local Scottish Rite organization, called a "Valley," confers the
4th through 32nd degrees in degree-conferring meetings. The Scottish Rite
is sometimes called the "College of Freemasonry," because it
uses extensive allegory and drama to emphasize the message of its degrees.
The degree work may, but not necessarily, be completed at one time.
The Scottish Rite shares the belief of all
Masonic organizations that there is no higher degree than that of Master
Mason. The degrees are in addition to, and in no way "higher"
than, those of Blue Lodge, or Craft Lodge, Masonry. Scottish Rite degrees
simply amplify and elaborate on the lessons of the craft, providing
further knowledge of Masonry, the building of the Temple, and ancient
religions, with memorable lessons ranging from the days of chivalry to
Scottish Rite Degrees
The Degrees of the Scottish
Rite are one-act plays often staged with costume, scenery, special
effects, and the full rigging of any production. Their purpose is to
examine different philosophies, ancient religions, and systems of ethics.
Through all of these, people have tried to answer certain universal
questions. The Degrees of the Rite do not tell a person what he should
think about these questions. Instead, they tell him about what great
thinkers and civilizations of the past have thought, and they try to
create a situation in which the candidate or Brother can gain insight.
Agreeing with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living, the
Rite helps with this self-examination by providing reference points.
Theatre is the oldest known means of teaching,
especially of teaching abstract ideas. It was one of the principal means
of instruction in the Middle Ages as well as in ancient Greece and Rome.
Masonry borrows the techniques of theatre to make its lessons more
impressive and to aid the candidate in forming the beginnings of what it
is hoped will be a lifelong pattern of study and thought. Most of the
Degrees are set in ancient Israel because it is from the legends
surrounding King Solomon's Temple that Masonry takes many of its parables
and lessons. Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe also serve as Degree
Almost every Master Mason who is afforded an
opportunity to petition for the Scottish Rite Degrees naturally raises the
question in his mind, "Why should I take the Scottish Rite
Degrees?" It is a fair and quite appropriate question for him to ask
as it is of utmost importance that the prospective initiate have a clear
and definite understanding of what the Rite stands for and is endeavoring
to accomplish. Here are a few reasons.
The Scottish Rite Degrees give us a sense of
historical values and standards. Today is the child of yesterday, and no
one can understand the significance of the epochal events that are shaking
the world unless he sees them from the vantage point of history. Out of
the crises of the past, man has discovered principles that are as solid as
the mountains, as enduring as the stars.
The moral truths that prevailed in Jerusalem,
Athens, and Rome are just as valid, just as imperative in the digital 21st
century. In his confidence in the reality of these principles, man has
built his faith in the permanent value of moral truth. Here is to be found
the basis of optimism, of faith in the free institutions, and of
confidence in a civilization resting on ethical principles. No man can
witness the Degrees of the Scottish Rite and be either a cynic or a
pessimist. They renew his faith in God, in man, and in the process of
The Scottish Rite Degrees put into picturesque
but explicit language the civic and social ideals implicit in the Blue
Lodge Degrees. For centuries, Freemasonry has been a tremendous force for
enlightenment, freedom, and social progress in Europe and in the Americas.
It was neither caprice nor mere prejudice that caused the Nazis and
Fascists to proscribe Freemasonry. Why did the Nazi oppressors hate
Masonry? Why did they violate the sacred emblems of the Craft? Why did
they hunt down with ruthless cruelty our Masonic leaders? Particularly,
why did the totalitarians persecute "Masons of all Degrees"?
They knew that tyranny is threatened wherever a Masonic Lodge or Temple
Freemasonry is a compelling and conquering
spiritual force, and the reasons are revealed in the Scottish Rite
Degrees. Scottish Freemasonry is the foe of intolerance, fanaticism, and
superstition. It battles every form of racial and sectarian prejudice and
bigotry. It is a mighty exponent of freedom in thought, religion, and
government. Thus, the Scottish Rite is a rite of instruction. It
interprets the symbols and allegories of Masonry in the light of history
and philosophy using the words of the supreme prophets of humanity,
ceremonies of the great religions of the world, and significant episodes
from history to point the moral and adorn the tale.
The Scottish Rite makes application of the
doctrines of Freemasonry to every realm of human activity. The individual
Mason is taught to put into practice in his personal life and thought the
lessons learned in the Blue Lodge.
Socially, the Scottish Rite is Freemasonry
Militant, not in the sense of propaganda and agitation, nor by endorsing
specific causes or sponsoring particular political movements, but by
showing through illustrations from history and human evolution how the
Mason may make his influence felt for the principles of free thought, free
government, free education, and free religion. The Scottish Rite Mason is
the foe of intolerance, bigotry, and ignorance in all their forms. That is
what the Scottish Rite Degrees are all about.
The degrees of the Scottish Rite are divided into
six sections, originally there were seven, but the 15th and 16th Degrees
(originally a section to itself called the Council of Princes of
Jerusalem) were merged with the Chapter of Rose Croix.
There are four coordinate bodies within the Scottish
Rite Southern Jurisdiction:
1. Lodge of Perfection, 4°-14° (presiding officer - Venerable Master)
2. Chapter of Rose Croix, 15°-18° (presiding officer - Wise Master)
3. Council of Kadosh, 19°- 30° (presiding officer - Commander)
4. Consistory, 31°- 32° (presiding officer - Master of Kadosh)
Some Valleys may not have all four divisions. In such
cases, their candidates receive Council, Chapter or Consistory work in
In addition, we have added a new section which
we call The Court of Honour.
1. Knight Commander of the Court of Honour, K:.C:.C:.H:.
The Scottish Rite confers a
number of honors upon members who have contributed extraordinary service
to the Rite, to Masonry in general, and to the world at large. The first
of these is the Rank and Decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of
Honour (KCCH), which may be conferred after a minimum of 46 months of
membership (usually much longer) and is strictly limited in numbers. A
KCCH may, after 46 months at that rank (but usually longer), receive the
33rd degree, Inspector General Honorary. This award is even more limited
in numbers than the KCCH.
2. Inspector General Honorary, 33o
All Scottish Rite
jurisdictions nominate a select few members to receive the 33rd Degree,
Inspector General Honorary, in recognition of outstanding service to the
Rite, or in public life, to the principles taught in the degrees. In the
Southern Jurisdiction, the Supreme Council chooses 33rd degree members
from among those who have previously received the rank and decoration of
Knight Commander Court of Honor. The KCCH is bestowed in a Ceremonial of
Investiture in recognition of outstanding service to the Rite, or in
public life, to the principles taught in the degrees.
3. Grand Cross of the Court of Honour
Finally, a very small number
of 33rd Degree Inspectors General Honorary may be recognized with the
Grand Cross of the Court of Honor; at the present time, there are perhaps
an average of three or four GC's per state. These honors are voted on
biennially at the Session of the Supreme Council and conferred in various
locations around the country in groups. The Supreme Council of the
Southern Jurisdiction consists of no more than 33 Active 33rd Degree
Scottish Rite Masons, known as Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, no more
than one per state/Orient. As there are more than 33 Orients, some will be
governed by a Deputy. The Supreme Council is governed by a Sovereign Grand
Commander. Unlike the Grand Master in Symbolic Masonry, these appointments
are for life, although there are some provisions for retirement at
advanced age. Replacements for these positions are made at the biennial
Session of the Supreme Council.