Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Cathedrals of the Double Headed Eagle : Part 1
A Quick Tour Around the Scottish Rite Cathedrals Past and Present

Written by

SP Conor Patrick Moran, 32°

My interest in the meeting places of the Scottish Rite can largely be attributed to my love of the arts and architecture. Given my work schedule, I find that it’s often difficult to make a side diversion to visit one of these majestic buildings while traveling. It is also interesting to note that my Valley, the Valley of New York, meets in the Grand Lodge building in New York City. We have long since sold our building, which I believe but haven’t verified, is still standing somewhere in Midtown. I thought a quick tour around some of the majestic cathedrals of the Scottish Rite might shed some ‘light’ on a time when Masonic organizations went to great lengths to build grand edifices to exemplify to the world just how unique the organization really is.

To begin with, where does the name cathedral come from and why did it end up that Scottish Rite buildings were christened cathedral? Much like ordinary lodge buildings that have been dubbed ‘Temples’ in the past, there’s nothing particularly religious about these buildings are what goes on inside them. The term ‘cathedral’ is used to reference the bishops’ church in his jurisdiction. Although there may be many churches in a jurisdiction, the cathedral is his personal building.

Doing a little more research, I came across an interesting citation in Albert Mackey’s tome, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1. When looking up ‘cathedral’ the definition is explained by the Supreme Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction in 1923, John H. Cowles as follows: “The word cathedral is improper as applied to Scottish Rite buildings. It is only in recent years that the word has come into use in this Jurisdiction, presumably from the purchase of some church building by Scottish Rite bodies, and remodeling it to Scottish Rite uses.”

So the conclusion seems to be that our buildings should never really have been called cathedrals in the first place. Another way of looking at this is that perhaps the buildings were called cathedrals to invoke the spirit of our operative predecessors, the stonemasons of the great cathedrals of medieval Europe.

In taking this ‘tour’ I’m leaving out the Scottish Rite House of the Temple in Washington DC. This building is very well publicized and featured prominently in Dan Brown’s latest work, The Lost Symbol. I’m trying to focus on lesser known buildings to members of the Scottish Rite. Many of these buildings were constructed in the early 1900’s-1920’s when membership was at its peak and it was a bit of a competition to design the most ornate meeting place. We have seen much consolidation over the years, not just from the Scottish Rite, but from Freemasonry in general, and many of these buildings have been sold or are rented out frequently to make ends meet.

Detroit Masonic Temple from Above

Our first stop takes us to Detroit, MI. Detroit is a city that has fallen on some hard times, however, their Masonic building still stands as a tower to the heavens and a classic example of Masonic architecture. This building is not exclusively for Scottish Rite use, however, I thought I would include it as it has a special section devoted to Scottish Rite only use.

Lobby of the Scottish Rite Section of the Masonic Temple

Detroit’s Masonic Temple is the largest in the world and planning began for it in 1892. Adjoining the main lobby is the Scottish Rite lounge, richly furnished with period furniture, beautiful hangings and Persian rugs, with its high paneled walls, heavy molded ceilings and cathedral windows creates an atmosphere suggestive of Scottish Rite Masonry. In this lounge is hung an original painting of George Washington as master of his lodge, done by Emanuel Leutze in the year 1855, and also the wonderfully wrought suit of armor fashioned in Europe especially for the Scottish Rite quarters.

Stepping from the lounge through an ample hall, one enters the Scottish Rite Cathedral with its seating capacity of 1600 and its fully equipped stage for the dramatization of the Scottish Rite degrees. The Cathedral is a beauty spot of the Temple made rich by the carvings and color work of the whole which is most effectively carried out in the ceiling. The Cathedral is equipped with a four manual organ of 70 stops, the echo of which is located in the ceiling. The stage is modern in every detail with a width of 64 feet from wall to wall and a depth of 37 feet from foot lights. The proscenium opening is 35 feet. The height from floor to fly gallery is 28 feet and from floor to gridiron is 64 feet. There is a counterweight system of 100 sets of lines and a remote control five color preset switchboard.

The precedents for fraternal buildings are all in Greek or Egyptian. Nothing of the sort had been done in Gothic, yet the architect felt that this style best expressed the traditions of Masonry, Solomon's Temple and the beautiful Scottish Rite Cathedral in Washington to the contrary notwithstanding. Certainly the spirit and tradition of the Knights Templar and the historic setting of the Scottish Rite are Gothic, and operative Masonry, having its origin in the guilds of Europe, has the tradition of the great cathedrals of which they were builders.

In all, there are twenty-eight units in the building grouped into three major divisions: the ritualistic tower, the auditorium and the Shrine Club. Provisions for fifty Masonic bodies which must operate independently were included in the plans.

George Washington's own working tools, brought from his Virginia Lodge, were employed. The first mortar was spread with the same trowel that our first president used in the corner stone laying of the National Capitol. On September 18, 1922, thousands of Master Masons and their families witnessed the corner stone of the Masonic Temple of Detroit being placed into position.

Scottish Rite Auditorium

For more information about this building, you can visit the following websites:

or this book:
Images of America Detroit’s Masonic Temple (MI). Kowalski, Greg and Alex Lumberg. Arcadia Publishing. September 2006.

The next stop on our journey takes us to Omaha, Nebraska to visit the Valley of Omaha.

Valley of Omaha Cathedral

In 1912 the members of the Omaha Valley of Scottish Rite broke ground for the new building at 2001 Douglas Street. This magnificent neo-classical building covering approximately 47,000 square feet on four floors opened to the members in the fall of 1914. The November Fall Reunion picture shows 168 men posing for this special occasion. All but six were new Scottish Rite Masons. What an exciting opportunity it would have been to be part of that first Reunion Class of 1914 to receive the degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry.

Over the years the membership added the Organ (1926 dedication), had Bro. Thomas Moses, creator of Scottish Rite scenery to come to Omaha to paint our original set of stage drops. Original seating from American Seating can be found in the balcony with the wires under the seats for men to store their top hats and a hook built in at the bottom of the standards for the ladies to put their parasols.

Heading southwest on Highway 80 takes us to the Valley of Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Lincoln Scottish Rite Building

Lincoln's Scottish Rite Temple is a reinforced concrete, Neo-Classical Revival style building sheathed in Indiana limestone. The temple's most prominent feature is a colossal order of ten Roman Doric columns on the front facade. By 1916 when the temple was constructed, there were seventeen Masonic organizations in the city. On April 6, 1916, Lincoln's Delta Lodge of Perfection No. 4 voted to build a new Scottish Rite Temple. The building was designed by Ellery L. Davis, Lincoln's leading architect in the first half of the twentieth century.

Next we head to the city of Yankton, North Dakota to view their Scottish Rite Cathedral. The building originally began use as the cities Masonic Temple.

Yankton Scottish Rite Cathedral

Groundbreaking for the massive Masonic Temple, on the southwest corner of Fourth and Cedar Streets, took place in September 1901. Dedication events filled a week in March 1903, and the building is still used by the Yankton Masonic Scottish Rite, officially established in 1862 (though the first Masonic visitor to the area was probably Meriwether Lewis in 1804).

Yankton’s Scottish Rite Masonic Center includes a fully equipped theatre, complete with main floor and balcony seating, a light and sound system, more than 50 historically significant hand painted scenic backdrops, and a rare Aeolian player pipe organ (one of only three such instruments known to exist).

Heading to the state of Oregon, we first stop in Portland, Oregon to visit the Scottish Rite building.

Portland, OR Scottish Rite Building

The Scottish Rite Center was completed in 1902 and still stands as a magnificent example of neo-Classical architecture. The auditorium seats 587.

Traveling north a bit to Spokane, Washington brings us to a very impressive Scottish Rite building. Unfortunately, not a lot can be gleaned from their website or the state’s Orient on the building. The long row of Doric columns adds to a stately sense of what transpires inside the building.

Spokane Scottish Rite Building

Next up is the State of California. California has some of the most impressive and varied forms of architecture in the United States in their Scottish Rite buildings. What’s even more interesting is how quickly Scottish Rite masonry spread throughout the state. California was only admitted to the union in the late 1850’s and Scottish Rite Orients had begun to spring up during that time.

Our first stop takes us to Bakersfield, California’s Scottish Rite Building. There’s not a whole lot of information out there on how and why it was created.

Front Fa├žade of Bakersfield Building

Next up is a trip to Oakland for a very impressive building. The building was constructed in 1927 and interestingly, since 2005, the building has been green – operating on solar power.

Main Lobby of the Oakland Scottish Rite

The Oakland Scottish Rite building sits on the shores of Lake Merritt and the Valley began operations in 1883. There is an excellent history available chronicling the founding and creation of previous buildings for the Scottish Rite. Albert Pike helped bring the Rite to Oakland in the summer of 1883. The website is http://scottish-rite.org/srhist.htm

Oakland Scottish Rite Auditorium

Long Beach, California brings us to our next Scottish Rite Building. The building was completed in 1926 and was designated one of Long Beach’s first few historic buildings.

The five-story Romanesque Revival building was built for use in the Scottish Rite branch of Freemasonry. It was built from 1925 to 1926 from steel frame and reinforced concrete with exterior granite terra cotta. Architects Wright & Gentry prepared the drawings for the building as well as the Long Beach York Rite Temple. The general contractor on the project was W.E. Campbell.

The building's auditorium is considered an outstanding example of early 20th Century opulence. The 30-foot-high ceiling has hand-painted designs. The stage measures 27 feet across the front curtain area and is 40 feet deep. It is used for theatrical performances, weddings, and other events. There is seating for 800.

