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The Eighteenth Degree
Knights of the Pelican and Eagle, and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom


Many a Mason will seek to defend the compatibility of Freemasonry with Christianity by pointing to this degree - sometimes referred to by Masons as the 'Christian degree' 

Note: By making this claim Freemasonry is thus acknowledging that the other Masonic degrees cannot be Christian degrees.

The 'Christian degree' claim is based on the following .. 

  • one has to be 'a Christian' to go through the degree (Most westerners claim to be Christian by birthright)

  • this degree refers to Jesus, has the cross as one of its symbols, and holds communion. 

The facts will speak for themselves..


Under 33rd authority Occult roots of the degree The Rose Croix symbols
Original secrets Brethren of the Rose Croix Counterfeit Christianity
Counterfeit communion 'Easter' ceremony Ritual + oaths

The Rose Croix ceremony

Under Supreme Council authority (that is the 33rd Degree)

"I took the Obligation, swearing both secrecy and allegiance to the Supreme Council, with my hand upon the New Testament.."  

"As the Rose Croix in England received its charter from America.." 

- taken from Ian Gordon's account of his Rose Croix initiation in 'The Craft and the Cross' Page 80 and 160

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Occult roots of the Rose Croix degree 

The Rosy Cross in the centre of powerful occult symbols in Aleister Crowley's infamous book 'Magick'

The Rosicrucians, or ‘Brethren of the Rosy Cross’, had begun in Europe as a sect of philosophers who claimed knowledge of all the sciences, chiefly medicine, and many secrets of the universe. These were received by tradition from the Egyptians, Chaldeans and other ancient pagan civilisations. As Europe emerged from the dark ages, the unrelenting quest for knowledge and enlightenment spread throughout the continent, and at the close of the sixteenth century many philosophers, alchemists, spiritists and practitioners of astrology had assumed the name of this sect. In October 1617, in Magdeburg, Germany, a meeting was held at which it was formally agreed that the brotherhood of the Rose Croix must maintain the strictest secrecy for a hundred years. 

It renewed its oath to destroy the church of Jesus Christ and decreed that in the year 1717 it would transform the fraternity into an association which would carry on a more overt campaign while remaining within the bounds of prudence.

In England, Robert Fludd, a well known physician of the time, published in 1617 a treatise in explanation of the Rose Croix. He was greatly helped in the foundation of the order in England by Francis Bacon, the writer and philosopher. One of those present at the Magdeburg meeting had been an English architect named Nicholas Stone. His interests in the black arts made him a valued and active member of the sect and he composed rituals for the nine grades of the fraternity. As an architect, belonging to the guild of Freemasons, he had assisted Inigo Jones, the Grand Master of the English lodges, which at this period were non sectarian and had grown from their initial membership of practicing masons, to include many who were admitted to the lodge in an honorary capacity. These ‘accepted masons’ included peers of the realm, men of letters, professional men and a good number of the wealthy middle class. One such honorary member was Thomas Vaughan, a Rosicrucian, who was impressed by the writings of Nicholas Stone and saw in the extended membership of the lodges the perfect medium for the propagation of Rosicrucian

Thus ‘speculative’ masonry, as contrasted with the original ‘operative’ masonry, developed and flourished in England, as on the continent.

Then in 1663, at the General Assembly of masons, the masters of ‘operative’ masonry, feeling themselves in very much of a minority, realised that their only way forward, if they did not wish to leave their lodge, was to unite with their new masters, and fall in with their designs for the future of freemasonry. Lord St. Albans was elected and installed Grand Master, Sir John Denham became his deputy, and Sir Christopher Wren and John Webb, wardens. By the time the English Grand Lodge was founded, on 24th June 1717, significantly 100 tears exactly after the Magdeburg resolution, by James Anderson and six others, including an expatriate Frenchman named Desaguliers who was said to have been head of the Rose Croix, the first three degrees only, Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, were being worked.
Shortly after this, although its exact origin has never been totally ascertained, the Royal Arch came into being as a completion of the third degree and any who wished to progress to the higher degrees were obliged to enter The Ancient and Accepted Rite or some other International Order which worked the higher grades.
Until the latter half of the eighteenth century, Freemasonry was confined to Europe, but it soon spread to the New World. In 1761 the Grand Lodge of France, in conjunction with the Council of Knights of the East, deputed a man called Stephen Morin to promulgate masonry in the West Indies, and it was through his efforts there that Scottish Rite Masonry found its way into America.

Although in 1766 Morin’s patent was revoked by the Grand Body in Paris for ‘propogating strange and mysterious doctrines’ he had by then seen the establishment of a ‘Sublime Lodge of Perfection’ in Boston, in the north, and in fact went on to erect a similar lodge in Charleston, in the south. These two Masonic powers went on to create numerous other lodges throughout America, but because of that country’s enormous size, progress was slow.

Too slow in fact for a certain Hyman Isaac Long, who was to play an important part in the development of the Ancient Rite. He was an ambitious man, full of ideas, and frustrated by the slow growth of American masonry. He left Charleston for Europe where he stayed for the next six years. When he returned, he brought with him his great plan which was the creation of a rite of thirty three degrees, destined to become universal. Together with other officers of the lodge, he constituted this right, taking twenty five degrees of the system of Heredom - The Rose Croix - plus six Templar grades, in which were merged four degrees borrowed from the Bavarian Illuminism of Adam Weishaupt, and two grades of administration. He himself took the title of Sovereign Grand Inspector General 33rd and last degree, he gave the institution the name of Ancient and Accepted Rite, and the first great constitutions were signed at Charleston, on May 31st 1801.

In 1891 a patent was granted to the Duke of Sussex to form a supreme Council in England, but it was not acted upon at that time. Finally in 1845, the Supreme council for England and Wales was formed and this assumed control of all independent Rose Croix degrees.

- taken from the chapter ‘A search for the roots’ pages 155 - 159. ‘The Craft and the Cross’ by Ian Gordon (Master of his mother lodge, Assistant Sojourner in the Royal Arch, Raphael in the Rose Croix, and Captain of the Guards in the Knights Templar. Acquainted with ‘Mark masonry’ -one of the oldest grades of freemasonry- and a member of its appendant order, ‘The Royal Ark Mariners’. A Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine, a member of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and two other craft lodges, ‘Charterhouse’ and a Steward’s, or Red Apron lodge.

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The Rose Croix symbols 

Symbol from Rosicrucian web site

The Rose and Cross

Rosicrucians, international fraternal order devoted to the pursuit of esoteric wisdom. Two such orders in the United States are the Rosicrucian Fraternity and the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, usually abbreviated AMORC. 

The former group has a headquarters in Quakertown, Pennsylvania; the latter group has an international headquarters in San Jose, California. Both groups hold that the order began in remote antiquity in Egypt and continued in existence through periods of deliberate secrecy. Rosicrucian teachings combine elements of Egyptian Hermetism, Gnosticism, Jewish Cabalism, and other occult beliefs and practices. 

Many scholars believe that the order actually developed in Germany after the publication of the Fama Fraternitatis and the Confessio Rosae Crucis (1614, 1615; The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross; trans. 1652). These pamphlets record a journey to the Orient made by a pseudonymous Christian Rosenkreuz, who was said to have lived at least a century earlier; they claim that the movement was founded by Rosenkreuz in order to impart the secret wisdom he had gained. The symbol of Rosicrucianism is a combination of the rose and the cross, from which the order takes its name.

-taken from Mac Bible software entitled ' Religion Hypertext Book 4'

Pelican stabbing its own breast

This active working with the soul forces is perfectly pictured in the Pelican. The Pelican is shown stabbing its breast with its beak and nourishing its young with its own blood. The alchemist must enter into a kind of sacrificial relationship with his inner being. He must nourish with his own soul forces, the developing spiritual embryo within. Anyone who has made true spiritual development will know well this experience. 

One's image of one's self must be changed, transformed, sacrificed to the developing spiritual self. This is almost invariably a deeply painful experience, which tests one's inner resources. Out of this will eventually emerge the spiritual self, transformed through the Pelican experience. The Pelican was in this spiritual sense a valid image of the Christ experience and was used as such by the early alchemists.

 - symbol and words from Rosicrucian web site

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The original secrets of the Rose Croix

To give you an idea just how the alchemists kept their secrets secret, let me quote from my favourite example of typically ‘alchemical’ writing. It comes from an unpublished manuscript in the British Museum entitled A Treatise of the Rosie-Crucian Secrets, attributed, perhaps falsely, to Dr Dee:

The contemplative order of the Rosie Cross have presented to the world angels, spirits, plants, and metals, with the times in astromancy and geomancy, to prepare and unite them telesmatically. This is the substance which at present in our study is the child of the Sun and Moon, placed between two fires, and in the darkest night receives a light and retains it. The angels and intelligences are attracted by an horrible emptiness, and attend to the astrolasms forever. He hath in him a thick fire, by which he captivates the thin genii. Now I will demonstrate in what thing, of what thing, and by what thing the medicine and multiplier of metals is made. It is even in the nature of metals. In the great Lion’s bed the Sun and Moon are born. They are married and beget a king. The king feeds on the Lion’s blood, which is the king’s father and mother, who are at the same time his brother and sister. I fear I betray the secret!  

-taken from - The Mysteries of Alchemy'  page 33  'Invisibility' by Steve Richards.  

The Chimera of the Rose Croix,
Their signs, their seales, their hermetique rings;
Their jemme of riches, and bright stone that brings
Invisibilitie, and strength, and tongues

- taken from Ben Johnson's poem The Vnderwood from 'The Poems, the Prose Works, Oxford University Press, 1947, vol 8, page 206   

To see how Rosicrucianism mixes Christian symbolry and scriptures with occult practice visit this site

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The Brethren of the Rose Croix (the Invisibles)

This brief extract from 'Invisibility' by Steve Richards gives a historical feeling for the way the mysterious Brethren of the Rose Croix were viewed.

  It was springtime, the month was March, and although the year was 1623 the people of Paris had already acquired their penchant for good food, good wine, and good conversation. There had been little to talk about recently, however. The king was at Fontainebleau, the war in Germany was going well for the Catholic cause, and the realm was at peace.’ One could, of course, grouse about the badauds who stood about uselessly in the city’s streets. The badauds were always good for a little early morning grumbling. But on this particular morning they would hardly have mattered. For the night before, the night of 3 March 1623, the city of Paris had been quietly invaded. Not by the hated boche or the much-feared English; but by a group of men who claimed magical powers, men who called themselves the Rosicrucians.

‘For eight years these enthusiasts  made converts in Germany,’ wrote Charles Mackay, ‘but they excited little or no attention in other parts of Europe. At last they made their appearance in Paris, and threw all the learned, all the credulous, and all the lovers of the marvellous into commotion. In the beginning of March 1623 the good folks of that city, when they arose one morning, were surprised to find all their walls placarded with the following singular manifesto:

“We, the deputies of the principal College of the Brethren of The RoZe- Croix  have taken up our abode, visible and invisible, in this city, by the grace of the Most High, towards whom are turned the hearts of the Just. We shew and teach without books or signs, and speak all sorts of languages in the countries where we dwell, to draw mankind, our fellows, from error and from death.’’

According to the Mercure François, manuscript copies of the placard were passed round hand to hand, and some were affixed to signposts at crossroads a fact that could not fail to have some magical significance.

‘For a long time this strange placard was the sole topic of conversation in all public places,’ says Mackay. ‘Some few wondered, but the greater number only laughed at it. In the course of a few weeks, two books were published, which raised the first-alarm respecting this mysterious society, whose dwelling-place no one knew, and no members of which had ever been seen. The first was called a history of The frightful Compacts entered into between the Devil and the pretended “Invisibles”; with their damnable Instructions, the deplorable Ruin of their Disciples, and their miserable end. The other was called An Examination of the new unknown Cabala of the Brethren of the Rose-Cross, who have lately inhabited the City of Paris; with the History of their Manners, the Wonders worked by them, and many other particulars.

The newsmakers on the Pont Neuf, who published these books, gave the mysterious brethren the name ‘the Invisibles’.

These books sold rapidly. Everyone was anxious to know something of this dreadful and secret brotherhood. The badauds of Paris were so alarmed that they daily expected to see the arch­enemy walking in propria persona among them. It was said in these volumes that the Rosicrucian society consisted of six-and-thirty persons in all, who had renounced their baptism and hope of resurrection. That it was not by good angels, as they pretended, that they worked their prodigies; but that it was the devil who gave them power to transport themselves from one end of the world to the other with the rapidity of thought; to speak all languages; to have their purses always full of money, however much they might spend; to be invisible and penetrate into the most secret places, in spite of fastenings of bolts and bars; and to be able to tell the past and future. These thirty-six brethren were divided into bands or companies: six of them only had been sent on the mission to Paris, six to Italy, six to Spain, six to Germany, four to Sweden, and two into Switzerland, two into Flanders, two into Lorraine, and two into Franche Comte.  

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Counterfeit Christianity

'I could recall in detail the evening of my 'perfection' into the Rose Croix. I remembered the anticipation. almost excitement, which I felt as I prepared for the ceremony, the aesthetic pleasure at the beauty of the setting and the ritual, and the great sense of satisfaction when all was over. I had been welcomed by the Sovereign with the news that Masonry was in a state of despair, having suffered a grievous loss due to the death of the Messiah. This now struck me as rather odd, for surely the whole point of the Messiah’s life was that he had to die. (Luke 18:31—34) The ransom sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, (see Matthew 20:28) is central to the Christian faith, and the fact that he defeated death and opened the way to eternal life for all believers is a focal point of Christianity, and a source of rejoicing, not despair. Why should Masonry be in despair at his death? Who stood to lose by it? Not Jesus; he rose and triumphed over the grave. Not mankind; the way back to God was now open to them. Who, then? There was only one person who lost out at Calvary, and that was God’s old adversary, Satan. Despite all his efforts, Jesus, the Son of God, had remained obedient to his Father, and in dying on the Cross had overcome death, and freed mankind from its curse, which Satan had brought upon them. If anyone should despair at the death of the Messiah, it was surely Satan, the fallen angel, Lucifer himself.

The Rose Croix ritual had consisted of a search for the lost Word, and I, like so many before me, had happily embarked upon it without stopping to think that the Word, the genuine true Word of God, was actually far From lost. Having become flesh and dwelt amongst men For thirty-three years, the Word was now seated at the right hand of God in heaven (see John’s Gospel, chapter 1). I had carried out my part in the ceremony, and ‘found’ ;he Word, that is the four letters INRI, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, the name of God’s son, the Word of 3od made flesh; and then what had happened to that tame? In front of the altar I had seen it burned ‘to keep it from the eyes of the profane’; but Jesus’ name should never be kept from anyone, profane or otherwise, for had he not come to save sinners? How could this be done if His Name is to be kept from all but the few? As Acts chapter 4 : 12 says 'Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other Name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved' .........................I finally realised, with total certainty, that the supposedly Christian order which I had been so anxious to join, had nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity.; the constant allusions to Jesus of Nazareth and the apparently Christian symbolism thus rendered it completely counterfeit and I knew that the inner voice which had cried out in protest at the white wine and salt used in the final part of the ritual had been right'

- taken from the chapter ‘A search for the roots’ pages 164-165. ‘The Craft and the Cross’ by Ian Gordon (Master of his mother lodge, Assistant Sojourner in the Royal Arch, Raphael in the Rose Croix, and Captain of the Guards in the Knights Templar. Acquainted with ‘Mark masonry’ -one of the oldest grades of freemasonry- and a member of its appendant order, ‘The Royal Ark Mariners’. A Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine, a member of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and two other craft lodges, ‘Charterhouse’ and a Steward’s, or Red Apron lodge.

The most deadly heresy of this degree lies in the fact that it is the Candidate himself who symbolically achieves both light and perfection by his own efforts, not in Christ or Christ for him. it is the Candidate who gives his age as thirty-three who journeys for thirty-three days, passing through the Black Room and the Chamber of Death to his mystical resurrection in the Red Room. The prayer in the Black Room until recently contained the phrase grant that we, being solely occupied with the work of our redemption  And the Resurrection in the Closing ceremonies is defined significantly as the “hour of a Perfect Mason “. Our Lord’s redemptive death is treated as a type and an allegory of the experiences which a Mason must undergo in his quest for light, not as a unique and objective act of redemption wrought for him by God. This is, of course, a purely Gnostic conception.

- taken from page 206 of  Walton Hanna's full detailing of this degree in 'Darkness visible' [see full account below]

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Counterfeit communion

 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 1 Corinthians 10:21

During the degree ritual a counterfeit communion is held. Rather than scriptural and traditional bread and wine (red to symbolise the Blood of Jesus) the candidate partakes of biscuit, white wine and salt.

Why salt?  Here is a brief extract from the Rosicrucian web site

The same Salt-Mother of the elements is the nitrous, aluminous and spiritual gumosic water, Salt earth or crystal, which has Nature in its womb, a Son of the Sun, and a Daughter of the Moon. It is a Hermaphrodite, born out of the wind, a phoenix living in fire, a pelican, reviving his dear young ones with its blood; the young Icarus, drowned in the water, whose nurse is the earth, whose Mother is the wind, whose Father is the fire, the water her caretaker and drink, one stone and no stone, one water and no water, nevertheless a stone of living power and a water of living might; a sulphur, a mercury, a salt, hidden deep in nature, and which no fool has ever known nor seen

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18th degree Rose Croix ceremony on the Thursday before Easter.
On Thursday evening we gathered at our home temple and dressed for the ceremony. It was always a most solemn occasion and seemed a little awesome, even to those of us who had done it many times. Dressed in long, black, hooded robes, we marched in single file with only our faces partly showing, and took our seats. There was something very tomb like about the setting. The silence was broken only by the organ, playing mournfully in the background, and there was no light except for the little that came through the windows.

After the opening prayer (from which the name of Jesus Christ was conspicuously excluded), I stood and opened the service. As I had done so many times before, I said, "We meet this day to commemorate the death of our 'most wise and perfect master', not as inspired or divine, for this is not for us to decide, but as at least the greatest of the apostles of mankind" As I spoke these words that I had spoken so many times before I had a strange and powerful experience. It was as if I was standing apart listening to myself as I spoke, and the words echoed deep within me, shouting their significance. They were the same words I had spoken so many times before, but had meaning for me now. They made me sick, literally ill, and I stopped. The realisation of what I had just said grew within me like a rising crescendo. I had just called Jesus an 'apostle of mankind' who was neither inspired nor divine. There was a silent pause that seemed to last a very long time as I struggled with a sick smothering within. When I was finally able, I continued with the service and we gathered around a large table across the room in marching order. The table was long, shaped like a cross, and covered with a red cloth which was decorated down the centre with roses. Once we were assembled at the table, I elevated (lifted high) the plate of bread, took a piece, put my hand on the shoulder of the man in front of me, gave him the plate and said, "Take, eat, and give to the hungry" This continued until all had partaken of the bread. Then I lifted up the goblet of wine, took a sip, and said, "take, drink, and give to the thirsty" Again, this continued until all had partaken of the wine. After this we took our places at the table shaped like a cross and sat down. The setting was dark, our long sweeping robes were solid black, our faces nearly concealed in the hoods, and the mood was one of heavy gloom. The Christ less prayers and the hymns we sang fitted right in. The one word that would describe the entire event would be 'black'. It was, indeed, a black communion - a strange black mass" There was a large Menorah (candlestick with seven candleholders) in the centre of the room. Standing again, I said, "This is indeed a sad day, for we have lost our master. We may never see him again. He is dead! Mourn, weep and cry, for he is gone" Then I asked the officers to extinguish the candles in the large Menorah. Finally with only the centre candle burning, I arose walked sadly to the centre of the room, extinguished the last candle - the candle representing the life of Jesus - our wise and perfect master. We had dramatised and commemorated the snuffing out of the life of Jesus*, without once mentioning His name, and the scene ended with the room in deep silent darkness. I walked out of the room, leaving only the darkness and the stillness of death. Once again, the single word best to describe it would be 'black'

- taken from' The deadly deception', page 105 - 107 - Jim Shaw former 33rd degree mason.

