Why The Masonic Grip?

On joining Freemasonry the candidate is full of anticipation and eager to acquaint himself well in this new realm of allegory. He is variously admonished to make improvements in his knowledge and he has an expectation that his curiosity will be satisfied by answers given by the more expert Brethren. But, many times I have heard disappointed members remark that there seems to be nothing else to do but initiation, passing and raising.

To many the acquisition of skill and proficiency in working the Rituals is a sufficient and satisfying answer and without this necessary part of our training most of the beauty and significance of the Ritual would be lost. However, there comes a time when the thinking man likes to get a satisfying answer to questions raised in his mind by the Ritual, where significant phrases seem to have only partial explanations. This lack in turn gives way to deeper problems, many of a philosophical, or a historical nature and rather than emulate, it is often more satisfying to seek, but one comes up against a paucity of information and may become disheartened in the search.

Masonic Ritual has an esoteric significance which is often not stressed, but which provides a very satisfying quest for those prepared to trace the path backwards. Careful study of the Ritual reveals that it is a fabric woven of materials taken from many places and times.

Candidates are exhorted to be patient but even Job, during his repeated trials and approbations, called out “where shall Wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding?” Many will be surprised to learn that his question was answered by “Under an apple tree, by pure meditation, on a Friday evening, in the season of apples when the moon is full,” but this information would not be spoken to him, but transmitted by signs and tokens given to him during the greeting and whilst his Comforters sat by him.

Freemasons too have signs and tokens which transmit information and they are constantly reminded that ‘Silence is golden’ and the words are only lettered. If both conditions are to be met then there is a problem. How are worthy brethren to be instructed? It cannot be written, nor delineated, etc, so in this blog I have set out to try to find out.

What follows is the result of many false starts and is not given as true, in the sense that every item can be supported by irrefutable evidence, but it is a good story and may prove interesting as a source of discussion.

I believe that the Ritual is soundly based on historical facts rather than myth and that a lot of it was universally known throughout Europe, during the Operative days when speculative monks were given refuge and asylum from their persecutors within the Lodge of the Free Masons, and in return, they transmitted esoteric knowledge, as well as practical knowledge, of Math’s and Geometry, to the Operative Brethren.

The ritual performance of an act ensures that strict obedience be paid to those items, actions and words, proven most efficacious in securing a desired effect. Analysis seeks to eliminate all items of ritual which cannot be repeatedly proven to be effective and this gives rise to the split between Religion and Science.

Similarly, Grammar has laid down strict rules and criteria for establishing the truth of written and spoken words, or phrases, thereby ensuring that the orderly sequence of words, made up in an orderly sequence of letters forming those words, will accurately transmit the thoughts of the writer to the reader of the text.

Thus writing follows an established ritual known only to those knowledgeable of the rules, written secrets are revealed to all who can read. But in the days when reading and writing was limited to a few, these few were very powerful.

True ritual adds an esoteric extension to mundane acts and becomes revealing only to those in possession of the esoteric significance of the act. Certain well known phrases are called “self involving expressions” and can be typified by “I name this ship,” etc, at which a bottle of wine is smashed against the bows and the ship is launched into the water.

After this act the ship can be registered, insured, paid for, etc, BUT behind it all is the age old esoteric ritual. The “I” who names the ship is usually an important person. The Name is significant, not just any old name. And the breaking of the bottle spills the wine onto the ship. A chosen person has poured out a libation to Poseidon, in the hope that a gift of the fruit of the earth will make this constructed thing, acceptable in the Kingdom of the sea. An acceptance of human frailty in the face of the power of the Sea Gods, who had to be propitiated, for this intrusion into their realm.

When knowledge gives power to the recipient, the greatest care must be exercised and the earliest societies of men, such as the Pythagoreans, separated themselves from the crowd, just as later Christian Monks did in Europe.

The Celtic and Nordic Bards were given high regard by the Kings and Chieftains and were accorded the seat at the Kings right hand. Thus, the Bard was to the King what the Prophet was to Israel and Hiram Abiff to Solomon and the King of Tyre; men of great knowledge and wisdom, skilled in the accumulated science, history, traditions and rituals of the tribe, possessing secrets of men and nature.

