The Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Czech Republic
(SC A&ASR for CR or SCCR)
Introduction to the Scottish Rite
The origin of the Scottish Rite degrees has been and is still the subject of extensive historical research and continues to be a source of heated debate among Freemasons, but it is an indisputable fact that the “Higher Degrees”, also called “Additional” or “Side” degrees, have played a considerable role in European Freemasonry from the 1750’s onwards.
Scottish Rite Masonry, which represents the most developed and widespread system of “Higher Degrees” in the world, counts today about 150,000 members in the United States alone. In Europe and in Latin America these Scottish Rite degrees, ranking from the 4th to the 33rd degree, are also very popular and are considered as the natural itinerary for all those who are interested in perfecting their Masonic education.
In “the Bridge to Light” published in 1988, by the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. Ill ∴ Bro∴ Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, wrote:
” Modern speculative Freemasonry did not spring full blown upon the historical stage at a London pub or tavern meeting in 1717. The operative Masons had already contributed a long legacy of symbolism and tradition that continues to enrich the Craft to this day.”
“There are persistent references in the Masonic ritual, especially in the Scottish Rite degrees, to relationships with Rosicrucians, Illuminati, Gnostics, Essenes, Persians, Hindus, Alchemists, Hermeticists, Kabbalists, Occultists, etc.
“The main question studied by 18th and 19th Masonic historians was whether these presumed relations demonstrate either a continuous heritage, going back to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, to the cults of Isis, Mithra and Zoroaster, even to the biblical patriarchs : Tubalcain, Enoch and Noah, as well as to Moses and king Solomon, of which modern Freemasonry would be the linear successor, or if they should simply be regarded as masonic legends forming an inexhaustible source of masonic symbolism.
“Whatever the truth of history, the contributions to the symbolism of Freemasonry by the religions, philosophies, mythologies and occult mysteries of the past lie upon its surface for all to see.”
Rather than being a secret society, Scottish Rite Freemasonry is a revealer of knowledge.
The great truths of ancient man were, in their time, also great secrets and few were admitted into the sanctuaries where these truths were taught.
“Today Freemasonry teaches these truths to all worthy men who ask to learn them.”
“Many of these truths are taught in the three degrees of the Craft Lodge;
but many more and deeper truths are taught in the Scottish Rite degrees.”
What is the Scottish Rite?
Henry C. Clausen (°1905 – †1992), Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33rd and last degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Mother Supreme Council of the World, as well as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California, summarised the history of the Scottish Rite as follows:
” Historically, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry evolved from the Rite of Perfection more than 250 years ago on the continent of Europe under the Constitutions of 1762. Later the Grand Constitutions of 1786 were enacted and became the creative and derivative laws for all descendant Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.The first Supreme Council was organized at Charleston S.C., in 1801, as the Mother Supreme Council of the World, and hence all regular and recognized Supreme Councils throughout the world must trace their pedigree to it.”
Tracing the roots of the Scottish Rite is a romantic and exciting quest for adventure in the realm of the mind and the spirit. It is a superb story of success – more intriguing than the storied search for the Holy Grail and more rewarding than a successful probe for the philosopher’s stone.
Our teachings and symbols preceded our formal organizations by thousands of years. They go deep into ancient ages.
The signs, symbols and inscriptions come from across long, drifting centuries and can still be observed from the tombs and temples of India to those of Nubia, through the Valley of the Nile in Egypt down to its Delta, as well as in what was then known as Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome and even in Mexico, Yucatan and the Andes.
The Scottish Rite, therefore, is a treasure house in which there is stored the ageless essence of immutable laws, the accumulation of thousands of years of human experience and wisdom.
We learn our mission in a system of progressive degrees of instruction.
Specific moral lessons are attached to the ritual of each degree, assisting thus the recipient to climb step by step the degrees of the Scottish Rite in order allow him to discover little by little the content and the mission of the Scottish Rite.
The Scottish Rite teaches its members the highest ethics, the wise expositions of philosophy and religion in a spirit of the widest tolerance, and fervently recommends the practice of charity.
