Public Resources


Welcome to our resource page on Freemasonry in Las Vegas. This page is dedicated to providing information and resources on multiple Masonic topics such as; the history of Masonry in Las Vegas, as well as the possible origins of Freemasonry as a whole, Nevada masonry, observant masonry and many more. Our collection includes public research papers and documents on Freemasonry, which are publicly available for you to explore. Whether you are a member of the Masonic community or simply interested in learning more about this fascinating subject, we invite you to browse our resources and discover the rich history of Freemasonry in Las Vegas. With our carefully curated selection of materials, you’ll be able to learn about the role that Freemasonry has played in shaping the history of our city. Thank you for visiting, and we hope you find our resources informative and enlightening.


In the dawn of Nevada’s formative years, long before the State of Nevada emerged as a distinctive governmental entity, a mystical tapestry of Freemasonry was intricately woven. Within the territorial expanse of this enigmatic land, a tale of intrigue, enlightenment, and brotherhood unfolded, culminating in the founding of the illustrious Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Nevada.

In the mid-19th century, when Nevada was but a vast expanse of untamed wilderness, eight Masonic Lodges found themselves recorded under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California. Among these lodges, Washoe Lodge 157 stood steadfastly in the heart of Washoe City, Nevada—its location half a distance between present-day Carson City and Reno. In the summer of 1863, during its stated communication, a visionary initiative sprouted as the lodge appointed a committee. This committee was bestowed with the solemn task of conferring with other lodges in the region, pondering the expediency of organizing a Grand Lodge to oversee the entire Territory of Nevada.

Alas, for reasons now lost in the sands of time, this auspicious endeavor encountered an unforeseen hiatus, and the subject lay dormant.

Undeterred by the passage of time, the ardor for the establishment of a Grand Lodge in Nevada was rekindled in November of 1864. Virginia City Lodge 162 and Escurial Lodge 171, both nestled within the vibrant embrace of the City of Virginia, collaborated and appointed a joint committee. Their purpose was to correspond with lodges throughout the state, fervently exploring the feasibility of erecting a Grand Lodge—one that would bind the brethren of Nevada under a unified Masonic banner.

In harmonious response, similar committees were swiftly formed across the expanse of the territory. Each committee was a constellation of devoted Freemasons, guided by a shared vision of unifying the fragmented lodges into a sacred alliance.

Amidst the hallowed halls of Masonic Hall in Virginia City, Nevada, on the sixteenth day of January in 1865, the Convention of lodges convened. The air was infused with a palpable aura of mysticism and anticipation, as brethren from Carson Lodge 154, Carson City NV, Washoe Lodge 157, Washoe City NV, Virginia City Lodge 162, Virginia City NV, Silver Star Lodge 165, Gold Hill NV, Esmeralda Lodge 170, Aurora NV, and Escurial Lodge 171, Virginia City NV, graced the sacred gathering with their esteemed presence.

With a meticulous eye for detail and a sense of cosmic unity, the committee on credentials meticulously verified the legitimacy of each representative present. The brethren’s hearts beat in harmony, for the Convention embraced its rightful occupants.

United under the cosmic canopy, the Convention embarked on the profound task at hand. From the sacred depths of their Masonic souls, they proffered resolutions that resounded like celestial harmonies:

“WHEREAS, the subject of organizing a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of Nevada has been agitated: RESOLVED, that it is the opinion of this Lodge that it is expedient, advisable, and desirable that a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons be at once organized in the State of Nevada.”

With profound conviction, they continued:

“RESOLVED, that if five chartered lodges within the State, adopt similar resolutions to the foregoing, that a convention of the lodges of Free and Accepted Masons within the State of Nevada, convene at the Masonic Hall, in Virginia [City], on Monday, the sixteenth day of January, 1865, at eleven o’clock a.m., for the purpose of organizing a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Mason in the State of Nevada; each lodge to be represented by its Masters and Wardens, whose charter shall be their credentials. RESOLVED, that the Secretary notify each lodge in the State of our action in this matter.”

With resolute determination and a shared sense of purpose, they set the wheels of fate into motion.

As the convention progressed, it reached profound conclusions, setting the stage for the historic event that would shape Masonic history in Nevada. The groundwork was laid for the inauguration of the Grand Lodge of Nevada. An exquisite Constitution, woven from the sacred threads of Masonic wisdom, was painstakingly crafted by a dedicated committee, destined to govern the affairs of this mystical fraternity.

The dawn of January 17, 1865, bathed the assembly in a celestial glow, as the radiant sun rose in the east, blessing this auspicious day. The Convention, energized by the cosmic currents of destiny, resumed its solemn proceedings.

The committee on credentials, in their quest for unity, extended a gracious embrace to Silver City Lodge 163, Silver City NV, recognizing its rightful place among the gathering of brethren.

With reverence and awe, the Constitution, a majestic opus crafted by the hands of devoted Freemasons, was unveiled. Its verses whispered ancient wisdom, its prose echoed the guiding principles of the Craft. The brethren immersed themselves in profound deliberations, amending the Constitution with grace and sagacity until unanimity prevailed. The document emerged as a beacon, illuminating the path of Nevada Freemasonry, guiding generations yet unborn.

The dusk of that momentous day witnessed an epochal transformation—the Convention, radiant with collective purpose, transformed into a Lodge of Master Masons. The luminous lodge, basking in the splendor of its newfound Grandeur, was presided over by W.B. Henry B. Brady, Master of the eldest lodge present—a symbol of wisdom’s continuity and the unbroken thread connecting generations of Masons.

In harmonious unity, the brethren undertook the momentous task of electing the inaugural Grand Officers, who would illuminate the path of Freemasonry in Nevada. Each name called forth from the abyss of time echoes still:

  • M.W. Joseph De Bell, Grand Master,
  • R.W. George W. Bailey, Deputy Grand Master,
  • R.W. Henry B. Brady, Senior Grand Warden,
  • R.W. R.T. Mullard, Junior Grand Warden,
  • V.W. Charles E. Olney, Grand Treasurer,
  • V.W. Charles H. Fish, Grand Secretary.

The embers of destiny now fully ignited, the newly elected and appointed officers were gracefully installed into their respective offices. The sacred rites of the installation ceremony echoed with an ineffable reverence, resonating with the whispers of ages past.

As twilight descended upon the consecrated Hall, the spirits of the brethren soared with elation and fulfillment. In a final act of cosmic grace, the Convention declared that its profound quest had been fulfilled, and it be adjourned, sine die. The minutes of the day were read and approved, and the Convention, having fulfilled its sacred mission, dissolved back into the tides of time.

As the sun dipped beneath the horizon, heralding the arrival of the evening star, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons emerged from the sacred crucible of destiny. It gazed upon the infinite expanse of Nevada’s future, a future forged by the mystic arts, the enduring principles of brotherhood, and the boundless wisdom of the Craft.

In the wake of the Convention, the Grand Lodge of Nevada, now united as a celestial constellation, extended its benevolent embrace to each lodge represented. With celestial approval, each lodge received an endorsement, an indelible stamp of recognition, affirming their rightful

A Quick history of Freemasonry in Las Vegas to the Creation of Robert Burns Lodge No. 59 in Summerlin


Las Vegas, a city renowned for its vibrant entertainment and hospitality industry, has a lesser-known historical narrative entwined with the ancient fraternity of Freemasonry. This comprehensive account delves into the evolution of Freemasonry in Las Vegas, exploring its early foundations, historical contributions, all the way up to the establishment of Robert Burns Lodge No. 59 in Summerlin, Las Vegas.

Chapter 1: Pioneering Westward – Freemasonry’s Journey to the Western Frontier

Freemasonry’s Journey to the Western Frontier During the early 1800s, as pioneers and prospectors ventured westward in pursuit of opportunity and adventure, Freemasonry’s presence also expanded across the United States. Prior to Nevada’s attainment of statehood in 1864, Masonic lodges within the territory operated under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California. These early lodges in nearby regions laid the groundwork for Freemasonry’s eventual establishment in Las Vegas.

Chapter 2: Unveiling the Roots – The Birth of Freemasonry in Las Vegas

The Birth of Freemasonry in Las Vegas Historical records regarding the exact establishment date of the first Masonic lodge in Las Vegas are somewhat elusive, but evidence indicates that by the late 1800s, the fraternity had taken root in the burgeoning railroad town. Early Freemasons in Las Vegas often consisted of merchants, businessmen, and civic leaders who sought to create a cohesive social network and uphold the principles of brotherhood.

Chapter 3: Pillars of Society – Masonic Contributions to Early Las Vegas

Masonic Contributions to Early Las Vegas Society Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, Masonic lodges, such as the first Las Vegas Lodge, played a vital role in the development of early Las Vegas society. These lodges provided a platform for fellowship, camaraderie, and the promotion of moral values among their members and were considered elite groups. Additionally, they engaged in charitable initiatives, such as supporting local schools, hospitals, and community events.

Chapter 4: Amidst Turbulent Times – Freemasonry During the Mob Era

Freemasonry During the Mob Era In the 1940s and 1950s, Las Vegas became synonymous with the notorious Mob era, characterized by organized crime influences within the city’s casinos and nightlife. While historical evidence does not definitively connect Freemasonry to these criminal elements, some accounts suggest that individual Freemasons may have played roles in mediating disputes or exerting positive influences amidst the turbulent environment and severed as a catalyst in the city.

Chapter 5: Continuity and Commitment – Masonic Legacy in Modern Las Vegas

As Las Vegas evolved into a bustling metropolis during the latter half of the 20th century, its Masonic lodges continued to flourish. Notable Lodges continued to serve as pillars of the community. Freemasons actively participated in charitable endeavors, such as supporting local charities, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives.

Chapter 6: Continuity and Commitment – Masonic Legacy in Modern Las Vegas

The Birth of Robert Burns Lodge No. 59 in Summerlin In 2022, as Las Vegas expanded westward, the master-planned community of Summerlin emerged. It did not take too long for Robert Burns Lodge No. 59 to be established, named in honor of the celebrated Scottish poet and Freemason, Robert Burns. The Lodge was created as the first observant Lodge in Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole, it embraced the timeless Masonic traditions of fellowship, mystical and moral teachings, charity, fostering unity and camaraderie within the Summerlin community and Las Vegas as a whole.


The historical narrative of Freemasonry in Las Vegas unveils an intriguing journey of continuity, adaptability, and philanthropy. From its early beginnings to the establishment of Robert Burns Lodge No. 59 in Summerlin, Freemasonry’s impact on the city’s social fabric and community initiatives has been profound. As Las Vegas continues to evolve, the enduring legacy of Freemasonry persists, upholding the timeless values of brotherhood, charity, and enlightenment that have remained constant throughout the fraternity’s history.

In the year 2016, a group of dedicated Masons from around the city and state of Nevada felt a strong desire to establish an observant Masonic Lodge in their region. The observant movement had been gaining momentum across the United States, with many states already having their own observant lodges. However, Nevada still lacked such a lodge. The brethren who gathered to discuss this idea consisted of seasoned Masons, including a past Grand Master and members of higher positions within the Nevada Masonic hierarchy. They recognized the need to create an observant Masonic Lodge in the vibrant community of Summerlin, in the western part of Las Vegas, where many Masons resided. This is the story of how these determined brethren set out on a journey to create the first observant Masonic Lodge in Nevada, today known as Robert Burns Lodge No.59.

Opening a brand-new lodge in the state of Nevada was no easy task, as the numbers of Masons had been declining for the past four decades. However, these brethren firmly believed in the observant system and were committed to bringing it to their community. They began by forming a Masonic club, meeting regularly at one of the brother’s houses, where they discussed their plans and strategies for the birth of a new observant lodge in Summerlin.

The harmony and agreement among these brethren were remarkable, and they all shared a common vision for the lodge. The club continued to meet for several years, gaining momentum and attracting new members. Eventually, they gathered enough paperwork and members to officially apply for the coveted Under Dispensation (UD) status from the Grand Lodge of Nevada.

