LESSER KNOWN ORDERS
- Kent Henderson, PJGD
I intend, in this paper, to discuss a number of additional
Masonic Orders, a few of which you may be aware, and some, at least,
of which you may not.
Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA)
offering of insight, perhaps, is into the Societas
Rosicruciana in Anglia, which is fairly well known in Victoria. It is
more commonly known by its initials “SRIA”, or simply as the “Soc Ros”. The modern society of Masonic Rosicrucians
was given its present form by Robert Wentworth Little in 1865 who (with
others) founded the Society following the reputed discovery of certain
manuscripts in the archives of The United Grand Lodge of England. It
has now been established that Little in fact
received the degrees in Scotland, but
where the Scots got them from is unknown. Certainly, the SRIA was formed
before the analogous body in Scotland. The SRIA is based upon symbolism and traditions of a much earlier German
Rosicrucian society, which in turn claimed its origin from an immortal
character, known as Christian Rosenkreutz,
who was almost certainly mythical. As just noted, the SRIA subsequently
gave rise to an analogous body in Scotland, and later still, to one in the USA.
The SRIA is an esoteric
education society, with Colleges (currently nearly seventy) as ‘Lodges’
of it are called, located across England, and also in Australia, New
Zealand, Canada, France and The Netherlands. Candidates need only be
Mason Masons. Indeed, it can be argued (and by many it is) that the
SRIA is not a Masonic Order at all; it merely requires its members to
concurrently be Freemasons.
The Society, which is governed
from London, is led by the Supreme Magus, and his Senior Substitute
Magus and Junior Substitute Magus (analogous to the Grand Master, Senior
Grand Warden and Junior Grand Warden in the Craft), and members of High
Council. The High Council is composed of the High Council Officers (largely
appointed by the Supreme Magus), and a representative (called a High
Councillor) from each College.
Each College has a set of Officers,
led by its Very Worthy Celebrant (i.e.: “Master”), who serves a one-year
term. As is also normal in the Craft, the junior offices are largely
progressive till one reaches the chair.
The Society is divided into
three Orders, viz:
- The First Order (Grades I
to IV) – The Learners. Members of the First Order possess the
appellation: Frater (plural: fratres).
That said, certain officer-bearers (such
as the Secretary, Treasurer, and Ancients) are designated Worthy Frater (but usually these officers have previously become
members of the 2nd Order, and become VWFra.)
- The Second Order (Grades V
to VII) – The Teachers. Members of the Second Order possess
the appellation: Very Worthy Frater.
- The Third Order (Grades VIII
& IX) – The Rulers. Members of the Third Order possess
the appellation: Right Worthy Frater.
Colleges are grouped into (geographical)
Provinces, which may have as few as one College, though the majority have several. Each Province is governed by a Chief
Adept (“Provincial Grand Master”), assisted by his Provincial Suffragan (“Deputy Provincial Grand Master”). Where a Province
has more than one College, the Chief Adept may appoint (subject to the
approval of the Supreme Magus) Provincial Officers from amongst the
Past Celebrants of Province’s Colleges, who assist him at Installations.
The SRIA Province of Victoria holds an Annual Meeting, at which the
Chief Adept appoints his Provincial Officers.
Across Australia and New Zealand there are five
SRIA Provinces: Victoria (with six Colleges),
South Australia (one), Western Australia (one), Queensland (one), and New Zealand (three). There
are also two Rosicrucian Colleges in NSW, but these come under the Societas Rosicruciana
in Scotia (SRIS) – Scotland. The SRIA and SRIS
have the warmest fraternal relations, and fraters from either Society
may readily visit each other’s Colleges, or as necessary, affiliate.
The Society possesses nine
Grades (degrees), which are all worked. Promotion through the Grades
of the Society is, by design, slow. The first four Grades (Zelator,
and Philosophus) are worked in a warranted College by its Very
Worthy Celebrant and his officers, and the promotion of any Frater
within the First Order is his sole prerogative. Given a regular attendance
and interest by a frater, the progression
is nominally one Grade per year (i.e: four
years to the IV Grade), but in some Colleges the IV Grade is normally
achieved by a new Zelator within two years. The minimum time lapse between Grades
is six months.
