges were also being formed in the American colonies. The
earliest reference to a Lodge meeting in the American Colonies was in 1730, in
This meeting occurred in an un-chartered lodge, under the
authority of the "Old Charges." These permitted Freemasons to assemble, form a
lodge, and conduct business without a warrant or charter. If such a lodge
were to later achieve permanency of operation, it was then designated as a
"time immemorial lodge," and was considered to be a "regular" lodge.
The writings of Benjamin Franklin referred to several lodges
which existed in Pennsylvania in 1730. Franklin became a Mason in 1731 in a
lodge which met in Philadelphia, at the Tun Tavern. William Allen became the
Tun Tavern Lodge Master in 1731, declaring that he was forming a Grand Lodge
with the express intent of gaining jurisdiction over Masonry in the
surrounding area. However, this attempt to form a Grand Lodge failed within a
few short years.
The Freemasons of Boston, Massachusetts, were equally active as
the Masons of Philadelphia in the early years. Unfortunately, there are no
written records of their meetings prior to 1733. The Grand Master of England
(Moderns) commissioned Henry Price as the Provincial Grand Master of New
England in 1733.
This new Grand Lodge opened in Boston on July 30, 1733. This
Lodge has since been referred to as the "First Lodge" in America. This lodge
still exists as St. John's Lodge. With the issue of the official charter
for this lodge, Massachusetts claims the origination of "regular Masonry" in
While a commission had been previously issued to Daniel Coxe to
be Provincial Grand Master of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in June
of 1730, there is no record to be found of any resulting Masonic activity.
James Oglethorpe, who was the founder of the colony of Georgia,
becoming its first governor, was another strong proponent of Freemasonry.
Oglethorpe's Masonic enthusiasm resulted in the formation of the "Lodge at
Savannah, Georgia," on February 10, 1733. In 1776 this Lodge was renamed
Several Provincial Grand Masters were commissioned in the other
Colonies during the succeeding 50 years. By the time of the American
Revolution, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, had Provincial Grand
Lodges commissioned under both the Modern and Ancient Constitutions.
The Provincial Grand Masters of these lodges occasionally
chartered lodges in other colonies which had no other Grand Lodge supervision.
Several "time immemorial lodges" were also formed in these years. The
formation of many of these lodges was inspired by military Masonic lodges
attached to the British regiments in the Colonies. Most of the colonial
military lodges were warranted under the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
The aristocratic quality of the Modern Grand Lodge of England
found its way into the American colonies. As a consequence, during the
American Revolution, a significant percentage of the Lodge members were
Tories, or loyalists. Accordingly, during the revolution, many of the
Masonic Tories returned to England, causing the death of many of the colonial
There should be no doubt that Freemasonry played a major role in
the inception and conduct of the American War of Independence; as well as the
writing of the U.S. Constitution. Personalities such as George Washington,
Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and John Hancock were well-known Masons.
Following the American War for Independence, the political and
diplomatic ties had been broken with England. Thereafter, the American
Freemasons began to form their own Grand Lodges. As one might imagine, George
Washington was approached to become the Grand Master of the United States.
However, Washington declined.
Subsequently, the various states formed their own Grand Lodges.
This was a difficult enterprise, as the individual lodges practiced a wide
range of ritual and subscribed to different bylaws. Eventually they created
thirteen sovereign Grand Lodges in the associated state jurisdictions.
Thereafter, as new territories and states were added, additional Grand Lodges
In the beginning, some of the new Grand Lodges styled themselves
as Ancient York Masons (A.Y.M.), so as to signify their adherence to the
customs and bylaws of the constitutions of the Ancients. Other jurisdictions
formed a more modern system of customs and bylaws. Today, the American Grand
Lodges fall under one of the three following designations: "Ancient Free and
Accepted Masons," "Free and Accepted Masons," or "Ancient Free Masons." With
rare exception, there is little difference among the systems.
CONFERENCE OF GRAND MASTERS OF MASONS IN NORTH AMERICA
There is no regional "supreme"
organization which directly governs the Grand Jurisdictions and individual
Lodges in America. However, a little known organization is "The Conference
of Grand Masters of Masons in North America." This body provides something
of a 'clearing house' of common interests, amongst the collective of Grand
Masters. The group obviously has common communication; but with an annual
conference, where their 'work' is accomplished.
The organization also provides materials on leadership, booklets
of information for individual Masons and guidance for common charities.
Much of the resource material is available for download.
However, it is the prerogative of each Grand Master as to the 'official'
implementation of these materials.
The organization freely offers the downloading of educational
materials, so that a given Lodge, or individual Mason, can acquire the
materials, independently of their Grand Lodge's assistance.
AMERICAN GRAND LODGES
The American Grand Lodges operate as sovereign and supreme
entities in all respects, with regard to their governing the Symbolic
Freemasonry within their jurisdiction. Their associated Constitution and
bylaws are binding on all members. The so-called 'affiliated' organizations
must also comply with them.
In the American system, the rituals, laws, customs and practices
will vary from state to state, sometimes to a great extent. The basic
differences in the ritual are essentially differences in brevity. However,
the American Master Mason will be perfectly comfortable when visiting all
The rituals in the various Grand Lodges may be found to be of
"Ancient" or "Modern" origination, their form, depending the background of the
founders. However, all the Grand Lodges operate with the same general theme.
A number of the American Grand Lodges originated from Ancient York Masonry;
this is so stated in their titles.
All of the American bodies refer to themselves as the Most
Worshipful Grand Lodges, with the exception of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania
prefers to adhere to the ancient traditions, and, therefore, title themselves
as a "Right Worshipful" Grand Lodge. The title of the Grand Master of
Pennsylvania is "Right Worshipful," as opposed to all other states which use
the designation of "Most Worshipful."
Although there can be many variations in the titles of officers
between Grand Lodge jurisdictions, the titles of the higher offices are fairly
standard. These are:
Most Worshipful Grand Master
Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master
Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden
Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden
Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer
Right Worshipful Grand Secretary
The officers, described above, are normally elected in their
Annual Communications. In several of the states the Grand Lodge officers can
serve two or three years. The following officers are either elected or
appointed, depending upon the individual Constitution of the associated Grand
Worshipful Senior Grand Deacon
Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon
Worshipful Grand Marshal
Worshipful Grand Stewards (2)
Worshipful Grand Tyler
Worshipful Grand Chaplain
Worshipful Grand Historian
Worshipful Grand Lecturer
Worshipful Grand Orator
Additional officers are sometimes found in a few Grand Lodges,
such as the Grand Sword Bearer or Grand Bible Bearer.
Most Masonic jurisdictions are divided into Districts, with a
District Deputy to the Grand Master appointed to oversee the lodge activities
within his designated jurisdiction.
A number of Grand Lodges fairly recently added the office of
Education Chairman on the State, District, and/or Lodge level, employing the
Lamp of Knowledge as the insignia of that office.
A national conference of the Grand Masters meets annually to
attend to the matters of mutual interest. The confederation of Grand Lodges
supports and supervises several national programs. These programs include,
the George Washington Masonic National Memorial building in Alexandria,
Virginia, and the Masonic Services Association, which is headquartered in
Silver Spring, Maryland.
As was true with the Masonic membership of three hundred years
ago, we are still attracted to and respect reliable facts, unfailing loyalty
and systems of morality and integrity, in whatever form they may take.
As a dependable "safety net," we all look to powerful and
unchanging facts, while wanting the ability to depend on the loyalty and
integrity of all those around us. As best we are able, we try to be highly
critical thinkers, believing only in verifiable facts.
The typical citizen still makes almost a science out of
accumulating interesting, accurate and useful information of all types, to
include factual details of history. Unfailing facts and truth still fuel our
existence. Today we equally need and demand rapid and accurate communication.
For this, we still rely on our fellow man, even if we equally have to depend
on current technology to achieve this end.
Today, society still rejects corruption and avarice. Often
enough, we are forced to seek shelter from these evils. We still seek the
safety of environments which provide reliable history and other information.
We still treasure systems and societies which operate with an honor code.
Such is the attraction of modern Freemasonry. Today, the
fraternity of Freemasonry still attracts men from all stations in society.
Freemasonry is not only an ancient institution, but a proud institution of
integrity as well. The mutual accountability feature of Freemasonry yields
that particular result.
While, admittedly, the documentation behind Freemasonry is
lacking; the institution has centuries of highly respected standards and
It’s an unfortunate fact that over approximately the last 50
years, something has changed in American Masonry. Strangely, "fellowship" is
currently treated as a phenomenon – among American Masons. Sadly, fellowship
is presently a topic of Masonic discussion and debate – versus being an
"action" item. In the final analysis, "fellowship" is about action, not
discussion. "Fellowship" has seemingly fallen into the shadow of mystery. It
would seem that the interpersonal associations of "fellowship" have been
replaced by discussion and "consensus."
So, one asks, "…. what happened?" Suddenly, Masons are asking
why the members’ seats are so typically empty in the Lodge rooms. The Masonic
officer lines are becoming more difficult to fill. Not that long ago, those
positions were coveted!
Experience attests to the fact that size isn’t the key to fellowship; many a
small Lodge is the epitome of ‘Spartan;’ with their ritual being as complete
as any larger Lodge, but often famous for being expedient. So, the fellowship
is obviously far more a function of the social events, before and after the
meeting. Then, how does one account for that fellowship? Somewhere, the key
obviously lies not in the quantity; it’s clearly the quality.
It must also be acknowledged that all the American fraternities,
such as the Eagles, Elks, etc. are experiencing such losses, with similar
descriptions of failing fellowship.
The current fear is that Masonic fellowship – if not the Craft - is on the
brink of extinction. Obviously, the threat is real, evidenced by so many
empty chairs and the numbers of fading Lodges – there is no denial available.
Something obviously needs to be changed; something needs to be restored.
Still another failure is in sight – the lack of ‘leadership;’
having been generally replaced by ‘management.’ Leadership is remembered as
that "…follow me" substance which comes of mission assignment and goal
attainment – add the support of the ‘troops.’ Conversely, "management" takes
the form of awful-izing and blame apportionment.
To be brief, we recognize "leaders" by their broken trails; we
recognize "managers" by their paper trails. "Leaders are applauded and made
famous for the risks which they take. Conversely, managers are applauded for
the risks which they avoided. The ‘test’ is in the end result. That’s not to
discount or deny a need for management, versus putting both leadership and
management into perspective. "…what’s in it for
which is so common in our societies. How many times do we encounter an
attitude, whether spoken or implied through actions, which goes to the
question, "Why should I?"
"What do I owe him/them?"
By all outward appearances, those attitudes
have permeated the Lodge rooms, as well. Certainly, the "personal power trip"
of the usual ‘nay-sayers’ hurts such organizations.
While it is not really certain exactly what happened, it is worth questioning
whether or not the American culture, in particular, is experiencing a negative
dividend from a
Fellowship is also a production item – not just a matter of
personal attitudes and decisions; some form of leadership is required
to methodically assemble a ‘fellowship’ event. Comparably, such also requires
tactfully and assertively holding any criticism to the standard of
‘constructive’ criticism; minimizing any ‘nay-saying,’ as well as
appropriately holding any detractors responsible for arbitrary criticism.
Questioning reveals that the eldest Masonic members can’t quite
describe what the magic was, when the Masonic Lodge rooms were normally full.
The typical comment from the elders is important:
"There was a time when being a Mason really
What was that "….
something?" There’s a clue in that
statement; it’s heard too often. That "something" has to go beyond the
Masonic element of membership ‘legacy,’ there was obviously more there – it
could only have been a unique social occurrence - "fellowship." There is a
missing emotional payoff – the "zing" - of belonging.
Noting the membership changes in the Eastern Star, as a
consequence of cultural changes (voting, work-place presence, feminism, etc),
has there been something of a major - or subtle – nature, within the basic
American culture? It’s risky to not explore that idea.
Among other factors of American society, one must observe and
question the bleed-over effect of corporate "norms," in particular. In the
corporate world, the concept of "the team" is stressed with a vengeance. The
term "Human Resources" can quickly conjure up memories of corporate ‘control’
horror stories. The corporate structure of "compartmentalization" renders
such statements as, "Do it for the
team; or don’t do it!" "He or she is/is not a ‘team player." "It’s not your
department; don’t get involved!"
The emphasis is on the sacred ‘team’ and end results.
Individuality and traditional individual incentive is both discouraged and
often enough punished. Any ‘approved’ incentive is rewarded with a letter,
as opposed to monetary reward. Outstanding ‘team members’ are "acknowledged,"
versus being rewarded, applauded or congratulated.
Even in American military circles, true heroism is not commonly
acknowledged. In the 2003 Iraq War, the major American combat hero was given
medals for being a passenger in a car wreck, behind enemy lines. Another
famous American ball player was killed in Afghanistan and awarded heroic
medals, for having been accidentally killed by friendly fire! Whether
coincidence or methodology; it hurts.
Thus, one must question whether some of that same ‘culture’ has
bled into Masonic ‘social’ circles, as well. While working as a team member
is vitally important - and with Masons emphasizing "meeting on the level" -
individual contributions are historically recognized and applauded in Masonic
circles. One must question whether or not the traditional recognition of
outstanding individuals has been ‘mysteriously’ changed. If so, it’s clearly
necessary to reverse that trend. If nothing else, the sterility of the
Communist societies needs to be recognized for the social and economic poison
that it was. Is Masonry witnessing something comparable? Being "Politically
Correct" is a well-known social poison; even if it serves as a bureaucratic
It is valid to ask, "Is
the absence of individuality – and its rewards - hurting the Craft?"
In many circles – including Freemasonry – truly
outstanding individuals and their efforts are discounted, instead of being
celebrated. The dark side of ‘envy,’ or even blatant jealousy, far too
commonly takes its toll – with a bizarre impunity.
From the dusty attics of America, we discover nearly ancient and
beautifully framed certificates, attesting to the Mason attaining his Third
Degree. It is certain that the certificate once hung proudly on the wall of a
living room or den; possibly in an office. Today, those certificates are
rarely found in the possession of a new member. The matter of ‘expense’
aside, it is worth questioning whether or not such mementos played a vitally
key role in the history of the Craft. One can imagine a visiting friend or
neighbor viewing such a certificate on a living room wall, asking
"What is this? How does one join?"
Many of the Masonic "old timers" also speak to a traditional
fraternal loyalty when it came to money matters. A job opening was first
offered to a Brother. A car for sale was first announced in Masonic circles.
Denying or cheating a Brother or Sister was out of the question. Masonry was
originally famous for such things as orphanages, hospitals and retirement
homes. While those are still present, they are increasingly a background
From history, the most original of Masonic documents,
"Anderson's Constitutions" (1723) made such loyalty a mandate. Somewhere in
time, that magnitude of fraternalism faded. Current social imagery being what
it is, one would think that it would be 'cool' to stand up and say that
"I took care of a Brother."
Certainly, that would make for some neat
fellowship. One can only imagine the effect of the subsequent
acknowledgement, when the statement is made,
"I'll never forget that Brother Jones saw to
it that my family was fed."
America, in particular, lives in a ‘time-compressed’ society; more
‘production’ is expected of fewer people. More and more commonly, a person’s
discretionary time is often regarded as more valuable than their discretionary
It is also possible that the quality, quantity and variety of
television and the Internet ‘products’ have independently satisfied society’s
appetite for various forms of "stimulation." To a degree, that is quite
possible; but we must acknowledge that we still have a need for human
interaction. That takes us back to ‘fellowship;’ that certain "something."
That continuation of human warmth, which isn't terminated with the press of a
power switch; or clicking on the "EXIT" icon of a computer screen.
So, in a sentence, what might serve as a definition of
FELLOWSHIP: "The joy which accompanies the acts of unconditional
giving and thanks giving."
That definition requires the getting away from the thought that
"This is a give and take world - quid
pro quo - something received for something given."
Yet, it is only fair to ask why one would
abandon that idea. In the simplest of terms, because it is a SEVERELY
Imagine what goes on at a potluck dinner. Everybody brings; everybody
receives. AND; there's usually a lot of food left over, which people are
begged to take home!
AND – those in attendance look forward to the next such
Imagine that! All because of an attitude! An attitude
which has been a historic and a major part of the traditional Masonic
experience. An attitude which needs to be recognized and rejuvenated.
Returning to the idea that our ‘discretionary time’ is almost as important as
our ‘discretionary income;’ then we must question what fills the successful
Lodges of today? There are still many successful Lodges. What works for
What would easily bring someone out to a Lodge? What motive can be provided?
"Education" might fill the members’ and guests’ minds; the issue is more
appropriately directed at that which would fill their hearts - the gift of
The silent mandate is for upcoming/aspiring Masters to write the
history of their year in the Masonic East – in advance – starting with
a citation on how the element of fellowship will be successfully handled.
In the case of Masonic organizations, one of the key elements
which is traditional and successful – anywhere - is the element of "passion!"
Just the setup of a Lodge room is a production in itself; it should be a team
effort – a ‘social’ event. The ‘before-and-after’ social events are best
appreciated when the room seems to be ‘charged’ with positive energy. Masonic
ritual is most impressive when it is done with the flair of showmen – with
The ‘make-or-break’ factor of many a Lodge is the presence and
quality of the elements of humor and entertainment. This is particularly true
with regard to the organist/pianist. Music, entertainment and passion – how
Ladies, in particular, observe a ‘mystery’ lesson from the male
experience. To simplify, men are emotional creatures as well; but they seem
to just run on adrenalin, instead of joy.
It is appropriate to take a moment to examine the emotional
needs of men, in particular. Not just a man's experiences, thoughts or
beliefs – but, rather, the thrill and passion of being a Mason. Remember the
‘classic’ of mountain climbers? "It
was there; so I climbed it." The greater
truth is best described as, "It was
there; and I knew how great it would FEEL to climb it."
The function of "motivation" says that the ‘payoff’ conviction
had to precede the event. What would compel someone to risk life and limb –
to climb a mountain?? That obvious emotional gratification speaks to a range
of rewards from personal satisfaction/gratification – before, during and after
- to public acknowledgment, applause and even honors. The emotional
payoff is the key. So is it among Masons, even today. Thus, we must advise
the ladies, that men ARE emotionally available, they’re just a little bit
Of all the lessons to be learned in life, there are few as
powerful as: "People
will forget what you do and say; they will never forget how you make them
feel!" No, we don’t "make" feelings in
others, we INSPIRE feelings; good, bad or otherwise. That’s an
important distinction to make.
It's not difficult to find someone impassioned about being a
Masonic member; those are whom come to Lodge, regularly. BUT, the
Craft is challenged to attract those who are also sincerely "gratified" to be
So, where does one start? Think to that seeming 'wall flower,' for example.
He/she just looks like they want to be left alone. Typically, we quickly
rationalize that we're being 'courteous' to leave them alone.
That’s a mistake!!!
True wall-flowers stay at home! Just by virtue of their
membership, we must recognize that the Masonic members want and need to be
recognized and acknowledged. That’s as simple as saying
"It's good to see you again, thanks for
coming. I hope to see you more often. Are you coming to the picnic next
The dynamic member makes it a point/habit of going over to those
they don’t know – or haven’t seen in a while – and striking up a conversation.
Masonry is a social organization; people should be reasonably comfortable in
going over to a person & introducing themselves. It should be reasonably easy
for any member to find it in themselves to let the other members know that you
care about him.
The requirement: Just do it! Fellowship is a dynamic –
action! Ideally, the Master of the Lodge should always be giving social
instruction, as well. ‘Social skills’ have a nasty habit of deteriorating.
If one must admit that they don't have a required answer; then
they have taken the first step toward seeking the solution - only then.
Claiming to be "mystified" by the problem doesn't solve it. Often enough,
it’s necessary to look to what you know works in other arenas. If one is a
dog or cat owner, it’s a matter of asking what makes the dog or cat come to
you - and love you. Brotherly love isn't all that much different.
An illustration comes to us in the form of a true story. A
member of a Grand Lodge team began describing a ‘mystery’ in the fellowship
which he observed in the Filipino community; in and out of the Lodge
environment. He attempted to account for that fellowship by describing such
things as a common native language (Tagalog), a common heritage, a common
geographic origin, etc. The Filipinos, he described had a wonderful result of
that commonality - fellowship. Interestingly, his cultural description of
the Filipinos was that of everyday America – except for the fellowship.
One must quickly concludes that ‘fellowship’ IS more than a cliché.
There are certain identifiable characteristics or ‘processes’ of
"fellowship," which make it a dynamic ‘happening.’
It’s elementary that our general association of "fellowship"
concerns sharing and caring in numbers. Masonry is an association - a
positive interpersonal relationship; the members first have to assemble with a
willingness (if not an intent or design) to experience a good time; and
enhance the experience of others. True fellowship is not merely mechanically
assembling in a common space; something needs to happen there. Personal
agendas or ‘power trips’ are not appropriate. Fellowship is about positive
sharing and caring – and giving. Ideally there is an aura of "passion," at
There’s also the very important aspect that one feels ‘special,’
to be included in such a gathering. The purpose of the Masonic initiation is
to make the member feel unique - special!
The basics of "caring" or love are the same – it’s all a matter
of magnitude and circumstance.
So, what’s true in the idealized "fellowship" picture?
1. You communicate to the other person(s) that you care.
2. You communicate to the other person(s) WHY you care.
3. You demonstrate to the other person(s) that you care.
4. The affection has to be unconditional. (Expectations don’t
5. The affection has to be trustworthy.
Gentlemen, will ask their ladies about the statements,
immediately above, at their own peril!
Pet owners know those mechanics, very well – less the verbal
communication. The matter goes to the associated feelings of the
occasion. Fellowship is about the experience of "feelings," not just well
intended actions, thoughts and beliefs. Criticism may be well intended; but
one is left to honor the effect of the resulting feelings.
Obviously, when one shares the joviality of a particular
environment, one witnesses and experiences "gifts" of humor, toasts of
respect, compliments and sometimes physical gifts. In some form, the dynamics
listed above are ALL present.
– "It is more blessed to give than to
receive." The dynamics of that bit of
Scripture go deeper, as the ‘giving’ produces an emotional result sometimes
related as ‘fun’ or even joyous.
It is worthwhile to observe a piece of Scripture
Or, if one is ‘into’ the dynamics of "dysfunctional family
psychology," change that statement to
"It is more thrilling to give, than to receive."
In the Masonic community, the ‘gift’ can be
attendance, interaction, listening without passing judgment, protecting and
honoring the other person’s feelings, dignity, offering support, advice, an
idea, a compliment, a joke, a sincere question – or even a tangible present.
Or, perhaps, ‘all-of-the-above.’ Fellowship is that close-in charity,
which we give to each other. Again, it’s about action!
With rare exception, results require planning and the gathering
of resources. That includes the names & contact information of those in
one’s circle of friends - anywhere. Such would be found in an entry of a
personal calendar of some type, a membership roster, a collection of business
cards. Ideally, Masons should carry – and give out - Masonic business cards,
citing their Lodge & it’s meeting information. The back side can be used to
list [reminder/planning] a special event – written out in advance.
In terms of dynamics, Freemasonry is not a "one-size-fits-all"
organization; it serves as an opportunity for the individual – for that which
composes the individual. Ideally, Freemasonry should allow the individual,
that what appeals to the individual. A gourmet cook may delight in preparing
meals – they may abhor leadership. Aha! The compulsive Steward; a ‘win-win’
scenario is born! That’s not necessarily the individual who should be
encouraged to "go through the chairs." Therefore, by identifying the
preferences of the individual, the Craft serves the individual, while offering
the individual the opportunity to express himself.
So, what can an individual be reasonably expected to bring to a
"fellowship" event? Particularly today, just a member’s presence is truly a
"gift." The member can easily bring a good attitude and a sense of humor;
perhaps a joke or an interesting story. They can bring their anticipation of
- or creation of - a good time. Granted, that may require one overcoming any
reservations or perceived ‘risks,’ as to whether or not they will have a good
time – or learn (possibly receive) something of value.
Equally important would be the bringing of another member, or a
friend, as appropriate. That invites the dynamic of stretching one’s comfort
zone, by reaching into OTHER social circles – other Lodges, other
organizations. Our time-compressed society makes the brining of such a friend
a bit more challenging than simply putting that friend on notice of an event.
In today’s world, Masonic events don’t normally serve as the powerful social
magnets of long ago. It is vital to dynamically extend an appropriate
invitation, to somehow secure a commitment – where possible; then be so caring
as to remind that other person in a polite and timely manner. Again, it’s as
vital to offer contact information, as it is to solicit that
information. Think - "Web site!"
Phone committees fill Lodge rooms!
(Effective message required.)
Remembering that fellowship is an action item, not just an
option; one is tasked by the question,
"So, what can I do?"
Following is a short ‘list:’
A. Be aware of what is presently going on – the immediate event is
destined to be the primary source of conversation and interaction. If boredom
should somehow prevail, the individual may be able to stimulate conversation,
entertainment or information.
B. Make it a point to assertively interact; to get to know others – and
allow them to get to know you. Share information with others; name, family,
job, travels, interests, hobbies – even problems (and solutions.)
C. Be alert and considerate as to the needs and wants of others.
Traditional appropriate courtesies – including expressed gratitude - are
required. Your input may be required. The infamous wall-flower may need to
be drawn out; but, possibly, he/she may need to be left alone. Good judgment
D. Acknowledge, recognize, applaud, congratulate, reward and
E. Find, share or create humor – and fun!
There is a caveat…. the aspect that the caring has to be
trustworthy! The Lodges need to be filled with great feelings, not great
Many a member of Masonic organizations well remembers the
enthusiasm experienced when they signed their Lodge By-laws. For most, that
was a great feeling; they were then certified as being ‘special.’ Later, they
are all-too-often compelled to ask whether or not something changed. That
feeling of being special somehow went away.
Even with regular initiations of new members, the Lodge rooms
approach being empty. Thus it is compelling for the ‘regulars’ to inquire
what happened to those members who are rarely – if ever again - seen at
Masonic events. Those in regular attendance at their Masonic events should
actively question what happened to the member, or visitor. These are people
whom the membership know; or SHOULD know.
Current Masonic statistics demonstrate that 50% to 85% of the
new Master Masons give up within their first year. It’s necessary to put
those statistics into the perspective of the percentage of members who
actually attend their Lodge – not counting visitors from other Lodges. Five
percent? Fifteen percent? What happened?
"What do we give to each other?" As a
beginning, Masons can offer "fellowship," the dynamic version; in most cases
it’s even "free!"
In all likelihood, the element of ‘fellowship’ went missing; the
absent members ultimately became Masonic "JAMs" (Just Another
Member). From that time forward, they no longer felt ‘special,’
nor did they probably feel ‘included.’ Often, they quit, demitted, or just
resigned themselves to pay dues & maybe attend Masonic functions occasionally.
Some "shopped" the Craft, attempting to find that niche, where they could
trust in being or feeling ‘special.’ According to current statistics, some
made it; most didn’t. In a sentence, they were probably left feeling
detached; or outright abandoned. The element of fellowship failed.
American Freemasonry is famous for giving away millions of dollars
away to public charity – every day! Current Masonic PR is oriented
around impressing the public with the various charity contributions. But,
Masons are appropriate in asking,
Yet, there is the usual - and valid - question of
fellowship. To borrow a line concerning sex, from a Barbara Streisand movie –
["The Mirror Has Two Faces"]
"Because it just ______ feels good!"
At least as a beginning, Masons can take two simple steps:
"I go there, because I feel so good when I
leave!" That feeling should be a sense of
excitement, as well as a special sense of human warmth, comfort and safety.
First, get in touch with this thought,
Second, visualize full Lodge and Chapter Rooms; what feelings
go with that vision?
"Pride" is also a feeling.
There is another dynamic; a thing called "reputation." A good
"reputation" means that anyone can have a thing called "confidence" in having
a good time, at the particular event. Any experienced Mason will have a
mental list of Lodges with good reputations – even if the dynamics of those
Lodges are mysteriously NOT emulated, elsewhere. The Lodge reputation is
vitally important for a regular event - such as a Lodge meeting night.
The aspect of personal decision-making can’t go unmentioned.
Implied is the requirement for the element of courage to attend, to
participate and to properly facilitate the elements of fellowship. Attending
'fellowship' events require the courage to attend - with a "go for it!"
attitude. Sometimes it's also a matter of inviting and/or challenging others
to do the same. This is another example of reaping what one sows.
For any Mason, there is a simple challenge – to invite someone –
anyone - to join in an event – any event; then give that person a reminder
phone call. Let them know that someone cares. Then, to see what happens, as
All too often, Masons come under the
cloud of "…all titles; no legacy." Ideally, Masonic officers
should be somehow held accountable for being more than a name on a list of
Past Masters - or other titles. What monuments can a Mason leave behind? The
authorship of a paper, a book, a gift to the Lodge, or Grand Lodge, a year of
membership expansion or commendable ritual – or the history of a year of
MASONIC PUBLIC SERVICE
Among other prominent Masonic buildings is the George Washington
Masonic National Memorial, located in Alexandria, Virginia, is an inspiring
structure, which is dedicated to the principles of Freemasonry. Many of the
Masonic Orders have furnished, and decorated the various memorial rooms in the
building. Visitors are welcomed, with regular guided tours provided. This
organization maintains a permanent endowment fund, intended to eventually
provide perpetual support for the building.
Most Masonic jurisdictions have tours available for their Grand
Lodge buildings, as well as other large or historical Lodge buildings.
The Masonic Services Association prints a monthly "Short Talk"
pamphlet, in addition to other educational literature. The association also
maintains a hospital visitation program for Freemasons who are patients in the
V. A. hospitals. This hospital visitation program is well established and
implemented by dedicated Masons throughout the country.
MASONIC CHARITY PROGRAMS
Collectively, the charity programs of all the Masonic bodies
attest to the quality of the fraternity's membership. The bulk of Masonic
charities serve the needs of children, without discrimination. Masonic
affiliation is not required. These charities are provided without charge to
the recipients. Many Masonic Lodges are well known for their endeavors to
relieve distress wherever it is found. Such acts expressing the principle
tenets of Freemasonry - Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The Masonic charities are extended as an act of brotherly love,
as opposed to arbitrary or impersonal charity. Freemasonry utilizes many
methods to extend relief. Such relief is expressed in such simple forms as
being a good listener for a friend's problems, offering a kind and friendly
word when someone is in distress, visiting an ailing friend or a widow.
The typical Blue Lodge maintains a Charity Committee to attend
to local need. The Lodges are often structured so as to provide for short
term distress, as opposed to long term welfare. It is common for a Lodge to
set aside funds for spur-of-the-moment need.
Many Grand Lodges or affiliated bodies maintain retirement
homes. Often, they also support or operate homes for orphans. The Masonic
fraternity is dedicated to maintaining and improving the future of the next
generation. Many Grand Lodges also support local education programs, medical
centers and medical research programs.
In the Masonic concept, Freemasonry rises vertically by the
basic three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason.
However, there are additional associated Masonic bodies, referred to as
concordant, or ‘appendant’ bodies. These are said to extend laterally.
1. The Scottish Rite, which embodies the fourth through
2. The York Rite which embodies three separate bodies by name,
as opposed to numbered degrees. These include the Royal Arch Chapter, the
Council of Royal and Select Masters and Commandery of Knights Templar.
3. The Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners),
famous for their "country club" activities such as parades and the Shrine
Circus. More importantly, the Shrine is known for their chain of children's
orthopedic and burn hospitals.
The Order also includes the international youth organizations
such as the "Order of DeMolay" for boys, the "Order of Rainbow" (Rainbow
Girls), for the very young ladies, and the "Order of Job's Daughters" ("Jobies")
for older girls.
THE SCOTTISH RITE
"My Trust is in
A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE
ORIGINS OF THE SCOTTISH RITE
It may be said of the Scottish Rite, that while the Blue Lodges
teach a man to be true to his God, family, country and Brother Mason; the
Scottish Rite teaches the same man to be true unto life – a much broader
The following material presents a condensed account of the
Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. By all reliable accounts, the Scottish Rite
originated in France as the result of the efforts of Andrew Ramsey, a
Scotsman. Consequently, there are many references using the term, "Ecossais,"
which in French means "Scotch" or "Scottish." Hence, the references to the "Ecossais"
Rite of Freemasonry will be simplified by using the name, "Scottish Rite."
The lack of provable Masonic history leaves unanswered the
obvious question as to why the Rite which originated in France during the
English Pretender's (James II) residence there, ultimately was called
"Scottish." It is, without any verifiable fact, claimed to have been
authorized from Kilwinning in Scotland.
No one disputes the fact that Scottish Rite Masonry originated
in France. However, one is quickly left to ponder why the French, being
famous for their nationalism, could allow such a foreign name to be associated
with a French creation. For a better understanding of this rite, a brief
history lesson is mandated.
Let us examine a turbulent period of history of England and
France, beginning in 1649. In this time frame, the Catholic Church had no
significant quarrel with the more religiously neutral Masons. Protestantism,
however, was battling to the death with Catholicism.
In the 17th century, the royal family of Scotland was the
Catholic Stuart family. Out of that Scottish family came James VI, being the
same person as James I, King of England. One can understand that Scotland,
being the northern portion of the island of Britain, would want a certain
union with England - IF Scotland could be the ruling influence.
The name of "James" became the dominant name in that portion of
history. The influence of the Stuart cause through James II is referred to as
"Jacobite," from the Latin translation of "James."
Many positions taken by Masonic historians are often put down as
nonsense. Debate aside, these claims are often quite plausible and
passionate. The central theme of the Stuart theories claims that the Stuart
family tried to use the Masons as a vehicle for their plans. In those times,
such was entirely possible; if not probable.
Many reputable Masonic historians dismiss all claims regarding
the alleged Stuart connections to Masonry and any accounts which support such
claims. Such references have led to the term, "Jacobite Freemasonry." To
repeat, Jacobite is a term loosely applied to followers of James II of
England, (James VII of Scotland), and also the young Charles Edward Stuart,
However, many readers will find fascination with the many
documents such as diaries, letters, records, and poems which suggest the
Stuart connection. Amidst the political turmoil of that time, one can easily
imagine the need for manipulation, deceit and conspiracy to achieve the
desired end. It is not entirely unlikely that the Stuarts made an insincere,
but serious attempt to manipulate the Masons to their cause. In those times,
such things regularly happened.
To continue the history lesson - in the year 1649, King Charles
I of England was beheaded out of a civil war, while his queen and son Charles
II were exiled to France. The ruling power was assumed by the House of
Commons, under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. At this time in history,
the English Puritans were dictating the social norms of the English people.
In this setting, the speculative Masons were still something of a "secret"
society; there was then no centralized Masonic lodge power.
Living in exile, in France, Charles II allegedly secretly joined
both the Catholic Church and the Masons; masquerading to the English
population as a Protestant.
According to the Jacobite legend, with the aid of French Masons,
who were Catholic, and the English Masons, who were Protestants, Charles II
regained his father's throne. Unknown until his death, Charles II had been
secretly attempting to restore the Catholic Church in England. Charles II was
to reign disgracefully for twenty-five years, dying in 1685 while receiving
the last rites from a Catholic priest. Such is the legend.
Three years later, (1688) England was again in a state of revolt
at the hands of the brutality of James II, the brother and successor to
Charles II. Ultimately, James II fled to France, taking shelter at the
Jesuits' College of Clermont, in Paris - never to return to England.
The English protestants, however, installed Mary (the daughter
of James II) along with her husband / cousin William of Orange; the couple is
known in history as "William & Mary."
During this time Freemasonry was growing in England while the
sons of the fugitive, James II, were exiled pretenders to the English throne;
living with the Jesuits in France.
Against the Stuart Masonic legend of Charles and James II, is
the fact that the earliest known Masonic Lodge in France was formed in 1725.
Enter now the reputed individual who is credited with the
inspiration of "The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite." This was the
chevalier Ramsay. By chance, Ramsay was to play a major role in the history
of Freemasonry in the 18th century. Ramsay's motives, however, are highly
worthy of scrutiny.
Andrew Michael Ramsay was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1681. Ramsay
was a brilliant young Scotch Presbyterian; educated at Edinburgh University.
In 1709 Ramsay served as tutor to the children of the Earl of
Wemyss. However, Ramsay became involved in the religious turmoil in
Scotland. He consequently moved to France, by way of Holland.
Ramsay became a skilled socialite and politician. He was able
to gain great wealth, and converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. Ramsay
was only twenty years old when James II fled to Paris.
Ramsay became an enthusiast of the tenets of the mystical
theology, then widely popular. In 1710, Ramsay lived for six months with the
family of the mystical Archbishop Fenelon of Cambray. Under the patronage of
Archbishop Fenelon, Ramsay converted to Roman Catholicism.
Some time later, Ramsay secured an appointment as the preceptor
to the Duc de Chateau-Thierry; subsequently to the Prince de Turrenne. For
Ramsay's services he was subsequently rewarded with a French knighthood; a
chevalier (knight) of the Order of St. Lazarus. Ramsay subsequently is
remembered in Masonic history as "… the Chevalier Ramsay."
Ramsay's greatest service was to James III (son of James II),
also remembered as the "Old Pretender." Ramsay was called to Rome by James
III, the individual who would otherwise have been King James III of England,
had his father, James II, not been deposed from the throne and exiled.
The chevalier Ramsay was selected as a tutor by the English
heir-in-exile, undertaking the education Jame's two sons, Charles Edward, and
Henry Stuart. Charles Edward (the Young Pretender) is also remembered in
history as the "Bonnie Prince Charlie."
James III pursued the return of both the Scottish and English
crowns to his family and to restoring the authority of the Roman Church in
England. James was focused on either securing the crowns for himself, or to
secure them for his son, Charles Edward Stuart, who was, in the eyes of
Catholic Europe, the legitimate heir to both the English and the Scottish
Although Ramsay was socially and financially successful on the
European continent, Ramsay's heart remained endeared to his home of Scotland,
evidenced by Ramsay's later naming his first created Masonic degrees "Scotch,"
or, in French, "Ecossaise."
After approximately a year and a half in Rome, Ramsay was to
return to Paris, taking an active role in basic three-degree British Craft
Masonry, which had been imported by British Masons residing in Paris and other
major cities of France. The British Masons established several lodges, taking
in a number of their French friends. At first, the French took a cool
interest, not particularly impressed by a secret society emanating from an
antiquated association of common stonecutters.
Ramsay allegedly persuaded the French noble class, who had come
to discount Masonry as having been derived from stonemasons, that the new
degrees were actually brought from Palestine during the Crusades, by returned
princes, priests, knights and nobles. Ramsay changed the entire image of
Masonry to appeal to the royalty.
Toward that end, Ramsay wrote a speech, historically remembered
as "Ramsay's Oration." Some historians claim that he delivered this discourse
in 1737 before the Grand Lodge of France; seemingly manufacturing history as
he spoke. However, most Masonic authorities question whether or not the
"oration" was ever verbally delivered, due to the politics between Ramsay, the
Masons and the Catholic Church.
There is also a strong suggestion that the written form of the
presentation was a slow moving success. While some support has been given to
Ramsay's claims, most authors deem his "oration" as purely fake. However, it
is interesting that Ramsay's description of the crusading knights fits that of
the Knights Templar.
While Ramsay would not have dared to mention the Templars, he
could not otherwise present a single shred of documentation. Ramsey could not
present any plausible basis for his claim, however, history records that he
Ramsay took advantage of his high degree of credibility. He had
served as a tutor to royalty, a member of the Royal Society, he was a
chevalier of the Order of St. Lazarus, and the grand chancellor of the Grand
Paris Lodge of Freemasonry.
In his "oration," Ramsay claimed:
"The Crusaders gathered together from all parts of Christendom
in the Holy Land, desired thus to reunite into one sole Fraternity the
individuals of all nations." He described some of the "secret" words as
protective, "words of war which the Crusaders gave each other in order to
guarantee them from the surprises of the Saracens, who often crept in
amongst them to kill them."
Ramsay claimed a connection between the ancient mysteries of
Ceres, Isis, Minerva, and Diana with the Masonic order. Ramsay described the
original Crusader-Masons as not being workers in stone, but rather the
warriors who had taken vows to restore the Temple of the Christians in the
Holy Land, claiming that the Masonic fraternity had forged an "intimate union
with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem."
Ramsay was successful in initiating a wave of chivalric fantasy
which quickly swept over Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
These values were presented as the ideal for all gentlemen, the compassionate
knight, being brave, honorable and generous with his fellow man and highly
respectful to women.
Ramsay claimed that lodges of Freemasons were established by
returning Crusaders in Italy, Germany, Spain, France and in Scotland. Ramsey
further claimed that the Lord Steward of Scotland was the Grand Master of a
lodge at Kilwinning in 1286. Ramsay claimed that the lodges in every country
were neglected, except Scotland.
