32nd_degree_camp_plate (2022)

Bro. Robert H. Johnson 32°

Of the many symbols within Freemasonry; the Square and Compasses, the letter G for American Masons, the Skull and Crossbones for some of our European Brothers, the Triple Tau, the Double Headed Eagle and even the Cross in the Crown made famous by our Knight Templar Order may pale in complexity to what is said to be the most intricate symbol in Freemasonry, The Camp. I will say this, the Triple Tau is one complex symbol when dissected, it's many meanings unfolding into several parts, however The Camp, when taken apart, could be written volumes on each section. This is the first part in a series of short pieces which will attempt to dissect The Camp into a digestible format.

First, I would like to mention that to many Freemasons, The Camp may not be something they have seen before. Even some members of the AASR (Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite), especially us in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction may not have seen this, but don't let that stop you from reading. The Camp is called this because on the outside of the symbol are a series of tents set up in an arrangement around a shape. These tents represent encampments of Masons. Or a camp of Masons arranged in a particular order according to the degree being represented.

This first shape is the outer level and is called a Nonagon. It has nine sides and around it there are nine tents. Also each tent has a specific color, letter and banner. The next level in is a shape is a heptagon, followed by a pentagon which is surrounded by banners or "standards". On each one of these banners is a picture. Inside the pentagon is a triangle and in this triangle there are three pictographs. At the next level , is a circle and in the circle is the St. Andrews Cross. So if you break this symbol down into it's various parts you have ;

• Five shapes; the nonagon, the heptagon, the pentagon, a triangle and a circle. Notice the 3,5,7 and 9.

• On the nonagon, you have nine camps to which relate to the first 18 degrees, nine colors, nine letters and eighteen duties or lessons associated with it.

• The heptagon has seven sides.

• The pentagon has twelve degrees, five letters, five pictograms and twelve lessons or duties ascribed to it.

• The triangle has two degrees, three pictograms and two lessons or duties associated with it.

• The circle has but one degree joined to it.

• The St. Andrews Cross is in the center and alone.

So far I have given you the most basic and intriguing explanation of this symbol and I hope you join me as I continue to take apart this symbol in its many facets over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoyed this very brief and tantalizing look at The Camp. In the next piece we will dive into the nonagon and all its parts. Until then, stay on the level.


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

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The Camp: Part Two - The Nonagon and Tents

by Midnight Freemason Contributor

Bro. Robert H. Johnson 32°

So in our introduction to The Camp, we gave a brief overview. This time we are going to dive right
into it. So the first thing you see in this symbol is this weird shape and all around it are these tents which look like they are straight out of some medieval landscape. I guess that's part right. The shape on this outside of the symbol is called a nonagon. It is called this because it has nine sides. So why nine?

Well, this is a good question, the nine sides have nine tents and each tent represents one or more degrees. Some elements I would still consider to be "secret" so I will not be explaining the lessons taught or the explanation of why certain letters are used in each of these, nonetheless, here is a break down of what I can tell you;

  • The blue bannered tent represents the blue degrees or the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees. The color is quite appropriate. The banner letters which represent this tent are "I" and "S".
  • The next tent has a green banner and is representative of the 4th and 5th degrees also known as the Secret Master and Perfect Master. The banner letter which represents this tent is "N".
  • The tent represented with a red and green banner represents the 6th and 7th degrees which are known as the Intimate Secretary and Provost and Judge. It's banner letter is "O".
  • The next tent is represented with a red and black banner and is representative of the 8th degree only, which is called Intendant of the Building. It is also

    represented with the banner letter "N".

  • The tent with the banner in black and red (not to be confused with the red and black of the 6th and 7th degrees) represents the 12th and 13th degrees, also called Master Architect and Masons of the Royal Arch (no relation to the York Rite). It banner letter is "I".
  • The tent with the plain red banner is representative of the degree of the Perfect Elu and it's banner letter is "L".
  • The light green bannered tent represents the 15th and 16th degrees which are named Knights of the East and Princes of Jerusalem. The banner letter is "A".

  • The last tent on represented on this nonagon is that which is represented by the banner color white and crimson. It's degrees represented are the 17th and 18th degrees also known as the Knights of the East and West and Knight Rose Croix. The banner letter is "S".

So inside, or rather I should say on and around this nonagon, you have the first eighteen degrees of the AASR (Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite) represented. It's kind of like a decoder ring no? Within these first eighteen degrees you have a few groups represented in the Scottish Rite. The 1st through the 3rd degrees are of course the symbolic or blue lodge degrees. The 4th through the 14th degrees are under the Lodge of Perfection and the 15th through the 18th are conferred by the Chapter of Rose Croix.

I hope this helped explain a bit more of this intricate symbol and I hope you come back to dive into the next level in. Next time we will cover the Heptagon and the Pentagon!

