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From: Masonic Panorama, by Rev. N. B. Cryer. Chapter Five.

Developed by W.Bro. Kent Henderson
Dip. T., B. Ed., Grad. Cert. Ed., Grad. Dip. Ed., M. Ed, Diploma of Masonic Education (Sth. Aust.)
Past Junior Grand Deacon, A. F. & A. Masons of Victoria, Australia.


As may be apparent to anyone who has consulted my curriculum vitae. I have some justification for claiming to know something about the degrees practised 'beyond the Craft'. The manner in which I came to be associated with so many and at a fairly early age is a story in itself but one that I cannot tell here. Suffice it to say that without, at that point of my life, understanding the relationship of all the steps I was taking there were those who were, unbeknown to me, guiding my steps and making sure that I took them in the right direction and in the right order. It is only in my latter years when the whole business of learning ritual, ruling Masonic units and undertaking leadership over several of them is done that I can sit back and try to answer the question which this paper poses. It is a question that was actually put to me some three years ago and then repeated during the time that I was preparing this lecture for delivery. It is thus the response to a real concern felt by some Masons.


As I reflect on the path that I have taken I can only say that at this point I have a sense of having made a long journey in which all the parts seem to fit. 1 feel this so confidently that I was about to respond to a request by some of my present colleagues in York to write them a paper in which I could explain how all the different degrees and Orders fit together. It was then that the second query on this paper's topic came up and I hope that what I say here may meet both purposes. If it does not my York brethren will have to wait for something else.


What also spurred me on was an experience I had in visiting the Grand Scribe E of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland at the end of last year. We had been talking about the subsidiary degrees that now lie under the care and authority of that Grand Chapter. He told me that one of the European Grand Lodges had now decided that it was time to prepare for the task of allowing their growing number of members to complete the experience that they had so far had in practising the craft degrees, including of course the Installation of a reigning Master. What they needed was advice on the most satisfactory way of introducing the Holy Royal Arch. It is worth noting here that though this foreign Constitution is in full and happy relationship with the United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter of England they went to Scotland for this purpose.


What I found to be of interest and of relevance to this paper is the fact that, faced with such an enquiry the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland was not inclined to say. 'Well, we suggest that you do it just as we do' but took a quite new line. They said: 'if you are now ready to take this step into what is undoubtedly the ancient completion of the Craft steps then we want to suggest that you do what we would like to do if we were able, but are not, and that is to start afresh. We would adopt the following sequence: Mark, Super Excellent Master: Knight of the East; Royal Arch: Knight of the East and West; Grand High Priest or Installation degrees. That. we feel. would more correctlycomplete the masonic story.


It is not fitting for me to comment here on what may or may not be the correctness of this suggestion. All that I can do is remark that in the mind of these senior Scottish Masons there was a place for the degrees after the Craft and the events, especially of the Master Mason's degree, requiring the best possible succession of other steps to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.


That this is not just wilful irresponsibility on the part of the Scots is made abundantly clear by looking at the stance of the older Grand Lodges in regard to other than the normal three degrees. All of them, as we well know, accept that in a significant sense a Master Mason is not really a completed Mason until he has been through the Chair of his lodge. Whether or no such a step is constitutionally regarded as a degree--though every Constitution requires an Installed Master to take an obligation, to receive secrets and to hear some kind of historical explanation of his new status-- this is not in any way thought to be completely unnecessary.


On the contrary the brother who does not proceed to the Chair is usually the odd one out. This is not said in any sense of disparagement of such a decision but the truth of Masonic history is that when a brother has been a Fellow (and was in earlier days also called a Master) of the Craft then he was eligible for the Chair of a true Master Architect (hence the tools of the present 3o) and it was then the case that he could learn about the remaining ;Mason Word' that was the climax of all Freemasonry.


In England in the 18th century, and even in the chapters reluctantly allowed by the Premier Grand Lodge, it was the rule that no one could proceed beyond the Craft unless he had completed the step of occupying the Craft lodge Chair. It was only after 1836 that the significant change was made which allowed 3o Masons to proceed to Exaltation in the Holy Royal Arch Order. This was the natural and logical outcome of the agreement reached between the uniting Grand Lodges by the Act of Union in 1813: 'Pure and Ancient Masonry consists only in the degrees of Craft Masonry together with the Holy Royal Arch.' As far as England was officially concerned a very effective compromise had been reached. The Craft's pre-eminence had been re-affirmed--which meant that the protagonists of the Premier Grand Lodge were vindicated--whilst the place of the Royal Arch as a necessary adjunct to the Craft was recognised--which pleased the members of the Antients Grand Lodge.


Now that the Royal Arch is administered as a separate entity in England, albeit by the same permanent officers, there has to be some recognition that, whatever the 'technical or legal' connection with the Craft may be, those who enter the ‘supreme degree' of the Holy Royal Arch are stepping beyond the bounds known only by those who remain 3o or even just Installed Master Masons. Further, the Royal Arch Mason knows soon enough that he has taken a substantial step forward beyond the three degrees and in any case has three more steps to take before he can encompass the whole of the new Order he has entered. Yet all this, states the Act of Union, is a necessary completion of the Craft. One of the answers to my first question has already been given. The Craft degrees in England are deemed incomplete without at least the exaltation into, and occupying the Chairs of, the Holy Royal Arch.


