What a pleasure it was to visit Cyrene Preceptory No. 29, Knights Templar this evening. Not only by pure happenstance was I able to visit them on a night when they were conferring the Order of the Temple, but this was the first time they had conferred the order in over two years. On top of that I had the honor of filling in as Sword Bearer! I would like to thank the members of Cyrene Preceptory allowing me to visit and participate, and I congratulate their three new Sir Knights!

Deo duce, ferro comitante,
Brandon Mullins, Commander 

High Priest’s Address | Apr 2012

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

Two years has gone by so fast. It was in April of 2010 that I, with much anticipation was elected as High Priest of Washtenaw Chapter No. 6. At the time I had a 3 week old son, and an excitement only tempered by the sleeplessness that comes from a colicky infant and his 15 month old sister. Now as I prepare to celebrate my son’s second birthday, I with mixed feelings see my term coming to an end. On Monday, April 15th a new High Priest will be elected and I hope that I’m able to present him with a chapter that’s grown stronger over these past two years. In this time we’ve gained 6 new members including brother Thane Domrase, and Brother Robert Blackburn who received their Past Master Degree last month. We’ve started a practice of providing our new members with a newly designed chapter penny that has their personal mark engraved on it, restarted the practice of giving out ornate membership certificates, created a new website and social media pages for the Ann Arbor York Rite as a whole and reclaimed or replaced much of our regalia we lost with the Ann Arbor Masonic Temple. And though I certainly know there is more I could have done I’m proud at what we’ve accomplished not only in providing a better experience to our new candidates but meshing as a fraternity even while saying goodbye to companions whose travels took them elsewhere.

So to end my last letter as High Priest, I will end it how I’ve ended all of them, with Dominus Vobiscum, Lord be with you. Often ignored, but at times controversial, I’ve signed off on nearly every official correspondence as High Priest for the past two years with the phrase Dominus Vobiscum. To translate it simply, it means LORD be with you, and has its roots in the Vulgate translation of the Bible. The phrase is spoken by Boaz, Saul and the Spirit of the LORD himself in the Vulgate, and can still be heard today in Latin or another language in a number of Catholic and Anglican churches across the world, and the Hebrew version specifically, Adonai Immachem is often heard in Synagogues as a man comes up to read the Torah. I, growing up protestant never heard the phrase in church, but when I came across it in my studies it immediately resonated with me and I grew attached to it. I suppose I could speak it in any language, but in its Latin form its global usage, from the Catholic Church down the street to the churches of Kerala in India appealed to me along with the simple sound of such a strong Latin phrase. As a salutation it has never carried the wide spread usage of other cultural and religious greetings like Namaste or As-Salāmu `Alaykum, but I find I have an appreciation for it none the less, and find it particularly appropriate for the Royal Arch. The motto of Royal Arch Masonry is Holiness to the LORD, a reference to the phrase inscribed on the Tzitz, or crown of the Kohen Gadol, or Jewish High Priest. This was worn to atone for haughtiness to remind both the wearer and the audience that no matter the circumstance we owe all things to the LORD. In that sense Dominus Vobiscum is not dissimilar, because to wish for the presence of the LORD to be upon someone you are doing so in recognition of the LORD, as you know him being the source of every good and the architect of every gift. In that sense I find Dominus Vobiscum to be all encompassing wishing every good upon a person because without the LORD no such things are possible.

I’ve enjoyed the past two years and I hope I’ve served you well, but remember companions, the chapter cannot stand without your help so if you have been waiting for the opportunity to join or become active within the chapter, this is that time. Elections are next month, and with them a renewal that fits the spring season in which they take place. So if you are able, I hope to see you take part in this process and begin a new year for Washtenaw Chapter No. 6, Royal Arch Masons.

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

From the Crypt | Apr 2012

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Greetings Companions,

I hope this message finds you and your families doing well!