These Bards were sacrosanct and often acted as messengers, or heralds, between tribes. They were also teachers and Law givers, as well as Tribal Priests. History tells us that they “spoke in riddles”.

The Bible records that in the Temple at Jerusalem, the High Priest, spoke the Name of the Most High, but once per year, at the Feast of Atonement. Masonic Ritual tells us that he spoke the Name, only in a whisper, within the confines of the Sanctum Sanctorum. If, as we are told, he was alone, then the question arises, as to how he was given the Name in the first place and how he transmitted it to his successor in office?

Why the Name was a secret could be elaborated on to a lengthy blog entirely of its own, but reference to Ecclesiastes tells us that “there is a time for everything, a time to sow and a time to reap, a time to be born and a time to die..” and it is a fact, that man’s life is governed by time and season. His very existence depends on getting enough food and the ability to win it.

The fisherman who fails to take account of the tide is unlikely to get a good catch and the agriculturist is even more time dependent. All religions celebrate festivals to make auspicious these significant dates and the Priest is the man with the knowledge of the ritual and when to perform it. Therefore, the Priest had to be skilled in Calendrical Lore, with a complete knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon and the planets, which was vital in his predictive capacity.

The continued tribal prosperity was associated with a Deity, particular to the tribe who believed themselves to be his children. It was important to the tribe that they alone were the beneficiaries of this bounty and when called by his secret name the tribal god must appear. Masonic Ritual has overtones of the same belief in the Ritual, “for where the Name of God is invoked….”

Many Biblical wars can be attributed to attempts to capture the God of a more prosperous tribe. The God was captured when his Name was known and spoken profanely. The Romans exploited this belief by establishing Temples, in Rome, to all the Gods of the captive peoples.

The Jews were no exception to this rule and absolute secrecy had to be maintained and it is likely that the Sacred Name would have Calendrical significance.

Masonic Ritual is based on accounts of the building of a house to enclose the Sanctum Sanctorum. Three significant people were involved, two kings and a master Craftsman, who came from the tribe of DAN. This latter is very significant in the later text.

King Solomon is credited with the ability to talk with animals, birds and trees and we can assume from this, that his job in the Triad, was to preserve the Totemic significance of the Temple Ritual. We find that the Bards, in their riddles, spoke of birds and trees and animals, in a manner similar to Solomon. The Bible tells us of the birds and beasts acceptable as sacrifices and names the woods allowed in the construction of the temple.

The whispered word can be heard by any person determined to do so and current usage appears to clash, with the injunction for strict secrecy. To argue that a whispered word cannot be heard, is to denigrate the knowledge of acoustics known and exploited by ancient brethren. A trip to the Hypogeum (Malta,) or the Delphic Tripod, will quickly dispel any doubts on that score. As the Temple was an oracular chamber, we must assume that another way of lettering the words was used to maintain the secrecy desired.

I suggest that the Masonic Grip is a survival of the means used, but in a manner different from that now in use. Before this aspect can be developed, I must talk about ‘numbers.’

Three rule a Lodge, Five make a Lodge and Seven, or more make it perfect. Masonic Ritual gives an explanation which is adequate, unless born with a curious nature. There are many explanations for Three, but why five, or seven or more?

We find that 5 x 3, is given as the number of Fellowcraft in a later degree and also the number of conspirators, until 3 x 4 withdrew. Following the admonition to study Nature and Science, we have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, five petals on the flowers of the wild rose, hawthorn and apple blossom and fifteen knuckles on each hand, if we count the lower thumb joint. 3 x 4 x 3 x 5 gives us half a circle, in degrees, or Sun stations, in the old calendar and a pentagon is the only cursive figure which looks like a man, or a star.

There are five vowels and 3 x 7 consonants in our written language. All these numbers have significance in the Jewish Kabbalah, or in Pythagorism. It is also known that the Greeks used five dice of four numbers, in Divination and similar sets have been found in Ireland.

