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Directory of masonic orders that operate in Victoria, Australia.
The Order Of The Secret Monitor (OSM)
The earliest history of the Order of the Secret Monitor (OSM) is somewhat vague and uncertain, but the modern system took root in London in 1887 when Dr Issachar Zacharie and a number of distinguished and likeminded London Masons who had previously received the Secret Monitor in their masonic progress in various parts of the world, met on May 5 to form the Alfred Meadows Conclave (or Premier, no.1) of the Order, with Dr Zacharie as its first leader.
Matters progressed quickly and the Grand Council of the Order of the United Kingdom was constituted on June 17, 1887 with Dr Zacharie as first ‘Supreme Grand Ruler’, and with five warrants being issued by the end of 1887, including one for Penang, Malaysia.
The Order grew apace, and from 1888, further warrants were issued for other far-flung parts of the Empire – including Southern and Eastern India, Burma, Jamaica, Singapore, South Africa and Australia.
It was also in this first two years of the Grand Council that the modern degree structure for the Order was consolidated. The first Australian Conclave was formed in 1895 as Southern Cross Conclave, then being warrant number 27 under the Grand Council for the United Kingdom and was constituted in London on October 21, with a number of Geelong-based brethren attending the occasion.
The consecration of this Conclave took place on January 6, 1896, with Bro. Henry Bannister being appointed as its first leader. This initiative soon faltered, however, and little-to-no progress for the Order was experienced until 1924, when it was suggested that the warrant be moved to Ipswich Queensland, which sparked renewed interest in Geelong and the Conclave, and the Order in Australia, was revived.
The second Australian Conclave, Friendship Conclave no.56, was formed in Ipswich in 1926; Melbourne Conclave no.59 was then formed in 1928 and was to be fundamental in the expansion of the Order into New South Wales and Tasmania.
The District of Australia was constituted in 1928, with Rev. Albert Thomas Holden as the first District Grand Supreme Ruler, although this news didn’t reach the Australian Conclaves until 1930
and District officers were not appointed until December 9, 1933, at a meeting in Geelong. Tasmania Conclave no.81 was formed in 1937 with a travelling warrant. Then, in quick succession, Unity Conclave, no.84 in Toowoomba and Adelaide Conclave no.86 were formed.
In 1938 the Southern District was formally divided into two Districts for Australia – Southern and Northern. The Southern District then had jurisdiction over Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and New South Wales (until 1953, when it achieved its own District status) and by 1963 the District superintended 12 Conclaves, so moves were undertaken to become independent.
The Grand Council for Southern Australia, comprising the States of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia was constituted on October 31, 1966, with Sir George Boag, Grand Supreme Ruler of England, Wales, etc., presiding and George Cameron Kingscott being installed as first Grand Supreme Ruler.
In subsequent years, the Grand Council has assumed jurisdiction over Conclaves in Western Australia, relinquished Conclaves in South Australia, and has, in its relatively short history, issued 32 warrants.
The appendant Ancient and Masonic Order of Knights of the Scarlet Cord was developed in 1889 from 18th century documents housed in the Amsterdam Masonic archives as a means of raising funds for the Fund of Benevolence.
In its first incarnation it consisted of only Metropolitan Consistory and four sub-Consistories, went into abeyance during the First World War, was revived but faltered in subsequent years, and again going into abeyance in 1929.
However, the Order was formally revived on July 21, 2010, in London, with the constitution of the Grand Senatus for England, Wales, etc., and has rapidly spread within other Grand Councils of the Order of the Secret Monitor: with the first meetings of the Order in Australia also being held in 2010.
The Order of the Secret Monitor is grounded in the simple understanding that each must be his ‘brother’s keeper’, which especially emphasises friendship and fidelity.
The Order also has as strong filiation with the social duties of benevolence and charity, which are especially drawn out in the appendant Order of the Scarlet Cord.
Traditionally, the Order of the Scarlet Cord had three charitable columns – the aged, the ill and infirm, and education
The Order of the Secret Monitor is led by a Grand Supreme Ruler, supported by his Grand Council, who administer via a Grand Conclave, held at least once annually.
The Grand Council of the Order for Southern Australia currently has authority over 18 Conclaves, with 14 meeting across Victoria, two in Tasmania and two in Western Australia.
The Grand Supreme Ruler is supported in the management of this geographically broad jurisdiction by the appointment of a Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler in each State, and by the further appointment of Grand Visitors to oversee the labours of the various Conclaves.
Conclaves of the Order of the Secret Monitor meet regularly, under the leadership of a Worthy Supreme Ruler, to administer the first two degrees of the Order.
The Supreme Rulers are supported by a number of officers in each degree.
The most important officers in each Conclave are the Visiting Deacons, whose responsibilities extend to the fraternal care and concern for the brethren under their charge between meetings.
The Order of the Scarlet Cord has its own leadership and organisational structures: The first three degrees are administered within a Consistory of the Order, the fourth degree in a Court of Assistants and the final two degrees within the Grand Senatus, the ruling body of the Order, led by a Grand Summus.
However, within the Grand Council of the Secret Monitor for Southern Australia, the Order of the Scarlet Cord is administered directly by the Grand Supreme Ruler, acting as the Grand Summus of the Order, and not by a separate administrative structure, as occurs in the UK.
The Order of the Secret Monitor is open to all Master Masons who are financial members of a regular Craft Lodge recognised by the several Australia Grand Lodges covering the jurisdiction of the Grand Council of this Order.
Within the Grand Council for Southern Australia, any interested Master Mason may petition a convenient Conclave for membership.
Membership and progress within the appendant Order of the Scarlet Cord is based upon prior service and rank within the Order of the Secret Monitor, and is necessarily restrictive.
All candidates for admission to the Order of the Scarlet Cord must be Princes of the Order and subscribers to the Fund of Benevolence of the Order of the Secret Monitor.
Princes may be admitted to the first two degrees of the Order of the Scarlet Cord, but further progress requires the brethren to be installed Supreme Rulers and then, for subsequent degrees, to have been previously accorded increasingly higher grand ranks within the Order of the Secret Monitor.
There are three, outwardly simple but profoundly important, degrees administered within a Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor: Brother of the Secret Monitor, Prince of the Order and Supreme Ruler within the Order, the last being also the ‘chair’ degree wherein the brother is commissioned and installed – a curious distinction from many other Masonic ‘chair’ ceremonies.
The first degree recounts the great and abiding friendship of David and Jonathan, and the lesson this degree imparts is the intrinsic importance of true friendship.
The second degree emphasises the further lesson of fidelity to the brethren. The third degree prepares a brother for the responsibilities of leadership and reinforces the new relationship he has with his brethren as a Supreme Ruler within the Order.
There are a further six grades within the appendant Order of the Scarlet Cord: Ostiarius, or Doorkeeper; Lector, or Reader; Fellow, or Healer & Exorcist; Councillor, or Courtly Companion; High Priest, or Keeper of the Hidden Secret; and Knight, or Prince of Jerusalem.
These impressive degrees further develop the underlying stories and figures of Freemasonry, particularly of those already identified within the degrees of the Secret Monitor.
The brethren dress in normal masonic attire for meetings and wear a breast jewel and gloves and carry a sword.
Supreme Rulers attire in a robe and sash of office, while Past Supreme Rulers change their breast jewel for a collarette jewel.
Grand Council officers also wear sashes or collars appropriate to their rank and office within the Order.
There is also distinctive jewels for the various degrees of the Order of the Scarlet Cord.