Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE SCOTTISH RITE?
It is a branch of Freemasonry designed to supplement and amplify the philosophical teachings of the first three degrees. The Scottish Rite claims to build upon the ethical teachings and philosophy of blue lodge Masonry through dramatic presentation. The Scottish Rite is sometimes called the “University of Freemasonry” because it uses extensive allegory and drama in its degrees to explore the philosophy, history, ethics and ultimate truths that guide Freemasons’ lives.
HOW DOES THE SCOTTISH RITE ELABORATE ON THE CRAFT LODGE DEGREES?
It presents in degrees from the fourth to the thirty-second an interpretation of the lessons of the craft degrees by the use of drama and lectures appealing to both the ear and eye to explore the great truths which Freemasonry professes.
HOW MANY DEGREES ARE THERE IN SCOTTISH RITE?
There are 29 Scottish Rite regular degrees, which follow the three degrees conferred in craft lodges. The 33˚ is conferred only by the Supreme Council, the governing body of Scottish Rite Masonry.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER DEGREES?
The fourth to the fourteenth inclusive are conferred by Lodges of Perfection. The fifteenth and sixteenth are conferred by the Council of Princes of Jerusalem. The seventeenth and eighteenth are conferred by the Chapter of Rose Croix. The nineteenth to the thirty-second inclusive are conferred by Consistories. Each Lodge, Council, Chapter and Consistory is an organized Body within the Valley (geographical area) served by it.
WHY ARE THESE DEGREES CALLED SCOTTISH RITE?
Any connection with Scotland would seem to be vague. The reason may be that one or two of the degrees were long supposed to have been devised by the Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay, a learned Scotsman, who was tutor to Prince Charles Edward, the young Pretender. These degrees seem to have afforded a meeting place for those in exile in France who were adherents of the Stuarts, and who were plotting for the restoration of James II and his son to the throne of England. No degree of the Scottish Rite seems to have ever had its origin in Scotland.
WHAT IS THE GENERAL FIELD COVERED BY EACH OF THE GROUPS OF DEGREES?
LODGE OF PERFECTION: The 4th through 14th degrees are called Ineffable Degrees because their principal purpose is the investigation and contemplation of the ineffable name of the Deity. The degrees amplify the legend of the Master Mason degree and the story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. These degrees are designed to impress more forcefully the teachings of the first three degrees.
COUNCIL OF PRINCES OF JERUSALEM: The two historical degrees are the 15th degree and 16th degree. They cover the period from B.C. 538 to B.C. 516. These degrees depict events connected with the end of the Babylonian captivity of Israel, the return of some of the captives to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple.
ROSE CROIX CHAPTER: The degrees of the Chapter of Rose Croix, consisting of the 17th through 18th degrees, invest the candidate with a deeper understanding of Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and History. The intellectual challenges presented in these degrees can take years to master. The 15th and 16th degrees relate to the rebuilding of the Temple of Zerubbabel.
CONSISTORY: The Consistory Degrees illustrate the creation of the ideal balance between the spiritual and the temporal. Several of the degrees of the Consistory series, 19th to 32nd, further amplify the teachings of the previous degrees, others have the Crusades as a background.
ARE SCOTTISH RITE DEGREES HIGHER THAN THOSE OF A MASTER MASON?
There is no Masonic distinction of higher prestige than that of a “Master Mason”, and the noblest and most significant emblem is the Apron of the Master Mason.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED FOR MEMBERSHIP?
Membership in good standing in a craft lodge. A belief in a Supreme Being is essential, and the usual Masonic conditions of residence, and sponsors.
WILL I BE REQUIRED TO DO ANY MEMORIZING?
No. You witness the ceremonies and drama and listen to the illustrative lectures. In order for you to more fully understand and appreciate what you have seen and heard you are expected to attend future presentations of the degrees.
ARE THERE ANY RELIGIOUS DISQUALIFICATIONS?
The Scottish Rite does not intrude on the religious beliefs of its members, but it does require that its adherents profess a belief in a Supreme Being, and urges its members to be active in their respective houses of worship. It does not attempt to teach any creed nor pretend to be a religion nor a substitute for religion. Scottish Rite practices universality.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Minimum initiation fees have been established by Supreme Council, but each Lodge, Council, Chapter and Consistory fixes its own fees. Each body also requires annual dues as fixed by its by-laws. Some bodies also have a provision in their by-laws permitting a member to prepay his dues for the life of his membership in that body.
WILL I HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE VARIOUS ACTIVITIES OF THE RITE?
If you make known your wishes you may expect to be invited to participate in the work. There is a place for you in many of the degree presentations depending on your talents and experience and your own wishes: as a guard, as a member of the choir, or as a member of the wardrobe committee, the stage crew or make-up team. You can be an actor in a minor, intermediate or major role as your talents permit. There is also the possibility of being on the reception committee or to be an officer of the body.
WHEN WILL I BE ENTITLED TO WEAR THE SCOTTISH RITE RING?
After receiving the fourteenth degree.
AFTER BECOMING A MEMBER OF SCOTTISH RITE WILL I BE PERMITTED OR REQUIRED TO TAKE MY DEMIT FROM MY CRAFT LODGE?
No. Termination of membership in a craft lodge, for any reason, automatically terminates your membership in Scottish Rite.
WHAT IS A REUNION?
It is the practice in most Valleys to hold a Reunion of the members once or twice a year, when all the degrees of the Lodge, Council, Chapter or Consistory are conferred or communicated on a class of candidates over a period of a few days. This gives an opportunity for some social fellowship and it is also more convenient for the members living some distance from the meeting place.
IS IT IMPROPER TO SOLICIT ANY MASTER MASON TO JOIN THE RITE?
No. One should have no hesitation in inviting a Brother to delve further into the teachings of Masonry, thus providing a more meaningful life for himself and his family.