The Rite Word - Articles

The Rite Word is an official publication of the Valley of San Jose, Orient of California of the A.A.S.R. of Freemasonry, published monthly except July and August, at the San Jose Scottish Rite Center, 2455 Masonic Drive, San Jose, CA 95125.  Phone # 408-978-7483

From the Venerable Master (September 2018)

posted Sep 3, 2018, 6:20 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

September is the first of several months, which, when you consider their name-roots, are out of place.  September through December, their names would imply, are the seventh through the tenth months.  A quick glance at the calendar, however, tells you that such is not the case. 


Of course, these months were initially named from a lack of creativity anyway - the first sixth months having been named for Roman gods.  It seems the Romans either ran out of gods, or just didn’t seem to care that much, and simply called the last four, “Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten”.  You will know, I’m sure, that the Roman calendar began with only ten months.  July and August were added late in the Roman period, to honor Julius and Augustus Caesar.  This, of course, pushed the lackadaisically named last four months into the realm of the nonsensical.  We have much to thank the Romans for, but quite obviously, they had their limitations.


So here we are in September.  School is back in, and there is more traffic on the roads.  Vacations are over.  It is back to reality for adults and children alike.  Masonry picks up again, after having been dark for a while, at least in a few organizations.  And now we hurtle toward the end of the year – Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

We in the San Jose Scottish Rite have accomplished a lot this year, including our huge presence in the Statewide Reunion.  Most recently we held our fun and successful Festive Board in honor of our Grand Master. 


The rest of the year will be no exception.  This month we have a trip to Alcatraz, on September 8, and a visit to the Steinbeck Center in Salinas on September 22.  We will see a number of other great activities throughout the year.  Please join us for all the fun and fellowship.


We look forward to our Fall Reunion, coming up in November.  Be active in talking to your Masonic brethren about the benefits of becoming Scottish Rite Masons, and encourage them to join.


I hope to see you all at our Stated Meeting on September 11.


From the Wise Master (September 2018)

posted Sep 3, 2018, 6:17 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

                A PAST MASTER’S VIEW

The Worshipful Master extended to me an invitation to provide an article in this month’s Trestle Board. Of course, I said yes as it was his will and pleasure. I have chosen this opportunity to once again briefly ponder on my definition of Freemasonry and a few thoughts on the Masonic initiatic experience. So here we go.

“Freemasonry is a modern - day Mystery School which, through its’ progressive, moral science, is a              transformational experience taking an initiate from darkness to light through its ancient teachings and the practice of the lessons inculcated in it”.

I have always found the idea that Masonry is an organization that “allows good men to become better men” unsatisfactory. It seems to me it could just as well apply to the Rotarians or many other worthy groups who do good work.  I think the definition I proffer implies a more spiritual journey and I believe that Masonic mystic teachings offer an ideal path to follow to find further light.

With that in mind, I think each of us should assess the initiatic experience we provide to a duly and truly qualified candidate for our mysteries.

Is it possible to provide this experience in 90 to 180 days which is rather typical of most modern lodges? I think not. It reminds me of the “90-day wonder”. This phrase refers to a past military practice of creating second lieutenants in three months during WW II. I do not see Masonry facing this kind of urgency so why the rush? Any good or great undertaking, like fine wine, deserves some time to be fully appreciated and understood.

I always like to think in qualitative rather than quantitative terms when it comes to considering applicants for our valuable philosophy of life. Not every good man who knocks at our door is a candidate for our degrees. He might just be looking for an opportunity to serve his community or for comradery with good men.

 If he is looking for a more meaningful experience and has a need to achieve a state of perfect balance between material needs and his spiritual aspirations then Masonry, which provides the study and application of laws that unite humans to the creator could be his path.

If we follow the path given to us by our Ancient Masters, then modern day Masonry must re-assess its approach to the initiatic experience. The teachings are there for the wise man to hear and learn. But I strongly argue it can not be rushed. I recommend you to the Masonic Restoration Foundation website to further any interest you might have in the Masonic initiatic experience. This website can direct you to many excellent books on the subject. One book for example,” The Masonic Initiation” by Brother W.L. Wilmshurst describes an initiation which I fear many of our lodges are not familiar with at all. Take some time to think about this. I would love to hear from you on this subject.