Ramsay additionally claimed that while Prince Edward had brought
Freemasonry back to England, Scotland could claim the earliest Masonry in
Britain and therefore was the source of the Masonic spirit. Ramsay challenged
France to urgently take up the Masonic cause, to "become the center of the
The French enthusiastically responded to the elitist idea that
Masonry originated from kings, knights, dukes, and barons. Consequently, new
Masonic degrees and rites exploded all through France. The new rites were
quickly exported to countries all over Europe. Each country added their local
embellishments. At one point, one Masonic historian claimed the existence of
eleven hundred different degrees. The degrees, ceremonies, rituals, and
names, nearly exhausted the content of the Old Testament and the names of
existing orders of chivalry.
In any case, France had been well sown with the new enthusiasm
and the multitude of Masonic degrees. Of his own work, Ramsay ultimately
digested a code of six degrees, which he referred to as the "Ramsay Rite,"
attempting to insert this rite into the English Freemasonry; he was
For all Ramsey's efforts, his only personal Masonic legacy was
to create the idea of the "True Masonic Word," which was to become the central
theme of Royal Arch Masonry, to be discussed later.
One degree system, by conjecture, seemed to have been inspired
in France by Ramsay's Oration. This was called "Ecossaise," or Scottish
Masonry. This system was originally known as "The Rite of Perfection," which
developed up to a twenty fifth degree. This was the system which was
ultimately to be exported to the United States, by Stephen Morin, via the West
Indies, where it further evolved to that which we know today as the "Ancient
and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry."
Ramsay's inspiration resulted in the formation of the Loge
L'Anglaise, No. 363 (Modern), created on April 27, 1732 in Bordeaux, France,
opened by an Irishman, Captain Martin Kelly as Master.
This Lodge served as a "Mother Lodge," with one of its
"offspring" being the "Loge La Francoise," which in turn created another, the
"Loge Parfaite Harmonie" (Perfect Harmony) between 1740 and 1744. History
suggests that the latter Lodge was formed for the sole purpose of conferring
the Ecossaise Degrees. Inaccurate or incomplete historical records further
suggest that it probably was the first Lodge exclusively founded for this
purpose. According to available records, it antedates all other Ecossaise
bodies now known. This Lodge is known to have existed four years prior to
similar bodies formed in Toulouse; seven years prior to the Lodges formed in
THE SCOTTISH RITE EVOLUTION
It must be remembered that far too little of Freemasonry can be
traced to truly ‘solid’ proof. Much of the Craft became a long-standing
tradition, based on the readily accepted passions and presentations of
intelligent and clever individuals. Often the history is conservatively cited
as "convoluted." Such is the Scottish Rite.
Enter, now, one Stephen Morin, believed to have presided over
the "Loge Parfait Harmonie" in 1744; possibly in other years as well. History
also records that this Lodge was active for at least two years prior the date
of the controversial Arras Chapter of Rose Croix, allegedly formed on February
15, 1747, by Charles Edward Stuart (his connection is unproven).
The "Loge Parfait Harmonie" further established lodges in Paris,
with the earliest known in 1747. Other daughter Lodges were formed in San
Domingo, West Indies (Jamaica); Perigueux, France; and New Orleans, Louisiana
In 1754, the chevalier De Bonneville formed the Chapter of
Clermont (This chapter should not be confused with the Jesuits' College
of Clermont'). This Masonic Chapter was to have two bodies form within it,
the "Knights of the East" and the "Emperors of the East and West." The latter
group is believed to have absorbed the "Rite of Perfection," consisting of
twenty-five degrees. The Chapter of Clermont went dormant from approximately
1756 - 1758. The "Knights of the East" is presumed to have folded in
In 1756, a body which called itself the "Knights of the East,
Princes and Sovereigns of Masonry," was established in Paris. In 1758, the
Chapter of Clermont was revived, to become something of a rival group to the
"Knights of the East, Princes and Sovereigns of Masonry." Some of the brethren
in the Clermont Chapter were members of both groups and were somewhat
successful in imposing their influence on the Grand Lodge of France.
Ultimately, a passionate rivalry developed between the Clermont group and the
"Knights of the East, Princes and Sovereigns of Masonry," which resulted in
their influence fading. By 1767, their heated rivalry resulted in the
government ordering a ban on all Freemasonry in France.
The "Rite of Perfection" was first heard of after 1758. It is
believed that this rite originally contained fourteen degrees. History is
unclear as to the origin of this rite but it is believed to have originated
with the Chapter of Clermont; later to be taken over by the "Emperors of the
East and the West."
Historians are left to speculate that the Chapter of Clermont
arbitrarily selected degrees at will, forming them into a somewhat loose
degree system. In the beginning there were fourteen; with the "Emperors of
the East and the West" supposedly adding eleven for a total of twenty-five.
At best we are still left to the question of who compiled any of
the degrees which are used today in the Scottish Rite; a common problem which
exists in most of the Rites of Freemasonry. Unfortunately, this question is
likely to be eternal.
Research indicates that the Rite of Perfection contained
fourteen degrees by 1751 and that these degrees centered on the affairs of
Solomon's Temple. The second portion of this rite added eleven additional
degrees, for a total of 25. The latter eleven degrees dealt with the Second
Temple of Solomon, being rebuilt by Zerubbabel, plus a third, dealing with the
Mystical Temple of Christ. The latter degrees were added after 1751. The
last eleven degrees began with the Knight of the East or Sword, ending with
the Knight Kadosh; or Knight of the Black and White Eagle as the 24th degree,
with the Prince of the Royal Secret as the 25th degree.
In 1762, a Sovereign Grand Council of the 25th Degree was
established, with a Grand Secretary, two subordinate Secretaries (one for
Paris and Bordeaux, and another for the Provinces). This information is found
in the CONSTITUTIONS of 1762, which were compiled by the nine Commissaries in
Bordeaux. These same officers issued a Patent to Morin. It should be noted
that these degrees were neither controlled nor recognized by the Grand Lodge
of France, headquartered in Paris.
In the same time frame, a similar group is referred to, which
was formed in Paris, also not recognized by the Grand Lodge. It is unclear
whether the new Paris group and the Bordeaux group either worked together or
that they were actually the same. In any case, they issued documents which
are believed to originate from Bordeaux. It is strongly believed that group
was a Sublime Council of Prince Masons, with headquarters in both Paris and
Let us now return to Stephen Morin. A Patent was issued to
Morin in 1761 by the Bordeaux Sublime Council of Prince Masons, enabling Morin
to propagate the Rite (of 25 degrees) in America. Morin received the
"Ecossaise" title of "Inspector." Many original documents indicate that there
were at least two other "Inspectors" before Morin. These included Lamoliere
de Feuillas, appointed as a "Deputy Inspector" in France, on July 24, 1752,
who, in turn, appointed Bertrand Barthomieu, a Deputy for the West Indies
(Haiti, Jamaica & Cuba) in 1753.
Stephen Morin (presumably a Deputy Inspector) traveled to the
West Indies, where he immediately became embroiled in a conflict with a Deputy
Inspector, Lamoliere de Feuillas. Morin consequently returned quickly to
Bordeaux in 1761, to explain the problem and seek relief. The Sovereign Grand
Council gave Morin a Patent on August 27, 1761 as "GRAND MASTER INSPECTOR."
This was to be the beginning of today’s Scottish Rite.
It is interesting to note that Morin's Patent displays ten
signers but none the signers are clearly identified as belonging to the Grand
Lodge of France, nor are any of their Lodges to be found on the Grand Lodge of
France list. The signers probably were not members of the Grand Lodge of
France, but rather belonged to the Lodges of the "Sovereign Grand Council."
History records that Morin, de Feuillard, Barthomieu, and Masse
de Roussillon, who was appointed as a Deputy Inspector in New Orleans,
Louisiana, were the only individuals to be appointed by the body in France.
These four Inspectors were granted the authority to appoint
Deputy Inspectors, with their appointees having the same privilege.
Morin returned to the West Indies with his newly acquired
Patent, but without a copy of the CONSTITUTIONS which had not yet been
prepared; these were to be sent to him later. However, on the return voyage,
Morin's ship was captured by the British and he was taken to England as a
It is known that Morin was not imprisoned in England, as there
is evidence that he called upon Lord Ferrers, the Grand Master of the Grand
Lodge of England (Moderns). Morin claimed that Lord Ferrers endorsed his
patent, recognizing Morin as the only individual responsible for the Lodge
Degrees of the Rite of Perfection in the Western Hemisphere.
Morin also was reported to have been in Scotland for three
months or more in 1762. The latitude of freedom allowed him suggests that
while he was classified as a civilian prisoner, he was trusted by the English
authorities, possibly due to his status in Masonry.
Eventually, Morin arrived in Jacmel, San Domingo in 1763, taking
up residence with the local Parish Priest, to find a copy of the CONSTITUTIONS
of 1762 awaiting him. Morin quickly appointed a "Senior Deputy Inspector
General," Henry Andrew Francken, who was a naturalized customs official of
Dutch ancestry, then residing in Kingston, Jamaica.
From 1748 to 1757, several Ecossaise Lodges had already been
established under the authority of Bordeaux in the West Indies. In 1764,
Morin also began establishing Ecossaise bodies. The first of these bodies was
the Rite of Perfection in Port-au-Prince, San Domingo.
Some Masonic writers have tried to discount Morin's authority,
claiming that the Grand Lodge of France annulled Morin's Patent on August 17,
1766. However, copies of the document which purports to negate that authority
carry no signatures. Further, it may be noted that the Grand Lodge of France
did not issue the Patent to Morin. Therefore, in the most liberal case, the
Grand Lodge no authority to annul it.
The alleged annulment further claims that a "Worshipful Brother
Martin," was appointed in Morin's stead. However, the mentioned "Worshipful
Brother Martin" has never been identified. No record of such an appointment
has ever been located in the official Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of
France. Again, the Grand Lodge of France never had or claimed any authority
over Ecossaise Lodges.
In 1761, Henry Francken (having been appointed by Morin as a
Senior Deputy Inspector General) authorized the establishment of a Lodge of
Perfection (of 14 degrees) in Albany, New York, with other bodies coming into
existence through 1790.
There exist the records of approximately fifty Inspectors of the
Rite of Perfection who were appointed before 1800. Additionally there can be
found the names of others whose dates of appointment are unconfirmed.
With that number of Inspectors of the Rite of Perfection
existing, it may be assumed that they were actively propagating the Rite, as
history also records. The propagation of the Rite primarily took place in
Jamaica, San Domingo, Charleston, South Carolina and Philadelphia,
As far as existing records allow, it is appropriate to study the
activities of two particular men involved immediately prior to the formation
of the Charleston Council, 33°,
in South Carolina - Count Alexandre Francois Auguste De Grasse-Tilly and Jean
Baptiste Noel Marie Delahogue.
Count Alexandre Francois Auguste de Grasse-Tilly was born in
Versailles, France. De Grasse was made a Mason in the Contrat Social Ecossais
Lodge in Paris.
Jean Baptiste Noel Marie Delahogue was also de Grasse's
father-in-law. His original Masonic initiation place and date are not known.
De Grasse was the son of the French Admiral. De Grasse came to
San Domingo in 1789 to operate several inherited sugar plantations left by his
father. De Grasse met Delahogue shortly after his arrival in San Domingo. It
is probable that they met at Masonic functions, as they were both Masonically
active. De Grasse married Delahogue's daughter.
In this time frame, San Domingo was undergoing the "slave
uprisings." In 1793 the rebellions were so violent that most of the white
population sought refuge wherever they could. De Grasse and Delahogue, with
their families, traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, arriving in Charleston
on August 14, 1793. They resided in the United States intermittently until
De Grasse returned to San Domingo in 1799 where he was captured
by the slaves. At the insistence of the American Council, he was subsequently
released, as he was a naturalized American citizen.
There are some activities of these two brethren which are yet
unexplained by the dates of several events. Both de Grasse and Delahogue had
a 32nd degree before arriving at Charleston; both had signed documents since
1795 appointing them as Deputy Inspectors General of the twenty-five degree
Rite of Perfection.
However, no record has been found with regard to their
appointment before 1796. If they were previously appointed to the 32nd
degree, it is curious that on December 12, 1796, did Hyman Isaac Long, a
Deputy Inspector General of the Rite of Perfection, as its titular leader in
Jamaica, appointed de Grasse with five others who were also French refugees as
Deputy Inspectors, empowering Delahogue, who was made a Deputy Inspector
General a month earlier, to set up a Lodge of High Secrets of the 25th degree,
in Charleston. Perhaps this was an attempt to gain unquestioned local
A Grand or Sublime Council was organized by de Grasse on January
13, 1797. De Grasse also issued some 33rd degree patents to Delahogue and
others on November 12, 1796.
In 1795, de Grasse and his father-in-law, Delahogue, founded the
Loge La Candeur in Charleston, which was composed exclusively of French Roman
Catholics. De Grasse became its Master in 1798. On August 4, 1799, de
Grasse demitted this new lodge, founding the Loge La Reunion at Charleston,
six days later.
De Grasse became the Grand Commander, with Delahogue as the Lt.
Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the French West Indies on February
21, 1802. In March of 1802, de Grasse returned to San Domingo to serve under
Unfortunately, de Grasse was captured and taken to Jamaica. For
unexplained reasons, he was allowed considerable freedom. De Grasse was
released in 1804, immediately departing for Bordeaux, France, arriving in
July. In September, he established the Supreme Council of France. The loss
of all his possessions in San Domingo forced him to resume a military career
to support his family. De Grasse was taken a prisoner in Italy. However, he
was transferred to England, being released in 1814, he then returned to
France. In de Grasse's absence, Delahogue headed the Masonic bodies which de
Grasse had established. During this time frame, de Grasse established the
Supreme Councils of Italy in Milan on March 5, 1805; in Madrid, Spain in
October 1809. Following his return, de Grasse added Brussels, on May 11,
In the mean time, Delahogue had been issued a Patent as Deputy
Grand Inspector General of the Rite of Perfection on November 12, 1796, one
month prior the Patent issued to de Grasse. Delahogue was the first Master of
the Loge La Candeur which had been founded by himself and de Grasse. Delahogue
was naturalized in New Orleans as an American citizen in August, 1804. Delahogue
became affiliated with the Loge La Charite, under the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania, in May of 1804. In July, 1804 the Supreme Council at Charleston
issued Delahogue a patent to establish "bodies under its authority." When
Delahogue received word that de Grasse had been released as a prisoner in the
Jamaica incident in the summer of 1804, he immediately returned to France.
When de Grasse was appointed as the Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of
France, Delahogue then assumed the similar office in the Supreme Council of
the West Indies. However, due to the obvious politics, this office was "in
These two French-Americans are prominent in Masonic history as
energetic promoters. Of all the associated names, these two are recognized as
being very dynamic participants, along with nine others who established the
first Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite (now
known as the Scottish Rite) in the world. The other nine were Frederick
Dalcho, John Mitchell, Abraham Alexander, Isaac Auld, Thomas B. Bowen,
Emanuel de la Motta, Israel de Lieben, Moses C. Levy and James Moultrie. In
this number, there were two Americans, two Englishmen, two Irishmen, a Pole, a
Czech, a Danish West Indian, plus the two Frenchmen - De Grasse and Delahogue.
Five of this number were Protestants, two were Roman Catholics and four were
Jews. All except De Grasse and Delahogue died in or near Charleston, South
It remains a mystery where three of the founders, Mitchell, de
Grasse or Delahogue received their 33rd degree. De Grasse and Delahogue
signed documents claiming the 33rd degree in 1797, four years prior to the
formation of the Supreme Council. Masonic historians readily agree that due
to their energy and persistence, de Grasse and Delahogue were probably the
only individuals who could have effected the organization of the Supreme
The mystery of their 33rd degree surrounds the fact that the
33rd degree was not then - and is not now - a "working" degree. The 33rd
degree is exclusively honorary; leaving the rite exposed to the
"chicken-or-the-egg" issue. In the beginning, this degree was probably a
title without any associated ceremony, in line with the titles of the Deputy
or Grand Inspectors General of the Rite of Perfection, with no associated
ritual or prior reference to a holder of this grade being known. It is highly
probable that the original 33rd degree was "self-appointed." It is also
reasonably probable that there was enough commercial trafficking in Masonic
Degrees, that profit motives inspired the remaining degrees, from the 26th
to the 33rd.
In any case, history records that in 1801, these eleven Masons
formally met in Charleston, South Carolina, forming the Scottish Rite of
Freemasonry, citing the Constitutions of 1762 and the Grand Constitutions of
1786 as the basis of the Rite.
However, it would appear that the particular ‘source’ documents
might not have existed – until later.
It is worthwhile to note that while Charleston is still
traditionally held as the ‘formal’ seat of the Scottish Rite "Southern
Jurisdiction," the functioning main headquarters is located in Washington, DC.
The matter of the 33rd degree is an interesting
debate. In theory, the first 33rd degree was issued to John
Mitchell on authority of Fredrick the Great of Prussia – in French. One must
appreciate that French was the language of the Royal Court of Prussia. While
the expected documentation for the degree is missing, the 33rd
degree was accepted as bone fide. Later, that became a problem.
Yet, there came a problem of legitimacy – the factual origins of
the "Grand Constitutions of 1786." The general regard for these goes to the
possibility that they were forgeries – however well-intended. In theory,
Fredrick Dalcho wrote both an English version and a French version; claiming
that the English version was a translation from the ‘original’ French version.
The mystery is that both provided for two Supreme Councils in the USA;
lacking motive or rational thinking.
In the years between 1762 and 1786, several sets of
"Constitutions" were produced, with no authentication. Thus, these
Constitutions have been largely ignored or studied out of curiosity. Whatever
the hardened facts, history records that the "1786 Constitutions" won out.
The purported ‘original’ copy was said to have been signed by Frederick the
Great of Prussia, on his death bed.
Disregarding the origin of the Constitutions and the creation of
the thirty-third degree, and other degrees which make up the Scottish Rite,
these Constitutions have since been relied upon as the basis of the Scottish
Rite law and the Scottish Rite degrees. It is admitted that no one has been
able to prove who originally wrote any of the degrees or the Constitutions.
However, there were to be a few more wrinkles left to be ironed
out. Between 1801 and 1827, there appeared several individuals who claimed to
possess a variety of different degrees (up to 33°),
based upon various "Constitutions" and patents, most of which could not be
In the middle of that debate, one Joseph Cerneau appeared in New
York, to establish a second Supreme Council on October 27, 1807. According to
the strict language of the ‘accepted’ 1786 Constitutions, a second Supreme
Council was authorized. Cerneau also claimed the status of the 33rd
degree. The estimation is that since John Mitchell and Cerneau were both
equally empowered as Deputy Inspector General of the 25º, then Cerneau assumed
automatic standing as a 33rd degree. In other words, it was a
battle of egos.
Again, it should be noted that there were two versions of the
1786 Constitutions, one in French; and another in Latin. Both provided for
the dual supreme jurisdictions. The Southern Jurisdiction claimed the Latin
version, while Cerneau’s Northern Jurisdiction claimed the French version.
In the background, there was an interesting twist. In 1813 a
Grand Council of Princes of the Royal Secret, 32º was organized in New
Orleans, by Cerneau. While being somewhat ‘irregular,’ those degrees were in
evidence – but not the 33rd degree. There is every possibility
that some of Cerneau’s followers found their way into the Charlston group,
importing the 25th through the 32nd degrees. That left
the 33rd degree a matter of claimancy, as there was no known
initiation ritual. What one man could arbitrarily claim, so could the other.
Thus, Cerneau made his claim to both the 33rd Degree, and the
right to form a second Supreme Council.
The Southern Jurisdiction wanted national supremacy, however,
its Constitutions provided for two supreme jurisdictions, in the USA – they
were stuck with that. In the United States, an agreement among the
jurisdictions in 1813 divided the Rite into a Northern and a Southern
Jurisdiction. Initially, the Northern Jurisdiction claimed the greater
The subsequent activities of various individuals caused
tremendous confusion, and resulted in the formation of two additional "Supreme
Councils." In 1813, Emanuel De La Motta, 33°, of Savannah, Georgia, the Grand
Treasurer General of the Supreme Council in Charleston, organized a Supreme
Council of the Thirty-third degree for the Northern District and Jurisdiction
of the United States of America, in New York City.
Now comes the Comte St. Laurent, a man about whom very little
is known, including his activities in Masonry before 1830. He is important
because of his appearance in New York in 1832 and because of his affiliation
with the Cerneau Rite group. St. Laurent may have been more individually
responsible in the formation of the Supreme Council Charleston, South Carolina
in 1801 than anyone.
St. Laurent was a former ship captain and commander of a
flotilla of the Mexican Navy. In 1832, St. Laurent ambitiously claimed to be
the Sovereign Grand Commander of a Supreme Council, which he claimed had the
title of "The Supreme Council for New Spain, and Mexico, Terra Firma, Southern
America and from the one sea to the other, the Canary Islands, etc., etc." The
territory he claimed included Mexico and the territory which became the
present states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California,
Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The claimed territory
further included the northern coastline of South America, Florida and western
Florida to the Mississippi River, as well as the Canary Islands.
St. Laurent appeared in New York in 1832 to successfully pursue
a merger of his Supreme Council with what is now termed the "Cerneau Rite of
Perfection." Those of the Cerneau Rite were then attempting to put their rite
on a par with the two Supreme Councils, 33°;
claiming that its 25th degree was equivalent to the 32nd degree of these two
St. Laurent claimed to offer a coveted (though questioned)
prize, the only known copy of the Grand Constitutions of 1786. His
proposition was accepted with the combined bodies coming to be known as "The
United Supreme Council for the Western Hemisphere." The Constitutions St.
Laurent presented were probably a copy, as St. Laurent claimed to have
deposited the original in the archives of the merged Supreme Council.
However, the truth will probably remain a mystery. A suspicious fire broke
out only few months before the Supreme Council became extinct, destroying all
This account injects a major question. If St. Laurent had the
earliest available copy, how did the Charleston group form in 1801 – citing
those same Constitutions? Given the non-survival of so many key documents –
factual or otherwise – we cannot be certain.
Soon after the merger, St. Laurent traveled to Paris. In 1834,
a Treaty of Alliance between the Supreme Councils of France, Belgium, Brazil
and The United Supreme Council for the Western Hemisphere was formed. In June
of 1834, St. Laurent wrote to the Belgium Supreme Council, claiming to have
a copy of the Grand Constitutions, signed by an Illustrious Brother Bernardo
de Galvez, the former Viceroy of Mexico, and Illustrious Brother Wowelner as
well as other Grand Commanders. Assuming that this statement is accurate, it
is possible that St. Laurent gave a copy of the Grand Constitutions to de
Grasse-Tilly in San Domingo, before de Grasse-Tilly traveled to Charleston.
If this information is correct, this would be consistent with de
Grasse setting up a Supreme Council on paper for the West Indies in 1796.
Assuming that de Grasse did have a copy, using it to assist the formation of
the Supreme Council in 1801, and that he gave them a copy, it would have been
unfortunately lost with the other Supreme Council records in a fire in
Charleston which destroyed nearly all of the existing records.
However, it is believed that there was a factual copy of the
"1786 Constitutions" in Charleston in 1801 when the Supreme Council was
formed, evidenced by a copy in French "translated from the English" by
Delahogue at Charleston, not later than 1802. This copy is now located in the
archives of the Grand Lodge of the Netherlands. There is also a copy of the
Grand Constitutions in English in the handwriting of Dr. Dalcho in the
archives of the Supreme Council 33°,
of the Northern Jurisdiction.
The first recorded public exhibit of the so-called "Grand
Constitutions of 1786," took place in France, through the efforts of St.
Laurent, first displayed in 1832 in French; 1834 it was displayed in Latin.
Up to that time, no Supreme council was confirmed to be in possession of
The convoluted history of all these activities ultimately
resulted in various acts of reconciliation; finally with a formal merger of
these Supreme Councils (Cerneau, St. Laurent and De La Motta) into the
Northern Jurisdiction, in 1867.
To encapsulate the history of the Southern Jurisdiction, today's
"Scottish Rite" evolved from the "Rite of Perfection" with the 4th through the
25 degrees relying on the Constitutions of 1761 and 1762 for their existence.
The Rite of Perfection spread from Bordeaux, France, through the West Indies
to the United States. The Grand Constitutions of 1786 were adopted by the
Charleston Supreme Council in 1801, adding the 26th through the 33rd degree to
officially form what is known today as "The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
of Freemasonry" – Southern Jurisdiction.
Adding to the confusion, one more body was formed in 1881,
referring to itself as a "Supreme Council." This group attached itself to the
"Cerneau" system. This body was successful in attracting a small membership,
but was essentially ignored by the Northern & Southern Jurisdictions. By
approximately 1920, no more proof of its existence could be found.
By 1859, the Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction was
fading rapidly; nearly dormant. Enter the now famous Albert Pike, author of
"Morals and Dogma."
Pike was given the task of compiling and organizing the degrees
and rituals of the Scottish Rite, which were confusing and bewildering with
little indication as to their source or meaning. Pike researched and compiled
the various rituals, completing the work in 1866. (It is worth noting that
Pike's labor took place during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.) Pike's
degree work and organization skills inspired a new excitement for the Scottish
Rite which continues today.
While Pike's book
"Morals and Dogma" has been the focus of
much admiration - and controversy - it should be noted that Pike explained the
rituals and degrees of the Scottish Rite; he did not invent them. Although
"Morals and Dogma"
is now out of print, the remaining copies serve as a rich source of
information about Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite. Naturally, the book has
been preserved in various computer file formats; generally available on the
The essence of Pike’s work, is that morality is to be discovered
in all the ‘sacred’ schools of thought, however ancient, pagan, or ‘modern.’
Again, the systematic emphasis on morality. Unfortunately, Pike’s scholastic
style will discourage most from reading more than approximately the first
It should also be mentioned that in one of Pike's statements in
"Morals and Dogma,"
Pike favorably refers to himself as being 'Lucifer.' This statement has been
one of the strongholds of those who would attack Freemasonry, through the
distortion of facts.
As illustrated by John Robinson, in his book
"A Pilgrim's Path,"
the confusion emanates from the fact that the original Hebrew version of the
Old Testament only refers to a fallen Babylonian king and uses the name
Lucifer in reference to a star which appears in the morning, marking the
approach of the dawn.
In the Christian fundamentalist environment, this reference
became distorted into the concept of the ‘fallen angel’ which is supposed to
be Lucifer or Satan. Pike's scholarship not only attracted critics, but it
ultimately served to alienate him from the typical Mason. Pike's scholarship
also leave most readers wishing that
"Morals and Dogma" had been rewritten with
the typical Mason in mind, as opposed to being writings of a true intellect.
Many a mason has lamented, "I wish
they'd translate it into English."
In all fairness, however, we must note one observation:
"Fifty years ago, Latin and Greek were commonly taught in high schools.
Today, remedial English is taught in colleges."
With respect to the American Scottish Rite body, the term
'Scottish' was not originally used, except in reference to some extraneous
degrees. The name, "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite," was first used in
1832, referring to the "Grand Constitutions" of 1786. In the U.S., that name
came into general use under Pike's administration of the Rite.
It should be added that in 1884, Charles T. McClenechan wrote
"The Book of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,"
which detailed the working of the degrees of the Scottish Rite. Although it
was written so as to be pertinent to both jurisdictions, this publication was
essentially a product of the "Northern Jurisdiction," receiving little
recognition, in Masonic history; compared to "Morals and Dogma."
Today, the Scottish Rite is still rising in popularity
throughout the Masonic world. The Scottish Rite now formally consists of
thirty-three degrees, counting the basic Entered Apprentice; Fellow Craft, and
Master Mason; the three degrees which are the basis of all Masonic rites. The
thirty-third degree is honorary.
As with all Masonic bodies, the Scottish Rite also maintains a
variety of charities. The Scottish Rite operates more than sixty centers for
childhood language disorders, in addition to medical centers; one in Atlanta,
the other in Dallas. The Scottish Rite also contributes generously to a
variety of other charities, whenever needed.
Today, the titles of the Scottish Rite Degrees are as follows:
Provost and Judge.
Intendant of the Building.
9° - Elu
of the Nine. Elu - (pronounced "EE LOO" [e LEYOU in
10° - Elu
of the Fifteen. French –"chosen" or "elected"]
11° - Elu
of the Twelve.
Royal Arch of Solomon.
Knight of the East.
Prince of Jerusalem.
Knight of the East and West.
Knight Rose Croix.
Master of the Symbolic Lodge.
Noachite or Prussian Knight.
Knight of the Royal Axe or Prince of Libanus.
Chief of the Tabernacle.
Prince of the Tabernacle.
Knight of the Brazen Serpent.
Prince of Mercy.
Knight Commander of the Temple.
Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept.
Scottish Knight of St. Andrew.
Master of the Royal Secret.
This degree refers to King Solomon's Temple and the subsequent
appointment of seven of the most worthy and expert Master Masons, acting as
special guardians of the Sanctum Sanctorum and of the sacred furniture.
Silence, Secrecy, and Fidelity are emphasized in this degree.
This degree honors the death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff,
instructing Masons to pay due respect to the memory of our deceased worthy
In the drama of this degree, King Solomon saves the life of a
suspected spy, or eavesdropper, thereby emphasizing us zealousness,
faithfulness, and reminding Masons to be ever be careful not to offend another
brother by prying into his private life or secrets; "a soft answer turneth
PROVOST AND JUDGE
This teachings of this degree refer to King Solomon's
appointment of several Judges after the death of the slain Grand Master, so as
to ensure that justice would be appropriately administered among the workmen
of the Temple. This degree advocates Equality, Justice and Impartiality,
emphasizing the idea that justice should be administered with mercy.
INTENDANT of the BUILDING
This degree teaches that , following the stoppage the
construction of the Temple due to the death of its Chief Architect, King
Solomon appointed five Superintendents - one Superintendent for each of the
Five Departments of Architecture. Under the supervision of these
Superintendents, the construction is continued. The degree emphasizes the
exercise and propagation of Charity and Benevolence, educating the orphan, and
comforting the sick and distressed.
ELU (chosen) of the NINE
In this degree, Solomon elects nine men to investigate a matter
so that the offenders may be brought to justice. This degree inculcates and
illustrates the lesson that we should be careful not to allow ourselves to be
led astray by excess zeal, even in support of a good cause; not to take
matters in our own hands, inflicting punishment, however justly due, for the
violation of human or divine laws.
ELU of the FIFTEEN
This degree recounts in detail the mode of arrest and the
punishment of the remaining assassins. This degree reminds us that the
unerring eye of Justice will discover the guilty, meting out just punishment.
Morally, this degree teaches that ambition and fanaticism will always be
overthrown and dispelled by the sword of Justice and Freedom.
ELU OF THE TWELVE
The degree illustrates the reward conferred by King Solomon upon
twelve of the Masters Elect of Fifteen who were instrumental in bringing the
assassins of the Master Builder to justice. King Solomon constitutes the
twelve as Governors over the twelve tribes of Israel. This degree teaches
that the true and faithful brother will, sooner or later, receive his just
reward; further teaching us to be Earnest, Honest, and Sincere.
It is claimed that this degree was established as a school of
instruction for the workmen of the Temple, assuring uniformity in work, and to
reward those workmen who were eminent in science and skill. In this degree,
the rules of architecture and the connection of the liberal arts and sciences
are amplified. The degree further teaches that Virtue is as necessary as
ROYAL ARCH of SOLOMON
This degree constitutes the peak of the Ineffable Degrees. This
degree is the keystone of the arch; discovering that which is revealed in the
succeeding Degree of Perfection.
The Lodge symbolizes the Secret Vault under the Sanctum
Sanctorum, containing the Pillar of Beauty, on which is placed the Holy
four-letter Name. This degree explains the Tetragrammaton, teaching that when
one has properly consecrated his life (mind and heart) for final preparation,
reward will be achieved upon the "completion of the Temple."
KNIGHT of the EAST or SWORD
This degree references the Babylonian captivity, the release and
return of the captives to Jerusalem and to the rebuilding of the Second Temple
of Solomon under the authority of King Cyrus. The lesson of this degree
teaches Fidelity to conviction.
PRINCE of JERUSALEM
This degree is a continuation of the preceding degree
representing the trials of the workers in the re-building of the Temple and of
their final success, aided by King Darius. Zerubbabel orders the men to work
with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other. This degree teaches
the majesty of Truth.
KNIGHT of the EAST and WEST
In this degree, the Word is again lost and, figuratively, the
Third Temple of Solomon, or Spiritual Temple in the heart of man, is to be
built; dedicated to the God of Truth. The 17th degree serves as an
introduction to the 18th degree.
KNIGHT of the ROSE CROIX
In this degree, the novice is still searching for the Truth and
the lost Word. In his journeys through the years, he attains the three
virtues which will guide him - Faith, Hope and Charity. The novice is taught
the meaning of the New Law.
In this degree, the eleven degrees of the Areopagus, which are
to follow, illustrate the frailties and errors of human nature. This degree
illuminates the conflict between good and evil. In this degree, the sworn
Knight of Justice, Truth and Tolerance is admonished to be patient and work.
MASTER of the PERFECT LODGE
This degree teaches the duties, powers and privileges of a
Master. It teaches that the right to govern is not only through selection of
the brethren, but also by intelligence which is attained through patient labor
and the careful study of Masonic doctrines. The requisites of this degree are
Toleration, Justice and Truth.
NOACHITE, or PRUSSIAN KNIGHT
This degree teaches the story of the Crusaders who sought to
protect and shield the innocent and, in the course of rendering justice, to
hold all persons guiltless until they are convicted.
KNIGHT of the ROYAL AXE
This degree tells the story of those who cut the cedars on Mount
Libanus for the building of Noah's ark. This degree teaches that labor is
honorable and that men should strive to improve the condition of the toiling
millions. This degree teaches that among all workmen, whatever be their
vocation, nobility and rank are not excepted.
CHIEF of the TABERNACLE
This degree relates to the Tabernacle and its ancient
ceremonies. Unholy sacrilege and presumptuous interference with the sacred
ceremonies are forbidden. Only those with their hearts divested of impurity
are commended in the performance of the holy rites.
PRINCE of the TABERNACLE
This degree teaches that the special duties of a Prince of the
Tabernacle are to labor incessantly for the glory of God, for the honor of his
country, and for the happiness of his brethren, and also to give thanks and
prayers in lieu of the sacrifices of flesh and blood.
KNIGHT of the BRAZEN SERPENT
This degree relates to the time when the Israelites camp was
pitched at Punon after the death of Aaron, in the fortieth year of the
wandering of the children of Israel in the wilderness. This degree teaches
that the duties of a Knight of the Brazen Serpent are purification of the soul
of its alloy of earthliness and to restore faith in God.
PRINCE of MERCY
This degree teaches that when Domitian was emperor of Rome; when
danger and death hung on their footsteps, the Christian Masons were forced to
meet in the Catacombs to celebrate the Mysteries. While depicting the
mysteries as practiced by the first Christians, this degree illustrates that
Masonry belongs to all time, that Masonry is of no religion, and that Masonry
finds its great truths in all.
KNIGHT COMMANDER of the TEMPLE
This degree is dedicated to the Teutonic Knights of the House of
St. Mary of Jerusalem. This Order was originated at the siege of St. Jean
D'Acre, when the tents for the sick and wounded were made from the sails of
ships. The Knights fought the infidel Saladin by day, nursing the sick by
night. The knights guarded the city of Jerusalem against the Saracens. The
five excellent qualities of the knights were Humility, Temperance, Chastity,
Generosity and Honor.
KNIGHT of the SUN
This is the last of the philosophical degrees. The doctrine of
this degree is derived from the Cabala. This degree teaches Science, Reason,
and Faith. Nature is identified as the primary consistent, and the certain
revelation of God.
KNIGHT of ST. ANDREW
The degree inculcates Equality, representing the Knight as an
exponent of the Truth. This degree exemplifies toleration. This is the last
of the instructive degrees of the Historical and Philosophical series. This
degree serves as a fitting climax to the theory of Universal Religion.
This degree and the following two degrees compose the Templar
degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The virtues of this Order
are rehearsed, with the reward for due reverence of the obligations and
observance of the vows and tenets of the Institution exemplified. In this
degree, the Knight Kadosh proves himself to be a true defender of the Temple
of the Most High God. While the knight is armed outwardly, he is inwardly
armed with Faith to God and with Love for his fellow-man.
GRAND INSPECTOR INQUISITOR COMMANDER
In this degree, the test of the neophyte is changed to a
thorough examination under charges against Masonic law and duty before the
Order of the Five Brethren. The wise sayings of the sages and law-givers are
quoted as a means of instruction. This degree teaches the neophyte the
administration of impartial justice with firmness, ever remembering the
frailty and imperfection of human nature, also to pardon and forgive while
there yet remains hope for reformation.
PRINCE of the ROYAL SECRET
Originally, the degree was a Christian degree of Knighthood.
The object of this degree was originally to re-conquer the Holy Land, again
planting the Banner of the Cross once more on the walls of Jerusalem. This
degree now teaches that Masons should be diligent in their war against the
ancient enemies of the human race - that Masons should be the lovers of Wisdom
and apostles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
SOVEREIGN GRAND INSPECTOR GENERAL
This is not a degree, but an investiture ceremony in degree
form. This degree is conferred only by the Supreme Council of the Scottish
Rite. This degree may not be petitioned for; it is only awarded for merit -
conferred as an honorarium.
In the United States, the Scottish Rite is divided into the
Northern and Southern Jurisdictions. The Southern Jurisdiction membership is
considerably larger than the Northern Jurisdiction. While the original 'see'
is acknowledged as being Charleston, South Carolina, the headquarters body is
said to 'reside' in Washington D.C. The building there is magnificent,
The degrees in the Southern Jurisdiction are separated in four
bodies as follows: Lodges of Perfection (4°-14°); Chapters of Rose Croix
(15°-18°); Councils of Kadosh (19°E -30°E
); and Consistories (31°-32°).
In the Northern Jurisdiction the degrees are separated into: the
Lodges of Perfection (4°-14°);
Councils of Princes of Jerusalem (15°-16°);
Chapters of Rose Croix (17°-18°);
and Consistories (19°-32°).
In the Northern Jurisdiction there is a substitute degree
conferred for the Twentieth Degree, which is known as the GEORGE WASHINGTON
The Southern Jurisdiction is organized in terms of Orients
(state jurisdictions) and Valleys (Lodges, containing the subordinate bodies,
The Lodge of Perfection conducts the primary business of the
Valley, while each of the individual (subordinate) Lodges meet to conduct
traditional business. Each of the four main Lodges focus on the presentation
of the moral and philosophical dramas, associated with each degree, contained
within the particular Lodge.
STATES OF THE NORTHERN JURISDICTION
STATES OF THE SOUTHERN JURISDICTION
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
THE YORK RITE OF FREEMASONRY
The suggestion of history is that with the competition between
the "York" bodies, including the "Antients," the Royal Arch degree was
fabricated out of the ‘legends’ of the Chevalier Ramsey’s famous oration.
Thereafter, the York Rite, per se, seemed to simply ‘blossom.’
It should be appreciated that there is a certain amount of
ritual ‘borrowing" from the Scottish Rite. With a few of the Scottish Rite
pioneers also involved in the York Rite, this should not come as any form of
In the American system of Freemasonry, the York Rite first
requires membership in the Symbolic (Blue) Lodge. Progression through the
York Rite system begins with the Royal Arch Masons, progressing to the Royal
and Select Masters Councils, then to the Commanderies of Knights Templar.
These are independent bodies (three separate memberships), with the senior
officers elected by and from the membership of the particular organization in
a manner nearly identical to the Master Mason's Lodge.
From the Blue Lodge, the Mason enters the York Rite through the
Royal Arch "Chapter." In that body, the Royal Arch Mason progresses from Mark
Master to Past Master, to Most Excellent Master, finally to Royal Arch Mason.
These degrees are referred to as the 'Captitular Degrees;' referencing the
"cap stone" of a stone archway.
Moving on to the Royal & Select Masters, or the "Council," the
Mason progresses from Royal Master to Select Master to Super Excellent Master.
These are referred to as the Cryptic Degrees.
In the Order of Knights Templar, referred to as the "Commandery,"
the Mason progresses from the Order of the Red Cross, to the Order of Malta,
finally to the Order of the Temple. These are referred to as the Chivalric
There is no central authority for the York Rite, per se. The
leaders and officers at all echelons of the York Rite (Symbolic, Capitular,
Cryptic, and Chivalric) coordinate and cooperate in concert, as though they
were part of one organization. The composite body is the "General Grand York
ROYAL ARCH MASONS
The keystone is the locking stone of the Arch. Therefore, the
"copestone," being located at the top, is the cap of the entire arch.
