The Royal Arch raises passions. There are those who find Chapter the most enjoyable of Masonic meetings, and those who find it dull and bewildering.
It has always had a special status in Freemasonry, but we have to admit it is a continuing source of confusion.
We struggle with its place in Pure Antient Freemasonry. Is it the completion of the third degree, a continuation of the Craft or is there no connection between the Craft and the Royal Arch at all?
At our initiation each of us promised without evasion, equivocation or mental reservation, ever to conceal our secrets; never to indite, carve or mark the least trace of them.
How then, on being exalted, can we be expected to believe that they were engraved on a plate of gold by the three Grand Masters?
The Royal Arch is a fictional tale teaching a moral lesson, a story of inspiring if invented events. Symbolism, allegory, and metaphor are proper and useful literary devices, but there is a logic to their use.
Consistency and coherence matter if the story is not to disappoint, and the Royal Arch fails to meet the desired standards.
The relationship between the Craft and the Royal Arch has long been an enigma.
To understand why, we must go into the eighteenth century and examine both orders there.
As the story unfolds we will see how the incoherence stems from a wrong turn taken towards the century’s end, and how reversing it can provide a new meaning to the Royal Arch.
The central focus of this book is on the Royal Arch in England and Wales, but its ritual and status in Scotland, Ireland and the York Rite offer contrasting perspectives from which to view our own.
Analyses the Logical and Historical Inconsistencies of our order and provides answers to them all.
Model of the Ark of the Covenant
IMAGE LINKED: author’s photograph
Dr West shows how that Freemasons do not see the Royal Arch as the keystone of the masonic structure.
He describes the way other constitutions manage the order and finds an important difference to solve a significant problem faced by the English constitution.
In analysing the logic of the ritual in England, he reveals a central incoherence between the legend of the third degree and that of the Royal Arch. After all, a secret never to be indited is inconsistent with one engraved on a plate of gold.
He asks whether the Royal Arch is Ancient or Antient – and uses the two words to resolve the meaning of “Pure Antient/Ancient Freemasonry”.
He demonstrates that the 18th century had two separate and distinct legends, one about the Mason Word, a certificate of competence, and the other about the loss of the pronunciation of the sacred name. It is the compression of the two legends into one that is the root of the incoherence that causes the failure of all modern attempts to connect the Royal Arch with the Craft.
He indicates that the Royal Arch was once a Christian allegory referring to the life of Christ and that while de-Christianising the Craft was easy, the attempt to do the same to the Royal Arch undermined its meaning.
He suggests we can re-build the de-Christianised Royal Arch to teach moral or spiritual lessons in a secular culture.
While change is difficult in our order, we should remember that what we have today is the result of many changes in the past. Indeed the third degree might have been very different. The Hiramic legend might not have been part of Freemasonry.
About The Author
Dr David West BA PhD gained his first degree in Philosophy from the University of Exeter and his Doctorate of and in Philosophy from the University of Leicester. He taught university in England and Canada for several years, publishing in the academic press. His business career included Ford and Xerox. He served on several committees on the future of work, was special adviser to a cabinet minister and later founded The Working Manager Ltd, creating the core content of its web based management education process. He is the author of:
Employee Engagement and the failure of leadership
The Goat, the Devil and the Freemason (a history and philosophy of ideas)
What to do when you have nothing to do (or how to find those candidates who have been looking for you all this time)
Dr West is a member of three lodges and four chapters under the English Constitution. He is married to Jenny, a retired Consultant Clinical Psychologist who specialised in Learning Disabilities, and they celebrate forty-six years of marriage in 2014. They have two children, one a lawyer on the side of the angels and the other a professional musician.
Books by David West
Recent Articles: book reviews
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The golden years of Freemasonry have passed with the departure of a world never likely to return. We cannot pretend that our membership problem will simply go away. If we are to rescue our order, we must take an objective look at ourselves and understand the society we now face. By Dr David J West
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This series of booklets will attempt to describe in plain terms what was involved in conferring the three degree, a little of its historical and traditional basis, as well as the ideas presented to new members for their contemplation now and in the future. By Hugh O'Neill
Book Review - Dudley Wright: Writer, Truthseeker & Freemason
Dudley Wright (1868-1950) was an Englishman who took a universalist approach to the various great Truths of Life, he travelled though many religions in his life and wrote about them all, but was probably most at home with Islam.
Book Review - Learning Ritual - An Easy Process
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Book Review - The Freemasons
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Book Review - Anderson's Constitutions - 1723
This book contains a faithful reproduction of the first edition of the Constitutions of the Free-Masons, printed in London in 1723. The text, word spelling and paragraph size has been maintained, original restored decorations have been used, and font and character typesets have been carefully replicated.
Book Review - High Meridian
Ben Zion's awaited second book - This book contains a highly thought-provoking, or perhaps, more crucially a challenging narrative on the esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. There is no cautious conjecture, no frivolous ‘woo-woo’ approach, Zion dives straight in and makes us think…hard!
Book Review - Seven Habits of Highly Successful Lodges
Successful Lodges tend to share several common features. In this exciting new book, well-known author and speaker Tony Harvey draws on his extensive experience in different areas within Freemasonry to identify the key features most often seen in our strongest, happiest, and most attractive Lodges.
Book Review - Over 300 years of Masonic Ritual
This book celebrates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge in June 1717, by reviewing the basis of our workings from the earliest records to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in December 1813 and further.
