- THE FRENCH MASONIC WAY
- Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite : From Troubled Origins to Worldwide
- By Yves HIVERT- MESSECA
- After the construction of the Grand Lodge in London, speculative
fairly rapidly throughout the European continent, particularly in Paris
around 1725. On both sides
of the English Channel, the Freemasons had two degrees passed down ftom
Freemasonry, in other words, entered apprentice and fellow craft. Soon after,
however, the need for
a new, higher degree, which would comprise a greater symbolic and
speculative dimension, arose.
Attempts to institute a third degree were made.
Gradually, between 1725 and 1735, the degree, constructed from elements
distinct from that
of the entered fellow craft, but strongly influenced by the legend of
Salomon and Hiram, took root.
Although the standard for the new degree was not fully determined for
several years, the socalled
Slue" or "symbolic" masonry system. consisting of three degree (entered
apprentice, fellow craft
and master mason) took on its definitive form.
Scottish Master Freemasons appeared in England starting in the 1730s
A number of contemporary researchers have examined this development and have
forward a new theory con cerning the appearance of what would later become
known as the "high
degrees." The degree of master, based on the legend of Salomon and Hiram,
would be, in a manner
of speaking, the first (chronologically) of the high degrees although it has
since become part of the
so-called "Blue" craft, along with the two older degrees.
- The other unsuccessful projects for a third degree, notably the archaic
version of Verfect
Master" and "Royal Arch," were not totally abandoned. They were restructured
and would have
formed new degrees that would be complementary to the symbolic three degree
system that had just
been defined and would constitute the first versions of the higher degrees.
This process (separation
of a symbolic sequence from an older degree, the development, refinement and
pursuance of this
autonomous substratum to create an entirely new degree) was repeated several
times during the
eighteenth century. It contributed to the fact that the higher degrees
flourished during this period.
Scottish Master Masons existed in the 1730s in England under the reign of
George 11, for
example. This "Scottish" Masonry (this adjective no longer indicates a
geographical origin, but
rather a Masonic characteristic) seems to have been, in part, a hostile
reaction to the
de-Christianization of the rituals performed within the Grand Lodge (which
would later be called
the "Modems") and/or a movement on the part of Irish Catholic Masons.
In France, however, the word "Scottish" designates a degree which, starting
in the 1740s,
would have considerable importance. It crossed the English Channel with
those of the Perfect
Master and the Elect Master. Several texts published in 1744 showed that
this Scottish degree was
widely accepted once it reached France. These degrees are the basis for the
Scottish neologism, by
which the entire system of high degrees would become known later.
The early years were difficult, however. The number of initial Scottish
without any regulatory or federating authority. The first public record of
the Scottish rite in France
was the judgement pronounced by the first Grand Lodge (an Order that would
later become the
Grand Orient de France). This was published in article 20 of the Ordonnances
December 1, 1743. The text condemns any Mason who would claim to be a
superior to the Blue
Two years later, however, the Masonic authorities in Paris finally granted
degrees a certain level of legitimacy in the "Statutes drawn up by the R. L.
Saint Jean de Jerusalem"
dated June 24, 1745. This text listed a hierarchy of seven degrees; beyond
the three symbolic
degrees were four so-called "superior" degrees: Perfect Master, Irish
Master, Elect Master and
In 1736, Ramsay suggested the idea of a link between Freemasonry and
All these degrees are derived directly from the Solomon and Hiram legend.
But in the
1740s, degrees derived from knighthood started to appear, primarily in
France. The idea of a link
between Freemasonry and knighthood probably predates this period. It was,
Ramsay who first gave voice to this theory in 1736. We can assume that he
stated an idea that was
already widespread in the British and French Masonic milieu: as descendents
of the Crusades, the
Freemasons belonged to a brotherhood that was, in fact, an order of knights.
This statement no doubt contributed to the proliferation of the so-called
The first of these degrees was the Knight of the East, first noted in 1748.
The theme of knighthood
in Freemasonry inevitably led to the Knights Templar. Gradually, therefore,
a tenacious legend took
hold: the Templars were not, as originally believed, exterminated in the
fourteenth century, burnt at
the stake or dead in jail. They managed to conceal and preserve the secrets
of the Order, particularly
in Scotland. The Temple would have survived, therefore in the Masonic lodges.