Consequently, the Royal Arch of Freemasonry, is symbolically regarded as "The
Copestone of Ancient Craft Masonry;" otherwise referred to as the "Capitular
Rite." The keystone is the symbol for the Royal Arch body.
A chapter of Royal Arch Masons (in the United States) confers
the degrees of Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and the Most
Sublime Degree of the Holy Royal Arch. To add meaning to the Masonic work,
these degrees are usually conferred with the participants wearing the
appropriate costumes of the drama.
In Virginia and West Virginia, the Royal Arch Chapters
additionally confer the degrees of Royal and Select Masters of the Cryptic
Rite. In Pennsylvania, the Grand Lodge controls the degree of Past Master.
MARK MASTER'S DEGREE
It was an ancient custom for stonemasons to engrave an
identifying symbol upon their work. This symbol was known as the Mason's
"mark." The "operative" Masons on the continent and in England commonly left
their "marks" on their stonework dating to the dark ages. The marks were
typically inscribed upon the stonework with an engraver's chisel. These marks
often consisted of a simple combination of straight lines.
The Mason's mark identified the work of each craftsman, and
served as an artists signature in a period when a very high percentage the
population was uneducated. Such a "mark" obviously served no symbolic meaning
in the operative craft, only to categorize the workman by the quality of his
Consequently, most of the stonemasons only placed their mark
upon their best work. This practice served the mason's pride and also was
probably an early form of quality control.
The medieval lodges of stonemasons are known to have kept a
registration "Book of Marks" of their members. Some of these books have
survived. The tradition of the "Book of Marks" is a part of the current
speculative craft; each American Chapter maintains a "Book of Marks" of its
members. Often, the members have their Royal Arch jewelry inscribed with
their personal 'mark.'
The first known conferral of a Mark Mason's degree is referenced
in the minutes of September 1, 1769 of the Phoenix Royal Arch chapter,
operating within the Masonic confines of the Friendship Lodge at Portsmouth,
England. According to those minutes, one Thomas Dunckerley, the Grand Master
of the "Modern" Grand Lodge delivered the Warrant to the Chapter. The minutes
stated that, "he made the brethren 'Mark Masons' and 'Mark Masters', and each
chose their Mark." Inasmuch as written rituals were not used in that time
frame, it is not known what was contained in the presentation of those
degrees. We can only assume that these degrees were in existence prior to
that date. In that time frame, it was the practice that the Mark Mason degree
was conferred in Fellowcraft lodges, while the Mark Master degree was
conferred in Master Mason's lodges.
Today, the ritual of the Mark Master degree is presented to
impressively illuminate the inherent values found in honest employment and
participation in charities.
PAST MASTER'S DEGREE
(Virtual Past Master, Installed Master)
The Past Master's degree has no basis in antiquity; its first
known reference being found in the middle of the 18th century, in England.
History is also not clear as to the exact motivation for the conferral of
this degree. We are left with two possibilities -
A. Several English lodges conferred the Installed Master's
degree upon the Masters of symbolic lodges. It is probable that the degree
included a secret word and grip which would only be conferred in the presence
of Installed Masters. This was a practice which varied in different parts of
England, as well as within the Grand Lodges of the Antients and the Moderns.
There is no record of any original standards being set for this degree.
B. It was also the custom of many lodges and chapters to
confer the degree of the Holy Royal Arch exclusively on Installed Masters of
lodges. As Masonry became more speculative than operative, the Royal Arch
Chapters were unable to grow, due to the limited number of actual Past
Masters. Therefore the standard was changed to confer a "virtual"
(ceremonial) Past Master degree to facilitate the conferral of the Royal Arch
degree. This practice caused a heated debate in English Masonry for over one
hundred years. Today, nearly all of the Grand Chapters in the United States
require this virtual degree as a prerequisite to the conferral of the Royal
It is also the conviction of some American Grand Lodges that a
Master-elect should receive specific instruction in lodge government. In some
jurisdictions, this requirement is met by taking the Master-elect through a
ritual known as the "Secrets of the Chairs."
Other Grand Lodges may require that the Wardens of the Blue
Lodges first receive the Past Master's Degree of the Chapter before their
installation into the Master's office. To facilitate that requirement, a
neighboring Royal Arch Chapter confers this degree upon the Wardens of the
surrounding lodges. This ceremony additionally satisfies the requirement of
several Grand Lodges which require the Master of a Symbolic Lodge to be
installed by an esoteric ritual.
Many Jurisdictions also hold a "Warden's Conference" to
facilitate the success of the incoming Masters, on the assumption that these
Wardens are intended to become the next Master; succession being democratic,
MOST EXCELLENT MASTER DEGREE
In the British Isles, during the 18th century, several degrees
with a similar title were conferred; Excellent Mason, Super Excellent Mason
and Excellent Master. A degree in Scotland called Most Excellent Master was
also being conferred in this time frame. While these degrees varied in their
content, this degree was a prerequisite to receiving the Royal Arch Degree,
regardless of its name or content.
The Most Excellent Master Degree, known in Scotland in the 18th
century, provided the main theme for the Most Excellent Master degree of the
American system. Thomas Smith Webb is credited with the final formation of
the American Most Excellent Master degree.
Webb is also to be remembered for his 1797 printed ritual work.
In 1819, this work was reprinted, with illustrations. Jeremy L. Cross
emulated this work with his illustrated version, "The True Masonic
Chart; or, Heiroglyphic Monitor."
The oldest references to the conferral of the Most Excellent
Master degree in the U.S. are found in Middletown, Connecticut, dated 1783,
and in the Newburyport Chapter in Massachusetts in 1797. It is possible that
this degree could have been conferred in the U.S. prior to 1783. It is
interesting that this degree is the only degree in Masonry which deals with
the completion of Solomon's Temple.
THE ROYAL ARCH DEGREE
(The Holy Royal Arch)
In Masonic concept, the Royal Arch is the capstone of the craft
(Blue Lodge) degrees. Without the basic Blue Lodge degrees, the Supreme Order
of the Holy Royal Arch has no foundation. Appropriately, the evolution of the
degree of the Holy Royal Arch is considered to be an extension of the Blue
Lodge degrees, debate aside.
Many theories have been put forth over the last two centuries as
to the origins of this degree. Each of these theories has been researched and
explored by many leading Masonic historians; many laid to rest.
One of the original theories claims that the Royal Arch legend
was originally a part of the Hiramic legend. However, this theory was
abandoned due to the objections the premier (Modern) Grand Lodge of England
expressed over the conferral of the Royal Arch by its subordinate lodges.
The oldest references to the Royal Arch degree date to England
in the 1730's, prior to the existence of the Antient Grand Lodge. While such
references are found in various Masonic literature of the 1730's, however,
there are no such references to be found in the lodge minutes of that time
According to several of these accounts, the Modern Grand Lodge
did not consider the Royal Arch a part of the basic craft degrees, effectively
denying that there was an "original" connection. Given the date of the
formation of the Modern Grand Lodge (1717) one may assume that the Grand Lodge
was having its share problems in forming a standard for working the original
craft degrees without the burden of additional debate. In the same time
frame, the Scottish and Irish Grand Lodges also disapproved of the use of this
degree. However, the Antient Grand Lodge (founded 1752) did accept the Royal
Arch degree as being the completion of the Hiramic Legend, permitting the
conferral of this degree in their symbolic lodges.
It should be appreciated that the debate also attests to the
antiquity of the degree. It should also be noted that the degrees were
prominent by name, as opposed to a sequential number.
The Royal Arch Degree is currently practiced as a refinement of
several legends, degrees and traditions which previously existed under that
name, or some similar name, in the first half of the 18th century in the
British Isles. The associated legends describe a "crypt," which varied as to
its type and location, either above or below the ground. The only point of
agreement among the various legends was that the purpose of the crypt was to
preserve valuable secrets for the benefit of future generations.
Today, the drama of the Royal Arch degree portrays the discovery
of the crypt and the value of the subsequent discoveries, adding more Masonic
light to the lives of the discoverers of the crypt.
The symbolic value of the discovery of the crypt, completing of
the Hiramic legend, could not be entirely overlooked by the Modern Grand Lodge
of England; the degree would not go away. Inasmuch as the Grand Lodge of
England had previously declared the Royal Arch was not an additional craft
degree, Royal Arch chapters were eventually formed within the lodges to
confer this degree. Therefore, the Grand Lodge did not have to treat it as a
separate degree. Although the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland would not
officially recognize the degree, several of their lodges conferred it without
Conversely, the Antient Grand Lodge permitted the use of the
Royal Arch degree within its subordinate lodges from the beginning of its
formation. The reasoning behind conferring the Royal Arch degree differed
among the lodges. Several lodges conferred it as an additional or 4th
degree. Other lodges utilized the Royal Arch as a second half of the Master
Mason's degree. Some lodges only conferred this degree on Past, or Installed
Masters after they had received both the Mark Degree, and the Installed Master
(Past Master) degrees. In the beginning, there was no uniformity for its
The surviving lodge minutes of the first half of the 18th
century rarely refer to the conferral of degrees. This may have been because
the degree work was considered to be secret work, or possibly, in the case of
the Royal Arch degree, because it was commonly conferred with no official
It is known that the Royal Arch degree had been conferred in the
1730's in England. However, the earliest surviving minutes which actually
record the unique conferral of the Royal Arch degree by name are from the
"Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons," in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1753.
In that time frame, the Fredericksburg Lodge (now Lodge No. 4)
was a "time immemorial" lodge, which was operating without a Charter, possibly
under a dispensation from Massachusetts.
According to one copy of the lodge minutes, the lodge was
opened, then formed a "Royall Arch Lodge," presided over by a visitor,
thereafter conferring the Royal Arch degree on three candidates. One of the
candidates was the regular lodge Master. The minutes record that the Royall
Arch Lodge was then "shutt," with an Entered Apprentices lodge then opened.
This is the same lodge which raised George Washington to the
degree of Master Mason on August 4th, 1753; later receiving a Charter from the
Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1758.
During the mid 18th century, the references to the Royal Arch
degree occur more often in England. However, there is little detail as to the
basis for the Royal Arch degree.
The minutes of a "Moderns" lodge in Bristol in 1758 make the
earliest known reference to conferral of the Royal Arch degree in an English
lodge, prior to the formal establishment of the Grand Chapter. This reference
verifies that some subordinate lodges of that jurisdiction were conferring and
working this degree, prior to the recognition of the degree by the Grand
ROYAL ARCH SYMBOLISM
The early degrees of the Royal Arch Chapter provide the
craftsman with additional light in Masonic education. The symbolism of the
Keystone, the Chisel and Mallet, the Arch, the Jewish Half Shekel of Silver,
the Ark of the Covenant, and the Gavel and Crown of Authority impart important
Arriving at the Most Sublime Degree of the Holy Royal Arch, the
initiate is taught that that because of man's disobedience to God's commands,
Solomon's Temple was left in ruins. He is taught that the plans and designs
of Symbolic Freemasonry in its affairs with the physical world have been
ruined by the violations of the Divine command. The symbolism of the Royal
Arch degree consequently teaches the necessity of strong spiritual commitment
as a requirement for the completion of an eternal spiritual building.
The most significant emblem of the Capitular Rite, however
mysterious, is the Triple Tau, contained within the triangle, within the
circle. Much has been written as to the symbolism of these three emblems.
However, clear values are yet to be discovered by the temple's builders.
This is the emblem is the symbol of the Royal Arch Mason, to be utilized
toward that end.
Various religious rites throughout history have utilized the
triangle, tau cross, and circle. In Capitular Masonry, the symbolism of the
single tau cross represents the righteous; the triple tau is said to protect
the Royal Arch Mason from the profane. The triangle symbolizes the sacred
name of Deity to the Elect (chosen). The Circle symbolizes the Masonic belief
To judge by the visual impressions of the earliest uses of the
symbol, it denotes a combined "T" and "H", from "Templum Hierosolyma," meaning
"The Temple of Jerusalem;" that place where something precious was/is held.
The Royal Arch's connection with Ancient Craft Masonry is
represented by the figures displayed on the four Royal Arch Banners. These
figures are, the Lion, an Ox, a Man, the Eagle, and the Cherubim. These
figures also appear in the heraldic arms of the Ancient Grand Lodge of
England, as well as the United Grand Lodge. The symbolism for these figures
is to be found in the Royal Arch, as opposed to the Symbolic degrees.
The four banners - blue, purple, red, and white - each represent
certain spiritual and moral values to the Royal Arch initiate. Masonic
teaching holds that these were the colors of the veils contained in the
Tabernacle which Moses was ordered by God to build in the wilderness, as
expressed in the twenty-sixth Chapter of Exodus.
The ceiling of the Tabernacle was Red; the emblematic color of
Capitular Masonry. The color red symbolizes the zeal and fervency which
should be found among Royal Arch Masons in their relationships with both God
and their fellow man. The aprons of the Chapter are correspondingly trimmed
with Red, symbolizing the Capitular Rite.
The Royal Arch degrees incorporate the additional emblems of the
Pick and Spade and the Crow. The figures on the Officers' jewels are the
Squares of the ancient Grand Masters, the Holy Vessels, the contents of the
Ark, as well as the Breastplate and Mitre of the High Priest. All these
emblems are portrayed so as to bring enlightenment to worthy craftsman.
THE FIRST GRAND CHAPTERS
Lord Blayney, the Grand Master of the Modern Grand Lodge of
England, authorized a Charter for the "The Excellent, Grand and Royal Chapter"
in 1766. The chapter was renamed the "Grand Lodge of Royal Arch Masons" in
1796. This chapter was again renamed the "Supreme Grand Chapter" in 1801.
Not surprisingly, the Chapter's first Grand Principal was also Lord Blayney.
In 1771, the Antients Grand Lodge of England also attempted to
form a Grand Chapter, claiming the desire to standardize the Royal Arch degree
within its lodges. The majority of the Antient Lodge Masons felt that a
separate authority was not necessary, preferring to operate under the existing
Grand Lodge framework. In 1778, the Grand Lodge at York, which officially
acknowledged the antiquity of the degree, attempted to establish an
independent "Grand Chapter of All England." Some historians view the efforts
of the Antient Grand Lodge as a form of competition with the ‘Moderns’ Grand
Ultimately, over the objections of the members, the Antients
Grand Chapter eventually developed the degree until, in 1817 (following the
merger of the Antients and ‘Moderns’ Grand Lodges - 1813), the Antient Grand
Lodge united with the ‘Modern’s’ Grand Chapter, forming "The Supreme Grand
Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England."
ROYAL ARCH MASONRY IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES
It obviously cannot be said that the Chapter Degrees came to the
American Colonies in the latter part of the 1700s, since these degrees were
not yet compiled into the Chapter system as is currently practiced in the U.S.
In the U.S., as in England, these degrees were originally
communicated or conferred under the authority of the symbolic lodges. Also,
consistent with the early English custom, the lodge changed the designation of
the body for the Royal Arch degree to that of a chapter, as opposed to a
lodge. The Mark Degree was conferred within a Mark Lodge, while the Knight
Templar degree was conferred within an Encampment.
In the early American system, the symbolic lodge would dispense
with labor, opening the appropriate organization for their purpose. Inasmuch
as these lodges did not have official authority to confer these additional
degrees, this action was typically omitted from the lodge minutes.
However, the lodges chartered by the Antients after 1751 were
authorized to confer five degrees. By tracing the few surviving records of
this practice, it is possible to verify the early practices, thereby
discovering the evolution of the Chapter organization in the U.S.
Several of these degrees are known to have been conferred by the
Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia, in 1753. This event was also the first
recorded conferral of the Royal Arch degree in America or Europe.
Royal Arch Lodge No. 3 of Philadelphia was chartered by the
Antient Grand Lodge of York in 1767. St. Andrews Lodge of Boston secured a
Royal Arch Charter in 1760, from Scotland. This lodge left documents
recording degree conferrals in 1769. It is also possible for these additional
degrees to have been conferred earlier by other lodges, however, there are no
surviving records to that effect.
EARLY FORMATION OF ROYAL ARCH CHAPTERS
AND GRAND CHAPTERS IN THE UNITED STATES
Following the American Revolution, the separate Royal Arch
Chapters began organizing, independently of the lodges. Several of the
independent Chapters claimed the title of Grand Chapters. It can only be
assumed that, as no Grand Chapters existed in the U. S., these chapters,
therefore, felt free to constitute a Grand Chapter, with the intent to charter
additional Chapters under their authority. Given the new American
nationalism, the sovereign authority of the English Provincial Grand Lodges
over the American lodges was dismissed.
The first three American Chapters to assume the prerogatives of
a Grand Chapter, upon effectively separating from Blue Lodge control, were two
Chapters in New York City and one in Middletown Connecticut.
The first discovered Grand Chapter record is a document dated
July 26, 1783. In that document, the "Old Royal Arch Chapter" in New York
City wrote the Grand Master of Masons of New York referring to themselves as
"The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of this city . . ." requesting the
Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers, who were also Royal Arch Masons,
to assume leadership over their affairs as a Grand Chapter, as well. It is
assumed that these individuals consented to their new roles. Historical data
indicates that this new "Grand Chapter" warranted five or six chapters in
Connecticut and in New York.
A group of Royal Arch Masons, also members of St. John's Lodge
No. 2, of Middletown, Connecticut, formed a "Grand Royal Arch Chapter" in
1783, operating for 13 years. However, there is no record of their having
chartered any additional chapters. This "Grand Chapter" was designated as
Washington Chapter No. 3 in 1796. Upon the organization of the Grand Chapter
of Connecticut in 1798, this chapter was re-designated as Chapter No. 6.
The Washington Chapter of New York City became the third "Grand
Chapter" (by implication) in the U.S. The history of this chapter's
constitution is unknown; it is only known that this chapter was operating in
1789. It is interesting that while this chapter did not refer to themselves a
Grand Chapter, they did issue warrants, chartering six chapters in Rhode
island and Connecticut between 1791 and 1796; all in existence today.
THE GENERAL GRAND CHAPTER IN THE USA
Thomas Webb, High Priest of the Temple Chapter of Albany, New
York, proposed the formation of a Royal Arch central authority in the form of
a 'Grand Convocation.'
Responding to Smith's persuasion, delegates from Newburyport
Chapter (Mass.), St. Andrew's Chapter (Mass.), and Temple Chapter (N.Y.)
assembled at Mason's Hall, Boston October 24, 1797. These delegates made the
arrangements for a Grand Convocation to be held in Hartford, Connecticut on
January 24, 1798.
An invitation was sent to the various chapters throughout the
Northeastern States, requesting them to send delegates to the Hartford
convocation. Subsequently, delegates from nine chapters, representing
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, met in Hartford on
January 24, 1798.
At that Grand Convocation, the "Grand Royal Arch Chapter for the
Northern States of America" was formed. The Convocation adopted a
constitution which declared sovereign jurisdiction over the states of New
York, Vermont, Massachusetts Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Under the newly formed constitution, the Grand Chapter was
assigned control of the Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and
the Royal Arch Degrees. The Grand Chapter thereafter standardized the titles
of the degrees.
The new constitution granted sovereign power to the (General)
Grand Chapter, directing each represented state to establish a "Deputy Grand
Chapter" under their subordinate jurisdiction. The constitution granted the
Grand Chapter authority over all territory which was not otherwise controlled
by a Deputy Grand Chapter.
In ensuing years, a number of important modifications were made
to the constitution -
1. The title of the Grand body was changed to "The General
Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons for the United States of America."
2. The Deputy Grand Chapters of each state were constituted as
3. Under the original constitution, the General Grand Chapter
were only to met in convocation every 7 years. The constitution was amended
in 1826 to provide for triennial convocations. The dias officers, while
continuing meeting septennially, were given the authority to issue warrants
for chapters in any territory which was not under the jurisdiction of a State
Grand Chapter, Alaska and Hawaii, for example.
The Grand Convocation of 1856 revised the wording of the
Constitution, such that the powers of the General Grand Chapter were
thereafter collectively derived from the state bodies. However, the State
Grand Chapters subsequently exercised sovereign jurisdiction within their
At the Triennial Convocation of 1859, it was specified that the
General Grand Chapter was to have no power by inference, which was not clearly
and specifically assigned to it by the Constitution.
As another change, it was specified that the General Grand
Chapter could still exercise sovereign authority over a number of subordinate
chapters throughout the world. It could also charter Grand Chapters when a
sufficient number of Chapters applied; subsequently relinquishing its
sovereignty in that jurisdiction to the new Grand Chapter.
The representative delegation at the Triennial Convocations is
made up of dias officers of the Grand Chapters, the Past Grand High Priests of
the Grand Chapters, the current and past elective officers of General Grand
Chapter, and the representatives of the various subordinate chapters.
At the Triennial Convocation, the officers of the General Grand
Chapter are elected for a three year term. The General Grand Royal Arch
Council executes the policies and programs which are set forth by the standing
committees and approved by the delegates.
The General Grand Royal Arch Council is composed of the five
elective officers of the General Grand Chapter. These are:
Most Excellent General Grand High Priest
Right Excellent General Grand King
Right Excellent General Grand Scribe
Right Excellent General Grand Treasurer
Right Excellent General Grand Secretary
These additional Officers are also appointed to serve for the
Excellent General Grand Captain of the Host
Excellent General Grand Principal Sojourner
Excellent General Grand Royal Arch Captain
Excellent General Grand Master of the Third Veil
Excellent General Grand Master of Second Veil
Excellent General Grand Master of First Veil
Excellent General Grand Sentinel
Excellent General Grand Custodian of Work
Excellent General Grand Chaplain
The Deputy General Grand High Priests are appointed for seven
York Rite Regions of the United States and Canada, as well as four
There are also Subordinate Chapters located in Japan, Venezuela,
Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Canal Zone, the Republic of Panama and
These chapters are also affiliated with the Sovereign Grand
Chapters, under the General Grand Chapter.
The General Grand Chapter also contains an Educational Bureau,
making books, pamphlets, and other literature available to the membership on a
WORLD-WIDE GRAND CHAPTERS
In the U.S., generally, each state is governed by its sovereign
Grand Chapter, collectively affiliated with the General Grand Chapter,
International. However, the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas are
not. Grand Chapters in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan- Canada; Austria,
Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Mexico, and the Philippines and Greece are
also affiliated with the General body.
There are also recognized, but unaffiliated Grand Chapters are
working in other parts of the world.
The world wide Grand Chapters meet in "Convocation," either
quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Their titles for their officers will
vary with the Grand Chapters of American Canadian, British, Irish, and
Scottish constitution. In the U.S., the typical titles of the Grand Chapter
Most Excellent Grand High Priest
Right Excellent Deputy Grand High Priest*
Right Excellent Grand King
Right Excellent Grand Scribe
Right Excellent Grand Treasurer
Right Excellent Grand Secretary
Right Excellent Grand Captain of the Host
Right Excellent Grand Principal Sojourner
Right Excellent Grand Royal Arch Captain
Right Excellent Grand Master of Third Veil
Right Excellent Grand Master of Second Veil
Right Excellent Grand Master of First Veil
Excellent Grand Chaplain
Excellent Grand Sentinel
*Omitted in a number of the Grand Chapters
In a few of the Grand Chapters, additional Officers such as the
Grand Master of Ceremonies and the Grand Marshal may also be appointed.
Between Grand Chapters, the honorary title of Right Excellent and Excellent
will vary, typically depending upon whether or not the officer is appointed
(Excellent) or elected (Right Excellent).
CAPITULAR TITLES IN FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS
The Chapter Officer titles correspond to their duties, according
to the Capitular Legends. There are several variations in the organizational
structures among the English Chapters, Ireland, Scotland, and those in the
United States. Except for Ireland, all those jurisdictions base their
ceremonies on the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, following the
Babylonian Captivity. According to the Bible, Zerubbabel, a descendent of
King David, was the Governor, Jeshua was the High Priest, while Haggai was the
Scribe. Accordingly, the Scottish and English jurisdictions title their
(Most) Excellent First (Grand) Principal - the Z (King)
(Most) Excellent Second (Grand) Principal - the H (Scribe)
(Most) Excellent Third (Grand) Principal - the J (High Priest)
Scribe E (usually the Secretary)
In Ireland, the Capitular Rite utilizes the renovation of the
Temple of Solomon as the basis for their ceremonies. In the Irish ceremonies,
the principal officers are Josiah (Excellent King), Hilkiah (High Priest), and
Shaphan (Scribe). These officers bear the titles and rank in that order.
AMERICAN ROYAL ARCH CHAPTERS
Chapters locally regulate Royal Arch Masonry, in a manner nearly
identical to the Blue Lodges. The principal object of the Chapters is to
exalt Royal Arch Masons in the Chapters throughout the world. At the time of
this writing, approximately 2,700 Chapters exist within the United States
alone. The Royal Arch Chapters meet in a "convocation." The Capitular Rite
utilizes the title of "companion" to address each member, as opposed to
"brother." The titles and number of the Chapter officers may vary among the
The following titles are typically those used. The rank of
these officers in Lodges of Mark Masters, Past Masters, and Most Excellent
Masters are as follows:
Excellent High Priest
Captain of the Host
Royal Arch Captain
Master of the 3rd Veil
Master of the 2nd Veil
Master of the 1st Veil
Right Worshipful Master
The Principal Sojourner normally serves the position of the
Chaplain. Often, a number of jurisdictions provide a Marshal, Master of
Ceremonies, Chaplain and Stewards.
Depending upon the jurisdiction, the High Priest of the Chapter
may be addressed as Most Excellent Grand High Priest during open Chapter.
COUNCIL OF ROYAL & SELECT MASTERS
The Cryptic Rite is composed of the Council of Royal and Select
Masters, this Rite, accounts for what would otherwise be a significant vacuum
in the total history of the York Rite. In the U.S., the Cryptic Rite degrees
controlled by the Grand Councils are, The Royal Master, The Select Master, and
The Super Excellent Master. The first two degrees are referred to as the
Degrees of Preservation.
While the system of Lodges, Chapters, and Commanderies predate
the 1800s, Councils, per se, were not formed until the early 19th century in
the United States. The degrees now common to the Cryptic Rite, were
previously conferred in Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters prior to the
organization of the Cryptic Rite Councils. Currently, the Royal and Select
degrees are conferred in Royal Arch Chapters of Virginia and West Virginia,
while the Super Excellent degree is not conferred in those states except when
conferred by the authority of the Grand Councils of neighboring jurisdictions,
only when approved by the affected Grand Chapter.
DEGREE OF ROYAL MASTER
The Degree of the Royal Master is symbolic of a Fellowcraft
searching for additional Masonic light. The efforts of the Fellowcraft are
eventually rewarded, subsequently he is admitted into a select fellowship
which has been entrusted with the Cryptic secrets, not yet available to the
majority of the craft. Inasmuch as the Divine truth can only be fully
imparted to those who have attained an advanced state of spiritual awareness,
the Fellowcraft, who is now a Royal Master, must persevere in his quest until
the Temple is completed.
DEGREE OF SELECT MASTER
This degree teaches that when the Temple of Solomon was
completed, a number of the craft secrets had been lost. The craftsmen were
taught that future generations could discover the secrets if they applied
themselves with great zeal. Accordingly, future generations did apply
themselves and were able to discover these secrets. Consequently, the degree
of the Select Masters teaches how they had been preserved.
The Select Master's degree now completes the craftsman's
education in regard to the hidden mysteries of Ancient Craft Masonry. This
degree is the Omega (beginning) of the Symbolic Rite. While the candidate has
now received the additional knowledge, the candidate has also been presented
with additional symbolism requiring his future application, as an individual,
to perfect his spiritual building.
DEGREE OF SUPER EXCELLENT
The third and last degree in the Cryptic Rite is The Super
Excellent Masters degree. Presently, the origin of this degree is not known,
as it was not listed as a side degree in European Masonry, according to a
catalog of over 700 known degrees, published in the 19th century.
The earliest recorded conferral of this degree was in 1817, when
it is recorded that the Columbian Council of Royal Masters in New York City
opened a Lodge of Super-Excellent Masters. Subsequently, a number of Councils
are known to have conferred this degree, with other Councils strongly
objecting to its being given a place in the Cryptic system.
Late in the 19th century, an interim solution was effected by
making this degree an "optional" or "side" degree of the Cryptic Rite. In
1924, at the triennial Assembly of the General Grand Council, the Super
Excellent Masters degree was formally adopted as a permanent feature of the
Cryptic Rite. Thereafter, the degree was to be conferred upon, or
communicated to, all candidates. Today, most Grand Councils confer this
degree as an option.
The drama of the Super Excellent degree is one of the most
impressive and dramatic in all Freemasonry. It is particularly significant
considering that it is the only degree based directly upon the destruction of
Solomon's Temple. Properly done, this degree requires a large, well
rehearsed cast. Select Masters are well advised to witness this degree, if
the opportunity should present itself.
The Super Excellent degree is not a formal Cryptic degree.
However this degree is appropriately placed in the York Rite system, inasmuch
as this degree prepares the candidate historically for the Order of the Red
Cross, immediately following in the Orders of the Commandery.
The spiritual and moral lessons are conveyed in the Super
Excellent Masters degree in a clear and forcible manner, teaching the
1. Walk in Faith.
2. Promote Friendship.
3. Practice Fidelity.
The allegorical foundation for Cryptic symbolism emanates from
the early Biblical period, in the days of Enoch. In early Masonic lore, the
Enochian legend appears several centuries prior to the Cryptic degrees,
providing an interesting historical background for the conferral of these
The Royal and Select Masters degrees are associated with the
activities concurrent with the building of the Temple of Solomon. Solomon's
Temple was constructed on Mount Moriah, the legendary site where the Patriarch
Enoch (great-grandfather of Noah) is recorded to have excavated nine vaults,
one atop of the other. These vaults were repositories for the preservation of
According to the legend, in the ninth and lowest vault, Enoch
placed a white cubical stone, the Stone of Foundation, upon which was placed a
triangular plate of gold. Upon this plate was inscribed the Tetragrammaton,
or the Ineffable (four-part) name of Deity. Enoch, being informed by God that
the world would be destroyed first by water then by fire, erected two Pillars
on Mt. Moriah. One of the pillars was made of stone to resist the water, the
other of brick to resist the fire. Upon these Pillars, Enoch inscribed all of
the arts and sciences known to man, ensuring that this knowledge would survive
the impending destruction. Enoch also inscribed a message indicating that a
nearby crypt contained additional valuable information.
While accounts of the legend diverge from this point, simplicity
requires following the version leading to the Cryptic Rite.
According to the accepted version, when the workmen were
clearing the first temple site on Mt. Moriah, they came upon Enoch's
subterranean vault. When King Solomon was advised of the discovery, he
ordered a special vault constructed beneath his palace, in which he deposited
the Stone of Foundation with the gold triangular plate.
The event of the construction of the Temple of Solomon yields
the beginning of the Cryptic Rite ceremonies. These ceremonies embody Enoch's
symbolism of the Nine Arches, the Stone of Foundation (Altar), the Triangular
Plate, as well as other details.
The spiritual development of the Cryptic Mason is founded in the
mysteries of the Secret Vault. Although the Cryptic Rite ceremonies are
conducted by secular (non-religious) leaders, the activities of these leaders
can be described as being primarily a priestly function. The Illustrious
Master of a Cryptic Council is representative of both a King and a Priest.
The Illustrious Master presides over a Select Priesthood composed of
Guardians of the Secret Vault. Purple is the ritualistic color of the
Council, being emblematic of the royal attributes inherent to that rank, as
well as the perfection attained by the Select Master.
The symbols developed within the Royal and Select Master's
Degrees allude to God's Presence among the brethren, as well as man's
responsibility to worship Him, both in truth and in spirit. The Council
symbol, the Broken Triangle with Sword and Trowel, are emblematic of both the
inspiration for the Mason's future conduct, as well as being a memorial. To
the initiate, the nine arches, the ark, the altar and the holy vessels
represent profound truths, as do the characters portrayed in the degrees.
THE HISTORY OF THE CRYPTIC
While the Cryptic Rite did originate in the United States, the
degrees of the Royal and Select Master originated in France, coming to the
U.S. from the West Indies. These originated as side degrees of the Rite of
Perfection in the 18th century.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the Cryptic Rite, it
is also necessary to understand some significant degree of detail of the
Scottish Rite. Historians generally bypass the origins of the Cryptic Rite,
devoting more attention to contradicting previous writers, as opposed to
observing known facts. Many statements regarding this part of Masonic history
are misleading or incorrect. The information presented in this section is the
best summation of a number of accounts, many of which are typically
unavailable to the average Masonic student. This section is dedicated to a
construction of a coherent and factual account of the origin of the cryptic
degrees, as well as the establishment of the cryptic councils in the United
According to Masonic history, on August 27, 1761, Stephen Morin,
was made Inspector General for the New World by the Grand Consistory of
Princes of the Royal Secret in Paris.
Remember that Stephen Morin came to the West Indies in 1762,
there during the ensuing years, conferring the degrees of the Rite of
Perfection (now the Scottish Rite) on a number of candidates. Those initiates
formed a Consistory of the Princes of the Royal Secret, with an existing
record of a meeting in Kingston, Jamaica in January of 1769. Stephan Morin is
recorded as being present at that meeting.
During that same period, Morin appointed Henry A. Francken as a
Deputy Grand Inspector-General, empowering him to propagate the rite. The
Rite of Perfection then consisted of only twenty-five basic degrees. Adding
the "side degrees," the total reached fifty-three. Among the side degrees
were the "Select Mason of Twenty-Seven" (later named "Select Master"), and the
degree of the "Royal Master." At that time, these degrees had no connection
with each other.
There is no complete existing list of Deputy Inspector-Generals.
However, from what we otherwise know, Francken appointed Moses Michael Hayes
of Boston, Massachusetts as the Deputy Inspector-General for North America.
In 1767, Francken opened a Lodge of Perfection at Albany, N.Y, while Hayes,
in 1788, organized a Council of Princes of Jerusalem at Charleston, S.C.
Hayes additionally appointed Joseph M. Myers as the Inspector General for
Maryland. A Lodge of Perfection was organized in Baltimore in 1790.
The Lodges of Perfection focused on the promulgation of the
twenty-five degrees of the Rite of Perfection. The detached or "side" degrees
were infrequently conferred by individuals who had authoritative knowledge of
Existing records reveal that Abraham Jacobs received the Rite of
Perfection in Charleston S.C., in addition to the side degrees of the Rite in
Jamaica prior to 1790. These facts are indicated by an existing certificate
which also mentions the "Select Mason of Twenty-Seven." Jacobs subsequently
conferred these degrees on a number of candidates in New York City in 1804.
Among these recipients was Thomas Lownds.
In New York City in 1807, Joseph Cerneau attempted to open a
Consistory of the 32nd Degree, while lacking regular authority. During the
resulting dispute, Thomas Lownds, among others, extracted the degree of Royal
Master from the side degrees, forming the "Columbian Grand Council of Royal
Master Masons" on September 2, 1810. From this action, Thomas Lownds is
acknowledged as the founder of the first Cryptic Council in the world. On
December 8, 1821, the Columbian Council assimilated a Council of Select
Masters. In 1823 they declared themselves as "The Grand Council of Royal and
Select Masters for the State of New York," issuing warrants for the formation
of new councils until 1827.
One Philip P. Eckel of Baltimore, Maryland, having received the
Select Masters degree in the local Lodge of Perfection, conferred that degree
upon Jeremy L. Cross, the famous Masonic lecturer who was visiting Baltimore
in 1816. Cross then traveled throughout the United States, conferring the
Select Masters degree upon Royal Arch Masons. He also issued warrants,
apparently without authority, for the formation of Councils of Select Masters.
Ultimately, his authority was questioned. Cross then produced a document,
which he purported to have come from Eckel, dated May 27, 1817. It is
generally believed that this document was either backdated or forged. Given
the mechanics of the situation, it would appear that Eckel had assumed
personal control of the Select Masters degree. Eckel named himself the
"Thrice Illustrious and Grand Puissant in the Grand Council of Select Masons
held at Baltimore."
With an understanding of the origin of the Councils of Royal
Masters, and Councils of Select Masters, it should be remembered that the two
degrees were only being occasionally conferred as side degrees of the Rite of
Perfection. By 1815, the Councils of Royal Masters were also being formed
without warrants. Two of these Councils received the Select Master degree
from Jeremy Cross, incorporating this degree into their organization, one
Council in New Hampshire in 1816, and another Council in Boston in 1817.
During the course of approximately one year (1817) Cross warranted 33
Councils of Select Masters, located in 9 states.
In New York, in 1818, Thomas Lownds conferred upon Jeremy Cross
the Royal Master degree. Within one year Cross put the Royal and Select
degrees together, thereafter warranting "Councils of Royal and Select
Masters." Accordingly, Jeremy Cross is acknowledged as being the founder of
If ever they actually existed, no rituals from the early years
survived. It is unknown whether the content of the Royal and Select degrees
today resembles those of the early period. From a historical perspective, it
can only be said that these degree titles can be accurately traced to roots in
the Rite of Perfection of France, prior to 1762.
The immediate adoption of these degrees by the Symbolic and
Capitular Masons in America bears testimony as to their value as complementary
lessons of Ancient Craft Masonry. These degrees further attest to the
importance of the degrees in the modern American Rite.
FORMATION OF COUNCILS
By early 1818, many Councils of Royal and Select Masters had
been organized throughout the U.S. However, many associated problems followed
these formations throughout the middle of the 1800s.
In 1801, in Charleston. S.C., the Supreme Council of the
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite had been formed out of the Lodges of
Perfection. The Scottish Rite considered the degrees of Royal and Select
Master as being "side degrees." To complicate matters, the Scottish Rite began
forming their own identical bodies after the time that Cross's Councils of
Royal and Select Masters had gained general Masonic approval. Strangely, the
Scottish Rite Councils were not directly connected to the Scottish Rite, but
were separately formed so as to be independent, following their demonstrated
proficiency. To complicate matters still further, individual members began
communicating these degrees, answering to no higher authority.
In 1828, the alleged Morgan kidnap/murder affair interrupted the
formation of Councils in the United States. The resulting uproar and
anti-Masonic feeling from the Morgan affair was to last until nearly 1845.
The ensuing events caused many Masonic organizations to go "underground"
during that period; many never recovered. The Morgan affair primarily
affected the Northern Councils, while the American Civil War additionally
caused the dissolution of many Southern Councils and Grand Councils. In
jurisdictions where the Grand Royal Arch Chapters were to survive, they, in
many jurisdictions, took over the control of the associated Council degrees
until the particular Grand Councils could reorganize.
GRAND COUNCIL FORMATION
While plagued with a variety of problems, Councils of Royal and
Select Masters slowly spread throughout the U.S. In time, these Councils
united into Grand Councils. During the middle of the 1800s, the Councils
formed by both Jeremy Cross and those formed by the Scottish Rite joined
together, peacefully forming Grand Councils.
In the early part of the 19th century, the Cryptic degrees were
conferred by several Royal Arch Chapters. Ultimately, the General Grand
Chapter voted to abandon any control or rights over these degrees in 1853. In
1870, the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree (Southern Jurisdiction)
relinquished all claims to the "Cryptic Degrees."
FORMATION OF THE
GENERAL INTERNATIONAL GRAND COUNCIL
Following years of preliminary meetings, in 1877, a national
convention of the Grand Councils of the Royal and Select Masters was held in
Buffalo, N.Y. The convention delegates discussed the condition of the Rite,
focusing upon the future possibilities for the advancement of the Rite. No
specific unification proposals were resolved, however, the Councils agreed to
keep the issue open.
Another convention was held at Detroit in 1880, represented by
nineteen Grand Councils. This convention resulted in the establishment of the
General Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of the United States which
began its work in 1881.
The primary responsibility of the General Grand Council is to
guard the interests of Cryptic Masonry on a world-wide basis. It additionally
coordinates the Grand Councils which elect to affiliate with it, utilizing its
services, do not sacrifice any of their individual sovereignty. Further, the
General body charters and governs the Subordinate Councils in any areas which
lack the jurisdiction of Grand Councils.
In the states, protectorates, territories or districts where
there is no Grand Council, the General Grand Council can authorize and issue a
Charter for the establishment of a Grand Council. However, such a charter
must first be requested by three regularly constituted Councils. Following
the issue of the charter, the newly formed Grand Council is both supreme in
its own territory and independent, with the option of affiliating with the
General Grand Body; the affiliation is not mandatory.
It is worthy to note that in the United States, all of the Grand
Councils are not affiliated with the General Grand Council. As of 1990, only
45 Grand Councils in the U.S., Canada, Germany and the Philippines were
members of the General Grand Council. The General Grand Council governs 13
Subordinate Councils in Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Japan, Guatemala and the Canal
The officers of the General Grand Council,
R. & S. M. International bear the titles of:
Most Puissant General Grand Master
Right Puissant Deputy General Grand Master
Right Puissant General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work
Right Puissant General Grand Treasurer
Right Puissant General Grand Recorder
Right Puissant Regional Deputy General Grand Masters
Right Puissant General Grand Chaplain
Right Puissant General Grand Marshal
Right Puissant General Grand Captain of the Guard
Right Puissant General Grand Conductor of the Council
Right Puissant General Grand Steward
Within the (seven) York Rite regions of the United States, seven
Regional Deputy General Grand Masters are appointed to represent the M∴ P∴
General Grand Master.