Promotion to the Second Order
is the sole prerogative of the Chief Adept, although he annually accepts
recommendations from his Colleges. In turn, the sole prerogative to
recommend Fratres to the Chief Adept for promotion is vested in the
College Celebrant, but in practice the Celebrant usually takes the advice
of the College’s Executive Committee (although he does not have to).
of the IV Grade, to be considered for promotion to V Grade (Adeptus
Minor) must have been a member of the Society for a minimum of four
years. In considering a recommendation, the Celebrant generally requires
that a frater under consideration must have been a regular attender at College meetings, and usually be serving in Office
(that can be just as a Cellarius, i.e: Steward).
Under normal circumstances,
the Chief Adept will consider a frater of
the V Grade for promotion to the VI Grade (Adeptus
Major) when he is due to become 3rd or 2nd Ancient of his College.
Further, the Chief Adept will consider a frater
of the VI Grade for promotion to the VII Grade (Adeptus
Exemptus) when he is due to advance to
the Chair as Very Worthy Celebrant (i.e: “Master”),
or perhaps, to the Chair of Exponent (i.e:
On occasions, the Chief Adept may
also consider promotion of a frater to the
VI or even to the VII Grade, even though he is not advancing to the
Chair of his College, if he has rendered meritorious service to his
College. The V and VI and VII Grade are normally worked each year, at
different times, in Special Convocations of the Second Order held immediately
prior to the regular meetings of a College.
Advancement to the Third Order
(effectively “Grand Rank”) is the sole prerogative of the Supreme Magus,
no Frater or College may make recommendations,
although the Supreme Magus will consider recommendations from a Chief
Adept. The VIII Grade – Magister –
(Roman numerals) is held by fraters of that rank who are College representatives
on the High Council. Fraters of that rank who are not High Councillors
are designated 8o (Arabic). Normally,
those fratres promoted to Magister
are Past Celebrants who have given very long and exemplary service to
the Society. Promotions are given by the Supreme Magus very sparingly,
and currently in Victoria there are only
about a dozen fratres who are Magisters.
The IX Grade (Magus)
is only held by the Supreme Magus, and his two Substitute Magi.
However, the Supreme Magus may, and occasionally does, promote Magisters
to the Grade of Magus (plural: Magi) – honorus
causa. Their status is then noted as 9o
(Arabic). This, the highest Grade in the Society, is conferred very
rarely, and currently there are only five Magi in the Province of Victoria. A Magus
9o (honorus causa)
becomes a member of the High Council in his own right, whereas other
High Councillors (whether VIIIo
or VIIo), other than High Council
Officers, must otherwise be the appointed representatives of Colleges.
of the Society basically consists of a pocket
jewel. For I-IV Grades, fratres wear a white enameled gilt
metal lozenge bearing a red cross with arms of equal length, suspended
a green ribbon. V-VII Grade members wear an identical jewel except
that the ribbon is of yellow silk. Past Celebrants and Members of the
Third Order also wear red cloaks of various designs denoting their rank
in the Society.
The full title of this Order is
the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Walkers, Slaters,
and Bricklayers, but it is known by everyone as “The Operatives”.
The Constitutions of the Society
state that the Order was founded in 1913, when Channel Row Assemblage
was formed in London. It has been
claimed that the Society is directly descended from still then lingering
old operative lodges, but the veracity of this claim is disputed by
Certainly, the Operatives’
rituals are archaic in form and much fuller than that of the Speculatives, and they containing practical instruction
of which only echoes are found in speculative ritual, thereby providing
an interesting field of study for the serious Masonic student. There
seven degrees in the Society, all of which are worked, namely:
at present over 60 Assemblages of the Society. The Order was brought to Australia in 1989, when I
took over one hundred brethren to London, whereupon the
six initial Assemblages for Australia were constituted
over the course of a week.
now have twelve Assemblages currently – four in Victoria, two each in
New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, and one each in Adelaide and
Perth. New Zealand has three Assemblages.
