by Travis Normand
The following post was taken from Bro. Art de Hoyos’ Facebook.com page. Art de Hoyos serves as the Grand Archivist and Grand Historian for the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite. Bro. de Hoyos’ post was in response to an article that appeared in the February 2013 issue of the NMJ’s Northern Light magazine titled “The River of Degrees.” This article suggested that Albert Pike copied some of the NMJ’s work.
Did Albert Pike Copy the NMJ Rituals?
In Ill. Bro. Eric Ginette’s article, “The River of Degrees” (The Northern Light, Feb. 2013), it states:
“Yet even these Pike revisions were based upon the work of many of the men of our own Supreme Council over the years, such as Hays, Enoch Terry Carson, and K.H. Van Rensselar. Identical passages show clearly that although he did not credit them, Pike copied much from their revisions of the early 1800’s.”
With all due respect to Ill. Bro. Ginette, this is absolutely WRONG.
I suspect he lifted this from Ill. MacIlyar H. Lichliter, 33°, author of a study on the NMJ rituals, who was unfamiliar with Pike’s _Magnum Opus_ (1857) as the source for much of their ritual content. He incorrectly asserted that Pike had borrowed from the NMJ rituals. After noting the ritual work of Enoch T. Carson and Killian H. Van Rensselaer, Lichliter mistakenly wrote Pike “drew heavily upon them, without giving them credit, in his manuscript rituals written between 1858 and 1866. There are many absolutely identical passages” (Quoted in Irving E. Partridge, Jr., 33°, _The Rituals of the Supreme Council, 33° for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction_ U.S.A. ([Lexington, Mass.: The Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ,] 1976), p. 27.)
Lichliter’s unfamiliarity with Pike’s _Magnum Opus_ (1857) caused his error. It was actually the NMJ which used Pike without credit.
Since this was originally posted, there has been a “lively” discussion on Bro. de Hoyos’ Facebook.com page (in the comments listed under his post) to which I would direct your attention. There have been many enlightening questions and comments, punctuated by Bro. de Hoyos’ informative and enlightening answers.
You can find a copy of the February 2013 Northern Light magazine here:
For those of you who cannot view the article online and do not receive the magazine by mail, I have copy/pasted the article below in full. Please note, all credit is due to the NMJ and The Northern Light magazine.
The Northern Light
The magazine for Scottish Rite Masons of America
Vol. 44, No. 1 – February 2013
The River of Degrees: The changing – and Unchanging – Nature of Ritual
By Eric Ginette, 33
All contents are (C) 2013 Supreme Council 33, AASR, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA. All rights reserved.
There is no doubt that many in our fraternity are troubled by changes in the degrees and the degree structure. I think this is an expected reaction, as most people are uncomfortable with change and want things to remain as they are, especially those things that have impressed us and that we are familiar with. Yet we are also aware that everything is constantly in a state of change, from our bodies to our climate. We feel that we are the same people as ever, yet science tells us there is not a single cell in our bodies that existed even seven years ago.
It is also true that for most of us our exposure to the degrees of our rite has been very brief; a few years out of 200 years and more of degree development. I thought that some perspective may be had by taking a look at what some of our degrees were like when they crossed the ocean and came to America as a manuscript in a trunk or shipping box owned by Stephen Morin.
We are very fortunate in knowing what these were for certain because of the practice of deputizing men to propagate the rite. Morin did just this when he created Henry Andrew Francken his first Deputy Grand Inspector General at Kingston, Jamaica at the very early date of 1764. Brother Francken was a Dutchman and a Mason who in this connection became friends with Morin.
It was the privilege and duty of an Inspector General to travel and set up bodies of the rite and to teach its degrees. Accordingly, Brother Francken copied Morin’s manuscript of degrees very carefully and took this manuscript north to Albany, NY, in 1767, where he established one of the oldest centers of Scottish Rite in the area that would in time become the United States.
This was the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection which is still in existence today. In the founding charter of this body Henry Andrew Francken is described as “Grand Inspector of all lodges relative to the Superior degrees of Masonry” so it is clear he had both the authority and the ritual material necessary to found bodies of “Superior Masonry;” that is, degrees beyond the symbolic lodges that would in time become the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.
These degrees were subsequently taken up by a member of the Ineffable Lodge in the 1820’s, Giles F. Yates and other Inspectors General appointed by Francken himself and were by them carried forward to form the earliest corpus of the degree rituals of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
It is the good fortune of the Supreme Council, NMJ, to possess an original manuscript of the Francken degrees containing the work from the 4°, Secret Master, to the 25°, The Royal Secret, which was the ultimate degree of that time. This manuscript is dated 1783 and is written in Bro. Francken’s own hand and bears his signature and his seal in red wax.