The General Grand Master also appoints special representatives
abroad, who represent him in the states, territories, or countries which have
Councils subordinate to the General Grand Council.
GRAND COUNCILS OF ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS
The Grand Councils are both supreme and sovereign within their
own jurisdiction. The ritual and constitutions of these Grand Councils are
developed and determined by their unique membership. While many of the Grand
Councils have typically adopted the ritual of the General Grand Council, they
still have the option to develop and practice their own ceremonies.
The Grand Councils meet in "Assembly," either annually, or as
otherwise specified in their particular regulations. The officers of a Grand
Council generally use the following titles:
Most Illustrious Grand Master
Right Illustrious Deputy Grand Master
Right Illustrious Grand Principal Conductor of the Work
Right Illustrious Grand Treasurer
Right Illustrious Grand Recorder
If elected or appointed, the following officers would carry the
title of Right Illustrious if elected; Illustrious if appointed:
Illustrious Grand Chaplain
Illustrious Grand Marshal
Illustrious Grand Captain of the Guard
Illustrious Grand Conductor of the Council
Illustrious Grand Steward
Illustrious Grand Sentinel
In the above list, the officers who would be considered as being
in a progressive lineage can vary between the different Grand Councils.
Titles other than those in the foregoing list are sometimes used in a few of
the Grand Councils. Examples would be, Thrice Illustrious Grand Master, Most
Puissant Grand Master, etc. These variations can continue down through the
roster. A variety of charts exist which list the titles which are used in the
various jurisdictions. Due to typical changes, these charts may be incorrect.
Throughout the world, the Cryptic Grand Councils are typically
organized much more uniformly than in similar organizations in the other
rites. In contrast to the Symbolic, Capitular and Chivalric rites which
evolved over a period of centuries, often taking different paths within
several jurisdictions, the Cryptic Rite of Jeremy Cross was assembled and
disseminated as a fully developed organization. It is therefore interesting
to note that from its beginning in 1819, in the United States, the
modifications to the Cryptic Rite have been relatively minor as compared to
the other rites in other sovereign jurisdictions.
COUNCIL OF ROYAL AND SELECT
In the same fashion as Chapters, Councils locally regulate in a
manner similar identical to the Blue Lodges. The Councils' purpose is to
greet the Select Masters. When a Council meets, it is referred to as an
"Assembly." The Cryptic Rite members are also referred to as "Companions."
In the different jurisdictions, the titles below are typically
employed in a majority of the Councils.
Principal Conductor of the Work
Captain of the Guard
Conductor of the Council
Depending on the jurisdiction, the title of "Thrice Illustrious
Master" is often applied to the presiding officer.
In 1813, when the Moderns and Antients Grand Lodges of England
signed the Act of Union, it was stipulated that, "this article is not intended
to prevent any lodge or chapter from holding a meeting in any of the degrees
of the Orders of Chivalry, according to the constitution of said orders." In
addition to removing the Orders of Chivalry from Craft Masonry, it also gave
evidence to the relationship which previously existed between the Christian
Orders and the more Ancient Craft degrees, prior to the Act of Union.
Consistent with the history of the original Order, the
Commandery of Knights Templar is based upon the connection with the Christian
religion and the practice of the Christian virtues. The dedication of this
Order to Christianity should be viewed as the continuation of history or
tradition, as opposed to a form of exclusivity. As in all of Freemasonry,
there is no discrimination in regard to religion. It should be noted that
this is the first occurrence of Christianity in Masonry, constituting a minor
In the United States, a Commandery of Knights Templar confers
the three Orders of Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and
the Order of the Temple. The Orders of the Temple and Malta are based in the
traditions of the Chivalric Orders of Knighthood from the middle ages; the
Rite is consequently known by the term of "Chivalric Masonry."
The Orders of Malta and the Temple are exclusively founded upon
ethical, moral, and spiritual values required for a well governed life.
Originally, these Orders were treated as "degrees." Today, these
are conferred as "Orders." However, they are regarded as degrees in Chivalric
Masonry, often interchangeably referred to as degrees.
THE ILLUSTRIOUS ORDER OF THE RED CROSS
In the Commandery, the first Order to be conferred is the
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. This Order contains a theme with
quasi-biblical roots. The theme of this Order is based upon an account in the
book of II Esdras in the Apocrapha as well as the writings of Josephus. This
degree, or Order, teaches reliance upon the inherent values of reverence for
Deity, Truth, Justice, and Liberty, while emphasizing the importance of Truth.
The story upon which this degree is based comes from Hebrew
history. Accordingly, this degree would chronologically follow that of the
Super Excellent Master's Degree, properly following in that sequence in the
York Rite system. This degree is not Christian based. This degree serves as
a connection between the teachings of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
A variety of Red Cross degrees are to be discovered in the
various Masonic systems. Some of these degrees have no relation with one
another, in regard to historical periods, content of the degree, or moral
Currently, the contents of the Red Cross degree in the U.S. are
based in the degrees conferred by the Irish Templars, Scottish Royal Arch
Masons, and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, under other names.
Although the ingredients of the degree are essentially the same, the Templar
Red Cross degree has been changed to the extent that it is almost unique.
This degree is not used in the British Templar system, however, it is
familiar to many of the British members as the Red Cross of Babylon.
The Red Cross Order is first known to have been conferred during
the American Colonial period in a "Council of Red Cross Knights," specifically
formed for that purpose. As used, the term "knight" does not refer to the
chivalric knighthood in the warrior sense; it refers to the old Latin usage of
"eques" meaning of equestrian rank.
Credit is once again given to Thomas Smith Webb for initiating
this degree in the American Templar system, as well as instituting its
conferral by Encampments of Knights Templar, toward the end of the 1700s. In
the 1800s, it was proposed to drop the Red Cross degree from the American
system, attempting to achieve compatibility with the British Templary. The
British system only recognized the Order of Knight Templar, with the Knight of
Malta as an option.
In the American system, a Commandery of Knights Templar will
open a "Council of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross," thereafter making
the candidates "Companions" of that Order.
ORDER OF MALTA
The ritual of the Order of Malta, when formally conferred, is
one of the most striking and impressive of the degrees in the York Rite; it is
a purely Christian ritual.
The Order is also a paradox, as the Templars are seemingly the
focus of the York Rite, yet historically, they were essentially rivals of the
Knights of Malta and their lineage.
The known history of this degree indicates its origin from 18th
century Scotland. Originally, the ritual associated with this degree
consisted primarily of a series of questions and answers, in addition to means
of recognition. This degree entered the American Colonies very quietly and
informally in the late 1700s. It was most typically communicated only to
As of 1850, the Order of Malta contained no standardized ritual,
as such. For lack of such a standardized ritual, the American Commanderies
could only confer the degree as best as the degree was known. Eventually, the
degree was revised and expanded. In Boston, in 1850, at the Triennial
Conclave of the Grand Encampment, an accepted conferral form was exemplified.
Even at this date, however, no standard rituals had been
formally authorized nor printed. It was only agreed that the Order of Malta
was to be conferred following the Order of the Temple. The degree was
regarded as an appendant order, as opposed to being a 'higher' degree.
Over the next thirty years, many attempts were made to
standardize the various Templar degrees. It took until 1883 for the ritual
for the Order of Malta to be finalized by the Grand Body, and subsequently
printed. Ironically, the final approved ritual was little changed from the
same ritual as had been previously used in Massachusetts and is nearly
identical to the Order as conferred in modern Britain.
As a matter of procedure, the Commandery of Knights Templar
first opens a "Priory of Knights of Malta" for the conferral of this Order.
The ritual work includes a pass degree called the "Knight of St. Paul, or
the "Mediterranean Pass." Conforming to the history of the original Knights of
Malta, this degree first creates the candidate as a Knight Hospitaler of St.
John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.
THE ORDER OF THE TEMPLE
The third Order conferred by a Commandery of Knights Templar is
"The Order of the Temple." This degree is the most inspiring and impressive
degree in any Masonic system. The spiritual and moral lessons communicated in
this work leave a deep and lasting impression upon the candidate.
The Order of the Temple bases its spiritual and moral lessons
upon the teachings of medieval chivalry, more particularly, those of the
Knights of the Temple. Although no direct connection with the original
Knights Templar can be established, the ritual for this Order was developed in
England and Scotland in the 1700s; the degree was introduced into the American
colonies approximately in 1750.
In America, the degree was first conferred within the symbolic
lodges. In England or America, the first "recorded" conferral of this degree
was in St. Andrews Chapter (under St. Andrews Lodge) in Boston on August
28, 1769. It is believed that the members of several British regiments, with
military lodges, who were in Boston at that time provided the ritual.
As popularity of the Knight Templar degree grew, Encampments
were organized exclusively to confer the degree. By the end of the 18th
century, the Knight Templar degree was loosely incorporated into the Masonic
work of many of the American colonies. In 1816, the General Grand Encampment
of Knights Templar was officially organized.
However, the Grand Encampment did not authorize the printing of
a ritual for the Order of the Temple until 1883. Until that printing, there
existed a high degree of ritual diversity practiced in many American
In the American and British rituals, the Order of Malta is quite
similar. However, the Order of the Temple is quite different between these
systems. While the lessons are identical, the means of the degree conferral
The Cross is the obvious emblem of Christianity, thus,
appropriately the dominate symbol of Christian Masonry. Christian Masonry
utilizes several different forms of the cross to teach a variety of lessons.
These crosses are displayed both on the Knight Templar uniform as well as on
the banners of the Order.
The Greek Cross, colored in red tincture, is displayed with four
equal length arms at ninety-degree angles. This form is one of the oldest
forms of the cross to appear in history. Many ancient religions, including
the Hebrews revered this form of the cross as a symbol of the Almighty or
everlasting life. The symbolic attributes of the Greek cross are taught in
the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.
The Maltese Cross is formed with white spreading arms, with a
deep notch in each arm. This cross is exclusively associated with the Knights
of St. John, or Knights of Malta. The eight points formed by the geometry of
the arms are emblematic of the Beatitudes ("Blessed are the ....") and the
languages into which the Order was originally divided.
The Latin (or Passion) Cross is considered to be the shape of
the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. This Cross, portrayed with the
Crown (Crown of Victory) form the emblem of the Order. Its symbolism is
explained in the ceremonies of the Order of the Temple. This cross is the
insignia of a Knight Templar. When displayed with rays, it is the insignia of
either a Commander or Past Commander. Properly, whenever a member signs his
name as a Templar, a member should prefix his signature with the Latin cross.
The Cross Patee is formed with spreading arms, closed at the
ends. To American Templars, it is known as the Templar Cross. This cross
represents the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the Earth. It was
the symbol of the original Knights Templar. Traditionally, the cross arms
should spread with a curve, as worn by English Templars. In the United States
it is typically depicted in the form of four equilateral triangles meeting at
a single point in the center. The officers of a Grand Commandery wear a
scarlet Templar cross. A Templar Cross in purple tincture denotes a Past
The Patriarchal Cross is an upright pale, crossed by two bars.
This cross displayed in purple is the insignia of the officers of the Grand
Encampment. Although there are no references to this particular cross in the
ritual, it is regarded as being representative of Archepiscopal rank in the
Church for many ages; therefore it is symbolic of high rank in the Order. In
Templar correspondence, this cross is traditionally prefixed to the signature
of either a Preceptor (Commander) or Past Preceptor.
The Purple Cross of Salem is a three-barred cross. This cross
is another ecclesiastic cross, similar in form to a Papal Cross, signifying
the ultimate rank of the wearer. This cross is worn as the insignia of the
Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment and Past Grand Masters.
Other symbols with their individual significance are depicted on
the associated banners, including the Baldric, the Sword, the Spur, and the
Jewels of rank of the Officers'.
The color of Templary is white, symbolizing purity as did the
vestments of the ancient Templars.
The Altar is located in the Prelates Apartment, adjoining the
asylum, as opposed to being within the Templar asylum. The Bible is displayed
on a small pedestal in front of the Prelates station in the asylum. The Bible
is never closed, symbolizing continual light being shed along with Divine
guidance to all Templars.
Appropriately, the American Flag is located in the East.
THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR UNIFORM
A uniform with a sword is worn by the Knights Templar.
Historically, each state Grand Commandery established the specifications for
its uniform. Each state also establishes whether or not the member shall
possess a uniform. Each commandery officer in all jurisdictions is required
to have the proper uniform and regalia. There are, however, events which do
not require a uniform. Therefore, the lack of a uniform should does not
totally preclude a member from taking an active part in Masonic Templar
The public appearances of the Knights Templar dictated a more
‘modern’ uniform, versus the medieval ‘cavalry’ uniform. Currently, the
typical uniform of an American Templar is a double-breasted black naval
uniform, with the traditional ostrich-feather plumed chapeau.
The chapeau is reminiscent of a 1700s British Commodore's
uniform. Many of the Grand Commanderies, as well as the Grand Encampment
continue to designate a long coat with a close standing collar as the Templar
The insignia of rank and the jewels of office are specified by
the Grand Encampment. The Jewels of office are worn as medals; in the higher
echelons of Templary, they are suspended from appropriately colored neck
In the interest of both convenience, and expense, some
Commanderies have gone to a simple black cape and a highly simplified hat.
As costs become more important, the swords of the Commanderies
may or may not be standardized with respect to shape. The Grand Commanderies
wear gold swords.
Rank is indicated by the type of cross on the uniform; there are
Member Sir Knights wear the red Passion Cross, with or without
Commanders and Past Commanders wear the Passion Cross, trimmed
with gold. (with or without rays).
Grand Commandery officers wear the red Templar Cross, trimmed
Past Grand Commanders wear the purple Templar Cross trimmed with
Grand Encampment officers and Department Commanders wear the
purple Patriarchal Cross, trimmed with gold.
The Grand Master of the Grand Encampment wears the purple Cross
of Salem, trimmed with gold. The dias officers of a commandery, all officers
and members of a Grand Commandery and the Grand Encampment additionally wear
appropriately colored shoulder straps , i.e. Commandery-green, Grand
Commandery-red, and Grand Encampment-purple.
The Grand Encampment has also specified the proper manner in
which the jewels and orders will be worn on the uniform. The jewels are worn
on the left breast, with the jewels of rank first, to the wearer's right.
Meritorious and unit awards are next. Last, nearest the left arm, is worn
the Order of Malta.
A REVIEW OF THE ORIGINS OF THE CHIVALRIC ORDERS
Although no direct historical connection can be made with the
original Templars or the Knights of St. John, the Masonic rituals of today
are based on the known activities, history, moral and spiritual practices of
the original orders, according to the known history -
Since 637 A.D., Palestine had been under Arab control. The
Mohammedans considered Jesus the second prophet after Mohammed, therefore
permitted Christian pilgrims free access to the holy shrines. Solomon’s
Temple was a pile of ruins, following the Roman destruction.
Hospitals had been established by the Christian residents for
the needs of the pilgrims. One of these hospitals was established in
Jerusalem in 1046 by the merchants of Amalfi, Italy. This hospital was named
the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. This hospital was staffed by brothers
having no initial affiliation with a religious order.
Then, in 1076 A.D., the Ottoman Turks overran the Holy Land,
persecuting the Christians and defiling the Christian shrines. One of the
Christian pilgrims, known as "Peter the Hermit," returned to Europe preaching
that a crusade was needed to rescue the Holy Land from the Turks.
In 1095 A.D, Pope Urban II called for a Church council at
Clermont, France to organize such a "Holy War . . . " Peter the Hermit
could not wait. As the princes of Europe were assembling a crusading army,
Peter led an unruly mob on to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the members of this
"Peoples Crusade" were annihilated at Nicaea by the Turks.
In 1096, the "first" Crusade finally set out for Palestine. The
organized crusaders were led by Count Raymond of Toulouse, Robert of Normandy,
Godfrey of Boullion, his brother Baldwin of Flanders, Count Bohemond, Tancred,
Stephen of Blois, and Hugh de Vermandois brother of the King of France.
The crusaders formed into various armies, taking different
routes. They assembled at Constantinople (now Istanbul) early in 1097. On
the way to Jerusalem, the armies marched on Nicaea which surrendered rather
than be destroyed. The crusaders next marched on Antioch in 1097, easily
capturing the city by bribing a tower guard on.
The Christian army, consisting of approximately 20,000 men,
arrived before the gates of Jerusalem on June 7, 1099.
After offering prayers of thanksgiving and supplication, the
army marched around the walls of Jerusalem in their bare feet, then attacked
the city. Jerusalem was captured on July 15, 1099, completing the First
Godfrey de Bouillon was selected as the first King of Jerusalem;
however, he refused the honor, accepting only the title of "Baron and Defender
of the Holy Sepulcher." He declined to wear a gold crown, observing that
Christ's only crown was made of thorns.
The captured territory was given to the nobles of the crusade,
who constructed castles for the defense of the country. Godfrey de Bouillon
died within a year; succeeded by his brother Baldwin.
Following the capture of Jerusalem, Europeans made personal
pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Unfortunately, along their way, they were often
taken as prey, often being attacked by bands of thieves who inhabited
THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - HISTORY AND LEGEND
According to the legend, in 1118, nine Christian Knights of the
first crusade formed a fighting unit, proposing to patrol the roads of
Palestine, escorting the pilgrims to Jerusalem. They named themselves, "The
Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ." Their first leader was Hugh de Payens, a
Baldwin II, was now the King of Jerusalem. He assigned the new
organization quarters in the stables of the former site of King Solomon's
Temple, near what was by then the Moslem "Dome of the Rock." It should be
mentioned that these stables were a huge area under the site with carved
columns to support the roof.
The knights soon thereafter expanded their title to "The Poor
Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon." This title was quickly
shortened to the "Knights of the Temple," or "Knights Templar." The Knights
Templar justified their existence by taking a perpetual vow of loyalty to the
Order before the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Strangely, history records that the Knights Templar performed no
particular mission for nine years. Many researchers, backed with
archaeological evidence, argue that the knights were probably doing homework
and tunneling under the remains of King Solomon's temple looking for a
particular treasure, presumably, the Arc of the Covenant; among other
Finally, in 1128 A.D., King Baldwin sent the Templar leader,
Hugh de Payens and a companion, as emissaries of King Baldwin to the Church
Council of Troyes. During that journey they solicited the support and
assistance of Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux (St. Bernard) for Papal sanction
for their order. Bernard was a highly respected clergyman with more than
appropriate influence. Bernard’s support was sufficient to amount to a
guarantee of success; such was his influence.
With Bernard's influence, their request was granted. The
Templars then assumed the rule of the Benedictines and the white habit of that
order. Pope Eugenius III also decreed that the Templars should wear a red
cross above their heart. In Europe, Hugh de Payens was also successful in
securing additional financial support for his order in addition to recruits.
In all likelihood, the support was given with monetary hope or expectation of
Amazingly, the Templars growth was explosive. Even more strange
was the fact that many nobles joined the order, becoming submissive to their
own vassals. Thus, it is appropriate to question what overwhelming power the
Templars possessed to effect such history. And, we may be sure that there was
some sort of powerful allurement to the Templars. The implication of history
is that they either possessed a unique treasure, power or that they had the
ability to blackmail kings, possibly the Church. The most common myth is that
they unearthed the Arc of the Covenant.
Human nature being what it is, it is appropriate to speculate
that the Templars might have served as Bernard’s ‘soldiers,’ giving him a
portion of "the take."
The original Templar order was divided into three parts, the
fighting Knights, required to be of noble birth; the brothers who served as
the sergeants and men-at-arms, and the Chaplains. Later, the Templars
expanded their economic interests to a range of industries, from ship building
In their early years of existence, the Knights Templar built a
system of castles throughout Palestine, participating in all the major battles
and the various crusades. Ultimately, the Christian forces were driven from
the Holy Land in 1291 A.D. The Knights Templar honored their order by
refusing to retreat until the battle was won. During their history, there
were 22 Grand Masters. Of those Masters, 5 were killed in battle, five later
died of wounds, and one died in Saracen captivity.
After being forced out of Palestine, the Order established their
new headquarters on the Island of Cyprus. The Templars had previously
purchased this Island from King Richard the Lionheart. During their
existence, the Order accumulated large amounts of property and funds
throughout Europe. This wealth was controlled by the Preceptories and
Priories which were located in many European countries. Often their European
locations were a fortress. Among other achievements, the Templars also
distinguished themselves by inventing and becoming the major bankers of
Europe. Kings and the Church were their primary customers.
In the early 14th century, Philip IV, King of France, had become
financially indebted to the Templars and was jealous of their power and
wealth. Philip, requiring further funds for his personal ambitions, entered
into an agreement with the French Pope, Clement V, to suppress the Templar
Order, availing himself of their properties in France.
Pope Clement invited Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the
Temple, to Paris on the pretense of discussing plans for a new crusade. The
Grand Master of the Hospitaliers was also invited, however, he declined the
invitation. On Friday, October 13, 1307, upon their arrival in Paris, DeMolay
and his followers throughout France were ordered arrested. The Templars were
charged with a variety of heretic crimes. While a great percentage of the
Templars were able to escape from France, the arrested Templars were tortured
until they confessed.
Many Templars, failing to confess, were burned at the stake. DeMolay,
along with Guy de Charney, the Grand Preceptor of Normandy was tortured into
confessing heinous crimes. They were both burned at the stake on an Island in
the Seine River on March 18, 1314, after recanting their confessions. To the
last, DeMolay maintained his innocence, and that of the Order.
Through the forceful persuasion of Philip IV, Pope Clement
issued a Papal Bull ordering the suppression of the Templar Order. The Bull
was to be enforced by each country. However, it was not enforced by other
countries as it was in France. France executed all the Templars who would not
In England, the Templar properties were turned over to the
Knights of St. John as the Templars faded away. The Templars were not
persecuted in either Scotland or Spain. However, the Templar properties were
dispersed. In Portugal, a new organization was formed, titled, "The Order of
Knights of Christ" by King Dion II. In 1319, Pope John XXII permitted the
Templar estates to be turned over to that new order.
Thousands of the Knights Templar were fortunate to escape and
survive the suppression. Their suppression and dispersal were indeed
unfortunate, as most of the Templars were skilled as soldiers, administrators
in banking and commerce, early lawyers, as well as being craftsmen of a
variety of trades. While the Templars were decidedly suppressed, a certain
percentage were absorbed into the European culture. It may be accurately said
that the Templars were dispersed, not suppressed.
Over the centuries, many unsuccessful attempts have been made to
directly connect the modern Order of the Temple to the ancient Order. These
theories however probable, are nearly impossible to prove for lack of
acceptable documentation. It is therefore important to observe the Templar
influence as a noble tradition, as opposed to attempt direct linkage.
Toward making a link with the ancient Templars, many Masonic
historians point out that the Templars were not persecuted in Scotland. They
further assert that In 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce
defeated a major English army, becoming King of Scotland with the aid of some
of the surviving Templars. According to the Bruce legend, at the critical
point in the battle, a band of the Templar knights emerged, with sufficient
presence to sway the English minds, as to whether victory could be achieved.
Whatever the factual details, the English ran and lost the
battle. The importance of this information isn’t so much as to the facts of
the Battle of Bannockburn, versus the strong suggestion that many of the
surviving the Templars ended up in Scotland – presumably with their treasure;
and their knowledge/philosophy.
Wylie B. Wendt, a Masonic scholar, illustrates that John Graham
of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, could have been the Grand Master of the
Scottish Templars. This assertion is based on the fact that when he fell at
the Battle of Killie-Crankie (July 27, 1689) he was wearing the Grand Cross of
the Order. Although this does not constitute "proof," it does provide a
strong suggestion of a surviving Templar influence, if not their continued
One legend claims that one of the surviving Knights Templar,
John Mark Larmenius, claimed that before his death, Grand Master Jacques
DeMolay appointed him as successor to the Grand Mastership. Larmenius
thereafter issued a "Charter of Transmission," transferring the leadership
authority to Francis Theobold, of Alexandria. Thereafter, a complete list of
successors was been maintained until 1838 A.D.
According to that account, Larmenius named his new organization
the "Ordre du Temple." Branches of this order have survived in many areas of
Europe. Although there is no acceptable proof that Larmenius was in fact the
legitimate successor to DeMolay, this piece of history does demonstrate a
serious attempt to preserve the Templar order; legal or not.
Thousands of the surviving Templars were dispersed throughout
all of Europe. Many of the former Templars were skilled craftsmen with
experience as stonemasons, designers, with experience in building
fortifications. Many of these craftsmen learned their skills in the East.
Many of their skills were more advanced than many of their European
counterparts. It is only logical that a great number of the Templar survivors
would have joined the stonemason companies which were thriving during the 14th
century. Therefore, it is not difficult to believe that the Templar ideology
could have permeated stonemasonry, opening the doorway for Freemasonry to
evolve. Hard proof is still lacking.
Another theory asserts that some of the surviving Templars
followed Pierre d'Aumont, the Provincial Grand Master of Auvergne, to
Scotland. The theory goes on to claim that he was elected as the surviving
Grand Master of the Temple, later moving to Sweden. This account is
consistent with one Baron von Hund's claim that Freemasonry was founded upon
ancient Templary through "The Rite of Strict Observance." However, Hund's
claims are equally difficult to believe, though not impossible.
We must also consider the theory that some of the Knights
Templar joined the Knights of St. John, thereby transmitting the Templar
tradition within that organization. However, given the long standing rivalry
between the two orders, most consider this possibility as being highly
Despite the implications of history, it is still not possible to
make a direct provable connection between the original Order of the Temple the
Masonic Order of the Temple. What is important is keeping alive the ideals
and spirit of the Templars in today’s Commandery of Knights Templar.
THE TEMPLARS AND THE SCOTTISH SINCLAIRS
One Templar legend asserts that the Templars retreated to the
Orkney Islands of Scotland, leaving behind a legacy – if not some form of
treasure - with the Sinclair clan. The Sinclair family left Freemasonry with
an icon in the form of the highly sculpted Scottish Roslyn Chapel. Whether
the building was originally intended to be a formal chapel, or a template of
the ancient Egyptian/Hebrew temples is open for debate. One set of authors
insists that the floor plan is that of the Jerusalem Temple, arguing that
there is a surrogate Sanctum Sanctorum under the floor of the chapel –
possibly containing treasure or Templar secrets. At the time of this writing,
that matter remains among the Roslyn mysteries.
The Roslyn Chapel is an incredible time-capsule of sculpted
esoterica, from seemingly pagan, Druidic, Rosicrucian, Christian, to obviously
Masonic imagery. While there is no shortage of those who would insist that
there is a given message, the chapel seems to be more of an eclectic symbol of
the religious beliefs of all time.
The intrigue is in the possibility of unknown Sinclair ‘secret’
holdings of unknown, but treasured documents, as well as their patronage of
stone masonry, yielding the obvious allusion to the fraternity of Freemasonry.
Among other ‘mysteries, is a debate that the Templars – and the
Sinclairs – conducted voyages to North America. Various bits of archaeology
suggest that such is possible. Among the suspected ‘Sinclair’ ventures is the
mystery of a vertical shaft in Nova Scotia, known as the "Oak Island Mystery."
Supposedly a treasure of millions of dollars is located at the bottom of a
sophisticated shaft, whose very construction is a mystery.
To date, the bottom of that pit hasn’t been reached, despite the
efforts associated with the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars and the
loss of several lives.
A particular bit of interesting archaeology is worth noting in
the bedrock of Westford Massachusetts, in the assumed image of a Scottish or
This inscription is claimed to have been found in what’s known
as the "Indian Stone," in the 1950s. To date, it has not been debunked as a
fraud. Interestingly, a very similar image is also found on a Templar grave,
Further debate about the Templars fuels the speculation that the
voyage of Columbus was spawned from original Templar explorations, with
special attention being given to the cross on the ships’ sails displaying the
THE TEMPLARS AND THE ALBIGENESIAN CRUSADE
The Christian Crusades are generally regarded as more of a
pillaging and murderous spree, prostituting the issues of Christianity in a
vain attempt to take control of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, in particular.
However, one "crusade" which seems to escape much of history is the infamous
"Albigenesian Crusade," against the Cathars of southern France, in the
Languedoc Region. The Cathars held rich farm lands. They also had a very
elementary view of Jesus, versus the Trinitarian view.
The Cathars also regarded Christianity as a simple religion,
abhorring the riches and titles claimed by Rome. Obviously, they fell into
the sights of Rome, as heretics. The Cathars were also famous for rejecting
anything which could somehow be classified as ‘evil,’ to include "earthly"
needs, such as sex.
In 1209, the Church mounted the infamous "Albigenesian Crusade,"
against the Cathars, leaving a famous expression, "Kill them all; God
will find his own." Thus an unarmed populace was slaughtered.
As one might suspect, there was the usual issue of "treasure;"
never found. However, it was from this region that the legends in such books
as "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" emerge. According to the legends of the
‘crusade,’ the Templars refused to participate in the killing, while being
unable to stop the ‘crusade.’
The rumors of history also suggest that the Templars had some of
their secrets hidden in the region, with allusions to the Turin Shroud,
possibly the legendary "Holy Grail," generally believed to have been a
chalice, as a Templar holding.
In the lore of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," the surviving Templar
treasure was a collection of information, which allowed the Catholic Church to
be blackmailed, by a local priest, Bérenger Saunière, at a location in the
former Cathar region, a village known as Rennes-le-Château. The time frame of
his story is set in the mid 1890s.
Supposedly the information was that Jesus was exclusively
mortal, leaving behind a family. This line of thought was pursued under the
allegations of a "Prieuré de Sion," a supposed organization, dedicated to the
preservation of the Christ bloodline, via the heritage of a royalty line,
known as the "Merovingian Kings." While the case for the "Prieuré de Sion,"
caused quite a stir in the religious communities, it is generally held to be a
The interesting impact of this issue, however, created a general
intrigue as to the humanity, versus the divinity of Jesus. Of particular note
are such books as Margaret Starbird’s "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar."
All that, from the legends of the Templars.
"About those new books…"
With the printing of such books as "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and
"The Davinci Code," much has been made about the history of Jesus, tying into
a theory that Mary Magdalene was actually the wife of Jesus, and that she
escaped to France, following the Crucifixion. Via the associated Templar
connections cited, that drags the issue – kicking and screaming - into the
discussion circles of Freemasonry.
THE "PRIORY OF SION" LEGENDS
Within reason, it may be said that Mary Magdalene was unjustly
maligned through the centuries. However unpopular it may be to consider,
reading Scripture closely, it’s quite possible to see that she might have been
the wife of Jesus, possibly the mother of his child, and the most important
among his disciples.
Did Church politics mandate a misogynistic attempt to suppress
the truth? According to the "Priory of Sion" legend, Mary Magdalene left for
France, with her secret and bloodline documented by a secret society known as
the "Prieuré de Sion," or the Priory of Sion. In layman’s terms, "The
religious house of the descendent." According to the legend, their membership
leaders (not to imply direct descendency of those leaders) included some of
the greatest artists and thinkers of the entire of Western civilization,
including Leonardo Da Vinci.
It’s worth considering that even if the organization pandered as
the "Priory of Sion" is a fraud, the bloodline of Jesus – via Mary Magdalene -
might actually exist.
Luke's gospel seems to depict Mary Magdalene as a prostitute,
where it implies that she was cured, by Jesus, of seven demons. A closer
reading of the Gospels doesn’t support the position of Mary being a
prostitute, whom Jesus forgives for her sins. By historic accounts, in 591
AD, Pope Gregory overlapped the two accounts. Eventually the Vatican
corrected that account, but not until 1969 - 1,378 years later.
In sum, the Bible suggests Mary Magdalene might have actually
been Jesus' wife. The Gospel of John describes a woman named Mary who anoints
Jesus' feet with oil and wipes it away with her hair - a marriage ritual of
the time. Thus, the question, is the woman identified as Mary of Bethany,
actually Mary Magdalene?
THE "HOLY GRAIL"
Accepted tradition aside, what, exactly is a "Grail?" Tradition
holds the ‘grail’ to be the cup of Jesus, from the Last Supper. The current
thought is that the term "Grail" is a corruption of the French "Sangreal," – a
royal bloodline. In theory, Jesus came from the dual royal bloodlines of the
Jews. Was Mary carrying their child, at the time of the Crucifixion?
In theory, bloodlines carry inheritance rights. With a chaste
Church structure, the Catholic Church leaves no such rights – was that a
political style of the time? Could the facts of Jesus being married unravel
so many centuries of tradition – and power?
The Gospels certainly suggest that Jesus was a great teacher –
and a Rabbi. By Jewish tradition, that also meant that he was married.
Thus, the hiding of Mary Magdalene’s status and importance would be critical
to the power structure of the Catholic Church. In theory, Christianity was
another Jewish sect. Given that the "Old Testament" is essentially the Torah
& Talmud; one faces the question (in terms of belief, versus bloodline),
"How can one be a ‘Christian," without first being a Jew?"
By the time the Christian Bible was written, much had been lost
to the oral traditions of the Church. Until Gutenberg, and his printing
press, the possession of a Bible was quite a status symbol, with a Catholic
Mass being said in a rarely understood tongue - Latin.
Whatever factual Jewish origins behind Jesus, those facts seem
to have been obscured in Greek and Latin accounts, with just the Trinity being
a political compromise, emanating from a meeting in 325 AD, the Council of
THE "PRIORY OF SION" AND THE TEMPLARS
Accounts of the "Priory of Sion" first appeared in modern times,
during the late 1960s, when documents were supposedly discovered deep in the
French National Library, which referenced the society.
The documents – forged or otherwise - outlined a family tree
dating back to the Merovingian Kings, who ruled in the south of France from
the 6th to the 8th century.
According to that legend, the Merovingian king's mother was said
to have been impregnated by a sea creature; hinting in the direction of the
earliest symbols for Jesus and Christianity, being a fish.
According to the legend cited in
"Holy Blood, Holy Grail," the
Merovingian kings were the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, with their
descendants having founded the Priory of Sion. The book argues that the
Knights Templar, essentially served as the military wing of the Priory of Sion
- guardians of the Grail and of the Grail Family.
After 200 years of existence, the Knights Templar were suddenly
rounded up one day by King Phillip of France, accused of heresy and disbanded
or executed by the priests of the Inquisition.
One theory holds that the Templars were destroyed because they
essentially had the Church blackmailed, with a particular license to operate
independently of any crown, answering only to the Pope. Supposedly, the
source of the blackmail was that they possessed the evidence that proved the
humanity of Jesus, and the identity of Mary Magdalene and her descendants. In
theory, by destroying the Templars, Philip would be snatching the Templar
treasure, and eliminating the irritation of the Templars, relative to Papal
matters. By 1307, it was quite clear that there would be no more Crusades;
the Templars were essentially outliving their utility, as a military power.
It should also be noted in history, that the seat of the
Catholic Church was a long a matter of contention, whether Constantinople,
Rome or Paris. Clement was French, formerly the Archbishop of Bordeaux, and
followed in a line of mysterious Papal deaths – remembered as probable murders
(Boniface VII and Benedict XI). Very possibly, Clement was attempting to
assure his own survival, in accommodating King Philip.
By whatever means of coincidence, Clement didn’t survive the
death of the last Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, by more than
about a month. King Philip died approximately seven months, after de Molay.
For the most part, the "Priory of Scion" has been debunked as a
fraud. However, that does not dismiss the possibility that Jesus actually
left a bloodline. The more interesting question goes to the bloodline history
NOT being included in any Jewish recordings, given the Jewish penchant for
recording infinitely small details of history. Granted, that which was
‘Christian’ would have a certain intellectual firewall, relative to Jewish
traditions and treatment.
Amidst the Dan Brown and Margaret Starbird books, ABC NEWS
researched the acclaimed Priory of Sion documents from the French library,
leading to a pair of noble-born Scottish cousins, by the name of Andrew and
Niven Sinclair. If the ancestry is accurate, that leads back to their
ancestor William Sinclair, renowned for building the Roslyn Chapel in
Scotland. The Roslyn chapel is often referred to in the various legends of
King Arthur as being the Chapel of the Grail.
Whether fact or fiction, the matter makes for interesting
reading; particularly where the Templars are concerned.
Adding fuel to the "Magdalene fire," history faces the discovery
of a set of scrolls in Egypt, in 1945 – the Nag Hammadi scrolls. In theory,
these were hidden by a monk in the late 4th century.
These writings are sometimes referred to as the Gnostic Gospels.
"Gnostic" meaning "knowledge," with the groups who wrote them claiming
special knowledge about Jesus.
The texts identify Mary Magdalene as being the companion of
Jesus, leading to a certain conclusion that she was more likely Jesus' wife.
Even beyond the Gnostic Gospels there is a certain amount of evidence that in
the first centuries after Jesus, Mary Magdalene was treated with great respect
by several of the early male church leaders. Given that the particular time
frame of history depicted women as being systematically excluded from any
positions of authority, the treatment of Mary Magdalene catches one’s
The issue behind Mary Magdalene isn’t so much as the accuracy of
Church history, as it is the matter of the elementary trust of the Church, and
its teachings. Naturally, that takes the issue to the power, prowess and
wealth of the various Christian churches, being a terrifically hot potato.
THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN
Following the success of the First Crusade in 1099 A.D., the
Christian community of Jerusalem greatly expanded, taxing the resources of the
small Hospital of St. John.
Gerard, Master of the Hospital, found it necessary to completely
reorganize the hospital. He was able to secure larger quarters and recruit
additional support members. Additionally, many of the crusaders contributed
substantially to the cause of the hospital. Gerard adopted new regulations
for the government of the organization.
These new regulations were modeled after the Augustinian rule
for a monastic society. The new rules were very detailed, both for social
government and for treatment of the sick. The members of the Order took vows
of chastity, poverty and obedience. They also adopted a black robe for their
habit. The Order adopted the white notched cross of eight points, worn on the
left breast. Pope Paschal II placed the Order under his personal protection
on February 15, 1113.
Gerard was succeeded by Raymond du Puy as Master in 1118.
Raymond conceived the need for a military defense unit to protect the Order
from their warlike Moslem neighbors. With the approval of King Baldwin II,
and that of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, du Puy formed a military unit within
This military organization quickly rivaled the Templar Order in
bravery and skill. In their later years, the Templars were granted the
honorary task of defending the right flank of the armies in battle, while the
Hospitallers defended the left. The Order maintained their primary concern
and attention toward their function as a hospital. The military unit was
maintained until the end of their active existence as a fighting force on the
Island of Malta in 1798.
When the Order of St. John first undertook its military role,
Raymond du Puy included a regulation for their military conduct, ". . . and
to practice all of the other moral and religious virtues so that, inflamed
with charity, they shall not fear to take the sword in hand, and to expose
themselves with prudence, temperance, and energy, to every kind of danger, for
the defense of the glory of Jesus Christ and of the sacred cross, in the cause
of justice and in that of the widows and orphans." Today, the Chivalric Mason
has also subscribed to these same sentiments. It should be noted that this
oath is not exclusionary of any other faith.
Jerusalem was re-captured by the Saracens in 1187.
Subsequently, the headquarters of the Knights of St. John moved to Margate,
where the Order maintained a hospital. Later it was moved to Acre, which was
to become the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land. The last of the
Christian armies were driven from Acre by May of 1291. Both the Templars and
the Hospitallers moved their operations to Cyprus where both elements remained
for several years.
The Knights of St. John were able to secure both reinforcements
and financial aid from their Priories in Europe. The order purchased their
own ships, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea against the Moslem pirates and
slavers. The Order successfully protected the shipping lanes, opening the sea
routes for both pilgrimages and trade.
To secure a new home for themselves, on August 15, 1310 the
Hospitallers attacked and secured the Island of Rhodes, a famous pirate haven.
The Order improved the island fortifications and its harbor facilities. From
their new base, the Order continued to police the Mediterranean sea lanes. As
a result of their new home, the order was renamed the "Knights of Rhodes."
When the Templar Order was suppressed in 1312, a large part of
the Templar property given to the Knights of Rhodes, previously the
In 1320, the Order of St. John was reorganized into divisions,
according to 8 languages. One of the principle officers was placed in charge
of each associated country. These were: The Grand Turcopolier, England; The
Grand Hospitaller, France; The Grand Bailiff, Germany; The Grand Commander,
Provence; The Grand Marshal, Auvergne; The Grand Admiral, Italy; The Grand
Conservator, Aragon; and The Grand Chancellor, Castile. The Grand Master
resided at the Orders headquarters on Rhodes.