The Scottish Rite code of conduct stems from the precepts of Chivalry, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. The Scottish Rite reveals truly the wisdom of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries and their symbols of words and phrases long considered lost.
These were the truths that Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, Homer and other intellects of the ages held in high esteem, that have reappeared in later religions, and that never were disclosed until after timely preparation of selected and trusted Initiates.
The Scottish Rite Degrees reflect the dedicated and patient work of sincere disinterested Brethren during many years, the culling of hundreds of volumes in order to transmit and share with us the knowledge they have thus acquired for our common benefit, rather than wasting a lifetime engaged in vain efforts to attain eminence or riches and hoard superfluous wealth, which anyway they will not be able to carry with them when called to the Grand Lodge above.
Our members therefore receive a gift of the greatest value. They gain access to a most comprehensive heritage of knowledge. In fact it depends only on themselves and the personal efforts they are willing to put, to take advantage of the rich sources of history, philosophy, religion and morality, that our predecessors have generously handed over to us.
They will thus be in a better position to understand their relationship to their Creator, their country, their community, their friends, their family and themselves.
It will help them in discovering their own identity and acquire the clarity of mind, energy and determination that is so necessary to propel them toward personal success in life.
We carry our mission in a series of spiritual, charitable and moral programs.
We hope that they will be able to participate effectively in carrying out the mission of the Scottish Rite, in its spiritual, and moral actions and programmes as well as in the dispensing of charity without regard to race, colour, or creed, while opposing spiritual despotism, political tyranny and every force or power that would seek to suppress freedom or crush human dignity.
The last degrees of the Scottish Rite are inspired by the ideals and principles of the mediaeval Orders of Chivalry in the Holy Land and some episodes of the Crusades, as well as by the legends related to the suppression of the ancient Order of Knights Templar and its assumed survival within the modern Order of Freemasonry.
Chivalric ceremonies have been adopted for the rituals of the Scottish Rite for their power to illustrate and explain further the same moral, spiritual and Masonic truths, which we already have been taught in Craft Masonry, and the universal value of which extends to all mankind and all cultures without distinction.
It should strongly be emphasised in this respect that insufficient evidence or proof is available in order to establish the possibility of a direct link between the old Chivalric Orders and the Masonic Higher Degrees.
To avoid any misunderstanding, it must be stressed therefore, that whenever our ritual says that “Masonic Tradition reports …” such statement is not meant to signify to us that the events, portrayed or referred to in the Scottish Rite ceremonies which they allude to, are historically true.
As much as in Craft Masonry, any wise Brother will understand that he should not look upon the story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple as depicted in the Masonic ritual, as a true account of historically established facts, or start digging as a stupid archeologist on and about Mount Moriah to try recovering the lost Master’s word, so likewise the Scottish Rite ritual is built upon legendary and poetic epics, the moral and spiritual content of which, is far more important for Masons than any presumed facts, upon which the ceremonies are based.
Using a distinctive method of teaching, which it has in common with the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt and Greece, Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite, through their solemn ceremonies, conveys a spiritual message veiled in allegories and symbols, meant to address the heart rather than the intellect, and which in order to be transmitted properly require from its recipients personal participation, patience and perseverance.
The Scottish Rite Degrees rituals span a long period of human history, covering episodes some of which are supposed to have taken place thousands of years ago in Ancient Israel, Egypt or Babylon, others at the time of Jesus Christ, others during the Crusades, and still other which provide the legendary link between Knights Templar and Speculative Masonry.
The Masonic ritual in the Scottish Rite Degrees, performed like a theatre play, with each actor performing his part, reinforced by attractive music, the use of dazzling costumes, elaborate paraphernalia, fantastic decorations and dramatic light effects, where the unprepared, ignorant candidate is himself part of the cast, and is made to play a central role in the ceremony, greatly contributes in creating that favourable emotional climate whereby the Scottish Rite Brother is most likely to best feel and understand the secret message which each degree is meant to convey.
