Monday, December 31, 2007
The dance that Mormonism had with Freemasonry
In order to not hijack Brother Ratcliff's thread, I'd like to move this particular discussion over to this blog so that his thread can remain on-topic. Yes, this subject has been done over and over in many places. But here it is again.
First, I'd like to refer anyone to read The Mormon Church and Freemasonry by Terry Chateau. From my point of view, having experienced both groups thoroughly, and studied and poured over the history of both ad nauseum, I find Terry's treatment of the subject to be mostly accurate, however basic it is.
Next, I'd like to point out that this post is intended for Freemasons, which is why I posted it on my Masonic blog. I hope not to draw in a large Mormon crowd to this post. To those Mormons who do show up, and who aren't either Masons or true scholars of Masonic history, I would rather see you over at one of my other, religious themed, blogs. I don't mean any harm by this, but I'm just trying to keep the noise level down on this post except for those who have direct experience in the subject.
In spite of my experience level, at this point, my opinion is one desirous of historical accuracy and indifference on the subject.
Well, thats it for now!
AMD: I - Royal Ark Mariners
The story of this degree contains events before, during and after the Biblical Flood. The apron and emblems of this degree are easily recognizable by the ark and rainbow motif, although the degree itself claims the original apron to have been made of unfinished lambskin.
The historic prerequisite to be made a Royal Ark Mason is to be a Mark Master Mason, however, the degree has no connection symbolically or otherwise to the Mark degree.
A brother is said to be "Elevated" to the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner.
Earlier in AMD history, this Degree was conferred in separate Royal Ark Mariner Lodges which were “moored” to a Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees. There are still a few surviving RAM Lodges moored to Councils, but warrants are no longer issued for new RAM Lodges. Other than those remaining Lodges, the Degree, if worked today, is worked directly by the Council upon their own AMD members.
In Canada, it is conferred by a Council of Royal & Select Masters (Cryptic Masons), bringing the number of Degrees worked by R&SM in that country to four (the third being Super Excellent Master.)
Overseas, RAM Lodges are moored to Lodges of Mark Masters which work under a separate Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. The existence of Mark Grand Lodges is another fascinating study, worthy of its own lengthy discussion.
It is fascinating to me that this Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners exists worldwide, while being administered by three very different bodies of Masonry.
The Principal Officers of a Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners represent Noah, and two of his sons: Shem, and Japheth, and the Lodge room is made to represent the Ark of Safety. Indeed, our Brethren of the nineteenth century considered Noah to be one of the Grand Masters of Masonry. (Do you?) He is a celebrated Builder, and a man of integrity in the face of great opposition (if not a little bit of a drunkard.) Indeed, the early brethren of our Craft did not hesitate to trace the line of Masonry even back to Adam in the Garden of Eden, who was the first to build an Altar (of unhewn stone, the Rough Ashlar), and the first man to don an apron (though his was of fig leaves.) While it is ridiculous to think that Modern Freemasonry was known to Adam or Noah, there is something inherently true in the idea that Masonry is heir to the fruits of the greatest and noblest accomplishment of a more primitive generation of man. The Royal Ark Mariner degree is special because it embodies this speculative reference to far antiquity, which if taken literally, implies that all of humanity was saved from the great flood by a Grand Master Mason.
The Ark and the Anchor are symbols to which our attention is drawn, seemingly at random, in the Lecture of the Master Mason Degree. This proves the antiquity of their Masonic significance. I will now diverge from the subject of the Royal Ark Mariners in particular in order to quote at great length about "The Ark and Anchor," from "Freemasory, its Symbolism, Religious Nature, and Law of Perfection, by Brother Chalmers I. Paton (Past-Master, No. 393, England)" printed in 1873. If it doesn't suit you, please look past the Christian references present in this piece, as I believe the point being made regarding Salvation (Deliverance) and Trust are equally applicable to all of us who depend upon the Great Architect:
CHAPTER LX.For further reading about the Royal Ark Mariner degree in particular, I refer you to "Following in Noah's Footsteps" at Freemasonry Today.
MASONIC SYMBOLS.—THE ARK AND THE ANCHOR.
THE Ark and the Anchor sometimes represented separately, and sometimes conjointly, are symbolic of the safety and the sure hope of him who puts his trust in God, and walks in the way of God's Commandments. Tossed on a tempestuous sea of troubles, and exposed to many dangers in his earthly life, a good man is still preserved in safety, as Noah and his family were preserved in the ark, when it floated on the waters of the deluge, and all the rest of mankind perished. The ark refers our thoughts to this great historic fact, but at the same time leads us to think of that which even it symbolised or typified. As Noah and his family were saved in the ark, from the destruction which overwhelmed the multitudes of the unbelieving and ungodly, so all who put their trust in God are saved, whatever the dangers which beset them, and the storms which thicken around them. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Heb. xi. 7). Even so, every believer, listening to the voice of God, and yielding a willing obedience, finds an ark of refuge ready, an ark which he does not need to prepare as Noah did, but in which he is in perfect safety.
The anchor may be regarded as securing the ark from danger amidst the storms of life. Or by itself it may be accounted as a symbol of the security of a good man who puts his trust in God. And thus the figure of the anchor is used in Scripture, to represent the perfect security of the believer's hope. "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail" (Heb. vi. 19).
