History

Modern Freemasonry was established in the British Isles at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, at a time when the guild lodges of operative stone-masons started to admit more and more outsiders. Operative masonry gradually changed into speculative Freemasonry. In the year 1717 four purely speculative lodges in London, which were only symbolically connected to the traditions of the operative masons lodges, joined together to form the first Grand Lodge. The vicar James Anderson provided them with a constitution with the title "The Charges of a Freemason" (known in German as "Die Alten Pflichten"), which until today represent the principles of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry did not develop at the same rate everywhere. Freemasonry was also present in Scotland from earliest times. Due to the political situation of the times, Scottish emigrants influenced the development of Freemasonry in France. From them arose the connection with the Templar Order, which influenced architecture in their homeland. The disappeared Templar Order was considered to be precursor of a universal culture, and was the symbolic foundation of Freemasonry based on Christian principles. These days, "Scottish Freemasonry" is considered to only be that of the higher degrees.

Freemasonry is a mixture of the ancient tradition of mystic initiation and the rationalism of the period of Enlightenment. This combination caused it to grow very rapidly in the revolutionary atmosphere of the 18th century. In some cases, misinterpretations and aberrations occurred. One of these aberrations was "Strict Observance", which based itself on a dubious knightly romanticism. Many lodges on the European mainland joined it.

It was soon realised that the "Strict Observance" was not the correct way forward, and a correction process set in, the results of which characterise European Freemasonry to this day. At the Lyon Convention in 1778 and at the Wilhelmsbad Congress in 1782, the Rectified Scottish Rite was came into being. Knightly symbolism became a model for a way of life based on Christian principles. In Switzerland, the Independent Grand Priory of Helvetia carries these thoughts forward. Similar systems developed in other countries, with which our organisation maintains friendly relations.

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