In spite of numberless claims to a succession from the old Chivalric Orders, there is no satisfactory evidence of any of the Chivalric Masonic "High" Grades before 1740.
So long as Masonry was automatically Christian in character, no need existed for anything beyond the Craft and Royal Arch.
In 1723, however, Anderson introduced a Constitution widening the field to men of any denomination: this caused great concern to both Protestants and Roman Catholics, and many Lodges ignored the provision. Then in 1738, the Pope issued the famous Bull ‘IN EMINENTI’ placing a ban on Masons and. even excommunicating those who sympathised with them.
Immediately after this, semi Masonic Orders sprang up like mushrooms. They were near enough to Masonry to satisfy the desires of those who wished to retain the Christian qualification, which had been abolished in the Craft, and they were far enough from "Masonry" to by-pass the Bull. This is the first real evidence of "High Grades" in Masonry.
After a scrappy start, a considerable Rite was established in Paris in 1758 by a body styling themselves the Emperors of the East and West.
Rose Croix was one of the key-degrees of this system.  
It is not known if the full Rite consisted of 33 degrees, though there were evidently rumours to this effect, but they permitted Stephen Morin to take to America certain degrees (up to Prince of the Royal Secret) with the administrative appointment of Grand Inspector for the Western Hemisphere, and it is thought that Morin increased the system to 33 degrees on his own authority in 1786, but the evidence on this is inconclusive.
By 1800 the essential secrets had been lost in both America and Europe, and mutual consultations leading to no result, America established the first real Supreme Council 33° with the title of the system changed from the "Rite of Perfection" to that of the "Ancient and Accepted Rite", sometimes called Scottish or Ecossaise. This Rite did not reach England until 1845 when the Supreme Council was erected by the Northern Jurisdiction of the USA.
At least 70 years before this (in the 1770s at latest) Rose Croix, had reached England as an isolated working, not associated with any Rite, or system. This must be kept in mind, for it is commonly assumed that the 18th Century Rose Croix presumes the presence in some vague way of a 33-degree Rite.



The Grand Lodge of the "Moderns", which limited its recognition to Craft and Royal Arch, was not officially interested, but the "Ancients" were under no disabilities in that respect, and had already added the Templar Degrees to their Craft, Passed the Chair, and Royal Arch, and the new Degree was shown to, and adopted by their Templars.


The Templar grades were Knight Templar-Mediterranean Pass-Malta in various forms, after which came the Templar Kadosh and the Templar Ne Plus Ultra.

Rose Croix was inserted between the Knight group and the Kadosh, and this was the system embodied by Thomas Dunckerley in his Grand Encampment of 1791.


This Grand Encampment met with the usual opposition from Lodges, and it was not until the older generation of Knights Templar died out that the Lodges gradually ceased to work the degrees and their members took Grand Encampment Warrants.


This arrangement continued until the formation of the Supreme Council 33° in 1845, when as theRose Croix was the 18° of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the Templar body agreed to discontinue working it. Though, owing to a similar conservatism, many privateEncampments ignored the prohibition and continued to work the old system, in some cases well into the 1860s.


It is a matter of regret that the Templars did not realize, or as a matter of policy ignored, the fact that their Kadosh and Ne Plus Ultra were essentially and characteristically "Templar" and that they also ceased to work those two degrees which became merged in the Philosophical Ancient and Accepted system forming a mixture of "Chalk and Cheese"
With regard "to the Rose Croix Rituals, there are two distinct forms:-.
(1) Christian, and (2) Philosophical.
It is not known which of these forms was that worked by the Emperors, but they have existed side by side from a very early date, for the Constitutions of 1786 provide that it was only necessary that 5 of the Governing Body of 9 should profess the Christian Religion.
The general structure of the two forms is identical, the only difference is that the Philosophical interpretation of the letters I N R I is “Igne Natura Renovatur Integra” and the details are developed along those lines.
It is a perfectly valid form of Initiation, and many Supreme Councils are, and have been, of this School of Thought. Inter visiting between the two Schools is not practicable on ritual grounds and so far as England was concerned, owing to the absence of the New Testament from the Altars.
The symbolism and meaning of our Ritual are matters which each individual must seek for himself, as no two human beings are precisely alike so no two react in exactly the same way to the Mysteries. Everyone is entitled to his own interpretation, provided that it is his own and is sincere and provided that he does not ram his own views down anyone elses throat, but, on the other hand, respects their opinions.
The Masonic Orders are all on a very high level of Initiation, and they are "Universal” because they enshrine a meaning for every man if he has the desire and patience to seek it out. As an indication of how this may be done, it is interesting, and often very instructive, to open a Ritual anywhere and, in respect of the first thing that catches the eye, ask "Why do I do that, why then, and what do I mean when I do it?"
There is, however, a distinctive difference in the Structure, of the Rose Croix Ritual from that of most other degrees. The Candidate is a humble follower in the footsteps of the Redeemer; he is not the central figure of the "Mystery".

G E W Bridge 33°

Woking 1949



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