The Anchor and the Ark remind us both of the dangers to which we are exposed, and of the refuge which we may find from them. They encourage us to choose and persevere in a right course, all dangers notwithstanding, and they assure us that if we do so, all shall be well. We shall not be overwhelmed in the surging billows; we shall not be driven from our place to be the sport of winds, and to be dashed by them to destruction; but we shall weather every storm, and find ourselves after all in a haven of peace and rest. It is a terrible picture of human life which is presented to us by the ark on the shoreless waters of the deluge; but we are comforted and encouraged by the thought of the safety in which it was preserved, till it rested on the mountains of Ararat, and its inmates went forth to enter on possession of the regenerated earth. Amidst the storm, a well-built and well-appointed ship rides securely at anchor in a good harbour, and we are encouraged to confidence of perfect security, as knowing how good both our anchor and our harbour are. But let us see to it that all is right, that ours is indeed a well-built and well-appointed ship, and our anchor is that which is "sure and steadfast."
The very significant symbol now under our consideration, is therefore far from being merely intended to remind us of the deliverance of Noah and his family, the progenitors of the whole existing human race, from the deluge which overwhelmed the old world, and swept away the workers of iniquity, but still more to suggest to our thoughts those great truths which were typified even in Noah's ark itself, and in the salvation accomplished by it. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust," says the Apostle Peter, "that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit. By which also lie went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (1 Pet. iii. 18-22).
Traditions of the flood are common throughout the world, and are found in the earliest records of ancient times, mingling with the other legends of all the mythologies, and with the accounts which different nations have received of their origin. These traditions have been sought out and compared with great diligence by learned authors; for they afford an important argument in favour of the unity of the human race, and of the truth of the Bible. We find the ark figured in the ancient monuments of Egypt; and we find in many other of the most ancient sculptures, and on coins or medals of various countries, not uncertain evidence of the prevalence of the tradition of the flood, and of the preservation of Noah and his family.
The ark fitly symbolises the means of salvation. The flood rages around, but within the ark there is no danger. The perfect safety of those who seek refuge in it, is still further symbolised by the anchor. The ark is not represented as floating wildly, at the mercy of the winds and waves, but as secured by its anchor. And thus the believer has hope, "as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. vi. 19-20). That hope cannot fail; disappointment is impossible; for it is a hope resting on the promise—nay, upon the oath of God; for "God," says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it wns impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us" (Heb. vi. 17-18).
He is safe who puts his trust in the Lord. The fiery deluge of wrath shall sweep away the workers of iniquity; perdition awaits them; but the believer is free from danger. No billow shall overwhelm the ark in which he has taken refuge; and it cannot be wrecked by any storm.
A woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle. Published in 1493. The series from which this image was taken were illustrated and engraved by Michael Wohlgemuth, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and Albrecht Dürer.
Whether or not to become a Knight Templar.
Apparently, a Candidate seeking to be a Knight Templar (at least in the USA?) must be able to answer these questions before being admitted:
- 1) Do you solemnly declare, upon your honor, that in seeking admission to this Valiant and Magnificent Order of Christian Knighthood you are actuated by no mercenary or other unworthy motive?
- 2) If called upon to draw your sword in a religious cause, will you give preference to the Christian Religion?
- 3) Does your conscience accuse you of any crime, unrepented of, which would render you unworthy of becoming a member of an Institution founded upon the Christian Religion and the practice of the Christian Virtues?
One point which I'd like to clear up: On the Internet there are some exposes of the Knight Templar ritual floating around which claim the Obligation is made "in the name of the Holy, Blessed and Glorious Trinity," but I have been assured that this is not the case in the USA, and that the obligation is here made "in the presence of Almighty God."
So, as has been said in many places elsewhere, it doesn't appear that one is required to be a Christian or confess any Christian creed or dogma in order to become a K.T. That being said, I have been told that Hebrews, James, Revelation, and particularly Matthew, Luke and Acts are quoted extensively throughout the ceremony. I am here speaking of the Order of the Temple only -- the third Order which the Commandery confers. I have not studied the other two, but am told that they are not implicitly Christian as the Order of the Temple is.
Personally, I'm still undecided. But I thought I'd share what my research has yielded so far.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Introduction to the Allied Masonic Degrees
- I. Royal Ark Mariners
- II. Order of the Secret Monitor
- III. Masters of Tyre
- IV. Grand Tylers of Solomon
- V. Architect
- VI. Grand Architect
- VII. Superintendent
- VIII. Excellent Master
- IX. St. Lawrence the Martyr
- X. Knight of Constantinople
Over the next ten days I will be posting a short explanation of each of these degrees and the history of their development.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
A New Charge - Holiness in Masonry
My Brother, as you have now been given the distinguished title of ____ (Fill in the blank: Master Mason, Tyler, Worshipful Master, Grand Master, etc.), it becomes my duty to inform you that the station to which you have been called constitutes a most solemn, sacred, and Holy engagement. Holy, because it is only by your trust in the Great Architect of the Universe that you have been extended this privilege, and because it is only through His continuing Providence that you are able to serve therein.
You should ask the blessing of God upon every act and endeavor you undertake in your capacity as ____, for as Masons, we are accountable to God above all others, He who is the Supreme Grand Master and the highest authority in every institution of Freemasonry.
