Greetings Friends & Companions,
According to my previously set theme this address would be regarding the Royal Arch Degree. But I’ve decided that I’m unwilling to summarize it for the same reasons I would be unwilling to summarize the Master Mason degree. Not only is it a broad degree with a multitude of interpretations but it is meant to be the pinnacle of the body and I would hate to have the experience spoiled for a potential candidate by reading this address. So what I would like to do is to pick a particular aspect of the degree and elaborate upon it. With that plan in mind I’ve chosen the Triple Tau.
The Triple Tau has been described as the “Grand Emblem of Royal Arch Masonry” and you’ll find it on nearly every piece of Royal Arch regalia. I’m often asked what it means by people interested in the Royal Arch and most recently by one of our candidates to which I gave a fairly lackluster answer. The Triple Tau is difficult to explain, and even more difficult when you’re attempting brevity. So how do you explain it? Well to explain it you must understand it and to understand the Triple Tau you must first understand the Tau. The Tau or “Τ” is a letter our alphabet inherited from the Greeks which they in turn inherited from Semitic Phoenician Taw or “X” which held a particular significances to the Jewish people which can be seen in the following passage from the Bible.
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”
-Ezekiel 9:4 KJV
The mark this passage speaks of is the Taw which later evolved into the Tau. In this instance the Taw becomes a symbol of the faithful and distinction from the wicked. The Taw also has a special place in Christianity as well. Early Christian artifacts show an extensive use of the Taw in the Jewish sense, and the cross which tradition states Constantine the Great saw in the sky that motivated is conversion to Christianity was not a Latin cross that Christians often use today but the Chi Rho or “☧” which appears to incorporate a Taw as well. The symbol in its Tau form also takes shape as the Cross of Tau which has numerous Christian allusions. So to say the least this symbol is a religious heavy hitter spanning multiple faiths and several millennia of usage.
So why three Tau? For this we have a multitude of explanations of which I will describe two. The most prevalent I have found has been the idea that the Tau which is considered to be a symbol of deity is present thrice in our symbol because of the three natures of deity, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience. The other and one I find interesting is the idea that perhaps our Triple Tau isn’t three Taus at all but a Tau and an “H” giving us the initials of Templum Hierosolyma otherwise known as the Temple of Solomon. The Triple Tau then becomes a symbol listing us as servants of Solomon’s Temple which of course is an allegory for that spiritual temple, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little piece of the Triple Tau and I hope that you can make it out to the Royal Arch Degree we’re putting on at the Belleville Masonic Temple on Monday, April 11th. We have four candidates going through, three of ours, and one from Excelsior Chapter, and we’d love to have you out. Dinner starts at 6:00pm we open at 7:00pm, and officers should be in tuxes if they have them. So bring your appetite, and bring your support for four new companions taking a journey together I hope they’ll never forget.
The address for the temple is: 515 Main Street, Belleville, MI, 48111, and it’s on the corner of the first right past the bridge, you can’t miss it. I hope to see you there! And don’t forget we still have our Stated Communication every third Monday at Calvary United Methodist Church, right here in Ann Arbor with a small meal starting at 6:30pm so feel free to drop in.
Brandon Mullins, HP