Book Review - Freemasons: 555 Illustrations
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Book Review - Chapter & Verse: 100 years of Royal Arch Talks
The publication of Chapter & Verse is in celebration of the centenary of Authors’ Chapter No. 3456; it takes the form of an anthology of some seventy-five talks presented in the Chapter. The spread of authors ensures divers interpretations of the Royal Arch narrative and dramatis personae.
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This book sets out those principles, considers the people involved and explores the framework within which their ideas were formed. And it discusses how the Constitutions evolved. - By Ric Berman
Book Review - The Freethinking Freemason
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When the original Rosicrucian pamphlets were circulated in the early 1600s they sent a shockwave across Europe, instigating a surge of activity that changed the course of Western Esotericism.
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Outlaw Bikers or Masonic Ambassadors. Fully recognised and approved by the United Grand Lodge of England, 2018 marked the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the Widows Sons, with 2019 marking the fifteenth anniversary of the Widows Sons starting in the UK. Book by Wayne Owens.
Book Review - Freemasonry & the Enlightenment
This superbly illustrated study of Free masonry’s influence on Western culture, especially in the 18th and early19th centuries, has been recognised as one of the most original and important contributions towards a greater understanding of the Enlightenment published in recent times.
Book Review – Haunted Chambers: The Lives of Early Women Freemasons
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Book Review – Robert's Rules of Order: Masonic Edition
New Updated Edition with section for online Masonic gatherings! - Experienced legislators, editors, civic leaders, business executives, and club officers all pronounce Robert's Rules of Order the best parliamentary guide in the English language.
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This book charts the transformational processes which combine in a peak between the end of the seventeenth and the start of the eighteenth century. By Fabio Venzi
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The papers in this volume cover fifty years of research and thought. They were often also produced to fill out programmes for Lodges of Research and there is a degree of repetition and overlap. by Aubrey N. Newman
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This book reflects the author’s research interests in Victorian Freemasonry, and the Orders beyond the Craft and provides a better understanding of how the other Masonic Orders have grown and developed in parallel with Craft Masonry by Richard Gan
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Book Review – We Three or Three Such as We
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Book Review - Alternative Masonic Addresses For The Craft Degrees
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Masonic Education has regrettably been reduced to teaching protocol, traditions, and catechism while ignoring the esoteric essence of the ritual. By Shaun Bradshaw (Author), Ben Wallace (Author), Flynn Ryan (Cover Art)
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book review - Whence Come You
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Book Review - Freemasonry in London from 1785
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Book Review - The Masonry of the «Moderns»: History and Rituality
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Book Review - The Green Book of the Elus Coens
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Book Review - The Masonic Pageant
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Book Review - Invisibles
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Book Review - Mnemonic Methods
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Book Review - Emulation: A Ritual to Remember
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Book Review - The Rosslyn Hoax
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Book Review - Mastering Masonic Ritual
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Book Review - Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz
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Book Review - Freemasonry: Material Moral and Mystical
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Book Review - Three Distinct Knocks - John Meeks
"Why don't these new guys come back?" This is the question I often hear; and it is this same question that pushed me to write this book. - John Meek
Book Review - Soldier and Mason
Soldier and Mason: The Life of Charles Warren Napier-Clavering
Book Review - Bohemian Masonic Glass
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Book Review - This Chequered Existence
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Book Review - The EA, FC, MM Handbooks
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Book Review - The Freemasons who won America's War for Independence
Find out who were the Freemasons who won America's War for Independence
Book Review - Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz
A book review of Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz by Cécile Révauger
Book Review - Cagliostro the Unknown Master
The book review of the Cagliostro the Unknown Master, by the Editor of the book
Book Review - Crime and the Craft
Crime and the Craft reveals that the Freemasons have been involved in treason, murder, conspiracy, fraud, and scandal from the time of the English Civil War to the 1980s.
Book Review - Focus on Ric Berman
Focus on Ric Berman a British historian who writes about the intersection of freemasonry, politics and society.
Book Review - The Temple That Never Sleeps
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Book Review - The Secret School of Wisdom
The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is a pioneering text
Book Review - Charles Warren: Royal Engineer in the Age of Empire
Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner who failed to catch 'Jack the Ripper'
Book Review - Freemasonry and the Press in the Twentieth Century
During the latter part of the twentieth century, the Press and Freemasonry had a tense relationship.
Book Review - Who was Hiram Abiff?
Every Freemason must have at some point asked himself the above question.
The Masonic Book Club (MBC)
The new MBC will have a different business model than the old.
Book Review - Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure
Lost Templar Treasure: Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle
Book Review - The Enigma of the Royal Arch
Holy Royal Arch What's it all about
Book Review - The Craft
Review of the new book The Craft by John Dickie, Professor of Italian Studies at University College London
Book Review - For Hills and Valleys
For Hills and Valleys, Mobile Schools and Republicanism in the Zêzere Valley By Aires Henriques
33 and Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry
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Book Review - History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia
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Game Review - On The Square
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A MIGHTY GOOD MAN / THE TRUE STORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS (double dvd)
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Prestonian Lecture 2020/21
This year's Prestonian Lecture - ‘A System of Morality – Aristotle and the Making of the Ritual’ - is authored, and presented by Professor G.R. Boys-Stones PAGDC.
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry
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Book Review - History of the Grand Orient of Italy
In depth book review in to the History of the Grand Orient of Italy by the author
Book Review – Freemasonry It's Hidden Meaning
Youtube Book review by Baruti KMT-Sisouvong
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