The Allied Masonic Degrees
The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees which, many years ago, were conferred under Craft Warrants and formed a part of the loosely governed Freemasonry which afterward eliminated all save the three Craft degrees and the Royal Arch. All old references to the Royal Arch were invariably to the "Excellent Super Excellent Royal Arch Masons," which comprised three grades. The Super Excellent has long since been discontinued, save in the veil-working of Irish Royal Arch Chapters, while the Excellent Master is a predicant to the Royal Arch in Scotch Chapters and is worked in English Councils of Royal and Select Masters.
The other degrees, likewise, were worked in Craft Lodges in both America and the British Isles. When Freemasonry discontinued the working of outside degrees, these degrees became practically dormant, although they were perpetuated and finally formed their own supreme heads, in many instances. They were finally together under a governing head and hence the title of "Allied Masonic Degrees;" they have been allied together for mutual benefit and perpetuation.
The working of these degrees in the United States is encouraged, but not required; the blanket obligation of the Council binding the newly invited brother sufficiently. Where it is possible, the Grand Council recommends that some of the degrees be worked each year in order that the members may be fully informed as to the working. The working of the degrees in Europe is central to the Councils, with the newly invited brother being bound to the Council in the Grade of St. Lawrence the Martyr.
Membership in an Allied Council is limited by law to twenty-seven, and then only by invitation. It is predicated upon Royal Arch Masonry.
The Active Grades:
ST. LAWRENCE THE MARTYR
The actual date when this ritual was introduced is not known, but is believed to have been worked in England over two centuries ago. It has been generally accepted that the degree is remnants of an old operative ceremony originating from Lancashire and designed to distinguish true craftsmen from speculative masons. While the degree has little Masonic connection to the Hiramic legend, its interesting legend relates to the martyrdom of St. Lawrence who was afterwards canonized for his fidelity and Christian attributes. However, little of an authentic nature can be said regarding this. Records of the Grade anywhere are extremely rare, and no real early Minute has appeared to shed light on its origins. If this Grade was actually worked in Lancashire, which was near to Grand Lodge activity, it does seem that records would be available and something a bit more definite obtainable. The main lesson of the degree is fortitude.
The ceremony relates neither to the First or Second Temple, nor to Masonic Chivalry. It is interesting in its simplicity and has a little-heard-of legend, which is pleasing to examine and of merit. The very peculiarity of the Grade marks it different and is perhaps the ground upon which the operative origin is claimed.
The actual figure of St. Lawrence is a shadowy figure of the early Roman church. It has been said of the traditional stories about St. Lawrence that they portray, not the man, but the ‘typical figure of a martyr’. It is known that he was one of the seven deacons of Rome, and that he was martyred there four days after Pope Sixtus II (also canonized) in 258 AD. He was allegedly buried in the cemetery on the road to Tivoli, where the church of St. Lawrence-outside-the-Walls now stands. Traditional legend claims his martyrdom was being put to death by being roasted on a grid. It is more likely that in fact he was beheaded, as St. Sixtus was. Scholars are not wholly in agreement about how much credence can be given to such particulars about St. Lawrence as are given by St. Ambrose, the poet Prudentius, and others. His veneration dates from the fourth century, and he was considered as one of the most famous martyrs of the city of Rome. With St. Sixtus he is named in the canon of the Roman Mass. His feast day is 10 August. His emblem is a gridiron.
This Grade is the administrative Degree that English and European Councils work in when transacting and conducting business. It is the only Grade of these councils that also has a chair Degree, that of Installed Worshipful Master. New members receive this Grade upon reception into an Allied Masonic Degree council, generally along with the Degrees of Knight of Constantinople and Grand Tiler of Solomon. Miniature jewels for the various Degrees are worn on the left breast, a miniature jewel being added for each additional Degree. While a member may not receive all the Grades of the Allied Masonic Degrees, he must be in possession of the Grade of St. Lawrence the Martyr in order to be seated in the Council meetings.
