Supreme Council, SJ

Skeletons in the Lodge Room

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As we often like to remind our readers, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects materials associated with any and all American Masonic and fraternal groups.  This recent acquisition is a pin that was produced for members of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) in 1905.  The two American Scottish Rite jurisdictions co-exist in the United States.  The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) oversees Scottish Rite groups in fifteen states in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.  The SJ administers Scottish Rite groups in the other 35 states, as well as Washington, D.C. where their headquarters is located.  The NMJ founded the Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1975.

The two jurisdictions don’t always follow the same ritual, but the symbols on this pin were also used by the NMJ during the 1800s and early 1900s.  An illustration in The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, written by Charles McClenachan (1829-1896) in 1867 – who served as Chair of the NMJ’s Ritual Committee from 1882 to 1896 – shows the same skeleton holding a chalice and a banner (at the left side of the illustration - click on it to see a larger version).  This prop was used in the ritual for the fraternity’s honorary 33rd degree ritual. When McClenachan wrote his book in 1867, the Scottish Rite conferred degrees in much the same way as local lodges.  McClenachan’s illustration shows the men wearing sashes over their street clothes.  A few years later, members changed their rituals to theatrical endeavors complete with sets, costumes and props. RARE14.7.M126 1867DP1DB

The shape and materials of this pin were popular among fraternal groups during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The shield shape relates to fraternal symbolism, while the enamel face allowed for colorful and detailed decoration.  The Museum’s collection includes at least one similar pin associated with the NMJ from 1901, while the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection includes several round enamel pins produced for local Knights Templar Commanderies in 1895.

This pin was probably given or sold to attendees of the SJ’s biennial meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 1905.  Along the bottom is the Latin phrase, “Post Tenebras Lux,” which translates to “Light After Darkness.”

Top: Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction pin, 1905, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2014.057.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Bottom: Frontispiece, The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1867, Charles T. McClenachan, author, Masonic Publishing and Manufacturing Company, publisher, New York, New York, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 


Happy 201st Birthday to the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction!

2013_030DI1Today, August 5, 2014, marks the 201st anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (which founded the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1975). A year ago today, we celebrated the momentous occasion of the fraternity’s 200th anniversary – see our posts from last year - here and here. This year, the day is passing more quietly. However, our exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: 200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,” which opened last year, is still on view – for a few more weeks. The exhibition will close on September 27, 2014, so if you haven’t visited, it’s time to plan a trip to the museum. We have one more gallery talk planned in the exhibit. The Museum’s Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, Aimee E. Newell, will offer a free gallery talk on Saturday, September 27, at 2 p.m.

During the official anniversary ceremony last August, in New York City, Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton welcomed his counterpart from the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Ronald Seale. At the festivities, Commander Seale presented Commander McNaughton with a reproduction of the 1813 charter that officially created the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Commander Seale also presented a commemorative glass vase to celebrate the occasion (see above). The vase is currently on view in our lobby as part of our display of recent acquisitions. Engraved on the front is the double-headed eagle emblem of the Scottish Rite with an inscription, “Presented to the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, in honor of its Bicentennial Anniversary 1813-2013 by the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, USA.”

To order a copy of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's recent published history, which the exhibition is based on, visit the NMJ online store.

Vase, 2013, United States, gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 2013.030. Photograph by David Bohl.


Frederick Dalcho's Scottish Rite Rituals from 1801

5.10 SC155_R231DP1DBSome of the earliest and most important Scottish Rite rituals in existence are in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. A number of them are currently on view in Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives in the library's reading room.

The earliest ritual on view is Frederick Dalcho's 1801 version of the 4th degree (Secret Master). Dalcho (1770-1836), a medical doctor who later became an Episcopal minister, was the first Lieutenant Grand Commander of the Charleston Supreme Council (today's Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction), and served as its second Sovereign Grand Commander from 1816 until 1822. The Charleston Supreme Council was founded in 1801, but the degrees of the Lodge of Perfection (4-14) had been worked in Charleston since the founding of the Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection in  1783. Upon its founding, the Charleston Supreme Council began bringing together groups and individual degrees that would eventually become the system of Scottish Rite degrees (4-32, as well as the 33rd) that we know today.

Dalcho's 1801 version of the 4th degree is the closest we can get today to the first degree that a candidate would have encountered upon his entrance into the Scottish Rite during its earliest days. Scottish Rite degrees today are theatrical stage productions, an innovation that did not occur until the late nineteenth century. The ritual degrees of the Scottish Rite for most of the 1800s occurred in rectangular lodge rooms, just like the Craft degrees. In the early days of the Scottish Rite, many of the degrees were merely "communicated" to the candidate, which is to say that they were read and explained to him. If the degree were "conferred, that is, fully acted out by the candidate and members of the lodge, the conferral would have taken place in the same type of room - or possibly exactly the same room - as those of the Craft degrees, complete with props and costumes. (See this previous post to get a sense of what the lodge room for the 4th degree would have looked like in 1867.)

