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The following page contains information found in the booklet titled "Facts of Scottish Rite" with some editing and other inputs by yours truly.



Purpose, History, Development

Declaration of Principles

Scottish Rite Creed

Organization and Operation

Government of the Rite

The Caps and Their Significance

Scottish Rite Rings

General Membership Requirements

Degree Structure

Synopsis or Lessons of each Degree

Once you are done reading this page, if interested you can read The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry 1914 where it goes into more details about each degree.


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:

  • Scottish Rite answers many questions raised in the Symbolic Lodge.
  • Scottish Rite degrees can provide a better understanding of the meaning of Freemasonry and its basic principles through the use of drama and appeal to the eye as well as the ear.
  • Scottish Rite work is always conducted in an atmosphere of reverence and dignity.
  • Scottish Rite membership will enlarge your circle of Masonic acquaintances and provide additional opportunities for congenial fellowship.
  • Scottish Rite affords varied opportunities for active service in keeping with the talents of each member.
  • Scottish Rite through its benevolences not only assists members in distress but has established a program designed to benefit all mankind.
  • Scottish Rite, long an international organization, continues its work for better understanding among nations and a just and peaceful world.

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 °

Finally the charitable endeavor of Scottish Rite is one of its great strengths. They support Schizophrenic Research and have contributed millions of dollars for the study of this dread disease. Another charity they support is Scholarship Program for students to attend schools, which are manage at the local level.  The most recent and far reaching of the charities of the Scottish Rite are the Masonic Children's Learning Centers for the tutoring of children afflicted with dyslexia.

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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.

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The following are the Declaration of Principles that the Scottish Rites adhere to:

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.

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The cause of human progress is our cause, the enfranchisement of human thought our supreme wish, the freedom of human conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere the end of our contention.

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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:

  • Lodge of Perfection, covering the 4° to 14° (presiding officer – Thrice Potent Master); 
  • Council of Princes of Jerusalem, covering the 15° and 16° (presiding officer – Sovereign Prince); 
  • Chapter of Rose Croix, covering the 17° and 18° (presiding officer – Most wise Master), 
  • Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, covering the 19° to 32° (presiding officer – Commander-in-Chief).

Within the Southern Scottish Rites, two of the divisions are merge into one thus organized as follows:

  • Lodge of Perfection, covering the 4° to 14° (presiding officer – Thrice Potent Master); 
  • Chapter of Rose Croix, covering the 15° to 18° (presiding officer – Most wise Master), 
  • Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, covering the 19° to 32° (presiding officer – Commander-in-Chief).

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.

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Under the Grand Constitutions of 1786, a Supreme Council elects its own Active Members and is self-perpetuating. It charters Subordinate Bodies in cities (called Valleys) of states, territories, or countries (called Orients). In the Southern Jurisdiction, the Subordinate Bodies must observe the Statutes of our Supreme Council, its orders and regulations and, when The Supreme Council is not in session, those of the Sovereign Grand Commander.


The Sovereign Grand Commander is the highest ranking officer of The Supreme Council and the chief executive and judicial officer of the Rite within this Supreme Council’s Jurisdiction. He is the representative of The Supreme Council when that Body is not in session and is invested with general powers of supervision and administration everywhere within its Jurisdiction. The cap for the Sovereign Grand Commander is violet in color and features a darker violet band embroidered with laurel vine, leaf, and berry pattern in gold. On the front is the symbol of his office, a Cross of Salem with crosslets.


This is the title of an Active Member of The Supreme Council. There is only one Active Member for any one Orient (state, territory, or country). He is the highest ranking officer of the Rite within his jurisdiction, and, in relation to the Rite, his powers are similar to those of a Grand Master of the Symbolic Craft subject, however, to The Supreme Council and the Sovereign Grand Commander. The cap of an Active Member is purple and features the symbol of his office, a slanting Patriarchal Cross with crosslets.


In Orients (states, territories, or countries) which do not have an Active Member, the Sovereign Grand Commander appoints a "Deputy of The Supreme Council." The Deputy has powers similar to those of a Sovereign Grand Inspector General. However, he has no vote in The Supreme Council and holds his office at the pleasure of the Sovereign Grand Commander. The Deputy’s cap is white with a scarlet band and features on the front a slanting Patriarchal Cross.


