Noachite, or Prussian Knight
Tresner, 33°, Grand Cross
PO Box 70, Guthrie,
painting by Bro. Robert H. White, 32°
and its titles represent a curious historical
accident. Although it is less discussed in
Freemasonry today, in the 1700s and early 1800s
there was a strong Masonic tradition which
placed Noah as one of the Craft's major patrons
involved with the preservation of the knowledge
arts and sciences during the Flood
and its transmittal to the generations which
followed. Some systems went so far as to make
Noah the central legendary figure rather than
Hiram. Freemasons were sometimes called
Noachites or Noachidae, sons of Noah.
the Degree, the story intermingles with that of
the Vehmgericht, a medieval court headquartered
in Westphalia, hence the term "Prussian Knight."
It is a strange combination, but it produces one
of the most powerful and theatrical
Degrees of the
Rite. All the elements of high drama are there—a
meeting in the forest at night by the light of
the full moon; men of integrity and power forced
to confront personal biases they did not know
existed within themselves; the ease with which
one may fall into dishonor; the power of
faith—all this and more takes the stage in this
Degree. It is a powerful cautionary tale.
apron of the 21° is yellow, lined with white. On
the flap is an Arm of Justice, i.e., an arm
holding a naked sword and prepared to strike. On
the body of the apron is a winged human figure.
The forefinger of his right hand is on his lips,
and he holds a key in his left hand. He is the
Egyptian figure of Silence. In A Bridge to
Light, Dr. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross,
points out that the wings are an addition and
that Plato indicated wings symbolized
"intelligence," while to the alchemists they
represented "the higher, active male principle"
different jewels may be used with the Degree. On
it is a triangular plate of gold having on it an
arrow, pointing downward. Or, the jewel may be a
disc of silver (representing the full moon),
showing an Arm of Justice surrounded by the
words Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum—"Let
there be Justice, though the heavens fall." The
cordon of the Degree is a broad black ribbon,
worn from right to left.
are several important lessons in this Degree.
The first is the great importance of a free and
legitimate judiciary. Elsewhere, Pike points out
that access to the courts is more important than
access to the ballot box.
second important lesson of this Degree is that
we must be very, very careful when judging
others. By definition, we are making a judgment
on the basis of inadequate data. We should
especially be hesitant to judge someone
negatively. Almost all of us have had the
experience of deciding that we didn't like
someone we just met, only to find out later that
the person is truly good and someone we would
want as a friend. Being human, we will form
first impressions, but we must be willing to set
those aside when more information comes to us.
important lesson is that we must never become
too impressed with our own knowledge or ability.
We must not, in the words of the ritual, become
"wise in our own conceit." Doing so not only
leads us into error; it also makes the error
fourth important lesson is that of the strength
of faith. Often, only faith will be there to
sustain us. In the Degree, this is not just
faith in God, but faith in some ideal or goal
such as justice, or faith in the ultimate
triumph of right, or even a faith in our own
Finally, the Degree teaches that we should be
humble and modest. At times, we are capable of
an almost incredible arrogance. We are perfectly
willing to tell God what is wrong with the world
He made and how He should fix it. Many of us are
willing to assassinate the character of someone
else, because it makes us seem more important to
ourselves. We not only pass on slander about
someone, we embroider it around the edges to
make it a better story. The whole and wrongful
purpose is to give us a sense of moral
superiority—a feeling to which we have no right.
country, we have no fear we will be hauled
before a secret court at the dead of night, as
happens in this Degree, and be forced to defend
our actions and character. Let us be very sure
that our own hearts do not become the secret
tribunals for the trial of others.
Rite Journal - November 2000