Original oil painting by Robert H. White, 32°
The 22° marks only the second appearance of the color purple in the regalia of the Rite. Its symbolic meaning is the same as in the 13°, a mixture of spirituality and zeal. It sums up well the basic theme of this Degree: that work is noble in and of itself and that to work in a noble cause is to pray.
The apron is white, lined and bordered in purple. On the body is embroidered a round table on which are mathematical instruments and unrolled plans. There are two likely symbolic meanings of the emblem. First, all who truly labor are equal, no matter what the work nor whether it is physical or mental. In this case, the round table symbolizes equality, as did the round table of King Arthur.
A second meaning is that God, the Creator, graciously allows us to share in His creative spirit. In this case, the circular shape of the table represents Deity, and the plans and mathematical instruments indicate our creative efforts.
On the flap of the apron is a three-headed serpent. The body of the serpent represents idleness, while the three heads represent the vices which are often the result of idleness—drunkenness, impurity, and gaming. This is the second time in the Scottish Rite that the symbol of a serpent with three heads has appeared. It also appears in the 19°, where the heads represent Error, Falsehood, and Intolerance, and the serpent being chained represents the destruction of those vices. Since the serpent does not appear on the regalia of the 19°, it was not mentioned in that Degree's essay.
The Order of the 22nd Degree is a broad, rainbow-colored ribbon, lined with purple. It may be worn as either a collar or a sash. The symbolism of the rainbow is interesting here and probably operates on several levels at once. The rainbow is closely connected with the story of Noah, of course, and the initial of Noah's name appears on the Jewel of the Degree, a golden axe, as one who made use of the cedars of Lebanon for sacred purposes or at divine direction. The rainbow is also a symbol of purity, since it appears only when the air has been washed and purified by the rain. Also, it is a symbol of hope, as it appears after the storm, and a symbol of the covenantal relationship between God and man, deriving from the story of the Flood. A symbol of unity in diversity because it is white light split into its component parts, it is also a symbol of growth and development, as one moves from one color or state of being to the next. And these seven significances compose only part of the rainbow's rich symbolism!
The jewel of the 22° is an axe of gold. In A Bridge to Light, Dr. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross, tells us that the initials on the top are those of Noah and Solomon. Those on the handle are the initials of Libanus and Tsidunian. Those on one side of the blade are the initials of Adoniram, Kuros, Darius, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and Azra, while those of the other side are the initials of Shem, Kham, Yapheth, Moses, Aholiab, and Betselal. The men so memorialized are those who used the cedars of Lebanon under divine guidance.
The central idea of the Degree is the dignity of work and, hence, the ignobility of idleness. The Scottish Rite teaches that each person has a responsibility to be productive, not just in his own life but in the lives of others. Work is not a curse from God; it is one of the greatest blessings He has bestowed on us. When we work, when we are productive, when we create something which was not in the world before, when we find answers to problems, we are partaking in the creative nature of God.
In a beautiful passage, Pike shows that the axe is more noble than the sword, for the sword can be and is used as a means of conquest and subjugation. But in the hands of the pioneer, the axe becomes the instrument for the spread of civilization. Thus the axe is far more likely than the sword to be used as an agent of benefit to humanity.
The Scottish Rite Mason who holds the 22° is pledged to the support of civilization and culture and, above all, to work to assure those goals. As Albert Pike wrote in Morals and Dogma (p. 350):
Masonry seeks to ennoble common life. Its work is to go down into the obscure
and unsearched records of daily conduct and feeling; and to portray, not the
ordinary virtue of an extraordinary life; but the more extraordinary virtue of
ordinary life. What is done and borne in the shades of privacy, in the hard and
beaten path of daily care and toil, full of uncelebrated sacrifices; in the
suffering, and sometimes insulted suffering, that wears to the world a cheerful
brow; in the long strife of the spirit, resisting pain, penury, and neglect,
carried on in the inmost depths of the heart;—what is done, and borne, and
wrought, and won there, is a higher glory and shall inherit a brighter
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.
Illustrations of the Scottish Rite regalia paintings by Brother Robert H. White, 32°, (Twenty-second Degree, Knight Royal Axe, Prince Of Libanus, 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: email@example.com
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 Scottish Rite Research Society bonus book for 2000, Vested in Glory, The Regalia of the Scottish Rite by Ill. Jim Tresner, 33°, G.C., has proved so popular that its softcover version has been sold out. The book is, however, now being reprinted and will soon be available for purchase ($12.50, S/H included). The hardbound version, with color dust jacket, is still available ($25.00). Both books may be ordered now by sending a check (domestic only) payable to the Scottish Rite Research Society to: