One of the nicest degrees in Masonry is the Rose Croix of Heredom which is now know simply as the eighteenth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. In the Rite there are 33 degrees in reference to the years that our Lord spent on earth.
The eighteenth degree is a highly mystical degree, full of deep interest to the student of Masonry. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Australia the degree is restricted to professing Christians as it is in England and Scotland. However, in the United States of America and on the Continent of Europe the degree is not usually regarded as Christian and non-Christian may become members.
One school of Masonic research has propounded the theory that the Rose Croix (or Red Cross) Degree was originally Roman Catholic, having been invented by the Jacobites. However, it seems to be more probable that the degree is due to Rosicrucian Influence, and from the earliest historical evidence that we can find these mysteries show that they were Lutheran, but it is clear that they, in turn, inherited from earlier traditions. The Comma cine Masons carved the Rose and Compasses over their Lodges in Assisis in the opening years of the 15th century. Likewise, the ancient Aztecs venerated the Cross and had similar rites with many of the signs and incidents.
To revert to the 18th degree, as we know it today, we find that it has, four distinct sections.
The setting for the degree is clearly established in the opening and the closing of the Chapter. In the opening we are told that it is the 9th hour of the day, the hour when the Veil of the Temple was rent asunder.
This time is recorded in the three Gospels as being the time when our Saviour died upon the Cross. In modern times this would be 3.00 p.m on the afternoon of Good Friday.
Likewise, in the closing the time of the day is clearly established as being "The first hour of the third day, being the first day of the week". This establishes the time at 6.00 a.m. on Easter Sunday. Thus the setting and time for the working of this degree is clearly established.
The candidate arrives at a time when all is in despair and tribulation because of the death of Our Saviour.
But before the candidate is accepted he is expected to have the first 17 degrees. In our constitution these are conferred on the candidate by name only. They can be and are worked by chapters from time to time. However in the United States of America and in some European countries these degrees are all worked and conferred on the candidate.
Having received the 17 degrees our candidate is thus equipped to proceed from the darkness of death into light.
In the first point the candidate is informed that he has arrived at a time when all are in grief and sorrow as they have lost the "Word"
The Marshall then volunteers the candidate to search for the missing "word" and they travel symbolically for 33 years.




During his journey the candidate discovers the true fundamentals of the Order - faith, hope and charity. The explanation of these three principals is one of the most moving speeches in Masonry.
Having discovered these fundamental principals the candidate is then conducted to the Chamber of Contemplation. It is here that he is to contemplate on the words and then decide if he wishes to continue on his journey in search of the lost word. In some chapters the importance of the Chamber of Contemplation is overlooked.
Raphael then takes over from the Marshall in guiding the candidate on his journey.
Raphael, according to Jewish tradition was one of four angels. The others were Gabriel, Oriel and Michael, whose jobs it was to stand around the throne of God. Raphael is in Apocryphal, in the book of Tobit. When Tobit's son, Tobias, was about to start on his adventurous journey he needed a guide. Therefore," when he went to seek a man, he found Raphael that was an angel. But he knew him not, and said unto him "Canst thou go with me to Rages? and knowest thou these places well. To whom the angel said, "I will go with you and I know the way well" 
It is appropriate that the candidate is conducted by Raphael – whose name means "Divine Healer" on his adventurous journey from the Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Dark Room to the mansion of light in the Red Room.
In the second point the candidate ascends the mysterious ladder.
Some Masonic Researchers have said that this ladder represents Jacob's Ladder, which leads from earth to Heaven. It is something that we should ponder on.
At each step the candidate learns a little bit more until at last he has the initials of our Saviour. He is then brought from the state of darkness to light as the veil shrouding his vision and understanding is removed.
The final part of the degree is the working of the Circle.
The main theme of the circle is the Oriental custom of breaking bread and eating salt. This dates back from time immemorial. As one of the essential articles of diet, salt symbolizes hospitality, durability, purity and fidelity. From this comes the expression "covenant of salt"
Out of this respect for salt grew the custom about hospitality and pledging of fidelity and friendship, which appears so often in the Bible. The earliest account of this oriental custom of hospitality is that of Abraham entertaining three unknown travellers. Though this took place some four thousand years ago it doesn't differ much from what the modern Bedouin would do today to entertain a stranger.
On the other hand, the Rose Croix degree pledging of our fidelity and friendship in the goblet of fraternal affection must be of a much later date. There is no biblical allusion to such a custom.
The Rose Croix degree is a highly mystical piece of symbolism, which expresses the passage of man through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, accompanied by Masonic virtues of faith, hope and charity.



