(Please note, this work is highly adapted and albeit plagiarized from the writings of numerous authors who have gone before me. It is not original, and the ideas contained herein are a conceptual Masonic ideal. But within it, if we look closely we will find the truth, and with this truth may we walk closer to the Light. SDO 5-26-2018)
When you first became a Scottish Rite Mason, you may have thought to yourself as I did, how do I pronounce the word (Ka-dawShhh) (Ka DoeShhh)? ….. what does the word mean? and how do I live my life with the new personality of a Knight?
First let us address the pronunciation. We hear several different common pronunciations of the name here in our Valley, but in Hebrew, the word is pronounced
Kaa-DoeShhh and not Ka-DawShhh.
Kadosh is an adjective coming from ancient Hebraic meaning: Holy, to sanctify or to be made Holy.
The distinction of this adjective is that it further means or describes someone or something that is inherently sacred, that has been selected or set apart, or made holy or sacred by divine rite or ceremony.
Is there a better way to describe the meaning or intent of the ceremonies that we undergo here? At the Scottish Rite? Much of our Masonic ritual and study, including the first two bodies of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction, is spent on searching for the Lost Word. What is this Word and why the intense focus on it in the lessons of Freemasonry? The search for the Word is as old as mankind’s search for the purpose of life.
In the Book of John 1:1-5 the Scriptures read: “1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; 2) The same was in the beginning with God; 3) All things were made from him; and without him was not anything made that was made; 4) In him was life; and the life was the light of man; 5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Here in this passage we have one of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, St. John the Evangelist equating the Word, which was the creative potency of God, with the Light,
which is at the root of our Masonic studies, “Lux e tenebris”: Light out of darkness.
Leaving the degrees of the Lodge of Perfection (the 4th through 14th degrees) and the Chapter of Rose Croix (the 15th through the 18th degrees) we come to the Council of Kadosh.
Within the Council are housed the Chivalric degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Illustrious Brother Albert Pike included much Templar symbolism in the Council of Kadosh when he reorganized the degrees of the Southern Jurisdiction due to his intimate knowledge of the Knights Templar, having been the chartered Eminent Commander of Hugh de Payens Commandery No. 1, in Little Rock Arkansas on December 20, 1853. This was shortly after being appointed the Deputy of Arkansas for the Scottish Rite, in March of that same year.
Knights and Knighthood were not well thought of in the middle ages, as most were lazy, born to privilege, and accustomed to getting what they wanted with nothing much to do but eat, drink, copulate, and fight with one another. The petty infighting and skirmishes were literally tearing Christendom apart.
They had the royal families at wits end, unable to control them, and they really had no idea how to keep them out of trouble. They needed something to rally them against one common enemy and not one another.
Enter Pope Urban II, who on November 27, 1095, preached a sermon at the Council of Clermont, in France, at which several hundred clerics and noblemen gathered. Urban delivered a rousing speech summoning the rich and poor alike to stop their in-fighting and embark on a righteous war to help their fellow Christians in the East and take back Jerusalem. Urban promised absolution and remission of sins for all who died in the service of Christ.
This….. Now, this was the answer to the problem of the trouble-making knights, as one way or the other, they would not be able to cause trouble since they wouldn’t be in the country or they’d be killed off in the wars. He saw it as a win/win.
Urban cried: “A horrible tale has gone forth. An accursed race utterly alienated from God has invaded the lands of the Christians and depopulated them by the sword, plundering, and fire.” He made his appeal at the end: “Tear that land from the wicked race and subject it to yourselves!” To which the people responded, “Deus vult! God wills it!,” which Urban II promptly made the battle cry of the first Crusade.
Born from the Crusades were two Chivalric Orders, The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, and the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, or as we know them ….. the Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar were founded by Hugh de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer with seven other Knights who offered their services to Baldwin II of Jerusalem in 1119 to escort Pilgrims safely to the Holy Land. In recognition of their service, Baldwin offered them quarters in a wing, well… more accurately the stables, of the Royal Palace on the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa Mosque stands today.
When Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a set of rules for the Templars based on his Cistercian Order, chivalry was officially born. Each knight had to swear that he would defend the weak, the poor, the widows, orphans, and the oppressed. He was to be courteous, especially to women, brave, loyal to his leaders, concerned with the welfare of his subordinates.
A fitting prayer of knightly ideals carved in stone at the Cathedral of Chartres in France states: “Most Holy Lord, Almighty Father… thou who hast permitted on earth the use of the sword to repress the malice of the wicked and to defend justice… cause thy servant here before thee, by disposing his heart to goodness, never to use this sword or another to injure anyone unjustly; but let him use it always to defend the just and right.” This was a far cry from the earlier thoughts and attitudes held by the knightly nobility.
In the Council degrees, we are tried, tempted and tested multiple times in order to verify our worth before being received into the several Orders of Knighthood. This is not only to learn truths about ourselves but to ensure that we have learned the profound lessons of duty and honor. In addition to a representation of the physical trials, we were also educated, as were the Templars of old while they were in the Holy Land, on the mysteries of the region that was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, albeit more of a Gnostic or spiritual focus than dogmatic. These trials and spiritual education leading up to the culmination of the lessons in our Order.
Why are we provided these secular, moral and spiritual lessons and what are the duties of a true Knight Kadosh? A Knight Kadosh must first be educated with the seven liberal arts & sciences that we see symbolically represented with the Mystic Ladder, and by the mystery systems of old which teach us that there is but one truth… all this before we can undertake the duties of a Kadosh as it states in the degree: to War against Ignorance; against Spiritual Tyranny; against Despotism; and against Vice.
A Knight Kadosh must be steadfast in adversity, as we can expect to be persecuted, as many who have come before us have been. As is preached in several schools of thought, we must not be quick or act hastily toward seeking vengeance when wronged, as is evident in the motto of the Knight Kadosh: “Nekam Adonai!” “Vengeance is Thine, O Lord!” Remember the meaning of the word Kadosh, that the Knights Kadosh are set apart or selected to be the Warriors of all that is Holy or sacred.
While we learn in the Lodge of Perfection why the Word was lost; and in the Chapter of Rose Croix, how the Word was found; we are sworn in the Council of Kadosh to be defenders of the Word, of the one true, Most High God!
If “you wish to proceed, proceed with me!” Take up your sword and your mantel!
“Spes mea in Deo est!” My hope is in God!
Stuart Ogarz, 32° KCCH
Commander, Council of Kadosh