In the year 2019, their hard work paid off, and they received the much awaited “Under Dispensation” status from the Grand Lodge of Nevada. The joy and celebration were immense as they knew that they had one year to prove to the Grand Lodge that their lodge was ready to receive its official charter. During this time, two candidates even applied to join the lodge before it received its charter.

However, fate had other plans, and due to a small administrative mistake, the charter was not granted as expected in 2020. While this could have been disheartening, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The lodge used this extra time to strengthen their ranks and better prepare for receiving their charter the following year. During this time, they took inspiration from a letter by Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, and selected the motto: “Dare to be honest and fear no labor.

In the year 2021, the Grand Lodge of Nevada finally granted Robert Burns Lodge its official charter, designating it as Lodge Number 59. (For the following year) The year 1759 coincided with the birth year of Robert Burns, making it a fitting number for the lodge. The brethren celebrated this momentous occasion with a grand dinner, cherishing the bonds of brotherhood that had grown stronger throughout their journey.

The lodge’s first ever public speaker event featured Andrew Hammer, a renowned Masonic author and member of Alba Lodge #222, who also headed the Masonic Restoration Foundation. His visit to the lodge left a lasting impression, and he added Robert Burns Lodge to his Restoration Foundation website as an observant lodge. Andrew Hammer was also made the first honorary member of Robert Burns Lodge, an honor reserved for three distinguished individuals.

In 2022, the members of Robert Burns Lodge were awarded the prestigious Nevada Masonic Award, recognizing their hard work and dedication. The lodge continued to grow in stature and reputation within the Masonic community.

In January 2023, the lodge hosted its first-ever Robert Burns Birthday celebration, a resplendent event attended by brethren and their families, dressed in rococo style suits and dresses. The night was filled with poetry, dancing, and songs, creating beautiful memories for everyone present. The success of the celebration led to the decision to make it an annual event for the lodge.

Throughout 2023, the members of Robert Burns Lodge continued to strengthen their bonds of brotherhood and knowledge. They attended their first symposium and organized a lodge trip to Tucson, Arizona, where they discovered other observant lodges and fostered relationships with brethren from different regions.

As the lodge’s reputation grew, the Grand Lodge bestowed upon Robert Burns Lodge the responsibility of organizing a traditional festive board, a task the brethren executed with excellence and great attendance.

The journey of Robert Burns Lodge #59 has been a long and beautiful one, filled with determination, hard work, and a strong commitment to observant Masonry. The lodge’s establishment in Summerlin, Nevada, filled a void in the Masonic landscape of the region and added to the observant movement in the United States.

Through their dedication and unity, the brethren of Robert Burns Lodge have proven that observant Masonry is not just a passing trend but a meaningful and valuable approach to Freemasonry. As the lodge continues to grow and thrive, it will undoubtedly inspire future generations of Masons to “Dare to be honest and fear no labor” in their pursuit of Masonic knowledge and brotherhood. The history from here onwards is bound to be long and beautiful, filled with stories of fellowship, Masonic growth, and service to the community. If you wish to know more about the ongoing history of Robert Burns Lodge #59, you can contact the lodge secretary, who will be more than happy to provide you with further details of this remarkable journey.

The Origins of Freemasonry: A Neoplatonic Hypothesis

Word count: 1975

Reading time: 8-10 minutes


This paper examines the origins of Freemasonry and proposes the hypothesis that speculative Freemasonry has its roots in Renaissance Neoplatonic thought from 15th century Italy. Through extensive analysis of primary sources and scholarly research, the paper traces the influence of key Neoplatonic thinkers like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola on prominent English intellectuals in the 16th and 17th centuries. It argues that these English Neoplatonists utilized the structure and tools of operative masonry as a vehicle to subtly spread Neoplatonic ideals in areas like the concept of a “Grand Architect of the Universe”, geometry, and the importance of self-knowledge and human freedom. The paper concludes that there is significant evidence to support the thesis that speculative Freemasonry has its ideological origins in the revival of Platonic philosophy during the Renaissance period.


The origins of Freemasonry have been debated by historians and scholars for centuries. While the traditional narrative cites the transition of operative masonry lodges into speculative structures in 17th century England, critics have challenged this theory based on lack of evidence of such a transition occurring (Roberts, 2005; Stevenson, 1988). Some have looked to Scotland, the Knights Templar, or the Royal Society as potential sources, but definitive proof has been elusive. This paper proposes an unconventional hypothesis – that speculative Freemasonry finds its roots in a current of Renaissance thought called Neoplatonism which flourished in 15th century Italy and profoundly influenced English intellectuals in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Neoplatonism was revived in the Renaissance period based on the rediscovery of original texts by Plato and other ancient philosophers that provided new perspectives on metaphysics, theology, and humankind’s place in the cosmos (Blumenthal, 1993). Through close examination of primary sources and recent scholarship, the paper will argue that these English Neoplatonists co-opted the structure of operative masonry to subtly spread Neoplatonic ideals. This challenges the traditional narrative and offers a new perspective on the ideological origins of Freemasonry.

The Florence Neoplatonic Academy

Modern Freemasonry is often dated to 1717 with the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in London. However, the seeds were planted two centuries earlier with the revival of Platonic philosophy led by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) in Renaissance Florence. In the late 15th century, Cosimo de Medici sponsored Ficino’s translation of the complete works of Plato and the Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of texts attributed to the mythical Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus (Goodrick-Clarke, 2008; Allen, 2015).

The Corpus Hermeticum was of great interest to Renaissance scholars as it was believed at the time to contain ancient wisdom passed down from Hermes Trismegistus, an Egyptian priest contemporary with Moses (Yates, 1964). This project led to the founding of the Florentine Neoplatonic Academy, whose mission was to integrate Christian theology with Platonic and Hermetic philosophies (Hanegraaff, 2012).

Two foundational pillars emerged from the Florentine Academy which can be seen as precursors to Masonic thought – first, the concept of a “prisca theologia” or continuous wisdom tradition stemming back to Hermes which provided a universal worldview beyond formal church doctrine; and second, a new perspective on human nature as free and able to forge its own path to finding truth, as articulated by Ficino’s student Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) in his Oration on the Dignity of Man (Farmer, 1998; Kristeller, 1964).

Key Contributions of Ficino and Mirandola

Marsilio Ficino made several major conceptual breakthroughs that prefigured central Masonic principles. He referred to God as the “Architect of the Universe”, one of the earliest known usages of this term which became a core Masonic descriptor for the divine (Allen, 2015). Ficino pioneered this concept in his Five Questions Concerning the Mind (1495), directly addressing God as the “most admirable intelligence of the celestial Architect” (Ficino, 1975).

For Ficino, the study of geometry and mathematics was not an end in itself, but rather a means to develop the abstract thinking necessary to grasp universal truths beyond physical forms (Hanegraaff, 2012). This notion of geometry as a window into reading the “Grand Architect’s” designs would later become a key Masonic principle.

Pico della Mirandola built upon Ficino’s work and greatly expanded the notion of human potential and free will in his Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), declaring that man was created without a fixed place in the cosmos so that he may “fashion himself in whatever shape he prefers” (Mirandola, 1956). This emphasis on self-determination and moral development would become central themes in speculative Freemasonry.

The Migration of Neoplatonism to England

While the Florentine Academy was suppressed in 1494 after the rise of the religious reformer Girolamo Savonarola, its influence continued to spread across Europe. Many prominent English intellectuals in the 16th and 17th centuries were exposed to and inspired by Neoplatonic thought:

– John Colet (c.1467-1519) – Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and founder of St Paul’s School. Close correspondent of Marsilio Ficino who aimed to integrate Christian faith with Neoplatonic wisdom in his writings (Nauert, 1965).

– Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) – Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII. Translated Ficino’s biography of Pico della Mirandola and authored Utopia (1516), modeling a philosophical ideal society inspired by Plato’s Republic (Kinney, 2001).

– John Dee (1527-1608) – Mathematician, astronomer and occult philosopher. Combined interest in mathematics, astronomy and Neoplatonic philosophy seeking to discern divine truth. Major advocate for integrating the Roman architect Vitruvius into the English intellectual tradition (French, 1972).

– Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) – Philosopher, statesman and early proponent of the scientific method. His novel New Atlantis (1624) envisioned a utopian society inspired by Plato’s mythical Atlantis and featured symbolic references to ancient wisdom keeping with the Neoplatonic current (Faulkner, 2017).

– The Cambridge Platonists (17th century) – Informal network of philosophers at Cambridge University focused on integrating reason and faith while emphasizing morality and self-knowledge as paths to truth. Prominent members like Benjamin Whichcote, Ralph Cudworth and Henry More revived interest in Neoplatonism as “the best bulwark against fatalism and materialism” (Hutton, 2017).

This survey demonstrates the strong presence and influence of Florentine Neoplatonism among England’s intellectual and cultural elite in the 16th/17th centuries as Freemasonry began to take shape. The Navigation Acts of 1651 cut off trade with Florence, but the Neoplatonic currents had already embedded themselves in English thought (Woolhouse, 1993).

Neoplatonic Traces in Early Masonic Rituals

Having established the migration of Neoplatonic thought to England, we can now identify key places where these philosophical currents may have influenced early Masonic rituals and constitutions.

The first major concept is the notion of God as the “Grand Architect of the Universe”, which appears prominently in Anderson’s Constitutions (1723), the foundational document of modern Freemasonry. However, nearly identical expressions can be found in Ficino’s Five Questions Concerning the Mind (1495) and Pico’s Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) from the 15th century Florentine Academy, predating any known use in an operative masonic context by over 200 years (Allen, 2015; Ficino, 1975). This suggests the term’s Masonic usage may originate from Renaissance Neoplatonic theology rather than the architectural trade, hinting at the Craft’s deeper metaphysical aspirations.

Geometry features heavily in Masonic symbolism, ritual and constitutions. However, Anderson’s Constitutions and other early speculative texts treat geometry as a sacred science revealing divine truth, rather than simply a practical skill of stonemasons. This aligns with Plato’s perspective in Timaeus that the study of geometry leads the mind towards higher levels of abstraction and glimpses of the universal Forms or ideals (Jowett, 1871). Geometry’s role in Masonry appears closer to the Neoplatonic conception of grasping eternal truths through abstraction.

Subtle references embedded in early rituals also exhibit Neoplatonic influence. Masonic scholar Edmond Mazet identified parallels between the third degree ceremony and a Pythagorean poem on mathematics published by Luca Pacioli in 1498, suggesting a direct link between 18th century Masonic ritual and Renaissance esoteric philosophy (Hutchinson, 2007). The exhortation that “we can do nothing without each other” in Masonic ritual hearkens to Plato’s assertion in his Timaeus that two elements require a third to unite them, reflecting the Neoplatonic triadic view of the universe (Jowett, 1871).


In conclusion, there is substantial evidence that speculative Freemasonry has roots in Renaissance Neoplatonic philosophy, based on the transmission of Florentine currents among English intellectuals in the 16th/17th centuries and vestiges of Neoplatonic concepts in early Masonic rituals and constitutions. The co-opting of the structure of operative masonry as a vehicle for transmitting neo-Platonic ideals of humanism, geometry as divine wisdom, and self-knowledge as the path to enlightenment appears to be a driving ideological force in early speculative Freemasonry. This challenges the standard narrative and opens new avenues for continued research into the metaphysical origins of the Craft.