Despite its present setting it appears that this degree in all its main details is a very ancient ceremony. All of its essential features are found in the Bora ceremony of the Australian Aborigines. In china and India the signs of the degree are associated with God the preserver. In ancient Egypt certain parts of the book of the dead covers the same ground and shows the same signs.
In medieval Europe we find constant use of the two principal signs (the rose and the cross) employed at Coire Cathedral - in both the 12th and 13th century work - in a fresco at Beale, painted in the opening years of the 16th century and in the 17th century panelled room in a museum at St Morits.
Moreover, a certain sign associated with the 9th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite indicating sorrow, is found side by side with the Rose Croix signs, in every one of the cases mentioned.
The Rose was regarded by the ancient Greeks and Romans as the God of Silence, the significance being that everything said and done by the brethren "under the rose" was a secret, a matter of strict confidence between them all.
The cross has always been regarded as the symbol representing the r' four elements, namely earth, fire, water and air. Each of these being represented by one of the four arms of the cross. 
To the Christian the Cross is the symbol of the death of our Saviour, through His martyrdom.
Facts like these cannot be brushed aside lightly and preclude us accepting the view that the Rose Croix Degree was invented in the 19th century. Indeed, the Mexican Dodices, which practically show the complete ceremony, are at least two and a half centuries earlier than the date, which has been suggested that the degree was invented.
When the first lodges in France were consecrated in the decade between 1720 and 1730, they were worked under warrants from the mother Grand Lodge of London. This was not continued owing to the war between England and France. About this time many new members joined Masonry in France. They indulged in many experiments, which the Grand Lodge of France did not have expertise to advise its members on what was required. As a -result many new degrees appeared in France. In fact, one observer has stated that there were estimated to be as many as 150 new degrees in operations. A number of these degrees were in accordance with the Ancient landmarks of the ritual of the craft in Britain, the homeland of speculative masonry. Many were not.
In 1758 a Council of Emperors -of the East and West was organised. It selected 25 degrees in a system referred to as the Rite of Perfection. This Council deputized Stephen Moran to set up Councils throughout the Western Hemisphere and he subsequently established Supreme Council in Charlestown, South Carolina, which was later transferred to Washington.
The invention of new degrees continued throughout Europe during the middle of the 18th century, but most of them worked to a limited extent only, and soon passed into oblivion. The three degrees of the craft lodge- the Entered Apprentice degree, the Fellowcraft Degree and the Master Mason degree were the source from whence this prolific development of degrees sprang. These three degrees were selected together with twenty-two others to form a Rite, which was destined to retain its vitality, and to spread its influence throughout the world. This rite was known as the Ancient and Accepted Rite.



In 1754 Frederick the Great who had taken under his patronage all Freemasonry in Germany formed and issued what has been known ever since as the Grand Constitution of 1762.The Rite of Perfection, which for a quarter of a century had not fully accomplished the work promised fore it by its authors, was improved by Frederick himself by a re-organisation and reconstruction, which placed it on a higher standard in its philosophy and its teachings. Eight new degrees were added to it, and its name was changed to "The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry". The name Scottish had no connection with the land of Scotland but was named because so many Scott were members. The Grand Constitution of 1786 was ratified by Frederick at Berlin, in May 1786.His Masonic powers were confirmed in documents deposited with a Council for each nation. This Council was composed of Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals of the Thirty Third and Last Degree of Legitimate Freemasons. This Council was limited to thirty-three members in reference to the age of our Saviour at the age of His death. .
Returning to the Grand Constitution termed in 1762 we are told that it was ratified in Bordeaux on the 25th October 1762 and was proclaimed as the governing body for all the several bodies of the Rite of Perfection in both hemispheres.
However, we must remember in any discussion of these old constitutions, that the question of their origin is of a purely historical importance. Their present value to us as statutes of any rite depends on their adoption as law by competent authority. Whatever their origin, wherever they were written is of little importance in the matter of legality compared to the obvious point, and that is that their acceptance as a legal guide by the foundation Supreme Council gave them all the weight necessary for the purpose.
At this point I would like to emphasis that the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Thirty Three Degrees has nothing to do with the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The so-called Scottish or Scott’s Degree seems to have originated about the year 1740 in France.
What the Scott's Lodges taught nobody is sure. Rituals still exist in sad profusion, but unfortunately they do not agree. They all possessed one thought, which shows a curious trend of the system. They state that some Scottish Crusaders found in a vault the long lost ineffable word. Relying on this legend, the Scott's master claimed to be in possession of the true secrets of Masonry, the true history and real design of the order. He also claimed in every respect to be superior to the Master Mason.
They assumed as a privilege to impart the secrets of the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft & Master Mason degrees, personally, with or without ceremony as and when 'the whim seized them.
They would not, if they were members of a lodge, permit anyone but other Scott Masters to sit in judgment on them.
Matter became still worse when the Scott Lodges were grafted onto the ordinary lodges. In these cases the Worshipful Master, instead of being elected by the lodge in the normal way were elected by the Scott’s Lodge.
These Scott Lodges went so far as to assume all the powers of a Grand Lodge and as such to issuer warrants of Constitution. From the exercise of these powers arose the so-called Scott Mother Lodges, which became so numerous in France. Each Mother Lodge claimed and exercised the right of granting Constitutions and Warrants to other lodges and of developing a system of degrees peculiar to themselves and worked in chapters all independent of each other.