From the Master of Kadosh (September 2018)

posted Sep 3, 2018, 6:14 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Fraternal greetings!  I want to congratulate all the new Masters of the Royal Secret, 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Masons, who attended the Statewide Reunion in Oakland last month.  I hope the experience encourages all Brothers to have a renewed vigor in learning the moral and philosophical lessons behind all of the degrees!  To that end, I encourage all of you to consider attending the Master Craftsman program that Gregg Hall is currently organizing. 

As an additional opportunity for new and experienced Scottish Rite Masons, Mark Scoggins, Ketan Jashapara, and I are forming a group called “Rite Thought”.  Our first meeting will be held in the San Jose Scottish Rite Library at 7:30PM on September 18th, 2018, and Mark will present a paper on the intersection of Rosicrucianism and Scottish Rite Freemasonry.  The focus of the new group is on achieving an understanding of the various Scottish Rite degrees including the philosophical messages and symbolism.  Our meetings will occur every January, March, May, July, September on the 3rd Tuesday at 7:30PM at the San Jose Scottish Rite.  We are limiting attendance to Scottish Rite Masons only and encourage all to attend.  The format will typically include a main speaker and presentation followed by discussion and discourse.

The Symbolism of Chalk, Charcoal, and Clay in the Entered Apprentice Degree and Scottish Rite

An interesting set of symbols in the Entered Apprentice degree is that of Chalk, Charcoal, and Clay.  Chalk is associated with Freedom.  Charcoal is associated with Fervency, and Clay with Zeal.  The main lesson is that the Entered Apprentice must engage in his Masonic Journey with the attitude of a free person, meaning being done willingly, without restraint, and enthusiasm.  Additionally, he must be diligent and have ardent affection towards his work.  However, more interestingly is the tie of the symbolic representations to alchemy.  Alchemists and Freemasons are related in that they both engaged in the same process, but by using different lexicons.  Freemasons embark upon the Great Work through the builder’s allegory, whereas Alchemists seek to reveal the Elixir of Life through the Philosophers Stone.  This is analogous the Freemasons conceptualization of the Perfect Ashlar.

The Alchemist can apply the heat of the Charcoal to the base substance of Clay and create symbolic spiritual gold.  However, before this can be performed Chalk must be used to instruct the Alchemist on how to perform the process, known as the opus alchymicum.  Therefore, Calk represents the knowledge, Charcoal represents the method, and Clay represents the substance through which the Elixir of Life can be created. Freemasonry and Alchemy are related as they describe the same process of spiritual purification of the Great Work, and so these symbols exist in the Entered Apprentice degree.

A possible Scottish Rite connection to the references of Chalk, Charcoal, and Clay in the Entered Apprentice degree are the various colored hats that we wear.  The 32nd Degree “Black Hat” could be related to Charcoal, as Charcoal is typically black.  The Knight Commander Court of Honor (KCCH) “Red Hat” could be related to Clay, as Clay is typically red.  Finally, the 33rd Degree “White Hat” might be related to Chalk, as Chalk is normally white.  As such, the “White Hats” provide the instruction and knowledge, and the combination of the “Black Hat”, Charcoal, as applied to the “Red Hat”, Clay, allows for Alchemical transmutation. 

Finally, early on in Alchemical process, a black substance is created through a burning process before a white substance called “Manna” is created.  Every plant is said to contain some amount of Manna, and, coincidentally, Acacia has a very high concentration.  Manna is used ultimately to create a red substance called the “Red Lion” or the “Sangre De Christo”, Blood of Christ.  The Red Lion is considered by some to be the Elixir of Life or the Philosopher’s Stone and is what is used to transmute base metals into gold.


From the Commander of Kadosh (September 2018)

posted Sep 3, 2018, 6:10 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Greetings Brothers, Family, and Friends,


 I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to all those that put in the hard work to make the Grand Masters reception the special event that it was. With all having fun, I believe this may have been some of the best singing yet. Thank you to all that attended.


