"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Ritual of the Modern Order of the Essenes": What Is It?

A Brother came up to me last night at Lodge Vitruvian's Festive Board with a copy of "Ritual of the Modern Order of the Essenes" by M. Wolcott Redding, which he was amazed that he could read, and wanted to know who the 'Modern Order of the Essesnes' were. I've been asked this question several times over the years. This was an exposure or ritual aid of the Masonic ritual, first published in 1870, and contains the words of the degrees in plain English, with mysterious symbols for key words and actions, like rapping the gavel, knocks, etc. It was published under that name to hide it from the public and avoid criticism by the Masons themselves.

Masonic exposures have been around almost since the beginning of the Premiere Grand Lodge in England in 1717. If they were published out of spite or a desire to weaken the fraternity, it would have happened a long time ago, instead of growing to five million brethren the world over. Most of these books became popular from Masons themselves buying them to help them learn the ritual, and not from a herd of curious onlookers or anti-Masons storming the doors of lodges pretending to be Masons from something they read in an exposure.

For a list of the many exposures published over the years, Gary Dryfoos has it on his website, "A Page About Freemasonry. Click here to see it.


UPDATE: I got this message from Jeff Croteau at the Scottish Rite NMJ Museum about disguised ciphers:

Nice post on the Essenes ciphers. Some of these ciphers had hilariously and intentionally misleading title pages. I’ve written about three of them on the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s blog. I include links here in case they’re of interest:

I hope all’s well.



Jeffrey Croteau
Manager of Library & Archives
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library

33 Marrett Road | Lexington, MA 02421


  1. I ran across a copy several years back at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver but decided not to pick it up for some reason or another. It was sitting on a shelf in the "New Age" section next to a brand spanking new shrinkwrapped copy of "Solomon and his Followers."

  2. I don't think these are rituals used to hide the fact that they are masonic ciphers since a) Front cover of the one I have says it was published by "The Redding Masonic Supply Co." and, b) there are ciphered references to "Essenes Masons" throughout.

  3. Just yesterday I found a copy of a small, very old book that had belonged to my husband's step-father. It has a title of "Ecce Orienti" or "Rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes." The owner was most likely a member of the Prince Hall Masons.

  4. I, too, just found a small book called Ecce Orienti: rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes, Redding and Co (National Series)1923. It must have come down from my grandfather to my father and now to me. My father was a Mason. I have yet to delve into it, but it starts out on page 1:
    The Ancient Essenes: Origin of the Order. Essene from the Hebrew root, jwy (Essene) (Esan, to be strong) because they exhibited strength of mind, in enduring suffering, and in suduing the passions: the Essenes were an order of the Jews ....


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