Lodge of Perfection
These degrees, the 4th through 14th, are called Ineffable Degrees because their principal purpose is the investigation and contemplation of the ineffable name of Deity. Following each of degrees listed below we have provided a brief statement of the moral teachings found within its lecture.
4° Secret Master
Black and white. That’s the first thing to strike the eye in the apron and cordon of the Fourth Degree. Its creation of harmony by the balance of opposites is the first statement of the great theme of the Scottish Rite the essential philosophical and moral lesson of equilibrium.
White is the color of purity and light; black is the color of mourning and death. And the Rite tells us that we should never forget we are always in the midst of death, that we should never postpone making amends, never leave disputes unresolved, never fail to do a kindness. But neither should we be morbid and focused on death. Death borders what we know of life, but life is still good and filled with joy. The fact that life is transitory makes it all the more precious to us.
Again, the secret is equilibrium. Life is precious, but it must never be so precious that a Scottish Rite Mason accepts dishonor, or loss of integrity, or the sacrifice of others as an acceptable price of living. To shrink from death is natural, but we must never let that natural impulse make us fearful or cowardly.
The blue of the apron’s flap represents the heavens, and the eye in the sunburst represents not only the eye of Deity, Who sees and knows all things, but also the sun, the source of visible light and the provider of physical energy to the earth.
Heaven represents the goal and hope of every Mason, and the eye of Deity reminds us that everything we do, even in our most unguarded and frustrated moments, is done in the immediate presence of God, even as its second meaning, that of the sun, reminds us of the warmth and love of God, which so many ancient cultures have typified by the physical light of our star.
The wreath is made of olive and of laurel, symbols of peace and of victory. The victory, as always in the Scottish Rite, is not victory over others, but victory over ourselves — for that is the only victory which brings peace as its reward.
The ivory key which hangs from the yellow cordon is a symbol of secrecy and the letter “Z” which appears on both the wards of the key and the center of the apron is the initial of the password of the Degree. The C.a.M. embroidered on the cordon stands for the Latin Clavis ad Mysterium, the Key to the Mystery The lessons of the 4° are secrecy, obedience, and fidelity.
But secrecy must be understood in its Masonic sense. It is not the secrecy of conspiracy, the concealment of motives and activities, or “deeds done in darkness.” For a Mason, secrecy is the ability to keep a confidence. Great systems of philosophy have taught through the ages that such ability is the first step in developing self-discipline and self-control.
And there is more. The greatest need in the lives of most people is for friend in whom they can confide with no fear that what they say will be repeated, Each Scottish Rite Mason should strive to be such a friend.
Certainly, duty is the “great law” of Masonry and central to this Degree. Nowadays, many people think of duty as doing the minimum required in a situation. But duty, for a Scottish Rite Mason, is a positive virtue, not a negative requirement. It is a joy to be fulfilled eagerly, not a task to be performed grudgingly.
Duty and secrecy are the foundations not only of the Scottish Rite but of creative living. A man or woman who can be relied upon to do what is right and to respect the confidentiality of a friend’s private hopes and fears and doubts and dreams well along the path of becoming an honored and honorable human being.
5° Perfect Master
The symbolic reenactment of the funeral of Hiram the Builder forms the theme of the Fifth Degree. We are told of the legend that each year, on the anniversary of his burial, a worker was selected to represent the Grand Master Hiram, was briefly entombed and then brought forth, and was expected to live his life thereafter by the very highest standards of excellence of behavior.
The crossed pillars on the Fifth Degree apron represent Jachin and Boaz, which Biblical literature informs us Hiram named and set up on the porch of the Temple. In addition to their traditional Masonic meanings, they here represent Hiram himself.
Resting upon them is a cube, symbol of the finite universe. But here the cube also represents the Temple of Solomon. Among its many meanings, the Temple is considered as a model or representation of the universe, of life, and of the spiritual life each man must build.
Thus, the pillars represent Hiram, and the cube represents the work of God (the universe) and the work of Hiram (the Temple).
