Ancient Free Moorish Rite Online

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About The Illustrious Dr. Clifford E. Hazel Bey 33/97°

It seems history has always shown us that whenever and wherever people are on the verge of peril and in need of a champion to fight their cause, nature provides that specific champion, that special person. History also informs us when such person emerges, it is often within the throes of conflict, when, in most cases, two forces of like ilk clash without compromise. And the champion brings the two together, unites them, to represent one direction and one purpose. We see Hermes the Thrice Wise (Ancient Egypt) witnessing two serpents fiercely embattled in the sands. Wisely placing the stem of his staff in the midst of these embattled creatures, each coiled up on opposite sides of the staff and reconciled at the summit. Today, the symbol of that action (caduceus) signifies healing.
We see President Abraham Lincoln calmly but agonizingly observing two brothers engaged in a bitter war over their mutual enslavement of a third brother. Lincoln placed the land, held sacred by the two, in the midst of them and made them know the destiny of all three were one. And that land, cherished by the two and cultivated by one, was one for all to dwell and prosper. The two brothers recognized the greater over the lesser, set free the third brother, and solved the bitter conflict. Did Lincoln save the union? Yes, and much more; for a greater good prevailed. A young nation's humanity was saved and it's future secured as a result. Time and again, we witness this miracle of the human spirit and marvel at the divine intervention it demonstrates.

Again, we have have been called to witness. In the early 90's America's urban Freemasonic demographic comprised, for the most part, elderly men, well established socially, economically, fraternally and religiously. They were the veritable backbone of Freemasonic existence in select communities and represented an immovable and stubborn force within certain Freemasonic jurisdictions. These incumbents seemed stiffly opposed to change or new ideas. For them, everything concerning Freemasonry was etched in stone. By this time, however, Freemasonry had fallen on lean times (international and global membership steadily decreased) and its scintillating reputation as a powerful philanthropic organization, essential to the well being of society, was badly tarnished. Some lodges took initiatives to implement new forms of
recruitment, and even circulated propaganda to offset a wave of negative propaganda about the institution.
While some people saw a storied organization resting entirely on its age-old laurels, most considered Freemasonry a dinosaur of the past, its heyday bygone, a dying species unable to survive in the New World. Clearly, Freemasonry struggled for its last breath in the alien atmosphere heralding the new millennium. Or so it would seem. Some (engaging the most advanced minds) may argue if the dinosaur ever existed, and remain on separate sides of the coin. Not so with Freemasonry. And to be sure, survival is the first law of Freemasonry.

    As Freemasonry struggled with its diminished presence on the national stage, in urban communities, however, a new kind of candidate knocked on the lodge door. The new candidate realized society had shut him out on the basis of his social conditions, not his character.
   Despaired with society's social, religious, racial and economic disparities, he looked to Freemasonry for hope--and solutions. He remembered his childhood and how his dad, grandpa, uncle, barber, and preacher used to whisper about a strange and mysterious society called the Freemasons. He remembered the rings they wore, and the black suits they donned during the week, not only Sunday mornings. He remembered the pages of a dusty book in the basement he curiously took peeps at when he knew he wouldn't get caught. He recalled that despite its mysteriousness, there was supposed to be something very good about Freemasonry. Something quite inclusive and yet affluent.

    The new candidate rejoiced as the doors of Freemasonry opened for him; but he lamented when he found not everyone within rejoiced with him. Many of the "Old-timers" blatantly rejected him; for this new wave of Freemasons were young, excited, energetic urban titans with revolutionary ideas for Freemasonry. They felt Freemasonry needed to catch up with modern times; that the older brethren were good men but, set in their ways, were unwilling to acknowledge and genuinely embrace fresh blood. The "Old-timers" were not necessarily wrong; they just didn't feel they needed to "right" an already "good thing" to turn it bad. They resented young bucks coming into their lodges thinking to fix something that didn't need fixing. But a fixing was wanting. And a healing was inevitable.

   Younger Freemasons turned away and were also chased away. Older Freemasons tightened their grips on the scepters of authority and stood poised to defend Freemasonry as they saw it. The younger brethren, feeling that older brethren stood in the way of needed progress and new ideas, yearned for a real "Master," an older brother with real power to hear them, see them, embrace them. A quiet but obvious dichotomy and chaos ruled. The very existence of Freemasonry in inner-city communities dangled in the balance of two tenacious forces... and into this divide, stepped Bro. Clifford E. Hazel Bey (a seasoned Freemason with over 30 years experience and "real" authority). Conflicts were settled, problems were resolved, handshakes were exchanged, dialogue flowed peacefully, and from chaos came order. And ah, yes; the Moorish Rite was established. And whether you know it or not, Freemasonry in America's inner-cities has never been the same, and never will be. Those days are behind us, and good days pave the road before us.

A Man Cut From The Cloth of Prophets of Old

   He was the kind of leader that never desired to halt anybody's shine; he only desired to help everybody shine. It was late evening and quite frigid one evening in Baltimore, and we were both tired and road weary immersed on the living-room coach like two ships derelict on the ocean. In the kitchen, Sister Bessie gingerly prepared hot tea and Boston cream pie (her favorite) for us. We had just gotten back from a four day religious/spiritual conference in Ocean City, Maryland, where to say the least, Brother Hazel Bey literally stole the show, and blew my mind in the process.

