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Decoding the Ast Ritual

When I stumbled upon the page about the Ast Ritual at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, I immediately wanted to know more and started decoding it.

Ast ritual


;Ast SC PE's L.

1. FM whce cm u ]oviz[ sa na PE ]gmz[ 2. fm ]gp[ e g f h st
jn t j ]mqz[ rsa ]pq[ lm 5 wt cm u hr o d ]mpq[ 8 o lrn o sbdu
ym psns nd mprv flsm n ysm 3 tn u r a ]vs[ n i prsm 4 i m os
tkn nd cptd mg brs nd swlf 7 hw d u no urslf ]pinz[ o b a n S
y hvg bn ftn trd ]ema[ nv dnd nd m wlng o b trd gn 3 wt mks
u a n 2 ym obn 1 hw shl i no u o b a n 4 y a ertn sn nkt drw
nd e prft stnp f ym ntnc 1 wt r sns 2 rt slgna, sltnzrh, nd
srlednprp . 3 pls o gv em e sn f n Pe . (rss nd gvs t) S hs tt ny
llsn . 4 t hs o e ytnp f ym obn tt i wd rthr hv ym | ct ssrca fm
re o re thn o rvl e stres f erf ysm nl ]qmp[ fly . 5 wt s a nkt
6 a crtn fndly r ]emz[ bry prg wrb ;a br yam no nthr n e krd
sa wl sa n e xl . 7 pls o gv ur lft dnh br e nkt nd prg f n pe
(ty rs nd gv t) A gvs B e prg. B sys wt s tt A i liah B i cncl
A. wt d u cncl B l stres f ns n ysm xet t shl b nt a urt nd l
]nmz[ fl br r wn e ydb f a tsj nd l ]pmq[ fl g f sch A wt s tt
cld B a prg A prg f wt B Pe A hs t a nm. B t hs A wl u pls
o gv t o em B i dd ut os rev t nthr en i os mpt t A hw wl u
dsps f t B i wl rettl r vhl t wh u A u wl pls o rettl t B . nigb
A u nigb f u pls (eton A gvs fast rettl Be ;e B poncs e drw) A
t s rt i grt u br * 1. whr wr u fast prpd o b md a n 2 n ym trh
S whr ;endy 4 n a moor djet o e g 5 hw wr u prpd 6 y bng
dvsd f l slrnm nd sltm nhr dkn nr clhd bt nr † ‡ wh a ¶ abt ym
ken n whh stn i ws cn ]vizh[ dctd o e dr f e g y e hd f a frnd
wm i ftrds fnd o b a br 7 hw dd u no t o b a dr bng ‡ 8 y fast
mtng wh rstnc nd ftrwds gng dmssn 9. hw gnd u dmssn 2 y ;i
dstnt skonk 3 wt ws sd o u fm wn 4 wo cms thr 9 ur nsr 2 n
roop dnlb cn ]amz[ ddt wo hs gnl bn dsrs f bng brt tuo f drkn
o xl o hv nd rev a trp f e rts nd bnfts f ts wRt g retd o § nd
ddctd o h st jn sa ynm brs nd swllf hv dn bfr em 1 wt mr wr
u skd 4 f i cm f ym wn fr wl nd crd f i ws dly nd trly prprd
yhtrw nd wl dflq f lwfl ega nd prpy dhcva fr 1 whh bng nsrd
u e vtrff i ws skd y wt rhtrf rt r bnft i xpcd o gn dmsn 7 ur
nsr 8 y bng a mn erf brn f gd rprt nd wl remd 9 wt flwd 2 i
ws rqsd o wt a tm wh ptnc ntl e wrt rm cd b nf ]qpt[ rmd f
ym rq ]azp[ st nd s nrs rtd . 1 wt ws hs nsr wn rtd 4 . lt mh
ntr . S hw dd u ntr 6. no e pt f a prhs nst ]enw[ rmt preg ym
dkn lft tsrb 5 whr wr u tn cn ]prz[ dctd 8 o e cnr f e g whr i
ws csd o lnk nd rev e tfnb f a ryrp (rm gvs ;i skonk 1 rs) i wl
thnk u o rpt e ryrp “ veh ]qmz[ thu dia” (es Mnr) 1. ftr revg


First Section Entered Apprentice's Lecture.