  • Allen, M.J. (2015). Marsilio Ficino on Plato’s Pythagorean Eye. Renaissance Quarterly, 68(4), 1143-1172.
  • Blumenthal, H.J. (1993). Plotinus in the Light of Twenty Years’ Scholarship, 1951-1971. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, 36(1), 528-570.
  • Faulkner, R.K. (2017). Francis Bacon and the Project of Progress. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Farmer, S.A. (1998). Syncretism in the West: Pico’s 900 Theses (1486). Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 167.
  • Ficino, M. (1975). Commentaries on Plato (M.J.B. Allen, Trans.). Harvard University Press.
  • French, P.J. (1972). John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus. Routledge.
  • Goodrick-Clarke, N. (2008). The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction. Oxford University Press.
  • Hanegraaff, W.J. (2012). Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hutton, S. (2017). British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford University Press.
  • Hutchinson, R. (2007). The Forgotten Truth: The Primacy of Consciousness. Quinta Essentia.
  • Jowett, B. (Trans.). (1871). Timaeus. The Dialogues of Plato. Scribner.
  • Kinney, A.F. (2001). Humanist Poetics: Thought, Rhetoric, and Fiction in Sixteenth-Century England. University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Kristeller, P.O. (1964). Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. Stanford University Press.
  • Mirandola, G.P. (1956). Oration on the Dignity of Man (A.R. Caponigri, Trans.). Regnery Publishing.
  • Nauert, C.G. (1965). Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought. University of Illinois Press.
  • Roberts, J. (2005). The Mythology of Secret Societies. Watkins Publishing.
  • Stevenson, D. (1988). The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century, 1590–1710. Cambridge University Press.
  • Woolhouse, R.S. (1993). Locke: A Biography. Cambridge University Press.
  • Yates, F. (1964). Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. Routledge.

Research Paper for the Masonic Lodge, Robert Burns Number 59, located in Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Masonic Rites and Rituals

In 1717, English medieval and operative masonry was on the decline. Four Lodges in London and Westminster united to form the Grand Lodge of London in an effort to save the institution. The concept of Masonic obedience was born. A few years later, in 1723, the Constitutions of Anderson were published, still recognized today as the founding charter of universal Freemasonry. The first article forever emphasized the essential requirement of traditional masonry: belief in God.

Guided by the Irishman Laurence Dermott, a number of Masons came to believe that the Grand Lodge of 1717 had altered the profound meaning of the ancient rituals too much, inherited from the transitional period and developed over the centuries. Taking the name Antients, they referred to their predecessors as Moderns. This dispute between the ancients and the moderns, which began in 1751, ended in 1813 with a reconciliation sanctioned by the famous Act of Union, establishing the current United Grand Lodge of England.

While it is true that this reconciliation came at the price of mutual concessions, scholars tend to believe that in the end, it was the Moderns who prevailed over the Antients. This opinion probably deserves some consideration, especially in light of the preliminary declaration of the Act of Union, which states: “It is hereby declared and enacted that pure ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem.” (1)

However, throughout the schism period, the dispute focused heavily on the Royal Arch. Its recognition in a quasi-jurisdictional plan can be credited to the Antients, which is significant considering the mystical inspiration of this degree they supported. At the same time, Masonic degrees had emerged everywhere Freemasonry had spread, to the point where they could number in the hundreds across the planet. Beneath the appearance of apparent minimalistic simplification, one can clearly see the power of this declaration in formulating the foundational principles upon which a traditional Masonic obedience is based; because here, the economy dictated by meaning prevails over the multitude of forms, thus aligning with the spirit of the Antients. (2)

It is within this framework that the English Emulation Rite was born. First under the auspices of the Reconciliation Lodge, which had set out “to promulgate and prescribe the pure and unaltered system of ritual and ceremony that reconciliation could happily restore to the English Order”; also through the efforts of the Grand Steward Lodge; and finally (to summarize) thanks to the creation in 1823 of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, which would give it its name and establish its definitive canon.

The history of the Emulation rite, which we have agreed to discuss in these lines, is distinguished by its complete intertwining with that of the United Grand Lodge of England since it is the corollary of its founding act. (3)

Historical research has allowed the reconstruction of what the ceremonies of the 18th century were as a whole. It can be observed, primarily in England, numerous ritual overlays on an original foundation. Continental Freemasonry, on the other hand, is based on much larger additions. For example, the chivalric aspect of the Rectified Scottish Rite and the significant elements of hermeticism and alchemy can be recognized in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Nevertheless, the original ritual had to survive in relative purity, with its touchstone being the operative symbolism drawn from the art of building. From this perspective – and strictly from this one – the Emulation rite undoubtedly remains one of the purest because it remains one of the most faithful to the original ritual. (4)

In this regard, and although definitively formulated in 1823, it asserts itself as a rite of the Antients, enriched with a dual character that gives it its unique mark. Structurally, it is a corollary of the Act of Union; and initiatively, it is an heir to the oldest duties of the builders. From these two lineages, it has preserved essential characteristics.

The first may surprise: in the pure sense of the word “rite” as we commonly apply it to Freemasonry, is Emulation still a rite? Yes. Not reduced or limited but contained within its three symbolic degrees, crowned by the Royal Arch, Emulation presents itself less as a rite than as the standard and synthetic way of working according to time-honored customs. In short, the Emulation rite does not claim any privilege or superiority regarding the moral and fraternal principles it teaches… But it distinguishes itself as a method. It is a ‘working,’ as our British Brothers themselves say.

The second aspect relates to reconciliation and should be credited to the “moderns.” The Constitutions of Anderson, published in 1723 in a political and religious climate that is beyond our scope of analysis, emphasized that the Lodge should be the Center of Union and that Freemasonry should guard against political or religious division. For this reason, all Christian elements were carefully removed from the ancient rituals. Emulation, from this perspective, is considered the most de-Christianized of Masonic systems. It should be noted that this provision, far from distancing Masons from their religious convictions, allows them to practice their faith with the utmost respect for others. Remembering also that these Constitutions place belief in God as the first requirement, the candidate is asked a very specific question on the day of their Initiation. It is straightforward, and they must answer it of their own volition: “In God.” As a result, this Great Light, though symbolic, which must always shine in a regular Lodge – we mean the Bible, a collection of the Holy Scriptures – will always be open to some page of the Old Testament, particularly a chapter referring to the Wisdom of King Solomon and the Construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

The third hallmark, which deserves the longest discussion, relates to the symbolism of the art of building that gives the Emulation rite its operative character.

Anyone who has tried, through their readings, to visit the Masonic edifice will be struck by the multitude of rites that have existed or still exist. Furthermore, these rites may appear so different from one another that the ultimate reality of Freemasonry, which is already difficult to grasp, may suddenly seem forever inaccessible. Therefore, as a guide, we can confidently state that Masonic rites, regardless of their esoteric content, can be divided into two classes.

One of these classes is called expressive or analytical. The French Rite, the Rectified Scottish Rite, and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, fall into this category. In addition to performing ceremonies, Brothers, following well-regulated procedures, are called upon to analyze the symbolism of their ritual, discover its hidden meanings, write up their research, and present their work (referred to as a ‘piece of architecture’) in an open Lodge.

The other class is referred to as meditative or intuitive. The York Rite, the Standard Scottish Rite, and of course, the Emulation system belong to this second category. All three draw their references and derive their symbolism from the art of building.

The first consequence, and certainly not the least, of this archaic heritage is to place oral transmission at the center of the work. Thus, the Emulation Mason will never cease, over the years, to learn the text and gestures of all the ceremonies practiced in the three degrees.

In ancient times, before the advent of written letters, operative masons were required to maintain the utmost discretion. Writing or drawing anything related to the craft would have been considered a violation of secrecy. Keeping the techniques and signs of recognition hidden from those who did not deserve them guaranteed the protection of their privileges and the preservation of the craft. Nowadays, as our rituals are printed, the reason for this requirement, rooted in medieval mentalities, has changed. The motive, certainly, but not its initiatic power!

First, because memorization, inherited from the archaic concept of secrecy, has become one of the paths to sanctifying work in the Lodge. Secondly, for psychological reasons, the more a Mason assimilates the ritual, the more he discovers it; the more he discovers it, the more he is initiated.

It may seem childish or naive that men burdened with the responsibilities imposed by society gather in the Lodge to practice the art of recitation. This misunderstands why the rite is called operative. Freemasons today no longer cut stones or raise timber; they shape their hearts. However, if the material has changed, there is no indication that the unfathomable depths of their being are any less resistant than the stone of old. And the working method that led our ancient Companions to build the masterpieces we know still holds its relevance when the task is not to build a facade but oneself. The gestures of the trade they repeated until approaching perfection are here transmuted into the performance of the ritual.

The Lodge aims to be a representation of the cosmos and the ineffable Perfection that the Eternal has placed within it. It is not necessary to demonstrate that man, due to his limitations, is incapable of conceiving its immensity. This is the origin of his insurmountable suffering. But he is offered immense consolation: that, unable to reproduce this Perfection, he can catch a glimpse of its physiognomy. Yet, he must take the paths that lead there, understanding that even the most modest undertakings are equally authorized. Thus, inspired by the noble simplicity of the gestures of our ancients, he will sacrifice to the constant learning of his ritual.

First confronted with the rebellion of his memory, he will then find his reason coming to his aid and will end up in a particular state of integration and grace. The humility of purpose, the wisdom of an undertaking free from presumption, and the imitation of the methods that made the greatness of the ancients will open the windows of his heart that overlook the ineffable physiognomy.

So, it is indeed the method that gives the Emulation rite its operative character, at least as much as the antiquity of its inspiration. Presented as the archetype of an ideal tracing board, the ritual does not tolerate interpretation but requires assimilation.

A “particular system of morality taught through allegory using symbols,” constant and diligent learning will free the meditative faculties of the adept, allowing him to unveil the meaning of symbols through the paths of intuition.

Free from any unnecessary intellectualism, this method encourages a kind of reconciliation of our inner contradictions beyond the methods familiar to ordinary consciousness. Emulation Masons do not come to the Lodge to shape stones but to verify that they have shaped them well while working outside the Temple. And when the time comes to open the symbolic work, they will enter the Lodge. They will enter on the level of equality, and the stones will fit into the harmony sanctified by well-prepared work.

Later, as the sun begins to decline and each worker receives what is due to him, the Brothers, united around their Worshipful Master, will share a frugal meal and partake of wine in honor of the Masonic authorities who guide the Order and the civil authorities who protect it.

“In the tradition of the Antients, no one can claim to be a Mason unless he delivers the word by memory and from the heart. Knowledge of the ritual is necessary and sufficient for the constitution of the body of love of the Lodge.”

(1) The highly mystical content of the Royal Arch does not need to be explained here. Open to all Master Masons, its practice is particularly suitable for Emulation Masons.

(2) This simplification did not extend to a number of lateral or perfection degrees.

(3) Nearly all English Lodges practice this rite or one of its close variants.

(4) The Standard Scottish Rite can rightfully claim a similar fidelity to its origins.

(5) In this text, the words “degree” or “grade” should be considered synonymous and without a distinction in meaning.”

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (A.A.S.R.), often referred to as the Scottish Rite, is a complex and multifaceted Masonic ritual system. In a few pages, it would be presumptuous to fully delve into the intricacies of the A.A.S.R. However, we will attempt to provide a concise summary of its history and its unique role within traditional Freemasonry.


The term “Scottish” is challenging to define and refers to a system that emerged in Scotland during the 16th century, distinct from the English Masonic system. It found its way to France in the late 17th century, primarily through Stuart exiles in St. Germain-en-Laye. Numerous Lodges, such as the “Louis d’Argent,” were established in Paris during this period, before the emergence of another Masonic system with English origins. The term “Scottish” became secondary and was later associated with the High Degrees system, known as “Ecossisme,” which appeared around 1740 without any geographic reference.

The term “Ancient” is connected to the Grand Lodge of the Ancients, founded by Laurence Dermott, but it was established after the Modern Grand Lodge of London. The intricate relationship between the Moderns and the Ancients makes it challenging to draw a clear distinction. Nevertheless, the Ancients are recognized for their traditional specificity and commitment to strict principles.

The epithet “Accepted” refers to the acceptance of non-craft members, such as political leaders and aristocrats, into symbolic Lodges. This acceptance likely contributed to the rise of the High Degrees within the Scottish Rite.