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Ritual and oaths

  • The candidate is given the title of 'Perfect Master, Sublime Elect, and Scotch Knight of Perfect', and is given the seal of Perfection. (Note: False righteousness)
  • A prayer is offered that the candidate be 'purified with fire' to bring a separation of the metal and the dross, and to remove the profane from the sanctuary. (Note: Wives are 'profane'. Only God purifies His sons Mal.3:2-3)
  • Isaiah 53 is read out. 
  • The ceremony takes place in a candle lit room and takes the form of a journey to find The Word. A veil is in front of the candidate's eyes and he is given 33 days to find the word - The New Covenant - The veil is removed and this reveals an altar with three crosses on it. The tallest one is decorated with a crown of thorns and a rose. The candidate has to swear on the New Testament (Note: This is the only degree to so acknowledge the New Testament. The Bible is always open on the altar at the old Testament)
  • On the floor of the room is a pelican plucking blood from its breast to rescue its young (Note: A counterfeit of Jesus shedding His Blood to save man)
  • A veil is then placed over the candidate's head, symbolic of mourning.
  • The candidate is then introduced to 'Raphael,-an 'angel' - to guide him on his journey. (Note: opening for a Masonic spirit guide) The guide leads him into the Red room and chamber of death.
  • The Red room is filled with skulls and bones. The candidate is taken in while the death march is played. A real human skull is on display - which is illegal  (Note: As with so much Masonic ritual it can open a candidate to spirits of darkness / depression / death) 
  • On the red carpet is a ladder strewn with red roses, which is symbolic of Rosicrucianism (see 'roots' above)  The candidate has to ascend the ladder - from darkness to glory.  (Note: This is the false salvation)
  • The candidate is given a word 'INRI' which stands for Jesus Christ of Nazareth, King of the Jews. He is ennobled as a Prince of the Order of Rose Croix.
  • The ritual concludes with the taking of communion of biscuit, salt and white wine. Note: !!!)
  • The word 'Emmanuel' is used (Note: This means 'God with us'. It is certainly not our Lord Jesus Christ who is with them)
  • The words 'It is finished' are spoken.
  • The candidate is then told he has received the new commandment to love one another.
  • The ritual oath is 'to be perpetually in darkness, my blood continually running from my body, to suffer without intermission the cruel remorse of soul, the bitterest gall mixed with vinegar be my constant drink, the sharpest thorns for my pillow, and the death of the cross complete my punishment'
  • Another oath is taken where the candidate says  'I do further more swear .. to observe and obey all the decrees which may be transmitted to me by the Grand Inspector General in Supreme Council of the thirty third degree'

- taken from 'Freemasonry. Death in the family' Yvonne Kitchen

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The Rose Croix ceremony

The 18th Degree, the Rose Croix of Heredom, is worked in full, and indeed is one of the most popular of all the ‘other degrees.’ 

Among its sixteen thousand Excellent Perfect Princes the 1950 Handbook lists some four hundred and seventy-five clergymen, including seventeen bishops and a Kelham Father, who subscribe to its nauseating mixture of macabre sentimentality and heresy with a stupefaction of conscience or blindness of theological perception which is ex­tremely difficult to understand. The Craft degrees, however objectionable, are based on comparatively harmless fables in an Old Testament context; the Rose Croix bases its workings on the Crucifixion of Our Lord Himself. As this degree is particularly obnoxious and worthy of ecclesiastical condemnation, a fuller account of it will be given.

Three rooms are required for this degree (apart from the preparation room). First there is the Black Room, in which is an altar hung with black over which are represented three crosses; the centre one with the Mystic Rose (in black) on its limbs, surrounded by the crown of thorns; the other two have the skull and crossbones depicted at their feet. On the Altar are the Holy Scriptures, an unsheathed sword, and a pair of compasses. On the floor are depicted seven concentric white circles on a black ground, with the emblem of the pelican in the centre. In the North, West, and South there are three pillars surmounted by lights; suspended from these pillars are cards or tins on which are painted respectively the letters F, H, and C, standing for Faith, Hope, and Charity.

