In February 2018, I was invited to speak at Schenectady Lodge #1174 in Schenectady, New York. Afterward, I was approached by Bro. James (Jim) Simpson, who shared his interest in the topic of my presentation. Jim caught my attention in that he’s an older member, the kind of Brother who leaves you with the impression that he has in-depth knowledge of the craft, its symbols, and history. We exchanged contact information. It was early March of that year when I opened the package of his first paper, “The Thirty Three Degrees of Freemasonry.”
What first caught my eye was that all 12 pages, including the title page and bibliography, were handwritten. For a kid who grew up in the 1980s who wrote thank you letters to my grandparents for every gift they sent me, I can’t remember the last time I opened a piece of mail in the past five years that was handwritten. I read on.
“There are 33 such degrees in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. Is 33 a mystic number some inherent numerical meaning?”
I was hooked. I read the entire paper that afternoon when I came home after work. Bro. Jim also included photocopies of his supporting documentation to source his research. As a graduate studies student, I felt like I was reading college-level work.
I present to you the first in a series of Bro. James Simpson’s writings. What is special, is that Bro. Simpson is in his early 80s. When we last spoke on the phone, he shared that he’s “taking a hiatus this summer because my mind is getting tired.”
What surprised me over the past few years during our friendship is that he started writing about five years ago. After he was raised, he started reading and didn’t stop. He had so many ideas that he wanted to share his knowledge. This started with “scribbled paragraphs that I would read in my Blue Lodge,” he said. And how were his ideas received? He was thanked with not much discussion. “That was pretty much the end of it. There’s no discussion because the speaker is the only one who has done the reading on the subject. But, others will come to you and thank you for sharing the matter. (Just as he did with me) Don’t be discouraged! All of the Brothers I have known are interested in becoming more adept in the craft as it relates to their position in the Lodge.” He wasn’t the first, nor sadly the last, to learn that some of Freemasonry’s esoteric thoughts and ancient history sometimes fail to connect with the Brothers.
I will be converting Bro. Simpson’s papers to text, my hope is to share them with you as I receive them. He is one of many of our craft’s hidden gems. It is important to me that the library of history in his mind, the handwritten papers that he freely shares with any interested Brother, that knowledge continues to be accessed. I understand, not all Masons seek the additional Light that was promised to us in the degree ritual — but we should. We all began as Entered Apprentices with a desire to know and learn. We need to secure for future generations those “scribbles” that can spark great ideas or thoughts for an entire Craft.
Michael Arce, Editor-in-chief, Craftsmen Online
The novice was the symbol of the third or solar plexus chakra. The fulfillment of this degree led to the awakening of the universal life force. This degree was achieved by the entry into the mysteries of the Venus oracle at the Cathedral of Orleans.
The novice is now ready to awaken the heart chakra which is linked to the region of the thymus gland above the heart. This is the spiritual center controlling the sublime gifts of love. This initiation was held in the Crypt of Chargers Cathedral, the ancient site of the sun oracle.
Induction into the fifth degree was performed in the chamber under Notre-Dame de Paris, the site of the druidic oracle of Mars. The fifth center is the throat chakra and is the first of the higher ones. It is the center of both speech and inner hearing and is connected with the power of sound.
The brow chakra, known to many as the third eye, is connected with the pituitary gland. Clairvoyance is connected with this center, which relates to the spiritual faculties of insight and intuition. This took place in the cathedral of Amiens, and the aspirant would be instructed in the mysteries of the Jupiter oracle.
The seventh degree was attained with the culmination of the spiritual journey a the opening of the crown chakra, which is mystically united with the pineal gland; also known as the Seat of the Soul. This was awarded at the seventh site, Rosslyn Chapel, the ancient and revered site of the Saturn oracle. The initiation ceremony for this degree took place in the hidden chamber under the chapel, which was deliberately created by Earl William St. Clair. The Sinclairs were experts in sacred geometry and geomancy, sciences that teach how to design physical structures so that they harmonize, capture, and amplify the natural currents of energy that flow under and upon the surface of the earth. William Sinclair based the chapel’s dimensions on the Golden Mean, the proportion that determines the geometric spiral, which is synonymous with the path of serpentine life force.
Rosslyn Chapel was situated upon the confluence of important ley lines that united it with sacred landmarks throughout Britain. One of its intersecting leys comes from the direction of the bore stane hill where five powerful ley-lines radiate. In 1994, Niven Sinclair invited Professor Lin Yun, a master of Feng Shui, to measure the flow of the “earth energy” within Rosslyn Chapel. Professor Yun was impressed with this energy and maintained that the chapel was destined to be a center of world peace.
The seven spiritual centers along with their respective planets were in total alignment on July 28, 2019. The author did not make any predictions for this alignment.
Bro. Jim Simpson, Schenectady Lodge #1174, Schenectady, New YorkSigman Bodies Ancient Accept Scottish Rite, Scotia, New York St. George’s Chapter #157, Schenectady, New York St. George’s Council #74, Schenectady, New York St. George’s Commandry #37, Schenectady, New YorkCharles H. Copestake #69 AMD, Schenectady, New York