Category Archives: Masonic

Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees? A four-part article by Mike Lawrence. Part Four

To conclude the article, I began with the question “Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees?” and I first looked at the start of the squared stone building industry in England in the early Middle Ages. This was followed by a look at the organisation of Masons in England and Scotland in the high and late Middle Ages. I then moved to that period what modern day Masonic historian’s call the “transition” which is in fact, the reasons that made men, who were not involved in the building trade or craft want to become non-working or Accepted mason and join a lodge alongside working masons.

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So, to answer the original question, I think we may apply the following scenario, first put by Revd. Barker Cryer:

“There is a realisation amongst Masons that ritual material once possessing infinite mystical value had at some time been discarded from some old practices and suddenly revived and expanded into a rite purporting to restore the genuine secrets”

Can we apply this to Mark Masonry?

The first record we have of Mark Masonry in England is on 1st September 1769 at the Royal Arch Chapter No. 257 when certain brethren were made Mark Masons, after which they chose their mark.

Obviously for there to be a ceremony on that night would certainly indicate a ritual of some kind was used which logic dictates would have been introduced before that date. We know that there is an occasional reference to the term “mark” in several earlier documents, but the same goes for “arch”, but they are not necessarily used in the context with which we understand Mark or Holy Royal Arch to be, so sadly this does not indicate a full separate degree or ritual being practiced earlier than 1769.

The re-introduction of assigning marks could be considered as a once discarded practice, but the Mark ceremony does not have the same antiquity and therfore cannot be.

So, the answer to the first scenario is, NO!

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Secondly, the Revd. Barker Cryer says:

“One of the peculiarities of ritual growth is that customs discarded from the ritual or ignored through lack of understanding in one place surprisingly turns up in another at a much later date.”

This could apply to Mark Masonry as the use of marks, the discarding of spoilt stones and the name Adoniram, pre-date Craft practices, but this does not necessarily prove a direct unbroken chain or link beyond the Craft. After all, much of the Craft system is evident in Mark Masonry, the giving of tokens, signs and words, the administration set up, the position of some of the Officers and the use of the lodge room, which as we know was a late 18th century innovation. Lately, the Mark Degree did developed an independent Lodge room, but this was not prior to the development of the Craft Lodge room.

So, we could partly answer yes to the second scenario, but not with any conviction as we still have no further clues to the antiquity of the Mark Degree, nor that it was ever an independent order.

The final point to make is that we must not confuse the use of mason’s marks and their antiquity, particularly as they have been found on the earliest of squared stone buildings, as being the basis for an independent Mark Degree. Marks were used by all trades to identify the producer or maker or the origin of the piece of work and in this case, given to all qualified stone masons who were not, at that time, known as Mark Masons.

There may even have been a short ceremony involved in the choosing of a mark at the end of an Apprenticeship, but end of Apprenticeship rituals (being one of fun, frivolity and initiation into the trade generally at the expense of the newly qualified individual) was by no means exclusive to Masons. I am sure so many of the more mature Freemasons, will recall from your youth, before the advent of Health and Safety, the things that were done to blood the newly qualified Apprentice on the completion of his indentures.

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It was the French that had a great fondness for religious and chivalric ceremony and this is evident by the development of hundreds of Masonic, non-Masonic and quasi-Masonic degrees which are held by the Grand College of Rites and which included such rituals as:

The Egyptian Rite                    The Rite of Memphis

The Order of Dervishes           The Rite of Mizraim

The Martinist Order                The Early Grand Rite of Scotland

Then we have:

The Rite of Memphis Mark     The Travelling Mark

The French Mark                     The Black Mark

The Ragon Mark

Therefore, many of the Degrees which have, these days, attached themselves under the Masonic banner were developed in France in the early 18th century and their antiquity, which appears to have been lost in the midst of time, in truth date back no further than that.

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So whether we like it or not, we are left with the knowledge that as our Craft Ritual bears little resemblance to pre-1717 practices, particularly as most of the its ritual, dress and surroundings etc., were innovations developed many years after, so I believe Mark has that same distinction.

Mark Masonry is not older than the Craft Masonry, it is not a direct or closer link to Operative Masonry, nor as it is often described “a completion of the Second Degree”, nor is it actually officially recognized within the Grand Lodge of England, as being “pure and antient masonry.”

However, like the Craft, knowledge of its past and its development should never detract from this most beautiful and friendly Degree or the deep spiritual message it contains, neither should it go unacknowledged the great role played and the work carried out by the Mark Benevolent Fund.

For more information about the Mark Masonry please visit:

https://markmasonshall.org/orders/mark-master-mason

https://markmasonshall.org/mbf-home/mark-benevolent-fund

<ends>

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Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees? A four-part article by Mike Lawrence – Part Two

We commence the second part of this article with a look at the term ‘Lodge’. A word often found in old manuscripts and spelt in a variety of ways for example: logia, logge, loygge, luge, ludge, a word derived from old French Gallic, meaning hut and which appears to have been used both in England and Scotland in three different senses:

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A) In both countries, the term lodge was used to designate a mason’s workshop that was generally erected in connection with all building operations. Hence, we read in the Vale Royal Abbey building accounts of 1278, that carpenters were paid to erect lodges. The same goes for masons’ lodges and workshops at Catterick Bridge in 1421, Kirby Muxloe Castle in 1481. Then we have details of repairs to masons’ lodges at Beaumaris Castle in 1330 and Westminster Abbey in 1413.

 

The lodge was in fact a workshop where masons cut, dressed and carved stone and it would be fair to say that they would also have taken their permitted breaks within its walls, as at the lodge attached to York Minster in 1370 and St Giles, Edinburgh in 1491. It is also most likely that within its walls, questions affecting the masons trade were discussed along with difficulties experienced during work, techniques, grievances and without doubt, superstitions, fables and stories passed down from the beginning of English squared stone building. We must bear in mind that the Regius MS c.1390 and the Matthew Cooke MS c.1450, our earliest MS contain both charges and the legendary history of the craft.

B) In both countries, the term lodge was often used to describe a group of masons working together on the same building operation. Thus we find references to them at York in 1352 which refers to by-laws and ordinances, Canterbury in1429 which refers to its members as the “masons of the Lodge“, Aberdeen in 1481 which refers to conditions of employment and Edinburgh in 1491 which refers to written statements of old established customs. In effect, it is highly probable that the lodges were in fact much older than the respective dates shown which is only the earliest traceable evidence and not necessarily the start or formation dates.