In 1983, the Supreme Council of Germany requested a copy of this famous document for the purpose of making a German translation, and Sovereign Grand Commander Stanley F. Maxwell honored this request and loaned them a typewritten transcript created by our Supreme Council.
In some way a copy of this transcript was made, and in the course of the years this copy was obtained by Kessinger, a publishing house for rare and out-of-print books. This has recently been made available to the public, and you can buy a copy at Amazon for a small price as a paperback edition. It is entitled simply “Francken Manuscript 1783.”
I have carefully collated this book with the actual Franken manuscript and find that except for a few blanks in the signs of the blue lodge they are identical.
Because of this it is possible for each of us to know what the degrees of the 1700’s were actually like. We can’t look at all of them here, but let us pick one of them, the 9° or “Master Elected of Nine.” In this degree, the candidate is told that in a small room adjacent they have one of the murderers of Hiram Abif, and he is asked if he will do whatever is demanded for Masonry. Agreeing, the candidate is led blindfolded to the room and, after a while, is allowed to remove the “bandage” over his eyes. He drinks from a cup, and is then instructed to strike twice an effigy of a sleeping man with a poniard and then cut his head off. Then with the head in one hand and his dagger in the other he is readmitted into the lodge room.
Here, however, instead of being praised for following these grim demands Solomon orders that he himself be killed because Solomon wanted the fugitive alive, not dead. The members of the lodge entreat Solomon to spare his life, and in time this is granted. An obligation is then taken to revenge by murder the enemies of Masonry or as a penalty to be murdered himself.
This was not a minor degree, but a major part of Scottish Rite well into the 20th century in various forms. Its symbol of the bloody dagger and severed head was the icon of the degree and was painted on the 9° apron. But more jarring to modern sentiment, I feel, was the really horrible vow the candidate had to make, to be willing to murder a man he did not know simply because he was told to do so by superiors in the rite. Certainly, the objections some have to the so called “blood oath” of the symbolic lodge degrees pale beside a ceremony such as this.
I also want to point out that this sort of jarring work was not confined to this one degree but is found throughout the early work. Vows of revenge based upon the Templar theme, dancing devils and vivid representations of “Hell” all awaited our early Brothers. The reasons for this are not hard to find. As products of an earlier age they reflected the times that produced them, when society was accustomed to harsh punishments and untroubled by many things that would disturb a more modern consciousness.
The fact is that although the world contains much trouble yet, civilization as a whole is advancing and the mind of man is evolving into levels of sensibility quite unknown to many of our forefathers. And this advancement has been greatly accelerated by the rise of modern communication and the interconnectedness of men today. One can see this in the collective Internet outcry against repression and brutality by governments around the world and the efforts of these governments to silence this medium.
Even in the highest degrees of our rite in the early 1800’s, the paramount idea was one of murder and revenge. In the 24°, styled the “Ne Plus Ultra of Freemasonry” or the ultimate degree where the full secrets and purpose of Freemasonry were explained, the candidate is told the true purpose of Freemasonry is the reinstitution of the Knights Templar; the triumph of the Crusades over the Moslems, and the destruction of the Knights of Malta, to whom the Pope had rewarded the possessions of the ancient Knights Templar after the dissolution of that order. It was explained to the candidate that having sworn eternal warfare against the “foes of Masonry” such as those of other faiths and other orders, he would be consecrated a Knight of “Kadock” and join the ranks of “those elected to the grand work.”
It would seem obvious to me that here we are very far from modern conceptions of Freemasonry as promoting concord and harmony among all men regardless of their faith or country of building an inner spiritual temple leading to an understanding of the Brotherhood of man under a universal experience of God.
It was M. H. Lichliter who proposed back in the 1940’s that we needed to “stop chasing the Ruffians through the Scottish Rite.” He was concerned at the discrepancy between the 9° and 10° as they were then and the Master Mason degree of the symbolic lodges. Illustrious Brother Lichliter was following a tradition of development and evolution in the degrees of the Scottish Rite that had been going on for generations.
Many of the early degrees of our rite were little more than an obligation and an historical lecture. Beginning with the Raymond Council of May 1861, committees were appointed to review and prepare a working ritual of the degrees of the Scottish Rite. The earliest committee was named “Committee for the Revision of the Ritual” showing that these men clearly realized that the work of former generations would not satisfy the generations of the future. Later called the “Committee on Rituals” they introduced major revisions produced by Bro. Enoch T. Carson in the 13°, 14°, 17° and 18° in 1870. Since this time ritual revisions have been a regular part of the Scottish Rite along with changes in the staging of the work.
Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin Maynard Johnson noted in his 1943 Allocution that:
“If the time ever comes when the Scottish Rite determines to remain static, when its philosophy may not be adapted to the needs of a changing world, then is the time of its obsequies. Until then, its leaders should never abandon study of the philosophy of its ritualistic teachings that, by recast and revision, it may keep in the van of advancing civilization.”
As for the 32°, it was finally removed from its “revenge the Templars” theme by Ill. John Lloyd Thomas, 33°, in 1916. Bro. John was a minister and an Active Member for New York. He created the allegory we all know and love of Constans and his temptations and with it a new vision of the Royal Secret as being a story of love rather than revenge.
The degrees of the Scottish Rite are not exercises in historic re-enactment, but the expression of an ever evolving philosophy. Based upon the past, our degrees yet look forward to the future, to a time when the highest aspiration of our forefathers of a worldwide Brotherhood of man may be realized. Men make the work of the rite rather than the work making the men, and our degrees must reflect the values and aspirations of the men of today, of the 21st century. Our rite must be a part of our developing world, not a museum of outmoded thought.
This of course is simply my opinion. However, I invite you to peruse the pages of the Franken Manuscript for yourself and see if you do not form a similar conclusion. It is a priceless look into our past and into the conceptions and thinking of the men who formed our rite.
Those degrees, however, almost from the first went through a number of stages of change; a steady march to the system we have today. Many laud the “Pike” degree work, yet Albert Pike himself totally revised the degrees he found in the rite of his day. He said “The truth is that the rite was nothing, and the rituals almost nought, for the most part a lot of worthless trash, until 1855” which was, of course, when he did his revisions. Yet even these Pike revisions were based upon the work of many of the men of our own Supreme Council over the years, such as Hays, Enoch Terry Carson, and K.H. Van Rensselaer. Identical passages show clearly that although he did not credit them, Pike copied much from their revisions of the early 1800’s.
When you joined the rite, you saw the work as it was at that moment. What you saw was not ancient timeless work, but that moment of a constant evolution both in the degrees and the men who performed them. In this, as in every other aspect of life, it is impossible to step in the same river twice. What will the degrees of the future rite be like? The only sure answer is that they will be different to suit a different world and a different time.
* * * *
Finally, as I mentioned above, there was some discussion about this article on Art de Hoyos’ Facebook.com page. However, due to the fact that everyone may not have access to Facebook.com, I am reposting some of the more informative and serious comments and responses that were made. (Note: I am leaving out comments that I felt were extraneous, humorous, or non-informative – with one exception).
- Ed Adams: Yes we all know that Pike received the ritual on tablets of stone and brought it down from Sinai. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:07 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Bro. Ed, to the contrary, Pike worked his butt off on ritual revisions, and admitted that his work was “far from perfect.” (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:09 am)
- Jerry Roach: Before Pike even joined, the SJ lost everything they had in a fire; charters, rituals, everything. They were restored by J.J.J. Gourgas. When Pike was communicated the degrees by Mackey he had not yet even heard of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, and was thoroughly unimpressed. Pike borrowed from every existing rite. Lichliter died before he could finish his research, also. To suggest that Pike, though a genius, walked down from the mountain like Moses, is silly. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Pike and Bro. De Hoyos, but a public attack of Bro. Ginette was unnecessary. I am disappointed. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:13 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: No attack, Bro. Jerry, just a correction. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:14 am)
- Scott Schwartzberg: I definitely agree, Art. As I’ve seen through my research into the various degrees, Pike’s Magnum Opus was indeed a vital source for NMJ ritual. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:14 am)
- Jerry Roach: The NMJ was still performing Magnum Opus versions of the Degrees up until at least 1978-82. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:19 am)
- Ben Sorensen: When exactly were the NMJ revisions done? Not the recent ones, but those in question? I keep reading “early 1800s” but the language seems to be mid 1800s…. And the question of the timeline here suggests mid 1800s. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:23 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Bro. Jerry, I assure you that no offense is intended. After receiving many emails about this published error, I believe it needs to be corrected. Hence, I said, “with all due respect.”“The SJ lost everything they had in a fire; charters, rituals, everything. They were restored by J.J.J. Gourgas.” Well, there are both sides to everything, of course. It was mutually beneficial. GF Yates was a Southern Jurisdiction Mason until 1827. Prior to that he received and promoted the Scottish Rite, and provided copies of the SJ rituals to Gourgas, which he obtained from Barker in 1825. Yate’s SJ revisions became the bases for the NMJ ritual revisions. When Gourgas, was “disgusted” (his word) with the NMJ leaders, he closed it ca,1813-14, and didn’t reawaken it until prompted by Holbrook in 1823. it was Yates who pushed Gourgas to reawaken the NMJ after the Morgan affair.