Also on view in Secret Scripts is a 33rd degree ritual, written ca. 1801 in Dalcho's hand. It is, in the words of Arturo de Hoyos, "the earliest thirty-third degree ritual directly traceable to the Scottish Rite." Unlike the 4th degree, the Dalcho 33rd degree ritual contains many corrections and additions, demonstrating that, from its beginnings, Scottish Rite rituals have been evolving and changing.

Be sure to check out our previous posts about other rituals that are also on view in Secret Scripts through February 1, 2014.

 Caption:

4th degree (Secret Master) Scottish Rite Ritual, 1801. Frederick Dalcho, Charleston, South Carolina. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 155-R231. Photograph by David Bohl.


Albert Pike's 1870 33° Ritual

Pike_33rd_page_1_webAlbert Pike (1809-1891), Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 to 1891, revised all of the Scottish Rite degree rituals, including the 33°, during his tenure. A handsomely bound book, containing Pike's reworked version of the 33°, was presented to the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) in 1870. This manuscript version of Pike's 33° ritual is currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room exhibition, Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

The inscription (see below) inside the book reads:

This Copy is most respectfully Presented to the Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S., by special permission of M∴ P∴ Albert Pike, Sov∴ Gr∴  Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, U.S., by RMCGraham, 33° Gr∴ Rep∴, New York, March 19, 1870.

Robert McCoskry Graham (1830-1890) was an Active Member of the NMJ's Supreme Council and Grand Representative from that Supreme Council to the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) from 1867 until his death in 1890. Graham lived in New York City and was actively involved in both the SJ's and NMJ's Supreme Councils.

In June 1870, three months after Graham inscribed the Pike ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council, Albert Pike attended the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's annual meeting, held that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Sovereign Grand Commanders from the NMJ and the SJ regularly attend each other's annual meetings today, Pike observed in 1870 that "It is, I think, the first time when the Grand Commander of one of our Supreme Councils has been present at a session of the other..." Although the 33° was conferred upon fourteen men at the 1870 annual meeting, the NMJ's annual Proceedings from 1870 do not indicate whether the Committee on Rituals had adopted the Pike ritual and whether that was the version of the 33° ritual that was used.

Pike_33rd_inscription_page_webThat Graham would have presented the ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council is unsurprising. Not only was Graham the NMJ's Grand Representative to the SJ's Supreme Council, he was also close friends with Pike. Pike himself wrote the obituary for Graham that was published in the SJ's Official Bulletin. The obituary (later reprinted in Pike's collection of obituaries, Ex Corde Locutiones) is dated March 10, 1891 - less than a month before Pike's own death. Writing about Graham, Pike not only makes it clear that Graham was a friend, but that he was intimately involved with the activities of the Southern Jurisdiction's Supreme Council: "During the last ten years he had regularly been present at our sessions, feeling like one of us, and looked upon by us as one of ourselves, so much so that he sat with us in our confidential sessions, always welcomed and beloved by all."

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction used Pike’s 33° ritual from 1870 until 1880, at which point they adopted Charles T. McClenachan’s revision of Pike’s ritual. A version of this ritual was used until 1938, when the Supreme Council approved a rewritten ritual composed by then-Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin M. Johnson. It is a version of this ritual that the NMJ's Supreme Council still uses today.

For further reading:

de Hoyos, Arturo. “On the Origins of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite Rituals,” Heredom 5 (1996): 51-67. [In this article about how the NMJ assisted in the production of the United Supreme Council (PHA)'s book of Scottish Rite rituals, de Hoyos, using primary sources in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, provides a few concise paragraphs (pp.60-61) on the development of the NMJ's 33rd degree through the nineteenth century.]

Caption:

Albert Pike, Manuscript Ritual for the 33°, 1870, Washington, D.C., Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Collection, R-40.


Beginning the Next 200 Years

Repro Charter SGCs Actives ResizedIf you read our post yesterday, you know that August 5th, 2013, marked the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,  To commemorate that event and to begin the next 200 years, the Supreme Council celebrated in New York City at the Grand Lodge of New York.  Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton welcomed his counterpart from the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Ronald Seale, as well as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York (see the photo below), and many of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Actives and Deputies to New York City.  During a short ceremony,Grand Master of NY with Dignitaries Resized Commander Seale presented Commander McNaughton with a reproduction of the 1813 charter (seen in the photo above).  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library looks forward to continuing to collect material related to the past, present and future of the fraternity.