Way of the Hermit

12th Degree: Master Architect

May 01, 2022 Dr. David Brown & Gene Lawson Season 1 Episode 13
Way of the Hermit
12th Degree: Master Architect
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we discuss the 12th Degree - “Master Architect” as we continue our exploration of "Morals & Dogma: The Annotated Edition".  Transcripts, Chapter Markers and Show Notes for all episodes are available from our website - WayOfTheHermit.com.

It is highly recommended that you read the chapter in order to fully follow our discussion. "Morals and Dogma" is available from these sites:



  • Introduction (01:14)
  • Mythological Setting (01:46)
  • Morals & Dogma (03:10)
  • The Plight of Humanity (05:40)
  • The Arch of Mystery (07:23)
  • A Greater Life Beyond (08:38)
  • Life is What We Make It (10:38)
  • The Lures of Temptation (12:17)
  • God Exists, and Cares for Us (15:33)
  • Religious Faith is Indispensable to Masonry (21:52)
  • Necessity of Society (23:26)
  • Virtue Garners an Incomparable Treasure (24:40)
  • Sensitivity of the Soul (25:24)
  • Cognition Unlocks the Treasures of the Universe (27:05)
  • Seal of Solomon (28:54)
  • Five Columns and Orders of Architecture (29:54)
  • Rule of Benedict (30:45)
  • Astronomical Symbolism (31:55)
  • Tools of the Master Architect (33:42)
  • The Jewel of the Degree (34:34)


Introduction (01:14)

Gene: Hello Dave.

David: Hello Gene. How’s it going?

Gene: It's going good. Are you ready to have that Casey Kasem moment and “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars?”

David: I guess so. Is that what we're doing today?

Gene: Exactly.

David: Well, I think the chapter actually does say that at some point doesn't it.

Gene: It does… yeah.

David: Then yes. I am ready, but before we get started, I want to remind everyone that Show Notes, Chapter Markers and a Transcript of this and all episodes are available from our website - WayOfTheHermit.com.

Mythological Setting (01:46)

David: In the last degree, we were made one of the governors over the Tribes of Israel as an “Elu (or Elect) of the 12”. What is the mythological setting of this, the 12th Degree?

Gene: In the continuation of our mythos, in this degree, after Master Hiram’s death there were appointed five “Intendants of the Building'' to assume the Master’s duties. And Adoniram, which is the character that the candidate plays, having gained superior knowledge and skill, was elected to be Chief Architect of the Temple, and successor to Master Hiram. And the advancement of Adoniram to the Master Architect teaches us that the ablest, the wisest and the best of every nation should be leaders.

David: So, we (as Adoniram) become a Grand Master, like Solomon and Hiram King of Tyre and take over the role previously held by Grand Master Hiram Abiff.

Gene: Right. He assumes the position of Hiram.

David: So what type of training is he given during the degree ritual?

Gene: He was trained with the tools of the architect to measure and lay out the plans for the building.

David: And this represents a change in orientation. We have been working with the Square, the Level and the Plumb.

Gene: Right. The tools of the Master Architect change from the tools of the workmen.

Morals & Dogma (03:10)

David: Alright. That’s the backdrop for the Degree. Let’s dive into “Morals and Dogma”.

Gene: Here we go.

David: Yeah. It's a good one. Do you have anything from the opening paragraph?

Gene: The reason for my Casey Kasem joke was the last sentence is “Let us begin rise from the earth towards the stars.”

David: Ah… OK. Right.

Gene: What does that mean exactly Dave? What is becoming the focus?

David: The tools of the workman, the Square, Level and Plumb are associated with the Earth while the Compass and other tools of the Master Architect are associated with Heaven. So we’re changing our focus from the world of actions and morality to the world of ideas and philosophy. Here’s a quote from the first section - “The great duties that are inculcated by the lessons taught by the working-instruments of a Grand Master Architect, demanding so much of us, and taking for granted the capacity to perform them faithfully and fully, bring us at once to reflect upon the dignity of human nature, and the vast powers and capacities of the human soul; and to that theme we invite your attention in this Degree.”

Gene: So what does that mean for us going through this degree?