History of the Rite:

  1. The Scottish Rite originated in France during the second half of the 18th century, a period of political and social upheaval in Europe. It coincided with the spread of English Freemasonry on the continent. Supporters of the Stuarts established Lodges, which eventually led to the formation of the Provincial Grand Lodge of France in 1736.

  2. Sir Knight Ramsay, originally from Scotland, settled in France, converted to Catholicism, became a disciple of Fénelon, and breathed new life into Freemasonry. In a resounding speech delivered in 1737, Ramsay aimed to give Freemasonry a universal dimension, combining philosophy and spirituality with fraternity to transcend national boundaries and “unite minds and hearts.”

However, Ramsay’s role in the foundation of Ecossisme remains debatable, even though he opened up a new spiritual dimension for speculative Freemasonry, distinct from the Craft, emphasizing reflection and action.

  1. The Rite of Perfection: The birth of this Rite around 1740 can be attributed to the Comte de Clermont, who introduced degrees higher than the 3rd degree, including that of Master Mason, along with other degrees related to the consequences of the third-degree ceremony.

Thus, the Rite of Perfection in 25 degrees emerged, gathering degrees that had appeared in various parts of France but were quite similar. In 1780, the Rite of Perfection from the Clermont Chapter evolved into the Council of Emperors of the East and West.

The organization of the Rite was aristocratic and hierarchical. The Lodge was no longer the sole property of its Worshipful Master. Instead, the Scottish Lodge appointed a President for a year, and its legitimacy was derived from possessing constitutions from a mother Lodge that transmitted the rituals they used.

Ecossisme incorporated elements from the immemorial Tradition, offering a structured progression toward Knowledge. Beyond the construction of the Temple, the Scottish approach aimed to elevate individuals toward the Divine because “God is within Man, and this immanence reflects His transcendence,” as emphasized by Paul Naudon.

  1. The Birth of the Supreme Council of Charleston: Simultaneously with its development in France, Ecossisme crossed the ocean and spread to America. This was made possible by Etienne Morin, likely initiated in Bordeaux, who made numerous trips to the Caribbean and established a Scottish and symbolic Lodge in St. Domingue. After participating in the Constitutions of Bordeaux, Morin introduced the Rite of Perfection in 25 degrees in St. Domingue. His deputy, Francken, traveled to North America in 1767, patenting a Lodge of Perfection and a Grand Chapter of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret.

The A.A.S.R. originated from this point when Francken, in turn, patented the “eleven gentlemen of Charleston.” John Mitchell and Frederick Dalcho formed the first Supreme Council in 1801, with Count Auguste de Grasse-Tilly, who had arrived in St. Domingue in 1789 to settle an inheritance matter and was the son-in-law of Delahogue.

  1. Auguste de Grasse-Tilly founded the Supreme Council for the French West Indies in 1802 (Supreme Council of the French Islands of the Windward and Leeward) and returned to France to establish the Supreme Council for France in 1804. He also helped establish several Supreme Councils in Europe.

It is worth noting that Grasse-Tilly had been initiated in a Lodge in Paris, where he associated with notable figures such as Lafayette.

In 1806, he passed the leadership to Cambacérès. The Supreme Council was subsequently led by Duke Decazes, who revitalized the Rite, and other Sovereign Grand Commanders, including Viennet, who had to contend with various attempts at influence.

In 1894, the Supreme Council delegated its authority over the first three degrees to the Grand Lodge of France (G.L.F.). However, in 1965, when the G.L.F. refused to sever its ties with the Grand Orient (G.O.), around a thousand Brothers left the G.L.F. and joined the Grande Loge Nationale Française (G.L.N.F.).

The Supreme Council of the G.L.F. was declared irregular by American, Canadian, and Dutch Supreme Councils. The Supreme Council for France was then organized by Sovereign Grand Commander Charles Riandey and affiliated with the G.L.N.F.

  1. The Constitutional Foundations of the Supreme Councils of the A.A.S.R.: These are based on the Constitutions of 1762 and the Grand Constitutions of 1786, which exclusively define the characteristics and entity of the Supreme Councils.
  • The 1762 Constitutions (Bordeaux) created and organized a society of initiates, the Rite, divided into 25 degrees and 7 classes, with a power distribution aimed at establishing a Center connected to Tradition, upon which the entire Rite depended.

  • However, due to conflicts and rivalries, a new organization led by Frederick II of Prussia established the Grand Constitutions of 1786 in Berlin. These became the fundamental laws of the Order, defining the hierarchy into 33 degrees, asserting the core values of the Rite, and serving as the foundation for all Supreme Councils of the A.A.S.R., united under the motto: “Ordo ab Chao, Deus Meumque Jus.”


  1. Sources of the Rite: The A.A.S.R. drew from various initiatic currents, making it a synthesis of multiple traditions:
  • Egyptian, with its Hermetic branch
  • Greek, including Orphic and Pythagorean elements
  • Hebrew, with its Kabbalistic branch
  • Christian, intertwined with Alchemy
  • Predominantly, it absorbed Chivalric influences, especially from Teutonic and Templar traditions.

The A.A.S.R. achieves a rigorous unity within this diversity and defines itself as an initiatic, traditional, Masonic, chivalric, international, and universalist Order.

  1. The Goal: As emphasized in the Grand Constitutions of 1786, the ultimate aim of the A.A.S.R. is “the union, happiness, progress, and well-being of the human family in general, and of each individual.”

The initiatic journey in the Rite is conducted in homage to the Grand Architect of the Universe, whose interpretation is a matter of personal conviction. The Lodge displays the Volume of Sacred Law, typically the Bible, open on the Altar of Obligation. The initiated embarks on a spiritual quest, seeking the Lost Word, which gradually transcends individuality, elevating them to the realm of the absolute. This journey reconciles matter and spirit, leading to an understanding referred to as the Principle and symbolizing the state of the Holy Empire, a concept foundational to the A.A.S.R.

Despite the complexity of this approach, the Holy Empire, which implies a particular understanding of Tradition and spiritual realization on the esoteric plane, cannot be separated from a historical reality that aimed to unite spiritual authority and temporal power. The beginnings, history, and decline of the Holy Roman Empire are essential to this tradition. It existed in two forms: a political and a spiritual one. The Grand Constitutions of 1786 articulate a version of the spiritual tradition.

In summary, the concept of the Imperium gradually inspired the degrees of the A.A.S.R., culminating in the myth of the Holy Empire as the myth of Hiram waned. Like any myth, it invites us to explore its esoteric essence, providing access to another dimension and revealing the immanence of the Principle. Each individual must personally construct this Empire by embodying both royal and priestly functions, striving continuously toward the Absolute. This personal achievement should lead to collective action, fostering fraternity through a sacred worldview and seeking the unity of peoples and society. Temporally and spiritually, the Empire is a structured world centered around a core.

  1. Methodology: The Scottish method is based on a traditional understanding of the human being—body, soul, and spirit—and corresponding paths to spiritual realization: paths of knowledge, love, and action, intricately intertwined.

The Scottish initiatic journey offers a slow and structured progression through thirty-three degrees, each representing a state of being to attain, creating a certain degree of fulfillment within the individual.

These states are akin to the journeys described by Dante in the Divine Comedy, leading the initiate through successive purifications following stages of degradation and perfection toward their source, the divine immanence reflecting transcendence. This progression fosters harmonious development and an ethics that transcends mere morality. It is by no means dogmatic, allowing each individual the freedom to seek their own spiritual life. No one can substitute for another in this endeavor.

Under the auspices of the G.A.D.L.U., the A.A.S.R. primarily aims to convey the esotericism of the first three symbolic degrees, which remain essential. The High Degrees that follow allow for a gradual exploration of the esoteric aspects of the symbolic degrees, particularly through the challenges posed by the third-degree ceremony.

The hierarchy of the thirty-three degrees, in the form of a pyramid with a base and apex, can be categorized as follows:

  • Lodges of Perfection, or Solomonian degrees, covering degrees 4 to 14.
  • Chapters, comprising degrees 15 to 18.
  • Areopages, including degrees 19 to 30.
  • Tribunals, represented by the 31st degree.
  • Consistories, represented by the 32nd degree.
  • The Supreme Council, encompassing the 33rd degree.

This hierarchy culminates with the Supreme Council, which, under the leadership of the Very Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander, holds exclusive responsibility for preserving the doctrine and governing the Order both internally and externally.

Regarding its relationship with the profane world, the Scottish Rite refrains from direct involvement. The work conducted in the Lodge is based on the continual improvement of the initiate, and no political, religious, or other discussions are allowed. This does not mean that a Scottish Mason should seek a hermit’s life; quite the opposite. Their practice of distancing themselves from events allows for ethical consideration and necessary detachment before personal involvement. By actualizing the inner path, the initiate can become a role model.

Two centuries after its inception, the A.A.S.R. continues to fulfill its role as guardian of tradition and its commitment to universality.

We trace the life of the York Rite, first on its continent of origin, North America, whence the nickname (American Rite) before delving into the specificities and spirituality of a relatively lesser-known and minority rite in outside of the United States.

The Practice of Masonic Rituals in American Lodges

In the United States, the term “York Rite” refers to the entire system of supplementary degrees, or “side-degrees,” which, can sometimes leads to language confusion between “the use of North American-origin rituals within Symbolic Lodges,” and the practice of the aforementioned supplementary system.

American craft Lodges,  use what they call the “Ritual of Ancient and Accepted Masons” or “of Free and Accepted Masons,” depending on whether the Grand Lodge descends from the Ancients or the Moderns or, more simply, the Ritual of the Grand Lodge of New York, Missouri, etc. Each Grand Lodge possesses an “official” ritual, usually kept in the Grand Secretary’s safe, but allows for “Us & Customs” specific to each Lodge as long as they do not contradict the official ritual. National and District Grand “Lecturers,” who are experienced ritualists, annually visit the Lodges and ensure that they open, close, and confer degrees adequately.

Lodges consecrated before the creation of the Grand Lodge of their State can retain their original ritual. The same applies to Lodges established before the official ritual was published, creating a sometimes surprising mosaic for visitors. The Grand Lodge of the State of New York is typical of these practices: “Saint John Lodge” No. 1 uses a ritual very close to Emulation; the officers of “Independant Royal Arch Lodge” No. 2 are decorated as Royal Arch Masons; the ritual of “Union Française” Lodge No. 17, in the language of Molière, has incorporated elements of the French Rite brought by former colonists from the Caribbean who emigrated to New York. In the State of Missouri, a Lodge is proud to maintain the use, for its Worshipful Master, of a Davy Crockett-style fur hat instead of the traditional top hat, to remind everyone that it was founded by trappers. Having never needed to hide, American Freemasonry is full of picturesque and atypical examples that also enrich it and highlight the tolerance of Grand Lodges.

Thus, within the same State or from one State to another, the visiting Brother will immediately recognize the ritual framework that he practices, which is common to most Lodges. He will invariably find a central altar and the seats of the Worshipful Master and Wardens in their usual places but may be surprised by the absence of “dogmas” regarding the arrangement of the Lodges, the arrangement of other officers, and certain specific points of the ritual, especially if they are very old Lodges. American Brothers easily accommodate these differences since the phraseology is almost identical. A 1st Deacon of a Lodge in Wisconsin can easily perform the same function in a Lodge of the American-Canadian Grand Lodge in Germany, practicing the Texan ritual, after the Worshipful Master has explained to him in a few minutes how the processions are conducted. The question-and-answer sessions between officers from different Masonic backgrounds do not affect the ceremonies in any way, as, with minor differences in phrasing, what is asked and answered is entirely compatible.

Since the “Morgan Affair,” allegedly a former captain, supposedly murdered by Freemasons on September 11, 1826, after threatening to reveal “the authentic secrets of the Craft,” and in the face of the anti-Masonic campaigns that Lodges endured and the multitude of fake Brothers in possession of the grips and words of all degrees, workshops developed the habit of opening, closing, and conducting all administrative business at the Master Mason degree. This trend is still widely practiced today, although many Grand Lodges now allow the opening and closing of work at the Entered Apprentice degree.

