Category Archives: French Rite


Clearly alchemical symbols are not common in Freemasonry. An exception is the ‘room of contemplation’, also ‘room of preparation’ or ‘dark room’. This is a fairly common practice for European initiations. After French usage the room is often adorned with alchemical symbolism and symbols of mortality. Bread, salt, the symbol of sulphur, the anagram VITRIOL, etc.

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Temple on Side

A French tracing board from the early 1700’s has a temple on its side and also the Master’s chair is flipped over. Feddersen (F/19a and F/24) describes it as a third degree tracing board, but the pillars at the entrance are also broken, so this is not your typical third degree as these elements may refer to a destroyed temple.


A Pelican feeding its children with its own blood in front of a Rose Cross. This is a typical image of the 18th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (“Knight Rose Croix”). It can also be found in the “4th Order” of the French Rite higher degrees and the 18th degree of Memphis-Misraim (“Knight Rose Croix”).

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Compasses and Protractor

A “Past Master” is a Freemason who has been Worshipful Master of a lodge. Some “craft” lodges have the emblem above for the Past Master. Later “Past Master” became part of systems of additional degrees, such as the York Rite and the French Rite higher degrees (2nd order). The sun in the middle is not always part of the Past Master symbol. The fifth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (“Perfect Master”) also has this symbol without the sun. In the rite of Memphis-Misraim the Compasses and Protractor with sun are the emblem of the 14th degree (“Grand Elect”).

Interestingly, the image can also be found on an image (of a tracing board) of the oldest known ‘high degree’ ritual from 1747. See here.