Those who are interested in dates can easily obtain them from the Internet, but to save boring others, I will just say that, about the time of the destruction of King Solomon’s Temple, the Celts were arriving in Britain and prior to that time, there had been a good trade with Egypt and the Middle East.

A Welsh Bard, in one of his poems, describes how a Bronze Age Priesthood, was expelled by agriculturists who owed allegiance to the tribal God Bel, Beli, or Belius, the God of the Danaans. This was the result of the joining of two likeminded tribes, one of whom were latecomers having arrived from the middle east, by way of Libya, Spain and the route around the coast. They instituted a religion, with the Dog, Roebuck and the Lapwing, as their guardians or totems.

These are the same as would be sacred to Hiram Abiff and the King of Tyre and we are told, the Lapwing knew all Solomon’s secrets and wisdom.

Julius Caesar wrote that the Britons had a transcendent God, equal to Dis, in the Roman Pantheon, who took control over the Gods, Minerva, Apollo, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury. He also noted that the Gauls went to Britain for their religious instruction and that the priests were so powerful that they could stop wars between tribes. Thus, the British God was, in many respects, similar to the God of the Jews.

Graves, traces the People of the Sea, through the place names they left and concludes that these people were the civilizers of the Semites and the Indo-European tribes, as well as the Asiatic fringe, so that religious traditions and myths, become the basis of the traditions of the Israelitish Confederacy and were welded together in the Pentateuch. Thus the Hebrews, Greeks and Celts have similar myths, as a result of the influence of the Danaans.

Pythagorous of Samoas (the student of Abaris the Hyperborean), was in Croton, in Sicily, in 510 B.C. and the Druic and Orphic Rites contain much that is common to Pythagorianism, so the mystical use of numbers can be accounted for and it is highly likely, that this was basically Calendar making, of a highly refined order.

We still have to account for how this knowledge was kept secret and unspoken and yet transmitted to those who were deemed worthy of instruction. The Bards of Ireland and Wales seem to have supplied the answers

Much of the poetical works of the Celtic Bards continued to be set in the Dactylic meter and written in OGHAM, even after the script of Latin and Greek had been adopted into regular use. This may be dismissed as an anachronism, such as the use of Old English in modern poetry, if it were not for the fact that much of the poetry seems to be nonsense, or describe such ridiculous things, as the wars of the trees and the bottles of flowers, or peculiar beasts.

Many riddles are set and strange things attributed to animals. Scholars such as Frazer, Graves and Mary Castlereagh, have studied these and find that the trees, birds and beasts are totemistic descriptions, sacred to various Deities, days of the week, festivals etc.

Ogham, the language of the Celtic poet, is a system of writing by means of nicks, cut into the edge of a stick, and differs from Runic, or Pictish, by being only straight lines.

Stick Ogham has fifteen letters and five vowels – our old friends again.

The letters are B, L, F, S, N, H, D, T, C, Q, M, G, Ng, Z, and R.

The vowels are A, O, U, E, I.

The whole being known as Beth Louis, after the first letters. The last vowel is Iochan.

Thus we recall that we have fifteen knuckles and five finger tips, which provide a full set of ‘working tools’ for the silent communication of any word, by lettering, or halving it with another, in the secret. Therefore, our fifteen Fellowcraft, two Deacons, Wardens and a Master, form a complete alphabet. I often wondered why the Deacons had to ‘bear’ all messages, but if they had to be given by touch, the phrase begins to make sense.

If we accept that messages were transmitted in this manner, we can see that the Bard was in the same situation as a Signals Officer, ready to detect and interpret touches on the hand, or nose, by one of his Fellows. Thus his position at the Kings right hand would be one of convenience as well as honour.

Bardic texts indicate that there were some 150 variations of the Ogham alphabet and that part we see on the Manx crosses, is known as Stick Ogham, but the alphabet most likely to have been used for touch transmission, is that known as Beth Luis Ogham, in which the finger tips and knuckles were used to represent letters .