Soon after, most likely in the 1740s, Templar themes appeared in Masonic
imagery. A high
Templar degree known as the Sublime Order of Knights Elect was practiced in
Quimper (France) in
1750, in Jacobite circles.
The Templar legend took on a new dimension in the 1760s, as the basis for
the creation of
two intra-Masonic movements: The Strict Observance on the one hand, which
resulted in the
Rectified Rite; and the degree of Knight Kadosh, from Germany, whose
standard became defined in
the 1760s in eastern France.
The creation of multiple degrees went hand in hand with the steps a Mason
had to follow in
a strictly defined order. "Scottish" systems were set up in the 1740s and
1750s, notably in Avignon,
Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Lyon, Marseille, M etz, Mirecourt, Montpellier, Paris and Toulouse.
Despite the seemingly "inextricable jumble"' of high degrees, nearly all the
organized according to a specific standard: first of all the 9ower grades" (Perfect
Master, Secret Master), then the Elect degrees, followed by the Scottish
degrees and finally the
degrees of chivalry. Most of the time, these systems culminated with the
degree of Knight Kadosh,
Knight of the Sun or Knight of the Rose Croix, considered to be the highest
degree in Masonry.
This is how the rites, as they would become known, were gradually
The so-called Lodge of Perfection system deserves further attention, as its
be used as a model to reconstruct the history of the development of the
other major Rites. We will
have to return to the origins of the Scottish degrees. Indeed, it seems that
initially there several
versions of these degrees.
In Bordeaux in the 1740s, the "Perfect Scottish Lodge" drew up a Scottish
Perfection that comprised seven, ten and then finally fourteen degrees.
In southern France in the 1740s, there was a Scottish system defined as a
Perfection; the Parfaite Loge Ecossaise of Bordeaux. It practiced a single
and ultimate "high"
degree known as the Vray Maltre Ecossais. But the spirit soon shifted and
the lodge developed a
system of high degrees. By "stacking" up the degrees as they were created or
introduced in the
lodge, a Scottish System of Perfection was created with seven, ten and then
finally fourteen degrees
(ca 1745-ca 1748): Apprentice, Fellow craft, Master Mason, Secret Master,
Prefect Master, Master
Through Curiosity, Provost and Judge (another version of the Irish Master
degree), Intendant of the
Building, Master Elect and Grand et Vrai Ecossais. With the addition of
three new degrees, the
system then had fourteen different degrees.
The Bordeaux system reached North America, notably Louisiana and the West
Etienne Morin (ca 1717-1771) and other travelers. Morin had also
participated in Parisian Masonry.
At that time, the Grand Loge de France, the first of its kind, was divided
between supporters of the
various "Substituts G6néraux," the "Lacornists," and the "anti-Lacornists."
The Scottish influence
was not strong in the Paris circles. The Orient was divided between two
system of high degrees: on
the one hand, the Consed des Chevaliers d'Orient, Souverains Princes Maçons
founded in 1756 ; and, on the other hand, the Souverain Conseil des
Empereurs d'Orient et
d'Occident, Sublime Mere Loge Exossise, inaugurated in 1758.
The year 1761 marked a turning point in the midst of these troubled times.
First of all,
Augustin Chaillon de Joinville (1733-1807) was named Substitut Général. He
Grande Loge des Maîtres de Paris, also known as the Grande Loge de France
(in other words, the
first Grande Loge), setting up a concentric structure with a governing
authority (in the sense of the
Inner Council), called the Grand Conseil (or Souverain Grand Conseil). The
culminating degree in
this system was the Knight Kadosh.
Masons in North America adopted the Scottish Rite from France and the
tradition America, Morin received a patent of the Ancients to form the A.A.
On August 27, before returning to. from this Parisian authority. This "Morin
authorized our tireless traveler to practice and propagate Masonry as it was
then professed in Paris.