Throughout the entire world Masons are, or should be, known as men who place their trust in God. Every action, therefore, that we make as Masons, reflects not only upon the honor of this ancient and noble institution, but also demonstrates to the public the seriousness and earnestness with which Freemasonry reverences and serves Him. To other people of faith, as well as to the atheist or libertine, our conduct should be a most impressive beacon of light, showing that we strive to uphold the moral precepts set forth in the Volume of Sacred Law and to live a life free of bigotry and hypocrisy.
Turn altogether away from any temptation you may have to disobey the Good Counsel which God whispers in your ear, and ever remember to walk uprightly before Him, dealing in a plain and honest manner with your fellow man, so that you will be enabled to pass the square of virtue, being filled with peace and joy as you anticipate those welcome words, "Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant."
Request for Help for a Worthy Brother
--- quote ---
where on your sight may a Brother post a blog for need of assistance? Would you be able to post this for me? This tax credit thing gives a Bother a chance to donate and return his donation to himself penny for penny.
- HELP FOR A WORTHY BROTHER -
One of our worthy brothers is in financial need and has come to the Lodge in hopes of finding Relief. This brother is a single Dad, taking sole care of his early-teens daughter. His daughter has been having her developmental needs met at Casas Christian School after less than satisfactory results in the public schools. Through no fault of his own, he has not been able to make the tuition payments for her this year. He needs two months back tuition ($488.00).
FYI - We've been able to come up with one of the 3 months back tuition, so we're gettting there!
On going-tuition is $244.00 per month.
If you are able to assist him, you may contact him directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or, you may contact the school for a direct donation on his behalf at: email@example.com (Genetta Holt), at 297-0922. - For the benefit of Amanda Thacker -
Casas Christian School WEB SITE
Below, you will find information on the Arizona Tax Credit Program. It is possible to donate to the school DIRECTLY on his behalf AND RECEIVE a tax credit. (Read the info below and consult your tax advisor!) As tax time comes closer, you may be considering a tax credit donation this year. What better way could you find than one that helps a brother?
Thank you, Brothers! Br Steve Harrington PM
ARIZONA TAX CREDIT PROGRAM
In 1997, the Private School Tuition Credit Law was passed in Arizona. This law allows any Arizona tax payer to redirect up to $1,000 a year in state tax dollars to a "private school tuition organization" and receive a dollar for dollar tax credit when filing a state income tax return. Contributions up to $1,000 can be made throughout the year; however, the deadline for making the contribution is December 31.
Casas Christian School (CCS) raises money through this program each year and provides need-based financial aid to families who desire a Christian education for their children but are not financially able to make that dream a reality. Last year the CCS provided financial aid to 82 children through tax dollars redirected to the Christian Scholarship Fund, the state funding organization that distributes contributions made to Casas Christian School.
If you would like to participate in this wonderful program, follow these steps:
1. Contact Genetta Holt, CCS Public Relations Manager, to request donor and tax forms at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Then, using those forms, donate a gift of up to $1,000 to Casas Christian School through the Christian Scholarship Fund of Arizona.
3. When you file your annual state income taxes, attach the tax form and receipt indicating your contribution.
4. You will receive a dollar for dollar credit for up to $1,000 on your state income tax.
5. This credit reduces the amount of state income tax you owe.
6. You can also claim the gift as a charitable tax deduction on your Federal tax form.
This is a win/win situation for both Casas Christian School and the taxpayer.
For additional information on the Arizona Tax Credit Program, contact CCS at email@example.com
Mark Master Degree - The Overseers
I have been thinking about the character of the Overseers: They were either innocent, or perhaps ignorant. They were doing exactly what they had been told, and it was their chief duty to make sure that only work of the approved design (square) would be accepted. Metaphorically, this could be an important lesson if we ever find ourselves in the position of the Keystone. (In keeping with my last post, it seems that, as of late, I am taking non-human characters from the story and applying myself to them symbolically.) If we find ourselves to be thrown among the rubbish in a particular group or organization, instead of feeling negative towards the people who did the throwing out we should first determine whether or not they are following orders. If they are, be patient with them: They may come back to search for and reclaim you once they learn your true value.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I am the WORD?
In the Select Master degree, we witness the deposit of the Word for safekeeping. This takes place in an underground Crypt, hence the name "Cryptic." I had an interesting thought pop into my head while studying this degree. What if we are the WORD, and the deposit of it represents our own deposit, at our death, back into the earth for safekeeping so that we can one day be rediscovered?
To be exalted means to be raised up, or elevated. We are said to be "exalted" to the degree of Royal Arch. Could this be referring to the lifting up of the WORD from the Crypt back to the surface?