Under the old Calendar of 364 days, plus 1, (a year and a day) made up of 13 months, of 28 days which was the Agricultural Year, the Seasons were under the control of the vowels and were five in number-

A-Winter Solstice (sun stand)

0-Spring Equinox

U-Summer Solstice

E-Autumn Equinox

I-Winter Solstice,

Each season with its own totemic bird and tree. There is a similarity to Masonic ritual, to much that was known to the Bard and when Freemasons state that they will always ‘hele, conceal and never reveal…,’ they are repeating part of the initiation oath taken by the Celtic Bard, when he started on the first, of his three, seven year periods of training, to become a Bard of the lowest order.

I hope this blog will help to indicate that a study of Ritual, will lead to a search for more satisfying answers, which are to be found in the old pathways of our culture, where truth is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

“Why travel from the East to the West? “ “To seek that which was lost.”

“How came them to be lost?” Therein lies the subject of another lecture!

Parts of this blog were posted by Brother Jimmy McCallum on Masonic Network.  Brother Jimmy did not know the original author of this work. If you are the author, or know who is perhaps you would let me know, so I can give credit, where due, or remove it from display.

The Spirit of Brother Robert Burns

In order of the Celebration of Scotlands most famous Freemason, I thought it would be nice to republish this address given by Brother Reverend Doctor Fort Newton, Past Grand Chaplain, Iowa, USA.  He gave this address in proposing the toast “To the Immoral Memory of Brother Robert Burns” at the Burns Meetings of the Scots Lodge, No. 2319 EC on 24th January 1918.

We are met this evening, as I understand it, just to love Robert Burns and one another.  Somehow I feel that Burns would rejoice to be here, for he love more than all else that festival that was half a frolic and the feast where joy and goodwill were guests.

The social magnetism of his spirit found its way into his songs, and we feel it to this day, and he was nowhere more happy, nowhere more welcome than in the fellowship of his Masonic Brethren.

Higher tribute there is none for any man to say, justly, that the world is gentler and more joyous for his having live – and this was true of Burns, whose very name is an emblem of pity, joy and the genius of fraternity.  And it is therefore that we love Robert Burns, as much for his weakness as for his strength, and all the more for that he was such an unveneered human being.

If he was a sinner, he was in that akin to ourselves, as God wots, a little good and a little bad, a little weak and a little strong, foolish when he thought he was wise and wise, often, when he feared he was foolish.

It is given but to few men thus to live in the hearts of their fellows; and today, from Ayr to Sydney, from Chicago to Bombay, the memory of Burns is a sweet perfume.  Yet, more that a fragrances, it is a living force uniting men of many lands, by a kind of Freemasonry, into a league of liberty, justice and pity.

If ever of any one, it can be said of Robert Burns, that his soul goes marching on, striding over continents and years, trampling tyrannies down.  He was the harbinger of the nineteenth century, the poet of the rights and reign of the common people, whom, it has been said, God must love because He made so many of them.

That which lives in Robert Burns, and will live while human nature is the same, is his love of justice, of honesty, his touch of pathos, of melting sympathy, his demands for liberty, his faith in man, in nature and in God – all uttered with simple speech and the golden voice of song.  His poems were little jets of love and liberty and pity finding their way out through the fissures in the granite-like theology of his day.  They came fresh from the heart of a man whom the death of a little bird set dreaming of the meaning of a world wherein life in woven of beauty, mystery and sorrow.

Such was the spirit of Robert Burns – a man passionate and piteous, compact of light and flame and beauty, capable of withering scorn of wrong, quickly shifting from the ludicrous to the horrible, poised between laughter and tears – and if by some art we could send it into all the dark places of the world, pity and joy would return to the common ways of man.

Long live the Spirit of Robert Burns, may it grow and glow to the confounding of all unkindness, all injustice, all bitterness.

He haunts his native land
As an immortal youth;                 
his hand Guides every plough                   
His presence haunts this room tonight                         
A for of mingled mist and light                 
From that far coast

 

His feet may be in the furrow, but the nobility of manhood is in his heart, on his lips the voice of eternal melody, and in his face the light of the morning star.

