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
The Rite of Perfection and Etienne Morin
Etienne (or more frequently known by non-Francophones as Stephen) Morin was a French merchant, most likely having been born in Martinique. He had been received into the Loge Parfait Harmonie in Bordeaux, subsequently presided over it, and had received the Parfait Elu Ecossais degree in the West Indies in 1744.11 12 In 1754, in Paris, a Chapter of Clermont was established by the Chevalier de Bonneville, responsible for 7 degrees of the nascent Rite.13 It has been stated that the Chapter of Clermont was closely aligned to the Rite of the Strict Observance of 1743, which by 1758 had become the Council of the Emperors of the East and West, inheriting not only the degrees of the Clermont Chapter, and the Scottish Kilwinning and Heredom lines, but also Templar and Rosicrucian influences.14 This Chapter subsequently expanded into a primitive rite of 25 degrees by 1760.15
In addition to these degrees, it is valuable to note that the Royal Master and Select Master of the modern Cryptic Rite were also components of the early Rite and were validly controlled by Morin at this point in time under separate charter.16
Morin, who in 1761 had received a patent in Bordeaux from the council of Emperors of the East and West to take the newly formed Rite to the West Indies,17 and arriving in Santo Domingo in 1763,18 subsequently appointed Henry Francken19 as a Deputy lnspector.20 Francken wrote two manuscripts,21 which became foundation documents for what was to follow.22 The 19th through 30° degrees of the Rite have a strong French flavor, and are presumed to have been created in France in the latter part of the 18th Century.23
Morin and Francken developed their Rite of 25 degrees between 1763 and 1766.24 25 Upon Morin’s death in 1771, Francken took control of the developing rite.26
The 18° of the Rite, termed the Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Prince Rose-Croix of Heredom, is an exceptionally special and beautiful degree.27 28 This degree was almost certainly compiled by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, a member of the Order of the Elu Goens of Martines de Pasqually. This degree has a very strong Martinist sub-text and, due to Willermoz, a definite link to the Rite Ecossais Rectife, the rectification of the Rite of Strict Observance of Baron von Hund.29 This is a very strongly Christian degree, and the content therein was referred to obliquely by HenryCornelius Agrippa, in the first half of the 16th Century.30
The degree known as the Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, first appearing in 1761, was the highest of the Rite of Perfection, but in time became the 32° of the newly formed Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.31
During this period, there was significant cross-pollination between different rites and orders, the parallels between the degrees of Intimate Secretary, Select Master (of the Cryptic Rite), and Grand Tilers of Solomon (AMO) have already been alluded to in a prior paper.32 Further, the degrees of Knight of the East or Sword, Prince of Jerusalem, and Knight of the East and West, the 15-17° of the Rite bear very strong similarity to the degree of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross (Knights Templar – North America) and the Red Cross of Babylon (AMO UK), and also those of the Knight Masons of Irish origin.33 The 18° of the Rite was conferred within Knight Templar encampments from approximately 1775 onwards, as a ne plus ultra degree, and became formally incorporated into the Rite of Baldwyn at Bristol, who maintain a concordat with the Supreme Council for the Ancient and Accepted Rite of England and Wales, uniquely permitting them to confer this degree.34 The Rite of Baldwyn is a fascinating syncretic system, tying together as it does a number of earlier versions of Capitular, Templar and Rosicrucian degrees, originating in both Ireland and France. Bristol was a major seaport in the 18th and 19th centuries, and as masonry was very heavily apparent within the merchant classes, the interchange of ideas and degrees between three different expressions of masonry was remarkable.
First Supreme Council and Further Developments
The Marquis de Tilly and Jean-Baptiste Delahogue, two related French merchants and members of the Rite, escaping the French Revolution, relocated initially to Santo Domingo. Due to rebellion in the Colonies, they shortly after relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, as refugees.35
In 1801, in Charleston, the first Supreme Council was established.36 The Supreme Council claimed possession of the 25 degrees of Morin’s Rite, and a further 8 degrees.37 Justifying this new body, the patronage and influence of Frederick 11, King of Prussia, was invoked and utilised as authority, and further, included in the original ritual of the 33°.38
In 1804, Tilly re-imported the Rite back into France.39 In 1813, a Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction, was established in Lexington, Massachusetts.40 Despite an unsuccessful earlier attempt in 1818, a charter was granted to the United Kingdom in 1845, by the Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction of Dr. Robert Crucefix.41 42
Albert Pike received the 4-32° in March 1853 from Albert Mackey in South Carolina, and rose to rapid seniority within the Rite.43 As a result of his devotion to the AASR, his work on revising the rituals, and his promulgation, the Rite flourished in the United States in the latter half of the 19th century. One of his most lauded achievements was the publication in 1871 of Morals and Dogma, a collection of 32 profoundly insightful essays upon the meaning and relevance of each degree within the Rite.44 In 1870, Pike moved the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction to Washington, where it remains based.