This is a line of symbolic interpretation that I have not explored before. I admit it is a little odd, but it might provide powerful fruit if studied out to its completion in the full context of these degrees.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Masonry's Most Secret Degree
A couple of well-crafted Google searches can land the full text of nearly any Masonic degree, exposed somewhere online, perhaps not in the format worked today or in a jurisdiction near you, but usually at least something shows up. This is not the case for the Royal Arch Widow's Degree. I don't know if this is good, bad, or weird. Of all the secrets Masonry has, this one seems the least apt to be a real secret, and the Brethren who perform it aren't under any obligation to keep it so. Maybe its insignificance keeps it from being of any interest to the Anti-Masonic crowd? But, this really all doesn't matter... I guess what really intrigues me about this is that the Internet doesn't have everything on it. We tend to think we have all information at our fingertips, but it really isn't the case. Maybe there are a whole slew of other degrees, perhaps authentic, serious ones, that are not available at all online? So, I guess the mysteries offered by the world's various fraternal orders cannot be fully penetrated by the Internet after all, and the only way to gain what they have to offer is to be initiated.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Work of the Priesthood
The Work of the Priesthood in the Tabernacle and Temple
The Magician in the Tarot deck (Don't leave yet! I promise, the introduction here is my only Tarot reference.) holds in his hand a wand. A wand is another manifestation of the rod, or the staff. On the table before him lay a chalice, a coin (sometimes called pentacles, although this is a later innovation), a sword, and a wand. We will begin by equating the rod to fire, and the chalice to water. The sword is active, and will represent air. The coin is passive, and will represent earth. The magician is using the rod calling down divine energy from above, and channeling it to the earth (indicated by his finger pointing down at the earth). Moses is said to have used this same power:
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. (Exodus 9:23)FIRE (Active Element #1)
At the dedication of the Tabernacle, and likewise at Solomon's Temple the priests called fire down out of heaven.
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. (2 Chronicles 7:1)This fire burnt upon the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard. This sacred or divine fire was the only fire authorized to be used in the services of the Temple. It can be taken symbolically as a re-enactment of God's proclamation: "Let there be light."
This original light which God created was clearly different from ordinary fire, because God did not separate the light from the darkness, nor did he create the sun and the moon until later in the narrative.
A few Bible quotations for contemplation:
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:10)David also called upon heavenly fire:
And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. (1 Chronicles 21:26)This divine fire, in the context of the Temple, demonstrates God's blessing upon the work in which the Israelites were engaged, and by it they were able to perform the rest of their ministry.
The altar upon which the fire burned was used for sacrifices which were brought to the tabernacle (or Temple). If a common person sinned, they were instructed to bring a female kid of the goats or a female lamb which they (not the priest) were required to sacrifice upon a table. The individual bringing the offering would slit the throat of the animal, the same way Kosher slaughtering occurs to this day, and the priest would provide a vessel in which to catch the blood of the sacrifice. After this, the priest would put the animal upon the altar, and the blood upon the four horns of the altar and pour the remainder out at the base of the altar (Leviticus 4:27-35) . The priests which performed this service were the Sons of Aaron, the Kohanim, or the Cohens, as they are known today. The priests wore white vestments, with a blue ribband at the edge of their garments, as described in the Bible. This clothing is a worthwhile study in its own right, but I will only go so far as to mention it here.
AIR (Active Element #2)
Exodus chapter 30 verse 7 through 9 tells us that Aaron was commanded morning and evening to burn incense upon the altar in the Holy Place, or Middle Chamber of the tabernacle. We know that this duty was assigned to the ordinary priests as well, for it was the duty that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, had been selected for on the day that the angel appeared to him to inform him of John's upcoming birth and to instruct him as to what name should be given to the child.
And it came to pass, that while he [Zacharias] executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. (Luke 1:8-10)It was the most distinguished and honorable duty that the ordinary priests could perform; the pinnacle of their service in the Temple. The Priests were to minister in the Courtyard and in the Holy [Place], but only the High Priest could minister in the entire Temple, including the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy, or Sanctum Sanctorum, as it is called.
The Bible informs us of the requirements for entering to serve in the Holy (Kadosh):
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)This passage is symbolic. While the priests were required to wash in the laver before entering the Holy Place, the right hand was also customarily known as the clean hand, and anything brought into the ministry before God would have been carried in the right hand, such as was the case with the incense. Worshipful Bro. H. Meij has written a wonderful article on the pot of incense and why it is symbolically associated with a "pure heart," and I will not take the time to repeat his material here. The priest had to be humble (not puffed up in vanity) and, and not sworn deceitfully. In other word, he must have kept his priestly covenants, obligations, or vows; or, to have shown suitable proficiency in his preceeding ministry to entitle him to enter. The priest was required to burn the incense on fire taken from the sacred fire at the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard. (And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD. ~Numbers 26:61) So the priest, using the fire from heaven, entered the Holy Place carrying incense in his right hand - his clean hand, and he would pour it out of his hand over the altar of incense, while "the whole multitude of the people were praying without."
If any of the priests sinned, they would sprinkle the blood of their offering seven times before the vail (the entrance to the Holy of Holies) and put blood upon the horns of the incense altar in the Holy Place, pouring the remainder out at the base of the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard.
Incense is often connected with prayer:
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3-4)WATER (Passive Element #1)
The High Priest, in addition to his various daily duties, had the special privilege and responsibility of officiating during Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) services, the yearly cleansing ceremony which ultimately atoned for the previously confessed sins of the people for the entire preceeding year. On this special day the priest was allowed to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies. The High Priest in his standard ministry wore robes that were more ornamental than those of the other priests, but on the Day of Atonement, he stripped off his colorful vestments, and wore only the white robes, very similar to the robes which the other priests wore during their services.
In the context of Temple-centered Judaism, there was typically only one High Priest at a time (I have seen a chart showing that exceptions to this arrangement have been made, however.)