Robert Burns

What is the Scottish Rite of Freemasony?

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (AASR) is one of several different rites belonging to the worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry.

A rite is a series of progressive degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organisations or bodies that all operate under the control of one central authority.  Under the AASR, the central authority is called a Supreme Council.

The thirty-three degrees of the AASR are conferred by several different controlling bodies.  The first of these is the craft lodge which confers the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason degrees.

The AASR forms one of the more important appendant bodies of Freemasonry that a Master Mason may join for further exposure to the principles of Freemasonry.  

The AASR builds upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the craft lodge, through dramatic presentation of the individual degrees. Although in the modern AASR only the 18th, 30th, 31st, 32nd and 33rd degrees are worked (at least in Scotland and England).

Organization

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in each country is governed by a Supreme Council. There is no international governing body, each Supreme Council in each country being sovereign unto itself.

In the United States of America there are two Supreme Councils headquartered in Washington, DC, and Lexington, Massachusetts. Individual states are referred to as “Orients,” and local bodies are called “Valleys.” Each Valley has four Scottish Rite bodies: the Lodge of Perfection controls the 4th through the 14th degrees, the Chapter of Rose Croix controls the 15th through the 18th degrees, the Council of Kadosh controls the 19th through the 30th degrees, and the Consistory controls the 31st and 32nd Degrees. The Supreme Council controls and confers the 33rd Degree of Inspector General.

The Scottish Rite Degrees

Attainment of the third Masonic degree, that of a Master Mason, represents the attainment of the highest rank in all of Masonry.  Any Master Mason stands as an equal before every other Master Mason, regardless of position, class, or other degrees. Additional degrees are sometimes referred to as appendant degrees, even where the degree numbering might imply a hierarchy. Appendant degrees represent a lateral movement in Masonic Education rather than an upward movement. These are not degrees of rank, but rather degrees of instruction.

  • 4° Secret Master
  • 5° Perfect Master
  • 6° Intimate Secretary
  • 7° Provost and Judge
  • 8° Intendant of the Building
  • 9° Elu of the Nine (Master Elect of the Nine)
  • 10° Elu of the Fifteen (Master Elect of the Fifteen)
  • 11° Elu of the Twelve (Sublime Master Elected)
  • 12° Master Architect (Grand Master Architect)
  • 13° The Royal Arch of Solomon (Master of the Ninth Arch)
  • 14° Perfect Elu (Grand Elect Mason)
  • 15° Knight of the East, or of the Sword
  • 16° Prince of Jerusalem
  • 17° Knight of the East and West
  • 18° Knight of the Rose Croix (Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M.)
  • 19° Grand Pontiff
  • 20° Master of the Symbolic Lodge (Master ad Vitam)
  • 21° Noachite or Prussian Knight (Patriarch Noachite)
  • 22° Knight of the Royal Axe (also known as Prince of Libanus in both jurisdictions)
  • 23° Chief of the Tabernacle
  • 24° Prince of the Tabernacle
  • 25° Knight of the Brazen Serpent
  • 26° Prince of Mercy, or Scottish Trinitarian
  • 27° Knight Commander of the Temple (Commander of the Temple)
  • 28° Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept
  • 29° Scottish Knight of St. Andrew
  • 30° Knight Kadosh (Grand Elect Knight Kadosh)
  • 31° Inspector Inquisitor (Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander)
  • 32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

Systems of Degrees

According to the various AASR jurisdictions in the world, all of which operate independently, the degrees are worked at will by their governing bodies. For example the Southern Jurisdiction separates the degrees as follows:

  •  4° through 14° – Lodge of Perfection
  • 15° through 18° – Chapter of Rose Croix
  • 19° through 30° – Council of Kadosh
  • 31° through 32° – Consistory

In Scotland, candidates are perfected in the 18th degree, with the preceding degrees awarded in name only. A minimum of a two-year interval is required before continuing to the 30th degree, again with the intervening degrees awarded by name only. Elevation beyond that is strictly by invitation only.