Bodies are termed as Assemblages, consisting of one Lodge
of each Degree, from Fourth to First, which is ruled by a Deputy Master
Mason, who as a Senior Passed Master is the local representative of
the (three) Grand Master Masons. Structurely,
Assemblages are grouped into region under a Deputy Grand Master Mason,
who is also Senior Passed Master of the VIo
the Vo are governed by a Deputy
Master Mason Vo Lodge, and of the VIo
by the Senior Passed Master. The VIIo
Degree Lodge is under the direct control of the Grand Master Masons,
and the VIIo is effective Grand Rank, which is given out
very sparingly indeed.
of The Operatives is limited to candidates who must be a Master Mason,
a Mark Master Mason and a Royal Arch Companion in good standing. Once
accepted, a candidate can progress to the Vo
without additional qualification, but he must be an Installed Master
in both Craft and Mark before he can be raised to the VIo.
One must possess the VIo before
ascended to the highest positions in an Assemblage, including Deputy
is unique in that it has no past ranks. Once a member has served, for
example, as Deputy Master Mason of an Assemblage, he does not become
a “Past Deputy Master Mason”, but simply reverts to his Degree rank.
The same applies Grand Officers. An actual Grand Master Mason, upon
retirement, simply reverts to “A Member of the VIIo”.
The regalia is the Society is owned by the Assemblage. On admission as
an Indentured Apprentice the candidate is invested with a thin pale
blue cord. This is exchanged when he receives the II° for a ‘Square
Guage’ of bronze which is again suspended
from a pale blue cord. The IIIo
jewel of a ‘Fitter
and Marker’ is a ’Running Stone Guage’ in
bronze, which is again suspended from the cord. On advancement to ‘Setter
Erector’ (IVo) the recipient acquires a jewel in bronze of
a ‘Footing Corner Stone Guage’ that is affixed
to the cord.
Promotion through the degrees
is relatively slow, and at a minimum, from joining it takes at least
two years, given a very regular attendance, to achieve the IVo.
A further two years thereafter must elapse before promotion to the Vo.
The regalia for it is a one-inch collar of
pale blue ribbon that replaces the cord, from which hangs an ‘Elbow
Square Guage’ of silver. Again, a further minimum two years must
pass before promotion to VIo. On
becoming a ‘Passed Master’ the previous jewel is replaced by a silver
square. For the rarely-achieved VIIo,
the silver square is replaced by a golden square. In addition to personal
collar jewels, which indicate the rank of the wearer, each Assemblage
provides officers’ jewels, which are worn on a pale blue collar two
inches in width.
four degrees of the Society are have considerable
echoes in the speculative Craft. If one can imagine what the First Degree
might have been like several hundred years ago, then you approach the
degree of Indentured Apprentice in The Operatives. The same applies
to the Second Degree, Fellow of the Craft. In the Third Degree, Fitter
and Marker, the candidate is operatively and symbolically fitting and
marking the stones in the quarries, and thus it contains echoes of the
speculative Degree of Mark Master Mason. The Fourth Degree, Settor
Erector, sees the candidate on the temple site itself, and it contains
a few echoes of the Holy Royal Arch Degree.
Degree, Menatzchim, or Overseer, has no correspondence in speculative masonry. In it the
candidate is examined in his technical knowledge before being obligated
as an Overseer within the Society. The Degree of Passed Master is a
very operative degree, quite magnificent, and again unique. The candidate
is raised, but with truly operative connotations. In the rarely attained
Seventh Degree, the candidate is enthroned as a Grand Master Mason.
There are only three Grand Master Masons in practice, the First (SKI)
and Second (HKT) hold office for five years and three years respectively,
while the third is ritually slain in October of every year, when a new
Third Grand Master is enthroned at the Annual Meeting of Grand Assemblage
in London, following the ‘Enactment of the Drama’. Other brethren who
achieve this Degree hold it honoris
The Degrees of the Red Cross of Babylon are next to capture
our attention. Forms of these degrees are worked under varying Masonic
authorities in England, Ireland and Scotland, and elsewhere.