 I hope all will be enjoying a nice relaxing day off this upcoming Labor Day. The first state bill brought to legislation was in New York, but the first to pass into law was Oregon on February 21, 1887. By 1894, 23 of our states had adopted the holiday to pay tribute to the working man and woman.


 This month also marks a special time of the year. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it's called an "equinox," derived from Latin, meaning "equal night." The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above Earth’s Equator – from north to south. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year, ours falls on the 23rd. A famous ancient equinox celebration was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The pyramid, known as El Castillo, has 4 staircases running from the top to the bottom of the pyramid's face. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox. Many cultures have looked at this day with an importance. In our time it is goodbye summer, hello pumpkin spice latte.


Relax, enjoy family, and have a great September.


From the Venerable Master (August 2018)

posted Aug 7, 2018, 8:11 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

In the warm summer months, when many Masonic organizations go dark, and we busy ourselves with vacations and outdoor activities, we sometimes forget that Masonry goes on, and in some cases has some of its most important events.  Our Scottish Rite Valley is no exception.  In August, we welcome our Most Worshipful Grand Master, Bruce R. Galloway, at a formal reception and festive board.  As in years past, it will be a fun and exciting event, filled with good food, toasting, a few laughs, and an important message from our Grand Master.  Make sure to get reservation in as soon as you can for this event.

This past June, we held the statewide Reunion in Oakland, where 18 Scottish Rite Valleys from all over California came together on put on an historic event.  We had a class of over 130 candidates, at all 29 degrees were conferred.  The Valley of San Jose was a major force in this event.  We conferred five of the degrees, and had a large number of our members there all weekend, serving as stage crew, and doing whatever needed to be done to make the event a success.  Our own Personal Representative, Illustrious Ken Nagel hosted the event all weekend, and it was simply spectacular.  I also want to give a huge thank you to Brother Jeff Toone, who put in untold hours preparing for the reunion, and worked hard all weekend doing the light and sound board, making sure everything went smoothly.  All in all, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

We have lots of events coming up this summer.  Please come out and support the many activities that your Scottish Rite officers are working hard to produce, and take advantage of your membership in the Valley of San Jose.

I hope to see you in August.


From the Wise Master (August 2018)

posted Aug 7, 2018, 8:09 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

What a marvelous California Orient Reunion we had!  I am so appreciative of the opportunity given to me by our Valley to play a small part in this historic event.  The four degrees of  the Chapter of Rose Croix were exemplified by the Valleys of Sacramento, Oakland and Ventura. A good  job by all. Thanks to the casts and all the others involved in staging and supporting these four beautiful degree conferrals.

I was particularly taken on Saturday morning by the 17th Degree, Knight of the East and West. As you already know, this degree depicts a confrontation between King Herod II and John the Baptist resulting in the murder of John. The Oakland Valley’s performance was strong and beautiful while delivering the message about a king who sacrificed his spiritual soul for earthly and material things.

I am thinking about a presentation on the 17th Degree at our June 2019 Scottish Rite Night of Instruction as a recognition and celebration of St. John the Baptist Day. Stay tuned for more on this later.

Putting on my degree director cap, I thank the cast of the 12th Degree, Master Architect, for the great job they did in presenting this degree during the reunion. Kudos to Illustrious Hal Leister, Brother Joseph DaSilva KCCH, Brother Martin Maxey KCCH and Brother Don Littlefield for their polished performances and dedication to Scottish Rite Masonry. Also, thanks to Brother Jeff Toone for all his support during the reunion.

This month we hold our annual reception for our Grand Master of California Masons. It is hoped you plan to attend to honor our Grand Master and hear the message he has planned for us. Details on this event can be found elsewhere in the Rite Word.


From the Chief Knight (August 2018)

posted Aug 7, 2018, 8:06 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Attention all 320 Masons

Come join us at the Scottish Rite Orient of California, Valley of San Jose

Knights of St Andrew

Interested?  Please contact any member of the Knights of St. Andrew
or in particular, Jeff Toone, Secretary:

What do we do:

We provide services to and for the Bodies of the Valley of San Jose. These services include but are not limited to providing assistance to the stage crew of the various Degrees performances, promoting membership within the Scottish Rite, providing Greeters at the door for Scottish Rite Events, participating in parades, performing arch of steel at special functions, escort our flags, etc.  Come join with us to find the LIGHT and have fun doing so.

