Black, in the Masonic ritua1, is constantly the symbol of grief. This is perfectly consistent with its use in the world, where black has from remote antiquity been adopted as the garment of mourning.
In Freemasonry this color is confined to but a few degrees, but everywhere has the single meaning of sorrow. Thus in the French Rite, during the ceremony of raising a candidate to the Master's Degree, the Lodge is clothed in black strewed with the representations of tears, as a token of grief for the loss of a distinguished member of the fraternity, whose tragic history is commemorated in that degree. This usage is not, however, observed in the York Rite. The black of the Elected Knights of Nine, the Illustrious Elect of Fifteen, and the Sublime Knights Elected, in the Scottish Rite, has a similar import.
Black appears to have been adopted in the degree of Noachite, as a symbol of grief, tempered with humility, which is the virtue principally dilated on in the ceremony.
The garments of the Knights Templar were originally white, but after the death of their martyred Grand Master, James DeMolay, the modern Knights assumed a black dress as a token of grief for his loss.
The same reason led to the adoption of black as the appropriate color in the Scottish Rite of the Knights of Kadosh and the Sublime Princes of the Roya1 Secret.
The modern American modification of the Templar costume abandons all reference to this historical fact.
One exception to this symbolism of black is to be found in the degree of Select Master, where the vestments are of black bordered with red, the combination of the two colors showing that the degree is properly placed between the Royal Arch and Templar degrees, while the black is a symbol of silence and secrecy, the distinguishing virtues of a Select Master.
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