Is the Secret Vault Horizontal or Vertical?
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey

The Secret Vault
The Secret Vault
Jeremy L. Cross's 1819 Chart

My Companion:

Do the Nine Arches go up and down or front to back?

Here are two illustrations from Jeremy L. Cross’s 1819 Chart; both relate to the Select Master Degree as portrayed by Cross, who was himself a follower of Thomas Webb. The one on the left shows the arches descending into the earth, as related to the legend of Enoch. The other one shows the arches progressing on the level as if to create a long hall or tunnel. Two very different representations of how nine arches could be arranged. And yet, the result is the same: the white cubic stone, the Ark, and all the items and implements of the Royal Arch degrees and our degrees are found within the Ninth Arch.

Our own Masonic journeys are like that. We each follow our own path, lead by the Light of Knowledge. We all start at the same place, the Lodge, and follow the two general paths of York and Scottish Rite, with all the invitational bodies thrown in for good measure. Some parts of the path are straight and level, others curved or hilly. Some follow a direct line somewhere; others wander from point to point. Some journeys have many stops along the way; others very few places to visit. Some visits take a long time, and at others, you barely slow down as you go by.

But it does not matter what path we take to get where we go. It is the fact that we get somewhere useful in a proper manner that is important. Just like knowing how to bathe ourselves, clothe ourselves, and feed ourselves in the real world, there are some basic pieces of fraternal knowledge we all need to know: Masonic protocol, modes and means of recognition, and so on. But whether we learned them only in Lodge or elsewhere in Masonry is in and of itself of no consequence.

Every so often, take another step on your journey. Why not start with Enoch? See how his legend relates to our several Degrees. Bring what you find to your Council, and share it with your Companions. Call a Companion you haven’t seen in a while, and see if he would like a ride to the meeting. Don’t forget to tell him they’ll be talking about more than just the minutes and the bills.

Change him from “Long Lost” to “Now Found”.