1. FROM whence came you ]oviz[ as an Entered Apprentice ]gmz[ 2. From ]gp[ the Lodge of Holy Saint
John at Je ]mqz[ rusa ]pq[ lem 5 What came you here to do ]mpq[ 8 To learn to subdue
my passions and improve myself in Masonry 3 Then you are a ]vs[ Mason I presume 4 I am so
taken and accepted among brothers and fellows 7 How do you know yourself ]pinz[ to be a Mason S
By having been often tried ]ema[ never denied and am willing to be tried again 3 What makes
you a Mason 2 My obligation 1 How shall I know you to be a Mason 4 By a certain signs token word
and the perfect points of my entrance 1 What are signs 2 Right angles, horizontals, and
perpendiculars . 3 Please to give me the signs of Mason Entered Apprentice . (rises and gives it) S Has that any
allusion . 4 It has to the penalty of my obligation that I would rather have my throat cut across from
ear to ear than to reveal the secrets of free Masonry unlaw ]qmp[ fully . 5 What is a token
6 A certain friendly or ]emz[ brotherly grip whereby one brother may know another in the dark
as well as in the light . 7 Please to give your left hand brother the token and grip of an Entered Apprentice
(ty rise and give it) A gives B the grip. B says what is that A I hail B I conceal
A. What do you conceal B All secrets of Masons in Masonry except it shall be to a true and law
]nmz[ ful brother or within the body of a just and law ]pmq[ ful Lodge of such A What is that
cld B A grip A Grip of what B Entered Apprentice A Has it a name. B It has A Will you please
to give it to me B I did not so receive it neither then I so impart it A How will you
dispose of it B I will letter or halve it with you A You will please to letter it B . Begin
A You begin if you please (note A gives first letter Be two B pronounces the word) A
It is right I greet you brother * 1. Where were you first prepared to be made a Mason 2 In my heart
S Where secondly 4 In a room adjacent to the Lodge 5 How were you prepared 6 By being
divested of all minerals and metals neither naked nor clothed barefoot nor shod hoodwinked with a cable-tow about my
neck in which situation I was con ]vizh[ ducted to the door of the Lodge by the hand of a friend
whom I afterward found to be a brother 7 How did you know it to be a door being hoodwinked 8 By first
meeting with resistance and afterwards gaining admission 9. How gained you admission 2 By three
distinct knocks 3 What was said to you from within 4 Who comes there 9 Your answer 2 A
poor blind can ]amz[ didate who has long been desirous of being brought out of darkness
to light to have and receive a part of the rights and benefits of this Worshipful Lodge erected to God and
dedicated to Holy Saint John as many brothers and fellows have done before me 1 What more were
you asked 4 If I came of my own free will and accord if I was duly and truly prepared
worthy and well qualified of lawful age and properly vouched for 1 Which being answered
you the affirmative I was asked by what further right or benefit I expected to again admission 7 Your
answer 8 By being a man free born of good repute and well recommended 9 What followed 2 I
was requested to wait a time with patience until the Worshipful Master could be inf ]qpt[ ormed of
my reque ]azp[ st and his answer returned . 1 What was his answer when returned 4 . Let him
enter . S How did you enter 6. On the point of a sharp inst ]enw[ rument pressing my
naked left breast 5 Where were you then con ]prz[ ducted 8 To the centre of the Lodge where I
was caused to kneel and receive the benefit of a prayer (Master gives three knocks 1 rs) I will
thank you to repeat the prayer “ veh ]qmz[ thu dia(es Mnr) 1. ftr revg

The ritual is written in a kind of shorthand with some twists. The square brackets and letters between them look like null ciphers, and some words are not easy to guess. Words written in italic should be read backwards. I like the use of special symbols (¶=cable-tow, §=God), and the numbering system, which I interpret as ; followed by a vowel such that a=1, e=2, and i=3 (and o=4?). I don't understand why one word has a capital letter in the middle: wRt (worshipful).

It's also interesting to see how similar this shorthand from 1822 is to modern SMS language: "hw d u no urslf".

Tags: cipher, Masonic Tablet

Created on Tue, 27 Mar 2012 21:42

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