In opposition to Craft Lodge ritual, which is as simple and stately as the Gothic style of Medieval Cathedrals, so is the ritual in the Scottish Rite Degrees as rich, varied and ornate as 18th century Baroque Architecture.
Truth is one but can be reached from many sides, it is like the many facets of a diamond.
Craft Masonry, Scottish Rite and York Rite are like different roads leading to the same place.
Masonic ceremonies have but one aim: to maintain our enthusiasm, to excite our intellectual curiosity, and to awaken our reflections, in order to help us to understand and assimilate those important spiritual truths and moral virtues, which extend beyond the grave, beyond time and space, through the boundless realms of eternity …
Are we not indeed, very tiny creatures living in a vast world and universe, that exceed by far our intellectual capacity and the limits of our short lives as mortals?
Jacques Huyghebaert, 33°
At present, the Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Czech Republic includes the following Workshops:
– 3 Lodges of Perfection: Labyrithus Mundi (Prague), Porta Lucis (Brno), Vysehrad (Prague)
– 2 Chapters: Elysium Cordis (Prague), Tabor (Prague)
– 2 Areopagus: Jan Hus (Prague) and Unum Necessarium (Prague)
The list of Sovereign Grand Commanders from the year 1922 to today:
8.5.1922 – 14.7.1939 Alfons Mucha
23.11.1991 – 5.1.1995 Prof. MUDr. Jiří Syllaba
5.1.1995 – 13.3.2000 Prof. MUDr. Jiří Šonka
13.3.2000 – 10.3.2003 Dipl. Ing. Arch. Christian Weger
10.3.2003 – 21.2.2011 Prof. MUDr. Jan Kvasnička
21.2.2011 – 18.11.2017 Mgr. Jakub Chalupa
18.11.2017 – Jiří Matouš
The creation of the Supreme Council 33° A&ASR for Czechoslovakia after October 28, 1918
Between two wars
Masonic activity was developed in the newly established State, after the partition of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, under the influence and with the help of organizations from abroad. A group of Brothers was initiated, towards the end of 1919, into the higher degrees under the auspices of the SC for Italy. A Provisional Supreme Council was established on January 12, 1920. A second group, led by A. Mucha, close to the Grand Orient of France, was received into the Scottish Rite thanks to the SC for Switzerland and managed to create the Supreme Council of Czechoslovakia in May 1922 and also, in the process, obtain international recognition on May 28, 1922. Subsequently the two groups merged into a single group that created and administered 2 Lodges of Perfection (L؞ of P؞ Vysehrad Valley of Prague, consecrated on 6.3.1926 and L؞ of P؞ Jimramov Valley of Brno), a Chapter Tabor, Valley of Prague (established 23.3.1924) and Areopagus Mistr Jan Hus (8.11 .1936).
The SC A&ASR for Czechoslovakia co-signed a Concordat with the National Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia on May 1, 1934 in accordance with Masonic protocol.
From occupation to the communist regime
The subsequent development not only of the Scottish Rite, but of Masonry in general, was interrupted by the Second World War. The Masonic organizations put themselves to sleep from the years 1938-1939. During the war and occupation of the country, many masons were persecuted, jailed and executed. After the war, the survivors restored the work in the Symbolic Lodges of the first three degrees. However, they were forced to resign in 1951, three years after the communist coup.
The awakening could take place after almost 40 years, following the fall of the communist regime towards the end of 1989.
After the fall of communism
The high degrees of the Scottish Rite survived the period of war and communism thanks to the principle of the continuity of the initiates at 33 °. The degree was transmitted by the Great Expert of the pre-war SC, the Ill. F. Frantisek Kaderavek, 33 °, and two other Brothers, one of them, the Ill. F. Jiri Syllaba, 33 °, survived the fall of communism and thus allowed, around him, the reestablishment of the Supreme Council of Czechoslovakia on 23. 11. 1991 by the Supreme Councils of the US Southern Jurisdiction, Italy and the Finland and also with the assistance of other representatives of the Scottish Rite from abroad.
