From the Wise Master (February, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 12:55 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 12:55 PM ]
I had thought that I might do a bit of research for my first contribution to the Rite Word as Wise Master.  I pulled out my encyclopedia of Freemasonry and looked up Rose-Croix. What I found was such a rambling discourse that I started to wonder what I’d gotten myself into.
The encyclopedia entry runs one page and that entire page consists of just two paragraphs!  Here’s an example of just the first three sentences of the entry:
“Chef d’oeuvre as it is of the old RITE OF PERFECTION, the GRADE OF ROSE-CROIX is not a perfect Grade, though ex hypothesi it confers perfection. It contains, however, great and significant intimation. I could wish that it might be possible to set out the scheme of procedure, and thus indicate at what points it speaks to the Candidate with a most eloquent tongue of symbolism and where the voice flags.”
Well, brevity has never been a strong point of Masonry – short form closing notwithstanding.
My next stop was that standard of reference for the 21st century – Wikipedia! Why I had never looked at Wikipedia for information about Rose Croix or the Scottish Rite escapes me.  It contains a wealth of information in extremely concise and easy to read format. Also, by the very nature of a wiki, the content is constantly open for revision and updates.  Unlike most history that gets diluted and distorted over time, a wiki gets MORE accurate.
In just the first search, I discovered that, of the four possible matches offered by Wikipedia, number three was “Scottish Rite, a Masonic Rite known as Rose Croix in England and Wales.” 
Ah ha! Now that rambling entry in the encyclopedia made a little more sense. Then, in reading the actual entry I discovered that the earliest recorded conferral of the “Scotch Master” or “Scottish Master” degree was 1733 and appears to have been performed by visiting freemasons at a special meeting. 
Reading a bit further finds a reference to the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Hmmm, my copy is copyrighted 1970 but reviewing the text referenced above, I think that some of the content just MIGHT have been plagiarized. It’s just my opinion, mind you, but it seems to me that the grammar referenced above would be more appropriate to the original publication date of 1822 rather than 1970. 
The wiki entry contains a fairly large section on Albert Pike. Born in 1809, He became a Scottish Rite mason in 1853 and was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas that same year. Only four years later he had begun revising all of the Scottish Rite degrees, completing his work in 1883. This would mean that, when he communicated the degrees in San Jose on 16 May 1883, it would have been one of the very first communications of the revised degrees!
It the occurred to me that A Bridge to Light, our standard gift to new Scottish Rite brethren after they have completed their degrees, would be worth revisiting at this point.
I opened the book to “The 18th Degree Knight of the Rose Croix” and the very first paragraph is “Duties: Practice virtue that it may produce fruit. Labor to eliminate vice, purify humanity. Be tolerant of the faith and creed of others.”
Well, that was a whole lot easier to handle, but I won’t deny that this was fun getting here. Sometimes it’s refreshing to take the long way home.
At the request of our Brother Secretary, a shorter message will follow next month.

Bryant Day
Wise Master