The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR in English – REAA in French) was officially born in the early years of the 19th century. The history of this Rite is the culmination of something called the “Scottish Movement” (what is today called Ecossism). This stream of Freemasonry likely appeared in England between 1733 and 1735 as some writings attest to the existence of “Scotch Masons” in this period.
Ecossism according to the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry is defined in the following way: A name given by French Masonic writers to the 33 Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. This, in English, would be the equivalent of Scottish Freemasonry which was originally a movement characterized by a proliferation of degrees beyond Master Mason.
The first Scotch Masters appeared in the Grand Lodge of France in 1743 and this movement has evolved continuously since. It took the form we now know on the 24th of June, 1801, in Charleston, South Carolina, in the United States. However, there have been various stages in its evolution.
One person who contributed strongly to the creation of the Scottish Rite was Étienne Morin. This brother (1717-1771) arrived in 1763 in Santo Domingo. He held a patent issued by the Grand Lodge of France, allowing him to confer some “higher degrees.” Morin created and evolved a system totaling 25 degrees drawn from different degree work in use in Europe. This Rite is known today under the name of “The Rite of Perfection.” The original name was the “Rite of the Royal Secret.”The ultimate degree in this Rite was the “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret,” which became the current 32 degree of the AASR today. Contrary to a generally accepted idea, this system was not in use in France.
The system designed by Morin was to be modified and restructured culminating in a 33 degree system: The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
In December of 1802 a “circular thourought the two hemispheres” announced the creation of a Supreme Council of the 33rd degree of the United States of America the 31st of May 1801 in Charleston.
In France, this Rite arrived from America with the Earl Alexandre François Auguste de Grasse-Tilly, a member of the Supreme Council of Charleston. Grasse-Tilly hastened to construct the Supreme Council of France which was officially born in Paris the 22nd of December 1804.
An act of union (still called the “Concordat”) was officially declared in December 1804 anchoring the Scottish Rite within the Grand Orient. In 1815 the Supreme Council of France went inactive at the command of Napolean with many of its members holding high military rank in Napoleon’s Grand Army. Napoleon was consolidating Freemasonry in order to better align it with his purposes and cement loyalty to him. Then in 1815 the Grand Orient of France founded a Supreme Council of Rites which had Germain Hacquet, former Grand Officer of the Supreme Council of France, as the first Sovereign Grand Commander. The Supreme Council of France was brought to life again in 1821.This was done through the “Supreme Council of the Isles of Americas in the Windward and Leeward” (Suprême Conseil des Isles d’Amérique, dans le vent et sous le vent) founded by Grasse-Tilly in 1803 and brought to life by his father-in-law Jean-Baptiste Delahogue toward the year 1810.
In 1965, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of France wanted to move into the sphere of British influence, against the majority opinion of the rest of the Order. He therefore left the Supreme Council of France to found in 1965 the Supreme Council for France, attached to the French National Grand Lodge (GLNF). He had to be re-initiated in the 33 degrees of the Rite. That is how this Grand Lodge came to hold the full system of degrees of the AASR or REAA.
Today, therefore, there are in France 3 legitimate Supreme Councils who manage this Rite:
- The Supreme Council of France (1804/1821) related to the Grand Lodge of France,
- The Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (1804/1815) related to the Grand Orient of France,
- The Supreme Council for France (1965) related to the French National Grand Lodge.
Curiously, the first three degrees of this Rite are in use mainly in the European Grand Lodges, with the exception of Israel and a few African Grand Lodges. The United States of America practices the 4th to 33rd degrees, with the exception of a few blue lodges in Louisiana which work the first 3 degrees of this Rite.
The full system has 33 degrees which are:
- Entered Apprentice
- Fellow Craft
- Master Mason
Lodges of Perfection
- Master Secret
- Perfect Master
- Intimate Secretary
- Provost and Judge
- Intendant of the Building
- Elu of the Nine
- Elu of Fifteen
- Elu of the Twelve
- Master Architect
- Royal Arch of Solomon
- Perfect Elu
- Knight of the East, of the Sword, or of the Eagle
- Prince of Jerusalem
- Knight of the East and West
- Knight Rose+Croix
Councils of Kadosh
- Grand Pontiff
- Master of the Symbolic Lodge
- Noachite, or Prussian Knight
- Knight Royal Axe, Prince of Libanus
- Chief of the Tabernacle
- Prince of the Tabernacle
- Knight of the Brazen Serpent
- Prince of Mercy
- Knight Commander of the Temple
- Knight of the Sun, or Prince Adept
- Scottish Knight of Saint Andrew
- Knight of Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle
- Grand Inspector Inquisitor
- Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
- Sovereign Grand Inspector General
The Supreme Council is an assembly chaired by a Sovereign Grand Commander. It has between 9 and 33 members chosen from among those who have the 33rd degree. To know more about this Rite, we encourage you to read the “Manifesto of the Congress of Lausanne” and the “Circular throughout the Two Hemispheres,” which are founding documents of this order.