The return to democracy enabled the revival of the symbolic Lodges under the Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia. A solemn ceremony with many foreign delegations completed this process on 17 November 1990. A year later, the legitimacy of the Supreme Council for Czechoslovakia was confirmed. When Czechoslovakia split peacefully into two countries, the Grand Lodge became the GL of the Czech Republic and the Supreme Council was named SC for the Czech Republic. The two organizations concluded a Concordat on 18 December 1996, referring to the pre-war tradition. The Masonic ties with the Slovak Republic have remained very close, despite the separation.
Regulars and Irregulars
The disintegration of the communist bloc in the early1990s opened this space also to irregular Masonic organizations. In Czechoslovakia the influence of France, Italy, Belgium and Holland was particularly felt. First appeared Lodges, later Grand Lodges: The Czech Grand Orient was founded by the Grand Orient of France, The Grand Lodge of the Czech Countries was created by the Grand Lodge of France, Humanitas Bohemiae, a mixed gender Grand Lodge, was initialy constituted by irregular Italian masonry but subsequently associated itself with the Dutch Catena. the international Masonic order „Le Droit Humain“ is present too.
The most important of these Masonic bodies, the Czech Grand Orient (the CGO) gradually moved away from its foreign godfathers, particularly with regard to their attitudes concerning to the Grand Architect of the Universe. mixed gender Freemasonry and female Freemasonry. After a long period of negotiations, the Grand Orient joined, the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic in 2008. The Brothers of the CGO certainly took an oath individually, but they entered this union by keeping their Lodges and their history. While the regular International Masonry agreed to this procedure and welcomed it by celebrating it, there was a small minority of Brothers in the Grand Lodge who did not agree. They decided to leave the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic in 2010 and they self proclaimed a so-called National Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic, a body which utterly failed in obtaining any international recognition. The Supreme Council, the majority of whose members were founders of this dissident GL, found itself in an uncomfortable position. It signed a Concordat with the dissidents and lost the Concordat with the regular GL. In 2013 a group of 12 Brothers holding the 33 °, from the original SC who had remained faithful to the Grand Lodge re-constituted a Czech Supreme Council, which was recognized by the SS CC of Belgium, Luxembourg and Serbia. Former CGO Brothers who had joined the GLCR in 2008 and held A&ASR degrees submitted applications to be affiliated with the re-constituted SC. After observing the conformity of the rituals and practices of these Brothers to the Grandes Constitutions, the Czech SC made them take an oath and integrated them with their workshops and their history.
Unity in the rules
In the summer of 2014, under the leadership of T.P. SGC Jean-Claude Chatelain, 33 °, the representatives of the two Supreme Councils agreed to seek a common path. The goal was not only the reunification of Hauts Degrees, but also the return of dissidents to the Grand Lodge. Of the two objectives only one succeeded, that which concerned the High Degrees.
On 18 November 2017, the Supreme Council for the Czech Republic (1922), affiliated the members of the Supreme Czech Council, receiving their oath according to the rules of the A&ASR first at during a 33rd degree Ceremony, presided by the TP SGC J.-C. Chatelain (Switzerland), assisted by TP SGC E. Desch (Germany) and TP SGC Pierre Noël (Belgium) in the presence of the Sovereign Grand Commanders of Turkey, Romania, Luxembourg, Mauritius and delegates of the Supreme Councils of Israel, Austria, Russia and Croatia. This was followed on the same day by a Lodge of Perfection held on the 4th which was intended, in front of all these Dignitaries, to receive the oath of all the Lodges of Perfection, Chapters and Areopagus of the Supreme Czech Council. By this act the Supreme Czech Council disappeared, while its several Masonic Bodies were integrated with all its members into the original SC. The Ceremony culminated in the signing of the Concordat between the SC and the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic.
Since then, the Supreme Council AASR for the Czech Republic participates intensively in the international activities and tries to prove that in spite of the obstacles that the history had put in its way, it has renewed its existence today strenghtened with the impulse which it received originally from Ill. Brother Alfons Mucha and his brothers in May 1922.