Eventually after many seasons Sister Claude Darche released a book concerning the Higher Orders of Wisdom of the Modern Rite which deserves to be on the shelf of any Mason who wishes to understand this important branch of Freemasonry. This book, Vade-mecum des ordres de sagesse du rite français, by Claude Darche, which was published a few years ago, does not disclose anything new or previously unreported about the Modern or French Rite, but it offers a solid, well researched, and succinct account of the nature of the Higher Orders of the Modern Rite. It also does so in a compact format, (7.5 x 0.3 x 4.9 inches) with some lovely photography to give a sense of the rich visual and material culture associate with this rite. It also puts into book form the introductions to the rituals, in those moments where the harness used where indicated, decorations, words, and then summarizes the five Wisdom degrees of the French Rite.
The nicest facet of this book is that in 110 pages of a small format, we have a sound summary of the essence of the Orders of Wisdom, and in Chapter 1 the Honorable Sister Darche stresses a fact which needs to be emphasized, that the French Rite is not the heritage of the Grand Orient of France, but is practiced by many other allegiances, both new and those with old roots.
She also notes that within the rite are two trends of adogmatic and liberal Freemasonry, and that the GODF represent one extreme, which emphasizes the socializing trend, and the other which may be characterized as embracing a more philosophical-symbolic spirit, are those who sought the consensus of other Brothers, outside and inside the lodges of the GODG and sought the ritual essence that is still practiced even today in The Hague.
There are some areas where one might have wished to see greater detail, such as the history of the Modern Rite in Brazil and the recovery of the degree of Knight Kadosh already discussed at some length elsewhere by Brother Ludovic Marcos.
One aspect of this book is especially interesting and I think symbolically fitting is its reduction to the essential focal points of the subject, because in that it so perfectly models the inspiration in the writing of the Modern Rite's rituals, where the formal excess so common in some other rites has been eliminated. All in all, this represents a small but very handy little book. It provides a clear impression of what the Higher Orders of Wisdom are.
Vade-mecum des ordres de sagesse du rite français