Of all the degrees beyond the Craft, one of the most sought after and respected is the 18º of the Ancient and Accepted Rite (or ‘Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix’) normally referred to as the Rose Croix Degree. The Ancient and Accepted Rite is an Order of Freemasonary as old as the Craft itself. In the ceremony of joining a Rose Croix Chapter, a brother is 'Perfected' as a 'Prince Rose Croix of Heredom'. In England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, this degree is specifically Christian.
This degree is the 18th of the 33 degrees of the Rite and is a Christian Degree open to any brother who:
- has been a Master Mason for at least one full year, and
- professes the Trinitarian Christian Faith.
The Rose Croix Degree is not just another degree. The ceremony demands real thought and Christian understanding and amplifies the teachings of Craft Masonry within a Christian context. This is why all candidates for membership must profess the Trinitarian Christian Faith.
Membership of the Order is not exclusively by invitation. Any Brother who is interested may enquire from the District Recorder or the Recorder of any Chapter listed in the Cambridgeshire Masonic Year Book.
In the ceremony, the Candidate is taken through several rooms which figuratively represent his spiritual and Masonic life from Craft Masonry, through despair, to a Rose Croix Chapter and the discovery of the Lost Word. At the start, he is taken from a Master Mason (3º) to a 17º Mason, a Knight of the East and West, of symbolic age, coming – as the ritual explains - at a time of dire calamity with but incomplete pre-Christian knowledge.
The ceremony of the 18° seeks the Perfection of Christian virtues in Faith, Hope and Charity. It is an immensely thought provoking, impressive and beautiful ceremony which instils an even greater warmth of the Brotherly love, on which the whole Masonic movement is founded.
Following perfection, the ensuing "feast of fraternal affection" is a wonderful moment of shared Freemasonry all too often lost in other degrees.
The Rose Croix, like Freemasonry as a whole, is not a religion. It does, however, serve to point the way. It is this which makes Rose Croix so important, encompassing all we seek, while pointing us clearly to the Trinitarian Christian Faith.
The regalia for the 18th Degree is both simple and spectacular comprising a jewel appended to a red collar embroided with the symbols and emblems of the Degree in gold braid.