Even though we, as Knights of the Pelican and Eagle and Grand Elect Knights Kadosh, no longer wear dress swords as part of our regalia, the sword remains an important implement in our Ancient and Accepted Rite.

At the apex of our order is the ceremonial sword, which accompanies the Sovereign Grand Commander on his visits, whilst at the other end of the scale the candidate takes his obligation with a sword,  joining with the compasses, to bind his hand to the New Testament.

The word ‘sword’ is of Old English origin but swords go much further back in antiquity.
No doubt they derive from stone age daggers and Mycenaen swords have been found with a hilt riveted to the blade.
Swords became distinguished from daggers only when the blade was continued into the hilt as a tang and the blade then could be lengthened and so used for cutting as well as thrusting.

Although swords were used in the times of Homer, they were usually an adjunct to the spear. This was still the practice even in Roman times but by then the sword had already achieved a symbolic significance and had become the ceremonial instrument for honorable departure from life.

We hear Macbeth saying with scorn,

“Why should I play the Roman fool and die on my own sword..”

It was the Vikings who by carbonizing iron blades, converted them into much more formidable weapons, allowing them to conquer territories along the European littoral from Britain to Brittany and as far as Sicily.

Their sword provided the form which lasted a thousand years, with pommel and grip, cross bar and blade.
And with them came the mystique of the sword-maker who in latter centuries, at centres like Solingen and Toledo, gave them  strength and elasticity by repeated reheating and folding layer over layer.
This soon led to the persona of individual swords.

In Mediaeval times the sword became to the mounted knight his distinguishing accouterment of chivalry while his vassals had to fight on foot with pikes and staves.

Some  swords achieved names.

In all legends, the gallant knight had a sword with a name, a sword which was his prized possession.
Sigfried, young hero of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, had several such swords, Balmung and Mimung and Gram ( meaning grief),  but the best known was Nothung ( meaning Needful), the sword which his father Siegmund had been able to draw by strength from the old ash tree and which he later splintered on Wotan’s spear, and after it was repaired by Siegfried it split the anvil and eventually shattered Wotan’s shield.

In the song of Roland, Roland and his peer Oliver perished with the Paladins when ambushed by the Saracens in the pass at Roncesvalles, but only after Roland’s sword Duandal and Oliver’s sword, Hauteclaire (or Glorious) had wrought great havoc.
But they were soon avenged by Charlemagne with his sword Flamberge, the flame cutter.



We all know the romance of Excalibur, the sword drawn from the stone and anvil by Arthur. By this deed acclaiming himself king and on his death and by his command the sword was returned by Bedivere to the Lady of the Lake  as told so beautifully by Tennyson in “The Passing of Arthur”

“ the great brand
Made lightnings in the splendor of the moon
So flash’d and fell the sword Excalibur
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandish’d him
Three times, and drew him under the mere.”

And even in this modern and material age the romance has not vanished.
For in Tolkien’s “ Lord of the Rings” published in the second half of this century, the magic of the sword is still alive.
The Hobbit Frodo’s small sword in called Sting.
Anduril, is the broken sword of Elendil, which was repaired anew by the Elvish smiths for Striker, who turns out to be Aragon, the heir of Elendil who allowed no other hand to touch his sword and this is the sword that wrought such carnage on the terrible Orcs.

Swords became identified with the cross when Knights took up the cause of the church and set forth to recapture the Holy Land and Jerusalem in the Crusades.
The word Crusade itself is derived from the cross.
On the cross bar between the blade and the hilt many a pledge was sworn and sealed with the lips.



To the Knight Templer the sword was not only his weapon but his identification for on his tomb there was no inscription engraved and he was distinguished merely by the outline of his sword chiseled thereon.

Through the centuries swords changed in length and blade design but the greatest change was in transforming the cross by stages into a basket to protect the fingers and then the whole hand. 
In the western countries the blade remained straight but in the eastern world a curved blade was the norm.
It was only for cavalry use since the middle of the 18th century .
When the sword became part of an officer’s uniform and indicated his rank and the branch of the service.
With the passing of single shot fire arms and the development of better rifles the sword fell into disuse although it remained worn for ceremonial purposes.

The symbolism of the sword has survived in the sword of justice and the sword of mercy.
It is still the instrument of state carried before state officials and the instrument used for the accolade.

The sword stands for many things.
Political power as in “the pen is mightier than the sword”
Victory as in ‘discomforted with the edge of the sword”
Destruction as in “fire and sword”
And lastly for peace as opposed to war as in “ they shall beat their swords into plowshares” and reversed by Joel who exhorts his people to “beat your plowshares into swords”




The sword occurs frequently in the Bible, mainly in the Old Testament.
You will remember that God placed an angel with a flaming sword at the entrance to Eden to prevent Adam from reentering after he was driven out of the garden.
There are frequent references to the sword of the Lord, especially by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and on one occasion the Sword of Gideon.

But to us in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite the sword is the Sword of the Spirit, which forms the climax to Paul’s stirring call to the Ephesians to arm.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For ye wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the firey darts of the wicked.



And take the helmet of salvation and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is the word of God.

This sword has even acquired some hereditary characteristic for as
Mr. Valiant–in-truth says in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”

“My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage”.


So may it always be with our Sovereign Grand Commander and his sword, wherever he goes in our rite, and may there always be a succession of candidates bound to us by the sword beneath the compasses.




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