San Diego Area Allied Masonic Degree Councils
The Allied Masonic Degrees is an organization based on interest and ability in Masonic research and scholarship. Membership is by invitation and is open to Companions who have completed the Chapter degrees. The local bodies are styled “Councils,” and the national supervisory body is the Grand Council. Councils are presided over by a Sovereign Master, who is assisted by eight other officers. The structure and office titles of the Council are very similar to the corresponding offices and rituals in the Blue Lodge. The maximum number of active members of any Council is limited to 27. Some Councils are very selective. Papers and discussions of Masonic and related topics are typically held at Council meetings. The AMD controls 10 degrees, but which ones (if any) are actually “worked” is decided by each Council itself.
Upon joining, the candidate is given a preliminary lecture on the history, aims, and purposes of the AMD, then introduced into the Council room, takes a “blanket” obligation, and is taught the necessary signs. This is sufficient to make him a member of the AMD. The insignia of a Brother of the AMD is shown above. Any degrees that are conferred follow the obligation ceremony.
The regular degrees under the control of the AMD, and a brief description of each, are presented in the table below:
St. Lawrence the Martyr
The candidate is requested to undergo a signal test of his courage, after which he is obligated, instructed in the history of St. Lawrence, and given the signs and words of the degree. Also explained is the significance of the gridiron and hackle, the special symbols of the degree.
This degree typifies the beauties of brotherly love, as exemplified in the example of David and Jonathan. It is based on their story and is semi-dramatic in character. The candidate receives an obligation, signs, words, and a lecture relating to the degree. The special symbol is the arrow.
Royal Ark Mariner
This degree is set in the time of Noah and his sons, and relates events prior to, during, and after the Flood. The degree is interesting because much of it is set in unrhymed meter, and because axes are used in place of gavels and undressed aprons for lambskin ones. The candidate receives the customary obligation, signs, words, and a lecture. The lesson taught is one of trusting in God’s goodness and mercy. Earlier in AMD history, separate Lodges of Royal Ark Mariners were attached, or “moored,” to a particular Council, but this is no longer practiced.
Knight of Constantinople
This degree teaches the important lessons of humility and equality. It is set in the time of Emperor Constantine, in the city of Constantinople. Two haughty Roman nobles learn the lessons previously cited in a most striking manner. Again, an obligation is administered, and signs, words, and a lecture are given.
Grand Tylers of Solomon
This degree bears a close affinity to the Select Master Degree of the York Rite Council. Like the latter, it is set in a subterranean vault and relates the story of an unwitting intruder into a secret council. The degree teaches that all Masons must be effective tilers and guard their Lodges against the unworthy and the irreligious.
This degree is somewhat reminiscent of the Royal Arch Degree and Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. The candidate represents a Jewish sojourner freed from Babylonian captivity, who desires to return to Jerusalem and labor on the new Temple. He passes four veils in order to gain admission to the Sanhedrin sitting in Council.
Masters of Tyre
This degree has three sections. The first takes place in the court of Hiram, King of Tyre, who agrees to assist Solomon in building his Temple by sending men, materials, and Hiram Abiff. The second section takes place in a quarry near Jerusalem and involves Craftsmen discussing a conspiracy. The third section occurs back in Hiram’s court at Tyre, where, in memory of the deceased Chief Architect, this degree is instituted as a memorial. There are several lectures throughout the course of the degree.
In this degree, the candidate states his abhorrence of the crime against GMHA, and is asked to participate in a memorial to the Chief Architect. After being obligated, he receives two catechisms.
Here, the candidate represents Moabon, an Architect, who brings plans for the completion of the third level of the Temple. His ideas being adopted, he is rewarded by being obligated and created a Grand Architect. In this degree, as in that of Architect, there are also two catechisms recited.
This degree concludes the trilogy of Architect, Grand Architect, and Superintendant. Now, Moabon (the candidate) is elevated to the exalted station of Chief Architect (or Superintendant) to replace the one lost to treachery. He assumes an obligation and is given a catechism on the furniture and adornment of the Temple.
Paste Sovereign Master
A Brother elected to preside over an AMD Council must receive the Installed Sovereign Master degree before he can be installed in that office. The badge of a Sovereign Master is shown above. The degree of the Past Sovereign Master involves the relation of an occurrence that transpires between Solomon, a Mason named Adoniram, and a visiting dignitary to Solomon’s court. The candidate assumes an obligation, is instructed in signs and words, and receives a lecture on the incidents upon which the degree is founded.
Knight of the Red Branch of Eri
The highest honor that can be awarded to an AMD member by his Council is that of Knight of the Red Branch of Eri, given for unselfish and faithful service to his Council and/or the AMD. There are no set requirements, and each Council sets its own rules for selection. In my Council, we award at most one a year, and some years, not at all. The insignia of a Knight is shown above. The Order is divided into three degrees, Man-at-Arms, Esquire, and Knight. The ritual is one of Irish knighthood, and many of the phrases, terms, and names are couched in the Irish language. The Order is not actively “worked,” and the text is readily available to all AMD brethren in the AMD ritual book.