Rhodes was besieged by the Ottoman Turks in 1480, under the
Emperor Mohammed II, following his capture of Constantinople in 1453. Several
bloody battles were successfully fought by the Knights of Rhodes, inflicting
heavy casualties upon the Moslems, causing the Turks to withdraw.
In 1522, Rhodes was again attacked by the Turkish Sultan,
Suleiman II. He attacked the Island fortress with 400 ships and 140,000 men.
Following a six month valiant defense, the Knights were reduced to
starvation, compelling them to surrender. Their courageous defense inspired
Suleiman to allow the Hospitallers to withdraw peacfully from the island.
Thus deposed, the Knights withdrew to the Island of Crete (then Candia); many
of the Knights returned to European preceptories.
In 1530, Emperor Charles V of Spain granted the Island of Malta
to the Order. The Order was granted the status of a sovereign state, under
the Emperor's dominion. The Order again changed its name to "The Sovereign
Order of Knights of Malta." Again, the Order took up the quest of securing the
Mediterranean sea lanes, continuing their attacks on the Turkish ships.
Understandably, Suleiman II, regretting his former generosity
toward the knights, attacked the Knights on the Island of Malta in 1561. This
battle raged for 4 months. The Order lost half the knights during the battle.
Finally, reinforcements reached the island from Europe. The Turks were
forced to withdraw, losing 25,000 men in the skirmish.
The Knights maintained their patrol of the Mediterranean Sea for
the next 200 years. During the French Revolution in the 1780's, the Order
sided with the French Monarchy. In the subsequent battles, Napoleon took the
island of Malta in 1798, ejecting the Knights. In 1814, under the terms of
the Treaty of Paris, England gained control of the Island.
For decades, the European Priories had been pursuing their
separate agendas. For lack of any remaining function, the loss of the Island
of Malta caused the Order to begin seriously disintegrating. The decay of the
Order was further advanced by its expulsion from England during the Protestant
Reformation of Henry VIII. Further damage was incurred when the Republic of
France dissolved the Order in France in 1792.
In 1802, Charles IV of Spain combined the Priories of Aragon and
Castile into the Royal Spanish Order of St. John, naming himself as its Grand
Master. Only the Priories of Germany and Italy remained intact.
Subsequently, the Italian Priories was reorganized by the Pope
into a charitable organization which has survived in various forms, to its
present day form. Eventually, the German elements of the Order disintegrated
There was an attempt to preserve the Order in England as a
Protestant organization, with the Order of Knights of St. John being
established as a hospital unit. Today, this organization exists as the St.
John Ambulance Brigade, with members of the Royal Family participating in its
activities. This organization can in fact trace its existence to the original
Beyond moral ideals, there is no direct connection between the
Hospitallers and the modern day Masonic Order of Malta. The spiritual and
moral attributes exemplified by the ceremonies of the ancient Order are
contained in the ritual of the modern Order. It was the practice of the
ancient Order of St. John to induct new members in a public ceremony,
therefore, the ritual is a matter of record.
It should also be noted that there is a unique surviving modern
order known as the Knights of Malta, totally independent of Masonic ties.
ORIGINS OF ENGLISH TEMPLARY
Early in the 18th century, during the formative years of
Speculative Freemasonry in England, Masons were characterized by a belief in
Trinitarian Christianity. This changed with the advent of Anderson's
Constitutions of 1723 and 1738. Anderson's Constitutions inculcated the
highest reverence for The Supreme Being, as opposed to the Trinity, opening
membership in the craft for all good men, thus eliminating sectarianism.
The open beliefs of the Freemasons started a battle with the
Catholic Church. Consequently, in 1738, Pope Clement XII in issued a Papal
Bull (the "Humanum Genus") excommunicating all Freemasons. In an attempt to
preserve the Christian spiritual and moral values within the craft, a number
of Christian degrees appeared, primarily in France. These Christian degrees
were subsequently disseminated throughout the Masonic world. Of the Christian
degrees, the Order of the Temple, Order of Malta, and the Degree of Rose Croix
(not the Templar Red Cross) became well established.
The first historic references to the Masonic Orders of the
Temple and Malta appear in the early 1770's in Royal Arch Chapters. However,
it is possible that these degrees may have been conferred at an earlier date
in the British Isles. It is also possible that the degrees could have been
introduced by different continental sources. For lack of printed rituals and
the ceremonies, the degrees acquired different characteristics in England,
Scotland, and Ireland.
The 1745 By-Laws of Stirling Kilwinning Lodge of Scotland
prescribe a fee of 5 shillings for conferring the degree of Knight of Malta.
However, as mentioned earlier, the earliest documented conferral of the
Templar Order was in 1789, in St. Andrews Royal Arch Chapter in Boston. From
historical records, It is believed that the Templar Order was conferred by
four members of Military Lodge No. 322, attached to the 29th British
Regiment, which was chartered under the Grand Lodge of Ireland. This unit is
known to have been stationed in Boston at that time; they also appear as
visitors in the records. While there are historic accounts of Knights Templar
in Britain during that period, no records can be found to document how they
achieved that distinction.
Encampments of Knights Templar were organized in Great Britain
between 1770 and 1791. While the Baldwyn Encampment in Bristol can trace
their record from 1780, they claim their existence from "time immemorial,"
asserting their existence since the Templar suppression in 1312 A.D. In 1780,
the Baldwyn Encampment declared itself as the "Supreme Grand and Royal
Encampment," issuing Warrants for several new Encampments. However, they were
unsuccessful in their attempt to form a national body.
Throughout the 18th century, other independent Encampments were
formed. However several events were to transpire which impeded the growth of
In 1799, the English Parliament passed the Secret Societies Act.
Consequently, the Grand Conclave assumed a conservative position until it
became clear what effect the Act would have on the Masonic organizations. In
the early 1800s, negotiations began to unite the Grand Lodges of England.
During this time, many Masons strongly opposed the, so called, "higher
bodies." By the 1830s, the opposition began to fade. The Grand Conclave
resumed their normal activities in the early 1840s. While additional
Encampments had been organized in the interim, the Templar activities
maintained a "low profile."
Each of the English Encampments practiced its own ritual until
the 1850's. The Grand Conclave, after considering the various rituals,
finally established a standard Knight Templar ritual. A few years later, a
standard ritual was established for the Order of Malta, which included the
degree of Knight of St. Paul or the Mediterranean Pass. These same rituals
are used today.
In the early 1870's, an attempt was made to form a Convent
General for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each country was to retain
sovereignty within their territory. This attempt ended with only Ireland and
England initially entering the compact. Later, the Sovereign Great Priory of
Canada joined. However, in 1895, the Convent General was disbanded. Each
country thereafter pursued its sovereign course.
Templarism in England, since July 19, 1895, was governed by "The
Great Priory of the United Religious and Military Orders of the Temple and of
St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta, in England and Wales and
the Dominions and Dependencies of the British Crown."
Over time, this name became often confused with the Most
Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. To correct the
confusion, on may 18, 1977, the Great Priory amended their name to, "The
United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St. John
of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta in England and Wales and Provinces
England, Wales and their Provinces Overseas are divided into
Provincial Priories, under the direct supervision of their Preceptories (Commanderies).
A separate organization within the Great Priory regulates the Masonic Knights
of Malta. The head of this organization is the Great Prior. Each local
Preceptory contains this separate unit to confer the Malta Orders. The local
Preceptor (Commander) is automatically the prior if he is a Knight of Malta.
If he is not a Knight of Malta, the local Priory will elect one of their
members as Prior for the year.
Templar organizations throughout the World which are recognized
and maintain a fraternal correspondence with the Grand Encampment, Knights
Templar of the U.S.A. include:
The Great Priory of England and Wales, under the Most
Eminent and Supreme Grand Master.
The Sovereign Great Priory of Canada, governed by The Most
Eminent and Supreme Grand Master.
The Great Priory of Ireland, under The Most Eminent and
Supreme Grand Master.
The Great Priory of Scotland, whose head is The Most Eminent
and Reverend Grand Master
The Great Priory of Helvetia (Switzerland) headed by The
Most Reverend Grand Master and Great Prior.
ANCIENT ARABIC ORDER NOBLES OF THE MYSTIC SHRINE
THE MASONIC SHRINE
The "Shrine," as it's known, is another of the Masonic
organizations. Its focus is charity, while embodying many fun, recreational
and social groups.
According to Shrine 'legend,' the Ancient Arabic Order, NobIes
of the Mystic Shrine, originates in Mecca, Arabia, in the year 5459, or in the
Year of Our Lord 1608. Tradition holds that the original ritual was issued at
Aleppo, Arabia, by Louis Maracci, the Italian translator of Mohammed's Alkoran.
The order is said to have been later revised in Cairo, Egypt, in 5598. (or;
June 14, 1837, as Freemasons date their acts and instruments according to the
According to the legend, the original purpose of the Ancient
Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, was to form an Arabian and Egyptian
Inquisition, or Vigilance Committee. The original order was composed of many
brave and upright men. It is believed that the original organization was an
organization similar to the Vigilantes of the California gold rush era. The
Vigilates operated before any legal government was as yet organized there.
They took on the duties of captors, judges, jurors, and executioners of
The Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is
obviously a civilized institution. However the Shrine pin is still considered
to be a badge of honorable manhood, devoted to high ideals. In various cities
of Europe, Temples of the Mystic Shrine also operate as charitable social
The American institution originates from 1871, when, according
to Shrine legend, one of the foreign representatives of the order brought the
order to America. The ritual is said to have been received by Dr. Walter M.
Fleming, 33rd degree, Sovereign Grand Inspector-General, Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite, and Eminent Commander of Columbia Commandery No. 1, Knights
Templar, New York.
Dr. Fleming, along with other 33rd degree Masons, (including
Edward Eddy, William J. Florence, S. C. Campbell, G. W. Miller, Oswald
Merle D'Aubigne, John A. Moore, William S. Patterson, John W. Simmons and
Albert P. Moriarty) and nearly all the Knights Templar of Columbia Commandery
No. 1 instituted the Mecca Temple
No. 1, of the Mystic Shrine in New York. Dr. Fleming was
chosen as the original Grand Potentate (or presiding officer).
Due to the death of some of the leaders, this Temple remained
inactive for several years. According to the legend, in 1875 W. J. Florence
brought the Oriental Ritual of the order from Europe, as it was worked in
foreign countries. In 1876 Florence called the remaining members of the
original Mecca Temple No. 1 together. Under his leadership, a committee was
appointed to draft a constitution and the ritual for the order in America.
The constitution was adopted June 6, 1876.
Mr. Florence, the chairman of the committee, and Dr. Fleming,
Grand Potentate, were at the time members of the old burlesque association
known as the Sons of Malta, it followed that a portion of the ritual of that
order was used. Part of the ritual was adapted from the degrees of the Rite
of Memphis and the Scottish Rite, and also from the Royal Arch and Templar
degrees, York Rite. Originally, it was decided that only Masons of the 32nd
degree by the Scottish Rite, or Knights Templar by the York Rite should be
eligible to admission to the order; this standard still applies.
Today, the American Mystic Shrine operates as a charitable and
social organization devoted to the welfare of Freemasonry. The Imperial
Council is the governing body, with subordinate branches called Temples.
There are more than 200 Temples in the United States.
The Mystic Shrine is called an Arabic Order, exclusively in the
spirit of frolic. As part of the ritual, Shriners assume the garb and role of
Arabs. The spirit of the Shrine is little different from such organizations
as the Eagles or Moose. Shriners do not worship the Mohammedan Allah, nor do
they assume the religion of Islam. Shriners are Masons, who believe in deity;
they are simply citizens.
The Shrine was organized for charity, fun and frolic. The
Shrine is often called the "Country Club" or a "playground" for Masons. Its
principles are charity, pleasure, hospitality and jollity, without
intemperance, coarseness or rudeness. It is an error think of the Mystic
Shrine as being the highest degree of Freemasonry. The Shrine operates
independently of the Masonic Lodge. The Shrine is perhaps the best loved of
all the bodies of Masons. In the United States, the membership numbers in the
thousands of members, all enthusiasts of fraternal affection and good
The Shrine attracts doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, dentists,
movie stars, contractors, heads of state, generals, clergymen and accountants?
Some ask, "What is the Shrine?"
Most associate Shriners as "the guys with the funny red hats who
are always having big conventions or putting on parades with the wild costumes
and funny little cars and clowns."
Fortunately, many know of the little boy or girl born with
deformed feet, whose feet are now straight, and they can walk like anyone
else, thanks to Shriners Children's Hospitals.
Others may remember the burn institutes, famous for saving
children with burns on 90 percent of their bodies.
The Shriners share camaraderie, deep friendships, good
fellowship and fun times. All Shriners share the Masonic heritage of being
either a 32nd degree Mason through the Scottish Rite or a Knight Templar Mason
through the York Rite.
The Shriners are organized in Temples throughout the United
States, Mexico, Canada, and the Republic of Panama. There are more than 24
Shrine Hospitals for Crippled Children, 20 orthopedic units and three Shrine
Burn Institutes. These hospitals have magnificently helped approximately
500,000 children, at no cost to their parent or children since the first
Shriner Hospital opened - in 1922.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE "SHRINE"
The American Shrine can be said to have originated in 1870, in
Manhattan, when a group of Masons met for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage,
a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue.
This particular group of Masons were noted for their humor and
wit. They were in favor of the idea of forming a new fraternity for Masons,
in which fun and fellowship would be the focus, as opposed to ritual. Dr.
Walter M. Fleming, and William J. Florence, a local actor, decided to take
Bill Florence was a star actor. After achieving success on the
New York stage, he traveled to Europe and the Middle Eastern countries,
playing to capacity audiences wherever he went. According to Florence, he'd
been invited to a party in Marseilles, France, hosted by an Arabian diplomat.
The evenings entertainment was an elaborately staged musical comedy. At its
conclusion, the guests were made members of a secret society.
From this party in France, and several other viewings of the
play. Florence, remembering the discussions at the Knickerbocker Cottage,
concluded that the elements of this Arabian comedy could be modified as the
core for a new fraternity. Returning to New York, Florence showed his notes
to Dr. Fleming in 1870. Dr. Fleming agreed with his conclusions.
Fleming converted Florence's notes and drawings into the format
and ritual of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.).
With the help of the Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming
created the ritual, emblem and ritual costumes and formulated the salutation.
It was decided that the members would wear a red fez.
The initiation rites, or ceremonials, were created by Fleming
and three other Brother Masons: Charles T. McClenachan, an attorney and an
expert on Masonic Ritual; William Sleigh Paterson, a linguist, printer and
ritualist; and Albert L. Rawson, a prominent scholar who provided much of the
The Shrine Emblem
The Crescent became the Jewel of the Order. The traditional
Cresent is said to be formed from the claws of a Royal Bengal Tiger, mounted
in a gold setting. In the center of the symbol is the head of a sphinx. On
the back are of the emblem are a pyramid, an urn and a star. The traditional
Jewel bears the Arabic motto "Kuwat wa Ghadab," which translates to "Strength
and Fury." The present day Shrine emblem hangs from a scimitar, with a
five-pointed star hung beneath the head of the sphinx.
The Shriner's Salutation
Dr. Fleming and his co-workers formulated a salutation used
today by Shriners - "Es Selamu Aleikum!" - which means, "Peace be with you!"
In returning the salutation, the gracious wish is - "Aleikum Es Selamu" -
which means "With you be peace."
The Shriner's fez
The traditional head gear of Shriners is a red fez with a black
tassel. The fez derives its name from the place where it was first
manufactured, the city of Fez, Morocco, famous for its deep red dye.
While some historians claim that the fez dates to approximately
A.D. 980, the name of the fez, or tarboosh, is not found in Arabic literature
until approximately the 14th century, with one of the earliest references in
Shrine Temple Origins
The first Shrine Temple in the United States was organized on
September 26,1872, in the New York City Masonic Hall. Brothers McClenachan
and Fleming, having completed the proposed ritual, advocated the first Temple
to be named 'Mecca.' Thus, the original 23 Masons of the Knickerbocker Cottage
lunch group became Charter Members of the Mecca Temple, known as "Nobles."
Noble Florence outlined the "history" of the Order, offering his advice on the
conduct of meetings.
The elected officers were Walter M. Fleming as Potentate;
Charles T. McClenachan as Chief Rabban; John A. Moore as Assistant Rabban;
Edward Eddy as High Priest and Prophet; George W. Millar as the Oriental
Guide; James S. Chappel as the Treasurer; William S. Paterson as Recorder;
and Oswald M. d'Aubigne was elected as Captain of the Guard.
The organization did not become an instant success. After four
years, there were only 43 Shriners.
On June 6,1876, at a meeting of Mecca Temple, in the New York
Masonic Temple, "The Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for the United States of America" was created to
accelerate the growth of the young fraternity. Dr. Fleming became the first
Imperial Grand Potentate. The new body formulated the rules for membership
and the formation of new Temples. To make the new organization more
attractive, the initiation ritual and the "mythology" were embellished.
Additionally, an extensive recruiting and publicity campaign was begun.
At the end of two more years, by 1878, the organization had
grown to 425 Shriners enrolled in 13 Temples. Five Temples were located in
New York, two in Ohio, with the others in Vermont, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts.
The Shrine grew steadily during the 1880s to more than 7,000
members by 1888, in 48 Temples throughout the United States, with one Temple
having been formed in Canada.
The organization started out being primarily a social
organization. However, philanthropic work became increasingly common. In
1888, members of the Morocco Temple and Masonic Knights Templar distinguished
themselves during a Yellow Fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Fla., working long
hours to relieve the suffering. In 1889, Shriners again distinguished
themselves by coming to the aid of the Johnstown Flood victims. By 1898, the
Shriners numbered approximately 50,000 with 71 of the 79 Temples being engaged
in some sort of philanthropic work.
The Shriners made their presence particularly visible at its
1900 Imperial Session. Representatives from more than 80 Temples marched in a
parade in Washington, D.C., which was reviewed by President William McKinley.
By then, Shrine membership exceeded 50,000.
THE "WORLD'S GREATEST
In the early 1900s, the Shrine membership grew still more
rapidly, while the number of Shrine Temples rapidly increased. Eight new
Temples were created in Canada, with one built in Honolulu, Mexico City and
the Republic of Panama between 1900 and 1918. The Shrine had become the
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America.
The Shrine became known for its growing colorful pageantry. With each new
temple, more Shrine bands were formed, with the first Shrine circus opening in
1906 in Detroit. During this period, the member support grew for establishing
an official Shrine charity.
Most Temples had their favorite philanthropies, with the Shrine
organization often giving aid. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake,
the Shrine sent $25,000 to assist the city. In 1915, the Shrine contributed
$10,000 to the relief of European war victims. While the individual Temple
projects and the one-time contributions were important, the membership felt a
need for a broadened charity.
In 1919, the membership had grown to more than 363,000. One
Freeland Kendrick (Lu Lu Temple, Philadelphia), Imperial Potentate-elect
visited the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta. This
visit instilled in him the tremendous need of crippled children. During the
l919 Imperial Session, Kendrick proposed establishing "The Mystic Shriners
Peace Memorial for Friendless, Orphaned and Crippled Children." However, his
proposed resolution did not come to a vote. During his term as Imperial
Potentate in 1919 and 1920, he traveled around the country visiting a majority
of the Temples (now nearly 150), campaigning for a single Shrine philanthropy.
At the June 1920 Imperial Session in Portland, Oregon, Kendrick
changed his proposed resolution to the establishment of the "Shriners Hospital
for Crippled Children." His proposal called for the charity to be supported by
an annual $2 assessment from each Shriner.
While many conservative Shriners expressed their doubts about
the Shrine assuming that kind of responsibility, one Noble, Forrest Adair (Yaarab
Temple, Atlanta), swayed the attitude by citing the fact that the Shrine spent
money for songs and bands, imploring the membership to remember their Masonic
principles and to focus on spending money for the sake of humanity.
Adair promised that if a Shriner objected to having paid the two
dollars after he had seen the first crippled child helped, that he would
personally reimburse the money. When Adair was finished with his speech, he
received nothing less than thunderous applause; the resolution passed
Immediately, a committee formed to determine the site for the
Shriners Hospital. However, months of work, research and debate left the
committee with the conclusion that there should be a network of hospitals in
North America. The idea appealed to the Shriners, who enjoyed doing things in
a big, loud and colorful way.
The First Shrine Hospital
Prior to the June 1922 Shrine Session, the cornerstone had been
placed for the first Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children in Shreveport, La.
There were a few simple rules for this hospital, and all Shrine Hospitals
which would be subsequently built. For a child to be admitted, the child must
be from a family unable to pay for the orthopedic treatment, be under 14 years
old (this was later increased to 18) and have a condition which could be
The Shrine Hospital network is supervised members of its Board
of Trustees. These are annually elected at the meeting of the hospital
corporation. Each hospital operates under the supervision of its own local
Board of Governors, a chief of staff and an administrator. The members of the
hospital boards are Shriners, serving without pay.
The first Shrine patient was admitted in 1922; a little girl
from south of Shreveport, La. She had a club foot, having learned to walk on
the top of one foot rather than the sole. The Shrine patient to be admitted
in Minneapolis was a Blackfoot Indian boy suffering from polio.
Since the origins of the Shrine Hospitals, approximately 450,000
children have been treated. Surgical techniques pioneered in the Shriners
Hospitals have become standard methods in orthopedics, all over the world.
Thousands of Shrine children have been fitted with leg and arm braces, as
well as artificial limbs. Most of these devices are made in the hospitals by
Shrine Orthopedic Research
The Shrine's funds rapidly increased between 1950 and 1960 for
the care of crippled children. Due to the development of polio vaccine and
new antibiotics, the waiting lists of patients for admission to the Shrine
Hospitals began to decline in the same time frame. As a consequence, the
Shrine Hospitals found the ability to provide additional services to children.
Thus, the Shrine leaders began to search for additional ways to help the
One result was the collating of the medical records and other
information of the patients of the Shrine Hospitals. By utilizing computers
and microfilm, valuable information was distributed to all Shrine surgeons and
to the entire medical world. This process, also facilitated clinical research
in the various Shrine orthopedic units.
The Shriners Hospitals have always engaged in clinical research.
Today, the research budget is in excess of $20 million. Shrine research
includes studies of bone and joint diseases, increasing the basic knowledge of
the structure and function of connective tissue. this research additionally
yields research in refining functional neuromuscular stimulation. This
research, in particular, enables children with spinal cord injuries to at
least have limited use of their legs and arms.
THE SHRINE BURN INSTITUTES
The orthopedic work eventually led to the burn clinics and
hospitals. A special committee explored areas of additional medical need and
found that burn treatment was a neglected field of service. By the early
1960s, the only burn treatment center in the United States was part of the
military medical field.
The Shrine Hospitals for Crippled Children was initially formed
as a Colorado Corporation to establish and operate one or more burn hospitals
for the care and treatment of children. The hospital function included
research and training.
The Shrine opened a seven-bed wing in the John Sealy Hospital on
the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, on November 1, 1963.
This was an interim center for the care of severe burns in children.
The Shrine next opened a seven-bed ward in the Cincinnati
General Hospital on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, on February 1,
1964. The third facility was a five-bed ward, opened March 13, 1964, in the
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) under the direction of Harvard Medical
Over time, separate buildings were constructed as specialization
centers. These hospitals are world renowned for their treatment, research
and training. The medical techniques pioneered at these facilities prevent
the crippling effects of severe burns, making a normal life possible for
thousands of children who are burn victims.
The Shrine Burn Institute in Cincinnati created an air ambulance
for burn victims. This was the first air ambulance in the country devoted
exclusively to transporting burn victims.
One of the most important effects of the Shrine Burn Hospitals
has been the inspiration of the medical world to attend to this special need.
This has, in turn, led to the establishment of independent (non-Shrine) burn
centers throughout the world.
The Shrine Hospitals have maintained a leadership role in
children's orthopedic and burn care. In 1980, the Shrine Hospitals opened
their first spinal cord injury rehabilitation unit in Philadelphia, the first
spinal cord injury center in the United States specifically for children. Two
additional spinal cord injury centers were operating in the Chicago and San
Francisco Shrine Hospitals by 1984.
The Shrine Temples, and affiliated Shrine organizations
exemplify the spirit of the fraternalism of Freemasonry.
Temples are run by an elected Divan (Temple officers), which is
headed by the Potentate and the Chief Rabban. A Recorder (record keeper /
administrator) typically maintains an office at the Temple. Each year, one
member is elected or appointed to the "lower rung" of the Temple. Each
January, the Divan member moves up one "rung." By the time the Divan member
becomes Potentate of his Temple, he usually has at least four years of
experience in Temple leadership.
The Stated meetings of the Temple must be held at least four
times a year. Additionally, each Temple holds one or more ceremonials each
year for the initiation of it's new members. Each Temple has many individual
unit and Shrine Club social events each year.
Shrine units are smaller groups within a Temple. These are
organized for specific purposes. Many of these are the uniformed units which
appear in the parades. These include the Shrine bands, Oriental bands, horse
and motor patrols, the Highlander units, the Shrine clowns, the drum corps,
chanters, and the Legions of Honor. Other units can include the hospital
hosts, and the transportation units which work closely with their local
Shriners Hospital - either with the children at the particular hospital or in
transporting the various patients to and from the hospitals.
Each Temple operates with a clearly defined territory from which
it can gain new members. These jurisdictions are often sufficiently large,
such that smaller units may be organized for fellowship purposes. These are
the Shrine Clubs, which operate under the control of their mother Temple.
Any number of individual Temples may form a Shrine Association
for social conventions, under the authority of a charter, issued by the
While the Shrine may seem complex, it consistently maintains the
fraternal fellowship for which it was originally founded. Among the
membership, there are no strangers in the Shrine. This is quite apparent in
the fun times and the laughter, characteristic wherever Shriners assemble.
This joviality is found at any local Temple ceremonial, Shrine Club meeting,
Shrine Association gathering or at an Imperial Session. Shriners share not
only a Masonic background but an exuberance and zest for life.
Shrine Temple and convention activities also include the
Typically, Shrine Temples sponsor fund-raising events to provide
funds for Shriners Hospitals. These events, range from the East/West Shrine
Game and other football games to horse shows, hospital paper sales, and
miscellaneous sports and social events.
The Shrine devotes itself to the goal of remaining the "World's
Greatest Fraternity," operating and maintaining the "World's Greatest
ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR
In all of history, secret societies have always held an
attraction for women, as well as for men. History records that throughout the
ages, women had their own secret societies. Commonly, men were rigorously
excluded from these organizations.
The Eleusinian Mysteries, introduced by Eumolpus in 1356 B. C.
were founded in honor of Ceres and Proserpine. Anyone violating the
associated oath of admission, or revealing any of the secrets to the
uninitiated was punished with death. The same punishment awaited uninitiated
intruders at the ceremonies.
The Greek festival of Thesmophoria was held in the month of
Pyanepsion (October) in honor of the goddess Demeter. The festival lasted for
five days; only women were permitted to take part in it. For nine days
preceding the Festival, the women went apart and purified themselves in
various ways, in preparation for the actual festival. Participation Festival
was strictly limited to married women who were full citizens.
In Gibbon's "History of Rome," we find a female Order in the
fourth century, among the Roman women. Men were never permitted to be
present, or even to be made acquainted with the nature of the function.
Today, it is still impossible to say what ceremonies were practiced.
There have been secret societies for women which imitate
Freemasonry, for more than two centuries. The first of these are believed to
have been first organized in France about 1730. Many of such rites still
exist in other parts of Europe and the United States as distinct Rites. In
the United States, many Adoptive Rites were organized, but none were
successful until the Order of the Eastern Star was instituted.
The Order of Eastern Star is believed to be the largest Order of
women in the world. The Order of the Eastern Star advocates the value of
women in society and in the Masonic system, advocating charity, virtue,
intelligence and the influence of the female members of the Masonic families.
The Order encourages and stimulates the excitement of the Masonic system to
its friends, serving to succeed in its designs and expand the system. The
society often serves as an auxiliary to the Masonic order, assisting with many
of the Masonic "Blue Lodge" functions.
The Order of the Eastern Star is said to be an 'Adoptive Rite,'
implying that the Orders are formed under the supervision and control of a
Master Masons Lodge and are thus termed, 'adopted.' In modern practice, the
Eastern Star operates quite independently, however.
The term ‘adoptive’ is originally attributed to the
organizations established for the initiation of females under the French
systems, which were given the name of "Adoptive Masonry," Maconnerie d'
Adoption, and the Lodges are called Loges d' Adoption, or "Adoptive Lodges."
This system required every Lodge of females to be adopted by, and to be placed
under the guardianship of a regular Masonic lodge.
In the modern sense, this term is badly outdated, as the term
"Adoptive" implies the power of control and government. Certainly, today,
such control is not exercised by the Masonic body over the Order of the
Eastern Star. As currently used, 'adoptive' refers to the system of
ceremonies, forms and lectures, communicated to the members, being
predominantly ladies. The associated ladies
are typically related by blood or marriage to Master Masons in
good standing, and are entitled to the Masonic respect and attention of the
Fraternity. Currently, the term only refers to the means by which the women
associated with Freemasons are 'adopted' into Freemasonry. The Order of the
Eastern Star is modeled after Freemasonry.
The basic body of the Order is called a "Chapter of the Order of
the Eastern Star," composed of both females and males (Master Masons). Each
chapter consists of not less than seven ladies (quorum), related to Master
Masons in good standing. The female members are called Sisters; male members,
The benefit of the Eastern Star is primarily for women. The
magnitude of benefit will obviously depend on the spirit with which the
membership of each Chapter enters into and conducts their affairs.
PURPOSE OF THE ORDER
The Order of the Eastern Star offers the families of Masons
social events connected with the order. The organization enlists the sympathy
and support of its membership for additional charitable work of the Masonic
body; to assist widows and orphans in need, and travelers in distress.
The Order has become "a strong right arm of Masonry," assisting
nobly in its charitable enterprises, adding much to the functional and social
life of the Masonic fraternity.
The Eastern Star instills the deepest realization of the
beauties of the moral virtues, the obligations of friendship, and the duties
of womanhood. There are five major principles emphasized in the Order
represented by the five lessons, or ‘Degrees,’ based on five female characters
and their associated stories and moral lessons, as drawn from the Bible.
THE DEGREES OF THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR
The five "degrees" are formulated with five illustrative
features; Color, Emblem, Flower, Symbol and Lesson.
1. ADAH, Jephthah's daughter, is the character in the
First Degree who illustrates loyalty, fidelity, integrity, filial devotion and
the respect to the binding force of a vow, as drawn from Judges xi. 30 - 40.
She is further symbolized by the BLUE point of the star, also illustrated by
the symbol of the "Sword and Veil." Her flower is the violet, her symbol being
the open Bible.
(From Macoy’s Adoptive Rite)
2. RUTH, is the character in the Second Degree who
illustrates constancy reward of industry, honor, justice, loyalty and devotion
in life and to religious principles, as drawn from Ruth 1:16,17. She is
further symbolized by the YELLOW point of the star, also illustrated by the
emblem of the "sheaf of wheat," – more accurately, "Culms of Barley." Her
flower is the Lily of the Valley, her symbol being the yellow Jasmine.
(From Macoy’s Adoptive Rite)
3. ESTHER, is the character in the Third Degree, as
drawn from Esther iv. 2,-vii. 2-5. She illustrates purity, joy, justice,
courage and fidelity to both kindred and friends. She is further symbolized
by the WHITE point of the star, also illustrated by the emblem of the joined
"Crown and Sceptre." Her flower is the white Lily, her symbol being the Sun.
(From Macoy’s Adoptive Rite)
4. MARTHA, is the character in the fourth degree who
illustrates nature's life and beauty, undeviating faith in the hour of trial
and the immortality of the soul; drawn from the eleventh Chapter of John. She
is further symbolized by the GREEN point of the star, also illustrated by the
emblem of the "Broken Column." Her flower is the Fern, her symbol being the
(From Macoy’s Adoptive Rite)
5. ELECTA, is the character in the fifth degree who
illustrates endurance, love, patience, generosity and submission under wrongs
and when demanded in the service and defense of truth. Her character is
founded on that of Electa, or "the elect [chosen] lady" as illustrated in the
Second Epistle of John. She is further symbolized by the RED point of the
star, also illustrated by the emblem of the "Cup." Her flower is the red Rose,
her symbol being the Lion.
(From Macoy’s Adoptive Rite)
Currently, the Order of the Eastern Star is among the largest
fraternal organizations on the planet, with a combined male and female
membership. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million
members under the authority of the General Grand Chapter.
It should be emphasized that the Order of Eastern Star is
strictly a social order for persons with spiritual values – the Order is not a
religion. The Order’s appeal to its membership comes from the beauty of
refreshing and character-building lessons, which are portrayed in the
ritualistic work of the Chapter Room. Beyond the unique lessons of morality,
the Order dynamically creates deep and lasting bonds among its individual
members. The Eastern Star stresses a relationship of sisterly and brotherly
love through its principles, exemplified in the daily lives of the individual
These Order’s principles are further exemplified by its
participation in the various charities of the Eastern Star, along with other
Masonic charities. The Order of Eastern Star is composed of women and men
with deep spiritual convictions. The Order is open to all faiths believing in
a Supreme Being. The personal welfare and benefit of the Order's members is a
major part of the Order. The Order’s emphasis on fellowship makes it a
privilege to help another member whenever possible. The Order labors to
endeavor in the advancement of the causes of various charities, education,
science and fraternal organizations.
THE GENERAL GRAND CHAPTER BUILDING
The International Eastern Star Temple and the associated offices
of the General Grand Chapter are now located in Washington, D.C. One of the
main features is found in the Reception room of the Temple; an oil painting of
Dr. Morris, donated by the Grand Chapter of Kentucky. The painting was
unveiled by his grand daughter, Miss Ella Morris Mount, the Past Grand Matron
and Grand Secretary of Kentucky.
THE MORRIS HOME
Dr. Morris' home in LaGrange, Kentucky is the property of the
Grand Chapter of Kentucky, being maintained as a shrine honoring of the Master
Builder of the Eastern Star Order.
After many years of legal negotiations, the title to the
original "Little Red Brick School Building in Mississippi" was finally
obtained by the Grand Chapter of Mississippi. The building and grounds are
maintained as a Shrine; honoring of Dr. Morris' writing of the Ritual in
"THE LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE"
Like most such organizations, the Order of the Eastern Star
evolved from an interesting, but turbulent history. The Order of Eastern Star
contains such an illuminating profile of human nature, that justice requires
more elaboration than the ‘usual’ historical presentations, contained herein.
The origination of the Order of Eastern Star is primarily
credited to the efforts of Rob Morris – a great Mason in every respect. The
Order of Eastern Star was inspired from an obvious need to include women
within Freemasonry, with the associated ritual inspired by the concepts of the
French 'adoptive' degrees, sometimes referred to as "androgynous Masonry"
(from two Greek words signifying "man" and "woman"), established in France in
1730, under the name of Adoptive Masonry, with its associated Lodges called
"Adoptive Lodges." These became the
original model for Morris' degrees.
To more easily understand the history of the Order of Eastern
Star it is necessary to identify three distinct periods of its development -
1. The First Period from 1849 to 1866, under the single
leadership of Dr. Rob Morris, founder of the Order.
2. The Second Period from 1866 to 1876, under the subordinated
leadership of Robert Macoy.
3. The Third Period, extending from the formation of the
current Eastern Star General Grand Chapter, in 1876 - onward.
THE FIRST PERIOD
The first period accounts for the Order’s initial development.
The detailed historical origins of the Order will probably remain as a
mystery, given that the history of Freemasonry, itself, contains endless
information dead-ends, forcing the reader to rely on a personal estimation of
probable facts. It should be mentioned that it is important to distinguish an
educated estimate of probable truth from arbitrary conjecture.
Most indications trace the Order to distinct French origins, as
early as 1703. The typical historical opinion cites the origins of "Female
Masonry" - also referred to as the "Androgynous Degrees" – those being degrees
designed for both men and women. France was the origin of many of the "Side
Degrees," including Degrees conferred on ladies, such as the "The Mason's
Daughter," "Heroines of Jericho", "Danger in the Dark", "Tall Cedars of
Lebanon", etc. Most of these quickly fell into decay. However, the Heroines
of Jericho and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon did manage to survive.
As the Order of Eastern Star is know today, its roots trace to
Dr. Rob Morris, with the assistance of Robert Macoy. While Macoy played a
very important role in the growth of the Order, historians readily agree that
Macoy’s role was the expansion on the writings and philosophies of Rob Morris.
For all of the energies of Macoy, Morris is to be credited for
modernizing and enhancing the original rituals associated with the Eastern
Star; and certainly for establishing a systemized Eastern Star government.
Again, Morris is cited for originating his work in 1849.
In Morris’ documents, he claimed that he personally received the
degrees of the Eastern Star in the year 1849 'by communication.' This was one
of the customary modes for transmitting a variety of Masonic degrees.
Referring to the Engle history, Morris received his Eastern Star degree from
Giles M. Hillyer, of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Although Morris isn’t cited as
a member of a particular Chapter, it can’t be viably or responsibly argued
that he was never a member of the Order; he was a member.
Rob Morris, was born on August 31st, 1818, near Boston; and
raised in New York. Morris was originally educated as a lawyer and as an
educator. Morris married Charlotte Mendenhall, fathering several children.
Morris was brought into Masonic light on March 5th, 1846, in the
Lodge of Oxford, Mississippi, at age twenty-eight. In that time frame, Morris
was serving as the principal of the Mt. Sylvan academy. Morris is remembered
for his aptitude for learning and research. Morris was fascinated by the
mysterious and the occult. Freemasonry seemed to have captivated Morris’ mind
and soul. Morris' Masonic labors seemed to have found their way into every
department of the Masonic fraternity. Morris wrote on almost every aspect of
Masonic jurisprudence, rituals, handbooks, poetry and history.
Morris is well remembered as an accomplished author and poet,
having written numerous works on Masonry. The most popular of his works are,
"The Lights and Shadows of Masonry" and "Free Masonry in the Holy Land;" a
worthwhile book for any Mason. The latter being an outstanding book of
personal adventure and travel – a true life saga! Morris wrote over four
hundred poems, with one of his best known works being the poem, "We meet upon
the Level and we part upon the Square."
Morris was an accomplished Mason; being highly influential in
the development of the Ritual of the American Masonic Lodges. In 1858, Rob
Morris was elected as Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons, in Kentucky. In
1860 Morris drafted the Constitution of the Kentucky Grand Lodge. Morris also
passed through the various chairs of the Blue Lodge, the Royal Arch Chapter,
The York Rite Council, Commandery and the Consistory. Morris expended a
tremendous energy in his early manhood, in his studies of Masonic history and
the Masonic rituals, codes, principles and tenets of the Craft. While the
attainment of the status of Grand Master is a tremendous honor by itself,
Morris is still best remembered as being the patriarch of the Order of the
As an indicator of his prominence, in 1878, a group of devoted
followers – Master Masons - wrote a biography of his life, entitled,
"The Well Spent Life." It was written ten years before his death!
From this work, modern Masons should be satisfied that in the
‘peak’ years of Freemasonry, outstanding individuals were honored and
emulated. The suggestion being that one of the ingredients for the Craft
success was the active recognition of contributors, equally prominent as
Despite Morris’ devotion to the Masonic community, Morris needed
an income; eventually turning to the Eastern Star organization for that
income. While the subject can be debated, Morris has often been criticized
for profiting through the propagation of the degrees. Although few care
today, it is necessary to cite the descriptor of 'mercenary' having been
assigned to Morris' efforts, perhaps the only question upon his Masonic
THE ORDER PROGRESSES
In the vicinity of 1855, Morris instituted the Eastern Star’s
"Supreme Constellation," which asserted itself as being the supreme authority
of the Order; setting forth the rules and laws for the government of the rite.
The organization was a small handful of personalities. Morris assumed the
title of "Most Enlightened Grand Luminary;" joined by three others, bearing
The subordinate local bodies were labeled as "Constellations,"
these being formed from the petition of not less than five Master Masons,
operating under a charter, which authorized them to confer the five degrees of
the American Rite in accordance with the rituals and ceremonies arranged by
Morris. The ritual provided five "pillars" and five "correspondents." These
were composed of not more than twenty-five of each sex; the Constellations
being connected with a Master Mason's Lodge.
By the first part of 1856 over seventy-five charters had been
issued throughout the United States; with nearly three hundred Constellations
in existence, a year later.
By 1857, Morris was embroiled in a monetary dispute over the
degrees of the Order. It was generally thought that his connection with the
Supreme Constellation denied Morris the opportunity to continue selling the
degrees, even for an almost token amount. As a result, Morris suffered a
repudiation by the Supreme Constellation, which fell to an indifferent
existence for several years under an alternate ritual, before dying.
