If you follow the My Journey portion of this blog, then you may be aware that I was asked to be a member of the VMAP Committee at the Valley of Pasadena Scottish Rite. One of the components of VMAP was to launch and maintain a Master Craftsman Study Group. We held a planning meeting on January 23rd to determine how we wanted the group to work. The brothers in attendance determined that it would be best to begin with the first course and work through each quiz, one per month.
The first Master Craftsman Course: Symbolic Lodge covers the Blue Lodge degrees utilizing the book: Albert Pike’s Esoterika: The Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry and sections from Arturo DeHoyo’s Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide (3rd Edition). The course can be purchased here for $60 and includes Esoterika.
Although this course is administered through the Scottish Rite Supreme Council-Southern Jurisdiction, anyone can take it. However, our Valley has determined that we will be restrictive in our group membership. Because Esoterika covers the development and symbolism of Blue Lodge Masonry, we have decided to allow all Master Masons regardless of Scottish Rite affiliation to join our study group. This will enhance their Masonic Education at the Blue Lodge and allow us as Scottish Rite Masons to better mentor our Blue Lodge brethren.
We also established the following schedule of meetings, which are not mandatory by any means. The purpose of the meetings are to review and discuss the reading and quizzes prior to submitting them together. Brothers unable to attend can join our Google or Facebook groups to interact with other Brethren, and they can turn their quizzes into the office at the Pasadena Scottish Rite Cathedral.
Valley of Pasadena Master Craftsman Study Group meets in the Library of the Scottish Rite Cathedral on the First Saturday after Stated Meeting, directly after the Knights of St. Andrew’s Stated Meeting (approximately 1130am-130pm).
Date Session Topic
February 2, 2016 Begin Master Craftsman I
March 5, 2016 Turn in Quiz 1 Early Freemasonry
Due to several brethren likely gone for Valley of Guthrie’s Reunion March 31-April 3 and for the Leadership Retreat that same weekend. We will move April to the second Saturday.
April 9, 2016 Turn in Quiz 2 Early Masonic Rituals (Part 1)
May 7, 2016 Turn in Quiz 3 Early Masonic Rituals (Part 2)
June 4, 2016 Turn in Quiz 4 Title Uncertain
July 2, 2016 Turn in Quiz 5 Title Uncertain
August 6, 2016 Turn in Quiz 6 Title Uncertain
September 7, 2016 Turn in Quiz 7 Title Uncertain
November 5, 2016 Begin Master Craftsman II
On February 2nd, we had our first meeting of the Valley of Pasadena Master Craftsman Study Group. The meeting followed the Knights of St. Andrew stated meeting, beginning promptly at 11:45am. In attendance were Ill. Bro. Bill Rook, Sir Knight Steven Klein, and KSAs Keith Douglas Kramer, Jeff Gambino, Michael Schneider, and myself. We also had a few brothers there in spirit.
Esoterika pp. xvii-xliii and 75-88, as well as Ritual Monitor and Guide pp. 75-93.
Some of what the assigned reading will cover:
There are two schools of research on Freemasonry. You’re going to read about the differences between the two.
- One focuses on historiagraphic research, like the work of Masonic scholars like Arturo DeHoyos and Brent Morris, who use more academic methods. This would be like reading a college textbook on Archaeology.
- The other kind of research is not so rigorous. It tends to do a lot of speculation on coincidences that may not be relevant or reflect reality. Books from this vein include those like the Hiram Key and anything about Templar or Egyptian connections and origins. Compared to a textbook on Archaeology, this is like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or the Mummy.
You will learn some of Pike’s history and discover that he meets another important Albert from Masonic history in March of 1853: Albert G. Mackey communicated to him his 4th through 32nd degrees. Then, from 1854-1855, he transcribed those rituals and bound them in Formulas and Rituals.
- These were the rituals Pike went through. They were modified from French rituals and revised between 1822-25. He reworked these degrees, adding the ethical and philosophical truths that he believed were originally intended. Mackey called this his Magnum Opus, though it was not adopted for use
Pike saw a twofold purpose to the ceremonies. The first was not unique to Freemasonry: communicating moral instruction. But the second, Pike suspected was to be where the true secrets of freemasonry lay, the symbolism: the moral, philosophical, and religious.
- Something very important to understand about the symbols, were not to mistake the symbol for that which it symbolized.
- Pike writes, “But unless the symbol conceals some great cardinal truth, of morality, philosophy or religion, what is its real and substantial value? It is only those symbols which masonry has inherited from the ancient ages, and which in those ages taught the great truths of philosophy and religion to the few adepts, that are of any value to Freemasonry” (p. 79, Introduction to Esoterika).
Pike found congruence between Freemasonry and other mysteries: Alchemy, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, because the men who studied these brought them to Freemasonry. He wrote, “To these men we owe, I believe, the Master’s Degree.”
He could not find proof of the story of HA or the Master’s degree prior to 1723, and before that there was another similar legend that prevailed, and it may be that story (which also has a raising) where the origin of the ancient master’s word resides.
You will read in DeHoyos’ about the first uses of the word Freemason as both a name and title, or occupation, as well as the etymology of the word, as it pertains to Masonry. Was it what they worked with or how they worked?
You will read some of the oldest manuscripts available, some of which describe the structure of Operative Freemasonry and earliest use of Master’s word.
Finally, you’re going to read the Edinburgh Register House Manuscript and write about points of similarity and differences compared to the degrees we do now. What is familiar or unfamiliar?
Please join us on March 5 around 11:30am at the Library in the Pasadena Scottish Rite Cathedral to discuss the reading of the first section and review the quiz!