By Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder
Arizona Ish Sodi Jewel
On Saturday, August 17, 2019, the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Arizona voted to share its Ish Sodi program with the General Grand Council – THANK YOU! The program has two distinct aspects which work together to effectively promote Cryptic Masonry. The award is earned by following a program of participation and earning points. The ceremony of investiture after a Companion earns the award is a beautiful tiled ritual. To bring it together, they make it a Festival of the investiture in the morning and follow it up with a full performance of the Super Excellent Master Degree.
Some refer to this type of award as a “Merit Badge” – not a bad description, considering you are given a list of requirements and a point system to earn the award. The award takes 10 total points to earn, but requires that you have first line signed at least one new Companion during the year (worth 3 points). Further points are earned by perfect Council attendance, Council degree work performed, working in your Lodge, a donation to CMMRF, attendance at Grand Assembly and visitations to other Councils and Jurisdictions, and working on Masonic projects. In addition to the obvious promotion of involving our Companions in activities in their Council, it also makes a point of directing the candidate to pay attention to his Lodge and other Masonic projects.
What an excellent mentoring tool. This won’t replace a coach or guide (the first line signer), but it does help said mentor to direct activities with his charge that will enrich his experience, help him understand Cryptic Masonry, and give him the opportunity to be exposed to more ritual and a repeatable process of mutual learning and growth – of both the Companion and the Council. This program actually designs the experience to create habits in our main areas of activity: participation, ritual, charity, membership, and remembering our roots in the Lodge.
The ceremony of awarding the “Man of My Choice” is a beautiful three-part ritual. The first is tiled and done privately but does not take a great deal of time. The second spans several citations with Sacred Law references and relates the lessons of faithfulness, wisdom and truth. The third is the explanation of the jewel and the welcome to the Select and Chosen. Both the second and third sections of the degree allow family and friends to be in attendance. The ritual was finalized by MIPGM and Reverend Donald W. Monson and will be made available only through a Grand Recorder due to the tiled nature.
The beauty of this gift is that while it is a complete program, it doesn’t have to be taken as such. Each of the parts has a lesson for us – the checklist, the ritual for Ish Sodi, and the idea of a Festival for this and the Super Excellent Master. Why would you do that? Because some jurisdictions already award the Ish Sodi with different requirements, some may have a “merit badge” award but not with this name, and some jurisdictions may already regularly perform the Super Excellent Master regularly. That said, some do not, and this presents a nice package.
Arizona tradition allows for six levels of the award, with the use of jewels affixed to a base award. The image above is a concept drawing provided by Right Puissant Companion Sid LeLuan of Arizona denoting the missing pillar, and with a “dangle” that shows how many awards a Companion has earned. The concept adjusts the presentation of the triangle to represent the provided description from the Royal Master Degree and allows for further awards past six by attaching a single bar that denotes a written number.
If your jurisdiction has a program such as this, or a different method for awarding or issuing the Ish Sodi award, we would like to hear about it. These types of initiatives are tools for all of Cryptic Masonry, and we are again grateful to Most Illustrious Grand Master Darius G. Mac McClintock and the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Arizona for sharing this program and these tools with us all. If you would like a copy of the ritual, please solicit it from your Grand Recorder, and we will distribute to him electronically at this point. Please (Click Here) to see the petition form.