The Ancient and Accepted Rite is a 33 Degree system of Freemasonry encompassing a period starting with the building of King Solomon’s Temple and ending as the Middle Ages merged into the Renaissance, when Freemasonry emerged in the form we recognise today. It endeavours to include all Masonry and most degrees therein, before progressing to the final Degree in freemasonry.
Rose Croix is the 18th Degree of this 33 Degree system and is worked in 17 Chapters in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This most beautiful, profound and esoteric Degree in Freemasonry contains not only the entrustment of hidden secrets, known only to the Perfect Mason, but also what is, quite possibly, the most memorable and wonderful moment in all Freemasonry.
The Order of the Ancient and Accepted Rite is the second most populous in the world after the Craft and works the ne plus ultra of the Military Orders (no longer worked by them) before progressing further. The Order is not an overtly military one, but rather one of inner peace, contemplation and wonder.
These Higher Degrees are conferred only by the ruling Supreme Council 33° (composed of nine members), during breathtaking Ceremonies of increasing wonder at their headquarters in Duke Street, St James’s, London.
Nick explained “It is an Order based on spirituality and peace – many of the members that join comment on the peace that they feel in being a part of it. It is about, as is all Freemasonry, moving from darkness to light but this is a different sort of darkness and a different sort of light”.
In terms of qualifications for joining the Rose Croix, you must have been a Master Mason for one year and believe in the Trinitarian Christian faith.
The Order is administered by the Supreme Council of the 33° which is made up of 9 members. Each member has one vote and is treated as an equal. The Grand Patron of the Order is HRH Duke of Kent – this means the only Orders of which HRH is the most senior member of are the Craft, Holy Royal Arch and Rose Croix.
On a District Level it is much smaller than that of other Orders and in this way is quite unique. There are only two District officers – the Inspector General and the District Recorder. Between them they fulfil all of the administration of the District and its management.
In terms of cost, Nick explained “The costs to the members in the District are 90p per year and then £20 for Grand Council. The cost of an 18° collar from new can be between £70-£120. You will find that most Chapters will have one available for a small donation to charity. There is a small Alms collection within the meetings but this is usually for loose money rather than notes – we are all members of other Orders and already give”.
Throughout his time in the order, Nick shared that of them all the 18° was most significant for him, he said “it’s a different type of darkness and a different type of light maybe and that journey is a wondrous thing. The ceremony itself contains, certainly for me and I think for many people, the most beautiful and memorable part of freemasonry there is, and it is held dear to us. Completely memorable; and as we are not meeting at the moment – we miss it terribly. It is esoteric and it is spiritual. It is calm and it is peaceful, and after a meeting I think everybody leaves with a sense of peace”.
With the varying degrees there are, these can be broken down in such a way. The 30° could be considered Provincial, 31° could be considered a first Grand and the 32° could be considered promotion in Grand.
To get a 30° you must have performed all of the ritual of Most Wise Sovereign to a good standard. This does not have to be whilst you are in the chair but can be completed in segments at times when you are ready. Once all aspects have been completed, your Chapter Recorder will be able to put you to the District for the 30° which is conferred by the 9 members of the Supreme Council.
31° and 32° are only given to those members of exemplary service to their Chapters and the Order – the most common way of achieving this is by serving the Chapter for an extended period of time as one of the main offices after the Chair. This is not the only way but the common one. It cannot be just service and doing the job that is expected of you, it is the going above and beyond.
To find out more about the Rose Croix please visit the website: http://www.hertsmasons.co.uk/RC
Very Illustrious Brother Nick Edwards 33°
Inspector General of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire