Royal Scarlet Degree (2nd degree)
Great benefits from superstitiously wearing scarlet
Having undergone the elaborate and disturbing first Royal Black degree, the second degree called “Royal Scarlet” seems quite short, simple and uneventful. In fact, it is in many respects a complete contrast to the intense opening degree. It is mainly focused upon the oral catechism given by two district lecturers. This degree is based on the story of the two spies going out from the children of Israel to scout out Jericho before its fall.
The catechism begins, with two lecturers interacting:
“Why do you wear that colour?
Because by it, I have obtained great benefits.
What great benefits have you obtained by wearing Royal scarlet?
By it, my brethren were freed from the bondage of all their enemies.
How were you prepared to become a Knight of the Scarlet Order?
By being divested of my outer apparel, even to my inner garments.”
The scarlet colour obviously refers to the thread that Rahab was asked to hang from her house in order to preserve her household. Notwithstanding, the Black turn this scriptural account into a mystical story and turn the narrative into a secret play. These strange biblical events are a mysterious fascination to the secret fraternal world. Due to the protection the thread provided in this Bible story, Blackmen are said to gain “great benefits” from wearing scarlet. The biblical account is therefore transformed into a mysterious rite and a superstitious custom.
The now-defunct Royal Britannic Association had it as its first degree. The Knights of Malta has it as its third degree. Another secret society which is outside the Black camp – the Odd Fellows – had its own version of the Scarlet degree as a third degree. American Freemasonry has a degree which is conferred on Royal Arch Masons, their wives, mothers, widows, sisters and daughters. It is called the Heroine of Jericho degree. It is very similar to the Royal Scarlet degree, in that it too is focused upon the story of Jericho and is specifically concentrated upon the character of Rahab. It also deals with the scarlet colour in a mystical manner. Albert Mackey tells us in his Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry: “When the degree is received by a male he is called a Knight of Jericho, and when by a female she is termed a Heroine” (p. 336).
The Black catechism gives us a clue as to the way in which this initiation rite should be properly travelled. This is done “by being divested of my outer apparel, even to my inner garments.” This divesting of clothes is important within all secret societies and within the occult movement. It is a form of subjugation which submits the candidate to the authority of the Order. In the Knights of Malta ritual the officers retire to the preparation room with the initiate. The candidates are prepared as follows: “They are divested of their outer clothing and invested with the scarlet drawers; a scarlet ribbon is tied around the neck of each, and they are blindfolded, in which condition they are conducted to the inner door.” The Black and Knights of Malta both strip the aspirant of his outer garments in order to undergo this trial. Whilst this is not always practised to the letter today, it has been the standard working of the rite over the years.
The ceremony involves the newcomer walking round the room in circles mimicking the children of Israel marching round the walls of Jericho. We have anecdotal evidence of candidates being required to walk round the room blowing a children’s plastic trumpet. It can be highly embarrassing for grown men to behave in this way especially in a religious environment when observed closely by friends, relatives and neighbours.
The final address informs the candidate: “The emblems worn for this degree is the crossed bugles representing the rams horns that were used by the priests when they encompassed the city of Jericho.” The “great and grand password of the Knights of the Scarlet Order” is revealed as “Our-life-for-yours-if-you-utter-not-this-our-business.”
The Royal Black Institution consists of eleven degrees, as follows: –
(1) Royal Black degree – exposed and biblically examined
(2) Royal Scarlet Degree – exposed and biblically examined
(3) Royal Mark degree – exposed and biblically examined
(4) Apron and Royal Blue degree – exposed and biblically examined
(5) Royal White degree – exposed and biblically examined
(6) Royal Green degree – exposed and biblically examined
(7) Gold degree – exposed and biblically examined
(8) Star and Garter degree – exposed and biblically examined
(9) Crimson Arrow degreee – exposed and biblically examined
(10) Link and Chain degree – exposed and biblically examined
(11) Red Cross degree – exposed and biblically examined
The Institution also possesses a final retrospective degree, which is essentially an overview of the 11 degrees that the candidate has traversed.
Red Cross Grand Charge – exposed
For further revelations read Inside the Royal Black Institution