This arrangement is similar to the ancient Masonic arrangement of having a Lodge of Fellowcrafts presided over by a Master. Over the course of time, within Masonry, we have changed our custom so that we now have lodges consisting entirely of Masters, with one of them deemed "Worshipful," and the Master's degree is now given to all worthy brethren instead of only those becoming the Master of a Lodge.
On Yom Kippur, the High Priest would offer a bullock as a sacrifice:
And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. (Leviticus 16:6)Masonic tradition informs us, concerning Hiram Abif, that "it was the usual custom of this great and good man, at high twelve, when the Craft was called from labor to refreshment, to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, there to order up his adorations to Deity and draw his designs on the Trestle-board." This text is according to a Mason from Nevada. However, in Oregon, where I am located, our working goes on to says something to the effect of: "and to offer up prayer for his own sins, and the sins of his people."
The bullock, or young bull, is an interesting symbol. A study of Jeremiah 34 is recommended, and it will be seen therein that it was an Israelite custom to seal a very serious covenant with the LORD by offering a young calf. The duties associated with this covenant, which pertained to the Exodus from Egypt, are described:
And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name . . .Because they did not uphold their end of the bargain, they were told:
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.Ouch! Anyway, getting back on track: After the bullock is offered, lots are cast and a goat is offered. To understand these goats constitutes a study of religious doctrine and so I will forego this topic, but it is interesting for those who are so inclined. After this:
... he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: (Leviticus 16:12-13)The following is a quotation from "The Temple: Its Ministry and Services", by Alfred Edersheim, Chapter 16:
"Ordinarily, everything brought in actual ministry unto God must be carried in the right hand— the incense in the right and the censer in the left. But on this occasion, as the censer for the Day of Atonement was larger and heavier than usual, the high-priest was allowed to reverse the common order. Every eye was strained towards the sanctuary as, slowly bearing the censer and the incense, the figure of the white-robed high-priest was seen to disappear within the Holy Place. After that nothing further could be seen of his movements."I have reasons, which I will not go into (as some are more along the lines of personal revelation than of evidence), to believe that this formula of incense that the High Priest used on the Day of Atonement was characterized by the presence of Myrrh as a primary ingredient, making it a bitter-sweet mixture. This also corresponds to the gifts of the Magi to the toddler Jesus Christ, Gold (Divine Fire), Frankincense (Prayer), and Myrrh (Burial).
Myrrh, being a bitter substance, is symbolic of tears, shed over the suffering and death of a great and heroic figure. Much in the same way as the Maror at the Passover Seder table is used to induce tears. The words even share the same root. When the initial letter of these words is spoken, "Mem," it is the Hebrew word for water.
EARTH (Passive Element #2)
According to Edersheim:
"He now most carefully emptied the incense into his hand, and threw it on the coals of the censer, as far from himself as possible, and so waited till the smoke had filled the Most Holy Place. Then, retreating backwards, he prayed outside the veil as follows:" . . .The precise wording of this prayer, if it was a set prayer, is lost to us today. The Talmud supplies us with an example, but Edersheim and I agree that it rings of a later time period.
The manner of prayer used among Jews was to have uplifted hands, and eyes cast towards heaven. Rather the opposite of the folded arms and bowed head that most of Christian upbringing are made familiar with.
It has been a posture of "crying out" since primitive times, as evidenced by phoenician, egyptian, and proto-Semitic alphabets. 777life.com says: "The earliest visual theme of Hey is a kneeling man (Hue) with raised hands."
On Yom Kippur, the High Priest was permitted to speak the sacred name of God aloud during his ministry. This was the only occasion on which this was permitted. The Kohen (priests) today give the priestly blessing in Synagogue, with uplifted hands of a slightly different manner, with the fingers oddly divided with two together one way, and two together the other way, and the thumb separate, (as pictured in this beautifully crafted amulet). They say a prayer that, if not substituted, would include speaking the name of God three times. This prayer was instituted by Moses among Aaron and his sons:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,Getting back to the subject of Temple ministry: As we mentioned above, the High Priest would leave that golden censer burning in the Holy of Holies, to fill the room with smoke so that he could bear the presence of the LORD without dying. Upon re-entering the room, presumably the LORD would have come in his presence between the wings of the Cherubim upon the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, to communicate with the High Priest. The High Priest would have been obliged to cover his nostrils to guard himself from the thick smoke which pervaded the room.
YHWH bless thee and keep thee;
YHWH make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee;
YHWH lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27)
Many Jews have objected to the idea that Master Masons would have held their meetings in the Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies, even while the Temple was being built. I was told that the Kohen would have built it themselves, and done so from the outside of the room. I would entertain the idea that perhaps our original Ancient Grand Masters, while probably not the three depicted in our Masonic rituals, may have actually been High Priests, after (or before) the same custom as the Tabernacle, thus making them eligible to meet in that room.
I don't know if Masonry holds any sustainable resemblance to the Priesthood which the Israelites held. And if it did, I'm not quite sure what that would imply. Some people think it descends from the Knights Templar. I think that much of it is far older than Templarism.
Egyptian Henu (Conclusion of Praise Ritual)
Egyptian Ka Sign
The Temple: Its Ministry and Services
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
William Miller - A Freemason?
