The Ancient Accepted Scottish
Rite is one of two ritualistc Rites in Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed
after he has completed the three Degrees of Symbolic or "Blue Lodge" Masonry.
The other branch known as the York Rite, consists of the Royal Arch Chapter, the Council
of Royal and Select Master Masons and the Commandery of Knights Templar. The Symbolic or
Craft Lodge of which all regular Freemasons must belong, is the first body in the York
The use of the word
"Scottish" had led many Masons and non-Masons to believe that the Rite
originated in Scotland. When actually, the first reference to the Rite appears in old
French records where the word "Ecossias," meaning "Scottish" is found.
The original 25 or so called "higher degrees" which flourished in France during
the 18th century, came to be known as "The Rite of Perfection." The first
"Ecossias" Lodge, Parfaite Harmonie, was organized in Bordeaux, France in 1740.
These Degrees were brought to the West Indies under patent granted by Masonic authorities
in Paris, in the 1760's by Stephen Morin. Before the end of the 18th century, other
Degrees were added until the Rite had a ritual structure of 33 Degrees.
Morin deputized Henry A.
Francken to organize a Lodge of Perfection in Albany, NY in 1767. This was the beginning
of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in what would become the United States. Within a few
years, groups were formed in Baltimore, Charleston, New York City, Philadelphia, Savannah
and Troy. Each was independent with little official supervision, except to agree that
their authority came from Stephen Morin.
The first Scottish Rite Supreme
Council was formed on May 31, 1801. This Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for
the United States of America ws founded in Charleston, South Carolina. This was done to
bring order out of chaos, hence the Scottish Rite motto: "Order ab Chao."
The Supreme Council, Northern
Jurisdiction was organized in New York City in 1813. This Supreme Council is now
headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts. The former Supreme Council in Charleston,
became known as The Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern
Jurisdiction and is now headquarted in Washington, DC.
Scottish Rite Bodies are
grouped in what is known as a "Valley." A Valley usually consists of four
Bodies; a Lodge of Perfection (4º-14º), a Council of Princes of Jerusalem (15º &
16º), a Chapter of Rose Croix (17º & 18º), and a Consistory (19º-32º). Each of
the Bodies is an independent organization in itself. Each is separately officered, and has
full control of the Degrees in its structure.
The emblem of the Consistory,
but probably more recognized as the emblem of Scottish Rite Masonry, the Double-Headed
Eagle of Lagash is the oldest Royal Crest in the world. No heraldic bearing no emblematic
device of today can boast such antiquity. It was in use a thousand years before the Exodus
from Egypt and more than 2,000 years before the building of King Solomon's Temple. So far
as is known, the Double-Headed Eagle was first used in Freemasonry, 1758 by a Masonic body
in Paris. The Emperors of the East and West controlled the advanced Degrees then in use,
and became a precursor of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.