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From The Historian's Desk
Degrees and their meanings

By Edith Schoell, State Historian

  OCTOBER 2, 2010 --

My last article was from Rev. Aaron B. Grosh’s thoughts on the degrees, written in 1876.  There will be several articles over the next few months covering the Seven Degrees.

Degrees and Their Meanings

First Degree

The Emblem of Laborer, in this degree, is an evenly balanced pair of Scales, a nest of just weights, and a heaped (or full) measure as may be required by custom or law, to denote HONESTY...”

“The emblem of a Maid in our Order is the Spindle or Distaff, with the motto (or reference).  ‘Proverbs XXXI 10-31.’  We give these ancient implements of industry and thrift as they are represented in connection with the more modern (but now almost unknown) spinning wheel.  The thirty-first chapter of Proverbs give so fully all the traits of which the emblem is a reminder, that we refer the reader to its admirable description of female life and character...”

“Another emblem of this degree is given in the Ritual and another, combined with it here, is used in conferring the degree, the Bouquet of dried grasses, which we have placed in the Wreath (or crown) of grasses.  The Bouquet denotes HUMILITY...”

Second Degree

“The Emblem of the Cultivator in this degree is a Vine, and a Tree to be planted-- the vine already set, and the ground open to receive the tree.  They are designed to remind him of an important injunction given at his promotion, and having reference to a much desired result.  And they are further to teach the great lesson, that we are placed here, not only to be ministered unto in the orchards, forests, and improvements of the land and the people, or in the institutions and advantages of the minister unto others around us, and who may come after us.  Honesty to mankind, no less than gratitude to the Giver of all good, requires that we hand down to posterity what we have received from others, with added interest on that capital, in the shape of improvements of our own devising and making…”

“The Emblem of Shepherdess, in this degree, is the Shepherd’s Crook and Shepherd’s Pipe; The Crook denoting the employment of directing, protecting and correcting her flock; and the reed, or pipe, indicating their recreation and pleasure by its musical strains.  The lambs, and the flowers amid which they are reposing, speak of the beauty and innocence of childhood (her peculiar care), and the enjoyments to be shared with them in their instruction, and in promoting their pleasures.  And all this has reference to the pastoral life, merely as an emblem of the real, actual life of woman in society at the present period.  While the world of society has outgrown the rude and simple times of ignorance which characterized the ancient days, when noble women and princesses tended flocks, and spun and knitted their wool, we would retain for woman, in her present sphere of life and duty, all the simplicity, the purity, the kindliness and pleasures, of the pastoral ages...

“Another emblem of this degree, for the Shepherdess, is the Altar, surmounted with an open Bible, covered with Roses, denoting religious worship and instruction, and delight in the same.”


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