As a Mormon, this interests me (Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young not to mention multitudes of other early LDS leaders having been Masons as well)
New York, Burned Over District, 1820's-30's. 1844. Freemasonry. Prophecy. Belief in continuing revelation. And, a distinctive decline in splendor as soon as there is no Master Mason remaining in leadership.
What is the root of this big correlation? Is it a coincidence? Was there something in the air in those years, Masonically? What inspired these great men and Masons to their larger than life tasks?
Was there an unusual traveling magnetic field passing by in upstate New York in the 1820's? Quite frankly, I wouldn't mind tapping into a little of that juice myself.
The sad thing is, the successive generations of these individuals have largely taken for granted what their founders have provided. Their teachings and instruction are given lip service and perused occasionally, but they aren't recognized for what they were. Aside from the Theology and Eschatology (you might wonder what is left, with these individuals -- I assure you, plenty) it might be worthwhile for the Fraternity to lay their claim on these treasure troves of "living stone" examples and their fruits and writings, that have been abandoned by everyone else. As far as I'm concerned, they are among the best men Masonry has ever made better. If any Masons have ever changed the world, these men have. And I hope it was for the better.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Report on the 146th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon
It was also my first time in attendance at any "Grand" meeting. (For those who are new Masons or from foreign lands, in the United States that means it is a meeting of the "State-Level" group which governs over our constituent local groups.)
The officers ending their term, who conducted the meeting were:
Garrett K. Cooke, Most Excellent Grand high Priest;
John Ridenour, Grand King;
Daniel Crockett, Grand Scribe;
John H. Smith, Grand Treasurer;
Dalvin L. Hollaway, Grand Secretary;
Gavin Reid, Grand Captain of the Host;
Stanley C. Miller, Grand Lecturer;
Paul Gehman, Jr., Grand Principal Sojourner;
Richard E. Surroz, Grand Royal Arch Captain;
Darrell Carter, Grand Master of the Third Veil;
Robert C. Elliott, Grand Master of the Second Veil;
Richard M. MacKinnon, Grand Master of the First Veil;
Loren E. Shrock, Grand Chaplain;
Robert M. Richard, Grand Orator;
Jerry Muceus, Grand Historian;
Carl G. Carlson, Grand Capitular Reviewer;
George Eldredge, Grand Musician;
and Charles R. Carroll, Grand Sentinel;
The convocation was held at the Seven Feathers Conference Center in Canyonville, Oregon.
We got together around 8:30 in the morning. A bit early for me, especially since it was a half-hour drive to get there from my home town, although I am fortunate that it is close enough to drive and not requiring to stay overnight at the hotel.
Companion Erik Arneson sat next to me during the session. We had communicated via email recently on Masonry but I had not seen him in person since I was about eleven years old, when we got together at a BBS Meet-Up, and I actually can't remember meeting him there but I did chat with him on the BBSes throughout the early nineties. It was interesting to cross paths with an old friend, anyhow. He told me at the start of the Reception of Distinguished Guests that the Morning Session of Grand Chapter was like aerobics. He wasn't kidding. We must have stood up at least twenty five times during the reception, as we welcomed our numerous guests from foreign lands - or, around the country, as it were. I can't remember all, but we had visitors representing Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Washington just to name a few. We were also privileged to have the General Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons International attend our convocation, Most Excellent Companion Larry E. Gray. I cannot do justice to all of the various talks delivered by all the Companions present at the meeting, but I can say that it was a worthwhile experience and that I would recommend other Masons to attend a Grand Royal Arch Chapter convocation if the occasion ever presents itself to do so.
Some of the visitors presented interesting and unique ideas that their jurisdictions have implemented, and I thought them worth passing along here:
- Make the Mark Master Degree available to any blue lodge Mason, free of charge, so that they can see a sample of the work of York Rite before deciding whether to go all the way through. Take the degree to them, rather than having them come to you; make the proper negotiations to be able to offer it to the Blue Lodges.
- With slight modifications to remove the secret work, the Most Excellent Master Degree can be made available for public viewing, for Mason's families, etc. This is a fascinating idea, and I am surprised that something this bold and creative has actually gone into practice, but apparently it has been well received.
- Start doing traditional classes. One degree at a time, and have Lodge/Chapter/etc. officers learn their own parts. The younger generation coming into Lodge views it as an educational process and actually wants the slower, traditional classes instead of Festivals being the only option.
I was impressed particularly by all of these reports (which I have somewhat reworded into the form of advice).
I hope this report was not without some merit to you,
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wow! A petitioner!
The shirt I was wearing was my "Seeking Further Light" York Rite shirt, available from my merchandise blog, however, any shirt would probably do just as well. I recommend getting one of your liking.
My rationale to consider shirts to begin with is that rings and jewelry such as tie-tacks used to be the day-to-day way to express yourselves in the late 1800's. We've kept the tradition of the Masonic ring, but this way of expression has been mostly superseded by messages on T-Shirts and bumper stickers -- they stand out more, and are more likely to be noticed.
I consider it a success. 1 day, 1 petitioner -- and a good one, at that. I don't expect to keep such a perfect record in the future, but it delighted me. I didn't even have to bend the rules and "ask", a technique for which there has been so much advocacy lately.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Lambskin Apron and Salvation
I chimed in with my response, because due to differences between Jurisdictions I believe his answer would have been inadequate to answer for the ritual here in Oregon.