Again, the mark of a true historian is his demand for truth, *especially* when it contradicts his own views. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:24 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Ben, the “early 1800s” statement was another error. The only revisions the NMJ had in the “early 1800s” were actually those of GF Yates, who revised the rituals between 1823-27, while he was a member of the SJ. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:26 am)
- David Goodwin: How is the distinction made between a Primordial Rite and an Albert Pike (or other person’s) original? (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:28 am)
- Ben Sorensen: Gotcha. The way it reads, I would be inclined to agree, as Pike would not have been revising ritual in the 1820s as far as I know. But, this is where the execution of history is tricky: I would almost posit that the above paragraph is meant to mislead, or is just a case of careless writing. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:30 am)
- Ed Adams: Sarcastic humor, Brother (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:32 am)
- Ben Sorensen: I need to look deeper into this: Pike conceivably could have used Yates revisions, right? How are we sure that he did not? Are the Yates revisions still extant? Has a comparative textual analysis been done? Pike often borrowed freely… (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:37 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: The job of a historian (from my forward to a book by Alain Bernheim):“The job of an historian is to tell the truth as clearly and unambiguously as possible. For non-historians this may sound like a simple act, but for those of us who have written much history, we have learned that to do this is anything but simple. A good historian is a detective who may spend days, weeks, months or even years, trying to trace down a “simple” fact which amounts to a sentence or two, but without which one’s work would be incomplete. Or, there may a temptation to omit facts which run contrary to the interests or traditions of his associates, friends, or even the organization for which he works. He may be forced to admit that he was wrong about previously held notions or ideas upon which other historians have subsequently relied. He may have to relinquish his claim to being the foremost expert on a subject when another rises whose work shines a greater light upon otherwise obscure and troublesome issues of the past. But if he is true to himself none of this will matter to him, because all interests are worthy sacrifices upon the altar of truth … One of the first things I learned about Alain is that he does not desire criticism about his own research; rather, he demands it. It was his almost fanatical devotion to the truth, and the truth alone, which soon formed a bond between us, and is the basis of a friendship which I hold near my heart.”
[See also: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/book_une_certaine_idee.html]
(Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:41am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Ben, nope. Pike did not use Yates’s revisions (although he admired them). In 1866, after studying the rituals of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Albert Pike noted, “I add, on the subject of Rituals … Boston has none now of value, except those improved by Ill∴ Bro∴ Yates.” [Albert Pike], “A Review of an Extract from a Masonic Address. Charleston, August, 1866” in An Examination of a Report of a Masonic Committee, made at Boston, in May, 1866 (New York: Masonic Publishing and Manufacturing Co., 432 Broome Street, 1866), p. 92.The Yates material is published in my edition of “Light on Masonry.” (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:47 am)
- Casey Latham: As a history student I agree with Ill. Bro.Arturo de Hoyos on the job of the historian. Quite often research resources can be missed or misinterpreted. Peer review in this particular instance has proved valuable. Certainly due respect is accorded for Ill. Bro. Ginette as he has come to his conclusions through his research, and due respect should be accorded Ill. Bro. de Hoyos in his review and comments. The peer review process is a great help to me as well, as I have made my own mistakes. Great job to you both. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:48 am)
- Jerry Roach: I fail to see what bearing Gourgas closing and reopening the Rite has on Pike’s revisions. The key word is “revision.” Many worthy Brethren had a hand in the development of the degrees. I am not attempting in any way to discredit Pike and his vast impact on the Fraternity, but rather, Bro. De Hoyos’ need, despite being a former employee of the NMJ to “correct” Bro. Ginette in a social media format. That is why we have letters to the editor at The Northern Light. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 11:35 am)
- Ben Sorensen: It is an academic discussion; Bro. de Hoyos has the personal liberty, and the right, to discuss it both here and through the “Letters to the Editor.” There is no attack, no being disrespectful, and no malice… but rather the use of social media for exactly what it is: a forum for discussion and contact. Where is the harm in that? You will find that idiots troll the internet, but then, so do wonderful people like you, Bro. Jerry, and Bro. de Hoyos! I myself am not yet convinced one way or the other- I will need to look into Yates and Pike deeper to be swayed. I can see by timeline and proximity how the NMJ would claim Yates, and how his work may have influenced Pike… but I am not convinced that his work DID. I am also not convinced that his work did not… and this is why I am grateful that Bro. de Hoyos brought it up on FB. (Feb. 18, 2013 at 11:48 am)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Bro. Jerry, it seems to me we’re off on the wrong foot, for which I apologize. Obviously, I came across more forcefully than I intended, and I again assure you that no insult or offense was intended.To correct a minor error, however, I was never an employee of the NMJ. Rather, for a brief period I acted as an independent contractor. (As a former HR director I know the difference, I assure you.)
