Secret Societies of All Ages: Vol 2 - Charles Heckethorn

VIII. Grand Master Architect

408. Ceremonial.—In this, the twelfth degree of the ancient Scotch rite, the chapter, or lodge, represents the Temple of Solomon in three compartments. The first to the west, hung with white, is the vestibule. On its northern side is the tomb of Hiram, also white; to the south stands the Brazen Sea. The centre of the lodge, divided from the vestibule by a white, and from the Holy of Holies by a red, curtain represents the interior of the temple. On its floor is the Scotch carpet, showing the three walls round the temple; to the north of the carpet stands the golden table with the shewbread, to the south the candlestick with seven branches. The altar of incense is placed on the carpet itself, and above it hangs the Blazing Star, strongly illuminated. The east is the Holy of Holies. In the centre is an altar, raised on seven steps; the altar represents the ark of the covenant, on which are placed two cherubims, surmounted by the sign of the glory of God, consisting of a transparent disc, having in its centre a triangle, inscribed with 7, 7, 74. The perpetual holy fire burns in a vase on the ark. Eighty-one lights burn on the steps, which, however, are lighted up only when the candidate is to be shown the light of the Holy of Holies. The Master sits at a small table, with a red cloth, and having on this the word of the Order and the vestment of the candidate. The brethren wear an apron embroidered and lined with red. From a sash, worn from the right shoulder to the left hip, the pentagon is suspended, or a gold medal, on both sides of which are engraved the orders of architecture. The master is called "The Most Powerful Grand Architect," the two wardens are called "Ancient Scotch Grand Masters," and the brethren "Perfect Architects."

The usual questions and answers are put at the opening of the lodge. Here are a few of them:

"Where does the Most Powerful Grand Architect dwell?"

"In the east, in the Holy of Holies."


"That he, being placed close to the fountain of all light, may point out to the brethren the way by which they may emerge from darkness into light."

"How is this done?"

"By opening the temple; by advice, direction, and examination of the work of the Scotch Architects."

"Give me the password."

"Zididiac, or Zedekiah." Occasionally it is "Rabacim."

"Give me the holy word."

The brethren form a chain to the Grand Master, and whisper the word into each other's ears. We shall presently see what it is. The questions are continued:

"What hour is it?"

"The first hour of the last day of the last year in which Solomon's temple was finished."

The brethren hold up their swords and greet one another by crossing them; then rest them on their left arms, take off their hats, kneel down, and during the prayer that follows make the Grand Scotch sign, i.e. the hand at the forehead. The prayer being over, the brethren rise, put on their hats, and the lodge is declared to be open for the reception of the candidate, who is introduced with a great deal of ceremony, being blindfolded, wearing the master's apron, and slippers on his feet, and whom the Grand Master of Ceremony declares to be a Hiramite, called by the unanimous voice of the Ancient Scotch to become a perfect Architect, to assist in building up the Holy of Holies. He is made to kneel with his right knee on a stool in front of the tomb or coffin, where he is catechised as to his intentions, and all being satisfactory, he is led five times, and then again seven times round the apartment, and finally his eyes are unbandaged, the tomb of Hiram is pointed out to him, as also the letter G in the Blazing Star, which letter stands for "Gnosis," the "inheritance of Perfect Architects." Then ensues a good deal more catechising and lecturing, and finally the new brother has to take the oath, which binds him, however, to nothing more than to secrecy, and the fulfilment of certain moral duties. The members again go through a number of evolutions round or on the carpet; their swords are drawn, held up, crossed, and sheathed again. Then the candidate has his eyes bandaged again; the brethren kneel down, their faces being turned to the Holy of Holies, in which the eighty-one lights are now lighted; the curtain is drawn up, a handful of powder is thrown on the altar of incense, and the bandage taken off the candidate's eyes; the Grand Master makes an edifying moral speech, the brethren flourish their swords, and forming a circle bring them as much as possible in a point over the new brother's head, who is now declared a Perfect Ancient Scotch Architect, touched with the sword on the right and left shoulder, the breast and the back, and the sword is then handed to him by the Grand Master, who concludes with another long speech. As the candidate naturally expects to be let into some kind of secret, he is told that the holy word is "Jehovah," which however is never pronounced out of the Holy of Holies. There is also the word "Gomer," but its meaning is not explained.

Such is an outline of the twelfth degree of the Ancient Scotch rite. It reminds me of what Lessing, the celebrated German author, said after he had been made a Mason. The master having expressed a hope that Lessing had found nothing against the state, religion, and morals in the Order, Lessing replied, "No, I wish I had, for then I should have found at least something!"