After a fairly long journey, he reached Jamaica, then on January 1763, Santo
Domingo. In Kingston
he met Henri Francken (1720-1795), a Dutchman who had adopted English
Both men devoted their time to spreading the Perfection Rite of Masonry
through the West
Indies. This was a system established by Morin with twenty~five degrees,
almost all of which were
in use in France in the 1750s and 1760 (and therefore not invented by
Morin). The highest degree
was not the Knight Kadosh, as in Paris, but the Sublime Prince of the Royal
Secret. It was known
incorrectly as the Rite of Perfection, although Morin had called it the
Order of the Royal Secret.
In November 1771, Morin died and was buried in Kingston. In 1767, Francken
introduced Morin's system in North America, just months after Morin had
appointed him Deputy
Grand Inspector. On December 6, 1768, Francken awarded two patents naming
and Moses Michael Hays (who would become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
in 1788) as Deputy Inspectors and Knights Kadosh. In 1788 Hays then created
Inspectors, including Barend Moses Spitzer who, on April 2, 1795, elevated
John Mitchell to
Deputy Inspector. Mitchell would become the Grand Commander of the Supreme
Charleston, following Moses Cohen.
Francken's importance is also due to his large number of scholarly writings.
manuscripts (1771 and 1783) are the principal source of information
concerning the Order of the
- Hence, it was in North America that the Scottish Rite from France and the
of the Ancients finally came together in a mutually beneficial arrangement,
resulting in the Ancient
and Accepted Scottish Rite (A.A.S.R.).
- Some historical background may be necessary at this point. On July 17, 1751,
Lodge of the Ancients was formed, primarily on the initiative of the Irish
Masons, most of whom
were Catholic. This lodge was in conflict with the Grand Lodge of London,
which these Ancients
defined-pejoratively-as the Modems.
- The Grand Lodge of the Ancients expanded rapidly, from 6 lodges in 1751 to
260 lodges by
1813. It also spread beyond England, notably to North America. On February
5, 1787, five lodges
created in Charleston between 1774 and 1783 founded the Grand Lodge of South
York Masons (AYM). It should be noted that the leaders of the AYM Grand
Lodge (Ancient) and
those of the "Scottish" lodges following in the Morin-Francken tradition
were often the same men.
But South Carolina also had a jurisdiction of Modems, the Grand Lodge of the
Society of Free and
Accepted Masons (F&AM), a regional lodge that split in 1788.
The incredible activist Alexandre, Comte de Grasse and Marquis de Tilly
This, then, was the situation when Alexandre, Comte de Grasse and Marquis de
(1765-1845), arrived in Charleston in the summer of 1793, after he was
forced to leave Santo
Domingo in the wake of local uprising. With his brother-in-law Jean Baptiste
founded "La Candeur" lodge (July 24, 1796). In the autumn of 1797,
Grasse-Tilly, Delahogue and
five other brethren of La Candeur received from a Jamaican doctor, Hyman
Isaac Long (who had
himself been appointed by B. Spitzer), patents as Deput Grand Inspecteur as
well as the rituals of
the "Order of the Royal Secret," from Morin Fraricken. Long had only arrived
in Charleston several
weeks prior to this event, financially ruined and dying.
- On January 13, 1797, on the strength of their powers, they set up a Council
of Kadosh in
Charleston, followed by a Sublime Grand Council of the Princes of the Royal
Secret. On January 2,
1798, Grasse-Tilly's lodge submitted a request to join the Grand Lodge of
the Society of Free and
Accepted Masons. They joined under the number 12.
- During the summer of 1799, Grasse-Tilly left the F&AM lodge to form, still
Orient of Charleston, loge no. 45, La Réunion Française, established on
August 10, 1799 by the
Grand Lodge of the Ancient York Masons. All the future founders of the
Supreme Council of
Charleston, notably the future lieutenant Grand Commander, Frederick Dalcho
belonged to this lodge.
