Secret Societies of All Ages: Vol 2 - Charles Heckethorn

III. Rites and Customs

390. List of Rites.—Anciently, that is, before the rise of modern Masonry at the beginning of the last century, there was but one rite, that of the "Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons," or blue or symbolic Masonry; but vanity, fancy, or interest soon led to the introduction of many new rites or modifications of the three ancient degrees. The following are the names of the rites now practised in Europe and America:—

  • I. York rite, or Craft Masonry,—of which an account will be given.—In America it consists of seven degrees: The first three as in this country; 4. Mark Master; 5. Past Master; 6. Most Excellent Master; 7. Holy Royal Arch. All these also obtain in this country; the Royal Arch, being the most important, will be treated of in full (405 et seq.).
  • II. French or Modern rite.—It consists of seven degrees: The first three the same as in Craft Masonry; 4. Elect; 5. Scotch Master; 6. Knight of the East; 7. Rose Croix. They are all astronomical.
  • III. Ancient and Accepted Scotch rite.—It was organised in its present form in France early in the last century, though it derives its title from the claim of its founders that it was originally instituted in Scotland. It is, next to the York rite, the most widely diffused throughout the Masonic world. The administrative power is vested in Supreme Grand Councils, and the rite consists of thirty-three degrees, of which the 12th, Grand Master Architect; the 18th, Prince Rose-Croix; and the 3Oth, Grand Elect Knight of Kadosh, are the most interesting, and particulars of which will be given under separate heads.
  • IV. Philosophic Scotch rite.
  • V. Primitive Scotch rite, practised in Belgium.
  • VI. Ancient Reformed rite.
  • VII. Fessler's rite.
  • VIII. Rite of the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes at Berlin.
  • IX. Rite of Perfection.
  • X. Rite of Misraim (418-42).
  • XI. Rite of the Order of the Temple.
  • XII. Swedish rite.
  • XIII. Reformed rite.
  • XIV. Schroeder's rite.
  • XV. Rite of Swedenborg (see 264).
  • XVI. Rite of Zinzendorf. Count Zinzendorf, physician of the Emperor Charles VI., invented this rite, which was a modification of the Illuminism of Avignon, adding to it the mysteries of Swedenborg. His system consisted of seven degrees, divided into three sections: 1. Blue Masonry; 2. Red Masonry; 3. Capitular Masonry. The rite was never introduced into this country.
  • XVII. Eclectic rite. This was established at Frankfurt in 1783 by Baron de Knigge, for the purpose of checking the spread of the hautes grades, or philosophic rites, which were increasing excessively. Eclectic Masonry acknowledged the three symbolic degrees only, but permitted each lodge to select at its option any of the higher degrees, provided it did not interfere with the uniformity of the first three. But the founder was disappointed in his expectations the high degrees continued to flourish, and but few Eclectic lodges ever existed.

391. Masonic Customs.—Some Masonic peculiarities may conveniently be mentioned here. Freemasons frequently attend in great state at the laying of the foundation stones of public buildings; they follow a master to the grave, clothed with all the paraphernalia of their respective degrees; they date from the year of light. The Knights of the Sun, the 28th degree of the Scotch rite, acknowledge no era, but always write their date with seven noughts, 0,000,000. No one can be admitted into the Masonic order before the age of twenty-one, but an exception is made in this country and in France in favour of the sons of Masons, who may be initiated at the age of eighteen. Such a person is called a Lewis in England, and a Louveteau in France. This latter word signifies a young wolf; and the reader will remember that in the mysteries of Isis the candidate was made to wear the mask of a wolf's head. Hence a wolf and a candidate in these mysteries were synonymous. Macrobius, in his "Saturnalia," says that the ancients perceived a relationship between the sun, the great symbol of those mysteries, and a wolf; for as the flocks of sheep and cattle disperse at the sight of the wolf, so the flocks of stars disappear at the approach of the sun's light. We have seen in the account of the French Workmen's Unions (369) that the sons of Solomon still call themselves wolves. The adoption of the louveteau into the lodge takes place with a ceremony resembling that of baptism. The temple is covered with flowers, incense is burnt, and the godfather is enjoined not only to provide for the bodily wants of the new-born member, but also to bring him up in the school of truth and justice. The child receives a new name, generally that of a virtue, such as Veracity, Devotion, Beneficence; the godfather pronounces for him the oath of apprentice, in which degree he is received into the Order, which, in case he should become an orphan, supports and establishes him in life. In the United States the rights of a lewis do not exist.

392. Masonic Alphabet.—The Masonic alphabet preserves the angular character of primitive alphabets. Thirteen characters (9 + 4) compose the Masonic system of writing. Hence all the sounds can only be represented by means of lines and points, in the following manner:—

[Masonic Alphabet] from Secret Societies of All Ages: Vol 2 by Charles Heckethorn