Surrounding the cube are three circles in orange, blue, and red. The circle is, of course, one of the oldest symbols of God, and these three represent His Wisdom, Power, and Beneficence. They surround, enclose, and protect His creation and the creations of His creatures.
The green border, lining, and flap of the apron, as well as the green cordon, represent spring or rebirth-the coming again of life after the death of winter.
The compasses are open on a quadrant to 60° to represent the other ancient symbol of God, the equilateral triangle.
Again the ceremony of the Degree centers around death, not as a negative or destroying force, but as the door through which we must pass to have eternal life. Thus, while the border of the apron of the Fourth Degree is black (representing sorrow, mourning, and death), this border represents moving past death into new life, rebirth, and joy.
The Degree also reinforces the ancient Masonic obligation to see our Brethren decently interred. It may be difficult for us, today, to understand the importance our Brethren of the last century placed on decent Masonic interment. But in Pike’s day, the bodies of impoverished citizens were given the most callous and ghastly shallow burial in potter’s fields, which were often despoiled by thieves or unearthed by animals. In contemporary America, our duty to the dead consists more in seeing their unfinished work completed and their memories preserved.
This is a good place to discuss the idea of Death, as presented in the Scottish Rite. Brethren sometimes remark that there is a great deal of death imagery in the Degrees, and they are correct. But the death imagery in the Rite is almost always an affirmation of life.
It serves two functions. At one level, there is a deep fear of death in most people-an unreasonable fear, in the light of the teachings of religion, but a fear nonetheless. That fear prevents many people from truly living. Using the same techniques of confrontation to be found in a modern clinic for the treatment of phobia, the Rite presents the image of death so that the fear can be overcome.
More importantly, the Masonic Degrees carry on the tradition of the ancient mysteries that new, richer, and expanded life can come only from death of some sort. Thus in the three Blue Lodge Degrees, we have the death of the ego represented by the entrance of the Entered Apprentice into the Lodge (for one cannot be a Brother if he selfishly places himself first in all things). We have the death of the ego-intellect in the Fellow Craft Degree (for one cannot experience intuition and insight if one is bound to their pre-conceived ideas and opinions). And in the Master Mason Degree, we have the death of the sense of apartness and individuality which keeps us from experiencing spiritual unity with our Brothers and with the Deity.
Later, in the 14°, Pike identifies the lessons of the 5° as “Honesty, Sincerity, and good Faith.” There are two central points the candidate should understand from the Fifth Degree. The first in honesty. But, for the Scottish Rite Mason, honesty is more than simply telling the truth. Honesty means that we do not mislead by innuendo nor slant information, truthful in itself, in such a way that people draw false conclusions. Honesty involves fulfilling commitments and doing what we have said we will do. It means looking out for the interests of the other person, not just for “Number 1.”
And Pike also reminds us in this Degree of the great importance of work and of doing that work well. As its second point, the Degree teaches it is honorable to leave behind us tasks well and truly accomplished, just as it is shameful to leave nothing. We owe a debt to posterity; it is only in that way we can repay the debt we owe to our predecessors. And we owe a debt to others, to place their interests at least on a level with our own.
6° Intimate Secretary
The story of the Sixth Degree goes like this: King Hiram was not having a good day. Word had just reached him in Tyre of the death of the Master Architect. He set forth in haste to Jerusalem. As he was passing through some desolate country, one of his courtiers informed him that the ruined towns they saw were the ones King Solomon was giving to him. Incensed that he was receiving poor instead of rich territories-and not really thinking-he stormed into Solomon’s audience chamber. Then, just as he was hitting his stride in telling Solomon what he thought of him, he found someone hiding and appearing to spy. It was more than an absolute monarch ought to be called upon to bear.
King Hiram was wrong, of course. He judged quickly and from appearances. Solomon tactfully refrained from pointing out that Hiram looked like a fool. Instead, Solomon, acting the part of the peacemaker, allowed the monarch of Tyre to recover his dignity and then resolved the problem.
