For a universal ritual
Why do you want to create a new rite?
It might seem out of place to imagine an additional and different ritual to the already long list of existing rituals.
And yet others have already done so by not hesitating to profoundly transform the message of the initiators of Freemasonry.
The proposed reflection is based on several observations:
- The set of current rituals can be understood with the data of Western Judeo-Christian culture;
- The current rituals, which for the most part date from the 19th century, are mystical and dogmatic rituals;
- Freemasonry, although wanting to be universal, still ignores the riches of other traditions!
To explain the approach, it is important to go back over our own history.
The paradox of Freemasonry:
Speculative Freemasonry appears at the beginning of the 18th century in England and Scotland in the political context of a 17th century marked by the Republic and then the dictatorship of Cromwell and an incredible war of various religions, more or less sectarian.
Everything happens as if the deep motivation that prevailed at the creation of speculative Freemasonry was the desire to pacify religious quarrels. After the forced restoration of order by Cromwell and the monarchical restoration with the reign of Charles II, inter-religious dissensions are still alive and freemasonry carried by high level personalities such as Isaac Newton, Théophile Désaguliers and Jacques Anderson brings a real answer to so much violence.
Although it could not impose itself as an alternative to other religions, Freemasonry nevertheless experienced a real craze in the philosophical circles of the 18th century and this throughout Europe. The paradox of Freemasonry could be summed up in a formula:
An English birth with little effect but a worldwide and universal resonance!
The success of freemasonry has favoured a multitude of interpretations and drifts, essentially on the mystical level, with a considerable addition of legends that have been grafted onto the initial legend of Hiram, but always nourished by the biblical reference.
An objective for a new ritual: respecting the essential, accentuating the universal character of the ritual.
If we admit that the essence of the Masonic approach is to be found in the will to pacify inter-religious social relations by advocating tolerance, respect for others and for oneself, and non-violence, we can clearly see how much this approach is still relevant in our turbulent world.
In order to accentuate the universal character of the Masonic approach, it would seem important to me to propose a new rite which, while retaining the essential teaching of the legend of Hiram, frees itself from an exclusive relationship with biblical culture.
What are the specifications for a universal ritual?
- A blue lodge functioning without "high" grades: it is clear that the rites offering multiple grades belong to the 18th century and that they have not proven their relevance. They can be understood in a Christian deist approach but they have the enormous disadvantage of referring to a past that today appears strongly tinged with ambiguities. Operating on three levels, besides being simpler to operate, allows us to approach all aspects of the existential problem. Currently, the functioning in 3 degrees is very impoverished: most of it takes place in the 1st degree; the 2nd and 3rd degrees are only used for salary increases in the 2nd degree and the elevation to mastery in the 3rd degree. It would be necessary to rebalance the functioning of the lodge so that these 3 degrees really play their roles.
- A ritual that is understandable to all cultures of the world: whether one is of African, Oceanian, Asian Indian or other origin, we must be able to have symbolic references that are common to us without an "adaptation". To achieve this goal, we are fortunate to have a common frame of reference for all the cultures of the world: it is Nature with the different cycles that are already referred to in some current rituals.
- To better specify the objectives of the work in lodge: we often hear that there would be "societal" lodges and "symbolic" lodges based on the supposed attraction of certain brothers and sisters for the work of reflection. In fact, historically the Masonic ritual did not really provide for reflection work; it was up to the speaker in a work that was similar to the sermon of the masses, to possibly draw inspiration from current events to present a plank that while drawing on the symbolism of the rite could give an interpretation related to factual events. The taking of the speech in the lodge, which dates from the 19th and especially the 20th century, is a great achievement for freedom of thought and it would seem important to us to specify the framework in which it takes place.
To be continued
Current Masonic rites
The first Masonic lodges did not function with a well elaborated and precise ritual; the first rituals available date back to the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century; they were limited to two then three degrees. It was only later and following individual initiatives that the main rites were codified. Here are the main known rites.
Rite of the Mason's Word (probably the oldest - circa 1630) practiced in particular by the Kilwinning Lodge No. 0 (the oldest lodge)
Rite of the Moderns
Rite of Old Duties
Standard Rite of Scotland
Rite of the Antients
Rite of Misraim
Rite of Memphis
Rite of Memphis- Misraim
Italian symbolic rite
Italian Philosophical Rite
Rite of adoption
Rite of Old Duties (no longer used)
Scottish Rite of 1962
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
Primitive Scottish Rite
Rectified Scottish Rite
Standard Rite of Scotland
Egyptian Masonic Rites
Restored Modern French Rite
Rite of Philalethes (no longer in use)
Rite of the Royal Secret (no longer used)
Solomon's operative rite
Rite of Schroeder
Rite of Strict Templar Observance
Rite of York
The ecumenical rite (created in 1950) seems to be the most recent (it is practiced by the Great Arab Ecumenical East).
All of these rites base their references on the biblical culture found in both Christianity and Judaism; the ecumenical rite is the only one which also makes reference to Arab culture.
Slowly, we are reflecting and working on this new ritual that will include three degrees.
Why only three degrees? We think that three degrees is enough to apprehend everything!
We really don't see the point of the high ranks!
This ritual is intended to be understandable by all cultures of the world and not to impose a hegemonic symbolic reading (as is the case with the Bible in the current Masonic rites).
This ritual is open to all, believers and non-believers alike, men and women!
As soon as it is ready, we will publish it for your comments, criticisms and proposals.
If you wish to participate in this project, don't hesitate to tell us!