David: The quote says that it’s taken for granted that we have the capacity to perform the duties of a Master Architect. In the 8th Degree - Intendant of the Building, Adoniram was elected supervisor over the other four other Intendants, so I assume he was chosen because he was ready to assume those duties and was also the best one to fill the position.

Gene: Yeah. That is implied in the mythological statement of this degree it said that there were five that were chosen and of the five, one was chosen. So, it’s about being prepared for the next level and you’ve got to be able to do all the work up to this point before you can assume this.

David: Right. And in the last degree we discussed overcoming the vices, so before we can start “reaching for the stars” here in the realm of ideas, we have to have overcome the vices to a greater or lesser extent, otherwise the symbols in this degree won’t be meaningful. We wouldn’t actually hold the previous degree, if we haven’t come to see the Ignorance in the vices.

Gene: Yeah. Either you’ve achieved it or you have not.

David: And by being the “Chosen One” here to take over for Grand Master Hiram Abiff, it’s also implied that everyone doesn’t necessarily make it to this point.

Gene: Only the best and the brightest.

David: Indeed. Next section?

The Plight of Humanity (05:40)

Gene: And let us begin with “The Plight of Humanity”.

David: My first quote is “They do not so much want human sympathy, as higher help. There is a loneliness in deep sorrow which the Deity alone can relieve.”

Gene: This one… essentially, we’ve discussed the “Original Wound” and the separation of man from God or God from man. It's a "God-shaped hole" and that longing is the basis for a lot of suffering.

David: Pike describes that deep suffering of the soul as beyond words. He says “The thoughts that writhe there in silence, that go into the stillness of Infinitude and Eternity, have no emblems. Thoughts enough come there, such as no tongue ever uttered.”

Gene: Some things are ineffable.

David: And for that reason, the degrees 4-14 are called “The Ineffable Degrees”. And the stated purpose of the “Lodge of Perfection” is to find the name of God.

Gene: Right.

David: I have one more quote from this section about the ignorance we have of our own depth - “There are many things in us of which we are not distinctly conscious… We are unconscious of the intensity and awfulness of the life within us.”

Gene: There’s a footnote there that the “awfulness” is AWE - “full of awe”. It’s not “awful” but “awesome.”

David: That’s good.

Gene: And it goes with the whole theme of taking things for granted. Because of the distractions of daily life, we miss the awesome things around us. And we miss the things that are really important. And we don’t realize that they were important, until they’re taken from us.

David:  Amen to that Brother. Are you ready for the next section?

The Arch of Mystery (07:23)

Gene: “The Arch of Mystery”.

David: What do you have from this section?

Gene: It continues on the theme of - the world is a big, wonderful place and we are rarely aware of the sacred that is right in front of us.

David: Do you have a quote from there?

Gene:  Yeah. “A mystery surrounds us, but we are asleep to it. A dim consciousness of infinite mystery and grandeur lies beneath all the commonplace of life. There is an awfulness and a majesty around us.”

David: Again, there is the AWE we should feel all the time. I think Pike tries to ground that awe to a personal feeling of sacredness when he says “Something of sublimity and sanctity has thus flashed down from heaven into the heart of every one that lives. There is no being so base and abandoned but hath some traits of that sacredness left upon him.”

Gene: Yeah. Everyone holds something sacred… it could be a loved one, it could be a moment in time, a word of kindness, a memory from childhood.

David: Right… something to start from in order to understand what sacred even means.

Gene: And I’m not going to sing “Give Me Something to Believe In” but that song did bubble to mind.

David: And what that something is - is the subject of the next section.

A Greater Life Beyond (08:38)

Gene: “A Greater Life Beyond”.

David: The first quote I have here is - “There is more here, than the world we live in. It is not all of life to live. An unseen and infinite presence is here; a sense of something greater than we possess; a seeking, through all the void wastes of life, for a good beyond it; a crying out of the heart for interpretation; a memory of the dead, touching continually some vibrating thread in this great tissue of mystery.” What did you take as the meaning of that quote?

Gene: It had a couple of meanings. The continuum of human life. That you’re a part of the great stream that is humanity. And there’s a sense of an infinite presence… something greater, something bigger than yourself… both within you as “I can better than I’ve been before” and beyond you that you reach for to experience. And it says in certain moments, the better you can rise up and reveal itself. And that can happen to any human being at any moment because there’s a spark of divinity in each and every one of us.