C) In Scotland, the word Lodge was also used to describe an organised body of masons associated with a particular town or district. In the Schaw Statues of 1598 &1599 we read that “Edinburgh shall be the first principle lodge and Kilwinning the second.” From the St. Clair Charters of 1601 & 1628 we learn of other territorial lodges at St. Andrews, Dundee and Glasgow to name but three. These lodges carried out certain official duties of a trade nature including the regulation of Apprentices, keeping records of the reception and entry of Apprentices, the admission of Fellow Crafts and assigning marks to members. Other duties included settling disputes between Masters and their servants, ensuring no cowans were employed, ensuring Masters did not employ Apprentices or Journeymen of other Masters, collecting funds by way of fees and fines, relief of the distressed, feasting at the expense of the candidate and conferring the Mason Word on qualified members.

But the organizational set up in both England and Scotland were different. Scotland had “Incorporations”. Very briefly, these existed in certain Scottish burghs for the ruling and governing of particular crafts. Established under what is called the “seals of cause”, they were rules and statutes made by the craftsmen and approved by the municipality. Part of the role of the Incorporations was to protect the public or consumer by seeing that the work was properly carried out by authorised and qualified craftsmen to an good quality level.

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In England there were “Craft Gilds”. Surprisingly, the term “Craft Gild” was an invention by 19th century historians who used it to distinguish a particular type of medieval municipal organisation which was concerned, like the Incorporations, with industrial trade regulation and quality, from that other municipal organisation, the “Merchant Gild” which was more concerned with the trading of goods for the whole town.

In medieval documents the organisation which we call a “Craft Gild” is described as a fellowship or mystery, the term has nothing to do with secrets or mysteries of ancient mythology as has long been believed, but the mystery of the craftsman’s trade or his skill, which he long considered his ‘secrets’ and which he would only pass on to an accredited apprentice.

However, since the beginning of the belief that there is a transitional link between stone/operative masons and non-operative or accepted masons, Masonic writers have wrongly devoted considerable space and time to the stone workers fraternities and their mysteries by mistakenly overlooking the fact that the secrets and mysteries of an artisan was his professional skill and not ritualized secrets or mysteries from an ancient civilization.

In essence, there is little evidence to prove that a mason’s fraternity of this kind existed at all in London before the13th or 14th centuries. For example, the names of those elected and sworn in, in 1328 from the various Mysteries in London to represent the government of these organisations included no masons whatsoever. But things change and in 1356, the introduction to the “Regulations for the Trade of Masons” state that, “unlike other trades, Masons had not been regulated in due manner by the folks of the trade” actually implying that there were no craft guilds or mysteries up to that date. However, it was another twenty years later in 1376, that we find the first specific reference to a permanent organisation of masons in London, when four masons were elected to the Common Council to represent the Mystery and the probability is that an organization for masons was established sometime between 1356 and 1376.

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There is some belief that mason’s organisations existed in towns like Chester and Newcastle, because of the evidence we have that masons participated and performed miracle plays in those towns. The trade regulations in the “York Memorandum Book” of 1376 to 1419, contains details of over forty trades, but no reference to masons, and the same is for Coventry. In Chester there is evidence of the participation in such plays appears in the late 16th century, while at Newcastle a Masons Company was incorporated in 1581 with certain duties which included the presentation of a Corpus Christi play. However, we do find specific mention of wallers, bricklayes, daubers and slaters who were granted Charters under Henry VI 1422-1471.

From the Ordinances of 1481 and 1521 it is clear that we have the London Masons Company, a medieval fraternity or mystery with an oligarchy formed or forming within it, as had happened in many other trades.

Interestingly we note here that “foreigns” or non-freemen were not allowed to be employed, while freemen are available. Restrictions were placed on apprentices, one allotted per member and two for liverymen or those that had twice been wardens. Restrictions on the employment of “foreigns” or non-freemen applied up to 1666, when the rebuilding of London, after the great fire, changed the monopolies once held by the mason’s trade.

One of the problems relating to the mason’s trade which one might have considered part of their “ordinances and records” might concern the control or issue of mason’s marks. The Blacksmiths, helmet makers, bladesmiths and braziers of London were all subject to regulation by way of the maker’s marks, but certainly in London no provision regulating the use of marks has been traced in the Masons ordinances, nor has any book survived in the archives, although masons marks can be found on the earlier built Westminster Abbey.

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Having said that, documents dated 1452 do in fact refer to marks and we are told: “A fellow who has learned the work may appear before his Master and, on exhibiting proof of his skill, the Master may award him a mark…and…the master shall within 14 days of his becoming a Fellow, deliver to the new craftsman his mark.”

End of part two.

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Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees? A four-part article by Mike Lawrence – Part One

Being a review of the long-held belief that the Mark Degree, more than any other, appears to be connected to or resembles operative masonry and therefore predates the Craft in its practice.

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For over twenty-five years I have been researching, writing and lecturing on the subject of Freemasonry. During my time of study, I have purposely stayed within the confines of realistic fact, actual records and authors that are generally regarded as bona fide Masonic historians and not sensationalists. Many of these authors to whom I refer are now dead, but their aims were to promote Masonic knowledge for knowledge sake, not purely for monetary gain.

Therefore, as boring as it may sound, I have never allowed and do not submit myself to read 90% of Masonic publications both old and new, that took or continues to take Freemasonry into the realms of pure fantasy, romantic hypothesis and sheer speculation, and which are and always have been, detrimental to the craft. I guess we cannot blame these authors for writing such things as our first “Books of Constitution” (1723 & 1738), which were sanctioned by Grand Lodge, were no more than historical works of fiction.

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These as we know, were freely exported to America, translated into French and German and as masonry is universal, probably reached every corner of the world. Ultimately, these innocent books infiltrated all Masonic belief, indoctrinated scores of Masonic writers and underpinned the belief that Freemasonry was something that it was not. I personally believe it was the cleverest unintentional hoax of all time.

Incidentally, the copyright of these two “Books of Constitution” belonged to James Anderson, and although as explained sanctioned by Grand Lodge, he was the sole financial beneficiary. In fact, in 1735, when a certain book entitled, “A Pocket Companion for Freemasonry” was published by William Smith, Anderson not only persuaded Grand Lodge to allow him to produce a second copy of his work, particularly as copies of the first edition were now exhausted, but encouraged Grand Lodge to resolve that the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges should discourage their members from buying Smiths book.

But this article is not about Dr. James Anderson, but rather to examine the question:

“Is the Mark Degree older than the Craft Degrees?”

Born from the assumption that brethren who are advanced to the rank of a Mark Master Mason make, soon after their admission, which is that the Mark Degree, more than any other, would appear to be connected to or resemble Operative Masonry, and therefore predate the Craft. Of course, by Operative Masonry I mean that class or fraternity of men that by their skills during the Middle Ages built those wonderful cathedrals and churches which have stood against all odds and in many cases defied the laws of gravity and continue to grace England’s skyline to this very day. Therefore, we can honestly say that in the whole Masonic system, no Degree seems to lay claim to having a greater antiquity than the Mark Degree as it appears to connect or forge links between the modern day system and the much older operative system?

