The Swedish Rite
The four Grand Lodges in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are all working “The Swedish Rite” which was developed in Stockholm during the second half of the 18th century and finished in the year 1800 under the leadership of Duke Carl, later King Carl XIII.
The four Orders, Swedish Order of Freemasons (SFMO), Danish Order of Freemasons DDFO), The Norwegian Order of Freemasons (DNFO) and The Icelandic Order of Freemasons (IFMO), are all sovereign Masonic bodies working the same rituals.
In Finland there is a Grand Chapter which as a part of the Swedish Order of Freemasons is working The Swedish Rite.
The Swedish Rite
The Swedish Rite has its origin in the work led by first Carl Friedrich Eckleff and subsequently Duke Carl of Södermanland (the later King Carl XIII of Sweden) during the second half of the 18th century and finished in 1800.
The rituals and the fundamental laws of Carl XIII governing the system still constitute – with few modifications – the foundation for the work in The Swedish Rite.
It is a progressive, continuous and homogenous system through its eleven degrees.
Each degree leads to the next and each degree sums up the contents of the preceding degrees.
To ensure that each degree is kept separate and distinct, different lodge rooms are used, each specially designed for its degree.
The way of working is also unique based on the lodge room, the ritual and the individual examination in each degree.
There is one ritual for advancement in each degree and the Worshipful Master follows a manuscript when working a Lodge but some parts of the ritual must be memorised and performed by heart.
The system is grouped into three divisions with ten degrees altogether, which every brother can reach eventually.
Progression through the degrees is slow, especially in the higher degrees, although with some variation between the four countries. A brother will typically reach the X degree after some 12-20 years’ time.
The last (XI) 11th degree called Knight Commander of the Red Cross is almost exclusively for officers in the Grand Lodge.
St John’s (Craft) degrees (I – III): 1st degree – Apprentice, 2nd degree – Fellow Craft and 3rd degree – Master Mason. This division is closely related to the rituals in Craft lodges and the normal time for a brother is to be a raised Master in two to three years.
St Andrew’s (Scottish) degrees (IV-VI): 4th-5th degrees –Very Worshipful Apprentice and Fellow of St Andrew, and 6th degree – Illustrious Scottish Master of St Andrew.This division follows the St John’s degrees as the degrees in Mark Master Masons and Royal Arch does in other jurisdictions, and has its own rituals and lodge rooms. A brother can reach the sixth degree in about four to six years.
Chapter degrees (VII – X): 7th degree – Very Illustrious Brother, 8th degree – Most Illustrious Brother, 9th degree – Enlightened Brother of St. John’s Lodge and 10th degree – Very Enlightened Brother of St. Andrew’s Lodge.
This division is related to rituals in Great Priories and Supreme Councils but has its own rituals and lodge rooms. A brother can reach the tenth degree in some 12-20 years after his entry as an apprentice in the St John’s Lodge.
The Chapter also includes the final (XI) degree: Most Enlightened Brother, Knight Commanders of the Red Cross. This degree is almost exclusively for officers in the Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Masters.
The Swedish Rite is based on the Christian faith.
In The Swedish Rite the brother is supposed to be searching for his personal development and to practice friendship and charity.
He is supposed to accept the Christian faith. During his travel through the degrees he is supposed to grow in his own understanding of the basic principles of Christianity that should bring value to his life and develop his relation to his fellow brother.
In this way he is also supposed to grow in his understanding of and his belief in God. Likewise he is guided closer to the answers to the eternal questions: Where have I come from, what is my task in life and where am I heading to?
During the whole progress from the first degree to the tenth, the brother is member of the same Order. Each division of degrees: the St John’s Lodge, the St Andrew’s Lodge and the Chapter, enjoys a certain amount of autonomy, but they are all nevertheless under the rule of the Sovereign Grand Master.