The Two Headed Eagle

Origins of The Two Headed Eagle, now associated with The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite

R.W.Bro. W.J. Chetwode Crawley
IMAGE CREDIT:  irishmasonichistory.com

One of our earliest and best known Irish Masonic researchers was the late R.W. Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley LL.D. D.C.I. Past Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of Instruction in The Grand Lodge of Ireland, Founder Member and frequent contributor to Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 U.G.L.E. and a full member of The Supreme Council 33rd Degree Ancient & Accepted Rite of Ireland.

Buried away in Volume 24 of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum issued in the year 1911, is a fascinating and little-known article entitled ‘Two Corner Stones Laid in the Olden Time’.

Here we are going to look briefly at the first of these cornerstones which sets out the origins of the two-headed eagle, probably the most ornamental and most ostentatious feature of the Supreme Council 33rd Degree Ancient and Accepted (Scottish ) Rite, comprising a carving of a double-headed eagle, surmounted by an imperial crown.

In the case of Supreme council this device seems to have been adopted sometime after 1758, initially, by a high grade known as Emperors of the East & West: Researches suggest that this marks its first involvement with Freemasonry, before it became the symbol representative of the Sovereign Prince Masons of the Rite of Perfection.

Then in 1801, The Rite of Perfection with its 25 degrees was amplified at Charleston U.S.A. into the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Thirty-Three degrees, which continued to use the double -headed eagle, as its most distinctive symbol.

rite of perfection
IMAGE CREDIT:  irishmasonichistory.com

Fascinating as all the foregoing may be, we have to go back some 5000 years to find the origins of this symbol in the city of Lagash in southern Babylonia.

Here in the year 3000BC, when the King of the day – Gudea had its origin recorded on his terracotta cylinder scrolls, which still survived and are now held in the collections of The Louvre.

The story recorded on these cuneiform cylinders clearly proves that the double-headed eagle of Lagash is the oldest royal crest in the world. It was in use some 1000 years before the exodus from Egypt and more than 2000 years before the building of King Solomon’s Temple.

For those of you who still have access to a Masonic library and museum, I would highly recommend a visit when you can study the full detail provided by our erudite Brother.

Article by: Robert Bashford

Further Reading:

Read more on the symbolism and use of the double-headed eagle within other cultures https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-headed_eagle

Discover Irish Freemasonry –

http://www.irishmasonichistory.com/history-of-irish-freemasonry.html

Recent Articles: symbolism

The Cable Tow Unbound

The Cable Tow: Its Origins, Symbolism, & Significance for Freemasons - Unbinding the significance of the cable tow.

more....

Who was Tubal-cain?

Who was Tubal-cain, a biblical figure; a smith, and master of metallurgy?

more....

The Great Journey

We examine at one of the most impressive moments of the initiatory ceremony, a certain rite known as Circumambulation, and ask what is its meaning and purpose ?

more....

On the Level

So, what is the Level? And why do we use it in Freemasonry?

more....

The Pigpen Cipher

What is the mysterious pigpen or Masonic cipher that has been used for centuries to hide secrets and rituals?

more....

The Story of the Royal Arch - The Mark Degree

Extracted from William Harvey's 'The Story of the Royal Arch' - Part 1 describes the Mark Degree, including the Working Tools.

more....

Ashlars - Rough, Smooth - Story of a Stone

How we can apply the rough and smooth Ashlars with-in a masonic context

more....

The Chamber of Reflection

A detailed look at the Chamber of Reflection: A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice.

more....

Faith, Hope & Charity

Exploring the origin and symbolism of Faith, Hope and Charity

more....

The Noachite Legend and the Craft

What is it to be a true Noachidae, and what is the Noachite Legend and the Craft ?

more....

Jacob’s ladder

In Masonic rituals, Jacob’s ladder is understood as a stairway, a passage from this world to the Heavens.

more....

Meaning of the Acacia

What is the meaning of the Acacia and where did it originate ?

more....

The Feasts of St John

What is the connection with the Feasts of St John and Freemasonry

more....

Forget Me Not

The Forget-Me-Not and the Poppy - two symbols to remind us to 'never forget' those who died during the two World Wars.

more....

The Two Pillars

Biblical history surrounding the two pillars that stood at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple

more....

Judaism and Freemasonry

Is there a direct link between Judaism and Freemasonry?

more....

The Beehive

The symbolism of the beehive in Masonry and its association with omphalos stones and the sacred feminine.

more....

Corn Wine Oil

The Wages of an Entered Apprentice

more....

The North East Corner

An explanation of the North East corner charge which explores beyond one meaning Charity - Extracted from William Harvey – the Complete Works

more....

The Two Headed Eagle

Origins of The Two Headed Eagle, now associated with The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite

more....

A Masonic Interpretation

A Masonic Interpretation of the Quran's First Two Chapters

more....

Audi Vide Tace

The three Latin words -a good moto for the wise freemason

more....

masonic knowledge

making good men better

share the square with two brothers

click image to open email app on mobile device

Share this article ....