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.  







           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 society.  

           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 focus.  

           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.  




           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 Lodge.  

           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.




           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.


Worshipful Master.

           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.  


Senior Warden.

           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.



Junior Warden.

           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 Worshipful Master.


Senior Deacon.


           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.


Junior Deacon.


           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 typical.




           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 the Tyler.



           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.


Senior Steward.


           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.


Junior Steward.


           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 Junior Warden.


Past Masters.

           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.


Officer Stations.

           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 standing.  



           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 "safety."

           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 idea.  

           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.



           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’ fraternity.

           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 ANY institution.  

           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 persecution.

           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 common thread.  

           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 weaknesses.

           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 secrets.  



           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 charities.



           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 worse.

           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 triangle.

           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 relationship."

           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 debate.

           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 perceived change.’

             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 Hebrew traditions.

           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, "What now?"

           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 kinds.  




           Freemasonry is designed as a progressive social science; a Mason advances

           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 conduct.

           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 Truth."

           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 membership.

           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 commonly known.

           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 execution.

           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 non-Christians.  



           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 fraternal application.

           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 chivalric order.

           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 preserved.

           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 lineage.

           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 convictions.

           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 abandoned.

           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 / guild documentation.  

           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 writing.



           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 the truth.

           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.



           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.



           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 serving secrecy.

           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 press.

           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 organized society.

           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 didn't burn.

           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

           2.  Logic

           3.  Truth

           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 information.

           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 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.



           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 workmen?"

           To better understand the answer to that question, let us regress to the time of the operative craft in England.



           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 Conquest.



           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.



           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 worlds.



           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 military campaigns.  

           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 unemployment.  

           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 imagination.  

           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 master.

           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.



           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 ritual.

           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.



[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 Mason.  

           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:

           Worshipful Master

           Senior Warden

           Junior Warden



           Senior Deacon

           Junior Deacon

           Stewards (2)


           Marshal (typical)

           Organist (typical)


           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.



           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 purity.

           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 craftsmen.

           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 lesser ranks.

           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 teachings.  

           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 members.  

           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 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 teachings.  

           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 life.

           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 Church.

           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 nobility.

           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.



           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 Fellowcraft.

           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 fourth degree.

           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.



           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 Masonic organization.  





and the






           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 happened!)

           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 inconsequential.

           Dr.  Anderson lists the 'Four Old Lodges' as:

           1.  At the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St.  Paul's Churchyard.

           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 in London.

           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 Lodge.

           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 for everyone.

           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 1813.

           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 England."

           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 bit fanciful.

           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 Freemasonry.

           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 Scotland.



           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 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 Antients"


           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 expansion.

           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 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 operative stonemasons.  

           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 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 Grand Masters.

           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 Lodge.  

           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 today.

           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 currently ongoing.

           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 Ancients.

           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 Charges.''

           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 century.  

           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.



           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 the Ancients.




           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 Philadelphia.

           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 America.

           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 "Solomon's Lodge."

           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 lodges.

           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 were formed.  

           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.



 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.


           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 jurisdictions.

           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 Lodge:

           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 principles.  



           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.  

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
"…what’s in it for me…" attitude, 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?" Or; "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.

           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 meant something!"

           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 band-aid.

           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 feature.

           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 income.  

           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?"


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 LIMITING idea.  

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 event!

           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 those organizations?

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 genuine caring!

           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 "passion."

           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 familiar!

           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 "different."

           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 a member.  

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 month?"

           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 such events.

           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 belong.)
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 worthwhile to observe a piece of Scripture
"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.  

           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 is required.

D. Acknowledge, recognize, applaud, congratulate, reward and facilitate others.  

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 agendas.

           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?  

          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,
"What do we give to each other?" As a beginning, Masons can offer "fellowship," the dynamic version; in most cases it’s even "free!"

          Yet, there is the usual - and valid - question of
"WHY" to 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:

          First, get in touch with this thought,
"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.

          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 a consequence.

           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 fabulous "fellowship!"




           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.



           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 thirty-third degree.

           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.  



"My Trust is in God"



           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 horizon.

           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, his grandson.

           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 thrones.

           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 was believed.

           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 Order."

           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 unsuccessful.

           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 Marseille.



           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 1763).

           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 approximately 1766.

           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 Bordeaux.  