In terms of rituals, Grand Lodges all have different policies. Some prohibit any form of printing, justifying this decision by the strict application of the solemn Obligation that Apprentices contract. Others allow coded printing where only the initial letters of each word or “Monitors” appear. Still, others allow the printing of rituals “in plain text,” like the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, but such cases are rare.

These restrictions have created and always created some difficulties in the oral transmission of rituals, forcing Lodges to establish a personalized system of instruction for the Brothers. Remember that each salary increase is subject to the presentation of work on the proper knowledge of the previous degree, in the form of questions and answers. The almost systematic absence of written support has always forced Lodges to use the services of a “mentor” to guide young Brothers or to establish Instruction Committees to help them learn their “proofs of proficiency.”

The significant loss of members, initiated since the 1960s and exacerbated by the prohibition of publishing rituals, forced some Grand Lodges, like Lodges under their auspices, to change their operating mode. It has now become increasingly common to see “one day class” events organized all over the United States, where all candidates presented by Lodges from a State or from several Districts within a State receive the three symbolic degrees in a single day, conferred by a team of experienced and skilled ritualists. Grand Lodges resistant to the “one day class” principle have organized “Degree Teams,” at the National or District level, to confer degrees in struggling Lodges.

At the Lodge level, the practice of memorizing is the rule for officers. It is also extremely common to see the same “Degree Team” principle for each degree, with the Worshipful Master in the East having, at worst, to open, close, and manage the Lodge’s current affairs. Salary increases are generally very fast, especially compared to European continental rites, and it is very common for Masters to be raised three months after their initiation, but during this time, they receive personal and consistent instruction.

All of the above also applies to supplementary degree jurisdictions, mainly the Grand Chapters of Royal Arch, Grand Councils of Cryptic Masons, and Grand Commanderies, which form the bulk of the “York Rite” and allow candidates to progress harmoniously. It appears that this term “York Rite” is intended to provide a counterpart to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

Introduction of the York Rite in France

The soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John J. Pershing, entered the war alongside France starting on April 7, 1917. They brought with them nine Military Lodges, some of which worked in France until the armistice on November 11, 1918, and in Germany during the occupation. The last Military Lodge, under a Charter granted by the Grand Lodge of Virginia, ceased its work in 1922. We do not know if French Brothers participated in the work of these American Lodges, but it is a fact that both Pershing and Joffre were Freemasons.

After the war, in 1929, officers of the American armed forces stationed in Paris created a Chapter of “National Sojourners” under the distinctive titles and number of “Paris No. 98,” which is still active to this day. These Masonic clubs, created during the 1898 war against Spain, were intended to bring together scattered Masonic Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers, both to foster social connections among the Brothers and to circumvent certain administrative difficulties exacerbated by the distance and turnover inherent in the military. Indeed, and this is still the case today, most American Grand Lodges prohibited dual membership, and Brothers were then obliged to resign from their original Grand Lodge and, armed with an exeat, could then apply for admission to a new Grand Lodge.

During World War II, when American troops landed in France, both in the South and in Normandy, they did not bring Military Lodges this time, probably due to the existence of the Grande Loge Nationale Indépendante et Régulière pour la France et ses Colonies.

In the aftermath of the war, due to France’s adherence to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Treaty initiated in 1948, American and Canadian troops from the three armed forces stationed in France became increasingly numerous and included many Masons eager to open Lodges at their garrisons. The decision to move the headquarters to Paris in 1952 further reinforced this trend.

As was their practice, our American Brothers created National Sojourners clubs, mainly between 1953 and 1958, in major garrison cities such as Fontainebleau, Châteauroux, La Rochelle, and Poitiers, and simultaneously received Charters from the Grande Loge Nationale Indépendante et Régulière pour la France et ses Colonies.

Most Lodges naturally adopted the ritual of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, which had the advantage of being printed “in plain text” in English. Some Lodges used other rituals, especially Californian and Texan, transcribed from memory by Lodge officers based on the common foundation of Nova Scotia. As TRF Michel Gortchakoff rightly points out in his study of the York Rite, Lodges like “Lafayette No. 51” and “General John Pershing No. 62” continued to work uninterrupted with the Nova Scotia ritual in English until 1966. Similarly, the Respectable Lodges “Stability/Concorde No 29/42” have always worked in English, with the ritual of the Grand Lodge of California.

Spain, then under Franco’s dictatorship, prohibited the practice of Freemasonry on its territory, and American soldiers from NATO bases turned to the GLNF to establish Lodges near the border. This was notably the case for Liberty No. 70, created in 1960 in Biarritz, and then moved to the Torrejon Air Base near Madrid. Other Lodges, John J. Kestly No. 60 and George Washington No. 69, also operated on the Rota base near Cadiz.

After the departure of NATO troops in 1966, most “American” Lodges in France, to which French Brothers also belonged, continued to work using sometimes approximate translations of the practiced rituals, including that of Nova Scotia. Subsequently, new Lodges of the GLNF also decided to practice this American ritual. And quoting M. Gortchakoff again: “(…) the new workshops that were created, working in this spirit, were also said to be of the Rite of Nova Scotia, but because of adaptations to certain usages of the Grande Loge Nationale Française on the one hand and improvisations made necessary by the obscuration of certain passages, by translation approximations, and above all by the lack of oral transmission in gesture (signs, salutes, movements, placement of certain symbols), by the de facto establishment of certain usages, none of the Lodges called Nova Scotia in France really work in the Rite of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia,” even though the essence or foundation of the ritual is purely American.

Subsequently, numerous different translations of the same original ritual were scattered by Brothers as Lodges were created, and several different rituals are still in use today. Since orality is the rule in workshops practicing the American system, any change in ritual is very difficult to implement since the founding Brothers of a Lodge naturally import the ritual they know by heart into newly created workshops. Thus, it is not uncommon to see “York” Lodge in the same  Province using different rituals, certainly very similar in spirit, but with enough differences in phraseology, officer arrangement, or movements that partial relearning is necessary.

Practice of the York Rite and Specifics of the Ritual

Lodges practicing the “York Rite” are immediately recognizable by the presence of a central Altar flanked by three candlesticks to emphasize the importance of the Volume of Sacred Law. Indeed, the “York Rite” is centered around the Bible, which, unlike other Rites, is placed physically at the center of the Lodge, a specificity that is found in all degrees of the system. Its opening and closing, as well as the transitions from one Book to another, as required by the ritual, undergo a very particular and unique ceremony in the Masonic landscape. It is not uncommon to see other Volumes of Sacred Law, such as the Quran, the Torah, or the Upanishads, or others, placed on the central Altar of York Lodges, alongside the Bible.

As in all Lodges, solemn Obligations are taken on the Bible. However, and this is another specificity of York, processions are also conducted around the Bible, and the Signs of the Oath, or “Due Guard,” systematically refer to the hand positions on it. Similarly, long ritual passages remind candidates of the obligations they owe to the Bible: protection, study of its contents, etc. Even if the custom has been lost in most GLNF workshops, it is still customary in all American Lodges to offer a Bible dedicated by all the Brothers present to candidates newly raised to the rank of Master Mason.

Spirituality of the York Rite

The York ritual particularly emphasizes the presence of the Bible in the Lodge, and therefore in the lives of the Brothers, by placing it at the center of the Lodge room and at the very heart of Masonic commitment. A lengthy exhortation on the Bible, unique among all Masonic rituals, takes place immediately after the solemn Obligation of the 1st degree and emphasizes this importance:

“If it ever happened that the atheist, the infidel, the irreligious, or the libertine could tear the Bible from our Altars (…) then we could no longer claim the noble title of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons. But as long as this Holy Light shines on our Altars, as long as it illuminates the path followed by Masons with the golden rays of Truth (…), Freemasonry can live and exercise its beneficial influence on humanity. Therefore, stand watch over this Book of the Sacred and Immutable Law as if it were your very life. Defend it as you would defend the flag of your country; live according to its divine teachings, with its eternal assurance of blessed immortality.”

According to the degrees, the Bible is opened to different passages as follows:

  • Psalms 133, at the degree of Apprentice
  • Amos 7, at the degree of Fellow Craft
  • Ecclesiastes 12, at the degree of Master Mason.

This choice marks the ritual stages that the candidate goes through in his Masonic and spiritual progression, from the joy of the Brothers coming together to the end of existence. These passages are also read by the Chaplain during the reception ceremonies in the three degrees.

Far from being morbid, the concept of the inevitable death of the physical body and the eternal life of the soul is announced clearly from the 1st degree, during the presentation of the apron to the young Apprentice Brother:

“It is now yours, to wear throughout an honorable life, and upon your death, may it be laid in the coffin that will contain your mortal remains (…), and when your trembling soul stands alone and naked before the great white throne to receive the judgment of your earthly life’s deeds, may it be your lot to be greeted by these words, from He who is the Supreme Judge: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.'”

Divine omnipresence is also reflected in the decorations of the Brothers and the Lodge, notably through the presence of an All-Seeing Eye embroidered or printed on the flap of the Master Masons’ aprons, and the letter “G” in the East.

The Brother who leads the candidates is a Deacon  and not an “Expert” as found in most other rites. The word Deacon is used in its original and religious sense of altar server, ceremonial assistant, and messenger of the divine word. Indeed, it is he who, by order of the Worshipful Master, opens the Lodge door wide for the candidate’s entry, declaring: “Let him enter, in the name of the Lord, into this Respectable Lodge and be received according to the ancient and duly established forms.”

Additional York Rite Bodies

The York Rite allows for a harmonious initiatic journey through its different degrees, through the Word, lost in the Lodge, found in the Royal Arch, preserved in the Cryptic, and sublimated in the Order of the Temple. Here is how the York system is organized in France.

Symbolic Lodges confer the degrees of:

  • Apprentice 
  • Fellow Craft 
  • Master Mason 

Chapters of Royal Arch confer the degrees of:

  • Mark Master 
  • Past Master 
  • Most Excellent Master 
  • Royal Arch Mason 

Councils of Cryptic Masons, or Councils of Royal and Select Masters, confer the degrees of:

  • Royal Master 
  • Select Master 
  • Super Excellent Master 

Commanderies of the Order of the Temple confer the degrees of:

  • Knight of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross 
  • Knight of the Order of the Temple 
  • Knight of Malta 

The Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor (O.S.C.P) confers the degree of Knight Preceptor on Commanders (and Preceptors) who have presided over a Commandery (or Preceptory) of the Order of the Temple, in addition to that of Installed Preceptor. The Priory K.Y.C.H (Knights of the York Cross of Honour) confers the degree of Knight of the York Cross of Honour on Brothers who have presided over a Lodge, a Chapter of Royal Arch, a Council of Cryptic Masons, and a Commandery of the Order of the Temple.

Finally, note the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and its affiliated Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of Saint John the Evangelist, which harmoniously complement the degrees of Lodge, Chapter, and Council by giving them a Christian meaning.


The Standard Scottish Rite (Rite standard d’Écosse, RSE) is the French designation for an Anglo-Saxon Masonic rite that traces its origins back to the early 17th century within the original Scottish lodges. These lodges, such as Mary’s Chapel and Kilwinning No. 0, were established even before 1598. Despite its early beginnings, the ritual of this rite was not formally documented until the 19th century.

What sets the Standard Scottish Rite apart from other English-speaking Masonic traditions is its unique characteristic of being passed down orally and learned by heart by all members of a lodge. This practice, akin to the way cathedral stonecutters might have safeguarded their trade secrets through oral transmission, is a distinguishing feature of the Scottish Rite. Furthermore, the Scottish Rite is notable for its close connection with the complementary degree known as the “Master of the Mark.”

