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
Book Review - The Masonry of the «Moderns»: History and Rituality
The Masonic ritual world dates back to the 18th century, both from England and from France, which is still our most valuable reference.
Book Review - Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality - Angel Millar
Angel Millar is a well-known lecturer on Freemasonry, initiation, and esotericism as well as an artist and student of the martial arts. The author of several books.
Book Review - The Rite of Seven Degrees
This book examines the deeply esoteric eighteenth-century Rite of Seven Degrees.
Book Review - The Green Book of the Elus Coens
The Green Book of the Élus Coëns is the most fascinating insight yet into the secrets and mysteries of the eighteenth century’s most esoteric of masonic societies – The Order of Knight-Mason Elect-Cohens of the Universe.
Book Review - Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind
Freemasonry for the Heart and Mind: A glance at Freemasonry during the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions.
Book Review - The Masonic Pageant
The Masonic Pageant is published by Cornerstone Book Publishers and features a nice foreword by Chris Hodapp, 33°.
Book Review - Invisibles
It is reasonable to suggest that when published, Invisibles was the most comprehensive, comparative study, to date, of the Rosicrucian mega-meme.
Book Review - Mnemonic Methods
Within this book 'Mnemonic Methods by Robert Fludd', translator Paul Ferguson introduces us to the English translation of two of Fludd's short treatises on memory
Book Review - English Illuminati
This book gives us a deep look into the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century and some of its key figures…
Book Review - Emulation: A Ritual to Remember
How does one begin to review a masonic classic which has faithfully served generations? Perhaps starting with the title Emulation: A Ritual to Remember.
Book Review - The Rosslyn Hoax
Robert Cooper asks, would you like to know the truth about Rosslyn Chapel ?
Book Review - Mastering Masonic Ritual
Mastering Masonic Ritual is focused on preparing for a successful and fulfilling journey around the floor to the Chair.
Book Review - Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz
A review of Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz - Collected Papers 2008-2016
Book Review - Freemasonry: Material Moral and Mystical
A review of Freemasonry: Material, Moral, and Mystical by Tony Baker
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
A completely unique narrative publication mapping the phenomenon of glass production for the needs of Masonic lodges
Book Review - This Chequered Existence
Gerald Reilly reviews this new book covering the near-modern history of Freemasonry in England and Wales during the 20th-century.
Book Review - The EA, FC, MM Handbooks
Essential reading for every Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason - these seminal books by J.S.M Ward are what every Mason needs!
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
Freemasons and E-Masonry Toward a New Paradigm
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
33 & Beyond: The Royal Art of Freemasonry, is perhaps the most fascinating and important documentary ever made on the on the subject matter of Freemasonry.
Book Review - History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia
Book review by guest reviewer Gheorghe Bichicean on the History of Freemasonry in Bessarabia by Alexandru Rufanda
Game Review - On The Square
A new board game based on The Freemasons
A MIGHTY GOOD MAN / THE TRUE STORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS (double dvd)
A drama-documentary of the life of Elias Ashmole including a reconstruction of the first personally recorded Free Masonic Initiation into a Lodge anywhere in the world.
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
Introduction to The Lost Keys of Freemasonry by Manly P. Hall
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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