Stewards Pass the Veils

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ME Grand Superintendent  John Keeble and the Stewards  Passing of the Veils Team .

On Tuesday the 16th of April 2019, Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter held their Installation meeting at the Beaconsfield Masonic Centre.

At the convocation popular companion Gary Brodie was installed as Third Principal of the Chapter in a well worked ceremony led by MEZ Geoff Bakewell (Incoming MEZ  Stephen Smirthwaite and H Tim Anders were unavailable are to be installed at the next meeting).

The convocation was very well attended and there were a number of distinguished guests including the ME Grand Superintend of Suffolk David Boswell. The convocation was made special by an outstanding demonstration of “The passing of the Veils” ceremony, which was well received by all in attendance. The convocation was followed by a superb festive board, a memorable Masonic occasion, good company, good food, good companionship!.

Passing of the Veils:-

At the time that the Veils ceremony was being worked in England (c.1790-1834) the opening of the Chapter was restricted to Principals and Past Principals. They would enter the Chapter and open it in the same way we do today. The remaining Companions would then enter the Chapter in two columns, led by the Scribes Ezra and Nehemiah, and as many as possible would form in threes to prove themselves RA Masons. There is evidence that in some Chapters once this was done the MEZ would then ask each of the Officers of the Chapter, in ascending order, for their stations and duties within the Chapter. The minutes of the last meeting would then be read and confirmed, a ballot would take place for the candidate(s) for exaltation. The veils would then be drawn across the room and the Janitor informed that all was ready.

The RA Exaltation ceremony is set nearly 500 years after the death of Hiram Abiff, when the Temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Israelites taken captive into Babylon and the Persians, having defeated the Babylonians, allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem.

The Ceremony commences with the Candidate, blindfolded and clothed as a Master Mason, standing outside the door of the Chapter. He has been entrusted with the passwords and is ready to take his Obligation.

For almost 100 years, the membership of the RA was restricted to Installed Masters and the password required was the one given in the Master’s Installation Ceremony. In 1835, changed the regulations and Master Masons were allowed to join.

The Candidate is then called upon to advance by seven steps, halting and bowing at the third, fifth and seventh steps. Different explanations have been suggested for this. One is that it symbolises the approach to the pedestal in the three Craft degrees: 3 in the First, 5 in the Second and 7 in the Third. Another is that this originates from the Super Excellent Master’s Degree, known as the ‘Veils Ceremony’. This once preceded the RA Ceremony (and still does in Bristol.) In that Degree, the Candidate advances by seven steps; three to the blue veil, two to the purple veil, and two to the crimson veil.

It should be noted that the Province, can only demonstration the passing of the veils ceremony once every two years.