The symbolism of the regalia of the 25° is some of the richest in the Scottish Rite. The apron (image right) is white, lined and bordered with black. Both sides of the apron are of symbolic significance. On the white side or front of the apron are gold stars arranged in constellations to represent the Pleiades, the Hyades, Orion, and Capella. In the middle is a rayed equilateral triangle, and in the center is the name of Deity in Phoenician characters. To the right and left of the triangle is a larger star, each with the letter A over the star. The letters identify the stars as, respectively, Aldebarán and Antares. Beneath the triangle is a gold star with the letter F signifying the star Fomalhaut.
On the flap of the apron is a serpent or dragon, coiled into a circle and holding its tail in its mouth. The symbol is known as the Ouroboros. It is a symbol of time, or eternity, and of the great cycles of time in which we all live. Within the circle formed by the Ouroboros is a golden scarab beetle, symbol of immortality. Over this is a gold star, and the letter R for the star Regulus.
On the back of the apron are silver stars representing the constellations of Perseus, Scorpio, and Ursa Major.
Two cordons form a part of the regalia of the 25°. One is a broad crimson ribbon. On it are embroidered the names: Osiris, Ahura, Osarsiph, Moses. Following the last name is the embroidered figure of a bull. A disc is on his head as well as the horns with a crescent between them. This cordon is worn from left to right.
Over it, worn from right to left, is a cordon of similar size, but of white watered silk rather than crimson. Embroidered on the white ribbon, in gold, are the names Isis and Ceres. Under the name Ceres is embroidered the head of a dog, with a crescent above its head. On the right breast, on the left breast, and at the point at which the white cordon crosses the crimson cordon, gold stars are embroidered. Under the star over the right breast (which is on the white cordon) is the letter A for the star Aldebarán. Under the star over the left breast (crimson ribbon) is the letter A for the star Antares. Under the star on the white ribbon, where it crosses the crimson ribbon, is the letter F for the star Fomalhaut.1
Finally, on the crimson cordon is the word Geburah (Hebrew for valor) while on the white cordon is the word Aun (Hebrew for force or strength). Read together, they suggest the generative and productive power of nature.
The jewel of the Degree is in the form of an Ankh, i.e., a Tau-shaped cross with a loop or circle on top. On the upright of the cross are engraved the Hebrew words which translate “He has suffered” or “He has been wounded.” On the cross bar is the word Nakhustan (also spelled Nehushtan), the name given in the Bible to the brazen serpent erected by Moses (2 Kings 18:4, Numbers 21:6–9). A serpent is coiled around the ring at the top of the Ankh.
The primary legend of the Degree comes from an account of the Exodus. The people had started to complain to God about the length of the journey and the fact that there was nothing but manna to eat. God sent serpents among the people, and those who were bitten soon died. The people repented, and God spoke to Moses, telling him to make a serpent of brass and set it on a pole. Then, all that had been bitten and looked upon the serpent of brass lived. Thus, the serpent coiled around the handle of the Ankh symbolizes healing and spiritual grace.
There are many complex meanings in the constellations and stars selected for special emphasis on the regalia, but on a fundamental level, their meaning is that there is significance and a plan to the universe. God’s purposes move with certainty, and we need never fear being lost in a hostile or indifferent world.
The names on the cordons include the names of many of the gods and goddesses who appear in the ancient vegetation myths, stories which usually centered around a goddess and her lover who must die each year in order for the earth to bring forth a harvest. Many of these myths took their inspiration from the yearly journey of the sun toward the shortest day and its reemergence after three days in the movement toward spring.
The Degree reminds us that men have found many ways to tell the great truths of spiritual and human experience. Some may seem primitive or childish to us today, but there is wisdom in the wonder of a child even as there is wisdom in the sayings of the sages.
1 For an excellent discussion of Pike’s use of specific stars as symbols, see Norman D. Peterson’s paper, “Astronomical Symbols in Albert Pike’s Ornamentation of the Lodge” in Volume 3, 1994, of Heredom, the transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society.
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