The apron of the Sixth Degree is white lambskin, bordered with crimson. The crimson is a symbol of zeal. And the Degree both commends zeal as a virtue and warns against intemperate zeal, represented by the impetuosity and rashness of King Hiram.
On the body of the apron are the Phoenician letters B.N.S., initials of the words Berith, Neder, Shelemoth, meaning, Covenant, Vow, and Perfection. The two letters in the center spell the Divine Name, Yah. On the flap is a triangle, and the triangle repeats in the jewel of the Degree. The jewel is formed from the Tetractys (see page 33 of A Bridge to Light by III:. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross) and contains the triple delta. The deltas contain the symbols for the sun, the moon, and mercury, or the sun, moon, and Master of the Lodge. Remember that in Blue Lodge symbolism, the Master is assumed to be a combination of the sun and moon, being a balanced man by virtue of possessing all characteristics in proper equilibrium.
The essential theme of the Sixth Degree is that duty is to be performed not mean-spiritedly but with zeal, just as life is to be lived with zest. But always there must be balance. And it further teaches the great lesson that we are always to be slow in judgment and quick to act as peacemakers.
7° Provost and Judge
The white of innocence and the red of guiltless blood, wrongly spilled, are the colors of the apron and cordon of the Seventh Degree. The blood is that of the Master Architect who died rather than betray a trust. The white represents not only the purity of his life, but the purity of act and motive to which every Scottish Rite Mason should aspire.
But then we have a gold key, an ebony box, a balance (or scales), and, in the center of the white lambskin apron, a red-trimmed pocket with a red and white rosette just below its opening.
The key is to a box of ebony, seen in the Degree, which represents symbolically the human heart where, to quote Mackey, “are deposited the secret designs and motives of our conduct by which we propose to erect the spiritual temple of our lives.”
The pocket, legend tells us, holds the records of Solomon’s tribunal along with the plans of the Temple. Embroidered on the flap of the apron is a hand of justice holding a balance or scales. Here, as throughout the Scottish Rite, the balance serves as a symbol for two important themes, equilibrium and justice.
The Degree reminds us that we should never judge the motives of others quickly, and we should avoid judging them at all if that is possible. The simplest reason is that we cannot truly know the motives of another; they are locked away in his heart. But the other reason is that we are very inclined to apply different standards to others than to ourselves. We excuse our own actions on the basis that our motives are good (our heart is in the right place), but with others, we often say “It doesn’t make any difference why he did it, it was wrong.”
The gold key, ebony box, and balance or scales combine to remind us of the great lesson of the Seventh Degree: each thought, each action, each dream, each virtue, and each vice become a part of the plan for our own Temple, our own life, no matter how tightly we may lock them in our heart.
8° Intendant of the Building
PURITY is of many kinds–personal integrity, a focus on things of the spirit rather than the flesh, a moral refusal to exploit others.
ZEAL can be the earnest dedication of the cloistered scholar determined to find the truth no matter where it lies or the unswerving opposition of the lover of freedom to all forms of intolerance.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE may be the individual’s hope of the afterlife, the belief that this world can be made better and more compassionate, or a commitment to leave for future generations at least as much as was left to us.
The colors of the 8th Degree apron (pictured above) represent purity (white), bordered by hope or regeneration (green), and lined with zeal (red). On the apron is a nine-pointed star, which symbolizes the Divine truth God revealed to the first men. This is the first appearance in the Scottish Rite Degrees of the symbol which will become the Triple Interlaced Triangle of the 32nd Degree. Above the star is the balance, again symbolizing both equilibrium and justice, major keys in understanding the path to Divine truth. On the flap is an equilateral triangle, symbol of Deity, containing at each of its corners Phoenician letters which mean, apex letter, S for the Hebrew words shekinah, the divine presence; left, the letter B for Ben-Khurim, meaning son of nobles or freeborn; and, right, the letter A for Ahad, meaning The One, our only God.