The groundbreaking for the building was in July 1925. The skeleton of steel, weighing approximately 500 tons, was installed in just 27 days. Some 250 tons of ornamental terra cotta purchased from the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company were also used on the structure. Architect Parker O. Wright described the choice of materials as follows: "Steel was selected because buildings of this type are more enduring and more nearly earthquake proof than those of any other material."

The cathedral was dedicated in September 1926 in a three-day ceremony during which several hundred individuals were invested with various degrees of Masonry. At the time of its opening, the Los Angeles Times called it "one of the most beautiful structures of its kind in the West." The total cost of the building with furnishings was estimated to be $500,000.

In 1980, the building became the eighth structure to be designated as a Long Beach Historic Landmark. At the time, the Los Angeles Times referred to it as an "enormous" building with an "imposing facade" and an "elaborately decorated main auditorium."

Long Beach, California

Fresno, California’s Scottish Rite Building is next.

Fresno, CA

The Los Angeles, CA Valley has had several buildings in their past. The building pictured below was built in 1900 when the membership in the Valley had reached 200.

Hope Street Scottish Rite Cathedral

It became necessary in 1994 to find a temporary home and to explore locations for a new Temple. It had been a long-time mission of the Los Angeles Bodies to establish the California Cultural Heritage Museum; a place for people to learn about the heritage of their communities. The Elsworth Myer Gallery is designed to introduce Masonry to the public. The William R. Hervey Gallery focuses on the City of Los Angeles and the Scottish Rite from 1885 to 1950. Both museums display memorabilia, historical photographs and documents, all available for public viewing and research. The new building is pictured below.

New Scottish Rite Building in Los Angeles, CA

In Pasadena, California, the Pasadena Scottish Rite has a building dating back to 1925. The building is at 150 N. Madison Avenue complete with auditorium, stage, and 90 scene drops.

In 1957 the first major remodeling project got under way since the building was constructed in 1925. In 1959 authorization was obtained to purchase property for expansion. The membership had now grown to nearly 4,000. In 1961 a new entrance and vestibule was constructed leading from the North parking lot directly into the banquet hall. It followed an Egyptian motif with terrazzo floor and appropriate furnishings. During November the entire building was repainted. New sound equipment was installed in Cobb Auditorium consisting of console, amplifiers and racks. A new Scottish Rite Museum was also authorized. (1) Again in November 1964 extensive remodeling of 40 year old Cobb Auditorium was authorized including electrical and sound improvements, extended stage, new lighting and 454 new permanent seats. In 1969 an architect was employed to draw plans to modernize certain areas of the main floor and basement.

Pasadena, CA Scottish Rite Cathedral
I have tried to avoid highlighting more ‘modern’ Scottish Rite Cathedrals, however, one noteworthy building is the Valley of San Francisco’s Scottish Rite Center.

San Francisco Scottish Rite Center

Traveling west to the island of Hawaii, we visit the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Honolulu. The building was built in 1922 by the Christian Science organization, and, that same year, became the Scottish Rite Cathedral, home to the Scottish Rite Masons, one of a handful of lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in Hawai‘i. The Scottish Rite has been in Hawai‘i since 1874, and counts among its founding members John Dominis, King Kalakaua (who also founded HONOLULU Magazine), former mayor of Honolulu Lester Petrie and N.R. Farrington.

Honolulu Scottish Rite Cathedral

Heading back east, we pass through Salt Lake City, Utah and visit their Scottish Rite Cathedral.

Salt Lake City, Utah Scottish Rite Building During the Day

Heading south, we go to Sante Fe, New Mexico where one of the most impressive Scottish Rite Cathedrals stands.

In 1909 Santa Fe's paper, The Daily New Mexican announced that local (he lived and had offices in both New Mexico and Colorado) architect Isaac H. Rapp had been awarded the commission to design a new Scottish Rite Cathedral. A few months later, in July of the same year, it printed a perspective by Rapp showing a grand Neo-classical styled design for the Temple. Only a week later the same paper printed that Rapp's plans had been considered to be "not satisfactory." Shortly afterwards it was announced that the Los Angeles architectural firm of Hunt and Burns had been employed instead. They produced a Moorish Revival style structure based loosely on one of the gatehouses to the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra in Spain. Hunt and Burns were well known for their designs in the Spanish California Mission style, but decided instead to base their design on a connection between the Spanish building tradition of New Mexico and that of the Moors in southern Spain.

Still somewhat shocking today is the pink colored stucco that the building was, and still is clad in.

That Isaac Rapp did not get the commission was not a huge loss to him as he was to build his design in 1913 as the Las Animas County Court House, in Trinidad, Colorado. Also, that he did not design the building that was ultimately built was apparently missed by some, as he has been erroneously listed as the architect of the building.

Sante Fe, NM Scottish Rite Cathedral

Heading to Colorado, which has three Valleys, we stop in the capitol city of Denver, CO.

Denver Consistory Building in Denver, CO

There are many more Scottish Rite Cathedrals that I will be highlighting in a future posing as we make our way back across Texas, the Midwest, the Southeast, and the East Coast!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Role of the Pelican Inside and Outside the Walls of the Scottish Rite


Sublime Prince Conor Moran,32°
AASR Valley of New York

The role of the pelican and its meaning is not particularly unique to the Scottish Rite. As we have recently seen in the 18th degree, it plays a subtle role that probably deserves some further exploration. The pelican’s influence can be traced back to its origin in the organization that helped form what is now the 18th degree of the AASR – The Rosicrucians. The exact nature of their influence on the degree is debatable, but there seems to be some pattern of modeling their activities and ideals around those of the 18th degree.

As a matter of background, the Rosicrucians formed sometime around the year 1400, although it could have been as late as the early 1600’s. They were founded as an esoteric society with no more than 8 members who each undertook an oath to heal the sick and maintain a secret fellowship. The organization expanded during the 1500’s at a time when philosophical and religious freedom had grown, and so the organization began seeking good men to work within those parameters.

The organization spawned several esoteric societies, each claiming a lineage from the Rosicrucian and its founder, Christian Rosenkreuz (Rose-cross). What is now known as the Knight of the Rose Croix (18th degree AASR) developed from these organizations. The jewel of the 18th degree is the ‘Rose Cross’ – a cross below the rose followed by the pelican feeding its young.

The concept of the pelican as a symbol seems to derive from early Christian symbolism. The pelican itself is only mentioned twice by name in the modern version of the Bible. The pelican is used to represent abstract ideas – it is an image or symbolic representation with sacred significance. The Pelican Christian symbol represents atonement and charity. The ‘pelican in her piety’ in heraldry and symbolic art is a representation of a pelican in the act of wounding herself to nourish her young. The pelican cutting open its own breast represents Christ’s death on the cross and the shedding of his blood to revive his followers. It is therefore adopted as a symbol of the redeemer and charity. A simpler explanation of this is that the pelican’s bill has a red tip – contrasting the red tip against the naked white breast probably gave rise to the tradition that the pelican tore open her own breast to feed her young with her blood.

The legend of the pelican is explained like this in the text Bestiarium (Natural History) : “The pelican is very fond of his young ones, and when they are born and begin to grow, they rebel in their nest against their parent, and strike him with their wings flying about him, and beat him so much till they wound him in his eyes. Then the father strikes and kills them. And the mother is of such a nature that she comes back to the nest on the third day, and sits down upon her dead young ones, and opens her side with her bill and pours her blood over them, and so resuscitates them from death; for the young ones, by their instinct, receive the blood as soon as it comes out of the mother, and drink it.”

The whole notion of the mother pelican sacrificing herself by giving blood is somewhat of a misunderstanding. The mother pelican has a habit when feeding her young of reaching into her pouch to extract food.

Until the 18th century, the Christ-pelican was almost always portrayed piercing itself on the right side of the breast. This dynamic provides a link between the Christian Church and Freemasonry as Freemasons began portraying the pelican piercing its left side as a symbol of self-sacrifice required of its members. Many artists and craftsmen were unaware of the significance of the right side of the breast and so began the act of using the pelican of Freemasons into Christian art and churches.

Another myth about the pelican is that it would consume the smallest amount of food necessary to maintain life – symbolizing those who fast or strive for spiritual perfection. We now know this to not be true.

Lastly, there is a bit of symbolism in the 7 hatchlings presented that the pelican is feeding on the jewel. The number seven is mentioned several times in the degree at various points and with various meanings.


Tucker, Suzetta. ChristStory – Pelican Self Sacrifice. http://users.netnitco.net/~legend01/pelican.htm 1998.

Thursday, January 21, 2010



Dist. Piers A. Vaughan 32°, MSA
AASR Valley of New York

The Mason who takes the 14° Degree of the Scottish Rite completes a circle. Actually, it is more like a spiral, because he ends up in the same place he started when he first knocked on the door of the Lodge seeking Light; but at a higher level. The symbol of this Degree, the ring, is therefore an appropriate emblem, for it is a circle of gold, a ring of eternity. In this paper I want to touch on a couple of the many symbols used in the 14° Degree, which also have parallels in the York Rite, particularly the Holy Royal Arch. These are the ring and the cubic stone or altar stone, upon which are discovered certain signs and symbols, representing the sigil and the Ineffable Name of God.