In the American Councils, the Degree is not as often exemplified as the other AMD Degrees. With the mutual recognition of the various Grand Councils in the United States and Europe, this Degree becomes much more important as does the Degree of Installed Worshipful Master.
The Jewel of the Grade is a silver gridiron, suspended from a ribbon, orange in the center and royal blue on either side. The Jewel of a Past Master is a silver gridiron enclosed in a silver circle.
The Apron of the Grade is white, with the orange and blue border, and containing a gridiron in the center.
The Collar of the Grade is approximately four inches in width, orange in the center and blue on either side.
KNIGHT OF CONSTANTINOPLE
This Degree is an authentic ‘side degree’, where it was customary for one brother to confer it on another and while it is known to have been working in the United States in 1831, its actual origin is unknown. The ritual attempts to connect the legendary Constantine with the Masonic fraternity and teaches a fine lesson in universal equality and humility; it also incorporates a suggestion of operative influence in an extensive lecture that also imbues the lesson of justice.
In 1865, Major F. G. Irwin introduced this Grade to several English brethren in Devonport, England. Amongst those who received the ceremony at that time was Brother W. J. Hughan, the noted Masonic writer. Hughan states that Brother Irwin received the Grade in Malta and organized it in Devonport and Plymouth, in both of which places it was worked many years after the England Grand Council A.M.D., was formed. In the United States, organized records are available as early as January 14, 1892.
There is a bare possibility that the Knight of Constantinople is traceable, in legend, to the same source as, or directly from, the Red Cross of Constantine. This is stated in face of the fact that the two Grades have nothing in common save the characters found in each. Yet, it appears likely that knowledge of these two characters in a Masonic setting would be necessary for the invention of the Knight of Constantinople.
As stated earlier, the Ritual of this Grade teaches a beautiful lesson in humility and should be carefully studied by every Brother of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Ritual used is identical in the United States and England.
The Jewel of the Grade is a Maltese Cross, surmounted by a Crescent, in gold, suspended from a green ribbon, on which are three poignards, in gold. This jewel, like the others, is to be worn as a breast jewel.
The Apron of the Grade is white, trimmed with green, having a Maltese Cross surmounted by a Crescent in the center; while on the flap appears the three poignards, all of which is in green.
GRAND TILERS OF SOLOMON
This interesting Grade was formerly known under the titles of "Mason Elect of the Twenty-Seven" or "Select Mason of the 27," and is found in many different countries, although records are by no means abundant. There can be little doubt that this Grade and the Grade of "Select Master" owe their origin to a common source. In his Masonic Orations, published in 1803, Frederick Dalcho mentions that in addition to the regular degrees and among those mentioned is "Select Master of 27." Elsewhere there is mention of "Select Mason of the 27" indicating that the Grade which we now work as "Grand Tiler of Solomon" is or very close resemblance to the present-day "Select Master."
Early evidence of the Grade is contained in History of the Cryptic Rite, where is reproduced a diploma issued by Moses Cohn to Abraham Jacobs, dated November 9th, 1790, which in addition to some of the regular Grades of the Rite of Perfection, mentions the "Select Mason of Twenty-Seven." There are also other references to such a Grade at an early date.
The Jamaica Ritual, purporting to have been used by Morin in the West Indies in the eighteenth century, is yet available for study and indicates a close adherence to the present working of the Allied Grade, while at the same time it indicates a direct line to the Select Master. However, following the trend of thought here introduced, the origin of the one Grade would be the birth of the other and the two Grades, while somewhat different today, indicated formerly one Grade. The Allied Grade merely holds to older working and has not been amplified and changed by too many hands. It appears to be old work.