This is the highest individual honor that The Supreme Council bestows. It is voted very rarely to Thirty-third Degree Masons only for the most exceptional and extraordinary services. The Grand Cross cap is white with a blue band. On the front is a replica of the Grand Cross jewel, which is composed of a Teutonic Cross, with an embroidered crimson rose with green leaves at its center.


During the Biennial Session of The Supreme Council, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General and Deputies nominate a small quota of members who are Knights Commander Court of Honour to receive the Thirty-third Degree. A committee reviews the nominations, but The Supreme Council must vote upon every nomination. Members unanimously so elected become honorary members of The Supreme Council. The Thirty-third Degree may not be requested. The Degree is conferred solely out of recognition for outstanding services. The only difference between the jewel of the Thirty-third Degree and that for an Active Member of The Supreme Council is that the latter is larger. The cap for an Inspector General Honorary is white with a white band edged in gold, featuring the symbol for this honorary Degree, a red slanting Patriarchal Cross.


The Rank of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour is not a Degree but an Investiture bestowed upon members deserving recognition for faithful services to the Rite. The respective Sovereign Grand Inspectors General or Deputies likewise nominate members for this honor, and these must also be unanimously approved by The Supreme Council. This Investiture is a prerequisite of receiving the Thirty-third Degree at some later time, though relatively few receive this distinction.

A Knight Commander of the Court of Honour is a Scottish Rite rank peculiar to the Southern Jurisdiction, except that our Supreme Council has permitted the Supreme Council for the Philippines (part of our Jurisdiction until 1949) to continue the practice as one of their special honors bestowed.

The cap of the Knight Commander Court of Honour is red with a darker red band trimmed in gold. In the center front is a representation of the Knight Commander Jewel, a Passion Cross with fancy arms, featuring in the center a trefoil embroidered in green encircled by the "Kt\ Comm\ Court of Honour" embroidered in gold. The symbol used here, the tripod \, was regularly used in formal Masonic documents in place of a period in the abbreviation of formal titles. Its use is maintained as a tribute to the Craft’s distinguished past in much Masonic writing today, such as in the Scottish Rite Journal, but it may be and often is replaced by a standard period.


This is the title of a 32° member of the Scottish Rite. The cap of a Master of the Royal Secret is black silk with a black band trimmed in gold. In the center front is a double-headed eagle emblem with a rayed equilateral triangle above in gold. The triangle is red, has 32° in its center, and is trimmed with gold.

The jewel of the Thirty-second Degree is a Teutonic Cross of gold, one and three-fourth inches square, with raised or beaded edges and a background frosted surface, having in the center a wreath of green enamel, with a gold tie at the bottom, and within the wreath the Roman numerals XXXII in gold.


Any 14° member of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, who is in good standing and who became a member fifty years prior to the current calendar year is entitled to recognition as such. Such recognition entitles the recipient to receive a proper certificate and to wear a 50-year lapel pin or cap. The cap of a 50-year member is blue with a blue band. In the front at the center is a figure "50" surrounded by a green silk embroidered laurel wreath.

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As the White Lambskin is the Badge of a Mason, so is the regulation cap the badge of a Scottish Rite Mason.  The caps of the Scottish Rite are prayer caps, always to be worn during prayer.  It is to show our respect and devotion to God, and to identify ourselves as Masons of the Scottish Rite. It may be worn at Scottish Rites meetings and throughout the Reunion. Since they are prayer caps, they must not be worn on the street.

You may wonder, when you see the different color caps being worn by various members, what they denote.



A black cap indicates that the wearer has attained the 32nd degree. The great majority of the members wear this black cap.


A red cap means 32° Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH).

It is not a degree but an investiture. It is one of the great honors in all Masonry to be designated to receive this honor.


A light blue cap means that the wearer has been a Scottish Rite Mason for fifty years or more.

It is a great honor and achievement to have served the Rite for 50 years.

A purple cap indicates that the wearer is a 33° Sovereign Grand Inspector General and active Member of the Supreme Council.


A White Cap indicates a 33° Inspector General Honorary.

The white caps arc worn by those who have been honored with the 33° Inspector General Honorary. Almost all 33° Inspector Generals Honorary have previously been invested with the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. Exceptions are by the vote of the Supreme Council.

A White Cap with a scarlet band indicates that the wearer is a Deputy of the Supreme Council and an active member of the Supreme Council.


The white cap with a band of blue silk velvet is worn by the brother who is a 33° Mason and who has been elected by the Supreme Council to the Grand Cross of the Court of Honour. This is the highest decoration which can be bestowed on an Inspector General Honorary.