David: So… what is that spark of divinity?

Gene: That’s kind of a theme that runs through all this is - “What separates us from the beasts of the field?” Consciousness. Self-consciousness and use of the intellect to discern.

David: I think that is a key point in this section and the last quote I have here speaks to that -   “To all situations, to all fortunes, high or low, the mind gives their character. They are, in effect, not what they are in themselves, but what they are to the feeling of their possessors.” To quote Morpheus from “The Matrix” - “Your mind makes it real.”

Gene: Meaning is created in your mind.

David: Our minds really are “meaning making machines”. We instinctively seek patterns. In the next section, Pike advises us to use that power to make the most out of life.

Life is What We Make It (10:38)

Gene: “Life is What We Make It”.

David: What’s your take on this section?

Gene: You cannot control what happens in life, but you choose how you react to it. You are in the driver’s seat. And I do have a quote out of this one - “Every man has the power, and should use it, to make all situations, trials and temptations instruments to promote his virtue and happiness.” It goes on to say - “don’t be a creature of circumstance… Create!”

David: That was what I saw as the key point here. Do you perceive yourself as a victim or a co-creator? Here’s a quote - ““Life is what we make it, and the world is what we make it. The eyes of the cheerful and of the melancholy man are fixed upon the same creation; but very different are the aspects which it bears to them.”

Gene: It doesn’t say it, but it reminds me of the “Law of Reciprocity” - what you put out into the world, you receive.

David: We’ve talked about this before as actions bearing their appropriate fruits, but this section goes farther than that. It calls our attention to just how much we create the world we inhabit. It says - “The eye makes that which it looks upon; the ear makes its own melodies and discords; the world without reflects the world within.”

Gene: “As above, so below.”

David: Exactly. We are active participants in an ongoing Genesis. The next section extends this co-creative worldview by discussing how vice and temptation can be transmuted into virtue.

The Lures of Temptation (12:17)

Gene: “The Lures of Temptation”. Everyone is tempted… all the time. No man is exempt from it (or woman or person) but through facing temptation head on, it builds your character.

David: That’s the key point of this section, how to transform temptation into virtue. Here’s a quote - “There are no blessings which the mind may not convert into the bitterest of evils; and no trials which it may not transform into the noblest and divinest blessings. There are no temptations from which assailed virtue may not gain strength, instead of falling before them, vanquished and subdued.”

Gene: It’s like a muscle. If you don’t use it, it atrophies and becomes weak.

David: That’s a good analogy. The one I kept being reminded of was misfortune and temptation as a grinding wheel or stone that can either dull you or sharpen you. In the last Degree, we focused on the vices. In this Degree, we see that virtue (by definition) can only be had by overcoming something. Do you have another quote from this section?

Gene: I’ve got a quote near the bottom of it - “To sigh sentimentally over human misfortunes, is fit only for the mind's childhood; and the mind's misery is chiefly its own fault.” What does that say to you?

David: Well, that quote continues by saying that the mind is “appointed, under the good Providence of God, as the punisher and corrector of its (own) fault… When it is miserable, it has planted the thorns in its own path; it grasps them, and cries out in loud in complaint; and that complaint is but the louder confession that the thorns which grew there, it planted.”

Gene: Yeah. It’s a self-correcting device…. which goes back to natural law and Providence of God.

David: That self-balancing aspect of consciousness and reality is actually easier to see in terms of cause and effect when we’re talking about our own personal mistakes. It’s harder to understand when someone close to us dies or a tragedy occurs. Those terrible events are actuall teaching moments... that's hard to see. Nothing in this world lasts. Believing that there is an underlying unity to things doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens.

Gene: Or to do my best Sam Elliott - “Sometimes you eat the bar’... sometimes the bar’ eats you!”

David: That's a way you could say it. Another way would be to say that when something bad happens, it doesn’t mean that God hates you. But if you’re suffering mental anguish as a result of it, there’s probably some lesson to learn there. As you said in a previous episode, there is acceptance and there is misery.

Gene: Things are what they are. This points back to the principles and the practices of Masonry that have been presented are supposed to arm you.