Masonry is a journey – every Degree we pass though involves a journey, a movement forward along the perfect path which leads us to grater knowledge and understanding. It is a Pilgrim’s Progress. As we progress we make our daily advancement in Masonic knowledge, and grow in our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to our fellow man. For in the greater scheme of things the first fourteen Degrees are about self-knowledge; which is a critical prerequisite to our understanding of God. To know God we must first know ourselves.
To understand this journey, we must first arm ourselves with some knowledge. This is the language of symbols, by which we can look beneath the surface which is presented to us, and perceive the hidden meaning beneath.

But first, let me introduce my little friend. Do you know who he is? His name is Thoth, and the Greeks knew him by the name Hermes Trismegistus, or Thrice Great Hermes. He was the Egyptian God of learning. Many books are attributed to him. One in particular, a picture books which claims to contain all human knowledge, we will look at later. I like to think of Thoth as the ‘little god’ of Masonry,. He is the archetype of learning and wisdom, those very attributes for which we strive.

Given that all of the symbolism is based upon the Old Testament, the first book I would recommend anyone seeking further light in Masonry to read is the Old Testament. This is not merely an exhortation to be godly. It is an important step to understanding the
Degrees themselves, since all of them are based on stories from the Holy Bible. When the Degrees were written everyone had a good working knowledge of the biblical stories, so the symbolism and meaning behind the ritual allegories would have been immediately grasped by the Brethren present. Sadly, this is not the case nowadays, and for many, the rituals recall no memories.

As well as the Sacred Writings themselves, the Hebrews had a number of commentaries intended to interpret those writings. One such system of philosophy – which focused upon a mystical interpretation particularly of the first five books called the Pentateuch – is called the Kabbalah. The Kabbalah treats of the creation of the Universe, and particularly of Man, in a series of stunning and evocative images. One of the most famous of these is the Tree of Life, a series of ten universal attributes (called Sephiroth) arranged in a particular manner, and which trace the act of creation from God to Man. For a Mason these ten Sephiroth may be arranged upon a diagram of a Temple, which is appropriate.

Note that the three top Sephiroth form a triangle, which we call God. God is perfect unity, but in Genesis we are told ‘male and female created He them’. Thus God created duality from his perfection. Light and Dark, Peace and War, Male and Female, Master and Servant, Richness and Poverty, White and Black, Good and Evil. Many religions depict God as a trinity: the Hindus, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Norse and Christians among others.

The Summit is supported by three columns, familiar to us Masons: Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. Wisdom is MERCY – remember the story of Solomon and the baby. Strength is SEVERITY – we need to keep our sword hand free while building the Temple with the trowel in our left hand! We should strive to balance these two extremes: for as one ritual puts it, “an excess of severity is but cruelty, while an excess of mercy is but weakness. Seek thou the Middle Way”. It is our Masonic goal to attain the Middle way, the Middle Pillar, the straight and narrow road, which leads straight to God.

When we first joined a Lodge we were prepared in darkness – in our case a ‘convenient room adjoining the Lodge’. In some forms of Masonry this is taken to an extreme, and the Candidate is placed in a “Chamber of Reflection”, a small claustrophobic cabinet painted in black with emblems of mortality contained therein, and the light of a single candle. This represents the womb, from which the Candidate will be born into Masonic Light. As a Candidate, symbolically naked and blind, with a cable tow (an umbilical cord which linked you to your former existence…) you then knocked on the door of the Lodge. You were admitted and placed between the two pillars of J and B, which are Mercy and Severity. Here, unconsciously and blindfolded, you stood at the very place it will take all your Masonic career to return to. For that first fleeting moment you are the Middle Pillar, the Pillar of Beauty. From now on all the learning, all the work on smoothing the rough ashlar to make of yourself the perfect cube, the smooth ashlar the holy altar worthy of God, t this time unveiled and without a blindfold: armed with the knowledge we have learned in our long journey to the 14° Degree. It is no coincidence that one of the titles of the 14° Degree is Perfect Elect Mason. Finally understanding self, having made of himself the perfect ashlar, man may once more stand between these two pillars, this time fully conscious and without veil or blindfold. He has made of himself the Middle Pillar, the Middle Way, the straight way to God. He has returned to his original station, but at an exalted, perfected level.

So we make our journey and at the end of our long journey we arrive at (complete) the perfect cube, which is now worthy to bear the imprint of God. This imprint is a curious device – a circle containing a triangle containing a dot. What does it mean?

Well, the dot is not a dot at all. It is a ‘Yod’. Yod is the ninth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. This alphabet was said to be the language of the Angels, and written in fire.

All the letters of this Fire Language, this Angelic language are created out of Yods. The last letter on the right, “Shin”, for example, is made of three elongated Yods upon a base.

The Yod looks like a flame. It also looks like a seed, or sperm. And indeed it is, for it gives rise to all the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This seed, or thought of God, gave birth to the entire universe, which is often depicted as a full circle, or a serpent biting its tail. The Yod begins the world through the Word of God, the Logos. And the universe shall end with fire. Thus, the Yod in the circle is the Alpha and the Omega of us all.

The Yod is emanated from God, who was represented by a triangle in many, many religions and philosophies. The triangle represented God in Egypt, the Sacred Delta of Pythagoras was the earthly representation of God to the Greeks. Many religions see God as having three natures, Omni[potent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, or again as three being in one: the Ineffable and the male and female, or Strong and Wise attributes. The triangle is in eternal contention, it is a dynamic diagram, two contending sides constantly united by the third.

Yod is also the first letter of the name of God, in Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh, known to us as Jehovah, or Jahweh. So the ring is an appropriate reflection of the ineffable name of God. The ring itself is the circle, and the triangle of God contains both the initial of His name and the seed of Creation and all Potentiality.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that God has a sigil! For that is what it is. Magical traditions tells us that all angels (or demons) may be summoned if one has three things: their true name, their seal or sigil, and a triangle of manifestation, for the triangle represents another plane of existence into which they can manifest. God gave Moses his true name, and there is a theory that Moses only received the laws later – that the stones upon which God wrote with His finger on both sides was in fact his seal. Finally, here we have the triangle into which God could manifest, when summoned by the High Priest once a year.

As an aside, let us return to Thoth. The picture book attributed to him is? The Tarot, or Book ‘T’ as the Rosicrucians named it. Now, Yod is the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and to some people corresponds with the ninth card of the picture cards in the Tarot deck. This is the Hermit.*

The Hermit is an appropriate emblem for Yod. He is the seeker after wisdom (as we all are). He holds the lamp of truth (remember that the name of the ring is Zerubbabel, of Truth). I chose this particular version of the card as it shows much of what we have been looking at. Note the age of the man, an Ancient, in fact. He carries the lamp aloft, and the light of Truth is…a Yod! He stands within a circle formed of the Ourobouros, or serpent biting its tail. He is within infinity, within the universe, and he bears the lamp of wisdom to guide other seekers. Beyond is darkness. We must return to the crypt – as we shall see shortly.

Finally, the Cubic Stone upon which the Ineffable name and sigil of God rests. It has served its purpose. The Mason has indeed turned the rough ashlar into the cubic stone. We now know that the cubic stone carries the name of God. In a way, the 1st to the 14th Degrees in Scottish Rite masonry represent sub-degrees of one greater Degree, and now the Perfect Mason is elected to rise up to the next level. Now balanced between the Pillars, himself the Middle Pillar, he leaves the Temple realm and comes full circle. The seed returns to the womb. The Man enters the crypt. In his next incarnation he will have no further use for a physical Temple, for he has learned that it is within him.

Now at the next level the cubic stone, which only permitted man to view its exterior in prior degrees, will open to reveal its inner nature.

Let us open the cube, and catch a glimpse of what lies within. This symbolism we find in the 18th Degree, the pivotal Degree of the Scottish Rite System. The symbolism of that Degree is, of course, a whole other paper!

So wear your 14° ring with pride, for its simple device contains all the secrets of the Universe!

*Reproduced with kind permission from the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Llewellyn Pub., ISBN 0-87542-138-5.

A talk delivered to the Valley of New York
Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction


Dist. Piers A. Vaughan, 32°, MSA
February, 2003

Giles Fonda Yates: The Forgotten Masonic Scholar

Giles Fonda Yates the Forgotten Masonic Scholar

M.I. Francis I. Karwowski
Past Grand Illustrious Master, Cryptic Council

“I would fain have you believe, my dear Brethren that, as a member of the Masonic Institution, if I have had any ambition, it has been to study its science, and to discharge my duties as a faithful Mason, rather than to obtain honors or personal benefits of any kind. Self-aggrandizement has never formed any part of my Masonic creed, and all who know me can bear witness that it never has of my practice.” - Giles Fonda Yates

If the names of Thomas Smith Webb, Jeremy Cross, Albert Pike, Albert Mackey, Robert Macoy, Henry Coil, William Hutchinson and other preeminent authors’ names are mentioned, they reflect a universal recognition. When the name of Giles Fonda Yates is cited, there is a puzzling air of mystery associated with the name.

For those who are unsure of this forgotten Masonic Scholar, this essay will attest to the fact that he was indeed an important Masonic Scholar equal to, if not exceeding, the rest of the field.

The Minutes of Ineffable Lodge end with the meeting of December 5, 1774, when the "Lodge closed till this Night fortnight"; but the Lodge met for some years thereafter. For some unknown reason the Lodge suspended labor and was revived in 1820 or 1821 by Brother Giles Fonda Yates. The Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem was also revived and continued active for several years. It exercised the power of issuing Charters. Although it is evident that several of the Albany Brethren received the higher degrees of the Rite, there was no Consistory established until 1824, and what follows is an attempt to gather together material concerning the early history of Albany Sovereign Consistory, Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret. The early history of Albany Sovereign Consistory is intimately connected with that of Brother Giles Fonda Yates.

