The following page contains information found in the booklet titled "Facts of Scottish Rite" with some editing and other inputs by yours truly.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Over the years there have been many misconceptions about the purpose, requirements and operations of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. A few local centers have published and circulated explanatory pamphlets which have been most helpful to better understanding on the part of nonmembers and members alike. However, even in this day such statements are heard as "You have to go to Scotland to acquire the degrees.". . ."It costs hundreds of dollars to become a member.". . ."It takes years to become a 32° Mason.". . ."All degrees must be taken at the same time.". . ."A candidate must learn all the signs and words." . . ."One must be a member of another collateral Masonic order before being eligible for Scottish Rite.". . ."You have to wait for an invitation to join."
The following pages have been prepared in brief question and answer form not only to dispel such misunderstandings but to furnish added information to Master Masons seeking "more light."
Since this booklet has been written for use throughout the Northern Jurisdiction, it can not be too specific as to the methods followed in each of the fifteen states and the 110 Scottish Rite centers. Basic principles, regulations and procedures are set forth, and the reader is cordially encouraged to seek further detail from the local Scottish Rite organization nearest to him.
Over the years, Master Masons have continued their search for "more light" through the medium of Scottish Rite for countless reasons:
One important point, which must be recognized by all Masons, is the fact that the Scottish Rite shares the belief of all Masonic organizations that there is no higher degree than that of Master Mason. The Supreme Council and its subordinate bodies a~ knowledge the Masonic supremacy of the Symbolic Grand Lodges, and the Grand Master of Masons is recognized as the raining Masonic officer present when in attendance at any Scottish Rite meeting.
Our degrees are in addition to and are in no way "higher" than Blue Lodge degrees. Scottish Rite work amplifies and elaborates on the lessons of the Craft. It should never be forgotten that termination of a member's Symbolic Lodge standing automatically terminates his Scottish Rite membership, whether his rank be 14° or 33rd °
What is Scottish Rite?
Scottish Rite is one of the two branches of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason (Third Degree) may proceed after he has completed the three degrees of Symbolic or Blue Lodge Masonry. (The other branch is known as York Rite consisting of Capitular and Cryptic Masons and Knights Templar.)
Scottish Rite includes the Degrees from the Fourth to the Thirty-third, inclusive. The moral teachings and philosophy of Scottish Rite are an elaboration of the basic Masonic principles found in Blue Lodge or Symbolic Freemasonry. Sometimes likened to a "College of Freemasonry," Scottish Rite uses extensive drama and allegory to emphasize the content and message of its degrees.
Where did Scottish Rite originate?
Masonic historians throughout the world still seek the positive answer to this question. The use of the word "Scottish" has led many Masons to believe that the Rite originated in Scotland and that Scotland remains the fountainhead of its activity. Such is not the case.
Actually, the first reference to the Rite appears in old French records where the word "Ecossais" (meaning Scottish) is to be found. During the latter part of the 17th Century, when the British Isles were torn by strife, many Scots fled to France and resumed their Masonic interests in that country. It is felt that this influence contributed to the use of the word "Scottish".
In 1732, the first "Ecossais," or Scottish Lodge, was organized in Bordeaux, one of the oldest and most influential Masonic centers in France. The membership included Scottish and English Masons. In 1761, certain Masonic authorities in France granted a patent to Stephen Morin of Bordeaux to carry the advanced degrees across the sea to America. In 1763, Morin established these degrees in the French possessions in the West Indies and thence to the United States. What he established consisted of a system of 25 so called higher degrees which flourished in France, and which were known as the "Rite of Perfection.". Within a few years after 1763, other degrees were added, until the Rite had a ritual structure of 33 degrees - the first three being exemplified in a Symbolic Lodge, if a Grand Lodge with subordinate Lodges existed in the area.
The first Supreme council was established in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801, and all other regular Supreme Councils throughout the world are descended from it. It is of interest to note that the Supreme Council for Scotland did not come into existence until 1846 and thus does not hold any priority which would call for the work of the Rite to be performed in that country.
When did Scottish Rite commence in this country?
Antecedents of Scottish Rite existed in Albany, New York, as early as 1767. The first Supreme Council was organized at Charleston, S. C., in 1801, to cover the United States. In 1813, the Northern Supreme Council came into being as the United States expanded and as an offshoot of the Charleston group, so there are now two Supreme Councils in the United States. Ours is the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction with headquarters in Boston (Lexington), Mass., and covering 15 northeastern, middle Atlantic and Midwestern states. The other is the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction with headquarters at Washington, D. C., and covering the remaining 35 states, the District of Columbus, and U.S. territories and possessions.
In 1767, Henry Francken, who had been deputized by Morin, organized a Ledge of Perfection in Albany, New York This was the forerunner of what was to become the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States. During the Colonial Period, other deputies, appointed by Morin, organized Masonic groups which conferred the advanced degrees at other important points along the Atlantic seaboard, including Charleston, South Carolina These groups were independent and without centralized supervision or control; however, they all agreed that their authority came from Stephen Morin in Jamaica in the West Indies.
On May 31, 1801, the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree for the United States of America-the first Scottish Rite Supreme Council in the world-was founded in Charleston, South Carolina. Its aim was to unify these competing groups and to bring Masonic order out of chaos. The full membership of this Supreme Council consisted of 11 Grand Inspectors General.
Of these 11-John Mitchell, Frederick Dalcho, Abraham Alexander, Emanuel De LaMotta, Thomas Bartholomew Bowen, Israel De Lieben, Isaac Auld, Le Comte Alexandre Francois Auguste de Grasse, Jean Baptiste Marie Delahogue, Moses Clava Levy and James Moultri~nine were born abroad and only Brothers Isaac Auld and James Moultrie were native born. In religion, four were Jews, five were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics.
On August 4, 1813, Emanuel De La Motta, 33rd °, of Savannah, Georgia, a distinguished Jewish merchant and philanthropist, and Grand Treasurer General of the Supreme Council at Charleston, organized in New York City the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third degree for the Northern District and Jurisdiction of the United States of America.
The first Sovereign Grand Commander was Ill. Daniel D. Tompkins, 33rd °. He filled this office from 1813-25. He was at the same time Vice-President of the United States for two terms, under President Monroe. The first Grand Secretary General of this Supreme Council, its Conservator during the era of anti-Masonic attacks, and its third Sovereign Grand Commander from 1832-51, was Ill. John James Joseph Gourgas, 33rd °.
Both the Northern and the Southern Jurisdictions made slow progress in unifying the scattered degree conferring groups, and in standardizing the rituals. They were handicapped by the pride in the local organizations; by leadership jealousies; by the anti-Masonic agitation of 1826-40, which almost destroyed Freemasonry; by the War Between the States, and by other matters. The Union of 1867, however, completed the process of unification, in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, when the last irregular Supreme Council finally acknowledged the authority of the regular Supreme Council. From that Union, there arose what is the present Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America.
How long has Scottish Rite been an international organization?
Since its now officially-recognized beginning in 1801 in Charleston, Scottish Rite has spread throughout the globe. In several countries, particularly in Latin America, Scottish Rite was the pioneer Masonic organization with Symbolic or Blue Lodge Freemasonry being organized afterwards. The Rite was carried to the new world by French and Spanish members; to India, the Far East, and Africa by English, Irish and Scotch members; to Indonesia by Dutch members, and so on.
This Supreme Council reaffirms its unswerving loyalty to the fundamental purpose of Freemasonry, which purpose from time immemorial has been to improve and strengthen the character of the individual man, and through the individual, the character of the community, thus under girding the community with those spiritual values which give it strength and stability.
This Supreme Council believes that this purpose is to be attained by laying a broad basis of principle upon which men of every race, country, sect, and opinion may unite.
Believing that good and true men can be trusted to act well and wisely, this Supreme Council considers it the duty of the Fraternity to impress upon its members the principles of personal righteousness and personal responsibility, to enlighten them as to those things which make for human welfare, and to inspire them with that feeling of charity, or well-wishing, toward all mankind which will move them to translate principle and conviction into action.