David: Right. With Truth… so that we can see things in a different light and hopefully, make the best we can of everything. It would help if we actually believed that there is an underlying order and meaning to what happens… and that is the subject of the next section.

God Exists, and Cares for Us (15:33)

Gene: “God Exists, and Cares for Us”. This right here is the proverbial can-o-worms my friend.

David: It is indeed. So where do you want to start?

Gene: The first thing I’ve got is the footnote. It says how he changed Dewey’s text, which is where it’s coming from again - Dewey’s “Discourse on Human Life”. On this Hutchens and Monson wrote “Pike’s comments about the Hebrew conception of God as revealed in the Bible should be taken as his own opinion…”

David: I saw that. Pike criticized the emphasis on the “Fear of God” in the Torah. I thought that was funny since religious toleration was a theme of a previous degree.

Gene: Yeah. He may stray and get kind of personal about it which is not very “Masonic”... but it’s very human. I’d heard this before, but I dug on the word that’s translated as “fear” (YARAH  or YNRA), which also means “reverence”. So, it’s how it’s translated and the intent of the original passage.

David: Well, to read “Reverence for God” instead of “Fear of God” would definitely change the way those passages from the Bible make you feel. Where did you find that alternate translation?

Gene: I came across a really good website. It’s called Hebrew4Christians.com. It’s very good because it takes things from a Jewish perspective and puts them in plain language that’s easier to understand.

David: I’ll link to that website in the Show Notes. I’ll also point out that it’s Hebrew4 (the number 4) Christians.com. Anyway, what do you think Pike is trying to say in this section?

Gene: Well, he’s basically laying out the case that we have the “God-Shaped Hole”.... that we need God in our lives.

David: And this is where things get sticky. I think this Degree is intended to help you deconstruct what the word “God” means to you because that word carries so much baggage.

Gene: Right, because your personal relationship with God is a very sacred and private thing. You tell me what you believe about God and it’s like the ultimate “Rorschach Test”, I can tell you what kind of person you are just from that.

David: That’s true because all we have are concepts in our minds to relate to. And whatever the “Ultimate Reality” is, I don't think it will fit into any of our boxes. I do believe that Pike is putting forward the premise that a belief in God (and I’m using that word loosely) is the only basis for a moral philosophy. Do you believe that?

Gene: I don’t know. Personally, I have a family member, whose name I won’t mention, that is an atheist. But, this person is a family man and has raised two wonderful children… obviously loves them and tries to do right by them, without quote-unquote having “faith in God”.

David: But don’t you have to have faith in something to behave morally? Basically, I believe there’s an underlying connection between us and that there is a unity behind things. But to take the standpoint of an atheist, if there is no God, which to me means that there's no underlying unity, why would you choose to behave morally? What would cause you to want to do that?

Gene: I guess because this person’s trying to be a good Humanist, a good human, without the overreaching, powerful God telling you what to do.

David: Well, if God is the ultimate cause and effect, that’s like a kid complaining when a parent tells them not to put their hand in the fire. I doesn't make it any less true just because an authority figure told you.

Gene: I know. I know. I’m trying. Umm…

David: The question is still, why choose to do good? Shouldn’t your actions be random if there isn’t anything that unites you to other people?

Gene: Any of the reasons or logic for being an atheist, I can’t conceive. Intellectually, I’m going “Ehhh… That doesn’t work.”

David: I understand, but the point I’m trying to make is that there has to be a recognition of something that binds us together to make us want to act morally. I mean, if you're trying to act morally, I assume that it would make you feel good to do good things.

Gene: Well, of course it makes you feel good to do good things.

David: Why? And why is that feeling important enough to modify your behavior because of it? I think that feeling is a starting point. You might say that feeling is what is held sacred - even by atheists who what to act morally. They might not want to call that “conscience” but, you know, whatever you want to call it... there’s a faith implied by that feeling that others have similar feelings.

Gene: That they are fellow human beings that have the same feelings I have.

David: Right. But it is faith, because you can never know what anyone besides you thinks or feels, you make assumptions because of how other people act. You have to have faith in that shared experience of consciousness and even hold that faith sacred to build a moral philosophy on it.

Gene: So what you’re saying is the principles are still there even though there’s a denial of this ideal that there’s a “Great Overlord”.