Let us begin by looking at the start of the squared stone building industry in England in the early Middle Ages. Early medieval buildings in Britain consisted mainly of wood and clay (wattle and daub); therefore, the artisans engaged in these buildings were general carpenters and daubers, not masons. In fact, both Britons and Scots were unfamiliar with stone building which involved the use of squared stone and mortar.

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It was probably the Church that introduced the art and it was evident from early in our history that craftsmen from abroad had to be brought to England to do any form of squared stone work. For example, in 674, Benedict Biscop brought craftsmen from Gaul to help build a stone church, in the Roman style, at Wearmouth Abbey. In 709, St. Wilfred, according to a 12th century chronicler, brought masons from Rome to build his church. Further records by Bede in the 7th century, make references to stone churches in Lastingham and Lincoln.

Now there is little doubt that once this art of building and carving was introduced some knowledge was acquired by native artisans, but the likely hood that early building work was performed by local masons, as their own specialist occupation is probably untrue, as their main occupation was connected with agriculture, as in England, stone working during the first millennium was more a by-occupation of farming.

At that time the French were more architecturally advanced than the English, and it took the Norman Conquest before we begin to see the substitution of stone, for wood and clay. In was the Norman influence that led to the development of stone building in this country which started almost immediately after the invasion of 1066 with the building of, cathedrals and castles, followed by abbeys and priories.

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The use of stone and brick in domestic architecture was a later development still, at first used only for chimneys. In was not until the 17th century that they were commonly used in house building.

So the first records we have of a group of stone cutters being brought together as a group or brotherhood was at the building of Magdeburg cathedral in Germany in 1211. This coincides with Milners “History of Winchester” which tells us that in 1211, Bishop Lucy established a company of workman to further the building of the cathedral.

The erection of abbeys, priories, cathedrals, churches and castles implies that the Church and the Crown were the principle employers of masons and this had a profound effect on the organisation of the industry. For example, the typical medieval artisan was his own master, he owned or purchased his own material, worked it with the assistance of an apprentice or journeyman and sold what he had produced. It was his own business.

However, the medieval mason was, by design, a wage earner, who was employed by an agent acting on behalf of the church or crown for whom the building was being erected. Occasionally called a contractor, or in some cases an independent small-scale employer who specialised in supplying rough-dressed stone, ashlars, and moldings.

Records show us that in general medieval building sites had a “Clerk of the Works” who would oversee the financial operation and the “Master of the works” who would oversee the technical side and in many cases prepare the plans and drawings. There were generally two or three types of stone-workers employed on the work and these were:

1) Hewers or Freemasons, who dressed the stones with mallet and chisel.  The superior craftsmen belonging to this category and were able to elaborately carve and shape stone.  They were also occasionally employed as setters. Their work was mainly carried out on site.

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2) Layers or Roughmasons, who laid ashlars. They often roughly dressed stones with an axe or scappling hammer and also laid finished stone, these could work on site if laying or at the quarry.

3) Quarriers, who mainly uncovered the stones, split and broke them and in some cases carried out some rough hewing or dressing with broaching axes and obviously worked at the quarry.

 

As a final note to this section, work on a medieval building site stopped during the winter months which was generally around November through to March and the majority of those employed where either dismissed or suspended. This was because the mortar used was subject to low temperatures, frosts and snow. Having said that, Freemasons who were responsible for caving and shaping often continued their work throughout the winter in their site hut.

So, this ends the first section which sets out to show how the stone building industry first started in England and how this trades’ employment conditions were quite different from most other trades. Next, we look at the organisation of Masons in England and Scotland in the high Middle Ages.

Approximate Historical Periods

Dark Ages                                                            4th – 7th Century

Early Middle Ages                                            8th – 10th Century

High Middles Ages                                           11th – 13th Century

Late Middle Ages                                             14th – 15th Century

Medieval Period                                               5th – 16th Century

The Reformation                                              1517 – 1648

The Renaissance                                              14th – 17th Century

Opening up of the New World                      16th Century

End of part one

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I Greet You Well! By Mike LAWRENCE

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All profits go direct to the TLC Appeal http://tlcappeal.org/

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 This book contains twelve easy to read lectures packed with all manner of Masonic facts and information. Read at home to establish a good Masonic knowledge base or present to the Lodge on nights when you are without a candidate. Time tested and performed many times by the author, these thought provoking, fascinating talks will definitely incite discussion as they explore many of our more popular subjects by explaining the origin of some of our traditions and exploding the myths and legends of others.

With over 60 illustrations and ranging from 20 to 25 minutes in duration, the lectures were primarily designed to suit Freemasons of all levels of understanding and rank.

With titles including: Stealing History – Surviving History – Those Twenty Nine Words – English Accepted Masonry versus Scottish Non-Operative Masonry and Why the Knights Templar were not the Founders or the Custodians of the Secrets of Freemasonry; there is something for everyone.

 

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 

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The Christian origin of Freemasonry By Michael Lawrence

A short paper dispelling the suggestion that our ritual is of Jewish origin.

I was very interested to read the following statement found recently on a Masonic Facebook page to which I subscribe, it was followed by the question, “What is your opinion?”

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Old Gothic Constitutions 1390 – 1690

From the earliest of recognised English Masonic documents, i.e. the Regius Poem c.1390 and the Matthew Cooke MS, c.1450, which were in fact, Trade Documents written for the control and behaviour of Operative Masons, there is a distinct Christian emphasis. This emphasis is repeated in all the later documents generically called the “Old Gothic Constitutions”, which are of a similar nature, This pre-reformation Trinitarian influence which is Catholic in its inference, is soundly and securely based on the religion of the realm at that time, which was Christian.

An example being the Invocation or Opening prayer in each document, which always runs along these lines:

“The might of the Father of Heaven, with the wisdom of the glorious Son, through the grace and goodness of the Holy Ghost, that be three persons in one Godhead, be with us at out beginning, and give us grace so to govern us here in our living that we may come to His Bliss that never shall have ending. Amen.”

Certainly, no Jewish influence there.

The following link may be helpful.

http://www.masoniclibrary.org.au/research/list-lectures/86-gothic-constitutions.html

Having made that statement, an important point to make relates to the Edict of Expulsion. In 1290, Edward 1, issued the edict expelling all Jews from the Kingdom of England. The edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages. The edict was not an isolated incident but the result of over 200 years of persecution of the Jews in England. It is generally accepted that the Middle Ages ran for about 1000 years, approximately from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, to the rise of the Ottoman Empire.

Therefore, initially we can dispute the original statement on two counts because:

1) The Jewish people were expelled from England at that time.

2) The Operative Masons were erecting Cathedrals to the Glory of a Christian God.