To that end Freemasonry teaches a belief in God and faith in His divine purposes. It encourages the worship of God in conformity with the dictates of individual conscience. It stands for truth and justice, liberty and enlightenment, fraternity and philanthropy.
This Supreme Council expects of its members strict obedience to the laws of the land, and respect for their country's flag.
Such principles unite men and encourage the pursuit by them, individually and collectively, of worthy endeavors and the attainment of the purposes inherent in them In that unity, human character achieves its highest unfolding and provides man's best hope for peace on earth and goodwill among men.
To the furtherance of these principles, all our ritual is directed and all our efforts are aimed. To their furtherance, each Master Mason has pledged himself and at the portal of the Scottish Rite has renewed that pledge.
This Supreme Council discountenances and rejects any attempt by any international groups or confederations of Scottish Rite Supreme Councils to legislate for individual Supreme Councils.
Recognizing that principles unite men, that programs sometimes divide them, and that the preservation of unity of purpose and devotion to principle is essential to Freemasonry, the Supreme Council affirms its continued adherence to that ancient and approved rule of Freemasonry which forbids the discussion within tyled doors of creeds, politics, or other topics apt to excite personal animosities.
This Supreme Council further affirms its conviction that it is not only contrary to the fundamental principles of Freemasonry but exceedingly dangerous to its unity, strength, usefulness and welfare for Masonic Bodies in their official capacity to take formal action or attempt to exercise pressure or influence for or against any particular legislative project or proposal, or in any way to attempt to procure the election or appointment of Governmental officials, whether executive, legislative, or judicial, or to influence them, whether or not members of the Fraternity, in the performance of their official duties.
What is the Northern and Southern Masonic Jurisdiction?
The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction specifically covers the following fifteen states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Its headquarters is in Lexington, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
The other Supreme Council in the United States is that of the Southern Jurisdiction. It has its head quarters at Washington, D.C., and covers the remaining 35 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories and possessions.
How does Scottish Rite operate?
There are Scottish Rite centers called "Valleys"
There are four coordinate divisions within the Northern Scottish Rite:
Within the Southern Scottish Rites, two of the divisions are merge into one thus organized as follows:
How is Scottish Rite directed?
The Supreme Council is the governing body and meets once a year in formal session.
This smaller group, which can be likened to a board of directors, elects the officers of the Supreme council and determines its policies. There are at least two "Active" members in each state, one of whom is designated as "Deputy" by the Supreme Council, and who exercises supervision of Scottish Rite activities in his state. The Supreme Council, itself, is led by a Sovereign Grand Commander.
The Supreme Council Constitutions are the basic law for all subordinate Scottish Rite Bodies.
What Masonic status is required?
Membership in good standing in a regular Symbolic Lodge is the only Masonic status required for the purpose of petitioning for the Scottish Rite.
Must I be invited to join Scottish Rite?
As a Master Mason in good standing, you are encouraged heartily to apply for membership in the Rite without awaiting a specific invitation. You may ask a Scottish Rite friend for a petition form or contact the nearest Scottish Rite Secretary for an application or further information.
What are the requirements of residence?
No subordinate body of the Rite may elect any candidate unless he is, at the time, an affiliated Master Mason in good standing and has resided in the state one year and in the local jurisdiction (valley area) for six months. Scottish Rite law, however, does provide for the possibility of waiving the usual residence requirements upon the presentation of valid reasons.
Can Scottish Rite membership be divided?
Primary Scottish Rite membership shall not be divided but shall be with the bodies of one Valley so far as opportunity exists.
Are there any regulations as to physical condition?
Physical impairment shall not be considered a disqualification from receiving the degrees of the Rite.
What is the attitude of Scottish Rite with respect to religion?
Like the Symbolic Craft, Scottish Rite does not seek to intrude upon the prerogatives of the Church nor does it attempt to teach any creed. Scottish Rite is not a religion and does not pretend to be a substitute for religion. Its rituals do not hold out the hope of heavenly rewards.
The Rite does require that its adherents profess a monotheistic belief in Almighty God and encourages its members to become active participants in their respective churches. The Fraternity is a meeting place for Christians, Hebrews, Moslems, Parsees and any other believers in a monotheistic faith. As such, it has become the handmaiden of religion. To inject or discuss religious creeds could only be divisive.
