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.