The Degree has a relatively
obscure history in England, being worked within
a few old Craft lodges, as was not uncommon in the 18th century. It
was one of the original degrees brought under the Grand Council of the Order of the Allied
Masonic Degrees of England, etc, upon its formation in 1880. Under England, the Red Cross
of Babylon is considered one degree, work in
two parts – the first in a “Royal Arch Council”, the second in “The
Persian Court”. It relates the rebuilding of the Second Temple, and the return
of Zerubbabel to Jerusalem – placing it historically
before story of the Royal Arch Degree. The Degree is in some respects
similar to the 15th, 16th and 17th Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted
In Scotland, the Red Cross
Degree, known there as the ‘Baylonish Pass
or Red Cross’ is worked under a Lodge & Council (which is attached
to a Scottish Royal Arch Chapter) which also works the Ark Mariner Degree,
and the Cryptic Degrees.
In Ireland, it was part of
the Early Grand Rite, which later dissolved into the Knight Templars
and Ancient & Accepted Rite in that country. In Ireland originally, the
Red Cross of Babylon was at one time worked as a preliminary to the
Knight Templar Degree. The Red Cross Degrees came close to extinction
in Ireland, but were revived
in 1925 by the Grand Council of Knight Masons formed in Dublin in that year. Under
Ireland, the Red Cross
of Babylon is divided into three degrees (plus a Chair Degree) and its
working is far fuller than that worked either in England or Scotland. Under the Irish
Grand Council of Knight Masons, the degrees worked are Knight of the
Sword, Knight of the East, and Knight of the East and West. The first
two are given to the candidate sequentially on the night he joins, while
he receives the Knight of the East and West at a subsequent meeting.
In Australia, as a result of
Masonic diffusion from the three Home Constitutions, the situation is
slightly complicated. In all states except Victoria and Tasmania, the Red Cross
Degree is worked as part of the Holy Royal Arch sequence. This is usually
a variant of the Scottish Version of the ceremonies. In Victoria, the Red Cross
degrees are exclusively worked under the Allied Masonic Degrees, descended
directly from England. An additional
complication is that Allied Degree Councils, directly under or descended
from England, also exist in
most other states. Thus, effectively, in those States a brother can
gain two versions of the Red Cross of Babylon – under his Royal Arch
Grand Chapter, and under the Allied Masonic Degrees. In Tasmania, there is no indigenous
Grand Chapter. Therein, existing Chapters have Scottish warrants, and
attached Scottish Lodge and Councils that, as noted above, work a form
of the Red Cross degrees.
A number of Australian Masons
have, in the past, attempted to warrant a Council of Knight Masons under
Dublin, in Australia, but due the complications
just mentioned, this has not been possible, as yet. However, a Council
of Knight Masons will be consecrated in Dublin in June 2003 for
Australia, and it will subsequently
work in Launceston, Tasmania. The founding members,
who previously joined the Order in Ireland, subsequently obtained
the necessary permissions from the Craft Grand Lodge of Tasmania. Possibly,
it will be the only Knight Masons Council ever warranted in Australia.
