Long used as the insigne of a Scottish Rite Mason, the "Double Headed Eagle of Lagash" is now the accepted emblem in the United States of America of the 32 Degree. It is the oldest crest in the world. It was a symbol of power more than two thousand years before the building of King Solomon's Temple. No other heraldic bearing, no other emblematic device of today can boast such antiquity.
The double-headed eagle first originated in the mighty Sumerian city of Lagash. From cylinders taken from the ruins of this ancient city, the double-headed eagle seems to have been known to the kings of the time as the Storm Bird. From the Sumerians this symbol passed to the men of Akkad, from whom it was brought to the Emperors of the East and West by the Crusades. Charlemagne first made use of the double-headed eagle when he became head of the German Empire, the two heads denoting the union of Rome and Germany, in AD 802.
There seem to be some who believe that the double-headed eagle may have been a Masonic symbol as early as the twelfth century, but, it probably was first known to Freemasonry in 1758, upon the establishment of the Council of Emperors of the East and West in Paris. This was a part of the Rite of Perfection, a rite of twenty-five degrees, from which was evolved a large part of the present system of Scottish Rite.
The successors today of the council of Emperors of the East and West, are the various Supreme Councils of the Thirty-third Degree throughout the world. They have inherited the insignia of the personal emblem of Frederick the Great, First Sovereign Grand commander, who conferred upon the rite the right to use in 1786; at which time seven additional Degrees were "Adopted" making thirty-two "Ancient" and "Accepted" Degrees to which was added a governing Degree, the 33rd.
The double headed eagle of Lagash is a white and black eagle. The head, neck, legs and tips of the wings are white, while the body and wings are black. Its wings are extended, yet drooping; in its claws is a naked sword, one talon of the right claw clutching the hilt of the steel serpentine shaped blade, the left claw grasping the blade.