Giles Fonda Yates, the son of John and Margaret (Fonda) Yates was born in Schenectady on November 8, 1798. He was graduated from Union College in the Class of 1816, with Phi Beta Kappa rank, and later received the degree of Master of Arts. He then entered into the profession of Counsellor-at-Law. He held the office of Surrogate of Schenectady County from 1821-1840. For many years he was the Editor of the Schenectady Democrat and Reflector. He wrote, investigated and preserved many valuable articles on the early history of the city and county which became the foundation for their published history.

It was also during this time that he was responsible for obtaining pensions for county men, who served in the Revolutionary War, representing them and writing to the necessary military entities, thereby establishing the records necessary for the application of pensions. He was very successful in this endeavor.

He was an artist, painting the Old Dutch Church as well as other scenes. He designed Masonic aprons. He was an archaeologist, philosopher and adept in the occult sciences. He indicated the Masonic calendar, as we know it, establishing the dates from the Jewish calendar. He was a prolific author and poet, submitting many articles for publication to Brother Cornelius Moore for the Masonic Review. He had no equal in the science of Masonic archaeology.

When he could no longer sustain himself with legal work in Schenectady, for he never married; he served the Naval Department, eventually leaving the area for New York City, where he died on December 13, 1859. When it was communicated to Doctor Mackey, he wrote;

“The task of writing a sketch of the life of Giles Fonda Yates is accompanied with a feeling of melancholy because it brings to my mind the recollections of years, now passed forever, in which I enjoyed an intimate friendship of that amiable man and zealous Freemason and scholar. His gentle mien won the love, his virtuous life the esteem, and his profound but unobtrusive scholarship the respect of all who knew him.”

Cornelius Moore wrote in the Masonic Review of January 1860, “Giles F. Yates was so modest and quiet a citizen, that out of the circle of Masonic students, but few knew. Most of his life, he was an unambitious member of the bar at Schenectady, faithfully discharging every duty, but valuing more highly some services rendered to Freemasonry, some discovery made in her archives, than all the honors of a successful career in law or politics. At the time of his death, he filled a subordinate office in the Custom House at New York City. There he won no wide spread notoriety. No flags hung at half mast the day he died, no crowd followed his remains to the tomb, no minute guns were fired over his grave; only a few loving hearts bled tears of sacred sorrow when his soul fled from its earthly tenement; but among the ranks of those who receive such honors, few have really deserved the respect and love of their fellow men as fully as Giles F. Yates. He gave his life to Masonry; his mind lived as it were in a continued open lodge; his time, thoughts and talents were freely expended in her service. Yet he asked from her no honors. When the advanced years of Grand Commander G.G.G. Gourgas, in 1851, led to his resignation, the mantle fell upon Yates. He had long filled the second post of duty and dignity in the Northern Jurisdiction of Scotch Masonry. But he became Grand Commander only to resign. It was honor enough for him to love and enjoy Masonry; he asked no other. It was honor enough for him to have revived nearly thirty years before, at Albany, the old Lodge of Perfection which Francken founded there in 1767. It was honor enough for him to have contributed largely to the spread of Masonic literature, and the cultivation of Masonic Jurisprudence."

“ My brethren, happy to have even the poor consolation of paying a just tribute to the memory of men so good and worthy, let us not merely put our altars in mourning. Let us embalm their memories in the sorrow of our hearts, and pay them a juster tribute by emulating their example."

“Blessed be their rest, and long may the acacia bloom upon the sacred earth that covers their remains.”

The Ashlar by Allyn Weston & E.W. Jones published in 1860 has this account attributed from the Mirror and Keystone. “This distinguished Mason has gone to his last home. On Thursday, December 15th, there gathered around his coffin, friends who had known and loved him in life, to pay the last tribute of respect which man can pay his fellow. He lived long and well, and died as a Mason should die, in humble trust in the great Master, and in hope of a blissful immortality. There are many, who walked with him, the Mosaic pavement, to regret his loss; none to cast a stigma on his memory. He was emphatically the man to be respected and loved. His kind and gentle temper, his courteous and affable deportment, won the hearts of all who associated with him. The unkind word or harsh rebuke never came from his lips. Conscious himself of the weakness of human nature, as every true man is, he could find something to praise where others were lavish to censure. ‘I am not fit, myself, to judge another,’ were the ready words, when objurgation and reproach came from other lips. The teachings at the altar, to cast the mantle of charity over the erring, had made a deep and abiding impression upon him."

As a Masonic writer, Brother Yates held a high rank. His style was terse and concise, rather calculated to induce in the reader reflection, and elicit mind, than to produce superficial admiration. The short poems which he has left, are remarkably characteristic, in this respect. They are deficient in musical rhythm, but filled with sparkling gems of thought – all his productions show the pen of the scholar, who had drank from the wells of English undefiled. The subjects on which, in later years, especially, he delighted to write, were abstruse, and therefore, not adapted to the capacity of the many. In early years, we believe, he had been a contributor to the light literature of the day, and doubtless excelled, for he possessed a vivid imagination and refined taste.

The Masonic fame of Brother Yates rested principally on his antiquarian knowledge. In this field he had no rival. It was the passion of his later life to dig deep down, and bring up rich ore, which he moulded into massive forms. To Ineffable Masonry, as illustrating the history and philosophy of the Order, developing its symbolism, and thus strengthening its columns, he devoted years of study and research. To his indefatigable industry and patient care, Ineffable Masons, in this section of the country, are indebted for the prominent position they now occupy. He contended for years against what appeared insuperable difficulties, until success crowned his efforts, and the old man’s eyes were blessed with the sight of what his imagination had often pictured, a fitting home for his cherished branch of the Order. He had stood almost alone, quite alone in earnest feeling; he had been called the wild enthusiast; he had been regarded by some (how little they knew the man,) as a disturber of the harmony of Masonry, yet he turned neither to the right or the left, but kept steadily in his path, until wearied, but not disheartened, he reached his goal. He was no disorganizer. The very character of the man forbade it. His love for Masonry, in its antiquity and purity, forbade it. His brilliant intellect comprehended, in all its fullness, and his warm heart felt in all its fervor, the spirit of Masonry. He stood upon the topmost pinnacle of the Temple, and his vision rested on battlement, column, and pavement. He was indeed, a ‘Master of Israel,’ and to the law, not in part, but in whole, did he render obedience.

Had he lived a little longer, he would have left to Ineffable Masonry a rich legacy. He had been gleaning for many years material for a Manual. It would have comprised all that an Ineffable Mason can want; history, philosophy and work. He had prepared to put the matter in shape, when the summons came. He had long before received the ‘token’ that the golden bowl would soon be broken, and that he must be prepared for the coming of the ‘messenger,’ for trouble had pressed heavily upon him, and sickness had weakened his frame; still he hoped and prayed that his life might linger on, until life’s work was completed.

He worked while the day lasted, but the Master saw fit to hasten the shadows of the night, and we fear the designs upon the trestle board will never be completed. None who sat at his feet can wield his pencil.

Brother Yates, in civil life, had held high positions. He was for many years Surrogate of his county (Schenectady), and as Editor of a leading paper, exerted great influence in his district. But he desired to be known as a Mason. "e cared but little for worldly honors. He disliked the glitter of show, and the pomp of fashion. His aim was, what should be the aim of every true man and Mason, a life of truth and virtue. He was not righteous in his own eyes, but God-fearing and God-serving, he passed from time to eternity.”

Giles Fonda Yates was initiated into Morton Lodge #87 in Schenectady on October 23, 1820, receiving the Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees on October 27, 1820. This was the second Masonic Lodge to be formed in Schenectady. He affiliated with St. George’s Lodge #6 on December 27, 1824. This was the height of the Morgan Era and it was through his efforts that Freemasonry in Schenectady was able to weather the storm. He was Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 1826 & 1827 and again in 1844 & 1845. For 16 years, nine Brothers kept the flame of the Craft alive. He was also a Royal Arch Mason and Knight Templar. He was partly responsible for the repairing the great schism of the Grand Lodge of New York.

It is not known when he received the Scottish Rite Degrees, but it must have been during 1820 or 1821, for in the Minutes of Ineffable Lodge of Perfection of January 31, 1822, he is recorded as Senior Grand Warden, and on November 11, 1823, he was elected Sublime Grand Master.

But one of the most important events that he was responsible for was the establishment of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the Northern Jurisdiction.

The Supreme Council at Charleston chartered the Consistory at Albany on November 16, 1824, with the title of "The Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret for the State of New York," and Illustrious Giles Fonda Yates was named as the first Sovereign of Sovereigns. It was instituted either later in the fall of 1824 or in 1825 by Illustrious John Barker, General Agent of the Charleston Supreme Council. The Southern Supreme Council then transferred the Consistory to the jurisdiction of the Northern Supreme Council at New York City on March 22, 1827.

You might ask why we bother to delve into the life of Giles Fonda Yates given his importance in the Scottish Rite. We must remember that the Sublime Degrees of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite also included the degrees of Royal Master and Select Master. And according to Companion Mackey were originally “they of right belong to the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree, Ancient Accepted Scotch Rite, and the claim to them has never been abandoned by that body. The degrees continue to be conferred by Inspectors, and, in fact can only be legally obtained in our jurisdiction from such authority” This is the link that connects the Cryptic Rite and the Scottish Rite.