So we can say that there was no Jewish influence within these documents and as there is no suggestion or even direction by any of the writers, that the contents should remain secret. I therefore propose that there is no hidden Jewish message found in the same.

Early Masonic Exposures, 1696 – 1730

The main foundation of early ritual in England is based on a group of three Scottish documents dated between 1696 and 1714, written out laboriously by hand and possibly used as a guide or aides-memoir. They are:

 1) The Edinburgh Register House MS, 1696 – Found in 1930, in the Old Register House, Edinburgh, among a number of papers transferred there in 1808 and was in no way related to any of the papers or records which it was stored with.

2) The Chetwode Crawley MS, c.1700 – Found in a collection of volumes purchased as a lot, c.1900, from a second-hand book collector.

3) The Kevan MS, c.1714 – Found in 1954, among a collection of old legal documents belonging to a firm of Solicitors practising in Berwickshire.

The problem with these MS is that without validation, they can only be seen as interesting or curious artefacts of a bygone age. However, by a very rare stroke of luck, an interesting discovery led students to the possibility of validating the previously three mentioned documents.

Haughfoot, was a hamlet near Stow, Galashiels, in the Scottish Lowlands and at the end of the 17th century, it consisted mainly of a staging post for horses and carriages and would have been the most unlikely place for a Lodge to be established as the region consisted mainly of gentry and local land owners, not stone works or masons. But it was in fact, the place where Scotland’s first wholly non-operative Lodge was founded, on 22nd December 1702 and here’s the twist of fate, it would appear that at the commencement of that Lodge, the ceremonies were written in the first several pages of the Lodge minute book to the extent that the last twenty-nine words of the ceremony commenced at the top of a new page and at the completion of the written ritual text we find the following words:

 “The same day”

Indicating that the ritual text was written and completed before the first meeting of the Lodge which was held on the same day.

These four documents agree closely with eleven others, generically known as the “Early Masonic Exposures” and continue the exact same pre-reformation Christian influence.

Dr James Anderson

It was during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Montagu that when “finding fault with all the copies of the old Gothic Constitutions, order’d Brother James Anderson A.M. to digest the same in a new and better method” (Douglas Knoop and G.P.Jones, The Genesis of Freemasonry, published by Q.C. Correspondence Circle Ltd., 1978 edition, p.160)

One unforeseen problem which also occurred is taken up by Wallace Mcleod in the 1986 Prestonian lecture.

“…At the Annual Festival on 24 June 1718, when the Grand Lodge was one year old, the new Grand Master, George Payne, “desired any brethren to bring to the Grand lodge any old Writings and Records concerning Masons and Masonry in other to shew the Usages of antient Times; And this Year several old copies of the Gothic Constitutions were produced and collated.”

                Even in those early days there were reticent Masons who did not choose to risk disclosure. In a narrative of the incident Anderson wrote, “This Year, at some private Lodges, several very valuable Manuscripts…concerning the Fraternity, their Lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets and Usages…were too hastily burnt by some scrupulous Brothers, that those Papers might not fall into strange hands.”

It is generally agreed however, that of the few London lodges that formed part of George Paynes Grand Lodge at that time, between them they would only have held a small amount of texts or paperwork regarding “the Fraternity, their Lodges, Regulations, Charges, Secrets and Usages”.

How valuable to the Craft from an historic stand point they might have been, we shall never know, but the general consensus is that they were more probably one, or possibly two copies of the Gothic Constitutions that were destroyed which in any case would have been hand written reproductions of existing copies.

The main object of Andersons role was to bring some sort of order to the current manuscripts available to him at that time and in doing so he produced the first Book of Constitution, 1723. Anderson, being a Presbyterian Minister his Constitutions were influenced in that manner.

Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures and the necessity of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Its roots lie in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

Anderson, refined the basic Christian influence of the existing documents and produced the following statement:

Concerning GOD and RELIGION.

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid ATHEIST, nor an irreligious LIBERTINE. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished ; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.

Freemasonry therefore became Deistic, that being the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe, like that of Natural Religion, which is based on reason rather than divine revelation. It is a system of advocating or emphasizing morality. Morality being one of the founding principles Freemasonry was founded upon.

This now took Freemasonry away from that pre-reformation or Catholic ethos, and all but began the process of de-Christianisation.

Conclusion

The reason why people have give traction to the opening statement,  is because in order to tell the Masonic story and illustrate the message of fidelity, the vehicle chosen was the building of King Solomon’s Temple, but that does not make the story Jewish.

Stories, passwords, quotations and various inferences, were all taken from Christian Bibles, not the Talmud, especially the message of the Third Degree, which has caused some Jewish lodges to make the following change to the ritual:

From – “…lift our eyes to that bright Star, (inferring Jesus. See Revelations 22:16) whose rising brings peace and salvation…”

To – “…and lift our eyes to Him whose divine Words brings Peace and Salvation to the faithful…”

The purpose being the Jewish creed does not recognise the Christian belief that Jesus is their Saviour,

The stories and scriptures of the Old Testament were alogorically used to illuminate salient points of our discipline and no more.

Therefore our Freemasonry is founded on the simple premise, i.e. that we have a belief in a Supreme Being, not what religion or creed we follow and that is why we must be:

“…good Men and true, Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions we may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.”

Therefore the suggestion that our ritual was influenced by Judaism is incorrect, as is the general belief that Freemasonry in general, is Christian. Our society in multi-denominational, and long so may it remain so.

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Bad Craftsmen always blame their tools! By Mike Lawrence

A defence against those brethren that consider our ritual cumbersome and archaic.

Masonic_books

I don’t know how many times I have heard brethren absolve themselves from poor ritual delivery by claiming that it is archaic, repetitive and boring.  Then come the other excuses that those claimants make which suggest that our new initiates leave because of it.  This is closely followed by the debate that it causes the meetings to go on to long.

Well my friends, I must vehemently contest such complaints with the riposte that so many of our problems lie in the disorganisation of our DC’s, the unnecessary matters emanating from the Secretaries table and the monotone verbiage of some of our W.M.’s.

If you then couple this with the difficulty that many brethren face when trying to repeat verbatim, each ceremonial part and the subsequent poor presentation we have to suffer, it all goes to set us up for immediate failure.

Like so many, I am not adverse to the review or reform of any of our practices, but the claims by some about our ritual are by no means unusual, but neither are they insurmountable.  It fact, if we all took Freemasonry a little more serious, we would solve so many of the problems highlighted.

For example, it is neither rare nor uncommon for mature brethren to nod off during any proceedings, but this is not due to the ritual.  I have witnessed this during church services, theatres, cinemas, seminars, etc.

It is not through boredom, lack of attention, nor medical condition, just that which dictates that elderly people rest more frequent than their younger counterparts.  However, when younger brethren sleep during the ceremony it is generally through inebriation, total lack of interest and little or no understanding of what is going on.