David: Maybe. I think that most people who deny the existence of an underlying unity are confused by preconceptions based on how they’ve heard people use the word God in the past.

Gene: Right. Pre-packaged.

David: Yeah. I think this Degree is supposed to help you strip those preconceptions back to basics in order to build a philosophical system on top of a firm foundation.

Gene: Trying to unpack it and throw away the baggage.

David: At least for the time being, and by that I mean for this Degree. Because, you know, that’s the reason for the different names of God given in the different degrees, but anyway, we could talk forever on this topic. Let’s move on to the next section.

Religious Faith is Indispensable to Masonry (21:52)

Gene: “Religious Faith is Indispensable to Masonry”. It’s short but it’s just reiterating the point that faith is an integral part of our human makeup.

David: Do you have a quote from this section?

Gene: Yeah. “We must, of necessity, embrace the great truths taught by Masonry, and live by them, to live happily. "I put my trust in God," is the protest of Masonry against the belief in a cruel, angry, and revengeful God, to be feared and not to be reverenced by His creatures.”

David: There’s the word “reverence” chosen over the word “fear” again.

Gene: Yes.

David: The main point of this section I thought was that because we humans live mostly in our heads humans we have to rely on faith where animals have instincts. We can’t tell instinctively whether we should trust someone just by smell… well, maybe you can with some people. The only quote I had for this section is - “If we could cut off all sense of these truths, the man would sink at once to the grade of the animal.” To put it another way, because of our big brains, we need to base our actions on principles and not just sentiment.

Gene: Yeah. Because as the Master Architect you have to make the plans from the ground up. Firm foundation.

David: Exactly. The main reason we have restrictions on our behavior is because we are social creatures, which is the topic of the next section.

Necessity of Society (23:26)

Gene: “Necessity of Society”. It’s just - society is a necessity of human function. We are not creatures that are made to live alone. Let’s see, I do have a quote… if I can find it… “The religion we teach is therefore a principle of things, and as certain and true as gravitation.”

David: That’s a bold claim, but we’re talking about a philosophy that Pike is trying to ground on very specific principles - our shared humanity.

Gene: It’s a religion of reason. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

David: Very well put. I think the idea is that the truth of this philosophy is evident if you think through it deeply enought… but you do have to do it for themself. Otherwise, you won't really be convinced.

Gene: Right.

David: The main point of the section to me was that promoting the kind of rationality we’ve been talking about in people forms the basis of a moral society.

Gene: And that a moral society is a happier, healthier society.

Virtue Garners an Incomparable Treasure (24:40)

David: Yes. And the next section breaks down what makes up a “moral society” - “Virtue Garners an Incomparable Treasure”. What do you have from this section?

Gene: This one boils down to - what makes up society? Relationships. Relationships are key. How you conduct your relationships is the cornerstone of society. It’s like you said… breaking it down.

David: The only point I had here is that it says that a person’s virtue or their reputation or the ideas that are held about a person are, in a sense, more important than the person. It says, “In his virtue, nowhere but in his virtue, is garnered up the incomparable treasure.”

Sensitivity of the Soul (25:24)

David: So he claims virtue is worth more than anything material but that worth is perceived only through the “Sensitivity of the Soul”, which is the title of the next section. What's your take on this section?

Gene: My take is - life is sweet, bitter… joy and sadness are those things that distract you from the most important thing you own, your soul.

David: And there again, a sticky word to deal with… “soul”. But, I think Pike is trying to use that term in a technical way and you can see that in this quote - “Men do not feel the worth of their own souls. They are proud of their mental powers; but the intrinsic, inner, infinite worth of their own minds they do not perceive.” He equates soul with the “intrinsic, inner, infinite” part of mind, which is consciousness itself. Do you have a quote from this section?

Gene: I do have a quote from way down in it - “Everything that exists around us, every moment in nature, every counsel of Providence, every interposition of God, centers upon one point - the fidelity of man.” What does fidelity mean to you?

David: I would say being true to the principles that you hold sacred. Trying to make sure that your actions match what you say and what you think is right.

Gene: It’s the same in the tenets of Buddhism - right thought, right words, right actions. It’s the same thing as being an upright, squared away Mason.

David: And the way what we think becomes who we are and what we do, is the subject of the next section.