KSA Events of the Future:

1.August 19th KSA Stated Meeting with swords tactics.

2. Sept 1st – 2nd Scottish Highland Gathering and Games, Pleasanton, CA.  We will be have a booth on display with refreshment and related literature.  It will be weekend of fun for the entire family.  We cordially invite you to come join us in the fun and games. For detailed information please check the website and take a few minutes to look at the videos.


From the Venerable Master (July 2018)

posted Jul 9, 2018, 7:21 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite



Often times we talk about the importance of educating ourselves in the mysticism and symbolism of our order, and of obtaining further light in Masonry.  These are indeed important.  But sometimes we forget that the true secret to the fraternity is that kinship – that true brotherhood which exists, which permeates everything we do.  It is that, for many of us, which from the outset of our Masonic experience, draws us in and keeps us coming back.  That is why our social times are so very important.  Those times are not mere indolence or time wasted.  Even for those Masons who are truly dedicated to furthering the knowledge and enlightenment of those around them, and who spend countless hours of study, there is still that fellowship, which like a beacon, draws them to be among those of like minds – or even those with significantly divergent opinions – but to those who are Masons all. 


So when we relish our social times, as we do at our Scottish Rite stated meetings, know that this is as important a part of the Masonic experience, as are all the countless meetings, the study of rituals, and the gaining of knowledge and wisdom.


I hope to see you all where friends and brothers meet to enjoy the company of one another – the San Jose Scottish Rite.


From the Wise Master (July 2018)

posted Jul 9, 2018, 7:18 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

     In my April article I recommended a book by Illustrious Brother Manly P. Hall entitled “The Lost Keys of Freemasonry”. I hope that many of you have had the opportunity to obtain and read this valuable book and add it to your library. For those already familiar with Brother Hall’s writings maybe it spurned you on to reread or at least scan this treasure.

As you recall Chapter VI discusses the author’s ideas about the qualifications of a “True Mason”. Here are a few more of those qualifications for your contemplation.

The true Master Mason enters his lodge with one thought uppermost in his mind: “How can I, as an individual, be of greater use in the Universal Plan? What can I do to be worthy of comprehending the mysteries which are unfolded here?” Those readers who are familiar with the York Rite may remember in the closing prayer of the chapter that the Companions are reminded to perform the obligations here unfolded to them and to practice these duties out of the chapter – I suggest this is, so we can be of greater use to that Universal Plan.

The true Brother Master Mason, while striving to improve himself mentally, spiritually and physically each day of his life, never makes his own desires or goals the object of his work. No, he has a higher duty and that duty is to fit into the plans of Another! He must be ready at any time to drop his own ideals at the call of the Great Architect of the Universe. Once again, the call to be of a greater use in the Universal Plan!

One more for your consideration. Every true Mason knows that a broken vow or promise brings with it a penalty. We just need to think about the such teachings in Symbolic Masonry or the Blue degrees. Let him also realize that his failure to live mentally, spiritually, and morally up to his own highest ideals constitutes the greatest of all broken oaths. Wow!

I sincerely wish and hope you find these ideas about the attributes of a Mason interesting and in some way useful, spreading at least a little way, not dying at birth!  More to follow in subsequent articles.

The recently completed Orient wide reunion was an amazing experience. To see all 29 degrees of our Scottish Rite exemplified by our valleys was a treat and unforgettable. To be a small part of it was an honor. Thanks.


From the Commander of Kadosh (July 2018)

posted Jul 9, 2018, 7:16 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite


Independence Day should be a special time to all.  The fourth of July, as it is also know, became a federal holiday in 1941, though the celebration of this day dates back to the 18th century, and the American Revolution. In June of 1776 representative of the 13 colonies weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Brittan.  Then on July 2nd the continental congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later those delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776through today, the fourth of July has been celebrated as the birth of American independence with parades(like the one South Valley 187 in Morgan Hill and many other lodges/bodies participate in), family BBQ's, and my personal favorite the fireworks.  


1-10 of 859