Shutting one’s eyes during a ceremony to concentrate does not constitute sleeping and I know several brethren who, as they progress through the offices of the lodge, use this method to learn the ritual by repeating it in their heads the words along with whatever officer is speaking.

The problem is that very few brethren choose to learn no more about this noble science than that which is contained in their little ritual book.  This means that many brethren hear and repeat words and phrases, and carry out actions that they have no idea where they originated.

Yes! It may be said that much of the ritual which we practice today may be two hundred years old, but ask yourself this – Where did it originate?  What you will find is that so much of it predates not only the 1813 Union, but  also the 1717 formation of Grand Lodge.  In fact, much of it originates from the Old MS Charges of which some dated from c.1390.

If only lodges would use the Lodge of Instruction to do exactly that. Instruct!  Each lodge should be able to provide their candidate with a comprehensive reading list and study programme of instruction and training of which the net result would enliven all that we do.

That is where we let the new initiates down, we send them home that evening with no more than a Book of Constitutions, a copy of the lodge bye-laws and a list of second degree questions of which they have little or no knowledge about.

With regard to the lengthy Installation ceremony, all proceedings can be modified slightly without detracting from the ethos of the event.  All good DC’s with the co-operation of Lodge officers and Past Masters should be able perform a crisp ceremony with good continuity and succinct presentation.  The key lies in the Lodge of Rehearsal.  Such a ceremony warrants several rehearsals to ensure perfection.  Unfortunately, many Past Masters asked to perform certain parts of the ceremony, consider that attendance at rehearsals are beneath them.

While on the subject of ritual delivery, it is facetious to suggest, as many do, that it is no more than an admirable piece of theatre.  If that is the belief, then surely most of us should perhaps conduct ourselves like actors and put more effort into leaning our lines.  It’s a churlish suggestion, although I would propose that a dialogue coach would not go amiss.

When a brother stumbles mid-sentence, we are never short of rude brethren who try to correct him, often times so loud that it causes embarrassment to all. That behaviour also undermines that appointed officer who normally carries out that particular role as discreet as possible and generally by previous arrangement or signal.

As so many brethren are intimidated by the activities of learning and delivering the ritual, we obviously let our brethren down by not providing good teaching, training and learning methods, and this I consider should be another priority.

Minutes of the previous meeting, along with a brief report from the Almoner and Charity Steward could be sent prior to the meeting along with the summons.  This would reduce the business from the secretaries table and other officers who often believe that after two hours of Masonic ceremony, brethren cannot wait to hear from them.  I always get the impression that so many brethren need their ‘five-minutes’ of fame.

It is the inverted snobbery and pomposity of senior brethren, and all lodges have them, that is slowly affecting the membership of the Craft.  Having said that, we must also acknowledge that all age-old institutions are currently being affected by numbers joining, Freemasonry being no exception to this.

The improvement of our ceremonies lies in the hands of our past-Masters, to coach, encourage and train officers and members.  It also rests upon us all to maintain standards of decorum and dignity and to conduct ourselves with solemnity while in open lodge.  Also that we ‘put-in’ 110% in learning any assignment we may be asked to carry out and to earnestly seek help if needs be, otherwise we should gracefully decline.  There is nothing more embarrassing to a candidate than to see a brother struggling to deliver a piece of ill-learnt ritual.  How selfish we can be sometimes.

Having said that, we have all heard well rehearsed ritual. I recall the time when one brother was so enthusiastic with his delivery of the second degree tracing board lecture that those present felt sure he was about to let the Ephramites win!

Joking aside, if ritual needs be read for clearer understanding and accuracy then so be it, but please lets not blame it, alter it or modernise it just because we ourselves cannot deliver it with the respect, the learning and the understanding it demands.

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The Temple and the Masonic Tradition By Mike Lawrence

Freemasons’ meeting places have traditionally been known as Temples, and although this is rather an archaic word, many still argue that its retention in our vocabulary is justified for three reasons. The first being that it is a reasonable name to apply to an institution and a place where the Great Architect of the Universe, is venerated. Secondly, as a continuing reference to King Solomon’ s Temple, the story of which has exercised such a considerable influence on Masonic ritual, symbolism and teaching. Thirdly, the Lodge room itself, is representative, during the ceremonies, of King Solomon’s Temple. The Worshipful Masters Chair affectionately known as the Chair of King Solomon.

However, there are those that consider the very term ‘Temple’, evokes thoughts of Freemasons making daily propitiations to an unseen Deity by way of worship, offerings and sacrifices. Therefore, one can find as many brethren in favour of the term, as against it. But that is a matter for personal choice and not the subject of this paper.

Our subject is the Temple of King Solomon and the Masonic tradition.

king-solomon-temple

It was during the nomadic period of the Israelites, that the focus of their devotions was centered on the tabernacle, a portable tent which was erected and dismantled during their wanderings. When erected, it housed among other things, the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of God.

When David finally settled in Jerusalem, he wanted it to become the center of the people’s religious life, so he ordered the Ark to be brought into the city to be given a permanent home in a building, i.e. a temple or house of God.

David’s plans met with opposition from the prophet Nathan who announced that God never needed a temple when the tribes were wandering in the desert and he did not need one now and with regard to the building of a house to God, God in fact would establish a house of David, a dynasty from which the Messiah would come. But Gods refusal was only temporary; it was because David was not a suitable person to build a temple because he was a warrior king with blood on his hands, he was only allowed to choose the site for the building, the honour of building the temple would belong to his son, Solomon.

Just north of Jerusalem, was a higher and taller summit known as Zion which belonged to a Jebusite named Araunah. During a plague which killed seventy thousand people in three days, an angel appeared to David and stood on the threshing floor of Araunah, which was at the summit of the mount. David quickly recognised the fact that as well as using the threshing floors to separate the chaff from the wheat, the Jebusites used their threshing floors for prophetic divination, worship and appeasement of their storm god Baal. David therefore decided he must build an altar there and by paying for the land, the altar, and the oxen to be sacrificed, he would in fact ensure that the sacrifice would be without obligation to anyone but “Yahweh”, his God. From that point on, the site of the Temple was clearly marked out.

This piece of land where the Jebusites made sacrifices to the God Baal, now became the place where the Holy of Holies would be built, that innermost sanctum of the Temple on that great rock, which can still be seen today in the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.

Dome on the Rock

Muslims say it was this same spot where Mohammed ascended on his Night Journey to Paradise. Orthodox Jews claim it was where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. It was also the place also where David ultimately brought the Ark of the Covenant.

