The Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite

Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada

The Ancient and Accepted (and frequently termed ‘Scottish’) Rite is a large collection of philosophical degrees collated into a single progressive rite, with expression internationally. There is much history to the Rite, and much variation within the practice of this across the world.1

Scottish or ‘Eccossais’ Masonry

The first mention of ‘Scotch’ masonry appears to be in 1733. The association between a Scottish origin of this more philosophic and Kabbalistic theme in masonry appears to be based in the Jacobite politics of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and most especially in the masonry that was practiced in France in the first half of the 18th century.2 3 Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsey, a Jacobite exile, tutor to the children of the nobility and royalty, is considered to have been the most instrumental in the early development of this movement, and is believed to be the author of a number of these earliest degrees.4 5 By 1740, Ramsey has developed an initial rite of 7 degrees.6 7 8 It has been suggested that a number were politically motivated against the English, and in support of Roman Catholicism.9 This is a complex historical area of research involving political and theological disagreement, and most especially ideological dissent, and is a subject I can only briefly touch upon here.10

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The Great Dissension (or Schism)

The School of Athens by Raphael (1509–1510), fresco at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.

Address by Wor. Bro. E. J. E. McLagan, member of the Hobart Lodge of Research, 21st. July, 1967.

I now address the issue of the Great Dissension, which occurred in the 18th Century, culminating in Freemasonry in England being divided into two factions bitterly opposed to each other.

These rivals became known as the “Antients” who formed a rival Grand Lodge in 1751, and the “Moderns”, who loyally adhered to the original Grand Lodge constituted in 1717.

Until comparatively recently the “Antients” have been apt to be described as “Seceders” or “Schismatics”, but both terms are quite unjustified seeing that not one of the first dissidents belonged to any lodge under the jurisdiction of the Premier Grand Lodge, and also that their ritual and customs differed scarcely at all from those of their Scottish and Irish Brethren, whose Grand Lodges, as we shall see later, were to recognize the so-called “Antients” as the Grand Lodge of England.

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Almoner

What is an Almoner?

Pieter Thijs - Portrait of an almoner with his wife and children as an allegory of charity
Pieter Thijs – Portrait of an almoner with his wife and children as an allegory of charity

The word “ALMONER” is an officer elected or appointed in the Continental Lodges of Europe to take charge of the contents of the alms-box, to carry into effect the charitable resolutions of the Lodge, and to visit sick and needy brethren. A physician is usually selected in preference to any other member for this office. An Almoner may also be appointed among the officers of an English Lodge. In the United States the officer does not exist, his duties being performed by a Committee of Charity.

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Why “Ancient, Free and Accepted”

Celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry

We are told, in the ceremony of investiture in the first degree, that our order is “more ancient than the G-F- or R-E-“. In actual fact, Freemasonry dates back to time immemorial, and still draws men to it by its fundamental truths.

But when we call ourselves “Ancient, Free and Accepted”, we do not necessarily mean that our order is “old”. Much of our ritual is legendary and the Hiramic legend is not based on historical fact. Actually, it has very little value as a story, since it merely tells of a tragedy which has been repeated in various forms in the long history of mankind. Its true value is de­rived from the lessons which are taught and the moral precepts it contains.

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Amos, What Seest Thou?

In all the Lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana (and many other Grand Jurisdictions) the VOSL is open at the Seventh Chapter of Amos in the FC Degree.

Why do we do this?

Plumbline

This practice is not universal, but ours has the sanctity of long use and sacredness. Also, since one of the working tools of a FC is the Plumb, it is appropriate to open the Bible at the story about the plumb line of God.  What do we really know about this man, the prophet Amos? Do we know why the God called him to deliver His message of judgment to His people of Israel?

Solomon received from his father, David, a powerful empire. During his latter years it began to fall apart. Expensive building projects sapped the strength and loyalty of native Israelites. As the adjoining nations saw the opportunity to assert their independence they did so and Solomon was unable to prevent the disintegration of the empire.

