THE SONS OF THE SERPENT TRIBE The Knight of the Brazen Serpent
Knight of the Brazen Serpent, 25º
Dit amerikaanse rituaal dateert uit de tweede helft van de negentiende eeuw.
Sign. Point to an object on the ground with the index finger of the right hand; incline the head. Knocks. Nine knocks, five slow, then three short, and then one. Steps. Nine steps taken serpent-wise. Insignia. Red tunic, white sash fringed with gold; a grand star, violet ribbon worn crosswise, on which is embroidered in gold “Virtue and Courage.”
Pass word. I.N.R.I. Covered word. JOHAN RAPH (sun, to heal). Sascred word. MOSES—this spelled (taken). (Moses was the chief and the law-giver of the Hebrews; he finished his career on mount NEBO, on the last day of the moon of ADAR, the last of the year 2553; but his sepulchre has never been discovered.)
The Knight of the Brazen Serpent (25° AASR)
“Man had fallen, but not by the tempting of the serpent. For with the Phoenicians, the serpent was deemed to partake of the Divine Nature, and was sacred, as he was in Egypt. He was deemed to be immortal, unless slain by violence, becoming young again in his old age, by entering into and consuming himself. Hence the Serpent in a circle, holding his tail in his mouth, was an emblem of eternity.
With the head of a hawk he was of a Divine Nature, and a symbol of the sun. Hence one Sect of the Gnostics took him for their good genius, and hence the brazen serpent reared by Moses in the Desert, on which the Israelites looked and lived.” -Pike, M&D, p. 278 – lower. (Lecture of the 18th Degree.)
“The Phoenicians regarded the God Nomu (Kneph or Amun-Kneph) by a serpent. In Egypt, a Sun supported by two asps was the emblem of Horhat, [.’.] the good genius; and the serpent with the winged globe was placed over the doors and windows of the Temple as a tutelary God. Antipater of Sidon calls Amun ‘the renowned Serpent,’ and the Cerastes is often found embalmed in the Thebaid.” – Ibid, p. 496, upper. (Lecture of the 25th Degree.)
“The Serpent entwined round an Egg, was a symbol common to the Indians, the Egyptians, and the Druids. It referred to the creation of the Universe. A Serpent with an egg in his mouth was a symbol of the Universe containing within itself the germ of all things that the Sun develops.
“The property possessed by the Serpent, of casting its skin, and apparently renewing its youth, made it an emblem of eternity and immortality. The Syrian women still employ it as a charm against barrenness [note: even today? in 2003 c.e.?] , as did the devotees of Mithras and Saba-Zeus. The Earth-born civilizers of the early world, Fohi, Cecrops, and Erechtheus, were half-man, half serpent. The snake was the guardian of the Athenian Acropolis. NAKHUSTAN, the brazen serpent of the wilderness, became naturalized among the Hebrews as a token of healing power. ‘Be ye,’ said Christ, ‘wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.'” – Ibid., 496-497.
“If the details of their doctrines as to the soul seem to us to verge on absurdity, let us compare them with the common notions of our own day, and be silent.” – Ibid., 522.
THIS degree, we have come to understand, according to our own self-initiation into the Mysteries of the High Degrees, comes third after the two Tabernacle degrees, the 23° and the 24°. This may be considered spurious by the purists, but we must remind: For too long have these things resided in the hands of inept persons, unable to interpret the runes, they mistake them for symbols, rather than the living Ideas that they Are.
Is this degree relevant to the concept of Ophiolatreia, or Serpent-Worship? Is this a residue of the Serpent-Cult, found in the bosom of High-Grade Freemasonry? Wouldn’t the Anti-Masons love it, were we to answer in the affirmative. The only thing, is this: We must ask the reader to form his/her own conclusions, by studying the materials available. We would like to be able to include the entire chapter 25 from Morals and Dogma, in a text only file, but the collection of chapters from M&D that is generally available online does not include this important chapter. This may change. Also, we will include the other items, from the Pike version of the Degree, that we have in our possession, and we may do it all one better: by developing it into our version of the Symbolism. Only time will tell.
Certainly the concept of the Serpent of Brass in the Wilderness is a potent symbol, used particularly in the New Testament in reference to Christ Jesus. And, in a greater context, utilized during the early Messianic movement, to refer to He who was to Come.. This was used during the Dosithean movement particularly, for as Moses raised up the Serpent in the Desert, so was Dositheos, the Samaritan Messiah.
This is a rather peculiar degree in Pike’s version of the Rite, because of the manner in which the ritual’s legend and action relates to the Legenda of the degree. The subject matter of the Legenda for the 25° belongs more properly with the ritual of the 22°, the Knight of the Royal Axe, or Prince Libanus. At least on the surface, since the Druzes are discussed in that degree and in the Encyclopaedias. The Knight of the Royal Axe will be discussed in depth in the next segment of this work, The Old Battle-Axe, but we may share a few words presently. The Ritual has to do with the Builders / Tree-fellers in the Lebanon, who were responsible for cutting down the sacred trees for use in the building of Solomon’s Temple. At the time of the Crusades, the Templars encountered these ancient builders, aka the Tsidonians, who were to be identified with the Druzes, and this is, supposedly, how the Authentic Tradition of the Gnosis passed from the Near East to Western Christendom.
Now, we state, supposedly. When we get to the Knight of the Brazen Serpent, we get the story about the afflicted ones in the desert during the final year of the wanderings in the Wilderness. That is when the Brazen Serpent is raised in the desert. It is the Court of Sinai, supposedly, or at least, the Court of the Israelites in the Wilderness. In the North we are told, is the Mountain itself, with the tents of the Hebrews in the foreground.
This sounds all good and well, you say? What happens when we get to the discourse in the Legendas? Something different. Something entirely different that opens doorways that lead us to see that our Thesis is not necessarily mere conjecture. But, it presents problems for those who continue to exist under the pretension that the three religions of the Book are exclusive entities that have little or nothing to do with one another, except fight each other! As we have said several times before, WAKE UP!
One clue before we divulge it all later on in this piece: Chapter 25 in Morals and Dogma deals almost entirely with the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris, of Cycles, such as the Precession of Equinoxes, of the mysteries of the stars which our predecessors the Sabians occupied their time with; and, too, the mysteries of the Saba-eans of Arabia and Ethiopia. Quite a varied tapestry even for Albert Pike. A lot of this material will appear to be by several others, and it is. However, we are putting all of these materials so that we can present something new, based upon the symbolism, that leads to some interesting historical conclusions, at least by way of our slagheaps of conjecture method! And the slagheap resembles Gebel- el -Druz in the Hauran!
THE LEGEND OF THE DEGREE FROM THE MASONIC ENCYCLOPAEDIAS Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry
Knight of the Brazen Serpent. (Chevalier du Serpent d’Airain.) The Twenty-fifth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The history of this degree is founded upon the circumstances related to in Numbers ch. xxi. ver. 6-9. “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned; for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee: pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” In the old rituals the Lodge was called the Court of Sinai; the presiding officer was styled Most Puissant Grand Master, and represented Moses; while the two Wardens, or Ministers, represented Aaron and Joshua. The Orator was called Pontiff; the Secretary, Grand Graverl and the candidate, a Traveler. In the modern ritual adopted in this country, the Council represents the Camp of the Israelites. The first three officers represent Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, and are respectively styled Most Puissant Leader, Valiant Captain of the Host, and Illustrious Chief of the Ten Tribes. The Orator represents Eleazar; the Secretary, Ithamar; the Treasurer, Phinehas; and the candidate an intercessor for the people. The jewel is a crux ansata, with a serpent entwined around it. On the upright of the cross is engraved ytlx , khalati, I have suffered, and on the arms Nt#wxn , nakhushtan, a serpent. The French ritualists would have done better to have substituted for the first word yt)+x , khatati, I have sinned; the original in Numbers being wn)+x , Kathanu, we have sinned. The apron is white, lined with black, and symbolically decorated.
There is an old legend which says that this degree was founded in the time of the Crusades, by John Ralph, who established the Order in the Holy Land as a military and monastic society, and gave it the name of the Brazen Serpent, because it was a part of their obligation to receive and gratuitously nurse sick travelers, to protect them against the attacks of the Saracens, and escort them safely to Palestine; thus alluding to the healing and saving virtues of the Brazen Serpent among the Israelites in the wilderness.