In Scotland the situation is somewhat different. Following the pattern of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, the Scottish Grand Lodge was for long adamant that Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry consisted of three degrees and no more. They too recognised that the Mastership of a lodge had somehow to be included in that categorical statement but every effort was made to prevent the same thing happening in Scotland that had occurred south of the border. There the activities of the Grand Lodge of the Antients meant that such degrees as Mark Man and Mark Master, Passing the Chair, Super-Excellent Master, Royal Arch and even Orders of Chivalry were all able to be practised on the authority of the Craft lodge warrant. This, they vowed in Scotland, must not happen.


Then the problem arose. Certain very long-standing lodges proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they had the established custom of conferring some kind of Mark ceremony on those who were Fellow of the Craft Masons. It might be done in a Master Masons' lodge but it was an ancient right for all those who had proved themselves to be true Fellows. What could the Grand Lodge of Scotland do? Their decision was made more difficult in that, to avoid the English compromise, there had already been established a Supreme Grand Chapter which had happily taken under its wing the Mark degree. Yet the Grand Lodge could not allow the Grand Chapter to interfere in the life of the Craft Lodges by ruling their Mark ceremonies nor would the old lodges concerned stomach any such interference. The Grand Lodge of Scotland accepted that whatever they professed about the Craft degrees (and the Installation) they now had to countenance the practice of the Mark in some form within and as part of old Craft working. The restriction of the Installation of a Master of a Mark Lodge to the authority of the Supreme Grand Chapter was as far as compromise in that country went.


Again, however, we see that anyone who asks what is the point of the other than Craft degrees has to begin to recognise that even the best intentions of clear-minded Grand Lodges cannot be maintained. There is some point and purpose in the practice of what does not come strictly within the current definition of 'the Craft degrees'.


In Ireland it looks at first as if the ideal situation has been achieved, for the Grand Lodge in that land controls only the Craft degrees and the Installation of a Master. Yet the very reason for the setting up of a Grand Chapter there was because Irish Lodges in the 18th century practised a whole range of degrees under a Craft warrant rather like their cousins, the Antients in England. In order to organise the range of degrees and bring some greater uniformity into Irish Masonry, especially when there were also Encampments and their subsidiary degrees, the Grand Chapter was instituted, but so close had the Craft and other degrees been for so long that it was fully acknowledged in Dublin that there could be no such declaration as had been made in England or Scotland. The Grand Lodge may rule over the Craft degrees but no one pretends that in any way defines the sole importance of that basic branch of Freemasonry. The so-called 'other degrees' are still acknowledged as being important.


We thus find ourselves constitutionally in a situation where no one categorically excludes the non-Craft degrees though there are different views as to how they should be regarded. What remains for  us to do in this presentation is to answer two questions: what has been and should be the continuing core of speculative Freemasonry; and how do the other-than-Craft degrees fit or not into that definition? These are big questions and I can only attempt my own answer to them. It is quite likely that others will have their own views on them and I can only hope that if that is the case we can begin to develop a useful debate. Let us begin to tackle the first issue.




In defining this matter there are, I believe, six stages:


We begin by Joining the team of Masons who are engaged on the building of the temple as envisaged by King Solomon, with the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre. The latter provides not only essential materials but also some labour and in particular a Master-Craftsman who is skilled in forging brass, but also in the planning, designing and overseeing of the whole work. It is into the team which he directs that any new Mason is traditionally recruited and it is to learn the skills that he will be able to wield. and the tools that will enable him to perform, that the new apprentice commits himself by obligation. He soon realises that he is very much part of a team and that he has obligations of care and co-operation towards the other members of his lodge, as well as to the universal society of which he has become a member He is put on his honour to maintain the principles of which he will now increasingly become aware. He is entrusted with his first 'secrets'.


After a suitable interval which represents his apprenticeship, he is considered for fuller admission into the society of Fellows of the Craft. He has to prove himself competent in the work that has already been entrusted to him but he has also to show that he is not only a mere ‘hand' but has a mind that can create. He has to prepare his own pieces of work for building into the temple and at some point that work has to be seen and judged suitable for the sacred purpose for which it is destined--no less than the temple sanctuary. He is told of how: Hiram the Master Architect has divided up the work into different classes of workmen, each under their Overseers or Harodim. He is taught that because the temple is to be constructed ‘in silence on the site' so the work Produced by him and others has to be marked in order that it may. be laid in place without hesitation and also that good work may be rewarded He is even told where to go to receive his wages and how to request them. He is again warned that any who misuse their privileges will be punished and. as in his previous obligation that there are comparable penalties He is even introduced to the various sciences that enable him to be a true Master of the Craft.