           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 "civilian prisoner."

           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, Pennsylvania.

           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 1804.

           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 recognition.

           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 General Lecleric.  

           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, 1817.

           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 exile."

           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 Carolina.

           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 Council.  

           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 authenticated.  

           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 membership.

           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 Supreme Councils.

           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 their records.

           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 printed copies.  

           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 Internet.

           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 hundred pages.

           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:

           1° - Apprentice.  

           2° - Fellow-craft

           3° - Master.

           4° - Secret Master.

           5° - Perfect Master.

           6° - Intimate Secretary.

           7° - Provost and Judge.

           8° - 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.

           12° - Master Architect.

           13° - Royal Arch of Solomon.

           14° - Perfect Elu.

           15° - Knight of the East.

           16° - Prince of Jerusalem.

           17° - Knight of the East and West.

           18° - Knight Rose Croix.

           19° - Pontiff.

           20° - Master of the Symbolic Lodge.

           21° - Noachite or Prussian Knight.

           22° - Knight of the Royal Axe or Prince of Libanus.

           23° - Chief of the Tabernacle.

           24° - Prince of the Tabernacle.

           25° - Knight of the Brazen Serpent.

           26° - Prince of Mercy.

           27° - Knight Commander of the Temple.

           28° - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept.

           29° - Scottish Knight of St.  Andrew.

           30° - Knight Kadosh.

           31° - Inspector Inquisitor.

           32° - Master of the Royal Secret.


           4°- SECRET MASTER

           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.

           5°- PERFECT MASTER

           This degree honors the death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff, instructing Masons to pay due respect to the memory of our deceased worthy brothers.


           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 away wrath."

           7°- 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.

           8°- 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.

           9°- 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.

           10°- 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.

           11°- 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.

           12°- MASTER ARCHITECT

           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 Talent.

           13°- 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.

           14°- PERFECT ELU

           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."

           15°- 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.

           16°- 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.

           17°- 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.

           18°- 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.

           19°- GRAND PONTIFF

           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.

           20°- 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.

           21°- 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.

           22°- 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.

           23°- 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.

           24°- 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.

           25°- 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.

           26°- 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.

           27°- 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.

           28°- 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.

           29°- 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.

           30°- KNIGHT KADOSH

           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.


           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.

           32°- 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.


           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, indeed.

           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 DEGREE.  



           The Southern Jurisdiction is organized in terms of Orients (state jurisdictions) and Valleys (Lodges, containing the subordinate bodies, mentioned above).

           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.










           NEW HAMPSHIRE

           NEW JERSEY

           NEW YORK



           RHODE ISLAND


























           NEW MEXICO


           NORTH DAKOTA




           SOUTH DAKOTA






           WEST VIRGINIA






           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 surprise.

           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 Orders.

           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 Rite Bodies."



Capitular Masonry

           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.



           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 work.  

           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.




(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 Arch degree.

           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, not automatic.



           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 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 frame.  

           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 official sanction.

           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 conferral.

           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 authority.  

           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 Lodge.



           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 truths.

           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 in immortality.  

           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.



           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 Chapter.

           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."



           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.




           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.



           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 "Grand Chapters."

           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 territory.  

           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 same term:

           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 international areas.

           There are also Subordinate Chapters located in Japan, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Canal Zone, the Republic of Panama and Puerto Rico.

           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 nonprofit basis.



           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 officers are:

           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).



           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 primary officers:

           (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)

           Scribe N

           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.



           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 grand jurisdictions.  

           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

Principal Sojourner

Royal Arch Captain

Master of the 3rd Veil

Master of the 2nd Veil

Master of the 1st Veil




Right Worshipful Master

Senior Warden

Junior Warden




Senior Deacon

Junior Deacon

Master Overseer

Senior Overseer

Junior Overseer





           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.



Cryptic Masonry

           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.



           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.




           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.



           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 candidate to:

           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 degrees.

           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 valuable secrets.

           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.



           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 States.

           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 them.

           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 Cryptic Masonry.

           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.



           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.



           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."




           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 Zone.


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

           Puissant General

           Grand Sentinel


           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.



           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.



           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.

           Illustrious Master

           Deputy Master

           Principal Conductor of the Work



           Captain of the Guard

           Conductor of the Council





           * Optional

           Depending on the jurisdiction, the title of "Thrice Illustrious Master" is often applied to the presiding officer.