This is rather interesting. In particular, the reference to the founding of the Order at the Time of the Crusades: A military and monastic society. There is nothing that says that the Knights Templars were the only such Order at the time, but… what if department… stay tuned!
From Macoy’s Encyclopaedia and Dictionary of Freemasonry:
“The camp, standards, and tabernacle, with its court, are arranged as in the 23rd and 24th Degrees.”
So, that complies with what we write concerning these three degrees being related.
From The Compleat Rite of Memphis by Allen H. Greenfield:
PASSWORD: I. N. R. I. COVERED WORD. JOHAN RAPH (sun, to heal).
What is important about this? INRI, of course is an important word at the Rose+Croix Level.
RAPH: To Heal. Raphadon, a word of importance in the Knight of the East (15°). Rephaim, of course. Also the Essenes were known as Healers, as were the Therapeuts.
JOHAN: This touches upon the Johannite theme. Stay tuned as we piece together a Crusades oriented legend for this degree, by the time we wrap up this segment of the work.
FROM WAITE’S NEW ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF FREEMASONRY.
The seven planets of old astronomy illuminate the Court of Sinai, according to the symbolism of this Grade, and in its centre is the Burning Bush. There are also twelve pillars, in correspondence with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The High Priest Aaron is dead, but Moses the Lawgiver is still in the manifest land of the living and is represented by the Master of the Lodge. The Mount of Sinai is shewn on a Tracing-Board in the North, but an illuminated transparency in the East exhibits a Tau Cross, encompassed by a serpent. The planetary lights are referred to traditional angels in the following order: (1) The archangel Saphael is the president of the Moon, and he is termed the Messenger of God; (2) the healing influence of God is represented by Raphael, whose rule extends over Mercury; (3) Hamaliel is the governor of Venus, and he is called the merciful kindness of God; (4) The Sun is emblematic of the Good Principle, a reflection and image of the Divine, and its archangel is Zerachiel, understood as the uprising of God and the Sun of Righteousness; (5) Auriel is in correspondence with the fire and light of God, and it is he who is Lord of Mars; (6) Jupiter is under the obedience of Gabriel, the strength and might of God; (7) Saturn is under the rule of Michael, who is described as the semblance or image of God. Attributions of this kind are drawn in most cases from the dregs and lees of Kabalism and differ in every text.
Procedure of the Grade. – The Candidate is presented in the guise of a wayfarer and he is promptly loaded with chains, though he comes as a son of the Tribe of Reuben, announcing a great misfortune which has befallen the people of Israel and imploring relief in need. They are fleeing before venomous serpents, sent in punishment of their sins. He has withstood the stiff-necked generation on his own part when they rebelled in the wilderness against the long exile therein, against the burdens of forty years, against the manna which was given them when they called aloud for bread. But he is now an intercessor for his people, in humility before the face of their leader, and seeing that he has done well, remembering his duty to God, he is relieved of his yoke of manacles, while the Grand Master as Moses retires to call upon God, that He may have mercy on those whom He has chosen. The Master returns bearing a symbol of salvation, being a Brazen Serpent entwined about the Tau Cross. It is presented to Eleazar – the High Priest in succession – who is told to erect it in sight of the people, that they may look thereon and live. It is given thereafter to the Candidate, as a symbol of faith, repentance and mercy. Such is the sense of the Grade, as represented by Pike’s codex: it will be seen that it is without title to existence, asa mere replica of the Scripture narrative, though in the mania of the scheme it is communicated under solemn pledges of secrecy and with heavy penalties attached. It is the Twenty-fifth Degree of the SCOTTISH RITE and is supposed to inculcate the doctrine of liberty, equality and fraternity, but under veils that are past removing;. A French codex belonging to the first half of the nineteenth century is consecrated to civil freedom, a subject which does not seem to arise out of the narrative in Holy Scripture. There is finally an ORDER OF THE BRAZEN SERPENT, which is a chivalry referred to Crusading times, and is so distinct from other degrees existing under this title that I have dealt with it in a separate notice. See KNIGHT OF THE SERPENT.
FROM CROSS’ TEMPLAR’S CHART
Jeremy Cross was associated with Cerneau Masonry. Therefore, in the eyes of the AASR he was a heretic, and in a lot of cases he was a bit of a bungler, but the guide to the Ineffable Degrees is s priceless gem. It is a supplement to the Templar’s Chart.
KNIGHTS OF THE BRAZEN SERPENT.
The Lodge is festooned with red; above the throne is a transparency resembling the burning bush, and the All Seeing Eye.
In the centre of the Lodge is a cone representing a mountain, on which is a cross with a serpent entwined thereon, over which are the letters V and C. At the food of the mountain a lamb. The Lodge is lighted by a single flambeau.
The Chief Officer receives the appellation of Most Powerful Grand Master. The Wardens are called Ministers, and the Brethren, Knights. There is also an Inspector, the candidate a traveller.
A scarlet sash, on which is painted or embroidered the motto, – Virtue and Courage. The jewel is a serpent entwined around a rod terminating in a T; it represents the serpent that Moses set up in the wilderness in the camp of the Israelites, by looking upon which they were healed of the wounds caused by the serpents that had pursued them in the Desert.
The brazen serpent was afterward carefully preserved in the Temple, but as it finally became an object of idolatry to the Jews, Hezekiah, king of the Jews caused it to be broken in pieces.
FROM OTHER SOURCES
Such as: Father of Lies, by Warren Weston.
25. Knight of the Brazen Serpent. (Num. xxi, 6-9). Legend: Moses placed brazen serpent on tau-cross: all looked at it and said, ‘Hatatha’ (‘I have sinned’). Hangings are red and blue. A transparency depicts the burning bush with the Incommunicable Name in centre behind the Throne. Only one light; in centre of room, a mount with 5 steps; on summit is placed the Brazen Serpent. Lodge is called ‘Court of Sinai.’ Most Puissant Grand Master is Moses. Jewel is serpent entwined around tau-cross standing on a triangle bearing four letters of Tetragrammaton; worn suspended by red ribbon.
THE SERPENT NEHUSHTAN
[All quotations from the Bible are from the RSV Ecumenical Edition.]
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”
Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
And the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. ~~~ Numbers 21:5-9.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, That whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ~~~ John 3:14-15.
Possible Sources for this Symbol
The following comes from Encyclopaedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary Political and Religious History The Archaeology Geography and Natural History of the Bible, by T. K. Cheyne and J. Sutherland Black. Volume III. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1902.
2 K. 18:4b is rendered thus in EV, ‘and he brake in pieces . . . Nehushtan’ (with two marg. rends., ‘Or, it was called,’ and ‘That is, a piece of ‘brass’). The implication is that when HEZEKIAH [q. v] destroyed this idolatrous object, he called it ‘a mere piece of brass (bronze).’ …
To suppose that those who offered sacrifices [… see INCENSE, §1] to the brazen serpent called it ‘Piece of Brass,’ is surely absurd. Still, the grammatical structure of the sentence favours the view that a statement respecting the name given by the worshippers is intended, and the question arises whether ]nun1 represents correctly the name given by the worshippers to this sacred object. The theory which is archzologically the most defensible as to the religious significance of the brazen serpent has suggested to the present writer that the original word may have been Ntywl, Leviathan, and that the deuteronomist, who (probably) adopted 2K. 18:4-5a from the royal annals, out of a religious scruple changed Ntywl into Nt#xn, which of course involved interpreting wl-)rqyw ‘and he (Hezekiah) called it.’ 
Origin and Meaning
The early writer from whom the deuteronomist draws in 2 K. 18:4 brings Nehushtan (?) into connection with the brazen serpent … mentioned in Nu. 21:9. Combining these two passages we are justified in supposing that in the regal period the superstitious Israelites sacrificed to the idol to obtain the recovery of their sick (cp SERPENT). It would not, however, follow that a healing virtue had always been supposed to be inherent in this sacred object. The fact (as we may venture to regard it) that the brazen oxen in I K. 7:25 were really copies of the oxen which symbolised Marduk in Babylonian temples (from which the brazen ‘sea,’ also symbolic, was probably derived) suggests that for an explanation of Nehushtan we should look to Babylonia (see CREATION, §§ 13, 19, 22). Now, it is certain from very early inscriptions (KB 31, p. 143; 32, pp. 21, 35, 73j that Babylonian temples contained, not only brazen oxen, but also brazen serpents. Some of these (see e.g, KB 22, p. 35) may have been protective serpents, such as were worshipped in the larger Egyptian temples; but when, as in Solomon’s temple, only a single one is mentioned, it is reasonable to suppose that it is the ‘raging serpent’ ( i e . , Tiamat) that is meant, as in the inscription of king Agum-kakrimi (KB 31, p. 143). If so, the brazen serpent (more properly called LEVIATHAN, see above, I), which Solomon adopted with the brazen ‘sea,’ and the brazen oxen from Babylonia, was originally a trophy of the Creator’s victory over the serpent of chaos.