Cognition Unlocks the Treasures of the Universe (27:05)

Gene: “Cognition Unlocks the Treasures of the Universe”.

David: What did you see in this section?

Gene: The different ways that you can appreciate the beauty of existence through a work of art, a poem, a song. Those things touch your soul. A very real example, I was watching television and someone mentioned that they’d just gone to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve ever been, there are no words. Stepping up to it in person, it’s an overwhelming experience. You literally lose the power of speech.

David: And that’s the definition of “ineffable”, incapable of being expressed in words. We can think thoughts that are beyond words, and that is the key point in this section… that consciousness gives meaning to everything. Here’s a quote - “Most glorious is this capacity! A power to commune with God and His Angels; a reflection of the Uncreated Light; a mirror that can collect and concentrate upon itself all the moral splendors of the Universe. It is the soul alone that gives any value to the things of this world." Do you have anything else from this section?

Gene: I do not.

David: I have one more quote - “Virtue, Heaven, and Immortality exist not, nor ever will exist for us except as they exist and will exist, in the perception, feeling, and thought of the glorious mind.”

Gene: It’s all in your head.

David: Right. You do have to understand that you’re never dealing directly with the things in themselves but always your perception and conceptualization of those things. They’re all symbols that you are, whether you know it not, creating with.

Seal of Solomon (28:54)

David: If you really think about that, you start to understand the power of symbols to change reality. And on that ominous note, we come to the last section of the Chapter - “Symbols of the Degree”. Where would you like to start?

Gene: First the “Seal of Solomon” which is two triangles, one pointing up, one pointing down, conjoined together to form a six-pointed star with one of the names of God written in the middle, Adonai.

David: Which was traditionally a substitute or generic name of God inserted instead of other names right?

Gene: Right. It essentially means “Lord”.

David: So the upward pointing triangle symbolizes Heaven, and the downward triangle Earth and the name of God in the middle to bring them together.

Gene: "As above, so below."

David: “On earth as it is in heaven.” It’s the same symbol as the overlaid Compass and Square with the “G” in the middle which also stands in for the true name of God.

Gene: Because the true name of God is ineffable.

Five Columns and Orders of Architecture (29:54)

David: Yes. The next symbol is the five columns or "Orders of Architecture" which are associated with the five subdivisions of the Scottish Rite Degree system. Gene, would you run through these for us?

Gene: OK. The five columns in the five different "Orders of Architecture" are the five principal divisions of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. They are: The Tuscan of the three “Blue Degrees”. The Doric of the “Ineffable Degrees” from the 4th to the 14th. The Ionic of the 15th and 16th or “Second Temple Degrees”. The Corinthian of the 17th and 18th degrees or those of the “New Law”. And the Composite of the “Philosophical and Chivalric Degrees” from the 19th to the 32nd, inclusive.

Rule of Benedict (30:45)

David: And that’s the entire Scottish Rite System. There’s a cryptic statement in “A Bridge to Light” that hints at the origins of the Scottish Rite. It says that there is a hidden meaning to the letters “RB” that appear over the columns. Gene, what’s the answer to this mystery?

Gene: This degree is the “Chief of Architects” which is also known in Hebrew as “Rob Banaim”. So, the open one being the name of this degree.

David: So, what is the hidden meaning?

Gene: Well, the hidden one I think that relates directly to the “Rule of Benedict”, or Saint Benedict. Which is the earliest form of monastic orders and the tenets of the “Rule of Benedict” sound pretty darn close to the tenets of Masonry to me. Did you take a look at it?

David: Yes, I did and I’ve linked to information about it in the Show Notes. That was a great find. The Rules were written down in 516 and form the basis of Western Monasticism. And yes, it sounds uncannily similar to the structure and lessons of the Scottish Rite.

Astronomical Symbolism (31:55)

David: The next symbols are astronomical. Let’s start with the North Star.

Gene: “The North Star, which is fixed and immutable for us, represents the point in the center of the circle, or Deity in the center of the universe.”

David: The point in the center of the circle is where you pin the unmoving leg of the compass. This point around which the heavens revolve is associated with “Throne of God” and Ursa Major’s seven stars symbolize the seven that circle around it.

Gene: “Seven Around the Throne”. Yeah.