The rites of Cerneau, Misraim, and Memphis, were contemporaneous with the development of the Rite of Perfection and the AASR and will be discussed in a future paper in detail.
The AASR in Canada
The AASR in Canada derives from the Supreme Council of the Rite for England and Wales, with the charter granted in 1874.45 46 However, the practice of the Rite in Canada bears more similarity to the practices of the Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction, rather than that of the UK.47 It is the largest single Appendant body in Canada, with a membership of approximately 12,500.
The Rite is controlled by the Supreme Council, traditionally numbering 33 members, but due to certain factors, this has a membership of between 35 and 38 members.48 The Rite is structured into three separate bodies, each with responsibility for specific grades, and a full complement of officers and structure. An individual unit of the Rite is termed a Valley, which may possess one, two, or all three of the subordinate bodies. There are 44 Valleys in Canada, with Ontario and British Columbia possessing the majority of these49 Degrees.
The degree names and ordering do vary between different Supreme Councils and jurisdictions, but within Canada, the following degrees are conferred:50
4° Secret Master
5° Perfect Master
6° Intimate Secretary
7° Provost and Judge
8° Intendant of the Building
9° Elect of the Nine
10° Elect of the Fifteen
11 ° Elect of the Twelve
12° Grand Master Architect
13° Royal Arch of Solomon
14° Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Mason
15° Knight of the East or Sword
16° Prince of Jerusalem
17° Knight of the East and West
18° Knight Rose Croix
19° Grand Pontiff
20° Master ad Vitam
21° Patriarch Noachite
22° Prince of Libanus
23° Chief of the Tabernacle
24° Prince of the Tabernacle
25° Knight of the Brazen Serpent
26° Prince of Mercy
27° Commander of the Temple
28° Knight of the Sun
29° Knight of St. Andrew
30° Knight Kadosh
31 ° Inspector Inquisitor Commander
32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
33° (Sovereign Grand) Inspector General
Whilst the AASR possesses the first 3 degrees of Craft masonry, these are not worked within any recognised or regular iteration of the Rite, due to a historical agreement between the Craft Grand Lodges and the early Supreme Councils.51 The original versions of these Craft degrees however still exist, and are notable for their early and highly continental flavour and depth of symbolism not seen within the modern expressions of the symbolic degrees.52 53
The subordinate bodies are the Lodge of Perfection (responsible for degrees 4-14°), the Chapter of Rose Croix (conferring the 15-18°), and the Consistory (responsible for the 19-32°).54 The Lodge of Perfection concentrates on expanding the teaching upon the symbolic degrees, and concluding the legend of the Master Mason degree; the Chapter on the rebuilding of the Temple, and the introduction of Christian ethics; and the Consistory on developing chivalric values and further ethical considerations,55 and the philosophical interpretation of the masonic system.56 57
The degrees which must be received in full without exception are the 4th, 5th, 7th, 13th, and 14th, within the Lodge of Perfection; the 15th and 18th in the Chapter; and the 30th, 31st, and 32nd in the Consistory.58 All mandatory degrees must be received prior to the member being permitted to access the next body of the Rite. Typically, these must be received in numerical order, although rarely they can be received out of sequence.59
Many Valleys will confer individual degrees at specific scheduled meetings through the year, but due to issues of geography and difficulty in travel, a Reunion may be held, in which several degrees are conferred over the period of 1-2 days.
