On September 17, 2019, I gave the following speech at the San Bernardino Valley Scottish Rite Feast of the Tishri, from an Albert Pike perspective. It was a great honor to have been selected to speak at this most sacred and honored event; a Scottish Rite tradition. The room was filled with guests, and Scottish Rite members and their ladies. I have posted this speech for posterity; feel free to use it if you too find it worthy of presenting. Enjoy!!!:
Good evening everyone; good to see you all. Welcome to our Feast of the Tishri, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacle, an annual Scottish Rite celebration.
Before I get into the specific details of this speech, a few words about Albert Pike, who is the primary source for this presentation, is certainly in order. Virtually everyone here is intimately familiar with the man; but few have ever studied this legendary Scottish Rite sage. Perhaps just as many people here know of his historic book, Morals and Dogma, which was published in 1872; yet, few have ever made more than a modest effort to read this literary masterpiece.
Indeed, his book is an allegorical riddle; and if one has not been taught to read and interpret allegory, often aligned with a classical education, the reader may be led astray into a pit of confusion. Despite this truth, those students of the Craft who have spent years and even decades studying Morals and Dogma have often learned many astonishing hidden truths.
As such, I am honored to have been asked to give this, my first, and hopefully not my last, Feast of the Tishri presentation from an Albert Pike perspective.
So what exactly is the Feast of the Tishri, and why is it so important? Well, more on that in a moment. First and foremost, we must understand the importance of Feasts in the ancient world; and why these Feasts were even celebrated.
One of the first celebrations mentioned by Pike was the Feast of Lamps; a annual activity to honor the Goddess Neith, who personified Thought or Spirit (p. 255). Moreover, Pharisaic Jews and Gnostics, or early Christians, used the term “Admission to the Feast of Heavenly Wisdom,” when referencing the “restoration of all things” and a “return to their original pure condition” (p. 259).
The Goths, who were a Germanic people, held three great festivals; the most magnificent one was held during the winter solstice, in honor of Thor, or the Sun, and the “Prince of the Power of the Air.” This was called the Yeol Feast, which eventually became known as Christmas. Interestingly, these Feasts were held in huge caverns; and were often combined with initiations, similar to the Mithraic tradition, which was very popular amongst the soldier and elite class of Rome (p. 369).
The Grand Feast of the Syrian Goddess, Cybele, or Rhea, was held during the Vernal Equinox; and she represented the moon. Furthermore, the Feast of the Passion of Atys, who was the Roman sun god that was slain by the boar’s tusk of winter, was held over a three day period; the first was said to have “passed in mourning and tears” and afterwards it became a joyful event. These ceremonies “were all allegorical” and were held within a “veil of mystery:” like that of Masonry today (p. 423).
There was also a short mention of the Feast of Aesclepius, which honored this god of healing and medicine (p. 434).
To add, we see the “mystic winnowing-fan, encircled by serpents” were used in the feasts of Bacchus (494). Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture, and wind winnowing is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff; some techniques included using a winnowing fan, which is a basket shaken to raise the chaff. While the encircled serpent is a sign of Immortality.
Like that of the Romans, the Persians commenced their year with the Feast of Neurouz, which was to remind men of the renovation of nature, and the triumph of Ormuzd, their Light God, over the “powers of Darkness” (p. 466).
Likewise, the ancient Sabaeans established feasts to honor the planets and exalt nature, like that of the sun and the moon. Egypt adopted this feast and called it the Feast of Fire and Light, which the Jews and Persians practiced as the Passover. Most of the feasts of the planets were public events; nevertheless, the Romans preferred to celebrate this feast in the privacy of their homes (p. 463).
Consequently, the “risings and settings of the Fixed Stars, and their conjunctions with the Sun, and their ﬁrst appearance as they emerged from his rays, ﬁxed the epochs for the feasts instituted in their honor; and the Sacred Calendars of the ancients were regulated accordingly” (p. 464).
As such, like all other faiths before it, the Christian Church has since made these feast-days their own, and “appropriated them to the two Saints John,” and “Masonry has done the same” (p. 596).
Hence, within not only our beloved Scottish Rite, but also most Masonic institutions, survives the ancient celestial and astronomical teachings and secrets of past civilizations, which were so often celebrated through the use of Feasts (483).
Now back to our main point. Although there is no direct use of the Feast of Tishri within Albert Pike’s book Morals and Dogma, there is one reference to the Feast of the Tabernacle, which originally lasted seven days (p. 59). Furthermore, and most interestingly, two Scottish Rite degrees, the 23rd degree – Chief of the Tabernacle, and the 24th degree – Prince of the Tabernacle gives us a glimpse of its importance (p. 200).
As many of you may already know, the use of the word Tabernacle is used when referencing the dwelling place or residence of God; which the children of Israel named their tent, or mobile temple, they used after fleeing Egypt. Accordingly, when we use the word Tabernacle, it can be surmised that its meaning remains the same, which is the dwelling place or residence of God.
By extension, therefore, as we meet here today to celebrate our annual Feast of the Tishri, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacle, we also acknowledge God’s presence as he dwells amongst us.
The origin of this feast is described in the book of Leviticus where God spoke to Moses, saying that the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri of the Hebrew civil calendar, “ye shall have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord.” In short, the Feast of Tishri is the Hebrew equivalent of Thanksgiving or a Harvest Festival.
It goes without saying that the Feast of Tishri is indeed a special day of celebration for every Scottish Rite Mason. In fact, it epitomizes and characterizes another important historical dwelling place of God, King Solomon’s Temple, which we celebrate through our legend of the fourteenth degree.
By observing the Feast of Tishri, Scottish Rite Masons everywhere continue the tradition of the Brotherhood’s quest for peace and love for all of God’s creations; thereby pleasing God through the eventual unification of all men and women everywhere under the banner of “Faith in God, Hope in Immortality, and Charity to all mankind” (p. 10).
So Mote It Be!
Blue Lodge Master Mason – Scottish Rite Mason – York Rite Mason – Knight Mason – Allied Mason – York Rite College – Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest – Red Cross of Constantine – Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.