The degrees were probably conferred in the Councils of Princes of Jerusalem and were eventually conferred in organized Councils of Royal and Select Masters in several southern states. Once established between 1820 and 1827, it follows that dispensations were granted by the “Grand Council of the 33rd” to jurisdictions to confer these degrees. It also was stated by Companion Mackey “ that for the good of Masonry, they would willingly enter into any compromise”. This compromise led to the establishment of Councils and eventually Grand Councils in many states.

The Royal Masters degree was known and conferred in New York as early as 1807. A Council of Royal Masters was opened but it did not include the Select degree any earlier than 1822 except in the Grand Council of the 33rd. That body claimed to be a Grand Council formed by the Supreme Grand Council of the 33rd Degree of Most Puissant Grand Masters.

The legitimate heir is Columbian Council #1 of Royal Masters in the city of New York with a Charter date of February 1, 1823. The first mention of the Select degree appears in the minutes of Columbian Council #1 when nine Companions, indicating they were, were desirous of disseminating light and knowledge to the uninformed, and on January 3, 1823, asked for a Charter to establish a Council of Royal and Select Masters in the city of Hudson. That Charter was granted. Another request was made by twelve Companions of Ames Royal Arch Chapter #88 in Lockport for a Council to be established there as well. At an extra communication, October 21, 1824, the Most Excellent High Priest was requested to issue the Charter under his private seal. A Warrant to confer the degrees of Royal, Select and Super Excellent Masters was issued on October 21, 1824, recommended to the favorable consideration of the Grand Council of the State of New York. Another Council, Lafayette, was instituted on September 28, 1825 and the officers were installed on January 25, 1826 by warrant from the Grand Council.

Giles Fonda Yates would write about the legitimacy of the Grand Council that he could find no reference of the request to establish the Grand Council of New York when he was the second officer in the Supreme Council of the 33rd, Northern Jurisdiction. Nevertheless, this did not prevent our Grand Council from establishing itself in 1823 and continuing to be the legitimate source of Cryptic Masonry in the state.

While the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was established in 1813, it was not until 1828 that the two Councils agreed upon a jurisdictional division of territory. On July 5, 1828, Illustrious Brother Yates was "acknowledged and admitted" a member of the Northern Supreme Council and Representative near it of the Southern Supreme Council, his appointment as such Representative having been made May 11, 1826. On June 15, 1844, he was appointed "Most Illustrious Inspector Lieutenant Grand Commander ad vitam" of the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, and in 1851 succeeded Illustrious Brother John James Joseph Gourgas, 33rd, in the office of Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander. At a meeting of the Supreme Council on September 5, 1851, he delivered a most important address, in the course of which he said:

I turned my attention to the history of the 'Sublime Degrees' very soon after my initiation as a Mason. My intercourse in 1822 with several old Masons in the city of Albany led to the discovery that an 'Ineffable Lodge of Perfection' had been established in that ancient city on the twentieth December, 1767. I also discovered that not only the Ineffable, but the Superior Degrees of our Rite had been conferred at the same time on a chosen few, by the founder of the lodge, Henry A. Francken, one of the Deputies of Stephen Morin of illustrious memory. It was not long, moreover, before I found the original warrant of this lodge, its book of minutes, the patents of IIIustrious Brothers Samuel Stringer, M. D., Jeremiah Van Rensselaer and Peter W. Yates, Esquires, Deputy Inspectors General, under the old system; also the 'regulations and Constitutions of the nine commissioners,' etc., 1761, and other documents that had been left by Brother Francken with the Albany Brethren when he founded that lodge. With the concurrence of the surviving members of said lodge residing in Albany, Dr. Jonathan Eights and the Honorable and Most Worshipful Stephen Van Rensselaer, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, I aided in effecting its revival."

The necessary proceedings were thereupon instituted to place the same under the Superintendence of a Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem, as required by the old Constitutions; and such Grand Council was subsequently opened in due form in said city.

"Having been made aware of 'the new Constitution of the thirty- third Degree,' ratified on the first of May, 1786, conferring the Supreme Power over our Rite on 'Councils of nine Brethren,' I hastened to place myself in correspondence with Moses Holbrook, M. D., at the time Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council at Charleston, and with my esteemed friends Joseph McCosh IIIustrious Grand Secretary of the last named Council, and Brother Gourgas, at that time IIIustrious Grand General of the H. E. for this Northern Jurisdiction. Lodges of Perfection in the Counties of Montgomery, Onondaga, Saratoga and Monroe in the State of New York, were successively organized, and placed agreeably to the Constitutions under the superintendence of the Grand Council before named, The establishment of this last named Body was confirmed, and all our proceedings in 'sublime Freemasonry' were legalized and Sanctioned by the only lawful authorities in the United States, the aforesaid Supreme Councils."

"On the sixteenth day of November, 1824, I received a patent appointing me Sovereign of Sovereigns of a Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret established in the city of Albany. I would here also state, that on the thirteenth day of February 1825, a charter was granted to Illustrious Brother Edward A Raymond, of Boston, Mass., and eight associates, constituting them a Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem; a charter was also granted them for a Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret both Bodies to be holden in the city of Boston. All these several Bodies named, as well as the Albany Grand Council and Consistory, have since their establishment, paid due faith and allegiance to our Northern Supreme Council."

At the close of his address - having appointed Illustrious Edward A. Raymond Lieutenant Grand Commander – Illustrious Brother Yates resigned the office of Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander and installed Illustrious Brother Raymond as his successor. The latter, appreciating Illustrious Brother Yates' great services to the Supreme Council and desiring to retain him in active office, appointed him Illustrious Grand Chancellor, H. E., which office he retained until his death - at the same time serving as Deputy for New York.

The latter years of Illustrious Brother Yates' life were spent in New York City, where he took an active interest in the local bodies of the Rite. Between April 1856, and May 1857, Cosmopolitan Consistory was organized in that city and he was appointed the first "Sovereign of Sovereigns."

While the Northern Supreme Council was established in New York in 1813, the Charleston Supreme Council apparently continued for some time to grant charters in the Northern territory. It was the practice of this Supreme Council never to establish more than one Consistory, in a state. The Supreme Council only chartered Councils, and Consistories, the Councils chartered Lodges of Perfection and the Consistories regulated the degrees from the 17th on. This will account for the absence of any early records or mention of Albany Sovereign Chapter of Rose Croix, which was, apparently, incidental to the Consistory, although established at the same time.

When Illustrious Brother Yates commenced his correspondence with Illustrious Brother Holbrook he was unaware of the existence of the Supreme Council in New York City.

Illustrious Brother Holbrook had appointed Illustrious Brother John Barker as agent to effect the establishment of Consistories and Councils, and it was he who instituted the Consistory at Albany in the fall of 1824 or early in 1825. In 1826, the New York Supreme Council commenced correspondence with the Charleston Supreme Council relative to the bodies established by it in the Northern States - especially the Consistory at Albany - and the Charleston Supreme Council on September 22, 1826,

"RESOLVED: That the different subordinate bodies now under this jurisdiction in the Northern States be directed to furnish and make out full returns of the names of all of their initiates into any or all the Sublime Degrees specifying which degree and their place of residence and avocations together with the date and place of birth and religious persuasions that it may preparatory to transferring the Jurisdiction over them to the legal Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree in the Northern States."

"The Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret for the State of New York will be pleased to take due notice of the above order and govern themselves accordingly."

In response to this resolution Illustrious Brother Yates prepared a return from which is taken that portion relating especially to the Consistory:

"To the Three Illustrious Supreme Council of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd Degree in the U. S. A. situated under the C. C. of the Zenith. The Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret for the State of New York, established in the Grand East of the City of Albany, in said State, would most respectfully beg to leave to represent:

That they have hitherto deemed it inexpedient to exalt and perfect any Princes of Jerusalem (in any of the Sublime degrees conferred by them), except those associated with the original founders of their body in the organization of the same, who were not present to receive said degrees from Illustrious Brother John Barker, general Agent of your Supreme Council."

The above Brethren received the degrees of Superintendent from that of Rose Croix to that of Sublime Prince of Royal Secret from the hands of Illustrious Brother John Barker, General Agent of the Supreme Council Of Scottish Inspector General 33rd Degree of the Southern Tiers of U. S. in 1825 and admitted members of Grand Consistory of Supreme Council P. R. T. for State of New York at the City of Albany.

"Brother Beck has moved to Vermont, and will not be able to assist us. Brother Van Dusen whose name was given in our Warrant, is at present under censure, perhaps unjustly . . ."

The return continues with lists of members of the Council of Princes of Jerusalem and of Ineffable Lodge of Perfection. On March 22,1827, the Charleston Supreme Council transferred the Consistory to the jurisdiction of the Northern Supreme Council, as is shown by the following letter:

"Supreme Council Chamber, Charleston, S. C., 17th May, 1827 Most Illustrious Brothers of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret;

Agreeably to a resolution passed by this Supreme Council at its sitting of the "Vernal Equinox," 23rd of the 12th month, called Adar, of the Hebrew year 5587, answering to Thursday, 22nd March, A. M. 5831, A. D. 1827, I am directed to write and inform you that, in conformity with a mutual arrangement, which is legal and will be conducive to the good to the Craft, your Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret at Albany will henceforth pay all due faith and allegiance to the Grand Supreme Council of Supreme Grand Inspector General of the 33rd Degree for the Northern District and Jurisdiction of the U. S. A., rendering them all due obedience which of right heretofore could be claimed or exercised with justice; hereby renouncing on our part all our rights and privileges of control or direction. In thus separating, as parent and child, this Supreme Council wishes you prosperity both individually and as a Body, and can assure your respectable Body that it will always give great Satisfaction to hear of your success."