In later times it is very probable that the true meaning was forgotten ; it appears from Am. 9:3 (see Serpent, § 3f) that the prophet Amos had heard only an echo of the old dragon-myth. A new meaning would therefore naturally become attached to the venerated synibol-the meaning suggested above, which is supported by the etiological story  in Nu. 21 (cp Baudissin, Stud. Sem. Rel. 1288).
A less probable theory of the brazen serpent must not be unrecorded. UT. K. Smith thought (J. of Phil. 9-99) that ‘Nehushtan’ represented the totem of the family of David, and was worshipped by members of that stock in the manner described in Ezek… This theory, however, is based on the traditioual text of 2 S. 17:25 (see NAHASH), so that the totem-theory needs some modification in order to become plausible. Hence Renzinger has suqgested that there may have been a serpent-clan among the tribes which united to form the Israelitish people cp Gen. 49:17, of which Nehushtan may have been the sacred symbol just as the ARK [q.v.] may have been that of the tribe of Joseph. It is very doubtful, however, whether the so-called ‘serpent-names, NAHASH, NAHSHON, NUN, and NEHUSHTA are textually sound; all are in various degrees suspicious.
Was the brazen serpent in the temple really of primitive origin? We may well doubt it. The presumption is that it was neither more nor less ancient than the other sacred objects of Babylonian affinities in the temple of Solomon (cp CREATION, § 19).  TKC
 Or else ywl in Ntywl fell out owing to the preceding wl, and #xn was inserted by conjecture for the missing letters. This approaches Noldeke’s suggestion, … (ZDMG, 1888, p. 482 n. 1). But the combination of these two terms for ‘serpent’ could not have been original. Klost is also at any rate on the right track; he explains (Nty #xn), ‘ancient serpent.’ See SERPENT.  The view here taken of Nu. 21:5-9 is not disproved by W. H. Ward’s discovery of a ‘Hittite’ cylinder on which worship is apparently represented as offered to a serpent on a pole. Indeed, such a representation helps us to understand how the story came to arise (cp SERPENT).  The writer has maintained these theories for several years, nor is he under obligations to other critics. Only after writing the above did he observe Stade’s combination of suggestions in CVZ 1467, one of which is that the idol Nehushtan might be connected with the cultus of the sky-serpent.
Our Comments Here
This Encyclopaedia article reminds us of some interesting passages we found recently in Sayce’s Hibbert Lectures, relating to Tiamat. Also, if the Hebrews went via the Sinai Peninsula, as is the orthodox viewpoint, they might have come in contact with Serabit al-Khadim, which is a Hathor Temple / Turquoise and Copper Mine located on the western Sinai peninsula. There She was worshipped as the Serpent Woman.
THE INITIATION RITUAL
Description. / Decorations / Layout of Ritual Space.
North or Winter. (Blanchard.)
The Lodge, in this Degree, is styled The Council; and represents that held near Mount Sinai; when the New Moon occurred at the Vernal Equinox, in the last year of the journeying of the children of Israel in the desert. The hangings are red and blue. In the East is a throne, over which is a transparency; and on that is painted a burning bush, having in its centre the word hwhy . Besides this transparency, the Lodge has seven lights, extending from East to West, and the centre one being a great globular light in the centre of the room, representing the sun. The other lights are of wax, three on each side of the central light; and over the seven are suspended the following emblems, arranged from East to West;… … Saturn … Jupiter … Mars … The Sun … Venus … Mercury … The Moon. Around the Lodge are twelve columns, each having on its capital one of the zodiacal signs, commencing in the East with Taurus, and going round by the North, West and South in regular order.
In the North is a painting, representing Mount Sinai, with the tents of the Hebrews in the foreground. The Lodge is supposed to be in the open air, at daybreak, in front of the Tent of Moses, where he gave audience to the people who came to prefer their complaints and grievances. The arched ceiling overhead should represent the morning sky.
Over the seat of the Presiding Officer is a winged globe encircled by a Serpent; and on each side of him is a short column on which is a Serpent, his body coiled in folds, and his head and neck erect above the folds. – Magnum Opus.
The Lodge, in this Degree, is styled The Council. It represents the Camp of the Israelites at Punon, on the eastern side of the mountains of Hur, Seir, or Edom, in Arabia Petraea on the confines of Idumaea, after the death of Aaron, when the new moon occurred at the Vernal Equinox, in the fortieth year of the wandering of the children of Israel in the Desert. The Camp, Standards, and Tabernacle with its Court, are as in the two preceding Degrees. In the East is a transparency on which is painted a cross, with a serpent coiled round it and over the arms.
On the right of the presiding officer is a short column, on which is a winged-globe encircled by a serpent. On the left of the Senior Warden and right of the Junior Warden are similar columns, on each of which is a serpent or basilisk, his body coiled in folds, and his head and neck erect above the folds. The globe and all the serpents are gilded. – Liturgy.
The scene of this Degree is the long since ruined city of Kanout… – Legenda.
This Lodge is styled the Court of Sinai. The hangings are red and blue. Over the throne in the East is a transparency, on which is painted a burning bush, and in the centre the word hwhy . The lodge is illuminated by seven lights extending from East to West, the centre a burning bush, one being a large globular light representing the Sun. Over these lights are suspended the signs of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon. Around the Lodge are twelve columns, each having on its capital one of the zodiacal signs, commencing in the East with Taurus and going round by the North, West and South in regular order.
In the North is a painting representing Mount Sinai, with the tents of the Israelites in the foreground. Over the seat of the presiding officer is a winged globe, encircled by a serpent. On each side of him is a short column on which is a serpent, his body coiled in folds and his head and neck erect above the folds. (Blanchard.)
The Presiding Officer represents Moses and Osiris, and is styled Most Potent Leader. He sits in the East. The Senior Warden represents Joshua and Horus, and sits on his right. The Junior Warden represents Caleb, or Anubis, and sits in the West. He is styled Lieutenant Commander, and the Senior Warden, Commander of the Host. The Orator is styled High Priest, represents Eleazar and Orion, and sits in the South. The Secretary is styled Register, and sits on the right of Joshua. The Treasurer sits on the left of the Presiding Officer. The Senior Deacon is styled Examiner, and the Junior Deacon, Archer. – Magnum Opus. The Senior Warden, sitting in the West, on the left hand, represents Joshua, the son of Nun; and the Junior Warden, in the West, on the right hand, represents Caleb, the son of Yephanah. The former is styled ‘Most Valiant Captain of the Host;’ and the latter, ‘Illustrious Chief Prince of the Tribes.’ The Orator sits on the right of the Most Puissant Leader, represents Eleazar the son of Aaron, and is styled ‘Most Excellent High Priest’. He wears the full dress of the High Priest, as prescribed in the two preceding degrees. The Secretary represents Ithamar, the son of Aaron, sits on the right of the presiding officer, at the side of the hall, a little to the front, and is styled ‘Excellent Scribe.’ He wears the Priest’s dress, as prescribed in the previous Degrees. The Treasurer represents Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, sits on the left of the presiding officer, at the side of the hall, a little to the front, and is styled ‘Excellent Recorder.’ He also wears the Priest’s dress, as prescribed. The Expert sits on the South side, and the Assistant Expert on the North side of the Tabernacle;’ the Grand Master of Ceremonies in front of the Senior Warden, and the Grand Captain of the Guards near the door of entrance.
These Brethren are all styled ‘Respectable’, and the other members are addressed as ‘Brother and Knight A,” or ‘B’. – Liturgy.