- The "ancient" origin of these brethren and Grasse-Tilly's change in the
Moderns to Ancients) made sense. These two events brought together on
American soil the
encounter of the tradition of the Ancients and the Scottish rites versus
gallica. Events moved rather
quickly from this point on and became more dearly defined. On September 23,
1801, still in
Charleston, Dalcho gave a speech "to the members of the Sublime Grand Lodge
of Perfection and
to those of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons". This speech
was printed that same
year (or early in 1802). It is, at present, the first document to mention a
Supreme Council of Masons
for the United States; it also notes that John Mitchell was the president of
- One year later, on October 10, 1802, The Supreme Council for Charleston
decided to send a
circular to the organizations and lodges of high degrees around the world,
announcing its creation
and existence. The "Circular Throughout the Two Hemispheres" was approved on
December 4 and
sent in early January of 1803. It stated that the Supreme Council of the
33rd degree for the United
States of America was initiated on May 3 1, 1801 by J. Mitchell and F.
Dalcho. "During this year [
1802 1, the full membership of Grand Inspector Generals was achieved, in
compliance with the
Grand Constitutions," through the co-option of A. Alexander, 1. Auld, B.
Bowen, E de La Costa,
M. Levy, I. de Lieben and J. Moultrie (it is unlikely that Grasse-Tilly
To confer a degree of legitimacy to their organization, the founders of the
limited the degrees to the symbolic number of 33, but only 31 were actually
named: the Kadosh, the
29th degree; the Prince of the Royal Secret, for the 30th, 31st and 32rd
degrees; and the new grade of
Grand Inspector General at the culminating 33rd degree. The "Manifest" never
expression "Ancient and Accepted Scottish.".
- It presented the new Rite as a system consisting uniquely of higher degrees
- • a Lodge of Perfection for degree 4 through 14,
• a Council of Princes of Jerusalem, for degrees 15 and 16,
• a Supreme Council of Grand Inspector Generals, for degrees 17 through 33.
- The Charleston initiative met with only moderate success, but it would be
Grasse-Tilly. He had been an American citizen since June 17, 1799, but as he
had no resources, he
rejoined the French Army in Santo Donlingo. According to the Bideau register,
he was on the Iist of
members of the Supreme Council for the 33% created in the Islands of America,"
21, 1802. Does this then imply the creation of Grand Inspector Generals for
the Supreme Council
(in other words, for Charleston) in the islands?
- Whatever the case, Grasse-Tilly decided to return to France after many
landed in Bordeaux on July 4, 1804, and reached Paris by the end of the
month. He quickly found
his former lodge, "Le Contrat SociaM' which had been reactivated under the
new and distinctive
name of Saint Alexandre d’Ecosse.
- In the early nineteenth century, Grasse-Tilly and his Grand Loge Générale
set themselves up as an entity distinct from the G.O.D.F.
On October 22, 1804, a circular signed by six masons, including Grasse-Tilly,
the creation of a Grande Loge Générale Ecossaise under the theoretical
authority of Prince Louis
Bonaparte. Grasse-Tilly presided over the first five meetings.
- This new Scottish lodge consisted of "seven regular lodges" in Paris,
including the Saint
Alexandre XEcosse. These lodges did not adopt the Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite, but rather
the "Scottish" rites created in France, in the tradition of the Modems, such
as the Philosophic
Scottish Rite or the Rite of Herodom of Kilwinning.
- In its determination to set itself apart from the G.O.D.F. the lodge issued
stating that it was the French equivalent of the English Grand Lodge of the
branding as modem the French Rite, the dominant system of the G.O.D.F. In
pursuance of this goal,
the lodge drew up rituals for its Blue Lodges that were largely inspired
from the Ancients, but
which also integrated a number of modern elements. The result was the
publication of the Guide des
Ma~ons Ecossais (ca 1804), a replica of the Regulateur of 1801.
On December 4, the Grande Loge G6ndrale Ecossaise signed a concordat with
The expression "Rite Ecossais Ancient et Accepté" appeared for the first
time, in article 5 of this
text. Concurrently, Grasse-Tilly organized the Supreme Council for France, a
simple lodge that
issued the 33rd degree.
- However, the Scottish Rite, like the other jurisdictions, would be
integrated into the
Napoleonic system. Cambacérés was appointed Grand Commander of this Supreme
Council on July
1, 1806. Starting November 27 of that same year, the expression "Ecossais
Ancient et Accepté" was
in general use in the decrees emanating from the Supreme Council.
