The Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord is the most recent Masonic Order to become widely accessible to Brethren in the United Kingdom and is one of the fastest growing Orders in Masonry today.
It is open to Princes of the Order of the Secret Monitor, and it remains very closely associated with the Order, indeed some of its Ritual dates back to previous versions of the Secret Monitor Degrees.
Like most Masonic Orders, the Order of the Scarlet Cord’s ceremonies are based upon biblical allegory, centred on incidents found in the Old Testament.
We are told about Rahab, who hid the Jewish spies from the King of Jericho’s Guards, and of Ruth and her eventual marriage to Rahab’s son, Boaz, and the birth of her own son, Obed, who was the grandfather of David.
After David’s death, and that of his son Solomon, we learn of the latter years of the Temple and the eventual loss of its treasures.
Historically, the story ranges from the siege of Jericho through the fall of the first Temple and eventually to the fate of the Second Temple and revolt of the Maccabees.
There are six degrees or Grades of the Order;
Upon their induction, Companions initially become Ostiarii or doorkeepers within the Order, and henceforth may designate themselves as Companions of the Scarlet Cord.
The Second and Third Grades are also conferred in a Consistory when the candidates become Lectors and Fellows respectively.
The Fourth Grade is bestowed in a Council of Elders, when the candidate, who must be an Installed President, becomes a Councillor. This Grade is a precursor to Grand Office and is usually by Provincial recommendation.
The Fifth Grade, or Keeper of the Hidden Secrets, is granted at the behest of the Grand Summus on Grand Officers only and takes place annually in a Council of the Entrusted.
The final Sixth Grade, Prince of Jerusalem, takes place every two years in the Council of Princes and is granted by the Grand Summus as a reward for services to the Order.
All the ceremonies involve participation by a relatively large number of Consistory members, and whilst there is every opportunity for keen ritualists to shine, there are also many possibilities for less practiced Companions to participate in a rewarding and meaningful manner.
The Order is Presided over by the Grand Summus, his Deputy and Assistant and the other Grand Officers of the Grand Senatus, which meets annually, usually in London.
As with other parts of Freemasonry, the Order is further divided into a number of Provinces , each with a Provincial Grand Summus, his Deputy and Assistant and corresponding Provincial Grand Officers.
The Provinces generally correspond to those of the Order of the Secret Monitor and where there may be insufficient Consistories to form a Province, then an Inspectorate is formed, headed by a Grand Inspector, his Recorder and Director of Ceremonies.
Individual units of the Order of the Scarlet Cord are called a Consistory, and meet usually two or three times a year, sometimes in conjunction with a Conclave of the Order of The Secret Monitor, although this is becoming less often the case as the Order of the Scarlet Cord grows.
Each Consistory is presided over by a President who is elected annually. Uniquely, after being elected, the President Elect is then ‘Prepared’ for the Office of President in a special ceremony, usually worked by the Provincial Officers, following which he becomes an Eminent Companion and receives a Patent from the Grand Summus authorising his eventual Installation, after which he becomes a Distinguished Companion.
The President is assisted by the Primus of Lectores and Primus of Ostiarii and these three are respectively responsible for conferring the first three Grades of the Order within their Consistory.
The other principal officers of a Consistory are the Episcopus or Chaplain. The Recorder and Treasurer, the Director of Ceremonies and his Assistant, both armed with swords, and four Lecturers who form an integral part of the work. They are assisted by the Registrar, and Herald and the Guarder who sits at the door. Outside the door is the Watchman.
Regalia in the Order, like that of the Order of The Secret Monitor, is minimal but varies by the Grade of the wearer.
The Badge of the Order is a tasselled Scarlet Cord, initially worn around the waist, then as a sash over the shoulder as the Companion advances through the first four Grades; the position of the Cord indicating the rank of the wearer.
The Cord is augmented by a yellow sash and collarette for Provincial Officers and both are replaced with a red sash and collarette for Grand Officers.
In the First and Second Grades, Companions are provided with a jewel suspended from a Scarlet thread, which they wear around their neck. These jewels are retained by the Consistory.
On reaching the Third Grade, Companions purchase a breast jewel consisting of a suspended Skull and Crossbones and, on attaining the Chair as President, the ribbon of the jewel is additionally adorned with an Anointing Horn to indicate their Distinguished rank. Before 2010 the ribbon was red but is now black.
The Fourth Grade has a different ribbon and a jewel depicting the Ark of the Covenant, while the Fifth and Sixth Grades display a Star shaped breast jewel in Silver and gold respectively.
Members of the Order of the Secret Monitor will have noticed these various breast jewels being worn in the Conclaves of that Order by members of the Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord to reinforce the special relationship between the two Orders.
The Order also has a distinctive tie, and there are a range of cufflinks, ties and lapel pins and other matching accessories; all of which are available from the Shop@86 in Mark Masons’ Hall, London or at selected other outlets throughout the country.