In the United States, and in Canada, the Red Cross
Degree, which is similar to the Red Cross of Babylon version worked
under England, is conferred as
an essential preparatory degree before a Royal Arch Mason can be installed
as a Knight Templar. Additionally, in 1936, a group of Masons in North
Carolina brought the degrees from Ireland to
the United States. Formerly
under Ireland, the
Councils in the United States formed
the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United
States of America in 1967, which
is in amity with the Grand Council in Dublin. Today,
there are over seventy Councils of Knight Masons in the U.S.A. with
more than 7000 members. However, the several Councils in the State of
out, and today still remain under the Grand Council of Knight Masons
THE RECTIFICED SCOTTISH RITE
The Rectified Scottish Rite
(Rite Eccosais Rectifie
– RER) is the oldest continuously extant chivalric Masonic Order in
the world, having adopted its current structure in 1778. It is also
known, particularly outside Europe, as the CBCS – and acronym of the French words for
the pinnacle degree of the Order. A Christian Order, it possesses impressive
archaic rituals. It arose out of the remnants of Baron von Hund’s
1754 ‘Rite of Strict Observance’. The modern
form of the RER by the ‘mother’ Great Priory of Switzerland (Grand Prieure Independent D’Helvetia – GPIH) in 1782. The Rite spread rapidly over
Europe in the next thirty years but then waned just as rapidly
and by the middle of the 19th Century it existed
only Switzerland. However, other
regular Great Priories began to emerge: USA (1934), France (1935), England (1937), Germany (1959), Belgium (1986), Spain (1997), Portugal (1998) and Italy (1998).
The principal reason for this
expansion, prior to World War II, was the perceived threat to Switzerland of the German Nazis.
Warrants for Grand Bodies were thus given to the USA, France and England so that, if Switzerland was subsequently
invaded, the Rite would survive.
Membership of the Rite has
always been very tightly held. In America, there is one lodge,
which meets annually, but effectively does not work the degrees of the
Order. Membership is limited to two members from each American State, one hundred in
all. We one member dies or resigns, the remaining member in that State
nominates his successor.
In England, the Order is controlled
by the Great Priory of the Temple. It has one lodge,
limited to thirteen members, which are drawn only from the top Great
Priory officers. Again, it does not work the RER ceremonies, and usually
only meets (rarely) to receive a new candidate. Interestingly, there
is a second RER Great Priory in England. As the existing
English Great Priory (dating from 1937) was unheard of and thought to
be extinct, after WWII senior members of the SRIA in London applied to Switzerland and gained a warrant
for a Great Priory. Subsequently, the original, still existing RER Great
Priory under the English Knight Templars,
not surprisingly took a dim view of this development. However, as the
second Grand Warrant could not practically be withdrawn, both still
exist. The SRIA version meets annually in London, and under a tacit
concordant with the Knight Templar version, it too is limited to a maximum
thirteen members. The SRIA version does work the RER ceremonies.
The problem in England was, and remains,
of course, that it was virtually impossible to become a member of the
Order. About fifteen years ago, the RER Great Priory of Belgium erected
an English-speaking lodge under it, in Belgium, for the specific
purpose of admitting English Masons. Subsequently a second lodge was
formed, and late last year, a third. They all meet twice per
year on Saturdays, and English members thus cross the Channel twice
per year to attend. A concordant was struck between the KT Great Priory
of England and the RER Great Priory of Belgium, that
any English Mason joining in Belgium must first be approved
by the English Knight Templar Great Vice-Chancellor – though I understand
it is unusual for a proposed candidate to be rejected through this procedure.
In 1998, I was accepted into
one of the English-speaking RER lodges in Belgium, and later assisted
a few other Australian Masons to join. After not inconsiderable efforts
by a number of people in both Belgium and here, the National Grand Master
of the RER Great Priory of Belgium, with retinue, flew to Australia
in July 2001 and consecrated an RER Lodge, under Belgium, in each of
Launceston, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. He is returning in July this
year to consecrate a lodge in Brisbane. The Australian
RER lodges each meet twice per year, and generally take one, or occasionally,
two candidates per meeting. A candidate in Australia must be a financial
Knight Templar to gain admission. It is anticipated that only one RER
lodge will be formed per Australian State.