Over the next few years, David consolidated his position. Having already combined the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, roughly where Israel stands today, he also subdued the kingdoms of Edom and Moab in the east and Damascus in the north.  Today the areas of western Jordan, southern Lebanon, and central Syria were all once part of David’s empire but are now, countries in their own right.

King Solomon also extended the city of Jerusalem to include the holy mount and began a large and ambitious building program which included a palace complex, for his huge harem of 700 princesses, the 300 concubines, who were gifts from foreign rulers and a grand palace for his Egyptian wife. He built a large armory, a judgement hall and on the ancient threshing floor which once belonged to the old Jebusite, Araunah, he built the Temple.

Building the temple was no mean feat and the Bible tells us that Solomon ordered 30,000 Israelites to be divided into three groups of 10,000 and working in shifts they cut timber in Lebanon for a month, and then worked for two months in Jerusalem, while another 80,000 were sent into the mountains to quarry stone for the foundations as a further 70,000 porters carried the stone to the site.

Building

There were 3,300 supervisors overseeing the building work. The construction which began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, took seven years and five months to complete which would have been from about the spring of 958 BC to the autumn of 951 BC. The internal dimensions have been estimated to be no more than, 120ft by 30ft, and possibly having an Oriental appearance, shewing Phoenician or Egyptian influences.

It was constructed on lines which we would find very strange today, as it was not a building where priests and laity met together for worship. On the contrary, the Temple courts were all that the laity would ever see, not even the King himself could advance further than the porch or vestibule.

The Middle Chamber, (or shall we say the nave) contained the Altar of Incense, and was reserved for the offices of the priests, whilst the windowless Sanctum Sanctorum was a place which even the High Priest himself could enter but once a year.

Of all the work carried out in the Temple, nothing was more remarkable than the enormous basin known as the Sea of Bronze and the two huge bronze pillars named Jachin and Boaz. In those days, casting on such a large scale was both difficult and technically advanced and the man sent by King Hiram to carry out the work was described as being “filled with wisdom and understanding” and “a widow’s son”, better known to us in the Masonic setting as Hiram Abiff.

Although we never pretend that our traditional history of the fate of Hiram is anything but allegorical, it is good to be reassured that our story is built around a historical character, and one who furnished an essential link between the Scriptures and the Masonic craft, and was capable of being regarded as the central focus around whom our ceremony of Raising could be constructed.

Ultimately, some 400 years later this wonderful building laid waste and looted by Nebuchadnezzar who made the people captive. It was eventually restored by Zerubbabel but by this time the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared.

After many vicissitudes, this Temple in its turn was finally demolished by Herod who was hated by Jews for his pro-Roman attitude, he sought to regain their favour by rearing an even mightier edifice in Graeco-Roman style. This last Temple had but a short span of existence and in the great Jewish insurrection of AD 70, it was completely destroyed by the Roman armies.

Thus, the only remaining fragment now known to man of these successive buildings is part of the huge stone retaining wall which formerly banked up the Temple platform from the valley on the West, known as the ‘Wailing Wall’.

Wailing Wall

We can speculate as to the origins of that other part of our ceremonial based on the Temple structure, that of the Middle Chamber. It would have been quite reasonable during the period before dedication whilst building operations proceeded, for part of the structure to have been temporarily used as a wages office and this might well have been that portion of the main building just inside the porchway later to be reserved for the offices of the priests. However, this seems doubtful when considering the sheer volume of the workforce, the size of that vestibule, the winding staircase and the Middle Chamber itself.

But regardless of this, it adds to the colorful story of our ritual.

On the matter of the two Great Pillars, archeological research lends itself firmly in support of the view that there were two great free-standing columns, and moreover that our Masonic names are not only correct historically, but more or less correct in their interpretation, for though the writings on the one began with something like ‘God will establish thy throne for ever’, whilst those on the other begun with ‘ In the strength of God shall the King rejoice’.

I think we understand that whilst some of our mental and visionary conceptions of the Temple now appears to be misconceived and based on misunderstandings, at the same time many of our earlier doubts about the validity of Old Testament references have in great measure been resolved, and it is on these evidences that the main substance of our masonic tradition was founded.

While archeological research has improved our historical and theological knowledge and thrown more light on the Jerusalem Temple, nothing has transpired in the least to threaten our confidence in the allegorical and symbolical uses we make of it for our mutual moral benefit, or to make us think of abandoning any element of the progressive science of Freemasonry, to which we as brethren owe so much.

Based on an article by W. Bro.  The   Reverend Canon J. R. Prophet P.D.G.Chap.

 

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part Two of Two. By Mike Lawrence

Section six – Architectural Styles of the Pillars

The five orders of Architecture were identified as early as 1562, in a book by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, who wrote about classical architecture. The book identifies the five orders as Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite with each part subdivided into other parts, all illustrating the styles of the colonnade arcade, arcade with pedestal, individual pedestal, entablatures and capitals.

Joseph Gwilt in The Encyclopaedia of Architecture explains the term ‘order’, thus:

“An Order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform”

8

The origin of the five Orders are thus.

  • The Doric order originated on the mainland and western Greece and is the simplest of the orders.
  • The Ionic order came from eastern Greece and its origins are entwined with the little known, Aeolic order.
  • The Corinthian order is the most ornate of the Greek orders and is characterized by the slender fluted column with ornate capitals decorated with two rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls.

It was the Romans that adapted all the Greek orders and  developed two other orders which were modifications of the Greek orders, but they were not named or formalised as  Tuscan and Composite,  until the Renaissance period. Therefore, the Tuscan order was a very plain design, with a plain shaft, and a simple capital, base, and frieze and the Composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic with the leaves of the Corinthian order.

Section Seven – The Origins of Pillars

Prior to the discovery of the Arch, it was primitive man that discovered the fundamental building principle of the upright and lintel, that is, the use of two upright posts supporting a beam or lintel. This made it possible to add doorways and windows and is found in early buildings all over the world.

The Egyptians, seeing the principal of the post and lintel, translated it into great columns supporting entablatures. The Greeks following suit used the same to form for their classical colonnades in such buildings like the Parthenon. The Chinese adapted a roof structure of decreasing posts and lintels piled on top of each other to support wide eaves of their roofs The Japanese used post and lintels to form the gateways to their temples.

temple-of-karnak

The Temple at Karnak

Section eight – Ritual Anomalies

a) In the explanation of the Second-Degree Tracing Board we are told the following:

“Those Pillars were further adorned with two spherical balls on which were delineated maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes, pointing out Masonry Universal.”

I have three problems with this statement:

1)  In 1 Kings 7:41 we read that: “The two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;”. The Volume of Sacred Law explains that the “spherical balls” were in fact “bowls”.

2) The second issue is that there were maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes delineated on those balls. Of course, there were no known such maps when King Solomon’s Temple was build.