The Supreme Council has set forth a rule for the correct wearing of the cap. When wearing the cap it shall be considered to be a part of the apparel of the wearer and shall not be removed.  At the presentation of the flag, the cap shall remain in place, and the members shall stand at attention with the right hand over the heart.

During prayer the cap shall remain in place and the hands and arms shall be crossed as in the 18th Degree.

The wearing of caps is considered proper at Reunions, regularly scheduled meetings, Maundy Thursday services, Easter celebrations, and other official Scottish Rite functions.

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The ring of the Fourteenth degree (the official ring of the Scottish Rite) is a plain flat band of gold, not exceeding five-sixteenths of an inch in width, and having imposed thereon an engraved or enameled plate in the form of an equilateral triangle and within the triangle the Hebrew letter "Yod"

The ring of the Thirty-third Degree is a triple one of gold, like three small half-round rings side by side, united into one, not exceeding five sixteenths of an inch in width. The ring may be plain with no device or mark on the outside of it, or it may have on the outside of it an equilateral triangularshaped plate with the numerals 33 on same. Engraved within the ring should be the proper inscription, together with the name of the brother and the date on which he received the degree.

The ring with the Double-headed eagle is the most commonly worn ring of the Scottish Rite. The ring reminds us at all times and in all places that we must ever remain masters of ourselves and our passions, and that we have obligations both to God and to our fellow man.

It is a distinct honor and privilege to wear rings of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, but in wearing these symbols of the Rite you are admonished never to wear them in any place or environs where you would not feel free to escort your mother, sister, your daughter or your wife.

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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.

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Our Supreme Council has in its Archives copies of the Degrees of the Rite of Perfection and of additional Degrees, including the 33°, which were in use at Charleston in 1801. Some of these old Degree documents are fragmentary, and some Degree manuscripts have not survived the centuries.

In the mid-19th century, Grand Commander Albert Pike revised these Degrees. He retained the original titles, substance, and sequence. Out of his own great scholarship and knowledge of ancient philosophies, he added new substance and significance to the Degrees, which enhanced their importance. The Southern Jurisdiction has continued to use the basic Albert Pike Rituals. While the Rubrics permit variations in the manner of their rendition, the Degrees have remained otherwise relatively unchanged. The Pike versions are also widely, although not exclusively, used elsewhere. For the past several years, as authorized by The Supreme Council and its Committee on Ritual and Ceremonial Forms, Dr. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, Grand Cross, author of several authoritative books about Pike’s writings, has worked with a resource team of experienced Brethren to modernize the language, accent the significance, and enhance the dramatic performance of the Pike Degrees. The Revised Standard Ritual maintains the moral vision and philosophical integrity of the original Pike Degrees while making them more accessible to contemporary Brethren. The new Degrees are being honed through authorized trial performances in Valleys throughout the Southern Jurisdiction and will, at an appropriate time, be sanctioned by unanimous vote of The Supreme Council as the official Ritual of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A.

The Subordinate Bodies usually confer the Degrees in one of two ways: in a Class which meets once a week over a period of several months, in the spring and in the autumn; or at a Reunion at which the Degrees are conferred or communicated over a period of one or more days.

The candidates are not required to memorize any portion of the Degrees. Every member is encouraged, however, to witness the Degrees thereafter as frequently as possible so that he will become more fully aware of the nature of each Degree and the lessons it teaches.

A comprehensive and concise book, A Bridge to Light by Dr. Hutchens, summarizes our Scottish Rite Degrees and assists in a ready understanding and appreciation of our Ritual. Also, it frequently returns to the great cornerstone of our Order, Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma, by presenting eloquent quotations that clearly fix the meanings of each of the Degrees and places them within the context of the modern era.

Having become a valuable aid, A Bridge to Light may be used by the Ritualist desiring to improve his work and as a cordial guide to the Brother reaching for a better understanding of the beauty and significance of the Scottish Rite Degrees. A copy of this book is provided to each new Fourteenth Degree initiate in the Southern Jurisdiction and is available from The Supreme Council to any interested party.

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:

  • Lodge of Perfection, covering the 4° to 14° (presiding officer – Thrice Potent Master); 
  • Council of Princes of Jerusalem, covering the 15° and 16° (presiding officer – Sovereign Prince); 
  • Chapter of Rose Croix, covering the 17° and 18° (presiding officer – Most wise Master), 
  • Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, covering the 19° to 32° (presiding officer – Commander-in-Chief).

