About the Ritual of the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot
Brother Varick Steele
Masonry and the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot
The ritual of the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot was written by a Mason, Varick Steele, while Bro. Steele was in Germany working as a civilian employee of Radio Free Europe. At the time, Bro. Steele was active in the York Rite of Freemasonry: He served his Chapter as High Priest, his Council as Thrice Illustrious Master, and Commandery as Eminent Commander; he also served as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter, Royal Arch
Masons of Germany. He based the ritual on his historical research on Alexander the Great and focused on Alexander the Great's excursion to Gordium and the loosing of the Gordian Knot. The chief lesson of this degree was to demonstrate the inherent unity of all regular Masons, whether they belong to the York Rite, Scottish Rite, Swedish Rite or other obedience, in all their walks of life and in all nations of the world.
The first Synod instituted was located in Munich, with a membership drawn largely from Master Masons serving in the American military. Thereafter, the Order expanded to at least five other German cities, including: Babylon Synod No. 2, Spangdahlem; Tower Synod No. 8 at Kitzingen; Calvary Synod No. 11, Stuttgart; Palladio Synod No. 12 (city unknown).
There is currently an active Synod in the United States at Greenfield Indiana at Hancock Lodge No. 101: As reported by Bro. Lloyd Atterson, as of 2017 the Synod at Indianapolis had 293 members and was conferring the Order twice a year.
Early in the Order's existence, a Mason from Hollywood, California, Bro. John J. Snyder, who was a personal friend of the founder, received the degree while visiting Munich, Germany.
Bro. Snyder went on to establish a Synod in Hollywood, CA on his return: No further information concerning this Hollywood, California Synod's history are available. Bro. Miles Lupien received the degree and went on to establish a Synod in Dharan, Saudi Arabia: Bro. Varick Steele was flown from Germany to preside at the institution of the Dharan Synod. By 1989 total membership in the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot numbered about 1000.
Pursuant to the Constitution of the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot, at least four Masons who are either Knights Templar or Masters of the Royal Secret (32°), A.·.A.·.S.·.R.·., are required to institute the Synod. Once constituted, the Synod may confer the degree on any Master Mason who is in good standing and from a just and regularly constituted Lodge for a sum not less than $10: The fee entitles the Companion to life membership in the Order. Fees are used to pay the Synod's expenses (essentially the obligatory "feast" following a communication of the Order). Paraphernalia is minimal: A representation of an Ankh and a representation of an ox bow and the Gordian Knot. There are only four officers of the Synod who perform the degree of the Order. These four officers are: Supernal Imperator Alexander, Exalted Suzerain Parmenion, Imperial Exarch Ariston and the Inexorable Inquisitor. The Synod's officers have no other duty except the performance of the ritual. A Synod only meets to perform the ritual.
The Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot remains a fascinating repository of ancient history united with a compelling ritual of moral import. As public attention will undoubtedly soon turn to Baz Luhrman and Oliver Stone's film adaptations of Alexander the Great, Freemasons should be prepared to answer questions that will undoubtedly arise regarding the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot. Perhaps some will be so inquisitive as to seek membership in our fraternity to learn what Masonry can teach regarding Alexander the Great.
We are indebted to Varick Steele for supplying historical information relative to the Ancient and Heroic Order of the Gordian Knot and recollections about the Order's formative years.