3) The third point is that Masonry at that time was not universal and did not exist.

b) When we speak of King Solomon’s Temple in the Second Degree, we refer to a Pillar that is situated on the right. This takes its rise from:

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

Both verses are taken from the King James Version.

The ritual goes on explain that the right-hand Pillar “…was so named after Jachin the Assistant High Priest who officiated at its dedication.” However, the fact remains that it was not named after him and he did not officiate at the dedication of the Temple.

c) From the Explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board, we are told in relation to those two great pillars that, “They were formed hollow, the better to serve as archives to Masonry, for therein were deposited the constitutional rolls.”

As you know there was no Freemasonry (as the Lecture implies) in those days and certainly no Constitutional Rolls.

Which all goes to show, our Traditional History is not historically accurate, but written to highlight salient points of our discipline.

Section nine – Humour

I recall one evening when a well-established Past Master, was called upon to present a recently Raised Master Mason with his Grand Lodge Certificate.  As you are aware, there is a no formal ceremony for the presentation, however there are guidelines on specific details to be included.

The brother was received enthusiastically and proceeded to display his remarkable knowledge of the origin and design of the certificate. As usual he had us all spellbound and he proceeded to the section that explains the three pillars, he went on: “…the outstanding feature of the design is, as you will notice, three pillars, each with its corresponding base. The one in the centre, like the Worshipful Master’s pillar in the Lodge, is of the Ionic Order adopted by Masons as an emblem of Wisdom and has reference to Solomon, King of Israel, and his wisdom in building, completing and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service.

The pillar on the left, like that of the Senior Warden’s, is of the Doric Order, emblematical of strength, such as the strength of Hiram, King of Tyre in supporting King Solomon with men and material.

The right-hand pillar, like the pillar of the Junior Warden, is of the Corinthian Order, the emblem of beauty…” at that point the brother halted, looked to the South, directed his comments to the Junior Warden and remarked, “…although I don’t know what happened in Brother Jones case” and calmly continued the presentation.

Needless to say, a loud ripple of laughter when thriugh the Lodge.

Section ten – Conclusion

I do not pretend that these two articles are exhaustive, and I have no doubt that with further research one could find lots more information. I also cannot confirm whether there is an inference to the Kabbalah.

The usages, traditions and practices Freemasonry are taken from many cultures, however, from that point on they are referred to in the Masonic sense only, and not used to symbolise the same as their earlier use may have implied. They are employed to accentuate salient points of our discipline and do not refer, imply, or associate themselves with past cultures of civilizations.

This is why many have confused Freemasonry with earlier cultures and  practices, which has tended to give Freemasonry a much earlier origin, that it actually has.

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The Additional Degrees By Bernard Jones With additional information supplied by Mike Lawrence

Organised speculative masonry had not long emerged into the dim light of the early eighteenth century and begun to see itself as a system of three Craft degrees before Brethren were tempted to add ceremonies which sought to explain and extend those they already had. The lively, fertile mind of the French mason, who had received speculative masonry from England and was to return it with many elaborations, was soon at work devising rites, which, when introduced to the freemasons of Great Britain (as degrees of allegedly Scottish origin, it is thought) were welcomed in many quarters as amplifications of the ancient ceremonies with which they were now familiar.

It may help to restate very briefly the suggested explanation of how it came about that the earlier and more important of these innovations came to be widely accepted. Some of the innovations were of considerable interest, told an attractive story, exemplified a highly developed symbolism, or reintroduced a definitely Christian motif.

Royal &amp; Seclect

Curiously, they were given the warmest encouragement by those who one might have thought would have been the most obstinate in refusing to have anything to do with them, for whereas the Premier Grand Lodge officially looked askance at this particular kind of innovation and continued to do so all through the eighteenth century, the “Antients”, who derided their opponents as being “Moderns”, were-paradoxically enough – the chief agents in the spread of the invented degrees.

Such authorities as W. J. Songhurst and J. Heron Lepper agree on this point. “I see in every British Knight Templar or Chevalier Rose Croix”, says the second of these writers, “a probable scion of “Antient” craft masonry.”

The additional degrees are often called the “higher degrees”, but the term seems hardly fair to “pure, ancient masonry.” The “highest” degrees must always remain those which authentic masonic history proves to be the oldest. They are the three Craft degrees. Other degrees may be designated by higher numbers, but in no sense other than, in some cases, that of a more highly developed symbolism, can they be said to be higher a statement which does not in any way detract from their value or beauty.

RAM_Logo-298x300

The Grand Lodges of England and of all English-speaking countries acknowledge the Craft degrees and, to a varying extent, Royal Arch masonry and Mark masonry. All other degrees are “additional” or “side” degrees, and among them the Rose Croix and the Knights Templar occupy honoured and exceptional places.

It would be unfair to conceal that there have been masonic students of great merit who would not agree with this judgment. For example, J. E. S. Tuckett contributed to A.Q.C., vol. xxxii, a learned paper inquiring into the development of the separate exclusive degrees, and in the course of it he expounded the theory that these degrees were founded on freemasonry’s pre-1717 “store of legend, tradition and symbolism of wide extent”, of which from 1717 the Grand Lodge, selecting only a portion of this store, gradually evolved the three Craft degrees and the Royal Arch. His views, highly controversial, received little support.

KTP

Experienced Brethren, whose opinions matter, agree that the better known and more important of the additional degrees possess special and peculiar value, and that in them is much that serves to throw a revealing light upon the symbolic content of the fundamental Craft degrees. But the words of W. J. Hughan in his small but valued work The English Rite should not be forgotten. He says:

“It is much to be regretted that after a lapse of over a hundred and fifty years [he was writing in, say, 1884] the inordinate craving to amplify, distort, and sometimes misrepresent the beautiful ceremonies of the Craft, which were, doubtless, in part adapted and continued from the older organization, has not yet exhausted itself.”

It will be understood that it is no part of the purpose of this chapter to enter into detailed explanation or discussion of the additional degrees. Instead is appended a list (by no means exhaustive) based upon one in C. Walton Rippon’s paper in the Transactions of the Merseyside Association for Masonic Research (vol. viii (1930), with addition information from Mike Lawrence.

A &amp; A Rite

Each Order has its own entry criteria based on one or more of the following: 1) Belief in the Trinity, 2) Subscribing member of other specified Orders, 3) By invitation only.