Within the Southern Jurisdiction Scottish Rites, degree work is carried on as follows:

  • Lodge of Perfection, covering the 4° to 14° (presiding officer – Thrice Potent Master); 
  • Chapter of Rose Croix, 15° - 18° (presiding officer - )
  • Council of Kadosh, 19° - 30° (presiding officer - )
  • Consistory, 31° - 32° (presiding officer - )

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.

See following link for a summarize table on Jurisdictional Differences In Degree Title

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.

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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.


Ineffable Degrees

Ivory Key

4° Secret Master. This degree, emphasizes duty, fidelity, integrity, and the necessity for secrecy in all confidential relationships.
4th degree Secret Master. Your first steps into our sanctuary are duty, reflection and study. They teach us to honor those relationships to God, family, country, Masonry.
Compasses set at 60 degres 5th ° Perfect Master. This degree teaches that trustworthiness is more precious than life and is the foundation of Masonic honor. Also, we must pay due resect to the memory of a deceased worthy Brother.
5th degree Perfect Master: The degree teaches that honesty and trustworthiness is the cornerstone of the foundation of Masonic honor. This virtue should be in all of our undertakings. 
Triple Delta 6th ° Intimate Secretary. This degree teaches that devotion to one's friends and zealousness in performing one's duties are rewarding virtues.
6th degree Intimate Secretary: In this degree we should learn duty, charity and toleration. We are told to reshape ourselves and our thinking into charity, self-control, and success. Be a peacemaker.

Gold Key

7th degree Provost and Judge. This degree teaches us to judge righteously, without respect to person, and that one law and one custom shall apply to all Let justice be impartial, tempered with deserved mercy.
7th degree Provost and Judge: "We learn that impartial justice protect person, property, happiness and reputation." These degrees teach us to judge with patience and impartially. 
Delta of Gold 8th ° Intendant of the Building. This degree teaches that each new honor is meant to be a step toward perfection in the moral code;
8th degree Intendant of the Building: We should strive for perfection by using the great principles of "God's inherent love, charity, morality and kindness".


9th ° Master Elect of Nine. The lessons taught in this degree are that we should be careful not to be too zealous in executing justice, even in a good cause, and that we should avoid injuring or harming any person by hasty or irresponsible action.
9th degree Elu of the Nine: Scottish Rite virtues are at the very heart of this degree, truth, candor and generosity. We should use these to shape our lives and conduct.


10th ° Master Elect of Fifteen. The teachings of this degree are that ambition and jealousy can tempt men to evil deeds, that righteousness will eventually triumph over evil, and that evil doers will be punished
10th degree Elu of the Fifteen: This degree teaches toleration of others. Everyone has the right to his own political or spiritual views


11th ° Sublime Master Elected.  This degree dwells on good citizenship. Evil doings should be punished. Honesty and respect for others should be rewarded. Be earnest, honest and sincere.
11th degree Elu of the Twelve: This degree teaches sympathy. We should sympathetic to our brother masons and to all mankind as well.
Heptagonal metal of gold 12th ° Grand Master Architect. This degree teaches that the Mason, as he learns to use the tools and instruments of his trade and skill, also learns to contemplate the many aspects of life and deal with them as a child of God, steadily advancing to those heights of experience which we call perfection.
12th degree Master Architect: This degree teaches faith in moral and virtues and in God. "Life is what each man makes of it; the optimist turns a trial into a blessing.
Medallion of gold 13th ° Master of the Ninth Arch. This degree teaches that difficulties and dangers, however great, should not deter the true and faithful brother from progressing onward to perfection. It teaches the great truth that the finest things in life come only as the result of constant and often painful effort.
13th degree Royal Arch of Solomon: This degree teaches liberty in our mind and our hearts, motivated by duty and honor. 
Compass and Pointed Star 14th ° Grand Elect Mason In the Scottish Rite. This degree is the summit of Ancient Craft Masonry. As the crowning degree of the Lodge of Perfection, its essence is the holiness of God and reverence for His Holy Name. God will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain. Council of Princes of Jerusalem
14th degree Perfect Elu: In the degree we learn to reflect and look into ourselves. We should strive to be true to ourselves and our God.



The Degree of Rose Croix teaches three things: the unity, immutability and goodness of God; the immortality of the soul; and the ultimate defeat and extinction of evil and wrong and sorrow, by a Redeemer or Messiah, yet to come, if he has not already appeared.