The order is a crimson ribbon, on which are embroidered the words, one under the other, … OSIRIS … ORMUZD … OSARSIPH … MOSES … and under them a Bull, with a disk, surmounted by a crescent, between his horns. This is worn from left to right: and across it, from right to left, is worn a broad, white, watered ribbon; on which are the words … ISIS … CERES … over a dog’s head and a crescent. On the right breast, on the left breast, and at the crossing of these orders is a star of gold. Under that on the right breast is the letter A (for Aldebaran); under that on the left breast the letter A (for Antares); and under that at the crossing of the orders , the letter F (for Fomalhaut). On the crimson cordon is the word hrwbg [GBURH – Valor]; and on the white, Nw) [AUN – Virtus] … meaning Active Energy, or Generative Power and Passive Energy or Capacity to produce.
The jewel is a Tau Cross surmounted by a circle -the Crux Ansata – round which a serpent is entwined. On the cross is engraved the word ytlx [KhaLaTI; He has suffered or been wounded], on the upright part of the cross; and on the arms the word Nt#xn , [NeKhuShTaN. . . the Brazen Serpent].
The apron is white, lined and edged with black; the white side spotted with golden stars, and the black side with silver ones. Those on the white side represent, by their positions and distances, the Pleiades, the Hyades, Orion, and Capella. Those on the black side represent the stars of Perseus, Scorpio and Bootes. In the middle of the white side is a triangle in a glory, in the centre of which is the word hwhy. On the flap is a serpent in a circle, with his tail in his mouth, and in the centre of the circle so formed, a scarabaeus or beetle. Over this is a star of gold, with the letter R (Regulus) over it; on the right side of the apron another, with the letter A (Aldebaran) over it; on the left side another, with the letter A (Antares) over it; and at the bottom of the apron another, with the letter F (Fomalhaut) over it.
The Battery is 9 – by 5 slow; 3 quick and 1 by itself. – Magnum Opus. The only major difference in this section of the Liturgy is: Those on the black side [of the apron] represent the stars of Perseus, Scorpio, and Ursa Major. The HOUR, for opening: Is the Dawn of the morning of the Vernal Equinox. For Closing: The evening twilight.
MP = Most Puissant. SD = Senior Deacon. JD = Junior Deacon. JW = Junior Warden, SW = Senior Warden. A = Archer. E = Examiner. O = Orator. CH = Commander of Host. LC = Lieutenant Commander.
MP: Brethren, Princes of the Tabernacle and Knights of the Brazen Serpent, if the day and the hour have arrived, I propose to open here a Council of Knights of the Brazen Serpent, for mutual instruction and the performance of the necessary duties. Be clothed; and await, each in his place or station, the customary orders.
[The brethren are clothed, and the officers assume their stations].
MP: Brother Examiner, it is our first duty to see that we are secure from intrusion. See that the guards are set, and inform them that we are about to open this Council, that they may keep watch and ward as they should do.
SD: Brother Archer, set the guards without the doors of the Council, and advise them that it is about to be opened; that they may keep watch and ward as they should do, and allow none who are not entitled to approach.
[The Archer goes out, returns, gives the alarm of the degree, which is answered from without, and reports]:
JD: Most Respectable Examiner, the guards are posted, and duly informed as to their duties; and we are secure against intrusion.
SD: MP Leader, the guards are posted, and duly informed as to their duties; and we are secure against intrusion.
MP: Brother LC, are all present Knights of the Brazen Serpent? Be certain of that, by receiving the pass-word from each.
[The Junior Warden goes round, receives the pass-word from each Brother, returns to his place, and says]:
JW: MP Leader, all present have the Pass-word, and I recognize them as Knights of the Brazen Serpent.
MP: Thanks, my Brother! Brother Commander of the Host, what is the hour?
SW: Most Potent Leader, It is the Dawn, if the morning of the Vernal Equinox. The God-like child sits upon the waters in the gates of the Orient, not yet arisen; while the Earth awaits to rejoice at the blessing of his smiles. The Circle surmounted by the Crescent shines in the Heavens; and is the sign of the Celestial Bull, House of Venus and place of the Moon’s Exaltation; the Sun, mighty with a new life and the New Moon are in conjunction, and open the New Year and the Chaldaean Saros; while, blushing and reluctant, the beautiful Star Amalthea rises with the Sun in the East.
MP: If that be the hour, it is time to open this Council. Whom does our brother Eleazar represent here?
SW: ORION, whom Zoroaster dying invoked; Trita Aptya, and Tistrya, in whose belt glitter the three Kingly Stars, known of old time to mariner and husbandman; Orion visible to all the habitable world.
MP: Whom does our brother Caleb represent here?
SW: SIRIUS, called by the Egyptians SOTHIS, and by the Hebrews CALEB ANUBACH; who, as the Sun meets the joyous Pleiades, sweet Virgins of the Spring, rises with the King of Day, and doubles the activity of his fires.
MP: And whom do you, my Brother, represent here?
SW: HORUS, the Son of ISIS and Osiris; before whom Typhon, the malignant Serpent of the Northern Pole, flees aghast, and sinks in the dark Western Ocean, as Aldebaran leads the starry armies of Heaven up the sky’s eastern slope, and the dogs of Orion climb upward, while the foul Scorpion shudders on the world’s western edge.
MP: Whom does the Most Potent Leader represent?
SW: Osiris, King of the Starry influences of Light and Life; Ahura Mazda, Great Principle of Light and Good; Moses, Attys, Adonis, Dionysos, Bacchus, Apollo – all Personifications that in all ages have represented with most feeble the Divine Principle of Good, the Eternal, Infinite, Incomprehensible Self and Source of Light and Life.
MP: Alas! I am nis most feeble and inconsiderable creature; and even as I am, so is the Sun of Spring, that the Ancients deemed a God and the Source of life and generation; and so were Osiris and Ormuzd, Atys, Saba-Zeus, Bel and Amun, and all the mighty Deities imagined by those who watched the stars in Ethiopia and Egypt, on the Chaldean plains and upon the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains. I am but a poor, feeble, erring, fallible man, who need your aid, my brethren, your countenance, your encouragement, your counsel, to enable me to perform aright the duties that here devolve upon me. Brother Commander of the Host, are you a Knight of the Brazen Serpent?
SW: MP, I know the meaning of the Cross around which twines the Serpent, and of the coiled basilisc.
MP: Where obtained you that degree?
SW: In a legal Council of Knights of the Brazen Serpent, held in a place representing the open space in front of the Tent of Moses near Mount Sinai.
MP: When was the first Council of Knights of the Brazen Serpent held?
Answer: In the fortieth year of the journeying the people of Israel, at the Vernal Equinox, when the days of Moses were almost an hundred and twenty years, and the end of his pilgrimage drew nigh; and when the people of Israel murmured and complained that he had brought them up from Egypt to die there in the wilderness.
Question: At what hour?
Ans.: At the dawn of day; when Aldebaran, preceded by Orion and his dogs, led up the glittering host of Heaven in the East, and Capella gleamed also on the Eastern margin of the Desert; while low in the West Antares shone malignant, and Fomalhaut in the South looked calmly on the land of Idumaea: when the people were gathering the manna, and the cloud still rested on the Tabernacle.
Q: What are your duties, as Knights of the Brazen Serpent?
Ans.: To purify the soul of its alloy of earthliness, that through the gate of Capricorn and the Seven Spheres it may at length ascend to its eternal home beyond the Stars; and to preserve and perpetuate the Great Truths enveloped in the symbols and allegories of the Ancient Mysteries.
MP: That we may perform these duties, Valiant Commander of the Host, it is my pleasure that this Council be now opened. This you will make known to the Exc.’. Lieutenant Commander, and he to the Knights, that all may have due notice.
SW: Exc.’. Lt.’. Commander, it is the pleasure of the MP Leader, that this Council be now opened, in order that the duties incumbent upon us here may be performed. This you will make known to the Knights, that they, having due notice, may aid in opening the same.
JW: ¶¶¶¶¶ ¶¶¶ ¶ Knights and Masons, you will be pleased to give due attention, while the MP Leader with our aid opens this Council; that we may here proceed to perform the duties that devolve upon us.
MP: Let the Seven Mystic Lights dispel the darkness of the Council!
