HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The Ancient and Accepted Rite derives from the Rite of Perfection, which developed in France mainly in the quarter-century before September 1762. Its constitution, and the rituals for its twenty-five degrees, were formalised by Francken in a manuscript bearing that date, though probably written somewhat later. It was followed by The Grand Constitutions of 1786, dated May 1786, which describe the Ancient and Accepted Rite, consisting of thirty-three degrees, largely as it exists today. This document was presented as the product of a Council meeting under the titular direction of Frederick the Great. The original has not been found, and the copies seem to date from nearer to 1800.
In May 1801, in Charleston, the first Supreme Council following the Grand Constitutions was opened (now known as The Southern Jurisdiction of the USA). It was followed by France (1804), Spain (1811) and the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the USA (1813). Ireland (1826) was the sixth, England and Wales (1845) - receiving its Patent from the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction - was the eleventh and Scotland (1846) the twelfth. There are now independent Supreme Councils in over 60 countries.
THE SUPREME COUNCIL 33°
The sovereign power of the Ancient and Accepted Rite in England and Wales is committed to a Supreme Council consisting of nine Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, as prescribed for every country by the Grand Constitutions. It has the responsibility of managing the affairs and promoting the wellbeing of the Order, including the consecration of new Chapters, and of maintaining fruitful relationships with other Masonic bodies, both nationally and internationally. It is in amity with Supreme Councils in many foreign jurisdictions.
Each member of the Supreme Council holds the highest degree of the Order, the 33°, as do some 50 Inspectors General in England and Wales and 20 in Districts overseas, to whom authority is delegated to manage their appointed Districts, and a few others who contribute very significant services to the Order, or to Freemasonry in general. These include the Grand Patron, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
Authority is further delegated to Chapters to confer degrees from 4° to 18°. The higher degrees are generally conferred by the Supreme Council at regular ceremonies, and recognise substantial services to the Order: 30° (including 19° to 29°), 31°, 32° and 33°.
THE SUPREME COUNCIL 33°
10 DUKE STREET, ST JAMES'S
LONDON SW1Y 6BS
TEL: 020 7930 1606
In the ceremony, the Candidate is taken through several rooms, which figuratively represent his spiritual and Masonic life from Craft Masonry, through despair, to a Rose Croix Chapter and the discovery of the Lost Word.
At the start, he is taken from a Master Mason (3°) to a 17° Mason, a Knight of the East and West, of symbolic age, coming - as the ritual explains - at a time of dire calamity with but incomplete pre-Christian knowledge.
The ceremony of the 18° seeks the Perfection of Christian Virtues in Faith, Hope and Charity.
It is an immensely thought provoking, impressive and beautiful ceremony which instils an even greater warmth of the Brotherly love, on which the whole Masonic movement is founded.
Following perfection, the ensuing "feast of fraternal affection" is a wonderful moment of shared Freemasonry all too often lost in other degrees.
The Rose Croix, like Freemasonry as a whole, is not a religion. It does, however, serve to point the way.
It is this which makes Rose Croix so important, encompassing all we seek, while pointing us clearly to the Trinitarian Christian Faith.
All candidates for membership of the Ancient and Accepted Rite under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council for England and Wales must profess the Trinitarian Christian Faith, and have been Master Masons for at least one year in UGLE, or have joined a lodge under UGLE from a recognised Grand Lodge. Affiliation of candidates owing allegiance to other Supreme Councils is permitted only in exceptional circumstances (subject to prior enquiry to the Grand Secretary General).
Any Brother wishing to visit a Chapter, or receive a visit from a member of a Chapter, in one of those jurisdictions with which the Supreme Council is in amity, other than Scotland, requires prior approval.
Throughout England and Wales and certain Districts and Chapters Overseas the Order is governed by the Supreme Council 33° whose headquarters are located at No. 10, Duke Street, St. James's, London.
In this Order, the only formal regalia is a collar to which in the 18°, is appended a complex jewel.
In most Masonic Orders, a black tie is worn. In this Order, this is discouraged as this is an Order of vision and resurrection.
A formal suit is usually worn with a smart tie (not too flashy). The collars or sashes, which are embroidered with exceptional beauty and complexity, display the rank from 18° through 30° to 31°, 32° and 33°. The collars or sashes of the 18°, 30°, 31° and 32° are shown below.