Jim Tresner, 33
The white of innocence and the red of guiltless blood, wrongly spilled, are the colors of the apron and cordon of the Seventh Degree. The blood is that of the Master Architect who died rather than betray a trust. The white represents not only the purity of his life, but the purity of act and motive to which every Scottish Rite Mason should aspire.
But then we have a gold key, an ebony box, a balance (or scales), and, in the center of the white lambskin apron, a red-trimmed pocket with a red and white rosette just below its opening.
The key is to a box of ebony, seen in the Degree, which represents symbolically the human heart where, to quote Mackey, “are deposited the secret designs and motives of our conduct by which we propose to erect the spiritual temple of our lives.”
The pocket, legend tells us, holds the records of Solomon’s tribunal along with the plans of the Temple. Embroidered on the flap of the apron is a hand of justice holding a balance or scales. Here, as throughout the Scottish Rite, the balance serves as a symbol for two important themes, equilibrium and justice.
The Degree reminds us that we should never judge the motives of others quickly, and we should avoid judging them at all if that is possible. The simplest reason is that we cannot truly know the motives of another; they are locked away in his heart. But the other reason is that we are very inclined to apply different standards to others than to ourselves. We excuse our own actions on the basis that our motives are good (our heart is in the right place), but with others, we often say “It doesn’t make any difference why he did it, it was wrong.”
The gold key, ebony box, and balance or scales combine to remind us of the great lesson of the Seventh Degree: each thought, each action, each dream, each virtue, and each vice become a part of the plan for our own Temple, our own life, no matter how tightly we may lock them in our heart.
For information on obtaining color photographic prints of all the Scottish Rite Degree paintings (7th Degree pictured above), contact Bro . Bruce A. Dehlin, K. D. Enterprises, 10114 Farmington Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-2049. Fax 703-591-6026 Tel 703-591-5318. For a color poster of all the Degree paintings ($20.00 unframed), send checks payable to The Supreme Council, 33, S.J., USA to: Grand Executive Director’s Office, 1733 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-3103.