Please read the original post, but I also include my comment here for my readers to likewise ponder:
I hope this was helpful to some.
Brother, well done on this response. I do have a different perspective on some of this, however. First, to keep the secrets of a Brother Master Mason. In my case I have seen this used more akin to clergy-parishioner confidentiality than for seeking financial help, but it is still used for seeking help. For example, Brother A. could approach Brother B. for counsel on a difficult life situation, and request Brother B.'s confidentiality, thereby trusting Brother B to give good counsel or aid in the situation while keeping the personal details secret. It is not for use in covering crimes, as, at least in my jurisdiction, breaking the law especially when it involves moral turpitude would be grounds for expulsion from the Fraternity, at which point one would no longer be required to extend the courtesy of treating the individual as a Brother Master Mason, in my opinion.
Second, and something that I have given thought to, is the allegation that Masonry teaches salvation. While in your jurisdiction it may only be hinted at in the portion of the apron lecture which you shared, in my Jurisdiction the language of the ritual does go a little further. I will share what is applicable, omitting portions for brevity:
"... And when at last ... from your nerveless grasp shall drop forever the working tools of life ... may the record of your life ... be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem [referring to the apron] ... And when your trembling soul shall stand ... before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion to hear ... 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"
More than this, the lecture given at the end of the Entered Apprentice degree contains the following:
"He, therefore, who wears the lamb skin as the badge of a Mason, is continually reminded of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary to his gaining admission to the celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe Presides."
This, in my opinion, is probably the most controversial part of our regular Masonic work, but I have not ever heard it directly criticized. I personally make no apology for this section, however. I would hope that "Heaven" (or the CLA) is viewed by all good men as a place where purity is to be found. While some religions will take no objection to this type of language, certain Christians often do, and so to them I would suggest that this passage may be applicable in the following way (and excuse the specific Christian language, but they are the ones to whom I am proposing this solution) - We, each and all of us, will get symbolic "spots" and blemishes on our aprons, making us impure (Every man has sinned and falls short...) and perhaps it is actually Jesus who has provided that "purity of life and rectitude of conduct so essentially necessary" on your behalf, since you are yourself incapable of it? The lambskin in this case becomes a symbol of Jesus, who is, after all, referred to by John the Baptist, one of the claimed Patron Saints of Freemasonry, as The Lamb of God. This interpretation turns the apron into a beautiful Christian symbol, for the Christian. Of course, others may view it as they see fit, and no Mason has the right to expect his particular interpretation to be accepted by any other.
Lest my above comment scare anyone, as it is only a sampling of the lectures, let me assure you that this is the closest our ritual gets to being guilty of this particular accusation. I have shared the worst of it, so to speak, and its all smooth sailing from there, so far as this point is concerned.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
A Program to Improve the Craft
I would suggest that we take matters into our own hands, both individually and as the group of Internet-savvy Masons and friends that we are. Lets start by asking ourselves, what type of Fraternity are we looking for? What type of people do we want in it? What do *I* want to make Freemasonry into?
I've already started this in my life, by choosing to associate with and be open and informative to those people whom I think would make good Masons. I haven't even bent the rule concerning solicitation, which so many people feel is a necessary breach -- it isn't. And I've got five candidates in the pipeline already, currently, over whom I was a either a primary or supportive direct influence. This isn't about sharing Masonry with everyone. I personally think we could use more of certain types of people in the Fraternity, and I am sculpting my Lodge into that picture the best way I know how. But, I want to work on a larger scale... and that's where you come in.
I would like to open an informal discussion between all the Masonic bloggers who care to participate where we can develop those types of questions posed above on both individual and group levels. After we determine what we want, I would like to see how much Internet muscle we have as a group, and what specific projects we might be able to undertake to help "funnel" the right kind of people to the appropriate Grand Lodge or local Lodge websites or to our own email inboxes if necessary, to find those who have already been made Masons in the hearts and help them to make it official. If we work collectively, we must be able to achieve something more than what our individual efforts can accomplish.
When I Google "Masonic blog", KSL comes up third on the list. I consider this a success for Masonry, and it gives us a viable platform as bloggers, but we can probably pour our efforts into something even better. Are there areas that the current round-up of Masonic websites are lacking in? Or, are there areas that they excel in which are not being harnessed into situations where the reader asking for a petition becomes possible?
ScottishRite.org and YorkRite.org are both great sites for information, but they are still written towards people who are already Masons and are already familiar with the jargon of Masonry. I've attempted to assemble a Grand Lodge web directory on my Ancient Craft Masonry page at KSL.
I will be disappointed if I don't see either comments here, or posts at your own blogs outlining what you are doing or are prepared to do individually to improve the quality of the craft and the people in it, in your area, and what you think we should focus on as a group to help bring the most desirable types of people (not just the most people) from the web into a situation where they may eventually be able to petition a Lodge. So, get to work!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Laurel Lodge is Busy!
Laurel Lodge is busy in these next few months.
This evening, March 13, we're holding a Special Communication to confer the Fellowcraft Degree upon Brother Mackintosh and Brother Stokes. I will be delivering the Lecture. I helped arrange the degree team not more than an hour ago, and we managed to pull it together. This is probably the most quickly organized degree I've ever heard of. I'll post back on whether it goes well or not, I believe it will.