Description of Degrees

4th Degree – Perfect Elu (Elect)

The lessons of this degree are that Perfect Elect Masons are to be free from prejudice, intolerance and envy. The duties of a 14 Degree Mason are to protect the oppressed and relieve want and distress, and to serve the common good and do good works.

18th Degree – Knight of the Rose Croix

The lessons taught in this degree are the lessons of faith, hope and charity. The duties of a Knight of Rose Croix are to practice virtue, to labor to eliminate vice, and to be tolerant of the faith and creed of others. The symbols of the degree are those of the rose and cross, and the “pelican in her piety,” that is, a nesting pelican plucking flesh from her breast to feed her young.

The lessons taught in this degree are that man must have a new Temple in his heart where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth[citation needed], and that he must have a new law of love with all men everywhere may understand and practice.

The degree affirms the broad principals of universality and toleration.

29th Degree – Scottish Knight of St. Andrew

The duties of a Knight of St. Andrew are to serve the truth, to protect virtue and innocence, and to defend against tyranny. The degree incorporates elements of Scottish legend dealing with the survival of the Knights Templar. The lessons of the degree are symbolic and philosophical, not historical.

History

Early References to “Scots Master” Degree

There are records of lodges conferring the degree of “Scots Master” or “Scotch Master” as early as 1733.  A lodge at Temple Bar in London is the earliest such lodge on record. Other lodges include a lodge at Bath in 1735, and the French lodge, St. George de l’Observance No. 49 at Covent Garden in 1736. The references to these few occasions indicate that these were special meetings held for the purpose of performing unusual ceremonies, probably by visiting Freemasons.

Jacobite Influence

Many  Scottish Jacobites who were living in France during the early 1700’s, took an active part in high degree Freemasonry there and saw in its symbolism some hope for their political aspirations of a return of the Stuart to the thrones of England and Scotland. 

The seed of the myth of Stuart Jacobite influence on the high degrees may have been a careless and unsubstantiated remark made by John Noorthouk in the 1784 Book of Constitutions of the Premier Grand Lodge of London. It was stated, without support, that King Charles II was made a Freemason in Holland during the years of his exile (1649-60).

However, there were no lodges of Freemasons on the continent during those years. The statement was undoubtedly made to flatter the fraternity by claiming membership for a previous monarch. This folly was then embellished upon by John Robison (1739-1805), a professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, in an anti-Masonic work published in 1797. The lack of scholarship exhibited by him that work even caused the Encyclopedia Britannica to denounce it.

By the mid-19th century, the story had gained currency. The well-known English Masonic writer, Dr. George Oliver (1782-1867), in his “Historical Landmarks,” 1846, carried the story forward and even claimed that King Charles II was active in his attendance at meetings — an obvious invention, for if it had been true, it would not have escaped the notice of the historians of the time.

James II died in 1701 at the Palace of St. Germain en Laye, and was succeeded in his claims to the British throne by his son, James Edward Stuart (1699-1766), the Chevalier St. George, better known as “the Old Pretender,” but recognized as James III by the French King Louis XIV.

He was succeeded in his claim by Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charles”), also known as “the Young Pretender,” whose ultimate defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 effectively put an end to any serious hopes of the Stuarts regaining the British crowns.

Estienne Morin and his Rite of 25 Degrees

A French trader, by the name of Estienne Morin, had been involved in high degree Masonry in Bordeaux since 1744 and, in 1747, founded an “Ecossais” lodge (Scots Masters Lodge) in the city of Le Cap Francais, on the north coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).

Over the next decade, high degree Freemasonry continued to spread to the Western hemisphere as the high degree lodge at Bordeaux warranted or recognized seven Ecossais lodges there. In Paris in the year 1761, a Patent was issued to Estienne Morin, dated 27 August, creating him “Grand Inspector for all parts of the New World.”

This Patent was signed by officials of the Grand Lodge at Paris and appears to have originally granted him power over the craft lodges only, and not over the high, or “Ecossais”, degree lodges.

