Mysteries upon Mysteries within the Mark Master Degree.
Dear Unknown Friend,
This was my presentation at the recent Mark Master Degree of Utah Chapter No. 1 RAM. Posted by request.
When you arrived this evening, as Master Masons you stood at the threshold of the higher mysteries of Masonry. Having now been advanced to the Degree of Mark Master, you have crossed that threshold. I do not say this casually, for in partaking in this Degree, you have entered into a matter that has invigorated and hounded the Craft since 1717. As Brother Lawrence Dermotts recollects it (and I am quoting here from F. P. de Castells Origin the Masonic Degrees – Page 86):
some joyous companions (not the difference, not Brothers) having passed through the Craft Degrees, though very rusty, resolved in 1717 to set up a new Masonic organization, and for this endeavor by conversation to recollect what had formerly been dictated to them; and failing such recollection to substitute something new, which might for the future pass for Masonry and it was resolved that the deficiency should be made up, with a new composition utilizing what fragments of the old order could still be found among them.Â
As a Master Mason, you have only been told a small part of the story. We all know the story of Hiramic Legend and the building of the Temple; but the second part, some five hundred years later in the narrative under different Masters during the rebuilding, and the joyous discoveries there found was largely forgotten. Our predecessors could not recall what happened next, and with the records of English Lodges lost to the Great Fire, there was no way to reclaim Masonry and through contrivance you have been left at the door of the Lodge, with nothing more than a substitute.
You see my companions, the Master Mason degree as organized by PGL was incomplete. The mysteries of Accepted Masons were not known to them some even speculate that Anderson purposely destroyed them at St. Paul’s Lodge. But whether by accident or will, our predecessors had no way to reclaim the later legend, and therefore no way to pass it down to you. It wasn’t until some renegade Irish Lodges set about to share what was lost, that the door could be opened.
Following that, we are here today, ushering you across that threshold into a current of Masonry from which the Blue Lodge takes its origin, its cues, and its composition in all forms, and yet of which it is utterly ignorant. Thus my Brothers, you have crossed into the higher mysteries of Masonry.
Schawe’s Statutes makes mention of a Masons Mark, so we know that our operative Brethren made use of a mark, at least as far back as 1598 in Scotland. The statute reads
â€œthat no Master or Fellowcraft is to be received or admitted, except in presence 6 Masters and 2 Entered Apprentices, the Warden of the Lodge being one of the sic, the date thereof being orderly book, and his name and mark insertedâ€.
These are a few but among a vast number of references to the practice of the Mark, and its use prior to the Master Mason degree known to us today. And so to the mysteries lost to our esteemed processors I welcome.
But there is another mystery, one concerned not with the practice of the Mark, but encapsulated within the legend of the degree itself. The use of a Masons Mark is very old, a practicing dating back well into hallowed antiquity. But the point when Accepted Masons entered into the equation makes for us a new point of inquiry into this degree, and the higher mysteries. The Mark book of Aberdeen Lodge (1670) is where we start this journey. In it find the first Accepted â€“ non-operative – Masons receiving the Mark. It records 49 names, the bulk of which aren’t operative. 45 of which affixed marks.
The mysteries of Accepted Masonry, and I would point out that Accepted Masonry has no secrets: secrets are only facts/procedures/practices or doctrines kept privately for personal motive since these facts/procedures/practices/doctrines are able to be understood and put into practice by anyone. A mystery is a spiritual event, comparable to birth and death. It is a change of ones entire spiritual, emotional, mental, and religious motivations, it prompts a change in perception.Â
As I was sayingâ€¦ The mysteries of Accepted Masonry, are started upon with this Degree. The journey wherein you explore, change or affirm your entire spiritual, emotional, and mental motivations. My companions compare the tools of this Degree with the mystery, to the meaning of a mystery: the Engraverâ€™s Chisel and the Mallet used to make a long and lasting impression on your future life and conduct: a mystery, a change to your spiritual, emotional, mental, and religious future.
The legend of the drama of this degree puts you upon a path our operative Brothers knew nothing of. The stone that the builders rejected is at once the beginning and end of this journey, and permeates throughout the story
This is no accident. The triune nature of the legend (alpha-substances-omega), the stone that the builders rejected itself, the movement from square work to circular work, all this speaks of a greater mystery â€“ the mystery our joyous companions find five hundred years advanced from the narrative we have demonstrated for you tonight. Â And it is at that point that we hope to one day find you, exalted.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you for attending tonight – new companions, and the cast. To our new companions however, I would like to especially say that it is a joy to meet you all here at the beginning, and I wish you all well on your Masonic journey.