The cordon is red or crimson, and the jewel hangs from it by a green ribbon. The jewel is a triangle or delta of gold. One side contains the Phoenician word for “nobles” or “freeborn” which Pike tells us is intended to indicate the sons of Hiram. The other side has Samaritan letters which are interpreted to mean “One God, Source of all things.” Thus the jewel reinforces the theme of the Degree, for Hiram was a worker, and his sons, noble and freeborn, work not because they are forced to, but from zeal, from a love of accomplishment.
Work is central to the Degree. One lesson is that a man cannot make real progress in Masonry without study. The Degree further teaches us that great undertakings are cooperative efforts. The Degree also teaches the valuable lesson that knowledge is easily lost unless it is carefully preserved and passed on to future generations. We have an obligation to teach, just as surely as we have an obligation to learn. And all of us have something of value to teach.
9° Elu of the Nine (Elected Knight of the Nine)
In the Ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, ignorance, error, and intolerance — the great enemies of mankind — are symbolized by the black border of the apron and the black cordon. Throughout history, there has been a basic conflict between those who seek to suppress others and those who seek to free them. The conflict has usually been bloody. The white of the apron represents both Masonry and Truth, while the gold blazing star on the flap symbolizes the light and knowledge for which we must always seek.
On the apron is a dark cavern in which burns a candle, again symbolic of the light which, however small, dispels the darkness and leads the seeker toward truth. The jewel of the Degree is a dagger with gold hilt and silver blade. The gold and silver represent the sun and moon, and recall the symbolism of the Blue Lodge in which they combine to form the complete and balanced man, in control of his own passions and free in his own thought. The gold and silver or sun and moon also suggest that truth never rests; it leads and shines both by day and by night. The red of the cordon represents the blood of those who have been persecuted for Truth and for Masonry. Their number is legion — DeMolay, burned at the stake because a tyrant regarded wealth more than honor; Tyndall, murdered because he dared to translate the Bible; millions of Jews and Masons in Hitler’s death camps, exterminated simply because they were Jews and Masons; millions of intellectuals and other inconvenient persons in Cambodia, massacred simply because they were intellectuals and inconvenient.
The cordon’s nine red rosettes symbolize the nine Elus (Elected ones) chosen to seek out the murders of Hiram. In symbolic terms, we as Elus are elected to seek out ignorance, error, and intolerance (the murderers) which always seek to destroy the best in human nature (Hiram).
The rosettes also symbolize the nine special virtues of the Degree which serve as additional weapons for the Mason: disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism. The term disinterestedness sometimes causes confusion, as some people assume it to mean “lack of concern or commitment.” But that is not the meaning at all. Disinterestedness means “without being self-serving.” The person who tries to do right, simply because it IS right, and not because it will benefit himself in any way, is being disinterested.
The virtues of the Degree give rise to its duties — to enlighten our souls and minds; to share that light with the people; and to defend the interests and honor of our country so that its freedoms may be preserved and extended. Pike never allows us to forget that we are in a battle to the death with the forces which seek to enslave the spirit of men and women. And it is a battle fought just as really with truth and justice and virtue as it ever was with sword or cannon.
The problem of toleration is especially difficult because it is so easy to “feel good” about being intolerant. The highest price we are called upon to pay for freedom is not in taxes to defend the country, nor even on the battlefield. The highest price we must pay for freedom is to allow others to be free.
Religious toleration means that we must allow others the same right to freedom of worship we demand for ourselves, even if we find their practices wrong or repugnant.
Intellectual toleration means that we must allow the free and full exploration of every idea, even if we think it wrong or dangerous.
Social toleration means that we must allow others to live lifestyles we may find strange or uncomfortable, whether on a commune or in a convent.
Of all the lessons a man or woman must learn to be truly human, toleration may well be the hardest.
10° Elu of the Fifteen (Illustrious Elect of the Fifteen)
The colors of the regalia of the Tenth Degree repeat those of the Ninth Degree, but there are some important differences. The apron of the Tenth Degree is not only bordered in black, it is fringed (see next page). This is the first time we encounter fringe on the Scottish Rite Degree aprons. Fringe is a very old symbol found in the Hebrew tradition and in many others. It was apparently significant in the Phoenician system of thought as well, making it an interesting symbol in connection with Hiram, who was Hebrew on his mother’s side and Phoenician on his father’s. Fringe may be said to represent spirituality and a dedication to things of the spirit.
