The Deadly Deception


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"of your religion" and, representing us all, he leaned forward and did so. I remembered the First Degree initiation, when I was told to kiss the Bible, and at that moment something came full cycle. It was the final such kiss to be a part of my life.

WINE IN A HUMAN SKULL

When it was time for the final obligation we all stood and repeated the oath with the representative candidate, administered by the Sovereign Grand Inspector General. We then swore true allegiance to the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree, above all other allegiances, and swore never to recognize any other brother as being a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry unless he also recognizes the Supreme authority of "this Supreme Council".

One of the Conductors then handed the "candidate" a human skull, upside down, with wine in it. "May this wine I now drink become a deadly poison to me, as the Hemlock juice drunk by Socrates, should I ever knowingly or willfully violate the same" (the oath).

He then drank the wine. A skeleton (one of the brothers dressed like one - he looked very convincing) then stepped out of the shadows and threw his arms around the "candidate." Then he (and we) continued the sealing of the obligation by saying, "And may these cold arms forever encircle me should I ever knowingly or willfully violate the same."

The Sovereign Grand Commander closed the meeting of the Supreme Council "with the Mystic Number," striking with his sword five, three, one and then two times. After the closing prayer, we all said "amen, amen, amen," and it was over.

PROMINENT MEN TOOK PART

There were some extremely prominent men there that day, including a Scandinavian King, two former presidents of the United States, an internationally prominent evangelist, two other internationally prominent clergymen, and a very high official of the federal government, the one who actually presented me with

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the certificate of the 33rd Degree. Some made only brief appearances; others stayed much longer. However, they didn't do much mixing or socializing with us, except for those whom they already knew. Even though these celebrities weren't extremely "brotherly," it was still quite an experience for me just to be associated with them. It was easily the largest gathering of such prominent and influential men of which I have ever been a part.

The third day there was a banquet to celebrate our becoming "Grand Inspectors General. 33rd Degree." The banquet was a little anticlimactic, at least for me, and I was anxious to get it over with so I could return home. It was good to be a 33rd at last. But it wasn't as exciting or fulfilling as I had thought it would be during all those years in the Craft. I guess this was because of the profound changes going on down deep within me.

I returned home as soon as the 33rd Degree award and related social functions were finished, for it was time for my next appointment with the doctor. After he had examined my eyes he said they were healing fine, that he felt good about the way they were looking, and as usual he spoke with me about the Lord. I told him that I planned to come to his church the next Sunday and that I had been reading the Bible.

Obviously pleased, he said, "Good. Keep studying, and your sight will soon be much better." By this time I knew what he meant - he was speaking of my spiritual sight.

MAUNDY THURSDAY

In the Scottish Rite the Thursday before Easter, "Maundy Thursday," is an important day. On this day we always performed a special service of Communion in the local Scottish Rite Temple. At this time I was Wise Master in the Chapter of Rose Croix and it was my job to preside over the exemplification (dramatization) of the ceremony. I had done this many times and was known for my knowledge of the service and for "doing a good job" of putting it on.

THE WORDS HAD MEANING NOW

On Thursday evening we gathered at our home Temple and dressed for the ceremony. It was always a most solemn occasion


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