France was the inventor of all the novelty degrees. Perhaps one of the most important was the one established at Marseilles in 1751 under the title of St John of Scotland. From it descended another so called   Mother Lodge with it seat in Avignon, which in turn became the mother lodge of the Scottish Philosophic Rite. In these systems the true original and beautiful symbolism .of' the craft were overlaid by foolish legend and childish ceremonies. '
From France the tendency to elaborate the degrees of the craft spread to Germany. In Berlin the members of the lodge known as The Three Globes erected a Scott’s Lodge in 1741.Between 1742 and 1764 no fewer than 47 lodges were reported in Germany. These Scott’s lodges were soon absorbed by the Clermonth system with it chapter degrees, which in turn was absorbed by the Templar system of "strict observance".
To France and to the Scott’s lodges in France maybe credited the degrees which connected the Scott’s Freemasons with the Knights Templar and thus gave life to the whole system of Templarism. It was an age of disbelief and credulity, of sensuality and mysticism, of the hardest commonsense and wildest tomfoolery.
An era of unrest, decay and a longing for a new birth. The teachings of history were scorned and every fable, no matter how improbable, was eagerly accepted. Men really believed that there was some foundation for the legend that the military and religious Order of the Temple, in spite of it having perished in fire and blood, had in some way preserved a germ of vitality for some 400 years. In 1741 a ceremony called the Kadosh Degrees, representing the vengeance of the Temple, was invented by the Freemasons of Lyons and henceforth all the new Rites of French origin contained knightly and almost all templar degrees, the connection being in all instances by some of the Scott’s degrees. The name Scottish is assumed by many rites to designate the whole system.
In 1754 the members of Chapter Clermont had been organised. This chapter seems to have been decidedly an aristocrat order. It was a period in French history when the lower nobility, and the nobility of the robe as the highest lawyers and judges were, known, as distinguished from the nobility of the sword, the designation of the old feudal nobility with its military traditions, were striving to obtain greater influence in society.
From this class of the lower nobility and less highly placed officials the association of "Knights of the East, Princes and Sovereigns of Masonry" was formed in 1756.
The statutes of the rite were elaborate. One article lays down that if a Knight, in his travels, comes to a spot where no rite exists then he may dispense the light of the first six degrees to a Master Mason. The term the first six degrees implies that there were more than that number worked, and it is thought that there were ten degrees worked in all.
The old rivalry went on and in 1766 the Knights suffered a defeat from the Emperors. Many of their numbers were expelled. The Sovereign Council of the Knights of the East West retaliated.
They issued a circular, in which it requested all knights to cease working the Templar degrees,
The quarrels of the Emperors and the Knights continued and grew more bitter until it became necessary in 1767 for the Government to issue an edict dissolving the Grand Lodge. From that time the Knights of the East, as a body, sank into insignificance.



Although there are many Supreme Councils for the Thirty-Three degrees around the world only a few are recognised by the Supreme Councils in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Our own Supreme Council for Australia is one of those that is recognised.
This is an order that we all can be proud to belong to. Recommend it to our Masonic friends. If you are enjoying Rite masonry perhaps your actions can introduce another mason to share in that same enjoyment of this beautiful and lovely degree.
It is so full of symbolism and meaning that I could talk on for hours. Do try and find out about some of those symbols. Or you could invite me back another night to speak about some of the symbols in this lovely degree.

Roy W Bloomfield 31°
Moruya. NSW.




Back to Main Page