(Note: The list is as complete as I could prepare at this time and the following Orders are compatible with the United Grand Lodge of England. I would be grateful for any amendments, corrections or additional Orders practised outside the English Constitution under other jurisdictions. Mike Lawrence)

The Holy Royal Arch

The Order of Mark Master Masons

The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners

The Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees

  • St Lawrence the Martyr
  • Knight of Constantinople
  • Grand Tilers of King Solomon
  • Red Cross of Babylon
  • Grand High Priest

The Order of the Secret Monitor

  • Secret Monitor
  • Prince
  • Supreme Ruler

The Order of the Scarlet Cord

The Royal and Select Masters

  • Select Master
  • Royal Master
  • Most Excellent Master
  • Super Excellent Master
  • Thrice Illustrious Master Degree (The Order of the Silver Trowel)

The Ancient and Accepted Rite

  • 1o-3o Craft Degrees
  • 4o Secret Master
  • 5o Perfect Master
  • 6o Intimate Secretary
  • 7o Provost and judge
  • 8o Intendant of the Buildings
  • 9o Elect of Nine
  • 10o Elect of Fifteen
  • 11o Sublime Elect
  • 12o Grand Master Architect
  • 13o Royal Arch (of Enoch)
  • 14o Scotch Knight of Perfection
  • 15o Knight of the Sword or of the East
  • 16o Prince of Jerusalem
  • 17o Knight of the East and West
  • 18o Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of H.R.D.M.
  • 19o Grand Pontiff
  • 20o Venerable Grand Master
  • 21o Patriarch Noachite
  • 22o Prince of Libanus
  • 23o Chief of the Tabernacle
  • 24o Prince of the Tabernacle
  • 25o Knight of the Brazen Serpent
  • 26o Prince of Mercy
  • 27o Commander of the Temple
  • 28o Knight of the Sun
  • 29o Knight of St Andrew
  • 30o Grand Elected Knight K.H., Knight of the Black and White Eagle
  • 31o Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander
  • 32o Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
  • 33o Sovereign Grand Inspector General

The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and St John the Evangelist

  • Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine
  • Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
  • Knight of St John the Evangelist

The United Religious Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta

  • Knight Templar
  • Knight of St Paul or Mediterranean Pass
  • Knight of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta

The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests

The Order of the Holy Wisdom

The Royal Order of Scotland

  • The Heredon of Kilwinning
  • Knight of the Rosy Cross

The Rite of Baldwyn of Seven Degrees Time Immemorial at Bristol

  • Craft Degrees
  • Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch
  • Knights of the Nine Elected Masters
  • Scots Knights Grand Architect and Scots Knights of Kilwinning
  • Knights of the East, the Sword and Eagle
  • Knight of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta, and Knights Templar
  • Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel

The Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Walkers, Slaters, Paviours, Plaisterer’s and Bricklayers

  • Io Indentured Apprentice
  • IIo Fellow of the Craft
  • IIIo Super-Fellow, Fitter & Marker
  • IVo Super-Fellow, Setter Erector
  • Vo Intendent, Overseer, Superintendent & Warden
  • VIo Passed Master
  • VIIo Passed Grand Master Mason

The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A)

  • Io Zelator
  • IIo Theoricus
  • IIIo Practicus
  • IVo Philosophus
  • Vo Adeptus Minor
  • VIo Adeptus Major
  • VIIo Adeptus Exemtus
  • VIIIo Magister
  • IXo Magus

The August Order of Light

  • First Degree
  • Passing Degree
  • Second Degree

The Order of Eri

  • Man-at-Arms
  • Esquire
  • Knight

The Holy Order of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City

  • Scottish Master of St Andrew
  • Perfect Master of St Andrew
  • Squire Novice
  • Knight Beneficent of the Holy City

The Order of Knight Masons

  • Knight of the Sword
  • Knight of the East
  • Knight of the East and West

The Order of Athelstan

The Order of St Thomas of Acon

 

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“Hello! I must be going!” (or Sage advice for the more forgetful Freemason!) By Mike Lawrence

Considering the number of meetings, a moderately active Freemason might attend, it proves time and time again that other than his wife or partner, a well-kept diary proves to be the best companion he could ever wish to have.

images

For example, being a member of a Lodge, Chapter and one other Degree would amount to possibly fifteen meetings per year. Then there are the Lodges of Rehearsal/Instructions which could add another thirty nights per year. Committee meetings, Ladies nights, Visits, Social or Charity events could easily add another twenty evenings, giving an approximate total of sixty-five nights out of a season which generally lasts about eight months.

For some very active Brethren, this number of commitments could be doubled, and I have met many a Brother whose Masonry takes up four or five nights per week.

Of course, a four-night per week Freemason is not necessarily a better Freemason than a one-night a month man. Freemasonry is a very personal matter and can build and develop the character and knowledge of the man who belongs to one Lodge, just as quick as his more active Brother. So, it’s not such a case of quantity, but quality that counts.

As for the moderately active Mason, you will regularly see flashes of his well-thumbed diary. You will notice as he desperately tries to maintain some sort of balance between his desire to attend his meetings, please his friends by visiting their Lodges and the more consequential aspects of his life which consist of the demands of his family, work and most important, his pocket.

It is not therefore uncommon for him to have the occasional lapse of memory or incorrect diary entry. Thus, despite the manifold Communications we may receive, the array of Committee minutes posted to us or the plethora of verbal invitations hastily scribbled down in our diaries. We undoubtedly will make the occasional mistake.

gytrr

Like the brother who texted me quietly as I sat at the Secretary’s table an hour into the ceremony to ask what time the meeting started.

Then there was Brother Organist, who I considered to be very keen for he arrived two hours before a meeting was due to start. I had just finished preparing the rooms for a meeting of a Rose Croix Chapter. He asked if it would be in order for him to practice the organ in preparation for the meeting. He was obviously oblivious to the unique and unmistakable lay out of the Red room and promptly started to play the most beautiful melodic, yet stirring music of the marches of Sousa and the Waltzes of Strauss.

In the meantime, having returned downstairs, the Brethren began to arrive and immediately began to question the music as this particular group has never had an organist. To our surprise and amusement, a face suddenly appeared at the door. It was Brother Organist dressed resplendently in the colourful regalia of a Royal Ark Mariner.

“I think I may be at the wrong meeting” he timidly explained.

The Princes being pleasantly entertained all smiled and concurred with the Brother and gently sent him on his way. I was later to discover that he was a day early for his meeting which was at a location several miles away.

On another occasion, a member of my Royal Arch Chapter suddenly appeared at a Lodge Committee meeting for which he was not a member. Surprised by his appearance I greeted him well as he explained that he was famished and asked me for the menu of the Festive Board after the meeting. To his utter shock and horror, I informed him that our Convocation had been the previous week and that he was in fact, seven days late. Poor chap; he had not only forgone his meal at home, but paid for a meal he had missed.

However, the prize for the earliest Brother in attendance must go to the chap who turned up on another evening prepared for Red Cross of Constantine Conclave, a full month early.

So Brethren, the moral of this story is “don’t delay.” To avoid disappointment or confusion, purchase a good diary or even a colour coded wall planner to co-ordinate your activities……Lest you end up as red-faced as brother organist!

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