His progress in participating in the work at the temple site is such that he is now ready to he considered for a post of management, first as one of the Harodim but thereafter, if judged fit, to be an Architect Master, able to draw designs, lay schemes and manage the government of the work. He is even able to be considered as a possible future Hiram, the widow’s son, but in order to attain that high status he has to have learnt the secrets of a Master Overseer and rules over those who, like himself, have regularly produced marked work according to the plans of the Grand Master of the Work, and become aware of the great responsibility which that demands. He will realise what is still required to complete the temple building and he will be aware not only of the danger of overambition revealed by some Overseers but also of the disastrous results when some of those Overseers overstep the mark. The very Grand Master who is to be their and his pattern is murdered and only properly entombed after being fortuitously discovered. The Grand Master Hiram Abif’s removal from the scene means that a substitute has to be found in order that the Grand Secret within a completed temple can be maintained.


The Mason is now so competent as a ruler that he is selected to be Hiram's replacement and becomes Adoniram. He helps to complete the temple with its final Arch and Solomon can dedicate the edifice assisted by the Priests. Like Jachin and in the presence of many Princes and Rulers, such as his ancestor, Boaz, was, and including the Queen of Sheba. Adoniram joins the Kings in maintaining the Mason’s Word in a sacred chamber beneath the temple and order is maintained amongst the workmen.


Following the death of Solomon. the kingdom is once more divided and eventually - falls to the attacks of the Babylonians. The Grand Secret or Mason's Word is similarly dissipated and lost. The nobility and rulers of Israel are taken into captivity and it is only when Persia conquers Babylon that the opportunity arrives for a return to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Men such as Ezra and Nehemiah undertake the first task and at last a Prince, Zerubbabel, aided by prophets like Haggai, and the priesthood, including Joshua Ben Jozedek, seek to undertake the rebuilding of the temple. They are rebuffed by the local pagan rulers and only after Zerubbabel has appealed successfully to Cyrus can he come back and uncover the sacred chamber and the lost Mason's Word. All who assist the Sanhedrim in this task are made Princes and Rulers.


The ultimate discovery is that the Mason's Word has a threefold form. All those who are deemed worthy of knowing it as Rulers and Princes are made privy to it, and not simply Kings and their intimates as previously. Knowing the Word is of course not enough. Those who know it are expected to exemplify their knowledge by the kind of lives they live in society generally. For their guidance and instruction biblical and historical figures are portrayed and imitation of their good deeds encouraged--just as was recommended when Hiram Abif first suffered. When the good Mason has lived respected and died regretted his whole life is complete.




Beginning of course with the recognition in the above survey that the Apprentice, Fellow Craft and present Master Mason degrees are already there, it can, I hope, be seen how naturally, as in those old Scottish lodges, the Fellow of the Craft led to the Mark Man (receiving your mark) and the Mark Master (taught how to receive wages and present your masterpiece as a keystone), which latter skill meant that you were deemed fit to rule over a Fellowcrafts’ lodge before you became an Excellent Mason as a ruler over a Master Masons' lodge. Having so proved your worth as a ruler you can the better take part in the completion of the temple, though the Most Excellent Master degree fully entitles you to use your keystone masterpiece as part of that final Arch-raising occasion and enables you to appreciate the Arch of the Rainbow which characterises the Royal Ark Mariner degree


You are now about to be admitted to the secrets of the inner chamber of the temple through the veils of the Super Excellent degree, but first the degree of Knight of the East prepares you for the return from the exile and the Royal Arch experience once you have reached Jerusalem. The Royal and Select Masters degrees tell of the trials experienced in seeking to restore the temple and Jerusalem, whilst some of the Allied Degrees complete the story and also belong to the progress to the Arch chairs.


It is as one becomes a complete Ruler and Prince that the degrees of Rose Croix, Knight Templar, Red Cross of Constantine and Royal Order of Scotland have their own lessons to convey, whilst the Knight Templar Priest and the Order of the Secret Monitor provide biblical patterns for our behaviour that we should be honoured to follow. The operative degrees only serve to underline the story of what it is to be a Temple Mason who might eventually become a Grand Master Mason.


If that seems to be fitting the existing degrees to a contrived pattern then I have to say that this is how it may appear because of the form of Freemasonry that followed the early severance of the full Master's Part from the other sections of the original Craft ceremonies. When in 1813 in England, and shortly afterwards in Scotland and Ireland, Grand Lodges sought to limit their activities to what they deemed to be 'the Craft Degrees'. then it was bound to look as if everything else was simply an addition and a doubtful addition at that. What I have been trying to say in this paper is that this is a faulty way of considering the question. To put it another way in the so-called non-Craft degrees we have fuller parts of what was originally the 'whole Craft working’ If you do not participate in the non-Craft degrees then you are actually missing out on some of the original Freemasonry to which you are the rightful heir. That is their point and that is why I for one am so grateful that I was introduced to them. I am, I would claim, a truly instructed and fully fledged Craft Mason. I know where I came from and I know where I have arrived - at the Ne Plus Ultra of the ancient Craft.

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