Chivalric Masonry

           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 presence.

           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.



           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 lessons.  

           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.





           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 Knights Templar.

           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 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 jurisdictions.

           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 differ significantly.



           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 Grand Commander.

           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.



           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 events.

           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 Dress Uniform.  

           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 cords.

           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 five:

           Member Sir Knights wear the red Passion Cross, with or without silver trim.

           Commanders and Past Commanders wear the Passion Cross, trimmed with gold.   (with or without rays).

           Grand Commandery officers wear the red Templar Cross, trimmed with gold.

           Past Grand Commanders wear the purple Templar Cross trimmed with gold.  

           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.





           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 Crusade.

           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 Palestine.



           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 Burgundian Knight.

           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 "treasure."

           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 a "return."

           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 to banking.

           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 confess.  

           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 existence.

           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 unlikely.

           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.



           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.

Roslyn Chapel


           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 Templar expedition:

           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, in Scotland.

           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 "Templar" cross.



           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 fraud.  

           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.



           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?  



           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 Nicea.  



           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 attention.  

           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.  




           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 the Order.  

           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 Hospitallers.

           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 completely.

           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 English Order.

           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.



           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 Templarism.

           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 Overseas."

           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.










           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 Hebrew Calendar.)

           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 criminals.

           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 organizations.

           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 fellowship.

           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 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 action.

           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 Arabic background.


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 "Arabian Nights."


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.  


Imperial Council

           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.



           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 unanimously.

           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 helped.

           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 expert technicians.


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 children.

           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 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 School.  

           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.


Ceremonial Cast

           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 Imperial Council.

           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 Shriners' families.

           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 Philanthropy."



           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, Brothers.

           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.



           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 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 Lamb.



(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 members.

           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 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.




           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 Mississippi.




           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 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 Eastern Star.

           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 role models.  


           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 career.



           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 similar titles.  

           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.



           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 York.

           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 today.  

           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.




           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 following.


           Engle also later authored the book, "History of the Eastern Star," - [1901] 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" – [1936]


           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 purpose.  

           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, known today.

           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 organization.  

           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 illegal.

           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 Body.

           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 Chapters.

           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 Star.

           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 announced.

           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 since.

           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 1883.

           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 adopted.

           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.





           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."



           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 ritual.]


           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 then seated.

           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" 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," "truth," etc.

           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 "traditions."

           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.



           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.



           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 Chapter.  

           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 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 unto hypocritical.

           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.



           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.



           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," 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" 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" 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 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.



           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 of Christ.

           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 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 High Twelve."

           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 daylight hours.  

           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 certainly nurses.  

           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 fields.

           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 daylight Lodges.  

           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 Lodges.

           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, alike.

           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, worldwide.

           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, worldwide.

           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 life.

           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.







           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 female.

           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 ceremony.

           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.  



           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".


Rob Morris

           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.  


Robert Macoy

           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 1730.  


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 corrective measures.

           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.


Amaranth Independence

           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 Supreme Council.

           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 existence."

           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 Waterbury, Connecticut.  

           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 approved.  

           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 Almighty.


The "East"

           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.  



           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’ publication.  


Macoy Amaranth Emblem



           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 differences.


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 various rituals.

           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 Committee.

           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 Ceremony."

           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 "sisters."

           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 infringement.

           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 1915.



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 changes.  

           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 1915.

           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 Mason.


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 other rituals.

           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 Allegiance.

           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.


Combined Rituals

           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."


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.


Amaranth Charity

           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 Jobs Daughters

           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 their brethren."

           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 Being.

           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 the meetings.

           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 Amaranth.

           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 Girls."

           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 man."

           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.  






           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.



           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 Program.

           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.  



           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.  



           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 for Children.  



           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 the institution.

           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 kidnapping.

           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 Mormons.

           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 conscience.

           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 from England.


        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, “Light on 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 Caucasian members.





        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).

      &nbspIn 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 contrast.

        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 Freemasonry.

        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 'healed.'

        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 indirect subscription.


        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.



        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.’


        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 otherwise.

        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 “Brother.”

        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 &nbspwere/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 been seen.

        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.

      &nbspThe 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."

      &nbspFor 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 instantly fails!

           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 the Rabbi?

           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 …..?"














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