[JW lights in succession the three lights on the west of the Central Light, saying, as he lights each, beginning on the West, as follows]:
JW: The Moon shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Tsaph-AL; the messenger of God; = Mercury shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Reph-AL; the Healing Influence of God; = Venus shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Khmali-Al, the Merciful Kindness of God.
[SW then lights in succession the three lights on the East of the Central Light, saying, as he lights each, beginning in the East, as follows]:
SW: Saturn shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Mich-AL; the Semblance and Image of God; = Jupiter shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Gebir-AL; the Strength and Mightiness of God; = Mars shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Auri-AL; the Light and Fire of God.
[The MP advances and lights the Central Light, saying]:
MP: The Sun, newly risen Osiris, the beneficent Ormuzd, Type of the Principle of Good and Light, and feeble and imperfect image of the Deity, shines in our Council; and over it presides the Archangel Zerekhi-AL, the Rising of God, the Sun of Righteousness.
[Then the MP returns to his place, and says, “The Sign, My Brethren!” All give the sign; then the MP raps ¶¶¶¶¶ slow, ¶¶¶quick, and ¶ by itself, and each Warden does the same in succession; and the MP declares the Council to be Duly Opened].
The Candidate is prepared in the ante-room, by being dressed in a plain garb, without insignia or jewel, and loaded with chains.
The Examiner (having first satisfied himself as to his proficiency in the preceding degrees), accompanies him to the door of the Lodge, and gives the alarm [ ¶¶¶¶¶ slow; ¶¶¶ quick, and ¶ by itself]; which is answered by one rap [¶] from within, and the Archer opens the door and asks:
A: Who comes here, and upon what mission?
E: One of the people of Israel, to announce to the MP Leader a great misfortune that has befallen the people; and to implore at his hands relief and assistance.
A: Who is the applicant, and by what right does he claim admission here?
E: Eliab, the son of Pallu, of the Tribe of Reuben; loaded with chains; in token of the penitence of the People, who flee in terror before the venomous springing serpents that Adonai hath sent to punish them.
[The Archer directs the Candidate to wait a time, until the MP Leader is informed of his request, closes the door, and reports to the Lt. Commander, who reports to the MP , who directs that the applicant be admitted. He enters, and is led up in front of the MP, where he kneels, and the Examiner answers for him].
MP: Who art thou that comest thus, loaded with chains?
E: Eliab, of the Tribe of Reuben, sent in behalf of the People, who dare not come before you, Adonai being angered with them.
MP: AH! disobedient and stiff-necked people! How have they again tempted His anger?
E: MP Leader, the soul of the People was much discouraged, because of the way, journeying from Mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and coming hither to Punon, they spake against Adonai, calling him the Power of Evil, and against you, saying: ‘Why hath Al-Schedi and his servant Moses brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor any water, and our souls loathe this unsubstantial manna. We go to and fro, lo! now almost these forty years, and as Aaron, who gave back to us the worship of the celestial Bull hath died in the Desert, so also shall we all die here. Let us put trust in Adonai no longer; but let us call on the Great Gods Amun and Astarte, Osiris and Isis, to deliver us from this bondage of misery.’ And as they cried aloud on those Gods, and many among them invoked Typhon, the Power of Darkness and Evil, lo! Adonai sent venomous springing serpents among them, who dart upont he people, curling round and biting them, and by their venom much people of Israel hath already died. And those that remain have repented, and say, ‘We have sinned; for we have spoken against Adonai and his servant Moses.’ And they said unto me, ‘Put heavy chains upon thy neck to token of our penitence, and go for us unto Moses our Leader, and beseech him to pray unto Adonai that he take away the serpents from us;’ and I have done as they desired.
MP: Hast thou also murmured, and called upon the false Gods of the Egyptians and Phoenicians?
E: Because I refused, and withstood the people, and rebuked them in the name of Adonai, Lord of Tsbauth, they sought to slay me; but repenting they sent me hither, because I had not sinned like them.
MP: Thou hast done well, arise! Relieve him of his chains, and give him a seat of honour, for that he hath not forgotten his duty to his God. Life is a war, in which one must prove his soldiership, in order to rise in rank. Force is not given. It has to be seized.
He only is worthy of initiation in the profounder mysteries who has overcome the fear of death, and is ready to hazard his life when the welfare of his country or the interests of humanity require it; and to die even an ignoble death, if thereby the people may be benefited.
And ye, my Brethren, remain here with patience, until I pray unto the God of Israel again to forgive and save his People that he hath chosen.
[The MP , who represents a very feeble old man, rises, assisted by two brethren, and is absent for a time. When he returns, he brings with him a serpent of brass entwined round a Tau Cross, with his head elevated above it; and after taking his seat, he says]”
[SLOW AND PLAINTIVE MUSIC]
MP: I have prayed for the People, and Adonai hath said unto me: “Make thee an image of a venomous springing serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” Take thou, therefore, Eleazar the High Priest, this Serpent and Cross, and give it to the Prince of the Tabernacle, who now waits in the West. Let him place it upon a pole, and go forth to the congregation, barefoot, and clothed in a white robe, and set in the middle of the camp, and make proclamation that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live; for the LORD is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and has forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
[Eleazar takes the serpent, and goes out. After a time he returns and says]:
O: MP Leader, great is ADONAI, AL-KHANAN, the God of Mercy; for he hath mercy on his people Israel. This Prince of the Tabernacle hath gone fearlessly into the midst of the camp, among the fiery serpents, bearing the Brazen Cross and Serpent, symbols of everlasting life; and every one that hath beheld the serpent, owning his sin and doing homage to the Most High, is healed, and liveth; and the plague of the serpent is stayed.
MP: Praise ye the Lord, Adonai, AL hwhy L’AL ALIUN, my children, the Supporter of the Heavens and the Earth! – for He is Great, and His Mercy endureth forever, and He hath forgiven His people Israel.
MP: The plague of Serpents is stayed; and as they have fled to their caves in the rocks, so the Celestial Serpent flees, with the Scorpion, before the glittering stars of Orion. The great festival of the vernal equinox approaches, my Brethren, and it is time to prepare ourselves by purification for the passover. Light will soon prevail once more over darkness; and the pulses of life again beat in the bosom of earth, long chilled by the wintry frosts. My brethren, what signs indicate the approach of the Great Festival?
CH: The twenty-seven stars of the Husbandman, by the mystic numbers, one, two, and three, have disappeared during the glancings of the Dawn. The Celestial Ram, clear in the East at the morning twilight, announces the approaching entry of the Great Light of Heaven into Taurus; and the Celestial Twins, chief Cabiri of Samothrace and Gods of Mariners, plunged in the solar fires, accompany the sun across the upper Heavens, and go down with him into the dark bosom of the waters when he sets.
LC: The Pleiades prepare to lead up the Sabaean year: the Heavenly Watchers, Succoth-Benoth, Virgins of Spring and daughters of Atlas and Hesperia, whose lost sister, wedded to a mortal lover, weeps with dishevelled hair, afar off in the Heavens.
O: The Sun, flushed with victory, and marching towards the Celestial Lion of the Summer Solstice, will to-morrow meet the new Moon in the Sign of the Celestial Bull, and Earth will rejoice and thrill with happiness through all her veins and arteries, at the new life which the fortunate conjunction promises. To-morrow with him will rise the Pleiades, and the rainy Hyades, in whose van marches the brilliant Aldebaran, Leader of all the Heavenly armies.
CH: With him will rise Orion’s Dogs – Sothis, the Star of Isis, whose light glitters many-coloured, like that of the diamond, and whom Ormuzd set over the celestial host; and Procyon, both straining at the leash up the blue slope of Heaven; and behind them Orion, known to the Assyrians as Nimrod, who taught mortals the chase and to worship the eternal fire: Orion, before whom Perseus far to the westward flees; and who with his bright stars glittering on his shoulders and in his belt will unite with Horus, and rising heliacally with the Celestial Bull, will conquer Typhon, and plunge him in the dark western ocean over which ever broods eternal night.
