The degrees and their order

Day (see “literature“) tries to connect every symbol to a certain degree. He sometimes fails to do so and then bluntly talks about “purely Christian degrees” (panel 2) for example. Or he is certain about the Mark degree (panel 7), while the best-known Mark symbol is absent. Day sees “craft” degrees in the panel at the bottom (panel 8 in his counting), suggesting that the scroll is ‘progressive’. Panel 8 is visible when working in a craft degree, panel 7 for the next degrees (“Mark” and “Excellent Master”), panel 6 for the Royal Arch, panel 5 for Templar degrees, panel 3 for “Ark Mariner” and “Red Cross (of Babylon)” degrees and finally, “purely Christian degrees” on panel 2. Panels 1 and 4 are not Masonic in his thinking.

Thus I write myself on “the purpose of this website“. Day has an interesting list:

  • Craft degrees;
  • Mark and Excellent Master;
  • Royal Arch;
  • Templar degrees;
  • Ark Mariners and Red Cross;
  • purely Christian degrees.

To be a bit more detailed, as things are not as certain as it may seem in the list above:

  • Craft degrees on panel 8. This the different authors agree on;
  • Mark and Excellent Master on panel 7. This Day and Cooper agree on;
  • Royal Arch on panel 6. Also here Day and Cooper are in agreement;
  • Templar on panel 5. Jackson and Day see Templar, Cooper sees a third degree;
  • Ark Mariner and Red Cross on panel 3 are actually just mentioned by Day by lack of better suggestions. Jackson speaks of “knighthood” (based on one symbol). Cooper has no suggestions;
  • “purely Christian degrees” on panel 2 in Day’s book, Royal Arch in Cooper’s (because of the rainbow and the headgear). He also refers to an “other branch of Freemasonry” (tools and rope). Also there is a Templar Cross on this panel. When it comes to specific degrees, this panel is not very clear.

Somewhat certain, therefor, are:

  • Craft;
  • Mark and Excellent Master;
  • Royal Arch;
  • Templar.

The monumental five volume work of Snoek and Péter (British Freemasonry, 1717-1813, 2016) volume 3 has a text The ‘Sheffield’ Knight Templar Ritual (c. 1800). In this text they speak of “Harodim traditions”, without saying that this ritual came from that tradition. This Templar Ritual is actually a system of several degrees, an interesting list of degrees!

  • 1st / 2nd / 3rd degree;
  • Mark Degree;
  • Excellent Master / Super Excellent Master;
  • Royal Arch;
  • Knight Templar / Knight Rose Cross.

In the same volume, there is a text about High Knights Templar Rituals, Dublin (c.1795 and 1804).

The ‘Early Grand Encampment [of Ireland]’ (under its ‘Early Grand Master’) was older than its rival, the ‘Kilwinning High Knights Templar Encampment’ (under its ‘Grand Master’), both in Dublin. Both developed out of the ‘Kilwinning High Knight Templars Lodge’ (IC), warrented 8/10/1779 by ‘Mother Kilwinning’ (SC), and both worked the degrees ‘Excellent, Super-excellent, Royal Arch, and Knight Templar’.

So the oldest Templar organisation is the “Killwinning high Knight Templars Lodge” (not necessarily from Kilwinning as you see), which worked in the degrees:

  • Excellent;
  • Super-excellent;
  • Royal Arch;
  • Knight Templar.

Strangely similar lists! Note that the Excellent and Super Excellent Master degrees come before the Royal Arch. With the Dublin Templar lodge we are certainly among the Antients. Sheffield lays in the middle of England, but Snoek calls this a “Moderns” ritual. According to Cooper, it is ‘Antient’ to have this order of degrees (with ‘Sheffield’ in mind, this can’t be entirely true). It is tempting to see Templar (“Killwinning” / “Heredom” ?) list of degrees on the Kirkwall Scroll, but in that case the top three panels are out of place or have a different meaning or use than what we are looking for.

There are a few anomalies. Cooper’s suggests the third degree on panel 5. There are Templar elements on panels 2, 3 and 5, but perhaps the ‘overarching’ Templar system can account for that. Royal Arch is on panels 2 and 6. Panels 1 to 4 do not seem to refer to a specific (set of) degree(s).

Perhaps most interestingly, if the scroll is from 1785/6, would this be the earliest ‘Templar system‘ that we know? Also, if a more definite identification of Ark Mariner degree can be made, there’s also a very early depiction on the Kirkwall Scroll.

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