Morris continued with his degree propagation — for a fee — with
some slight variations in the names of the offices; as well as some changes in
the ritual. Morris discarded the word "Constellation;" substituting,
"Family;" while enabling the former members of the "Constellations" to retain
their full rights and privileges in the new "Families." Between 1860 and 1867,
over a hundred "Families" had been instituted. However, there was still no
formal organization of the Order, in the strict sense of the term.
THE SECOND PERIOD
By 1866 Morris enlisted the assistance of the Robert Macoy of
New York. Macoy was nothing less than an energetic personality; formulating
and publishing an Eastern Star manual and several rituals for the Order. By
1868 Morris succumbed to a sense of adventure, leaving for Jerusalem,
subordinating the Order's prerogatives to Macoy, in his absence. While in the
Holy Land, Morris successfully organized the first Masonic Lodge in Jerusalem,
Royal Solomon No. 1, becoming the first Master.
Robert Macoy was a publisher, by trade, but he was also
well-known as an enthusiastic Mason. He was active in his mother lodge -
Lebanon No. 13 (now 191) of New York, as well as in the Royal Arch Chapter,
the Council, the Commandery, and in the Scottish Rite.
Macoy was awarded the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, but he is
probably best remembered among Masons as the past Grand Secretary and Deputy
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge and as Grand Recorder of the Commandery of New
Most certainly, Macoy is remembered for his efforts in expanding
the Order of the Eastern star, and particularly being the creator of the
Chapter system in the Order of the Eastern Star. As a publisher, Macoy played
no small role in assisting members in their work and knowledge of the Craft.
In 1849, Macoy began his Masonic publishing career in New York.
His first Masonic work was THE MASTER WORKMAN, still republished, today.
In 1859, Macoy joined with Daniel Sickels, another well known
Masonic author, in a partnership. This was the time of the Civil War.
Following the war, Masonry began to grow. It would seem that the Craft had a
healing effect on people’s minds. Accordingly, many Masonic books were
published during this period.
In 1867, Rob Morris announced his intention of going to the Holy
Land to conduct investigations; and to write. With Morris’ blessings, Macoy
took over the Eastern Star.
Macoy energetically reorganized Adoptive Masonry into Chapters
and produced the ritual of THE ADOPTIVE RITE, originally published in 1868.
That work became the essence of the "standard," for Eastern Star ritual; even
Eventually, Macoy sold his printing business, but remained
active in spreading the lore of the Craft. In 1885 Macoy published the first
edition of THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER'S ASSISTANT.
In 1895, Macoy had completed THE AMARANTH RITUAL; published
posthumously. Reprints are still available.
Following Morris' departure to the Holy Land, Macoy made an
attempt to establish a supreme governing body for the Order, called the
"Supreme Grand Chapter of the Adoptive Rite of the Order of the Eastern Star."
Under his new body, Macoy assumed the titles of Grand Secretary and National
Grand Secretary. Macoy's new Eastern Star body issued charters for more than
seven hundred subordinate Chapters in the United States and in foreign
countries. Macoy termed these organizations, "chapters," borrowing the
designation of "Chapter," from the Royal Arch body of Freemasonry; the term,
"chapter" prevailed to modern times.
In October 1867, under Macoy's leadership, sixty delegates from
fifteen Chapters met in Adrian, Michigan; forming a Grand Lodge of Adoptive
Masonry. A number of rituals were exemplified; with what became known as the
"Tatem Work" being selected. The Grand Matron, called the "Grand Worthy
President," was made the executive head of the body.
Between1867 and 1868, Macoy compiled his first Eastern Star
ritual, which was modeled after Morris' "Rosary of the Eastern Star"
(published in 1865). The new ritual served the major expansion of the Order
of the Eastern Star, in the United States as well as foreign countries.
In 1869 the ritual used in Michigan was revised from the "Tatem
Monitor;" with a funeral ceremony being included. The following year Macoy
advanced the complaint that his ritual and burial service had been illegally
appropriated without permission. A special committee was appointed to attend
to Macoy's complaint. The committee finally denied Macoy's claim of any legal
rights to the ritual itself, but did concede Macoy's ownership of the funeral
service. Hence, its use was prohibited by Michigan Grand Chapter. In the
subsequent year, a locally devised funeral service was formulated and adopted.
In 1876 a new ritual was promulgated, known as the "Michigan Ritual."
Macoy became famous for his endeavors to make the work of the
Order more standardized, adapting the ritual to organized Chapters, so as to
assure their success. Again, Macoy used Morris' "Rosary of the Eastern Star"
as the basis his more detailed ritual for the use of the Eastern Star.
However, Macoy, seized on the new body as a profitable business.
The Grand Secretary of the Supreme Grand Chapter (Macoy) was, in reality, the
entire functioning Grand body. Several persons were granted purely honorary
positions, however. Macoy successfully turned the Order into a rich source of
income, selling charters, rituals and a variety of supplies; selling directly
and through various appointed agents. Later, when Morris returned from his
journey to the Holy Land, Morris joined in the profit-taking, issuing charters
under the title of "M\ E\
Grand Patron;" Morris signing as its Grand Secretary.
The Order of the Eastern Star reacted negatively to the
profit-taking, with the Order initially spreading very slowly, due the
perceived selfish and mercenary motives of both Macoy and Morris. In time,
the pace of growth increased, following the general desire and trends of the
male Masonic members, who desired a permanent concordant institution. This in
the light of a rational approach to comparable protective and social purposes
associated with the Blue Lodges. Despite all objections, Macoy's efforts led
to the ultimate direction of his organization being the effective Eastern Star
supervisory body with ample powers.
It should be noted that in this time frame of Masonic history,
there were internal tangible benefits to belonging to the Masonic groups. It
should also be noted that this time frame held women in a very domestic role,
without their having been given the right to vote.
The first Eastern Star Grand Chapter (state level) of the Order
was organized in Michigan in 1867, under the Macoy Adoptive Rite. By the end
of three more years, Grand Chapters were organized in Mississippi, New Jersey
and New York. By the end of 1876, Grand Chapters had been organized in
Illinois, Indiana, California, Vermont, Connecticut, Nebraska, Missouri,
Arkansas and Massachusetts.
Despite the apparent authority of Macoy's organization, there
were a series of alternate Grand Bodies formed, which supplemented the efforts
of Macoy and Morris; by setting up new elements of the rite. This was
comparable to the battle between the "Antients" and "Moderns" of the original
English Masonic organization efforts. Several of these Grand bodies issued
charters to not only subordinates in their own jurisdictions, but also granted
permission for groups in other states to form Chapters. Among these new Grand
bodies were the Grand Chapter of New York, granting charters to Chapters in
Maryland, Kentucky, and Wyoming in 1879 and 1880. In 1879, the Grand Chapter
of California issued permission to three Chapters in the State of Nevada, and
the Grand Chapter of Mississippi; these, in turn, granted their authority to
form a Chapter in Florida, in 1876.
The seeming chaos came from the fact that there was no
recognized central authority to govern or supervise any of the individual
state Grand Bodies. The allegiance of the subordinate bodies to the Grand
Chapters creating them was to be described as being far more arbitrary than
concrete. Compounding the chaos was the fact that the Macoy and Morris bodies
were not initially required to express fealty, nor acknowledge any supervisory
authority over them.
There was simply no existing means or recognized authority to
resolve disputes between the various Grand Chapters; or even between any
Subordinate Chapters and Grand Chapters. There were simply too few associated
laws and regulations of the Eastern Star Order; these existing constraints
were few in number, also being crude and very non-systematic.
Ambition had gotten ahead of organization, with the obvious
price that there simply was no ultimate governing jurisprudence within the
Order, beyond the personality of Macoy. The printed Macoy rituals contained
little guidance, with the few rules being ambiguous, and inadequate;
eventually contributing to the chaos within the Order. In the seeming natural
course of events, these conditions resulted in the various jurisdictions
proceeding autonomously, gradually effecting their own body of rules. These
rules often diverged from the intended spirit of the institution and the
intent of the ritual. Most legislation ended up being in serious conflict
with the various other jurisdictions. As one might expect, several of the
jurisdictions strongly advocated measures to restrict the membership and
supervision of the Order to the female members, exclusively.
The traditional 'all-male' nature of Freemasonry posed a
conflict. With the gender-based (female) intents and needs being apparent;
the inherent Masonic (male) affiliation still mandated the male connection.
In the background of these affairs, many of the newly-formed Grand Chapters
were in a state of confusion, due to the dissimilar rituals and the adoption
of conflicting statutes for defining the role and status of male and female
members. Adding to the confusion were different standards serving to the
disadvantage of the male members. Typical among the conflicting issues were
such as regulations requiring male members to pay double the female fees and
dues, also often depriving the Brethren of the Eastern Star the right to vote
upon applications for membership, as well as upon elections of officers.
By the summer of 1873, the confusion had reached the point of
being intolerable. In consequence, a major effort was put forth to establish
a sound and viable Supreme Grand Council with world-wide jurisdiction. A
meeting was held at New York, effecting a provisional organization, with Macoy,
ironically, designated as the Supreme Grand Patron, and Morris as the Supreme
Recorder. The new organization created additional officers to represented the
States of New York, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
The new institution was scheduled to meet in New Orleans in
December of 1874, to complete the formation of the new organization. A
Committee on Constitution and Regulations was also appointed to report to the
previous meeting held in New York in September of 1873. Unfortunately, this
committee had failed to report, as scheduled; thus the provisional body also
failed to meet, condemning the proposed Supreme Grand Council. The abortive
effort did, however, create the needed emotional energy and cleared an
eventual path for the creation of an enduring central governing body. That
effort began in 1874, continuing until the final establishment of the General
Grand Chapter in 1876; independent of Macoy’s influence.
THE THIRD PERIOD
Indiana became the birthplace of the dynamic movement, resulting
in the independent General Grand Chapter. Of particular note were the
energies of the Rev. Willis D. Engle, of Indianapolis. Engle was elected as
the first General Grand Secretary, continuing in that capacity for many years.
Engle devoted his energies in the direction of a more systematic
administration of the Order. The result was the fruition in the final
formation of the Eastern Star General Grand Chapter. Engle energetically
engaged the project of overcoming the existing crudeness of the Order.
Engle’s major engagement was in dealing with the widespread disapproval of
the Macoy and Morris profit-taking. Engle was possessed of the required
boldness, and energy to fend off the wrath of the Macoy and Morris die-hard
Engle also later authored the book, "History of the Eastern
Star," -  an excellent history of the Order. Still later, Harold
Voorhis also wrote a complementary Eastern Star history, "The Eastern
Star – the Evolution from a Rite to an Order" – 
The Grand Chapter efforts succeeded, with the organizational
efforts rapidly growing. In 1875, the Grand Chapters of Missouri, Indiana,
Mississippi, California and New Jersey had adopted resolutions expressing a
sincere interest to join in the formation of a supreme governing body.
However there was not yet a call for a convention for that particular
Indiana once again took the lead. In 1876, at the Grand Chapter
meeting of Indiana, the Grand Patron directed attention to the adoption of the
various resolutions of the sister bodies, illustrating as a demonstration of
respect for the formation of a central authority. The Grand Patron effected a
call for a convocation of the representatives of the various Grand Chapters;
also soliciting a committed time and place for the meeting.
The Indiana Grand Chapter successfully formed and adopted a
rather complex resolution citing the immediate need and movement, designed to
insure the uniformity of the Order's work, the modes of recognition, and the
associated regulations to govern the eligibility for membership to the Order.
The various Grand Chapters were invited to appoint seven delegates. The
Grand Patron and Grand Matron were named, ex officio, with full authority and
power to effect whatever means necessary to achieve the desired end. The
decision was that the delegates would meet for the purpose of that
organizational effort, in Indianapolis on November 8, 1876. A delegation of
seven members, including the Indiana Grand Patron and Grand Matron, was
selected to represent Indiana.
A timing problem arose, with the U.S. Presidential election
causing a change in the meeting schedule, with the meeting being postponed
until November 15, 1876. On the newly appointed date, the delegates met at
the Masonic Temple in Indianapolis, organizing the General Grand Chapter,
At the General Grand Chapter formation, ten Grand Chapters had
been formed: New York, New Jersey, California, Mississippi, Vermont, Indiana,
Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska and Arkansas. Five of these, California, New
Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri were represented at the meeting; with
two others having stated that they were favorable to the national
As might be expected in the course of human efforts, there were
some problems. New York and New Jersey were to later withdraw from the
General Grand Chapter jurisdiction. New Jersey re-joined the General Grand
Chapter in 1904, but was rejected in 1907, over practices which were deemed
The 1876 convention finally produced an acceptable Constitution;
and a committee was appointed to prepare a standardized ritual. To
accommodate the obvious problem, the Most Worthy Grand Patron was granted
authority to issue - without cost - the needed dispensations to all of the
subordinate Chapters, which held charters from the Macoy and Morris Supreme
Grand Chapters. However, the original Constitution contained limited
authority by the General Grand Chapter. Similar to the U.S. Constitution,
the provisions reserved the bulk of any rights of the individual state Grand
Chapters, and their Subordinate Chapters, and to the members individually, all
powers not specifically delegated to the General Grand Chapter. This
provision served to fully dispose of any possible recognition of the
subsequent and passionate claims of Macoy. The new Constitution also provided
for the uniformity/standardization of the basic Chapter ritual and contained a
ritual for the installation of officers.
The new General Grand Chapter was recognized by Michigan in
1877; and in 1878 its jurisdiction over the Eastern Star in Michigan was
formally acknowledged. The rather independent Michigan Eastern Star laws and
ritual were also revised to conform to the regulations of the National Grand
On May 8 -10, 1878, the second meeting of the General Grand
Chapter was held in Chicago, with seven Grand Chapters being represented. By
then, five of the Macoy Chapters had exchanged their charters, with five
additional Chapters having been organized.
The third session of the new General Grand Chapter was also held
in Chicago, with a total of eleven Grand Chapters being represented. By the
time of the third meeting, one more Macoy Chapter had exchanged its charter,
with the two charters issued by the Grand Chapter of New York – to Maryland
and Wyoming - surrendered for others of the General Grand Chapter. That, of
course, switched fealty from New York to the new General Grand Chapter.
Eleven more Chapters were also formed, in addition to two more Grand
The third meeting in 1880, was attended by Rob Morris, who was
made an honorary member; and awarded the title of "Master Builder of the Order
of the Eastern Star," conferred by the General Grand Chapter. The date of
August 31st, Morris' birthday, was designated as the official Festal Day of
the Order, to be observed with special programs.
Despite the conferred honors, it may be assumed that Morris had
reservations. The power behind the trend for a supreme governing chapter was
obvious. This also flew in the face of the fact that the Master Mason Lodges
did not see fit to form a national controlling body. Whatever his
reservations, Morris quietly acquiesced.
In Morris’ address at the third meeting of the General Grand
Chapter in 1880, he acknowledged the General Grand Chapter honors conferred
upon him. Morris also expressed his disapproval of the adversarial course
pursued by Macoy. However, Morris also spoke to what he considered to be
improper treatment of Macoy at the organization of the General Grand Chapter.
Morris openly acknowledged that the organization of the General Grand Chapter
had marked the Order as having been established as an enduring organization.
Morris also prophesied that in time, experience would demonstrate the General
Grand Chapter's utility to Freemasonry.
Morris’ honors were not confined to the Eastern Star; in 1884
over 500,000 Master Masons — world wide - expressed their desire that Morris
be crowned with the laurel wreath, symbolizing him as a Poet Laureate of
Masonry. That event was more than one hundred years after the first Poet
Laureate, Robert Burns, received the honor. It is worth noting that Burns
wrote few poems about Freemasonry, versus Morris’ more than 400.
The fourth meeting of the General Grand Chapter was convened in
San Francisco, August 17, 1883, with a total of twelve Grand Chapters being
represented. By then, two more Macoy Chapters had exchanged their charters;
an additional twenty-seven new Chapters had been formed. Another Grand
Chapter - Ontario - had also been organized.
The fifth meeting of the General Grand Chapter was held in St.
Louis on September 23, 1886, with the meeting lasting for three days; with
ten Grand Chapters being represented. One more Macoy Chapter exchanged its
charter for a new warrant from the National Body.
The 1886 meeting was to be Morris' last attendance of a meeting
of the General Grand Chapter. Morris stood by the organization until his
death (Polio), on July 31, 1888. Morris was buried in La Grange, Kentucky;
where admiring friends from all over the world erected a tall marble shaft in
his memory. One side of the shaft displays the Masonic Square and Compasses;
the other side displaying the Five Pointed Star of the Order of the Eastern
The sixth session of the General Grand Chapter, met in
Indianapolis on September, 1889; with twelve Grand Chapters represented. The
reports cited the organization of twenty-eight new Chapters and four more
Grand Chapters - Washington, South Dakota, Indian Territory and Ohio. The
withdrawal of New Jersey from General Grand Chapter (effective 1887) was also
While the New Jersey Grand Chapter originally assisted in the
organization of the General Grand Chapter, adopting its ritual, in 1880 New
Jersey withdrew. Strangely, a year later New Jersey rescinded this action
and rejoined General Grand Chapter, but in 1887, New Jersey again withdrew.
For a short period of time, New Jersey used its own unique ritual, but
eventually adopted the ritual of the General Grand Chapter in 1890; used, ever
Unfortunately, Macoy remained antagonistic to the General Grand
Chapter, unlike Morris, who had come to appreciate the internal need for
autonomous control of the Order. Morris came to gracefully accepted the
autonomous destiny of the institution, while the antagonism of Macoy was very
deep-seated; and lasted until his death. Most attribute the animosity to
Macoy's profit motives; given that Macoy had derived a handsome sum from the
sale of rituals, charters and other supplies. While the profit motive was not
particularly offensive, by itself, the combination of the control, monopoly
and personality struck a nearly universal nerve, within the Craft.
Despite Macoy's vitriolic reactions, his contributions to the
Order were appropriately recognized in the movement of Freemasonry.
Regardless of motive, the Order duly credits Macoy for having labored for a
systematic arrangement of the Order's ritual. Following Macoy’s death, his
efforts were appropriately heralded by the General Grand Chapter in 1895. The
General Grand Chapter issued a report, ordering that Macoy’s name be enrolled
upon the General Grand Chapter Memorial Scroll, even though Macoy had never
been either a member under the General Grand Chapter, nor was he ever
connected with any affiliated body.
It should also be noted that the publishing company bearing his
name is still very much in business, being a major supplier of the Craft.
By 1901, only two remaining Independent Grand Chapters - New
York and New Jersey existed. By this time, Eastern Star Chapters had also
been organized in British Columbia, the Hawaiian Islands, and India;
additional subordinate chapters had been organized in Scotland. The Order was
now a distinctly international society.
The independence of the Grand Chapters of New York and New
Jersey warrants discussion:
The original Chapter in New York State was Alpha, No. 1,
located in New York City, having been organized in December of 1868. In 1870,
when the Grand Chapter of New York was organized, there were a total of twenty
Chapters, fourteen of which had united to form the Grand Body. Under that
structure, the Grand Patron was designated as the executive head of the Order.
The Grand Matron served only as a figure-head, with few duties assigned; and
she was not required to make any report or address. By modern standards, that
would strike most as shocking.
In1873 Macoy, being Grand Patron of New York, attended the New
Jersey Grand Chapter session, to congratulate the body on its success. In
1874, the New York Grand Chapter had recognized the New Jersey Grand Chapter.
Eastern Star officers and the Worthy Patron's lecture were added to the work
in 1875. In the following year the new Macoy ritual was adopted.
In 1877, Macoy, in his report on correspondence to the New York
Grand Chapter session, attacked the General Grand Chapter, attempting to
establish the New York Grand Chapter as "the parent Grand Chapter of the
world." Accordingly, an effort was mounted to impose Macoy’s "Good Samaritan"
work upon the Order, in the form of a second or advanced degree. The effort
failed, due to an adverse committee report. A new Grand Chapter Constitution
was adopted for New York, which specified the New York authority as being
supreme within the state, at the same time authorizing the executive officers
to grant charters in all places wherever no Grand Chapter otherwise existed.
The New York Grand Chapter was making significant changes to the
ritual as early as 1873. In 1881, a committee was appointed to consider the
addition of new degrees. In 1882, the committee did suggest a list of radical
changes, However, that report was referred back to committee and tabled in
The "Amaranth" degree was first exemplified at the session of
the New York Grand Chapter in 1884.
The "Floral Addenda" of ALONZO J. BURTON, however, was
officially added to the Eastern Star ritual. In 1885 a regulation was adopted
which permitted the exemplification of the "Floral Addenda" in public, but
that same regulation was repealed in 1886. While another committee was
appointed to review the ritual in 1888; its report was also tabled in 1889. A
"Sisterhood" degree was adopted in 1895, as a ritualistic auxiliary
presentation, along with more additions made to the ritual, which included a
distress sign and a motto. In 1899, the "New York Ritual" work was formally
The independence of the New York Grand Chapter, strikes most as
being odd, generally accounted for by the citation of the left-over historic
influence of Macoy. It would almost seem that since his death, the elements
of tradition and habit, have served as the reasons for their declining to
unite with the General Grand Chapter. However, there also exists the
possibility that matters of money and property enter into the decision-making.
In New Jersey, the Order of Eastern Star was first established
at Keyport, in March of 1869. Two additional Chapters were formed; with these
three then organizing the Grand Chapter at Newark in July, 1870. The Grand
Matron was - by the Constitution - declared to be the presiding officer. In
1871 the word "Supreme" was stricken from the New Jersey ritual. In the
vicinity of 1871, Macoy independently chartered two Chapters subsequent to the
organization of the New Jersey Grand Chapter; and for that, he was called upon
the proverbial carpet. Thereafter, Macoy declined further participation in
the Order’s affairs in the State – but he did offer to sell supplies to the
New Jersey Order.
Again, New Jersey rejoined the General Grand chapter, once again
being expelled in 1907.
RITUALS OF THE EASTERN STAR
While being a bit complex, one of the more interesting, nigh
unto fascinating aspects of the Order, is the evolution of the modern Eastern
Star ritual. Especially for members, the Eastern Star ritual occupies a
special place in the Order; worthy of a history.
As previously illustrated, the early publication of the
different rules and laws, as well as rituals - and their many revisions -
created chaos, confusion and counter-productive diversity in a fraternal work
which demanded uniformity. Somewhere between necessity and desperation, the
situation was corrected with the vast majority of Grand Chapters being united
under one body, armed with a common ritual. Following the formation of the
General Grand Chapter (1876), committees compiled and edited a standardized
Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star. With rare exception, the ritual now
in use evolved from the 1876 Ritual. The evolution of the ritual is an
interesting history by itself.
Controversy demands that the "Thesauros" be the first document
to be considered. This ritual was claimed to have been originally published
in 1793, with various editions evolving until 1850. That claim flies in the
face of Morris’ claim that he essentially "invented" the Order of Eastern Star
in 1849. The reputation of the "Thesauros" purports to be a compendium of
the laws and ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star, supposedly arranged by a
committee of the Supreme Council. However, the authenticity of this
particular work is highly disputed; with historians generally agreeing that
the "Thesauros" was issued at a much later date - after the Eastern Star had
actually attained a significant degree of permanence. The motive behind the "Thesauros"
is highly suspect, to say the least.
According to the "Thesauros," the subordinate Eastern Star
bodies were denominated as "Constellations" and "Councils." Under the contents
of this document, the officers were not permitted to receive any remuneration
for services rendered; any treasury or permanent funds were prohibited. The
meetings of the "Thesauros" Order were to be held quarterly, with the officers
being the Principal, Vice-Principal, Treasurer, Secretary, and five Sisters of
the Rays - the Rays being designated as blue, orange, white, green, and red -
Jeptha's Daughter, Ruth, Esther, Martha, and Electa were represented in that
ritual. Again, most regard the document as a fraud.
Interestingly, Macoy used an Eastern Star seal which bore the
date of 1778 on some of his documents. Macoy claimed that the date was
representative of the prominent participation of women in Freemasonry, in the
United States. However, Morris – conversely - was passionate that 1849 was
the "official" date for the origin of the Order. Unfortunately, imperfections
of human nature left a statement by Morris, seeming to inadvertently
contradict his own statement in one of his own rituals – "The Mosaic Book."
THE MOSAIC BOOK
Morris’ original "Mosaic Book" was published in 1855, in New
York, under the authority of the Supreme Constellation of the American
Adoptive Rite. A second edition of the "Mosaic Book" was printed in 1857.
That ritual portrayed the Eastern Star officers of the constellations with
symbols of various animals and flowers. The officers and symbols were - Males
- Heleon (lion); Philomath (coiled snake); Verger (raven); Herald (eagle);
Warder (dove). These officials were designated as "Pillars." The succession
from the First Pillar to the Fifth Pillar, took place in the following order:
President of Council, Lieutenant, Treasurer, Secretary, and Keeper of Portals.
Each of the first four officers represented a Biblical character: JEPHTHAH,
BOAZ, AHASUERUS, and ST.JOHN. The female officers represented Luna (violets);
Flora (sunflower); Hebe (lilies); Thetis (pine branch); Areme (roses). The
associated officers were termed "Correspondents," ranked in the order named
from First Correspondent to Fifth Correspondent. These officers represented
ADAH, RUTH, ESTHER, MARTHA, and ELECTA.
[It should be noted, at this point, that modern members of
the order should appreciate the relative simplicity of the current
The Pillars were granted the authority to appoint the
Correspondents, elect candidates, to name their own successors, and to
designate the time and place of the meetings of the Order. A minimum of three
Pillars were required, to open a Constellation; with five of each gender being
required to perform the ritual.
At the meetings of the Order, the names of any persons not
entitled to attend were stricken from the roll by the Pillars and the
Correspondents. After a dramatic exchange between the Heleon and Warder,
relative to guarding the meeting-room, the officers assumed their stations.
The members were then admitted in male-female pairs. The entrance was
through a guarded labyrinth, passed through, in the process of entering the
meeting. During the entrance, the initiatory sign was delivered to the
officers during the passing of the labyrinth, with a return salutation and
responsive sign from the officers. When the members arrived before Heleon,
they were to display a tessera (a metallic star or another identifying
instrument) which was examined. When found to be correct, the members were
In the original "Mosaic Book" ritual, following specific
Scriptural readings, the signs and symbols were then rehearsed. When compared
to the opening ceremony, the concluding ceremony was quite brief, by contrast;
and included a prayer.
At the beginning of the initiatory ceremony the candidate was
formally welcomed, and presented with a small Bible. The Candidate was first
conducted to Heleon, and obligated by him, then taken through a "labyrinth,"
representing a star, during that process, the five degrees were conferred. In
this portion of the initiatory work, one of the Correspondents represented the
candidate. All of the degrees, except MARTHA were modeled after dramatic
lines, which required much histrionic ability, as well as a considerable
amount of stage paraphernalia. Additionally, lengthy lectures on the Order
symbolism and morality accompanied the degrees; which were delivered by Heleon.
In the second edition of the "Mosaic Book," verbiage was
substituted for the various symbols, omitting the references to the laws and
illustrations of the signs.
THE MORRIS MANUAL
The "Morris Manual" was published in 1860; having been uniquely
designed for communicating the degrees. In the associated lectures of the
"Morris Manual," the nature of Freemasonry and its advantages to women were
explained. The associated symbolism of the signs, signet, emblems, and colors
were explained in the new manuscript. The ritual additionally contained a
detailed obligation of secrecy. Morris later published a Book of
Instructions, to be used in conjunction with his new manual. That supplement
also included the use of a social grip and a hailing sign; and originated a
display called a "membership board." This "board" was a device with the
appropriate colored rays, which extended from the center to a rim of double
lines; these were imprinted with virtues, such as "affection," "charity,"
In the "Morris Manual" work, the Patron and Patroness were named
as the exclusive judges of the candidates and the membership in the "Family,"
as Morris termed the bodies. The ritual was very similar to the ritual
contained in the Mosaic Book. The ritual related the virtues of ADAH, RUTH,
ESTHER, MARTHA, and ELECTA to corresponding flowers, drawing upon appropriate
lessons from the lives of the characters. In that ritual, each of the Sisters
was required to select one of the five flowers as her life emblem. In 1865,
Morris published a revision to these works; the "Rosary of the Eastern Star."
This version contained shortened lectures, with the "degrees" re-classified as
The "Morris Manual" work included the traditions of the "Veil,"
the "Barley Field," the "Crown, Robe, and Scepter," the "Uplift Hands," and
the "Martyr's Cross." In a surprising departure from the normal practices of
Masonry, a Christian association was also made in the story of each degree.
Then, in 1866, Morris published yet another revision of the
ritual, "The Ladies' Friend," published by G. W. BROWN, of Michigan. This
work was a significant revision, with the secret work being indicated in the
encoded initials-only manner, familiar to members.
THE TATEM RITUAL
In 1867, John H. Tatem of Adrian, Michigan, went to the trouble
of compiling and publishing an Eastern Star "Monitor," emulating the tradition
of the Master Masons’ "Blue" Lodges. This work was essentially a composite of
the Mosaic Book and the Morris Manual, with the addition of a new opening, a
new closing and new installation forms. This publication created a method of
communicating the cabalistic word and motto. According to this Eastern Star
Monitor, when a Mason perceived one of the signs given, he would immediately
write his name and the appropriate pass on a card; handing it to the person
making the sign. This manual also used the "initials" method for the secret
work. In Tatem's Monitor, the Matron became the Worthy President; with the
naming of the Patronas the Vice-President; ADAH, became the First Patron;
RUTH, the Second Patron, etc.
Macoy's first manual was issued in 1866. This manual initially
intended to impart the degrees by communication; also containing a pledge of
secrecy. Macoy's manual contained a grip, and illustrated the various
symbols, lectures and the general system of Adoptive Masonry.
THE ADOPTIVE RITE
In 1868 Macoy published a second manual, entitled the "Adoptive
Rite;" which styled himself as being the "Grand Secretary of the Supreme Grand
Chapter." This work provided the first effort for Chapter organization;
prescribing necklace-type jewels for the officers and specified the Chapter
room floor Star. This manual exempted the Masonic Brothers from the
initiation ritual, deeming a pledge of honor as being sufficient. This work
also contained the "covenant of adoption," requiring secrecy, obedience to
law, advice, sympathy and aid, as well as the avoidance of unjust and unkind
acts – very similar to the Masonic Blue Lodges.
The lectures delivered at the Star points were similar to those
discovered in former documents. Macoy specified an installation ceremony, a
ritual for a Chapter of Sorrow; and also a funeral service. These rituals
were specified to be delivered principally by the Patron. In 1874, Macoy
published his new "Adoptive Rite Revised," which provided for the meetings
beginning with a formal entry of the Chapter officers in procession and the
responses from the Star-point officers during the opening ceremonies of the
This new work also increased the number of officers to a total
of fourteen, and added the Matron's verbal part in the ceremonial explanation
of the emblems of the Star. The latest of these changes were procured from
what became known as the "California Ritual."
THE "RITUAL OF THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR"
The next in the series of Macoy's publications was the "Ritual
of the Order of the Eastern Star," which was issued in 1876. That work was
intended to be a detailed instruction manual for the organization, government,
and the ceremonies of the individual Chapters. This version also borrowed
heavily from the "California Ritual." The primary changes in the new ritual
were the introduction of the golden chain and the initiation of male members –
previously excluded. The new work also included a lecture to be delivered by
the Patron, which explained the signs and passes; which were obviously
borrowed from a pamphlet issued by a Grand Lecturer of New York.
This version of Macoy’s work additionally required the
Conductress, during the opening, to ascertain if all ladies present were
qualified and entitled to remain, while the Patron was required to assure that
all gentlemen were entitled to remain.
This latest work also contained a formula for organizing the
Chapters, a ritual for dedicating Chapters and burying the deceased. Two
years later, Macoy issued still another publication, which was entitled the
"Critical and Explanatory Notes." That publication contained portions of the
ritual of the newly formed and independent General Grand Chapter, which had
just been distributed.
The associated criticisms and explanations were essentially
reiterations of the previous versions of the work. Macoy imposed these
publications on the Order with heightened protest, particularly as to both the
cost and his financial profits from the sales.
Macoy naturally became defensive; reminding the Order that it
was Morris who had originated the Order and its ritualism and had subsequently
conveyed all his rights and authority to Macoy, prior to departing for
Jerusalem. Macoy "explained" his opposition to a formation of a General Grand
Chapter, in terms of his concern "that the spirit of innovation would destroy
all that to which so much labor had been devoted to build up." Macoy
passionately argued that the ritual of a National Body would effect confusion
and discord in the Order. Given his own role as the "Grand Secretary of the
Supreme Grand Chapter," this new position was indeed quite a paradox, nigh
Macoy next attempted to impose a work which he called the
"Standard," which was supposedly a definitive and correct exposition of the
Eastern Star ritual. In his "Standard," Macoy essentially copied the basic
arrangement of the General Grand Body ritual, subordinating the authority of
the Worthy Patron to that of the Worthy Matron. Macoy also borrowed from the
regulations of the General Grand Body, while retaining his own initiatory
ceremonials, among others, with some minor changes incorporated.
The Macoy "Standard" also included the degrees of the Amaranth,
the Queen of the South and the Matron's Administrative. Interestingly, these
last three degrees did not attract any significant attention at the time of
the publication of the book. However, the degree of the Amaranth took on an
unexpected spotlight, eventually evolving into a totally separate Order, by
1921. As of 1921, the Eastern Star membership was no longer a prerequisite to
join the Amaranth; however, the Masonic family connection is still required.
THE CALIFORNIA RITUAL
In 1873 the California Grand Chapter published its own
ceremonials, which included its own opening and closing ritual of the Chapter,
the ordered conduct of business, as well as installation forms and other parts
of the ritual. In the California work, the initiatory ceremonies were modeled
after those contained in the Adoptive Rite. This ritual additionally
prescribed the square and compasses as the official emblem of the Patron, with
collars – similar to the Master Mason’s Lodge - in the Order's five colors for
eight of the officers. In the California Ritual, the Star officers were
required to wear appropriately colored aprons and sashes. The altar was an
elaborate furnishing, with five glass sides, in different colors. It was also
ornamented with the emblematic designs, illuminated by a candle or a lamp
inside the altar. The altar was surrounded with kneeling cushions in five
colors. An illuminated five-pointed star was displayed in the East; sometimes
suspended above the Worthy Matron's station.
In that ritual, fourteen officers were required. The candidates
were required to kneel at the altar, for their obligation. This ritual
closely approached the Adoptive Rite, including the Adoptive Rite lectures,
with the degrees being conferred upon candidates, while standing. The
initiation of Master Masons, as opposed to the female candidates, consisted of
a unique form, an obligation, the signs, passes, grip and the cabalistic
motto, but it didn’t contain the OES lectures. A variety of relatively minor
ritual and verbiage changes were made - with a few small additions. That work
became popular under the descriptor of the "California Ritual." Four years
after its origin, the California induction ceremony was revised to eliminate
the unique form of initiation for Master Masons.
THE GENERAL GRAND CHAPTER RITUAL
In 1878, following the Macoy break-away, the General Grand
Chapter adopted its own ritual for the General Grand Chapter constituent
bodies.; meeting with instant approval within the new body. This ritual
introduced the "alarm-at-the-door," which is now practiced, along with the
"Grand Honors," for the elected members of Grand Chapter.
This ritual also mandated the signs and responses in the opening
ceremony, with specific prescribed prayers at the opening and closing. The
ritual included new lectures for RUTH, ESTHER and ELECTA, and the lecture for
MARTHA was expanded. The address of the Worthy Patron was completely revised,
with the Scriptural quotations in the Star labyrinth being sanctioned.
Appropriate neck jewels for the various officers were specified, and the
Worthy Patron was rendered subordinate to the Worthy Matron.
The ritual was revised in 1890, by the National Grand Body, with
a Marshal and Organist added. The lecture for ELECTA was revised and
abbreviated, with the Worthy Patron's part being rearranged and also
abbreviated. In 1901, the General Grand Chapter made a few more minor changes
in the ritual, dividing the monitorial work from the secret work, directing
that the publication of the secret work be contained in a separate volume.
THE MICHIGAN RITUAL
The "Michigan Ritual," was printed in 1875, issued by the state
Grand Chapter. This ritual essentially emulated the "Tatem Monitor," with a
few small changes.
THE NEW YORK RITUAL
The "New York Ritual" was an adoption of the Macoy publication,
with a change to the opening prayer; a closing prayer being added. The "New
York Ritual" added a citation of the Patron's duties in the opening ceremony.
This ritual underwent eight revisions and editions, published from 1876 to
1900. The Macoy "Star Lectures" were changed and abbreviated; also adding an
interrogatory relative to belief in the existence of a Supreme Being.
THE CROMBIE RITUAL
The "Crombie Ritual" was authored by John Crombie of Aberdeen,
Scotland, in 1889. This work was a composite of the "Morris Manual" and the
Macoy "Adoptive Rite;" meeting with little success.
THE LOWE EXPOSÉ
The mid 1800s witnessed a series of Masonic "exposés." In 1881,
Thomas Lowe, of Michigan, published an obviously intended "exposé" of the
degrees of the Eastern Star. The character of his revelations was evidenced
from his statement that his claimed disclosures were unlike anything which was
contained in any of the several monitors or manuals which could be purchased
in any book store.
The lectures contained in the ‘approved’ material was followed
somewhat closely by the subordinates, although the secret work had been
changed. As with other Masonic exposés, the readers of this exposé were led
to understand that Lowe had a loathing against secret societies. However,
most perceived his motive as an effort in profit-making. History records that
few people were particularly interested in the exposure; and the effort was
probably a failure, either as an exposé or a profit-maker.
BELL’S EASTERN STAR RITUAL
F.A. Bell added to the list of Masonic exposés in 1928,
with several later reprints of the Eastern Star ritual.
Returning to the Macoy rituals, it is necessary to also discuss
the degrees of Queen of the South, the Cross and Crown, the Amaranth, and the
"Matron's Administrative." The "Matron's Administrative" was intended to be
conferred upon the Matron at or before her installation, in a Council composed
of Past Matrons and Past Patrons. This was apparently an emulation of the
Master Mason’s "Secrets of the Chairs." The intention was to illustrate the
Worthy Matron's duties, powers, and responsibilities in her administrative
capacity as the head of the Chapter. Deborah, the Scriptural heroine, was
portrayed in the degree as an example of what might be accomplished by a woman
of strong faith. However, this work was little used and faded from the Order.
The Queen of the South was a degree of French origin, recast by
Morris. In its original French origin, the degree was a very impressive and
melodramatic work. It was a somewhat pompous presentation, yet most people
found it interesting, by virtue of the novelty of the presentation. The work
was intended to demonstrate woman's equality with man, and her fitness for a
part in the Masonic work being assumed by the male associations or
fraternities. The essence of the story contained a visit of the Queen of
Sheba to King Solomon, with a mixture of various biblical references. This
degree was particularly notable, given that it was probably the first
fraternal advocacy of women's rights. Despite all of its merits, this degree
also died; date uncertain. It is suggested that the degree died in the late
1890s. However, it should be mentioned that the degree did survive in the
Prince Hall system of Masonry.
Macoy's degrees of the "Cross and Crown", and the "Amaranth,"
were also derived from foreign sources, having been revised as supplements to
the Eastern Star. Macoy intended these degrees, along with the "Queen of the
South," to be a series of connected degrees, forming a complete system of
Eastern Star degrees. As these were presented, Macoy's hopes for the degrees
met with serious disappointment; all of these degrees failed within the Order.
The "Cross and Crown" degree presented four crosses - Ingratitude, Poverty,
Sickness, and Death – as being adversities endured as a part of life,
crystallized at one’s death as the crown of immortality, all that contrasted
with the five graces of Piety, Friendship, Resignation, Truth, and Constancy.
All of these qualities were portrayed as symbolic of the life and the death
The "Amaranth" degree emulated the ancient and familiar ceremony
of knighting, in which the candidate was touched upon the shoulders with a
sword; crowned with a wreath – the Amaranthan wreath. The candidate was
‘obliged’ to carry a banner with the appropriate symbols, with the beauties of
friendship, Truth, Wisdom, Charity, and Faith, being explained by the Star
officers. Both the Cross and Crown and Amaranth degrees were very crudely
performed, destined also to failure - within the Eastern Star Order. The
Amaranth survived as an independent Order; still thriving today.
