Historic news from the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Valley of New Orleans. On April 4th - 6th, 2008, the Orient of Louisiana will host a joint Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) & Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) Scottish Rite reunion class.
The NMJ's Valley of Chicago and its degree teams will travel to the Valley of New Orleans bringing with them a class of their own candidates. They will be joined by SJ candidates from the Orient of Louisiana and others. The two degree teams will confer the required degrees from both jurisdictions upon the class.
Almost as unusual, attendees will have the rare opportunity to witness an exemplification of the Scottish Rite Entered Apprentice degree by Louisiana's 16th Masonic District Degree Team with the permission of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F&AM. Louisiana is the only Masonic jurisdiction in the U.S. where the Scottish Rite Craft degrees (sometimes known as "red lodge" degrees) are regularly worked in a small handful of lodges that are descended from French predecessors.
According to a 1949 article from J. Chris Nungesser, PGM,
Because Louisiana Masonry was born of a diverse parentage, its origin and early history had a marked effect on the esoteric work. Although Charters were granted Lodges in Louisiana by Grand Lodges working in the York Rite, nevertheless, the new Lodges continued to work in the Mother tongue and used Rituals largely derived from the French or Modern Rite. When the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was organized, there were Lodges working in the York Rite, the French or Modern Rite and one in the Scotch Rite under a Charter from the Grand Consistory of Jamaica.
The divergent views held because of the several Rites during the early period of Masonry in Louisiana was the cause of much strife and dissension. In an effort to give each Rite proper recognition, the Grand Lodge was made up of Symbolic Chambers, one for the York Rite, one for the Scottish Rite and one for the French Rite. This chapter of the history of Louisiana Masonry is most interesting, and perhaps might well be the subject of a future article.
After the adoption of the Constitution in 1850, the York Rite was the only official Rite recognized, but the old Lodges adhered to forms of the Scotch Rite and the French or Modern Rite. Even after 1885 when, through the work of R.W. Brother John C. Gordy, the esoteric work was made uniform, the Lodges mentioned continued to use the same rituals and have done so to this day with the permission of the Grand Lodge. It was not until 1921 that the Grand Lodge passed a resolution prohibiting any new Lodges except those working in the York Rite in which same year the last of the Scottish Rite Lodges was chartered.
The ten Lodges in the City of New Orleans which do not use the York Rite and are commonly referred to as the
"Scottish Rite Lodges" are as follows:
Etoile Polaire No. 1 .(1794) (French)
Perserverance No. 4 (1810) (English, formerly French)
Cervantes No. 5 (1842) (Spanish)
Germania No. 46 (1844) (English, formerly German)
Kosmos No. 171 .(1864) (English, formerly German)
Union No. 172 (1865) (English)
Dante No. 174 (1866) (Italian)
Galileo Mazzini No. 368 (1917) (English, formerly Italian)
Albert Pike No. 376 .(1919) (English)
Paul M. Schneidau No. 391 (1921) (English)
The Lodges now working in English use the same Ritual but it is different from the ones they formerly used before converting to English. Neither is this Ritual a translation of either the French, Italian or Spanish Ritual and, therefore, there is no uniformity in Ritual among these ten so called Scottish Rite Lodges.
Suffice it to say that the continuation of these various Rituals in Louisiana is unique, and Masons from other Jurisdictions who have witnessed the Degrees here, or in their own Jurisdictions when the work was exemplified by visiting teams, had naught but praise for their beauty, eloquence and profoundness of meaning.