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Directory of masonic orders that operate in Victoria, Australia.
Allied Masonic Degrees for Australia
The Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees consists of a collection of disparate ‘additional’ degrees, rites and Orders that were generally languishing in the 1870’s. The Grand Council in England, etc., was established in 1879, at Mark Masons Hall in London, to secure the future of this assortment of separately administered rites, and degrees previously worked under warrants of ‘Antient’ Craft lodges across the country, which held that the Craft warrant entitled the lodges to work any number of Masonic degrees.
The Order also previously had control over other Masonic systems, some of which are extant today. Two such bodies included the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and Order of Holy Wisdom, which the Order had control of until 1897, and the Order of the Secret Monitor which remained a degree of this Order until 1931, even though a Sovereign body was established for the Secret Monitor in 1887.
The aim of the Order is to preserve and propagate old ‘Antient’ rituals otherwise lost to Symbolic Masonry or now subsumed within other Orders and subsequently altered over the years. This Order is therefore of particular appeal to Freemasons interested in the history of Masonic ritual or in extending their Masonry.
The qualifications for membership are that a candidate must be a Master Mason, Mark Master Mason and a Royal Arch Mason, all in good financial standing.
The Order is led by a Grand Master, supported by his Deputy and Grand Council.
The subordinate Councils are organised into geographic Divisions outside Victoria, and these are led by a Grand Prefects.
The Councils, which meet regularly for the admission of candidates and exposition of the degrees, are under the direction of a Master in the principal (and administrative) degree.
The ceremonial roles within the other degrees of the Order may be filled by Past Masters and other brethren, as appropriate.
The Order now exists throughout Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Canada, the Bahamas, Europe and the USA.
Under the Grand Council for Australia, there are eight Councils meeting across Victoria, variously at Keysborough, Preston, Baxter, Geelong, Hamilton and Ardeer.
In addition, this Grand Council currently administers three Councils in South Australia, and three Councils in Queensland.
Most subordinate Councils meet four times a year.
The Grand Council for Australia has, since its independence from England, enjoyed fraternal concord with the Grand Council in England, etc., which maintains a Division in New South Wales.
The five Orders that previously were separate, but now constitute the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees under the Grand Council for Australia, were styled the ‘Grand Lodge of Saint Lawrence Masons’, the ‘Ancient and Honourable Order of Knights of Constantinople’, the ‘Order of English Masters’, the ‘Order of Knights of Red Cross of Babylon’ and the ‘Holy Order of Grand High Priest’.
The Grand Lodge of Saint Lawrence Masons has a suggested ‘operative’ origin (circa 1600) which purpose was to distinguish operative from speculative masons and appears to have its origins around either Lancashire or Yorkshire in England. The degree as now worked has a distinct medieval ‘mystery’ or ‘morality play’ basis. The degree of St. Lawrence the Martyr is the administrative degree of the Order and includes the only Installation ceremony preserved within the Order. It is also the initial degree for a candidate entering the Order.
This degree commemorates the martyrdom of a Spaniard, St Lawrence, in Rome, circa 258 AD, and teaches humility, fortitude and fidelity to one’s faith in the face of oppression. Earliest extant records of the Ancient and Honourable Order of Knights of Constantinople are from the USA and are dated around 1830, with a suggested Scottish origin – an ‘antient’ military lodge with a travelling warrant. A grand body was established in 1874 and worked concurrently with the Allied Masonic Degrees until 1907 when all control was ceded. Those councils titled ‘time immemorial’ still wear their original regalia and perform the original ritual, which requires all aspirants to be of the Christian faith. The ritual of the degree of Knight of Constantinople inculcates the useful lessons of humility and universal equality.
The origins of the Order Of English Masters, otherwise known as the Grand Tilers of Solomon or Masons Elect of Twenty Seven, are unconfirmed but the earliest records date from the USA in 1761. The Order has many similarities to the degrees of ‘Intimate Secretary’ in the Ancient & Accepted Rite and ‘Select Master’ of the Cryptic Rite and so it may be that they have a common origin. In the degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon or Masons Elect of Twenty Seven the brethren are warned against carelessness and hasty judgement and the ritual highlights the importance of a diligent tyler.
The degree also inculcates tolerance to the unfortunate.
The degree as worked in the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross of Babylon is probably descended from three degrees of the Rite of Perfection, which no longer exists, and the degree pre-dates 1754. The degree of Red Cross of Babylon is the most profoundly mystical degree in the Allied Masonic Degree series and is partially based on the first book of Esdras. It is still worked under the Baldwyn Rite (Bristol, UK) and is similar in presentation to the Red Cross Knights in the NSW Royal Arch series. In Ireland and the USA it constitutes the Order of Knight Masons. The degree teaches us to keep inviolate our Masonic secrets and to withstand temptation.
It also emphasises fidelity, integrity and truth. The degree is esoterically symbolic of the passage of upright man from the struggles of this world to the reward of
the next and extols the maxim “Great is the Truth”.
It is suggested that the Holy Order of Grand High Priest comes from ‘antient’ lodges, circa 1750, but a more likely origin is from one of the European orders of the ‘Priesthood of Melchizedek’, circa 1770. The Order was closely associated with the Principals of a Royal Arch Chapter under many constitutions. The ritual of the Order of the Grand High Priest suggests that there were originally three degrees amalgamated for convenience.
For historical reasons it still maintains the status of an Order. The degree emphasises that those who are set apart to rule are done so for the glory of God, and to serve his fellow-men.
In former times there were elaborate regalia for some of the degrees although, within this jurisdiction, their use has lapsed. The regalia worn by members today consist either of a set of 5 miniature breast jewels, or a composite jewel depicting the emblems of each degree within the Order. Past Masters wear a distinctive breast jewel, unique to this Grand Council, while Grand Officers also wear an embroidered collar, and the most senior Grand Officers within this jurisdiction also wear a collarette.