- After the fall of the Empire, the two largest French jurisdictions of "high
were formed. The first was the Grand CoUge des Rites (officially created in
1826, as the majority
of the members from the Camba&res Supreme Council had joined the G.O.D.F.
starting in 1815
and 1816) to administer the high degrees of the Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rites for the
G.O.D.F. The second was the Supreme Council for France (reactivated in 1821
from the two
establishments known as the Pompéi and Prado Supreme Councils).
- The A.A.S.R. is both both syncretist and a catch-all - which explains it
success throughout the world
Hence, the standard of the A.A.S.R. created between the late seventeenth
century and the
early eighteenth century is the result of an extraordinary jumble (no
pejorative meaning intended).
These Blue degrees are essentially ancient in spirit, and include many
elements borrowed from the
tradition of the Modems, while the socalled higher degrees most often have a
modern origin, with
- This essential aspect of the A.A.S.R., which practices both syncretism and
catch-all, (in a
positive definition of the word, as used by American political scientists),
is most likely one of the
reasons it became so success throughout the world. This Rite is one of the
rites that is the most
adaptable to every "climate." From 1805 (Supreme Council Of Italy, in Milan)
to 1936 (Bulgaria),
thirty-eight Supreme Councils were formed in thirty five countries of
Europe, America, Asia and
Africa, not including the various "Scottish jurisdictions formed outside of
the first ones. In the
second half of the twentieth century, the A.A.S.R. continued to expand,
particularly in Latin
America, in de-colonized countries of Africa, in Asia and in Eastern Europe.
One century after the A.A.S.R. was created, it was the only Masonic Rite to
exist just about
everywhere in the Latomorum Terrae. Today, we can note that the A.A.S.R. is
present in every
country in which Freemasonry is active, either as a "Blue" lodge, or with
the system of higher
degrees, and most often both.
- The extent of the A.A.S.R. presence varies from one country to another, of
course. Thus, it
is predominant in Italy (both in the three principal Lodges - the Grand
the Grande Loge-Piazza del Gezu and the Grande Loge Di Bernardo - and in all
the high degrees).
On the other hand, it is far less important in Finland, where it is only
used by offshoot lodges, as the
Supreme Council of Finland has ten times fewer members that the Saint Andrew
lodges or so-called
Swedish Rite chapters.
- At present, the A.A.S.R. is by far the most widespread system of higher
throughout the world (with approximately 1.5 million members). It is also,
along With the
Emulation Rite and the Rite of York, one of the three most commonly used
rites in the "Blue"
- A large share of the Masonic philosophical work is produced by the various
- Its capacity to acclimatize in time and space has also been a reason for its
"ideologicaF' flexibility. This specific character makes it appear to be the
most favorable to
Masonic imagery. The A.A.S.R. is one of the largest conservatories for the
myths and symbols of
the Royal Art. Its flexible syncretism, along with influences from various
philosophies and spiritual
trends, have encouraged the environment of free thinking that is so
important to the Masons. It
brings together metaphysics and rationality, tradition and modernity.
- Finally, the A.A.S.R. raises the issue of the relationships between
ethics) and democracy (civic commitment), for example in the degrees of the
Knight of the
Rose-Croix (18th), the Knight of the Sun (28th), the Knight Kadosh (30th)
and the Grand Inquisitor
- It is therefore not surprising that most of the Masonic philosophical work
today is produced
by the various A.A.S.R. movements, in France, for example, with M. Barat,
johan6 Comeloup, Jean
Mourgues, Claude Saliceti and H. Tort-Nouguès.
- Throughout the contemporary "Scottish" world, however, we can find somewhat
interpretations of the Rite. A few Supreme Councils, notably those in
England (1845), Scotland
(1846) and Ireland (1826), interpreted the A.A.S.R. in a Christian sense.
Most of the "historic"
Supreme Councils, however, have remained more or less faithful to the
open-mindedness of the
American founders. This movement is generally presented as a primarily
charitable association, and
is one of the important factors in the social aspect of the establishment.