It replaces the three pillars of the old Temple, with three that have already been explained to you - Faith (in God, Mankind, and man’s self). Hope (in victory over evil, the advancement of Humanity, and a hereafter), and Charity (relieving the wants, and tolerant of errors and faults of others).

- Albert S. Pike

Three Nested Triangles of Gold 15th ° Knight of the East or Sword. This degree teaches the important lessons of loyalty to conviction and devotion to right.
15th degree Knight of the East of the Sword or of the Eagle:  In this degree "we learn fidelity to obligations and perseverance of purpose under difficulties and discouragement."
Metal of Gold 16th ° Prince of Jerusalem. This degree teaches loyalty to truth and fidelity to duty.
16th degree Prince of Jerusalem: This degree teaches "heroism of patience, the nobility of self-sacrifice" and compassionate judgment, along with charity, fidelity and brotherhood. 
Heptagonal Medal Half Gold Half Silver 17th ° Knight of the East and West.  The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man's primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall.
17th degree Knight of the East and West: The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man's primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall.
Compass, Cross, and Eagle 18th ° Knight of the Rose Croix of HR D.M. The lessons taught in this degree are that man must have a new Temple in his heart where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth and that he must have a new law of love which all men everywhere may understand and practice. This degree affirms the broad principles of universality and tolerance.
18th degree Knight of the Rose Croix: This degree teaches that life and it's strengths come from God. The rose signifies the dawn and the cross is a sacred symbol of antiquity in many cultures. To be tolerant of others errors and faults.


Faith in moral principles, in virtue, and God, is as necessary for the guidance of a man, as instinct is for the guidance of an animal.

-- Albert Pike

Oblong Square of Gold 19th ° Grand Pontiff. This degree proclaims the spiritual unity of all who believe in God and cherish the hope of immortality, no matter what religious leader they follow or what creed they profess. It is concerned primarily with the perennial conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, God and Satan.
19th degree Pontiff:  The lessons of this degree are learned from the past and how it affects the present and the way we live in the future. We always strive to endure, produce and improve the world as it surrounds us.
Triangles 20th ° Master ad Vitam. This degree is a drama of the American spirit confronting the challenge of disloyalty and treason. Masonic principles and leadership are subjected to a crucial test. The degree demonstrates the Masonic condemnation of all who conspire against the security of the nation and the happiness of our people.
20th degree Master of the Symbolic Lodge: This degree shows us Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. These teach moral, religious and philosophical understanding. This degree helps one to comprehend Deity, forces of nature, good and evil.
Silver Moon or Golden Triangle Tranversed by an arrow. 21st ° Patriarch Noachite. This degree teaches that Freemasonry is not a shield for evil doing and that justice is one of the chief supports of our fraternity.
21st degree Noachite, or Prussian Knight: The lesson from this degree is to learn that arrogance; defamation and cowardice are unworthy attributes of a mason, and that humility, modesty and courtesy are the true virtues of men and Masons.
Golden Ax 22nd ° Prince of Libanus. In this degree, the dignity of labor is demonstrated. It is no curse, but a privilege, for man to be allowed to earn his sustenance by work. Idleness, not labor, is disgraceful.
22nd degree Knight of the Royal Ax, Prince of Libanus: This degree teaches, "if a job is worth doing its worth doing well". By doing good work we improve character and become better citizens.
Small Censer of Ornamental Cup with a long handle. 23rd ° Chief of the Tabernacle. This degree teaches that impure thought and selfish, unworthy ambitions are corrupting and destructive, and that a man who forgets his duty to family, country, and God will be morally and spiritually destroyed
23rd degree Chief of the Tabernacle: This degree teaches that the man who forgets his duty to God, family, country, and himself will be in danger of morally and spiritually destruction by thoughts unworthy ambition.
Pheoenician letter 'A' - Aleph 24th ° Prince of the Tabernacle. This degree teaches that a mutual belief in one true, living God should bind men together in the service of humanity and in a worldwide brotherhood
24th degree Prince of the Tabernacle: In this degree a Mason must show evidence of compassion, piety and justice. After initiation he may "manifest faithfully the social virtues in order to receive the rewards", to serve humanity through our brotherhood.
Tau Cross of Gold 25th ° Knight of the Brazen Serpent. This degree teaches that there are desert stretches in every individual life in the history of every nation, with a resultant breakdown of discipline and loss of faith. This degree is a clarion call to faith-in ourselves, in each other, and in God.
25th degree Knight of the Brazen Serpent: This degree tackles the concept of pure, celestial, eternal soul of man. He looks within his faith, life, and God and to get a clear look at his inner self.
Equilateral Triangle of Gold with Flaming Heart 26th ° Prince of Mercy. This degree teaches the quality of mercy; that it is a spirit of compassion and a tenderness of heart which dispose us to overlook injuries and to treat an offender better than he deserves.
26th degree Prince of Mercy: In this degree we search for "the rewards of the trinity of Gods attributes - wisdom or intelligence, force or strength, harmony or beauty."
Teutonic Cross 27th ° Commander of the Temple. This degree teaches that Scottish Rite Freemasonry believes in the concept of a free church in a free state, each supreme in its own sphere, neither seeking to dominate the other, but cooperating for the common good.
27th degree Knight Commander of the Temple: This lesson of this degree teaches us to scorn selfishness, and to uphold the knightly virtues of charity, truth and honor. We should always strive to assist the poor, helpless and infirm. 
Five Pointed Star 28th ° Knight of the Sun. This degree using the symbolism of the tools and implements of architecture teaches that by building high moral character among its adherents, Freemasonry may advance man's determined quest for the achievement of unity and good will throughout the world
28th degree Knight of the Sun, Adept: This degree teaches that our love for God manifests itself in our love for Truth, Justice and Nobility of Soul.
St. Andrews Cross 29th ° Knight of ST Andrew. This degree emphasizes the Masonic teachings of equality and toleration We are reminded that no one man, no one Church, no one religion, has a monopoly of truth; that while we must be true and faithful to our own convictions, we must respect the opinions of others.
29th degree Scottish Knight of ST Andrew: The virtues of this degree are "Love of God, loyalty to superiors, faithful adherence to promise and active resistance to unfair judgment."
Double Headed Eagle upon a Teutonic Cross 30th ° Grand Elect Knight Kadosk This degree sets forth the tests and ceremonies that symbolize the experiences we must undergo in the building of excellence in character
30th degree Knight Kadosh or Knight of the Black and White Eagle: The lesson of this degree is to be true to ourselves, to stand for what is right and just in our lives today. To believe in God, country and ourselves.  