In the English language, the term “standard” in “The Standard Ritual of Scottish Freemasonry” conveys the idea of something being “common.” It doesn’t specify one particular ritual over another. Instead, it alludes to the elements shared in the practice of the ritual among Scottish lodges. These lodges are free to adapt the ritual according to their own specific practices, in keeping with the tradition of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Similar to many contemporary Masonic rites, the Standard Scottish Rite was codified during the 19th century. The version currently in use dates back to 1969 and is titled the “Standard Ritual of Scottish Freemasonry.”

In France, access to the Standard Scottish Rite has been available within French Masonry for approximately a decade. It is practiced by several Masonic bodies, including GLNF and, since February 9, 2008, by GLTSO. GLAMF has embraced this rite since its inception, and more recently, in 2015, GLTF has also adopted it. The ritual used in France was translated from English in 1986 based on the version titled “The ‘Standard’ Ritual of Scottish Freemasonry,” originally published in Edinburgh in 1969.

In the Standard Rite, the focus is on ensuring that everyone feels warmly welcomed in an atmosphere of great trust. This rite gets straight to the essentials in a spirit of warm brotherhood. As in other rites highly oriented towards orality, a practice by heart is encouraged.

French Rite

  • In July-August 1785, the Grand Orient of France (G.O.D.F.) established the ritual for the first three degrees for the Lodges under its jurisdiction. The approved handwritten manuscripts corresponded to the ritual practiced within the Lodges of the French Rite of the G.L.N.F.

  • From 1784 to 1786, the Grand Chapitre Général de France determined the rituals for the Higher Degrees, divided into four Orders. The handwritten manuscripts for these four Orders correspond to the rituals practiced today within the Grand Chapitre Français.

  • On February 2, 1788, the Grand Chapitre Général de France relinquished its autonomy to become part of the G.O.D.F., establishing the system of 7 degrees that would later be called the French Rite.

  • In 1801, all seven rituals of the French Rite were printed and published, titled “Régulateur du Maçon” for the symbolic grades and “Régulateur des Chevaliers Maçons” for the Higher Degrees.

Contemporary History

  • In June 1979, the French Rite returned to regularity with the contributions of Brothers from the G.O.D.F., the G.L.T.S Opéra, and the Loge Nationale Française. The first two Lodges consecrated were “Les Anciens Devoirs” No. 238 and “Saint Jean Chrisostome” No. 239.

  • On February 9, 1999, a protocol agreement was signed between Claude CHARBONNIAUD, Grand Master of the Grande Loge Nationale Française (G.L.N.F), and Roger GIRARD, Supreme Commander of the Grand Chapitre Français, emphasizing the perfect alignment of their concepts of Regular Freemasonry and recognizing the authority and regularity of the Grand Chapitre Français (G.C.F) to govern the Higher Degrees of the French Rite.

Presentation of the French Rite

The term “French Rite” refers to the rituals and regulations developed in the 1780s, officially adopted in 1785 for the three “blue” or “symbolic” degrees and between 1784 and 1786 for the Higher Degrees. These documents, mainly the rituals, transcribed in a more suitable form for the use of Lodges and Chapters today, form the basis of the current practice of the French Rite, under the G.L.N.F. for the blue degrees and within the Grand Chapitre Français for the Higher Degrees.

A very important point to emphasize is that the rituals we have just mentioned only existed and were circulated in handwritten form during the 18th century. In 1801, they were printed under the title “Régulateur du Maçon” for the blue degrees and “Régulateur des Chevaliers Maçons” for the Higher Degrees. As a result, the French Rite is often characterized, especially for the blue degrees, as the “Rite of the Régulateur du Maçon of 1801.” This label is unfortunate because it seems to suggest that the Rite originated only in 1801. In reality, it dates back to the 1780s. It is difficult to assign it an exact date because the development of the rituals and their adoption was a process that spanned several years, with the final adoption being the culmination of this process.

It should also be noted that sometimes an earlier origin is attributed to the French Rite, going back to around 1760. Such claims result from confusion about what is meant by the “French Rite.” The precise definition we have given for this Rite, which places its historical origin in the 1780s, is the only accurate one and does not trace it back any earlier. Of course, when it was developed during those years, this Rite was not created ex nihilo. Before 1780, there was a relatively homogeneous French Masonic practice, and the French Rite, as defined here, is deeply rooted in this earlier practice.

In general, it can be stated that none of the Rites practiced today can claim a historical origin earlier than 1780. However, all these Rites are more or less deeply rooted in traditions that predate 1780, and each of them represents a particular implementation of these traditions. Therefore, a Rite cannot be defined solely by the traditions from which it derives, as these traditions are shared with other Rites that implement them differently. The definition of a Rite necessarily includes the particular way in which it has implemented the older traditions it shares with others, and its historical origin cannot be assigned to a time earlier than when this specific implementation was realized. Thus, it is essential to emphasize once again that the historical origin of the French Rite must be situated in the 1780s, neither earlier nor later. This makes it one of the oldest Rites currently practiced since no Rite practiced today can claim a historical origin predating it.

Now, let’s make some remarks about the term “French Rite.” This appellation does not date back to the historical origin of the Rite as we have just defined it. Nor does it trace back to the origins of French Freemasonry, of course. In fact, it did not appear until the last years of the 18th century. From that time on, throughout the 19th century, it referred to the “French Rite” as we have defined it, namely, the system of seven degrees adopted on the mentioned dates. However, even the Grand Orient did not originally christen its system as the “French Rite.” This appellation never appeared in the original rituals and regulations or in the deliberations where these rituals and regulations were approved. The earliest known use of the term “French Rite” can be found in the minutes of a deliberation of the Chambre d’Administration of the Grand Orient dated December 25, 1799, which mentions a lodge established in New York “under the French Ritual.” However, this appellation was not yet firmly established at that time since another deliberation dated March 24, 1800, simply referred to the “system of the Grand Orient.”

In fact, the appellation seems to have been coined in opposition to the “Scottish Rite.” The term “Scottish” originally referred to the Higher Degrees; it initially described a certain class of Higher Degrees. Later, its meaning was sometimes extended to refer to all of the Higher Degrees in Freemasonry, and because there was not a strict separation in the 18th century between Higher Degrees and blue degrees, the term “Scottish” came to be applied by some Rites to their entire system, including the blue degrees. Thus, in the final years of the Old Regime, there was a system that is no longer practiced in France, officially titled the “Philosophical Scottish Rite.” This designation appears in documents from Avignon in the 1780s, as this Rite had been developed in Avignon. This Rite, as practiced in those years, differed only slightly from that of the Grand Orient in the blue degrees and mainly in the Higher Degrees. As for the Rite we now call the “Rectified Scottish Rite,” it also existed in the 1780s but was not yet called that; it was simply known as the “Rectified Rite.” However, it was governed, including in its blue degrees, by organizations called “Scottish Directorates.”

For their part, the organizations that governed the French Rite called it the “Grand Orient System” in their documents. The use of the term “French Rite” to describe this system appears to have been a reaction to the growing influence of the Rectified Rite. This appellation emphasized the local origin of the French Rite as opposed to the Rectified Rite, which was of foreign origin. There were other Rites that had been imported into France, such as the Swedish Rite. The term “French Rite” also emphasized the autonomy of the Grand Orient in its ritual practice, as opposed to Rites under the aegis of Scottish Directorates, particularly that of the Rectified Rite. This was the sense in which the term “French Rite” was first used. This is not to say that the rituals of the Rectified Rite, or any other foreign Rite, were practiced within Lodges of the Grand Orient. However, as was mentioned earlier, the Rectified Rite was widely practiced in 18th-century France, particularly in its blue degrees, which were governed by Scottish Directorates. The term “French Rite” was therefore used to distinguish the system practiced under the aegis of the Grand Orient from the Rectified Rite. The fact that this term is still used today as the appellation of a Rite in France is due to its adoption as such by those who practiced it when they returned to regularity in 1979.

The Higher Degrees of the French Rite

The Higher Degrees of the French Rite are governed by the Grand Chapitre Français (G.C.F). This body is independent of the Grand Lodge, and the Brethren it governs need not necessarily be members of the G.L.N.F. in order to practice these degrees, although in practice, most of them are. This independence has consequences for the organization of French Lodges. Indeed, a single body governs all the degrees of the Scottish Rite or the Rectified Scottish Rite, for example. The Brethren of the blue degrees are governed by the Grand Lodge and can, therefore, elect their own officers and to a large extent manage their own affairs. The Brethren of the Higher Degrees, by contrast, are governed by the Grand Chapitre Français, which is a central body, just as is the Supreme Council of the Rectified Scottish Rite. The blue degrees are the responsibility of individual Lodges, which, however, must operate according to the rules established by the Grand Lodge. This autonomy can be extended to the Brethren of the Higher Degrees, but the authority to do so is not delegated to Lodges, but to the Grand Chapitre Français.

The Grand Chapitre Français governs the Higher Degrees of the French Rite, which is organized as follows:

  1. Order of Saint John of Jerusalem: This is the continuation of the three blue degrees, and its rituals are practiced in Lodges.

  2. Chapter of Saint Andrew: This Order governs the four “crown” degrees.

  3. Sovereign Chapter of the Lodge of Perfection: This Order is parallel to the Chapter of Saint Andrew, but its authority is more extensive. It governs all degrees of the French Rite above the Craft degrees, whereas the Chapter of Saint Andrew only governs the four “crown” degrees.

  4. Council of Princes of Jerusalem: This Order oversees the three degrees of the Royal Arch.

  5. College of the Holy Spirit: This Order is responsible for the two degrees of the Knights Kadosh.

  6. Council of the Grand Master of the Royal Secret: This Order governs the three highest degrees of the French Rite.

Please note that the French Rite, like many other Masonic Rites, uses historical and symbolic narratives in its rituals. The specific content and symbolism of these degrees may vary, but they typically include teachings related to moral and ethical principles, as well as historical or allegorical lessons. The degrees often involve the use of symbolic tools, regalia, and rituals to convey these teachings to the initiates. The exact details of each degree within the French Rite can vary between different jurisdictions and Masonic bodies that practice this Rite.

The French Rite, like other Masonic Rites, places a strong emphasis on personal and moral development, as well as the principles of brotherhood, charity, and mutual support among its members. Each degree within the Rite is designed to provide initiates with a unique set of lessons and insights to aid in their personal growth and understanding of Masonic values.

In this text, it is noticeable that the intention of standardization is accompanied by an intention to return to ‘ancient customs’ and their ‘ancient and respectable purity.’ This should be taken with a grain of salt. If there is indeed an authentic effort of simplicity in the ceremonies in the 1785 ritual, it is by no means the restoration of the initiation ritual as it was in the early days of Freemasonry in France. Innovations have been sorted, but not all eliminated; on the contrary, several of them have been retained and formalized, as can be seen sufficiently from the examples we have given.

This effort to organize and standardize was not the first of its kind, and it was not isolated in French Freemasonry in the 1780s. It had at least one precedent outside the Grand Orient. This was the case with the Mother Scottish Lodge of Marseille, which we know had adopted official rituals as early as 1774 and communicated them to lodges to which it granted constitutions, with an obligation for these lodges to conform to these rituals. We have also mentioned the ritual entitled ‘grade of Apprentice of the Lodges of Lyon in 1772.’ It could be, although it is not certain, the official ritual of the Grand Lodge of Regular Masters of Lyon. It seems, therefore, and it is certain in the case of the Mother Scottish Lodge of Marseille, that Masonic authorities in the provinces had preceded the Grand Orient in this endeavor. Furthermore, in the 1780s, there was a contemporary and parallel endeavor, the result of which has come down to us: that which produced the rituals of the Rectified Scottish Rite. The development of the rituals of the French Rite is therefore part of a broader movement that corresponded to a need felt throughout French Freemasonry.

Based on this historical study, we can specify the place of the French Rite, if not in the whole of Freemasonry practiced worldwide, at least in that practiced in France.