- A third interpretation has appeared in Latin America. It has more or less
adopted the spirit
of the International Congress of Lausanne (1875). It adheres the concepts of
tradition and progress,
a strong symbolic practice and a more or less original moral philosophical
In the 1880s, during which positivism became a predominant movement in
Masonry, an (erroneous) idea appeared. According to this idea, the A.A.S.R.
was considered to be
more symbolic than the other Rites. The school of Oswald Wirth (1860-1943)
and his revue, Le
Symbolisme (1912), undertook to reinterpret the A.A.S.R. in the light of
occultism, even to the
point of eliminating the "historic" forms that would not fit his
interpretation. This movement can be
somewhat imperfectly described "liberal-syinbolic.".
- Finally, also in the late nineteenth century, several Lodges in
adopted an agnostic interpretation of the Rite. Hence, lodges that worked
with the A.A.S.R.
appeared, but without any explicit reference to the G.A.D.L.U. (Grand
Architect of the Universe).
Of course, these four movements are based on an attempt to create an ideal
only partially bring together the rich profusion of Scottish jurisdictions
and lodges. Broadly
speaking, however, the first two movements can be found in the International
have been meeting every five years since 1907 (Brussels), and were begun by
Goblet d'Alviella (1846-1925), who had been Grand Commander of the Supreme
Belgium since 1900. Through the 1950s and 1960s, though, the Supreme
Councils that were more
influenced by the liberal-symbolic movement, like the Supreme Council for
Belgium (until 1959),
also participated in these events.
- The links between the various A.A.S.R. movements are ambiguous and
This situation created an ambiguous situation. Thus, the brethren of the
Grande Loge de
France (Rue Puteaux), considered to be irregular" by the United Grand Lodge
of England since
1910, were viewed as "regular high Scottish degrees" by the Supreme Council,
jurisdiction (Washington, formerly of Charleston). Indeed, this lodge has
also proclaimed itself as
the Mother Supreme Council of the World.
- Under its influence, the A.A.S.R. adopted a more orthodox point of view. In
International, Conference held in Baranquilla (Colombia, February 1970), the
articles of the
Congress of Lausanne were rejected categorically. Today, some forty Supreme
these meetings held every five years.
- Other Scottish Internationals" have developed in the twentieth century. On
the initiative of
the Grand CoUge des Rites (France), the Souverain Collége du Rite Ecossais
for Belgium and the
Supreme Council for the Swiss Confederation, seven "liberal" Scottish
jurisdictions met in Brussels
- These 1iberal Scottish" conferences were then held every year (from Geneva
in 1977 to
Paris in 1982), then every two years after the Geneva Conference in 1984.
They bring together
about twenty Scottish jurisdictions (eighteen Supreme Councils during the
15th conference in
Brussels in 1998).
- In addition to all these nuances, movements and ideological differences, it
should be noted
that the A.A.S.R. is set up in two different ways. The Rite created in
Charleston in 1801 was a
system of higher degrees only; it remains so to this day in the Anglo-Saxon
world and Northern
- "Ancient & Accepte" or "Ancient Accepted".
- In the United States, it is called Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (Northern
Boston) or the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (Southern
Jurisdiction-Washington). There is
also a Supreme Council linked to the Grand Lodges of Prince Hall and several
other more marginal
Scottish jurisdictions. In terms of the Blue Lodges, the majority of
Americans follow the York Rite
(Craft Rite). Beyond the degree of Master, they can then progress by
choosing between the York
Rite and the A.A.S.R. More than one million American Masons have chosen the
- The situation is similar in the British Isles. Since 1877, the English
system has been called
Ancient Accepted Rite (the adjective "Scottish" having been eliminated for
and designated by the usual French form Rose-Croix. In the English Blue
Lodges, the Emulation
Rite is by far the most widely practiced. The A.A.S.R. is therefore only a
system of side degrees.
- In continental Europe and Latin America, on the other hand, The A.A.S.R. is
still most often
a system of 33 degrees. In the nineteenth century, the pyramid of Scottish
lodges (Blue Lodges>
Lodges of Perfection, Chapters, Prestigious Assemblies, Tribunals and
administered by a Supreme Council of thirty-three coopted mermbers. This was
also the case for the
Supreme Council of France from 1821 to 1896.In a way, this is still also
partially true for the Mixed
and International Supreme Council, "Le Droit Humain.»