Our regularly scheduled March School of Instruction was cancelled as our new Arch Deputy was otherwise detained.We will be rescheduling it for our Council meeting on Monday, April 16th at 6:30 p.m. We are starting early as the Chapter and Commandery will be conducting its annual meeting and elections that night as well. I hope you can be in attendance to receive some excellent instruction on the degree work of the Cryptic rite.

It’s my sad duty to inform you of the passing of Past Grand Master, Most Illustrious Companion Bill Skrepnek, 33 degree on the morning of 21 March 2012.Please keep his widow, Lady Doris in your prayers. I had the pleasure of being present during the installation proceedings of Flushing Lodge in December 2011.Bill performed every part (except that of Marshal of course) word perfect and with great enthusiasm.He will be greatly missed.

The weather here in southeastern Michigan is unseasonably warm.I hope you’re enjoying it!And to our Companions in other states:we miss you!Until our next meeting!

Yours in Cryptic Masonry,

Corey F. Curtiss

Thrice Illustrious Master

Ann Arbor Council #86 

Commander's Comments | Apr 2012

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Dear Sir Knights,

This will be my last letter to you as your Commander.The past two years have flown by.It has been quite a memorable experience.Thank you for the opportunity to serve you! In May, if he is elected, I will yield this post to my friend and constant companion, Brandon Mullins. This Commandery has not seen a young Sir Knight so enthusiastic for our Order and Templary in general.It will surely be a treat to place our beauceant and our ranks in his care.

I will also remind you that your new Commander will need assistance on August 17th for our Commandary Inspection.Come out with your lady and support our efforts.

Also, please note on the fifth Thursday or 29th of March the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Milan York Rite groups will be converging at Ypsilanti Masonic Temple at 7 p.m. for discussions on consolidating our bodies into one strong York Rite Body.If you have questions please contact Brandon or I.

Finally, its my sad duty to inform you of the passing of Right Eminent Sir Knight William Skrepnek, Past Grand Commander of Michigan on 21 March 2012.Please keep his widow, Lady Doris in your prayers.Bill was also a Past Grand Master of Michigan, and Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of Royal and Select Masons of Michigan.He was also trumpeted a 33 degree, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.I had the pleasure of attending a number of Masonic events around the state with Bill. His cheerful demeanor will be sorely missed.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Corey F. Curtiss, PEC


Ann Arbor Commandery #13

Royal Arch Degree | Apr 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

The day has finally come for our Brothers to become Companions. Come join us at the Belleville Masonic Temple on April 11th for the conferring of the Royal Arch Degree.

A dinner will start at 6pm, and Chapter will open at 7pm. So bring your appetite and prepare for the first Royal Arch Degree to be put on at the Belleville Masonic Temple in a half century. 

High Priest's Address | Apr 2011

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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. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP

From the Crypt | Apr 2011

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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.

Brandon Mullins

Deputy Master

Commander's Comments | Apr 2011

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Distinguished Brethren,

WB Andrew Hammer, PM (the junior past master of George Washington’s lodge in Alexandria, VA) the author of the book Observing the Craft, will be appearing as the guest speaker at my St. John’s event (Hosted by my lodge Milan #323 and York Chapter #150) on Saturday June 11, 2011at 6:30 p.m. The location will be set within the week (somewhere in the Ann Arbor/Chelsea, MI area) and I will be sure to send out an invitation to all of you too. This will include a formal dinner, bar, festive board/table lodge festivities, and of course a dynamic speaker and lively discussion and a special gift.

Unfortunately, this date also coincides with the Michigan CoD (AASR) up near Traverse City and also the All Degree Day Outdoors for Chapter in Paw Paw, but it was the only weekend he was available this near to this Feast of St. John.

We are already planning a prestigious event for 2012 and will do our best to avoid those conflicts. Please let me know if you or someone you know is interested in any event.

Fraternally Yours,

Corey F. Curtiss

Worshipful Master, Milan Lodge 323, F&AM

High Priest, York Chapter #150, RAM

Commander, Ann Arbor #13, KT