The History of the Rite
From Time Immemorial
The AASR is founded upon the ancient origins, traditional history, and teachings of Craft Masonry. The Rite continues the journey and, by definition, offers a complete path to Masonic discovery and education. The teachings of the Rite are also shared with a number of other Masonic Orders.
The Global Rite
The AASR is the only Masonic Rite governed by one world-wide universal Grand Constitutions. Supreme Councils 33° across the globe that hold certified Charters have each pledged allegiance to this founding document which is stored in the Supreme Council library, London.
The Australian Rite
Although Australia did not have its own Supreme Council until 1985, the first Chapter was established in Melbourne, Victoria, 125 years earlier. The Chapter’s Charter was issued, in 1859, under the authority of the Supreme Council 33° for England and Wales.
The origins of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite can be traced back to the mid-1750s in Bordeaux France. A number of Lodges, each daughters of Lodge L’Anglais, began practising a 25 Degree system known as the Rite of the Royal Secret.
A document entitled “The New Statutes and Regulations made by the 14 Commissioners on the 25th November 1762”, now known as the “Constitutions of 1762”, formed the global legislative authority for the Rite which is stored today in the Supreme Council Library, London.
During the 1700s Masonic ritual was not always written but rather passed and learnt by word-of-mouth. Etienne Morin, in 1763, began the process of documenting the rituals for the 4th to 25th Degrees (to this day the three Degrees of Craft Masonry continue to be accepted as equivalent to the first three Degrees of the Rite). Following Morin’s death in 1771 his work was continued and completed by Henry Franklin in 1783. The manuscripts are stored today in the archives of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Boston Massachusetts USA.
By 1786 the Grand Constitutions had been established which extended the Degrees of the Rite, now known as the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, from 25 to 33 and laid down the procedures for the government of the Rite within each Supreme Council across the world. It is under this document that the Supreme Council for Australia was formally constituted in 1985.
Australia requires some further explanation because the Rite was operating here well before 1985.
The first Sovereign Chapter was established in Australia more than 125 years earlier. In 1859 the Supreme Council for England and Wales granted a Charter to a Chapter in Melbourne Victoria. Twenty years later, in 1879, the Supreme Council for Scotland issued a Charter to a Chapter in Brisbane Queensland. Thereafter numerous Charters were issued by either the Supreme Council for England and Wales or the Supreme Council for Scotland.
The Charter establishing the Supreme Council 33° for Australia was issued in 1985 conjointly by the Supreme Council 33° for England and Wales, and the Supreme Council 33° for Scotland. This event resulted in many Australian Chapters being renumbered according to the Register of the new Supreme Council 33° for Australia.
However, several Sovereign Chapters elected to maintain their heritage and continue to operate to this day within Australia under their original Charters.
Supreme Councils operate collaboratively with each other and are each responsible to administer and uphold the universal Grand Constitutions. The Rite has no greater authority than each country’s Supreme Council.
What is a Masonic Rite
This commonly found image attempts to illustrate the relationship between the Degrees of the Scottish Rite (left side), compared to the teachings of the York Rite (right side), which both rest on the ancient foundations established by the three Degrees of Craft Masonry. Of note is that the Scottish Rite offers a complete journey of discovery and the York Rite (typically a term more common in the US) offers a similar journey however attained by progression through a number of interdependent Masonic Orders.