The Black Room should open into the Chamber of Death, containing skull and crossbones, and even a figure in a winding-sheet laid out as a corpse; a lamp of spirits of wine and salt is placed behind these emblems, and the chamber may be further illuminated by transparencies representing skulls, cross­bones, etc., or by flambeaux fixed in skulls.

The third, or Red Room, is brilliantly illuminated and hung with red. The altar in this room has a super-altar of eight steps with thirty-three lights. On the fourth step is the Cubic Stone,’ which opens with a red rose in the centre. The altar is profusely decorated with roses. In the centre of the room is a representation of the Mysterious Ladder of Seven Steps with the movable letters F. H. and C. and I.N.R.I. (the word of this degree) one on each step, with a rose on each. 

The Opening ceremony contains the following passage :— 

Most Wise Sovereign. Excellent and Perfect First General, what is the hour?

1st General. 

Most Wise Sovereign


 The ninth hour of the day.

Then it is the hour when the Veil of the Temple was rent in twain and darkness overspread the earth, when the true Light departed from us, the Altar was thrown down, the Blazing Star was eclipsed, the Cubic Stone poured forth Blood and Water, the Word was lost, and despair and tribulation sat heavily upon us.

(A solemn pause).

Since Masonry has experienced such dire calamities it is our duty, Princes, to endeavour, by renewed labours, retrieve our loss. May the benign influence of Faith, Hope, and Charity prosper our endeavours to recover the lost Word; for which purpose I declare this Chapter of Princes Rose Croix of Heredom duly open, in the Name  the Great Emmanuel.

For any Christian to declare that Masonry experienced a “dire calamity” at the Crucifixion, or that Masons suffered a “loss” in the triumphant redemptive death of Our Saviour on the Cross which the Excellent and Perfect Princes of the Rose Croix of Heredom can by their own labours “retrieve” seems not only heretical but actually blasphemous. The only interpretation which makes sense of this passage would appear to be that it is not the death of Our Lord which is mourned, but the defeat of Satan.

The Candidate for perfection enters the Chapter in the Black Room while it is thus plunged in gloom, and after giving the word of the previous degree (Abaddon) and his age (whatever it may be) as thirty-three, is told that “conster­nation spreads horror over our brows, the earth quakes, the rocks are rent, the veil of the Temple is rent asunder” etc. He is welcomed, however, in hopes that his courage may assist them to retrieve the lost word. Prayer is offered for him, and the Excellent and Perfect Marshal escorts him in a mystic travel of thirty-three days to the three pillars in turn (accompanied by solemn music) where he detaches the three letters F. H. and C, which are presented to the Most Wise Sovereign. The Candidate is congratulated on his success thus far in discovering the initials of those virtues by whose assistance he may discover the lost word, and the curtains con­cealing the Altar are drawn apart. He then takes his Obligation on the New Testament, swearing both secrecy and allegiance to the Supreme Chapter.’

The Candidate now withdraws for a brief period of medi­tation, On his re-entry a procession is formed which passes round the Black Room (all bowing to the Cross in passing) and all except the Marshal and the Candidate pass direct into the Red Room. The Candidate finds his way thither barred because he is unable to give the word. He is told that his attire is incompatible with that humility necessary for those who wish to recover the word, and he is accordingly veiled in black crêpe. He then enters the dimly-lit Chamber of Death, and in his stumblings over the skulls and other grotesqueries is assisted by Raphael, who conducts him to the solemn rendering of a funeral march through the Chamber to the brilliantly illuminated Red Room.