Since the theme of the Ninth and Tenth Degrees is the elimination of Ignorance, Tyranny, and Fanaticism (intolerance), the fringe on the apron suggests that the elimination of these three great enemies is not only necessary for the happiness and strength of a society but also necessary for the spiritual growth of the individual and the society in which he lives. Opposition to Ignorance, Tyranny, and Fanaticism thus becomes a sacred obligation for each individual.
The three arches on the apron represent the east, west, and south entrances or gates to Jerusalem, Solomon having directed that the head of one of the three ruffians who murdered Hiram be exposed over each gate. The t ree rosettes above the arches represent these ruffians and symbolize Ignorance, Tyranny and Fanaticism (indicated above the rosettes by the letters I, T, and F). Thus, those entering Jerusalem — symbolically, those on a quest for spiritual self-development — are reminded of the nature of the enemies to be opposed. The fifteen who participated in the capture of the assassins of Hiram are rewarded by admittance into a higher Degree, and the new order is called the Elu of the Fifteen, Elu meaning one who is selected or elected. The candidate of this Degree, in being invested with this rank, devotes himself to toleration and liberality. (See III. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross, A Bridge to Light, page 65.)
The black of the cordon represents the sorrow caused to the world by Ignorance, Tyranny, and Fanaticism.
The jewel of this Degree, like that of the Ninth Degree, is a dagger with gold hilt and silver blade. The combination of gold (a sun metal) and silver (a moon metal) is an ancient symbol. The Egyptians topped many of their monuments and made many of their statues with an alloy of gold and silver called electrum. Again, the symbol teaches balance and harmony — the combination of the male (sun) and the female (moon). This balance is true even in the Sword of Truth, which the dagger of the Degree symbolizes.
A couple of points in the symbolism of the regalia deserve special notice. Ignorance is classified as a vice. We usually think of a vice as something a person does, but Pike tells us that Ignorance is as destructive as any action could possibly be.
Tyranny is given some special attention. We generally think of tyranny as the political oppression of some people. But tyranny comes in many forms. Tyranny takes place whenever any person or group says, “What I want is more important than what you want. My desires are more important than your desires. I matter more than you matter. Do it my way, or else.” Or, even worse, “Believe my way or else.”
Tyranny does not equate with authority, but with attitude. We do not call the skilled and caring teacher who maintains order and discipline in his or her class a tyrant, nor the king who governs for the best interests and welfare of his people, nor the nation which offers protection to another nation while carefully not interfering with the nation so helped, nor the husband or wife who discharges the affairs of the household with authority, but also love and concern.
The essence of tyranny is selfishness. And if tyranny is selfishness in the world of material things, fanaticism is selfishness in the world of ideas and beliefs. Fanaticism is the sort of selfishness which says, “I am right. If you do not agree with me, you are wrong, and I have the right to hurt you.”
Ignorance allows both fanaticism and tyranny to flourish, for only knowledge can form the basis of freedom. And ignorance is the primary weapon of the tyrant and the fanatic. Even today, the first action by a group attempting to overthrow a government and establish a dictatorship is to take control of all the means of communication and education — radio and television stations first, then newspapers and magazines. Both the tyrant and the fanatic can give good reasons why “Just a little censorship is needed–only until things stabilize,” or why they should control what people read “because otherwise they may ask questions and lose the ‘true faith.”‘ The fanatic always wants to benefit others.
All he asks in return is your mind and soul.
11° Elu of the Twelve (Sublime Knight Elect of the Twelve)
The 11th Degree apron is white, lined and bordered in black, and with a black flap. As before, black represents those negative qualities typified by ignorance, error, and intolerance. White represents purity of life and intention. On the apron is a flaming heart, a symbol repeated on the cordon. The flaming heart represents zeal and devotedness, especially the zeal and devotedness of those who, throughout the world’s history, have sacrificed themselves for the good of their country or mankind. On the cordon, above the heart, are the words Vincere aut Mori, “Conquer or Die.”