The degrees of the Rite are nominally seven but the first
three are accepted as equivalents of the degrees of the Craft and are
ceded to the authority of the Craft to solely administer (similar to
the procedure in the Ancient and Accepted Rite). The degrees worked
by the RER are then: Scottish Master, Scottish Master of Saint Andrew
(effectively two parts of one ceremony), Squire Novice and Knight Beneficent
of the Holy City (CBCS). The degrees of Saint Andrew provide a Christian
interpretation to the Solomonic and Second Temple traditions. The degree of Squire
Novice recounts a legend concerning the conversion to Christianity of
sages in the Holy City by St Mark. It covers the traditions of their
initiation and secret oral transmission of their doctrine culminating
with the emergence of the Knights Templar. The degree of Knight Beneficent
of the Holy City reveals that the Christian doctrine predates the Christian
era and that good works pave the way to heaven, a better society and
true enlightenment. After being admitted to the degrees of St Andrew
it is normal that a two-year period pass before a member is considered
for admission to the degree of Squire Novice. A similar period must
lapse before a Novice can be considered for investiture and arming as
a Knight Beneficent of the Holy City.
The members of the Rite, under
the Great Priory of Belgium, wear different regalia appropriate to rank.
The brethren of St Andrew wear an apron and collar with a suspended
jewel of significance. Squire Novices wear a tunic and a collar suspending
a St. Andrew jewel. Knights wear a tunic and mantle, a sash suspending
the St Andrew jewel, and a collarette suspending
a Templar Cross, plus gloves and a sword.
ORDER OF ERI
of Eri is one of the most elite Masonic orders.
It is supposedly derived for a ancient Order in Ireland, consisting
of freemasons, and it is said to have been erected and patronised
by the Kings of Ireland. Just how it reached its present existence is
not entirely clear, but is evidently dates to the mid 1850’s in its
current form. There has also been an American connection at some stage,
as the “Red Branch of Eri” degree is one of those controlled under USA Grand Council
of the Allied Masonic Degrees.
under England only possesses three lodges, known as Faslairts.
Two work in England, the other in Melbourne. There are three degrees
of the Order, all worked successively on a candidate on the night he
joins, viz: 1. Man-at-Arms. 2. Esquire. 3. Knight.
A Faslairt, which are headed by its Enlightened Knight Commander,
only meets twice per year, and usually only take one candidate per meeting.
Membership is strictly by invitation, and to be invited to join one
must hold a minimum of the Fifth Grade in the SRIA, though in Melbourne
effectively one must hold the VII Grade therein, and be a Past Celebrant.
In England, the VIII Grade is the usual prerequisite.
relates that the Order, comprising freemasons, was founded in 1697 BC by the then King of Ireland, Brian
Boru. An ancient
book entitled The Annals of the Four Masters of
Ireland tells of the Knights of the Collar
of Eri as instituted by King Eamhium and his eight princes over the armies of the four
provinces, ie. Ulster, Munster, Leinster
and Connaught. The ancient Knightly Order
was comprised of Ollamhs who were the teachers
and hospitallers, the Brehons who as
judges ensured that the laws were correctly administered, the Crimthears being priests who attended to the religious and
moral education of the people, the Bards as historians who preserved
the memory of the noble deeds of their ancestors and the later Heralds
who assisted in developing the Arts and Sciences. Much of the modern
ceremonies are couched in Bardic Verse and include much ancient Irish lore.
AUGUST ORDER OF LIGHT
Order is founded upon the literature supplied by a Dr Maurice Vidal
Portman, a learned student of Oriental lore, an occultist, freemason
and politician who spent a considerable time on the staff of the Diplomatic
Corps in India during the late 1800s. He made himself familiar with
the literature and ritual observances of the Eastern Indian peoples,
whether Brahmins, Buddhists, Jains or Mohammedans,
and gained much curious lore from religious devotees of all creeds.
The Order in its first form was not widely known and for some years
was in abeyance, but in 1902 the original material was recast into a
series of degrees. The degrees as now worked are as follows: 1. First
Degree. 2. Passing Degree 3. Second Degree. There are only two
lodges of the Order, both in England, one of which meets in London.
My understanding is that currently waiting list to join this Order is
about eight years.
possesses rituals that illustrate the old world religions and notable
mythologies of India, with sidelights from the cults of ancient Egypt,
Greece and Rome. These are presented a series of ceremonies and lectures
that confer instruction on the oriental ideas of theology. A practice
that is of special significance to the Order is the regular observance
of the ceremonies of the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes.