The best way to characterize the place of the French Rite is to say that it is the most faithful representative, among the rites currently practiced in France, of the common practice of 18th-century French Freemasonry. This results from what we have already said, namely, that it is nothing more than the result of an effort to organize and standardize this practice. This answers, we believe, a question that is often asked: what is the specificity of the French Rite? To this question, we willingly respond that the specificity of the French Rite is not to have one. If it indeed has one, it is only to be representative of a certain common Masonic tradition, from which other rites with distinctive characteristics have branched out.

Comparison with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite also allows us to clarify a point that we touched on but left unresolved: the origin of the appellation ‘Rite Moderne.’ This appellation, like that of ‘Rite Français,’ was not chosen by the founders of the Rite; it was introduced later. In fact, it was first given, from the outside, to the French Rite by the Masons of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, who, following the example of the English Grand Lodge of the ‘Ancients,’ called their own Rite ‘Ancient Rite’ and called the French Rite ‘Modern Rite.’ This is evident in the Guide des Maçons Ecossais, in which the Worshipful Master, after instructing the newly initiated on the words, signs, and grips of the Apprentice degree, says:

‘My Brother, Masonry is known throughout the world, although it is divided into two Rites, distinguished as Ancient Rite and Modern Rite. Nevertheless, they are based on the same foundations, the same principles. We work under the Ancient Rite, or Scottish Rite, because it is the purest essence of Masonry, because it is the same as was transmitted to us by the first founders of the Order. Here are now the words, signs, and grips of the Modern Rite…'”

Despite the polemical intent it contained, this linking of the French Rite to the English Grand Lodge known as the ‘Moderns’ was not without foundation, insofar as, as we have said, the ritual practice codified in the 1785 ritual and in the Regulateur du Maçon of 1801 was in line with that of this Grand Lodge, without this Grand Lodge having played an exclusive or even preponderant role in the introduction of Freemasonry in France. The Masons of the French Rite, although sensitive to the pejorative intent that had accompanied its introduction, could not prevent the success of the appellation ‘Moderns’ and had to accommodate it, while not missing an opportunity to affirm that the ‘Modern’ Rite was no less ancient than the ‘Ancient’ Rite. As for us, without entering into this dispute, we can only note that the appellation ‘Modern Rite’ and that of ‘French Rite’ imposed themselves rather quickly, as synonyms for each other, during the first one or two decades of the 19th century.

It should be noted that the appellation ‘Modern Rite’ even extended to the system of high degrees of the French Rite, although in this case, unlike the blue degrees, it had no historical justification. The high degrees of the French Rite have nothing to do, no more than those of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, with the Grand Lodge of the ‘Moderns,’ which did not practice high degrees. Both the high degrees and the blue degrees are part of the common fund of high degrees that flourished in France in the 18th century.

The history of the origin of the high degrees of the French Rite includes rather complex developments. We will only recall the main points. The work was begun by the Chamber of Degrees of the Grand Orient of France, created in 1782 with the specific mission of developing the system of high degrees intended to become the official system of the Grand Orient. This work was guided by the same concern for organization and standardization that we have seen in the development of the blue degree rituals. Already in the blue degrees, this work had included an aspect of selection among the ritual developments that had occurred over half a century of French Freemasonry (for example, some somewhat grand-guignol trials had been rejected). This aspect of selection was even more necessary for the high degrees because there were many of them and they existed in many different versions, including both the best and the worst. Therefore, the Chamber of Degrees began with a preliminary documentation task, which involved collecting grade notebooks, studying them, and classifying them, in order to be able to proceed to the second stage, which would be the writing of the high degrees that would be retained.

The Chamber of Degrees carried out this documentary task with great seriousness, but for reasons that are not well known, it never moved on to the second stage, that of writing the high degrees. From the beginning of 1783, it dealt, as we have seen, with the writing of the blue degrees, although this was not the task initially assigned to it. The writing of the high degrees was carried out within an organization that some members of the Chamber of Degrees, led by Roéttiers de Montaleau (himself again), created on the sidelines of the Grand Orient on February 2, 1784, and called the Grand General Chapter of France. These Brothers did not intend to establish a rival organization to the Grand Orient but only, it seems, to have the freedom to carry out the work of writing the high degrees as they saw fit and then to submit the result of this work to the Grand Orient.

The leaders of the Grand General Chapter of France intended to unite their Grand Chapter with the Grand Orient of France, and they initiated negotiations for this purpose. These negotiations dragged on for various reasons, which are of more or less anecdotal interest. They finally led to the long-awaited merger, the principle of which was voted on in the 178th assembly of the G.O.D.F. on May 4, 1787, and the details of which were specified in subsequent assemblies. With this merger, the system developed by the Grand General Chapter of France became the official system of high degrees of the Grand Orient.

What did this system consist of? The members of the Grand General Chapter of France, relying on the documentary work they had done in the Chamber of Degrees, classified the high degrees into five ‘orders.’ This notion of an ‘order’ was a novelty and should not be confused with that of a ‘degree.’ An order is a set of degrees, with each degree itself potentially having several versions. The first order included the degrees of Elu, but also a certain number of other degrees that were usually conferred between the Master Mason degree and the Elu degrees. The second order included the Scottish degrees. The third order essentially included a single degree, that of Knight of the East, and the same was true for the fourth order, corresponding to the degree of Rose-Croix. All degrees that did not fit into the previous orders were grouped into a fifth order. The Grand General Chapter of France decided to write a single degree for each of the first four orders, which belonged to that order. For the first order, it was the degree of Elu Secret; for the second order, it was the degree of Grand Elu Ecossais. For the third order, a version of the degree of Knight of the East was adopted, and for the fourth order, a version of the degree of Rose-Croix was adopted. These four degrees were intended to be practiced. For the fifth order, no degree was written, as the degrees belonging to this order were not intended to be practiced but only studied. Thus, the initiatic journey of a Mason in the French Rite, in the high degrees, involves four degrees: the degree of Elu Secret, received in the Chapter of the first order; the degree of Grand Elu Ecossais, received in the Chapter of the second order; the degree of Knight of the East, received in the Chapter of the third order; and the degree of Knight Rose-Croix, received in the Chapter of the fourth order.

When one compares the high degrees of the French Rite with the high degrees of other Rites, one realizes that the different high-degree systems were made from the same material, namely, the wealth of grades offered by French Freemasonry before 1780. Each Rite has treated this material in its own way, choosing to retain more or fewer grades, keeping adjacent grades separate or, on the contrary, reducing them to a single degree. That is why there are themes that are found in several systems, but in one system, they are found in different degrees, while in another system, they are combined into a single degree.

The choice of the degrees to be retained, and of the particular version to be adopted or written, the relationship between the degrees, the progression from one to another, give each Rite its own character. This applies both among the high degrees and between them and the blue degrees because, for the French Rite at least, all these degrees were designed to form a coherent whole (let us not forget that the work on the blue degrees and the work on the high degrees were done by the same men).

This character expresses a spirit, and there is undeniably a spirit of the French Rite, just as there is a spirit of each of the other Rites. However, we will not attempt to define it here, sticking to the historical perspective that has guided us throughout this note. The spirit of a Rite cannot be encapsulated in a few concise sentences, especially when, as is the case with the French Rite, it has no explicit doctrine, and its spirit is expressed solely through its rituals. When attempting to describe the spirit of a Rite briefly, even when it has a doctrine, one is prone to approximations, reductions, and misunderstandings. In fact, the spirit of a Rite can only be discovered from within, through diligent attendance and practice of its rituals.”

Please note that some technical or specialized terminology may have nuanced meanings and interpretations that are context-specific.

The Rectified Scottish Rite is a Masonic and chivalric system that originated in France in the second half of the 18th century.

The Rectified Scottish Rite, and the Regime that serves as its vehicle, distinguish themselves from other Masonic systems both by their very clear genesis, with all the steps known precisely, as well as all the key figures who were at the center of their development, and by exceptional coherence. This coherence is primarily due to the fact that the founders of the Regime and the authors of the Rite had an extremely precise idea of the final result they wanted to achieve. They skillfully combined symbolic and ritual materials from different origins to create a cohesive, educational, and initiatory work.

The Rectified Scottish Rite is conveyed through a structural organization, the Rectified Scottish Regime, originally divided into three classes (craft, chivalric, and priestly). These classes replicate the three higher divisions of any traditional society, although only the first two are regularly practiced in France today.

Its basic principles include:

  1. Fidelity to the Christian religion.
  2. Adherence to the preservation of both the ancient obligations of the Masonic Order, which are traditional rules of Regular Freemasonry, and the principles and Masonic and chivalric traditions specific to the Regime. These principles result from the Convents of Lyon in 1778 and Wilhelmsbad in 1782.
  3. The spiritual development of its members through the practice of inner self-improvement, overcoming passions, correcting flaws, and progressing toward spiritual realization, as well as the deepening of Christian esotericism.
  4. The constant practice of enlightened benevolence toward all men.

I – History of the Regime

The Rectified Scottish Rite was constituted and organized between 1774 and 1782 by two groups of Masons from Strasbourg and Lyon. The most important figures among them were Jean and Bernard de Turkheim and Rodolphe Saltzmann in Strasbourg, and especially the primary inspirer, the Mason from Lyon, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz. The foundation of the Rectified Scottish Rite was underpinned by a central idea that inhabited the man at the center of its birth, Jean Baptiste Willermoz.

Deeply convinced that Freemasonry was the vehicle for higher truths and that its true purpose was to enlighten man about his spiritual destiny, as well as to provide him with the means to reintegrate his primordial state, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz became the chief architect of the construction of the Regime and the Rectified Scottish Rite. He infused this construction with the doctrine it contains.

The sources of the Rectified Scottish Rite are manifold:

  1. French Freemasonry in use in the 18th century, specifically the French Rite.
  2. The Strict Observance, a German Masonic and chivalric system.
  3. The Martinist doctrine, transmitted by Dom Martines de Pasqually, and the Order of the Elus Cohens.
  4. The undivided Christian tradition, nurtured by the teachings of the Church Fathers.

To these sources, although not a direct source but proceeding from the same original inspiration, one can add the doctrine of the Unknown Philosopher, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin.

The French Rite

The French Freemasonry of the late 18th century, which would later be structured into a system called the French Rite, with its three degrees and four orders, and the multitude of “Scottish” degrees or systems existing at the time, provided the purely Masonic framework that would serve as a receptacle for additions from other sources. From the French Rite, elements such as the position of the J column, the allocation of letters to the first two degrees, the location of wardens, the practice of marching off with the right foot, the wearing of swords in the Lodge by the brothers, and several practices already in use on the continent, were preserved.

The Strict Observance Templar

The Strict Observance Templar, or Rectified Masonry of Dresden, a Masonic-chivalric system of Germanic origin founded between 1751 and 1755 by Charles de Hund, Baron of the Empire, Lord of Lipse in Upper Lusatia, was conceived as a framework for the moral reform of the German Masonic society. It brought together a part of the German nobility and aimed to be the heir and continuator of the Order of the Temple, claiming to possess the spiritual knowledge that the Templars were supposed to have had and projecting the restoration of the Order abolished in 1312.

The Strict Observance included an Inner Order of chivalry in two grades (the novitiate, a preparatory class for the second grade where one was dubbed a knight), based on a Masonic class in four degrees (Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master, Master Scotsman). This very principle would later be found precisely in the Rectified Scottish Rite.

The French Rite and the Strict Observance were the two formal sources that served as a receptacle for the most essential element according to Jean Baptiste Willermoz’s expectations—the teaching of Martines de Pasqually.

Martines de Pasqually and the Order of the Elus Cohens

Martines de Pasqually, an enigmatic figure born according to some sources in 1710, according to others in 1727, in Grenoble, Dom Martines de Pasqually, sometimes called Pasqually de la Tour or Latour de las Cases, died in Port-au-Prince on September 20, 1774.

