Rituals of the Order

Continuing the brief introdution to Danish freemasonry (see the list of rulers) …

The Danish Order of Freemasons historically has utilised three distinct rituals, all of which are overtly Christian (not counting the early days, 1743-1765, when freemasonry was decentralised, and the lodges likely used ritual from English influence):

Charter1765-1782: Strict Observance
The Strict Observance (or: Order of the Interior) was founded by Karl Gotthelf, Reichfreiherr von Hund und Altengrotkau (ca. 1750) in Germany where it spread rapidly, finding a strong footing in noble society. One of von Hund’s companions, Johann Christian Schubart, met with Count Danneskiold-Laurvig, the Grand Master of Denmark, who invited him to Copenhagen to convince the Danish brethren to join the SO. He succeeded, and von Hund became de facto the Grand Master of the Danish “province” of German chivalric freemasonry. The system collapsed upon von Hund’s death in 1776 and floundered until the convent of Wilhelmsbad in 1782.

Note: Even today the Danish Order still uses von Hund’s motto (“U.U.U.”), and Denmark has retained the degree of Noviciate, which doesn’t otherwise exist in the Swedish Rite.

1782-1858: Rectified Rite
Following the Convent of Wilhelmsbad Denmark introduced the Rectified Rite. Notice the lack of “Scottish” – it seems that only the first three degrees were imported, but I know of at least one “Scottish” lodge in Denmark, so I am not sure how that fits in. Finding information about this period has proven surprisingly difficult; the rite simply doesn’t appear to be held in very high regard among our Masonic historians. I shall endeavour to add to this section later – I hope to compare Danish rituals from this period with what is practised elsewhere, even today, as Rectified Scottish Rite/Rite Écossais Rectifié.

Karl1858-today: Swedish System
This ritual was created (in Sweden, yes) by Carl Fredrik Eckleff, even as von Hund was propagandating the Strict Observance; it was later picked up by Duke Karl of Sudermania (later King Karl XIII of Sweden), who made major revisions in 1780 and as late as 1800. It was, as SO, a form of chivalric freemasonry. It was introduced in 1852 through St. John’s Lodge Kosmos in Elsinore, north of Copenhagen, just a short trip across the sound from Sweden, as the local brethren were overwhelmed by the depth and beauty of the system. King Frederick VII of Denmark, Grand Master at the time, allowed them to use the system and was soon won over himself. In 1858 he founded the Grand Lodge of Denmark (not in the sense of a bureaucratic system, but as the highest templar degrees being worked in full).

Pictures: von Hund’s charter, written in ciphre, signed by the “Unknown Superiors”; it is kept in the archives in Freemasons Hall in Copenhagen. And Duke Karl.


5 thoughts on “Rituals of the Order

  1. Short answer: No.

    I seem to remember a quote that mentions “Swedenborgian elements” in Swedish Rite, and so it must have been perpetuated, but I cannot find it at the present. But it is not true. He had an interest in freemasonry, but IF he was ever made a freemason it was never in the Swedish Rite, and he was kept at arm’s length. Still, he was “of the times”, so it’s hard to say with complete certainty that he had nothing to do with it. But certainly not directly, and definitely not “much”.

    More on Swedenborg and “his” rite:

  2. “Another interesting anecdote illustrating Swedenborg’s extraordinary visionary ability concerned John Wesley (1703-1791), celebrated evangelist, theologian and founder of the Methodist Church. Swedenborg, as a result of one of his visions, wrote to Wesley that he felt that Wesley desired to converse with him and he would be quite pleased to see him. Wesley was greatly surprised as he had been thinking about him and his works for some weeks. He responded quite apologetically that he would accept his kind invitation as soon as he returned from an extensive six month evangelistic tour on which he was about to leave. Swedenborg replied shortly after that it would then be too late as he would enter the spirit world on the 29th day of March, 1772, which proved to be the exact date of his passing as predicted.”

    Swedenborg Hall in London is today used as a meeting place for numerous Masonic, Rosicrucian and esoteric Orders.

  3. Regarding the Scottish Rectified Rite, it is held in the utmost & highest regard by Masonic Scholars. The lack of information available on the internet is simply due to the sub-rosa nature of this system which is known to be the oldest continually worked and mostly unaltered system of regular freemasonry around today. Ragon, Wirth, Jolly, Amadou and others cover it extensively as do many other French historians and Masons. Check out the archives of AQC and you will will find a great deal on the RER.

    A.E. Waite covers it quite a bit in his work as well as in his diaries. I would refer you to Rev. Knight Trevor Stewart’s work for an English version of the history with great insight: http://www.septentrionebooks.co.uk/

    My own book on the history of the RER is due out in a years time on MortonBooks.

  4. Thank you for your information, Sheihan – I have bookmarked your site, and will keep an eye out for your book.

    I should clarify that I refer not to a lack of Internet sources, but first hand material from our Order. The rituals etc. are in the archives, of course, and I look forward to perusing them. But one of the things that have struck me as slightly odd, and is something that I intend to investigate, is that the available lectures (in the Order’s extensive library) describes the variant that made it to Denmark, as a three degree system.

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