"I have the honor to remain, with the best wishes, Most Illustrious Brothers, for your welfare both temporal and eternal, Deus Meumque Jus, "MOSES HOLBROOK, M. D., "R+, K - H. S. P. R. S., S. G. I. G of the 33d Degree, "(L S. 33d) and Grand Commander in the Southern Jurisdiction of the U. S. A."

"P. S. Your orders and directions will be received from the Illustrious Brother J. J. J. Gourgas, Esquire Secretary General of H. E., to whom you will as soon as may be, report yourselves."

The correspondence indicates that several of the Brethren were reluctant to sign a "Submission" to the Northern Supreme Council and that some of them resigned. By this time the Anti-Masonic excitement was gaining strength and it was difficult - if not impossible - to hold meetings. In 1828, Brother N. N. Whiting, one of the charter members of the Consistory, a brother-in-law Giles Fonda Yates, applied for a dimit on the ground that "he must give up Masonry or lose his place as a Baptist clergyman, on which, and which alone, he depends for his daily bread. In a letter to him, dated April 4, 1828, Illustrious Brother Yates gives the following interesting information:

"You know that the charter for the Consistory to be located at Albany was granted by said Supreme Council (at Charleston, S. C.), to five or six persons, including yourself, and that circumstances have prevented us from doing anything as a body since the receipt of the charter in the fall of 1824. You know too that, afterwards on account of our location, it was deemed proper by said Supreme Council to transfer their jurisdiction over our Consistory to the Supreme Council at New York. To effectuate this object and also that the interests of the Southern Supreme Council and of our Consistory might be promoted, they thought it expedient to appoint a representative in the Northern Supreme Council, and as I was the presiding officer of the Consistory this appointment fell upon me. I could not, however, act as such representative without first receiving the degree of Grand Inspector of the 33rd, &c., which I accordingly I received shortly after.... On the 6th September 1826, ' the Supreme Council at New York wrote to the Supreme Council at Charleston as follows: 'Your request to have us recognize Illustrious Brother Giles F. Yates, of Schenectady, as your representative near our Supreme Council is accepted with satisfaction.”

From the facts thus far obtained we may gather that the Consistory at Albany, N. Y., was chartered by the Supreme Council at Charleston, S. C., on November 16, 1824, with the title of "The Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret for the State of New York," and Illustrious Giles Fonda Yates was named as the first Sovereign of Sovereigns. It was instituted either later in the fall of 1824 or in 1825 by Illustrious John Barker, General Agent of the Charleston Supreme Council. The Southern Supreme Council transferred the Consistory to the jurisdiction of the Northern Supreme Council at New York City on March 22, 1827. The Consistory had jurisdiction over the degrees from that of Prince of Jerusalem consequently there were no separate organization of a Chapter of Rose Croix. Little, if any, work was done for many years for, on April 4, 1828, Illustrious Brother Yates wrote: "We can hardly be said to be as yet completely organized," so that the organization would seem to have been in posse rather than in esse, potential more than actual.

After working tirelessly for many years in the vineyards of Freemasonry, Giles Fonda Yates would rest from his earthly toils and pass into the Celestial Lodge above on December 13, 1859. Even in death he was not respected as a leading authority of the Craft. The manuscript that he was working on, according to the family, was stolen from his residence. He was buried in the Old Dutch Church Yard in Schenectady, New York and when that property was sold, exhumed and reburied in Vale Cemetery. It is noted that he rests in the Union College plot in Vale Cemetery. Upon searching that plot and reviewing the cemetery records I could not find his final resting place. He is as elusive now as he was in life, but not forgotten. Given the fact that I cannot locate his grave will not deter my quest to find him and elevate him to the prominent position in our Fraternity that he so rightly deserves.

“Behold, how pleasant and how good for brothers such as we
In this united Brotherhood to dwell in unity.
'Tis like the oil on Aaron's head which to his feet distills;
Like Herman's dew so richly shed on Zion's sacred hills.
For there the Lord of light and love a blessing sent with power:
O may we all this blessing prove, even life for evermore.
On friendship's altar, rising here, our hands now plighted be,
To live in love, with hearts sincere, in peace and unity”.

Giles Fonda Yates

Francis I. Karwowski

Monday, September 21, 2009


The Delta of Enoch & Its Place in the Scottish Rite
Sublime Prince Conor Moran, 32°

Having recently performed in the Scottish Rite reunion of the 14th degree, I began to do a little more investigating into an interesting topic that is only briefly mentioned in the degree work. As I was explaining the symbolism of the apron, I mentioned the Golden Triangle or ‘Delta of Enoch.’ It is simply left at that – an explanation of the apron and nothing more concerning the history or symbolism intertwined behind. Further investigation is left in the hands of the initiate; a story which reveals much further symbolism in the 14th degree.

The use of the ‘delta’ in and of itself is very prevalent in the Scottish Rite. The ineffable delta is used on the VSL and in other degrees. What’s unique, however, about the Delta of Enoch is its ties to the very heart of the 14th degree.

In fact, we have to look to the previous degree in the Lodge of Perfection to gain a fundamental background on Enoch. The 13th degree, the Royal Arch of Enoch or the Master of the Ninth Arch, is closely related to the 14th degree of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

How the story of Enoch has filtered down into the 14th degree, as we now know it, is really quite amazing. The connections between the 5,000 year old story and the underlying themes of the degree are highly correlated.

To begin, who is Enoch? Enoch was a prophet. Enoch was the son of Jared, who in turn had descended from Adam. Enoch was filled with a love of God and he strove to lead men in the way of honor and duty. In a vision the deity appeared to him in the shape of a bright, golden triangle, which said to him, “Enoch, thou hast longed to know my true name. Arise and follow me, and thou shalt know it.” The golden triangle had bright rays of the sun coming from it and was thenceforth known as the Delta of Enoch.

The dream had inspired Enoch to take up a mission and so he journeyed in search of the mountain he had seen in his vision. He grew weary and stopped in the land of Canaan, which was already populous with the descendents of Adam. At this point he employed workmen and with the help of his son, Methuselah, he excavated 9 apartments. Each one of these was one below the other, roofed with an arch. Hence the name of the degree, Master of the Ninth Arch. In the crown of each arch, he left a narrow aperture, closed with a square stone. At the top of the 9th apartment, he built a modest temple. The temple had no roof and contained huge, unhewn (def. unfinished, not brought to a final state) stones.

Modeled upon the vision that he had, Enoch created a triangle made out of pure gold, inlaid with many precious gems, in which he inscribed the ineffable name of God. He then sank the plate into the face of a cube of agate. Agate is a microcrystalline variety of quartz (silica), chiefly chalcedony, characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color.

No one in the region knew of Enoch’s actions and to help preserve this treasure, he covered the aperture and the stone that enclosed it and the great ring of iron used to enclose the stone, with the granite pavement of his temple.

Enoch knew of the impending Great Flood, which would soon overwhelm the world. Enoch was afraid that all of the great arts & sciences would be lost forever; he built two great columns high on a hill. One was made out of granite, which would resist fire, and the other was made out of brass, which would resist water damage. On the granite column was written in hieroglyphics the description of the apartments. On the brass, the rudiments of the arts and sciences.

The granite column was washed away in the Great Flood, but the brass column stayed firm and was found by Noah. As the directions about the apartments were lost, the true name of God remained unknown until it was given to Moses in Egypt, when instructed to lead the Israelites out of Pharaoh’s Egypt.

Moses later also engraved the name of God upon a plate of Gold, which he deposited in the Ark of the Covenant. Moses relayed the real name to Aaron and Joshua, which in turn was relayed to the chief priests. The name was made up of consonants, which could not be pronounced.

Later, David wanted to build a temple to God, but left the actual construction to his son Solomon. Originally, Solomon chose the site of Enoch’s temple near Jerusalem. He found Enoch’s overthrown columns and decided that the site was formerly that of a ‘heathen’ temple and did not want to construct a new temple on a desecrated site. So he ultimately chose Mount Moriah for the site of his new temple and under this temple he built a secret vault, the approach to which was through eight other vaults.

The number nine throughout the bible and in many organized religions signifies a completeness or finality. It is the last of digits and thus marks the end.

In this ninth apartment or vault, a column of twisted, white marble was placed. On this column, the Ark was supposed to have been placed. In this apartment, which had a secret passageway leading from the King’s chambers, the King consulted with King Hiram of Tyre and Hiram Abif, they being the only others to know the directions to the apartment.

Ultimately, Solomon decide to erect a Temple of Justice and chose Enoch’s original site. He had the columns removed and the temple constructed.

According to several publications, in academic biblical circles, there exists an entire tradition based on Enoch that lasted until the time of Christ. Some scholars believe that the Qumran community (who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls) was composed of two priestly schools, the Enochician and the Zadokite. According to the Book of Hiram, the Enochian school was based on astrology and astronomy, with particular reference to the Sun.

