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The Knight Masons

The Knight Masons arrived in this country in May, 1936 when three Councils were chartered in North Carolina by the Grand Council in Ireland. The degrees of Knight Masonry were anciently styled the "Green Degrees". In the 1960's control of these degrees in the U.S. passed from the Grand Council in Ireland to a Grand Council in the U.S.A., which meets annually during the Allied Bodies Meeting in Washington, D.C. Membership is by invitation and is predicated on membership in the Royal Arch Chapter. The degrees conferred are:

    1. Knight of the Sword
    2. Knight of the East
    3. Knight of the East and West
    4. Installed Excellent Chief

These degrees are reminiscent of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross in the York Rite Commandery (q.v.) or the 15th & 16th degrees of the Scottish Rite. The presiding officer of a Council is styled Excellent Chief, and he is assisted by 10 other officers. Members address each other as "Cousin" (See I Esdras,Chapter 3). A synposis of each degree, except the Installed Excellent Chief, follows:

    • Knight of the Sword--The candidate, representing Zerubbabel, seeks admission to come before King Cyrus. The King relates the details of a dream to his courtiers, and then permits Zerubbabel to enter. Zerubbabel requests liberty for the captive Jews and gives a signal demonstration of his fidelity. The King, being impressed, grants Zerubbabel and his company permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. He invests him with a sash, a sword, and a password.
    • Knight of the East--The time is now 16 years after the action of the previous degree. Zerubbabel now returns to Persia from Jerusalem to request of King Darius continued support in building the Jewish Temple, and his aid in driving away the enemies who are frustrating their efforts. Darius grants the request and appoints Zerubbabel a palace guard. Before retiring, the King proposes the discussion of the relative strengths of wine, women, or the king. Zerubbabel and two other guards contend via argument, with Zerubbabel coming out the victor. He is then escorted safely back to Jerusalem.
    • Knight of the East and West--In this degree, Zerubbabel returns in triumph to Jerusalem and reports to the Sanhedrin, or Jewish Council. As a recognition for his valor and constancy, he is created a Knight of the East and West, and is invested with a sash and apron.

As usual, in each degree there is an obligation, along with certain signs and words which are imparted to the candidate.

REFERENCES:Masonic Organizations and Allied Orders and Degrees, Harold V.B. Voorhis, 1952.Ritual of Degrees of Knight Masonry, Grand Council of Knight Masons of the U.S.A.
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