The Pilgrim Preceptors is another
of the more remote English Masonic Orders, of which I have minimum knowledge.
Its lodges are called Conclaves, and it is an extension of the Holy
Royal Arch. Regalia is, indeed, that of a Royal Arch Companion, plus
a collarette and jewel. There are two degrees in the Order,
that of Pilgrimage and Preceptor. The legend of the Order concerns the
Fourth Grand Lodge in Jerusalem, and the coming of Christianity to Britain.
THE HERMETIC ORDER OF MARTINISTS
Order of Martinists (HOM) is a purely Masonic
branch of the Martinist Order. Martinism
is a Christian mystical philosophy based upon the books and letters
of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin (1743 to 1803). In general, a Christian
mystic is someone who is deliberately performing the virtues expressed
by the life of Jesus Christ. Generally however, the Christian mystic,
indeed the mystic of whatever religion, engages in a spiritual discipline
over and above everyday religious observances. A mystic is one who seeks
to raise his or her consciousness for the purposes of greater affinity
During his lifetime, Louis-Claude
de Saint-Martin founded no group or fraternity for the study of the
higher mysteries of religious experience. However, both before and after
his death, circles of admirers of Saint-Martin’s works were formed for
the purpose of discussing and perhaps his philosophy.
1891, the Martinist Order was founded in Paris,
France, by a Supreme Council. Several Martinist
Orders presently exist, aside from the Masonically
attached version, and Martinism is heavily
associated with the American AMORC Rosicrucian organisation. Indeed,
the Masonic-associated Order of Martinists
also has some philosophical similarities with the Masonic Rosicrucians.
Candidates are for the Order must be SRIA members, but only of the Zelator
Martinist Order in general is organized on
the Lodge System, similar to Freemasonry, although no effort is made
to encroach upon its symbols and teachings. After having been found
sincere and desirous of study of the principles of the Order, a candidate
successively progresses through three Grades, viz: Initiation, Second
Degree, and Third Degree. The Lodge system provides a psychological
environment to encourage the perception and appreciation of higher spiritual
principles. It is presumed that after the Third Degree, upon which official
study terminates, the Martinist is fully capable
of continued self-study and practice and indeed is prepared to lend
a helping hand in charity and philanthropic service to the rest of humanity.
Meetings are called Conventicles. Regalia consists of a surplice, cloak,
and collar. It would appear that only one lodge of the Masonically associated Order meets in England, in London.
St. Thomas of Acon
The Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon is of English origin. It ritual was discovered in the
archives of London’s Guildhall Library some years ago. This was reportedly
the only English order devised during the Crusades, and it evolved,
so far as appears known, to provide decent burials to those who had
fallen in the Middle East. It certainly survived the Crusades, as an
actual report, also located in London’s Guildhall, describes
the Installation of the Master in 1510. At this time the order was evidently
at a low ebb, and it appeared that none the knights wanted to accept
the position of Master. Thus the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral (then the
Patron of the Order) selected a vicar, whom the Dean had dragged to
the centre of a chapel and was told that he was to be the Master,
whether he liked it or not. This actual incident is incorporated into
the current Acon Ritual. The Acon
ritual largely centers on the life and death of St. Thomas a Becket.
In terms of the modern
Order, it first Chapel was formed at Blackheath, London, in 1974, and
in its present ceremonial it preserves both the Military and the Monastic
aspects of the original Order. The Order decided to expand only in 1998,
when thirty-eight candidates were admitted to the Blackheath Chapel,
and were charged to go forth and multiply. Since that date twenty-one
further Chapels have been formed (eighteen in the United Kingdom, two
in the U.S.A., and one in Canada). At the start of 2002, the Order possessed
over 600 members, and is still expanding rapidly.
is installed a Knight of Acon, the member
takes a knighthood title. This must be based on some geographical association
with him – where he was born, or has lived, as examples. The regalia
of a Knight of Acon is not too dissimilar from that of a Knights Templar.