- A system of separation and union was gradually established, The three first
degrees of the
A.A.S.R. are administered by a Grand Lodge (or a Grand Orient). The
following thirty degrees are
administered by a Supreme Council that is associated or linked to a "Blue"
Lodge. This is the most
widespread organization in France.
- As soon as the A.A.S.R. was created, even before the break with the G.O.D.F.
General Scottish Grand Lodge, it was used by various lodges of the G.O.D.F.,
notably the "Blue"
Lodge of Grand Master Cambacérés, La Grande Maitrise, based in Paris. Hence,
since the Empire,
approximately one-tenth of the G.O.D.F. lodges have always worked with the
situation is roughly the same to this day. just over one hundred Grand
Orient lodges (11 percent of
the total number of lodges) work with the A.A.S.R.
- The higher degrees of the A.A.S.R. are administered by the Grand College of
with which the G.O.D.F. signed an agreement on December 17,1998.This
protocol extends and
more dearly defines the agreement of July 13, 1946, signed by the Grand
College of Rites and the
G.O.D.F. The Grand College of the A.A.S.R. on Rue Cadet in Paris is now the
jurisdiction of higher degrees in France (6,000 members and more than 300
The structure of the other Supreme Council, which is also a descendent of
Council, is identical. From its reactivation in 1821, the Supreme Council of
France has become, in
the last thirty years of the nineteenth century, the second largest French
Lodge. It administers
lodges from the 1st to the 33rd degree. It worked exclusively with the
A.A.S.R. and proclaimed
itself to be the only regular Lodge for France.
- Starting in the 1860s, some of its "Blue" Lodges withdrew and became
1880, the break was total: twelve lodges, all working with the A.A.S.R.,
seceded and founded the
Symbolic Scottish Grand Lodge. During this same period, lodges that remained
jurisdiction of the Supreme Council were demanding autonomy. From October
1894 to February
1895, a difficult process of unification finally led to the formation of the
Grande Loge de France.
The Grande Loge de France abandoned initial pretension of being the only
authority in France.
- The new lodge at 42 Rue Rochechouart, which later moved to 8 Rue Puteaux,
tradition of the Supreme Council and claims that it is only authority for
the A.A.S.R. in France (a
pretension that has since been abandoned). To this day, the A.A.S.R. is the
almost exclusive site of
the Grande Loge de France.
- This Lodge has become completely independent from the Supreme Council of
the decree dated July 26, 1904, issued this latter jurisdiction. The Supreme
Council on the Rue
Puteaux has since become "fraternally unite& with the Grande Loge de France.
It now has some
- In the meantime, the militant feminist Maria Deraismes (1828-1894) had been
the Scottish Lodge, which had become independent from the Symbolic Scottish
Grand Lodge, Les
Libres Pensuers, at Le Pecq, on January 14, 1882. As a female Mason without
a lodge for ten years,
she founded a second Symbolic Scottish Grande Lodge with Georges Martin,
which was known as
Le Droit Hurnain, the first mixed French lodge, in March-April 1893. She
worked with the
- In November of 1895, she decided to become international. In May of 1901,
the existence of
a "Supreme Universal Mixed Council, Le Droit Hurnain, which would be the
sole council in the
future to grant constitutive patents for the 1st to the 33rd degree
included." It continues to meet in
Paris to this day and maintains a relaxed, but vigilant authority over the
pyramid of lodges and
degrees in international mixed Masonry. The majority of its jurisdictions
throughout the world work with the A.A.S.R. This is the case with the French
- In 1901, in a rather ephemeral way, and then again in 1907, the Grande Loge
(mentioned above) decided to create adoptive lodges within its structure. A
consisting of twelve articles was adopted for these lodges. From 1911 to
1935, ten other male
lodges founded adoptive lodges, which functioned according to a revised
"Rituel des dames."
- After the Second World War, the Congress of the Grand Loge de France, during
of September 45, 1945, decided to separate itself from its adoptive lodges.
In January 1946, these
lodges formed the Union Maçonnique Hminine de France, which became the
F~minine de France in September of 1952.