Scottish Rite does seek to teach its members a system of morality and thereby develop in our brethren virtues and character which make men worth while.
Are Scottish Rite degrees considered "higher" than other Masonic degrees?
The Scottish Rite shares the belief of all Masonic organizations that there is no higher degree than that of Master Mason.
The Supreme Council and its subordinate bodies acknowledge the Masonic supremacy of Symbolic Grand Lodges, and the Grand Master of Masons is recognized as the ranking Masonic officer present when in attendance at any Scottish Rite meeting.
Our degrees are in addition to and in no way "higher" than Blue Lodge degrees. Scottish Rite work amplifies and elaborates on the lessons of the Craft.
Interruption of a member's Symbolic standing automatically interrupts his Scottish Rite membership whether his rank be 14° or 33°.
What is the degree structure of Scottish Rite?
Degree structure organization differs somewhat in various jurisdictions throughout the world.
In the Northern Jurisdiction Scottish Rites, degree work is carried on as follows:
Within the Southern Jurisdiction Scottish Rites, degree work is carried on as follows:
Some individual Valleys do not contain all four parts. Our Canadian brethren, have only three divisions—Lodge of Perfection , 4° - 14°; Chapter of Rose Croix, 15° - 18° and Consistory, 19° - 32°. In Europe and South America, the Rite has still different groupings of degrees to suit the needs of each jurisdiction. Overseas, such terms as "Areopagus" and "Sovereign (or) Grand Tribunal" may be found.
However, the basic principles and purposes remain the same, and, as a matter of fact, it usually takes considerably longer to acquire Scottish Rite degrees in overseas jurisdictions.
What is the Thirty-third Degree?
This is the highest or official degree which can only be granted and conferred by the Supreme Council. It cannot be applied for. Each year at the annual meeting of the Supreme Council, a number of Thirty-second Degree Masons from throughout the Jurisdiction, are elected to receive the Thirty-third Degree because of outstanding service to the Fraternity or for service to others which reflects credit upon the Order.
Nominations for the Thirty-third Degree are made by the Deputies of each of the states after consultation with their fellow Active Members in each state. Nominations are then submitted to the entire Active Membership of the Supreme Council for ballot. Following election, candidates await the next annual meeting when the Degree is conferred in full ceremonial form.
Must I take all degrees at once?
Although Scottish Rite degree-conferring meetings are often scheduled to permit the 32° to be attained within a comparatively brief period, it is not necessary for an applicant to complete all his work at one time. A candidate is elected actually four times, once each in the Lodge, Council, Chapter and Consistory and pays a fee for each division.
He may choose to take the degrees of each body separately over a longer period of time rather than in a concentrated series of meetings.
Will I witness every Scottish Rite degree upon initiation?
Since there are twenty-nine degrees in the Scottish Rite structure, many requiring elaborate stage preparation, it is not always practical for a Valley to exemplify or work each one during a degree-conferring session. The Supreme Council has set minimum standards as to the number and selection of degrees to be presented. These standards can be and have been increased by many Valleys to give the candidates as full a program as time and facilities permit. Degrees not exemplified or worked are communicated or revealed to the candidates in essence. It is hoped that members, after initiation, will return frequently to Scottish Rite Reunions or meetings and witness degree presentations not previously seen.
Is memorization required?
A candidate is not required to commit the Scottish Rite degrees, signs, passwords, tokens or grips to memory. No examinations are given either during the degree work nor for admission to the meetings of other Valleys.
What evidence of membership is necessary for admission to Scottish Rite meetings?
Following initiation, a member gains entrance to meetings of his own Valley upon presentation of a current dues card. Visitors to Scottish Rite Valleys are required to furnish proof of membership in the Rite by a current dues card and, in some instances, by the presentation of a membership patent or certificate.
As there exists two jurisdictions, not at the degrees have the same name or teaches the same lesson; thus, they have been put together here by each degree. The upper one belongs to the Northern Jurisdiction and the lower one to the Southern Jurisdiction.
*Quotes are from Clausen's Commentaries on Morals and Dogma
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