Council of Kadosh, Degree Descriptions
description below is reprinted with the permission of the
Scottish Rite Journal.
Noachite, or Prussian Knight
33°, Grand Cross
PO Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044–0070
Photo: Oil painting by Bro.
Robert H. White, 32°
21° and its titles represent a curious historical accident.
Although it is less discussed in Freemasonry today, in the 1700s and
early 1800s there was a strong Masonic tradition which placed Noah as
one of the Craft's major patrons involved with the preservation of the
knowledge of antediluvian arts
and sciences during the Flood and its transmittal to the generations
which followed. Some systems went so far as to make Noah the central
legendary figure rather than Hiram. Freemasons were sometimes called
Noachites or Noachidae, sons of Noah.
Degree, the story intermingles with that of the Vehmgericht, a medieval
court headquartered in Westphalia, hence the term "Prussian Knight." It
is a strange combination, but it produces one of the most powerful and
theatrical Degrees of the Rite. All the
elements of high drama are there—a meeting in the forest at
night by the light of the full moon; men of integrity and power forced
to confront personal biases they did not know existed within
themselves; the ease with which one may fall into dishonor; the power
of faith—all this and more takes the stage in this Degree. It
is a powerful cautionary tale.
of the 21° is yellow, lined with white. On the flap is an Arm
of Justice, i.e., an arm holding a naked sword and prepared to strike.
On the body of the apron is a winged human figure. The forefinger of
his right hand is on his lips, and he holds a key in his left hand. He
is the Egyptian figure of Silence. In A Bridge to Light, Dr. Rex R.
Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross, points out that the wings are an
addition and that Plato indicated wings symbolized "intelligence,"
while to the alchemists they represented "the higher, active male
principle" (page 177).
different jewels may be used with the Degree. On it is a triangular
plate of gold having on it an arrow, pointing downward. Or, the jewel
may be a disc of silver (representing the full moon), showing an Arm of
Justice surrounded by the words Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum—"Let
there be Justice, though the heavens fall." The cordon of the Degree is
a broad black ribbon, worn from right to left.
several important lessons in this Degree. The first is the great
importance of a free and legitimate judiciary. Elsewhere, Pike points
out that access to the courts is more important than access to the
important lesson of this Degree is that we must be very, very careful
when judging others. By definition, we are making a judgment on the
basis of inadequate data. We should especially be hesitant to judge
someone negatively. Almost all of us have had the experience of
deciding that we didn't like someone we just met, only to find out
later that the person is truly good and someone we would want as a
friend. Being human, we will form first impressions, but we must be
willing to set those aside when more information comes to us.
important lesson is that we must never become too impressed with our
own knowledge or ability. We must not, in the words of the ritual,
become "wise in our own conceit." Doing so not only leads us into
error; it also makes the error self-perpetuating.
important lesson is that of the strength of faith. Often, only faith
will be there to sustain us. In the Degree, this is not just faith in
God, but faith in some ideal or goal such as justice, or faith in the
ultimate triumph of right, or even a faith in our own ability.
the Degree teaches that we should be humble and modest. At times, we
are capable of an almost incredible arrogance. We are perfectly willing
to tell God what is wrong with the world He made and how He should fix
it. Many of us are willing to assassinate the character of someone
else, because it makes us seem more important to ourselves. We not only
pass on slander about someone, we embroider it around the edges to make
it a better story. The whole and wrongful purpose is to give us a sense
of moral superiority—a feeling to which we have no right.
country, we have no fear we will be hauled before a secret court at the
dead of night, as happens in this Degree, and be forced to defend our
actions and character. Let us be very sure that our own hearts do not
become the secret tribunals for the trial of others.
The Scottish Rite
Journal - November 2000
is Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute and Editor of The
Oklahoma Mason. A frequent contributor to the Scottish Rite Journal and
its book review editor, Illustrious Brother Tresner is also a volunteer
writer for The Oklahoma Scottish Rite Mason and a video script
consultant for the National Masonic Renewal Committee. He is the
Director of the Thirty-third Degree Conferral Team and Director of Work
at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma, as well as a
life member of the Scottish Rite Research Society, author of the
popular anecdotal biography Albert Pike, The Man Beyond the Monument,
and a member of the steering committee of the Masonic Information
Center. Ill. Tresner was awarded the Grand Cross, the Scottish Rite's
highest honor, during the Supreme Council's October 1997 Biennial