Here be symbolically ascends the mystic ladder “which leads from darkness to glory and perfection “, picking up the letters from each step. After Faith, Hope and Charity are disposed of. the word is triumphantly found, as follows

Most Wise Sovereign     Whence come you?
Raphael (for Candidate)  From Judea.
Most Wise Sovereign   By what village did you pass?
Raphael (for Candidate)  Nazareth.
Most Wise Sovereign   Who conducted you?
Raphael (for Candidate)  Raphael.
Most Wise Sovereign   Of what tribe are you?
Raphael (for Candidate) 


Most Wise Sovereign   Give me the initials of the last four steps.
Raphael (for Candidate)  Raphael hands them to him
Most Wise Sovereign 

Worthy Knights, by the aid of Faith, Hope and Charity you have indeed succeeded in finding the Lost Word taking the initials of the last four steps of   your journey, and putting them together, you have found the Name of him who is the Word ;    

These four letters I.N.R.I. forming the word are placed on the Cubic Stone on the altar; the Candidate is presented with a rose, invested with the collar and jewel of the Order, and sealed with the “seal of perfection “—symbols of the “hidden truths known only to the perfect Mason.” The signs are given,’ and the Herald proclaims the Candidate King of the Pelican and Eagle and a Prefect and Puissant Prince of the Rose Croix of Heredom.

The concluding ceremony is the Third Point, or “Feast of Fraternal Affection “, which though outwardly professing to be a mere agape or love-feast, has in its close context with Calvary a possible interpretation far more sinister. A wafer is first consumed. The Most Wise Sovereign presents a piece to the Prelate, both dip their fragments into salt and eat them. The Prelate then communicates his next neighbour in like manner, and so on. The Most Wise Sovereign then partakes of the chalice of wine with the Prelate, who replies with the sign of the Good Shepherd, exchanging the words. The second part of this sign accompanied by the words pax vobiscum, it may be noted, is not unlike the Pax ceremony in the Latin Mass but given with the arms crossed. The Prelate then drinks with his neighbour on his left, accompanied by the same exchange of signs and words, and so on till all have communicated.

The Most Wise Sovereign, then says "all is consumed “, to which reply is made Gloria in excelsis Dec et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis

The four cards on which the letters of the word are inscribed are then removed from the Altar, “that it be not exposed to the eyes of the profane but be consumed according to ancient custom “, and the Prelate burns them in a second chalice which the 1891 edition of the ritual specifies should contain “spirits of wine with chloride of strontium “,‘ and pronounces the words consummatum est. Strontium compounds are used. as every pyrotechnician knows, in rockets and other fireworks where a vivid rose-red flame is required. Its use at this culminating point in a solemn religious ceremony is dramatic and doubtless (to a certain type) emotionally impressive. Indeed only the most captious of critics would venture to suggest that these red flames might in themselves be a Masonic symbol of the origins of this strange parody of Christian worship.

The most deadly heresy of this degree lies in the fact that it is the Candidate himself who symbolically achieves both light and perfection by his own efforts, not in Christ or Christ for him. it is the Candidate who gives his age as thirty-three who journeys for thirty-three days, passing through the Black Room and the Chamber of Death to his mystical resurrection in the Red Room. The prayer in the Black Room until recently contained the phrase grant that we, being solely occupied with the work of our redemption  And the Resurrection in the Closing ceremonies is defined significantly as the “hour of a Perfect Mason “. Our Lord’s redemptive death is treated as a type and an allegory of the experiences which a Mason must undergo in his quest for light, not as a unique and objective act of redemption wrought for him by God. This is, of course, a purely Gnostic conception.

An address on this degree explains that “the Rose is an emblem of secrecy and silence ; in the Song of Solomon we find reference to the Saviour under the mystical title of The Rose of Sharon.” Here indeed, in this direct association of Christ with an emblem which (according to Masonry, not the Bible) signifies secrecy, is a further admission that this degree interprets Christianity in the light of a mystery-religion of the type abhorred and anathematised by the early Church.

“May we henceforth treasure up the sacred doctrines of the Order in the secret repository of our hearts” proclaims the Most Wise Sovereign after the Feast of Fraternal Affection. If the “sacred doctrines” of this Order are Christian and orthodox as is so often maintained’ it is wholly false, immoral, and ridiculous to keep them in a “secret repository “. If they are other than the teachings of the Church, and therefore not orthodox, the Church has every right and indeed the duty to tear off the tawdry veil of bogus mysticism and inquire into these “sacred doctrines” to which a group of her Bishops, hundreds of her clergy, and thousands of her laity have sworn allegiance and secrecy.

- Pages 202 - 207, Darkness visible, Walton Hanna



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