MP: Thus shall Osiris conquer Typhon, and Ormuzd, Ahriman. Thus again, in the ever-revolving circle of change, shall the Empire of Light prevail against that of Darkness, and the Principle of Evil flee before the Principle of Good. And evermore through the bright gate of Capricorn shall the souls of men ascend to their old starry home; until the final victory of Light, when Winter and Darkness and Evil shall be no more forever; but in all God’s universe, as now among the stars that circle around His Throne in solemn harmony, eternal Light, undying Happiness, and everlasting Spring. Therefore, my children, prepare by continence and fasting and the proper purifications, as the soul is prepared to ascend to Heaven, for the Great Festival of the Passover, which and the opening spring it celebrates are types to us and to all initiates of the Sacred Mysteries, of that eternal spring of Light and Happiness, which God has promised, and for which we humbly but confidently hope.
LC: Most Potent, what shall be done with the brazen image of the Serpent and the Cross, which thou didst cause to be set up before the people?
MP: I give it to you, my Brethren, that it may be evermore a symbol of Faith, Repentance and Mercy; which are the great mysteries of man’s destiny. And lest the knowledge of its true symbolic meaning should be lost, and the people of Israel should hereafter, following the example of the Egyptians and Phoenicians, imagine this mere emblem and symbol of healing and divination to be a Divinity, and invent for it a history, and make of it a new God, as they are ever prone to do, ye shall perpetuate the remembrance of this day’s occurrences, and the true meaning of the Serpent and the Cross, and of our other symbols, and of the fables of Osiris and Ormuzd, as a part and the last degree of those Sacred Mysteries which Joseph, the son of Jacob, like myself, learned from the Egyptians; and which I have taught to you, such as our forefathers, before the days of Abraham and the Pharaohs, practised them upon the plains of Chaldea.
Kneel, therefore, my children, and with me swear, in the presence of the Most High God, faithfully to keep and perpetuate the true meaning thereof, and the secrets of the last degree of these our Mysteries; and to teach and practise the virtues which our symbols illustrate and represent.
[All kneel, including the Candidate; and all repeat the following]
I do solemnly promise and swear, before the Most High God, by His names, Adonai, Lord of Heaven and Earth, and Al-Khanan, a God full of Mercy and Compassion, that I will never reveal the secrets of this Degree of Knight of the Brazen Serpent, nor by my presence aid in revealing them, to any person who shall not be entitled to receive them, by having passed through all the previous degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite; nor without due authority lawfully obtained.
I furthermore promise and swear that I will perpetuate the true meaning of the Tau Cross entwined with a Serpent, and of the other symbols of Masonry, and of the ancient fables of Osiris and Ormuzd, so far as I may be capable of doing so; and will prevent them, if in my power, from being the occasion of the worship of new idols and images, visible or mental.
I furthermore promise and swear that I will at all times earnestly endeavour to practise all the virtues which the symbols of Masonry represent and illustrate; and repenting of my sins, my errors and my vices, I will strive to reform whatever in my conduct and conversation may be amiss.
And should I wilfully and knowingly fail or neglect to keep and perform any part of this my obligation, I consent to be deemed unworthy of Divine mercy or human kindness; and that the fiery serpents of remorse and an accusing conscience shall torture me forever. So help me God, and aid me to keep these promises!
[The MP then takes his seat, and says:]
MP: My son Eliab, approach and receive the Signs, Words and Tokens of this Degree.
[The Candidate is caused to approach the East by [z] [z may equal 9] serpentine steps, advancing first the right foot; and the MP then communicates to him the Signs, Words, and Tokens.]
Due-Guard: Incline the head, and with the forefinger point at some object on the ground… or, extend the right hand and arm to a distance before you, looking forward, as if descrying some object afar off, and pointing to it.
First Sign: Place the left wrist in the right hand, forming a cross; then lay both on the stomach and bow.
Second Sign: Place the left hand over the heart, inclining the body to the same side, as if you felt a sharp pain there.
Third Sign: Make the sign of the cross on yourself as a Catholic does.
Token: Place yourself upon the right of the person to be examined, and take his left wrist with your left hand.
Answer: He takes your right wrist with his right hand.
Second Token: Clench the fingers of each other’s hands, and put the thumbs against each other, so as to form a triangle.
Sacred Word: Al-Khanan.
Sepher ha-Debarim notes:
HOLATI: hlx , Kholah, ‘was sick, afflicted, infirm.’ ytilx, Kholaiti, ‘I was sick, afflicted;’ the first person perfect in Kal, yt being the pronominal suffix, I. And as lwx, Khul, or Khol, means ‘being in pain’ the first vowel is o or u, and Holati or Kholatai is correct. ‘I was sick or wounded.’
EL-HANAN; or AL-HANAN: Nnx-l) , Al-Khanan, Al the merciful.
The Covered Word, the old Rituals say, is John Ralph, who was the Founder of the Order.
Secret Lecture – Legenda
MP: May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, provide a man that may be over this multitude; that may go out and in before them, and lead them out and bring them in; lest the people of the Lord be as sheep without a shepherd.
And the Lord said to him, Take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and put thy hands upon him! and he shall stand before Eleazar, the priest, and all the assembly of the people, and thou shalt give him precepts in the sight of all, and part of thy wisdom, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may hear him.
[Legenda proper follows here.]
[The MP then invests the Candidate with the apron, collar, and jewel of the Degree, saying]:
MP: I now accept and receive you a Knight of the Brazen Serpent; and I invest you with the apron, collar and jewel of this Degree. Their blazonry, so far as you do not already understand it, will be fully explained in the lecture of this Degree, which you will receive from the Brother Orator, to whose seat you will now repair.
Lecture – Morals and Dogma
[Download this important lecture here….]
MP: Brother LC, what is the hour?
LC: MP Leader, the twilight after Sunset. The Pleiades and Aldebaran and the Three Kings of Orion have sunk in the Western ocean, and Perseus rises with the Scorpion in the East.
MP: Then it is time to close this Chapter, until Light, ever alternating with Darkness, as Good with Evil, and Happiness with Sorrow, in this world, again obtains the mastery. How shall we be safe while Evil and Darkness frown from their gloomy thrones upon the Earth?
LC: By faith in God’s Providence, repentance of our sins, and reformation.
MP: Right, my son! Brother Commander of the Host, give notice that this Council is now about to close, in order that the Brethren may rest from their labours.
CH: Brother LC, make known to the Brethren that the MP Leader is now about to close this Council; that, while the Scorpion domineers in Heaven with the Serpent, they may rest from their labours.
LC: Brethren, the MP Leader is about to close this Council, that while the Scorpion and Serpent domineer in Heaven, you may rest from your labours. Rest, therefore, until Aldebaran again leads up the Hosts of Heaven.
[The SW and JW and the Master, each in succession, rap, as in opening:
¶¶¶¶¶ ¶¶¶ ¶
The sign is given, and the MP declares the Council closed.]
THE LECTURES ON THE DEGREE
There are several different Lectures for the 25°, as well as several works which were intended to supplement the Initiate’s knowledge of the mysteries and symbolism of the Degree. One such work, of course is the Lecture given as Chapter 25 in Morals and Dogma. Another, of course, is the Legenda for the degree. Also, we find works, such as William R. Singleton’s Serpent Worship, serialized in an old Masonic Periodical, to be appropriate reading for this Degree. Stay tuned: We have a new edition of this crucial work coming out this year. Then, of course, we have other works, such as Hargrave Jennings’ Ophiolatreia, which is now available online: HERE. That work is on the Curriculum. We have noticed already, Henry Clausen’s abridged version of the Rite, and his notes on this degree. Now we pay attention to the Legenda, which we originally planned to run in our discussion on the Druzes in the next major segment, The Old Battle-Axe.
This is how the Legenda for the 25° opens:
“The scene of this Degree is the long since ruined city of Kanout, in the Anti-Libanus, situated on the deep river of that name, which flows between steep banks through the middle of the city. It has been calculated that the extent of the city along the river, following a bend of it, was between two and three miles. To the southwest was a copious spring, standing by which, one has an extensive and uninterrupted view of the beautiful plains of the Houran or Hauran, bounded on the opposite side by the snow-capped mountains of the Haish. The Prophet Ezekiel refers to these fertile plains in his vision respecting the borders of the land (xlvii. 16-19), ‘Hazar-hatticon, which is by the coast of Houran and from Damascus.’
“The Romans called the Houran, ‘peraea,’ and divided it into six cantons, the most northern being that of Abilene, between Lebanon and the Anti-Libanus.
“The mountain Gebel al Sheik, in the Anti-Libanus, due west from Damascus, is supposed to be the highest of that region, its summit being perpetually covered with snow.