The jewel is a sword of gold. It represents truth. The allusion is to Hebrews 4:12, “Truth is sharper than any two-edged sword.”
All these emblems point to devotedness, activity, zeal—and they can be a little uncomfortable. After all, we’re told to “keep our cool,” to “chill out,” to “relax and go with the flow.”
And here is the Scottish Rite saying “be committed,” “care deeply and passionately,” “fight against the current.” It’s the difference between a comfortable life and a productive life. And the sad truth is that the productive life is seldom comfortable.
The Degree teaches that the Scottish Rite Mason must be actively involved in the government of his nation. Unjust taxes, governmental bureaucracies more concerned with self-perpetuation than with service, creeping limitations on the freedom of the people—in the name of expediency, or of conformity, or of “the greater good”—are not new. They have been recorded in virtually every government from antiquity to today. If we are truly to be the champions of the people (as the Rite calls upon us to be), we must be concerned with every miscarriage of justice, every unreasonable limitation of liberty, every arbitrary act of court or state house or capital.
Our special concern must be for those who do not have easy access to the courts, nor the ear of those in power, nor influence with city hall. Their very powerlessness creates a binding obligation on every Mason of the Rite. It would be far easier, and far more comfortable, to “chill out.”
But our duty is to be aflame.
12° Grand Master Architect
The Twelfth Degree begins the climb of the Scottish Rite Mason into the reaches of philosophy, as opposed to the emphasis on morality typical of the earlier Scottish Rite Degrees. In order to accomplish this, Pike takes us straight back to Blue Lodge symbolism with the traditional colors of blue, white, and gold. The blue with which the apron is lined and bordered, the blue of the cordon, and the gold of the apron’s fringe are colors whose Blue Lodge symbolism is too well-known to discuss here.
The flap of the apron shows a protractor. The apron itself shows a plain scale, a sector (two sets of scales, hinged at one end and used for computations), and the compasses arranged to form a triangle. The choice of these three to form a triangle is interesting, remembering that the triangle is a symbol of Deity. The scale is an instrument of measurement, the sector of computation, and the compasses of spirituality and creation. They might, therefore, be considered symbols of the justice (measurement), wisdom (computation) and creativeness (spirit) of God.
The jewel is seven-sided, with a five-pointed star, enclosed in a semi-circle, in each vertex. The center shows an equilateral triangle formed by the arcs of circles. Thus, with the triangle, the shape of the stars and the shape of the jewel, we have the numbers 3, 5, and 7. The reverse of the jewel (pictured on the sheet above the apron on the facing page) shows the five orders of architecture, the three types of compasses, a plain scale, a parallel, a ruler, a sector, and a slide rule. It is interesting to note that all the instruments shown are instruments of calculation and creation. The instruments of testing which play so large a part in the Blue Lodge Degrees—the plumb, square, and level—are absent. This is because we are now moving away from the operative and fully into the speculative or philosophical aspects of Freemasonry. The instruments are emblems, of course, of the ethical duties of man and the duties he owes to himself—to study, to learn, to develop, and especially to think. Only then can a Freemason be a Master Architect.
13° Royal Arch of Solomon (Knight of the Ninth Arch)
The apron of Thirteenth Degree is crimson, red with an a mixture of blue, symbolizing zeal with a spiritual dimension. On the apron is the rayed triangle, the emblem of Deity and Light. In the center is an ancient form of the Hebrew letter yod, meaning Deity. The cordon is purple, blue with an admixture of red, again representing spirit with an element of zeal.
