Rosicrucianism within the Royal Arch: Part Three: A Practical Philosophy

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro James E. Frey 32°

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

In 1676 the first printed pamphlet referencing ‘Accepted Masons’ also shows another connection between the Rosicrucian Order and Freemasonry. “To give notice, that the modern Green-Ribbon’d Caball, together with the Ancient Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross; the Hermetick Adepti and the company of Accepted Masons intend all to dine together on the 31 of November next...” 

So since 1638 we have seen a correlation of Rosicrucian and Masonic Myth being merged as the Speculative Craft incorporated Rosicrucian Teachings into its System.  At this point in time Operative Guilds operated under two degrees Apprentice and Fellowcraft. There were two types of Masters at that time, which would be either the presiding Officer of a Lodge or the Mason who was granted the contract for the construction job and was named the Master of a job site.  So Master was a temporary position of administration documented but there is evidence of early practice of the Master Mason , Mark Master and Royal Arch degree before actual documentation of such.  

As the Speculative Craft in England forms the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 there is still only two degrees, it is not until 1725 that the rumors of theSpeculative degree beyond the Fellowcraft is documented.1725: 1st recorded High Degree “Our Beloved Brothers and Directors of this Right Worshipful Society… Brother Charles Cotton Esqe, Brother Papilln Ball, were regularly passed Masters.” –Philo Musicae et Architecture Societas, May 12, 1725” 

This Master Mason Degree is quickly absorbed into the Speculative United Grand Lodge of England and embraced as a part of the Masonic Ancient Craft Legend. The Master Masons degree is made public in “Masonry Dissected” in Oct 20, 1730 which gives clear evidence of the creation of the Third Degree. In 1743 in London is the first evidence of the Royal Order of Scotland. Bestowing the order of Knight of the Rosy-Cross and Knight of Heredom, who’s symbolism of a journey to a sacred tower is very similar in nature to symbolism of the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkrutz. But within this Rosy Cross degree the initiate received the “True Word” to replace the substitute word. “This would tend to prove that before the legend of Hiram Abiff was introduced  into the Master’s Degree the True Word was communicated in the Master’s degree and not a substitute Word.” (Past Grand High Priest William F Kuhn, The Necessity of the Royal Arch to the Master Mason) This means that the True Word was removed in the Master Mason’s Degree and the mythos of the Lost Word was adopted into the developing High degrees. This places the Royal Arch degree as equal importance to the Master Mason degree because it restores the True Word and Rosicrucian Teachings. 

“With Freemasonry the occult fraternity [Rosicrucians] has only this to do with it, i.e., that some of the Rosicrucians were also Freemasons; and this idea was strengthened by the fact that a portion of the curriculum of a Rosicrucian consisted in …that the building of Solomon’s Temple- they [Freemason] have merely moralized on life, death, resurrection… and the science, or morals, comprehends the application of these forms to intellectual purification, so the Rosicrucian doctrine” (Mackenzie, The Royal Masonic Cylopedia, pg. 615)

Also according to Mackenzie the Royal Arch degree was introduced by the schismatic body known as the Ancient Grand Lodge two years after their secession in 1738. The key symbolism is the Journey for the Lost word that was left incomplete in the Master Mason Degree which gave a substitute word. “Oliver thinks it certain that the royal arch was accepted by the moderns about 1776… this form of the Royal Arch being the invention of [Robert] Dunckerley. (Mackenzie, Royal Masonic Cyclopedia. Pg. 636)

Dunckerley was a member of the Royal Society and an avid student of Rosicrucianism and was also the assistant to the astrological and Alchemical work of Issac Newton, a fellow Mason and Royal Society member. So from the very inception of the Speculative Craft Royal Society Members placed Rosicrucian philosophy at the heart of Masonic allegory in the development of the High Degrees. Masonry sought to take the most basic tenants of Rosicrucian teaching and veiled it under a new allegory of symbols in order to make it more practical for the Reformed Europe. But the true understanding of Royal Arch Masonry lasts in the interpretation of its symbols through the lens of Rosicirucian teachings which has its roots in ancient Kabbalism and Hermeticism.


James E Frey 32° classifies himself as a gentleman of the old world, which means he is known to stand in the great forests reciting poetry to fair-haired damsels while wrestling bears for sport. He is a District Education Officer for the Grand Lodge of Illinois, a Past Sovereign Prince of the of Danville AASR, member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, Royal Order of Scotland, Quram Council Allied Masonic Degrees and initiate of the Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He is also a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry for the R.E.B.I.S Research Society.


  1. This is probably one of the best pieces of rare historical informational available on the web. Although I did have a rough idea about Mackenzie, the Royal Arch degree, I knew nothing about symbolism. Thank you so much for such an interesting and informative read!

  2. I will have agree with Bob. I enjoyed the history lesson involving the connection between the Rosicrucian and Freemasonry. Very interesting!

  3. In the 4th paragraph of this part 3, the author refers to the Master Masons degree being quickly absorbed into the "United Grand Lodge of England" shortly after 1725. The United Grand Lodge of England did not exist until 1813.

    The only London grand lodge in that 1725-1730 time period was the grand lodge of the Moderns, which did not identify itself as the "Grand Lodge of England," as it did not perceive itself to be a geographic grand lodge either extending to the four corners of the country, nor limited by the country's boundaries.

    Also, in the next to last paragraph, the author refers to the "Ancient Grand Lodge" as a "schismatic body." Of course, this is not true. There is no evidence that the members and lodges of the Ancients Grand Lodge, formed in 1751 at the Turk's Head Tavern in Greek Street, Soho, London, were ever members of the Moderns grand lodge. This myth of a schism in the grand lodge of the Moderns was dispelled by Henry Sadler, Librarian of the United Grand Lodge of England, in the late 19th century.

    At the time of the formation of the first grand lodge, there were a number of other lodges and Masons in London and all over England that did not participate in the formation of that first grand lodge. The grand lodge Masons came to refer to these other Masons as "Old Masons" or "St. John's Masons." In many respects, these other lodges and Old Masons represented an older tradition in Freemasonry. As a result, they came to be known as "Ancients," and the grand lodge Masons came to be known as "Moderns."

    The use of the term "Moderns" to describe that first grand lodge was in use during its first decade, and can be found in a well-known London newspaper clipping of 1726 that is critical of "the doctor and some of the Moderns" for their innovations into the customs and practices of Freemasonry. The "doctor" refers to Dr. John T. Desagulliers.

  4. The word is still present in the Master Mason degree of the French Rite.
    This word is the same as the one found in the 4th degree of the Rectified Scottish Rite. Here I just go ahead and assume it is the same word in the Royal Arch Degree.
    (just a proof of the thesis that the word moved out of the 3th degree)


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