Thus, it is evident that the Grade is an American product and these records are the earliest yet found of its working. The Ritual now used is identical in both the United States and England, and is a product of late 19th century American ritualists. The Grade was conferred on the Earl of Euston, the Grand Master of Allied Masonic Degrees in England, in 1893 and accordingly it was incorporated under that Grand Council. The Ritual is of deep interest to those who really understand early Ritual and the environs in which it was created. Many lessons may be found in simple and easily explained ceremonies of this period.
The Jewel of the Grade is a black delta, edged with gold, pointed downward, containing in the center "27" in Hebrew characters. On the reverse appears the Tetragrammaton in the Kabalistic Order. The Jewel is suspended from a scarlet ribbon, edged with pale gray, on which is a hand grasping a sword and surmounted by three crowns.
The Apron of the Grade is of black, with gold border. In the center is a gold crown, while on the flap in gold, is a hand grasping a sword.
The Sash of the Grade is approximately four inches in width; scarlet in the center, with pale gray on either side thereof.
The Grade of Excellent Master, or Excellent Mason as it was known in its earlier working, is of such age as to confuse us in estimating just how old it is. It is almost safe to state that it is as old as is Royal Arch Masonry, because it has always formed a part thereof. Even in the United States it is mentioned as early as 1769, when in St. Andrew’s Chapter, Boston, a Brother was "made by receiving the four steps, that of an Excellt., Sup.-Excellt., Royll. Arch and Kt. Templar."
Until the first quarter of the 20th Century, the Excellent was never worded alone; it was always with the Super Excellent and Royal Arch. Later, when this most beautiful method of work was abandoned almost everywhere, the title was changed to "Excellent Master," the ritual reworked and in Scotland was placed as the immediate predicant of the Royal Arch. It is not worked elsewhere today, save in the Allied Councils of the United States. Ireland has preserved some of both the Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master in her veil-working in the Royal Arch, but the formal ceremonies are a thing of the past.
The origin of the American Royal Arch did not cause a wide swept discontinuance of the older form of working. The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia used the old form, and even chartered Chapters as "Excellent Super Excellent" well into the 19th Century. The very abundance of early records and Minutes makes unnecessary its transcription as we are all familiar with the antiquity of the Excellent Master and its significance to Royal Arch Masonry.
The Ritual used in the United States is the Scottish work, unchanged. It is a beautiful ceremony, and almost necessary to the Royal Arch. Having passed the three veils in Babylon, there is necessity at Jerusalem only to enter the fourth, or White, Veil. It is a simple and beautiful method of working.
The Jewel of the Grade is the Pentegram, in gold, suspended from a scarlet ribbon.
The Apron of the Grade is white, with a scarlet border, containing in the center a gold pentegram.
The Collar of the Grade is approximately four inches wide and of scarlet color.
MASTERS OF TYRE
The Grade of Master of Tyre is a modern one, originating in North Carolina, USA, and is no doubt the product of the fertile minds of the Masonic brethren in the western area of that state; they being the originators of the Allied Masonic Degrees themselves. It does not appear in any of the early rituals of that body, and was later incorporated into the working along with the Grades of Superintendent, Architect, and Grand Architect.
It was worked initially under the title "Masons of Tyre," with the idea being to function as a separate body of Freemasonry, the initial qualifications of membership requiring only good standing in the Craft. The organization was to operate under the direction of a Supreme Quarry, whose function was only to coordinate and charter new Quarries of the body. Problems arose with the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, which viewed the body as an alternate Masonic organization that encroached on the sovereignty of the Grand Lodges jurisdiction. To avoid any further dissension, the organization placed itself under the government of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States.
The degree is somewhat awkward, being set around long lectures, which detract somewhat from the central lesson of the degree. The emphasis on the Tyrian connection of Masonry, however, makes it unique from the perspective of the majority of Masonic degrees. The main lesson taught is duty.
The Apron of the Grade is in the form of a triangle and is royal purple, edged with gold.
The Jewel of the Grade is a Square and Compasses, containing in the center a crown, and at the tips of the Compasses and the apex of the Square three interlaced triangles containing the letters "M," "O," and "T," suspended from a purple ribbon.