The jewel is circular. On the front are the initials of Latin words, which translate “In the reign of Solomon, wisest of Kings, Adoniram, Joabert, and Satolkin found under the ruins the most precious treasure.” The letters surround an engraving of two men lowering a third into an underground vault. On the reverse of the jewel, the rayed triangle is repeated. The figures and words relate to the legend of the Degree, which tells how, during the building of the Temple of Solomon, three workers discovered the vaults constructed long before by Enoch, containing a cube of agate into the surface of which he had placed a triangular plate of gold emblazoned with the Name of God.
An important message of the Degree is that it is easy for the Name of God to be lost; that is, it is easy for the impulse to seek God to turn aside into superstition, fear, or temporary concerns. The Degree’s use of the Name of God to symbolize a person’s understanding of God and the relationship between himself and his Creator warns us that we must not allow ourselves to construct false idols in the place of Deity. We must not, in other words, make a god of money, or social position, or political expediency, or anything else.
The great promise of the Degree is that when a person truly begins to experience his own spirituality, when one discovers the luminous pedestal with the cube of agate and the triangle of gold, a personal transformation takes place. We start to become different people—richer in spirit, more compassionate, more truly human.
But it is an active search—zeal with a touch of spirituality, spirituality with a touch of zeal—that never ends as we grow closer to Deity in mind, heart, and spirit.
14° Perfect Elu (Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Mason)
Red, white, and blue appear again in the regalia of the 14°. Here they symbolize truth, justice, and right. The apron is of white lambskin, bordered in blue, and lined in red. Red flowers form a second border, and within that is embroidered the jewel of the Degree, crowned compasses open to 45° on an arc marked with III, V, VII, and IX. Inside the compasses is a pendant showing the sun on one side and a five-pointed star on the reverse side (not shown). A delta is within the star, and the name of Deity, in Phoenician letters, is within the delta. On the flap of the apron is a flat stone, fitted with a ring. The collar of the Degree is crimson, with a sprig of acacia on one side and a silver, five-pointed star on the other. Within the star is the Phoenician word for “perfection.”
The compasses represent spirituality. They also represent science and knowledge, and are crowned because, in the legend of Hiram, knowledge made him the companion and equal of kings. The sun represents Divine Light while the star represents the uncounted suns spread throughout the universe, all obeying the laws of nature established by God. The stone is a reminder of the 13th Degree, in which the cube containing the triangular plate of gold with the name of Deity is discovered, and the plate itself is within the star on the reverse of the jewel’s pendant. The sprig of acacia here, as in the Blue Lodge Degrees, symbolizes immortality.
As Rex Hutchens points out in A Bridge to Light, the 13° and 14° must be considered together if we are to understand all the meanings involved in each Degree. In the 13°, the treasure is discovered in the vaults constructed by Enoch (a man of great spirituality), and those vaults are built vertically into the earth, symbolic of the penetration of Light and understanding deep into the human psyche. Solomon (who is not a spiritual man but who has great earthly wisdom) has the treasure placed in a vault built horizontally between his palace and the Temple. This arrangement is symbolic of Light which is treasured and protected, but which does not become the foundation and basis of life.
The symbols of the Degree, then, reflect the three aspects of man—the physical, represented by the stone; the intellectual, represented by Solomon; and the spiritual, represented by Enoch and by the triangular plate of gold. That is one of the senses in which the Mason of the 14° is said to be a Perfect Elu. The three elements of his being are supposed to be in perfect balance and harmony.
But the Degree also makes another point: mankind—all men and women—are far more than mere accidents of fate or chemistry. They are individual, unique souls and spirits. That bond, that similarity is much greater than any possible difference which can separate us. Thus, each of us should truly think of every other person as a brother. We fight much the same battles, share much the same pain, have much the same dreams. As a result, the Scottish Rite Mason can never be indifferent to others. He has two fundamental obligations—first, to strive to see that the physical needs of his fellow human beings are met and, second, to look to their spiritual and emotional needs as well, sharing what he has learned by example and by action. Perfection, of course, is unattainable. But the search for perfection is critical. We receive as much Divine Light as we are prepared to receive and are capable of understanding. As we become better prepared, we receive more.
Jim Tresner, 33°, Grand Cross
PO Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044–0070
(Used with permission)