There are not only full rituals for each degree, but also lengthy lectures and allegories attached to each, and many Valleys will confer certain of the optional degrees, or give allocutions on the subjects contained therein, as they deem appropriate. The degrees are often lavish productions, requiring much costume and props, and a cast of regular officers. Befitting the importance of the Rite, all ritual is given from memory.60
Due to the strong links developed by Albert Pike (the first Provincial Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland in the USA),61 the AASR has very close connections with the Royal Order of Scotland, of which in the majority of Canadian Provinces, membership is drawn specifically from those holding the 33°.62
Membership with the AASR of Canada is open to all Master Masons in good standing; there is no requirement to profess the Christian faith.63 Access to all degrees up to the 32° is a right, provided that the qualifications are met. There is no requirement to take office within any body.64
The Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation,65 established in 1964, focusses upon the Puzzles of the Mind, with charitable giving in areas such as autism, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and Dyslexia, and makes annual donations of $4-800,000.66 67
Befitting such a rite of so many degrees, there is regalia for each and every degree, most of which are exceptionally beautiful and symbolic. However, practically speaking, there is a breast jewel for membership of the Rite, designed to be worn in Craft meetings; specific aprons, sashes or collars for the 14th, 18th, 32nd, and 33rd degrees; and jewels for the past masters of each of the three bodies, as well as regalia specific to the Supreme Council officers.68 Additionally, rings may be worn, denoting receipt of the 14th, 32nd, and 33rd degrees.
1 Jackson, K. Beyond the Craft. Ged. Lewis Masonic. 2012.
2 McGregor M.I.A. Biographical Sketch of Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay. Pietre-Stones. 2007. http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/ramsay_biography_oration.html
3 Schuchard M. James VII and II and the Jacobite-Masonic Diaspora 1685-91. In: Masonic rivalries and literary politics: from Jonathan Swift to Henry Fielding. 2018. https://www.academia.edu/38169805/FM-CH.la.docx – James VII and II and the Jacobite-Masonic Diaspora 1685-1691
4 Fletcher, M.D.A. The Intruder in the Crypt. The Architect 2020.
6 McGregor. Op. cit.
7 It has been posited that Ramsey was the author of only the first 3 of the degrees contained within this initial rite. c.f Fletcher: Intruder in the Crypt, and McGregor: A biographical Sketch, for more detail.
8 Fletcher. Op. cit.
9 McGregor. Op. cit.
10 Wynants, E. The True History of Scottish Esoteric Masonry. 2014. http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/apendent_bodies/scottiest/the_true_history_scottish_esoteric_masonry.htm
11 Cryer, N.B. Delving further beyond the Craft. Lewis Masonic. 2009.
12 Clausen, H.C. Commentaries on Morals and Dogma. Charleston. 1974.
14 Leadbeater, C.W. Ancient Mystic Rites. Quest. 1986.
15 Warvelle, G.W. The Cryptic Rite; an Address. Chicago. 1892.
16 Fletcher. Op. cit. 17 Jackson. Op. cit. 18 Clausen. Op. cit.
19 1720-1795, of Dutch origin. Assistant Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Port Royal, Jamaica.
20 Bridge GEW. Ancient and Accepted Rite. The intermediate Degrees 1-17°. Privately published. 1960.
21 1771 and 1783 respectively.
22 Bridge. Op. cit.
23 Bridge, G.E.W. Ancient and Accepted Rite. The intermediate Degrees 19-30°.Privately published. 1982.
24 Cryer. Op. cit.
26 Cryer. Op. cit.
27 Stayt, M. The Rungs of the Ladder. Flying Dragon, Glamorgan. 1999.
28 Itself with strong associations with the Royal Order of Scotland: Newell BE. Royal Order of Scotland. 2012. https://www.travelingtemplar.com/2012/07/royal-order-of-scotland.html
29 Fletcher, M.D.A. The Rectified Scottish rite ofWillermoz. The Architect, 2017.
30 Denslow, R.V. Masonic Rites and Degrees. Kessinger. 1955.
31 Cryer, N.B. Op. cit.
32 Fletcher. The Intruder in the Crypt. Op. cit.
33 Cryer. Op. cit.
34 Jackson. Op. cit.
35 Cryer. Op. cit.
36 Jackson. Op. cit.
38 Personal collection.
41 Jackson. Op. cit.
42 Cryer. Op. cit.
44 Pike, A. Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. 1871. Wilder. 2011. 45 Statutes and Regulations of the Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada. Rev. 2018.
46 Official website of the AASR in Canada. https://scottishritecanada.ca/
47 Private correspondence
51 Stayt. Op. cit.
52 Personal collection
53 Smith, P.J. The Willermoz rituals of Saint John. Privately published. 2014.
55 Justice, equity, charity, tolerance, and truth.
56 Godfrey S. Welcome to Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Presentation. ND.
57 Jackson. Op. cit.
58 Private correspondence
61 Fletcher, M.D.A. The Royal Order of Scotland. The Architect 2021.
63 Godfrey. Op. cit.
64 Private correspondence
65 Official website of the Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation. www.srcf.ca
67 Private correspondence
68 Statutes and Regulations of the Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada. Rev. 2018.