David: Think about that in terms of the Officers of the Lodge. “A Bridge to Light” talks about circumambulation and the circuits of the Officers as imitations of the the circuits of the planets and the stars.

Gene: Yeah. And then we talk about the “Morning Star” which Pike says is Jupiter… which, I’ve always heard that the “Morning Star” was Venus. Do you have any thoughts on that?

David: It is Venus which is both the “Morning” and “Evening” star. Pike’s statement is corrected in both the “Monitor - Ritual and Guide” and “A Bridge to Light”. Venus and Mercury are inner planets and so from the perspective of the Earth, Venus is always fairly close to the Sun. So it often rises just before the Sun in the morning or sets just after the Sun in the evening. In the morning it’s a harbinger of the Sun.

Gene: Yeah. “The Morning Star is an emblem of us to the ever approaching dawn of perfection and Masonic Light.”

David: And the Officers embody different aspects of that light. The Master as the rising sun in the East, the Junior Warden the Sun at midday, the Senior warden in the west as the setting sun, and in the North, the darkness of midnight.

Tools of the Master Architect (33:42)

David: The last symbols of the degree we’re going to discuss are the compasses, sector, slide rule, scale and parallel ruler which are the working tools of the Master Architect.

Gene: It was the practice of Grand Master Hiram Abiff every day to retreat and pray and then once he got done praying, he would come out and put down the plans for the day on the Trestleboard. Those are the tools that he would use to transfer those plans, to bring them forth from idea to reality.

David: So to wrap things up, what does it mean to become a Master Architect?

Gene: This is very much about the intellect and how it’s run.You become the master builder of your temple of your own soul. You are in charge of the becoming.  You assume full responsibility. So you become Master of the Temple.

The Jewel of the Degree (34:34)

David: That’s a good summary. Alright. I’ve got one more thing. “A Bridge To Light” says that we should pay particular attention the “Jewel of the Degree”. I’ve got an interpretation of it but it’s a little long.

Gene:  Go ahead, that’s fine.

David: The Jewel of the Degree is 7-sided with Pentagrams at each corner. It has a triangle in the center with a Samaritan letter inscribed inside it. On the reverse side are the Master’s tools, the Five Columns and the letters “RB”.

Gene: OK.

David: The 7 corners are the 7 vices and the Pentagrams represent their transmutation into virtues.

Gene: Spirit over matter. You have to master them all. So what is the meaning of the triangle on the front side being drawn with arcs?

David: It’s drawn with the tools of the Master Architect, the compasses and represents overcoming the 3 root causes of suffering - Ignorance, Ambition and Intolerance or Fanaticism as we discussed in the previous degrees.

Gene: That’s pretty cool.

David: And finally in the center, is the letter “A”, which was the letter we talked about in the last degree in the story of the Golem.

Gene: The divine breath. 

David: Right. So, the Jewel is a talisman that encapsulates the entire moral philosophy up to this point. And the flip side has the columns and the letters RB which lay out the entire program of study that lies ahead.

Gene: That’s very cool and very thoughtful. I mean it’s simple, and concise and to the point.

David: Simple to talk about, but hard to actually do. It’s very difficult to look honestly at yourself and take responsibility for the world you live in.

Gene: I agree. “The problem is not to find the answer, but to face the answer.” - Terrence McKenna.

David: And that is a great quote to end on. What are we doing next time?

Gene: In the next episode, we discuss the 13th Degree - The Royal Arch of Solomon.

David: So, I’m David.

Gene: And I’m Gene.

David: Join us next as we continue our exploration of “Morals and Dogma: The Annotated Edition”.

Gene: As we walk the Way of the Hermit.

Mythological Setting
Morals & Dogma
The Plight of Humanity
The Arch of Mystery
A Greater Life Beyond
Life is What We Make It
The Lures of Temptation
God Exists, and Cares for Us
Religious Faith is Indispensable to Masonry
Necessity of Society
Virtue Garners an Incomparable Treasure
Sensitivity of the Soul
Cognition Unlocks the Treasures of the Universe
Seal of Solomon
Five Columns and Orders of Architecture
Rule of Benedict
Astronomical Symbolism
Tools of the Master Architect
The Jewel of the Degree