Who was Albert Pike?
Albert Pike was one of the most astonishing men of the 19th century. He was an explorer, and one of the first anglos in the area later to become New Mexico. He was a linguist, comfortable with dozens of languages, including not only Latin and Greek, but Sanskrit, Hebrew, and the ancient Mediterranean languages and the languages of several Indian tribes. He was a lawyer of renown, having translated the Latin law books of Louisiana French law into English. His written commentaries on them remain standard works today. He was a member of the bar of the Supreme Court, and prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, he was reportedly under consideration by President Lincoln for appointment to the Supreme Court.
He was a teacher, a newspaper editor and publisher, and a poet with national reputation. His friend, Edgar Allen Poe, is said to have referred to Pike as the “best poet in America.”
As if that were not enough, his friends referred to him as “the handsomest man alive, a crack shot, and a good man in a fight.”
During his lifetime, his memory was famous. It is said that he never forgot a person that he had met or a thing that happened to him. While that is not quite literally true, researchers following the trails he described, found his memory for distances, geographical features, and events verifiable from other sources to have been accurate after a lapse of more than forty years.
This was the man who was destined to become one of the great Scottish Rite scholars of his, or any, time. He became Sovereign Grand Commander of the Rite in 1859, a very few years after joining the Rite, and he was immediately faced with a task which challenged even his intellect and resources.
Pike found the Scottish Rite in need of improvement. Many of the degrees had no associations; the meanings of many of the symbols had been lost; and there was no order or pattern to the work.
Pike undertook the task of completely revising the Ritual and structure of the Scottish Rite. He studied hundreds of Degrees, stripped away the clutter which the years had accumulated around the Work, and emerged with a pure and shining work which was to be adopted around the world.
He infused the Work with a deep sense of philosophy which makes it the study of a lifetime, yet retained its essential humanness and power. The Work you will see in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is Albert Pike’s legacy to you.