Before Solomon’s death, the Aramaeans had severed themselves from his kingdom, and shortly after the succession by Rehoboam, a further split took place. With this breakdown of the monarchy, subject states declared their independence so that the territory once ruled by David became divided into autonomous units. That portion of Solomon’s empire north of Mount Hermon, extending as far as the Euphrates, revolted and formed the kingdom of Syria, with Damascus as its capital. South of Syria was the kingdom of the ten tribes, known as Israel, or the Northern Kingdom, with its capital at Shechem. The Northern Kingdom included the larger portion of Palestine proper, an area of about 9,400 square miles. The kingdom of Judah included the tribe of that name, a portion of Benjamin, and Simeon, which had been incorporated earlier into Judah. Kings of the Davidic line reigned over Judah until the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon (587 B.C.).

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Advancing to the Altar

Masonic Altar

The first degree lecture tells us that the E- A- degree is intended symbolically to represent the en­trance of man into the world in which he is afterwards to become a living and thinking factor. It is not until the ( ?) receives the second degree lecture that he is told of the second of the two great Ps – one on the left of the en­trance of the T – and one on the right, and he learns of the W-S, consisting of three, five and seven steps.

Symbolically, he leaves the outer world of ignorance and dark­ness when he passes those Ps and begins his Masonic life by ascend­ing the first three steps of the W -So. In all three degrees the (?) is instructed how to advance to the altar. These steps are full of symbolism.

In the first degree, the (?) is in­structed to advance to the altar by three irregular steps of about 15, 12 and 9 inches respectively. Later he is told that these steps were necessarily irregular, he not know­ing where he was going. To the thoughtful Mason, these three steps have great depth of meaning.

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A Charge for the Festival of St. John

The Charge

Brethren; Being this day, by your choice, exalted into the chair, it is the fervent wish of my heart to render myself as little undeserving as possible of this distinguished honour: many important has a Master of the Lodge to perform.

St. John

To give instruction is one: I do not, however, presume upon any special abilities to dictate to my brethren; yet I think it incumbent upon me, whilst I have the honour to sit in this chair, on this and all other occasional festivities, and indeed my office requires it of me, to exhort you to consider the nature of our institution, and to remind you of the duties it prescribes.

These duties are very various and important, and have this day, I doubt not, been expatiated upon in many places by reverend brethren in the solemn Temple.

Our order instructs us in our duty to the great Artificer of the Universe; directs us to behave as becomes the creatures of their Creator; to be satisfied with his dispensations, and always to rely upon Him, whose wisdom cannot mistake our happiness, whose goodness cannot contradict it.

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2016 Lecture – Searching for the Apple Tree: What Happened in 1716?

Prof. Andrew Prescott Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Glasgow Andrew Prescott is Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Glasgow. He is also Theme Leader Fellow for the ‘Digital Transformations’ strategic theme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the major funder of advanced research in the humanities in the UK. Andrew trained as a medieval … Read more

The General Charge as the Ceremony of Installation: The Address to the Brethren

Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario logo

It is possible that some brethren would be interested to know where the ceremony of installation came from.  Most of it is done exactly as it was in England two hundred years ago.  If you were to visit in an English Lodge when the Master is installed, nearly the whole thing would be familiar to you.  There is one notable exception, one piece of ritual that was “made in Canada”, that is the General Charge, or Address or Charge to the Brethren delivered to the Lodge at the conclusion of the ceremony.  I do not know if you have ever listened to it carefully.

It comes at the end of a long evening when you may be tired, and for that reason it is often abbreviated – and rightly so if the work is running late.  In it entirety, it is magnificent and contains the very essence of Masonry.

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The Accepted

Reprinted 27th August, 2004 – CANMAS

Worshipful Company of Freemasons

The development of the “accepted” mason within the Worshipful Company of Freemasons in the City of London is a curious stage in the progression from artisan guild toward voluntary philosophical society. While the paucity of historical records covering this transitional period has encouraged wild conjecture from certain writers, in fact there is sufficient archival information pertaining to Masonic evolution to accurately discuss and assess the significance of the “Accepteds” within the London Company.[i]

The roots of modern Speculative Freemasonry began with the 17th century acception of non-artisan members into the London trade guild, and tracing and assessing this development offers insights into Masonic history.

Although very few contemporary English associations and organizations of the late Reformation period maintained and preserved written archives for posterity, and Masonic records pertaining to the introduction of “accepted masons” is limited, we are fortunate the introduction, or “acception,” of non-operatives into English and Scottish Masonic circles was contemporaneous. We can therefore draw upon Scottish records for certain perspectives into the evolution of Masonry.[ii]

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