Greetings Companions and Friends,
Our Thrice Illustrious Master George Lucero asked me to write this month’s letter so I thought I would pose a question. What makes Cryptic Masonry so Cryptic? Isn’t all Freemasonry Cryptic? Well that very well may be true. Webster defines something as being Cryptic by having a hidden or obscure meaning, and every good and lawful Mason knows that the symbols used in the lodge have meanings that may not be immediately clear with interpretations that may not be shared by all. This as one might expect is no different in Cryptic Masonry. But Cryptic Masonry is not so named because of this fact, but because of where the word cryptic is derived. Cryptic goes all the way back to the Ancient Greek term κρύπτη, which means a hidden place, which we now translate as Crypt. Cryptic Masonry, otherwise known as the Council of Royal and Select Masters deals with a hidden place or crypt found within King Solomon’s Temple.
Now Cryptic Masonry like the rest of Freemasonry deals with allegorical interpretations of historical events that are not purported to be factual. But I would fervently advocate the idea that knowledge of such events only adds to the Masonic experience and while the focus of degrees will always be the allegorical lessons there in, a Mason should make himself knowledgeable of the history surrounding these degrees as well.
Well as most of us know that the traditional place of King Solomon’s Temple, as well as the Second Temple is on Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock stands today. What is lesser known is the details on the real crypt beneath it. Modern technology has allowed scholars to prove the existence of a crypt beneath the Dome of the Rock but Muslim authorities strictly forbid excavation by outsiders and appear to have little interest in disturbing their third holiest site. Evidence has been found that the Knights Templar attempted to excavate the area during their era and were met with debatable levels of success but since that time no archeological excavations have taken place under the dome of the rock.
But what if we’ve been looking in the wrong place all along? What if the Dome of the Rock wasn’t built upon King Solomon’s Temple? Well I’ll explore those questions in my next letter. In the meantime if you’re a Royal Arch Mason and have never considered the Council of Royal of Select Masters, please do, we have a great deal to show you.