The symbol most widely recognized as Scottish Rite Masonry is the
Double-Headed Eagle of Lagash. It is one of the oldest Royal Crests in
the existence. This symbol has been in use at least a thousand years before
the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and more than 2,000 years before the
building of King Solomon's Temple.
Records indicate that in the early
days of modern
Freemasonry the Double-Headed Eagle was first used
around 1758 by a Masonic body in Paris. That Masonic body
was known as “The Emperors of the East and West”, and controlled the advanced
Degrees then in use. It is these degrees that became a precursor of the Ancient
Accepted Scottish Rite.
Our Double-Headed Eagle features the white-ribboned motto, pendant
from the hilt of the sword to the point, and displaying the Latin “SPES
MEA IN DEO EST”, which translates “My Hope Is In God”. As a
Scottish Rite Mason you will recognize this phrase from the lessons
taught in the 31°.
Generally, the symbolic meaning of this symbol in the Scottish Rite
is that of duality contained in or resolving itself in unity. Among
other things, it reminds us that as man we are composed of both body and
spirit, that he is both temporary and eternal; that both good and evil
exist in the world and that we must perpetually espouse good while
opposing evil. It also reminds us that knowledge comes both from study
and insight; and that our obligations are both to ourselves and to
others; that both faith and reason are necessary.
The various symbols of the Scottish Rite do not easily reveal their
meanings to us; furthermore, there may be many meanings to any one
symbol. Only after thought and reflection do they fulfill their function
and begin to trigger ideas in the mind.