So what could have happened if Solomon found the golden triangle or Delta of Enoch in Enoch’s former subterranean vault? The latitude of the Jerusalem Temple is very interesting. If one places a sighting rod or deacon’s wand in the ground and mark the shadow of the first golden rays of the rising sun on the summer solstice (St. John the Baptist) and do the same on the winter solstice (St. John the Evangelist Day) it forms a perfect equilateral triangle.

Interestingly, the 14th Degree of the Scottish Rite, or the Grand Elect Mason, takes us to this subterranean vault of Solomon. The degree deals with several underlying themes: obedience to God, the true name of God, and the above mentioned vault that was constructed by Solomon.

An early tradition of the Ineffable Degrees provides for a “Sacred Word” in each degree from the Fourth to the Fourteenth inclusive. Each Sacred Word, a substitute name for God revealing one of his attributes, was intended to prepare the neophyte for the true Name of God symbolized in the 13° and revealed in the 14° as the Grand Ineffable Word of a Grand Elect Mason.

The room decorations should contain the Pillar of Enoch, with Enochian characters on it. Also, the room should have a Pillar of Beauty, as mentioned at the end of the 13th degree on which should be place the Ark. Finally, the room should have a burning bush. The symbolism behind both the Delta of Enoch and the Burning Bush are very similar. Both are representative of the physical manifestation of God as they appeared to both Enoch and Moses. You may have noticed, as well, that the senior officers bowed down in a way that might not be readily apparent. The bow being performed was one representative of the burning bush – our right hands blocking the powerful rays of light and shielding our faces. Both the delta and the burning bush appear as bursts of light bearing the ineffable name.

Taking this degree’s origins and the creation of the Delta of Enoch one step further, I quote liberally from Christopher Knight’s Solomon’s Power Brokers. “There is a Masonic degree called the Royal Arch of Enoch which dates back to 1740 and there is also a very ancient document called the Book of Enoch. This document was known to have been very popular among early Christians (It is quoted in the letter of Jude, in the New Testament), however, it fell from favor by AD 500 and most copies were destroyed. The work was lost from Western Christendom for over 1,000 years. However, it remained popular in isolated Ethiopia, where it remains part of the Ethiopian Bible to this day. It was to 18th century Ethiopia that a Scots Freemason, James Bruce, went in search of the long lost book. He discovered it in 1774 – nearly three decades after the Masonic ritual of the same name had come into existence.”

Wikipedia. http://www.wikipedia.com/

Knight, Christopher and Alan Butler Solomon’s Power Brokers: The Secrets of Freemasonry, the Church, and the Illuminati. 2007. Page 19.

13th Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. The Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Jurisdiction.

14th Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. The Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Jurisdiction.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Relationship Between Revolutionary Freemasonry & South Africa

The Relationship Between Revolutionary Freemasonry and South Africa

Parts IV through VIII

Written By

SP Isaiah Kirk, 32°
AASR Valley of Albany, New York

IV) Observations on Masonic Elements in the French and American Revolutions

Although brief, our quick overview indicates four primary factors regarding Freemasonry and the French and American Revolutions. The first, obvious factor is that many of the leading revolutionary figures were members of the Craft, and were influenced by Masonic Teachings. Even if we take a conservative approach, the mere fact that several primary leaders in both revolutions were Freemasons warrants us assuming direct channels of ideological influence. This should be countered balanced with an acknowledgement of the fact that in America “The Revolution created a multifaceted crisis within the American fraternity. It disrupted meetings and split lodges as brothers took differing positions. The break from Britain also raised questions about the ultimate legitimacy of the fraternity…”[1] Simply put there were many Masonic Loyalists especially among the Moderns[2], and the division of national loyalties split many lodges asunder.

The second factor that can be derived is that the nature of both the French and American Revolutions were such that they coincided with a shifting of societal structuring towards more republican equality. The Fraternity of Freemasonry embodied theses shifting societal demands, for through its measure of equality among the Brethren, the Lodge stood out as a republican institution with direct ties to the greater movements in the Enlightenment. Through increasing its membership, especially during the early years of the American Republic, the Fraternity increased an appreciation of more egalitarian societal structuring.

The third aspect is that Freemasonry became increasingly powerful because it offered a beacon of stability and order in an otherwise turbulent period of vast societal change. The Fraternity’s alleged ties to all of the Perennial Philosophy of illumination, acted as a cornerstone of immutable existence for the revolutionary movements looking to construct new human edifices. This was counterbalanced by the Fraternity’s inherent conservative nature that allowed it to embrace change but in a hybridized metamorphic manner. It was also marked by a division between Brothers of both a revolutionary and reactionary mindset, who adopted both revolutionary and royalist positions during the wars.

The final factor is the use of Masonic symbolism by the revolutionaries in both America and France. Although this is most prominent in the case of the United States, both revolutions drew from Masonic sources while constructing the icons of newly established nations. With the falling of traditional royal symbols of hieratical power, the new republican nations turned to the Fraternity for new more modern symbols through which they could frame their understanding of the events unfolding; thus the Scepter and Crown was replaced by the Square, Level and Plum-line.

V) A Concise Overview of South African History

Before discussing Freemasonry in South Africa it is important to cover the timeline of South African national development. Unlike the History of the French and American Revolutions, that of South Africa is not as prominent in the general public’s historical knowledge. For all intensive purposes this concise overview of South African history shall cover the period between the First Boer War (1880–1881), also known as the "Transvaal War, and the installation of Nelson Mandela as the President of South Africa in 1994. We will briefly introduce the historical setting first.

South Africa’s first established settlement was that of the Dutch East India Company in Cape Town in 1652. Other groups consisting of Germans and French Huguenots joined the Cape Colony shortly after the Dutch settlers. The English entered the scene in 1795, “motivated by their determination to cut Napoleon off from his Dutch overseas empire…”[3] The English outlawed the Slave Trade in 1807, and 20-30 years later the Dutch descendants (referred to by the Dutch word for farmer, the Boers) partook on the ‘Great Trek’. The ‘Great Trek’ consisted of the Boers moving out of English controlled areas of South Africa, so they could more directly control their affairs and keep the practice of slavery. During this time the native population of South Africa was never considered autonomous or even capable of autonomy.

The Boers (also called the voortrekkers) and the British eventually had two wars over control of South Africa. These wars were partially motivated by the recent discovery of diamonds and gold in the country. The first war was relatively short and lasted only from 1880 to 1881. The result was that the Boers successfully stopped the British from annexing the area that they established called the Transvaal (meaning beyond the Vaal River). The second Boer War was quite a different story. It lasted from 1899-1902 and consisted of a vast mobilization on the part of the British. At the end of the War with the Boer’s defeat, the Boer republic was assimilated into Britannia as a colony. However the cost of victory was terribly high, for the British loses were exceptional. The British were also reduced to using unethical warfare that directly led to high civilian causalities among the Boers. These extreme tactics forced the Boers to consolidate themselves as a separate entity, and although they lost the war they gained a collective identity that would latter influence their actions.

After the war, the Boers retained a degree of local control politically, however both they and the British faced an even bigger problem, namely, the population of South Africa was primarily black, and this threatened the posterity of the white European immigrants and decedents. In 1903 the South African Native Affairs Commission (SANAC) was formed to deal with this problem. SANAC’s report on the problem proposed that a system of segregation be imposed. As the system spread among the ideology of the white population, the black population naturally began to form an opposition. However the resistance never consolidated significantly.

With a changing of the guard in Britain, new foreign policies came into play and full self-governance was granted to the Boer controlled areas of Transvaal and the Orange River in 1907. Three years later, the separate colonies of South Africa united and formed the South African Union, which remained loosely associated with England as a commonwealth, but was independently run. In an attempt to assure the prosperity of whites, the new united commonwealth instituted a regime characterized by segregation and industrialization. The first major act of this united commonwealth was to pass the Mines and Work Act, which restricted skilled labor in the mines and on the railroads to whites.

In 1913, the South African government passed the Natives’ Land Act that severely limited black African ownership of land to roughly 7% of the country. A year before this extreme law was passed the black South Africans formed the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in retaliation. This organization would stand as the primary form of resistance to the ever-increasing discriminatory legislation. According to Clark and Worger in South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, “The Congress was moderate in composition, tone and practice. Its founders were men who felt that British rule had brought considerable benefits, especially Christianity, education and the rule of law, but who also considered that their careers as teachers, lawyers and court translators were hindered by the racial discrimination…”[4] Their primary means of action was counter legislation.

In order to keep the details at a minimum, so not to bog down and distract from the overall aims of this short essay, we will only glance at several historical factors and ignore innumerable others. In 1914 J.B.M. Hertzog formed the National Party (NP), which dominated South African politics for the next 80 years. The National Party’s regime was characterized by ever increasing racist legislation. One primary example were the Pass Laws, which required black South Africans to carry passbooks on them at all times and travel only in restricted territories and for restricted reasons. While this was happening the Boers solidified their Afrikaner identity and even formed a secret society limited to Afrikaners. This organization was called the Afrikaner Broederbond (Afrikaner Brotherhood).

In 1923 the SANNC changed its name to the African National Congress (ANC), and remained the primary counter-power to the NP led government. Under the guidance of several leading characters the ANC used non-violent methodologies to protest the segregation policies. In 1944, frustrated with the lack of progress that the ANC was making, a new more militant branch of the ANC was created called the ANC Youth League. As both sides continued to confront one another, the legislation and racist policies increased and the resistance began to turn more violent. In 1959 another resistance organization called the Pan-African Congress (PAC) was formed that went even further in radical counter-philosophy and action. A year later Police opened fire on a funeral procession, killing 21 people. The ANC and PAC were officially banned the same year.

