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Seventeenth Degree, Knight Of The East And West

Jim Tresner, 33°, Grand Cross
PO Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044–0070

Photo: Oil painting by Bro. Robert H. White, 32°

It depends to some extent on how it is presented, but this can be one of the most powerful and profound of the Degrees of the Rite. Here we encounter raw spiritual energy in the words of the Book of Revelations, and we begin to glimpse the spiritual power which is available to every man and woman who decides to be open to it and to become a power for good.

The apron (right) reverses the colors of the 16°, with the body of the apron being yellow (dawn and breaking light) and the trim of red (zeal and faith). Both the apron body and the flap are triangular, symbol of the Deity. The body of the apron is decorated with the Tetractys, formed of 10 Yuds (a character of the Hebrew alphabet and the first letter of the Tetragammaton). They are symbolic of the ten manifestations of God (Sephiroth) found on the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah and, thus, symbolic of God's action in the creation and maintenance of the universe.

There are two cordons, one of black and one of white, which are worn from shoulder to hip, the white from right to left and the black from left to right. They symbolize duality—night-day, male-female, mercy-severity, etc.—just as do Jachin and Boaz. The fact that they cross each other suggests the union of opposites or equilibrium.

The crossing of the cordons relates to another possible symbolism. In crossing, they form an X, a shape also known as the Cross of St. Andrew. It is an ancient symbol for change or transformation, probably deriving from that point in the heavens at which the celestial equator crosses the plane of the ecliptic. The shape is seen in ancient painting and statuary, associated with time and change, and came to represent transformation in much the same way the circle came to symbolize stability.

And change or transformation is a major theme of the 17°, precursor to the 18° as its central character, John the Baptist, was precursor to the central (if unseen) character of the 18°, Jesus of Nazareth.

Thus the crossed cordons may serve as a symbolic alert to the theme of transformation—in this case the transformation of vital but unrefined spiritual power into the focused spirituality of the Law of Love.

The jewel of the Degree is a heptagonal (seven-sided) medal, made half of gold and half of silver or mother of pearl. The combination symbolizes the sun and the moon, Osiris and Isis, the power which creates and the power which nurtures—again, the same symbolism as in Jachin and Boaz.

In the center on the front is an engraving of a lamb resting on a book with seven seals. On each seal is an initial of the name of one of the last seven Sephiroth, and in the angles of the jewel the initials are repeated. It should be noted that this book with seven seals is not the Bible's Book of Seven Seals, which only Christ was worthy to open. But it's important to remember that this Degree, which features John the Baptist as a major character, immediately precedes the Eighteenth Degree in which the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are prominent and the New Law of Love is announced. As John the Baptist was seen as a precursor to Jesus of Nazareth, so the front of the jewel is a signal that this Degree concerns itself with the raw spirituality preached by John, which is to be refined and focused in the teachings of the Nazarene.

The back of the jewel is a balance scale in equipoise. On the pans rest the hilts of two swords which cross. They thus from a Cross of St. Andrew, symbol of change and transformation long associated in medieval and renaissance art with the coming of the Messiah "who shall make all things new." This Degree, then, provides a sort of spiritual jolt or jump start in preparation for the transformation, refinement, and redefinition which is to come.

Also, please click here for information regarding a new book on the Scottish Rite's regalia.

Jim Tresner
is Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute and Editor of the
Oklahoma Mason. A frequent contributor to the Scottish Rite Journal and its book review editor, Illustrious Brother Tresner is also a volunteer writer for the Oklahoma Scottish Rite Mason and a video script consultant for the National Masonic Renewal Committee. He is the Director of the Thirty-third Degree Conferral Team and Director of Work at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma, as well as a life member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, author of Albert Pike, The Man Beyond the Monument, and a member of the steering committee of the Masonic Information Center. In 1997, Ill. Tresner was awarded the Grand Cross, the Scottish Rite's highest honor. His latest book is Vested in Glory, The Regalia of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

Scottish Rite Regalia Photos And Prints

Illustrations of the Scottish Rite regalia paintings by Brother Robert H. White, 32°, (Seventeenth Degree, Knight of the East and West painting pictured above) are available in two formats:

(1) individual 8" x 12" or 11" x 14" color photographs and
(2) grouped photos in a color 22" x 33" poster.

To order individual photographs, please contact Brother Bruce A. Dehlin, K.D. Enterprises, 10114 Farmington Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030–2049. Credit cards accepted. Tel. (703) 591–5318; Fax: (703) 591–6026; e-mail:

To order color posters picturing all the regalia paintings, Fourth through Thirty-third Degrees, including the K.C.C.H. and Grand Cross, use VISA or MasterCard or send a check (domestic only) for $20.00 payable to The Supreme Council, 33°, S.J., USA to: Grand Executive Director's Office, 1733 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009–3103


 The above written article was copied from the Supreme Council of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA's website.


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