Tomorrow evening we hope to confer the Entered Apprentice Degree upon Adam Howard. He is going to be leaving for two years in April so we are trying to accelerate his work to get it done before he goes, since we sat on his petition for quite some time. If we can't do it tomorrow, we're going to hold a Special Communication on Saturday and do it then instead. I will be sitting in the East and doing the Lecture for that degree. I also joked our Brethren for tonight's FC degree and told them that I expect them to have their proficiency ready to pass off by the next evening. What's scary is, they might actually do it!
We will hold another special communication on March 24 to examine Adam on his proficiency and (hopefully) to confer the Fellowcraft degree upon him.
Our Lodge is having a St. Patrick's Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner on March 28, and we will also examine any of our candidates who are prepared on their Fellowcraft proficiencies on that night. We're also balloting on a candidate who petitioned last month.
In April the Shrine Circus in Roseburg is going on the same day that we have our first stated meeting (April 11), so we are taking it easy and having a Master Mason Degree for Adam Howard scheduled for the following Saturday and one for Brother Stokes at our stated communication on the 25th. We will be passing off Adam's Master Mason proficiency before he leaves, if the blessing of heaven can attend us in accomplishing this task.
I counted it up and by my reckoning we have thirteen degrees to confer before this summer.
My personal goal is to become proficient at sitting in the East on all three degrees, and most particularly to become familiar with the part of King Solomon in the Master Mason degree, although being only 25, I feel too young for the part.
I'm excited to see all the new candidates coming into Lodge, and I look forward to working with them in the future as they begin to participate in our degree work.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
My Masonic History
Initiated October 23, 2002. (Fourth Wednesday)
Passed November 27, 2002. (Fourth Wednesday)
Raised January 29, 2003. (Fifth Wednesday - I wonder why? This isn't the stated night.)
Laurel Lodge #13 AF&AM of Oregon.
My Entered Apprentice Degree was conferred by:
W.M. Paul Temple
S.W. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
J.W. Larry Lane
S.D. Robert Mallory
J.D. Russ Howard
S.S. Roy McCoy
J.S. Lynn Masker
Chaplain: Ralph Simmons
Lecture: Dick Grabinski, P.M.
Charge: Lynn Masker
Apron Presented by: Paul Temple
My Fellowcraft Degree was conferred by:
W.M. Larry Lane
S.W. Ed Bouwsema, Worshipful Master
J.W. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
S.D. Paul Temple
J.D. Robert Mallory
S.S. Roy McCoy
J.S. Lynn Masker
Chaplain: Ralph Simmons
Lecture: Jim Phillips, Past Master
Charge: Lynn Masker
The first section of my Master Mason degree was conferred by:
W.M. Paul Temple
S.W. Larry Lane
J.W. Wes Cooper, Past Master
S.D. Lynn Masker
J.D. Roy McCoy
S.S. Tim Randall
J.S. Russ Howard
Chaplain: Dave Sherman
The second section was conferred by:
K.S. Robert Parkhill, Past Master
S.G.W. Roland Davis, Past Master
S.D. Wes Cooper, Past Master
J.D. Roy McCoy
1st F.C. Robert Mallory
2nd F.C. Clay Jordan, Past Master
3rd F.C. Ken Karlinger, District Deputy
1st R. Jim Phillips, Past Master
2nd R. Ed Bouwsema, Worshipful Master
3rd R. Paul Temple
S.C. Roy McCoy
W.F.M. Roy McCoy
Chaplain: Dave Sherman
Secretary: John Youngquist, Past Master
Lecture: Tim Randall
Charge: Wes Cooper, Past Master
Instructions: Lynn Masker
Presentations: Masonic Pin from Ed Bouwsema, Trowel from Paul Temple
I served as Junior Steward during 2004.
I took a Masonic sabbatical during 2005 ;-)
I served as Senior Steward during 2006.
I am currently serving as Senior Deacon for 2007. (Our Junior Deacon went off to college.)
As a Candidate, I was mentored by Russ Howard. When I started to learn the lectures for the degree work, I was mentored by Delmar Hockersmith, Bob Parkhill, and Paul Temple. Ken Karlinger and Wes Cooper have been quite helpful for the other parts of the work, although I can take to the short dialogue sections quite easily after having heard them a few times.
During 2004 I had done the First Fellowcraft part on the second section of the Master Mason degree a few times, although I no longer have it memorized as well as I used to.
I have also worked as Senior Deacon in the degree work (first section) on the several degrees a few times. During 2004 I had delivered the EA Lecture at least once, and the FC Lecture a couple of times, but I currently need to brush up on them, as they are not properly committed to memory and I am missing words in some places.
I sat in the East for the first time to confer the Entered Apprentice Degree upon my father-in-law, Larry Stokes, and also upon Justus Mackintosh, on December 13, 2006.
I sat in the East at Maple Lodge in Riddle on Monday, February 19, 2007 to confer the First section of the Master Mason degree, and played First Fellowcraft in the second section.
I have been mentoring Justus Mackintosh and Larry Stokes who both passed off their Entered Apprentice proficiencies on February 28, 2007.
I sat in the East at Maple Lodge in Riddle on Monday, March 5, 2007 to confer the First section of the Master Mason degree upon Brother Tom Little, and played First Fellowcraft in the second section.