   I really didn't know quite what to expect from the conference, only that we would be meeting with some "big" people there, he had told me. But when we arrived at the conference four days earlier, I noted from the door many "famous" people; you know, namely those TV evangelists (of all races) we see flaunting their oratory muscles at us on Sunday mornings. Then there were noted professors of religion and the social sciences, scholars, authors, a handful of politicians, and a host of lesser known preachers and clergy men and women. And there were Freemasons. I'd say altogether around 300 people converged on that conference center for those four days; they'd come from all over the country and around the world. This was something very special! I was impressed, to say the least. And I felt special to be there myself.

    As Brother Hazel and I checked our bags in the lobby, I said, "Hey, Dad, there's a lot of people here...I see a lot of faces I recognize."

   Hazel Bey just smiled at me and said, "Well, I see the El Dey is here too." He flattered me; he had a way of doing that.

   In my own excitement, I then said, "I didn't know this event was going to be like thi...,"

   But just then an exalted chorus of "Dr. Hazel...Dr. Hazel!," rang to suffocate my words.

    People (some of the notables) came from within the walls it seemed to greet and hug, and kiss, and bow (yes, bow), and shine on Dr. Hazel; and I am not kidding when I say that they behaved as if God (or some celebrated deity) had just arrived, encircling him as he were a living shrine. A hallowed spectacle to be sure. This was something unlike what celebrities enjoy.

    A gentleman first class, he excused himself to introduce me, and everyone shook hands with me as well, and some even hugged me to exchange pleasantries. Then returning their joys and attentions to Dr. Hazel, their faces aglow like children poised for ice cream and cake, they all but smothered him. And a few referred to him simply as "Cliff." Then more "Dr. Hazel" or "Bishop Hazel" choruses rang this time from the atrium above, faces beaming and people teeming. They flowed into the lobby in seconds it seemed, bright-eyed and bouncy. I thought we'd never make it to our room where we could share further discussion over a book he carried with him about the hidden years of the Knights Templar. But I had a suspicion that wouldn't mean anything anyway... everybody was trying to get at "Dr. Hazel."

   And speaking of thinking, by this time I probably did very little of that because my mind was blown. I mean, I knew he was Dr. Hazel, but I didn't know he was this "Dr. Hazel." And of course, from day one I'd always recognized and revered his special aura, his halo, but now it loomed larger, massive even.

  Later, finally somewhat relaxed at our room, and betwixt the intermittent knocking on the door and  calls of "Dr. Hazel... Dr. Hazel" from without the door, he explained to me that some of the people I saw and recognized had been classmates or lodge brothers or sisters, and many had even been clients at one time or another. I mentioned one particular notable personality and he said, "I was there when he built his church from scratch, brick by brick; In fact, I laid the first brick and later offered the first prayer when the doors opened. I also designed the church altar. Yeah, he's a good man, I raised him a little over twenty years ago in Saint Thomas lodge."

   He then shared a few engaging stories about some of the others: I leaned in just a little, listened a lot, laughed just a little, and learned a whole lot.

   Now it's the final day of the conference, and the Dr. Hazel frenzy and fan-fare hasn't let up; in fact, this day it has spiked up like a windstorm on the ocean. After all...this was Ocean City. Earlier around 6am that day, a rather calm knock on our room door startled us both, simply because it was calm. It was the gentleman scheduled to give the conference keynote address in the afternoon. I recognized him immediately. He'd come to ask Brother Hazel if he cared to carry the keynote that afternoon. Moreover, he expressed that he (and a host of others) had decided that Brother Hazel would be the better and perfect choice. He said, "I was gonna dazzle em today, but I'd rather learn from you."

   Brother Hazel returned, "Well, I wanna be dazzled too; I appreciate the gesture, and I'm highly honored; but no, I'll be fine, all is well. I'm looking forward to your address this afternoon."

   When the gentleman left the room, I was like a little kid, "Dad-you-should-do-it...Dad-you-should-do-it!"

   Brother Hazel returned, No, Son; you never take away anyone's shine, anyone's light...even if they offer it to you. We never, ever accept it, as long they are themselves capable. He's the Keynote, and that's his shine today. I'm honored that he honored me to ask me; but If I were to accept, I'd be no better than one of the ruffians. You're gonna enjoy him; I taught him!"

   And enjoy him I did.

Back to the Boston cream pie: it complemented the hot tea quite nicely. Both were also soothing, for I was still excited albeit tired. I noticed that Brother Hazel drank his tea quickly but hardly touched the pie. He took a large red leather bound book from beneath his sitting chair, opened it, showed the page to me, smiled, and said, "All is well. Now let's talk about the Moorish Rite."

In his memory, we commend Clifford E. Hazel Bey Lodge N0.1 (Fayetteville, NC), the first Moorish Rite lodge named in his honor, and other Moorish Rite lodges currently in the forming also poised to bear the name of Dr. Clifford E. Hazel Bey.


Dr. Clifford E. Hazel Bey 33/97° is the Most  Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of the
Supreme Council Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern and Western hemisphere, Inc. He is the inspiration behind the emergence of the Moorish Rite.
Look for an upcoming book by Aalim El Dey about this remarkable Freemason.