- After a year of discussions, the new Order decided, in September 1959, to
give up the Rote
of Adoption in favor of the A.A.S.R. Up through 1973, the date that Lodge no
44, Unit6, was
inaugurated within the French Rite, the A.A.S.R. was the only Rite. Today,
four out of five ateliers
in the Grande Loge F~minine de France work with the A.A.S.R.
- In the meantime, Giséle Faivre (1902-1997) had contacted Marjorie Debenhann
(1893-1990), who in 1925 founded The Order of Ancient and Accepted Masonry
for Men and
Women, a group that broke away from the British Droit Humain federation.
From 1925, she was the
Grand Commander for the Supreme Council of this Order Marjorie Debenharn
degrees to nine federal councilors of the Grande Loge Féminine de France. On
September 25, these
sisters formed a Supreme Counsed Féminin de France, which then administered
the high degrees
starting in 1972. An agreement between the Supdrine Couseil F6minin and the
Féminine defines the relationship between the two jurisdictions.
- The aborted alliance between the Grand Orient de France and the Grande Loge
- In September of 1964, the congress of the Grande Loge de France ratified a
treaty of ratified
of alliance with the Grand Orient, by a vote of 140 in favor, with 82 votes
against. But this text was
rejected by the Grand Commander Charles Riandey (1892-1976) in the name of
Council of France. For several months, Rinadey had maintained discreet
contacts with the leaders
of the Grande Loge Nationale Française (Rue Bineau).
- Once these events became known, on December 18, 1964 he was summoned by the
Council of France on the Rue Puteaux and requested to resign his position.
But Riandey continued
his discussions with the Order on Boulevard Bineau. On February 9, he was
"regularized" by the
Grand Master of the Grande Loge Nationale Française. On February 13, he was
to all the degrees of the Rites by the Supreme Council of the Netherlands.
On April 24,1965, this
jurisdiction established a Supreme Council "for France" on Rue de Villiers;
- and Riandey was
proclaimed its Grand Commander.
- A single member of the Supreme Council on Rue Puteux, Paul Naudon, followed
Commander when he broke away. This situation led several hundred brethren to
join the Grande
Loge of the Grande Loge Nationale Française, known as Bineau. This Order,
founded in 1913, had
lodges working with the Rectified Rite and the Emulation Rite. The arrival
of former members from
the Rue de Puteaux added the A.A.S.R. At present, approximately one-third of
its lodges practice
this Rite. The A.A.S.R. is also practiced by just under half of the lodges
in the Grande Loge Mixte
de France (1982), by several ateliers of the Grande Loge Mixte Universelle
(1973), by the
D.L.I.S.R.I.-Humanitas (1973) and by various other micro-orders. In 1973,
then in 1981, two
Supr~me Counseils Mixtes de France were created in the wake of the first two
orders cited above.
Other Supreme Councils, such as the Uni de France, founded by brethren who
had broken away
from the former Grand College of Rites, have had a more discreet or more
- With difficulty, the A.A.S.R. ended up by becoming the most widely practiced
France, not only in the higher degrees but also in the Blue Lodges.
A rough estimate of the various Supreme Councils would include approximately
members. The A.A.S.R. is therefore, and by far, the most widespread system
of high degrees in
France. The Blue Lodges have about 4,000 "Scottish" brethren in the
G.O.D.F.; 24,000 in the
G.L.D.F.; 8,000 to 10,000 in the G.L.N.F.; 13,000 sisters and brethren in
the D.H.; and 8,000 sisters
in the G.L.F.F. - not to mention the 2,000 to 3,000 "Scottish" members in
various smaller orders,
micro jurisdictions or "independent" lodges.
- Since the 1980s, the A.A.S.R. has been the most widely practiced system in
the Blue Lodges
of France, which is a new development in French Masonry (including all the
various Orders). The
A.A.S.R. is now used by nearly half of the Masons in French.
- Although this is a new situation for France, it also means that French
Masonry is more in
compliance with Masonry around the world. Alles Vergangliche ist nur ein
Gleichnis (j. Goethe,
Fault 11, final scene).
- Yves HIVERT-MESSECA
Extrait de la revue « Chaine d’Union »