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The Golden Fleece

Today in Masonic History we present The Golden Fleece.

The Order of the Golden Fleece is an order of chivalry.

In masonic ritual we speak of the Golden Fleece. It gets compared to the badge of a mason, our white leather aprons and we are told they are more ancient than the Golden Fleece. This can cause confusion since there is more than one Golden Fleece.

The first Golden Fleece comes to us from Greek Mythology. In the story of Jason and the Argonauts, the crew of the Argos, travel to find the Golden Fleece to help put Jason on the throne. Some historians date this story to the time of Homer around the eight century B.C. The idea this is the Golden Fleece actually tracks historically since Solomon's Temple is believed by some estimates to have been created in the 10th century B.C. Making the white leather apron, assuming our ancient brothers were wearing white leather aprons, older by potentially a few hundered years.

The other Golden Fleece is the Order of the Golden Fleece and is more likely the Golden Fleece spoken of in our ritual. The Order of the Golden Fleece was created in 1430 by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy,who is also known as Philip the Good. The order is a Roman Catholic order of chivalry. It still exists today, although it's history compared to Masonic history is what we are concerned with.

Since the order had its beginnings in 1430, it means it was created some 40 years after the Regius Poem, also known as the Haswell Manuscript. In the poem, which is believed to have been written by a monk in 1390, details the events in the court of Athelstan the first King of England. In the poem the rules and regulations are laid out for the behavior of a mason and the manner in which a master run his lodge and his job site. Remember at the time Freemasons were all, as far as we know, operative masons. Even if the Regius poem is a fictitious account of events happening around 900 A.D., based on the content of the Regius Poem, Freemasonry was more than likely already around in 1390. Making the white leather apron older than the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Regardless of which Golden Fleece we are talking about the idea of our ritual is to remind ourselves and teach our new brothers the importance of the item placed in their care. It should remind us every time we enter a lodge to ask ourselves have we treated, by our actions, the ancient emblem with the respect and care it deserves.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.