In retrospect, perhaps a letter to the editor would have served the same purpose, but its publication, a month or two down the road, would have allowed even more time for the historical error to spread.
Over the past week I’ve been contacted by many NMJ Brethren, here on Facebook, about Pike’s so-called plagiarism (unacknowledged borrowing) from the NMJ rituals. It seemed to me to be the quickest and easiest way to respond to the gross error. I have no problem saying when I believe Pike is wrong. Anyone who’s read my edition of Morals and Dogma will know that.
In the past, I’ve been taken to task for similar errors, and I am grateful to those who did so, because they respected me enough to be blunt, which is what any true historian demands.
As I wrote about Alain Bernheim (whom I believe to be the consumate Masonic historian): “One of the first things I learned about Alain is that he does not desire criticism about his own research; rather, he demands it. It was his almost fanatical devotion to the truth, and the truth alone, which soon formed a bond between us, and is the basis of a friendship which I hold near my heart.”
There is no rule, credo, or policy, Masonic, or otherwise, which dictates that Bro. Ginette check with us before publishing comments about Pike, and the reverse is also true. It is *not* disrespectful or an “attack” to publicly correct a historical error. I’m sure that Bro. Michael R. Poll can affirm this. We’ve disagreed on historical matters, but remain friends.
- I mentioned Gourgas closing and reopening the Rite for the sole reason to show that help came from many sources. When you mentioned the great help which Gourgas provided in a time of crisis, I merely wanted to show that the reciprocal also applied, i.e., the SJ was there to help Gourgas in his time of trouble, when his own officers would not.
- It’s been said that the only people offended by the truth are those who are comfortable living with a lie. I do not believe that Bro. Ginette, you, or the NMJ as a whole desires anything except the truth.
- To summarize: No offense is intended, and anyone writing about history should be prepared to have their research challenged. (Posted 23 hours ago – Edited)
- Michael R. Poll: Bro. Jerry Roach, I feel compelled to point out that I read the article being discussed on the internet and not in print form. Since it is being read on-line, I feel that comments made about the article made also on-line are appropriate. Yes, Art, we have disagreed on some aspects of SR history (and yes, we have been friends for many years), but in this case, we are in agreement. (Posted 22 hours ago)
- Charles E Cumming Jr: The professional reputation, credentials and constant quest for accuracy cause me to believe that Bro. Art de Hoyos is the most excellent Masonic historian today and thus I trust his judgment. Perhaps we should remember that the much sought after LIGHT is a product of discussion, research and the crucible of disagreement that grind out the best history possible. (Posted 22 hours ago)
- Jerry Roach: I just prefer we stay (SJ & NMJ respectively) “all on the same side”. No offense taken. (Posted 21 hours ago)
- Arturo de Hoyos: I always thought we have been, Bro. Jerry. (Posted 21 hours ago)
- Demolay Molina: Moral y Dogma tiene páginas abundantes plagiadas de la obra de Eliphas Levi. (Posted 20 hours ago) [Google Translate: Morals and Dogma has abundant pages plagiarized the work of Eliphas Levi.]
- Clint Stevens: What a francken mess… (Posted 20 hours ago)
- Arturo de Hoyos: Demolay Molina, mi edición de “Morals and Dogma” revela todas las fuentes (párrafo por párrafo) que Pike utilizado en la creación de la obra incluyendo todos los de Levi. (Posted 19 hours ago) [Google Translate: Demolay Molina, my edition of “Morals and Dogma” reveals all sources (paragraph by paragraph) that Pike used in the creation of the work including all of Levi.]
- Michael R. Poll: I’m not a big fan of all of Pike’s tactics, but I really don’t think that he plagiarized in M&D. Writing and publishing standards were more loose then and he did put much the the book in quotes. There are other things that I might nail him for, but this might not be one of them. (Posted 19 hours ago)