At the present time, the Order
of Acon does not exist in Australia.
ANTIENT ORDER OF NOBLE CORKS
appears to be of Scottish Origin, and was brought to America in 1933
by the Marquis of Ailsa, the First Grand Principal
of Scotland’s Grand Royal Arch Chapter. It was subsequently incorporated
into the American Allied Masonic Degrees, where (as for the USA Allied
Degrees in general) one must first hold the Royal Arch Degree.
there are three ‘Cork’ Lodges, two in Glasgow and one in Fife; while
in England the three reporting existing therein meet in Hertfordshire, Kent, and
Buckinghamshire. There is also a Cork Lodge in Belgium, meeting in Brussels.
There does not appear to be any central administration of the Order,
with each lodge acting independently. In every
sense, the Cork Degree is a humorous Order, though it does possess a
reasonably extensive ritual, which is basically a satire on the story
of Noah. Its purpose is wholly charitable, with all monies raised at
meetings donated to selected childrens’ charities.
has been brought to Australia. It was worked for the first time in Perth
last September, prior to a meeting of the Rectified Scottish Rite Southern
Cross Prefectory (aka
‘Provincial Grand Lodge of Australia’), when the Worshipful Admiral (i.e.: ‘Master’) of the Cork Lodge in Belgium was present. The Southern Cross Cork Lodge will meet from time
to time in different parts of Australia.
basic rules of the Order are as follows:
- The Cork Degree can only be
given in a place regularly used for Masonic Meetings, and after a
meeting of a Masonic Body has been held and concluded. It cannot be
conferred on any person who is not a Mason, nor upon any Mason who
is not in good standing.
- A Mason is not eligible for
the degree unless he is a Master Mason and is either a Companion of
the Holy Royal Arch, or a Warden, Master or Past Master of a Craft
No one can confer the Degree unless he is, or has been,
in the chair of First Principal in a Royal Arch Chapter, or has served
as Master of some other Masonic Body, which restricts its membership
to Companions of the Holy Royal Arch.
The Degree cannot be conferred
unless at least three Cork Masons are present.
Smoking during the working of the
degree is permitted (if permitted in the premises) and liquid refreshment
of some kind is compulsory.
The jewel of the Degree is a piece
of cork within a silver ring, the hole 5/6ths of an inch in diameter
and 1/8” of an inch in thickness, and it may bear letters or figures
to indicate where the owner obtained the Degree.
- One must appear to join the
Order in a hat (the sillier the better)
This last Order to capture our attention is, like the
Cork Degree, one of humour and charitable ends. The origins are The
Squareman is a bit obscure. This Order is wholly a Scottish
creation, where it is based. There are eleven “Sheds” (aka
‘lodges’) of the Order, of which ten are in Scotland. The eleventh is
located at Wokingham in England, where it was formed about ten years
ago. Reputedly, Grand Shed, the controlling body, will not allow any
further Sheds to be formed outside of Scotland. I joined Wokingham Shed
No. 11 in 1998 during a visit to England.
A Shed is lead by its “Worthy Deacon”, a new one of which
is installed every year. Candidates must be Mark Master Masons. The
ritual is extroverted, and very humorous (except, perhaps, unless you
are the candidate), but the second half of the ceremony has a serious
side. Many of the offices have Scottish connotations, and much of the
ritual is in “Scottish English”. The major purpose the Order is charitable,
and goodly sums are always extracted from members in general, and from
candidates in particular, during the ceremony. Grand Shed attends the
installation of each constituent Shed annually.
The administration of the Order is interesting. Each
of the eleven Sheds has one active Grand Officer, who each step up one
position every year till eleven years later he becomes Grand Master.
Upon the retirement of the Grand Master the Shed from whence he came
elect a replacement Grand Officer who starts at the bottom of the Grand
Lodge line. Thus, every Shed has a Grand Master, in turn, every eleven
A comparative diagram between the English and American
Allied Masonic Degrees