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The Regular Alarm of the Mysterious Nine

The Regular Alarm of the Mysterious Nine?
By: Peter G. Champion, Grand Captain of the Guard, California 2018-2019


How many times during my Cryptic travels have I encountered the question, “Who are these mysterious nine Companions mentioned in our ritual, and what is their regular alarm?”  I don’t recall how many rituals, ciphers, Masonic encyclopedia, and diverse sources I’ve explored since being greeted in 1981, with nary a positive response to this question.

It appears that my question of, “WHO are these mysterious nine Companions mentioned in our ritual?”  should have been, “WHAT is the mysterious nine?”  To be more precise, the question should have been, “What is the MYSTERIOUS NUMBER NINE  mentioned in the ancient ritual?”

Back in 1853, Avery Allyn’s “A RITUAL and ILLUSTRATIONS of FREEMASONRY, Accompanied by Numerous Engravings and a Key to the Phi Beta Kappa” was published by William Reeves of London, England.  Allyn’s hundred and sixty-six year old book details the ritual of thirty Masonic degrees with meticulous illustrations of grips, chair placement, prop placements, and floorwork.  I came across a University of Toronto Library PDF photocopy of Allyn’s book in early April, 2019.

One of the degrees detailed in Allyn’s work is the “Select Masters Degree”.  Where I expected to find the words in the opening ritual, “after the regular alarm of the mysterious nine”, I discovered the words, “after the regular alarm of the mysterious number nine”.

Incorporated within the 1853 opening is the following exchange (I have included dashes in lieu of some ritual):

H.K.T.< Nine at night, Thrice Illustrious, when all prying eyes are – – –
K.S. Such being the hour, it is my pleasure that a council of select masters be now open for the dispatch of business. – – – you will therefore order the Companions to their several stations, and after the regular alarm shall be given, let them proceed to their labours, according to the directions they have received.
H.A. Companions, it is our illustrious grand master’s orders that a council of select masters be opened for the dispatch of business; and after the regular alarm of the mysterious number nine is given, each will resume his labour.  (Solomon then knocks eight quick and one slow, and all the officers imitate him in their turn according to rank. Then all the Companions knock eight quick and one slow with their hands.)

The following closing ritual reinforces the concept that the regular alarm of the mysterious number nine is the knock of eight quick and one slow:

K.S. What countryman are you?
C.G. A  P
K.S. In what city was you born?
C.G. In  P
K.S. What is your name?
C.G. G
K.S. What is it o’clock?
C.G. L – T – , the usual time to call from labor to refreshment.
K.S. What remains now to be done?
C.G. To retire in – – –
K.S. Companion Captain of the Guard, you will give notice to the Companions by the mysterious number nine that this council is about to be closed. (The Captain of the Guard knocks eight quick and one slow, which is repeated by Hiram, King of Tyre and Hiram Abiff.)

Numerous rituals in Masonry refer to both “alarms” and “regular alarms”.  Alarms at the door of the preparation room are never referred to as regular; nor are alarms by visitors at the Tyler’s door ever referred to as regular.  A number of older rituals refer to the three knocks with the rod of the Senior Deacon at the station of the Junior Warden after a perambulation as a “regular alarm”.  This would appear to be based on the fact that the alarms at the door to the preparation room and at the Tyler’s door may occur at haphazard times without any regularity.  Whereas, the three knocks by the Senior Deacon with his rod is expected and given with regularity after the perambulations when addressing the Wardens, thus they are “regular alarms”.

In the Select Master Degree ritual recorded by Allyn in 1853, the regular alarm of the mysterious number nine  being “knocks eight quick and one slow” are always delivered at the same location in the opening ritual and closing ritual, thus the alarm is given with regularity in response to the Captain of the Guard’s command to perform them.  It is probably fitting that I discovered the answer to my long sought question during my year as the Grand Captain of the Guard.


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