“In approaching from the sea the ancient city of Sidon, one beholds, of a summer’s morning, one of the most magnificent and inspiring pictures ever looked upon by mortal man, prominent in which is the snow-capped peak of Lebanon, covered with the golden glories of the Dawn. The land promised to Abraham and his seed forever lies in full view, high mountains with snowy tops sparkling in the morning sunlight, marking a bold outline against an intensely blue sky. On the summits and in the valleys and dells of these mountains the people known as the ‘Druses’ dwell, a people isolated from all others in the matter of faith and doctrines and in regard to the hopes and fears which are connected with the unknown land into which the dead enter.” -Legenda 25, [First Edition, pages 27-28.]
Compare this with the information we are given in the Liturgy for the 25°:
“The Lodge, in this Degree, is styled THE COUNCIL. It represents the Camp of the Israelites at Punon, on the eastern side of the mountains of Hur, Seir, or Edom, in Arabia Petraea on the confines of Idumaea, after the death of Aaron, when the new moon occurred at the Vernal Equinox, in the fortieth year of the wandering of the Children of Israel in the Desert.” – Liturgies of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Kessinger Edition, p. 111).
Punon is a long way away from Kanout, is it not? True, it is adjacent to yet another Bozrah, but it cannot even come close to Kanout. What is taking place in this material? Pike’s Ritual in Magnum Opus, simply states that the Lodge represents that held near Mount Sinai and nothing more. We get nothing more in the Book of the Words. In the Blanchard ritual we get nothing at all that gives us any idea where the ritual is supposed to take place.
So, it is clear to us, that if the Degree takes place in Kanout, or Qanawát, then the Israelite material is used in an allegorical sense, much like it is in the AASR. There was undoubtedly no such thing as Knighthood at any time in those ancient days. Knighthood is something that came about in the centuries prior to, concurrent with, and following, the Crusades. Realistically speaking, what else can we say? It is necessary to look up what we can on the town itself. It was an important place at the time of Herod, when Herod was conducting missions against the Nabateans. It was one of the Nabatean towns, one of the towns of Roman Arabia, and was not considered very important after the Islamic expansion, or so we are told. At least it was a good place to go into hiding with the Tradition, evidently. We present some maps, first from Burckhardt, which shows the general region, the river itself which flows through the lava beds. Also, it shows Bosra and other important towns. Important: a road does connect Bosra with Kanout, or Kanouat, as in the map. It is possible, too, that the degrees 23 – 30 represent an initiatory cycle communicated by the Ancient Order back in those times. Now, do not mistake what we say: We are not saying that this Ancient Order practiced the rites given in the AASR, as they are presented to us in these old books. We are saying that the Primitive Initiation, that was preserved in the Gnosis, was given in these places, and represented as the Court of Sinai in the AASR rituals.
Here is Burckhardt, from his Travels, describing the visit to Kanout/Qanawat/Kanouat:
[Travels In Syria And The Holy Land; by JOHN LEWIS BURCKHARDT. (LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, 1822), pdf edition, missing some of the inline graphics in Arabic, and the plates which we have in another version. See the Readings section below for the whole section that this was taken from.]
November 17th. – We rode to the ruined city called Kanouat (…..), two hours to the N.E. of Soueida; the road lying through a forest of stunted oaks and Zarour trees, with a few cultivated fields among them. Kanouat is situated upon a declivity, on the banks of the deep Wady Kanouat, which flows through the midst of the town, and whose steep banks are supported by walls in several places. To the S.W. of the town is a copious spring. On approaching Kanouat from the side of Soueida, the first object that struck my attention was a number of high columns, upon a terrace, at some distance from the town; they enclosed an oblong square fifteen paces in breadth, by twenty-nine in length. There were originally six columns on one side, and seven on the other, including the corner columns in both numbers; at present six only remain, and the bases of two others; they are formed of six pieces of stone, and measure from the top of the pedestal to the base of the capital twenty-six feet; the height of the pedestal is five feet; the circumference of the column six feet. The capitals are elegant, and well finished. On the northern side was an [p.84] inner row of columns of somewhat smaller dimensions than the outer row; of these one only is standing. Within the square of columns is a row of subterraneous apartments. These ruins stand upon a terrace ten feet high, on the N. side of which is a broad flight of steps. The pedestals of all the columns had inscriptions upon them; but nothing can now be clearly distinguished except ,6 JT< 4*4T< "<,206,< upon one of them.
Two divisions of the town may be distinguished, the upper, or principal, and the lower.
The whole ground upon which the ruined habitations stand is overgrown with oak trees, which hide the ruins. In the lower town, over the door of an edifice which has some arches in its interior, and which has been converted in modern times into a Greek church, is an inscription, in which the words [xxxxx] only, were distinguishable.
A street leads up to this building, paved with oblong flat stones placed obliquely across the road in the same manner which I have described at Shohba. Here are several other buildings with pillars and arches: the principal of them has four small columns in front of the entrance and an anti-room leading to an inner apartment, which is supported by five arches. The door of the anti-room is of one stone, as usual in this country, but it is distinguished by its sculptured ornaments. A stone in this building, lying on the ground, is thus inscribed: [xxxxx].
[p.85] The principal building of Kanouat is in the upper part of the town, on the banks of the Wady. The street leading up to it lies along the deep bed of the Wady, and is paved throughout; on the side opposite to the precipice are several small vaulted apartments with doors. The entrance of the building is on the east side, through a wide door covered with a profusion of sculptured ornaments. In front of this door is a vestibule supported by five columns, whose capitals are of the annexed form. This vestibule joins, towards the north, several other apartments; their roofs, some of which were supported by pillars, have now all fallen down. The abovementioned wide door opens into the principal apartment of the edifice, which is twenty-two paces in breadth by twenty-five in length. From each side of the entrance, through the middle of the room, runs a row of seven pillars, like those described above; at the further end, this colonnade is terminated by two Corinthian columns. All the sixteen columns are twenty spans high, with pedestals two feet and a half high. In the wall on the left side of this saloon are three niches, supported by short pillars. To the west is another vestibule, which was supported by five Corinthian columns, but four of them only are now standing. This vestibule communicates through an arched gate with an area, on the W. side of which are two Corinthian pillars with projecting bases for statues. On the S. side of the area is a large door, with a smaller one on each side. That in the centre is covered with sculptured vines and grapes, and over the entrance is the figure of the cross in the midst of a bunch of grapes. I observed similar ornaments on the great gate at Shakka, and I have often seen them since, over the entrances of public edifices. In the interior of the area, on the E. side, is a niche sixteen feet deep, arched at the bottom, with small vaulted rooms on both its sides, in which there is no other opening than the low door. [p.86] On the S. and W. sides, the building is enclosed by a large paved area.
At a short distance from thence is another building, whose entrance is through a portico consisting of four columns in front and of two others behind, between two wings; on the inner sides of which are two niches above each other. The columns are about thirty-five feet high, and three feet and a half in diameter. Part of the walls only of the building are standing. In the wall opposite the entrance are two niches, one above the other. Not far from this building, toward its western side, I found, lying upon the ground, the trunk of a female statue of very inelegant form and coarse execution; my companion the priest spat upon it, when I told him that such idols were anciently objects of adoration; by its side lay a well executed female foot. I may here mention for the information of future travellers in these parts, that on my return to Soueida, I was told that there was a place near the source of spring water, where a great number of figures of men, women, beasts, and men riding naked on horses, &c. were lying upon the ground.
Besides the buildings just mentioned, there are several towers with two stories upon arches, standing insulated in different parts of the town; in one of them I observed a peculiarity in the structure of its walls, which I had already seen at Hait, and which I afterwards met with in several other places; the stones are cut so as to dovetail, and fit very closely.
The circuit of this ancient city may be about two miles and a half or three miles. From the spring there is a beautiful view into the plain of the Haouran, bounded on the opposite side by the mountain of the Heish, now covered with snow. There were only [p.87] two Druse families at Kanouat, who were occupied in cultivating a few tobacco fields. I returned to Soueida by the same road which I had come. – pp. 84-88.
Here are some maps: 1.) — taken from Burckhardt's Travels, and marked up, adjusted a bit. 2.) — Taken from Roman Arabia, by G. W. Bowersock.
