The Mark Degree – Possibly the purest and most Antient form of Free Masonry
Also know as the Friendly Degree. In the Scottish constitution this degree is an extension of the Fellowcrafts. The giving of a personal ‘Mark’ in the Degree is the acknowledgement of the individuality and skill of the builder. It reminds us that by our own efforts we should strive to complete our allotted tasks but also bear in mind that without the cooperation of our neighbours our work would have no place in the intended structure.
To become Mark Master Mason you must be Master Mason in the English Constitution. it concentrates on the building of King Solomon’s Temple before its destruction, where The Holy Royal Arch carries on the Story.
The Holy Royal Arch – that which was lost is now found
And Jerusalem, the Holy city of David, the site of all three Temples. After the destruction of Solomon’s Temple the entire city was laid to waste and fell into decay. It is quite understandable that the actual location of the secret vaults would have been lost to living memory. The discovery of the actual location by the Sojourners and the artifacts therein had to be verified by the rulers of the day. The ceremony, which is the recovery of the lost secrets is somewhat dramatised. This is generally agreed to be the completion of the Master Mason Degree. To become a Companion you must be a Master Mason.
The Royal Ark Mariners – An Antediluvian Origin
What if our Masonic origins were much earlier? What if Noah was the original subject of the third degree? After all the story goes that he was ‘raised’ in some form by his sons, Shem and Japheth. And two great pillars were constructed to resist destruction by fire and water inside which were placed the Antediluvian knowledge so that they would not be lost forever by the cleansing of the earth by the great flood. These pillars one would be at the entry to a vault preceded by a series of arches. Sounds a familiar story? but with different characters and another time placement. To become a Royal Ark Mariner you need to be Mark Master Mason.
Royal & Select Masters – A Cryptic Degree
To become a Companion in this Order you have to be a Master Mason, Mark Master Mason and a Companion of the Holy Royal Arch. There are four steps in this order, Select Master, Royal Master, Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master. This fills the gap from the Mark to the Royal Arch, remember the secrets were lost for 500 years. So what of Cryptic? A set of clues leading to hidden treasure? The lost word?
The following degrees are worked under Grand Council. St Lawrence the Martyr; Knight of Constantinople; Grand Tilers of Solomon; The Red Cross of Babylon; and The Holy Order of the Grand High Priest.
Every Candidate must be a Mark Master Mason and a Companion of The Holy Royal Arch as the degrees worked today encompass and complete some of the explanations relating to those Degrees. A Candidate must first be admitted to the Degree of St Lawrence the Martyr, but the other four degrees may be conferred in any order and in any Council.
A Christian Degree and one of very few religious orders in Freemasonry. It has 30˚ fortunately most are ‘conferred’ but each one is practiced somewhere in England & Wales every year.
Order of the Secret Monitor – also known as The Brotherhood of David and Jonathan
This is one of the fastest growing Masonic Orders in the United Kingdom. The ceremonies typically surround the story of the remarkable Friendship which existed between David and Jonathan. (I Samuel XX). There are three distinct degrees to the Order of the Secret Monitor:
1° – Secret Monitor. The story unfolds recalling the Friendship that developed between David and Jonathan and the wonderful lessons to be learned in friendship, support and fidelity.
2° – Prince. Admission into an Assembly of Princes is also derived from the Book of Samuel and recalls how Saul sought to destroy David and relates the interesting legend of the methods contrived to foil the pursuits of the jealous King.
3° – Supreme Ruler. This last degree concerns the Installation to the headship of a Conclave and surrounds David’s Kingship. Within the ritual of this degree there is a ceremony of Commissioning, which permits rank and status throughout the Order as a whole and furthermore, a certificate is issued to confirm the Officer is commissioned, both of which are quite unique in Freemasonry.
The qualifications required to be proposed into a Conclave of the Order are that of being a Master Mason.
Its outstanding feature is that it is the only Order open to English masons which avowedly sets out to give a Christian interpretation of the Craft and Royal Arch. The degrees which constitute this Order are:-
The Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine teach us the well-known story of how Constantine came to be converted to Christianity, but the Lecture contains a most interesting reference to the Roman College of Architects, who are regarded by some Masonic Scholars as the direct ancestors of the Comacine Masons. This degree is a stepping stone to the degree of the Knights of St. John and the Holy Sepulchre.
The ceremonies are solemn, dramatic and of deep mystical significance, but their most striking feature is an attempt to explain the Craft and Royal Arch Ceremonies in a Christian sense.