Among the more important ceremonials adopted by the various
Grand Chapters in the 1900 time frame were the "Floral Work" and the "Vocal
Star." Both of these became popular with the members of the Eastern Star. The
"Floral Work" was written by ALONZO J. BURTON, from New York. The ritual
required the services of ten officers. Flowers were used to typify the
principles of the Order, with the appropriate flowers presented to the
candidates by the Star officers. The work contained a floral march in which
letters and figures were formed. Some of the Order’s secret work was also
designed to be communicated in that ritual. As a consequence, several Grand
Chapters ruled that none of the work would be performed in public - which was
previously performed. The ritual was additionally supplemented with vocal
music. In its full form the ritual was beautiful, serving to enhance the
attractiveness of the Chapter work.
The "Vocal Star" ritual derived its name from the fact that an
effort was made to emphasize the teachings of the Star Points via song, using
a ceremonial in which the symbolisms of the Star were explained or "voiced" by
means of emblems and flowers. Some of the work being borrowed from several
earlier rituals. The whole ritual was compiled by Mrs. Engle of
Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition to the verbal recitals, the work employed
a march in which letters and figures were made to 'evolve,' complementing the
vocal and instrumental music, as well as containing a poetic valedictory.
DAYLIGHT OES CHAPTERS
Daylight Chapters also followed in the steps of Daylight Master
Mason Lodges. The history of the Daylight Lodges is worth following, as a
general fraternal indicator. As the Masonic Craft became more of an urban
‘speculative’ organization, the members of the fraternity met in the ‘usual’
social environment; in the pubs and taverns in the evenings; additionally
serving an excuse for a festive evening of drinking. From the lore of the
Blue Lodges, we must also contemplate the language of the Blue Lodge ritual,
in which the Junior Warden calls the Craft from labor to refreshment, " …at
It is also probable that many of the original British "military
Lodges" met during the daytime. In American Masonic history, there is a
lengthy history of Lodges meeting uniquely during the daytime. Such history
also includes the American Civil War "Field and Sea Lodges," also meet during
American Daylight Lodges were essentially a product of American
industrialization. The increasing productivity quickly extended into evenings
and night time with workers such as actresses, musicians, policemen and
The originating years of the Order of Eastern Star, the 1850s,
should also be kept in mind in terms of the Order progressing with a nation
moving toward the politics and battles of the Civil War. The result of such
was an expanding economy in all directions, including the entertainment
Although women have the history of predominantly keeping the
home fires burning, the expansion of the theater, in particular, opened the
nighttime hours of darkness to women for employment; whether theaters, per se,
or related industries such as after-hours restaurants. As the United States
became more technically advanced, still more shift-oriented jobs opened for
women, such as telegraphers and telephone operators.
With the rage of Vaudeville, during the 1920's, the
entertainment industry grew that much more, with most of the major towns and
cities in the USA (and some in Canada) having a vaudeville theater; inducing
the formation of still more daylight Lodges. Initially, the many musicians,
stage artists, theatre orchestras and employees, newspaper workers, as well as
and Western Union night telegraphers and support workers formed the daylight
lodges. Then came the "talkies."
The motion-picture industry became the executioner of
Vaudeville. Comparably, theatre orchestras vanished, with more still damage
to American traditions coming with the "great depression." Similarly, daytime
Lodges struggled and failed.
By the 1950's daylight Lodges partially served to accommodate
the large manufacturing plants, and the natural supply of shift workers.
Still, many of the original daylight Lodges were forced to transition into
evening Lodges, consolidated or fold. During the 1970's, it seemed that only
the largest of cities could support daylight Lodges. Then, the 1980’s brought
another threat - the strict DUI laws.
Many restaurants, clubs, bars and taverns, which employed live
orchestras or popular bands, were forced to drop the live entertainment, given
the low ‘rate-of-return,’ with the threat of drunk drivers being prosecuted.
Worse, many states held the bars liable for drunk-driver accidents. In
consequence, many of the ‘shift workers’ - and their previous audience - ended
up with their evenings now free. Those who chose to attend Lodge could more
easily do so; in the evenings.
For a while there it seemed that daylight Lodges had become
obsolete. Then, there came a seemingly new impetus – retirees. The
limitations of age among many retirees make it difficult to drive or obtain
transportation at night. Many such retirees formed a die-hard corps of Masons
still desiring to participate in Lodge, but who required the luxury of a
daylight meeting. In consequence, many prominent retirement communities in
states such as Arizona, New Mexico, and California spawned or rejuvenated
Technology also produced a new social syndrome in the form that
people’s discretionary time took on a new priority, with evenings considered
particularly valuable for family considerations, stress relief, or as
alternate entertainment and socialization opportunity. Often enough the
‘computerized’ generation of the ‘work-at-home’ aspect of American life
altered or extended production times.
In consequence, daylight Lodges served the producing workers in
the form of an optional and convenient meeting time for either direct
membership and participation; and visitation. At the last known count, there
were over one hundred daylight Lodges in the USA and Canada. Many Masonic
jurisdictions have extended the life of some Lodges by converting to daylight
Typically, Daylight lodges are not large, relying heavily on
affiliated memberships in one form or another. The ‘senior’ nature of the
daylight Lodges, leaves them vulnerable to deaths of officers and members,
Daylight Lodges are typically found to possess a unique and
determined fellowship. They sometimes begin with a breakfast, coffee
gathering or a lunch. Most of the Lodges host a festive-board, such that
when the Junior Warden calls the Craft "…from labor to refreshment," it is
often literally "High Twelve."
The same history and mechanics which drive daylight Lodges also
pertains to Eastern Star Chapters, with the added advantage of mothers being
able to attend Chapter while the children are in school.
Daylight Chapters are admittedly not yet all that common.
However, it is suggested by the experience of the Masonic Lodges that
daylight Chapters potentially offer a comparable and powerful solution to both
attendance and membership issues.
Current State of the Order of the Eastern Star
Having weathered so many challenges, the Order of Eastern Star
has survived, thrived and evolved into a social, charitable and fraternal
organization. It is estimated that there are more than a million members,
Membership in the Eastern Star is typically available to women
18 years of age or older, as well as Master Masons in good standing in their
Lodges. As yet, women must establish a Masonic family connection, for
membership. As with the Master Mason Lodges, a declared belief in a Supreme
Being is also required.
Having weathered so many challenges, the Order of Eastern Star
has survived, thrived and evolved into a social, charitable and fraternal
organization. It is estimated that there are more than a million members,
The Degrees of the Eastern Star focus on the lives of five
Biblical women. These were Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha, and "Electa;" each of
these Biblical characters stands for one of the tenets of the Order -
Fidelity, Constancy, Loyalty, Faith and Love. "Electa" is the name of the
character of "…the Elect lady," not a particular Biblical identity.
It should be remembered that the Order of the Eastern Star is
not a religion, however, like many organizations, the Order does have a
religious flair, said to have a distinctly Christian flavor. However, the
bulk of the symbolism of the Order is distinctly Jewish. The Order does not
act as nor does it pretend to take the place of a religion. In no manner does
the Order serve as a substitute for religious beliefs. Even with a Christian
flavor, the Eastern Star membership hails from all religious denominations.
As with Freemasonry, in general; the Order is not s secret
society; it is private, of course – and patriotic; membership reinforces
patriotic allegiance to preserve the good of the associated country.
Membership in the Order of the Eastern Star is not intended to be a function
of financial or social position; members come from all economic stations of
Other than the involvement of the ritual, the Order is not that
much different than any other group which desires privacy; from a neighborhood
watch to a local church. The purposes and goals of the Order are to provide a
charitable organization, where women and men with high moral character, can
join to contribute their time, energy and wisdom, so as to add to the truth
and loving-kindness in the world.
Honoring Masonic tradition, the Order presents its new members
with ‘intended’ secrets, wanting to make its members feel unique. Secret
societies operate `underground,' making themselves difficult to find. The
Order of Eastern Star is easily found within the community; typically seeking
higher visibility. With rare exception Eastern Star Chapters meet in the
local Masonic hall; prominently marked by the famous Square & Compasses. The
Order's members do enjoy a distinctive means of identifying each other.
Naturally, only active members are allowed in a 'secure' meeting.
The Order of the Eastern Star is not particularly time
consuming. Following the initiation into the Order during a regular meeting,
each member may attend any Chapter, as her or his time permits.
There is no appreciable memory work required of the regular
members, beyond the means of a member making themselves known when first visit
a new Chapter. If a member elects to become an officer in the Chapter, there
are roles requiring memory work. These are designed to be intriguing and
rewarding; not burdensome.
Similar to all Masonic bodies, Eastern Star Chapters meet once
or twice a month to conduct business and to confer the Eastern Star degrees.
If no initiatory (new member) work is performed, the meeting will typically
include a program of education or entertainment. Refreshments are almost
always served before, or after, Chapter meetings.
The Eastern Star appeals to one's inner need for pride, dignity,
self-respect and legacy, which come from doing something good for others. The
Order provides a beginning, with the needed guidance and providing an outlet,
as well as a resource center and a support group.
Again, membership does require the family Masonic connection.
Thereafter, membership in the Order typically begins through a friend or
family member who is a member. Those not familiar with active membership may
contact any local Eastern Star Chapter or seek contact through any Masonic
Lodge. A person is also welcome to make contact through the state Grand
Chapter; to locate the appropriate name, address, and phone number of a
Chapter, for additional information and contact.
When a person has made contact - and has decided to join a
Chapter - the appropriate Chapter will provide a Petition, which must be
filled out and returned to the Chapter Secretary, with the appropriate fees.
Each Chapter plans interesting and fun activities for all
members, their family and friends. Typically, the Worthy Matron (elected
annually) plans a number of social events to supplement her planned Chapter
activities. Both women and men enjoy the fellowship of the Order, and Masonic
activities, in general.
The Order of the Eastern Star also provides support to the
youthful members of the Rainbow for Girls, and Job's Daughters. These youth
groups create fun activities and train fine young citizens to be leaders in
the community and leaders in the Order of the Eastern Star. Similarly,
Masonic Lodges sponsor Chapters of DeMolay for Boys.
ORDER OF THE AMARANTH
The "Order of the Amaranth" is an appendant body of the
Masonic fraternity, composed of Master Masons and female relatives of Master
Masons. Its teachings emphatically remind the members of their duty to God,
their country, their community and to their fellow human beings. As with the
Order of the Eastern Star, the membership and leadership is predominantly
The teachings of the Amaranth Order are centered around the
"Golden Rule," and the virtues inherent in the qualities of TRUTH, FAITH,
WISDOM AND CHARITY. The members refer to each other as "Honored Lady" and
"Sir Knight," with a knighthood sword ‘dubbing’ utilized in the initiation
Unfortunately, part of the early history of the Amaranth is
lacking and is almost impossible to verify. Thus, the authenticity of some of
the history which you are about to read rests heavily on the character of
probability, as opposed to the luxury of complete documentation.
To permit readers to better follow the Amaranth history, it is
unfortunately necessary to repeat some points of the Eastern Star history. In
brief, the Order of Amaranth is a surviving element of the original structure
of the Order of Eastern Star; that Order founded in the history of the "Loges
d'Adoption" in France; or "La Vraie Maconnerie D’Adoption." The Amaranth name,
itself, is based upon the inspiration for its creation, coming out of the
Order of the Amaranta of Sweden. The original ritual for the Eastern Star
version was compiled by Brother James B. Taylor, of Newark, New Jersey.
In brief, the original Aramanth material, written by Taylor, was
based upon the 1653 story of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had combined a
group of "Knights" and "Ladies" together to have "gala" parties, calling this
group the "Order of the Amaranta". Brother Taylor utilized many of the
original symbols and the phraseology, using the name, "Order of the Amaranth".
The Taylor material was further modified by Robert Macoy in 1883.
In review, when Rob Morris, famous for creating the Order of
Eastern Star in 1849, felt comfortable with the progress of the Eastern Star
Order, he assembled the financial means for a book-writing trip to the Holy
Land, in 1870. Morris appointed Robert Macoy, to control the Order of the
Eastern Star, in his absence. During Morris’ absence, Macoy added two
degrees, emulating the three Degree system of a Master Mason's Lodge.
(From the Macoy Amaranth Ritual)
In 1873, Macoy formalized his "Rite of Adoption," designating
the "Order of the Eastern Star" as its first, or ‘initiatory’ degree, "The
Queen of the South" was the second degree; with the "Order of the Amaranth"
being the third degree. Macoy restructured the Order in the same fashion as a
Master Mason's Lodge. His original intention was to have the degrees
conferred separately but under the control of one body.
[By way of discussion, it is worth mentioning that the
"Queen of the South" degree is essentially a dialogue between the Queen of
Sheba and King Solomon; regarding the role of women in Masonry. The
underlying Masonic theme is that people aren’t reliant upon a sovereign
for their own dignities and distinctions. ]
Macoy additionally organized the "Eastern Star Supreme Council"
in June of 1873 with Brother Robert Macoy as its Supreme Patron and Brother
Rob Morris as its Supreme Recorder, under Macoy. In 1887 the "Eastern Star
Rite of Adoption" was formally published.
Given the associated Amaranth history with the Order of the
Eastern Star, this history of the Amaranth has also been divided into three
sections. The first section being the Order’s associated history prior to
1873, the second section covering1873 to 1897; the time period of the dominant
control of Robert Macoy and the Eastern Star Supreme Officers. The last
period covers 1897 to modern times.
PRIOR TO 1873
From its beginnings, the Masonic Order limited its membership to
adult men who could meet certain requirements. Women were specifically
forbidden from membership.
It was a natural evolution that sooner or later, many Masons
would come to believe that at least a separate organization should be formed,
to include women. The concept of such an organization would be similar to the
Master Mason’s Lodge, with the members obligated by a promise to fulfill the
moral standards of Masonry. The obvious thought being that the Ladies could
participate and assist in the charitable works of the Craft.
French Loges d'Adoption
To say that Freemasonry exploded in France is an understatement.
When the Craft became popular, there were an incredible number of "degrees"
invented, borrowing every possible name from historic belief systems and the
Bible. Some of these then-secret French societies, attempting to emulate
Freemasonry, admitted women and families as their members. These are
generally believed to have been formed around 1730. Some of those societies
still exist in France, and in other parts of Europe.
Many of these so-called ‘lodges’ were referred to as "Loges
D'Adoption;" or Lodges of Adoption. The concept being that lodges of this
type should be "adopted" by - or somehow be under the "guardianship" of a
‘regular’ Masonic Lodge. Generally, at least one Master Mason was required to
be in attendance at the meetings. The Grand Orient (Grand Lodge) of France
issued an edict in June of 1774, assuming complete control and protection of
"Loges D'Adoption;" providing the necessary rules and regulations.
In the early 1800s, a number of "Androgynous" (male & female)
societies were started in America. Some of these were the "Mason's Daughter",
"Heroines of Jericho", and the "Good Samaritan;" with membership open to both
genders. The most prominent of the ‘survivors’ are the "Order of the Eastern
Star" and the "Order of the Amaranth".
To retrace Morris’ history; Dr. Rob Morris was fiercely
interested in Masonry, having traveled extensively, and being a prolific
writer of Masonic materials. Around 1850, Morris produced a manuscript for
the organization, or, society, which became the forerunner of the modern
"Order of the Eastern Star". Morris chose five degree points, corresponding
to the emblem on the popular "Master's Carpet," known as the "Pentagon," or
"The Signet of King Solomon."
At the startup, the Morris’ Eastern Star "lodges" were
designated as "Constellations." Morris assumed the title of "Supreme Grand
Luminary," while instituting his first "Constellation" in Kentucky in 1853 -
"Purity No. 1." By 1856 he had granted a total of 75 Charters. By all
accounts, his system was received as being too complicated. Morris sensed the
problem, and started revising the Order. By 1860, the Order was restructured
as "Families of the Eastern Star." This adjustment led to some growth. Then,
came the Civil War, with all of the Masonic systems suffering setbacks. The
Eastern Star found its share of difficulty.
It should be remembered that Rob Morris had been promoting
support for an extended visit to the Holy Land. In 1866, he transferred all
authority and all of his "rights" in the "Star" to Macoy; then established in
New York. Macoy quickly began promoting the "Order of the Eastern Star,"
selling charters, rituals, paraphernalia, and other related supplies. Brother
Robert Macoy, prepared a new "Manual" of the "Star" in 1866, designating
himself as the "National Grand Secretary."
By 1867, Macoy had converted the Order into the "Chapter"
system, Chartering Alpha Chapter No. 1, in New York City. Macoy was the
first Worthy Patron and Mrs. Frances E. Johnson as the first Worthy Matron.
While the year is debated (1870 vs. 1873), there is some suggestion that
Macoy organized the Eastern Star Supreme Grand Chapter in 1870, installing
Sister Frances E. Johnson as the first Supreme Grand Matron. Supposedly, she
served in that office until 1873. Macoy, served as the Supreme Grand Patron
from 1872 to 1874. More on that later.
The Amaranth Ritual of James B. Taylor
James B. Taylor hailed from Newark, New Jersey. He was a
musician and a highly praised writer of Masonic songs. Associating with Macoy,
in 1860 he wrote the original "Degree of the Amaranth," inspired by the "Royal
and Exalted Order of the Amaranta," founded in 1653 by Queen Christina of
Sweden. Her legacy is evidenced by many of the "Amaranta" symbols and much of
the phraseology, employed by Taylor.
Queen Christina – the Inspiration
Christina Augusta was born in 1626; the daughter of King
Gustavis Adolphus and Maria Eleanora, of Sweden. When Christina was six years
old, her father was killed in battle, she then inherited the throne of Sweden
- but under the control of a regency. On her 18th birthday in 1644, she took
the Oath of Office, becoming "King" of Sweden. On October 20, 1650, she was
officially crowned as the "Queen" of Sweden. It is recorded that she was
miserable with her royal duties and responsibilities. Thus, in June of 1654,
she abdicated her throne; to go on to a long and exciting life, until her
death in 1689.
In 1653, while still Queen, Christina started the "Order of the
Amaranta," with fifteen "Ladies" and fifteen "Knights" in attendance, with
Christina as Grand Mistress. It was reportedly a magnificent ball,
appropriately enjoyed by those in attendance.
However, her abdication in the following year also condemned the
Order. It was only a question of time before this "first" Order of the
Amaranta was dissolved. The Order was revived approximately 100 years later,
and has intermittently continued to the present time. This particular Order
is unrelated to Freemasonry.
It should be mentioned that the ‘Amaranth’ name also appeared in
France, when the "Lodges of Adoption" were first organized; approximately
Rite of Adoption and the Amaranth
Macoy revised the "Amaranth" material, written by Taylor,
formulating a more compatible ritualistic form, so as to combine it with the
Eastern Star and the "Queen of the South" Degree, forming an organization of
three degrees - the "Rite of Adoption."
Precisely when this three-part ‘structure’ was assembled is
debated. Relying on Mackey's Encyclopedia it was in June of 1873. However,
Harold Voorhis – in his book of the Eastern Star history; "The Eastern
Star: The Evolution from a Rite to an Order" - insisted that the
Amaranth ritual was actually written in 1873, following the formation of the
Eastern Star Supreme Council; first printed in the 1876 Macoy Ritual.
According to a Morris’ letter to Macoy in 1883, the intent of
the Amaranth was in response to a fear that several degrees were needed to
overcome complaints of the monotony of just the Eastern Star ritual.
1878 to 1887
Organization of the Supreme Council, Rite of Adoption.
In 1873, a large number of distinguished Masons met in New York
City, to form the Royal Arch General Grand Council of Royal and Select
Masters. By inference, Macoy and Morris decided that this was the opportune
time to organize a comparable "general body" of the Order of the Eastern Star.
On June 14, 1873, Morris presided over a comparable Eastern Star
meeting, instituting the "Supreme Council of the Adoptive Rite of the World".
This body was intended as a central control over the Grand
(State/Territory) and subordinate Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star,
additionally granting permission to exemplify the degrees of the Queen of the
South and the Amaranth.
Robert Macoy was installed as the Supreme Patron, serving until
his death on January 9th, 1895. Frances E. Johnson was installed as the
Supreme Matron, serving until June 7th, 1897. Following Macoy’s death,
Frederick W. Hancock filled the office of Supreme Patron from 1895 to 1897,
when he was again elected for an additional year.
However, there are no records of any "Supreme Council" meetings
being held from 1873 to 1895 - after the death of Macoy. It must be assumed
that during those years, Macoy was strictly a token head of his own
organization. Still, he used his assumed authority, attempting to exclusively
control the content of the Eastern Star ritual.
General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star
During this same period, starting shortly after 1873, some of
the leaders of the Eastern Star became concerned with the relatively
undisciplined operation of the Eastern Star organization; the conflicting
requirements amongst the various States, such as the policy in some
jurisdictions which permitted Master Masons to attend meetings without
formally joining the Eastern Star, and the aura of profiteering. Therefore, a
group of Eastern Star members decided – independently of Macoy - to take
To be brief, after 1878, control of most of the Eastern Star
Chapters was taken over by the ‘renegade’ General Grand Chapter, with the
exception of New York, New Jersey; and some areas which were controlled by
Scotland. However, Macoy continued to issue charters to "Macoy" Eastern Star
Chapters, also permitting them to confer the "Queen of the South" and "Order
of the Amaranth" degrees. Macoy wouldn’t quit the fight.
At the 1895 "Supreme Council" meeting, following Macoy’s death,
a tentative "Amaranth" Constitution was adopted. The new leadership decided
to change to a "representative" form of government. Further revisions were
made and finalized at a special meeting, held on February 18, 1897. On June
7, 1897, in the 24th year of the "Macoy" Supreme Council, the reorganization
of the "Amaranth" Supreme Council was essentially completed.
In essence, Macoy’s organization mutated into the independent
Amaranth Supreme Council. It may be reasonably assumed that Macoy’s
‘loyalists’ recognized the finality of the loss of control of the Eastern
Star, electing to preserve the Amaranth.
1897 to 1975
First Session of the Newly Reorganized Supreme Council.
As the formation of the independent General Grand Chapter
attracted most of the Eastern Star Chapters away from the control of the "Macoy"
Supreme Council, Rite of Adoption of the World, Macoy’s Council was virtually
left in full control of the Amaranth only, and was considered the "parent"
body of this organization. It should be noted that the original "Queen of the
South" Degree, seems to have already faded into oblivion.
[NOTE: The Prince Hall group still performs the Queen
of the South Degree.]
A meeting of this uniquely Amaranth Supreme Council was held in
the Grand Opera House, New York City, on Monday, June 7, 1897. The
reorganization of the Supreme Council was finalized and this meeting became
the First Supreme Council Assembly and started the process of annual elections
and installations of Officers.
Due to illness, Frances Johnson, who had served as Macoy’s
Supreme Matron since 1873, was unable to attend. Annie West, the Associate
Supreme Matron since 1873, presided as the Supreme Matron.
Excerpts from the 1897 Transactions.
The Supreme Patron, Sir Frederick W. Hancock, in his 1897
address, made the comment about the Queen of the South Degree; that as the
Queen of the South Degree was not a part of the Amaranth ritual, but rather a
part of the old (Macoy) Eastern Star Ritual, that all references to it should
be eliminated from the, now unique, Amaranth work. He also recommended that a
condensed version of the original (Macoy) Amaranth "Administrative" Degree
should be given to the Royal Matrons and Royal Patrons.
First "Annual" Assembly of the Supreme Council - 1898
For all intents and purposes, the "Amaranth" was an independent
organization, as of 1898. At the 1898 Supreme Council Assembly of the Rite of
Adoption of the World, Order of the Amaranth, Annie West was elected as
Supreme Royal Matron for a second term, with Frank G. Bassett elected as
Supreme Royal Patron. Since that meeting, new officers have been elected and
installed every year.
The chronological lineage of the Order of the Amaranth can be
confusing. The 1898 Assembly is now "officially" considered as the "First
Annual Assembly," as the associated reports at the 1898 meeting represented
the only records; Macoy leaving none, which could be discovered. The 1898
Transactions, however, listed it as the "second" annual session, with the 1899
meeting being listed as the "third" annual session. In all likelihood, the
chronology was intended to reflect the 1873 organizational meeting – the only
prior meeting with any semblance of a record.
In 1900, the Transactions referred to the 1898 session as the
27th Year of the Supreme Council, obviously counting back to the
organizational meeting in 1873. Thus, the 1901 session was listed as the 28th
Year. That sequence system continued through 1921, being the 48th year of the
By 1921, the distinctions between the Amaranth and the Eastern
Star were too compelling to ignore; thus, the Orders totally separated.
Eastern Star membership was thereafter no longer a prerequisite for Amaranth
membership; Masonic lineage was still required, however.
In 1922, after the formal and final separation from the Eastern
Star, the Transactions were titled, "Transactions of the 25th Assembly of the
Supreme Council, Order of the Amaranth, Inc." That same method of sequencing
continues to recognize the 1898 meeting as the first "annual" Assembly.
The Transactions cover pages from 1897 through 1912 were titled
the "Transactions of the Supreme Council of the Rite of Adoption of the World,
Order of the Amaranth." As of 1913, the words "Rite of Adoption" were deleted,
as was the "Macoy Emblem" (below), with the wreath superimposed on the
five-pointed star - which had been previously used on the Amaranth
Transactions covers, from 1897 through 1913.
No emblem was used in 1914; in 1915 the present Amaranth emblem
with the "Wreath, Crown and Sword" appeared (below).
First Chartered Amaranth Courts
As an organization, the actual ‘independence’ date is generally
considered to be 1898, when the Order more-or-less slipped out of the
proverbial door of the Macoy organization.
In strict chronology, the origins of the active Amaranth degree,
per se, date to 1884, in Brooklyn, New York, where a Court known as "Magnolia
Court", worked the Amaranth and the "Good Samaritan" Degrees. Over time,
the Amaranth ritual was revised. Unfortunately, the "Magnolia Court" had a
very brief life.
It must be appreciated that in this period of history,
communication, thus history, was slow. Although there were Eastern Star
Chapters who incorporated the Amaranth Degree, the Amaranth was also slowly
evolving as a totally independent organization. Accordingly, there was a
somewhat confusing ‘lag’ in the changes; those occurring at different
locations and times.
It was obviously Macoy’s dream to see his ‘three-degree’ system
take permanent root, but that was not to be the case. His dream died with
Macoy, in 1895.
In the 1897 Amaranth Transactions, Sir William J. Duncan cites
that, "A number of Charters were
issued of which there is no record. (1873 - 1897.) These Charters were issued
with authority to confer the degree of the Eastern Star. Apparently these
Charters gave permission to confer all three degrees, the Order of the Eastern
Star, the Queen of the South, and the Order of the Amaranth."
He also stated, "When
it was decided to separate the Order of the Amaranth from the Eastern Star,
and make of it a specific and independent organization, there were in
existence, as I believe, a number of Chapters holding under the authority of
this Supreme Council, which conferred the degree of the Eastern Star only, and
not that of the Amaranth. I have a record of three of these, but very limited
information: Lois Chapter No. 1, Hanceville, Blount County, Alabama,
organized October 1891; Excelsior Chapter, Taylorsville, Alexander County,
North Carolina, chartered May 9, 1893; and Silver Cliff Chapter, (location
unknown) chartered January 5, 1891. All three of these are probably out of
In 1891, Macoy was advancing his case for his three degrees, the
Order of the Eastern Star, the Queen of the South, and the Order of the
Amaranth, having published them under one cover. Macoy was adamant that his
system could work, as he designed it. However, Macoy was getting resistance
from the existing Chapters, who were reluctant to add the two extra degrees.
On the 28th of October 1891, Macoy took an Amaranth
"Degree Team" from Wyona, Connecticut to Ansonia, where he and his team
"instituted" and "chartered" Eliza A. Macoy Court No. 1.
On November 12th, 1891 Macoy also had his Wyona
"team" put on the degree work at Bridgeport, while arranging for the team to
do the same at New Haven.
According to a Macoy letter of November 10, 1891, he was issuing
a "Charter" on November 12, 1891, in the name of Wyona "Chapter" of Brooklyn,
New York. Observing history, it appears that Macoy probably meant to use the
term "Court," but made a mistake. The "Charter" date for Wyona Chapter No. 1
of Brooklyn was May 28, 1891. While records also show that Wyona Court was
[again] "Chartered" on November 12th as Wyona "Chapter", it eventually became
known as Wyona Court, regardless. This argument is supported by the existence
of an active Amaranth "degree team" prior to November 10, 1891.
On November 20, 1893 Macoy chartered Evergreen Court in
The 1919 Supreme Council Transactions, state,
"In 1885, the Amaranth Degree was given at the
Grand Chapter Eastern Star Session in New York."
This Transactions also states that "In
1891, the Amaranth separated from the Eastern Star, forming Wyona Court No.
1, of which the early founders became members, with Robert Macoy as Royal
Patron and H.L. [Honored Lady] Strandburg as Royal Matron."
The suggestion being that the degree team for the Amaranth formed their unique
organization, independent of their own Eastern Star Chapter. Obviously, Macoy
Thus, the Amaranth Courts began.
The Order cites its symbolism as coming from the Amaranth
flower. The basic symbolism being drawn from the bright red Amaranth
blossoms, those noted for their exceptional lasting nature; obviously alluding
to the concept of the perpetual nature of the Order and its teachings.
The Amaranth flower (Greek - 'Amarantus') is said to signify
'never withering or fading;' maintaining an enduring freshness. It is taught
that the ancient people believed that if the flowers were placed in water,
they would bloom anew, hence the concept of immortality.
The teachings go on to assert that the leaves of the Amaranth
plant (like the 'Laurel') is a symbol of distinction and honor. Thus, in the
modern Amaranth ritual, the 'Amaranthine Wreath' is predominantly employed (as
opposed to the blossom), in the form of a never-ending circle. That said to
be typical of the bond of fraternal friendship which encircles the Order.
That wreath is thus used as the central device in the Amaranth Grand
Standard, the wreath encircling the "Crown and Sword."
The 'All Seeing Eye' is also employed by the Order of the
Amaranth, as a symbol of the 'Supreme Being' - the 'Eye of watchfulness' -
quoted from Psalms 121:4 " .....
behold the Eye of watchfulness, which neither slumbers or sleeps."
Thus the concept of eternal watchfulness of the 'All Seeing Eye' is treated as
a traditional symbol of 'Deity.'
The ‘Dove’ is symbolical of the 'Holy Spirit,' and innocence.
The Dove is found to be descending, with an Olive branch in its beak. That,
signifying peace and victory. Yet, the 'Olive branch', like many sacred
plants of antiquity, also symbolizes resurrection and immortality.
Early "Macoy" Banner
The 'Crown and Sword,' of the modern Amaranth symbol, represent
royalty and power. The 'Crown' also symbolizes the spiritual reward ('Crown
of life') given to the just and faithful.
The Sword serves as an instrument of ancient chivalry; the
insignia of ‘knighthood.’ From such legends as "Excalibur," it is necessary to
appreciate that such an insignia of knighthood was traditionally accompanied
with highly symbolic meaning. From the Middle Ages, any swords of prominence
were typically manufactured with a unique legend on their blade. For example,
one such legend holds the message,
"Draw me not without justice; sheath me not without honor."
The gavel, as all in the Masonic communities know, is the
standard emblem of authority, wielded by the governing officer.
The act of ablution (hand washing), used in the initiation
ritual, symbolizes cleanliness and purity, further typifying an upright life.
From Psalms 24: 3-4, "Who shall
ascend unto the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He
that hath clean hands and a pure heart."
Among the ‘ancients,’ altars were utilized for burning incense
and for making sacrifices. The Masonic altar combines both concepts,
employing the altar to cleanse ones self of all vices, as an oblation to
Deity; while offering up the thoughts of a pure heart.
Upon the altar is placed the Holy Bible, symbolizing the will of
God, reminding the members of the omnipresence and the omnipotence of the
The "EAST" is Masonically considered, in the ancient concept, as
the source of light – or knowledge and wisdom. Obviously from the ‘Ancient
Mysteries,’ the Sun is also seen as a release from the evils of the darkness
of night; and from the peril of storms. In the Christian lore, "Christmas"
was adapted from the pagan Winter Solstice, celebrating the beginning of a new
solar cycle; a renewal of ‘hope;’ a renewal of greater light and energy.
Also in the Masonic tradition, the Amaranth Courts are
physically arranged similar to the Masonic Lodges. The primary model being
the Temple of Jerusalem, built due East and West; with the presiding officer
sitting in the East.
AMARANTH RITUAL HISTORY
As with the Order of the Eastern star, the history is not
complete, without a history of the associated ritual.
The Macoy "Adoptive Rite" of the Order of the Eastern Star dates
from 1868; copyrighted in 1897, 1928 and again in 1952. At one time, the
ritual of the Amaranth was also included under the same cover.
The latest "Macoy" Eastern Star ritual appears to be the 1952
version; containing the basic ritual information of the Eastern Star. That
version also contains the Macoy "Queen of the South" degree; and the Matron's
and Patron's "Administrative" Degree.
The Macoy ‘Amaranth’ 1895 ritual is still available, as a
reprint; the latest copyright believed to be 1985. However the Supreme Court,
Order of the Amaranth does not use or authorize this particular ritual. The
Macoy ritual is, in any case, a rich historical resource. This version can
only be said to be ‘similar’ to the currently used ritual of the modern Order.
It is speculated that the Amaranth Degree, specifically,
contained in the Macoy Rite of Adoption, was first probably formulated around
1873; printed around 1876. With respect to modern re-printing, the 1895 Macoy
‘Amaranth’ Degree is printed separately from the Macoy ‘Adoptive Rite’
Macoy Amaranth Emblem
GENERAL GRAND CHAPTER "EASTERN STAR" RITUALS
The non-Macoy ("modern") ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star
was written and copyrighted in 1889, 1914, 1929, 1953, 1974, 1983, 1995. It
is currently published under the authority of the Order of the Eastern Star;
General Grand Chapter. As might be imagined, the ritual contains some
similarities with the Macoy ritual, but it also has many significant
The Transition from the "Macoy" to the "Duncan" Ritual
To be brief, in the early 1900's, the Order of the Amaranth
found itself in conflict with the Macoy Company, similar to the experience of
the Eastern Star. In the end, the Supreme Council was essentially forced to
write an independent ritual; preserving what it could, from history. Honoring
the ritual history, it is required to address the "color coding" of the
To be sure, some of the verbiage of the current Amaranth ritual
is straight out of the "Macoy Ritual," supplemented with the work of William
J. Duncan (Red). The ‘best’ of the Amaranth ritual had been completed by
1923, with a few more changes in the 1932 ritual; add the detailed "Floor
Charts" of Ernest E. Ford. Since that time, the Amaranth ritual was at a
peak of excellence, requiring only supplemental instructions and minor
changes, allowing it to be easily followed. The modern ‘work’ is very highly
detailed and disciplined.
At the 1909 Supreme Council Assembly, a Committee was appointed
to assemble the needed ritual. The committee included Cornelius B. Parker as
its chairman, Annie West, Annie Vass, and Eliza M. Demarest. A year later,
Harriett F. Lewis joined the committee. The committee also engaged William
J. Duncan (Supreme Secretary from 1895 to 1897; Supreme Royal Patron in 1899
-1900), to assist in writing the new ritual. Unfortunately, Duncan became
seriously ill, with the final touches to his work made by the Ritual
The work was published in 1911; being the first independent
version, printed in pamphlet form. A "Second Edition," was printed in 1912;
that ‘Red’ hard-back copy was issued, with the 1911 copies being recalled.
During the ‘new’ Amaranth formative years, "the Chaplain" became
the "Prelate", with the "Herald" becoming the "Standard Bearer." The
significant changes in this "Duncan Ritual" used a single initiation ceremony
for both genders, deleted fancy charts depicting "Lines of March", an added a
ceremony for "Draping the Altar," with the additional insertion of a "Burial
Item No. 1, under the "Landmarks of the Order," stated that
"The Eastern Star was the basis of the Order of the Amaranth." In its original
context, that provision mandated membership in the "Eastern Star," as a
prerequisite for membership in the Order of the Amaranth. Similar to the
Eastern Star, the initiates were originally addressed as "brothers" and
In the early years, some jurisdictions permitted Master Masons
to attend meetings without formally joining the Order. Hence, the 1912 ritual
stated: "The mode and manner of admitting Master Masons into the various
Subordinate Courts of the Order of the Amaranth, shall be left entirely to the
wisdom of the Grand Court in whose jurisdiction they may reside." (This
provision was deleted in the subsequent version of the ritual.)
The early Court "officer jewels" were very much like those used
in the Macoy Rituals. The Eastern Star symbol resided in the background, with
the Amaranth Wreath and the individual "Officer" insignias in the forefront.
Not unexpectedly, the 1912 edition invited letters from the
Macoy Company claiming "infringement" on their copyrights. Hence, a committee
was appointed to attend to the matter; with the committee members firm in the
opinion that the Macoy claims were not valid. However, the committee advised
a precautionary revision be assembled, so as to avoid any possible claim of
In consequence, another committee revised, copyrighted and
published the Third Edition in January of 1915. The original supply of the
rituals was quickly depleted, with an amended Fourth Edition printed, later in
Original Supreme Council Emblem
The emblem, above, was designed for Marie Anna Shipman, Past
Supreme Royal Matron; registered in her name. In October of 1915, she
donated all her rights to it, to the Amaranth Supreme Council, Inc.
The 1915 rituals, contained the "Shipman" emblem, which was also
used on the Court officers' jewels, the Court seals and associated stationery.
The Third Edition added an Order of Business, a Certificate of
Election, a Court Banner and a Court floor layout chart. This edition also
added a Chairman of Trustees and Public Ceremonies for the installation of the
court officers. This edition also simplified the floor officer banners of
the "Square" (central Court officers), with plain banners simply containing
the ‘text’ labels of "Truth," "Faith," "Wisdom," and "Charity," as opposed to
the original ornamented banners.
The Fourth Edition added a chart depicting a floor layout for
the Supreme Council and the Grand Court.
In 1918, the Fifth Edition was published, containing a few minor
During the evolution of the Amaranth ritual, a number of
excellent new "Charges" were incorporated in the new revisions.
The "Duncan Rituals" did not contain "Marching Charts." However,
Ernest E. Ford, the 1914 Grand Royal Patron of California, compiled a 78
page booklet for the Grand Court of California; containing such charts, in
The Ford booklet contained 26 Floor Charts, as well as detailed
ceremonial instructions. Although Ford’s original charts contained a "Star"
pattern in the center of the Court room, his materials survived without the
star; in the 1923 and 1925 revisions.
Two Sample Charts from Ernest E. Ford's booklet
(Note the use of the ‘star.’)
Separation of the "Star" and the "Amaranth".
Again, with the exit of the Amaranth, from the umbrella of the
Eastern Star, there existed some differences over the requirement that
candidates for membership in the Amaranth were first required to be members of
the Eastern Star.
During the year prior to the Amaranth Supreme Council Assembly
of 1921, the Eastern Star General Grand Chapter issued an edict, which vitally
concerned members of the Eastern Star, who were also members of the Amaranth.
In the subsequent treatment of that edict, a motion was passed,
which eliminated the previously mandated membership in the Eastern Star, as a
prerequisite for membership in the Amaranth. Once again, it became necessary
to revise the Amaranth ritual. By mutual agreement with the Order of the
Eastern Star, the membership in the Order of the Amaranth no longer requires
"Star" membership; while still requiring a family affiliation with a Master
1923 "Arthur H. Ziegler" Ritual (‘Red,’ 1923 through 1948)
Prior to printing the 1923 revision, the Supreme Council decided
to separate the Amaranth ritual into two volumes. The 1923 revision (Red),
contained the generic ceremonies, such as, Opening, Escort/Introductions,
Balloting, Initiation, and Closing. "Volume II" (Purple) contained all of the
In 1923 the Sixth Edition, (Red), was officially accepted,
copyrighted and printed. This work was the product of Arthur Ziegler, a noted
Mason and writer.
Ernest E. Ford, of California, served on the Committee of both
volumes of the Ritual, (Red and Purple), thus his charts and instructions were
not unexpectedly adapted for use in both of manuals.
Whether cost or politics, the Supreme Council then voted that no
changes would be allowed in the 1923 Ritual, for fifteen years. In 1937, the
Council voted to extend that ruling for another ten years. It should be
mentioned that during those years, minor needed changes were permitted. One
such example being the addition of the words "under God" in the Pledge of
This ritual, amended the Landmarks of the Order to read "The
Order of the Amaranth is a distinct organization, and no part of the Order of
the Eastern Star". As expected, some references to "brothers" and "sisters"
were deleted, but some survived.
In the 1928 ritual, a complete new format was utilized. The
"Oral Work" and "Charges" were printed in the front of the Ritual; with the
"Instructions" and "Floor Charts" printed in the back. There were twenty-four
such charts, most still surviving to the present day. In this ritual,
instructions for escorting/introductions were expanded; with an additional
"Jewel March" being added.