 Later copies of this Patent appear to have been embellished, probably by Morin, to improve his position over the high degree lodges in the West Indies. The authenticity of the enlarged powers named in later copies of Morin’s Patent is further weakened by the Declaration of the Grand Lodge of the 3 Globes at Berlin.

Early writers long believed that a “Rite of Perfection” consisting of 25 degrees, the highest being the “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret,” and being the predecessor of the Scottish Rite, had been formed in Paris by a high degree council calling itself “The Council of Emperors of the East and West.” The title “Rite of Perfection” first appeared in the Preface to the “Grand Constitutions of 1786,” the authority for which is now known to be faulty. It is now generally accepted that this Rite of twenty-five degrees was compiled by Estienne Morin and is therefore more properly titled “The Rite of the Royal Secret,” or “Morin’s Rite.”

Morin returned to the West Indies in 1762 or 1763, to Saint-Domingue, where, armed with his new Patent, he assumed powers to constitute lodges of all degrees, spreading the high degrees throughout the West Indies and North America. Morin stayed in Saint-Domingue until 1766 when he moved to Jamaica. At Kingston, Jamaica, in 1770, Morin created a “Grand Chapter” of his new Rite (the Grand Council of Jamaica). Morin died in 1771 and was buried in Kingston.

Henry Andrew Francken and his Manuscripts

The one man who was most important in assisting Morin in spreading the degrees in the New World was a naturalized French subject of Dutch origin named Henry Andrew Francken. Morin appointed him Deputy Grand Inspector General as one of his first acts after returning to the West Indies. Francken worked closely with Morin and, in 1771, produced a manuscript book giving the rituals for the 15th through the 25th degrees. Francken produced at least two more similar manuscripts, one in 1783 and another about 1786. The second and third of these manuscripts included all the degrees from the 4th through the 25th.

A Loge de Parfaits d’ Écosse was formed on 12 April 1764 at New Orleans, becoming the first high degree lodge on the North American continent. Its life, however, was short, as the 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded New Orleans to Spain, and the Catholic Spanish crown had been historically hostile to Freemasonry. Documented Masonic activity ceased for a time and did not return to New Orleans until the 1790s.

Francken travelled to New York in 1767 where he granted a Patent, dated 26 December 1767, for the formation of a Lodge of Perfection at Albany. This marked the first time the Degrees of Perfection were conferred in one of the thirteen British colonies. This Patent, and the early minutes of the Lodge, are still extant and are in the archives of Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction.

Birth of the Scottish Rite

Although most of the thirty-three degrees of the Scottish Rite existed in parts of previous degree systems, the Scottish Rite did not come into being until the formation of the Mother Supreme Council at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1801.

Albert Pike

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, 29 December 1809, Albert Pike is commonly asserted as the man most responsible for the growth and success of the AASR from an obscure Masonic Rite in the mid-1800’s, to the international fraternity that it became.

Pike received his Degrees from the American Masonic historian, Dr. Albert G. Mackey, in Charleston, S.C., in March 1853, and, in that same year, Pike was appointed Deputy Inspector for Arkansas.

At this point, the degrees were in only a rudimentary form, and often only included a brief history and legend of each degree as well as other brief details which usually lacked a workable ritual for their conferral. In 1855, the Supreme Council appointed a committee to prepare and compile rituals for the 4th through the 32nd Degrees.

In March 1858, Pike was elected a member of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and in January 1859 he became its Grand Commander. The War between the states interrupted his work on the Scottish Rite rituals. After the War, he moved to Washington, DC, and in 1868 his revision, and de-christianisation, of the rituals was complete.

Pike also wrote lectures for all the degrees which were published in 1871 under the title “Morals & Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite”.

Controversy surrounding the Scottish Rite

In 1856 Albert Pike revised and re-issued the rituals,  illustrating his interpretations of his revised rituals in Morals and Dogma. These rituals and the interpretation in Morals and Dogma provide much of the source for criticism of Freemasonry as a whole, despite the factual inaccuracies.

The Scottish Rite Creed

The Scottish Rite Creed of Freemasonry is as follows:

Human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.