The word Heredom has been given several interpretations.
A.C.F. Jackson in his History lists three possible origins.

Firstly, from the Latin "Heres domus - heir of the house", which has led some people to discover the word in the eighteenth century dictionaries as a variant form for "heirdom" - the state of being an heir and going further and reading into the word an inheritance of divine origin.

Secondly, from the Greek "hieros domus - holy house", a rendering which speaks for itself.

And thirdly, from the Hebrew "Har Edom - mountain of the earth" and then ranking it with other holy mountains in the Sinai, Moriah and Tabor.
There has long been a legend that there was such a mountain in Scotland near Kilwinning and usually this is associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie in the belief that the degree came with him from France in 1745.
Quiet irrelevant to our Order there is also a Hebrew word "Harodim" meaning Menatchin or overseers and there were in the former times Masonic degrees with this name.
All of these explanations seem fanciful and most of them too far-fetched.

The human mind given persistence and a little imagination, can find plausible explanation for anything.
One might even reconstruct a theory that the letters of the word HEREDOM are merely an anagram for REDHOME, the sanctuary where the Red Book is to be kept.
There is little likelihood that we will ever know who first used the word or its real origin.



We could be quiet happy to regard it as a made-up word, a sort of Tolkien word, suggestive of mystery and magic and romance, and to associate it with other entrancing words of knightly chivalry, like King Arthur's Avalon and his sword Excalibur, or Knight Roland's ivory horn Olivant or his sword Durandai.
The word Heredom has just the right sort of sound and you could imagine Troubadours singing it.

A similar mystique surrounds the knightly order of the Pelican and Eagle.
Although it is true that the words appear together in the same verse of the bible twice - (Leviticus 11.18 and Deuteronomy 14.17), they are only two of some twenty unclean birds which the Israelites in the desert are forbidden to eat, and in any case, the eagle is the gier-eagle or vulture.

The eagle has been the symbol of royal power from the earliest times. The Romans called it the bird of Jupiter and it was borne on their military standards.

An eagle was released from the funeral pyre of a dead Emperor to symbolise the arrival of his soul amongst the gods.
Charlemagne on becoming Emperor in 801 AD is said to have re-adopted the eagle as his badge.
The roman eagle had its head turned to the left.
The two-headed emblem of our Order - often said to represent the division of the Roman Empire into east and West did not appear as the crest of the Holy Roman Emperors until the fifteenth century, about the same time as it was adopted by the Tsars of Russia.

The eagle of our jewel is, of course, the eagle of Exodus 29.4 with its wings extended as if rising in the air.


In christian art this is the symbol of St John the Evangelist, and since he is the Preacher, it often appears on church lecterns. There are many notable examples, perhaps the most famous being that so magnificently sculptured by Nicolo Pisano in the cathedral at Pisa.

Pelican is a Greek word.
Our bird is not the water-bird we know today.
Although our Pelican has a distensible membrane suspended from its lower mandible, it is a desert bird.
In Psalm 7 of the Vulgate (the fourth century Latin version of the Scriptures recognised by the Roman Church as the most authentic and authoritative record of the scriptures) we read "pelicanus solitudinus - a pelican of the wilderness"
This reference appears twice elsewhere in the Vulgate (Isaiah and Zephaniah) but in the Authorised Version of the Bible this was translated as 'cormorant' although a correction was made in the Revised Standard Version in 1885.

The fable of the Pelican feeding its young is probable of Egyptian origin but it comes to us from a fourth century bishop Epiphanius and then from St Augustine as a symbol for redemption.

The pelican in its Piety was taken up as an emblem (or charge) in Heraldry, represented by the bird vulning her own breast, The device became well known and its shape led to strange uses of the word 'pelican', for a curved tabulated vessel for distilling liquors and for a dental instrument with a curved beak for extractions.
It has been used in literature as a figure of speech.

In Shakespear's Richard the Second, old John of Gaunt replies to the King's chiding,

          "That blood already, like the pelican,
          hast thou tapp'd out and drunkenly carous'd"

And in Dante's Paradiso appear even more appropriately are lines which in translation read,

          "This is he that lay on the breast of our pelican,
          he that was chosen from the cross for the great charge."

It is almost as though Dante, recalling John as the beloved disciple who lay on the Master's breast at the Last Supper and to whom the dying Jesus entrusted the care of his mother, had some foresight of our Order in the way he connected St John with the Pelican.

These thoughts were put together in 1990 by V\Ill\Bro Keith Stewart 33° our Grand Librarian as a clinical research of the history of the Name of our Degree.

I hope you found it interesting, and although it does not give any firm answers, it does leave us with some possibilities to consider and some insight into the possible origins of some of the symbols of our rite.




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