It is worth noting that there were two slightly different 1923
(Red) Sixth Edition Rituals. One was the general Sixth Edition ritual, used
by most of the Courts; the other version was a special ritual for the States
of New York and New Jersey. The need being to accommodate these two
particular States, given that they permitted "non-Amaranth" Master Masons to
attend their meetings. Thus, a short section was added to the Amaranth
ritual, to accommodate the Master Masons.
1926 "Purple" Ritual Volume II, First Edition, 1926-1932
The "Purple" ritual was written in 1925; copyrighted in 1926.
Again, this was a re-organized section to accompany the 1923 "Red" ritual.
But some confusion was created by its title, "Volume II, Sixth Edition."
Later, this manual was re-designated as the "First Edition," because when the
1932 (Purple) Ritual was issued, it was designated as the "Second Edition."
The 1926 ritual contained ceremonies for uncrowning the outgoing
Matron, and the coronation ceremonies of the incoming Matron. This ritual
also included ceremonies for the installation of officers of subordinate
Courts, Grand Court, and Supreme Council, public ceremonies, organizing and
constituting a Court, opening ceremonies for Supreme Council and Grand Courts,
and an order of business. It also contained the ceremonies for draping the
Altar, Memorial Service and burial ceremonies.
1932 "Purple" Ritual, Vol. II, Second Edition, 1932-1948.
The 1932 ritual was very similar to the 1926 version, with
minimal rewording. It contained changes in the sequence of several
ceremonies. This edition survived through 1948, with minor changes.
Until the mid ‘40's, the ‘Red’ Volume I and ‘Purple’ Volume II
were printed individually. Minor changes were occasionally made, but most of
the ‘work’ was that of the 1923 and 1932 printings.
Starting around 1943, a combined ‘Red’ ritual was printed,
containing the 1923 Volume I material - printed in the front - and the 1932
Volume II material printed in the back; becoming the Seventh Edition.
1949 Revision. (First Edition, Red)
The ritual format was again changed; combining Volumes I and II
into a single ritual, with the appropriate instructions and "Floor Charts"
integrated. This as opposed to having the text separated from the charts,
located in different volumes. Interestingly, the Landmarks of the Order
thereafter stated, "The Order of the Amaranth is a distinct organization, and
no part of any other Fraternal Order."
At the 1950 Amaranth assembly, the revised ritualistic work was
approved, and accepted as the "standard" work of the Order, to be used to the
exclusion of all versions prior to that date. The Court secretaries were
authorized to give members credit for old rituals, exchanged for new ones.
The secretaries were also directed to destroy all of the old rituals.
1949 Revision (Second Edition, White)
The first printing of the "White" ritual appeared in 1952; later
again copyrighted in 1962. Subsequent printings present very few changes of
any importance; typically corrections made in the English, punctuation and in
spelling. Some specific instructions have been added, to assist the
standardization of the work. Some slight changes were made to the "Floor
Charts," to make them better conform to the text instructions.
1973 Revision (White)
This revision incorporated the corrections approved prior to
1973, with the inclusion of a two-page ‘standardization’ appendix.
1993 Revision (Large Red)
In 1993, the Amaranth Ritual Committee did a very extensive
revision, responding to nearly 600 recommended changes. Needless to say, the
change was both laborious and detailed. While the type was ‘modern,’ the
relatively crude Ernest Ford "Floor Charts" survived. The new ritual was
copyrighted in 1994; published in 1995.
2004 Revision (Blue)
The latest version is the "Blue" book, which is only slightly
changed from the 1995 version.
Syllabus or Esotery (Secret Work)
The coded cipher or "syllabus," furnished by the Supreme
Council, essentially follows many of the same ceremonies as that of the "Macoy"
version, which was not coded. A controversy followed this ‘work,’ as the
cipher is far from perfect. The problem surrounds confusion, created where
the same letter, or same combination of letters, is used to represent several
different words or combinations. Naturally, the interpretations of the cipher
can vary, thus leading to misinterpretation and a noticeable loss in the
quality of the ritual.
"Manual of Procedure"
In service to the aspiring, elected and serving officers, the
Supreme Council found it necessary to provide a training program to assist in
the understanding and the processes involved in becoming a good Court officer.
In 1959, the Supreme Council Assembly Leadership Training
Committee was authorized to prepare a booklet for this purpose. This "Manual
of Procedure" was adopted in 1960; copyrighted in 1961. The booklet was
designed as a guide in the leadership training of novices; and as a refresher
for experienced officers, also. That manual was revised and adopted at the
1988 Supreme Assembly. The manual contains useful parliamentary procedural
information and other information on leadership at meetings. With appropriate
modifications, the current Amaranth
"Manual of Procedure" would serve as an
excellent training manual for any fraternal organization.
Registered Amaranth Emblem (Trademark)
The Amaranth trademark registration has been permitted to expire
on several occasions. The 1983 Supreme Secretary discovered that it had
expired some years prior; and filed a "Petition to Revive." The end result was
that the guidance of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office led to the deletion
of the printing in the symbol, indicating its 1915 registration.
The effective date of that revival was March 26, 1985, extending
the registration for ten years. However, procedurally, between the fifth and
sixth year after its revival, it was necessary to notify the Patent Office by
affidavit "that said mark is in use." The need for that affidavit was
overlooked - and again - the trademark was considered to be canceled.
Once more, the Supreme Office struggled to revive the trademark.
The revival became effective as of September 27, 1994.
Jewels and Jewelry
As one might imagine, the history of Amaranth Officers’ jewels
and general Amaranth jewelry follows the Order's Registered Trademark. This
has been a heated area of sensitivity of the Order, historically jealous of
any infringements. Over the years, the Order has experienced many
difficulties with unauthorized infringements or manufacture by jewelry
companies, by members and non-members. Hence, at the Amaranth Supreme
Assembly of 1940, the Board of Supreme Trustees adopted a resolution, which
essentially removed the Order of the Amaranth from the jewelry business.
Two basic jewel formats are seen in the Order, with many asking
why some jewelry and officer jewels have the "sword" in a horizontal position
on some items, versus the sword being displayed in a near vertical position on
others. The answer is a simple matter of propriety gone astray. One was
intended as a "stationery" application, versus a "jewelry" application. The
expiration of trademarks left the matter somewhere between antiquity and
‘force of tradition.’
The graphic below was designed in 1930, by a jeweler - William
Jaeger - of Philadelphia. With the approval of the Board of Supreme Trustees,
he registered it, under his own name, on January 30, 1931. The registration
was then transferred to the Amaranth Supreme Council in consideration of the
sum of $1.00; due to expire in 1945. The trademark expired and was never
renewed. The jewel is still commonly seen on Court officer jewels and other
antique Court emblems, referred to as the "Jaeger Emblem."
In its beginning, the intended use of this design was for
publicly worn jewelry, to be differentiated from the "Shipman Emblem." The
thought was to utilize the "Shipman" emblem uniquely for use on the ’internal’
Order stationery, rituals, paraphernalia, seals and Officer's Jewels.
In August of 1931, Supreme Royal Matron, Florence M. Beswick,
ordered that the new Jaeger emblem be used, instructing members and all known
jewelry manufacturers to conform to the Jaeger design.
In subsequent years, however, the Jaeger emblem found its way
into the Court officers’ jewels, as well as other Court insignia, contrary to
the original intent.
The Order of the Amaranth is involved with a variety of
charitable work and benevolence. The primary philanthropic project of the
Order is the Amaranth Diabetes Foundation. The Foundation makes sizeable
donations to diabetes research, each year.
The Amaranth subscribes to the concept, "That Charity is truest
and noblest which treads in silence and secrecy all of its ways, not letting
the left hand know what the right hand doeth."
Following that concept, the Order of the Amaranth founded the
Amaranth Diabetes Foundation charity for diabetic research, in 1979. All
funds are paid directly to the American Diabetes Association for research.
There are no overhead charges applied by the Amaranth Diabetes Foundation;
all donations are given to directly to research.
International Order of
The International Order of Jobs Daughters was founded in 1920 by
Mrs. Ethel T. Wead Mick in Omaha. Nebraska. Job's Daughters was originally
organized with the cooperation and consent of the Masonic Grand Lodge of
Nebraska and the Order of Eastern Star Grand Chapter.
The Order provides young girls with a family Masonic
relationship for character development through moral and spiritual
development. The Order emphasizes a reverence for God, loyalty to their
country and respect for parents and Guardians.
Job's Daughters meet in what is termed a 'Bethel.' Their
teachings are conducted in three 'epochs,' as opposed to 'degrees.' The Motto
of the Order is, "Virtue is a quality which highly adorns woman." Their
primary symbols are the Open Book, Horn of Plenty and the Lilly of the Valley.
Typical of Freemasonry, the members are required to assume a pledge based on
honor. The Order is governed under a Supreme Guardian Council with a
Constitution and Bylaws.
The Order of Jobs Daughters makes it possible for all young
women with a Masonic family relationship to share the privileges of the
Masonic Order. The ritual of the Order is based on the symbolism of the
Triangle, the Three Daughters of Job, the Open Book and Education.
The Ritual and teachings of the Order are centered around the
drama and lessons contained in the Book of Job, with emphasis on the 42nd
Chapter, 15th Verse, which reads, "And in all the land were no women found so
fair as the Daughters of Job; and their Father gave them inheritance among
Job's Daughters provides an opportunity for young women to work
together, to develop their character and to help others. Job's Daughters
promotes friendship and service, while also teaching leadership. Job's
Daughter's membership is open to girls ages 11 to 20 who have a Masonic
Heritage. As in the Master Mason's Lodge, the order does not follow any
specific religion, but does require the members to have a belief in a Supreme
The meetings follow an interesting tradition, containing ritual
modeled after typical Masonic lines. The Officers of the Order wear
traditional Grecian robes, symbols of democracy and equality, provided by the
Bethel. The regular members wear dresses to the meetings; typically held
twice a month. Programs are planned and conducted by the youthful members,
themselves, with assistance of the adult volunteers.
The Job's Daughter initiations are solemn, meaningful and
impressive ceremonies, conducted by the Bethel Officers. The Initiation is
conducted with respect for the new member, without any sort of embarrassment
or test of courage. Parents are always welcome at the initiations and all of
Membership in Job's Daughters effects teamwork and friendship
among young women and builds confidence in themselves. The ritual work forms
an excellent background for poise and public speaking. An active member
learns many skills which will her throughout her life. The membership not
only builds character while serving the community, they also have fun.
International Order of
the Rainbow for Girls
The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is an
organization for girls between the age of 11 and 20, from any Masonic
heritage, and the friends of members of Rainbow girls. Upon attaining the age
of 20, or upon marriage, which ever occurs first, the members in good standing
are eligible for Majority Membership. To become a member, a girl must be
sponsored by two other girls who are either active members in good standing or
a majority member, and at least one adult whom must be a member in good
standing of either a Masonic Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star, or Order of the
The order was originated by Reverend W. Mark Sexson as the
result of the Order of DeMolay attracting his attention during his Masonic
activities. Sexton had become conscious of the need for an Order for girls,
setting forth the truths of Masonry.
Sexson was a serious researcher. In 1909, he traveled to Europe
and then to Assyria, Palestine, and Egypt in search of information for his
work as a contributor to Masonic literature. His greatest Masonic work was
the organization of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls.
In the spring of 1922, Mr. Sexson made a passionate appeal
before the Eastern Star South McAlester Chapter No. 149 to start such an
Order. In response, the Worthy Matron, Mrs. Sarah Church, replied, "We would
start it if we had someone to write the ceremony of Initiation." The next day,
Mr. Sexson wrote the Ritual, giving it the name "Order of the Rainbow for
He requested the regular officers of South McAlester Chapter No.
149, O.E.S., to exemplify the work, furnishing the copies of the Ritual. The
first class of girls was initiated into the Order on April 6, 1922, consisting
of a class of 171 girls, in McAlester, Oklahoma.
The Supreme governing Body was officially formed by Mr. Sexson
in June, 1922. Sexton wrote the original law governing the Supreme Body and
the Subordinate Assemblies. Mr. Sexson was made the first Supreme Recorder
and later was given the title, Supreme Worthy Advisor Emeritus. Sexton later
served as the Grand Master of Oklahoma.
The Supreme Temple was built in 1951 from funds provided by the
youth. The windows on both sides of the front of the building are shaped as a
bow, containing seven sections representing the colors of the Rainbow.
The Order has assemblies in 46 states in the United States in
addition to assemblies in 8 other countries. The current states which do not
have assemblies are South Dakota, Delaware, Utah, and Wyoming. The other
countries which DO have assemblies are: Australia (both Queensland and New
South Wales), Canada, Japan, Germany, Panama, Brazil and the Philippines. At
the time of this writing, Italy is in the early stages of starting Assemblies.
Order of DeMolay
The Order of DeMolay began with a simple phone call which came
in January of 1919, made to Frank S. Land by one Sam Freet, another Mason.
Sam was calling for assistance for a bright young man who had just lost his
Masonic father, the boy was in need of a job.
Land agreed to help. The young man he met gave Land an
inspiration to form a young men's club, to meet at the local Scottish Rite
Temple. The original group was a gathering of nine boys. It was an unusual
idea, but a powerful one. The resulting 'club' ultimately gave way to a
Masonic Order for young men. As the group developed, it turned out to be a
youth organization dedicated to helping the young men to advance to a position
of prominence in his chosen field of work.
The chosen image was that of the last leader of the Knights
Templar, Jacques DeMolay. The 'club' stirred the imagination of the boys. In
the image of Jacques DeMolay, they found heroism, loyalty and courage. The
legend of knighthood and chivalry was inspirational. The boys immediately
likened to the image of martyrdom, to fidelity and toleration.
In the beginning, Land didn't intend for this group to become a
junior Masonic group. Land was only focused on the idea of the young men
growing into decent men, respected in the community.
The 'club' of DeMolay was officially launched on March 24, 1919.
However, honoring the date of death of Jacques DeMolay, March 18 came to be
more frequently used.
Originally, thirty-one boys met at the Scottish Rite Temple to
officially form the club. Frank Land agreed only to serve as an advisor,
guiding the organization and election of the first officers.
During the first few months the group grew in such numbers,
activities and various interests that produced a concern among the young men
that they were growing too rapidly. Land intervened for the first time,
advising them to begin thinking in terms of a much larger organization. They
did exactly that.
Today, DeMolay has chapters in all states of the continental
U.S. and is an international organization, as well. The Order provides young
men with guidance for character development through moral and spiritual
development. The Order emphasizes a reverence for God, loyalty to their
country and respect for parents and advisors.
DeMolay provides an opportunity for young men to work as a team,
developing character and helping others. DeMolay promotes friendship and
service, while also teaching leadership skills. DeMolay membership is open to
young men, ages 12 to21, without a requirement for a Masonic family heritage.
The order does not follow any specific religion, but requires the members to
have a belief in a Supreme Being.
The meetings follow an interesting tradition, containing ritual
modeled after typical Masonic lines. The Officers of the Order wear a suit &
tie with symbols of the order, provided by the Chapter. Meetings are
typically held twice a month. Programs are planned and conducted by the
members, themselves, with assistance of the adult volunteers.
The initiations are solemn, meaningful and impressive
ceremonies, conducted by the officers. The Initiation is conducted with
respect for the new member, without any sort of embarrassment or test of
courage. Parents are always welcome at the initiations and all of the open
activities. Those parents with a Masonic membership are encouraged to attend
the regular DeMolay meetings.
Membership in DeMolay promotes teamwork and friendship among the
young men, while building self-confidence. The ritual work forms an excellent
background for public speaking. The members learn many skills which will pay
a dividend throughout his life. While the membership builds character, while
serving the community, they also take time for fun.
DeMolay meets in what is termed a Chapter. Their primary symbol
is essentially a Crown, topped by a knight’s helmet, with crossed swords.
However the symbolism goes much further.
The crown is described as being symbolic of the Crown of Youth,
constantly reminding a DeMolay member of his obligations and seven precepts of
his Order. On the Crown are ten rubies, honoring the founder – Frank S.
Land - and the nine original youths of the Order. The helmet is described as
being emblematic of chivalry, without which there can be no admirable
character. In the middle of the crown is a crescent, said to be a sign of
secrecy, constantly reminding the members of their duty to never reveal the
secrets of the Order or betray the confidence of a friend.
A five-armed White cross in the center of the crown symbolizes
the purity of the member’s intentions, always reminding the member of the
motto of the Order, "No DeMolay shall fail as a citizen, as a leader and as a
The crossed swords are emblematic of justice, fortitude and
mercy. They symbolize the unceasing warfare of DeMolay against arrogance,
despotism and intolerance. Ten stars surround the crescent; symbolic of hope
intended to remind a member of their obligations and duties which one brother
of the Order owes to another.
OTHER MASONIC AFFILIATED BODIES
The "Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm" was
organized in 1889, in Hamilton, New York; originally called, the "Fairchild
Deviltry Committee." The Order sprang from a desire for relaxation and laughs
and hence the name "Deviltry," not to be confused with any sinister
associations. The Order is a social organization for Master Masons only.
While the Grotto maintains an emphasis on fellowship, the
charitable side of the order is involved with providing funds to the United
Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation.
TALL CEDARS OF LEBANON
The Tall Cedars of Lebanon was formed in 1902. It is a
charitable organization, also emphasizing vigorous support of the Muscular
Dystrophy Association. Additionally, the group sponsors scholarships among
Masonically related youth groups; visits veterans in hospitals and nursing
homes, as part of the Masonic Services Association Hospital Visitation
The organization also offers many social activities for the
enjoyment for members and their family.
The Tall Cedars enjoy a beautiful ritual with dramatic meaning;
taken from The Bible in I Kings, II Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
The forests present "The Prologue and Royal Court," depicting the building of
King Solomon's Temple.
LADIES OF THE ORIENTAL SHRINE
The Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America is an
international organization, organized in 1903. Beyond the expected
fellowship, the Courts extend financial support and assistance to the Shriners
Hospitals for Children with an emphasis on the hospital fund, hospital sewing
and other special projects.
DAUGHTERS OF THE NILE
The Daughters of the Nile was formed in 1913, as an
international, non-profit organization, composed of women (only), related to
Masonic Shriners. The Order also assists the Shriners with their charitable
work; promoting fellowship within the order. In particular, the Daughters of
the Nile assist the Masonic Shrine with the patients at the Shriners Hospitals
ORDER OF THE WHITE SHRINE OF JERUSALEM
The White Shrine of Jerusalem is also a Masonic affiliated
organization for both men and women may belong; organized in 1894. The
Order’s ritual is based on the Christian religion and upon the life of Christ.
Its membership does noble deeds and acts of kindness to all mankind.
While Masonry has as ancient a history as one can ask for, it
also had its share of history as a "secret society." In all likelihood, in its
origins, such secrecy was a serious requirement. However, following its
emergence into the public view, it quickly attracted opponents who dedicated
themselves to exposing any and all secrets of the fraternity. In reality,
doing such accomplished nothing except creating resentment by those who
mistakenly gave their trust. Never has Freemasonry held secrets or private
information which was any type of threat to anyone with integrity.
Freemasonry has contributed more to civilization than it will
ever get credit for. However, its opponents have rationalized the society as
almost something demonic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It may be said that the quality of Freemasonry is attested to by
the nature of its enemies. A little known fact is that the Masons were the
avowed number two target of Hitler; enough said.
While every organization seems to make its share of mistakes,
Freemasonry has held such to a minimum by virtue of the accountability within
Unfortunately there have been a few mistakes. One of the most
dramatic was the infamous "Morgan Affair," of 1826. The incident involved the
intended exposure of the Masonic rituals by William Morgan, of Batavia, New
York. What is certain is that the local Masons learned of the intended
exposure and went to extremes to prevent it. However, the incident involves
far more myth than fact. The local Masons originally tried to buy Morgan's
material. Later they had Morgan criminally charged on a number of accounts.
Unable to get satisfaction, they had him released from jail and essentially
held him as their own prisoner for several days, legally regarded as a
There ends the known facts in the case. Morgan disappeared with
no reliable accounting. The press took the position that he'd been murdered
by the Masons, but there was no shred of evidence to indicate that was true.
However, in that time frame of history, it was not unexpected that the public
believed that he had been murdered.
While a connection probably can’t be proven, it is interesting
that Morgan’s widow became the wife of Joseph Smith, originator of the
From the "Morgan Affair," sprang a little known political party
known as the Anti-Masonic Party. While it would seem unlikely that such a
party would have much of a following, it had the effect of closing many Lodges
and retarding the growth of Masonry for approximately ten years.
In addition to other groups, Freemasonry has attracted more than
its share of attention from the radical Christian religious groups; a curious
paradox in itself. It would seem that such groups selectively cancelled the
teachings of tolerance, love of neighbor and understanding taught by Jesus.
Blind ambition and power seem to have been taken as a Christian license - it
doesn't make sense.
In the 1990s, a fundamentalist Christian group led a major
charge to condemn Masonry. The assigned researcher ended up reporting that
there was no significant conflict between Freemasonry and Christianity. In
consequence, he was fired, later joining the Craft. In the end, the religious
group was left to cite Masonic membership as a matter of individual
While the internet is a fertile ground for pros and cons of any
subject, Freemasonry is routinely targeted there as well.
Prince Hall Masonry
In 1775, Prince Hall, with fourteen other black men,
approached Sgt. John Batt of Irish Constitution military lodge No. 441,
attached to the 38th British Foot Regiment, stationed in Boston; asking to be
made Masons. Following the requisite due course and associated instruction,
Batt ‘made’ them Masons on March 6, 1775.
Petitioning the (Premier) Grand Lodge of England, a dispensation
was issued for these 15 Freemasons to meet independently, as African Lodge No.
1, making them the first Black freemasons in the United States. Prince Hall
reportedly went on to fight as a soldier, during the 1776 War for Independence
Following the war, Prince Hall approached the Premier Grand Lodge
of England again, requesting a Charter. In brief, the associated communication
was chaotic. A Charter was finally issued in 1784, to meet as African Lodge
No. 459. However, given the communications problems, they didn’t receive the
actual charter until 1787.
Appropriately, Prince Hall acknowledged the receipt of the Charter
and proceeded to advance Masonry, amongst the black community. The associated
Charter, held under lock and key, is in the custody of the African Lodge of
Massachusetts. This particular Charter may be the only original charter issued
by the Grand Lodge of England, still to be found in the United States.
History suggests that blacks were not universally denied membership
in the predominantly white Lodges, in the same time frame. However, those
black Freemasons in the white Lodges are now generally treated as being
historical exceptions; the racial issue has never totally gone away. Some
Black Freemasons complained that while they were made legitimate members,
their social treatment within the Lodges was another story. No doubt the
matter was highly dependent upon the location of the particular Lodges,
relative to the infamous “Mason-Dixon Line.”
In 1791, the prince Hall Masons formed their own Grand Lodge. In
1827, a Declaration of Independence from the English Grand Lodge in 1827 was
drafted, emulating the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts separation action in 1772.
Thus the Prince Hall Masons then assumed all powers and prerogatives as an
independent Grand Lodge. The major battle for Prince Hall recognition was
started by William Upton, of Washington State, in 1898. In 1899, the
Washington Grand Lodge Proceedings contained his famous paper,
a Dark Subject.” The interim history is too lengthy to be written here.
Let it be said that it was a bitter fight.
Finally, in 1994, the United Grand Lodge of England extended
official recognition to the Prince Hall Masons. Following that event, those
who had not previously recognized the Prince Hall Masons fell into line – but
not all. While there are some uniquely procedural issues in some cases, it
cannot be denied that racism is still on the loose – on both sides.
Today, the Prince Hall Masons generally enjoy the recognition of
being ‘regular,’ operating as a parallel Masonic system, commonly having
WOMEN AS MASONS
A distinction must be made between women desiring membership in
“…the Men’s Club,” and organizations emulating the traditional male-only
version, which include organizations of exclusively women; or those commingled
with male members (Co-Masons).
In the interest of clarity, this presentation is primarily
referenced to the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), as a 'benchmark.'
Thereafter the associated "mainstream Freemasonry" is offered for additional
For further clarity, it must also be mentioned that two important
terms get involved – “clandestine” and “irregular.” The
generally accepted distinction is that 'clandestine' and 'irregular' are
synonyms. However, elsewhere (the Internet, for example), a definition is
suggested that "clandestine" Lodges are those Lodges operating without a
charter from any “Grand” authority; 'irregular' Lodges are those operating
with a charter issued by an unrecognized Jurisdiction. At least for the time
being, 'numbers' dictate the daily reality, in favor of mainstream
Even with that being said, it sometimes occurs that one 'regular'
State or Territorial Jurisdiction (Grand Lodge) will find itself at serious
odds with another Jurisdiction. In an extreme, one Jurisdiction (or more) can
deny recognition to a 'target' Jurisdiction; until the associated problem is
For the moment, let us regard “irregular” Lodges and Jurisdictions
as those lacking official sanction of a given Grand Jurisdiction and/or the
United Grand Lodge of England – unique by virtue of the collective of its age,
numbers, money, power and politics – add dominant acceptance and direct or
Relying on the information above, Female Masons and Co-Masons are
presumed to be treated as ‘irregular;' being on par with “clandestine.” Yet,
the matter lacks perfection, given the paradox that if such were the Gospel,
there could never be an absorption or recognition of a Lodge or Jurisdiction
which never had previous official recognition, nor with any Lodge or
Jurisdiction which lost its recognition/charter, for whatever reason.
Sometimes the problem is moot; sometimes complicated.
THE HISTORIC BACKGROUND
To digress, before 1717 there was a long list of Masonic Lodges
operating without any central ‘supervision.’ Some of the oldest documents of
‘operative’ (stone-cutters and builders) Lodges do mention women members.
Given the antiquity of those documents, the issue of the women’s employment as
rock cutting masons is treated as historic information, as opposed to
carry-forward guidance; or ‘fraternal grandfather rights,’ if one prefers.
Obviously, in the shadow of the 1717 culture(s), the men asserted dominion.
The historic suggestion is that the pre-1717 “speculative” Masonic
Lodges were often enough a smoking, drinking and ‘wenching’ society (after
Lodge was closed). This was also a time when women had no appreciable rights,
versus more typically being a cook, house maid, and the nanny-in-chief. Thus
it is rather ‘natural’ that Freemasonry quickly became uniquely a men’s club,
with a multitude of reasons/rationalizations for excluding women. Males
shackled with any form of servitude, bondage or slavery were also prohibited
from membership. (Again, given that background, the question as to where the
term “Freemason” came from should be moot, as opposed to an item on the
current Masonic list entitled, “No one knows…”)
In London, England, the year of 1717 witnessed the organization of
a “Grand Lodge,” originally only intending to have a series of regular annual
Masonic feasts – for the benefit of only four Lodges. Given that social
‘rank,’ was a sensitive matter of the time, the excluded Lodges became excited
over their exclusion and the rest of the story is elsewhere written. Quickly,
the “Grand Lodge” club began to assume increasing power, over its associated
Lodges. In consequence, multiple Grand Lodges sprang up, with the expected
vitriolic rivalry. Just shy of a full century later, the disputes were finally
settled with the 1813 merger of the existing English Grand Lodges, yielding
the “United Grand Lodge of England.” The rapid expansion of Lodges between
1717 and 1813 brought a huge number of Lodges under the new United Grand Lodge
of England; those Lodges being scattered all over the globe.
Lodges having a Charter tracing back to the several original
English Grand Lodges, now combined, are deemed ‘regular.’ The generally
accepted modern ‘test’ for Masonic legitimacy is whether or not the United
Grand Lodge of England recognizes a belief system describing itself as
“Masonic.” That’s not to say that the United Grand Lodge of England doesn’t
independently and quite respectfully acknowledge ‘outside’ organizations as
practicing a technically ‘different’ style of quality Freemasonry, relative to
the United Grand Lodge of England standards. Cordial relationships and mutual
respect between ‘regular’ Masons and other bodies claiming to be Masons are
common; particularly via the internet. There are many (male) Masonic
Jurisdictions, not recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England - and
constituent Jurisdictions. On occasion, a single Lodge has lost its
recognition - permanently.
Some ‘irregular’ (male) Masonic systems suffer only because they
are chartered by other Grand Lodges failing the “regular” (UGLE) Masonic
‘acid-test.’ Such it is with those commonly termed “Co-Masons.” Among other
matters lies the lack of the ‘Charter legacy standard’ for the United Grand
Lodge of England for ‘legitimacy.’
WOMEN AS ‘REGULAR’ MASONS
There are women Masons; just not in the ‘normal’ mainstream history
of traditional ‘Masonic’ association. Anymore than the Vatican having
universal control over all Christian Churches, the UGLE has its version of
'Grand' competition, all over the globe.
Males-only Freemasonry, relying heavily on its traditions, prefers
to not include women in the Lodges, while otherwise providing for both
integrated and segregated “concordant” organizations, quite deliberately
honoring the dominance of women, in those organizations. In mutual
reciprocity, men are denied membership in uniquely female organizations, such
as the "Ladies Oriental Shrine" and the "Daughters of the Nile;" with no
segregation issues from the 'male' corner. Historically, the male-only groups
work in harmonious concert with the female-only groups, particularly when it
comes to charity works.
Mainstream Masonry additionally provides for the previously
mentioned youth groups such as Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls and DeMolay.
The fact of the matter is that there is no significant rivalry
between Co-Masons and mainstream Masonry. Granted, it's common enough for a
few males to get into a fantasy "What if...." discussion.
In the case of women wanting to join a Blue Lodge (rarely
encountered), the general response of the males has been to question what
women would expect to accomplish, besides breaching centuries-old traditions
and culture. Popular to say or not, the debate traces back to the primal
‘norms’ behind segregated public restrooms and the non-registration of women
for the military draft. Add the gender-specific sports, as well.
Unfortunately, when there are any accusations of 'sexism,' most
arrows primarily point toward the term, “tribalism;” however overt or subtle.
In general, within any organized society, one is not allowed to be
‘different,’ without the license of 'consensus' – subject to whatever form of
disgruntled opposition, which may exist. As Einstein stated, “Great spirits
have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” What
better philosophy on the imperfections of humanity?
Civilization cannot seem to overcome its consistent and nearly
unexplainable humanity, oft primal in nature. Any cited exceptions don’t
provide a powerful enough lever to reliably alter history, nor to
significantly redirect the future of the Craft. Some little-understood primal
force dictates that there will be Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; never the twain
shall merge (successfully). Therein lays the background of this presentation.
There is no denying that women have, on rare occasions, been made
Masons , contrary to the flag of ‘regularity;’ they simply lack the necessary
legacy to meet the required test for full UGLE Lodge recognition – logical
debate being ineffective. The issue being that while they were made Masons, it
was against the dominant rules/preferences of the day; also lacking any
implied “Grand” consent. As one can immediately suspect, politics’ was/is
commonly the distinction. As one extreme example of such history, Benjamin
Franklin, a renowned Mason, was deemed ineligible for a Masonic Funeral, given
a Masonic schism of the time. As great a Mason as he was; he didn’t meet the
‘test’ of the day – tragically.
There is also no shortage of debate in the case of certain factual
(male) “exceptions.” However, the exceptions are so few as to not have any
significant impact, beyond interesting discussion and debate, heated or
Again, the most common objection to women being admitted to
‘regular’ Lodges is a function of hardened tradition, according to the Masonic
obligations, or ‘oath’ if one prefers.
The Co-Masonic effort began in 1789, with a series of French
Masonic break-away groups, eventually resulting in an organization referred to
as “Le Droit Humain,” which loosely translates to “Freedom for all of
mankind.” They promulgated their own Lodges in France, England, Canada and the
United States. Co-Masonry reached U.S. soil, around 1903. Some organizations
were uniquely feminine, others Co-Masonic (often termed “androgynous;” a
mixture of men and women). Co-Masonic women typically refer to each other as
The variety of Co-Masonic “obedience’s,” as they are termed, are
numerous and globally scattered. Most women-only and Co-Masonic groups trace
back to Le Droit Humain, with many ‘associated’ Co-Masonic groups, practicing
a variant standard, such as a mandatory belief in a Supreme Being (typically
not a requirement under most French Grand Lodges).
The historic suggestion is that there  were/are uniquely female
groups, and that there were/are two primary rival groups of Co-Masons in the
U.S. - both originally starting out under the auspices of Le Droit Humain.
At the current time, the Co-Masonic group calling itself the
“American Federation of Human Rights,” appears to be the more successful of
the two – and now operates independently of Le Droit Humain.The American
Federation of Human Rights has a long and proud history; and an extensive
spread of individual Lodges in the U.S. There is no significant suggestion
that the Co-Masons are trying to force themselves onto the ‘regular’ Lodges.
Comparably, there is no significant attempt by any Co-masons to attract
‘regular’ Masons into their persuasion.
Some of the Co-Masonic groups have a long, rich and admirable
history; there is no available denial. The real mystery is why they are not
better known. Their charitable works should have brought more ‘press’ than has
While the Internet offers a significant volume of information about
women as Masons, in the real world of Masonic curiosity, one quickly discovers
a general aura of "Don't ask; don't tell;" add "Live and let live."
Or, in military parlance the women Masons live in a "Need to know"
environment, intent on keeping a low profile. The typical 'regular' Mason is
best advised - in the interest of peace and harmony - to be satisfied with
whatever "Wikipedia" has to offer; and move on.
However, if a debate is still to be had, it should be noted that
one of the most powerful arguments made for the recognition of Co-Masons as
‘regular’ Freemasons is the history of the ‘recognition’ of the Prince Hall
Masons, whose Charters trace back to the now United Grand Lodge of England.
However, that connection, alone, doesn't hold up against other Masonic
recognitions. The official recognition of Prince Hall Masonry took roughly 2 ½
centuries, not lacking in heated debate in the interim.
Pertinent also, is the proverbial ‘rub’ of the seeming precedent
for the recognition of Prince Hall Masons - long being regarded as
“clandestine.” Arguably, if Prince Hall Masonry had been originally deemed
“clandestine,” there (logically) could never have been the necessary
communication to achieve the recognition, which now exists. It should also be
illustrated that globally, Prince Hall Masons are not that much of an
exception in history.
Dismissing any logical debate, Co-Masonic organizations are most
typically assigned, or simply regarded, as “clandestine,” by mainstream
Freemasonry. Not ‘fair,’ but …… there is every evidence that the most of the
women-only and Co-Masonic organizations don't want any part of "mainstream
Masonry." The only possible conclusion is that 'recognition' is 100%
"situational politics," pure and simple.
The ultimate debate must address the fact that there is no
single standard for 'recognition.' Most Jurisdictions, for example, demand
conformity to "The Ancient Landmarks;" while being unable to define those
landmarks to any satisfactory degree. Often enough Jurisdictions violate their
own cited 'landmarks;' resorting to "situational politics."
The “clandestine” and “irregular” distinctions also leave another
interesting opportunity for debate. Separately, Masons are prohibited from
“Masonic communication” with a known clandestine Mason. Yet ironically,
‘regular’ Masons can discuss Freemasonry with any other men or women; with no
offense of the male Masonic Obligation - hence, part of the debate.
History and logic aside, the definition (for those who brave the
question) of “Masonic communication” is most typically lacking in definition,
but seems to refer to correspondence (written, verbal or electronic) which
borders on mutual recognition or acceptance, amongst officers, Lodges or
Jurisdictions; with another possible definition of simply “comparing notes."
For the moment, the "bottom-line answer" as to the definitions
of "clandestine, "irregular" and "Masonic communication" would most likely
produce a 'Grand' response of "Damn any debate, logic, definitions and
distinctions, just don't do it!"
(So mote it be!)
The Myth of the "Illuminati"
Suffice it to say, that the "Illuminati" died in 1785, with no
viable record of its survival or resurrection. Beyond bizarre, clever or
paranoid associations, the ‘Illuminati’ exists as a computer game and a card
game. Still its history is appropriate to be told.
The best of reliable history attests to Adam Weishaupt founding
his "Illuminati" in Bavaria in 1776. His organization was originally called
the "Order of the Perfectibilists." Its original intention was for its members
to attain the highest possible degree of morality and virtue, laying a
foundation for the reformation of the world by the association of good men to
oppose the progress of moral evil – details unknown. Weishaupt did not join
the Freemasons, until 1777.
Weishaupt was educated by Jesuits, known for their strict
discipline. This was a time when any significant knowledge was considered to
be a source of ‘power;’ to be coveted by those in authority.
In 1775, Weishaupt was appointed as professor of Canon Law at
the University of Ingolstadt, Bavaria; becoming the first non-ecclesiastic to
hold the position. Weishaupt's system of "Illuminism," contained in his
"Order of the Illuminati," was spawned with the aid of a small group of his
students, described as ‘anti-royalist’ and ‘anti-clerical.’
There is no question that after he became a Freemason in 1777,
Weishaupt attempted to incorporate his system of ‘Illuminism’ into the
teachings of Freemasonry. However, that attempt failed. Still, the
Illuminati briefly exercised a considerable amount of political and social
influence; ultimately ended in failure and banishment, in 1785.
In all likelihood, Weishaupt’s original intentions were noble.
Amidst all the associated rhetoric, there is no clear record of what the
Illuminati intentions were, or became. The best accounts suggest that he lost
control of his Order, due to internal conflicts and Church spies.
Weishaupt’s primary associate was Baron Adolph Knigge, another
Freemason. Knigge was known for being religious, thus it is highly unlikely
that he would be associated with anything truly nefarious.
While there may be a variety of ‘claimants’ to the name/term
"Illuminati," there is no viable documentation to suggest the original
organization actually survived 1785.
However, the ideas of – or claimed to be – the "Illuminati," are
not unique in time. Thus, such institutions as Hitler’s Nazis could be argued
as an outgrowth or ‘survivor’ of the Illuminati.
Needless to say, as with witchcraft, education, intelligence and
prudent judgment are required on the subject.
Freemasonry contains an incredible resistance to change,
particularly where its rituals, symbols and legends are concerned. The
reasoning behind this resistance is found in the philosophy,
"Why tamper with progress?"
In the Christian concept of the "Trinity," one finds a ‘modern’
translation which converts the "Holy Spirit" to the "Holy Wind." That quickly
leads one to believe that a Church service without a minor hurricane is less
than Godlike. Such is the effect of poorly controlled "consensus" and
tampering with historic progress.
Hence it’s academic that the "time immemorial" value within the
Craft, is to be discovered in its antiquity; modified by any factually
necessary cultural mandates, over time.
So, looking at the various expressions of Masonic antiquity,
what is one to do with the "enigma," as addressed in the book title? Again,
an "enigma" is a challenging puzzle, something difficult to understand. What
clues do we have and where do they lead?
Alas, for all the thousands of volumes written on the topic of
Freemasonry, there is so little space herein. The "answer" to the enigma is
an enigma, by itself, far outside these pages. The answer which most Masons
are taught to seek is available – hiding in plain sight. But it’s a bit of a
complex answer. And, we’re back to the issue of a personal estimate of
‘probability,’ versus well-documented fact. Unfortunately Freemasonry has
little better to offer, in the way of truly accurate information.
The core of Freemasonry is found in a single Masonic drama,
involving a legend of a "Lost Word," which would serve as something of a
magical talisman – if known. Alas, according to the Masonic legend, the
single holder of the "Word" – Hiram Abiff - is killed before he can share the
"Word"; and mankind is the worse for it.
BUT, the "legend" gives way to a detractor’s ‘logic.’ If
only one person had this ‘word,’ just how good or powerful was it to begin
with? As though some master builder – anywhere in time - is going to be
‘given’ this magic word, by a potential ‘employee,’ pull out his leather
stringed purse & extract a fax he got, verify that the word is correct and
give some former builder from Solomon’s temple a good paying job. The logic
Yet, the York Rite proponents passionately insisted that there
was just such a word. All of Freemasonry is steeped in this single legend.
That legend goes on to cite a "substitute" word, which is relatively well
known from the various Masonic exposés. Amazingly, relatively few Masons
actually know the correct ‘substitute’ word – or it’s significance. That’s
the eroding effect of the ignorance which time has a way of producing. So one
must assume that there must be more to the story – and there is!
In the midst of Masonic lore is found:
"In the beginning was the Word;
And the Word was with God;
And the Word was God"
Put "probability" to work; instead of a singular word or
expression, was "The Word" – the word of God – His teachings? And,
suddenly, the pieces all fit. In the legend of the Fourth Degree, was the
secret word the name of God, or "The Word of God" – the God of the Hebrews -
in three languages? Could "Hiram" actually symbolize Jesus – the mortal and
That would take Masonic history back to the account of the
Templars - legendary, or otherwise. It only makes sense that if this was the
powerful "secret" which the Templars were in possession of; the Catholic
Church – as it’s now known – would have been threatened with total collapse.
‘Power’ has a history of never voluntarily surrendering. Yes, complexity
begins anew; begging the question -
"What if …..?"