*Editors Note*~ The Camp is mainly used in the 35 states which are under the AASR Southern Jurisdiction. The degrees explained and to which body they are associated is also Southern Jurisdiction. The NMJ is a bit different.

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The Camp - Part Three - The Heptagon and the Pentagon

by Midnight Freemason Contributor

Bro. Robert Johnson 32°

Well, it has been a week and a half since I last wrote about The Camp; the AASR's (Ancient part one of this series I introduced you to the symbol, and in part two, we explored the outer shape, the nonagon. In part three we will explore the next level in, the heptagon and the pentagon.

Accepted Scottish Rite's) most intricate and recognizable symbol.

Lets dive in shall we? So first of all what is a heptagon? Well, in geometry it is in fact a shape which has seven sides. According to many research books, including "A Bridge to Light", the heptagon has no "camps" or degrees associated with it. In my opinion, it is simply there to complete the symbol and remind us perhaps of the seven liberal arts and sciences. If you are unfamiliar with these arts and sciences, whether because you are not yet a Freemason, perhaps you can't remember or you just plain old never got that part of the lecture, lets just lay it out.

The seven liberal arts and sciences are split into two groups; the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The Trivium consists of the arts: Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic. Mastering these is an art in itself and enables one to present, teach as well as debate. The Quadrivium consists of the sciences: Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. As a side note I think it is important to understand that the sciences are all connected. Consider the following; Arithmetic is numbers, Geometry is numbers in space, Music is numbers in time and Astronomy is numbers in space and time. This is kind of a neat way to think of it right? Therefor the heptagon, represents these sciences and gives the number seven its place in this great symbol known as The Camp.

The next shape in our journey to the center of The Camp is the pentagon. Already, you may be thinking about this symbol, perhaps in a negative way, especially if you are not yet a Freemason. Contrary to popular culture and the misguided conspiracy kooks the pentagon is not a satanic symbol. Within The Camp, the pentagon as a shape, has five sides. Each side of the pentagon also has something "camped" on it. Here is a quick reference list of these camps, symbols, degrees and letters associated therein;

  • Side one - represents the 19th and 20th degrees which are known as the Grand Pontiffs and Masters of the Symbolic lodge. Its letter is "U" and i's banner depicts the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Side two - represents the 21st an 22nd degrees known as Prussian Knights and Knights Royal Axe. Its letter is "G" and its banner displays an Ox or a Bull.
  • Side three - represents the 23rd, 24th and 25th degrees. These degrees are called Chiefs of the Tabernacle, Princes of the Tabernacle and Knights of the Brazen Serpent. Its letter is "N" and its banner depicts an Eagle with a Sword and a Bloody Heart.
  • Side four - represents the 26th, 27th and 28th degrees. These are known by the names; Princes of Mercy, Knights of the Sun and Commanders of the Temple. Its letter is "E" and its banner depicts a Flaming and Winged Heart.
  • Side five - represents the 29th and 30th degrees which are know as Knights of St. Andrew and Knights Kadosh. It's letter is "T" and it's banner is depicted with the symbol of a Lion with a Key in his mouth.

So as you can see, the degrees represented in the pentagon range from the 19th through the 30th, all of which fall under the group within the AASR known as the Knights of Kadosh (in the USA and in most cases). I hope you have enjoyed this look into these areas of the AASR symbol. Join us next time as we look at the final areas; the Triangle, the Circle and the St. Andrews Cross!


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The Camp: Part Four - The Remaining Symbols Within

by Midnight Freemason Contributor

Bro. Robert H. Johnson°

It has been a week since we last talked about the AASR's most interesting symbol. The Camp is just about one of the most interesting symbols in all of "mainstream" Freemasonry within the United States. In Part One, we introduced you to the symbol. In Part Two, we talked about the Nonagon and in Part Three, we discussed the Heptagon and the Pentagon.

In this final part in this series we will look at the remaining pieces of this interesting symbol. These remaining parts include; the Triangle, the Circle and the St. Andrews Cross. Let us begin shall we? Notice how we are traveling inward through the steps of this symbol. The Triangle appears just inside the pentagon. Of course the triangle has 3 sides and completes the number sequence started with the nonagon. Yes, that is correct, I am referring to the 3,5,7 and 9. But in this case we are working from the outside in.

The Nonagon - 9 sides.
The Heptagon - 7 sides.
The Pentagon - 5 sides.
The Triangle - 3 Sides.

The triangle in this symbol and in this place allude to a few things. First of all it is representative of the 31st and 32nd degrees in the AASR. These degrees are also known by the names, Inspectors Inquisitor and Masters of the Royal Secret or Faithful Knights of Malta. At each corner of the triangle is a pictograph. These pictures or symbols are of a Dove, a Phoenix and a Raven. You can probably guess at the symbolism there.

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