Evil and wrong and suffering are but temporary, the discords of one great harmony, and in His own good time, they will lead by infinite modulations to the great harmonic chord of Truth, Love Peace, and Happiness.

Where Freemasonry flourishes, there will be found the highest type of citizenship and the best standard of living.

-- Albert Pike 

Teutonic Cross of Silver 31st ° Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander. This degree teaches that we should give every man the benefit of innocence and purity of intentions. He who would judge others must first judge himself.
31st degree Inspector Inquisitor Commander: This degree teaches prayerful self-examination. The mistakes today should not be committed tomorrow. Simply, the daily look at ones self to learn to live with the future.  
Teutonic Cross of Gold 32nd ° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. This degree describes the victory of the spiritual over the human in man and the conquest of appetites and passions by moral sense and reason. The exemplar represents every Freemason eager to serve humanity but caught between self-interest and the call of duty. Duty often requires sacrifice, sometimes the supreme sacrifice.
32nd degree Master of the Royal Secret: The lessons of this degree are that "genuine brotherhood requires mutual regard, opinion, esteem and charity". We always look for the good in all, make allowances for other's short comings. We trust the Supreme Architect to lead us to friendship, morality and brotherly love.  


The Thirty-third Degree is conferred by the Supreme Council upon members of the Rite in recognition of outstanding service to the Rite, or, in public life, to the principles taught in the Degrees. The 33° or KCCH cannot be asked for and if asked for must be refused. At its biennial session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the Degree. These 33° Masons are Inspectors General honorary and honorary members of the Supreme Council. The active members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among them.

At its biennial session certain 32° Masons who have attained the age of 35 years and have been 32° Masons at least 4 years, who have rendered signal service to the Rite, are chosen to receive the Rank and Decoration of Knights Commander of the Court of Honour. The decoration is conferred in a very impressive Ceremony of investiture in the local Bodies. This is a rank and decoration and not a degree. ‘l’he members who hold it are designated 32°. KCCH. A member must be a KCCH for at least four years before he can be nominated for election to receive the 33°

*Quotes are from Clausen's Commentaries on Morals and Dogma

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Last modified: March 22, 2014