A Catholic from a family of Spanish or Portuguese origin, probably of Marano descent, Martines de Pasqually immediately established himself as a great theosopher, a mage with emphasized powers, revered by his disciples as a master possessing wondrous knowledge, endowed with exceptional transcendent powers, a thaumaturge and theurgist.

His doctrine, which would inspire Jean-Baptiste Willermoz and form the central system that would become the Order of the Elect Cohens of the Universe, commonly known as the Order of the Elus Cohen, was presented in his unfinished work, “The Treatise on the Reintegration of Beings into Their First Properties, Virtue, and Divine Spiritual Power.” It laid out the ontological history of man, from his divine origin to his fall from his glorious original state, and the means of reintegration, through initiation, into this primordial state.

The Genesis of the Regime

Jean Baptiste Willermoz was intimately convinced from the moment he joined the Order that Freemasonry aimed to “enlighten man about his nature, his origin, and his destiny.”

Deeply impressed by Martines’ theosophical and theurgical teachings, immediately convinced that he was in contact with a purely traditional doctrine that he saw as the very truth of Masonry, and eager to disseminate it and share it, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz devoted himself to integrating this teaching, combined with the esoteric Christian tradition, into the Masonic framework. He made it the doctrinal foundation of the Regime.

Thinking initially that he had found the ideal asylum for his doctrine in the Strict Observance, he quickly realized that Hund’s system, focused primarily on temporal aspects, did not align with his purpose. He retained a few essential elements from the Strict Observance, which he used as a basis to develop the Rectified Scottish Rite. This Rite would become the means of spreading the truths that had provided him with “that inner peace of the soul,” as he described it.

The structure of the Regime

As conceived by Jean Baptiste Willermoz, the Rectified Scottish Regime was originally designed based on the divisions of any traditional society into three concentric classes, each corresponding to a specific initiation:

  • A Masonic class comprising four symbolic degrees: Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master, and Master Scotsman of St. Andrew.
  • A chivalric class, the Inner Order, consisting of two degrees: Novice Squire and Knight Beneficent of the Holy City.
  • A secret priestly class consisting of two categories: Professed and Grand Professed.

In addition to the ritual initiatory progression from degree to degree, there was an increasingly precise and explicit doctrinal teaching delivered through instructions, which were integral parts of the rituals for each degree.

This transformation of the Strict Observance into the Rectified Scottish Rite, along with the resulting structural, ritual, and doctrinal framework, was officially approved by two Convents:

  • The Convent of the Gauls, held in Lyon in November-December 1778, which ratified, among other things, the Masonic Code of the United and Rectified Lodges and the Code of the Order of the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. These texts remain the foundational documents, still in force, of the Regime.
  • The Wilhelmsbad Convention, held in Germany in August-September 1782, under the presidency of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Luneburg and Prince Charles of Hesse, who were then the main leaders of the Strict Observance. They rallied to the reform initiated at the Convent of the Gauls.

According to the decisions of the Convent of the Gauls, confirmed at the Wilhelmsbad Convention, the Rectified Scottish Regime had rejected the theory supported by the Strict Observance of historical lineage with the Order of the Temple. Instead, it retained the principle of spiritual lineage, based on participation in a common tradition, highlighted by the designation “Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.”

In addition, the last secret class, the Professed, dedicated to the deepening of doctrine through study and meditation, and to the vivification of the entire Order through example, was not officially endorsed at the Wilhelmsbad Convention, although it continued to be practiced secretly.

In terms of temporal organization, the Regime adopted, with some adaptations, the geographical division of the Strict Observance, inspired by that of the Templar Order, into nine Provinces. France was divided into three Provinces: Auvergne, Occitania, and Burgundy. During the 19th century, during the eclipse of the Order, the Independent Grand Priory of Helvetia, heir to the 5th Province of the Order, the Province of Burgundy, inherited the seals and powers of the other two Provinces, thus becoming the Custodian of the Regime worldwide.

Revived in France in 1910 by Edouard de Ribeaucourt, the Rectified Scottish Rite, along with Lodge Centre des Amis No. 1, was instrumental in the restoration of regular Freemasonry in France in 1913. This led to the founding of the Grande Loge Nationale Indépendante et Régulière pour la France et les Colonies, which has since become the Grande Loge Nationale Française. Today, it is practiced in accordance with regularity in France by over 4,500 Rectified Masons.

II – The Regular Rectified Scottish Rite in France Today

Administrative Structures of the Regime

The regular Rectified Scottish Rite in France is currently governed by three jurisdictions in amity:

  • The Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) governs the degrees of Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master within the Lodges of St. John.
  • The National Directorate of Rectified Scottish Lodges of France (DNLERF) governs the degree of Master Scotsman of St. Andrew within the Scottish Lodges or Lodges of St. Andrew.
  • The Grand Priory of Rectified Masonry in France (GPRF) governs the Inner Order.

The Grand Priory of Rectified Masonry in France received from the Independent Grand Priory of Helvetia, the custodian of the Regime, in the presence of representatives of all the regular Rectified Grand Priories in the world, the charters and letters patent authorizing it to create and consecrate all Prefectures, Commanderies, and Lodges of St. Andrew in France. As a result, it has become the legitimate successor of the 2nd and 3rd Provinces of the Order, the Provinces of Auvergne and Occitania.

The GPRF and the DNLERF, while legally distinct, are organically linked by a concordat under which the Directorate falls under the Masonic obedience of the Grand Priory.

In addition, by decree of its Grand Master, the GLNF has cemented its amicable relations with the other two jurisdictions of the Regime.

The Grand Priory of Rectified Masonry in France is governed, under the authority of the Grand Prior – National Grand Master, by a High Council composed of Grand Dignitaries of the Regime and the Priory Chapter. It is divided into Prefectures, further subdivided into Commanderies, each comprising at least three knights.

The National Directorate of Rectified Scottish Lodges of France is under the authority of the Deputy Grand Master General elected by the National Directorate and assisted by the National Council, composed of Active Grand Officers and co-opted members. It is divided into Provincial Directorates, which in turn are composed of Scottish Lodges.

Ritual Structure of the Regime

The Rectified Scottish Rite currently consists of six degrees, divided into two classes:

The Symbolic Class, where Masonic initiation proper is conferred.

It includes four degrees:

  • Three degrees practiced in the Lodges of St. John, called “blue Lodges” because of the color of their décor: Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master. These are designed as preparatory degrees, gradually leading to the actual realization proposed by the Rite.
  • One degree practiced in the Scottish Lodges, or Lodges of St. Andrew, called “green Lodges” for the same reason: the degree of Master Scotsman of St. Andrew. This degree synthesizes all the “high degrees” practiced in the 18th century, summarizing and completing the initiation imparted in the three previous degrees, bringing it to fruition. As a pivotal degree that concludes symbolic initiation and prepares for the actual realization proposed by the next class, it completes the purely Masonic structure of the Rite. It provides the Master Scotsman of St. Andrew with a vision of the effective and gradual initiatory journey that will lead to reintegration into God and the inner contemplation of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

This Symbolic Class is essentially focused on the mystical re-edification of Solomon’s Temple, or the effective reconstruction of the inner Temple of Man, in order to reestablish worship and unity with God through deepening faith, diligent practice of Christian virtues, and a profound understanding of the doctrine of the Rite and Christian esotericism.

If the Master Scotsman of St. Andrew demonstrates that he has effectively implemented the process of spiritual realization proposed by the Symbolic Class, he can then gain access to the Inner Order.

The Inner Order, a Christian chivalric order.

Unlike many “high degrees,” the Inner Order is neither a philosophical degree nor a “chivalric” degree. It involves the actual implementation of the work of spiritual realization, as taught in the symbolic degrees, through active practice of benevolence and Christian virtues, and selfless action in oneself and in the world.

It includes a preparatory degree, that of Novice Squire. This status is not permanent and should lead the Novice Squire to be armed as a Knight or to be demoted back to the Symbolic Class. It is a phase of inner preparation, lasting a minimum of two years, during which the Novice Squire should attempt to perceive within himself the spiritual dimension specific to the Inner Order and actively prepare to join the rank of Knight. Its culmination is marked by the emergence, expressed in heraldic terms, of the future Knight’s individual identity: arms, name, and motto.

The final degree of the Inner Order, Knight Beneficent of the Holy City, is, in reality, a spiritual state, a status conferred by the arming ceremony, conducted in accordance with the ancient tradition of Chivalry. The Knight Beneficent of the Holy City is a free man, on the path of effective realization, dedicated to the service of God, his Brothers, and all humanity, particularly through the exercise of active benevolence. He continues his inner quest with the spiritual arms conferred upon him during his arming, which define him and accompany him at every step of his existence.

As a Christian initiatory order within the framework of universal regular Freemasonry, the Rectified Scottish Rite allows anyone, regardless of their denomination, according to their means and will, and if sincerely desired, to follow, with specifically Christian ritual forms, the Word of Christ, which addresses itself, without exclusion, to all who come to Him. It thus offers an authentic initiatory path of spiritual realization, enabling its followers to truly achieve reintegration, i.e., the restoration of Man’s primordial unity with God, the true goal of any traditional initiatory path.

The MacBride Ritual holds a significant place in the annals of Freemasonry, especially in Scotland. Its author, Brother Andrew Sommerville MacBride, penned this ritual in 1870. Andrew Sommerville MacBride, often hailed as one of Freemasonry’s most cherished figures during his era, was not only a skilled craftsman who considered the Word as sacred as a temple but also a poet who perceived the world as a beautiful song.

Born in December 1843 on Stirling Street in Renton, MacBride was the offspring of John MacBride, a cooper at Dalquhurn Works, Renton, and Catherine Douglas, originally from Bonawe, Argyllshire. Sadly, Andrew’s father fell victim to a cholera epidemic when Andrew was just a tender three-year-old.

His Masonic journey began with his initiation into Lodge Leven St John No 170 in Renton on July 13, 1866. Remarkably, he was elected as the Lodge’s Secretary in the same year. Later, on November 22, 1867, MacBride was further honored when he was elected as its Master. Over his nearly five decades in Freemasonry, he assumed various roles, but perhaps the most cherished and enduring one was his position as a lecturer in the Lodge of Instruction affiliated with Lodge Progress in Glasgow, Scotland.

MacBride’s contribution to Scottish Masonry was profound. He played a pivotal role in educating young Masons about the symbolism and ceremonies inherent in the Craft, leaving an indelible mark on Masonry within his homeland. His teachings resonated with the wisdom of a true teacher and the eloquence of a poet.

The MacBride Ritual stands as a testament to his deep comprehension of Masonic symbolism and his gift for communicating these intricate concepts in a comprehensible and meaningful manner. This ritual is considered an integral component of Masonic literature and remains a subject of study and admiration among Freemasons across the globe.

List Of Blue Lodges Using an other than preston/Webb Ritual in the U.S.A.

This list is a non-exhaustive list of U.S. craft (blue) Lodge using rituals such as the Scottish Rite, French Rite, Mac Bride, Emulation and others. (Excluding Preston/Webb)

If you wish to include a Lodge that you’re aware of in this list or need to rectify an error, please get in touch with us at

Rites and Appendant bodies in Nevada

It is quite understandable that the distinction between an Appendant Body and a Rite can sometimes be unclear, even for those well-versed in Masonic traditions.

However, it’s crucial to appreciate the unique characteristics of each. A Rite, in the context of Freemasonry, refers to a system of degrees capable of initiating a newcomer. While certain Rites may not confer all these degrees, it encompasses them within its structure. A Rite is at the center of the Masonic journey.

On the other hand, an Appendant Body is an organization associated with Freemasonry and acknowledged by the Grand Lodge. However, it does not encompass a system of Blue Lodge degrees or Side degrees.

Recognizing these differences allows for a more nuanced understanding of the rich tapestry that constitutes Freemasonry. A Rite is also named Concordant Body. Meaning in Harmony with our Ritual.

The Following list is in accordance with the Section 9.020 of the Nevada Code as of 10/04/6023.

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