In 1961 South Africa became a republic and left the common wealth. During the next twenty years Apartheid developing more restrictive measures and the country edged ever closer to exploding. However in the 1980’s, influenced by the fact that the segregation system of Apartheid was simply not working, and the South African government received a lot of international criticism, things began to improve. Over the next 14 years the discriminatory legislation was removed and the system of Apartheid began dismantling itself. In 1990, several political prisoners were released from jail, including Nelson Mandela, a leader of the ANC. The next four years reverted once again to bloodshed over how to run the new South Africa, yet in 1994 Mandela was sworn in as the president. Although the racial situation has surely improved, the country of South Africa has continued to struggle with instability ever since.

VI) A Short History of Freemasonry in South Africa

In the first part of this discussion I will be primarily drawing my information from an address given in 1990 by the then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Africa, Most Worshipful George Groenewald.[5] He begins his historic rendering with the installation of the first Lodge in South Africa in 1772. Establish by the Grand East of the Netherlands, under the authority vested in Brother Abraham van der Weijde, Lodge De Goede Hoop (Lodge of the Good Hope) was the first Lodge in South Africa, which was a major rest-stop along the all important trade route from India. “The lodge depended for its existence on visitors, conferring numerous degrees but failing to attract local residents as members, particularity because of the ridged social and religious attitudes of the confined Cape society.”[6] Pressured by the religious opinion of the Cape society and the policies of the Dutch East India Company (which didn’t allow company members to trade or own land, or even to associate intimately with those whose contract had expired called Free Burghers) the Lodge De Goede Hoop went into recess in 1781.

In 1794, the Lodge began operating again, riding as it were, the increased interest in Freemasonry universally occurring across the globe. As South African Freemasonry developed it did so in a unique way for the Grand Lodge of the Netherlands, the Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland all established lodges in the South African colonies. The presence of numerous Grand Lodges is in of itself not unique, but what is unique is that these Grand Lodges were all mutually respected in South Africa and even shared jurisdictions and constitutional elements, at least for some time. With the British influx “of English-speaking members into the lodge (they) brought tension and an inevitable split, when English members broke away to form the first permanent English Lodge in the Cape.”[7]

The ‘Great Trek’ and other internal South African tensions greatly hurt the Craft, which was further aggravated by the problem of which language to embrace in Lodge. The period of Masonic unrest was short lived for the discovery of gold and diamonds improved the situation for most white South Africans, and thus for the Masons in the colony as well. This optimistic upturn led for the proposal to establish a Grand Lodge of South Africa, but many years would pass for this to occur. It wasn’t until “the emergence of the Afrikaner nationalism as a dominant political force in South Africa in 1948, (that) the movement among Freemasons for a South African Grand Lodge again gained momentum…when it did come, it is actually attributed to a combination of events enacted in the Masonic Grand Lodges of Europe, and not associated initially directly in any manner to local pressure.”[8] These reasons, which center on the chaos in Europe wrought by WWII, while being relevant to the discussion at hand exceed the limits of this endeavor. It is therefore significant only to note that the Grand Lodge of South Africa received its independence and Masonic authority form the Grand East of the Netherlands following WWII, and up until today the 4 Grand Lodges of South Africa, England, Scotland and Ireland still share the country of South Africa in a surprisingly beneficial mutual harmony.

It should be mentioned that all the Lodges discussed above only admitted white men into their establishments. Prince Hall Freemasonry was brought into South Africa and established by a Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from Philadelphia. Bishop Coppin established Ethopia Lodge No. 75 and Coppin Lodge No. 76 in 1902. However, because of the institution of Apartheid, black Africans were not allowed to be Freemasons, and the Prince Hall Lodges were restricted to ‘Coloreds’ only. In South Africa, Coloreds refer not to blacks, but only to non-white and non-black people, and people of mixed blood. In 1977 the two Prince Hall lodges of South Africa, gave up their Charter from the Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Masonry in Philadelphia in order to join with and become adsorbed into the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Africa. A series of primary documents along with a short essay detailing this absorption can be found on-line.[9] In the late 1970’s this was a radical move that despite some opposition helped to begin breaking down the role of Apartheid in the country. On September 6th, 2007 Mr. Zolani Skithi became the first black South African to be initiated into a Masonic Lodge. The Lodge was St. Finbars Lodge, which is chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland.[10]

VII) The Relationship Between Revolutionary Freemasonry and the
History of the South African Nation

If we return to our derived revolutionary Masonic principles and apply them to South Africa we can better understand not only Freemasonry in the country but also the overall South African historical development. The first principle states that many of the leading French and American revolutionary figures were members of the Craft, and were influenced by Masonic Teachings. If we were to look into the role call of South African Freemasons, by far the most prominent and powerful members would be among the British Freemasons in South Africa. This is especially the case during the Boer Wars when such Englishmen as Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Winston Churchill were stationed in South Africa and fought under the command of their Masonic Brother Lord Kitchener.

Because blacks were excluded from the Craf,t the Revolutionary Masonic trend of influence would never play out in South Africa. There simply were no black Freemasons in South Africa, and the ‘colored’ Prince Hall Masonic population never really amounted to more than a handful prior to their integration into mainstream South African Freemasonry. This brings us to the second factor, which states that, the nature of both the French and American Revolutions were such that they coincided with a shifting of societal structuring towards more republican equality. In the extremely segregated and classified society of South Africa the overall Masonic emphasis on Brotherhood could never really take hold outside of the white population. This means the black plight for equality would fall outside of the sphere of direct relationship to the Brethren in South Africa. In the French and American situations there were numerous Masons among those calling out for equality, but in the South African situation those calling out were black and therefore not legally allowed to be Masons.

The third factor of a revolutionary manner in Freemasonry is that in France and America, Freemasonry became increasingly powerful because it offered a beacon of stability and order in an otherwise turbulent period of vast societal change. This is perhaps the only factor relevant to the South African situation, for despite the numerous points of potential demise, Freemasonry in South Africa has been growing and expanding consistently since 1794. The mere fact that 4 Grand Lodges jointly control and share jurisdictional influence with one another in a harmonious way is astounding, and represents the stability of the Craft in South Africa.

The final factor was the use of Masonic symbols and ideologies in the French and American Revolutions. Here too, the segregationist policies of Apartheid caused blacks to be barred from membership in the Craft, and therefore those most likely to have revolutionary impulses could not draw on the Craft and its teachings; the symbols and ideologies of Masonry were therefore obviously not used by members of the black South African communities. Perhaps the fact that unlike several other revolutionary situations, in South Africa no revolution (strictly speaking) happened, was influenced by the lack of Masonic connections. Perhaps Apartheid was too powerful to be overcome quickly and in a revolutionary manner. In order to answer these questions further study is needed, and other historians must take up this line of questioning.

VIII) Concluding Thoughts

In the late 1790’s and early 1800’s through “…invoking fraternity as a member of an international brotherhood, (Prince) Hall gained the moral authority necessary to challenge the inconsistencies of a white orthodoxy that praised equality, religion, and fraternity yet treated blacks as inferiors.”[11] Yet blacks remained to be excluded from the American Fraternity for years to come. Today most African American Masons are Prince Hall Masons, although an intermingling does occur, and fraternal connections have been and continue to be established. Blacks are no longer restricted to join the Fraternity, nor are whites excluded from Prince Hall Lodges. This being said, the races tend to this day to segregate among the various Free and Accepted Masonic Lodges and the Prince Hall Masonic Lodges.

Freemasonry has always worn the costume of the culture in which it arises. In South Africa, a regime of Apartheid literally made it impossible to bring the more oppressed populations (the black South Africans) into the Craft. This one fact alone eliminates any Masonic revolutionary influence in the struggles of South Africa. Freemasonry in South Africa was not always free from challenges from the government of the country, but it remained free from persecution because it did not directly interfere with the Apartheid system.

I will conclude by quoting Jaspar Ridley’s The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society at length. I believe it summarizes Freemasonry’s place in South African history nicely.

“Having Suppressed the Communist Party and the African National Congress, and arrested Nelson Mandela and his colleagues, the government, on 28 July 1964, appointed Mr. Justice D.H. Botha as the sole member of a commission of inquiry into secret organizations. The South African Freemasons had never taken part in the struggle against apartheid; they were as respectable and law-abiding as the British Freemasons. But they were accused by certain members of the Dutch Reformed Church of aiming at establishing ‘a world government and a world religion’ which would replace the authority of the government of an independent South Africa. Mr. Justice Botha reported that there was no evidence ‘that Freemasonry in South Africa actively interests itself in the establishment of a world state with a world government, or that through its conduct it in any way weakens the will of the South African nation to fight for its survival.”[12]

[1] Steven Bullock Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Chapel Hill, NC University of North Carolina Press 1996) p109
[2] Early American Masonry was divided among the Moderns (the older more aristocratic form) and the Ancients (the newer more egalitarian form).
[3] Nancy Clark and William Worger South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Pearson/Longman Harlow UK 2004) p12
[4] Nancy Clark and William Worger South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Pearson/Longman Harlow UK 2004) p23
[5] M.’. W.’. George Groenewald “A History of South African Freemasonry”
[6] Ibid., p1
[7] Ibid., p2
[8] Ibid., p3-4
[11] Steven Bullock Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Chapel Hill, NC University of North Carolina Press 1996) p160
[12] Jasper Ridley The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society (New York NY, Arcade Publishing 2001) p237