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Friday, January 10, 2020

SRRS 2020 Bonus Book: 'Daniel Parker's Masonic Tablet'


The new bonus book from the Scottish Rite Research Society should be in mailboxes by now, and a fascinating piece of work it is, too. Once again, Arturo De Hoyos has resurrected a unique, fascinating and little-known book from the past - this time with the assistance of Daniel Gardiner, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Montana.

The book is Daniel Parker’s Masonic Tablet, originally printed in 1822. And if you have any interest in the development of Masonic "Blue Lodge" Craft ritual, this one needs to be a part of your library. It is the earliest transcription of what we call Preston-Webb work in the U.S., from which nearly every state derived their rituals used today.

I'll let Art explain it in his own words, from his Facebook page this week:
"[B]eginning about 1797 Thomas Smith Webb, author of the “Freemason’s Monitor,” taught a unique form of Masonic ritual to his students, who transcribed the ritual in private books, in a one-to-three lettered cipher code. This “Webb work” became the basis for most Masonic rituals used throughout the United States. In 1822 the Rev. Daniel Parker, a zealous Mason living in Kingston New York, had printed his own clever cipher ritual, which by-passed the need for private tutors, as a supplement to Webb’s Masonic monitor. He was rewarded with expulsion, but has the honor of creating the first printed American cipher ritual.
"Although it’s not precisely the Webb work, his text does give us the earliest full description of uniquely American Craft and York rituals. (The text has some really interesting differences in language!) At the time there were two Grand Lodges in New York State. Parker’s ritual represents a version of the “City Grand Lodge” ritual, while William Morgan’s exposure is a version of the “Country Grand Lodge” ritual. The current Grand Lodge of New York includes elements of both.
"The introduction to this book includes a brief biography of Rev. Parker, a history surrounding the creation of his cipher, and shows how it was later used and abused by anti-Masons, and inspired the creation of the ciphers used today.
"This hardbound illustrated book (451 pages) includes a complete facsimile of the original cipher, and a full plaintext decryption of the earliest descriptions of the American versions of the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason, Past Master, Most Excellent Master and Royal Arch Mason.
"Also included in the appendix, for the benefit of ritual comparison, are facsimile reproductions of the original (never before reproduced) editions of William Morgan’s “Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity” (Batavia, 1826), and “A Revelation of Freemasonry” (Rochester, 1827)."
The Scottish Rite Research Society is an offshoot of the AASR-Southern Jurisdiction, but do not let that dissuade you from becoming a member if you are outside of their territory. Annual SRRS membership is $55 and includes the annual Heredom collection of research papers, the quarterly Plumbline, a bonus book or other item every year (!), plus a discount on books and items from their shop at the House of the Temple (also available online). To join, CLICK HERE. 

By the way, Art says that he will be happy to provide autographed copies of this most recent book (contact him directly), and that it will be available soon through the AASR-SJ's online store for non-members of the Society.

(Photo by Baruti Kmt-Sisouvong)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful book by Brothers Arturo De Hoyos and Daniel Gardiner.

    Part of the genius of De Hoyos work is in his ability to help us understand and appreciate the hard work, adversity, and sacrifice made by others in the past which have made it possible for us to enjoy the wonderful shared experience of Masonic ritual today. This book does just that, while presenting fascinating rituals, "in their own words."

    I like the drawing of Brother Arturo De Hoyos towards the end of the book by Brother Ivanov. It does him Justice.

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