We now proceed to the Lectures of the Degree. See the next section for more, dealing with the ultimate conclusions of this line of research. We start with a more exoteric explanation of the Degree, but not without its own key points. This is from Clausen's Commentaries on Morals and Dogma, (1981) by Henry C. Clausen, former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Rite:
CLAUSEN'S ABRIDGED INTERPRETATION OF THE DEGREE
We tackle here the concept of the pure, celestial, eternal soul of man. It is a belief of great antiquity that the soul existed before union with our bodies; else, argued most philosophers, how could the soul exist after the body if it did not exist before and independent of the body. Such was the teaching in the Mysteries. The serpent was regarded with reverence in olden days as the author of the fate of souls. In coil, with head erect, it was used in the royal ensign of the Pharaohs and was consecrated in the ceremonies and the Mysteries and by the Hebrews and the Gnostics. In rituals of the Bacchus Saba-Zeus, the serpent was flung into the bosom of the Initiate. We of the Scottish Rite teach with vigor the lessons of many philosophies and religions, recognizing the unanimity of aims, ideals, and moral lessons, especially a similar mystical death which symbolized the descent of the soul into the infernal regions and then its resurrection to the grandeur of light, truth and perfection.
The history of this Degree is founded upon the story in Numbers XXI:6-9. The Lord sent fiery serpents among the rebellious Israelites and caused them to repent their sins and ask Moses to intercede. He prayed and was told to put a fiery serpent upon a pole and that those who looked upon it, when bitten, would live. So he made a serpent of brass, set it upon a pole and every person who looked on it, when bitten, was saved from death.
The action is in a desert camp of the Israelites among the neighboring Ishmaelites, who were Arabs and descendents from Abraham through his son, Ishmael, and his handmaiden, Hagar. The candidate passed through the houses of the earth, planets, sun, moon and light. In the course of so doing, he succeeded in achieving personal betterment. Then there was revealed the Old Testament symbol of a 'brass serpent' upon a tall column.
We are again reminded that the Mysteries taught the doctrine of our divine nature, the nobility of the immortal soul and the grandeur of its destiny. The serpent was used among the symbols. In some quarters the reptile was considered the author of the fate of souls. In the Mysteries of Bacchus and Eleusis, it was consecrated. It is found in Mithraic monuments and was used in the royal ensign of the Pharaohs. It was as often a symbol of malevolence and evil, according to Hebrew writers and in the Indian and Persian mythologies. Every devout follower of Zoroaster was obliged to exterminate serpents.
We know that repentance for sins committed possibly may prevent a repetition, but it never will redeem what has been done. The relentless hand that smites us is our own. The offense and the punishment are the same in the domain of eternal justice. He who wrongs another only, in fact, injures himself. He sinks the dagger into his own heart. But we still have under our control the remedy of evil, and the increase of good. We can implement the powers of love, purity and spirituality. This Degree is therefore philosophical and moral, teaching not only repentance, but also reformation. It is devoted also to an explanation of symbols of Masonry, especially those connected with the ancient and universal legend of death and restoration of life. A deeper meaning is that the rule of darkness and evil is only temporary and that light and good shall be eternal.
We must sow carefully, therefore, if we would reap a harvest of happiness. Our Philosophical Degrees impart – and each of our degrees from the First to the Thirty-second teach by ceremonial and instruction – that the noblest purposes and duties of man in life are to struggle and overcome and win mastery over the material and sensual, to reach the spiritual and divine within himself. There is in him, as in the universe, God's harmony and beauty and equilibrium. This laudable aim requires a knowledge that man is possessed of a spiritual nature – an eternal soul advancing ever nearer and nearer to perfection and the light of the Divine Presence – He of omnipotence and onmiscience -infinite in power and wisdom and mercy, with love and infinite pity for the frail and imperfect creatures of His creation.
While we have dealt with the Lesser and Greater Mysteries that have come down to us over the long centuries from ancient times, the truths they impart are as pristine pure and as timely to us as our modern civilization. We can look at the creative purpose behind the universe in many ways, rejecting idolatry, superstition and infantile fantasies. We can refuse to believe in a capricious Deity that metes out favors and punishments according to rules and regulations. The Scottish Rite does not insist upon following man-made dogmas as a necessary step toward eternal salvation. Our teachings are relevant to contemporary problems and to our social and moral obligations.
We stress that it is God who gives us good, freedom, love, reason, moral choice and identity. Those are things for which we can ask and pray. They are synonymous with God if we condemn evil and strip from all religions their orthodox tenets, legends, allegories and dogmas. And, since religions proclaim the Omnipotence of God, so also are the basic characteristics omnipotent that are synonymous with God. A definition of omnipotence may be 'the infinite, unlimited source of all power.'
It follows then that if we have faith in those basic characteristics of God, if we reflect them in our lives, and if we think those thoughts and exclude from our consciousness the opposite, we have within us an infinite, unlimited source of power. This requires conscious rejection of the opposites, a blotting-out from the mind of despair, forebodings, self-pity, fear and anxiety, and filling the vacuum with thoughts of harmony, health, perfection, faith and courage.
What a world this would be if all nations would practice that philosophy. We would have achieved a true New Age. No more wars, no more crime; Brotherly Love and life would be lived in all God's glory. That age was foreseen when Henry James told us in his autobiography:
"Were half the power that fills the earth with terror, Were half the wealth bestowed in camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals or forts."
Perhaps the stars in transition have a message for us, as the world plunges through space into the Age of Aquarius. The astronomers point out that the celestial motion of our galaxy completes an orbit every 26,000 years. This can be divided into twelve divisions, or some 2,100 years of space. These events are related to Masonry. We celebrate the feasts of the equinox and of the solstice. Our altar is in the East. Lights, furniture and symbols refer to the heavens.
Having in mind, as Einstein demonstrated, that matter and energy are interchangeable, so that actually everything is material or vice versa, we know that the new division we are entering will bring new energies. These may have tremendous effects upon us, our civilization and our earth, just as sunspot cycles are related to weather changes and economic cycles.
H. G. Wells, in his novel, 'In the Days of the Comet,' told of a world beset with warfare, treachery and intrigue, over which a mysterious comet discharged a gigantic green cloud. It put everyone on earth into a strange sleep. Then they awoke to an encouraging change. Anger and mistrust were gone. In the calm of genuine human understanding, soldiers threw down their weapons and, in the fullness of peace, greeted as friends the former objects of hatred. So, also, an eventually awakened mankind will reject material ambition for a conquest of self in the new age of happiness.
Diogenes and Thoreau, each in his day, were exponents of the contented life. Diogenes declared 'you lose the elusive object of your search when you scramble for the luxurious life.' One day Alexander the Great went to where huge crowds were waiting to hear him speak. But Diogenes stayed home. Noting the absence, Alexander asked, 'What can I do for you?' Diogenes replied, 'Just one thing. Stand aside; you are blocking my sunlight.'
We may find some contradictions when we get to Pike's materials, from which Clausen derived a lot of his material from the Rite. Particularly in the second part of the Legenda for the Degree.
MORALS AND DOGMA
"The scene of this Degree is the long since ruined city of Kanout, in the Anti-Libanus, situated on the deep river of that name, which flows between steep banks through the middle of the city. It has been calculated that the extent of the city along the river, following a bend of it, was between two and three miles. To the southwest was a copious spring, standing by which, one has an extensive and uninterrupted view of the beautiful plains of the Houran or Hauran, bounded on the opposite side by the snow-capped mountains of the Haish. The Prophet Ezekiel refers to these fertile plains in his vision respecting the borders of the land (xlvii. 16-19), 'Hazar-hatticon, which is by the coast of Houran and from Damascus.'
"The Romans called the Houran, 'peraea,' and divided it into six cantons, the most northern being that of Abilene, between Lebanon and the Anti-Libanus.
"The mountain Gebel al Sheik, in the Anti-Libanus, due west from Damascus, is supposed to be the highest of that region, its summit being perpetually covered with snow.
"In approaching from the sea the ancient city of Sidon, one beholds, of a summer's morning, one of the most magnificent and inspiring pictures ever looked upon by mortal man, prominent in which is the snow-capped peak of Lebanon, covered with the golden glories of the Dawn. The land promised to Abraham and his seed forever lies in full view, high mountains with snowy tops sparkling in the morning sunlight, marking a bold outline against an