The Grade of Architect is the first of a trilogy of Grades expanding upon the Solomonic lessons of architecture. The structure of the degree is Continental in character, resembling certain Rites of the French and German grades, but incorporating the use of trestleboards as used in English and Scottish Masonry. Not surprisingly, it is first found attached to the Early Grand Rite of Scotland under the same name, as the VII° of the Blue Series. It is noteworthy in its interpretations as "extensions" or elaboration of the Master Mason degree. For this reason, it is assumed, it is not practiced or sanctioned by the English Masonic bodies, appearing only in the American and French variants of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Grade was attached to the Grand Council of the AMD of the United States as an Active Grade in 1934.
The actual degree itself is rather short, with the work resembling that performed in Craft Masonry. The lecture or explanation, however, takes the form of catechism between the principal officers. The ritual is also punctuated with excessive circumabulations and floorwork, which if followed verbatim as prescribed by ritual would make the Grade most unworkable. The use of extensive paraphernalia and properties also mark this Grade with the affinities exhibited by many of the early Rites, which required large auditorium settings with elaborate backdrops. This places it at a disadvantage, as exemplification of the work requires greater amounts of preparation and staging.
The Jewel of the Grade is a flaming star, containing the letter "G," all of which is within a triangle, in gold.
The Apron of the Grade is white, edged in deep red.
The Sash of the Grade is deep red, approximately four inches wide. It is worn from the right shoulder, resting on the left hip.
The Grade of Grand Architect is a continuation sequence of the Architect Grade. It is found first in the Early Grand Rite of Scotland under the same name, as the VIII° of the Blue Series. It is a continuation of the Solomonic legends of architecture, which seek to impose the ideal of an increasingly select and secretive body of craftsmen performing work upon the Solomonic Temple. It is now only practiced in the American and French Grand Councils of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The Grade was attached as an Active Grade to the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States in 1934.
This degree is similar in concept and practice to its companion Grade, that of Architect, sharing the same flaws. It is actually even more cumbersome in the execution of its floorwork, and requires equally extensive paraphernalia and properties. The Grade is therefore seldom worked, as for the candidate to fully appreciate the Grade; it should be exemplified at the same time as the Grades of Architect and Superintendent.
The Jewel of the Grade is double triangle, formed a pair of compasses and a level.
The Apron of the Grade is whited, edged with blue.
The Sash of the Grade is blue, approximately four inches wide. It is worn from the right shoulder, resting on the left hip.
The Grade of Superintendent is somewhat of an enigma. It is clearly related to the Grades of Architect and Grand Architect, indeed, it is the climax of the latter, but was not one of the Grades of the Early Grand Rite of Scotland. Research into that body has failed to establish any connection, the IX° of that Rite’s Blue Series was worked as "Master of the Blue," and pertained to one of the tests of wisdom between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Neither is it found under the Rite’s Red, Black, Green, or White Series; where it would be most inappropriate in any case. Thus we are left with the frustrating mystery of a Grade which appears to be a ne plus ultra in the Solomonic architecture. Whatever the case may be, it is a fitting tribute to the other Grades, and rightly deserves a place in the Allied Masonic Degrees.
Being of similar character and style as the Grades of Architect and Grand Architect, it also shares the flaws of those two Grades. The ritual would take several hours to confer if all signs, circumbulations, and raps were observed. The properties required are also more extensive and elaborate. For those Brethren who have the fortune of witnessing the work, however, it will be appreciated that the preparations are well worth the results.
The Jewel of the Grade is a Triangle.
The Apron of the Grade is white, edged in purple.
The Sash of the Grade is purple, approximately four inches wide. It is worn from the right shoulder, resting on the left hip.
Regalia of the AMD Degrees 1
Regalia of the AMD Degrees 2
Regalia of the AMD Degrees Masters
Allied Masonic Degree Honors