Monday, April 23, 2012
Scottish Rite 14th Degree Paperweight
What It Is: a Scottish Rite 14th Degree ring in a clear acrylic pyramid paperweight
Where It Came From: Dad's Scottish Rite lodge, I assume.
What It Means:
"Way to convince people you're not the Illuminati, Dad."
For longer than I've been alive, my father has been a member in various fraternal bodies, mostly Masonic, but more recently Oddfellows, also. When I was a kid, it mainly meant that a few nights a week he would go to some meeting or other --- and the rest of us, having rather different taste in food (someday I might tell you more about the twisted food politics in this house), could fix what we really wanted for dinner. Also he had various bags and briefcases with Masonic symbols on them, a few funny hats (including pillboxes and a Napoleon-style chapeau, although at least he never joined Tall Cedars of Lebanon), and other ritual devices --- only the Masons could make owning a sword so devoid of cool.
But from all I've been around Dad's Masonic friends, they're just ordinary nice men who like belonging to clubs and sometimes giving to charities, and the worst I'd credit them with is the odd touch of pomposity. Being a woman, I couldn't join the Masonic orders myself, but I was briefly an Oddfellow and found that it pretty much amounted to hanging out with retired junior high school coaches and engaging in amateur liturgical theater (I did say it was briefly).
This gives me a sort of different perspective on the various "Secrets of the Freemasons" History Channel specials and Dan Brown novels and Jack Chick tracts. Nonetheless, with that kind of thing going around, a ring floating in a pyramid with an arcane symbol on the front and a Latin slogan engraved on the inside of it is a rather arresting thing to have sitting around the house, isn't it? (BTW, Dad explained to me that "Valley" and "Orient" are fancy names the Scottish Rite gives local and regional bodies, so contrary to my initial reading the inscription is not meant to say that Joplin is a low-lying area that somehow is to the state of Missouri as Asia is to the world.)
Of course, being that their rituals, however harmless and clubby, are nominally secret, I wasn't totally sure if I should post this thing here... But a quick Google search for "Scottish Rite 14th degree ring" revealed that it's actually quite happy to tell people about itself.
Where It's Going: Nowhere; it's Dad's.